Pixel Scroll 9/22/17 How Can You Tell If An Elephant Has Been On Your Scroll? By The Footprints On The Pixels

(1) EBOOKS FOR HURRICANE RELIEF. Fireside Fiction has teamed up with other small presses, authors, and editors to offer e-books to raise money for hurricane relief through the Hurricane Relief Bookstore.

Fireside Fiction Company has put together the Hurricane Relief Bookstore to raise funds for disaster relief and rebuilding for Houston, the Caribbean, and Florida.

100% of profits from sales on this store will go toward the following three relief organizations:

• For Houston: Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund

• For the Caribbean: Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Fund

• For Florida: ShelterBox

The ebooks on this store are intentionally priced high—the more money we raise, the better. If you want to increase your donations, simply increase the quantities in your shopping cart before checking out.

Each ebook consists of a Zip file that includes a Mobi file for your Kindle and an Epub file for iBooks, Nook, Kobo, or any other reader (some publishers also include a PDF file). All files are DRM-free (because come on, it’s 2017).

(2) THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS SATURN. E.R. Ellsworth presents the bittersweet “Lost Letters From Cassini” on Medium.

January 1st, 2001

My Dearest Geneviève:

I hope this missive finds you well. As far as my travels have taken me, you remain ever in my thoughts.

Huygens and I celebrated the new year with the majestic visage of Jupiter full in our sights. I’m enclosing several photographs of that celestial marvel for you and the kids to enjoy. I am no Ansel Adams, however, and I fear my skills with the lens cannot capture the true beauty of this place.

Yours always,

Cassini

(3) ABOVE AND BEYOND. It is the nature of we humans to be more interested in someone’s opinion of Amazon Author Rankings if he or she happens to be speaking from the top of the pile. Take John Scalzi, for example.

Yesterday nine of my novels were on sale for $2.99 in ebook format, across a bunch of different retailers, but most prominently on Amazon, because, well, Amazon. Amazon has a number of different ways to make authors feel competitive and neurotic, one of which is its “Amazon Author Rank,” which tells you where you fit in the grand hierarchy of authors on Amazon, based (to some extent) on sales and/or downloads via Amazon’s subscription reading service. And yesterday, I got to the top of it — #1 in the category of science fiction and fantasy, and was #4 overall, behind JK Rowling and two dudes who co-write business books. Yes, I was (and am still! At this writing!) among the elite of the elite in the Amazon Author Ranks, surveying my realm as unto a god.

And now, thoughts! …

  1. This opacity works for Amazon because it keeps authors engaged, watching their Amazon Author Rankings go up and down, and getting little spikes or little stabs as their rankings bounce around. I mean, hell, I think it’s neat to have a high ranking, and I know it’s basically nonsense! But I do think it’s important for authors to remember not to get too invested in the rankings because a) if you don’t know how it works, you don’t know why you rank as you do, at any particular time, b) it’s foolish to be invested in a ranking whose mechanism is unknown to you, c) outside of Amazon, the ranking has no relevance.

(4) NEEDS MEANER VILLAIN. Zhaoyun presents “Microreview [book]: Babylon’s Ashes (book six of The Expanse), by James S.A. Corey” at Nerds of a Feather.

…And this is where, in my opinion, Babylon’s Ashes missteps.

It turns out Inaros just isn’t that compelling a villain, and perhaps as a consequence of this, the good guys’ inevitable victory over him isn’t particularly cathartic. In one sense that shouldn’t matter, since of course it’s entirely up to Daniel Abraham and Ty Francks what sort of villain to create, and nothing mandates a “tougher than you can believe” archetype. The problem, as I see it, is that they fell into this narrative trope without having the right sort of villain for it. Inaros is simply a megalomaniac with a flair (sort of) for PR, but his ridiculous behavior and blunders end up alienating many of his erstwhile supporters. This leeches the catharsis right out of the mano y mano confrontation at the end, since in a manner of speaking Inaros has already been beaten, in small ways, numerous times before this….

(5) HOBBIT FORMING. The 80th anniversary of the publication of The Hobbit prompted Vann R. Newkirk II to recall when right made might, in “There and Back Again” for The Atlantic.

Modern fantasy and its subgenres, as represented in [George R.R.] Martin’s work, might be positioned as anti-art in relation to Tolkien. In that way, Tolkien still dominates. While the watchword of the day is subversion—twisting tropes, destroying moral absolutes with relativism, and making mockeries of gallantry and heroism—subversion still requires a substrate. So although fantasy creators in all media have devoted most of their energies in the past eight decades to digesting Tolkien, so in turn Tolkien has become part of the fabric of their works. There’s a little Bilbo in Tyrion, a bit of Smaug in Eragon’s dragons, a dash of Aragorn in Shannara’s Shea Ohmsford, and a touch of Gandalf in the wizards of Discworld.

That’s why, on this week’s anniversary of the publication of The Hobbit and of the entrance of Tolkien into the fantasy genre, it’s important to reread and reconsider his works, and his first especially. Although the short and whimsical book is considered lightweight compared to The Lord of the Rings trilogy, it’s still in many ways the best that literature has to offer. Tolkien is first a linguist, and it’s not only his creation of elvish, dwarvish, and orcish languages out of whole cloth that impresses, but also the way he toys with English and illustrates the power of language itself to create. Ever a good author surrogate, Bilbo’s true arms and armor aren’t his trusty half-sword Sting or his mithril shirt, but—as Gollum would find out—his words and riddles.

(6) NOT THE DIRECTOR’S CUT. Matthew Vaughn, director of Kingsman 2, wouldn’t have put the film’s biggest surprise in the damn trailers, he told IGN:

Trailers revealed that Colin Firth’s Harry Hart – who seemed to have died in the course of the first film – would return in the sequel.

Speaking to IGN, Vaughn was forthright about his feelings on that particular promotional choice: “Well, I’m not in charge of marketing. The thinking about that was stupidity, to be blunt.

“I begged the studio not to reveal it. Because it’s the whole driving force of the first act and if you didn’t know that scene it would’ve made the whole audience gasp. So you have to ask the lovely marketing guys because I think their job is to open the movie and don’t really care about the experience of the movie.”

(7) TODAY’S DAY

Hobbit Day

The birthday of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins.

 

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 22, 1968 — Irwin Allen’s Land of the Giants aired “The Crash,” its first episode.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL

  • September 22, 1971 – Elizabeth Bear

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • Was Mark-kitteh surprised to find an sf reference in xkcd? No more than you will be.
  • Nor should anyone be surprised by the sports reference Mike Kennedy found in a comic called In the Bleachers. But its Star Wars component, maybe?

(11) END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN. Surely something called “Read For Pixels 2017 (Fall Edition)” needs a mention here?

Read For Pixels 2017 (Fall Edition) raises funds to help end violence against women in collaboration with award-winning bestselling authors.

The Pixel Project‘s “Read For Pixels” 2017 (Fall Edition) campaign features live readings+Q&A Google Hangout sessions with 12 award-winning bestselling authors in support of the cause to end violence against women. Participating authors include Adrian Tchaikovsky, Alafair Burke, Genevieve Valentine, Ilona Andrews, Isaac Marion, Kass Morgan, Ken Liu, Kristen Britain, Paul Tremblay, Sara Raasch, Soman Chainani, and Vicki Pettersson.

These awesome authors have donated exclusive goodies to this special “Read For Pixels” Fall 2017 fundraiser to encourage fans and book lovers to give generously to help tackle VAW. Additional goodies come courtesy of Penguin Random House’s Berkley and Ace/Roc/DAW imprints, acclaimed Fantasy authors Aliette de Bodard, Charles de Lint, Christopher Golden, Dan Wells, Jacqueline Carey, Kendare Blake, Steven Erikson, bestselling mystery/thriller author Karen Rose, and more.

(12) AN ANIMATED GROUP. Crave would like to tell you their picks for “The Top 15 Best Chuck Jones Cartoons Ever” and you may want to know – but I warn you in advance it’s one of those click-through-the-list posts. If you’re not that patient I’ll tell you this much – ranked number one is “Duck Amuck” (1953).

Few filmmakers could ever claim to have brought as much joy into our lives as Charles M. Jones, better known to many as Chuck Jones, who worked for Warner Bros. on their classic Looney Tunes shorts for 30 years. Afterwards, he directed shorts for MGM, co-directed the family classic The Phantom Tollbooth, and also directed one of the best Christmas specials ever produced, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! 

His career was varied – he won four Oscars, including a lifetime achievement award in 1966 – but Chuck Jones was and still is best known as one of the comic and cinematic geniuses who made Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Pepé Le Pew, Wile E. Coyote and The Road Runner the pop culture staples they are today. Along with his team of skilled animators, writers and fellow directors, Chuck Jones brought biting wit and visual wonders to the cartoon medium, and most – if not all – of the cartoons we love today owe him a direct debt of gratitude, in one form or another.

(13) AN APPEAL. A GoFundMe to “Save Rosy’s Inheritance” has been started for his wife by Guy H. Lillian III to fund these legal expenses –

Nita Green, Rose-Marie Lillian’s mother, passed away in April. 2015. Her intent, as stated in her will, was to have her only daughter inherit a logical percentage of her worldly goods. In person she was promised Nita’s collection of original paintings by Frank Kelly Freas, a renowned artist and long-time personal friend of them both. Rose-Marie lived with and cared for her mother and her stepfather for the last two years of her mother’s life. Since Nita’s death, however, she has been denied her inheritance, despite the stated wishes of her mother and an agreement arrived at a legal deposition taken in December, 2016. She has no recourse but to sue.  Though her husband is an attorney, he is licensed only in another state and Rosy’s cause of action is in Florida. All attorneys rightly require retainers before beginning representation and have every right to be paid. Rose-Marie turns to you for help. The retainer required will fall between $5000 and $7500…. Can you help?

(14) ENDOWED CHAIR. PZ Myers contends, “Only a conservative twit would believe he’s entitled to a speaker’s slot at a con”.

By the way, I have a similar example: I was a speaker at Skepticon multiple times. One year they decided they needed new blood, so they invited some other people, instead of me. If I were like Jon Del Arroz, I would have made a big stink over the violation of tradition — they invited me once (actually, a couple of times), so now they must invite me every time. Every year. Over and over. Until attendees are sick of me, and even then they aren’t allowed to stop.

That isn’t the way this works. I approve of diversity in the line-up. I think it’s great that they have enough people with interesting things to say that they can have a different roster of speakers every year. I’m perfectly willing to step aside, especially since it means I can just attend and enjoy the event without having to give a talk.

(15) DOTARD Alan Baumler sees a link between today’s headlines and The Lord of the Rings which he elaborates in “North Korea in the News-Trump is a dotard”.

So what does this tell us? Is the North Korean propaganda apparatus filled with Tolkien fans? Or is their understanding of modern idioms based on an idiosyncratic selection of foreign texts? I would guess that it is the latter, but the former would be cooler and more optimistic.

(16) ANOTHER SERVING OF SERIAL. Our favorite breakthrough author, Camestros Felapton, proves once again why books need maps – to keep the author from losing his place: “McEdifice Returns: I can’t remember which Chapter Number this is”.

…The hyper-specialism of the galactic civilisation has inexorably led to planets that were just-one-thing: the desert planet of Sandy, the lumpy planet of Lumpus, the planet that just looks like Amsterdam all over of Damsterham, and the Sydney Opera House planet of Utzon-Jørn to name but a few. To resist the planetary monoculture creating a fundamental fragility to galactic civilisation, the ruling Galactical Confederation of Galactic Imperial Republics had instigated a controversial “Come on, Every Planet Has to Have at Least Two Things Guys” law, that mandated that every planet had to have at least a pair of signature things….

(17) WATCHMEN. HBO has given a formal pilot green light to and ordered backup scripts for Watchmen, based on the iconic limited comic series by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons that had previously been adapted as the 2009 film, Deadline reported. The new project will be Damon Lindelof’s followup to his HBO series The Leftovers. Warner Horizon TV, which also was behind The Leftovers, is the studio as part of Linderlof’s overall deal at Warner Bros. TV.

(18) ALAN MOORE TAKES QUESTIONS. At ComicsBeat, Pádraig Ó Méalóid has posted two sessions of Alan Moore Q&As from 2015 and 2016.

In what may or may not become a long-standing tradition, Alan Moore has answered questions at Christmas set by the members of a Facebook group called The Really Very Serious Alan Moore Scholars’ Group, who are, as the name might suggest, a bunch of people who are interested in his work. At least, Moore answered 25 questions for the group in December 2015, which were later published here on The Beat over four posts towards the end of 2016. Those four posts can be found here:

And I can only apologise for the faux-clickbait titles. At the time I thought they were hilarious. What a difference a year makes…

Anyway, Moore once again answered a number of questions for the group at the end of 2016 and, having allowed the group to savour these on their own, the time has once again come to share them with the wider public. They cover subjects from Food to Fiction, but we’re starting with various aspects of Magic and Art.

Mark Needham: Do you like Tim-Tams, Hob-Nobs, Chocolate Digestives or any other kind of biscuit with your tea?

Alan Moore: These days, I find that my love of biscuits is increasingly abstract and theoretical, like my love for the comic medium, and that much of the actual product I find deeply disappointing on an aesthetic level. While the chocolate malted milk biscuit with the cow on the back is of course a timeless classic and a continuing source of consolation, why oh why has no one yet devised the glaringly obvious dark chocolate malted milk? We have a spacecraft taking close up pictures of Pluto, for God’s sake, and yet a different sort of chocolate on our cow-adorned teatime favourites is apparently too much to ask.

(19) LEGO MOVIE REVIEW. Glen Weldon of NPR sees Lego Ninjago as running in third place in its own genre: “Plastic Less-Than-Fantastic: ‘The LEGO Ninjago Movie'”.

  1. Constantly undercutting the film’s deliberately overblown genre trappings with surprisingly naturalistic dialogue that explicitly questions those trappings? Check.

The film’s stellar supporting cast gets not nearly enough to do — so little that viewers are left to impute the nature of many of the relationships among them. (Nanjiani’s Jay is meant to have a crush on Jacobsen’s Nya, I think? Based on one line?) That’s the bad news, and given the talent on hand, that news … is pretty bad.

But what’s shunting all those very funny actors into the background is the relationship between Franco’s aching-for-connection Lloyd and Theroux’s blithely evil Garmadon. And Theroux — deliberately channeling, he has stated in interviews, Will Arnett — is so fantastic here you almost forgive Garmadon’s hogging of the spotlight. Almost.

Watching him — or, more accurately, listening to him — is when you truly begin to appreciate how much of the load these vocal performances are carrying, how totally the success of a given Lord/Miller LEGO movie lives or dies in the specific execution of that breezy, naturalistic humor.

Because here, just three movies in, the Lord/Miller LEGO genre is showing signs of exhaustion.

(20) NEANDERTHALS GET ANOTHER BOOST. “Did Robert J. Sawyer have a point?” Chip Hitchcock, who sent the link to the BBC’s article “Neanderthal brains ‘grew more slowly'”. The gist of the article is that slow-growing brains were associated with the ‘most advanced species’ (i.e., homo sapiens sapiens); discovery further knocks the idea that Neanderthals were brutes.

A new study shows that Neanderthal brains developed more slowly than ours.

An analysis of a Neanderthal child’s skeleton suggests that its brain was still developing at a time when the brains of modern human children are fully formed.

This is further evidence that this now extinct human was not more brutish and primitive than our species.

The research has been published in the journal Science.

Until now it had been thought that we were the only species whose brains developed relatively slowly. Unlike other apes and more primitive humans, Homo sapiens has an extended period of childhood lasting several years.

[Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Mark-kitteh, Alan Baumler, Andrew Porter, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Love, Chip Hitchcock, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Robert Whitaker Sirignano.]

A Just and Lasting Puppy 4/22

A report from the battlefields of science fiction. Some are declaring victory, others are in pain.

Kary English

“On Anger, Power and Displacement in the Hugos (part one of possibly several)” – April 22

Americans hated the [Vietnam] war, so when the soldiers returned home, they displaced their anger onto the soldiers, reviling them, spitting on them and calling them baby killers.

Then, over the course of the next few decades, we grew to understand that we’d made a terrible mistake. So when next group of soldiers came home from a war that many Americans didn’t support, we didn’t spit and we didn’t call names. We’d learned that it was wrong to displace our anger onto the easy target. We said “Thank you for your service” even if we disagreed with the war.

But I don’t think we’ve learned that in the SFF community yet because we’re displacing our anger all over some of the Hugo nominees.

Vox Day spoke our names without our consent, and because of that we have been bullied in the news media and all over the internet. The women among us have been reviled as misogynist men, the minorities have been reviled as white racists, and the QUILTBAG authors and allies have been reviled as straight homophobes. We have been called assholes, bitches, mongrels, yapping curs, talentless hacks and so many more things that I can’t even name them all. I have seen at least one suggestion that all of us should be euthanized, a euphemism and allegedly funny word for murder.

There’s a trope made famous by Anita Sarkeesian that in the game of patriarchy, women aren’t the opposing team, they’re the ball. There’s a contingent that’s going to be upset that I’ve name checked Sarkeesian, but her comment is applicable to the Hugos, too. In the Hugo debate, the nominees aren’t the opposing team. We’re the ball.

We’re being kicked and bullied and savaged all over the internet.

And it hurts.

 

Brad R. Torgersen

“Why do it?” – April 21

That the field’s betters went full-force destruct-o-matic on me — because I invited the proles to the democracy — was not a surprise. They (the betters) had a media apparatus tailor-made for their bogeyman narrative, and they used this apparatus according to the playbook. Sad Puppies 3 got unceremoniously shoved into the role of Black Hat, and myself along with it.

But it’s worth all the drama, because the betters don’t “own” this field. If they ever did? When David Gerrold holds forth from his Fandom pulpit about “no forgiveness” and all that dire talk, he’s speaking to — at best — a collection of maybe one thousand people. Perhaps the pool of total Keep-Us-Pure-And-Holy-Fans is not even that large anymore? It’s difficult to say. A lot of them are passing on. They’re being replaced by new kids who seem obsessed with identitarian politics — which, not ironically, makes them a perfect fit for the Holy Church of the Peoples Republic of Science Fiction — but the replacement rate may not be enough to make up the difference.

Ultimately, the consumer market votes with its collective wallet. You can’t herd those cats, no matter how earnest and pure your motives. Nobody likes a preachy scold. And right now, that’s pretty much the only face being presented by Gerrold and the sundry opponents of SP3: preachy scolds. Dolores Umbridge!

 

Adam-Troy Castro on Facebook – April 21

If several of the people you thought you were benefiting by your plan to game the Hugos start withdrawing themselves from consideration, saying they don’t want your help and don’t want to be associated with it, then maybe the explanation is that it’s not at all helpful.

Maybe you’re not right. Maybe you’re not helpful. Maybe you’re not constructive. Maybe the room is trying to stop you before you embarrass yourself further.

Or maybe it’s all of a sign of the great big SJW conspiracy and you’re the world’s last correct man.

They did laugh at Galileo. They did laugh at Einstein. They did laugh at Jonas Salk.

But really: they also laughed at Peewee Herman.

 

Adam-Troy Castro on Facebook – April 22

“If No Award wins in any category, it will prove the SP3 contention that the Hugos are being gamed, and that the bullies have won.”–Arlan Andrews

Really, Arlan? Really?

It can’t mean anything else?

Like the votership deciding that the slate had promoted a group of largely subpar fiction?

Like the votership rejecting this very ballot as being gamed?

And if a Sad Puppy story wins, how does that prove, by your logic, that bullies haven’t won?

 

Jeet Heer on Storify

“Sad Puppies, Rabid Puppies, and Personal Taste”  – April 17

 

Adult Onset Atheist

“The Once and Future Hugo” – April 21

The 2015 Hugo awards are an attack on a secular future because they attack our ability to communicate what we think of a future. Even if that future is far in the past in some alternate universe.

What can be done? If the ballots are rigged using shadow voters then Worldcon should use some of the money that the new voters spent on membership fees, and validate that these new members actually exist. We could call on publishers to ignore the 2015 Hugo awards. A couple nominees, and one presenter, have declined their invitations to participate; we could ask more presenters and participants to refuse to participate. In any convention the exhibitors are a big factor in the event’s success, we could ask exhibitors to send a note of protest instead of a display. We could all also pony up $40.00 and vote for “No Award” (although I am not sure memberships are still open). One of the most damaging things this really shows is how easily Hugos can be bought.  The cost of the 2015 Hugos will end up being less than the marketing budget of a small Finish-based close-to-vanity press publisher like Castalia House.  If the Hugos turn into a bidding war then Worldcon should do something amazing with the extra revenue; like build a space ship or even a future where everyone is really smart and good looking, or just a talking cloud of pulsating colored energy.

I would suggest that Worldcon make a time machine, but I do not trust them to use such an awesome super power for good, and they already have one.  For the past couple years Worldcon has awarded retro Hugos for items published before there were Hugos.  They call them “retro Hugos”.  In alternative 1939 (2014) Ayn Rand’s novella titled “Anthem” was nominated for a Hugo.  It did not win, but solidly beat “No Award” by about 100 votes in the 5th round of voting.  In real 1939 few people read, and fewer liked, Rand’s dystopian novella.  In alternative 1939 it was one of the five best novellas.  I’ve always wondered why, when people time travel back to the beginning of world war II, they can’t go and kill Adolph Hitler.

 

John C. Wright

“Do presently lose all desire for light” – April 22

A man with a PhD in English holds forth on my hidden neofascism:

“If you got John C. Wright drunk at the bar, you could get him to admit that he thinks transhumanism and black people are ugly for the same reason.”

Actually, I am a teetotaler, and I always tell the truth, and I have absolutely no inhibitions about telling the truth requiring the seduction of wine to overcome. It will come as a surprise to my adopted daughter that I am a racist, I assure you.

Someone who pretends to know me well enough to discern the secret and yet strangely always discreditable workings of my hidden heart would know those two things about me.

This is the way of evil. Evil lies because no one is attracted to evil when its nature is clear. The lie serves only limited use, and must be extended and expanded in order to maintain credibility. The lie metastasizes, and grows to a point when no sane man can believe it any longer.

 

Geek Lady on The Care and Feeding of Geeks

“On ‘Publication’ As Defined By the Hugo Awards” – April 22

All of these situations constitute “first presentation to the public.”

Other people are publishing serially these days, especially during the NaNoWriMo events. When does that become ‘published’? Serialized fiction is nothing new, but publication is (I think) dated to the compilation of the whole work. But if you’ve posted each section of your novel to your blog as you write it, does it become compiled, and hence published the minute you post the last section?

This is a level of granularity that is impossible to monitor. The Hugo Awards Committee, consisting of mere men, cannot possibly monitor every avenue of publication under their very own definition of what constitutes published. It doesn’t even matter whether malfeasance is involved or not. Things will inevitably fall through the cracks in their omniscience, which makes their definition functionally useless.

Now, I’m a helpful sort of person, and I would be remiss if I sat here complaining about something’s inherent stupidity without providing a possible solution, so here is my idea:

Let date of first publication be set to the first association of an ISBN, ISSN, or registered copyright with a specific work.

This provides a simple, verifiable, and (most importantly) unarguable date of publication. It is accessible to any method of publishing: traditional, indie, or self publication. And it would put an end to the pointless bickering caused by wishy washy subjective guidelines.

 

Kevin Standlee on Fandom Is My Way of Life

“Worldcon Supporting Memberships Aren’t Pure Profit” – April 22

There are people on all sides of Puppygate who are talking blissfully about the vast sums of money that must be flowing into the coffers of Sasquan, the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention?. By the look of some of the comments, you’d think that the committee must be building Unca Scrooge’s Money Bin on the banks of the Spokane River. Y’all need some perspective. I do not speak with inside information for this Worldcon on this subject. I speak as someone who chaired a Worldcon and had to sweat over a budget.

1. Despite what you may think, a Supporting membership is not 100% “profit” to the convention selling it. You may think, “Oh, it’s money for nothing at all!” (which is the argument people use to say it should be $5 or free), but it does cost the convention resources to service the membership. This is what’s known as variable cost: the amount the convention’s costs go up every time they sell a membership. That includes paper publications and postage expenses for every member who requests them, and that’s not trivial. In fact, for non-US-based members, it may well exceed the revenue realized on the membership. Another cost not considered is what the convention’s payment-processing system charges per membership. There are others. So while in most cases, a Supporting membership does help support the Worldcon by helping to pay some of the huge fixed overhead cost, it’s not like sending them $40 means $40 “profit.”

 

dfordoom onThe Politically Incorrect Australian

“why Sad Puppies (and Rabid Puppies) matter” – April 21

One thing that both Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies were very careful to do was to play strictly within the rules. Their intention was to demonstrate that the leftists controlling the awards had been bending the rules for years in order to ensure that only leftist-approved authors could win, so it was obviously essential for Sad Puppies/Rabid Puppies to be scrupulous about not breaking any rules.

And despite the unhinged claims of the leftists that the Sad Puppies/Rabid Puppies were aiming to ensure that only evil white heterosexual patriarchal males would get nominated both the Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies included works by women, blacks and even (gasp!) liberals among their recommendations.

The assumption behind both the SP and RP campaigns was that the leftist bullies running the Hugos would hysterically overreact to any threat to their cosy little club. Which is of course exactly what happened. The leftists responded with a vicious hate campaign, with intimidation of moderates and will libelous personal attacks.

You might be wondering why any of this matters. It matters for two reasons. Firstly, the whole affair has been a superb microcosm of the culture wars, revealing in a very clear manner the lengths to which leftists will go in order to keep control. And secondly, while this might be a very minor battlefield on a very obscure front of the culture wars it’s one of the very very few battlefields on which conservatives are actually taking the offensive.

 

Alex Lamb on The Tinker Point

“On Ostracism” –  April

Is there a solution? I am biassed, of course, but I would propose that the US borrow one from Britain: derision. By which I mean satire, mockery, teasing and all other forms of social reconciliation through mirth. It is not a surprise that social institutions like the Daily Show have become so valued in American society of late. They are badly needed and in short supply.

I believe that both sides in the Hugos debate, and in American society at large, need to set down their sense of outraged affront as rapidly as possible and start mocking each other instead. Mocking and accepting mockery in return. And if we find ourselves able to laugh at our own side from time to time, then we know that the healing has started. And after healing comes the potential for real, cohesive social change.

 

 

PZ Myers on Freethought Blogs

“A musical interlude, courtesy of Owl Mirror, on the Hugos” – April 22

[First two of seven stanzas]

They sentenced me to Less-Than-“No Award”-dom

For trying to game the system from within

I’m coming now, I’ll show them “No Award”-dom

First we take their rockets, then we bite their shins

 

I am guided by a voice from out of Heaven

I’m guided by my hatred of their sins

I’m guided by the beauty of our weapons

First we take their rockets, then we bite their shins

 

 

 

Growls of the Day 4/12

Will George R.R. Martin accept Vox Day’s challenge to debate? John C. Wright asks, “Did I get too many nominations?” and names folks he thinks are guiltier of that than he is.

Kevin Standlee warns the future is now — while David Steffen proposes the Mulligan Awards to supply the do-over some fans already want.

Wil Wheaton says “Me, too” about George R.R. Martin’s “Tone” piece, then gets smacked by John Skylar for his trouble.

That and more in today’s roundup.

Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“Show or skedaddle” – April 12

I think it would be more interesting to debate your demand for no tolerance of hatespeech and the proper limits of free speech. There is also the strange contention that Requires Hate and I “are twins. Mirror images of one another.” You made the assertion. You have neither recanted nor apologized for it. Therefore, it seems a reasonable subject of honest dialogue and debate, given that I very much disagree with the assertion. Alternatively, we could debate the long term ramifications of the No Award tactic, the quality of the 2015 Best Novel shortlist compared to past Hugo shortlists, or any other aspect of Puppygate that you might find interesting.

The point, Mr. Martin, is that you said debate and honest dialogue are important. You are one of the biggest and best-known figures who claims to be on the side of those you call “the good guys” in SF fandom. I am the Supreme Dark Lord of the Evil Legion of Evil and a rising figure in science fiction. If you cannot bother to engage in honest dialogue with me, then why should any of the less famous, less notorious, less influential individuals on either side of the ideological divide in science fiction bother to do so either?

I’m entirely comfortable with the idea of an open, all-out ideological war. War-War is intrinsically more entertaining than Talk-Talk, after all. Are you?

Now, it’s possible that you didn’t mean what you wrote. It’s possible that you are just another posturing SJW, who puffs and preens and bluffs until he is called out, then promptly runs away. Many of my readers, who are also your readers, believe that. But I’m willing to give you the benefit of the doubt that you transparently were not willing to give me.

 

John C. Wright

“Did I Get Too Many Nominations?” – April 11

I am not so impertinent as to dispute the tastes or judgment of the fans who ponied up the money and took the time to nominated me. They are my employers; their word is my law.

So far, in this tempest in a teardrop (it is too small for my teapot) there has been exactly one of my detractors who claimed my work was undeserving of notice, but countless detractors calling me a racist misogynist bigot ballotbox-stuffing flying purple people eater.

I will leave the flying purple people eating accusations unanswered for now, because they are trivial, irrelevant and stupid.

As to those who claim that we are introducing foreigners, gamergaters, or the unwashed masses into the pristine tower of science fiction, the numbers speak for themselves. We can take the Amazon rankings of books as a rough measure of the popularity of a work.

 

Aaron Hughes on Fantastic Reviews Blog

“IT’S MADNESS!” – April 11

I think the reason the conservative press has been so wrong about this is these are people used to analyzing political issues, and the Hugo Awards are NOT a political contest, at least they weren’t until this year. I offered this analogy:

For a lot of science fiction and fantasy fans, the Hugo Awards are a highlight of the year, like March Madness to a big college basketball fan. Imagine some right-wingers were upset because they believed the NCAA selection committee had disfavored conservative evangelical schools in the past. And they managed to get a group of their people on the selection committee. So all the fans eagerly awaiting the bracket announcement are shocked and outraged to see that the tournament doesn’t include Kentucky or Duke or Wisconsin or 23 of the AP Top 25 teams. They’ve all been left out in favor of Bob Jones U., Liberty U., etc.

There would be a giant controversy, and the people who caused it would claim that it’s all part of the liberal vs. conservative culture war. But it is not. It’s a war between college basketball fans and the fucking assholes who wrecked March Madness.

 

Peter Grant on Bayou Renaissance Man

“The Hugo Awards controversy: a personal response” – April 12

I find my overwhelming emotion over this whole fuss to be one of profound sadness.  I honestly think that the extremists on both sides are callously and deliberately prepared to destroy the Hugo Awards – their credibility, meaningfulness and historical status – rather than see a different viewpoint win out.  To my mind, this is far beyond any question of motive or political persuasion.  It calls into question the basic sanity of those involved.

You see, I’ve personally experienced what happens when an entire society – an entire nation – gets caught up in ideological extremes.  I’ve seen – with my own eyes – left-wing terrorist bombs that shattered the bodies and destroyed the lives of the innocent.  I’ve seen right-wing terrorists respond in precisely the same measure.  I’ve helped to pick up the pieces of the bodies afterwards (and I mean that literally).  I’m not going to go into detail about the atrocities I’ve seen, heard, felt, smelled . . . the memories haunt me still, and sometimes move me to tears without warning as faces come flooding back into my mind.  (I’m blessed beyond measure to have a wife who accepts me despite those memories, and does her best to help me deal with them when they rear their indescribably ugly heads.)

 

Kevin Standlee on Fandom Is My Way of Life

“You Only Get One Shot at the 2015 Hugo Awards” – April 11

Among all of the shouting over the 2015 Hugo Awards “Puppygate” and the calls to vote No Award is floating around something procedurally pernicious and that I encourage anyone who sees it to stamp out. That is the assumption that if the members of this year’s Worldcon vote “No Award” on everything or substantially everything on the Hugo Awards ballot, that’s okay because “the Retro-Hugos will cover it” or “Worldcon can hold a new election for 2015 next year.” Both of these wrong….

So don’t let people talk you into voting No Award solely because you think that there will be some sort of do-over in 2016 or 2065 or whatever. It’s not going to happen. As with any Hugo Awards election, I would encourage any member to use his/her right to vote No Award when you think that the candidates you rank below it or leave off your ballot don’t deserve to be on that ballot, but don’t do it just because you think you’ll get a second chance with a new set of nominees.

 

Tom Mays on the Improbable Author

“Labels, Libels, Hugos and the Future” – April 11

Ideologically and in terms of taste and preference in stories, I side with the Sad Puppies, but I’m not of the opinion all the Hugo and Nebula winners of the past won unjustly. I don’t necessarily agree there was a secret, organized cabal manipulating the Hugos from behind the scenes, but I have no evidence either way to refute the personal experiences many of the Puppies say they’ve seen and endured. My personnel belief is that there may have been some manipulation, but the main reason the awards have increasingly gone to “liberal” works (and a shit-load of Doctor Who) is that WorldCon is a self-selecting electorate. Con-goers and con-volunteers appear to skew progressive around the country. Sometimes SF/F cons represent the only place folks can safely let their freak flag fly. WorldCon may represent a convention which has allowed that skewing to become entrenched, with progressives taking and keeping leadership roles, then slowly pushing conservatives to the fringe, consciously or subconsciously making them unwelcome or unappreciated. Power concentrates. As that happens, votes for classic-plot SF/F fall off and votes for socially progressive SF/F that reaches past current norms and boundaries rises, especially if the voters can exhibit their sense of social justice and commitment to diversity by awarding them to authors of color, female authors, LBTGQ authors, etc. It was less a conspiracy than a clique, all trying to one-up one another. And if you look at the abysmally low number of voters that usually participate in the Hugos, it doesn’t take much to forever lock the awards into a one-sided bias as strong as a conspiratorial cabal.

 

George R.R. Martin on Not A Blog

“One Nice Night” – April 12

With all that being said, it’s nice sometimes to restore one’s faith in humanity, and I did some of that last night at my theatre. Magician Francis Menotti was performing at the Cocteau, and I went down to catch his act. Francis was wonderfully entertaining, and the crowd was great too. Old people, young people, kids, black people and white people and brown people, men and women, all ooohing and aaahing at the magic and laughing at the jokes, enjoying adult beverages (well, not the children) like our famous Burning Tumblewheel and our new White Walkers. They all came out smiling, and lots of them stopped afterwards in the bar to chat with me and Francis. One young couple were making their first visit to Santa Fe; they had just gotten engaged, and the two of them were bright-eyed and excited and glowing. Made me feel good just to meet them.

That’s what worldcons used to be like. Should be like. Could be like again.

Last night restored my faith in people, a little. It’s not fandom that’s toxic. It’s the internet.

 

PZ Myers on Freethought Blogs

“The Sad Puppies are goddamned idiots” – April 9

And science fiction has always been this way. It’s always been a genre of new ideas and experimentation. It’s not like all of a sudden in the 2000s a few social radicals have hijacked the field and sent it off into wild new directions, discombobulating all of their readers. They’ve always done that. It’s got a readership that loves being discombobulated and twisting their brains around strangeness.

I see someone accusing authors of “defrauding” their readership because they are creative and explore novel ideas and think about more than just the gobbledygook pseudomechanics they’ll use to make their spaceships fly, and I see the real fraud: that is a person who does not understand science fiction and fantasy in the slightest.

 

R. Jean Mathieu on R. Jean Mathieu’s Innerspace

“On the Hugos and Positive Censorship” – April 12

I have discovered that most of the Valiant Sixty, the original Quakers, were anti-Semite, Islamophobic, and anti-pagan. But they, too, like Dr. King, Bob Heinlein, Orson Scott Card, Tom Jefferson, and Woody Allen, like, if you wish, Malcolm X and Confucius and Sun Tzu and Gandhi, have an inner light. And while corrupted by their frailties, their work can and does transcend them, so that Jefferson can write “all men are created equal” and Card can write Petra and Barclay and Penington and Penn and Fox can write that “all who are brought into the world have that of God inside them, whatever their externals in creed or color.” Transcending the writer and the reader is what writing is for.

When Ender’s Game hit stores, I watched the very female clerk recommend it to a family, speaking knowingly of both the book and the movie. When I asked how she could, she shrugged and said “if I only read people I could agree with, I wouldn’t have anything to read.” Knowing her politics later, I concurred that she was right.

I do not care what the author has done, or what she believes, I care about the work. Is the work good? Does the author destroy the work by injecting ideology, as Heinlein does after Stranger in a Strange Land (and even Stranger gets iffy)? Does the author’s ideology befog their minds, so that Jack London can only write worshipful, inferior Peoples of Color or “credits to their race”? Does the author commit both errors at once, and so write Perdido Street Station?

 

Mark Ciocco on Kaedrin weblog

“Link Dump: Hugo Reactions” – April 12

This will most likely be my last post on the subject, though I suspect I’ll get pulled back in depending on how recklessly No Award is deployed in the final tally. For the record, I think Sad Puppies 3 was far more successful than anyone thought (which includes them) and as such, I’m going to be somewhat leery of slates in the future (my preference would be for Sad Puppies 4 to simply encourage participation and maybe include an open post about eligible books as opposed to a straight slate). I have a hard time believing most of the conspiracies being thrown around, and am emphatically against the abuse that’s been generated (which goes both ways). I don’t like guilt by association and generally assume good faith in participants. Many nominees are being thrown under a bus for petty reasons, and that seems silly to me. As always, I plan to read and vote accordingly.

 

David Steffen on Diabolical Plots

“Announcing The Mulligan Awards” – April 11

HOW DO I NOMINATE FOR THE MULLIGANS?

You already have or haven’t.  The nominations will be based on Hugo nomination numbers rather than being a completely separate procedure.  Each year the Hugo committee publishes a list of the top 15 nominees with voting counts for each one.  The Mulligan nominations start with the Hugo nomination list, but estimates what the top 5 would be in the absence of the voting bloc.

How will it do this?  Well, since the bloc has succeeded so thoroughly in sweeping the ballot, this implies that the members of the group followed their leader’s orders and voted slavishly for everything suggested.  This should make them easier to spot in the nomination numbers because there will be some things from the voting bloc’s slate that didn’t get votes from anyone else, or almost no one else.  That lowest number will give an estimate of how many actually followed orders–the lowest rather than the highest because some of the voting bloc’s choices may have been popular in their own right, and perhaps could have made it on the Hugo ballot without collusion.  Then, by subtracting the estimated bloc count from all of the nominees that came from the bloc’s slate, that will be a rough estimate of what the ballot would look like without the bloc’s effects.

 

Steve Davidson on Amazing Stories

“What A Mess” – April 11

This concerted, seemingly coordinated effort to attack the No Award idea suggests that the slate voting is vulnerable to it.  In other words – if it weren’t a concern to the puppy folks (of whatever breed), they’d be harping on something else.

Let’s be clear, when I say the voting No Award idea I mean voting against slates:  where a category is completely slate-derived, place No Award in the number one slot and nothing else on the ballot;  where a category is comprised of both slate and non-slate works, give the non-slate works due consideration, place them on the ballot if you think they deserve to be, in whatever order you choose and then stick No Award immediately below them.

 

Jamie Todd Rubin

“To my friends and fellow fans who might not be able to afford a Worldcon membership” – April 11

Part of the fun of the World Science Fiction Convention is being able to vote on your favorite works from the previous year, and that $40 supporting membership is difficult for some folks. If you can afford, it, I encourage you to get a supporting membership. If you can’t afford one, shoot me an email at feedback [at] jamietoddrubin [dot] com with your contact information. Also, because of the controversy surrounding the Hugo Awards this year, I want to be clear that for folks who get these supporting membership: please don’t feel constrained in your vote. Participation in the fan process is all that I am hoping for.

Next week, I’ll pick the 5 names randomly from the requests that I get, and buy the memberships through the Sasquan website on their behalf.

 

Wil Wheaton on Wil Wheaton dot Tumblr

“George R.R. Martin is currently writing” – April 12

George R.R. Martin is currently writing an absolutely phenomenal series of posts about the Sad Puppy dickwagons who have utterly destroyed the Hugo Awards (at least for this year, and possibly forever) because they are self-appointed right wing culture warriors.

It is very much worth reading, especially as a part of the history of the culture wars being forcibly injected into literally everything in the world by time-rich and determined assholes who just can’t handle the reality that the world is changing to be more diverse and inclusive.

But even if you don’t read it (and you really should), look at this from a post on his Livejournal (it is a testament to how much I like and respect George that I am not making a single Livejournal joke right now). That’s George R.R. Martin using the Greyjoy icon in his post. He’s using it the same way any of us would use it, except that he’s George R.R. Motherfucking Martin and he invented it.

 

John Skylar on Talebearing

“wilwheaton” – April 12

Let me ask you, wilwheaton: DID YOU NOMINATE FOR THE HUGOS?  If you did, more power to you.  If not, stop calling the SPs dickwagons and own up to your responsibility for this outcome.

I’d also like to point out the irony of Wil appending the phrase “dickwagon” to his post here while linking a post by GRR Martin saying how we need to maintain a civil tone in opposing the SP objectives because it will better sell the message that the SPs are problematic.  Good job missing the point.  But I digress.  I was discussing taking responsibility.

I’ll own up to mine: I didn’t nominate for the Hugos this year.  I didn’t have the disposable income, or at the very least, didn’t have enough that I thought it would be valuable to nominate.  And you know what?  I’m hitting myself for it now, because I oppose the SP agenda and I think they’ve compromised the literary merits of the award.

 

Brad R. Torgersen

“Flaming rage nozzles of tolerance” – April 12

Remember, the doctrine of the self-blamers. They believe everyone is born to hurt. You hurt people even when you are not hurting anyone. Your very existence hurts someone somewhere — at least if you are classified (according to the heirarchy of hurters) as being a prime source of psychic wounding.

So, either you get on-script, rip your shirt, beat your chest, and go on the attack against others, or the commissars will turn you into a target.

Last week Larry Correia and I were caught being fatally off-script.

The commissars (always self-designated) and their media enablers, reacted with knee-jerk efficiency.

 

Damien G. Walter

The Only Thing You Need To Do To Fix The Hugos – April 11

The Hugo awards do not need to be fixed. They are doing what awards are, in part, there to do. Providing an arena for the debates that in turn power change. Some rather loud, selfish men are shouting their half of the debate. Good. The mass of people who might otherwise have stood silent on the sidelines have been motivated to act against them. Let the Puppies shout and bellow as long and as loud as they like. The actual changes that will follow their actions are not likely to please them at all. Publishers aren’t racing out to buy more books with space rockets by right wing reactionaries. Quite the opposite. Readers aren’t being persuaded of the joys of old school sci-fi by having it rudely thrust in their faces. Quite the opposite. In contrast, the issue of diversity has this year been spot welded to the Hugo awards by the laser beams of focused outrage. And that’s no bad thing.