Pixel Scroll 12/20/16 Where’s The Pixel? There Was Supposed To Be A Scroll-Shattering Pixel!

(1) CUTTING ROOM FLOOR. From ScienceFiction.com I learned about Vashi Nedomansky’s video that collects all the Rogue One material used in publicity that never shows up in the movie.

It is a good sign when on the first weekend a film is out fans are already scrutinizing footage and looking for information about how it was put together, and trying to figure out if there are any extra pieces to the puzzle out there that they can view. Fortunately for us all, one man in particular was so enamored by ‘Rogue One‘ (and I do not blame him as I too loved the movie) that he took the time to comb through the teaser, the trailers, and all of the promos he could find for ‘Rogue One’ and discover 46 shots used in the marketing campaign that did not actually make the final cut of the film.


(2) THOSE WERE THE DAYS. AND STILL ARE. There’s a lot to learn about the history of sf publishing from “Tor’s Best- and Worst-Selling Author: A Conversation Between Tom Doherty and L.E. Modesitt Jr.” at Tor.com.

The next phase of the conversation was something that can really only result when you get a couple of people with several decades of industry experience together.

DOHERTY: Of course, when I became publisher of Ace, that was the year that the Science Fiction Writers of America discontinued the publisher Hugo. I could almost take that personally. Pat LoBrutto, who was at Ace then, went over to Doubleday, and I brought Jim Baen in from Galaxy. Jim’s heart always was in short stuff, though. He loved military science fiction, but he really loved magazines and the magazine approach. Eventually, well—I liked much of what Jim did, but I didn’t want it to be all we did.

MODESITT: Well, but that’s what he’s done at Baen, in essence.

DOHERTY: And it worked out fine because, when I brought David in from Timescape, Ron Bush had gone from publisher of Ballantine, where he had renamed the Ballantine science fiction Del Rey after Judy-Lynn, over to Pocket Books. As president of Pocket Books, Ron tried to hire Jim away, because Ron, having come out of running Del Rey, was very high on science fiction and wanted a strong science fiction line over there, but Jim didn’t want to go to work for a big corporation. I knew Ron quite well over the years, so I called him up and said “hey Ron, look, Jim doesn’t want to join a big corporation, but he’s always dreamed to have his own company to do things in the way he saw them. And he’s a fine editor. You’re trying to hire him, you know that. Suppose we make a company for you to distribute, and you’ll be the distributor and we’ll be the publisher. We’ll make what we can make but you’ll make a guaranteed profit on the distribution.” And he thought, why not?

MODESITT: Well, it’s still working for him.

DOHERTY: It’s still working, and that’s how we started Baen Books. I actually gave Jim the inventory to start Baen. I allowed him to take any authors who wanted to go to the startup with Simon & Schuster, any authors that he had brought in that he had worked on. And that was the initial inventory, the first year of Baen. So they would have been Tor books.

MODESITT: I don’t know. I think it worked out better for all sides.

DOHERTY: I think it worked out just great. Baen is still a healthy company doing nicely under Toni [Weisskopf], and, hey, I’m still a partner over there.

MODESITT: Sort of the silent partner.

DOHERTY: A very silent partner. They do it all themselves. It would be conflict of interest to get too involved, but it’s fun to be part of it even on the outside.

(3) DARK SIDE OF THE ENT. Mariel Katherine shares “My Darth Vader Christmas Tree.”

(4) ALL WE ARE SAYING IS, GIVE ALT A CHANCE. From the Newsthump style manual —

“I’m not Sith, I’m Alt-Jedi, clarifies Darth Vader”

The Alt-Jedi are best known for rejecting mainstream Jediism in favour of provocative behaviour designed to outrage the consensus, such as force-choking people and destroying worlds in colossal gouts of laser fire.

(5) HINES BENEFIT AUCTION #21. The twenty-first of Jim C. Hines’ 24 Transgender Michigan Fundraiser auctions is for a manuscript critique – up to 80K words – by Leah Bobet.

Attention authors: today’s auction is for the critique of a manuscript, up to 80,000 words, from award-winning author Leah Bobet. You’ll send your manuscript to Bobet by February 1, and she’ll return your critique by March 15.

This auction is open worldwide.

(6) BOND. 24-POUND BOND. Remember when writers only had to worry about producing manuscripts? Now Writers Digest is even offering advice about “5 Life-Saving Techniques for Surviving a Garden Gnome Attack During the Holidays”.

Keep reading if you want to live.

Garden gnome attacks rise sharply during the holidays. This phenomenon is because people’s affection for Santa’s elves causes them to confuse friendly North Pole helpers with the vicious murdering murderers known as garden gnomes (gnomus hortus).

We must always remember that while gnomes enjoy a public image whitewash that passes them off as symbols of merriment and goodwill, they are secretly planning home invasions all over the world in a grand plan of evisceration and death. (Wait a minute—does that gnome look a little closer to the pet door than yesterday? Better board up the house just to be safe.) While we don’t know why gnomes attack us—for our metal? our spices?—we can be certain that they want us all dead. In 2016, the Gnome Defense Hotline based in Berlin has recorded 1,017 confirmed attacks worldwide….

(7) POPPINS RETURNS. Mary Poppins is coming back to the screen in 2018. SciFiNow says Dick Van Dyke, Angela Lansbury and Lin-Manuel Miranda will be in there with her somewhere. But I hope they get busy filming, because two of the three are quite antique.

Mary Poppins Returns set to take place 25 years after the events of the original film, and will see Mary Poppins, um, return to the Banks’ household when Jane and Michael experience a personal loss.

Chicago and Into The Woods director Rob Marshall is helming the film, which will feature an original screenplay from David Magee based on childrens’ author PL Travers’ The Mary Poppins Stories. Marshall, John DeLuca and Marc Platt are producing. It will also feature an all-new score by Marc Shaiman and original songs by Shaiman and Scott Wittman.

Joining Streep as Topsy, Miranda was Jack the Street Lamplighter and Lansbury in an unconfirmed role in Mary Poppins Returns are Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins, Colin Firth as bank manager William Weatherall Wilkins, Ben Whishaw as Michael Banks, Emily Mortimer as Jane Banks and Christian Dixon as the Milkman.

(8) THE SCRIPT DOCTOR IS IN. Jason Sanford loathes Passengers but says he has come up with a quick rewrite which totally fixes the film. I haven’t read the end of his post because I’m not ready for spoilers, though he insists he’s morally entitled to deliver them. The fact is, I don’t know if I’m even going to see the film. Whenever I’m ready Sanford’s link will be waiting for me here….

In light of Passengers being a SF story loved only by manipulative stalkers orbiting the manosphere, here’s a quick script rewrite which saves the film and keeps the rest of us from wasting two hours of our life on sexist BS.

And yes, spoilers.

Big big spoilers.

But if you still want to see this crap film you deserve to have it spoiled.

(9) A CONDEMNATION OF HARRY POTTER. Mimi Mondal, who grew up in Calcutta, asserts “Characters Are Not A Coloring Book Or, Why the Black Hemione is a Poor Apology for the Ingrained Racism of Harry Potter” at The Book Smugglers.

This adamant refusal to see color is the reason why I didn’t feel awkward with Harry Potter at the age when I started reading it; the reason why I can no longer read it without cringing. And color isn’t even the only thing that Harry Potter refuses to see. Sexuality,  religion—you name it. Harry Potter isn’t an offensive text, but it’s equally inoffensive to the homophobic, xenophobic readers. And maybe those are the things that we need to talk about, when we are shocked that the fandom we loved so much as children also managed to nurture the people who are so hateful towards our mere existence.

The inescapable fact is that most minorities never really did exist in Harry Potter, except in a tokenistic way, or retconned into the narrative afterwards. Much before the controversy over the black Hermione, there was the controversy over the gay Dumbledore—one that played out pretty much along the same lines. Nothing in the books suggests that Dumbledore couldn’t have been gay, but nothing in them actually establishes, leave alone defends, his homosexuality either. You can read the vaguest hints of a homoerotic friendship with Grindelwald, but the fan-fiction community had been shipping everyone with everyone else for years, and I can never be sure of what might have been an intended hint in the books. (Sirius Black and James Potter were definitely homoerotic too, right? Non?) In the actual books, Dumbledore was just the generic unpartnered male. I’d have never known, if I didn’t read the “official” announcement on Rowling’s website, that she intended him to be gay.

….I want the racists in my stories, and I want the racists to lose. I want people like the Dursleys to call people like me Paki, nigger, gangster, terrorist, job-stealer, the proverbial dogs that their country is going to, and then I want to see them eat their words. I want to see the Death Eaters swelling with ancestral wealth built over centuries of slavery and colonialism—because aren’t they all old British aristocrats, and how else did those people get rich?—and mouthing their ancestral slurs. (Do you really think Draco Malfoy would’ve let Hermione off with just “Mudblood”, if she happened to be black?) I don’t want Mudblood to be a half-hearted allegory for gay, non-white or any other minority, I don’t want house-elves to enact a half-baked allegory of slaves, because minorities are not allegorical in this world, they’re not equal to the straight white people, and I’m sure Rowling knows that as well as I do.

Now that people have been reading and re-reading these books for going on two decades some have discovered the intrinsic social issues — struggles of the minority wizards versus the majority Muggles, between the wizard-born and “mudbloods,” of totalitarians against the free, or the exercise of supernatural power without allegiance to a deity (controversial among evangelical Christians) – aren’t virulent enough to keep pace with what they’ve learned about life in the real world. (Which is not a complaint you can make about Huckleberry Finn, whatever else someone might think about it.) So were the books inadequate from the start, or is this a consequence of someone who loved them outgrowing them? Rowling dislikes the first possibility as much as anyone, and has tried to patch things by reinterpreting several characters after the fact. But her efforts have been fatally undercut by making a hash of the Pottermore expansion into Native American magic. What does Mondal’s text say should be done with Harry Potter now? I find she doesn’t feel a strong need to erase these books from her Kindle – she simply says “I hate to discover myself more and more rejected by it on each subsequent read.” Mondal may still be making up her mind about the ultimate answer.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Dave Langford, and Jim C. Hines for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cadbury Moose.]

World Fantasy Con 2016 Publishes Policies, Announces GoHs

The 2016 World Fantasy Convention, which will be held October 27-30 in Columbus, Ohio, announced three of its Guests of Honor today.

  • Mercedes Lackey
  • Larry Dixon
  • L.E. Modesitt, Jr

The committee also responded to criticism for failing to post a Code of Conduct or an accessibility policy before the February 1 rate hike by publishing both today.

These statements are on the registration page.

Code of Conduct:

We do not tolerate harassment of the people at our convention in any form.

In order to take action, we need to know about any incident during the convention.

Everyone is entitled to a harassment-free convention experience, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, disability, or physical appearance.

Harassment includes, but is not limited to, inappropriate physical contact, unwelcome sexual attention, offensive verbal comments, deliberate intimidation, stalking or following someone, making harassing photography or recordings, and disrupting talks or other events.  Anyone asked to stop any unacceptable behavior is expected to comply immediately.

A request to “stop” or “go away” means exactly that.  If anyone engages in harassing behavior, the convention committee may warn the offender, remove the offender from the room, or expel the offender from the convention with no refund at the Chairs’ discretion.

If you feel that you are being harassed, or if you notice someone violating hotel or convention policies, we respectfully suggest the following:

  1. If you feel comfortable doing so, point out the inappropriate behavior to the persons involved.  Often this will solve the problem immediately.
  2. If you do not feel comfortable talking with the persons involved or if talking to them does not resolve the issue, please report the situation, in person, immediately to the Operations Staff, or a Convention Committee member.  Try to provide a name (found on all badges) and/or a physical description of the person or persons involved.
  3. In order to take action, we need to know about any incident during the convention.

The Code of Conduct they’ve adopted is nearly identical to the 2014 WFC’s anti-harassment policy, which was reviewed as a successful model at the time.

And the committee’s statement about accessibility says:

The philosophy of our Accessibility Policy is about giving equal access to everyone.

The Hyatt Regency Columbus is an ADA compliant hotel. They have a limited number of ADA hotel rooms for different needs, these are available on a first come first serve basis. The hotel also has public “facilities” that are ADA compliant.

We have made arrangements for signing to be available (upon request) for GOH panels and the Sunday Banquet.

We have reserved the ADA ramp for the Sunday Banquet.

We will have a local phone number on the website for members to make their own arrangements, at their own expense, for mobile wheelchairs (scooters / mobies). We are doing some pre-pricing and will put the number on the website once we have it.

Mari Ness, who earlier opined that four out of the last five World Fantasy Cons have had accessibility issues, made this response:

Earlier today, before the policies were posted, she explained her reasons for making an issue about WFC’s delay in providing an accessibility policy, and for not assuming the legal requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) will avoid all problems:

I haven’t registered yet for World Fantasy Con because I use a wheelchair and I don’t know if the convention will be accessible. “Held in an ADA facility” isn’t enough; I’ve had accessibility issues in ADA facilities.


What I HAVE asked for, repeatedly, is some form of public statement from World Fantasy Con about their accessibility policy. And I have done this because of repeatedly running into accessibility concerns at previous World Fantasy Cons.

And because last year, I paid the same price as other members, and didn’t get the same access to the convention. I had to stay on ground level while my fellow panelists got to go up on the stage.

That’s the moral wrong: I’m paying the same, but I’m not getting the same access.

Pixel Scroll 9/2 Split-Level Headcheese

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

In the same follow-up post, Mixon says:

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(16) John Scalzi weighed in throughout the day.

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

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

The Facts Here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Muttrix 7/1

aka Mongrel in a Mange Land

Today’s roundup includes Abigail Nussbaum, Vox Day, David Dubrow, Peter Grant, L.E. Modesitt, Jr., Doctor Science, Jennifer Brozek, Noah Ward, Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag, Aaron Pound and cryptic others. (Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editors of the day Will Reichard and Kyra.)

Abigail Nussbaum on Asking The Wrong Questions

“The 2015 Hugo Awards: One Month Out” – July 1

It should be clear that I don’t for a moment believe in the Puppies’ indignation–this was clearly an attempt to hurt Tor, a company they identify with the left wing despite the fact that it publishes people like Orson Scott Card and John C. Wright (in the end, this will all turn out to be about Vox Day’s hard-on for Scalzi, as so much of this clusterfuck probably is).  But this does not, in any way, excuse Tor’s actions.  For Doherty to buy the Puppy party line–which has been thoroughly debunked so many times–indicates either that the publisher of a major genre imprint is unaware of the year’s biggest news event within the genre, or that he’s a political fellow traveler.  And the fact that Tor, which was so quick to respond to the outrage of a single bigot, has said nothing in response to the outrage of a huge swathe of fandom including many of their own authors (not even to the extent of closing the comments on Doherty’s letter, which quickly became a toxic swamp of vileness and bigotry), speaks volumes about their priorities and how they see their audience.

To be honest, this experience has left me more disgusted and enraged than even the original Puppy ballots.  I expect vile behavior from vile people.  I do not expect it from one of the genre’s biggest publishers.  The fact that my opinion–and the opinion of so many other fans and readers–clearly does not matter as much to Tor as the opinion of Vox Day is not something that I feel inclined to forget or gloss over, and it has been dispiriting to see so many otherwise sensible people rally to Tor’s defense, for example in response to Day’s proposed boycott.  I’m not saying that I want to boycott Tor myself, but I don’t feel that they should be rewarded either.  If Doherty’s behavior teaches us anything, it’s that Tor is, first and foremost, a business, and businesses only respond to one thing.  Treating them like family–as too much of fandom has been doing–is a mistake, because they will take advantage of your loyalty and then stab you in the back, as we’ve just seen.


Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“The hysteria crescendos” – July 1

Why are they still babbling incoherently about us while simultaneously insisting on our totally irrelevant wrongness?

I don’t know. Perhaps they fear that the record influx of Supporting Members are not all reliable SJWs and Truefen flooding in to defend the Hugo Awards by voting to not give out any awards. Perhaps they notice that my site traffic has continue to rise, and that support for both Sad and Rabid Puppies continues to grow as more sane people observe the behavior of the SJWs and realize we were not exaggerating. Perhaps it is simply a reflection of the wider cultural war that has heated up of late. Perhaps it is a reflection of the economic instability that now haunts even those who don’t pay much attention to the economy. Perhaps it is because we use their tactics against them more effectively than they do.

But whatever the reason, it is clear that they are afraid of me, of you, and of the growing number of people who realize that they are incoherent lunatics who possess an insane and immoral vision for society. Let them hurl spurious labels and tell ridiculous lies. It’s what they do. We are immune to all their pointing and shrieking and posturing and preening attempts to DISQUALIFY.


David Dubrow

“Hugos, Puppies, and Politics” – July 1

Let’s Set the Table

There is not one element of modern life that has not been politicized in some way or other.  Politics have infected everything from education to science to the environment to professional sports to individual entertainment choices.  That’s inarguable.  Who’s responsible for it can be debated elsewhere, but I defy you to find me one human endeavor that hasn’t been touched by politics.

What the American Left has done is deny that their politics are politics at all; that is, they’ve attempted to normalize their point of view as a non-political viewpoint.  Leftism is, therefore, the natural state of things.  This explains why so many Leftists self-identify as independents, moderates or even apolitical despite espousing left-wing ideas, supporting left-wing causes, and voting for left-wing political candidates.  They’re not being political, they’re just doing the right thing.  Leftists have redefined politics as what other people do, not them.

This, of course, excludes those individuals and organizations that specifically identify as progressive, liberal, or left-wing.

The American Right, vastly outnumbered in the entertainment, education, and journalistic industries, tends to conceal itself among the general public a little more than Leftists.  Outside of political environments, conservatives aren’t as explicit about their beliefs, in part because the right-wing point of view hasn’t been as successfully normalized in popular culture.  Right-wingers aren’t cool.  They’re sticks-in-the-mud who resist change, especially social change.   Who wants to be known as a fuddy-duddy?  A conservative might identify himself as an independent, but he’ll rarely call himself a moderate.  He is sensitive to the politicization of modern culture because he resists social change.   He has his political viewpoints and feels about them as strongly as the Leftist, but outside of places where conservatives gather, he tends to keep his cards closer to the vest.

Until now….

By elevating these surface aspects of diversity, the Hugos have been politicized to deliberately exclude authors based on their skin color, gender, and political viewpoint.  White men need not apply, especially conservative white men.  Or conservatives of any color and gender.  Scalzi and his allies have altered the Hugo Awards to focus on message fiction written by people who fit their definition of diversity, not quality science fiction.  As Leftists, they don’t (or can’t) acknowledge that they’re politicizing the Hugos; to them, they’re simply doing what’s right and good and proper (and keeping the riff-raff out).

What’s amazing is that merely pointing out that the Hugos have been politicized leaves one open to attacks of politicization, as though the accusation is enough to condemn the accuser rather than the accused.  So if I point out that Book A was nominated for a Hugo because it espouses a particular viewpoint, not because it’s a good story, I’m the one politicizing the process.  Combine this with how progressives cannot or will not acknowledge that their point of view is political, and you have a very comprehensive, if utterly transparent defense: it’s the Puppies’ fault that the Hugos are a political football because they accused the Leftists of politicizing the Hugos, which is impossible because Leftists don’t practice politics.  Also known as, “I know you are, but what am I?”  Hence, the Puppies’ efforts to nominate stories based on their criteria are, de facto, illegitimate.  It’s perfectly fine to nominate only Leftist message fiction written by Leftists, but it’s gaming the system to nominate science fiction stories written by conservatives.

It may be that you like message fiction and think that science fiction needs a broader diversity of authors to maintain the genre’s relevance in the 21st century.  In which case it’s only natural that you would decry the Puppies’ efforts.  Just know that you’re also engaging in politics.  You’ve decided to redefine the Hugo Awards to celebrate a political viewpoint rather than promote quality fiction.


Peter Grant on Bayou Renaissance Man

“The state of the Tor boycott (and SJW’s)” – July 1

The SJW’s also appear to be trying to conflate the Tor boycott with the Hugo Awards controversy.  Please recall that I didn’t call for a boycott of Tor because of anything to do with the Hugo Awards.  I did so because of the lies and unconscionable actions of a number of senior Tor staff.  It looks to me as if the loony left is grasping at straws here.  Vox Day, who as organizer of the Rabid Puppies is the SJW’s favorite demon, has done a great job cataloging their manic efforts to further polarize and inflame the situation.  I know that some people regard him as all sorts of nasty things because of various incidents in the past, but I don’t know anything about those.  I’ve only had dealings with him since this situation blew up.  In that context, I have nothing but praise for his openness, honesty and willingness to co-operate.


L. E. Modesitt, Jr.

“Readers, Conventions and Sad/Rabid Puppies” – June 30

…. The problem in both politics and the current Sad/Rabid Puppies kerfuffle is that each side’s assumptions behind the words differ. Conservatives view “liberty” and “justice” in terms of property, while liberals focus on human rights. I’d like to think that moderates realize that both property and human rights are essential to a functioning society.

Likewise in the F&SF kerfuffle, it seems to me that the Sad/Rabid Puppies tend to focus more extensively, at times almost exclusively, on the importance of action, storyline, and individual worth and action, while the more “liberal” side insists that the context of the society/world in which storylines exist should play a far greater role, and that no functional future society should be racially/culturally unidimensional. The Sad/Rabid Puppies appear to believe that the other side wants to continue using the Hugo awards to reward works and individuals that further their goals, while the “liberal” side believes that the Sad/Rabid Puppies want to wrench the awards back to representing the male, patriarchal U.S. culture of the 1950s. That’s an oversimplification, since each group has individuals who don’t fit those definitions, but I think it captures the gist of the conflict.

The sad problem is that the unspoken simplistic assumptions on each side ignore their commonalities, and the fact that, for F&SF to continue as a vital form, elements of both sides need to be represented and that neither should “dominate” the awards. Of course, since the politicians and all too many voters haven’t been able to comprehend this concept, why should mere readers and authors?



“Should Christians Engage in the Culture War?” – July 1

Gird Up for the Battle

This group of individuals have decided that they will go down fighting.  It seemed to begin in a movement now called GamerGate.  A journalist was found to have insider ties with the gaming industry that was biasing her reporting.  The flare-up occurred where game designers started to stand up for the rights to make the games they wanted to make, which is only a problem to those that expect that games should meet some arbitrary societal norms—whether it’s the number of females, what clothing they wear, how the racial balance is, and other social issues.

The battle opened up another front on the side of Science Fiction in a clash over the Hugos and the banning of a lifetime member of the Science Fiction Writers of America over a tweet on the SFWAAuthors twitter account promoting a blog post which some took offense to.  This lead to higher participation in the Hugo Awards presented by the SFWA, in which those that had previously not been allowed to participate managed to dominate the categories.

While this is not Christian in nature (some Christians are participating, but the movement in and of itself is not Christian), these people believe that it’s best to fight back against the social justice tyranny they see being forced upon them.


Doctor Science on Obsidian Wings

“Dear Transformative Works Fandom: Please think about voting for the Hugo Awards” – July 1

…I’m particularly encouraging my friends in transformative works and Tumblr fandom to consider voting because you-all are younger than the average Hugo voter (Worldcon members tend to be aging baby boomers, like me), which is good for the future of the award and the fandom, and because many of you have a lot of insights and opinions about visual and audio media: comics, fancasts, TV shows, art….

Should you go to Worldcon?

Last year’s Worldcon was in London, the one before that was in San Antonio, Texas, next year’s is in Kansas City. Because Worldcon moves around, because it’s put together by volunteers, and because it has few or no actors attending, it never gets terribly large compared to Dragoncon, much less ComicCon. Currently, Sasquan has about 4000 attending members and 5000 supporting members, from five continents … plus one in Earth orbit.

Compared to other cons you might have attended, Worldcon runs light on high-gloss movie, TV, and game presentations, but heavy on cosplay and music. Cosplay isn’t just in the halls, there’s also the Masquerade, a judged costume and stage show that always includes some staggeringly beautiful and complex presentations — last year’s Best in Show Winner, “Aratalindale”, for instance, depicted the Valar from Tolkien’s Simarillion. Worldcon music includes performances, filking, and many types of dancing. There’s an Art show and Artist’s Alley, of course. Alas, the deadline for the Writer’s Workshop has passed, but there are lots of other opportunities to talk about writing and fanworks.

I’ll make another post about this year’s Hugo nominees, some historical background, and some possible guidelines about what to look for, but I want to keep it separate from this one. Reblog, tell your friends, think about getting more of us into the structures of SFF fandom. I believe we’re the future of the future, and I encourage you to take up that shiny shiny mantle.


Jennifer Brozek

“Travel and Awards” – June 30

I ended with LepreCon in Phoenix, AZ. Yes, it was hot. Really hot. Like 110+ degrees hot. However, it was a great convention. Highly recommended. Small, enthusiastic, and great guests of honor.

In particular, I was pleased to meet Dayton Ward, whom I know from IAMTW, and David Gerrold (most famous for “Trouble with Tribbles.”), who soothed all my fears about the Sasquan Hugo Awards ceremony. After talking with him about my concerns (David is the host), I feel like I can relax and just enjoy the ride. That’s a huge deal for me.


Noah Ward

“Who Decides The Best SF/F Novels?” – July 1

A recent Sad Puppies related discussion lead to the topic of how well the Goodreads Choice Awards match up with the Hugo nominations. Thus I decided to actually find out, and therefore compiled a list of the works that had appeared on both awards….

Hence the results produced by the last four years of Goodreads Choice Awards imply that the Hugo awards might not the best indication for what the fans consider as the best Fantasy or Science Fiction. Which in turn would suggest that the ‘Puppy narrative’ would posses a kernel of truth when it comes to Hugos being out of touch with the fans of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Yet another kernel to be placed into the sack.

Nevertheless, I cannot say that the Puppies have had a noticeable effect on the actual nomination results themselves. Just like the three years prior; the Hugo ballot is still filled by the same number of appearances from the Goodreads list, and we have that one highly ranked work while the rest come from somewhere nearer to the bottom end of the list….

Goodreads (2013) & Hugo (2014):

  • – A Memory of Light (Wheel of Time) (2nd in Fantasy)
  • – Ancillary Justice (20th in Science Fiction) (Won Hugo)

Goodreads had 119,222 votes cast in Fantasy, 108,739 votes cast in Paranormal Fantasy, and 75,642 votes cast in Science Fiction.

Goodreads (2014) & Hugo (2015):

2/5 of Hugo nominees were found on Goodreads.

  • – Skin Game (3rd in Fantasy)
  • – The Goblin Emperor (16th in Fantasy)
  • – Ancillary Sword (12th in Science fiction)
  • – Lines of Departure (20th in Science Fiction) (Withdrawn)

Goodreads had 233,644 votes cast in Fantasy, and 146,367 votes cast in Science Fiction.

4/5 of Hugo nominees were found on Goodreads.

[Survey also covers four earlier periods.]


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

“Hugo Reading – Novella” – July 1

[Comments on all five nominees.]

I only was able to complete one of the stories in this category from start to finish, the rest just don’t deserve to be on the ballot at all. I guess I’ll give “Flow” a ranking, probably below “No Award”, and leave the rest off. It’s sad, though. There must be some better works out there, but having three pieces by the same writer in one category? That’s just pathetic. Perhaps that’s what they mean by “sad” puppies?

Seriously, though, I really want to hear from the people who nominated these works. I want to hear why they thought these stories deserved the Hugo. I want to know what it is about these particular works that makes them literally the BEST things they read in 2014. I need to know what criteria those readers were using to pick these works, because for most of them I cannot fathom what would possess anyone who actually read the stories to say, “Yes, this is the best of the year.” And I particularly cannot believe all three of those Wright stories were seriously considered that good by anyone, much less by enough people to get them nominated.


Aaron Pound on Dreaming About Other Worlds

“Review – Analog Science Fiction and Fact: Vol. CXXXIV, No. 11 (November 2014) by Trevor Quachri (editor)” – June 30

Following in a pattern established by Analog over the last few years, Flow by Arlan Andrews, Sr. is another story fragment masquerading as a novella. Unlike many of the other stories chopped up into shorter lengths as a result of this odd editorial practice, Flow doesn’t feel like the filler in between other, more interesting parts of the story. Instead, Flow feels like filler between other filler.


Roger BW’s Blog

“Hugo 2015: Graphic Story” – June 30

[Reviews all five nominees.]

Well, none of these makes me want to dash out and read the next chapter. Maybe I shouldn’t vote in this category at all: these comics are evidently not aimed at me. If I do, it’ll be purely by my enjoyment, in which case Sex Criminals comes top, Saga bottom, and the other two in between, Rat Queens probably above Ms. Marvel. I really have no feel for what’s “Hugo-deserving quality” here.

Furface Tension 6/26

aka A Puppy Thing Happened on the Way to the INB Performing Arts Center

Although the roundups generally copy little material from the File 770 comment section, it is heavily represented today. The roll call includes: L.E. Modesitt Jr., Lee Wise, Vox Day, Lela E. Buis, Bruce Baugh, Kary English, Lis Carey, Spacefaring Kitten, Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag, Dave Weingart, Christopher Chupik, Declan Finn, Kyra, and a few Shy Others. (Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editors of the day Paul Oldroyd and  ULTRAGOTHA.)

 L.E. Modesitt Jr.

“The Illusion of Social Media” – June 26

One of the great benefits touted by exponents of social media is that it brings people together. It does indeed, but each social media group brings together only those sharing similar views.

A good example of this lies in the “sad puppies/rabid puppies” kerfuffle involving “slate voting” to determine the nominees for the annual World Science fiction awards. The situation continues and appears to be getting increasingly acrimonious, with partisans on each side making declarations and demands, and even threatening the boycott of the books of one major F&SF publisher because of the intemperate comments of two employees on social media.

From what I can tell, this acrimony likely involves at most perhaps several thousand individuals, and probably less than a few hundred who are deeply involved and committed… and who feel that the entire literary “culture” of fantasy and science fiction is threatened in one way or another, with the “liberal” side declaring that “traditional” F&SF is the bastion of old white males who embody all of those stereotypes, and the “sad/rabid puppy” side declaring that the liberals have hijacked F&SF into everything they detest, including novels that focus on multi-culturalism, gender diversity, extreme environmentalism, etc. Each side is industriously employing social media to assail the other.

The truth is that F&SF is big enough for both sides, and in fact is far bigger than either…..


Lee Wise on Lee’s Blog

“They came for the fen…” – June 26

….And then I learned that Gallo and her ilk were claiming that all emails objecting to her libel and that of other senior people at Tor were being generated by bots. Peter Grant requested that people email several people at Tor and their parent company Macmillan, copy to him, to prove that real people were emailing.

So I did. For the first time in my life, I emailed a company. And you know what I got back?


Neither Tor nor Macmillan so much as acknowledges emails on the subject. They could have — and one would have expected them to have — a bot of their own that acknowledged your email and thanked you for your input. It needn’t have any reference to what you actually wrote. But they didn’t even bother with that.

So, Peter Grant called for a boycott of Tor. It will be fairly difficult for me to boycott Tor since they haven’t been publishing much of anything that I care to read anyway. Gallo and her ilk are undoubtedly responsible for this. Still, I’m being careful these days. I spent $66.91 on ebooks last Saturday — pretty standard — but none of them came from Tor.


Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“Fire Irene Gallo” – June 26

The continued refusal of Tor Books to hold Irene Gallo responsible for her actions demonstrates that labeling Tor’s customers “racist neo-Nazis” and Tor’s own books “bad-to-reprehensible” is observably acceptable to its management, no matter what feeble protests Tom Doherty may offer.


Lela E. Buis

“No such thing as bad publicity…” – June 25

I’ve read some posts to the effect that this is the most entertaining Hugo season ever. We now see how the bad press is playing out. Because of the brouhaha, many more people now know that there is a Hugo Award for science fiction and/or fantasy. WorldCon is busting at the seams, and supporting memberships are going like hotcakes. People are busy reading and reviewing the nominations. Do you suppose the Nebula’s could arrange for Vox Day to game their system next year? Nevermind, just kidding.

A few blogs back, I did suggest that Day was in marketing mode with this Rabid Puppies scheme. His name has been up there in the lights for weeks now. The interesting thing is, so has the Hugo Awards, WorldCon, Tor Books, Irene Gallo, Moshe Feder and Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden. I’d be willing to bet Tor comes out with a little spike in sales.


Bruce Baugh on Obsidian Wings

“On accusations of *-ism and prejudice” – June 26

[Promoted from a File 770  comment to a standalone blog post.]

….Other people believe that we never altogether escape our legacies, and that they include a bunch of ugly screwed-up stuff as well as good things. We can — and should — aim to do better, but perfection isn’t attainable, and we are likely to do small harms (and sometimes larger ones) all the time. Sometimes it’s through ignorance, sometimes it’s through laziness and unwillingness to change the habits that give hurt, usually it’s a fair dose of both. In this view, dishing out harm is a routine though unwelcome part of life, and it’s no great achievement — but also no great burden, really — to respond by acknowledging it, apologizing, seeing what you can do to repair things, and then working to not do that particular one again. As Huey Lewis put it once, “All I want from tomorrow / is to get it better than today.”

This view is more common among people who are “marked”: those who are hyphenated Americans, who will have to say something to avoid incorrect assumptions about the sex or gender of their loved ones, who can expect to be called a “lady X” instead of just “an X”, and so on. They have more experience of being on the receiving end of a lot of unintended but nonetheless genuinely hurtful junk, and of seeing other deny responsibility for the hurt they’ve given. They see too how even when dealing with their own friends, family, and peers, disparaging attitudes about their kind can slip in and color what they do. (This is what “internalized” bigotry means: believing crap about yourself and people like you, and treating yourself or others like you the way people with social advantages over you are prone to.)

In my view, the second approach is vastly more realistic. We do all screw up a bunch all the time. Nobody can go through life constantly apologizing…but we can go through life recognizing that we do things worth apologizing for all the time, and try to do better. We can be humble about our limitations….


Kary English in a comment on File 770 – June 26

[“Kary’s apology” included at her request.]

I also wish people like Brad, Larry and other SP notables would come out and say “Hey, this* isn’t what we intended or what we hoped would happen. We’re sorry the whole thing has become such a mess.” (*where “this” means locking up the ballot and shutting out other works)

I don’t consider myself a spokesperson for the SP, or even an SP notable, but I’ll say it. I never got involved in this with any idea that I’d even make the ballot, much less that VD would run his own campaign or that there would be a ballot sweep. If I’d known that, I wouldn’t have participated. To the extent that I’ve been part of that, even unknowingly, I apologize.

It seems I can’t say anything remotely in that vein without someone saying that if I truly thought that, I would withdraw. I’ve already given my reasons for not withdrawing, but I’ll mention again that a large part of it is not giving Vox Day the satisfaction.

All that stuff about nominating liberals just to watch them self-flagellate and see how fast they withdraw? I’m not his marionette, and I won’t dance to his tune. He set us up to be targets, just like he set up Irene Gallo. I’m not giving in to Vox Day.


Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“Captain America: The Winter Soldier, screenplay by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely, concept and story by Ed Brubaker, directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo (Marvel Entertainment, Perception, Sony Pictures Imageworks)” – June 26

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form 2015 Hugo nominee

Captain America fights Hydra and confronts the deadly Hydra agent the Winter Soldier, who turns out to be [spoiler]….

The level of violence was too high for me to fully enjoy the Neat Superhero Stuff, though.

Overall, not really my cup of tea.


Reading SFF

“2015 Hugo Awards Reading: The Parliament of Beasts and Birds – John C. Wright (Short Story)” – June 26

Concerning the story: I was not impressed. It seems to be a religious (christian) parable of some kind and, adding to the annoyance over the vocab, I have the distinct impression that JCW is showing off how smart he is. I bet there are a bunch of references that I do not get because of how dumb and uneducated I am and didn’t do my bible studies diligently enough. (Or ever 😉 ). So now everyone knows that JCW is able to actively use a lot of randgruppen** words, knows his christian mysticism and is so very educated.

As you can see, the story’s prose and style annoyed so much that I barely was able to follow the actual story. Can’t be much good then. I didn’t like it.


TPI’s Reading Diary

“My Hugo award votes 2015 part 3 – Novellas” – June 25

[Reviews all five nominees.]

“Pale Realms of Shade”, John C. Wright (The Book of Feasts & Seasons, Castalia House) The story starts as a sort of supernatural thriller. A detective has been murdered and his ghost has been waked up. His wife wishes that he should reveal his murderer and rule out the suicide in order to release the insurance compensation. (I wonder how the suicide is even suspected as apparently the victim was shot several times). He then meets temptations before finally he gets an atonement. The first few chapters offered some promise – the writing was slightly clumsy, but the premise as itself seemed interesting. Alas, the story went from below average to mediocre and eventually to ridiculously bad. The writing was clumsy, there were sentences like this: “Sly had come across the dead body of a man who had — let’s be frank with this now — I rode him pretty hard some times.”. What does that even mean? The plot went from allegorical to pounding heavy-handed religion with a sledgehammer. What we learn from this story: a freethinker is about same thing as a devil worshipper. One of the worst things I have read.


Spacefaring Kitten on Spacefaring, Happy Kittens

“Groundhogs in Battle Armor: Edge of Tomorrow” – June 26

Edge of Tomorrow, adapted from Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s novel All You Need Is Kill, may not stand a change in the Hugo race, because Interstellar was made the same year — and that’s arguably one of the best (if not the best) SFF movies of all time. Still, it’s an enjoyable science fiction film with good storytelling and interesting characters.


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

“Hugo Reading – Graphic Story” – June 26

[Reviews all five nominees.]

The top spot has to go to either Saga or Sex Criminals. I’m more impressed with what Saga managed to do in what is clearly a single volume of a long ongoing story, so I think I’ll probably give the top spot to Saga and the second to Sex Criminals. The clear third-place winner is Rat Queens, which is much more amusing than the top two, but just not quite as good. The Ms. Marvel volume is solidly in fourth place while Zombie Nation will take up the rearguard of the five nominees. If I wasn’t a charitable sort, I’d leave Ms. Marvel and Zombie Nation off the ballot entirely. But I’m inclined to include them.




Christopher Chupik in a comment on “How Authors Get Paid Part 2” at Monster Hunter Nation

Sad Puppies Monthly? I’d submit to that. It could be more hated among the SJW crowd than Baen in no time.


[Declan Finn is a man of great simplicity of mind.]


Kyra in a comment on File 770 – June 26

… Well. Now that I’ve managed to stop crying with joy about the Supreme Court decision for the moment, a brief word about short stories:

A is for Asimov, yes I’m his fan, especially for Bicentennial Man.

B is for Bixby, I read him and squealed; read It’s A Good Life (or end up in the field.)

Collier, genius that nobody knows, I treasure my copy of Evening Primrose.

Delany’s unique, with no mimics or clones; he saw Time As A Helix Of non-high-priced Stones.

Ellison, man of cantankerous bent, knew even a Harlequin has to Repent.

Foster just left, but we haven’t forgot her, and now that it’s Ended, I hope that He Caught Her.

G is for Gaiman, a winner because he scores with as few words as Nicholas Was …

Heinlein’s the standard by which some judge worth; my personal favorite? Green Hills Of Earth.

(I didn’t read any I’s, so I’ll just go with Ing, whose Devil You Don’t Know I guess was a thing?)

J’s for Dianna Wynne Jones, I’ll decide – just take any section out of her Tough Guide.

Keyes left us little, but each word we crave, we all lay our Flowers on Algernon’s grave.

LeGuin has so much that it’s hard to pick one, but I’ll go with Intracom just ’cause it’s fun.

M is for Merrill, who wrote like no other, her work is loved (and not Only by her Mother.)

N is for Niven, grandmaster for real, whose Woman of Kleenex met a Man of Steel.

O is for Orwell, a heck of a fella — and Animal Farm’s, technically, a novella.

Padgett, the union of Kuttner and Moore, who wrote The Proud Robot, which I just adore.

(Quaglia I’ve not read, but now Q’s represented; I’ve heard that his writing is good but demented.)

R is for Russ, and will not be exchanged; when she started writing, well, that’s When It Changed.

Sturgeon’s law states that most everything’s crap, but his Baby is Three neatly sidesteps that trap.

Tiptree, oh Tiptree, the greatest indeed; I ask, Houston, if you’ve skipped her, Do You Read?

U is for Utley, another departed, but Shattering came out as strong as he’d started.

Varley, most everyone knows, is top rank, you just can’t Overdraw from his Memory Bank.

Weinbaum was right there when all of this started and his Martian Odyssey’s still well-regarded.

(X is unknown, but don’t mock it or scoff, put here all the many I had to leave off.)

Yolen’s output is both varied and vast; The Devil’s Arithmetic showed us the past.

Zelazny is here as the final contender; how fitting for Camelot’s Last great Defender.