Pixel Scroll 7/30 Gonna Scroll the Bones

A lot of material out there because of the Hugo voting deadline tomorrow but if you want more than the three items I included in today’s Scroll then Google is your friend.

(1) Today in History!

1932: Walt Disney released his first color cartoon, “Flowers and Trees,” made in three-color Technicolor.

1976: NASA released the famous “Face on Mars” photo, taken by Viking 1

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter image by its HiRISE camera of the "Face on Mars". Viking Orbiter image inset in bottom right corner.

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter image by its HiRISE camera of the “Face on Mars”. Viking Orbiter image inset in bottom right corner.

(2) And Today’s Birthday Boy and Girl – what a coincidence!

Born 1965: J. K. Rowling

Born: Harry Potter (main character of Harry Potter series)

(3) “The Tom-cademy Awards: The Only Awards Show Exclusively for Tom Cruise Movies” is part of a weeklong Cruise-themed series on Grantland. The author anoints Emily Blunt as the Best Supporting Actress of any Cruise movie.

The wonderful thing about EoT is that it’s really funny. It achieves that by not pretending the audience has never seen a time-travel movie. Instead, Edge of Tomorrow claps the audience firmly on the shoulder and, smiling, asks (rhetorically), “Hey, wanna see Tom Cruise get iced?” And, as it turns out, watching The Character Named Tom Cruise getting killed in fun and interesting ways, ways that show just enough exposed cranium to make the exercise mean something, is pretty invigorating.

But! Do we not, paradoxically, also want to see The Character Named Tom Cruise succeed? To save the world and get the girl? Yeah, of course we do. This is Tom Cruise we’re talking about. And it’s Blunt, playing it straight the whole time while kicking a Ripley-in-Aliens level of xenomorph butt, who has to downshift from hero-on-a-recruiting-poster to woman-who-we-kind-of-want-to-see-kiss-Tom-Cruise in order to make Cage’s journey from charming coward to soldier/love interest believable. He’s the hero we deserve, that we also need to see die.

Genre films Minority Report (Best Visual Effects) and Interview With The Vampire (Best Costume Design) also take home the hardware.

(4) Janis Ian, who now writes in the sf field, has her own Bill Cosby story from when she was a teenager preparing to sing her hit song on The Smothers Brothers show in 1967.

“No, I was not sexually bothered by Bill Cosby,” said Ian in a Facebook post Tuesday, reacting to a New York magazine report featuring 35 women who accuse Cosby of sexual impropriety.

In her post, Ian accused Cosby of publicly outing her as a lesbian, based on a chance meeting backstage at a television show.

“Cosby was right in one thing. I am gay. Or bi, if you prefer, since I dearly loved the two men I lived with over the years. My tilt is toward women, though, and he was right about that.”

(5) On to tamer subjects – the Worldcon business meeting. Kevin Standlee hopes to discourage complaints while rewarding the reader’s attention with a good discussion of why meetings adopt Roberts Rules or the equivalent:

The reason that parliamentary procedure is complex is that it’s trying to balance a bunch of contradictory rights. If you’re someone who is convinced that your personal, individual right to speak for as long as you want and as many times at you want trumps the rights of the group to be able to finish the discussion and reach a decision in a reasonable time, well, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever be happy with any rules that allow for limits on debate. If you’re someone who has no patience with debate and just wants the Strong Man to Make Decisions, you’ll never be pleased with rules that allow for people to debate and reach a group decision through voting….

And he invites your help to improve how WSFS meetings are run.

WSFS rules are complicated because the people who attend the meetings have effectively voted for complexity, but also because some of the complexity is required to protect the rights of members, both individually and in groups, and including the members who aren’t even at the meeting. If you have a better way for deciding how we should run things, the onus is on you to propose something. As long as you just complain that “it’s too complicated,” without proposing something both easier and workable, don’t expect to be taken seriously.

(6 ) Russell Blackford on Metamagician and the Hellfire Club delivers “The Hugo Awards – 2015 – Summation”.

Even if there is a legitimate grain of truth somewhere amongst the complaints of the Sad Puppies group, their actions have led to an exceptionally weak Hugo field this year and to some specific perverse outcomes. If the Sad Puppies campaigners merely thought that there is a “usual suspects” tendency in recent Hugo nomination lists, and that politically conservative authors are often overlooked in recent times, they could have simply argued their case based on evidence. Likewise, they could have taken far wiser, far more moderate – far less destructive – actions to identify some genuinely outstanding works that might otherwise have been missed. What we saw this year, with politicised voting on an unprecedented scale, approached the level of sabotaging the awards. I repeat my hope that the Sad Puppies campaign will not take place next year, at least in anything like the same form. If it does, my attitude will definitely harden. I’ve been rather mild about the Sad Puppies affair compared to many others in SF fandom, and I think I can justify that, but enough is enough.

I really can’t understand how Blackford processes the ethics of the 2015 situation, this being the third go-round for Sad Puppies, that “enough” had not happened already to warrant a stronger expression of his disapproval, but a fourth iteration will.

(7) The shortest “fisking” in history — Larry Correia strikes back at Sad Puppies references in The New Yorker’s Delany interview The boldfaced sentences below are literally 66% of what he had to say.

The ensuing controversy has been described, by Jeet Heer in the New Republic, as “a cultural war over diversity,” since the Sad Puppies, in their pushback against perceived liberals and experimental writers, seem to favor the work of white men.

Diversity my ass. Last years winners were like a dozen white liberals and one Asian liberal and they hailed that as a huge win for diversity. 

Delany said he was dismayed by all this, but not surprised. “The context changes,” he told me, “but the rhetoric remains the same.”

Well, that’s a stupid conclusion. 

Alert the bugler to blow “Taps” over the fallen standards of Correia fisks….

(8) Cheryl Morgan tells fans don’t give up.

Look, there will be some weird stuff in the results this year. There may well be a few No Awards given out, and possibly some really bad works winning awards. It is not as if that hasn’t happened before, though perhaps not in the same quantities. On the other hand, people are talking about the Hugos much more this year than they ever have before, and in many more high profile places. In addition vastly more people have bought supporting memberships, and we are looking at a record number of people participating in the final ballot. All of those people will be eligible to nominate next year. This isn’t the way I would have liked to get that result, but it is a result all the same.

(9) John Scalzi realized he would have a more restful day if instead of discussing the Hugos he spent his time doing computer maintenance.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, David K.M. Klaus and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit to File 770 contributing editor Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 7/17

Praise, complaints and tales of derring-didn’t fill the Scroll today.

(1) George Barr, Fan Guest of Honor at MidAmeriCon, the 1976 Worldcon, unexpectedly popped up in a soft-sell blog entry for PR firm Signal Hill, “Science Fiction Illustrator Finds Home”

Barr’s art, often marked by a distinctive watercolor-over-ballpoint pen technique, illustrated science fiction magazines for decades, including the covers of “Amazing Stories,” “Fantastic Stories” and “If.” Barr also brought books to life through his work with publishers like DAW Books and Ace Books.

Prior to compiling this impressive resume, Barr did a great deal of free work for “fanzines,” non-professional publications popular in the science fiction world. Not only did it help build his portfolio, but it was a way to get his illustrations out, he says. The work even earned him a Hugo Award for best fan artist at the World Science Fiction Convention in 1968.

Barr earned these achievements with only one formal art course under his belt. Though he says he learned a lot about color, harmony and composition, the emphasis on commercial art did not play toward his interests. The freedom of the fantasy genre spoke to him most, he says.

“There was absolutely nothing you could imagine that could not occur,” says Barr of the genre. “You can conceivably be drawing anything that ever existed or might.”

Barr is 78 and has good things to say about the retirement community where he lives.

(2) Was the late Christopher Lee’s illustrious war record a complete fabrication? The Daily Mail writer who penned Lee’s obituary is now deconstructing his claims.

Until the end of the war, the man who would be Dracula served with the air force as an intelligence officer, briefing and debriefing pilots, and liaising with other units.

It was during this time that he claimed to have served in some way with the Long Range Desert Group and the SAS.

As Gavin Mortimer has shown, there is simply no evidence to support this. Lee may have worked alongside these units in some way, but he was emphatically not a part of them.

‘Lee didn’t exactly lie,’ says Mortimer. ‘But he did lead us on, encouraging us to believe [his job] had involved more derring-do than it actually did.’

In an interview he gave to Belgian television to promote Lord Of The Rings, Lee claimed also to have served with a small special forces organisation called No 1 Demolition Squadron, better known as Popski’s Private Army (PPA) after its charismatic leader Major Vladimir Peniakoff.

Like the Long Range Desert Group and the SAS, the PPA was a raiding and reconnaissance unit, and its exploits are venerated by many.

Again, there is no hard evidence to support Lee’s claim that he worked with the PPA.

(3) It’s not so much the complaints about Comic-Con that drew me to Heidi MacDonald’s roundup of what the convention’s critics had to say, but what she revealed in passing about the support other cons give to fans with disabilities, which far exceeds anything I see at the cons I attend:

There were many complaints about Hall H this year as always. Was it different? Not sure. I do know at least one person told me he got in and found many empty seats inside while a huge line was still waiting to get in, but that could be due to safety measures for crowd control. I would like to draw your attention to this post by Nick Eskey on the Talk Back panel and the subsequent comment threads as it deals with disabled attendees and the line wait. While to some hearing a fellow complain about not having a place to plug in his CPAP machine while waiting for Hall H may seem the height of folly, but you know, physically challenged fans have the same right to experience whatever it is they want out of Hall H as anyone else.

This is that guy that only slept 16 hours and needed his CPAP machine. You apparently only caught part of what I was saying, which is, that if they had not removed the outlets I could have used my CPAP machine and slept outside just fine. Besides that, however, you missed the point completely which is not everyone with disabilities can sleep outside. Because of that they should be given special consideration for their placement in line. What other convention gives ADA this sort of consideration? Try Emerald City Comic Con and PAX Prime, both in Seattle and both allow ADA to ALWAYS be first in line. Try DragonCon in Atlanta, where ADA have volunteers that will guide them through the convention, hold their spot in line and generally assist them in whatever way needed. I was on the BoD for OkCon and we bent over backwards to assist our ADA. Maybe because we had people on the board with disabilities.

And there’s even more in the Nick Eskey post she links to.

(4) On the other hand, fans are responding skeptically to a blogger’s complaint to SDCC management that the nine-year-old Who fan in his party was traumatized by the horror-oriented displays near the items they went to see. I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the complaint myself. As the parent of a 13-year-old, I have discovered my former ideas of what’s okay for kids were pretty out-of-touch.

I attended SDCC this year as part of a larger group. One of our party, a nine-year-old, is a HUGE Whovian (we are a large Whovian family), so the first day at the convention we immediately made our way to the BBC America booth for Doctor Who merchandise, photo ops, and chatting with the BBC America representatives onsite about Doctor Who and upcoming events. We found that the booth was sandwiched between a booth for AMC’s The Walking Dead and Starz’s upcoming series Ash vs Evil Dead. Though problematic on its own, we were extra upset to find that both horror booths had their walls covered in TVs playing, on loop, terrifying clips of zombie horror (The Walking Dead) and absurdly gory violence (Ash vs Evil Dead), of which the latter’s level of violence I, even as a 24 year old man, actively avoid because it’s an anxiety trigger to me.

That night our 9 year-old woke up screaming with nightmares about zombies attacking her, and the next day she burst into tears when we tried to enter the con floor (despite the fact that we were far from the horror booths). For the rest of the con, while we were able to get her onto the con floor without a meltdown, we had to make a wide berth around the BBC America booth because of its proximity to the Walking Dead and Ash vs Evil Dead booths, which was secondarily upsetting for her because she was previously extremely excited to be near the Doctor Who things (especially the TARDIS set up at the Hollywood Sci-Fi Museum booth, also placed next to the Ash vs Evil Dead booth – she wanted to take her photo with the TARDIS so badly).

…Thank you so much for all that you do to organize and present this convention every year. Beyond this, we had very little issues with the rest of the con and overall had a great time. It’s simply unfortunate that the experience was marred by the emotional trauma inadvertently caused to our child stemming from the placement of BBC America’s booth between two of the biggest horror booths at the convention.

(5) John King Tarpinian says Mystery & Imagination Bookshop in Glendale is getting a lot of people wanting to buy reading copies of To Kill a Mockingbird, which led to a surprising discovery. “They are running out of paperback reading copies. A good customer says she wants a copy, the bookshop has one paperback left but Malcolm remembers that Christine paid $2 for a 40th anniversary hardback the other day and figures he’d be nice by offering it to the customer for $5 when she comes in. Malcolm, as is his habit, opens the book to discover it is SIGNED by Harper Lee. This is how a $2 book becomes a $1000 book.”

 

(6) While analyzing how the Hugos fit into contemporary fandom, Karl-Johan Norén points out that everyone thinks he/she is at the center of fandom.

(Ur-)Fandom came to Sweden in the 1950s. In the early 70s Tolkien societies evolved here from it, in many ways similar to SCA in the United States. The ties between the Tolkien societies and fandom in Sweden are still strong, and we can mingle relatively easily. However, media fandom, cosplay, LARP, and lots of other stuff were direct imports from the United States. Here the cultural differences are much larger and more profound. Partly this is because of the direct import, partly this is because Swedish fandom after the disastrous feuds of the 80s closed in on itself and very much focused on the core of discussing science fiction as books.

Put another way, the splinter lines within all the various off-shoots, special fandoms, and so are much easier to see here in Sweden. But the same tendencies are very much present in the United States, I imagine.

Another thing which has happened, from the 90s forward, is that the Internet has made it much easier to set up special interest groups that can gain critical size and connectivity. Baen’s Bar is one early such example, but there are many more nowadays.

So which of these disparate groups do the label “fandom” belong to nowadays? All of them. However, there is a tendency to use the word “fandom” as a shorthand for “the specific fannish group that I happen to be a member of”. I believe this is especially true within “core” fandom, the one that evolved around the pulp magazines in the 20s and 30s, with a primary interest in written science fiction. Historically, I think that movement can claim having first dibs on the label, but it helps to remember that fandom nowadays is much bigger and diverse than “core” fandom is.

(7) And as a kind of postscript, here are John Scalzi’s, Cheryl Morgan’s and Fred Kiesche’s tweets inspired by the report Michael Z. Williamson is voting No Award in every Hugo category.

Santa Claus vs. P.U.P.P.Y. 6/25

aka Fetch-22

In the roundup today: Francis Turner, Greg Ketter, Kristel Autencio, Lyle Hopwood, Abigail Nussbaum, Ridley, Cheryl Morgan, Rachel Neumeier, Brandon Kempner, Kevin Standlee, Lis Carey, Spacefaring Kitten, JT Richardson, Laura “Tevan” Gjovaag, Rebekah Golden, Tim Matheson, Damien G. Walter and less identifiable others. (Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editors of the day Dave Clark and Will Reichard.)

 

Francis Turner on The Otherwhere Gazette

“The Future of Tor” – June 25

The posts inspired me to take a look at my book buying habits and it turns out I jumped the shark gun on the boycott thing because it seems I’ve been boycotting Tor for a while now. Not intentionally, but that’s probably more serious for Tor and its owners than a straightforward determination to boycott. You see Tor don’t actually publish books I want to read and, Kevin J Anderson apart, haven’t done so for a few years.

 

Greg Ketter on Facebook – June 25

[Greg Ketter of DreamHaven Books is offering Tor hardcover books at 40% off through the end of July to show support for Irene Gallo. For locals, the store address is: DreamHaven Books, 2301 E. 38th St., Minneapolis, MN 55406.]

Alright. Enough’s Enough…

I’ve been following some of the Hugo controversy and the follow on Irene Gallo / TOR dust-up and I’m truly tired of the demands for Irene’s ouster as some mis-guided and some other downright evil people threaten boycotts. It’s completely disgusting and JUST PLAIN WRONG and, well, I can do something about it in terms of sales of Tor books.

From now until the end of July, I will sell all TOR hardcover books at 40% off cover price. If I don’t hav…e it in stock, I’ll order it. You can come in the store or you can order by phone or email. This should make it easier to support Irene and negate any minimal effect the boycotters may have. A letter in support of Irene to the very same people that Vox Day and Peter Grant and others are asking you to send hate mail to would also go a long way.

I’ve been quiet on the whole subject mostly because I just couldn’t be bothered to spend any time on it. I wasn’t worried about adverse effects on my own business since I sincerely doubt the kinds of trollish behavior I’m seeing is from any of my customers. I’m amazed that the biggest complainers would have bought any books from Tor, ever, since they admit their reading tastes are generally contrary to everything that Tor holds dear (this is a totally facetious statement since I have no idea what it could really mean – I’ve been buying Tor books for my store since they first started and from what I can see, they publish books that they can sell. Period.)

So, I’m declaring July to be TOR BOOKS MONTH around here and I wish you all good reading.

 

Kristel Autencio on BookRiot

“The Brave New World of Spec Fic Magazines: A Primer” – June 25

Tor.com

Let’s address the giant, unhappy elephant in the room. When I started building this primer early in June, I automatically rounded up some of my favorite short stories published on the Tor website, acquired by keen editors such as Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Ellen Datlow and Anne Vandermeer. I was going to talk about how each story is paired with some of the most arresting artwork in the genre, thanks in large part to the art direction by Irene Gallo. That was before Tor publisher Tom Doherty proceeded to throw Irene Gallo under the bus, succumbing to an extended campaign by so-called Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies, whose reason for existence is their opposition to the fact that more people of color, LGBTQ+ people, and women are taking up space in the SFF landscape. Rioter Brenna Clark Gray goes more in-depth with this story.

This is not the recommendation I had wanted to write.

Some who are appalled by these developments are disavowing support for Tor, since it is an institution that would rather appease genre reactionaries than support their own employees who are doing vital work. This is a valid response.  But Tor (both the website and the publishing house) is also home to stories that Irene Gallo and other people like her are working hard to champion, the very voices that the Puppy Industrial Complex are saying should not be recognized by the Hugos or the Nebulas. It is your prerogative to not give Tor any of your money or your clicks, but I urge you to take note of these names, all of whom I first encountered through this publication: ….

 

Lyle Hopwood on Peromyscus

“’Do you mean to throw a level playing field under the bus?’” – June 24

In an impassioned argument against the proposal for a Hugo for “Sagas”, a professional SF writer writes:

Under the bus screenshot

“Do you mean to throw a level playing field under the bus?” I don’t know whether that fantastic image makes me more likely to buy their work or less. I’ve been thinking about the phrase to throw someone under the bus recently, as it was used approximately 16,993 times in the discussions about publisher Tor’s open letter disavowing Irene Gallo’s Facebook comment, which, since it referred to her by name, was widely considered to be throwing her under the bus.

 

 

Ridley on Stay With Me, Go Places

“Doing Slightly More Than Nothing About The Hugo Awards” – June 24

For the first time in my life, I’ll be voting on the Hugo Awards this year.

I’ve been reading science fiction for several decades now, but this is the first time I’ve felt strongly enough about the awards to get involved. One vote isn’t much, but I feel like it’s important to do what little bit I can. I’ll share my ballot after I submit it.

 

Cheryl Morgan on Cheryl’s Mewsings

“Archipelacon – Day 1” – June 25

Thus far I have done one panel. It was about the Puppies and what to do about them. Hopefully I managed to convey the fact that there’s not much any individual can do because of the determined way in which WSFS refuses to give anyone any power. All that Kevin, or I, or anyone else can do is try to make things better and hope that sufficient people come along with us. No matter what we do, large numbers of people will think we failed, because so many people refuse to believe that there isn’t a secret cabal running everything.

 

Brandon Kempner on Chaos Horizon

“A Best Saga Hugo: An Imagined Winner’s List, 2005-2014” – June 25

I’m using the assumption that Hugo voters would vote for Best Saga like they vote for Best Novel and other categories. Take Connie Willis: she has 24 Hugo nominations and 11 wins. I figure the first time she’s up for a Best Saga, she’d win. This means that my imagined winners are very much in keeping with Hugo tradition; you may find that unexciting, but I find it hard to believe that Hugo voters would abandon their favorites in a Best Saga category. I went through each year and selected a favorite. Here’s what I came up with as likely/possible winners (likely, not most deserving). I’ve got some explanation below, and it’s certainly easy to flip some of these around or even include other series. Still, this is gives us a rough potential list to see if it’s a worthy a Hugo: ….

 

Rachel Neumeier

“Just about ready to vote for the Hugo Awards” – June 25

[Reviews all nominated fiction, movies, and pro artists. Then continues with comments about Hugo rules changes.]

The best post I’ve seen about the situation with the Hugos this year, incidentally, is this recent one by Rich Horton at Black Gate. I think he is dead right about the desirability of reforming the Hugo Award so that any one person can only nominate so many works per category, and then the categories contain more works than that. I don’t think I would say that anyone can nominate up to five works and then there will be ten nominees, though. Ten is a lot. I think it is too many. My preference would be: you can nominate only four works per category, and there will be six (or, fine, eight if necessary) nominees. That should really help break the power of both bloc voting and over-the-top fan clubs to put one author on the ballot five times in a single year.

I would also be in favor of a more specific reform: No author can have more than two works up for a Hugo in one year, or more than one work per category. If more than that make the cut, the author must choose two total, one per category, and the rest must be eliminated from the ballot. No one – no one – ever has or ever will write one-fifth of all the best stories produced in a given year. It is absolutely ridiculous to allow a ballot that implies that is possible, and worse to deny exposure to other works that might otherwise be nominated….

 

Kevin Standlee on Fandom Is My Way Of Life

“Procedural Notice: Recording Committee of the Whole” – June 25

I have mentioned a few times and in a few places that at this year’s Business Meeting, what I call the “technical” discussion of complex proposals such as E Pluribus Hugo (and possibly Popular Ratification) might best be handled by having the meeting go into what is known as “Committee of the Whole.” A proponent of the proposal would then hold the floor during the COTW and do a Q&A-style discussion. Such discussions are procedurally more difficult to do in the main debate because of the rules regarding who can speak and how often; however, the two proposals I’ve named (and possibly others to come) are sufficiently complex that I expect that many members simply want to ask the sponsors of the motions what the proposals mean…..

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“Interstellar, screenplay by Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan, directed by Christopher Nolan (Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures, Legendary Pictures, Lynda Obst Productions, Syncopy)” – June 25

interstellar

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form 2015 Hugo nominee Interstellar is visually magnificent, exciting, thought-provoking, and a bit long. It pains me to say that last bit. I wanted to love every second of it. In the end, I couldn’t, though I did love most of it. Parts of it did just drag, and there’s no way around that.

 

Spacefaring Kitten on Spacefaring, Extradimensional Happy Kittens

“The Bondesque Superhero Action of Captain America: The Winter Soldier” – June 25

All Captain America is good for seems to be posturing and telling everybody what’s the moral thing to do (in addition to throwing his shield around which looks sillier in movies than in comic books). I almost rooted for the comically sinister Nazis.

Score: 4/10.

 

JT Richardson on JT’s German Adventure

Hugos 2015 Read – Best Graphic Story – June 25

Zombie Nation

I am, and have long been*, a MASSIVE comics fan. My tastes generally run to superhero comics, though I’ve dipped my toe into the more “serious” waters — Maus, Persepolis, Blankets***, Logicomix****, and the AWESOME Cartoon History of the Universe. But this year’s noms are a pretty nice mix — One Marvel, 3 Image (Hooray for creator-owned!) and one webcomic. DC was too busy planning its semi-annual reboot to generate nominees*****. Best Graphic Story — As a long-time reader of superhero, especially Marvel, comics, I’m definitely biased toward the capes. But this year’s noms only have one (which I have already read, and loved). Here are my thoughts, in reverse alphabetical order: ….

 

Reading SFF

“2015 Hugo Awards Reading: Why Science is Never Settles – Tedd Roberts (Best Related Work)” – June 25

Apart from that, my main criticism of the article regarding its Hugo nomination is the fact that its SFF-relatedness is nothing more than a single reference to one of Eric Flint‘s novels. So, even though this is a good article, I don’t think it should be on the Hugo ballot as a “Best Related Work”, irrespective of whether it was published by SFF publisher Baen or whether it contains a SFF-al reference.

In conclusion, this nominee will not appear on my ballot, it should never have been nominated in this category as I don’t consider it to be a “Related Work”.

 

Reading SFF

“2015 Hugo Awards Reading: Turncoat – Steve Rzasa (Short Story)” – June 25

The plot is nothing special and unfortunately for me, the reader, it was predictable how things would turn out very early on (the title of the story was a big give-away, but even without that title the plot design would have been obvious).

Still, the story is good enough that I will place it above No Award.

 

Reading SFF

“2015 Hugo Awards Reading: Wisdom from my Internet – Michael Z. Williamson” – June 23

Wisdom from my Internet is a collection of very short jokes (tweets maybe?) on a variety of subjects, mainly US-American politics though. It self-published by the author in an imprint he fittingly named “Patriarchy Press”. I started reading, then skimming then fast-forwarding through it with short stops to see whether it had improved further on (it hadn’t) until I reached the end. That was fast. And easy to judge: not on my ballot will this thing ever be. No Award. Because:

Are you* serious?

*By “you” I mean Sad Puppies, Rabid Puppies, and whoever gets to decide whether a given nominee is an eligible nominee.

 

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

“Hugo Reviewing – Professional Artist” – June 25

[Comments on all five nominees before concluding –]

It’s not hard to figure out that Dillon’s work impressed me the most, by a fairly large margin. I’d then go with DouPonce for my second-place choice. Pollack and Greenwood rank about the same and Reid is last, not because he’s worst, but because his art doesn’t seem to fit for me. I might even mix it up and put Reid above the other two. This is another one I’m going to have to sleep on.

With the exception of Dillon, whose subjects I enjoyed, and Reid, who had a wide variety of subjects, the choice of imagery was fairly standard for the artists. They were cover art for the most part, but they were fairly static. As a comic book reader, I like my art to flow and have some sense of movement… like your mind will fill in the next scene. Pollack, Greenwood and DouPonce had art that felt like it was posed. Dillon’s work was more natural. Reid, of course, is a sequential artist, so he didn’t have that problem.

 

Rebekah Golden

“2015 Hugo Awards Best Novel: Reviewing Ancillary Sword” – June 24

I’m glad I read Ancillary Sword. It was an interesting book with some very topical thoughts on oppression and distribution of wealth. Anyone who is familiar with the concepts of company towns will find similar motifs in Ancillary Sword. Anyone who read and enjoyed Ancillary Justice will find Ancillary Sword to be a fitting continuation of the story, well written, well thought out, well developed. The compelling questions behind it aren’t as striking as in the first novel which I think is why it falls a little flat comparatively. Still, solidly good military sci-fi in the tradition of Elizabeth Moon and Tanya Huff.

 

Rebekah Golden

“2015 Hugo Awards Best Graphic Novel: Reviewing Rat Queens” – June 24

I know there’s a lot of nostalgia over D&D right now but personally I’m tired of fictionalized D&D campaigns no matter how clever or well drawn. Throw in a little Lovecraft, add a college dorm element, top it off with some back story and potential for depth, it’s still D&D nostalgia. And nostalgia must be written let it at least have a twist. No twist. Fun, well drawn, nostalgia.

 

Tim Atkinson on Magpie Moth

“Hard science, hot mess: Liu Cixin’s The Three-Body Problem” – June 25

The Three Body Problem was a late arrival to the Hugo ballot this year, being added after withdrawals due to voting slate politics.

The work of one of China’s most prominent science-fiction writers, Liu Cixin, it is actually nearly ten years old. In 2014, it finally penetrated the cultural myopia of the Anglosphere in translation, and is therefore eligible for a Hugo.

And I’m jolly glad of this, since The Three Body Problem is one of the two stand-out novels on the shortlist, along with the very different The Goblin Emperor. Amid space opera and fantasy (urban and classic flavours) it sticks out like a tall poppy because it is full to the brim of ideas.

 

Disney’s “101 Nominations” 5/25

aka Crate Expectations

The Memorial Day roundup begins with Dave Freer and carries on with Cheryl Morgan, Jeff Duntemann, Sam Finlay, Adam-Troy Castro, Lisa J. Goldstein, Joseph Tomaras, Andrew Hickey, Rebekah Golden, Martin Wisse, Declan Finn, Steve Leahy and Dcarson. (Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editors of the day William Reichard and Jim Henley.)

Dave Freer on Mad Genius Club

“Making a living, and things that may interfere with it” – May 25

So far, to best of my knowledge, the Puppies, both sad and rabid, and their followers have avoided attacking things which make people a living. They’ve asked people to NOT take it out on the authors who have been pressured into stepping out of Noms. They’ve spoken out against punishing Tor Books despite the Neilsen Hayden’s and friends attacks on ‘Making Light’. No-one has called for a boycott or blacklist of David Gerrold, or Glenn Hauman, or to have their reputations tarnished and Amazon reviews deliberately lowered.

That’s of course NOT true in the converse. And while there’s been some passive-aggressive ‘semi-plausible-deniability’ ‘who will rid us of these turbulent puppies’ basically from the get-go it’s been attacks on the ability of the Puppy organizers and the nominees ability to make a living. We’re immoral destroyers (we obeyed the rules to letter. Patrick Nielsen Hayden broke the embargo rules with absolute impunity, not a word of criticism offered. Rules are only for little people.) who break every convention of good behavior (David Gerrold, the MC of the event, has been campaigning relentlessly against the Pups and the nominees – which is so far outside the canon of ‘acceptable behavior’ as to be a light-year beyond the pale). They organized smears on Entertainment Weekly to label us racists and sexists – which the magazine had to redact because they’re demonstrably untrue. It didn’t stop the smears mysteriously cropping up in ‘friendly’ outlets across the English Speaking world. Gerrold and TNH carefully listed all the nasty things –exclusion from Cons, denial of space in publications, editors closing doors to subs, reviews being denied… that just would happen to us. All things that would, had to affect the puppies ability to make a living. Not one of them said ‘hey, these people have families. They’re human too.’ In fact we had phrases flung about putting us down. Untermench. Then we have Glenn Hauman calling for people to use the Hugo package for a way to game the rankings against the puppies. “Oh, and to answer the title question: what do you do to rabid puppies? You put them down.”

 

Jeff Duntemann on Jeff Duntemann’s Contrapositive Diary

“Sad Puppies Summary and Wrapup” – May 24

Eveybody’s got a theory on how to fix the Hugo Awards process, but to me the process is fine; what’s missing is about 25,000 more involved nominators and voters. A large enough voter base is unlikely to be swept by something like a slate of recommendations. Whether so many new people can be brought into the Worldcon/Hugos community is unclear, but I doubt it.

That’s about all I’m going to have to say about the Sad Puppies topic for awhile. I’m turning my attention back to writing, to the concept of the Human Wave, and perhaps to a suspicion I have that fandom is in the process of splitting. The problems of fandom are caught up in the problems of publishing. Once Manhattan-style traditional publishing becomes more or less irrelevant, fandom may become an overlapping group of online communities centered on authors and genres. Each will probably have its own awards, and the Hugos will become only one among many. Is this a good thing?

You bet!

 

Sam Finlay on Return of Kings

“How Female-Dominated Publishing Houses Are Censoring Male Authors” – May 25

We continued talking about why the industry seems to be so focused on just playing to the tastes of upper-middle class women in New York City, and I then told him some things that Sci-Fi author Larry Correia had said recently in a podcast concerning the Sad Puppies-Rabid Puppies controversy, and how it struck me that by pursuing their current strategy the publishing houses are ignoring huge markets of people willing to buy books and are cutting their own throats.

He broke in saying, “I know, I know…But look, Sam…you gotta stop thinking. Just stop thinking! Thinking about all this will drive you crazy! Don’t go to bookstores, if they even still have any where you live. Don’t look at other books. You’ll just wonder how in the world this thing even got published,” and then told me some more anecdotes about how the sausage is made. He then quoted Otto Priminger, saying “Nobody knows anything.”

It was sad. He’s a good man, and was just as frustrated about it all as anybody, but he’s stuck fighting a literati who only look for books that support the current narrative, and is left trying to sneak in what stories he can, however he can.

 

Adam-Troy Castro on Facebook – May 25

So if somebody unfamiliar to me wins an award I was up for, and more importantly gets a big contract while I’m left begging for more porridge at Mr. Bumble’s Workhouse, I honestly give serious thought to the premise that I have missed something that excels in a way my efforts do not.

By contrast, a glance at some of the rhetoric issued by {Gay-Basher McManly-Nuts} establishes a deep and unwavering belief that he, and those who work in his wheelhouse, represent the bastion of greatness against which the rest of us hammer in vain, like zombies trying to get past a boarded-up window.. To wit, if he hasn’t set the world on fire, if he is not met at the convention gates by a swarm of screaming groupies like the kids at the beginning of A HARD DAY’S NIGHT, if books that are nothing like the books he writes get more acclaim than his, the answer can only be that it MUST BE A CONSPIRACY, that justifies an EVEN MORE BLATANT CONSPIRACY. He has no doubts at all. He deserves this. He is angry, Mr. {Gay-Basher McManly-Nuts}. And it is not just regular anger. It is righteous anger, bringing us to the point that being righteously angry is not necessarily the same thing as being justifiably angry, not even close.

The difference between Mr. {Gay-Basher McManly-Nuts} and myself is therefore significant, and it boils down to the statement that while I am very capable of being an asshole about many things, I am not an asshole to that extent or in that particular way.

I also possess discernment about some things that apparently still confuse him.

For instance, I have absolutely no difficulty identifying my elbow. It’s the place in the middle of my arm that bends.

 

Lisa J. Goldstein on theinferior4

“The Hugo Ballot, Part 15: Back to Novellas” – May 25

Okay, I’m surprised.  Tom Kratman’s “Big Boys Don’t Cry” actually reads in places like an anti-war story.  Well, let’s not get carried away here — it’s more a story about the harm that fighting wars can do, the ways in which a personality can be twisted and perverted by the aims of those in command.

Maggie is a Ratha, an intelligent fighting vehicle who has been through countless battles, and been made to forget some of her more disturbing actions.  She has been mortally wounded and is being taken apart for scrap — but the more the workers drill down, the more she starts remembering things that now seem to her to be problematic…..

 

Joseph Tomaras on A Skinseller’s Workshop

“Hugo Short Story Ballot” – May 24

“Totaled” by Kary English is too good a story to be tarred with the brush of a slate. It makes good use of not-as-far-future-as-those-unfamiliar-with-the-field-might-think neuroscience to explore the mind-body problem, the relationship of emotion to cognition, and the furthest limits to which careerist self-sacrifice can drive a person. I wish it had first appeared either in a free online venue, or a magazine with broader circulation than Galaxy’s Edge.

Lou Antonelli’s “On a Spiritual Plane” attempts to cover similar ground, but there’s a crippling contradiction between the short story form, which requires some measure of crisis for the protagonist, and the author’s evident desire simply to set up a world that is confirmatory of the narrator’s Thomistic metaphysics….

 

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“Jeffro Johnson Hugo Nomination Fanwriter Sample” – May 25

This might be the best of the Puppy Fan Writer nominees. At the very least, I can see real substance in it that doesn’t work for me, but surely will for its intended audience.

 

Andrew Hickey on Sci-Ence! Justice Leak!

“Hugo Blogging: ‘Best’ Related Work” – May 25

For fairly obvious reasons, I am not going to give anything on those slates a ranking above No Award. Once again, however, I am grateful that my aesthetic instincts match my moral ones here — while these are (with one notable exception) much less incompetent than the fiction I’ve read so far, none of them are actually, you know, good.

Here’s how I’m ranking them.

Letters from Gardner by Lou Antonelli is half writing autobiography/how to break into SF manual, and half collection of short stories. Basically imagine The Early Asimov, but with Antonelli replacing Asimov and Gardner Dozois replacing John Campbell. Antonelli tells the story of how each of his stories was written, and how it was accepted or rejected. The difference is, though, that Antonelli has had an undistinguished career, lasting roughly a decade, while Asimov was one of the greats of the genre (at least in sales and critical status). There is an intrinsic interest in Asimov’s juvenilia which there just isn’t for Antonelli. The stories were pedestrian, and there were no real insights, but this might be of interest to someone. It’s not *bad*, just also not *good*…..

 

Rebekah Golden

“2015 Hugo Awards Best Short Story: Reviewing L Antonelli” – May 25

“On A Spiritual Plain”, Lou Antonelli (Sci Phi Journal #2, 11-2014)

If this had been longer than fifteen pages I would not have finished it. After I did finish it I looked up the elements of a story to see what was missing.

 

Martin Wisse on Wis[s]e Words

“Preliminary thoughts — Best Graphic story Hugo” – May 25

During the various discussions about the Puppies, the Hugo Awards and everything somebody, I think it was Erik Olson, made the excellent remark that new Hugo categories only make sense if there are enough good candidates each year for it. If there only one or two or even five different candidates in any given year, what’s the point? It occurred to me that the converse is also true: any given Hugo category only makes sense if the Hugo voters are knowledgeable enough to actually vote for more than just a handful of the usual subjects year after year. Otherwise it means you just have an even smaller than usual group of people nominating and most people either not voting, or only voting for names they recognise.

The Best Graphic Story category, which was first awarded in 2009, at first seemed to fail that second requirement. The first three awards were won by Girl Genius and you do wonder whether that was because people recognised Kaja & Phil Foglio from fandom, rather than for the comic itself. The Foglios themselves were gracious enough to withdraw after their third win and since then the category has improved a lot, having been won by three different comics since. I’m still a bit skeptical of how well it will work out in the long term, or whether it’ll become just another category most people won’t care about, like the best semi-prozine or best fan artist ones and just vote by rote, if at all.

On the other hand though, if there’s one thing the Hugos, as well as Worldcon needs if it wants to stay relevant, is to get in touch with wider fandom, to not just focus on the old traditional categories. And comics suit the Hugos well. There are plenty of science fiction comics published each year, even omitting superhero series and there does now seems to be a core of Worldcon fans invested in nominating and voting. Since there isn’t really a proper comics orientated sf award yet, haivng the Hugos take up the slack is an opportunity to make them relevant to a primary comics geek, as opposed to a written sf geek audience.

 

Cheryl Morgan on Cheryl’s Mewsings

“The Wages of Sin” – May 25

Yesterday Sasquan, the 2015 Worldcon, announced that they now have 9,000 members. Fannish mathematics thus makes it the first billion dollar Worldcon1.

On the back of this unexpected windfall the Commie Pinko Faggot Feminazi Cabal that controls Worldcon via Tor Books has announced the 10-year, $3.4 million deal for its primary gamma rabbit author, John Scalzi.

Scalzi’s editor at Tor, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, explained the rationale behind this move. “It was a tough decision,” he said, especially as none of Scalzi’s books have sold more than a dozen or so copies, mostly to his friends and family. The convention revenue simply doesn’t cover the shortfall.” ….

 

Declan Finn on A Pius Man

“The Anti-Puppies (Sad Puppies Bite Back VI)” – May 26

[Putatively humor.]

[GRR Martin …gapes, blinks, then turns to NKJ] And you, hold on a second. You’re not content with having a personal vendetta and an online feud with Vox Day, but you want to deliberately taunt the Dark Lord of the Fisk!? Have you no sense of self-preservation?

[Scalzi frowns] I thought he was the International Lord of Hate

[Jemisin] Anything he says to me will prove that he’s a racist!

 

Declan Finn on A Pius Man

“Putting down the puppies (Sad Puppies Bite Back VII)”  – May 26

[Three hours later, down the road, lying in wait, are the Evil League of Evil. Tom Kratman tirelessly watches the road, awaiting the dog catcher truck.  John “Dr. O. No” Ringo, now that the sun is down, furiously taps away on his laptop, cranking out a rough draft of a 15-book series on an alien invasion. Larry Correia, the International Lord of Hate, is fisking the entire back catalog of The Guardian. The Cuddly Skeletor, Brad Torgersen, clutches the flamethrower on loan from Larry, looking like a kid waiting for Christmas morning.]

[LC looks up]  I’m running out of Guardian articles.  Are they coming or not?

[TK growls, frustrated]  I don’t see them sir!  We still have the Claymore mines ready and waiting to blow them straight to Hell at the first sign!  Assuming the land mines in the road don’t get them first! Or the three backup snipers!

[LC]  Geez, Tom, are you sure that we’ll even need to fire a shot, assuming they ever get here?

[TK] Better to be prepared than not, sir!

[LC sighs, closes the laptop, and stands up, taking care not to hit the flagpole above him]  Okay, everyone, we’re packing up. Brad, sorry, no flamethrower for you tonight.

[Brad, frustrated that he never got to use his flame thrower on the self-destructed anti-Puppies, fires it off into space.  The massive fireball makes it way to low orbit.  It impacts and explodes against a low-flying alien spacecraft, a scout for the incoming armada.  The armada, thinking their surprise has been ruined, turn around and retreat. The wounded ship hurtles in an uncontrolled descent, slamming right into Tor’s officers, taking out the entire suite of offices, and a few cockroaches — including an intern named Joe Buckley, but no one noticed one way or another, since interns are all disposable anyway. But Joe died happy. He FINALLY got to see an exploding space ship!]

 

Dcarson on Steve Jackson Games Board & Dice Forum

“Mars Attacks (Worldcon)” – May 24

Played Mars Attacks this weekend at Balticon. We noticed that the cities showing were all ones we had been to a Worldcon in. So for the next game we sorted through the city deck and if we allowed San Diego as the site of a Nasfic we had 16 city and monument cards. So a 4 player game of Mars Attacks the Worldcon.

 

 

The Unbearable Lightness of Puppies 5/7

aka Slate Expectations

Today’s lightness comes from Katherine Tomlinson, amalythia, David Gerrold, Brad R. Torgersen, Cat Valente, Voss Foster, Andrew Knighton, Nick Mamatas, William Reichard, P. Llewellyn James, Cheryl Morgan, Bonnie McDaniel, Lisa J. Goldstein, Eemeli Aro, Kate Paulk, Pat Patterson, Tom Knighton, Dan Ammon, John Scalzi and Alexandra Erin. A couple of these are older items that seem to have been missed by earlier roundups. (Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editors of the day Kary English and Daniel P. Dern.)

Katherine Tomlinson on Kattomic Energy

“Hullabaloo over the Hugos” – May 3

When I first heard about the gaming of the system, it was disappointing but I spent decades in L.A. where gaming the system at awards time is a fine art. (Remember how many people were shocked, SHOCKED that Pia Zadora got a Golden Globe Award?)

But I grew up reading science fiction and fantasy. I write it now. And the stories I write and the characters I create reflect the world I live in. Complicated. Diverse. And women do more than open hailing frequencies and get rescued from towers.

The idea that there are writers out there who are trying to hijack two entire genres of writing to advance their political agenda is just not tolerable. I’m not a member of the WSFS but even so, I have skin in the game. Because I love these genres. And it is a delight to discover writers whose work inspires me. And entertains me. Call me a “pissypants” if you like (see above Slate article) but what that cabal of writers did will NEVER be okay for me. And it wouldn’t be okay if they’d had a liberal, left-leaning agenda either.

 

 

amalythia on Medium

“I Do Not Wish to Offend – Short Story” – May 6

[amalythia has written a story in response to Kameron Hurley’s short story “It’s About Ethics in Revolution”.]

There is a large bell in the center of town that used to ring every morning. But then the Minister’s daughter complained that the noise triggered her, by waking her up from her sleep. It doesn’t ring anymore. Instead we’re awoken by a phone call from our manager. My roommate sleeps right through it. I heard her mumble something about not coming in. Again. Ever since our last manager seemed to disappear overnight, when she threatened to fire her for incompetence, no one dares question her. I wear my tag: 0678. I think I had a name at some point, perhaps the one inscribed on the pendant my mother left for me. They don’t allow names anymore, as certain names might offend some people. I wouldn’t want to offend them.

 

David Gerrold on Facebook – May 7

… Second, after we reaffirm our commitment to inclusiveness, we need to consider whether or not the Hugo nominating rules need to be adjusted. I believe that the administrators of the award should have the power to disqualify slate-ballots, but the mechanisms for this might be controversial. (It should be possible to do a computer analysis of the balloting. If 25 or more ballots come in with identical nominees in every category, and they match a publicized slate…that could be considered compelling evidence.) Other proposals have been offered as well, and I expect there to be some vigorous discussion…..

But the point I’m working toward is a difficult one — it’s a conversation that we tend to shy away from. But any functioning community, does have the right to protect itself from disruptive agencies. Groups can and do disinvite those who spoil the party.

The SFWA expelled Vox Day for his unprofessional behavior. Fandom as a community, and the Worldcon as an institution, should have the same power to invite someone to the egress. Other conventions have taken steps to protect themselves from toxic and disruptive individuals — and based on the back-and-forth conversations I’ve seen, and as unpleasant a discussion as this will be, maybe it’s time to have a discussion about the mechanisms for shutting down someone who has publicly declared his intention to destroy the awards.

That’s the point. We cannot talk about healing while the knife is still being twisted in the wound. I can’t speak for the sad puppies, I can’t tell them what to do — but I would hope that they would recognize that being perceived as standing next to a man who wants to destroy the system is not the best place to stand. Despite what’s being said in their own echo chambers, the larger narrative isn’t a good one for the puppies.

 

Brad R. Torgersen in a comment to David Gerrold – May 7

Thing is, no matter how much “daylight” Larry and I put between ourselves and Vox Day, there are people on “your” side, David, who insist that it’s all the same thing. That there is no difference at all.

For five weeks, Larry and myself have had to hear it (from “your” side) about how awful we are.

We invited everyone to the democracy, and we have been awfulized for it. The SP3 voters have been awfulized. Awfulization has been the fad sport of the season. By people who pat themselves on the back for being “inclusive.”

As long as Fandom (caps f) insists on doing “sniff tests” about voters and fans (small f) being the “wrong kind” of people, there won’t be healing. Definitely not. This is the wound Fandom (caps f) has inflicted on itself, after decades of quiet exclusivity. Of telling authors and artists and fans (small f) they’re not the expected, or correct, or sufficiently “fannish” kind of people that Fandom (caps f) deems worthy.

This is why so many fans and professionals *avoid* Worldcon. WSFS. The Hugos. Etc. Because the “sniff test” is very glaring, and if the engineers of “inclusive” exclusivity (they know who they are) succeed in making it so that the poll tax (membership fee) is exorbitant, or that only attending members get to vote on the Hugo, or that the democracy is scuttled altogether (judges “your” side picks, always make sure “your” side gets the answers it wants) then Worldcon gets that much smaller, that much more exclusive, that much less relevant.

Vox Day is a side show. A red herring. Don’t water that weed.

What is Worldcon doing to prove that it is, in fact, WORLDCON? Because any given Comic Con, Dragoncon, et al., beats the pants off Worldcon, in terms of audience youth, audience enthusiasm, and connection to the broader SF/F realm.

To paraphrase a line from one of my favorite films, this isn’t the field you built in your garage anymore.

You can’t arrest Vox Day. You can’t turn off his blog. You can’t touch him. So why fixate on him endlessly?

If Worldcon begins to boast memberships on the order of 30,000 to 55,000 then Vox Day and his influence cease to exist. There is no bloc that can hope to survive those numbers.

So, go big.

Or stay small, and shutter the windows and doors.

One of those choices has a future. The other does not.

 

Cat Valente in a comment on File 770 – May 7

Tintinaus: Regardless of what Dave Freer thinks of me–a writer I barely know who misquotes me at every turn and who, when we met, replied monosyllabically to my friendly overtures while looking like he wanted nothing more than for me to leave, only to go online four years later and claim to know a whole lot about my thoughts and feelings–it makes me sad (AS SAD AS A PUPPY) to hear my SF work once again dismissed as “gussied up” fantasy.

Essentially nothing SFnal I write gets classified as SF. It can take place on other planets, concern itself with science and technology, even have ray guns, and it somehow always gets dismissed with a wave of the hand and an assurance that it’s “just” fantasy. I can think of a lot of science fiction authors with much less hard science than I’ve used in my stories who are never questioned as to which side of the genre they write on. I am genuinely curious whether it’s because I use that pretty language, that I’ve written more fantasy than SF–or maybe my science really is that bad. Or maybe it’s that “hard” SF gets written by men, and the whole conversation is incredibly gendered.

Thing is, I’ve never claimed to write hard SF. I didn’t want to write SF at all for a long time because I was convinced the science fiction community did not want me and would not accept me–funny how that’s still kind of true. I can write about programming and physics till I’m blue in the face but it’ll never be SF for some reason.

And what I said, what I have said over and over at conventions, is that you don’t need a background in math and science to write SF. That’s what research is for. I research like a bear and I would think anyone who’s read my books would laugh at the idea that I think everyone should be ignorant and uneducated–I mostly get called a pretentious, elitist asshole, not a champion of dumbing down. I was trying, as I always do, to assure young writers that they are allowed to write SF even if they don’t have a degree in physics, because I don’t know if people realize how intimidating it can be to even attempt science fiction with a lot of people yelling about getting off their lawn if you’ve never interned for NASA. Or are a dude.

I do not have a science background. I research and I research hard because it’s more difficult for me than folklore and myth, which I’ve studied all my life. But I maintain it’s absurd to say SF can only be written by scientists–absurd and elitist and exclusionary. And honestly, show me the diamond-hard science in the Puppy slate. Show me the PhD peeking out from behind the dust jacket. The kind of SF they advocate, with the buxom ray guns and the strapping spaceships, is NOT hard SF. It’s adventure fiction “gussied up” as science fiction. And that’s fine, but it has no more real science than my gussied up fantasy.

 

Voss Foster on Demon Hunting & Tenth Dimensional Physics

“I Will Walk With You”  – May 6

Now, I’m not a shodan in Aikido (in 4th grade, I had a white belt in karate…), and I don’t have the same presence as Vonda McIntyre. I also hate wearing those badge ribbons. One or two is my max. But I’m 5’10”, and close to 300 pounds (and dropping, yay me!), and I generally look intimidating. But even if I didn’t, like she said, it’s a presence, it’s someone by your side. And I will do that, and happily so. If you feel like you need someone, whatever side of the issue you fall on, I will walk with you.

 

Andrew Knighton

“Change, Reaction and Pain – Coping With Cultural Backlash” – April 29

I love that the world is changing. I love the variety that brings and the novelty it creates within our culture, even as the dark fingers of uncertainty send tremors of fear through my body.

Unfortunately, fear of change is currently rearing its big, ugly head all over geek culture.

The most prominent and hideous example of this is the treatment of feminists in computer gaming. There are some great designers and critics out there critiquing the domination of gaming by white, straight, male gamers and characters, and the way this excludes others. This has triggered a huge backlash, in which people have been called the vilest names and even had their lives threatened for expressing their opinions on a medium they love.

Then there’s the fuss, for the second year in a row, around science fiction and fantasy’s Hugo awards. I think there are a lot of problems with the Hugos, but they’re certainly high profile within the core of sf+f. This year, a reactionary group have managed to dominate the nominations with a slate of conservative, white, male authors. It’s a shame, but it is at least getting people engaged with the awards, and may favour the pro-diversity arguments in the long run.

 

Nick Mamatas in a comment on Ask.fm – May 7

Screw real politics, what about the hugo’s? Torgersen write anymore slash or did Correia just cry for like the twentieth time about how life is unfair and everyone was so mean to him at worldcon?

Brad made a mildly homophobic remark regarding Scalzi, which half the planet had to blog about because it was just soooo awful and apparently now the US will fall to ISIS because how can Brad’s soldiers trust him now?

Anyway, under Sharia law, launching politicized slates for the Hugos is barred, so I guess the problem has solved itself!

 

William Reichard

“Cry ethics and let slip the puppies of war” – May 7

In which I am called a liar, though perhaps not in a way that’s literally, dialectically true but is actually more true because it lets me see the truth, which is that I am lying. Maybe. Or something.

 

William Reichard

“The day I got mentioned on Vox Day’s blog” – May 7

His Voxness mentions me in what may be some kind of compliment, though it may also translate as “you are fairly amusing…for a slave boy with inherently limited mental capacities and basic worth.” But hey, us Rhetoricals take what we can get, right? I know from long experience that my flame-retardant suit is far too flimsy to sustain me in any battle with the mighty forces arrayed off my port bow and preparing to decloak at any sign of hostile intent, so my only hope is to position myself as a jester, dancing merrily on the sidelines and dodging the occasional peach pit. So, hopefully, everyone’s still laughing.  Ergo…where was I again?

 

P. Llewellyn James on The Refuge

“Hugo : ‘Skin Game’ the Best Novel?”  – May 6

There are five books nominated for Best Novel for the 2105 Hugo awards. The winner will be chosen by a few thousand votes from among those who have registered as a member of WorldCon. But what does the wider audience of readers think of the books? Here are some Amazon statistics as of today May 6th. Voting closes on July 31st.

I’m using two measures – the overall sales rank, and my own invented ‘approval rating’, or calculation of positive to negative reviews ((5star + 4star)/(2star + 1star))….

Predictions

The overwhelming favorite on the basis of its approval rating is Skin Game, which is also the second-best seller in Kindle format.

The best-selling book in Kindle format is Lines of Departure, and it has the second-best approval rating.

 

Cheryl Morgan

“A Little Awards News”  – May 7

Also yesterday the Arthur C. Clarke Award continued its journey away from science fiction and towards literary respectability. This year the award went to a beautifully written piece of sentimental twaddle aimed at the sort of pretentious hipsters who think that suffering an apocalypse means being unable to have iPhones, Sunday supplements and skinny flat lattes. It is a very long time since a book without a trans character made me as viscerally angry as Station 11 did. However, I don’t appear to have sent any death threats to the Clarke jury. Nor have I vowed to destroy the award, or even decided that it is “broken”. In fact I rather suspect that the Clarke will do better next year without any help from me. Clearly I am doing this social media thing all wrong.

Then again, I am confident that the winner of this year’s Hugos will be a far better science fiction novel than the winner of the Clarke.

 

Adult Onset Atheist

“SNARL: Flow” – May 6

This is a review of “Flow” by Arlan Andrews, Sr. (Analog, November 2014)

Overall this was an engaging novella. This is such a grand departure from the other four nominees that I will have awarded this story five whole stars (out of 10) by the time I have done reviewing it. I am sure it would have not scored as well if the competition was not so utterly dreadful.

 

Bonnie McDaniel on Red Headed Femme

“The Hugo project: ‘Totaled’” –  April 30

The Hugo Project: “Totaled”

(Note: this is the newest in a series of posts wherein I review as many of the 2015 Hugo nominees as I can, and explain why I will or will not vote for them.) Hot damn. I finally stumbled upon a decent story. Actually, this story is pretty good, even if its premise is downright terrifying.

 

Lisa J. Goldstein on theinferior4

“The Hugo Ballot, Part 4: Short Stories” – May 6

“On a Spiritual Plain” by Lou Antonelli takes place on a planet where “the living and the spirits of the dead coexist side by side” for the sentient race there, the Ymilans.  One day a human, Joe McDonald, dies on Ymilas, and then manifests in spirit form.  The human chaplain learns from the Ymilan chief cleric that Joe’s soul has to make a pilgrimage to the north pole so it can “move on,” and so the three of them — the chaplain, the Ymilan, and Joe’s ghost — set off from the Terran base near the equator.

I would have liked more description of the Ymilans — all we’re told about them is that they’re “large.”  I would have also liked more description of the trek across half the planet, but we see only electrical storms, and, towards the end, “diminishing hills.”  I would have liked some sense of ceremony or ritual when the soul dissipates, but here Antonelli seems to have anticipated readers like me, because he has the Ymilan cleric say, “I’m sorry, I forget your people put a great deal of stock in theater and rituals, which is to be expected in such an immature race.”  Okay, then.

 

Eemeli Aro in a comment on Charles Stross’ Antipope – April 5

[Comments about Worldcon site selection seemed tangential when I started doing these roundups, but after T.C. McCarthy’s tweet and the ensuing discussion here, I am going to link to this so I know where to find the quote in the future.]

Eemeli Aro:  This is what I posted about Castalia House on a mailing list earlier today (for context, I’m chairing the Helsinki in 2017 Worldcon bid and somewhat involved in both Finnish and Worldcon fandoms):

I’d like to note that Castalia House has practically no connection with Finnish sf fandom, and they have never had a presence at any Finnish con. The only communication with the proprietor (Markku Koponen) that I’ve been a party to is a post by him to a Finnish sf mailing list last April, where he states (translating), “As must be clear to most, Castalia House is ideologically opposed to the majority of practically all fannish groups in this country.”

So in brief, no, the Finns that are members of Sasquan on account of having participated in the 2015 site selection vote or that have purchased a membership since then to participate in said process this year are unlikely to be aligned with the supporters of works published by Castalia House.

We do, on the other hand, have a thriving small press and short story scene, and a rather unique fanzine tradition, all of which is well integrated with Finnish fandom at large. Of course that’s mostly hidden from American eyes, as it tends to produce content in Finnish. If you’re interested in such, though, we do have a few things coming out this spring and summer that will be in English.

 

Kate Paulk on Mad Genius Club

“A Mad Genius Goes To RavenCon – Part the Final” – May 7

With a mere hour remaining ere her final panel of the day, Kate the Impaler did rest for a time, whereupon a member of that most secret guild of SMOF did approach her and divulge that the campaign to end the sorrow of young canines was indeed sending waves of shock through the grand halls of fandom, and how in response some sought to wrest that jewel of fandom, the Convention of World, from any locale where the friends of sorrowful young canines might gather, and take it to a far distant place that in isolation they might gather in force and thereby bring about changes to the Rules of Hugo, thus condemning the young canines to eternal sorrow. (For those not inclined to translate: read up on the contenders for the 2017 Worldcon, pay your $40 and vote. You’ll be a supporting member for 2017 before the price rise kicks in, and you get to choose where it is. Vote for the best candidate. Ignore that I like Washington, DC as a venue. I only like it because it’s the only one I could drive to).

The warrior maiden did assure the SMOF that voting would indeed be encouraged, and promised that no secrets would be divulged, for yea, as the house of fandom is divided, so too is the secret guild of SMOF.

 

Schlock Magazine

“Pop Culture Destruction – Forgive Me, For I Have Failed To Destroy Pop Culture”  – May 7

If you’ve been following any goings on in the world of genre/science fiction literature you’ve surely heard of last month’s controversy surrounding the Hugo Awards, which got hijacked by literal fascists in the name of promoting what amounts to little more than right wing propaganda. And that’s before internet scum collective GamerGate got involved. In any case, writer Philip Sandifer has this excellent roundup of the sorry debacle on his blog, to which I can only add that, at this point, the Hugos can only fixed with the application of a bullet to the head.

 

Pat Patterson on Papa Pat Rambles

“Laura Mixon Gets It Right” – May 4

Again: if you have not read Laura’s report, do so. I do not know whether she will win the Hugo in the “Best Fan Writer” or not; she is competing against four other respected fan writers, three of whom I consider to be personal friends. I plan to vote for Nunaya Bidness, but if I were on the slate against her, I would consider that to be an honor-by-association.

 

Tom Knighton

“Woman wants to ban men at literary readings, a fisking” – May 6

I’m sorry, but you can’t claim on one hand that women are self-censoring from raising their hands, and then say it’s not their fault that they’re not raising their hands.  Women aren’t punished for asking questions as adults.

She claims that the moderators don’t notice them, but you know who moderators are far more likely to notice? People raising their damn hands, for one!  Yes, I know they skipped over Livingston, and while she wasn’t their target, they really couldn’t know that, but how prevalent is the situation?  Honestly, maybe it’s just personal.  If these are the same folks, maybe they just don’t like her for some reason?

 

Dan Ammon on The Shield

”Why and How The Hugo Awards Should Be” – April 18

But that doesn’t matter. What matters here are the fact that sci-fi books aren’t being judged on their merit, but their politics. So here’s how I propose to fix that:

A) THE NEUTRAL BENIGN COMMITTEE

What I propose is an apolitical committee that votes on which books, comics, scripts, short stories, etc, should receive nominations to the awards, based on their merit. How would this come into existence? Simply by finding the most apathetic people alive, have the Hugo voters, lefty and righty alike, deliberate and nominate them, then subject these nominees to a lie detector test to make sure they are actually apolitical, and not being paid off by either side.

 

 

Alexandra Erin on Blue Author Is About To Write

“Sad Puppies Review Books: GREEN EGGS AND HAM” – May 7

green-eggs-and-ham-217x300

Sadly much like 1984 this book ends with the protagonist giving in before the onslaught. He does love Big Brother. He does like green eggs and ham. He will eat them with the fox. In a perverse mockery of holy communion, he will eat them with the goat (like Pan or Baphomet, or other guises worn by Satan). This is preparing our children to have not just their food supplies controlled but also their minds and very souls.

A child indoctrinated by this book is not only trained to give in to the illegitimate application of government authority but is also primed to use these techniques to convince others. Unless your children are strong-willed and well-trained to recognize these tricks and traps I recommend keeping this book the hell away from them.

If you have raised your children right as I have done with mine then your best bet is to take a hands-on approach. I read this book to my children, taking care to explain the subtle SJW traps that were on every page. I am pleased to report that they showed no interest in it afterwards.

If You Were a Puppy, My Love 4/23

aka “Catch A Barking Star, Tell Me Where the Hugos Are” 

A combination of new voices speaking out and old hands breaking silence feature in today’s roundup. Cheryl Morgan, T. L. Knighton, Arthur Chenin, T. C. McCarthy, David Gerrold, Melinda Snodgrass, Vox Day and Chris Meadows are among those who chimed in. (And title credits go to File 770 consulting editors of the day, ULTRAGOTHA and Laura Resnick.)

Cheryl Morgan on Cheryl’s Mewsings

“Puppygate – Winners and Losers” – April 23

Has fandom lost? Well obviously if VD and his pals win a bunch of Hugos then we will have done this year. But the final ballot hasn’t happened yet. I understand that Sasquan took an additional 1350 supporting memberships in the two days after the Hugo finalists were announced. I suspect that more memberships are still being bought. Sasquan is on course to be the first Worldcon ever to have more supporting memberships than attending, and probably the third largest Worldcon ever. Some people, I know, are convinced that all of those new members are VD loyalists who will vote as he directs. Personally I’m not so sure.

It’s not just those 1350 or so new members (presumably all voters) that we need to think about either. Given the way that nominating eligibility works (members of last year, this year and next year’s Worldcon), there must have been at least 12,000 people eligible to nominate. Only 2,122 people actually did so. And in the Puppy-dominated short fiction categories the largest number of nominating ballots was 1,174.

What would have happened if all 12,000 eligible WSFS members had cast nominating ballots? Well in Novel, where there were 1,827 ballots cast, three non-Puppy works became finalists.

It is certainly true that a small number of people voting for a slate has far more influence on the nominating ballot than a larger number of people voting independently. But there is a limit. With enough people voting, even a slate becomes less effective.

So my first point is this: VD didn’t win the Hugos, we (collectively) gave them to him by failing to use our votes. Obviously there are good reasons why people don’t participate even though they have the right to do so, but if we want to fix the Puppy problem one of our main priorities ought to be to increase the level of participation in Hugo voting. I do, as you might expect, have ideas about how to do that, which I’ll address in a later post. For now, however, fannish outrage at Puppygate is doing a fine job of encouraging people to vote.

My second point, of course, is that if enough of us vote in the final ballot then he won’t win that either.

 

Kevin Standlee on Fandom Is My Way of Life

“Behold, the Gavel of WSFS” – April 23

LoneStarCon 3 agreed when I asked to fund the purchase of a new one, and a few days ago I finally got around to ordering it

Gavel of WSFS ph K Standlee

 

T. L. Knighton

“Anti-Hugo Shenanigans” – April 23

Many of the Sad Puppies crowd is well aware that things are getting ugly.  The CHORFs, as we well know, seek to do nothing but destroy their enemies with whatever tools they can manage.  One of those tools are negative reviews on Amazon.

But, the question is, how on Earth can you tell someone didn’t read the works versus just didn’t like them?  Well, let me paint you a picture.

 

Arthur Chenin on In Which I Geek

“Don’t be a sad puppy about the Sad Puppies” – April 23

Where Chris [Garcia, on Nedvana Podcast] and I disagree is in how much damage has been done.  He thinks the Hugos are irreparably damaged whereas I think they just got an embarrassing black eye.  He thinks that the Hugo administrators failed in not disallowing the Sad/Rabid Puppy slate nomination ballots.  I agree with Kevin [Standlee] that the Hugos have rules for a reason and that we need to work within those rules or else we truly are the controlling clique the Puppies claim we are.

So how do I see things playing out?

Two things are going to happen this year at Sasquan.  First, there is going to be the World Science Fiction Society business meeting chaired by Kevin Standlee that will address the issue of changing the rules to prevent slating from occurring.  I don’t know what those exact changes are going to be but like Kevin  I hope they go for something simple like instituting a 3/6 or 4/8 rule [1].  The other is that we will know who, if anybody, won any awards.  Vox Day actually did something miraculous by inflicting his slate on the short list, he managed to unite fandom a task akin to herding cats.  I fully expect No Award to win most, if not all, the slated categories.

“But wait,” I hear you cry, “Didn’t Vox Day threaten to burn down the Hugos if No Award wins any of the writing or editing categories?”  Yes, he did and I fully expect him to try.

 

Max Florschutz on Unusual Things

“Speaking on Hugos and Sad Puppies” – April 23

Goats and sheep are not latrine animals. They go wherever. And they don’t care after that. So their pens? They pooped everywhere.

I apologize for those of you who might be off-put by the discussion of so much poop. It isn’t going to get rosier from here, though.

Anyway, these little guys could poop like nobodies business. And they would fill the bottoms of their pens with it. And I’m not exaggerating there. The bottoms of their pens were packed down straw, dirt, and poop. Hard as rock, slightly smelly … and oh, after a few months, a foot or so thick. That’s right, you could walk up to the side of these pens and look at the side railings. A foot thick or more of compact manure. It didn’t bother them. It was dry and mixed with straw leftovers. And they were only in their pens a few hours a day anyway. But it had to be shoveled (well, forked with a pitchfork, since it didn’t cut easily under a shovel blade) every few months because it would get high enough that eventually they would be able to jump out of their pens.

And guess who had to do that? Yup. Me. I was a manure shoveler from the moment my parents decided I was old enough to shovel. Sometimes it went to straight to the garden. Other times it went to one giant compost pile or another. I’m talking emptying piles of poop ten by ten by two feet … and doing six of them. That’s a lot of poop….

So, what’s the point of me telling you this? Pretty simple: I’ve shoveled my fair share of crap. I’ve experienced it on a daily basis. I’ve shoveled, and shoveled and shoveled. And you know what I’ve learned about it?

There are times when it’s worth it to shovel crap, and there are times when it isn’t. And dealing with the endless, recycled crap that the anti-sad puppies crowd continues to spout? Not worth my time.

Look, I’ll admit that no one is flawless. And the Sad Puppies clearly swept the Hugos, much to their surprise. As a result, SP4 will probably be even more interesting to follow. But when it comes down to looking at one side or the other, I’m on the side of the Sad Puppies here, because I know crap, and there’s so much of it coming from the anti-sad puppies side it’s not just filling the pen, it’s burying the occupants, the producers, and their allies.

 

David Gerrold on Facebook – April 23

Tananarive Due and I have now gone through two meetings and three drafts of the proposed Hugo Award Ceremony script.

Every draft has been passed before the Hugo Award administrators, the senior officers of the Con Committee, and several others whose advice is needed. Notes have been passed back and forth. Adjustments and tweaks have been made.

But here’s the important part. Here’s the part I want to stress: From the very beginning, the commitment has been to recognize that the Hugo Award Ceremony is the highlight of the fannish calendar. It is a celebration of the genre, it is a celebration of the community, it is most of all a celebration of the nominees. The evening is for them — it is to honor them as standard bearers for excellence in the field.

 

David Gerrold on Facebook – April 23

Okay, @Karl J. Martin. Here’s the challenge. If you can raise $25,000 to be split between the SFWA Emergency Medical Fund and The Orangutan Foundation, I will host the Hugos in a large purple dress. With shoes to match.

Go for it.

 

T. C. McCarthy

“How I Spent Easter: Tweeting #HugoGate #GamerGate #Sadpuppies #Hugoawards” – April 6

The 2015 announcement of the Hugo nominees was met with so much asshattery that I broke my 4 years of silence on the issue, and tweeted/posted all my thoughts regarding the left side – the establishment side – of the SFF community. I documented the entire weekend on video so you could see the rage in my eyes, the anger in my face, and what I look like when I don’t shower. Click above on my facebook and twitter links to read about all the drama…

(Don’t be expecting another ShayCarl here is all I have to say.)

 

Melinda Snodgrass

“Puppies! – My Two Cents” – April 23

Science fiction is now a world wide source of entertainment from our movies to our TV shows.  Shouldn’t our prose also try to reflect this wonderful kaleidoscope of human diversity?  In fact prose is probably the best place to present this fascinating dance of differing outlooks and beliefs, to speak to and hear from people who aren’t just like us.

I think it deepens and enriches our genre when we have women, and people of color and the LGBT community, and different religions or no religions discussed and explored.

Over the years I’ve had people ask “what do you do?” and when I tell them I’m a writer their initial reaction is “oh cool”.  Then they ask what I write and when I say science fiction the reaction becomes “Oh, that’s kid stuff.  I don’t read science fiction.”  By broadening our field to include this rich symphony of different voices I think science fiction has graduated from being that “Buck Rogers, kid stuff” into a genre which is perfectly positioned to discuss big issues and the deepest human motivations in really interesting ways.

This isn’t to say there isn’t a place for some good old fashioned buckle and swash, but that shouldn’t be the entirety of our field.  Let’s not eat just vanilla ice cream or sing one kind of song.  Let’s explore all of the wonder that the minds of humans can imagine.  I see no evidence that the buckle and swash is being forced out in favor of a more diverse fiction.  The pie is getting bigger not smaller.  More books are being published.  More voices are being heard.  Today readers have an expansive feast to be enjoyed.

What I’m trying to say is none of us should be afraid.  It’s a small blue dot and because of advances in technology we have the ability to hug each other close and face the void united in our humanity and celebrating our differences.

 

Laura Resnick in a comment to Melinda Snodgrass – April 23

Actually, I have decided I am totally on board with 100% RELIABLE & COMPREHENSIVE PACKAGING as a standard for book covers. I think this is a great idea!

Yes! I advocate packaging of books to warn me that the female characters in a novel are all coat-holding carboard cutouts and the male characters address them as “cupcake” and “baby doll” and “cutie.” Packaging that would warn me that the writing is so convoluted and pretentious, or so clumsy and tepid, one can only wonder at what the English language ever did to make the author hate it so much. Packaging that would alert me that the characters are all stereotypically tedious action heroes who shoot everything in sight and make “clever” puns after killing someone. Packaging could warn me that every black character in the book is a servant, every Hispanic person a criminal, every woman a sex object, and every atheist an Evil Marxist Villain.

This would be a GREAT system, and I fully support it!

 

 Vox Day on Vox Populi

“A Thing to Remember” – April 23

In any event, I stand with the Dread Ilk. I stand with the Rabid Puppies. I stand with the Evil Legion of Evil. And I stand with #GamerGate. We don’t reject anyone out of hand for simply existing or disagreeing with us. We don’t demand that people think exactly the way we do, we don’t expect them to march in lockstep with us, nor do we police their thoughts, speech, beliefs, or works. And we don’t need anyone. If you don’t like where things are going or how they are being done, you’re free to leave at anytime.

I supported the Sad Puppies goals, even though I believed that their failure to grasp the true nature of science fiction’s SJWs meant their well-intentioned attempts to reach out to the science fiction left and find common ground were likely to meet with eventual failure. But I have been wrong before, and so I saw no harm in the attempt. I did not use them. I did not need them. I

won’t abandon the Sad Puppies. I will support Sad Puppies 4 and Kate the Impaler. I won’t disavow them when I disagree with them in the future, just as I did not when I disagreed with them in the past.

Evil-Legion-of-Evil_Vile-Faceless-Minion_512x512 from Vox Popoli

Chris Meadows on Teleread

“Why the Hugos are broken, and who’s breaking them now”  – April 23

The Internet Breaks the Hugos

Whether you’re for the Puppies or against them, there can’t be any argument that the Hugo nomination and voting process is badly broken. The interesting thing is that the process hasn’t changed appreciably for years or even decades. It didn’t just break on its own. No, the same thing happened to it that happened to so many other processes and industries that had long been taken for granted. The Internet happened…..

So, here we have the Hugo Awards, adapting their voting process to the Internet by making it possible for associate members to enter ballots by web instead of just mailing them in as before, without taking into account that the Internet makes it possible to organize concerted campaigns by letting people post communications to everyone else on the Internet. Something like this was inevitable. Perhaps the only thing to be surprised about is that it didn’t happen sooner. (And, given that this is the third year in a row there has been Puppy activity, and it takes two years to implement Hugo rule changes, perhaps the Worldcon folks should have started considering this problem a little earlier, before it became the full-blown crisis that it is this year.)

And this could be only the beginning. When I was chatting with SF and romance novelist Mercedes Lackey the other day, she made this prediction:

I cannot WAIT until someone lets the Romance Writers know about this, and how to get a book on the Hugo ballot.

Romance readers outnumber SF readers by about 100 to one, and a very high percentage of them would be gleeful to only pay $40 to get one of their beloved writers an award.

Romance writers are extremely savvy women about energizing their fan bases. They were using social media for that long before SF writers started.

I want to see their faces when Diane Gabaldon takes the Hugo in 2016.

 

 

 

SF&F Translation Awards Ended

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Translation Awards series has come to an end. Cheryl Morgan, a director of the Association for the Recognition of Excellence in SF & F Translation (ARESFFT) which administered the award, announced October 29 the organization is being dissolved.

There are many reasons for this, but mostly they are to do with the time and effort required to run the awards on an amateur basis. It has become increasingly difficult to find people willing to act as jurors. Several of the existing Directors have had major changes in their lives that have left them with far less free time than they had previously. And all attempts to find new Directors have failed to produce any volunteers.

The members of the Board of Directors were Gary K. Wolfe, President, Kevin Standlee, Secretary-Treasurer, Melissa Conway, Rob Latham, Cheryl Morgan and Nalo Hopkinson.

The SF&F Translation Awards were given from 2011-2013.

Comics Unmasked at British Library

The British Library’s exhibition Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the UK runs through August 19. (Parental guidance required for visitors under 16 years.)

Comics Unmasked is the UK’s largest ever exhibition of mainstream and underground comics, showcasing works that uncompromisingly address politics, gender, violence, sexuality and altered states. It explores the full anarchic range of the medium with works that challenge categorisation, preconceptions and the status quo, alongside original scripts, preparatory sketches and final artwork that demystify the creative process.

Neil Gaiman (Sandman), Alan Moore (Watchmen, V for Vendetta), Grant Morrison (Batman: Arkham Asylum) and Posy Simmonds (Tamara Drewe) are some of the stars of an exhibit that stretches back in time to encompass 19th-century illustrated reports of Jack the Ripper, and medieval manuscripts.

Cheryl Morgan and James Bacon have toured the exhibit and written up their impressions.

comics-unmaked-british-library-01-628x840 COMPRESSMorgan looked for the message in the physical display as well as the literary themes in “The British Library Does #ComicsUnmasked” —

Finally, as we have got onto gender issues, I note in passing that the exhibition space is littered with mannequins dressed as political protesters and wearing V for Vendetta masks. What Alan Moore thinks of that, I shudder to think. On close examination it is obvious that many of the mannequins are female. However, they are small-breasted (especially in comparison with comic-book women) and are all wearing androgynous outfits comprising jeans, t-shirts and hoodies, plus the undeniably male Guy Fawkes masks, and that makes it look like all of the figures are male. I found that rather off-putting.

Morgan also notes there is “a remarkable suffragette poster that I suspect will horrify most modern social justice campaigners.”

Forbidden Planet hosts James Bacon’s text and many photos — “James Reports From the British Library’s Superb Comics Unmasked” includes a photo of that dread poster, by the way. And offers these insights into what the curators are trying to achieve:

Along with Paul Gravett are co-curator John Harris Dunning, Adrian Edwards and Roger Walshe of the British Library. Walshe repeatedly says that he is not apologising for what is on display; this is a strong exhibition that some might find alarming, controversial, but the message here is that comics are not just for kids, and the exhibition is about the message of the media of comics, not any particular genre. Yes, comics are fun, they are a pastime, they are beautiful, they are fantasy, they are powerful, they are a true form of literature, imparting dangerous thoughts and ideas, asking questions of the reader, forcing reflection and consideration, or making laughter.

He Cast In A Line And Pulled Out — A Kraken!

If you want links to posts about resigned Hugo Ceremony MC Jonathan Ross and how his story played out online, Google will give you a list that goes on for pages. The very thought of anyone doing that search reminded me of Howard Waldrop’s headlined quote.

But File 770 having taken on the story, I owe you a few examples of the reaction and the backlash that have followed.

Apologies are always the most unexpected events on the internet. Two have been noteworthy.

John Picacio thought in light of the personal invective tweeted at Jonathan Ross, his daughter and his wife (who has since pulled the plug on her Twitter account) the science fiction field owed them an apology, so he stepped up to offer it:

This note is for you, Mr. Ross, your wife, daughters, and family members that have been hurt by recent events involving the Hugo Awards Emcee reaction….

Because I am a working professional within the sf/f publishing field and an artist who has been fortunate enough to win two Hugos, I am a part of the sf/f community by default, whether I chose to speak out or not, and I regret that I didn’t on Saturday. Thus, just by professional association, I DO have something to do with this community when some of its very vocal professionals make emotionally-loaded and potentially hurtful statements that end up reflecting on our entire community.

Watching fellow professionals attack Mr. Ross on Twitter was disappointing, to say the least. They said that Mr. Ross’ performance behaviors were justification for saying that he wasn’t welcome because those behaviors made some of them feel uncomfortable.

Their comfort levels are their prerogative, as are mine. I have the right to not needlessly demonize or vilify a complete stranger, and assume the worst of that individual. I have the right to not be afraid to speak out and instead ask, “Is it really necessary to allow fear to rule the day and indict someone for behavior toward this event that hasn’t even happened yet?”

Even Seanan McGuire apologized to the daughter for some of what she said —

@HoneyKinny I am genuinely sorry to have caused you pain. I will consider my platform for speaking better the next time I have concerns.

Disgusted by what passed on Twitter, some now seem intent on romanticizing the victimhood of Jonathan Ross, although Ross himself poured gasoline on the fire (tweeting to one critic “absurd. I’ll happily buy the ticket off you and give it someone less stupid.”)

Jo Fletcher, appealing to the better angels of our nature, idealized both Ross and the SF/F community.

What we got was a sudden outpouring of hateful and bullying messages, and not just to the convention committee, but to Jonathan Ross himself: the avowed and passionate SF fan who offered his time and services free of charge to host an awards ceremony for the field he loves.

And now the SFF community is making front pages, and not for the right reasons, for the amazing literature or the outstanding artwork science writers and artists working within the genre are producing, but for the vindictive trolling reaction to something a number of those within the community don’t approve of. Watching the fall-out on Sunday and this morning, I felt ashamed for the community in which I have grown up. I hoped we were better than this.

Two friends sent me the link to Hayley Campbell’s New Statesman piece, “Jonathan Ross and the Hugo awards: why was he forced out by science fiction’s self-appointed gatekeepers?” A sentence in Hayley’s lead paragraph began, “The Hugo award is a vaguely dildo-shaped silver rocketship…” So really I was already finished with her post at that point.

Fortunately she also tweeted this Reader’s Digest condensed version

I wrote about the Hugo awards and twitter being a bunch of dicks.

Yes, that about sums it up. Still, I was convinced my friends must have had a good reason for recommending the article and I persisted to the end. The best parts paraphrase Cheryl Morgan’s post on the subject. Nothing wrong with that. But if you choose you can go direct to the source.

Many commenters have complimented Morgan’s post “Ross, the Hugos and the Oscars” for its balanced approach:

So to my mind Ross is a pretty good candidate for a Hugo ceremony host. He’s a genuine fan with a lot of respect for the awards. He’s also got a huge media profile and would have got us lots of press coverage. He has, on the one occasion I know of, engaged respectfully with a minority group that was upset with one of his shows. And hosting award ceremonies is something he has done professionally.

I understand that he had agreed to do the job without pay, which I think says a lot about how he felt about the Hugos.

However, one of the things about intersectionality is that you need to take note of what other people think. Just because you have no problem with someone, it doesn’t mean that everyone else does. You have to listen to what others say, and respect their points of view. So while I would have been happy with Ross as the host, I have to take into account that many other people object very strongly to him because of things he has said or done in the past.

And there’s gold in the comments. Martin Easterbrook, co-chair of the 1995 Glasgow Worldcon, was unexpectedly critical of both the Loncon 3 chairs and the in-house opponents to Ross’ selection:

Firstly I need to point out that in the run up to the Worldcon the committee cannot put their side of the story. Anything they say will contribute to further ill feeling and they are quite correctly staying silent.

I think we have to be clear how we got here. We got here because people on both sides felt that some belief of theirs was more important than fandom. When the problem came to a head they felt it was more important to win than to find a way of resolving the situation for the benefit of fandom as a whole. I don’t think this was entirely conscious but derives from not having had enough contact with people who think differently.

I’ve been one of these people on occasion but perhaps now we are staring into the abyss we should all reconsider.

The one piece of the history that I will quote is that both sides agree there was a critical conversation. Both sides describe it as “X would not listen to any of my arguments”.

As far as I can tell neither side ever once thought of offering the other some kind of compromise or acknowledged that the other had reasonable grounds for their opinion.

The result of all this is a badly broken toy between two sets of squabbling children….

Civics Lesson

Cheryl Morgan begins her post titled “On Fan Categories”

Having listened to the latest Galactic Suburbia podcast, I feel the need to point out that the fan categories in the Hugos are not, and never have been, defined by content. You do not have to write about fandom, or write in a “fannish” way (whatever that means). All that is required is that you do what you do out of the goodness of your heart, and for the good of the community (at least as you see it) rather than being paid to do it.

In respect to the Best Fan Writer Hugo, Cheryl’s first two sentences are spot on. The third expresses a lovely sentiment about amateurism, a requirement stripped from the Hugo rules many years ago. I was surprised to see Cheryl, in particular, making this misstatement.

Eligibility for the Best Fan Writer Hugo is defined in the WSFS Constitution:

3.3.15: Best Fan Writer. Any person whose writing has appeared in semiprozines or fanzines or in generally available electronic media during the previous calendar year.

Those same rules say a “fanzine” is a publication that does not pay its contributors other than in copies. In contrast, a “semiprozine” does pay other than in copies. Pays in money, generally.

And writers who have appeared in either type of publication during the previous calendar year are eligible to be nominated for Best Fan Writer.

I assume it’s simply a mistake, though one that struck me as odd given Cheryl’s history as a champion of the semiprozine category. When Ben Yalow and Chris Barkley tried to abolish the category in 2009, Cheryl did as much as anyone to preserve its existence.

The balance of her remarks are familiar axe-grinding, though with a more grandiose strategy:

I should add that one of the reasons I feel so strongly about this because when I started out people tried to bar me from the fan categories on the grounds that my work was “not fannish”. You may find this hard to believe, but back in the 20th Century many people thought that book reviews were an inappropriate subject for fan writing.

Some of the same people having hurt my feelings now and again, I could supply a list of the names she probably has in mind.

However, having begun with an exposition about the fan Hugo rules, Cheryl here invites the uneducated reader to mistakenly draw a line between that discussion and the allegation that people “tried to bar [her] from the fan categories.” Someone needs to say that is an unjustified connection. For somebody to say they don’t like Cheryl’s writing is one thing. (By the way, I ordinarily find her writing very interesting, whether or not I agree.) However, getting “barred” would involve an abuse of the rules or the interference of a Hugo Administrator for which no evidence has been provided.