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Gene Wolfe

April 27, 2015 at 4:53 pm
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The NEW YORKER has run a major profile of Gene Wolfe. Good reading, for the Wolfe fans out there… and an intriguing introduction to one of the field’s greatest writers, for those who have yet to sample his work.

You can check it out yourself at

The article becomes especially apt in light of the ongoing Hugo Wars.

One of the claims of the Sad Puppies has been that certain writers in our field have been wrongly overlooked when the rockets were being handed out. There is a certain amount of truth to that (please note, that unlike many on the other side, I am capable of conceding a point from time to time). We all know the names of the “overlooked writers” that the Puppies chose to champion.

I have my own list, very different from theirs. At the top of it is the name GENE WOLFE.

Gene Wolfe has never won a Hugo.

Nebulas, yes. World Fantasy Awards, yes. Locus Awards, BSFA Awards, Campbell Memorial Award (not to be confused with the Campbell New Writer award). Even the Rhysling Award for poetry, and something called the August Derleth Award. But never a Hugo. Eight nominations, zero wins.

I would rank Wolfe as one of the greatest SF and fantasy writers of the past half-century, right up there with Roger Zelazny and Ursula K. Le Guin. Yet he remains without a rocket.

The Hugo Awards are not perfect, no. No more than any other award. Alfred Hitchcock never won an Oscar. That did not mean that the Oscars were in the hands of some secret cabal. Hitchcock, by all reports, would have liked to have won, but he never let it bother him. He just kept on making movies, and Gene Wolfe just keeps on writing great books.

Will he get a Hugo some day? Maybe. Maybe not. It doesn’t matter. His books will still be being read a hundred years from now. That’s the “award” that matters most.

Gene Wolfe: one of the great ones. And a class act.

Puppy Whines

April 27, 2015 at 2:36 pm
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Puppygate is the gift that keeps on giving.

Every time I think I have said all that needs to be said on the subject of the Hugo Awards, one of the Puppies does or says something else egregious, something I cannot let pass.

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I have tried to have a rational discussions of the issues here, addressing each of the claims put forward by the Sad Puppies and their supporters calmly, with arguments based on facts, history, common sense. Although I continue to disagree strongly with Larry Correia and Brad Torgersen on… well, on just about everything they say… I’ve managed to have a civilized and civil dialogue with both.

But beyond the borders of my own Live Journal, the dialogue has been anything but civil. And it grows more toxic and hateful with every exchange, it seems… especially from the Puppies.

Yes, it’s my old friend “the Tone Argument” again.

When we began this exchange, I pointed out that was going to call the Puppies “Puppies” because that was what they had named themselves. I asked for the same consideration, asked that they stop with the “Social Justice Warrior” stuff, because that was NOT what my side calls ourselves, and some of us find it offensive. Instead of respecting that request, the Puppies doubled down. ALmost every post from them is SJW this, SJW that. For some, the original term was not enough, so now they are talking about “Social Justice Whores” and other twists on the term. And Brad Torgersen himself, seemingly not content with SJW and SMOF, has gone out of his way to come up with CHORF, a new epithet that he is using at every opportunity.

This is not the way to argue, not the way to exchange ideas, not the way to have a dialogue. Someone who takes pride in coming up with new mocking epithets and insults to hurl at his opponents is telling the world that he has no interest in debate, that he would rather just spit and hiss and jeer. And then there’s the curious Puppy trick of mocking themselves, with an air of outrage, implying that the hated “SJWs” have called them these names… which is bullshit. Brad’s latest blog post, proudly trumpeting that he is a “hateful hater who hates,” is just the latest example of this. Before that, we’ve had the Puppies calling themselves Wrongfans having Wrongfun, or the Evil League of Evil, and similar stuff.

It all boggles the mind. And of course it leads to surreal arguments that ‘their side’ is justified in calling our side “Social Justice Whores” and the like because our side has called their side “Wrongfans” and “Haters” — when, of course, we haven’t. You are calling YOURSELVES that… with sarcasm, sure, but still, you are the guys coining all these new and exciting insults, for both my side and your own.

Let me ask, once again, for civility. When the argument is about political issues, I will call your side “conservatives” and “right wingers,” and I’d ask you to call us “liberals” or “progressives” or even “left wingers,” not SJ-Whatevers. When we are focused more on worldcon or the Hugos, I will continue to call you “Sad Puppies,” and I will take care to differentiate you from the Rabid Puppies… except in cases where you’re acting in alliance and agree, where I will just say “Puppies.” And you can call my side “fandom” or “worldcon fandom” or “trufans.” The two sides use “fan” to mean very different things, as I have pointed out repeatedly, which causes some of the confusion. Here’s a new thought: if you insist on calling yourselves “fans,” then call us “fen,” the ancient, hoary, fannish plural of fan. Fans and fen, there we go, two terms for two sides, no insults. Is that so bloody hard?

Also… can we please stop it with the moronic World War II metaphors? Larry Correia is not Churchill, Brad Torgersen is not FDR, and no one is Hitler. We are not fighting the Battle of the Bulge. No matter how the Hugo vote goes, no one is going to a death camp to be gassed.
This is not a fight for freedom, on which the fate of western civilization depends. We are talking about a literary award here. Bottom line, we are arguing about whether the mantle of past Hugo winners like Robert A. Heinlein, Ursula K. Le Guin, Alfred Bester, and Robert Silverberg should be passing to Anne Leckie, John Scalzi, and Jo Walton, or rather to Brad Torgersen, John Wright, and Kevin J. Anderson. This is an argument about what makes a good story, about prose style and characterization and theme and originality. We do not need to make it a blood feud. Have a little sense of proportion, Puppies.

And really, stop it with all the vitriol. Or the rest of the world may actually start to take you seriously when you named yourselves ‘hateful haters who hate.’