The Hammer of Tor 6/19

aka Sad Puppies Strictly Cash

Peter Grant, Vox Day, John Wright, Chris Meadows, Adam, Steve Davidson, Natalie Luhrs, Alexandra Erin, Nick Mamatas, Lela E. Buis, Lawrence Person, Soon Lee, Lis Carey, Melina D, Joe Sherry, and May Tree. (Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editors of the day William Reichard and Rev. Bob.)

Peter Grant on Bayou Renaissance Man

”The Tor boycott is on” – June 19

Regrettably, due to the apparent lack of action by (and the deafening silence from) Tor and Macmillan, the time has come to do as I promised.  I therefore ask all those who believe, as I do, that the recent statement by Irene Gallo, and the pattern of behavior and statements from others at Tor whom I’ve previously named, are completely unacceptable, to join me in refusing to buy any of Tor’s products from now on. I support and endorse what Larry Correia said about this yesterday.

… this is between Tor and its readers who feel insulted, not the Sad Puppies campaign or the people who ran it … To the Sad Puppies supporters, do what you think is right. All I’m asking is that whatever you do, try to be as civil as possible in your disagreements. Stick with the facts.

There’s much more at the link.  (Recommended reading for background and more information.)

I am not a member of, and I do not speak for, either the ‘Sad Puppies’ or ‘Rabid Puppies’ campaigns (although I support the former).  I don’t represent cute puppies, playful puppies, cuddly puppies or hush puppies – only myself.  If you share, in whole or in part, my values and outlook on life, I invite you to join me in this boycott.  Don’t do so just because I, or anyone else, is asking you to do so.  Act on the basis of your own informed conscience and reasoned judgment.

There are those who protest that a boycott of Tor will prevent them buying books they want to read, and/or hurt their favorite authors.  I can only point out that used copies of those books are usually available from many sources soon after publication, often in very good to excellent condition, and sometimes at prices much lower than a new copy.  As for your favorite authors, if you buy a used copy of their book(s), why not send them the money they would have made as a royalty if you’d bought it new?  In fact, given that many royalties are a pittance, why not send them more than that?  Many authors have so-called ‘tip jars’ on their blogs or Web sites, or you can write to them enclosing a check or money order.

There are those who doubt that a boycott can achieve anything.  I can only reply that ‘doing the right thing’ is important in itself.  It’s a matter of honor – and although any mention of honor may be greeted with scorn and derision in these ‘modern’ times, I was raised to value the concept and live by it.  I still do.  I doubt I’m alone in that.

What’s more, in a SF/F market that’s increasingly dominated by independent authors, with cratering sales among mainstream publishers and tight financial margins, even a small boycott may have an impact out of all proportion to its size.  I’m certain, on the basis of support already voiced, that we can achieve a short-term six-figure reduction in Tor’s annual turnover.  All that’ll take is a couple of thousand people not spending their usual $50 per year on Tor books (and many have, until now, spent a lot more than that – for example, see here).  With more supporters and/or bigger spenders involved, the impact will be correspondingly greater.  I believe that over time, as word spreads and more join the boycott, we can grow this into a seven-figure annual impact – particularly when, in markets where we have a strong presence, we start talking to bookstores that carry Tor products.  Given current economic conditions and the present and predicted state of the SF/F market, our boycott may in due course make the difference between a profit and a loss in Tor’s annual trading accounts.

 

Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“Tor boycott announced” – June 19

As you can see, I have been a Tor Books customer since 1986, when I bought a mass market paperback copy of The Edge of Tomorrow, by Isaac Asimov. And because I have considerably more experience of Tor Books and the consistently abusive and unprofessional behavior of its senior employees, I will go a little further than Mr. Grant has. Until Irene Gallo and Patrick Nielsen Hayden are no longer employed by Tor Books or Tor.com, I will not:

  1. Purchase any books published by Tor Books
  2. Read any books published by Tor Books

Given (2), this means that if Ms. Gallo and Mr. Nielsen Hayden are still employed by Tor Books in 2016, I will not nominate any books published by Tor Books for any awards. I encourage those who deem Ms. Gallo’s behavior to be unprofessional and unacceptable to follow Mr. Grant’s lead and join the Tor Books boycott. I am the leader of the Rabid Puppies, I do speak for them, and I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that they will follow my lead in this regard. I am not concerned about whether the boycott is “successful” or not. The simple fact is that if Macmillan is at all interested in the long-term success of Tor Books, it will jettison both Ms Gallo and Mr. Nielsen Hayden on the basis of their disloyalty, their unprofessional behavior, and their repeated violations of the Macmillan Code of Conduct, regardless of what any outside parties may happen to believe. I simply won’t have anything to do with Tor Books as long as those two individuals are employed there.

 

John C. Wright

“Embargo On” – June 19

Since I am Tor author and hitherto have been very proud of my association with that fine and famous imprint, I am fascinated (if mildly aghast) that the Tor management has allowed the situation to degenerate to this point.

Because of a financial conflict of interest on my part, it would be untoward of me to express fulsome support and applause for the boycott, and tell the boycotters their position is the principled and correct stand.

Nor will I point out, because it is obvious, that if you buy my books from Tor, then some part of your precious book-buying dollars goes into the wages of several people at Tor (but by no means all, or even most) who hate both you and me with a sick and soul-destroying hatred, a hatred like a disease that withers the heart and rots the brain.

Nor will I point out, because it should also be obvious, that any Christian gentleman would be willing to forgo a worldly reward of your generous book-buying dollars if he may have your spiritual reward of your loyalty instead. If the gentle reader feels compassion for me in my hour of need, or fears the boycott will harm my finances, I have a tip jar on this page.

So I cannot express support for this boycott.

The people with whom I work, my editor and cover art director, have a perfect right to expect me not to undermine their position, untenable as it may be. If the management wants to set the company policy as one of indifference to our patrons and clients on whom our livelihood depends, or contempt, or enmity, or loathing, that business decision is in their bailiwick.

 

Chris Meadows on Teleread

“Sad Puppies supporters, opponents respectively call for boycott, buying of Tor books”   – June 19

However, even leaving aside that Vox Day certainly does speak for the Rabid Puppies, what Correia and Grant miss is that, as a grass-roots movement (I was going to say “ostensibly grass-roots,” but what the heck, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt), “Sad Puppies” doesn’t really have a true “leadership” to speak for it at this point. Whether you’re an official “member” or not, if you identify with the movement, you’re going to be identified with the movement, especially by the movement’s opponents.

Make a lot of noise in support of Sad Puppy goals, and voila, you’re a Sad Puppy, and anything you do reflects on them. And likewise, anything the rest of them do reflects on you—which is why the Puppies movement as a whole is, rightly or wrongly, often tarred with the black brush that most accurately applies only to Vox Day and others like him. (Indeed, it’s why a lot of people use “Sad Puppies” as a shorthand to refer to both the Sad and Rabid Puppies.) And it’s why anti-Puppies (some have suggested the term “Happy Kittens”) feel justified in calling this a “Sad Puppies” boycott.

 

Adam on The Noisy Rogue

“The Boycott of Tor Books” – June 19

Even John C Wright, one of Tor’s own published writers, is unable to express support for Tor in this situation. Make your own minds up, dear readers. But rest assured that the culture wars have not been lost. They were only originally winning in the first place because our side couldn’t be bothered turning up. Now it’s on.

 

Steve Davidson on Amazing Stories

“Today is Buy From Tor Day” – June 19

Just a reminder that if you would like to express support for Irene Gallo, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Moshe Feder and TOR books, today is the day to go out and buy a TOR book.

You can learn a bit more about this here.

 

Peter Grant on Bayou Renaissance Man

“Moshe Feder doubles down (again) on the lies” – June 19

Friends, I give you Moshe Feder on Facebook earlier today:

Feder 2015-06-19 Facebook screen capture

….I’m still not going to call for the resignation or dismissal of any of the Tor employees I’ve named.  Nevertheless, if I needed any more justification for why I’m boycotting Tor, Mr. Feder has provided it.  I suppose I should thank him for that – and if he wishes to call me an ‘idiot’, well, I’ve been called a lot worse than that in my time.  Furthermore, for all Mr. Feder’s vitriol directed against him, he’s just made Vox Day look like a sensible, reasonable participant in this debate.  Vox might want to thank him, too . . .

 

 

 

 

Lela E. Buis

“Adding fuel to the flames” – June 19

What ever happened to that discussion about the Hugos?

What Hugos?

By this time, it should be fairly clear that the current debacle has nothing to do with the Hugo Awards. It isn’t really about the liberal versus conservative content of a few Tor books, either. I concede that there may be an ideological component to the attack. If Day is a a “fundamentalist Southern Baptist,” as he has been characterized, then it is likely that he’s offended by liberal viewpoints in general. Still, that’s no reason to go after Tor in particular. Publication of LGBTQ novels, for example, has been increasing across all major publishers in the last few years. Tor has no franchise on liberalism.

That makes it more likely that Day has launched a personal vendetta undercover of the conflict over the Hugo Awards. He has moved from naming Irene Gallo to Moshe Feder to Patrick Nielsen Hayden in the last few days. Most likely this is his actual target. Hayden is the man quoted in news reports announcing John Scalzi’s recent $3.4 million contract with Tor.

It’s a vendetta, folks. Day is pursuing a long-running feud with John Scalzi. That means that anyone who supports Day’s flame war by responding to him is only perpetuating the problem. Tor has got it right. It’s time to hunker down and wait him out.

 

Lawrence Person on Battleswarm Blog

“Sad Puppies Redux (Or Why That Tor Boycott Won’t Work)” – June 19

Since then, a few people on Twitter have been calling for a boycott of Tor Books over the incident. About this I would just like to make a few points:

  • Though the editorial stuff does lean toward the SJW side, plenty of conservative authors are published by Tor.
  • An ad hoc, Twitter-organized boycott is deeply unlikely to work. Given the way book sales are tracked, it’s unlikely the financial effects of any boycott would stand out from sales figures more than background noise. Most SF readers probably aren’t even active on Twitter, and even fewer have been following every twist and turn of the Sad Puppy Saga.
  • Given that Tor is a very small part of the Bertelsmann international conglomerate, chances are even less likely that that any boycott would be effective or even noticed.
  • Larry Correia has categorically stated that the Sad Puppies are not calling for any boycotts. He also notes, as he invariably does, “All I’m asking is that whatever you do, try to be as civil as possible in your disagreements.”

So put me down in the category of thinking a boycott is foolish, pointless and counterproductive.

One big point on the Sad Puppies campaign: Most recent domestic Worldcons have topped out in the 4,000-6,000 members range. I recently bought a Supporting Membership in Sasquan, and my membership number was in the 9,000s. This tends to indicate that the Hugos have indeed become a test of strength in the culture wars.

 

 

 

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“Sucker Punch, by Eric S. Raymond” – June 19

Eric S. Raymond is a 2015 nominee for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. This is a perfectly competently written MilSF…vignette. It’s not a story. It describes a couple of important and unfortunate advances in military weapons and tactics, and presents the resulting dilemma quite poignantly.

 

Joe Sherry on Adventures In Reading

“Thoughts on the Hugo Award Nominees: Novella” – June 19

….The big surprise in this category, at least for me, was Tom Kratman’s Big Boys Don’t Cry. I had expected a very aggressive narrative designed to offend those of a more liberal persuasion, but what I got was a surprisingly graceful story of a dying sentient tank. That may sound weird, but given advancement in artificial intelligence and this being a science fiction story, it works. It works remarkably well, especially the deeper Kratman brings the story into Magnolia’s history.  Yes, there are also some clumsier jabs at how military tactics have been handled by those not committed to the mission or by those who don’t fully understand what it takes to win, and politicians get the sharp end of the stick in that regard (rightly so, in some cases).

If all of Arlan Andrews’ “Flow” was as successful as the second half of the story, I might have been able to move it up another space on my ballot, but unfortunately the beginning of the story was something of a chore to push through. The primitive ice world (a partially frozen post apocalyptic Earth) was tough to take, less because of the writing and more because of what I was wanted / was getting from the story. I’ll willingly take the hit that part of this is on me, but I often bounce off of fiction dealing with significantly more primitive Earth cultures unless the writing / storytelling can just grab a hold of me and make me care about the characters and / or the setting. “Flow” didn’t…until it did, midway through as Rist began to discover more of the world and realized that what his people taught may not be the way things actually work. I’m now curious to find “Thaw”, a previous story in this setting, and move on to “Fall”, the next in the setting.  I’d like to see where Andrews is taking this.

My Vote

1. “Pale Realms of Shade”
2. Big Boys Don’t Cry
3. “Flow”
4. “The Plural of Helen of Troy”
5. No Award
6. One Bright Star to Guide Them

 

Melina D on Subversive Reader

“Hugos 2015 Reading: Short Story” – June 19

Without too much further procrastination, it’s onto the stories. This was another full puppy-supported slate, so – to put it mildly – my expectations of good writing were low. I was pleasantly surprised by one story, meh over a couple of others and (predictably) was ready to set a thousand fires to another.

 

May Tree in a comment on File 770 – June 18

(The original is here if you don’t know it.) The original inspiration for looking at this source material was that “Voxie” rhymes with “Roxie.”

[Excerpt is only one-third of the whole parody.]

[PUPS] Hah! They had it coming! They had it coming! They took a genre in its prime And then they used it And they abused it We’ll slate the Hugos – It’s not a crime!

[SARAH] Now, I’m typing on my blog post, carvin’ up the SJWs for the Puppies, minding my own business, in storms Mike Glyer, in a jealous rage. “You’re a hydrophobe!” he says. He was crazy and he kept posting, “You’re a hydrophobe!” And then he ran into my axiom. He ran into my axiom ten times!

[PUPS] If you’d have been there If you’d have read it I betcha you would have thought the same!

[JULIETTE] Oenq, V nz fbeel, ohg vs lbh jvyy or ynoryvat zr nf n fnq chccl V jvyy unir gb nfx lbh gb jvguqenj zr sebz lbhe yvfg. Lbh qvq abg fnl lbh jrer tbvat gb or pnyyvat vg gur Fnq Chccvrf yvfg. V srry yvxr lbh jrer zvfercerfragvat vg. V’z unccl gb or bar bs lbhe Uhtb erpbzzraqngvbaf. Guvf vf qvssrerag.

[BRAD] Yeah, but will you be on my slate?

[JULIETTE] UH UH, not Puppy!

[LARRY] My buddy Brad and I had this Sad Puppy act, and my “devil” Voxie traveled around with us. Now, for the most recent year in our slate, we nommed 20 of Brad’s buddies in a row. One, two, three, four, five…Kratman, Freer, Antonelli, Reid, one right after the other. Well, this one night we were ranting about liberals, the three of us, boozing and having a few laughs, and we run out of ice. So I go out to get some. I come back, open the door, and there’s Brad and Voxie nomming Number Seventeen – “Wisdom From My Internet.” Well, I was in such a state of shock, I completely blacked out. I can’t remember a thing. It wasn’t until later, when I was washing the toner off my hands, I even knew they were Rabid.

[PUPS] They had it coming! They had it coming! Ann Leckie does her genders wrong! I didn’t read her! But if I read her I wouldn’t know which “she” has a schlong!

 

743 thoughts on “The Hammer of Tor 6/19

  1. I did see a book today called “World War Moo”

    Sequel to Apocalypse Cow, I see.

  2. I’m a bit worried about murder cows; given the way these things are going down, I feel that Murder Bulls might be a stronger option.

    Of course, I would have to leave you to defend that bridge across the Tiber, since I’ve got a sick note from my mum saying I’m not up to keeping the bridge with thee, so it’s down to Spuriuris and you.

    So I will certainly understand if you stick with murder cows. And now that I’ve stopped worrying about it I can try Morphius again…

  3. Katster,

    I read Germline because I wanted to make my way through the Compton Crook winners. I wasn’t impressed enough to pick up the sequel. Seeing TC McCarthy come out as a gater and a puppy, and then threaten to quote some of the commenters here in one of his gamergate videos has lead me to believe that I won’t be revisiting that particular decision.

    idontknow,

    Congrats man. It’s a rejection but it shows that they read the thing! Hopefully the Capes thing goes better.

    As for book recommendations, an author named L.G. Estrella wrote a book called Two Necromancers, a Bureaucrat, and an Elf that I thought was a fun little read. The sequel just came out. The first is two bucks and I’d recommend if you want a light comedic fantasy romp.

  4. Swirsky is American so I’m not sure how reference to British clubs helps interpret her story. She herself says that she intended no distinct class image but was picturing a college town bar.

    I will say that I did not intend “gin” to be a class marker. My primary association with gin is hipsters. I have friends who make their own. (I pictured a college bar when I was writing the story, although I didn’t want that image—or any distinct markers–to be in the story itself.)

    There’s an interesting discussion in the comments there.
    I think the problem is that she tried to avoid specificity. That means a muddle of gin, pool cues, and wives that don’t really add up to any clear image but can be selectively read to point to different groups.
    I’m not sure why some writers try to avoid sociological specificity. After all, it’s not possible, any realistic character must be grounded somewhere. Perhaps this is the SF component some readers are missing.

  5. Who will be there when the skies turn grey?
    Battle Cattle! You can count on us.
    Who’s gonna push you through heavy days?
    Battle Cattle! Rugged and robust.

  6. Instead of Happy Kittens, can we just be straight up Murder Cows? Because I sorta feel like “Happy Kitten” is allowing yourself to be defined as an opposition side. But MURDER COWS is just generally awesome

    Works for me.

    Who’s in charge of making the shirts?

  7. mk41:

    Correia’s MHI is ok, but the Mary Sueism and the gunporn can be distracting. Also, I’m still not over “The six-year gap was conspicuous by its absence.”

    I bet Thog would love that if you were to send it in.

  8. Sequel to Apocalypse Cow, I see.

    C’mon Arthur, there’s fire everywhere!

  9. @Jim Henley ” In addition to the fact they were my friends, they helped produce some of the finest RPGs I ever played before they threw in the towel. The Leverage RPG is an honest-to-god Top 10 of all time game.”

    I’ve been running a game of that for the past few months, and it is *great* fun; my only complaint is that the image-heavy PDF makes scrolling through it difficult. 🙁 Oh, for a text-only version….

    In re: low-violence games — We have a 5-person group with a semi-rotating GM; so far the Hitter’s main role has been as GM backup for when things look like they might be hairy.

    Another good low-violence-model game is the new Doctor Who, where people who elect to run go first in a round, then those who talk, then those who do other things.

  10. Rat Queens is lots of fun. The second volume gives background on three of the queens (not Betty). The artist changes partway through v2 and I like the new art better. Orc Dave is now my favourite character. There’s an interstitial volume that tells the story of Braga.

  11. @Amina, with a sidenote to Happy Puppy:
    “I’m not sure why some writers try to avoid sociological specificity. After all, it’s not possible, any realistic character must be grounded somewhere. Perhaps this is the SF component some readers are missing.”

    Because some people will view, in cases like this, sociological specificity as message — when the exact nature of who did the hurting was not critical (as the wide range of epithets suggests) but rather that it was a group of people, motivated (at least in part) by bigotry. (e.g. Happy Puppy’s earlier comments about it being bigoted against working-class individuals)*

    I’m reminded of the old bit about “But this happened to me!” not being a valid defense for why it was believable in a story — because implausible, unrealistic things do happen to people, all the time, and would make for a dubious story. (As a possessor of a ridiculously strong Weirdness Magnet, and a strong Cop Magnet, I know exactly how this works.)

    I think breaking down the social indicia is not a sign of derangement/unreliability on the part of the narrator — it’s an indication that the specific details are not what’s critical, and in a lyrical text like that, I’m not surprised.

    If you’ve read Christopher Brookmyre’s “One Fine Day In the Middle of the Night” he talks about the BDQ for action movies — Bullet Deadliness Quotient; a John Woo film, where bullets fly all over the place, can’t then have a one-shot-kill scene at the end, nor would a movie where bullets are shown to be highly lethal (and the characters good shots) be served well by a Woo-style bullet-ballet ending.

    I think the same can be said for fiction in general; if the style in a story is highly specific (e.g. a MilSF gunporn story) writing a climax in which the battles are vague and poetic would be a violation of the story’s self-image (unless, of course, there were good enough reason — anything works if done well enough.) Similarly, in the lyrical tone of Swirsky’s story, a detailed and accurate description would be jarringly out of place.

    *To Happy Puppy — as I said before, having an individual (or group) of a given class as villains does not make a story bigoted against that group — unless you are using a definition of “bigot” so much broader than the general use as to be a) effectively pointless, and b) serving to make the accusations of “bigotry” against various prominent Puppies and Puppies-adjacent even more accurate. I do not think either of these to be your intention.

  12. Rat Queens is lots of fun. The second volume gives background on three of the queens (not Betty). The artist changes partway through v2 and I like the new art better. Orc Dave is now my favourite character. There’s an interstitial volume that tells the story of Braga.

    I am going to have to check that out. The Graphic Story category was amazing this year (with the exception of the sole puppy pick).

  13. @ Steven Schwartz

    *To Happy Puppy — as I said before, having an individual (or group) of a given class as villains does not make a story bigoted against that group — unless you are using a definition of “bigot” so much broader than the general use as to be a) effectively pointless, and b) serving to make the accusations of “bigotry” against various prominent Puppies and Puppies-adjacent even more accurate. I do not think either of these to be your intention.

    Exactly. After all, I haven’t heard anyone (though I suppose someone exists, sigh) say that the men in the bar killing her husband makes the story “misandrist.” Or that if he’d been knifed by a woman, that would suddenly make the story bigoted against women.

    Working class people — in groups and individually, in bars and out — kill and beat people up all the time. So do poor people, rich people, people of all genders and colors and creeds. Because that’s a people thing. Looking to identify with the mob so you can be outraged on their behalf is the weird attention-seeking stuff the Puppies tend to do when they decide things are a direct attack when it had nothing to do with them.

  14. Way back on page 5, idon’tknow wrote (quoting the whole thing so you don’t have to go back)

    @Milt

    “3) Whenever one of your nominees is eliminated, your vote is now counted as being split between your remaining choices (e.g., if B is eliminated in the example above, A now has your full single vote.)”

    I sort of disagree with this. It might be a reasonable assumption that I would put all of my support behind one work if the other work I nominated was eliminated, but there’s no way to know what my intent actually would be unless I was asked.


    If you didn’t want to support the other work on your nominating ballot, why did you nominate it? The act of putting a work on a nominating ballot is perfectly reasonable evidence that you wish to support that work.

  15. Steven Schwartz on June 20, 2015 at 8:01 pm said:
    @Amina, with a sidenote to Happy Puppy:
    “I’m not sure why some writers try to avoid sociological specificity. After all, it’s not possible, any realistic character must be grounded somewhere. Perhaps this is the SF component some readers are missing.”

    Because some people will view, in cases like this, sociological specificity as message — when the exact nature of who did the hurting was not critical (as the wide range of epithets suggests) but rather that it was a group of people, motivated (at least in part) by bigotry. (e.g. Happy Puppy’s earlier comments about it being bigoted against working-class individuals)*

    Fair enough. Though avoiding specificity to avoid being mistaken for message fiction seems a fool’s errand—the story got read that way anyway. I would think the best way to avoid being read as targeting a class is greater specificity, the creation of real individuals. I suppose that wouldn’t fit in a very terse story like this one or it would be unrealistic for the narrator to have sufficiently detailed knowledge of the attackers. I liked the story but this does seem a weakness to me.

    I might be being extra critical of it because I see the tendency to try to avoid specificity, avoid naming names, avoid admitting what you’re really thinking, in some of my students’ writing. Sometimes I think they’re being too self-effacing, trying to hide their own sociological position, or too cowardly.

  16. Working class people — in groups and individually, in bars and out — kill and beat people up all the time. So do poor people, rich people, people of all genders and colors and creeds. Because that’s a people thing. Looking to identify with the mob so you can be outraged on their behalf is the weird attention-seeking stuff the Puppies tend to do when they decide things are a direct attack when it had nothing to do with them.

    I am all about scouring the work for petty details to spin wild theories about the narrative. That is what being a fan is about, right? But in this case I think it’s trying to read something into the text which isn’t there. The identity of the individual attackers isn’t important to the narrative. There is something telling about the fact that the narrator doesn’t relate to the attackers as individuals. Even after rejecting the revenge fantasy the narrator’s sympathy isn’t with the faceless attackers, but their grieving loved ones who she can identify with in that moment. There is something very human about that.

  17. Amina at 7:42 pm:

    “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” has become a litmus story; the writer avoiding specificity* allows the reader to flesh out details not specified. So it’s been fascinating the different readings, which IMO say more about the reader than the text.

    *For example, I don’t see any reference to the story being set in England (am I missing something?), yet upthread is a discussion about Engish class structures as it relates to the story. And it’s not because the writer is British; she’s not. And the laser-like focus on a single word “gin” as a class marker is unfair given that a)it was unintentional, and b)many different sorts of people drink gin (for example, it was the after-work drink of choice at a lab I worked in). It came across to me like a reader who made up their mind to dislike the story fishing hard to justify their opinion.

    I thought it was a powerful & well-written story that packed a big punch in its short length. It didn’t get my top spot, the eventual winner did, but it totally deserved to be a finalist.

  18. OK, left foot thing again — if I rotate my computer chair slightly, I can put my left foot next to a stack of Wing Shing Ma’s Storm RIders collections.

  19. I don’t know how many of you are familiar with John Woo’s work, but one of his signature elements is doves. He was the producer for an anime film, Appleseed: Ex Machina, and lrf, gurer ner qbirf, ohg gura vg gheaf bhg gur qbirf ner rivy ebobg qbirf juvpu gur greebevfg onq thlf hfr gb nggnpx. I saw it in the cinema (Sci Fi London’s anime all-nighter) and only barely suppressed my thrilled squeaks. 🙂

    (Spoilers hidden if people want to avoid them, but its more of an easter egg plot point than a major plot spoiler. If I recall correctly. Its been a few years.)

  20. *For example, I don’t see any reference to the story being set in England (am I missing something?), yet upthread is a discussion about Engish class structures as it relates to the story. And it’s not because the writer is British; she’s not. And the laser-like focus on a single word “gin” as a class marker is unfair given that a)it was unintentional, and b)many different sorts of people drink gin (for example, it was the after-work drink of choice at a lab I worked in).

    See, when I think of gin it invokes the strong sensory image of its smell, though that may be particular to me.

  21. Oh I’ve just realised there’s someone on here called snowcrash isn’t there? I’ve probably just been dissing their favourite book – sorry snowcrash :).

    ::flat stare:: Well, I’m currently trapped in the past where it’s page 10 and 3.57pm…but when I catch up to you guys…..

    But seriously, snowcrash is a handle I’ve been using for ages. It’s certainly one of my favourites, but it’s not like UP THERE like Small Gods or Bridge of Birds or the like. Heck, it’s my second favourite Stephenson after all (Cryptonomicon takes honours there)

  22. Amina

    Well, it’s been quite a few years since I obtained my Combined Honours in Drama and Theatre Arts and Sociology* but I do not recall anything about ‘sociological specificity’ Indeed, any sociologist with academic qualifications would be baffled at the idea that sociological specificity has any meaning whatsoever.

    Sociology is about societies: how they start, how they change, how they may die. Suffice it to say that it’s the macro overview which has nothing to do with specific individuals, and so let me say, yet again, the statement that ‘sociological specifity’ makes no sense to a sociologist. It may well be that what you are trying to say is ‘socioeconomic structures’ but that is nowhere near the term ‘sociological specifity’.

    I read Drama and Theatre Arts because I wanted to look at people in the micro scale as well as the macro. I have always been remarkably curious. I still am, which is why I explore things.

    Sadly, having not slept still further, I came back to the thread merely to enquire whether RedWombat would be prepared to accept a commission for Morpheus, the God of sleep. After all, if I hang him on the wall I can spend enough time harassing him to ensure that he’s not enjoying it either…

    *I used both subjects in research at the Shakespeare Institute far more recently.

  23. Simon Bisson:

    obSF: Gerald Durrell’s only fantasy novel The Talking Parcel involves military weasels in an underground kingdom.

    Another one for the TBR list — I absolutely loved Gerald Durrell’s books while I was growing up.

  24. Oh, and still from the past (pg 11 now!), as I’m at my desktop, nearest physical book would be my Prima GameGuide collections, specifically the one for Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

    Fantastic game by the way. Good cross between Dragon Age: Inquisition’s sandbox elements and the Witcher world.

  25. Gin as a class marker makes no sense either in Britain or Australia. The spirits of choice for working class pub drinkers are vodka, whiskey and rum (especially here.)

    Ordering a straight gin in your average pub in either country would get you funny looks. Ordering a gin and it would probably mean you were (a) female or (b) a bit posh.

    Gin has become fashionable among craft booze drinkers, but even before that, saying gin ==working class only makes sense if you’re talking about 18th century London. The working class spirit in Australia at the time would be rum, and whiskey/rye/bourbon in the USA.

    I don’t know why Swirsky chose it at all. Maybe she’s not a drinker.

  26. I’m not going to quibble over my phrase “sociological specificity.” I don’t think it’s that hard to understand what I mean.

    Anyway, I’m not defending the Puppies willful misreading of the story. I am saying that when a very small set of images and details are used to define characters (gin, pool cues, wives, bigotry, violence), they carry a lot of weight. The author’s intention to leave the class, race, geographical location, age etc. of the characters unspecified seems to have lead, in my reading, to her choosing details that purposefully don’t add up to any recognizable type. (In the absence of individuals, all we can look for is type.) But I don’t think that’s a strength. Careful readers get no coherent image and Puppies etc. pick out a couple details and run with them.

    Personally, I suspect that what really ticks off the anti-“SJW” crowd is simply the depiction of violent bigotry.

  27. As to Bullet Deadlines Quotient and RPGs (specific to Woo films).
    There was a game called Hong Kong Action Theater where you played actors. Parts were auctioned off via Star Power and how integral you are to the plot determines how hard you are to hit (aand how much damage you take from attacks).

  28. “My main books are Sams Teach Yourself Java in 21 Days and Sams Teach Yourself Java in 24 Hours.”

    Hey, I read the first one, but 17-20 years ago or so. I am a Java programmer now, so it must have done something right. 😉

  29. @ Soon Lee

    “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” has become a litmus story; the writer avoiding specificity* allows the reader to flesh out details not specified. So it’s been fascinating the different readings, which IMO say more about the reader than the text.

    I agree. I think it allows a sort of blank-slateness about the characters that works in the same vein as Ann Leckie de-gendering to casual observation, stripping away our unconscious assumptions about gender so that the characters’ actions are purely their own and not imposed by our culture. I thought it was brilliant, honestly.

  30. I find myself wondering (from the perspective of being married to a bartender and spending time in bars including “divey” ones) whether if Swirsky had written “beer-soaked” it would have avoided the problems, or if the people who’ve taken offense at it would have taken offense regardless.

  31. Amina: “Personally, I suspect that what really ticks off the anti-“SJW” crowd is simply the depiction of violent bigotry.” Yup, that’s it in a nutshell.

  32. Gerald Durrell wrote an adult novel, Rosy is my Relative. It’s not fantasy but takes place on a slightly surreal England with bizarre and cheerful characters.

  33. I find myself wondering (from the perspective of being married to a bartender and spending time in bars including “divey” ones) whether if Swirsky had written “beer-soaked” it would have avoided the problems, or if the people who’ve taken offense at it would have taken offense regardless.

    Maybe, but that phrase wouldn’t make as much sense. Gin-soaked is an established English phrase (though perhaps a bit of an archaic one these days.

  34. @ Chris Hensley

    Maybe, but that phrase wouldn’t make as much sense. Gin-soaked is an established English phrase (though perhaps a bit of an archaic one these days.

    I’ve heard beer-soaked. I don’t think it would have made a difference though. To me, “alcohol-soaked” guys giving a beatdown to an “othered” person puts me in mind of a bunch of douchebag jocks, not “working class joes.”

  35. For what it’s worth, I note that “gin-soaked” has the same connotations for that Swirsky described in comments on her blog. So at least some subcultures in the US have that kind of vibe.

  36. To me, “alcohol-soaked” guys giving a beatdown to an “othered” person puts me in mind of a bunch of douchebag jocks, not “working class joes.”

    That’s the conundrum. We all imagine something specific. Whether you say hopped up on meth, crack-addled, ritalin addicted, or pickled in rye, any phrase will bring some specific image to mind. I don’t think there’s any escape from that and trying to escape only leads to a muddle.

  37. A T-Rex, even a small one, would never have to stand against five blustering men soaked in gin and malice.

    I honestly think the use of gin is more about the rhythm and sound than anything complicated. I tried replacing it with various different types of alcohol and it just didn’t seem as good.

    I’m also pretty sure people would have got upset whatever she finished that sentence with, though.

  38. Ann Somerville at 8:31 pm:
    Swirsky herself says:

    “I will say that I did not intend “gin” to be a class marker. My primary association with gin is hipsters. I have friends who make their own. (I pictured a college bar when I was writing the story, although I didn’t want that image—or any distinct markers–to be in the story itself.) My secondary association with gin is bathtub gin as discussed in musicals about the 1920s. My third is the inappropriate anecdote that Eliza tells about gin in My Fair Lady–which, I suppose, should have clued me into the class association”.

    “Booze-soaked” would be the most generic description for me & trips off the tongue better than “alcohol-soaked”, but I go back to my point about this story being a litmus.

  39. Here’s a thought (Re Dinosaur).
    What if it did win the Hugo and SP3 followers are still in the time line where that happened. One of the SPs made a time machine and, via whatever means, altered enough votes to undo that “horror”.
    The altered time line has already caught up with us, but the SPs still remember the original.

  40. Gabriel F. on June 20, 2015 at 8:44 pm said:

    I thought it was brilliant too which is why it was second on my ballot behind the even more brilliant (IMO) “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere”.

  41. Soon Lee, I just found the story and read it, along with the comments, and all I can say is the people bleating about the hatred of the working classes in this story are – putting it technically – fucked in the head.

    ‘Poofter bashing’ is not confined to the working class, but it’s unfortunately something some working class men engage in. I just watched a documentary about the making of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, and in that, an Aussie brother and father – both proudly working class – described how their gay brother and son, John Russell, was murdered on cliffs over Bondi Beach by homophobes (and his murder dismissed by homophobic cops.) The brother described, quite matter of factly, how it was common for men he knew to get tanked up and go out looking for gay men to beat up – ‘poofter baiting’ I think he called it.

    The same thing happened in Britain, and despite recent moves on equality, I’m sure it still happens – to gay men, to trans women, and so on.

    So describing something that actually happens is not discriminatory. Sarah Hoyt whipped up her mindless idiots to attack Swirsky’s story for no better reason than she could. It’s the same chain of logic which turned hydrophobia into homophobia, and her blog being linked into bashing by Mike Glyer.

  42. alexvdl on June 20, 2015 at 7:40 pm said:
    Katster,

    I read Germline because I wanted to make my way through the Compton Crook winners. I wasn’t impressed enough to pick up the sequel. Seeing TC McCarthy come out as a gater and a puppy, and then threaten to quote some of the commenters here in one of his gamergate videos has lead me to believe that I won’t be revisiting that particular decision.

    Ugh. Yeah, I though I recognized the name when I pulled it out — it was jammed in the bookcase sideways where I couldn’t read the title. I have no idea where I acquired it — I acquire books like a dog gets fleas, sometimes. I’ve got so many other books around here that I want to read that I may never quite get to it. It’s a sad fact that association with certain groups I’d rather not support is enough to knock a book down the TBR pile, but…c’est la vie, life is short.

  43. Amina

    It is hard to know what you mean by those words, or at least it’s hard for someone with a degree in Sociology to know what you mean by those words. You are, of course, free to use whatever words you wish: equally I am free to point out that you appear not to understand what sociology is.

    I’m impressed by the remainder of your post; I’m sure, however, that the hate fest would continue even if turned out that Rachel is a nom de plume for JK Rowling. Actually, now I come to think about it, the hate fest would get even bigger if Rachel turned out to be JK Rowling; how dare she be a billionaire selling countless millions of books when manly men are beating their manly chests because they’re so victimised by people not buying their books.

    The thought that other people’s books may be better than their manly efforts seems to escape them…

  44. Snowcrash,

    I got a fondness for Diamond Age. Although, the furniture erotica sidetrip always makes me laugh. But I love the way Diamond Age starts with logic gates and moves up into computers. Such a great metaphor.

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