Welpendämmerung 6/13

aka Operas in The Collar Cycle by Wagger, also including Das Whinegold, Die Walkies, and Sig-Flea’d

Saturday’s roundup brings you Matthew Foster, Gray Rinehart, Gary McGath, Allum Bokhari, Vox Day, Barry Deutsch, Adam-Troy Castro, A (W) Hendry, Tom Knighton, Eric Flint, George R.R. Martin, Lis Carey, Spacefaring Kitten, Russell Blackford and Ken Richards. (Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editors of the day Octavia, Camestros Felapton and Kyra, as inspired by Scott Frazer’s original idea.)

Matthew Foster at Foster on Film

“What’s the Point? Human Minds and Sad Puppies” – June 13

So, how does this end? Not with Eric persuading or David Gerrold’s call for respect. Not with valentines saying “All is forgiven” and kumbayas. We, humans, are creatures of grudges. We should try to be better beings, but never forget reality while doing so. Those who forget history…

There will be no ending, no defined finish. But there can be, and almost certainly will be, a fading. There will be fewer articles, fewer rants, fewer votes cast for political reasons. It can gently drift away until it is a footnote. Or it can lessen, but still split fandom for years to come. How this works out depends on how it fades. If enthusiasm dies quicker from the anti-pups, the results will be less equality than in recent years, a continuation of the dominance of white authors, a touch less innovation in known writers, a reduction in the quality of writing, and a greater acceptance of minor racism and sexism in fandom, (keeping in mind those grand statements only apply to awards and to a corner of fantasy and science fiction fandom—the Pups are not going to be altering racism in general society—so how big a deal this is to you depends on how close you are to that corner). If it dies quicker in the Pups, things will float closer to how they were: increasing equality, a lessening of dominance of white authors, more innovation, and greater condemnation of racism and sexism (still just in our pocket of fandom—again, don’t get too excited by those lofty phrases). Either way, the effects will not be that large, except for The Hugos, where the awards will lose some of their prestige if the Pups end up more on top, and slowly gain most of it back if the Pups end up on bottom.

Of course things could get worse. New Pup leaders could arise who have the charm of Vox and the mouth of Larry. We could start getting death threats and rape threats.

I expect a very slow fade, with people snapping at each other for a few years at least, and grumbling when alone with their colleagues for many years. I hope the Pups will fade faster, but as it will be most likely determined by general fatigue, there’s no way to know. One “side” could fade faster (keeping in mind there really is only one side to this mess—the Pups are the side; everybody else are just fans who got stuck in a fight they didn’t ask for) if its leaders faded. If Vox or Brad or Larry were to go through some life change, or just get caught up in other matters, the Pups would fade faster and we’d have less Puppy smell. There are no leaders in the fans who dislike the pups, but some, like John Scalzi, David Gerrold, and George R.R. Martin might have more of an effect if they walked away in disgust.

So, what’s my point? Why do I write all these words over so many posts? Partly it is an obsession to support what I think is right, even when it will make very little difference. Partly it is because I know how she felt about the Pups, and would feel about their mess, though she’d have said a great deal less about it. Partly it is to help out friends. Partly it is to whip up the troops as I’d prefer less Puppy smell. Partly it is to be part of the community. But mainly, for me, it is a distraction. Because this was Eugie’s world, it feels a little important, and because it is not what I spent my time doing before, it doesn’t feel lonely, which makes it a good distraction. And that is the point.

 

Gray Rinehart on GhostWriter

“Halfway to the Hugos” – June 13

To aid the casual reader, here’s what I plan to cover in this overly-long post: – My disappointment, but also my ambivalence, at the way things have been characterized – The metaphor I’ve most recently developed to describe the situation I’m in – Some Scripture verses I am trying to hold on to as this process unfolds – My regret at being unable to attend the upcoming ceremony Forewarned is forearmed. Now, knowing what’s coming, if you don’t want to read the rest that’s perfectly fine…..

When the plane landed in Nomination City, some of us were surprised, because we expected to land in Passed-Over-Ville. (Every other time people have told me they nominated one of my stories, I haven’t even made the post-award long list, so I didn’t expect this time to be any different.)

It seemed that the plane had been hijacked. When the flight subsequently took off from Nomination City, en route to Hugotown, the reaction to the hijacking was loud and angry. Some passengers snuck off the plane during the Nomination City stop, and a couple bailed out later; I’m not sure yet if their parachutes worked, if they made safe landings, or if anyone has picked them up out of the wilderness. I hope they’re okay.

The more it looked like a hijacking, the more some people on the ground talked as if they wanted to shoot down the plane; some of them seem determined to do so, even if only with their own personal weapons. Just as worrisome, some of the hijackers have talked as if they want to crash the plane in the middle of Hugotown. My fellow passengers and I are left to wonder if there’s anything we can do to improve our chances of survival.

I’ve been in touch with my friends, both inside and outside the community of fans, throughout the ordeal. Those who contributed to my ticket or who like my work or who support me personally almost all told me that they want me to stay aboard, and ride it out. One person advised me to bail out, parachute or no. Outside my relatively small circle of family and friends, from what I can tell quite a few spectators are glued to their computer screens, watching every agonizing minute of the event; I don’t know if they care a whole lot what happens to me or the other passengers….

Some Closing Thoughts. Whenever we value something highly, when we have invested time or treasure in it and derived some reward (however intangible) from it, and that thing is threatened in some way, we rightly resent and are justified in trying to defend against the threat. That is true whether we are talking about our families and friendships, our homes and personal property, our reputations, or institutions with which we identify. I think sometimes we forget that others have the same right, to defend those things which they value.

Based on that, I understand the impulse on the part of longtime WorldCon participants and serious fen to protect the institution and its flagship award. I understand that barbarians storming the gates, brazenly and with unexpected success, is frightening and naturally foments resentment and anger.

I choose the barbarian example deliberately. Outsiders are labeled barbarians not because that is what they call themselves, but because their language is incomprehensible to the insiders — to the refined ears of the citizens it sounds like “bar-bar-bar” (which among science fiction convention-goers is not, in itself, damning). But the outsiders do have language and culture, however strange it may seem to the citizens: from their own point of view they are not barbarians but Goths, Visigoths, or Ostrogoths; Celts, Huns, or Vandals.

This year’s Hugo-nominating barbarians, unlike historical tribes characterized as such, brought alms with which they gained entry into the city and bought their citizenship: the $40 Supporting Membership. And they brought their own opinions — perhaps studiously formed, perhaps informed or even influenced by others – which they expressed in the nomination process. They joined the community, but some of the original citizens still see them as barbarians, as outsiders, and seethe. I understand that, and I have seen the results in some of the reviews and comments about my own nominated story.

So I offer this: Reading should be a pleasure and a joy, and if any Hugo Award voter is upset at the way my novelette wound up on the ballot and has not read it yet, I encourage them and give them my full permission to ignore my entry completely.

 

Gary McGath on Building My World

“On the Sad Puppies” – June 13

I’ve kept my distance from the “Sad Puppies” controversy in the Hugo Awards. I’m not registered for the upcoming World Science Fiction Convention, and I don’t follow a lot of current science fiction, so I couldn’t cast an informed vote without a lot of extra work. I have noticed quite a bit of nastiness from the anti-Puppy faction, including sniping at the people nominated because of the Sad Puppy and Rabid Puppy slates. If you dislike the methods of promotion, that’s fine, but attacking people for being nominated and failing to decline the nomination isn’t. It exemplifies the growing illiberalism and intolerance that I’ve seen in fandom….

There’s an outside chance that my Tomorrow’s Songs Today could be nominated next year in the category of “best related work,” and I’ve thought about whether I’d want that. Some people would very likely lump me, because of my views, with the Puppy faction, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few alleged friends turn on me. If it happens, I think I’d do more good by giving them reasoned responses than by running away from the situation.

 

Allum Bokhari on Breitbart.com

“TORpedoed! Media narrative on Hugo Awards incorrect, says Tor Books founder” – June 13

Because their chief opponents were a set of hard-line progressive authors hell-bent on ostracizing anyone who challenged their ideology, the Puppies were attacked by multiple media outlets as a force of ‘white male reaction’.

This panicked narrative has taken yet another blow after an intervention by Tim Dohety, the founder and president of Tor books, one of the most influential publishing houses in sci-fi. Writing on the Tor’s blog, the 43-year veteran of the publishing industry acknowledged that media stories portraying the Sad Puppies as a racist, sexist campaign aimed at promoting white men was entirely inaccurate.

 

Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“Bokhari on the Tor debacle” – June 13

We are admittedly making some minor, if encouraging, dents in the ongoing SJW onslaught. But while we should be encouraged, we should not be complacent or think that what we have accomplished will not be undone in a heartbeat if we stop paying attention and slip back into pushover mode.

And while it’s great to see the Publisher at the largest SF/F publishing house disavowing the SJW thought-policing in which some of Tor’s editors have engaged for the last decade or more, that doesn’t mean that he is absolved of the need to get his house in order. I have heard, from different sources this time, that Tor Books is very much concerned about the prospect of a boycott, particularly one that is supported by SF/F authors.

Which is interesting, because so far they have been unwilling to do the one thing that will end the matter. Indeed, Tor Books appears to have decided to stand by the broad spectrum insults of its Creative Director and its Associate Publisher. So, let’s see what Macmillan will do. And if they won’t do anything either, well, at least we will know that we gave them every chance to avoid what they apparently wish to avoid.

The key to Tor’s intransigence is their belief that the “thousands of emails” they have received are from “bots”. This is the same narrative #GamerGate has encountered to attempt to minimize its numbers. Therefore, we will need to find a way to demonstrate to Macmillan that those “thousands of emails” represent “thousands of bookbuyers”.

 

 

Adam-Troy Castro on Facebook – June 12

You know, there are an awful lot of people weighing in on this Sad Puppy situation, and it’s impossible to single out the very stupidest thing anybody’s said, not when some of the more stupid things actually qualify as signs of mental illness. But Edward Trimnell’s characterization of the kind of fiction the Sad Puppies think they’re advocating against, as excerpted on File 770 this morning, is certainly a monument.

 

A (W) Hendry

“Totally No Homophobe” – June 13

….Now, I’m not saying that straight white dudes don’t have it slightly easier than everyone else -we live in a society where the ruling class have fostered racism, sexism, and homophobia for centuries to suit their own ends- but the portrayal of heterosexuality, whiteness, or maleness as privileges has the effect of turning our focus away from the things we should be fighting -oppression, injustice, capitalism and class society- onto those things that we can not, and should not, fight -ourselves. The privileges identified by those who take an intersectional approach are unlike the privilege that 99% of the population think of when they hear the term: economic privilege. Unlike economic privilege these privileges can be neither given up nor adopted –no matter how hard some may try– and so, in practical terms, all a focus on them can do is turn introspection into a form of faux activism. It also has the effect of making those with the privileges the centre of attention -which is probably why it is so popular with white middle class kids- rather than the people experiencing the various manifestations of oppression…..

Now, to segue wildly back towards the topic of the Puppies and internet shit squalls, people like John C Wright and Theodore Beale serve a social purpose. They are there to be mocked and to have the piss taken out of them. That is their purpose and that is the full extent of that purpose. Engaging with them in any way beyond this is a distraction from engaging in actual political activity -something that suits them and their ilk down to the ground- and creating a society that has solidarity at its heart and which therefore would be a place unwelcoming of those who would seek to undermine that solidarity. If that’s what a person wants rather than merely wanting to have their ego stroked.

When people like the Puppies pipe up, as they inevitably will, just point, laugh, and carry on not buying their books.

 

 

Eric Flint

“BRING THE STRUCTURE OF THE HUGO AWARDS INTO THE MODERN WORLD” – June 13

…Today, that structure is hopelessly outdated. Short form fiction is now a very small part of fantasy and science fiction, whether you measure that in terms of money—where it’s now a tiny percentage of the income authors receive—or in terms of readership. It’s certainly a larger percentage of the readers than it is of income, but it’s not more than 10% and it’s probably closer to 5%.

People who are active in fandom are often surprised to hear this and sometimes think it’s nonsense, but that’s because reading short fiction is much more common in fandom than it is in the general audience for F&SF. There are many more people who only read novels than there are people who read any short fiction at all, much less do something like subscribe to a magazine or regularly read anthologies of short fiction…..

But there is a grain of truth lurking beneath their claim, because it is in fact true that there is a quite heavy bias against popular authors in the way the awards are determined—the Nebulas as much the Hugos. That’s not due to anything conscious on anyone’s part, and it’s not due to any sort of deliberate bias or discrimination. It’s simply inherent in the divergence between the reality of the market and the structure of the awards.

When most popular authors work exclusively or almost exclusively in series or multi-volume works like trilogies and quartets (and quintets, and sextets) and 75% of the awards are given out for short fiction, then it is inevitable that most popular authors will never get a Hugo or Nebula award….

I’d recommend replacing the existing four awards with seven, as follows:

Short Story. Anything up to 7,500 words.

Novelette. Between 7,500 and 17,500 words.

Novella. Between 17,400 words and 40,000 words.

Short Novel. Between 40,000 and 80,000 words.

Novel. Any length above 80,000 words so long as it remains within one cover, if it’s a paper edition. If only an electronic edition exists, it cannot exceed 300,000 words (which is pretty much the effective limit of a paper edition).

Multi-volume Stories. Any length above 80,000 words provided: a) it is divided into at least two volumes in paper editions none of which is shorter than 80,000 words or is more than 300,000 words if it exists only in an electronic edition. And b) it must be a completed work.

 

George R.R. Martin on Not A Blog

“Hugo Voting Continues” – June 13

Both supporting and attending members get an electronic “Hugo packet” that will enable you to read many of the works nominated for this year’s rockets. You should do that, no matter what side of the Puppy Wars you are on; we want informed voters. Yes, sadly, IMNSHO this is the weakest Hugo ballot in recent memory, thanks to the Puppy slates… but there’s still some damn strong work there, especially in Novel and Dramatic Presentation. And of course it is possible that your own tastes may differ from mine. So join, read, vote. And fifty years from now, when your fannish grandchildren ask you, “Say, gramps, what did you do in the Great Hugo War?” you’ll have an answer for them.

 

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“Departure Gate 34B, by Kary English” – June 13

Kary English is a nominee for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. This is a gentle, melancholy story about a ghost who doesn’t know they’re now a ghost, and the surviving spouse who still loves, but is ready to move on. Enjoyable, even if not a stand-out.

 

 

Spacefaring Kitten on Spacefaring Extradimensional Happy Kittens

“Dave ‘Cool Beard but Incoherent Rants’ Freer” – June 12

Okay, let’s start with something positive: Freer has managed to include in the Hugo package one blog post that is actually about SFF books and in which the acronym SJW is mentioned (in the comments) only once. Well done!

Freer seems passionate, and I do like passionate people. Too bad he’s passionate about things I find reprehensible, such as defending sexism with this incoherent rant which consists of satire quotes of nobody knows what and run-of-the-mill anti-feminist bullshit that never stops to make an understandable point. The post is turbocharged with obscure references to cases of supposed “misandry” I may not be familiar with. However, after reading the post, I wasn’t inclined to do any research.

 

Russell Blackford on Metamagician and The Hellfire Club

“’Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium’ by Gray Rinehart – Hugo Award voting 2015” – June 13

This is another work nominated in “Best Novelette”, and again we have a competent, thoughtful, but not especially distinguished, space adventure. The underlying theme involves conflict between humans and technologically advanced aliens, in this case the Peshari, a lizard-like bunch with a taste for open skies and a morbid distaste (or more than that) for anything to do with digging into the ground. By my standards, which are not binding on anybody else, “Ashes to Ashes” suffers from being far too talky.

 

Ken Richards on learning the world, one step at a time

“TOM Kratman’s anti war polemic” – June 13

Assembled as a blank slate, ‘newbie’ Maggie is thrust through a vile ‘Boot Camp’ experience, which manipulates and transforms her from an innocent lover of flowers, to a pitiless, immoral killer, always following orders, no matter how reprehensible her actions may be. The sequence recalls the Paris Island Act of ‘Full Metal Jacket’, as we Kratman tells how soldiers are broken as humans and remoulded into unquestioning killers and followers of orders in that age old practice of brutalisation, intended to strip away the since of self, and replace it with the sense of the machine. The final ‘Full Metal Jacket’ reference is saved for the final act, where the scrap metal dealer, the general and the politician (deliberately generic, one-dimensional characters, in contrast to the betrayed heroine) receive, like the brutal drill sergeant, their just reward. Bravo Sir.

669 thoughts on “Welpendämmerung 6/13

  1. “I feel like this is trolling for outrage by aladua. I don’t want to play.”

    Agreed.

  2. @Jim Henley

    That author just can’t help himself!

    (It’s the last entry in the round up, and we’re playing “Dodge The Spam Trap”)

  3. Re: Neutron Star.

    It’s a bit unfair to blame the story for tidal astrophysics being better known now; part of the reason for the story is to teach us about it and when I read it first, as a 12 year old – it was excellent because it informed, amused and worked on my sense of wonder. Carping postfacto that – in the world of the story all the Puppeteers should solve it immediately misses the point – and pre the supermachiavellian Puppeteers of Ringworld et al – the explanation in the story (their world has no moon, hardly any of them are mad enough to even think about space flight mechanics, is perfectly sensible.

    Its that sort of backwards worrying that leads to Nven and his co-writers shovelling a lot of silly its all a big plan nonsense into the Fleet of Worlds series.

  4. (Gravatar test.) Not actually Hugo-related, but I’m currently just about to finish The Birthgrave by Tanith Lee. (DAW just rereleased it, and it seemed an appropriate choice in light of her passing.)

  5. The ESA Philae lander has woken up and is sending back data!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-33126885

    They already have a parody Twitter account. So much for my idea of opening up one of my own for the lander, declaring sentience, and eventually working up to the “I’m so ronery” song from Team America.

    Never mind – I can always reopen the last parody account and see if I can get VD foaming at the mouth again.

  6. @Simon Bucher-Jones:

    It’s a bit unfair to blame the story for tidal astrophysics being better known now; part of the reason for the story is to teach us about it and when I read it first, as a 12 year old – it was excellent because it informed, amused and worked on my sense of wonder. Carping postfacto that – in the world of the story all the Puppeteers should solve it immediately misses the point

    I daresay we disagree what “the point” is and that “It worked for a 12-year-old” isn’t necessarily the end of the discussion.

    Basically, once Niven worked out the problem of tidal forces around a super-dense stellar body he forgot to “ask the next question.” That’s a failure of world-building. It is genuinely interesting that this failure of world-building doesn’t ruin the story for many people in many times for many reasons: it suggests among other things that world-building is not necessarily a deal-breaker in SF. But it’s still a failure of world-building, plain and simple.

    Fun fact: It was Pournelle who first voiced the “The story could never actually happen” complaint.

  7. I don’t much like the idea of an award for “sagas” or series. there are relatively few true multivolume novels like LotR. More common are trilogies or other short sequences, where it seems to make sense to award the individual separately published parts, which often have distinct identities.(e.g Ancillary Justice, Acceptance). And then there are longer series, e.g. the Vorkosigan novels, where the author just keeps writing stories with some of the same characters and settings. If fans want to recognize favourite series like this, fine, but it seems inconsistent with the idea of giving awards to individual works.

  8. You do realize that people here are not actually the way the Puppies say we are. We’re not so far as I can see interested in ginning up mobs of Puppy-hate.

    Alauda seems to be trying to run a “let’s you and him fight” game here.

  9. Jim Henley: Basically, once Niven worked out the problem of tidal forces around a super-dense stellar body he forgot to “ask the next question.”

    If someone wrote a story featuring frame drag around a super-dense body, it might be interesting. Of course, in two generations, sf fans will probably be rolling their eyes and telepathing “Duh – everyone knows about THAT, Grandneuter”.

  10. @Jim Henley – I think that the fact it worked for and amused an 18 year-old actually is the point. Niven’s stories are not so much about world-building as puzzle solving, and I loved them for that. Neutron Star is still my favourite short-story collection.

  11. Ken Richards is my hero of the day, after that review and response to Mr. K.

  12. @Jim Henley

    Oh yes. I want to leave a congratulatory comment, but I couldn’t bear it if he broke character, so I’ll just have to admire from afar.

  13. I am so glad you all liked The Steerswoman series by Rosemary Kirstein. They are wonderful and I want everyone to read them!

    I apologize for turning you on to them in the middle of the wait for volumes 5-7. Signs on her blog are hopeful that now that her cancer treatments are behind her, she’s picking up the pace.

  14. I would like to add to the voices skeptical of the utility of adding a “best saga” category.

    There might be some utility in combining adding a “short novel” category either by combining it with novella or by combining novella and novelette — I think that would satisfy people clamoring for a special YA novel category, since “shorter word count” is one of the usual distinguishing features of YA. (Which could account for some of its current popularity, I think.)

    I also think there would be utility in really clarifying the rules about what constitutes publication year, especially when it comes to online, podcast, self-publishing and other peculiarities of the modern era.

    I might be sponsoring a Hugo rule change that would extend eligibility for the first two years of publication. My husband Paul suggested it and my immediate reaction was “that’s brilliant!” although I’ve had a little trouble quantifying why it originally struck me as so perfect. I think it’s because I was right in the middle of The Girl With All the Gifts, which I was loving, but didn’t read until after the nominating period closed. I didn’t nominate at all this year, so I’m still kicking myself for being part of the problem. And I suspect a two-year eligibility period would encourage more participation in the nominating phase, especially for novel.

    I would also like to understand what makes something a semi-prozine. I’ve been going to Worldcon since 1993 and I still don’t really get it.

  15. I didn’t click through on the Richards’ review link last night, reading only the synopsis posted here. After reading the comments here, I clicked through this morning. I may just check out the rest of his site, just because of his review and his reply.

  16. @Paul Oldroyd: He’s no John Varley but I always liked Niven’s short stories too. My single favorite is surely “Convergent Series”.

  17. @CPaca:

    Of course, in two generations, sf fans will probably be rolling their eyes and telepathing “Duh – everyone knows about THAT, Grandneuter”.

    This is almost epic point-missing. It’s not about what fans know. It’s about what the inhabitants of the fiction know.

  18. @Kyra…
    “I’m vaguely picturing some post-apocalyptic landscape where all are forced to make book recommendations on file770, the last remaining website.”

    “770-1437362954” awoke as he began performing his morning ritual.

    He opened with a whispered, reverent creed: “To the Glyer, everything is owed. From us, our SFF fandom recommendations must be given.” He then disconnected his Aggregator 9000 from its nightly power station.

    He looked around the room and spoke into the device. “I recommend ‘Starship Troopers.” He was still sleepy and it was a lazy choice, the same one he had made earlier in the week.

    The device replied in a monotone: “Thank you, Aggregator 770-1437362954. This period’s vote will be carried out using single divisible vote with least popular eliminated rules, otherwise known as SDV-LPE. You may select four more recommendations if you wish. But know they will only count fractionally. Until they don’t. The rules are simple and straightforward. Please review your instructions clarifying these simple and straightforward rules in our 32 page document of three parts, eleven subparts. Also, advance notice is given for the mid-day voting period rules. They will be carried out using quantum double-selected, quadruple-elimination with most popular eliminated, or QDS-QE-MPE. The associated description of those rules will be briefly summarized in an accompanied 1,324 page manual. You will be expected to know the simple and straightforward rules by that time. E Pluribus Hugo, Aggregator 770-1437362954.”

    Fifty-four quickly responded in kind, “E Pluribus Hugo.”

    Fifty-four rubbed his temples. Voting had been so much easier before the Dog Wars destroyed the world. It was a terrible thing to watch first hand as a civilization died from a lack of civility. And Fifty-four was old enough to have survived the those times — even the worst of the fighting of 2019 when the atomics and bioweapons started being deployed. He checked his Aggregator 9000 and saw he still had some time left to complete his recommendations, if he chose to make any more, which could count on the final ballot, or not, depending on how many people agreed with him, or not.

    He thought about how it would be nice to take a morning stroll after being cooped up in his ever so small cubicle. But that was stopped after the Slate Cullings of 2021. The initial recommendation-based society had quickly imploded as people found they could convince others of their recommendations. Soon, what had begun as cliques grew into gangs, and then armies, and then nation states. Finally, after the tactics had become so vile, the last people left alive on earth set about enshrining rules for the recommendations that could never be gamed. One of the side effects is that all human contact with one another was stopped.

    So, Fifty-four sat in his box. Alone. Thinking of whether he should maintain the strength of his single vote, or dilute it for a time by adding more.

    That was odd. Lights blinked on his Aggregator 9000. That never happened before. But there it was. A series of blinks. Some long. Some short. Suddenly, an epiphany struck Fifty-four. The sequence was Morse code, but for the life of him, Fifty-four could not remember what letters the dits and dahs represented.

    “Aggregator 9000, I wish to review Robert Elmer’s A Way Through the Sea before I consider recommending it.” The blinking lights stopped for a moment as the device answered. The story was one of a children’s book series that Fifty-four read when he was eight. It was a work of speculative fiction based on the backdrop of World War II. In 1943, when the Germans plan to send all Danish Jews to prison camps, the twins Peter and Elise along with their friend Henrik attempt to flee to Sweden. A notable, at least for his age, plot point was the extensive use of Morse Code.

    Fifty-four typed in a scan for the word “morse.” The text of the novel appeared on the screen, and included an introduction to and summary of the communication method, including a examples of the letters.

    “A Way Through the Sea” has been uploaded to your viewing station. Be advised this period’s voting duration is nearly complete. E pluribus Hugo.”

    “E Pluribus Hugo.”

    Fifty-four quickly got down to the work of trying to decipher the code. “M.” Something. Dammit. The kids’ book wasn’t a manual on Morse code, it just had a handful of examples within the text to show the reader the code in practice. What’s a damn novel that gives the entire Morse code key? He passed the missing leter by to see what else there was. “L.” Ok. “E.” That was it. A four-letter message. “Male?” Well, coming at the end of the Dog Wars was a bloody transitionary period where the various factions first began threatening to rape and murder the opposition or falsely accuse the other side of rape and murder, and then actually began stepping up hostilities to include rapes and murders. Of course, the solution was to divide society into males and females and forbid contact between the sexes; at first everyone was free to identify their own gender. But after a horrible insurgency by both sides falsely identifying their gender, the state itself began assigning genders on an equitable basis. “Mile?” “Mole?” Again the lights flashed. And Fifty-four transcribed more code. “–. ” Dammit, he missed that one. “A.” “R.” I.” Thankfully, the message repeated. “H.” The first letter was “h.” Fifty-four laughed. “Harry Mole?” No, I need to be serious.

    “Greetings Aggregator. This message is to alert you that review nominations for the current cycle will end in 2 minutes. E Pluribus Hugo.”

    “E Pluribus Hugo.” Fifty-four responded. “I wish to amend my prior nomination. I wish to nominate Foundation by Isaac Asimov.”

    “Your vote has been am…” The device clicked and whirred. And then shrieked as a new voice came online. “770-1437362954, thank god we’ve finally reached you. You don’t know me, but help is on the way.”

    “Who are you?”

    “We don’t refer to ourselves as numbers anymore, Fifty-four. We’ve broken through to a new society. You can call me ‘Shitbag Racist,’ or SR for short. Your new name is Shut-the-fuck-up-I-hope-you-die, or ‘STFUIHYD. We’ll be in touch.'”

    Silly But True

  19. So now, what does File 770 mean? The SJW has full permission on his post including deletion, as do all other SJWs (the group), and the world has no permission to see, edit, or delete the post. This is their world. Insular and hateful.

    I… what? What the hell does that even mean? Who has these permissions? Who is the group? How does editing privileges make us — err, them, because I know I don’t have an edit or delete button! — insular and hateful?

    This is crazytalk.

  20. Stephenfromottawa

    I think CJ Cherryh’s ‘Foreigner’ series is a case in point; CJ is constrained by the market’s desire nowadays for long series, which rather takes her out of contention in the way the Hugos are currently structured.

    Sure, she already has Hugos but the Foreigner series is some of her best work, and I think that Eric has made a good case for changing the structure to reflect the market as it is today.

  21. I find discussion of tides around massive super-dense objects in the film Interstellar, and in Crash Course: Astronomy. I’d have to say that it’s not the sort of thing that would surprise anyone six centuries from now.

    An interesting challenge would be to come up with someone that would be a genuine surprise given the accumulated experience of the Puppeteers.

  22. rob_matic:”I can see where VD gets the idea from that he’s super-intelligent. He interacts with his commenters every day.”
    Yup, possessing fairly arcane Unix knowledge is a sure sign of stupidity.

    Do better.

  23. I would also like to understand what makes something a semi-prozine

    Seconded!

    StephenFromOttawa on June 14, 2015 at 10:45 am said:

    I don’t much like the idea of an award for “sagas” or series. there are relatively few true multivolume novels like LotR. More common are trilogies or other short sequences, where it seems to make sense to award the individual separately published parts, which often have distinct identities.(e.g Ancillary Justice, Acceptance)

    That’s interesting, because Ancillary Sword probably isn’t going to get my top vote because it feels so much like a ‘middle’ novel. There’s backstory that you need to have read Justice to understand, and there’s plenty of threads left hanging for the next book. It’s not satisfying by itself.
    I think I’d like to be able to give an award to trilogies – I think even if they are separated into three distinct books (story arcs) they still count as one story.

    McJulie on June 14, 2015 at 11:06 am said:

    I also think there would be utility in really clarifying the rules about what constitutes publication year […] I might be sponsoring a Hugo rule change that would extend eligibility for the first two years of publication.

    Please do! I think there’s support out there for extending the eligibility period.

  24. McJulie –

    Per the WSFS Constitution:

    3.3.12: Best Semiprozine. Any generally available non-professional periodical publication devoted to science fiction or fantasy, or related subjects which by the close of the previous calendar year has published four (4) or more issues (or the equivalent in other media), at least one (1) of which appeared in the previous calendar year, which does not qualify as a fancast, and which in the previous calendar year met at least one (1) of the following criteria:

    (1) paid its contributors and/or staff in other than copies of the publication,

    (2) was generally available only for paid purchase,

  25. @ Ultragotha:
    Many thanks! I love Anna Russell: “Remember the Rhine?”

    And I love her RP diction: “Ahftah twenty ahrs, hwhat do you think you heah?”

    And of course she saved me 20 hours … I also love her piece on how to write your own Gilbert and Sullivan operetta.

  26. @McJulie
    I like the idea of a longer nomination eligibility period. I know I can’t keep up with everything out there.

  27. I’m opposed to any change to the fiction categories. The “Best Saga” proposal doesn’t fix any existing problem but does create new ones. The multiple short fiction prizes reward writers who express their ideas succinctly rather than at big commercial length, and I’m in favour of that. I won’t be at the Business Meeting myself but I hope that those who are there reject these proposals.

  28. Re: multi-volume sagas as a category – I’d love to see it, but I don’t think there would be enough of them to field 5 different ones each year, especially if the rule is that they have to be complete to be eligible.

  29. @Jim Henley – The “In the Hall of the Martian Kings” collection is only just squeezed out by Neutron Star.

  30. I wouldn’t mind there being a “best series” award of some kind, but I’m not fond of the way Best Saga has been written, or Eric Flint’s alternate suggestion.

  31. An amusing deconstruction of Nutty Nuggets:

    Social and political comment in SF isn’t some addendum, something which popped out of a creative writing class on post-Marxist theory. It’s what SF is. It’s the fundamental matter of which it is comprised.

    SF has social comment running through it like a quark through a proton. You might not see it but take it away you have nothing left. The question ‘what might we become?’ is SF’s central concern and it is fundamentally one of society and politics

    Much longer article at http://fantasy-faction.com/2015/breakfast-of-bullshit-futurephobia-the-hugos-and-the-invention-of-sfs-past

  32. “As you can see, Mr. Shaffer, it is quite gruesome.”
    I shuddered. “Tidal forces, I assume.”
    “It almost goes without saying, Mr. Shaffer,” the Puppeteer said. The mouth on its other head kept opening and closing like it too wanted to say something.
    “There’s a but, isn’t there?”
    “These were astrophysicists, Mr. Shaffer. Supposedly. We at General Products realize nobody reads the manual.” Here the other head did mouth ‘fucking’. “But tidal forces are a straightforward implication of 1/r^2. How could two astrophysicists, specifically on their way to study a neutron star, not have taken precautions?”
    That was a good question. I couldn’t see any way it wouldn’t be dangerous getting the answer.

  33. @Kary English

    I’m ambivalent on the need for some sort of series award myself, but to address your issue perhaps a longer eligibility period and/or not awarding annually?

  34. McJulie, the short answer to “what makes something a semi-prozine” is that Locus, which had started out as a few-pages mimeographed fanzine, had morphed into something that no longer resembled what the core of fanzine fandom recognized as a fanzine, but its circulation was so large that it was winning the “Best Fanzine” Hugo year after year, because it got nominated by so many people who didn’t see any other (“real”) fanzines. My impression was that the rules for semi-prozine were carefully crafted, initially, to define Locus out of the fanzine category, to leave room in the fanzine category for more traditional fanzines such as File 770 (which won the first year that Locus became ineligible), Ansible, Lan’s Lantern, Mimosa, etc.

  35. Ahe:
    “I lurk, mostly.
    I just want to come out of my cave and say how much I love this site, all you people with these wonderful book recommendations and sane comments on this case of the horrible puppies.
    Only I think I must stop buying books now, because when will I have time to read them all? It takes all day to keep up with the comments. I think I have developed an addiction.
    I have stopped reading the puppy slate works. I started to read in an effort to be fair, but I also read what the puppy leaders write and now I have had enough. It’s no award all the way for the slates. I will read some of your recommended books instead. Life is too short for puppy nonsense.”
    Thank you. Another one proving the sad puppies’ point.

  36. @ Lis Carey
    Hey! I nobly sacrifice myself reading and reviewing all the Puppy nominees so you don’t have to, and I don’t rate the magic edit button? Horror! Outrage!

    And I appreciate it SO MUCH. When I bounce off after the first page or two, I always go check your blog out to find if there’s any reason I should slog through any more. You’re a hero.

  37. I am happy to read series and trilogies but I think that voting on a Hugo Ballot that contained even five *trilogies* (and many series run much longer than that) would be more reading than I could manage between the time the Hugo packet came out and the time of the voting deadline. I also think it would become noticeably harder to persuade publishers to include so many books in the Hugo packet.
    I could gain myself more time by buying all fifteen books, since I wouldn’t have to wait for the packet, but the cost of that would mount up quickly, even if they were all available in mass market paperback.
    I don’t see that working.

  38. Morris Keesan: If there had only been one semiprozine at the time (Locus) there wouldn’t have been a category created for them. By then there was a whole handful of zines generating income that supported their editors in part or in full — Richard Geis’ Science Fiction Review, Andrew Porter’s Starship and Science Fiction Chronicle, were some of the other successful graduates from the ranks of fanzines.

  39. @ Spellproof

    Welcome! A word of advice from a Dresden Files fan — if you decide to buy a book, don’t buy Skin Game buy Storm Front which is the first in the series. That way at least you’ll understand what the heck is going on.

    It’s been said several times on File 770 that the worst thing that can happen to the Puppy nominees is that their contributions will be read. This sadly includes Butcher, who writes a very fun series but had the ill fortune to get book 15 put on the ballot.

    @ Chris Hensley

    Everybody knows that Mike chiseled the first File 770 from stone tablets, but it didn’t really take off til that Gutenburg fellow.

    What, that old Libriomancer? Color me unsurprised!

  40. Also, welcome to all the ex-lurkers and lurkers! (Something I was not all that very long ago myself before I started feeling chatty.)

    Books I have read directly as a result of this whole kerfuffle:
    The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
    City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett
    The Southern Reach Trilogy (Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance) by Jeff VanderMeer
    Lightspeed Magazine, June 2014 (Women Destroy Science Fiction special issue)

    Books I am soon to read directly as a result of this whole kerfuffle:
    Pyramid Waltz by Barbara Ann Wright
    Daughter of Mystery by Heather Rose Jones
    Primary Inversion by Catherine Asaro
    The Kingdoms of Dust by Amanda Downum
    Biting the Sun by Tanith Lee
    The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
    Century Rain by Alistair Reynolds
    Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes
    The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman
    The Girls With All the Gifts by M. R. Carey
    Saturn’s Children by Charles Stross

    Books I plan to eventually read as a result of this whole kerfuffle:
    The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan
    City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff VanderMeer
    The Etched City by K J Bishop
    The Buried Life by Carrie Patel
    Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilhelm
    Touch by Claire North
    In The Now by Kelly Sinclair
    The Black Flame by Stanley G. Weinbaum
    The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne

    So, you know, keeping it within reasonable bounds. :/

  41. @Ultragotha
    Thank you. I’m pretty sure I’ve read those words before, but somehow they never really sink in — you know, where I have an internalized sense for whether something is or is not a semi-prozine.

    @Morris
    Thank you for the context! That helps me understand why this category has always seemed so odd to me.

    I’ll probably even stop muttering “what the heck is a semi-prozine?” under my breath every time it comes up in the Hugo ceremony.

  42. Mark on June 14, 2015 at 11:21 am said:
    An amusing deconstruction of Nutty Nuggets

    I noticed that William Gibson tweeted this with approval today.

Comments are closed.