The Hammer of Tor 6/19

aka Sad Puppies Strictly Cash

Peter Grant, Vox Day, John Wright, Chris Meadows, Adam, Steve Davidson, Natalie Luhrs, Alexandra Erin, Nick Mamatas, Lela E. Buis, Lawrence Person, Soon Lee, Lis Carey, Melina D, Joe Sherry, and May Tree. (Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editors of the day William Reichard and Rev. Bob.)

Peter Grant on Bayou Renaissance Man

”The Tor boycott is on” – June 19

Regrettably, due to the apparent lack of action by (and the deafening silence from) Tor and Macmillan, the time has come to do as I promised.  I therefore ask all those who believe, as I do, that the recent statement by Irene Gallo, and the pattern of behavior and statements from others at Tor whom I’ve previously named, are completely unacceptable, to join me in refusing to buy any of Tor’s products from now on. I support and endorse what Larry Correia said about this yesterday.

… this is between Tor and its readers who feel insulted, not the Sad Puppies campaign or the people who ran it … To the Sad Puppies supporters, do what you think is right. All I’m asking is that whatever you do, try to be as civil as possible in your disagreements. Stick with the facts.

There’s much more at the link.  (Recommended reading for background and more information.)

I am not a member of, and I do not speak for, either the ‘Sad Puppies’ or ‘Rabid Puppies’ campaigns (although I support the former).  I don’t represent cute puppies, playful puppies, cuddly puppies or hush puppies – only myself.  If you share, in whole or in part, my values and outlook on life, I invite you to join me in this boycott.  Don’t do so just because I, or anyone else, is asking you to do so.  Act on the basis of your own informed conscience and reasoned judgment.

There are those who protest that a boycott of Tor will prevent them buying books they want to read, and/or hurt their favorite authors.  I can only point out that used copies of those books are usually available from many sources soon after publication, often in very good to excellent condition, and sometimes at prices much lower than a new copy.  As for your favorite authors, if you buy a used copy of their book(s), why not send them the money they would have made as a royalty if you’d bought it new?  In fact, given that many royalties are a pittance, why not send them more than that?  Many authors have so-called ‘tip jars’ on their blogs or Web sites, or you can write to them enclosing a check or money order.

There are those who doubt that a boycott can achieve anything.  I can only reply that ‘doing the right thing’ is important in itself.  It’s a matter of honor – and although any mention of honor may be greeted with scorn and derision in these ‘modern’ times, I was raised to value the concept and live by it.  I still do.  I doubt I’m alone in that.

What’s more, in a SF/F market that’s increasingly dominated by independent authors, with cratering sales among mainstream publishers and tight financial margins, even a small boycott may have an impact out of all proportion to its size.  I’m certain, on the basis of support already voiced, that we can achieve a short-term six-figure reduction in Tor’s annual turnover.  All that’ll take is a couple of thousand people not spending their usual $50 per year on Tor books (and many have, until now, spent a lot more than that – for example, see here).  With more supporters and/or bigger spenders involved, the impact will be correspondingly greater.  I believe that over time, as word spreads and more join the boycott, we can grow this into a seven-figure annual impact – particularly when, in markets where we have a strong presence, we start talking to bookstores that carry Tor products.  Given current economic conditions and the present and predicted state of the SF/F market, our boycott may in due course make the difference between a profit and a loss in Tor’s annual trading accounts.

 

Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“Tor boycott announced” – June 19

As you can see, I have been a Tor Books customer since 1986, when I bought a mass market paperback copy of The Edge of Tomorrow, by Isaac Asimov. And because I have considerably more experience of Tor Books and the consistently abusive and unprofessional behavior of its senior employees, I will go a little further than Mr. Grant has. Until Irene Gallo and Patrick Nielsen Hayden are no longer employed by Tor Books or Tor.com, I will not:

  1. Purchase any books published by Tor Books
  2. Read any books published by Tor Books

Given (2), this means that if Ms. Gallo and Mr. Nielsen Hayden are still employed by Tor Books in 2016, I will not nominate any books published by Tor Books for any awards. I encourage those who deem Ms. Gallo’s behavior to be unprofessional and unacceptable to follow Mr. Grant’s lead and join the Tor Books boycott. I am the leader of the Rabid Puppies, I do speak for them, and I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that they will follow my lead in this regard. I am not concerned about whether the boycott is “successful” or not. The simple fact is that if Macmillan is at all interested in the long-term success of Tor Books, it will jettison both Ms Gallo and Mr. Nielsen Hayden on the basis of their disloyalty, their unprofessional behavior, and their repeated violations of the Macmillan Code of Conduct, regardless of what any outside parties may happen to believe. I simply won’t have anything to do with Tor Books as long as those two individuals are employed there.

 

John C. Wright

“Embargo On” – June 19

Since I am Tor author and hitherto have been very proud of my association with that fine and famous imprint, I am fascinated (if mildly aghast) that the Tor management has allowed the situation to degenerate to this point.

Because of a financial conflict of interest on my part, it would be untoward of me to express fulsome support and applause for the boycott, and tell the boycotters their position is the principled and correct stand.

Nor will I point out, because it is obvious, that if you buy my books from Tor, then some part of your precious book-buying dollars goes into the wages of several people at Tor (but by no means all, or even most) who hate both you and me with a sick and soul-destroying hatred, a hatred like a disease that withers the heart and rots the brain.

Nor will I point out, because it should also be obvious, that any Christian gentleman would be willing to forgo a worldly reward of your generous book-buying dollars if he may have your spiritual reward of your loyalty instead. If the gentle reader feels compassion for me in my hour of need, or fears the boycott will harm my finances, I have a tip jar on this page.

So I cannot express support for this boycott.

The people with whom I work, my editor and cover art director, have a perfect right to expect me not to undermine their position, untenable as it may be. If the management wants to set the company policy as one of indifference to our patrons and clients on whom our livelihood depends, or contempt, or enmity, or loathing, that business decision is in their bailiwick.

 

Chris Meadows on Teleread

“Sad Puppies supporters, opponents respectively call for boycott, buying of Tor books”   – June 19

However, even leaving aside that Vox Day certainly does speak for the Rabid Puppies, what Correia and Grant miss is that, as a grass-roots movement (I was going to say “ostensibly grass-roots,” but what the heck, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt), “Sad Puppies” doesn’t really have a true “leadership” to speak for it at this point. Whether you’re an official “member” or not, if you identify with the movement, you’re going to be identified with the movement, especially by the movement’s opponents.

Make a lot of noise in support of Sad Puppy goals, and voila, you’re a Sad Puppy, and anything you do reflects on them. And likewise, anything the rest of them do reflects on you—which is why the Puppies movement as a whole is, rightly or wrongly, often tarred with the black brush that most accurately applies only to Vox Day and others like him. (Indeed, it’s why a lot of people use “Sad Puppies” as a shorthand to refer to both the Sad and Rabid Puppies.) And it’s why anti-Puppies (some have suggested the term “Happy Kittens”) feel justified in calling this a “Sad Puppies” boycott.

 

Adam on The Noisy Rogue

“The Boycott of Tor Books” – June 19

Even John C Wright, one of Tor’s own published writers, is unable to express support for Tor in this situation. Make your own minds up, dear readers. But rest assured that the culture wars have not been lost. They were only originally winning in the first place because our side couldn’t be bothered turning up. Now it’s on.

 

Steve Davidson on Amazing Stories

“Today is Buy From Tor Day” – June 19

Just a reminder that if you would like to express support for Irene Gallo, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Moshe Feder and TOR books, today is the day to go out and buy a TOR book.

You can learn a bit more about this here.

 

Peter Grant on Bayou Renaissance Man

“Moshe Feder doubles down (again) on the lies” – June 19

Friends, I give you Moshe Feder on Facebook earlier today:

Feder 2015-06-19 Facebook screen capture

….I’m still not going to call for the resignation or dismissal of any of the Tor employees I’ve named.  Nevertheless, if I needed any more justification for why I’m boycotting Tor, Mr. Feder has provided it.  I suppose I should thank him for that – and if he wishes to call me an ‘idiot’, well, I’ve been called a lot worse than that in my time.  Furthermore, for all Mr. Feder’s vitriol directed against him, he’s just made Vox Day look like a sensible, reasonable participant in this debate.  Vox might want to thank him, too . . .

 

 

 

 

Lela E. Buis

“Adding fuel to the flames” – June 19

What ever happened to that discussion about the Hugos?

What Hugos?

By this time, it should be fairly clear that the current debacle has nothing to do with the Hugo Awards. It isn’t really about the liberal versus conservative content of a few Tor books, either. I concede that there may be an ideological component to the attack. If Day is a a “fundamentalist Southern Baptist,” as he has been characterized, then it is likely that he’s offended by liberal viewpoints in general. Still, that’s no reason to go after Tor in particular. Publication of LGBTQ novels, for example, has been increasing across all major publishers in the last few years. Tor has no franchise on liberalism.

That makes it more likely that Day has launched a personal vendetta undercover of the conflict over the Hugo Awards. He has moved from naming Irene Gallo to Moshe Feder to Patrick Nielsen Hayden in the last few days. Most likely this is his actual target. Hayden is the man quoted in news reports announcing John Scalzi’s recent $3.4 million contract with Tor.

It’s a vendetta, folks. Day is pursuing a long-running feud with John Scalzi. That means that anyone who supports Day’s flame war by responding to him is only perpetuating the problem. Tor has got it right. It’s time to hunker down and wait him out.

 

Lawrence Person on Battleswarm Blog

“Sad Puppies Redux (Or Why That Tor Boycott Won’t Work)” – June 19

Since then, a few people on Twitter have been calling for a boycott of Tor Books over the incident. About this I would just like to make a few points:

  • Though the editorial stuff does lean toward the SJW side, plenty of conservative authors are published by Tor.
  • An ad hoc, Twitter-organized boycott is deeply unlikely to work. Given the way book sales are tracked, it’s unlikely the financial effects of any boycott would stand out from sales figures more than background noise. Most SF readers probably aren’t even active on Twitter, and even fewer have been following every twist and turn of the Sad Puppy Saga.
  • Given that Tor is a very small part of the Bertelsmann international conglomerate, chances are even less likely that that any boycott would be effective or even noticed.
  • Larry Correia has categorically stated that the Sad Puppies are not calling for any boycotts. He also notes, as he invariably does, “All I’m asking is that whatever you do, try to be as civil as possible in your disagreements.”

So put me down in the category of thinking a boycott is foolish, pointless and counterproductive.

One big point on the Sad Puppies campaign: Most recent domestic Worldcons have topped out in the 4,000-6,000 members range. I recently bought a Supporting Membership in Sasquan, and my membership number was in the 9,000s. This tends to indicate that the Hugos have indeed become a test of strength in the culture wars.

 

 

 

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“Sucker Punch, by Eric S. Raymond” – June 19

Eric S. Raymond is a 2015 nominee for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. This is a perfectly competently written MilSF…vignette. It’s not a story. It describes a couple of important and unfortunate advances in military weapons and tactics, and presents the resulting dilemma quite poignantly.

 

Joe Sherry on Adventures In Reading

“Thoughts on the Hugo Award Nominees: Novella” – June 19

….The big surprise in this category, at least for me, was Tom Kratman’s Big Boys Don’t Cry. I had expected a very aggressive narrative designed to offend those of a more liberal persuasion, but what I got was a surprisingly graceful story of a dying sentient tank. That may sound weird, but given advancement in artificial intelligence and this being a science fiction story, it works. It works remarkably well, especially the deeper Kratman brings the story into Magnolia’s history.  Yes, there are also some clumsier jabs at how military tactics have been handled by those not committed to the mission or by those who don’t fully understand what it takes to win, and politicians get the sharp end of the stick in that regard (rightly so, in some cases).

If all of Arlan Andrews’ “Flow” was as successful as the second half of the story, I might have been able to move it up another space on my ballot, but unfortunately the beginning of the story was something of a chore to push through. The primitive ice world (a partially frozen post apocalyptic Earth) was tough to take, less because of the writing and more because of what I was wanted / was getting from the story. I’ll willingly take the hit that part of this is on me, but I often bounce off of fiction dealing with significantly more primitive Earth cultures unless the writing / storytelling can just grab a hold of me and make me care about the characters and / or the setting. “Flow” didn’t…until it did, midway through as Rist began to discover more of the world and realized that what his people taught may not be the way things actually work. I’m now curious to find “Thaw”, a previous story in this setting, and move on to “Fall”, the next in the setting.  I’d like to see where Andrews is taking this.

My Vote

1. “Pale Realms of Shade”
2. Big Boys Don’t Cry
3. “Flow”
4. “The Plural of Helen of Troy”
5. No Award
6. One Bright Star to Guide Them

 

Melina D on Subversive Reader

“Hugos 2015 Reading: Short Story” – June 19

Without too much further procrastination, it’s onto the stories. This was another full puppy-supported slate, so – to put it mildly – my expectations of good writing were low. I was pleasantly surprised by one story, meh over a couple of others and (predictably) was ready to set a thousand fires to another.

 

May Tree in a comment on File 770 – June 18

(The original is here if you don’t know it.) The original inspiration for looking at this source material was that “Voxie” rhymes with “Roxie.”

[Excerpt is only one-third of the whole parody.]

[PUPS] Hah! They had it coming! They had it coming! They took a genre in its prime And then they used it And they abused it We’ll slate the Hugos – It’s not a crime!

[SARAH] Now, I’m typing on my blog post, carvin’ up the SJWs for the Puppies, minding my own business, in storms Mike Glyer, in a jealous rage. “You’re a hydrophobe!” he says. He was crazy and he kept posting, “You’re a hydrophobe!” And then he ran into my axiom. He ran into my axiom ten times!

[PUPS] If you’d have been there If you’d have read it I betcha you would have thought the same!

[JULIETTE] Oenq, V nz fbeel, ohg vs lbh jvyy or ynoryvat zr nf n fnq chccl V jvyy unir gb nfx lbh gb jvguqenj zr sebz lbhe yvfg. Lbh qvq abg fnl lbh jrer tbvat gb or pnyyvat vg gur Fnq Chccvrf yvfg. V srry yvxr lbh jrer zvfercerfragvat vg. V’z unccl gb or bar bs lbhe Uhtb erpbzzraqngvbaf. Guvf vf qvssrerag.

[BRAD] Yeah, but will you be on my slate?

[JULIETTE] UH UH, not Puppy!

[LARRY] My buddy Brad and I had this Sad Puppy act, and my “devil” Voxie traveled around with us. Now, for the most recent year in our slate, we nommed 20 of Brad’s buddies in a row. One, two, three, four, five…Kratman, Freer, Antonelli, Reid, one right after the other. Well, this one night we were ranting about liberals, the three of us, boozing and having a few laughs, and we run out of ice. So I go out to get some. I come back, open the door, and there’s Brad and Voxie nomming Number Seventeen – “Wisdom From My Internet.” Well, I was in such a state of shock, I completely blacked out. I can’t remember a thing. It wasn’t until later, when I was washing the toner off my hands, I even knew they were Rabid.

[PUPS] They had it coming! They had it coming! Ann Leckie does her genders wrong! I didn’t read her! But if I read her I wouldn’t know which “she” has a schlong!

 

Demon with a Glass Hound 5/30

aka The Pup Who Circumnavigated Hugoland In A Slate Of His Own Making

The roundup includes Lela E. Buis, Samantha Noll, David Gerrold, Max Florschutz, Vox Day, Alexandra Erin, Jim McCoy, David Mack, Wei Ming Kam, Lis Carey, Pluviann, Chad Orzel, Bonnie McDaniel, Ursula Vernon, May Tree, Laurie Mann and less identifiable others. (Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editors of the day Jim Henley and Alexandra Erin. Update: In case you’re keeping score at home, the subtitle is similar to one previously contributed by Dawn Sabados, but not identical.)

Lela E. Buis

“SJWs in space” – May 30

The Puppies debate has some interesting facets, and it’s also an unusual opportunity to observe a little human behavior. One of the main accusations of the Puppies’ spokesmen Theodore Beale (aka Vox Day), Brad Torgersen and Larry Correia is that SF&F has been taken over by social justice warriors (aka SJW) who are pushing a liberal and literary agenda while forcing out old fashioned, right-leaning SF&F. I’ve just been reading about social justice, as it turns out. According to Professor Michael Reisch the definition of social justice is fairly open to question. This mutability means that different groups tend to co-opt the activist strategy and organize to advance their own definition of what social justice really is. Clearly, the Puppies have taken on the mantle and have now become social justice warriors, the very thing they have been loving to hate.

 

Samantha Noll on Dispatches from the Philosophy of Science Association’s Women’s Caucus

“A War of Words and Ideas: Philosophy, Science Fiction, and the Hugo Award Controversy” – May 30

So why is this important for society in general and for philosophers of science in particular? The answer to this question may become clearer when we reflect on why fringe groups are escalating their campaigns in science-fiction and other genres aimed at disenfranchising and silencing entire groups of people. As Kameron Hurley of The Atlantic argues “the truth is that our wars of words and narrative matter, especially those that tell us what sorts of possible futures we can build—and groups like Gamergate, Sad Puppies, and Rabid Puppies understand this.” During a time where the United States is becoming ever more diverse and citizens’ views ever more liberal, the push to suppress this trend is becoming ever more rabid, to appropriately apply Beale’s terminology. Barring those writing from diverse standpoints from receiving formal recognition helps to limit the exposure of these works and thus silences the authors. This is one of the reasons why it is important for those living in a democratic and multicultural society to ensure that those like Beale and Correia are not successful.

 

David Gerrold on Facebook – May 29

Worldcons, as we know them, have been around since 1939. Hugos have been awarded since 1953

Thousands of people have invested an enormous amount of time and energy into keeping the traditions of the World Science Fiction Convention going. Thousands have invested an enormous amount of time and energy in developing an award system designed to acknowledge excellence in the craft.

No award system is perfect — but it’s hard to argue with a system that has recognized the excellence of Dune, Left Hand Of Darkness, Starship Troopers, Ringworld, The Stars My Destination, Dragonflight, Stand On Zanzibar, Flowers For Algernon, City On The Edge Of Forever, Aye And Gomorrah, Blink, and other works that not only represent the best of the year — they also redefine what’s possible in the genre.

To some extent, there is an element of popularity in the voting. To some extent, there is an element of promotion by publishers and authors. To a larger extent, the problem with the Hugos is that the field has gotten so big and so sprawling that it’s impossible for any fan to be as widely read as in the past. This is why recommended reading lists are a great help.

There’s also a tradition of respect in fandom.

 

David Gerrold on Facebook – May 29

Some people have advocated going to Amazon and Goodreads and other sites to post one-star reviews of works by authors whose views they oppose.

Please, don’t do it.

It’s a failure of integrity.

If you’ve read the work, then post your honest opinion, good or bad. But punishing an author by down-voting his/her work — that’s not fair to the author, to the work, or to readers who are looking for useful reviews.

If you’re claiming to be one of the good guys, you gotta act like it.

 

Max Florschutz on Unusual Things

“I’m Not a Fan of Science-Fiction and Fantasy?” – May 30

I may not be a Science-Fiction and Fantasy fan.

Which is shocking. I always thought I was one. But no, according to a lot of these posts and comments I’m seeing and reading, I am not a “fan.” Or, to use the terms that some of the insulars have started to use, I am not a “trufan,” a term which, quite honestly, reminds me quite a bit of the ridiculous amount of self-inflicted (and mostly declarative) segregation in the gaming community between the “PC Master Race” and the “Console Gaming Peasants.” The console gamers aren’t really gamers, you see. They’re just casuals.

 

Caitlin on Devourer of Words

“Why I am voting for the Hugo Awards this year” – May 30

In general, I am disappointed that a small number of people think they have the right to dictate what the genres of sci-fi and fantasy consist of. In particular, people like Vox Day make me physically ill, and I don’t want promising new authors with awesome new ideas to leave the genre because of them. Vox Day in particular deserves to be defended against: this is a guy who doesn’t believe women should be allowed to vote…

 

 Vox Day onVox Popoli

“Eric Flint, SJW”

You know, we’ve wondered who was going to the new Hitler ever since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad proved to be such a washout in that regard. My money was on Putin, so I had absolutely no idea it would turn out to be me. Someone get Hugo Boss on the line, we’re going to need some snappy new outfits for the VFM, stat! Let’s address the issues as Mr. Flint, real deal SJW, puts them forth.

  1. I don’t share Hitler’s views on race, as I have a basic grasp of human genetics and I am neither a eugenicist nor an Aryan supremacist.
  2. On the subject of Jews, I am a Zionist who edits and publishes the eminent Israeli military historian Dr. Martin van Creveld.
  3. I’m not opposed to women learning to read and write. I am opposed to women being encouraged to obtain advanced degrees in the place of husbands and children. Unlike Mr. Flint, I can do the demographic math.
  4. I don’t support honor killings. I never have.
  5. I don’t hide what I really believe. Mr. Flint claims to know what I really believe without me ever putting it into words because, and I quote, “peekaboo”. If anyone is “a fucking clown” here, it is observably Mr. Flint.
  6. I’m not trying to win Hugo Awards. I don’t care about winning awards.
  7. I have no delusions of grandeur. I’m not the one who keeps running to The Guardian, Entertainment Weekly, The New Zealand Herald, NPR, Popular Science, or the Wall Street Journal to talk about me. I haven’t issued a single press release or called a single member of the media about the Hugo Awards or anything else, for that matter.
  8. Western civilization is in peril. In large part thanks to idiots like Mr. Flint.
  9. I don’t like to portray myself with a flaming sword. That was the brainchild of the Star Tribune photographer who was taking pictures of me for a story the paper was doing. Apparently he was onto something, as it’s an image many people have remembered….

 

Alexandra Erin on Blue Author Is About To Write

“How big is the doghouse?” – May 30

So, Kate Paulk has been tapped as the standard-bearer of next year’s Sad Puppies campaign. She has declared that next year’s Hugo ballot-stuffing initiative will be done in a transparent and democratic manner. This does not fill one with confidence, since Brad Torgersen has made the same claims about this year’s ballot-stuffing initiative.

It also needs to be pointed out that it hardly matters who leads the Sad Puppies campaign or what they do or how they do it, as this year’s otherwise failed campaign only managed to achieve accidental relevance through the fact that the successful Rabid Puppies campaign largely copied and pasted their agenda.

With all that in mind, I have to say that I’m interested in Kate Paulk’s post about what she considers to be Hugo-worthy work only as an academic matter. If the list she assembles using it winds up being the ballot, it will likely be only because someone truly nasty as well as small-minded got behind her and started shoving, as happened this year.

 

Jim McCoy on Jimbos Awesome SFF Book and Movie Reviews

“Kate Paulk’s ConVent” – May 30

Before I get too far into the book, I wanted to mention Kate’s involvement with the Sad Puppies. She is next year’s evil, evil, evil ringleader. If you support evil, mean people who evilly think that you should evilly vote for good fiction written by evil people who evilly put story over message (because they’re evil) she’s worth supporting. Oh, and her book also kicks ass, but we’ll get to that in a minute. I just wanted to take a minute to give evil praise to Her Evilness, The Duchess of Snark. Does that make me evil? Probably. I’m OK with that. Now, onto the book.

 

Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“The Ones Who Walk Away from Fandom” – May 30

It’s more than a little amusing. And those who walk away are the wise ones, because, as it has been sung:

Never kick a dog
Because it’s just a pup
You’d better run for cover when the pup grows up!

 

 

Wei Ming Kam on Fantasy Faction

“The pros and cons of the voting processes behind major SFF awards: Part 2” – May 31

This year, there is reportedly a massive upsurge in people buying supporting memberships of Sasquan, so basically people want to vote in the awards but have no interest in going to the con. Normally, the number of people who vote in the awards is small, so it’s reasonable to say that the upsurge is a result of the resentful manchildren making this year’s awards political. SADFACE. SAD SASQUATCH SADFACE.

 

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“The Revenge of Hump Day–Hugo Nominated Best Fanzine” – May 31

It’s all perfectly competently and clearly written. I’m sure it’s well-received by its intended audience. On the other hand, I don’t see any exceptional excellence.

 

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“Sex Criminals Volume 1:One Weird Trick (Sex Criminals #1-5), by Matt Fraction (writer) Chip Zdarsky (artist)” – May 30

This one I did not expect to like. I got a surprise. It’s intelligent, thoughtful, does some really interesting things, and Suzie, as an adult, is a librarian, and a well-done librarian is always a win for me, Yes, it’s self-indulgent. So sue me.

 

Pluviann on The Kingfishers Nest

“On a Spiritual Plain – Lou Antonelli” – May 30

Imagine a great caravan of giant aliens travelling across a bleak and open plain, above them the most glorious auroral display fills the sky, and travelling with them is a human chaplain on a segway enclosed by faraday cage. This image comes from Lou Antonelli’s ‘On a Spiritual Plain’ and it deserves fanart. It’s the best part of the short story, and the idea of a faraday segway in particular really tickled me.

 

Award-Winning Reading

“Best Fan Artist” – May 28

Fun fact: I almost voted No Award for this entire category. Now I’m voting for Elizabeth Leggett and No Award for everything else. I went looking at each nominees website to make sure that I was looking at everything that is award eligible. Ninni Aalto, Brad W. Foster and Steve Stiles all have similar styles (to my very untrained eye) that just does not appeal to me. Add in that I didn’t find the subject matter that interesting, and there is no reason for me to vote for any of them. I like that Spring Schoenhuth’s work consists mostly of jewelry. I don’t really recognize most of it though, and again the style doesn’t really appeal to me, so I won’t vote for her.

Award Winning Reading

“Totaled by Kary English” – May 29

There is some science talk in this story, but it was unobtrusive and easy to understand. It was just enough to give the story weight without pulling attention away from the storyline. The writing is beautiful. Descriptive, but concise. It really drew me into the story in a way that I was not expecting.

 

Award-Winning Reading

“On a Spiritual Plain by Lou Antonelli” – May 28

I liked the writing style. Not overly wordy but descriptive enough to ground the reader. I do also like that the story made me confront the idea that I decided what the story was about when I was halfway through and then got mad when it didn’t follow like I thought it should. While I’m a bear to be around when that happens, I like to be reminded that authors can do whatever they please without catering to my idea of what it should be.

Chad Orzel on Uncertain Principles

“Hugo Reading: Not-Novels” – May 30

In the short fiction categories, two of the longer nominees were weirdly incomplete. “Flow” by Arlan Andrews and “Championship B’Tok” by Edward Lerner are perfectly fine, but just… stop. I wouldn’t object to reading more in either setting, say if these were the introductory chapters of longer novels, but as self-contained stories, they’re kind of lacking.

“The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale” by Rajnar Vajra is a complete alien-contact story, and good enough in a Heinlein-pastiche sort of vein. It’s maybe a little shaggy, but it’s enjoyable enough. “The Day the World Turned Upside Down” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt is kind of stupid and pointless, featuring a world where gravity literally reverses itself after the narrator gets dumped. I’m not sure it’s all that much more stupid and pointless than last year’s “The Water That Falls On You From Nowhere,” though, and that ended up winning, so…

“A Single Samurai” by Steven Diamond is built around the nice image of a samurai climbing up the back of a mountain-sized monster in an attempt to kill it, but doesn’t quite pay off, and the bits where the narrator explains samurai stuff were kind of tedious. “Totaled” by Kary English may have been the best of the lot, a brain-in-a-vat story that had some genuine emotional content.

I don’t think any of these are brilliant, but I didn’t find any of them strikingly awful, either (“The Day The World Turned Upside Down” comes closest, but remained at “sigh heavily but keep reading” rather than “close the file and move on to the next thing”). I suspect there were probably better stories out there, but I say that almost every year that I read the short-fiction nominees, so…

 

Adult Onset Atheist

“Don’t crush THAT Hugo, hand me the SNARL” – May 30

Decades later I would find out that “Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers” did not barely lose out to “No Award”, and that “Blows Against the Empire “ by Jefferson Starship had actually come in second place. I know that the Jefferson Starship supergroup that put out “Blows Against the Empire” was not really the same band that “Built This City” in  1985 (“Worst song of the 80s” by a Rolling Stone Reader’s poll), but the fact that they had the same name, and several of the same members, makes me think it was better that “No Award” won in that year. In addition to the dubious distinctions of most “No Award” winners, and for propelling films like “Flesh Gordon” (nominated 1975) to prominence, the Best Dramatic Presentation has been a place where stories too far ahead of their time could be reconsidered in a digested visual format some of the members of fandom could better relate to.

 

Bonnie McDaniel on Red Headed Femme

“The Hugo Project: ‘Wisdom From My Internet’” – May 30

I picked “Wisdom From My Internet” to review first, mainly to see if all the rumblings I’ve heard about it are true, and it is indeed the worst thing to disgrace the ballot in decades.

May I be perfectly frank for a moment?

Great Cthulhu, kill me now.

What the hell is this shit?

I really don’t want to hurt Michael Z. Williamson’s feelings, but I’m afraid it’s going to be unavoidable.

 

 

May Tree in a comment on File 770 – May 29

Voting for Noms On a Summer Evening

Whose noms these are I think I know.
His blog is quite a silly show;
He will not see me stopping here
His lousy choices to forego.

My Siamese Cat must think it queer
To stop without a Hugo near
But I must set aside this slate
And vote again another year.

These stories, at best second-rate,
Were stuffed by Pups (and GamerGate?!)
The rockets they would try to sweep
Their wounded egos to inflate.

The Puppy Poop is much too deep,
My sanity I’ll have to keep,
And “No Award” before I sleep,
And “No Award” before I sleep.

 

Laurie Mann on Facebook – May 30

This is not a joke. This group, Snarky Puppy, is playing in the INB Theater 3 months after the Hugo Awards are presented in the same building.  http://www.inbpac.com/event.php?eventID=270

Snarky Puppy