Over the weekend, the overwhelming majority of SF Fandom smacked the Sad/Rabid Puppies on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper. It was a smashing victory for civility, when even those who normally enjoy the “old school” style of SF said “We’re not OK with you guys being assholes, cut it out.” No decent person will want to be on a Puppy slate after this. Matthew Foster put it better than I could*.
As by now I SHOULD HAVE expected, this has resulted in a number of Puppies saying that this is Fandom burning its own house, and crowing about a victory? Fascinating.
It’s wrong on so many levels that it’s hard to address them all. Primarily, the Puppies are using words (“burning down”, “salting the earth”, “nuking”, “pyrrhic”) that imply an action which weakens the winners. They seem to not understand the concept of You Never Negotiate With Terrorists. They are cowards, and they expect everyone else to act like cowards. I’m fortunate to live in a country where these sorts of fearful men are laughing stocks. I’m fortunate to be part of a fandom that feels the same.
But, as Alonzo Fyfe once pointed out, you can tell a lot about someone by the type of mistake they make, particularly when it is repeated and consistent. What can we infer about the Puppies** based on their claiming No Award as a victory?
We can assume they are the people who don’t actually care about Science Fiction at all, and certainly don’t care about SF Fandom. They are happy to see fandom “burned down”, and they hope to keep doing it again and again. They’re willing to pay money just to spite others.
This has been shown to be a losing tactic. I think we’re actually best served by signal-boosting their words. The vast majority of people are driven away by this sort of dickishness. The louder they proclaim it, the more people will turn against them.
The most interesting inference, however, is that they know they are weak. They don’t expect to gain any more followers, ever. They have maxed out their strength, and now they are working furiously at charging up the base. Why else employ a tactic that that alienates you from any new potential allies? Their leadership doesn’t expect further support, and is scared of losing the hardcore believers they already have. They know they are leading an army of cowards. They know that at the first sign of a loss cowards will turn tail and flee, leaving their leaders high and dry. They need to hold onto the fantasy that even a refutation as resounding as the spanking they got on Saturday is actually a win. Now they’re doing their best simply to avoid a rout.
Amplify their words. Let everyone see them thrashing about. Their own flailing damns them more than anything we could say. :)
*For those without Facebook, his public post says: “Gotta love this from Sarah Hoyt, (as I take the wording from the WSJ: …the “fury” of the reaction to the Puppies has proven their point. “That is the reaction of a small clique that has engaged in log rolling or years to reward its followers and those they approved of,” she said before the Hugo ceremony.
Too keep up the false narrative, she finally has to jettison the “small clique” that she claims runs everything, because it was a very, very big clique last night. It was...everyone except the pups. So I believe to recast her quote to makes sense, it would be,
“the fury of all of fandom against our small clique of puppies has proven our point: that all of fandom has engaged in voting for years to reward the stories they approve of–and we don’t like that.”
Yes, now it makes sense.”
**To be more accurate, I should specify I mean only the Puppies who do claim that. Not all Puppies fall in that category, and I don’t want to tar them all with the same brush. I will use the term “Puppies” in this post as short hand for “Puppies who think that No Award is a victory for them”, but please keep in mind that this isn’t all of them. I don’t even know if it’s a majority or not.