Canterbury Tails 5/27

Aka Mansfield Puppy Park

The wisdom of crowds is supplied by Ruth Davies, Adam-Troy Castro, Nancy Lebovitz, Gabriel McKee, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Lyda Morehouse, L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright, Alexandra Erin, Vox Day, JDZ, Lis Carey, Joe Sherry, Lisa J. Goldstein, Rebekah Golden, Joseph Brassey, John Scalzi, Katya Czaja, plus less identifiable others. (Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editors of the day rcade and Kary English.)

Ruth Davies on The Hippo Collective

“Taking a Literary Step Backwards: the Hugo Awards 2015” – May 24

This scandal is clearly worrying; such regressive views placed upon particular literary genres, such as science fiction and fantasy, must have implications for other genres, and the larger literary field. Literature is key in its power to evolve and combat the oppression of minority groups, by allowing a voice and platform (although being well heard often unfortunately relies on getting ‘discovered’ and subsequently published). Right-wing action is also more concerning when involved with such canonising activity as literary awards. Awards often help shape the (Western) literary canon, which contains a lot of the West’s most famous and widely read literature. Therefore right-wing attitudes, such as those of the ‘Sad Puppies’ and ‘Rabid Puppies’, merely blocks diversification of the canon – discouraging the cultural change that the West still desperately needs.

However, the question still remains: how do we overcome such regressive strategies in literature? The democratic fan vote should appear the fairest and least problematic strategy, yet as seen, it has its fundamental drawbacks.

 

Font Folly

“Tom Puppy and the Visitor from Planet Clueless” – May 27

A Sad Puppy/Rabid Puppy supporter posted an op-ed on the men’s rights site Return of the Kings (he links to and heavily paraphrases one of the Sad Puppy podcasts), “How Female-Dominated Publishing Houses Are Censoring Male Authors” that is a great example of several of the issues that I believe underpin the Sad Puppy position. Never mind that the statistics show that men make up more than 65% of the annual publishing lists of most of the publishing houses, and male-authored books comprise more the 80% of books reviewed in the major publications, this guy is here to tell us that men are being censored!

 

Adam Troy-Castro on Facebook – May 27

(Sigh) No, I am not saying, nor am I ever going to say, that the organizers of the Sad Puppy nonsense need to be “boycotted” for what they have done and said, and I am most certainly not saying that the writers they advocated for need to be boycotted for the actions of those who supported them.

This is after all me, the guy who has made such a regular habit of arguing for separating the art from the artist, most of the time in more extreme circumstances. If I can distinguish between Bill Cosby and “Bill Cosby,” if I can praise the occasional film by Roman Polanski, if I can struggle in vain to discuss the filmic achievements of Woody Allen without being slammed by the same stuff that artistic discussions of Woody Allen are always slammed with, if I can further regularly wax enthusiastic about work by writers like Stephen Hunter and Dan Simmons who exist so far from me on the political spectrum that we are almost on separate rainbows, then why the hell would I tell anybody to boycott the work of {Gay-Basher McManly-Nuts}, to name one, just because I think it’s fun to summarize his persona as {Gay-Basher McManly-Nuts}? Ditto with {Hurt-Feelings Harry}, {Steely-Eyed Rage-Monster}, Beale The Galactic Zero, and the rest of that crew. I mock them with abandon, but want *none* of them subjected to organized boycott of any kind.

I have said nothing advocating otherwise, and anybody who represents me as having said anything of the kind is, in precise measurement, a goddamned liar.

 

Nancy Lebovitz in a comment on Making Light – May 27

At Balticon, someone asked Jo Walton about the Hugos at her GoH speech, and she said that ideally, the Hugos are a gesture of love and respect, and campaigning for the Hugos is like persistently asking your partner whether they love you. It just isn’t the same.

 

Doctor Science on Obsidian Wings

“Problems with the Hugo Nominations for Pro and Fan Artist” – May 28

[Doctor Science vetted the sample art in the Hugo Voters Packet and says she discovered most of the material from Nick Greenwood and Steve Stiles came from another eligibility year, and that among all artists he traced 14 items to periods before 2014.]

I’ll stop here for the moment, and go on later to talk about things like: how I’m going to vote, what I think the problems with the categories are, and start some ideas about how to fix them.

For a start, though, I urge my fellow voters to click around the 2014 Pro and 2014 Fan collections at Hugo Eligible Art, to get a sense of what your baseline should be for comparison.

 

Gabriel McKee on SF Gospel

“The Way the Future Never Was” – May 27

For a lot of us, SF’s ability to deal with current problems in metaphorical terms is the whole point. It’s why we got interested in the genre, and why we’ve stuck with it—because there will always be new quesitons, and new angles on them. Does Brad Torgersen really want SF to be a genre about space ships and ray guns with no resonance with current society? Does he really want SF authors to abandon the time-honored tradition of exploring social issues with SFnal metaphor? That sounds to me like an SF that’s afraid of the future.

 

Gabriel McKee on SF Gospel

“The Way the Future Never Was: A Visual Appendix” – May 27

To get a better idea of Brad Torgersen’s problem with today’s science fiction, let’s take a look at some good, old-fashioned, reliably-packaged SF….

The Space Merchants cover COMP

Hey, this one looks fun. It’s got space ships and all kinds of stuff. Wait, what? It’s about the evils of capitalism? Bait and switch!

 

 

Lyda Morehouse on Bitter Empire

“Real Talk About John Scalzi, Vox Day, And That Big Big Book Deal” – May 27

Vox Day (Theodore Beale), if you recall, is the mastermind behind the Rabid Puppies (the super-far right organizers of this year’s Hugo debacle.) Beale apparently also sees himself as Scalzi’s rival. Beale has all sorts of “hilarious” nicknames for Scalzi….

So, as you can imagine, Beale’s head is near ready to explode.

He starts off with a simple report of the deal, but then it takes a hard right into God knows what. Beale says that Scalzi’s deal can really only be expected because Tor, his publisher, really doesn’t have any big name authors in its stables beyond Scazli, except maybe one other, and, more importantly, “It’s not as if the award-winning Jo Walton or the award-winning Catharine (sic) Asaro or any of their other award-winning authors sell enough books to support all the SJW non-SF they keep trying to push on an unwilling public.”

What.

Whoa, ladies, that was almost a compliment there for being all award-win-y, but nope. According to Beale, the only reason Walton and Asaro write is push the SJW (Social Justice Warrior) “non-SF” on all of us non-willing readers.

 

JDZ on Never Yet Melted

“John Scalzi Gets $3.4 Million Publishing Deal” – May 27

Scalzi has alienated a significant portion of his readership with sanctimonious hoplophobic blog posts (example) and by lining up with the Social Justice Warriors in the fighting over the Hugo Awards. My guess is that his backlisting powers will be declining.

 

L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright conducts interview on Superversive SF

“Interview with Hugo Fan Writer Nominee: Dave Freer!” – May 27

7) How did you come up with the idea for your current nominated story?

Eating cheese late at night. It was that or my concern for the state of a genre I love. I happen think all nice boys and girls should love sf and fantasy (and find sf and fantasy to love). I think all nasty boys and girls should too. I am delighted if the rare, nasty, odd, and possibly puke purple creatures crawling out of the East River do too. I just find it worrying when the latter group seems to have become so dominant that the rest lose interest and go and pursue other forms of entertainment and escapism.

 

Alexandra Erin on Blue Author Is About To Write

“Of Dinosaurs, Legos, and Impossible Hypotheticals” – May 27

There’s another work nominated this year that has stirred similar questions in a more limited way, perhaps more limited because the Dramatic Presentation categories are seen as less serious and crucial in a literary award than the literary categories, and perhaps because as a Sad Puppy pick it is taken less seriously to begin with.

The work in question is The Lego Movie, which contains a couple of scenes near the end that make explicit the implicit framing device for a movie about Lego characters in a world made out of Lego blocks: it’s all a child, playing with toys. It is this moment, in my opinion, that elevates The Lego Movie from merely being charming and fun to actually pretty sublimely brilliant. It explained so many of the odd quirks of characterization and storytelling earlier in the film.

I mean, it changed the movie’s version of Batman from “weirdly out of character, but okay, it’s funny” to “…that’s freaking brilliant” because it wasn’t Batman as adult comic book fans understand him but Batman seen through the eyes of a child, with way more focus on the cool factor of everything and of course he has the coolest girlfriend and of course even the grimdark angst seems kind of fun…

 

Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“Hugo Awards 2015: Best Novella” – May27

This is how I am voting in the Best Novella category. Of course, I merely offer this information regarding my individual ballot for no particular reason at all, and the fact that I have done so should not be confused in any way, shape, or form with a slate or a bloc vote, much less a direct order by the Supreme Dark Lord of the Evil Legion of Evil to his 367 Vile Faceless Minions or anyone else.

 

  1. “One Bright Star to Guide Them”
  2. “Big Boys Don’t Cry”
  3. “The Plural of Helen of Troy”
  4. “Pale Realms of Shade”
  5. “Flow”

 

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“Rat Queens, by Kurtis J. Wiebe (writer), Roc Upchurch (illustrator)” – May 27

ratqueens

Booze-guzzling, death-dealing, battle maidens-for-hire.

This is so not my thing. The art is excellent. The writing is quite good. There’s a plot–but here’s where I run into trouble.

 

Joe Sherry on Adventures In Reading

“Thoughts on the Hugo Award Nominees: Related Work” – May 27

Letters from Gardner: Lou Antonelli’s collection is an interesting one. It’s part memoir, part short story collection, part writing advice, part I have no idea. It shows Antonelli’s development as a writer, some of the revision progress, and how influential some of those early rejections from Gardner Dozois were. It’s not necessarily my cuppa, but it’s not bad.

No Award: No Award continues to rear its ugly head. I read half of Wright’s Transhuman and Subhuman collection (approximately), and I bounced off of it. His essay on fiction writing directed at a nonfiction writing friend was fairly solid, but I had issues with the rest of what I read – mostly in that I disagree with much of what Wright has to say and his essay writing style does little to encourage me to continue reading even despite my disagreement. I can’t get into specifics here because each time I bounced off an essay, I moved onto the next. That said, he’s not wrong that Ulysses is a terrible book.

On the other hand, Wisdom from my Internet is truly a terrible book that has no place anywhere near this ballot. I can understand, more or less, why people may have enjoyed / appreciated Wright’s collection. I’m not his audience, but many people likely are. Michael Williamson’s collection of non-sequiturs and jokes is sort of organized by topic, but most are not at all entertaining and what, exactly it has to do with the field of science fiction and / or fantasy is completely beyond me. But it isn’t so much the lack of relation to SFF that gets me, it’s how bad the jokes are and how disinteresting the whole thing is. I may not think that Wright’s collection is worthy of an Award, but I don’t think Williamson’s should have been considered for nomination. I may never understand how or why it was….

 

Adult Onset Atheist

“There can be only one SNARL” – May 27

Where did such a foolish name as “Sad Puppies” come from? Larry apparently likes cutesy names; he was co-founder of a gunshop he named “Fuzzy Bunny Movie Guns”. The gunshop went under, but the enduring flikr record of it shows racks of plastic-furnitured AK-47s, and glass cases with handguns lovingly laid out for display. “Sad Puppies” is a name derived from the kind of immature humor that wants to be irony when it grows up.

The idea for “Sad Puppies” pre-dates the Hugo kerfluffle. On Larry’s blog one of the first posts he tagged with “Sad Puppies” is a reactionary commentary-style rebuttal to a September 2009 POTUS speech to a joint session of congress, and the next is a similar reactionary commentary to the 2010 SOTU. So “Sad Puppies” in Larry’s mind is political in the strictest sense of the word. Yet somehow everyone else is really political people –whether they say so or not- and poor Larry is just trying to give his embattled writers the only chances available because he perceives them as having been shut out.  And the only way to get “his” writers a fair shake is to shut out any competing works that might try to leverage some unfair literati elitist advantage by not being crappy.

The reason the Sad puppies can pee all over the Hugo process is because of complacency in fandom. When I talk about complacency I am mostly talking about myself. I ask myself “How can you make good nominations when you haven’t read more than a dozen SF novellas this year?” The nice voters packet provides a guided reading list; the trufans have done the heavy lifting. So far this year there are over 9,000 voting members of worldcon, and membership is open for a few more days. For $40 you can get a vote and a nice electronic voting packet; unfortunately many of the stories in it are crap. Some of the Hugo nominations this year received less than 30 votes. There needs to be some way of bridging the complacency gap so the large numbers of fans who care enough to vote for a Hugo are presented with a couple choices worth voting for.  Perhaps that means I need to get off my rear and wade through the vast number of published SF/F stories to make recommendations and vote during the nomination process instead of waiting until after the nominations list is published.

 

Lisa J. Goldstein on theinferior4

“Let Me Explain… No, There Is Too Much. Let Me Sum Up.” – May 27

One of my questions when I started was why the Puppies chose these specific stories.  And after all that reading, I have to say that I still don’t know, and the statements of the Puppies themselves don’t really help.  Larry Correia wanted to nominate stories that would “make literati heads explode,” stories with right-wing themes that would anger SJWs (Super-Judgmental Werewolves?) when they appeared on the ballot.  But we’re very used to narratives of straight white men doing straight white manly things, and even seeing those stories nominated for Hugos.  It’s all just business as usual.  I don’t know about other people’s crania, but my head stayed firmly on my shoulders while I was reading — though it did slip toward the desk a few times, my eyes closing, thinking, Ho hum, another one …

Correia also rejected “boring message fiction” — but then how to explain John C. Wright’s Catholic apologia, or Tom Kratman’s push for more and more weaponry?  And his final explanation was that people were mean to him at a convention.  Okay, but why these stories?  Was putting us through all of this his idea of revenge?

 

Rebekah Golden

“2015 Hugo Awards Best Short Story: Reviewing J C Wright” – May 26

This is a parable told in the style of Kipling or of old Buddhist tales. It takes a mythology well known to the author and extends it into a second mirroring mythology like Zeno’s Paradox applied to christianity. It was clever and written well, if in a pre-Hemingway style, but overall not a story for me.

 

Rebekah Golden

“2015 Hugo Awards Best Fan Artist: Reviewing N Aalto” – May 27

Ninni had two pieces included in the Hugo Voters packet. Both were very well drawn and nicely colored. Based on her online portfolio I like her style and find her work pleasing to the eye. I suspect there are some in jokes I don’t get but that’s the nature of being the best fan at something. In short, nicely done.

 

Katya Czaja

“Hugo Award: Professional Artist” – May 27

Ranking Julie Dillon stood out as the clear winner in this category.

1) Julie Dillon
2) Nick Greenwood
3) Allan Pollack
4) No Award
5) Carter Reid
6) Kirk DouPonce

 

 

 

520 thoughts on “Canterbury Tails 5/27

  1. CPaca: For years now, I’ve used “Incidents and Accidents, Hints and Allegations” as a journal or blog title. 🙂

  2. steve davidson on May 29, 2015 at 6:05 am said:
    @Standback.

    Actually, it most likely is “illegal” for you to make the anthologies you are making for yourself.

    “Copyright grants the holder the EXCLUSIVE RIGHT TO REPRODUCE THE WORK.

    Bottom line: “a copy is a copy” and the originator/rights holder gets to decide how and when.

    One of my teachers got in big trouble for distributing a big packet of photocopied excerpts to students for a class.

  3. @PIMMN: a practice that used to be pretty routine when I was in school (pre-internet, e-readers and personal PCs)

    There are analogous situations with patents. Several years ago, many people were copying patents (patents have to disclose how things work and the disclosure is public info) for electronic paintball guns to “just make one for themselves” (usually modifying existing guns with adaptation).

    It was nearly impossible to get people to understand that “a copy is a copy” and that “for my own use” is a factor that doesn’t even enter the equation.

    IP law is arcane, whether it be copyright, trademark, patents, trade dress, trade secret and complicated by seemingly non-logical exceptions, specific laws written for all kinds of special cases.

    Video tape recorders got an exception for “time-shifting”; colorization got an exception (please, someone explain to me how “coloring” inside the lines confers the status of “new work” onto something….); electronically, there are all kinds of incidences in which the technology subverts things through the nature of its operation.

    Bottom line, there is “custom” and there is the law. What Standback is talking about doing is pretty much “custom” and hardly anyone would look askance at it.

  4. steve: It’s my understanding there are provisions for making copies or format changes if they’re exclusively for personal use. It’s sharing or distribution that’s illegal.

    I don’t have time right now to find an authoritative source (and copyright differs between countries), but Australia certainly has this provision, and I found a page from Stanford explaning that when researching something on the web, you’re alloeed to print out a copy for yourself, but NOT an extra copy for a friend…

  5. steve davidson:colorization got an exception (please, someone explain to me how “coloring” inside the lines confers the status of “new work” onto something….)

    Here’s an example from film: http://nofilmschool.com/2015/01/colorists-most-appreciated-people-post-production

    Having done it for comics, there’s even more involved as there’s no original starting point. Note Dave Stewart’s before and after images here: http://www.opb.org/artsandlife/article/8-time-eisner-winner-portland-colorist-dave-stewart/

  6. Thank you to everyone who answered my questions! You’ve all been a big help. 🙂

  7. One of my teachers got in big trouble for distributing a big packet of photocopied excerpts to students for a class.

    I’m not sure why she should have. If she photocopied excerpts and was using them for teaching, that would seem to fall under the permissible use provisions contained in 17 U.S.C. § 107.

  8. I did some temp work as a photocopier jobsbody in a secondary school (roughly equivalent to high school) once. If I recall correctly excerpts are okay, but they have to be under a certain number of pages per work. I think the scans_daily livejournal community worked under a similar principle for pimping comics, too.

  9. If I recall correctly excerpts are okay, but they have to be under a certain number of pages per work.

    I know that there is no hard and fast rule established under U.S. law, but generally 10% of a work is the generally accepted rule of thumb.

  10. I just had a quick look at the UK factsheets and up to 10% seems to be the custom, although not the law. The law is more wishy washy: its fine so long as it doesn’t undermine sales of teaching materials.

    We also definitely allow for format shifting and/or backup copies for personal use, so Standback’s advice is fine and usable for any worried British residents. 🙂

  11. JJ, Bruce, Steve – glad you got the right allusion.

    I’d hate for anyone to be thinking this instead…

  12. Steve Davidson asked how coloring something renders it a new work.

    Short answer: it’s in color now. That’s both different and new.

    Longer answer: color can affect depth, can affect focus, affect atmosphere, mood, texture, clarity, balance and more. A work in color that was in black-and-white is not the same as it was before.

  13. @Abi: Thanks for the correction. I think now that I was confusing you with a regular on rec.arts.sf.composition (back when rasfc had regulars) who would occasionally write about how it was to be Greek Orthodox. (I’d give her name but it has fallen out of my head.)

  14. Ms. Davies certainly has an interesting view of SF. Evidently, its not something to be enjoyed, but a political weapon that should be used to advance her political agenda. Its her kind of thinking that’s led many to support Sad Puppies.

  15. Evidently, its not something to be enjoyed, but a political weapon that should be used to advance her political agenda. It’s her kind of thinking that’s led many to support Sad Puppies.

    … and their political agenda.

    edit: but, of course, this is a fallacy. Sad Puppies is not about politics, it’s about cronyism, and being friends with Brad Torgersen. The only people on the Sad Puppies slate (outside of the Dramatic Presentations) were Brad’s friends.

  16. Wow, commenting on a month-old post? That’s some real bravery you ain’t got.

  17. Rev. Bob: “Wow, commenting on a month-old post? That’s some real bravery you ain’t got.”

    I can tell from the stats there are a handful of people every day who come and read through a bunch of roundup posts for the first time. They’re experiencing them as what they read today, not as something we read a month ago.

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