The Wind’s Hind Quarters 6/30

aka Quit Zoomin’ Those Paws Through The Air

Starring in today’s roundup: Charlie Jane Anders, Jon F. Zeigler, Arianne, Melina D, Paul Kincaid, Martin Wisse, Justin Howe, Lou Antonelli, Doctor Strangelove, Terry Weyna, Spacefaring Kitten, Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag, Grac and embrodski. (Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editors of the day Richard Brandt and Daniel Dern.)

Charlie Jane Anders on io9

“Eight Books You Need To Know About To Understand The Hugo Awards Snafu” – June 30

about books

But all the discussions about the Puppies, pro and con, tend to bog down in generalizations. So let’s get specific. Here are eight books that can help illuminate this mess. Because this is about books, or it’s about nothing at all.

[Anders takes a highly interesting approach, contrasting what reviewers and Sad/Rabid Puppies advocates have to say about these eight sf works:]

  • The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
  • Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
  • Monster Hunter Legion by Larry Correia
  • Blackout by Mira Grant
  • Redshirts by John Scalzi
  • Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
  • The Book of Feasts and Seasons by John C. Wright
  • Seveneves by Neil Stephenson

 

 

Jon F. Zeigler on Sharrukin’s Palace

“The Hugo Dispute: An Assessment” – June 30

[Thorough article. This is just an excerpt of two of the topics:]

Over at Amazing Stories, Steve Davidson recently blogged about possible fan responses to this mess. Some of his suggestions strike me as either impractical or actively harmful, but I think he’s on the right track with at least one item:

“First, the crafting of a formal statement that articulates the position that Fandom and Fans (which includes authors, artists, editors, podcasters, bloggers, fan writers, fan artists and everyone) do not game awards (or other fannish institutions) for personal, political or financial gain. Further, that individuals who may be eligible for awards state formally that they do not grant permission for third parties to include them or their works in voting campaigns or slates or organized voting blocs and that if their names or works are found on such, it is without their express permission.”

As a purely voluntary principle for creators in this space, I think that’s well worth considering. So here’s my line in the sand, to be repeated if and when it becomes fully relevant.

I won’t participate in organizing a slate for any industry award. If and when I publish something that’s eligible, I will not give my permission for that work to be included on any slate. If someone includes my work on a slate without my permission, and that work reaches the ballot, I will withdraw it from consideration. If that means the award becomes irrelevant to my success as an author, so be it.

I can succeed without having to chase fan politics. I can do that by pursuing the work I love: writing and selling stories. If that isn’t enough, I don’t intend to waste my time stewing over might-have-beens.

Now, as it happens, the argument above assumes that the rules of the awards process aren’t going to change. If they do change to make slate voting more costly or difficult, that mitigates the problem. There are multiple ways to get that result, some of which admittedly constitute a cure worse than the disease.

Fortunately, there’s a proposed rule change that will be considered at the WSFS business meeting this year, and that seems very promising. That’s the so-called E Pluribus Hugo proposal, a modification of the procedure for counting nomination votes.

I’ve spent some time looking at the EPH proposal. In fact, while I don’t claim to be an expert, the comparative study of election systems is familiar to me (my professional background is in mathematics and computer science). Thus far I’m quite impressed.

 

Melina D on Subversive Reader

“Hugos 2015 – Where to now?” – July 1

So what do I do next?

I was talking to my sister about the Hugos the other night. My sister is not in the community (though she does read and watch speculative media), but she’s worked in politics, so she understands a lot about the political process and it was relatively easy to explain how the slate dominated the awards this year. She helped me clarify some of my thoughts and then asked the question:

“So what are you going to do about it?”

Funnily enough, I’d been turning this question over in my head for a few days. What was I going to do to make my voice heard? How was I going to stand up and say ‘I want the best writing – the absolute best – to be nominated for and win Hugos Awards.’ I want writing which makes me feel something, writing which makes me stay up late reading, writing which makes me want to tell everyone about what I just read.

I have two main powers as a supporting member – I can nominate and I can vote. There is a third power though – I can write about it. I can write about the stories and books I read and why I love them or why they don’t quite work for me and why other people should go to read them. I can write about the nominees and why I would vote for one or the other. The power of the internet means that I can put my voice out there.

I can also read more. This Hugo ‘season’ has allowed me to find a lot of new places to find short fiction and I’ve already started reading some from the first half of the year. I’m reading more blogs and online magazines and looking at their book reviews and announcements. I’ve made sure that I’m putting more time into reading – even if it’s just a short story before bed.

There’s a few places I can go to find 2015 stories and media, but I’d also like to open it here. What new fiction or nonfiction are you consuming? What have you really enjoyed? What would you like to share with others? Leave a comment, tell me about it. I might go on to read and review it, I might not, but it gives me new places to explore and new things to try. I might find a new author I absolutely love, or find myself reading a new type of story I’d never even thought about before.

With more reading, I’m going to feel more confident nominating. And by sharing my reading, I hope I can encourage others to read and nominate their favourite stories of the year. Maybe it won’t be enough to negate the slate, but at least I’m doing something positive.

 

Paul Kincaid on BestScienceFictionBooks.com

“A Reply to Kevin Standlee on the Hugos”  – June 30

[Excerpt is first of four points.]

1: No, I do not want a “Strong Leader”, and that is not what I said. What I want is a more responsive organisation. Every award that I know of has a mechanism in place that would allow for a change in the rules between one award presentation and the next. Some of these amount to a strong leader, most do not. None of them takes at least two years to put in place any rule change.

Situations change, and in our modern digital age they change very rapidly indeed. It surely makes sense that awards should be able to respond just as rapidly. As it is, whatever might be proposed at the next WSFS meeting cannot take effect until after it is ratified at the following WSFS meeting in 2016, which means it will be the 2017 awards before there is any actual change. If the Sad and Rabid Puppies behaved within the rules this year, as indeed they did, then they have free rein to do exactly the same next year. That does not strike me as an award process that is fit for purpose.

Here’s is a proposal to make the award more responsive without a “Strong Leader”, (it may not be the only possibility or the best, but it is at least a notion that could be considered): I have seen a number of proposals online for possible changes to the Hugo rules. Why not provide a venue online where these proposals can be thoroughly debated by all interested parties, so that when the next WSFS meeting comes along all that is needed is for the proposal to be ratified or not by the meeting, and lo, the rule change is made, there and then, within the year? As it is, whatever debate has gone on previously, the proposal can only formally be made at the next WSFS meeting, by those who can attend the Worldcon (an expensive commitment, especially if it is on a different continent), and will then only be ratified by those attending the next WSFS meeting at the next Worldcon (yet another expense). By moving the debate online and making the WSFS meeting a ratification body, I think you would actually make the Hugos more democratic, not less.

So no, Kevin, I do not want a strong leader.

 

Martin Wisse on Wis[s]e Words

“If you want to change the Hugos, understand their history” – June 30

Okay, I don’t want to begrudge anybody their Hugo rant — ghu knows I’ve written enough and in fact I’d agree with quite a bit of this criticism:…

The Hugos are the way they are, with all their strengths and weaknesses because they’re the result of a decades long specific democratic process and the 2015 categories and rules are the fossilised remains of this process. You cannot understand the Hugos properly unless you not only know that the Best Semi-prozine category was created to shield all other fanzines from the Locus juggernaut, but also that the same sort of thing happened with the Best podcast category, the long struggle to get comics recognised properly and why there are two editorial categories and what went before that.

And not only that, you need to know the process and rules under which these changes are made, like the proposers of E Pluribus Hugo frex do seem to. You need to understand how the business meetings work as well as why and how it was established, even without Kevin Standlee to prompt you. You need to be a bit of a process nerd to be honest. (You also need to realise that much of this was designed by Americans, who seem to have a national weakness for over complicated voting systems with huge barriers to entry…)

This bone deep understanding and awareness of what is and isn’t possible given the history and current structure of WSFS and the Hugos is likely why people like Kevin Standlee might be a bit dismissive of such criticsm as well as looking overly lawyerly. That’s the risk of being an insider, you have a much better grasp on the mechanism of the system and less of an idea of what it looks like from the outside

But what you should also realise is that knowning this history and being familiar with the whole process more than likely also gives you an overwhelming sense of how fragile the whole structure is, how easy it is for a well intended proposal or rules change to damage or destroy WSFS. I see a deep fear and wariness behind that “slow and prone to complexify process, a desire to err on the side of caution, knowning how close it has come to all going kablooey.

 

Justin Howe on 10 Bad Habits

“Caring is Meaningless” – June 30

This is a thing I wrote in response to some SFF fandom bullshit going on. If you’re reading this and don’t know what the Sad/Rabid Puppies are, well, I envy you. Stay unaware. Don’t google it. Google prehistoric squirrels or Steven Universe conspiracy theories instead. It’ll be time better spent. For the rest of us poor bastards who have eaten of the Fruit of Bullshit from the Tree of Train Wreck, this post is for us.

When someone says, “Well, at least I care!” all they’re saying is, “Well, at least I have an opinion!” I’ve read this from one of the Sad Pup ringleaders, and couldn’t help but read the bit about “caring” as the foot-stomp of the petulant, self-righteous child. Caring is meaningless. Caring can be split so many ways and made to mean anything. You can carry it down into all kinds of Godwin Law absurdity. Mussolini cared about train schedules. Custer cared about the Sioux. You can’t say they didn’t. They certainly cared enough to have opinions about them. To state so sternly that you’re justified in your actions, because “you cared” is simply a sleight of hand attempt to raise feelings up to the level of values, because you’re not wise or self-aware enough to process your feelings without making noises.

 

Lou Antonelli on This Way To Texas

“Puppies in the heartland” – June 30

The Puppy Kickers cite well-known authors who are known conservatives – Mike Resnick and Larry Niven are two – but they came up through the ranks years ago. People like Larry Corriea and Brad Torgersen have entered the field in the past ten years, and have seen and felt first-hand the snubs and insults of the snobs. Both were nominated for the Campbell Award for Best new writer in their first year of eligibility. They didn’t win. Now, that award allows you two years of eligibility, and over the years many writers have has two shots at winning – but neither Larry nor Brad were even nominated in their second years of eligibility.

The Puppy Kickers would assert it’s because as people got to know them better, they realized they sucked as authors. I suspect it’s more likely they were shunted aside because they do not conceal their Mormon faith.

In 2012, when Mitt Romney was the Republican nominee for president, most of the leading lights in the s-f  literary world combined their hatred for people of faith with their hatred for Republicans by attacking Romney in the most vile language. Quite frankly, I personally believe there are some things you should never say to or about people, regardless of the subject. In light of the attacks on Romney, is it any wonder all the Mormon s-f writers went off the reservation? It’s almost a human rights issue – “you can’t say that about one of my coreligionists.

I doubt most of the Puppy Kickers have any Christian friends, and certainly no Mormons. But here in Middle America there are plenty of Christians, Mormons, and even – as Jay Lake used to say – “low church atheists” – people who don’t believe in the supernatural, but, like Jay, didn’t mind if you needed a faith.

I remember when Jay said the source of so much ill feeling were the “high church atheists” – people who didn’t believe in God, and wanted to stamp out your religion, too. Jay was a smart man and a nice guy.

As I have made the convention circuit, I have been heartened by the many people who have been kind and supportive of my work, and either supportive or tolerant of the Sad Puppies effort. It reminds me that most people are thoughtful and considerate human beings, and the internet is a tool that is – like the machinery left behind by the Krel as depicted in the s-f classic movie “Forbidden Planet” – letting the darkest and worst innermost aspects of human nature loose upon the land.

 

Doctor Strangelove on Strangelove for Science Fiction

“Attention seeking troll puppies” – June 30

The various Puppy leaders, it turns out, have little to say, and their arguments implode into insignificance. They don’t think a literary award, the Hugos, should go to literary fiction. They don’t think science fiction should contain messages, or be socially progressive. Their voting slates, of course, contain attempts at literary fiction and message fiction. If we set aside their arguments, all we are left with is noise. Their attention-seeking trolling of the Hugo nomination process in essence says “look at me, look at me!” That is sad, indeed.

 

Terry Weyna on Fantasy Literature

“Magazine Monday: Hugo-Nominated Short Stories 2014”

[Reviews all five nominees.]

The short stories nominated for the Hugo Award this year are a disappointing lot. I read a great many stories in 2014 that were far better than at least four of these tales.

 

Spacefaring Kitten on Spacefaring, Extradimensional Happy Kittens

“Jeffro ‘GURPS-disadvantaged people ruin SFF’ Johnson” – June 30

Reading Jeffro Johnson was an interesting and even SFFnal experience. I mean, one of the most enjoyable aspects of science fiction and fantasy is that it has the capacity to offer alien experiences and viewpoints.

Most likely I disagree with Jeffro Johnson on a wide range of topics, but unlike the three Mad Genius Club bloggers who are competing with him for the Best Fan Writer Hugo, Johnson makes a better job at explaining his views. He is also mainly interested in science fiction and fantasy instead of waging a culture war against “social justice warriors” which is more than a welcome change after wading through the polemics of Dave Freer, Cedar Sanderson and Amanda S. Green…..

 

Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag on Bloggity-Blog-Blog-Blog

“Hugo Reading – Fan Writer” – June 30

[Reviews all five nominees.]

Johnson is the clear winner here, since he seems to be the only one that really fits what I think of as the category. I might put Mixon on the ballot as well, but that is a difficult choice. Both of them are going below “No Award” I think. The other three do not deserve awards for the writing in their packets. In fact, they really shouldn’t have been nominated at all. My guess is that all three must have been on the slates, since I do not believe they could have been nominated by the merits of the writings they provided.

If I sound a little bitter, it’s because I’m feeling bitter… How can people who clearly hate fandoms not their own be nominated for a Hugo Award? My concept of fandom is a big umbrella under which all of us can hang out and do our own thing in a non-judgmental setting. To read screeds against other fans is depressing. To see those screeds nominated for awards? Gah. Seriously, did any of the people voting on the slates actually read these works and say, “Yes, this is the best writing about fandom I saw in 2014.” and, if so, why? How? How can writing that rips someone apart be the best? Why all the hate?

 

Grac on Grac’s Never-Ending TBR Pile of Doom

“The Three-Body Problem – Liu Cixin” – June 30

… I gave this book 3 because of the clunky/heavy part midway through, which almost made me give up. I can see why some people loved it, but I wasn’t one of them – it may well still end up winning this year’s Hugo but I don’t think it’s better than my vote (The Goblin Emperor, in case anyone is interested!). I prefer my science fiction a bit more people-oriented, to be perfectly honest, and the characterisation of many folks in this novel left something to be desired, even as the background of the Cultural Revolution and modern-day China added to its interest.

 

embrodski on Death Is Bad

“Amazing Man” – June 22

I dashed off a little short story, inspired by the Sad Puppies Hugo Fiasco. I had fun writing it, I hope someone finds it enjoyable to read. :)…

….“So all of this…” Paula gestured around herself to indicate the Presidential Palace, the Liberty Legions, and presumably the entire Liberated States of America. “All of this was because you felt snubbed by a group of people you don’t even like?”

Amazing ripped the glasses from his face and crushed them in his fist. His responding roar was super-human, shattering all the glass in the Palace and leaving Paula with mild, but permanent, hearing loss.

“It’s about ethics in journalism!”

Emilio won a Pulitzer that year, as well as a Peabody, an Oscar, a Grammy, a Dobby, and a Tony Award; all purely on merit and not for any other reason at all. Amazing Man won the Nobel Peace Prize. That last one raised a few eyebrows, but it was pointed out that the Peace Prize had previously been awarded to people with a much higher body count than Amazing Man had managed, and wouldn’t it be better to keep it that way? It was hard to argue with that logic.

Miss Perry was released, because Amazing Man was above petty things like personal revenge. She is now happily employed as a Field Hand in the Angola Liberty Farm.

Phoenix TARDIS Convention Cancelled

TARDIS Conventions has cancelled the Phoenix TARDIS event planned for July 10-14.

This represents Alien Entertainment’s second failure in 2015 to replicate the success of its flagship con Chicago TARDIS in another city. Earlier, the firm cancelled Boston TARDIS 2015 that had been scheduled for April 3-5.

The group issued a public letter today, June 30, to explain why the Phoenix convention will not take place:

Low upfront attendance coupled with issues involving the hotel space have driven us to make this decision. In the last two weeks, we have attempted to re-house the convention at a different venue to no avail.

We want to thank all of you who showed your enthusiasm for this event and have already purchases tickets. We will be issueing refunds via Eventbrite ASAP. If you do not receive your refund within the next 24 hours, please contact us.

We also want to thank our guests – Sylvester McCoy, Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant, Terry Molloy, and Ian McNeice for their time and effort. It is no fault of any of these lovely individuals that this decision came about.

Phoenix is still in our sights for the foreseeable future. We truly want to carry out an event there in 2016 or 2017. The outpouring of fan support and connecting with the community through other conventions (namely Phoenix Comic Con), has encouraged us to keep pursuing an event in Phoenix. Please feel free to e-mail us at info@tardisconventions.com or alienentertainmentstore.cs@gmail.com with any questions or concerns you may have. We encourage you to reach out. Thank you very much for your understanding, TARDIS Conventions

They also warned their Facebook followers not to book rooms

We have been informed that as of three hours ago, the hotel was still taking bookings for Phoenix TARDIS. We had no hand in that, and as you can see this was part of our issue for the cancellation of the con. We have spoken with them, and they are taking all open reservations off line on their end. Our website has already disabled any links to ticketing or the hotel room reservations.

The explanation given for cancelling the Boston event last April, issued two days before it was due to begin, blamed the impact of competing interests on the chosen dates:

We are saddened to report that in the last 24 hours certain events have taken place, which have significantly derailed Boston TARDIS 2015.

In the beginning of this venture, we were disheartened that our event would be clashing with a very popular, local convention – Anime Boston – as well as a weekend that holds religious significance for many of those who might potentially attend. If we wanted to continue into 2016, it looked like we had no choice but to go forward with our plans. Thankfully, next year, our event will be held far away from any dates such as these.

The group says there will be a Boston TARDIS 2016 and, as quoted above, that “Phoenix is still in our sights.”

ENnies Fill Vacancies Left By Disqualifications

ENnies Award judges have named three nominees to replace the Mass Effect RPG in the three categories where it has been disqualified:

Best Free Product

Valiant RPG Digital Initiative (Catalyst Game Labs)

Best Electronic Book

Dragon Age Core RuleBook (Green Ronin Publishing)

Product of the Year

Designers & Dragons: A History of the Roleplaying Game Industry (Evil Hat Productions)

 

Mass Effect Removed as ENnie Nominee

The administrators of Gen Con’s ENnie Awards have disqualified and removed Mass Effect from the ballot in the three categories where it was nominated because of IP violations:

This is a brand new situation for the ENnies – we’ve never had to worry about copyright law before, and the issue has never come up. Our initial position was that publishers and creators are responsible for managing their own legal affairs, and that it was not appropriate for us to assume or interfere other than to hold a basic assumption that entrants had covered their own legal bases and were in compliance with anything they needed to be. For 15 years, that has stood us in good stead, but we recognise that this year’s situation has highlighted a weakness in that system. So thank you for your patience while we figured out what we needed to do. We believe that IP issues are important, and while we are not lawyers, we believe that this product is in violation of basic IP law. We do note that the creator of the product in question does not share that opinion for a number of reasons.

We have also reached out to Bioware/EA, the owners of the Mass Effect IP, and have heard from artists whose work was used in the product, and have established since that some artwork was not used with permission. This is not something we are comfortable endorsing, and we wish we had realised it earlier in the process; however we can make changes now to ensure that we do so in future.

The Mass Effect site creator added a comment supporting the decision:

Greetings, I’m Don Mappin, creator of the work in question. First, I’d like to state that I agree and support Morrus’ decision and that of ENWorld to disqualify the entry. I believe that some very valid points have been made vis-a-vie an unlicensed works inclusion into the ENnies and potential ramifications.

I cannot speak to publisher concerns as none have contacted me, nor has EA/Bioware to date. However, as of last night, after exchanging emails with Morrus and staff, I had reconsidered my position and was prepared to withdraw my nominations, voluntarily. This decision, however, is better, as it allows ENWorld to make clear their position and address the aforementioned concerns forthwith.

The work–licensing not withstanding–was submitted by myself merely as an exercise to have it judged on its merits versus my peers. On that point I believe it did very well, having been selected by the judges as a finalist for Product of the Year (among others). I would like to voice my thanks the judges for doing so and that the quality was in keeping with other entrants.

One statement made by Morrus rang true with me, which was that there was an expectation of good faith on the part of entrants. While I took no steps to hide or misrepresent the work, I believe that I failed the litmus test of good faith in my entry. To the staff of ENworld and the ENnies, my apologies. It was not my intent to cause discord.

I have worked within the RPG industry for many years, professionally. It is a calling that you come to love and one that I have tried to vigorously support, to the extent of sharing a private work that I created for the enjoyment of others. That it might have (or may) cause some damage is saddening to me. As such, of my own decision, I have removed the work and associated files as of today.

Mappin also posted on his Mass Effect site

A quick update: I have taken the Files section offline of my own accord and intend to do so permanently. I will post more details in the coming days.

The award judges will select alternate nominees to replace Mass Effect in the Best Electronic Book, Best Free Product, and Product of the Year categories before final voting opens on July 4.

[Thanks to Jon F. Zeigler for the story.]

2015 ENnie Award Nominees and Spotlight Winners

Ennies_medal_gold CROPNominees for the ENnies, the Gen Con EN World RPG Awards, and Judges Spotlight Winners have been announced. The ENnies celebrate excellence in tabletop roleplaying gaming. Voting runs from July 4 to July 14. The winners will be presented July 31.

Judges’ Spotlight Winners

Best Adventure

Best Aid/Accessory

Best Art, Cover

Best Art, Interior

Best Blog

Best Cartography

Best Electronic Book

Best Family Game

Best Free Product

Best Game

Best Miniature Product

Best Monster/Adversary

Best Podcast

Best Production Values

Best RPG Related Product

Best Rules

Best Setting

Best Software

Best Supplement

Best Website

Best Writing

Product of the Year

(**) Nominee replaced Mass Effect

Update 06/30/2015: Mass Effect has been removed as a nominee in three categories. Replacement nominees will be selected. See details here. // The three new nominees have been announced. They have been added above.

Order Extra Candles For Today’s Birthday Roll-Call 6/29

Six birthday boys. Fire up the cake!

Bernard Hermann stamp otd-mb-0629-herrmann

(1) Composer Bernard Hermann was born today in 1911. His very first film score, for Citizen Kane (1941), was an Oscar nominee. But it lost — to Hermann’s other nominated film score, for The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941).

Some of Hermann’s most famous work was for Alfred Hitchcock: Vertigo (1958), North By Northwest (1959), and Psycho (1960).

He also wrote The Twilight Zone theme that was used in its first season (though not the one most identified with the show; Marius Constant’s theme replaced it in season two.)

(2) Animator, producer and LASFS member Ray Harryhausen, was born in 1920.

(3) Actor Slim Pickens, born in 1919, broke into Hollywood as a singing cowboy before directors realized his full comedic potential.

In Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb he played B-52 pilot Major T.J. “King” Kong. Before his big scene riding an A-bomb to glory he cracked up the audience with this soliloquy:

“Survival kit contents check. In them you’ll find: one forty-five caliber automatic; two boxes of ammunition; four days’ concentrated emergency rations; one drug issue containing antibiotics, morphine, vitamin pills, pep pills, sleeping pills, tranquilizer pills; one miniature combination Russian phrase book and Bible; one hundred dollars in rubles; one hundred dollars in gold; nine packs of chewing gum; one issue of prophylactics; three lipsticks; three pair of nylon stockings. Shoot, a fella’ could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff.”

(Thanks to Bruce Townley for posting this quote today on Facebook.)

Pickens was also the evil cowboy boss Taggart in Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles, where his many iconic lines include one that launches the climactic set-smashing brawl – “Piss on you! I’m working for Mel Brooks!”

(4) Artist Michael Whelan was born this day in 1950.

(5) Fellow artist David B. Mattingly was born the same date in 1956.

(6) Jeff Duntemann, oft-quoted in File 770’s Hugo roundups, was born in 1952.

The SF field also suffered two especially noteworthy losses on June 29.

The Leader of the Packet 6/29

aka “These are the times that try dogs’s souls: The summer sheep dog and the sunshine puppy will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”

The roundup today features Chauncey DeVega, John Ottinger III, Martin Wisse, Lou Antonelli, Paul, Cheryl Morgan, Simon Bucher-Jones, Tom Hanks, Rachel Neumeier, Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag, Scott Seldon, Alexandra Erin and other cryptic denizens of the internet. (Title credit goes out to File 770 contributing editors of the day Will Reichard and Jack Lint.)

Chauncey DeVega on We Are Respectable Negroes

“The Whiteness of Science Fiction: From the Hugo Awards’ ‘Sad Puppies’ to Dylann Roof and Harold Covington” – June 29

….It would seem that there could be an overlap between the “Sad Puppies” racially resentful white folks (and their pathetic black and brown racial Stockholm syndrome allies) and the more formal and open White Right. The Whiteness of science fiction is united in the post civil rights era by White Supremacy gross, ugly, more polite, in some ways unapologetic, dishonestly “colorblind”, and in all of its other toxic ways.

As I shared on the RT network last Friday evening, Dylann Roof and other Right-wing domestic terrorists are weaponized by Fox News and the Right-wing hate media. Part of this training is not limited to explicit and formal political texts. Political lessons are also taught by many types of media such as music, film, art, video games, comic books, and other types of literature.

A quibble: Covington’s work sounds more like speculative fiction than it does “science fiction” (the widely known white supremacist tract The Turner Diaries fits this model as well). Most science fiction is by definition speculative in nature; speculative fiction is not necessarily science fiction. Words and concepts are important; meanings and definitions matter…..

 

John Ottinger III on World Magazine

“Notable Books” – June 29

Spotlight

Controversy erupted when one group of science fiction writers, who felt underrepresented by the awards committee, offered a competing list of nominees for the Hugo Awards. When their list won many of the five slots available in each award category, the science fiction establishment and major media noticed. The list writers—known oddly as the “Sad Puppies”—believe that books promoting politically correct causes and liberal identity politics have dominated the Hugos in recent years. Opponents say the “Puppies” are racist, misogynist, and homophobic conservatives undermining science fiction’s most prestigious award by inventing nonexistent persecution. Members of the World Science Fiction Convention will meet this summer to determine if nomination and voting rules need changing. Any changes would take effect in two years. —J.O.

 

Martin Wisse on Wis[s]e Words

“Fandom is more than just puppies barking” – June 28

This is not what fandom should be like, but unfortunately assholes are everywhere, even in sf fandom. But though they’re currently the loudest and most visible part of fandom, they’re not the whole of it. It’s only human to talk more about outrage than about all the everyday kindnesses that pass unnoticed, which is why British fandom has its Doc Weir award. Most people you meet in fandom, online or real life, are just normal, decent human beings. Which can be hard to remember when all you read about is a small part being incredibly nasty about having to share fandom with people who are not like them and don’t like Nutty Nuggets.

But there’s also the point that much of the sound and fury generated by those Puppies is a reaction to the fact that fandom is changing and getting more welcoming to people who may not just dislike Nutty Nuggets, but don’t like breakfast cereal at all. It’s a backlash against the idea that fandom can improve, grow more diverse, not remain the playground of a bunch of paranoid, spoiled, rightwing brats.

 

Lou Antonelli on This Way To Texas

“Back home” – June 29

A Facebook friend asked me today, “What do you get out of this much con-going? It’s not a financial benefit is it? I’m curious.”

I replied that I do it for self-promotion and networking. I have seen the benefits accumulate over the years of people getting to meet and know you a bit, to know that you’re a real person. I suppose it works for me because I’m very outgoing, and I’m also a much better public speaker than a writer.

I also feel this year I have a special obligation to get out there because of my Hugo nominations. I feel if I’m asking people to consider my virtues as a writer, they have the right to see me and buttonhole me.

 

Paul on BestScienceFictionBooks.com

“What’s Wrong With The Hugos, Part 3” – June 21

So, having first argued that science fiction is now too big for the Hugos, I then went on to argue that the governance of the award is too slow and too prone to complexify rather than simplify. At the end of that post I said that one of the major ways in which this unnecessary complexity shows itself is in the proliferation of categories. This brings us to:

Problem 3: The Award categories are inappropriate

I hold that too many of the award categories are irrelevant, or so poorly shaped that the voters do not know what they are actually voting for. And yet one of the most persistent and pernicious trends over the last few years has been to add further categories, which does nothing to make the whole thing simpler or clearer….

Okay, I’ve been rambling on for too long, but basically it comes down to this: most of the categories of the Hugo Awards are not fit for purpose. They are dependent on knowledge that the voter cannot have, or they make distinctions that are irrelevant to most voters, or they require comparison between items that cannot sensibly be compared. And these problems, or variations of them, extend into just about every one of the 16 categories there currently are in the Hugo Awards. It’s a systemic problem that ties in with the problems of governance and the problems of relevance that I have already highlighted.

I don’t know what the solution is, other than tearing the whole edifice down and rebuilding it from scratch on firmer grounds and on a simpler model. But I don’t think that is going to happen.

 

Simon Bucher-Jones on SBJ’s pantechnicon extravaganza

“A brief history of the Hugo awards – the file 770 compilation [as credited]”

1:  the first award.  1197 AD

The award itself dates back to 1197 and Bishop Hugo de Rainault (brother of the then Sherrif of Nottingham) who it will be remembered offered ‘a mighty prize for the most puissant account of how yon addlepate knave Robin Earle yclept Loksley might best be set about his heels.’ The original silver arrow has now become over time the stylised ‘rocket robin hood’ shape of the current award….

 

 

Rachel Neumeier

“One more note on the pro artist category” – June  29

Carter-Reid-200x300

Reid’s other covers look rather pulp style, which is not really my thing, but I do like this one.

And at least now I don’t have to think about putting No Award on the ballot. It’s a pity Reid didn’t put some of his works in the Hugo packet so they’d have been easier to find.

 

Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag on Bloggity-Blog-Blog-Blog

“Hugo Listening – Fancast” – June 29

[Reviews all five nominees.]

Of these choices, Tea and Jeopardy is definitely the best. It takes full advantage of the format, uses sound effects to improve the atmosphere and has whimsy that appeals to me. The interview was well-conducted, and the questions were perceptive and enlightening. It’s also short enough to listen to but not so long I start to think, just get on with it already! Next up, despite the length, is Galactic Suburbia, which is information-filled and fun. The trio clearly love what they are talking about and range far and wide on a variety of subjects while still pulling in the audience. I find the length problematic, but the diversity of subjects makes up for it. Adventures in SciFi Publishing is the third place winner, and the last to make the ballot for me. It’s a polished production, but went on just slightly too long on a single subject.

The next best is Dungeon Crawlers Radio, which is average but not great. I do wonder if there is a better example than the one in the sample, but due to the length, I can’t be bothered to listen and find out. At the bottom is the Sci Phi Show, which really didn’t take advantage of the audio format at all. The cheesy laughter sound effect detracted, rather than enhanced. If that was the best available, the podcast doesn’t deserve an award.

 

Scott Seldon on Seldon’s SF Blog

“Interstellar Is Just That” – June 29

…This film most certainly deserves the Hugo award this year. It is what the Hugo is all about. It is, unfortunately, on the Sad Puppies list. I’m quite sure it would have been nominated anyway. In other areas it has received many awards, beating out the other Hugo Nominees. And it is really quite funny that the puppies would nominate this film. They are so against stories with a message and if you don’t get the messages in this film you have to be brain dead. As against the puppy slates as I am, I am forced to concede that this is indeed the best SF film of the year and I must put it first when I vote. I just have to. From the emotional, enjoyment, box office response, and industry award perspectives this film comes out on top among those nominated. If you believe in the spirit of the Hugos, you won’t let the source of a good nominee that deserves to win cloud your judgement. Of course, not all will agree that this is the best offering, but from my perspective, I have no choice…..

 

Alexandra Erin on Blue Author Is About To Write

“The Goblin Emperor: Yes, it’s fantasy, and yes it’s a novel” – June 29

Anyway, in a year when many Hugo works were nominated whose merits are so dubious that even the people who nominated them aren’t discussing their merits, The Goblin Emperor is a novel whose merits have been rather sharply debated. It has been praised highly from a wide number of quarters, but there are some lines of criticism that have cropped up and been repeated even outside the quarters of the Puppy campaigns (though they are found most often and most vociferously within those quarters).

They are:

  • It’s not really fantasy, so much as an alternate history with non-human races because there’s no magic or other speculative element.
  • It’s not really a novel, because there is no plot/no conflict. This criticism is also phrased as “It’s more of a series of anecdotes than anything.”

The standard Puppy nonsense of “SJWS ARE SHOVING MESSAGES DOWN OUR THROATS AND VOTING FOR STORIES FOR AFFIRMATIVE ACTION REASONS” has certainly come up, too, of course, but it’s hardly worth engaging with them.

Now that I have read the book, I really have to wonder: did the people making those two criticisms of it do so? If they did, I don’t think they could have read it carefully. While the vision of elven and goblin societies in The Goblin Emperor are an example of intricate and engrossing worldbuilding, the magic-using classes of society appear to have been lifted straight out of classic D&D; e.g., there are clerics and there are wizards.

 

 

Cheryl Morgan on Cheryl’s Mewsings

“Archipelacon – Day 4” – June 29

Lots of people were talking about wanting to come back to Finnish conventions again. We seem to have created a lot of goodwill for the Helsinki Worldcon bid. I am so proud of my Finnish and Swedish friends right now.

 

 

Carrolling

By John Hertz:  Somehow this apothegm of Lewis Carroll’s seemed worth quoting.

Misunderstandings

(1850)

If such a thing had been my thought,
I should have told you so before,
But as I didn’t, then you ought
To ask for such a thing no more.
For to teach one who has been taught
Is always thought an awful bore.

Now to commence my argument,
I shall premise an observation,
On which the greatest kings have leant
When striving to subdue a nation,
And e’en the wretch who pays no rent
By it can solve a hard equation.

Its truth is such, the force of reason
Can not avail to shake its power,
Yet e’en the sun in summer season
Doth not dispel so mild a shower
As this, and he who sees it, sees on
Beyond it to a sunny bower —
No more, when ignorance is treason,
Let wisdom’s brows be cold and sour.

Mini Trailer Park

Three new trailers on YouTube that caught my eye.

Ant-Man Official Japanese Trailer #1

The final trailer for Dai Gyakuten Saiban, a game in the Ace Attorney series, before its release on July 9th, 2015.

The Pixels character trailer for Lady Lisa.