Saturday, June 6, 2015

Is it time to call for a boycott of a mainstream SF publisher?


I was infuriated to read a remark by Irene Gallo, associate publisher of Tor.com and creative editor of Tor Books, one of the largest science fiction publishing houses.  I'll quote it in full.

There are two extreme right-wing to neo-nazi groups, called the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies respectively, that are calling for the end of social justice in science fiction and fantasy. They are unrepentantly racist, misogynist, and homophobic. A noisy few but they've been able to gather some Gamergate folks around them and elect a slate of bad-to-reprehensible works on this year's Hugo ballot.

It's part of a comment thread on Facebook in which Ms. Gallo makes the above allegations, then refuses to address corrections offered by various other commenters - which is typical of her sort, of course.  You can read the corrections there.  They're basically along the same lines as those offered in rebuttal of earlier libelous reports about the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies.  (I've written about them before.)

I've remained silent about many previous slanders and libels about this situation, but this is just about the last straw.  I would very much like to know whether Tor shares and/or espouses the false, slanderous and libelous views expressed by Ms. Gallo.  If that company doesn't take a stand against such lies, or even chooses to remain silent about them (despite their being propagated by one of their editors), then I will have to assume that the time has come to openly call for a boycott of Tor by all objective, non-partisan, independent fans of science fiction and fantasy.  I'll be discussing this option with other SF/F authors (and individuals involved in this controversy) during the coming days, to see whether we can co-ordinate a suitable response.

I can't imagine that any reputable company would choose to stand behind anyone on its staff who leveled such blatantly false allegations (and then showed cowardice by refusing to further explain them, or retract them when the truth had been pointed out).  For the individual concerned as well as the company, that would be the height of mendacity.

I'll be writing to Tor about this during the coming week.  I'm sure others will do so as well.  I await the company's response with interest.  I'll let you know about it here.

Peter

24 comments:

James Young said...

Yeah, there are people on the Sad Puppies list who can _lose their jobs_ based on such an allegation. Sorry, but I truly hope folks with Esquire after their name get deployed.

Amanda Green said...

Well said, Peter. I don't hold out much hope for Tor or its parent company to take action against Gallo, not when both have stood silent in the face of the comments (lies, imo) spread by others in their employ.

sanford begley said...

It is a sad day in America when a company considers it a reasonable thing to call active members of the armed forces and veterans alike Neo-Nazis. If i were an employee of Tor I would be ashamed. If I were an executive I would be incensed. There should be at least 3 firings, perhaps 4 if there is a legal connection with Teresa Nielson-Hayden. Sadly I doubt that the current establishment at Tor will even acknowledge the situation. The SF field has a lot of respect for the founder of Tor. It is generally known that he has suffered health issues. I think we will find this is evidence That the founder has nothing to do with the company now. This is a sad day for SF.

Tim Kyger said...

It's Teresa Nielsen Hayden. Spelling correction.

And yeah, boycott is ON. At least for me.

Teresa has had a checkered history inside of Tor which, frankly, appears to have resulted in several reassignments to her present position -- which appears to be a "non" position.

Full disclosure: I am a former boyfriend of Teresa's and yes, I do have a grudge and it's now about 40 years old.

RandyBeck said...

Those active on Wikipedia should be adding to the Hugo Award article, which has a section on this, and a talk page with discussions about what should go into it. (Sorry I'm not there now, but may return; I've had personal reasons to stay out of Wikipedia for a while.)

It might help keep Tor civil if they know that names will be named and remembered for a long time.

Whatever their rationale for limiting the topic, it's not a good thing.

Will McKeon said...

The only thing about boycotting Tor is that some of those working at Tor (authors/editors/etc) may not agree with Mrs. Gallo's views/comments. Should they be punished for something that Mrs. Gallo said? Unfortunately, I do not see a way of boycotting Tor without affecting them. Maybe we could try to find out what she edits as creative editor and boycott those specific titles. On the other hand, she is far enough up the chain where her words should affect the corporation. I'm on the fence on this one just based on the number of people a boycott would affect who may not agree with her words.

RandyBeck said...

I agree. Besides, people usually read authors, not publishers, and they'd be hit, too.

But Tor needs to state their position on how seriously they take this.

This wasn't just an off-topic personal opinion for her. She was commenting on a subject that her company does its business in. They can ask her to apologize, clarify, or even double-down if they agree with her.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, this is the second Tor piece I've read in the last half hour:

http://girlgeniusadventures.com/2014/01/29/a-tale-of-two-tors-be-warned-im-annoyed/

I may have to get involved.


Antibubba

Divemedic said...

Can you enlighten me on 'social justice in science fiction' ?

Glen said...

The best way to respond would be talk with booksellers at upcoming regional ABA events. The sales force for publishers interacts daily with booksellers. Booksellers have a great influence on sales, and publishers listen to them.

Attend the regionals, ask questions of the booksellers and get them up to speed on what is going on. Be factual and sad "Look at how they lets an editor say horrible things about writers and readers. Has this been affecting sales of Tor in your store? Should you reduce shelf space you give to Tor until they clean things up?

Encourage folks to do the same thing at local bookstores. Be respectful and informative. "I've heard about this horrible problem, and read some of the things said by Tor. What have they told you? Ask your Tor rep why the company is saying things that offend your customers.

You must be informative and accurate. Be prepared to talk about the Sad Puppy organizers, and have a list of the books they recommend. Ask about the sales of the SP author's list.

Tor will listen and act upon problems reported by booksellers.

Glen in Texas

Keith Glass said...

I admit that the only TOR books I've bought in the last year were John C. Wright's most recent entry in the "Count to a Trillion" series, and several short pieces by Liu Cixin.

I can get Wright from Castalia. Will forgo any Cixin until Tor responds appropriately, or. . . disappears.

My Boycott of Tor has already begun. . .

Anonymous said...

Antibubba, there's also an opinion piece on it at www.madgeniusclub.com by someone who tried to get a clarification from Ms. Gallo, with the results (unfortunately) that you'd expect.

LittleRed1

Anonymous said...

At this point, with 3 (or 4) known employees of the company speaking in similar verse without any clarification or reprimand from the company I have to assume that the people running the show over there are either incompetent or supportive of such comments. Either way, it bodes ill for the company. Unless corrective action is taken by the company I've spent my last dollar with them. They don't want me, my money, or the authors I enjoy reading, there's no reason for me to throw money at them.

T.L. Knighton said...

This whole thing has gotten so far out of hand that it's beyond amusing anymore. The same group that routinely prattles on about "slut shaming" or "fat shaming" is not involved in "thought shaming". They're trying to shame Sad Puppies into abandoning ship and letting it sink.

The problem is, we're not "fair weather friends". They started with this out of nowhere and I've been angry since then. However, I wanted to back away from the Hugos a bit. There are so many other things I'd rather talk about.

But that doesn't mean I won't call them when they cross the line, and someone pulling this? Yeah, it's on.

Old NFO said...

At this point it does begin to sound like this IS TOR's policy. And as one commenter said, the little people will be hurt the most, but this whole thing has blown so far out of proportion that it's now becoming a real issue for all of us that write. I agree with all you've said, and I'm looking forward to seeing IF you even get an answer from TOR.

Michael Z. Williamson said...

The "but the little people will be hurt, too" argument is emotional and irrelevant. By that argument, you should never boycott somewhere large, like, say, WalMart, because the minimum wage employees will suffer.

I have decided I will not be publishing anything via Tor, such as the many collections and anthologies packaged through them. They're known to try to snipe authors from other houses with large advances, but there are moral limits on my economics.

Authors are on contract, and will get paid per that contract despite a boycott. And there are other publishers.

DAW is as far left wing as you get--Don Wollheim was a card-carrying communist, and his daughter is cut from the same cloth, but they don't insult their own writers and they don't attack other authors over disagreements. Politics stop when the business begins.

I see no reason to financially compensate people who treat me so.

Rez Zircon said...

1) With regard to shrinking Tor's relative space on bookstore shelves -- at least with the chains, that space is essentially purchased by Tor. The store can't just shrink it without breaking contract. However if Tor books don't sell well enough, you can bet that space will shrink with the next contract.

2) I also read the Girl Genius story this morning, and was forcibly reminded of a tactic used by the record labels: To protect their golden geese, they like to get minor but promising acts under contract -- then never do anything to promote them, and sometimes never even recording them (and close examination of the contracts shows that the label doesn't have to do a damn thing it doesn't want to, but the band isn't allowed to release anything without label approval). The purpose of all this is purely to lock up those minor acts so they can't compete with the label's established stars.

TerryW said...

How many books has this group bought from Tor in the past year? Does this threat to punish the expression of an opinion really carry any substance?

Peter said...

@TerryW: Tor publishes David Weber, David Drake, Kevin Anderson, John Wright and others whose books I've bought. "This group", as you call it, certainly does buy those Tor products - at least up to now. In future . . . who knows?

D. Jason Fleming said...

The only thing about boycotting Tor is that some of those working at Tor (authors/editors/etc) may not agree with Mrs. Gallo's views/comments. Should they be punished for something that Mrs. Gallo said?

The only thing about waging war against Nazi Germany is that some of those living under the Nazi government (bookkeepers, clerks, etc) may not agree with Hitler's views/comments/invasions. Should they be punished for something that Mr. Hitler did?

(Since they're calling us neonazis, they brought the argumentum ad hitlerum to the table, and that means we get to use it, too.)

0007 said...

Well, crap, I didn't realize that Weber and Drake were hanging out over there.

Anonymous said...

https://www.facebook.com/betsy.wollheim/posts/994989053847706

Daw is not a friend to the Sad Puppies.

Old Surfer said...


The Girl Genius affair with Tor -
http://girlgeniusadventures.com/2014/01/29/a-tale-of-two-tors-be-warned-im-annoyed/
reminds me of a deal I once made with a kayak manufacturer to build and sell my designs. I experienced the "not invented here" syndrome along with the "running dog" you can't sell them either clause.
The Foglios need a big time lawyer and should sue the shit out of Tor - maybe an on line fund could help pay for it. It's a real pisser to see talent like theirs rolled over like that.

kamas716 said...

How many books from Tor did I purchase in the last year? 4
I bought another 5 from MacMillan owned houses.

I also have another 33 Tor books and 9 more MacMillan books on the shelf.

I realize my meager library isn't going to hurt them much, but my checkbook is the only real weapon I have to wield.