Roverfield 7/5

aka Muttropolis.

Soviet-Space-Dogs-cover

Last roundup tomorrow, July 6.

Banner art changes tomorrow.

What the future holds for File 770 arrives tomorrow!

Meanwhile, roundup content today is provided by Lou Antonelli, Joseph Tomaras, Jonathan Crowe, Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag, Mark Ciocco, Lis Carey, Len Schiff, and Bonnie McDaniel. (Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editors of the day Will Reichard and Brad J. Book cover lifted from Will Reichard’s “Wishlist: Soviet Space Dogs”.)

Lou Antonelli on This Way to Texas

“Genrecide” – July 5

The dispute that arose when the Sad Puppy selections did so well in the Hugo nominations has probably created a permanent split of science fiction fans – not one created by the literature, but for social reasons.

Both sides have said such horrible things about each other that I doubt the rift will ever be healed. I wouldn’t be surprised if some semantic distinction arises later – such as the Sad Puppies’ type of fiction being called spec fic as opposed to science fiction.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden and her blog Making Light started the civil war when she realized her chums – the usual suspects – were not getting their Hugo nomination notice emails as usual. She blew up and started the vituperation a week before the actual announcement was made – proving the point, as Larry Corriea was pointed out, that there is an insider clique after all.

Mike Glyer, who’s been running his fan site File 770 since dirt was invented, unfortunately has kept the wildfires burning by collecting up Puppy posts and republishing them on his site. The comments threads there have become the clearing house for all Puppy Kicker resentment.

I don’t believe either side of completely right or completely wrong, but it really doesn’t matter anymore, because regardless of how or who started it, and how it ends, thanks to the internet too much has been said attacking too many people by so many people that there will probably be a long-term drop in readership and popular support.

Perhaps in the future people will say they read magic realism, or space opera, or dystopia, or alternate history – but as a result of the Puppy Wars, no one will actually want to admit they read “science fiction” because of all the negative connotations in the wake of the current unpleasantness.

 

Joseph Tomaras on A Skinseller’s Workshop

“I Lied: A Few More Words about the Hugos” – July 5

….As more people post their ballots and/or their critical response to the items on the ballot, I have been surprised at how critical judgment on Kary English’s “Totaled” has lined up. People who fault contemporary SF for leaving too little room for ambiguity have criticized it for unclear, unreliable narration in the early sections. (To which I respond: As if a recently revived brain-in-a-jar would be a reliable narrator.) People who have a habit of calling for “good stories” in the whiz-bang mode of military SF have praised the story for its emotional trajectory. It has scrambled the factional lines, and that, I think, suggests a few points in its favor. There is room for dispute over it, and is worth being revisited and debated on aesthetic grounds.

What I think is indisputable, unfortunately, is how thoroughly English herself stumbled over the politics of this year’s hyper-politicized Hugo. She went months after the announcement of the ballots before disavowing both the Sad and Rabid Puppies slates on which she had been placed: Long enough that most of the anti-canine wings of the Hugo electorate had already dismissed her as a fellow traveler, but not long enough to avoid the wrath of the Rabid Majordomo himself. I take this as an object lesson in how the center-right, quasi-depoliticized “common sense” that passes as “moderation” in the U.S. context can succeed, in a global context, only in pissing people off, whether in small matters (e.g. the Hugos) or in big ones (e.g. Guantánamo, drone bombings).

 

Jonathan Crowe

“Best Saga Proposal Revised” – July 5

So the proposal for a Best Saga Hugo Award (see previous entry) has since been revised: they’ve abandoned getting rid of Best Novelette, which was needlessly zero-sum, and have lowered the minimum word count. The proposal now says 300,000 words; the draft posted to File 770 at more or less the same time says 240,000. A series cannot win more than once, but it can certainly be nominated multiple times (so long as two new installments requalifies it) until it wins — I think of this as the “my favourite series better damn well win this time” provision.

I’m still not a fan: it’s going to be a popularity contest for very popular (if not always good) ongoing series. And any minimum word count is going to be exclusionary. A 240,000-word lower limit would have rendered ineligible the original Foundation trilogy — which won a one-off “Best All-Time Series” Hugo in 1966.

And as far as I can tell the amendment would still allow series to appear on the Best Novel ballot when the final installment is published, like The World of Time did last year.

 

Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag on Bloggity-Blog-Blog-Blog

“Hugo Blatherings” – July 5

Still, it means I’m going to be part of Worldcon for at least the next two and a half years. I’ll be voting in two more Hugos after this one. And I’ll be trying to actively look for things to nominate, as well. I’ll be checking out Renay’s Hugo Spreadsheet of Doom and the Hugo Nominees 2016 Wikia regularly once I’ve finished with this year’s packet to look for suggestions to read. I’ve already got a couple of things I plan to nominate, and a few more I haven’t finished reading yet but I think might make my list. I’ll post a few lists of possible nominations as I go, and once the deadline for nominations has passed, I might even post my actual nomination form.

The round-ups at File 770 have slowed down, mostly because there just isn’t that much to talk about the Hugos right now. Everyone is busy going through the packets or have finished voting and are just waiting for the convention. I fully expect another fake outrage to be manufactured soon, but I can’t guess what direction it will come from. I’ve been continuing to read David Gerrold on Facebook… he’s the guy that got me into this whole kerfuffle in the first place. I don’t think I would have cared as much if not for him.

 

Mark Ciocco on Kaedrin Weblog

“Hugo Awards: Novella” – July 5

The other shorter-than-a-novel-but-longer-than-a-short-story category, these tend to be longer reads, which is a shame because I didn’t particularly care for any of them. It’s also one of the weirder categories in that three of the five nominees are from the same author. Two of the stories are also significantly expanded versions of much shorter stories (which, given my complaints below, would probably have been much better for me). None of the nominees are particularly terrible, per say, I just failed to connect with them, and it makes me wish there was a little more variety here. I don’t want too dwell on this, so let’s just get to it:…

[Comments on all five nominees.]

For the first time this year, I’m actually thinking about deploying No Award on my ballot, if only to get past the ridiculous notion that one author wrote the three best novellas of the year or something. I mean, I guess such a thing is possible, but not with these three stories. That being said, Wright also wrote my clear favorite of the bunch, so I’m not slotting No Award very high.

 

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“Guardians of the Galaxy, written by James Gunn and Nicole Perlman, directed by James Gunn (Marvel Studios, Moving Picture Company)” – July 5

This is a Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form nominee for the 2015 Hugos. This is not a movie with any deep thoughts in its head. It’s pure, fun, over-the-top adventure, with colorful space battles and explosions…..

 

Bonnie McDaniel on Red Headed Femme

“The Hugo Project: Campbell Award” – July 5

(Note: This is the latest in an ongoing series of posts reviewing as many of the 2015 Hugo nominees as I can before the July 31 deadline, and explaining why I will or will not vote for them.)

The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer advertises itself, famously, as “not-a-Hugo,” celebrating what the Worldcon community decides is the best new science fiction/fantasy writer of the year. Unfortunately, like so much of the rest of the ballot, this category has been tainted by the shenanigans of the Impacted Canines.

(Forgive me for sounding testy. Several weeks of slogging through godawfully bad stories not worth their weight in puppy piss will do that to you. I mean, if you’re going to behave lawfully-but-unethically and game the awards, can’t you at least nominate something halfway decent? Apparently not, as most of the ballot proves.)

Listed from worst to best….

[Comments on all five nominees.]

 

[Nothing to do with Sad Puppies, but an interesting article.]

 

619 thoughts on “Roverfield 7/5

  1. Rick K: Thanks to those who mentioned Drowning Girl.

    I don’t bounce off non-Puppy books very often, but I bounced off that book hard. I got almost halfway through, and I finally just had to admit that I wasn’t enjoying it or finding it interesting or intriguing or anything else, and it wasn’t worth the time and effort and lack of enjoyment to finish it.

    Perhaps my anathema was due to having extensive personal experience with a sociopath, but I just did not find the writing appealing at all, and I could not understand why a fair number of people were raving about that book.

  2. 1984 has the biggest kick you in the teeth last line of any book ever. When I read it I violently threw the book across the room I hated it that much. Of course a copy still has pride of place on my book shelf since you have to have a copy of something that effected so powerfuly.

  3. Nineteen Eighty-four is a love story! About loving Big Brother! That is a happy ending.

  4. Rev. Bob on July 6, 2015 at 8:05 pm said:
    @CPaca:

    I see your “They’re Made of Meat” and raise you The Day of the Triffids. 🙂

    @various, on mythology:

    It has been absolute murder to “fact-check” this manuscript, because the author deliberately went with the Roman pantheon instead of the more familiar Greek. Can anyone recommend a good resource that doesn’t just stick the Greek and Roman pantheons together in a blender set to “purée”?

    Ooooooh, that’s a tricky one.

    Not least because the Romans did it to themselves first. Nothing so appealed to those nouveaux-riches parvenus like trying to imitate and appropriate the cultures they thought were cooler around them, *especially* the Greeks.

    Thus they crowbarred their not entirely suitable pantheon into a Greek shape. Aphrodite, the Greek ocean-born god of love and beauty, was easy enough to fold into Venus, a Roman ancestor-god of love and sex. But others were far more awkward. Mars, once a pastoral god of farmers (thus the “Campus Martius”, the big meetin’ field outside of Rome) got painted over as a war god to match the Greek Ares. And Janus, the utterly vital Roman god of doorways and transitions, time and the new year, had no Greek counterpart whatsoever.

    I’m not sure where to find reference books about this. I think I got some of my information from archeology books of really archaic Latin inscriptions. I can prod around the ol’ shelves romorrow if it would help.

  5. Oh, also the Greeks tended to think of Ares as a bit of a goof, the god of brute violence and unintelligent soldiering as opposed to Athena’s wise warfare.

    The Romans were a heck of a lot more reverent about Mars.

  6. redheadedfemme: I couldn’t think of a good set of concluding lines, and figured that the commentariat would fix the problem for me. I was right. Thank you. 🙂

  7. Brian Z: I believe the requirement is “Just make sure he goes down fighting and dies for something”. I can see an argument that winston goes down fighting, but I’m not seeing anything analogous to “dies for something”.

  8. 1984 has the biggest kick you in the teeth last line of any book ever.

    How about Peter Watts’ “The Things” ?

  9. Few things before I jump onto the new round-up:

    @Jim – Congrats, and may the Henleyverse continue to be a better world than this (and that we get regular updates here!)

    On vetting books for kids – Many years ago my sister got me to vet a few books as her then ten-ish year old daughter was getting into reading in a big way. They were settled in a small Australian mining town, and country living was Doing Things to my sister. She was particularly concerned as some of her older friends had warned that they had heard Bad Thing (witchcraft! Devil Worship!) about this particular book. I was distinctly unimpressed as

    1. The book in question was Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

    2. I pointed out to my sister that we were *LITERALLY* practicing pagan idolators, and devil worship was just Thursday evening for us.

    She didn’t enjoy my critique very much. (oh and my niece loved the HP books, and as a result I become the vetter for the next couple of years, until I told my sister there wasn’t any point in vetting any more. It was a bad time for me when Twilight came out)

  10. Not least because the Romans did it to themselves first.

    I have a version of the Illiad and the Odyssey by G. Chandon that uses the Roman names for the Olympian gods. It is extraordinarily disconcerting.

  11. I’m not seeing anything analogous to “dies for something”.

    MickyFinn, the previous sentence before that final paragraph begins is:

    The long-hoped-for bullet was entering his brain.

  12. Rev. Bob> :I see your “They’re Made of Meat” and raise you The Day of the Triffids. 🙂

    In Soviet Britain, vegetable eat YOU!

  13. MickyFinn, the previous sentence before that final paragraph begins is:

    Yes. He dies. What does he die for?

  14. @Peace:

    Actually, Janus is kind of critical to the plot, which is probably why J.B. went full-on Roman pantheon. (There’s a body-mod invocation that calls on Janus and Vejovis at the fall equinox, and a literal Bacchanal about a month later that also calls on Volupta, Cupid, and Moneta for various effects. Proserpina and Minerva have significant roles in unraveling the resulting mess, and Venus… remind me not to cross Venus. She gets fiendish.)

  15. MickeyFinn, Aaron, you don’t think Winston was struggling for something? Maybe we had different readings of the book.

  16. MickeyFinn, Aaron, you don’t think Winston was struggling for something?

    What was he struggling for? How did his death – at the moment he was wholly in love with Big Brother – advance any cause at all?

  17. Brian Z: He fought, and lost, for something, but he did not go to his death fighting for something. He died in vain. He died for nothing. He died defeated.

  18. Jim Henley — huzzah for your good medical news!

    Doctor Science on July 6, 2015 at 6:20 pm said:

    Historians and anthropologists only discovered this in the 1960s, because “most women” means “the bottom 80% of society, who didn’t make it into novels or history books.”

    Class bias is one of those sneaky little things that we’re not always aware of, especially when it comes to foreign parts, like the past. If your notion of history is a recitation of the doings of queens and kings and nobles and so on, you will have a somewhat distorted picture of what most people were getting up to.

    Tintinaus on July 6, 2015 at 6:42 pm said:

    One scholar I read pointed out that as the bible goes on, God’s punishments become less and less severe. He posited that as we learned to understand what God wanted from us, God too learned to understand us better. This was why, for him, Jesus was pivotal since God as Jesus became human and thus developed a real understanding of humanity.

    Neil Gaiman in Sandman gives his Death a similar kind of story arc. He casts her as kind of a jerk in the early days, but after she takes on human form temporarily, she starts to understand us, and becomes the compassionate Death of the present day.

    Ken in NJ on July 6, 2015 at 7:47 pm said:

    Except Winston didn’t go down fighting, he goes down complacently, fully converted. In the end, his entire struggle was for nothing, changed nothing, and led to nothing but his own conversion to mindless devotion

    YES!

    I thought 1984 was the absolute most depressing thing I had ever read, because it suggested that there were things the human spirit could simply not survive. I wasn’t sure I disbelieved it — I just thought it was super depressing.

    For that reason alone I would have loved Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, which postulates wild fantasy as the ultimate escape for the human spirit in an otherwise very 1984-ish world.

    But then, I think the Puppies trying to characterize exactly what’s “wrong” with contemporary SF are a lot like literary snobs trying to characterize exactly what’s “wrong” with the fantastical or the pulpy or the popular — all classics get a free pass, for Reasons.

  19. I’m somewhat in shock over the idea of censoring what your children read. Of Mice and Men was an O level English book along with All Quiet on the Western Front…. If you have a problem with What George did to Lennie you really should avoid that one. I think I’d have been about 14…

    But I’d been borrowing books without supervision from the library since I was about 8… It sadly had a poor SF section but I went through it. When we moved the new library had a slightly better one, but there’s some seriously dodgy 70s SF out there….

    All of this continues to make me realize I live in a very different place to the puppies.

    Most amusingly those that seem to champion individual rights always seem to have problems if you don’t want the same things they do. There should be a word for people like that…

  20. Tintinaus: “1984 has the biggest kick you in the teeth last line of any book ever.”

    Danny Sichel: “How about Peter Watts’ “The Things” ?”

    “The Things” is both a kick in the teeth & an excellent example of a transformative work. Some would need a trigger warning for that last line too. Powerful stuff, approach with care.

  21. I’m planning on making sure that the bookshelves at home are stocked with books I love and that I want my child to read, and if I know they don’t like a particular type of story, I’ll try to warn them if I know something they’ve picked up has that sort of thing in it. but thats it. Beyond that, they get free rein.

    I was raised in a house that I feel had just the right amount of books for me, enough that I could usually find something to read, few enough that sometimes I had to wander outside of my comfort zone to find something to read.

  22. MickyFinn: I’m planning on making sure that the bookshelves at home are stocked with books I love and that I want my child to read, and if I know they don’t like a particular type of story, I’ll try to warn them if I know something they’ve picked up has that sort of thing in it. but thats it. Beyond that, they get free rein.

    Okay, now that we’ve talked Mike into an Edit function, is there a “Like” function add-on for WordPress?

    If I hadn’t had unlimited access to books as a child, I probably wouldn’t be here now. Books have been a true life-saver for me and many, many other people — and they’ve made a huge positive difference in who I am as a person.

    The idea that any parent would limit their child’s ability to choose books or censor what they’re allowed to read is pretty horrifying to me.

  23. So long Mike and thanks for the muzzle. It is my first and i will treasure it always.

    Med hopp om bättring.
    /aeou

    Nick Mamatas:

    Is the coinage and deployment of Puppy-Kicker an acknowledgment that the Pups couldn’t make “CHORF” happen after all?

    If you have to play really dumb it is not good rhetoric. You also come off as dishonest but SJWs always do lie.

    A CHORF is a subset of puppy kickers.

    Now go away or I shall taunt you a second time.

  24. My mum was a kindergarden teacher and had a pet shop on call for those times she would come into work to find a dead budgie. A quick trip before the kids turned up was a lot less trouble than explaining to a group of 3-4 year olds about why Percy wasn’t in his cage anymore.

    Which was nice of her, but librarians aren’t kindergarten teachers. Very different professions, with very different training, ethos, objectives and metrics.

  25. Rev. Bob on July 6, 2015 at 9:02 pm said:
    @Peace:

    Actually, Janus is kind of critical to the plot, which is probably why J.B. went full-on Roman pantheon. (There’s a body-mod invocation that calls on Janus and Vejovis at the fall equinox, and a literal Bacchanal about a month later that also calls on Volupta, Cupid, and Moneta for various effects. Proserpina and Minerva have significant roles in unraveling the resulting mess, and Venus… remind me not to cross Venus. She gets fiendish.)

    Interesting. A bit of a digression …

    I’ve long been fascinated by the paradoxical role of Eros, whom the Romans decided was Cupid.

    He is usually depicted as Aphrodite / Venus’ son, a cute little baby or an adolescent or quite young man with wings who shoots his bow and makes people fall in love. This is not false. And it is certainly the commonest depiction of the Romans and later.

    But Eros is also, as the poet Hesiod reminds us, one of the four great primal powers of the universe, the power that binds all matter together who along with Chaos, Tartaros, and Erebos created everything. He is Eros Whom All The Gods Fear.

    It’s fascinating to get a sense of what the gods *meant* to people by how they are depicted.

    I note that Wikipedia’s mythology pages aren’t half bad once you get away from the controversial or currently fashionable figures. Look up the gods under their Roman names and at least you get pointed towards some excellent reference material.

  26. Aaron on July 6, 2015 at 8:43 pm said:
    I have a version of the Illiad and the Odyssey by G. Chandon that uses the Roman names for the Olympian gods. It is extraordinarily disconcerting.

    That would be peculiar reading indeed.

    It reminds me of those awful Roman marble copies of elegant Greek bronze statues. Or a baroque German painting of the classical gods I saw once, all beefy red naked flesh and hefty blonde scolding naked hausfraus and a sulky naked Mars with a huge blonde German moustache and, if memory isn’t playing tricks, one of those spiked Teutonic helmets. Something very like anyway.

    Juno was sitting on a very realistically painted peacock. It did not look happy.

    The Romans claimed their gods were the same as the Greeks’, but sometimes it feels like everyone else only went along with it with a polite smile. No one seems firmly convinced.

  27. @Peace: (Cupid)

    Cupid doesn’t get much more than a cameo in the book. Someone calls upon him, Bacchus, and Volupta in an attempt to turn a beer into a high-powered “lust potion” so they can pull a Cosby on the main character. She does take a moment to scoff at the “cute harmless baby with a bow” depiction of him, though. As far as I can tell, the combo seems legit – Bacchus to affect the alcohol and drop the inhibitions, then Volupta and Cupid to ramp up the sex drive. Moneta gets used for a later effect, in which a fifty-dollar bill becomes a mystical memory-wipe charm…

    Yeah, that chapter slings several names around in kind of a clerical revenge scheme. I think it’s the longest single chapter in the book, just because it has so much narrative ground to cover.

  28. I don’t know why, but coins with depictions of Moneta on them always make me smile. I find it very entertaining for some reason.

  29. I’m late to the game as usual, but to Peace Is My Middle Name re: historic European marriage patterns, another really fascinating resource on this topic is the collection “Singlewomen in the European Past 1250-1800” [see below for full citation] which discusses marriage patterns in the context of reasons why women might not be married in particular times and places and at particular ages.

    As the various papers note, even in Europe there wasn’t a single “marriage pattern” but a gradation of practices that included clusters around “couple of similar age marrying in mid-20s after both achieve economic independence and where both may already be sexually active, where the woman has significant agency of choice” as well as “older man/younger woman who is expected to be virginal, man is economically independent but woman is under parental control and has limited agency in spousal choice”.

    I’ve been researching the history of marriage patterns as part of my “Lesbian Historic Motif Project” (research for worldbuilding historically-based lesbian characters). It’s interesting both in terms of the situations under which a woman might resist normative marriage (if, for example, she had other romantic interests…) and the ways in which marital relationships were framed such that female couples might understand their own relationships as marriage-like.

    Reference: Bennett, Judith M. & Amy M. Froide eds. 1999. Singlewomen in the European Past 1250-1800. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia. ISBN 0-8122-1668-7

  30. Aeou —

    SJWs always lie

    And puppies always piss. Had to get the last few drops out before Mike wound things up, eh? So long, it’s been nothing.

  31. Oh, cool, Heather. So you’ve given me cool fiction, and cool references! You are a very useful author and I hope you live and write a very long time. 🙂

    Speaking here with my “has written a lot of background stuff in my RPG writing career” hat on, I find it hard to explain just how impressed I am at your handling of the background info dumplets (dumplings?) in Daughter of Mystery. I love how much I know as a reader about two-thirds of the way through, and simultaneously how much I don’t know, and don’t need to to get the story. It’s just occurred to me that it’s a bit like Scott Turow’s Kindle County books that way.

  32. You also come off as dishonest but SJWs always do lie.

    Aww, look the lying Puppy came back to lie some more.

  33. Bruce, thanks for that comment on the “dumplets”. I confess that I fall pretty far to one end of the scale of “give the readers a few clues and make them figure out the rest.” It’s what I prefer as a reader, so naturally it’s going to be how I write. I was always that tv viewer who could walk into a room and explain what was going on in the show to the person who’d been sitting there watching it for the last hour. (The failure mode for this is “I have no idea what’s going on,” which happens for some readers.)

    I tend to call what I do “forced pre-supposition”. Show the reader a widget and expect them to figure out what sort of historic, economic, and social background would be necessary for that widget to exist and make sense.

  34. Heather: I’m really glad. It’s gotten my own creative gears turning with regard to some long-shelved projects that were in part dying the death of too much exposition.

  35. bbz:

    Peter Hamilton’s Fallen Dragon has an episode of vat-grown versus other food. Pro vegetarian.

    It’s not pro-vegetarian, just anti-animal-farming. The character is fine with eating meat grown in whatever they grow it in, it’s the idea of ingesting pieces of an actual dead animal that nauseates him. And I didn’t read it as the author’s view, just the character’s.

  36. @Jim Henley – From one cancer survivor to another, congratulations! Glad to see the Henleyverse continues a glorious place. I too would like to subscribe to one of its newspapers. Better news than the news I’m used to hearing, that.

    -~*~-

    @Tintinaus

    My mum was a kindergarden teacher and had a pet shop on call for those times she would come into work to find a dead budgie. A quick trip before the kids turned up was a lot less trouble than explaining to a group of 3-4 year olds about why Percy wasn’t in his cage anymore.

    When Terry Pratchett described Susan doing something like this with the pets in her classroom, I thought, “That’s genius in a kind of bleak way.” I should have known he was only describing our reality.

    ~-*-~

    @McJulie:

    Not to toot my own horn too much, but I did write a story, “Persephone Eats Winter,” which deals with Persephone feeling unexpectedly bereft when — after she’s spent thousands of years resenting him and asking to be free — Hades takes up with someone else and kicks her out of the underworld.

    Now it’s summer all the time, and nobody is any happier.

    Seems to me I’ve been told that in the original Persephone myth/rite/mystery, Persephone’s time in the underworld was summer–and summer in that part of the world is so witheringly hot that nothing can grow. Perhaps better described as “the dry season” maybe?

    If I’m wrong, I invoke the word-of-mouth clause: “I dunno, but I been told…”

    -~*~-

    I looked up the phrase “superversive definition” on Google. The Lamplighter article was the 4th result.

    I couldn’t bring myself to click it.

    ~-*-~

    @Jamoche

    I have been earwormed by “Don’t You Want Me Baby” thanks to Hoyt – it still does get airplay, sometimes unavoidable. I may filk it later.

    Human League – Human Wave – New Wave – and we’re back to Human League.

    (I’m glad I wasn’t the only one getting that earworm.)

    -~*~-

    @LunarG

    Any literary manifesto that excludes Steinbeck and exalts Chicken Soup for the Soul is one I simply cannot take seriously.

    That needs to be cross-stitched onto a sampler. Or tweeted with the #overheard hashtag. Or both! Why can’t it be both?

    ~-*-~

    ….and that’s all I’ve got after catching up on the whooooole thread. Now to get some work done, and then start on the 7/6 round-up.

    Thank you for all the heavy lifting, Mike! It has been death to my productivity, but it’s been entertaining, educational, laugh-out-loud funny, thought-provoking, detrimental to my book-buying budget, influential to my groceries list, and a billion other good things.

  37. @Aaron: Yes. He dies. What does he die for?

    @Brian Z: MickeyFinn, Aaron, you don’t think Winston was struggling for something? Maybe we had different readings of the book.

    You seem to have difficultly answering a simple, direct question with a simple, direct answer. Your habit of giving evasive non-answers in the form of Answering The Question With A Question is neither informative nor interesting. It isn’t enlightening or instructive – Socrates, you’re not. It doesn’t make you look clever; on the contrary — it makes you look like a troll, or a pretentious douche, and it certainly doesn’t make me inclined to engage with you.

    Winston did not “go down fighting”

    When they were arrested, his response was immediate obedience:

    ’You are the dead,’ repeated the iron voice.
    ’It was behind the picture,’ breathed Julia.
    ’It was behind the picture,’ said the voice. ’Remain exactly where you are. Make no movement until you are ordered.’

    It was starting, it was starting at last! They could do nothing except stand gazing into one another’s eyes. To run for life, to get out of the house before it was too late — no such thought occurred to them. Unthinkable to disobey the iron voice from the wall.

    He wasn’t brave, or defiant:

    “There was a stampede of boots up the stairs. The room was full of solid men in black uniforms, with iron-shod boots on their feet and truncheons in their hands. Winston was not trembling any longer. Even his eyes he barely moved. One thing alone mattered; to keep still, to keep still and not give them an excuse to hit you!

    Even watching Julia get beaten isn’t enough to move him from his stance of complete submission:
    “There was a gasp and a thump behind him, and he received a violent kick on the ankle which nearly flung him off his balance. One of the men had smashed his fist into Julia’s solar plexus, doubling her up like a pocket ruler. She was thrashing about on the floor, fighting for breath. Winston dared not turn his head even by a millimetre…

    Afterward, as he sits in the holding cell, meeting a parade of other characters, his demeanor is is dominated by one thing – immediate submissive obedience:

    “He sat as still as he could on the narrow bench, with his hands crossed on his knee. He had already learned to sit still. If you made unexpected movements they yelled at you from the telescreen. But the craving for food was growing upon him. What he longed for above all was a piece of bread. He had an idea that there were a few breadcrumbs in the pocket of his overalls. It was even possible — he thought this because from time to time something seemed to tickle his leg — that there might be a sizeable bit of crust there. In the end the temptation to find out overcame his fear; he slipped a hand into his pocket.

    ’Smith!’ yelled a voice from the telescreen. ’6079 Smith W.! Hands out of
    pockets in the cells!’

    He sat still again, his hands crossed on his knee.”


    “He plumped his large posterior into the lavatory pan. Winston covered his
    face with his hands.

    ’Smith!’ yelled the voice from the telescreen. ’6079 Smith W! Uncover yourface. No faces covered in the cells.’

    Winston uncovered his face.

    Once he is taken into individual custody, he quickly learns what he needs to do – FIGHT! Haha, no, just kidding, he learns that he should tell them whatever they want to hear as quickly as possible:

    “In the end the nagging voices broke him down more completely than the boots and fists of the guards. He became simply a mouth that uttered, a hand that signed, whatever was demanded of him. His sole concern was to find out what they wanted him to confess, and then confess it quickly, before the bullying started anew.

    He confessed to the assassination of eminent Party members, the distribution of seditious pamphlets, embezzlement of public funds, sale of military secrets, sabotage of every kind. He confessed that he had been a spy in the pay of the Eastasian government as far back as 1968. He confessed that he was a religious believer, an admirer of capitalism, and a sexual pervert. He confessed that he had murdered his wife, although he knew, and his questioners must have known, that his wife was still alive. He confessed that for years he had been in personal touch with Goldstein and had been a member of an underground organization which had included almost every human being he had ever known. It was easier to confess everything and implicate everybody

    And when it comes down to the wire, he won’t even fight for Julia:

    “The mask was closing on his face. The wire brushed his cheek. And then — no, it was not relief, only hope, a tiny fragment of hope. Too late, perhaps too late. But he had suddenly understood that in the whole world there was just one person to whom he could transfer his punishment — one body that he could thrust between himself and the rats. And he was shouting frantically, over and over.’Do it to Julia! Do it to Julia! Not me! Julia! I don’t care what you do to her. Tear her face off, strip her to the bones. Not me! Julia! Not me!’”

    Winston didn’t fight, he obeyed. At every turn he obeyed to the best of is ability.

    “go down fighting”

    Ack phtooey

    Winston dies, alright, but he sure as hell didn’t die for a cause – he didn’t even fight for a cause. Shit, except for two or three sentences with O’brien before room 101, he doesn’t even have an argument, nevermind a cause

  38. NelC:

    And puppies always piss. Had to get the last few drops out before Mike wound things up, eh? So long, it’s been nothing.

    Don’t bring piss to a shit fight, manlet. If your rhetoric was good I would just have said goodbye to Mike. That comment was just a poor show and you know it.

  39. Nick Mamatas:

    Nineteen Eighty-four is a love story! About loving Big Brother! That is a happy ending.

    That is good irony or what ever you call it. Insightful even. But coming from a self-labeled marxist it is creepy as all hell.

  40. Ken in NJ, Winston fought until he was broken. No man can do more, no man should do less. Some few never break but in this case that would just prolong the torture. We are a glorious species indeed.

  41. @aeou

    Ken in NJ, Winston fought until he was broken

    Except that, no, he didn’t, as I demonstrated.

    But your examples are compelling, too

  42. Ken, He was at some point broken by torture, yes? Before he was broken by torture he fought, yes? It doesn’t matter that he didn’t have an impact or wouldn’t have had an impact or that they made him love them. What matters is not that all men have a breaking point what matters is that he fought. He defied tyranny.

  43. The actual happy ending to Nineteen Eighty-Four can be found in the appendix, which is in the past tense, suggesting that the system does collapse.

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