Earlier this year, two campaigns variously made up of traditionalist sci-fi fans, neoreactionaries, Gamergaters and other flavors of angry white dude hijacked the nominations for one of sci-fi’s most prestigious awards, the Hugo. Now one of the biggest publishers in sci-fi and fantasy seems to have come out in support (or at least appeasement) of those same groups, known as Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies.
Tor Books, America’s largest SF/F publishing house, reprimanded one of its employees for coming out against the Puppies on her personal Facebook page, and apologized to the groups—who stand for removing social justice issues from science fiction—on her behalf.
Back in May, associate publisher/creative director Irene Gallo linked to an announcement that Tor plans to publish The Geek Feminist Revolution, by Hugo-nominated author Kameron Hurley, and said she was proud to help make the Sad Puppies even sadder.
She also explained who the Puppies are in strong—but not entirely inaccurate—terms:
When the Puppies and their supporters learned of the message over the weekend, they were pissed. They started tweeting about Gallo and spamming her with angry Facebook comments.
Tor took notice.
On Monday, 79-year-old Tor founder and president Tom Doherty gave Gallo a public dressing-down on the publisher’s blog and apologized to the Puppies for “any confusion Ms. Gallo’s comments may have caused.”
Doherty asserted that “media coverage of the two groups initially suggested that they were organized simply to promote white men, which was not correct,” and listed a handful of women and people of color on both the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies’ slates.
But the problem with the Puppies was never that they only nominated white men. It was that head puppy Brad Torgersen and his supporters bashed previous Hugo winners as beneficiaries of “tokenism and affirmative action, for the sake of the sexuality, gender, and ethnicity of the authors themselves.”
You can see why there might be some confusion about their supposed commitment to diversity.
The Puppies, who claim they’ve been victimized and been transformed into “bogeymen” by media coverage, are actually fighting their own bogeyman: the notorious White Liberal. And it’s the White Liberal, they fear, who controls the Hugos’ parent conference, WorldCon.
“[M]aybe 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,” Torgersen wrote.
The Sad Puppies are also closely associated with neoreactionary, Gamergater, and notorious white supremacist Vox Day (he says he’s not a white supremacist, but he also says “Racism is neither a sin nor is it a societal evil. Race-based self-segregation is not only the observably preferred human norm for all races throughout the entirety of recorded human history, it is inevitable,” so go ahead and draw your own conclusions) who both played a part in picking the Sad Puppies nominees and started his own Rabid Puppies slate. Coincidentally, a number of the Rabid Puppies nominees have been published by Day’s obscure, Finland-based publishing house, Castalia House.
And that’s who the most powerful publisher in sci-fi apparently decided to appease at the expense of one of its own employees.
Puppy supporters have been talking shit about Tor from the beginning of their campaign, largely because Tor editors Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden have been openly critical, and were among the first to note that Gamergate and the Puppies were making common cause. In April, Larry Correia, who started and named the original Sad Puppies campaign two years ago, had to tell Puppies supporters to chill out with their attacks on the publisher, because—as Tom Doherty also pointed out—Tor has published Puppy favorites like John C. Wright. Wright rode the Puppies slates to a record-breaking six Hugo nominations this year.
“I’ve held onto this since I had the screencap, which as you correctly note was made several weeks ago ... I have long been in the habit of never using all of my ammunition at once, or pointing-and-shrieking for its own sake,” Day told File770, a sci-fi fansite that’s been keeping meticulous records of this year’s Hugo drama.
Apparently, the reaction was loud enough to move Tom Doherty to publicly chastise Gallo and put forth a soft defense of the Puppies and their motives. I contacted him to ask how he made that decision and what his personal feelings about the Puppies are—because he’s made clear they don’t align with Gallo’s. I haven’t yet heard back.