Pixel Scroll 2/4/16 “Who Nominated J.R.?”

John Hodgman

John Hodgman

(1) HODGMAN TO PRESENT NEBULAS. SFWA has picked comedian John Hodgman to emcee the 50th Annual Nebula Awards in Chicago at the SFWA Nebula Conference on May 14.

John Hodgman is the longtime Resident Expert on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and the host of the popular Judge John Hodgman Podcast. He has also appeared on Conan, The Late Late Show, @midnight, and This American Life. The Village Voice named his show Ragnarok one of the top ten stand up specials of 2013. In 2015, he toured his new show Vacationland. He has performed comedy for the President of the United States and George R.R. Martin, and discussed love and alien abduction at the TED conference.

In addition to the Nebula Awards, SFWA will present the Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation, the Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult Science Fiction or Fantasy Book, the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award, the Kevin O’Donnell, Jr. Service to SFWA Award, and the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award.

(2) BYE BYE BABBAGE. Chris Garcia is mourning the withdrawal of the Babbage machine from exhibit from the Computer History Museum.

Babbage Difference Engine No 2

Babbage Difference Engine No 2

After eight years at the Computer History Museum (CHM), the Babbage Difference Engine No. 2 is bidding farewell and returning to its owner.

The Difference Engine No. 2 has had a wonderful home at the Museum. Our Babbage demonstrations have amazed more than 500,000 visitors, providing them with the unprecedented opportunity to see and hear the mechanical engine working—a stunning display of Victorian mechanics.

People will have to content themselves with CHM’s online Babbage exhibit.

Dave Doering said:

I figure they knew the price would one day come due for the chance to host it there for eight years. I mean, everyone today knows about “excess Babbage fees.”

(3) ASTEROID BELT AND SUSPENDERS. The government of Luxembourg announced it will be investing in the as-yet-unrealized industry of asteroid mining in “Luxembourg Hopes To Rocket To Front of Asteroid-Mining Space Race”. An NPR article says there are both technical and legal hurdles to overcome.

First, of course, there are technical challenges involved in finding promising targets, sending unmanned spacecraft to mine them and returning those resources safely to Earth.

Humans have yet to successfully collect even a proof-of-concept asteroid sample. …

The second issue is a legal one. Asteroids are governed by the Outer Space Treaty, nearly 50 years old now, which says space and space objects don’t belong to any individual nation. What that means for mining activities has never been tested in international courts because, well, nobody’s managed to mine an asteroid yet.

But there’s a fair amount of uncertainty, as Joanne Gabrynowicz, a director at the International Institute of Space Law, told NPR’s Here & Now last February.

“Anybody who wants to go to an asteroid now and extract a resource is facing a large legal open question,” she said.

The U.S. passed a law near the end of last year, the Space Act of 2015, which says American companies are permitted to harvest resources from outer space. The law asserts that extracting minerals from an extraterrestrial object isn’t a declaration of sovereignty. But it’s not clear what happens if another country passes a contradictory law, or if treaties are arranged that cover extraction of minerals from space.

Luxembourg hopes to address this issue, too, with a formal legal framework of its own — possibly constructed with international input — to ensure that those who harvest minerals can be confident that they’ll own what they bring home.

(4) WRITERS WHO THINK UP STUFF. Steven H Silver points out, “Of the authors listed in 8 Things Invented By Famous Writers at Mental Floss, Heinlein, Wolfe, Clarke, Atwood, Carroll, Dahl, and arguably Twain are SF authors.”

  1. THE PRINGLES CHIP MACHINE // GENE WOLFE

Prior to beginning his contributions to the science fiction genre with The Fifth Head of Cerberus in 1972, Wolfe was a mechanical engineering major who accepted a job with Procter & Gamble. During his employment, Wolfe devised a way for the unique, shingle-shaped Pringles chips to be fried and then dumped into their cylindrical packaging. (Despite his resemblance to Mr. Pringle, there is no evidence the chip mascot was based on him.)

(5) POLAR BOREALIS PREMIERES. The first issue of R. Graeme Cameron’s semipro fiction magazine Polar Borealis has been posted. Get a free copy here. Cameron explains how the magazine works:

Polar Borealis is aimed at beginning Canadian writers eager to make their first sale, with some pros to provide role models.

In Issue #1:

  • Art by Jean-Pierre Normand, Lynne Taylor Fahnestalk, and Taral Wayne.
  • Poems by Rissa Johnson, Eileen Kernaghan, and Rhea Rose.
  • Stories by Christel Bodenbender, R. Graeme Cameron, Steve Fahnestalk, Karl Johanson, Rissa Johnson, Kelly Ng, Craig Russell, Robert J. Sawyer, T.G. Shepherd, Casey June Wolf, and Flora Jo Zenthoefer.

(6) A RATHER LARGE SCIENCE FAIR. The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair, to be held March 16-19 in Birmingham, “is the largest celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) for young people in the UK.”

Held at the NEC, Birmingham 16-19 March 2016, The Big Bang Fair is an award-winning combination of exciting theatre shows, interactive workshops and exhibits, as well careers information from STEM professionals.

We aim to show young people (primarily aged 7-19) the exciting and rewarding opportunities out there for them with the right experience and qualifications, by bringing classroom learning to life.

Having grown from 6,500 visitors in its first year (2009) to nearly 70,000 in 2015, The Big Bang Fair is made possible thanks to the collaborative efforts of over 200 organisations

(7) JUST NEEDS A LITTLE SMACK. Michael Swanwick, in the gracious way people do on the internet, expressed his bad opinion of the movie I, Robot (2004) in these terms:

Just watched I, ROBOT. I want to punch everybody involved in the face. Very, very hard. Dr. Asimov would approve.

[Okay, to spare people’s feelings, I want to punch THOSE RESPONSIBLE in the face. Still hated the movie.]

This ticked off Jeff Vintar, who wrote the original spec script and shared credit for the screenplay. Vintar posted a 1,200 word comment telling how his original script got turned into an “adaptation” and how these links of Hollywood sausage got made.

Having been one of the film’s biggest critics, I have watched over the years — to my surprise — as many people find quite a bit of Asimov still in it. I’m always glad when I read a critical analysis on-line or a university paper that makes the case that it is more Asimov than its reputation would suggest, or when I get contacted by a real roboticist who tells me they were inspired by the movie and went on to a career in robotics. And then of course there are the kids, who love it to death…

But I never go around defending the film or talking about it, because although I still believe my original script would have made a phenomenal ‘I, Robot’ film, there is no point. That any film gets made at all seems at times like a miracle.

But your stupid, yes stupid, ‘punch in the face’ post compelled me to write. I love Asimov as much as you do, probably more, because of all the time I spent living and breathing it. I also wrote an adaptation of Foundation that I spent years and years fighting for.

So, you want to punch me in the face? My friend, I would have already knocked you senseless before you cocked back your arm. I have been in this fight for more than twenty years. You’re a babe in the woods when it comes to knowing anything about Hollywood compared to me, and what it’s like fighting for a project you love for ten years, some for twenty years and counting.

Yet this exchange did not end the way most of these Facebook contretemps do.

Michael Swanwick answered:

I feel bad for you. That must have been an awful experience. But I spoke as a typical viewer, not as a writer. The movie was like the parson’s egg — parts of it were excellent, but the whole thing was plopped down on the plate. For my own part, I’d love to have the Hollywood money, but have no desire at all to write screenplays. I’ve heard stories like yours before.

Then Vintar wrote another long reply, which said in part:

Other writers are not our enemies. We are not fighting each other, not competing with each other, although that is a powerful illusion. As always the only enemy is weakness within ourselves, and I suppose entropy, the laws of chance, and groupthink. Ha, there are others! But I stopped throwing punches a long time ago. (Believe me, I used to.) You guys are great, thanks Michael….

And the love fest began.

(8) OGDEN OBIT. Jon P. Ogden (1944-2016), devoted Heinlein fan and member of the Heinlein Society, died January 27, Craig Davis and David Lubkin reported on Facebook. [Via SF Site News.]

(9) ALASKEY OBIT. Voice actor Joe Alaskey, who took over performing Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck after actor Mel Blanc died in 1989, himself passed away February 3. CNN reports the 63-year-old actor had been battling cancer.

Mark Evanier’s tribute to Alaskey on News From Me also tells about one of his vocal triumphs outside the realm of animation —

When [Jackie] Gleason’s voice needed to be replicated to fix the audio on the “lost” Honeymooners episodes, Joe was the man.

A few years after that, Joe was called upon to redub an old Honeymooners clip for a TV commercial. When he got the call, Joe assured the ad agency that if they needed him, he could also match the voice of Art Carney as Ed Norton. He was told they already had someone to do that — someone who did it better. Joe was miffed until he arrived at the recording session and discovered that the actor they felt could do a better job as Art Carney…was Art Carney. Joe later said that playing Kramden to Carney’s Norton was the greatest thrill of his life, especially after Carney asked him for some pointers on how to sound more like Ed.

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

cranky-snickers_0

  • February 4, 1930 – The Snickers bar hits the market.
  • February 4, 1938 — Disney releases Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. (Did Disney miss a product placement opportunity by naming a dwarf Grumpy instead of Cranky?)

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY CLUB

  • February 4, 1976 – Sfera, the oldest SF society in former Yugoslavia, was founded.

[Via Google Translate] On this day in 1976, a group of young (and less young) enthusiasts launched as part of the astronautical and rocket club Zagreb “Section for science fiction”…

(12) TODAY’S BITHDAY BOY

(13) WEIRD AL CAST. “Weird Al” Yankovic will voice the title character in Milo Murphy’s Law, Disney XD’s animated comedy series, reports Variety.

The satirical songwriter will provide the voice of the titular character Milo Murphy, the optimistic distant grandson of the famed Murphy’s Law namesake. In addition to voicing the main character, Yankovic will sing the show’s opening theme song and perform other songs throughout the duration of the series….

“Milo Murphy’s Law” will follow the adventures of Milo and his best friends Melissa and Zack as they attempt to embrace life’s catastrophes with positive attitudes and enthusiasm.

(14) RABID PUPPIES. Vox Day posted four picks for the Best Fancast category today.

(15) SAD PUPPIES. Damien G. Walter japed:

(16) PUPPY COMPARISON. Doris V. Sutherland posted “2014 Hugos Versus 2015 Sad Puppies: Novellas”, the third installment, the purpose of which she explains in the introduction —

In this series on the Sad Puppies controversy, I have been comparing the works picked for the 2015 Sad and Rabid Puppies slates with the stories that were nominated for the Hugo in 2014. Were the previous nominees truly overwhelmed with preachy “message fiction”? What kinds of stories had the Sad Puppies chosen to promote in response?

Having taken a look at the Best Short Story and Best Novelette categories, I shall now cover the Hugo Awards’ final short fiction category: Best Novella, the section for stories of between 17,500 and 40,000 words in length. Let us see how the two sets of stories compare…

At the end of her interesting commentary, she concludes:

…Let us take a look through some of the previously-discussed categories. Aside from Vox Day’s story, only one of the 2014 Best Novelette nominees can be read as “message fiction”: Aliette de Bodard’s “The Waiting Stars,” which has an anti-colonial theme. I have also heard the accusation of propaganda directed at John Chu’s “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere”, a story about a gay couple. But once again, I see nothing clumsy or poorly-handled about de Bodard’s exploration of colonialism or Chu’s portrayal of a same-sex couple. So far, the accusation of preachiness appears to be based largely Rachel Swirsky’s “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love”, which has the straightforward message that hate begets hate.

None of these stories push a specific message as strongly or as directly as John C. Wright’s One Bright Star to Guide Them. This raises an obvious question: exactly which group is rewarding message fiction here…?

[Thanks to Gary Farber, JJ, David K.M. Klaus, Brian Z., Steven H Silver, Jumana Aumir, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Dave Doering for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

Pixel Scroll 1/3 The Man from P.I.X.E.L.

coverWARP932 Keith Braithwaite

(1) BRAITHWAITE RESTORES CLASSIC ARTWORK. Gracing the cover of Warp #93, the Montreal Science Fiction and Fantasy Association clubzine, is this superlative painting —

The Doctor and his Companion, by Claude Monet (oil on canvas, 1875), a painting dating from a most fertile phase of the renowned French Impressionist’s career, was recently discovered in the attic of a house in Argenteuil in which Monet lived in the 1870s. Little is known of the subjects depicted as the artist left no notes as to their identity or relationship to him. No particulars on the gentleman or lady are to be found, either, in the local historical records of the time and the odd structure beside which the gentleman is standing remains a puzzle. Civic records offer no indication that such a structure ever existed, as if this curious blue box simply appeared out of thin air, and then disappeared just as mysteriously. The title of the work gives us our only clue as to the two subjects, suggesting that the gentleman was, perhaps, a medical doctor travelling with a female relative, Fiancée, or mistress. MonSFFA’s own Keith Braithwaite worked on the restoration of the painting.

(2) BLUE PEOPLE BEWARE. Yahoo! Movies reports “’The Force Awakens’ Barreling Toward ‘Avatar’Record”.

The space opera sequel is moving up the all-time domestic box office charts at a record clip and now is poised to overtake those pointy eared blue aliens as the top grossing film in history. Avatar earned $760.5 million during its stateside run and Star Wars: The Force Awakens has generated $740.4 million domestically after picking up $88.3 million over New Year’s weekend. It should take the crown from Avatar early next week.

(3) AXANAR DECONSTRUCTED. (There’s that word again. I hope I know what it means…) John Seavey at Mightygodking has created a FAQ about the Paramount/CBS lawsuit against Axanar Productions:

Q: Then why are they being sued? Paramount allows lots of these things, don’t they?

A: Oh, yeah. “Star Trek Renegades”, “Star Trek: Of Gods and Men”, “Star Trek Continues”…basically, it seems like as long as nobody’s making any money, Paramount turns a blind eye to these fan films.

Q: But this one they wouldn’t? Why?

A: Well, there is the fact that, in an update on Axanar’s Indigogo campaign, they said, “EVERYTHING costs more when you are a professional production and not a fan film. All of this and more is explained, along with our budget of how we spent the money in the Axanar Annual Report.”

And in that latest annual budget report, they said, “First and foremost, it is important to remember that what started out as a glorified fan film is now a fully professional production. That means we do things like a studio would. And of course, that means things cost more. We don’t cut corners. We don’t ask people to work full time for no pay. And the results speak for themselves.”

And:

“Please note that we are a professional production and thus RUN like a professional production. That means our full time employees get paid. Not much honestly, but everyone has bills to pay and if you work full time for Axanar, you get paid.

Also, no other fan film has production insurance like we do. We pay $ 12,000 a year for that. Again, a professional production.”

Also, in their Indiegogo FAQ, they had this little gem:

“Q: What is Axanar Productions?

Axanar is not just an independent Star Trek film; it is the beginning of a whole new way that fans can get the content they want, by funding it themselves. Why dump hundreds or thousands of dollars a year on 400 cable channels, when what you really want is a few good sci-fi shows? Hollywood is changing. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and other providers are redefining content delivery, and Axanar Productions/Ares Studios hopes to be part of that movement.”

Which kind of contradicts the “fan film” statement.

(4) WILL SMITH’S CHARACTER IS LATE. John King Tarpinian imagines the conversation went like this: “You want how much?  Sorry but your character just died.” In a Yahoo! News interview,  “Will Smith Says It Was Terrible When He Found Out His Independence Day Character Died”.

Will Smith found it unpleasant to learn that the fat lady had sung on Steven Hiller, the character he played in 1996’s Independence Day. “It was terrible when I found out my character died,” Smith told Yahoo.

Hiller’s death was revealed on a viral site for Independence Day: Resurgence. “While test piloting the ESD’s first alien hybrid fighter, an unknown malfunction causes the untimely death of Col. Hiller,” the site’s timeline reads. “Hiller’s valor in the War of ’96 made him a beloved global icon whose selfless assault against the alien mothership lead directly to the enemy’s defeat. He is survived by his wife Jasmine and his son Dylan.” You can see an image of Hiller’s fiery death by clicking here.

(5) ALL KNIGHT. Admiring Fred Kiesche’s Damon Knight quote in a comment here, Damien G. Walter tweeted —

(6) HE FIGURES. Camestros Felapton forays into toy design with his new “Hugo” brand “Stage Your Own Kerfuffle”  figures….

(7) JEFFRO MOVES UP. Vox Day is delegating management of the Castalia House blog to “The new sheriff in town”, Jeffro Johnson:

As Castalia House has grown, it has become increasingly difficult to balance my responsibilities as Lead Editor and as the manager of this blog. Because Castalia House shoots for excellence across the board, I have decided that it is time to step back and hand over my responsibilities for this blog to someone else.

And who is better suited to take it over than one of the very best bloggers in science fiction and gaming? I am absolutely delighted to announce that the Castalia House blogger, author of the epic Chapter N series, and 2015 Hugo nominee for Best Fan Writer, Jeffro Johnson, has agreed to accept the position of Blog Editor at Castalia House.

(8) ARISTOTLE. That leaves Vox Day more time to orchestrate his winter offensive. His first target is File 770 commenter Lis Carey.

Even I occasionally forget how fragile these psychologically decrepit specimens are. Anyhow, it’s a good reminder to ALWAYS USE RHETORIC on them. They’re vulnerable to it; they can’t take it. That’s why they resort to it even when it doesn’t make sense in the context of a discussion, because they are trying to make you feel the emotional pain that they feel whenever they are criticized.

Day is developing a Goodreads author page, and Carey mentioned yesterday she had already seen early signs of activity:

Ah, this may explain a recent comment on one of my reviews of last year’s Hugo nominees–and means maybe I can expect more.

The particular comments were on her review of Castalia House’s Riding The Red Horse.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 3, 1841 — Herman Melville ships out on the whaler Acushnet to the South Seas.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born January 3, 1892 – J.R.R. Tolkien, honored by Emily Asher-Perrin at Tor.com:

But of course, the world remembers Tolkien for changing the fantasy genre forever. By penning The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien set a framework for fantasy literature that countless authors have attempted to recapture over the years. The creation of Middle-earth, from its languages to its poetry to its rich cultural history and varied peoples, was an astounding feat of imagination that no one had managed before with such detail and ardent care.

(11) SEMIPROZINES. Camestros Felapton continues moving through the alphabet in his “Semiprozine Round-Up: Cs and Ds”.

Keeping on going in the Cs and Ds of semiprozines.

  • The Cascadia Subduction Zone
  • The Colored Lens
  • Crossed Genres Magazine
  • Daily Science Fiction
  • The Dark Magazine
  • Diabolical Plots

(12) PARTS NOT TAKEN. “Leonardo DiCaprio Reflects On Turning Down Anakin Skywalker And Two SuperHero Roles” at ScienceFiction.com:

And it’s a philosophy that has led to him turning down parts in some guaranteed smashes and lots of cha-ching.  He recently revealed that he actually met with George Lucas, but ultimately passed on playing Anakin Skywalker in the ‘Star Wars’ prequels.

“I did have a meeting with George Lucas about that, yes.  I just didn’t feel ready to take that dive. At that point.”

Around this time, DiCaprio instead chose to make ‘Gangs of New York’ and ‘Catch Me If You Can’, the latter of which earned him a Golden Globe nomination.

Still he must be kicking himself.  The role instead went to Hayden Christiansen and look at how his career took… oh, ahem.  Nevermind.

(13) REMEMBERING BAEN. While researching another post, I rediscovered David Drake’s 2006 tribute to the late Jim Baen, who had just recently passed. Shortly before Baen’s death the two were on the phone and Baen asked, “You seem to like me. Why?” The answer is rather touching.

And then I thought further and said that when I was sure my career was tanking–

You thought that? When was that?”

In the mid ’90s, I explained, when Military SF was going down the tubes with the downsizing of the military. But when I was at my lowest point, which was very low, I thought, “I can write two books a year. And Jim will pay me $20K apiece for them–”

“I’d have paid a lot more than that!”

And I explained that this wasn’t about reality: this was me in the irrational depths of real depression. And even when I was most depressed and most irrational, I knew in my heart that Jim Baen would pay me enough to keep me alive, because he was that sort of person. He’d done that for Keith Laumer whom he disliked, because Laumer had been an author Jim looked for when he was starting to read SF.

I could not get so crazy and depressed that I didn’t trust Jim Baen to stand by me if I needed him. I don’t know a better statement than that to sum up what was important about Jim, as a man and as a friend.

(14) PEACE IN OUR TIME. In “The Stormbunnies and Crybullies”, John C. Wright devotes over 2,000 words to making his closing offer irresistible in that special way only he knows how.

But I am a forgiving man, jovial and magnanimous. I make the following peace offer: Go your way. Cease to interfere with me and my livelihood, do your work, cease to libel me and meddle with my affairs, withhold your tongue from venom and your works from wickedness, and we shall all get along famously.

Otherwise, it is against my self interest to seek peace with you. Peace is a two sided affair: both parties must agree. So far only Mr. Martin has even expressed a desire for it.

(15) WHAT KEEPS YOU FROM WRITING? Nandini Balial at Pacific Standard helps writers name their fears — “Gremlins and Satyrs of Rejection: A Taxonomy of Writers’ Foes”

THE SATYRS OF MOUNT OUTLET: Like its cousin Olympus, Mount Outlet stretches far beyond human sight into luxurious billowy clouds. The work its satyrs produce is sharp and daring. Vast networks of bloggers, freelancers, and even reporters churn out viral but self-aware listicles, personal essays that make me cry more than they should, and short stories so good I’m inclined to simply put my pen away. On Twitter, their satyrs (editors) trade barbs and witticisms with the speed of a Gatling gun. A poor peasant like me may approach the foot of the mountain, but my tattered, unworthy scrolls and I will soon turn around and head home.

(16) PUBLISHING STINKS. Kristen Lamb, in “The Ugly Truth of Publishing & How BEST to Support Writers”, says don’t bother reviewing her books on Goodreads, because that’s where the trolls are:

Tweet a picture of our book. Put it on Facebook. People in your network ARE noticing. Peer review and approval is paramount in the digital age. And don’t support your favorite author on Goodreads as a first choice (AMAZON reviews are better). The only people hanging out on Goodreads for the most part are other writers and book trolls.

Support us on your regular Facebook page or Instagram or Twitter. Because when you post a great new book you LOVED your regular friends see that. When they get stranded in an Urgent Care or an airport? What will they remember? THAT BOOK. They won’t be on Goodreads. Trust me.

(17) DISSONANCE. After reading Kristen Lamb’s discouraging words, I encountered M. L. Brennan calling for everyone to get up and dance because Generation V earned out and what that means”. That’s not the next post I’d have expected to see, straight from leaving Lamb’s black-crepe-draped explanation of the publishing industry.

One thing to bear in mind, because it’s easy to lose sight of it when you look at that last paragraph — if I hadn’t received an advance, I wouldn’t have made more money on this book. I would still have earned $7615.78 on the series — except earning that first $7500 would have taken me two years, rather than being entirely in my pocket on the day that Generation V hit the bookstores. And that $7500 paid my mortgage, my electric bill, and other bills, which made it substantially easier for me to write. Without that advance, it would’ve taken me longer to write Iron Night, Tainted Blood, and even Dark Ascension, because I would’ve been having to hustle other work elsewhere and spend less time writing.

(18) NONE DARE CALL IT SF. Whether Joshua Adam Anderson styles himself an sf fan I couldn’t say (though he did take a course from Professor James Gunn), but his LA Review of Books article “Toward a New Fantastic: Stop Calling It Science Fiction” is a deep dive into the abyss of genre. His attempt to define (redefine?) science fiction is precisely what fans love.

LAST JULY, Pakistani science fiction writer Usman Malik published a clarion call for his home country. In it, he made the claim that “[e]ncouraging science fiction, fantasy, and horror readership has the potential to alleviate or fix many of Pakistan’s problems.” While it would be difficult to disagree with the idea that science fiction is a positive force in the world, many of Malik’s reasons for championing the genre are problematic. To begin with, Malik — along with just about everyone else — still, for some reason, calls “science fiction” science fiction. His essay actually contains a handful of reasons why we should stop calling it “science fiction,” and it also inadvertently addresses how and why we need to liberate ourselves from genre itself — and how “science fiction” can help us do just that.

(19) PLANNING BEGINS: Paul Johnson’s early word is that the event to honor his father, the late George Clayton Johnson, might be in February at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood.

P Johnson snip Egyptian

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Will R., Paul Weimer, Brian Z., and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

Pixel Scroll 11/1 Rank Election

(1) If you are fan who drinks, the newly reopened Clifton’s Cafeteria would like to tempt you with these two science fictional libations –

drinks at Cliftons

(2) “Another Word: Chinese Science Fiction and Chinese Reality” by Liu Cixin, translated by Ken Liu, in Clarkesworld, talks about the themes of other Chinese writers after these introductory comments about the domestic reception for his own work.

China is a society undergoing rapid development and transformation, where crises are present along with hopes, and opportunities coexist with challenges. This is a reality reflected in the science fiction produced there.

Chinese readers often interpret science fiction in unexpected ways. Take my Three Body series as an example. The alien-invasion story takes as its premise a “worst-case” scenario for relationships among members of the cosmic society of civilizations, which is called the “Dark Forest” state. In this state, different starfaring civilizations have no choice but to attempt to annihilate each other at the first opportunity.

After publication, the novels became surprisingly popular among those working in China’s Internet industry. They saw the “Dark Forest” state portrayed in the novels as an accurate reflection of the state of brutal competition among China’s Internet companies….

Authors (myself included) are often befuddled by such interpretations.

(3) From “’Star Wars’: Their First Time” in the New York Times.

Ridley Scott: I had done a film called “The Duellists” and was in Los Angeles to shoot at Paramount, and I honestly think Paramount had forgotten. I remember saying, I’m Ridley Scott, and they said who? So David Puttnam, one of the greatest producers I’ve ever worked with and the most fun, said, “Screw them, let’s go see [“Star Wars”] at the Chinese [theater].” It was the first week. I’ve never known audience participation like it, absolutely rocking. I felt my “Duellist” was this big [holds thumb and forefinger an inch apart], and George had done that [stretches arms out wide]. I was so inspired I wanted to shoot myself. My biggest compliment can be [to get] green with envy and really bad-tempered. That damn George, son of a bitch. I’m very competitive.

(4) Andrew Porter was interviewed, complete with photo, for “Longtime Brooklynites Reflect on a Changing Brooklyn” on Brownstoner.com:

Now you can put a face to me and my non SFnal opinions about recent changes in Brooklyn Heights, where I’ve lived for 47 years.

I’m sure you’ll also appreciate the comments, one of which accuses me of hating Brits!

(Daveinbedstuy accuses – “Andrew Porter sounds cranky; as he usually does on BHB. I wonder what he has against ‘Brits.’ And bringing up ‘granite countertops’ Really????????”)

(5) Jim C. Hines on Facebook:

I HAVE WRITTEN THE FIRST 22 WORDS OF MY NANOWRIMO NOVEL!

The NaNo word counter says at this rate, I’ll finish by January 20, 2022.

I suppose I should probably keep writing, eh?

(6) “Fantastic Worlds: Science and Fiction, 1780-1910” is on exhibit through February 26, 2017 in the newly renovated Smithsonian Libraries Exhibition Gallery of the National Museum of American History.

Travel with us to the surface of the moon, the center of the earth, and the depths of the ocean – to the fantastic worlds of fiction inspired by 19th century discovery and invention.

New frontiers of science were emerging. We took to the air, charted remote corners of the earth, and harnessed the power of steam and electricity. We began unlocking the secrets of the natural world. The growing literate middle class gave science a new and avid public audience. Writers explored the farther reaches of the new scientific landscape to craft hoaxes, satires and fictional tales.

Fantastic Worlds: Science and Fiction, 1780-1910 is accompanied by an online exhibit.

(7) Francis Hamit, a novelist and film producer who is a graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop, has published A Perfect Spy, a memoir about his first two years at the University of Iowa when he was a dual major in Drama and Business. While he narrates the ongoing dramatic social changes that were transforming society and the university in 1965 and 1966, he also covers the impact of the sexual revolution, the sudden rise of a drug culture, and the beginnings of the anti-war movement at the University of Iowa, from a first-person perspective.

“I saw the first draft card burnt,” Hamit says; “And I would see the last anti-war riot there several years later. I was also very disturbed by the rise of all kinds of drug use in and around Iowa City. Unlike almost everyone else I knew, I did not think this ‘cool’. I saw people ruining thier lives by refusing to tell the police who’d sold them the drugs: facing years in prison. I offered to help them find the dealers if they would leave my friends alone. How I did this is narrated in A Perfect Spy, which is a 118-page excerpt from my forthcoming book Out of Step: A Memoir of the Vietnam War Years.

“I was already in place,” Hamit added; “A perfect spy who made no pretenses of approving of recreational drugs. I didn’t do anything with them, but simply watched and listened so I could collect some useful intelligence for the police. At the same time, I became involved with some very interesting women who were part of the Sexual Revolution. That was part of a larger social revolt. None of what happened then can be viewed in isolation, so I’ve just tried to be as truthful as possible while changing a lot of the names of the people to prevent embarrassment.”

A Perfect Spy will be available exclusively at first from November 12, 2015 on Amazon Kindle for $5.00 and can be pre-ordered now. A print edition will be available in March, 2016 with a suggested retail price of $12.00 from most bookstores.

(8) “The artist who visited ‘Dune’ and ‘the most important science fiction art ever created’” – a gallery of Schoenherr at Dangerous Minds.

Frank Herbert said John Schoenherr was “the only man who has ever visited Dune.” Schoenherr (1935-2010) was the artist responsible for visualising and illustrating Herbert’s Dune—firstly in the pages of Analog magazine, then in the fully illustrated edition of the classic science fiction tale. But Herbert didn’t stop there, he later added:

I can envision no more perfect visual representation of my Dune world than John Schoenherr’s careful and accurate illustrations.

High praise indeed, but truly deserved, for as Jeff Love pointed out in Omni Reboot, Schoenherr’s illustrations are “the most important science fiction art ever created.”

(9) Jason Sanford posted a collection of tweets under the heading “The fossilization of science fiction and fantasy literature”. Here are some excerpts.

Although I have friends that do exactly what Sanford complains about, he doesn’t hang with them, read their fanzines, or (I’d wager) even know their names, so I’m kind of curious whose comments sparked off this rant.

Personally, I’m prone to recommend Connie Willis or Lois McMaster Bujold if I’m trying to interest someone in sf – though both have been around over 25 years and aren’t spring chickens anymore either.

People recommend what they know and esteem. It’s perfectly fine to argue whether recommendations will win fans to the genre, but it seems petty to act as if pushing “classic” choices is a war crime.

(10) John Scalzi was more or less content with Sanford’s line of thought, and responded with “No, the Kids Aren’t Reading the Classics and Why Would They”.

Writer Jason Sanford kicked a small hornet’s nest earlier today when he discussed “the fossilization of science fiction,” as he called it, and noted that today’s kids who are getting into science fiction are doing it without “Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein and Tolkien.” This is apparently causing a moderate bit of angina in some quarters.

I think Sanford is almost entirely correct (the small quibble being that I suspect Tolkien is still common currency, thanks to recent films and video games), nor does this personally come as any particular shock. I wrote last year about the fact my daughter was notably resistant to Heinlein’s charms, not to mention the charms of other writers who I enjoyed when I was her age… thirty years ago. She has her own set of writers she loves and follows, as she should. As do all the kids her age who read.

The surprise to me is not that today’s kids have their own set of favorite authors, in genre and out of it; the surprise to me is honestly that anyone else is surprised by this.

(11) “The kids” who don’t read the classics are one case, would-be sf writers are another, explains Fynbospress in “Slogging forward, looking back” at Mad Genius Club.

Kris Rusch has also noted how many young writers she’s run into who are completely ignorant of the many, many female authors who’ve been in science fiction and fantasy since the start. Among other reasons, many of their works have gone out of print, and the new writers coming in may not have read the old magazines, or picked up the older, dated-artwork books at the used bookstores. So they really, truly, may not know that their groundbreaking new take has been done to death thirty years before they came on the scene, or that they’re trying to reinvent a wheel that has not only been invented, it’s evolved to all-wheel drive with traction control.

(12) I can’t say that Vivienne Raper is going where no one has gone before in responding to the latest Wired article about the Hugos — “Five reasons why the ‘Battle for Pop Culture’s Soul’ isn’t about ‘white men’”.

[First three of five points.]

There are many reasons why I might be “angered” by previous Hugo winners.  And none of them are anything to do with ‘the increasingly multicultural makeup’ of the awards:

ONE

Science fiction’s most prestigious award‘ for Best Novel was decided in 2014 by fewer than 4,000 voters.

TWO

The Best Short Story for 2014 got onto the ballot with fewer than 43 nominations.

THREE

Popular blogger John Scalzi has won more Hugo Awards (inc. best fan writer) than Isaac Asimov – author of I, Robot – or Arthur C. Clarke. He also has 90K+ Twitter followers.

(13) Jeb Kinnison at Substrate Wars is more analytical and lands more punches in “The Death of ‘Wired’: Hugo Awards Edition”. Here are his closing paragraphs.

The various flavors of Puppies differ, but one thing they’re not is anti-diverse — there are women, people of various colors, gays (like me), religious, atheists, and on and on. The one thing they have in common is that they oppose elevating political correctness above quality of writing, originality, and story in science fiction. Many of the award winners in recent years have been lesser works elevated only because they satisfied a group of progressives who want their science fiction to reflect their desired future of group identity and victim-based politics. For them, it is part of their battle to tear down bad old patriarchy, to bury the old and bring themselves to the forefront of culture (and incidentally make a living being activists in fiction.) These people are often called “Social Justice Warriors” – they shore up their own fragile identities by thinking of themselves as noble warriors for social justice. Amy Wallace places herself with them by portraying the issues as a battle between racist, sexist white men and everyone else.

She then goes on to give some space to Larry Correia, Brad Torgerson, and Vox Day (Ted Beale). While her reporting about them is reasonably truthful, they report that she promised to interview Sarah Hoyt (who ruins the narrative as a female Puppy) but did not do so, and left out material from other interviews that did not support her slant. Tsk!

The piece is very long, but written from a position of assumed moral superiority and elite groupthink, a long fall from classic Wired‘s iconoclastic reporting. It’s sad when a quality brand goes downhill — as a longtime subscriber, I’ve noticed the magazine has grown thinner in the last year as ad revenues declined and competition from upstarts like Fast Company ate into their market. Now they are me-tooing major controversies for clicks. Once you see this dishonesty in reporting, you should never view such sources as reliable again.

(14) Sometimes I suspect AI stands for “artificial ignorance.”

If the programmer of this tweet-generating robot was literate, they could easily discover that the words Portugal and Portuguese are not even mentioned in this U.S. Census definition of “Hispanic or Latino.”

(15) “The Original Star Wars Trilogy Gets An Awesome Force Awakens-Style Trailer” via Geek Tyrant.

I’d warn that there are too many spoilers, except you’ve already seen the original trilogy how many times?

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Mark-kitteh, Will R., JJ, Trey Palmer, Francis Hamit, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Pixel Scroll 9/1 The Pixellent Prismatic Spray

(1) I encountered this oasis while researching today’s scroll — Nelson Lowhim’s clever story “Sasquan, worldcon and the science fiction convention”

…Leaning back and inhaling the sterile convention center smell, I realized that I’d sat on a book. I pulled it out from under me and examined the cover: on it a gallant woman rode a chariot being pulled by naked men. They were headed to a shining light at the end of the road.

It was thin, the book, and so I read through it, the writing clean enough for me not to stop and the premise interesting enough for me to flip the pages. When I was finished, unsure with the ending, I threw the book on the table where it collided with the sculpture.

It was then that I noticed a shift in the atmosphere and the smell of something like rotting feet. Out from the shadows in a corner stepped a large man. I froze. For not only was he large, not only did he wield a large sword, but he moved with the kind of nimbleness that signifies a specifically potent violence.

“Treat the book with a little more respect, small man.”…

(2) Marko Kloos – “My Sasquan Weekend”

So we were at the Hugo Losers party, mingling with old and new friends and generally having a good time, when GRRM had a special surprise for us. He brought out a table full of trophies made from 1950s hood ornaments which he called the Alfies, after Alfred Bester, the winner of the inaugural best Novel Hugo in 1953. George started giving them out to various people who would have been on the ballot without the slates, especially in those categories where the nominees all came from the slates.

And then he awarded one to Annie Bellet, who withdrew her short story from the ballot the same day I withdrew my novel…and I thought to myself, “Self, he may call you up there too.” The room was packed with people, many of them authors and editors of works you’ve probably read, and I basically had two or three minutes to think up something to say that wouldn’t make me look like a giant jackass.

(3) Angela Blackwell on Bull Spec – “The Exploding Spaceship Visits Sasquan – Worldcon 2015”

Panel organizers appeared to try to bring diverse authors onto panels but like many conventions could really have used some oversight from a diversity coordinator. Many “diverse” authors were on panels with topics which had nothing to do with the type of writing they do. It looked as if someone said, “Oh, we need diversity on this panel so let’s randomly pick a diverse author we used somewhere else instead of broadening our panelist pool and finding a diverse author who fits the topic”. Also “diverse” authors need to be put on panels about the subgenres they write about not just on generic panels….

Next year’s Worldcon will be in Kansas City. We hope their panel organizers learn from the many comments on Twitter and Facebook as well as at the convention about how different authors were placed on panels and what panel topics were chosen. All the members of the community need to feel welcome and none should be stuck in a “diversity” box, or a “minority political opinion” box.

(4) Ellen Datlow has over a hundred photos from Sasquan, many from GRRM’s Hugo Losers Party, posted here.

(5) Lou Antonelli on Facebook

Thought for the Day: In light of the way he depicts social occasions in his fantasy writing, I was rather surprised anyone would accept an invitation to a private event from George R.R. Martin. (wink)

(6) Campbell nominee Rolf Nelson – “Sasquan post, obligatory”

I wasn’t sure what to expect. I certainly didn’t expect being totally ignored, but that’s largely what happened. No offers of being on panels. No interviews. Nobody to introduce me. No packet available that was supposed to be ready for me. No open attacks on me. No large shows of support for the puppies. (Some background on the puppies here: http://sfauthor.net/burning-down-the-house/ ; I was a “rabid puppy” nominee. Five second recap: the insiders worked the nominations and voting in back rooms and parties for years, and didn’t like it when an outsider did the same thing, out in the open, and better, shutting them out of a lock on the awards). Normally new writers are loaded up with panels and shown around and introduced to folks. For me and most of the non-TOR-books nominees? Nothing. So I wandered around, watched, listened, talked to a lot of “average SF con attendees.” They were mostly nice, and most knew little or nothing about the whole puppies thing. Most who knew something had a warped left-wing version of events in their heads. I managed to line up 3 interviews of my own by walking down to the press room and asking “want to interview a rabid puppy?” including one with Amy Wallace of Wired (http://www.wired.com/2015/08/won-science-fictions-hugo-awards-matters/ ) who talked to me for 20 or 25 minutes, but didn’t use any of it (flatly contradicted what I said, in fact, perhaps because I was recording the interview, too, so she could not out-of-context sound-bite me).

(7) Melinda Snodgrass – “There Is and Was No Conspiracy”

So now I have to address the boatload of idiotic conspiracy theories that have sprung up from the fervid brains of the Puppies both Sad and Rabid.

No, George did not know in advance who had won and who had lost.  He had to wait for the pink sheet that detailed the Hugo nominations before he could figure out who was going to receive an Alfie.  I know because I had to check in with him when thing were running late for presenting the awards, and he told me in harried tones that he had had to wait for the breakdown to come out and everything was running late.

No, George did not buy 3000 memberships and tell them how to vote.  Has anyone looked at fandom?  Herding cats wold be easier.  And seriously — George is the guy who loves this award.  He would never, ever game his beloved Hugos.

No, the Puppy votes were not “discounted”.  It’s the Australian ballot.  It’s confusing.  Here’s a link where Ranked Voting is explained.  Try to understand.  So you don’t get your money back.

No, you can’t sue.  You have to show harm before you can get into court, and you have to have standing to bring a lawsuit. If someone calls you a banana that might hurt you deeply, but the court will not provide a remedy for your pain.   You voted/you lost.  If your argument had merit I’d be suing over the 2000 election.  Let it be noted that I didn’t.

(8) Jim Hensley on Unqualified Offerings – “Social Engineer-ing”

Ken Burnside writes the best “pro-Puppy” retrospective on the Hugo Awards that I’ve seen. It’s frank about the pain he felt from the way some people treated him during the controversy but impressively free of bitterness. The piece is long, but what interests me most is something he doesn’t quite say, and possibly doesn’t quite realize. Here’s what he does say, about what he identifies as the “Heroic Engineer” genre, also known as competence porn:

Heroic Engineer Stories drive a lot of sales. Nearly every SF author I know who doesn’t need a day job writes an action-adventure series, where the Heroic Engineer/Officer/Competent Protagonist Solves The Problem. They sell, and they sell to a male demographic, often current or recently retired military, and that demographic skews conservative.

Let’s zero in on the last sentence. It states that SF competence porn sells to people who see themselves in the protagonist. They are pleased to read stories in which they recognize people like them.

Which is exactly what gets called affirmative-action “box checking” when the protagonist is female, non-white, queer or some combination of those. Often, particularly when Puppy advocates are writing, when readers derive pleasure from seeing themselves in those protagonists, they are accused of favoring representation over quality, even though representation can be a marker of quality.

I remember when I first saw Apollo 13 in the theater, my overwhelming, thrilled reaction was: “My people!” Those very clever, very white nerdboys in Mission Control, trying to save the lives of the astronauts via kitbashing and pedantry reminded me of myself and my friends in a way hardly any screen protagonists had heretofore. And you know, there’s nothing wrong with that. And there’s nothing wrong with an ex-service-member deriving pleasure from stories about guys kinda like him saving the world with shop tools and shaped charges.

But there’s also nothing wrong with a black woman deriving pleasure from stories about black women on Mars, or gay men enjoying stories about gay men dealing with unexplained phenomena. This even goes beyond the issue of representation-as-quality – that stories with people of color, LGBT folks and women of agency better reflect the world as we know it and our plausible futures. While the old stereotype of science-fiction and fantasy as nothing but wish-fulfillment stories was unjust, wish-fulfillment remains an element of much fiction, and most adventure fiction. There’s simply no case that non-white, non-straight, non-male readers’ enjoyment in seeing themselves reflected in fiction is somehow less legitimate than the pleasure that “a male demographic, often current or recently retired military” takes in the same phenomenon.

(9) After Chris Meadows meets Michael Z. Williamson at the gun show, he reviews and approves Kate Paulk’s plans for SP4 “Whether Sad Puppy or opposed, fans are people, too” .

That’s a much better way to approach the matter than coming up with a slate with just a small number of candidates, the way Brad Torgersen did last year. As Paulk points out later in the livestream, Torgersen didn’t fill every category on the Sad Puppy slate with five candidates, but its having fewer than five left room for the Rabids to come in and piggyback on them by putting five on theirs. It also resulted in some candidates that Puppies might have nominated, such as the Heinlein biography, getting left out because Torgersen didn’t know about them to put them on the slate. Listing all suggested nominees will make a lot more sense.

More importantly, it’s also the way that a lot of other places make Hugo recommendations. That’s how John Scalzi’s “Fans Award Recommendation Threads” work, for example—people plug stories they personally think are worthy and recommend that others read them. And people have historically been fine with that kind of thing. There’s no attempt there to make a specific list of just a few works in each category. There are also people out there attempting to list and discuss every possible eligible work for 2016, so people will know what’s available.

Torgersen might have meant the 2015 slate as a list of recommendations for things people should read and then nominate if they liked them (though he wasn’t really very clear about that in the original announcement), but the problem with a list that has just a few candidates on it is that a lot of people will choose to nominate it as-is without actually bothering to read the works on it. They might not feel like they have the kind of time it would take to read everything, but that list is right there and it’s easy to copy and paste. Hopefully more people will be moved to nominate stuff they actually read this year.

(10) Elton Gahr on Life, the Universe, and Sci-Fi “My Controversial Opinion on the Hugo Awards”

I know I’m a bit late commenting on the Hugo awards, but the recent Hugo awards controversy annoyed me enough I wanted to comment with my own super controversial opinion on the Hugo awards. I apologize before I tell you because I know that it’s going to surprise and possibly upset some people, but the award for the best science fiction story, novel, etc should go to the, wait for it… Best story.

Basically what I’m saying is that most of the people involved in the argument are wrong regardless of which side you’re on (though I’ll admit if it makes you feel better that some are more wrong than others). If you’re voting for people instead of the work of fiction they wrote you’re wrong. I can understand not voting for someone if you really dislike them simply because you don’t want to support them. But voting for someone because they are a white male, a black Hispanic woman or an aboriginal Australian when you don’t believe their story is the best is just wrong and it doesn’t really matter why you’re doing it. Ignore the author and vote for the story you like the best. That’s what the award is for….

I have no problem with people putting together a list of stories that they think are the best though it seems clear that isn’t going to be a good idea. I’m also very pleased that more minorities and women are writing science fiction. Part of the reason I read science fiction is to see the world from the point of view of people who see it different from me. And if they write the best science fiction story in their respective categories they deserve to win, but honestly anyone who votes for them because they are a minority or a woman when they don’t believe it’s the best story is voting wrong.

So that’s basically it. My controversial opinion about the Hugo Awards is that the rabid people on both sides of this are idiots. If I heard someone saying that women or minorities shouldn’t be involved in science fiction I’d have a hard time not punching them in the face. It’s 2015 and we are supposed to be past that type of thing. But I really don’t feel much better about the people on the opposite extreme. If you won’t vote for someone just because they are a white male then there is no difference at all. If you assume someone is racist because they disagree about what the best story then you need to consider that they might just like something different than you and that’s O.K. and if you vote for someone who didn’t write the best story to make a political point you’re helping to prove the people on the other side right.

(11) Jonathan Jones in the Guardian – “Get real. Terry Pratchett is not a literary genius”

It does not matter to me if Terry Pratchett’s final novel is a worthy epitaph or not, or if he wanted it to be pulped by a steamroller. I have never read a single one of his books and I never plan to. Life’s too short.

No offence, but Pratchett is so low on my list of books to read before I die that I would have to live a million years before getting round to him. I did flick through a book by him in a shop, to see what the fuss is about, but the prose seemed very ordinary.

I don’t mean to pick on this particular author, except that the huge fuss attending and following his death this year is part of a very disturbing cultural phenomenon. In the age of social media and ebooks, our concept of literary greatness is being blurred beyond recognition. A middlebrow cult of the popular is holding literature to ransom. Thus, if you judge by the emotional outpourings over their deaths, the greatest writers of recent times were Pratchett and Ray Bradbury. There was far less of an internet splurge when Gabriel García Márquez died in 2014 and Günter Grass this spring. Yet they were true titans of the novel. Their books, like all great books, can change your life, your beliefs, your perceptions. Everyone reads trash sometimes, but why are we now pretending, as a culture, that it is the same thing as literature? The two are utterly different.

(12) Damien G. Walter – “Sorry Jonesy, but I can write for the Guardian and love Terry Pratchett”

I never had the good fortune to meet Terry Pratchett, but I’ve been reading his books since I was eleven. My favourite Discworld tomes – Mort, Small Gods and Going Postal – have been read a half dozen times each at least. I also hold a Masters degree, have been a senior university lecturer, and am a columnist for The Guardian, the very same bastion of middlebrow values that Jonathan Jones penned his opportunistic attack on Terry Pratchett. Unlike Jones however, I see no conflict in being both an intelligent educated human being and loving the fuck out of Terry Pratchett’s discworld books.

(13) Christopher Priest – “You Don’t Know What It Is, Do You, Mister Jones?”

Finally, the works of Sir Terry Pratchett. I have been provoked to write this essay today by an article in the Guardian’s blog, by the newspaper’s arts correspondent Jonathan Jones. As a display of closed-minded prejudice, and an astonishing willingness to brag about it, there have been thankfully few precedents. Here is how Jones starts:

It does not matter to me if Terry Pratchett’s final novel is a worthy epitaph or not, or if he wanted it to be pulped by a steamroller. I have never read a single one of his books and I never plan to. Life’s too short. No offence, but Pratchett is so low on my list of books to read before I die that I would have to live a million years before getting round to him. I did flick through a book by him in a shop, to see what the fuss is about, but the prose seemed very ordinary.

Unsurprisingly, the online comments on this pathetic piece of ignorant journalism have swarmed in (at the time of writing, just under one thousand), and for once almost all of them agree with each other. I will be surprised and disappointed if Mr Jones retains his job with the Guardian, at least in the capacity of an arts correspondent. I have rarely seen a letter of resignation so overtly and shamelessly revealing as this. I was forcibly reminded of a letter my old friend John Middleton Murry wrote to the Observer many years ago on another, not dissimilar, matter: ‘I note your organ does not have a reporter in Antarctica, and suggest that this would be a suitable posting for Mr Martin Amis.’

I should add that Terry Pratchett and I were respectful colleagues rather than personal friends. We knew each other better in the days when we were teenage hopefuls, trying to get our first stories sold. The years went by, we found our publishers and we went our separate ways. I doubt if Terry ever read my books – I read only a few of his. Terry does not need me to defend him – Jones’s article is contemptible.

But I would say that of all the writers I have ever known, or the books I have ever read, Terry Pratchett’s seem to be a dead cert for long-term classic status.

(14) Scott Lynch on Storify – “That awful, awful SJW message fiction”

(15) OK. Now it’s been said.

Bingo?

(16) Angelique Trouvere has a request:

Some merriment, circa mid-1970s, at a New York STAR TREK convention... That's also Elyse Pines (Rosenstein) second from left in front, Joan Winston on Jeff Maynard's lap (sadly, both Joan and Jeff are also gone), "Patia Von Sternberg," redheaded, fourth from left in the back, and a very popular helmsman, under the beanie....

Some merriment, circa mid-1970s, at a New York STAR TREK convention… That’s also Elyse Pines (Rosenstein) second from left in front, Joan Winston on Jeff Maynard’s lap (sadly, both Joan and Jeff are also gone), “Patia Von Sternberg,” redheaded, fourth from left in the back, and a very popular helmsman, under the beanie….

I’ve attached the photo you included [in Toni Lay’s obituary] of the group shot from the early Trekcon with George Takei and I had a question that I hope you may be able to help me with:

There is a woman sitting next to Elyse on the far left–she’s wearing a red jacket and a white top with dots – she’s an old friend from the cons who moved to L.A shortly after that pic was taken. I visited her there but lost contact with her.  It’s been so long that I can’t be sure if her first name is Barbara or Sharon.   This photo was also published in Joan’s book, “The Making of the Star Trek Conventions” but it’s a grainy b/w.   Would you know her or know someone who might?

If you have the answer e-mail me at mikeglyer (at) cs (dot) com and I will pass it on to Ms. Trouvere.

(16) The one true reason why people are writers:

(17) Just what do the Orks want anyway? Multiplexer gives this neglected sociological question extended thought at Critical Hits.

Coda

Generic evil for the sake of being evil is boring.  The most banal and dull of demi-humans benefit from a bit of motivation, incentives, history and background.   Why are the Orks in the dungeon?  What do they get out of being in the dungeon?  Did they come from a village?  How is that village?  Can the PCs learn anything about this culture while killing things and looting their stuff?  Maybe they have something and the local magistrates want it more?

No one is what they seem and everything has little pull-able threads that unravel into a tapestry of background, story, and tale.

Or maybe the Murder Hobos only want to roll bad guys and take their stuff.

(18) We end today with this highly scientific excerpt from io9 “Archeologists Tracked Lewis and Clark by Following Their Trail of Laxatives”

Eventually, researchers came across some information that helped clarify things… and that information came from their latrines. Lewis and Clark were fairly well-equipped and well-trained, even if only by the standards of the day. Given what those standards were, it’s surprising that they only lost one person during their trek. According to their own records, they bled people who were feverish, they gave purgatives to people who felt weak, and they administered potassium nitrate (a preservative substitute for salt) to people suffering from heat stroke and dehydration. They also brought along the wonder drug of the day, mercury chloride (otherwise known as calomel), as a pill, a tincture, and an ointment.

Calomel was often used to treat those with syphilis (mercury does work against the bacterium that causes syphilis, but it takes out the host as well, so don’t try it at home) along with nearly everything else, including constipation. And an expedition that ate mainly the game they could catch along the way would have suffered from constipation regularly. In their journals, Lewis and Clark regularly make note of someone having to take one of Dr. Rush’s Bilious Pills (because constipation was thought to be caused by an excess of bile) and spending the day purging.

If you know that you and your men are going to spend a day expelling everything they’ve eaten for a week, you make sure to dig a latrine. Most of the mercury that the men ingested went out of the system again, which means that over a century later, historians and archaeologists were able to pin down where Lewis and Clark had stayed by testing old latrine contents for mercury.

[Thanks to Paul Weimer, Martin Morse Wooster, and John King Tarpinian for some of these links. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kurt Busiek, with a signal boost by Shambles .]

Talkin’ About The Puppies

(1) Michael A. Rothman accuses Fandom of disillusioning his teenage sons.

I took my kids to WorldCon to expose them to Fandom and I’ve consciously shielded them from any of the politics of the kerfuffle associated with the literary “sides” that were in play.

When we attended, we had good seats and they were excited to see if some of their choices would make it.

Let’s just say that my boys ended up being exposed to some of their categories being utterly eradicated from eligibility due to this thing that I’d shielded them from.

They couldn’t understand why their short story choice evaporated into something called “NO AWARD.”

As I briefly explained, the audience was cheering because of that decision and the MC made a point of saying that cheering was appropriate and boos were not.

My kids were shocked.

Shocked not by not winning but by having an entire category’s rug being pulled out from under it and then having all the adults (many of which were old enough to be their grandparents) cheering for something my kids looked at as an unfair tragedy.

I’ll admit to having feared this outcome – yet this was my children’s introduction to Fandom.

We are driving home and they are of the opinion that they aren’t particularly interested in this “Fandom” thing.

I find that a great shame – and I blame not the people who established the ballots to vote for (for my kids enjoyed a great deal of what they read on the ballots), but as my kids noted – they blame the ones who made them feel “like the rug was pulled out from under me.”

…I’d offered Fandom my boys – my boys now reject them.

(2) Larry Correia on Monster Hunter Nation – “Sad Puppies 3: Looking at the Results”

…Editor Toni Weisskopf is a professional’s professional. She has run one of the main sci-fi publishing houses for a decade. She has edited hundreds of books. She has discovered, taught, and nurtured a huge stable of authors, many of whom are extremely popular bestsellers. You will often hear authors complain about their editors and their publishers, but you’re pretty hard pressed to find anyone who has written for her who has anything but glowing praise for Toni.

Yet before Sad Puppies came along, Toni had never received a Hugo nomination. Zero. The above mentioned Patrick Nielsen Hayden has 8. Toni’s problem was that she just didn’t care and she didn’t play the WorldCon politics. Her only concern was making the fans happy. She publishes any author who can do that, regardless of their politics. She’s always felt that the real awards were in the royalty checks. Watching her get ignored was one of the things that spurred me into starting Sad Puppies. If anybody deserved the Hugo, it was her.

This year Toni got a whopping 1,216 first place votes for Best Editor. That isn’t just a record. That is FOUR TIMES higher than the previous record. Shelia Gilbert came in next with an amazing 754. I believe that Toni is such a class act that beforehand she even said she thought Shelia Gilbert deserved to win. Fans love Toni.

Logically you would think that she would be award worthy, since the only Baen books to be nominated for a Hugo prior to Sad Puppies were edited by her (Bujold) and none of those were No Awarded. Last year she had the most first place votes, and came in second only after the weird Australian Rules voting kicked in (don’t worry everybody, they just voted to make the system even more complicated), so she was apparently award worthy last year.

Toni Weisskopf has been part of organized Fandom (capital F) since she was a little kid, so all that bloviating about how Fandom is precious, and sacred, and your special home since the ‘70s which you need to keep as a safe space free of barbarians, blah, blah, blah, yeah, that applies to Toni just as much as it does to you CHORFs.  You know how you guys paid back her lifetime of involvement in Fandom?

By giving 2,496 votes to No Award….

Oh, and all that bullshit you spew about fighting for diversity? Everyone knows that is a smokescreen. You talk about diversity, but simultaneously had no problem putting No Award over award nominated females because they were nominated by fans you declared to be sexist. Wait… So let me see if I’ve got this straight, you denied deserving women like Toni, Cedar, Kary, Jennifer, Shelia, and Amanda, just to send a message, but we’re the bad guys? I don’t think so. Or as one of our female nominees said, this Puppy has been muzzled. http://cedarwrites.com/this-puppy-has-been-muzzled/

…Here’s something for you crowing imbeciles to think through, the only reason Vox didn’t have Three Body Problem on his nomination slate was that he read it a month too late. If he’d read it sooner, it would have been an RP nomination… AND THEN YOU WOULD HAVE NO AWARDED IT.

(3) Barb Caffrey – “Nightmare at the Hugo Awards: No Award ‘Wins’ Five Times…including for Best Editor Categories”

Look. I understand that the SF&F community has been rent asunder over the past few years. But one thing I thought everyone could all agree on was that books do not produce themselves.

To have a book that reads well, you need not only a good writer with an interesting plot and some excellent characterization, but a highly competent editor to pull the story into its best-possible form.

Why? Well, the best writers in the world can and often do make mistakes, and it’s up to your handy-dandy, trustworthy, hard-working editor to fix them.

The people who were nominated for Hugo Awards all have a great deal of experience as editors behind them. None of them were people who just came in off the street and started editing yesterday; most have edited for at least ten years, and some a great deal more…even the casual fan is aware of Toni Weisskopf of Baen Books and Sheila Gilbert of DAW Books, to name two fine editors who were passed over for “no award” in the long form category, because these two ladies have had long and successful careers as editors to date.

How “No Award” can be voted for by anyone in good conscience over either of them bothers me.

(4) Vox Day on Vox Popoli – “They proved Larry right”

This is the difference between game designers and normal people. We think, we HAVE to think, in terms of consequences, both obvious and non-obvious. We started last year with 1,100 reliable anti-Puppy votes and 160 reliable pro-puppy votes. That meant we were 900 in the hole before we even got started. That’s why I was urging everyone not to adopt the tactics of the other side and mass-mobilize. Last year wasn’t a good test because I wasn’t involved in the organizing and the Dread Ilk really didn’t get involved. There was no point in throwing the full weight of our effort into this year’s awards when we had the chance to see a) what our core forces looked like and b) what their maximal forces looked like.

That’s why I told everyone that this year was about the nominations and the best we could reasonably hope for was to provoke them into voting No Award… which they dutifully did.

Our execution wasn’t flawless. I made two mistakes, one which was fortuitous as it permitted Three Body Problem to make the shortlist and win, and one which was stupid as it cost us a 6th category in novelette. Our discipline could also have been better, although I don’t see that it would have made any difference at all with regards to either the nominations or the awards. But I trust the moderate approach is now sufficiently discredited in everyone’s eyes.

(5) John C. Wright – “Smeagol Nielson Hayden” [sic]

Besides, like me, they came to have a good time and to celebrate our mutual love of science fiction, and applaud in the fashion of good sports what we each severally take to be the best the genre offers. I thought there would be no incident.

I am sad to report that I was mistaken. The Archmorlock himself displayed his courage against the short and girlish figure of my meek and gentle wife.

At the reception just before the Awards Ceremony itself, my lovely and talented wife, who writes for Tor books under her maiden name of L Jagi Lamplighter, and who had been consistently a voice of reason and moderation during the whole silly kerfluffle, approached Mr. Patrick Nielsen Hayden at the party to extent to him the olive branch of peace and reconciliation.

Before she could finish her sentence, however, Mr. Hayden erupted into a swearing and cursing, and he shouted and bellowed at the tiny and cheerful woman I married.

(6) John C. Wright – “In Memoriam”

My fans voted for the works of mine they read and judged worthy in record numbers. (In terms of raw votes, my nominated works received more votes than some of the masterworks mentioned above.)

But those who are enemies of all honest men turned out (as expected) in even more record numbers: however, listening to the backstage chatter among voters after the awards, I heard not one comment, no, not one, of someone who said they voted for ‘No Award’  on the lack of merit of the works nominated.

And if you haven’t had a surfeit of John C. Wright’s abuse, it gets a lot more overwrought as he builds up a head of steam.

(7) And Wright passes along a fresh Hitler video about the fate of the Puppies.

(8) Matthew Foster – “The Hugo Results – Don’t Be A Dick”

Fandom said, “Dude, you are way over-thinking this. Those guys are dicks!”  And…well…I think Fandom pretty much nailed it.

So, if it was a puppy, Fandom rejected it. They celebrated everyone who got on the ballot fairly (even those in categories where they ended up with zero competition) but didn’t get near any pup nominee. They threw the party-asshole out the door and went back to dancing. This works out better than my way of doing things. I might be more consistent, but there is nowhere to go with mine, and not much fun. Fandom booted the pups, put on blinders to ignore the wreckage, and had fun.

(9) Nicholas Whyte on From The Heart of Europe analyzes the Hugo nomination statistics and points out a few items that almost made the final ballot despite the Puppy deluge.

At the nominations stage, there were also very few near misses, thanks in part to the lock that the Puppies managed to achieve on this part of the process.

  • The tightest squeeze for the ballot was in Best Fancast, where The Coode Street Podcast missed by one vote, Verity! by three and The Skiffy and Fanty Show by nine.
  • Saga vol 4 missed Best Graphic Story by a single vote (was it eligible?) and the latest Schlock Mercenary by nine.
  • Seanan McGuire’s Each to Each missed Best Novelette by three votes, and Kai Ashante Wilson’s The Devil in America missed it by seven.
  • Maurine Starkey missed Best Fan Artist by three votes, and seven others were less than ten below the cutoff.
  • The Drink Tank missed Best Fanzine by eight votes. For Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form), Agents of Shield: Turn, Turn, Turn missed by nine votes and Game of Thrones: The Lion and the Rose by ten.
  • The Book Smugglers missed Best Semiprozine by 10 votes.
  • Charles E. Gannon’s Trial By Fire was 11 votes off the Best Novel ballot, and Andy Weir was likewise 11 behind Wesley Chu for the Campbell Award.

(10) John Scalzi on Whatever – “Being a Jerk About the Hugos: Not as Effective a Strategy as You Might Think”

[Lists 10 things Puppies did that he classifies as “jerk moves,” then concludes –]

The Hugo vote against the Puppy slates was not about politics, or cabals, or one species of science fiction and fantasy over another, no matter what anyone would like you to believe — or at the very least, it wasn’t mostly about those things. It was about small group of people acting like jerks, and another, rather larger group, expressing their displeasure at them acting so.

Mind you, I don’t expect the core Puppies to recognize this; indeed I expect them to say they haven’t done a single thing that has been other than forthright and noble and correct. Well, and here’s the thing about that: acting like an jerk and then asserting that no, it’s everyone else that’s been acting like a jerk, is the biggest jerk maneuver of all.

(11) Michael Rapoport in The Wall Street Journal – “No ‘Puppy’ Love at Science Fiction’s Hugo Awards”

In response to the Puppies’ success, thousands of anti-Puppy fans bought Worldcon memberships, enabling them to vote on the final ballot and turn aside the nominees from the Puppies’ slates. According to Worldcon organizers, 5,950 convention members voted on the final Hugo ballot, topping the previous record by more than 65%.

The increase in participation in the Hugos is the important thing, said author Brad Torgersen, a Sad Puppies organizer. “If participation grows, the Hugos mean more,” he said before the results were announced. That “goes way beyond which ‘side’ can construct victory narratives.”

But author Adam-Troy Castro, an opponent of the Puppies, wrote in an online post that the results “mean one thing: fandom rose up in revulsion and cried, ‘We don’t want this system gamed with block voting. You want to win a Hugo, win it the way you’re supposed to: by blowing away the readership with such brilliance that people can’t abide the idea of NOT giving you a Hugo.’”

(12) Tegan Moore in Slog on The Stranger“I Went to the Hugo Awards in SpokaneThis Weekend. Here’s What I Saw”

Surprisingly, the mood in the auditorium was genial and relieved. It was almost over. My illustrious companion and I passed a flask of Scotch. We decided we would drink every time someone said “George R.R. Martin.” The flask was nearly empty before the winners were announced.

The first contested award went to the only non-Puppies nominee on the ballot. My illustrious companion clenched her fists in the air.

“Yes,” she hissed. “That’s the bellwether. They won’t win a damn thing.”

(13) Peter Grant on Bayou Renaissance Man – “A second look at the 2015 Hugo Awards”

My overwhelming emotion in this whole mess is sadness.  I’m watching people tear apart one of the great institutions of science fiction, purely because they can’t bring themselves to agree that every fan of the genre has a place within its tent.  It’s not one side doing it – it’s both.  The SJW’s, who consider themselves ‘true’ Fandom, insist that SF/F is their genre and they alone get to decide who and what belongs to it.  Those of a more conservative and/or orthodox bent disagree, and say that political correctness should not be the standard against which works of imagination and literature should be judged – but they can be very disparaging of the other side in how they go about that.  (Perhaps that’s not surprising.  Mutual tolerance and respect have been largely conspicuous by their absence in this field for many years.)

(14) John ONeill on Black Gate – “Dear Puppies: Your Taste Sucks”

In short, the Puppies insisted that their team had been unfairly shut out of the game for too long, and gamed the system so that their superstars could finally take the field. And when they did, it became painfully obvious fairly quickly that this team simply couldn’t play ball.

The Puppies have stayed in their echo chamber for long months, and to be honest, I don’t expect even this stinging repudiation of their selections to penetrate it. My guess is that they will lay this burden at the feet of another liberal conspiracy, or simply claim that the vast majority of the Hugo electorate voted against their slate without bothering to read it (just as I did).

But when your only defense is to convince yourself that the electorate spurned you because they found what you did to be against the very spirit of the Hugos and your ballot to be wholly illegitimate, then you’re hiding sub-standard taste behind moral bankruptcy.

I’m certain the Hugo vote is just the beginning of the discussion, not the ending that so many fans had sought. But at least, on one topic, we finally have general agreement.

Dear Puppies: your taste sucks.

 

(15) Milo Yiannopoulos on Breitbart – “Set Phases to Kill! SJWs Burn Down The Hugo Awards To Prove How Tolerant And Welcoming They Are”

The facts of this case are the same as in gaming and in every other industry that social justice warriors touch. They do not care about art forms. They do not care about science fiction. They do not even particularly care about talent. They care about enriching and ennobling themselves and their friends, and pushing a twisted, discredited, divisive brand of authoritarian politics.

Worldcon is now designing a Byzantine new rule system designed to thwart a Puppies resurgence in 2016. But anyone who loves sci-fi knows that no matter how air-tight the bad guy’s rules seem, the good guys will find a way through. Does anyone really think SJWs can design anything without leaving an unguarded exhaust vent?

(16) Sarah A. Hoyt on According To Hoyt – “Burning Down The Field in Order to Save It”

Turned out I did [care].  Yesterday was even more of a victory to the Sad Puppies than I expected.  And I wish it hadn’t been.  And I’m absolutely serious about this.

I don’t mean I wish a different set of books/stories had won.  That is only to the extent that the DELIBERATE and PARTISAN slighting of such unexceptionable luminaries as Kevin J. Anderson and Jim Butcher (Yes, yes Three Body Problem.  Well, I didn’t find it worth it, but I bet you half the people who voted for it voted either under the illusion they were favoring Chicoms OR as a slam against the puppies.But quite beyond that the block voting for the clumsy Ancillary “but pronouns” would have won first place if it weren’t Australian Rules) is a blot on the face of our genre and makes me sigh and roll my eyes.

(17) Mytheos Holt on The Federalist – “The Hugo Awards: Why The #WaronNerds Is A War on Art”

The Hugo Awards have shown us that this is impossible. The Social Justice Left will not be satisfied unless it has complete control over the spaces it infiltrates. If it cannot control a space, it will burn it down and salt the earth. If they could, they would probably torch every script of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew for being anti-feminist, every score of Mozart’s The Magic Flute for its unflattering depiction of its one mulatto character, every print of Apelles’ Venus Anadyomene for catering to the male gaze, and every other work that portrays, or was written by, someone with objectionable politics. This book burning bonfire of the vacuous would be large enough to be seen from space, if the satellites weren’t taken down for being too phallic.

What Nerds Can Teach The Rest Of Us

Nerd communities have seen proof that social justice politics cannot be tolerated, because it will sooner immolate the very institutions it inhabits than tolerate the existence of disparate elements. The utter destruction of the Hugo Awards is a warning not just to nerds, but to Western Civilization that social justice is anti-social, anti-justice, and anti-just about everything else. It is to the body politic what an autoimmune disease is to the human body.

(18) Amy Wallace on Wired – “Who Won Science Fiction’s Hugo Awards, And Why It Matters”

After midnight, Martin announced that for the first time (and hopefully the last) he was bestowing his own awards—dubbed “The Alfies” in honor of Alfred Bester, whose book The Demolished Man won Best Novel at the first-ever Hugos in 1953. “This year all of us were losers,” Martin said, explaining that the Alfies, each made from a streamlined 1950s hood ornament, were his attempt to take a little of the sting off.

Late Saturday, Worldcon released data from a parallel universe, one in which the Puppies hadn’t intervened. That let Martin give trophies to the people who would have been on the ballot, as well as some extra winners decided “by committee, and that committee is me,” Martin said.4 Sci-fi writer Eric Flint got an Alfie for his “eloquence and rationality” in blog posts about the Puppy kerfuffle. So did legendary author Robert Silverberg, who has attended every Worldcon since 1953, just for being himself.

The biggest cheers, though, broke out when Martin honored two people—Annie Bellet and Marko Kloos—who’d been first-time Hugo finalists this year until they withdrew their names. The new data showed Bellet would’ve been on the ballot anyway; the Alfie clearly stunned her. “I want these awards to be about the fiction,” Bellet said, “and that was important enough to me to give one up.”

The final Alfie of the night went to Kloos, a German-born writer (now he lives in New Hampshire), for turning down his Puppy-powered nomination and making room for the winner, The Three-Body Problem. “I may get nominated again,” he said after shaking Martin’s hand. “But knowing why I got this and who gave it to me—tonight, this beats the shit out of that rocket.”

(19) Damien G. Walter on The Guardian – “Diversity wins as the Sad Puppies lose at the Hugo awards”

While we can write off the Sad Puppies as the clown show they proved to be, we should also give them a tiny thank you for the result of their actions. For many years, it was possible for sci-fi fans to thoughtlessly dismiss their diversity failure. When the sci-fi imprint Tor UK published (statistically incomplete) data blaming the lack of diversity in genre on a shortage of submissions, many hundreds of fans took to social mediaf to voice all the commonly heard excuses (“women just don’t write science fiction” and so on). The real problem for writers from any excluded background is not the extreme chauvinism of people like the Sad Puppies. It’s the general apathy to the entire issue of diversity which so often silences new authors from different backgrounds.

So. Thank you Sad Puppies. You have woken sci-fi fandom from its slumber and proved that diversity in sci-fi really is a problem. There will never be another WorldCon or Hugo awards where diversity is not addressed. Diversity will now be carried to every new world and parallel dimension we visit. And sci-fi writing will be all the stronger for it. The future of humankind is global and many-hued. By reflecting that reality, sci-fi makes itself a fit literature for and of the future.

(20) Andrew Wheeler on Comics Alliance – ‘Ms. Marvel’ Wins at Hugo Awards Dogged by Politics

The sci-fi and fantasy prose fiction that dominates the Hugos and the WSFW has experienced a steady progressive evolution in recent years, with more diversity in both talent and output — a phenomenon that may feel familiar to comics fans. Sci-fi has always provided intellectual refuge for liberal-minded writers and fans, but only recently have those writers made serious inroads into the sci-fi establishment.

The Sad Puppies exist as a reaction to that shift, but while the gradual liberalization of sci-fi has been organic and rooted in fandom, the conservative backlash was deliberately orchestrated to place politics first. The balance of the final ballot shows there was no organized liberal bloc vote equivalent to the Sad Puppies’ efforts, with several popular minority writers surprisingly absent.

Supporters of the Sad Puppies effort have indicated that the failure of their nominees to win any awards vindicates their belief that the Hugo Awards put politics ahead of quality, but of course, it demonstrates the reverse; the Sad Puppies nominees were chosen because of their politics first, and the voters were right to reject them.

(21) Vox Day is getting to work on next year. But then you knew that.

“Of this, that, and the other thing”

All right, a few things that require addressing. First, the Closed Brainstorm meeting to discuss the 2016 strategy will be Thursday, August 27th, at 7 PM EST. Annual and pre-existing monthly members only, since we don’t want to share our thoughts with the SJWs. No decisions will be made, this is simply what it’s called, a brainstorm session. I’ll also share some information about the No Award vote that has been brought to light; still working on documentation.

(22) Stephen Wise – “Hugo Awards and Politics”

The backlash against the Bad (and Rabid) Puppies resulted in 5 awards going to no one. Did the authors who were nominated for Best Novella, Short Story, Related Work, Editor Short Form, and Editor Long Form deserve the nomination? Perhaps. Was cheating the cause of them to be nominees in the first place? That’s the public perception. So by voting No Award, the 5950 members of World Science Fiction Society essentially said that they didn’t want politics in play for the Hugos. But it’s unfortunate that there may have been deserving authors who were cheated out of this recognition thanks to the maneuverings of a few individuals. Would I have voted the same? Probably. Because once an award is contaminated, there is no rightful winner. And once you start playing political games, then the award itself becomes invalid.

(23) Foz Meadows on Shattersnipe: Malcontent & Rainbow – “Hugos & Puppies: Peeling The Onion”

I guess what I want to say is this: despite what the Puppies think, the rest of us aren’t interested in diversity without quality, and as we’re all acutely aware, the failure mode of diversity is stereotype, which concept isn’t exactly on handshake terms with quality in the first place. That we want to celebrate historically silenced voices and perspectives doesn’t mean we’re doing so purely to spite you, or that we’ve lost all sense of judgement: if our tastes extend to seeing in fiction those versions of ourselves you’re disinclined to write, then who are you to tell us we aren’t entitled to our preferences? Nobody is saying you can’t tell your stories; we just might not want to read them, the same as you evidently have no desire to read ours. That’s not the genre being attacked – it’s the genre changing, and whether you change with it or not, we’re still going to like what we like.

Stop fighting the riptide, Puppies. As any Australian could tell you, it’s the surest way to drown.

(24) Space Squid – “The Squiddies Quiz”

[Question 5 of 12.]

Are you on your game? Do you have all the right high-fashion cosplay accessories? Do your boardgaming moves bring all the boys to the yard? Warning: If you’re not up on the 2015 Hugos dustup, you might want to bing up “hugo is sad in 2015” before daring the rigors of the quiz.

  1. You’re the Hugo Awards czar. After your awards got disgraced, it’s time to pick a new award design to replace the shiny silver rocket. Your best choice is: a) a shiny silver rocket encrusted with poop b) a bronze sculpture of an imaginary multi-ethnic group of scifi writers holding hands around the earth c) a shiny silver rocket ejecting certain unnamed persons into space d) a gold-plated carjacking diorama

[Thanks to David K.M. Klaus and Editor D for some of these links.]

Pixel Scroll 7/31 Happy Hour at Paulk’s Tavern

Lions roar, kittens tweet, and other animals make noise in today’s Scroll.

(1) Recommended – Gregory Benford reviews Kim Stanley Robinson’s Aurora in “Envision Starflight Failing”.

Aurora depicts a starship on a long voyage to Tau Ceti four centuries from now. It is shaped like a car axle, with two large wheels turning for centrifugal gravity. The biomes along their rims support many Earthly lifezones which need constant tending to be stable. They’re voyaging to Tau Ceti, so the ship’s name is a reference to Isaac Asimov’s The Naked Sun, which takes place on a world orbiting Tau Ceti named Aurora. Arrival at the Earthlike moon of a super-Earth primary brings celebration, exploration, and we see just how complex an interstellar expedition four centuries from now can be, in both technology and society.

In 2012, Robinson declared in a Scientific American interview that “It’s a joke and a waste of time to think about starships or inhabiting the galaxy. It’s a systemic lie that science fiction tells the world that the galaxy is within our reach.” Aurora spells this out through unlikely plot devices. Robinson loads the dice quite obviously against interstellar exploration. A brooding pessimism dominates the novel.

There are scientific issues that look quite unlikely, but not central to the novel’s theme. A “magnetic scissors” method of launching a starship seems plagued with problems, for example. But the intent is clear through its staging and plot.

I’ll discuss the quality of the argument Aurora attempts, with spoilers.

 

 

(2) Spacefaring Kitten is one of many people posting their Hugo ballot today, but one of the few who has an interesting analysis of my favorite category.

Best Fanzine

  1. Journey Planet
  2. Tangent SF Online
  3. Elitist Book Reviews
  4. No Award
  5. The Revenge of Hump Day

Journey Planet is easily the most interesting of these publications. Black Gate would have been able to put up a fight here, but they chose to withdraw because of Puppy-related embarrassment.

Tangent SF Online and The Revenge of Hump Day were probably on the Puppy ballots as a sort of payback for, respectively, the public outcry following Tangent’s umm… let us say fatherly review of the Women Destroy Science Fiction issue of Lightspeed and the disinvitation of Tim Bolgeo (the guy behind The Revenge of Hump Day) as a Fan Guest of Honor in Archon after accusations of racism. However, I chose to place Tangent second and well above No Award, because I think all venues in which short SFF fiction is discussed are important.

As far as I can see, Tangent’s short fiction reviews are quite good, even if the editor’s attitudes smell a bit aged. Take a look at their 2014 Recommended Reading List, for example. Tangent lists noteworthy stories in four categories (0, 1, 2 and 3 stars), and I couldn’t resist counting that together all the 14 Puppy finalists get four mentions and one star. In contrast, the five short story nominations I made myself (none of which made the final ballot, obviously) collect three mentions and eight stars. The Tangent seems like a useful resource for finding the sort of fiction I’d enjoy, and I plan to take a look at some of the three-star stories I haven’t read yet.

There was nothing terribly amiss with Elitist Book Reviews either, even though they seem to generally like books that I don’t and I found their practice of discussing recommended age and levels of offensive language, violence and sex amusingly over-protective. You don’t really have to be 16 to be able to read a curse word, do you? However, they’re number three.

 

(3) By now I think everybody has seen Adam Roberts’ cheery thoughts about the Hugos in the Guardian:

What the Puppies have done is within the rules of the awards, and key figures in the movement have already declared their intention to repeat the process next year. But this is larger than one set of awards. It is about the direction of science-fiction as a whole, and it poses larger cultural questions.

The truth is that this year’s Hugo awards are wrecked. Can you imagine anyone saying that of the Pulitzer, Man Booker, or Nobel? Yet here we are, and if the Puppies succeed in gaming the awards again in 2016 we may as well give up on the Hugos forever.

This is what is so frustrating about the Puppies’ campaign. Not that it has resulted in a bunch of frankly inferior works being shortlisted – although it has. And not that it values old-fashioned SF over more experimental, literary and progressive writing – that’s a matter of taste. What is so annoying is that it so ostentatiously turns its back on the global context out of which the best writing is happening today.

 

Can it be true that Roberts values rhetoric about diversity over rules changes that preserve it as a possibility?

(4) The Guardian article sure revived Larry Correia! Yesterday’s limp “fisking” of The New Yorker’s Delany interview has been succeeded his vibrant smackdown “Fisking the Guardian’s Latest Sad Puppy Article of the Week”. Correia’s remarks in boldface, Guardian text in regular text.

Considering that the Hugo awards hadn’t even ever nominated a single work of media tie in fiction until Sad Puppies came along, I don’t know where the hell you’re getting this idea that the insular little inbred cliques were combing the whole world for worthy new talent before. Hell, I believe the first ever INDY PUBLISHED novel nomination came from Sad Puppies, and you expect that little cliquish circle jerk of friends who’ve been taking turns giving each other awards, to suddenly teach themselves Spanish in order to check out the best sci-fi from Uruguay? 

This whole train of thought is just a stupid diversion. The Guardian is just being its normal snooty self. Look at us, we read MOAR GLOBALLY (no, actually, they probably don’t. From inaccuracies in previous articles about various classics we’re already pretty sure Damien skates by reading Wikipedia synopsis of books and then pretending to be well read). 

Science fiction, if it is about anything, is about hospitality to otherness,

Just not conservatives or libertarians, because screw those guys.

 to the alien and the unusual, about freeing one’s mind and boldly going where no one has been before. It is, centrally, about diversity. Locking out women writers, writers of colour, gay and trans writers does a violence to the heart of the genre.

That concluding paragraph is just regurgitated tripe.  We’re not the ones trying to lock out anyone. Female, “writers of colour” (oh how I hate that stupid racist term), gay, trans, left handed ginger pygmy wolf-riding garden squirrels, WE DON’T CARE. Write books. Entertain people. Fans get to judge books by the content of their pages rather than the author’s bio. Then give the really good ones awards.

This isn’t exactly rocket science, not that you jackasses didn’t literally try to make actual fucking rocket science all about sexism too.

If the Puppies win, nobody wins.

No. The Puppies would win. That’s sort of what the word win means, dumbass.

 

 

(5) Sasquan guest astronaut Kjell Lindgren is at the International Space Station.

 

(6) Mark your calendars. Vox Day has announced the release date for his next project:

This is interesting. Apparently the SJWs are more than a little worried about my upcoming book, SJWS ALWAYS LIE: Taking Down the Thought Police….

Just wait until August 27th, the one-year anniversary of #GamerGate, which I plan to celebrate by publishing the book.

You read it here first. Or possibly second. But more likely first. Maybe you can leave town that day – does Kjell Lindgren have a spare cot?

(7) The Final Interview of C. S. Lewis, conducted by Sherwood Eliot Wirt, appeared in Decision magazine in September 1963.

From Part I —

Wirt: How can we foster the encounter of people with Jesus Christ?

Lewis: “You can’t lay down any pattern for God. There are many different ways of bringing people into his Kingdom, even some ways that I specially dislike! I have therefore learned to be cautious in my judgment.

“But we can block it in many ways. As Christians we are tempted to make unnecessary concessions to those outside the faith. We give in too much. Now, I don’t mean that we should run the risk of making a nuisance of ourselves by witnessing at improper times, but there comes a time when we must show that we disagree. We must show our Christian colors, if we are to be true to Jesus Christ. We cannot remain silent or concede everything away.

“There is a character in one of my children’s stories named Aslan, who says, ‘I never tell anyone any story except his own.’ I cannot speak for the way God deals with others; I only know how he deals with me personally. Of course, we are to pray for spiritual awakening, and in various ways we can do something toward it. But we must remember that neither Paul nor Apollos gives the increase. As Charles Williams once said, ‘The altar must often be built in one place so that the fire may come down in another place.’”

In Part II, Lewis answers questions about Heaven, Earth and Outer Space.

Wirt: Do you think there will be widespread travel in space?

Lewis: “I look forward with horror to contact with the other inhabited planets, if there are such. We would only transport to them all of our sin and our acquisitiveness, and establish a new colonialism. I can’t bear to think of it. But if we on earth were to get right with God, of course, all would be changed. Once we find ourselves spiritually awakened, we can go to outer space and take the good things with us. That is quite a different matter.”

[Thanks to JJ, Gregory Benford, and John King Tarpinian for some of these links. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day JJ.]

Sweeny Terrier: The Demon Nominator of Slate Street 6/28

aka Dandelion Whine

In the roundup today: Vox Day, Gary Denton, Spacefaring Kitten, Alexander Case, Leonie Rogers, D. Douglas Fratz, S.C. Flynn, A.J. Blakemont, Kary English, Damnien G. Walter, Mark Ciocco and Declan Finn. (Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editors of the day ULTRAGOTHA and May Tree.)

Grimlock * The Vision

“Sad Puppies, Rabid Puppies, Irene Gallo and Jim Butcher…” – June 28

Jim Butcher takes a lot of offense at what Gallo said, and yet he stands up for her when people harass her: ….

Classy, Mr. Butcher.   Very, very classy.

I’ll be reading more of the books I have, even though I was like, ‘meh.’  I keep thinking I might because I heard they got better, and now I want to do it to support Butcher for standing up against harassment, even when he was offended by that person.

 

Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“I don’t care what you do” – June 28

Rabid Puppies is not, and has never been, a marketing campaign of any kind. We don’t need it. Rabid Puppies is about one thing and one thing only: to prevent the SJWs in science fiction from imposing their thought-police on the genre. I’m no more interested in marketing myself in this regard than Charles Martel was when he led the Franks against the Umayyads.
As several of the VFM have pointed out, the SJWs have it all backwards. They have to think that I am somehow duping thousands of idiots and fools into openly opposing them because the alternative is to accept how massively unpopular they are and how dismally their decades-long campaign to tell people what science fiction they may and may not read has failed.

 

 

Spacefaring Kitten on Spacefaring, Extradimensional Happy Kittens

“Kitten/Puppy Dialogues (on America)” – June 28

I have to say. In my opinion, Captain America is a boring, one-dimensional (well, I did claim he is zero-dimensional, but I’m not sure if that’s possible) character. Therefore, you seem to think, I also want all men put down. There’s a logical leap I don’t quite follow. I also don’t think you should do too hasty conclusions about what my gender is, because you know nothing about it.

But let’s dissect your statement a bit further.

What I’m actually disliking here is a Hugo finalist that was not on either of the two Puppy slates you’re probably promoting. In fact, I believe Captain America: The Winter Soldier was plugged by some actual, outspoken feminists, such as the smart and wonderful Book Smugglers Ana and Thea. For the record, I don’t think they are in league with the imperialist patriarchy there. Rather, they and I have a somewhat different taste as far as superhero movies are concerned.

I have every reason to believe that the Puppy-supported Hugo finalists Lego Movie, Guardians of the Galaxy and Interstellar will all be better, even though I haven’t seen the first two of them yet. What I know of them so far seems promising. A Puppy supporter criticizing me for this seems odd.

 

Alexander Case on Breaking It All Down

“Small thing bugging me about the Hugo Awards” – June 28

All You Need Is Kill, by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, is published in English by Haikasoru in 2004. Gets an nomination for the Seiun Awards (Japanese version of the Hugos) in its home country, nothing at the Hugo awards.

Then, All You Need Is Kill gets a manga adaptation, with art by Takeshi Obata (of Death Note and Bakuman fame), which is published in the US by Viz in 2014 – both volumes and an all-in-one omnibus. Does not get a Hugo nomination for Best Graphic Novel.

The film version, on the other hand, with a white director, white stars, white screenwriter, and which generally is as white as hell, gets a Hugo Award nomination for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form.

That doesn’t seem right to me.

To be clear, I’m glad the film was nominated. However, the lack of nominations for any versions of the story made by, you know, Japanese people, gives a vibe that the only way a work of Japanese speculative fiction can get for a Hugo Award.

 

 

Leonie Rogers

“Frustrated” – June 28

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been working my way through the packet – which is what Hugo voters get in case they haven’t read the appropriate nominations. (I might add that I’m a prolific reader of Spec Fic, but there’s so much stuff to read, that I just don’t have enough time to read it all, so a lot of the stuff in the packet is quite new to me.)

The title of this post is ‘Frustrated.’ And I am. I’ve read quite a few Hugo nominees and winners over the many years I’ve been reading Spec Fic, and I’ve enjoyed pretty well all of it in all its varied forms. But this lot? I’m struggling through a lot of it. I’ve read all the short stories and novelettes and most of the novellas. Ho hum. Sigh. Honestly….sigh….

As an early career writer myself, I appreciate good writing. I also know that I don’t always get it right, but I really thought Hugo nominees would have it down pat. Nope. Or at least not this lot. Don’t get me wrong, there are some decent stories, and some of them are decently written, but so far, the vast majority are not exciting me at all. And as far as a couple of them go, they’re not well written at all.

I do have to thank the Hugo Packet for introducing me to Ms Marvel, though. I will actively go out and find more of her. (Apart from Phantom comics, I haven’t really read a lot of graphic novels.) In the meantime, I will continue to slog through the rest of the packet, hoping to find a gem here and there. Then I shall vote accordingly. On the upside, I’m feeling pretty happy about some of my own short stories right now….

 

D. Douglas Fratz on SF Site

“The Alienated Critic: Wherein the columnist endeavors to make restitution for his most recent profound death of productivity and steps into the fray on Puppygate”

As a result of all this, the Hugo Awards are now famous outside the field for all the wrong reasons. The New Republic even covered Puppygate, and sensible blogs were written by top authors — most notably serial blogs by George R. R. Martin — that made sure all of broader fandom knew what had happened. Connie Willis, Robert Silverberg, David Gerrold, and other deans of SF have all weighed in with level-headed views. The big losers here, of course, are the many fine authors who produced superior works in 2014 that should have been nominated, including many mentioned above, and we will know who they were when the full voting is announced.

But we all lost here. In the past, I would estimate that 90 percent of those nominated on the Hugo ballot are among the top 10 percent of candidates, making it a reliable index of quality. Everyone who relies on the Hugo Nominations and results to help choose future reading lost something this year. (Also everyone who wishes that those hours Martin, Willis, Silverberg, and others spent addressing the issue were used to write new fiction!) Thank goodness there are still other awards, including the Locus Awards and even the sometimes quirky Nebula awards, for this purpose. I hope that the Worldcon administrators will find a way to prevent future block voting, but there is some chance that (like our own government’s counter-terrorism policies) the solutions will simply make things slightly worse for all. Which is, in the end, just what terrorists seek to have happen.

 

S.C. Flynn on Scy-Fy

“Interview with A.J. Blakemont” – June 28

SCy-Fy: Thanks! What potential traps do you see in SFF blogging?

AJB: Let’s be respectful! It is always possible to express one’s opinion or disagreement without hurting other people’s feelings. SF fans tend to be passionate and opinionated, and, sometimes, they get carried away. The current debate about the Hugos is a good example. No one owns the truth: not me, not you, not this guy with hundreds of thousands of followers. No one….

SCy-Fy: Posts of yours that have had the most impact or controversy?

AJB: My recent post on the Hugos: “Is the system broken?” caused controversy. Sad Puppies’ campaign manager wrote to me. Something tells me that my chances of being nominated for a Hugo are close to zero. Well, fortunately I care naught for awards! A writer should care only about readers, period. I wanted my readers to hear my opinion, and if it means being at variance with influential people in fandom, so be it.

 

Kary English

“An open letter to Puppies and everyone” – June 28

If you read Totaled and loved it enough to nominate it, thank you. That’s exactly how the Hugos are supposed to work, and it shouldn’t matter to me or anyone whether you identify as a Puppy or not. So if you’re one of those readers, then rock on. I am humbled and grateful for your support.

But as we know, Bob, there was a push this year to nominate things sometimes without having read them, and for reasons that had little to do with fannish enthusiasm. I never asked to be part of that, and had I been given the choice, I would not have wanted my work used that way.

I’m also not comfortable with the ballot sweep. My sense from the Sad Puppies is that locking up the ballot was never one of the goals of the movement, and that it was accidental, unintentional and unforeseen. If I’m wrong, and nominating five works in some of the categories was a deliberate attempt to sweep the ballot, then I wouldn’t have wanted to be part of that, either.

The Hugos should represent all voices, so if Sad Puppies is about drawing attention to works that might otherwise be overlooked, I can support that and I’m happy to stand for it. But if it’s about shutting out other voices and other work, if it’s about politics or pissing off certain segments of fandom, that’s not something I can get behind.

The whole point of fandom is that our love for the genre unites us. It’s about having a place where genre is paramount, where literature comes first. So if that’s who you are, and that’s what you want, then I’m with you. That’s why I invited everyone to talk about books here on my blog.

But if you’re in this with some other agenda, take it elsewhere. I don’t want to be part of it.

 

Kary English on Facebook – June 28

Here’s what I hope will be my final comment on the Hugos.

As a result of this statement, I have been delisted from Vox Day’s voting preferences, which is fine with me since I never agreed to be part of that in the first place…..

 

Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“Hugo Recommendations: Best Short Story” – June 28

This is how I am voting in the Best Short Story category. Of course, I offer this information regarding my individual ballot for no particular reason at all, and the fact that I have done so should not be confused in any way, shape, or form with a slate or a bloc vote, much less a direct order by the Supreme Dark Lord of the Evil Legion of Evil to his 386 Vile Faceless Minions or anyone else.

  1. “Turncoat”, Steve Rzasa (Riding the Red Horse, Castalia House)
  2. “The Parliament of Beasts and Birds”, John C. Wright (The Book of Feasts & Seasons, Castalia House)
  3. “On A Spiritual Plain”, Lou Antonelli (Sci Phi Journal #2, 11-2014)
  4. “A Single Samurai”, Steven Diamond (The Baen Big Book of Monsters, Baen Books)

 

Mark Ciocco on Kaedrin Weblog

“Hugo Awards: Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form” – June 28

…. This year, we have at least two nominees that were deserving (and that didn’t have Upstream‘s impenetrable style), including Coherence (to be fair, there are some eligibility concerns on that one), The One I Love, and maybe even Snowpiercer (a film I kinda hated, but it seems up the voters’ alley). Alas, they did not make it, and to be sure, Hollywood had a pretty good year, putting out plenty of genuinely good movies. Indeed, I even nominated 3 of these, so I guess I shouldn’t complain! My vote will go something like this (I’m going to be partially quoting myself on some of these, with some added comments more specific to the Hugos)….

[Comments on all five nominees.]

 

[Very brave, Declan, pretending what I said about you was addressed to Sad Puppies in general. Now go and change your armor…]

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.

 

Houndation 6/7

aka “Let’s get Sirius!”

In today’s roundup: Andrew Liptak, Jim C. Hines, Damien G. Walter, Tom Knighton, David Gerrold, Irene Gallo, Brad R. Torgersen, Sarah A. Hoyt, Vox Day, Michael Z. Williamson, Markov Kern, bhalsop, sciphi, Jonathan LaForce, Cedar Sanderson, Amanda S. Green, Jon F. Zeigler, C. E. Petit, Lis Carey, Rebekah Golden, Mark Ciocco, amd George R.R. Martin. (Title credit belongs to Whym and Anna Nimmhaus.)

Andrew Liptak on io9

“Women Dominate The 2015 Nebula Awards” – June 7

Takeaways from this? With the exception of the Best Novel award, women swept the slate in all other categories, notable in light of the Sad/Rabid Puppies controversy with this year’s Hugo Awards.

 

Jim C. Hines

“Puppies in Their Own Words” – June 7

I’ve spent several hours on this, which is ridiculous. I don’t even know why, except that I’m frustrated by all of the “I never said…” “He really said…” “No he didn’t, you’re a lying liar!” “No, you’re the lying liar!” and so on.

An infinite number of monkeys have said an infinite number of things about the Hugos this year. People on all sides have said intelligent and insightful things, and people on all sides have said asinine things. The amount of words spent on this makes the Wheel of Time saga look like flash fiction. File770 has been doing an admirable job of posting links to the ongoing conversation.

I wanted to try to sort through the noise and hone in on what Correia and Torgersen themselves have been saying. As the founder and current leader, respecitvely, of the Sad Puppies, it seems fair to look to them for what the puppy campaign is truly about…..

So are Brad and Larry racist? Sexist? Homophobic? What about their slates?

I don’t see an active or conscious effort to shut out authors who aren’t straight white males.

I do see that the effect of the slates was to drastically reduce the number of women on the final ballots.

Torgersen made a now-infamously homophobic remark about John Scalzi, which he later apologized for. I don’t see this as suggesting Torgersen is a frothing bigot; it does suggest he has some homophobic attitudes or beliefs he should probably reexamine and work on.

More central to the Sad Puppies, when I see Brad railing against “affirmative action” fiction, I see a man who seems utterly incapable of understanding sometimes people write “non-default” characters not because they’re checking off boxes on a quota, but because those are the stories they want to tell, and the characters they want to write about. Dismissing all of those amazing, wonderful, and award-winning stories as nothing but affirmative-action cases? Yeah, that’s sounds pretty bigoted to me.

 

 

 

David Gerrold on Facebook – June 7

Here’s how self-fulfilling paranoia works.

Decide that something has been taken away from you — even if it hasn’t. And even if you were never entitled to it in the first place.

Then, find a group of someones to blame for taking it away from you — even if they had nothing to do with your perceived loss. (Women, LGBTs, People of Color, SJWs, liberals, whatever.) Make sure it’s a big important group with big important members.

Appoint that group — it has to be a group — the enemy. Accuse them of horrible behaviors. This is the important step. You can’t be a victim without a persecutor. So you have to say or do something so egregious that the other guys will have to respond. Their response is the proof that you are being persecuted. Even if their response is, “Huh? Who are you?” — that’s just evidence that they’ve been deliberately ignoring your importance.

As soon as you engage that very big, very important group in a dialog, you achieve credibility — theirs. You are obviously just as important as they are. The more they engage with you, the more they respond to you, the more important you are. Therefore — you must continue to escalate so as to use up more and more of their time, so as to prove just how truly truly truly big and powerful and important you are.

When the other side brings out facts, logic, evidence, rational thought, and methodical deconstruction, you must repeat your original claims, change the subject, make new charges, or point to this as evidence of their continuing persecution. The more you do this, the more followers you will attract. Everybody loves the underdog — it’s your job to be the persecuted underdog.

This tactic works for any political or social position. It worked for extreme-left activist groups in the sixties and seventies — it eventually marginalized them out of the political process. They had to grow up or get out.

 

Irene Gallo on Facebook – May 11

[Here is a direct link. Perhaps it was always public and I just didn’t scroll back far enough when I searched yesterday.]

 

Irene Gallo in a comment on Facebook – June 6

Not friends, rest assured. And ZOMG, teeth! Somehow this got dug up from early last month and pitchforks are out. And since then more people are aware of, and excited about, the upcoming Hurley book. So as long as the thread lasts, we’re spreading the good news.

 

Brad R. Torgersen in a comment on Facebook – June 6

Irene Gallo, I am going to ask a question, and I expect a response other than a cat picture non sequitur. How did you arrive at your conclusion that Sad Puppies is “neo nazi”?

 

Sarah A. Hoyt on According To Hoyt

“Shout it from the rooftops” – June 7

However, let’s be clear: mud sticks. Get something associated with unspeakable sins like “racism, sexism, homophobia” and the idiots will go on repeating it forever, no matter how often it’s disproved. This is how they came up with the notion that Brad Torgersen is in an interracial marriage to disguise his racism, or that Sad Puppies is about pushing women and minorities from the ballot, even though the suggested authors include both women and minorities. And I’m not sure what has been said about me. Echoes have reached back, such as a gay friend emailing me (joking. He’s not stupid, and he was mildly upset on my behalf) saying he’d just found out I wanted to fry all gay people in oil and that he needed a safe room just to email me from. Then there was the German Fraulein who has repeatedly called me a Fascist (you know, those authoritarian libertari—wait, what?) and her friends who declared Kate and I the world’s worst person (we’re one in spirit apparently) as well as calling me in various twitter storms a “white supremacist” (which if you’ve met me is really funny.) A friend told me last week that he defended me on a TOR editor’s thread. I don’t even know what they were saying about me there. I make it a point of not following all the crazy around, so I have some mental space to write from.

However, enough people have told me about attacks, that I know my name as such is tainted with the publishing establishment (not that I care much, mind) and that some of it might leak to the reading public (which is why G-d gave us pennames.)….

This feebleness of mind was in stunning display recently in the Facebook page of one Irene Gallo, Creative Director at TOR. (I hope that’s an art-related thing. Or do they think authors need help being creative?)….

Note that those statements are so wrong they’re not even in the same universe we inhabit. Note also that when she talks about “bad to reprehensible” stories pushed into the ballot by the Sad Puppies, she’s talking about one of her house’s own authors, a multiple bestseller, and also of John C. Wright who works for her house as well.

Note also that when one of my fans jumped in and tried to correct the misconceptions, she responded with daft cat pictures.

 

 

 

 

 

bhalsop

“Tor and Sad/Rabid Puppies” – June 7

There is a war going on in the blogosphere between certain employees of Tor, the once great publisher of scifi/fantasy, and the proponents of alternate slates for the Hugo, the Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies. I have watched it with some interest, since I am undoubtedly one of those the Puppies in general would not like, but I have found their position actually has merit.

There was a time, many years ago, when one could buy a book honored with the Hugo award and know that the book would be well written, well edited, and thought provoking. This has not been the case for several years, I am sorry to report. In fact, there was a time, again many years ago, that one could buy a book published by Tor, and have a good read that might be thought provoking but was at minimum a good story well told. This is sadly no longer the case. I used to buy a Tor book even if the blurb wasn’t particularly inviting, because I trusted Tor. This is no longer the case.

Tor employees have attacked the Sad/Rabid Puppies as racist, misogynist, right wing whackos. The fact is that this reviling became much louder after the Sad Puppy slate won most of the Hugo niminations. What? They outvoted you? Doesn’t this sound like the Republicans after our current president was elected? Are you sure you want to go there?

 

sciphi on Superversive SF

“Irene Gallo, #Sadpuppies, #Gamergate and Tor” – June 7

What I find particularly insulting is that I have been following #Gamergate for quite a while, since at least Internet Aristocrats original Quinnspiracy videos, and I am extremely right wing (Nazi’s and Neo-Nazi’s aren’t though, fascists really were/are kissing cousins of socialists), and I can tell you for a fact that the talking heads of #Gamergate like Sargon of Akkad are thorough going leftwing moderates, they just aren’t frothing at the mouth SJW’s (I guess that makes them “far-right” in SJW land). I’m insulted as an arch conservative and reactionary to be regarded as basically the same as such thorough going hippies.

 

Jonathan LaForce on Mad Genius Club

“Dear Tor” – June 7

Tor, let’s face facts: that you repeatedly allow straw man makers like John Scalzi to have a place in your stable, even as he vainly justifies his arrogant idiocy is absurd.  To allow bigots like NK Jemisin bully pulpits without regard for fact or truth is wrong.  To encourage people to put one-star reviews on Amazon, simply because you don’t like an author’s politics, rather than because you didn’t like the story is not only disgusting, it is a willful manipulation of the Amazon rating system.

Whereas I believe in the principles of the free market, I don’t want to see somebody create new laws over this.  We already have government invading our bedrooms, our computers and our bank accounts daily.  No, ladies and gentlemen, instead I ask you this:

Don’t buy anything made by TOR. Not pamphlets. Not novels, not audiobooks.  Not even if it’s free.  Let Tor know that they do not decide what we want as fans of science fiction and fantasy.  Instead, I ask that those of you whom trust my opinion cease to buy their products ever again.  Show them that in the end, the consumer drives the market. Why? Because nobody can make you buy anything.  Not health care, not books, not movies. NOT A SINGLE DAMN THING.

In older times, a bard who couldn’t sing or orate well, much less properly play an instrument (in short, when the bard could not perform well, the crowd kicked him out. And he went hungry until he got better or he died from starvation. Or he found a new profession that he was actually good at.

 

Tom Knighton

“Tor Creative Director bashes Tor authors among others” – June 7

Based on how she phrased this, she’s implying that that both Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies are extreme right wing to neo-Nazis.  Now, I generally don’t defend Rabid Puppies because Vox is a big boy and can fight his own battles, and since I’m not part of that group I really can’t speak for it. Vox has seen this, and I suspect he’ll jump in soon enough.

As a Sad Puppy, I’m freaking pissed.

First, I’m sick of being called “unrepentantly racist, mysogynist, and homophobic” simply because I don’t like their taste in books or because I disagree with them about what the government should spend its money doing.  It’s funny, because these are the same people who bitch about “slut shaming” or “fat shaming” or whatever, but now they’re trying to “thought shame”, like we’re horrid human beings just because we don’t trip over ourselves on identity issues.  No evidence, no examples, nothing except libelous rhetoric.  Nothing….

I’ve read multiple times that Tor isn’t so much a publishing house as a series of editorial fiefdoms, a confederation of miniature publishing houses under a single roof and a shared marketing and art department.  If that’s true, then there probably isn’t a lot of oversight on these kinds of things, so I really don’t think there will be any kind of change.

 

Cedar Sanderson

“Fear and Loathing at TOR” – June 7

Almost since the advent of the internet, there have been warnings about what to say – or not – on it. The internet is a vast and mostly public arena. Imagine, if you can, standing in Grand Central Station and screaming slurs at the top of your lungs, while the sane people standing near you back away slowly. Online, this doesn’t happen. One person starts screaming and frothing at the mouth, and others are drawn like moths to the flame to scream along with them.

This is disturbing and upsetting, but it is easy enough to avoid this kind of behaviour if you want to (and some like to troll-bait. Personally, I find it unkind to taunt the mentally ill and don’t stoop to pillorying their personal lives). On occasion, though, we are not dealing with a lone individual, but one that is tied to a corporate identity. And this situation is why most reputable companies have policies in place about the use of social media. Because when a person using their real name, which can easily be tied to their workplace, starts to cast slurs on their own colleagues, not to mention large sections of the business’s client base, that can reflect very badly on their employer.

 

Amanda S. Green on Nocturnal Lives

“Interrupting my vacation and not happy about it” – June 7

But what galls me is how she calls us “Extreme right-wing to Neo-Nazi”. To begin with, if she were to really look at who wound up on the final ballot, especially those backed by the Sad Puppies, she would see that there are conservative, libertarian AND liberals represented. There are women and minorities. If I remember correctly, not everyone on the ballot is straight. (I don’t remember because I don’t care what a person’s sexual preference. It has nothing to do with their ability as a writer.)

Then there is the personal reaction. Ms. Gallo doesn’t know me and I don’t know her. So she doesn’t understand what sort of wound she opened for my family by calling me “extreme right-wing to Neo-Nazi”. My family comes from Germany and the Netherlands. Fortunately, the family was here before Hitler came to power. But they remember what it was like living in parts of this country and having to defend themselves because they had a Germanic last name. Nazism is and always will be a personal anathema to my family and to be called a follower of that hated philosophy/government is beyond acceptable.

Did she commit slander or libel? No. Did she consider the impact her words would have on other people? I don’t know. Part of me wants to believe that she did not but I have my doubts. She used a number of “trigger” words in her response, words meant to create a negative impression. She did not consider or care about how her allegation would impact fans of those authors she was condemning nor did she apparently think or care about how such a hateful allegation could possibly lead to termination of employment.

 

 

C. E. Petit on Scrivener’s Error

“Pre-Road-Kill Link Sausages” – June 6

There’s a proposal to tweak Hugo voting rules somewhat jocularly labelled E Pluribus Hugo that I cannot support, for three reasons. First, it depends upon accepting the proposition that a popular vote among those who pay a poll tax to vote is the best way to determine actual quality. (I’d be probably be more supportive if the Hugos themselves were renamed from “Best” to “Favorite.”) Second, it does nothing whatsoever to deal with the far-more-serious problems of source restrictiveness and the inept calendar (really? for an award issued in late August, we start nominations in January?). Third, at a fundamental level it fails to engage with the dynamics of cliquishness (for both real and imagined cliques, I should note) that are at issue; in fact, it bears a disturbing resemblance to the evolution of voting patterns in Jim Crow country following passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1964, if not with the same obvious discriminatory animus.

I think this proposal has been put forth in good faith, in a highly conservative attempt to retain, and even reify, a particular (and wildly inaccurate) fannish/SMOFish perception of what the Hugos “are” and “mean.” The irony of that characterization is intentional, especially compared to the various canine complaints; it is obvious, disturbing, and all too typical of attempts to tweak selection mechanisms without pondering what is being selected… and whether that requires a farther-reaching change.

 

Rebekah Golden

“Reviewing; Meta Post” – June 7

This goes back to my post about Totaled. It was a good story. Had some interesting ideas. Didn’t do it for me and I think the reason why not has to do with compelling questions. Look at Ancillary Justice and the story is full of compelling questions. Then there’s Mono No Aware.

Cutting for spoilers about Mono No Aware, Totaled, and me….

 

Mark Ciocco on Kaedrin Weblog

“Hugo Awards: Short Stories”  – June 7

My feelings on short stories are decidedly mixed, because most of the short fiction I read is from collections that are, by their very nature, uneven. As with Anthology Films, I generally find myself exhausted by the inconsistency. Also, as someone who tends to gravitate towards actual storytelling rather than character sketches or tone poems (or similar exercises in style), a short story can be quite difficult to execute. A lot must be accomplished in a short time, and a certain economy of language is needed to make it all work. There are some people who are great at this sort of thing, but I find them few and far between, so collections of short stories tend to fall short even if they include stories I love. In my experience, the exceptions tend to be collections from a single author, like Asimov’s I, Robot or Barker’s Books of Blood. That being said, I’ve been reading significantly more short fiction lately, primarily because of my participation in the Hugo Awards. I found myself quite disappointed with last year’s nominated slate, so I actually went the extra mile this year and read a bunch of stuff so that I could participate in the nomination portion of the process. Of course, none of my nominees actually made the final ballot. Such is the way of the short story award (with so many options, the votes tend to be pretty widely spread out, hence all the consternation about the Puppy slates which probably gave their recommendations undue influence this year). But is the ballot any better this year? Only one way to find out, and here are the results, in handy voting order:

  1. Totaled by Kary English – Told from the perspective of a brain that has been separated from its body (courtesy of a car accident) and subsequently preserved in a device that presumably resembles that which was used to preserve Walt Disney’s head or something. In the story, this is new technology, so the process is imperfect and while the brain can be kept alive for a significant amount of time, it still only amounts to around 6 months or so. Fortunately, the disembodied brain in question was the woman leading the project, so she’s able to quickly set up a rudimentary communication scheme with her lab partner. Interfaces for sound and visuals are ginned up and successful, but by that point the brain’s deterioration has begun. This could have been one of those pointless tone poems I mentioned earlier, but English keeps things approachable, taking things step by step. The portrayal of a brain separated from the majority of its inputs (and outputs, for that matter), and slowly regaining some measure of them as time goes on, is well done and seems realistic enough. One could view some of the things portrayed here as pessimistic, but I didn’t really read it that way. When the brain deteriorates, she eventually asks to be disconnected before she loses all sense of lucidity (the end of the story starts to lilt into an Algernon-like devolution of language into simplistic quasi-stream of consciousness prose). I suppose this is a form of suicide, but it was inevitable at that point, and the experimental brain-in-a-jar technology allowed for a closure (both in terms of completing some of her research and even seeing her kids again) that would have otherwise been impossible. I found that touching and effective enough that this was a clear winner in the category.

 

Lis Carey at Lis Carey’s Library

“Galactic Suburbia, presented by Alis, Alex, and Tansy” – June 7

http://galactisuburbia.podbean.com/

Another Best Fancast Hugo nominee.

Speculative fiction, publishing news, and chat. This podcast comes to us from Australia, and as far as I can find, they do not reveal their last names anywhere on their website. That’s a shame, because these are very engaging people, and they mention up coming book launches. (Feel free to enlighten me in comments. Please!)

 

George R.R. Martin on Not A Blog

“Reading” – June 7

I also read LINES OF DEPARTURE by Marko Kloos. This was part of the Hugo ballot as originally announced, one of the books put there by the slates… but Kloos, in an act of singular courage and integrity, withdrew. It was his withdrawal that moved THREE-BODY PROBLEM onto the ballot. This is the second book in a series, and I’ve never read the first. Truth be told, I’d never read anything by Kloos before, but I’m glad I read this. It’s military SF, solidly in the tradition of STARSHIP TROOPERS and THE FOREVER WAR. No, it’s not nearly as good as either of those, but it still hands head and shoulders above most of what passes for military SF today. The enigmatic (and gigantic) alien enemies here are intriguing, but aside from them there’s not a lot of originality here; the similarity to THE FOREVER WAR and its three act structure is striking, but the battle scenes are vivid, and the center section, where the hero returns to Earth and visits his mother, is moving and effective. I have other criticisms, but this is not a formal review, and I don’t have the time or energy to expand on them at this point. Bottom line, this is a good book, but not a great one. It’s way better than most of what the Puppies have put on the Hugo ballot in the other categories, but it’s not nearly as ambitious or original as THREE-BODY PROBLEM. Even so, I read this with pleasure, and I will definitely read the next one. Kloos is talented young writer, and I suspect that his best work is ahead of him. He is also a man of principle. I hope he comes to worldcon; I’d like to meet him.

Love in the Time of Collars 5/21

aka “Nobody puts Puppy in a corner.”

Today’s roundup features Rebecca Ann Smith, Nick Mamatas, Vox Day,  Kate Paulk, John C. Wright, Ridley Kemp, Martin Wisse, Damien G. Walter, Lis Carey, Brian Niemeier, Joe Sherry, Tom Kratman, Joe Sherry, Lisa J. Goldstein, Katya Czaja, and Kevin Standlee.  (Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editors of the day Kary English and Hampus Eckerman.)

Rebecca Ann Smith

“Who Owns Popular Culture?” – May 21

Something very weird happened in the run up to this year’s prestigious Hugo awards, voted for by science fiction fans.  In the culmination of a long campaign against what they see as the takeover of the awards by liberals, progressives and feminists, a right-leaning group calling themselves the Sad Puppies, led by author Brad Torgersen, successfully lobbied for an approved slate of books to receive nominations.

Although the Sad Puppies actions are legal within the rules of the Hugos, they have also been controversial.  Some people feel it’s not playing fair, and others are concerned by their motives.

 

Nick Mamatas in a comment on File 770 – May 21

Way back when the ballot was announced, I said that fandom shouldn’t bother trying to change the rules. (Hugo rules change too frequently as it is.) http://nihilistic-kid.livejournal.com/1920331.html

There are three options as far I can tell:

The Hugos being a product a fandom, much of the discussion around “fixing” the issue boils down either angry blog posts about white people (ie, admissions of pathetic whining defeat) or statistical wonkery (ie foolishness). These are all wrongheaded—slating is essentially a political issue, and political issues need political responses. There are three possible ones:

  1. Suck It Up. Probably a pretty good idea. This bed was made some years ago when blogging culture sparked a shift from significant social sanction when people tried to get votes by asking publicly for consideration to “obligatory” posts promoting their own work, and later, the work of their friends. Loud Blogs win; Loud Blogs Plus Online Workshop-Clubhouses win more; and Loud Blogs plus political discipline win even more. Why should only the Loud Bloggers people have decided that they personally like and are “friends”* with win? Eventually, it’ll all even out, especially as what is most likely to happen is that the SPs get nominated and then lose decisively year after year.
  2. Castigate all campaigning, not just the campaigning you don’t like Pandora’s Box isn’t necessarily open forever. However, you can’t close half a lid. It would take significant effort to change widespread attitudes, but it is not as though those attitudes have not changed before. If campaigning was always met with eye-rolling or even outright disgust, it would stop being so effective. Some people would betray and try to promote, but if the audience was inured to such appeals, it just wouldn’t work and hopefuls would eventually stop.
  3. Counter-slates We’ll almost certainly see attempts at counter-slates. I’m against the idea, but the current cry to vote “No Award” in all SP-dominated categories is itself a counter-slate after a fashion. Someone will come up with Happy Kittens and stump for non-binary PoCs or stories with lots of scene breaks or or or…well, that’s the problem. One counter-slate would likely thwart the SPs, more than one would not. And we’re sure to see more than one. Disciplined slate voting works best when only one side does it and the other side isn’t even a side. Two slates split demographically. Three or more, uh… At any rate, it all comes around to political discipline again. If some party were to launch a counter-slate next year, would others who found that slate imperfect let it by without critique and another alternative slate. (There are actually two Puppy slates, but they are largely similar.) There can be slates that are so attractive that many more people sign up to vote for the Hugos, but I strongly suspect that people overestimate the amount of outside “pull” these slates have; general Hugo chatter across blogs and Twitter in general is driving increased education about supporting Worldcon memberships, and then there are all the free books voters might receive, which is also a new thing. One counter-slate would be effective, though of course the cure could be worse than the disease, and more than one would likely not.

So aggrieved Hugo Award followers, which shall it be?

Two is still the best bet.

 

Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“Three options” – May 21

[Commenting on Nick Mamatas’ analysis above.]

This is at least dealing with observable reality, unlike those who fantasize that tinkering with the rules is going to slow down any group that contains at least one individual with a brain, or worse, those who think that MOAR DISQUALIFY is magically going to accomplish anything. So, let’s consider their options from our perspective.

1. Suck it up

This is what they should have done. It would have taken a fair amount of the wind out of our sails. However, most of the potential benefits are now lost since they’ve already motivated our side through their histrionics and media-planted stories.

2. Castigate all campaigning

Won’t happen. Far too many people on their side are guilty of it, and far too many people are already invested in the idea that what is very, very bad for us is just fine for the Tor set and everyone who bought memberships for their children and extended families.

3. Counter-slates

This is the only real option for them now. It’s also the one that is most frightening for them, because it puts an end to their gentleman’s agreement to stick to logrolling and whisper campaigns as long as no one gets too greedy, and forces them to come out and compete in the open. They hate open competition on principle and the idea that they might come out for a fair fight next year and lose will strike them as so terrifying as to be beyond imagining. Furthermore, because they really, really care about winning awards, it’s going to be much harder for them to put together a slate, much less find the numbers to support it in the disciplined manner required now that a bloc of 40 votes is no longer sufficient to put something on the shortlist.

 

Kate Paulk on Mad Genius Club

“Of Puppies and Principles” – May 21

Anyway, this little piece of anecdata leads to some thoughts about what could be considered the Sad Puppy Manifesto (although it isn’t, since the Sad Puppy organizers were – and are – more interested in doing stuff and getting results from said doings than in writing manifestos….

5. More voters and more votes mean more representative results. In 2008, fewer than 500 nomination ballots were cast for the Hugo awards. There were categories where the nominated works had fewer than 20 votes. In that environment, it doesn’t take much for someone with an agenda and a loyal following to push out anything they don’t like. In 2015, more than 2000 nomination ballots were cast. That makes it harder for things like the Sad Puppies campaigns, or our not at all hypothetical person with an agenda to push out everything else – but it doesn’t make it impossible. More people voting means that absent corruption on the part of the officials (which doesn’t appear to be a factor based on the information that’s publicly available), the results will tend to reflect the desires of the broader public (because the voters are a sample – and by the very nature of statistics, larger samples tend to be more representative of the overall population than smaller samples – and yes, I know it’s not that bloody simple. I’m trying to keep this short and failing miserably).

….So, if you’re a member, read the stories, then decide which way you’re going to vote.

And while you’re at it, review the WorldCon 2017 Site Selection bids and pay your $40 to vote for the one you prefer: you’ll get automatic supporting membership for WorldCon 2017 before the price goes up.

 

John C. Wright

“The Customer is Always Right” – May 21

….On the 770 blog, that wretched hive of scum and villainy, I unwisely left a gentle remark where I noted that a hiccuping hapless lackwit quoted this passage of fulsome praise to support the contention of my alleged dislike of womankind, rather than taking it as evidence to the clear contrary.

Emma, a zealous Inquisitor of the Thought Police, helps explicate the enigma.

http://file770.com/?p=22617&cpage=11#comment-265630 ….

It is difficult for me to untie the Gordian knot of this intestinal bafflegab (madonna/whore ideology?) since I do not have my Morlock-to-Reality dictionary at hand.

 

John C. Wright

“The Uncorrectors are Never Right” – May 21

I was taught, and experience confirms, that the alleged correction of “the hoi polloi” is the very soul and exemplar of pedantic error and half-learned buffoonery.

No learned man ever offers that correction, and no one ever offers it innocently, but only in vulgar pretense of erudition they do not possess. (A man with a modicum of real education would look in the OED, and see this phase is correct in English.)

 

Ridley Kemp on Stay With Me, Go Places

“History Will Forget The Sad Puppies” – May 21

If you want my take on the Hugos, I’ll give you this:

In ye olden dayes, the players selected for baseball’s all-star game were elected by public ballots. In 1957, the ballots were being printed in newspapers instead of passed out to the fans at games (as I remember from the 1970’s) or online (as it’s done now). The Cincinnati Enquirer decided to help the fans out a little by printing pre-filled ballots with nothing be Cincinnati ballplayers selected. As a result, the starting lineup for the 1957 National League team consisted of Stan Musial, a St. Louis Cardinal, and 7 cincinnati Reds.

People rightly saw this as a subversion of the process. Ford Frick, the commissioner of baseball, immediately replaced two Reds outfielders, Wally Post and Gus Bell, with Hank Aaron and Willie Mays because, c’mon, Hank Aaron and Willie Mays. The remaining Reds were allowed to start the game and then almost immediatley replaced once the game started, and the game looked like an All-Star game once more.

 

Martin Wisse on Wis[s]e Words

“Puppies wee on your shoulders and tell you it’s rain” – May 21

Nobody with any familiarity of Worldcon fandom’s history and culture believes that it’s dishonest to vote No Award over any nomination that got there through blatant slate voting, or that fans have a duty to be “fair” to nominations which stole their place on the ballot.

 

Marion on Deeds & Words

“The Hugos, 2015: Chapter Four, What Were They Thinking?” – May 21

To my mind, nowhere is the problem of the bloc-voting and the slate concept better demonstrated than in the Novella Category. Here is the short-list….

If you love short SF, you read a lot of SF magazines, or you enjoy anthologies, that list may be baffling you. You might wonder why, since the Hugos are for the best work of the year, you have probably only read, or even heard of, one of those works. You might wonder why one press, which you’ve never heard of before, has four of the five works on the list.

Having read these works, here’s what I can say with confidence; if the splinter group (who call themselves Rapid Puppies) wanted to demonstrate with this list the kind of fine, solid story-telling that they think is getting overlooked due to the distraction of more “politically correct” fare, they’ve failed abjectly.

The best of the lot is “Flow” by Arlen Andrews Sr. This is the type of the story that the original slate group, the “Sad Puppies” frequently talk about and say they like.

 

 

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“Amanda S. Green Fanwriter Samples” – May 21

The sample provided is sixteen pages, several different selections of Green’s fanwriting.…

There is no interest or willingness to engage with anyone with whom she disagrees, or even to extend the most basic of respect to fellow human beings. If she disagrees with you, she must also make clear that she disrespects you. A complete waste. This has no place on the Hugo ballot.

 

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“A Single Samurai (in The Baen Big Book of Monsters), by Steven Diamond” – May 21

Let it be noted that Baen, always a leader in trusting the reader with ebooks, included the entire Baen Big Book of Monsters in the Hugo packet, not just the nominated material. Which makes it a shame that I can’t like this story better. It’s not terrible, but at no point does it really grab me.

 

Brian Niemeier on Superversive SF

“Transhuman and Subhuman Part V: John C. Wright’s Patented One Session Lesson in the Mechanics of Fiction” – May 20

Because so much of storytelling relies on nudging readers’ imaginations to paint the images the writer intends, using stereotypes is inevitable and indispensable.

“What the reader wants not to do is to be asked by the writer to use the stereotype in his head in a tired, trite, shopworn, or expected way, because then the reader notices, and is rightly put off, by the trick being pulled on him.”

Wright thus counsels authors to employ two contradictory stereotypes to describe each character. Bilbo Baggins is a retiring country squire and a supremely accomplished burglar. Kal-El is both mild-mannered reporter and Superman. The tension between these contradictions creates depth.

 

Joe Sherry on Adventures In Reading

“Thoughts on the Hugo Award Nominees: Fancast” – May 21

Tea and Jeopardy appears to be in a class by itself. It is very slickly produced and seems to take place in the midst of a proper tea party. Again, this was one of the shorter episodes included and the limited run time accentuates what is cool and quirky about it while never letting what works run for too long.  It is the most worthy of the nominees, I think. My vote:

1. Tea and Jeopardy

2. Galactic Suburbia

3. Adventures in SF Publishing

4. The Sci Phi Show

5. Dungeon Crawlers Radio

 

Lis Carey on Amazon

[Lis Carey gave Thomas Kratman’s “Big Boys Don’t Cry” a 2-star Amazon review and ended up in an exchange with Kratman who expressed his displeasure and included a fling at the Hugos.]

[Tom Kratman:] I want the Hugos utterly destroyed, No Awarded in perpetuity. I want “Aces and Eights.” I want the village destroyed and don’t care in the slightest about saving it. The best way to accomplish that is for the SJW types to succeed in getting general No Award votes this time around. So make it a one star and vote “no award.”

 

Lisa J. Goldstein on theinferior4

“The Hugo Ballot, Part 13: Novellas” – May 21

In “Flow,” by Arlan Andrews, Sr., we follow a crew riding an iceberg down a river to the Warm Lands.  The first half of the story is little more than a travelog, as the main character, Rist from the Tharn’s Lands, learns about the Warm Lands from his compatriot, Cruthar. It’s not terrible.  The two societies are different in interesting ways, and Rist makes a good naive traveler.  But it is, once again, not a story but an excerpt; we’ve already missed the beginning and there is no real ending.

 

Katya Czaja

“Hugo Awards: Fanzine” – May 21

Ranking To be honest, nothing really grabbed me in this category. I’m not a Whovian so Journey Planet bored me. Tangent seemed well written, but I would not seek out another copy. Elitist Book Reviews fell below No Award because I can think of a half dozen book blogs that have stronger, more interesting reviews. The Revenge of Hump Day fell below No Award because it was a compilation of stuff other people had sent the editor, and not a particularly interesting compilation at that.

1) Journey Planet

2) Tangent Online

3) No Award

4) Elitist Book Reviews

5) The Revenge of Hump Day

 

Kevin Standlee on Fandom Is My Way Of Life

“Didn’t Just Fall Off the Turnip Truck” – May 20

From some of the suggestions and questions I’m getting, I think there are people who must think this is the first WSFS Business Meeting over which I’ve presided (even when those people have attended and participated in meetings over which I presided). I also think there are people who think that those of us organizing the Business Meeting haven’t heard anything at all about this Puppygate stuff, and feel the need to explain to me all about it. I suppose they’re all well-meaning, but it does get wearing after a while. Presumably this is what it feels like to be Mansplained to.