Tuesday, June 16, 2015

I think Tor and Macmillan don't know what to do


The continued deafening silence from Tor and Macmillan over the conduct of certain individuals at the first-named firm continues to puzzle me (and many others who've complained to both companies).  I'm beginning to suspect that they have no idea what to do about the situation.

It may be, of course, that they see themselves as being between a rock and a hard place.  If they follow Tom Doherty's example and reprimand those who've overstepped the mark at Tor, they risk outraging all the SJW's who've followed their lead and attacked the 'Puppies' and their Hugo slates for months - in some cases, years.  (Mr. Doherty did just that - see the comments below his statement.)  On the other hand, if they don't take any action, they're going to outrage all those who've complained;  who've finally had enough of being insulted, denigrated and scorned by a publishing house whose employees should unquestionably have known better.  That may be the real reason for the silence - they think they'll be damned if they do, and damned if they don't.  (I shall certainly do my part to ensure the latter outcome, if they are so short-sighted, misguided and foolish as to make it necessary.)

Meanwhile, L. Jagi Lamplighter has been asking for and publishing photographs of fans' collections of Tor books, hardbound and paperback.  If you feel so inclined, please e-mail a picture to her so she can add it to the article.  It'll hopefully give Tor and Macmillan some idea of the business they risk losing from just the few fans who submit pictures like that.  When you multiply them by the hundreds who've actively complained, and the thousands of fellow-travelers who are watching, reading and listening . . . I think they can't help but realize how seriously a boycott may affect them.

In my first open letter to Tom Doherty at Tor, I warned:

There is very little time left to address these issues before this situation gets out of control.

I can only repeat that warning, with greater emphasis.  I've already seen a number of commenters declare that as far as they're concerned, the boycott is already in effect.  I've seen e-mails sent to Tor and Macmillan that say the same thing.

I'm also saddened that instead of an intelligent dialog about this mess, both sides seem to be descending into greater vituperation and mutual abusiveness.  I hoped that David Gerrold's peace overture would meet a better response, but I'm afraid it didn't - from either side.  Even some of the towering figures of SF/F are lowering themselves into the gutter when attacking those they see as their opponents.  We are all poorer for such conduct.  However, in a very real sense, this is war - a cultural conflict rather than the shooting variety, but war nevertheless.  In war, common decency is one of the first casualties.  I'll do my best not to stoop to name-calling, with the exception of referring to the other side as 'social justice warriors' or SJW's.  I do so only because I have no other name in my vocabulary to adequately or accurately describe them.  If anyone can suggest a better, more acceptable alternative, I'll be grateful.

There are less than three days left until noon on Friday.  I truly hope Tor and Macmillan do the right thing before then.  The alternative is not pleasant . . . but it will happen, unless they forestall it.  The ball's in their court until then.

Peter

32 comments:

Wraith said...

If anyone can suggest a better, more acceptable alternative, I'll be grateful.

I personally refer to them as the Butthurt Brigade, but I'm thinking that's probably not what you're looking for...

;)

richard mcenroe said...

David Gerrold is hardly an impartial moderator in this imbroglio, after his "I will see you NEVER get a Hugo!" outburst.

Bob said...

I have a family member who is definitely cut from the same cloth as TOR's employees who have caused this growing storm.

When she and I disagree with something - which is often - the instant I try to talk or discuss the matter, her response is "THIS DISCUSSION IS OVER!", the arms gets crossed, the "I am insulted" look locks on her face, and she stomps off.

It has - I truly believe - never once crossed her mind that any one of her beliefs and opinions could possibly be wrong. Everything she thinks, feels and does is just naturally righteous and correct. She has no interest whatever in what I have to say. She's a lot like the Muslims: She can lie, cheat, deceive, mislead, whatever is necessary to achieve her goals, since they are always righteous and correct.

I have no ideas whatsoever how to get past her cast-in-stone attitude. As a result, there is no communication - even on a neutral level - between us, and I have quit trying.

Perhaps the McMillan and TOR people are the same way and have no idea whatever how to respond to people who are just so... so wrong! I'll bet they truly believe we are all too stupid to understand what they would have to say anyway.

So, they just put it all on ignore and hope it goes away.

ticticboom said...

If Gerrold had written this months ago before defaming half of fandom, maybe. Might have helped if half his post wasn't attacking our side while simultaneously not only denying anyone on their side ever attacked anyone, but that there aren't any sides at all.

Not to mention demanding as a precondition some on the other side attack their, if not ally, then co-belligerant. "Let's you and him fight" has always been one of the left's most successful tactics.

As far as I'm concerned, they took a mansion and turned it into a crack house. The only question is if it's worth renovating or if it should just be torn down. At this point, if the end result is that the Hugos and Tor wind up in the dustbin of history, nothing of value will have been lost. The Hugos are currently a joke, and the few Tor authors I read already have books out with other publishers, so Tor going out of business won't be an undue burden on them.

Evan Price said...

As far as I'm concerned, the boycott is on. I will miss a couple authors but in general, TOR is dead to me until this is resolved.

There's plenty of good stuff at Penguin's labels and Baen books.

Shell said...

Mokusatsu, perhaps? I can't imagine what would make them think that would work, but people do all kinds of stupid things.

Goh Yan Ma said...

Tor and Macmillan know clearly what to do, and that's why people like RR Martin and Gerrold have been making "peace overture" while simultaneously insulting Vox Day and the Rabid Puppies. Since going against the SJWs isn't an option for them, trying to divide and conquer the Sad/Rabid Puppies is their only hope to limiting the damage of a boycott. They want us to think of all the harm we have done to the SF/F community, try to convince us that it's open to everyone, and call for less venom, so that we can return to the status quo and let them continue driving the wrongthink out of the industry. That's why to me a precondition for preventing a boycott shouldn't be asking for Irene Gallo to be fired, it should be asking for an apology to Vox Day and an acknowledgement that no matter how much of an asshat he is, he is still entitled to write SF/F books and not be subjected to personal attacks.

Herb Nowell said...

@richard mcenroe: That was my first thought. If he was serious he apologize for that comment and admit it sounded exactly like claiming he'd rig the Hugos. That comment was just another point of proof to a lot of Sad Puppies that the real issue wasn't rigging the Hugos but rigging them for the wrong people.

Herb Nowell said...

As for the boycott I've already written to the only Tor author I was planning to buy in the near author and apologized for not buying the last book in her long running series. She is Tor only and I can see with a capstone book coming this could really hurt.

After her the next biggest is a Drake series I'm reading but I should be able to get that used.

The boycott was on for the me the moment I didn't even get a "thank you for your comments" email back for any of the three. An autoresponder could have handled that and yet that was too much for us to ask apparently.

Meanwhile I have a bunch of indie on my Nook branded Kindle to work on.

Charles said...

SJW and neo-nazi are deliberately 'smart-arse' pejorative terms, unworthy of adult conversation (with the exception of some actual, self identified neo-nazis such as AWB or Combat 18). I suggest 'liberal jerks' and 'conservative jerks'. Both sides have plenty of candidates and and I believe in calling something what it is.

Some jerks are just trolls, out to cause pain and humiliation rather than illumination, most are just people who like to shoot their mouths of without really thinking through the logic or objective strength of their position and the net is a great place for that (your target is safely ensconced hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away).

Anonymous said...

The part of me that used to have branding responsibilities at a $100 Million corporation with 600 employees thinks, "How can i find a way out of this mess."

The only thing it occurs to me, if I were in an executive role at McMillan, would be to deliberately carve off the cancer that is Tor. I'd quietly euthanize the label, do some sort of asset only sale of the valuable parts, meaning primarily shift the contracts with the authors to a newly created publishing house or absorb them into Macmillan itself. Quietly apologize and announced the death of the Tor brand, and hope that fans accept the sacrifice and that the SJW's accept that nothing's really changed but the title on the spine. Probably start the new brand with different staff, and simply not offer ANY of the current staff jobs at the new house. Explain that it's not punishment, we're just going a different direction, and those jobs no longer exist. Quietly hire back any staff without lightning rods sticking out of the tops of their heads who are really useful, if there are any, or just prune off the whole lot of them and never look back.

I don't know if that would actually work, but that's what occurs to me.

FormerFlyer

RAH said...

I have called Macmillan twice; last evening and this morning. Evidently the offices are not open at 8 am and or 5 pm. I have left 2 messages stating how I have been insulted and I am a customers and that insulting customers is a bad business practice
Macmillan's phone # is 646 307 5151

RAH said...

Regarding David Gerrold. His comments were pejorative and non professional. As the award giver it is highly improper for him to publicly comment that any author on SP3 slate and that Larry and Brad will never get a Hugo. I was appalled that as GOH he thought it was OK to do that. I have no idea if any authors nominated on SP3 or RP are planning to attend. But I can imagine how it would feel to be handed a award from a man that had such contempt for me.

Lina Inverse said...

That's why to me a precondition for preventing a boycott shouldn't be asking for Irene Gallo to be fired, it should be asking for an apology to Vox Day and an acknowledgement that no matter how much of an asshat he is, he is still entitled to write SF/F books and not be subjected to personal attacks.

This touches on a primary point I was thinking about: Patrick Nielsen Hayden is a senior editor at Tor proper, and he, his wife and their golden boy Scalzi have for a decade waged a very public unprovoked war against Vox Day.

This sort of thing is as we are seeing grossly unprofessional, and is part of the environment in which Irene Gallo and Moshe Feder appear to feel free to attack many SF/F authors and fans, including authors Tor publishes and fans who buy their books.

With Tor having closed ranks, it's entirely possible Macmillan doesn't see any solution that doesn't require firing a fair number of senior employees, which given Tors compartmentalized corporate structure would entail a lot of disruption in the company's production (Gallo is for example their Art Director). So I can imagine them taking their time to address this mess, especially if they're going to be decisive about it. Or, as our host wonders, just not knowing what to do about this mess, which further underlines the unprofessionalism in play, these Tor employees have placed the company in a no-win situation.

Rolf said...

What to call them? They are not "warriors" in any reasonable sense of the term. They are bullies and tyrant wanna-be's. So, a better term is SJB or SJT.

Aaron said...

Replacing the word Warrior with Whiner (or Whinger if you prefer to spell British-style) would be far more descriptive and accurate as to who they are and what they do.

Leonidas said...

I'm also saddened that instead of an intelligent dialog about this mess, both sides seem to be descending into greater vituperation and mutual abusiveness.

This was always going to get worse before it got better. That's just the nature of the beast.

Mike_C said...

But I can imagine how it would feel to be handed a award from a man that had such contempt for me.
If I won the award despite his contempt and attempts to rig the contest? I'd feel great! Schadenfreude is unbecoming, but has its place in life.

jaed said...

It should not be forgotten that David Gerrold's repeated promises to make the award ceremony into a horror show were a factor in at least one's nominee's withdrawal, either.

The fact that no one from Sasquan reined him in very, very early - or simply informed him that while he was still welcome as GoH at the con, someone else would need to present the awards, considering his public statements made him unsuitable for that particular task - is one of the things that decided me that I'd better not go. If the official position is that that kind of poison is perfectly fine, I doubt the experience of actually being at the con would be a pleasant one.

Nate Winchester said...

THIS is what you should have used for the rock & hard place link. ;-)

The Overgrown Hobbit said...

@ the Inverse Line: I recently discovered that 10 years ago it was PNH who began the unprovoked war on Vox Day, no doubt finding him a useful whipping body at which to direct the targeted hate, while demonstrating to the would be nomenclatura the penalties for earning PNHs contempt as well as the penalty for transgressing right-think.

Scalzi was, in 2005, a newcomer, a the talented young Brad Torgersen of that time; "Whatever" was an fun blog, no-nonsense about the business end of being a pro writer. He spoke up for the very principle that Gosh Yan Ma described: let him be an asshat; say and write stuff you find appalling (after all, how many communists does SF not merely tolerate, but laud?), bot let's not have political tests for SFWA membership or participation in the field's awards.

Scalzi's career since then has been one long slow slide of appeasement, trading publishing contracts, favorable reviews and award noms (including rule-bending in his favor) for sucking up to PNH and paying homage to the clique's groupthink.

It explains the quality of his fiction and his blogging these days, doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

One does indeed wonder if PNH has quietly done what Kowal has publicly done, and said that if Gallo is fired, they quit.

TrevorG said...

As we are now calling for Irene Gallo's resignation after her public apology; I call on Castalia House to lead the way in this genre. I'm publicly calling for Castalia House to apologize for the libelous comments made by their Lead Editor, Vox Day, against African Americans.

He stated, "She is lying about the laws in Texas and Florida too. The laws are not there to let whites ” just shoot people like me, without consequence, as long as they feel threatened by my presence”, those self-defense laws have been put in place to let whites defend their lives and their property from people, like her, who are half-savages engaged in attacking them."

Calling "people like her" i.e. African Americans, "half-savages" is insulting and racist. Since Vox Day is attempting to hold Tor to a higher code of civilized conduct, I call on Castalia House to hold their publishing company to the same high standards and force an apology from Vox as well as obtain his resignation. I do not believe that any publishing house where the Lead Editor engages in such obviously racist and inflammatory conduct could truly state that they are open to submissions from any prospective writers.

Peter said...

@TrevorG: You said: "As we are now calling for Irene Gallo's resignation..."

I am not calling for Irene Gallo's resignation, or anyone else's. Kindly read my open letters to Tor for details. If you want to discuss or dispute that point, you'll have to do so at Vox Day's blog, because he (not I) is the one calling for resignations or dismissals. He's also the owner of Castalia House.

I think you made your comment on the wrong blog.

kamas716 said...

Peter, nah, I'm pretty sure he knew he wasn't on Vox's blog. He'd likely get eat alive over there.

TrevorG said...

Nah, they are very, very fond of and impressed by their intellect over there, that's true. As for being "eaten alive"...not so much, but that's a cute fantasy. The problem is that their erstwhile leader, Vox Day, is a raging racist who continues to libel others (Scalzi) much to the delight of his followers. They don't have a leg to stand on in this fight.

Was what Irene Gallo said stupid, insulting and wrong? Yep, absolutely. Should she be fired over it? If her private employer doesn't think so, then no. No more so than Phil from Duck Dynasty should have been fired from his TV show...no more so than Teddy Beale should be fired from Castalia House. So the game is, do they apply logical consistency to their outrage, or only selective? So far the answer is rather obvious.

As for Peter, you're right, wrong place for this, and thank you for being more civil than just about everyone on Vox's site.

Sevron said...
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TrevorG said...
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Sevron said...
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ticticboom said...
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Peter said...

All right, people, that's enough. This blog will NOT become the site of a flame-fest concerning another blog, or another individual. Please take your verbal sparring over there, where it belongs.

ticticboom said...

Your blog, your rules.