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.

LSC3 Apologizes for Hugo Broadcast

LoneStarCon 3 says its own upload stream caused the freezes and blackouts that marred last night’s broadcast of the Hugo Awards Ceremony. Ustream is not to blame.

LSC3 has posted this notice online —

LoneStarCon 3 apologizes for the interruptions to the live broadcast of the 2013 Hugo Awards Ceremony. These problems were caused by issues with the upload stream from the Convention to Ustream. LoneStarCon 3 wishes to make it clear that these technical difficulties were in no way due to Ustream, who have provided excellent support throughout this year’s event.

This is a sensitive subject because last year Ustream’s automated copyright violation monitors killed the broadcast midway through. Ustream did much to make amends to Chicon 7, and whitelisted LSC3’s event this year.

I kept one eye on the broadcast, which had over 700 viewers most of the time, and another eye on CoverItLive, where Mur Lafferty, Cheryl Morgan and Kevin Standlee were texting about the ceremony. It was a bonus when Lafferty had to step away to accept the Campbell Award. Standlee says CoverItLive peaked at 822 viewers.

Flying Finnish

Cheryl Morgan is on her way to Å-con 6 at the Hotel Adlon, Mariehamn, Åland, Finland, which will be happening May 9-12.

Cheryl is taking advantage of her routing through Helsinski to scout the city’s proposed Worldcon facilities, a timely opportunity with 2015 Worldcon Site Selection voting just opened:

[While] I am here I intend to make use of my time looking for things that prospective Worldcon attendees might be interested in. After all, there may be some of you who haven’t yet made up your minds to vote for Helsinki in 2015. If there are any specific questions that people have, please ask them in comments below. I’ll be visiting the convention site on Monday when we have got back from Åcon so I’ll have time to look around, shoot some video, and ask questions.

This reminded me of Jane’s Fighting Smofs and the visits Scott & Jane Dennis made to potential Worldcon sites years ago.

In case you’re wondering, Mariehamn is 325 km away from Helsinki by road on Finland’s west coast. Here’s what this charming minicon has to say about itself —

Å-con-what?
– all of the programming in English
– a small, fannish, literary, cross-cultural relaxacon
– membership cap at about 100 members
– a gathering of fans mainly from Finland and Sweden
– the most fun you can have in a DMZ (at least until Wårldcon)
– Åcon is pronounced awe-con, (it really is that åsome!)

Further Pixel Clippings
About The Hugo Awards

Rose Fox at Genreville emphasizes gender head-counting in her list of highlights:

Firsts: Michelle “Vixy” Dockrey points out that Seanan McGuire is the first woman to ever appear on the Hugo ballot four times in one year (twice under her own name, twice as Mira Grant). I’m pretty sure this is the first time a Hugo acceptance speech has been nominated for a Hugo award. It may also be the first time an April Fool’s joke has been nominated. Kevin Sonney says Ursula Vernon is the first woman to get a solo nomination for Best Graphic Story. And if this isn’t the first time the novella ballot has had five women on it I will be very surprised. For that matter, is this the first time any Hugo category finalist slate has contained no white men?

James Nicoll begins his comment about the Best Fan Writer nominees in ”Again with the Hugos”

I would just like to say even I was shocked at how quickly my sense of entitlement set in and I am me so am pretty familiar with how I think.

You and me both! I’m embarrassed to admit I feel like Captain Hook’s crocodile, expecting the next bite to be right around the corner.

Cheryl Morgan confesses in “Nominee Time” how hard it supposedly was to keep from following the example of Christopher Priest:

As I noted on Twitter, not one of my nominees made it to the Best Novel short list. NOT ONE! I am totally outraged and will now go off and get very drunk, after which I will write a lengthy rant about how the Hugo Jury has failed in its duty and should be taken out and shot. But, being mildly sensible, even when drunk, I won’t post it.

Cheryl can also show you on a map where the center of the world is so far as the Hugo Awards are concerned –

My friends at BASFA have done very well. Chris Garcia is all over the ballot, but congratulations are also due to Spring Schoenhuth and Maurine Starkey who get their first and second ever nominations respectively in Fan Artist.

Finally, Cheryl’s ”Further Hugo Thoughts” reveals this news story –

There was apparently an error in the embargoed press release sent out by Chicon 7 that led to Brad Foster being left off the Fan Artist nominees in many announcements. This was another of those “tie for 5th place” issues, and somehow one of the six nominees got dropped.

One more reason to be happy I don’t get a copy of the embargoed press release.  Kevin Standlee supplied the first reason, telling readers of his LiveJournal how he received a copy to use in his work on The Hugo Awards official website and Kevin become so nervous about honoring the deadline that he made all his preparations on a computer that was disconnected from the web.

And I gave myself a panic attack anyway. When the press release popped into my in-box on Saturday I posted it as quick as I could. Then I drove off to do an errand. In the car I suddenly wondered – that wasn’t an embargoed copy, was it? I pulled over and used my Kindle to check. Whew! It was marked “For Immediate Release.”

Does Conreporter.com Have a Future?

Although Cheryl Morgan and Kevin Standlee’s Convention Reporter site has provided ambitious coverage of several conventions since its 2009 launch, there have been no new reports on anything since Aussiecon 4. Acknowledging that no volunteers came forward to cover Easter weekend cons, they’re now thinking of shuttering the site.

Cheryl Morgan analyzed why the project wasn’t more successful on her personal blog. She asked anyone interested in the site or the domain name to contact her, otherwise it will be going away.

[Thanks to The Crotchety Old Fan for the story.]