Pixel Scroll 3/21/16 The Incredible Sulk

(1) SCALZI PREDICTS. Today John Scalzi answered “Reader Request Week 2016 #2: Will Humans Survive?”

But we’re smart! I hear you say. Sure, that’s true, but does it then follow that a) we’re smart enough not to basically kill ourselves by wrecking the planet, b) that our intelligence means that evolution is done with us. The answers here, if you ask me (and you did) are: We’ll see, and probably not. In the latter case, there’s an argument to be made that our intelligence will increase speciation, as humans intentionally do to our species what natural selection did unintentionally before, and do it on a much shorter timescale, in order to adapt to the world that is currently rapidly changing under our feet, in no small part because of our own activities.

So, no. Human beings, meaning Homo sapiens, will almost certainly not be here a billion years from now.

(2) LASFS SPEAKERS. Three big names will be guest speakers at the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society in the coming weeks.

  • March 24 – Jerry Pournelle Speaks (My Favorite Book (LASFS meeting)
  • April 7 — Robert J. Sawyer – Special Guest (LASFS meeting)
  • April 28 — Larry Niven – Guest Speaker (LASFS meeting)

(3) MILLENNICON RIP. Millennicon 30, held last weekend, ended the convention’s run. Con chair Christy Johnson announced on Facebook:

It is with great sadness to announce that Millennicon 30 was our last. We tried our best to keep going but all good things must come to an end. We wanted to go out with a good con, and I think we did.

We were hoping for a higher attendance and hotel room nights, but alas, it was not to be.

Thank you to the best con-com, our guests of honor, dealers, artists, fan clubs and our attendees. Thanks to all those that lived local and still got hotel rooms. Thanks to those that regularly stayed at the hotel to help keep our costs down. Thanks to those that brought in their friends and family to join us. We survived this long because of you.

We hope you have enjoyed yourself over the years and remember us with fondness. We, the con-com, became a family through Millennicon. Many of you were also a part of our family.

Thanks for 30 years!

(4) COVER MODELS. Jim C. Hines has several fascinating photos from Millennicon here, including a faux book cover pose with Laura Resnick.

(5) TAXING MATTERS. At the SFWA blog, the issue that is every tax auditor’s nightmare is covered in “Ask the Tax Czarina: Hobby or Business?”

Q: Is my writing is a hobby or a business?

A: There are a number of factors the IRS looks at. The most important factor is whether or not you have a profit motive. You are not in a trade or business unless you intend to make a profit and have some sort of plan for how you’ll accomplish that. Note that this doesn’t mean you must make a profit. Lots of small businesses fail. But the burden of proof here is on the taxpayer. If you’re losing money, the IRS may assert that you’re engaging in a hobby, especially if you only do it part-time or your primary support comes from another source.

So, wow. That sounds subjective, doesn’t it? Why yes, yes it is. It’s a facts and circumstances test and can be highly individual.

(6) AMAZON LANDS DOCTOR WHO. Amazon Prime, which is replacing Netflix and Hulu as online video streamer, will initiate service this month reports Variety.

The man that stops the monsters is back! Seasons 1-8 of Doctor Who will be exclusively available to stream on Amazon Video starting March 27, with Season 9 coming on September 6 2016 and ‘The Husbands of River Song’ following on September 25. Fantastic!

(7) NUSSBAUM’S FAVORITES. Abigail Nussbaum is back with “The 2016 Hugo Awards: My Hugo Ballot, Publishing and Fan Categories”. Here’s just one example –

Best Fan Writer:

  • Nina Allan – Allan continues to be one of the smartest, most insightful reviewers currently working.  Her reviews for Strange Horizons never fail to convince me to read the books she raves about, and in her recent blogging about mystery novels she shows herself to be equally insightful about that genre as she is about science fiction.

(8) POLL WORKER. George R.R. Martin works to get out the vote in “Countdown to Liftoff”, which rounds up links to his Hugo recommendation posts, plus a few late additions:

I did overlook some good choices even in the categories I covered. Naomi Novik’s UPROOTED is her best work to date, a very strong fantasy (though I had problems with the ending) and probably worth a nomination in Novel. I forgot about EX MACHINA when talking about Long Form Drama, but it’s a gripping and well done film, worthy of consideration. I recommended OUTLANDER for Short Form Drama, but it should be noted that the first season was telecast in two eight-episode arcs, and only the second eight are eligible, as the first eight were broadcast in 2014. I think JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL should be nominated in Long Form as a whole, rather than in Short Form, by episode, but others disagree.

(9) A PIUS GEEK. In case you’re not getting enough of this, Declan Finn goes 15 rounds with Damien G. Walter, a bit of overkill, since he stretches Damien on the deck in the first round.

The level of stupid maybe be getting to me.  The Puppy Kickers — like Damien — seem to be going full on insane.  They’ve apparently decided that they can just spew insults, and it’s reality. Wright will never be a pro writer again because they hate him, and anyone they hate must be blackballed. Brad and Larry are demagogues, because Damien said so — and they “ran away” because Brad and Larry didn’t want to play with this crap anymore.

Then again, these ARE the same people that insist that Brad ran away to the Middle East, because being shot at was preferable to standing up to the great and powerful Puppy Kickers. Yes, there are some idiots who’ve actually stated this, online. In public.

See what I mean about the stupid? It burns a LOT.

Damien doesn’t even seem to consider that, had more of his friends came to play at the SP4 site, they could have taken over the list entirely. But that would have meant engaging with people who disagree with him.

(10) LISTING TO STARBOARD. Font Folly leads off its roundup “Keymasters and Gatekeepers” with this comment —

So the Sad Puppies have officially released their recommendation list. Yes, I said list, not slate. Last year’s was a slate because there were exactly five “suggestions” in each category and the puppy supporters were encouraged to vote the exact slate (whether they had actually read the stories or not) in order to ensure that they had whole categories locked up. This year different people are in charge of the Sad Puppy campaign, and they gathered a big list after taking recommendations for months. In all of the fiction categories, at least, there are more than five recommendations, so you can’t slate vote it.

A few other people have written about this year’s list. In sad puppies 4: the… better behaving?, Dara Korra’ti says a lot of what I was thinking when I saw the list. I’m glad that the Sad Puppies have taken a more transparent approach. I’m glad that the list isn’t dominated by stories published in only one very small publication house owned by one of the organizers. I’m really glad that three of the recommendations in a single category are not by the same author. I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt that the people running it this year are sincerely trying to do no more than get more of the works they like on the ballot, rather than push a political agenda. I’ve never objected to recommendation lists no matter who makes those recommendations.

(11) TO REMOVE OR NOT TO REMOVE. Kate Paulk has placed asterisks beside two works on “The List” at Sad Puppies 4 whose authors asked to have them removed altogether. And did so with a characteristic Paulkian turn of phrase.

No corrections have been made yet: I’m still catching up from Lunacon. I’ll note the edits at the top of the page when I make them. The Mad Genius Club post will NOT be edited so my typos and miscategorizations will remain there for all posterity. Or posterior, which I suspect is the more apt way to put it.

In comments on “The List” at Mad Genius Club Paulk made this response:

Alastair,

I will not insult those who consider your novella to be Hugo-worthy by removing you from the List. I will, however, be updating the version of this post at http://sadpuppies4.org/the-list/ to note that you prefer that your work not be purchased, enjoyed, and nominated without your prior approval.

Alastair Reynolds answered:

Hello Kate. You’re welcome to do that, of course, but it does not represent my position. Nonetheless thank you for publishing my comment and I wish you all the best.

(12) SCALZI COMMENTS. John Scalzi has been following the news.

(13) GODWIN IS HOLDING ON LINE TWO. Jim C. Hines weighs in on Twitter.

(14) LOL. If for some reason you’re unhappy being recommended by the Bay Area Science Fiction Association, Kevin’s your man.

(15) GOOD FORM. Rachael Acks’ handy guide to “Reasons why I will not be replying to your argument”. Here is item #4 from a list of 17.

4. You have thus far done such a good job at arguing with straw man conceptions of my words that I’ve come to realize my input is entirely superfluous. Please feel free to continue this argument without me.

(16) FREEDOM. Chris Meadows’ TeleRead article “’Sad Puppies’ Hugo campaign posts recommendation list, spawns new controversy” delivers gritty details along with a broad overview.

In the blog post’s comments, Hoyt explained the current plan was to put an asterisk next to the names of those who asked to be removed—which prompted chuckles from other Puppies, in reference to the controversy of last year’s Hugo Awards ceremony that involved the handing out of laser-cut wooden asterisks to every winner that year.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day RedWombat.]

196 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/21/16 The Incredible Sulk

  1. @steve davidson:

    I would say it is more a case of “Meet the new boss, same as what we dreamed up was the old boss.”

  2. Regarding #5 (the wisdom of the Tax Czarina) I’m reminded of a local-to-me artist/musician, Venus de Mars, who had a long fight about just this issue. She thought she was a professional artist, since that was how she was trying to make a living and she had no other job, and she took deductions accordingly. The state tax auditors decided she didn’t make enough money to call herself professional and had no right to deductions, and therefore owed them thousands of dollars. IIRC Venus de Mars eventually prevailed. But it shows how important this distinction between professional and hobbyist can actually be, and what a hassle it can be if you get that wrong.

    Re #11: Alastair Reynolds seems wonderfully professional and restrained.

  3. Honestly, I don’t believe anybody’s playing any deep games. Nobody involved is a Machiavellian genius, except in their own fevered imaginations. Everybody’s just throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks. I’m not gonna stoop to believing in conscious conspiracy when curious poking, blind stabbing, and outraged reaction explains things just as well.

    I’m sure there’s a few agents of chaos who enjoy stirring shit wherever they can and think they’re terribly clever playing both sides, but this whole thing is like the Law of Unintended Consequences writ genre.

  4. Filer and Belgian resident Nicholas Whyte has reported in as okay on Twitter, by the way.

  5. @RedWombat

    I was saying deep game as humor – the idea that some of the Filers who posted to SP4 were puppies is kind of laughable, at least from what they’ve said here, and are not even this places’ more noted argumentative types.

    @Nigel

    Good to hear.

  6. I am willing to make a Hugo prediction and that is when the full nomination stats come out I and my works will have gotten a single digit number of nominations, based on the fact nothing I did in 2015 has been worth mentioning on anyone lists. Oh, well. I will try harder this year. High hopes for the collected Heinlein, Norton and Lee reviews.

  7. Filer and Belgian resident Nicholas Whyte has reported in as okay on Twitter, by the way.

    I was previously unaware that Whyte lived in Belgium, but this is good news to hear.

  8. On the off chance that any readers here might be interested, I now have a scheduled publication date for the third Alpennia novel, Mother of Souls. It will be out in November 2016, so I hope the people who have already filled up their book-dance cards for the year consider finding a way to squeeze it in.

  9. [7] Again, Nussbaum’s picks reflect the narrow range of her reading. She lists Nina Allan as Fan Writer with not even a mention of Allan’s fine fiction, perhaps because it doesn’t appear free online.

  10. @Heather Rose Jones – Woo!

    @TheYoungPretender – Honestly, it’s not just you. Some of the what-are-they-planning?! stuff is wearing me out. I don’t think anybody’s planning much of anything, we’re all just flailing around and hoping…

  11. @Lois I’ve just gotten to read an arc of Allan’s reworking of THE RACE. Indeed, her fiction is fine (if perhaps maybe a shade too much in the literary end for my typical reading tastes, but it does provide a way to briefly step to the side of core SF/F for me)

  12. @TheYoungPretender: I apologize for me confusion, but can you tell me what you mean about your pseudonym in the context of my comment. There key be a great witticism there I am not clever enough to get this morning.

  13. Heather Rose Jones wrote:

    On the off chance that any readers here might be interested, I now have a scheduled publication date for the third Alpennia novel, Mother of Souls. It will be out in November 2016, so I hope the people who have already filled up their book-dance cards for the year consider finding a way to squeeze it in.

    I have room. For the third Alpennia novel I will make room, if necessary.

  14. I’m left with a question abut fan writer. Nussbaum cites Allan’s work for Strange Horizons as one of the arguments for her as fan writer — but Strange Horizons pays what are often considered pro rates. Similarly, on the Spreadsheet of Doom, I saw Mari Ness, but the reason to consider her seems to be her writings at tor.com, especially the Disney Read-Watch, which, again, I would consider a pro publication. (The Disney Read-Watch has made my Best Related Work nominations, though).

    Short version, is it fan writing when it’s pro-published? Seems against the spirit of the award, although unsurprisingly, some of the best fannish writing will be more than good enough for paid publication.

  15. Short version, is it fan writing when it’s pro-published? Seems against the spirit of the award, although unsurprisingly, some of the best fannish writing will be more than good enough for paid publication.

    The description on the Hugo Award site for Fan Writer says:

    Note that it does not just apply to writing done in fanzines. Work published in semiprozines, and even on mailing lists, blogs, BBSs, and similar electronic fora, can be including when judging people for this Award. Only work in professional publications should not be considered.

    Strange Horizons has been nominated as a semiprozine in the past. I don’t know if they still qualify as such, but if they do, then according to this definition writing for them would be fan writing.

  16. What I have been reading (bingeing): Kylie Chan and K. B. Spangler.
    I’m not sure what to call it, but they feel like they are in the same sub-genre, and I think anyone who likes one might like the other. It may be a matter of tone as much as anything.
    Kylie Chan: martial arts, tech and Chinese deities and supernatural beings in modern Hong Kong. With snark, and politics/bureaucrats, because Chinese deities. First book of the first trilogy is “White Tiger”, final book of the third trilogy will be “Black Jade”.
    K.B. Spangler: martial arts, tech, cyborgs, and ghosts in Washington DC and elsewhere. With snark, and politics/bureaucrats, because DC. Also a talking koala.

    Someone here or on Making lIght mentioned that Kylie Chan’s first novel was good, and an inexpensive ebook. I downloaded it, then the second, finished the first trilogy and started the second.
    Then I realized that the space felt familiar, so I did a reread of Spangler in internal chronological order: the A Girl and Her Fed webcomic up to the time jump, then the novels, then the rest of AGAHF.
    Then I went back to Kylie Chan…

    The worst thing about both series is that they are incomplete: the 9th and last volume of Kylie Chan’s series is due out later this year, and AGAHF is ongoing and the novels have not yet filled the time jump.

  17. Lenora Rose: The rule for Fan Writer explicitly includes writing in semiprozines, which I believe Strange Horizons still is.

    (As to the spirit of the award: historically the distinction between pro and fan was defined entirely in terms of circulation, not of money. The internet has made that impossible, so now we have the weird ‘more than a quarter of anyone’s income’ definition; and the nature of semiprozines has also changed; so the borders between pro and fan now look rather ragged. But it seems to me that it’s reasonable to be generous in defining ‘fan’, especially as there’s no award for a pro writer [of criticism].)

  18. Okay, so Allan qualifies as fan (Ness still doesn’t, at least not for that work)

  19. Strange Horizons states that it pays $30 for a review of at least 1K words, which may or may not be relevant to the fan/pro issue here.

    They certainly publish quality stuff from critics who would generally be considered “pros”, for some sense of the term that may not include the Hugo classifications.

    Andrew M – that’s just what the field needs. Another Award for pro criticism!

  20. Now as to Mari Ness, that’s trickier; yes, Tor.com is a professional publication. The formal rule for fan writer doesn’t actually rule this out; it says ‘anyone whose work appears in…. publicly available electronic media’. But taken literally, that’s absurd, so it presumably should be read in the light of some assumption about the meaning of ‘fan’; and the informal Hugo guidelines take it to mean ‘not in a professional publication’, which seems reasonable.

    (Sorry, we crossed there.)

  21. I tried this elsewhere and it was misunderstood so rewriting and trying again.

    I looked over the individual rec pages on SP4 and it’s a very small group making and seconding recommendations. I saw 4 regular filers (names mentioned earlier in this thread) involved as late as mid-February offering books and/or adding the 2nd or 3rd recommendation to get it on the SP4 final list.

    Its baffling to me how any anti-slater couldn’t have foreseen the situation they’d be putting authors in. Obviously anti-slate authors would request removal from SP4 list. Why put someone you respect in the position of being a puppy leader target? Just puzzles me.

    Note I’m specifically asking the question to filers/anti-slaters who participated in SP4 recs.

  22. @RedWombat

    Can’t say I blame you. Teddy did enough to ride the wave last year that I thought he was actually clever; now that I know what I should have guessed – that he was really a third-rater in craft as well as morals – I regret wasting the brain power.

  23. Just puzzles me.

    I didn’t do it, but I considered going on and nominating John Scalzi. Partly because it would annoy the likes of the Phantom, but mainly because it might induce puppies to waste a vote on someone who’s said that they’d decline any nominations, so (possibly) giving the 6th place guy a look in.

  24. @James Davis Nicholl — You’re one of my Fan Writer picks. I can’t say which of your reviews I found most illuminating, but there were lots.

    From this year, I was so relieved to find you had the same problems I did with The Best of All Possible Worlds. Feeling like you’re the only one put off by a really popular book can make you wonder if you’re way off base. I also hated the way the heroine was manipulated into marriage in that book; “we know what’s right for you, and you’re sure to realize it with the right guidance.”

  25. Tasha Turner on March 22, 2016 at 8:47 am said:

    Its baffling to me how any anti-slater couldn’t have foreseen the situation they’d be putting authors in. Obviously anti-slate authors would request removal from SP4 list. Why put someone you respect in the position of being a puppy leader target? Just puzzles me.

    I participated, partly to give the new iteration of the Sad Puppies the benefit of the doubt, partly to see if they would be open and honest and partly because I’m all in favour of talking about books.

    I don’t regret helping give them the opportunity to do something positive for the genre; I do regret that they have instead chosen to behave like jerks.

  26. So to connect two themes on this page: do people think that James Nicoll’s book blog qualifies him for Fan Writer? (There’s no doubt that he is qualified for Fan writer, on account of his LJ, for which he was being nominated before the book blog began; but my question is specifically about the book blog.)

  27. Since Fan Writer is awarded to a person, not for the person’s work in a specific medium, then I’m not sure it matters. There is work on http://jamesdavisnicoll.com/ from 2015 though, so in the pure ‘Did he write anything’ question, then yes.

  28. So to connect two themes on this page: do people think that James Nicoll’s book blog qualifies him for Fan Writer?

    I don’t see why not.

  29. @James Davis Nicholls
    Your on my Fan Writer list

    @Heather Rose Jones
    Exciting news indeed. You’ll let us know when it’s available for pre-order?

    @rob_matic
    So the authors likely problems with being on the SP4 slate/list didn’t factor into your thinking at any point?

  30. Good news about Nick Whyte, and thanks to Nigel for passing it on. And the very best wishes for Camestros’ adventure; please have lots and lots of fun.

    Liked the Scalzi tweet; he nailed it.

    I’ve finished Perilous and Fair, and, once I’d got over the shock of discovering that at least some scholars had apparently managed to convince themselves that Tolkien’s female characters were models of domestic rectitude, I enjoyed it immensely. I shall be nominating it in the related works category.

    One of the things which disappointed me in the films was that Peter Jackson made Eowyn a lot more girly than Tolkien had; I’m relieved to discover that the Eowyn I encountered at the age of thirteen is still Eowyn…

  31. Very glad to hear that Nick Whyte is okay. It makes a lot of our other concerns look very small . . .

    I was tempted several times to nominate stuff on SP4. They really did invite everyone to contribute. George R.R. Martin urged people to try to reconcile. There’s something that just feels nice about making up with people.

    What stopped me every time was the fear of hurting the stories I nominated rather than helping them. It’s no surprise authors were upset. After last year, it looks as though inclusion on any Puppy slate would be the kiss of death for all but the strongest nominees.

    And the association with white nationalism will never wash off. Never.

  32. Kip W. @ 6.27 am:

    I am reminded inexorably by all this chat of inundation of the footnotes in Terry Pratchett’s Pyramids regarding the seasons in Djelibeybi:-

    *Like many river valley cultures the Kingdom has no truck with such trivia as summer, springtime and winter, and bases its calendar squarely on the great heartbeat of the Djel; hence the three seasons, Seedtime, Inundation and Sog. This is logical, straightforward and practical, and only disapproved of by barbership quartets. **
    **Because you feel an idiot singing ‘In the Good Old Inundation’, that’s why.

  33. Aaron:

    I don’t see why not.

    Because he is paid for reviews. I don’t know if the payments are such as to make it a professional publication.

  34. Because he is paid for reviews.

    The definition of “fan writer” doesn’t turn on whether the writer is paid or not, but rather whether the publication the writing appears in qualifies as professional.

  35. Which is why I said:

    I don’t know if the payments are such as to make it a professional publication.

  36. JJ on March 22, 2016 at 12:21 am said:

    I’m thinking that Hines’ attire was not skimpy enough for a book cover parody. But I still LOLed.

    If I’d known we were going to do that, I’d have packed my Cover Posing Wardrobe!

  37. @Andrew M
    I’d say not since James isn’t counted as a review publication which has been a bit of a bone of contention. But he’ll need to read the definition of fan versus pro and get back to us for a definitive answer. I hate feeling like its my business to know someone’s income per se to answer some of these fan versus pro questions.

  38. I don’t know if the payments are such as to make it a professional publication.

    That’s not how professional is defined.

    The definition of what is a “professional” publication is somewhat technical. A professional publication either (1) provided at least a quarter the income of any one person or, (2) was owned or published by any entity which provided at least a quarter the income of any of its staff and/or owner.

    The nature of the publication determines whether it is a professional publication, not what rates it pays.

  39. Read The Devil you Know by KJ Parker. Thought it was a pretty good thought experiement, well in my favored “bureacracy porn” milieu.

    I didn’t realize before I picked it up that it was the sequel to Blue and Gold, but that was just an added bonus.

  40. @alex. Hunh, I didn’t even realize that, and I haven’t read that story at all. Didn’t need to, either.

  41. Tasha: Thank you. But what is a review publication, and who defines it?

    Aaron: Is my writing really so opaque that I cannot convey a simple point? I know perfectly well how a professional publication is defined. I said nothing about rates of pay. The question is whether the payments in question constitute more than a quarter of his income.

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