Last night I was made aware of two things: that the Sad Puppy 4 Recommendation List has been released and that I am on it, for my novella Speak Easy.

Yes, these are the same Sad Puppies that dominated fandom conversation through most of last year, and whose slates resulted in so much ink spilt, and so many No Awards given out. Yes, I am still the evil SJW Queen Bee Persian Cat Who the Hell Does She Think She Is that I was last year in the eyes of this group. I am absolutely not going to re-hash the arguments on Sad or Rabid Puppies right now. You guys know how to Google. I suggest File770 for excellent coverage.

My first reaction–and perhaps not my best reaction–was anger and confusion. I genuinely do apologize for posting my first reaction to the internet–I should know better by now. This is me, a good sleep later, trying to sort it all out logically.

I was upset because I wasn’t asked whether I was okay with being put on this list. I had thought I remembered SP saying they would ask authors for permission in the future, but it’s since been pointed out to me that my memory, as with all human cognition, is faulty, and the truth is the opposite–they, in fact, pledged not to ask permission or remove names on request.

I was immediately attacked on Twitter for this anger and confusion–aren’t I an ungrateful, horrible person for not being happy and honored that people liked my work? Aren’t I insulting my readers? Aren’t I trying to exclude certain opinions because I don’t agree with them politically? Aren’t the Puppies showing good faith by including such obviously SJW authors as myself, John Scalzi, Alyssa Wong, Nnedi Okorafor, and Ann Leckie? Shouldn’t I just sit down and shut up? Aren’t I actually the worst?

And it occurs to me that I would feel far less anger and confusion if one single person had calmly and without rancor said to me: “Hey, last year was a clusterfuck all around. This year we’re trying to put all that behind us and do a straight recommendation list. That’s all that’s going on.” But instead, it was the same instant name-calling and attacks that went down last time.

So I spent the night trying to get my thoughts in order on this. Because, yes, if you strip away all the context of the Sad Puppies campaigns, it’s just a recommendation list, and I was happy enough to be on the Locus List (which doesn’t ask permission), so I should simply be joyful that people liked Speak Easy enough to recommend others take a look at it. A recommendation list, as we have been saying all along, is not a slate.

But you can’t strip away the context. Context is content. Context is everything.

I promised last year not to allow my name on any slate, for any reason, in perpetuity. Which means that if SP4 is, somehow, a slate, it would be hypocritical of me to shrug and say I’m cool with it just because my name happens to be on it. This is where I get stuck, because I feel there is a moral morass here. Call me old-fashioned: when I give my word, it still means something to me. This puts me in an incredibly difficult position, from which there is no easy extrication.

The problem is, I spent a year listening to how the Puppies are Master Strategists. You can’t blame me for doing a Perception Roll and looking for traps. And that is my fear. That, with apologies to Admiral Akbar, it’s a trap.

I don’t want to be anyone’s shield. I want any nomination to be about my work and my work alone. I don’t want to be used to add legitimacy to a slate, I don’t want to be used to whitewash the history of a movement that, at the very minimum, has behaved poorly and rudely toward a large number of people, including me, my loved ones, and my colleagues. I don’t want to be fodder for a “we all know the first five are the real slate” strategy. I don’t want to be used as a gotcha!, forced to withdraw in order to keep my moral house in order and make room for more works along the lines of “Safe Space as Rape Room” and “Sad Puppies Bite Back” or remain on the list and force a conversation about No Awarding so that the Puppies can watch the people they targeted last year get No Awarded or call us all hypocrites at large for not doing it–victory declared at any result.

I don’t want to be used. Hashtag Not Your Shield. I want my work to be my work, and that’s it. If I get nominated, I want to know it happened fairly. That it was only about people liking my work.

And maybe, just maybe, that’s what’s happening. They seem to have done everything people said they should do to make it a recommendation list and not a slate. It’s democratic, it’s open, there are either more or less than five recs for every slot. The Rabid Puppy list has almost nothing in common with the Sad Puppy list.

But it’s absurd to get angry at someone for thinking there might be something more to it. After all the talk about manipulation and strategy, all the insults flung and accusations levied, this is the result. It is hard to trust. And it is impossible to just pull the tablecloth out from under the Sad Puppies and leave the flowers and the silver still standing. The Puppies are a political group. They specifically did what they did last year to make “SJW heads explode.” Members have engaged in racists, homophobic, and sexist rhetoric. They have stated that the last several years of Hugos, during which I won and was nominated, were a lie and a farce, only existing due to affirmative action.

But many members did not engage in that rhetoric. The relationship between Sad and Rabid was always fluid, strange, and half-obscured. Many people simply wanted more populist work on the ballot, and they had every right to want that. Every right to have their voice heard–just not to the exclusion of all other voices. No group is monolithic.

But the Sad Puppy name is inextricably entwined with that history. Remember why the Puppy was Sad in the first place. You can’t just separate that past and say it’s all fine now. You certainly can’t, as some have in messages to me, say there was never anything wrong with it and everyone else was evil. At least in terms of what I’ve seen on social media in the last 24 hours, Puppies still want to fight, still want to accuse, still don’t want to say anything in the ball park of “Hey, it’s not like that” and explain things in a non-inflammatory way. This worries me. This makes me think about Admiral Akbar.

So what do I do? Honestly, I still don’t know. My stomach hurts. At the moment, it really does look like people just liked my book. Anyone could recommend something, after all. Locus doesn’t need my permission and neither does anyone else, so requiring it from the Puppies alone, as long as it is not a slate, would be strange. I’ve been on some WEIRD rec lists in my time, I tell you what. And I will absolutely not dismiss readers because of the URL where their desires are expressed.

It all comes down to whether this recommendation list is a list or a slate.

Right now, it doesn’t look like a slate. Right now, it looks like a list complied by people with extremely wide-ranging tastes and interests. Right now, I’m inclined to try to mend fences across fandom in whatever little way I can by giving them the benefit of the doubt that this is all in good faith–because I want to be given the benefit of the doubt that I act in good faith. So for right now, that’s what I’m going to do. I am going to believe in the better angels of our–and Puppy–nature. I’m going to choose to believe that they looked at the thousand suggestions of ways to recommend books that would not run afoul of the spirit of the Hugos and adjusted their methods accordingly. I’m going to choose to believe that the political rhetoric of the Puppy movement is a thing of the past, and from here on out, it will be about what each and every one of us said it should be about–good books. Nothing else.

If this changes, if all that ugliness comes roaring back and it becomes about something other than the content of books, I will change my mind and very quickly. But for right now, I have to try to believe that things can get better. This is my Pollyanna moment. I sincerely hope I don’t regret it.

If you take anything away from all of this it should be merely that Hugo nominations close on March 31st. Nominate what you love, don’t think about anything else. Love is all that matters, in the end.

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The last book in the Fairyland series, The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home, comes out today.

And I’ll be talking about my book a lot over the next week while I tour the eastern half of the country. Doing the authorial dance, trying to talk people into buying this funny orange thing with a wyvern on the cover. You know the drill by now–if you like the book, tell people about it. Any way you can. That’s really all there is to it.

But I wanted to take a minute out of the publicity waltz to say something with all my heart.

Thank you.

Thank you to everyone who made this book real. Everyone who read Palimpsest and asked where they could find that Fairyland book I mentioned. Everyone who read and linked and donated when Fairyland was just a baby story, posted on this website every Monday. Everyone who fell in love with September and Ell and Saturday and wanted the best for them. Everyone who has ever bought a copy, come to a reading, sent me a note telling me how much the stories meant to them. Everyone who ever brought me coffee or a cross-stitch or a necklace or a hug. My family and my friends and my readers, who are both.

You are my Green Wind and my Leopard of Little Breezes. You took me to Fairyland. Gratitude doesn’t begin to cover it.

 

Fairyland is the real and true piece of magic in my life. It has made everything else possible. I am beyond lucky to have spent these years with September and with you. Nothing is the same as it was before the Green Wind came to that little girl’s window. I owe my whole life to those who have believed in me and my stories, to you.

I say it’s the last book in the series. But I would be shocked if I never return to this world I love so much. This is September’s story finishing–but never really finishing. Nothing ever does, you know. The curtain closes but the play never even slows down. Fairyland doesn’t stop. She just catnaps.

I hope to continue writing for a long time yet, and hopefully I’ll manage to make something else half as wonderful as a Wyverary. I hope to meet every single one of you, somehow. I’ve got a good fifty or sixty years left. It’s doable.

But in the meantime–thank you. Thank you for reading, for caring, for loving, for dreaming along with me. For being the magic in Fairyland.

 

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The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way HomeIt’s that time, friends. We’ve come to September’s last adventure in Fairyland – as of March 1, 2016, you can purchase The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home wherever books are sold!

All the lost Queens and Kings of Fairyland are back, and there’s to be a race to decide who gets the crown (and all attendant duties). All of our friends are back as well – our best wyverary A-Through-L, the dear Marid Saturday, the changelings Hawthorne and Tamburlaine, and, of course, the wombat Blunderbuss and the gramophone Scratch. September’s parents are even invited to this last mad dash through the wonders of Fairyland!

All they’re waiting for is you.

Before reading this last Fairyland novel, be sure to check out the prequel story “The Girl Who Ruled Fairyland — For a Little While,” courtesy of Tor.com.

We also have a press kit that you can download – it even includes a bookmark-making activity! Bookstore having an event? Parent with a need for an afternoon diversion? Download the PDF here: Press kit for The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home.

(To download: right-click the download link above and choose “Save link as…” to save the file to your computer.)

Be sure to share all your thoughts and excitement over The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home on social media using the official hashtag: #LastFairyland. We can’t wait to see what you think!

And be sure to follow CMV on tour – her first stop’s in Lexington, KY at Joseph-Beth Booksellers on Tuesday, March 1. There will be a Velocipede Migration (bring your bike!), a costume contest, scavenger hunt, and more! You can find the rest of her tour dates on her Appearances page.

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The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way HomeHello, friends of Fairyland! The last volume of September’s adventures in Fairyland will be coming to a bookstore (or device!) near you on March 1st. I know that may seem like too soon to say goodbye to September, Saturday, A-Through-L, Hawthorne, Tamerlaine, or any of the other friends we’ve made over the years… But I also recognize the eager and wicked gleam in your eye, wanting to take just one peek behind the cover before the official release.

Well, you’re in luck! Entertainment Weekly has scored an exclusive excerpt from The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home. Click on the link below to read the first chapter:

Read an excerpt from Catherynne Valente’s final Fairyland novel.

Posted in News Comment

You know, I’ve gotten away from long form blogging in the last few years. Gotten used to saying what I need to say in 140 characters or less. But sometimes, the Internet gives you a thing so beautiful, so perfect, so precious, that you just have to stretch out on your online yoga mat and get ready to hold your goddamned warrior pose.

Today, I am going to translate this essay from Think Piece to English for you. As far as I can tell, it is written by a woman, from the point of view of a hypothetical man, in first person, to a different hypothetical lonely heart woman. It’s some kind of online dating profile Inception. It’s the distilled essence of a hundred thousand Marilyn Monroe quotations on Tinder mated with a million dudes who can’t handle you at your worst but also cannot handle Taco Bell’s dollar menu.

Are you ready for some football weird quasi-medieval unrealistic dating advice?

To my sweet wild woman, I know why it hasn’t worked out with anyone else—you don’t need a man, but a goddamn warrior.

Your previous relationships have not been successful because you have refrained from dating members of the active military and/or domestic abusers. Bad female! No biscuit.

You are the strength of Turkish coffee at sunrise, darlin’, and don’t try to pretend that you’re not. You are one of the wild ones, and no matter how you tried to hide that fact, you can’t be anything other than what you are—and that’s okay. 

You taste like the bin at a cigar club and have severe insomnia. Also no one can stand to be around you due to diagnosed Severe Manic Pixie Dream Girlism and probably all those one-martini lunches to prove to yourself that you’re “one of the wild ones” while working in a mid-level PR firm. AM I DOING NEGGING RIGHT?

You are just as you are supposed to be, magnificently wild in all of your chaotic beauty.

Your make-up skills could use some work.

I know you’ve had your heart broken and I know that you don’t understand why it always seems to never work out, but I’ve finally figured it out:

You don’t need a man, you need a goddamn warrior.

I KNOW WHY YOUR RELATIONSHIPS DON’T WORK OUT IT IS BECAUSE THEY WERE NOT RELATIONSHIPS WITH ME.

P.S. I am not a warrior by any definition of the word.

It doesn’t matter if this warrior drives a Jeep or a shiny sports car, and it won’t matter if he wears silk or cotton—it will not even matter if he works in a high-rise, or on the night shift.

This is an excellent deal for “the warrior.” The Warrior doesn’t need a job, a car, or even a shirt. Unlike all those non-warrior suckers you’ve been dating. You’re one of the wild ones! Wild ones like dates to the Hostess aisle at the convenience store, right? ETHAN HAWKE REALITY BITES IS MY FAVORITE FICTIONAL CHARACTER.

What is going to matter is that when it comes to taking bets on your heart, he is going to be high stakes—all the way.

I am definitely going to stalk you. Like, before, during, and after any interaction we have. I will uncomfortably over-commit on every level. Coffee or tea? COFFEE IS THE ONLY BEVERAGE TEA IS FOR COMMUNISTS. BOOM. I AM A WARRIOR.

Also, when it comes to taking bets on your heart, I would put all your money on “This guy played Vampire: The Masquerade way too much in the 90s and seriously thinks his spirit animal is a “lone wolf.” Someday I will find him on all fours in my kitchen snarling at my pug over a piece of bacon that fell off the counter.”

This warrior of yours will crave your strength, and your intensity. He’s going to look at you and not see something to tame, but something to just fuckin’ admire.

Whoa, whoa, whoa, who brought up taming? It’s like we all went to a nice dinner party together and this guy brought a live antelope. What’s the matter, you SQUARES? Don’t you like my fuckin’ antelope? Only losers refuse to acknowledge where their food comes from! Look at your goddamned jello salad! What’s that, Jeanine? SOUP? Jesus Christ, just get a knife out of the drawer and do what I do! This will bond us all together as an IT Department, I swear.

Also, the warrior drops his g’s because g’s are the wussiest letter. Fuck G’s, man!

This warrior of yours won’t be someone that you can manipulate or play with as you have in the past, so honey, don’t even try—and trust me, you’re going to love him even more because of it.

He is a Men’s Rights Activist and active Redditor.

Because you aren’t just a woman, you’re a goddamn goddess.

Let’s just take a minute to admire “goddamned” as an adjective modifying “goddess.”

Pretty much the only way I can make sense of this is: “You are a super terrible goddess who really pissed off your Olympian co-workers and will definitely not be invited to Secret Santa this year. GOD, Jeanine!”

Your fierceness is going to bring him to his knees every single time he looks into your gorgeous eyes 

This is going to make going to the movies super awkward. Every time he accidentally looks you in the eye he will fall to his knees uncontrollably, and probably uncontrollably weeping, while the kid shoveling popcorn stares, open-mouthed, silently praying for death.

But the difference is, unlike the others, he isn’t going to be scared off. 

By looking you in the eye. SUPER WARRIOR TIME.

No, this time, you will have finally met your match—because a simple man for you just won’t do. You need someone to match the fire in your eyes with his own. Not only that, my little wild thing, but this warrior of yours is going to want to encourage the flames instead of trying to douse them with his own insecurities.

But he will definitely be the kind of condescending XBox Live poweruser who calls you “my little wild thing.” Nope, no insecurities there! His wildness is WARRIOR STRONG ROAR YES. Yours is adorable. He will encourage you to commit arson without trying to douse your flames with nagging bullshit like: “That’s not your house” or “Help I am on fire.”

Because for you, a warrior is the only man who will ever live in the wild with you.

The Warrior is homeless.

He may not have to slay any dragons to earn your love, but he would still walk through fire if it meant seeing that amazing smile that you hold in reserve for only him.

NO SMILING AT ANYONE ELSE. SMILES ARE ONLY FOR THE WARRIOR. HE EARNED THOSE SMILES! BY NOT SLAYING DRAGONS AND NOT CALLING YOU BACK!

This is the thing, free spirit, this warrior you seek….he’s seeking you too.

The Warrior swipes right on everyone, just in case.

For he’s had failed relationships that have left him wondering if maybe he was meant to be alone for the rest of his journey

The Warrior is an MGTOW.

…and you’re going to change all of that for him. You both have been travelling along on your separate journeys and have been doing an okay job at it, but that about to change too.

THAT’S RIGHT, LADIES! YOU CAN CHANGE HIM! Good thing we’re still running datingin1955.exe You’re gonna FIX him! It always works out!

Because baby, when you and this warrior of yours meet and collide—it’s going to be a love set on fire.

This is not your house. Help, I am on fire.

Don’t try to run this time—I know your heart has been broken before, and that you’re not used to things working out, but this time it’s different. Give yourself time to see that.

*Jabba tongue* You will learn to appreciate me. Don’t try to run. No, seriously. The yard is full of mines.

This warrior of yours needs to see that it’s possible for someone to see all of his wild, and still be there when he craves his freedom and ventures off into this world for a bit. 

He normally lives in a timeshare in an alternate dimension where the Loch Ness Monster rules Britain with gentle benevolence. He just saunters by every once in awhile to do laundry and post to his blog.

You won’t always need to follow him, just as he won’t always follow you. 

You will lose each other in shopping malls for weeks at a time.

Let yourself stay wild, even when all you want to do is curl up in that spot along his side and forget the rest of the world exists.

He is a Tauntaun. Curl up in that spot along his side and keep warm.

Let yourself still wander naked under the full moon

Don’t do that.

Drink moonshine with the stars. 

Stars will burn you to death and also they have been sober for one million days so fucking have a little respect, lady.

Let yourself feel the pull of the wind on your heart

The Warrior has sacrificed you on a pyramid of skulls because that is the only way you can feel the blue-corn moon pull of the wind on your still-beating heart.

…and the sun toward a new journey. Because this warrior is going to love you because of your wild—and he’ll want you to keep it.

Swipe left on grammar.

Also the Warrior gets to decide which of your personality traits you get to keep! The others he will BATTLE TO THE DEATH.

You’ll be in this together now, this amazing, crazy, chaotic, wonderfully heartbreaking life

Wait, what? I did not order the heartbreaking life. I want the other one.

Because it takes a warrior to love a goddess. And it takes a goddess to show a warrior what real love is.

Look, the Warrior. You’re like 35. If you don’t know what real love is yet, this whole Red Sonja schtick isn’t gonna help. At best you are a Thumb Warrior, so settle down.

So pack up your insecurities and your ideas about picket fences

We will not be able to afford a home with you supporting me ha ha.

Because that was never you anyway. You were born knowing that you were destined for more, and now is the time for you to see what all those dreams look like.

More = the Warrior. Your dreams look like the Warrior. Your destiny is a dude with facial tattoos and an extensive vinyl collection. That’s it. Not painting or writing or politics or coding. Just this guy right here. Aw, yeah.

There is no stopping a love like this, so promise me you’ll hold out just a little bit longer.

There is no stopping the Warrior. Consent is funny! Love means never getting to say no! WARRIOR.

Have a little bit of hope, and always give love just one more try, because I promise you my sweet wild woman—the love that you seek is seeking you as well.

The call is coming from inside the house.

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