I imagine it is a buzz being Brad Torgersen at the moment. In a short space of time he has gone from being one among thousands of vaguely successful sci-fi writers – some stories in a few magazines, an award nomination for something or other – to the notorious leader of Sad Puppies 3 : Bigots Destroy Sci-Fi. Now when Brad hits publish on a blog post, hundreds of people comment. He’s a star! But a star without a base soon falls to Earth.
Brad’s new notoriety is on loan from Messrs Correia and Beale. I have no doubt that Brad genuinely cares about sci-fi, for all of the reasons he has stated. It’s not uncommon to see writers do stupid things they will later regret as they get their first taste of public attention. Brad is a spectacular example, and like most others, will soon be forgotten as both sci-fi fandom and the SP mob move on to the next drama.
Correia and Beale, in contrast, do not care about sci-fi. They might give it a second thought, between bouts of stroking their huge ambitions, but it’s in no way their priority. Neither do they care about the Hugo awards, towards which they direct so much hate. Most importantly, Correia and Beale do not care about the faux battle between Conservatives & Liberals about which they scream so loudly, or more accurately they care only as far as it serves their goals.
Both Correia and Beale are focused on goals that lie far beyond sci-fi fandom. Both appeal, and have significant platforms, among reactionary right wing conservatives, a massive “community” that vastly eclipses the niche fandom for sci-fi books. To Correia and to Beale their battle with sci-fi is merely the latest in a long line of faux, one sided conflicts they have engineered in order to build their following in the wider world. Neither man cares at all about the outcome of this conflict, because every outcome has the same payoff, a much inflated reputation for beating up Libruls amongst an audience who enjoy that sport.
It’s because the science fiction community largely misunderstand the true motives behind the Sad Puppy campaign that it’s having such a hard time responding to it. It doesn’t matter how long and how hard you shout “BIGOT” at them, it will only ever make Correia and Beale more popular among their base. If you block their wins with No Award at the Hugos, they simply point out to their base how badly the reactionary right wingers are being discriminated against. Change the rules of the Hugos even a jot and you get the same result with knobs on “HUGOS GERRYMANDERED AGAINST CONSERVATIVE WRITERS”. Let them win and you have, of course, let them win. Establish an opposing slate and, hurrah, you have now engineered an endless battlefield that Correia and Beale can continue to loot for years to come.
But if you think clearly about Correia and Beale’s actual motivations – to gain attention and status from their right wing reactionary base – you can begin to see some effective solutions to the current problems. What those solutions are I will write about tomorrow.