Pixel Scroll 2/6/18 If Only The Contents Matched The Packaging

(1) WITH ADDED SHARKE. New Shadow Clarke juror Gary K. Wolfe gives his opening statement in “Conversations in a Noisy Room: Introducing Gary K. Wolfe”.

I initially came to SF criticism through academia, where matters of grace and clarity are not always the highest priority. My earliest publications were in scholarly journals or with university presses, at a time when everyone seemed enamored of structuralism as a theoretical model. (A few years later, of course, we escaped that cage, only to find everyone equally enamored of post-structuralism.) It was essentially a grammar of analysis and taxonomy, modeled largely on the language of the social sciences, and to the extent that it was evaluative at all, it was mostly in passing. It was also a language marvelously well-suited to disguising thinness of thought.

Then I was invited to begin writing for a now defunct magazine, Fantasy Review, for a very different kind of audience.  What models I had for SF criticism consisted of those early volumes by Damon Knight, James Blish, and even Kingsley Amis, and the succession of remarkable reviewers in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction – Judith Merril, Joanna Russ, Algis Budrys, and others. Budrys became a kind of mentor in my shift toward real-world reviewing and criticism. We disagreed a lot, but he showed me that while my opinions might be worthwhile, they were a lot more worthwhile if they had solid reasoning behind them, and if they described a context for the works under discussion….

(2) BEST SERIES. Now that voting has opened for Hugo nominations, keep in mind JJ’s tool: “Best Series Hugo: Eligible Series from 2017” and discussion thread.

To assist Hugo nominators, listed below are the series believed to be eligible as of this writing for the 2018 Best Series Hugo….

OTHER AIDS. JJ is also curating —

(3) BEST SERIES CAVILS. Martin P. advocates that voters impose additional criteria beyond the rules: “On the Hugo Award for Best Series”

…However, just because something can’t be legislated doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be kept in mind while nominating and voting. The standard I intend to apply is that to be worthy of a Best Series Hugo, a story must be fully satisfying even if no other installments are ever published. This does not necessarily mean a story must be conclusively over. For instance, while I can certainly imagine new installments in the Vorkosigan Saga, last year’s winner in the award’s trial run (and if Lois McMaster Bujold wants to write them I’d happily read them), my enjoyment of the series will not be diminished if Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen is ultimately the final installment. But I don’t think a series that is clearly incomplete is award-worthy, and I’m not inclined to grant credit for future work. Everybody can think of a series that started strong and then went off the rails. I’m not comfortable coming back in the future and saying “this received the Best Series Award but you need to ignore its conclusion”. I don’t even love new books getting a “Hugo-Nominated [or Hugo Winning] Series” stamp from their publisher when the Hugo electorate hasn’t had a chance to read the book yet, although I recognize that marketers are going to pull that kind of thing regardless.

I do not intend to nominate any series that does not meet this criteria, and I urge others to do likewise. I will also likely rank any clearly incomplete series nominated below No Award, although I might consider a series whose final installment is published in 2018 before the voting deadline, as such a series would be ineligible for future nomination. And yes, I fully anticipate that I will rank something I quite like below No Award.

…While it might be difficult to find satisfactory completed series every year, N. K. Jemisin’s exceptional Broken Earth trilogy is eligible for the 2018 Best Series Hugo. I’m nominating it. If you haven’t read it, I highly encourage you to do so.

(4) THANKS BUT NO THANKS. Despite endorsements like Martin P’s, author N.K. Jemisin, in “Hugo Nomination Rumination”, wants Hugo voters to leave her trilogy out when nominating in the Best Series category.

As I’ve mentioned on social media, I only have two works eligible for awards nomination from 2017: The Stone Sky, and my Uncanny short story Henosis. Last year was tough, so I didn’t get much writing done. I’m sure a lot of you can relate.

But since people have asked for my thoughts on this… Please, if you’re going to nominate The Stone Sky in any form, do so in the Novel category, rather than nominating the whole Broken Earth trilogy for Series. I mean, I can’t stop you from nominating it however you like — but let me point out, if you didn’t know, that The Fifth Season and The Obelisk Gate have both won Hugos already. This is awesome, but in my eyes, it simply wouldn’t be fair for those books to effectively get a second bite at the apple in the Series category. That this possibility exists has always been a potential problem of the category, IMO.

And here’s the thing: I understand that some folks believe I’d have a better chance at scoring a third Hugo in the Series category. I’m super-grateful to those of you who think about stuff like this, but as someone who never expected to get even one Hugo… y’all, I’m okay either way. If TSS doesn’t get nominated or win in the Novel category, and some other deserving work does win, then so be it. TSS is a New York Times and Locus bestseller and the series has been picked up for a TV show; I’m doin’ all right by most other measures. I’m not going to pretend I wouldn’t squee my head off if I won Hugo #3 at any point, but there won’t be any tears in my beer if I lose, either. (If for no other reason than that I don’t drink beer.)

(5) JUICY RUMORS. Been suffering from a lack of A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones gossip? Reddit’s ASOIAF discussion group delivered a spicy serving today.

(6) YET ANOTHER STAR WARS SERIES.  With Thrones creators D&D’s work on their HBO series ending, the pair have hooked up with Disney to make more Star Wars movies — “‘Game of Thrones’ Creators to Write, Produce New ‘Star Wars’ Series of Films”.

Game of Thrones” creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are going to write and produce a new series of “Star Wars” films, Disney announced on Tuesday.

The new series will be separate from the main episodic Skywalker saga that started with “Star Wars: A New Hope” and is slated to wrap up with 2019’s “Star Wars: Episode IX.” It will also exist independently from a Rian Johnson-helmed series that was announced last year.

“David and Dan are some of the best storytellers working today,” said Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm, in a statement. “Their command of complex characters, depth of story and richness of mythology will break new ground and boldly push Star Wars in ways I find incredibly exciting.”

It also comes at a time of transition for Benioff and Weiss. “Game of Thrones,” their sprawling fantasy epic, will end its run on HBO in 2019.

(7) KEEPING READER TRUST. Sandra M. Odell shares tips on “Building The Disabled World” at the SFWA Blog,

I love intricate, detailed worldbuilding; it’s the backbone of science fiction and fantasy stories, even those set in the modern era.  Sadly, few things make me stop reading faster than the realization that a writer gave more thought to the description of a meal than they did to the how or why an accommodation for a character with disabilities came to be in a story. Inclusion and representation matter, and so do the supports that allow an individual with disabilities to interact with a writer’s world. You don’t need to include every last detail about the world on the page, but there should be enough detail and consistency in the presentation that I can trust that you know what you’re talking about.

When creating a world where individuals with disabilities play a role, you should answer four basic questions…

(8) CLOVERFIELD. Netflix put up The Cloverfield Paradox on Sunday. The trailer —

Yahoo! Entertainment has a spoiler-filled discussion: “How Does ‘The Cloverfield Paradox’ Fit With the Other Two ‘Cloverfield’ Movies?”

One of the bigger developments of Super Bowl Sunday, aside from the game itself being outstanding, was the news that “The Cloverfield Paradox” (previously known as “The God Particle”) would be surprise  dropping on Netflix right after the game. It was a genius move from a marketing standpoint — the number of folks who watched the movie Sunday night probably far exceeded what the movie would have done at the box office. But now that we’ve seen it, it’s left a bunch of us scratching our heads.

Looper also has analysis (video) —

The Cloverfield movie-verse has now officially expanded into some wild new territory. Netflix surprised fans of the sci-fi film series by dropping the third installment, The Cloverfield Paradox, on Super Bowl Sunday without warning. Like the first two films, Cloverfield 3 offers a new perspective on why all of those giant monsters have appeared on Earth. If you haven’t seen it yet, you might want to click away now because we’re about to take a deep dive into outer space…

 

(9) CONAN UP THE AMAZON WITHOUT A PADDLE. According to Deadline, “Conan the Barbarian TV Series In Works At Amazon From Ryan Condal, Miguel Sapochnik & Warren Littlefield”.

Amazon is developing drama series Conan, based on the books by Robert E. Howard, Deadline has learned. The project hails from Colony co-creator Ryan Condal, Game of Thrones director Miguel SapochnikFargo and The Handmaid’s Tale executive producer Warren Littlefield, Pathfinder Media and Endeavor Content.

Created and written by Condal, Conan retells the classic character’s story via a return to his literary origins. Driven out of his tribal homelands, Conan wanders the mysterious and treacherous world of civilization where he searches for purpose in a place that rejects him as a mindless savage….

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born February 6, 1947 – Eric Flint

(11) SALUTE TO THE BIRTHDAY BOY. At Black  Gate, Steven H Silver continues his series – “Birthday Reviews: Eric Flint’s ‘Portraits’”:

“Portraits” first appeared in The Grantville Gazette, an online magazine tied to Flint’s 1632 series, which allows various authors to discuss the setting and try their hand at fiction. When Baen decided to publish hard copies of some of the articles and stories, “Portraits” was reprinted as the first story in Grantville Gazette Volume I (2004) and provided the volume with its cover art. It was subsequently reprinted in Flint’s collection Worlds.

“Portraits” tells the story of Anne Jefferson, an American nurse posing for the Flemish artist Pieter Paul Rubens. The story assumes knowledge of the 1632 situation and characters Flint introduced three years earlier. This is a story which relies on its published context to be fully appreciated.

(12) LISTEN UP. Marvel New Media and top podcast listening service Stitcher have released the trailer for Wolverine: The Long Night. The 10-episode series airs weekly beginning March 12, 2018 exclusively on Stitcher Premium. It will see a wide release across all podcast platforms in fall 2018.

Listen to the trailer for Wolverine: The Long Night” here: www.WolverinePodcast.com

The “Wolverine: The Long Night” story is a captivating hybrid of mystery and the larger-scale fantasy of the Marvel Universe. It follows agents Sally Pierce (Celia Keenan-Bolger) and Tad Marshall (Ato Essandoh) as they arrive in the fictional town of Burns, Alaska, to investigate a series of murders and quickly discover the town lives in fear of a serial killer. The agents team up with deputy Bobby Reid (Andrew Keenan-Bolger) to investigate their main suspect, Logan (Richard Armitage). Their search leads them on a fox hunt through the mysterious and corrupt town.

(13) FALCON HEAVY. It worked: “Elon Musk’s Falcon Heavy rocket launches successfully”. As of the time the BBC posted this article, two of the three first-stages were known to have detached and landed safely. They were still awaiting news of the third, which was making a sea landing.

It is designed to deliver a maximum payload to low-Earth orbit of 64 tonnes – the equivalent of putting five London double-decker buses in space.

Such performance is slightly more than double that of the world’s next most powerful rocket, the Delta IV Heavy – but at one third of the cost, says Mr Musk.

For this experimental and uncertain mission, however, he decided on a much smaller and whimsical payload – his old cherry-red Tesla sports car.

A space-suited mannequin was strapped in the driver’s seat, and the radio set to play David Bowie’s classic hit Space Oddity on a loop.

…Two came back to touchdown zones on the Florida coast just south of Kennedy; the third booster was due to settle on a drone ship stationed several hundred kilometres out at sea.

During the launch, the video signal from the drone ship was lost, so the fate of the third booster is not yet clear.

(14) FRESH CYBERPUNK. Speculiction’s Jesse Hudson finds a winner: “Review of Graft by Matt Hill”

Cyberpunk is now roughly forty years old.  With relevant works from writers like James Tiptree Jr. and John Brunner appearing in the 60s and 70s, it coalesced into a recognizable trend in the early 80s—the four decades since having seen a full exploration of the idea of ‘cyberpunk’ through hundreds of stories and books.  Thus, in 2016, how does a writer do something original with the form?  With its imagery and characters, settings and ideas well established, there is probably only one way: deliver unique prose combined with a competent package.  Matt Hill, in his 2016 Graft, does precisely this….

(15) SPEAKER TO ALIENS. At Quick Sip Reviews, Charles Payseur delivers “Quick Sips – Lightspeed #93″, reviews of four stories, including —

“Four-Point Affective Calibration” by Bogi Takács (1450 words)

No Spoilers: A person must undergo a special kind of mental exercise to calibrate a machine that might allow them to communicate with aliens. The piece dissects emotions and the supposed universality of certain “core” emotions, as well as looks at the idea of expectation, immigration, and appearance. Quick but dense with hope, fear, and the barriers of language.
Keywords: Aliens, Emotions, Transcript, Non-binary MC, Immigration, Communication
Review: For me, this story hinges on understanding and communication. The piece is framed as a transcript of a sort of mental calibration—part test, part measurement to set a baseline to allow the narrator to communicate with aliens. I many ways, though, I feel like the communication with the aliens isn’t the most important relationship being explored. Or, I guess I mean, what I keep getting out of the story is that for the narrator, it’s not communicating with the aliens that seems fraught or difficult—it’s communicating with other humans. Because of the barriers that humans erect between each other in order to try and ease communication, but in practice make things much more difficult for many people, especially those who don’t fit in well enough, for whom the burden of communication and understanding is always on appeasing the dominant voices, the dominant empathies. For the narrator, this seems another way that they have to grapple with ideas, “core” emotions, that they might not feel the same as others—because they are autistic, because they aren’t a cisgender person. These things that people take for granted the narrator cannot, nor do they react to this central frustration in the ways that people expect, in ways that are expected of them. And it’s a short but very complex and moving story about the hazards and difficulties of communicating, and of being understood. That there is this frantic kicking of thoughts, worries, fears, just under the surface of the narrator’s thoughts, laid bare here by this test in the hopes that they’ll be able to have this opportunity, to be allowed to have a conversation that excites them. It’s a wonderful read!

(16) SHIMMER PROGRAM. Another Chinese story in translation is available at Clarkesworld.

(17) ANSWER WITH A QUESTION. Steven H Silver reports this was “a triple stumper” on today’s Jeopardy!

(18) FOR SALE. Mel Hunter’s original art “Lunar landscape,” which appeared on the cover of the June 1960 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (with small painted rocket ships superimposed on the landscape), is offered by Illustration House. It is expected to bring $3,000-$4,000.

(19) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Nothing to do with sff whatsoever. Loved The Parking Lot Movie, recommend it highly. Here’s the trailer —

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Steven H Silver, Martin Morse Wooster, StephenfromOttawa, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, Mark Hepworth, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Dann.]

127 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 2/6/18 If Only The Contents Matched The Packaging

  1. Dann says That opens up the possibility of an author gaming the system to get multiple awards by breaking up a 4 or 5 book series into two 3 book series that are not really complete without each other. I trust fandom to be able to see through those kinds of shenanigans.

    I don’t think Wagers is doing that but rather either her or possibility her editor is acknowledging that buy rates drop significantly on latter volumes in most series whe

  2. Dann says That opens up the possibility of an author gaming the system to get multiple awards by breaking up a 4 or 5 book series into two 3 book series that are not really complete without each other. I trust fandom to be able to see through those kinds of shenanigans.

    I don’t think Wagers is doing that but rather either her or possibility her editor is acknowledging that buy rates drop significantly on latter volumes in most series where there’s significant background to the ongoing story.

    I’ve read series from the beginning such as Neal Asher’s Polity where I are amazed that anyone can read later novels and figure out the back story even with exposition from him.

  3. Dann

    The closest past analogy I could point to would be the various Dragonlance series.

    Brandon Sanderson did his Mistborn Trilogy and then the later Wax and Wayne Trilogy which are also Mistborn books (set later chronologically than the originals). Then there’s the Stormlight Archive which will be two series of 5 books each. To compound onto that technically those two series, and his other books, take place in the Cosmere universe that connects them all and is also it’s own over arching story through all the books.

    Which will make the first 5 Stormlight Archive books a series within a series within another series.

  4. I must confess that, just for the fun of it, I added The Lord of the Rings on my Series ballot based on Beren and Luthien being published last year. I think there are a lot of ways this category can go off the rails, but so far most commentary seems to indicate that people are approaching it the way I think it was intended.

  5. Regarding long series… I just bought Cherryh’s most recent “Foreigner” book and realized, one chapter in, that I really have to re-read the prior book for full context….

    Not that this is a chore.

  6. I love Lois McMaster Bujold for her applicability to the Best Series debate.

    So. Is the Vorkosigan series finished? Would fans have been reasonably correct to assume it was finished after Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance?

    Is the World of the Five Gods two series (Chalion/Paladin/Hunt and Penric) or one?

    Is Wide Green World even a series? Or just one story broken into four books? Or two stories broken into two books each?

    I plan to nominate World of the Five Gods for best series based on The Prisoner of Limnos coming out last year. But I’m not nominating the Penric novellas as their own series even if they meet the word count. The whole world there is brilliant and the themes she explores are profound. The idea that the Gods can only work in this world through the willing participation of people is something we could use in our real world. We are not bystanders here. Things can only change if WE get out there and change them.

  7. @Cat

    I hope my comments weren’t taken as impugning Wagers in any way. Such was not my intention.

    Regards,
    Dann
    I miss Taglinator…

  8. @ULTRAGOTHA The idea that the Gods can only work in this world through the willing participation of people is something we could use in our real world.

    I have a whole undeveloped theory about the World of the Five Gods (and some others, including David Weber’s increasingly-unsuccessful fantasy series) as the strange result of viewing polytheism through a Protestant theological lens.

  9. Ghostbird on February 7, 2018 at 8:31 am said:
    I have a whole undeveloped theory about the World of the Five Gods (and some others, including David Weber’s increasingly-unsuccessful fantasy series) as the strange result of viewing polytheism through a Protestant theological lens.

    Slight tangent, but how does the Safehold series hold up in the later volumes? I’m four books in, and although in some ways it’s right up my alley (particularly the Reformation and Industrial Revolution themes) I feel like he really needed a stronger editorial hand.

  10. Ghostbird on February 7, 2018 at 8:31 am said:

    I have a whole undeveloped theory about the World of the Five Gods (and some others, including David Weber’s increasingly-unsuccessful fantasy series) as the strange result of viewing polytheism through a Protestant theological lens.

    Protestant theology has three core beliefs: Scripture above church traditions, universal priesthood, and justification by faith alone.

    I don’t really see any of that in TWoFG. There are theological teachings but I don’t see a “Bible” per se. There certainly is no universal priesthood, as anyone who wishes to be a Divine must go through training. Even those who accidentally acquire demons. And “faith alone” seems a non-starter when every single person sees a miracle as proof of the Gods right in front of them at each funeral they attend.

    I suppose the salvation by grace alone part might apply. Every soul is loved by the Gods and taken up, except those who actively refuse, are inadvertently separated from their God, or are too afraid. Those become ghosts. But it’s not good works that make a soul beloved of the Gods. It is, however, mostly free will that allows a soul to reject Them.

  11. Ghostbird on February 7, 2018 at 1:18 am said:
    It’s a test flight, not a science-doing flight. Normally, they used something like a big block of concrete as the payload. You have to admit that using a real car – with a mannequin in a real suit – is a lot more interesting.

  12. @Lis: kewl! I was especially amused by

    But it’s also possible that a process that evolved to divide two sets of chromosomes in half simply choked when faced with three sets of chromosomes.

    D’s visualized the mechanism saying “I can’t cope! I can’t cope!”

    @Joe H: I’d forgotten Alice in #1. I’m sure there were others in bit parts, but the only Riverworld female character I remember is Mark Twain’s wife (Olivia nee Langdon), who took up with Cyrano de Bergerac in #2. (The Fabulous Riverboat)

    @Steve Wright: I heard over 40 years ago that early Gor books were actually edited, until Norman said nobody was allowed to touch his prose and Ballantine said goodbye; Wollheim was taking risks elsewhere (and had just started a new publisher) and had use for a steady seller. OTOH, Ballantine published 7 (vs your observation that they fell off after 3), so Ian may have decided #8 was past fixing and declined it.

    @Ghostbird: this was the very first launch of the Falcon Heavy, and late report is that the last engine overcooked so the rocket will wind up in the asteroids instead of the neighborhood of Mars. How much would a lost high-risk scientific package, or suitable construction materials, have cost? Even a gamble would have taken money from something else. And there’s the hack value: my partner reports a cartoon of a couple of aliens saying “Look! Oprah sent us a car!”

    Cat Eldridge (wrt breakup of KBWagers works): that could be taken to an extreme; consider either Foreigner as a whole or the latest trilogy. To me the existing set of Wagers is one large work rather than a series — continuous action with the later books heavily dependent on the earlier — but that leaves no good way to recognize too-big-for-one-book works. (cf nomination of Harpist in the Wind, which was commonly argued to be for the entire Riddle Master trilogy). I think this is a case where the voters should decide individually; people who don’t like a format can vote against it, and rules lawyers can try their chances at the WSFS business meetings.

    @Cassy B: Foreigner is one of the reasons I have space on my Unread shelf for incomplete sets, and passed on Bear’s new Eternal Sky entry. OTOH, I did read KBWagers as it came out, just to see whether Filer squeeing was justified.

    @ULTRAGOTHA: IANAexpert, but ISTM you are confusing Protestant theology with a monolith (which it can’t be given its mixed origin). Possibly your discussion applies to a specific division?

  13. The problem’s all there in the file, she said to Mike
    The answer’s really simple. I could tell you, if you like.
    Don’t need no higher math or AP psych,
    There must be fifty ways to scroll your pixel.

    Just scroll it and scram, Cam
    No need to be flip, Chip
    Just roll out a plan, Dann,
    And you’re in control.

    Just be what you is, Lis
    No need for withdrawal, Paul
    Step up to the bat, Cat,
    And we’ll have a scroll.

    Be the be-all and end-all, Kendall
    Use stuff from your campus, Hampus
    Take pix of your spaniel, Daniel,
    And there’s no denial.

    Just make like a DJ, PJ
    Make it your mission, Christian
    Keep keepin’ it real, Niall,
    And we’ve got a file.

    Note: My sincere regrets to people with longer names—I’m lookin’ at YOU, Ultragotha!—for not being able to torture the meter enough to work you in. Perhaps… and this is just a perhaps …there are others here who are less Poetically Correct than I, who would not hesitate to go where I fear to tread. Hint, hint.

    And, hey, didn’t somebody already do “Michael, Scroll Your File Ashore, Hallelujah”? It seems familiar, but I can’t find it.

    ps: Apa* polly loggies to anyone whose name I’ve mangled, pronunciation-wise. I don’t know any better.

    * It’s all right. I’m a former apahack.

  14. I don’t see an issue with a self-contained trilogy getting a nom even if it later gets extended – because the nom is for the X Trilogy and the continuation Y trilogy doesn’t get the appellation of best series (but can always win it for itself once it hits three books, as could the overarching series once finished).
    (Unless you’re Douglas Adams and can get away with the “increasingly inaccurately named…” joke)

  15. Meredith moment: The Summer Tree (first in Guy Gavriel Kay’s Fionavar Tapestry) is $2.99. Of course, the second book is $5.99 and the third is $12.99, so …

  16. 6) Reading comments on this around the web, a lot of people seem to think D&D are only capable of producing R rated grim dark stuff. That surprised me – its what they did in GoT because that’s what they were given to work with, but they should be able to tell a different kind of story also if that’s the job. Maybe they should adopt a different pen name for Star Wars?

  17. “Some say the figure in the Tesla was a mannequin in a prototype space suit,
    Others that Jeff Bezos asked Elon Musk to dispose of the only bit of Top Gear he hadn’t aquired.
    All we know is….”

  18. @rob_matic

    I’m afraid I bailed on the Safehold series after two or three volumes. Not enough action, and the rest was just bad.

    @ULTRAGOTHA

    One thing I’m thinking of is the way the standard Protestant conversion narrative (roughly: rejection – pursuit – crisis – acceptance – power, with an emphasis on informality and a personal relationship with the god) keeps popping up. Another is the whole faith-and-works thing about gods acting through their devotees rather than on their behalf. I expect it really all begins with the Forgotten Realms D&D novels, but I could never manage to read them.

  19. @ Cat Eldridge
    Cherryh’s Foreigner series works in three book story arcs, but I still find them to be very good stories individually.

  20. I have thoughts! Maybe too many. Sorry ’bout that. 🙂

    I would have no hesitation about nominating or voting for an incomplete series…if the books are standalone! (Like the Vorkosigan Saga.) In fact, I might ask: how would you decide if such a series is complete or not? If each book is complete in itself, there’s no way to be sure whether the author will write another in the series or not. (Even if the author says there will be, they might change their mind.)

    A whole lot of SF series fit into this category.

    I actually have stronger reservations about fixed trilogies. With all due respect to the Jemisin fans (I am one, of course), but it seems a bit like cheating. A trilogy may technically meet the definition of “series”, but it seems more like a too-long-novel-split-for-publication to me. A single story, even if not a single book. Which seems to miss the spirit of a series award.

    I probably wouldn’t put a trilogy below Noah just for being a trilogy, but I would probably ding it some points.

    (Note that I think Jemisin’s earlier Inheritance trilogy fits better in the first category than the second. It was three books, but they were all more-or-less standalone.)

    I have similar but not-as-strong feelings about single stories split into more than three novels. Structurally, these tend to feel more like a proper series to me. But I’d have to judge on a case by case basis.

    However, this is the only case where I’d want to see completion before voting for the series.

    There is one more slightly complicated case, between the series-of-standalones and the story-split-for-publication. This, of course, is the series-of-standalones-with-an-big-background-story-arc. A prime example would be one of last year’s nominees, the October Daye series.

    I’d have to judge case-by-case here, but in most cases, I’d probably treat them like a series of standalones (i.e. I wouldn’t worry about whether the series is complete or not). For one thing, in my experience, series which have major drop-offs in quality are very much the exception. Not unheard of, but rare enough that I wouldn’t generally bother worrying about it.

  21. Xtifr:

    A trilogy may technically meet the definition of “series”, but it seems more like a too-long-novel-split-for-publication to me. A single story, even if not a single book. Which seems to miss the spirit of a series award.

    I seem to have a different understanding of the spirit of a series award than you. The Hugo rules define a series as “A multi-installment science fiction or fantasy story, unified by elements such as plot, characters, setting, and presentation,[…]”.

    I’d say a typical trilogy fits that definition better than an open-ended series of stand-alone books with almost no plot points carrying over between each book.

    As for completeness: I like the suggested standard in scrollitem (3) that an award-worthy series should not need more books in order to be truly satisfying.

  22. This whole discussion just reminds me all over again why creating a “Best Series” award was a bad idea. Too hard to figure out what should be eligible. Too hard to decide when to nominate. Too hard to read before voting.

    I plan to vote to vote “No Award” and nothing else for “Best Series” since I’m told that’s the traditional way to signal that one thinks a category shouldn’t exist.

  23. @Whoever was asking about Safehold – It’s fading a bit from the beginning, I think I’ve missed the most recent one. Probably still worth reading for those that like that sort of thing. I’d rather a new Dahak or Honor book, personally.

    And yes, as always for the past… decade, at least, Weber needs more editing. He’s not bad without it, but *everybody* needs an editor, I don’t care how good the author. Baen really falls down on that.

  24. I am looking forward to the next book in the Zahn/Weber/Pope series about the early days of Manticore – looks like it will be out in a few weeks.

  25. It’s not hard to figure out what’s eligible. It’s right there in the rules. There is NO rule about a series having to be “complete”. That’s on purpose. If a voter wants to add that *extra* criteria, there’s nothing WSFS can, or would want to, regulate.

    And it’s no harder to figure out what we want to nominate than it is to figure out which novels we want to nominate.

    Any nominator who doesn’t wish to nominate in that category is free to do so. There are categories I seldom nominate in because I don’t consume those media (hello podcast!).

  26. Xtifr, Johan P: I think it might be reasonable in a vacuum to argue that a closely-linked trilogy should be fit under “Best Novel”, but I can’t think of a recent example offhand (the closest being the Wheel of Time nomination, which is obviously not a trilogy). And of course, that would preclude nominating anything that previously received a nomination as a standalone novel.

  27. Goobergunch: I think it might be reasonable in a vacuum to argue that a closely-linked trilogy should be fit under “Best Novel”, but I can’t think of a recent example offhand

    Hi Martin, welcome!

    I think Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy would be a good example of a trilogy which is really a 3-part novel. Even though it doesn’t really have a “finish”. 😉

  28. @Peer Sylvester : it’s been a while, but I remember a woman engineer who made her way to Clemens’ shipyard, and was quite miffed that she, with better qualifications than any of the men, was not, at once, put in charge of the program..

  29. @Andrew Thank you, I forget about those. I don’t like them as much as the pure Weber books that move the plot line, but they are fun. I’ll keep an eye out for it.

  30. Well, I’m certainly not suggesting that people should start Noah Warding trilogies. I merely said I might ding them slightly because they often feel more like split-single-books. (And yes, I’d probably more happily vote for a typical trilogy under Best Novel for just that reason.)

    My main point is that I’d rather see an incomplete series win than a complete trilogy/three-volume-book. (In general. Other things being equal.) My comments were entirely aimed at the “Noah for incomplete series” folks. (With the qualifications and caveats mentioned in my earlier, too-long post.)

    Noah for the whole category is an understandable position, and I can’t criticize it, but it’s not a position I share. At least not at present. I expect we’ll sort these things out over the next few years. And then we can see where we stand.

    eta: gah, just got back from editing a wiki, and my markup instincts are all wrong all of a sudden.

  31. @Xtifr: I’m with Johan P. It seems to me that your interpretation of ‘series’ would count e.g., Iain Banks’ Culture novels or Ursula Leguin’s Hainish novels as series, which is so broad a definition as to be practically meaningless. I think there’s a significant difference between novels placed in a common universe and those that can be described as part of a series per the Hugo definition that Johan quoted. (For the record: I’m not really a fan of the idea of a Best Series Hugo in any case.)

  32. My personal policy for nominating best series is that, provided the series are equally good, I will nominate a complete series before an incomplete series, because the incomplete series can get another chance later on.

    For unfinished series, I will (and have) nominated lengthy series of largely standalone books, with or without a background arc, e.g. Harry Dresden, Mercy Thompson, In Death, October Daye, Peter Grant, Kate Daniels, Liaden Universe, Skolian Empire, Foreigner, etc…, because it can be years before those series end, if ever. However, if there is a clear end of the series in sight and hasn’t yet been reached (Terra Ignota is the most obvious example here), I won’t nominate the series until it reaches its end.

  33. Cora, you’ve articulated almost exactly my personal policies on the Best Series category.

    If I feel that a series, unfinished or otherwise, has provided a satisfying story arc, I consider it a valid entry (and if I loved it, I’ll nominate it). If I feel that it hasn’t, I’m not likely to nominate it, and might well put such a finalist under No Award. I probably wouldn’t have considered The Culture or The Hainish Cycle to be valid series entries (but that’s a moot point now, anyway).

    Every nominator/voter will interpret the category as they see fit. Last year 68% of all nominating ballots cast included at least one nominee for Best Series — compared to 69% who nominated for Best Novel, which means that it’s a pretty popular category.

    Considering the number of eligible series (my list last year included, I think, 164 different ones, and this year’s list is up to 213) I was surprised (and pleased) to see how much opinions converged; all finalists had at least 129 nominations each. It will be interesting to see how the finalists shake out over a period of years.

  34. Did I see someone above asking if Curse of Chalion was in the same series as the new Penric stories? Interesting, because I would have unhesitatingly said they are not (based on my subconscious definitions).

    I don’t even think Hallowed Hunt would be in a series, and Paladin felt more of an… epiloquel than a sequel.

    On the other hand, Bujold is owed a Hugo for Curse, so I won’t complain if people nominate this way.

  35. Maximillian: I feel the same way. Penric and Chalion are in the same universe, but I consider them to be in different series – and Hallowed Hunt does feel to me like a standalone in the same universe, more than part of a series. Cherryh’s Chanur novels take place in the same universe as Cyteen, but I don’t think of Chanur as the same series as Cyteen either.

  36. >Greg Hullender: This whole discussion just reminds me all over again why creating a “Best Series” award was a bad idea.

    By the time it got passed the thinking may have evolved, but early on Best Series seemed a response to Eric Flint’s ideas about how to make certain kinds of popular novels more competitive for the Hugo. There’s no sign so far that it’s going to be won by any besides the authors who have already been Hugo favorites for years.

    >Too hard to figure out what should be eligible.

    There’s tons of good things eligible — lots of works are written as part of a series. Focusing on edge cases is counter-productive.

    >Too hard to decide when to nominate.

    When something you love is eligible within the black-letter rules. If individual voters want to impose other conditions on themselves, why should that handicap you?

    >Too hard to read before voting.

    Unquestionably. A lot of people will make up their minds on the basis of whatever they’ve already read. Since that is going to include some excellent work, the winner may still be a good pick, just not the perfect pick.

    >I plan to vote to vote “No Award” and nothing else for “Best Series” since I’m told that’s the traditional way to signal that one thinks a category shouldn’t exist.

    Your privilege.

  37. Maximillian on February 7, 2018 at 5:24 pm said:

    Did I see someone above asking if Curse of Chalion was in the same series as the new Penric stories? Interesting, because I would have unhesitatingly said they are not (based on my subconscious definitions).

    I don’t even think Hallowed Hunt would be in a series, and Paladin felt more of an… epiloquel than a sequel.

    The WSFS Constitution says:

    3.3.5: Best Series. A multi-installment science fiction or fantasy story, unified by elements such as plot, characters, setting, and presentation, appearing in at least three (3) installments consisting in total of at least 240,000 words by the close of the previous calendar year, at least one (1) installment of which was published in the previous calendar year, and which has not previously won under 3.3.5.

    Since Curse, Paladin, Hunt and the Penric novellas are all unified by elements such as characters, setting, and presentation, I hold they can be viewed as one series for the purposes of this category. (Note, I am not a Hugo Administrator, nor do I play one on TV, and I haven’t stayed at a Holiday Inn in years.)

    I ALSO hold that they can be validly viewed as two different series. (I do firmly put Hunt in with Curse and Paladin.) But as I said above I wouldn’t nominate the Penric stories for Best Series on their own even if they met the word count. I feel the whole thing is worthy.

  38. Mike Glyer: By the time it got passed the thinking may have evolved, but early on Best Series seemed a response to Eric Flint’s ideas about how to make certain kinds of popular novels more competitive for the Hugo. There’s no sign so far that it’s going to be won by any besides the authors who have already been Hugo favorites for years.

    I don’t think that’s necessarily true. Sure, Bujold had received a lot of Hugo recognition for her Vorkosigan stories, but:

    Temeraire was a Hugo finalist, but the series has received no other Hugo nods until after its 9th volume*, and Novik’s only other nod was for Uprooted.

    Leviathan Wakes was a Hugo finalist, but the series has received no other Hugo nods until after its 6th volume*, with the exception of the TV episode winning BDPSF last year as well. (Daniel Abraham did have a Novelette finalist 10 years ago.)

    Neither Rivers of London (6 volumes*) nor Ben Aaronovitch had ever even touched the Hugo longlist.

    Seanan McGuire/Mira Grant has had a number of Hugo nods, but the October Daye series (10 volumes*) had only seen a couple of Novelette nods.

    Neither The Craft Sequence (5 volumes*) nor Max Gladstone had ever even touched the Hugo longlist, with the exception of a non-Craft Short Story which didn’t make finalist.

    Most of the 9 entries on the Best Series longlist also fit these descriptions, with the exception of works by Bujold (Penric), Cherryh, and Cixin Liu.

    It seems to me that in its first year, the Best Series category did an exceptionally good job of recognizing series for which the individual volumes hadn’t received much in the way of Hugo recognition.

     
    * as of the same year for which it was nominated for Best Series

  39. JJ: Good point — for a couple of those Best Series finalists it was their first-ever time on the Hugo ballot.

  40. And I hadn’t even heard of the October Daye books, even though I’ve read other works by Seanan McGuire’s, so I definitely appreciated the Hugo nominators bringing those books to my attention.

  41. @Maximillan: I haven’t read any of the Safehold series, and since it’s published by Tor, any lack of editing is clearly not Baen’s fault. However, I was at a convention a few years back where Toni Weisskopf basically said that he doesn’t need much editing, but because he’s so bad at meeting deadlines, that if they were to edit him, it would just make everything that much later. I don’t know how many of their authors get that treatment, but I got the impression from Eric Flint that he is at least involved in the editing of 1632 novels not written by him.

  42. @Bruce A – Doh! Thank you, I forgot that wasn’t Baen.

    Though you are entirely correct, I maintain Weber needs editing regardless. And I really like his books. Still.

  43. (18) Mel Hunter’s original art “Lunar landscape” . . . is offered by Illustration House. It is expected to bring $3,000-$4,000.

    Make that “was offered”. The link is to an auction from 2011.

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