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George R.R. Martin’s Comments on the Hugos/Sad Puppies Don’t Endorse SJWs

Humpty Dumpty By Aravindan Rajasingham

Humpty Dumpty
By Aravindan Rajasingham

Papers that can’t be bothered with knowing anything about SF have gotten their pullquote on the Hugos/Sad Puppies situation from George R.R. Martin, the one living SF/F writer non-SF people actually know.

The Hugos have been broken. They’ve fallen and can’t get back up again. That’s what GRM said. Commence the SAD PUPPIES BROKE THE HUGOS FOREVER stories.

Just completely ignore his larger range of commentary across three blog posts in which he

1. Fails to call the Sad Puppies slate racists, sexists and cis scum and warns others who agree with him to refrain from doing so. The same sites and scribes quoting him to support an accusation that he rejects.

[[Once again, comments and dissent are welcome, but I expect courtesy from all parties. And yes, that means those of you who are on “my side” as well. Let’s not throw around insults, or charges of misogyny and racism, please.

And he tosses out the SJW tone policing argument

There’s a thing out there on the internet called “the Tone Argument.” Supposedly this is a bad, bad thing to do. In online discussions, one must never use the Tone Argument.

The way I have seen it work, dozens of times now, is that a debate or discussion starts out as a reasonable exchange of ideas, but then grows heated. Tempers fray, names are called, the posts get uglier and angrier… and someone, or maybe a bunch of someones, steps over the line and says something truly cruel or hurtful or just nasty. And the target, or maybe a bystander, objects and says, “no call for language like that” or “can’t we all calm down” or something along that line… whereupon a loud cry of “Tone Argument, Tone Argument, Tone Argument” goes up, and person who called for calm is shouted down or torn apart.

The essence of the trope seems to be that if you’re on my side, you can say anything you like, no matter how vicious or unkind or inflammatory, and I will defend not only your argument but your “right” to be as nasty as you want. If you’re on the other side, of course, well, that’s a whole different story. Then you might get silenced or moderated or banned.

There’s also a lot of rhetoric about kicking down and punching up and the like.

I say it’s spinach, and I say the hell with it.

I am against punching and kicking. Up, down, or sideways. No punching here, please.

I applaud the Tone Argument. The Tone Argument is valid. Yay for the Tone Argument.

Martin just shut down a major SJW tactic.

Why does Martin think Sad Puppies broke the Hugos? Context.

The Sad Puppies did not invent Hugo campaigning, by any means. But they escalated it, just as that magazine/publisher partnership did way back when. They turned it up to eleven. Their slate was more effective that anyone could ever have dreamed, so effective that they drowned out pretty much all the other voices. They ran the best organized, most focused, and most effective awards campaign in the history of our genre, and showed everyone else how it’s done.

The lesson will be learned. The Sad Puppies have already announced that they intend to do it again next year. Which means that other factions in fandom will have to do it as well. Just as happened with the “let me tell you about my eligible works,” the rest of the field is going to need to field slates of their own in self-defense.

I don’t look forward to that. It cheapens the Hugos. Will future winners actually be the best books or stories? Or only the books and stories that ran the best campaigns?

Martin is taking issue with the effectiveness of the Sad Puppies slate. He admits with some caveats that campaigning always existed, but that it’s going to scale up. He criticizes Sad Puppies for controlling the outcome, but the outcome was already being controlled for a while before Sad Puppies got into the mix.

He ought to know that.

George R.R. Martin makes other objections, mostly cultural stuff that pigeonholes the Sad Puppies guys and girls as military SF fans who should stay out of WorldCon (someone should have told Heinlein that) because it’s not really theirs. That’s Trufan stuff I’m not going to bother parsing. I have issues with the SP people, but they’re truer fans than the Neil Gaiman and Joss Whedon fangirls who took a field defined by Asimov, Clarke and Heinlein and tried to turn it into a bad emo graphic novel.

The objections are weak and he recognizes that. They’re Get Off My Lawn stuff.

An honest sum of Martin’s posts is that he thinks that things are changing in ways that he doesn’t like, and he directs some of the blame at Sad Puppies, people he doesn’t seem too familiar with and doesn’t like, but that he admits were happening anyway.

He’s complaining because a good type of campaigning (insiders trading votes) got traded for a bad type of campaigning (online faction slates out in the open).

I’m not a fan of Martin or Sad Puppies, but I can see their good sides. I see nothing good about the current rotten system. It was a comfortable state of affairs in Martin’s day and some writers lost out but the overall quality was high. The overall quality is terrible now and Science Fiction is losing out.

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