aka A Bark and Hungry Puppy Arises
June is bustin’ out all over which may account for one of the longest roundups ever. The pack includes lead dog Brad R. Torgersen, Alexandra Erin, Ian Gillespie, Jim C. Hines, John Scalzi, John C. Wright, Larry Correia, Dave Freer, Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag, Vox Day, Chris Kluwe, Lis Carey, Dave M. Strom, Pluviann, Chris Gerrib, Russell Blackford and Brianna Wu. (Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editors May Tree and Soon Lee.)
Brad R. Torgersen
“Sheepdog staring at the horizon” – May 31
As my friend and author (and Sad Puppy critic) Eric Flint recently noted, he’s put his body on the line for what he believes. Other people spew a lot of hot air about being “warriors” for social justice. Eric’s a man who can actually claim that title, and be taken seriously; by allies and opponents alike.
So you will pardon me if I can’t spare much serious thought for those who think being some guy who gets pissed off on the internet, is somehow going to make a difference — a real, lasting, actual difference.
Which takes me back to a point Larry Correia and I have both made, about the Hugo awards: loads of people loved to complain about how the Hugos suck, and almost nobody was doing anything to make an impact. I say “almost” because there were interested parties working hard to effect the kind of change they wanted — Seannan McGuire didn’t get five Hugo nominations in a single year on accident — they just didn’t conduct their operations in broad daylight, nor on a scale to compare with Sad Puppies.
Which takes me back to a comment Michael Z. Williamson once made: we’re bad because we’re competent?
Well, whatever people have against Sad Puppies 3 — legit, or imaginary — it’s clear that the various narratives will continue without my input. I can only restate the obvious, in the hope that it sticks with people who have not decided to be dead-set against us. We (Sad Puppies Inc.) threatened nothing, demanded nothing, and closed no doors in any faces. We threw the tent flaps wide and beckoned to anyone and everyone: come on in, join the fun!
If someone can explain how promoting a slate hand picked by one man advances the cause of "anyone can nominate anyone", I'll join SP4.
— Alexandra Erin (@alexandraerin) June 1, 2015
“Blank Slate” – May 31
Putting aside the reasoning behind the Puppy slates – which is, admittedly, thoroughly objectionable to many of us all on its own – I’ve yet to see anyone offer a cogent, clearly articulated explanation for what makes the machinations of these melancholy mutts categorically different than what’s been done, without controversy, in years past.
I’d like to humbly suggest that the anti-puppies have been sucked into debating a strawman. While most of the prominent denunciations of the dispirited dogs have focused on their use of slates, the real problem with the pessimistic pups isn’t about slates at all, but rather tactical voting.
By linking their Hugo recommendations to a larger cause – namely, putting those insufferable progressives in their place – the Puppies have effectively encouraged their small-but-loyal pack of supporters to nominate works based on a political agenda – not the works themselves, not even their own individual preferences. That’s the issue. Not campaigning for particular works, but rendering the works themselves a meaningless consideration.
“Paulk the Vote” – May 31
According to Erin, Kate Paulk has been tapped to take over the dog pound, and she’s already promised that next year’s puppy-approved slatecraft will be done in a “transparent and democratic manner”.
If this is truly the case, I have a modest proposal to make:
Let’s rock the vote.
No slates. No cheating. Just show up 7 months from now and vote for the same SJW message fiction, or the same gun-totting monster mashups, you were gonna nominate anyway. If it’s really democratic, then the outcome won’t be any different than a normal, unpuppied process anyway. Right?
Jim C. Hines
“Publishing 101” – June 1
In the wake of Scalzi’s Big Book Deal, folks have been saying some rather ignorant or ill-informed stuff about how publishing works. I wanted to address a few of those points here.
Let’s start with the easiest, in which folks over on Theodore Beale’s blog claim that by Tor giving Scalzi a $3.4 million advance, they’re “squeezing out” approximately “523 initial advances to new science fiction authors.” In other words, Beale claims that “Patrick Nielsen Hayden and John Scalzi have combined to prevent more than 500 authors from getting published and receiving paid advances.”
This is a particularly egregious bit of ignorance coming from Mister Beale, who fancies himself a publisher.
Publishing is a business. As a business, Tor not only spends money on things like acquiring and publishing books, they also earn money by selling said books. Assuming Scalzi shut out 500 authors assumes that Tor is simply pissing away that $3.4 million. This is a rather asinine assumption. John Scalzi has repeatedly hit the NYT Bestseller list, earned a Best Novel Hugo, and has several TV/film deals in development for his work. Tor buys books from John Scalzi for the same reason they buy books from Orson Scott Card: those books sell a hell of a lot of copies, and earn Tor significant profits.
Very often it’s those profits — the income from reliable bestsellers like Card and Scalzi — that allow publishers to take a chance on new and unknown authors.
Someone out there think the reason I don't write more about Hugos/Puppies is that I'm worried about being controversial. This is dumb. (1/3)
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) June 2, 2015
One, I write about it enough. Two, the idea that my positions on Hugos/Puppies are "controversial" is alternate universe fantasy. (2/3)
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) June 2, 2015
Three, unlike apparently some people, I have a life and career outside of Hugos/Puppies. There are other, more important things. (3/3)
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) June 2, 2015
John C. Wright
With a combination of pity and dismay, I read this
I suspect the Rabids aren’t fans of SF so much as they are “members of the cult of Vox Day.” Partly, this is the only thing that truly seems to explain the works on the slate — the ones that aren’t published by Beale’s own press anyway — the point isn’t that they are any particular thing, the point is that he chose them, and there they are.
But to my infinite amusement, I read the reply: There are, as of last count, 367 vile, faceless minions of the Dark Lord of the Evil Legion of Evil Authors.
And Beale seems to have turned his blog into a tributary to File770. I'm glad he has a trust fund or I'd start to worry for his future.
— Damien Walter (@damiengwalter) June 1, 2015
Larry Correia on Monster Hunter Nation
I had some very interesting business conversations, many of which I can’t post about in public. I was worried that I’d catch flack because of all the negative media attention related to Sad Puppies, and the many CHORFs screaming about how I’ve ruined my career, will never work in this town again, blah, blah, blah. Basically, most of the publishing industry hasn’t heard or doesn’t care about the Hugos, it is a non-issue to them, and those who did talk to me about it were either on my side, or weren’t on my side but thought the stagnant little pond still needed a rock thrown in it.
There were also some interesting political conversations. The vast majority of the publishing folks live around and work in New York and are usually politically liberal. Everybody is nice, but at party conversations, people like me are a weird fly-over, red state curiosity. No, really, I do own like that many guns. I had a fascinating and too brief conversation about how Simon & Schuster realized after Bush’s reelection that there were actually lots of people in America who are not liberal and did not think that way, and maybe they should start some imprints to publish conservative political books, and New York publishing was all like no way, nobody believes that stuff. But S&S started some imprints aimed at conservative audiences and shockingly enough, made buckets of money.
Alexandra Erin on Blue Author Is About To Write
“This JUST In” – June 1
So if you are a Puppy reading this, here’s how you convince the rest of the world that you mean all those high-minded ideals more than the snipping and sniping:
Next year, try actually spreading awareness of the open nature of nominations. Don’t buy into the slate. Don’t take your recommendations and hand them off to someone who may ignore them while assembling a slate of their own picks. Instead do what countless other people have done for years: post your own recommendations directly, as recommendations.
Add an explanation that anyone who buys a supporting membership to Worldcon can nominate their own picks, and bam… you will have just raised awareness of the nomination process.
What does participating in a slate do that furthers that mission? What does making vague, unfounded accusations that past nominees/winners benefited from some shadowy affirmative action program do to advance the cause? What does all the noise and mess and deliberate provocation and stirring up controversy have to do with anything? What does it add?
Dave Freer on Mad Genius Club
Of course people can argue about what the signal meant in the first place. Take the various ‘literary’ awards. What were they intended to do?
1) A recognition of excellence by one’s peers?
2) A recognition of excellence by the public?
3) Promote such excellence – signal to others that that is excellent and they should look?
4) A pat on the back for one of the ‘in’ literary clique’s chums?
Different awards have different purposes, and different values. As a reader and writer only (3) ‘Promote such excellence – signal to others that that is excellent and they should look at the work’ is worth much. Most awards, without careful custodianship, head for (4). At which point they lose their historical value and gradually vanish. They have less and less value as (3), and really (1) and (4) are something only the insecure want, unless they feed (3) – which (4) never does and (1) does badly. To put it brutally, if you need and support an award being (1) or (4) you’re a loser, not big enough for what is a tough profession.
(2) is a different kettle of tea. In real terms you could only get there by systematic polling. It does have a lot of (3) value too, because, true enough, we’re not that different. A book which is really the most popular book around, is worth a look-in. The nearest approximation in sf-fantasy is the Hugos. And it isn’t a great approximation (the sample of readers, by who attends/supports Worldcon is obviously inaccurate, and various problems in the nomination have been exposed by the Puppies. (they’re game-able, they’re not demographically representative of the sf readership) – but it’s the best we’ve got right now. As such it could do a good job for sf. It used to.
Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag on Bloggity-Blog-Blog-Blog
“The Hugos again” – June 1
Of particular interest to me is this notion of giving people who you don’t like bad reviews on books you haven’t read. Let me make this absolutely clear: This is bad behavior. It is wrong. If you have read a book and don’t like it, then it’s fine to give it a bad review.
If you attempted to read a book and found you couldn’t finish it because it was so bad, then yeah, give it a bad review.
But if you simply don’t like the author? Giving their book a bad review without reading it or trying to read it (in good faith) is every bit as bad as, say, nominating a bunch of works for the Hugo awards without reading them first because somebody put together a slate. Yeah, I’m comparing people who give bad reviews based on how they feel about the authors to the self-called “sad puppies” and “rabid puppies”. Both actions are bad faith. Both actions are wrong. Both actions are not worthy of intelligent people.
As David Gerrold says, “If you’re claiming to be one of the good guys, you gotta act like it.”
Vox Day on Vox Popoli
“The descent of literary criticism” – June 1
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. Here’s how it works: You donate money to RAINN, a charity that operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline. (Or to a similar organization in your own country.) You send proof of your donation to Luhrs. And for every $5 you donate, Luhrs will livetweet a page of the book, starting June 11 with the hashtag #readingVD. She will also republish her tweets, with additional commentary, on a chapter-by-chapter basis, on her site, Pretty-Terrible. If people raise $2,000, she’ll do the entire book. (She is currently at $920.)
Yeah, probably not. I’d be considerably more impressed if she’d chosen A THRONE OF BONES instead. And it’s kind of a pity that she didn’t choose THE WORLD IN SHADOW, I would have been genuinely interested to see her reaction to that. I’m rather dubious that 300 tweets that alternate between snarking about how bad the writing is and how stupid the author is will prove to be very entertaining for long.
Chris Kluwe in a comment on io9 – May 29
As someone who livetweeted Milo Yiannopolous’ “poetry” book, Eskimo Papoose, all I can do is wish her the best of luck. That shit is more toxic than Godzilla poop on a radioactive dump site.
Geeky Library Voting Guide
[Combination infographic and voter survey, with a page for each category. Need to log into Twitter to vote.]
Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library
One of the 2015 Best Fanzine nominees. This is a review zine, focused on reviewing science fiction and fantasy short fiction. I did not find that its style or judgments engaged me at all. However, that said, it’s perfectly competent and professional, and for those who connect better with the tone and approach of Tangent Online, this is a valuable service.
Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library
The prose is pedestrian, and just to be absolutely clear: “Pedestrian” prose is not “transparent” prose. Transparent prose requires real skill and craft. The prose here is no more than adequate. It’s certainly no compensation for diffuse and distracting plotting and barely-present character development.
One downside of my interest in the latest Hugo Award flap is that see a lot of uncritical praise for Sarah Monette's "The Goblin Emperor".
— ghost bird (@samdodsworth) June 1, 2015
Dave M. Strom on Dave M. Strom: author of Holly Hansson, superheroine & writer
“Sad Puppies? Or Eye of Argon?” – June 1
At least the Eye of Argon was consistent about spelling out numbers. Although it violates hulls in a slightly grander fashion.
“The disemboweled mercenary crumpled from his saddle and sank to the clouded sward, sprinkling the parched dust with crimson droplets of escaping life fluid.”
There’s more. The same supposedly Hugo-worthy short story [Turncoat by Steve Rzasa] has this sentence. So much wrong in so little space.
“Disabling an enemy warship is not enough; they must be crippled, damaged, destroyed.”
I’m jerked from singular to plural. My sense of opposites is assaulted: in this context, disabled is a synonym for crippled and damaged. I offer this rewrite.
“Disabling an enemy warship is not enough; it must be destroyed.”
Simple, short, and direct. Even a Dalek would smile at that. As for these puppy stories, I urge a vote of no award.
Pluviann on The Kingfishers Nest
The ‘The Parliament of the Beasts and Birds’ is a beautifully written work. It opens with some excellent scene setting. Look at how wonderfully crafted this description is: ….
So, all in all, it was a bit odd. There are some very minor quibbles I can make: the past tense of shine is shone when the verb is intransitive. And Fox trying to wriggle out being called a thief by protesting that he stole meat not animals doesn’t really make sense. But overall, it was well done. The story started strong, meandered along fairly slowly but amusingly, and then took a decided turn for the strange at the end.
Chris Gerrib on Private Mars Rocket
“Hugo Thoughts, Novels” – June 1
My problem with Stars was that I lost track of who was who in the zoo. Nearly every chapter brought new characters, with new conflicts. There were at least three main plot lines opened, and no obvious link between them. Also, I kept feeling that I was missing important bits of back-story, namely the war and relationships between the humans and the aliens.
Now, Goblin Emperor is by no means light reading. It has name issues, in that characters have different names and titles based on marital status and age. Having said that, I found it much less opaque. This was for two reasons – one, Sarah Monette (Addison is an open pen name) kept the point-of-view to one character, who as an outsider needed to have stuff explained to him. Second, the story was not set in a world where there were seven previous books written.
2. Rat Queens Volume 1: Sass and Sorcery – written by Curtis J. Weibe and illustrated by Roc Upchurch (nominated for Best Graphic Story). This bawdy fantasy romp, set in a Tolkienesque secondary universe complete with elves, orcs, and trolls, entertained me from beginning to end. The characters who make up the eponymous Rat Queens – a band of magical (female) adventurers – are unfailingly fun to watch, and are strongly distinguished in their individual designs and personalities. The action is fast-paced, and I’m all for the non-stop violence and low comedy. It’s a hoot, but does it have sufficient gravitas to merit a Hugo Award? Debatable, perhaps… but I wouldn’t be wanting to stand in its way. I rate it a bit below the next item, but it has its attractions.
3. Saga Volume Three – written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Fiona Staples (nominated for Best Graphic Story). Here we have a potential winner. I rate it below Ms. Marvel, but an earlier volume of this complicated, engaging space opera has already won a Hugo Award (in 2013). The characters are worth caring about; the storyline is intriguing; and the overall narrative, when it’s complete, could become a classic of its kind.
Alexandra Erin on Blue Author Is About To Write
Reviewed by John Z. Upjohn, USMC (Aspired)
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is the tale of a young man persecuted past the point of all reason. Only in the sick world of so-called Social Justice would he be held up as a comic figure rather a tragic one to be rescued or, failing that, avenged.
Our story begins when the main character wakes up with gum in his hair. Yet when he went to sleep, it was safely and responsibly in his mouth, where gum belongs. I am sure the SJWs would say that it is his fault for chewing gum in the first place, that he was somehow “asking for it”. They hate victim blaming until the victim is a white straight “CIS-MALE” and then suddenly everything is the victim’s fault. I ask you, is this morality where a person is always wrong 100% based on the gender and race?
If you say it is Alexander’s fault that the gum wound up in his hair, then you are saying he shouldn’t have had it in his mouth. If you are saying that he shouldn’t have had it in his mouth, you are saying he shouldn’t be allowed to chew gum. Who are you to say that he shouldn’t chew gum just because he is a straight white male, or as normal people who don’t notice sex or race would say, a normal person?
My husband Frank has four Hugo awards. Half of everything he owns is mine.Ergo, Brianna Wu has two Hugo awards.
— Brianna Wu (@Spacekatgal) June 1, 2015