aka Slate Expectations
Today’s lightness comes from Katherine Tomlinson, amalythia, David Gerrold, Brad R. Torgersen, Cat Valente, Voss Foster, Andrew Knighton, Nick Mamatas, William Reichard, P. Llewellyn James, Cheryl Morgan, Bonnie McDaniel, Lisa J. Goldstein, Eemeli Aro, Kate Paulk, Pat Patterson, Tom Knighton, Dan Ammon, John Scalzi and Alexandra Erin. A couple of these are older items that seem to have been missed by earlier roundups. (Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editors of the day Kary English and Daniel P. Dern.)
Katherine Tomlinson on Kattomic Energy
“Hullabaloo over the Hugos” – May 3
When I first heard about the gaming of the system, it was disappointing but I spent decades in L.A. where gaming the system at awards time is a fine art. (Remember how many people were shocked, SHOCKED that Pia Zadora got a Golden Globe Award?)
But I grew up reading science fiction and fantasy. I write it now. And the stories I write and the characters I create reflect the world I live in. Complicated. Diverse. And women do more than open hailing frequencies and get rescued from towers.
The idea that there are writers out there who are trying to hijack two entire genres of writing to advance their political agenda is just not tolerable. I’m not a member of the WSFS but even so, I have skin in the game. Because I love these genres. And it is a delight to discover writers whose work inspires me. And entertains me. Call me a “pissypants” if you like (see above Slate article) but what that cabal of writers did will NEVER be okay for me. And it wouldn’t be okay if they’d had a liberal, left-leaning agenda either.
amalythia on Medium
“I Do Not Wish to Offend – Short Story” – May 6
[amalythia has written a story in response to Kameron Hurley’s short story “It’s About Ethics in Revolution”.]
There is a large bell in the center of town that used to ring every morning. But then the Minister’s daughter complained that the noise triggered her, by waking her up from her sleep. It doesn’t ring anymore. Instead we’re awoken by a phone call from our manager. My roommate sleeps right through it. I heard her mumble something about not coming in. Again. Ever since our last manager seemed to disappear overnight, when she threatened to fire her for incompetence, no one dares question her. I wear my tag: 0678. I think I had a name at some point, perhaps the one inscribed on the pendant my mother left for me. They don’t allow names anymore, as certain names might offend some people. I wouldn’t want to offend them.
David Gerrold on Facebook – May 7
… Second, after we reaffirm our commitment to inclusiveness, we need to consider whether or not the Hugo nominating rules need to be adjusted. I believe that the administrators of the award should have the power to disqualify slate-ballots, but the mechanisms for this might be controversial. (It should be possible to do a computer analysis of the balloting. If 25 or more ballots come in with identical nominees in every category, and they match a publicized slate…that could be considered compelling evidence.) Other proposals have been offered as well, and I expect there to be some vigorous discussion…..
But the point I’m working toward is a difficult one — it’s a conversation that we tend to shy away from. But any functioning community, does have the right to protect itself from disruptive agencies. Groups can and do disinvite those who spoil the party.
The SFWA expelled Vox Day for his unprofessional behavior. Fandom as a community, and the Worldcon as an institution, should have the same power to invite someone to the egress. Other conventions have taken steps to protect themselves from toxic and disruptive individuals — and based on the back-and-forth conversations I’ve seen, and as unpleasant a discussion as this will be, maybe it’s time to have a discussion about the mechanisms for shutting down someone who has publicly declared his intention to destroy the awards.
That’s the point. We cannot talk about healing while the knife is still being twisted in the wound. I can’t speak for the sad puppies, I can’t tell them what to do — but I would hope that they would recognize that being perceived as standing next to a man who wants to destroy the system is not the best place to stand. Despite what’s being said in their own echo chambers, the larger narrative isn’t a good one for the puppies.
Thing is, no matter how much “daylight” Larry and I put between ourselves and Vox Day, there are people on “your” side, David, who insist that it’s all the same thing. That there is no difference at all.
For five weeks, Larry and myself have had to hear it (from “your” side) about how awful we are.
We invited everyone to the democracy, and we have been awfulized for it. The SP3 voters have been awfulized. Awfulization has been the fad sport of the season. By people who pat themselves on the back for being “inclusive.”
As long as Fandom (caps f) insists on doing “sniff tests” about voters and fans (small f) being the “wrong kind” of people, there won’t be healing. Definitely not. This is the wound Fandom (caps f) has inflicted on itself, after decades of quiet exclusivity. Of telling authors and artists and fans (small f) they’re not the expected, or correct, or sufficiently “fannish” kind of people that Fandom (caps f) deems worthy.
This is why so many fans and professionals *avoid* Worldcon. WSFS. The Hugos. Etc. Because the “sniff test” is very glaring, and if the engineers of “inclusive” exclusivity (they know who they are) succeed in making it so that the poll tax (membership fee) is exorbitant, or that only attending members get to vote on the Hugo, or that the democracy is scuttled altogether (judges “your” side picks, always make sure “your” side gets the answers it wants) then Worldcon gets that much smaller, that much more exclusive, that much less relevant.
Vox Day is a side show. A red herring. Don’t water that weed.
What is Worldcon doing to prove that it is, in fact, WORLDCON? Because any given Comic Con, Dragoncon, et al., beats the pants off Worldcon, in terms of audience youth, audience enthusiasm, and connection to the broader SF/F realm.
To paraphrase a line from one of my favorite films, this isn’t the field you built in your garage anymore.
You can’t arrest Vox Day. You can’t turn off his blog. You can’t touch him. So why fixate on him endlessly?
If Worldcon begins to boast memberships on the order of 30,000 to 55,000 then Vox Day and his influence cease to exist. There is no bloc that can hope to survive those numbers.
So, go big.
Or stay small, and shutter the windows and doors.
One of those choices has a future. The other does not.
Tintinaus: Regardless of what Dave Freer thinks of me–a writer I barely know who misquotes me at every turn and who, when we met, replied monosyllabically to my friendly overtures while looking like he wanted nothing more than for me to leave, only to go online four years later and claim to know a whole lot about my thoughts and feelings–it makes me sad (AS SAD AS A PUPPY) to hear my SF work once again dismissed as “gussied up” fantasy.
Essentially nothing SFnal I write gets classified as SF. It can take place on other planets, concern itself with science and technology, even have ray guns, and it somehow always gets dismissed with a wave of the hand and an assurance that it’s “just” fantasy. I can think of a lot of science fiction authors with much less hard science than I’ve used in my stories who are never questioned as to which side of the genre they write on. I am genuinely curious whether it’s because I use that pretty language, that I’ve written more fantasy than SF–or maybe my science really is that bad. Or maybe it’s that “hard” SF gets written by men, and the whole conversation is incredibly gendered.
Thing is, I’ve never claimed to write hard SF. I didn’t want to write SF at all for a long time because I was convinced the science fiction community did not want me and would not accept me–funny how that’s still kind of true. I can write about programming and physics till I’m blue in the face but it’ll never be SF for some reason.
And what I said, what I have said over and over at conventions, is that you don’t need a background in math and science to write SF. That’s what research is for. I research like a bear and I would think anyone who’s read my books would laugh at the idea that I think everyone should be ignorant and uneducated–I mostly get called a pretentious, elitist asshole, not a champion of dumbing down. I was trying, as I always do, to assure young writers that they are allowed to write SF even if they don’t have a degree in physics, because I don’t know if people realize how intimidating it can be to even attempt science fiction with a lot of people yelling about getting off their lawn if you’ve never interned for NASA. Or are a dude.
I do not have a science background. I research and I research hard because it’s more difficult for me than folklore and myth, which I’ve studied all my life. But I maintain it’s absurd to say SF can only be written by scientists–absurd and elitist and exclusionary. And honestly, show me the diamond-hard science in the Puppy slate. Show me the PhD peeking out from behind the dust jacket. The kind of SF they advocate, with the buxom ray guns and the strapping spaceships, is NOT hard SF. It’s adventure fiction “gussied up” as science fiction. And that’s fine, but it has no more real science than my gussied up fantasy.
Voss Foster on Demon Hunting & Tenth Dimensional Physics
“I Will Walk With You” – May 6
Now, I’m not a shodan in Aikido (in 4th grade, I had a white belt in karate…), and I don’t have the same presence as Vonda McIntyre. I also hate wearing those badge ribbons. One or two is my max. But I’m 5’10”, and close to 300 pounds (and dropping, yay me!), and I generally look intimidating. But even if I didn’t, like she said, it’s a presence, it’s someone by your side. And I will do that, and happily so. If you feel like you need someone, whatever side of the issue you fall on, I will walk with you.
“Change, Reaction and Pain – Coping With Cultural Backlash” – April 29
I love that the world is changing. I love the variety that brings and the novelty it creates within our culture, even as the dark fingers of uncertainty send tremors of fear through my body.
Unfortunately, fear of change is currently rearing its big, ugly head all over geek culture.
The most prominent and hideous example of this is the treatment of feminists in computer gaming. There are some great designers and critics out there critiquing the domination of gaming by white, straight, male gamers and characters, and the way this excludes others. This has triggered a huge backlash, in which people have been called the vilest names and even had their lives threatened for expressing their opinions on a medium they love.
Then there’s the fuss, for the second year in a row, around science fiction and fantasy’s Hugo awards. I think there are a lot of problems with the Hugos, but they’re certainly high profile within the core of sf+f. This year, a reactionary group have managed to dominate the nominations with a slate of conservative, white, male authors. It’s a shame, but it is at least getting people engaged with the awards, and may favour the pro-diversity arguments in the long run.
Screw real politics, what about the hugo’s? Torgersen write anymore slash or did Correia just cry for like the twentieth time about how life is unfair and everyone was so mean to him at worldcon?
Brad made a mildly homophobic remark regarding Scalzi, which half the planet had to blog about because it was just soooo awful and apparently now the US will fall to ISIS because how can Brad’s soldiers trust him now?
Anyway, under Sharia law, launching politicized slates for the Hugos is barred, so I guess the problem has solved itself!
“Cry ethics and let slip the puppies of war” – May 7
In which I am called a liar, though perhaps not in a way that’s literally, dialectically true but is actually more true because it lets me see the truth, which is that I am lying. Maybe. Or something.
“The day I got mentioned on Vox Day’s blog” – May 7
His Voxness mentions me in what may be some kind of compliment, though it may also translate as “you are fairly amusing…for a slave boy with inherently limited mental capacities and basic worth.” But hey, us Rhetoricals take what we can get, right? I know from long experience that my flame-retardant suit is far too flimsy to sustain me in any battle with the mighty forces arrayed off my port bow and preparing to decloak at any sign of hostile intent, so my only hope is to position myself as a jester, dancing merrily on the sidelines and dodging the occasional peach pit. So, hopefully, everyone’s still laughing. Ergo…where was I again?
P. Llewellyn James on The Refuge
“Hugo : ‘Skin Game’ the Best Novel?” – May 6
There are five books nominated for Best Novel for the 2105 Hugo awards. The winner will be chosen by a few thousand votes from among those who have registered as a member of WorldCon. But what does the wider audience of readers think of the books? Here are some Amazon statistics as of today May 6th. Voting closes on July 31st.
I’m using two measures – the overall sales rank, and my own invented ‘approval rating’, or calculation of positive to negative reviews ((5star + 4star)/(2star + 1star))….
The overwhelming favorite on the basis of its approval rating is Skin Game, which is also the second-best seller in Kindle format.
The best-selling book in Kindle format is Lines of Departure, and it has the second-best approval rating.
“A Little Awards News” – May 7
Also yesterday the Arthur C. Clarke Award continued its journey away from science fiction and towards literary respectability. This year the award went to a beautifully written piece of sentimental twaddle aimed at the sort of pretentious hipsters who think that suffering an apocalypse means being unable to have iPhones, Sunday supplements and skinny flat lattes. It is a very long time since a book without a trans character made me as viscerally angry as Station 11 did. However, I don’t appear to have sent any death threats to the Clarke jury. Nor have I vowed to destroy the award, or even decided that it is “broken”. In fact I rather suspect that the Clarke will do better next year without any help from me. Clearly I am doing this social media thing all wrong.
Then again, I am confident that the winner of this year’s Hugos will be a far better science fiction novel than the winner of the Clarke.
Adult Onset Atheist
“SNARL: Flow” – May 6
This is a review of “Flow” by Arlan Andrews, Sr. (Analog, November 2014)
Overall this was an engaging novella. This is such a grand departure from the other four nominees that I will have awarded this story five whole stars (out of 10) by the time I have done reviewing it. I am sure it would have not scored as well if the competition was not so utterly dreadful.
Bonnie McDaniel on Red Headed Femme
“The Hugo project: ‘Totaled’” – April 30
The Hugo Project: “Totaled”
(Note: this is the newest in a series of posts wherein I review as many of the 2015 Hugo nominees as I can, and explain why I will or will not vote for them.) Hot damn. I finally stumbled upon a decent story. Actually, this story is pretty good, even if its premise is downright terrifying.
Lisa J. Goldstein on theinferior4
“The Hugo Ballot, Part 4: Short Stories” – May 6
“On a Spiritual Plain” by Lou Antonelli takes place on a planet where “the living and the spirits of the dead coexist side by side” for the sentient race there, the Ymilans. One day a human, Joe McDonald, dies on Ymilas, and then manifests in spirit form. The human chaplain learns from the Ymilan chief cleric that Joe’s soul has to make a pilgrimage to the north pole so it can “move on,” and so the three of them — the chaplain, the Ymilan, and Joe’s ghost — set off from the Terran base near the equator.
I would have liked more description of the Ymilans — all we’re told about them is that they’re “large.” I would have also liked more description of the trek across half the planet, but we see only electrical storms, and, towards the end, “diminishing hills.” I would have liked some sense of ceremony or ritual when the soul dissipates, but here Antonelli seems to have anticipated readers like me, because he has the Ymilan cleric say, “I’m sorry, I forget your people put a great deal of stock in theater and rituals, which is to be expected in such an immature race.” Okay, then.
[Comments about Worldcon site selection seemed tangential when I started doing these roundups, but after T.C. McCarthy’s tweet and the ensuing discussion here, I am going to link to this so I know where to find the quote in the future.]
Eemeli Aro: This is what I posted about Castalia House on a mailing list earlier today (for context, I’m chairing the Helsinki in 2017 Worldcon bid and somewhat involved in both Finnish and Worldcon fandoms):
I’d like to note that Castalia House has practically no connection with Finnish sf fandom, and they have never had a presence at any Finnish con. The only communication with the proprietor (Markku Koponen) that I’ve been a party to is a post by him to a Finnish sf mailing list last April, where he states (translating), “As must be clear to most, Castalia House is ideologically opposed to the majority of practically all fannish groups in this country.”
So in brief, no, the Finns that are members of Sasquan on account of having participated in the 2015 site selection vote or that have purchased a membership since then to participate in said process this year are unlikely to be aligned with the supporters of works published by Castalia House.
We do, on the other hand, have a thriving small press and short story scene, and a rather unique fanzine tradition, all of which is well integrated with Finnish fandom at large. Of course that’s mostly hidden from American eyes, as it tends to produce content in Finnish. If you’re interested in such, though, we do have a few things coming out this spring and summer that will be in English.
Kate Paulk on Mad Genius Club
“A Mad Genius Goes To RavenCon – Part the Final” – May 7
With a mere hour remaining ere her final panel of the day, Kate the Impaler did rest for a time, whereupon a member of that most secret guild of SMOF did approach her and divulge that the campaign to end the sorrow of young canines was indeed sending waves of shock through the grand halls of fandom, and how in response some sought to wrest that jewel of fandom, the Convention of World, from any locale where the friends of sorrowful young canines might gather, and take it to a far distant place that in isolation they might gather in force and thereby bring about changes to the Rules of Hugo, thus condemning the young canines to eternal sorrow. (For those not inclined to translate: read up on the contenders for the 2017 Worldcon, pay your $40 and vote. You’ll be a supporting member for 2017 before the price rise kicks in, and you get to choose where it is. Vote for the best candidate. Ignore that I like Washington, DC as a venue. I only like it because it’s the only one I could drive to).
The warrior maiden did assure the SMOF that voting would indeed be encouraged, and promised that no secrets would be divulged, for yea, as the house of fandom is divided, so too is the secret guild of SMOF.
“Pop Culture Destruction – Forgive Me, For I Have Failed To Destroy Pop Culture” – May 7
If you’ve been following any goings on in the world of genre/science fiction literature you’ve surely heard of last month’s controversy surrounding the Hugo Awards, which got hijacked by literal fascists in the name of promoting what amounts to little more than right wing propaganda. And that’s before internet scum collective GamerGate got involved. In any case, writer Philip Sandifer has this excellent roundup of the sorry debacle on his blog, to which I can only add that, at this point, the Hugos can only fixed with the application of a bullet to the head.
Pat Patterson on Papa Pat Rambles
“Laura Mixon Gets It Right” – May 4
Again: if you have not read Laura’s report, do so. I do not know whether she will win the Hugo in the “Best Fan Writer” or not; she is competing against four other respected fan writers, three of whom I consider to be personal friends. I plan to vote for Nunaya Bidness, but if I were on the slate against her, I would consider that to be an honor-by-association.
“Woman wants to ban men at literary readings, a fisking” – May 6
I’m sorry, but you can’t claim on one hand that women are self-censoring from raising their hands, and then say it’s not their fault that they’re not raising their hands. Women aren’t punished for asking questions as adults.
She claims that the moderators don’t notice them, but you know who moderators are far more likely to notice? People raising their damn hands, for one! Yes, I know they skipped over Livingston, and while she wasn’t their target, they really couldn’t know that, but how prevalent is the situation? Honestly, maybe it’s just personal. If these are the same folks, maybe they just don’t like her for some reason?
Dan Ammon on The Shield
”Why and How The Hugo Awards Should Be” – April 18
But that doesn’t matter. What matters here are the fact that sci-fi books aren’t being judged on their merit, but their politics. So here’s how I propose to fix that:
A) THE NEUTRAL BENIGN COMMITTEE
What I propose is an apolitical committee that votes on which books, comics, scripts, short stories, etc, should receive nominations to the awards, based on their merit. How would this come into existence? Simply by finding the most apathetic people alive, have the Hugo voters, lefty and righty alike, deliberate and nominate them, then subject these nominees to a lie detector test to make sure they are actually apolitical, and not being paid off by either side.
Alexandra Erin on Blue Author Is About To Write
“Sad Puppies Review Books: GREEN EGGS AND HAM” – May 7
Sadly much like 1984 this book ends with the protagonist giving in before the onslaught. He does love Big Brother. He does like green eggs and ham. He will eat them with the fox. In a perverse mockery of holy communion, he will eat them with the goat (like Pan or Baphomet, or other guises worn by Satan). This is preparing our children to have not just their food supplies controlled but also their minds and very souls.
A child indoctrinated by this book is not only trained to give in to the illegitimate application of government authority but is also primed to use these techniques to convince others. Unless your children are strong-willed and well-trained to recognize these tricks and traps I recommend keeping this book the hell away from them.
If you have raised your children right as I have done with mine then your best bet is to take a hands-on approach. I read this book to my children, taking care to explain the subtle SJW traps that were on every page. I am pleased to report that they showed no interest in it afterwards.