This is Reblogged from Armed and Dangerous


Good causes sometimes have bad consequences. Blacks, women, and other historical out-groups were right to demand equality before the law and the full respect and liberties due to any member of our civilization; but the tactics they used to “raise consciousness” have sometimes veered into the creepy and pathological, borrowing the least sane features of religious evangelism.

One very notable pathology is a form of argument that, reduced to essence, runs like this: “Your refusal to acknowledge that you are guilty of {sin,racism,sexism, homophobia,oppression…} confirms that you are guilty of {sin,racism,sexism, homophobia,oppression…}.” I’ve been presented with enough instances of this recently that I’ve decided that it needs a name. I call this general style of argument “kafkatrapping”, and the above the Model A kafkatrap. In this essay, I will show that the kafkatrap is a form of argument that is so fallacious and manipulative that those subjected to it are entitled to reject it based entirely on the form of the argument, without reference to whatever particular sin or thoughtcrime is being alleged. I will also attempt to show that kafkatrapping is so self-destructive to the causes that employ it that change activists should root it out of their own speech and thoughts.

My reference, of course, is to Franz Kafka’s “The Trial”, in which the protagonist Josef K. is accused of crimes the nature of which are never actually specified, and enmeshed in a process designed to degrade, humiliate, and destroy him whether or not he has in fact committed any crime at all. The only way out of the trap is for him to acquiesce in his own destruction; indeed, forcing him to that point of acquiescence and the collapse of his will to live as a free human being seems to be the only point of the process, if it has one at all.

This is almost exactly the way the kafkatrap operates in religious and political argument. Real crimes – actual transgressions against flesh-and-blood individuals – are generally not specified. The aim of the kafkatrap is to produce a kind of free-floating guilt in the subject, a conviction of sinfulness that can be manipulated by the operator to make the subject say and do things that are convenient to the operator’s personal, political, or religious goals. Ideally, the subject will then internalize these demands, and then become complicit in the kafkatrapping of others.

Sometimes the kafkatrap is presented in less direct forms. A common variant, which I’ll call the Model C, is to assert something like this: “Even if you do not feel yourself to be guilty of {sin,racism,sexism, homophobia,oppression…}, you are guilty because you have benefited from the {sinful,racist,sexist,homophobic,oppressive,…} behavior of others in the system.” The aim of the Model C is to induce the subject to self-condemnation not on the basis of anything the individual subject has actually done, but on the basis of choices by others which the subject typically had no power to affect. The subject must at all costs be prevented from noticing that it is not ultimately possible to be responsible for the behavior of other free human beings.

A close variant of the model C is the model P: “Even if you do not feel yourself to be guilty of {sin,racism,sexism, homophobia,oppression…}, you are guilty because you have a privileged position in the {sinful,racist,sexist,homophobic,oppressive,…} system.” For the model P to work, the subject must be prevented from noticing that the demand to self-condemn is not based on the subject’s own actions or choices or feelings, but rather on an in-group identification ascribed by the operator of the kafkatrap.

It is essential to the operation of all three of the variants of the kafkatrap so far described that the subject’s attention be deflected away from the fact that no wrongdoing by the subject, about which the subject need feel personally guilty, has actually been specified. The kafkatrapper’s objective is to hook into chronic self-doubt in the subject and inflate it, in much the same way an emotional abuser convinces a victim that the abuse is deserved – in fact, the mechanism is identical. Thus kafkatrapping tends to work best on weak and emotionally vulnerable personalities, and poorly on personalities with a strong internalized ethos.

In addition, the success of a model P kafkatrap depends on the subject not realizing that the group ascription pinned on by the operator can be rejected. The subject must be prevented from asserting his or her individuality and individual agency; better, the subject must be convinced that asserting individuality is yet another demonstration of denial and guilt. Need it be pointed out how ironic this is, given that kafkatrappers (other than old-fashioned religious authoritarians) generally claim to be against group stereotyping?

There are, of course, other variants. Consider the model S: “Skepticism about any particular anecdotal account of {sin,racism,sexism,homophobia,oppression,…}, or any attempt to deny that the particular anecdote implies a systemic problem in which you are one of the guilty parties, is itself sufficient to establish your guilt.” Again, the common theme here is that questioning the discourse that condemns you, condemns you. This variant differs from the model A and model P in that a specific crime against an actual person usually is in fact alleged. The operator of the kafkatrap relies on the subject’s emotional revulsion against the crime to sweep away all questions of representativeness and the basic fact that the subject didn’t do it.

I’ll finish my catalog of variants with the verson of the kafkatrap that I think is most likely to be deployed against this essay, the Model L: “Your insistence on applying rational skepticism in evaluating assertions of pervasive {sin,racism,sexism,homophobia, oppression…} itself demonstrates that you are {sinful,racist,sexist,homophobic,oppressive,…}.” This sounds much like the Model S, except that we are back in the territory of unspecified crime here. This version is not intended to induce guilt so much as it is to serve as a flank guard for other forms of kafkatrapping. By insisting that skepticism is evidence of an intention to cover up or excuse thoughtcrime, kafkatrappers protect themselves from having their methods or motives questioned and can get on with the serious business of eradicating thoughtcrime.

Having shown how manipulative and psychologically abusive the kafkatrap is, it may seem almost superfluous to observe that it is logically fallacious as well. The particular species of fallacy is sometimes called “panchreston”, an argument from which anything can be deduced because it is not falsifiable. Notably, if the model A kafkatrap is true, the world is divided into two kinds of people: (a) those who admit they are guilty of thoughtcrime, and (b) those who are guilty of thoughtcrime because they will not admit to being guilty of thoughtcrime. No one can ever be innocent. The subject must be prevented from noticing that this logic convicts and impeaches the operator of the kafkatrap!

I hope it is clear by now that the particular flavor of thoughtcrime alleged is irrelevant to understanding the operation of kafkatraps and how to avoid being abused and manipulated by kafkatrappers. In times past the kafkatrapper was usually a religious zealot; today, he or she is just as likely to be advancing an ideology of racial, gender, sexual-minority, or economic grievance. Whatever your opinion of any of these causes in their ‘pure’ forms may be, there are reasons that the employment of kafkatrapping is a sure sign of corruption.

The practice of kafkatrapping corrupts causes in many ways, some obvious and some more subtle. The most obvious way is that abusive and manipulative ways of controlling people tend to hollow out the causes for which they are employed, smothering whatever worthy goals they may have begun with and reducing them to vehicles for the attainment of power and privilege over others.

A subtler form of corruption is that those who use kafkatraps in order to manipulate others are prone to fall into them themselves. Becoming unable to see out of the traps, their ability to communicate with and engage anyone who has not fallen in becomes progressively more damaged. At the extreme, such causes frequently become epistemically closed, with a jargon and discourse so tightly wrapped around the logical fallacies in the kafkatraps that their doctrine is largely unintelligible to outsiders.

These are both good reasons for change activists to consider kafkatraps a dangerous pathology that they should root out of their own causes. But the best reason remains that kafkatrapping is wrong. Especially, damningly wrong for anyone who claims to be operating in the cause of freedom.

UPDATE: A commenter pointed out the Model D: “The act of demanding a definition of {sin,racism,sexism,homophobia,oppression} that can be consequentially checked and falsified proves you are {sinful,racist,sexist, homophobic, oppressive}.”

UPDATE2: The Model M: “The act of arguing against the theory of anti-{sin,racism,sexism,homophobia,oppression} demonstrates that you are either {sinful,racist,sexist, homophobic, oppressive} or do not understand the theory of anti-{sin,racism,sexism,homophobia,oppression}, and your argument can therefore be dismissed as either corrupt or incompetent.”

Model T: Designated victims of {sin,racism,sexism,homophobia,oppression} who question any part of the theory of {sin,racism,sexism,homophobia,oppression} demonstrate by doing so that they are not authentic members of the victim class, so their experience can be discounted and their thoughts dismissed as internalized {sin,racism,sexism,homophobia,oppression}.

Tribalism is as tribalism does

Tribalism is as tribalism does

I told George R. R. Martin I’d be writing this post — as a result of some of the polite dialogue we had at his LiveJournal page. His basic question to me was, “How can you, as a guy in an interracial marriage, put up with some of the racist and sexist stuff (a certain person) writes on his blog?” I thought this a valid question. How indeed? I didn’t have the space on LiveJournal to unpack all of my thoughts and feelings on the dread ism topic, so I thought I would do it here.

When I was a teenager, concepts like racism and sexism seemed easy to understand. People who are sexist, think the opposite gender are inferior human beings. People who are racist, think people of opposite ethnicities are inferior human beings. Both concepts are morally wrong. What seemed obvious, was obvious. I’d had this idea spoon-fed to me since I was old enough to go to school, so I went about my life generally trying to be the kind of guy who avoided ist stuff so as to not be guilty of the ominous ism label.

After I got married, though, the actual complexity of racism, sexism, and other, similar things, started to become clearer. Especially since nobody can quite arrive at a consensus as to what constitutes ism. There is no agreement. Simply a spectrum, from hot to cold. At the cold end you have people who give tremendous benefit of the doubt to almost any word or action. No harm, no foul. It takes a lot for such people to begin using the ist andism labels. Conversely, at the hot end are the people who see ist and ism at the drop of a hat. Everyone and everything is freighted with ist and ism. There are none who are “clean” and all are guilty.

Perhaps ironically — for an interracially married guy — while the social drama of our era has ratcheted toward the hot, I’ve slowly found myself drifting toward the cool. Not because I think ist and ism do not exist — they do. But because I think a lot of what we label as racist and sexist is actually culturalist tribalism. Even America’s dyed-in-the-wool progressives are prone to this one. Ask a Seattle coffee house progressive what she thinks of Alabama “cracker” folk. Or ask a New York socialist atheist for his opinion on conservative Utah Mormons. You will find, often, that even the minds who proclaim themselves to be the most open and the most tolerant, have sharp limits. Because even though multiculturalism is practically an iron-clad gospel at this point, everyone can identify tribes they are distrustful of, if not openly hostile toward.

So, as I enter my fifth decade of life, I strongly suspect ethnicity is — very often — the lesser part of it. Gender too. Ethnicity and gender are flags. Markers. Identifiers. If ever some other flag or marker offsets the original, the equation changes.

One example that leaps to my mind: back when I was an NCO, I had a Small Group Leader (SGL) at one of the Army’s NCO schools who had emigrated out of central Africa, come to the U.S., and joined the U.S. military. He said that he found it very interesting, as a born African, trying to navigate among American blacks and whites alike. Based purely on how he looked, he would be treated one way — right up until he opened his mouth. At which point his accent identified him as something remarkably other than black American. Whites who had been cool to him (in the literal sense) would sometimes warm up. Blacks who had been warm, would cool down. Sometimes, even turn hostile?

Another example: depending on how my wife styles her hair, she can (and does) pass for hispanic, black, or pacific islander. Yet, growing up in Hawaii among a family of all-adopted brothers and sisters, she found herself constantly at war with the children outside her home: white kids, Japanese Hawaiian kids, and full-blooded Hawaiian kids. She experienced constant fist-fights. Brutal stuff. Up through high school. Why couldn’t she pass through all of this unscathed? What made her so different that no ethnic group — save the Chinese Hawaiians — were reliably safe for her?

Getting back to my SGL at the NCO school, something else he said struck me strongly: nobody in America really knows ethnic strife the way he saw it, because he literally witnessed portions of his family wiped out by what essentially amounted to tribal warfare. To white American eyes, there’d have been no discernible difference between the people killing each other. But the Africans themselves knew the difference, and considered it a difference worth murdering each other over.

The SGL in question therefore found 21st century American racial tension to be both familiar, and also utterly foreign. Small potatoes, compared to his experience.

So how do you overcome small-potatoes tribalism? Sometimes, by simply creating a new over-arching tribe from whole cloth.

In the U.S. military, we endure a breaking-in period known as Initial Entry Training — boot camp. It’s specifically designed to make everyone look the same, talk the same, and to a certain extent, think the same. We are thus inculcated (as opposed to acculturated) into the new “tribe” to the extent that prior ethnic, religious, lingual, and other barriers, become offset. Not erased entirely, but offset. We adopt a new tribal identity. One that can become so powerful, men and women from different parts of the country, even different parts of the world, identify so strongly with the single tribe that we find these bonds stronger than almost anything else. Sometimes, even stronger than blood or birth. We wear the uniforms, we share the experiences. We talk a certain way. Look at life through a certain lens.

We can also speak to shared hardship. In fact, there is practically no greater social glue, than to make a group of individuals all go through the same shitty thing — together.

This is usually why U.S. military veterans — any branch, any era — can almost instantly find common ground. Despite all the many things in their lives which might differentiate them.

Folks, I believe strongly that all of this is wired into us. As author and philosopher Steven Barnes consistently says: every person is built to be tribal. We can’t escape it. It’s part of who we are. If you ask Steve, he’ll say that someone is “awake” when (s)he makes a conscious effort to be aware of inherent tribal tendencies, and shape them (or even eschew them) for the sake of nobler sentiments, nobler goals, and a greater self-awareness that goes above and beyond identity.

And make no mistake: identity is at the heart of the social discussion in the 21st century. To include identity politics.

So, when the news makes noise about some racist police officer shooting an umarmed black teenager, or rapper Azealia Banks talks about how she hates white midwestern Americans, I think in the back of my mind: There it is — there is the tribalism. In Azealia’s case, she is merely using words. The cop is killing a person. But in both instances, the root of the problem goes back to tribalism. For the cop, young black teenage males represent a “tribe” of troublemakers, gangbangers, hoodlums, petty thieves, and drug dealers. All dangerous, and all untrustworthy. On the flip side, for many black Americans, white cops also represent a kind of “tribe” which is also dangerous, hair-trigger, not to be trusted, prone to never giving the benefit of the doubt, predictably suspicious, and so forth. Both “tribes” have valid historical evidence for how they feel about the other tribe.

And both tribes key on external markers, when identifying the other tribe. Flags which can be offset by contra-flags.

Consider: black teen male walking down a neighborhood street, when a white off-duty cop steps to the door. The teen is wearing long-hung blue jeans, work boots with the laces missing or untied, the top of his boxer shorts is visible, he has on a hoodie, and a baseball cap with the visor cocked at forty-five degrees. What are the off-duty white cop’s assumptions — regarding the young black male and his potential tribe?

Consider again: black teen male walking down a neighborhood street, this time dressed in a baby blue oxford shirt, pressed cotton slacks, matte-shine black business loafers, wearing glasses, and carrying a book bag. Will the same off-duty cop’s assumptions change? Yes, or no.

Now, flip it.

Black college student walking home from campus at night, sees an old white guy sitting near a lamp post, wearing a tattered U.S. Army surplus jacket, soiled pants, with a long greasy beard on his face, and long greasy hair shrouding his head, while he’s holding a paper sack with a bottle neck sticking out of it. What’s the tribal assumption, on the part of the black college student?

Try again: black college student walks home from campus, sees the same old white guy, but this time the old man’s been washed up, his beard is gone, and his hair is neatly combed and trimmed, plus he’s in a new suit with an expensive tie, and his eyes are alert and sober. Different tribal assumption, right?

See, all of us do this every day without even thinking about it. Who’s in my tribe? Are you in my tribe? And if you don’t look like you’re in my tribe, are you in a tribe that’s cool with my tribe, or un-cool with my tribe? Maybe you don’t seem to be in my tribe, until we talk about a shared interest or a shared experience — something not obvious on the surface — and we instantly discover the tribal bond? What if we think we share a tribal bond, but conversation reveals we’re on opposite ends of something? Like religion, or politics? Does the division strain or sever the tribal identification?

My SGL from NCO school became out-tribe (for some black Americans) when he talked, because his African accent contradicted his physical flag: his ethnicity. He was not “of the tribe” many black Americans thought him to be.

My wife was also not “of the tribe” when young. She didn’t fit. The way she talked, marked her as out-tribe. The way she looked, also marked her as out-tribe. There was no tribe for her. Kids being kids, they made the question it into a physical confrontation. My wife being my wife, she finished every fight they started. Dozens of times. Her childhood doesn’t have many happy memories in this regard. And to this day, there are still ways she (and we, as a couple) are deemed out-tribe.

For instance: No matter which state we’ve lived in, grocery stores are a common place to find we’re out-tribe. If there is a white family at the check-out line ahead of us, and the white clerk is chatty and cheerful with that family, as soon as my wife and I show up, the clerk goes cold. Minimal interactivity. No overt words or actions of hostility. Just . . . a palpable withdrawing. For whatever reasons, my wife and I are suddenly out-tribe. Either because the clerk is making assumptions about my wife, or making assumptions about both of us because we’re together, but we look different.

That doesn’t happen every day. But I’ve seen it happen enough to know it’s a thing. And no, I don’t think these clerks are doing it consciously. It’s tribal.

And tribalism is everywhere. It’s who we are. On every continent.

When I went to Italy with the Army, I discovered that the northern Italians often had certain feelings toward the southern Italians, and vice versa.

Soccer (football) fans in Europe and the UK are notorious for being tribal to the point of death and violence.

Hell, ask Boston Red Sox fans and New York Yankees fans about their “tribes” in the sports world.

And we are all actively working to create tribes amongst ourselves all the time. Sports, music, clothing, enthusiasms like video games and comic books and fiction. Do you love a thing? Do others love the same thing? Are you now a kind of tribe? If you love the thing enough, do you begin to speak a similar language, reference the same touchstones — a touchstone being an object or a concept or an idea that is familiar to everyone? Do you begin to create in-jokes and humor specific to the group? Do you have closeness that cuts across other differences that might separate you?

Yup. Tribalism.

Most of us in the developed West seem to pretend that we’re beyond tribalism, or that tribalism is somehow primitive.

I think it’s part of being human, and helps us to define who and what we are.

In both good ways, and bad.

Consider tribalism in Science Fiction & Fantasy: SF/F.

Moskowitz versus the Futurians? The Campbellians versus the New Wave? Worldcon versus Sad Puppies?

The Fandom (capital f) that created the World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) were a tribe so dedicated to their shared enthusiasm, they formalized it. Gave it rules and expectations. An institution was born. New people coming into the institution had to be inculcated much as anyone joining a religion or the military might also be inculcated. Totems (like the Hugo awards) were erected and celebrated.

And Sad Puppies 3 came to the “tribe” in 2015, wearing baggy pants below the waist, visible boxer shorts, untied work boots, and a hat cocked at forty five degrees. Or, if you prefer, Sad Puppies 3 pulled Worldcon over on the highway: maglite aimed through Worldcon’s driver’s-side window, while Sad Puppies 3 asked for license and registration.

The reaction — especially among certain vocal members of Fandom — was less than enthused.

“The tribe! The tribe is at stake! Invaders have come! Protect the totem! Save the totem!

Now, I’ve tried to explain this before: a huge part of the deal with this whole nerd fight, is that the Hugo awards don’t just brand as “The award of the Worldcon tribe.” The Hugos (and the Worldcon tribe alike) brand the Hugo as the award for the entirety of SF/F: books, stories, movies, television, music, art, you name it. This is not just the totem of the single SF/F tribe. This is the totem of all the SF/F tribes.

But the single tribe (Worldcon) wants the exclusive right to decide how the totem gets distributed — to which tribe members, and for what kinds of work.

It’s the totem of all, but to be decided by only some.

That — right there — is the root of the conflict. Totem of of all, decided by some. Sad Puppies 3 (and to a certain extent, Sad Puppies 2 and Sad Puppies 1) made the audacious claim that the totem for all, should be decided by all. Anyone willing to pay the poll tax (Worldcon membership) should have a say. We invited everyone to the democratic process. We didn’t care who was or was not in the “tribe” of World Science Fiction Society. This is the totem of all! And the rules pretty much make it so that all can participate!

But the Worldcon tribe — or at least certain vocal members within the tribe — have gone full-retard-tribal about the affront to “their” award, and “their” convention. So it’s tribe-vs-tribe. Are you in-tribe or out-tribe? How can anyone tell? Are you “of the body” of the tribe? Were you inculcated? No? Then what the hell are you doing coming to our tribal ground and fucking with our totem? It’s ours, dammit! Not yours! Ours!!

Protestations about propriety are merely bureaucratic dressing for tribal reactionary mud-slinging.

Mud-slinging which was taken to the broader media by a few tribe-members determined to “nuke” us invaders: Sad Puppies.

But not just us alone. We were almost incidental. The partisans of the Worldcon tribe had a more serious foe in mind.

Because of all the things most frightening to the Worldcon tribe, the worst are the Visigoths of Vox Day. Not just an out-tribe, Vox and his fans represent an explicitly war-like and hostile tribe, come to seize the totem by brute means. So, some of the Worldcon tribe said, “No, we will destroy the totem first, before we let the Visigoths have it!” To which the Visigoths and their heathen king Vox replied, “If you destroy it this year, we will most certainly destroy it next year — and there is nothing you can do to stop us!”

Now, the heathen king is terrifying to the Worldcon tribe. He is a literal barbarian. He talks and walks and threatens like a barbarian. He’s not precisely the guy anyone planned on walking through the democratic door. But because the Hugo voting process isdemocratic, nobody can be barred for purely tribal reasons. You pay your poll tax, you get a vote. The Worldcon tribe stares at both Sad Puppies 3 and the Rabid Puppies with equal dismay.

Me? I’m not in it to destroy anything.

I just want the totem to reflect the wider influence of the big world of various tribes who all have claim to it. Because that’s where I came from. Out there. Not the “inside” Worldcon tribe. I’m from the wilderness tribes who knew nothing of conventions or Fandom (big F) in our youth. We simply liked what we liked, and we were fans — because nobody could tell us not to be fans. And I maintain — still — that there is nobody to tell us we’re not fans. So the totem is ours too. We have claim on it. It is “the most prestigious award” for everybody. And everybody agrees on this.

Either that, or change the branding, and call the Hugos, “The little award, for the littlecrowd at Worldcon.”

Heck, while we’re at it, stop calling it Worldcon. Any given Comic Con can boast a bigger world-wide attendance than even the Worldcons done outside North America.

And stop pretending you care about “diversity” when the Worldcon tribe reacts with extreme revulsion any time truly different people want to come have a seat at the table.

Maybe call it Legacycon, to reflect that it’s the legacy gathering of legacy fans who trace their roots back to the old days? Before SF/F went big and took over the entertainment world.

Or maybe call it Stuffycon: to reflect the hoity toity attitudes of the taste-makers who want to be sure the “wrong” kinds of fans aren’t voting in the “wrong” kinds of books, art, and stories.

Or maybe just be wholly transparent and call it White American Liberals Con — An inclusive, diverse place where everyone talks about the same things, has the same tastes, votes the same way, and looks at the world through the same pair of eyes. Whitelibbycon.With the trophy: whitelibbyrocket.

But wait, I am showing my tribal ass with these comments. See? See how that happens so fast? It’s tricksy, I tell you! Tricksy.

Because the ultimate question in a polyglot society — or a polyglot field of the arts — is whether or not you (and your tribe) can make room in your hearts and minds for the people from the other tribes. Are the other tribes really dangerous? Or are you simply worried that by letting the outside tribes mingle with the inside tribe, you will lose the authenticity and flavor that you believe makes your tribe special? How much are you willing to sacrifice to preserve your culture, versus allowing your culture to mix with others, and blend? We know these fears. They perk up every time a new wave of immigrants comes. Doesn’t matter if its Irish, German, Japanese, Italian, Chinese, or Mexican. People become very upset with the idea that the new tribe is going to wash away everything about the old tribe. Can the new tribe be assimilated? What if they won’t assimilate, what then? Is there any chance for harmony?

Think on that, oh ye purists of Worldcon.

Steve Davidson and Teresa Nielsen-Hayden talk like anti-Amnesty Republicans!

Now, I won’t speak for the heathen king or the riders of his war elephants. I will only speak for Sad Puppies 3.

Many of us were already “of the tribe”, or are at least capable of passing as tribe members when we want to. We know the lingo, we know the touchstones, we are familiar with the history. Maybe we don’t religiously attend Worldcon — maybe we don’t even do cons very much, because of travel and expenses — but this field is our field. These arts are our arts. We just want a seat at the table. And we want the totem to reflect the existence of all the many venerable pros and fans who have done every bit as much to keep this field alive — over the last three decades — as anyone in the Worldcon tribe proper.

Uncle Timmy? Kevin J. Anderson? Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show?They are entirely part of the fabric of the giant and expanding quilt of Science Fiction & Fantasy. But too many — the people who probably ought to go form Stuffycon — won’t acknowledge this.

You can’t claim your tribe is “inclusive” when you seek a laundry list of excuses to kick people (and their stuff) out of the tribe.

I’m hoping that — once the heat dies down this summer — people can be a little more “awake” in Steve Barnes’s words. A little less apt to let the tribal instinct get the better of their good intentions. And sure, maybe Larry Correia and I are guilty of it too. Certainly the out-tribe experience has created a tribalness and hostility all its own. Larry and both feel like we tried to parlay, and discovered parlay wasn’t possible. A more direct approach had to be taken. So we went to the streets and said, “Come to the democracy, one and all!”

I am sorry if the Worldcon tribe — Fandom — is unhappy. Yeah, I get it about the Visigoths. But even most of those guys aren’t bad either. They’re fans too. And the GamerGaters? Fans. Out-tribe, maybe. But fans. Don’t buy all the scary bad press. In fact, don’t buy any of the scary bad press. The other tribes love this field too. Perhaps not in precisely the same way that you do, oh tender-souled Worldcon long-timers. But then, being “awake” also means realizing that change is inevitable. If Worldcon (and the Hugos) are going to thrive, and retain relevance, the out-tribe folk are going to have to be let in the door, allowed to come to all the parties, and given a full share of the say.

The virtual reality headset that’s more immersive than Oculus Rift (Yeah, the way your Maserati is nicer than my Toyota)

The virtual reality headset that’s more immersive than Oculus Rift

Virtual reality goes high-definition courtesy of a new company in Prague.

It may already be too late for Palmer Luckey to start looking over his shoulder.

That’s because VR Union, a two-year old startup based in Prague, has leapfrogged his advances in virtual reality by creating virtual-reality goggles with a display that is triple the resolution of anything else available on the market.

VR Union isn’t widely known, but that’s likely to change. Its breakthrough—ultra-high definition, or “4K” in industry parlance, head-mounted displays—brings the VR world closer than ever to a fully immersive and believable experience, one that seems drawn from The Matrix.

“We believe that VR is on an inevitable path to higher-resolution, better-quality displays,” says Michael Buckwald, CEO of Silicon Valley-based Leap Motion, a company that has developed a platform for motion control in VR. “4K is an exciting next step to make VR more immersive.”

When 22-year-old Luckey sold his company, Oculus VR, to Facebook FB 1.63% for $2 billion in 2014, the deal signaled that virtual reality, a technology that has existed for decades, was again worth paying attention to. Irvine, Calif.-based Oculus is credited with developing the world’s first commercially viable VR goggles, but its Rift headset has been criticized for its relatively low-resolution display. Its latest generation DK2 headset displays four million pixels, or roughly the equivalent of a high-definition TV.

VR Union, on the other hand, has developed and commercially deployed a display with 12 million pixels, a resolution seen only on ultra high-definition TVs and tablet computers.

“Once here, 4K head mounted displays will certainly add to what VR content and app developers can work with in terms of being able to deliver quality VR experiences,” says Brian Blau, research director for consumer technology at Gartner, the market research firm.

The Holy Grail of VR, of course, is to create an experience that makes it impossible for the user to distinguish between fiction and reality.

In its Claire headset, VR Union repurposes liquid crystal display, or LCD, technology—the same kind of high-resolution IPS panels manufactured for computer displays and smartphones. IPS technology, which dates to the 1980s, can efficiently change the direction of liquid crystal molecules to create vivid colors with strong contrast. In contrast, Oculus uses AMOLED—active-matrix organic light-emitting diode—display technology that is newer but sacrifices image quality for faster pixel response, a desirable feature in the fast-paced gaming environments for which the Rift headset is intended.

“We found IPS technology to be exactly what we needed to create the immersive cinematic experience we were looking for,” says Karel Hulec, 23, co-founder of VR Union. Hulec dropped out of his university studies to found the company.

VR Union Claire headset
The VR Union Claire virtual reality headset.Courtesy: Martin Curda/VR Union

VR Union also found a way to leverage Fresnel lens technology, originally developed by French physicist Augustin-Jean Fresnel for lighthouses in 1823. The tech allows for a nearly 180-degree field of vision and makes it possible for users to wear prescription glasses inside the headset. In contrast, Oculus uses a conventional heavier aspheric lens, similar to a handheld magnifying glass, that offers a 100-degree field of vision. VR Union says the conventional approach disturbs complete immersion by creating the effect of peering through two short tubes.

Dozens of display companies, including Sony SNE 0.22% and Samsung, are vying to become the global standard for VR goggles before they become a mainstream device.

VR Union has deployed its technology in a commercial environment by hooking up with FlyPrague, a VR experience launched in 2014 that takes tourists on a Peter Pan-style flight over the medieval towers and spires of the Czech capital. “Resolution is definitely the most critical point,” says Martin Ralis, 29-year-old co-founder and CEO of Prague-based Flight Tours, which launched the FlyPrague experience. VR Union is also selling its VR goggles to amusement parks in China.

Ralis believes other industries, including such as real estate and travel, will want to use high-definition VR technology. “Show me someone who would rather watch a promotional video than explore the Left Bank in Paris or a Mayan ruin,” he says. “The global standard for VR will be set by 4K resolution, just as color TV became the global standard when it first appeared.”

Reiner Schneeberger, director of Germany’s Programmed Art Foundation, a non-profit trust dedicated to digital art and VR, says the industry is on the cusp of a VR system that businesses can use. “Apart from resolution, the breakthrough at VR Union is in integration,” says Schneeberger, a 57-year-old pioneer of VR who in the early 1990s developed one of the first ever gaming chairs that moves in response to the action on the screen. “It’s in the company’s ability to create a stable 24/7 solution for a satisfying customer experience.”

Meanwhile, the arms race continues. Facebook-owned Oculus is expected to release the successor to its DK2, code-named Crescent Bay, in 2015. For its part, VR Union is developing 5K goggles. “We’re quite close to making it work and putting it into small batch production in February 2015,” Hulec says. The company is also talking with Konica Minolta and Leap Motion for commercial-scale production that goes far beyond gaming and home entertainment.

“Virtual reality will impact our lives mostly as a completely new workspace,” Hulec says, “and as a new social and educational experience.”

Smart Dog

Reblogged from The Sacred Cow Slaughterhouse

Smart Dog

Feb 21, 201501:45AM
Category: General 

My daughter’s boyfriend’s dog Halo is at the house for a few days due to some weather issues.  She’s a Jack Russell/Chihuahua mix, small and lithe.

The first day over, he put her in the garage to keep her away from the cats and the allergic person (me). He took a nap before work.

A couple of hours later, she scratched at the garage door, and I let her in. He hadn’t turned the lights on, and I expect she was bored.

She trotted down the hall, came back to the kitchen, and spoke to me in body language.

“Hello.  I can’t find my boy.”

I pointed down the hall and said, “First door on the left.”  She raised haunches and lowered her head, “Thank you,” and sure enough, she went right there, walked into the room, and looked up to see him sleeping on the bed.

“Yes, I see my boy.  But this is your house.”

I said, “Yes, you can get on the bed,” and pointed.

Again the thank you nod, and she jumped up and curled up at his side. She didn’t move for four hours, and leaves the cats completely alone. She’ll stay in whichever room she’s told to stay in, patiently awaiting human companionship or instruction.

You can tell a lot about a man by his dog.

– See more at: http://www.michaelzwilliamson.com/blog/item/smart-dog#sthash.jv7uGVdW.dpuf

The Message And The Story – An Explosive Tale

Reblogged from According to Hoyt

The Message And The Story – An Explosive Tale

Sorry this is late. I’m now on that stage of rewrite/revision in Through Fire where I don’t fully sleep. Or rather, I sleep to half dreams of wandering around the novel seeing what needs to change. I sleep, but I don’t stop working.

This is actually all good, since the changes I figured out tonight solidify character and strengthen the story, taking away some of the “random happens” bit I didn’t like about the end.

But it means I sleep later, because I keep waking in the middle of the night and going “oh, that.” And “Yeah, that would work better.”

So lately I’ve been thinking – partly through an exchange of emails with a friend – about story and message.

She interpreted my post on “everybody wants to change the world” as calling for just entertainment in stories.

It was and it wasn’t that. It would be the height of hypocrisy for the author of the Darkship series to say there shouldn’t be messages in stories.

But part of it is that I doubt the effectiveness of overt messages in stories. I don’t scruple to say I was raised by Heinlein, nor that I wasn’t the only one. The man might have had no biological kids, but he has sons and daughters all over the world, including me.

But then we have to look at how he raised me. Remember I came at Heinlein through (mostly) the later books because most of the Juveniles (Door Into Summer and Have Spacesuit Will Travel excepted) were either not translated to Portuguese or no longer available when I came along.

And yet, what I took from his books was not the obvious messages: “Though art God” or the bedhopping or multiple marriages as the natural way to live. (Oh, for a while, but that was the spirit of the times, too, being the late seventies.) What I took from the books were not so much the messages as “the way to be.”

By creating characters that were tough, questioning, strong, and, most of all, useful, he made me want to be that way. I took as my model (being touched in the upper works) the broken caryatid, not just for characters but for what a human being should be, lifting whatever the burden without complaining.

Now, it takes a certain type of personality to teach at that level. I’ve seen it in some teachers, too, who, regardless of whether they teach you history or English, really give you a model you aspire to being.

The left, being daft, thinks this has to do with the character/teacher looking like you. They think only black people can model to black children. This is part of their insanity with “there must be so many characters of tan per book.” And also with promoting incompetent teachers to positions of power, because they have a certain ancestry or skin color.

But it doesn’t work that way. It’s more subtle. It’s more about being who you are in such a strong and convincing way and making the characteristics you have or approve of so admirable that people want to follow them.

Which is what Heinlein did.

I’m not going to say his other messages failed completely. Red Planet when I got my hands on it, in my late twenties, convinced me of the wrongness of gun control. And If This Goes On still gets me to shiver a little at the idea of populist theocracy.

What I’m saying, though, is that the most effective messages weren’t openly delivered and might not have been consciously delivered.

He changed an entire generation and not just in pushing them towards science and space (which I’m sure was deliberate) but in making them men and women who rationally examine the world and don’t blindly trust government.

Which incidentally is why the feminists, being dependent on people “group thinking” and behaving like widgets hate him and try to steer people away from him. They’re not even sure what causes that effect, but they know they don’t like it.

Now, did he know he was delivering that message? Probably. He was a man of strong principles and ideas of what was morality and what moral behavior meant.

But those weren’t the main theme/messages of his books, and they weren’t openly delivered.

And they’d never – and this is important – have made it to my (or other Heinlein’s Children’s subconscious) if they’d been the whole of the package.

Yeah, I know he gave mini lectures in the middle of his books, but they were done in voice for the character, and they made sense in the book. And they didn’t take over the book to the point of making the characters puppets.

Instead, the mini-lectures, usually wrapped around some practical event or occasion, were an integral part of the character’s personality and learning.

So, they were absorbed because we already liked the characters.

Now, instead, if you subordinate everything to the message and just yell at me from the beginning that this is so, and I should accept it, and break your entire universe to carry water for that macro-message, you’ll never succeed, because people don’t work that way. Particularly if you’re insulting some of them for characteristics they can’t do anything about – like being male, or white for instance – and telling them they’re guilty of crimes they never committed. The book will get closed, unread, and your message will not make it anywhere.

So, your overt attempts to change the world will fail.

It’s like the problem of intercontinental ballistic missiles. I understand even if Iran should build the bomb, it will be pretty hard (though not impossible) to hit us because their delivery methods are not anywhere near there (unless they buy from Russia.)

You can have the bomb but not the missile itself that will deliver the bomb.

So, while I find the bombs of the left weak sauce, being not so much speaking truth to power as power speaking at you in the same voice it has spoken (to me and most of the generations after mine, even in the US) since kindergarten, so that they are at best a wet firecracker, if you don’t deliver them in the compelling medium of a novel, through characters so admirable people want to imitate them, you’re not going to do anything. The bomb is going to explode amid your circle and get you the amen chorus, and that’s it.

But perfect that delivery, and even the incidental payload, the things that road along and you didn’t know, might make a big difference in the life of many people you don’t even know.

So, do we all write to change the world? I don’t know. I suspect not explicitly. Oh, sure, we all put some overt message in our stories: the ones at the center of our being, sometimes.

But mostly I think writers – people who think in narrative – write to make sense of the world. (It’s not the first time I absorb/deal with a major life shock through a series of stories, and I know my husband dealt with his brother’s death through a year of short stories.)

Reality is chaotic and often events seem not to have a cause. We write to unite the raveled threads of cause and effect so they make sense to us.

And we write science fiction to warn or enjoy about how those causes and effects, projected to the future, can change the course of history. This is important, because it makes people more than puppets of events – it gives them the rational power to think through things (at least properly done) and might influence current events (like turning me against gun control.)

But it is the sense we make of the world, the compelling logic of our story that will change things: not the sandwich board, not the soap box, and certainly not running around the world trying to shut down everyone who disagrees with us and ensure the field is an echo of our ideas.

We could do all that, and, without a compelling vision, a compelling logic and an absorbing story it would be for nothing.

People get preached at all the time, from church to commercials. They’ve developed high levels of anti-message immunity.

Which is why messages must come with stories and it must make them follow both the logic and the feelings of the author.

To change the culture and the world.


Sad Puppies BOOK BOMB! Best Related Work and Campbell Award for Best New Writer

Reblogged from Monster Hunter Nation

Sad Puppies BOOK BOMB! Best Related Work and Campbell Award for Best New Writer


This is our last Sad Puppies 3 Book Bomb. Remember, you’ve only got a few more days to get your nominations in for the Hugo awards.

If you are just joining us, a Book Bomb is where we get as many people as possible to get a book on Amazon on the same day, in order to spike the sales rating as high as possible, so that it will end up on some bestseller lists and show up in front of all new readers who wouldn’t normally see it.  Success breeds success, and the author gets new fans.

The Sad Puppies bombs are special because these are the works in the different categories that the Evil Legion of Evil has put forth as suggestions for our Hugo nomination slate. The last two we did went amazing.

Note, not all of these are available on Amazon. If that is the case then we put a link to where you can get it, or something else, so that the author can GET PAID. 🙂

**Best Related Work** 

This is one of those weird little catch all categories that is often dominated by some really cliquish nonsense. We’ve got some big brain essays, hard science, philosophy, military strategy, and of course Mad Mike.


The Hot Equations: Thermodynamics and Military SF
[Kindle Edition]
by Ken Burnside


Wisdom From My Internet
[Kindle Edition]
by Michael Z. Williamson





Why Science is Never Settled
Part 1, Part 2
by Tedd Roberts (BAEN)

**The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer**
The Campbell isn’t actually a Hugo, but is nominated and voted on at the same time, and the award is given at the same time, so it is pretty much the Hugo for best new author. This is the one that I came in dead last for, which was lucky because we were warned if I had won it would have ended literature forever.

Kary English


Eric S Raymond


Jason Cordova

Edit: I accidentally put up the wrong book for Jason Cordova at first. The publisher actually put this one on sale for today’s Book Bomb.

Remember, Amazon has changed how they calculate the sales rank. There is a long delay now. We won’t see any ranking movement until this evening, and hit the highs during the night or tomorrow morning. That has turned out okay because it just gives the authors more attention later. I’ll put the initial rankings up here in a minute.
Transhuman and Subhuman: Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #174,347 Paid in Kindle Store
Riding the Red Horse: Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,475 Paid in Kindle Store
Wisdom from My Internet: Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,295 Paid in Kindle Store
Letters from Gardner: Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,066,078 in Books
Flight of the Kikayon: Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,432,174 Paid in Kindle Store
Kaiju Apoclypse: Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #315,080 in Books

Sad Puppies short story update, free Championship B’tok and Tuesdays with Molakesh eligibility

Apparently Edward’s publisher was so happy about the results of the Book Bomb last week that they put together a FREE Kindle version of the story that was actually nominated. Check it out.

Championship B’tok [Kindle Edition]by Edward M. Lerner

And we had some question about whether Megan Grey’s Tuesdays with Molakesh the Destroyer would be eligible or not.  She cant’ get a straight answer, but it looks like it won’t be eligible until next year.
Hi all! Thanks so much to Larry and Brad for picking my Tuesdays with Molakesh the Destroyer story for the Sad Puppies slate and for sharing the link again here, and thanks to all of you that are checking it out! I just heard from my editor that Molakesh had a huge spike in views, which is pretty amazing. The Hugo Committee wasn’t able to tell me specifically whether it will be eligible this year or next (they have a policy against commenting on specific eligibility), but based on the wording in the rules that an earlier commenter mentioned, my guess is that it will actually be eligible next year. But regardless of all that, I am just so honored that so many of you are enjoying the story. Thanks again!

Set Yourself Free

Set Yourself Free

As posted on According to Hoyt

Set Yourself Free

Or “Why Winston loves Big Brother.”

So the tempest in a teacup in my field right now is that someone very appropriately named has written an article telling people to spend a year reading a specific kind of author. Yes, you read that correctly, a specific kind of author, not book. She is, mind you, generous, and allows you to pick what kind of author you wish to read: racial minority, sexual minority, insanity minority or any other kind of minority you might prefer. What you’re not allowed to read, specifically, are males and white males at that.

For a full window into that controversy, if you feel you must, Larry fisked her very thoroughly and competently.

As usual that’s not quite where I’m going. For one, because though this poor woman has issues and her issues have come home carrying little issues in arms, what is causing the furor and the issues is not, of course, where the problem is, but the reflected image of the problem, the part that we can more easily talk about.

The author, who comes from an affluent background and who shall henceforth be referred to as “Princess Tempest in a Teacup” is the fulcrum of the issue, but not the issue.

But her precious little tantrum, published by the ever obliging Guardian, clicked in my head with something else. The person she’s specifically throwing a tantrum at is a progressive white male author. And people are doing the usual “I wonder if this will open his eyes.” To which my answer was “well, no, it won’t,” which usually is not believed.

However, while discussing the subject, Elizabeth Moon and the semi-organized tantrum that is Wiscon came up. For those not in the know, Moon dared, sometime back, to hint that perhaps feminists should be more concerned with the treatment of women under Islam. This was enough to bring on the full panoply of retaliation from the left: holding their breath, crying, calling her mean and saying they now feel unsafe near her. Oh, who am I kidding? Although that’s what it amounts to, their actual retaliation is far more vicious and involves blackening her character and calling her the equivalent of a Nazi.

Back then too the writers to the right of Stalin (which is what my side amounts to) thought “maybe this will open her eyes.” It didn’t. Not only did it not cause her to question any of their other positions and behaviors, as soon as they were done yelling at her, she crawled back into the safety of their embrace. She did this because she has too much invested in her identity as a woman of the left, and in her leftism as a positional good. Whether she’s also convinced herself that they were right to beat her is something I can’t answer since we’re not exactly buddies.

The person I was discussing this with – one of them – is an immigrant from the former Soviet Union. When explaining what had happened I said “you know the drill” and she answered with “I know it, I just thought I’d left it far behind.”

Which made it click for me that yes, this is the equivalent of when – in a communist state – a high functionary or bureaucrat would get rebuked for some minor act of deviationism, and immediately crawl back into the embrace of the party as soon as the beatings stopped.

This in turn made me think of this quote:

In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. — Theodore Dalrymple

Forget emasculated. It becomes a society of neurotic liars, because in communist societies, and in our own left, the “gospel” keeps changing. As new events emerge, they change the story to fit, or even they change it because they can.

As commenter Synova put it at Mad Genius Club sometime back, it’s the equivalent of crossing a floor composed of identical squares, and suddenly, out of nowhere, you get hit, and get told it’s because you stepped on that square. Yes, that one there. And you should have known better. And your only salvation, the only way to make the beating stop is to admit you did wrong and stepped on that wrong square, even though it’s indistinguishable from all others.

Reason will not avail you. There is no reason to look at Princess Tempest Teacup and feel guilty. She was raised in an affluent family and, like many poor little rich girls, has been trying to make up a different story for herself ever since. She also exaggerates her “minority racial characteristics” in photos, which is neither here nor there except in terms of neurosis. One has reasons to feel sorry for her – and enough. I watched her before she blocked me on Facebook for telling her she was fracking nuts, attacking a poster simply because he wore a hat in his picture. That was it. She built an entire identity for him based on wearing a hat – and also vaguely repulsed, because she’s trying to ride her non existent victimhood pony to glory. But one has no reason to feel guilty of her treatment as a “minority.” Unless the guilt is over the fact that we allow people to claim non-existent and counterfactual oppression and enable them with benes and appeasement.

However, if you’re on the left you can’t say that. You can’t say “Oh, for heaven’s sake, woman, put a sock on it. In the scale of people who have ‘suffered’ for circumstances not of their making you come way behind most white people in Appalachia and for that matter 90% of the colleagues in our field, regardless of color or orientation including but not limited to everyone who works for a living.”

You can’t say it even though it’s patently obvious to anyone with two brain cells to rub together.

Instead, you have to parrot the obvious and in your face falsehood that these people screaming victimhood — for the most part white, for the most part from affluent backgrounds; for the most part women; for the most part academics; for the most part rewarded all out of proportion because they espouse the correct “progressive” line – are suffering under the boot an oppression and being mistreated and held down.

The very thought is enough to make your eyes roll so hard they escape your head and are batted around by cats on the floor.

To anyone – and I had it relatively easy, since though I came from a poor place my family made do well enough and I never went without anything essential. (Okay, fine, clothes that fit during growth spurts but in a scale of victimhood that’s “hangnail” level pain.) And my greatest struggle was adapting to a new language/culture and breaking in without any contacts in the field – who actually has had to struggle to get where they want, the “victimhood” of “but he looked at me funny because I have a vagina” or “because I can sort of tan” fails to impress. (For instance, Princess Tempest quit a corporate job to attend Clarion. I was invited, and at one time offered a scholarship to attend Clarion, but even with the “tuition” paid for, I couldn’t afford the travel or the time because I had small children and responsibilities. And no, not repining. I think in many ways it was a good thing I did not attend. On the other hand, the fact she could do this without a second thought but thinks she’s “underprivileged” and “oppressed” is laugh-out-loud funny.)

But it is exactly because it is risible that this big lie has power. It empowers people who actually already have a lot of power since their kind controls the traditional gateways of publishing either by taking them over or by being able to scare those who do with screams of victimhood. It turns the world on its head by pretending that being leftist is a liability instead of the keys to the corridors of power in the arts and literature. And it requires you go along with it on pain of becoming an object of hate.

And most people go along with it, particularly if it’s the first time they’ve been outside the group and been accused of all-out-of proportion evil for their minor thought crime.

Once they’ve done that, once they’ve parroted the lie while being aware it’s a lie, they’re owned. Not only their credibility but their self respect is gone, and their only hope is to hide their shame by standing with the people who hold the positional good of the “politically correct” position.

This is why they crawl back and often become the loudest voices defending things like the idea that books have value because of who wrote them, not what is between the covers. Or the idea that separate is really better than equal, and “minorities” need “safe rooms” where they can avoid the horrible fear someone will look at them wrong or even questioningly. Both of these are on the face of it evil and stupid ideas. Both are required to be in good standing with the establishment that – surreally – gives out the accolade of “speaking truth to power” for speaking exactly what the power wants to hear.

Once you’ve been to room 101 and repeated back patent untruths, you have to tell yourself they’re the truth, or you can’t go on looking at yourself in the mirror.

And the only cure – the only cure – is to keep telling the truth and shaming the devil the progressives. Because that’s the only way back from being forced to tell lies for us as individuals, the only way back to self-respect for us as thinking creatures, and possibly the only way back from the abyss for our civilization.

You see, to navigate reality you must see it. If you’re collectively enveloped in a fog of lies, you end up doing things like fighting imaginary problems like inequality, while real problems like corruption and economic stagnation goes ignored.

And that ends up with everyone equally eating out of the same dumpster, while a boot holds them down forever.

Keep struggling to see the truth as it really is. And keep telling it, no matter how many attempts are made to silence you and shame you.

Believe your lying eyes over what they’re telling you.

And in reference to the idiotic tempest in a teacup – read whatever you want. I’m not the boss of you. And neither are the progressives who compose the establishment.

If you need to atone or be saved do so in the safe confines of religion. Politics is not an instrument of salvation, and you’re not required to wear sackcloth and ashes in front of anyone just because they shriek.

Set yourself free.

BOOK BOMB! Short Stories from the Sad Puppies Slate!

BOOK BOMB! Short Stories from the Sad Puppies Slate!


As originally posted on Monster Hunter Nation

BOOK BOMB! Short Stories from the Sad Puppies Slate!

It is time to spread more awareness about Puppy Related Sadness. The following are our suggested nominees for the short fiction categories, novelette and short story.

The way a Book Bomb normally works is that we pick one good book worthy of more attention, which is available on Amazon, and then we get as many people as possible to buy it in the same day in order to boost it up through the ratings. As the the rating climbs, it gets in front of more people, until it ends up on an Amazon bestseller list, where lots of people who aren’t involved in the Book Bomb see it. Success breeds success, the author gets lots of new readers, but more importantly, the author GETS PAID.

This Book Bomb is a little different. Because the ones I’m doing right now are to get more people exposed to the works we nominated for the infamous Sad Puppies slate, we’re bombing a bunch of works at the same time. I don’t like putting this many links, but time is of the essence, and next week I’ll post about the Campbell nominees and Best Related Works.

We did three novellas last week and it was a huge success. They’re still selling well a week later. Overall we sold a couple thousands novellas, which in novellas is freaking huge.

But shorter fiction is tough, because it isn’t always available for sale by itself, but is usually bundled as part of an anthology, or in a magazine which often isn’t available on Amazon.

As you can see from the list below, luckily many of these are available on Amazon, and some are available for FREE, and for the ones that you can only get in magazines the Evil Legion of Evil Blue Care Bear of Flamethrowering (i.e. Brad) contacted them and asked for a work of theirs which was available for us to plug. So those won’t be the nominated work from the current year, but if they sound cool, check them out, that way the author GETS PAID.

Best Novelette

“The Journeyman: In the Stone House”
by Michael F. Flynn
(Analog magazine, June 2014)

Mike doesn’t actually have this novelette available for sale, but he did recommend the following item:


“The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale”
by Rajnar Vajra
(Analog magazine, July/Aug 2014)

Rajnar came up blank. He literally has nothing original for sale. This is an unfortunate habit with some of the Analog authors who don’t publish much outside of Analog.

“Championship B’tok”
by Edward M. Lerner
(Analog magazine, Sept 2014)

The specific story is not for sale, but Ed says we can go with this one:


“Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium”
by Gray Rinehart
(Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show)

(Requires a subscription, which costs $15/yr)
Since Gray doesn’t have a novel or other fiction available online, you can support him by checking out his album at:


Best Short Story

“Goodnight Stars”
by Annie Bellet
(The Apocalypse Triptych)
“Tuesdays With Molakesh the Destroyer”
by Megan Grey
(Fireside Fiction)

Megan apologizes. She is so new she has nothing for sale, but the story is FREE at the following URL:

by Kary English
(Galaxy’s Edge magazine, July 2014)
“On A Spiritual Plain”
by Lou Antonelli
(Sci Phi Journal #2)

Appears in:

“A Single Samurai”
by Steve Diamond
(Baen Big Book of Monsters)

So there you go, a whole bunch of short fiction that the Evil Legion of Evil enjoyed and thought you guys might like. Sadly, because we’re not imbeciles, we didn’t check with each author to find out their race, sex, and sexual orientation to see if they’d be okay to read as part of the Social Justice Warrior Racist Reading Challenge. We’ll try to rectify that in the future… if we come down with a case of extreme brain damage.


Normally I try to list all the current starting sales rank numbers, and then update them through the day, but we discovered last time that Amazon has started using some massive, like eight hour delay on their hourly tracking system. We basically we’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out how we did.

There are so darned many of these, that I’ll go ahead and post. Then come back and edit in the starting stats later. I’ve got a deadline, but I’ll do this because I love you guys. 🙂

EDIT: I forgot to add, please tell your friends! tweet, blog, facebook, graffiti, body art, interpretive dance, whatever works, but the more people who know, the higher the books get, the more attention the authors get.

Here are our opening stats:

Captive Dreams: Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,809,985 in Book

Time Foreclosed: Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #699,938 Paid in Kindle Store

The End is Now: Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,949 Paid in Kindle Store

Totaled: Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #298,088 Paid in Kindle Store

Sci Phi Journal: Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #200,635 Paid in Kindle Store

Baen Big Book of Monsters: Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #178,892 in Books

A Passion For Cubbyholes

A Passion For Cubbyholes

Re-blogged from According to Hoyt

A Passion For Cubbyholes

Yesterday I took a shashay down to Otherwhere Gazette, where someone in the comments of the posts was asking what the difference was between us and the SJWs, except they had a college degree and we didn’t.

The assumption dumbfounded me. Of my friends, I’m one of the least educated ones, as Kate and Amanda pack multiple graduate degrees, Dave Freer is a doctor (of fishology. Okay, it might be marine biology) and Tedd Roberts… well, a supervisor to doctoral students, besides being a doctor himself. As for the people involved with Sad Puppies, I have clue zero what Brad’s degree is. It doesn’t normally come up in conversation. I do know that Larry has an accounting degree for which he most certainly went to college (and paid his own way.)

Myself, as most of you know, I’m about a year short of a doctorate and now not likely to ever take it, because it was in languages, but over thirty years those have gone rusty and besides what good does it do me, now?

[Addendum: I just wanted to note I also have brilliant friends without college degrees and that I don’t consider a degree a stamp of intelligence.  Never have.  I took my degree in the hopes of a secure job.  Until the third year I didn’t learn anything I didn’t already know. (And then it was Swedish.)  Because the Author up there has a sense of humor, other than two brief stints teaching when Dan was unemployed, my degree has been of zero use for my actual work.  And I’ve learned more about areas like history that I never took in college than I ever did about the areas I did take in college.]

So the assumption that we didn’t have college degrees puzzled me. It reminded me of when a new girl about ten years younger than us, joined our group and assumed Rebecca Lickiss (physicist) and myself had no degrees. Why? Because we were married and had kids and chose to stay home with them. Therefore we clearly weren’t “educated.”

If you’re doing the sinal salute right now – fingers on either side of bridge of nose, head slightly bowed – yeah. I was too last night. It’s like they can’t conceive of people who have been “educated” choosing a different life path from them or even having different opinions.

I could say this was an effect of maleducation and their having illusions of intelligence. I.e. they let some college professors convince them that there is a “smart path” and a “stupid path” and the “smart path” for good little boys and girls with good grades obligates everyone to be a clone of whatever the professors envision.

I could, but we all went through the same maleducation and the same lectures which are mostly supposed to sell a point of view. And a lot of them are no dumber than we are. Yet we emerged… different. In fact, it’s almost a joke among my friends, and something that makes my kids’ blood run cold as they pursue their specialties, that few of us work at what we studied in college. And some of us have had intricately convoluted paths to get to doing what we actually enjoy.

So something different is at work here. It is in fact as though they thought that being “smart” obligated you to be an exact clone of them. As thought “smart and educated” were a category under which you get filed when you prove worthy of a college degree. (Which these days is not exactly hard. In my day, sonny! Also, get off my lawn.)

My son calls Wreck it Ralph the evilest movie ever made, because the moral of it at the end is “you should stay where you’re assigned.”

Yesterday I didn’t watch – but Dan was watching in the family room while I cooked – this movie where people got assigned a “role” and a station in adolescence. (That the authors thought there were only five and one was “thinker” was kind of funny. And sad. But mostly funny.)

I have no idea what the movie was, but what struck me was that as with Wreck it Ralph, the movie seemed to believe this putting of people in pigeon holes was a good thing.

It is a lust I’ve noticed among the people on the left, in the last oh, ten years. People should be assigned places according to their capacity judged by an “impartial” third party. That way they wouldn’t have the great unwashed crowding them about. Every person in his place and a place for everyone.

It’s all of a piece with their believing that the government must be brought into the most minute transactions and decisions affecting someone. There must be after all a government authority that decides I must have healthcare insurance, and I must have the package my ‘betters’ designed, providing for both birth control and abortion, even though I’d only need the first if I had a completely different body and I’d only have the second if I had a lobotomy. There must be a (benevolent) government dictating for whom one must bake wedding cakes. No decision too large and no decision too small when it comes to you not making it.

Because, you see, you’re just a widget, supposed to fit into a slot and do what you’re supposed to do, while all decisions, all rules control what you can do, so you’re no different than all those other widgets in the same slot.

This is of a piece with their inventing a multitude of genders (how many was it at last count, 41?) including “seeking” which means “don’t know.” It’s like they believe being a man or a woman and gay or straight means you have to absolutely conform to the stereotypes. If you don’t, you need a new word to describe what you are because every widget must be described so the right slot is found for him/her/shim/sher/blob. The seeking part always makes me think goes something like this “ZOMG, I’m not being attracted to anyone right now. I don’t know what I am. Seeking, seeking, seeking.” If you imagine that said in a little robot voice it’s just about perfect.

What amazes me is their assumption that not just them but EVERYONE would be happy in a world like that, where each human is put in a cubby and expected to live there forever.

I do them the justice of thinking their mistaken even about themselves. Particularly about themselves. A lot of the people who hold hardest to the idea that every little human comes stamped with a function (sort of like an egg) and an identification which determines his/her destiny are the sort of people who wake up on Tuesday morning and decide their real identity is dragon, something previously unsuspected in their sixty years of life. They’re the people who abandon a marriage of twenty years to “go find themselves” because apparently they somehow slipped behind the sofa cushions unnoticed. They’re the people whose resume goes from barista to physicist to astrologer and back again.

I think that’s why the lust for the ordered world. They feel out of control, bewildered by too many options, and lust for an ordered world where someone would psychically know where they belong and put them in the place where they’d be happy.

Two problems: first who can do that? We don’t have immortals among us, who can read the heart of men (yeah, and women and seeking, too) and tell exactly where you belong and where you’d be happy. Himself up there might be able to tell you that but He didn’t and gave you free will instead. Second what if there isn’t a place you’d be happy? Perhaps you weren’t built to be contented. Perhaps you’re someone who never quite fits in and pokes every away and towards the edges. Those have existed throughout history and there really is nothing wrong with being one of them.

In fact, the attempts by communist regimes to do this sort of thing were all more or less disastrous. Human beings, real human beings, aren’t easy to second guess or to “place” and tend to resist having their lives dictated to them.

So, beyond not making assumptions about the IQ or education of their opponents, I’d counsel our friends on the left (or anyone who thinks like that, though for some reason that’s mostly on the left) to possess their souls in patience and realize this utopia they seek is not only impossible, but it would be a nightmare for everyone, even the bureaucrats assigned to assigning people. (Can you imagine a more soul-eating job? For the corrupt it would be a chance at more corruption. For the conscientious trying to guess ‘right’ it would lead them to suicide.)

You have free will. Learn to use it. And kindly remove your boot off my neck and your governmental mandates off my life.

They will not bring me happiness, and I will ensure keeping them there and attempting to lord it over me doesn’t bring you any either.

Because I am not widget. I am a human being with distinct opinions, thoughts, and power of decision. You will never be able to understand the complexity and contradictions in a single human being, much less mandate what will make that person happy forever or what role they could fulfill for the rest of their lives.

And that’s a good thing.

Book Bomb Success! Behold the Power of Sad Puppies.

Book Bomb Success! Behold the Power of Sad Puppies.

As originally posted on Monster Hunter International

Book Bomb Success! Behold the Power of Sad Puppies.

Yesterday’s Book Bomb was a great success:


Our goal was to get some of our Sad Puppies slate out in front of as many readers as possible. I figure most people are familiar with our suggested novels already, so I’d concentrate on the shorter works, which are a much more difficult market to reach a large audience with, and way harder to bump up very high on the overall list. We started with the novella category, and if you’re an author with a novella, you know how rare it is to get novellas ranked up there.

Plus, Amazon tweaked its rating system methodology again so that they didn’t start updating their ranking until late in the afternoon, and they didn’t hit the peak numbers until the middle of the night when most of North America was asleep rather than surfing Amazon. If they’d updated normally I know from experience we could have probably moved a couple hundred more copies. Success breeds success, and when people see that they are part of something winning, they’re more likely to spread the word. The higher they get on the rankings, the more new eyes the works get in front of, the more sales are made, repeat until you are J.K. Rowling. Theoretically. 🙂

Despite those obstacles, a bold coalition of Sad Puppies supporters and courageous manatees were able to do the following:

One Bright Star to Guide Them went from #89,731 to #421 on all of Amazon, and #4 in its extremely competitive genre losing only to Tolkien, George R.R. Martin, and Joe Abercrombie.

Big Boys Don’t Cry  went from #52,018 to #483 overall, and #1 in multiple genres.

And Arlan Andrews, keeping in mind that this isn’t even our nominated work because that one wasn’t available on Amazon BUT he will email a FREE copy of the suggested work to any Sad Puppies voter who contacts him atarlan@thingsto.com  but rather this was just a link I threw up to make sure authors GET PAID.

Other Heads went from #403,337 to #1,003, and #1 of all science fiction anthologies.

Damn straight.

I got the actual numbers from Kratman and Wright. I don’t have Arlan’s. Between those two the actual number of copies sold would be equal to about 20 good book signing events. (or what I’d consider at this stage of my career to be a good book signing, so probably 50 or 60 book book signing events worth of sales when I was starting out).

For novellas. Not books. Novellas.

The reason I’m accentuating this is because last week I was accused of trying to get you Sad Puppies volunteers to nominate without reading the actual works:http://monsterhunternation.com/2015/02/10/sad-puppies-3-update-2-1-addendum-to-prior-update/

On the contrary, with yesterday’s Book Bomb not only did we make it so more people would actually read the suggested works, the Sad Puppies suggestions will now be the most widely read things in that category. By far.

And we’re working on short stories and novelettes next.

Now, all of that is fine and dandy, and Brad really is sincerely trying to make the Hugo nominations represent all of fandom and not just one tiny, insular, politically motivated clique, but as a devout evangelical capitalist I’m all about authors Getting Paid.

Ask most Hugo nominees what their nomination was worth in terms of extra sales or increased fan base, and the honest answers usually range from “meh” to “a little… maybe?” That wasn’t always the case. Back in ye olde tymes it was a prestigious career boost, and the reason most authors give a damn about such prestigious career boosts is because it means our royalty checks get bigger. However, the preponderance of preachy award winning suck in recent decades has made getting awards a sort of disclaimer for the general consumer audience (i.e. all those nice people who pay our bills).

Accountant hat on. That’s bad.

Unlike the Social Justice Warrior contingent—who are all about telling creators what they can’t do, or what they can’t say, or which vocabulary words of the day are off limits, or how you’re doing it wrong, or other assorted forms of pushy, bossy, bullshit—I actually want authors to succeed and make a living writing what they want to write. I don’t want anybody walking on eggshells, afraid of causing outrage, and getting slandered as something-ist or something-phobic, because they crossed some invisible line.

The reason I can get away with pissing off these bullies is I GET PAID. I have enough fans that when they libel me in the Guardian or call me a wife beating rape apologist on Twitter, the lost sales don’t make a noticeable dent. The reason Neil Gaiman doesn’t give a shit about the screeching harpy brigade angry at him for calling his latest book Trigger Warnings is because Sir Neil GETS PAID.  Hell, I probably only make what Neil Gaiman’s butler makes, but that’s still enough to insulate me from the SJW’s wrath.

One nice thing about being seen as the counter-culture “fun” side of this little battle (because SJWs have their fun surgically removed to avoid causing microaggressions) is that us plugging an author doesn’t cause the mass market to think to themselves, “Award winning? Oh, no… Not more dying polar bears and thinly veiled Dick Cheneys globally warming a bold post-binary gender world!”

The thing about SJWs? They are super loud, but there really aren’t that many of them, and as far as I can tell they don’t actually read very many books.

So, growing other authors’ fan bases? Getting authors from The Slatening in front of more readers? It wasn’t an original goal of Sad Puppies, but it is certainly a wonderful side effect.

So, next week, let’s bomb some more slate!


The numbers are still rising. Like I said, you get high enough on there, and you get even more new eyes on you.
One Bright Star to Guide them is now at #383.

Big Boys Don’t cry is at #430

Other Heads is at #883.

EDIT: They’re still climbing.Other Heads peaked at #883 and is currently at #893, but One Bright Star to Guide them is at #359, and Big Boys Don’t Cry is at #411.

How many novellas did we move? It is not my place to give out other author’s sales numbers, but to put this in perspective, the total number of nominating ballots for all the finalists in the Novella category of the Hugos in 2014 was 857.  For just these three in 24 hours, we’ve more than doubled that.

So now that I’ve established Sad Puppies does want voters to read books, and my side actually buys books, I wonder what crazy shit they’re going to make up about us next? 🙂

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