All The Colors of Kibble 4/8

This new roundup about Sad Puppies and Hugos features an artist/novelist who is happy to stay out of it; a lead dog who disbelieves fans will vote No Award; a prestigious bestselling author as familiar with the field’s customs as anyone; a few other opinions; and an idea passed on from an anonymous rules wonk.

James Artimus Owen on Facebook – April 8

A question I’ve gotten from about twelve thousand people: “Hey James, what’s your position on the whole Science Fiction Awards controversy going on?”

My response: “I LOVE Science Fiction Awards! I get one twice a year. It’s called the ‘Royalty Check Award’ and I’m always SO THRILLED to get it! My winning it is not based on political positions, Secret Literary Illuminati, Depressed Basset Hounds, covert bribery, overt campaigning, or who I had dinner with at a convention in Kansas City that one time where we ate the thing. It’s based ENTIRELY on how readers liked my books, and is not based on competing with anyone else’s books. I really like all those other awards, and would love to get one because they’re heavy and I have two stacks of paper on my desk but only one ceramic Buddha to hold them down. I am happy for my friends who are nominated for and win those awards. But for most writers, and especially the new ones, I hope you realize that no effort you put into making your book good enough for the Royalty Check Awards is ever wasted – and if those are the only awards my books ever get I will do as I always do: happily deposit it in the bank and then go have pie. It’s what Shakespeare and Steinbeck would have done.”

Brad R. Torgersen

“Sad Puppies 3: The Judgment of Solomon” – April 8

But I don’t think this will be the case. Oh, no question, “No Award” is going to be featured prominently in any category where Sad Puppies 3 (with the counter-slate Rabid Puppies) occupies all five of the available slots. I won’t be surprised to see “No Award” take third, or perhaps even second, place. But I doubt very much that “No Award” will claim first place in any category. Because there simply aren’t enough fans — even WSFS stalwarts — who are willing to turf an entire category out of spite. There are too many worthy works in all of the categories. Including works not on the SP3 or RP slates. And SF/F fans are like cats: notoriously averse to being herded. Plus, as a few pros have demonstrated, there is plenty or principled logic to support reading and voting for a work or a person on a slate despite disliking the slate itself. Why punish a good writer or editor or artist, simply for being on a list? It’s not like all the people participating in the nomination period dutifully went down the rows, reliably checking all the items without a second glance. Not for SP3, and not for any other suggested lists either — and there were many such lists, though perhaps not quite so extensive as ours.


George R.R. Martin in Not A Blog

“Me and the Hugos” – April 8

The prestige of the Hugo does not derive from the number of people voting on it. If numbers were all that counted, worldcon should hand the awards over to Dragoncon and be done with it. (Though I am not sure that Dragoncon would care. Years ago, the LOCUS awards used to be presented at Dragoncon. I attended one of those ceremonies, the last time I went to Dragoncon. Charles Brown handed out the awards in a cavernous hotel ballroom that was ninety per cent empty. The same ballroom was filled up standing room only for the following event, a Betty Page Look-Alike Contest. Which tells you what Dragoncon attendees were interested in. Which tells you what Dragoncon attendees were interested in… and hey, I like Betty Page too. A few years later, LOCUS moved its awards to Westercon, where they always draw a big crowd.

The prestige of the Hugo derives from its history. The worth of any award is determined in large part by the people who have won it. Would I love to win the Hugo for Best Novel some day? You’re damned right I would. But not because I need another rocket to gather dust on my mantle, as handsome as the Hugo trophies are. I want one because Robert A. Heinlein won four, because Roger Zelazny and Alfred Bester and Ursula K. Le Guin and Fritz Leiber and Walter M. Miller Jr and Isaac Asimov and Frederik Pohl and so many other giants have won the same award. That’s a club that any science fiction and fantasy writer should be thrilled to join.

Only… here’s the caveat… I wouldn’t want to join the club because I was part of someone’s slate, or because my readers were better organized or more vocal than the fans of other authors. It is not easy to win a Hugo, and it is especially hard to win the Big One — Hugo voters a tough crowd, one might say — but if that honor ever does come to one of my books, I hope it is because the voters did actually, honestly believe I wrote the best novel of the year, a work worthy to stand on the shelf beside LORD OF LIGHT and THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS and STAND ON ZANZIBAR and THE FOREVER WAR and GATEWAY and SPIN and…


George R.R. Martin on Not A Blog

Tone – April 8

I am against punching and kicking. Up, down, or sideways. No punching here, please.

I applaud the Tone Argument. The Tone Argument is valid. Yay for the Tone Argument.

We can disagree with each other without attacking each other. And no, I am not going to listen to you if you’re screaming at me and calling me offensive names. You shouldn’t either, no matter who you are. None of us should have to put up with that shit.

It really pisses me off, reading some of the threads and comments on both sides of Puppygate, that every time someone calls for a more reasoned discourse and an end to all the name-calling, we hear a chorus of, “they started it” and “no, THEY started it” and “they called me X so I will call them Y” and “don’t you dare silence me, I will say anything I like, I’m the one who speaks truth to power.” I don’t care who started it. I just want it to stop.


Ryan Britt on Electric Literature

“How Bigots Invaded the Hugo Awards” – April 8

If you’ve heard the rumblings about the Hugo nominations, perhaps you just shrugged your shoulders and said “what’s a Hugo again?” Even if you know that the Hugo Award is one of the two most coveted science fiction and fantasy literary prizes (the other being the Nebula), you still might assume the controversy is a nerdy Alien Vs. Predator situation in which picking a side feels like rooting for an arbitrary monster. But that’s not the case here. What has happened is simple: an angry mob has exploited a loophole in how nominations occur in order to crash a party that they seemingly detest anyway. The gaming of the Hugo Awards Ballot wasn’t executed for frivolous reasons: it was organized by racist, homophobic people who want science fiction to be going backwards instead of looking toward the future.

Was the airlock left open for certain creatures to enter the starship of the Hugo Awards? Yes. On both the Hugo website and the site for the current World Con (SasquanCon) you’ll notice that to become a voting member requires about $40 dollars. Even the Hugo Awards site itself says specifically “voting is easy.” If you have the 40 bucks and you don’t care about not attending the ceremony itself, you can vote. In the past, this hasn’t really resulted in what most would consider overt gaming-of-the-system, but the ability is clearly there.


Kameron Hurley

“Thoughts on That Controversial Awards Announcement” – April 5

So do please read the fabulous Tiptree winners and excellent longlist. The Tiptree longlist always makes a fabulous suggested reading list, and this year is no different. I would certainly like to see more talk online about this list than I’m seeing; there are tons of great book discussions ahead – don’t feel limited by the selections offered for bigger awards. Go forth and read! I’m in the middle of reading Monica Byrne’s THE GIRL IN THE ROAD right now, and it’s fab.

Let’s celebrate an award worth talking about.


Jason Sanford

“A modest Hugo Award proposal” –  April 8

I received the following proposal from a long-time genre fan who wishes to stay anonymous….

Where smaller categories get bogged down and overwhelmed by manipulation — short fiction, related work, etc. — is that there are many dozens of “very good” stories and (since long blog posts are related works now, though another topic would be creating a “short related work” category for that so that book-length related works can have their say, but boy is that a digression) related works, and (with the rise of so many anthologies and small press e-zines that do good work) so many short form editors, etc. That a hundred people like stories ABCDE, and another hundred like AFGHI, and another… so when an aggressive slate pushes VWXYZ everything (except perhaps the “A” that is a majority choice from the get-go) is pushed off. The long tail of good stories is its own defeat.

But! We can solve this with better democracy, in a way that (I hope) even the Sad Puppies would like. The approach is to allow *more* instead of *fewer* nominations per voter, ranked, and counted by a special Condorcet method which preserves proportional representation.

Proportional representation means basically that if 60% of ballots are A-B-C-D-E and 40% of ballots are F-G-H-I-J that the 5 nominees are A-B-C-F-G. This is what I actually favor: minority representation is important no matter which “side” one might be on. It makes for an environment where if 600 people really dig literary spectrum stories, and 400 people really dig pulp adventure, that each can put forth some nominees, instead of the 600 always having their sway. (Or the 400 turning rabid and ramming a wedged slate down everyone else’s throat.)

Further, by allowing 10 short fiction nominations, for example, we can avoid the problem of so many people (who like the same 20 stories) splitting their own voice and picking non-intersecting groups of 5 stories, only to be overwhelmed by a dedicated group that won’t split its vote.

105 thoughts on “All The Colors of Kibble 4/8

  1. Robert Reynolds – Vox is saying that the Hugo’s were gamed this year, which should demonstrate to any observant person that last year’s were not… At least, no more than they were by anyone else.

    Indeed, he’s on record as being very offended that someone thought he was involved in gaming them previously.

  2. S1AL: “As for the slate, if you actually read the threads about it, you would know that a large portion of it was decided by Brad’s readers making recommendations.”

    That isn’t consistent with Torgersen’s statement that Patterson’s Heinlein biography isn’t on the slate because he didn’t about about it, unless not even one of those fans of old-timey SF recommended it.

  3. Dennis: a lot of fans of SF read fiction; the subset that reads books about authors is not exactly a large percentage. That none of them thought of a book released months earlier isn’t that big a shock.

  4. S1AL-Even if your interpretation of VD’s comment is correct (which I consider debatable) last year’s tactics were also an attempt to game the system, by definition. That it was not nearly as “successful” as the most recent attempt in no way changes the reality that SP 2 was an attempt to game the system. Lessons from the prior attempts helped SP/RP to refine the methodology used this time, that’s all. One of the things they clearly learned last time was the need to have a campaign they could claim was divorced from VD, as from what I can determine, VD’s involvement proved toxic to the efforts last go-round. To judge by his remarks here, that strikes me as quite understandable.

    They effectively trolled the Hugos. That and $1.50 might buy them a cup of coffee.

  5. DennisHoward -What Craig said. I’ve read literally thousands of fiction works, and approximately 4 biographies.

    Robert Reynolds – SP2 was the same size as any number of lists made by dozens of authors across the industry. Vox preferred to have his own list because he’s Vox. He also was not involved in selecting on SP2. Yeesh.

  6. Most telling for me is that Vox and his readers poopooed the Three Body Problem earlier because it was written by an Asian and was recommended by someone they identify as a “SJW”. Now, having read it, Vox is on record wishing he’d included it on the RP slate.

    If that’s not an argument for making a point to read works by a more diverse group of authors, I don’t know what is.

  7. Dennis, I am a fan of old timey. l have no interest in biographies unless you count the papers of pkd.

  8. I am so angry. I just realized that best-selling authors Sidney Sheldon and Danielle Steele never got a National Book Award or the Nobel Prize for Literature. And an Adam Sandler movie has never won an Oscar for Best Picture. What a travesty! But seriously this obsession on how much money an author makes as an indication of their excellence or that it means that they are the authors who should get awards is ridiculous. Now, anybody can go to the Publishers Weekly website and see what the top ten SF books are at the moment. And since money is so important I’d like to help the the Sad Puppies for next year’s slates. Here are this week’s best selling SF books that came out in 2015. #4 Star Wars: Maul: Lockdown, #6 Star Trek-The Next Generation-Takedown #9 Mentats of Dune. And the only 2014 titles that are still on the list are: #1 The Martian (which had some eligibility problems for this year) and #2 Station Eleven, a literary science fiction novel.
    Also, I am a recently retired librarian of 34 years. In those years, with the exception of a very small number of classic titles like Ender’s Game, Fahrenheit 451 and Dune, and an even smaller handful of modern authors like David Weber, Harry Turtledove, Tad Williams, L E. Modesit and John Scalzi (I’m really being honest about Scalzi), the only titles that consistently came close to the circulation level of your average romance or mystery were Star Wars novelizations. And, please, I’m actually not trying to be snobby about this. I see these media books as the modern day equivalent of the hero pulps like The Shadow and Doc Savage. Something fun to read, but best of the year because of their profits? No.

  9. Mighty funny to watch Torgersen trying to pass his slate off as a list. When 17% of the nominators lock up 90% of the slots it’s not a list anymore, it’s a slate.

    When Torgersen called for suggestions, what he got looked a lot like the normal Hugo nominations, writ small. 41 people suggested 35 books, 4 books got 3 nominations each (none got more), 4 books got 2 nominations each, and the other 27 books got one nomination each. Even the most popular works (and in a group of people with aligned tastes in reading at that) had less than 10% of the nominations. Torgersen curated these to a list of five books, which got pretty close to 100% nomination rate.

    A slate boosts your nominating power 10 fold. Which is why 17% of the nominators could lock up 90% of the nominations.

    Additionally the Puppies (both types) overlooked two works that were right up their alley. _The Three-Body Problem_ and _Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue With His Century_. The organizers of these slates admitted publicly (Larry Correia in a comment on his blog, Vox Day in a comment right here at File 770) that the Heinlein bio would have been on the SP slate and _Three-Body Problem_ on the RP slate if they had only known about them in time. This gets down to the deadly problem with slates: nobody can know everything that they would like in a given year, and if you slate the ballot, the other voters can’t put the things you missed on it for you.

    This makes slates so brutally destructive to the nominating process that I cannot tolerate them. Once you pay the Danegeld you never get rid of the Dane. I will NO AWARD everything from a slate this year, no matter how good it is.

    We will see whether fans are interested in being the Puppies patsies, to meekly crown one of the Puppies choices “best.”

  10. So user ratings are objective evidence of quality now? Awesome.

    The Exchange Officers — 2.57 stars on Goodreads
    Opera Vita Aeterna — 2.66 stars on Goodreads

    Y’all suck, kid. Objectively.

  11. “Are you certain the secret master plan isn’t to ensure Mr. Noah Award wins everything this year…?”

    Exactly. You SJWs “Noah Ward” all the SP/RP nominees. Yeah, that’ll get ’em!

    Meanwhile, we puppies “Noah Ward” you. (While you do all the heavy lifting, thank you very much!)

    Or maybe not.

    How can you be sure?

    Decisions, decisions…

  12. Robert, George R.R. Martin points out that “gaming the system” has been part and parcel of the system for 30 years or more. You have no unique complaint for this year.

  13. What’s the matter, you think John Scalzi merits 3 more nominations than Arthur C. Clarke instead of only 2?

    Ha! it’s all Scalzi envy with you people, isn’t it? Here’s somebody who not only sells more books than any of the Puppies (combined?), he also gets the critical acclaim from critics and fans both you lot think should be your birth right *and* he doesn’t care one bit for your silly little dominance games.

    It must burn you up the only way you can get even a tenth of the attention Scalzi gets for just being a good writer is by throwing temper tantrums, the only way you can get a Hugo nomination is through cheating.

    All this effort, all this anger, all just to get Scalzi to notice you.

  14. ‘and you idiots are so dumb that you’re going to do most of the work?’

    Whatever happens, declare victory.

    ‘And here I thought this year’s shortlist would suffice to falsify last year’s false accusations about “gaming the system”.’

    You couldn’t possibly have thought that.

  15. “It must burn you up the only way you can get even a tenth of the attention Scalzi gets for just being a good writer is by throwing temper tantrums, the only way you can get a Hugo nomination is through cheating.”

    That’s untrue from start to finish. I didn’t cheat to get a Hugo nomination last year, I didn’t have anything to do with it. Nor did I cheat this year; Sasquan and others have confirmed that. My blogs get more than 3x the traffic of Whatever. Scalzi gets much less attention than you think, mostly because he lies about it. I have his site traffic records. Back when he was claiming to get 2 million pageviews per month, he actually got 305,000.

    Meanwhile, I’m actually approaching the amount that he lied about having.

    Martin, you can throw around all the insults you like, but try to understand this. I don’t care what you think. I don’t care what anyone on your side of the issue thinks. Not even a little bit. That’s not a pose, that’s not posturing, it is the simple truth. And until you understand that, you can’t possibly even begin to grasp what is taking shape here.

  16. ” I will NO AWARD everything from a slate this year, no matter how good it is.”

    Go for it, Cat. Two can play that game. Or two thousand. Or twenty thousand.

  17. “You gamed the system. The continued refusal to admit you did so speaks to your credibility.”

    I was informed for the first time I had no credibility back in 2001. And yet, since I have no credibility, it seems strange that so many people are suddenly terrified that the 2016 Hugos will be nuked if Mr. Noah Ward does well this year?

    Especially considering that I haven’t even made any direct statements to that effect.

  18. You care so little what I or especially Scalzi think that you keep humping our legs and used daddy’s money to set up a vanity press in Finland.

    And you so too get more hits on your website than Scalzi! Why won’t Scalzi notice you!

  19. ‘Vox is saying that the Hugo’s were gamed this year, which should demonstrate to any observant person that last year’s were not’

    It’s Game The Hugos Three: Game Harderer.

    ‘I’ve read literally thousands of fiction works, and approximately 4 biographies.’

    Did you read that Internet book? Did you vote for it?

  20. ‘And until you understand that, you can’t possibly even begin to grasp what is taking shape here.’

    Today the Hugos, tomorrow the world.

    ‘And yet, since I have no credibility, it seems strange that so many people are suddenly terrified that the 2016 Hugos will be nuked if Mr. Noah Ward does well this year?’

    Well you’ve partially established your credibility as a self-serving gamer of literary awards!

  21. VD—”If No Award takes a fiction category, you will likely never see another award given in that category again.”

    That’s almost as apocalyptic as when the Hugos became the L Ron Hubbard Awards. That blew over and became the subject of funny anecdotes, as I expect this will too.

    Whatever happened to Dave Langford after he was kicked out of SF?

  22. Martin, you don’t seem sharp enough to grasp what is obvious to casual observers: Vox’s continual references to Scalzi are nothing more than payback. Vox didn’t start the war, Scalzi and company did, so they have only themselves to blame. If you poke the bear, don’t be surprised when the bear bites back. And in this case, the bear is playing the long game.

  23. Last year I gave the Puppy nominations a fair chance to be evaluated on their merits, and I was shocked: not by their politics (or lack thereof), but by the fact that none of their horses was fit to race. You may think there’s no such thing as an objective standard of literary quality, but it’s quite possible to tell the basic difference between competent writing and the stuff that isn’t. (Most of my fiction reading is fan fiction, and I *really* know a lot about bad writing, and about the difference between “bad, but I liked it” and “objectively well-crafted”.)

    The only Puppy nominations last year that I could call reasonably competent works of fiction are Correia’s novel and Dan Wells’ “The Butcher of Khardov”. They also read way too much like re-tellings of unfamiliar video games, and lack the most important quality Worldcon voters are looking for, world-building. They are, at best, B level works, not the kind of thing I think *anyone* would want associated with “Hugo Award Winning”.

    What really surprised and appalled me was that both of Brad Torgerson’s stories are shockingly badly-written and -edited with regard to basic grammar, punctuation, and sentence-structure. He consistently uses “Chesty and I” when he should have said “Chesty and me”; sentence fragments abound; he has occasional, random POV shifts; and then there are the infodumps, *so many* of them.

    I actually think “The Chaplain’s Legacy” contains the core of a good, interesting story that I’d like to read. But it could only get there after another couple of drafts under the whip of a stern yet understanding editor. As it is, I’m deeply shocked that it was professionally published, because its basic writing quality isn’t all that good for *fanfic*.

    Since Torgerson put together the SP3 slate, I feel safe dismissing it out of hand — he’s demonstrated that he doesn’t have the minimum level of competence at English-wrangling necessary to pick lists of “the best stories”.

    Under the “fool me twice, shame on me” principle, I don’t plan to read any Puppy-nominated work unless someone worth trusting recommends it to me. Last year I evaluated works “on their own merits”, and found myself reading stuff that, by objective standards, didn’t belong on the Hugo ballot. Frankly, it’s insulting, as though I can’t recognize English grammar or don’t consider it important enough to take into consideration. Or as though only members of the “literati” care about such things.

  24. xdpaul-I have never claimed this was a unique instance, I know that this system has been gamed repeatedly. My remarks have been made here because there have been attempts to claim that the SP/RP campaign is not “gaming the system” when it most clearly is just that.

    Doctor Science-you may or may not find my opinion worthy of consideration, but, for what it’s worth, I’ve read and enjoyed the stories by Andrews, Flynn and English and I’ve read an excerpt from the story by Bellet, enough of it to satisfy myself that it’s worth finishing and I’ll be buying the source publication at the earliest opportunity. I’m far too busy right now to dive into it and if I buy it now, I’ll start reading immediately. I know myself far too well. 🙂 Of course, I happen to like Andrews and Flynn. Your mileage may vary.

  25. Did you read that Internet book? Did you vote for it?

    Are you talking about “Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded?”

    I read enough of it to know that it wasn’t a) primarily science fiction nor b) worthy of an award.

    It did, however, have one chapter with a bunch of gay jokes, ones he’d already played out before his “40,000 readers” a day, according to the blurb. I believe it has sold a copy this year.

  26. Martin, you’ve got a bad copy of our handbook. For one thing, lies aren’t our thing – inefficient, diminishing returns and far too bloodless. Might you be thinking of secret assassinations? Still, that’s subsection 2 (2b. to be exact) under section 4 – Pre-rhetorical Activities. It follows section 2 – Daemon Summoning and comes right before section 5 – Execution (Both Kinds).

    Bullying is complicated work. Your error is understandable.

  27. ‘Are you talking about “Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded?”’

    ‘Wisdom From My Internet.’ Michael Z Williamson. Any good? Award worthy? Science fiction?

  28. I think it’s obvious that there was a conspiracy among the Puppies to deny Robert Heinlein his rightful due, by deliberately and consciously plotting to keep Bill Patterson’s second volume of RAH’s biography off the ballot.

    I don’t know whether it was a right-wing conspiracy, or perhaps even more likely, the result of those insidious leftists infiltrating the Puppies to make the Puppies look foolish, but the results make clear that whatever you say, the Puppies HATE ROBERT HEINLEIN.

    There’s simply no other explanation possible, other than a hidden conspiracy there is no evidence whatsoever of, is there?

    It’s not as if my reasoning is illogical, is it? Or at least, unprecedented?

  29. Nigel – I did not nominate. I didn’t have the time to read enough of the relevant material to consider that. I’m registered to vote, and I’ll read each work dispassionately. That is, of course, what you guys want, right?

  30. “That’s almost as apocalyptic as when the Hugos became the L Ron Hubbard Awards. That blew over and became the subject of funny anecdotes, as I expect this will too.”

    BATTLEFIELD EARTH was never even nominated for a Hugo, let alone won one. How, exactly, is Hubbard relevant here?

  31. xdpaul – I thought summoning Damien Walter was covered in appendix F. *checks manual* No, it’s right there, under otherworldly (extra-national) –


    Summoning *daemons*. *facepalm* OMG I am so bad at this. Maybe I’m not cut out to be an evil minion.

  32. ‘I’m registered to vote, and I’ll read each work dispassionately. ‘

    Cool. I’d be interested to read your assessment of that book in particular, because maybe I’m wrong, but it does not look… good.

  33. It’s a collection of blog posts, so I don’t know how to feel about it particularly. The only thing I can guarantee is that there’s something in there to offend everyone, because it’s Mad Mike.

    But hey, that’s not exactly unprecedented.

  34. Cherry-picking does not contribute to meaningful discussion, particularly cherry-picking works that you haven’t even read. Maybe it’s freaking hilarious. I dunno.

  35. Robert Reynolds:

    Given that I don’t know you from Og, I’m afraid your opinion isn’t worth much, at the moment. Saying that you’ve “read and enjoyed” certain stories tells me nothing. I’m not arguing that people didn’t read & enjoy Torgerson’s stories, or that they *shouldn’t* read & enjoy them. Remember, I read fanfic, I’ve got no problems with people (including me) reading & enjoying fiction that is, objectively, crap. Sturgeon’s Law, man.

    But when we’re talking awards like the Hugos, what I’d want to see before I trust someone’s opinion is that they have some kind of standard or basis for picking Sturgeon’s 10% non-crap. My great depth of experience with crappy amateur writing says that pervasive SPAG errors, POV problems, sentence fragments and other basic writing problems are a good way to filter out the bottom 50% (or more), on my quest to find the 10%.

    The fact that not all Puppy nominees last year passed the “no basic writing problems” screen demonstrated to me that either they literally don’t know bad writing when they see it, or that they weren’t actually trying to nominate fiction that they thought was really good.

  36. ‘Cherry-picking does not contribute to meaningful discussion, particularly cherry-picking works that you haven’t even read. Maybe it’s freaking hilarious. I dunno.’

    Honestly? This is coming across as a bit of a flaw in the full-throated support for the SP/RP slates as being undoubtedly meritorious.

  37. Dr Science – I vote for the first. While not entirely ruling out the second.

  38. “Honestly? This is coming across as a bit of a flaw in the full-throated support for the SP/RP slates as being undoubtedly meritorious.”

    Of 75 suggested nominations, 1 possibility that you haven’t read *might* not be up to snuff under a currently unestablished definition? That’s your argument?


    “The fact that not all Puppy nominees last year passed the “no basic writing problems” screen demonstrated to me that either they literally don’t know bad writing when they see it, or that they weren’t actually trying to nominate fiction that they thought was really good.”

    Response: “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love”

    That wretched piece of non-SFF tripe won a freaking Nebula. It was Hugo-nominated. Seriously, “basic writing flaws” covers a number of works from the last few years that were non-puppy. Saying that not every SP nomination isn’t strictly better than ever competing piece from every previous year isn’t even an argument. It’s barely am observation.

  39. ‘That’s your argument?’

    No. It’s an observation.

    ‘Response: “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love”’

    I’m sorry, it’s just not that bad. Neither was Redshirts. If they are the worst literary atrocities foisted on the Hugos then they are an argument that the field and/or the Hugos need to stretch themselves a bit. Neither were wretched and neither had any basic writing flaws as described above. They’re not even bad enough to be mediocre, they’re just… relatively safe and complacent. They opprobrium heaped on them by the SP/RPs simply doesn’t stick, and seems calculatedly overstated.

  40. S1AL:

    *Basic* writing flaws are the kind of thing that might be spotted by a computer program. Spelling, grammar, punctuation, occasional sentence fragments (*consistent* sentence fragments are a style choice), arbitrary POV shifts, tense shifts.

    Where do you see such problems in “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love”? Give examples, please.

    On last year’s Hugo short story ballot, I actually ranked “The Ink Readers of Doi Saket” below No Award, because I think it’s not sff. My review of “Dinosaur, My Love”:

    it becomes really a meta-story: it’s sf/f because it’s a story about how we use sf/f to help us deal with disappointing or terrible things in what is called “Real Life”.

  41. Dr Science:

    The First: “either they literally don’t know bad writing when they see it,”

    The Second “they weren’t actually trying to nominate fiction that they thought was really good.”

    Which aren’t mutually exclusive.

    I agree about the dinosaur story. It’s no abomination, it’s simply a moderately competent example of a commonplace literary type that isn’t in the SF or fantasy genre. For which reason it shouldn’t have been considered. The overreaction of the puppy contingent suggests they aren’t reading widely.

    I did regard the Ink Readers as a genre work, however.

  42. Lois:

    OK then, I agree with you. My possibility #2 was put in after I racked my brains for an explanation besides #1. If you can think of any other possibility, tell on!

  43. Doctor Strange – For clarification, are you expressly limiting “basic writing errors” to stuff caught by machines? I ask because I find the use of an obvious abstraction in place of a literal figure to be a very basic mistake, but if you simply mean orthographic errors and tense shifts, we’re using different terminology.

    Likewise, since you have asked me for specific examples, I would request the same. Given that I regularly catch errors in both ebooks and paper copies from every era of publishing, I would like to know what is so egregious as to be comment-worthy.

    And given that this was “short story” and not “related works,” I don’t consider a meta-story about sci-fi stories to qualify (not do I even consider this a story – at best a complex vignette).

  44. S1AL:

    Here’s the sort of thing I mean: In “The Exchange Officers”, Torgersen uses “Chesty and I” three different times when he should have written “Chesty and me”. He only uses “Chesty and me” once, and correctly.

    I don’t know if this particular basic grammar error would be caught by current grammar-checking software, but it *could* be. It would take more sophisticated software to check for sentence fragments and info-dumps, but it’s not beyond the bounds of possibility.

    the use of an obvious abstraction in place of a literal figure to be a very basic mistake

    If you’re talking about “the dinosaur story”, that was a literary *choice*, not a mistake.

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