Pixel Scroll 1/26/16 Things Scroll Apart, The Pixel Cannot Hold

(1) MILLIONS STAYED HOME. The Force Awakens made plenty of money in China, but it did not blow up the way it did in the U.S. Inverse ponders “Why Chinese Audiences Skipped The Force Awakens”. BEWARE SPOILERS.

But Zhen, also the director of NYU’s Asian Film and Media Initiative, says there’s another simple reason why Star Wars isn’t as successful in China.

“Chinese audiences are not as familiar with the series and franchise as a whole,” she says. “There is much less knowledge of it or a cult following, but the curiosity is there.”

It makes perfect sense. The Chinese market is blooming so quickly that it’s easy to forget it’s Hollywood’s youngest sibling. The first Star Wars film to be released in China was The Phantom Menace in 1999, making both the rapid proliferation of Hollywood blockbusters in China in recent years impressive, but also the extreme newness of Star Wars as a phenomenon that much more apparent.

China’s primary moviegoing audience is made up of 17-to-31 year-olds who didn’t get the same embedded, multi-generational cultural significance as American audiences that came of age when Star Wars debuted in 1977.

(2) EYE CANDY. Terra Utopische Romane 1957-68 on the Retro-Futurism LiveJournal.

“These old covers are like candy,” says Will R. And Planet X makes an appearance.

(3) FANDOM’S CLOSER. A pitcher for the Oakland Athletics doubles as a trivia maven — “Watch Sean Doolittle answer your deepest, most important Star Wars Questions”. Cut4 warns there could be SPOILERS – at least there could be if any of the stuff he says is true.

(4) GAME APP. In “Super Barista: Manage your own coffee shop and alien clientele in space”.

If you’re a nerd like us, chances are you also love coffee. Those things tend to go hand-in-hand, and today’s app combines coffee nerdiness with space action gaming nerdiness, and it’s called Super Barista.

The premise behind Super Barista is that you serve a very specific, yet broad clientele in your coffee shop. The trick is, that coffee shop is set in space, and your clientele is an assortment of strange, interesting, and sometimes dangerous alien beings. Your shop will take you across the galaxy to five different unique planets where you’ll have to manage your resources, build your staff and crew, and serve your delicious drinks in a timely and efficient manner.

(5) IN MEMORIAM. Steven H Silver has posted his annual In Memoriam list at SF Site.

(6) PEN HONORS ROWLING. “PEN America to Honor J.K. Rowling, Hachette CEO Michael Pietsch at Annual Literary Gala”.

Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling will receive the 2016 PEN/Allen Foundation Literary Service Award at PEN America’s annual Literary Gala on May 16 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. PEN America, the country’s largest writer-driven free expression advocacy organization, presents the award annual to a critically acclaimed author whose work embodies its mission to oppose repression in any form and to champion the best of humanity….

Since her rise from single mother to literary superstar, J.K. Rowling has used her talents and stature as a writer to fight inequality on both a local and global level. Her charitable trust, Volant, supports causes in the United Kingdom and abroad that alleviate social exclusion, with particular emphasis on women and children. In 2005 she founded Lumos, a nonprofit organization that works to help eight million children institutionalized around the world regain their right to a family life. Herself the frequent object of censorship in schools and libraries across the globe, as well as online targeting, Rowling has emerged as a vocal proponent of free expression and access to literature and ideas for children as well as incarcerated people, the learning -disables, and women and girls worldwide….

(7) MORE ON FANFIC. Sharrukin at Sharrukin’s Palace tells what he finds helpful about writing fanfic. His is set in the universe of the Mass Effect game.

First advantage of writing fan-fiction: You will immediately start to build an audience, and get feedback for your work.

By the end of that month, I had posted thirteen chapters, about 40,000 words of new material, and I was still going strong. I finished that entire first novel in a little over four months.

Memoirs was followed by a second novel, composed of substantially original work since most of it was set during a period when Liara and Shepard are not on stage together. I took the opportunity to flesh out Liara’s character arc, introduce a bunch of new supporting characters, and start patching the big plot holes I saw in the games. By the time I got to my novelization of the third game, I was working almost entirely without a net, openly rewriting the story from the ground up.

The experience was tremendously valuable. I learned more about my craft from writing a fan-fiction trilogy than I had learned in decades of on-again, off-again dabbling. I even broke my long-standing aversion to the shorter forms, writing several short stories and a novella along the way.

Some pro authors are a little disdainful of fan-fiction. I believe George R. R. Martin has compared it to paint-by-numbers, something that doesn’t rank with original work as a creative endeavor. I’m not going to dispute that. There are several reasons why I’m working hard now to move away from fan-fiction, and one of them is the desire to create something worthwhile that’s really mine. But as an exercise in improving your craft so that you can survive as a genre author, there’s a lot to recommend it.

You won’t have to do all the work yourself. The source material provides a framework on which you can build and experiment. Your audience will already be familiar with it. Still, you will have to work on the mechanics: prose style, description, exposition, dialogue, point of view, characterization and voice. You will end up taking the original material apart and analyzing it, seeing what worked and what didn’t, in the process of putting together your own version. You will get practice in the simple art of sitting down and cranking out word count, week after week, so that your audience doesn’t get bored and wander away.

(7) EBOOK PRICING. Amanda S. Green compares print book and ebook pricing in “Publishers, You Need To Hear This” at Mad Genius Club.

So, is there a trend — or possibly a clue — here as to why e-book sales for the Big 5 are leveling off?

Some folks were having this discussion yesterday in a private FB group I belong to. The consensus among those taking part in the discussion was that the price point publishers were charging, especially for newly released titles, was more than they were willing to pay. Not just for e-books but for hard covers as well. Those who aren’t big fans of  e-books lamented the fact they were turning to used bookstores to buy those hard cover titles they wanted. Not because they were paying less for the book but because they knew authors don’t receive royalties for those sales.

Note, they weren’t worried about the publishers.

And that is something the Big 5 needs to realize. The reading public is starting to look at the prices they pay for their books — whether they are print or digital — and wonder why the prices are so high. They are following their favorite authors, many of whom write for publishers that aren’t the Big 5 or who are indies, and they are paying attention to what the authors are saying. They understand that the life of the writer is closer to struggling author working in a coffee shop than it is to Castle. They are beginning to realize that the majority of the money they pay for that book, the vast majority of it, goes not to the person who created it but to the corporation what distributed it.

(8) STRACZYNSKI INTERVIEW. Lightspeed Magazine has a transcription of the J. Michael Straczynski interview that was originally part of WIRED’s Geeks Guide to the Galaxy podcast.

I was a street rat, had grown up a street rat, I come from nothing, my family has no connection to literature or writing, and in his introductions I found a kindred spirit. Harlan Ellison was a street rat. He had run with gangs; he was considered trouble. I remembered that in one of his introductions, he had given his phone number. “I wonder if that’s real,” thought I, so I dialed the number and waited and it began to ring. There was a click and I heard, “Yeah?”

“Is this Har-har-har-lan Ellison?” says I.

“Yeah, what do you want?”

“My-my-my-my name is Joe,” I say, stammering through the whole thing, “And I’m a writer and my stuff isn’t selling and I thought you might have some advice.” Which is the stupidest thing to ask any writer; it’s like saying to someone, “What are you doing to my wife?” There is no good answer to that question.

So he says, “All right. Here’s what you do: If it’s not selling, it’s shit. My advice to you? Stop writing shit.”

“. . .Thank you, Mr. Ellison.” Years later, I got to LA and we met in bits and pieces and eventually we became friends, and I finally reminded him of that conversation. And he said, “Were you offended?” And I said, “Had you been wrong, I would’ve been offended.” But he wasn’t.

(9) SANDIFER WONDERS ALOUD. It’s funny that some people will think Phil Sandifer was the first person to ask this question, in “An Open Letter to Sad Puppies IV”.

As the science fiction community mutters “I thought MidAmericon said nominations would open in early January” with baited breath, I note that certain fascist pricks have begun to ramp up their performative chortling. So I figured “why not write a mildly trolling open letter to someone else entirely?”

Ms. Paulk et al:

I note with some bemusement your efforts to reform the Sad Puppies movement from its oft-criticized 2015 form, stripping away its overtly conservative trappings, widening it to a ten-item recommendation list, et cetera. By and large, I have to admit, these seem like, if not strictly speaking good things, at least less bad things. So thank you for your efforts to be less odious than your predecessors. It’s genuinely appreciated. That said, there’s one rather large issue that you don’t seem to have addressed, and that I’d like to raise.

Simply put, why are you doing this?

(10) GRRM RESPONDS. For the record, here’s how George R.R. Martin answered John C. Wright’s latest overture.

I agree, death has a way of putting life’s other trials and triumphs in perspective. My own political and social views are very much at odds with yours, Mr. Wright, and our views on literary matters, especially as regards science fiction and fantasy, are far apart as well. But I have always believed that science fiction has room for all, and I am pretty sure that David Hartwell believed that as well. If we want to heal the wounds our community suffered last year, all of us need to stop arguing about the things that divide us, and talk instead about the things that unite us… as writers, as fans, as human beings. Our grief in David’s passing is one of those things. Everyone who ever knew him or worked with him will miss him, I do not doubt. So thank you for your note, and your heartfelt and compassionate words about David.

(11) A DIFFERENT WRIGHT. The home of the late Jack Larson – “Jimmy Olsen” on the original Superman TV series – is up for sale.

Frank Lloyd Wright‘s George Sturges House, owned by actor and playwright Jack Larson, will be auctioned on 21 February, 2016, for an estimated $2.5 million to $3 million. It is among 75 lots from the estate owned by Larson to be sold after the actor passed away in September. The residence, designed in 1939, was the first Usonian house on the West Coast and was acquired by Jack Larson and Jim Bridges in 1967.

(12) DON’T PANIC. Thug Notes has done a summary and analysis of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Got to love the moment our narrator explains, “But Dude don’t know what the question is!”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, Will R., and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contrbuting editor of the day Ian P.]

Pixel Scroll 9/3 The Nine Billion Noms of Dog

(1) Digg has the best space images from the month of August. They are beauties.

As we tediously while away our days down here on Earth, satellites are zooming through space, snapping incredible pictures of Earth, the solar system and outer space. Here are the highlights from August.

(2) Answer just 4 questions, and the William Shakespeare’s Star Wars Sonnet Generator will create a unique 14-line love sonnet just for you!

What Is Lovely As A Summer Slate

Based on the William Shakespeare Star Wars series by Ian Doescher

When sorely press’d by Sith-like enemy,
I think on thee, and soon have no regret.
My heart is lock’d, yet thou dost hold the key,
Our lives are join’d in lovers’ sweet duet.
Let us unto Naboo, its shores of green,
There meet the call of passion at our best.
If thou wert droid, I’d love thee, though machine
If thou would claim mine heart, I’ll not protest.
Love, like a lightsaber, one’s heart can slay,
Love is the new-grown fruit sprung from the heart,
Love plunges one headlong into the fray,
Love is the canvas, passion is the art.
Let rivals come, who chase me at the rear,
Thou hast e’er been my solace, dear.

(3) Radio Times learned nothing from Christopher Eccleston about Doctor Who in a recent interview.

When asked if he’d been watching his successor Peter Capaldi onscreen recently, Christopher Eccleston replied in the negative – in a pretty big way.

“I never watched Doctor Who when I was a child,” he retorted. “I never watched MYSELF as Doctor Who!”

(4) Pat Cadigan on Facebook

After recent events in which Bryan Thomas Schmidt did a solid for both me and everyone else working on MACII, I’ve had some thoughts:

Whatever else happens on social media, on websites, in review columns, on Amazon, or anywhere else, I want a kinder, gentler worldcon.

Worldon is our annual gathering of the clans, not a field of combat. We go there to enjoy ourselves and to be among friends. For a few days, we get to hang out on Planet Science Fiction/Fantasy.

Worldcon is *not* a battlefield.

This is not to say that those with opposing perspectives can’t have a meaningful, even spirited dialog. But there’s a big difference between a heated discussion between people who feel strongly about their respective positions and gladiatorial combat in the Colisseum for the lurid amusement of people who didn’t even bother to show up and in fact never intended to.

I don’t care what your point of view is; I don’t even care if you don’t like *me*––you’re welcome at MACII and I will do nothing to make you feel like you aren’t. But worldcon isn’t a passive, static thing like a department store. Worldcon is interactive (worldcon was interactive before it was fashionable)––what you get out of if, for the most part, is what you put into it. If you go to the panels, check out the dealers’ room and the art show, meet some writers or artists or other pros at kaffeeklatsches, literary beers, or signings, go to the bid parties, and make a little effort to meet new people, you’ll have a great time…

(5) Can you tell this book by the cover?

(6) Tom Knighton gives his “Thoughts on Sad Puppies 4”.

For most people, the idea of tens of thousands voting for the Hugos should make you giddy.  For us, it has added benefits of rendering any small group influence on the awards non-existent.  No, our favorites may not win, but you know what?  That’s life.  What we want to see win is the stuff the actual fan–the people that [George R.R.] Martin may dismiss but who buy books by the truckload–actually reads.

While Martin doesn’t think it will add to the prestige of the award, more fans voting on them will do one thing from my perspective.  We’ll start to see some books win that actually look interesting and then deliver on the inside.  With the exception of Three Body Problem (which I haven’t read yet, so I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt), that hasn’t been the default position of the Hugos in some time.

(7) Spacefaring Kitten on Spacefaring, Extradimensional Happy Kittens – “My first (seven) reactions to the surprise announcement of Sad Puppies 4”

4 reasons to pet the Puppies:

  1. Tone

The Puppy organizers Kate Paulk, Sarah A. Hoyt and Amanda S. Green have written things that I consider stupid, hateful and obnoxious, but the Sad Puppies 4 announcement was phrased very un-obnoxiously. Civility is a nice thing.

  1. It’s not a slate, really

Listing more works than one can nominate for the Hugos and stating up front that one should read the stuff before suggesting it are good and play down the slate aspect.

  1. No more shady correct taste comissars

With Sad Puppies 3, Brad Torgersen had a somewhat similar nominee suggestion phase (that had humorously few participants). After that, though, he ditched most of the stuff people had suggested and went on with the things that were written by his chums. There will be no more of that, it seems.

  1. Focus on MOAR

The Puppy trio has promised to focus on participation instead of ideological screeds. It remains to be seen if that is a promise they are able to keep.

(8) Barry Deutsch – “Don’t Be Fooled – Kate Paulk’s Kinder, Gentler Sad Puppy Slate Is Still A Slate”

For instance, in 2012 (before the puppies), 611 Hugo voters turned in ballots for short stories. The most popular short story, E. Lily Yu’s amazing The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees, was listed on only 72 of those 611 ballots (about 12%). At least 60% of those 611 ballots didn’t vote for any of the top five nominated stories.

And that’s fine. That’s how the Hugo nominations are designed to work. 611 Hugo voters, acting as individuals, each nominate whatever short stories they think are award-worthy. From that list of hundreds of short stories, the five most-nominated make it to the final ballot.

Unfortunately, it’s an easy system to game, as the Puppies have proven. If you can form a voting bloc of just 100 people who will nominate an agreed-upon list, instead of voting as individuals, that’s enough to completely overwhelm the much larger number of Hugo voters who are voting as individuals. 100 people voting for just 5 works will beat out 500 people voting from among hundreds of works.

(9) Philip Sandifer – “Weird Kitties: An Organized Anti-Slate For The 2016 Hugos”

The good news is that there are five thousand of us, united, if nothing else, by the facts that 1) We voted in the Hugos, and 2) We are not Puppies of any stripe. We are not a campaign. We are not a political movement. We are not playing some elaborate game of four-dimensional chess in order to topple Christendom. Indeed we, in the sense of “me and everyone reading this,” are not even all five thousand voters. But nevertheless, we are a bunch of fans defined by the simple fact that we’re eligible to nominate things for Hugos next year, and we’re not Vox Day’s pack of rabid dogs.

One of the most helpful things, then, would be if all five thousand of us nominated, and if we nominated a full ballot. Among us, we’ve got 25,000 open slots on our ballots in every category with which to push a work over the slate-busting threshold of 541. That’s doable, but it’s also hard. A lot of us, myself included, don’t identify five eligible Hugo-worthy items in every category in a normal year’s reading. In many categories, a lot of us don’t identify one. We don’t all have writing Winds of Winter to be distracted from, after all. And we could use some help.

So I’m creating Weird Kitties for exactly that. It’s going to be an ongoing conversation about awesome science fiction and fantasy that’s come out and is coming out in 2015, conducted for people who want to fill in their Hugo ballots with things they love.

(10) Camestros Felapton – “How big should the Hugo Awards”

What is the ideal number of people to vote on the Hugo Awards? I’d say it should be around whatever the number of people is that feel they can make a reasonable decision on the least popular story category (Novelette? I haven’t checked historically) – i.e. how many people are taking an active interest in SF/F Novelettes published in English in a given year. I don’t know what that number is but those are the interesting people. Why? Because they are people looking at newer writers and people doing interesting things and who are interested in trends etc.

(11) John C. Wright – “Hugo Controversy Quiz Questions”

Theodore Beale, who writes under the pen name Vox Day, joined us as an ally, but disagreed with the goals. He thought the award could not be salvaged and restored to its former glory; indeed, the only thing that could be done would be to force the politically-correctness faction (which he calls by the mocking title Social Justice Warriors, at one time their own name for themselves) to reveal their true purposes. His plan was to make it clear to any honest onlooker that the awards were being given out not based on merit, but due to politics. For this reason, he promoted his own slate of suggested works for his fans to read and vote upon, called the Rabid Puppies.

The Social Justice Warriors did in fact react precisely as Mr Beale predicted, and after the Sad Puppies unexpectedly swept several categories in the nominations, the SJWs used their superior numbers to vote NO AWARD into that category rather than give the award to whichever work was most worthy among the candidates.

This was done purely and openly for political reasons. The mask is torn. No honest onlooker can doubt the motive of the Social Justice Warriors at this point, or ponder whether the claims made by the Sad Puppies were true or false.

(12) Sarah Mirk of Bitch Media interviews Ann Vandermeer in “’Sisters of the Revolution’ Collects Powerful Feminist Sci-Fi”

I was wondering what you think of the “puppies” pushback to the Awards and what that reveal.

Well I have to say I was really excited at the people that won. The best novel category, I was very, very excited about that, because I know both the writer and the translator, so that was—I mean the way that I look at the outcome of the entire awards ceremony is it was showing you that science fiction is bigger than just the United States and the U.K. That’s how I felt. The science fiction community is definitely making that outreach into the wider world. When you think about the Hugos, what you’re looking at is a popularity contest in a sense because the awards are going to be voted on by the people that buy the memberships. It’s plain and simple. It’s not a juried award, there’s no judge, it’s just who’s voting and how they’re voting. So it’s just by the numbers. When you look at it that way, the thing that was really exciting to me is that this past year they had more than double the average number of people voting than they’ve had in the past. I think they had close to 6,000 people who voted.

Did more people turn out to vote because they’d heard about the controversy over the awards?

Well, I think people were getting more involved in the discussion. If you take a look at the numbers, and you look at the number of people who are actually members of World Con, every single person who signs up for a membership, whether it’s supporting or attending, can vote. So, typically, only half of the people that have memberships, vote. Only half. It’s kind of like when you take a look at our Presidential elections, what’s the percentage of people that vote? Not everybody. But we had so many people that actually voted. Now, here’s the good thing about that. It’s not true for every voter, I’m not naïve, but a lot of voters went in and read the stories, which to me is amazing. So a lot of those stories got a larger audience than they ever would.

(13) Didact’s Reach – “So what now, Hugo?”

The detailed statistics behind the awards results showed very clearly that the voters at WorldCon and Sasquan were perfectly willing to undermine the legitimacy of their own award process in order to keep out those that they don’t like. LTC Tom Kratman, John C. Wright, Steve Rsaza, a number of Baen authors, and Toni Weisskopf herself, were all denied awards that they richly deserved and should have won for their respective categories.

Yet, instead of even bothering to consider the alternatives, five different categories were given “No Award”. The Hugo and Nebula Awards were, essentially, reduced to a farce. And all because politics overruled etiquette, courtesy, wisdom, and good judgement.

The SJWs who currently control the nomination and award process have made it perfectly clear that they intend to amend the (already incomprehensible) rules for next year’s ballot in order to prevent a similar uprising from happening again. Good luck with that; I have every reason to think that the Sad Puppies leaders for next year, Amanda Green, Kate Paulk, and Sarah A. Hoyt, will simply adapt, react, and overcome in order to get works by actual skilled authors that fans actually might want to read up for nominations.

(14) Jed Hartman on Lorem Ipsum – “Why I love the Hugos”

I acknowledge that the system is contentious and complicated and initially confusing, and I’m sad that people feel excluded, because I want everyone who’s interested to feel like they can be part of it. In general, I feel like bringing more people into the process means that the awards are more valid, because they’re less likely to represent the views of only a few people.

And there’s a whole lot of room for expansion. Even though I agree that the financial barrier to entry is high, that’s certainly not the only issue, because every year a large percentage of the Worldcon members who are eligible to vote don’t do so. So it’s great that the nominating and voting numbers have been going up and up in recent years, but there are still a lot of people who could vote but don’t, and a lot of other people who want to but can’t.

But even so. Despite all of the system’s flaws; despite my eye-rolling when an MC yet again does the “I’m going to make this ceremony last as long as possible” schtick; despite occasional bad behavior on the part of an MC or a presenter or a nominee; despite my personal disappointment that the magazine I edited for twelve years hasn’t yet won one (I’ve wanted a Hugo since I was a kid); despite the sometimes-contentious arguing about what should be nominated and what should win; despite my dubiousness about making nominees sit there tensely waiting to find out whether they’ve won, and about the basic idea of declaring one particular work or person to be the “best” of the year; despite everything—the Hugos are important to me.

And I especially love the Hugo ceremony itself, in all its disparate parts. The pause to honor the people in our field who’ve died over the past year, as their names scroll by on the screen. The awards honoring contributions to fandom, like the Big Heart award. The occasional very entertaining MCs. The beautiful designs for the Hugo award base. The passing-along of the Campbell tiara. The delight of most of the winners. The sometimes gracious and sometimes funny and sometimes overwhelmed acceptance speeches. The rush to analyze the stats afterward. The whole thing, flaws and all. It’s one of my favorite things about Worldcon, which is (despite its flaws) one of my favorite conventions.

(15) Robert Bevan on Caverns and Creatures “Hugo Loss (Sad Puppies Can Eat a Dick.)”

  1. What do the Sad Puppies see as the problem? 

SJW, the all-too-often abbreviated form of the “Social Justice Warrior”. It’s most often used as a lazy means for bigots to dismiss opinions which differ from whatever they were told by their daddy/preacher/grand wizard.

Having said that, I will admit to being annoyed by people I perceive as SJWs (in the derogatory sense) as well. In fact, they were an entry in my Reviewers Who Can Eat a Dick post right up until the final edit. I ended up removing that entry because I felt it made me sound like a whiny asshole, and because it’s so hard to differentiate an actual advocate for social justice, which is something that I admire, from an obnoxious loudmouth who’s only interested in scoring sensitivity points by pretending to be offended by innocuous words. (If enough people read this, I’ll get a few comments calling me a misogynist, in spite of the SJW nature of this post, for using the phrase “Cry like little bitches.” in the above entry.)

The puppies’ stated problem was that these SJWs had already compromised the integrity of the Hugos by voting along the lines of authors’ race, gender, sexuality, or politics, rather than based on the quality of the actual books they were voting on. Books with “messages” and meaning were winning out over good old-fashioned fun space romps, like the kind Puppies like to write.

That last sentence is paraphrased from what I read on one of the puppies’ blogs. The implication seemed to be that their books were more deserving of a prestigious award specifically because they were devoid of anything important to say. By that metric, my books should be pulling in Hugos left and right.

(16) Vox Day declares:

John Scalzi can ban all the parodies he likes. The VFM [Vile Faceless Minions] will just publish more bestsellers. Strike one down and two pop right back up to the top of the category within 24 hours.


(17) Scalzi looked over the goods and said…

(18) Kevin Standlee is working on a proposal to drop some Hugo categories and add others.

I think we’ve reached a point, in small steps, where a significant proportion of the Hugo Award electorate doesn’t know how to actually nominate in at least three categories, and at worst derides those categories because they think they are so complicated or need specialist knowledge that they’ll never have. This is not good for the health of the Hugo Awards. I therefore propose that we should delete three existing categories that people find confusing and unclear and replace them with three new categories that, while not perfectly defined (it’s difficult to define things completely air-tight), are at least more accessible and understandable to the people picking up the ballot or reading the results list.

Categories to Delete

  • Best Semiprozine
  • Best Editor Long Form
  • Best Editor Short Form

Categories to Add

  • Best Professional Magazine
  • Best Anthology or Collection
  • Best Publisher

(19) Andrew Porter writes:

Couldn’t get to Smokane? The smoke made it to the East Coast … by the middle of last week, according to this report. That explains the haze and pollution so many places on the East Coast have been experiencing.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Steven H Silver, Mark, Barry Deutsch and John King Tarpinian for some of these links. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day John Seavey.]

Death Rides A Puppy 4/21

Featured in today’s roundup are David Gerrold, Vox Day, Jim Wright (no relation to John C.), Jason Cordova and Jason Sanford, Amanda Green and Edward Green, Mick and Mackintosh, Alexandra Erin, Philip Sandifer, plus all the other woofers and tweeters.

Eric James Stone

 “Ruminations on Nominations” – April 20

  1. Voting: Various people have suggested voting “No Award” above any of the Puppy nominees regardless of the merits of any particular nominee, as a way of protesting the use of bloc voting for nominations. I think that’s an understandable reaction, and it’s not against the rules, so I do think that’s a valid strategy. But I think it’s unseemly; not as unseemly as bloc voting, but still unseemly.  I don’t think it’s right to punish all the nominees on the Sad Puppies slate because they swept most of the available spot on the ballot, because I doubt any of them had any idea that was going to happen.  This whole Sad Puppies seems to have grown out of what happened a few years ago when some people in the WorldCon community deliberately snubbed Larry Correia because of his politics and religion. Larry decided to push back, and received pushback on his pushback, and things escalated from there. It’s time to stop the escalation. I think George R.R. Martin, John Scalzi, and many others have the right idea: check out the individual nominees, and vote based on whether you consider them worthy or not. If that means “No Award” in some categories, so be it, but I think you should at least give the nominees a fair look.
  2. Self-Correction: Given the reaction this year, I think it’s fair to say people should be on notice about what it means to be on a slate, and a blanket No Award strategy for any nominees who are willing participants in a slate next year would be appropriate. Also, people will be alert to warn others who might have missed this year’s controversy as to what being on a slate means. With regard to the Sad Puppies campaign, I hope that if they do decide to continue with Sad Puppies 4, it is with a recommendation list far broader than a slate of nominees. Hopefully, next year slates will not be a problem, and so amending the rules (which takes two years) will turn out to be unnecessary.


Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“There is a theme” – April 21

This is an interesting exercise in rhetoric. Mr. Gerrold clearly wants us to be very impressed by his feelbads, and thereby convinced of the pure and utter evil of those who would cause such feelbads.

With all due respect, Mr. Gerrold, you’re not exactly convincing anyone. We’ve read STARTREKSHIRTS. We’ve read “If a Dinosaur Had a Cookie, My Love”. We’ve read “I am Chinese and I am Gay”. We’ve read LOOK MA, I CAN DO WHAT DAVID SILVERBERG DID NEARLY 30 YEARS AGO. The only soaring that is taking place here is the Muse of Science Fiction leaping out the window in protest. More interesting is Mr. Gerrold’s threats of unpersoning and banishment from that fine community of SF fandom, which of course proves exactly what we’ve been saying from the start.


Edward L. Green on Facebook – April 21

And when the SP/RPs do the same next year? Declare the war is over, and the Hugo is done. Business meeting votes to retire the award and box the rocket.

And when we bury it, we tell the world that Vox Day, Larry Correia and Brad R. Torgersen killed it.

Every time the Hugos are mentioned in the future, we say that same thing.

Vox Day, Larry Correia and Brad R. Torgersen killed it.

Now, I admit, at least one of those people seem to not care in the slightest that will happen.

But I suspect Correia and Torgersen might care. Or not. Hell, maybe they want their one lasting literary accomplishments to be to destroy a prestigious award like the Hugo.

Wouldn’t that look kinda neat of the cover of a novel?

“From The Author Who Helped Killed The Hugo.”

Now some might say ‘Those guys weren’t part of the RP Slate. They may have hung around them, and maybe spoke with them, but they weren’t part of it.” Correia and Torgesen are trying to distance themselves in a not distancing kind of way from this madness.



Jim Wright (of Stonekettle Station)  on Facebook – April 21

Some day, I hope to be on that stage receiving my own shiny rocketship, should that particular fantasy ever come to pass I’d like to think it was because I earned it on the strength of my ability and not because a bunch of you people stacked the ballot box for political reasons.

As to the Con itself, I don’t care about controversies. I. Don’t. Care. We’re gonna have fun. Repeat, we’re gonna have fun, huge goddamned fun, with a lot of really, really amazing and fun and talented people. If you’re determined to be miserable, don’t come. Please.

And on that note: for minions who plan on being at SASQUAN, I’ll be happy to meet up and share a drink and a story or two – especially if you’re buying.

Look for me, I’ll be the guy in the hat.


Alexandra Erin on Storify

“Gamergate, Sad Puppies and the default narrative” – April 19

Alexandra Erin discusses how both GG and the Sad Puppies are both operating under the fallacy that the narrative that most closely aligns with their own world view and politics is the one “without politics”



Philip Sandifer

“Guided By The Beauty of Their Weapons: An Analysis of Theodore Beale and His Supporters”  – April 21

All of these tropes are, of course, immediately visible in the Sad/Rabid Puppy narrative of the Hugos. Torgersen’s paean to the olden days of science fiction is straightforwardly the golden age myth. The claim that a leftist cabal of SJWs, the details of which are, as is always the case with these things, fuzzy, but which at the very least clearly includes John Scalzi, Teresa and Patrick Nielsen Hayden, and the publishing house Tor have since taken control of the Hugos is a classic stab-in-the-back myth. And the Puppy slates feature heroic men (Torgersen and Beale) who speak truth to power and call excitedly for the people to rise up and show their freedom by voting in complete lockstep with them. It’s a classically fascist myth, just like Gamergate (gaming used to be great, then the feminist SJWs took over the gaming press, and now Gamergate will liberate it) or Men’s Rights Activists (of which Beale is one).



Steph Rodriguez in San Francisco Book Review

“War of the Worlds: Slate Voting Games”  – April 21

“In science fiction, you cannot be an out-of-the- closet conservative without people sticking their nose in the air,” said Torgersen in a telephone interview from his home in Utah. “Science fiction is almost overwhelmingly, very progressive, very liberal, and there’s a monoculture that is formed, and, if you’re not part of it, you’re on the outs.”

…For science fiction author and Hugo Award winner Kameron Hurley, she noticed a definite shift in the science fiction community over the last five years, in terms of hosting a more diverse group of authors, whether it be male to female ratios, or even a more culturally varied lineup.

“Science fiction award ballots in 2009 through last year became more diverse and as it got more diverse, it started to frighten people, and they didn’t want their own slice of pie to get eaten by everyone,” Hurley explained. “[This year], there [are] nine nominations that come from this tiny, little [publishing] house in Finland, which one of the organizers of the slate, [Theodore Beale], actually owns. So, it’s an incredibly tiny minority. It’s not even really representative of science fiction publishers, let alone the full breath of science fiction.”


David Gerrold on Facebook – April 21

Some people have posted notes that suggest they believe that the host of the Hugo Award Ceremony will use the podium as an opportunity to take revenge on the sad puppies with some scathing ridicule.


Absolutely not.

The Hugo Award Ceremony is the highlight of the fannish calendar. It is the most important fan event of the year. It is not a place for petty grudges, it is not a place for divisiveness. It is a celebration of excellence. It is a celebration of our community. And most of all, it is for the nominees — it is their moment to be recognized as the best in the field. And this year, despite the slate-mongering, despite the rancor, there are still many qualified works that have fairly earned their place on the ballot.

This is my commitment. We will do nothing to spoil their evening. We will honor them, we will celebrate them. We will congratulate them if they take home a trophy, we will give them an “attaboy” even if they don’t take a trophy home.


David Gerrold on Facebook – April 21

An open letter to Brad Torgersen,

Dear Brad,

It looks to me that there is a part of this situation that you have not considered.

Regardless of how you have justified yourself, you have failed to understand several things:

The Worldcon is created fresh every year — it’s a self-assembling village. It requires the work of hundreds of fans who volunteer their time and energy to have a five day celebration of science fiction. It belongs to no one. It belongs to all of us, regardless of politics, regardless of skin color, regardless of who we love, regardless of gender. It belongs to all of us — in the traditional sense of the word “all” — with no one and nothing left out.

While you may believe your slate-mongering was a moral act, a justified act, a pushback against some kind of social justice tyranny — at least that’s how it’s been characterized by some of those who favored the slate — while you may feel that your actions are not blameworthy, you have hurt the entire community.


Mick from Mick on Everything

“Why We Need Sad Puppies” – April 20

[First-ever post on this blog.]

Query: with everything I just wrote, does it surprise anyone still reading that I didn’t know I could vote on the Hugos until Sad Puppies 2? I was shocked to learn it. No wonder the insular cliques are running the show, the rest of us don’t even know we’re supposed to be contributing to the script!

The only way to change that is to erect a big tent and get everyone in. People like the trufen who scoff at me are already there. Sad Puppies have showed the rest of us that we can join too. And as a bonus, since SP3 started, I have a list of new authors to check out so long I can’t even remember them all at once. Everybody wins!

That’s what it’s really about. I just spent 1,300+ words telling you why my fandom should count. That doesn’t invalidate anyone else’s fandom. I am still laboring to understand how “fandom” became a contest. My whole life, “fandom” has meant that I can share books, and games, and movies with people with similar interests, and they will share theirs with me, and we will both get enjoyment.

Now, “fandom” is being construed to mean the taste-makers, the CHORFs who get to tell the rest of us how awful we are for simply enjoying our entertainment. I have rarely been so enraged as when I read Making Light, or George RR Martin’s attempts to sugarcoat the groupthink, with the supposed kingmakers telling me that I don’t matter. As if my 25+ years of actually reading and supporting these genres makes me unworthy of their eminence. As if they and their ilk are better than the rest of us.


Jason Sanford

“Thank you to our genre’s many volunteers (and please don’t attack them)” – April 21

One of the most disgusting things I’ve seen since the launch of the Puppy campaigns is how people are attacking these genre volunteers. Some of these attacks are subtle, such as the Puppies saying Worldcon and the Hugo Awards don’t represent the true fans (whatever that means). But if you’re saying that, then you’re also saying everyone who volunteers to make the Worldcon and the Hugo Awards happen aren’t true SF/F fans.

Other attacks aren’t subtle, such as the attempt to create insulting names to call our genre volunteers. Or saying you’ll destroy the Hugo Awards, which amounts to an attempt to destroy the work of generations of Worldcon volunteers merely to accomplish your political goals.

I recently read a comment which sums up the pain many of these volunteers are feeling over having something they love turned into a political football. Chris Barkley, who is a long-time WorldCon volunteer and has worked on the Hugo Awards, recently wrote the following:

“As someone who has been deeply and personally involved with the Hugos Awards for the past 16 years, I find this…situation, extremely distressing. I, and many others involved with the Worldcon and the Business Meeting have worked VERY hard to make the award categories inclusive, fair, engaging and most importantly, relevant, in the 21st century. To see all of that jeopardized, by people who should know better, for all the wrong headed reasons, is something I never saw coming…”


Paul St. John Mackintosh on TeleRead

“Hugo Gernsback: The man who put the Hugo – and the bad karma – in the Hugos” – April 21

The sad Sad Puppies saga in the Hugo Awards casts an unflattering light – in fact, two lights – on the man whose name they bear: Hugo Gernsback, “who founded the pioneering science fiction magazine Amazing Stories and who is considered one of the “fathers” of the science fiction genre,” as the Hugo Awards Wikipedia page says. In fact, in 1960 he received a special Hugo Award as “The Father of Magazine Science Fiction.” And the two lights are: first, Gernsback’s personal ethics when dealing with his stable of pioneering science fiction authors, which according to quite a few sources, were shoddy. And second, the whole notion of “good old-fashioned SF and fantasy, the stuff the readers really love,” as George R.R. Martin described it, which Gernsback personified and which many Sad Puppies proponents have claimed to be defending.


Tim Hall on Trebuchet Magazine

“Watching the Hugos burn. Sci-Fi Controversy Wreaks Havoc” – April 21

[Largely repeats two of Hall’s blog posts referenced earlier, for those who’ve been tracking these roundups since the beginning.]

At this point, the Hugo Awards of 2015 look as good as dead, and everyone is now fighting over a corpse. Whether The Hugos can be salvaged in future years is another matter, and it does need a consensus on what the awards actually represent, and who they belong to. At the moment it’s degenerated into a fight to the death which will only destroy the object being fought over. Science Fiction itself is the loser.

Maybe cooler heads will prevail in 2016. A few people have tried to build bridges and find some common ground, but they’re still being drowned out by the louder and angrier voices.

There do need to be changes, and there is still the chance that some long-term good can come out of this mess.

Slate voting has demonstrated how a relatively small minority voting the same way can sweep entire categories. But it didn’t start with the Sad and Rabid Puppies. It was broken before, and it didn’t need an organised conspiracy to do it. With a small voting pool all it took was a critical mass of people with heavily-overlapping tastes to crowd everything else off the ballot. That fuelled the perceptions, true or not, that second-rate work was ending up on the ballot simply because the author was friends with the right people, and even that the whole thing was being fixed behind the scenes by an imaginary cabal.


R. C. Hipp on The Drakehall Broadsheet

“Shakespeare and that Sad Puppies Thing” – April 21

…Othello wins hands down because the titular character has a full blown panic attack.  Contemplating Desdemona’s (invented) betrayal and the reparative action required of him by the demented Man Code of his time (murdering her), Othello becomes so unhinged that he babbles half-incoherently before falling “in a trance” to the stage.

Yup, that’s a panic attack.

You probably get the idea that while elves and aliens are important to me, so are more meaty and realistic things.  I like to see race, gender, and religion in my speculative fiction.  I like to read about mental illness (and wellness).  If the characters are fighting a daemon or a mega corporation that’s all well and good.  But when it becomes clear the dragon is a stand-in for something else, something I or my friends have to deal with in real life, that’s when I’m jumping up and down in my seat.

So I don’t get the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies.

If you haven’t heard (you probably have, I’m about two weeks late to this party and in Internet Years that’s a millennia) a bunch of dimbulbs worked together to ensure that only “fun” stories were nominated for the Hugos this year.  “Fun” as opposed to “niche, academic, overtly [leftist]”.  Mainstream escapism for the overprivileged as opposed to anything else.


Amanda S. Green on Noctural Lives

“An update, a thought or two, and a snippet” – April 21

Frankly, I am more than disappointed with how a number of them have reacted to the current situation. Here are authors who ought to know better trying to get their peers and fans to vote No Award ahead of nominated works simply because they don’t like they think something made it onto the ballot. They don’t give a damn about the author or the work. They are making a “statement” — well, I hate to tell them this but it is a chickenshit statement and one that shows just how petty they are. I have looked at the ballot and there are works on it that I have a pretty good idea I won’t like — and yes, they come from one of the so-called slates. But I am not going to vote No Award because of the slate it was on. Nor am I going to vote No Award because I think I won’t like it. What I will do is read it, as well as the other entries. Then and only then will I cast my ballot. The only way I will vote No Award is if I think a work — after reading or watching it — is not worthy of being awarded the Hugo. Too bad others can’t do the same.


The Prussian on The Prussian

“Don’t Bring A Toothpick to a Tank Fight” – April 21

Before I go on, let me say that I don’t give a damn about literary awards.  I’m a reader, not a writer, so I have no financial interest in the awards, and that is the only reason anyone should be interested in them.  I’m only interested in good books – words put together on paper in a new and interesting way.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying that getting an award is a bad thing or that they only go to crappy authors.  Obviously not – Neil Gaiman and Harlan Ellison have won multiple Hugos and V.S. Naipaul won the Nobel Prize for literature.  But on the other hand, neither Nabokov nor Borges ever won the Nobel Prize in literature, and Ray Bradbury never won a Hugo, and Terry Pratchett, Michael Moorcock and J.G. Ballard were never even nominated.

So, yeah.  For someone who cares about writing and literature, the awards are irrelevant.

…Now usually in these issues, I wind up by pointing out that this is dangerous, because it opens up the field to truly scary types.  That’s not true here – as I’ve said, awards are pretty meaningless, so we’re not really playing for high stakes.  Just a word of warning: if you are relying on SJWs to defend issues that actually matter – anti-racialism, women’s emancipation, free speech, the defense of civilization – you are relying on people who cannot even rig an award competently.


Sci Phi Journal

“Lou Antonelli’s Hugo-nominated Short “On A Spiritual Plain” Available for Free” – April 21

You can get Lou Antonelli’s “On a Spiritual Plain” for free in EPUB and MOBI The download also includes the story of how “On a Spiritual Plain” came to be included in Sci Phi.


Jason Cordova

“#FreeSpeech” – April 21

I’ve been having a <<censored>> day so far, trying to <<censored>> <<censored>> before I <<censored>>. It’s a <<censored>> way to live, but hey, gotta <<censored>>, am I right?

A lot of <<censored>> have been contacting me this week regarding <<censored>>. One of the things I like to <<censored>> is that <<censored>> is open to the <<censored>> of <<censored>> speech. <<censored>> speech is one of the most important basics of our <<censored>> nation, yet the muzzle of <<censored>> has been slowly being applied to the <<censored>> mouth over the past 50 years. Not only is our <<censored>> of speech being attacked in the name of <<censored>>, certain individuals and groups are now <<censored>> their own allies, feasting upon them as the Ouroboros does its own tail. But it’s <<censored>> <censored>> who are <<censored>> and <<censored>>. Do I have that right?

<<censored>> of <<censored>> — it’s why we have such a great <<censored>>.


glaurung_quena comment on More Words, Deeper Hole

The theory is that one nominates the best stories you’ve read in the past year — stuff that knocked your socks off. Judging by the quality of the puppy slate, I can only conclude that they have very loose socks


Damon G. Walter on Patreon

Damien Walter is creating Nothing

Other than the things I already do.