This is the first of a two part reassessment of online culture. Unlike the old time fannish dustups which took place at the glacial speed of the Postal Service, this one happened in real time on social media and blogs and comment sections. While the majority of science fiction readers pay scant attention to such insider doings, over the past few years the Sad Puppies and their rabid cohorts shouted their way not only onto the front pages of the genre press, but also into the headlines of many general news outlets.
To remedy this perceived slight, he proposed gaming the Hugo Awards www. Correia believed that the sf establishment in general and the Hugo Awards process in particular were ignoring him and other like-minded writers. He considered the answer to be self-evident. However, the next year he returned with reinforcements, birthing the insurgency known as the Sad Puppies.
So on the slate it went. Better organized the second time around, the Sad Puppies slate succeeded, after a fashion. The embrace of Vox Day highlighted the true agenda of the Puppies. When Correia stepped away from the Puppies, Vox Day became its central figure, in the process skewing some of the rhetoric perilously close to hate speech.
Nevertheless, by adroitly pursuing the slate ploy a third time, the Rabid Puppies swamped the final ballot in , placing fifty-eight of their sixty-seven recommendations before Hugo voters. Five different categories had nothing but Puppy nominees!
The overwhelming majority of SF fans were aghast. No Award won in all five of the Puppy-only categories. In those categories where there was a mix of Puppy and legitimate nominations, Puppy nominees lost to No Award. They returned again in with a new strategy, this time including in their slates a few works by authors who had no sympathy whatsoever for the Puppy cause, using them as a kind of literary camouflage. This strategy proved ineffective, and by the time the most recent Hugos were awarded at Worldcon 75 www. The influential fanzine File www. Although the Puppies will probably continue to whine, their influence seems to have waned.
What did they accomplish? Although they garnered a few empty nominations, they did not succeed in blowing up the Hugo Awards. They failed to make a convincing case for their conservative politics, nor did they woo converts to their literary cause. What they did get was a boatload of press, albeit most of it negative. The roster of news sources that reported on the Puppies is impressive. At the dawn of the internet, it was possible to imagine it becoming a digital utopia. We believe that from ethics, enlightened self-interest, and the commonweal, our governance will emerge.
We hope we will be able to build our particular solutions on that basis. But we cannot accept the solutions you are attempting to impose. The trends cited in the report were ripped from the headlines. Online harassment is on the rise www. I am still mulling over the Pew Report, since it raises important issues that we as members of the science fiction community and as citizens of the world need to address. But for now I leave you with a couple of quotes for further reflection. Some of what appears in the mirror is inspiring and heart-warming. Much of what goes on online is enjoyable, harmless, frivolous, fun.
But some of it is truly repellent: social media, in particular, facilitate firestorms of cruelty, racism, hatred, and hypocrisy. This is a unique form of soft power. In such campaigns, facts are not necessary because—contrary to the old memes of the Enlightenment—truth does not necessarily prevail. It can be overwhelmed with constantly repeated and replenished falsehood. As I note in the speech, I am semi retiring from Stonecoast to spend more time writing -- and working on my webpage! I will teach at this summer's residency but will no longer be mentoring students during the semester.
My future at Stonecoast? I'd love to keep some ties, but I appreciate that the administration needs to serve the needs of the students, not the semi-retired faculty! But I am pleased with the current arrangement. Dean Tuchinsky, Winter graduates and their honored guests, my colleagues on the staff and faculty here at Stonecoast, I believe tonight we have a first.
The first time the graduating speaker is graduating with the graduating class. Which means that I know all too well how my friends in the caps and gowns feel. We all have a mixture of pride in our accomplishments, relief that we made it through, regret that our Stonecoast adventure is coming to an end. Because when we adjourn tonight, there will be no more packets for you, no more letters of comment for me.
Me, I intend to write. No extended vacations. Get back to the writing -- asap. They will want to keep working and you will want to help create the psychic space they will need to do that work, as they explore their evolving identities as writers. Because those identities may still be fragile.
Before they came to Stonecoast, calling themselves writers was a huge leap of faith.
It certainly was for me, back in the day. But the conversation all too often goes on from there. Are you published? Do you know Stephen King?
Chasing Schrödinger’s Cat - A Steampunk Novel
Can you make a living writing that kind of stuff? Believe me, those are questions that can cause internal bleeding in a new writer. And now your grads may face a new question. Your writers are going to need you to believe in them. Now you can believe in them because we do. In a few minutes Dean Tuchinsky will speak words of power to all of us. Warning: spoiler alert. Then he is going to say something that has always puzzled me.
And now as I get ready to leave Stonecoast myself, I think I know. You see, sitting right behind your grads are a clutch of writers who have sold books and books and shelves of books and who know fine writing when they read it. Not aspiring writers.
Not wannabe writers. That is the distinction we want you understand, friends and families. We honor them because they are truly writers. Never doubt it. Now graduates, back to you. You are very, very different people than you were before you came to us January of You may have heard it said that the human body totally replaces itself every seven years. Think of it, a brand new you, every so often like clockwork. Yes, your cells are dying and being replaced all the time but different parts of you are replaced at different rates.
For example, the cells lining your digestive system come and go every few days, so each of you have grown a completely new stomach lining since you arrived here, maybe more than one depending on how many times you stopped by the Broad Arrow. Blood cells come and go every few months, so all that blood you sweated writing your prefaces?
No big deal.
Authors | Small Beer Press
Those poor corpuscles were doomed anyway. And did you know that you grow a new skeleton every ten years? Neurologists call this capacity for rewiring yourself brain plasticity. This program has changed the way you think about writing and to do that we have changed your brain. Possibly the most critical rewiring we accomplish here is to create a habit of writing.
It may be that before you came to us, you wrote when inspiration struck. Maybe you indulged in binge writing, cranked chapters or poems or essays out and then, exhausted, laid low for a few weeks.