Pixel Scroll 7/10/16 Captain Pixel Pants

(1) JIM HENLEY POOPS ON SPACE. In comments, Jim deposited this link to a report that long-duration space habitation impairs vision in 80% of astronauts. (Hey, “poops” is his word.)

In 2005, astronaut John Phillips took a break from his work on the International Space Station and looked out the window at Earth. He was about halfway through a mission that had begun in April and would end in October.

When he gazed down at the planet, the Earth was blurry. He couldn’t focus on it clearly. That was strange — his vision had always been 20/20. He wondered: Was his eyesight getting worse?

“I’m not sure if I reported that to the ground,” he said. “I think I didn’t. I thought it would be something that would just go away, and fix itself when I got to Earth.”

It didn’t go away.

During Phillips’ post-flight physical, NASA found that his vision had gone from 20/20 to 20/100 in six months.

Rigorous testing followed. Phillips got MRIs, retinal scans, neurological tests and a spinal tap. The tests showed that not only had his vision changed, but his eyes had changed as well.

The backs of his eyes had gotten flatter, pushing his retinas forward. He had choroidal folds, which are like stretch marks. His optic nerves were inflamed.

Phillips case became the first widely recognized one of a mysterious syndrome that affects 80 percent of astronauts on long-duration missions in space. The syndrome could interfere with plans for future crewed space missions, including any trips to Mars.

(2) THE TAKING-UP-SPACE PROGRAM. You might say The Traveler at Galactic Journey doesn’t see eye-to-eye with editor John W. Campbell, who spent 20 pages criticizing the space program in Analog: “[July 10, 1961] The Last Straw (Campbell’s Wrong-Headed Rant In The August 1961 Analog]“

Campbell’s argument is as follows:

1) America could have had a man in space in 1951, but America is a democracy, and its populace (hence, the government) is too stupid to understand the value of space travel.

2) The government’s efforts to put a man in space are all failures: Project Vanguard didn’t work.  Project Mercury won’t go to orbit.  Liquid-fueled rockets are pointless.

3) Ford motor company produced Project Farside, a series of solid-fueled “rock-oons,” on the cheap, so therefore, the best way to get into space…nay…the only way is to give the reins to private industry.

Campbell isn’t just wrong on every single one of these assertions.  He’s delusional.

(3) WHO DAT? The Mirror stirs up rumors in its news article “Can Matt Smith be the first Doctor Who to regenerate as himself?”

Matt Smith may be about to travel back in time to play Doctor Who again.

Show boss Steven Moffat has hinted Smith could be the first of the 12 Doctors to return to the Tardis after regenerating.

Matt, who stars as Prince Phillip in Netflix’s big-budget royal drama The Crown in November, has made no secret of his desire to return, saying last year: “They will ask me back one day, won’t they?”

Matt’s successor Peter Capaldi has been tipped to bow out after the next series, currently being filmed for release in 2017.

And Moffat, who is leaving after his sixth season next year has said Matt is “quite open about how much he misses it, and how much he wishes he hadn’t left”.

(4) OH SAY DID YOU HEAR? A piece by Carly Carioli in the July 1 Boston Globe called “Did the Star-Spangled Banner land Igor Stravinsky in Jail?” explores the issue of whether or not Stravinsky was arrested for playing a radical arrangement of the national anthem in 1944.  (He wasn’t because he substituted the traditional arrangement at the last minute.)

The sf connection is that Carioli linked to a photo of Stravinsky.  “The novelist Neil Gaiman thought it was a mug shot.  He sent the image to the blog Boing-Boing a few years ago, along with an astounding plot-point:  He claimed that Stravinsky had been arrested in Boston” for his weird arrangement.

Spoiler alert: The photo is not a mug shot, and Stravinsky was never arrested. But the real story of what happened to the composer in Boston is an incredible tale. He did compose a weird arrangement of the national anthem, and the Boston police really did ban him from performing it — sparking a national uproar and a tense showdown that played out live on the radio.

The Boston Globe has a tight paywall of five articles a month, so good luck clicking through.

(5) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born July 10, 1923 – Earl Hamner, Jr.
  • Born July 10, 1926 – Fred Gwynne
  • Born July 10, 1929 – George Clayton Johnson
  • Born July 10, 1941  — David G. Hartwell

(6) HUGO NOVELETTES REVIEWED. Rich Horton explains how he is ranking the Hugo-nominated Novelettes on Strange at Ecbatan.

As I wrote in my first post in this series: I am not planning to reflexively rank Rabid Puppy entries below No Award. I am of course disgusted by the Rabid Puppy antics, and I feel that many worthier stories were kept off the ballot by the Rabid choices. And if a story is bad enough, it will certainly be off my ballot, with No Award the last choice. (That’s always been my approach.) But, this year in particular, many of the nominees supported by the Rabid Puppies were either unaware of that, or aware and quite clearly not happy with that. Also, I don’t want to reduce the meaningfulness of the win for those worthy winners – if they finish first and No Award is second, to my mind it to some extent delegitimizes their wins, through no fault of their own. Better to have been chosen the best with every voting on merit than voted best simply because all the other choices were automatically rejected regardless of quality.

(7) STEPHEN KING. Lisa J. Goldstein reviews Stephen King’s Hugo-nominated novelette: “Obits” at inferior4+1.

Sometimes I think that Stephen King is too skilled a writer for his own good.  No, wait, hear me out.  “Obits” is about an obituary writer who discovers that when he writes obituaries about live people, they end up dead.  It’s not an earth-shattering idea, and I’d bet that any number of writers have come up with something similar.  Other writers, though, would try to figure out where the story should go, how it should end, if it would be too predictable — and when they finished with all of that, they’d decide that the idea wouldn’t work, that it’s just not a very good concept for a story.

(8) CHIMERA CREATURES. Mary Lowd has been rescuing stuffed animals and playing mad scientist in order to resurrect them. She displays the results in a photo gallery.

The Subjects:

For this project, subjects were gathered from local dispensaries of unwanted toys.  Most of the specimens were procured from various Goodwills, but a few were found at St. Vinnie’s and Sarah’s Treasures.  Excluding a few exceptional specimens, they all cost between $1 and $2.  Even the exceptional ones cost at most $4.  In order for a specimen to be suitable, it had to be in good condition, contain nice parts, but be — shall we say — uninspiring in its totallity.  Several specimens were rejected for inclusion due to being too lovable in their original, unaltered forms.  All of the specimens selected for final inclusion in the project are pictured below in Fig. 1 – 3.

(9) WHEN LUCY LAUNCHED A THOUSAND STARSHIPS. Many writers have been fascinated to discover Lucille Ball played a role in getting Star Trek on the air. The latest retelling of the tale is “How Lucille Ball Saved Star Trek at Entertainment Weekly.

While many series were being shot at Desilu, the studio was in dire need of original programming of its own following the end of The Untouchables in 1963. Herbert Solow, hired to help locate new projects for the studio, brought two notable proposals to Desilu in 1964. One was Mission: Impossible; the other was Roddenberry’s quirky sci-fi idea. When Lucy’s longtime network CBS said no to Trek, Solow and Roddenberry took it to NBC. Science fiction was alien to the network’s schedule, but it ordered a pilot.

According to Solow in Marc Cushman’s history These Are the Voyages, Lucy initially thought Star Trek was about traveling USO performers. But her support for the show was necessary as it became clear how expensive the pilot would be. Lucy overruled her board of directors to make sure the episode was produced.

(10) STAND BY ME (BUT NOT TOO CLOSE). There is a flurry of weird news stories about Pokémon Go players getting hurt or whatnot. Here is the first of several people have sent me today: “Players in hunt for Pokemon Go monsters feel real-world pain” reports ABC’s Chicago affiliate.

Beware: “Pokemon Go,” a new smartphone game based on cute Nintendo characters like Squirtle and Pikachu, can be harmful to your health. The “augmented reality” game, which layers gameplay onto the physical world, became the top grossing app in the iPhone app store just days after its Wednesday release in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand. And players have already reported wiping out in a variety of ways as they wander the real world – eyes glued to their smartphone screens – in search of digital monsters.

Mike Schultz, a 21-year-old communications graduate on Long Island, New York, took a spill on his skateboard as he stared at his phone while cruising for critters early Thursday. He cut his hand on the sidewalk after hitting a big crack, and blames himself for going too slowly. “I just wanted to be able to stop quickly if there were any Pokemons nearby to catch,” he says. “I don’t think the company is really at fault.”

(11) ACHIEVEMENT UNBURIED. One player got more than she bargained for: “Pokémon Go player finds dead body in Wyoming river while searching for a Pokestop”.

The augmented reality game, which was released last week, gets people to catch virtual monsters using the person’s location on their phone.

Nineteen-year-old Shayla Wiggins, from Wyoming, was told to find a Pokemon in a natural water source but instead found a man’s corpse.

“I was walking towards the bridge along the shore when I saw something in the water,” she told County 10 news.

“I had to take a second look and I realised it was a body.”

(12) DARWIN REWARD. Police in Darwin, Australia requested on their Facebook page that players not waltz into their station, which of course is a Pokestop in the game.

For those budding Pokemon Trainers out there using Pokemon Go – whilst the Darwin Police Station may feature as a Pokestop, please be advised that you don’t actually have to step inside in order to gain the pokeballs.

It’s also a good idea to look up, away from your phone and both ways before crossing the street. That Sandshrew isn’t going anywhere fast.

Stay safe and catch ’em all!

(13) ROBBERMON. And then there are the robbers who figured out that setting up a beacon in the game was a surefire way to attract victims.

Police in O’Fallon, Missouri are investigating a series of armed robberies believe that the robbers used the Pokemon Go smartphone app to target victims, according to a post on the department’s Facebook page. Four suspects were arrested early Sunday morning near the intersection of Highway K and Feise Road in O’Fallon after a report of an armed robbery. Police say they are suspected of multiple armed robberies in St. Louis and St. Charles counties in Missouri. A handgun was recovered.

Police believe they used the game to, “add a beacon to a pokestop to lure more players” and then used the app to locate victims.

(14) RISK ASSESSMENT. Fitting in with the week’s tragic news is this take on playing the game: “Warning: Pokemon GO is a Death Sentence if you are a Black Man”.

I spent less than 20 minutes outside. Five of those minutes were spent enjoying the game. One of those minutes I spent trying to look as pleasant and nonthreatening as possible as I walked past a somewhat visibly disturbed white woman on her way to the bus stop. I spent the other 14 minutes being distracted from the game by thoughts of the countless Black Men who have had the police called on them because they looked “suspicious” or wondering what a second amendment exercising individual might do if I walked past their window a 3rd or 4th time in search of a Jigglypuff.

When my brain started combining the complexity of being Black in America with the real world proposal of wandering and exploration that is designed into the gameplay of Pokemon GO, there was only one conclusion. I might die if I keep playing.

(15) TOY QUEST. John King Tarpinian went to a store and personally checked out several of the Hallmark collectible ornaments discussed in a post here at File 770. He says the fidelity of the recordings is “surprisingly good.”

Fidelity COMP

Though about this one he cryptically commented, “No sound but yabba dabba doo.”

Flintstones COMP

(16) MORE TOYS. ScreenRant previews Star Wars toys and figure fans can see at Comic-Con.

Folks heading to San Diego Comic-Con can also get their Star Wars fix from July 21 – 24. If you plan on attending SDCC later this month, make sure to swing by the Hasbro booth (#3213) and have your fill of some new Star Wars figures. Hasbro will also have a panel on Friday, July 22nd at noon to introduce their latest line of exclusives….

As noted above, the Darth Vader, Kanan Jarrus, and Biker Scout figures are 12? models while Rey and Hera Syndulla are just under 4? tall. Kanan and Vader also have “electronic touches” which could mean their light sabers actually glow. These figures will be on display at SDCC, but fans will have to exercise some patience because they won’t be available for purchase until fall 2016 — just in time for Christmas

(17) STAR WARS CON IN LONDON. The same ScreenRant post also links to the 3-day Star Wars Celebration Europe 2016 that takes place in London from July 15 – 17. This event will see several exclusives including the premiere of the third season of Star Wars Rebels and a huge presence from Star Wars video games.

For those of us who can’t make it across the pond, some panels will be streamed, including the Rogue One panel, where we should be in for a new trailer for the spinoff film.

(18) REMEMBERING GEORGE. There will be a George Clayton Johnson Memorial Gathering at Comic-Con International in San Diego on Thursday, July 21 at 9:00 p.m.

Let’s share our memories and adventures of our pal and mentor for over 40 years. George wrote “The Man Trap” the very first Star Trek episode that aired. He also wrote 8 original Twilight Zone episodes, Oceans 11 movie and the “Logan’s Run” novel with William F. Nolan. Panel participants include David Gerrold, Craig Miller, Greg Koudoulian, Gene Henderson, Clayton Moore, Scott Smith, Jimmy Diggs and Anthony Keith

(I don’t know which Clayton Moore this is but it can’t be the one from The Lone Ranger – he passed away in 1999.)

(19) KUBRICK LOST AND FOUND. A 2015 documentary on YouTube, Stanley Kubrick: The Lost Tapes, is based on tapes that a New Yorker writer produced in 1966 for a Kubrick profile. Kubrick discusses the making of Dr. Strangelove at about 20 minutes in to this 25-minute documentary. He discusses his professional relationship with Arthur C. Clarke very briefly beginning at 22:00.

(20) ROD SERLING AND GROUCHO MARX. You Bet Your Life was retooled as Tell It To Groucho and sold to CBS for one short season in early 1962. Here’s half of one of the very few episodes available to view today, featuring Rod Serling.

(21) MORE HARLEY QUINN. The Suicide Squad international trailer dropped.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Petréa Mitchell, Dawn Incognito, Hampus Eckerman, Cat Rambo, Jim Henley, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA.]

Pixel Scroll 6/28/16 The Right To Scroll Pixels Is The Right to Be Free

(1) LEARNING SPACE. Steve Davidson has a fine interview with Jim C. Hines about the Launch Pad Academy Workshop.

Steve Davidson for Amazing Stories Magazine: How did you hear about the Launch Pad Workshop?

Jim C. Hines: I heard about it years ago online — I think it might have been the Speculations writing boards, back when it was still active. At the time, I didn’t feel qualified to apply, in part because I was only writing fantasy.

But I kept an eye on how it was going from year to year, as well as the comments and reports from other attendees.

ASM:  Was it a program you always wanted to participate in or was your interest piqued when you learned about it?

JCH: I’ve been interested in attending ever since I heard about the program, but there was the combination of needing to be able to leave for a week without causing difficulties with work or at home, and having a project where I thought the knowledge would be useful. This year, I’ve started working on my first SF trilogy, and I’d quit my day job last fall, so the timing was perfect.

ASM: How would you describe your familiarity with astronomy, cosmology, etc., prior to attending?

JCH: I think I had some basic foundational knowledge, but most of it wasn’t anything I’d studied in depth. I knew enough to answer most of my kids’ basic questions about space, which astronomical bodies orbit one another, how the seasons work, and so on. And I’d read Douglas Adams, so I knew space was big. Really big.

(2) WOMEN IN SF, 1961. At Galactic Journey, in “[June 28, 1961] The Second Sex in SFF, Part IV”, The Traveler issues an invitation to increase our history of the genre:

Come meet six of these lady authors, four of whom are quite new, and two who are veterans in this, Part IV, of The Second Sex in SFF.

The six are Kit Reed, Jane Dixon Rice, Jane Roberts (the only woman invited for the first science-fiction writers conference in Milford, PA – I didn’t know that), Joanna Russ, Evelyn Smith, and Margaret St. Clair.

(3) YOUR HOUSE IN NORTH AMERICA. At Tor.com, Emily Asher-Perrin has scouted Pottermore for the latest additions: “Get Sorted Into Ilvermorny, the American Hogwarts!”

A ton of new information on the North American magic school, Ilvermorny, was just dropped onto Pottermore. But that’s not all! You can now get Sorted into the various Houses (if you have a Pottermore account, so sign on up).

As a reminder, the four Ilvermorny Houses are Horned Serpent, Wampus, Pukwudgie, and Thunderbird! Here is where you go for the Sorting, provided you have a Pottermore account. (I got Horned Serpent, which seems to be the brainy house? Not what I expected.) These Houses don’t break down quite the same way the Hogwarts ones do; instead, they are associated as follows….

 

(4) HOLD THAT TIGER. Lisa Goldstein reviews another Hugo nominee at inferior4 + 1 “Short Story: ‘Seven Kill Tiger’”.

This review contains spoilers.

“Seven Kill Tiger” by Charles Shao is a disturbing story, but maybe not for the reasons the author thinks.  We start with a deeply unpleasant main character, Zhang Zedong, a company man sent from China to Zambia who needs to improve his production numbers and who is prone to thinking things like “Africa would be a glorious place were it not for the Africans.”  “What he needed was more Han people,” he thinks, and the solution he comes up with is to wipe out the native population of Africa using genetic warfare.

(5) BEST FANCAST. Joe Sherry is “Listening to the Hugos: Fancast” for Nerds of a Feather.

Admission of Bias Time: The longer the podcast, the less interested I am in listening to it. 30 minutes is my sweet spot, I’m comfortable up to an hour, and the farther a podcast goes past an hour the less interested I become, even when the topic and conversation is interesting. Most of the episodes of 8-4 Play run over 90 minutes, with a not insignificant number running over 120 minutes.

8-4 Play did not include links to recommended episodes, so I pulled one from 2015 that was focusing on some video games I was interested in (Zelda and Dragon Quest). 30 minutes later, I was done. 8-4 Play is a video game focused podcast, and it took way too long for the hosts to actually start talking about the games. The opening seemed more focused on refreshing each other what they’ve been up to than moving on to the games. Now, first main section on one guy’s Retro Collection was okay (and I love me some old school games) and they were only just moving into Fallout 4 by the time I gave up on the podcast, so maybe there is solid game talk and a reason why I should consider listening to 8-4 Play in the future, but this particular episode is more than two hours long and that’s really tough for me to overcome, and given that for this particular episode the hosts took waaaaaay too long getting to the meat, I won’t be coming back to it. Perhaps I selected the wrong episode and perhaps I should have skipped forward to the 38 minute mark, but perhaps this podcast is simply not for me. Pass.

(6) OBAMA’S TAKE ON STAR WARS. In the series “Conversations With Tyler,”  Tyler Cowen interviews Cass Sunstein about his Star Wars book. The Star Wars geekery begins at about 18:00 and continues to about 40:00, and all of the audience questions are about Star Wars. (There’s also a full text transcript available.) Many examples of the public policy ramifications of Star Wars are discussed, and at one point Sunstein, who served in the Obama administration as chief regulator of the Office of Management and Budget, reveals that he asked President Obama about which Star Wars movie was his favorite and argued with his boss that The Empire Strikes Back was better than A New Hope.

(7) WEDDING. Congratulations to Becky Thomson and Tom Veal, who married on June 25 in Ft. Collins, Colorado.

(8) KYRA IS BACK. Mini-reviews from Kyra today:

Airplane read #1: In the Time of Dragon Moon, by Janet Lee Carey (here)

Airplane read #2: The Wrath & The Dawn, by Renee Ahdieh (here)

Airplane read #3: Kingfisher, by Patricia McKillip (here)

Airplane Read #4: I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson (here)

Airplane Read #5: A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend, by Emily Horner (not SFF) (here)

Airplane Read #6 (last one!): Sheepfarmer’s Daughter, by Elizabeth Moon (here)

(9) ENTERPRISE DUE TO LEAVE DRYDOCK. NPR has a progress report: “Smithsonian Sets Phasers To Restore On Original Starship Enterprise”.

Sorry to disappoint Trekkies who still believe, but the actual USS Enterprise did not really take up much space.

That famous starship of Mr. Spock and Capt. James Tiberius Kirk in the original Star Trek TV series — which turns 50 this year — was a model. Quite a large one, to be fair: 11 feet long and about 200 lbs., made out of blow-molded plastic and wood. But not life-sized.

And for more than a decade, it hung in the gift shop of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space museum in Washington, D.C.

“From a conservator’s standpoint, that is probably one of the worst places to put an artifact,” says Malcolm Collum, the chief conservator of the National Air and Space Museum….

On Tues., June 28, the USS Enterprise will reach its final frontier beside other famous and historical aircraft in the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • June 28, 1926 – Mel Brooks. He’d like to make Spaceballs 2.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL

  • June 28, 1979 — Felicia Day

(12) THE ACTOR IS IN. At the invitation of Samantha Bee (Full Frontal), “David Tennant Unleashes His Inner Time Lord On Donald Trump”

The “Full Frontal“ host called on Scottish actor David Tennant to read a series of anti-Trump tweets that his fellow countrymen posted after the real estate magnate erroneously said they were “going wild“ for Brexit.

In contrast to the United Kingdom as a whole, the majority of Scots actually voted to remain inside the European Union.

By proxy, “Jessica Jones“ star Tennant called Trump a “wiggy slice,” “weapons-grade plum” and “ludicrous tangerine ball bag” in the segment that aired Monday.

 

(13) HOWARD DAYS. Keith West delivers a “Report on Howard Days 2016” at Adventures Fantastic.

Howard Days has grown, something that was emphasized since this year marked the 30th anniversary of the first Howard Days.  While things officially don’t start until Friday, people are showing up on Wednesday evenings.  Space is becoming a consideration, with events this year moved from the library to the high school auditorium or the Senior Center across the street from the library.  There were a number of new attendees, which is always a healthy thing for an event, and I’m not referring the 10,000 or so mosquitoes that showed up.There were multiple anniversaries, such as the first Frazetta cover on a Lancer paperback and both the publication and film version of Novalyne Price Ellis’s memoir, One Who Walked Alone (filmed as The Whole Wide World).

There have been some excellent reports on the 2016 Howard Days, such as this one by Lee Breakiron and this one by David Piske.  Also, Ben Friberg has uploaded Mark Finn’s interview with guest Michael Scott Myers and the boxing panel to YouTube.  I expect there will be more videos coming.  I’ll not repeat what they’ve said, especially since I don’t trust my memory on some of the details and didn’t make some of the panels that they did.  Rather I’ll focus on some personal highlights…..

(14) ENCELADUS. Scientific American discusses why “Excitement Builds for the Possibility of Life on Enceladus”.

Saturn’s frozen moon Enceladus is a tantalizing world—many scientists are increasingly convinced it may be the best place in our solar system to search for life. NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, currently orbiting Saturn, has made intriguing observations of icy jets spewing from a suspected underground liquid ocean on the mysterious world that might be hospitable to alien life.

Cassini’s tour is due to wind down in 2017, and scientists badly want to send a dedicated mission to Enceladus to look for signs of life. In fact, some have already started seriously thinking about exactly how they might do this—including planetary scientist Carolyn Porco, who is the imaging team leader for Cassini. Earlier this month, she gathered a group of researchers including oceanographers, organic chemists and astrobiologists at the University of California, Berkeley, to strategize how to search for extraterrestrials on Enceladus—which, according to Porco, “is a total bitch of a problem to solve.”

Although Enceladus is small in size and shrouded in a thick shell of ice, it appears to be a habitable world: It has a source of energy from friction created by its orbit around Saturn, organic compounds that are building blocks for life and a liquid water ocean underneath all that ice. But just because Enceladus may be hospitable to life does not mean life exists there; it will take much more work to definitively prove it.

(15) TEACHING WITH COMICS. San Diego Comic-Con International has teamed up with the San Diego Public Library to host a free four-day “Comics Conference for Educators and Librarians” from July 20-23.

This first-of-its-kind educational conference will take place during Comic-Con, and will explore the role comics play in promoting education and literacy for all ages.

Library professionals and educators are invited to this free event to learn creative and exciting ways to incorporate comics and graphic novels into their work. Through presentations and panel discussions, the conference aims to engage the community, promote comics as a powerful tool for learning, and celebrate the medium as an important literary art form. The Comics Conference for Educators and Librarians is also an opportunity for attendees to connect and dialogue with publishers and industry professionals.

The Conference will be located in the Shiley Special Events Suite on the ninth floor of the San Diego Central Library. Each day of the Conference will have different themes….

The conference is free to attend, but space is limited and registration is required for each day. Comic-Con badge-holders with valid single same-day or four-day badges are welcome to attend and are not required to register. Further details about the Comics Conference for Educators and Librarians will be provided for registrants in the coming weeks.

(16) THE TWINKIE OFFENSE. “The World’s Oldest Twinkie” is has spent 40 years on display at a Maine school.

Bennatti had students buy a package of Twinkies from a nearby store during a 1976 lesson on food additives and shelf life. He placed the Twinkie on the blackboard for the class to observe, and there it remained until Bennatti retired in 2004 and passed custody of the aging snack cake to Rosemeier, who placed it in a case in her office.

(17) HOYT SERIES. Jeb Kinnison has kind words for “Sarah Hoyt’s Through Fire – Darkship Book 4”.

Through Fire, Book 4 in Sarah Hoyt’s Darkship series, came out last month and I bought it immediately, but despite its can’t-put-it-down action, I had to put it down until this week.

It’s a fine entry in the series, plunging us into action on the Seacity Liberté, which unlike the last book in the series I read, A Few Good Men (review here) is dominated by French cultural influences, with the rebellion set in motion in the first scene modeled on the French Revolution and its Terror.

(18) LMB ON SELF-PUBLISHING. At Eight Ladies Writing,“Lois McMaster Bujold Answers Three Questions about Self-Publishing”, now that she’s self-pubbing increasingly large parts of her back-catalog, and her novellas.

LMB: I first had some e-publishing experiences starting in the early 00s with the e-books company Fictionwise (later to be bought out and terminated by B&N.) This was not self-pubbing; they just took my manuscript files, or in some cases made OCR files themselves of my older paper books, did everything else themselves, and sent me checks. (These were the selection of my books whose old contracts predated e-books, hence those rights were still mine.) Their sales were all through their own website. But for one very interesting statement, my Fictionwise backlist e-titles were for sale on or via Amazon, for which the maybe $500-to-$1000-a-quarter they’d been jointly clearing shot up seven-fold, which riveted my attention. But then that went away as mysteriously as it had arrived, for corporate reasons I never discovered….

[Thanks to Chip Hitchcock, Mark-kitteh, Martin Morse Wooster, Lisa Goldstein, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]

Pixel Scroll 6/20/16 The Knights Who Say “Pi(xel)”

(1) SPOILERIFFIC GAME OF THRONES RECAP. Lots of GoT recaps online and I tend to read them at random. I found much to recommend Ben Van Iten’s “The Game of Throne Awards, Season 6, Episode 9: Two Battles for the Price of One!” at B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog which ends with a holiday-appropriate joke —

The “GIRL POWER WHOO!” award goes to the newfound alliance between Dany and Yara. They bonded over a number of subjects, but mostly how terrible their dads were. Happy Father’s Day?

(2) CILIP KATE GREENAWAY MEDAL. Chris Riddle has won the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal for his illustrations of Neil Gaiman’s retelling of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale, The Sleeper and the Spindle. Riddell is the award’s first three-time winner, and also the first reigning  Children’s Laureate to win.

(3) PEAKE RETURN. Chip Hitchcock recommends a BBC post, “Watching Tim Peake return to Earth”: “Describing Tim Peake’s landing — much more rugged than most authors talked about: The nearest to this I can remember is the arrival on Earth of Manny and the Professor in The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress — but they were definitely traveling in economy class….”

Next to emerge was Tim Peake. Pale-faced from six months without sun, he was grinning and relaxed and apparently well.

But the sudden exposure to the baking summer heat obviously left him uncomfortable, medics offering him sips of water and mopping his brow.

Having met him a number of times over the past seven years, I felt moved to welcome him back to Earth. He smiled and said he’d been so well trained that the descent was fine and he was loving the fresh air.

You would never have known he’d just spent a few hours crammed into an agonisingly small spaceship and endured the perils of descent with scorching temperatures and violent swings.

(4) TED WHITE PULPFEST GOH. PulpFest today reminded everyone Amazing Stories editor Ted White will be its 2016 Guest of Honor. (A full profile appeared in January).

PulpFest is very pleased to welcome as its 2016 Guest of Honor, author, editor, musician, and science-fiction and pulp fan Ted White. Winner of the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer in 1968 and nominated as Best Professional Editor or for Best Professional Magazine throughout most of the seventies, Mr. White will speak about his career, AMAZING STORIES, science fiction fandom, the pulps, and much, much more on Saturday evening, July 23, from 7:30 to 8:15 in the Union Rooms on the second floor of the Hyatt Regency.

We look forward to seeing you at “Summer’s AMAZING Pulp Con” from July 21 through July 24 at the beautiful Hyatt Regency and the city’s spacious convention center in the exciting Arena District of Columbus, Ohio. Please join us as editor emeritus Ted White helps PulpFest celebrate ninety years of AMAZING STORIES!

(Our guest of honor continues to publish professionally after more than sixty years of practicing his craft. His short story, “The Uncertain Past,” appeared in the March & April 2014 number of THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION — featuring front cover art by Kent Bash — while “The Philistine” can be found in the October 2015 issue of ANALOG SCIENCE FICTION AND FACT.

(5) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • June 20, 1975 Jaws was released.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • June 20, 1928 — Martin Landau
  • June 20, 1952 — John Goodman

(7) FORECAST DENIED. Henry Farrell tells Crooked Timber readers “The Age of Em Won’t Happen” and advises author Hanson to read Hannu Rajaniemi and Ken McLeod.

Tyler Cowen says that the predicted future of Robin Hanson’s Age of Em – a world in which most cognitive and much physical labor will be done by emulations of brain-scanned human beings – won’t happen. I agree. I enjoyed the book, and feel a bit guilty about criticizing it, since Hanson asked me for comments on an early draft, which I never got around to giving him (the last eighteen months have been unusually busy for a variety of reasons). So the below are the criticisms which I should have given him, and which might or might not have led him to change the book to respond to them (he might have been convinced by them; he might have thought they were completely wrong; he might have found them plausible but not wanted to respond to them – every good book consists not only of the good counter-arguments it answers, but the good counter-arguments that it brackets off).

(8) HOW GREAT IS THE SLATE? Lisa Goldstein has launched her 2016 Hugo nominee review series with “And So It Begins: Short Story: ‘Asymmetrical Warfare’”.

In “Asymmetrical Warfare” by S. R. Algernon, Earth is attacked by starfish-shaped aliens, who then wonder why the Earth warriors they killed aren’t regenerating.…

(9) BIG GUEST LIST AT GALLIFREY 2017. Shaun Lyon alerted the media today – here are the big names coming to the next Gallifrey One convention:

It’s time for our first guest block announcement for 2017! First, Gallifrey One is delighted to welcome back to Los Angeles our confirmed guests Paul McGann (the Eighth Doctor), Louise Jameson (Leela), William Russell (Ian Chesterton), Katy Manning (Jo Grant), Peter Purves (Steven Taylor), Anneke Wills (Polly), Frazer Hines (Jamie), Daphne Ashbrook (Grace) and 1970s producer Philip Hinchcliffe, as well as guest actors Simon Fisher-Becker (Dorium Maldovar), Prentis Hancock (“The Ribos Operation,” “Planet of the Daleks”) and Michael Troughton (“Last Christmas”), costume designer June Hudson, the voice of the Daleks and Big Finish producer Nicholas Briggs, Dalek operators and writers/actors Nicholas Pegg and Barnaby Edwards, composer Dominic Glynn, Big Finish managing producer Jason Haigh-Ellery, and writers Paul Cornell, Gary Russell, Richard Dinnick, Scott Handcock, David J. Howe, Sam Stone and Tony Lee.

Next, we have a special treat for British TV fans, as we welcome actress Hattie Hayridge — known best as the female Holly in the long-running sci-fi comedy “Red Dwarf” — for her first appearance in L.A.

And that’s not all. It is with great pleasure that we are finally able to welcome one of the last few principal cast members of the classic Doctor Who series we haven’t had before… Lalla Ward (Romana II) joins us for her first and only North American event in 21 years! In conjunction with Ms. Ward’s appearance, we are happy to announce that the beneficiary of Gallifrey One’s 2017 charity auction will be Denville Hall, the UK-based actors’ retirement home for which Ms. Ward is the trustees’ chairperson. We’re thrilled to once again bring our attendees this unique guest experience courtesy our friends at Showmasters Events, who are sponsoring both Ms. Ward and several of our guests listed above.

(10) ENJOY LIFE TO THE HILT. This design-your-own lightsaber system, funded by $1.2M raised on Indiegogo, can now be ordered online. They have shipped over 4,000 to Indiegogo and Kickstarter supporters.

Adaptive Saber Parts are an easy to use modular system that lets anyone construct their very own movie quality custom saber. we have lowered the barrier to entry, now you don’t need expensive machinery, soldering equipment, or years of prop building experience to make your very own custom saber, all you need is your imagination, and Adaptive Saber Parts.

To go along with our ground breaking ASP system, we designed a three dimensional virtual saber builder that allows you to create and modify your custom saber in a digital saber workshop.

 

(11) FIGHTING ‘BOTS. At Future War Stories, “FWS Topics: Miliart Robots and Robotic Soldiers”.

The Near Future of Military Robots

One element of military robots that P.W. Singer raised in his 2009 TED talk was that while America is one of the first to put armed UAVs into the modern battlefield, we do not dominate the field of military robotics. Islamic extremist groups have been using drones, remote controlled explosives with grim effective in Iraq and with off-of-the-shelf hobby drones, more military robots will be accessible to all, even those who want to do harm to the US and her allies. We will see more nations, PMCs, and groups using military robotic systems for surveillance and combat within the next few decades. Nations like the United States, will create more advanced military robots that will be tasked support and combat, unmanning more of modern warfare, downsizing the scale of military organizations. Some warfighters, as with UAV drone pilots today, will never get their boots dusty on foreign soil, but will be engaged in actual warfare. These remote control operators will command battlefield units, in the air, ground, and even sea from thousands of miles away….

(12) LO-TECH FX. The “Melting Toht Candle” is not on my wish list….

melting-toht-candle_2378

If you’ve seen Raiders of the Lost Ark, there’s probably one scene that really sticks in the memory. No not that gigantic boulder tumbling after Indy, nor when he shoots that sword-twirling nutter in the market square, nor even when he has that uncomfortable staring contest with a cobra…

No, we’re talking about when ruthless Gestapo agent Toht gets his gory comeuppance at the end of the film…

  • Celebrate the greatest special-effects death in movie history
  • Wax replica of sadistic Gestapo agent Toht – specs, fedora n’ all
  • Thankfully it melts a lot slower than his face does in the film
  • Doesn’t emit a blood-curdling screech as it burns

(13) POMPEII AND CIRCUMSTANCES. Nicole Hill at B&N Sci-Fit & Fantasy Blog declares “New Pompeii Is a Popcorn-Worthy Summer Thriller”.

Refreshing in its straightforward appeal, Godfrey’s plot rests largely upon the shoulder of Nick Houghton, a down-on-his-luck history scholar who, through mysterious machinations, is offered the job of a lifetime. Novus Particles, one of those monolithic corporations that seem to exist solely to manufacture ethical quandaries, has long mucked about with controversial technology able to transport matter from the past to the present. To varying degrees of success, Novus has brought forward things and people from events at least 30 years in the past. (Time travel, in this world, has its limitations, chiefly in the form of tinkering with the recent past.)

Now, the company has covertly created its crown jewel: a replica Pompeii, populated by residents transported in time moments before their preordained deaths at the foot of Mount Vesuvius. Hapless, brainy Nick has been tagged to take over as the company’s historical adviser, a position designed both to study the displaced culture of Pompeii and to subdue the natives’ unease by maintaining the pitch-perfect authenticity of their surroundings.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Stephen Burridge, Chip Hitchcock, Lisa Goldstein, and Hampus Eckerman for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA.]

A Throne of Chew Toys 6/3

aka The Knights Who say Ni Award

In today’s roundup: Vox Day, Lindsay Duncan, Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag, David Gerrold, Sara Amis, Dave Freer, Chris Gerrib, Lisa J. Goldstein, Lis Carey, Rebekah Golden, Russell Blackford, Camestros Felapton, Mabrick, Will McLean, Alexandra Erin and cryptic others. (Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editors of the day sveinung  and ULTRAGOTHA.)

Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“In the SF world rages a war” – June 3

Markku Koponen

[The translation of an article in Finland’s largest newspaper profiling Markku Koponen and Castalia House.]

IN THE SCI-FI WORLD OF USA RAGES A WAR, IN WHICH EVEN THE GAME OF THRONES AUTHOR IS ENTANGLED WITH – AND IN THE EPICENTER OF IT ALL IS THIS KOUVOLA MAN

Sci-fi literature enthusiasts in USA are in civil war. A conservative mutiny is trying to push out of bestseller lists and awards the mainstream, “tolerant” sci-fi. The battle is already being called culture wars – and one of the headquarters is located in Finland.

There is a man in Kouvola, and before the man, a computer.

Together, the man and the computer are in the front lines of a battle that is shaking the entire world of sci-fi literature.

The man and the computer were revealed to the world, spring this year.

At the time was published “the Oscars of sci-fi books” – Hugo-awards – nominees.

The entire sci-fi world roared: lists were full of works by religious extremists and ultraconservatives.

The surprise was so big that even The New York Times and Washington Post wrote about it.

And behind the entire surprise were a man and a computer in Kouvola.

The name of the man is Markku Koponen, and on the computer runs a company called Castalia House.

 

Lindsay Duncan on Unicorn Ramblings

“Tuesday Thoughts” – June 3

Behind all this kerfluffle is a tension between the idea that the quality of fiction, like all art, is subjective; and the action of presenting an award, which gives the veneer of some objective quality.  Let’s add one more statement to the narrative:  diversity is a good thing and necessary in a genre that builds upon possibilities, but we don’t want to set up a forced, artificial diversity.  (Already, you can see the questions bubbling up.)  What am I thinking of when I say “artificial” diversity?  It’s when a work rises to the top not because of merit, but because its author or subject matter checks a particular box.  It would be like saying that every novel awards slate has to include one urban fantasy, two epic fantasies, one hard science fiction novel and one soft science fiction novel … even if there were three amazing soft SF books that year.

 

SF Signal

“MIND MELD: Genre Awards: What are They Good for Anyway?” – June 3

[Bradley P. Beaulieu:] I’m saddened by the tactics that were chosen by the various Puppy campaigns to game the Hugos, but I’m confident the award will live on, and I’m hopeful that in the end the voting base for the award will be broadened. After all, as long as everyone is given a fair shake, how can giving a voice to more fans be a bad thing?

 

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

“Oh dear, not the freaking Hugos again…” – June 3

On Facebook, David Gerrold nails the problem with the slate nominations in the Hugo awards. Namely, the people who participated have developed a narrative of “evil liberals” rather than “good works worthy of nomination for the Hugo Award.” Part of the post was also quoted at File770. Of note is the fact that Gerrold has asked these questions repeatedly, and he describes the “answers” he gets from slate-voting puppy-supporters….

…The last question, #6, is a no-brainer. The excellence of the story is the only thing that truly matters. There have been some fantastic works by authors that I wouldn’t want to sit at the same dinner table with. And I’m sure there are awful works by people who completely agree with me on every major political point. Politics are utterly irrelevant to the conversation. Or, at least, they should be.

 

David Gerrold on Facebook – June 3

As long as we’re still talking about the sad puppies and the rabid puppies, there is one question that has not yet been asked.

Will Larry Correia and Brad Torgersen be attending the Hugo award ceremony? Will Vox Day and John C. Wright be attending the ceremony? What about the other nominees and the various puppy supporters?

I have been told that none of the major architects of the slates have attending memberships. So the answer is no, they will not be there.

(Some of the slated nominees will likely be there, but that’s not the question I’m asking.)

And that causes me to wonder —

Some of the puppy supporters have said this whole thing is about reclaiming “the real science fiction” from those who have hijacked it into the realm of literary merit. (Something like that.)

Okay — but if we take that at face value — then why aren’t the leaders of the movement coming to the award ceremony to cheer for their nominees? If this is really that important, why aren’t they coming to the party?

Not attending the celebration makes it look like this was never about winning the awards as much as it was about disrupting them.

 

David Gerrold in a comment on Facebook – June 3

I did not know that Brad Torgersen had been deployed. I’m sure he will serve admirably and I expect him to return home safely. I might disagree with him on some things, but I wish him no ill.

 

Sara Amis on Luna Station Quarterly

“Hugos, Puppies, and Joanna Russ” – June 3

I always intended from the beginning to write about Joanna Russ. How could I not? It just so happens, though, that she is particularly relevant right at this particular moment.

So, there are some shenanigans with this year’s Hugo awards. And by “shenanigans” I mean “cheating” in the finest, most self-righteous, letter-but-not-the-spirit-of-the-law, but-really-we’re-the-good-guys fashion.

“But some white women, and black women, and black men, and other people of color too, have actually acquired the nasty habit of putting the stuff on paper, and some of it gets printed, and printed material, especially books, gets into bookstores, into people’s hands, into libraries, sometimes even into university curricula.

What are we to do?” —-from How to Suppress Women’s Writing by Joanna Russ

I might add, some of it gets nominated for Hugos, and even wins. What are we to do???

 

Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“Hugo Recommendations: Best Fan Writer” – June 3

This is how I am voting in the Best Fan Writer category. Of course, I merely offer this information regarding my individual ballot for no particular reason at all, and the fact that I have done so should not be confused in any way, shape, or form with a slate or a bloc vote, much less a direct order by the Supreme Dark Lord of the Evil Legion of Evil to his 368 Vile Faceless Minions or anyone else.

  1. Jeffro Johnson
  2. Dave Freer
  3. Amanda S. Green
  4. Cedar Sanderson
  5. Laura J. Mixon

With regards to Mixon, I still don’t consider a professional writer with five novels published by Tor who also happens to be the current SFWA President’s wife to be what anything remotely recognizable as a proper “Fan Writer”, but that ship sailed back when John Scalzi, Jim Hines, and Kameron Hurley waged their successful campaigns for it. No sense in fighting battles already lost. The more relevant problem is that Best Related Work would be a more reasonable category for a single expose, and Deidre Saorse Moen’s expose of Marion Zimmer Bradley was a considerably more important work in that regard. That being said, I don’t regard the Hugo Awards as being the place to recognize investigative journalism, otherwise I would have nominated Saorse Moen’s stunning revelations about Marion Zimmer Bradley as a Best Related Work. But regardless, Mixon did publish a credible expose and she is a legitimate, if not necessarily compelling candidate.

 

Dave Freer in comment #58 on the same post at Vox Popoli – June 3

“Freer’s been an ass to me, and incoherent at length to pretty much everybody” sniff. I shall wear this with such pride, just because it comes from Crissy! I am amply rewarded for the time spent pointing out he was mathematically illiterate and logically incompetent.

To be fair to Mixon (I do not approve of her biased reporting, but still) 1)I have 20 novels published. 2) Both Amanda and Cedar are independently published – and both quite successful at it. I suspect they outsell Mixon, who IIRC has day job and a husband to share cost (he also has a day job). Strictly speaking she’s more of a ‘hobbyist’ than any of the three of us. 3) I am not, and never have been married to the pres of SFWA. Neither have Amanda or Cedar or Jeffro. Speaking strictly for myself, I hope to avoid that dreadful fate.

I raised the same objection to my being nominated Vox does on MGC when I was first put on recommended lists and, um, never found out my name was still there. I actually didn’t know I had been nominated (the Hugo Admins didn’t succeed in contacting me) until the nasty messages started popping up telling me I was going to suffer for it and should immediately abase myself. I don’t bully well, so despite the fact I didn’t want to be there, or feel I should be, I still am. Screw them and the donkey they rode into town on (the difference is hard to establish, but the donkey is the more intelligent and prettier).

Jeffro seems a good guy, and I can vouch for Amanda and Cedar.

 

Chris Gerrib on Private Mars Rocket

“Hugos, Fan Writer, Rant Regarding” – June 3

First, per section 3.3.15 of the WSFS Constitution, Fan Writer (like Best Editor) is an award for the person. It is not, like Best Novel, an award for a particular work. It is thus perfectly acceptable to say “fan writer X is a jerk” and use that as a critique of their nomination.

Actually, it is entirely within the rules to vote based on any criterion, if you want to be a stickler for the rules. Or, people who insist on following the letter of the law do not get to lecture me on the spirit of things.

Second, David Freer is a poor writer, at least with regards to his blog. His posts are lengthy, poorly-thought-out, (see, for example, his 1500 word post on Hugo probabilities, discussed and linked to by me here) and not to me particularly entertaining.

Third, in general the Hugo nominees are asking me and the other voters for a favor. They are asking that we take time out of our day, consider their material, and in the end give one of them an award. I don’t know how things work on Planet Puppy, but here on Earth, if one is asking somebody for a favor, normally the person requesting the favor attempts normal human politeness.

 

Lisa J. Goldstein on theinferior4

“The Hugo Ballot: All the Rest of the Novels” – June 3

I think the final vote on the novel will come down to what kind of sub-genre people like to read. Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Sword deals with galactic empires and planetary intrigue, but also plays with ideas about gender. The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison is charming and elegantly told, a tale of manners in a fantasy setting. Cixin Liu’s The Three-Body Problem dances out on the far edges of scientific speculation.  Really, any one of these could win and I’d be happy, but if I had to choose (and I guess I do), for me the best of them is Ancillary Sword.

 

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“Adventures in SciFi Publishing — Best Fancast Hugo Nominee” – June 3

http://www.adventuresinscifipublishing.com/

This is the first of the Hugo-nominated fancasts that I’ve listened to. Briefly — it’s good.

 

Rebekah Golden

“2015 Hugo Awards Best Movie: Reviewing Edge of Tomorrow” – June 3

Altogether a fun little movie, well handled and nicely plotted. I haven’t watched it, wasn’t planning to, but am happy I did. I will probably rewatch it before I decide how it stacks up against the other movie nominees.

 

Russell Blackford on Metamagician and The Hellfire Club

“Rest Related Work nominations reviewed & discussed – Hugo Awards Voting” – June 3

Antonelli’s Letters from Gardner seems, from what I’ve read, to be about the author’s development, at a relatively late stage of life, as a well-published author of (mainly) short stories. It includes a considerable amount of Antonelli’s fiction, with much commentary and reflection, and amongst it some perfectly sound advice on the craft of writing. If it were up for a lesser (perhaps regional) award, I’d have no difficulty in voting for it. From what I’ve read, however, I just don’t think the book is good, distinguished, or interesting enough to be worth a Hugo Award. It does not stand up well against past winners. Your mileage may vary. It’s not a bad book, and I’d have happily read the whole thing if it had been provided in the Hugo Voters Packet.

“Why Science is Never Settled”, by Tedd Roberts, is a well-written and thoughtful discussion of its subject matter. It popularises certain ideas in the history and philosophy of science, and does a workmanlike job of it. It was aimed at an SF-reading audience, and it was doubtless of interest to many people within that audience, but it does not seem to me to be sufficiently distinguished or relevant to deserve this award. There is some relationship to science fiction – enough that it would interest many readers who are also SF readers – but it’s a rather tenuous one.

 

Cirsova

“Hugo Art” – June 3

Fan artist category was rather disappointing; while I don’t want to say that any of these artists are bad, many artists I’ve seen on places like Deviant Art or here on WordPress have impressed me more; I really just don’t feel like many of these are ‘best of the best’ quality in terms of sci-fi art, at least by what I’ve seen. The lone exception is Elizabeth Legget, whose work, while not really blowing me away, is evocative and impressive enough that she easily rises to the top in this category….

In the Professional Artist category, I’d almost say that Julie Dillon wins by virtue of including a much larger portfolio to better display the range of her work….

Lastly, I’d like to note that it’s been interesting to see how the Fan Writer category is playing out. When I think of Fan Writing, I think of Algis Budrys and Baird Searles, who wrote on topic about notable books, movies and television that was relevant to fans of Speculative Fiction. One strange notion I’ve seen floated is that a Fan Writer should be writing ABOUT rather than TO the fandom, yet ironically those Fan Writers who have been writing more about the fandom than to them are paying the price, to an extent, for doing so. I enjoy the Mad Genius Club, but the rants about culture wars type stuff are going to come off to dedicated culture warriors about as well as Ann Coulter telling that Muslim girl to ride a camel. Meanwhile, many of those who don’t find pdfs an inaccessible format (sometimes grudgingly) acknowledge that Jeffro’s kept a laser-like focus on important works of Science-fiction and Fantasy, so we’re starting to see sort of a ‘man, we kind of want to hate this guy, but he’s actually writing about and bringing attention to some great authors!’ reaction. Given Jeffro’s decidedly apolitical approach (not ‘this is conservative/liberal’, ‘this is feminist/anti-feminist’, but ‘this is awesome’) to his subject matter combined with some of the backlash against Mixon (for myriad reasons), I think he has a pretty good shot in this category.

 

Adult Onset Atheist

“SNARL: Championship B’tok” – June 3

This novelette lacks several of the critical elements that any string of words needs to tie it up into a story; the most glaring of these exposes itself as a regular disregard for continuity. It is impossible to tell if this story is actually a chapter of a larger story, or it is just half-written. I get the impression that this author may be able to wrote, and write stories, but this is not one of them. I will eventually pull out a reasonably good excuse for awarding one whole star to this novelette.

 

Camestros Felapton

“The Puppy Works – Ranked from Bad to Okness” – June 3

So below the fold is an attempt to rank all the Puppy nominated works (not including dramatic, editorial or artistic) altogether from the worst to the least worst. I’ll spoil the suspense by revealing that “Wisdom From My Internet” not only came top but also provides a neat demonstration why rankings can be inadequate when what you need is some kind of measurement scale.

 

Mabrick on Mabrick’s Mumblings

“Skin Game A Novel of the Dresden Files Book 15 by Jim Butcher” – June 3

….That was a two paragraph introduction to the review of “Skin Game” by Jim Butcher, for which I am somewhat sorry to inflict upon you, but felt compelled to clarify for them that know of the Hugo Award drama. There are strong feelings on all sides of this issue and some will feel like I have somehow betrayed them by listening to and reviewing this book. Poppycock. Jim Butcher is a New York times best-selling author. He didn’t get there because of the Sad Puppies and he deserves a thoughtful and respectful review of his work just like I’ve done with all the other nominees so far (as part of my Nebula Nominee reviews.) Thinking otherwise is puerile behavior as bad as that exhibited by the Sad Puppies. I don’t believe this applies to all authors and publishing houses on the ballot, for some of them were self-serving in the extreme, but it does apply to Jim Butcher and Tor Books, his publisher.

 

Will McLean on Commonplace Book

“Nutty Nuggets” – June 2

“What are we looking for again?” said Liu, the technician from Mars Spacefleet.

“Ejecta from Perdita, of course.You saw the images we got from Alaunt. One of what hit Perdita shredded the cargo module and blew debris on a diverging course. The hydrogen tanks were holed too, but we’re not going to waste time looking for hydrogen in space. You have the cargo manifest.” Church, agent for Tranjovian and its insurance agency, was a stubby, thick-lipped, stocky man with heavy eyebrows. Perdita had gone silent on an unmanned low-energy trip to the Jovian moons and Alaunt had found what was left of her hull after a tedious search of her extrapolated course.

“Right.” said Liu,  as a document came up on his screen. “Spare parts and luxury goods: single-malt scotch, Napoleon brandy, macadamia nuts and cashews.”

“The liquids will have frozen that far out, so we’ll be looking for nutty nuggets. A pretty unique spectral signature beyond Ceres.” ….

 

Alexandra Erin on A Blue Author Is About To Write

Sad Puppies Review Books: THE POKY LITTLE PUPPY – June 3

poky-little-puppy-248x300Reviewed by Special Guest Reviewer James May

…Here’s the dividing line and the crucial issue: I don’t care what you do. I don’t care about any of your initiatives. What I care about is it is never expressed without dehumanizing men and whites as racist, women-hating, homophobes who have conspired and continue to conspire to keep everyone but the straight white male out of SFF. That is a lie we have proved with facts over and over again. The history of SFF as portrayed by SJWs is a hoax. It has never been any more exclusionary than Field & Stream.

Canterbury Tails 5/27

Aka Mansfield Puppy Park

The wisdom of crowds is supplied by Ruth Davies, Adam-Troy Castro, Nancy Lebovitz, Gabriel McKee, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Lyda Morehouse, L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright, Alexandra Erin, Vox Day, JDZ, Lis Carey, Joe Sherry, Lisa J. Goldstein, Rebekah Golden, Joseph Brassey, John Scalzi, Katya Czaja, plus less identifiable others. (Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editors of the day rcade and Kary English.)

Ruth Davies on The Hippo Collective

“Taking a Literary Step Backwards: the Hugo Awards 2015” – May 24

This scandal is clearly worrying; such regressive views placed upon particular literary genres, such as science fiction and fantasy, must have implications for other genres, and the larger literary field. Literature is key in its power to evolve and combat the oppression of minority groups, by allowing a voice and platform (although being well heard often unfortunately relies on getting ‘discovered’ and subsequently published). Right-wing action is also more concerning when involved with such canonising activity as literary awards. Awards often help shape the (Western) literary canon, which contains a lot of the West’s most famous and widely read literature. Therefore right-wing attitudes, such as those of the ‘Sad Puppies’ and ‘Rabid Puppies’, merely blocks diversification of the canon – discouraging the cultural change that the West still desperately needs.

However, the question still remains: how do we overcome such regressive strategies in literature? The democratic fan vote should appear the fairest and least problematic strategy, yet as seen, it has its fundamental drawbacks.

 

Font Folly

“Tom Puppy and the Visitor from Planet Clueless” – May 27

A Sad Puppy/Rabid Puppy supporter posted an op-ed on the men’s rights site Return of the Kings (he links to and heavily paraphrases one of the Sad Puppy podcasts), “How Female-Dominated Publishing Houses Are Censoring Male Authors” that is a great example of several of the issues that I believe underpin the Sad Puppy position. Never mind that the statistics show that men make up more than 65% of the annual publishing lists of most of the publishing houses, and male-authored books comprise more the 80% of books reviewed in the major publications, this guy is here to tell us that men are being censored!

 

Adam Troy-Castro on Facebook – May 27

(Sigh) No, I am not saying, nor am I ever going to say, that the organizers of the Sad Puppy nonsense need to be “boycotted” for what they have done and said, and I am most certainly not saying that the writers they advocated for need to be boycotted for the actions of those who supported them.

This is after all me, the guy who has made such a regular habit of arguing for separating the art from the artist, most of the time in more extreme circumstances. If I can distinguish between Bill Cosby and “Bill Cosby,” if I can praise the occasional film by Roman Polanski, if I can struggle in vain to discuss the filmic achievements of Woody Allen without being slammed by the same stuff that artistic discussions of Woody Allen are always slammed with, if I can further regularly wax enthusiastic about work by writers like Stephen Hunter and Dan Simmons who exist so far from me on the political spectrum that we are almost on separate rainbows, then why the hell would I tell anybody to boycott the work of {Gay-Basher McManly-Nuts}, to name one, just because I think it’s fun to summarize his persona as {Gay-Basher McManly-Nuts}? Ditto with {Hurt-Feelings Harry}, {Steely-Eyed Rage-Monster}, Beale The Galactic Zero, and the rest of that crew. I mock them with abandon, but want *none* of them subjected to organized boycott of any kind.

I have said nothing advocating otherwise, and anybody who represents me as having said anything of the kind is, in precise measurement, a goddamned liar.

 

Nancy Lebovitz in a comment on Making Light – May 27

At Balticon, someone asked Jo Walton about the Hugos at her GoH speech, and she said that ideally, the Hugos are a gesture of love and respect, and campaigning for the Hugos is like persistently asking your partner whether they love you. It just isn’t the same.

 

Doctor Science on Obsidian Wings

“Problems with the Hugo Nominations for Pro and Fan Artist” – May 28

[Doctor Science vetted the sample art in the Hugo Voters Packet and says she discovered most of the material from Nick Greenwood and Steve Stiles came from another eligibility year, and that among all artists he traced 14 items to periods before 2014.]

I’ll stop here for the moment, and go on later to talk about things like: how I’m going to vote, what I think the problems with the categories are, and start some ideas about how to fix them.

For a start, though, I urge my fellow voters to click around the 2014 Pro and 2014 Fan collections at Hugo Eligible Art, to get a sense of what your baseline should be for comparison.

 

Gabriel McKee on SF Gospel

“The Way the Future Never Was” – May 27

For a lot of us, SF’s ability to deal with current problems in metaphorical terms is the whole point. It’s why we got interested in the genre, and why we’ve stuck with it—because there will always be new quesitons, and new angles on them. Does Brad Torgersen really want SF to be a genre about space ships and ray guns with no resonance with current society? Does he really want SF authors to abandon the time-honored tradition of exploring social issues with SFnal metaphor? That sounds to me like an SF that’s afraid of the future.

 

Gabriel McKee on SF Gospel

“The Way the Future Never Was: A Visual Appendix” – May 27

To get a better idea of Brad Torgersen’s problem with today’s science fiction, let’s take a look at some good, old-fashioned, reliably-packaged SF….

The Space Merchants cover COMP

Hey, this one looks fun. It’s got space ships and all kinds of stuff. Wait, what? It’s about the evils of capitalism? Bait and switch!

 

 

Lyda Morehouse on Bitter Empire

“Real Talk About John Scalzi, Vox Day, And That Big Big Book Deal” – May 27

Vox Day (Theodore Beale), if you recall, is the mastermind behind the Rabid Puppies (the super-far right organizers of this year’s Hugo debacle.) Beale apparently also sees himself as Scalzi’s rival. Beale has all sorts of “hilarious” nicknames for Scalzi….

So, as you can imagine, Beale’s head is near ready to explode.

He starts off with a simple report of the deal, but then it takes a hard right into God knows what. Beale says that Scalzi’s deal can really only be expected because Tor, his publisher, really doesn’t have any big name authors in its stables beyond Scazli, except maybe one other, and, more importantly, “It’s not as if the award-winning Jo Walton or the award-winning Catharine (sic) Asaro or any of their other award-winning authors sell enough books to support all the SJW non-SF they keep trying to push on an unwilling public.”

What.

Whoa, ladies, that was almost a compliment there for being all award-win-y, but nope. According to Beale, the only reason Walton and Asaro write is push the SJW (Social Justice Warrior) “non-SF” on all of us non-willing readers.

 

JDZ on Never Yet Melted

“John Scalzi Gets $3.4 Million Publishing Deal” – May 27

Scalzi has alienated a significant portion of his readership with sanctimonious hoplophobic blog posts (example) and by lining up with the Social Justice Warriors in the fighting over the Hugo Awards. My guess is that his backlisting powers will be declining.

 

L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright conducts interview on Superversive SF

“Interview with Hugo Fan Writer Nominee: Dave Freer!” – May 27

7) How did you come up with the idea for your current nominated story?

Eating cheese late at night. It was that or my concern for the state of a genre I love. I happen think all nice boys and girls should love sf and fantasy (and find sf and fantasy to love). I think all nasty boys and girls should too. I am delighted if the rare, nasty, odd, and possibly puke purple creatures crawling out of the East River do too. I just find it worrying when the latter group seems to have become so dominant that the rest lose interest and go and pursue other forms of entertainment and escapism.

 

Alexandra Erin on Blue Author Is About To Write

“Of Dinosaurs, Legos, and Impossible Hypotheticals” – May 27

There’s another work nominated this year that has stirred similar questions in a more limited way, perhaps more limited because the Dramatic Presentation categories are seen as less serious and crucial in a literary award than the literary categories, and perhaps because as a Sad Puppy pick it is taken less seriously to begin with.

The work in question is The Lego Movie, which contains a couple of scenes near the end that make explicit the implicit framing device for a movie about Lego characters in a world made out of Lego blocks: it’s all a child, playing with toys. It is this moment, in my opinion, that elevates The Lego Movie from merely being charming and fun to actually pretty sublimely brilliant. It explained so many of the odd quirks of characterization and storytelling earlier in the film.

I mean, it changed the movie’s version of Batman from “weirdly out of character, but okay, it’s funny” to “…that’s freaking brilliant” because it wasn’t Batman as adult comic book fans understand him but Batman seen through the eyes of a child, with way more focus on the cool factor of everything and of course he has the coolest girlfriend and of course even the grimdark angst seems kind of fun…

 

Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“Hugo Awards 2015: Best Novella” – May27

This is how I am voting in the Best Novella category. Of course, I merely offer this information regarding my individual ballot for no particular reason at all, and the fact that I have done so should not be confused in any way, shape, or form with a slate or a bloc vote, much less a direct order by the Supreme Dark Lord of the Evil Legion of Evil to his 367 Vile Faceless Minions or anyone else.

 

  1. “One Bright Star to Guide Them”
  2. “Big Boys Don’t Cry”
  3. “The Plural of Helen of Troy”
  4. “Pale Realms of Shade”
  5. “Flow”

 

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“Rat Queens, by Kurtis J. Wiebe (writer), Roc Upchurch (illustrator)” – May 27

ratqueens

Booze-guzzling, death-dealing, battle maidens-for-hire.

This is so not my thing. The art is excellent. The writing is quite good. There’s a plot–but here’s where I run into trouble.

 

Joe Sherry on Adventures In Reading

“Thoughts on the Hugo Award Nominees: Related Work” – May 27

Letters from Gardner: Lou Antonelli’s collection is an interesting one. It’s part memoir, part short story collection, part writing advice, part I have no idea. It shows Antonelli’s development as a writer, some of the revision progress, and how influential some of those early rejections from Gardner Dozois were. It’s not necessarily my cuppa, but it’s not bad.

No Award: No Award continues to rear its ugly head. I read half of Wright’s Transhuman and Subhuman collection (approximately), and I bounced off of it. His essay on fiction writing directed at a nonfiction writing friend was fairly solid, but I had issues with the rest of what I read – mostly in that I disagree with much of what Wright has to say and his essay writing style does little to encourage me to continue reading even despite my disagreement. I can’t get into specifics here because each time I bounced off an essay, I moved onto the next. That said, he’s not wrong that Ulysses is a terrible book.

On the other hand, Wisdom from my Internet is truly a terrible book that has no place anywhere near this ballot. I can understand, more or less, why people may have enjoyed / appreciated Wright’s collection. I’m not his audience, but many people likely are. Michael Williamson’s collection of non-sequiturs and jokes is sort of organized by topic, but most are not at all entertaining and what, exactly it has to do with the field of science fiction and / or fantasy is completely beyond me. But it isn’t so much the lack of relation to SFF that gets me, it’s how bad the jokes are and how disinteresting the whole thing is. I may not think that Wright’s collection is worthy of an Award, but I don’t think Williamson’s should have been considered for nomination. I may never understand how or why it was….

 

Adult Onset Atheist

“There can be only one SNARL” – May 27

Where did such a foolish name as “Sad Puppies” come from? Larry apparently likes cutesy names; he was co-founder of a gunshop he named “Fuzzy Bunny Movie Guns”. The gunshop went under, but the enduring flikr record of it shows racks of plastic-furnitured AK-47s, and glass cases with handguns lovingly laid out for display. “Sad Puppies” is a name derived from the kind of immature humor that wants to be irony when it grows up.

The idea for “Sad Puppies” pre-dates the Hugo kerfluffle. On Larry’s blog one of the first posts he tagged with “Sad Puppies” is a reactionary commentary-style rebuttal to a September 2009 POTUS speech to a joint session of congress, and the next is a similar reactionary commentary to the 2010 SOTU. So “Sad Puppies” in Larry’s mind is political in the strictest sense of the word. Yet somehow everyone else is really political people –whether they say so or not- and poor Larry is just trying to give his embattled writers the only chances available because he perceives them as having been shut out.  And the only way to get “his” writers a fair shake is to shut out any competing works that might try to leverage some unfair literati elitist advantage by not being crappy.

The reason the Sad puppies can pee all over the Hugo process is because of complacency in fandom. When I talk about complacency I am mostly talking about myself. I ask myself “How can you make good nominations when you haven’t read more than a dozen SF novellas this year?” The nice voters packet provides a guided reading list; the trufans have done the heavy lifting. So far this year there are over 9,000 voting members of worldcon, and membership is open for a few more days. For $40 you can get a vote and a nice electronic voting packet; unfortunately many of the stories in it are crap. Some of the Hugo nominations this year received less than 30 votes. There needs to be some way of bridging the complacency gap so the large numbers of fans who care enough to vote for a Hugo are presented with a couple choices worth voting for.  Perhaps that means I need to get off my rear and wade through the vast number of published SF/F stories to make recommendations and vote during the nomination process instead of waiting until after the nominations list is published.

 

Lisa J. Goldstein on theinferior4

“Let Me Explain… No, There Is Too Much. Let Me Sum Up.” – May 27

One of my questions when I started was why the Puppies chose these specific stories.  And after all that reading, I have to say that I still don’t know, and the statements of the Puppies themselves don’t really help.  Larry Correia wanted to nominate stories that would “make literati heads explode,” stories with right-wing themes that would anger SJWs (Super-Judgmental Werewolves?) when they appeared on the ballot.  But we’re very used to narratives of straight white men doing straight white manly things, and even seeing those stories nominated for Hugos.  It’s all just business as usual.  I don’t know about other people’s crania, but my head stayed firmly on my shoulders while I was reading — though it did slip toward the desk a few times, my eyes closing, thinking, Ho hum, another one …

Correia also rejected “boring message fiction” — but then how to explain John C. Wright’s Catholic apologia, or Tom Kratman’s push for more and more weaponry?  And his final explanation was that people were mean to him at a convention.  Okay, but why these stories?  Was putting us through all of this his idea of revenge?

 

Rebekah Golden

“2015 Hugo Awards Best Short Story: Reviewing J C Wright” – May 26

This is a parable told in the style of Kipling or of old Buddhist tales. It takes a mythology well known to the author and extends it into a second mirroring mythology like Zeno’s Paradox applied to christianity. It was clever and written well, if in a pre-Hemingway style, but overall not a story for me.

 

Rebekah Golden

“2015 Hugo Awards Best Fan Artist: Reviewing N Aalto” – May 27

Ninni had two pieces included in the Hugo Voters packet. Both were very well drawn and nicely colored. Based on her online portfolio I like her style and find her work pleasing to the eye. I suspect there are some in jokes I don’t get but that’s the nature of being the best fan at something. In short, nicely done.

 

Katya Czaja

“Hugo Award: Professional Artist” – May 27

Ranking Julie Dillon stood out as the clear winner in this category.

1) Julie Dillon
2) Nick Greenwood
3) Allan Pollack
4) No Award
5) Carter Reid
6) Kirk DouPonce

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Howl’s Moving Castalia 5/24

aka In a hole in a ground there lived a Hugo. It was a puppy Hugo, and that means discomfort.

Today’s roundup features Amanda S. Green, Deirdre Saoirse Moen, P. J. Pruhon, Andrew Hickey, Lisa J. Goldstein, The Staff of The New Republic, Steve Davidson, N.K. Jemisin, Larry Correia, Tom Knighton, Jim C. Hines, Rebekah Golden and Lis Carey. (Title credit belongs to File 770’s contributing editors of the day SocialInjusticeWorrier and Going To Maine.)

Amanda S. Green on Mad Genius Club

“Inspiration and remembrance” – May 24

I look at the Hugo controversy and wonder if those clinging to the award, willing to destroy careers if necessary in order to do so, and I wonder if they have given even a passing thought to how what they are advocating is the non-political version of censorship (and yes, I understand that technically only a government can censure something).  They want to silence points of view they don’t agree with. They want to silence what they see as the opposition. Which, when you consider that science fiction should be the one place where all viewpoints should be welcome is not only ironic but sad.

So today, here is my challenge to each of us. Remember those who have sacrificed so much so we can read and write what we want (within limits. Remember, the Supreme Court will know pornography when it sees it). Now ask yourselves if what you are doing honors their sacrifice. For myself, I am going to be doing all I can to honor it.

 

Deirdre Saoirse Moen on Sounds Like Weird

“BayCon Panels and Notes” – May 24

The Hugo tug-of-war: Diversity of opinion among Worldcon voters

This panel [at BayCon] went really well, and I’m glad that Kate Secor had some details that I hadn’t researched. Also thanks to James Stanley Daugherty for moderating and Amy Sterling Casil for her contributions.

My general feelings:…

  1. The more that is done at this year’s meeting to “fix” things, it will become an outrage escalator, and I believe that would be counterproductive long term. While I think the 4 of 6 proposal (and a couple of others) have merit, what I’d actually like to see is more people nominating. Specifically, more people who realize you can’t read the entire field, so nominate what you have read and what you think is worthy.

Nothing that “fixes” nominations will change the fact that there are far fewer nominators than members, and far fewer nominators than voters.

 

P. J. Pruhon on Newsvine

“Sad Puppies and Paranoid Barflies” – May 24

The few words in my article mentioning Baen Publisher Toni Weisskopf were a commiseration for the reputation that the Sad Puppies have laid on her and Baen Books: “the vandals who wrecked the Hugos”. In my two days on Baen’s Bar, I was repeatedly attacked for having insulted Ms Weisskopf. I (politely) explained several times that there was no insult. Apparently Mr Cochrane finally understood… but he could not leave it alone: “This was interpreted by the conference owner as a slur on the owner of the site.” ….

Sometime during my second day on Baen’s Bar, I began getting criticism for “moving the goalposts”. I found this odd, since I was in fact just repeating what I had said earlier. Then I had my Eureka!! moment.

These folks had not misunderstood me.

They had not heard me at all.

What they heard was a voice in their heads: an “Anti-Sad Puppies” archetype telling them the things that “everyone knows that ASPs say”.

Me? I was not saying those things, but the Barflies did not notice, because they were not listening to me.

When I insisted loudly that I did not say that, they very honestly felt that I had moved the goalposts. The goalposts had started where those voices in their heads had stipulated, and here I was, daring to say differently! How dare I deviate from what they knew I must be saying!

Once we understand that Barflies and Sad Puppies are not listening to anything other than their own preconceptions, everything becomes limpidly clear. It becomes obvious that their outrage in not being recognized as the only true carriers of the “real SF” flame is genuine.

 

The Staff of The New Republic

“Science Fiction’s White Male Problem” – May 24

The conservative backlash isn’t entirely about attempts to diversify science fiction; it’s also motivated by nostalgia for an imaginary past. The Puppies factions argue that science fiction used to be a fun, apolitical genre but has now become too socially conscious and pretentious, due to a sinister leftist conspiracy…..

If leftism shouldn’t be conflated with literary ambition, neither should it be confused with demographic diversity. Torgersen assumes that stories exploring gender and race will automatically be boring left-wing propaganda. This flies in the face of history. For decades, science-fiction writers of both the left and the right, both popular entertainers and those writing more ambitious works, have made a point of trying to be inclusive. Heinlein started featuring nonwhite characters in his books from the very beginning of his career. His “Starship Troopers” (1959) can be read as a right-wing paean to military virtue; the main character is a Filipino.

Samuel R. Delany describes himself as a “boring old Marxist” but loves the right-wing fiction of Heinlein. “Well, Marx’s favorite novelist was Balzac — an avowed Royalist,” Delany once explained. “And Heinlein is one of mine.” The largeness of soul and curiosity about differing ideas that Delany brought to his appreciation of Heinlein is sadly missing from all the resentment and angst of the Sad and Rabid Puppies.

 

Steve Davidson on Amazing Stories

“My Final Hugo Ballot” – May 24

Best Novel.

Only three works were eligible for consideration based on my determination not to reward the pupfans who thought it would be funny to poke the SJW’s in the eye by way of screwing with a 75 year old tradition.* They were:

Ancillary Sword, Goblin Emperor, The Three Body Problem

I gave the top slot to Ancillary Sword after having made it about a third of the way through Three Body Problem. I’d originally expected to be giving the top slot to TBP; I’d heard great things about it from the translator and I’ve been championing the community’s engagement with Chinese works for about a year now. Unfortunately, I found TBP to be slow to develop, and, at least for me, a bit off in its metaphor and simile. I found some of that to be jarring rather than descriptive.

Ancillary Sword, on the other hand, was an even quicker read for me than Justice (probably so at least partially due to being familiar and comfortable with the gender play), and I found it to be perhaps an even stronger story than Justice, and certainly a middle third that transcends the usual problems of middle thirds of trilogies.

I don’t do fantasy (my fault: I just can’t get past the initial premise that nothing in the story is potentially real) and have given it the third slot out of courtesy at this point in time. Now that I’ve gotten the Hugo Packet, I’ve had a chance to skim GE.  I’m leaving it in the number three slot, despite its apparent love of faux ye olde englysh in the dialogue.

The fourth slot is, and will remain, for No Award, as the remaining two entries were slatened entries.  I was hoping that Anderson and Butcher would at least state something regarding their inclusion publicly, though I understand their reluctance to screw with their successful careers by getting mired in the politics.  At this point in time they’ll pretty much piss off a segment of their audience no matter what they say.  Sorry guys, for whatever “guilt by association” may be present here, but you are on the slate, you’ve not written anything to disabuse me of the presumption that you are there willingly and I promised myself and everyone reading the website that I would vote ANYTHING on ANY slate below No Award – despite whatever personal feelings I may have about their individual worthiness….

 

 

 

 

Tom Knighton

“If you’re going to fling it, you better back it up” – May 24

Jemisin has, as of my writing of this post, revealed no evidence to support her assertion.  Nothing.  This is my surprised face:

 

Tom Knighton

Tom Knighton

Yeah, I look flabbergasted, don’t I?

This is just the latest — and lamest — attempt to try and paint Larry as a racist, all of which have failed miserably.  You know why they have?  Probably because Larry’s not a racist.  Shocking, I know.

Of course, one of my own initial reactions was to say screw cons as a writer and just avoid them as much as possible.  Personally, I suspect that Jemisin and company would see that as a feature, not a bug.  After all, pushing people like me out of fandom could hardly be a bad thing, right?  They don’t want “my kind” around.

 

Jim C. Hines

“Hugo Thoughts: Graphic Story” – May 24

Of the five nominees, the collection from The Zombie Nation was recommended by both the Sad and Rabid (SR) puppies. The rest of the category is puppy-free.

  • Ms. Marvel: The first page includes Kamala Khan smelling bacon and saying, “Delicious, delicious infidel meat” and someone responding, “Chow or chow not. There is no smell.” I was officially intrigued. A few pages later, we discover Kamala writes Avengers fanfic. She’s also struggling with her own identity, torn between cultures and dealing with ignorance and prejudice. She dreams about being powerful and blonde and beautiful like Ms. Marvel…and then she gets her wish. Sort of. And discovers it’s not what she imagined. This is a superhero origin story that plays off of our expectations, because Kamala has grown up in a world of superheroes. She’s an Avengers fangirl. She has to unlearn what she has learned, in order to become, in her words, “a shape-changing mask-wearing sixteen-year-old super ‘moozlim’ from Jersey City.” There’s a lot of humor, and some good depth and complexity to Kamala and her family and friends. There’s also a supervillain, of course, but that’s secondary to the story of Kamala coming of age and learning to navigate and incorporate the different parts of her identity….

 

Lisa J. Goldstein on theinferior4

“The Hugo Ballot, Part 14: A Brief Trip Back to Short Stories” – May 24

And with the first of them, “A Single Samurai” by Steven Diamond, comes a problem I haven’t had in this read so far.  Namely, that I didn’t like the story, but I can imagine people who would. If your idea of fun is seeing really big creatures — I mean really big — stomp past leaving a trail of destruction in their wake, if you’ve held onto that child-like joy that only a rampaging monster can bring, then this story might be for you.

 

Andrew Hickey on Sci-Ence! Justice Leak!

“Hugo Blogging: ‘Best’ Novelette” – May 24

However, I shall actually be placing all five below No Award. One of the more depressing aspects of the Sad and Rabid Puppy slates is that the people who put them together are pushing both a political and an aesthetic viewpoint, and the aesthetic viewpoint is just as toxic as the political one. Even were all the stories to have made it on their own merits without block voting, and even had the politics of the authors matched my own, the stories on the Puppy slates are just *bad*.

Some of that badness is a lack of craft — badly-written sentences, with no sense of the potential of language for beauty, of the rhythms of speech, or of the subtle nuances involved in the choice of one word over another. I would actually have some sympathy for this if the ideas in the stories were worth reading — after all, I hardly have the most mellifluous prose style myself, and there are reasons other than beauty of language to read.

But the ideas are, uniformly (bearing in mind I’m only two categories through, so they might yet surprise me) awful.

In the “Best” Novelette category, I’m ranking No Award first, and second I will be ranking The Day the World Turned Upside Down by Thomas Olde Heuvel (translated by Lia Belt). This is the one non-Puppy nomination, and is the kind of poor literary fiction that makes one almost wonder if the Puppies have a point. The protagonist, a tedious narcissist with no redeeming characteristics whatsoever, is moping because his girlfriend left him. Then, for no adequately-explained reason, gravity goes into reverse, with people being flung up to ceilings or into space. The world has turned upside down, just as his girlfriend turned his emotional world upside down. Do you see? It’s perfectly competently written, for its type (although don’t use it as a guide for the care and feeding of goldfish — but in a world where gravity can go into reverse, goldfish managing to survive in 7-Up is probably not the most unrealistic thing about the story), but it’s a story in which horrible things happen to a horrible person, and I find it very hard to care about those….

 

Lis Carey on  Lis Carey’s Library

“Laura J. Mixon Hugo Nominee Fanwriter Sample” – May 24

This is a clear, well-supported explanation of Requires Hate’s multiple online identities, cyberstalking, and harassment, as well as her habitual deletion of hateful posts after the fact, making it hard for her victims to prove what happened to them. Mixon has included only episodes that she can document, and includes screen caps. Names are included only with the agreement of the individual. This was a major service to the sf community, and it’s well-written.

 

Rebekah Golden

“2015 Hugo Awards Best Professional Artist: Reviewing C Reid” – May 24

I am reviewing Carter Reid as a professional web comic artist based on what I could find since he didn’t submit anything for the [Hugo Voter] packet. That said I’m not going to read the whole year’s worth of comic. What I was able to make it through was tedious and uninspired. The plots seem to echo gleeful conversations between teenage boys. It’s really just not that interesting.

 

Rebekah Golden

“2015 Hugo Awards Best Movie: Reviewing Guardians of the Galaxy” – May 24

Overall every rewatch gives me more reason to favor this movie. It just improves under scrutiny.

Love in the Time of Collars 5/21

aka “Nobody puts Puppy in a corner.”

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

Rebecca Ann Smith

“Who Owns Popular Culture?” – May 21

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

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

 

Nick Mamatas in a comment on File 770 – May 21

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

There are three options as far I can tell:

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

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

So aggrieved Hugo Award followers, which shall it be?

Two is still the best bet.

 

Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“Three options” – May 21

[Commenting on Nick Mamatas’ analysis above.]

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

1. Suck it up

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

2. Castigate all campaigning

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

3. Counter-slates

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

 

Kate Paulk on Mad Genius Club

“Of Puppies and Principles” – May 21

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

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

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

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

 

John C. Wright

“The Customer is Always Right” – May 21

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

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

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

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

 

John C. Wright

“The Uncorrectors are Never Right” – May 21

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

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

 

Ridley Kemp on Stay With Me, Go Places

“History Will Forget The Sad Puppies” – May 21

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

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

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

 

Martin Wisse on Wis[s]e Words

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

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

 

Marion on Deeds & Words

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“Amanda S. Green Fanwriter Samples” – May 21

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

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

 

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

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

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

 

Brian Niemeier on Superversive SF

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

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

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

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

 

Joe Sherry on Adventures In Reading

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

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

1. Tea and Jeopardy

2. Galactic Suburbia

3. Adventures in SF Publishing

4. The Sci Phi Show

5. Dungeon Crawlers Radio

 

Lis Carey on Amazon

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

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

 

Lisa J. Goldstein on theinferior4

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

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

 

Katya Czaja

“Hugo Awards: Fanzine” – May 21

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

1) Journey Planet

2) Tangent Online

3) No Award

4) Elitist Book Reviews

5) The Revenge of Hump Day

 

Kevin Standlee on Fandom Is My Way Of Life

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

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

That Hell-Hound Train 5/20

aka I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by puppies

Today’s roundup represents the collective wisdom of Larry Correia, Christopher M. Chupik, John Scalzi, MattK, Nathan, Vox Day, Jeremiah Tolbert, Kevin Callum, William Reichard, Phil Sandifer, Nicholas Whyte,  Russell Blackford, Daniel Ausema, Chris Gerrib, Joe Sherry, Lisa J. Goldstein, Martin Lewis, Katya Czaja, Adult Onset Atheist, Morag and Erin, JJ and Nyq. (Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editors of the day Jim Henley and Jeff Smith.)

Larry Correia on Monster Hunter Nation

“Hugo Voter Packet now available for download” – May 20

It should go without saying, but apparently I need to plainly state the blatantly obvious, everyone should read the nominations and vote honestly.

 

Christopher M. Chupik in a comment on Monster Hunter Nation – May 20

Your weasely, dog-whistle dudebro code doesn’t fool me! I know that you *really* mean “suppress the vote of female and minority Hugo voters”. And any minorities or women who pop up to dispute that are just tokens and human shields!

 

John Scalzi on Whatever

“How You Should Vote for the Hugos This Year” – May 20

I think the slates are bullshit, and I think the people who created them (and at least some of the people on them) are acting like petulant, whiny crybabies and/or obnoxious, self-aggrandizing opportunists. I’m also aware some slate choices were not made aware they had been put on slates, or were placed on them under false pretenses. Some of those so slated chose to leave the ballot, which I think is impressive and well done them, but I can’t really fault those who chose to stay, not in the least because for some of them it would be politically or personally awkward to withdraw, for various reasons. And, on the principle that a stopped clock can be correct twice a day, it’s entirely possible something or someone that is a slate choice is genuinely deserving of consideration for the Hugo, and I am loath to discount that, particularly if the person to whom the award would be given was also an unwilling (or misinformed) draftee onto a slate.

So here is my plan:

  1. I am going to look back on my own Hugo nomination ballot, and identify in each category the work/person I nominated that I judged to be my “last place” choice in the category.
  2. When confronted with a nominee on the final ballot who was placed there by a slate, I will ask myself: “Is this work/person better than my own ‘last place’ nominee?”
  3. If the answer is ‘yes,” then I will rank that work/person above “No Award” on my final ballot, and otherwise rank them accordingly to my own preference.
  4. If the answer is “no,” then I won’t put that work/person on my ballot at all, and I will put “No Award” below my choices in the category so it’s clear that I would prefer no award given than to offer the Hugo to anything/anyone I’ve left off the ballot.

 

MattK in a comment on Brad R. Torgersen – May 20

Voting “No Award” over a work that one thinks has been “nominated inappropriately” is really a vote against the process of nomination, and should take place in a different venue, at the WorldCon business meetings where the Hugo rules can be discussed for possible change.

Voting “No Award” over another work based on your perception of the ideological views of the author is a stand that you should make with your pocketbook, or your own internet pulpit, and not by subverting the Hugo process for your own preferred social or political purposes.

Voting “No Award” over a work because it doesn’t contain the requisite number of women/gays/minorities portrayed in the politically correct fashion of the week actually does superficially start to bear on the idea of the merit of the work. However, only someone who has lost all sense of the real purpose of art could believe the idea that the faddish political checklists of the day have anything to do with “excellence in the field of science fiction or fantasy.” Excellence in the field of social and political propaganda is quite a different category entirely, one with which historically prominent figures named Adolph and Josef were very familiar, back in my grandparents’ day. Many of us are tired of being told that “science fiction” which scores highly on that particular metric is the best that the field has to offer today — especially when it only tangentially seems to be science fiction at all. As has been noted elsewhere many times, political art is to art as military intelligence is to intelligence. In deference to our host, I’ll say that I suspect that comparison may be somewhat unfair to military intelligence.

 

Nathan in a comment on Vox Popoli  – May 20 at 5:08 p.m.

Sounds more like they are looking for reasons to justify what they’ve already decided to do. As for graphic novels, can we burn that category down at least?

 

Vox Day in a comment on Vox Popoli  – May 20 at 5:36 p.m.

As for graphic novels, can we burn that category down at least? Go for it. It merits it.

 

 

Kevin Callum in a comment on Making Light – May 19

In my opinion, the Sad Puppies and their third slate would have come to nothing in the Hugo voting if the Rabid Puppies slate didn’t exist. I see it this way. The Sad Puppies knew they didn’t have sufficient swaying power beyond their personal subscriber base(s) and hired a mercenary. The mercenary took over the campaign and behind the Sad Puppies’ backs promoted his own slate that took over the Hugo Awards. This left the Sad Puppies with nothing to take credit for since the Rabid Puppies completely stole the Sad Puppies’ thunder. And yet the Sad Puppies keep blathering on.

I understand the blustering by those in the Rabid camp. They can actually claim some sort of victory. But now that the Sad Puppies have actively distanced themselves from the Rabid Puppies, what do they have left? When I see Correia or Torgerson bloviating (through File770, since I don’t want to inflate their sense of importance by inflating their page counts), I picture a child stomping his foot and yelling, “My dad can beat up your dad.”*

These guys keep running about as if they have something important to say, and people keep referring to the Sad Puppies campaign. To me the Sad Puppies have almost no relevance and haven’t since the announcement of the Hugo nominees. The Rabid Puppies did the actual sweeping.

The Sad Puppies really do have an apt name since at this point they can only cry about their platform getting stolen out from under them.

So when I see articles from institutions like the Wall Street Journal, I think great—the wider the coverage the better. But I keep thinking they have misrepresented the facts by giving so much credit to the Sad Puppies.

*Or, since they seem to think that the SJWs are mostly women, “My dad can beat up your mom.”

 

William Reichard

”No country for previous generation androids” – May 20

http://plaeroma.com/ is marked private by its owner.

 

 

 

 

Nicholas Whyte on From The Heart of Europe

“Wisdom from my Internet, by Michael Z. Williamson” – May 20

Wisdom from my Internet is a really bad book. I will admit that I disagree with about 90% of Williamson’s political statements; but even in the few cases where I don’t, his style is just not very funny. More objectively, I’ve got a quarter of the way through and if there has been any actual reference to SF I have missed it. I prefer my Best Related Works to actually be, well, related. I don’t think I will bother with the rest.

How interesting that the author is a mate of the slatemongers, and that it was not recommended by a single contributor to the crowdsourcing exercise (which we are repeatedly told was “100% open” and “democratic”), yet ended up on both slates anyway! It has reinforced my intention to vote “No Award” for this entire category.

This nomination really shows up the bad faith of those behind the slates. For all their complaints about cliques, political messages and works getting nominated which are of poor quality and are’t sfnal enough, here they have done exactly what they accuse the imaginary cabal of doing. It is simply shameful.

 

Russell Blackford on Metamagician and the Hellfire Club

“Hugo Awards Voters Packet” – May 21

Whatever the extent of the genuine problems, there has been a massive overreaction this year by a group of people (or, seemingly, two rather different groups of people) who are disenchanted.

I can think that those people have greatly exaggerated whatever real problems existed with the Hugos – and that they have made things worse by introducing an unprecedented level of blatant, politicized campaigning – without  wanting to take part in a campaign of retaliation that could destroy the awards. Further: I can think that those people are probably wrong, misguided, thinking about the issues ahistorically, acting counterproductively, etc., while also thinking that they, or at least most of them, are decent, sincere individuals who are doing their (misguided) best and may even have identified some good material that would normally be overlooked. As to the latter, we’ll see. Meanwhile, some of these people have been subjected to personal vilification and abuse, harassment, and even death threats; there is utterly no place for any of this.

Once again, in any event, I plan to play it straight. I will vote for material on its merits, and I’ll try to review some of it here.

 

 

Daniel Ausema on The Geekiary

“Hugos and Puppies, the 2015 Short Fiction Nominees” – May 21

My intent all along has been to read each of the nominees and judge them regardless of who wrote them or who nominated them. That, of course, has become more problematic as the controversy rages. No person can be completely without bias. Nevertheless, I will do my best to review these short stories as if this were a normal year for Hugo nominations. I’ve gone out of my way to avoid learning whether the individual writers in this list were involved, supported, or knew ahead of time anything about either slate.

With that in mind, here are the nominees for short fiction….

The Parliament of Beasts and Birds”, John C. Wright (The Book of Feasts & Seasons, Castalia House)

This a fable-like story, with a group of animals wondering what to do now that some sort of apocalypse has fallen. The humans (called “Man” here) have disappeared, leaving the animals uneasy and confused. The truth they uncover is that some version of the Christian end times has carried humans away, leaving the animals to decide what to do now with this human-less world.

Writing-wise, this captures the feel of animal folk tales well most of the time, though at times the attempt falls into overwrought prose. But overall, it’s weakened by the fact that it fails to do much more than retell a specifically religious tale, adding only the idea of animals being saved or condemned. It offers little new, neither to those already well familiar with the religious backdrop nor to those who do not self-identify with a Left-Behind sort of Christianity…..

 

Chris Gerrib on Private Mars Rocket

“Hugo Packet – The Wrong Way to Wright” – May 20

I am really bouncing hard off of John C. Wright’s novellas. For One Bright Star to Guide Them I’m baffled by the attitude to magic. Robertson, our first character, hasn’t thought of magic for years, yet the instant he sees a black cat he’s all magic!!!! – Then when we visit Richard, he alternates in the same paragraph between “yeah magic, especially if it gets me laid” and “no magic for me, I’m British.” Oh, and since when have you described out loud what somebody was wearing to the person wearing it? Sorry, no dice. (Oh, and I checked – somebody on File 770 thinks that Wright forgot the name of one of his characters, and changed it from Sarah to Sally randomly. Not so – she is referred to as both names, but there’s no explanation as to why in the story. It would have been better to be consistent.) ….

 

Joe Sherry on Adventures in Reading

“Thoughts on the Hugo Award Nominees: Fan Artist” – May 20

No Award: While Foster and Stiles have been perennial nominees, and I had a very nice e-mail exchange with Foster last year when I was looking to highlight the art of all of the nominees (something I do not plan to do this year), I don’t feel this art is truly among the best. It is art of a particular style, and I think it has fit the fanzines they have often been published in, but when you compare to Elizabeth Leggett, well, there is no comparison. I appreciated Ninni Aalto’s work more than those of Foster and Stiles, but it still doesn’t quite rise above and meet the levels of Leggett and Schoenhuth.

 

Lisa J. Goldstein on theinferior4

“The Hugo Ballot, Part 12: Novellas” – May 20

[CONTAINS SPOILER]

A brief summary of “Pale Realms of Shade,” just so you know what I’m talking about — Matt Flint, a private eye, has been killed and returns as a ghost.  He doesn’t remember who killed him, and goes on a quest to find out…. A lot of this murkiness, I think, is the prose.  Wright never uses one word when ten or twenty will do.

 

Martin Lewis on Everything Is Nice

“Hugo Voting – Fan Writer” – May 20

1) No Award

2) Laura J Mixon – For reasons set out here.

3) Amanda S Green – Basically a stream of consciousness only tangentially related to SF that is randomly peppered with the letters SJW and GHH.

4) Cedar Sanderson – As above but with extra anti-feminism.

5) David Freer – As above (including literally published on the same blog as Sanderson) but actually insane.

6) Jeffro Johnson – No accessible contribution included in Hugo voter package and I’m not about to go and seek out Puppy work.

If you set out to find the worst fan writing available, you’d probably end up with something like this (and this pattern seems to hold true in Best Related). The Puppies think that not only is this writing not shit, it is the best published in the field in 2014.

 

Katja Czaja

“Hugo Awards: Short Fiction” – May 20

Ranking While I liked “A Single Samurai” and “Totaled”, neither of them are even close to being the best science fiction short story that has come out this year. Oh,Puppies, just because you agree with the message, it does not make the work any less message fiction.

 

Adult Onset Atheist

“SNARL: A Single Samurai” – May 20

At this point –dear readers- I should point out that writing my own reviews allows me to capriciously score the stories that are reviewed. For this story I am going to award a couple of points. I will give this story one star just for having a daikaij?  in it because I dig daikaij?. I will also give it another star for having a Samurai in it because I like the films of Akira Kurosawa.

The Samurai is obsessed with his weapons, and they are magic. The Samurai’s obsession with the weapons even constitutes some of the proof that they are magic.

 

Morag and Erin in Manfeels Park

“New Reading List” (click link to see comic) – May 19

With thanks to James May and Eric Flint

[Quoting the site: “Manfeels Park is an exercise in flogging a pun for all it’s worth. The male dialogue in this webcomic is all taken word for word or adapted only slightly from web commentary by hurt and confused men with Very Important Things To Explain, usually to women. Artistic license is exercised in editing commentary for brevity, spelling and grammar, but the spirit of the original comment is always faithfully observed. Witty rejoinders are also ‘found dialogue’ where possible.”]

 

JJ in a comment on File 770 – May 20

“Freedom’s just another word for no Puppies left to peruse.”

Busted flat in SFF Land, waitin’ for Sasquan,
and I’s feeling nearly’s deprived as can be.
Puppies dumped a dreckload down, the packet’s just arrived.
Full of Puppy message fic for me.

I stayed up too late, reading Goblin Emperor.
And Ancill’ry Sword’s pages, how they flew.
But Butcher’s Skin Game’s mighty hard, it’s taken many nights.
And I’m still not even halfway through.

Freedom’s just another word, for no Puppies left to peruse.
Hugo don’t mean nothin’ honey if I can’t read it.
Yeah, feelin’ good was easy, Lord, when I read Cixin Liu.
You know excellent prose was good enough for me.
But not good enough for the Damn Puppies.

From the shorter-length Novellas, through yet smaller Novelettes,
The Puppies left their territory mark.
Through all of the Short Stories, and through Related Works,
Yeah, Puppies making Hugo’s outlook dark.

One day I’ll be done with this, the deadline’s on the way.
I’m looking for the end of it, and then I’ll be fine.
But I’d trade all of my tomorrows, for one single yesterday,
to be havin’ no more Puppy works in line.

Freedom’s just another word, for no Puppies left to peruse.
Hugo don’t mean nothin’ honey if I can’t read it.
Yeah, feelin’ good was easy, Lord, when I read Cixin Liu.
You know gripping plots were good enough for me.
But not good enough for those Damn Puppies.

 

Nyq in a comment on File 770 – May 20

Nate: “If our authors win… we win. If no award wins… we win. And if you no award everything… we still win.

“And please understand… we will be back next year. The slates aren’t going away. If anything they’ll just merge into one bigger more powerful slate than the two that dominated this year.”

SOory it is more complicated that:

  • If No Award wins a category with an ODD number of votes then we win. (this will invoke a subcommittee to then determine who ‘we’ are)
  • If No Award wins with a prime number of votes you win but only if rule 1 doesn’t apply.
  • If No Award wins everything then you lose UNLESS you throw a number greater than 7 on a D20.
  • If Vox Day wins a category then you lose because the “we all voted ironically” rule comes in play.
  • If John C Wright wins a category then the “its opposite day” rule comes into effect.
  • If one of the secret-SJW-ninja candidates win then you lose. The secret-SJW-ninjas have infiltrated the puppy nominess and have ensured some of the nominated works contain subliminal messages advocating social justice.
  • If John Scalzi wins then George RR Martin wins based on the “but those guys weren’t even nominated” rule.
  • Alexandra Erin has already won.
  • The Roland Barthes Memorial Hugo Award for post-structuralist reading will go to whoever wins in the arm wrestling contest between Vox Day and Theodore Beale.

Other rules and winning conditions available on request.

Rules subject to change.

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?