Guest Editorial: “Bad dog, bad dog!”

You can call me a Hungry Puppy.

I have no interest in Hugo controversies.  Or any other controversies, for that matter.  And the more I try to understand the numbers game of the Hugo balloting, the more confused I get.

Me, I just want to explore fiction.

But sometimes someone on the other side of the room drops a turd so big and so stinky, one feels compelled to intervene.  In this case, turds cloning other turds to the point of a virtual turd clone war.

The Poopy Puppies versus the rest of the speculative fiction community.

I might not understand the Hugo balloting process, but I understand 3 words Steve Davidson said to me during my interview with him when I asked him for his take on the Poopy Puppy controversy.  I had an epiphany when Davidson said these 3 words: “They attacked fandom.”

The operative words being THEY-ATTACKED-FANDOM.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but it all started with Larry what’s-his-name, Larry WHOSE NAME I REFUSE TO TYPE, Larry whose name has too many syllables for me to remember even if I was willing type it.

Larry’s self professed motive in launching The Poop War was to “poke the establishment in the eye.”  Note that neither the Hugo voters nor anyone else in the speculative fiction community have ever tried to poke Larry what’s-his-name in the eye.  The speculative fiction genre is a big umbrella and the speculative fiction community is very accepting.

If your subgenre isn’t getting much attention during Hugo season, start your own subgenre award.  Start your own subgenre magazine.  Start your own subgenre review site.  Start your own subgenre convention.

It works for everyone else.  There’s an award/convention for every conceivable subgenre and these awards/conventions get high profile coverage on File 770.

If I understand correctly, the Poopy Puppies have done exactly that.  The Dragon Awards?  Like I said, I can’t keep up with it all.  I’m far too busy combing Amazon and publisher catalogs in search of interesting books to feature and interesting authors to interview.

So launch your project and submit your press release.  But don’t wage war against people who happen to not share your literary views.  Otherwise, we’re going to have to drop all pretense of civilized debate and treat you like you’re waging war.

I’m going to mention a couple of more names.

I have interviewed Brad Torgersen twice.  The third act of his “Gyre” contains some of the most haunting scenes I’ve ever read.

But Brad is saying something that doesn’t make sense.  If I understand Brad correctly, he is lamenting that premise based sci fi is suffering at the hands of style based sci fi.

Now wait a minute.  Brad is a regular at Analog, Analog emphasizes premised based stories, and Analog has the highest circulation of any sci fi print magazine.

Am I missing something here, Brad.

I used to review for Dave Truesdale’s Tangent.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but Dave is the only person who has had his Hugo membership revoked while the convention was still in session.  During the alleged offending spiel, Dave claimed essentially the same thing as Brad.  Specifically, Dave said style based stories are destroying science fiction.

Destroy science fiction?  What an impressive feat!  Ain’t no fad gonna destroy science fiction.  If a fad, no matter how popular it is, no matter how long it lasts, can destroy science fiction, science fiction ain’t worth saving.

Am I missing something here, Dave?

On the issue of valuing the story over the style, I’m in Brad and Dave’s camp.  I recall reading a recent story in Clarksworld that had every bit of 2 paragraphs of plot and character.  The rest of the story was about the protagonist noticing and reacting.  It posed as a full meal but turned out to be a couple of bites.

As for literary versus pulp, I have sad news for the Sad, I mean Poopy Puppies.  Mainstream awards, from the Oscar to the Hugo to the Pulitzer to the Nobel, have always favored the literary.  And always will.

This is why we are still reading Homer thousands of years later.  This is why literature departments offer a major in Shakespeare 500 years later.  This is why, unless you have a degree in British literature, you probably can’t name a contemporary of Charles Dickens; meanwhile, “A Christmas Carol” has been adapted and borrowed countless times.

This is why curriculum in my high school science fiction course included 2 of Heinlein’s most famous novels and no stories about Buck Rogers.  In the same course, we studied Asimov’s “Caves of Steel” but not Asimov’s “Lucky Starr.”

Google the name Horatio Alger.  Nuff said.

Carl Slaughter

Carl has written and interviewed for Tangent Online, Diabolical Plots, SF Signal and File 770.

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