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:


A Single Samurai


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


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. I like almost everything CJ Cherryh has done, particularly her Merchanter’s books (I feel like that universe has an official name I’ve forgotten — you know, it’s the one anchored by Downbelow Station: Merchanter, Alliance, and Union and contains the prequels Heavy Time and Hellburner, which got mentioned here a few posts back). I also enjoyed the Morgaine Saga and I read the first …uh…seven or so? of the Foreigner series but at some point she started writing them faster than I was reading them so I think I’m about three books behind at the moment.

    And I think I was one of very few people who really liked her two “Rider at the Gate” books (Rider at the Gate/Cloud’s Rider) and wish she’d continued that series. I loved the contrast between her Nighthorses and Misty Lackey’s Companions in her Valdemar fantasies. I actually asked Carolyn at a con if she had intended the Rider books as a sort of antimatter to the Companions and she swore they weren’t, but I still have my doubts.

  2. I always had the issue with CJ Cherryh of my book supply being random books from the library, so I’d come into them out of order. Some of them work better than others when read without context from previous related works. Heavy Time was my standout favourite, but I should probably go back and re-read them.

  3. Gully

    I’m glad that you enjoy the Foreigner series; I’d love to see the Hugos expanded to include series because it’s an obvious candidate. Cherryh is a superstar; ‘Downbelow Station’ remains one of my favourite books, and it was groundbreaking. Initially she thought that there was just no way to write a book which depended on bringing together a number of different factions divided by time and space to the crunch point without terminally confusing the reader; discussions with her editor Betsy Wolheim came up with the answer. Of course since then loads of writers use the same technique, but she was the first.

    You mentioned her anthropology skills; Cherryh does aliens like no other writer, which is one of the reasons she’s not popular in Puppydum. In their worldview humans are supposed to take over the Universe because reasons; in her Chanur series, for example, we see excellent reasons why a variety of alien species want absolutely nothing to do with humans. I’m not explaining what they are because I don’t want to spoil that series for you.

    One more thing; she writes as CJ Cherryh because a woman’s name would have trashed her sales. Even that wasn’t enough; long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I used to comment on Usenet: Rec Arts SF Written. Her books were attacked there because obviously women can’t write MiLSF, frequently by people who hadn’t read her books. Indeed, she was denounced for the sin of dispensing with the difference between officers and enlisted ranks. The only problem with this is it isn’t true, and at the speed of Internet, came the response:

    ‘Tell that to Staff Sergeant Bet Yeager’

    Bet Yeager was, of course, a Marine, and I really wish that I’d hit my reply button faster; tell it to the Marines being an iconic statement.

    So, I’ve deviated a bit from your original comment but I have to say that I envy you the chance to explore her worlds for the first time. This is probably not what Puppydum had in mind, since they appear to be the spiritual heirs of those who were utterly convinced of her dreadful failure without having to read the book first…

  4. Funny thing is, I am generally series-averse. I always assume it’s just milking it. Foreigner is that, to some extent I think, but I buy em in hardcover when released.

    The only other series of books I’ve been on board for (as opposed to generally linked books, like Bas-Lag) have been the Aubrey-Maturin books.

    Down below has been on my radar, I’ll have to take the plunge soon.

  5. Rev:
    >> There is one significant problem with the idea of “helping LibertyCon” in this respect: size.>>

    I expect I could come up with other ways a Puppy-driven award could be launched in a positive way, but I really don’t have the interest in fine-tuning a pitch that’s never going to happen. I’m sure there are other venues, other mechanisms.

    >> Um, I’m not Mike. :)>>

    You are now, man. You’ve been Miked, and once someone gets Miked, they can’t just shrug it off.

    How does “Rev. Bob-Mike” sound?

  6. Cherryh is insanely prolific, too. I recently finished the first Foreigner book… which means I have five Cherryh books down, 46 to go. Her worldbuilding is top-notch, though.

  7. MickyFinn

    ‘Hellburner is the sequel to Heavy time; if you can obtain it I think you’d very much enjoy it.

    None of the characters has forgotten the sacrifice made for them. We see them moving on, trying to live up to his ideals, make something right…


  8. Thanks to everyone for correcting my preconceptions about MilSF. I think Peace is my Middle Name’s point that there’s always more originality and innovation in an unfamiliar genre than you think is key.

  9. @RedWombat:

    I support the right of people to dislike the work of just about any author they can name, but Billy Collins!?

    If my second wasn’t an elderly beagle, he’d call upon yours for this outrage.

    Man, people here love Billy Collins! I won’t try to talk everyone out of it. I’d gloss my personal dislike this way: I read Nick Mamatas as arguing in some comments here that Hugo awards tend to go to works which flatter fandom in some way. (His word is “nostalgic”. I would argue that nostalgic work praises you for having liked that thing.) To me, Collins writes poems that flatter contemporary poetry readers’ (and writers – that Venn diagram is pretty darn round) sense of themselves. I find his work cloying.

    FWIW, my tastes range from Emily Grosholz to Jack Gilbert. But my campaign to make everyone hate Billy Collins as much as I do stops here. 🙂

  10. Heavy Time and Hellburner are both available in ebook format directly from Cherryh’s website ( Well worth checking out. (And I really wish more of her back catalog, Alliance/Union in particular, was available electronically.)

  11. “Also, anyone who thinks standards in art are subjective is invited to find a couple dozen people familiar with Jesus Christ who can’t tell the difference in quality between the painting on the left and the one on the right”

    And yet the one on the right has been a godsend (no pun intended) for the town of Borja:

    Considering the original was a insipid, unoriginal and uninspiring characterisation, utterly and justly ignored by just about everyone, even the faithful, and the restoration in all its whacky glory has brought money, visitors and fame to the church and town, how do you judge ‘quality’?

    And I might remind you that Peter Paul Rubens was reviled by William Blake, Ingres, Henry James and others as a vulgar incompetent. One man’s trash is another’s treasure, yadda yadda.

  12. ” I first heard Puppyville called Poopyville by a red-diapered SJW named Hickey Dewey in the Con Suite at Disclave. He also called his butt a boot. I didn’t think anything of what he had done to the movement’s name. Later I heard fans who could manage their u’s give it the same pronunciation. I still didn’t see anything in it but the meaningless sort of humor that makes ‘richardsnary’ the nerds’ word for dictionary. A few years later I read the 2015 Hugo nominations and learned better.”

    — From Red Barkfest

  13. Jim Henley: And if Billy Collins ever writes a MilSF novel, look out!

  14. We need a FAQ. So many “talking points” have already been asked and answered it’s time to number them.

    (All quotes faux)

    “So are you that what the puppies did was against the rules?”

    See Number 14 in the FAQ. Shorter answer – NO.

    “Yada yada Dinosaur yada yada,,.”

    Number 27!!!

    On another note. I started re-reading K.M. O’Donnell’s (Malzberg) Gather in the Hall of the Planets today.

    It’s a broad commentary on science fiction, fandom, a mystery (as well as Malzber’s authorial angst) that takes place at an alternate timeline Worldcon.

    Two things. In light of puppygate, it is doubly hilarious, doubly cynical and doubly biting. If you have a copy, go see what I mean.

    And, he’s got his own alternate reality Hugos. They’re called the Boilerplate Awards. Maybe, if Libertycon asks him nicely, Barry will let them use the name for their proposed awards.

  15. Or is there more originality in speculative content common to the subgenre than I credit it for?

    It depends on which bit of the subgenre you’re dealing with. There’s MilSF and then there’s stories that follows the Starship Troopers plot structure of “introduction to the setting and training in a military force -> first deployment -> promotions and progression of the war -> conclusion or climax of protagonist’s war”, the latter is often a bit more clever because the structure gives writers something to build off of AND the structure gives a smart writer a lot of opportunities to build the world while saying something about warfare as a whole rather than just focusing on what brand of gun people might use in the future.

    (and in case anyone finds that statement dubious, my examples of the Starship Troopers patterned kind of MilSF done well would be the third section of Alan Moore’s The Ballad of Halo Jones comics, Iain M. Banks’ Use of Weapons*, Haldeman’s Forever War, and obviously Heinlein’s Starship Troopers)

    * yes, it does follow the same rough plot arc as Starship Troopers, and not once, but twice – each of the two temporalities the narrative hops between follows Zakalwe experiencing that progression, once on his homeworld and again through Special Circumstances and The Culture

  16. It occurs to me I’ve now racked up a lot of contributing-editor credits for this series. And yet I still don’t have a Hugo. Clearly there can only be one explanation for this.

  17. Jim Henley, I got home too late to add anything new to the MilSF conversation. But if you have not yet read Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan series, get ye to a bookshop now. She is one damned good writer and that is one of the best SF series out there and I envy the crap out of you going into them cold.

    Have fun!

  18. Oh, if your library or a friend has a hard copy of Cryoburn, all Bujold’s books up to then except Memory are on a CD in the back if you’d like to sample them.

    If you like her half as much as I do, you’ll go out and buy them anyway. She’s one of two authors whose books I own in both e- and paper.

  19. Meredith: I appreciate both Will and Brian Z. for their contributions. They’re so much nicer to talk to than the die-hard Puppies, but still present questions and opinions that force the rest of us to clearly articulate the whys and wherefores of our positions.

    Except when they get up on their Puppy soapboxes and start spouting demonstrably false Puppy Talking Points.

    There is nothing about this post which would characterize it as being made in good faith. It is snide, and nasty, and utterly misrepresentative of what anyone here has posted. Here Will is pretending to quote what non-Puppies are saying.

    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 personally do not characterize someone who posts things like this as “nice to talk to”.

    Will has never gone back to his lengthy, self-pitying rant blog post about how he was supposedly kicked out of File770 and the SFF commmunity and corrected the blatant misrepresentations he made there, nor has he added links to what actually happened.

    Given that fact, and the fact that he continues to behave in bad faith — such as just now making the hostile, nasty comment I quoted above — the amount of charitable benefit-of-the-doubt I am able to give Will right now is, understandably, extremely low.

  20. “Isn’t that what we had before? By rigging the ballot, the Puppies have kicked that particular justification entirely off the field and over the foul line.”

    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.

    ” Do you think ‘individual votes’ are what the Puppies are achieving here? ”

    I voted as an individual. Some of the stuff I nominated was on the SP slate, some of it wasn’t. I found Totaled thru the SP slate, and Annie Bellet’s “Goodnight Stars” as well. I’ve been a fan of Marko Kloos since his first book, and I would have put his second one up for nomination with or without the SP slate. I read and saw everything I nominated. In the SP crowd, that behavior doesn’t make me an exception or outlier.

    “Or do you actually believe in the left-wing cabal, and agree with their argument that their voices could be heard only by gaming their way to the Hugos?”

    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.

    For example, I love Bujold and her Vorkosigan books, but Cryoburn was not the Vor Game, and Captain Vorpatrils Alliance was not Barrayar. And as much as I love Mieville, Iron Council was not his best work in that series, by longshot IMO.

    Sure, a new voice comes along every once and awhile with something that everyone notices (Susanna Clark, Paolo Bacigalupi, Ann Leckie), but a casual observer would see what was old is new again. Just look at the authors nominated for best novel since 2000.
    Stross, 7 times
    Mieville, 5 times
    McDonald, 4 times
    Scalzi, 4 times
    Bujold, 5 times
    Grant, 4 times
    Wilson, 4 times
    Sawyer, 5 times

    They are all talented writers, but has everything they have been nominated for since 2000 the type of SF/F that leaves you gasping?

    Fans see their favorite authors either never nominated, or only nominated once. Modesitt, Butcher, Anderson, Pratchett, Novik, James S A Corey, Iain Banks…its a long list, they wonder why. They see a way to get what they like nominated, they take it, and a lot more casual fans are getting involved as a result.

    SF has a broad appeal, after all 578 different books were nominated for best novel this year alone, and it’s only going to get more crowded online and indy publishing and the voter pool grows.

  21. Andrew P on May 29, 2015 at 7:26 pm said:

    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.

    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.”

  22. It was really obvious it could be done, nobody else had actually gone ahead and done it though. I wonder why. Maybe it’s because alienating the voters by doing so is a bad way to win a popularly-voted award?

  23. 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.”

    Oh, please just stop with the “we’re SO clever” stuff. SFF fans have known for decades that the Hugo nomination process could be gamed in this way. It’s just that no one wanted to be that asshole until the Puppies came along and were happy to take up the role.

    The “scoffing” that was done? That was about the quality of the works the Puppies had put on their slates. And it’s been pretty well justified at this point, based on all of the reasoned analysis of those works which has been posted.

  24. @May Tree – LOVED Rider at the Gate and sequel, very sad she didn’t do more. I love a telepathic animal book as much as the next person, but damn those were good deconstructions of the whole genre.

  25. Andrew P: Just look at the authors nominated for best novel since 2000.
    Stross, 7 times
    Mieville, 5 times
    McDonald, 4 times
    Scalzi, 4 times
    Bujold, 5 times
    Grant, 4 times
    Wilson, 4 times
    Sawyer, 5 times

    They are all talented writers, but has everything they have been nominated for since 2000 the type of SF/F that leaves you gasping?

    I’ve read three of Robert Charles Wilson’s nominees and I’m working on a third (Blind Lake, and yes, he really is that good every single time. As are Scalzi, Stross, and Bujold.

    Also, you mention Modesitt. He published his first novel in 1982, and since then he has published 65 more. Out of those, not only has he never been nominated for a Hugo, he’s never been nominated for any awards. He’s never even been ranked in the Locus awards. I look at that, and I think that maybe, this just might reflect on the quality of his writing. I haven’t read any of his stuff, so I don’t know if that’s true, but it seems likely.

    Til tomorrow, everyone.

  26. @JJ

    Please note: nicer. I meant that r. 🙂

    @Andrew P

    Only a few people get nominated each year. Most authors will never get on the ballot, just like most authors will never be bestsellers, and that’s okay. Some authors will get on the ballot or bestseller list once, and that’s okay. A few authors will be just that damn good that they’ll be nominated multiple times and have multiple bestsellers, and, well, they’re that damn good, are we really going to begrudge that?

    Pratchett and Novik are two of my favourite authors, and I haven’t considered running a slate to get them on the ballot. I just assumed that not everyone’s taste is my taste. (I mean, obviously you’re all wrongfans for disagreeing with me about the continuing awesomeness of dragons on ships, but I can accept that. Maybe. Or next year I’ll run Depressed Dragons and you’ll all be sorry! Mwahaha!)

  27. If a group of people wanted to set up, let’s call it, the Juan Rico Award for best military sf and fantasy, the award wouldn’t have to be tied to–or presented at–a specific convention.

  28. Meredith: Pratchett and Novik are two of my favourite authors, and I haven’t considered running a slate to get them on the ballot. I just assumed that not everyone’s taste is my taste.

    You are aware that Novik was nominated for a Hugo in 2007 for His Majesty’s Dragon, and that Pratchett declined a nomination in 2005 for Going Postal, no?

  29. @JJ

    Yep, I am, but thank you for telling me anyway – if I hadn’t known already I would’ve been pretty thrilled to find out. I only drew attention to those two (of my favourites) because they were part of the list of authors Andrew P seemed to think were maligned by Worldcon voters. 🙂 Happy they got the noms, would be happy if they got more (mostly Novik, since her career would benefit more), still perfectly happy if they don’t.

    I assume that the rest of the Temeraire books didn’t get nominated because “DRAGONS on BOATS” is only good for most Worldcon voters the once, whereas for me its the gift that keeps on giving. I’m looking forward to reading her new thing once I’m done with the Hugo stuff and scouting around the short fiction scene. 🙂

  30. Re: the conservative/sense of wonder sf/f book award

    I think its a good idea, but since I’m spectacularly unqualified to brainstorm let alone help start it up (I’m left-wing in Britain, which I think makes me basically a communist from the Puppy perspective) I don’t have much to add. I hope someone qualified and willing does have a go, though. The Prometheus award shows precedent for an explicitly ideological award.

  31. Andrew P – What on the current ballot left you gasping? Some of it so far has left me gagging

  32. @Andrew P:

    Just look at the authors nominated for best novel since 2000.
    Stross, 7 times
    Mieville, 5 times
    McDonald, 4 times
    Scalzi, 4 times
    Bujold, 5 times
    Grant, 4 times
    Wilson, 4 times
    Sawyer, 5 times

    You appear to be incorrect about McDonald. My own re-analysis of your numbers – I figured I’d better – shows McDonald with 3 noms over that span. I thought maybe he had a pen name you were including, but his Wikipedia entry does not mention one, and also confirms that he’s received 3 Hugo nominations for best novel with no victoris in that category.

    That leaves 7 novelists with 4+ nominations in the 2000-2015 period. I’ll be very interested to see how that compares to your figure for 1984-1999 and for 1968-1983, the two corresponding previous periods.

  33. It seems that the Puppies have absolutely no measure in which my favorite book of last year, The Girl In The Road by Monica Byrne, could have any merit, whatsoever. If I say I loved it, I must be lying. If I found it difficult and wonderful, I must be affirming some action or other. The language is too difficult to be immersive and it doesn’t signal. Or something. I don’t even know. What I do know is that the novel punched me in the gut, over and over, and left me gasping, and when I could think again I cried and cried and cried, and I’m still not quite right in the head, still not quite sure I understand.

    And that, right there, is why there is no criteria, no standard, no consensus, no SJW cabal. I like books that punch me in the face. Not everyone is into that.

  34. How are we talking about the amazingness of MilSF without mentioning Forever War by Haldeman?!

    Also, I didn’t know that Modesitt was a dude until just now.

  35. Mintwitch,

    usually you have to pay a lady a lot of money for that kind of service.

  36. Alexvdl: How are we talking about the amazingness of MilSF without mentioning Forever War by Haldeman?!

    Forever War is indeed an excellent book — but having read it for the first time in the not-too-distant-past, I will say that certain aspects of it have not aged well at all.

  37. Jim Henley on May 29, 2015 at 3:06 pm said:

    Confession and speculation.

    The confession: Unlike many folks here I don’t have any attraction to MilSF, so little that I haven’t read enough to make the following speculation informed. But.

    The worldbuilding in MilSF can be extremely detailed. The Ancillary novels are a recent example; CS Friedman is excellent in this regard; David Weber’s Honor Harrington and related series depend on elaborate, multilayered worldbuilding; as do Bujold’s Vorkosigan series; and pretty much anything by Elizabeth Moon. And then there are the non-quite military space operas of Melissa Scott and her ilk, which somehow don’t count or I don’t even know.

    Grr. Argh.

  38. I’m a huge fan of Military Fantasy as well.

    Myke Cole’s Shadow Ops series with a contemporaryw orld where the Magic Awakening has completely changed the world and especially the military.

    Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series, where it’s the Napoleonic wars with aerial dragon corps.

    John Marco’s Jackal of Nar series is great.

    Harry Turtledove (who is THE master of Alt. History) has his Darkness series, which sorta mirrors WWII, but is it’s own greatness.

  39. Oh dear. Another book I didn’t know existed, added to the “must purchase” pile. I’m not sure where I stand on face-punching literature (not a Chuck Palahniuk fan), but this one sounds worth a bruised sensibility or two.

    Arrgh. Too little time and too much to read! But meanwhile hallelujah! a new author! *hat-tip to mintwitch*

  40. Andrew P: Also, what did you see when you did a 15-year rolling tally of 4+Nom counts starting with 1959? That’s the first year for which we have sufficient data to perform the analysis.

  41. I’ll be very interested to see how that compares to your figure for 1984-1999 and for 1968-1983, the two corresponding previous periods.

    Since it seems Andrew P isn’t going to do the leg work, here are the authors who received four or more nominations for Best Novel during the period from 1984 through 1999:

    David Brin 6 times
    William Gibson 4 times
    Orson Scott Card 6 times
    Greg Bear 4 times
    Geo Alec Effinger 5 times
    Robert Sawyer 4 times
    Lois McMaster Bujold 5 times

    Bruce Sterling, Dan Simmons, Connie Willis, Vernor Vinge, and Kim Stanley Robinson all received three nominations each.

    I’ll do the previous 15 year period later.

  42. Aaron, thanks. My numbers match yours for everyone but Effinger. I only show two, for When Gravity Fails (1987) and A Fire in the Sun (1989). Am I missing two pseudonyms?

  43. Jim Henley: I only show two [for Effinger], for When Gravity Fails (1987) and A Fire in the Sun (1989).

    That is correct, although he also has 1 nomination each in the Novella, Novelette, and Short Story categories.

  44. @Jim Henley “It occurs to me I’ve now racked up a lot of contributing-editor credits for this series. And yet I still don’t have a Hugo. Clearly there can only be one explanation for this.”

    Clearly, next year, when this coverage gets nominated, all contributing editors get Hugos too. Hugos for everyone!

  45. At this point, I might as well note that, like Ozymandias, I did it 35 minutes ago.

    Basically there was a level jump in 1980. From 1959-1979 there was an average of a little over 3.5 novelists getting 4+ noms in a forward-looking 15-year period. After 1979, the average jumps to arounf 5.5. A couple years in the mid-90s are low. The lat two years in scope are high. It’s too soon to know whether 1999 and 2000 represent the beginning of another level-jump or if they’re a peak in the 5.5-level era the way 1995-1996 was a trough.

    Data discovery perennially tempts people to offer Just So stories, so I’ll tend to regard theories about why we see a level-jump in the 15-year trend starting in 1980, let alone whether and why we get a new peak in 1999-2000. But I suppose people very knowledgeable about Hugo-voting fandom and the history of publishing may be able to construct informed fables.

    Regardless. there’s a big jump way, way before the 21st Century, and if there’s a new jump it appears to be proportionately smaller (3.5 => 5.5 => 6.5, maybe). And anyone who thinks the possible jump from 5.5-6.5 is suspicious or regrettable needs to explain why the much larger proportional jump in 1980 was not.

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