Need Less Bow, More Wow 8/30

(1) From the SuperversiveSF livestream, Kate Paulk’s statement on SP4 at 1:05:42 (transcription provided by Mark):

For starters the word slate is not going to appear anywhere. For second [Cross talk] I am not doing a slate, I am doing a list of the most popular works in all of the various categories as submitted by people who read on any of the various blogs that will have me. And I’m going to post ultimately the top ten of each, with links to the full list of everything that everybody wanted to see nominated, and I’m going to be saying “hey if you really want to see your favorite authors nominated your best bet is to pick something of theirs from the most popular in the list as opposed to the least popular”. That is going to be what it is. I don’t care who ends up on that list. I don’t care if David Gerrold ends up being the top of the list somewhere. That’s not the point, the point is that I want to see the voting numbers both for nomination and for actual voting go up above 5,000 up above 10,000, because the more people who are involved and who are voting the harder it is for any faction including puppies to manipulate the results.

(2) John C. Wright – “Neither Do They Grok Nicknames”

How is it that these mackerels have gained hegemony over our cultural institutions, down to and including such trivial corners of life as the Hugo Awards?

These are the same people who did not comprehend that obscure nuance of the English language known as a “nickname” was when used in my Hugo-nominated story One Bright Star to Guide Them. Instead it was generally agreed by the consensus that I had forgotten the name of my own character, on the grounds that she was a woman, and therefore hated by the author. I wish I were kidding. These people are deranged. It is not due to a physical damage to the brain, but to spiritual. Pride and ire darken the intellect.

(3) MRMADWRITER – “Merit’ vs ‘Politics’ in Fiction”

How is it that we live in a time where gender is the dominating topic, and the white male is pushed into a grave and buried in it. I thought equality stood for, if anything the treatment of all ethnic groups respectfully. True equality would be difficult to achieve in regards to the world that we live in today, hence the fact that how well you do in life, is purely based on merit and your determination to succeed. There a plenty of stories where people at the bottom of the barrel have risen to the top. It’s a matter of thinking outside the box and sometimes taking risks. But the Sad Puppies campaign is evidence that free expression, and the position of writer is now under intense scrutiny. If you don’t fit the narrative of the other side, your work is not even worth their time.

(4) Mark Ciocco on Kaedrin Weblog – “Hugo Awards: The Results”

So the Puppies did not do so well in the final voting. I was basically expecting this, though perhaps not to this flagrant extent (the 2500 Absolute No Awarders number is pretty eye opening). More evidence for my Action and Reaction theory, and I stand by most of what I said there. One thing I hope I’m wrong about is “No Award” being the worst possible outcome. It’s always been clear to me that the current Puppy approach does not work (assuming you’re actually trying to get your nominees an award and not, say, burn the whole thing down). My recommendation for Kate Paulk: Please, for the love of God, do not put together a slate. Focus your efforts on garnering participation and emphasize individuality. If you’re dead set on listing out nominees, go for a long reading list as opposed to a blatant slate. Brad Torgersen called for nominees early this year, and the grand majority of them didn’t make his slate (and some things appeared on the slate that weren’t discussed? I think? I don’t really feel like digging through that.) Perhaps coordinate that effort and be inclusive when you list out eligible nominees. We’re all fans, let’s write this year off and try not alienating everyone next year (that goes for everyone, not just the Puppies). Forbearance is a good thing.

The notion that voting on the current year gives you the ability to nominate next year is a brilliant one that might actually keep me participating. That being said, if there’s anything like this year’s clusterfuck brewing, I’m out. I can forgive this year because I think even the Puppies were surprised at how successful their slate approach was. I can understand the Noah Ward voters too. But if the same thing happens next year… I don’t know, why bother?

(5) Cathy Young on Real Clear Politics – “Mutiny at the Hugo Awards”

It’s also telling that Mixon bent over backwards to stress that she supports the righteous anger of the “oppressed” and that most of Requires Hate’s victims were themselves female, gay, transgendered, and/or nonwhite. When a commenter argued that treating members of “dominant” groups as acceptable targets was precisely the mindset that enabled Requires Hate, Mixon insisted that “a case can be made for marginalized people’s right to punch up.”

Despite all these disclaimers, Mixon’s exposé was too politically incorrect for some. Writer and blogger Deidre Saoirse Moen, who drafted the “Puppy-Free Hugo Awards Voting Guide,” also opposed the award to Mixon, at least partly because “it just feels like a white woman elder putting the younger woman of color in her ‘place.’” That Mixon ultimately got the award could be seen as repudiating the extremes of left-wing cultural politics. But in a way, it also affirms that criticism of such extremes is allowed only from within the true faith and from within the establishment (Mixon happens to be married to current SWFA president Steven Gould).

In this stifling atmosphere of “progressive” authoritarianism, the Sad Puppies’ mutiny makes sense.

Those who revile the Puppies as bigots if not outright fascists point to the pseudonymous Vox Day, a.k.a. Theodore Beale, the leader of his own “Rabid Puppies” faction whose Hugos slate largely overlapped with Sad Puppies. A writer and indie publisher kicked out of the SWFA a few years ago, Beale is also a prolific blogger who urges a radical Christian takeover of America and espouses views that actually can be called racist and misogynist with no exaggeration. (Among other things, he maintains that blacks are inherently more violent and less civilized than whites, that female suffrage is bad because women will “vote for whomever they would rather f***”, and that curtailing female education is rational because “a society that sends its women to college stops breeding”).

It’s hard to tell to what extent Vox Day’s public persona is performance art played for shock. In any case, this year’s Sad Puppy leaders, Correia and Brad Torgensen, repeatedly stated that they do not share Vox Day’s views and regard him as an unpleasant tactical ally, the Stalin to their Roosevelt and Churchill. (Hoyt, in turn, has written that she find his views “repulsive.”) They didn’t quite disavow him; but Torgensen has told Wired magazine that even if they had, their detractors would have found some other reason to demonize the Puppies.

Given the tenor and frequent sloppiness of anti-Puppy critiques, Torgensen is almost certainly right. Thus, in a Chicago Tribune piece on the Hugos controversy, Roosevelt University professor Gary Wolfe mentions Vox Day and his inflammatory views—then adds that “others” in the Puppies’ ranks “have even argued against women’s right to vote.” But Vox Day is the only one who has done that. Far more typical of the Puppies’ views is Best Fan Writer nominee Sanderson, who considers herself a pro-equality, anti-misandry feminist—and who nonetheless got skewered as an “anti-feminist” for (among other things) defending astrophysicist Matt Taylor’s public appearance in a shirt with scantily clad women on it.

As for Vox Day, the Puppies say that the progressive guardians of the fandom and WorldCon voters played right into his hands by “no-awarding” the categories with only Puppy nominees. Vox had planned to instruct his followers to vote “no award” on everything, in the explicit hope that a large number of “no awards” would help him “burn down” the Hugos.

(6) Louis Antonelli on Facebook

OK, it’s been a week since the Hugo nuking and Sasquan convention ended. I’ve gotten a lot off my chest and aired a lot of grievances. Seven days. I’m actually feeling played out. At this point, I think I’ve made all the points I’ve needed to make, done all the good I could. I’m feeling like it’s time to turn the corner, close the chapter on this fiasco and move forward.

A little Facebook poll – what do y’all think? Give me a “Like” or thumbs up if you’d to see a change in focus. That’s not to say I’ll always be a sweety pie – but let’s face it, both sides have had a lot to say and think this past week. I’d like to know what you think – is it time to move on?

(7) Steven Barnes on Facebook

On SJWs, racism, and the attempted control of language

There is a story that the Buddha was lecturing, and a man mocked him, insulting everything he said.  Finally, the Buddha paused.  “Excuse me, my friend,” he said.  “If I offered you a present, and you declined to accept it, to whom then does the present belong?”

“To you” the man said smugly.

“Precisely. And if you offer me insult, and I decline to accept it, to whom then does the abuse belong?”

And the man was speechless.

####

I don’t respect shifting language for political purposes.  It feels like Orwell’s  “Newthink” to me.  Very close to what NLP refers to as “slight of mouth” patterns.    Here’s a pair of examples, one from the Right, one from the Left.

  1. Social Justice Warrior.  Look at those words, and the only thing it could mean denotatively is someone willing to fight, and die, and change the world to achieve an idea of equality and justice.  Literally, I can think of nothing I’d be more honored to be considered, and nothing that more accurately describes the human beings I respect most in all the world. The attempt to demonize it is nothing more than a linguistic mind control.
  2. Racism.    The primary definition of this term is, simply, the differential attribution of worth or capacity based upon race or ethnicity.  Nice, neutral definition–anyone can have that, (probably most of us have a little of it)  it is global and pervasive and would seem to arise from tribalism and the tendency of children to think their mommy is prettier, their daddy stronger.   But over the last twenty years, academics have shifted that to be “perception of differential capacity based upon race or ethnicity PLUS the power to enforce your decisions and leverage your attitudes”.   That’s another interesting “slight of mouth” pattern, because it leads to the attitude that disadvantaged groups “cannot be racist.”   Since all of our cultural vitriol is directed at this term, it is an interesting “escape hatch”: WE can say whatever we want, YOU have to shut the @#$$ up.

I don’t buy either of these.  I’ve been attacked by both sides for disagreeing with them, and that’s fine by me.   So I state clearly, for the record: I think the term “Social Justice Warrior”, denotatively, is one of the finest things a human being can be. Want to use a different, connotative definition?  You are welcome to do so, and in so doing, allow us to examine your values, politics and thought patterns.

I think “racism” is a perception, a judgement about human beings, separate from whether that perception is correct, and separate from the actions you take once you’ve come to that conclusion.   I disagree that there are major differences between whites and blacks (for instance) morally or mentally, and believe that in almost all cases those who believe there are are being self-serving.  That immeasurable human evil has flowed from those beliefs.  The great Octavia Butler believed that the most dangerous quality of human beings is

  1. our hierarchical thinking.
  2. Our tendency to place ourselves higher on that hierarchy than others.

Further,  almost everyone changes that definition so that THEY “aren’t racist.”   THEY don’t burn crosses on lawns, use “The N-word.”   They have black friends, or have dated/married a woman of the group in question.  CAN’T be racists.  Can’t possibly have an attitude about the AVERAGE member of the other group, or any sense that whites would have survived slavery and its aftermath with greater ease.

And on the other side, why,  they can believe blacks are mentally, morally or athletically superior genetically…but they aren’t racist because they are members of a group with lesser power.

O.K.  That’s all fine.   If that’s the way you make sense of the world, and it works for you, I’m happy. Let me know how that works out.    I’ll probably never accept either position, and if that bothers you, you may call me whatever you want, or think whatever you wish.

But come Christmas morning, that box will be under YOUR tree, not mine.     Have fun.

(8) James Worrad – Sad Puppies, Post-Hugo Blues & Loose Genitalia…

“And what’s even sadder is this pathetic collection of power-hungry little Hitlers have destroyed what was once a genuinely respected award. “

Such is the outlook Kate Paulk, author, blogger and leader-apparent of Sad Puppies 2016 (Buckle yourselves in, folks!). A baroque example, admittedly, but at heart fairly typical of the SP campaign’s disconnect from the reality on the ground. To Paulk, if you didn’t use your vote like the SP’s told you then you were in lockstep with the shadowy cabal of mean, hissy-fitting SJWs/Communists/Decepticons. No excuses.

The idea most Hugo voters were motivated not by politics but by a wish to stick it to a bunch of pompous gits intent on ruining a much-loved event is not even laughable to Paulk. It’s more like she cannot even register the fact. To vote unpuppish was to be a… I dunno… a Stalin clone in a test tube or something. You were willing to burn the ground and salt your loins rather than let anyone else have it.

Any glance at 2015’s winners dispels this garish canard. How, for instance, would a mass ‘SJW hissy fit’ explain that win in the fan writer category, Laura Mixon’s takedown of a troll who hid their psychopathology behind a mass of faux social justice rhetoric?  Surely a lockstep leftie march would have crushed that eventuality before it began? Instead the ‘Mixon Report’ won with votes to spare.

And why? Because fandom’s wide and battered middle finally woke up and drew a line in the sand. Against the worst excesses of leftwing hypocrisy on one hand and the most thuggish excesses of right-wing stupidity on the other. Simples.

[Thanks to Mark and John King Tarpinian for some of these links.]

510 thoughts on “Need Less Bow, More Wow 8/30

  1. I’ll definitely second the recommendation on SHIP BREAKER. My eldest read it at about 14 and loved it.

  2. an interview in which Scalzi revealed his very average GPA to make the case that John is not very smart

    Bwahahahaha!
    I got into MENSA on the basis of test scores – my GPA has never been impressive, but there are people who tell me I’m smart. (I’ve also always thought I was pretty much of average intelligence, the result of growing up with those Bs and Cs (and a few worse than that), and having classmates who did get As all the time. It beats having an ego like VD’s, bigger than his body.)

  3. @Nephew fiction

    If The Martian resonated, I’m not convinced that going to YA is necessarily the way to go. I know 12-year-old-me Hated YA fiction. I read the juveniles from RAH last, after all of the adult novels. Anytime an adult tried to steer me to “kids’ books” and away from the good stuff, I immediately discounted their opinion: they obviously hadn’t listened to me. That said, I’m sure that YA is the thing for some young adults, just as it is for some adult-adults.

    I would ask the nephew what about The Martian he liked before trying to fob off books on him. Armed with that information, you can get much more relevant recommendations than the current shotgun approach that is being taken.

  4. First of all, his four and three foot shelf examples that are popular but don’t get nominated any more includes a lot of people like Anne McCaffery and OSC whose quality of writing has dropped off significantly during their careers.

    That’s exactly the objection I had. I had (at one point) a full shelf of OSC books. He was one of the authors (along with Anne Rice, Tad Williams, Charles De Lint and Stephen King, who I would buy whatever they came out with the moment it was published.) He and Anne Rice got progressively both weirder and more dedicated to the type of fiction I wasn’t interested in, and their prose and storytelling declined drastically. So I stopped buying them. When I read OSC’s anti-LGBT screeds, I boxed them all up and sent them to a book sale. The only book I re-bought for my e-reader is Speaker for the Dead because I still think it’s amazing and aged well.

    OSC doesn’t win awards anymore, not because he “fell out with the in-crowd” (or at least, not entirely, though I’m willing to bet that large swathes of fandom, which happens to contain an atypically large population of GSRM folks are no longer willing to be entertained by someone so toxic to them) but because his writing quality plummeted and the subtlety of the included messaging became blatant and ugly.

  5. Daveon on August 31, 2015 at 10:35 am said:
    Brian, what the ‘creators’ of the Hugo did in 1953 is by and large irrelevant to what the Hugos ended up doing just a few years later and then continued to do, over and over and over for 50 odd years. Pretending otherwise is nonsense, as well you actually know.

    The internet and technology has nothing to do with it.

    Actively campaigning for, and publishing blow by blow accounts of the standings hasn’t happened in my lifetime, and I’m REALLY not young.

    What was done the first time they awarded them is a stupid metric to use, and as we’ve had this discussion over and over and over and you still don’t get it, suggests you’re just continuing to play your own stupid and largely pointless game.

    I just feel the urge to point that out again in case somebody new to here gets caught in your nonsense.

    The “1959 system” was snail mail. It gave the most weight to the localized tastes of some big SF clubs, and a lot of curation was done by a small handful of wise people who would send you stuff so that when your dog barked you’d think golly I sure hope the best SF is here.

    Let’s try it. Everyone: stop looking at the internet after Labor Day.

    Today that structure gives the most weight to the biggest echo chambers. Work to recapture the spirit of the award, and if you want to change the rules do it in a way that helps recapture it. That’s the objection to EPH that no one wants to hear. If the award just picks up a couple favorites each from the Blue State Progressive Club, the Geniuses for Liberty and the Grandiose Barbarians, that’s boring.

    Want innovation? Have a dynamic top 20 long list go live the day the last Worldcon ends, updated in real time whenever anyone expresses a preference. Talk about them, and get all of the you people suck and wait that’s not eligible and thank you but I must decline this honor out of the way. Freeze it on March 1 and shortlist a few weeks later.

    Want to be conservative? Join Kate Paulk.

  6. Hampus Eckerman said:

    Ah, so it is the most popular authors that should get Hugos? Well, then. Here is the list:

    http://www.amazon.com/author-rank/Science-Fiction/books/16272

    Oh, thanks a bunch, Hampus. This led me to ordering six more books: I went to the Amazon UK site to order Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, in Amazon USA’s spot 14 (never heard of her or the book before, but the reviews convinced me); it turned out to be among their three-books-for-£10 offers.

  7. Camestros Felapton said:

    My laptop says:

    “I’m not a mackerel morlock, I’m a mackerel morlock’s Mac
    and the Mac of a mackerel morlock is a morlock’s mackerel hack.”

    Bravo! Here, have… [crrrack] …half of my internet.

  8. I just finished STATION ELEVEN today. It’s wonderful.

    And those folks who’ve convinced themselves that SF awards are all about snooty literary stuff should read it so they can get a clue what actual literary SF is, and how works like ANCILLARY JUSTICE ain’t it.

    They might get a sense of the actual range of the genre.

    But whatever. It’s a compelling, involving, beautifully-realized novel, full of clear, evocative prose. And it’s literary as all get out.

  9. That’s the objection to EPH that no one wants to hear.

    That’s the objection to EPH that no one is making (because it makes no sense).

  10. Hypnotosov: If thats from a brian z comment, its the objection to EPH that most people aren’t hearing. Because they’ve whited out the brian z comments.

  11. Kurt Busiek: I just finished STATION ELEVEN today. It’s wonderful… It’s a compelling, involving, beautifully-realized novel, full of clear, evocative prose. And it’s literary as all get out.

    I enjoyed the book, but AAAAUUUUGGGGHHHH!… all those dangling, incomplete sentences.

    I don’t know if that’s considered “literary”, or if the author had a shitty editor. But it drove me crazy.

  12. redheadedfemme at 3:44 pm said:
    I second the idea of periodic recommendation posts here. I’ve already bookmarked several things I could list.

    Ahem, don’t know if you’ve noticed but commenters here recommend stuff at the slightest hint of an invitation (and sometimes even that is unnecessary). It usually goes, “Hey guys, I’m looking for stories that [INSERT PARAMETERS HERE]. Any suggestions?”, and is typically followed by deluge of recommendations. It’s like they love reading & sharing their love, at length. Or something.

    (This is in stark contrast to the vociferous groups who gamed the Hugo nominations this year, who seem unwilling or unable to talk about books they love.)

  13. Nephewmendations: I think Julian May’s Saga Of The Pliocene Exiles is perfect for advanced adolescent reading. Exotic, action-packed, full of roguish, anti-heroic characters, complex, epic plots and tons of action. Characters die, stakes are high, there’s wit and humour, often dark, tons of moral ambiguity, Celtic and Northern European myths are evoked, and Sauron gets redeemed. It DOES NOT stand up in later years, (too much in love with Sauron, for one thing, one or two odd anti-Irish remarks, not as clever or as ambiguous as it seemed at the time, and the anti-heroic roguish charm has evaporated from many of the characters) but when I was a teenager it was pure sci-fi magic, a sharp and invigorating counterpoint to The Lord Of The Rings.

  14. Nigel: I think Julian May’s Saga Of The Pliocene Exiles is perfect for advanced adolescent reading… It DOES NOT stand up in later years

    I’ll second that. When I first read the series, I thought it was awesome. Later, when I attempted to start a re-read, I thought, “WTF? Who invited the Suck Fairy in???”

  15. Hm. I read May’s Saga when it was published and found it…sorta icky. But I was already over 30. Possibly teen-me would have liked it better (but I suspect not).

  16. @Scott Frazer Sure people pick their labels and then the labels mean only people who call themselves X and there’s no useful way to define those terms without being yelled at by someone. Then throw in umbrella terms and hear ‘I don’t want to be lumped in with them!’

    So messy.

    BTW there’s no ‘she’ to be mad at me in this case, I picked a subject from the list semi-randomly.

  17. Rev. Bob on September 1, 2015 at 3:39 am said:

    I have no desire to endorse the Rabids’ “exploding rocket” design.

    OK, it was just something I ginned up quickly for the logo part that I thought would fit the theme. Anyone using the keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk web shop can design and upload their own logo, or use one of the predefined one, or none at all.

    I once used the shop to order two cups with this design, and was quite satisfied with their service and with the cups.

  18. @cmm:

    Many recommendations have been made already, and I’d just like to second the one for the Miles Vorkosigan series by Lois McMaster Bujold. It’s one of the very best series I’ve read, and could well be appreciated by a smart 12- or 13-year-old. What makes the series even more impressive is that the tones of the books vary considerably, while remaining parts of the whole.

    Devin said:

    If The Martian resonated, I’m not convinced that going to YA is necessarily the way to go. I know 12-year-old-me Hated YA fiction. I read the juveniles from RAH last, after all of the adult novels. Anytime an adult tried to steer me to “kids’ books” and away from the good stuff, I immediately discounted their opinion: they obviously hadn’t listened to me. That said, I’m sure that YA is the thing for some young adults, just as it is for some adult-adults.

    From my own experience: I started reading science fiction at age 10, straight with “adult” novels, and didn’t even find YA novels until a few years later. Did me no harm.

    Also, I don’t really share the concern of keeping a 12-year-old reader, who is transitioning into sexuality anyway, away from books with depictions of sex. Sexuality a part of life, and consequently an element in many excellent books.

    Furthermore 1: Our western culture is so full of sexual imagery that I’d venture that reading about sexual themes in good books will actually do good to a person: art over commercials, so to say.

    Furthermore 2: Should your nephew not be a straight person, science fiction that features non-straights would be an excellent confidence-builder. Diversity, again.

  19. it’s There Will be Dragons by John Ringo. Cue the ritual cry of “Oh, John Ringo, no!”

    Do’h I feel like a fool having to ask.

  20. Re: the suggestions for YA books — an older book for someone someone who liked The Martian.

    A Fall of Moondust by Clarke. Lots of Brits being stoic and drinking tea as their moon crawler slowly sinks beneath the surface of Mars. I remember it as surprisingly tense and a must read for budding spacemen engineers.

  21. re; the rolling Stones,and students in space. I recall an interview with an autodidact applying for a university place in Inda earlier this year. He had taught himself Maths. The only subject where he could be sure that his answers were right. Anything else he would have needed someone to check his work.

  22. @Soon Lee

    Oh yeah, I know about recommendation lists. I’ve done that myself. I meant posting an open list for Hugo nominations for a specific category, e.g. Best Novella or Best Related Work.

  23. I wouldn’t worry about sexuality in a book for a twelve-year-old. Straight-up porn is probably not exactly appropriate, though we got internet access right when my kids entered that age and I never filtered their access at all.

  24. @Lurkertype: OOOO, JELUS (Duane’s fanfic).
    Well, remember the numbered list is Alexander Doty’s list: I just use it a lot. #6 is something that probably NOBODY including him or me understand—though it’s my favorite. I think of it as sort of speculative theorizing—look at how the understandings of gender and sexuality have changed even in my lifetime (coffcoffturning60). Who can imagine what they will be like in another fifty years? #6 opens up possibilities that we’re just speculating about. The others are more, hmmm, applicable today, but one important aspect of intersectional thinking is that the ‘labels’ or categories we have in language are never sufficient to accurately explain all of “reality” (and I know, people going oo ick postmodernism, but really, look at all the new coinages we have created, again just in my lifetime—and my grandfather went from using a horse drawn plough on his wheat farm to seeing a man on the moon!—plus, why do people never really complain about new coinages for techy stuff but bitch about new coinages for gender and sexuality—people in general, not people here, I hasten to add).

  25. For those of you who are saying, “Don’t steer the nephew to YA, go straight to adult!” may I respectfully submit that the YA field today isn’t exactly what it was 20–or even 10–years ago? And a young reader discovering SFF might well appreciate some suggestions in the “older” YA category? A book like Doctorow’s Little Brother, for example, would probably not have been published in YA, once upon a time. SFF is notoriously age-flexible, more so than most categories of fiction.

    Seriously, if you are thinking of YA as “kids books,” you . . . may not have read much YA in recent years, perhaps? For that matter, even “back in the day,” it wasn’t really all that uncommon for YA genre novels to then be republished as adult paperbacks. (Er . . . speaking of God Stalk, though I don’t know if that’s really a typical example.)

  26. Now that belonging to File 770 makes us a part of SF’s “inner circle clique,” shouldn’t we have T-shirts and other identifying swag? When I’m at a con I want to know when I’ve encountered another Friend of Mike.

  27. @Mary Frances

    I agree in general, but in this specific case I think cmm was saying that Nephew is pretty good at finding YA but would need more guidance in the Adult fiction arena (avoiding explicit sex scenes and excessive violence).

  28. YA, so far as I can see, is gobbling up large parts both of what used to be (old) adult, and of what used to be children’s. In ten years’ time everything aimed at a reader between five and fifty will be called YA.

  29. I enjoyed the book, but AAAAUUUUGGGGHHHH!… all those dangling, incomplete sentences.

    I didn’t even notice. But then, I use incomplete sentences all the time in comics writing, so maybe I’m inured to them.

    Fragments! Go fragments! Oot oot! Go fragments!

  30. Fragments as a conscious style choice. Fragments of sentences like doors you can’t walk through. The impact of a well-placed fragment. “Complete sentences” as a rule of thumb rather than a rule. Fragments.

  31. I remember absorbing an awful lot of unhelpful and sometimes downright nasty attitudes from sex scenes that I was too young for. In some cases it was not the authors’ fault; they had, as they were writing for adults, left out some of the scaffolding that I would have needed to understand the full context and implications. In other cases, the authors did indeed have unhelpful and/or nasty attitudes themselves.

  32. Meredith on September 1, 2015 at 9:23 am said: I agree in general, but in this specific case I think cmm was saying that Nephew is pretty good at finding YA

    I think we’re basically in agreement on specifics–it’s why I was focusing on “older” YA suggestions (older in terms audience) and trying to stay away from older-according-to-publication YA. Once upon a time, YA was 9-14; today, it’s all over the map, and can be a problem for bookstores and libraries. There was a lovely short novel by John Barnes–Orbital Resonance?–that I’ve often thought of in this context. It was one of the better coming of age novels I’d read in a long time, but it was published as an adult novel. I’ve always wondered why, and assumed it had something to do with publishing standards for YA novels in, wait, 1991? (Some minor language issues, I thought–nothing outrageous, and nothing that should have kept the book out of the YA sections, in my opinion.) I haven’t read it in years; wonder how it’s held up?

    Come to think, cmm, that might be a good one to suggest to your nephew if you can find a copy . . .

  33. @Mary Frances

    My mother (school librarian) is convinced that The Goblin Emperor could have been published as YA. It’s a very fuzzy genre!

  34. Mary Frances said:

    For those of you who are saying, “Don’t steer the nephew to YA, go straight to adult!” may I respectfully submit that the YA field today isn’t exactly what it was 20–or even 10–years ago? And a young reader discovering SFF might well appreciate some suggestions in the “older” YA category? A book like Doctorow’s Little Brother, for example, would probably not have been published in YA, once upon a time. SFF is notoriously age-flexible, more so than most categories of fiction.

    Good points, but what I was trying to say, perhaps unsuccessfully, that it’s probably not a bad thing to also recommend or give good “adult” books for/to a 12-year-old, within reason.

    Seriously, if you are thinking of YA as “kids books,” you . . . may not have read much YA in recent years, perhaps? For that matter, even “back in the day,” it wasn’t really all that uncommon for YA genre novels to then be republished as adult paperbacks.

    Andrew M said:

    YA, so far as I can see, is gobbling up large parts both of what used to be (old) adult, and of what used to be children’s. In ten years’ time everything aimed at a reader between five and fifty will be called YA.

    And some of the “adult” sf books I’ve read might just as well have been marketed as YA. So maybe the distinction isn’t that significant anyway.

  35. I hope that Kevin Standlee is working on training a backup Kevin Standlee in case anything happens to the first Kevin Standlee.

    Sounds like the Chapters Five approach as applied to SMOFs!

    On recommendations, second the Young Wizards series because the books are very “technical” with their magic in a way that reminds me of The Martian. Another vote for the “Tripods” series as well since I really enjoyed those back in the day, though it’s good to recognize they’re problematic in their lack of female protagonists. (That bugged me when I was twelve and bugs me more today.)

    Whoever suggested Varley’s “Thunder and Lightning” series – I agree, but only as far as the first two books. The third, Rolling Thunder, is an absolute mess IMO. It was so dreadful that I’ve been shying away from the fourth one, in the fear that it might be as bad as that. And I really enjoyed the first two books in the series.

  36. @rrede

    I teach a marginalized literatures course on occasion, and am likely to be assigned it next spring, so am happily planning women’s sf as a focus.

    Every time I see you talking about the topics you teach I want to go back to university and take part in your courses. The only thing I took away from studying German lit was a fundamental hatred for German post-war literature (talk about privilidged white men whining). English lit at least introduced me to Margaret Atwood. I still remember fondly the surprise on the professor’s face when I picked Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire as the of the books I wanted to talk about during my preliminary exams.

  37. Jim Henley: Fragments as a conscious style choice. Fragments of sentences like doors you can’t walk through. The impact of a well-placed fragment. “Complete sentences” as a rule of thumb rather than a rule. Fragments.

    I think I’ll just go have a lie-down.

  38. Mary Frances said:

    There was a lovely short novel by John Barnes–Orbital Resonance?–that I’ve often thought of in this context. It was one of the better coming of age novels I’d read in a long time, but it was published as an adult novel.

    I took a look at the book on Amazon.com, and it sounds great. Also, Barnes has a pretty interesting author biography, which includes this:

    I used to think I was the only paid consulting statistical semiotician for business and industry in the world, but I now know four of them, and can find websites for about ten more. Statistical semiotics is about the ways in which the characteristics of a population of signs come to constitute signs themselves. It has applications in marketing, poll analysis, and annoying the literary theorists who want to keep semiotics all to themselves and spend their time studying individual signs and the processes around them in very deep detail. It also shouldn’t be confused with computational semiotics, which was about how software could parse complex signs to communicate with humans and other software. Just to make it a bit more confusing, both statistical and computational semiotics are being gradually subsumed into natural language processing, which in turn seems to be being absorbed into data science. Someday all universities will just have a Department of Stuff and that’s what everyone will major in.

    I don’t know what it is exactly, but when I grow up, I want to be a consulting statistical semiotician.

  39. MickyFinn on September 2, 2015 at 12:22 am said:

    God Stalk?

    Yep. A few weeks back, File770 regular Kyra ran a ‘bracket’ which pitted N different SF books against each other, one of which was P.C. Hodgell’s God Stalk. Alas, that book was defeated pretty early, but God Stalk‘s partisans really like it, to the point where it was nominated (with varying degrees of seriousness) several times in later rounds.

  40. I’m fairly sure, after a few threads where this has happened right at the end, that snowcrash is using God Stalk as a way to click the comment thread ticky box. Could be wrong!

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