2016 Novellapalooza

Editor’s note: be sure to read the comments on this post for more novellas and more Filer reviews

By JJ: I’m a huge reader of novels, but not that big on short fiction. But last year, I made a concerted effort to read a good sampling of works in the shorter fiction categories. I ended up reading 31 of the novellas published in 2015 (though a few of those were after Hugo nominations closed).

This sort of comprehensive survey of the category was an entirely new experience for me. I found some real gems – several of them utterly unexpected – and perhaps for the first time, I really felt as though I was able to do nominations for the novella category in an informed way. So I decided to do it again this year.

It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book despite not feeling that the jacket copy makes the book sound as though it is something I would like – and to discover that I really like or love the work anyway. On the other hand, It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book in such a case, and to discover that, indeed, the book doesn’t really do much for me.

Thus, my opinions on the following novellas vary wildly: stories I thought I would love but didn’t, stories I didn’t expect to love but did, and stories which aligned with my expectations – whether high or low. Bear in mind that while I enjoy both, I tend to prefer Science Fiction over Fantasy – and that while I enjoy suspense and thrillers, I have very little appreciation for Horror (and to be honest, I think Lovecraft is way overrated). My personal assessments are therefore not intended to be the final word on these stories, but merely a jumping-off point for Filer discussion.

I thought it would be helpful to have a thread where all the Filers’ thoughts on novellas are collected in one place, as a resource when Hugo nomination time rolls around. I’ve opined on a few of these previously on File770, so I’ve put those at the end, so as to not give them an unfair amount of bandwidth.

Which of these novellas have you read? And what did you think of them?

Please feel free to post comments about any other 2016 novellas which you’ve read, as well.

(Be sure to rot-13 any spoilers.)

(fair notice: all Amazon links are referrer URLs which benefit non-profit SFF fan website Worlds Without End)


Cold-Forged Flame, by Marie Brennan (aka Bryn Neuenschwander) (excerpt)

coldforgedflameTor.com, edited by Miriam Weinberg

cover art by Sam Weber, design by Christine Foltzer

Synopsis: A woman comes to consciousness with a bloody animal sacrifice laid out before her. She realizes that she is bound to the shaman who did the sacrifice, by a geas that will force her to follow his command: to bring back “blood from the cauldron of the Lhian”. Never mind that he doesn’t tell her who or what the Lhian is, or where the cauldron is located: she doesn’t even know who she herself is – and he won’t tell her that either, because he says it’s safer if she doesn’t remember.

What I thought: I really, really liked this. It features a strong but flawed female character, and avoids or subverts a lot of the quest tropes. This is definitely on my longlist for next year’s Hugo nominations – and I’ll be seeking out some of Brennan’s other works, as well. There’s a sequel, Lightning in the Blood, coming out in April 2017.

Filer Comments:

  • Mark-kitteh: For a character who has no idea who she is, she’s strangely compelling, and the story itself is more adventure and (self) discovery than hack-and-slash, although there’s a bit of that too. It’s about 20,000 words, so fairly short for a novella, and it feels like a fully expanded short rather than a compressed novel, but that’s no bad thing – the story is complete by the end, although I suspect sequels are possible, and some intriguing bits of worldbuilding have been revealed.
  • Arifel: probably the best novella I’ve read this year – intriguing, well paced fantasy with a great main character and world building that I can’t wait to read more of.
  • kathodus: I noticed it on my Kindle when I had just a little time to read, decided to check it out, and remembered that it was recommended as being a tightly written story with good action and characterization, because that’s what it was. I think there is another novella or something written within this world, and I’m looking forward to checking it out.

Patchwerk, by David Tallerman (excerpt)

patchwerkTor.com, edited by Lee Harris

cover art by Tommy Arnold, design by Christine Foltzer

Synopsis: The inventor of an extremely powerful device, realizing that it could be used as a horrible weapon by people with sinister intentions, is trying to smuggle it out of the country in the cargo hold of an airship. But of course, an evil person who wants the weapon is on the ship as well – and knows way more about it than they should, because of a betrayal from the inventor’s past. This is the story of their confrontation, and the battle for control of the powerful device.

What I thought: Halfway through this story, I was really excited. I really liked where it was going, and how the author was taking it there. But the ending didn’t quite live up to my expectations; I’m not sure why, perhaps it seemed a little too pat. Nevertheless, I still think it is a very good story, and it’s on my Hugo nomination longlist.


Downfall of the Gods, by K.J. Parker (aka Tom Holt) (excerpt)

downfallofthegodsSubterranean Press, editor unknown

cover art by Vincent Chong, design by Desert Isle Design

Synopsis: A spoiled, petulant goddess who refuses to forgive the man who murdered her favorite musician-poet is overridden by her all-powerful father, who orders her to forgive him anyway. So she decides that her forgiveness will be given only if the man asking for it is able to complete a heroic task: to bring back the musician from the dead.

What I thought: I have more than a passing familiarity with, and appreciation for, Greek and Roman mythology, and this story combines elements of those liberally, and with some inventiveness and snarky humor. Parker’s The Last Witness was my favorite of the thirty-one 2015 novellas I read, and this story makes it clear that his skill in that one was not a one-off or an accident. This is on my Hugo nomination longlist. (Caveat: Readers who expect faithfulness to classical mythology will be disappointed.)


The Devil You Know, by K.J. Parker (aka Tom Holt) (excerpt)

thedevilyouknowTor.com, edited by Jonathan Strahan

cover art by Jon Foster, design by Christine Foltzer

Synopsis (jacket copy): The greatest philosopher of all time is offering to sell his soul to the Devil. All he wants is twenty more years to complete his life’s work. After that, he really doesn’t care. But the assistant demon assigned to the case has his suspicions, because the person making the bargain is not only the greatest philosopher, but also the greatest liar, trickster, and cheat the world has yet known; the sort of man even the Father of Lies can’t trust. He’s almost certainly up to something… but what?

What I thought: I ended up going back a couple of days later and reading the second half of the book (which is approx 120 pg total) again, because the twists are a bit involved and intricate, and it requires a suspension of disbelief to put oneself into the world as it’s been built here. It’s a clever story, but for some reason it did not wow me in the same way as The Last Witness or Downfall of the Gods.

Filer Comments:

  • GiantPanda: great version of Faust. Goes on my Hugo longlist
  • Arifel: Readable and satisfying but not spectacular.
  • alexvdl: Thought it was a pretty good thought experiment, well in my favored “bureacracy porn” milieu. I didn’t realize before I picked it up that it was the sequel to Blue and Gold, but that was just an added bonus.

The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, by Kij Johnson (excerpt)

thedreamquestofvellittboeTor.com, edited by Jonathan Strahan

cover art by Victo Ngai, design by Christine Foltzer

map by Serena Malyon

Synopsis: An older instructor at a women’s college in the Dreamlands must go on a journey to retrieve a young student who has run away with her lover to the waking world; failure would likely mean the vast destruction of the college, the country in which it is located, and all the people there. The protagonist, on their journey through strange lands populated by unfathomable monsters, is joined by a mysterious and possibly magical SJW credential: Following her into [the ship’s cabin], the cat assumed immediate possession of a yak-wool scarf she tossed for a moment upon the bunk. “I need that, cat,” she warned, but it only curled tighter and gazed up with bright eyes. In the end, the scarf remained there for the rest of the voyage.

What I thought: The plot in this story is rather incidental; it’s there to provide a vehicle for the evocative, beautifully-descriptive prose. The inspiration for this story was The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, and it’s my understanding that big Lovecraft fans will especially enjoy it. I’m not one, and I found it enjoyable but not earth-shaking. A strong main character and the aforementioned prose make it well worth the read.

Filer Comments:

  • lurkertype: Great characters, good world-building, and some passages I had to reread for their beauty. Does not need familiarity with Lovecraft to work, but that would probably add another dimension (heh). Lives up to HPL by having somewhat archaic words I had to look up – you can gather the idea in context, but there were some pretty cool nouns I didn’t know in there. Needless to say, not with the HPL racism and sexism.
  • Mark-kitteh: I have to say it’s a setting idea that just grabbed me from the start… It’s very much a travelogue, and has some of the issues that come along with that – is this just a list of places she goes at authorial fiat? – but I think the character and the charm of the setting really pulls you along, and the stakes get built up nicely. I’m not sure how much you’d need to know Lovecraft’s dreamlands to appreciate it – I certainly found the mythos elements enriched it – and I think the ending wasn’t quite as strong as it might have been, but overall I enjoyed it. (Content note: two mentions of rape, in the sense of mentioning it has or could happen, not in the sense of featuring it in any way)
  • Rob Thornton: as a big fan of the original Lovecraft story, overall I found Kij Johnson’s take on the meh side. The story is good and the prose is good, but when the tale is placed in Lovecraft’s Dreamlands, Johnson is up against a standard that is hard to beat. I have really enjoyed Kij’s other works, though, so I look forward to whatever she does next.
  • Arifel: while all the Lovecraft went completely over my head I enjoyed the world and the plot (older woman explores world, roles for older women in sexist societies) and there were no obvious triggers
  • kathodus: The second trek through Lovecraftia written from the point of view of someone who would have been invisible or reviled in Lovecraft’s writing. This one didn’t have a Lovecraftian atmosphere – it was working within his world, but not working with his vibe. I like what the author did with the gods. And there’s a cat. Or two. But I think just one.

Lustlocked, by Matt Wallace [Sin du Jour #2] (excerpt)

lustlockedTor.com, edited by Lee Harris

cover photo by Getty Images, design by Peter Lutgen

This volume also contains the prequel novelette “Small Wars”, which was published on Tor.com in January 2016.

Synopsis: The gang at Sin du Jour catering has been contracted for a really, really big job: the wedding of the Goblin King’s son and his fiancée. And the challenge is immense: prepare pairs of numerous courses, in identical-looking forms, to suit both goblin and human gastronomics. But of course, no catering plan survives contact with the diners… the big question is whether the Sin du Jour crew will survive the ensuing catastrophe – and if they do, how will they escape the Goblin King’s wrath?

What I thought: I found the first entry in this series, last year’s Envy of Angels, to be an unexpected, clever, slyly witty delight. This is a worthy follow-up – and the author manages to weave his supernatural worldbuilding in with the real world so deftly that the reader can almost believe it’s all really true.

Filer Comments:

  • Mark-kitteh: I thought Lustlocked didn’t play out quite as well as Envy of Angels, although it does feature an excellent take on goblins with a very interesting choice of goblin king…

Pride’s Spell, by Matt Wallace [Sin du Jour #3] (excerpt)

pridesspellTor.com, edited by Lee Harris

cover photo by Getty Images, design by Peter Lutgen

Synopsis: The Sin du Jour Catering Company finds itself unexpectedly double-booked for events on both the East and West Coasts. So the experienced members of the team stay in NYC to put on a gala dinner for a convention, and the boss takes the newest crew members and the pastry chef extraordinaire out to Hollywood for a movie premiere party. But there’s just one thing that none of them have been told: this time around, they’re all intended to be surprise additions to the menu…

What I thought: This is another fun romp, with some new villains, as well as the reappearance of some old villains – and an unexpected hero. I have to say that I love the author’s imaginative cuisine, with dishes concocted from some pretty unusual ingredients. If you liked the previous entries in this series, you’ll enjoy this one, too.


The Jewel and Her Lapidary, by Fran Wilde (excerpt)

thejewelandherlapidaryTor.com, edited by Patrick Nielsen Hayden

cover art by Tommy Arnold, design by Christine Foltzer

Synopsis (jacket copy): The kingdom has long sheltered under the protection of its Jewels and Lapidaries, the people bound to singing gemstones with the power to reshape hills, move rivers, and warp minds. That power has kept the peace and tranquility, and the kingdom has flourished… but now the Jeweled Court has been betrayed. As screaming raiders sweep down from the mountains, the last princess and the last lapidary of the Valley will have to summon up strength that they’ve never known.

What I thought: There’s a whole lot of ‘splaining about how the jewel magic and lapidaries are supposed to work mixed in with the story, and I think that the plot and action suffer extensively due to that. There is the strong germ of a good story idea here; it’s just too bad that the execution gets so bogged down in the infodumping. I’d like to see the author rework this into a really enjoyable novel. (And I have to say that the cover is one of my favorites from 2016.)

Filer Comments:

  • Arifel: This is short – a long novelette rather than a novella, even – but very well put together and definitely worth a read. Only disappointment was that Sima is not actually an aged-up Toph Beifong as the cover seemed to indicate.
  • Mark-kitteh: Not quite as good as recent highlights like Forest of Memory or Every Heart a Doorway, but still a worthwhile entry… It’s a fascinating setting and magic idea, and I suppose that Wilde could either have stopped for a 10,000 word exposition on how it all works or start the story with a crisis in media res and hope that the idea comes through. Obviously she goes for the latter, and although it’s not 100% successful it’s definitely the right choice for a novella. I kept wanting a bit more clarity on how the jewels worked, but as I didn’t want her to stop the story for some As You Know Bob I can’t really complain too much.

The Emperor’s Railroad, by Guy Haley [The Dreaming Cities #1] (excerpt)

theemperorsrailroadTor.com, edited by Lee Harris

cover art by Chris McGrath, design by Christine Foltzer

Synopsis: A young boy and his mother struggle to reach a relative in a faraway town after everyone else in their own village in a post-apocalypic U.S. is destroyed by zombies. They are lucky enough to meet up with a Knight who protects them on their journey (for a sizable fee, of course), against zombies and “angels of God” (from what appears to be a dubious religion).

 

 

 


The Ghoul King, by Guy Haley [The Dreaming Cities #2]  (excerpt)

theghoulkingTor.com, edited by Lee Harris

cover art by Chris McGrath, design by Christine Foltzer

Synopsis: A healer is interrogated by the authorities about his role in an illegal attempt to retrieve lost and forgotten technology from a dead city – an attempt which, of course, also includes the aforesaid Knight. This time, in addition to zombies, angels, and a whole passel of religious talk, there are “ghouls” – a higher form of zombie which has retained some thinking faculties and is thus a far more threatening adversary.

What I thought: I swear, all zombie stories should be required to include a plausible origin story in order to be published (at least Seanan McGuire, bless her, managed a capital job of that). All of the other zombie stories I’ve read seem to have been written by South Park’s gnomes:

Step 1: Normal world

Step 2: ?????

Step 3: ZOMBIES!!!

While the post-apocalyptic worldbuilding is somewhat interesting, I have to admit that I never found these stories particularly gripping or compelling, and I found the religious aspect simply tiresome. And since they’re told from the point-of-view of someone other than the Knight, I felt as though I never really got to see enough of him to feel invested in him. There are hints that the angels are not really angels, but something more interesting – but at this point, I’m not interested enough to read the third story to find out. Rating: 2 Mehs. YMMV.


Runtime, by S. B. Divya (aka Divya Srinivasan Breed) (excerpt)

runtimeTor.com, edited by Carl Engle-Laird

cover art by Juan Pablo Roldan, design by Christine Foltzer

Synopsis: A young person who has taught themselves computer engineering since they were a child enters a speed-and-endurance race against well-equipped, well-funded professionals, supported only by home-built-and-programmed cybernetic augments. The prize money for placing in the top 5 would mean being able to earn full personhood, for themselves and for their siblings, and a future livelihood. But on the brink of victory, they are faced with a terrible ethical choice.

What I thought: I loved this short, fast-paced novella. Even in the short length, the author does a good job of creating a complex, nuanced main character. I’m going to be avidly watching for more stories by this author.

Filer Comments:

  • Arifel: I had a couple of worldbuilding nitpicks (mostly the idea that young people are undergoing gender neutralising surgery as a fashion trend…) but overall I found this well worth my time.
  • Arifel: [story] does have some gender dysphoria and dysfunctional parent child relationships

Dreams and Slumbers, by Seanan McGuire [October Daye]

dreamsandslumbers(included with the novel Once Broken Faith)

DAW Books, edited by Sheila Gilbert

cover art by Chris McGrath, design by G-Force

map by Priscilla Spencer

Synopsis: After the conclave is over, Queen Arden Windermere in the Mists has a choice to make, and no one to help her make it. This is the story of Arden’s attempts to awaken her elf-shot brother, Nolan, from his 100-year sleep. At first, Arden believes that all she has to do is give him the cure, but it’s not that simple, because in addition to being elf-shot, Nolan was poisoned – and once he’s given the cure for elf-shot, he will die of the poison. Can Arden find an antidote to the poison? And does she really want to wake him up, when she will have to face him with the fact that she has not yet really established herself, or accomplished anything, as Queen?

What I thought: I thought that this was a great coda to Once Broken Faith, and a great addition to the October Daye universe. It gives the reader insight into, and further character development of, peripheral characters in the series. But like Once Broken Faith, it’s really only going to have a good meaning and impact for those who’ve read the novels in the October Daye universe.

Having said that, the October Daye universe is on my 2016 Hugo Best Series shortlist.


Down and Out in Purgatory, by Tim Powers (Kindle sample)

downandoutinpurgatorySubterranean Press, editor unknown

cover art by Dave McKean, design by Desert Isle Design

Synopsis: Years ago, one of the guys in the college gang married the girl in the gang – then later on, murdered her. Another one of the gang, who was in love with her, has sworn revenge and spent the last 6 years looking for the killer. A PI finally finds him – in the morgue, having died happy at his Malibu estate with a drink in his hand and his latest girlfriend in his bed. The protagonist thinks the killer got off way too easy, and decides to get the assistance of a practitioner of the occult in achieving revenge in the afterlife.

What I thought: I read Salvage and Demolition a couple of months ago and absolutely loved it, so I had high hopes for this. I thought it was good, but it didn’t quite get to “great” for me. I would have liked to have gotten to see a little more of what was behind the protagonist’s life history and motivations. Worth reading.


The Drowning Eyes, by Emily Foster (excerpt)

thedrowningeyesTor.com, edited by Carl Engle-Laird

cover art by Cynthia Sheppard, design by Christine Foltzer

Synopsis: Tazir captains a ship in a world where Windspeakers shape the weather to help ships along their routes – for a price. But now the world is threatened by reavers on Dragon Ships who leave only destruction in their wake. Tazir and her crew take on a wealthy young female passenger and leave port in time to escape the Dragon Ships – but who is the mysterious young woman, and why is she having terrible nightmares?

What I thought:  I enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would based on the synopsis. It does some nice character development and worldbuilding without having to resort to infodumping (it’s what I wish The Jewel and Her Lapidary would have been), and the plot does not follow a predictable path. This is on my Hugo Novella longlist.

Filer Comments:

  • Arifel: This might have been a bit too subtle for me as there were a lot of dynamics between the different crew members and between Tazir and Shina that didn’t really come through for me until right at the end, but I still enjoyed.
  • Mark-kitteh: I thought it was going to get rather cliched but the middle section had some good characters and an interesting ambiguity about how the Windspeakers get created (although it was a theme that The Fifth Season looked at much better). Unfortunately I didn’t think it stuck the ending at all.

The Ballad of Black Tom, by Victor LaValle (excerpt)

theballadofblacktomTor.com, edited by Ellen Datlow

cover art by Robert Hunt

Synopsis: The protagonist of the story is a young black man living in Harlem, who survives in New York City and supports his ailing father by engaging in petty scams and cons – enduring constant harassment and abuse from police and other white people. Despite his utter lack of singing and guitar-playing ability, he is hired by a mysterious old man to provide background music at a very unusual house party.

What I thought: This novella is a response, written by a black man, to H.P. Lovecraft’s most notoriously racist story, The Horror at Red Hook. I think that fans of Lovecraft will enjoy the way it deconstructs and re-writes HPL’s racism into a uniquely black perspective. Even though Lovecraft, Horror, and Weird really aren’t my thing, I found it interesting and worth reading.

Filer Comments:

  • emgrasso: checks a lot of boxes for Lovecraftiana, but I don’t think it really works as a whole. The sections where the story had atmosphere that worked instead of feeling like it was just going through the motions weren’t the Lovecraftian ones. And even outside the supposedly spooky stuff, there was an important plot point regarding a “shocking” straight razor that fell flat for me – what else would a poor black man in the 1920s have shaved with?
  • Bonnie McDaniel: The story suffers, in my view, from an unnecessary POV shift about halfway through. It would have made for a tighter focus and characterization if the author had stuck to the original POV character throughout, although as the story unfolded, that would have resulted in going to some pretty dark places. This one would also have been better at a greater length, I think. As it is, it’s okay, but nowhere near the fantastic Lovecraft Country.

Everything Belongs to the Future, by Laurie Penny (excerpt)

everythingbelongstothefutureTor.com, edited by Patrick Nielsen Hayden

cover photo by Oleksiy Maksymenko, design by FORT

Synopsis: In the near future, the wealthy and talented benefit from vastly-extended lifespans due to a revolutionary drug. A group of futuristic underground Robin Hoods are doing their best to see that the “ordinary” people have the chance to enjoy some of those benefits. But there’s a Judas in their midst: one who has neither their goals, nor their best interests, in mind…

What I thought: Oh, wow. This is a powerful story of “haves” versus “have nots”, of deceit versus informed consent, of cowardice and heroism, of betrayal and retribution and remorse and repentance. I do not recommend reading this when spoon levels are low – but I definitely recommend reading it. This is my first choice for Hugo Best Novella.


Brushwork, by Aliya Whiteley (read online)

brushworkGigaNotoSaurus, edited by Rashida J. Smith

Synopsis: In a climate-devastated future world, crops are grown in biodomes by workers privileged enough to be allowed to escape the horrible conditions outside, and the fresh fruits and vegetables are sold to those who are wealthy enough to afford them. But the “have-not”s outside the domes have a plan for changing the status quo.

What I thought: This is an incredibly uncomfortable story to read right now, because the main theme is echoed repeatedly throughout the narrative: just how willing will people be, to make the moral and ethical compromises which throw their co-humans “under the bus” – as long as they think that they themselves will benefit? Just how large does the possibility of personal reward have to be, before human beings will choose to be complicit in sacrificing others — and then to look the other way when the inevitable happens? This is a moving and powerful story, and it is on my Hugo Novella longlist.

Filer Comments:

  • Dawn Incognito: Post-apocalyptic UK hitting on the gulf between generations and haves vs. have-nots.
  • Cassy B.: thanks for the pointer to it. Powerful story.

The Arrival of Missives, by Aliya Whiteley (excerpt)

thearrivalofmissivesUnsung Stories, edited by George Sandison

cover art by Jana Heidersdorf, design by Martin Cox

Synopsis: A young woman, on the cusp of adulthood after World War I, learns that she has a much larger destiny than even her own high aspirations – but if she follows that destiny, it will mean giving up her own hopes and plans. On May Day, on the village green, she will have to make a choice that will affect her life forever… and change worlds.

What I thought: Well, Brushwork is indeed a powerful story – but I was absolutely blown away by this one. I’m still thinking about it, days later. This is a story about free will, and the choices we make, and the fact that no matter what choice we make, there will often be a cost – to ourselves, or to someone else. This book will speak to anyone who has ever had to sacrifice something life-changingly important to themselves in order place priority on what’s best for someone else (I would describe its theme as “The Lady Astronaut from Mars on speed”). Right now the e-book is still rather expensive, but I encourage everyone to try to get access to it, if it’s not affordable, through the library, a loan from a friend (the kindle version is loanable), or a purchase. I think you will be very glad you did. This is definitely going on my Hugo Novella ballot.


The Warren, by Brian Evenson (excerpt)

thewarrenTor.com, edited by Ann VanderMeer

cover art by Victor Mosquera, design by Christine Foltzer

Synopsis (jacket copy): X doesn’t have a name. He thought he had one – or many – but that might be the result of the failing memories of the personalities imprinted within him. Or maybe he really is called X. He’s also not as human as he believes himself to be. But when he discovers the existence of another – above ground, outside the protection of the Warren – X must learn what it means to be human, or face the destruction of their two species.

What I thought: I was really looking forward to reading this, based on the jacket copy. I’ve read at least 32 of the Tor.com novellas now, and although I liked some of them a lot, and some of them not so much, this is the first one where I’ve actually wondered why it got published. I think that there are a few seeds of a good story here – but that it’s seriously undercooked and full of been-done-before. It’s like a mashup of Wool, Flowers for Algernon, and Impostor. Not recommended, at least by me.

Filer Comments:

  • Mark-kitteh: I think this novella gives you fair warning when it begins with a dedication to Gene Wolfe. Someone called X has awoken in a place they know is called the warren. They seem to think they have been created, and that they have the memories of their predecessors, who were also created. They know the hostile conditions will kill them soon, and they’d like to create themselves a successor, but they can’t, and the computer they can talk to is failing and unhelpful. Events occur which start to explain what might be going on, and then I turned the page to see “About the Author” staring at me, and I didn’t really know what it had all been about. If someone else reads this and says it was a wonderful multi-layered narrative then I’ll totally believe them, but I was tired and I just went huh?

A Window Into Time, by Peter F. Hamilton (excerpt) (e-book only)

awindowintotimeawindowintotimeusDel Rey / Pan Books, edited by Bella Pagan

cover art by Kathleen Lynch, using images from CHAINFOTO24/Shutterstock (buildings) and ovi 801/Shutterstock (clock)

Synopsis: A 13-year-old boy with an eidetic memory (and probably a strong streak of Asperger’s) remembers everything he’s ever seen, heard, or experienced. And suddenly, he’s remembering flashes of someone else’s memories. How? And why? And will he be able to figure it out in time to save another person’s life?

What I thought: I liked this better than I thought I would, given the YA protagonist. I would say that it probably provides some good insights into the thought processes of someone who is in the Asperger’s spectrum. The author nails the ending, I think, but it didn’t quite wow me enough for me to consider it for Hugo nomination.

 

 

 

 

 

 


This Census-Taker, by China Miéville (excerpt)

thiscensustakerDel Rey, edited by Mark Tavani

cover photo by Wusheng Wang, design by David G. Stevenson

Synopsis: A little boy living in a cottage high above the nearby town witnesses his father killing his mother – or does he? At any rate, she’s gone – and his father is becoming progressively more angry, irrational, and abusive. But then a stranger comes to town – a stranger who sees that something is wrong, and who may be in a position to help.

What I thought: Readers who are looking for any sort of explanation – any sort at all! – will likely be very frustrated with this story. It offers lots of provocative descriptions, and tantalizing hints and clues, but nothing whatsoever of any real explanation or resolution. It’s an interesting read, but in the end, in order for me to love it, I needed a little more than the story was willing to provide. Readers who are okay with unsolved mysteries may find a lot here about which to think and speculate.

Filer Comments:

  • Dawn Incognito: Challenging. Mysterious, haunting, and occasionally brutal. If you’re familiar with Miéville this should not be surprising. There are many questions, and I’m sure many clues, but no easy answers. I may reread shortly to see what I can pick up that made no sense the first time through. The narrative shifts, mostly first-person with the odd second- and third-. Possibly a distancing mechanism from the traumatic events the narrator is going through. Possibly something else. I’m not sure I “got” it. I’m not sure I will. But it will stay with me for some time. Worth the challenge, I think.
  • Bartimaeus: Weird, creepy tale of a small town with sinister secrets lurking under the surface. This story has many intriguing enigmas and a very unreliable narrator. For starters, did his mother kill his father, or his father kill his mother? Miéville’s prose is just hypnotic here, and I love the atmosphere he builds. Though the ending doesn’t reveal all the answers, it is very tantalizing. (I suspect this aspect won’t work for everyone). I really loved this and will probably re-read it sometime.
  • More rot-13 discussion in this thread
  • Vasha: A good essay on This Census-Taker by Daniel Maidman (to be read only after the book).

The Last Days of New Paris, by China Miéville (excerpt)

thelastdaysofnewparisthelastdaysofnewparissubeditionDel Rey / Subterranean Press, edited by Mark Tavani

Del Rey cover photo by Claudia Carlsen, design by David G. Stevenson

Subterranean Press cover art by Vincent Chong, design by Desert Isle Design

Synopsis: In 1941, an “S-blast” is set off in Nazi-occupied Paris. Nine years later, a Surrealism expert who is a member of the Resistance movement lives a hellish existence in a city overrun with living Surrealist entities, and demons conjured by the Nazis in an attempt to fight back.

What I thought: This story definitely falls into the category of The New Weird. As with Bellitt Voe, the plot here (such as it is) is merely a vehicle for the vivid imagery and nonsensical occurrences. Readers who are fans of Lovecraft, or Surrealism, or VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, may very well enjoy this. I have a college minor in French language, history, and culture, I love Paris, and I have a bit of amateur art education, so hoped that I would enjoy New Paris more than I did. I found the Area X books interesting in a “but a little bit of this goes a loooooong way” sense – and after those, apparently little of my appetite for such things was left over for this story.

There is a “Notes” section, keyed by page number, describing the origin of each of the Surrealist manifestations. Readers may wish to flip back to this each time one appears in the story, as I think it will enhance the appreciation of the imagery. Simultaneous access to Google to look up the referenced images would probably enhance appreciation, as well.

I would say that this is definitely a “Marmite” story – readers will likely either love it or hate it. My reaction was “meh – I’ve got another book sitting here that I’d really rather read”.

Filer Comments:

  • Rob Thornton: It’s a magic realist book about Surrealism and WWII, but the first 50 pages or so felt like a drag. Mieville is usally a crackerjack prose writer but something is missing here. Maybe it’s because I dearly love Lisa Goldstein’s The Dream Years (which is similar in some ways). But I’ll try it again.

Forest of Memory, by Mary Robinette Kowal (excerpt)

forestofmemoryTor.com, edited by Lee Harris

cover art by Victo Ngai, design by Christine Foltzer

Synopsis: This story is a recounting of an experience in a near-future time when everyone is wired into the net all the time, by someone who hunts down antiquities and documentation of rare experiences and sells them to collectors for a living. The protagonist gets kidnapped, and cut off from the net, and forced to deal with her kidnappers.

What I thought: Trigger Warning for ALL THE TYPOS. This is an integral part of the premise for the story, but it annoyed the hell out of me and kept kicking me out of it. I really liked the premise of the story, and I thought that it showed a lot of promise, but it just didn’t go far enough to satisfy me. I’m hoping that she’ll develop it into a novel (if she does, I’ll just have to figure out how to deal with the typo angst).

Filer Comments:

  • Arifel: The worldbuilding in this is subtle and believable and its very readable but ultimately didn’t feel like a finished story to me.
  • Mark-kitteh: this is a really interesting and elegant story… There’s perhaps not that much to the story, but MRK really digs into her theme and fills the whole story with it. One thing though – there’s a gimmick in which the story is being typed on an antique typewriter, and so there are typos and so on. Sent me mad.
  • Cat Eldridge: Forest of Memory was originally part of the METAtroplis series, so it feels like a part of something bigger because it was. I found that that since there was a shared universe framework, some of the stories really didn’t work if you hadn’t read the stories preceding a given story.

Penric and the Shaman, by Lois McMaster Bujold [World of the Five Gods, Penric #2] (Kindle sample)

penricandtheshaman

penricandtheshamansubeditionSpectrum Literary Agency (2016) / Subterranean Press (February 2017), editor unknown

Spectrum cover art “Grindelwald” by Jakob Samuel Weibel (1771-1846)

Subterranean Press cover art by Lauren St. Onge

Synopsis: This sequel picks up 4 years after Penric’s Demon left off: with Penric gradually adjusting to the 12-personality demon which inhabits his psyche (and with the demon adjusting to him). There’s the mystery of a murder and a missing man – and Penric is tasked to solve both.

What I thought: It’s a testament to Bujold’s supreme skill that this story, like its predecessor, is just so quietly awesome. The conflicts are, for the most part, subdued – but no less impactful for that. Penric is a flawed but wonderful character who is easy to care about – and his quiet, thoughtful approach, tempered with a wry humor, makes a really nice contrast to the all-too-common over-the-top superhero protagonist.

Filer Comments:

  • lurkertype: I read Penric and the Shaman when it came out in June and quite liked it. I like the earlier part of that world (The Hallowed Hunt, Penric’s Demon) more than the later part. I like the Five Gods.
  • Lee Whiteside: A worthy follow up to the first novella.
  • Mark-kitteh: +1 on Penric and the Shaman – she took it in an interesting direction, I thought.
  • ULTRAGOTHA: Penric and the Shaman is very, very good, too.
  • Greg Hullender: I just read and reviewed Penric and the Shaman and gave it five stars… I think this novella is very readable even for someone who didn’t read Penric’s Demon.
  • Cheryl S.: I also just read Penric and the Shaman. It was good and I liked it, but it was too creamy smooth for me to really like it. I think she’s such a good writer, but not in the least showy and sometimes I find that less than interesting, even if all the parts work well. I wonder if the reason her longer stuff works better is because then the accumulation of her talent and skill is more noticeable?

Penric’s Mission, by Lois McMaster Bujold [World of the Five Gods, Penric #3] (Kindle sample)

penricsmissionSpectrum Literary Agency, editor unknown

cover art “View of Ragusa” by Emil Jakob Schindler (1842 – 1892)

Synopsis: Penric has been sent on an undercover mission to another country, to recruit a highly-skilled general who has offered to aid in their own military endeavors. But immediately upon disembarking from his ship, Penric is taken captive by the King’s forces and thrown into a black hole in the prison. What’s more, the general himself has been imprisoned. Penric must somehow find a way to retrieve the situation – balancing duty with personal obligation – with the help of the general’s highly-intelligent sister.

What I thought: Penric has come into his own at this point. He has assimilated well with his demon and its dozen different personalities, and has learned how to use their knowledge and powers to enhance his own intelligence and capabilities. As with the previous stories, Penric’s mission here is to try to reconcile doing his official job with doing what he personally feels is right – and like the previous stories, this one makes the reader feel quietly satisfied and uplifted by the ending. Caveat: this one ends in a bit of a “what happens now?” place, and readers who find that frustrating may wish to wait until the fourth story is released.

Filer Comments:

  • ULTRAGOTHA: unlike the other two novellas, this one ends in a place that cries for another story *right now*. Bujold is writing these novellas fairly quickly (at lightning speed, for her) so I’m hopeful maybe next year?
  • Greg Hullender: While it doesn’t have the plot sophistication of Penric’s Demon or Penric and the Shaman, the writing is excellent, and the story is pure fun.
  • Nickp: Based on the title, I was half-expecting (and half hoping for) Penric’s expedition to convert the Roknari to Quintarianism. But not that kind of mission. Pseudo-Byzantine Empire was fun, anyway.
  • robinareid: it’s pure joy and love and happiness on all levels.

Every Heart a Doorway, by Seanan McGuire [Wayward Children] (excerpt)

everyheartadoorwayTor.com, edited by Lee Harris

cover photos by Colin Anderson (forest), Martin Barraud (doorway), design by FORT

Synopsis: This is a dark, bittersweet story about the children who fall into fantasy worlds where they become heroes, and then find themselves lost and unable to cope when they are returned to the “real” world. An adult who was one of those children brings as many troubled children as she can find and save to her boarding house, an environment where they can be among others who understand and empathize with their pain.

What I thought: Damn that Seanan McGuire, damn her! Every time I read the backcover synopsis for one of her stories, I think, “Well, that doesn’t sound as though I’d much enjoy it” – and then I read it and enjoy it immensely. On my novella list for next year’s Hugos right now. TW for graphic mutilation scenes. A prequel, Down Among the Sticks and Bones, will be published in June 2017.

Filer Comments:

  • emgrasso: short but intense, with a main viewpoint character I really appreciated and a wonderful ending. I’m very glad there will be more stories in that universe.
  • Snodberry Fields: it was good. If you have enjoyed other works by Seanan McGuire you should read this too. The world building and characterization was first class! I just loved reading about these people. I cannot imagine that his will not be on my ballot next year.
  • Ryan H: I’m going to second Every Heart a Doorway. Anyone who is interested in identity and representation in books needs to give this a read. Oh, and is also a fantastic story!
  • Kyra: Pros: The characters and concepts are great, absolutely on the level of what I consider her best books. It gets recommended by me here on the strength of these. Cons: The plot; it was (in large part) a murder mystery where the perpetrator was completely obvious to me right away. I know she can write a mystery where that isn’t the case, Indexing certainly didn’t have an obvious villain, so I’m not sure why it happened here.
  • robinareid: thought Every Heart a Doorway AMAZING, especially the ending which was a lovely twist on conventional ending of that genre.
  • Vasha: Every Heart a Doorway is simply beautiful… the overriding mood of the story is wistfulness, and it’s perfectly captured… The main characters are tremendously appealing (yes, even the amoral mad scientist); they are a group of clever misfits who support each other fiercely, although recognizing that they can’t provide a true home for each other… It’s a short novella, and it’s just the perfect length. I don’t think anything needed to be added to flesh out its themes and characters; it says what it had to say and ends on the right note.
  • Mark-kitteh: I found it interesting that there was some overlap in concept with Not by Wardrobe, Tornado, or Looking Glass, although the execution was from different angles. Each story must have been written without being aware of the other. What I liked about the earlier story was that the concept seemed so clever and natural that I was surprised I’d never seen it treated quite that way before, and then another version comes along!
  • Doctor Science: A great premise, beautifully creepy prose, and not the expected ending. My only problem: it’s a murder mystery, and it fails what I call The John Donne Test (“Any man’s death diminishes me”). The Test is: Is there a second murder? If there is, you fail, boom. If it’s a mystery story without *any* murder, you get an A.
  • Arifel: a good read but not the mind blowing tale I was hoping for from the premise.
  • Chris S.: this is really really good. I was surprised by the depth and complexity which got folded into such a short book. (click on hyperlink for rot-13 comment) She could have spun this out to trilogy length, but I think it’d have lost the impact at that length.
  • Greg Hullender: Although there are a lot of characters, they’re so well drawn that I never mixed them up, and I cared about all the key ones. The plot is multithreaded and works itself out perfectly. And the ending is moving.
  • Lowell Gilbert: I actually thought the ending was a bit predictable to be effecting. McGuire had written herself into a bit of a corner where there were a limited number of ways out. Still a great book, though.
  • Stephen Granade: I’ll be the nth person gushing over Every Heart a Doorway. Eerie, effecting, and in turns frightening and uplifting.
  • Bruce Baugh: has a remarkably good portrayal of a trans boy as one of the main characters. I live with a high degree of dysphoria myself and found much to recognize in his portrayal, and several trans friends have been recommending it independently of each other.
  • Kendall: it was very good – I recommend it! The audiobook narrator was quite good. I enjoyed the world building and characters, especially, and also the plot; it was a well-rounded story. It made a great stand-alone

These novellas are also on my list to read, but have not yet arrived at my library:

A Taste of Honey, by Kai Ashante Wilson [Sorcerer of the Wildeeps #2] (related short fiction with character background)

atasteofhoneyTor.com, edited by Carl Engle-Laird

cover art by Tommy Arnold, design by Christine Foltzer

Synopsis (jacket copy): Long after the Towers left the world but before the dragons came to Daluça, the emperor brought his delegation of gods and diplomats to Olorum. As the royalty negotiates over trade routes and public services, the divinity seeks arcane assistance among the local gods.

Aqib bgm Sadiqi, fourth-cousin to the royal family and son of the Master of Beasts, has more mortal and pressing concerns. His heart has been captured for the first time by a handsome Daluçan soldier named Lucrio. In defiance of Saintly Canon, gossiping servants, and the furious disapproval of his father and brother, Aqib finds himself swept up in a whirlwind gay romance. But neither Aqib nor Lucrio know whether their love can survive all the hardships the world has to throw at them.

Set in the same world as, but not really a sequel to, The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps.


The Lost Child of Lychford, by Paul Cornell [Witches of Lychford #2] (excerpt)

thelostchildoflychfordTor.com, edited by Lee Harris

cover photo by Getty Images, design by FORT

Synopsis (jacket copy): It’s December in the English village of Lychford – the first Christmas since an evil conglomerate tried to force open the borders between our world and… another. Which means it’s Lizzie’s first Christmas as Reverend of St. Martin’s. Which means more stress, more expectation, more scrutiny by the congregation. Which means… well, business as usual, really.

Until the apparition of a small boy finds its way to Lizzie in the church. Is he a ghost? A vision? Something else? Whatever the truth, our trio of witches (they don’t approve of “coven”) are about to face their toughest battle, yet!


Hammers on Bone, by Cassandra Khaw [Persons Non Grata #1] (excerpt)

hammersonboneTor.com, edited by Carl Engle-Laird

cover art by Jeffrey Alan Love, design by Christine Foltzer

Synopsis (jacket copy): John Persons is a private investigator with a distasteful job from an unlikely client. He’s been hired by a ten-year-old to kill the kid’s stepdad, McKinsey. The man in question is abusive, abrasive, and abominable.

He’s also a monster, which makes Persons the perfect thing to hunt him. Over the course of his ancient, arcane existence, he’s hunted gods and demons, and broken them in his teeth.

As Persons investigates the horrible McKinsey, he realizes that he carries something far darker. He’s infected with an alien presence, and he’s spreading that monstrosity far and wide. Luckily Persons is no stranger to the occult, being an ancient and magical intelligence himself. The question is whether the private dick can take down the abusive stepdad without releasing the holds on his own horrifying potential.

A sequel, A Song for Quiet, is due out in August 2017.


Project Clio, by Stephen Baxter (Kindle sample)

projectclioP.S. Publishing, editor unknown

cover art by Ilan Sheady

Synopsis (jacket copy): For the last decade we really have been waging a secret war against super-villains. It’s just as well the general public are too common-sense to believe any of it…

It’s 1969. Astronauts have just landed on the moon. In Britain, Harold Wilson is Prime Minister. And the Avengers are on TV. Detective Sergeant Clare Seeley, juggling work and family commitments, is aware of peculiar goings-on at the heart of the concrete-jungle new town that is her patch…

Agnes Doyle, brilliant computer scientist and unwilling precognitive, is about to be plunged into a lethally perilous situation…

The Sergeant and Lucy Pennyweather, gaudy swinging-London adventurers, are drawn to a peculiar conspiracy surrounding a pirate radio ship…

Henry Messen, veteran of the First World War and a special forces operative in the Second under the cover of a bumbling Home Guard officer, is on the track of a fugitive Nazi engineer with a very strange secret…

And Thelma Bennet, head of Project Clio the Cross-Agency League of Intelligence Operatives – is closing in on a global threat.

It’s 1969. Not as you know it. The way you always thought it was.


The Days of Tao, by Wesley Chu [Tao #4] (Kindle sample)

thedaysoftaothedaysoftaosubeditionAngry Robot / Subterranean Press, editor unknown

Angry Robot cover art by Argh! Nottingham

Subterranean Press cover art by Galen Dara, designer unknown

Synopsis (jacket copy): Cameron Tan wouldn’t have even been in Greece if he hadn’t gotten a ‘D’ in Art History. Instead of spending the summer after college completing his training as a Prophus operative, he’s doing a study abroad program in Greece, enjoying a normal life – spending time with friends and getting teased about his crush on a classmate.

Then the emergency notification comes in: a Prophus agent with vital information needs immediate extraction, and Cameron is the only agent on the ground, responsible for getting the other agent and data out of the country. The Prophus are relying on him to uncomplicate things.

Easy.

Easy, except the rival Genjix have declared all-out war against the Prophus, which means Greece is about to be a very dangerous place. And the agent isn’t the only person relying on Cameron to get them safely out of the country – his friends from the study abroad program are, too. Cameron knows a good agent would leave them to fend for themselves. He also knows a good person wouldn’t. Suddenly, things aren’t easy at all.


The Burning Light, by Bradley P. Beaulieu and Rob Ziegler (excerpt)

theburninglightTor.com, edited by Justin Landon

cover art by Richard Anderson, design by Christine Foltzer

Synopsis (jacket copy): Disgraced government operative Colonel Chu is exiled to the flooded relic of New York City. Something called the Light has hit the streets like an epidemic, leavings its users strung out and disconnected from the mind-network humanity relies on. Chu has lost everything she cares about to the Light. She’ll end the threat or die trying.

A former corporate pilot who controlled a thousand ships with her mind, Zola looks like just another Light-junkie living hand to mouth on the edge of society. She’s special though. As much as she needs the Light, the Light needs her too. But, Chu is getting close and Zola can’t hide forever.

Pixel Scroll 8/10 Where the Scrolled Things Are

Where there’s smoke there’s… Well, exactly what there is is a subject of debate in today’s Scroll.

(1) Do not miss – “Dilbert Writes A Sci-Fi Novel”.

(2) Oh brave New World! Scientists claim to have pinned down one of Shakespeare’s previously unsuspected literary influences

South African researchers announced they found cannabis residue on pipe fragments found in William Shakespeare‘s garden.

Francis Thackeray, an anthropologist at Johannesburg’s University of the Witwatersrand and the lead author of the study published in the South African Journal of Science, said he and his team used gas chromatography mass spectrometry to analyze residue found on 24 pipe fragments from the bard’s hometown of Stratford-Upon-Avon, England, and cannabis residue was discovered on four fragments taken from Shakespeare’s garden.

(3) When Arthur C. Clarke introduced interviewer Jeremy Bernstein to Stanley Kubrick, he accidentally launched their 25-game chess duel.

I told Clarke that nothing would please me more. Much to my amazement, the next day Clarke called to say that I was expected that afternoon at Kubrick’s apartment on Central Park West. I had never met a movie mogul and had no idea what to expect. But as soon as Kubrick opened the door I felt an immediate kindred spirit. He looked and acted like every obsessive theoretical physicist I have ever known. His obsession at that moment was whether or not anything could go faster than the speed of light. I explained to him that according to the theory of relativity no information bearing signal could go faster. We conversed like that for about an hour when I looked at my watch and realized I had to go. “Why?” he asked, seeing no reason why a conversation that he was finding interesting should stop.

I told him I had a date with a chess hustler in Washington Square Park to play for money. Kubrick wanted the name. “Fred Duval” I said. Duval was a Haitian who claimed to be related to Francois Duvalier. I was absolutely positive that the name would mean nothing to Kubrick. His next remark nearly floored me. “Duval is a patzer,” is what he said. Unless you have been around chess players you cannot imagine what an insult this is. Moreover, Duval and I were playing just about even. What did that make me?

Kubrick explained that early in his career he too played chess for money in the park and that Duval was so weak that it was hardly worth playing him. I said that we should play some time and then left the apartment. I was quite sure that we would never play. I was wrong.

(4) The new Fantastic Four reboot is getting the kind of reaction that explains why the phrase “stinks on ice” was invented.

Not only were reviews scathing — resulting in a 9 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes — audiences on Friday night gave the $120 milliion Fox tentpole a C- CinemaScore, the worst grade that anyone can remember for a marquee superhero title made by a major Hollywood studio. (CinemaScore, based in Las Vegas, was founded in 1979.)

…For the weekend, Fantastic Four, starring Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara and Jamie Bell, topped out at a dismal $26.2 million from 3,995 theaters in North America, one of the lowest openings of all time for a Marvel Comics film adaptation

(5) Carrie Cuinn explained why Lakeside Circus killed plans to publish a Lou Antonelli story, what Antonelli did next, and the verbal attacks she received as a result.

I couldn’t stand by and do nothing after Mr. Antonelli publicly admitted to essentially SWATing someone in our community, especially given the numerous deaths by police and in police custody that have recently made the news. As I said in my letter, it’s a matter of SAFETY. Antonelli took away Gerrold’s safety when he filed that false police report, and I won’t support that by giving him my money or promoting his work.

I was content to do what I felt necessary privately, between Mr. Antonelli and myself, but he dragged me up in front of his fans and made a target of me. He knew people were defensive and angry on his behalf, and he gave them me as a target. Doing that, he took away my safety, too.

(6) Lou Antonelli says what happened wasn’t his intent, and apologized again.

I want to make it clear than when I posted about Carrie Cuinn and Lakeside Circus’ decision taking back their decision to publish a story of mine, I meant it as a cautionary tale – don’t be a jackass like I was, because there are repercussions. Experience is a hard teacher. I don’t begrudge the decision at all. I apologized to David Gerrold because I realized I did something stupid and I made a mistake. But I didn’t think I made a mistake in revealing Cuinn’s decision. Fact was. I thought people would commend her for it, and I thought there would be some people who would like to give her credit for it.

Now she says she’s gotten threats over the revelation. That’s not why I posted it! So I’m sorry again, in this case, because it never occurred to me her action would be seen negatively.

(7) K. Tempest Bradford has a take on the Antonelli/Gerrold story.

You hear all this, and your response is UGH, how terrible! That crosses a line! Antonelli should explain himself and apologize!

Oh? Really? A guy contacts a police department in a serious effort to have said police pay extra special attention to a convention attendee in an atmosphere where there’s already plenty to worry about with police overreacting and you want him to apologize?

Sure, Gerrold isn’t a young black man, so he’s already much safer around police than a lot of folks. But Antonelli’s intent was bring police into a situation for the purpose of causing alarm and harm to Gerrold for no other reason than that he can’t handle Gerrold having an opinion and a platform….

There are real ramifications here, real consequences. There may be a good chance nothing bad will happen. That doesn’t mean it’s okay. That doesn’t mean an apology is enough….

The difference between how we treat people from marginalized identities who do things harmful to our community and how we treat white men who harm our community is so stark, so blatant, that I feel like I’m living in a Onion article right now.

This is how you fail, white people of SFF. This right here….

(8) Some commenters are extrapolating Bradford’s post to mean that Benjanun Sriduangkaew, the subject of a report by Hugo nominee Laura Mixon, ought to be treated with comparable leniency.

Jason Sanford, for one, has written a post “On the double standard of genre apologies”.

Here’s a simple test. Can you figure out why the following situations are different?

(9) Ann Somerville sharply disagreed that these cases are comparable.

The crucial differences are – and Tempest fucking knows these:

  • Antonelli does not carry out secret campaigns of abuse. He does everything, for good or ill, under his own name (which is now mud).
  • He hasn’t been carrying out harassment of people, white/POC, male and female, straight and gay, cis and trans for over ten years
  • he apologised for what he actually did, in full – unlike Miss Hate who sort of vaguely alluded to bad behaviour, without acknowledging the full scope of what she did or directly apologising to her actual victims
  • his victims don’t include people of colour, but include one of Hate’s much loathed white women (that should make him a hero, according to Bradford and Hate)
  • People don’t feel constrained from criticising Antonelli on account of his oh so persecuted race and sexuality – which is still the case with Hate (despite the fact she is massively class privileged and not racially disprivileged in her own country.)

(10) In an earlier post, Jason Sanford made an appeal for peace in the genre.

But this incident has also brought into focus how much bad blood there is in the science fiction and fantasy genre. The letter Lou wrote wasn’t merely an attack on David — it was an attack on Worldcon and the entire genre.

Which I’m certain isn’t what Lou intended. I have no doubt he loves the genre. I’m certain he wants the genre to thrive and grow.

We have reached the point in the SF/F genre where people must decide what they want. Because there are now two simple choices: To destroy the genre or reach for peace.

Reaching for peace doesn’t mean silencing your views or beliefs. Our genre has long been a big tent where all viewpoints and people can co-exist. Yes, the genre has often not lived up to this ideal. And that doesn’t mean there won’t be disagreements and arguments and people who hate each other.

But at the end of the day a shared love of science fiction and fantasy joins us together. We must never forget this.

(11) Though prompted by her experience at the BEA, not by this latest kerfuffle, Kameron Hurley’s article for Locus “Your Author Meltdown Will Be Live-Tweeted” seems prescient.

The more people respect what you have to say, the more folks will come out of the woodwork trying to tear you down. Having been one of the people flinging arrows at authors myself (and let’s be real, I still do), I get it, and I accept it, but that doesn’t make it any easier to navigate when you’re sitting in a restaurant and wondering if your dinner conversation will end up in an Instagram video.

In the ten years I’ve been writing online, I’ve mostly been hated as some kind of women’s lib boogeyman, and that’s just funny more than anything. It’s a lot easier for me to dismiss haters when they’re sending me death threats for believing women are people. It’s harder to dismiss people who want me dead because they despise me in general. In the same breath they’ll say I should be garroted to keep me from speaking and Starbucks should stop serving Pumpkin Spice Lattes because, gosh, those lattes are gross.

More and more, ‘‘being a writer’’ isn’t about writing at all. It’s about the writer as celebrity. The writer as brand. The writer as commodity. And more and more, I see authors themselves reviewed as if they’re busi­nesses on Yelp.

(12) Is it possible that the extended edition of The Battle of the Five Armies could be even more violent than the version shown in theaters? TheOneRing.net theorizes that will be so —

According to a bulletin published today by the Motion Picture Association of America Classification and Rating Administration, the extended edition of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies will carry an “R” rating for “some violence.” Of course, it’s no news flash that the movie contains violence. The theatrical version’s PG-13 rating came with an advisory for “extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images.” So, it’s intriguing to imagine what, exactly, in the EE bridged that gap, especially with only “some violence” to go by. Possible EE spoilers ahead!

(13) The late Terrence Evans (1934-2015) is remembered at StarTrek.com:

Evans ventured to the Star Trek universe to play Baltrim, the mute Bajoran farmer, in the DS9 episode “Progress,” and Proka Migdal, the Bajoran who adopted a Cardassian war orphan, in “Cardassians.” He also appeared as the Kradin ambassador, Treen, in the Voyager hour “Nemesis.”

(14) Voice of Trillian in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Susan Sheridan, has passed away. SF Site News has more at the link.

(15) I believe Matt!

[Thanks to Gregory Benford, JJ, Andrew Porter and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Brian Z.]

The Twilight Bone 6/10

aka Hound of the Basket Cases

In today’s roundup: Suw Charman-Anderson, John C. Wright, Tom Knighton, Vox Day, Lela E. Buis, R. K. Modena, Jason Cordova, Samuel Edwards, Solarbird, Peter Grant, Dr. Mauser, T.C. McCarthy, Chris Meadows, John ONeill, Annalee Newirtz, Rachel Swirsky, Ferret Steinmetz, Brian Niemeier, Jim Butcher, George R.R. Martin,  Matt Wallace, John Scalzi, Nick Mamatas, Paul Anthony Shortt, Rick Wright, David Gerrold, Quilly Mammoth, Spacefaring Kitten, Lis Carey, Andrew Hickey, Rebekah Golden, Adam-Troy Castro. (Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editors of the day Ryan H and Troutwaxer.)

Suw Charman-Anderson on Strange Attractor

“How Tor failed Social Media 101” – June 10

  1. Take enough time, but not too much or too little

When the shit hits the social media fan, it is important to respond in a timely manner, but it’s even more important to avoid a kneejerk reaction. If an issue needs further inquiry before a full response is issued, then it’s acceptable to publicly acknowledge the complaint and say that it’s being looked into.

It may even be that no response is required – not every complaint is deserving of employer intervention. If an employee has a disagreement with a member of the public on her own Facebook page, it is possible that her apology on said Facebook page is sufficient, and that her employer need not step in at all. One can debate whether that was the case here or not, but it is an option that should have been considered, along with all others.

Doherty’s response reads very much like a kneejerk reaction. it is, to all intents and purposes, a public disciplining of Gallo, which is entirely inappropriate no matter what Gallo did. If you address a complaint, you do not use it as an opportunity to shame your staff. Doherty should have taken more time to think about exactly what was going on and how his post would be read by the broader Tor community.

 

  1. Remember there are three sides to every argument

Any public response to a public complaint is made more complex by the fact that there are three parties involved: You, them, and the audience. In his rush to appease Gallo’s critics, Doherty appears to have forgotten that he might also anger people who agree or sympathise with Gallo, or who do not believe that the complaint against her has merit, or who, after reading his post, believe that the complaint has merit but that his response was inappropriate, etc.

In chastising Gallo online, Doherty has alienated a lot of people, and that in and of itself is a massive failure for Tor that Doherty himself should be disciplined for. You simply do not rush in with a response that inflames the situation, especially when it’s obvious from the beginning that tempers are running high and offence is being easily taken. Indeed, the taking of offence is a key weapon in grievance politics, and Doherty should have both realised there was a major risk that his response as written might make the situation worse rather than better.

 

John C. Wright

“Honor is Satisfied” – June 10

A reader asked what I meant when I said, that as a matter of formality, Irene Gallo’s pro forma and possibly insincere apology for her pro-forma and possibly insincerely insult satisfied my sense of honor.

It is difficult for me to explain something that is second nature to me, which is alien to the modern world at every point. In the military, the soldier is obligated to salute the uniform wore by officers of higher rank, not the man wearing it, and the man wearing it is obligated to behave as the uniform requires. The salute satisfies the formality.

An apology satisfies the demand for apology; if the person proffer it did so with deceptive intent, God Almighty, who sees and knows the hearts of the sinners, will punish the falsehood with penalties nightmarish, vehement, absolute, and infinite, that my heart quails to contemplate them. I cannot burn a disembodied soul in hell forever, and neither can I read minds and hearts. Hence, I am not in a position judge the sincerity of an apology, nor do I have the least desire to do so….

I, for one, will regret the event, since a woman of such superlative skill will be hard to replace, but I am confident that Mr Doherty will not insist on keeping her at her tasks in the face of her own shame and regret.

How could she, in good conscience, design a book cover for authors she has so bitterly, absurdly and erratically libeled, and proffer it to book buyers for whom she equally has shone such scorn and mind-destroying hate? It would be cruel of Mr Doherty to insist on Irene Gallo continuing to labor under such adverse and unhappy conditions.

 

Tom Knighton

“Note to my fellow Sad Puppies: Chill just a bit” – June 10

You see, her job isn’t necessarily secure.  She issued an apology of sorts, probably because she was told to.  A post was made at Tor.com distancing her employer from her comments.  That may look like all there will be, but that’s not necessarily the case.  All of that could just be the initial stages of crisis management that may or may not result in her termination.

And if not, I’m still going to ask folks to pull an Elsa and “Let it go”.  I’m not saying to accept the apology.  I’m not saying to forgive Gallo.  That’s up to each and every individual to decide for themselves.  Instead, I’m saying to just let it go and move on.  Gallo’s opinions have been noted, and those who work with her in the future may wish to ask if there is someone else they could work with instead.  Or not.

Folks, we need to be reasonable here.  Yes, we were grievously insulted.  Even if you blow off the “neo-nazi” comment, what followed was little better.  However, she wasn’t the first to use those terms.  Unfortunately, I suspect she won’t be the last either.

Unlike many others, she apparently got a stern lesson about such things.  We got a post that admits that yes, the Puppies did include women and people of color (I hate that term. Sounds too much like “colored people” for me to be comfortable writing it) as well as Tor authors.  I suspect that Irene Gallo will be much more careful going forward.

 

Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“Peter Grant issues a second warning” – June 10

The Evil Legion of Evil has not yet called for a boycott by the many Tor customers attacked by Ms Gallo. It has, after all, only been two days since the management at Tor Books learned about her attack on them. But the one thing they must understand is that an apology is not enough. We expect a resignation. Sooner or later, Ms Gallo will resign. It’s only a question of how much damage Tor Books, and perhaps more importantly, Macmillan, are willing to take first.

 

Lela E. Buis

“A word about power structures” – June 10

One of the problems with social justice attacks in general, and the recent Sad Puppy/Rabid Puppy challenge specifically, is that the rants are often mis-aimed. This means they cause hard feelings, and of course, set off nasty flame wars.

Social justice endeavors can have different motivations. For one, the writer is inflamed by something s/he sees and is motivated to climb on a soapbox for a cathartic, fist-shaking rant. For another, the writer is affronted by some injustice and sits down to plan out a calculated crusade against the problem. In either of these cases, the SJW may have a closely held belief or value that trips off the attack. S/he is hoping it will make people mad and therefore lead to some discussion

 

R. K. Modena on Shadowdancer Studios

“Nazi is not a term you throw around lightly” – June 10

This is why I prefaced this post with a history of who I am, and a rather summarized description of my experiences. I have faced real racism, real discrimination. I have stood OPENLY in support of the Jews, of Israel, for which I have been stalked by someone on the side of the Antis FOR NEARLY SEVEN YEARS AND RECEIVED THREATS AGAINST MY CHILDREN FOR.

Peter Grant has fought against it.

Brad Torgersen goes to fight ISIS / DAESH – against REAL terrorists, REAL religiously motivated hatred, REAL rape culture, REAL KILLINGS OF GAYS.

You who sling mud at us, who question our honor our integrity, our hardships and experiences are doing so FOR THE PETTY REASON OF AN AWARD FOR FICTION.

With Irene Gallo’s original response to the protests of her words, and her subsequent non-apology, it is clear she is unrepentant in her contempt, in her hatred.

 

Janet on Dear Author

“Wednesday News: Tor v. Irene Gallo, Warner Bros. v Friends fans,…” – June 10

So Irene Gallo, creative director and associate publisher for Tor, made a strongly worded comment about the Sad and Rabid Puppies on her personal Facebook page. Afterward, she clarified that the comment was personal and not said in her capacity as a Tor employee. The Sad/Rabid Puppies got mad and then loud about it. Which resulted in Tor publisher Tom Doherty publicly condemning Gallo and basically apologizing to the Sad and Rabid Puppies. I figure the fact that I agree with Chuck Wendig on this is an indication of how gross this situation really is.

 

Jason Cordova

“Eric Flint and the Sad Puppy” – June 10

I’m glad that Eric [Flint] took Tor editor Irene Gallo to task for calling Sad Puppies neonazis. That’s probably the one and only insult that really, really pisses me off. I can stand being called everything else, but once you go past petty and into full-blown turnip with your insults, then I get angry.

Seriously. Ask around. I’ve kind of teetered between confusion and amusement at all this. Confusion because I’m still trying to figure out how I’m a misogynistic racist whose homophobic tendencies override rhyme and reason. Amusement because the amount of bullshit one would have to peddle to make any of that true could fuel a mission to Mars.

But at this point I don’t think it matters. This is the Internet. People don’t take a step back and think “Holy hell, what the **** am I saying?” very often. More often than not a person will double down and keep flinging poo. I’m guilty of it as much as the next I suppose.

 

Samuel Edwards at On Fairy Stories

“Irene Gallo and Boycotting TOR” – June 10

What saddens me the most is reading John C. Wright’s post about Irene Gallo. John C. Wright, a self-professed Sad Puppy, has worked with Irene Gallo at TOR. John is published by TOR and some of his covers were the result of Irene Gallo’s work. That she would be so quick to ascribe falsehoods to the Sad Puppies (and by extension, John) is befuddling. She referred to works which she had a hand in producing (albeit a cover) as ‘bad to reprehensible’. To me, it sounds like she’s been drinking too much of the SJW koolaid. Not only is John published by TOR, but so are other Puppy nominations such as Kevin J. Anderson. This kind of disrespect towards your employer wouldn’t stand in most other companies.

 

Solarbird on crime and the forces of evil

co-signed, strong letter to follow – June 10

I have raged about this so many times. When I was a software developer, I literally sidetracked my career so that I could spend quite literally another full-time job’s worth of time fighting against groups trying to make me illegal. And by illegal, I mean fucking illegal, as in direct threat to my life and freedom, by design. That was the intent and goal, so it’s not like I had any sort of goddamn options.

When I talk about spending “blood and treasure” on this, the blood comes from the street assaults, the treasure comes, in part, from this. All that lost time and money, fighting off people who not only enjoyed but actively made a living from trying to make my existence illegal.

And just as much, the people trying to make me and people like me at best into sub-citizens and at worst into dead people? They enjoyed their work, and made money at it.

Just like the Puppies enjoy their bullshit. They’re having a great time.

 

Peter Grant on Bayou Renaissance Man

“The Tor imbroglio and the progressive narrative” – June 10

Notice how the commenters cited above [at Tor.com] aren’t addressing the specifics of what Ms. Gallo said – they’re saying that she’s right regardless of those specifics, because of other, often extraneous factors.  “My mind’s made up.  Don’t confuse me with the facts!”  They also freely insult others, regardless of the fact that they would never accept or tolerate the same insults being directed against them.  To call anyone a ‘sub-human piece of filth’, as quoted above, is barbaric . . . yet some of them revel in that sort of thing.  That says far more about them than it does about the person they’re accusing.

Another favorite tactic of such individuals is to ignore the overall thrust of the problem by nit-picking the details to death.  If someone makes an allegation of a pattern of misconduct, they respond by taking every single element of the allegation, separating it from the others and nickel-and-diming it to death, demanding verification, supporting evidence, etc.  They can (and do) spin out the process in such depth and for so long that others lose patience and walk away . . . whereupon they claim victory because the original allegation “has not been proved” (to their satisfaction, anyway).

 

Dr. Mauser on Shoplifting in the Marketplace of Ideas

“The Elements of an Apology” – June 10

Apparently, in this day and age, people have forgotten how to properly apologize for their misdeeds. We now live in an era where Ego and Hubris have reached the point that offense is not an objective thing, but in the eye of the offended, who CLEARLY must be delusional, since we can all do no wrong. Well, others can do wrong, and when they do, they MUST be compelled to make an apology. But since they are subject to this same attitude, they only mouth the words that will get other people off their backs.

This leads to a lot of shitty non-apologies that never accomplish what a public apology is meant to do, which is serve as a form of social correction for doing wrong.

There are four things that an apology should contain….

 

 

Chris Meadows on TeleRead

“Sad Puppies roundup, and the Irene Gallo controversy” – June 10

Personally, I’m rather surprised Tor.com left the comments open on Doherty’s statement at all. Usually whenever Tor.com posts something even remotely likely to be controversial (such as statements from Macmillan chief John Sargent in the agency pricing/anti-trust days), it keeps comments firmly closed. It makes me wonder if it might have been done as a passive act of protest against a mandate coming down from Tor’s parent company Macmillan, or perhaps even their corporate owner Holtzbrinck, that Doherty had to issue such a statement. (It wouldn’t be the first time Tor was subject to corporate interference.) But I could be reading too much into it.

Some Puppy supporters, such as Cedar Sanderson and Amanda Green, feel Gallo’s apology didn’t go far enough. On the other side, Chuck Wendig, Gawker, and The Mary Sue have excoriated Tor and Doherty for capitulating. Kameron Hurley, author of the book Gallo’s post originally concerned, has a few comments as well, and The Daily Dot has a good roundup of some of the social media reactions to the affair.

Regardless, it has certainly given rise to a great deal of sound and fury, signifying…well, not a whole lot. Puppies supporters and opponents have both had ample opportunity to show more of their true colors, each providing more ammunition that the other side can use to say, “See? See what they are?” It hasn’t brought us any closer to universal Hugo harmony. But then, we’re probably never going to have that again, at least not for a good long while.

 

John ONeill on Black Gate

“Internet Explodes Around Irene Gallo” – June 10

If you’ve been following science fiction publishing for the past 48 hours, you may have found yourself asking, “Who the heck is Irene Gallo?”

The talented Ms Gallo is the Creative Director of Tor Books, and the associate publisher of the marvelous Tor.com, where she’s done some exemplary work. On May 11, in response to a question on her personal Facebook page, she wrote a quick and rather clueless assessment of the Sad Puppies/Rabid Puppies movement:…

 

David Gerrold on Facebook – June 10

Apparently, there is no mistake so insignifcant that it does not deserve a call to action by the outrage committee. Torches, pitchforks, tar and feathers. Even the smallest of sins must be punished by an internet pile-on, public shaming, and boycotts of everyone in the same neighborhood.

Is there anybody who has not yet earned their Drama Queen merit badge? I guess not. We keep stirring this can of worms to make sure the sauce gets evenly distributed.

The only winner in this (so far) is a certain lunatic attention-whore who needs to demonstrate how important he is by the size of the uproar he can create. And the rest of us have bought into it.

There was a Star Trek episode, “The Day Of The Dove” — in which the crew of the Enterprise and several Klingon warriors were at each other’s throats until they realized that there was an energy creature aboard, feeding on their hatred. Eventually both sides laughed at it — “We don’t need your help hating each other.”

We can continue to rip apart our community and eventually both sides will claim some kind of exhausted victory over whatever shambles remain. The grudges and feuds will last at least a generation because being right has become more important than being friends or colleagues.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jim Butcher in a comment on Eric Flint’s “In Defense of the Sad Puppies” – June 9

[If the link doesn’t work — http://www.ericflint.net/index.php/2015/06/08/in-defense-of-the-sad-puppies/comment-page-2/#comment-2591662 ]

I don’t know if Ms. Gallo’s apology was sincere or insincere.

I don’t know that, because I can’t read her freaking mind.

And neither, presumably, can anyone else.

I work with words professionally. I know exactly how powerful they can be. I am also well aware of their limits–and when it comes to expression complex thoughts in emotionally tense situations over the goddamned internet, the magic of written language has little power.

How can it? It’s missing too much. You can’t read tone of voice, or the expression on a person’s face when they’re making keys click. Pretty much all you get is “clickity click click.”

I’m also an English major. So I’m very aware of how skilled human beings can be at reading all kinds of absolute horse manure into other people’s writing, and then declaring it “subtext” or “internally consistent logic.”

But it isn’t. It’s you, guessing. And your guess is probably prejudiced to one degree or another, most often by projecting things into it that were never meant to be there. Or, put another way:

http://weknowmemes.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/what-the-author-meant.jpg

Maybe Ms. Gallo wrote the apology with a smirk and a cigarette hanging off of one lip while reciting nasty twitter quotes at every individual member of Science Fiction Fandom. Or maybe she was crying and upset and genuinely trying to make amends. Or maybe she was just numb and exhausted. I don’t know.

Neither do you. That’s kind of my point.

But maybe it’s simplest if the curtains were fucking blue, we take her words at face value, and extend a bit of human courtesy and trust to a fellow science fiction nerd. Because she is one, whether that pleases you or not.

Deep breaths here, guys. Her comment was out of line and made a lot of people upset. She apologized to those people.

The curtains were fucking blue.

Can we just get on with life, please?

 

George R.R. Martin on Not A Blog

“Wars, Woes, Work” – June 10

I want to single out the postings of Eric Flint. The latest, at http://www.ericflint.net/index.php/2015/06/09/a-response-to-brad-torgersen/ , is a devastating point-by-point deconstruction and refutation of the latest round of Puppystuff from Brad Torgersen. Flint says what I would have said, if I had the time or the energy, but he says it better than I ever could. ((I will be nominating him for a Hugo too. For Best Fan Writer)). His earlier posts on Puppygate are all worth reading too. He is a voice of reason in a sea of venom.

I will add one point. The emptiness of the Puppy arguments is indicated clearly by how much time they seem to spend in coming up with new insulting terms for those who oppose them. The facts are against them, logic is against them, history is against them, so they go for sneers and mocking names. First it was SJWs. Then CHORFs. The latest is “Puppy-kickers.” Next week, no doubt, they will have something else. Reading all the blogs and comments that Glyer links to from FILE 770 has convinced me that anyone who starts throwing these terms around can pretty much be discounted; you will find no sense in what they say, only sneers and talking points….

Yes, I know that THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER named me “the third most powerful writer in Hollywood” last December. You would be surprised at how little that means. I cannot control what anyone else says or does, or make them stop saying or doing it, be it on the fannish or professional fronts. What I can control is what happens in my books, so I am going to return to that chapter I’ve been writing on THE WINDS OF WINTER now, thank you very much.

 

Matt Wallace

“When We Drive out the Innovators We Are Left Only with the Sad and Rabid” – June 9

I don’t know how you feel about what she wrote about the Puppies and I don’t really give a shit. What is not open for debate is the fact Irene has helped and is helping innovate a major appendage of a major publisher and is one among several pairs of hands shaping a better, more interesting, more diverse future for authors and readers of SFF. That is not only needed, it is necessary. It is absolutely vital. She should be elevated for that, not sacrificed to a small clan of mediocre throwbacks because they can be the most vocal on the fucking internet.

Tor’s position on this, among myriad other ways that position is f’ed up, is one of trading innovation and a wider audience for the utterly narrow; a narrow viewpoint expressed by a narrow demographic of the narrow-minded.

The Puppies keep saying they want change, but what they want is things to go back to the way they were.

That’s what really pisses them off so much.

They want things to stay the same.

They don’t want change.

That excludes folks like Irene Gallo, who are literally changing everything for the better.

And in what creatively-driven industry or form has not changing ever been a good thing?

From a strictly business standpoint, she is worth more than a few hundred anonymous user names in a website comments thread will ever be. Alienating your company’s innovators is simply bad business. From a creative standpoint, her involvement is vital to the future of SFF and SFF publishing.

From a human standpoint, Irene simply deserved better.

Much better.

But my opinions are selfish. I want to be part of the future, not the past. I want to be part of a publisher that innovates and spreads my stories to new corners of the internet AND the world of the real. I want to be part of something new, something exciting, something great.

Irene Gallo is taking me and the rest of the Tor.com authors there, the same way she’s helped so many Tor authors in the past.

I need her.

Treat her the fuck better.

That is all.

 

John Scalzi on Whatever

“A Refresher Course On What I’m Obliged to Write About” – June 10

  1. The Internet doesn’t need me to weigh in on everything. It certainly didn’t in this case — there were more than enough people willing to engage both Irene’s initial comment, and Tor’s letter about it and the aftermath. In the former case, here’s something by Eric Flint; in the latter cases, something by Kameron Hurley and Chuck Wendig. These three are the figurative tip of an iceberg comprised of blog entries, comments, tweets and Facebook posts.

The Internet did not wait for me on this; it doesn’t wait for me on anything. Why are you waiting for me? I mean, thanks, I guess? It’s nice you want to know what I think? But I do hope you recognize the difference between you having an interest in my public thoughts on something — which is great! Thanks! — and thinking I’m obliged to share my thoughts on something in a public manner — which is not great, and which I don’t agree with.

 

Nick Mamatas

“Why Can’t Publishers Make Writers Behave?” – June 10

[This is the closing section of a detailed and informative article.]

Push too far, too hard, too often, and a publisher may just find its headcount is much larger than it believed. And even if not, the publisher still gets to experience the annoyance and hassle of an investigation. If a publisher wants to play the game of “You’ll never eat lunch in this town again!” in public or even in writing, that could lead to the freelancer, do-this-or-you-are-fired email in hand, giving the unemployment-filing trick a whirl.

This is one reason why all those tweets and emails and blog-comment huffing about a publisher doing something or at least saying something about that nasty, awful person whose books they publish are almost never going to get any kind of public hey-there-this-is-evidence response from a publisher.

There are other reasons too—awful people, up to and including criminals and the more blood-soaked breed of politician, write books all the time. There’s a massive tradition of carceral literature in existence. If you’ve attended college, you almost certainly read the writing of some criminals, or even material that was written inside prisons. Don’t think that awful blog posts or sneakity-doo trickery on the Internet will faze many publishers. Think of James Frey, who lied to millions of people, who had to settle a lawsuit because his memoir was wall-to-wall lies, and who was yelled at by Oprah (patron saint of nice people) on her show. Where did he end up? At the head of his own YA fiction sweatshop, and getting movies made from “his” stuff.

Publishing just ain’t about “nice” when it comes to its writers, and that is true in both how it treats writers, and what it can expect from writers.

 

Paul Anthony Shortt

“Tor Books, Inclusiveness Does Not Mean Permitting Prejudice” – June 10

There is an erroneous thought drifting in the wind. This thought tells us that, in order to be truly inclusive, we must not only accept that there are people whose opinions are abhorrent to us, not only allow them to have such thoughts, but also grant them a stage for their thoughts, even if we’re the ones who own the stage. More so, we’re told that it’s our responsibility, as fair, inclusive people, to even sit and listen while these attitudes are shoved in our faces. We’re told me must defend these people from any critic. Not from people trying to stop them, mind, but from people disagreeing with them. When you champion those who would close doors and hoard their power, you are not being inclusive.

When you defend those who rail and abuse minorities from having their opinions challenged, on the grounds of “free speech”, you are not being inclusive. When you shame a woman before the entire world, using your position as a bastion of your industry to reach your audience, just because she had the courage to come out and hold prejudice up for what it is, you are not being inclusive.

Shame on Tom Doherty. He has shown his company as promoting an environment where those who speak up against that which is wrong will be punished.

 

Rick Wright on Mangy Dog

“Morning coffee 2015-06-10 – Jude and Christianized America” – June 10

I went on record (not for the first time) as saying we should not call for Gallo to be fired. Someone disagreed and explained why. I stand by my original position. Just because some teacher or journalist or publisher says something insulting or offensive does not mean we should always want that person to lose her/his job. Disciplined? Sure. Consequences? Probably. But not fired. Not except in the most extreme cases. This is a simple matter of Treat Others As We Would Like Them To Treat Us. If we are sick and tired of conservative or traditional Christians (or whatever) losing their jobs because they express an opinion at odds with the current Zeitgeist then we should not return the disfavor yes?

 

 

David Gerrold on Facebook – June 10

I have begun filling out my Hugo ballot. There were two categories where I voted for individuals who were on the sad puppy slate — because regardless of the slate-mongering, I felt their work was award-worthy. They deserved to be on the ballot.

This is consistent with what I have been saying all along. Read the stories, vote your conscience.

 

Andrew Hickey on Sci-Ence! Justice Leak!

“Hugo Blogging ‘Best’ Fan Writer” – June 10

And so once again I dip into the sewer. The “Best” Fan Writer category in the Hugos is apparently meant to encourage SF fans to write about SF. This year, it seems to be largely made up of people who claim to be professional writers, but who can’t string a sentence together.

 

Spacefaring Kitten on Spacefaring Extradimensional Happy Kittens

“On Time” – June 10

Agenda-setting-wise, they have been very successful, though. Most of the fans who are critical of Sad Puppies (lets call them Happy Kittens for short) have been diverted to waste their precious time and energy on refuting what badly thought out garbage some Rabid or Sad Puppy managed to spit out. Most likely the garbage in question was highly illogical and the Happy Kitten in question had little trouble with demonstrating that.

But the fact is, Happy Kitten energies were wasted on fighting a culture war on a battleground selected by the opposing side when they could instead have been reading, writing, buying, enjoying and celebrating some first rate SFF. The Puppies are opposed to SFF that is diverse or deals with gender or political issues or is technically ambitious. I think there’s a lot that Happy Kittens can do for that sort of SFF, apart from engaging in a debate where nobody is really going to change their views.

 

Rebekah Golden

“2015 Hugo Awards Best Fan Writer: Reviewing A S Green” – June 10

All of [Amanda S.] Green’s post are very well written. Except for the excessive use of acronyms which obviously speak to an in group her writing is very clear.

Only one of the posts she submitted seems to have anything to do with sci-fi/fantasy fandom and that is the one on Star Trek canon. The other two posts have to do with feminism and society in general and maybe conference attendance. Again, I’m looking for someone who is positively enthusiastic about something sci-fi/fantasy related, deep in the details and sharing the love. That is what I am looking for to give someone the label of best fan writer.

 

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“Best Professional Artist Hugo Nominees” – June 10

Carter Reid: No. Sorry, no.  I feel no hesitation in saying that Reid’s art is just not very good.

Nick Greenwood: I’m sorry, no, these just do not work for me. No one should take this as a criticism of their taste; in this area, I have none.

Alan Pollack: Very nice work, but they don’t move me much beyond “very nice.”

Julie Dillon: Very lovely work, that I’d like to see more of.

Kirk DouPonce: This is also lovely work, that I’m pretty sure would make me reach for the book. That’s one of the main purposes of commercial art, right? But not the only purpose of professional science fiction and fantasy art. I’ll have to give serious thought to the choice between DouPonce and Dillon.

 

Font Folly

“Hugo Ballot Reviews: Novellete” – June 10

“The Day the World Turned Upside Down,” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt, translated by Lia Belt. This story was a delight! I was sucked into its very surreal premise immediately. Inexplicably, gravity reverses… at least for solid objects—people, cars, grocery bags, you name it—suddenly start falling into the sky. That this happens shortly after the protagonist is dumped by his girlfriend makes you wonder, for a while, whether or not this is all happening in the protagonist’s head, but I was soon so caught up in is quixotic adventure to somehow keep her pet goldfish alive, transport it to her (by clinging to objects fixed to the ground, and so forth), and effect her rescue.

The misadventures that follow, in which (among other things) the narrator rescues a child clinging to a swing set who longs for her mother who fell into the sky, all slowly build to a climax that is sad, poignant, yet completely fitting. It’s that magical sort of ending that you occasionally encounter where it isn’t what you expected, yet once you reach it, it seems inevitable and the only possible way it could end.

I really, really liked this story! And having read it, I was filled with a renewed hope for the rest of the novellas!

 

Adam-Troy Castro

“Your Approved Safe Story” – June 9

Welcome to your approved safe story.

In this safe story, the characters are guaranteed likeable.

They are guaranteed to make all the most admirable decisions.

Nothing bad happens to them.

Nothing bad is done by them.

There is no evil in the world around them.

They are presented with minor obstacles that challenge them in no way.

Everybody respects everybody else.

Everybody deserves respect from everybody else.

Everybody is enlightened.

You will not have to disapprove of anything they do or say.

Your opinions will not be challenged by anything they do or so…..