Pixel Scroll 9/13/16 I Know Why The Crottled Greep Pings

Art by Camestros Felapton.

Art by Camestros Felapton.

(1) TALKING ABOUT “DESTROY” OR “DIG” COLLECTIONS? Neil Clarke, editor of Clarkesworld, raises the question of whether special collections for underrepresented communities is a good idea.

(2) THE ELDER CLODS. The Huffington Post continues to cover the full horror of this year’s presidential election: “Stephen King Compares Donald Trump To Cthulhu; Cthulhu Issues Angry Denial”.

(3) NEXT FROM LIU CIXIN. Death’s End, the last book in Liu Cixin’s trilogy which started with The Three-Body Problem, will be released September 20. A preview can be read here on the Tor/Forge Blog.

And the author’s next translated novel is announced in a tweet from Ken Liu.

(4) AUTHOR LIFE. What is Joe Hill doing today?

So we’re doing #authorlife today. Okay. I’ll play. I’ll try to write 1500 words on a new novella (the last in a book of four), working longhand in an oversize National Brand account book. If it goes badly, I’ll accept 1000 words and hope for better tomorrow. When I’m done (1 PM? 2?) I’ll have a salad and read forty pages of A MAN LIES DREAMING, the current book (starring Adolf Hitler, PI, no, really). The afternoon is for office chores and email. If I can I’ll write a snail mail letter to a friend. Because I like doing that. At some point I’ll also listen to a chapter of the current audio book (PRINCE CASPIAN). Over the course of the day I’ll have four cups of tea. Three black, no cream, no sugar. The last is green and has honey and lemon. It all sounds very exciting, doesn’t it? Living life on the edge, that’s me. I’d like to be more physical but haven’t been on any kind of regular exercise schedule since before THE FIREMAN book tour. Hummmm. I also started playing piano this year for the first time since I was 13, and come evening I like to practice for a half hour. But I won’t today cos one of my fingers is f’d up. Maybe I’ll have an episode of THE AMERICANS. Then it’ll be 10PM and I’ll go to bed, like an old person. Shit. I think I’m an old person.

(5) I’VE HEARD THIS SONG BEFORE. Cora Buhlert’s “The Three Fractions of Speculative Fiction” jumps off from a Nathaniel Givens article recently linked in the Scroll, analyzing the sources of complaints about Hugo Award winners, then goes back to 2013 when Sad Puppies had barely begun for an eye-opening comparison of Hugo complaints then being made by fan critics and iconoclasts totally unrelated to the Puppies. Extra points to Buhlert for remembering what those other voices were saying.

Nonetheless, I did remember that there was a controversy involving the 2013 Hugos at the time, a controversy I chronicled in several posts here, here and here.

Interestingly, most “The Hugos are broken” complaints that year came not from the puppy side (though Larry Correia waded into the fray, being his usual charming self) but from overwhelmingly British critics, who complained about the alleged lack of sophistication of the nominees. For examples, check out these posts by Justin Landon, Aidan Moher, Adam Callaway and Jonathan McCalmont.

The critics who wrote those posts are not puppies. Quite the contrary, they are probably the polar opposite. Where the puppies complain that the Hugos aren’t populist enough and reward obscure literary works, these critics complain that the Hugos are too populist and not sophisticated enough. However, if you read through those posts (and particularly Justin Landon’s remains a marvel of condescension) you’ll notice that their criticisms of the Hugos eerily mirror those made by the sad and rabid puppies a few years later: The Hugos are broken, they are dominated by a small and incestous clique of aging babyboomers who have been attending WorldCon for decades and/or an equally incestous clique of livejournal posters voting for their friends, those cliques are hostile to outsiders and disregard everybody who doesn’t attend cons as “not a real fan”, only works that appeal to that clique of insiders are nominated and the books/authors the critics like are never nominated. So the Hugos should be burned to the ground or reformed to represent all of fandom or maybe a new award should be established to better represent what’s best in SFF. And as if the puppy parallels weren’t striking enough, many of those posts also contain some bonus condescension towards women writers and writers of colour. Oh yes, and they all agree that Redshirts is an unworthy nominee. Ditto for Lois McMaster Bujold and Mira Grant/Seanan McGuire. Opinions are divided on Saladin Ahmed.

So what is going on here? Why do two seemingly diametrically opposed groups make so very similar points? …

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • September 13, 1977 – Jay Anson’s The Amityville Horror is published.

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born September 13, 1916 — Roald Dahl
  • Born September 13, 1939 — Richard Kiel

(8) NOT ALL CATS ARE SJW CREDENTIALS. L. Jagi Lamplighter, in “The Bifrost Between Calico and Gingham”, explains the difference between Sad Puppies and those who are satisfied with the Hugos, using “Cat Pictures Please” as an illustration [BEWARE SPOILERS].

I have been asked what the Puppies—Sad and Rabid alike—are objecting to? If they are not racist or homophobes—ie, if it is not the author’s identity that they object to—why do they think that so many of the stories that have been winning the Hugo and the Nebula are receiving their awards for the wrong reasons?

I think I can explain. I will use, for my example, the short story that won the Hugo in 2016: “Cat Pictures Please.” ….

So, to Left-Leaning readers, “Cat Pictures Please” is a witty story with a common, but perhaps new-to-them, SF premise, which also reinforces their idea of truth about the world and comes to a delightfully-satisfying conclusion.

The mixture of the simple SF premise, the wit, and the satisfying political leaning make it a very delightful story indeed.

To anyone who is Right-Leaning, “Cat Pictures Please” is a witty story with a common, and perhaps not-so-new-to-them, SF premise, which is full of concepts and moral choices that grate on them the wrong way, and the end is, while a bit amusing, rather unpleasant.

The first group says, “This is a great story!

The second group says, “Look, I’ll be fair and overlook all the pokes in the eye, but as I am regarding the story through my blurry, now-painful eyes, I want to see some really fantastic science fiction. Something that wows me so much that I am going to think it is worth putting next to “Nightfall” or “Harrison Bergeron.” And I just don’t see it.

 “Your stuff is not new. If you take today’s problems and put them in space, that’s not science fiction. You need the new, the controversial, to be SF. 

“Where is the stuff that’s going to shake my world and make me think, the way the Hugo winners of years gone by, such as “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”, did?

(9) HOW HUGO VOTING CHANGES MAY WORK. Cheryl Morgan wrote an analytical post after watching the MACII Business Meeting videos – “WSFS Has Spoken – What Does It Mean?” —  which I just got a chance to read today. I found Cheryl’s speculation about the impact of the changes to the Hugo voting rules very interesting, indeed. Here’s just one brief excerpt:

So I have no objection to the detection of “natural slates”. Politically, however, I suspect it will be a minefield. If, next year, when EPH is used on the actual voting, people who are not on the Puppy slates get eliminated by it, I think that there will be an outcry. Fandom at large is expecting EPH to get rid of all of the Puppies, and no one else. It will not do either. People are not going to be happy.

Another potential issue here is the effect that EPH will have on Helsinki in particular. Finnish fans will presumably want to vote for Finnish works. Because there are a lot fewer Finnish writers than non-Finnish ones, there will be much less diversity in their nominations. I suspect that EPH will see the Finnish votes as a slate and kick some of the nominees off. That too will make some people unhappy, including me.

(10) JEOPARDY! Another science fiction question on Jeopardy! This one was worth $800 in Numerical Literature. Steven H Silver sent a long a screencap, and confirmed “They got it right.”

jeopardy-que

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Steven Silver, Rose Embolism, Mark-kitteh, and Steve Davidson for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

 

207 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/13/16 I Know Why The Crottled Greep Pings

  1. @As You Know Bob, the song was Alfonsina y el Mar. We sang a 3-part treble version, but the recording I attempted to link is in solo form. It’s a song about a woman who was crossed in love, and walks into the sea. Most of it is sad and affectionate – the lyricist talks about the sea creatures who happily meet her and play by her side (this is where the five little mermaids come in), and refers to her sleeping, dressed in the sea. It’s very beautiful and sad, with just a few harsh words for her lost lover.

  2. Tangentially, I just finished McGuire’s latest October Daye novel and I think I’m done with that series. It’s not that it’s uninteresting or poorly written or that I don’t have some sort of investment in the characters, but I just don’t want to visit that world again for a good long while, if ever. I’ve noticed that as a series goes on, the voices of the characters start to sound more alike than different (and each voice is more likely to have developed authorial tics) and the sense of…possibility? potential? that excites my imagination ebbs as the landscape fills up with the details of previous books.

    In this particular case, the biggest hurdle was the similarity of character voices, but that’s just a detail. I think The Dark Tower was the last series of more than four books that I read in its entirety and my bookcase is filled with unread fifth, ninth, 18th books that I’ll probably never get around to.

    1)I CAN’T REMEMBER THE TITLE BUT IT WAS ABOUT COLLECTIONS – Meh. I read anthologies partly because I really love shorter fiction and partly because good editors introduce me to new authors that I might not find on my own. The anthologies can feature thematic links or diverse authors or whatever and if the writers are getting paid and readers search out and ask for more work from authors they’ve discovered, great. Also great would be greater opportunities for women, PoC of all genders, etc., in all markets, but in the same way that much of my reading is by women, because I’m female and it’s my sweet spot, that is probably going to require a lot of people from a lot of diverse backgrounds reading the slush and queries.

    Until that happens, there seems to be a lot of value in seeking out writers who aren’t white, male and heterosexual and publishing them in whatever format, including anthologies set up for doing jus that.

  3. Dawn Incognito said:

    This is probably a joke. I’m probably reading a funny funny joke seriously again.

    ………but if it’s not a joke I would love to accompany you on that cognitive psychology dive. Just sayin’.

    Thanks! It was not an intentional joke, but since I dashed off that comment quickly, unintentional humor is always a possibility.

    Anyway, in lieu of the really long explanation I don’t have time to provide, I’ll recommend Daniel Kahnemann’s Thinking Fast and Slow for anyone who is interested in cognitive psychology and doesn’t have a big enough TBR pile yet.

  4. Fred Clark aka slacktivist has a follow up to his article yesterday:

    No, ‘SJW’ is not used to deflate pompous Comstockian moralists. That’s not how it’s used at all.

    It’s…really good. It brings to mind the blatherations of various pups/ GGers about how the “W” in in SJW is terrible/ undeserved/ dreadful, and their obsession to replace it with various other pejoratives – Zealots, Zombies, Weenies, Whiners etc. What they fail to recognise is how they, at the same time , are revealing their ignorance, if not outright detestation, of what is meant by the “SJ” portion, and just how important that may be.

  5. BtW, this is likely to be me reading too much into it, but I’m a *little* twitchy about the comments regarding Lamplighter that conflate/ compare her views with that of her spouse. She’s her own person, and eminently capable of making up idiotic StrawFen arguments that are independent of his idiotic arguments.

    Granted that a husband and wife can harmoniously harbor quite opposite viewpoints, but Lamplighter’s explicitly writing as an EveryPuppy explaining the Puppy Point of view in the above article. And JCW, aside from being her husband, is one of the more eminent puppies in Puppydom, indeed one of the most eminent puppies pupping today. And he’s not alone in his distaste for Omelas among puppies, as I found an article trashing the story posted to that foremost puppy website, Castalia House, with an enthusiastic commentariat and not one defender – (full disclosure – except me. No, I won’t link. Google “Castalia House” and “Omelas” if you’re interested). IIRC, Hoyt has also expressed distaste for the tale. AFAICT, their objections are to Le Guin’s odious political message.

    So if Lamplighter is describing the Puppy viewpoint AND positing Omelas as a standard of excellence to be matched, she’s either blissfully ignorant of the standards of a lot of other puppies or she’s disingenuously trying to sell The Puppy Point of View while misrepresenting it.

  6. “Should the Puppies have slated” is a separate question from “why don’t the Puppies like these stories” Lamplighter is talking about only the second here. I thought her comments on Cat Pictures was quite reasonable. I was pleased to note that she agrees that 1) the people who voted for the story really liked it and 2) her problem with the story was the politics not that the writing was terrible.

  7. I was pleased to note that she agrees that 1) the people who voted for the story really liked it and 2) her problem with the story was the politics not that the writing was terrible.

    Good point. She deserves credit for expressing belief that the people who like the story actually genuinely like it and aren’t just pretending.

  8. It’s probably been said already but why on earth do some of the Puppies dislike Omelas? It’s an (unintended) rewrite of “The Grand Inquisitor.” Do they really view it as a rejection of Christianity? Is that a common reading? Guess I always viewed it as more like utilitarianism vs. deontology.

  9. I don’t know, I feel like meeting a basic standard of decency and demonstrating a passing familiarity with reality isn’t something anyone deserves credit for. Great, she didn’t call everyone who voted for Jemisin a liar. No, I’m not baking her a cookie.

  10. @Shao Ping
    As far as I remember from the discussions I read, the talking points against the story were: the parts of the story about paradisical Omelas including sexual liberty and religion without clergy as a positive good, and more importantly their perception of the story as a enforced binary choice between wickedness (staying in Omelas) or cowardice (leaving).

    I gather they cried out for an option of heroic combat in which they run in with guns blazing, rescue the child, and let the city fall to the doom the child’s torment averted, and despised the story for not making that a possible choice. They didn’t seem to see that that choice is ALREADY clearly implied in the story as the worst of the three. By bringing down poverty, injustice and cruelty and death on Omelas at large, they subject all its children (who are essentially innocent hostages) to the same torments the one child suffers – and among those there will be many who end up suffering it to an equivalent degree that one child suffers. So rescuing that one child would be like carpet-bombing a city of innocent hostages to save one.

    No doubt that would be an attractive solution to the problem for some people, but the story posits that the true solution, if we have founded a society that has reduced the number of suffering children by a great many, is to go on seeking one that reduces it more, that reduces it, ideally, to none, and to go on seeking such a thing even if it may be an impossibility. But to binary folk, such a shades-of-gray answer must feel pretty unsatisfactory.

    Not to mention that if you’re of a religious bent, you may have accepted that a certain amount of suffering is inherent in the world, and possibly resent the idea that we have a responsibility to improve this world instead of wait for heaven to show us its unimprovable template.

  11. @Jayn: There is also the possibility that the fact that the suffering of a single scapegoated child was what made the utopian bliss of the city possible might have hit a little bit too close to home for some of the more ardent Christians.

  12. Jayn and Aaron, some religious bents seem to go there, though I’ve never understood it myself. As to Christianity, Jesus has always struck me as quite the social justice warrior, though many of his followers have not been. Still, I’m not the only one to read him as requiring his followers to do social justice work.

  13. Jayn and Aaron, some religious bents seem to go there, though I’ve never understood it myself.

    If one reads the child as Jesus, the story is saying that Christianity is fundamentally immoral, and the only thing one can do is walk away from it.

  14. Aaron on September 14, 2016 at 8:00 pm said:
    @Jayn: There is also the possibility that the fact that the suffering of a single scapegoated child was what made the utopian bliss of the city possible might have hit a little bit too close to home for some of the more ardent Christians.

    But the willing suffering of the martyrs, and of Jesus himself, are what purchases salvation for the rest of Christiandom.
    So the notion of an innocent suffering having a positive value of is a fraught issue, the only real difference being that martyrs presumably choose their fate while the child in Omelas has not done so.
    And isn’t it a trope for ordinary people to offer up their involuntary sufferings in order to transform it by so doing into something pleasing to god.
    — all of this is offered up a bit tentatively since I’m not a Christian, I just read about them in the middle ages.

  15. @Lis Carey: That was (at least) me who was interested in your Forsaken Skies review – thanks!

    @Heather Rose Jones: Open submission recipients or not, I’ve picked up a few new names thanks to the “Destroy” series. I don’t read a lot of short fiction, so this helps me get exposed to new stuff by diverse people, even if they’re familiar to some people.

    Didn’t the Destroy series at least in a small way begin in reaction to right-wing hyperbole about X destroying SF? Are people overlooking or ignoring that (it seems to me), or am I way off base and the original one was planned aside from that and the name came later to just add a hook?

    @Rose Embolism: As a reader, I do like seeing works on a theme, even if the theme is author and protaganist characteristics.

    Hmm, another thing, since I don’t read a lot of short fiction, even if it’s published regularly in certain magazines, I just won’t see/find/read X. So, a themed anthology around X interests me and is on of the only ways I’ll actually see a lot of X, where X is something I don’t see much of. (Exception: I see and read plenty of fiction by women in longer form.) This doesn’t mean I buy any old anthology around X, though. Lately there’ve been a LOT of GLBTQ-etc. comics anthologies, and I’m getting kinda over them. But then, I read several web comics regularly with G* (can I just use a wildcard?) characters, so there ya go.

    Probably not super-coherent, sorry.

  16. @Aaron: But is that a common reading? A quick Google search suggested it might be but honestly it seems a bit of a stretch to me. I guess I also don’t think of Le Guin as generally being concerned about Christianity tbh but that may be more me than her works.

  17. But the willing suffering of the martyrs, and of Jesus himself, are what purchases salvation for the rest of Christiandom.

    But was it willing? If one pursues the question of Jesus’ willingness to its logical conclusion, one can take the position that Jesus was born predestined to be sacrificed – that child in the manger already had his future determined.

    On another point, is it moral to accept salvation purchased in such a way? One can climb down all kinds of rabbit holes with Omelas, and I’m pretty sure none of them were meant to be comfortable.

    I don’t know if Le Guin was specifically pointing towards Christianity with the story, but there is a tradition of “innocent sacrifice” in a lot of religious traditions around the world, and given Le Guin’s knowledge concerning anthropology, the parallels to them were probably not an accident.

  18. @Aaron
    That’s a great Hugo post-mortem.

    @James Nicoll

    There’s an interesting subgenre of SF I think of as “stuff clearly written specifically to annoy me.” Part of the joke is that it’s invariably widely lauded despite being obvious shit. 2312, for example, and The Wind Up Girl. Throw in a little global warning and it doesn’t matter if the book is basically recycled Disco Era (or in the case of TWUG, Escape! era) tropes with a delightful sprinkling of racism, people will fall over themselves handing the authors awards.

    Same here, including those two books. Indeed, I have come to the conclusion that Bacigalupi is specifically writing to annoy me, as did the late Graham Joyce. However, this does not mean that those who fall over themselves to hand awards to such books and authors are wrong (though I question their taste), only that they apparently see something in those works I simply cannot see or have different life experiences which allow them to evaluate those works differently.

    BTW, I’ll never forget that the one time I posted a mild criticism of one of Bacigalupi’s novels (I think it was “Shipbreaker”), I promptly had someone call me a “shill for the oil industry.” – “No”, I replied, “I actually know this stuff is wrong, because I work in the environmental protection industry.”

    Regarding the comments on my “three fractions of SFF” post, I will probably write a follow-up to that eventually, just not today.

  19. @Lis Carey
    I had so much to say about Mike’s scroll, and now I’ve read through the comments I don’t really have much original to contribute. Not the first time that’s happened!

    I know how you feel, I don’t usually want to just post “Me, too!” without adding something marginally original. OTOH, sometimes, like today, I want to put my 2¢ in anyway, so I don’t read the other comments first! 8-p

    I enjoy reading your opinions when you express them, Lis.

  20. The scientist writing SF I love, and who seems to have been forgotten, is Hilbert Schenck. I didn’t realize he’d died. I knew one of his students and three of his stories quite well: “Three Days at the End of the World”, “The Battle of the Abaco Reefs”, and “The Morphology of the Kirkham Wreck”.

    Those are in a collection called Waverider which I’d love to find.

    @Kyra:

    True Grit, by Charles Portis

    Always nice to see a fellow Arkansawyer mentioned, especially one who writes really good books. His other very short novel, Norwood, is my other favorite of his. It’s a very different sort of book, much funnier! But still distinctly Portis’ voice.

    And both movies had Glen Campbell in them. Yet another Arkansawyer.

  21. It is interesting that you all are seeing the Omelas story in religious terms. For me, it was always a way to describe the first world living on the suffering of the third world.

  22. For me the beauty of Omelas is the subtle ambiguity underneath the message. This is my personal favorite reading of the story:

    Wait wait wait. The author says, repeatedly, that the reader may not believe such an idyll. So, it seems as a direct result, she reveals the neglected child. Is she building up the reader’s disbelief and then giving them what they expect and asking them, in turn, whether they are fulfilled by the introduction of such a wretched element? If you’re expecting and expecting the other shoe to drop, do you get any satisfaction out of its dropping? Did it really make anything better to have it there? It isn’t just about the larger questions of whether we tolerate evil in our society. It’s a little bit about how we as human beings don’t give credence to goodness without torturing some child in the process. Maybe the ones who walk away from Omelas are smarter about this than I am, because they know that such goodness at such cost is the opposite of satisfying.

    (source)

  23. If one reads the child as Jesus, the story is saying that Christianity is fundamentally immoral, and the only thing one can do is walk away from it.

    That is not an interpretation that occurred to me. Since Christ is the Willing sacrifice its not really the same thing.

    For me, it was always a way to describe the first world living on the suffering of the third world.

    That’s much close to my reading.

  24. I saw “2001” in the original Cinerama road show version, buy your tickets well in advance, and dress up nice. So I had been considering AIs and their motivations since at least late 1968, because the whole family went and it was quite the subject of dinnertime conversation for a while. And before that, we all watched “Star Trek” — Nomad, anyone? Then in the 80’s, I worked on AI (yes, we made HAL jokes). So the AI concepts in CPP weren’t novel — they were something that I’ve kinda taken for granted since I was a kindergarten lurkertype. Heck, the story itself takes it for granted — it’s the computer’s personality that’s charming, and the frustration it has with trying to figure people out. I’m not sure how someone’s (American) political attitude has anything to do with how widely read they are, or vice versa.

    Besides the attitudes, it’s stupid shit like this that doesn’t help the Puppy case. When they say stuff that manifestly isn’t true, particularly things that are in print and are bare facts (like “If You Were…” NOT winning the Hugo), or denying what they themselves said on their own websites, it’s no wonder nobody outside their little circles has sympathy for them. They just look like liars, even if they aren’t.

    @Aaron: Considering a high percentage of half-bright 15 year olds who get assigned “Omelas” in English class come up with the “child = Jesus?” thought, I’m not sure why LJL didn’t, except as Darren said, she didn’t go to regular school or was encouraged to think critically about things. And I’m sure she’d wave it away by saying Jesus wasn’t tortured his whole life, and besides goddidit. And I agree that she probably used the psychotherapy objections to cover up her reaction of “ew, there’s happy gay people” in CPP. Plus a lot of right-wingers are so very, very anti-science nowadays; it’s a tribal marker/virtue signaling.

    @Xtifr: indeed, there was much grumbling about “Dune” for ecology, hallucinogenics, and beloved and influential concubines who gave birth to heirs. “Star Trek” got dissed for putting minorities and a proud Russian on the bridge (and of course all the stations that wouldn’t show Kirk and Uhura kissing), plus stuff that was transparently against racism, war, and so on.

    Good for Puppies having their safe space! I hope they’ll have a lot of fun and not be so sad and angry all the time. And reading Appendix N books might help them catch up on the past works they’re so patently ignorant of. But it proves the Monopuppist position, since they’re supporting Teddy for the offensive drek he puts out.

    @James Davis Nicoll: am enjoying your amusing stories of Canada in this thread! I guess that quote is a dig at Nunavut and therefore the NWT; by extension the government of Canada for not making Quebec speak God’s Chosen Language and allowing a big chunk to change its’ name to something not even European. But hey, that photo of Tank is a great illustration of “the crazy eyes”.

    @Johan P: I am enlightened, thank you. Being unable to read a word of Finnish, I have no idea what stories published this year might be Hugo-worthy; being not a Hugo administrator, I have no idea what percentage of the nominators will be Finns.

  25. I liked this “answer story” response to LeGuin: “The Ones Who Stay and Fight in Omelas” by Will Shetterly.

    (Yes, -that- Will Shetterly. I have more forbearance for Will than a lot of people. There’ve been a lot of times he’s written something I disagree with, but in a way that makes me think about why. And sometimes he writes something I agree with, and I still have to stop and think about why. But I’ve tried to encourage him to write more fiction again, not least because I think work like Captain Confederacy, Dogland, and the story I’ve linked to above do more to change minds than all his political/social posts and comments.)

    (Perhaps I should mention that one of the reasons I write fiction is it helps minimize my own penchant for getting into disagreements and arguments online.)

    – – – – –

    John A Arkansawyer: Used copies of Waverider are listed on Alibris for prices ranging from 99 cents to nearly $70. I’ve been pretty satisfied with the 99-cents books I’ve gotten via Alibris, usually from Better World Books. I stick to the lower-priced end because the shipping charges ($3.99 for the first book, $2.99 for additional books from the same vendor) add up fast. You should still be able to get a copy for under $5.

  26. re: Omelas
    It’s been more than 20 years since I’ve even reread the story, let alone when I originally read it (probably in early to mid 70s). But it certainly made a lasting impression on my psyche.

    I never saw it as having just one point. Instead I saw several layers – that all choices lead to pain/inequality/moral dilemma; that we live in Omelas now – look at the worldwide pain while we live in relative comfort; that most people will sacrifice others for their own comfort/survival/profit/political agendas, but walking away maybe doesn’t solve the problem; but maybe not participating is all you can do, if you don’t have the power to free the child; etc.

    It never even occurred to me that it was specifically directed at Christianity, and I was a fairly new ex-fundamentalist at that time who had my antennae primed for any such nuances.

    I think, like some of the most intriguing art, Omelas holds up a mirror for us to see ourselves reflected back.

  27. @Aaron
    One can climb down all kinds of rabbit holes with Omelas, and I’m pretty sure none of them were meant to be comfortable.

    OK, Aaron said it much more succinctly than I did! ?

  28. @ Cheryl: Gotta disagree with you. I made the mistake of picking up Once Broken Faith to read at dinner, and just now (3:00 AM) resurfaced, having had barely enough presence of mind to leave the novella for tomorrow. I’m not hearing what you say is the convergence of character voices at all, and the plot is a humdinger — equally heavy on the action and the Court politics, the usual amount of Toby-related gore (she’s a blood-worker, of course there’s gore), good use of some of the minor characters, and some interesting insights into the fae kingdoms up and down the West Coast.

    One of my friends expressed concern, a few books back, that Toby seemed to be continually leveling-up with her powers. After the last couple of books, I think she’s found her limits, and is now working on improving her expertise. Also, I’m pleased that I spotted one aspect of how the murder had been done early on, although my mental description of it was a bit more SFnal than it turned out to be.

  29. @ Aaron: I was always taught that Jesus went to his fate willingly (albeit not without a few last-minute collywobbles). The child on Omelas is emphatically NOT a willing sacrifice, and for that reason I have always viewed the walking-away as the more moral choice. Spock in Wrath of Khan is much more of a Jesus analogy IMO.

    @ Hampus: I read the story when I was much younger and less politically aware — but now that you’ve said that, my reaction is, “Well, of COURSE it is!” I’ve even used similar analogies about the ills of outsourcing (e.g. we enact pollution laws to clean up the US, and the manufacturers promptly put factories in poor countries without such laws), and this is just that concept taken to its ultimate conclusion.

  30. JJ on September 14, 2016 at 3:47 pm said:

    Lorcan Nagle: I wonder if a some of the Puppies’ seeming ignorance on the history of liberalism in SF is down to today’s liberal ideals being tomorrow’s conservative bastions? Like how they don’t object to Star Trek even though it’s some of the most blatant message fiction out there.

    I think a lot of it is that the people claiming SF is only now rife with liberalism and messages 1) have not read all that much of the older stuff, and/or 2) are remembering the older stuff through a personal lens which saw only what they wanted to see (or what they agreed with).

    David Gerrold had a widely-publicized exchange on Facebook a year or two ago with a commenter who kept insisting that Star Trek was all about technological advances, and that it had nothing to do with social messages. It seemed pretty clear that the guy’s “lens” was very focused on the part of Star Trek which interested him, and that he didn’t even see the rest of it.

    A lot of Puppies seem to be remembering older SF with a similar myopia.

    That’s a very good point. There’s definitely things I see now in SF I consumed as a kid but had no idea was there at the time. I remember rewatching Babylon 5 in the early 2000s and spotting aspects of the Nightwatch arc that spoke to what I saw in US politics at the time, but wouldn’t have noticed 5 years prior.

    JJ on September 14, 2016 at 3:50 pm said:

    James Davis Nicoll: There’s an interesting subgenre of SF I think of as “stuff clearly written specifically to annoy me.” Part of the joke is that it’s invariably widely lauded despite being obvious shit. 2312, for example, and The Wind Up Girl.

    Thank you for saying that. For quite a while, I thought there must be something wrong with me, until I saw enough other people post similar comments.

    I’m somewhere in the middle in that I enjoyed the Windup Girl and didn’t like 2312 at all (well, I liked the setting, but the story was almost nonexistent)

    And speaking of Puppy Myopia, I still can’t get over Torgersen complaining about Redshirts beating 2312, while also complaining about blargh blargh social justice, while 2312’s two lead characters have genetically altered themselves to have male and female genitalia (and this is noted to be a fairly common body modification), the book lists something like 20 common sexual orientations, and Kim Stanley Robinson has gone on record that he was deliberately blurring the gender lines. It’s almost as if he was championing a book he didn’t read (over another book I doubt he read, to be honest)

  31. Lorcan Nagle: And speaking of Puppy Myopia, I still can’t get over Torgersen complaining about Redshirts beating 2312, while also complaining about blargh blargh social justice, while 2312’s two lead characters have genetically altered themselves to have male and female genitalia (and this is noted to be a fairly common body modification), the book lists something like 20 common sexual orientations, and Kim Stanley Robinson has gone on record that he was deliberately blurring the gender lines. It’s almost as if he was championing a book he didn’t read (over another book I doubt he read, to be honest)

    I don’t think that BT is at all well-read in SFF. I seem to remember him saying somewhere that most of his SFF background consists of gaming-related and media (TV/movie/comic book) tie-ins. In the midst of the Puppying he admitted that he hadn’t actually read any Correia or Ringo.

    So when he started going on about the incredible travesty of Redshirts winning over 2312, I was laughing my ass off. Firstly, because 2312, in my opinion, is a wildly uneven book of middling quality, and secondly, because KSR is probably even more of an SJW than Scalzi is — but BT was obviously completely unaware of that, and so clearly had not read any of KSR’s fiction, or he would have known that.

  32. JJ on September 15, 2016 at 2:15 am said:
    I don’t think that BT is at all well-read in SFF. I seem to remember him saying somewhere that most of his SFF background consists of gaming-related and media (TV/movie/comic book) tie-ins. In the midst of the Puppying he admitted that he hadn’t actually read any Correia or Ringo.

    It sometimes shocks me how similar my SF reading history is to Torgersen – we’re of a similar age, I also started out reading licensed fiction and gaming tie-ins. I also haven’t read any Correia or Ringo!

    Of course, I started reading ‘original’ SF more than 20 years ago, and have worked to expand my horizons while still dipping back into the licensed stuff from time to time.

    So when he started going on about the incredible travesty of Redshirts winning over 2312, I was laughing my ass off. Firstly, because 2312, in my opinion, is a wildly uneven book of middling quality, and secondly, because KSR is probably even more of an SJW than Scalzi is — but BT was obviously completely unaware of that, and so clearly had not read any of KSR’s fiction, or he would have known that.

    I hadn’t read 2312 at that point, but I had read the Mars Trilogy back in the 90s, and I was thinking “The guy who writes about anarcho-socialists taking over Mars? really?

  33. @Bruce Arthurs: I gather Will is considered difficult by some folks. I find him rather refreshing myself, usually even when I think he’s wrong. It’s very easy, especially in these United States, to take capitalism generally and class stratification particularly for granted. He doesn’t do that and it ticks people off no end. I think he’s wrong to place such low value on fighting the other forms of evil, but I also think he’s a lot closer to right than those who take the reverse (as opposed to the opposite, which is pro-evil) point of view. I’ve also seen him change his mind when given a good reason.

    I feel these days as though I’m back living in the old new left, which picked right up where it left off without really learning anything from its failures, when what I think we need is a new old left, which has accepted the critiques of the last fifty years and applied them.

    And thank you for looking up Waverider! I can’t order it, though. Starting up on the internet bazaar is like crack for me. I’ve already got so much stuff. If I didn’t limit myself to what I can carry away from a store or a dealer room or a visit to the big city, I’d overdose on books and records.

  34. Some more SF by scientists (defined by me as someone who earned a PhD in a scientific field):

    The Black Cloud by Fred Hoyle
    Anthill by E.O. Wilson
    Contact by Carl Sagan

    Multiple novels:

    Isaac Asimov
    Robert L. Forward

  35. @Jonesnori
    I agree that Le Guin has little interest in such a narrow focus as an attack on Christianity. I’m not a Christian, so I don’t know if such an interpretation is likely from someeone who is. I didn’t see that reading in the puppy discussions I saw (though I may have missed one when my eyes rolled back into my head). I agree with you and Junego that the parable is about how we must always be aware how our pleasures and conveniences may harm others, and how we have the eternal obligation to work endlessly toward reducing that harm, or else be complicit. I suspect that theme os WAY too SJW for the pups.

  36. With the caveat that I haven’t read any of the linked articles on it, I’m a bit surprised the Puppies haven’t come to the conclusion that Omelas is a swipe at SJW utopia that comes with a poison pill, which we of course overlook, and which is a direct metaphoric result of “giving women the right to choose.” (No idea if this is original, but it seems like an obvious enough conclusion someone could leap to if it appears to bolster his or her side.)

  37. @Lee said: I was always taught that Jesus went to his fate willingly (albeit not without a few last-minute collywobbles). The child on Omelas is emphatically NOT a willing sacrifice, and for that reason I have always viewed the walking-away as the more moral choice.

    As I said before, there is a case to be made that the “willingness” of Jesus is questionable, since he was specifically born to die as a sacrifice. The point of Omelas (and I would say the point of much of what Le Guin has written) is to get people to question what they accept as being obviously true.

    There are a lot of interpretations of Omelas, some relating to religion, others (as has been noted above by various commenters) relating to class divisions, or imperialism, or other societal issues. In a sense, all of them are right. I think the key of the story is to question what you accept as the “normal” way of life and consider the possible injustices that support it.

  38. Some more SF by scientists (defined by me as someone who earned a PhD in a scientific field):

    David Brin has a Ph.D. in space science.
    Stephen Baxter has a Ph.D. in engineering.
    E.E. “Doc” Smith had a Ph.D. in chemical engineering

  39. I’m simple minded and while I have taken secondary meanings away from Omelas that seem to depend on where I am in my life when I’ve reread it, the lesson that is always foremost for me is the moral imperative to recognize the cost of everything.

    @Lee – Gotta disagree with you. I made the mistake of picking up Once Broken Faith to read at dinner, and just now (3:00 AM) resurfaced, having had barely enough presence of mind to leave the novella for tomorrow. I’m not hearing what you say is the convergence of character voices at all, and the plot is a humdinger — equally heavy on the action and the Court politics, the usual amount of Toby-related gore (she’s a blood-worker, of course there’s gore), good use of some of the minor characters, and some interesting insights into the fae kingdoms up and down the West Coast.

    Thanks for giving me another viewpoint. I’m still trying to figure out why this was the probable end for me, because I agree with you about the sheer readability of Once Broken Faith. Unlike the last two or three, I didn’t struggle with the book at all, stopping only when I had to do other things (like drive, as opposed to walk to the car, which still allows reading). But…there was a point when I thought, hmmm the Luidaeg sounds like Antimony Price sounds like Shaun Mason and Toby sounds like, etc., and that awareness kept bumping my brain while I was reading.

    I suspect haaating everything about the first two books in her Parasitology series made me more sensitive to McGuire’s writing quirks and that made it harder to just accept the fictional world of the series.

  40. @ Cheryl: That may indeed be the difference. I have not read any of the Incryptid stuff (well, except for one short story recommended by a friend, which confirmed my decision that those books are Not For Me), and so have nothing outside the Toby Daye books to influence my opinion.

  41. Just seen in the wild: Disney is launching a new middle-grade line called “Rick Riordan Presents”. According to the editor in charge,

    ”I know he feels that, in some instances, the books his readers are asking for him to write are really someone else’s story to tell,” Lurie said.

    Accordingly, the mission of Rick Riordan Presents will be to “find, nurture, and promote the best storytellers for middle grade readers,” with the focus on diverse, mythology-based fiction by new, emerging, and under-represented authors.”

  42. @Darren Garrison: Fred Hoyle wrote around a dozen SF novels, including October the First is Too Late and A for Andromeda (the latter in collaboration with his son Geoffrey).

  43. I didn’t much care either for the first Toby Daye book, nor for the first Incryptid book, so never continued with either series … but I loooooooooved the Indexing books and Sparrow Hill Road. So perhaps there are McGuires to suit all tastes! 🙂

  44. not making Quebec speak God’s Chosen Language

    Americans have often been annoyed at how Quebec has not been sufficiently crushed:

    For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

  45. @Aaron: If Christianity is true, then Jesus was willing all the way, since He choose in heaven to be born as human in the manger. And if it is not true, no happiness was purchased by the cross. Your point only works if one accepts a version of Christs life where Christianity is true about the end but not the beginning.

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