From the Vault: Interview with Nerd HQ

Join me for a stroll down memory lane: not a long stroll, merely to AD 2019, when yours truly was interviewed by NerdHQ regarding the Sad Puppies kerfuffle touching the Hugo Awards of a year or so prior. I reprint to amuse any readers who might not have seen it at the time, and as an sober reminder of how little things have changed since. 

Q: What do you think is the primary artistic/cultural difference between the pro-Sad Puppies and anti-Sad Puppies camps?  What is the primary political/ideological difference between the two groups?

JCW: The two camps are divided by a very clear and deep difference, which is neither artistic nor cultural. It has some political aspects, but the difference is more fundamental than any disagreement over laws and policies. There are ideological excuses given for motives, but the true motives run deeper, to the very core of the soul, and ideology is only a surface feature.

The divide is a religious war.

Do not be deceived by phrases like political correctness and social justice warfare. Politics and society are side effects of deeper differences, which are essentially religious in the sense that religion springs out of a man’s most profound beliefs about life and death, man and morality, cosmos and chaos and the ultimate causes of all things.

Political correctness is a religion in everything but theology. It provides the cultists with answers to all life’s basic questions, gives meaning and purpose to their lives, and forms the basis of their social interactions with others. It is their atmosphere.

Religious war are not fought over this issue or that issue, over this parcel of land or that. Such wars are fought over the eternal fate of men’s souls. They are fought over all things together as a whole. They are fought over the universe. No one thing is at stake. Everything is at stake.

Allow me to explain the background from my coign of vantage, so you will understand why I make this extraordinary claim.

The Sad Puppies conflict was merely one night-raid of this infinite war that happened to be push its battle lines into and through the neighborhood of science fiction awards, with the carnage and arson one might expect from so dire a combat.

The term ‘Sad Puppies’ was coined by Larry Correia, author of the MONSTER HUNTER INTERNATIONAL series, and winner of the Dragon Award for SON OF THE BLACK SWORD. He had noticed that for many a year, the Nebula and Hugo Award process had been dominated and, indeed, corrupted, by a small cabal or inner circle of editors and critics who, in the name of social justice, and for the benefit of one or two large and well established publishing houses in New York, wished to promote works based on their political correctness, and not their merit.

Conservatives, Libertarians, moderate Liberals, Christians and practicing Jews were not welcome, nor anyone disloyal to the social justice warrior worldview of the establishment.

When Mr. Correia complained in print of this one-sidedness, he was savagely attacked and called a liar. The establishment denied that any prejudice existed: the party line was that conservatives and Christians lack all artistic skill, and have no awards because we deserve none.

The sheer pretentiousness and hypocrisy of second rate authors whose only merit was their loyalty to brain-meltingly absurd uber-Leftist social causes saying that the voting was fair and balanced, and it was merely coincidence that no one outside their circle was nominated, or, rather, that no one outside their circle produced well written books and stories was staggering. Yet that was the claim that was made. The establishment merely blandly denied that the establishment existed. The cabal claimed there was no collusion.

To prove beyond doubt that this one-sidedness existed, Mr. Correia asked his fans to nominate and vote for a list of works whose appeal was based on their story-telling craftsmanship, not their loyalty to the dogmas of political correctness or their connection to the New York publishing establishment.

The running joke was that this one-sided voting for dull and inferior but politically correct works and authors was the prime cause of sadness in big-eyed puppies. From this the slogan and the name of the movement began.

An exchange of articles between Larry Correia and Damian Walter of the Guardian newspaper from Britain brought the controversy to my attention. Larry Correia proposed that stories should be judged on their merit, their entertainment value and popularity, their craftsmanship and artistic worth; Mr. Walter called Mr. Correia all fashion of bad names.

You can see why I cannot answer a question about artistic, cultural, political and ideological differences between these two. One is a science fiction author talking about things like the artistic, cultural, political and ideological differences between science fiction books. The other is a heckler who hurls insults and denunciations, as fierce as the Grand Inquisitor.

And that difference was not just the special province of Mr. Walter. All the puppy-kickers used and continue to use invective rather than dialog to make their point, or, rather, to avoid making any point while making as much noise as possible.

Your question assumes these creatures have a position on some issue, political or artistic, that differs from the position taken by me and mine. They do not have a position. They have one emotion and one tactic. The emotion is hysteria. The tactic is name-calling.

To make a joke of the bad names we were being called, I proposed that the ringleaders (at that time it was Larry Correia, Sarah Hoyt, Theodore Beale writing under the pen name Vox Day and myself) declare ourselves to be comic book supervillains known as the Evil Legion of Evil Authors.

I also proposed that Mr. Walter and those of his philosophy were not human beings, but had evolved, as in an H.G. Wells novel, beyond merely human capacities of logic and moral reasoning and into the post-rational and post-moral stance combining the alertness and work ethic of a dull and lazy Eloi of AD 802701 with the moral superiority and dietary habits of a Morlock.

Mr. Correia and I, as well as the other Evil Legion of Evil Authors are professionals, with minimal time to spare on nonsense. He and I wrote less than a handful of blog posts on the point, and in return were savagely libeled by big-name international newspapers, and soon had the establishment in an uproar.

One running joke about puppy-related sadness syndrome and Morlock moral norms formed an existential threat to the establishment and their worldview, and so they reacted with red-faced hysteria, and accused us of the typical litany of thoughtcrimes, and the accusations were backed up with even louder and less coherent red-faced hysteria.

You know the list of accusations because the list never changes, no matter who is accused or what the facts are: racist, sexist, homophobe, bigot, uneducated, mean-spirited, etc., etc., etc. Mr. George RR Martin, who did me the honor once of buying one of my short stories for his Jack Vance tribute anthology, publically denounced me as an inferior author. I asked him politely why, if my work were inferior, he had purchased it for an anthology with his name on the cover. He answered elliptically, and chided me for being too arrogant and boastful about my own work. This is an odd rejoinder indeed, since my only boast was that so skilled an editor with such good taste had found my work worth purchasing.

But Mr. Martin thought it better to denounce his own honors as an editor rather than to admit that anyone with my politics could write entertaining science fiction. In the worldview of political correctness, anyone guilty of thoughtcrime is an unperson, and must by definition have no virtues and no skills in any field.

But neither in that case, nor in any other, was there any shred of fact, evidence, reason, logic, fair-dealing or good will. The Hugo Awards process had been corrupted and overcome by establishment groupthink. A small group of four authors voiced a public objection, consisting of a two Portuguese, one woman, one Red Indian, and me. We were called racists in international newspapers, not one of which contacted any of us for any comment. We were told our motivation was political, even though the four of us share no political opinions in common. We were told our writing was inferior, in my case, by one of my editors who, at the time, before this controversy, purchased and praised my work and paid me top dollar for it.

My publishing house, Tor Books, reacted to the controversy by having their top officers publically insult my readers and purchasers of my books, calling them neo-nazis, racists, woman-haters, and so on. This triggered an ongoing boycott of Tor, which is neither in their best fiscal interests nor mine, but, as to date, no amends have been attempted. Customer goodwill is less important to the Morlock than purity of dogma.

Brad Torgerson, whose wife is black, was called a racist; and I, whose father in law is Jewish, was called an anti-Semite. Sarah Hoyt, a Portuguese woman, was denounced as a white supremacist male chauvinist. She and Larry Correia routinely have minority characters or homosexuals are major characters in their stories, portrayed in a favorable light, and so they were both called fascist homophobes.

Now, this behavior from the Morlocks (as I call them) is entirely childish, irrational, and uncivilized, but it is not incomprehensible nor unpredictable.

In the same way a parasite attacks a host and draws nutriment from it until it dies, and in the same way the Cuckoo lays her eggs in the nest of another bird whose own young are killed by the Cuckoo fledgling, the Morlock have no real love for, or even interest in, the science fiction field.

To them, as are all things, science fiction stories are a tool of social engineering. The stories are not to be published and read for the sake of entertainment, enjoyment, and edification. They are to serve as instruments of propaganda, and as an excuse for affirmative action, and for self-righteous self-congratulation.

Now, a story told merely to act as a vehicle for self-righteous self-praise is mind-numbingly dull. A tale told by an unskilled wordsmith of average intelligence attempting to mimic genius by reciting popular political shibboleths can encompass no creative thought, since it is primarily imitative of something the imitator does not understand.

For reasons that are more psychological and psychopathological than political, those poor souls trapped in this mindset are erecting a narrative, that is, a shared mass delusion, of their own artistic significance and importance. They flatter themselves and want the world to join in.

To bolster this false narrative of auctorial competency, the Morlock requires an external award, a sign of merit, such as the Hugo, which in times past was rewarded to good works.

In sum, then, the difference between the two camps is that we Sad Puppies wish for fairplay, for works to be judged on the merit of the work, and that good stories get awards. The Morlocks wish for delusion and self-delusion, for good works to be trampled because, not despite, that they are good; and for inferior works elevated, because, not despite, their inferiority.

The difference is that the Sad Puppies are reasonable folk who can argue our side of the case. We have a case. We have evidence of the corruption of which we speak, and can show where World Con insiders leaked allegedly private information to their friends and allies. We can tolerate differences of opinion on political matters irrelevant to the science fiction genre. With perfect enjoyment we can read stories told by authors whose race and religion and political party differs from our own.

The Morlocks have hysteria. They have no case and lack the moral and mental ability to present a case even if they had one. They tolerate nothing. They hate anyone and anything outside their rabbit-warren of unimaginative conformity. They hate the white race, the American nation, and the Christian religion. The hatred is palpable, irrational, incomprehensible, and hellish.

Intelligent men, for the sake of political correctness, say appallingly stupid things. Honest men utter unconvincing lies. Men of refined tastes strangle their aesthetic judgment and praise abominable trash and vomit. Men if otherwise solid moral character praise and promote perversion and nihilism. The reason why I call them Morlocks is that they were once men.

In Christianity, we teach that the convert changes his life once new life enters him at baptism. The change touches everything in life, even one’s pastimes, daydreams and reading habits. So it is with the freakish pseudo-religion of political correctness, except that the spirit that rises to replace one’s old life is not a holy spirit, and is not friendly to mankind.

Instead of discussion or debate, they accuse, and accuse, and accuse, and the content of the accusation is indifferent to them. It simply does not matter what bad name they use to denounce others, just as long as the denunciations are loud and widespread.

Forgive my prolixity. All this was necessary in order to make my answer clear. The difference between the Puppies and the Morlocks is not artistic, cultural, political nor ideological. We are civilized folk who can have a civilized discussion on this or any topic, and judge matters based on simple principles of fairness all civilized men since the dawn of time have understood.

They are barbarians. Barbarism is not an ideology, not a political party, not a religion. It is a state of undeveloped savagery which simple and primitive emotions hold sway. It is a mob.

Q: •Do you see any way to encourage a reconciliation between the literary camps?

JCW: Reconciliation was attempted and savagely rebuffed. To use one example of a dozen, Mr. Martin and I had an agreement to let these matters rest, which he immediately broke in a dishonorable and disappointing fashion. When my wife, also a Tor author, meekly approached Mr. Patrick Nielsen Hayden at a party during World Con in an attempt to affect a reconciliation, he shouted and swore at her using potty-mouth language. Fortunately for my police record, this event did not happen within my earshot. It is not the way any professional conducts himself in business.

Q: If so, how might that be achieved?  If not, why not?

JCW: Reconciliation is neither desirable nor possible, for the difference between the two camps is not a difference in literary taste, not a difference in political opinion, nor a difference of philosophy nor religion. It is a difference between creators and destroyers; it is a difference between unhappy and envious parasites and the happy hosts on whose blood and work they feed, attempting in vain to fill their own emptiness.

Q: Given your experiences with the Sad Puppies/Hugo situation, what advice would you offer to aspiring writers who are concerned about the politics of the sci-fi/fantasy writing industry today?

JCW: Again, your terminology is imprecise. This is not politics. This is a war between civilized men and filthy barbarians. It is a struggle between humans and post-humans.

My advice is to gird up your loins and prepare to fight for what you love.

These people are relentless. They cannot be reasoned with. They despise reason.  Compromise is not possible. They regard concession as admission of weakness. They will not accept your surrender. They hate you and hate everything you love. What they want is the power to terrify you by threatening your livelihood and damaging you reputation, and then to use that power to destroy.

Even the most loyal bootlicking sycophant among them, at any moment, for any reason or no reason, can be denounced as this week’s thought-criminal, and subjected to the Two Minute Hate. You cannot escape the Eye of Sauron by obeying him.

Elizabeth Moon and Jim Frenkel are persons whose progressive, leftwing credentials are impeccable. The social justice warriors arbitrarily and randomly decided to destroy the careers of these two. This was done to impress all onlookers with the arbitrary nature of the Morlock power. The fact that both are innocent of the bizarre accusations leveled against them is a feature, not a bug. A rational despot can be obeyed, and those who obey have no need to fear. The irrational terrorist, however, smites random targets, so that all will fear.

I offer aspiring writers this advice: Never apologize to a Morlock when called upon to do so. They do not call upon the guilty to apologize, but the innocent. Never believe a word they say. The social justice warrior always lies; always retrenches his lies when caught; always accuses you of his own sins.

Adopt the correct motive for writing: myself, I write to please heaven. I have no interest in pleasing Uncle Screwtape or any of his minions and thralls, knowing or unknowing, here on earth. To wring the cold smile from a dead-eyed fanatic that hates my civilization, my nation, my faith, my family and my life is not one of my goals and should not be yours.

Q: What trends in the sci-fi/fantasy writing fields and fandom do you find most inspiring today?  Which are the most disheartening?

JCW: The most inspiring trend is the renaissance of the pulp aesthetic, the new space opera revolution, and the return of John W. Campbell style hard science fiction. Pulp, Space Opera, and Hard SF have nothing in common except that they are the targets of hatred by the establishment, and have been for many years successfully suppressed.  The revival of interest in the books appearing in Lin Carter’s Ballatine Adult Fantasy series and the Appendix N of Gary Gygax is heartening. The growth of smaller and more agile publishers and self-publication is very heartening, because it foretells the doom of the gatekeepers and editors who so willfully betrayed our trust in them. All we wanted was good stories. Instead we got two decades of brain-melting absurd and deadly dull leftwingnut dreck masquerading as science fiction and fantasy.

The most disheartening trend is the spread of the mental disease of social justice addiction through all the major institutions of the publication and media industry. Not just written science fiction, but films and shows and comic books are continually suffering spiritual degradation, castration of manhood, and lobotomy of common sense, defenestration of sound storytelling.

If you have heard the story of Nick Cole being summarily fired from his publishing house for private political beliefs, you know how deep the rot goes.

If you have seen the affirmative action casting or sex-swapping of Feminist Thor in pages of Marvel comics, or Muslim Ms. Marvel or Hispanic Spiderman, Black Captain America, Female Iron Man, or seen race-swapped Kid Flash on television, or heard the political messages, routinely shoved down the viewer’s throat by CW superhero shows, you are already aware that political correctness and sound storytelling are mutually incompatible.

If you watched the live-action version of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST by the Disney corporation, you know that once-great dramaturges now neither respect nor comprehend fairy tales, or the cultures that sired them; if you bought a movie ticket to have the allegedly strong female character of Space Mary Sue from THE FORCE AWAKENS inflicted on yourself, you know that once-beloved film franchises have fallen into the hands of those who neither respect nor comprehend space opera. In both cases, the jabbering monkey can only copy, and copy badly, a precious and subtle magic he does not understand.

Most disheartening of all is that when I list my favorite childhood series, serials, comic books, or movie franchises, I find that not one has been spared. All have been defaced and degraded by a politically correct revision. It is like seeing graffiti sprayed on the Parthenon, a moustache drawn on the Mona Lisa.