Pixel Scroll 6/1/18 One Post, At Least, Thy Tick Shall Stalk

(1) COCKYGATE. A transcript of today’s “Cockygate” court hearing  [PDF file] courtesy of Courtney Milan. She paid for it.

Milan asks:

If you want to do something that would be meaningful to me, drop a tip in RWA’s perseverance fund. It’s for romance authors who need help paying membership dues—whether they’re current members or not.

(2) SF AT THE SMITHSONIAN. Arthur C. Clarke papers in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum: “Letters from a Science Fiction Giant”.

“One of the strengths of the collection is Clarke’s manuscripts,” says curator Martin Collins. “Clarke had working notes as he prepared things for publication. It really highlights his deep belief and attention to making his fictional stuff as close to scientific fact as he could.”

The majority of the correspondence dates from the 1960s on. Tucked inside one folder, a letter from Wernher von Braun cordially invites Clarke to the October 11, 1968 launch of Apollo 7. “The rocket will carry [Wally Schirra, Donn Eisele, and Walter Cunningham] on a ten day earth orbital flight,” writes von Braun. “This mission will demonstrate the performance of the Saturn IB launch vehicle, the spacecraft’s command and service modules, and the crew and support facilities.” (Von Braun helpfully attached a list of motels in the Cape Kennedy area, which ranged in price from $5 to $18 a night.) A year later, Clarke, at Walter Cronkite’s side, covered the Apollo 11 mission for CBS.

(3) YE ROUND PEG IN YE ROUND HOLE. The BBC covers a study that shows “Every story in the world has one of these six basic plots”, applying Vonnegut’s graphing theory to some of the recent “100 stories that shaped the world”, including a few genre.

“Thanks to new text-mining techniques, this has now been done. Professor Matthew Jockers at the University of Nebraska, and later researchers at the University of Vermont’s Computational Story Lab, analysed data from thousands of novels to reveal six basic story types – you could call them archetypes – that form the building blocks for more complex stories. The Vermont researchers describe the six story shapes behind more than 1700 English novels as:

  1. Rags to riches – a steady rise from bad to good fortune
  2. Riches to rags – a fall from good to bad, a tragedy
  3. Icarus – a rise then a fall in fortune
  4. Oedipus – a fall, a rise then a fall again
  5. Cinderella – rise, fall, rise
  6. Man in a hole – fall, rise

(4) AUTHOR’S PICKS. Catherynne M. Valente names “10 Essential Offbeat Science Fiction Novels” at Publishers Weekly. First on the list –

1. How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu

This is one of my all-time favorite books and I can never not recommend it. It takes time travel and all the tropes inherent to it to a whole new level of emotional resonance, humor, and philosophy. It’s light on plot (and linearity) and heavy on meaning, but the whole thing is so deeply human, and at the same time, takes its science fiction so seriously that it’s no surprise author Charles Yu went on to write for Westworld.

(5) FAMOUS LAMB. Scott Edelman says “Nebula Award-winning writer Kelly Robson had a little lamb (and you can eavesdrop)” in Episode 68 of the Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Have you digested last episode’s Nebula Awards Donut Jamboree yet? I hope so, because following up on that lightning-round event, it’s time for the first of five one-on-one interviews over meals with writers recorded during this year’s Nebula Awards weekend in Pittsburgh—starting with nominee Kelly Robson, who 48 hours after we dined at Union Standard, became a winner!

Before winning this year’s Best Novelette Nebula for “A Human Stain,” she was also a finalist for the 2017 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. Her novella “Waters of Versailles” won the 2016 Aurora Award and was also a finalist for the Nebula and World Fantasy Awards. Her short story “The Three Resurrections of Jessica Churchill” was a finalist for the Theodore Sturgeon Award, and her short story “Two-Year Man” was a finalist for the Sunburst Award. Her most recent publication is the time travel adventure Gods, Monsters and the Lucky Peach.

I’d hoped to visit Union Standard shortly after they opened for one of last year’s batch of Nebula Awards weekend episodes, but sadly, it wasn’t to be, so I’m thrilled I was able to host Kelly there. As for the reason why I was so anxious to eat at that restaurant—Chef Derek Stevens has been called one of the foundational figures of Pittsburgh’s culinary boom. In fact, Pittsburgh magazine has written of him—”If you like dining out in Pittsburgh, you should thank Derek Stevens.” If nothing else, I’ve got to thank him for the Jamison Farm Lamb Sirloin with Anson Mills polenta and grilled asparagus—of which Kelly kindly allowed me a nibble.

We discussed how the first Connie Willis story she read changed her brain, the way a provocative photo got her a gig as a wine reviewer at a top national magazine, what she learned from the initial Taos Toolbox writers workshop, why completing Gods, Monsters and the Lucky Peach was like giving birth to a watermelon, how reading a Battlestar Galactica tie-in novel helped teach her how to write, where she would head if time travel were real, why she’s contemplating writing a “frivolous” trilogy (and what that really means), the reason the story of hers she most likes to reread is professionally published James Bond fanfic, and much, much more.

(6) MISSION RESUMED. Joe Stech announced Compelling Science Fiction Issue 11 is out.

It’s been a while, but we’re back with an incredible 7-story issue! I really appreciate your continued support after the switch to the new semiannual schedule. This issue starts with James Rowland’s “Top of Show”, a metastory about the art of creating stories (5948 words). Our second story is “Targeted Behavior” by J.D. Moyer. In it, someone wants the homeless to leave San Francisco. A young girl has other ideas. (4600 words). The third story this issue, Adam R. Shannon’s “Redaction,” is a story about medics who use technology to deal (or not deal) with their own traumatic experiences (4953 words). Next we have “Cold Draft” by John Derderian. This is a short one about how a radical politically motivated law surprises a teenage boy (2900 words). Our fifth story is “Dreams of the Rocket Man” by C. Stuart Hardwick. This is a beautiful reprinted story about a child learning rocketry from an enthusiastic mentor (7600 words). Story number six, “Driving Force” by Tom Jolly, is the shortest of the lot. In the future, AIs may not only be tasked with driving (1300 words). Our final story is “Don’t Play the Blues”, by Bruce Golden. A musician wrestles with experiences from his military days (6040 words).

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born June 1 – Actor Jonathan Pryce, 71, The Bureaucrat in The Adventures Of Baron Münchhausen and currently in The Game Of Thrones.

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Zombie jambalaya? Chip Hitchcock lets Bizarro explain.

(9) LISTENING IN. Remember that Star Trek scene where Kirk says something odd, to which Spock replies, “I can’t believe my ears, Captain”? Mad Genius Club’s Jonathan LaForce has some things to say in “Verified!” [Internet Archive link] that I haven’t heard from that blog before.

This conflict over culture has consequences. It demands that we not give in to the base instinct of lying, dehumanizing, and othering those with whom we quarrel. Such is dishonorable. Such will not be tolerated. I don’t want you to my left or right, I don’t want you laying down suppressive fire from behind me as I charge forward, if I can’t trust you to do the right thing.

This means not lying about people like Irene Gallo, Moshe Feder, Scalzi, Glyer, or anybody else in this conflict. Such actions destroy our credibility and integrity.
This means that when a panelist says something rude about Tolkien, and SFWA is merely live-streaming the event, don’t claim SFWA said those things about Tolkien.
When Tor writer Elise Ringo says “This is what I crave from female villains: women who are extended the same complexity and depth- and, potentially, sympathy- as their male counterparts, and also women who are really truly bad… Dark Lords are all very well, but the world needs more Dark Ladies…” your reply should not include the words “Tor.com calls on writers not to write female villains.”

When a fellow author says they don’t want to be included in your drama on Twitter, then blocks you on rather preemptively, don’t go “declare war” on them. That’s not just rude, that’s unprofessional.

When Brandon Sanderson announces that he’s going to be making some very carefully thought-out decisions about his involvement with a con just because he’s trying to be careful about his professional relationships, and you scream “MUHVIRTUESIGNALING!” you’re not impressing anybody but your own echo chamber and stroking your ego.

Today’s LaForce column appeared the same day as Jon Del Arroz’ posted “Fear And Loathing In SLC: How A Social Justice Mob Got To Brandon Sanderson” [Internet Archive link]. That may not be a coincidence.

(10) BOND. ROBOT BOND. The BBC explains “How humans bond with robot colleagues”.

Fast-forward a few years and this story isn’t as unusual as you might think. In January 2017, workers at CBC, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, threw a retirement party for five mail robots. Rasputin, Basher, Move It or Lose It, Maze Mobile and Mom had been pacing the company’s hallways for 25 years – delivering employee mail, making cute noises and regularly bumping into people.

There was cake. There were balloons. There was a nostalgic farewell video. There was even a leaving card with comments like “Thanks for making every day memorable” and “Beep! Beep! Beep!” The robots will likely spend their final years relaxing at one of the many museums that have requested them.

Though they’re often portrayed as calculating job-stealers, it seems that there’s another side to the rise of the robots. From adorably clumsy office androids to precocious factory robots, we can’t help bonding with the machinery we work with.

(11) DUNE. That’s cold: “Methane ice dunes found on Pluto by Nasa spacecraft”.

After an epic trek through the Solar System that took nearly a decade, New Horizons sped by at a speed of 58,536 km/h (36,373 mph), gathering data as it passed.

In their study, the researchers explain how they studied pictures of a plain known as Sputnik Planitia, parts of which are covered with what look like fields of dunes.

They are lying close to a range of mountains of water ice 5km high.

The scientists conclude that the dunes are 0.4-1km apart and that they are made up of particles of methane ice between 200-300 micrometers in diameter – roughly the size of grains of sand.

(12) AT THE BODLEIAN. “JRR Tolkien artwork on display for first time”. This probably won’t travel, but the article has a few samples, including one from 1915.

Personal effects – such as Tolkien’s briefcase, the colour pencils he used to create the artwork for Lord of the Rings and boxes of poster paints that he used for water colours in The Hobbit – have been lent to the Bodleian by his family.

Tolkien’s tobacco pipes are also included.

… There are previously unseen letters sent to Tolkien from famous fans such as poet WH Auden, novelists Iris Murdoch and Terry Pratchett and singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell.

“This is a very exciting part of the exhibition,” Ms McIlwaine said.

“These are letters that people haven’t seen before and haven’t been published and I think it’s going to be very surprising to visitors to see the range of people who loved Tolkien’s work, and loved it so much that they wrote to him.”

It’s mildly ironic that a Bodleian archivist would speak admiringly about someone’s smoking materials. Readers have to sign this well-known pledge before being allowed to use the Library:

“I hereby undertake not to remove from the Library, or to mark, deface, or injure in any way, any volume, document, or other object belonging to it or in its custody; not to bring into the Library or kindle therein any fire or flame, and not to smoke in the Library; and I promise to obey all rules of the Library.”

(13) VIDEO OF THE DAY. “Tergo” is a good short film, directed by Charles Willcocks, about a street cleaning robot who dreams of better things that he can’t have.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Scott Edelman, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, Carl Slaughter, ULTRAGOTHA, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Stoic Cynic.]

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.