Contra Mozilla

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

TMM: Puppies and Fandom

The line from the social-justice brownshirts is that the "Sad Puppies" and "Rabid Puppies" have ruined science fiction. From my perspective, they have broadened its appeal somewhat. According to the Hugos official site, a record number of people took part in the voting this year. The number of nominations turned in were also up (and the "Puppy" slates did very well). That should be a very good thing, since this is supposed to be the highest honor awarded by science fiction fans.

I should add my own perspective here. I bought a membership for the first time, because I learned (from puppy-affiliates) that this is how one gets to vote, and also because of the benefits of receiving so many fun science fiction works for free. And while I have always been a fan on some level of science fiction--I read Timothy Zahn's Star Wars novels when they first came out (I was in elementary school at the time), and later expanded from Star Wars and Star Trek to other science fiction. I have, however, been loathe to subscribe to much in the way of SF magazines (I've contemplated If, or Analog, or Azimov's), and the only one I've read much of is the Sci-Phi Journal (a new publication, which I have largely enjoyed, and which I found thanks to John C. Wright). I tend to read mostly anthologies and a few novels, older stuff, and new materials from a small group of authors whom I've come to enjoy.

It is thanks in large part to the puppies campaigns that I have expanded considerably form this (I tend to not take Amazon's recommendations seriously, as their system is often well off the mark in trying to guess what I may want). And while this may help larger sci-phi publishers like Baen or Tor, a number of the people whom I have started reading are at smaller publishing houses (not just Vox Day/Theodore Beale's Castalia House) and, more importantly, some independent/self published writers.

It is this last group that I think the Puppies can (and have) helped the most, by helping to make fans of good sci-fi aware of these independent writers. Baen or Tor have marketing departments, and they can get the word out easily for new products; independent writers cannot do this so easily. And, I've noticed, the puppies have held a few "book bomb" days in which they encouraged a large number of people to purchase selected works from specific authors from amazon. Perhaps they could consider some re-branding of their own, e.g. by forming a "Independently-published book of the fortnight club" to do bookbombs every other week, and maybe a second one to focus on small publishers every week, year-round? Then poll their members to draft a recommended Hugo nominations list. I don't entertain any notions that this will reduce the criticisms against their group from the social justice brownshirts, but it would be still more evidence that such criticisms are unfounded.

*Once a month seems a bit sparse, but then once a week seems a bit frequent. I figure that the puppies consist of only a handful of dedicated writers, however large their fan-base and list of friends, and asking a small group to select one book per week might become a bit taxing....

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