Hugo Awards Study Committee Report Online

The final Hugo Awards Study Committee Report is now online at the Worldcon 76 WSFS Business Meeting page along with the draft agenda for this year’s Business Meeting.

Committee chair Vincent Docherty says:

The committee got going much later than planned (entirely due to my own lack of time due to other commitments) but once we got started there was very energetic participation by the 20+ committee members. The report summarises the discussion and makes a number of recommendations, including four specific proposals which are on this year’s Business Meeting agenda (three updates to categories and continuation of the committee), as well as a number of topics for further discussion next year, assuming the committee is continued.

The committee welcomes feedback from interested fans. We’re aware of some online reaction to the specific proposals already, which might result in adjustments to the proposals when we get to the Business Meeting.

My thanks to the committee members for their work this year.

Direct link to the report: “2018 Report of the Hugo Awards Study Committee”

An excerpt from the overview of their recommendations —

…Understanding that the overall operation of the categories works well, the Committee found several places for improvement:

The Committee found that the present definitions in the Fan Artist/Professional Artist category were potentially problematic. The Fan Artist category was initially designed in 1967, seeking to honor those offering their artistic talents to the broader community of fandom for little or no compensation. Such contributions were often in the form of illustrations for fanzines and convention programs. In the last fifty years, however, the form that fandom has taken has changed, and the result is that the definition of Fan Artist was found to be outdated. This was given an extensive examination. The Committee also acknowledges that some further examination of the other fan/professional categories may be in order, and has proposed to carry forward at least one further change in this area.

The Committee found the term “Graphic Story” problematic. Just as “comic book” has come to be taken as including work not literally comic, “graphic story” has come to be taken as excluding work appearing in comic books or comic strips. The Committee proposes re-titling to “Best Graphic Story or Comic.”

The Committee feels that altering “Best Fancast” into a “Best Podcast” category and removing the restriction on eligible productions receiving money is desirable. Many podcasts generate income from either limited advertisements, tip jars, or other small streams of income. While these are often not sufficient to support someone making a living, the income can still be substantial. As also discussed in the context of the Fan/Professional Artist categories, the use of fixed income thresholds was also found to be problematic.

In addition to the Artist categories, the Committee gave some consideration to cases of category overlap and/or gaps in categories in general, and would propose to continue examining this both in the context of current and proposed awards. This arose, in particular, in discussions surrounding the future of Best Novel and the proposed Best Translated category.

The Committee also briefly considered several other questions, including how well the Hugo Awards have handled the digital/print divide and differences between how terms are used in an “industry” context in non-industry discourse (e.g. by Worldcon attendees/WSFS members who are giving the awards) and in the Hugo Award definitions themselves. Consideration of various such questions fed into the discussions on specific proposals.

The second question, ‘How well do the categories honor what we wish to honor?’, generated more questions for examination. Given the interaction of this question and the question of how many Hugo Awards should be awarded, most of these questions have been recommended for passage forward for further consideration in the next year. In particular:

A Best Translated category was proposed relatively late in the Committee’s deliberations. As a result, the Committee did not have the time to study this potential award in sufficient depth alongside the rest of its workload, and there were multiple ideas as to what form this category should take (e.g. whether it should be limited to novels, cover all written works) and, if recommended, whether the award in question should be a Hugo or a non-Hugo award given by Worldcons. In particular, the Committee proposes to examine whether such an award is presently feasible.

A potential reorganization of the Best Dramatic Presentation categories was considered, and has been proposed to be passed forward should the committee be continued. Multiple alternatives, including a possible addition of one (or more) categories and redefining the Long/Short division into a TV/Movie division, would be given consideration if the committee is reauthorized.

A readjustment of the Best Semiprozine and Best Editor categories has been proposed and will be considered if the Committee is reauthorized. In particular, the Committee feels that the nature of the internet may have reduced the advantage that professional magazines have over non-professional productions, and that allowing professional publications to compete in a “Best Magazine” category would allow them to once again be honored. The Committee also noted various complications with the Best Editor categories; several proposals, including a possible realignment into “Best Anthology” and “Best Imprint,” will be evaluated if we are authorized to do so….

The report advances three proposed changes, and recommends further study of four more:

Part II: Specific Proposals

(1) Proposed continuation of the Hugo Study Committee

(2) Proposed Changes to the Fancast Hugo Category (with slight changes to the Semiprozine and Fanzine categories to maintain consistency)

(3) Proposed Changes to the Professional Artist and Fan Artist Hugo Categories

(4) Proposed Changes to the Best Graphic Story Hugo Category

(5) Proposal Recommended for Further Study: Addition of a Best Translated Work Hugo Category

(6) Proposal Recommended for Further Study: Replacement of Semiprozine and Best Editor Hugo Categories with Professional Magazine, Anthology/Collection, and Publisher/Imprint

(7) Proposal Recommended for Further Study: Potential Alterations to Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo Categories

(8) Proposal Recommended for Further Study: Best Art Book and Alterations to Best Related Work

(9) Proposal Not Recommended for Further Consideration: Best Novel Split

[Thanks to Vincent Docherty for the story.]

Pixel Scroll 8/6/18 Have Space Suit, Will Robinson

(1) LACKEY HOSPITALIZED OVERNIGHT AT GEN CON. Mercedes Lackey thought she was having a stroke, but instead had been poisoned by outgassing from all the materials in the newly renovated room where she stayed at Gen Con. She’s making a full recovery, reports Krypton Radio.

Lackey told Facebook followers the story:

On Wednesday night we checked into the Marriot for Gencon and were given a newly renovated room. What did not occur to me was that this was a newly renovated room and everything was outgassing. Paint, carpet, furniture, everything. In a room with no way to vent the gas building up. And I am incredibly sensitive to that stuff.

Thursday night we went to bed after a day of con work. I woke up to the alarm at 9 after 9 hours and sleep and felt like I hadn’t had any. I reset the alarm for 10, same. I reset it for 11 and got up, still feeling the same. As I was getting ready, I realized I was getting more and more unsteady, dizzy, disoriented, losing my balance. I began talking to myself and heard myself slurring words. I realized I was in trouble, tried to dial 911, got 977 instead, hit the 0 on the house phone, told them I thought I was having a stroke, and please call emergency services.

By the time they got there I was halucinating. When I opened the door to the paramedics, and the hotel manager, I saw the medics, the manager, and standing between them a beautiful woman with long sandy-brown wavy hair in an astronaut’s orange jumpsuit. I explained what my symptoms were as best I could and THEY were convinced I was having a stroke. Meanwhile, Judy Chambers who had been gofering for me had arrived, with Bill Fawcett. Bill took over in his usual efficient manner (and he is literally my guardian angel in this).

By the time we got to the hospital I could barely talk and was hallucinating like it was Woodstock. Bill and Judy were with me every step of the way, as I got EKG, EEG and MRI. I’ll tell you all about the hallucinations some time, they were doozies. Bill stayed with me until I got a room, and the hallucinations and slurred speech started to clear. That was when he told me about the conversation he and the hotel manager had had about the outgassing. Bill stayed with me until about an hour after I fell asleep.

By this morning I was absolutely my old self. By 10 AM I had convinced the GP, the Neurologists and the Toxicologists that I was good to release, and they turned me loose about noon. Charles Borner, another friend who was in the loop (and scheduled to stay with me when Bill couldn’t) brought be back over to the con, and I managed to do my scheduled signing.

(2) THE SILVER AGE OPENS. Galactic Journey’s Gideon Marcus is there at the beginning: “[Aug. 6, 1963] X marks the comic (X-Men, Avengers, Sgt. Fury, and more from Marvel)”.

In fact, if the prior age be gilded, then our current era of comics resurgence must be some kind of Silver Age.  Just look at performance of the successor to Atlas Comics, that titan of the industry that had died back in 1957.  Leaping from obscurity just a few short years ago, Marvel Comics has doubled down on its suite of superheroes, launching three new comic books in just the last few months.

The most exciting of them is The X-Men, featuring a team of teenage mutants under the tutelage of Professor Charles Xavier, at once the most powerful telepath in the world, and also the first handicapped superhero (that I know of).

Let’s meet the cast, shall we?  We’ve got Slim Summers (“Cyclops”), who projects ruby blasts from his eyes; Bobby Drake (“Ice Man”), the kid of the group, who creates ice at will; Hank McCoy (“Beast”), possessed of tremendous agility and oversized hands and feet; Warren Worthington III (“Angel”), a winged member of the upper crust (financially and evolutionarily); and Jean Grey (“Marvel Girl”), a telekinetic.  Why Bobby is a Man and the older Jean is a Girl, I haven’t quite figured out.

(3) FANCASTROVERSY. Claire Rousseau spotted a proposal in the Worldcon Business Meeting Agenda to update the Best Fancast Hugo to Best Podcast that she doesn’t like at all. The thread starts here.

(4) THE FUTURE IS NOW. Reuben Jackson comes up with “6 sci-fi prophecies that are already here” at Big Think.

Contact lenses that record experiences

Just imagine contact lenses that are also cameras, giving them the ability to record and store whatever you see so you can play it back whenever you want to – your wedding, the birth of your child, or a particularly happy vacation that you don’t want to forget.

Well, Sony has recently filed a new patent for ‘smart contact lenses’ that actually record your experiences. The technology behind these lenses would be highly sophisticated. They would feature special sensors that would convert mechanical energy into electrical energy to activate the camera. It would even be able to adjust for the tilt of the wearer’s eye and use autofocus to adjust for blurry images.

(5) LOST SPIRITS. Forbes advises “Forget The Hollywood Studios: Lost Spirits Distillery Is The Best Tour In L.A.”. (From January 2018).

Nestled on Sixth Street in the arts district of Downtown L.A., Lost Spirits Distillery is one of those things you have to be in on to even find it. You don’t need a password or to pass a velvet rope to get in, just a reservation. But you’re not going to casually stroll down Sixth and find Lost Spirits. You have to be in on the secret, which is fitting because once you walk into the lobby you enter another world, one of mystery, science, intrigue and award-winning whiskey and rum.

When you go down the rabbit hole into the Willy Wonka-esque factory for adults, take a trip to the bathroom, even if just to wash your hands. There you will have your first, but not last encounter with TESSA, the computer system that was created by “mad” scientists Bryan Davis and his partners to lead the tour. More HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey than Siri, TESSA is your surprisingly welcoming guide to Lost Spirits.

“We build stuff for jaded people,” Davis says proudly.

Davis, part of the five-person super team that now oversees Lost Spirits, explains to our group during the tour that the bathroom technology was the first use of TESSA. “As soon as we finished the automation software, we looked at each other and were like, ‘Dude, let’s go automate the bathroom,’” he says laughing.

… “They speak to today’s generation of drinkers by combining booze, artificial intelligence, Disneyland and gastronomy to make the best distillery tour ever,” says Joey Chavez, one of the riders on the tour that day.

(6) FANTASTIC 4. This week on Beeb Beeb Ceeb Radio 4 (also available on iPlayer.)

HG Wells’s story of a brutal Martian invasion of Earth, dramatised by Melissa Murray.  BBC Radio 4 play.

by Jules Verne, dramatised by Gregory Evans.

Three very different people escape the American Civil war by stealing a balloon – which crashes near a deserted island. But perhaps it is not quite as deserted as they think it is…

BBC Radio 4 documentary page now up — The comic that had Dan Dare

And also, a dramatized Dan Dare adventure

Episode 1

Dan Dare, The Voyage to Venus Episode 1 of 2

The Voyage to Venus

Dashing test pilot, Dan Dare, is selected to fly the Anastasia – a new experimental spacecraft using alien technology – on its maiden voyage to Venus. The mission is to make first contact with the mysterious civilisation that sent the technological secrets to Earth…

(7) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • August 6, 1996 — The first novel in the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series, A Game of Thrones, was first published on this day
  • August 6, 2003 — Asteroids renamed to honor final Shuttle Columbia crew.

(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born August 6, 1926 – Janet Asimov. Famous for co-authoring the Norby series of YA novels with her husband.
  • Born August 6, 1934 – Piers Anthony
  • Born August 6 — Michelle Yeoh, 56. Regular in the Star Trek: Discovery series, also appears in Guardians of The Galaxy, Vol. 2Crouching Tiger, Hidden DragonThe Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor and Tomorrow Never Dies.
  • Born August 6 — M. Night Shyamalan, 48. Producer, Director or Writer (all three usually) of genre work such as  After EarthThe Last Airbender and Lady in the Lake. Need I note that he always an actor in these as well?
  • Born August 6 — Vera Farmiga, 45. First genre work was in the Roar series, later work includes Snow White: The Fairest of Them All where Snow White meets Satan, more horror in The Conjuring 2, yet more horror as Norma Louise Bates in the Bates Motel series, and appearing in the forthcoming Godzilla: King of the Monsters.
  • Born August 6 — Ever Carradine, 44. Cast regular in The Handmaiden’s Tale, The Runaways and Eureka which weirdly has been renamed A Town Called Eureka. H’h.
  • Born August 6 — Josh Shwartz, 42. Writer, The Runaways, Chuck, and the forthcoming Monster High animated film.

(9) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro shows a Star Fleet gun safety lesson.

(10) MORE TREK IN THE WORKS. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] In an interview with Deadline, “CBS All Access Bosses On More ‘Star Trek’ Series, ‘The Twilight Zone’ Status, Stephen King & More – TCA” CBS execs David Stapf, Marc DeBevoise, and Julie McNamara talked of plans for yet more Star Trek on their paid All Access service:

“My goal is that there should be a Star Trek something on all the time on All Access,” CBS TV Studios president David Stapf said Sunday during a Deadline interview about the CBS streaming service that included the platform’s president and COO Marc DeBevoise and EVP Original Content Julie McNamara.

No, they don’t seem to mean a 24/7/365 Trek channel, but apparently want to have at least one series in the Trek universe(s) on CBS All Access at all times. That would include the recently announced Patrick Stewart Star Trek series but also other Trek spinoffs in development (both “limited series” and “ongoing series.”  They also gave updates on other genre series, including The Twilight Zone reboot and a series adaptation of Stephen King’s The Stand.

(11) CHANNEL YOUR INNER ELF. Now that you know they exist, can you live without them? “Urbun Elf Earbuds Headphones”:

New design elf ear shaped earbud earphone,cute, perfect sound quality.Great gift.

Ultra-soft ergonomic fit in-ear earbud headphones conform instantly to your ears;With three sets(S,M,L) of ear tips and 3.9-ft Long TPE cord threads.

(12) BEAR WITNESS. Emily Asher-Perrin tells why “I Have A Lot of Feelings About Christopher Robin” at Tor.com.

With the success of the Paddington films, it seems as though certain parts of Hollywood have recognized that we could all do with more films that are the equivalent of hugs and hot chocolate and warm blankets. And since Disney has their own lovable bear to trot out, it was only a matter of time before we could expect a (slightly) more realistic look at the Hundred Acre Wood and all its inhabitants. Christopher Robin aims to tug at the heartstrings, but gently, and with all the simple wisdoms that A.A. Milne’s books have imparted on generations of readers. It succeeds at this feat particularly well.

[Spoilers for Christopher Robin]

Despite some of the action-oriented trailers, anyone expecting Christopher Robin to be a new generation’s Hook will probably walk out confused. Maintaining the tone of Milne’s work was clearly foremost of the minds of the creative team, and Winnie the Pooh and pals are reliable as they ever were. Christopher Robin, though he is struggling with the demands of being an adult, never becomes callous or distant.

(13) WHY PROGRAMMING NEEDS TO BE COOL. Cora Buhlert has made lemonade from some recent fannish news: “Convention Programming in the Age of Necromancy – A Short Story”.

Convention Programming in the Age of Necromancy

At the daily program operations meeting of a science fiction convention that shall remain unnamed, the debate got rather heated.

“We absolutely need to hold the ‘Future of Military Science Fiction’ panel in Auditorium 3,” the head of programming, whom we’ll call Matt, said.

“And why?” his fellow volunteer, who shall henceforth be known as Lucy, asked, “Is military SF so important, that it needs one of the bigger rooms, while we shove the ‘Own Voices’ panel into a tiny cupboard?”

“No,” Matt said, “But Auditorium 3 has air conditioning.”

Lucy tapped her foot. “And? Are old white dude military SF fans more deserving of coolness and air than own voices creators and fans?”

Matt sighed. “No, but Heinlein’s reanimated corpse is coming to the panel. And trust me, he smells abominably. Oh yes, and he’s declared that he wants to attend the ‘Alternative Sexualities in Science Fiction’ panel, so we’d better put that in a room with AC, too.” …

(14) JEMISIN BACK ON W76 PROGRAM. N.K. Jemisin tweeted –

(15) CHICAGO IN 2022 WORLDCON BID. Their social media is getting more active. The ChicagoWorldcon Facebook page is calling for “likes.” So if you do…!

(16) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “This Actor’s Cartoon Game Is Strong” on Vimeo, Great Big Story profiles voice actor Tara Strong, best known for her work on “Rugrats,” “Fairly Odd Parents,” and as Rocky in the new version of “Rocky and Bullwinkle.:”

[Thanks to SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Mark Hepworth, Carl Slaughter, ULTRAGOTHA, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern if you like it, otherwise, the blame goes to OGH who edited Dern’s original idea.]

Alasdair Stuart on the Growth of SFF Podcasting

By Carl Slaughter: Alasdair Stuart is the CEO of Escape Artists, the parent company of the Escape Pod, Pseudopod, Podcastle, and Cast of Wonders podcasts, and most recently the Mothership Zeta magazine.  He shares at length about the people, history, vision, and operations of EA.  He also expounds on the place podcasting has in the speculative fiction market.

CARL SLAUGHTER: Give us a brief history of how 4 podcasts and a magazine came under the Escape Artists umbrella.   

ALASDAIR STUART: Sure!

Escape Pod was started a decade ago when podcasting was basically the Wild West. Steve Eley set it up, was amazed by how quickly it took off and added in Pseudopod which, when it started was edited and hosted by Ben Philips and Mur Lafferty.

Just under a year passed. Mur left, I saw she was leaving and did one of the least British things I’ve ever done; stuck my hand up and said ‘Hire me! I’ll do that” and to my rank amazement; they did.

My first episode as host is episode 49. It is fair to say I have come a long way since then. I certainly sound much less frightened.

A while after that Podcastle was set up and not long after that, Steve stepped away from hosting. On we merrily trundled until, one day in 2012, I had this conversation with our accountant:

‘Hey Paul? Is this quick math I’ve done that suggests we run out of money in six weeks right?’

‘Yep.’

‘…OH.’

Emails were sent, meetings had and a plea for assistance sent out. It was overlong and a touch panicky but it did the job and our listeners massively rallied around us. We lived.

A year or so later I was working on a project with Dan Sawyer. I was frustrated with some EA stuff at that point and, after the third meeting with Dan opened with me complaining about this, he asked why we shouldn’t just buy the company.

I had no answer other than ‘yes’. There may have been a ‘gosh.’

So off we went! Steve was amazing about it and actually said he’d only want it to go to a group including me which was incredibly sweet of him. So we bought the company and started in on renovating it. And, as often happens, we soon realized we wanted very different things for it. We parted on amicable terms and I took on the company as sole owner.

What followed was about two years of putting out fires and getting stuff in a row. That stopped a little while ago, and we started doing the stuff that we’ve wanted to do for ages – expanding. So that’s when Cast of Wonders was brought in and Mothership Zeta was launched and now here we are.

CS: Any more podcasts or magazines joining the family any time soon?   

AS: We’re always looking to expand, but we want to do it in ways that make sense. As an example; during Eley’s tenure I know an erotica podcast was looked at. That’s not something we’ll be doing now (erotica and YA in the same house feel a bit off) but there are other genres we continue to review. Crime is logical.

Plus we’re starting to look at story lengths which aren’t well served by the existing audio community. Podcastle has run ‘Giants’ for several years, stories approaching the novella length. And Cast of Wonders has run an entire serialized short novel, called Camp Myth. In fact, serials like that or longer works are almost certainly what’s next for us.

CS: How much of the speculative podcast market does Escape Artists occupy?   

AS: At Sasquan I sat in the audience of a podcasting panel and listened to a panel member jokingly admit they stole their entire format from EscapePod. Another panel member then looked at them and said ‘But we stole our format from you!’

That was both really sweet and hard to sit through. EA was the first through the door and we’re still here. We’ve committed the absolutely necessary sin of consistency, which means people sometimes see through you. Everything we’re doing this year, from the launch of MZ and bringing aboard Cast of Wonders, to a long overdue web redesign and the Pseudopod 10th anniversary Kickstarter, is about changing that.

(Although that does position us as the Faith No More of genre podcasting and they’re one of my favorite bands so there’s that)

CS: Same question for the Parsec.

AS: I’m not quite sure what you mean? The Parsec awards are a very broad church. This last year there were 14 categories, of which stories produced by EA occupied only two.

CS: Who’s the competition?   

AS: We don’t view ourselves as having competition. The field, even though it’s expanding at a rate unlike anything we’ve seen so far, is still really small. We share staff with other shows, have definitely shared authors as well as narrators, and work hard on making sure we boost good work when we see it, not just when we produce it.

The trick, if there is one, is to be absolutely, almost ruthlessly, true to your own identity. There are dozens of podcasts in dozens of formats. Some concentrate on literary and critical analysis, like Faculty of Horror or Writer’s Roundtable. There are countless ‘three people and a mic’ commentary podcasts like School of Movies. There’s a string of amazing genre fiction audio drama podcasts.

And there’s us. Our guiding principle is One Story Told Well. The true art, we feel, of audio fiction is the paring of a great story with a great voice. Each of the shows specializes in a genre and to some extent, a specific type of story within that genre. EscapePod has always concentrated on the uplifting and hopeful sides of science fiction. Mothership Zeta emphasizes fun genre. Cast of Wonders has a very broad definition of YA but a narrower view on what their sense of wonder entails. And Pseudopod takes in every form of horror we can, from the classics (I’m about to write an outro for our subscriber exclusive reading of The Monkey’s Paw) to debut authors.

Lightspeed, Nightmare, Clarkesworld, BCS, Uncanny, Fireside and the others all do really great work and have their own approach. New magazines and shows like Glittership, Fiyah, Liminal and Holdfast are launching all the time and we enthusiastically support them. Likewise audio dramas like Archive 81, The Deep Vault, The Bridge, The Magnus Archives, Ars Paradoxica, Tanis, The Black Tapes and The Tunnels all make the entire audio field better. We’d much rather work with everyone than compete.

CS: Why branch into magazines?   

AS: Because we want, and need to expand. And because the magazine format is a medium everyone understands.

There’s a running gag rough the Tanis and Black Tapes podcasts where the lead will interview someone and the conversation will go like this:

‘Is this for the radio?’

‘It’s for a podcast.’

‘…’

‘It’s like radio on the Internet.’

That ‘…’ Is where we sometimes feel trapped. There’s a real sense, although it is fading, of podcasting not being ‘real’ publishing. The establishment (and recent renewal) of the Fancast Hugo award really seemed to drive that home, despite audio publication finally being recognized as on-par with print publication for SFWA membership purposes.

But static isn’t something we can afford to be even though it’s all too easy to feel frustrated and overlooked because we publish in a format some people don’t connect with. We have a decade’s worth of content in our back catalog and it’d be very easy to assume people will find it. It’s harder, but far more necessary, to go tell them about it and a great way to start doing that is by branching out into a format that’s more universally recognized.

Plus, we feel there’s room for the EA mindset of enthusiastic, articulate and supportive positivity to be carried over to the magazine market. The immensely positive response we had from MZ authors at WorldCon this year leads me to believe we were right.

CS: Your podcasts pay pro rates.  How do you afford this while offering stories free?   

AS: We’re entirely listener funded. We can afford pro rates because of the generosity of our listeners, it’s that simple. Even with the expansion this year it’s been a source of stress seeing if donations can support that. Right now things are sustainable, but like any donation funded organization it’s tighter than we’d like.

One of the things we realized when we bought the company and started looking in closets is that EA has never, ever had a consistent or proactive approach to marketing. That has to change, and that’s on us. The fact that we’re not on Patreon yet is a constant frustration to both staff and some of our listeners. But we feel it would be a real slap in the face to our 10 year veteran PayPal donors to not align first on what Patreon rewards would be offered, and how our PayPal donors would translate to that. We’d rather take a bit longer and do it right.

Fun fact: we have over 400,000 unique downloads every month across the four shows. Less than 1% of our listeners donate. If just 3% donated we could do so much more.

CS: Do you podcast original material, reprints, or both?  Do you buy stories by submission, invitation, or both?   

AS: All of the above. While we (and audio fiction as a whole, really) were initially formed as reprint markets, when we stepped up to SFWA qualifying rates that very definitely changed. Cast of Wonders is a recent example – their submissions quadrupled when they announced their rate increase.

It’s worth talking a little about reprints here because they’re the foundation of the shows. When Eley set up EscapePod, we initially couldn’t pay full rates so targeting reprints was a way to make sure we could source stories and still pay for them. That also opened up potentially entire back catalogs for authors to send back out into the world and get paid for again. So it became a virtuous circle; when we started out Escape Artists could afford to pay for reprints. Authors had a home for reprints. We got some really great stories. The audience grew and we began to expand.

But there’s also a point to make here about why we work as a format; we aim to sit perfectly inside the average commute. So, if you’re on a train or in the car for 45 minutes you’re going to be able to hear a full story that will entertain you, keep you engaged and distract you from how little coffee you have left. We’re designed, very deliberately, to fit into that hole in people’s days and help them claw a bit of time back for them. We get dozens of emails about listeners telling us we’ve improved their commutes, their workouts, their school runs and more.

Most stories come in via submission. We have a small amount of solicits every year, usually for traditions. Podcastle loves a Tim Pratt Christmas story, for example.

And we do some special events too. Alex Hofelich, the co-editor of Pseudopod, has commissioned some incredible pieces for the anthology which will be part of the Kickstarter. Cast of Wonders had a special call for Banned Books Week which runs the end of September.  Artemis Rising, our showcase for female and non-binary authors, hits its third year next March. Both of those had specific calls for submissions attached to them and we’ve had some amazing stories through.

CS: What’s your role in the daily/weekly operations of the podcasts?   

AS: Most of the time it’s listening to our people, helping them solve problems and, largely, making sure I’m not in their way. On a week to week basis I’m one of three hosts on EscapePod, occasionally narrate for the shows and host Pseudopod weekly.

CS: What’s your role behind the scenes as CEO of Escape Artists?   

AS: Marguerite and I split the duties. We organize bimonthly meetings for editorial, administrative or technical staff to discuss any issues raised, see where people are in the year and find out what we can do to help. Sometimes there’ll be offshoots of those with smaller follow up meetings but mostly it’s those two.

Editorial meetings run 2-3 hours, and are where everyone can share what they’re working on or get ideas about concerns. We always start with sharing positive news, and end with where we’re going to focus until the next meeting.

And because our people are all in scattered timezones we make sure the antisocial start time always lands on us. The bad news is that means a late night every month. The good news? Excellent debriefing over breakfast the following morning

Dave Robison, Alasdair Stuart, and Marguerite Kenner

Dave Robison, Alasdair Stuart, and Marguerite Kenner

CS: What have been the pivotal moments in speculative podcast history?  What percentage of the speculative market does podcasting occupy?  What part will podcasting play in the future of speculative fiction?   

AS: In no particular order:

Mur Lafferty launching I Should Be Writing, Scott Sigler podcasting Earthcore, the glorious life of Variant Frequencies which is still one of the greatest fiction podcasts ever, the launch of the Parsec Awards, the launch of EscapePod and the creation of the audio reprint market, the adoption of the podcasting method by major genre magazines like Clarkesworld and Lightspeed, and the launch of Serial.

Why Serial?

Because without Serial you don’t get the new age of fiction podcasts, the bluntly astounding audio dramas like Limetown, The Magnus Archives. The Black Tapes, The Tunnels, Archive 81 and all the rest. Those shows are the ‘80s horror classics of the 21st century; incredible creators doing amazing work with almost no budget.

And that brings us to the present day, and to your second question. I think podcasting has done a really good job of sneaking into everybody’s world view. A podcast has become a default delivery method now and, with shows like us and others paying pro rates there’s no longer any reason for it to feel like a second hand market. Not that there ever was but it’s nice to see the industry realize that too.

And as for the future? All those shows I mentioned have helped sculpt it in a dozen ways. Serial made the ‘intrepid reporter looks at stuff’ a viable template for fictional subversion. I Should Be Writing continues to map the territory we all write on as does DitchDiggers.

And as for fiction shows? They’ll continue being petri dishes for some of the best new writers on the planet. Podcasts are places where new stories can be tested on an audience orders of magnitude larger than anyone dreamt of at the birth of this medium.

Did I mention I love my job? I REALLY love my job.

CS: What writing do you do on the side and where do you find the time with all the responsibilities of Escape Artists?   

AS: I write regularly for tor.com, MCM Buzz, Ghostwoods Books and a couple of other places. I also work as an RPG designer. I was actually ENnie (The RPG industry Oscar) nominated for an adventure last year which was really cool. It was even cooler given it was for the Doctor Who RPG.

Most of the work I do in that field is modules or scenarios but I’ve done longer form projects too. I wrote The Sixth Doctor sourcebook for the Doctor Who RPG and was lead writer on the Tenth Doctor book. I’ve also got a setting coming out for All Flesh Must Be Eaten, an adventure for The Laundry RPG and my own game, After The War, due for release next year with Genesis of Legend.

As for finding the time it’s really two things. My partner, Marguerite Kenner and I split the running of EA between us. That makes it an incredible amount of work instead of simply an impossible one but there isn’t a day that goes by when the work isn’t massive fun. We’re unsure which one of us is Leo and which one of us is President Bartlet so far but we’re enjoying finding out.

Secondly, I work very fast and I work a LOT. One of the reasons I took over the company was the realization that this is the job I’ve held the longest. I celebrate my tenth year with the company in 2017 and I’ve never had more fun, or felt more at home, than I do here. I love what we do and when that’s the basis of a working day it’s really easy to get stuff done.

CS: What’s on the horizon for Escape Artists?   

AS: A new back catalogue system. We have 1700+ episodes which will always be available, for free, on the websites. We’re completely committed to the Creative Commons model. But even with our new wikia they can be a challenge to navigate. We have plans to fix that with some great added value, and to give our listeners a new method to donate in a way that hasn’t been done before.

A magnificently overdue art and website refresh. Ten year old websites. Ouch.

Artemis Rising 3, our showcase for female and non-binary authors returns for its third year next year.

Our first ever Kickstarter! To celebrate Pseudopod’s 10 anniversary, we’ve worked with Horror in Clay’s Jonathan Chaffin to design an incredible tiki mug! Jonathan designed Pseudopod’s original art. Plus editor Alex Hofelich is hard at work on our first anthology of original stories from fan favorite Pseudopod authors. The Kickstarter will go live in October and I can’t wait. Also I can’t wait to own one of the tiki mugs.

CS: What’s on horizon for Alasdair Stuart?

AS: I have my first ever project I’m not allowed to mention beyond the fact it exists. I may take the Warren Ellis route and give it a codename. Yes, why not! Project HARDISON it is. So, I have Project HARDISON to do this month, as well as work on After The War. There’s still a few more WorldCon follow-ups on my chase list, plus I’ll be at FantasyCon in Scarborough September 23rd through 25th.

I also need to finish off Pseudopod Tapes Volumes 2 through Fox Spirit Books. The first volume is a collection of extended essays from a year’s worth of Pseudopod episodes. I’m now woefully behind and Adele is clamoring for it.

And more Pseudopod itself of course. Best job I’ve ever had.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Alasdair Stuart Website — https://alasdairstuart.com/

Houndation 6/7

aka “Let’s get Sirius!”

In today’s roundup: Andrew Liptak, Jim C. Hines, Damien G. Walter, Tom Knighton, David Gerrold, Irene Gallo, Brad R. Torgersen, Sarah A. Hoyt, Vox Day, Michael Z. Williamson, Markov Kern, bhalsop, sciphi, Jonathan LaForce, Cedar Sanderson, Amanda S. Green, Jon F. Zeigler, C. E. Petit, Lis Carey, Rebekah Golden, Mark Ciocco, amd George R.R. Martin. (Title credit belongs to Whym and Anna Nimmhaus.)

Andrew Liptak on io9

“Women Dominate The 2015 Nebula Awards” – June 7

Takeaways from this? With the exception of the Best Novel award, women swept the slate in all other categories, notable in light of the Sad/Rabid Puppies controversy with this year’s Hugo Awards.

 

Jim C. Hines

“Puppies in Their Own Words” – June 7

I’ve spent several hours on this, which is ridiculous. I don’t even know why, except that I’m frustrated by all of the “I never said…” “He really said…” “No he didn’t, you’re a lying liar!” “No, you’re the lying liar!” and so on.

An infinite number of monkeys have said an infinite number of things about the Hugos this year. People on all sides have said intelligent and insightful things, and people on all sides have said asinine things. The amount of words spent on this makes the Wheel of Time saga look like flash fiction. File770 has been doing an admirable job of posting links to the ongoing conversation.

I wanted to try to sort through the noise and hone in on what Correia and Torgersen themselves have been saying. As the founder and current leader, respecitvely, of the Sad Puppies, it seems fair to look to them for what the puppy campaign is truly about…..

So are Brad and Larry racist? Sexist? Homophobic? What about their slates?

I don’t see an active or conscious effort to shut out authors who aren’t straight white males.

I do see that the effect of the slates was to drastically reduce the number of women on the final ballots.

Torgersen made a now-infamously homophobic remark about John Scalzi, which he later apologized for. I don’t see this as suggesting Torgersen is a frothing bigot; it does suggest he has some homophobic attitudes or beliefs he should probably reexamine and work on.

More central to the Sad Puppies, when I see Brad railing against “affirmative action” fiction, I see a man who seems utterly incapable of understanding sometimes people write “non-default” characters not because they’re checking off boxes on a quota, but because those are the stories they want to tell, and the characters they want to write about. Dismissing all of those amazing, wonderful, and award-winning stories as nothing but affirmative-action cases? Yeah, that’s sounds pretty bigoted to me.

 

 

 

David Gerrold on Facebook – June 7

Here’s how self-fulfilling paranoia works.

Decide that something has been taken away from you — even if it hasn’t. And even if you were never entitled to it in the first place.

Then, find a group of someones to blame for taking it away from you — even if they had nothing to do with your perceived loss. (Women, LGBTs, People of Color, SJWs, liberals, whatever.) Make sure it’s a big important group with big important members.

Appoint that group — it has to be a group — the enemy. Accuse them of horrible behaviors. This is the important step. You can’t be a victim without a persecutor. So you have to say or do something so egregious that the other guys will have to respond. Their response is the proof that you are being persecuted. Even if their response is, “Huh? Who are you?” — that’s just evidence that they’ve been deliberately ignoring your importance.

As soon as you engage that very big, very important group in a dialog, you achieve credibility — theirs. You are obviously just as important as they are. The more they engage with you, the more they respond to you, the more important you are. Therefore — you must continue to escalate so as to use up more and more of their time, so as to prove just how truly truly truly big and powerful and important you are.

When the other side brings out facts, logic, evidence, rational thought, and methodical deconstruction, you must repeat your original claims, change the subject, make new charges, or point to this as evidence of their continuing persecution. The more you do this, the more followers you will attract. Everybody loves the underdog — it’s your job to be the persecuted underdog.

This tactic works for any political or social position. It worked for extreme-left activist groups in the sixties and seventies — it eventually marginalized them out of the political process. They had to grow up or get out.

 

Irene Gallo on Facebook – May 11

[Here is a direct link. Perhaps it was always public and I just didn’t scroll back far enough when I searched yesterday.]

 

Irene Gallo in a comment on Facebook – June 6

Not friends, rest assured. And ZOMG, teeth! Somehow this got dug up from early last month and pitchforks are out. And since then more people are aware of, and excited about, the upcoming Hurley book. So as long as the thread lasts, we’re spreading the good news.

 

Brad R. Torgersen in a comment on Facebook – June 6

Irene Gallo, I am going to ask a question, and I expect a response other than a cat picture non sequitur. How did you arrive at your conclusion that Sad Puppies is “neo nazi”?

 

Sarah A. Hoyt on According To Hoyt

“Shout it from the rooftops” – June 7

However, let’s be clear: mud sticks. Get something associated with unspeakable sins like “racism, sexism, homophobia” and the idiots will go on repeating it forever, no matter how often it’s disproved. This is how they came up with the notion that Brad Torgersen is in an interracial marriage to disguise his racism, or that Sad Puppies is about pushing women and minorities from the ballot, even though the suggested authors include both women and minorities. And I’m not sure what has been said about me. Echoes have reached back, such as a gay friend emailing me (joking. He’s not stupid, and he was mildly upset on my behalf) saying he’d just found out I wanted to fry all gay people in oil and that he needed a safe room just to email me from. Then there was the German Fraulein who has repeatedly called me a Fascist (you know, those authoritarian libertari—wait, what?) and her friends who declared Kate and I the world’s worst person (we’re one in spirit apparently) as well as calling me in various twitter storms a “white supremacist” (which if you’ve met me is really funny.) A friend told me last week that he defended me on a TOR editor’s thread. I don’t even know what they were saying about me there. I make it a point of not following all the crazy around, so I have some mental space to write from.

However, enough people have told me about attacks, that I know my name as such is tainted with the publishing establishment (not that I care much, mind) and that some of it might leak to the reading public (which is why G-d gave us pennames.)….

This feebleness of mind was in stunning display recently in the Facebook page of one Irene Gallo, Creative Director at TOR. (I hope that’s an art-related thing. Or do they think authors need help being creative?)….

Note that those statements are so wrong they’re not even in the same universe we inhabit. Note also that when she talks about “bad to reprehensible” stories pushed into the ballot by the Sad Puppies, she’s talking about one of her house’s own authors, a multiple bestseller, and also of John C. Wright who works for her house as well.

Note also that when one of my fans jumped in and tried to correct the misconceptions, she responded with daft cat pictures.

 

 

 

 

 

bhalsop

“Tor and Sad/Rabid Puppies” – June 7

There is a war going on in the blogosphere between certain employees of Tor, the once great publisher of scifi/fantasy, and the proponents of alternate slates for the Hugo, the Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies. I have watched it with some interest, since I am undoubtedly one of those the Puppies in general would not like, but I have found their position actually has merit.

There was a time, many years ago, when one could buy a book honored with the Hugo award and know that the book would be well written, well edited, and thought provoking. This has not been the case for several years, I am sorry to report. In fact, there was a time, again many years ago, that one could buy a book published by Tor, and have a good read that might be thought provoking but was at minimum a good story well told. This is sadly no longer the case. I used to buy a Tor book even if the blurb wasn’t particularly inviting, because I trusted Tor. This is no longer the case.

Tor employees have attacked the Sad/Rabid Puppies as racist, misogynist, right wing whackos. The fact is that this reviling became much louder after the Sad Puppy slate won most of the Hugo niminations. What? They outvoted you? Doesn’t this sound like the Republicans after our current president was elected? Are you sure you want to go there?

 

sciphi on Superversive SF

“Irene Gallo, #Sadpuppies, #Gamergate and Tor” – June 7

What I find particularly insulting is that I have been following #Gamergate for quite a while, since at least Internet Aristocrats original Quinnspiracy videos, and I am extremely right wing (Nazi’s and Neo-Nazi’s aren’t though, fascists really were/are kissing cousins of socialists), and I can tell you for a fact that the talking heads of #Gamergate like Sargon of Akkad are thorough going leftwing moderates, they just aren’t frothing at the mouth SJW’s (I guess that makes them “far-right” in SJW land). I’m insulted as an arch conservative and reactionary to be regarded as basically the same as such thorough going hippies.

 

Jonathan LaForce on Mad Genius Club

“Dear Tor” – June 7

Tor, let’s face facts: that you repeatedly allow straw man makers like John Scalzi to have a place in your stable, even as he vainly justifies his arrogant idiocy is absurd.  To allow bigots like NK Jemisin bully pulpits without regard for fact or truth is wrong.  To encourage people to put one-star reviews on Amazon, simply because you don’t like an author’s politics, rather than because you didn’t like the story is not only disgusting, it is a willful manipulation of the Amazon rating system.

Whereas I believe in the principles of the free market, I don’t want to see somebody create new laws over this.  We already have government invading our bedrooms, our computers and our bank accounts daily.  No, ladies and gentlemen, instead I ask you this:

Don’t buy anything made by TOR. Not pamphlets. Not novels, not audiobooks.  Not even if it’s free.  Let Tor know that they do not decide what we want as fans of science fiction and fantasy.  Instead, I ask that those of you whom trust my opinion cease to buy their products ever again.  Show them that in the end, the consumer drives the market. Why? Because nobody can make you buy anything.  Not health care, not books, not movies. NOT A SINGLE DAMN THING.

In older times, a bard who couldn’t sing or orate well, much less properly play an instrument (in short, when the bard could not perform well, the crowd kicked him out. And he went hungry until he got better or he died from starvation. Or he found a new profession that he was actually good at.

 

Tom Knighton

“Tor Creative Director bashes Tor authors among others” – June 7

Based on how she phrased this, she’s implying that that both Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies are extreme right wing to neo-Nazis.  Now, I generally don’t defend Rabid Puppies because Vox is a big boy and can fight his own battles, and since I’m not part of that group I really can’t speak for it. Vox has seen this, and I suspect he’ll jump in soon enough.

As a Sad Puppy, I’m freaking pissed.

First, I’m sick of being called “unrepentantly racist, mysogynist, and homophobic” simply because I don’t like their taste in books or because I disagree with them about what the government should spend its money doing.  It’s funny, because these are the same people who bitch about “slut shaming” or “fat shaming” or whatever, but now they’re trying to “thought shame”, like we’re horrid human beings just because we don’t trip over ourselves on identity issues.  No evidence, no examples, nothing except libelous rhetoric.  Nothing….

I’ve read multiple times that Tor isn’t so much a publishing house as a series of editorial fiefdoms, a confederation of miniature publishing houses under a single roof and a shared marketing and art department.  If that’s true, then there probably isn’t a lot of oversight on these kinds of things, so I really don’t think there will be any kind of change.

 

Cedar Sanderson

“Fear and Loathing at TOR” – June 7

Almost since the advent of the internet, there have been warnings about what to say – or not – on it. The internet is a vast and mostly public arena. Imagine, if you can, standing in Grand Central Station and screaming slurs at the top of your lungs, while the sane people standing near you back away slowly. Online, this doesn’t happen. One person starts screaming and frothing at the mouth, and others are drawn like moths to the flame to scream along with them.

This is disturbing and upsetting, but it is easy enough to avoid this kind of behaviour if you want to (and some like to troll-bait. Personally, I find it unkind to taunt the mentally ill and don’t stoop to pillorying their personal lives). On occasion, though, we are not dealing with a lone individual, but one that is tied to a corporate identity. And this situation is why most reputable companies have policies in place about the use of social media. Because when a person using their real name, which can easily be tied to their workplace, starts to cast slurs on their own colleagues, not to mention large sections of the business’s client base, that can reflect very badly on their employer.

 

Amanda S. Green on Nocturnal Lives

“Interrupting my vacation and not happy about it” – June 7

But what galls me is how she calls us “Extreme right-wing to Neo-Nazi”. To begin with, if she were to really look at who wound up on the final ballot, especially those backed by the Sad Puppies, she would see that there are conservative, libertarian AND liberals represented. There are women and minorities. If I remember correctly, not everyone on the ballot is straight. (I don’t remember because I don’t care what a person’s sexual preference. It has nothing to do with their ability as a writer.)

Then there is the personal reaction. Ms. Gallo doesn’t know me and I don’t know her. So she doesn’t understand what sort of wound she opened for my family by calling me “extreme right-wing to Neo-Nazi”. My family comes from Germany and the Netherlands. Fortunately, the family was here before Hitler came to power. But they remember what it was like living in parts of this country and having to defend themselves because they had a Germanic last name. Nazism is and always will be a personal anathema to my family and to be called a follower of that hated philosophy/government is beyond acceptable.

Did she commit slander or libel? No. Did she consider the impact her words would have on other people? I don’t know. Part of me wants to believe that she did not but I have my doubts. She used a number of “trigger” words in her response, words meant to create a negative impression. She did not consider or care about how her allegation would impact fans of those authors she was condemning nor did she apparently think or care about how such a hateful allegation could possibly lead to termination of employment.

 

 

C. E. Petit on Scrivener’s Error

“Pre-Road-Kill Link Sausages” – June 6

There’s a proposal to tweak Hugo voting rules somewhat jocularly labelled E Pluribus Hugo that I cannot support, for three reasons. First, it depends upon accepting the proposition that a popular vote among those who pay a poll tax to vote is the best way to determine actual quality. (I’d be probably be more supportive if the Hugos themselves were renamed from “Best” to “Favorite.”) Second, it does nothing whatsoever to deal with the far-more-serious problems of source restrictiveness and the inept calendar (really? for an award issued in late August, we start nominations in January?). Third, at a fundamental level it fails to engage with the dynamics of cliquishness (for both real and imagined cliques, I should note) that are at issue; in fact, it bears a disturbing resemblance to the evolution of voting patterns in Jim Crow country following passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1964, if not with the same obvious discriminatory animus.

I think this proposal has been put forth in good faith, in a highly conservative attempt to retain, and even reify, a particular (and wildly inaccurate) fannish/SMOFish perception of what the Hugos “are” and “mean.” The irony of that characterization is intentional, especially compared to the various canine complaints; it is obvious, disturbing, and all too typical of attempts to tweak selection mechanisms without pondering what is being selected… and whether that requires a farther-reaching change.

 

Rebekah Golden

“Reviewing; Meta Post” – June 7

This goes back to my post about Totaled. It was a good story. Had some interesting ideas. Didn’t do it for me and I think the reason why not has to do with compelling questions. Look at Ancillary Justice and the story is full of compelling questions. Then there’s Mono No Aware.

Cutting for spoilers about Mono No Aware, Totaled, and me….

 

Mark Ciocco on Kaedrin Weblog

“Hugo Awards: Short Stories”  – June 7

My feelings on short stories are decidedly mixed, because most of the short fiction I read is from collections that are, by their very nature, uneven. As with Anthology Films, I generally find myself exhausted by the inconsistency. Also, as someone who tends to gravitate towards actual storytelling rather than character sketches or tone poems (or similar exercises in style), a short story can be quite difficult to execute. A lot must be accomplished in a short time, and a certain economy of language is needed to make it all work. There are some people who are great at this sort of thing, but I find them few and far between, so collections of short stories tend to fall short even if they include stories I love. In my experience, the exceptions tend to be collections from a single author, like Asimov’s I, Robot or Barker’s Books of Blood. That being said, I’ve been reading significantly more short fiction lately, primarily because of my participation in the Hugo Awards. I found myself quite disappointed with last year’s nominated slate, so I actually went the extra mile this year and read a bunch of stuff so that I could participate in the nomination portion of the process. Of course, none of my nominees actually made the final ballot. Such is the way of the short story award (with so many options, the votes tend to be pretty widely spread out, hence all the consternation about the Puppy slates which probably gave their recommendations undue influence this year). But is the ballot any better this year? Only one way to find out, and here are the results, in handy voting order:

  1. Totaled by Kary English – Told from the perspective of a brain that has been separated from its body (courtesy of a car accident) and subsequently preserved in a device that presumably resembles that which was used to preserve Walt Disney’s head or something. In the story, this is new technology, so the process is imperfect and while the brain can be kept alive for a significant amount of time, it still only amounts to around 6 months or so. Fortunately, the disembodied brain in question was the woman leading the project, so she’s able to quickly set up a rudimentary communication scheme with her lab partner. Interfaces for sound and visuals are ginned up and successful, but by that point the brain’s deterioration has begun. This could have been one of those pointless tone poems I mentioned earlier, but English keeps things approachable, taking things step by step. The portrayal of a brain separated from the majority of its inputs (and outputs, for that matter), and slowly regaining some measure of them as time goes on, is well done and seems realistic enough. One could view some of the things portrayed here as pessimistic, but I didn’t really read it that way. When the brain deteriorates, she eventually asks to be disconnected before she loses all sense of lucidity (the end of the story starts to lilt into an Algernon-like devolution of language into simplistic quasi-stream of consciousness prose). I suppose this is a form of suicide, but it was inevitable at that point, and the experimental brain-in-a-jar technology allowed for a closure (both in terms of completing some of her research and even seeing her kids again) that would have otherwise been impossible. I found that touching and effective enough that this was a clear winner in the category.

 

Lis Carey at Lis Carey’s Library

“Galactic Suburbia, presented by Alis, Alex, and Tansy” – June 7

http://galactisuburbia.podbean.com/

Another Best Fancast Hugo nominee.

Speculative fiction, publishing news, and chat. This podcast comes to us from Australia, and as far as I can find, they do not reveal their last names anywhere on their website. That’s a shame, because these are very engaging people, and they mention up coming book launches. (Feel free to enlighten me in comments. Please!)

 

George R.R. Martin on Not A Blog

“Reading” – June 7

I also read LINES OF DEPARTURE by Marko Kloos. This was part of the Hugo ballot as originally announced, one of the books put there by the slates… but Kloos, in an act of singular courage and integrity, withdrew. It was his withdrawal that moved THREE-BODY PROBLEM onto the ballot. This is the second book in a series, and I’ve never read the first. Truth be told, I’d never read anything by Kloos before, but I’m glad I read this. It’s military SF, solidly in the tradition of STARSHIP TROOPERS and THE FOREVER WAR. No, it’s not nearly as good as either of those, but it still hands head and shoulders above most of what passes for military SF today. The enigmatic (and gigantic) alien enemies here are intriguing, but aside from them there’s not a lot of originality here; the similarity to THE FOREVER WAR and its three act structure is striking, but the battle scenes are vivid, and the center section, where the hero returns to Earth and visits his mother, is moving and effective. I have other criticisms, but this is not a formal review, and I don’t have the time or energy to expand on them at this point. Bottom line, this is a good book, but not a great one. It’s way better than most of what the Puppies have put on the Hugo ballot in the other categories, but it’s not nearly as ambitious or original as THREE-BODY PROBLEM. Even so, I read this with pleasure, and I will definitely read the next one. Kloos is talented young writer, and I suspect that his best work is ahead of him. He is also a man of principle. I hope he comes to worldcon; I’d like to meet him.

The Cold Nose Equations 6/6

aka Summa Rabid Puppies: A Casuistry of the Hugo Controversy

In today’s roundup are Pat Cadigan, Max Florschutz, Craig R., Kevin J. Maroney, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Vox Day, Peter Grant, Camestros Felapton, Russell Blackford, Nicholas Whyte, Lis Carey, and Spacefaring Kitten. (Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editors of the day Dex and sveinung.)

 

Max Florschutz on Unusual Things

“The Coming of the Ent March” – June 6

And that’s what the insulars are truly afraid of, and why this year isn’t really the big year for an asterisk. Next year will be that year. Right now, the insulars are shouting as loud as they can, trying to drown out the barking puppies. And you know what? To most Sci-Fi/Fantasy fans, it’s just noise.

But it’s noise that’s waking them up. Making them look around and say “What’s going on here?” It’s noise that’s drawing attention to the Hugos, alerting the silent readers who before, like the reader of my other blog, never even knew that they were allowed to participate. And regardless of who they agree with … a lot of them are going to say “Oh, cool,” and get in line for the chance to support their favorite works.

That‘s what the insulars are afraid of. The Hugos have been a large award for a long time, but they’ve also been voted on by a phenomenally small group of people for an award that’s suppose to represent Sci-Fi/Fantasy as a whole.

 

Craig R. on The Boston Progressive

“Where Are My Nutty Nuggets? I Want My Nuggy Nuggets!” – June 6

"They told me there would be Nutty Nuggets!"

“They told me there would be Nutty Nuggets!”

Sad Puppy Central seem to have given up on their first justification, that there was some Super Double-Sekret Social Justice Progressive Cabal that was blocking the Manly Man Rocket Adventure Stories that they Like So Well from making either the nomination lists or the winning slots.  Except for Freer, who, I guess, didn’t get the memo.

This is because they actually swamped the nomination choices.  Now, this has got to be embarrassing, if you’re all fired up to crow about having Proof, I tell you! Proof! That it’s all a fraud and that we couldn’t get on the ballot ’cause there is no way that we could succeed in gaming the system.  There’s no way that simple a cheat can get us on the ballot….

Uhh, why does the ballot look like this?

The latest reason put forth for poor prior puppy performance in the ballot is that there has been this long-running con, where each year the convention committee for the WorldCon is purposely making it hard for people to find out how to nominate and vote!

Yeah, that’s it! Well, lets look at the websites for the past 4 world cons:….

 

Kevin J. Maroney in a comment on “The Puppies of Terror” at New York Review of Science Fiction – May 30

The only substantial regret I have about my editorial is that it moved too seamlessly from discussion of the *Puppy movement to discussion of Panzergroup Asshole, making it seem as if I thought they were the same people. I don’t.

Let me elaborate on Panzergroup Asshole and online harassment. PGA is a real thing–probably 400-500 people who participate in systematic online harassment*, a weapon waiting for a target. There’s a larger body of casual trolls among whom PGA hide–sometimes PGA follow the other trolls and sometimes PGA’s activities attract the other trolls.

*This can run the gamut from purely online attacks like verbal abuse, tweet flooding, sealioning, comment spam, account takeover, and DDOS attack to offline dangers such as publishing personal information, leaking nude pictures, elaborate death threats, bomb threats, credit card fraud, and SWATting. I’ve had multiple friends say to me that they won’t mention certain names online for fear of attracting the attention of GG and the abuse it brings. Using the fear to silence one’s opponents has a name: “terrorism”.

I do not believe the *Puppies–the leaders and most of their supporters–are themselves members of Panzergroup Asshole. However, the Puppy leaders (Correia, Torgersen, and Day) deliberately and repeatedly invited an alliance with GamerGate, a movement inseparable from Panzergroup Asshole.

Asking people to block-vote for the Hugos (as the Puppies did) was a dick move, taking advantage of the good will assumptions inherent in the Hugo process. This is not significantly different in kind from the outright ballot-box stuffing that got Black Genesis and The Guardsman onto the nominee lists in 1987 and 1989. It’s shameful and nasty, and if they had stopped there, the second half of the editorial wouldn’t have been present. But by deliberately positioning themselves as part of GamerGate-writ-large was a step beyond.

And if it’s “assholery” to point out that someone is allying themselves with terrorists–I think I can live with that charge.

 

 

 

 

Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“Turbo-charging the award pimpage” – June 6

As it happens, I’d been contemplating following the International Lord of Hate’s lead and recusing myself from the ballot in the future, since I didn’t want to end up with more Hugo nominations than the likes of Heinlein, Clarke, and Asimov. That would be ridiculous. However, now that I know the SJWs are preemptively planning to No Award me, I think I would be remiss if I did not consider award pimpage for every single Hugo Award for which I am even remotely eligible for in 2016. Let’s see. In addition to the professional categories, there is Best Fan Writer, Best Related Work, and perhaps I can throw a few doodles together for Best Fan Artist while I’m at it.

 

 

 

Peter Grant on Bayou Renaissance Man

“Is it time to call for a boycott of a mainstream SF publisher?” – June 6

I’ve remained silent about many previous slanders and libels about this situation, but this is just about the last straw.  I would very much like to know whether Tor shares and/or espouses the false, slanderous and libelous views expressed by Ms. Gallo.  If that company doesn’t take a stand against such lies, or even chooses to remain silent about them (despite their being propagated by one of their editors), then I will have to assume that the time has come to openly call for a boycott of Tor by all objective, non-partisan, independent fans of science fiction and fantasy.  I’ll be discussing this option with other SF/F authors (and individuals involved in this controversy) during the coming days, to see whether we can co-ordinate a suitable response.

 

Camestros Felapton

“A short post about Aristotle and syllogisms” – June 6

So Chris Hensley is right. It isn’t that the system of syllogistic reasoning that Aristotle proposed was wrong but it genuinely has been superseded. The fact that we are using computers to discuss this is partly as a consequence of that. In the 19th and 20th century logic went through a revolution that took it far beyond the simple syllogism. Liebniz, Boole, Frege, Whitehead, Russell, Tarski, Godel made giant leaps and these leaps were not just freaky abstract navel gazing.

Consider this chain: Russel and Whitehead’s Principia inspired Kurt Godel’s incompleteness theorem. Alonzo Church and Alan Turing developed a related theorem that examined incompleteness from the position of an abstract mechanical device. John Von Neumann at around the same time was also looking at logical foundations of mathematics. The jump from freaky-abstract-navel gazing to birth-of-the-modern-electronic computer is almost a direct one.

So what is wrong with syllogisms? Well nothing as far as they go. They adequately describe one form of logical reasoning but it is essentially self limiting. Later Stoic philosophers made significant headway in developing Proportional Logic. Propositional Logic itself has limitations but it allows for more complex arguments to be modeled and to deal with the notion of implication. The basic difference between the syllogistic logic and propositional was the kinds of units that were being used. In syllogisms terms are important. For example take this Syllogism:

  • All SJW’s lie
  • Camestros is a SJW
  • Camestros lies….

 

Russell Blackford on Metamagician and The Hellfire Club

“Concluding comments on “Best Short Story” – Hugo Awards voting 2015” – June 6

The problem will keep recurring this year: how much stronger might this list (each list) of nominees have been without blatantly political block voting delivered care of the “Puppies” campaigns? We’ll never know. Meanwhile … none of the stories really blew me away, but one came closer than the others. In this company, the standout, for me, was “Totaled”, by Kary English : for its skill and innovation, it will receive my vote. I doubt that any of the others merit such an important international award.

 

Nicholas Whyte on From the Heart of Europe

“My vote for Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form), Best Fan Writer, John W. Campbell Award” – June 6

I usually enjoy tracking down the various entries in this category (I rarely have time to watch the movies nominated for the Long Form equivalent). But unfortunately three of the finalists in this category were helped to get onto the ballot by a campaign led by a misogynist racist whose declared intention was to destroy the Hugos. I am not going to vote for them, and am not going to any great lengths to watch The Flash: Pilot or Grimm: Once We Were Gods…..

1: Doctor Who: Listen. In a Doctor Who season with one very low point (Kill The Moon) this was very much a high point, Moffat with some of his best lines – Clara in particular getting some good ones (“People don’t need to be scared by a big gray-haired stick insect but here you are” balanced by “If you’re very wise and very strong fear doesn’t have to make you cruel or cowardly – fear can make you kind”) in a story that actually makes sense and taps into some deep human fears. Gets my vote without any hesitation or special pleading, and I suspect it will win.

Also, just to record a couple of items here which are not worth separate posts: I’m voting No Award for Best Fan Writer, and giving Laura J. Mixon my second preference. I take very seriously Matt Foster’s argument that a ballot with only one non-slate finalist does not offer enough choice to make the award meaningful….

 

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“Dungeon Crawlers Radio” – June 6

http://www.dungeoncrawlersradio.com/

Another Best Fancast Hugo nominee.

This is also an interview podcast, in this case focused on gaming and related subjects. As such, it doesn’t really speak much to me, as this is not an area of interest for me. However, it is fairly cleanly and professionally produced, even managing an effective interview presentation in the midst of the chaos of Salt Lake Comic Con. I would expect this to be at least very interesting for viewers more into gaming. The knowledge of the interviewers I can’t seriously assess, but they at least seemed knowledgeable and reasonable to me.

If gaming is your thing, you should at least give this a try, if you haven’t seen it yet.

 

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“Ancillary Sword (Imperial Radch #2), by Ann Leckie (author), Adjoa Andoh (narrator)” – June 6

There’s a lot going on here, in character development, revealing more about the history and culture of the Radch, and action as the conflict between the Mianaais and even older tensions in the Radch empire play out.

I’m looking forward to the third volume, Ancillary Mercy.

Recommended.

 

 

Spacefaring Kitten on Spacefaring, Extradimensional Happy Kittens

“’The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale’ by Rajnar Vajra” – June 6

Slates: Rabid Puppies & Sad Puppies

“The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale” is a lightweight adventure story that — according to its subtitle — tries to take us back to the Golden Age of science fiction. There are space cadets who get into trouble because of a fight and have to make it up for it by going on an expedition to an alien world, the inhabitants of which the Earth scientists have a hard time understanding.

 

Will McLean on A Commonplace Book

“Ancillary Justice and Ancillary Sword” – June 6

It requires the usual suspension of disbelief required for interstellar empires, FTL, artificial gravity and decanting extensions of machine intellects into human bodies; in short, what is normally required for space operas.

 

Camestros Felapton

“A warning from the future” – June 6

[A satire that lists future Hugo slates.]

redshirtpups

“Dear traveler from the future” I cried “You are in need of medical care! I would take you inside but I’m afraid that Timothy has a thing abut people he doesn’t know arriving unannounced. Let me fetch you a pillow and a glass of water.”

“No…” she gasped “it is too late for me…I have come to bring you a warning”.

She was briefly consumed by a coughing fit, after which she spat out a green mess of mucus and fundamental void particles.

“They didn’t realize…they tried to tinker with the Hugo rules…but instead…” she paused again

“Yes? The rules? Is this the WorldCon 15 rules you mean?” I inquired as gently as I could despite my ankle pain and a croquet hoop digging into my thigh unpleasantly.

“The horror of Spokane they called it. The rule changes…they went wrong…a memetic virus was introduced…it spread through blog posts…the world became consumed by puppy-slates”

 

The Dingolarity 6/5

aka Is All of Time and Space Truly Curred?

Pawing through the roundup we find Juan Tabo, S. Harris, Glenn Hauman, David Mack, John Scalzi, Charles Stross, Nick Mamatas, Jeffro Johnson, Barry Deutsch, Mcjulie McGalliard, Russell Blackford, Lis Carey, Rhiannon Thomas, Rebekah Golden, Chris M. Neill and cryptic others. (Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editors of the day Kate and James H. Burns.)

We begin with dueling parodies of Rachel Swirsky’s frequently debated “If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love.”

Juan Tabo and S. Harris on Vox Popoli

“If You Were an Award, My Love” – June 5

If you were an award, my love, then you would be a Hugo™. You’d be a big one, five feet, ten inches, the same height as human-you and twice the height of Regular Size John Scalzi, You’d be made of brass, and wood and plastic, and difficult to take on an airplane as carry on due to enhanced security precautions. Your eyes wouldn’t exist, because you were a rocket, stupid.

If you were a Hugo®, then I would become Taller, Stronger John Scalzi so that I could spend all my time with you. I’d bring you raw chickens and live goats, if you were into that kind of thing.  I’d make my bed right under the trophy case, in the basement where my wife lets me sleep. When I couldn’t sleep, I’d sing you lullabies. If I sang you lullabies, I’d soon notice how you were still a statue. You’d just sit there, because you were still a statue.

 

By Glenn Hauman and David Mack on Crazy 8 Press

“If You Were A Puppy, My Sweet” – June 5

If you were a puppy, my sweet, you would be a wild one. You’d be big and neutered, just like human-you. You’d bound from place to place, unburdened by any thought of consequences, full of energy and bereft of conscience. Some would delight in your antics, your perverse rejection of dignity. Others would quail from your manic slobbering and call you a nuisance, but you would be excused, because that’s just how puppies behave….

If you were sad and rabid, I would bring you with me to the wide-open rampart, and we would watch the mighty spaceships fly. I’d tell you to look up, and we’d see those ships break our world’s surly bonds to depart for alien shores. We’d wish their crews well as they explored great wonders yet unknown. Then you’d fill the lengthening dusk with your pitiful whimpers as the shiny rockets soared away … without you … never to return.

 

David Mack on The Analog Blog

“Speaking Truth to Puppies” – June 5

Though our story mimics the style of Ms. Swirsky’s, Glenn and I want to make clear that we intend no disrespect to her or to her story. Our reason for choosing it as our template was the story seems to have become a lightning rod for the ire of Rabid Puppy and Sad Puppy supporters — two of whom today published a far more mean-spirited parody of it on the blog of Theodore Beale, aka Vox Day.

 

 

 

Nick Mamatas

“Rocket To The Red Planet”  – June 5

It’s actually the Puppies who are the Marxists. Their agent of change is a subaltern proletariat—those workaday beer-money fans who have gone unheard and who must be organized by an intellectual caste into a fighting force.

 

Jeffro Johnson on Jeffro’s Space Gaming Blog

“Withering Criticism for me Compliments of ‘Mark’ from File770” – June 5

Okay, I gotta say. It takes a lot of nerve to go over to File770 and say I’m willing to answer anything they want to ask. It seems crazy. I men, my gut feeling on that was that it would be sort of like attempting to have a rational discussion in the middle of a food fight.

But to be fair to those folks, there are more than a couple of people over there that notice the effort. Like Meredith, for instance:….

 

Barry Deutsch at Alas, A Blog

“Hugo 2014 Graphic Story Nominees” – June 5

Amptoons graphic story noms COMP

The Graphic Story Nominees are a nearly puppy-free category; four of the five nominees didn’t come from puppies. The five nominated works are (in order of my ranking):

  1. Sex Criminals Volume 1: One Weird Trick, written by Matt Fraction, art by Chip Zdarsky (Image Comics)
  2. Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal, written by G. Willow Wilson, illustrated by Adrian Alphona and Jake Wyatt, (Marvel Comics)
  3. Rat Queens Volume 1: Sass and Sorcery, written by Kurtis J. Weibe, art by Roc Upchurch (Image Comics)
  4. Saga Volume 3, written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples (Image Comics)

The remaining nominee, The Zombie Nation by Carter Reid, I’m going to regretfully rank below “no award.”

Although – as you’ll see – I have criticisms of all these works, I also think this is one of the best Hugo lists I’ve seen in this category. All four non-puppy nominees are standout mainstream comics, entertaining and well crafted.

 

 

Russell Blackford on Metamagician and The Hellfire Club

“Steven Diamond and Kary English stories – Hugo Awards Voting”  – June 5

I’ll be quite brief about these. “A Single Samurai” is a fantasy story involving a magical samurai warrior’s attempt to halt the path of a mountain-sized kaiju monster. Leaving aside a couple of small verbal infelicities, it is a well-written, well-crafted piece told in the first person by the samurai, whose character – one marked by honour, tradition, and invincible determination – is conveyed effectively. So vast is the kaiju that the samurai’s efforts appear ineffectual and futile, but read on… All in all, this is a solid short story, if marred by something of a deus ex machina style of ending. By all means give it a try and see what you think.

“Totaled” is a more innovative and sophisticated story, and I think it’s a genuine contender for the award. It’s difficult to describe this one without giving away too much and spoiling the effect. Suffice to say that it’s told – mainly in present tense, and for good reasons – from a very unusual point of view. Kary English was not previously on my radar but appears to be a noteworthy talent.

 

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“The Three Body Problem, by Cixin Liu” – June 5

The Best Novel category is going to be a tough decision this year. I loved The Goblin Emperor  I’m currently enjoying the Ancillary Sword audiobook. And now I’ve just finished this amazing novel by Cixin Liu.

 

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“Tea and Jeopardy, Emma Newton (presenter, writer), Peter Newman (presenter, writer)” – June 5

http://teaandjeopardy.geekplanetonline.com/

Another Best Fancast Hugo nominee.

Another sf-focused interview podcast. Emma Newman hosts, with Peter Newman playing Latimer, her butler. In the sample episode included in the Hugo Voters packet, some people may find the introductory segment a bit longer than necessary, and sadly lacking in any hint of what type of program this is, but it is charming. In this episode, she interviews Ramez Naam, one of last year’s Campbell Award nominees, about his fiction, movies, and the portrayal of science and scientists in both print and media fiction. It’s friendly, intelligent, interesting, and engaging. I really enjoyed this, I think more than any of the others so far.

 

Rhiannon Thomas on Feminist Fiction

“Hugo Nominees 2015: Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie” – June 5

Ancillary Sword is an excellently crafted and compelling novel. It’s less complex than its award-winning predecessor Ancillary Justice, but it’s also far more accessible, making it arguably a better read over all.

Ancillary Sword has the same conceptual set-up as the first in the series. Our protagonist, Breq, was once the AI of a ship, built by a society without gender, that controlled hundreds of once-human ancillaries and became trapped in one of the ancillary bodies when the rest of the ship was destroyed. Breq dedicated herself to destroying the ruler of the universe in revenge for both her own death and the order that forced her to kill her beloved captain.

As far as unusual protagonists go, she’s pretty high up on the list.

 

Rebekah Golden

“Review: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie” – June 4

The short review of this book is it blew my mind and I loved it. Deep, transformative, and complex.

 

Marion on Deeds & Words

“The Hugos, 2015, Chapter Six; Novelettes” – June 4

The novelette category was heavily influenced by the splinter group(s). The challenge in this category is similar to the problem I had with the novellas. A couple of these are decent reads, or interesting stories, but are these really the best novelettes published in 2014?

 

Adult Onset Atheist

“SNARL: The Journeyman: In the Stone House” – June 4

I really wanted to like this story. It had some fun characters engaging in delightful dialog. It even provided some jokes for the reader to enjoy at the expense of the characters. I hope the author had fun writing this, because it read as if he did. Unfortunately this does not have enough story in it to make it a great story, and some of the failed experiments the author try to hold it back from even being a good story. However, I had fun reading this story, and that should count for something; actually it counts for quite a bit, and this story will get five stars (out of ten).

 

 

A Throne of Chew Toys 6/3

aka The Knights Who say Ni Award

In today’s roundup: Vox Day, Lindsay Duncan, Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag, David Gerrold, Sara Amis, Dave Freer, Chris Gerrib, Lisa J. Goldstein, Lis Carey, Rebekah Golden, Russell Blackford, Camestros Felapton, Mabrick, Will McLean, Alexandra Erin and cryptic others. (Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editors of the day sveinung  and ULTRAGOTHA.)

Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“In the SF world rages a war” – June 3

Markku Koponen

[The translation of an article in Finland’s largest newspaper profiling Markku Koponen and Castalia House.]

IN THE SCI-FI WORLD OF USA RAGES A WAR, IN WHICH EVEN THE GAME OF THRONES AUTHOR IS ENTANGLED WITH – AND IN THE EPICENTER OF IT ALL IS THIS KOUVOLA MAN

Sci-fi literature enthusiasts in USA are in civil war. A conservative mutiny is trying to push out of bestseller lists and awards the mainstream, “tolerant” sci-fi. The battle is already being called culture wars – and one of the headquarters is located in Finland.

There is a man in Kouvola, and before the man, a computer.

Together, the man and the computer are in the front lines of a battle that is shaking the entire world of sci-fi literature.

The man and the computer were revealed to the world, spring this year.

At the time was published “the Oscars of sci-fi books” – Hugo-awards – nominees.

The entire sci-fi world roared: lists were full of works by religious extremists and ultraconservatives.

The surprise was so big that even The New York Times and Washington Post wrote about it.

And behind the entire surprise were a man and a computer in Kouvola.

The name of the man is Markku Koponen, and on the computer runs a company called Castalia House.

 

Lindsay Duncan on Unicorn Ramblings

“Tuesday Thoughts” – June 3

Behind all this kerfluffle is a tension between the idea that the quality of fiction, like all art, is subjective; and the action of presenting an award, which gives the veneer of some objective quality.  Let’s add one more statement to the narrative:  diversity is a good thing and necessary in a genre that builds upon possibilities, but we don’t want to set up a forced, artificial diversity.  (Already, you can see the questions bubbling up.)  What am I thinking of when I say “artificial” diversity?  It’s when a work rises to the top not because of merit, but because its author or subject matter checks a particular box.  It would be like saying that every novel awards slate has to include one urban fantasy, two epic fantasies, one hard science fiction novel and one soft science fiction novel … even if there were three amazing soft SF books that year.

 

SF Signal

“MIND MELD: Genre Awards: What are They Good for Anyway?” – June 3

[Bradley P. Beaulieu:] I’m saddened by the tactics that were chosen by the various Puppy campaigns to game the Hugos, but I’m confident the award will live on, and I’m hopeful that in the end the voting base for the award will be broadened. After all, as long as everyone is given a fair shake, how can giving a voice to more fans be a bad thing?

 

Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag on Bloggity-Blog-Blog-Blog

“Oh dear, not the freaking Hugos again…” – June 3

On Facebook, David Gerrold nails the problem with the slate nominations in the Hugo awards. Namely, the people who participated have developed a narrative of “evil liberals” rather than “good works worthy of nomination for the Hugo Award.” Part of the post was also quoted at File770. Of note is the fact that Gerrold has asked these questions repeatedly, and he describes the “answers” he gets from slate-voting puppy-supporters….

…The last question, #6, is a no-brainer. The excellence of the story is the only thing that truly matters. There have been some fantastic works by authors that I wouldn’t want to sit at the same dinner table with. And I’m sure there are awful works by people who completely agree with me on every major political point. Politics are utterly irrelevant to the conversation. Or, at least, they should be.

 

David Gerrold on Facebook – June 3

As long as we’re still talking about the sad puppies and the rabid puppies, there is one question that has not yet been asked.

Will Larry Correia and Brad Torgersen be attending the Hugo award ceremony? Will Vox Day and John C. Wright be attending the ceremony? What about the other nominees and the various puppy supporters?

I have been told that none of the major architects of the slates have attending memberships. So the answer is no, they will not be there.

(Some of the slated nominees will likely be there, but that’s not the question I’m asking.)

And that causes me to wonder —

Some of the puppy supporters have said this whole thing is about reclaiming “the real science fiction” from those who have hijacked it into the realm of literary merit. (Something like that.)

Okay — but if we take that at face value — then why aren’t the leaders of the movement coming to the award ceremony to cheer for their nominees? If this is really that important, why aren’t they coming to the party?

Not attending the celebration makes it look like this was never about winning the awards as much as it was about disrupting them.

 

David Gerrold in a comment on Facebook – June 3

I did not know that Brad Torgersen had been deployed. I’m sure he will serve admirably and I expect him to return home safely. I might disagree with him on some things, but I wish him no ill.

 

Sara Amis on Luna Station Quarterly

“Hugos, Puppies, and Joanna Russ” – June 3

I always intended from the beginning to write about Joanna Russ. How could I not? It just so happens, though, that she is particularly relevant right at this particular moment.

So, there are some shenanigans with this year’s Hugo awards. And by “shenanigans” I mean “cheating” in the finest, most self-righteous, letter-but-not-the-spirit-of-the-law, but-really-we’re-the-good-guys fashion.

“But some white women, and black women, and black men, and other people of color too, have actually acquired the nasty habit of putting the stuff on paper, and some of it gets printed, and printed material, especially books, gets into bookstores, into people’s hands, into libraries, sometimes even into university curricula.

What are we to do?” —-from How to Suppress Women’s Writing by Joanna Russ

I might add, some of it gets nominated for Hugos, and even wins. What are we to do???

 

Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“Hugo Recommendations: Best Fan Writer” – June 3

This is how I am voting in the Best Fan Writer category. Of course, I merely offer this information regarding my individual ballot for no particular reason at all, and the fact that I have done so should not be confused in any way, shape, or form with a slate or a bloc vote, much less a direct order by the Supreme Dark Lord of the Evil Legion of Evil to his 368 Vile Faceless Minions or anyone else.

  1. Jeffro Johnson
  2. Dave Freer
  3. Amanda S. Green
  4. Cedar Sanderson
  5. Laura J. Mixon

With regards to Mixon, I still don’t consider a professional writer with five novels published by Tor who also happens to be the current SFWA President’s wife to be what anything remotely recognizable as a proper “Fan Writer”, but that ship sailed back when John Scalzi, Jim Hines, and Kameron Hurley waged their successful campaigns for it. No sense in fighting battles already lost. The more relevant problem is that Best Related Work would be a more reasonable category for a single expose, and Deidre Saorse Moen’s expose of Marion Zimmer Bradley was a considerably more important work in that regard. That being said, I don’t regard the Hugo Awards as being the place to recognize investigative journalism, otherwise I would have nominated Saorse Moen’s stunning revelations about Marion Zimmer Bradley as a Best Related Work. But regardless, Mixon did publish a credible expose and she is a legitimate, if not necessarily compelling candidate.

 

Dave Freer in comment #58 on the same post at Vox Popoli – June 3

“Freer’s been an ass to me, and incoherent at length to pretty much everybody” sniff. I shall wear this with such pride, just because it comes from Crissy! I am amply rewarded for the time spent pointing out he was mathematically illiterate and logically incompetent.

To be fair to Mixon (I do not approve of her biased reporting, but still) 1)I have 20 novels published. 2) Both Amanda and Cedar are independently published – and both quite successful at it. I suspect they outsell Mixon, who IIRC has day job and a husband to share cost (he also has a day job). Strictly speaking she’s more of a ‘hobbyist’ than any of the three of us. 3) I am not, and never have been married to the pres of SFWA. Neither have Amanda or Cedar or Jeffro. Speaking strictly for myself, I hope to avoid that dreadful fate.

I raised the same objection to my being nominated Vox does on MGC when I was first put on recommended lists and, um, never found out my name was still there. I actually didn’t know I had been nominated (the Hugo Admins didn’t succeed in contacting me) until the nasty messages started popping up telling me I was going to suffer for it and should immediately abase myself. I don’t bully well, so despite the fact I didn’t want to be there, or feel I should be, I still am. Screw them and the donkey they rode into town on (the difference is hard to establish, but the donkey is the more intelligent and prettier).

Jeffro seems a good guy, and I can vouch for Amanda and Cedar.

 

Chris Gerrib on Private Mars Rocket

“Hugos, Fan Writer, Rant Regarding” – June 3

First, per section 3.3.15 of the WSFS Constitution, Fan Writer (like Best Editor) is an award for the person. It is not, like Best Novel, an award for a particular work. It is thus perfectly acceptable to say “fan writer X is a jerk” and use that as a critique of their nomination.

Actually, it is entirely within the rules to vote based on any criterion, if you want to be a stickler for the rules. Or, people who insist on following the letter of the law do not get to lecture me on the spirit of things.

Second, David Freer is a poor writer, at least with regards to his blog. His posts are lengthy, poorly-thought-out, (see, for example, his 1500 word post on Hugo probabilities, discussed and linked to by me here) and not to me particularly entertaining.

Third, in general the Hugo nominees are asking me and the other voters for a favor. They are asking that we take time out of our day, consider their material, and in the end give one of them an award. I don’t know how things work on Planet Puppy, but here on Earth, if one is asking somebody for a favor, normally the person requesting the favor attempts normal human politeness.

 

Lisa J. Goldstein on theinferior4

“The Hugo Ballot: All the Rest of the Novels” – June 3

I think the final vote on the novel will come down to what kind of sub-genre people like to read. Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Sword deals with galactic empires and planetary intrigue, but also plays with ideas about gender. The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison is charming and elegantly told, a tale of manners in a fantasy setting. Cixin Liu’s The Three-Body Problem dances out on the far edges of scientific speculation.  Really, any one of these could win and I’d be happy, but if I had to choose (and I guess I do), for me the best of them is Ancillary Sword.

 

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“Adventures in SciFi Publishing — Best Fancast Hugo Nominee” – June 3

http://www.adventuresinscifipublishing.com/

This is the first of the Hugo-nominated fancasts that I’ve listened to. Briefly — it’s good.

 

Rebekah Golden

“2015 Hugo Awards Best Movie: Reviewing Edge of Tomorrow” – June 3

Altogether a fun little movie, well handled and nicely plotted. I haven’t watched it, wasn’t planning to, but am happy I did. I will probably rewatch it before I decide how it stacks up against the other movie nominees.

 

Russell Blackford on Metamagician and The Hellfire Club

“Rest Related Work nominations reviewed & discussed – Hugo Awards Voting” – June 3

Antonelli’s Letters from Gardner seems, from what I’ve read, to be about the author’s development, at a relatively late stage of life, as a well-published author of (mainly) short stories. It includes a considerable amount of Antonelli’s fiction, with much commentary and reflection, and amongst it some perfectly sound advice on the craft of writing. If it were up for a lesser (perhaps regional) award, I’d have no difficulty in voting for it. From what I’ve read, however, I just don’t think the book is good, distinguished, or interesting enough to be worth a Hugo Award. It does not stand up well against past winners. Your mileage may vary. It’s not a bad book, and I’d have happily read the whole thing if it had been provided in the Hugo Voters Packet.

“Why Science is Never Settled”, by Tedd Roberts, is a well-written and thoughtful discussion of its subject matter. It popularises certain ideas in the history and philosophy of science, and does a workmanlike job of it. It was aimed at an SF-reading audience, and it was doubtless of interest to many people within that audience, but it does not seem to me to be sufficiently distinguished or relevant to deserve this award. There is some relationship to science fiction – enough that it would interest many readers who are also SF readers – but it’s a rather tenuous one.

 

Cirsova

“Hugo Art” – June 3

Fan artist category was rather disappointing; while I don’t want to say that any of these artists are bad, many artists I’ve seen on places like Deviant Art or here on WordPress have impressed me more; I really just don’t feel like many of these are ‘best of the best’ quality in terms of sci-fi art, at least by what I’ve seen. The lone exception is Elizabeth Legget, whose work, while not really blowing me away, is evocative and impressive enough that she easily rises to the top in this category….

In the Professional Artist category, I’d almost say that Julie Dillon wins by virtue of including a much larger portfolio to better display the range of her work….

Lastly, I’d like to note that it’s been interesting to see how the Fan Writer category is playing out. When I think of Fan Writing, I think of Algis Budrys and Baird Searles, who wrote on topic about notable books, movies and television that was relevant to fans of Speculative Fiction. One strange notion I’ve seen floated is that a Fan Writer should be writing ABOUT rather than TO the fandom, yet ironically those Fan Writers who have been writing more about the fandom than to them are paying the price, to an extent, for doing so. I enjoy the Mad Genius Club, but the rants about culture wars type stuff are going to come off to dedicated culture warriors about as well as Ann Coulter telling that Muslim girl to ride a camel. Meanwhile, many of those who don’t find pdfs an inaccessible format (sometimes grudgingly) acknowledge that Jeffro’s kept a laser-like focus on important works of Science-fiction and Fantasy, so we’re starting to see sort of a ‘man, we kind of want to hate this guy, but he’s actually writing about and bringing attention to some great authors!’ reaction. Given Jeffro’s decidedly apolitical approach (not ‘this is conservative/liberal’, ‘this is feminist/anti-feminist’, but ‘this is awesome’) to his subject matter combined with some of the backlash against Mixon (for myriad reasons), I think he has a pretty good shot in this category.

 

Adult Onset Atheist

“SNARL: Championship B’tok” – June 3

This novelette lacks several of the critical elements that any string of words needs to tie it up into a story; the most glaring of these exposes itself as a regular disregard for continuity. It is impossible to tell if this story is actually a chapter of a larger story, or it is just half-written. I get the impression that this author may be able to wrote, and write stories, but this is not one of them. I will eventually pull out a reasonably good excuse for awarding one whole star to this novelette.

 

Camestros Felapton

“The Puppy Works – Ranked from Bad to Okness” – June 3

So below the fold is an attempt to rank all the Puppy nominated works (not including dramatic, editorial or artistic) altogether from the worst to the least worst. I’ll spoil the suspense by revealing that “Wisdom From My Internet” not only came top but also provides a neat demonstration why rankings can be inadequate when what you need is some kind of measurement scale.

 

Mabrick on Mabrick’s Mumblings

“Skin Game A Novel of the Dresden Files Book 15 by Jim Butcher” – June 3

….That was a two paragraph introduction to the review of “Skin Game” by Jim Butcher, for which I am somewhat sorry to inflict upon you, but felt compelled to clarify for them that know of the Hugo Award drama. There are strong feelings on all sides of this issue and some will feel like I have somehow betrayed them by listening to and reviewing this book. Poppycock. Jim Butcher is a New York times best-selling author. He didn’t get there because of the Sad Puppies and he deserves a thoughtful and respectful review of his work just like I’ve done with all the other nominees so far (as part of my Nebula Nominee reviews.) Thinking otherwise is puerile behavior as bad as that exhibited by the Sad Puppies. I don’t believe this applies to all authors and publishing houses on the ballot, for some of them were self-serving in the extreme, but it does apply to Jim Butcher and Tor Books, his publisher.

 

Will McLean on Commonplace Book

“Nutty Nuggets” – June 2

“What are we looking for again?” said Liu, the technician from Mars Spacefleet.

“Ejecta from Perdita, of course.You saw the images we got from Alaunt. One of what hit Perdita shredded the cargo module and blew debris on a diverging course. The hydrogen tanks were holed too, but we’re not going to waste time looking for hydrogen in space. You have the cargo manifest.” Church, agent for Tranjovian and its insurance agency, was a stubby, thick-lipped, stocky man with heavy eyebrows. Perdita had gone silent on an unmanned low-energy trip to the Jovian moons and Alaunt had found what was left of her hull after a tedious search of her extrapolated course.

“Right.” said Liu,  as a document came up on his screen. “Spare parts and luxury goods: single-malt scotch, Napoleon brandy, macadamia nuts and cashews.”

“The liquids will have frozen that far out, so we’ll be looking for nutty nuggets. A pretty unique spectral signature beyond Ceres.” ….

 

Alexandra Erin on A Blue Author Is About To Write

Sad Puppies Review Books: THE POKY LITTLE PUPPY – June 3

poky-little-puppy-248x300Reviewed by Special Guest Reviewer James May

…Here’s the dividing line and the crucial issue: I don’t care what you do. I don’t care about any of your initiatives. What I care about is it is never expressed without dehumanizing men and whites as racist, women-hating, homophobes who have conspired and continue to conspire to keep everyone but the straight white male out of SFF. That is a lie we have proved with facts over and over again. The history of SFF as portrayed by SJWs is a hoax. It has never been any more exclusionary than Field & Stream.

Chicon 7 Votes on Hugo Rules Changes

The Main Business Meeting at Chicon 7 ratified the new Best Fancast category [PDF file], most of the changes to the Semiprozine and Fanzine Hugo categories [PDF file] first passed at Renovation in 2011, the existing Best Graphic Story category — which faced a sunset date — and rejected a motion for new Best Young Adult Fiction category.

The Best Fancast category was passed last year and Chicon 7 exercised its option to place it the 2012 Hugo ballot. Best Fancast recognizes fan podcasts, videos, etc. — and effectively removes them from the fanzine category. Statistics provided to the Business Meeting showed on its trial run this year Best Fancast had participation levels that favorably compared with the fanzine category in terms of nominating vote totals and number of items nominated. The ratification vote sailed through without much comment. The category comes with a sunset provision, so it will come up again for review in a few years.

The redefinition of the Semiprozine and Fanzine categories had to get over a few more hurdles before being ratified, due to fans offering amendments.

Voters agreed to restore the phrase “or the equivalent in other media” that had been struck out of the existing Best Fanzine rules. The cover argument was that keeping the language protected the eligibility of publications done in electronic form, although that has been policy for years — the vast majority of fanzines are now created in digital media and distributed online. What the real effect of keeping “equivalent” in the rule will be is hard for me to say. Rich Lynch said he was comfortable with the outcome because the new requirement for “periodical publication” was retained.

Ben Yalow also convinced the meeting to adjust the new verification rule in the Semiprozine and Fanzine categories. Nominees will now “be required to provide information that they meet the qualification of their category” instead of being “required to confirm…” Yalow felt the original wording implied an unwanted restriction on the powers of the Hugo Administrator.

The meeting also agreed to Rich Lynch’s housekeeping amendment to delete a few surplus words that had been unintentionally passed as part of the motion in 2011.

The Best Graphic Story category needed to be ratified once more at this year’s meeting to stay in the constitution, though of course it has been functioning for several years. We were told 344 nominating votes were cast in the category this year, for 244 distinct items, of which only 9 had 5% of the vote (a minimum eligibility standard). Two fans cited these stats as support for their opposing views, Chris Barkley saying it proved the category’s viability, Kent Bloom saying it showed the pool of Hugo-worthy works is very limited. Phil Foglio spoke in favor of keeping the category — one where he’s won nearly all the Hugos — humorously admitting, “Yes, at the moment we’re dominating, but you know, we’ll die someday…” Despite a lively controversy, the ratification easily passed.

The proposed Best Young Adult Fiction Hugo category aroused more passion. Some in favor argued the Worldcon would stunt its growth by rejecting the category, while opponents noted YA has no real definition and Ben Yalow said, “We don’t give out Hugos for marketing categories, we give Hugos out for works.” Lew Wolkoff contended there really wasn’t enough expertise among Hugo voters because many don’t read YA works unless something especially draws one to their attention. The motion failed 51-67.

Squeeing with the Best of Them

Star-powered SF Squeecast launches June 30. Elizabeth Bear, Paul Cornell, Seanan McGuire, Lynne M. Thomas, and Catherynne M. Valente will use their new monthly podcast to bring attention to SF works “that make them happy” — both new discoveries and old favorites. Besides the group book discussion there will be an irreverent question and answer segment and the occasional topical discussion.

The contributors are some of the field’s most popular rising writers. Elizabeth Bear has won two Hugos and a Theodore Sturgeon Award (The Jenny Casey Trilogy, The Jacob’s Ladder Trilogy). Paul Cornell is a Hugo-nominated New York Times Bestselling television, comic book, and prose writer. Senan McGuire is a Campbell Award-winner, Hugo-nominated New York Times Bestselling author and musician Seanan McGuire (October Daye series, Feed as Mira Grant). Lynne M. Thomas is a Hugo-nominated editor and curator Lynne M. Thomas (Chicks Dig Time Lords, Whedonistas). Catherynne M. Valente is a Hugo-nominated, Tiptree and Andre Norton Award-winning New York Times Bestselling author (Palimpsest, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making).