2017 Salam Award for Imaginative Fiction

The winner of the inaugural Salam Award for Imaginative Fiction was announced September 27. The new short story award is intended to “promote science fiction and related genres of writing in Pakistan.”

Winner

  • Firuza Pastakia for her story The Universe is a Conscientious Gardener

Finalists

The two other finalists were:

  • Saniya Kamal for her story The Last Interview of Lara Khalid
  • Nur Ibrahim for her story Against the Dust

Honorable Mentions

  • Jawziya Zaman  – Contagion
  • Taimoor Ahmad – Noor
  • Laila Kasuri  – Balochi Bots – The Adventures of Omar Jamshed
  • Maira Asaad – Rootless
  • Faraz Talat – Symptoms of Prejudice
  • Zain Rashid Mian – The Short Life of Ali Lakri
  • Saadia Pathan – Sunless

The Salam Award for Imaginative Fiction is named for Dr. Albus Salam, one of the pioneers of science in Pakistan.

Dr. Abdus Salam

Eligible for consideration were original, previously unpublished English-language stories of 10,000 words or less by persons residing in Pakistan, or of Pakistani birth/descent. The initial award announcement said the winner will receive a cash prize of Rs 50,000, a review by an established literary agent, a review from a professional editor, with the potential for publication by Tor.com.

The 2017 award judges were Jeff VanderMeer, Usman Malik, and Mahvesh Murad.

Malik wrote after the winner was announced, “We received a robust number of entries and were quite impressed by the quality of the longlist we ended up with. The stories were blinded (none of the judges knew the names or genders of the writers).”

Next year’s editor and agent reviewers will be Diana Pho of Tor and Jennie Goloboy of Red Sofa Literary respectively. The judges for 2018 will be announced later this year.

HWA on Bram Stoker Award Jury Controversy

Horror Writers of America President Lisa Morton responded on Facebook to the public controversy about a Bram Stoker Award jury member’s political views.

I have asked both HWA’s Board of Trustees and the chair of our Diverse Works Inclusion Committee to advise on a recent situation surrounding a member who is serving on a Bram Stoker Award jury who holds certain political views. After considerable discussion and research, here is the official response:

The HWA does not support discrimination of any kind, including discrimination based on political views. Not only is this form of discrimination specifically illegal in a number of U.S. states, HWA’s Board of Trustees also does not believe it’s in keeping with our principle of supporting and practicing freedom of expression. In specific regard to HWA’s Bram Stoker Award juries, the HWA will certainly act if/when a juror’s personal views have a provable impact/bias against a writer or his/her works.

Thank you to everyone who has voiced concern over this issue, especially those who have taken the time to contact me privately.

David A. Riley announced on his blog last week that he had joined the Bram Stoker Award Jury for anthologies. Some colleagues took issue, asserting Riley is a white supremacist who was once part of the UK’s National Front.

The HWA appointment became news at a point when questions were already being asked of Riley due to his involvement in the relaunch of Weirdbook. Riley reportedly answered in a no-longer-available Facebook thread. The davidandrewrileyisafascist Tumblr hosts a screeshot of the comment, which says in part:

I think I need to put the record straight. Yes, I was in the National Front for ten year from 1973 to the middle of 1983. During that time I never regarded the party as fascist, though it did have minority elements within it that undoubtedly were. …I have never regarded myself as a fascist, and certainly not a nazi. The term ‘white supremacist’ is one I don’t recognise and certainly repudiate. If you saw me associating with my ethnically diverse neighbours in Bulgaria you would not level that at me then. I know this will not convince some people, and, quite honestly, I accept that….

The relationship between Riley’s past political views and organizing activity, and his current views, and whether he should be serving on a HWA awards jury, are now subjects of intense discussion. HWA President Morton’s statement indicates no action will be taken unless “a juror’s personal views have a provable impact/bias against a writer or his/her works.”

Paul St. John Mackintosh’s take on Riley is less negative than most — “The other current genre controversy: The David A. Riley Feud” at TeleRead.

I chose some words carefully there because, as may be obvious, I think the most charitable interpretation that can be put on this is that Riley must have been exceptionally naive to conclude that the NF wasn’t racist or fascistic in its tendencies from the start. I certainly had no such illusions growing up in the UK in the 1970s. Even if there was definite infiltration by more extreme neo-Nazis during the 1970s, the party was founded with the aid of such delightful people as the Racial Preservation Society to oppose immigration and multiculturalism in Britain.

That said, Riley left the NF and is no longer associated with it – to my knowledge at least – or to any active right-wing group, and again, as far as I know, doesn’t project significantly racist views in his current work, even to whatever degree H.P. Lovecraft did in his. (Although for some possible past concerns, see here.) Quite a few significant writers of impeccable left-wing pedigree, including Samuel R. Delany and Charles Stross, are still his friends on Facebook. Maybe they’ll change their minds now, but we’ll see. I’m one too, for now, partly to keep track of what’s going on, but also because after what happened, I feel like making a stand on the issue of personal conscience here….

Plus, if Riley can’t turn around and repent his past follies, what hope is there for any of us? Maybe he hasn’t – but quite enough people seem to have concluded that once a fascist always a fascist, and damned him eternally. And Riley’s verdict on his own past may have been less than 100 percent convincing, but others obviously didn’t wait to read that before condemning him. And for opponents of virulent racism and poisonous attitudes, there are enough all-too-live and current targets to go after, without dredging up moribund and past ones.

Nick Mamatas classifies Riley as a fascist and contends he should be removed from the awards jury.

Some notes on the recent drama in the Horror Writers Association (of which I am no longer a member) and their appointment of fascist David A Riley to the award jury. This is a public post. My FB is not normally public….

1a. Liberals confuse this idea with a broader idea that unpleasant people are unpleasant and thus should be excluded from pleasant activities. This is the core of the slippery slope arguments around no-platforming. If the answer to “Where does it end?” isn’t “Where it begins; with fascism”, the argument to no-platform will never be consistently won, especially in groups like HWA, which have intrinsic and correct allegiances to freedom of expression and diversity of thought. The sad fact of this political juncture is that neither the mainstream liberal or conservative factions are interested in free expression—only the smarter elements of the far left and the less stupid bits of the libertarian right are. Fascism is a particular and singular exception, and even then, the state should not be involved in limiting speech—it’s up to activists to militantly defend creative milieux against fascism….

3. What’s the harm? Editors and publishers submit work to the jury. One need not be HWA members to submit work. I’ve submitted stories by Japanese authors, and my Japanese anthologies as a whole, in past years. Why would I do that if I know that one of the members considers Asians to be necessarily inferior? I was also published in an anthology called CALEDONIA DREAMIN’ with a theme of celebrating the Scots language, a few years ago—why submit work from that book to a juror who belongs to a group that believes that Scottish independence is a trick by EU “string-pullers” and “traitors” in Westminster, and that the Scots language is illegitimate? Fascists make bad jury members for reasons that should be obvious to anyone who ever noticed names like, oh, “Klein” on their bookshelves.

(Mamatas also feels people who quote his post should oblige by plugging his book The Last Weekend: A Novel of Zombies, Booze, and Power Tools.)

Many writers have commented on Lisa Morton’s open Facebook thread. Usman Tanveer Malik and Kate Jonez thoughtfully expressed divergent viewpoints.

Usman Tanveer Malik:

The HWA is a supposedly professional For Writers entity, correct? How can an organization that professes non-discrimination ascertain that a person with a history of fascism will not be biased when it comes to making selections from works of potential merit? Like Nick Mamatas points out, why should I as a writer or editor submit my work to a jury that has doubled down on including and retaining a known white supremacist–esp. when any psychologist will tell you bias and human error creep into every operative system? The bigger the bias, the more unstable the operation and the more suspect the results. Moreover, by excusing the past history of a supremacist/fascist and allowing them a position of power, the message we’re sending is quite clear: we the organization are condoning such behavior and actors of such behavior.

Kate Jonez:

I am just a member so my opinion is just that. I am on the diversity committee and have volunteered for other jobs in the HWA I encourage others to join and work for what you think the organization should be. I would very much like to see a documented racist removed from the jury. I just don’t see how to do it.

Free speech is tricky territory. It always has been. To believe in it, a person has to hear a lot of crap that he or she would rather not. As a private organization the HWA could remove any member or juror they choose. As an HWA member I would very much like that all racists be out of the organization. I’d really like them to be removed from the US… the world.

Like many other organizations the HWA has chosen to support free speech. This forces them to accept situations that many members would prefer not to accept. The HWA can and has removed jurors who can be documented as instigating violence or making threats, but vetting jurors’ political background is outside the scope of a writers’ organization. Who else should be removed? Should the HWA remove people who’ve spoken out against Syrian refugees, anyone who has a negative position on Affirmative Action, anyone been accused or convicted of domestic violence, anyone who has voted against gay marriage? I personally would be happy never to hear opinions from people holding these views. I don’t think people who think this way are capable of making informed decisions any more that white supremacist/fascists are. I believe many HWA members feel the same way. Unfortunately, that’s not how free speech works. How do you get rid of abhorrent ideas and maintain intellectual freedom? I truly would like an answer to this.

Pixel Scroll 1/3 The Man from P.I.X.E.L.

coverWARP932 Keith Braithwaite

(1) BRAITHWAITE RESTORES CLASSIC ARTWORK. Gracing the cover of Warp #93, the Montreal Science Fiction and Fantasy Association clubzine, is this superlative painting —

The Doctor and his Companion, by Claude Monet (oil on canvas, 1875), a painting dating from a most fertile phase of the renowned French Impressionist’s career, was recently discovered in the attic of a house in Argenteuil in which Monet lived in the 1870s. Little is known of the subjects depicted as the artist left no notes as to their identity or relationship to him. No particulars on the gentleman or lady are to be found, either, in the local historical records of the time and the odd structure beside which the gentleman is standing remains a puzzle. Civic records offer no indication that such a structure ever existed, as if this curious blue box simply appeared out of thin air, and then disappeared just as mysteriously. The title of the work gives us our only clue as to the two subjects, suggesting that the gentleman was, perhaps, a medical doctor travelling with a female relative, Fiancée, or mistress. MonSFFA’s own Keith Braithwaite worked on the restoration of the painting.

(2) BLUE PEOPLE BEWARE. Yahoo! Movies reports “’The Force Awakens’ Barreling Toward ‘Avatar’Record”.

The space opera sequel is moving up the all-time domestic box office charts at a record clip and now is poised to overtake those pointy eared blue aliens as the top grossing film in history. Avatar earned $760.5 million during its stateside run and Star Wars: The Force Awakens has generated $740.4 million domestically after picking up $88.3 million over New Year’s weekend. It should take the crown from Avatar early next week.

(3) AXANAR DECONSTRUCTED. (There’s that word again. I hope I know what it means…) John Seavey at Mightygodking has created a FAQ about the Paramount/CBS lawsuit against Axanar Productions:

Q: Then why are they being sued? Paramount allows lots of these things, don’t they?

A: Oh, yeah. “Star Trek Renegades”, “Star Trek: Of Gods and Men”, “Star Trek Continues”…basically, it seems like as long as nobody’s making any money, Paramount turns a blind eye to these fan films.

Q: But this one they wouldn’t? Why?

A: Well, there is the fact that, in an update on Axanar’s Indigogo campaign, they said, “EVERYTHING costs more when you are a professional production and not a fan film. All of this and more is explained, along with our budget of how we spent the money in the Axanar Annual Report.”

And in that latest annual budget report, they said, “First and foremost, it is important to remember that what started out as a glorified fan film is now a fully professional production. That means we do things like a studio would. And of course, that means things cost more. We don’t cut corners. We don’t ask people to work full time for no pay. And the results speak for themselves.”

And:

“Please note that we are a professional production and thus RUN like a professional production. That means our full time employees get paid. Not much honestly, but everyone has bills to pay and if you work full time for Axanar, you get paid.

Also, no other fan film has production insurance like we do. We pay $ 12,000 a year for that. Again, a professional production.”

Also, in their Indiegogo FAQ, they had this little gem:

“Q: What is Axanar Productions?

Axanar is not just an independent Star Trek film; it is the beginning of a whole new way that fans can get the content they want, by funding it themselves. Why dump hundreds or thousands of dollars a year on 400 cable channels, when what you really want is a few good sci-fi shows? Hollywood is changing. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and other providers are redefining content delivery, and Axanar Productions/Ares Studios hopes to be part of that movement.”

Which kind of contradicts the “fan film” statement.

(4) WILL SMITH’S CHARACTER IS LATE. John King Tarpinian imagines the conversation went like this: “You want how much?  Sorry but your character just died.” In a Yahoo! News interview,  “Will Smith Says It Was Terrible When He Found Out His Independence Day Character Died”.

Will Smith found it unpleasant to learn that the fat lady had sung on Steven Hiller, the character he played in 1996’s Independence Day. “It was terrible when I found out my character died,” Smith told Yahoo.

Hiller’s death was revealed on a viral site for Independence Day: Resurgence. “While test piloting the ESD’s first alien hybrid fighter, an unknown malfunction causes the untimely death of Col. Hiller,” the site’s timeline reads. “Hiller’s valor in the War of ’96 made him a beloved global icon whose selfless assault against the alien mothership lead directly to the enemy’s defeat. He is survived by his wife Jasmine and his son Dylan.” You can see an image of Hiller’s fiery death by clicking here.

(5) ALL KNIGHT. Admiring Fred Kiesche’s Damon Knight quote in a comment here, Damien G. Walter tweeted —

(6) HE FIGURES. Camestros Felapton forays into toy design with his new “Hugo” brand “Stage Your Own Kerfuffle”  figures….

(7) JEFFRO MOVES UP. Vox Day is delegating management of the Castalia House blog to “The new sheriff in town”, Jeffro Johnson:

As Castalia House has grown, it has become increasingly difficult to balance my responsibilities as Lead Editor and as the manager of this blog. Because Castalia House shoots for excellence across the board, I have decided that it is time to step back and hand over my responsibilities for this blog to someone else.

And who is better suited to take it over than one of the very best bloggers in science fiction and gaming? I am absolutely delighted to announce that the Castalia House blogger, author of the epic Chapter N series, and 2015 Hugo nominee for Best Fan Writer, Jeffro Johnson, has agreed to accept the position of Blog Editor at Castalia House.

(8) ARISTOTLE. That leaves Vox Day more time to orchestrate his winter offensive. His first target is File 770 commenter Lis Carey.

Even I occasionally forget how fragile these psychologically decrepit specimens are. Anyhow, it’s a good reminder to ALWAYS USE RHETORIC on them. They’re vulnerable to it; they can’t take it. That’s why they resort to it even when it doesn’t make sense in the context of a discussion, because they are trying to make you feel the emotional pain that they feel whenever they are criticized.

Day is developing a Goodreads author page, and Carey mentioned yesterday she had already seen early signs of activity:

Ah, this may explain a recent comment on one of my reviews of last year’s Hugo nominees–and means maybe I can expect more.

The particular comments were on her review of Castalia House’s Riding The Red Horse.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 3, 1841 — Herman Melville ships out on the whaler Acushnet to the South Seas.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born January 3, 1892 – J.R.R. Tolkien, honored by Emily Asher-Perrin at Tor.com:

But of course, the world remembers Tolkien for changing the fantasy genre forever. By penning The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien set a framework for fantasy literature that countless authors have attempted to recapture over the years. The creation of Middle-earth, from its languages to its poetry to its rich cultural history and varied peoples, was an astounding feat of imagination that no one had managed before with such detail and ardent care.

(11) SEMIPROZINES. Camestros Felapton continues moving through the alphabet in his “Semiprozine Round-Up: Cs and Ds”.

Keeping on going in the Cs and Ds of semiprozines.

  • The Cascadia Subduction Zone
  • The Colored Lens
  • Crossed Genres Magazine
  • Daily Science Fiction
  • The Dark Magazine
  • Diabolical Plots

(12) PARTS NOT TAKEN. “Leonardo DiCaprio Reflects On Turning Down Anakin Skywalker And Two SuperHero Roles” at ScienceFiction.com:

And it’s a philosophy that has led to him turning down parts in some guaranteed smashes and lots of cha-ching.  He recently revealed that he actually met with George Lucas, but ultimately passed on playing Anakin Skywalker in the ‘Star Wars’ prequels.

“I did have a meeting with George Lucas about that, yes.  I just didn’t feel ready to take that dive. At that point.”

Around this time, DiCaprio instead chose to make ‘Gangs of New York’ and ‘Catch Me If You Can’, the latter of which earned him a Golden Globe nomination.

Still he must be kicking himself.  The role instead went to Hayden Christiansen and look at how his career took… oh, ahem.  Nevermind.

(13) REMEMBERING BAEN. While researching another post, I rediscovered David Drake’s 2006 tribute to the late Jim Baen, who had just recently passed. Shortly before Baen’s death the two were on the phone and Baen asked, “You seem to like me. Why?” The answer is rather touching.

And then I thought further and said that when I was sure my career was tanking–

You thought that? When was that?”

In the mid ’90s, I explained, when Military SF was going down the tubes with the downsizing of the military. But when I was at my lowest point, which was very low, I thought, “I can write two books a year. And Jim will pay me $20K apiece for them–”

“I’d have paid a lot more than that!”

And I explained that this wasn’t about reality: this was me in the irrational depths of real depression. And even when I was most depressed and most irrational, I knew in my heart that Jim Baen would pay me enough to keep me alive, because he was that sort of person. He’d done that for Keith Laumer whom he disliked, because Laumer had been an author Jim looked for when he was starting to read SF.

I could not get so crazy and depressed that I didn’t trust Jim Baen to stand by me if I needed him. I don’t know a better statement than that to sum up what was important about Jim, as a man and as a friend.

(14) PEACE IN OUR TIME. In “The Stormbunnies and Crybullies”, John C. Wright devotes over 2,000 words to making his closing offer irresistible in that special way only he knows how.

But I am a forgiving man, jovial and magnanimous. I make the following peace offer: Go your way. Cease to interfere with me and my livelihood, do your work, cease to libel me and meddle with my affairs, withhold your tongue from venom and your works from wickedness, and we shall all get along famously.

Otherwise, it is against my self interest to seek peace with you. Peace is a two sided affair: both parties must agree. So far only Mr. Martin has even expressed a desire for it.

(15) WHAT KEEPS YOU FROM WRITING? Nandini Balial at Pacific Standard helps writers name their fears — “Gremlins and Satyrs of Rejection: A Taxonomy of Writers’ Foes”

THE SATYRS OF MOUNT OUTLET: Like its cousin Olympus, Mount Outlet stretches far beyond human sight into luxurious billowy clouds. The work its satyrs produce is sharp and daring. Vast networks of bloggers, freelancers, and even reporters churn out viral but self-aware listicles, personal essays that make me cry more than they should, and short stories so good I’m inclined to simply put my pen away. On Twitter, their satyrs (editors) trade barbs and witticisms with the speed of a Gatling gun. A poor peasant like me may approach the foot of the mountain, but my tattered, unworthy scrolls and I will soon turn around and head home.

(16) PUBLISHING STINKS. Kristen Lamb, in “The Ugly Truth of Publishing & How BEST to Support Writers”, says don’t bother reviewing her books on Goodreads, because that’s where the trolls are:

Tweet a picture of our book. Put it on Facebook. People in your network ARE noticing. Peer review and approval is paramount in the digital age. And don’t support your favorite author on Goodreads as a first choice (AMAZON reviews are better). The only people hanging out on Goodreads for the most part are other writers and book trolls.

Support us on your regular Facebook page or Instagram or Twitter. Because when you post a great new book you LOVED your regular friends see that. When they get stranded in an Urgent Care or an airport? What will they remember? THAT BOOK. They won’t be on Goodreads. Trust me.

(17) DISSONANCE. After reading Kristen Lamb’s discouraging words, I encountered M. L. Brennan calling for everyone to get up and dance because Generation V earned out and what that means”. That’s not the next post I’d have expected to see, straight from leaving Lamb’s black-crepe-draped explanation of the publishing industry.

One thing to bear in mind, because it’s easy to lose sight of it when you look at that last paragraph — if I hadn’t received an advance, I wouldn’t have made more money on this book. I would still have earned $7615.78 on the series — except earning that first $7500 would have taken me two years, rather than being entirely in my pocket on the day that Generation V hit the bookstores. And that $7500 paid my mortgage, my electric bill, and other bills, which made it substantially easier for me to write. Without that advance, it would’ve taken me longer to write Iron Night, Tainted Blood, and even Dark Ascension, because I would’ve been having to hustle other work elsewhere and spend less time writing.

(18) NONE DARE CALL IT SF. Whether Joshua Adam Anderson styles himself an sf fan I couldn’t say (though he did take a course from Professor James Gunn), but his LA Review of Books article “Toward a New Fantastic: Stop Calling It Science Fiction” is a deep dive into the abyss of genre. His attempt to define (redefine?) science fiction is precisely what fans love.

LAST JULY, Pakistani science fiction writer Usman Malik published a clarion call for his home country. In it, he made the claim that “[e]ncouraging science fiction, fantasy, and horror readership has the potential to alleviate or fix many of Pakistan’s problems.” While it would be difficult to disagree with the idea that science fiction is a positive force in the world, many of Malik’s reasons for championing the genre are problematic. To begin with, Malik — along with just about everyone else — still, for some reason, calls “science fiction” science fiction. His essay actually contains a handful of reasons why we should stop calling it “science fiction,” and it also inadvertently addresses how and why we need to liberate ourselves from genre itself — and how “science fiction” can help us do just that.

(19) PLANNING BEGINS: Paul Johnson’s early word is that the event to honor his father, the late George Clayton Johnson, might be in February at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood.

P Johnson snip Egyptian

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Will R., Paul Weimer, Brian Z., and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

Puppy and Counter Puppy

A reader of the “Puppy Roundup” says fairness requires a corresponding set of links to sites with differing opinions. I agree.

As I searched the latest posts today, I made sure to clip from the full spectrum of opinions.

We begin with the lead dog —

Brad R. Torgersen

“The fear factor in SF/F publishing and fandom” – April 2

Now, maybe I am naive, but 23 years ago (when I first dreamed up the crazy idea to get into this business) I thought the field was a chummy place with overflowing camaraderie. The anecdotes of authors like Larry Niven certainly made it seem so. Worldcon (the World Science Fiction Convention) was touted as the epicenter of all things hip and cool and fun and amazing in the field. And I believe that it once was that, perhaps at a time when people weren’t so obsessed with correctness. When having a difference of opinion was not a sin that got you sent to the social media guillotine.

But that time is over.

This is the oh-so-correct 21st century. Where one of my colleagues can be moved to tears because she is terrified of expressing her Mormon values, lest her friends and peers in our business shun and shame her for not being correct. Where whether or not you can be successful with a publishing house depends on how chameleon-like you can become, in order to reflect back to the editor(s) the ideologies and allegiances those editor(s) want you to reflect. Where “social justice” has become a banner of immunity, justifying outlandish character assassination, baseless slander, and the ruining of reputations. Think I am kidding? Look what happened to Jean Rabe, Barry Malzberg, and Mike Resnick, when they were punished for using phrases like “lady editor” in a column about the history of the field. And those three are veterans of many decades! If they can get carved up like turkeys — by SFWA, the field’s so-called union for professionals — for the tiniest of perceived infractions, what hope is there for a new person?

 

Mike Resnick in a comment on Torgersen’s post:

Since my experience with the SFWA Bulletin was referred to above — and I think we were treated rudely and unfairly — I have to point out that the only consequence was to SFWA, which “suspended” the quarterly Bulletin and has published only one issue in the past year and a half. How did it affect me personally? In 2013, having just been cast adrift by the Bulletin, I sold 6 books (all to legitimate paying markets; I don’t self-publish…not yet, anyway), and took on the editorship of a new magazine, Galaxy’s Edge, and a new line of books, Stellar Guild. In 2014, I sold 4 more books and a screenplay, edited 6 issues of the magazine, and continued editing the book line. I write this on April 1 of 2015, and I have sold 2 books already this year. I remain the chairman of SFWA’s Anthology Committee. I have been Guest of Honor or Special Guest at 5 conventions in the past two years, which isn’t bad for a supposed pariah. Which is to say, they can -try- to harm you, but if you just ignore them and concentrate on what’s important, you’ll do okay. As for the other two Brad refers to, Jean Rabe is now my assistant editor at Galaxy’s Edge, and Barry Malzberg as a regular columnist there.

 

Nathaniel Givens on Difficult Run

“Hugogate 2015 Edition: Third Time’s The Charm” – April 2

If the victory of SP3 just meant a palace coup where one clique replaced another, that would be nothing to celebrate. And so you can see that I’ve saved the best for last. I’m not a partisan at heart, and the idea of the Hugos moving away from the ghetto of political insularity and becoming more mainstream (at least as far as sci-fi goes) is great. Not everything is coming up roses, of course. Correia, Hoyt, Torgersen, and others seem to think that nothing matters other than fun and popularity. I certainly think enjoyment matters, but I don’t think it’s the only metric that should be considered. I think sometimes important works–works that deserve recognition and awards–aren’t fun or enjoyable in any usual sense. But that is exactly the kind of quibbling I’d like to see happen where the Hugos are concerned instead of this knock-down, to-the-knife, existentialist ideological struggle that is happening right now.

 

Sarah Hoyt in a comment on Givens’ post:

Can’t speak for the other guys, but in my case, oh, hells no, I don’t mean just “fun” works should be nominated. I think COMPETENT works should be nominated though. What is the difference?

Well, take The Left Hand of Darkness for instance. I disagree with its rather obvious message. (Well, I’m a libertarian so the whole communal thing gets on my nerves, and also I was raised in Portugal and the Communal Child Raising thing is not all those who’ve never experienced it think it is) On many levels it is an SJW book.

OTOH it is a GOOD book. It not only works within its universe, but it poses questions that one can think about….

Now, I’d stay away from saying “uncomfortable” books SHOULD be nominated. The most uncomfortable book I ever read was The Man In The High Castle. It’s stayed with me despite my never re-reading it. The same could be said for 1984 and Brave new World. All those are worthy books. BUT if we take “makes me uncomfortable” as “Must be important” we risk nominating the equivalent of Piss Christ or the wall of vaginas over and over again — which arguably is exactly what’s happening.

 

Chris Gerrib on Private Mars Rocket

“Yet Another Round of Sad Puppies” – March 30

So, Teresa Nielsen Hayden has heard rumors that some of the Sad Puppies will be on the Hugo ballot. She’s concerned that some of the voters aren’t voting what they like, but rather a political slate. Since that’s what Sad Puppies accuse the rest of Hugo voters of doing, I’m not sure why they get upset about it. (Well, actually I am sure – nobody likes to be called a fraud. But the whole ‘do unto others as you would have done to you’ seems to be in short supply in this debate.)

“Guns on a Rainy Thursday” – April 2

I grow weary of the Sad Puppies, especially when one of them shouts from the rooftops that he’s so scared he can barely whisper. The butt-hurt is strong in that one.

 

Aaron Pound on Dreaming About Other Worlds

“Biased Opinion – Another Sad Puppy Fails History” – April 2

One of the dominant characteristics shared by Sad Puppy proponents is the lack of historical knowledge they display concerning the science fiction genre in general, and science fiction awards specifically. Sarah Hoyt decided to opine on the subject of the Sad Puppy campaign and talked about what kind of book she thinks should win the Hugos in a post titled By the Numbers.

[Sarah Hoyt] “Take as an example of something that should have won a Hugo but didn’t Barry Hughart’s Chinese trilogy….”

But what of Hoyt’s contention that Bridge of Birds is the sort of novel that should win the Hugo Award? Well, the only way to fairly assess this is to compare it to the other novels that were nominated in 1985, the year Bridge of Birds would have been eligible. When we look to see who won that year, we find that William Gibson won with his novel Neuromancer. And this is the point where the Sad Puppy contentions collapse in on themselves. I doubt you could find more than a tiny handful of people who would seriously argue that Bridge of Birds would have been a more deserving Hugo award winner than Neuromancer. When placed in context, the fact that Bridge of Birds did not win a Hugo Award is not only not surprising, it seems almost like a foregone conclusion. So when Hoyt says it “should have won a Hugo but didn’t” she is revealing her lack of knowledge and research on the subject.

Perhaps might contend that Bridge of Birds should have received at least a Hugo nomination. To evaluate this, one must look to the other nominees from 1985. Fortunately, the Hugo awards have kept good records since the late 1950s, so we know who the other nominees for the award were in 1985. They were:

Emergence by David R. Palmer

The Integral Trees by Larry Niven

Job: A Comedy of Justice by Robert A. Heinlein

The Peace War by Vernor Vinge

Looking at this list, one wonders which book one should kick off of it to make room for Bridge of Birds. The weakest book on the list is probably Job: A Comedy of Justice, but given the pull Heinlein had with Hugo voters throughout his career, it seems unlikely that it would be bumped for a work by a first time novelist. There really isn’t a particularly good argument for moving any of the other nominees off the list in favor of Bridge of Birds – all three of the novels are at least as good as Hughart’s book, and in at least two cases, are probably better. Once again, in context it is entirely unsurprising that Hughart didn’t get a Hugo nomination, because when one looks at the actual nominees, there’s not a good argument for replacing one of them. This is a fundamental truth of the Hugo awards that none of the Sad Puppies seem to understand: There are, and always have been, many good books that never become Hugo nominees for perfectly understandable reasons. When evaluating whether books “should” have won awards or not, if you hold up a book as award-worthy without considering it in the context of its competition, you are presenting an essentially false narrative.

 

Amanda S. Green on Nocturnal Lives

“Real Mature” – April 2

Hmm, so “fandom” is worried about what the fans think are good books. How many of this so-called fandom actually read the books they nominate for the award, much less all the books (titles) that make the final ballot? Or are they simply voting based on who the author is and if they are the “right” sort of author.

 

Steve Davidson on Amazing Stories

“How I’ll Be Casting My Final Hugo Vote” – April 2

I’m going to place ANY nominee that is associated with advancing a political agenda BELOW No Award.  If that means that No Award is my top pick in one or more categories, then so be it.  (I’ll read the works in the voters pack so I can rate the works as #1 behind No Award, #2 behind No Award, etc.)

This will be a default position.  I don’t want to play the Sad Puppy’s game – nor anyone else’s who decides that they can use the Hugo Awards for purposes other than originally intended – so I’m not going to.  I don’t care what side of the political spectrum the voting slate comes from, nor what its motivations are, nor what the agenda is – good, bad or indifferent.  If a work is on a voting slate (NOT an eligibility list) then it goes below No Award.

I’m hoping that others will see their way clear to adopting this method of protesting the corruption of the Hugo Awards.  If you don’t like what Sad Puppies is trying to do (or anyone who adopts similar means), the only successful counter strategy is to not play the game the way they want you to play it.  If you offer up counter slates – they win because you had to adopt their methods, which endorses their methods.  If you refuse to read any of their recommended works on the final ballot, you’re being a hypocrite because you’re “not letting the work stand on its own merits” and are, in fact, advancing your own political agenda by conflating the work with the views espoused by the author.  If you work at trying to get these new fans disenfranchised (by who knows what means), you’re supporting the argument that there is a special “cabal” of fans, an in-crowd and a not-so-in-crowd.  And so it goes through all of the other counter-arguments.

By approaching things this way – by using a default that applies to all works and all individuals, what I’m saying is:  I will not participate in the false choices that voting blocks are offering me.

 

Michael Z. Williamson on The Sacred Cow Slaughterhouse

“Who’s A Real Fan” – March 31

But according to some people, I’m “not a real fan.”

I’ve been an attendee, panelist, artist, author guest, special guest, guest of honor, filker, gopher, badger, I’ve run a dealer’s room. I’ve helped in the con suite while a special guest, because I was up early and they had vegetables they needed cut. What, not everyone takes their hand forged Japanese kitchen knives to a con in case of such an emergency?

Heck, back to my first WindyCon, the consuite needed a plastic drop cloth for the soda tub. I went to my car and got it.  Then the needed double sided tape. I had that, too.  Then they needed a screwdriver.  Exasperated, I demanded their list of material needs, went to my trunk and got most of it-poster board, highlighter, scissors, more tape, bungee cords.  I had trouble with the red marker. I only had black.

No one ever guessed it was my first con.

 

Jason Sanford

“On the Hugo Awards and dysfunctional politics”– April 1

However, to my knowledge no side every talked about totally destroying the other, or risked splitting the genre and possibly inflicting permanent harm on either Worldcon or the Hugos. Instead, different sides debated and argued using the written word. For example, when Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1960, many people were outraged about the novel’s politics and view of war. But these people didn’t try to game the Hugo nominating process to keep Heinlein off the ballot or place their own novels there.

Instead, these authors and fans responded to Starship Troopers with their own fiction and critiques. Harry Harrison wrote his famous 1965 satirical novel Bill, the Galactic Hero in direct response to Heinlein. Joe Haldeman also disagreed with the view of war in Starship Troopers and was influenced by both Heinlein’s novel and Haldeman’s own experiences in Vietnam to write The Forever War, which won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards.

Instead of Heinlein being angry about Haldeman’s novel and starting a campaign to force the genre to see things his way, the famously libertarian author approached Haldeman after the Nebula Award ceremony and said The Forever War “may be the best future war story I’ve ever read!”

 

Kristine Kathryn Rusch

“Business Musings: Controlling the Creatives” – March 25

Right now, a visible group of people in the field of science fiction are engaged in a protracted battle about the genre’s future. Both sides are practicing a nasty, destructive campaign against the other, and not worrying about the collateral damage they’re causing on the sidelines…

I can remember mentally shouting down that writer-friend who told me I shouldn’t write fat fantasy novels.

Every time I started a new fantasy novel, I had to silence his voice. It wasn’t until I realized that I wasn’t writing to please him or the other gatekeepers that I was finally able to silence his voice entirely.

Because being creative is about flying in the face of accepted wisdom. It’s about writing what you want to write, in the way that only you can write it. It’s about taking risks and facing down the critics. It’s about using forbidden words and writing about topics that, judging by your appearance, you should know nothing about. It’s about facing down the bigots who say you’ve only attracted readers because your last name implies a certain ethnicity.

These people who are screaming at each other on forums and in the media? Those folks? They’re not your readers. They’re not the people who act as gatekeepers any longer. They have nothing to do with what you write.

What you write is between you and your keyboard.

When that writing is published, it’s done. You should move onto another project, and let the published one take care of itself.

You will always be a representative of your time. We all currently hold opinions that future generations will see as quaint (at best) or horribly bigoted (at worst). It might not be possible for you, in the position you’re in right now, to know if you even hold such opinions.

If you’re one of the screamers, back away from social media. You’re only alienating your friends and your readers. If you want to change minds, work on writing better fiction. You can explore all the different points of view in your stories and—oh, yeah—maybe you can learn to write from a point of view not your own.

 

Cora Buhlert

“Cora engages in some Hugo kvetching – and a great George R.R. Martin interview/feature” – March 28

However, Kristine Kathryn Rusch also makes a very good point, namely that writers should let one fraction or another’s ideas what is and isn’t appropriate to write about influence their own work. Now this is a point that I heartily agree with (with the caveat that a writer should also do their best not to be blindly offensive to large swathes of people), if only because I know how liberating it was for me to throw off received ideas of what did and did not make for good SFF and simply write whatever the hell I wanted to write.

But as calls for just ignoring the whole Sad Puppy controversy and focussing on one’s own work go, I vastly prefer this series of tweets by Nebula nominee Usman T. Malik: