So if you normally read my blog for the local politics or because you’re one of my family members, that is the sort of subject line that should tell you immediately that you’ve stumbled into some sort of unfolding drama that you’re not in on. Fortunately, Arthur Chu wrote a fantastic article that should bring you up to speed, if for some reason you want to dive in: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/04/12/right-wing-trolls-hijack-scifi-oscars.html
(8 million words of SF fandom politics below the merciful-to-the-rest-of-you cut.)
Quite a bit of the coverage has conflated the “Sad Puppy” slate (put up by SF author Brad Torgersen) with the “Rabid Puppy” slate (put up by honest-to-God neo-fascist Theodore Beale, who writes as Vox Day). VD has, in the past, defended the attempted murder of Malala Yousafzai, suggested that acid attacks on women are “a small price to pay” for fammily harmony, said that marital rape is impossible because marrying someone is inherently consent to all the sex ever forever (“If a woman believes in the concept of marital rape, absolutely do not marry her! It would make no sense whatsoever to marry a woman who believes that being married to her grants her husband no more sexual privilege than the next unemployed musician who happens to catch her eye.”)… it’s a long, long list. So, it’s not super surprising that a lot of the Sad Puppies and Sad-Puppy-Defenders are not super thrilled with the fact that they’re being associated with the guy.
This essay from writer and “Best Fan Writer” puppy nominee Amanda S. Green is pretty typical. “Okay, yes, Vox Day was on last year’s Sad Puppies list. Big deal. So were a lot of other folks who didn’t make the list this year. That doesn’t mean any of them were sitting there with their hands up Brad’s back, working him like a puppet. Vox may be many things but that he could not do. For one thing, Brad wouldn’t sit still and let it happen. For another, a number of us who supported SP3 would have had something to say about it. Whether you want to believe it or not, personal integrity is important to us and — this is where you need to listen carefully — that means Vox was not involved in the running of of SP3.”
I don’t think VD was involved in the SP3 slate because he was on the SP2 slate but because VD, Larry Correia, John C. Wright, and Sarah Hoyt are all members of a little four-person clique they called the Evil League of Evil, ELoE. And yes, I get that it’s a Dr. Horrible reference, but the way Correia and Wright talk about it makes it sound like it’s not merely a running joke but a genuine long-running association between the four of them.
This is going to get long. Blame John C. Wright, who would have trouble saying “get bent” in fewer than 1,500 words, I think.
John C. Wright first came up with the Evil League of Evil in June of 2014, in a post responding to people who thought he should distance himself from VD.
But I must speak up on my own behalf. If I may say it without offending Mr. Day, when did I ever publicly express support for him, or express anything like it?
Vox Day is not a nervous schoolgirl trying to break into a highschool clique, nor is he running for public office, NOR HAS ANYONE ACTUALLY ASKED ME MY OPINION ABOUT ANYTHING VOX DAY HAS EVER SAID, ergo the deduction of this Walter creature to know my thoughts on the matter would be insulting, if he were of the stature to be worth noticing long enough to take offense.
It is now considered not just to be a public declaration of support but indeed a very public declaration of support for someone to say ‘I decline to heed or to echo malign and false accusations against a man I hardly know, as it is none of my business, and I hate falsehoods’?
Vox Day and I have a professional relationship. He is a publisher of some of my work. It is a situation we both find to our mutual benefit.
He goes on (and on and on) for a while, then finishes it up with:
I hereby will vote Vox Day our Supreme Dark Lord, declare Larry Correia to be our International Lord of Hate, decree Sarah Hoyt to be our Beautiful but Evil Space Princess whom we all love and obey, and — let me see, all the good positions are taken — perhaps I can be the Evil Brain in a Jar just like my ancestor, Simon Wright. Perhaps Sarah Hoyt will carry me around in a handbag, as she walks the grounds of her secret base hidden in a cold volcano cone, commanding innocent and cringing minions to be flogged with electric whips, or sent screaming to the Agony Vat.
The other positions will be taken by Bad Horse, Dead Bowie, Fake Thomas Jefferson, Fury Leika, Professor Normal, Snake Bite, Tie-Die. If he commits an act of murder, then the Evil League of Evil will also admit Dr. Horrible.
It must be MURDER, for no lesser crime will equal the gut-wrenching horror, the sheer terror, the savage brutality, of the criminal act of Yelling At A Hyperventilating Thin-Skinned Leftist Boob Who Savaged Him (Vox Day’s capital crime) or Saying We Should Write to Entertain (Larry Correia’s felony), or … or … (What am I accused of again, anyway? Not wanting to pay money to a lackluster professional guild of people who are not helping my career?) or whatever my apparently horrible crime is.
Oh! I am guilty of Being Skeptical, Waiting to See Proof, and Not Joining the Mob Pelting a Witch Accused by a Lunatic Witchhunter.
(The person “accused by a lunatic witchhunter,” just to remind you: Vox Day.)
The next day he posted again about all the people who’d asked to be minions and have titles and there was a lot of joking around about how the ELoE could be a good alternative to SFWA. There’s a picture of four Batman villains posed together labeled as Correia, Wright, Hoyt, and Day, and a “manifesto,” which he sums up as, “In sum, the three ideas of the so-called reactionary Evil League of Evil are that that Science Fiction stories should be workmanlike, honest, and fun. Stories should serve the reader rather than lecture, sucker-punch, subvert, or hector him. Stories should give the reader what he paid for.”
Sarah Hoyt has also posted about the ELoE, and made it rather clear that she’s not entirely thrilled to be associated with VD, but also made it clear he’s a member:
Now, The Banished One is entitled to having whatever views he wants to have, and I’m the last person alive to say he must have mine or he can’t be a science fiction writer. (And it’s entirely possible he’s right and I’m wrong. I don’t think so, but we’re all colored by our past and our upbringing.) I’m just saying his blog rubs me wrong so often I haven’t done more than dip in and look at this or that when it relates to sf/me. … As for the rest of the ELoE, John C. Wright is more socially conservative than I am, but I don’t think he attempts to impose it except by proselytizing which is within permissible means. And Larry and I just want to write stories, make money and have fun. Sure, his view of government leaks into his books. And it leaks into my science fiction. But that’s because things written by someone tend to reflect that person’s opinion.
Brad Torgersen’s thoughts on VD are also worth noting, because when the subject of Larry Correia comes up he says, “Larry Correia is my blood brother. … I see this man (in the flesh) all the time. I know his wife and his family. I can think of no one I would want more (in my fox hole) when the chips are down and the bullets are flying. Be they real, or rhetorical, bullets.” Regarding Vox Day, on the other hand, he posted a lengthy and spirited defense of Geek Social Fallacy #1 (“Ostracizers are evil.”)
Brad Torgersen was the person who publicly initiated, assembled, and promoted the Sad Puppies 3 slate, and there are a lot of people claiming that it represents no one but Brad, that it’s just “stuff Brad likes,” based on suggestions from the people in his comment thread back in January, when he announced he was doing this (though it’s worth noting that the people in that thread came up with maybe 25% of what actually went on his slate).
But if you read Larry Correia’s journal you’ll get a rather different impression of how this shook out.
Here is our suggested slate! Brad Torgersen is this year’s banner carrier in our ongoing war against Puppy Related Sadness. Now that the registrations for memberships to nominate for the Hugo are closed, here is what the Evil League of Evil authors came up with in discussion. Here is the list, and I’ll talk about the philosophy/strategy below.
[list omitted to save space]
Now let’s talk STRATEGIC Puppies.
These are my suggested nominations. I am under no delusions that you guys do exactly what I suggest. (seriously, it is like herding cats!). But I would encourage you to take a look at these, and consider nominating all of them. Everybody up there is someone who the ELoE talked about. Many of these are deserving, worthy types, who would basically be ignored because they don’t appease the SJW clique.
And in an update post:
We made an effort to contact everyone we put on beforehand to warn them what was coming. Apparently we missed two of these. One was added the day we put up the suggestions because a couple of posters pointed them out, and they truly are excellent and talented, but we’d forgotten about them during our initial brainstorming.
I can’t blame them for dropping out. And none of you should either. The ELoE talked about this a lot before putting together a slate. They have all personally experienced what happens when you draw the SJW contingent’s wrath. It isn’t pretty.
(Boldface mine, again)
In the same post he talks about VD:
He’s not even on the Sad Puppies slate this year, but he still lives rent free in their heads.
Last year I liked a story written by a guy SJWs think is racist. Could a comment made a few years ago by Vox Day to Nora Jemisin be seen as racist? Yep. Has Nora Jemisin said a whole bunch of racist things herself leading up to that and then a bunch after? Yep.
I find it consistently interesting how invested Correia and Wright are in minimizing the objections to VD. There is an amazingly long list of positions VD has taken that are way outside the bounds of civilized discourse. There’s a lot of ground where I think reasonable people can disagree, but “should we educate girls” is not actually one of them, nor “is it okay for a husband to force his wife to have sex with him against her will” or “what exactly are the advantages of acid attacks on women?”
Finally, I just want to note that when Brad Torgersen posted the slate, he said:
And here it is! After much combobulating, the official SAD PUPPIES 3 slate is assembled! As noted earlier in the year, the SAD PUPPIES 3 list is a recommendation. Not an absolute. Gathered here is the best list (we think!) of entirely deserving works, writers, and editors — all of whom would not otherwise find themselves on the Hugo ballot without some extra oomph received from beyond the rarefied, insular halls of 21st century Worldcon “fandom.”
(Boldface mine, again.)
So, hey. Obviously, whatever else the ELoE is, it’s an informal organization; it’s partly an in-joke and an amusing self-chosen nickname for a clique of friends. But here’s what I feel pretty confident about:
1. This particular Evil League of Evil is Larry Correia, John C. Wright, Sarah Hoyt, and Vox Day. When Larry Correia talks about the ELoE, he doesn’t use the term like it’s a joke; he uses it as a straightforward shorthand for his clique. Vox Day is a member of the clique. In fact, the origination of the name for the clique came out of an indignant rejection of the idea that Wright might consider distancing himself from VD.
2. Larry Correia said that the ELoE discussed and “came up with” the names and works on the SP slate.
3. Larry Correia said that that VD “isn’t even on the slate” but I did not see anywhere that he said that VD had nothing to do with choosing the slate, and if he made that claim at this point, I guess I’d like him to unpack his previous statements about the ELoE’s involvement.
I mean — I’m totally willing to believe that the final say here was Brad Torgersen’s, and the ELoE was acting entirely in an advisory capacity, suggesting fan writers and pro artists Brad might not have thought about and no one on his suggestions thread mentioned.
But what I’m not willing to believe, given that collection of posts, was that Vox Day had nothing whatsoever to do with the Sad Puppies slate.