aka Operas in The Collar Cycle by Wagger, also including Das Whinegold, Die Walkies, and Sig-Flea’d
Saturday’s roundup brings you Matthew Foster, Gray Rinehart, Gary McGath, Allum Bokhari, Vox Day, Barry Deutsch, Adam-Troy Castro, A (W) Hendry, Tom Knighton, Eric Flint, George R.R. Martin, Lis Carey, Spacefaring Kitten, Russell Blackford and Ken Richards. (Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editors of the day Octavia, Camestros Felapton and Kyra, as inspired by Scott Frazer’s original idea.)
Matthew Foster at Foster on Film
“What’s the Point? Human Minds and Sad Puppies” – June 13
So, how does this end? Not with Eric persuading or David Gerrold’s call for respect. Not with valentines saying “All is forgiven” and kumbayas. We, humans, are creatures of grudges. We should try to be better beings, but never forget reality while doing so. Those who forget history…
There will be no ending, no defined finish. But there can be, and almost certainly will be, a fading. There will be fewer articles, fewer rants, fewer votes cast for political reasons. It can gently drift away until it is a footnote. Or it can lessen, but still split fandom for years to come. How this works out depends on how it fades. If enthusiasm dies quicker from the anti-pups, the results will be less equality than in recent years, a continuation of the dominance of white authors, a touch less innovation in known writers, a reduction in the quality of writing, and a greater acceptance of minor racism and sexism in fandom, (keeping in mind those grand statements only apply to awards and to a corner of fantasy and science fiction fandom—the Pups are not going to be altering racism in general society—so how big a deal this is to you depends on how close you are to that corner). If it dies quicker in the Pups, things will float closer to how they were: increasing equality, a lessening of dominance of white authors, more innovation, and greater condemnation of racism and sexism (still just in our pocket of fandom—again, don’t get too excited by those lofty phrases). Either way, the effects will not be that large, except for The Hugos, where the awards will lose some of their prestige if the Pups end up more on top, and slowly gain most of it back if the Pups end up on bottom.
Of course things could get worse. New Pup leaders could arise who have the charm of Vox and the mouth of Larry. We could start getting death threats and rape threats.
I expect a very slow fade, with people snapping at each other for a few years at least, and grumbling when alone with their colleagues for many years. I hope the Pups will fade faster, but as it will be most likely determined by general fatigue, there’s no way to know. One “side” could fade faster (keeping in mind there really is only one side to this mess—the Pups are the side; everybody else are just fans who got stuck in a fight they didn’t ask for) if its leaders faded. If Vox or Brad or Larry were to go through some life change, or just get caught up in other matters, the Pups would fade faster and we’d have less Puppy smell. There are no leaders in the fans who dislike the pups, but some, like John Scalzi, David Gerrold, and George R.R. Martin might have more of an effect if they walked away in disgust.
So, what’s my point? Why do I write all these words over so many posts? Partly it is an obsession to support what I think is right, even when it will make very little difference. Partly it is because I know how she felt about the Pups, and would feel about their mess, though she’d have said a great deal less about it. Partly it is to help out friends. Partly it is to whip up the troops as I’d prefer less Puppy smell. Partly it is to be part of the community. But mainly, for me, it is a distraction. Because this was Eugie’s world, it feels a little important, and because it is not what I spent my time doing before, it doesn’t feel lonely, which makes it a good distraction. And that is the point.
Gray Rinehart on GhostWriter
“Halfway to the Hugos” – June 13
To aid the casual reader, here’s what I plan to cover in this overly-long post: – My disappointment, but also my ambivalence, at the way things have been characterized – The metaphor I’ve most recently developed to describe the situation I’m in – Some Scripture verses I am trying to hold on to as this process unfolds – My regret at being unable to attend the upcoming ceremony Forewarned is forearmed. Now, knowing what’s coming, if you don’t want to read the rest that’s perfectly fine…..
When the plane landed in Nomination City, some of us were surprised, because we expected to land in Passed-Over-Ville. (Every other time people have told me they nominated one of my stories, I haven’t even made the post-award long list, so I didn’t expect this time to be any different.)
It seemed that the plane had been hijacked. When the flight subsequently took off from Nomination City, en route to Hugotown, the reaction to the hijacking was loud and angry. Some passengers snuck off the plane during the Nomination City stop, and a couple bailed out later; I’m not sure yet if their parachutes worked, if they made safe landings, or if anyone has picked them up out of the wilderness. I hope they’re okay.
The more it looked like a hijacking, the more some people on the ground talked as if they wanted to shoot down the plane; some of them seem determined to do so, even if only with their own personal weapons. Just as worrisome, some of the hijackers have talked as if they want to crash the plane in the middle of Hugotown. My fellow passengers and I are left to wonder if there’s anything we can do to improve our chances of survival.
I’ve been in touch with my friends, both inside and outside the community of fans, throughout the ordeal. Those who contributed to my ticket or who like my work or who support me personally almost all told me that they want me to stay aboard, and ride it out. One person advised me to bail out, parachute or no. Outside my relatively small circle of family and friends, from what I can tell quite a few spectators are glued to their computer screens, watching every agonizing minute of the event; I don’t know if they care a whole lot what happens to me or the other passengers….
Some Closing Thoughts. Whenever we value something highly, when we have invested time or treasure in it and derived some reward (however intangible) from it, and that thing is threatened in some way, we rightly resent and are justified in trying to defend against the threat. That is true whether we are talking about our families and friendships, our homes and personal property, our reputations, or institutions with which we identify. I think sometimes we forget that others have the same right, to defend those things which they value.
Based on that, I understand the impulse on the part of longtime WorldCon participants and serious fen to protect the institution and its flagship award. I understand that barbarians storming the gates, brazenly and with unexpected success, is frightening and naturally foments resentment and anger.
I choose the barbarian example deliberately. Outsiders are labeled barbarians not because that is what they call themselves, but because their language is incomprehensible to the insiders — to the refined ears of the citizens it sounds like “bar-bar-bar” (which among science fiction convention-goers is not, in itself, damning). But the outsiders do have language and culture, however strange it may seem to the citizens: from their own point of view they are not barbarians but Goths, Visigoths, or Ostrogoths; Celts, Huns, or Vandals.
This year’s Hugo-nominating barbarians, unlike historical tribes characterized as such, brought alms with which they gained entry into the city and bought their citizenship: the $40 Supporting Membership. And they brought their own opinions — perhaps studiously formed, perhaps informed or even influenced by others – which they expressed in the nomination process. They joined the community, but some of the original citizens still see them as barbarians, as outsiders, and seethe. I understand that, and I have seen the results in some of the reviews and comments about my own nominated story.
So I offer this: Reading should be a pleasure and a joy, and if any Hugo Award voter is upset at the way my novelette wound up on the ballot and has not read it yet, I encourage them and give them my full permission to ignore my entry completely.
Gary McGath on Building My World
“On the Sad Puppies” – June 13
I’ve kept my distance from the “Sad Puppies” controversy in the Hugo Awards. I’m not registered for the upcoming World Science Fiction Convention, and I don’t follow a lot of current science fiction, so I couldn’t cast an informed vote without a lot of extra work. I have noticed quite a bit of nastiness from the anti-Puppy faction, including sniping at the people nominated because of the Sad Puppy and Rabid Puppy slates. If you dislike the methods of promotion, that’s fine, but attacking people for being nominated and failing to decline the nomination isn’t. It exemplifies the growing illiberalism and intolerance that I’ve seen in fandom….
There’s an outside chance that my Tomorrow’s Songs Today could be nominated next year in the category of “best related work,” and I’ve thought about whether I’d want that. Some people would very likely lump me, because of my views, with the Puppy faction, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few alleged friends turn on me. If it happens, I think I’d do more good by giving them reasoned responses than by running away from the situation.
Allum Bokhari on Breitbart.com
“TORpedoed! Media narrative on Hugo Awards incorrect, says Tor Books founder” – June 13
Because their chief opponents were a set of hard-line progressive authors hell-bent on ostracizing anyone who challenged their ideology, the Puppies were attacked by multiple media outlets as a force of ‘white male reaction’.
This panicked narrative has taken yet another blow after an intervention by Tim Dohety, the founder and president of Tor books, one of the most influential publishing houses in sci-fi. Writing on the Tor’s blog, the 43-year veteran of the publishing industry acknowledged that media stories portraying the Sad Puppies as a racist, sexist campaign aimed at promoting white men was entirely inaccurate.
Vox Day on Vox Popoli
“Bokhari on the Tor debacle” – June 13
We are admittedly making some minor, if encouraging, dents in the ongoing SJW onslaught. But while we should be encouraged, we should not be complacent or think that what we have accomplished will not be undone in a heartbeat if we stop paying attention and slip back into pushover mode.
And while it’s great to see the Publisher at the largest SF/F publishing house disavowing the SJW thought-policing in which some of Tor’s editors have engaged for the last decade or more, that doesn’t mean that he is absolved of the need to get his house in order. I have heard, from different sources this time, that Tor Books is very much concerned about the prospect of a boycott, particularly one that is supported by SF/F authors.
Which is interesting, because so far they have been unwilling to do the one thing that will end the matter. Indeed, Tor Books appears to have decided to stand by the broad spectrum insults of its Creative Director and its Associate Publisher. So, let’s see what Macmillan will do. And if they won’t do anything either, well, at least we will know that we gave them every chance to avoid what they apparently wish to avoid.
The key to Tor’s intransigence is their belief that the “thousands of emails” they have received are from “bots”. This is the same narrative #GamerGate has encountered to attempt to minimize its numbers. Therefore, we will need to find a way to demonstrate to Macmillan that those “thousands of emails” represent “thousands of bookbuyers”.
Adam-Troy Castro on Facebook – June 12
You know, there are an awful lot of people weighing in on this Sad Puppy situation, and it’s impossible to single out the very stupidest thing anybody’s said, not when some of the more stupid things actually qualify as signs of mental illness. But Edward Trimnell’s characterization of the kind of fiction the Sad Puppies think they’re advocating against, as excerpted on File 770 this morning, is certainly a monument.
A (W) Hendry
“Totally No Homophobe” – June 13
….Now, I’m not saying that straight white dudes don’t have it slightly easier than everyone else -we live in a society where the ruling class have fostered racism, sexism, and homophobia for centuries to suit their own ends- but the portrayal of heterosexuality, whiteness, or maleness as privileges has the effect of turning our focus away from the things we should be fighting -oppression, injustice, capitalism and class society- onto those things that we can not, and should not, fight -ourselves. The privileges identified by those who take an intersectional approach are unlike the privilege that 99% of the population think of when they hear the term: economic privilege. Unlike economic privilege these privileges can be neither given up nor adopted –no matter how hard some may try– and so, in practical terms, all a focus on them can do is turn introspection into a form of faux activism. It also has the effect of making those with the privileges the centre of attention -which is probably why it is so popular with white middle class kids- rather than the people experiencing the various manifestations of oppression…..
Now, to segue wildly back towards the topic of the Puppies and internet shit squalls, people like John C Wright and Theodore Beale serve a social purpose. They are there to be mocked and to have the piss taken out of them. That is their purpose and that is the full extent of that purpose. Engaging with them in any way beyond this is a distraction from engaging in actual political activity -something that suits them and their ilk down to the ground- and creating a society that has solidarity at its heart and which therefore would be a place unwelcoming of those who would seek to undermine that solidarity. If that’s what a person wants rather than merely wanting to have their ego stroked.
When people like the Puppies pipe up, as they inevitably will, just point, laugh, and carry on not buying their books.
“BRING THE STRUCTURE OF THE HUGO AWARDS INTO THE MODERN WORLD” – June 13
…Today, that structure is hopelessly outdated. Short form fiction is now a very small part of fantasy and science fiction, whether you measure that in terms of money—where it’s now a tiny percentage of the income authors receive—or in terms of readership. It’s certainly a larger percentage of the readers than it is of income, but it’s not more than 10% and it’s probably closer to 5%.
People who are active in fandom are often surprised to hear this and sometimes think it’s nonsense, but that’s because reading short fiction is much more common in fandom than it is in the general audience for F&SF. There are many more people who only read novels than there are people who read any short fiction at all, much less do something like subscribe to a magazine or regularly read anthologies of short fiction…..
But there is a grain of truth lurking beneath their claim, because it is in fact true that there is a quite heavy bias against popular authors in the way the awards are determined—the Nebulas as much the Hugos. That’s not due to anything conscious on anyone’s part, and it’s not due to any sort of deliberate bias or discrimination. It’s simply inherent in the divergence between the reality of the market and the structure of the awards.
When most popular authors work exclusively or almost exclusively in series or multi-volume works like trilogies and quartets (and quintets, and sextets) and 75% of the awards are given out for short fiction, then it is inevitable that most popular authors will never get a Hugo or Nebula award….
I’d recommend replacing the existing four awards with seven, as follows:
Short Story. Anything up to 7,500 words.
Novelette. Between 7,500 and 17,500 words.
Novella. Between 17,400 words and 40,000 words.
Short Novel. Between 40,000 and 80,000 words.
Novel. Any length above 80,000 words so long as it remains within one cover, if it’s a paper edition. If only an electronic edition exists, it cannot exceed 300,000 words (which is pretty much the effective limit of a paper edition).
Multi-volume Stories. Any length above 80,000 words provided: a) it is divided into at least two volumes in paper editions none of which is shorter than 80,000 words or is more than 300,000 words if it exists only in an electronic edition. And b) it must be a completed work.
George R.R. Martin on Not A Blog
“Hugo Voting Continues” – June 13
Both supporting and attending members get an electronic “Hugo packet” that will enable you to read many of the works nominated for this year’s rockets. You should do that, no matter what side of the Puppy Wars you are on; we want informed voters. Yes, sadly, IMNSHO this is the weakest Hugo ballot in recent memory, thanks to the Puppy slates… but there’s still some damn strong work there, especially in Novel and Dramatic Presentation. And of course it is possible that your own tastes may differ from mine. So join, read, vote. And fifty years from now, when your fannish grandchildren ask you, “Say, gramps, what did you do in the Great Hugo War?” you’ll have an answer for them.
Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library
“Departure Gate 34B, by Kary English” – June 13
Kary English is a nominee for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. This is a gentle, melancholy story about a ghost who doesn’t know they’re now a ghost, and the surviving spouse who still loves, but is ready to move on. Enjoyable, even if not a stand-out.
Spacefaring Kitten on Spacefaring Extradimensional Happy Kittens
“Dave ‘Cool Beard but Incoherent Rants’ Freer” – June 12
Okay, let’s start with something positive: Freer has managed to include in the Hugo package one blog post that is actually about SFF books and in which the acronym SJW is mentioned (in the comments) only once. Well done!
Freer seems passionate, and I do like passionate people. Too bad he’s passionate about things I find reprehensible, such as defending sexism with this incoherent rant which consists of satire quotes of nobody knows what and run-of-the-mill anti-feminist bullshit that never stops to make an understandable point. The post is turbocharged with obscure references to cases of supposed “misandry” I may not be familiar with. However, after reading the post, I wasn’t inclined to do any research.
Russell Blackford on Metamagician and The Hellfire Club
“’Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium’ by Gray Rinehart – Hugo Award voting 2015” – June 13
This is another work nominated in “Best Novelette”, and again we have a competent, thoughtful, but not especially distinguished, space adventure. The underlying theme involves conflict between humans and technologically advanced aliens, in this case the Peshari, a lizard-like bunch with a taste for open skies and a morbid distaste (or more than that) for anything to do with digging into the ground. By my standards, which are not binding on anybody else, “Ashes to Ashes” suffers from being far too talky.
Ken Richards on learning the world, one step at a time
“TOM Kratman’s anti war polemic” – June 13
Assembled as a blank slate, ‘newbie’ Maggie is thrust through a vile ‘Boot Camp’ experience, which manipulates and transforms her from an innocent lover of flowers, to a pitiless, immoral killer, always following orders, no matter how reprehensible her actions may be. The sequence recalls the Paris Island Act of ‘Full Metal Jacket’, as we Kratman tells how soldiers are broken as humans and remoulded into unquestioning killers and followers of orders in that age old practice of brutalisation, intended to strip away the since of self, and replace it with the sense of the machine. The final ‘Full Metal Jacket’ reference is saved for the final act, where the scrap metal dealer, the general and the politician (deliberately generic, one-dimensional characters, in contrast to the betrayed heroine) receive, like the brutal drill sergeant, their just reward. Bravo Sir.