Bokhari on the Tor debacle

Allum Bohkari draws some interesting conclusions from Tom Doherty’s statement last week:

Doherty also affirmed one of the Sad Puppies core principles: that sci-fi and fantasy publishers should neither promote nor exclude any particular political worldview.

    We seek out and publish a diverse and wide ranging group of books. We are in the business of finding great stories and promoting literature and are not about promoting a political agenda

That may sound uncontroversial, but prior to the Sad Puppies, it was a principle that was under genuine threat, with astonishing reports of political intolerance to non-progressive authors at sci-fi conventions. Doherty’s blunt affirmation that Tor is in the business of publishing good authors, not politically homogeneous authors, is therefore important.

For the left-wing authoritarians of sci-fi, who previously seemed able to exclude whoever they want from the community, Doherty’s words came as a serious setback. Tor Books was once perceived to be in the grip of hard-line progressives and identity warriors, but now some angry social justice warriors are even threatening to boycott the company.

Naturally, Gawker was also upset.

But such opinions represent an ever-dwindling minority. Everywhere we look, the authoritarian left is on the retreat. As I predicted in January, a chorus of liberal voices has risen to condemn their behaviour. On social media, in tech and on the campus, ostensibly liberal and left-leaning commentators are busy condemning the extremists of their own tribe.

Meanwhile, campaigns like GamerGate and the Sad Puppies are routing them in the culture wars. As in so many other cultural arenas, the SJWs of sci-fi are long past their heyday. And much of that decline can be attributed to the Sad Puppies themselves.

We are admittedly making some minor, if encouraging, dents in the ongoing SJW onslaught. But while we should be encouraged, we should not be complacent or think that what we have accomplished will not be undone in a heartbeat if we stop paying attention and slip back into pushover mode.

And while it’s great to see the Publisher at the largest SF/F publishing house disavowing the SJW thought-policing in which some of Tor’s editors have engaged for the last decade or more, that doesn’t mean that he is absolved of the need to get his house in order. I have heard, from different sources this time, that Tor Books is very much concerned about the prospect of a boycott, particularly one that is supported by SF/F authors.

Which is interesting, because so far they have been unwilling to do the one thing that will end the matter. Indeed, Tor Books appears to have decided to stand by the broad spectrum insults of its Creative Director and its Associate Publisher. So, let’s see what Macmillan will do. And if they won’t do anything either, well, at least we will know that we gave them every chance to avoid what they apparently wish to avoid.

The key to Tor’s intransigence is their belief that the “thousands of emails” they have received are from “bots”. This is the same narrative #GamerGate has encountered to attempt to minimize its numbers. Therefore, we will need to find a way to demonstrate to Macmillan that those “thousands of emails” represent “thousands of bookbuyers”.

UPDATE: Aaron and JJ at File 770 are convinced that we don’t matter.

I don’t think the Puppies realize that they could boycott Tor and Macmillan forever and neither of the companies would ever notice.

Yeah, I was laughing so hard at the comments on the Tor Gallo post that I was almost in tears. The idea that the Puppies (who for the most part, are not huge Tor book-buyers, anyway) think that they are a large enough group to be of any importance to a large publisher — well, it makes me feel a bit sorry for them when they find out that their perceived reality of grandeur is, in fact, merely a delusion of grandeur.

Perhaps not. Although I note that no one at Tor Books appears to be laughing; they even seem to believe they have suffered huge damage to their reputation. Regardless, there is only one way to find out.

UPDATE 2: Then again, perhaps the companies have already noticed. There may be more going on than meets the public eye. Peter Grant has heard from someone at Tor:

Let’s just say that if the information provided so far is correct, there appears to be a fair amount of sturm und drang in Tor’s upper echelons right now, and things are being shaken up to a considerable degree.