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File 770 posted the Sad Puppies list (slate? what? We’ll get in to that in a moment) last night, and here. My knee jerk reaction:

I’m not proud that this is my initial reaction. But I’ve got 3 years of good reasons to feel really gun shy on this. It’s not like we all came together after Sasquan and hugged it out. There was nasty, horrible shit raining down long after the convention had been laid to rest.

Is this a slate? Several of the categories have more than five possible choices. Does that make it a rather truncated long list instead? From File 770, it sounds like this was recommendations-based, spreadsheet included. Does that make its existence no longer a political jab? What does this do to writers who said they categorically do not want to be on a slate, ever, ever, ever? Do they ask to be removed? What about writers who just want nothing to do with any of this, slate or no?

I know for a fact that at least two of the people on that list weren’t asked if they were okay being included. I would not be shocked if most/all of the other unexpected names (Alyssa, Nnedi, Ann, etc) are in the same boat. Not cool.

But it’s just a recommended list. But it’s got the “Sad Puppy” name all over it and all that goddamn baggage.

Because this is the thing. After three years of slates and shouting and people being intensely shitty, after the porous barrier between sad and rabid and the fecal stench known as Beale that clings to everything, I cannot fucking trust any of this.

So is it a recommended reading list, innocently offered? Or is it a Trojan Horse, intending to get people to maybe think hey, we don’t really need to ratify those WSFS amendments everyone voted on last year when we were almost universally pissed off about a slate rolling the Hugos. See, it’s not so bad. Let it go. And then next year it starts all over again because nothing’s been fixed.

Or is it a way to try to fuck over a lot of writers who don’t want anything to do with this, because suddenly they’re on the damn list, and no one knows if it’s a slate or not, but there’s the knee jerk feeling of if these assholes want a thing, I don’t.

Or is it a way to score some cheap points because if these writers end up on the final ballot and win (or score over No Award), look at all these SJW hypocrites, see they’re okay with slates as long as it’s people they like. That’s certainly consistent the Wile E. Coyote-style Sooper Genius I’m Totally Playing Six Dimensional Chess nonsense we perennially get told is really going on, you know, where people get roundly slapped down by the community and then loudly proclaim that it’s what they wanted all along. (PS: You’re transparent. We know it isn’t.)

And is the very existence of this post (and ones like it) going to be used to add to the carefully curated sense of grievance that’s been fueling this entire stupid, stupid fight?

This makes me so angry, because I’m already seeing people getting dragged into this bubbling cesspool of bullshit and paranoia. And I hate thinking like this. I hate it. I want to believe the best in people. I want to believe in good intentions, and change, and moving on from bad times.

But I’m also not a fucking idiot, and I can remember further back than yesterday. I remember the last three years that led to me fucking dreading the Hugos this year because I knew the drama would be inevitable. I remember the incredibly fucked up (and at times racist, misogynistic, homophobic) things that have been said about friends of mine and writers I deeply respect. And I remember the transphobic shit that got spattered on Sasquan right next to the puppy ribbons very clearly.

I’d like to believe the best of you, Sad Puppies. But I can’t. Give it a few years of people not treating the fucking Hugo awards like some Game of Thrones-lite eliminationist slap fight and maybe I’ll be able to. (Though the forgive and forget threshold of others is certainly not dictated by my comfort level.) But this year I’m paranoid, and I’m mad, and you’ve fucking earned it.

Additional: Please read Catherynne M Valente’s post on the topic. Cora Buhlert has much more measured commentary than mine as well, and I totally agree with her commentary about branding.

Originally published at Rachael Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

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