Howl’s Moving Castalia 5/24

aka In a hole in a ground there lived a Hugo. It was a puppy Hugo, and that means discomfort.

Today’s roundup features Amanda S. Green, Deirdre Saoirse Moen, P. J. Pruhon, Andrew Hickey, Lisa J. Goldstein, The Staff of The New Republic, Steve Davidson, N.K. Jemisin, Larry Correia, Tom Knighton, Jim C. Hines, Rebekah Golden and Lis Carey. (Title credit belongs to File 770’s contributing editors of the day SocialInjusticeWorrier and Going To Maine.)

Amanda S. Green on Mad Genius Club

“Inspiration and remembrance” – May 24

I look at the Hugo controversy and wonder if those clinging to the award, willing to destroy careers if necessary in order to do so, and I wonder if they have given even a passing thought to how what they are advocating is the non-political version of censorship (and yes, I understand that technically only a government can censure something).  They want to silence points of view they don’t agree with. They want to silence what they see as the opposition. Which, when you consider that science fiction should be the one place where all viewpoints should be welcome is not only ironic but sad.

So today, here is my challenge to each of us. Remember those who have sacrificed so much so we can read and write what we want (within limits. Remember, the Supreme Court will know pornography when it sees it). Now ask yourselves if what you are doing honors their sacrifice. For myself, I am going to be doing all I can to honor it.

 

Deirdre Saoirse Moen on Sounds Like Weird

“BayCon Panels and Notes” – May 24

The Hugo tug-of-war: Diversity of opinion among Worldcon voters

This panel [at BayCon] went really well, and I’m glad that Kate Secor had some details that I hadn’t researched. Also thanks to James Stanley Daugherty for moderating and Amy Sterling Casil for her contributions.

My general feelings:…

  1. The more that is done at this year’s meeting to “fix” things, it will become an outrage escalator, and I believe that would be counterproductive long term. While I think the 4 of 6 proposal (and a couple of others) have merit, what I’d actually like to see is more people nominating. Specifically, more people who realize you can’t read the entire field, so nominate what you have read and what you think is worthy.

Nothing that “fixes” nominations will change the fact that there are far fewer nominators than members, and far fewer nominators than voters.

 

P. J. Pruhon on Newsvine

“Sad Puppies and Paranoid Barflies” – May 24

The few words in my article mentioning Baen Publisher Toni Weisskopf were a commiseration for the reputation that the Sad Puppies have laid on her and Baen Books: “the vandals who wrecked the Hugos”. In my two days on Baen’s Bar, I was repeatedly attacked for having insulted Ms Weisskopf. I (politely) explained several times that there was no insult. Apparently Mr Cochrane finally understood… but he could not leave it alone: “This was interpreted by the conference owner as a slur on the owner of the site.” ….

Sometime during my second day on Baen’s Bar, I began getting criticism for “moving the goalposts”. I found this odd, since I was in fact just repeating what I had said earlier. Then I had my Eureka!! moment.

These folks had not misunderstood me.

They had not heard me at all.

What they heard was a voice in their heads: an “Anti-Sad Puppies” archetype telling them the things that “everyone knows that ASPs say”.

Me? I was not saying those things, but the Barflies did not notice, because they were not listening to me.

When I insisted loudly that I did not say that, they very honestly felt that I had moved the goalposts. The goalposts had started where those voices in their heads had stipulated, and here I was, daring to say differently! How dare I deviate from what they knew I must be saying!

Once we understand that Barflies and Sad Puppies are not listening to anything other than their own preconceptions, everything becomes limpidly clear. It becomes obvious that their outrage in not being recognized as the only true carriers of the “real SF” flame is genuine.

 

The Staff of The New Republic

“Science Fiction’s White Male Problem” – May 24

The conservative backlash isn’t entirely about attempts to diversify science fiction; it’s also motivated by nostalgia for an imaginary past. The Puppies factions argue that science fiction used to be a fun, apolitical genre but has now become too socially conscious and pretentious, due to a sinister leftist conspiracy…..

If leftism shouldn’t be conflated with literary ambition, neither should it be confused with demographic diversity. Torgersen assumes that stories exploring gender and race will automatically be boring left-wing propaganda. This flies in the face of history. For decades, science-fiction writers of both the left and the right, both popular entertainers and those writing more ambitious works, have made a point of trying to be inclusive. Heinlein started featuring nonwhite characters in his books from the very beginning of his career. His “Starship Troopers” (1959) can be read as a right-wing paean to military virtue; the main character is a Filipino.

Samuel R. Delany describes himself as a “boring old Marxist” but loves the right-wing fiction of Heinlein. “Well, Marx’s favorite novelist was Balzac — an avowed Royalist,” Delany once explained. “And Heinlein is one of mine.” The largeness of soul and curiosity about differing ideas that Delany brought to his appreciation of Heinlein is sadly missing from all the resentment and angst of the Sad and Rabid Puppies.

 

Steve Davidson on Amazing Stories

“My Final Hugo Ballot” – May 24

Best Novel.

Only three works were eligible for consideration based on my determination not to reward the pupfans who thought it would be funny to poke the SJW’s in the eye by way of screwing with a 75 year old tradition.* They were:

Ancillary Sword, Goblin Emperor, The Three Body Problem

I gave the top slot to Ancillary Sword after having made it about a third of the way through Three Body Problem. I’d originally expected to be giving the top slot to TBP; I’d heard great things about it from the translator and I’ve been championing the community’s engagement with Chinese works for about a year now. Unfortunately, I found TBP to be slow to develop, and, at least for me, a bit off in its metaphor and simile. I found some of that to be jarring rather than descriptive.

Ancillary Sword, on the other hand, was an even quicker read for me than Justice (probably so at least partially due to being familiar and comfortable with the gender play), and I found it to be perhaps an even stronger story than Justice, and certainly a middle third that transcends the usual problems of middle thirds of trilogies.

I don’t do fantasy (my fault: I just can’t get past the initial premise that nothing in the story is potentially real) and have given it the third slot out of courtesy at this point in time. Now that I’ve gotten the Hugo Packet, I’ve had a chance to skim GE.  I’m leaving it in the number three slot, despite its apparent love of faux ye olde englysh in the dialogue.

The fourth slot is, and will remain, for No Award, as the remaining two entries were slatened entries.  I was hoping that Anderson and Butcher would at least state something regarding their inclusion publicly, though I understand their reluctance to screw with their successful careers by getting mired in the politics.  At this point in time they’ll pretty much piss off a segment of their audience no matter what they say.  Sorry guys, for whatever “guilt by association” may be present here, but you are on the slate, you’ve not written anything to disabuse me of the presumption that you are there willingly and I promised myself and everyone reading the website that I would vote ANYTHING on ANY slate below No Award – despite whatever personal feelings I may have about their individual worthiness….

 

 

 

 

Tom Knighton

“If you’re going to fling it, you better back it up” – May 24

Jemisin has, as of my writing of this post, revealed no evidence to support her assertion.  Nothing.  This is my surprised face:

 

Tom Knighton

Tom Knighton

Yeah, I look flabbergasted, don’t I?

This is just the latest — and lamest — attempt to try and paint Larry as a racist, all of which have failed miserably.  You know why they have?  Probably because Larry’s not a racist.  Shocking, I know.

Of course, one of my own initial reactions was to say screw cons as a writer and just avoid them as much as possible.  Personally, I suspect that Jemisin and company would see that as a feature, not a bug.  After all, pushing people like me out of fandom could hardly be a bad thing, right?  They don’t want “my kind” around.

 

Jim C. Hines

“Hugo Thoughts: Graphic Story” – May 24

Of the five nominees, the collection from The Zombie Nation was recommended by both the Sad and Rabid (SR) puppies. The rest of the category is puppy-free.

  • Ms. Marvel: The first page includes Kamala Khan smelling bacon and saying, “Delicious, delicious infidel meat” and someone responding, “Chow or chow not. There is no smell.” I was officially intrigued. A few pages later, we discover Kamala writes Avengers fanfic. She’s also struggling with her own identity, torn between cultures and dealing with ignorance and prejudice. She dreams about being powerful and blonde and beautiful like Ms. Marvel…and then she gets her wish. Sort of. And discovers it’s not what she imagined. This is a superhero origin story that plays off of our expectations, because Kamala has grown up in a world of superheroes. She’s an Avengers fangirl. She has to unlearn what she has learned, in order to become, in her words, “a shape-changing mask-wearing sixteen-year-old super ‘moozlim’ from Jersey City.” There’s a lot of humor, and some good depth and complexity to Kamala and her family and friends. There’s also a supervillain, of course, but that’s secondary to the story of Kamala coming of age and learning to navigate and incorporate the different parts of her identity….

 

Lisa J. Goldstein on theinferior4

“The Hugo Ballot, Part 14: A Brief Trip Back to Short Stories” – May 24

And with the first of them, “A Single Samurai” by Steven Diamond, comes a problem I haven’t had in this read so far.  Namely, that I didn’t like the story, but I can imagine people who would. If your idea of fun is seeing really big creatures — I mean really big — stomp past leaving a trail of destruction in their wake, if you’ve held onto that child-like joy that only a rampaging monster can bring, then this story might be for you.

 

Andrew Hickey on Sci-Ence! Justice Leak!

“Hugo Blogging: ‘Best’ Novelette” – May 24

However, I shall actually be placing all five below No Award. One of the more depressing aspects of the Sad and Rabid Puppy slates is that the people who put them together are pushing both a political and an aesthetic viewpoint, and the aesthetic viewpoint is just as toxic as the political one. Even were all the stories to have made it on their own merits without block voting, and even had the politics of the authors matched my own, the stories on the Puppy slates are just *bad*.

Some of that badness is a lack of craft — badly-written sentences, with no sense of the potential of language for beauty, of the rhythms of speech, or of the subtle nuances involved in the choice of one word over another. I would actually have some sympathy for this if the ideas in the stories were worth reading — after all, I hardly have the most mellifluous prose style myself, and there are reasons other than beauty of language to read.

But the ideas are, uniformly (bearing in mind I’m only two categories through, so they might yet surprise me) awful.

In the “Best” Novelette category, I’m ranking No Award first, and second I will be ranking The Day the World Turned Upside Down by Thomas Olde Heuvel (translated by Lia Belt). This is the one non-Puppy nomination, and is the kind of poor literary fiction that makes one almost wonder if the Puppies have a point. The protagonist, a tedious narcissist with no redeeming characteristics whatsoever, is moping because his girlfriend left him. Then, for no adequately-explained reason, gravity goes into reverse, with people being flung up to ceilings or into space. The world has turned upside down, just as his girlfriend turned his emotional world upside down. Do you see? It’s perfectly competently written, for its type (although don’t use it as a guide for the care and feeding of goldfish — but in a world where gravity can go into reverse, goldfish managing to survive in 7-Up is probably not the most unrealistic thing about the story), but it’s a story in which horrible things happen to a horrible person, and I find it very hard to care about those….

 

Lis Carey on  Lis Carey’s Library

“Laura J. Mixon Hugo Nominee Fanwriter Sample” – May 24

This is a clear, well-supported explanation of Requires Hate’s multiple online identities, cyberstalking, and harassment, as well as her habitual deletion of hateful posts after the fact, making it hard for her victims to prove what happened to them. Mixon has included only episodes that she can document, and includes screen caps. Names are included only with the agreement of the individual. This was a major service to the sf community, and it’s well-written.

 

Rebekah Golden

“2015 Hugo Awards Best Professional Artist: Reviewing C Reid” – May 24

I am reviewing Carter Reid as a professional web comic artist based on what I could find since he didn’t submit anything for the [Hugo Voter] packet. That said I’m not going to read the whole year’s worth of comic. What I was able to make it through was tedious and uninspired. The plots seem to echo gleeful conversations between teenage boys. It’s really just not that interesting.

 

Rebekah Golden

“2015 Hugo Awards Best Movie: Reviewing Guardians of the Galaxy” – May 24

Overall every rewatch gives me more reason to favor this movie. It just improves under scrutiny.

557 thoughts on “Howl’s Moving Castalia 5/24

  1. Malcolm, I looooove me some Thompson, but when I was reading through his work a few years ago, I started being able to smell the first-person narrator dying way too early. Thank you for helping keep him in print!

  2. “Samurai” and “Turncoat” are definitely being widely dissected, but they are being treated as stories rather than as a metonymy for Everything Wrong With the Culture Including Pedophilia and Exaggerated Blog Readership Figures Which Is Why We Must Win The Culture War And Vanquish the SJWs.

    You know, like “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love.”

  3. Brian Z – Man I asked for what the pattern looks like and you responded with several patterns over more years than even requested, bravo!

    Was the “Scalzi effect” the result of a changing voter pool and/or nominating practices? Yes. He got big after putting a book on the internet, becoming a whizbang blogger and meme generator. (His books are fine reads, but is that alone what got him on the ballot?)

    You put Scalzi Effect in this as though it’s a measurable thing. You might note that he was a whizbang blogger and put a book online before 2007. Agent to the stars was back in 1999 and the serialized version of Old Man’s War was 2002. 2006 was his first Hugo nomination so you might want to scale the Scalzi effect back one or six years. It’s interesting that you call it a definitive effect but then question if that alone got him on the ballot. It’s not an observable pattern if you can’t tell whether he was nominated because people enjoy his books or if his history as a blogger helped, that’s speculation. If anything he was not the biggest name on the ballot in 2006, Martin was, and they both lost. His wins from that time were for best related work. So the effect, if any, wasn’t very effective much less a pattern.

    Leading questions are a pattern for you (as in there’s an observable history of you asking such questions regularly) as we see with:

    Were Mira Grant’s wins the result of changing voter pools and nominating practices? Complicated. Some existing likely Mira Grant fans jumped on the wagon as it rolled by.

    Speculation based on what data?

    Did the voter pool expand in 2011-14 to include more Mira Grant fans? Probably.

    So you’re guessing.

    Did fans/author rely on novel ways to campaign/mobilize votes? Maybe.

    Complicated, probably, maybe. Is your pattern based on assumptions that you’ve conjured up? Presumably.

    Are first novels (or other novels by less universally acclaimed authors), rising to the top faster than in the past? Even though they might be flawed, as first novels often are, perhaps with uneven writing, storytelling or worldbuilding? Could these be getting more support more quickly through online means than was possible in the past? Do these novels have greater appeal to some of the newer fans that are joining up?

    This seems likely.

    Your first question is funny because you both appear to disparage lesser known authors or first books for Hugo awards while also have tried to make a case that some critically acclaimed authors have won too much. Authors just can’t win with you. Ancillary Justice was critically acclaimed as was The Wind Up girl, as was 2005 winner Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. Many Puppies say that the Hugo community is too insular, are you suggesting that there’s too many new works by new authors?

    Second part of that question you suggest there’s something wrong with this, though the Hugo is to award what people vote on the best book of the year. If that’s a book that might be uneven (which not everyone may agree on) but challenges the genre and craft, and burns brighter than other work, why should there be a separate award?

    If the internet provides a wider exposure to newer works and adds more titles to the potential pool of voting for books, is this not a good thing?

    Is the internet and/or the new voting practices of newly added members leading them to vote in novel ways?

    Yes.

    A definitive answer to a question you asked yourself, finally!

    And hey we can agree the Puppies used a new voting practice that has lead to the decline in the quality of nominated works.

  4. ‘“Samurai” and “Turncoat” are definitely being widely dissected, but they are being treated as stories rather than as a metonym’

    Well, yeah. The differences between these critiques and SP/RP critiques (being generous because at least Steve Moss offered somewhat substantive if unconvincing thoughts) of Dinosaur and Redshirts are… huge.

  5. Matt Y, you asked me to explain what patterns I see so I’ve done so. Of course this is my speculation.

    When I asked if the enjoyment of Scalzi’s books alone propelled him to the Hugos, it was a rhetorical question. Of course not. He’s the internet pioneer, obviously. His “self-pimpage” began to crank up in 2006 and gained steam for a long time, with other authors gradually joining later.

    Is 2011 the watershed? That’s my personal impression.

    I don’t disparage first novels. But they are rarely Best Novels in my view. Best Novel tends to imply author at the height of his/her craft, to me. There are exceptions. An established author with a large fan base can also be nominated for a relatively minor work. Is that “funny”?

    I don’t know how to explain the Seanan MacGuire/Mira Grant phenomenon, so I’ve given you my educated guess. Obviously she had roots in traditional fandom, and I don’t know if that fully explains how she became a powerhouse.

  6. Brian Z – Matt Y, you asked me to explain what patterns I see so I’ve done so. Of course this is my speculation.

    Yeah, speculation based off of assumption. A pattern is an observable characteristic. You’ve observed people winning awards for books you appear to not like and created a narrative with no foundation. That’s not a pattern. It’s not even an educated guess.

    I don’t disparage first novels. But they are rarely Best Novels in my view. Best Novel tends to imply author at the height of his/her craft, to me. There are exceptions. An established author with a large fan base can also be nominated for a relatively minor work. Is that “funny”?

    It kind of is when you’re continuing to narrow down what should win for any other reason that it was the best book for that year. Best Novel of the year tends to imply the Best Novel of that year. It’s not Best Novel of the Year* (*winner must be at the height of their career, minor works by established authors don’t count even if you think that was the best book of the year, new authors need not apply).

  7. Just imagine the scene where the eagle thing comes up explicitly — probably during the last bit of The Council of Elrond chapter once they’ve determined that destroying the Ring is the only real option.

    Bilbo: What about the eagles? Couldn’t they just fly the ring to Mount Doom?

    Gandalf: (Looks at him for a while. Sighs.) As I have already mentioned, SEVERAL TIMES, our only chance of success is for Sauron not to notice what we’re really planning. You know what would really attract his attention? GIANT EAGLES IN MORDOR AIRSPACE.

    Okay, obviously I didn’t try to mimic Tolkien’s style at all there. But the concept of “why don’t we send a big army?” does come up explicitly in the text and I don’t see why “giant eagles” isn’t obviously covered under the “big army” concept.

  8. The problem, Matt, is you hear things I’m not saying. For example, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrel deserved to be there. I found the 2005 slate highly satisfying, especially all those consummate lefties. Stop assuming I’m a “puppy.”

  9. McJulie, I’m not sure why no one has pointed out that it is hard to shoot an invisible bird. And can you imagine what the King of the Eagles could do with the One Ring?

  10. Brian Z., what you may have missed about Seanan MacGuire, is that she is a VERY popular filker and she attends lots of Filk cons. It’s very likely that there is an overlap between Filk Fandom and Worldcon Fandom, and that’s how she got her boost onto the ballot.

    No mysterious cabal — just being known and liked by fans.

  11. Brian Z – The problem, Matt, is you hear things I’m not saying. For example, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrel deserved to be there. I found the 2005 slate highly satisfying, especially all those consummate lefties. Stop assuming I’m a “puppy.”

    I’m not assuming you’re a Puppy. I am saying that your narrow definition of the award appears to be best overall novel by that author instead of just the best of that year and that your ‘patterns’ are from what you’ve describe you jumping to conclusions of works you don’t care for with nothing to support those conclusions aside from your personal intuition.

    While you might not be a puppy, you share the idea that works you don’t care for being nominated and/or winning instead of thinking that maybe other people held a difference of opinion, you see a greater pattern influencing the awards that you’re pretty sure is there though you can’t prove it.

    Considering many of the winning works over those years also won Locus, Clarke, World Fantasy Award, British Fantasy Award and the Nebula, the influence is strong.

  12. And can you imagine what the King of the Eagles could do with the One Ring?

    Be corrupted by its power. The wearer isn’t invisible to Sauron.

  13. The wearer isn’t invisible to Sauron.

    Sauron: “No! No! Aim a little to the left!”

  14. Matt Y, we all start from our intuition. Feel free to argue specifics. Do you think Seanan McGuire should have got all those nominations? Scalzi? The first novels – and if so which ones? Can you think of nothing better in those years? Of course my opinion is just an opening gambit for discussion.

  15. A first novel is more likely to bring new ideas, which will contribute to people thinking it’s the best of that year. Odds are that author’s later novels will have enough themes or style in common with the first that it’s no longer seen as new, so while it might be more polished than the first, it’s not going to attract the same buzz.

  16. Writers often spend years perfecting the novel that ends up being published first, and second and third novels are either previously unpublishable trunk pieces quickly revised and polished, or worse, a sequel to the novel that the author never really considered until compelled to by a two or three book deal, written in eight months.

  17. Lori Coulson,

    No mysterious cabal — just being known and liked by fans.

    I do know that, which is why I said she got her start in traditional fandom. It leaves some unanswered questions for me: she presided over a period that saw growth in WorldCon membership generally and growth in Hugo nominations in particular. How are the nominations for her related to that? Were existing WorldCon members motivated to nominate for the first time? Did new fans sign up? Did they spread the word online? and so forth. Those are questions, and if you have ideas I’d love to hear them.

  18. Writers often spend years perfecting the novel that ends up being published first,

    Nick, which of the first novels on recent years’ ballots did you think were among the best of the year?

  19. Ancillary Justice and Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. But that’s not to say that the novels by more “experienced” writers were better .My ballots are generally littered with NO AWARD. Here are my last few Hugo novel votes:

    2010:
    THE CITY AND THE CITY
    JULIAN COMSTOCK
    PALIMPSEST
    WIND-UP GIRL
    NO AWARD
    BONESHAKER

    2011:
    THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS
    THE DERVISH HOUSE
    NO AWARD
    FEED

    2012:
    EMBASSYTOWN
    LEVIATHAN WAKES
    NO AWARD
    (rough year!)

    2013:
    2312
    NO AWARD
    (even rougher!)

    2014:
    ANCILLARY JUSTICE
    NEPTUNE’S BROOD
    NO AWARD

    2015:
    THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM
    ANCILLARY SWORD
    NO AWARD

  20. Brian Z – Matt Y, we all start from our intuition. Feel free to argue specifics. Do you think Seanan McGuire should have got all those nominations? Scalzi?

    I think that the voters of those years believed so, regardless of my opinion. I respect their choices just like I’d expect them to respect mine.

    The first novels – and if so which ones? Can you think of nothing better in those years?

    Strange and Norrell certainly I felt deserved it. The Wind Up Girl I enjoyed immensely. Other disagree with me and while I understand their criticisms I don’t agree with them or didn’t share those concerns when reading. Leviathan Wakes I thought was kick ass (first book by the two authors together under a shared name), so I understand why people nominated it, but I also get why it didn’t win. I liked other books than Ancillary Justice more, but I respect that it clicked more with a majority of the voters more than it did with me.

    Because regardless of my opinion of a book I don’t see any deeper plot when a book wins an award aside from more people who enjoyed that book voted.

    Of course my opinion is just an opening gambit for discussion

    Me too, and I like specifics as well, what specifically led you to thinking that there was any reason behind any of the books being nominated or awarded aside from other people enjoyed it more than you?

  21. I may regret this deeply because I have so much current work I’m behind on, but have been reading *all* the comments and posts carefully (much thanks and many kudos to Mike G. for the work he’s doing), and have been finally pushed to say the following:

    Brian Z:

    It leaves some unanswered questions for me: she presided over a period that saw growth in WorldCon membership generally and growth in Hugo nominations in particular. How are the nominations for her related to that? Were existing WorldCon members motivated to nominate for the first time? Did new fans sign up?

    All of this sort of question is completely unanswerable except by the rankest speculation and guesswork by you (or others). You would need do major survey/questionnaire work and statistical analysis of a sort that to my knowledge (and I’m an academic and a fan and a scholar who writes about fandom) has not only never been done but probably could not be done, not at the scope you are demanding.

    All your questions do is to establish a flimsy foundation for your speculations that let you present fictional claims about the processes such that (as others have noted) you seem to be supporting Puppy Points.

    It’s irritating to watch, and I admire those who are working generously and politely to point out all the flaws in your approach.

  22. Re: Seanan McGuire’s mysterious dominance…..I didn’t even know she was a filker until Lori Coulson said so in this thread. I dislike zombie novels, but for some reason picked up McGuire’s first novel in her Newsflesh series at the local bookstore and was intrigued enough by the blurb to read it, fell stone in love, have ALL her books (under ALL her pseuds I know of), have taught _Feed_ in a werewolves and zombies course a while ago, obsessively grab everything she publishes or puts out freely–and all without knowing anything about the author.

    Of course I’m a Social Justice Glittery Hoo Hah Commie Pervert Queer Atheist Large Mouthy Woman from way back (was in organized Trek fandom in the 1970s, APA fandom in the 1980s, left because sexism so boring plus I had to write a dissertation, and then came back into online slash fandom in the early 21st century).

    I didn’t bother about the Hugos for years because World-Con 1) too expensive (starving student,and wow, what I would have given for a Spokane con back in Ye Olden Days, meaning the 1960s/70s), and 2) too male-dominated like all the other cons I attended in Ye Olden Days, but I have become a supporting member for the first time because of the ructions raised by the MRA and TeaParty and Christian Dominionist parts of fandom.

  23. @Jinian: You are an example of why McGuire’s stuff does well on the Hugos. She has a really active, really passionate fan base. There is no more mystery to then that. Her work doesn’t speak to me on that level, but more power to those who it does.

  24. Brian Z:

    “[Seanan McGuire] presided over a period that saw growth in WorldCon membership …”

    I honestly don’t know what you’re trying to say here. What do you mean by “presided over”?? I think I must have missed getting my ballot for the election of President of SJWs that year. Or did you just mean that she got a lot of award nominations during those years?

  25. McGuire spent a lot of time cultivating her fanbase online, inspiring significant loyalty, including people promising to buy multiple copies of her books when amazon delivered some early thus supposedly spoiling her chances for the best-seller lists.

    Scalzi did the same, Kowal as well, as did Valente. It’s just having a Loud Blog and positioning yourself as A Friend of Your Fans. It can certainly be obnoxious, and as it only takes a few dozen votes to get on the Hugo ballot*, it can be decisive. Nobody ever goes wrong cultivating fandom—a ferociously mediocre book like AMONG OTHERS can win a Hugo over EMBASSYTOWN because the whole thing is a love letter to fans.

    The difference between the mid-decade Blog Hugos and the 2010s Puppy campaigns are a. slating, b. race-baiting and culture war politics, and c. the championing of semiliterate horseshit over the merely mediocre.

    *Had I campaigned, at all, a few years ago, my novelette “Arbeitskraft”, which received 30 votes, would have certainly gotten the eight more it needed to get on the Hugo ballot. I have a Loud Blog and Loud Twitter too—I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I am Old School.

  26. Unrelatedly: I just started reading the title of this thread as “Howl’s Moving Goalposts”.

  27. Chris: I’d argue that McGuire is not unique in that–although I was not voting on Hugos during her period of dominance. I don’t know how representative I am of her work though (and I didn’t realize Mira Grant was Seanan McGuire until fairly late in the process) (just as I didn’t realize that Claire North was Katherine Griffin–belated thanks to the people on this site who tipped me off to the Harry August novel–FANTASTIC and one I’d vote for in a New York minute).

    That is, does anybody whose work is (non-slate) nominated for a Hugo NOT have a passionate fan base (or is the passion of the fan base suspect only when the writers in question are white women or people of color)? That’s part of what’s been irritating to me (especially since I went through the b.s. in 70s fandom over “why are the girlz coming in, they only like star trek)–the idea that since X dude doesn’t like/read Y novel, it must be a plot.

    I’m a huge N.K. Jemisin fan as well, also taught her first novel in a class soon after reading it. I tell people that I got a Ph.D. in English so I could teach sf at the university level–part of the Sooper Sekrit Plan of taking the universe over for SF.

  28. Jinian, you are right that my questions on a blog could hope to get no more than anecdotal evidence.

    Like everybody I heard that theory that Hugo insiders arranged to nominate certain people in backroom deals. But I was asking something different: there were many new Hugo nominators (and more generally WorldCon members) getting active in that period. Did a lot of them vote for Mira Grant? If so, that might be the opposite of the “backroom insider” theory.

    Morris Keenan, yes, I was describing her good run of straight years of nominations, that’s all.

  29. Passionate fan bases—not everyone has one. Stan Robinson doesn’t have one; what he has is a significant reader base. People who read SF (and not necessarily F) pick up Robinson’s work the moment it comes out, but you won’t see a lot of “squee” over it. His readership is basically a large, older crowd, that probably were most passionate when the Mars trilogy was released twenty years ago. But they’ve been trained to pick up the next Robinson every time and still do twenty years later.

    China Mieville does have a passionate fan base, but he does little to cultivate it. He has next to no online presence and what exists is neglected. (He last updated his website in 2013.) He is not active on social media.

  30. Nick, I only noticed McGuire’s social media presence *after* becoming a fan of her novels, and by some purist definitions, I’m not a “fan” of her novels (since I’m not active in a fandom group dedicated to her novels). I may squee, but I squee alone.

    Brian: what good are a few anecdotes to anybody? Even given the limited numbers of nominators/voters for the Hugo, collecting a dozen or fifty or a hundred anecdotes mean nothing, and with fandoms spread out so widely across social media platforms, asking questions on a blog is even more limited (if you have been seeking stories elsewhere, I apologize, but you haven’t mentioned it).

    Fandom activities take place on tumblr, facebook, twitter (and of course many fans are active across the platforms) and even the older arenas such as LiveJournal and Dreamwidth, and goodreads.

    What can you possibly hope to achieve by this sort of limited questioning in one place (especially tied to the potentially insulting speculations that you then erect)?

    Your comments also seem to be designed to give a gloss of rationality to a flat out paranoid conspiracy theory. Why?

  31. Seanan also has a fair bit of credibility within the fandom that might be likely to nominate/vote for the Hugo Awards. She chaired BayCon many years ago before she became better known as an author. She’s not the only nominee/winner who knows that cultivating the voter base for the award you’d like to win may have some advantages.

  32. And the idea of writers coming up from fandom is, from all I have read and remembered, historically considered a vital part of (book) sff culture–or did Isaac Asimov and Harlan Ellison and all the other authors I was reading frantically and voraciously from small town Idaho during the 1960s lie to me?

    It’s only been fairly recently (and this may well be related to the internet though I’d say there were other earlier originating causes including the mainstreaming of sff through film, starting with Star Wars and probably a range of other reasons) that led to published sff authors not primarily “coming through (organized) fandom.” I think John Scalzi talked about that (not attending his first con until after publishing his first book).

  33. Brian: Like everybody I heard that theory that Hugo insiders arranged to nominate certain people in backroom deals.

    Which “insiders”? What “certain people”? Where were these “backroom deals”? How does one “arrange to nominate people” for the Hugos without, say, putting together a slate and inviting people to nominate them unread as a way to get back at their political enemies? How does one do this completely undetectably?

    That’s only a “theory” in the sense that “the lizard people from the center of the Earth conspired to get their favorite works onto the Hugo ballot using Mind Control” is a “theory”.

    For what it’s worth, as a long-time fan and occasional Hugo voter and Worldcon volunteer, I’d never heard of Mira Grant until after Feed was nominated, and as I wasn’t voting that year, didn’t bother to get around to reading it for literally a couple of years, as it sounded like not my sort of thing. It took three different meatspace friends buttonholing me and saying, “no really, you NEED to read this” before I finally gave in, and discovered that I did, in fact like it and, had I been a voter that year, would have placed it above No Award, though I would have given Hundred Thousand Kingdoms the top slot on my ballot.

  34. inian on May 26, 2015 at 12:28 pm said:

    And the idea of writers coming up from fandom is, from all I have read and remembered, historically considered a vital part of (book) sff culture–or did Isaac Asimov and Harlan Ellison and all the other authors I was reading frantically and voraciously from small town Idaho during the 1960s lie to me?

    It’s only been fairly recently (and this may well be related to the internet though I’d say there were other earlier originating causes including the mainstreaming of sff through film, starting with Star Wars and probably a range of other reasons) that led to published sff authors not primarily “coming through (organized) fandom.” I think John Scalzi talked about that (not attending his first con until after publishing his first book).

    John Scalzi wasn’t even a member of the science fiction club in college, which means that at least some of my buds who were at his school at the same time as he was never crossed paths with him. He was totally a newspaper geek.

  35. Cally on May 26, 2015 at 12:37 pm said:

    Brian: Like everybody I heard that theory that Hugo insiders arranged to nominate certain people in backroom deals.

    Which “insiders”? What “certain people”? Where were these “backroom deals”? How does one “arrange to nominate people” for the Hugos without, say, putting together a slate and inviting people to nominate them unread as a way to get back at their political enemies? How does one do this completely undetectably?

    Exactly so. And how did they do it while leaving no evidence behind whatsoever? In a field notorious for its gossip, to say nothing of online archives.

  36. I’m not sure the whole passionate fan base thing is entirely a function of social media, although social media can easily turn it into a positive feedback loop.

    I’m thinking specifically of two multi-winning, multi-nominated authors who I have been following since their early careers: Neil Gaiman and Lois McMaster Bujold. Lois was GOH at a VikingCon I helped run in 1991, and she already had a really dedicated and passionate fanbase that showed up for our convention. We tried to get Neil the following year, and for several years after that, but he was already too much of a rockstar for us.

    Online fandom was just a baby then — it can’t be the source of their popularity.

  37. McJulie: I agree with you that online fandom cannot be the (sole) basis of an author’s popularity)–also, agree on Bujold (one of my favorite writers–although, again, I discovered her work in a bookstore and was not active in fandom, still not active in her fandom). But of course before online fandom there were the ‘zines and all the groups — my argument tends to be that the internet made it easier for people who didn’t live anywhere near an organized fan group (which was true for me until I went to college) or who are limited from attending meetings/cons for multiple reasons) to participate in fanac. Online just allows for more ways of learning about more stuff.

    And, anecdote warning, from my experience of advising the sf group on my small (rural Texas) university which has morphed from a handful of book fans, maybe 10 at best, to nearly 100 members, between the late 1990s and the early 2000s, half of which regularly attended meetings, a lot of the online fans are in gaming of all sorts, media fandom, as well as reading books-they just don’t identify as primarily book fans. My students really resisted tying their fannish identities to any single medium (while I continued to mostly identity as a book fan though I do some some of the recent comic book film adaptations).

  38. I don’t know how to explain the Seanan MacGuire/Mira Grant phenomenon […].

    Seanan McGuire was a convention runner for ten years before she had her first October Daye novel published. She was con chair for our local convention, BayCon, in 2003, and I was programming 2nd that year (and programming head the following two years).

    Heading up a long-running con like BayCon gets one noticed in Worldcon circles, too. That certainly didn’t hurt once she started selling books.

  39. Jinian,

    Brian: what good are a few anecdotes to anybody? Even given the limited numbers of nominators/voters for the Hugo…

    Fandom activities take place on tumblr, facebook, twitter (and of course many fans are active across the platforms) and even the older arenas such as LiveJournal and Dreamwidth, and goodreads.

    Personally (and I don’t expect everybody to be interested in the same things): I want to know more about fandom as a microcosm of the larger culture and how they interact, and I want to understand how cultural values and their expression evolve along with technology. Hugo drama, a constant hum since computers were invented, has played out as we shifted from purple wax to plato and bulletin boards to usenet to aol to netscape to wordpress to tumblr to facebook to twitter and beyond, and I wonder what the Hugo ceremony will be like when everybody in a Marriott ballroom can see people in other Marriott ballrooms as if they were sitting right next to you. Puppies (or Seanan McGuire-themed fanac) are one (interesting) facet.

  40. Brian Z.: Personally (and I don’t expect everybody to be interested in the same things): I want to know more about fandom as a microcosm of the larger culture and how they interact, and I want to understand how cultural values and their expression evolve along with technology.

    Well, if your interest in fandom is genuine, then perhaps you should actually start reading today’s Fan Writers, instead of just complaining that all they do is Tweet and Facebook and promote their own books, and instead of blathering on and on how much better the Fan Writers were in the days of the mimeograph and white-out.

  41. I actually knew nothing about Seanan when I bought her first Toby Daye novel. I don’t even remember why I bought it. I fell _hard_ for that book. So I went and bought and read everything else I could find by her, with some mixed results. I reluctantly read _Feed_ because it was by Seanan, but I purely hate zombies. I loved it. I didn’t, however, like _Parasite_ that much, and it was fairly low on my ballot that year. I forget how low.

    In contrast to Nick, I think that _Among Others_ was a wonderful book. It wasn’t just a love letter to fandom, though that was certainly there. It was a very precise description of how I and many of my friends interacted with life and fiction, and how the two play off against each other, a representation I actually haven’t seen in fiction, before. The way what we read changes us is an important part of us, and I hadn’t seen that in a novel. I was delighted.

    On the other hand, I hated hated hated _Embassytown_. If I never read another Sapir-Worf based sf novel, it will be much too soon. I do not accept that any thinking being can be so completely incapable of abstract thought as that, much less a technological being. The fact that the technology was biology didn’t help things a bit. I probably missed something important in the book, because after about 100 pages, I was swimming in pure hatred, fighting to make it to the end so that I could vote on it. God, I hated that novel. I’m told that he writes stuff I would like and someday I’ll try something else, but oh, dear me oh my.

  42. Lydy,

    This won’t make you like EMBASSYTOWN any more than you do now, but it’s not a W-S novel. It’s basically about Tran Duc Thao’s attempt to marry phenomenology and Marxism.

  43. Lydy Nickerson: “I actually knew nothing about Seanan when I bought her first Toby Daye novel. I don’t even remember why I bought it.”

    It was probably because there was an excerpt in the 2010 Hugo packet. That’s where I “met” Seanan McGuire. I would have told you that Mythic Fantasy isn’t really my thing, but I loved that first October Daye book, and I have bought and read every one since.

    Like you, I hate zombies and expected to hate Feed — but in fact, I was blown away at the approach she took, the world-building and characterization and plotting.

    McGuire does not get nominated just because she happens to know the “right people”. She gets nominated because there are a lot of people who really like her books.

  44. Lydy Nickerson, I also found Embassytown to be more of a struggle than it could or should have been.

  45. She has a great setup under a pen name in the Apocalypse collection by Adams and Howey. What she does with Disneyland is a blast. Her stories under her own name in that series were also real standouts. Definitely need to go look up her books.

  46. Jinian – Your comments also seem to be designed to give a gloss of rationality to a flat out paranoid conspiracy theory. Why?

    I’m not even sure he knows.

  47. Matt Y, as you know full well, I explicitly argued the polar opposite of the “puppy conspiracy theory,” since Seanan McGuire was more likely the beneficiary not of backroom insider dealings but, instead, of exactly the kind of populist expansion of the pool of nominating WSFS members that the Sad Puppies say they want.

  48. Brian Z – That’s fine, I didn’t say you believe in Puppy conspiracy theories. You’ve created your own ‘patterns’ you believe in based on assumptions you’ve made to infer that books you disliked were nominated or won on any other reason than other people liked them more. You and puppies might not come to the same conclusion but you’re both attempting to assign reasoning beyond a difference of opinion despite having no evidence to the contrary.

    So you’re not a Sad Puppy but a Silly Goose who likes to just ask questions and then use those questions as a foundation to make generalizations based on nothing. Why? Who knows.

  49. Matt Y, I’ve stated why I’m interested in these questions. Out of curiosity, why are you interested?

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