The Bark Between The Stars 5/29

aka If All Puppies Were Brothers, Would You Let One Marry Your Sister?

Here in today’s roundup: Martin Wisse, Sarah A. Hoyt, Alexandra Erin, Lela E. Buis, Bruce Baugh, Adam-Troy Castro, Vox Day, Daddy Warpig, Phil Sandifer, Shaun Duke, Spacefaring Kitten, Rebekah Golden, Dave Noonan, Lis Carey, Aziz Poonawalla, Charlie Jane Anders, Natalie Luhrs, and Kyra. (Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editors of the day Jim Henley and May Tree – who independently submitted the same item — and Owlmirror.)

Martin Wisse on Wis[s]e Words

“Your writer’s group would not be angry with this” – May 29

That’s the sort of bollocks you hear a lot of science fiction readers talk about, that they want prose that’s transparent, “doesn’t get in the way of the story”, doesn’t demand any attention paid, doesn’t challenge. There’s of course a huge inferiority complex running through parts of science fiction, resulting in the dismissal of everything that smacks of the literary and difficult. That’s what you see here. It’s not bad persé, it’s just a bit unambitious.

And to be honest, the Hugos too often have been that already. There are plenty of middle of the road novels that have been nominated and won it. Do we really need more of that, or do we rather have something a bit more challenging? Cetainly the Puppy nominees aren’t the answers: by all reports they mostly fail even Paulk’s rather low standards.

 

Sarah A. Hoyt on According To Hoyt

“Pure Gold” – May 29

We know the air of collegiate comradery is a lie, to an extent. Note I said to an extent, and I’ll explain later.

Part of my amusement at the reaction to the whole Sad Puppies thing has been the very same people saying there were never politics in SF being the very same people who once told me that there were rifts I didn’t see in the field and that some people in the early two thousands still didn’t talk to each after arguments over the Vietnam war back in the day.

And anyone who has read Heinlein’s bio knows about the other rifts in fandom and among professionals way back before that, a lot of them political.

But this is to an extent, because to another extent… Well, guys, we’re all pretty weird. We spend our days writing about worlds and futures that don’t exist.

Older son who aspires to medicine (and is engaged in preparation to practice it) tells me that only people with a compulsion to work at healing (and he says it’s a compulsion) understand other people with the same issue. Well, guys… Yeah, same for writers, and to an extent for fans.

I’m not going to tell you that I love all my colleagues. There are many I loathe, many I cordially detest, many I tolerate, and, yes, many I love dearly. Weirdly, this doesn’t rift across political lines (of course, my politics being what they are, they are at best cross-sectional to real world politics) or even correlate to those I like to read. Yeah, curse it, some of the ones I loathe write pretty good stuff. (Shakes fist at great novelist in the sky, who has a sense of humor.)

 

Alexandra Erin on Blue Author Is About To Write

“The Puppies come so close to getting it, so often.” – May 28

…I stumbled across a post by Dave Freer from February called “To Serve One Master — The Reader“.

The major thrust of the blog post is the idea that however an author intends a work to be received is secondary to how readers receive it, which… okay. This is something that it’s taken me a long time to accept as an author, but I have to say that I am in general agreement with it.

The thing is, it’s weird to see a self-professed Puppy saying this. After all, these are the same people who, whenever someone starts talking about the racist or sexist content of a work, respond with “BUT THAT’S NOT WHAT THE AUTHOR MEANT! YOU CAN’T KNOW WHAT’S IN THEIR HEARTS AND MINDS! YOU’RE JUST READING INTO THINGS!”

 

Lela E. Buis

“Puppy Debate Maxing Out” – May 29

I’ve been involved in work-for-hire for the last couple of weeks, and am just coming up for air. Checking around my virtual environment, I notice the debate about the Hugo’s seems to have gone past the point of raging insults and into slash and burn territory.

This is a process that’s encouraged by the nature of the Internet itself. If this were a space opera, for example, the plot would play out something like this: The Puppies make a raid and take over territory at the Hugo Awards. Because this is considered an aggressive action, defenders of the award would assemble a force to shake them loose. They’d all let fly with photon torpedoes and phaser cannons set to “kill.” If the forces had to resort to hand-to-hand combat, they might bring out their light sabers and go at it in Star Wars style. The result would either be that the Puppies are driven off, or else they prevail and put down roots in their new territory.

The problem with this scenario, of course, is that all the battles are actually virtual. They’re being fought on blogs, websites, Twitter and Amazon accounts and in a few news outlets. This means that there can be no really decisive victory. Defenders of the Hugos can score against the other side with a well-turned phrase, but not really take back the stronghold.

 

Bruce Baugh on Google Plus  – May 28

Kate Paulk will be organizing the Sad Puppies 4 effort for next year’s Hugos, so it’s interesting to see what her creative priorities are. Two things of note, for me…

#1. Her guideline #7, “The prose is invisible.”, seems like a good way to toss out some of sf/f’s best writers, including Vance, Wolfe, Lafferty, and so many others.This line from Jack Vance’s “The Last Castle”, for instance, is delightful and very much visible: “In the end, death came uniformly to all, and all extracted as much satisfaction from their dying as this essentially graceless process could afford.” Prose I stop to admire in delight, or wonder, or the kind of bewilderment that leads to insight is a big part of why I read, and always has been.

#2. There’s nothing on her list about world-building, at all. This isn’t unique to this piece, either. None of the Puppies have much at all to say about world-building. I read sf/f for other places and times just as much for specific characters and stories within them, and one of the things that can make a work great is its setting. But seriously, they just don’t talk about world-building, which seems to me like talking about cooking shows and never wondering how something tastes.

 

Adam-Troy Castro on Facebook – May 29

…Even if you’re Eric Flint and write exactly the kind of fiction the Puppies like, if you think the Puppies have no case, if you write several blog posts addressing them with logic, if you criticize Brad Torgersen in particular, you are a CHORF guilty of Saul Alinsky tactics and should be subjected to demands for apology.

Can we just make a rule in life that if you invoke the name of an old lefty who has been dead for decades and who is in fact unknown to most people who harbor left-wing beliefs, to attack criticism for crying out loud, you are at best a silly silly person?

 

 

 

Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“The Olympian indifference of Johnny Con” – May 29

Mike Cernovich @Cernovich As a white straight male capitalist, I’m happy for @scalzi’s $3.4 million book deal. But how many women/POC are squeezed out because of it?

I had estimated 680 on the basis of other SF publishers’ current initial advances, but I stand corrected. …Tor is funding 13 more John Scalzi books at the opportunity cost of no less than 523 initial advances to new science fiction authors. As a side note, it is informative to see how much initial advances from major publishers have shrunk over time; the advance for my first published novel in 1996 was $20,000.

Those who have thrown hissy fits over Sad Puppies supposedly slate-blocking as many as 12 authors and preventing them from receiving recognition for their work at the Hugo Awards would do well to consider the fact that Patrick Nielsen Hayden and John Scalzi have combined to prevent more than 500 authors from getting published and receiving paid advances. Opportunity cost is a bitch, especially when you’re the one upon whose fingers the window of opportunity has closed.

 

Shaun Duke on World in a Satin Bag

“On the Hugo Awards: Two Scholarly-ish Projects to Come (An Announcement)” – May 29

A lot of us in SF/F circles heard of the rumors circulating about the Hugos in the weeks prior to their announcement.  I heard many rumors from some of my friends, and many more circulated (or were revealed as truth) through RP/SP circles and through those with far more industry clout than myself.  Since last year’s Hugo Awards were also controversial, I had the feeling that these rumors were going to indicate a blow-up that we hadn’t yet scene.  And so I turned to a friend of mine for help:  Aaron Beveridge.

Aaron is one of the co-creators of MassMine, along with Nicholas Van Horn. MassMine was created with the intent of helping academics acquire meaningful data from social media platforms (specifically, Twitter).  Their program is pretty complicated, so I’ll let you go to the website and learn all about it (there’s a video and everything!).  Aaron, it turns out, is one of those enthusiastic individuals who believes, as I do, that collaboration is critical to academic work, and so it didn’t take any effort at all to convince him to help me collect data and put together the projects below.

This post serves as an official announcement for the projects that Aaron and I are working on.  These include the following:

1. MassMine-ing the Hugo Awards:  Social Media Reactions and What the Data Tell Us….

 

Spacefaring Kitten on Spacefaring, Extradimensional Happy Kittens

“’The Day the World Turned Upside Down’ by Thomas Olde Heuvelt” – May 29

I was pleased that a Lightspeed story made it. It’s a very good magazine that won the semiprozine Hugo last year, after all, and it has published some pretty awesome fiction in 2014 as well. I’m quite sure I nominated two stories from the magazine for the Hugos, plus the whole magazine in the semiprozine category, plus the editor John Joseph Adams in the editor category.

I don’t read absolutely everything LS publishes, though, and Olde Heuvelt’s story was new to me. Naturally, I had some great expectations. Too bad this story let them down.

 

Rebekah Golden

“2015 Hugo Awards Best Short Story: Reviewing Single Samurai” – May 29

It’s fairly obvious that Diamond had a vivid image of this story in his head, the problem is that at the end I did not. I think some of this is related to the fact that Diamond so utterly identified with the character he was writing that he did not see the foibles of the character’s personality.

 

Dave Noonan

“2015 Hugo Semi Pro Zine” – May 29

Wow! A whole category with no Puppy Shit smeared all over it.  I didn’t intend to read these because I did want to read more shitty short stories. So Beneath Ceaseless Skies sat open in my Moon+ for a couple of days before I started reading and then… shock!  The first story was good! The second story is good too!  Holy crap. So I went looking and discovered the Puppies apparently couldn’t find any right-wing nutjob Semi Pro Zines so I may actually get to read some decent stuff. Finger’s crossed.

 

Dave Noonan

“2015 Hugo Fanzine” – May 29

My notes and rankings for the Best Fanzine category of the 2015 Hugo Awards.

  • Journey Planet
  • Tangent Online
  • The Revenge of Hump Day

 

Adult Onset Atheist

“SNARL: Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form”  – May 29

I watched all of these movies before I saw them on the Hugo nominations list. They are all good movies, and worth a bit of hard earned down-time to watch. I get to review them without reflexively asking “Would anybody want to watch/read this?”, and get down to the more important business of defining my own personal opinion. All good reviews are subjective because they arise in part from the reviewer’s enjoyment of the subject, and resonate with the reviewer’s reasons for picking up the subject of the review to begin with.

 

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“The Zombie Nation, by Carter Reid” – May 29

A complete loss, in my opinion.

 

Aziz Poonawalla on Beliefnet

“G. Willow Wilson’s Ms. Marvel nominated for Hugo Award — and needs YOUR support”  – May 29

In 2013, Saladin Ahmed’s book Throne of the Crescent Moon was nominated for Best Novel, losing out to John Scalzi’s Redshirts – a tough loss indeed, but a significant honor in its own right. And way back in 1980, Steven Barnes’s The Locusts (co-written with Larry Niven) was nominated for Best Novelette, losing out to George R.R. Martin. There may be other Muslims whose works were nominated that I am overlooking, but to the best of my knowledge no Muslim has ever taken home the iconic Huge Rocket statue.

This year, however, that all could change: Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal, written by G. Willow Wilson, is nominated for Best Graphic Story. This is huge news and a tremendous recognition by the SF/F community of the cultural, literary, and social impact of Ms. Marvel – which is almost impossible to summarize, but this article at the venerable AV Club magazine is a pretty good primer: “One year later, Ms. Marvel’s influence is felt far beyond the comics page”

 

Charlie Jane Anders on io9

“Someone Will Livetweet Vox Day’s Debut Novel For Charity” – May 29

Before Theodore “Vox Day” Beale was the central figure in the Sad/Rabid Puppies Hugo Awards hacking, he wrote a series of religious-inspired fantasy novels for Pocket Books. And blogger Natalie Luhrs is going to live-tweet his debut novel, Eternal Warriors: The War in Heaven, for charity….

 [Update: In case it’s not clear, she will livetweet her reaction to the book, one page per tweet, not the actual text of the book.]

 

Natalie Luhrs on Pretty Terrible

“Bad Life Decisions: Make Me Read Theodore Beale” – May 29

So you can help me raise some money for RAINN (or a charity in your country which does the same sort of work).  For every $5 donated to RAINN, I will read and  live tweet one page of this 399 page delight with the hashtag #readingVD. I’ll also re-publish the tweets and add additional commentary by chapter here at Pretty Terrible–those’ll go up as I finish each chapter (there are 29 chapters in the book, as well as a prologue and an author’s note).

However, I’m not going to read any of it until we’ve raised at least $500–and I’d like to raise that by June 11.  If we manage to raise $2,000 I will read the entirety of Theodore Beale’s Eternal Warriors™: The War in Heaven™.

 

Alexandra Erin on Blue Author Is About To Write

“Rabid Puppies Review Books: HAROLD AND THE PURPLE CRAYON” – May 29

harold

Reviewed By Special Guest Reviewer Theophilus Pratt (Publisher — Hymenaeus House)

This instructive tale tells of a young man who all by himself creates a road which he then travels down, makes a mountain which he climbs, then saves himself from falling by conjuring a balloon which he hangs onto until he can bring into being a basket capable of supporting himself. His boundless creativity allows him to shape a whole civilization of buildings until, amusingly, he re-creates the very house he started out from and sleeps the sleep of the just, knowing that everything he has in life was fashioned by his own hand.

Amusingly, this book was sold to me as a work of fantasy when it is in fact the most realistic work of fiction I have ever encountered. If anything, it was too realistic to be fiction, a fact I found very amusing. Flipping through its pages proved to be instructive, as I began to see it was nothing more than a thinly veiled if amusing allegory for my own inimitable life.

Did I not provide myself with the only light I ever needed to walk by, as Harold did? Have I not always made my own road, and even left it when even it proved too stifling to my boundless intellect? Has not my dizzying intellectual magnitude taken me to the height of peaks so high that even I cannot long find purchase upon them? And when I fall, whom do I rely upon to prop myself up except myself?

 

Kyra in a comment on File 770 – May 29

Turning and turning in the widening blog
The puppy cannot hear the puppeteer;
Things fall apart; the Hugos cannot hold;
Mere doggerel is loosed upon the fans,
The canine tide is loosed, and in Spokane
The ceremony of awards is drowned;
The fest lacks all conviction, while the trolls
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some aggravation is at hand;
Surely the Slated Hugos are at hand.
The Slated Hugos! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image of a nominee story
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert prose;
A text with turgid body and an end wholly bland,
A phrase blank and meaningless about guns,
Is moving its dull verbs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant reviewers’ words.

The darkness drops again but now I know
That sixteen nominees in fiction slots
Were read like nightmares in my shaking Kindle,
And what rough book, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Sasquan for its award?

606 thoughts on “The Bark Between The Stars 5/29

  1. Jon, I don’t mind if you find that my reaction doesn’t reflect your real world.

    influxus, VD is just full of rhetoric again, you are absolutely right. I was more interested whatever kernel of a point there might be behind it.

    And I’ll definitely buy Scalzi’s books if they are great, and I know he has it in him.

  2. ” … Where do Laura Resnick, author of disposable urban fantasy paperbacks, … ”

    I must disagree. I finished her “Misfortune Cookie” last week, and it could have been sub-titled “Temporality and communication technology: implications for strategy in the battle of the sexes.”

    In other words, great MilSF. It even had a picture of a babe in a very short skirt (slit even further up the sides) on the cover.

    She, along with every other potential Hugo voter, is eminently qualified to judge SFF. Ad hominem arguments are unpersuasive.

  3. In the comments to Adam-Troy Castro’s FB post, Torgersen says:

    CHORF became a necessity because the SMOFs supporting Sad Puppies 3 didn’t need to be lumped in with the critics of same.

    If you want a picture-perfect definition of a CHORF, look at Teresa Nielsen-Hayden. She is the personification of CHORF.

    I’m not willing to cross the streams myself, but I would *dearly* love to ask him in what way TNH is reactionary.

    What the heck did she ever do to him or his? Gor blimey.

  4. I’m not willing to cross the streams myself, but I would *dearly* love to ask him in what way TNH is reactionary.

    I’m wondering why Torgersen is unable to talk about TNH without coming up with a ridiculous acronym to do so.

  5. @JJ

    Brian Z isn’t sealioning or JAQing off, which are his usual modus operandi for when he edges into (at least appearing to) participate in bad faith, so I’m inclined to think he is at least intending good faith on this subject. I might change my mind, but I’m trying not to let my frustration colour my opinion. So far.

    @Brian Z

    If you would like to explain what you think that kernel of a point is as clearly as you can manage, I’d definitely appreciate it.

  6. Meredith,

    at a loss

    Scalzi:

    So, if, for example, one of the books that I am imagining as a stand-alone becomes super-successful, then we can say, “Let’s continue on that” and make a series out of that and use one of those contracts to cover a series. Or for another thing, there is a book in the contract already that I know, in the list that I showed them, that I know already that I’m probably not going to do, or that I’m not going to do any time soon, because the moon is a critical element of it, and “Seveneves,” by Neal Stephenson, has made the moon a major, major element of that story, and significant enough that I’m like, “All right, someone else has covered this very general territory,” so I will probably replace that with something else.

    Reynolds:

    Your style of writing in the Poseidon’s Children series is more simplistic in than your Revelation Space work in this regard (doesn’t mean I’m knocking it!), and I’ve been wondering why ever since I picked up Blue Remembered Earth. Is it to appeal to a wider audience? Is it your personal choice? Did people complain/not like the technical writing and explanations?

    I’m not sure I’d go with “simplistic” – certainly from my side of the desk it often felt as if I was juggling far more variables than at any point in the Revelation Space stuff – but I would accept that there has been a conscious intention to downplay the technical aspects of the universe. Why? Because I wanted to evoke a sense in which my characters were fully immersed in a living, breathing twenty second century – and none of them really cared how the tech worked, as long as it did. That’s why there are no detailed descriptions of VASIMR drives, or telepresence systems, or implants – it’s all just there, fully accepted as the furniture of day to day life. How many people know what a “universal serial bus” really is? How many people understand MP3 encoding? None of that downplaying of the technical aspects was unconsidered, and I can safely say that none of it sprung from commercial pressures, or any desire to reach a wider audience.

    The fact is I write solely for myself; everything else is a bonus. My publisher has given me extraordinary latitude to write exactly what I want, across thirteen novels, with next to no pressure to make my work more or less approachable to a wider audience. But to come back to that restlessness – I don’t want to do the same thing over and over again. That doesn’t mean I repudiate the old thing, or won’t return to it. But it’s just one mode and I don’t want to be defined by it. But I also know that it is impossible to grow as a writer unless you are prepared to disappoint some cohort of your readership.

    That’s just the way it is.

  7. Doctor Science: What the heck did [TNH] ever do to him or his? Gor blimey.

    I’m guessing that, at one or more points, Tor declined to purchase work by Mr Torgersen.

    Or it could just be that he understands that in order to effectively mobilize the Puppies, he has to provide them with opponents stuffed as full of straw as possible, so as to appear like a real “enemy”.

  8. Doctor Science: What the heck did [TNH] ever do to him or his? Gor blimey.

    Also, she was originally raised as a Mormon, and on numerous occasions, has spoken less than complimentarily about the LDS Church. Which Torgersen, a devout LDS member, no doubt finds unforgiveable and worthy of persecution.

  9. Influxus: Stross and Scalzi in particular have long waxed lyrical about the value they find in having a publisher. VD often reduces this value to zero.

    Clarification, please. Are you saying that Mr. Beale believes the value of having a publisher is zero, or that the value of Mr. Beale as a publisher is zero?

  10. But, a little self-awareness is in order. Where do Laura Resnick, author of disposable urban fantasy paperbacks, and Glen Hauman, author of Star Trek tie-ins, get off sneering at the novels of other SFF writers from a position of presumed superiority? It’s unseemly.

    They actually have talent, know how to write, aren’t monstrous bigots, and didn’t try to ruin a literary award for everyone else.

  11. @Brian Z

    Correct me if I’m wrong, then: You prefer writers to write just for themselves wth no thought to selling it at the end, rather than write what they want to write but also with an eye to commercial viability?

    Is that correct, and if so was that the point you started off with in the comment I originally replied to or just the point you wanted to convey with the comment that linked to the post you quote?

    @Clack

    But, a little self-awareness is in order. Where do Laura Resnick, author of disposable urban fantasy paperbacks, and Glen Hauman, author of Star Trek tie-ins, get off sneering at the novels of other SFF writers from a position of presumed superiority? It’s unseemly.

    Leaving aside the quality of the authors you’re criticising (I haven’t read either’s work, although I plan to), writing ability and critical skills aren’t the same thing. I don’t think anyone demanded Roger Ebert write or direct an Oscar winning film before he was allowed to criticise others.

  12. Voting for Noms On a Summer Evening

    Whose noms these are I think I know.
    His blog is quite a silly show;
    He will not see me stopping here
    His lousy choices to forego.

    My Siamese Cat must think it queer
    To stop without a Hugo near
    But I must set aside this slate
    And vote again another year.

    These stories, at best second-rate,
    Were stuffed by Pups (and GamerGate?!)
    The rockets they would try to sweep
    Their wounded egos to inflate.

    The Puppy Poop is much too deep,
    My sanity I’ll have to keep,
    And “No Award” before I sleep,
    And “No Award” before I sleep.

  13. Hoyt: “Part of my amusement at the reaction to the whole Sad Puppies thing has been the very same people saying there were never politics in SF ”

    Have anybody actually said that there never was politics in SF? Or does she interpret “no, there’s no liberal conspiracy in the Hugos” as “there’s no politics in SF”?


    (By the way, have “the kennels my destination” been used already as a title? And is “will the real sad puppy please stand up” too un-SF-y?)

  14. @Glenn Hauman:

    Definitely the first. Given my feelings about The Hot Equations I leave the second as an exercise to the reader.

  15. Oneiros:
    >> Never before has a man with a +3SD IQ so thoroughly failed to understand something.>>

    Hey, when your entire worldview depends on misunderstanding something, you dig in hard.

    Going to Maine:
    >>Please, don’t flatter him.>>

    That was flattering? I didn’t even know 3-sided dice existed!

  16. Johan P: I like “The Kennels My Destination” but I like even better the one I already used — “The Dogs My Destination” — for its implication of “going to the dogs.”

  17. Meredith,

    You prefer writers to write just for themselves wth no thought to selling it at the end, rather than write what they want to write but also with an eye to commercial viability?

    Does Reynolds write with no eye to commercial viability whatsoever? I wonder if his perhaps comment came off as overly defensive, and he thinks consideration of the market has its place (and those terms, with that contract, by Jove I think he’s got it) yet he also thinks that at the end of the day, if one isn’t writing for oneself one might give thought to other lines of work. (And I’ll just say once more here that Scalzi’s got it in him.)

    I’d tend to agree with that, though I don’t demand others agree.

    if so was that the point you started off with in the comment I originally replied to or just the point you wanted to convey with the comment that linked to the post you quote?

    My first comment was that upon reading VD salivating over the prospect of hungry authors with edgy manuscripts and no advances was to remember Dyson’s gentle reminder that science (and I would think speculative fiction too) is about pushing the envelope, not about too big to fail contracts.

    My next point (and I thought this is the topic we were discussing) was that I’d stand with Le Guin in my general perspective on publishing and profit.

    The two excerpts I posted (Scalzi’s WP interview and Reynold’s response to a reader question) are two writerly responses that I find illustrative of the difference between 13 books I’m not going to buy unless someone manages to convince me one of them happens to be really really good versus 13 books that I already know I’m going to buy sight unseen.

  18. Aaron:
    >> I’m wondering why Torgersen is unable to talk about TNH without coming up with a ridiculous acronym to do so.>>

    She already _has_ an acronym, even!

    Meredith:
    >> Brian Z isn’t sealioning or JAQing off, which are his usual modus operandi for when he edges into (at least appearing to) participate in bad faith, so I’m inclined to think he is at least intending good faith on this subject.>>

    I dunno. He seems determined to make oblique comments and references as if the person he’s responding to is expected to puzzle out their meaning, rather than him just saying what he mean. Perhaps he’s decided to speak oracularly, in an attempt to appear wise.

  19. Brian Z.:

    Mr. Scalzi, of course, has a much better writer inside him howling and banging on the gates to get out, and if he takes this opportunity to write 13 novels that I’d like to buy and read I’ll be the first to grab my credit card and offer him my sincere congratulations.

    Scalzi has potential to be a very fine author.

    And I’ll definitely buy Scalzi’s books if they are great, and I know he has it in him.

    (And I’ll just say once more here that Scalzi’s got it in him.)

    13 books I’m not going to buy unless someone manages to convince me one of them happens to be really really good.

    Yes, yes, you’ve repeatedly made it quite clear that you don’t feel that Scalzi’s produced anything of worth thus far. Given that the people who clearly disagree with you number into 6-digit figures, you can stop flagellating that deceased equine now.

    I am quite sure Scalzi that needs neither your approbation nor your money.

  20. “Yes, yes, you’ve repeatedly made it quite clear that you don’t feel that Scalzi’s produced anything of worth thus far.”

    Geez, at the very least he’s produced a hell of a proposal that’s worth $3.4 million…

  21. Brian,

    I take it you are a fan of Alistair Reynolds but not of Scalzi? If that is the case your buying choices are perfectly correct(Unless Reynolds has a quality dip(it happens)). I don’t think anyone was going to force you to buy Scalzi’s works, but the deal was done because a lot of people do and Tor think will continue to do so.

    NPH tweeted that each of his books sell over 10,000 units a month. Even once the advance, which will no doubt be split into smaller amounts based on signing, delivery, etc., is paid there is going to enough left over to pay the bills, keep the shareholders happy, and spend money on others.

    To tell the truth I can’t understand why you made the point you did. It doesn’t seem to relate to anything except in the most tangential way.

  22. Geez, at the very least he’s produced a hell of a proposal that’s worth $3.4 million…

    If you think Scalzi’s books are as great as Reynold’s, that’s fine too and we don’t have to argue. I was answering the requests for clarification.

  23. @Brian Z

    I didn’t find Reynolds defensive; perhaps my summary of the side I felt he represented was too brief.

    Nonetheless, I think I know what you’re trying to say now, so thank you.

    My opinion of it is I don’t think profit and pushing the envelope need be mutually exclusive, and Day can drool over whatever he likes but the odds of women and minorities with edgy manuscripts turning up on his publishing doorstep is slim to none. I think (hope?) Tor will put its Scalzi profits to good use getting those edgy manuscripts on the shelves.

    What have you read of Scalzi’s so far? I fell in love with the world of Lock On (I must admit my bias – I’m disabled), did you have a look at the free accompanying novella, Unlocked? Its a faux domentary style recounting of the history from present dayish to near future science fiction. I liked Old Man’s War just fine, but Lock In is much more interesting.

    Best part of the long-term deal, from my point of view? LOCK IN SEQUEL. My eyes are starry and my wallet is ready to go, and it hasn’t even been written yet. On a less selfish note, I daresay an author with the comfort of a guaranteed long-term deal might take more risks with one or two of those novels. You might get the Scalzi of your dreams eventually. 🙂

    What would you recommend as an intro to Reynolds?

  24. I take it you are a fan of Alistair Reynolds but not of Scalzi? If that is the case your buying choices are perfectly correct

    I am a fan of Scalzi, and in some ways he is the better writer. But Reynolds holds himself to a standard that makes me willing to give Gollancz my money in exchange for their taking a leap of faith to offer him £1m with few strings, even if he does crash and burn, which I find highly unlikely.

  25. One thing I got from Brian’s link that perhaps he didn’t intend was the way Reynolds writing changed to be more character focused rather than tech heavy. Having just finished reading Kratman’s Big Boys Don’t Cry, it is something some MilSF writers should learn.

    The opening scene reminded me of David Weber books, in that the battles are boring. Listing all the ordinance and all the damage it does isn’t fun reading. Reading about how the battle effects individuals and how individuals effect the battle does. Give me some fog of war and surprise instead of dull lists please.

    The real kicker in BBDC is Maggie was a perfect POV character that Kratman could have taken advantage of but chose not to. Unbelievable!

  26. Meredith,

    You might get the Scalzi of your dreams eventually.

    I do fervently await that outcome.

    What would you recommend as an intro to Reynolds?

    I’d recommend starting with Revelation Space and skipping around from there. Don’t skip House of Suns.

  27. @Brian Z

    13 books I’m not going to buy unless someone manages to convince me one of them happens to be really really good.

    ——

    I am a fan of Scalzi, and in some ways he is the better writer.

    Do you mean that you like Scalzi well enough but aren’t a regular buyer..? Fan seems to me a stronger word than maybe buying one of the next thirteen books, but only if its better than anything else they’ve written.

  28. ” I don’t think anyone demanded Roger Ebert write or direct an Oscar winning film before he was allowed to criticise others.”

    Well, Rob Schneider demanded a Pulitzer of his critics, which Ebert most kindly pointed out that he had.

    “And is “will the real sad puppy please stand up” too un-SF-y?”

    Nothing is ever too un-SF-y for filking.

  29. @Brian Z

    What would you recommend as an intro to Reynolds?

    I’d recommend starting with Revelation Space and skipping around from there. Don’t skip House of Suns.

    Thanks! My to-read pile is getting very large after reading these threads. Its great. 🙂

  30. Do you mean that you like Scalzi well enough but aren’t a regular buyer..? Fan seems to me a stronger word than maybe buying one of the next thirteen books

    I like Scalzi well enough but he has to work harder to make it near the top of my to read pile, and his WP interview did not fill me with confidence about the next 13.

    (I would have definitely bought the one where the moon explodes, but Neal Stephenson already thought of it).

  31. @Jamoche

    Ha! That’s awesome.

    The only good thing about Deuce Bigelow was Oded Fehr being generally gorgeous, and frankly I’d rather watch The Mummy.

  32. Jamoche: Well, Rob Schneider demanded a Pulitzer of his critics, which Ebert most kindly pointed out that he had.

    Oooh! Thanks for making me one of today’s 10,000!

  33. Before the Pulitzer, Ebert used to point out that he wrote BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, which had been named in some book compiled at the dawn of the home video boom as one of the Top 100 Funniest Movies on VHS despite the fact that it wasn’t actually available on VHS.

  34. @Clack

    I need to apologize for my earlier response.

    I neglected to mention that Laura Resnick and Glenn Hauman are also well within their rights to look down on Ted Beale because they never said a child-murdering terrorist like Anders Breivik could reasonably be hailed a hero by Norway or that his attacks on innocents were somehow a stand against “invaders and quislings”.

    http://www.donotlink.com/el5m

    I apologize for failing to properly characterize the publisher of John C Wright and Tom Kartman.

  35. Re: VD’s latest on Scalzi’s Tor deal. Is he more disingenuous or wrong? It’s like a Zen koan of stupid.

  36. Meredith: I’m going to disagree with Brian Z and suggest you don’t start with the Revelation Space novels. Reynolds’ prose is fantastic but he tends towards plots where the characters go on a long journey and then something happens at the end, and the “core” Revelation Space trilogy are that in spades.

    I’d sooner recommend his stand-alone novels. Terminal World and Pushing Ice fall into his usual wheelhouse but do more with the framework, and Century Rain is a stone cold masterpiece. In the Revelation Space universe but readable on their own are The Prefect (my favourite Rev Space novel, and one of my favourites of his overall), Chasm City, the novellas Diamond Dogs (which is fantastic) and Turquoise Days, and the short story collection Galactic North

    Blue Remembered Earth is an interesting take on the “grand tour of the solar system” type story, but I didn’t enjoy the sequel as much.

  37. @ Rachel:
    Congrats on your purchases! I love Native Tongue, but also Elgin’s Ozarks books. And of course she wrote the novella that Joanna Russ, with her permission, reworked into The Two of Them.
    And Bruce Baugh is right. Tiptree is great, but best enjoyed in small sips.

  38. Must tip my hat to JJ’s sonnet, especially the line about “the rocket that falls on Chu / from nowhere”, which made me chortle. While brushing my teeth. Things got messy.

    Very much enjoying listening in on Meredith’s and Brian Z’s recommendation exchange.

    This one’s been bubbling away since I took an initial stab at the first verse. Stick a fork in it; it’s done and maybe it will stop taking up my earworm cycles.

    “I Should Be Allowed To Win”
    with apologies to TMBG

    CORREIA:

    I saw the fandom of my Puppy Nation
    No-awarded, barking, hysterical
    I should be allowed to win my Hugo
    I should be allowed to win

    ALL:

    We should be allowed to win a Hugo
    We should be allowed to win

    WRIGHT:

    And I should be allowed to blurt homophobic ideas
    At risk of no consequence to me
    If necessary make urgent claims to religious liberty

    TORGERSEN:

    I saw the worst books of my generation
    Embraced by checklist quotas for rockets
    I should be allowed to eat Nutty Nuggets
    Everyone should eat them too

    ALL:

    We should be allowed to win a Hugo
    We should be allowed to win

    VOX:

    Of course I am allowed to drum up the dreadest of ilk
    To create a flood of facsimiles
    Of course it’s legal to ask GamerGators to reinforce my vote

    ALL:

    We are not allowed
    To call a spade a spade and still win all the votes
    We are not allowed
    To meet the secret cabal of liberals who won’t let us win

    PAULK:

    Now I’m the next hope of my Puppy Nation
    Ignoring CHORFs’ expectations of PC
    I should get to set the Hugo standards
    I should see my standards win

    ALL:

    We should be allowed to win a Hugo
    We should be allowed to win

    And we should be allowed to win with whatever stories
    We decide belong in next year’s slate
    But sadly, this can never be

    We are not allowed to win
    We are not allowed to win

    …And now I really want to do “Destination Moon.” It’s already got a rocket in it!

  39. Thanks Lorcan Nagle! I might try the short story collection first. I like the overview you get with collections.

  40. Chris: Does Day really think that the money Tor uses for advances comes out of a pool of fixed size?

    It’s a little concerning that the founder of a publishing house just sorta-kinda forgot about profits that said house should be generating. If I were published by Castalia, I’d be writing myself a little post-it note to check into that on Monday.

  41. Lorcan Nagle, fair enough. Perhaps Century Rain is a great introduction. Just don’t skip going back to Revelation Space once you are well and truly hooked. All the collections of his shorter work are well worth it.

  42. Noah Body: “Is he more disingenuous or wrong? It’s like a Zen koan of stupid”

    It’s piece of fake social justice hypocrisy that RequiresHate would be proud of. Looks like VD has been taking notes from his superior hatemonger.

  43. @ http://cloggie.org/wissewords2/2015/05/29/your-writers-group-would-not-be-angry-with-this/

    I’ve already seen quite a number of similar comments and blog posts. In short; barely related criticism towards a personal list of criteria without any concrete suggestions of improvement, or even the basic consideration that any individual’s preferences or tastes in literature might differ from those of yours.

    Not to mention that were the Hugo awards even trying to award works of ‘challenging’ nature, then Terry Pratchett would have been the most nominated author in the history of the award. Were he still alive, he might write a Discworld novel about this Hugo kerfuffle, and I’d wager that the Worldcon regulars would remain none the wiser.

  44. Dogtor Who: The Bark in Space

    But seriously folks… personally, I’m less interested in the Puppies’ criteria for next year than I am interested in whether the slate will be assembled by some semblance of the democratic process, and whether nominees’ permission will be sought before their inclusion.

  45. @Meredith,

    I’ve yet to read an Alastair Reynolds I didn’t like; I own most of his output.

    Lorcan Nagle has a point about long journeys in the Inhibitor Series that kicks off with “Revelation Space”, but it is after all a setting with no FTL, and despite that Reynolds manages to tell gripping epic tales with that constraint.

    “Galactic North” is an excellent collection with the caveat that there are stories in it that are in the Revelation Space universe and so are spoilers for the series. Myself, I’d start with “Revelation Space” & keep reading in publication order.

  46. Kate: ” whether the slate will be assembled by some semblance of the democratic process, and whether nominees’ permission will be sought before their inclusion.”

    It hardly matters, does it? What happens to nominations next year depends on what VD does, since it’s his choices that dominated last year. Given the lack of evidence that the people supporting the puppies have any taste at all, the Sad Puppies slate will suck just as badly, and we know whatever VD nominates will reek.

    And since the very existence of a slate goes against the wider democratic spirit of the awards, it’s unimportant if the Sad Puppy selection is more democratic/consensual, since it will steamroller the votes and consent of the worldcon community.

  47. Kate at 1:18 am:

    As others have said, Kate Paulk’s criteria are quite personal, with a degree of subjectivity, so I don’t think they can be generally applicable. Besides, I would expect that most other readers have different weightings of which criteria are more or less important in determining Hugo worthiness (or altogether different criteria to Paulk’s; see worldbuilding, sensawunda etc.)

    But really, it’s the existence of slates I find objectionable, so it doesn’t matter what her criteria are. If she plans on assembling a Sad Puppy 4 slate, I will be against it. It could all be irrelevant though, if TB decides to hijack it again with RP2. Let’s not forget that it was the RP slate that successfully gamed the nominations this year, and not the SP slate.

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