I was reading through the various Puppy blogs. Did I find despondency over the crushing Hugo debacle?
Nope. What I found was a growing consensus that it’s time to start separating from the Chorfs. Previously there was the hope that after some balance was achieved in the Hugos both sides would bury the hatchet and a live and let live arrangement would prevail. Last year’s asterisks and more so this year’s no awarding of perfectly legitimate and in some cases highly qualified nominees makes that unlikely. I think anger has hardened into hate.
It’s sort of like a marriage. When bickering turns into screaming it’s time for a marriage counselor. But when knives come out it’s time for the divorce court. It’s time to award custody of the silverware and figure out who gets stuck with the dog. Luckily that’s already been decided Fido (aka Hugo) is going to be gassed by Vox. Everything else gets divided according to the laws of nature. Fans who are ebullient over books that invent new pronouns for the nine billion new gender iterations will go to the Chorfs. Those who like their prose punctuated by hot lead will follow the Puppies. Everyone in between will have to search their souls and choose. They get Tor, we get Baen. They’ll get the kudos of academia, we’ll get the reviews on Amazon. Our books will feature scantily clad women, theirs will feature pastel colored dinosaurs. Everybody gets what they want.
So separate on all fronts. It’s time to start building. Build up separate author lists, separate sales strategies, separate awards (maybe the Dragons?), separate branding. Some of this is the result of the Puppy Kicking Campaigns and has become a sort of general boycott of the Chorfs and their enablers. Many people have already jumped on the Tor Boycott and inversely many are purposefully concentrating their book spending dollars on Baen, Castalia House and Puppy authors in particular. Of course no Chorf worth her salt would buy a puppy book anyway or any other book that didn’t include at least some element of social improvement so there’s really no change needed on that front.
I think the only thing that really needs to be done is branding and labeling. How to differentiate their stuff from ours? Neither side will want to sacrifice the science fiction and fantasy labels. Too important (and too valuable). We need some qualifiers, some adjectives.
Good vs Evil?
Strong vs Weak?
Dynamic vs Static?
Active vs Passive?
I think the real dichotomy is Fun vs Boring.
They’re boring. Let it be their new brand. When a reader goes to Barnes and Noble he should go to the BSFF shelf and choose the colorful covers full of gay dinosaurs and cat loving computers. That’s where he belongs. BS, boring stuff.
But if any of my grandsons asks me where to find “the good stuff” I’ll point him to the FSFF shelf and he’ll find space pirates and heroes and things blowing up. He’ll find that adventure hasn’t needed to change that much since Odysseus invented the Trojan Horse and Penelope preserved her home and family against war and time and hostile gods and welcomed him home. It’s still brave men and good women daring fate to win the day and live happily ever after. That’s exciting, that’s fun. FS, fun stuff.
But how do you brand something boring? How do you brand something fun? Easy, separate them and let people decide for themselves. But the key is separation. It’s like a hardware drawer filled with a mixture of ball bearing and razor blades. It’s confusing and you know something is wrong. Totally different things that don’t belong together. And trying to grab one when you need it will be painful and frustrating when you grab the wrong one. But separated they can be used for their separate purposes. So let’s dump the razor blades into a different box and get rolling and have a ball.
Goodbye Chorfs. Enjoy your BS aisle. It’ll probably be pretty quiet over there.