The Collar Out of Space 5/28

aka Twenty Thousand Comments About the Controversy by Jules Verne

Stampeding into this roundup are Kate Paulk, John Carlton, Nick Mamatas, Tom Knighton, Adam-Troy Castro, Brian Lowe, Max Florschutz, Rich Horton, Lou Antonelli , Amanda S. Green, Steve Davidson, William Reichard, embrodski, Lis Carey, Joe Sherry, Elisa Bergslien, Brian Niemeier, R.P.L. Johnson, Katya Czaja, Mary Robinette Kowal, “Orange Mike” Lowrey, Alexandra Erin and ULTRAGOTHA. (Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editors of the day Jim Henley and Soon Lee.)

Kate Paulk on Mad Genius Club

“So What Is Hugo-Worthy Anyway?” – May 28

So. What I look for when judging quality in narrative fiction (this mostly doesn’t apply to poetry and non-fiction and it sure as heck doesn’t apply to art) is this (in approximate order, even):

  1. Early immersion – I read a hell of a lot, and I find it very easy to become immersed in a piece. The earlier it drags me in, the better. If I don’t get the immersion, the interplay of the technical factors (prose quality, characterization, plotting, foreshadowing, etc.) isn’t handled well enough to do it. I’ve read pieces where I liked the premise and characters, but the craft wasn’t good enough to generate immersion. I’ve also read pieces that I hated but were well enough done to hold me despite that.
  2. Immersion is maintained until the last word – This is important: if something throws me out of immersion, it’s a serious technical flaw (because, yes, I’ve actually analyzed this. It could be a plot flaw that runs the piece into a bridge abutment. It could be something that breaks a character. It could also be prose so damned obtuse it sends me running for a dictionary – and I read Stephen Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant series without needing one…..

 

John Carlton on The Arts Mechanical

Eric Flint Owes Brad Torgeson And The Rest Of The Puppies A Huge Apology

This has gotten too long, Eric and I’m leave it with this.  WHAT WERE YOU THINKING!!! Before I knew what your relationship with Brad was, your posts were just more of the kind of crap we have been seeing all over.  Not only excusing the nuclear strike of hate, but seemingly justifying it.  Most of us thought you just weren’t aware of the whole story.  That was before how well you knew Brad.  Then you came into my thread [on Facebook] and acted like a perfect jackass. Beating up on me, well ok, I’m a big boy, and I’ve been beaten on by better than you.  Supposedly you are Brad’s friend, though. Yet you didn’t hesitate to demonstrate true douchery by taking a hit at him.  All the while he’s formatting that hit piece on himself for you before going on deployment.  A true friend indeed.

I’m sure you are aware of the Alinsky tactic of isolating the target and setting it up for destruction.  You also know that that’s exactly the time when friends need to stand together.  Yet there you were with the rest of the mob.  I’m asking myself why?  Couldn’t you just for once set aside your politics and support a friend who needs it? With all the voices turned  against them the puppies and Brad could have used another voice in support.  Even if you saw the screams of racism and misogyny you KNEW that it all had to be a  lie.  Yet you not did not call out the lies, you amplified them and did not speak out against them even when the CHORFs were attacking YOU.  And that’s why you owe Brad and the rest of the puppies a HUGE apology.

 

Nick Mamatas on Storify

“Engagement and Popularity in Science Fiction – Sad Puppies Are Sad”  – May 28

[Numbers 10 and 11 of 17 tweets]

 

 

 

Tom Knighton

“Sad Puppies, Noah Ward, and the abusive husband” – May 28

How, pray tell, did we screw any work, magazine or other entity over by nominating them?  First, that presumes that we not only sought to have everything on the slate nominated but also knew that the reaction would be to No Award everything we nominated.

Make no mistake, the decision to No Award the works on the Sad Puppy slate lies on you who have decided to judge a work by its fans.

Claiming that we “screwed over” a work because we nominated it is like an abusive husband smacking his wife because another guy said she was pretty, then turning to the other guy and saying, “See what you made me do?”

We didn’t make you do anything.  It is your decision to No Award works, not ours.  Just like the abusive husband trying to pin responsibility on the other man, you’re responsible for your own decisions.  We’re not forcing you to vote anything below No Award.  That’s been your call from the start.

Those of us on the Sad Puppy side just wanted to nominate things we like.  We didn’t like what had been winning, so we stepped up and nominated different stuff.  You act like we’ve committed an unspeakable sin because we didn’t do it the way you guys have been doing it.  We did it a different way.

 

Adam-Troy Castro

“Conniption Fodder” – May 28

[Ordinarily I avoid quoting entire posts – but this is, after all, only three sentences long…]

Any political differences I might have with the Puppies, any feelings of dismay I might have about the racism and homophobia and sheer unpleasantness displayed by some of them, are secondary.

What really infuriates me most is eighty years — eighty goddamned years — of SF writers and fans trying to persuade a skeptical and often contemptuous world that this is not a field of crap, jumped-up “Buck Rogers stuff,” as it’s so often been called, but a field of literature, material that was stylistically and thematically and conceptually ignored at the world’s tremendous loss, a fight that was led on the page by Campbell, for God’s sake, by Bradbury, for God’s sake, by Heinlein, for God’s sake, by Pohl for God’s sake, even from time to time by Harry Harrison for God’s sake, and in popular culture by Serling and Roddenberry for God’s sake, all that before we got to the likes of Vonnegut and Ellison and LeGuin and Silverberg and Russ and Malzberg and Tiptree and Brunner and Delany, with the occasional cruelly overlooked master like Kit Reed, and others, for God’s sake, all of them hammering hard at the limits of what this field was allowed to do, and what it was allowed to say, all of them breaking barriers and shattering ceilings, often in the face of tremendous opposition, while permitting the grand old adventure stuff to continue to flourish, until we have room for both Neal Stephenson and Neil Gaiman, for everything from Kim Stanley Robinson to China Mieville, for Nalo Hopkinson and N.K. Jemisin, all those good folks, after which we not only enter the zeitgeist but take it over, decades later, whereupon the Puppies come along and say, “NO! IT WAS NEVER ANY OF THAT GOOD STUFF! IT WAS ALWAYS *JUST* ROCKETSHIPS AND DRAGONS! IT WAS NEVER ANYTHING BUT PLAIN FICTION FOR PLAIN FOLKS! ANY PRETENSIONS OF ANYTHING ELSE ARE JUST AN ABERRATION OF THE LAST FEW YEARS!”

*That* is conniption fodder.

 

 

Max Florschutz on Unusual Things

“Battle of the Lone-Star Reviews” – May 28

A very vocal anti-puppy commented that simply because he was an outspoken anti-puppy, his books had been one-star bombed by the Sad Puppy supporters, and it was wrong. Except when the anti-puppies did it (yes, he actually claimed this in the same comment), because as long as they believed the were morally right, then they had a good reason to. Also, he dared more people to leave one star reviews on his book because all that proved was that they didn’t have a leg to—yeah, I started skimming it. It got ridiculous.

Point is, I checked him on Amazon, and indeed, he does have a very large number of unreasonable one-star reviews. He also had a few very well-thought out and explained one-star reviews to go along with them. I went along and did the helpful/not-helpful boxes as I browsed through them, because heck, even if the guy is loud and annoying to me, a scummy review is still a scummy review.

So, here’s what we have: individuals on both sides appear to be leaving one-star reviews for books of authors they don’t like. And at least one prominent individual on one of the sides has encouraged such actions as a “take that!” to which supporters on the other have responded in kind.

I don’t approve of either. In fact, if you’re encouraging this or engaging in it, you’re part of the problem.

 

Rich Horton on Black Gate

“A Modest Proposal to Improve the Hugos” – May 28

Though, I ask myself, why do I use the word “problem?” Surely it is a feature, not a bug, that there are so many stories published each year that are worthy of our attention? Indeed it is, but a result of that, I feel, is that if we want the Hugos to represent the very best stories of the year, we are failing, in the sense that it’s easier than before for a great story to slip under the radar.

The problem is exacerbated by the fact that for a story to reach the final ballot it must receive 5% of the nominating ballots. That requirement is obsolete in a situation where so many more stories are plausible contenders. (Three times in the past five years the Hugo Short Story ballot has had fewer than 5 entries due to this rule, and in 2013 there were only three stories on the final ballot.)

Is there a way to solve this? I have a very simple suggestion. Change the rules as follows: instead of choosing the top 5 nominated stories for the final ballot, choose the top 10. (However, any individual nominator would still only be allowed to nominate 5 items in a category.) Also, lower the percentage threshold of total nominating ballots to be eligible for the final ballot to 3% (or, possibly, eliminate the lower threshold altogether). I’m not sure this change is needed in all categories – in some categories (Dramatic Presentation, Long Form, for one example) it’s been my impression that getting to 10 reasonable nominees in a given year might be a stretch.

 

Lou Antonelli on This Way to Texas

“Kansas City chronicles – ConQuest 46” – May 28

One of the practical things I did while at the convention was upgrade my membership for SasQuan from supporting to attending. They offered a $20 discount if it was done at the con. I also had a nice chat with the people at the table. I told them of my belief, because of the mob mentality being fostered by some people against the Pupps, that they should just announce the winners and forget the dinner. But they are aware of the possibility of unpleasantness and plan to keep a tight rein on things. I wish them luck. I hope I get out of Spokane in one piece.

One person I ran into at the con said he has suggested that, to prevent catcalls, boos and jeering, that the Hugo committee announce in advance which categories will not have an award this year, and the ceremony only deal with the presentations to winners. That sounds like a good idea, also.

 

Amanda S. Green on Nocturnal Lives

“Five days and counting” – May 28

As for today, well, it is difficult to find a topic to blog that doesn’t take me back to Sad Puppies and the Hugos. That is especially true when one author keeps turning up on my Facebook feed with his daily anti-puppy rant. Now, I’m a big believer in everyone is entitled to their own opinions but it is hard to not respond, either on his page — which would get me banned — or here. That’s especially true because he consistently misconstrues what SP3 stands for.

You see, by nature I’m a battler. I’m a brawler and I fight dirty. But I have learned over the years that there are some fights that just aren’t worth fighting. This fight, with this particular author is one of them. He is never going to change his stance, no matter what sort of evidence, anecdotal and concrete alike, he is presented with. He has written the history of the industry in the way he wants it to be remembered and to hell with everyone else. Taking the battle to him would serve no purpose except to prove, in his point of view, he is right.

 

Obsah XB-1 – June 2015 issue

[A Czech-language SF magazine presents both sides of the controversy. Jason Sanford’s article, according to Google Translate, is titled “You maniacs ! You destroyed Hugo Award !” while Brad Torgersen’s is called “Sad Puppies critics strike back.” Each author also has a story in the issue.]

??????????????????

 

Steve Davidson on Amazing Stories

“On Politics and Fandom” – May 28

Yesterday I sent out a general press release concerning the appointment of Judges to the Gernsback Science Fiction Short Story Contest (you can see a post here).

I received an email from one of the usual press outlets I send such things to, asking to be removed from our PR mailing list.

The name of the venue is unimportant.

What is important is that the request for removal from the list represents fallout from the 2015 Hugo Kerfuffle, otherwise known as Puppygate.

 

William Reichard

“What hope gets you today (puppy sadness)” – May 28

But that’s what earnestness gets you. Earnestness is a crime in our world. Even daring to try to believe in something hopeful and un-ironic wins you scorn. It gets you lectured. And this is one of the nuances that makes me able to understand some of the “puppies” in the Hugo debate. I tend toward cynicism and irony myself, but when someone tells me I can’t be hopeful, that it’s bad taste to be hopeful, that earnestness is corny per se, my hackles are raised and I think, well I’m going to be hopeful, then. I don’t even think I’m uncritical of hopefulness itself–I could name plenty of ostensibly “hopeful” works that weren’t much more than jingoistic rose-colored welding glasses. But Interstellar wasn’t that, and it seems facile–a critical trope of its own–to say it was.

 

embrodski on Death Is Bad

“SF/F Review – The Three-Body Problem” – May 28

Puppy Note: This book was not on the Puppy Slate. When I thought to myself “How did this book make it onto the Hugo Ballot?” my first thought was the same uncharitable thought that the Puppies normally have. I thought “This is cultural inclusiveness being taken too far. The liberal thought-leaders want to show they are racially/culturally diverse, and they know that this book is CRAZY popular in China! For it to be so popular among so many readers, it must be fantastic! So let’s make sure it gets a nomination regardless of its merits.” Thus a type of affirmative action – signaling your awesome cultural acceptance and diversity at the cost of nominating a book that would have been much more deserving of the Hugo on its merits.

Except that the Puppy Leaders have come forward to say that they love this book, and would have put it on their slate if they’d known about it!! And I’m like… WHAT THE HELL is going on?? OK, we all already suspect that the Puppies don’t have great taste in SF lit, but if they think this book deserves a nomination on its merits, than perhaps *I* am being a giant, insensitive dick by assuming that only someone with a hidden liberal agenda would nominate this. Obviously people must actually like it. And if I am lumping in the Sad/Rabid Puppies with their hated “SJW” nemesis for picking crap for political reasons, maybe that’s a big flashing sign that says “There is no such thing as the political-reasons voter, and the Puppies were even more wrong that I thought from the very beginning.” Seriously, if I can’t tell you apart from your political rivals based on book selection, I think you’re grasping at straws.

Second, apparently Puppy-approved books can be nominated without the Puppy’s help. In fact, despite their efforts in this case. If the liberal conspiracy you claim is keeping good works down keeps nominating things you like (much like they nominated Correia and Torgerson in the past…) then it might not actually exist.

 

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“Saga (Collected Editions #3), by Brian K. Vaughan (writer), Fiona Staples (artist)” – May 28

In the end, though, I think too much of the background needed for the story to make sense is just not here. It’s likely in the two earlier volumes, but it’s not here in Volume 3, which is what I’m being asked to judge. I suspect I would like this a good deal better if I’d read the earlier volumes. As is, though? Art, very nice. Story, meh.

 

Joe Sherry on Adventures In Reading

“Thoughts on the Hugo Award Nominees: Graphic Story” – May 28

Time will bear this out, or not, but I think I will have had a much more difficult time ranking the nominees for Graphic Story than I will for any other Hugo category this year. There is just so much excellence here and the comics are all great in very different ways.  I will, however, hold to this ranking and this vote and live with it. But ask me tomorrow and I could reorder the whole thing and be equally comfortable with that order. I choose to draw the line today.

 

Elisa Bergslien

“More Hugo’s reading: Related Works … voted category most likely to make you completely bewildered” – May 28

My conclusion ?   I have no idea what the nominators were thinking with these selections. I just can’t find the redeeming value that would make any of this years items award winning.

 

Brian Niemeier on Superversive SF

“Transhuman and Subhuman Part VII: The Glory Game” – May 28

Today I’m reviewing John C. Wright’s review of Keith Laumer’s short novel The Glory Game.

“The novel is well crafted, concise, without a wasted scene or word,” says Wright, “and therefore has the clearest and most trenchant point of any tale I have ever read that is actually a tale and not a tract.”

Indeed, the book’s twist ending is incisively delivered in its last four words. Since The Glory Game was first published in 1973, this review will discuss the plot under the reasonable assumption that little risk remains of spoiling the final twist for long time sci-if fans. For those who are newly come to the fold, it’s recommended that you read the novel before continuing with this post.

Of the book’s characters, Wright notes that they are, “…rough sketches, painted in broad, energetic strokes, as befits an adventure yarn.” Yet the story’s driving conflict is moral; not military–the dilemma of a principled man told to violate his principles.

 

Adult Onset Atheist

“SNARL: Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form”  – May 28

I am not, in general, a big fan of TV. However, almost everything I watch, or want to watch, is on this list. My reviews for the Best Dramatic Presentation Short Form category will be short. They will be short enough that I can fit them all together on this one post. I present them in the same order in which they appear on the Hugo nominations list.

 

R.P.L. Johnson

“A Hugo Post – The Short Stories” – May 28

So what’s the final verdict? Totalled is the standout favourite for me so I’ll be voting as follows:

Totalled

A Single Samurai

Turncoat

No Award

 

Kristin on SciFi With A Dash of Paprika

“The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison” – May 28

Overall, a solid absorbing read with beautiful world building and solid character development.

 

Katya Czaja

“Hugo Award: Related Work” – May 28

Ranking Another race for the bottom. Difficult to figure out which was worse, the word-salad that was Transhuman and Subhuman or the not-a-book that was Wisdom From My Internet. In the end, Wright lost because he put words together in a form that can be described as essay and not just random, unrelated scribblings. Neither “The Hot Equation” nor “Why Science is Never Settled” were important enough to rise above No Award, but “The Hot Equation” came closest.

1) No Award

2) “The Hot Equation” by Ken Burnside

3) “Why Science is Never Settled” by Tedd Roberts

4) Letters from Garnder by Lou Antonelli

5) Transhuman and Subhuman by John C. Wright

6) Wisdom From My Internet by Michael Z. Williamson

 

Mary Robinette Kowal

“Talk with me about being a fan of science fiction and fantasy” – April 11

[I linked to Kowal’s post before, but John Hertz would be deeply gratified if I injected “Orange Mike” Lowrey’s comment and her reply into the ongoing discussion and I am happy to do so.]

Definition of Terms (You can tell that I was on the debate team in high school, yes?)

  • Fandom – The community of fans who regularly attend fan run conventions.

 

Michael J. “Orange Mike” Lowrey in a comment on “Talk with me about being a fan of science fiction and fantasy” – April 11

As a historian, I do want to clarify one thing. Historically, SF fandom was centered in the fanzines, constantly refreshed by names culled from the letter columns of the prozines. Conventions were rare and widely scattered, whereas a letter cost less than a dime to mail, and fanzines could easily be printed and mailed for much less than a quarter-dollar. If you lived in a big enough town, this was bolstered and enlarged by local SF clubs, at least one (LASFS) still extant today.

Starting in the 1960s, and more in the 1970s, conventions became more common, but these sprang from the local fandoms (both club and fanzine), and carried on the same conversation, with many of the same participants still around. This conversation in turn (for those unable or unwilling to attend conventions in the flesh, or just wanting more doses of that fannish pleasure) shifted gradually from paper fanzines to online venues, from Usenet and e-mail lists to LiveJournal (and individual blogs) to Facebook. But all these were carrying on the same conversation, and some of the participants remained the same or were the spiritual heirs of the same conversants. We are all the heirs of Bob Tucker, of Forrest J Ackerman, of Jan Howard Finder, of Rusty Hevelin and Lee Hoffman, of Robert Bloch and Morojo, of John Boardman and Harry Warner, Jr., of Terry Carr and Russ Chauvenet and Vin¢ Clarke and Bob Shaw and Jan Howard Finder and Ross Pavlac and Ken Moore and Dean Grennell, of Samuel Edward Konkin III and Steig Larsson (yes, he was One of Us), of Judith Merril and Sam Moskovitz and Ray Palmer, of Frederik Pohl, of Tom Reamy and Bill Rotsler, of Damon Knight and Julie Schwartz, of Donald A. Wollheim. Some of them became pros; some remained “only” fans. But every time you argue about Hugo selection, or use the term “space opera”, or deprecate the use of the horrible neologism “sci-fi” or otherwise celebrate this wonderful thing we enjoy, you ARE part of that conversation, whether you ever get to a con or not. And you are part of science fiction fandom.

 

Mary Robinette Kowal replying to comment – April 11

Oh! Excllent point about the fanzines. My fault for forgetting because I joined fandom after the internet had already started to reshape things.

 

Alexandra Erin on Blue Author Is About To Write

“Sad Puppies Review Books: GOODNIGHT MOON” – May 28

goodnight-moon-300x250

Reviewed by John Z. Upjohn, USMC (aspired)

I suppose this book is supposed to be clever in that literary way that SJWs are so fond of, but I found it to be a confusing and unholy mess. It was very hard to follow. The prose was far too clunky and the signaling was all wrong. Good stories use signaling to tell you what kind of story they are, so you will know how the story goes and not be thrown out of it when something happens that you do not expect.

 

ULTRAGOTHA in a comment on File 770

Hwaet! The Great-Danes’ want glory through dubious achievements
The god-voice former infamy we have heard of,
How puppies displayed then their prowess-in-prose.
Theodore, their mighty king, in honor of whom they are often called Teddys.

From many a people their chrome-rockets tore.
Since first they found themselves rocketless and wretched,
The puppies had sadness: no comfort they got for it,
Waxed ’neath the woe, word-honor hungered for
Till all the fans o’er sea were compelled to
Bow to their bidding and bring them their nominations:

482 thoughts on “The Collar Out of Space 5/28

  1. Like Tomas, I must flounce now (sleepy!), but before I go, a couple further thoughts.

    1. This is not the first time a Puppy, Puppy-symp, or Pup-curious commenter has tossed around figures for a recent period as if they are significant in themselves, with no reference to the same figures for comparable periods.

    2. I did the full analysis of the 15-year trend of novelists getting 4+ nominees because 4 was the cutoff Andrew chose. He didn’t explain why 4, and you could in principle re-do the analysis with cutoffs at 3 or 5 nominations and perhaps we would see different patterns.

    3. But that’s a problem. It’s always tempting to go fishing around until you find a pattern that either supports your pre-conceived theory or, assuming you don’t have one, just looks significant at all. A basic principle of data analysis is don’t do that. It’s fallacious to keep slicing the data until you see something that “looks interesting”.

    4. For that reason, I stuck with Andrew’s cutoff of 4 even though there’s no obvious reason to make 4 the cutoff. Cycling through the other possibilities would have even less justification than using his arbitrary choice.

    Finally, to anyone who really wants to know “But what does 3 look like? What does 5 look like? Or 6?” Do your own damn work.

  2. Andrew P:

    They didn’t rig the ballot, they gamed the system. Legally. People didn’t think it could be done, scoffed and dismissed them and their efforts, and here we are.

    Which people? Where? It’s been known how to game the system since 1985, if not before. It’s just that nobody before now had chosen to be what Heinlein called “the skunk at the picnic” by legally gaming the system. You remember the quote, right? From Have Spacesuit, Will Travel?

    I don’t buy the left wing cabal argument. I do find it interesting that some authors have never been nominated before. I’ve had some people tell me the reason is because they are “too commercial”, and “Don’t write the types of stories that deserve Hugos.” I think that attitude is why Toni Weisskopf wasn’t nominated until SP2. I’d like to think her inclusion this year is a result of more thn just the SP crowd, that remains to be seen.

    I do think the Hugo voters, the long time ones, have become too…insular…in their reading. They, like any other reader, have their favorites, and nominate what they know. Again, and again, and again. Frank Wu mentioned his category ossifying in his 2008 letter, and I think that ossification has spread to other categories in varying strength, novel included. And given the low voter turnout the past years, it didn’t take a lot for the known to get nominated, repeatedly.

    So the puppies felt the best way to spread the Hugo nominations around to exciting new and different people who had been overlooked by those insular Hugo award nominators was to give Resnick, who already had 36, count ’em, 36 Hugo nominations, another one? And to give Wright 5 nominations, rather than spreading them out to more people? Does this strategy for increasing the number of people nominated for Hugos work for you? Because, frankly, it makes no sense at all to me.

  3. @Jim Henley
    Thank you for that. I don’t understand why you didn’t do the analysis for 3+ and 2+ as well. From what I understand, that’s just another line below the one you already have for 4+ on the Master Pivot and Chart sheet. Just exchange the >3 in the formular for >2 and >=2.
    This is useful, contrary to your assertion on data dredging – because if you can find the same trend/effect/regressors from multiple angles and subsets the chances increase that there really is a something there.* In the case of your data, _despite_ essentially the same data going into the >3 and the >2 comparison (for the gallery: any author with 4 or mor enominations must have 3 or more as well) the jump is not there in the >2 data.
    Which leads _me_ to conclude, that there’s no need for a story here.

    Big UQ fan back in the day (gosh, has it been 10 years?) btw. Glad you’re still around.

    * Porived you don’t fool yourself by essentially repeating the analyis and treating it as confirmation. IOW you have to know what you’re doing.

  4. Aaron, thanks. My numbers match yours for everyone but Effinger.

    You are correct. I transposed a column and attributed some nominations to Effinger that should have gone to another author.

  5. @curious reader You mentioned the possibility that puppies may tend not to like critical analysis, and my sense is that may be a significant culture difference (kind of interesting to think about Hofstede here: http://www.andrews.edu/~tidwell/bsad560/Hofstede.html ). It’s worth noting, I think, that they are no less aware in many ways of conventionality since they have to be in order to follow it (where they do), but that the work just can’t be “marked” as meta or whatever if it’s going to fit the aesthetic (which isn’t to say their aesthetic is entirely self-consistent, but whose is?). It’s also early days for them; they’ve never really been called to do what they’re doing before. FWIW, I’ve been following with amusement a back-and-forth comment thread in Mad Genius Club about whether the Star Trek reboot is any good. They are not incapable of analysis (and their own internal arguments will flow like the spice–count on it); they just don’t prefer it, as far as I can see, at least not called such. Personally, I can happily read a whole book about a single movie teasing out its meanings and connections to other works, its cultural significance, its philosophy. But at the same time, I do enjoy being entertained, so I have to say I have some common ground with them. I tend to pick things apart, but I also sometimes want to get swept up.

    It’s probably worth noting too that their formulation of their aesthetic is never going to contain the statement “we don’t like critical analysis,” because that would be an example of critical analysis.

    @JJ Honestly, if I’ve been hostile, I apologize. It’s not my intention. I’ll watch my tone more carefully. Even though it may be hard to believe, I do think about the things you say.

    And to everybody else: my flouncing yesterday was honestly accidental. I thought I was saying BRB so that no one would think I was flouncing (I realized that last time I kept arguing too long and I wanted to be clear I hoped I wasn’t doing that this time). If there’s anybody in this besides Brian who more obviously isn’t trying to drop things and run, I’m not sure whom it would be. But duly noted: I won’t do that again. If I leave, no one shall know.

    This is a tough conversation for everyone. I’ve been sticking it out because I care and because I think I have something to offer. But I also don’t want to just piss people off: if I did, I’d go join the people who are obviously so good at it. So I’ll try to be quiet. Not because I’m trying to dodge anything, but because I am actually trying to learn something here. I hope that is respectable.

  6. Cally on May 30, 2015 at 1:37 am said:
    …So the puppies felt the best way to spread the Hugo nominations around to exciting new and different people who had been overlooked by those insular Hugo award nominators was to give Resnick, who already had 36, count ‘em, 36 Hugo nominations, another one? And to give Wright 5 nominations, rather than spreading them out to more people? …

    Actually Wright got 6 nominations, but one was later disqualified for having missed the publication date.

  7. Will:

    It’s probably worth noting too that their formulation of their aesthetic is never going to contain the statement “we don’t like critical analysis,” because that would be an example of critical analysis.

    OK, I LOL’d. It’s true, too!

  8. Will: Honestly, if I’ve been hostile, I apologize. It’s not my intention. I’ll watch my tone more carefully. Even though it may be hard to believe, I do think about the things you say.

    Okay, if that’s true, then I’m sure you will be able to understand how the comment you just made here was not only hostile, but that it was a blatant, bad-faith misrepresentation of things that the people here have said, and utterly untrue.

    Will: The Hugos have nothing to do with larger trends. Nothing to do with society. They are only objectively what is “good” by the standards defined by… well, by the standards everyone knows. Well, everyone smart knows. The Hugos never change. The Hugos are decided by individuals who always magically come to the one correct answer as a group that doesn’t believe anything other than “Good Writing” as defined by… well, but the standards Everyone knows. Anyone who can’t see it is just dumb.

    I don’t think that this was an “accidental” post. I don’t think that you’re that dumb, Will. Nor was your “tone” misunderstood by me. I think that you were perfectly well aware of what you were posting, when you posted this.

  9. @RedWombat

    …I wish they’d picked Paulk with colored smoke. That would’ve been AWESOME.

    Dude, you just drop a straight line there, and no-one here picks it up. . .

    Habemus PUPam!

  10. As half of a household where one person likes analysis and the other person doesn’t I can testify that a conflict in enjoyment styles that can cause friction. It might explain why few of them seem to get along well in the usual fannish spaces, which tend to be on the analytical end of the spectrum.

    Demanding that any Worldcon and particularly the Hugos change to suit their entertainment styles and preferences is the height of arrogance, though, regardless how many real and genuine hurt feelings its based in.

  11. Peace Is My Middle Name: Oh, right, the Pups did try to get Wright 6 nominations this time, in the name of diversifying the Hugos, not 5. I’d forgotten. Well, that makes it all better then! Yay for diversity! Such a pity he didn’t write five novels last year, and five novellas, and so on. It could have been an All Wright Ballot, and just THINK of how wonderfully diverse THAT would have been!

  12. @mk41: Thanks much for the kind words! I think I stopped blogging regularly around 2009, so meeting someone whose happy memory of it goes back at least that far is a treat.

    I was thinking about this:

    In the case of your data, _despite_ essentially the same data going into the >3 and the >2 comparison (for the gallery: any author with 4 or mor enominations must have 3 or more as well) the jump is not there in the >2 data.

    and it occurred to me that maybe the least arbitrary cutoff is: 1! Just count the number of unique names in each period. If we had perfect novelty, there would be about 75. (A couple years show only 4 nominees in the results.) Total stasis would show only 5 names. We actually see movement within a much smaller band than 5-75.

    The linear trend is down about 15% over 43 overlapping periods covering 15 years. Logarithmic and power-law trendlines get pretty flat after the 70s. If I eyeball it, I can sorta see between 2 and 4 breakpoints. But to the extent there’s movement, it starts pretty far back and it doesn’t ultimately progress very far. And whether it’s an anomaly or not, the most recent periods are if anything slightly up.

    Which leads me to agree with you, still, that there’s no need for a story here.

  13. Going back a bit, the thing that strikes me about Torgersen and the Tiara is that he feels he needs an excuse to decline the tiara, assuming he wins. I’m pretty sure that if he had won, and politely declined to wear it, either with the polite comment, “I’m sorry, but it would make me feel uncomfortable,” or, you know, without an explanation, just a polite, “I would really prefer not to,” there would have been no issue. Oh, people might have made hay, people do. But they’d have made neither more nor less hay than if he’d done it because he was in uniform. Probably, in fact, a lot less. But he doesn’t feel that he’s entitled to have an opinion that he can’t back up with someone else’s authority. Which is a weirdly insecure position, in my opinion.

  14. PIMMN : I agree. None of Scalzi’s novels have read to me like mercenary haring after market share.

    Consider – The Old Man’s War series is milsf which:

    i, Starts off with old people as protagonists
    ii, Puts humanity in a position where it is essentially the orc hordes spilling out aggressively on a wider universe AND
    iii, Evolves to critique that and have the hero lead a largely non-violent response which cripples humanities outward drive.

    That’s risky given that the main appeal might have been to the MilSf crowd.

  15. CPaca on May 30, 2015 at 2:44 pm said:
    PIMMN : I agree. None of Scalzi’s novels have read to me like mercenary haring after market share.

    Consider – The Old Man’s War series is milsf which:

    i, Starts off with old people as protagonists
    ii, Puts humanity in a position where it is essentially the orc hordes spilling out aggressively on a wider universe AND
    iii, Evolves to critique that and have the hero lead a largely non-violent response which cripples humanities outward drive.

    That’s risky given that the main appeal might have been to the MilSf crowd.

    Thanks, but the comment I made that you’re replying to was in the 5/29 post, “The Bark Between the Stars,” not this one ( http://file770.com/?p=22807&cpage=5#comment-272187 )

    People might get confused if they try to go find my comment in this thread.

  16. “There’s a big difference between “People didn’t think it could be done” and “No one was enough of an asshole to exploit a known weakness.””

    Sort of like all those assholes who got the entire Wheel of Time series nominated using the known weakness in the rules?

    Here’s the thing: If its a known weakness, FIX IT before before someone comes along and exploits it. If your brakes are squealing everytime you hit the pedal, and it’s taking a longer distance to come to a stop, the time to fix them is not after your rear end someone.

    Honestly, there were assholes in Sci-Fi before SP, and if I was elbows deep into the conspiracy theories as some of you, I’d swear you were upset that your no longer the biggest assholes in Sci Fi because this years noms took that distinction away from you.

    Jim,
    I only went back 15 years because 2000 was an easy cut off point. The McDonald number was probably me fat fingering a key.

    As for era comparisons, I’m not sure how valid they are, because the eras themselves are so vastly different competition wise. An author nominated in say, 1965, was in a completely different publishing/reading/consumer environment than in 2015. Fewer books being published, fewer authors writing those books, fewer publishers, less competition. After 2000, with the rapid growth of websites, ebooks and indy publishing, that’s no longer the case. The pool is a lot larger, and a lot more diverse in terms of genre/sub genre, there are more people participating, there should be greater competition, yet the same names keep cropping up again and again.
    The data on the Hugo website is incomplete, but going back to 2005, there is some.
    2005, 424 ballots nominated 230 titles
    2006, 430 ballot nominated 232 titles
    2007, no numbers on the pdf, unless I was looking in the wrong place.
    2008, just number of ballot info, 483
    2009, 639 ballots, 335 titles.
    2010, 864 ballots
    2011, 833 ballots
    2012, 958 ballots
    2013, 1113 ballots.

    If I’m counting right, since 2000, there have been 46 authors nominated for 75 slots. Of those 46 authors, 20 have more than one nomination. Now, as the pool grows, and the number of participants grows, shouldn’t there be more authors nominated as well?

    I think it goes back to what I mentioned before, the small group of nominators was too insular in what they read and as a result, who they nominated. When you look at some of the smaller categories, this insularity is more pronounced. Best Pro Artist and best editors are some good examples of this IMO. And honestly, is It makes more sense then some cabal of SJW’s somehow manipulating things behind the scenes. Heck, I’m guilty of such reading habits myself, I suspect we all are to one extent or another.

    Matt Y,
    Ballot wise, Ghost Story is the one that comes closest to having me gasping. With the exception of the Anderson book, and having not read Ancillary yet, the others are solid stories. Solid books have won past hugos, and I wouldn’t be upset if Goblin Emperor or TBP wins, having read other people reviews of the books, I can see why they like it. I just don’t feel the same way about them that they do. I could not finish the Anderson book. I like some of his earlier stuff, but this one….bleh.

    Cally,

    Wrights noms are more the result of Beales Rapid Puppies efforts. I don’t have a problem with the Resnick nom, but who do you think should be there if not Resnick?

  17. Andrew P: Here’s the thing: If its a known weakness, FIX IT before before someone comes along and exploits it.

    Translation: Hey, if Worldcon fans didn’t want the Puppies to game the Hugo nominations, they shouldn’t have gone out wearing such a short skirt and a low cleavage,

    Andrew P: Honestly, there were assholes in Sci-Fi before SP

    Translation: Since other assholes exist, it’s perfectly acceptable for the Puppies to behave like assholes, too.

    Sir, you have a distinct problem there with your logic failing you. Some courses in logical reasoning might help you sort that out.

  18. I see. You don’t have a problem with the Resick nom giving him a total of 37 noms, even though you DO have a problem with various OTHER people getting 4 or 5 noms in the past ten or twenty years, because that indicates that people are just voting for the same old things? You think Resnick was genuinely worthy of his 37th nom, but you think that few or none of the people who got 4 or 5 noms were worthy of those? You nominated Resnick honestly thinking he was one of the best this year, but you think that the people who nominated, say, Bujold in the past few years didn’t think her work was one of the best of that year? Or, given that they were nominating honestly, and did think that it was one of the best of that year, they should have failed to nominate her anyway, because she had too many Hugo noms, even though you nominated Resnick when he had more?

    Your logic makes no sense to me.

  19. Given that Resnick’s magazine, GALAXY’S EDGE, has a paid paper circulation somewhere in the low three-digits, the real argument has to be made by his supporters: how many of the Puppies who voted for him even read an issue of GALAXY’S EDGE published in 2014?

  20. @AndrewP
    It does not follow that the nominations should be spread out more if the field 8or the publishing venues) expands. If quality is a pyramid you need to increase the base _a lot_ before this is felt at the top and even then it will only result in a few more Hugo worthy authors/works.
    Alternatively, to the extent that nerdy stuff can be said to have gone mainstream you can expect to see lots more nerdy stuff that may even be quite popular, but isn’t especially good. The SF equivalent of romance novels. That would have next to no effect on the best in the field.

  21. mk41: No need to use such a broad brush about “romance novels”, there. While I’m personally not much of a romance novel reader, they have their good, and even brilliant, novels on that side of the genre fence, too. Remember that SF has traditionally been tarred with much the same brush.

  22. @Cally
    I couldn’t think of anything better and have no doubt there is brilliance to be found in that genre.
    But if I had to, and if it hadn’t been just a throwaway remark to add some colour which I don’t want to defend, I believe one _could_ argue that romance novels are more explicitly escapist fun than SF ever was.

  23. Cally on May 31, 2015 at 8:19 am said:

    mk41: No need to use such a broad brush about “romance novels”, there. While I’m personally not much of a romance novel reader, they have their good, and even brilliant, novels on that side of the genre fence, too. Remember that SF has traditionally been tarred with much the same brush.

    Yep. And every unfamiliar genre or subgenre always has lots more creativity and originality than one expects.

  24. JJ,

    As I’ve been following these threads for awhile, I wasn’t quite sure if you were an asshole, or an idiot.

    Your response to my last post has answered that question. Thanks.

  25. Cally,

    I didn’t nominate Resnick, I said I didn’t have an issue with it. That’s because I don’t read a lot of short fiction, the only time I do read it is around the Hugos.
    But the fact Resnick has been nominated every year since 1989 tells me that he was probably going to be on the ballot this year for something he did, and it probably wasn’t the SP/RP crowd that put him there, and if anything his being on the ballot again reinforces my point about people voting what they know.

    MK41,
    “It does not follow that the nominations should be spread out more if the field
    (or the publishing venues) expands.”

    The voting base would have to expand as well, and I think its safe to say the percentage of voters increasing is not the same as the percentage of available works being out there. Increase the voting pool, maybe some of those works do get noticed more, and start winning Hugos.

  26. Andrew Pears: I didn’t nominate Resnick, I said I didn’t have an issue with it. That’s because I don’t read a lot of short fiction, the only time I do read it is around the Hugos.
    But the fact Resnick has been nominated every year since 1989 tells me that he was probably going to be on the ballot this year for something he did, and it probably wasn’t the SP/RP crowd that put him there, and if anything his being on the ballot again reinforces my point about people voting what they know.

    So you’ve got a problem with people just voting what they know because it doesn’t spread the nominations around, but you don’t have a problem with Resnick being on the ballot for the 37th time, but people probably voted for Resnick because they voted what they know, though you aren’t personally aware of him doing anything at all last year? Or Resnick deserving to be on the ballot for “something he did” means that Bujold or Grant or Stross (whose total Hugo nominations between them don’t add up to Resnick’s) didn’t deserve to be on the ballot in past years for “something [they] did”? Seriously, your argument is incoherent.

  27. Andrew P: JJ, As I’ve been following these threads for awhile, I wasn’t quite sure if you were an asshole, or an idiot. Your response to my last post has answered that question. Thanks.

    In other words, my last response hit the nail on the head, and since you can’t come up with a rational rejoinder, all you can manage is an insult.

    Not a problem. This is a common response when people have it pointed out to them that their “logic” is utterly flawed.

  28. Andrew P at 5:09 pm:
    “Now, as the pool grows, and the number of participants grows, shouldn’t there be more authors nominated as well?”

    Not necessarily so because writers are not fungible, and neither are their stories. This sort of analysis is of limited value because we also need to look at what didn’t get nominated. And when you get people saying “I can’t believe X didn’t get nominated this year!”, people start to pay attention to X, especially if X keeps producing excellent work in subsequent years. Writers can hit a creative patch that results in them getting nominated regularly, and when I look at the multiply nominated writers that I’ve read, they were generally not out of place as finalists.

    But really, your analysis doesn’t actually answer the question you pose. For that you’d want to look at how many writers get nominated for the first time in a given year. That would be a better measure of “new blood”.

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