Albatross by MacAvoy and Palmer: A Lis Carey Review

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Albatross by R.A. MacAvoy and Nancy Palmer.

Sanachie Press, ISBN 2940157997915, February 2016

By Lis Carey: Dr. Rob MacAuley is a brilliant physicist from the Outer Hebrides. He’s also on the run, convicted in absentia of terrorism and murder. It’s an absurd charge against a gentle and largely apolitical man, but it’s a symptom of a Britain grown ever more paranoid, that has split from the EU at a cost its leadership could have calculated but didn’t, and where the Scottish Parliament was dissolved eighteen months ago.

Rob is, through no fault of his own, a figurehead, or perhaps mascot would be a better word, of the Scottish Separatist movement.

Oh, and he has this odd thing he does, when startled or alarmed, that he calls “flinching,” and that someone else might call moving from one spot to another without crossing the intervening distance.

Thomas Heddiman, American, machine intelligence specialist, anti-human trafficking activist, and karate expert, has a whole different set of problems. He’s currently volunteering his services to the Edinburgh police for reasons not apparent to those he’s working with.

Their paths are about to cross in a most unexpected way, in a Britain growing increasingly dark.

Thomas is very close-mouthed about what his real purpose is. Rob is sending letters under false names to physicists all over the world, asking questions that he hopes will nudge them toward the same breakthrough he’s made. He doesn’t want to be the only one who has the ability to publish and share his Unity Theory, so that it at least can’t become a weapon for just one power.

This is an engaging and challenging book, with diverse and fascinating characters. The time is just about a quarter century in the future, and it’s a recognizable but different world.

Those who fondly remember Tea With the Black Dragon will find some themes in common, but they are very different books. If one insists on placing it in a genre category, it’s fantasy.

I should probably admit, in a spirit of full disclosure, that I feel that R.A. MacAvoy hasn’t written nearly enough. I’m not previously familiar with Nancy Palmer, but regardless of any other contribution she made, another MacAvoy novel is something to be grateful for.

Go read it; you won’t regret it.

I received a free electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Pixel Scroll 1/3 The Man from P.I.X.E.L.

coverWARP932 Keith Braithwaite

(1) BRAITHWAITE RESTORES CLASSIC ARTWORK. Gracing the cover of Warp #93, the Montreal Science Fiction and Fantasy Association clubzine, is this superlative painting —

The Doctor and his Companion, by Claude Monet (oil on canvas, 1875), a painting dating from a most fertile phase of the renowned French Impressionist’s career, was recently discovered in the attic of a house in Argenteuil in which Monet lived in the 1870s. Little is known of the subjects depicted as the artist left no notes as to their identity or relationship to him. No particulars on the gentleman or lady are to be found, either, in the local historical records of the time and the odd structure beside which the gentleman is standing remains a puzzle. Civic records offer no indication that such a structure ever existed, as if this curious blue box simply appeared out of thin air, and then disappeared just as mysteriously. The title of the work gives us our only clue as to the two subjects, suggesting that the gentleman was, perhaps, a medical doctor travelling with a female relative, Fiancée, or mistress. MonSFFA’s own Keith Braithwaite worked on the restoration of the painting.

(2) BLUE PEOPLE BEWARE. Yahoo! Movies reports “’The Force Awakens’ Barreling Toward ‘Avatar’Record”.

The space opera sequel is moving up the all-time domestic box office charts at a record clip and now is poised to overtake those pointy eared blue aliens as the top grossing film in history. Avatar earned $760.5 million during its stateside run and Star Wars: The Force Awakens has generated $740.4 million domestically after picking up $88.3 million over New Year’s weekend. It should take the crown from Avatar early next week.

(3) AXANAR DECONSTRUCTED. (There’s that word again. I hope I know what it means…) John Seavey at Mightygodking has created a FAQ about the Paramount/CBS lawsuit against Axanar Productions:

Q: Then why are they being sued? Paramount allows lots of these things, don’t they?

A: Oh, yeah. “Star Trek Renegades”, “Star Trek: Of Gods and Men”, “Star Trek Continues”…basically, it seems like as long as nobody’s making any money, Paramount turns a blind eye to these fan films.

Q: But this one they wouldn’t? Why?

A: Well, there is the fact that, in an update on Axanar’s Indigogo campaign, they said, “EVERYTHING costs more when you are a professional production and not a fan film. All of this and more is explained, along with our budget of how we spent the money in the Axanar Annual Report.”

And in that latest annual budget report, they said, “First and foremost, it is important to remember that what started out as a glorified fan film is now a fully professional production. That means we do things like a studio would. And of course, that means things cost more. We don’t cut corners. We don’t ask people to work full time for no pay. And the results speak for themselves.”

And:

“Please note that we are a professional production and thus RUN like a professional production. That means our full time employees get paid. Not much honestly, but everyone has bills to pay and if you work full time for Axanar, you get paid.

Also, no other fan film has production insurance like we do. We pay $ 12,000 a year for that. Again, a professional production.”

Also, in their Indiegogo FAQ, they had this little gem:

“Q: What is Axanar Productions?

Axanar is not just an independent Star Trek film; it is the beginning of a whole new way that fans can get the content they want, by funding it themselves. Why dump hundreds or thousands of dollars a year on 400 cable channels, when what you really want is a few good sci-fi shows? Hollywood is changing. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and other providers are redefining content delivery, and Axanar Productions/Ares Studios hopes to be part of that movement.”

Which kind of contradicts the “fan film” statement.

(4) WILL SMITH’S CHARACTER IS LATE. John King Tarpinian imagines the conversation went like this: “You want how much?  Sorry but your character just died.” In a Yahoo! News interview,  “Will Smith Says It Was Terrible When He Found Out His Independence Day Character Died”.

Will Smith found it unpleasant to learn that the fat lady had sung on Steven Hiller, the character he played in 1996’s Independence Day. “It was terrible when I found out my character died,” Smith told Yahoo.

Hiller’s death was revealed on a viral site for Independence Day: Resurgence. “While test piloting the ESD’s first alien hybrid fighter, an unknown malfunction causes the untimely death of Col. Hiller,” the site’s timeline reads. “Hiller’s valor in the War of ’96 made him a beloved global icon whose selfless assault against the alien mothership lead directly to the enemy’s defeat. He is survived by his wife Jasmine and his son Dylan.” You can see an image of Hiller’s fiery death by clicking here.

(5) ALL KNIGHT. Admiring Fred Kiesche’s Damon Knight quote in a comment here, Damien G. Walter tweeted —

(6) HE FIGURES. Camestros Felapton forays into toy design with his new “Hugo” brand “Stage Your Own Kerfuffle”  figures….

(7) JEFFRO MOVES UP. Vox Day is delegating management of the Castalia House blog to “The new sheriff in town”, Jeffro Johnson:

As Castalia House has grown, it has become increasingly difficult to balance my responsibilities as Lead Editor and as the manager of this blog. Because Castalia House shoots for excellence across the board, I have decided that it is time to step back and hand over my responsibilities for this blog to someone else.

And who is better suited to take it over than one of the very best bloggers in science fiction and gaming? I am absolutely delighted to announce that the Castalia House blogger, author of the epic Chapter N series, and 2015 Hugo nominee for Best Fan Writer, Jeffro Johnson, has agreed to accept the position of Blog Editor at Castalia House.

(8) ARISTOTLE. That leaves Vox Day more time to orchestrate his winter offensive. His first target is File 770 commenter Lis Carey.

Even I occasionally forget how fragile these psychologically decrepit specimens are. Anyhow, it’s a good reminder to ALWAYS USE RHETORIC on them. They’re vulnerable to it; they can’t take it. That’s why they resort to it even when it doesn’t make sense in the context of a discussion, because they are trying to make you feel the emotional pain that they feel whenever they are criticized.

Day is developing a Goodreads author page, and Carey mentioned yesterday she had already seen early signs of activity:

Ah, this may explain a recent comment on one of my reviews of last year’s Hugo nominees–and means maybe I can expect more.

The particular comments were on her review of Castalia House’s Riding The Red Horse.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 3, 1841 — Herman Melville ships out on the whaler Acushnet to the South Seas.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born January 3, 1892 – J.R.R. Tolkien, honored by Emily Asher-Perrin at Tor.com:

But of course, the world remembers Tolkien for changing the fantasy genre forever. By penning The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien set a framework for fantasy literature that countless authors have attempted to recapture over the years. The creation of Middle-earth, from its languages to its poetry to its rich cultural history and varied peoples, was an astounding feat of imagination that no one had managed before with such detail and ardent care.

(11) SEMIPROZINES. Camestros Felapton continues moving through the alphabet in his “Semiprozine Round-Up: Cs and Ds”.

Keeping on going in the Cs and Ds of semiprozines.

  • The Cascadia Subduction Zone
  • The Colored Lens
  • Crossed Genres Magazine
  • Daily Science Fiction
  • The Dark Magazine
  • Diabolical Plots

(12) PARTS NOT TAKEN. “Leonardo DiCaprio Reflects On Turning Down Anakin Skywalker And Two SuperHero Roles” at ScienceFiction.com:

And it’s a philosophy that has led to him turning down parts in some guaranteed smashes and lots of cha-ching.  He recently revealed that he actually met with George Lucas, but ultimately passed on playing Anakin Skywalker in the ‘Star Wars’ prequels.

“I did have a meeting with George Lucas about that, yes.  I just didn’t feel ready to take that dive. At that point.”

Around this time, DiCaprio instead chose to make ‘Gangs of New York’ and ‘Catch Me If You Can’, the latter of which earned him a Golden Globe nomination.

Still he must be kicking himself.  The role instead went to Hayden Christiansen and look at how his career took… oh, ahem.  Nevermind.

(13) REMEMBERING BAEN. While researching another post, I rediscovered David Drake’s 2006 tribute to the late Jim Baen, who had just recently passed. Shortly before Baen’s death the two were on the phone and Baen asked, “You seem to like me. Why?” The answer is rather touching.

And then I thought further and said that when I was sure my career was tanking–

You thought that? When was that?”

In the mid ’90s, I explained, when Military SF was going down the tubes with the downsizing of the military. But when I was at my lowest point, which was very low, I thought, “I can write two books a year. And Jim will pay me $20K apiece for them–”

“I’d have paid a lot more than that!”

And I explained that this wasn’t about reality: this was me in the irrational depths of real depression. And even when I was most depressed and most irrational, I knew in my heart that Jim Baen would pay me enough to keep me alive, because he was that sort of person. He’d done that for Keith Laumer whom he disliked, because Laumer had been an author Jim looked for when he was starting to read SF.

I could not get so crazy and depressed that I didn’t trust Jim Baen to stand by me if I needed him. I don’t know a better statement than that to sum up what was important about Jim, as a man and as a friend.

(14) PEACE IN OUR TIME. In “The Stormbunnies and Crybullies”, John C. Wright devotes over 2,000 words to making his closing offer irresistible in that special way only he knows how.

But I am a forgiving man, jovial and magnanimous. I make the following peace offer: Go your way. Cease to interfere with me and my livelihood, do your work, cease to libel me and meddle with my affairs, withhold your tongue from venom and your works from wickedness, and we shall all get along famously.

Otherwise, it is against my self interest to seek peace with you. Peace is a two sided affair: both parties must agree. So far only Mr. Martin has even expressed a desire for it.

(15) WHAT KEEPS YOU FROM WRITING? Nandini Balial at Pacific Standard helps writers name their fears — “Gremlins and Satyrs of Rejection: A Taxonomy of Writers’ Foes”

THE SATYRS OF MOUNT OUTLET: Like its cousin Olympus, Mount Outlet stretches far beyond human sight into luxurious billowy clouds. The work its satyrs produce is sharp and daring. Vast networks of bloggers, freelancers, and even reporters churn out viral but self-aware listicles, personal essays that make me cry more than they should, and short stories so good I’m inclined to simply put my pen away. On Twitter, their satyrs (editors) trade barbs and witticisms with the speed of a Gatling gun. A poor peasant like me may approach the foot of the mountain, but my tattered, unworthy scrolls and I will soon turn around and head home.

(16) PUBLISHING STINKS. Kristen Lamb, in “The Ugly Truth of Publishing & How BEST to Support Writers”, says don’t bother reviewing her books on Goodreads, because that’s where the trolls are:

Tweet a picture of our book. Put it on Facebook. People in your network ARE noticing. Peer review and approval is paramount in the digital age. And don’t support your favorite author on Goodreads as a first choice (AMAZON reviews are better). The only people hanging out on Goodreads for the most part are other writers and book trolls.

Support us on your regular Facebook page or Instagram or Twitter. Because when you post a great new book you LOVED your regular friends see that. When they get stranded in an Urgent Care or an airport? What will they remember? THAT BOOK. They won’t be on Goodreads. Trust me.

(17) DISSONANCE. After reading Kristen Lamb’s discouraging words, I encountered M. L. Brennan calling for everyone to get up and dance because Generation V earned out and what that means”. That’s not the next post I’d have expected to see, straight from leaving Lamb’s black-crepe-draped explanation of the publishing industry.

One thing to bear in mind, because it’s easy to lose sight of it when you look at that last paragraph — if I hadn’t received an advance, I wouldn’t have made more money on this book. I would still have earned $7615.78 on the series — except earning that first $7500 would have taken me two years, rather than being entirely in my pocket on the day that Generation V hit the bookstores. And that $7500 paid my mortgage, my electric bill, and other bills, which made it substantially easier for me to write. Without that advance, it would’ve taken me longer to write Iron Night, Tainted Blood, and even Dark Ascension, because I would’ve been having to hustle other work elsewhere and spend less time writing.

(18) NONE DARE CALL IT SF. Whether Joshua Adam Anderson styles himself an sf fan I couldn’t say (though he did take a course from Professor James Gunn), but his LA Review of Books article “Toward a New Fantastic: Stop Calling It Science Fiction” is a deep dive into the abyss of genre. His attempt to define (redefine?) science fiction is precisely what fans love.

LAST JULY, Pakistani science fiction writer Usman Malik published a clarion call for his home country. In it, he made the claim that “[e]ncouraging science fiction, fantasy, and horror readership has the potential to alleviate or fix many of Pakistan’s problems.” While it would be difficult to disagree with the idea that science fiction is a positive force in the world, many of Malik’s reasons for championing the genre are problematic. To begin with, Malik — along with just about everyone else — still, for some reason, calls “science fiction” science fiction. His essay actually contains a handful of reasons why we should stop calling it “science fiction,” and it also inadvertently addresses how and why we need to liberate ourselves from genre itself — and how “science fiction” can help us do just that.

(19) PLANNING BEGINS: Paul Johnson’s early word is that the event to honor his father, the late George Clayton Johnson, might be in February at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood.

P Johnson snip Egyptian

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Will R., Paul Weimer, Brian Z., and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

Pixel Scroll 11/18 Count Hero

(1) John Picacio’s thoughts about “The New World Fantasy Award: What’s Next”.

  1. THE FIRST QUESTION NEEDS TO BE THE RIGHT ONE. In this case, I would offer that the first question should not be, “Hey, World: what do you think this award should look like?” The first question should be, “Who are the best sculptors and who is the sculptor that can best elevate this award toward a new timeless icon? Who can carry this responsibility? Who can take us to a place we could not have imagined on our own?” The same respect that is given to a great novelist should be given to a great sculptor here.

The sculptor of this award needs to be an artist, first and foremost — someone who solves problems, conceives original thoughts, has unique insights, and visually communicates those thoughts, insights, emotions and intangibles into tangible form. If the plan is to take a straw poll of the most popular and familiar symbols and word pictures, or to concoct a preordained vision and then hire some poor sap to carefully sculpt to that prescription, then please hire a pharmacist, not a professional artist. However, the World Fantasy Award can do better than that, and I’m hoping it will. If I were a decision maker in this process, I would be sky-high excited about the amazing creative (and branding) opportunity ahead, and I would be vigorously searching for the right sculptor to cast a new icon, rather than casting a fishing line praying to hook an idea.

(2) Many others continue to discuss what it should look like, including Charles Vess on Facebook (in a public post).

Ari Berk (friend & folklorist) suggested this idea. Going back to the original story that it seems all cultures around the world share: the hand print on the cave wall. “I am here and this is my story”.

vess wfa idea

(3) Frequent commenter Lis Carey is looking for financial help. Her GoFundMe appeal asks for $3,000, of which $400 has been donated so far.

I’m in a major fix. I don’t have an income right now, but I do have some major expenses. The tenant’s apartment has no heat, and a leaky kitchen sink, and needs a plumber. I have outstanding gas,and electric bills, and water bills for both apartments. I’m looking for work and trying to hold things together, but I’m desperate and need some breathing space. Help!

(4) Sarah Avery delves into some reasons for the success of multi-volume fantasy in “The Series Series: Why Do We Do This To Ourselves? I Can Explain!” at Black Gate. It’s a really good article but not easy to excerpt because it is (unsurprisingly!) long. This will give you a taste, anyway:

I love an ensemble cast. Reading, writing, watching, whatever. In my imaginative life as in my personal life, I’m an extrovert. The struggles of a main character connect with me best when that main character is part of a community. The solution to the existential horror Lovecraft’s protagonists face had always seemed so obvious to me that I’d never articulated it fully, even to myself. The cosmos as a whole doesn’t prefer you over its other components? Of course not. Unimaginably vast forces that would crack your mind open if you let yourself understand them are destroying your world, and you are entirely beneath their notice? Well, that would explain a lot. So what do you do?

You take comfort in the people you love, you go down swinging in their defense, and you live your mammalian values of compassion and connection intensely, as long as it does any good — and then longer, to the last breath, if only in reproof of whatever in the universe stands opposed to them.

Or maybe that isn’t obvious. But I’m pretty sure it’s not just me.

For whatever reason, Lovecraft was not a person, or an author, who could go there.

But the man could write a shorter story than I could. I’ll go to school on anyone who knows something I don’t, including authors who stretch me beyond the bounds of easy sympathy. What could the thing that appeared to me to be a malady in Lovecraft teach me about the gap in my craftsmanship?

First, I tried sharpening the distinction between the main character and the secondary characters. Simplifying the supporting cast, making my protagonist the only one who got to be as vivid and three-dimensional as I prefer for every significant character to be, got me out of novella territory. I could get my stories down to about 10,000 words and still feel that my work hit my own sweet spots.

What about getting the count lower? Magazine editors tend to set their cutoffs at 4,000 words or 7,000 words. What kind of cast size can you fit into that length, and what can you do with it?

I really don’t think you can squeeze in much of a supporting cast, unless those secondary characters are functioning more as props than as people. At most, you can have two realized characters, but that second can only be squeezed in if you’ve got serious writing chops. More characters than that, and you’re down to tricks that, as Elizabeth Bear likes to put it, hack the reader’s neurology: one telling detail that leads the reader to do all the work filling in a character around it. Okay, that’s a cool skill, one worth having, especially if you can do it so that the reader forgets s/he did all the work and remembers the story as if you’d written the character s/he filled in for you. I think I’ve pulled that trick off exactly once. Man, that was strenuous, and not in the ways I find exhilarating.

Avery’s subtopics include “Is It Enough to Call a Novel Community-Driven When It Sprawls across Two Continents, Seven Kingdoms, Three Collapsed Empires, a Passel of Free Cities, and Two Migrating Anarchic Proto-Nations?” Her short answer is, “Nope.”

(5) Mary Robinette Kowal seeks to lock in real progress to keep pace with conversation since the World Fantasy Con with the “SF/F Convention Accessibility Pledge”.

Over the last few years, there have been numerous instances of SF/F conventions failing to provide an accessible experience for their members with disabilities. Though accessibility is the right thing to do, and there are legal reasons for providing it in the US thanks to the 25-year-old Americans with Disabilities Act, many conventions continue to have no trained accessibility staff, policies, contact information, or procedures for accommodating their members with disabilities. As Congress said in the opening of the ADA, these “forms of discrimination against individuals with disabilities continue to be a serious and pervasive social problem.”

…We the undersigned are making a pledge. Starting in 2017, to give conventions time to fit this into their planning, the following will be required for us to be participants, panelists, or Guests of Honor at a convention:

  1. The convention has an accessibility statement posted on the website and in the written programs offering specifics about the convention’s disability access.
  2. The convention has at least one trained accessibility staff member with easy to find contact information. (There are numerous local and national organizations that will help with training.)
  3. The convention is willing and able to make accommodations for its members as it tries to be as accessible as possible. (We recommend that the convention uses the Accessibility Checklist for SFWA Spaces as a beginning guideline. Other resources include Fans for Accessible Cons, A Guide for Accessible Conferences, and the ADA rules for places of public accommodation, which apply to US conventions.)

Many people have co-signed.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden also observed, “…When you put in the work on these issues, you find out how many people out there have been staying home.”

(6) Michael Kurland’s autobiographical essay “My Life as a Pejorative” is featured on Shots Crime & Thriller Ezine.

At fourteen I discovered mystery stories and couldn’t decide whether I was Rex Stout, Dorothy Sayers or Dashiel Hammett. Or maybe Simon Templar. Not Leslie Charteris, but Simon Templar. How debonaire, how quick-witted, how good looking.

I was 21 when I got out of the Army, enrolled at Columbia University and began hanging out in Greenwich Village. There I fell into bad company: Randall Garrett, Phil Klass (William Tenn), Don Westlake, Harlan Ellison, Bob Silverberg, and assorted other sf and mystery writers. This was my downfall, the start of my slide into genre fiction. I wrote a science fiction novel, Ten Years to Doomsday, with Chester Anderson, a brilliant poet and prose stylist who taught me much of what I know about writing, and followed that up with The Unicorn Girl, a sequel to Chester’s The Butterfly Kid, a pair of fantasy novels in which the two main characters were ourselves, Chester Anderson and Michael Kurland. These books, and The Probability Pad, a continuation written by my buddy Tom Waters, have become cult classics, known collectively as the Greenwich Village Trilogy, or sometimes The Buttercorn Pad.

(7) Today In History

  • November 18, 1963 – Push-button telephones made their debut.

(8) Today’s Birthday Boys and Girls

  • Born November 18, 1928: Mickey Mouse
  • Born November 18, 1939: Margaret Atwood
  • Born November 18, 1962: Sarah A. Hoyt

(9) John Scalzi makes “An Announcement Regarding Award Consideration for 2015 Work of Mine”. He asks people not to nominate him, and in comments indicates he will decline nominations that come his way.

But this year, when it comes to awards, I want to take a break and celebrate the excellent work that other people are doing, and who deserve attention for that work. My year’s already been, well, pretty good, hasn’t it. I’ve had more than enough good fortune from 2015 and I don’t feel like I need right now to ask for another helping…

But for work that was put out in 2015, please look past me. Find the other writers whose work deserves the spotlight you can put on them with your attention, nomination and vote. Find the works that move your heart and your mind. Find the writers whose work you love and who you feel a nomination can help in their careers and their lives. Look past your usual suspects — including me! — and find someone new to you whose stories and effort you can champion to others. Put those people and works on your ballots. 2015 has been genuinely great year for science fiction and fantasy; it won’t be difficult to find deserving work and people for your consideration.

(10) Bigger than your average bomb shelter. “Czech out the Oppidum, the ultimate apocalypse hideaway” at Treehugger.

We do go on about the importance of resilient design, the ability of our buildings to survive in changing times and climates. We are big on repurposing, finding new uses for old buildings. And if the greenest brick is the one already in the wall, then surely the greenest bomb shelter is the one that’s already in the ground. That’s why the Oppidum is such an exciting opportunity; it’s a conversion of a classified secret facility built in 1984 by what were then the governments of Czechoslovakia and The Soviet Union. Now, it is available for use as the ultimate getaway, deep in a valley in the Czech Republic. The developer notes that they don’t make’em like they used to:…

It has a lovely above-grade modestly sized 30,000 square foot residence, which is connected via secret corridor to the two-storey, 77,000 square foot bunker below, which has been stylishly subdivided into one large apartment and six smaller ones for friends, family and staff, all stocked with ten years of supplies.

(11) Former child actor Charles Herbert died October 31 at the age of 66. The New York Times obit lists his well-known roles in movies like The Fly and 13 Ghosts.

Mr. Herbert was supporting his parents by the time he was 5. He appeared in more than 20 films and 50 television episodes, in which he fended off all kinds of adversaries, from a robot to a human fly.

He shared the limelight with Cary Grant, Sophia Loren and James Cagney. He played a blind boy in a memorable episode of “Science Fiction Theater” in 1956, and appeared in a 1962 “Twilight Zone” episode in which a widowed father takes his children to choose an android grandmother.

(12) SF Signal’s latest Mind Meld, curated by Rob H. Bedford, asks Andrew Leon Hudson, Stephenie Sheung (The BiblioSanctum), Richard Shealy, Michael R. Fletcher, Mark Yon, and Erin Lindsey

Q: Who is your favorite animal companion (pet, familiar, etc) in SFF?

A significant number of genre stories features character’s pets or animal companions. From Loiosh of Steven Brust’s Vlad Taltos books to Snuff from Roger Zelazny’s A Night in the Lonesome October to Hedwig from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, animals can be companions, pets, or near equals to their “owners.” Who is/are your favorite(s)?

(13) Bruce Gillespie invites fans to download SF Commentary 90, November 2015 — over 100 contributors and 70,000 words.

(14) A Christopher Reeve-worn Superman costume is available for bid until November 19 at 5 p.m. Pacific in a Nate D. Sanders auction.

Superman lot COMP

(15) Heritage Auctions reports a menu from the Titanic fetched a high price in a recently closed auction.

Ironically, the top two lots related to a major disaster and a national tragedy. The first was a first class dinner menu from the last supper on the R.M.S. Titanic, the evening of April 14, 1912. Five salesmen and retailers shared a meal, each signing a menu with their place of residence. Of the five, all but one managed to survive the sinking which occurred in the wee morning hours. We believe this to be the only signed example and the only one from the “last supper”. It sold for $118,750.

The second lot was the license plates from the limo President Kennedy was in when he was shot — which went for $100,000.

(16) And this weekend, Heritage Auctions will take bids on Neal Adams’ original cover art for Green Lantern #76, “one of the most important and influential comic books ever published,” as part of the company’s Nov. 19-21 Comics & Comic Art Signature® Auction where it is expected to bring $300,000+.

Adams’ iconic cover is striking and symbolic. This issue broke more than just the lantern on the cover! Adding Arrow’s name to the title and logo of the book was genius. It created the first “buddy book” in the comic industry… the equivalent to the “buddy movie” genre. It also allowed writer Denny O’Neil to launch into a 13 issue run that dove into political and sociological themes like no comic had before.

 

Green lanter green arrow

(17) Lovecraft’s mug has already been saved from awards obscurity (or permanently guaranteed it, depending on your view) by the administrators of the Counter Currents and the administrators of its H. P. Lovecraft Prize for Literature. (Which can also be reached using this handy Donotlink link.)

Last year, we at Counter-Currents saw this coming. Thus we have created the Counter-Currents H. P. Lovecraft Prize for Literature, to be awarded to literary artists of the highest caliber who transgress the boundaries of political correctness. Our first laureate is novelist Tito Perdue, who received the award at a banquet in Atlanta on March 7, 2015.

The prize bust is by world-famous porcelain artist Charles Krafft, whose own defiance of political correctness has just led to the cancellation of an exhibition in London.

Wikipedia has an entry on Tito Perdue.

More details about Krafft’s exhibit being pulled by a Whitechapel art gallery from Jewish News:

A fashionable Whitechapel art gallery has pulled the plug on an exhibition by an artist who has been described as a “Holocaust denier” and a “white supremacist,” after complaints and threats were made.

Charles Krafft, who denies both charges, was due to show his work at StolenSpace for the second time, but gallery bosses said they pulled out after receiving “both physical and verbal threats”.

Krafft’s controversial ceramics include busts of Hitler, swastika perfume bottles with the word “forgiveness” emblazoned upon them and plates covered in drawings of Nazi bombings. His work and attributed comments has led to him being labelled a white supremacist, a Nazi sympathiser and a Holocaust denier.

(18) Triple-threat interview with Ken Liu, Lauren Beukes and Tobias S. Buckell at SFFWorld.

Ecotones are the points of transition that occur when two different environments come into contact, and almost inevitably conflict. Can you describe for us an ecotone that has had personal significance for you?

Ken Liu: We’re at a point in our technological evolution where the role played by machines in our cognition is about to change qualitatively. Rather than just acting as “bicycles for the mind,” computers, transformed by ubiquitous networking and presence, will replace important cognitive functions for us at an ever accelerating pace. Much of our memory has already been outsourced to our phones and other devices—and I already see indications that machines will be doing more of our thinking for us. Not since the invention of writing has technology promised to change how we learn and think to such an extent.

The transition between the environment we used to live in and the environment we’re about to live in is going to be exciting as well as threatening, and we’re witnessing one of the greatest transformations in human history.

Tobias Buckell: Last year a deer walked on down through Main Street and then jumped through the window of the local downtown bar. They got it on security camera.

Lauren Beukes: The shared reality of overlapping worlds I live through every day – the schism in experience between rich and poor where everything works differently, from criminal justice to the food you eat, how you get to work, schooling, the day-to-day you have to navigate.

I saw this most clearly and devastatingly when I tried to help my cleaning lady get justice for the scumbag who fatally assaulted her daughter. The cops didn’t care. The hospital put it down as “natural causes”. The prosecutor had to throw the case out because there was so little evidence. This compared to an incident when a friend’s motorbike was stolen at night in the nice suburbs and five cops ended up on his balcony drinking tea, having recovered the vehicle.

(19) Sarah Chorn at Bookworm Blues wonders if her conflict of interest should bar her from reviewing two books.

I feel pretty weird about doing this, but I also think it has to be done. This year I was a beta reader for two books that are currently published (a few more that have upcoming publication dates). I have struggled a little bit with how to approach these novels. While I feel obligated to review them (and I want to review them), I feel like being a beta reader for them takes my objectivity out of it, which is a problem for me. Is it really a review if I can’t objectively judge it?

Am I pondering my navel?

I’m surprised her desire to ask the question didn’t lead to a built-in answer.

(20) The Ant-Man Gag Reel has a few bloopers, though it’s not all that funny.

(21) Marvel’s Agent Carter Season 2 premieres January 5 on ABC.

[Thanks to Kate Savage, Will R., Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

Pixel Scroll 11/5 The Scrolls of His Face, The Pixels of His Mouth

Leia SW poster

(1) Star Wars: The Force Awakens character posters are out.

(2) The WTF Bad Science Fiction Covers took a detour to Canadian sci-fi and comics.

Batman and Robin fail to prevent yet another Mountie murder due to their fondness for midnight, off-piste jaunts.

(3) Speaking of the Dynamic Duo, Batmobile designer George Barris passed away this morning at the age of 89.

In the ’60s TV show “Batman,” the Batmobile was powered by atomic batteries, equipped with a radar scope and “bat beam,” and slowed by parachutes. The latter really worked — Barris was once pulled over on the Hollywood Freeway for using them.

For many years, Barris’ handiwork was all over the television screen. He created the Munsters Koach — a combination of three Ford Model T’s — for “The Munsters”; the surfboard-topped, flower-decaled Barris Boogaloo for “The Bugaloos”; and the convertible version of KITT from “Knight Rider,” among many.

(4) Kalimac researches a Worldcon tradition.

The San Jose Worldcon bid wants to crowdsource suggestions for Guests of Honor. It says that among “the traditional criteria for Worldcon Guest of Honor consideration” is “an established career, usually considered to be 30 years from entry into the field.”

And I wondered, how long has it been 30 years? In the early days, the SF field hadn’t been around very long, and because it was small, new names could easily make a big impact. I remembered that Robert Heinlein was GoH at the third Worldcon in 1941, only two years after he sold his first story. That would be highly unlikely to happen today, even for another Heinlein.

So I made a list of all the professional fiction writers who’ve been Worldcon GoH over the years. Just the authors, because the SF Encyclopedia is conscientious about listing first published stories, but it’s not so rigorous with the entry dates of artists or other categories of pros. Making a quick chart, I found that less than 30 years was the rule up until about 1970, and, that among authors, only Hugo Gernsback (1952, 41 years since his first published SF story, but he was really honored as an editor, and it was only 26 years since he’d founded Amazing), Murray Leinster (1963, 44 years), and Edmond Hamilton (1964, 38 years) exceeded it, though a few others came close.

Since 1970, under-30s have been less common, though for many years they still occurred frequently (Zelazny, 1974, 12 years; Le Guin, 1975, 13 years; Ellison, 1978, 22 years; Haldeman, 1990, 21 years; and some others). But since 2001, there have only been two authors with less than 25 years: Bujold in 2008 (23 years), and 2017’s Nalo Hopkinson (who will be 21 years at that point).

(4) Amy Sterling Casil’s engaging and substantial new post for Medium has a satirical title, but here’s what it’s really about —

This article is about 3 fantastic women artists whose work was sold or misidentified as painted by a man. This is only connected to Tim Burton in the sense his film Big Eyes about Margaret Keane (Medium readers may know the film as featuring Bond villain Christoph Waltz) introduced me to the concept that rather than my personal problem, I might just be one of the more recent members of a long line of women whose creative work had been literally misappropriated by men. As in “sold for profit under male names” like Frank Keane did to “Big Eyes” artist Margaret Keane until she fought back in court and won.

(5) Like anyone, Joe Vasicek sometimes bounces off books, and not necessarily the ones you’d predict (Brandon Sanderson!).

He discussed several examples in a post on One Thousand and One Parsecs“Books I haven’t been able to finish”.

The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman

On this I have to plead guilty of letting my own personal sentiments get in the way of enjoying the story. I read The Golden Compass and LOVED it… right up to the last five pages. I HATED the ending of that book—SO dissatisfying, as if the author had stuck out his tongue at me and said “neener neener neener! I’m not going to give you the ending you want—better read the next book!”

UGH. I hate that.

So I came at this book a little prejudiced. I read the first page with a judgmental eye, thinking “nope, no hook on the first page. Oh, and there’s an unnecessary adverb, and there’s a said bookism, and there’s a…” etc.

Still, I didn’t let that stop me from reading on, and after the first chapter, I was interested in the story. I just wasn’t… I don’t know, interested enough. The book stayed in my car, I got busy with other things, and eventually just dropped it.

(6) More people don’t bounce off Philip Pullman, whose epic fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials is going to be produced as a drama series for BBC One.

To be made in Wales, the series, which will be told across “many episodes and series” has been commissioned by Charlotte Moore, controller BBC One and Polly Hill, controller BBC Drama Commissioning, and will be produced by Bad Wolf and New Line Cinema.

Hill said: “It is an honour to be bringing Philip Pullman’s extraordinary novels to BBC One. His Dark Materials is a stunning trilogy, and a drama event for young and old – a real family treat, that shows our commitment to original and ambitious storytelling.”

His Dark Materials consists of the Northern Lights, first published in 1995, which introduces Lyra, an orphan, who lives in a parallel universe in which science, theology and magic are entwined. Lyra’s search for a kidnapped friend uncovers a sinister plot involving stolen children and turns into a quest to understand a mysterious phenomenon called Dust. In  second novel, The Subtle Knife, she is joined on her journey by Will, a boy who possesses a knife that can cut windows between worlds. As Lyra learns the truth about her parents and her prophesied destiny, the two young people are caught up in a war against celestial powers that ranges across many worlds and leads to a thrilling conclusion in the third novel, The Amber Spyglass.

(7) Mark Lawrence answers the question “Do author blogs matter? One million hits”

Very soon this blog of mine will pass 1,000,000 hits – it has 994,396 at the time of posting and averages around 1,400 hits a day.

I blog when I feel like it and generally don’t feel under pressure to come up with something to ‘fill the space’.

The high traffic author blogs tend to be political, championing the causes beloved of the more extreme left or right. I don’t go there. I’m more about curiosities of the genre, the business of writing, info graphics, and random shit.

I do get a lot of authors asking me whether blogging is ‘worth it’. Mostly they’re people who don’t want to blog, find it a chore to come up with regular posts, but worry that they’re somehow letting themselves down if they don’t – missing out on book sales that would otherwise be theirs.

So, is blogging ‘worth it’?

I tend to tell the authors who ask me this question that they can probably relax. If they enjoy blogging, go for it. It might help a little. But if they don’t enjoy it, just don’t. My feeling is that the difference between bestseller and getting pulped isn’t ever going to swing on whether you blogged.

(8) Kate Paulk ostentatiously pays no attention to Ancillary Felapton’s “An open letter to Kate Paulk” in “That Moment When” at Mad Genius Club.

Seriously, folks, when the best you can manage in so-called critique is to claim that something I wrote was poorly written (without evidence of my alleged poor writing – which means it’s probably a case of either “oooh, my feelz” or “I don’t get it, it must be horrible”) and then go on to repeat every single tactic I dissected with hardly any variations, you’re doing it wrong. You’re also kind of amusing, in a train-wreck kind of way.

I’m not going to bother dissecting this rather shallow bit of hurt feelings – I’d spend more time on it than it deserves and hand the so-called author more page views and it really isn’t worth that (yes, it. Since this particular author is using a handle that’s not obviously male or female, and is clearly so far in the non-binary-gender camp it’s through the other side or something, I can’t default to “he” or “she”. I’m writing in English, which leaves “it” as the sole option for the non-binary-gender sort.)

(9) Brad R. Torgersen wonders, could this be “The Year Without Politics?”

My Facebook friends have also noticed that I am dialed up extra-cranky about the cultural Chekist infestation that’s plaguing social media right now. I was prepared to launch into a lengthy tirade about the whole schizophrenic mess, but (irony of ironies) Bill Maher did it for me!

Now, nobody can accuse me of fondness for Maher; he’s far too much of a raging anti-theist. But I think he nailed it right between the eyes with his Halloween 2015 commentary. It really says something when a chap like Maher is going off on the Politically Correct. His point at the end is especially apt. It’s something I’ve been saying for awhile now: the cheap “virtue” of internet slacktivism, is no virtue at all. It’s just self-righteous no-effort self-huggies for people who don’t want to break a sweat, nor get their hands dirty. You want to make the world better? Get off the damned internet and go do something that takes work. Otherwise, you’re not helping anyone, or anything.

Which takes me to Sad Puppies — or, rather, the people who fought against Sad Puppies with every fiber of their being. Because when the Hugo awards went off-script, it was literally a catastrophe so terrible and great that the Puppy-kickers pulled out all the stops to challenge Lord Vox in the Ritual of Desecration.

(10) Kermit is in trouble with more than just Miss Piggy –  “’The Muppets’ Showrunner Exits ABC Series”.

Bob Kushell is exiting ABC’s “The Muppets” as showrunner, TheWrap has learned.

Kushell’s exit comes amid reports that the executive producer clashed with co-creator Bill Prady on the creative direction of the series. No official replacement showrunner has yet been named.

The news comes after the network gave the freshman comedy an additional three episode order last week, bringing the total number of episodes for the first season to 16. The show’s most recent outing scored a 1.4 rating among adults 18-49 and an average of 4.5 million viewers during its half-hour run.

(11) This Week In History

(12) In NASA news, “Researchers Catch Comet Lovejoy Giving Away Alcohol”.

Comet Lovejoy lived up to its name by releasing large amounts of alcohol as well as a type of sugar into space, according to new observations by an international team. The discovery marks the first time ethyl alcohol, the same type in alcoholic beverages, has been observed in a comet. The finding adds to the evidence that comets could have been a source of the complex organic molecules necessary for the emergence of life.

Poul Anderson would have enjoyed this discovery – and perhaps used it as an excuse for a sequel to his short story “A Bicycle Built For Brew”.

(13) Alastair Reynolds reviews ”Asimov’s April/May 2015 double issue” on Approaching Pavonis Mons by balloon.

Unfortunately – for me, anyway – the lead story in this issue, “The New Mother” by Eugene Fischer, was one of those pieces I couldn’t finish. I did try. It’s an extremely lengthy account of the emergence of a strange new sexually transmitted pandemic that gives rise to diploid eggs, allowing for “virgin” births. It’s competently told – there’s nothing clumsy about it on a line by line or even page by page level – but the net result is, to my eyes, dull, diagrammatic storytelling, propped up by lengthy infodumps in the form of article excerpts. If you’ve ever wondered how the American medical system would respond to the kind of pandemic outlined in the story, it’s probably accurate enough in its imagined details, but despite two goes I couldn’t get more than a few dozen pages into it. I wasn’t engaged by the journalist protagonist, her situation, her travels, the dull-but-credible dialogue. The stuff I want from short science fiction – colour, pace, weirdness, estrangement, invention, language, mood … it’s all absent here. Sorry.

(14) Lis Carey’s review of “The New Mother” was rather more enthusiastic, though she also identifies a serious flaw (not quoted here).

I was totally caught up in it. This is in many ways a very American story, with the issues surrounding HCP  very tied up with American culture wars issues. That’s not a weakness, but it is a reason this story may be less accessible to non-Americans.

(15) Today In History

  • November 5, 1605 – Guy Fawkes is caught guarding a cache of explosives beneath the House of Lords, foiling the Gunpowder Plot. The date is set aside by Parliament for thanksgiving. Guy Fawkes Day comes to be celebrated with bonfires and fireworks. (The photo comes from an old issue of Tops.)

Tops 2

(16) Tammy Oler’s review of Ancillary Mercy at Slate, “Oh, the humanity”. SPOILER WARNING.

Central to Leckie’s trilogy is how important it is to feel a sense of control over one’s identity and how being recognized is a precondition for having power. These themes are not exclusive to one particular time or place, of course, but Leckie taps acutely into the feelings (and fears) that drive current American politics and movements for change. One of the chief pleasures of the trilogy is just how many wrongs Breq tries to make right and how committed she is to making incremental progress even when problems become fraught and complicated. Breq’s actions are underscored by her profound grief, anger, and shame that give way, even if just a little bit, to the solace and hope she finds in her crew and her makeshift family of A.I.s. The end of Ancillary Mercy is satisfying because it is so very un-Radchaai: diverse, messy, and honest. “In the end,” Breq realizes, “it’s only ever been one step, and then the next.”

(17) Famous Monsters’ Caroline Stephenson reviews Tamashii Nations’ samurai-inspired Ashigaru Stormtrooper.

(18) Today’s Scroll closes with this 30 for 30-style documentary remembering the magical season chronicled by Angels in the Outfield….

No one will ever forget the incredible run the 1994 California Angels made on the back of Mel Clark. It was a team in disarray, managed by former cop Roger Murtagh, beloved by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and starring Rust Cohle in centerfield. Despite the early season disaster, somehow, the team turned things around and went on to win the pennant.

ESPN’s 30 for 30 didn’t remember this improbable run in baseball history, probably because it’s from a movie, but College Humor did. The result is a five-minute mockumentary of pure perfection.

 

[Thanks to Michael J. Walsh, Will R., Hampus Eckerman, Susan de Guardiola, John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day ULTRAGOTHA.]

To Your Scattered Kennels Go 7/6

aka Last and First Puppies

The Ultimate Roundup brings you Benjamin Domenech and Robert Tracinski, Samuel John Klein, T.P. Kroger, Vox Day, Doctor Science, Aidan Moher, Brandon Kempner, Martin Wisse, Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag, David Steffen, Lis Carey and Cryptic Others. (Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editors of the day Bruce Baugh and Milt Stevens.)

 

Benjamin Domenech and Robert Tracinski on The Federalist

“Welcome To Culture War 4.0: The Coming Overreach” – July 6

Culture War 4.0

Today we live in the early stages of that triumph, and as a small number of public intellectuals and media commentators predicted, it is a bloody triumph indeed. Culture War 4.0 brings the Counterculture full circle: now they have become the blue-nosed, Puritanical establishment. Once they began to achieve their goals and saw the culture moving their way, they moved from making a plea for tolerance and freedom to demanding persecution of anyone who dissents against the new orthodoxy in even the smallest way.

Whichever side believes it is winning will tend to overreach, pushing too far, too fast, and alienating the public.

In just the past two years, the Counterculture’s neo-Puritanical reign has made things political that were never thought to be: Shirtstorms and Gamergate, Chik-fil-A and Brandon Eich, Indiana and Sad Puppies, and don’t you dare say Caitlyn Jenner isn’t a hero.

History teaches us two clear lessons about the ebb and flow of the Culture War: first, that whichever side believes it is winning will tend to overreach, pushing too far, too fast, and in the process alienating the public. The second is that the American people tend to oppose whoever they see as the aggressor in the Culture Wars—whoever they see as trying to intrusively impose their values on other people and bullying everyone who disagrees.

 

Samuel John Klein on The ZehnKatzen Times

“The Sad Puppies May Have A Point” – July 6

One of the most juvenile, at least to me, of the Sad Puppies’ plaints about the trend of modern SF (you can fill in speculative fiction or science fiction, as is your wont) is elaborated by this point made by one of the leading opiners of the movement, Brad Torgerson: ….

And then it occurred to me that one of the cornerstones of this insurgency is apparently the right to judge a book by its cover. This is something that I was told never to do, that it was the sign of shallowness and unwarranted prejudice.

But then, I thought, what if there was a point to made here? Maybe I just work too hard at wanting an experience here. I mean, if I, as a consumer, should want to be guided with pretty shiny images, then who am I to complain? They do me a service, after all, in truth-in-labeling (as a liberal, I’m supposed to like that).

So, truth-in-labeling. Okay. We’ll go with that. I hold in my hand a Berkeley 1981 re-release of one of my favorite novels, written by an acknowledged master of the form, one who went on to create iconic works of SF that inform the genre to this day. But, book-by-its-cover now … okay, I see an organically-formed, liquid, almost-melting edifice on a horizon under a hot yellow sky, and that edifice appears to be a building … after all, there’s something that looks like a tiny figure standing in one of the openings (is it a window). On the whole, it looks like something Frank Gehry came up with in a fever dream.

In the sky, an eye orbits. Setting or rising, I can’t tell, but there it is. to the right of the building, a small thing resembling a misconceived volcano seems to launching a weather balloon, or maybe Rover from The Prisoner. It’s all on a purple plain resembling fused glass, with two rocks resembling rocketships in the foreground, and in the extreme foreground it appears that some poor soul has died, being embedded in the fused glass of the plain.

Needless to say, I expected a tripping-balls adventure about a science-fictional acid trip, but what did I actually get? Some lame story about an alternate past where the Japanese and Germans won WWII and divided up America between them.

Oh, by the way, here’s the book:

HighCastleCover

And, to fit the Sad Puppy profile of undeserving novels, it won the Hugo.

In 1962.

Clearly, this conspiracy has gone on way longer than any of us imaginers could have possibly imagined.

Wake up, sheeple!

 

 

 

Vox Day wrote in an e-mail – July 5

One of your commenters said this:

“Like the persecution they are always whining about, it doesn’t exist.  Claiming it does only makes them look foolish.”

You could read the FIVE Guardian pieces libeling me. Or the Entertainment Weekly piece, the Boston Globe piece, the NPR report, or the Popular Science piece. Note that none of them ever interviewed me, even though the Guardian guidelines require a subject to be interviewed if they are identified by name.

Note that three of the individuals on the SFWA Board were actually guilty of the charge that I was falsely accused of. I did NOT attack an SFWA member in an official SFWA forum, in fact, I didn’t even LINK to an attack on an SFWA member in an official SFWA forum. (@sfwaauthors is not the official SFWA Twitter feed, and the feed belongs to Twitter anyhow, not SFWA.) Stephen Gould, among 70 other SFWA members, did.

This is why no one on our side gives even the smallest damn about anything the other side says. We know they are all absolutely and utterly full of shit. And we also know that even when we prove something beyond any shadow of a doubt, they will not change their mind in the slightest, but will promptly move the goalposts.

We will never, ever talk to them. There is no point.

 

 

bloggingandcapturing

“Nerd Entitlement or: How to stop hating and accept diversity” – July 6

This phenomenon isn’t limited to gaming. Hell the term GamerGate was first coined by the actor Adam Baldwin, a man whose Twitter feed is a smorgasbord of right-wing rambling that would fit right in at a Rick Santorum dinner party. Then there’s this years Hugo Awards, which has managed to be hijacked by a group right-wing authors and their supporters calling themselves ‘The Sad Puppies’, even managing to raise the ire of George R.R. Martin. Whilst they’ve been around for a couple of years with very little effect, their sudden rise in influence has coincided with the emergence of GamerGate. And then there’s the YouTube channels that have jumped on the crazy train. I remember watching Thunderf00t videos to do with astronomy years ago. Imagine my surprise when swathes of his channel is now dedicated to bashing feminists.

It’s become a lightning rod for those who had their niche, a thing that they could call their own. Now that it’s become more inclusive they’re rallying against feminists, “Social Justice Warriors” and those who think that maybe, just maybe, having more equality is a good thing. Because everything in geek culture in the past was aimed at a smaller market to which they belonged, their sense of entitlement is so that they feel that should continue.

Do I think that the likes of Adam Baldwin gives a toss about video games, aside from being paid to occasionally be in them? No. But it helps to further their agenda and people who see themselves as victims get swept up in it.

Is there a solution to this? Can those of us who, through our fandom, hobbies and interests are inextricably linked to these people, do or say anything to turn people away from such hate? I would like to think yes. We need to support those game developers, film makers and creative types who are helping to diversify geek culture. It’s important to not be afraid to provide constructive criticism when they drop the ball from time to time.

It’s my hope that, given time, opportunists like Baldwin, the misogynists GameGate, the Sad Puppies and countless YouTubers will become increasingly marginalised. With the widespread critical acclaim of the likes of Mad Max: Fury Road and Her Story and the increasing condemnation of shows like Game of Thrones for its treatment of women, I’d like to think that perception is starting to change. Sadly, I feel that for the time being those that shout the loudest will continue to impinge on geek culture.

 

Doctor Science on Obsidian Wings

“Hugo voting: how, why, for what” – July 6

This is a guide intended for fans from the transformative works/Tumblr ends of fandom who are voting for the Hugo Awards for the first time.

There are two basic principles for Hugo voting:

  1. You do not have to vote in every category
  2. When you *do* vote in a category, you have to at least look at all the legitimate nominees. You don’t have to finish them, but you’re honor-bound to at least try…..

 

Aidan Moher on A Dribble of Ink

Aidan Moher: Well, I wear my Hugo Award on a platinum chain around my neck — Flavor Flav-style — so, that tells you all you need to know about my perspective on awards. If you got ‘em, flaunt ‘em. Life’s too short for humility.

 

Brandon Kempner on Chaos Horizon

“Inside the Locus Results” – July 6

My copy of Locus Magazine arrived today, and with it some interesting insights on how the Hugo nominees did in those awards. While not a perfect match to the Hugos, the Locus are the closest thing going: a popular vote by SFF “insiders” to determine the best novel of the year…..

You’ll notice that the Top 2 from the SF and the Top 1 from F make up 3/5 of the Hugo Best Novel ballot. Neither the Jim Butcher nor the Kevin J. Anderson made the Top 28 SF novels or the Top 21 fantasy novels. If you were going by Locus vote counts alone, VanderMeer and Gibson would have been next in line for nominations. Since Hugo voters have ignored Gibson since 1994 (seriously, no nominations since 1994), the 5th spot would have been a toss up between Scalzi and Bennett. Given Scalzi’s past Hugo performance, you might lean in that direction, although we’ll find out when the full nomination stats are released.

 

Martin Wisse on Wis[s]e Words

“Best Novel Hugo vote 2015” – July 6

I don’t have to tell you I won’t be voting for any Puppy candidates, right, so the question becomes which of the three non-Puppy candidates will get my vote. Even diminished, this is a great shortlist:

The Goblin Emperor — Katherine Addison.

The Goblin Emperor at heart is a very traditional power fantasy, about the boy of humble origins who becomes emperor by happenstance and now has to very quickly learn how to survive in a world of political intrigue he’s completely unprepared for, filled with people who either want to manipulate him or replace him with a better figurehead. It’s one of those fantasy scenarios other writers can write multiple trilogies about to get to that point, but Katherine Addison has her goblin hero confirmed as the emperor within five pages, the rest of the novel being about him getting to grips with his new job, woefully inadequate though he feels.

 

Martin Wisse on Wis[s]e Words

“The Three-Body Problem — Cixin Liu” – July 6

If it hadn’t been for Marko Kloos doing the honourable thing and withdrawing his nomination, The Three-Body Problem wouldn’t be on the ballot for this year’s Best Novel Hugo. And that would’ve been a shame, since The Three-Body Problem is the first translated novel to make the shortlist. The start of a trilogy, it originally came out in China in serialisation in 2006, with the novel version coming out in 2008. The English translation was done by Ken Liu, who has won a Hugo Award himself. The sequels will come out this year and next.

 

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

“Hugo Reading – Related Work” – July 6

[Comments on all five nominees]

This entire category seems like a race to the bottom. “Wisdom” is clearly meant as an insult to anyone who actually cares about the Hugos, and none of the rest are award-worthy, though some are ok or even almost good. I feel like the time I spent reading this category was completely wasted. The only thing to do with this one is vote “No Award” and leave everything off the ballot.

 

David Steffen on Diabolical Plots

“Hugo Short Story Review: ‘A Single Samurai’ by Steven Diamond” – July 6

“A Single Samurai” by Steven Diamond was first published in The Baen Big Book of Monsters published by Baen Books.

In this story a mountain-sized kaiju has arisen in Japan, rising from beneath the land itself where the landscape had built up around it.  The monster is moving across the countryside, crushing everything in its path.  A samurai has survived its uprising where so many others haven’t by riding the kaiju as it rose up and climbing up its back even as the soil and trees and rocks shift off the kaiju as it walks.  To save Japan he has to finish his climb and find some way to kill the monster.

 

Familiar Diversions

“Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie” – July 6

Ancillary Justice has been on my TBR for a while, because books with prominent AI characters that aren’t evil are my catnip. Then the whole thing with the Sad Puppies and the Hugo Awards blew up. Ancillary Justice was one of two works that kept coming up again and again as one of the works most hated by the Sad Puppies, so I suppose I should thank them for reminding me I hadn’t read it yet…..

 

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“Edge of Tomorrow, screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth, and John-Henry Butterworth, directed by Doug Liman (Village Roadshow, RatPac-Dune Entertainment, 3 Arts Entertainment; Viz Productions)” – July 6

Groundhog Day meets every high-tech war movie you’ve seen. And, really, too violent for my tastes; I don’t do war movies. My nerves don’t handle the sound and images well. But this, honestly, is very good.

Roverfield 7/5

aka Muttropolis.

Soviet-Space-Dogs-cover

Last roundup tomorrow, July 6.

Banner art changes tomorrow.

What the future holds for File 770 arrives tomorrow!

Meanwhile, roundup content today is provided by Lou Antonelli, Joseph Tomaras, Jonathan Crowe, Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag, Mark Ciocco, Lis Carey, Len Schiff, and Bonnie McDaniel. (Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editors of the day Will Reichard and Brad J. Book cover lifted from Will Reichard’s “Wishlist: Soviet Space Dogs”.)

Lou Antonelli on This Way to Texas

“Genrecide” – July 5

The dispute that arose when the Sad Puppy selections did so well in the Hugo nominations has probably created a permanent split of science fiction fans – not one created by the literature, but for social reasons.

Both sides have said such horrible things about each other that I doubt the rift will ever be healed. I wouldn’t be surprised if some semantic distinction arises later – such as the Sad Puppies’ type of fiction being called spec fic as opposed to science fiction.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden and her blog Making Light started the civil war when she realized her chums – the usual suspects – were not getting their Hugo nomination notice emails as usual. She blew up and started the vituperation a week before the actual announcement was made – proving the point, as Larry Corriea was pointed out, that there is an insider clique after all.

Mike Glyer, who’s been running his fan site File 770 since dirt was invented, unfortunately has kept the wildfires burning by collecting up Puppy posts and republishing them on his site. The comments threads there have become the clearing house for all Puppy Kicker resentment.

I don’t believe either side of completely right or completely wrong, but it really doesn’t matter anymore, because regardless of how or who started it, and how it ends, thanks to the internet too much has been said attacking too many people by so many people that there will probably be a long-term drop in readership and popular support.

Perhaps in the future people will say they read magic realism, or space opera, or dystopia, or alternate history – but as a result of the Puppy Wars, no one will actually want to admit they read “science fiction” because of all the negative connotations in the wake of the current unpleasantness.

 

Joseph Tomaras on A Skinseller’s Workshop

“I Lied: A Few More Words about the Hugos” – July 5

….As more people post their ballots and/or their critical response to the items on the ballot, I have been surprised at how critical judgment on Kary English’s “Totaled” has lined up. People who fault contemporary SF for leaving too little room for ambiguity have criticized it for unclear, unreliable narration in the early sections. (To which I respond: As if a recently revived brain-in-a-jar would be a reliable narrator.) People who have a habit of calling for “good stories” in the whiz-bang mode of military SF have praised the story for its emotional trajectory. It has scrambled the factional lines, and that, I think, suggests a few points in its favor. There is room for dispute over it, and is worth being revisited and debated on aesthetic grounds.

What I think is indisputable, unfortunately, is how thoroughly English herself stumbled over the politics of this year’s hyper-politicized Hugo. She went months after the announcement of the ballots before disavowing both the Sad and Rabid Puppies slates on which she had been placed: Long enough that most of the anti-canine wings of the Hugo electorate had already dismissed her as a fellow traveler, but not long enough to avoid the wrath of the Rabid Majordomo himself. I take this as an object lesson in how the center-right, quasi-depoliticized “common sense” that passes as “moderation” in the U.S. context can succeed, in a global context, only in pissing people off, whether in small matters (e.g. the Hugos) or in big ones (e.g. Guantánamo, drone bombings).

 

Jonathan Crowe

“Best Saga Proposal Revised” – July 5

So the proposal for a Best Saga Hugo Award (see previous entry) has since been revised: they’ve abandoned getting rid of Best Novelette, which was needlessly zero-sum, and have lowered the minimum word count. The proposal now says 300,000 words; the draft posted to File 770 at more or less the same time says 240,000. A series cannot win more than once, but it can certainly be nominated multiple times (so long as two new installments requalifies it) until it wins — I think of this as the “my favourite series better damn well win this time” provision.

I’m still not a fan: it’s going to be a popularity contest for very popular (if not always good) ongoing series. And any minimum word count is going to be exclusionary. A 240,000-word lower limit would have rendered ineligible the original Foundation trilogy — which won a one-off “Best All-Time Series” Hugo in 1966.

And as far as I can tell the amendment would still allow series to appear on the Best Novel ballot when the final installment is published, like The World of Time did last year.

 

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

“Hugo Blatherings” – July 5

Still, it means I’m going to be part of Worldcon for at least the next two and a half years. I’ll be voting in two more Hugos after this one. And I’ll be trying to actively look for things to nominate, as well. I’ll be checking out Renay’s Hugo Spreadsheet of Doom and the Hugo Nominees 2016 Wikia regularly once I’ve finished with this year’s packet to look for suggestions to read. I’ve already got a couple of things I plan to nominate, and a few more I haven’t finished reading yet but I think might make my list. I’ll post a few lists of possible nominations as I go, and once the deadline for nominations has passed, I might even post my actual nomination form.

The round-ups at File 770 have slowed down, mostly because there just isn’t that much to talk about the Hugos right now. Everyone is busy going through the packets or have finished voting and are just waiting for the convention. I fully expect another fake outrage to be manufactured soon, but I can’t guess what direction it will come from. I’ve been continuing to read David Gerrold on Facebook… he’s the guy that got me into this whole kerfuffle in the first place. I don’t think I would have cared as much if not for him.

 

Mark Ciocco on Kaedrin Weblog

“Hugo Awards: Novella” – July 5

The other shorter-than-a-novel-but-longer-than-a-short-story category, these tend to be longer reads, which is a shame because I didn’t particularly care for any of them. It’s also one of the weirder categories in that three of the five nominees are from the same author. Two of the stories are also significantly expanded versions of much shorter stories (which, given my complaints below, would probably have been much better for me). None of the nominees are particularly terrible, per say, I just failed to connect with them, and it makes me wish there was a little more variety here. I don’t want too dwell on this, so let’s just get to it:…

[Comments on all five nominees.]

For the first time this year, I’m actually thinking about deploying No Award on my ballot, if only to get past the ridiculous notion that one author wrote the three best novellas of the year or something. I mean, I guess such a thing is possible, but not with these three stories. That being said, Wright also wrote my clear favorite of the bunch, so I’m not slotting No Award very high.

 

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“Guardians of the Galaxy, written by James Gunn and Nicole Perlman, directed by James Gunn (Marvel Studios, Moving Picture Company)” – July 5

This is a Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form nominee for the 2015 Hugos. This is not a movie with any deep thoughts in its head. It’s pure, fun, over-the-top adventure, with colorful space battles and explosions…..

 

Bonnie McDaniel on Red Headed Femme

“The Hugo Project: Campbell Award” – July 5

(Note: This is the latest in an ongoing series of posts reviewing as many of the 2015 Hugo nominees as I can before the July 31 deadline, and explaining why I will or will not vote for them.)

The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer advertises itself, famously, as “not-a-Hugo,” celebrating what the Worldcon community decides is the best new science fiction/fantasy writer of the year. Unfortunately, like so much of the rest of the ballot, this category has been tainted by the shenanigans of the Impacted Canines.

(Forgive me for sounding testy. Several weeks of slogging through godawfully bad stories not worth their weight in puppy piss will do that to you. I mean, if you’re going to behave lawfully-but-unethically and game the awards, can’t you at least nominate something halfway decent? Apparently not, as most of the ballot proves.)

Listed from worst to best….

[Comments on all five nominees.]

 

[Nothing to do with Sad Puppies, but an interesting article.]

 

Furface Tension 6/26

aka A Puppy Thing Happened on the Way to the INB Performing Arts Center

Although the roundups generally copy little material from the File 770 comment section, it is heavily represented today. The roll call includes: L.E. Modesitt Jr., Lee Wise, Vox Day, Lela E. Buis, Bruce Baugh, Kary English, Lis Carey, Spacefaring Kitten, Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag, Dave Weingart, Christopher Chupik, Declan Finn, Kyra, and a few Shy Others. (Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editors of the day Paul Oldroyd and  ULTRAGOTHA.)

 L.E. Modesitt Jr.

“The Illusion of Social Media” – June 26

One of the great benefits touted by exponents of social media is that it brings people together. It does indeed, but each social media group brings together only those sharing similar views.

A good example of this lies in the “sad puppies/rabid puppies” kerfuffle involving “slate voting” to determine the nominees for the annual World Science fiction awards. The situation continues and appears to be getting increasingly acrimonious, with partisans on each side making declarations and demands, and even threatening the boycott of the books of one major F&SF publisher because of the intemperate comments of two employees on social media.

From what I can tell, this acrimony likely involves at most perhaps several thousand individuals, and probably less than a few hundred who are deeply involved and committed… and who feel that the entire literary “culture” of fantasy and science fiction is threatened in one way or another, with the “liberal” side declaring that “traditional” F&SF is the bastion of old white males who embody all of those stereotypes, and the “sad/rabid puppy” side declaring that the liberals have hijacked F&SF into everything they detest, including novels that focus on multi-culturalism, gender diversity, extreme environmentalism, etc. Each side is industriously employing social media to assail the other.

The truth is that F&SF is big enough for both sides, and in fact is far bigger than either…..

 

Lee Wise on Lee’s Blog

“They came for the fen…” – June 26

….And then I learned that Gallo and her ilk were claiming that all emails objecting to her libel and that of other senior people at Tor were being generated by bots. Peter Grant requested that people email several people at Tor and their parent company Macmillan, copy to him, to prove that real people were emailing.

So I did. For the first time in my life, I emailed a company. And you know what I got back?

*crickets*

Neither Tor nor Macmillan so much as acknowledges emails on the subject. They could have — and one would have expected them to have — a bot of their own that acknowledged your email and thanked you for your input. It needn’t have any reference to what you actually wrote. But they didn’t even bother with that.

So, Peter Grant called for a boycott of Tor. It will be fairly difficult for me to boycott Tor since they haven’t been publishing much of anything that I care to read anyway. Gallo and her ilk are undoubtedly responsible for this. Still, I’m being careful these days. I spent $66.91 on ebooks last Saturday — pretty standard — but none of them came from Tor.

 

Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“Fire Irene Gallo” – June 26

The continued refusal of Tor Books to hold Irene Gallo responsible for her actions demonstrates that labeling Tor’s customers “racist neo-Nazis” and Tor’s own books “bad-to-reprehensible” is observably acceptable to its management, no matter what feeble protests Tom Doherty may offer.

 

Lela E. Buis

“No such thing as bad publicity…” – June 25

I’ve read some posts to the effect that this is the most entertaining Hugo season ever. We now see how the bad press is playing out. Because of the brouhaha, many more people now know that there is a Hugo Award for science fiction and/or fantasy. WorldCon is busting at the seams, and supporting memberships are going like hotcakes. People are busy reading and reviewing the nominations. Do you suppose the Nebula’s could arrange for Vox Day to game their system next year? Nevermind, just kidding.

A few blogs back, I did suggest that Day was in marketing mode with this Rabid Puppies scheme. His name has been up there in the lights for weeks now. The interesting thing is, so has the Hugo Awards, WorldCon, Tor Books, Irene Gallo, Moshe Feder and Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden. I’d be willing to bet Tor comes out with a little spike in sales.

 

Bruce Baugh on Obsidian Wings

“On accusations of *-ism and prejudice” – June 26

[Promoted from a File 770  comment to a standalone blog post.]

….Other people believe that we never altogether escape our legacies, and that they include a bunch of ugly screwed-up stuff as well as good things. We can — and should — aim to do better, but perfection isn’t attainable, and we are likely to do small harms (and sometimes larger ones) all the time. Sometimes it’s through ignorance, sometimes it’s through laziness and unwillingness to change the habits that give hurt, usually it’s a fair dose of both. In this view, dishing out harm is a routine though unwelcome part of life, and it’s no great achievement — but also no great burden, really — to respond by acknowledging it, apologizing, seeing what you can do to repair things, and then working to not do that particular one again. As Huey Lewis put it once, “All I want from tomorrow / is to get it better than today.”

This view is more common among people who are “marked”: those who are hyphenated Americans, who will have to say something to avoid incorrect assumptions about the sex or gender of their loved ones, who can expect to be called a “lady X” instead of just “an X”, and so on. They have more experience of being on the receiving end of a lot of unintended but nonetheless genuinely hurtful junk, and of seeing other deny responsibility for the hurt they’ve given. They see too how even when dealing with their own friends, family, and peers, disparaging attitudes about their kind can slip in and color what they do. (This is what “internalized” bigotry means: believing crap about yourself and people like you, and treating yourself or others like you the way people with social advantages over you are prone to.)

In my view, the second approach is vastly more realistic. We do all screw up a bunch all the time. Nobody can go through life constantly apologizing…but we can go through life recognizing that we do things worth apologizing for all the time, and try to do better. We can be humble about our limitations….

 

Kary English in a comment on File 770 – June 26

[“Kary’s apology” included at her request.]

I also wish people like Brad, Larry and other SP notables would come out and say “Hey, this* isn’t what we intended or what we hoped would happen. We’re sorry the whole thing has become such a mess.” (*where “this” means locking up the ballot and shutting out other works)

I don’t consider myself a spokesperson for the SP, or even an SP notable, but I’ll say it. I never got involved in this with any idea that I’d even make the ballot, much less that VD would run his own campaign or that there would be a ballot sweep. If I’d known that, I wouldn’t have participated. To the extent that I’ve been part of that, even unknowingly, I apologize.

It seems I can’t say anything remotely in that vein without someone saying that if I truly thought that, I would withdraw. I’ve already given my reasons for not withdrawing, but I’ll mention again that a large part of it is not giving Vox Day the satisfaction.

All that stuff about nominating liberals just to watch them self-flagellate and see how fast they withdraw? I’m not his marionette, and I won’t dance to his tune. He set us up to be targets, just like he set up Irene Gallo. I’m not giving in to Vox Day.

 

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“Captain America: The Winter Soldier, screenplay by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely, concept and story by Ed Brubaker, directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo (Marvel Entertainment, Perception, Sony Pictures Imageworks)” – June 26

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form 2015 Hugo nominee

Captain America fights Hydra and confronts the deadly Hydra agent the Winter Soldier, who turns out to be [spoiler]….

The level of violence was too high for me to fully enjoy the Neat Superhero Stuff, though.

Overall, not really my cup of tea.

 

Reading SFF

“2015 Hugo Awards Reading: The Parliament of Beasts and Birds – John C. Wright (Short Story)” – June 26

Concerning the story: I was not impressed. It seems to be a religious (christian) parable of some kind and, adding to the annoyance over the vocab, I have the distinct impression that JCW is showing off how smart he is. I bet there are a bunch of references that I do not get because of how dumb and uneducated I am and didn’t do my bible studies diligently enough. (Or ever 😉 ). So now everyone knows that JCW is able to actively use a lot of randgruppen** words, knows his christian mysticism and is so very educated.

As you can see, the story’s prose and style annoyed so much that I barely was able to follow the actual story. Can’t be much good then. I didn’t like it.

 

TPI’s Reading Diary

“My Hugo award votes 2015 part 3 – Novellas” – June 25

[Reviews all five nominees.]

“Pale Realms of Shade”, John C. Wright (The Book of Feasts & Seasons, Castalia House) The story starts as a sort of supernatural thriller. A detective has been murdered and his ghost has been waked up. His wife wishes that he should reveal his murderer and rule out the suicide in order to release the insurance compensation. (I wonder how the suicide is even suspected as apparently the victim was shot several times). He then meets temptations before finally he gets an atonement. The first few chapters offered some promise – the writing was slightly clumsy, but the premise as itself seemed interesting. Alas, the story went from below average to mediocre and eventually to ridiculously bad. The writing was clumsy, there were sentences like this: “Sly had come across the dead body of a man who had — let’s be frank with this now — I rode him pretty hard some times.”. What does that even mean? The plot went from allegorical to pounding heavy-handed religion with a sledgehammer. What we learn from this story: a freethinker is about same thing as a devil worshipper. One of the worst things I have read.

 

Spacefaring Kitten on Spacefaring, Happy Kittens

“Groundhogs in Battle Armor: Edge of Tomorrow” – June 26

Edge of Tomorrow, adapted from Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s novel All You Need Is Kill, may not stand a change in the Hugo race, because Interstellar was made the same year — and that’s arguably one of the best (if not the best) SFF movies of all time. Still, it’s an enjoyable science fiction film with good storytelling and interesting characters.

 

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

“Hugo Reading – Graphic Story” – June 26

[Reviews all five nominees.]

The top spot has to go to either Saga or Sex Criminals. I’m more impressed with what Saga managed to do in what is clearly a single volume of a long ongoing story, so I think I’ll probably give the top spot to Saga and the second to Sex Criminals. The clear third-place winner is Rat Queens, which is much more amusing than the top two, but just not quite as good. The Ms. Marvel volume is solidly in fourth place while Zombie Nation will take up the rearguard of the five nominees. If I wasn’t a charitable sort, I’d leave Ms. Marvel and Zombie Nation off the ballot entirely. But I’m inclined to include them.

 

 

 

Christopher Chupik in a comment on “How Authors Get Paid Part 2” at Monster Hunter Nation

Sad Puppies Monthly? I’d submit to that. It could be more hated among the SJW crowd than Baen in no time.

 

[Declan Finn is a man of great simplicity of mind.]

 

Kyra in a comment on File 770 – June 26

… Well. Now that I’ve managed to stop crying with joy about the Supreme Court decision for the moment, a brief word about short stories:

A is for Asimov, yes I’m his fan, especially for Bicentennial Man.

B is for Bixby, I read him and squealed; read It’s A Good Life (or end up in the field.)

Collier, genius that nobody knows, I treasure my copy of Evening Primrose.

Delany’s unique, with no mimics or clones; he saw Time As A Helix Of non-high-priced Stones.

Ellison, man of cantankerous bent, knew even a Harlequin has to Repent.

Foster just left, but we haven’t forgot her, and now that it’s Ended, I hope that He Caught Her.

G is for Gaiman, a winner because he scores with as few words as Nicholas Was …

Heinlein’s the standard by which some judge worth; my personal favorite? Green Hills Of Earth.

(I didn’t read any I’s, so I’ll just go with Ing, whose Devil You Don’t Know I guess was a thing?)

J’s for Dianna Wynne Jones, I’ll decide – just take any section out of her Tough Guide.

Keyes left us little, but each word we crave, we all lay our Flowers on Algernon’s grave.

LeGuin has so much that it’s hard to pick one, but I’ll go with Intracom just ’cause it’s fun.

M is for Merrill, who wrote like no other, her work is loved (and not Only by her Mother.)

N is for Niven, grandmaster for real, whose Woman of Kleenex met a Man of Steel.

O is for Orwell, a heck of a fella — and Animal Farm’s, technically, a novella.

Padgett, the union of Kuttner and Moore, who wrote The Proud Robot, which I just adore.

(Quaglia I’ve not read, but now Q’s represented; I’ve heard that his writing is good but demented.)

R is for Russ, and will not be exchanged; when she started writing, well, that’s When It Changed.

Sturgeon’s law states that most everything’s crap, but his Baby is Three neatly sidesteps that trap.

Tiptree, oh Tiptree, the greatest indeed; I ask, Houston, if you’ve skipped her, Do You Read?

U is for Utley, another departed, but Shattering came out as strong as he’d started.

Varley, most everyone knows, is top rank, you just can’t Overdraw from his Memory Bank.

Weinbaum was right there when all of this started and his Martian Odyssey’s still well-regarded.

(X is unknown, but don’t mock it or scoff, put here all the many I had to leave off.)

Yolen’s output is both varied and vast; The Devil’s Arithmetic showed us the past.

Zelazny is here as the final contender; how fitting for Camelot’s Last great Defender.

 

Santa Claus vs. P.U.P.P.Y. 6/25

aka Fetch-22

In the roundup today: Francis Turner, Greg Ketter, Kristel Autencio, Lyle Hopwood, Abigail Nussbaum, Ridley, Cheryl Morgan, Rachel Neumeier, Brandon Kempner, Kevin Standlee, Lis Carey, Spacefaring Kitten, JT Richardson, Laura “Tevan” Gjovaag, Rebekah Golden, Tim Matheson, Damien G. Walter and less identifiable others. (Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editors of the day Dave Clark and Will Reichard.)

 

Francis Turner on The Otherwhere Gazette

“The Future of Tor” – June 25

The posts inspired me to take a look at my book buying habits and it turns out I jumped the shark gun on the boycott thing because it seems I’ve been boycotting Tor for a while now. Not intentionally, but that’s probably more serious for Tor and its owners than a straightforward determination to boycott. You see Tor don’t actually publish books I want to read and, Kevin J Anderson apart, haven’t done so for a few years.

 

Greg Ketter on Facebook – June 25

[Greg Ketter of DreamHaven Books is offering Tor hardcover books at 40% off through the end of July to show support for Irene Gallo. For locals, the store address is: DreamHaven Books, 2301 E. 38th St., Minneapolis, MN 55406.]

Alright. Enough’s Enough…

I’ve been following some of the Hugo controversy and the follow on Irene Gallo / TOR dust-up and I’m truly tired of the demands for Irene’s ouster as some mis-guided and some other downright evil people threaten boycotts. It’s completely disgusting and JUST PLAIN WRONG and, well, I can do something about it in terms of sales of Tor books.

From now until the end of July, I will sell all TOR hardcover books at 40% off cover price. If I don’t hav…e it in stock, I’ll order it. You can come in the store or you can order by phone or email. This should make it easier to support Irene and negate any minimal effect the boycotters may have. A letter in support of Irene to the very same people that Vox Day and Peter Grant and others are asking you to send hate mail to would also go a long way.

I’ve been quiet on the whole subject mostly because I just couldn’t be bothered to spend any time on it. I wasn’t worried about adverse effects on my own business since I sincerely doubt the kinds of trollish behavior I’m seeing is from any of my customers. I’m amazed that the biggest complainers would have bought any books from Tor, ever, since they admit their reading tastes are generally contrary to everything that Tor holds dear (this is a totally facetious statement since I have no idea what it could really mean – I’ve been buying Tor books for my store since they first started and from what I can see, they publish books that they can sell. Period.)

So, I’m declaring July to be TOR BOOKS MONTH around here and I wish you all good reading.

 

Kristel Autencio on BookRiot

“The Brave New World of Spec Fic Magazines: A Primer” – June 25

Tor.com

Let’s address the giant, unhappy elephant in the room. When I started building this primer early in June, I automatically rounded up some of my favorite short stories published on the Tor website, acquired by keen editors such as Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Ellen Datlow and Anne Vandermeer. I was going to talk about how each story is paired with some of the most arresting artwork in the genre, thanks in large part to the art direction by Irene Gallo. That was before Tor publisher Tom Doherty proceeded to throw Irene Gallo under the bus, succumbing to an extended campaign by so-called Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies, whose reason for existence is their opposition to the fact that more people of color, LGBTQ+ people, and women are taking up space in the SFF landscape. Rioter Brenna Clark Gray goes more in-depth with this story.

This is not the recommendation I had wanted to write.

Some who are appalled by these developments are disavowing support for Tor, since it is an institution that would rather appease genre reactionaries than support their own employees who are doing vital work. This is a valid response.  But Tor (both the website and the publishing house) is also home to stories that Irene Gallo and other people like her are working hard to champion, the very voices that the Puppy Industrial Complex are saying should not be recognized by the Hugos or the Nebulas. It is your prerogative to not give Tor any of your money or your clicks, but I urge you to take note of these names, all of whom I first encountered through this publication: ….

 

Lyle Hopwood on Peromyscus

“’Do you mean to throw a level playing field under the bus?’” – June 24

In an impassioned argument against the proposal for a Hugo for “Sagas”, a professional SF writer writes:

Under the bus screenshot

“Do you mean to throw a level playing field under the bus?” I don’t know whether that fantastic image makes me more likely to buy their work or less. I’ve been thinking about the phrase to throw someone under the bus recently, as it was used approximately 16,993 times in the discussions about publisher Tor’s open letter disavowing Irene Gallo’s Facebook comment, which, since it referred to her by name, was widely considered to be throwing her under the bus.

 

 

Ridley on Stay With Me, Go Places

“Doing Slightly More Than Nothing About The Hugo Awards” – June 24

For the first time in my life, I’ll be voting on the Hugo Awards this year.

I’ve been reading science fiction for several decades now, but this is the first time I’ve felt strongly enough about the awards to get involved. One vote isn’t much, but I feel like it’s important to do what little bit I can. I’ll share my ballot after I submit it.

 

Cheryl Morgan on Cheryl’s Mewsings

“Archipelacon – Day 1” – June 25

Thus far I have done one panel. It was about the Puppies and what to do about them. Hopefully I managed to convey the fact that there’s not much any individual can do because of the determined way in which WSFS refuses to give anyone any power. All that Kevin, or I, or anyone else can do is try to make things better and hope that sufficient people come along with us. No matter what we do, large numbers of people will think we failed, because so many people refuse to believe that there isn’t a secret cabal running everything.

 

Brandon Kempner on Chaos Horizon

“A Best Saga Hugo: An Imagined Winner’s List, 2005-2014” – June 25

I’m using the assumption that Hugo voters would vote for Best Saga like they vote for Best Novel and other categories. Take Connie Willis: she has 24 Hugo nominations and 11 wins. I figure the first time she’s up for a Best Saga, she’d win. This means that my imagined winners are very much in keeping with Hugo tradition; you may find that unexciting, but I find it hard to believe that Hugo voters would abandon their favorites in a Best Saga category. I went through each year and selected a favorite. Here’s what I came up with as likely/possible winners (likely, not most deserving). I’ve got some explanation below, and it’s certainly easy to flip some of these around or even include other series. Still, this is gives us a rough potential list to see if it’s a worthy a Hugo: ….

 

Rachel Neumeier

“Just about ready to vote for the Hugo Awards” – June 25

[Reviews all nominated fiction, movies, and pro artists. Then continues with comments about Hugo rules changes.]

The best post I’ve seen about the situation with the Hugos this year, incidentally, is this recent one by Rich Horton at Black Gate. I think he is dead right about the desirability of reforming the Hugo Award so that any one person can only nominate so many works per category, and then the categories contain more works than that. I don’t think I would say that anyone can nominate up to five works and then there will be ten nominees, though. Ten is a lot. I think it is too many. My preference would be: you can nominate only four works per category, and there will be six (or, fine, eight if necessary) nominees. That should really help break the power of both bloc voting and over-the-top fan clubs to put one author on the ballot five times in a single year.

I would also be in favor of a more specific reform: No author can have more than two works up for a Hugo in one year, or more than one work per category. If more than that make the cut, the author must choose two total, one per category, and the rest must be eliminated from the ballot. No one – no one – ever has or ever will write one-fifth of all the best stories produced in a given year. It is absolutely ridiculous to allow a ballot that implies that is possible, and worse to deny exposure to other works that might otherwise be nominated….

 

Kevin Standlee on Fandom Is My Way Of Life

“Procedural Notice: Recording Committee of the Whole” – June 25

I have mentioned a few times and in a few places that at this year’s Business Meeting, what I call the “technical” discussion of complex proposals such as E Pluribus Hugo (and possibly Popular Ratification) might best be handled by having the meeting go into what is known as “Committee of the Whole.” A proponent of the proposal would then hold the floor during the COTW and do a Q&A-style discussion. Such discussions are procedurally more difficult to do in the main debate because of the rules regarding who can speak and how often; however, the two proposals I’ve named (and possibly others to come) are sufficiently complex that I expect that many members simply want to ask the sponsors of the motions what the proposals mean…..

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“Interstellar, screenplay by Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan, directed by Christopher Nolan (Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures, Legendary Pictures, Lynda Obst Productions, Syncopy)” – June 25

interstellar

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form 2015 Hugo nominee Interstellar is visually magnificent, exciting, thought-provoking, and a bit long. It pains me to say that last bit. I wanted to love every second of it. In the end, I couldn’t, though I did love most of it. Parts of it did just drag, and there’s no way around that.

 

Spacefaring Kitten on Spacefaring, Extradimensional Happy Kittens

“The Bondesque Superhero Action of Captain America: The Winter Soldier” – June 25

All Captain America is good for seems to be posturing and telling everybody what’s the moral thing to do (in addition to throwing his shield around which looks sillier in movies than in comic books). I almost rooted for the comically sinister Nazis.

Score: 4/10.

 

JT Richardson on JT’s German Adventure

Hugos 2015 Read – Best Graphic Story – June 25

Zombie Nation

I am, and have long been*, a MASSIVE comics fan. My tastes generally run to superhero comics, though I’ve dipped my toe into the more “serious” waters — Maus, Persepolis, Blankets***, Logicomix****, and the AWESOME Cartoon History of the Universe. But this year’s noms are a pretty nice mix — One Marvel, 3 Image (Hooray for creator-owned!) and one webcomic. DC was too busy planning its semi-annual reboot to generate nominees*****. Best Graphic Story — As a long-time reader of superhero, especially Marvel, comics, I’m definitely biased toward the capes. But this year’s noms only have one (which I have already read, and loved). Here are my thoughts, in reverse alphabetical order: ….

 

Reading SFF

“2015 Hugo Awards Reading: Why Science is Never Settles – Tedd Roberts (Best Related Work)” – June 25

Apart from that, my main criticism of the article regarding its Hugo nomination is the fact that its SFF-relatedness is nothing more than a single reference to one of Eric Flint‘s novels. So, even though this is a good article, I don’t think it should be on the Hugo ballot as a “Best Related Work”, irrespective of whether it was published by SFF publisher Baen or whether it contains a SFF-al reference.

In conclusion, this nominee will not appear on my ballot, it should never have been nominated in this category as I don’t consider it to be a “Related Work”.

 

Reading SFF

“2015 Hugo Awards Reading: Turncoat – Steve Rzasa (Short Story)” – June 25

The plot is nothing special and unfortunately for me, the reader, it was predictable how things would turn out very early on (the title of the story was a big give-away, but even without that title the plot design would have been obvious).

Still, the story is good enough that I will place it above No Award.

 

Reading SFF

“2015 Hugo Awards Reading: Wisdom from my Internet – Michael Z. Williamson” – June 23

Wisdom from my Internet is a collection of very short jokes (tweets maybe?) on a variety of subjects, mainly US-American politics though. It self-published by the author in an imprint he fittingly named “Patriarchy Press”. I started reading, then skimming then fast-forwarding through it with short stops to see whether it had improved further on (it hadn’t) until I reached the end. That was fast. And easy to judge: not on my ballot will this thing ever be. No Award. Because:

Are you* serious?

*By “you” I mean Sad Puppies, Rabid Puppies, and whoever gets to decide whether a given nominee is an eligible nominee.

 

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

“Hugo Reviewing – Professional Artist” – June 25

[Comments on all five nominees before concluding –]

It’s not hard to figure out that Dillon’s work impressed me the most, by a fairly large margin. I’d then go with DouPonce for my second-place choice. Pollack and Greenwood rank about the same and Reid is last, not because he’s worst, but because his art doesn’t seem to fit for me. I might even mix it up and put Reid above the other two. This is another one I’m going to have to sleep on.

With the exception of Dillon, whose subjects I enjoyed, and Reid, who had a wide variety of subjects, the choice of imagery was fairly standard for the artists. They were cover art for the most part, but they were fairly static. As a comic book reader, I like my art to flow and have some sense of movement… like your mind will fill in the next scene. Pollack, Greenwood and DouPonce had art that felt like it was posed. Dillon’s work was more natural. Reid, of course, is a sequential artist, so he didn’t have that problem.

 

Rebekah Golden

“2015 Hugo Awards Best Novel: Reviewing Ancillary Sword” – June 24

I’m glad I read Ancillary Sword. It was an interesting book with some very topical thoughts on oppression and distribution of wealth. Anyone who is familiar with the concepts of company towns will find similar motifs in Ancillary Sword. Anyone who read and enjoyed Ancillary Justice will find Ancillary Sword to be a fitting continuation of the story, well written, well thought out, well developed. The compelling questions behind it aren’t as striking as in the first novel which I think is why it falls a little flat comparatively. Still, solidly good military sci-fi in the tradition of Elizabeth Moon and Tanya Huff.

 

Rebekah Golden

“2015 Hugo Awards Best Graphic Novel: Reviewing Rat Queens” – June 24

I know there’s a lot of nostalgia over D&D right now but personally I’m tired of fictionalized D&D campaigns no matter how clever or well drawn. Throw in a little Lovecraft, add a college dorm element, top it off with some back story and potential for depth, it’s still D&D nostalgia. And nostalgia must be written let it at least have a twist. No twist. Fun, well drawn, nostalgia.

 

Tim Atkinson on Magpie Moth

“Hard science, hot mess: Liu Cixin’s The Three-Body Problem” – June 25

The Three Body Problem was a late arrival to the Hugo ballot this year, being added after withdrawals due to voting slate politics.

The work of one of China’s most prominent science-fiction writers, Liu Cixin, it is actually nearly ten years old. In 2014, it finally penetrated the cultural myopia of the Anglosphere in translation, and is therefore eligible for a Hugo.

And I’m jolly glad of this, since The Three Body Problem is one of the two stand-out novels on the shortlist, along with the very different The Goblin Emperor. Amid space opera and fantasy (urban and classic flavours) it sticks out like a tall poppy because it is full to the brim of ideas.

 

Far From the Barking Crowd 6/24

aka Canine of Gore

Today’s roundup brings you Vox Day, Peter Grant, John C. Wright, Cat Valente, Lis Carey, Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag, Scott Kennedy, Camestros Felapton, Spacefaring Kitten, Mark Dennehy, and Fred Kiesche. (Title credit is due to File 770 contributing editors of the day Jane Dark and Rev. Bob.)

Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“Stage 2: snail mail” – June 24

Since Macmillan has yet to respond to any of the many emails it has received from hundreds of people, it’s now time to take things to Stage 2 of the Tor Books boycott. Mail a handwritten postcard or index card to each of the following three individuals informing them that as long as Irene Gallo is employed by Tor Books or Tor.com, you will not be purchasing any books published by Tor Books…..

It’s interesting, is it not, to contrast the way in which Walmart, Amazon, and Ebay were so quick to respond to totally nonexistent pressure to stop selling Confederate flag-related material with Macmillan’s non-response to receiving thousands of emails. This is the difference that SJW entryism makes. I’ve seen the BBC “react” and change its policies due to “outrage” that was later reported to be a grand total of 17 complaints.

 

Peter Grant on Bayou Renaissance Man

“The latest development in the Tor boycott” – June 24

I’d be very grateful if those of my readers who support my position would please send letters requesting the above to the addressees Vox has listed on his blog.  That’ll add the weight of our numbers, and our more moderate requests, to those supporting his position.  The SJW’s are lumping all of us together, whether we agree with that or not – they’re equal-opportunity blamers – so why not use our combined strength in numbers?

 

John C. Wright

“Tor and the Volunteer Thought Police Department” – June 24

Whatever the solution, I am confident my loyal readers who do not want my sale numbers to fall, so that the accountants continue to regard my work as a legitimate source of revenue, so that I can continue to write books for you. Hence I am sure you would like to see a speedy resolution to this matter.

In that spirit, and without expressing my private opinion about the right and wrong in this matter, I urge my readers to write to Tor and Macmillan to express your gratitude for their many fine publications you have purchased over the years, and your disappointment in the events that seem to be hindering that comfortable relationship, and eroding buyer loyalty.

…. The spirit of compromise would suggest that if I become half-honest, Tor’s upper management could tell half as many lies with half as much vitriol and bigotry.

It is in that spirit of half-honesty that I am pretending to be neutral in this matter. In truth, I am not willing to compromise on the question of having readers who like my work. Indeed, I would like more readers who like my work even more.

Which means I would like to get back to my job.

To get back to my job requires Tor’s editors, Mr Feder, Miss Gallo, and Mr Nielsen Hayden, to get back to the their job of editing books, and cease moonlighting as the racial conformity officers, Christ-hating crusaders for Sodom, defenders of fainting feminist damsels in distress, public scolds, soapbox preachers, cheerleaders for the Two Minute Hate, riotmongers, and volunteer thought police department for the science fiction genre.

Or so I might say were I to express an opinion, which I will not. You, however, my beloved readers, patrons, and employers, whom I live to serve with fearless pen, I invite to express your opinion to the addresses given above.

 

Scott Kennedy in a comment to Adam-Troy Castro on Facebook – June 24

If You Were a Dinosaur My Love is the #Benghazi! of the Sad Puppies

 

Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“An interesting admission and EPH analysis” – June 24

One of the more amusing aspects of File 770 is the way that the commenters there are both a) absolutely obsessed with me and b) hell-bent on denying that I am of any import whatsoever. So they repeatedly claim that they just want to talk about books while mostly talking about the Puppies; in the meantime, nary a link in the round-up has anything to do with anything that isn’t related to me, the Puppies, or the Torlings dutifully doing exactly what I assumed they would do from the start, which is destroy the village in the name of saving it.

I find the EPH proposal to be very promising in this regard, as it is designed by the Torlings at Making Light to permit Tor Books to avoid being shut out in the future and ensure it at least one nomination per category every year. Of course, it will hand the Puppies the same fixed claim on the Hugos, which will gradually turn the award into a five-faction competition, perhaps four if we continue to build our numbers to the point where we can reliably lay claim to two nominations per category. It’s a very parliamentarian proposal.

It means that DAW and some of the other smaller publishers had better decide quickly whether they are better off fighting amongst themselves for the 2-3 open slots or fight the proposal, because if EPH passes, some of them will never see another Hugo nomination after 2017… unless the TORlings are willing to give up one of their own seats on what will effectively be the Hugo Security Council.

It’s telling that the Torlings would rather hand us the equivalent of a permanent nomination slot than compete directly with us. It demonstrates that for all of the bluster and splashing about of the small fry, the bigger fish in the little SF pond realize that the Puppies are a serious force with which they must expect to reckon indefinitely.

I am neither endorsing nor opposing EPH or any other rules changes this year. The reason is that when those rules changes implode the awards as I anticipate, I want all responsibility for the changes to be credited to those who proposed and voted for them.

 

nerds of a feather, flock together

“Assessing the Hugo Reform Proposals” – June 24

There are currently three proposals for Hugo reform that will be discussed at the Sasquan business meeting. None are in the ballpark of the comprehensive reforms I’ve suggested, but are at least attempts to rationalize and/or streamline areas of the Hugo process that are either inefficient, inexplicable or path dependent to older models of the SF/F field. Here I assess their merits…..

 

Metafilter

Discussion thread: “Saga of the Sagas”

This years proposed Worldcon rule changes included one introducing a new Hugo Award, for Best Saga: A work of science fiction or fantasy appearing in multiple volumes and consisting of at least 400,000 words of which the latest part was published in the previous calendar year. Initially the new award was coupled with the removal of an old one: Best Novellete. This raised some objections and that part of the proposal was removed.

 

 

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

“Hugo Reviewing – Fan Artist” – June 24

[Reviews all five nominees.]

In the end it’s a toss-up between Leggett and Schoenhuth for me. I like them both a lot, but I’m not sure how to decide between them. I’ll have to sleep on it. The other three are distantly behind, but none of them are so bad they don’t deserve an award. I think Aalto is on the bottom of my ballot, but the order of the other two is also up in the air for me.

 

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“Strange Horizons, Niall Harrison, editor-in-chief” – June 24

Strange Horizons is a 2015 Best Semiprozine Hugo nominee.

Strange Horizons publishes speculative fiction, poetry, reviews, interviews, and essays. It’s possible, though not easy or obvious, to get to 2014 material. Unfortunately, I bounced off every piece of fiction I tried to read in it. That doesn’t mean it’s not necessarily excellent fiction; it means only that I bounced off it. My only further comment is that it doesn’t have the visual attractiveness of some of the other nominees.

 

Camestros Felapton

“Let’s talk about puppy poo” – June 25

… Early on I ranked this as the worst overall of the Puppy Nominees but aside from that I haven’t  reviewed it here for two reasons.

  1. Initially I was cross that such obvious  rubbish had been nominated and I didn’t see much worth in an angry review.
  2. I decided not to spend my energies being mean to authors – even the weakest of writers us doing a brave thing by putting their writing out there. Additionally I thought Kary English made some good points here: http://karyenglish.com/2015/04/on-anger-power-and-displacement-in-the-hugos-part-one-of-possibly-several/

A couple if things have made me reconsider this. Firstly Wisdom from My Internet really us so genuinely  awful that it is important in considering  the legitimacy  of the Sad Puppy campaign. Secondly Michael Z Williamson’s recent social media ‘jokes’ on the Charleston murders indicate that  I needn’t be too concerned  about hurting anybody’s feelings. Having said that, this isn’t a revenge review – the issue us the work not the author and the author clearly must have a sufficiently  thick skin for me not to be too worried about inadvertently  offending him.

 

 

 

Bunglespleen and the Leg Sleeves

<http://bunglespleen.tumblr.com/tagged/ayn-rand/chrono>

We’re a post-new-wave punkabilly rock zydeco blog. And right now, we’re reading Hugo Award-winning novels.

“In retrospect, it was perhaps a mistake to turn Ayn Rand’s reanimated corpse into the galactic empress.”

—   Hyperion Shivered, Hugo winner 1973

#fake first lines#ayn rand#she leads them to glorious victory over the Slug Collective#but then her support of a completely unrestrained market leads to societal collapse and a lack of train service#capitalism

 

 

[Voodoo? Who do?]

The Snifferance Engine 6/23

aka Altered Slates

Today’s roundup comes courtesy of Adam-Troy Castro, Matt Forney, Vox Day, A. G. Carpenter, Nicholas Whyte, Brandon Kempner, Eric Flint, Melina D, Patrick May, Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag, and Lis Carey. (Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editors of the day Will Reichard and  Glenn Hauman.)

Adam-Troy Castro on Facebook – June 23

Evidence, to me, that this is an aesthetic issue and not just a political one. (Though of course it’s that as well).

Brad Torgersen pronouncing what kinds of stories he sees as worthy.

“Downbeat endings suck. They are ‘literary’ and some critics and aesthetes love them. But they suck. If you’re going to roast your characters in hell, at least give them a little silver lining at the end? Some kind of hope for a more positive outcome? Your readers will thank you.”

I…can’t even begin.

I love a happy ending as much as the next guy. But not all stories need to be geared to the “rah-rah us.” And if I started naming great works in and out of science fiction where “readers thanked” the author for going black, I’d be here all day. I do this without being a critic or aesthete. I loved the despairing endings of Jack Williamson’s “With Folded Hands,” of Arthur C. Clarke’s “The Nine Billion Names of God,” of John W. Campbell’s “Night,” of Ellison’s “I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream,” of any number of TWILIGHT ZONEs and of George Romero’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, before I was ten — all before I discovered film noir or got into horror or watched Von Stroheim’s GREED or even knew that stories could be *about* the things in life that aren’t fair. Downbeat endings do *not* suck. Who would dare to say that the ending of THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE sucked? Or that the ending of THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME sucked? Or that the ending of DOUBLE INDEMNITY sucked? Or that the ending of MILDRED PIERCE — the novel, not the much-altered Joan Crawford movie — sucked?

Downbeat endings don’t suck. Pointless endings suck. There’s a difference.

Just speaking as a writer, alone: Gad, am I happy I am not shackled to that criterion. I go downbeat about half the time, because different stories go different places, and I have gone dark with some of my most popular work. HER HUSBAND’S HANDS AND OTHER STORIES is not exactly a collection of uppers.

***

IMPORTANT ADDENDUM: Brad has communicated with me about this post, and wants to make clear that in context he was speaking, specifically, of space opera, and no other genre or subgenre. I think he’s likely wrong even when talking about that limited context — I can think of a number of cases where intrepid space heroes came to grief, and have indeed written a book of them — but you know what? In the context of that clarification it is not exactly fair to paint him as being unaware of the depth and breadth of the use of the downbeat ending in literature. I want this known and recognized.

 

Matt Forney on Return of Kings

 “Backlash Against The Boycott Of Sci-Fi Publisher Tor Books Shows The Hypocrisy of SJWs” – June 23

In the past couple of decades, publishing in general—and sci-fi and fantasy publishing especially—has become increasingly dominated by leftists, who have jettisoned the genres’ focus on adventure and exploration in favor of heavy-handed social justice narratives blaming cishetwhitemales for all the world’s ills.

Any writer who dissented from the SJW line was effectively blacklisted from Tor and other major publishing houses, as well as denied nominations in the industry’s prestigious Hugo and Nebula Awards.

As you would expect, sales of newer sci-fi and fantasy books have flatlined as SJWs such as Nielsen Hayden and N.K. Jemisin have become dominant voices. As it turns out, nobody wants to read “socially aware” dreck like If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love and other works that cast straight white men as the devil incarnate.

Sales figures show this: of the top ten best-selling sci-fi books in 2012, all but two of them were either Star Wars/Halo tie-ins or published decades ago. The number one best-selling book was Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, published in 1985.

Last April, SJWs threw conniption fits when the Sad and Rabid Puppies, two campaigns spearheaded by sci-fi authors Larry Correia and Vox Day, respectively, successfully nominated several non-SJW works for this year’s Hugo Awards. Beyond showing how petty SJWs are, the Sad and Rabid Puppies’ campaign showed that SJWs are a vocal-but-tiny minority, since it only took a handful of votes to swing the nomination results.

 

Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“Let reason be silent” – June 23

When experience gainsays its conclusions. Ed Trimnell argues against fighting fire with fire:….

How did Brandon Eich fail to out-argue his opponents? How did the Nobel Laureates Tim Hunt and James Watson fail to make their cases? The fact is that one cannot out-argue anyone in debates that do not take place, debates that Mr. Trimnell knows very well, from personal experience, will never take place. He can attempt to out-argue me because I am willing to engage with him, debate him, and discuss our differences in a civil manner rather than pointing, shrieking, and summoning an Internet mob to shout him down, disqualify, and disemploy him. He simply cannot do the same with the people at TOR Books, among others. He knows that.

Furthermore, Mr. Trimnell is ignoring the wise advice of Aristotle. He is appealing to dialectic in a rhetorical battle where the greater part of those on the other side are not even capable of understanding that dialectic. That is why following his advice is a surefire way to ensure defeat.

I am offering a proven way to win, one that is both historically and logically sound. Mr. Trimnell is offering nothing but certain defeat because feels. He doesn’t like not feeling morally superior to the other side, so much so that he would rather lose than give up that feeling of superiority in order to meet the enemy head-on. I dislike boycotts too, much as General Ferguson disliked poison gas. But I dislike being methodically mobbed, disqualified, and disemployed even more, I dislike being falsely accused and blatantly lied about even more, so I am utilizing certain SJW tactics even more efficiently and more effectively than the SJWs can. Everyone else of influence on the Right should be doing the same.

 

Adam-Troy Castro on Facebook – June 23

Vox Day’s contribution is to the daily File 770 roundup what FAMILY CIRCUS is to the Sunday comics section — a guaranteed bummer often marked by the requirement that you follow the most torturously convoluted of dotted lines.

 

A.G. Carpenter

“Silence is Support” – June 23

….But, Torgersen and Correia maintain that they themselves are not racist, sexist, or homophobic. They just, don’t say anything about Beale’s ongoing rants. Maybe they laugh at his jokes or hit like on the comment window. They can argue all they want that they are not be bigots themselves, but their actions say otherwise.

Correia reached out to Beale last year. This year he reached out to GamerGate (with admittedly uncertain results when it comes to the ballot stuffing) – a group known for its sexist attitudes towards women and a radical and violent fringe. And Torgersen got in deeper with Beale by coordinating their slates under the Sad and Rabid Puppies flags. This isn’t just silent support.

This isn’t just silence that is interpreted as support. This is a deliberate alliance with those who do not hide their racist, sexist, homophobic agendas.

But I will not be silent. And I will not support the ideologies that led a young man to murder nine men and women in a church in Charleston. i will not shrug and say “That Vox Day. He’s an asshat but what can you do? It’s just one man ranting on the internet.” I do not want the others like Dylan Roof looking at the world of SF/F and thinking “See? They agree with me.”

Because I don’t.

Because we don’t.

Because silence only leads to regression.

 

Nicholas Whyte on From The Heart of Europe

“E Pluribus Hugo, revisited” – June 23

I’ve spent more spare time than is healthy over the last few days musing on the proposed new system for counting Hugo nominations, designated E Pluribus Hugo (henceforth EPH) by its designers (to whom detailed observations should be directed here). I am in sympathy with its intent, which is to prevent any group – whoever that group may be – from absolutely excluding nominees from having the chance to be considered for the Hugo Award. I think that the proposal as it currently sits achieves that aim, but at a cost of making it too easy for a group which is otherwise utterly unconnected with Hugo voters to get a single work onto the ballot by “bullet votes” (ie votes for their candidate[s] and no other). I explore this problem below, using data from the 1984 Hugo nomination ballots, and propose a partial solution, which is to use square roots as divisors when weighting nomination votes.

Detail

I’m tremendously grateful to Paul Evans for providing me with the 1984 data he described here. Having spent a couple of evenings crunching figures, I now feel huge sympathy and admiration for the Hugo administrators trying to make sense of the variant titles and spelling submitted by voters. Administering what are essentially thousands of write-in ballots is not exactly straightforward, and I am not sure that I would have the patience to do so in an RL setting myself. Not surprisingly, my tallies vary a bit from Paul’s. He has taken more time over it, so his numbers are probably right.

I’ve picked three different ballot categories from 1984 to analyse mainly because they were relatively easy to process, with less name and category confusion than some of the other options would have presented.

 

Brandon Kempner on Chaos Horizon

“Modelling a Best Saga Hugo Award, Part 1” – June 22

I find it difficult to imagine an award in the abstract, so in this post and the next I’m going to model what a hypothetical Best Saga Hugo would look like for the past 4 years (2011-2014), using two different techniques to generate my model. First up, I’ll use the Locus Awards to model what the Best Saga would look like if voted on by SFF-insiders. Then, I’ll use the Goodreads Choice Awards to model what the Best Saga would look like if the Best Saga became an internet popularity contest. Looking at those two possible models should give us a better idea of how a Best Saga Hugo would actually play out. I bet an actual award would play out somewhere in the middle of the two models.

 

Brandon Kempner on Chaos Horizon

“Modelling a Best Saga Hugo Award, Part 2” – June 23

…. Methodology: The same as last time. Goodreads publishes Top 20 lists of the most popular SF and F novels; I combed through the list and chose the most popular that were part of a series. The Goodreads lists actually publishes vote totals, so I used those to determine overall popularity. Here’s the 2013 Goodreads Choice Awards; note that these would be the books elgible for the 2014 Hugo. The Goodreads categories are a little wonky at times. Keep that in mind. They also separated out Paranormal Fantasy until 2014, so no Dresden Files or Sookie Sackhouse in the model…..

This model looks less encouraging than the Locus Awards model. I think this is what many Hugo voters are afraid of: legacy series like Ender’s Game, Sword of Truth, or even Wheel of Time, showing up long after their critical peak has worn off (if Goodkind ever had a critical peak). Series can maintain their popularity and sales long after their innovation has vanished; readers love those worlds so much that they’ll return no matter how tired and predictable the books are. A 10 or 15 year series also has 10 or 15 years to pick up fans, and it might be harder for newer series by less-established authors to compete.

Still, even the Goodreads awards were not swamped by dead-man walking series, and the Hugo audience would probably trim some of these inappropriate works in their voting. It would be interesting to see someone like King win a Hugo for The Dark Tower; that’s certainly a very different feel than the current Hugos have.

 

Eric Flint

“A DISCUSSION WITH JOHN SCALZI ABOUT THE PROPOSED ‘SAGA’ AWARD” – June 23

….But my biggest difference with John’s approach has to do with something very general—about as general as it gets, in fact.

What are the goals of literary awards in the first place? And what’s the best way to achieve those goals?

There are two ways to look at this. The first is the way John is looking at it, which runs throughout his entire argument, not just in the two paragraphs I quoted above. For John, awards should not only be a recognition for excellence, they should be designed to encourage the development of new talent by being concentrated in those areas where new talent is most likely to emerge.

Hence, he champions short fiction awards. Please note that John is not disagreeing with a point I made in my first essay and have repeated many times since—to wit, that short fiction represents only a very small slice of F&SF whether you measure that either in terms of readers or (especially) the income of authors. He simply feels that’s not very relevant because what he sees as most important is the following:

It [a “Best Saga” award] privileges the established writer over the newer writer. Almost by definition, the authors who are eligible for the “Best Saga” award are very likely be writers who are already successful enough to have a long-running series and the ability to publish in those series on a recurring basis. It’s theoretically possible to have someone toiling away on a series in utter obscurity and suddenly emerge with a knockout installment that would pop that writer up into “Best Saga” consideration, but as a practical matter, it’s almost certainly more likely than not that the nominees in the category would be those authors with perennially popular series — people, to be blunt, like me and a relatively few other folks, who are already more likely to have won the “genre success” lottery than others.

I don’t disagree with the point John makes when he says that “the authors who are eligible for the ‘Best Saga’ award are very likely to be writers who are already successful enough to have a long-running series and the ability to publish in those series on a recurring basis.”

He’s absolutely right about that. But where he sees that as a problem, I see it as an essential feature of any award structure that’s designed to attract the attention of its (supposed) audience. In fact, it was exactly the way the Hugo awards looked in their heyday in the 1960s and 1970s…..

At the moment, and for some time now, the “pendulum” of the Hugo awards has swung too far away from the mass audience. Where I differ from John is that I don’t see any way to reverse the increasing irrelevance of the Hugo awards to most F&SF readers unless the Hugos adopt one or another version of an award for series (i.e., the “Saga” award that’s being proposed). When most popular authors are working exclusively or almost exclusively in series and most of the awards are given for short fiction you will inevitably have a situation where the major awards in F&SF become irrelevant to most of the reading audience. Which, in turn, means that winning an award becomes less and less valuable in any terms beyond personal satisfaction.

If the idea of modifying an award structure to better match the interests of the mass audience really bothers you, grit your teeth and call it Danegeld. But it works.

 

Vox Day on Vox Popoli

“Hugo Recommendations: Best Related Work” – June 23

This is how I am voting in the Best Related Work 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 383 Vile Faceless Minions or anyone else.

  1. “The Hot Equations: Thermodynamics and Military SF”
  2. Transhuman and Subhuman: Essays on Science Fiction and Awful Truth
  3. “Why Science is Never Settled”
  4. Letters from Gardner
  5. Wisdom from My Internet

 

Melina D on Subversive Reader

“Hugos 2015: Thoughts on Editing” – June 23

I’m not going to talk about individual nominees here, but I did want to talk about the editing awards, particularly short form editing. I’ve heard people talking about these award before and how you can’t really judge editing unless you are either the author or the editor (or someone who works with them) – usually implying that ‘regular fans’ shouldn’t be voting for these awards.

I have to disagree. When we look at the nominees for the short form editing, we’re essentially looking at editors who have put together anthologies or collections (or in one case a magazine, similar to the anthologies/collections, but with more of them over the course of a year). And I strongly believe that you can see good editing when it comes to these forms – as well as bad editing.

 

Melina D on Subversive Reader

“Hugos 2015 Reading: Best Fan Writer” – June 23

I’m not actually going to talk about the nominees individually. There’s a few reasons for this. Firstly, I think some of the nominees thrive on notoriety and get a buzz from someone talking about them. It feeds into their over-inflated sense of self-importance and I don’t feel like adding to that. Secondly, I don’t think any of the provided submissions were at an award level – in content or writing, so there’s no benefit in discussing them individually. Finally, the tone of a few of the pieces left me concerned that I would become a target for abusive behaviour if I was publicly critical of the authors. There’s probably a very slim chance of it, but events of the last couple of years has shown me that it does happen, and I’d prefer not to deal with that at the moment. So, my discussion here is going to be a more general look at what was submitted and what made me so ranty about it.

One thing that really struck me while I was reading, was that many of the pieces had little to do with speculative fiction or media or the community as fans. When we’re celebrating fan writers, I’m looking for people who are passionately engaged as fans. I want to know about the books and stories and media they love and why they love it. I want to know about the spec fic they find find problematic and why. I want to know why media inspires them and why. I want to know what kind of fan community they aspire to belong to and why.

 

Patrick May

“2015 Hugo Awards Graphic Story Category” – June 23

[Reviews all nominees in category.]

The Zombie Nation Book #2: Reduce Reuse Reanimate

This is the only nominee not included in the Hugo packet. I asked the author on his website and on Twitter if there is an excerpt available, but got no response. Since it’s a webcomic I read a few months worth online to get a feel for the work.

This is less a graphic story than a series of loosely connected gags. Some are amusing, most are not. The artwork is decent, but neither it nor the writing make it a Hugo contender.

 

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“Lightspeed Magazine, edited by John Joseph Adams, Stefan Rudnicki, Rich Horton, Wendy N. Wagner, and Christie Yant” – June 23

Lightspeed Magazine is a 2015 Best Semiprozine Hugo nominee.

Lightspeed publishes a wide range of science fiction and fantasy fiction, as well as interviews, Q&As with their authors, and fiction podcasts. What I did not find is an archive allowing me to look at their 2014 issues, the relevant issues for this year’s Hugos. The only thing I’ve been able to read that they published in 2014 is “The Day The World Turned Upside Down,” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt, translated by Lia Belt. I’ve already expressed my opinion on that one, and you can read it, if you wish, by clicking the link.

It’s very well presented visually, but with the Heuvelt story being the only thing from 2014 that’s available to read, I’m not prepared to rate it very high.

 

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

“Hugo Reading – Short Stories” – June 23

[Reviews all five nominees.]

The best story of the five by a few lengths was definitely “Totaled”, although it wasn’t perfect, nor even the best I’ve read from 2014. It was just very good. In descending order of quality I would rank “A Single Samurai”, “On A Spiritual Plain”, “Turncoat”… and then “The Parliament of Beasts and Birds” a distant last. Four of the five have something to recommend them, but only one was good enough to even be considered for an award.