Lions roar, kittens tweet, and other animals make noise in today’s Scroll.
(1) Recommended – Gregory Benford reviews Kim Stanley Robinson’s Aurora in “Envision Starflight Failing”.
Aurora depicts a starship on a long voyage to Tau Ceti four centuries from now. It is shaped like a car axle, with two large wheels turning for centrifugal gravity. The biomes along their rims support many Earthly lifezones which need constant tending to be stable. They’re voyaging to Tau Ceti, so the ship’s name is a reference to Isaac Asimov’s The Naked Sun, which takes place on a world orbiting Tau Ceti named Aurora. Arrival at the Earthlike moon of a super-Earth primary brings celebration, exploration, and we see just how complex an interstellar expedition four centuries from now can be, in both technology and society.
In 2012, Robinson declared in a Scientific American interview that “It’s a joke and a waste of time to think about starships or inhabiting the galaxy. It’s a systemic lie that science fiction tells the world that the galaxy is within our reach.” Aurora spells this out through unlikely plot devices. Robinson loads the dice quite obviously against interstellar exploration. A brooding pessimism dominates the novel.
There are scientific issues that look quite unlikely, but not central to the novel’s theme. A “magnetic scissors” method of launching a starship seems plagued with problems, for example. But the intent is clear through its staging and plot.
I’ll discuss the quality of the argument Aurora attempts, with spoilers.
— Soon Lee (@SoonLeeNZ) August 1, 2015
(2) Spacefaring Kitten is one of many people posting their Hugo ballot today, but one of the few who has an interesting analysis of my favorite category.
- Journey Planet
- Tangent SF Online
- Elitist Book Reviews
- No Award
- The Revenge of Hump Day
Journey Planet is easily the most interesting of these publications. Black Gate would have been able to put up a fight here, but they chose to withdraw because of Puppy-related embarrassment.
Tangent SF Online and The Revenge of Hump Day were probably on the Puppy ballots as a sort of payback for, respectively, the public outcry following Tangent’s umm… let us say fatherly review of the Women Destroy Science Fiction issue of Lightspeed and the disinvitation of Tim Bolgeo (the guy behind The Revenge of Hump Day) as a Fan Guest of Honor in Archon after accusations of racism. However, I chose to place Tangent second and well above No Award, because I think all venues in which short SFF fiction is discussed are important.
As far as I can see, Tangent’s short fiction reviews are quite good, even if the editor’s attitudes smell a bit aged. Take a look at their 2014 Recommended Reading List, for example. Tangent lists noteworthy stories in four categories (0, 1, 2 and 3 stars), and I couldn’t resist counting that together all the 14 Puppy finalists get four mentions and one star. In contrast, the five short story nominations I made myself (none of which made the final ballot, obviously) collect three mentions and eight stars. The Tangent seems like a useful resource for finding the sort of fiction I’d enjoy, and I plan to take a look at some of the three-star stories I haven’t read yet.
There was nothing terribly amiss with Elitist Book Reviews either, even though they seem to generally like books that I don’t and I found their practice of discussing recommended age and levels of offensive language, violence and sex amusingly over-protective. You don’t really have to be 16 to be able to read a curse word, do you? However, they’re number three.
(3) By now I think everybody has seen Adam Roberts’ cheery thoughts about the Hugos in the Guardian:
What the Puppies have done is within the rules of the awards, and key figures in the movement have already declared their intention to repeat the process next year. But this is larger than one set of awards. It is about the direction of science-fiction as a whole, and it poses larger cultural questions.
The truth is that this year’s Hugo awards are wrecked. Can you imagine anyone saying that of the Pulitzer, Man Booker, or Nobel? Yet here we are, and if the Puppies succeed in gaming the awards again in 2016 we may as well give up on the Hugos forever.
This is what is so frustrating about the Puppies’ campaign. Not that it has resulted in a bunch of frankly inferior works being shortlisted – although it has. And not that it values old-fashioned SF over more experimental, literary and progressive writing – that’s a matter of taste. What is so annoying is that it so ostentatiously turns its back on the global context out of which the best writing is happening today.
@damiengwalter … it's been 'let's have elaborate discussion about voting protocols to make block-voting harder to do'.
— Adam Roberts (@arrroberts) July 31, 2015
Can it be true that Roberts values rhetoric about diversity over rules changes that preserve it as a possibility?
(4) The Guardian article sure revived Larry Correia! Yesterday’s limp “fisking” of The New Yorker’s Delany interview has been succeeded his vibrant smackdown “Fisking the Guardian’s Latest Sad Puppy Article of the Week”. Correia’s remarks in boldface, Guardian text in regular text.
Considering that the Hugo awards hadn’t even ever nominated a single work of media tie in fiction until Sad Puppies came along, I don’t know where the hell you’re getting this idea that the insular little inbred cliques were combing the whole world for worthy new talent before. Hell, I believe the first ever INDY PUBLISHED novel nomination came from Sad Puppies, and you expect that little cliquish circle jerk of friends who’ve been taking turns giving each other awards, to suddenly teach themselves Spanish in order to check out the best sci-fi from Uruguay?
This whole train of thought is just a stupid diversion. The Guardian is just being its normal snooty self. Look at us, we read MOAR GLOBALLY (no, actually, they probably don’t. From inaccuracies in previous articles about various classics we’re already pretty sure Damien skates by reading Wikipedia synopsis of books and then pretending to be well read).
Science fiction, if it is about anything, is about hospitality to otherness,
Just not conservatives or libertarians, because screw those guys.
to the alien and the unusual, about freeing one’s mind and boldly going where no one has been before. It is, centrally, about diversity. Locking out women writers, writers of colour, gay and trans writers does a violence to the heart of the genre.
That concluding paragraph is just regurgitated tripe. We’re not the ones trying to lock out anyone. Female, “writers of colour” (oh how I hate that stupid racist term), gay, trans, left handed ginger pygmy wolf-riding garden squirrels, WE DON’T CARE. Write books. Entertain people. Fans get to judge books by the content of their pages rather than the author’s bio. Then give the really good ones awards.
This isn’t exactly rocket science, not that you jackasses didn’t literally try to make actual fucking rocket science all about sexism too.
If the Puppies win, nobody wins.
No. The Puppies would win. That’s sort of what the word win means, dumbass.
If you are voting on Hugo awards, time nearly up. Should stop doing Fan Writer award, collections of political screeds unrelated to books.
— David Hutchins (@waelse1) August 1, 2015
(5) Sasquan guest astronaut Kjell Lindgren is at the International Space Station.
It's already been a week! Time is flying…and so am I! pic.twitter.com/YER1B5hIfB
— Kjell Lindgren (@astro_kjell) July 30, 2015
(6) Mark your calendars. Vox Day has announced the release date for his next project:
This is interesting. Apparently the SJWs are more than a little worried about my upcoming book, SJWS ALWAYS LIE: Taking Down the Thought Police….
Just wait until August 27th, the one-year anniversary of #GamerGate, which I plan to celebrate by publishing the book.
You read it here first. Or possibly second. But more likely first. Maybe you can leave town that day – does Kjell Lindgren have a spare cot?
From Part I —
Wirt: How can we foster the encounter of people with Jesus Christ?
Lewis: “You can’t lay down any pattern for God. There are many different ways of bringing people into his Kingdom, even some ways that I specially dislike! I have therefore learned to be cautious in my judgment.
“But we can block it in many ways. As Christians we are tempted to make unnecessary concessions to those outside the faith. We give in too much. Now, I don’t mean that we should run the risk of making a nuisance of ourselves by witnessing at improper times, but there comes a time when we must show that we disagree. We must show our Christian colors, if we are to be true to Jesus Christ. We cannot remain silent or concede everything away.
“There is a character in one of my children’s stories named Aslan, who says, ‘I never tell anyone any story except his own.’ I cannot speak for the way God deals with others; I only know how he deals with me personally. Of course, we are to pray for spiritual awakening, and in various ways we can do something toward it. But we must remember that neither Paul nor Apollos gives the increase. As Charles Williams once said, ‘The altar must often be built in one place so that the fire may come down in another place.’”
In Part II, Lewis answers questions about Heaven, Earth and Outer Space.
Wirt: Do you think there will be widespread travel in space?
Lewis: “I look forward with horror to contact with the other inhabited planets, if there are such. We would only transport to them all of our sin and our acquisitiveness, and establish a new colonialism. I can’t bear to think of it. But if we on earth were to get right with God, of course, all would be changed. Once we find ourselves spiritually awakened, we can go to outer space and take the good things with us. That is quite a different matter.”
[Thanks to JJ, Gregory Benford, and John King Tarpinian for some of these links. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day JJ.]