Pixel Scroll 4/27/16 One Pup, Two Pup, Mad Pup, Sad Pup.

I started this Scroll yesterday before taking off in my time machine, and have just kept on adding. While I don’t plan to divide the Hugo news from other Scroll topics very often, it makes sense to do it today.

(1) QUICK WHATEVER. John Scalzi’s “Quick 2016 Hugo Finalist Thoughts” from Whatever on April 26.

Thoughts on this year’s Hugo finalists (the list of which you can find here):

* First, as part of my new gig at the Los Angeles Times, I wrote an analysis of this year’s ballot there, so head on over there if you want to see it (Note it’s geared toward a general audience, so there a lot of explanatory stuff in there folks here will likely already know). As I’ve already written substantially on the Hugos there, what I write here will be brief.

* Overall, the nominations in several categories look pretty decent to me – Best Novel is particularly not bad at all! At least a couple of categories are a tiresome shitshow, however, thanks to the Puppies, again.

* Which we knew might happen again, remember? Fixing the slating issue was a two-year process. This is year two. Keep working on it, folks.

* The Puppies are once again trying to troll a bunch of people (the Best Related Category is one particularly obvious troll) and while I don’t mean to downplay the basic craptasticness of their actions, I’m finding it all that difficult to get worked up about it. I mean, I know the Puppies are hoping for outrage? Again? But as noted, we’ve seen this act before, and this time it’s just boring. Yes, yes, Puppies. You’re still sad little bigoted assholes screaming for attention. Got it, thanks.

Bear in mind I’m a direct target for their nonsense; at least two of the finalist works go after me in one way or another. I’m very specifically someone they’re trying to get worked up (and to tear down). And yet I just can’t manage it. I’m pretty much over the Puppies. There’s only so many times a toddler can throw a tantrum before you just shrug. You still have to clean up after the toddler, mind you. But you don’t have to let the toddler dictate the terms. Pity these particular toddlers are grown humans

(2) MAN OF HIS TIMES. John Scalzi’s first piece for the LA Times, “The Hugo finalists: John Scalzi on why the sad puppies can’t take credit for Neil Gaiman’s success”, posted April 26.

This year, once again, the two Puppy groups announced slates (or in the case of the “Sad” variant, a “recommendation list”) of people and works they wanted to see on the finalist ballot. Once again, many of their choices made the cut. But where last year’s slates were filled with nominees primarily of interest to the Puppies themselves, this year’s Puppy slates included works and authors already popular with science fiction fans and tastemakers, and (as a subset of both of these) Hugo voters.

Works the Puppy slates included that made the Hugo finalist list include the novel “Seveneves,” written by Neal Stephenson, a past Hugo best novel winner and multiple nominee; the graphic novel “The Sandman: Overture,” by Neil Gaiman, also a multiple Hugo winner; the novella “Penric’s Demon,” by Lois McMaster Bujold, who has won four best novel Hugos; and the film “The Martian,” a best picture Oscar nominee (and controversial best comedy Golden Globe winner).

The Puppies will no doubt be happy to take credit for the appearance of these works and others on the finalist list. But, as with “Guardians of the Galaxy” last year, their endorsement probably doesn’t count for much in the grand scheme of things.

(3) MORE ALFIES. George R.R. Martin saw the new season of Game of Thrones kick off, then rode off to his own dynastic wars – “The Puppy Wars Resume”.

The record turnout seemed to have no impact. Fandom nominated in huge numbers, but it would appear that they did not nominate the same things. They scattered their nominations among dozens, perhaps hundreds, of possible choices. We won’t know the full story till we see the complete list of nomination totals on Hugo night… but I suspect (unless MAC cuts the list short) that we’ll see many more titles than we’re used to.

The same thing happened to the Sad Puppies. By shifting from Torgersen’s slate to Paulk’s list of recommendations, they suffered the same fate as many other recommended reading lists, be it the LOCUS list or the Nebulas or my own recommendations. They had almost no impact on the ballot. The Sads did get works on the ballot when their choices overlapped with the Rabids, to be sure, but very few works that were “sad only” made the list. SP4 was a non-factor. (And before someone else points this out, let me be the first to admit that the Sads had more impact than I did. As near as I can tell, I batted .000 on my own recommendations, which just goes to show that all this talk of about my immense power is somewhat exaggerated. No wonder I never get invited to the meetings of the Secret Cabal).

The big winners were the Rabid Puppies, whose choices completely dominated the list…

One last point. The Rabids used a new tactic this year. They nominated legitimate, quality works in addition to the dross. Works by writers like Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Neal Stephenson, Alastair Reynolds (Reynolds went public well before the nominations asking NOT to be slated, but they slated him anyway), Andy Weir, and several others. Some of these writers are apolitical (like Weir), while others are known to oppose everything that VD stands for (Gaiman, Stephenson, King). One has to think they were deliberately targeted.

In some of the online comments I’ve seen, these writers are being called “shields.” I’ve even read some people calling for them to withdraw, simply because they were on VD’s list.

Withdrawing is the LAST thing they should do.

I urge them all to stand their ground. They wrote good books, stories, graphic novels, they did NOT take part in any slate. In some cases they were largely unaware of all this. In other cases they explicitly denounced the slates ahead of time (Reynolds, again). Punishing them… demanding they turn down this honor… simply because VD listed them is insane….

(Oh… and yes, for those who were asking. This does mean we will need a second set of Alfies).

(4) SALADIN AHMED.

(5) RAY RADLEIN.

(6) ADVICE TO THE BOOKLORN. Tim Hall is swimming in the mainstream, in “Booky McBookface, by Noah Ward”.

I’m not a Worldcon member, but that’s not going to stop me giving unsolicited advice. So here’s my off-the-top-of-my-head recommendations.

First, ratify E Pluribus Hugo. This is ought to be such a no-brainer than anyone that attempts to argue otherwise is not to be trusted. It won’t fix everything, but it will make it harder for any well-organised minority to swamp the ballot.

Second, think very hard about the wisdom of repeating last year’s block no-awarding everything tainted, throwing good people under the bus in an attempt to preserve the purity of the awards. That stank when they did it to people like Toni Weisskopf last year. The garbage from VD’s cronies you can no award to oblivion if it’s as awful as it sounds from the titles. But remember that burning down The Hugos is VD’s goal, and no-awarding deserving nominees like Toni Weisskopf or Alastair Reynolds gives him what he wants.

Third, recognise that the Sad Puppies and the Rabid ones are very different things, and try to build bridges with the some of the first of those groups, or at least avoid rhetoric or behaviour that further deepens the divide with anyone who’s not an actual acolyte of Vox Day. The mass no-awarding of last year did not help in that regard.

(7) MORE GOOD ANSWERS TO WRONG QUESTIONS. Abigail Nussbaum responds with “The 2016 Hugo Awards: Thoughts on the Nominees”

… In most of the categories dominated by puppy choices, we still have an actual choice between nominees, not just a winner by default because everyone else on the ballot is terrible.  Most importantly, this year’s Best Novel ballot is one that we can look at without cringing, with only one blatant puppy nominee.  It may sound like I’m lowering the bar, but to me this is all a sign that things are settling down, and that in the future–and especially if the anti-slating measures adopted in last year’s business meeting are ratified–we’ll start seeing this award return to normal.

Of course, I’m leaving out one important point, which might cast a pall on this year’s more acceptable raft of nominees–the fact that most of them were puppy choices.  In some cases, these were nominees that probably would have made it onto the ballot without the help of Vox Day and his ilk–things like Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves in Best Novel, The Sandman: Overture in Best Graphic Story, and Strange Horizons in Best Semiprozine.  In other cases, the line is more fuzzy.  Daniel Polansky’s The Builders, for example, was a plausible nominee in Best Novella, coming from the strong, well-publicized Tor Novellas line and garnering a great deal of praise, but did the puppies’ influence help to push it past equally plausible nominees like Elizabeth Hand’s Wylding Hall and Kai Ashante Wilson’s The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps?  We won’t know for certain until the nominating stats are released after the Hugo ceremony (and perhaps not even then), and in the meantime this year’s ballot is a lot less clear-cut than last year’s.

To the puppies, this no doubt looks like a winning gambit.  To those of us who are adults, it’s just more silliness.  We are neither as stupid nor as rigid as they keep insisting that we are, and are perfectly capable of parsing these nuances.  And if this year’s Best Novella shortlist is a lot less exciting than the one I had hoped for–and which I think had a good chance of coming about–well, that’s how I feel about the Hugo most years.  I keep repeating this, but it really needs to be said again and again: despite the puppies’ ridiculous claims, the Hugo is not, and has never been, an elite or rarefied award.  If the puppies’ main accomplishment this year is to have pushed middling but not-awful work onto the ballot over better, more deserving nominees, well, then they’re no different from the majority of Hugo voters….

(8) QUICK AND THE DEAD. Damien Walter also has a few quick “Thoughts on the 2016 Hugo Awards”.

H P Lovecraft somehow managed to get nominated for a 1941 Retro Hugo, despite having died in 1937. Clearly some supernatural forces were at work…or some petty racists voting in revenge after Lovecraft’s erasure as the face of the World Fantasy Awards for being…a petty racist.

(9) LOVE. Aaron Pound’s thorough analysis of the “2016 Hugo Award Finalists” is rounded off with a compelling conclusion:

Both of the Puppy campaigns were built on spite. Larry Correia has openly admitted that he started the Sad Puppy campaign out of spite. Throughout the existence of the Sad and Rabid Puppy campaigns, the barely suppressed rage of its adherents has been readily apparent, and in some cases (such as during Brad Torgersen’s not infrequent frothing meltdowns over the last year or so), the rage has been quite openly expressed. Because of this, the Pups will always fundamentally misunderstand actual fans, who love what they love not out of a desire to spite someone else, but out of actual love for the thing. In the end, the Pups will fail because they are founded on the false premise that they can change what people love about genre fiction by force.

(10) ALLUM BOKHARI. At Breitbart: “Sci-Fi’s Hugo Awards Swept by Anti-SJW Authors – Again!”

This year, the Sad and Rabid Puppies have done it again. Ten out of fifteen Hugo Award categories have been completely dominated by Puppy-endorsed nominees — double what the campaigns achieved in 2015. The Puppies have also secured three out of five nominations for Best Novel, three out of four nominations for Best Short-Form Dramatic Presentation, and three out of five nominations for Best Long-Form Editor.

In total, the Rabid Puppies swept six categories on their own, while a combination of Sad & Rabid puppy nominations swept a further four.

Some of the Rabid Puppies nominations this year — such as a My Little Pony episode for Best Short-Form Dramatic Presentation and a porn parody in Best Short Story — seem clearly intended as troll options, a demonstration of the Puppies’ power to exert their will on the awards.

(11) AGAINST VANDALISM. Kayleigh Ann at Bibliodaze offers “We Have Always Been Here &Y Always Will Be: On the Hugo Awards and Cultural Vandalism”.

…Science-fiction and fantasy will move forward. It will continue to evolve and tell amazing, strange, radical and highly political stories, as it has always done, and the Puppies will cheer false cries of victory regardless of the outcome of the Hugo Awards: Their choices winning will be a sign that the industry agrees with them, and another No Award sweep (which is my predicted outcome) will simply be proof that they’re downtrodden underdogs who stood up against “Outrage Culture”. The truth is that nobody wins in this scenario because we end up having to participate in their Us Versus Them mentality in order to show a sturdy opposition to their nonsense.

Eventually, they’ll be left behind as the voices who have always been there refuse to participate in their cultural smudging. This particular kind of vandalism hurts us all, but those voices who needed the amplification of the Hugos will suffer the most, so it’s up to the rest of us to ensure that doesn’t happen. They’ll be left behind, but they still need to be called out and condemned for the dangerous vandals that they are. Get out your wallets, your microphones and your pens. We’re not going anywhere. We’ll always be here.

(12) STEVEN POORE

(13) VOX POPOLI. Vox Day did a reaction roundup of his own, “Making the Hugos Great Again”.

Of course the Sad Puppies can’t take any credit for Neil Gaiman’s nomination. The Rabid Puppies were responsible! As for whether Gaiman would have been nominated without RP support, they like to claim that sort of thing, but we’ll have to wait and see what the numbers say. Given their past record of ignoring popular, bestselling works, that’s hardly a given. In any event, as we proved last year in Best Novel, even when we don’t control the category, we still have the ability to decide who will win and who will lose when the SJWs don’t No Award the category.

In other news, we have a runner! Tom Mays belatedly decided to go the way of Marko Kloos. Not the brightest move; the time for virtue-signaling is before the nominations are awarded. It’s no big deal, not everyone can take the heat, although I suspect Tom is simply more of a Sad Puppy who hasn’t woken up to the cultural war yet. I was more interested to see that Black Gate caved and decided to accept their nomination this year; John O’Neill is a smart guy, he knows perfectly well that the nomination is well-merited, he grasps the genetic fallacy, and I suspect he has come to terms with the fact that the Rabid Puppies are not going away any time soon.

(14) CHAOS MANOR. Jerry Pournelle posted a reaction to his nomination at Chaos Manor.

I seem to have been nominated for a Hugo. “Best Editor, Short Form”. The only work mentioned for the year 2015 is There Will Be War, Volume Ten” released in November. It is of course a continuation of the There Will Be War series which appeared in the 1980’s and early 90’s, of which the first four volumes were recreated with a new preface during 2015; the rest are scheduled to come out in the next couple of years. I’ve edited a lot of anthologies, starting with 2020 Vision in 1973 (I think it will come out in reprint with new a introduction and afterword’s by the surviving authors next year. I did a series of anthologies with Jim Baen that was pretty popular, and one-off anthologies like Black Holes and The Survival of Freedom, amounting to more than twenty over the years, but this is the first time anyone has ever nominated me for an editing Hugo – and actually the first time I ever thought of it myself.

When I first started in this racket, Best Editor Hugo usually meant one for the current editor of Analog or Galaxy. That spread around over the years, but it meant Editor in the sense of someone employed with the title of Editor, not a working writer who put together anthologies, sometimes for a lark.

I used to get Hugo nominations all the time in my early days, but I never won. My Black Holes story came close, but I lost to Niven’s “Hole Man”. Ursula LeGuin beat me for novella. There were others. Our collaborations routinely got nominated, but again usually came second, so at one point I was irked enough to say “Money will get you through times of no Hugo’s much better than Hugo’s will get you through times of no money,” and put whatever promotion efforts I had time for into afternoon and late night talk radio shows and stuff like that. Which worked for sales, but not for Hugo awards. I’m unlikely to get this one – I’m a good editor but that’s hardly my primary occupation – but I admit I’d like to. I was already going to Kansas City this August, so I’ll be there, but I doubt there’s much need to write a thank you speech.

(15) COUNT HER OUT. Rhiannon Thomas refuses to repeat last year’s experience — “The Hugos Turn Rabid” at Feminist Fiction.

So… what now? It’s hard to take seriously any award with Vox Day’s “SJWs Always Lie” on the ballot. And unlike last year, I’m not going to soldier through the crap to weigh up its merit. I’ll probably read most of the novels, and pick up the non-puppy nominated shorter works, along with the ones by big name writers, because I’ve found that the nomination lists can lead me to interesting reading I would have missed otherwise. It’s basically my job to read endless piles of YA, and this gives me a focussed reason to finally pick up those other recent books too. But do we have to pretend that “Safe Space as Rape Room” is something worthy of serious critical consideration? The Puppies howl out for attention, and they’d hate nothing more than if everyone just ignored them. So let’s just pretend that their troll nominations don’t exist.

Of course, this approach isn’t without casualties. It’s obvious to anyone with a passing knowledge of fantasy and sci-fi that Brandon Sanderson and Stephen King are worth checking out, slate or no. But smaller writers? Not so much. Thomas A. Mays has already withdrawn his Hugo-nominated short story from consideration because of the slates, turning what should have been a moment of pride and victory into heartbreak. If we take the “slate works don’t exist unless they obviously have merit” approach, innocent writers still building their career get dragged down into the muck too. At best, they don’t receive the consideration they deserve. At worst, they get linked to Vox Day in everyone’s minds. And unlike big-name writers, they don’t have enough of an established reputation to shrug it off. It might appear that they need to withdraw to save their reputation, even though the Hugo nomination should have been something that would build their reputation in the first place.

And that sucks. But I, at least, can’t take another year of reading through piles of offensive and poorly written crap in search of potential specks of gold that may have been lost in the mix.

(16) CHUCK WENDIG. It isn’t lost on Chuck Wendig that “We Have A Problem”.

Like I’ve said in the past:

Dinosaurs squawking at meteors. Shaking tiny, impotent arms at the sky. The Empire, wondering where the hot hell all these goddamn X-Wings came from. Shitheel harasser assholes wondering when the world stopped listening to them and their diaperbaby bleats.

The other side of me thinks this is something deeper, darker, a vein of bad mojo thrust through the whole of the culture. Sepsis, toxic shock, an infection in the blood resistant to antibiotics.

But then I look and I think how thirty years ago I didn’t know what transgender meant. How three years ago I didn’t know what genderqueer was, and now it’s in the dictionary. I think about how we’re maybe on the cusp of having our first woman president. I think too about how social media has made the assholes louder — but it’s also amplified the voices of the non-assholes, and how conversations happen, tough as they are, across an Internet that moves fast and furious with both enlightenment and ignorance. I don’t know where we are or what’s going to happen next, and I know that I ping-pong between feeling optimistic about tectonic change and pessimistic about what that change has wrought.

I also know that no matter what we can’t just sit idly by. We push back. We vote no award when shitbirds nest in our award categories. We stand by those who are harassed by the worst of our culture. We stop sheltering the monsters and start protecting the victims. We amplify voices. We close our mouths and try to listen more. We master the one-two-punch of empathy and logic. We try to be better and do better and demand better even when we ourselves are woefully imperfect. I speak to geeks and I speak to men when I say: we need to get our house in order.

We have a problem.

But I hope we also have solutions.

At the very least, let this be a call that we need to do better by those who need us. Out with the bullies. Out with the terrorists. Gone with the ticks. We find those ticks and we pluck ’em out. Then we burn them, toss them in the toilet, rain our piss upon their parasitic heads, and say bye-bye as we flush and fill the bowl with clean water once more.

(17) AGAINST NO AWARD. Eric Flint, in “BUT FOR WALES?”, argues against voting No Award.

Theodore Beale and the people who follow him are idiots. They are petty chiselers and pipsqueaks whose notion of “the righteous battle against leftist wickedness and social justice warriors” is to try to hijack a science fiction award.

A science fiction award? Meaning no disrespect to anyone who cares about the Hugos, but the very fact that Beale and his gaggle of co-conspirators think this is a serious way to wage political struggle should tip you off that they’re a bunch of clowns with delusions of grandeur.

So treat them that way. This time around—remember, it’s 2016, not 2015—don’t hyperventilate, don’t work yourself up into a frenzy, don’t overact. Just treat the nominations the same way you would in any other year. Ignore who nominated who because, first, it’s irrelevant; and secondly, if you do you will be falling for a hustle by an idiot like Beale—which makes you an even bigger idiot.

Is anyone who’s planning to vote for the Hugos so ignorant or so stupid that they really think authors like Neal Stephenson, Jim Butcher, Lois McMaster Bujold, Brandon Sanderson, Alastair Reynolds and Stephen King need a slimeball like Theodore Beale’s approval to get nominated for an award? Are they so ignorant or stupid that they think editors like Toni Weisskopf, artists like Larry Elmore and movie directors like Joss Whedon and Ridley Scott are in the same boat?

Grow the fuck up.

Just vote, that’s all. Take each category for what it is and vote for whatever or whoever you think is most entitled to the award this year. Do NOT use “No Award” unless you really think there’s no work or person nominated in a category who deserves it at all.

(18) YOU CAN ASK BUT WILL HE ANSWER? Chuck Tingle did a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” today — “I am Dr. Chuck Tingle, 2016 Hugo Awards nominee for my book Space Raptor Butt Invasion. AMA!” He did it in character, so although the Hugos are mentioned once or twice, it’s basically played as farce. If you squint real hard (which I’m sure he would approve) at his comment about Vox Day, it includes the phrase “scoundrels never win.” Someone read that quote on FB and ran out to order ribbons….

(19) THE OTHER TINGLE INTERVIEW. Chuck Tingle was more forthcoming about scoundrels to Lauren Sarner at Inverse.

Do you know about the Sad Puppies, a group of people who try to disrupt voting for the Hugo Awards every year?

Don’t know about any puppies but it’s BAD NEWS BEARS if you want to disrupt awards. That is a scoundrel tactic and probably part of Ted Cobbler’s devilman plan. Ted Cobbler is notorious devil and has been seen using dark magic to control puppies around the neighborhood. I do not support the devilman agenda but i think that Space Raptor Butt Invasion proves that LOVE IS REAL and no scoundrels can stop that. Especially not some dumb dogs.

(20) NOW ON SALE. Two overnight sensations. One is satire. At least.

(21) SUNIL PATEL. Sunil Patel is still figuring it out.

(22) FOUR MORE. John Scalzi illustrates “Four Things About the Hugos” with Chuck Tingle’s cover art at Whatever. But it’s not all fun and games.

Fourth off, one of the finalists for Best Short Story, Thomas May, who was on the Rabid Puppy slate, has left the ballot, for admirable reasons. All respect to him for a difficult decision. I don’t believe this should be a signal for folks to hint to other finalists that they should follow his example, for reasons I outline above, i.e., this year’s slates were filled with people and work the Puppies put in for their own strategic ends, and are essentially blameless for an association that is unintended and/or unwanted. If you’ve got a mind to pester people about this, please consider not. Let them do as they will, just as you do what you will when it comes time to vote.

Thanks.

Filers will agree it’s a damn shame he didn’t have a fifth point!

(23) THE CASUALTIES. Katherine Jay chimes in at Stompydragons.

I am angry for the people who got knocked off the ballot because of the RP tactics. I’m particularly frustrated for the Campbell candidates who will never have another shot at that award because they’re out of time. Andy Weird was an RP pick, and I’m pretty sure he would have made it on the ballot anyway, but there are still three RP picks who are on that list and probably wouldn’t have been otherwise. Three slots that are denied to great writers who may never get another shot, because someone is playing silly games with the system.

I’m frustrated that seeding the RP ballot with a small number of works that would have been nominated anyway adds new kinds of dilemmas for many voters. Angry that many good works got bumped by crap VD was pushing. If you need any proof that his campaign has nothing to do with which works he thinks are genuinely good, take a look at some of the titles he picked, or look at what he said about one of the novels he chose (Seveneves).

Last year, after a lot of consideration, I voted No Award to all the puppy-related picks because I couldn’t condone slate nominating tactics. I still can’t support them.

But this year, if I do that, I’m also punishing works and writers who would have been nominated anyway, and I can’t make myself do that. Hell, I can’t No Award something I nominated–Bujold’s novella, The Martian–because that also makes a mockery of the process.

(24) SHAMUS YOUNG.

(25) GREY GRIPES. Grey The Tick (Grey Carter) is the author of Hugo-nominated Erin Dies Alone.

Yet his collected tweets are uncomplimentary of Vox Day.

(26) PHIL SANDIFER. Phil Sandifer will fight them on the beaches, in the fields, he will never give up.

First, as predicted, the Sad Puppies were a non-entity. That’s a little tough to judge given their new “we’re just a recommendation list” sheen of pointlessness, but it’s notable that the most conspicuous omission from their list, The Fifth Season, got a nomination in best Novel, and that in Fan Artist, a category where they had four picks, three of which were not on the Rabid Puppies slate, none of theirs made it on. Indeed, at a glance I can’t find anything that’s on their list, wasn’t an obvious contender anyway, and made it. These were Vox Day’s Hugos, plain and simple.

Second, let’s not have any silliness about pretending that what was picked reflects any agenda other than Vox Day’s spite. He’s been unambiguous that his sole goal this year is to disrupt the Hugos, not even making an effort to pretend that he was picking works on merit or because there’s actually some body of quality sci-fi he thinks is being overlooked by the awards. His only goal was to ruin things. The nominees exist only for that purpose. They are political, yes. Avowedly so. But their politics does not have even the barest shred of a constructive project. This is fascism shorn of everything but violent brutality – political in the sense of an angry mob kicking a prone body.

And so once again, the course is clear: we must resist. With every tool we have, we must resist. The highest priority, of course, is passing E Pluribus Hugo, the repaired nomination system that will serve to prevent this from happening again. Also important is No Awarding.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, and Hampus Eckerman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Fugue.]

Pixel Scroll 1/22/16 Raindrops On Scrollses And Pixels On Kittens

(1) IT’S A WRAP. Tom Cruise will star in Universal’s reboot of The Mummy, now scheduled to arrive in theaters on June 9, 2017. This version will be set in the contemporary world. Cruise is not playing the title role, trade outlets are referring to his character as a former Navy SEAL.

So who is The Mummy?

Sofia Boutella, best recognized as the badass beauty with swords for legs in Kingsman: The Secret Service, will be playing this new version of the Mummy.

Who’s directing it?

Alex Kurtzman will be calling the shots. The only feature film he’s directed to date is People Like Us, but he’s best known for being a writer on a ton of big blockbuster movies, like Transformers, The Island, Mission: Impossible III, and J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek series. It currently has a script from Jon Spaihts (Prometheus).

(2) TRACING FIREBALLS TO THEIR SOURCE. In “A Precursor to the Chainmail Fantasy Supplement” Jon Peterson of Playing at the World identifies Leonard Patt as a forgotten influence or source on Gary Gygax, whose Chainmail (a collaboration with Jeff Perren) was the first game designed by Gygax sold as a professional product. It included a heavily Tolkien-influenced “Fantasy Supplement”, which made Chainmail the first commercially available set of rules for fantasy wargaming.

Patt, should he still be with us, would surely be unaware of how Chainmail followed his work, let alone the profound influence that concepts like “fire ball” and saving versus spells have had on numberless games over the decades that followed.

…In the early, pre-commercial days of miniature wargaming, the environment was very loose and collaborative, and these kinds of borrowings were not uncommon – but attribution was still an assumed courtesy. Gary Gygax has something of a reputation for adapting and expanding on the work of the gaming community without always attributing his original sources. The case of the Thief class is probably the most famous: the first draft of Gary’s rules do note their debt to the Aero Hobbies crowd, but as the published version of the rules in Greyhawk (1975) did not, the obligation of the Thief rules to Gary Switzer and the others at Aero Hobbies long went unacknowledged. Regarding Chainmail, Gary in late interviews says nothing to suggest that concepts like fireball were not of his own invention; Patt’s rules compel us to reevaluate those claims. Nonetheless, we must acknowledge that Gary had a singular gift for streamlining, augmenting and popularizing rules originally devised by others: certainly we wouldn’t say that Patt’s original rules could have inspired Blackmoor, and thus Dungeons & Dragons, without Gary’s magic touch and the elaboration we find in the Chainmail Fantasy Supplement.

But if you ever vanquished an enemy with a fireball in Dungeons & Dragons, or Magic: the Gathering, or Dragon Age, and especially if you ever made a saving throw against a fireball, thank Leonard Patt!

(3) LIGHTNING STRIKING AGAIN AND AGAIN. The Kickstarter appeal for People of Colo(u)r Destroy Science Fiction has raised $20,192 as of this writing – 400% of its original goal. Another special issue of Lightspeed, it will be guest-edited by Nalo Hopkinson and Kristine Ong Muslim, in partnership with section editors Nisi Shawl, Berit Ellingsen, Grace Dillon, and Sunil Patel, who are assembling a lineup of fiction, essays, and nonfiction from people of color.

Lightspeed’s Destroy series was started because of assertions that women, LGBTQ, and POC creators were destroying science fiction. The staff of Lightspeed took that as a challenge. Building on the astounding success of Lightspeed’s Women Destroy Science Fiction! (and Horror, and Fantasy) and Queers Destroy Science Fiction! (and Horror, and Fantasy), POC Destroy Science Fiction! brings attention to the rich history and future of POC-created science fiction and fantasy.

Like the previous Destroy issues, this campaign has the potential to unlock additional special issues focusing on Horror and Fantasy as well.

(4) DOUBTFUL. Breitbart.com’s Allum Bokhari dishonestly represents a commenter’s statement as a File 770 news item in “SJWs Are Purging Politically Incorrect Sci-Fi Authors From Bookstores”.

(5) BAKKA PHOENIX REPLIES. Yet he is getting the clicks he wants. One Toronto bookstore owner was intimidated into making a public denial — “A Question Worth Answering”.

We are Bakka Phoenix, a different bookstore entirely. We’re not going to comment on a rumour about XXX’s activities: that way lies madness and a lot of silly Twitter feuds. You might want to contact them directly (their website is XXX). Also, please note: from a Canadian perspective, Breitbart looks more like an outlet for the borderline-lunatic fringe than a credible news source.

But if you were wondering, we can assure you that we ourselves carry many books we find personally or politically reprehensible. Let’s face it, your left wing is somewhere off to our right, enough so that we’d have trouble even agreeing on the definition of ‘conservative’. Frankly, we find a lot of US political posturing completely unhinged.

But… so what? We’re in the business of selling books. Good books. Bad books. Titles some people love; titles others hate enough to throw across the room. Some books will transform readers minds and lives and be remembered for decades. Others will be forgotten immediately upon reading (or even partway through). We don’t have to like a book, its author, or its message in order to sell it. To suggest otherwise merely proves that the suggester spends very little time in actual bookstores.

The many wonderful independent booksellers I’ve met feel the same way. Independent bookstores exist for precisely that reason: to ensure that readers have the widest choice possible. So we — all of us — stock books we think our readers might be interested in, personal taste bedamned.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born January 22, 1934 – Bill Bixby, of My Favorite Martian and The Hulk.
  • Born January 22, 1959 – Linda Blair, of The Exorcist.

(7) BUTTER WOULDN’T MELT. Kate Paulk wrote a post educating her readers about the Best Editor Hugo categories.

Both these categories have seen controversy since their introduction: first the lobbying to split Best Editor – the whispers say this was so that a specific individual could receive an award instead of always playing second fiddle to a very prominent (and very skilled) magazine editor, the apparent hand-off of both through much of their history between an extremely small number of people – so much so that it appears a group of Tor editors considered the Long Form award to be their property (just look at the list of winners…).

The first comment, by Draven:

“yeah well, you know who we say for long form…”

The second comment, by Dorothy Grant:

“Hmmm, Maybe, maybe not. This year will be the last year David Hartwell will be eligible. (He edited L.E. Modesitt & John C. Wright, among others.) The industry lost a good man, and a good editor, yesterday. Granted, he’s won three, but these things do happen in tribute.”

The third comment, by Kate Paulk:

“They do indeed, and David Hartwell is certainly a worthy nominee.”

(8) BRUSHBACK PITCH. Clayton Kershaw, the best pitcher in the National League, also has a less well known claim to fame – his great-uncle Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto. That explains his loyalty to the diminutive world, and his recent contradiction of NASA on Twitter.

(9) SINBAD. The Alex Film Society will screen The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958) on Thursday, April 28 at the Alex Theatre in Glendale.

(10)  A SCI-FI KID REMEMBERS. Film fan Steve Vertlieb has compiled his memories about meeting genre stars into one extravaganza post:

After some forty seven years of writing about films, film makers, and film music, I thought that I’d take a moment to remember the glorious moments, events, and artists who have so generously illustrated the pages of my life, and career, over these many remarkable years.  Do return with me now to Those Thrilling Days of Yesteryear when artistry and grandeur populated the days of our lives…days when gallant souls courageously rescued their leading ladies from screen villainy…days when culture and dignity proliferated the screen, television, radio, and the printed page.  Look for it only in books, for its sweet reflection of gentle innocence is but a faded memory…a  tender, poignant whisper of grace and wonder that, sadly, has Gone With The Wind.

Those memories are also the driving force of his autobiographical documentary Steve Vertlieb: The Man Who “Saved” The Movies. The director keeps an online journal of their progress.

A FILM DIRECTOR’S JOURNAL #3…THE PHILADELPHIA “SHOOT”

Whew!  It would be a bitch of an exhausting marathon, because we had lots of LITERAL ground to cover in Center City, hopscotching from one locale to another blocks away; then to another, then to another; finally finishing up on the “high steel”, the center of the city’s Benjamin Franklin Bridge, stretching from Philadelphia across the Delaware River into Camden, N.J.  But everyone agreed.  And our “Philadelphia Marathon” was off and running.

The documentary film will wrap in February, 2016, with film festival screenings planned for this Spring.

(11) ALAN RICKMAN. Today Star Talk Radio site revisited Neil deGrasse Tyson’s 2012 conversation with Alan Rickman.

So what does astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson ask him about? Failing physics in high school, of course. They also talk a little about acting, including how Alan chooses and prepares for his roles, from researching the heart surgeon in Something the Lord Made to the wine-tasting scene in Bottle Shock. You’ll hear Alan explain his sense of responsibility to his audience and what he describes as “the mysterious mechanism of acting and theatre and storytelling.” Neil and Alan also get philosophical about the limits of human perception, the flocking behavior of birds, and the interaction of sound and memory.

(12) MARTIAN HOP. Tintinaus has a great addition to The Martian musical, based on Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler.”

Every Martian knows that the secret to survival,
Is solving the next problem,
And then the problem after that.
‘Cause every day’s a winner
Even if you’re gettin’ thinner,
And the best that you can hope for
Is growing tates in your crewmate’s scat.

 

You gotta know when to sow ’em
Know when to hoe ’em
Know when to harvest
For a bumper yield
You never count sauce satchels
‘Cause that would be depressing.
Knowing how long ungarnished taters
Will be your only meal.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kyra.]

Pixel Scroll 9/2 Split-Level Headcheese

(1) Pat Cadigan is still making cancer her bitch.

I didn’t plan to travel as much as I did this year, it just happened that way. And I’m not done yet. I have at least one trip, possibly two left before I put the suitcase away till next year.

It’s been very good for me, physically as well as mentally. In May, I visited Copenhagen for the first time. In June, I took a road-trip from Virginia to a college reunion in Massachusetts. In July, I spent most of a week at a festival in Spain. And in mid-August, I went to Spokane, WA for Sasquan, the world sf convention. The difference in my physical condition now compared to the same time last year is virtually miraculous. I could walk reasonable distances without collapsing. On Saturday night, I went to the Hugo Losers Party––the one given by original co-founder George RR Martin––and didn’t go to bed till four a.m. Then I was up at 9-ish to meet a friend for breakfast.

Last year at this time, I was pretty feeble. This year, I’m hopping around like an ingenue. I appear to be well, so much so that you’d never guess I had terminal cancer. A lot of people didn’t know––they thought I was in remission. It was no fun to correct them. I hated making them feel bad. Seriously; I remember what it was like to be in their shoes. I have a lot more experience being them than being terminal.

I’ve been saying that more often in the last few weeks: terminal cancer; I’m terminal; treatment is palliative. There’s about a year and four months left of my oncologist’s original two-year estimate. Where did the time go?

(2) Little White Lies “Video Artifacts No. 4 – Andrew Ainsworth”

You may not know the name, but Andrew Ainsworth is the creator of one of the most iconic images of the 20th century – the original Star Wars Stormtrooper helmet. Working out of his shop situated on the quaint, leafy Twickenham Green, Ainsworth began his career in the ’70s as a prop maker for films and has since become one of the leading exponents of products made via plastic moulding techniques.

 

(3) Here’s a headline I missed: James Potter — Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley’s son — started Hogwarts on September 1.

(4) Tremendous examples of trompe l’oeil posted by George R.R. Martin – all the work of John Pugh, “master of the art style called ‘narrative illusionism.’”

(5) Summer’s almost over, which means it’s time for Doctor Who fans to start counting down until “The Doctor and River Song Reunite For A Spectacular Christmas”

Alex Kingston returns to Cardiff to reclaim her role as Professor River Song for the highly anticipated 2015 Doctor Who Christmas special, part of BBC One’s essential seasonal viewing.

It’s Christmas Day in the future and the TARDIS is parked on a snowy village street, covered in icicles, awaiting its next adventure. Time traveller River Song meets her husband’s new incarnation, in the form of Peter Capaldi, for the first time this Christmas.

Day one of filming the eleventh Doctor Who Christmas special starts this week and is written by Lead Writer and Executive Producer, Steven Moffat, produced by Nikki Wilson and directed by Douglas Mackinnon (Doctor Who, Sherlock).

River Song made her first Doctor Who appearance in 2008 in ‘Silence in the Library’ and ‘Forest of the Dead’ and has appeared in 15 episodes to date.

Award winning Alex Kingston comments on her reappearance, “To be honest, I did not know whether River would ever return to the show, but here she is, back with the Doctor for the Christmas special. Steven Moffat is on glittering form, giving us an episode filled with humour and surprise guest castings. I met Peter for the first time at Monday’s read through, we had a laugh, and I am now excited and ready to start filming with him and the Doctor Who team. Christmas in September? Why not!”

Steven Moffat, Lead Writer and Executive Producer, adds, “Another Christmas, another special for Doctor Who – and what could be more special than the return of Alex Kingston as Professor River Song? The last time the Doctor saw her she was a ghost. The first time he met her, she died. So how can he be seeing her again? As ever, with the most complicated relationship in the universe, it’s a matter of time…”

(6) Ken Marable drops his name in the hat as another fan who would like to host the go-to Hugo recommendation site. Details are at 2016 Hugo Recommendation Season.

I am trying to encourage the community to take part in a “Hugo Recommendation Season” from November to February. Basically to both create as much conversation as possible about the works themselves, and to give each category its fair spotlight, I’m hoping to have a Focus Week on each category. During each week, fans would post their recommendations (on their blogs, Facebook, whatever) saying what works they love, and most importantly, why. (There are a lot of recommendation *lists*, I want more – I want to know *why* it is recommended.)

….I am hoping to get as many fans as possible to participate including Sad Puppies, non-Puppies, new members, and long-time fans like you. In fact, my ideal would be to have some of the old guard introduce each category, possibly explaining why it came into existence, things to consider, etc. (e.g. suggestions on how fans can look for a Best Editor; just what is and why do we have a semiprozine; venerable past winners; surprising past winners, etc.). Sure it’s all a Google search away, but it would be nice to have a single, short reference to accompany the recommendations. However, I would be pleased if fans just participated in each Focus Week and talked about works and people they think are award worthy in each category.

(7) David Gerrold has something going too – see Facebook

Here’s a secret cabal for the rest of us. THE SECRET CABAL OF FANNISH FANS [SCOFF]. Anyone can join. Anyone can recommend. There are no slates, just people sharing the books they enjoyed.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/407010419502085/

(8) Edouard Briere Allard has posted “A Critical Review of Laura J. Mixon’s Essay”, which is as voluminous and heavily annotated as the work it attacks:

This is only my interpretation, but Mixon appears saddened that BS was not kicked out of SFF and that BS has instead decided to become a better person and keep writing in SFF (although to be clear, BS had already made that decision in 2013, possibly even some time in 2012). Mixon later tells us: “trust can’t precede the cessation of abuse. Forgiveness can’t come at the expense of basic fairness. Reconciliation can’t precede regret.” This idea that the WoC in front of her might not be guilty of all the crimes she is accused of is impossible for Mixon to believe; just as impossible as believing that she, herself, might be guilty of comparable crimes. This, I think, explains her desire to pursue the matter until she gets her way. It’s a very American way of seeing things.

In the same follow-up post, Mixon says:

Dividing people into camps, branding those who disagree with us (or whose religious beliefs (or lack thereof), skin color, gender, sexual orientation, etc. offend us in some way, for that matter) as The Enemy—as irredeemably evil—and appointing ourselves and our friends as the sole arbiters of Truth, is a destructive practice. No matter who does it. That was why I wrote my report.

Here, if nowhere else, this single paragraph illustrates perfectly why I loathed Mixon’s essay, and her apparent inability to empathise with others and to evaluate her own actions. Mixon, in an essay that begins with decrying the difficulty of getting rid of the “evil” that is BS, says: “branding those who disagree with us […] as The Enemy—as irredeemably evil—and appointing ourselves and our friends as the sole arbiters of Truth, is a destructive practice”. This branding, you’ll recall, the only branding RH as ever done that could conceivably fit into what Mixon is saying here, is calling things or people misogynist, racist, homophobic or colonialist. While there is always ample room to discuss strategy and tactics in the fight against misogyny, racism, homophobia or colonialism, I disagree with Mixon’s sweeping condemnation, and I find her framing deeply hypocritical.

(9) Brandon Kempner on Chaos Horizon – “2015 Hugo Analysis: Category Participation”

[Post includes an assortment of graphs covering several years of history in every category.]

Now 2015: that line is totally inconsistent with the previous 4 years. Previously ignored categories like Editor grabbed an increase of 30 points—there’s your visual representation of how the Puppy kerfuffle drove votes. Thousands of voters voted in categories they would have previously ignored. I imagine this increase is due to both sides of the controversy, as various voters are tying to make their point. Still, 80% participation in a category like Editor, Short or Long Form is highly unusual for the Hugos. Even the Best Novel had a staggering 95% participation rate, up from a prior 4 year average of 87.4%.

 

(10) Harry Connolly, taking off from a recent Eric Flint post, speculates that Hugo voters and readers have these differences — in “oh god am i really going to write about the hugos again”

But here’s my suggestion, tentatively offered: what if the Hugo voters/nominators aren’t the one’s who’ve changed these last few decades? I mean, sure, some folks age out, new folks come in, so they aren’t the same individuals. But what if they’re the same sort of novelty-seeking reader, preferring clever, flattering books to pretty much everything else?

Because that would mean that the bulk of the readership now are the sorts of readers who don’t care about fandom or voting for Awards. Who have maybe sampled a few award-winners and found them not to their taste. They’re the people who came into the genre through Sword of Shannara, because it was the first fantasy to hit the NYTimes list, through STAR WARS and dozens of other action/adventure-with-ray-guns movies that sold millions of tickets, through D&D novels like Dragonlance, or through shoot-em-up video games.

Maybe the award hasn’t changed very much, but the readership now suddenly includes huge masses of people who are looking for Hollywood-style entertainment, with exaggerated movie characterization and a huge third act full of Big Confrontation.

(11) Robert B. Marks in Escapist Magazine – “The Night Science Fiction’s Biggest Awards Burned”

When you take a step back, it’s easy to see the Sad Puppies as the only sympathetic clique of the lot. They bought their memberships and voted for the stories they thought were worthy of recognition, as was their right as members – they’re also the only group who didn’t advocate a response of “if we can’t have it, nobody can!” Of everybody involved in the voting, the Sad Puppies did nothing wrong. In fact, they may be the only clique in this mess who actually honoured the fan-driven spirit of the Hugo Awards. It speaks volumes that when George R.R. Martin asked if he could nominate authors for consideration in next year’s Sad Puppies effort, the answer came back as an unconditional “yes.”

(12) Charles E. Gannon on Whatever in a comment on “Wrapping Up 2015: A Hugo Awards Open Thread”

This is a proven recipe for quickening passionate partisans into aggressive zealots. When advocates forsake their initial behavioral limits, they have started down a path in which their ends have begun to justify means they would not have countenanced earlier. And so they are on their way to becoming radicalized extremists.

We are familiar enough with the early warning signs of this dynamic at work, and which, cast in the taxonomies of our genre, equate to:

increasing numbers of SF & F readers becoming infected with the same virus of polarization now endemic in so many other parts of our culturescape;

name-calling, mockery, and personal invective that becomes so ubiquitous that it no longer stands out as arresting or unusual;

increasingly strident and absolutist rhetoric, often accompanied by a reflex to screen for “correct think vs. wrong think” semantics.

I don’t propose to have any sweeping answer for how to reverse this trend. (That would make me yet another strident advocate, wouldn’t it?). Rather, I perceive the answer to be ultimately personal: a conscience-informed attempt to balance what one intended to convey with how it was received. In short, to temper oneself without muzzling oneself.

My own answer is to keep talking amiably with people from all over the spectrum, regardless of however different (or not) our opinions may be. Consequently, lots of the folks I’ve spoken with over the last six months will not find the content of this post surprising and have expressed sympathy for larger or smaller parts of it. The list includes people such as Larry Correia, David Gerrold, Brad Torgerson, John Scalzi, Rachel Swirsky, and Eric Flint, just to name a few. And if anything strikes me as even more prevalent than the differences of opinion and perception among the dozens of people with whom I’ve chatted, it is the degree to which the “sides” do not understand each other. Which, given America’s contemporary culturescape, is not really surprising.

(14) Solarbird on crime and the foreces of evil – ”on the business meeting, part 2: e pluribus hugo”

E Pluribus Hugo doesn’t know about intentional slates. It doesn’t need to be told, “this is a slate.” Nobody has to make that call, because it doesn’t matter. It’s kind of like a normalisation function applied to nominations. There are no arguments over whether a pattern or voting is intentional or a plot or intent or political – a lot of identical ballots will be normalised to a first-order approximation of their actual popular support, regardless.

That’s why it’s so elegant, and that’s why it’s so genius. It doesn’t lock anybody out; it just stops campaigns from locking everyone else out, dramatically reducing their value vs. their labour and monetary cost, and eliminating the incentive for opposition parties.

For me, that is fair. For me, that is enough.

I hope that, for the honest flank of the Sad Puppies, it will also be enough. One self-identified Sad came up and voiced active support for E Pluribus Hugo during the business meeting. Those who actually believe in the mythical SJW VOTER CABAL – which was emphatically demonstrated not to exist by the events of this year, but stick with me – will know that E Pluribus Hugo would normalise this supposed SJW CABAL slate just as effectively.

Is it sad that we’ve reached a point where this sort of engineering is necessary? Eh, maybe. Probably, even. But it has driven fandom to create what even some opponents at the business meeting called a more perfect nominating system.

Yes, it’s tedious as all hell to do by hand, but it can be done. Yes, it’s more complicated – but not much. It’s only a little different than what we do for final voting and for site selection already.

(15) Allum Bokhari on Breitbart – “The online culture wars have moved out of comments sections and into Amazon’s Kindle Store”.

Online progressives were not so supportive. Alexandra Erin, a sci-fi writer who described Day’s book as “rehashing old slights”, wrote a short parody of the book for Kindle. Entitled “John Scalzi Is Not A Very Popular Author And I Myself Am Quite Popular: How SJWs Always Lie About Our Comparative Popularity Levels,” the book makes fun of Day’s alleged fixation with the progressive sci-fi author John Scalzi.

Scalzi himself appeared to be delighted with the parody,  saying he “loved it already.” He used the book in a fundraising drive for a charity promoting diversity at sci-fi conventions, promising to release an audio recording of him reading the book if $2,500 was raised within three days. The target was successfully met, and Scalzi subsequently uploaded an audio recording.

Supporters of Vox Day responded by releasing their own parody book, entitled “John Scalzi Is A Rapist: Why SJWs Always Lie In Bed Waiting For His Gentle Touch; A Pretty, Pretty Girl Dreams of Her Beloved One While Pondering Gender Identity, Social Justice, and Body Dysmorphia.”

The counter-parody was removed by Amazon today following complaints from Scalzi. Prior to its removal, it was the top seller in the “parodies” section of the Kindle store, two places ahead of Erin’s book. Kindle top 100 rankings are calculated on an hourly basis, and surges in popularity for titles usually reflect a short, rapid increase in the number of purchases….

Both parody authors saw genuine returns for their products. The parody books were both under 30 pages long, and are unlikely to have taken much time to write. The fact that they became part of a buying war by two factions in the culture wars shows how animosity can be harnessed for profit.

(16) John Scalzi weighed in throughout the day.

(17) Ken White on Popehat “Satire vs. Potentially Defamatory Factual Statements: An Illustration”

So. If someone wrote an article saying “Ken White’s legal analysis should be disregarded because dresses up in a rubber suit on the weekend and hunts ponies with a handmade crossbow,” and says it on their trash-talking blog, to an audience that knows them and knows about my blogging here, it’s almost certainly parody, because the relevant audiences would be familiar with our in-joke about responding to spam emails with rants about ponies and would therefore not take it seriously.

The Facts Here

Here the factors point very strongly to the book being treated as parody, and protected by the First Amendment, rather than as a defamatory statement of fact. With all respect to Scalzi, his question is wrong: you can’t analyze the book title in isolation. You have to look at it in the context of the whole. In that context, the intended audience (both fans of Beale and fans of Scalzi) would recognize it as a reference to Beale’s tiresome meme. Plus, the Amazon description explicitly labels it as “a blazingly inventive parody,” and the descriptive text is mostly nonsensical and evocative of ridicule of “SJW” concerns, and references some of the topics that anger Beale’s coterie in connection with Scalzi like the Hugo Awards.

I think this one is protected parody, and I don’t think it’s a very close call.

(18) Vox Day on Vox Popoli – “Why Johnny can’t sue”

I suppose that leaves lobbying Amazon to ban books that make fun of John Scalzi, which I tend to doubt will be a successful strategy. UPDATE: Amazon just pulled down John Scalzi Is A Rapist: Why SJWs Always Lie In Bed Waiting For His Gentle Touch; A Pretty, Pretty Girl Dreams of Her Beloved One While Pondering Gender Identity, Social Justice, and Body Dysmorphia 

Fascinating, in light of how Is George Bush a War Criminal and Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot and Paula Deen is a Big Fat Idiot are still available for sale there. I wonder who will be the next target of these dread parodists?

(19) Brad R. Torgersen – “Tyranny of the Safe”

We must not allow ourselves to become a Tyranny of the Safe. You can have intellectual latitude, or you can have intellectual comfort. But you cannot have both. Larry Niven was 110% correct: there are minds which think as well as yours, just differently. Silence the other minds, and you will ultimately find you have silenced yourself. Because any rules you install today, are guaranteed to be abused by your opponents tomorrow. The mob you join in — to metaphorically encircle and burn the homes of the “wrong” people — will encircle and burn your home eventually. Commanded reverence — for an institution, an idea, or a demographic — begets simmering contempt. And the harder you push and punish, the more you use threats and pressure, the more obvious it is that your concepts cannot endure objective criticism.

(20) John C. Wright – “Dantooine is Too Remote”

Look — I hate to get emotional. It is bad for my Vulcan digestion. But the Hugos used to mean something, and now they don’t. A little bit of light and glory have departed the world.

Those who snuffed that light, hating a brightness they could not ignite themselves, must pay.

(21) David Wintheiser on Contrarian Bias “My Only Hugo Disappointment”

But the big problem with [Guardians of the Galaxy]as Hugo-winner came when I discovered what movie got left off the Hugo nominations list because of the three films from the Puppy slate that got on it: Big Hero 6.

The entire plot of Big Hero 6 revolves around the question of who decides how to make the best use of technology, and for what ends. The ‘superpowers’ exhibited in the film all make use of science presented in the film, and while not all the science is strictly ‘real-world’, it still follows the rules set up in the film itself — for example, the limitations of Hiro Hamada’s big invention become a significant plot point in the defeat of the true ‘villain’ of the piece. And, of course, it was a really good story, well-told. Had Big Hero 6 been in the nominations list, I’d have voted for it myself, and felt it was the most deserving potential winner, but because a bunch of butt-hurt white dudes felt like flooding the Hugo nominations market with their own wishlist, the movie I thought would have been the most deserving 2015 Hugo winner didn’t even get nominated.

That, to me, was the biggest and really only disappointment I had from taking part in the 2015 Hugo Award voting. It may well be something I decide to do more regularly in the future, if only to continue to represent a ‘new mainstream’ in SF where diversity in stories and subjects is celebrated, not lamented.

(22) A Stitch in Time – “The World is not Black and White: Hugo-related ramblings”

So. Knowing what I knew about the author’s campaign against the Hugo, and the Puppies slate, and the things said against him, or implied against him, or actually, mostly, the things he wrote that everyone from the Other Side (TM) thinks about him though they’re not actually true… I was really pleasantly surprised. (Now that I’m writing this, I think that I read most of the accusations allegedly done against Correia in his own writing, where he stated them and then vehemently said that he, of course, was none of that. In a way and tone that very much made me think that there was probably a bit of truth to them.)

I did enjoy the books, but knowing about all the personal and sorta-political background story, it felt a little weird to do so, as the Puppy Thing really irked me. I cannot completely part the writing from the author. That may be a good thing for a person: I’ve supported artists because I like the person for their personal qualities or their way of seeing and approaching life, though do not much care for their actual art, for example. But of course it can also mean that I won’t support someone because of their political or general stance on things, and, more importantly, because of the actions they take in this field.

Without the Hugo Kerfuffle, I would choose the Grimnoir books as an Xmas or birthday present for some friends of mine who I’m sure would enjoy them. But… the world is not black and white, and I will not buy these books on their own, because of the Hugo Kerfuffle and the actions the author has taken.

(23) L. E. Modesitt, Jr. – “The Hugos, or ‘You Just Don’t Understand’”

We have two groups with very different perspectives on what constitutes excellence. Each believes the other is wrong, misguided, or the like. Those on each side can argue quite logically their viewpoint. The problem is that, all too often, people with fixed mindsets believe absolutely and firmly that their understanding of a situation is the only way it can be accurately perceived. It has nothing to do with whether one is liberal or conservative, or any other social outlook. It has to do with a certain firmness of thought, described as “principled” by each of themselves, while describing their opponents as misguided or unprincipled.

In the case of the Hugos, as I see it, and I’ve certainly been criticized for the way I see it, there is some truth in both the cases of the “sad puppies” and the “new traditionalists.” [I have to say that I don’t see much truth or objectivity in the points of the “rabid puppies,” but perhaps my mindset just doesn’t accept what seems to be hateful provocation or use of hate to self-publicize.] And, as I’ve said before, not only do I think the field is big enough for both viewpoints, but the sales of a range of authors prove that rather demonstrably.

Yet each side is contending that the other did something hateful and discriminatory, largely because one side refused to abide by unspoken rules that they believed minimized their concerns. In the end, the other aspect of groups that this conflict illustrates, again, is why unspoken rules tend to be superseded by written procedures in larger groups.

[Thanks to Will R., Vox Day, Martin Morse Wooster, and John King Tarpinian for some of these links. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cubist .]

“Repent, Harlequin!” Said the Tick Tock Dog 6/27

aka The Hugo Chronicles: Puppies of Spring Barking

Today roundup features Steve Davidson, Aditya Manu Jha, Kevin Harkness, Nick Mamatas, Scott Bakal, Vivienne Raper and Spacefaring Kitten. (Title credit belongs to — Anna Nimmhaus, who was inspired by The Phantom Tollbooth, and John Seavey.)

Steve Davidson on Amazing Stories

“FANS Need to Take the Moral High Ground” – June 26

I would like to call for the following actions on the part of fans everywhere:

First, the crafting of a formal statement that articulates the position that Fandom and Fans (which includes authors, artists, editors, podcasters, bloggers, fan writers, fan artists and everyone) do not game awards (or other fannish institutions) for personal, political or financial gain.  Further, that individuals who may be eligible for awards state formally that they do not grant permission for third parties to include them or their works in voting campaigns or slates or organized voting blocs and that if their names or works are found on such, it is without their express permission.*

Second, the creation of a publicly accessible web-based archive that publishes the above statement and allows individuals to publicly endorse the statement.

Third, that an amendment to the WSFS by-laws be written and formally adopted (after the appropriate votes), stating that the members of WSFS do not endorse or support voting slates, voting campaigns or organized bloc voting for the awards that WSFS oversees.  Further, that rules be crafted that would allow WSFS to deny or withdraw membership privileges from individuals who violate the by-law.

Fourth, that SFWA craft and adopt a formal statement that engaging in actions the same as or similar to those described previously are considered by the organization to be unethical and unprofessional actions on the part of its members that could result (after proper internal review) in censure or withdrawal of membership privileges.

 

Aditya Mani Jha on The Sunday Guardian

“How a hate-mongering group gamed the Hugos” – June 28

Vox Day and his sexist, homophobic lobby group Rabid Puppies have “played” the science fiction world successfully and tarnished the Hugo Awards, perhaps irreparably….

…What the Puppies (both sets) did was publish a “voting slate,” a curated list of titles that they urged their follows to put on the ballot. It worked, and how: out of the 60 nominated by the Sad Puppies, 51 were on the initial ballot. The corresponding figure was 58 out of 67 for the Rabid Puppies….

To top it all, Day has put himself on the slate: twice over, actually, which has made him a double nominee for this year. His publishing firm, Castalia House, has received nine Hugo nominations in total…

 

Kevin Harkness

“The Hugo Awards Controversy” – June 27

Cent One: The Sad and Rabid Puppy slates don’t work, and will eventually turn around and bite the people who created them.  By showing the effectiveness of recruiting voters, you make this into a contest of numbers, not quality.  And, considering demographics and mortality rates, I think the 21st century is going to beat the 20th in that fight.

Cent Two: Their reasoning isn’t going to win the Puppies a new generation of converts and so boost their numbers.  For example, one of the Puppy arguments I’ve run across is that Hugo-winners are preachy, the so-called SJWs (sidebar: I’m ashamed to say it took me forever to figure out who they were mad at, Single Jewish Women?  Slow Jesuit Wardens?).  But have the Puppies read Heinlein or Niven and Pournelle?  Their old-timey sic-fi adventures are infomercials for their politics, and not very subtle ones either.  By the time I was 18, I was yelling, “Shut up and tell the story!” at my last Heinlein books.  A second irritating point is the puppies claim the current Hugoists are too literary . . .for a literary award.  Yikes!

As a writer with no awards and never a hope for a Hugo, I can say this with the utmost objectivity: stop messing with the system just because the results offend you.  Create your own awards.  Or better yet, vote as an individual and leave slates for the world of politics.  I’m afraid I won’t change a single Puppy’s mind with this blog, because for them, the Hugo Awards are political.  It follows then that writing itself is political, and, by extension, all art.  If art is political, it must serve the politics of its maker.  Come to think of it, that’s what Chairman Mao said.  Maybe he was a secret Puppy.

 

https://twitter.com/NMamatas/status/614888459057016832/photo/1

 

 

 

Scott Bakal on Instagram

Catching up a little bit with some news: I’m honored that this piece I did for Tor and @irenegallo was given a Distinguished Merit Award from 3×3 Magazine along with 10 other pieces. Thank you to the judges! It’s special because this is one of my recent favorites.

 

https://twitter.com/OddlyDinosaur/status/614827808674697216

 

Vivienne Raper on Futures Less Traveled

“Reading the Rockets – Best Graphic Story” – June 27

[Reviews all five nominees.]

#1 Saga Volume 3

I was reading Saga before the Hugo nomination for Volume 3. I love this series and the strange future-fantasy world the author has created. Volume 3 isn’t the best volume, but it’s hard for me to judge as a standalone as I’ve read the others.

The series follows two former soldiers from long-warring alien races and their struggle to care for their daughter, Hazel, as they’re chased by the authorities. Hazel is born at the beginning of Volume 1 and narrates part of the story as an adult.

Saga has lost narrative momentum as the series has progressed, but I’ve found it remains imaginative and  entertaining. I don’t think there’s one baseline human here. In Volume 1 artist Fiona Staples even solved one of my longstanding character niggles – how do you dress a person with more than two legs? (Answer: a prom skirt)

There are flying tree spaceships. There are Egyptian lying cats. There are family feuds, blood feuds, assassins, deaths, births, love affairs, lots of running away. The standard palate of all-purpose human conflict that has driven good storytelling from time eternal. Big thumbs up from me.

 

Spacefaring Kitten on Spacefaring, Extradimensional Happy Kittens

“The Shittiest Unrelated Drivel in the History of Hugo Awards — Michael Z. Williamson: Wisdom from My Internet” – June 27

This. Was. Shit.

Moreover, Wisdom from My Internet is hard evidence of the fact that there were at least 200 sheer, hundred-percent, honest-go-god trolls sending in nominating ballots. It’s a collection of supposedly humorous, bad to reprehensible tweets with no SFF content whatsoever and — let’s face it — it’s on the ballot to piss off anybody who voted for Kameron Hurley last year.

The time I had to use to write these three sentences is all I’m going to devote to discussing this drivel.

 

Welpendämmerung 6/13

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

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

Matthew Foster at Foster on Film

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Gray Rinehart on GhostWriter

“Halfway to the Hugos” – June 13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Gary McGath on Building My World

“On the Sad Puppies” – June 13

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

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

 

Allum Bokhari on Breitbart.com

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

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

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

 

Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“Bokhari on the Tor debacle” – June 13

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

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

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

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

 

 

Adam-Troy Castro on Facebook – June 12

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

 

A (W) Hendry

“Totally No Homophobe” – June 13

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

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

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

 

 

Eric Flint

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

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

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

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

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

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

Short Story. Anything up to 7,500 words.

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

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

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

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

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

 

George R.R. Martin on Not A Blog

“Hugo Voting Continues” – June 13

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

 

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

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

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

 

 

Spacefaring Kitten on Spacefaring Extradimensional Happy Kittens

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

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

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

 

Russell Blackford on Metamagician and The Hellfire Club

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

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

 

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

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

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