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?


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.


477 thoughts on “Furface Tension 6/26

  1. Lis, I am so sorry to hear of your double loss. Best wishes for getting through this tough time, and our sincere condolences.

  2. the arc bending toward mediocrity exhibited in recent Hugo results.

    This is a pretty standard tactic I see employed all the time by conservatives. Assert something that, at best, is completely unproven, and usually just plain wrong, and then proceed as if it;s an established fact that ‘we all know’.

  3. Brian Z said: “I don’t mind if EPH is passed, although I think it might accelerate the arc bending toward mediocrity exhibited in recent Hugo results. I’m hoping that people think about what they are doing carefully before voting for and (especially) ratifying EPH, and also that the conversation about EPH reach eyeballs at a variety of fora that are frequented by a variety of diverse fen (puppies, Whovians, whoever).”

    I think at this point people have hashed out the subject pretty thoroughly. The people inclined to agree with you that there is an “arc bending toward mediocrity” have already made up their minds, and everyone who liked the recent Hugo winners is probably insulted by your attitude towards their tastes and judgment, which is highly unlikely to render them inclined to consider sympathetically anything you have to say. Again, I recommend strongly that you take a good long period away from the keyboard to see if you can’t find a way to discuss the issue without expressing some form of disdain for the people you are trying to persuade, and to drop the issue if you can’t do so.

    “Of course, I’d also be gratified if someone would answer my own concerns that I’ve raised here and there, but that’s not so important in the grand scheme of things.”

    Does that seem likely at this point, Brian? You’ve been dismissed by most of the posters as a willful troll that they have no further interest in engaging with. Assuming this doesn’t tell you something about the concerns that you’ve raised, which it probably should if this many total strangers are telling you that they have no merit and that keeping up with them is just rudeness for its own sake…do you really think that a group of people dismissing you as a troll are likely to come up with an answer to your concerns that you think is valid at this late stage in events?

    Let it go. There are plenty of other things you can discuss, and at this point I think it’s pretty safe to say that you will get no further traction no matter what your next post contains. This isn’t worth it for you or anyone else.

  4. “The arc bending toward mediocrity” led me to Ancillary Justice. Mediocre as it is, it kicks hell out of everything I’ve read from the Puppy slates.

  5. “The arc bending toward mediocrity” led me to Ancillary Justice. Mediocre as it is, it kicks hell out of everything I’ve read from the Puppy slates.

    After reading the sample excerpt of Ancillary Sword in the Hugo packet, I went to the library and got Ancillary Justice AND Sword and am currently finishing Sword before I go back and read Justice. So very mediocre…

  6. For God’s sake, it’s an ARC, people! The occurrence of non-mediocre works merely proves that it’s bendy! If You Were An Arc Bending Towards Mediocrity, My Love….

  7. Lis Carey I’m sorry, for some reason I missed your announcement. It wasn’t so long ago I lost my mother. I only know of you through your blog, but still, you have my deepest sympathies.

    @Nigel “For God’s sake, it’s an ARC, people! The occurrence of non-mediocre works merely proves that it’s bendy!”

    “It’s a big arc of wibbly wobbly, arcy-warcy…stuff”

    Who fandom: it’s really one of the longest-lasting and enthusiastic fandoms I’ve seen over the last several decades. It’s had as much of a cultural impact as Star Trek, IMO, with a much larger literary tradition (due to the NewWho adventures keeping the flame going after cancellation). So yeah, I don’t see anything out of the ordinary with their nominations.

    Also, based on some of what I’ve been hearing in the Who community, if Moffat keeps going the way he is, multiple Who nominations probably won’t be a problem in the future. Unless the Puppies give him bad ideas.

  8. @Rose Embolism:

    Eh. I hear Doctor Who fans moaning that Moffatt has ruined everything by introducing over the top Mary Sue characters and ridiculous plots and I look back at things like Rose Tyler and “Fear Her” and think, are you kidding me? It’s exactly as awful as it has ever been, and exactly as brilliant.

  9. I’m completely unsurprised that Brian Z approves of the 4/6 plan; without EPH, 4/6 is almost completely ineffectual against slates, and with EPH, the voting experts told us on Making light that 4/6 (slightly) diminishes EPH’s slate-negating powers. Not by much, but it might allow an extra slate work on the ballot occasionally.

    But 4/6 does look like it would help against slates, if you haven’t been immersed in the math and the simulations. So anybody who is a fan of slates but wants to appear to oppose them would be cheering on 4/6 and making vague allegations against EPH to spread FUD. A slate-lover’s best outcome would be no change, but that’s unlikely. Their second best would be 4/6, and their third best would be 4/6 plus EPH. What a slate-lover cannot allow to happen is plain old EPH.

  10. @Nigel

    For a moment I was wondering why you were singling out Advance Reader Copies as being bendy when I realised what you were talking about.

    Man it promises to be an interesting Monday.


    It’s been pointed out to you previously as what you see as an “…arc bending toward mediocrity exhibited in recent Hugo results” is more accurately described by *everyone* else as works that you don’t like winning (not getting nominated – I don’t think you’ve got any issues with the prior nominees as a whole).

    Also, your understanding of what EPH does is incorrect/ misleading, as is your attempt to portray the Dr Who fandom as running a slate for the last few years. Right now you sound like some tinfoil-hatted theorist who sees conspiracies everywhere, and thinks that evidence is for other people to disprove you assertions.

  11. Lis: I am also very sorry to hear about your losses–please do whatever is best for you!

  12. mk41: If the slates don’t “sweep the ballot in the novel category” I don’t count that as a win. They didn’t sweep the novel category this year either.

    Richard Brandt: They took all but one slot, though. They only have two slots now because nominees either declined or withdrew.

    We don’t actually know. Both Kloos and Correia declined Best Novel nominations — Correia before the announcement. So we don’t know which novel moved onto the ballot to replace his. Torgersen — the Rabid Puppy nominee which didn’t make the ballot — has said that he did not turn down a nomination. Gannon — the Sad Puppy nominee which didn’t make the ballot — has never said anything other than expressing general disappointment about the clash within fandom (which is pretty characteristic for him; he’s an extremely rational guy whose writing displays what would be considered both conservative and liberal views, likely meaning he’s a moderate).

    So until the statistics are released after the ceremony, we’re not going to know how many slots the Puppies initially took.

  13. JJ: “Torgersen — the Rabid Puppy nominee which didn’t make the ballot — has said that he did not turn down a nomination.”

    It brings a tear to my eye when you don’t accept solid factual evidence presented on this blog. If you don’t, who will?

    It’s not only that Torgersen said he was not contacted about a nomination. It’s also that I have authoritative confirmation that I identified all the Puppies who did turn down nominations and he wasn’t one of them.

  14. Mike Glyer: It’s also that I have authoritative confirmation that I identified all the Puppies who did turn down nominations and he wasn’t one of them.

    Sorry if I missed that. How did you get that authoritative confirmation?

  15. JJ: The state of affairs immediately after the Hugos were announced was that Correia and Matthew David Surridge went public about declining. The Hugo administrator told me there were three declined nominations in total but he did not disclose the name of the third.

    I deduced that the third decliner was either Torgersen or Edmund Schubert (who was on the slates, and I knew IGMS had gotten enough votes to be nominated before being ruled ineligible as a semiprozine). I contacted them for a statement and they each kindly responded. The result was this post.

  16. I apologize for being dense, but how could IGMS decline a nomination when they were ineligible to begin with?

  17. JJ: Well, that’s a good scientific question. I don’t know why they were allowed to announce it as a withdrawal, though I do know that in any dispute the easiest resolution is to allow a willing party to voluntarily leave the field.

  18. Which leaves us with: Either Ancillary Sword or The Goblin Emperor received enough nominations to be on the ballot in spite of the slates, since they were on the ballot as initially announced. We just don’t know which one. The other moved up when Correia declined his nomination. And Three-Body Problem moved up when Kloos withdrew.

  19. @Richard, not necessarily

    The positions as per the ballots were not known when Correia withdrew – it hadn’t been released yet. It’s possible that his withdrawal just let another Puppy through, and that both TGE and AS were already on the ballot.

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