Tor and Sad/Rabid Puppies

There is a war going on in the blogosphere between certain employees of Tor, the once great publisher of scifi/fantasy, and the proponents of alternate slates for the Hugo, the Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies. I have watched it with some interest, since I am undoubtedly one of those the Puppies in general would not like, but I have found their position actually has merit.

There was a time, many years ago, when one could buy a book honored with the Hugo award and know that the book would be well written, well edited, and thought provoking. This has not been the case for several years, I am sorry to report. In fact, there was a time, again many years ago, that one could buy a book published by Tor, and have a good read that might be thought provoking but was at minimum a good story well told. This is sadly no longer the case. I used to buy a Tor book even if the blurb wasn’t particularly inviting, because I trusted Tor. This is no longer the case.

Tor employees have attacked the Sad/Rabid Puppies as racist, misogynist, right wing whackos. The fact is that this reviling became much louder after the Sad Puppy slate won most of the Hugo niminations. What? They outvoted you? Doesn’t this sound like the Republicans after our current president was elected? Are you sure you want to go there?

As for me, as a longtime reader and fan of scifi and fantasy, I no longer pay attention to the Hugo. It has become a tiny, parochial award instead of the great honor it used to be. Many of the authors who won it in the past would be discarded now as old white men, in spite of the brilliant, ground breaking work they did.  It makes no sense. And for a publishing company to get into this argument through its employees is unacceptable. The Hugo used to be an award to tell fans that a work was great and worthy of reading. When it has become such a small thing, a publishing company is certainly taking its life in its hands by stooping to get involved in the fight.

The whole mess leaves a very bad taste in my mouth. For a group of writers to have to propose an alternate slate because the guardians of an award have neglected over half of the good books published in a year is inexcusable.

White men have as much a right to be read and heard as do all the other permutations of writers. I’m an elderly white woman still trying to perfect a book that is worthy of publishing. By the time I’m ready, will old white women join old white men on the no-go list? And who decides?

Political correctness carried to an extreme is as bad as any other philosophy or religion. Do the politically correct at Tor and the Hugo want to be compared to the Taliban or Isis? Because that’s where you’re headed. Extremism in any venture is inherently unstable.

4 thoughts on “Tor and Sad/Rabid Puppies

  1. Martha Kennedy

    You know why I had to quit teaching Brave New World, right? One of my African American students said, “This is Whitey’s book.” She stood up in class and said that and said she refused to read it. There was almost a girl fight between her and another African American girl who was TRYING to read the book and didn’t appreciate AAG 1 interrupting me when I was lecturing and fielding questions. The fact was that it was too difficult for AAG 1, probably for AAG 2 (and others in the class but that’s the point of school, right?). I didn’t take the book off the list. She complained to the Equal Opportunity Program at my college. I was “advised” to choose books for my “entire class” not just a few. Two years later the girl had transferred to the university and she saw me there. At that point she came over and apologized. She said, “I didn’t know how hard it would be here. You were trying to help us prepare.” I nodded. We hugged, but I never taught Brave New World again.

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    1. bhalsop Post author

      The whole issue of saying that a book isn’t good or shouldn’t be read because it challenges us or writes from a different perspective than our own strikes me as a peculiarly ineffective way to educate people in our society. If we can’t place ourselves in a stranger’s shoes, why the hell should we read anyway?

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  2. bhalsop Post author

    I don’t quite agree with you there. Though the current round of testing certainly seems to support you. You and I went to school long before they had programs for gifted children. We were taught at the same pace as the mediocre and lesser students and they wondered why we acted out and were uncontrollable. Only in high school was I given the chance of an A.P. class and it was only in English. But then we read a lot and a broad range of books. And a voracious reader was encouraged to read more than humanly possible. Schools can teach, just not necessarily what they want to teach.

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