Little Comments 8/30 Posted on August 30, 2016 by Mike Glyer Or big. It’s up to you. Share this:TwitterFacebook
That’s good news, I’ll definitely buy that again this year.
Over 9000 copies sold is quite respectable for the last year’s edition, especially considering it was indie published and nobody likes that SJW Hugo rubbish.
[sarcasm]It sold that many copies only because us SJWs were virtue-signalling, don’cha know?[/sarcasm]
I read the Dreamers, or tried to. They make Eddings’ earlier books look much better by comparison. The most entertaining part ended up being a sort of meta “spot the meta character from his earlier books” game. (Wow, it’s Smart sneaky snarky guy who looks like a weasel. And he’s been recruited by Ancient magic-wielding guy. etc)
If the Narnia and Wrinkle in Time stories don’t read preachy to kids who don’t already know enough about Christianity to recognize the elements, does the subsequent “ruining” by learning of the Christian elements lie with the writer, or the reader?
I think a lot of people have had the experience of reading the Narnia books without spotting the Christian elements, then discovering them, and getting the impression that this is what was meant to happen; you are lured in by a simple adventure story, and then told ‘ha ha, this is Jesus!’. But I don’t think that is really what’s meant to happen: certainly it was obvious to me from the start. My only mistake was in reading it as allegorical in a stricter sense than it is: I took it that Aslan’s activities in Narnia represented Jesus’ activities in this world, rather than being an actual exploration of how Jesus might manifest himself in other worlds if they existed.
And while the series certainly has preachy bits in it (quite a lot of The Dawn Treader, the unbelieving dwarfs (dwarves? I think it’s dwarfs) in The Silver Chair, most of The Last Battle), I don’t think as a whole it is preaching – it’s imaginatively exploring a a possibility, which happens to have a religious basis.
As for this new Wright series…there are many things I could say, but for now I’ll just say that it’s troubling that he hopes his new “YA” series will be like Alexander and Cooper’s series, which are both solidly Middle Grade. It makes me wonder if he knows that they aren’t YA.
I sympathise with you, but Mr Wright is far from being alone here. It is incredibly normal in fandom to use ‘YA’ to mean young people’s fiction generally. Harry Potter is YA, Narnia is YA, Joan Aiken is YA, Lemony Snicket is YA, the Newbery Medal is a YA award…
And now we have voted to have a YA not-Hugo, without, so far as I can see, having any clear idea what we mean by YA. (It doesn’t matter that we don’t know how to separate it form adult fiction; most of the time it’s clear, and when it isn’t voters can decide. But how to separate it from children’s fiction – and whether we want to – is much more of a mystery.)
Aaargh – I realise when I say ‘it was obvious to me from the start’, that could be read as claiming I’m cleverer than those who didn’t get it. Which I definitely don’t mean. Probably it depends on what background you come to it from. I just meant that the intended effect doesn’t depend on you not getting it.
Re Cherryh: Thanks for all the advice; I may check it out. But I was really asking from a Hugo point of view; I feel that to be a plausible Hugo candidate a series has either to be relatively short or to have relatively independent parts, which means it looks as if this one would have difficulty.
This is a bit of a pity, because a lot of very long series are very subgenreific (epic, urban, military), and might not appeal to Hugo voters for that reason, while this looks as if it would be in prime Hugo territory if it were not so long. (Another series of which that’s true is Steven Brust’s Vlad Taltos series, which I believe has a book coming out this year.)
I think the shoggoth might actually be Perry Rhodan.
You know, of course, that the Bobbsey Twins represented two thirds of the Trinity, and that…
Wait. Shoggoths follow a trail of Perry Rodan books? Okay, I’m totally confused now. From the time I worked in a book store, I’ve believed that shoggoths read Smith and poop Rodan. I really don’t know shoggoths at all. Unless they think they’re going to meet another shoggoth?
Narnia and Christianity: I was able, as a kid, to recognize some Christian allegory in the Narnia books right from the start. I think it was a relatively minor bit in The Silver Chair where I finally twigged that the author was trying to make Aslan a manifestation of Jesus. I think the overall effect of connecting the Bible with something everyone agreed was fantasy was to make me more atheist.
@Soon Lee: “[sarcasm]It sold that many copies only because us SJWs were virtue-signalling, don’cha know?[/sarcasm]”
Just what I was thinking. I’m still trying to work out exactly how someone knows I have an ebook or audiobook on my computer or even mobile device. I guess I go around with the e-cover showing and wave it in people’s faces as I walk to meetings at work. Or something.
@Lis Carey: I meant to say – the Narnia books weren’t ruined for me when I realized? was told? something? that it’s a Christian allegory.
@Various: I picked up on a few religious things in L’Engle (A Wrinkle in Time series) starting with the first book, but just mild things like things that seemed agents of the divine, god working through human agents via those agents, etc. I didn’t see the planet with “IT” as hell (didn’t Mr. Murray explicitly say something, effectively speaking for the author, about how people do evil all on their own? am I misremembering?). I don’t remember much about the second book and I’m not sure I ever finished the fourth book. Anyway, this didn’t hurt the books for me (granted, I may still have been Christian at the time); that’s simply the kind of story it was. If I find a good audiobook of them, I’ll probably re-read them in audio and enjoy them, as I did with the Narnia books. Hmm, I have some unused Audible.com credits! ::off to look:: ::downloading:: It looks like I have an older version on cassette somewhere, but I can’t really use a Walkman in the car 😉 so this’ll do.
Taking the question at face value and sincerely: supporting projects like this as a community is absolutely a form of communal signalling of values. To some extent, the whole kickstarter model is a way of asking the world at large, “Is this a thing that you value enough to have it happen in the world?” If getting a large enough group of people to say, “Yes, it is,” isn’t literal “virtue signalling”, then I don’t know what is.
I know that the inventors of the phrase “virtue-signalling” meant it to be derisory, but that doesn’t mean we have to reject the concept of publicly signalling what virtues we value. I’m willing to say outright that I supported/bought the Longlist Anthology specifically for the purpose of saying, “I think this is a good thing to have existing in the world whether it directly benefits me personally or not.” (And, in fact, given the length of my TBR list compared to my rate of progress, the chances of me reading anything in it that I hadn’t already read elsewhere is small.)
I never understood the christian allegory of the Narnia books when reading them. Only that last book was extremely boring and that I never read it again. Don’t think I read The Silver Chair more than once either.
So how about a kickstarter for light-up LED buttons that flash the word VIRTUE?
If you want a crawl that tells what particular virtues you’re signaling, that’s gonna cost a little bit more, but it’s doable.
That’s all true, but you’re missing the fact that shoggoths use Rhodan poo for guilty reading pleasure signalling.
Re Narnia: I was raised an atheist in a bohemian, communist family (you’ll see how this is relevant in a bit). I felt like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was so beautiful I could hardly stand it–I read these books when I was about 10 and fell in love with them. It was a problematic love from the beginning. I was not raised in a cultural vacuum, and I noticed the Christian elements right away, but I didn’t mind them in that book–people get to have the world view they have–and was only slightly irritated in the preachy parts that showed up in the other books except The Last Battle which I hated with a passion that is deep as deep. It was The Voyage of the Dawn Treader which felt like a direct attack on me and my people–Eustace’s uncle and aunt were presented as the model for nonconformity, and everything about their lives was held up for derogation and contempt (That Hideous Strength, which I read soon after because it was by the same fellow, was even more of an attack on everything not-Christian, not-correct-Christian, not-conservative British).
I also noticed racism both subtle and not subtle and condescension to girls and women both subtle and not subtle all through the books. The condescension towards girls and women was only like every book I ever read, though, so I was able to ignore it and get on with the beautiful landscapes and grand adventures. The racism was much more disturbing. I couldn’t ignore it, had to grit my teeth to keep reading.
I never understood the christian allegory of the Narnia books when reading them.
On the other hand, I felt like Lewis clubbed the reader over the head with it. Maybe I noticed because when I read it I was transitioning from living in very religious small-town rural Midwest living to being overseas in much less Christian Tanzania.
How about something like this? The message shows up only when you are–I donno, “moving goalposts”, or some other rhetorical metaphor implying movement.
Kip W on August 31, 2016 at 10:43 am said:
I think these people can help.
Hey, what’s wrong with Louis L’Amour? I still read them. My dad says their romance novels for men. I agree, and would add with a side of competence porn. But enjoyable light adventure fiction where good eventually wins. With likeable characters. Except the first Sackett book (internal chronology not published date). IMO he tried so hard to write in Elizabethan English that he forgot to include characterization.
My roommate and I read all the Pern books until the one about Robinton. The retconning in that one basically kills all of her other books. We learn there that women are harpers and always have been. That Robinton was a prodigy. And many more things that contradict actions and statements in the first Harper Hall trilogy, not to mention the entire plot of book two. As an adult, I became very uncomfortable with Menolly forgiving her mother for a deliberate act of long-term cruelty because her father was so hard to live with. It made me wonder about the author.
Spinning sticks have interested me since I first saw one, but I was thinking of something less vigorous, for social justice lazybones types. I saw a USB fan (in my search for a USB rechargeable fan for gym) that is also an analog clock, and I had to do a proper “Down, boy!” to check my enthusiasm.
Got those Evil Mad Scientists bookmarked. You never know when you’ll need one. Ah! Favorite Tick quote, portentiously delivered by newsman Brian Pinhead (it’s pronounced ‘pin-ADE’):
Kip, Kip, have you seen the new Tick pilot on Amazon? Starring Pete Sarafinowicz as the Big Blue One?
I have not, but am hoping to find a way. I dig Ben Edlund, I dig The Tick comics (original twelve issues) and animated series, and I dig Pete Sarafinowicz (especially in Look Around You and Shaun of the Dead).
I’ve looked at shoggoths from both sides now
From outside in and inside out
Squamous terror’s all I recall
I really don’t know shoggoths at all.
Oh and some Tick quoteage:
Oh, hi, I seem to have left some cues lying about… ah, good. They’ve been picked up.
Man, how quotable is The Tick, he asked rhetorically? “Yeah, I suck blood. I suck blood all the time!”
I miss Sam & Max, too, with the proviso they were always best on the page. Driving through Arizona, asleep, with the wheel lashed and a cinderblock on the gas pedal! Chasing a guy down the street, guns blazing, shouting, “Hey! Come back! We won’t hurt you! We just want to ask you some questions!” (Bonus: “Hey, kids! What happens to various fruits when you throw hammers at them? How can we find out?”)
ETA: “Good heavens, they’re throwing DOGS at us!”
I’m still holding out for an Apocalypse Cow series. (Six seasons and a movie!)
@msb: ‘All USian Filers are registered to vote, no?’
(This will again be USA-specific but non-partisan. We ask our international friends’ brief indulgence.)
Even if registered, I strongly recommend re-checking one’s voter registration well before each major election’s deadline — ensuring that you are listed and with the desired party preference. (Errors in the voter rolls have been known to occur, some accidental, some rather less so.)
For example, my state’s deadline for registering / changing registration in advance of the November 8th general election is October 24th, but check your local variant. Checking registration is IMO best done by Web-searching ‘[name of your county] vote register’, but one page claims to also be useful nationwide.
After that, do your chosen damage to the body politic, and then look to the skies^W^W Nate Silver.
Andrew M. – Yeah, I’ve noticed many people confuse them. I should get over it, but it still makes me cringe. 🙂
I am very curious about how it will be interpreted for that award. I’d rather just have an award for youth fiction, since that gets us away from the YA/Middle Grade confusion.
@Heather Rose Jones
Good point on supporting things and how that often also involves signaling support.
@msb and Rick Moen
Absolutely I’m registered and I voted in a local election in August so I know I’m still on the rolls. Speaking of “virtue signaling” I should make sure to get an I Voted sticker next time. 🙂
K8: The odd thing is that the various proposals didn’t all just say ‘YA’. In 2011 it said ‘YA and children’s’. In 2012 it just said ‘YA’, but in 2013 (which sparked off the process that finally lead to the award being approved) it said ‘Youth Book’. However, everyone constantly called it a YA proposal, obviously not seeing a difference.
I would just shrug, and say ‘Words mean what they are used to mean; if enough people use “YA” to mean ‘”young people’s fiction”, it does mean that’. But I’m afraid some of the impetus for this award comes from the rise of YA as a distinctive thing, and the development of a YA community, so there may be people who will be annoyed if it goes to MG/older children’s.
If someone in Helsinki proposed changing it to ‘youth fiction’ – which I think probably catches the intent of most of the proposers – would it count as a minor change?
My clear recollection is that Lewis drives home the latter interpretation with sledgehammer-like force in the final volume, which was exactly where my nine-year-old feckless heathen self said ‘Oh, right. Christian apologetics.’ I’d almost forgotten the hideous experience of being read Kingsley’s The Water Babies in the UK government school in Hong Kong, but suddenly remembered and re-recognised that Victorian wine even in its new, semi-paganistic bottle (i.e., Lewis’s steely-eyed mission to civilise us young monsters for king, country, and church).
Wasn’t it in Tolkien’s essay ‘On Fairy Stories’ where he observed that children can tell when they’re being patronised and preached at, and rightly put off by it? When I read that, I suspected he might have been thinking, in part, of his friend Mr Lewis.
It should be clear at least from the Dawn Treader (‘I have another name in your own world and I will meet you there’). I just meant that it isn’t obvious from TLTWTW alone. (Though the fact that people do go on interpreting it as strictly allegorical even after reading The Last Battle suggests the sledgehammer can’t have been powerful enough. I think some people are just using ‘allegory’ to mean ‘thing like Narnia’, but others actually present equivalences. And admittedly some isolated passages in the later books are allegorical.)
I just meant that it isn’t obvious from TLTWTW alone.
For me, the fact that Aslan offered himself as a sacrifice to atone for the sins committed by a Son of Adam, and was mutilated and killed, only to return the next day with the dawn seemed like a pretty obvious allegory.
@JJ: So us and Ann Leckie were the only… amateur, as it were, parks. The bids kind of would have been required to. So we and Leckie are teh awsum. 🙂
I voted in June and have double-checked my registration and even have the county mail me the actual cardstock postcard with my info on. Yes, I am a card-carrying SJW! The only drawback of voting absentee is that you don’t get the sticker.
There are so many, many reasons to hate “The Last Battle”.
For me, the fact that Aslan offered himself as a sacrifice to atone for the sins committed by a Son of Adam, and was mutilated and killed, only to return the next day with the dawn seemed like a pretty obvious allegory.
Yes, that’s what I said. From TLTWTW alone, it’s natural to read it as a simple allegory, not as what it actually is, an exploration of how Jesus might manifest himself in other worlds.
Christianity was never that near to me. Can’t remember anyone religious in family or friends. There was some stuff in first grade about Jesus and some psalms sung, but it was mostly as just another fairy tale. Like reading Thousand and One Nights. So no, no understanding of Narnia as a christian allegory.
@ Andrew M
My impression (for what that’s worth) from this year’s business meeting was that part of the benefit of framing the YA not-a-Hugo as a separate conceptual thing, was that its nature could then be defined by the nominations rather than having to try to define it by necessary and sufficient conditions. To some extent, the definition of “series” has some of the same flaws and virtues. If enough people think something is YA/a series to nominate it onto the ballot, then that defines the category.
Regarding the Best Series Hugo, my own concept will probably be something along the lines of “a set of books that are not only thematically connected by setting and characters, but where a story arc defined by the series as a whole is clearly present and complete, and is larger than the sum of its parts.” But that’s just my personal definition that will be applied to how I nominate and vote.
Completely independent observation: I love parenthetical comments. Originally that second paragraph was entirely parenthetical. I have created a rule for myself that any time the parenthetical material is as long as, or longer than, the original statement, it becomes main-text. This last paragraph could have been parenthetical, but I decided against it.
Yeah, I had no clue that Narnia was Christian allegory when I read it. But then I didn’t actually know much about Christianity at the time. It wasn’t something my parents paid much attention to one way or the other. (Not even to rail against. Mild snarking was the most they’d usually muster.) I didn’t even realize that beliefs in gods was still a thing people did till I was about 8. Up till then, I thought it was a quaint, historical thing, like phlogiston or the four humors.
Bottom line, though, I simply wasn’t familiar enough with Christian beliefs to spot them. (Their stories weren’t particularly entertaining, unlike, say, stories of the Greek or Norse gods.) Even after it was pointed out, I still had to have it explained, before it made any sense to me. And even then, I remained dubious until I learned more about Lewis himself. 🙂
I didn’t recognize Christianity in Narnia, and I went to Sunday school for a time and had a horrifying (in retrospect) series of illustrated Bible stories. I was simply not that deep a reader and took the stories at face value.
I remember feeling betrayed by The Last Battle.
@ Andrew M, re series: I am frankly delighted to see a series award in the Dragon Awards — and that S.M. Stirling’s latest Changed World novel was one of the nominees. That’s only one of several series whose books consistently blow me away, but I hesitate to nominate them for a Hugo because most of the time you have to have read at least the 2 or 3 previous books in the series to fully appreciate why the current one is so good, and that’s a burden I’m reluctant to put on Hugo readers. But if Dragon nominators are just nominating the most recent book in a series, I’ll be right in there next year with Prince of Outcasts and Once Broken Faith (the new Toby Daye) and the upcoming Raksura novel and and and…
Toby Daye totes deserves to be in Best Series at some time. It’s one of the few I actually buy in paperback. Also Rivers of London. And I would have loved to have voted for Glamourist Histories.
Andrew M: ‘youth fiction’ – which I think probably catches the intent of most of the proposers
I think you are mistaken. My impression is that the vast majority of people who supported this award, like me, really mean “YA”, not middle-grade, and not children’s fiction.
Ultimately, of course, it will be decided by the nominators and then the voters. If a bunch of kids’ fiction makes it onto the ballot, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that a lot of members would NA those entries because they expect it to be for YA. Or they may happily give one a rocket.
@ StephenfromOttawa: I was a little older than a kid and not entirely uncritical; IIRC, I read about the first half-dozen Gor books, until I noticed that (1) they all had exactly the same plot* and (2) the only one that had any actual SF in it was Priest-Kings of Gor. I was fascinated by the alien Priest-Kings, and very disappointed when they disappeared after that one book.
* Which is not to say that this is an invariable indicator of a bad book; every Regency romance has pretty much the same plot, after all. But what saves them is good characters**, and that’s where the Gor books fell flat.
** Which is why I like Georgette Heyer and a couple of other Regency writers, and won’t bother with most of the rest. Formulaic Regency with cardboard characters is no better than formulaic mystery with cardboard characters (Cat Who, I’m looking at you).
@ Lis: Thanks for the warning about the Farley books, although I had already figured that was likely to be the case. I never had any interest in the movie once I noticed that they had cast a 6-year-old kid to play Alec Ramsay, who is a teenager in the first book; that went straight into “hang by the neck until dead” territory.
@ lurkertype: The summer I was 14 I went thru every single Perry Mason book in my local library (about 2.5 shelves’ worth IIRC). I have never had the slightest interest in reading another Perry Mason story again. The only difference between one Perry Mason book and another one is whether or not there’s a pre-trial hearing, and reading them all one after the other like that completely burned me out.
I don’t feel “guilty” about any of the stuff I’ve read, though. Yeah, I read some clinkers when I was growing up, but isn’t that supposed to be part of the process?
lurkertype: Toby Daye totes deserves to be in Best Series at some time.
I would totally second that. Seanan McGuire somehow managed to make me enjoy both mythic fantasy and urban fantasy — and that is sayin’ something.
Did I read McCaffrey’s, Stitch in Snow?
I think I’m taking the Fifth on that one.
My MACII photos are here. Lots of costumes, because that’s what I tend to take photos of. Lots of shots of the LEGO table as it developed over the weekend. A picture of Ann Leckie that’s remarkably similar to JJ’s. Etc.
@ Cassy: I once read The Betsy from cover to cover, because I was babysitting and there was literally no other reading matter in the house except that day’s newspaper — no books, no magazines, no coffee-table books, not even a church newsletter. These were well-to-do, college-educated, middle-class people. I’ve often wondered how their kid(s) turned out.
@ BigelowT: I read some Bobbsey Twins, quite a lot of Nancy Drew (I think I had the first 50-odd titles unbroken when I finally sold them off in the late 90s), bounced off Hardy Boys but had much better luck with Tom Swift, and by then I was getting past the primary audience age for teen serials.
@ Lis: A similar question can be asked about people for whom discovering the flaws in Libertarianism as a dogma causes certain Heinlein books to get massive visits from the Suck Fairy. The material was there all along, but the reader has to have a certain level of knowledge to notice it.
@ Kendall: Oh ghod, McCaffrey’s mundane romances! I don’t remember much about Stitch in Snow, but Ring of Fire felt TMI to me — as if I was finding out more than I wanted to know about the author’s personal kinks. (Which may just have been her being a good writer and kink-aware, but still.) Also, it was already dated when I ran into it; the whole “OMG I was raped so I’m not a virgin so now I can’t get married” thing was totally WTF by the late 80s. Yes, that’s a content warning; there are flashbacks.
@ HRJ: I was thinking about this just the other day, and the answer I came up with was this. “Virtue-signaling”, as it is commonly used by the alt.right crowd, has a very strong connotation of falsehood; it’s related to the way a lot of Trumpettes defend their racism by claiming that they’re “only saying what everybody else thinks but is afraid to say out loud”. If you’re virtue-signaling, you don’t genuinely believe or have an interest in whatever — you’re just trying to curry favor with the people who do. I have concluded that when you DO believe or have an interest or whatever, what you are doing instead is identity-signaling. And that’s why I don’t use the term “virtue-signaling” to describe the Puppies; I believe that they genuinely hold the opinions they voice and back the actions they back, and are therefore identity-signaling. They think we don’t.
@ Kip: Already available. This one will display up to 20 different messages of up to 120 characters each, and is cheap enough to be an impulse purchase.
@Andrew M: Oh, certainly if I had been familiar with Christian apologetics and tropes, when I encountered Lewis’s Narnia series as a young’un, I would have spotted all manner of clues from book one onwards. All I can say, by way of excuse, is that I had no background in that, and didn’t paid much attention to it until many years later when I decided that I needed to try to understand such things (basic cultural literacy). I.e., basically, yeah, some of us really do grow up that clueless. ;->
I am a Christian, and I hated The Last Battle. Or at least most of it. I was startled to discover when I was 13 or so that I had completely adopted its view of heaven as a place much like earth, but better and brighter and good. I still rather like that view, in preference to the streets of gold and harps imagery. Ugh. But of course it’s impossible to know. (Okay, I am actually an agnostic sort-of Christian. But whatever. (I like parentheticals, too.))