The Cool Kids’ Table

I’ve never sat at it.

When I was a kid in the old USSR, there was nothing “cool” about me. I was kind of scrawny, shy, and I had that damn Jewish last name, so teachers and other students in Soviet schools shunned me as a Jew, ensuring I never got to engage in activities with the other kids. Yeah… I was that lonely kid you saw on a swing by herself in kindergarten while all the other kids were building huge forts and playing team games.

Yes, that's a Soviet birth certificate, and yes, that's the word

Yes, that’s my real Soviet birth certificate, and yes, that’s the word “Jew” I’ve circled. And yes, it followed you everywhere.

My last name in Russian sounds like the Russian word for “hockey puck,” so guess what my fellow students called me back then! They also beat me around quite a bit – much like a hockey puck. I was a Jew after all, so beating up on me became pretty much sport.

When I came to the United States, I was definitely not a cool kid. My parents didn’t have much money – well… really hardly any at all – so I would wear the same clothes every day, which didn’t endear me to my fellow students. They never bought sweets, or junk food, or sodas. I never got ice cream. We didn’t have money for such frivolities. I tasted cereal for the first time in my life when I was nine years old, and it seemed like an amazing treat at the time! What furniture we did have was procured from other people’s trash. So was our TV – a tiny little black and white thing that my dad fixed up, so he could watch the news and learn English. So kids from the neighborhood didn’t come visit. I had no friends. Add to that the fact that they thought I was Russian (despite the fact that I tried to convince them I was French) at the height of the Cold War made me not so popular.

When I was older, I went to summer camp. People weren’t mean to me, but I certainly was not one of the cool kids. I didn’t have many friends. I was generally left behind when my bunk mates got together to play games or go swimming. I spent a lot of time by myself, reading, writing letters to my parents, or walking through the wooded areas of the campground. I had learned sufficient English by then, but I was a bit introverted, and I preferred to spend time by myself.

I was never invited to cool kid parties in middle school – you know those parties where everyone plays “spin the bottle” and hooks up with members of the opposite sex. I did go to some, but I felt awkward and weird, and when I invited kids in my class to my own birthday party, one person showed up, and embarrassed, I never wanted another party.

I did find my voice, so to speak, in high school choir. I participated in concerts and plays. I loved the stage. But ultimately, we were choir and theater geeks, and my husband likes to remind me that I was the type of kid he would have beaten up in high school. I wasn’t a cheerleader. I didn’t play sports. I was a music geek, and I was expected to and did hang out with my own kind.

Frankly, I like it that way.

I don’t care about being popular, or cool, or well liked. I have never chosen the easy or popular path. That’s never interested me. So when time came for a decision about whether or not to support the Sad Puppies, it was easy, and the way the cliquish “cool kids” acted at this year’s Hugo Awards ceremony cemented that choice.

Larry Correia started the Sad Puppy campaign in hopes that the Hugo Awards would become a bigger, more inclusive tent that rewarded good storytelling regardless of politics, personal views, or religion. What culminated in the awards ceremony this year was snark, arrogance, downright cruelty, and slaps in the face to many deserving, well-regarded, talented authors and editors.

There were personal attacks – racist attacks, in fact against a kind, generous, talented man. There were false accusations of racism against some of the kindest, most generous people I know by people who are their peers. Arrogant racists, who claim moral superiority, because they feel entitled to abuse anyone who is white or male and has the temerity to not feel guilty about it, see it fit to impugn the intelligence and soul of one of the brightest, kindest women I’ve had the pleasure of knowing.

This is, of course, the same Cuntasaurus Rex who issued a racist reading challenge to all its drooling, frothing acolytes to stop reading anything written by straight, white, cis male authors for one year. The same wackjob SJW who, by her own admission, couldn’t get through anything written by those evil white oppressors, and would get all ragey and quit reading, because PRIVILEGE! Or something…  has the temerity to impugn the Mensa-level intelligence of Sarah Hoyt – a successful, Latina female author, whose talent and wit Tempest, who admits to have mooched off her rich friends for a while after leaving her oh-so-privileged New York existence, couldn’t even begin to match!

But hey… Tempest is one of the cool kids, right?

Yeah, if that daft bint is at the cool kids table, pardon me while I eat with the nerds!

No, the Sad Puppies will never be at the cool kids table. They will always be the nerds – old fashioned, dedicated to actual talent, strength of writing, storytelling, and love of the craft. They will never be the progtards who worry more about the color of the author’s skin, the political leanings of the writer, the pronoun he or she (YES, I’M USING THE BINARY, YOU MICROAGGRESSED ASSHOLES! DEAL WITH IT) prefers, or the sexual orientation the author happens to be. The Sad Puppies will always choose talent and hard work over pronouns, race, and gender. And that makes them not cool in the eyes of the establishment science fiction and fantasy community.

Not cool. Not progressive. And therefore, intentionally left out in the cold – just like that five-year-old Jewish kid on the swing, sitting alone while all the others built forts.

Well, that’s OK. These are the people I prefer to associate with anyway. Because I love literature. Because I love art. Because I love integrity and honesty. Because I admire talent, intelligence, and dedication to one’s art. And because I think that’s what the Hugo Awards should be about – innovation, imagination, and ingenuity. And I’ll take those a thousand times over the racism of K. Tempest Bradford, the ignorance of Arthur Chu, the disdainful conceit of David Gerrold, the disingenuousness of George R.R. Martin, and the stubborn, arrogant, defamatory libel of Mary Robinette Kowal.

They can have the cool kids’ table. I’m proud to stand with the Sad Puppies. Again.

26 responses

  1. The analogy works, up to a point, BUT…

    These are not the “Cool Kids” from high school. They were most likely just as rejected as the rest of us geeks, but they never stopped panting after clique acceptance.

    The REAL ‘cool kids’ don’t read Science Fiction, unless it has been praised by the New York Times as Litracha. They read about The Environment, and International Relations, without knowing much about either. They have learned that they have to tolerate some of the Right Kind of geek, but that doesn’t mean that the Anti-Puppies are really In. They buy Important Books, and maybe read them. They certainly make sure that nice, clean copies are prominent on their shelves.

    The Anti-Puppies think that of they can make SF like those Important Books, they will be In. They won’t.

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    1. They are the cool kids of the sci-fi establishment. They have positioned themselves to take over the community, and they’ve kept others out for years. These are the geeks of yesteryear, who quite obviously are desperate for payback. They may have experienced slights in their younger years, but now they’ll show everyone! They’re the “plastics” of the sci-fi world.

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  2. Reblogged this on The Arts Mechanical and commented:
    I’ve learned a lot about life from the refugees of the Soviet Empire that I’ve known. About perseverance and forbearance. And about the jackboots and the people that wear them.

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    1. Yes they have dealt with rejection by forming a smaller clique and repeating the same jackass behavior by rejecting others. I’ve seen this so many times. it’s why little storefront churches almost always reach a point of instability between a hundred and two hundred members. Then someone easy offended decides some of the other members aren’t holy enough because they wear blue shirts or drink tea and they split.

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  3. I agree with your sentiment, though they are not the true “cool” kids in any way other than in their own minds. Being a true “cool” kid is not something you can self determine, it requires others outside and lower than the “Cool” kids group to think of them as “Cool”. If Sci Fi was the school, SJW’s are the smelly kids that never washed. Those smelly kids came is and simply started smearing shit all around proclaiming it art, with few teachers not only allowing it but encouraging it. As time went on and the stink of the shit smeared on the walls grew worse in the Sci Fi School, more and more kids simply stopped going. Those that have not left yet are either hiding in the few class rooms that have not been smeared with shit, afraid that those stinky kids might find those rooms and smear shit in them if they make to much noise, or Hanging out in the very large abandoned chicken coop that the school had been using as storage (Baen and Indie). Despite them driving most people away leaving them the biggest group around, those smelly kids still are not considered cool by the few that remain.

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  4. I think the analogy works well, in that ‘we’ are considered the lowest of the low. When we’re ostracized by the alpha geeks, that says something. I think JSF is right about Baen/Indie being like your Russian Jews. I can only admire folks like you that not only survived that behaviour, but have succeeded in spite of it.

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    1. You know… I never considered myself a victim. I look back on it now, and I think that I fought and fought hard. And in the end I won.

      There was this kid who was also Jewish and who also was abused in my first and second grade class. I left for the U.S. He remained and finished school. Believe it or not, he and I found one another on Facebook recently. Not only does he live in the U.S. now, but he’s an IT pro, lives just a few miles away, and his kid plays hockey right across the street from where I live. He’s doing really well. A kid who was abused. A lot. And didn’t defend himself as hard as I did.

      We all grew up well. We made it. The pathetic SJW types, for most of whom suffering meant they didn’t get that pony they wanted for their 6th birthday, are still living in their alleged “victimhood” and compensating by being horrible to others.

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  5. I never saw the Baen crew as being a part of any ostracized subculture, I only see success. Maybe within the microcosm of Worldcon, but Worldcon is only a bare handful of people out of a colossal readership and world of fandom.
    Maybe I had to be there.

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    1. Much as soldiers vote with their feet, readers vote with their pocketbooks (or credit cards, or debit cards, or whatever). I’m pretty sure that is what will ultimately determine the real winner of this particular culture war and not the presentation of some insular and increasingly meaningless award.

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    2. Just find the video of the awards ceremony, and watch it – then read what happened to Toni, and what happened to Wright’s wife.

      Sure, Baen is successful – but so were many Jewish Geman businessmen prior to 1930…. If you look into research into 1930s Germany, there were WAY too many rank and file Germans who noted in their diaries and journals that they didn’t like the Nazis, but weren’t compelled to say anything about the initial acts against the Jews because they thought it was a passing fad that would disappear (with the Nazis) in the next election. We all know how well that worked.

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    3. Just because Baen is successful does not mean they are not ostracized in the publishing world. Pretty much all of the major publishers simply dismiss Baen as “that Conservative Publisher” and other similar snide comments (which obviously they are not). In fact their success comes from doing exactly what the reason other publishers are ostracizing them. They do not care about pushing message fic, or about the authors, skin color, sex, or politics. They just care about publishing good books that people want to read. Because of it Bean’s sales numbers have been growing while all the other major publisher’s sales who have decided to story 2nd to other factors “to appeal to a larger audience” sales numbers have been declining year after year.

      So even thou in my example Baen and indie might be hanging out in the large abandoned chicken coop turned warehouse, the place is absolutely hoping, with crowds of people eagerly wanting in. That In my opinion makes them the true Cool Kids of the school, because they are the ones that everyone prefers to be with given the option.

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  6. “You know… I never considered myself a victim.” No, if you had, you wouldn’t be here, nor as successful as you are. ‘Victims’ seldom fight their way out of that trap…

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  7. כתבה יפה
    красиво написано
    Escrita bellamente
    Beautifully written!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Спасибо большое. Merci beaucoup. Danke schon. Hvala vam.🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I was one of the cool kids,not missing a hell of a lot,the so called uncool kids had parties/circles of friends ect.,I was actually for the most part a loner,just hung in the cool kids circle as it were.

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  9. There’s a wide distance between spoiled, smug brats who think they are God’s gift for everything, and people who do the real hard work without clamoring for attention. Whose work do you think will last longer? Tolkien and Julius Caesar, or David Tribbles Gerrold? Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury and Edgar Allen Poe, or someone whose mass market paperback I read in one sitting on my lunch hour, and can’t even remember the author’s name?

    You set up a challenge here, whether you realize it or not. If we want our work to last and be remembered, we can’t afford to be politically correct. They don’t want to be told the truth. They don’t want good work. They are in such denial about reality that I sometimes think they need some serious professional help with that problem.🙂

    The pendulum will swing the other way, eventually, and people who do good, solid work will still be there while the flotsam this bunch of rancid spoiled brats is forgotten.

    I hope my work really pisses them off.

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  10. i know Tempest a little from the OWW. She’s always been a shit-stirrer. I don’t think it has anything to do with politics or any of that. It’s just that she’s a little self-entitled bitch. She’s also a little of a job sniffer. She hangs around writers and year after year I find myself wondering: when exactly was her first novel published?

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    1. She writes short stories and has parlayed that into a professional victim career. She’s a horrible person from everything I’ve seen. Just awful.

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    2. Nicki, could you add a little to that? Do you mean that Bradford hasn’t had anything accepted for publication and is using the rejection as a way to play the victim? If so, that’s not just lame. It is incredibly childish.

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      1. I don’t know if she hasn’t had a novel accepted for publication. Apparently she writes a couple of short stories per year and the rest of her time is spent complaining about ciswhiteheteromale evil. She said something on her Twitter feed about a novella, but by that time I was too bored to care.

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    3. Okay, thanks. I’ve run into people like that. I just wanted to make sure I understood. Thanks!

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  11. I mean JOCK sniffer.

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  12. Y.B. ben Avraham

    Лисица, I’ve only known you a year, but (from one schoolyard social outcast to another) you’ll always be one of the Cool Kids in my book.🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do love you lots!!!

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  13. “Cool Kids” syndrome arises from the formation of an “in group” and subsequent exclusion from that group. But it has a fatal weakness: The “cool kids” over-value the desire of others to enter their circle. By implication, the worst blow you can deal them is to ignore them.

    As I’ve said too many times by now, let them have the awards. Awards don’t create greatness, nor can they make mediocrity great. Be happy with high-volume sales and readers who’d crawl five miles over broken glass for your latest novel.

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  14. Micro aggression! Hahaha!

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