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. Kyra: Noted, thanks. I don’t know Jeanette Winterson, I was just riffing off the mattress story. (Alas, no edit function.)

  2. E-books are a godsend for people with hand grip and eyesight difficulties.

  3. @James

    I like Scalzi, but all of his novels so far look to me as though the core idea was most driven by his looking at the market and asking “what will sell?”. His execution is professional, but nothing ever looks like a labour of love.

    I have to ask, have you actually read all of Scalzi’s novels? Because my impression is decidedly different. I think one of the keys to Scalzi’s success is that he manages to find ideas that will sell AND are a labour of love for him.

  4. *bites tongue to keep self from recommending a busload of books by Jeanette Winterson, since the book recs in this thread are already exploding*

  5. Brian Z: I will dedicate this additional paragraph to you…

    I find it extremely difficult to believe that you do not understand that the “story” you have written portrays SFF fans as gaining something by causing misfortune to a Puppy. This is about as far from the actual situation as possible. Your new paragraph just makes it worse.

    If you want to illustrate the possibility of cooperation between Puppies and people are not Puppies, you’ve picked entirely the wrong story to pastiche.

    But you’re not stupid. You already know that. Selecting this story was a choice you made with deliberation.

  6. rochrist on May 30, 2015 at 10:19 am said:

    @James

    I like Scalzi, but all of his novels so far look to me as though the core idea was most driven by his looking at the market and asking “what will sell?”. His execution is professional, but nothing ever looks like a labour of love.

    I have to ask, have you actually read all of Scalzi’s novels? Because my impression is decidedly different. I think one of the keys to Scalzi’s success is that he manages to find ideas that will sell AND are a labour of love for him.

    I agree. None of Scalzi’s novels have read to me like mercenary haring after market share. I believe him when he says he has more ideas for novels to write than he will ever be able to use. So I believe he can pick and choose from ideas he already loves ones suitable to current interests.

    No, in recent days it is the Puppies, not anyone else, who seem to be trying to pander to the market as they perceive it, and trying to smash the market into that shape when it shows signs of being other than what they pander to.

    It was Dave Freer, after all, who Alexandra Erin linked to in the main post, who said

    It’s really important to find out what customers want, and give it to them.

    (Yes, he really refers to readers as “customers.”)

    And yet, as Alexandra Erin pointed out,

    Freer uses the piece to berate authors who don’t write for “the reader”/”the customer”, explicitly meaning consumers who want the sorts of things Dave Freer thinks consumers should want.

  7. Peace Is My Middle Name: E-books are a godsend for people with hand grip and eyesight difficulties.

    I’ve always preferred reading with larger text and lots of light, long before my eyesight changed — now, even more so. I like to use reasonably large e-fonts, so I have an e-reader with a 9.7″ screen (I’m a really fast reader, so a 6″ screen means clicking “Next” almost continuously).

    I prefer this to paper books so much that when I am ready to start a new book from the library, I will download the free sample from Amazon and read that (which usually gives me around the first 27 to 37 pages) before switching to the paper book to read the rest.

    And yes, when the book is GRRM-Game-of-Thrones-sized, the weight of an e-reader by comparison is a real boon to keeping hands and wrists from getting tired and sore from all that weight.

  8. JJ: Whatever else, Brian Z’s version of “Omelas” was a big hit with Vox Day — he turned it into a post on Vox Popoli.

  9. Glad to see Al Reynolds being discussed here. As a small point of clarification, I think when he talks about thirteen books, he’s referring to the books he has published, not the contract he is working his way through. Two other points:

    1) none of his novels has ever been shortlisted for a Hugo (he got one novella nomination in 2011)

    2) he has never bitched and moaned about it

  10. Mike, oh no. Now I’ve done it. I wonder if he liked “That’s my sad puppy.”

  11. Malcolm Edwards: thanks for catching that, I think his contract is 10 books.

  12. Dr Science –

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

    She’s not Christian enough?
    TOR didn’t buy one of BT book proposals?
    Neither PNH nor TNH are sufficiently worshipful of the BadGenusClub?

  13. The Slate-maker
    (With apologies to Hopkins)
    I caught this evening VD’s minion
    Hunter of monsters’ canine
    Piddle-poop-prone puppy, in his barking
    At the non-existent all around him plotting CHORFS, and scrabbling deep there,
    How he tore around the range of a looping leash! then off, off forth to spring,
    At the heels of SJWs and Scalzi too,
    Fans’ hearts at Worldcon
    Sank for the prank,
    The waste of, the asshattery of the thing.

  14. “… I’m not willing to cross the streams myself, but I would *dearly* love to ask him [Torgerson] in what way TNH is reactionary. …”

    I think she also is (a) a woman who (b) proved him wrong on ML more than once (3) in a non-submissive manner.

    (Though I may have TNH mixed up with Abi here.)

  15. The advice to “try to cater to as large audience as possible” isn’t bad advice for a publisher, at least one that isn’t aimed at a particular niche audience.

    It’s terrible advice for awards, which are supposed to award excellence, not commerciality.

    Excellence and commerciality are independent of one another — sometimes they overlap, sometimes they don’t. But trying to celebrate one by aiming for the other will succeed only by chance, not design.

  16. Brad is likely just aping Beale’s antipathy for TNH. He doesn’t really have ideas of his own on any level.

  17. … at a quick glance I can see a pincushion, box of moth killers, a chisel, several bottles of perfume and some sewing machine oil.

    Oh.My.Glob.

    I just glanced around. Why do I have two cans of WD40 on my bookshelves? I’m thinking maybe something to do with the shifter knob… which I also don’t remember putting up there.

  18. @Happyturtle: The disability angle

    Accessibility is one of the reasons I get frustrated with so many of the ebooks out there. Some companies try so hard to nail down their formatting that they forsake that very flexibility. I’d much rather keep things simple and clean, using minimal style rules to get the desired effects and letting readers resize them however they need to.

    But then, I’m a web coder. I’ve been beating that drum for years.

  19. Rev. Bob: Preach it, brother! My underlying health problems produce wildly varying symptoms, and sometimes I completely depend on e-texts and audiobooks. Times like that, I really appreciate those who produce appealing flexible layouts that can accommodate my body’s needs of the moment.

  20. Source Decay on May 30, 2015 at 1:12 am said:
    >>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.

    Why would anybody assume that there’s any need at all for ANY business acumen? Isn’t it obvious that the vanity publishing venture is simply a front for mommy to hide more tax losses?

  21. Beale apparently has it in for TNH & PNH because of the run-in on Electrolite back in the day. PNH’s blog but TNH moderating & disemvowelling – there are others out there in troll-land who still probably hate her for moderating at Boing Boing.

  22. Peace –

    “… If it were not for public libraries and online secondhand bookstores I might have followed my father’s hoarding path about books. …”

    One of my .sig-lines for a while was “Public LIbrary: n, that place where I keep all the rest of my books”

  23. @HappyTurtle, Rev. Bob & Bruce Baugh

    I wanted to +1 this whole discussion! 🙂 I prefer dead tree books on a tactile level, but my body usually disagrees with me about that, strenuously. Accessible ebooks are a fantastic innovation for those of us with less than perfect health.

    Now, if only the purveyors of ebooks would universally let people give them to me as gifts, that would be swell. :p

  24. Tuomas Vainio: The advise was; try to cater to as large audience as possible. To try to have something for everyone, to remember that there are those who expect action and science from their science fiction. That they expect something fun along with the potentially dreary and terrible.

    Why does an author always need to do that? I stayed up late last night reading Blind Lake by Robert Charles Wilson. It’s not an action-heavy novel, but RCW’s strength has always been that his characters aren’t action heroes; they’re utterly believable ordinary people who he throws into fantastic situations. Should he have “spiced” Blind Lake up with gunfights or car chases that added nothing to the story, just to appeal to action junkies?

    Thus when a work is nothing but an ideological or political message, it is very likely to cater only those who long for the said message. Now, everyone is free to write whatever ideological or political messages they prefer, but what I expect is not to use misleading packaking. Because people do judge books by their cover, if the cover has something else on it beyond the tittle and the name of the author.

    Or you could, you know, actually read the summary on the back/inside cover? You know, the one that tells you, in words what the book is about, so you don’t have to rely on the cover?

  25. @Bruce:

    I actually had occasion to discuss that on a panel a couple of years back. The other panelists ranged from author to editor to small-press publisher, and I served the purpose of both reader and code geek. One author/publisher was talking about trying to get the ebook to look as much like the Ent corpse as possible, and I politely disagreed via the accessibility argument. Flexibility is a key strength of ebooks; one shouldn’t discard that without a damned good reason.

    One thing I note in books from the Big Five is how frequently they make the text smaller than default. It’s right there in the house style sheet; the body text is set to Small or about 85%, instead of the standard Medium/100%. At the same time, they often lock the line-height to a specific value. On my device, these settings have the effect of making my “adjust line spacing” slider useless and making the biggest text size smaller than it could be. My sight’s pretty good, but those are still reader-hostile decisions.

    By contrast, if I develop or reformat an ebook, I make as much of that relative as I can. I’ve got a handful of standard styles, but generally they come down to not futzing with the size of main text, scaling everything else in relation to the “body text is Medium” baseline, indenting the first line of a paragraph by 1.5em (1.5 times the width of an “m” character) except when it’s the first paragraph in a chapter or other such section, and for heaven’s sake, never indenting centered text!

    My ancient stylesheet enemy is the demon named Overspecification, where people try so hard to nail everything down Just So that everything goes to hell if they forget to account for one little factor. I still get flashbacks to the ebook stylesheet I saw that was over 120K in size…

  26. @Whym

    One of the books that made the biggest impression on me as a wee thing was Dawn of Fear by Susan Cooper. I absolutely prefer her Dark is Rising books, but Dawn of Fear’s very bleakness is its strength. Without it the meaning would be lost.

    Anyone who demands that their reading – and worse, the reading of a large group of people such as, say, Hugo voters – adhere to a strict formula of breaking up the story with something “fun” (never mind that not everyone wants the same kind of fun) is hurting themselves with their own limitations. Nutty Nuggets aren’t a balanced brain food diet.

    Its sad that we’re even having to debate that, although I admire your fortitude for continuing to try with Tuomas. I haven’t the patience to engage with him.

  27. One of the things that makes me wonder about the puppies’ claims in re the slate picking was the supposed collectivist nature of the slate.

    The impression I get is that the SP kennel-mates are to one degree or another “libertarian.” Yet, the very act of the slate compilation is, in itself, a collectivist process. Where the kennel club is denying the individual agency and individual responsibility to those who are of supposed like mind.

  28. Rev. Bob: A 120 Kb stylesheet? Good heavens. That’s a novella all by itself.

    Now, I really like well-styled text – the major reason I’m likely to buy a print book these days is beautiful production values. But I also cherish responsiveness to other needs, and certainly, when I buy an e-book, what I’m looking for is it accommodating itself to me. ME ME ME, Bruce said graciously.

    HTML 5 and whatever the current CSS is are powerful tools for good, in smart hands. But so is what amounts to HTML 1 or 2, and sometimes it’s the right tool.

  29. On a lighter note, I am contemplating making up a shirt with the “christian fish” symbol (“ichthys”) in the lower part of the shirt image, and the text “Social Justice Warrior – it’s part of my Job description.” in the upper.

    I mean, it really *is* part of the job description for those who profess as I do.

  30. Choose puppies. Choose the red pill. Choose GamerGate. Choose a side. Choose a fucking big AR-15 with match grade drop forged barrel, port polishing, lightweight composite furniture, Choose 1:12 rifling twist, 5.56mm 62 grain FMJ ammo and a Nikon ProStaff Rimfire 3-9×40 matt black riflescope. Choose Nutty Nuggets. Choose nothing that challenges your ingrained viewpoint. Choose a disease. Choose your allies. Choose stalking internet strangers. Choose a three volume novel in a range of fucking beige. Choose fucking big explosions and wondering who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch reading mind-numbing spirit-crushing puppy nominated dreck, stuffing fucking junk novels into your head. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, nothing more than an embarrassment to the Hugo nomination process. Choose your safe future that looks just like today. Choose puppies . . . But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose puppies: I chose something else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got SF?

  31. Craig R.: Robert Altmeyer’s The Authoritarians is essential reading. People vary in how much they need hierarchical relationships to feel properly grounded (and in which areas of life, and other sorts of variation). One of the strains in libertarianism favors the removal of government involvement against market-dominating individuals and groups precisely because that will enable the natural leaders of society to take command as they should. Beale is like a textbook case of Altmeyer’s authoritarian leader type, and we’ve had authoritarian-follower types on parade here.

  32. Chris S.: I keep clicking the like button but it doesn’t do any good.

  33. Antagonish

    Yesterday, out in the hall,
    There was no SJW Cabal.
    They were not there again today.
    I wish, I wish they’d go away.

    When I came home at three o’clock,
    The Hugo noms had MilSF block!
    But when I looked for the Cabal,
    I couldn’t see them there at all!
    Go away, go away, don’t you come back any more!
    Go away, go away, and please don’t slam the door…

    (apologies to Hughes Mearns)

    It’s times like this I really miss John M. Ford. But we carry on in his stead.

  34. >> Now, I really like well-styled text – the major reason I’m likely to buy a print book these days is beautiful production values. But I also cherish responsiveness to other needs, and certainly, when I buy an e-book, what I’m looking for is it accommodating itself to me. ME ME ME, Bruce said graciously.>>

    I agree-ish.

    Thing is, part of accommodating itself to me is that I want well-styled text and attractive pages that harmonize with the tone of the novel. I want whoever makes the print books look so good to be able to make the e-books look that good.

    AND I want it to be overridable so people who need to mess with the presentation in order to enhance their own reading experience can do so.

    I’m largely an e-book reader these days, for prose fiction, but I look forward to the day that the e-books will look as good as the print books…

  35. > “It’s times like this I really miss John M. Ford. But we carry on in his stead.”

    I was thinking about him just the other day. There was a discussion in the comments here about why so few tie-in novels rise to the level of being award-worthy, and how difficult it is to write one that is given the constraints that have to be worked with.

    And I immediately thought, “Well … I can think of one that got there. The Final Reflection.”

    He’s missed indeed, for more reasons than one.

  36. Thanks Bruce & Michael.

    It’s amazing how much gun porn you can find with a 5 minute google…

  37. @Kyra “The Final Reflection”

    That book is wonderful. Excellent world building.

    Diane Duane also wrote a couple of very good Star Trek novels. My Enemy, My Ally was my favorite.

  38. Bruce

    I think you’ve nailed the relationship between VD and his followers pretty accurately; people who don’t actually know any real leaders are hugely susceptible to his kind of spiel.

    As far as I am aware the world record for a loss on a single trade still stands at $250,000,000; stripping bonds can make you very, very rich or your employers very, very poor. The guy who made the loss had no difficulty in getting another job with a firm who paid him rather more than his previous firm; after all, he’d made a great deal of money, and he was very, very good at it. The old bosses claimed that he’d been doing unauthorised trades; his answer was that they knew perfectly well what he was doing, but they didn’t understand it. He was right.

    The same can be said of Greenspan, the ardent acolyte of Ayn Rand just didn’t understand what was happening in the financial markets. Anyone who believes that it is possible to entirely eliminate risk in the markets clearly is an excellent candidate for buying second hand bridges, only he was the guy supposed to be overseeing the financial markets. People told him they had perfect hedging instruments, and he took their word for it. They were wrong, and so was he.

    So, these sorts of delusions are not uncommon; VD has them in spades. One of the nicest aspects of Scalzi’s deal from his perspective is that Tor are hedging his risks for the next 10 years; hedging instruments are expensive but he’s getting it included in the deal. VD wouldn’t recognise a hedging instrument if it bit him on the ankle, hence all the drivel about the rewards of self publishing; all things considered it’s just as well he has rich relatives…

  39. The Puppy blogs are on the web
    The Puppy blogs are on the web
    770 gathers all the excerpts on the page
    Got to show the range of Puppy rage

    The Puppy works are in my head
    The Puppy works are in my head
    The packet came, I read them all
    I’ll No Award them just the same

    And if your favorites got pushed off by the slate
    And if there’s No Award upon the stage
    And if the Puppies swear to burn the Hugos down
    I’ll see you on the dark side of the con

  40. “Whatever else, Brian Z’s version of “Omelas” was a big hit with Vox Day — he turned it into a post on Vox Popoli.”

    If you want to be deeply amused, go read the comments over there. His flying monkeys, er, evil minions are *so* confused.

    If you ever wanted proof that the RPs don’t read SF/F, here’s all we need.

  41. Bruce –
    in re “Authoritarians:” In those cases, aren’t the followers really just exchanging the government-as-master ,which has the theoretical advantage of being responsive to some degree of societal pressure/oversight and accountability for the market/market manipulator-as-master, which, since the restraining governmental action has been removed, has no accountability at all, and no imposable restraint on abuse?

    This would seem to be providing much *less* freedom for the individual, either in the arenas of independence, agency, responsibility or freedom.

    (Witness the impotence of the SP faction against the very evident depredations of the Fearless Leader VD/TB [except for Kratman, who seems to have bought in all the way with the “nuke the Hugos from orbit” stratagem)

  42. To get back to Al Reynolds for a sec (I was out all day, failing aMicrosoft certification exam, boo!), I do think the core Revelation Space novels are worth reading, just that some of his other books are better jumping-on spots.

    And his short fiction is fantastic. I highly recommend Zima Blue and Other Stories, his collection of non-Rev Space shorts. Though you should try and pick up the 2009 edition, to get the story Everlasting (which wasn’t in the earlier ones), it’s one of my favourite Twilight Zone-style stories of recent years

  43. Jamoche: Excellent example of “Brain Damage”. Lunatics, indeed.

  44. Craig R.: This would seem to be providing much *less* freedom for the individual, either in the arenas of independence, agency, responsibility or freedom.

    Working my way through his book now, but my personal experience is that there’s a certain section of the population that seeks an ultimate freedom– freedom from responsibility for their own actions and the consequences thereof, they just want to turn off their brains and follow something, whether it be a rulebook, a religion, a cult, a military leader, a domme with a whip, or any other type of structure that sets things up for them. Just follow the programming and be free. Once you’ve made that one choice, you never have to make another choice of your own again.

  45. @delurking:

    “If you want to be deeply amused, go read the comments over there. His flying monkeys, er, evil minions are *so* confused.

    If you ever wanted proof that the RPs don’t read SF/F, here’s all we need.”

    I’ve read them… I see no evidence for your assertion. Perhaps I read them wrong?

  46. I walked away from SF 20 years ago, but I still re-read a great deal, particularly Jack Vance. Now… maybe I’ve changed, or the genre has changed. Or both.

    But then… the recent Hugos brouhaha has inspired me to dig into old books I have that I never got around to. I’ve read two Heinleins from the 50s (one was short stories) and a Dorsai book, and a Nebula anthology from the mid 60s, including a Fred Pohl story in which two men get married. The notion that Golden Age SF was populated by white hetero nazis is bizarre, to say the least. (Also, the Heinlein novel, Time For The Stars, is so not full of “action” it’s… unbelievable. It’s also full of people who aren’t white. Oh, and women. Lots of women in it.)

    While I am kinda neutral here, I guess I am a Puppy sympathiser. [shrug]

  47. @Bruce Baugh: Robert Altmeyer’s The Authoritarians is essential reading.

    Very much second that recommend. And it’s available as a free PDF on his website, so all you’ll have to invest is the time it takes to read the book (and it’s an easy read, he’s a very clear writer.)

    I think the need for authoritarianism is a reflection of fear/anxiety, in current psych theory. The idea is that some people have a very difficult time with nuance and complexity and uncertainty in life, which causes them to seek out people who promise clarity and a simple vision — which, since life is inherently murky and uncertain, is usually a completely warped and unworkable vision that bears no resemblance to reality. But at least it’s clear! (“For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.” H. L. Mencken)

    The difference between an authoritarian leader and a follower is that a leader is also oriented toward social dominance — not only do authoritarian leaders believe that there are more and less worthy people in the world, but they believe that they are clearly among the most worthy and therefore should be calling the shots. Followers don’t want to call the shots, but they want someone else to tell them what needs to be done in order for them to be safe and happy, and they can be slavishly loyal to the vision they choose to use as the guiding beacon of their life.

  48. Take a little walk to the edge of con
    and read through the pack–
    Where the Hugo looms
    like a bird of doom
    As the votes get tracked.
    Where comments burn underneath the blogs,
    in the bay of dogs,
    Hey pup, you know
    you’re never reading that.
    Past the novel, past the works
    past the stories, past the crap
    On a gathering storm comes
    a loud whiny man
    with No Award held
    in his red right hand

    He’ll wrap you in his arms
    tell you that you’ve been a good pup
    He’ll nominate all the books
    it took you a lifetime to write up.
    He’ll push works to the floor
    that we’d all enjoy more
    but there won’t be a single thing
    that you can do
    (except ask to be removed)
    He’s a hack, he’s a man
    he’s a dude, he’s a guru
    They’re muttering his name
    and rolling their eyes
    But hidden in his vote
    is a red right hand.

    You don’t have no votes?
    He’ll get you some.
    You don’t have no book?
    He’ll get you one
    You don’t have no eligible work
    From 2014
    Well, don’t you worry buddy
    ‘cos he can’t count.
    Through the blogs and comments
    and the twitter and forum
    A shadow is cast wherever he stands
    No Award lying over his
    red right hand.

    …Nick Cave, on the off chance you ever see this, I am so very, very, very sorry.

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