Pixel Scroll 11/30 The Doom That Came to File770

(1) TOLKIEN AT THE PLATE. Pitchers’ faces turn almost gargoyle-like at the moment they deliver the baseball. Major league baseball blog Cut4  decided it would be amusing to match those expressions with melodramatic quotes from Lord of the Rings.

The pitch face. Completely uninhibited, wholly pure. Every pitcher has one. It takes a lot of effort to throw a pitch 90-plus mph, after all, and pitchers can’t exactly worry about what arrangement their features make while trying to hit their spots. And so, the pitch face is one of baseball’s most totally human elements.

Below, some of the best we saw this year. And to explain their greatness, we captioned them with quotes from the only movies as epic as these faces: The Lord of the Rings trilogy….

“A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day.”

pitcher

(2) SWEDISH SF ART. A fine gallery accompanies a brief interview with the artist in The Huffington Post’s, “Sci-Fi Painter Simon Stålenhag Turns The Everyday Into Dystopia”.

One artist working actively to infuse visions of the future into scenes from the present is Simon Stålenhag, whose narrative paintings have recently been collected into a book, thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign. The paintings in Tales from the Loop show children and adolescents traipsing across gray plains, energetic in spite of their glum surroundings. Power lines and radio towers dot the skyline, alongside foreign machines, hefty and ominous.

That Stålenhag’s imagined robots stand beside clusters of desktop computers, scoreboards and hatchbacks makes their existence that much more believable. “Look what we’ve created,” he seems to suggest. “Imagine what else we can create.”

staylenhag art

(3) FERMI PARADOX REDUX. A long time ago there was a famous commercial for a hamburger chain that mainly consisted of an elderly woman interrupting a rival’s ad copy, shouting “Where’s the beef?” The Fermi Paradox has a similar effect on speculations about intelligent life in the universe – and Jim Henley’s new post puts a dent in a favorite corollary — “Fermi Conundrum Redux: The Singularity as Great Big Zero?”

Half the objections come from transhumanist types saying that “We’ll just send our robots” or “mind-uploading” or “frozen genetic material raised by AI nannies” or self-replicating Von Neumann machines etc. – the whole LessWrong kitbag of secular eschatons.

But it occurs to me that all that does is bring those notions into the orbit of the Fermi Conundrum, née Fermi Paradox*. The Conundrum, as we all know, runs, “Where is everybody?” That is, we should see evidence of intelligent life Out There or right here or, if you’re especially cynical, should have been wiped out by another civilization before we even evolved this far, just to be on the safe side. The answer, “Maybe there just aren’t any other intelligent civilizations,” almost has to count as the most probable answer to the conundrum at this point.

(4) NEWITZ BIDS GOODBYE. Today was Annalee Newitz’ last day at io9 and Gizmodo. Newitz and Charlie Jane Anders co-founded io9 in 2008. In “I’m Heading Out to the Black. Farewell, io9 and Gizmodo!” at io9, Newitz announced:

And this is where my path diverges from io9 and Gizmodo. This past year managing both sites taught me that I’m not actually interested in being a manager. I want to write. That’s why I got into the writing business, and that’s what I want to do for the rest of my life. So I’ve accepted a position as tech culture editor at Ars Technica, where I’m excited to be devoting all my time to writing about the cultural impact of technology and science.

Did I mention that change is scary? Actually, it’s terrifying. And amazing. And a fundamental, banal part of being trapped in linear time. Anyone who loves the future, or who looks forward to a tomorrow that’s different from today, has to accept the uncertainties of change. Your Utopian vision might lead you straight to the shithole. But sometimes, your one-year speculative experiment grows into a giant robot that saves humanity from giant monsters. You won’t know until you actually veer off the road you were on, and steal a little plutonium to fuel your dreams.

Newitz says Katie Drummond will carry on Gizmodo.

(5) NaNoWriMo PROGRESS. Misty Massey asks “Did You Win NaNo?”  at Magical Words,

Today is the last day of NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, a gloriously insane thirty-days of writing like your head is on fire and your booty is catching. I’ve participated for a whole lot of years now, although I never win, because this kind of writing is just not what I do. Despite having been told time and again that I should just write it all down and fix it later, I can’t. It needs to be as perfect and wonderful as I can manage the first time, so my writing style is Eeyore-slow.  But I still sign on for NaNo every year, just in case.  I managed about 9,000 words. Which, for me, is a stunning achievement.

(6) FAVES. Stephanie Burgis lists her “Favorite MG Novels of 2015”. And lo and behold, Ursula Vernon, you are Number Six…

  1. Castle Hangnail, by Ursula Vernon, is a wickedly funny fantasy novel with a fabulous heroine, and it turned me into a huge Ursula Vernon fan. You can read my full review here.

(7) JESSICA REVIEW. Jim Henley’s post “Jessica Jones (And Her Amazing Friends): A Netflix Original Series” sounds like he’s going to keep watching, if you ask me.

(8) BANGING ON. Larry Correia notifies his readers “JP Enterprises is now offering MHI [Monster Hunter International] and MCB logo AR-15 lower receivers” – a logo etching on a gun part.

I just had a fun thought. While certain other bestselling novelists are writing sanctimonious ignorant tweets bleating for more gun control, Larry Correia offers you custom rifles. 🙂

JP-MHI-1024x867

(9) THE RACK IS BACK. Lou Antonelli made sf and fantasy the dominant genres sold at the Dollar General store in Mount Pleasant, TX, as he explains in “Help the spin rack make a comeback!”

In talking about publishing original fiction [in a 2008 article by Antonelli], [Tom] Doherty mentioned that those paperback spin racks we used to see in stores and pharmacies were often a point of entry for people to the s-f and fantasy genres.

They used to be ubiquitous – those tall, vertical wire racks that you could spin around to see all four sides loaded up with mass market paperbacks. Doherty noted how the consolidation of book distribution had all but eliminated them. He said he hoped the fiction published by Tor.com would serve the same function as a point of entry for new readers in the digital age.

…Now, fast forward two and half years, to the summer of 2011. I was scheduled as a panelist at ArmadilloCon in Austin, and one of the panels was on “Secret History”. The Thursday before the convention I stopped at a local Dollar General in Mount Pleasant to pick up some groceries on the way home from work, and while standing in line, I caught sight of a spin rack.

Yes, Dollar General still believes in the spin rack. I walked over and saw that among the books was a copy of Steven Brust’s “The Paths of the Dead”. While I don’t read high fantasy, I bought the book because Brust was on the panel with me.

The following Sunday afternoon, as the panel on Secret History broke up, I stopped and pulled the book out. I told Steve “you know you are a best-selling author when you’re on the spin rack in the Dollar General in Mount Pleasant, Texas! That means your books are sold EVERYWHERE!”

(10) OUT WITH THE OLD. Jeff Duntemann’s photo of “Samples from the Box of No Return” is like a fannish time capsule.

I’m packing my office closet, and realized that The Box of No Return was overflowing. So in order to exercise my tesselation superpower on it, I had to upend it on my office floor and repack it from scratch.

I hadn’t done that in a very long time.

You may have a Box of No Return. It’s downstairs from the Midwestern Junk Drawer, hidden behind the Jar of Loose Change. It’s for stuff you know damned well you’ll never use again, but simply can’t bring yourself to throw away. A lot of it may be mementos. Some of it is just cool. Most of it could be dumped if you were a braver (and less sentimental) man than I….

There follows a descriptive paragraph of the treasures discovered. And things less that treasured.

I tossed a couple of things, like my SFWA membership badge. SFWA wanted to get rid of me for years for not publishing often enough; I saved them the trouble. Rot in irrelevancy, you dorks; I’m an indie now, and making significant money. Some promo buttons were for products I couldn’t even recall, and they went in the cause of making room. But most of it will go back in the (small) box, and it will all fit, with room to spare for artifacts not yet imagined, much less acquired.

(11) Today’s Birthday Boy

  • Born November 30, 1835 – Mark Twain

  • Born November 30, 1937 – Director Ridley Scott

(12) ONE STARS. Scalzi, Leckie, Rothfuss and others reading various one star reviews out loud.

(13) ABRAMS INTERVIEW. “J.J. Abrams Is Excited for Mothers and Daughters To See Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

The Star Wars: The Force Awakens director stopped by Good Morning America on Monday to talk about the upcoming release, and how he’s hoping it won’t just be a “boy’s thing.”

Star Wars was always a boy’s thing,” Abrams said. “I was really hoping this could be a movie that mothers could take their daughters to as well.”

In the interview, Abrams also confirmed that he at first refused the offer to direct the new Star Wars film, saying that it was a franchise he so revered that he “thought it would be better just to go the theater and see it like everyone else.” After talking to producer producer Kathy Kennedy, however, Abrams said the opportunity was “too delicious and too exciting to pass up.”

Video of the GMA interview is at the link.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Paul Weimer, Mark-kitteh, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Greg.]

Update 12/01/2015: Corrected the link to Jim Henley’s review of Jessica Jones.

Disney’s “101 Nominations” 5/25

aka Crate Expectations

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

Dave Freer on Mad Genius Club

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

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

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

 

Jeff Duntemann on Jeff Duntemann’s Contrapositive Diary

“Sad Puppies Summary and Wrapup” – May 24

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

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

You bet!

 

Sam Finlay on Return of Kings

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

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

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

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

 

Adam-Troy Castro on Facebook – May 25

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

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

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

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

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

 

Lisa J. Goldstein on theinferior4

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

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

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

 

Joseph Tomaras on A Skinseller’s Workshop

“Hugo Short Story Ballot” – May 24

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

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

 

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“Jeffro Johnson Hugo Nomination Fanwriter Sample” – May 25

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

 

Andrew Hickey on Sci-Ence! Justice Leak!

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

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

Here’s how I’m ranking them.

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

 

Rebekah Golden

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

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

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

 

Martin Wisse on Wis[s]e Words

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

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

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

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

 

Cheryl Morgan on Cheryl’s Mewsings

“The Wages of Sin” – May 25

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

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

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

 

Declan Finn on A Pius Man

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

[Putatively humor.]

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

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

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

 

Declan Finn on A Pius Man

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Dcarson on Steve Jackson Games Board & Dice Forum

“Mars Attacks (Worldcon)” – May 24

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

 

 

Canine Princes in Amber 5/22

aka Her Majesty’s Secret Puppy

On today’s docket: Vox Day, John C. Wright, Amanda S. Green, Jeff Duntemann, Lela E. Buis, Ken Liu, John Snead, Lis Carey, Spacefaring Kitten, Rebekah Golden, David Langford, and cryptic others. (Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editors of the day Jim Henley and Kary English.)

Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“Just a reminder” – May 22

And once again, SJWs have obediently responded to his call. Mr. Hauman’s actions strike me as a very good way to encourage publishers to stop participating in future Hugo Packets. I mean, why should we do so if it’s only going to provide the SJWs in science fiction with another means of attack? Mr. Hauman has demonstrated how the Hugo Packet can be destroyed in a single year; what publisher is going to even be willing to include excerpts when inclusion in the Packet means several hundred one-star reviews on Amazon within weeks?

 

John C. Wright

“Petty Puppy-Kickers on the March” – May 22

Alas, I am too busy today to comb through Amazon to downvote and report graffiti being left on my sale goods by malign Morlocks. I ask any reader impatient for my next work to be published to alleviate my workload by shouldering this task, please.

I ask any undecided onlooker who has noticed the kerfuffle to observe who has played straight, honest, aboveboard, and continually and openly identified their goals and platform, and who has lied, cheated, lied, slandered, lied, libeled, lied, betrayed, lied, invented falsehoods, resorted to dirsty tricks, lied, defamed, lied, called people racists, lied, organized defamation campaigns in major media, lied and lied again.

I ask any undecided onlooker who has noticed the kerfuffle to observe whether anyone on the Sad Puppies side of things has called for posting false and defamatory reviews of rival works, or attempting to blacklist or undermine the income of fellow authors?

 

Amanda S. Green on Nocturnal Lives

“Once again, the stupid burns” – May 22

How enlightened of the other side to paint us all with the same brush. How inclusive they are to try to construct a dialog — oh, wait. They haven’t. They don’t want to sully their reputations or whatever by trying to even listen to what we have to say or what our concerns are. They are too busy trying to shore up the bulwarks around their holy bastion of the Hugo. And, as they do, they completely prove our point that the Hugos are no longer an award of the fans but of a few self-appointed FANS. Hell, we’ve even been “schooled” by a Wolheim for not knowing our history of WorldCon or of the Hugos. Well, we do know the histories. We just don’t buy into the revisionist histories they have constructed.

Is controversy around the Hugos new to the Sad Puppy movement? Not only no but hell no. But to have folks who claim they represent the ideals of inclusivity to be doing their best to ruin careers through their personal attacks and through negative reviews based not on the quality of the work but the politics of the author takes it to a new low. What they don’t understand is that all they are doing is playing for a very small crowd. Those looking at the controversy from the outside aren’t impressed by their tactics. They are asking themselves when they last read a Hugo winner and enjoyed it. Instead of trying to keep the unwashed masses out, perhaps these authors and editors ought to be asking themselves why they have lost the faith of the readers. They should ask themselves if they would be able to make it as an indie author if they suddenly found themselves without a publisher to push their work. But that might take a bit of introspection they aren’t prepared to do, much less accept.

So, once again, I will repeat what I’ve said — what every other supporter of Sad Puppies has said. Read the material in the Hugo packet and vote based on the quality of the work (which will be more difficult than it should be in some cases because certain publishers pasted huge watermarks on each page and/or only included a sample of the nominated work. Once again proving that certain big publishers don’t trust readers, not even WorldCon members and think we are all pirates).

 

Jeff Duntemann on Jeff Duntemann’s Contrapositive Diary

“Rant: You Can’t Shame a Puppy” – May 22

The more important reason for authors not to withdraw is that withdrawing gives the anti-puppies (APs) this peculiar notion that they can use social pressure (shaming) to get authors to do things their way, up to and including refusing a major honor in the field. Note very well: I am not suggesting that either Kloos or Bellet withdrew because of social pressure. I take their explanations at face value. What I’m suggesting is that a certain nontrivial number of APs may assume it, and may further assume that social pressure is a tactic that can win, going forward. I’m already hearing that the 2015 Hugos need to be “asterisked;” that is, marked as disreputable, dishonest, and something that no upright fan or author will have anything to do with. The message is pretty clear: Any Puppy nominee who keeps their place on the ballot is to be shamed and shunned.

Now we can get down to business. The first of my two points today is this: Shaming is bullying. Shaming is about fear. Shaming is thug tactics. I’ll tell you what I hear when I hear people talking about shaming authors: “Nice little career you’re starting up here. Shame if anything happened to it.” Or, another interpretation that’s pretty much the same thing: “Stay on the ballot, and you’ll never work in this town again.”

In other words, we’re supposed to use mafia persuasion to get authors to refuse nominations that just might have been influenced by slatemakers like the Sad Puppies. (What if the works are just really good?) That’s bad enough. However, if you think about it a little more, you come to my second point for today’s entry: Shaming only works on people who value the esteem of the shamer.

 

Lela E. Buis

“The Hugo Awards: Follow the money” – May 23

So, is all this talk about traditional SF versus the new diversity just smoke and mirrors? Is the real issue here about a small publisher versus the large publishing houses? It’s hard to separate the right wing content from the publisher, which puts Beale at a disadvantage in today’s market. Because of the current social climate, I don’t personally think he would prevail in getting any stories on the ballot even in a perfectly free market. Still, I have to admire his mouse with a sword attitude.

 

Ken Liu interviews Liu Cixin in Publishers Weekly

“China at BEA 2015: Coming to America: Liu Cixin” – May 22

How do you feel about the Nebula nomination?

A: I’m honored and overjoyed. As a science fiction fan, the Nebula Award and the Hugo Award mean a lot to me. If I had to choose between the Nobel Prize in literature and the Nebula/Hugo awards, I would choose the latter without hesitation—though I’m not so arrogant as to think I could win the Nobel Prize. But the ultimate goal of my writing has always been delighting readers, not winning awards. For me, the most valuable affirmation comes from readers. Thus, the best thing about being nominated for a Nebula is that perhaps more people will read my novel, and the award will build more publicity for the two sequels in English.

 

John Snead on Synchronicity swirls and other foolishness

Three-Body Problem Review + Musings On Hugo Award Novel Voting – May 22

Yesterday, I finished reading Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu, a well done and interesting SF novel written by one of China’s premier SF novelists and translated in the English. I’ve looked at the covers of recent Chinese SF magazine (but not knowing Chinese, have only been able to read a handful of stories which have been translated). The covers remind me of tech focused US SF magazines from the 50s & 60s, but none of the stories have, until I read this book. There are a lot of ways that it’s entirely unlike US SF from that era, but there are also distinct similarities – some of which were clearly deliberate…. My votes for Hugo Award for Best Novel are as follows

  1. Ancillary Sword Ann Leckie: In addition to vastly better characterization than Three Body Problem, it didn’t fall down ½ to 2/3s of the way through and I enjoyed it more. I don’t think it’s as strong a novel as Ancillary Justice, but I also think it’s the best novel nominated
  2. Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu: Definitely a good novel and one I’m very glad I read, but not good enough to win.
  3. No Award: I don’t think any of the other three novels are all that good, and so No Award comes next.
  4. The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison: As I mentioned before, I gave up in utter boredom a bit less than halfway through. I’m not a fan of passive and incompetent protagonists who remain that way and while I wanted to like this novel, it was impressively dull.
  5. Skin Game by Jim Butcher: I didn’t read the first couple of chapters – I’d previously read 2.5 of Butcher’s Harry Dresden novels, and that’s pretty much my lifetime limit. Butcher isn’t a terrible writer, but this series isn’t for me (and I’m someone who quite liked the first 8 of Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter (they weren’t good, but I enjoyed them)).
  6. The Dark Between the Stars by Kevin J. Anderson: The previous two were novels I didn’t like, but wouldn’t go so far as to say were bad – this is a bad novel.

 

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“Dave Freer Hugo Fanwriter Nomination Samples” – May 22

There really isn’t much to say. A larger sample than Amanda Greens, 21 pages, but if anything there is even less here. All the hate-spewing at “SJWs” and “GHHs”, plus misogyny, plus a heaping helping of self-congratulation for being fair, open-minded, and helpful to aspiring writers.

Not recommended.

 

Spacefaring Kitten on Spacefaring, Extradimensional Happy Kittens

“’A Single Samurai’ by Steven Diamond” – May 22

“A Single Samurai”, unsurprisingly, tells the story of a lone samurai. He is traveling on the back of a mountain-sized kaiju monster that is demolishing everything in its way, and he intends to kill it.

I love this idea, and it’s a shame Diamond only mentions it and never gives the reader any insight into what it’s like to be on a moving mountain (if we don’t count one earthquake). The milieu feels like any standard fantasy environment, really.

 

Rebekah Golden

“2015 Hugo Awards Best TV Show: Reviewing the Flash” – May 20

Retrospectively the pilot was good enough to continue watching another fifteen or so episodes.

 

Rebekah Golden

“2015 Hugo Awards Best Professional Artist: Reviewing J Dillon” – May 20

For this review I’m going to focus on works created in 2014 which include some that I have enjoyed in the past and am happy to highlight why I enjoyed them now that I have a chance to write more formally on the topic.

 

Rebekah Golden

“2015 Hugo Awards Best Graphic Story: Reviewing Ms Marvel” – May 21

This comic is delightfully playful and full of Easter eggs and small side details in the frame.

 

Rebekah Golden

“2015 Hugo Awards Best Professional Artist: Reviewing K DouPonce” – May 21

The issue here is not that he refers to himself as a designer rather than an artist or that he admits to using stock imagery. The issue is his work looks like it was made by a designer not an artist and that the images look like a vaguely pleasant arrangement of stock imagery.

 

Rebekah Golden

“2015 Hugo Awards Best TV Show: Reviewing Game of Thrones” – May 21

I just don’t see the point of this sweeping epic outside of some catharsis and the catharsis isn’t there for me.

 

Rebekah Golden

“2015 Hugo Awards Best Professional Artist: Reviewing N Greenwood” – May 22

Greenwood is obviously an artist of some scope and skill.

Cover art by Nick Greenwood.

Cover art by Nick Greenwood.

 

David Langford in a comment on Making Light  – May 22

A voice from the past. While tidying up the look of the TransAtlantic Fan Fund site (now with free ebooks!), I noticed the following prophetic remark in one of Patrick’s and Teresa’s newsletters, TAFFluvia 2 dated August 1985:

What we meant was that TAFF is an institution created for a specific purpose, with its own agenda — promoting greater transatlantic amity between fans — and should not be used as a mechanism for pursuing unrelated issues; no more than, say, the Hugos should be used as an exercise in block-voting by a group with an ideological axe to grind, rather than in recognition of the single outstanding work nominated.

 

 

 

The Dogs My Destination 5/18

aka Recent studies have shown that approximately 40% of authors are sad puppies. The rest of us just drink.

Today’s roundup delivers alisfranklin, John C. Wright, Alexandra Erin, Kevin J. Maroney, Betsy Wollheim, Dave Freer, Lela E. Buis, David French, thezman, Eric Flint, Joe Sherry, Scott Seldon, Lis Carey, Lisa J. Goldstein, Larry Correia, Jeff Duntemann, and Declan Finn. (Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editors of the day Tuomas Vainio and Laura Resnick.)

alisfranklin on Unassigned Readings

“As for gaming the Hugo Awards it is surprisingly…” – May 18

You want to talk about slates of nominees and culture wars and take-overs? Fine, let’s talk about that. Because you know what I want to see for the 2016 Hugo awards?

I want to see Welcome to Night Vale up for awards in Best Novel and Best Dramatic Presentation. I want to see Stephen Universe and Agent Carter and whatever anime is big right now. I want to see Homestuck. I want to see something from the OTW and I want at least one videogame up for Long Form and one DLC/expansion up in Short Form. I want to see fanfic writers and fanartists up for their categories. I want to see someone get nominated purely on force of their Tumblr.

Whether or not I like the individual nominations doesn’t matter. I just want to see them, because seeing them will tell me the Hugos are relevant again. That they mean something to kids who were born after the invention of the personal computer, let alone born this century. You want to talk about logrolling an awards ceremony? Tumblr fandom is orders of magnitude bigger than the voting pool for the current Hugos. If y’all want those awards, they’re yours. No old greybeard muttering about “true fans” and “golden age SFF” can take that away from you. Literally not; by numbers alone there just aren’t enough of them.

 

John C. Wright

“WSJ on SJW” – May 18

A lamebrain and lazy Wall Street Journal article: http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-culture-wars-invade-science-fiction-1431707195

For any reader without the patience (or the nose-clothespin)  to wade through this, the summary is: “We asked two white guys with lots of awards and they said the system was fine and the Sad Puppies are pulp-writing carpetbagging  racists.”

First, the issue is not about literary fiction versus pulp adventure fiction. The Social Justice Warriors do not write literary fiction, they write boring lectures and finger-wagging trash. They are members of a clique who have controlled the awards for about a decade.

They excuse the poor craftsmanship of their meandering tales by claiming them to be written to erudite and aethereal literary standards beyond the grasp of the hoi polloi. (Or they would say, if they were literary enough to use phrases like the hoi polloi  (a Greek remark!), or drop Gilbert and Sullivan  allusions casually into their sentences.)

For the record, I write literary fiction, and Larry Correia writes pulp, and he and I are on the same team.

 

Alexandra Erin on Blue Author Is About To Write

“Situation Normal: All Fisked Up” – May 18

So Brad Torgersen, leader of the Sad Puppy campaign for this year, has a post up on his blog called “Fisking The Broken Narrative”. Fisking, for the uninitiated, is an art from in which one takes a written work, quotes the whole or majority of it in-line, broken up with zingers a la Mystery Science Theater. At least, that’s my understanding of the typical fisking. The Sad Puppies seem more inclined to just rant and rave in the interstices, and Torgersen in particular spends more time reacting to what it would have been convenient for his narrative for the source editorial to have said than he does responding to the actual text…..

Mr. Maroney, the individual whom Torgersen was attempting to fisk, did in his source attempt to gently clue the Puppies in to the inadvisability of labeling their opponents “reactionary” while holding a stated goal of “stop people from trying to change things and bring it back to the way it used to be”, but all Torgersen appeared to take away from it was “STOP SAYING MEAN THINGS”. We could speculate about whether this was due to an inability to comprehend the point or a tactical decision to only respond in ways that further the Puppy’s narrative, but I don’t see the percentage in it.

 

Kevin J. Maroney in New York Review of SF

“The Puppies of Terror” – May 17

The Sad Puppies are a group of writers and other fans dissatisfied with what they saw as a trend in the Hugo process toward overrepresentation of “liberal” works at the expense of traditional, meat-and-potatoes science fiction and fantasy. So in 2014 they gamed the Hugo nomination system to place nominees in several Hugo Award categories. What the Puppies did was very simple: They encouraged people to buy Worldcon supporting memberships and vote for the Puppy slate of nominees, and they got one or two nominees into several categories. These “Sad Puppy 2” nominees failed to land any trophies; in fact, with the exception of Toni Weisskopf in the Best Editor, Long Form, the SP2 finalists came in last in every category. And, like any well-intentioned, thoughtful group of principled actors, the Sad Puppies responded by encouraging the attention of a group of woman-hating terrorists.

 

Kevin J. Maroney in New York Review of SF

“The Puppy Fight” – May 18

The entire Puppy movement, rhetorically, is based on the idea that the science fiction enterprise has changed tremendously and not for the better, since the fabled Golden Age when all of the Puppies were young. The head Sad Puppy himself, Brad Torgersen, has taken to referring to his enemies as CHORFS, “Cliquish, Holier-than-thou, Obnoxious, Reactionary, Fanatics.” So, yes, the person who is bravely positioning himself as the force that will stop the people who want to change things believes that his opponents are “reactionaries.” This is, apparently, someone whose understanding of words is limited to “what sounds like an insult?”

 

Lela E. Buis

“Is there too much diversity in SF&F?” – May 18

So, is there really too much diversity on the ballot? This might not be a popular observation, but I can personally see a clear political agenda, at least in the US and Northern Europe, to increase acceptance of diversity. Everyone must have noticed this. Diversity is billed as a good thing, something we should respect that can bring in new ideas and new ways of doing things. It also implies acceptance of differences like gender, LGBTQ status, religion, disability, race, national origin, etc., etc., etc. But, the truth is that diversity makes us all nervous. Political scientist Robert Putnam, researching community trends in 2000, made the inconvenient discovery that greater diversity in a community leads to less trust, less volunteering, less cooperation, less voting and less civic engagement in general for average members of the community. As a liberal, Putnam was so disturbed by this finding that he waited until 2007 to publish the results, i.e. that diversity damages communities.

 

Betsy Wollheim on Facebook – May 16

I’ve been silent about the whole disgusting Hugo mess, but frankly I’m shocked by some of the mainstream coverage it’s been getting. For the record, many people on the “puppy ballot” were never asked permission, like my business partner, Sheila Gilbert, who has no affiliation with any puppies, but will not withdraw because (in my opinion and that of her authors) she damn well deserves a Hugo after 45 years dedicated to editing Science Fiction and Fantasy. Personally I think the puppies are fucked. There has always been a “Wellsian and Vernian” split in the field, but this takeover of the award is just abominable! Not only New Republic has spoken out against them, but now, the Wall Street Journal.

 

Betsy Wollheim on Facebook – May 16

I am personally grateful to George R. R. Martin for bravely supporting the rational and historical side of the Hugo brouhaha. As someone who has been attending conventions since age six (1958) I can say there have always been political divisions in our field, but prior to the internet neither political side has had the power (nor inclination!) to game the field’s most prestigious award. If you look at the novels that have won the Hugos over the decades. You will see that as many are great adventure yarns as books with political messages. It’s really pretty even. But this current fiasco is just plain disgusting. Also, as an editor, it makes me angry to see a writer as important as GRRM having to spend his valuable time informing ignorant people about the history of worldcon and the history of the Hugos.

 

Dave Freer at Mad Genius Club

“Who we write (and publish) For.” – May 18

It’s been very revealing during the various bursts of rage at the Sad Puppies by traditionally published authors and their publishers. We’re getting to see that dislike, that disdain, that ‘second (or possibly far lower) class citizen, should not be allowed to vote, aren’t ‘Real Fans’, should be put in a dog-pound (we’re not human, and there is no need to treat us as such, apparently. Now I do understand that as far as this monkey is concerned, but most of the pups, their supporters and friends are as human as their detractors.) You get editors like Betsy Wolheim at DAW telling us filthy hoi polloi “as an editor, it makes me angry to see a writer as important as GRRM having to spend his valuable time informing ignorant people about the history of worldcon and the history of the Hugos.” Thanks Betsy. A good spin attempt to blame us for GRRM’s decisions. He’s adult, he can decide what he wants to do. We pig-ignorant revolting peasants can’t actually MAKE him do anything. He wasn’t going to write any more if Bush was re-elected IIRC. The tide of BS from this has overflowed my gum boots.

 

David French at National Review

“Sci-Fi’s Sad Puppies” – May 18

A literary revolt against political correctness It turns out that pop culture doesn’t inexorably drift toward political correctness. The forces of “social justice” are not invincible, and conservative artists do have cultural power. Just ask the very angry, very frustrated members of the science-fiction Left.Conservatives are by now familiar with the depressing pop-culture script. Angry at perceived injustice or exclusion and eager to spread their particular brand of “social justice,” the Left targets for transformation an artistic medium that was previously not overtly or intentionally politicized. Within a few short years, the quality of art — or its popularity — becomes far less relevant than either its message or the identity of the artist. As part of this process, prestigious awards are no longer a means of rewarding the best work but rather a means of rewarding the best work from the list of acceptable choices. [The remainder of the article is behind a paywall, cost 25 cents.]

 

thezman

“Sad, Rabid Puppies on the Front Lash” – May 18

The only area of fiction with a male audience is sci-fi/fantasy. So-called serious fiction was taken over lunatics and feminists to the point where it has no audience outside of the academy. The fiction that sells best is the rape fantasy stuff popular with middle-aged white women. Otherwise, fiction for men is mostly aimed at harmless weirdos who prefer to be the female character in on-line games.

That’s why the lunatics are making war on sci-fi and fantasy fiction. They sense this group of white males are weak and can be bullied. After all, a guy who gets beat up for wearing his Frodo costume to school is not going to push back against the heavy weights of the genre. At least that’s the assumption. It’s why the cult has made a fetish of bullying, by the way. They want it as their exclusive tool for socializing children.

 

Eric Flint

“WHAT THE HELL, LET’S DO IT AGAIN – STILL MORE ON THE HUGO AWARDS” – May 18

James May, who keeps posting here, is the gift that never stops giving. In one of his most recent posts, he insists once again that the SJW (social justice warrior) hordes are a menace to science fiction. So, in this essay, I will go through his points one at a time to show how ridiculous they are whether examined in part or (especially) as a whole…..

In one of my former lives I was a TA in the history department at UCLA. In that capacity, I read and graded a lot of essays written by students in which they attempted, with greater or lesser success, to advance an historical proposition.

So far, James May’s essay advancing the proposition that science fiction as a genre—or at least its most prestigious awards—have been overwhelmed by a radical lesbian-centric racialized feminist crusade is getting an F. He’s made no attempt to substantiate a single one of his claims. Literally, not one.

 

Charmingly Euphemistic

“Received my Hugo voters’ reading packet today” – May 18

Slates are extremely powerful.  In normal voting everyone reads different stuff and has different tastes, so no one work will receive more than maybe 10% of the nominating votes.  But slate voters agree to vote on the same five nominees for each category. This means a slate needs to come up with about 10% of the nominating votes to sweep every category. The 90% of individual voters are swamped and overwhelmed by the 10% of slate voters.  Lest you think I am exaggerating, over two thirds of the slots on this year’s Hugo ballot are on the Sad Puppy Slate or the Rabid Puppy Slate, or both.

I am really afraid that if these slates see any success at all, it will be slates all the way down from now on. Therefore, in order to whatever I can to discourage slates in future years, I plan to  only vote for non-slate works above “no award.”

While the extreme sexist and racist attitudes of some of the slate organizers sickens me, it is the damage to the Hugo awards that will be done by slates that motivated me to get involved this year.  I don’t want slates of progressive writers either.

 

Joe Sherry on Adventures in Reading

“Hugo Nominee / Voter’s Packet Available” – May 18

You can find Zombie Nation online, but there’s no way to tell what is included in the nominated collection. I’ve been boldly reading the comic from the start, powering through, but I’m only up to 2013 strips, so it’s taking a while. But, you can look at any 2014 work from Zombie Nation and use that to evaluate Carter Reid for Fan Artist if you don’t want to wait for Zombie Nation to hit the voter’s packet (or attempt to read five years of strips).

 

Scott Seldon on Seldon’s SF Blog

“Ann Leckie – What A Hugo Award Winner Should Look Like” – May 18

I quickly followed reading Ancillary Justice with the sequel, Ancillary Sword. It was as good and as engrossing, bringing with it new aspects of the universe and the characters. If a sequel ever deserved as many awards as the original, this one certainly does. It is a magnificent world given to us by a magnificent writer. I can’t way for the third book. I definitely have a new author to add to my list of favorites. I can’t wait to see what she does next. Her nomination for this year’s Hugo Awards is justly deserved.

 

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“One Bright Star to Guide Them, by John C. Wright” – May 18

This wants so badly to be an allegorical fable in the manner of C.S. Lewis’s Narnia. And it fails so, so badly.

 

Lisa J. Goldstein on theinferior4

“The Hugo Ballot, Part 11: Novellas” – May 18

I love the idea behind “The Plural of Helen of Troy,” by John C. Wright.  There’s a City Beyond Time, Metachronopolis, with shining towers and bridges and gardens.  Fog caused by too many time changes shrouds the lower towers, and in the upper stories live the Masters, who control the forces of time. Unfortunately there’s something of a fog on the story as well.

 

Larry Correia on Monster Hunter Nation

“Sad Puppies 3: The Ensaddening” – January 26

It is that time of year again. If you’d like to nominate good books, stories, and related works for the Hugos so that the biggest award in sci-fi/fantasy isn’t just a Social Justice Warrior circle jerk, you need to get yourself a supporting membership to Sasquan before the end of January.

color-sp-1 LARGE

Declan Finn on A Pius Man

“Sad Puppies Bite Back, V: a Puppy Wins the Hugo” – May 18

[DF adjusts speakers.  SWAT team Irish step dances down the street, never to be seen again.  DF sighs, moves to mailbox, muttering] I wonder if John C. Wright will loan me some of his Vatican Ninjas. It’s not like he gets SWATted like this. He’s a living brain in a jar, what are they going to slap the handcuffs on?

 

 

Where No Puppy Has Gone Before 5/2

aka The Puppies Who Fell Up

Another burst of substantive, idea-filled posts highlight today’s roundup. The roll call includes Jeb Kinnison, Jaye Em Edgecliff, Brandon Kempner, Jeff Duntemann, Steve Davidson, Anthony Vicino, William Shaw and Kate Paulk. (Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editors of the day Laura Resnick and Jack Lint.)

Jeb Kinnison on The Subtstrate Wars

“SFF, Hugos, Curating the Best”  – May 2

“Curating” means selecting for quality and audience. WorldCon has been tending to curate for a small and eccentric audience, and favor-trading, log-rolling, and political prejudice has been apparent since.. forever. WorldCon has already recognized the outreach possibility of the Internet. There is no longer a reason for what purports to be *the* award of SFF fans, not Worldcon attendees, to be closed to the fans who can’t be there, or as GRRM remarked, aren’t fannish enough to regularly read fanzines. If the award is to be chosen by small groups with a certain Fannish mindset, then it’s not *the* award of SFF readers and not a useful guide to quality for those who don’t share the mindset. And it will tend to slight publishers and authors who haven’t sucked up to the attendees and “curated” their online presence to groom their own fans. Some decry the possibility that the Hugos might become a mere popularity contest, with “Twilight”-ish popular works swamping the less-accessible quality fiction; but that ignores that the status quo prior to Puppies was a popularity contest among a small and not necessarily representative group shot through with personal conflicts of interest and logrolling.

We can honor all the work of the elders who curated and nurtured the Hugos when there was no other way for fans to get together. We can also open up the nominating and voting to committed readers who haven’t been Fannish, and the effort involved is more software and thinking about systems than sitting at tables and handing out papers while chatting with passersby. There are problems with nominating voters being unaware of what qualifies, and problems with qualifications — suggestions about more classes for long works and allowing small pub and self pub books more time to be discovered are good.

As a new author, I’d like to preserve a large market for fiction because it is inevitable that larger media productions will be unable to pioneer new ideas or truly eccentric new virtual worlds — there are just too many people involved in these larger productions to take as many risks on unique visions, and until the tools for game storytelling, for example, are easily accessible and usable by singleton game authors, games won’t be the medium to create the experience of the great novel or story. Opening up the Hugos and doing more outreach to fans of other media would help a lot in renovating fandom and bringing in more new readers. And if the field doesn’t start gaining more readers, it will die, since it is already harder to make a living writing for SFF than it used to be. If the only writers left working are supported by academia or other jobs, the field will lose its finest future works.

 

Brandon Kempner on Chaos Horizon

“Hugo Best Novel Nominees: Amazon and Goodreads Numbers, May 2015” – May 1

Let me emphasize again that these scores have never been predictive for the Hugo or Nebula: getting ranked higher on Amazon or Goodreads has not equated to winning the Hugo. It’s interesting that the Puppy picks are the outliers: higher and lower when it comes to Goodreads, with Leckie/Addision/Liu all within .05 points of each other. Amazon tends to be more generous with scoring, although Butcher’s 4.8 is very high.

The 2015 Hugo year is going to be largely useless when it comes to data: the unusual circumstances that led to this ballot (the Sad and Rabid Puppy campaigns, then various authors declining Best Novel nominations, and now the massive surge in voting number) mean that this data is going to be inconsistent with previous years. I think it’s still interesting to look at, but take all of this with four or five teaspoons of salt. Still, I’ll be checking in on these numbers every month until the awards are given, and it’ll be interesting to see what changes happen.

 

Jeff Duntemann on Jeff Duntemann’s Contrapositive Diary

“Rant: Sad Puppies vs. Anti-Puppies, as the Kilostreisands Pile Up” – May 2

How in hell could a couple of mostly unknown authors turn the venerable Hugo Awards inside-out?

My answer: adverse attention. For a definition, let me quote from a textbook that I made up just now: Zoftnoggin & Wiggout’s Fundamentals of Sociometry.

Adverse attention is a rise in the attention profile of a previously obscure phenomenon caused by the actions of an entity that opposes that phenomenon. In the vast majority of cases, the triggering force is outrage, though it sometimes appears through the action of envy, pride, lust, asshattedness, butthurt, or other largely emotional psychopathologies.

This being sociometry, adverse attention may be quantified, and there is a standard unit for expressing it:

The fundamental unit of adverse attention is the streisand, defined as one previously uninterested person achieving a degree of interest in a phenomenon sufficient to compel them to email, share, or retweet information about that phenomenon to one other person in a social network. As the information propagates across a social network, the connectedness of the network influences the total amount of adverse attention that arises. For example, if each of ten previously uninterested persons receiving the information passes it on to only one previously uninterested person, eleven streisands of adverse attention have been created. If one of those previously uninterested persons has 200 followers on Twitter or 1000 Facebook friends, the number of streisands increases rapidly. In a sufficiently dense network, the rate of increase can become close to exponential until the number of previously uninterested persons asymptotically approaches zero.

I’ve seen evidence for this in the comment sections of many blogs that have criticized or condemned the Sad Puppies. A common comment goes something like this: “Wow! I never knew that you could vote for the Hugos without going to Worldcon! And I just downloaded the free preview of Monster Hunter International. This is way cool!” Zing! The world gets another Puppy.

The emotional tenor of the criticism matters too. I’ve seen a few comments that go something like this: “I’d never heard of the Sad Puppies before. I’ve been trying to figure out which side is right, but the sheer nastiness of the Sad Puppies’ critics makes me think they’re just sore losers. I’m more or less with the Puppies now.” ….

And those streisands just keep piling up.

It’s something like a sociological law: Commotion attracts attention. Attention is unpredictable, because it reaches friend and foe alike. It can go your way, or it can go the other way. There’s no way to control the polarity of adverse attention. The only way to limit adverse attention is to stop the commotion.

In other words, just shut up.

I know, this is difficult. For some psychologies, hate is delicious to the point of being psychological crack, so it’s hard to just lecture them on the fact that hate has consequences, including but hardly limited to adverse attention.

My conclusion is this: The opponents of Sad Puppies 3 put them on the map, and probably took them from a fluke to a viable long-term institution. I don’t think this is what the APs intended. In the wake of the April 4 announcement of the final Hugo ballot, I’d guess the opposition has generated several hundred kilostreisands of adverse attention, and the numbers will continue to increase. Sad Puppies 4 has been announced. Larry Correia and Brad Torgersen have lots of new fans who’d never heard of them before. (I just bought the whole Monster Hunter International series and will review it in a future entry.)

To adapt a quote from…well, you know damned well whose quote I’m adapting: “Attack me, and I will become more popular than you could possibly imagine.”

 

Steve Davidson on Amazing Stories

“No Award is Not the Nuclear Option” – May 1

One final note.  Some are arguing that rejecting all slated items punishes those who were not willing participants/had no knowledge they were being included.  The solution there is simple.  If you have an eligible work in any given year, clearly state somewhere that you do not participate in campaigning for the awards, reject any involuntary inclusion in such and do not give permission for your name and works to be included.  Most everyone who would be in such a position in years to come have already pretty much taken a position:  they’re either happy to take advantage of whatever benefit may be derived from being included on a slate, or they do not want to have anything to do with it.  I’m pretty sure that the vast majority of voters will take you at your word – whether you are ultimately included on a slate or not.

 

Steve Davidson on Amazing Stories

“Thoughts on the Hugo Voters Packet” – May 2

Participation by authors and publishers was always presented as being voluntary on their part.  Largely unspoken was the implied strong-arming:  if you didn’t provide copies of a nominated work, you were likely insuring that the work in question would not win.

Last year, commentary regarding the publishers that chose not to participate in the packet pretty much follow those lines – not to mention edging over into public castigation of the publishing house itself.  (Bad, bad publisher for not giving us free stuff.)

What follows on those coattails is pretty obvious:  a growing sense of entitlement on the part of voters – a trap I myself fell into this year.  I’d fully intended to read Cixin Lius’ The Three Body Problem (having been assured by no one less than its translator that it was worth the read) but the buzz made it so obvious that the novel would be on the final ballot that I chose to wait to get my free copy.  And then of course the puppies shit the bed, and the first uncensored thought that popped into my head was “dammit, now I’m going to have to buy that novel!”.

Of course things have shifted again and Three Body is back on the ballot, so I will be getting a free copy (presumably), but in order to punish myself for those uncensored thoughts, I’m going to be buying a copy today.  (I sure hope I like it….spending good money on a flyer like that….when I coulda gotten it for free….)

I find it odd that I do not have the same sense of entitlement regarding review copies that are or are not supplied to me for free by publishers looking to get a marketing push.  Sometimes stuff just arrives in the mail (hey!  yay!  Free Book!) and sometimes I write to the author or editor or publicist or publisher and request a copy.  Sometimes I get one (hey!  yay!  Free Book!) and sometimes I don’t even get a courtesy brush off, but I don’t even think about booing.

Maybe I feel entitled to the Hugo Packet because I spent forty or fifty bucks on a Supporting Membership (or more for an attending membership)?  But there ought to be a disconnect there because a Supporting Membership is not a discount book program.  It’s supporting the convention, of which the Hugo Awards are but one part.  It’s for supporting the people who have been working on the convention for probably the past three or four YEARS.  It’s supposed to be my way of saying:  I can’t be there in person this year, but I believe in what you folks are doing and want to see it continue, so here’s some money.

I am positive beyond any shred of doubt that I am not the only Hugo Voter who has had this creeping sense of entitlement grow upon them over the past several years.

 

Jaye Em Edgecliff

“Puppies…” – May 2

Do not, instead, decide that it’s about bringing back the good ol’ adventure yarn in places of “message fic” (also do not knock “message fic” while it is possible to witness your orgasmic pleasure you derive by merely typing the name Robert A Heinlen, it REALLY spoils your point), but then start bitching that things don’t qualify when numerous items are pointed out, but those items just happen to have females who play a role other than damsel in distress (Uh, one word for you, buddies, little thing you probably never heard of from the early 20th century Triplanetary … she wasn’t a damsel in distress), characters who incidentally are gay or trans or black or fuchsia or vegetarian or ¼ amphibian … If you’re trying to claim you aren’t over-privileged, white-supremacist, homophobic, transphobic, etc it’d help if you didn’t call things that are exactly the old-fashioned classic adventure yarn you claim to want “message fic about gay issues [for example]” just because a character is gay.  Trust me, there’s a difference between a character being gay and a story dealing with gay issues.  My stories touch on gay issues, they aren’t strictly about them, and in SF/F there frequently is the conceit that the society has no gay issues in the first place….

 

Anthony Vicino on One Lazy Robot

“Why Ratings and Reviews Don’t Matter Anymore (sort of)” – May 2

[A lot of interesting statistical analysis in here. Can’t even begin to scratch the surface with an excerpt.]

In particular, the books with the most lopsided ratings tend to be from self-published authors. What do I mean by this? Well, self-published authors, whether they be fairly popular, or not, tend to have significantly higher ratings than their traditionally published brethren.

Before we get into the why and the how, I want to substantiate this claim with some examples. I spent a little bit of time this morning compiling some datas that I now want to throw in your face. Incoming!

First, I googled top 100 science fiction books of all time. What pops up reads as a who’s who of sci-fi literary mastery. So I just went down the list, took the top 12 titles and searched their Amazon rating to get a baseline. Here we go:

 

William Shaw in Oxford Student

“Censorship and the Hugo awards” – May 2

You see, Beale and his supporters mounted this campaign because they believed that the awards were being dominated by broadly left-wing fiction because of the censorship of a shadowy group of left-wing authors, rather than because the books they wanted to see nominated just weren’t any good. And so they decided to stuff the ballot. They reacted to an unfounded conspiracy of censorship by actively engaging in censorship themselves. What happens to the Hugos as a result of this still ongoing controversy remains to be seen, but we can learn a crucial lesson from it. Which is that the would-be censor can all too easily turn anti-censorship rhetoric to their advantage. We must be mindful of that, and remain vigilant if we want to see truly free and open artistic expression.

 

 

Kate Paulk on Mad Genius Club

“A Mad Genius Goes to RavenCon (Part the Second)” – May 2

Much joyous conversation was had upon the nature of weaponry, the importance of ending the Sadness of the Canines of Youth, and the prospect of selling buttons with the arcane cantrip “Barfly Central is my Safe Space”. And lo! The Convention of Raven has not descended to the madness of the Safe Space, for among the Secret Masters of Fandom in the shining city of Richmond there are those who know the never-to-be-spoken truth: that the Safe Space so celebrated by the Glittery Warriors of Social Justice is merely the demon of Apartheid masquerading under a pretty name and suit of demonic glitter….

Upon completion of the panel, the warrior maiden did retreat to her “safe space” (Barfly Central) wherein she did converse with many of the Flies of Bar and did meet in person the redoubtable warriors John C Wright and L Jagi Lamplighter (for as with many in these modern times the warrior maiden had conversed with both through the Internet of Tubes). ‘Twas here that Kate the Impaler did learn of the attempt of the GOH of Wrongness to have a person ejected from the Convention of Raven and that the GOH of Wrongness did have no copanelists. Speculation there was that the GOH of Wrongness was of such wrongness that no other wished to join for any panel.