Pixel Scroll 1/23/18 Always Scrolling Home

By JJ:

(1) THIS IS WHAT YOU NEED, I’LL GIVE YOU WHAT YOU NEED. (click on the date/time stamp to see the whole thread)

(2) SOUTHEAST ASIAN ANTHOLOGY. Rambutan Literary is launching its first anthology of works curated from its first two years of publishing Southeast Asian literature with a Kickstarter for Shared Horizons: A Rambutan Literary Anthology.

It’s been two great years since Rambutan Literary started publishing work from the global Southeast Asian literary community. We’ve grown from a tiny journal with a handful of readers to a robust, (proudly) small publication with a readership of thousands worldwide. We continue to publish literature from both established and emerging Southeast Asian writers, and we’re even currently sponsoring the Sing Lit Station 2018 Hawker Prize for Southeast Asian Poetry.

As we enter our third year, we want to celebrate the work that we’ve accomplished together, the amazing literature we’ve had the honor to publish, and the awesome writers we’ve gotten to work with by organizing an anthology of some of our favorite pieces from the last two years!

The Kickstarter thus far has achieved $1,224 in pledges toward a $3,370 goal, with 10 days remaining in the campaign.

(3) YOU GOT YOUR POLITICS IN MY SCIENCE-FICTION. At Tor.com, Judith Tarr provides a re-read review of Andre Norton’s Daybreak – 2250 A.D.:

Here, seven years after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Norton gives us the complete destruction of Western civilization and the near-destruction of the human race. She knows about radiation poisoning, she speculates about the range and quality of mutations from it, and she makes it clear that she sees no other end to the atomic age than a cataclysmic blowup.

She also, even before Brown v. Board of Education and right in the middle of the McCarthy era, made clear that the future will not be pure white, though it may be relentlessly patriarchal. Her hero may have fair skin but he’s something other than Aryan-Caucasian, and his closest friend is African-American, descended from the Tuskegee Airmen. The implicitly white Plains people actually have a female leader, and the only women who speak in the whole novel speak at the end against the men’s insistence on perpetual war…

Her theme here, just as much as in her works of the Eighties and later, is that all humans need to work together, that cultural differences are not measures of superiority or its opposite, and that the real future of humanity is among the stars.

Apolitical? Not even slightly.

(4) SPEAKING OF APOLITICAL SF. A tweet from the prematurely-declared SFFCGuild claiming that Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was apolitical evolved into a long, raucous Twitter thread on political messages in SFF. At one point, Jim Hines threatens to use a magic tattoo to make Scott Lynch bald. (click on the date/time stamp to see the whole thread)

(5) VIRAL FICTION. Story Seed Vault announces this year’s Flash Fiction contest.

The Story Seed Vault is an online micro-fiction publication that aims to entertain and educate our readers about scientific research through fiction. We are an international publication based in Sydney, Australia. As Story Seed Vault is new to the industry, we are pushing to increase our reach and to partner with science communicators all over the world.

One of the ways that we do this is by holding thematic Flash Fiction contests.

Criteria

  1. It must be based on topics/research relevant to VIROLOGY. The more recent the research, the better. We will judge a great story with science from a few years ago over an alright story with a study published yesterday.
  2. If the story is about VIROLOGY but the research provided is generic educational info, it will not be awarded a placing.
  3. The story has to be able to stand on its own – the science can provide context/make it more interesting, but it should not rely heavily on the science to be entertaining.

1st, 2nd, and 3rd place entrants will receive $10 each.

The submission period is Flash as well: Submissions open at 10pm AEST January 25, 2018, and close at 10pm AEST January 27, 2018. (That’s 7am EDT on those days, for you Yanks.)

Please, PLEASE nobody tell Timothy about this.

(6) KINGFISHER ENVY. Filer Cheryl S. sends a photo of her gorgeous Kickstarter Special Edition of Summer in Orcus by T. Kingfisher (aka Ursula Vernon). Those who missed out can still get an e-book edition, or read this magical tale for free online at the author’s website.

(7) DO YOU FEEL LUCKY, SOLARPUNK? DO YOU? Tom Cassauwers, on OZY, says Sci-Fi Doesn’t Have to Be Depressing: Welcome to Solarpunk:

Imagine a scene, set in the future, where a child in Burning Man-style punk clothing is standing in front of a yurt powered by solar panels. There weren’t many books with scenes like that in 2014, when Sarena Ulibarri, an editor, first grew interested in a genre of science fiction that imagines a renewable and sustainable future. Four years later, it’s different.

Welcome to solarpunk, a new genre within science fiction that is a reaction against the perceived pessimism of present-day sci-fi and hopes to bring optimistic stories about the future with the aim of encouraging people to change the present.

(8) VISUAL CONFUSION. SFF authors have provided their photo albums from last week’s ConFusion convention in Ann Arbor, Michigan. See Jim C. Hines’ photos and John Scalzi’s photos.

(9) THE FORCE AWAKENED. Bill Capossere, at Fantasy Literature, has posted an insightful review of the non-fiction work Superwomen: Gender, Power, and Representation by Carolyn Cocca:

Stylistically, Cocca is consistently engaging, her prose clear and fluid. The content is well researched, organized, focused, and incredibly detailed, and the entire work is wholly and thoroughly accessible throughout, making for reading that is enjoyable, stimulating, and thought-provoking.

Some of this is well traveled territory, and so those conversant with the topic won’t be surprised for instance to hear about how Wonder Woman’s creator had an overtly feminist motivation, or that female heroes such as Jean Grey or Sue Storm often fainted while exercising their powers. Nor will they be shocked at the difference in posing and costuming between male and female superheroes. Superwomen‘s value here for such readers then isn’t in the presentation of new information, but in how good a job Cocca does placing these things in context of time period and culture, as well as highlighting how a more diverse authorship and artistry (as opposed to just more diverse characters) can make a huge difference.

(10) INACCESSIBILITY. Despite exchanging numerous messages in advance with Ace Comic Con Phoenix, congoer Jen Sauve found the accessibility arrangements less than accommodating:

We had been told upon arrival register and then find an ace rep and they would make sure we were taken care of as per their disability policy. I must’ve asked about 15 different reps including their one at guest relations and the ace info booth and no one seemed to know of any policy or be on the same page. Irritated, I went down to the celeb photo ops redemption (missing the cap panel I wanted to see because hey, making sure I am accommodated and don’t have any sort of medical emergency is important). Celeb photo ops (they seemed rather pissed about this as well mind you) informed me that ace was telling them no one could be in their ada line unless they were in a wheelchair. I know the celeb photo ops staff rather well by this point attending so many cons and could tell they felt awful saying this to me.

(11) SHARKES IN THE WATER. Maureen Kincaid Speller has posted an intro for the 2018 Shadow Clarke project. As someone who was on the outside looking in last year, I find some of her conclusions regarding the reactions to last year’s results… questionable.

To begin with, we discovered that the phenomenon of award shadow juries is apparently not that well known outside Europe. There was an unexpected degree of resistance to the concept from some parts of the global sf community, people who saw our enterprise as part of an ongoing attempt to police their reading, which was certainly not our intention. More than that, we came to realise that a surprising number of people within the sf community had become deeply averse to the whole idea of critical writing…

Our basic approach will be almost the same as last year… But this time we’ll be placing an even greater emphasis on showing our critical working. So, alongside our individual reviews, we hope to include dialogues, round tables, and possibly some podcasts as well if we can sort out the logistics. We’re also going to be talking individually about our critical practice. It’s common to see fiction writers talking about what moves them to write, where their ideas come from, and so on, but nowadays it’s vanishingly rare to see critics and reviewers doing the same. It’s time we changed that. The Shadow Clarke jurors come from a variety of critical backgrounds, and it’s going to be very interesting to compare notes on what we do and how we do it.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:

(13) FAMILIAL FANTASY V. Fantasy photographer Alexandra Lee has embarked on a very special person project – portraits of her loved ones in fantasy costuming and settings. (click on the date/time stamp to see the tweet, then click on one of the tweet photos to open the gallery)

(14) THIS MUST BE JUST LIKE LIVING IN PARADISE. Viable Paradise 22, a writers’ workshop which will run from Sunday, October 21 to Friday, October 26, 2018, has a discount on applications during the January earlybird period.

Viable Paradise is a unique one-week residential workshop in writing and selling commercial science fiction and fantasy. The workshop is intimate, intense, and features extensive time spent with best-selling and award-winning authors and professional editors currently working in the field. VP concentrates on the art of writing fiction people want to read, and this concentration is reflected in post-workshop professional sales by our alumni…

Viable Paradise encourages an informal and supportive workshop atmosphere. During the week, instructors and students interact in one-on-one discussions, group critiques, lectures, and free-flowing Q&As. The emphasis at first is on critiquing the students’ submitted manuscripts; later, the emphasis shifts to new material produced during the week.

The application fee changes based on when in the application period your application is submitted:

  • For applications submitted from January 1 to January 31: $12.50 (USD).
  • For applications submitted from February 1 to March 31: $25 (USD).
  • For applications submitted from April 1 to May 15: $35 (USD).
  • For applications submitted from May 16 to June 1: $50 (USD).

The application fee is non-refundable and is separate from the tuition cost for applicants accepted to the workshop. For those applicants we accept as students, the non-refundable tuition cost is $1500 (USD) and is due on August 1st.

(15) PINING FOR THE SPLASHGUARDS.

(16) ASIMOV DIDN’T SEE THIS ONE COMING. Scottish supermarket chain Margiotta, which trialled a ShopBot who they affectionately named “Fabio” in an experiment run by Heriot-Watt University for the BBC’s Six Robots & US, discovered that the First Law of Robotics should have been: Do Not Alarm the Customers.

Fabio was programmed with directions to hundreds of items in the company’s flagship Edinburgh store and initially charmed customers with his ‘hello gorgeous’ greeting, playful high fives, jokes and offers of hugs.

But within just a few days, the robot was demoted after giving unhelpful advice such as ‘it’s in the alcohol section’ when asked where to find beer. He also struggled to understand shoppers’ requests because of the ambient background noise.

Banished to an aisle where he was only allowed to offer samples of pulled pork, Fabio started to alarm customers who went out of their way to avoid him…

…when Franco Margiotta, who built the business from scratch, told the little robot they would not be renewing his contract, Fabio asked: “Are you angry?” and some staff were reduced to tears when he was packed away and shipped back to Heriot-Watt.

(17) DON’T HOLD YOUR BREATH WAITING FOR MOONBASE ALPHA. Author Mark R. Whittington, in a commentary in the Salt Lake Tribune which speculates that Mitt Romney will run to take the seat vacated by the retiring Senator Orrin Hatch, recommends that Romney reconsider the idea of planting a human colony on the moon.

One of Romney’s opponents, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, proposed the building of a lunar base by the year 2020, then eight years away. Mr. Romney [in 2012] took the occasion of a presidential debate in Tampa to savagely mock the idea of going back to the moon. “If I had a business executive come to me and say I want to spend a few hundred billion dollars to put a colony on the moon, I’d say, ‘You’re fired.’…

Having listened to the experts on the matter, Trump has duly signed a directive for NASA to set America’s course back to the moon. What Romney once found beyond the pale is now federal government policy.

So, the question arises, considering Romney’s prior position and his well-known antipathy to the president, what is his position now concerning a return to the moon? Would he still fire someone who suggested it to him?

In response, Professor Emeritus of Chemical Engineering at the University of Utah Noel de Nevers says “Sorry, Mark, but moon colonies are just science fiction right now”:

In support of this idea [Whittington] says, “Water and ice at the lunar poles can be mined and refined to rocket fuel,” and also, “Access to the moon and its abundant resources will be of benefit to the United States.”

Both of these ideas form the basis of entertaining science fiction, e.g. “The Martian.” But the moon (and Mars), as far as we know, do not supply visitors with air, drinking water, food or fuel. Visitors to the moon (or Mars) must bring all of those with them…

So far lunar exploration has not shown that there are “abundant natural resources”, on the moon, and to date there are none whose value on earth (e.g. gold or platinum) would justify the cost of bringing them to earth, even if those resources cost nothing to find and extract from the moon’s surface (or interior, as most earthly gold and platinum is). There is no evidence that the fossil fuels or mineral deposits that life on earth depends on were ever formed by lunar geology and biology, as geology and biology has formed them on earth.

(18) YOU ALSO NEED THIS.

(19) AMNESIA SF. Michael Jan Friedman, who is perhaps best known for his Star Trek tie-in novels and a writing credit on the Star Trek: Voyager episode “Resistance”, has created a Kickstarter campaign for Empty Space, a science fiction adventure in the form of a 128-page full-color graphic novel, with 115 pages of story and illustrations by pencil-and-inks artist Caio Cacau:

Your name is Robinson Dark. You don’t know where you are or how you got there or what happened to the crew you led into space. All you know is you can’t feel a thing – not even fear.

Then it gets weird.

I’ve described Empty Space as a cross between Star Trek and Lost, but it’s really more than that. It’s a twisty, turny, sometimes unsettling narrative set against the limitless backdrop of the stars, with the sort of bizarre alien species and against-all-odds derring-do that’s always characterized the best space adventure – along with a heaping dollop of the macabre.

This is the kind of tale I’ve wanted to tell for a long time. In fact, it’s a dream project for a guy who fell in love with comics and science fiction at the age of six and never stopped loving them.

It’s also a chance for me to give back to you – the readers who’ve been following me for decades – the best, most intriguing, and most entertaining work I can possibly come up with. If at any time in your immersion in Empty Space you think you know where the story is going… I humbly invite you to think again.

The Kickstarter thus far has achieved $3,435 in pledges toward a $10,000 goal, with 23 days remaining in the campaign.

(20) CUBIK MUSIK. It doesn’t get any geekier than this: YouTuber The Cubician plays the Star Wars cantina song as part of solving Rubik’s Cube.

(21) FOR THOSE WHO NEED TO ESCAPE, JUST FOR A LITTLE WHILE, TODAY.

 In Memory of Ursula K. Le Guin, who challenged all of us to become our better selves.

[Thanks to Cheryl S., Cora Buhlert, Hampus Eckerman, lauowolf, Laura Resnick, Lenore Jones, Mark-kitteh, Paul Weimer, Soon Lee, and Standback for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 Contributing Editor of the Day JJ.]

The Demolished Puppy 4/27

Another nominee withdrew even as the Hugo ballot was going online, rousing an immediate swirl of comment by Marina J. Lostetter, Alex Shvartsman and Deirdre Saoirse Moen.

Before that news cycle opened there were already new posts from Larry Correia, John C. Wright, Liz Barr, Dave Freer, Sarah Hoyt, Sam Roberts, Lyda Morehouse, R. Scott Bakker, George R.R. Martin, Jason Sanford and many more. (Title credit goes to File 770’s consulting editor of the day Bruce Baugh.)

Edmund R. Schubert on AletheaKontis.com

“In Which Edmund Schubert Withdraws From the Hugos” – April 27

And let me be clear about this: While I strongly disagree with the way Sad Puppies went about it… when the Puppies say they feel shut out because of their politics, it’s hard for me to not empathize because I’ve seen IGMS’s authors chastised for selling their story to us, simply because of people’s perceptions about the publisher’s personal views. I’ve also seen people refuse to read any of the stories published in IGMS for the same reason.

With regard to that, I want to repeat something I’ve said previously: while Orson Scott Card and I disagree on several social and political subjects, we respect each other and don’t let it get in the way of IGMS’s true goal: supporting writers and artists of all backgrounds and preferences. The truth is that Card is neither devil nor saint; he’s just a man who wants to support writers and artists—and he doesn’t let anything stand in the way of that.

As editor of IGMS, I can, and have, and will continue to be—with the full support of publisher Orson Scott Card—open to publishing stories by and about gay authors and gay characters, stories by and about female authors and female characters, stories by authors and about characters of any and every racial, political, or religious affiliation—as long as I feel like those authors 1) have a story to tell, not a point to score, and 2) tell that story well. And you know what? Orson is happy to have me do so. Because the raison d’etre of IGMS is to support writers and artists. Period.

 

Edmund R. Schubert at Orson Scott Card Intergalactice Medicine Show

“Not A Hugo Sampler Issue – Letter From The Editor, 2015”

To Readers of Science Fiction and Fantasy Everywhere,

I suspect that most of you already know this, but for those few who may have stumbled upon this collection of short stories and novelettes by other paths, let me start off with a summation (along with the caveat that this will be highly simplistic for the sake of brevity): in early 2015 a campaign was launched by a group of science fiction and fantasy fans who felt their views and tastes were being marginalized. They wanted to force the rest of fandom to recognize them, and their plan for doing so was to put a slate of nominees they considered worthy-but-overlooked on the final ballot for the prestigious Hugo Award. Their actions were successful in the extreme, and the reaction by much of fandom was equally extreme. Things got ugly. Quickly. Very. (Editor’s tip #463: Forcing people to see your point of view is rarely successful . . .)

I was one of the people nominated for a Hugo Award during in this campaign, although I didn’t know anything about it until after it had already happened. And while I feel these fans had certain valid concerns, hijacking the Hugo Awards wasn’t the right way to go about making them. I therefore withdrew my name from consideration.

 

Marina J. Lostetter on A Little Lost

“The #HugoAwards are Supposed to be Fun, Damn It!” – April 27

I was ready to never say anything about the Hugos here.  But I love IGMS and the specific story of mine Edmund requested, and am greatly saddened by what has happened around the Hugos this year.  I think it’s important to note how this year’s slates have fostered nothing but ill feelings, and that many fine authors, editors, and venues are caught in the middle: either because they’ve become a “ping-pong ball” as Edmund describes below, or because they were bumped from the list due to questionable bloc voting.

 

Alex Shvartsman on Alex Schvartsman’s Speculative Fiction

“Edmund Schubert Withdraws From The Hugo Award Consideration” – April 27

I, for one, am sad about Edmund’s decision. He was on my nominating ballot (and I had no association nor even knowledge of what was on the Puppy slates). I know of at least several other fans who nominated him as well. I hope to see him back on a future ballot sooner, rather than later.

 

Deirdre Saoirse Moen on Sounds Like Weird

“Editor Edmund R. Schubert Withdraws From the Hugo Awards” – April 27

I think it’s important to note these things:

  • It’s likely Edmund knew about the slates prior to nominations closing.
  • Edmund accepted the nomination (people are given the ability to decline prior to the official nominee list being posted).
  • Edmund likely knew others withdrew after acceptance. Edmund chose not to at that point.
  • Edmund likely knew the ballot had been locked after two people were declared ineligible and two withdrew.
  • Like Black Gate, Edmund’s withdrawal took place after all these events.

While that allows for some sympathy/empathy, it’s not as large as someone declining the nomination in the first place or, as Dave Creek did, asking off the slate prior to nominations closing.

 

Liz Barr on No Award

“Liz reads the 2015 Hugo-nominated short stories  – April 27

I thought that Project: Read As Much As Possible And Vote By Merit would be easier if I didn’t sit around waiting for the voter pack.  Accordingly, I’ve reserved a bunch of the nominated novels at my elibrary of preference.  As for short stories, all but one are available online, and I’ve started reading and organising my preferences.

 

Larry Correia on Monster Hunter Nation

“Updates for the Week” – April 27

Sad Puppies Round Up

Same old, same old. Bunch of new anti-Puppies articles and blogs this week. I could either A. Write books and be paid large sums of money. or B. Repeat myself over and over to every dipshit on Twitter… Hmmm… Tough one.

From what I’ve seen the people who disagree with us now mostly fall into a couple of camps. 1. People repeating the already discredited anti-diversity slate narrative and other lies. BORING.  2. People who agree the Hugos were screwed up, but who didn’t see any political bias. Insular, cliquish, wannabe-literati, yes, but not political. Great. You guys run with that. 3. People who benefit from the status quo dismissing a bunch of fans because of guilt by association. Weak.

 

John C. Wright

“And now the French” – April 27

The overseas bloggers are getting into the act:

https://francoisvanhille.wordpress.com/2015/04/26/cultures-de-limaginaire-litterature-puppygate-la-polemique-dechire-ecrivains-et-fans-de-science-fiction-aux-etats-unis/

And, no, no one contacted me to discover what the other side of the story was, or even whether there was one.

 

Dave Freer on Mad Genius Club

“To Destroy/survive SaurVox/ Voxdemort/ the Evil Genius in his Volcano Lair” – April 27

So: here you go. To defeat Vox Day… you need to become him – or at least a rival in power able to do so. Which means you need to understand that power, what attracts followers to him, and how instead to attract them to yourselves. To survive him, you at least need to understand him and those who oppose you.

Of course the problem with becoming that possible rival, that Saruman or Galadriel, is that firstly he is bright, secondly he seems to understand you. Thirdly, he is a long term planner and strategist, he writes well and is able to appeal to a large audience. He plans but seems able to flex from those plans. Of course he is obsessive and has ideas that don’t run in concordance with the ones you profess to follow. But those last features, which are all you ever focus on, are not conflict relevant, really. GRRM had a try at the wise councilor/Saruman bit, but he was not a great success. Scalzi… I wasn’t sure if he was trying Wormtongue to Larry, but as a Saruman he came over as petty and not too bright with his little twitter giggles of girlish schadenfreude glee at last year’s Hugos, just to name one of his outbursts… Anyway, let’s face it, he’s not your long-term thinker, otherwise he would have avoided attacking Baen last year. He’s a schemer and good at spin and vastly over-blowing his importance, but really, as a leader to mass a dark horde of men and Southern Orcs under, well, they’ll ruin his lawn. As for David Gerrold – I’m not sure if the purple dress is a Galadriel thing, really. (I think that’s supposed to offend us. Talk about really, really not understanding the people he hates. We don’t care, David. You could get the janitor to be the Hugo MC, in a burka, and we still wouldn’t care.) I’d avoid purple.  In a purple dress people could end up thinking he was doing Barney imitations, not Galadriel. I like to try and understand my opponents and get a handle on their motives. I must admit I was puzzled by his rage and sheer throw-the-toys-of-the-cot petulance about all this, let alone the fact that he was bringing the unfortunate Con and its volunteers into disrepute by openly attacking and villifying some of the nominees and thus trying to affect the Hugo outcome.  Most of us had nothing against (or for) the fellow. And an MC… he’s just there to hand out the prizes. It’s not about him.  All he had to do was smile and wave, no-one expects the MC to much more, and certainly they must keep a distance and appearance of lofty decorum from the actual process. Then, while packing wallaby mince I had a Eureka moment. Fortunately, I was better dressed than Archimedes for this process, so I merely ran through the house dripping bits of raw meat (isn’t that better?) and yelling ‘eureka’ at the cats. It’s true, at times they do. Anyway, I decided that this was a little inverse gay wedding cake and the Christian baker. It’s a ritual he values and considers important into which the particularly chosen of his sect were initiated with great pomp and celebration, being defiled by vile unbelievers – and he was going to have to conduct the ceremony.  Well now. I wonder what advice he would have given that baker?

 

Sarah A. Hoyt on According To Hoyt

“Requires Abasement” – April 26

This has been happening all month, for those keeping score at home.  The indoctrinated drones of the establishment have been spinning by here in high dudgeon and sure they have a killing argument and telling us both that we want “pulpy stuff like Heinlein” and that Heinlein was often “preachy.  And messagy.”

 

Sam Roberts on Reaxxion

“Are Social Justice Warriors Trying To Rig The Hugo Awards?” – April 27

While there have been allegations of authors buying voting rights for their friends and family in the past, Kowal appears to be the first person to do so openly. While not strictly forbidden by the WorldCon rules, as Tor editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden (probably the foremost opponent of the Puppies) has said, “As anyone over the age of ten knows, it’s generally possible to do things that are dubious, or scummy, or even downright evil, without violating any laws or rules.” While he was speaking against the Puppies at the time, his comment certainly seems applicable here.

As I write this, Kowal has raised enough money via anonymous donations, many of which she says come from authors who are running against the Puppies’ slate themselves (and thus stand to gain if the Puppies are defeated), to purchase one hundred votes. While this may seem a small amount, last year’s Hugos only saw around 3000 votes cast total. If the race is close this year, these one hundred (3.3% of the total) could easily sway the voting.

 

Badtux on Badtux the Snarky Penguin

“My thoughts on the #SadPuppies” – April 26

So it appears the “Sad Puppies” may win the battle, and lose the war. It may be that science fiction only has one prestige award in the future — the Nebula Award. SFWA membership requirements make it impossible for the “Sad Puppies” or anybody else to rig Nebula awards. In the end, what makes libraries (who account for most publisher profits) buy Hugo Award winners is the notion that winning a Hugo Award means it’s popular and high quality. Once it’s demonstrated that winning a Hugo Award means only that the publisher spent more money to rig the election this year than other publishers did, the Hugo becomes meaningless to libraries — and to anybody else, for that matter.

 

 

R. Scott Bakker on Three Pound Brain

“Hugos Weaving” – April 27

Let’s suppose, just for instance, that so-called literary works no longer reach dissenting audiences, and so only serve to reinforce the values of readers…

That precious few of us are being challenged anymore—at least not by writing.

The communicative habitat of the human being is changing more radically than at any time in history, period. The old modes of literary dissemination are dead or dying, and with them all the simplistic assumptions of our literary past. If writing that matters is writing that challenges, the writing that matters most has to be writing that avoids the ‘preference funnel,’ writing that falls into the hands of those who can be outraged. The only writing that matters, in other words, is writing that manages to span significant ingroup boundaries.

If this is the case, then Beale has merely shown us that science fiction and fantasy actually matter, that as a writer, your voice can still reach people who can (and likely will) be offended… as well as swayed, unsettled, or any of the things Humanities clowns claim writing should do.

Think about it. Why bother writing stories with progressive values for progressives only, that is, unless moral entertainment is largely what you’re interested in? You gotta admit, this is pretty much the sum of what passes for ‘literary’ nowadays.

Everyone’s crooked is someone else’s straight—that’s the dilemma. Since all moral interpretations are fundamentally underdetermined, there is no rational or evidential means to compel moral consensus. Pretty much anything can be argued when it comes to questions or value. There will always be Beales and Sriduangkaews, individuals adept at rationalizing our bigotries—always. And guess what? the internet has made them as accessible as fucking Wal-Mart. This is what makes engaging them so important. Of course Beale needs to be exposed—but not for the benefit of people who already despise his values. Such ‘exposure’ amounts to nothing more than clapping one another on the back. He needs to be exposed in the eyes of his own constituents, actual or potential. The fact that the paths leading to bigotry run downhill makes the project of building stairs all the more crucial.

‘Legitimacy,’ Sandifer says. Legitimacy for whom? For the likeminded—who else? But that, my well-educated friend, is the sound-proofed legitimacy of the Booker, or the National Book Awards—which is to say, the legitimacy of the irrelevant, the socially inert. The last thing this accelerating world needs is more ingroup ejaculate. The fact that Beale managed to pull this little coup is proof positive that science fiction and fantasy matter, that we dwell in a rare corner of culture where the battle of ideas is for… fucking… real.

And you feel ashamed.

 

Lyda Morehouse on A Day in the Life of an Idiot

“Hugo on the Brain and the Nature of Fandom”  – April 27

Look, we’re all divas. Correia is just saying out loud what lot of us feel: boo hoo, it’s NOT all about me! (Pro tip: most of us don’t say it out loud, because we realize how whiny and self-centered it makes us look.)

BUT… yes, okay? I actually sympathize a little with this. To say there aren’t cool kid cliques is disingenuous too. There just are.

Also, this feeling of being shut out of WorldCON culture something that has happened to people on the left, too. Not that long ago (but apparently outside of the collective memory), there was a huge controversy around the London WorldCON about a cliquish inner circle of white guys (and GRRM is even pictured!)

Here’s the thing I want to say about this: con culture is a thing. It’s a thing everyone needs to learn how to negotiate.

I’ve even talked about this idea before on this blog because I came across someone on Twitter complaining about feeling left out/unwelcomed at a con. The thing I said to that person (who was decidedly on the left), is that we’re all responsible for our own con experience. It’s not the con’s job to make you feel welcome. You have to learn the culture of cons and figure out how to fit in. Some conventions even have panels on the opening days ABOUT how to make inroads and make friends and be involved in a way that will let you leave the con feeling like you were part of it in a positive way.

 

Marion on Deeds & Words

“The Hugos, 2015, Chapter Two: The Slate Mailer Saga” – April 27

For many fans in the US, $40 is an expenditure that requires some thought. Spending $40 out of the household budget just to have a say about Best Book of the Year may be frivolous. It may reduce funds available for sports, a field trip or some other enrichment for your children. It’s not a slam-dunk.

And for many other fans, still in the US, it is out of reach. It isn’t a question of diverting the monthly Family Movie Day budget for one month. It is not even a discussion. Many of these people read, review and write SF; they blog, and some of them teach at the college level. They are shut out of the “democratic” Hugo selection process by economics.

Now let’s consider fans in Indonesia, Namibia, Lithuania. Can most of them afford $40 US?

If everyone who wanted to vote had voted, the Rabid Puppy slate might not have found such traction, even if they had a  newly-recruited voting bloc. If the cost of a supporting membership were $6, I wonder what would have happened. Just generally, beyond this year and next,I wonder what would happen. Would we start seeing SF best-sellers from Kenya and Estonia on the short list? Would we start getting more works in translation? In other words, would more nominators and voters introduce us to more good books (which, after all, is ultimately the purpose)?

 

Jason Sanford

“Are the Puppies all bark and no bite?” – April 27

If this is a correct analysis, it suggests there’s a massive group of people interested in the SF/F genre and the Hugos who didn’t know about the Puppy campaigns beforehand.

I also find the traffic comparison between Nielsenhayden.com and Voxday.blogspot.com rather interesting. Over the last month both sites featured multiple posts with prominent links to my essays, yet one of them clearly sent more traffic my way. While people can draw their own conclusions from this, it makes me wonder if the reach of the Rabid Puppies ringleader has been overstated by everyone in the genre.

Yes, VD has a passionate group of followers who helped the Rabid Puppy slate become the true winners of this Hugo mess. But perhaps the actual number of his followers is rather small, at least when compared to other groups within the SF/F genre.

That doesn’t mean he and his followers can’t continue to game the Hugos — the award’s nomination process, as recent events have proved, are very easily dominated by small, organized voting blocks.

But if my take on these numbers is correct, then it appears the Puppies are mostly all bark and no bite.

 

George R.R. Martin on Not A Blog

“Puppy Whines” – April 27

It all boggles the mind. And of course it leads to surreal arguments that ‘their side’ is justified in calling our side “Social Justice Whores” and the like because our side has called their side “Wrongfans” and “Haters” — when, of course, we haven’t. You are calling YOURSELVES that… with sarcasm, sure, but still, you are the guys coining all these new and exciting insults, for both my side and your own.

Let me ask, once again, for civility. When the argument is about political issues, I will call your side “conservatives” and “right wingers,” and I’d ask you to call us “liberals” or “progressives” or even “left wingers,” not SJ-Whatevers. When we are focused more on worldcon or the Hugos, I will continue to call you “Sad Puppies,” and I will take care to differentiate you from the Rabid Puppies… except in cases where you’re acting in alliance and agree, where I will just say “Puppies.” And you can call my side “fandom” or “worldcon fandom” or “trufans.” The two sides use “fan” to mean very different things, as I have pointed out repeatedly, which causes some of the confusion. Here’s a new thought: if you insist on calling yourselves “fans,” then call us “fen,” the ancient, hoary, fannish plural of fan. Fans and fen, there we go, two terms for two sides, no insults. Is that so bloody hard?

 

Joe Sherry on Adventures in Reading

“Thoughts on the Hugo Awrds: Part Four” – April 27

What I’d like to play with is Flint’s suggestions for “Complete Multi-Volume Novels” and “Series”.  What I see Flint saying is that the skill required to write a complete series and stick the landing is different enough from writing an ongoing series that they shouldn’t be compared in the same way (Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy compared to Jim Butcher’s ongoing Dresden Files).  I don’t completely agree.

That’s not completely true. I agree with what Flint is saying about the skill and technique, I disagree with how he is viewing the categories. I would divide the categories like this:

Novel

Ongoing Series

Completed Series

So Joe, you ask, what the heck are these categories and how are they different than what Eric Flint suggested?  Great question, I reply, let me tell you!

Novel: This category only slightly changes from how it works today. It is for a single volume work of no less than 40,000 words. The change is that I would strike section 3.2.6 from the WSFS Constitution “a work appearing in a number of parts shall be eligible for the year of the final part”. 2013’s publication of A Memory of Light is how The Wheel of Time was nominated at the 2014 Hugos for Best Novel.  I’d strike this.  Novel is for a single volume, period.  That’s it. A Memory of Light is eligible for Novel, The Wheel of Time is not.

Ongoing Series: This is where I start to mess with Flint’s suggestion.  Ongoing Series is for ANY series that has not yet been completed. To be eligible for Ongoing Series, a series must have at least two volumes published. However, it does not matter for the terms of this category if the author is planning to write a trilogy with a definite ending (Mistborn) or is writing a potentially open ended series (Dresden Files, Discworld). To be further eligible for a nomination, a new volume must be published during the eligibility year.  Love A Song of Ice and Fire but George Martin hasn’t published The Winds of Winter yet?  The series is not eligible for Ongoing Series at the 2016 Hugos unless he gets that book out during calendar year 2015.

Further, because we need to close one potential loophole here, an Ongoing Series is eligible for nomination ONCE.  What I intend this to mean is that if Mr. Martin publishes The Winds of Winter in 2015, it is eligible for Ongoing Series.  If A Song of Ice and Fire makes the final ballot for Ongoing Series, it is no longer eligible to be nominated in a subsequent year. However, if A Song of Ice and Fire fails to make the final ballot, it will still be eligible for Ongoing Series provided a new volume is published.  A series is considering “Ongoing” until the author or the publisher states that a volume is the “final” or “concluding” volume in that series.

Completed Series: A series is eligible as Completed Series when the announced final volume in the series is published.  A series will not both be eligible for Ongoing and Completed Series in the same year.  Publication of A Memory of Light rendered The Wheel of Time ineligible for Ongoing Series, but eligible for Completed Series.  Something like The Dresden Files would not be eligible for completed series until Jim Butcher announces “this is the final Harry Dresden novel”.  If Butcher published a Harry Dresden novel but then two years later said, “oh year, Skin Game was really the last book in the series, sorry guys” The Dresden Files will not be eligible for Completed Series because the series is only eligible in the year the final volume is published.  I don’t see this as too big of an issue because most writers want folks to know that they are delivering the promised conclusion to a series.

 

Declan Finn on A Pius Man

“Sad Puppies Bite Back” – April 27

Anyway, back in January, I tripped over a funny piece by Vox Day — presumably before Vox declared “Burn this bitch down!” about the Hugos — which basically boiled down to “The monthly staff meeting of the Evil League of Evil” (in the Lair of the Puppies).

For some reason, ever since I did heard about the death threats on the Puppies, and I wondered when Larry Correia or Brad would be SWATted, all I could think of was, well, what would happen?

…But just imagine….

Sarah Hoyt, Evil Yet Beautiful Space Princess

[SWAT leader at the door of the secret base hidden in hollowed out volcano] Battering ram in 5, 4, 3, 2 — HIT IT!

[Battering ram takes door.  SWAT rushes in. Sarah Hoyt, Evil Yet Beautiful Space Princess, is in the living room, playing with unidentifiable — yet obviously sinister — Weapons From Outer Space, using her Schwartz ring.  In the background, innocent and cringing minions are flogged with electric whips, and sent screaming to the Agony Vat ]

[SH looks up] HOW DARE YOU ENTER MY DOMAIN!!!!

[SWAT leader] Put down the ring!

[SH turns into CGI Imposing Figure]  Do you know who you are messing with?  NOT A DARK LORD BUT A QUEEN! NOT DARK BY BEAUTIFUL AND TERRIBLE AS THE MORN! TREACHEROUS AS THE SEAS! STRONGER THAN THE FOUNDATIONS OF THE EARTH! ALL SHALL LOVE ME AND DESPAIR!

[SWAT all stops, open-mouthed.  They huddle. After a minute, they turn back to her] Love you and despair. Okay. We’re cool with that. You have a deal.

[SH pouts, turns off CGI effects]  Oh, darn! I didn’t even get to use “She Who Must Be Obeyed.” I love that line.  Sigh. Okay.  Hon!  We have more minions! Put them with the others, please!

[Mr. Hoyt, Evil Yet Handsome Space Prince] Yes dear.  Okay guys, come with me. We’ll train you in the use of the laser guns and get you fit for Stormtrooper armor.