New Award Proposal at Black Gate

Jay Maynard has proposed “An Award for SF Storytelling” in a post on Black Gate, essentially the anti-Hugos, copying many of the existing Hugo categories and rules but purified of the tendencies Maynard disapproves.

The rationale for the (insert name here) Awards is simple. Over time, the Hugo voters have considered other factors than the most fundamental when evaluating a work. They have chosen works based on their political emphasis, or the race or nationality of the author, or other criteria aside from that which defines SF/F. Attempts to turn the Hugo Awards back to the foundations of SF/F have been met with derision and outright hatred. Despite their previous claims to the contrary, the Hugo Awards voters and others now say that the Hugos represent the World Science Fiction Society’s choices, not those of fandom at large.

The Novelette category would be eliminated, with short fiction receiving just two awards in the new system. There would be no editor or semiprozine categories. On the other side of the ledger, there would be a new YA Story category – one category for all lengths.

  • Best Novel – Written SF/F stories of 50,000 words or more in length.
  • Best Novella – Written SF/F stories between 5,000 and 50,000 words in length.
  • Best Short Story – Written SF/F stories 5,000 words in length or shorter.
  • Best Young Adult Story – Written SF/F stories of any length intended to be accessible to and enjoyed by SF/F fans under 18 years of age.
  • Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form – Any SF/F story intended to be performed for an audience of over 90 minutes in length.
  • Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form – Any SF/F story intended to be performed for an audience in 90 minutes or less.
  • Best Graphic Story – Works of graphic art, with or without accompanying text, that tell an SF/F story.
  • Best Related Work – Any nonfiction or fiction work that is not itself a work of SF/F storytelling, but serves to advance the SF/F storyteller’s art.

Although he would make a logical ally for a new set of sf awards, none of Eric Flint’s suggestions for adjusting the novel category have been adopted — not that there’s anything keeping them from being considered in a later draft.

In the nominating phase, Maynard will implement the 4/6 and E Pluribus Hugo proposals given first passage at Sasquan. Then comes a most interesting twist — the finalists will be screened by a Judging Committee.

The judges shall evaluate each work solely by its storytelling. The judges may disqualify any work they find to have an emphasis on other than telling a good SF/F story. They may disqualify no more than three nominees in any category. The disqualified nominees will be replaced by reprocessing the nominating ballots from the beginning as though those nominees had never been submitted; the judges may not disqualify the replacement nominees. This power is expected to be used very sparingly, as the awards are intended to reflect the choices of fandom at large….

The Judging Committee shall consist of no more than five members. They shall be chosen by the Foundation Board of Directors, and selected for their knowledge of the fields of science fiction and fantasy and their commitment to uphold the ideals of the (insert name here) Awards. They may serve as long as they and the Foundation Board of Directors wish.

The final ballot will be voted on by the Single Transferable Vote method (which some traditionalists like to call “the Australian Ballot”).

Unlike the Hugo Awards, there will be no provision for No Award. (Take that, WSFSians!)

The awards will be administered by a nonprofit corporation with a 501(c)(3) tax exemption.

The voter eligibility rules seem difficult to reconcile with Maynard’s goal of truly representing all of fandom. To become an eligible voter for Maynard’s awards, a person must be vouched for by one or more existing eligible voters with sufficient status. A voter must have a “trust level of 1 or greater” —

When first registering to vote, a person’s trust level is 0. An existing eligible voter whose trust level is 3 or greater may raise or lower the trust level of up to three other people by 1 each, and this number rises by 1 with each additional trust level until a maximum of a trust level of 10 is reached. The undersigned, as well as prior recipients of a (insert name here) Award and current and past members of the Foundation Board of Directors and Judging Committee, may raise or lower the trust level of any person by 1. A voter may not raise the trust level of anyone who raised his own, nor of anyone in the chain of trust leading back to those holding unlimited trusting privileges.

What could be more welcoming?

Maynard still needs a name for his proposed awards, though he did express a preference:

Part of me wants to name it after Terry Pratchett and have the award be a silver asterisk on a nice mahogany base or some such, just to throw the asterisks back in David Gerrold’s face, but not only do I not know how Sir Terry would take it, the name would get people away from thinking about SF as well. I also want this to not be a Puppy thing, and that would detract from that.

Yes, it might. Have any successful awards been built on a revenge platform?


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624 thoughts on “New Award Proposal at Black Gate

  1. Wildcat: Boy, #1 was rough. The writing style has much improved since then. Do not start with #1 if you’ve never read the Reacher books before.

    Kurt Busiek: This apparently applies to me. I have the first Reacher novel and made it about halfway down the first page before stopping, thinking, “I can’t read this. What on Earth are all those people going on about?”

    Yeah, it’s one of the few series I recommend to friends to start reading with any book except the first (these days I suggest One Shot since that’s what the Tom Cruise movie was adapted from). Book 1 is very choppy.

  2. @Chris S: Thank you for saying: He actually hasn’t read Lock In, so is getting hung up about the unspecified gender of the lead character. Who is, of course, completely paralyzed, unable to speak, and interacts through a mechanical body. I believe that the human body is only shown in one brief scene.

    I admit that I assumed throughout the novel which I thoroughly enjoyed that the narrator was male because the vast majority of Scalzi’s narrators are male (Zoe’s Tale being the standout exception in my mind), and because as others have said, I tend to default to the male as standard character because so many are.

    And I had to go back and re-read when I picked up from something Scalzi said on his blog that neither sex nor gender was specified–and it wasn’t (I didn’t notice any awkwardness). And I was quite taken with thinking about why–coming to the conclusion that one reason was Chris’ young age when contracting the disease and becoming “locked in” and starting a life of physical paralysis and use of the mechanical body. Although studies have shown adult humans interact diffrently with even very young infants based on the assumed or identified sex (same baby dressed in blue or pink treated very differently), I doubt many of us consciously remember much of what happens before three or four. I suspect that the stereotype of people with physical disabilities as not having “normal” bodies might have played some part in my overlooking the lack of clearly identified sex or gender as well. I think it’s only one scene….may have to re-read! It’s fascinating and sneaky (in a good way!).

    But reading everybody’s comments, especially about the casting, I kept thinking, casting is not going to be that much of an issue for the very reasons you give here. But when the discussion continued, I started wondering if I was misremembering!

  3. I haven’t read Lock In yet, but I would probably assume Chris spelled that way was male unless something in the narrative suggested otherwise. Similarly, I would assume a Kris was female. I think that’s pretty random, though — just based on people I happen to have known,

    Re: Secret Majority

    This was also a misapprehension Gamergate worked under; they thought they represented the majority of gamers, whereas the majority of gamers probably hadn’t heard of them and was none too fond of them even when they had.

    There is a human tendency to assume that your personal circle is more representative than it might really be, which the Internet probably intensifies.

    So, you know, you hang out at Baen’s Bar and there’s a certain set of books and stories that all the other Barflies are all talking about, and you assume that this is really it, the really real fandom, and yet your faves never seem to win Hugos, so CONSPIRACY. But if you’re me (for example) you never go to Baen’s Bar at all and don’t even know it exists until this whole puppy thing.

    The 2004 presidential election (not to mention the relative commercial failure of the Serenity movie) taught me never to assume that my own circle — no matter how passionate they are, or how numerous they seem — are really the majority.

    Cat’s Storytelling Awards sound like fun. They also sound like the MTV Movie Awards, so there’s precedent.

  4. I have a question for those of you who didn’t notice the unspecificity of the gender of the Lock In protagonist. Did you envision Chris as male or female? (No big deal, just kind of curious since I had read about the “gimmick” before reading the book.)

    Male. And I’m female, if that matters. And reading here in the past day or so is the first time I realized Chris’ gender was never specified. I’m stunned at how unobservantly I must have been reading. I suppose Chris’ cop role biased me toward thinking of him as male, based on cop shows.

  5. Casting for Lock In – yeah I’m sure that’d be a problem because I’ve never heard any of these complaints about books made into movies:
    1. Changed POC to white person
    2. Changed woman to man
    3. Changed all sorts of stuff about main character
    4. Changed all sorts of stuff about other characters
    5. Stayed true to the book
    6. Had any problem filming supernatural creatures or aliens

    Based on all of the above and other comments made here I don’t think any producers or directors would have any problem figuring out how to film an ungendered character.

  6. Where does this idea come from, that this small minority must be negotiated and compromised with?

    White male privilege? Hugo’s won’t survive if we keep locking certain types of white menz out so of course we need to negotiate with them. The fact that we’ve never locked them out is one they are unable to believe no matter what facts we show. It’s part of the U.S. culture war language and belief in my experience.

  7. I love how Puppies conflate “being banned from something” with “flounced off” and even “flounced off after repeatedly being proven wrong about facts, not opinions”.

    So Tron Guy has a very poor imagination? I suspect he didn’t actually read “Lock In”, just heard about the gender-neutrality long AFTER the book was published. Judging by the descriptions of Mom and Dad, Meat Body Chris is a lighter skinned African-American. However, Chris’ threeps (owned and rented) were all described lovingly, with base color and contrasting pin-striping and everything, like cars. Every time a new threep had to happen, there was a detailed description, and that’s what Chris looks like in that scene. And I do think it’s a gender-neutral name; I recall the time I introduced my friend (female) Chris to other friend (male) Chris. They remembered each other’s name after that. 🙂 You can’t go by behavior, either — Chris’ partner is obviously a woman, but is tough and snarky like your typical world-weary and wisecracking male detective of yore. Even if Chris is a dude, he’d be less macho than the partner.

    (The only thing that annoyed me was that this tech was only being used for Haden’s. You can’t tell me there aren’t plenty of quadriplegics who’d risk the brain surgery to be able to operate a threep body. Maybe in a sequel?)

    If Tron Guy needs over-egged descriptions of characters’ looks and strictly gendered roles, I would suggest low-end romance. Except, girl cooties.

    Westerns? Manly men, womanly women, race/hair/eyes/build described for everyone, good vs. evil clearly marked, tough lone straight white men taming rough terrain and fighting aliens. Yep. He needs to read classic Westerns, there won’t be anything there beyond his comprehension.

    I LOL as his grandiose scheme gets ever more impractical. He’s an ideas man! Now he’s proposing setting up booths at a bunch of cons for sign ups? Who’s gonna volunteer to man those from 10AM-6PM for 2-5 days straight, and who’s gonna pay their expenses? Con membership, booth space (although they could possibly snag fan tables… however, those fill up months in advance), air/car fare, hotel, food, parking, display stuff for the booth. That’s a bunch of money. And then thinking that bookstores and the nebulous (heh) other events will go along with this.

    But this is par for the course with Puppies. Like thinking that a con which is younger and more female and less likely to consume their SF in written form is going to be all gung-ho about books that hearken back to the days before the membership was born and contain few decent female characters. A younger audience is also much less likely to be religious and more likely to have friends who don’t have the same skin color and aren’t straight. The [INSERT] awards are no “Orphan Black”, that’s for sure.

    No wonder Pups like (some) SF. They live in a counterfactual world.

  8. rrede: I admit that I assumed throughout the novel which I thoroughly enjoyed that the narrator was male because the vast majority of Scalzi’s narrators are male (Zoe’s Tale being the standout exception in my mind), and because as others have said, I tend to default to the male as standard character because so many are.

    I read Unlocked (the prequel) before I read Lock In. One of the characters in Unlocked is Chris’s father, [former NBA star and Basketball Hall of Famer] Marcus Shane, whose ethnicity is never specified, but my assumption was that he was a POC (because basketball).

    My assumption in Lock In was that Chris was a male POC, because 1) I haven’t ever known any females who went by Chris (just Christie, Christy, Kris, Krissy, etc), and because 2) while numerous people in the book throw insults at Chris, none of them ever throws the sort of insults that women typically get — about being fat, or ugly, or needing to stay home and cook and clean, or not being capable of doing a “man’s job”.

    So when Scalzi pointed out that Chris’ gender had never been specified, my reaction was “huh, isn’t it funny how we paint our own preconceptions onto characters in the stories we read? let me think about why I made the choices I did; let me think about how I might have viewed the story differently if I had assumed Chris was female”.

    It didn’t make me angry or stupid, or feel that I was duped — it just gave me some interesting material for reflection. I mean, how powerful is that — recognizing that I assumed that a character must be male because they never got the usual sexist/misognist insults thrown at them???

    And yes, if there is any message in Lock In, it’s about how people treat those with disabilities. The fact that Maynard is claiming that the book’s (along with Ancillary Justice) message is about gender just illustrates how he is willing to make a fool of himself by publicly pronouncing judgments on things about which he is utterly clueless.

  9. I have a question for those of you who didn’t notice the unspecificity of the gender of the Lock In protagonist. Did you envision Chris as male or female? (No big deal, just kind of curious since I had read about the “gimmick” before reading the book.)

    I believe a number of studies in the U.S. have been done which show if gender & race are not described the majority of readers will default to white male. This is true regardless of the readers gender and race.

    This question came up on Scalzi’s blog after the book was out. What was interesting was for those who heard the book in audio as it had 2 versions – one with a woman and the other with a man. In the case of the audio I believe more people gendered based on the narrator but I want to say it was closer to 75% but it’s been a year since those discussions so I could be off on the percents and it was people who comment on his blog.

  10. JJ: Well, the thing Jay’s famous for already proved he’s willing to make a fool of himself, years ago.

    I like Cat’s ideas as well. I’d definitely read something that had Best Ending. It works for the MTV Movie Awards, which are voted on by a lot of people.

    I suspect TV Series Agent Chris Shane would be a guy, because TV cop show.

  11. On LOCK IN:

    I actually knew about the gimmick going into the book, but despite knowing the character was deliberately unspecified as to gender/sex, I consistently imagined Chris as female.

    Largely, I assume, because if you’re going to go to the trouble of hiding something, the dramatically-interesting answer isn’t “oh, it was the default all along.” In ANANSI BOYS, virtually everyone’s black, but they’re not specified as such. Had they been white, not specifying wouldn’t have been unusual or notable. So my mind is conditioned to think, “Oh, you’re not telling me this? Then the answer’s interesting.” And being female isn’t particularly “more interesting” than male, but it’s not the default, so that’s where my mind goes when I know I’m not being told.

    Then again, maybe it’s because I have four sisters and two daughters…

  12. Isn’t it a waste of time to argue with people about books they haven’t read? One of the most annoying things about the puppies is the criticism of Ancillary Justice by people who haven’t read it or only read the free preview. Leckie is the first new American science fiction author that I have been excited by in the past couple years.

  13. Jay really doesn’t like us discussing his ideas over here. I think it’s jealousy because there are so many more comments here than on his blog post.

    Also did anyone else notice the lack of skaters/puppies in the comments on his blog? The only people commenting, and many had good suggestions/points, were anti-slate.

    Loved Cats ideas and looks like she is talking to someone about possibly doing something to make them happen. Jay has agreed not to be included. My linking to specific comment fu stinks but it can be found somewhere around #140.

  14. Lurkertype: The only thing that annoyed me was that this tech was only being used for Haden’s. You can’t tell me there aren’t plenty of quadriplegics who’d risk the brain surgery to be able to operate a threep body. Maybe in a sequel?

    It’s been a while since I read Lock In, but I seem to remember a throwaway, somewhere, about how the various companies that made the technology would love to market to people other than Haden’s but couldn’t because the law wouldn’t let them (yet); I think it was one of the justifications for the bill cutting funding? Or something like that? It is relatively new technology, after all–even Chris Shane has only been locked in for about 20-25 years–so people are probably still considering how to expand the use of it. I also seem to remember that the elderly were mentioned as a particularly attractive potential market . . . so maybe Scalzi does have something in mind, for the future. (So to speak.)

  15. I keep reading that Auxiliary Justice Is message fiction. What exactly is the message? Something something gender?

  16. WAIT a minute…

    …WHO exactly has the legitimacy to be the root of this proposed “Web of Trust”, the one with the power to decide about the trust levels of other people?

    Obviously, it needs to be someone who ISN’T a professional writer (conflict of interest); and it needs to be somebody who reads widely in the genre (…so that lets out most Puppies…).

    Seriously, though – who has the credibility to be Root in this web of trust?

    Logically, it should be the survivors of First Fandom. Failing that, it should be fans who actually read contemporary SFF. Right?

    But Maynard? the guy who doesn’t bother to read recent Hugo-nominated novels?

    I have trouble seeing how Maynard qualifies for the post, given that there are literally thousands of people who aren’t Maynard WHO ACTUALLY READ CONTEMPORARY SFF.

  17. Okay, I finished the Liu Cixin novelette, “Mountain“, in the new issue of Apex. It…doesn’t make me want to rush out and read the Three-Body Problem. The plot amounts to a framing device for an infodump. The infodump itself is not devoid of interest, but the framing is so ridiculous that past a certain point I was just reading to see if Liu was about to pull of some narrative Triple Salchow I couldn’t conceive a mortal author sticking. He didn’t.

  18. I keep reading that Auxiliary Justice Is message fiction. What exactly is the message? Something something gender

    As far as I can tell, the message is that if you betray someone, you’d better make sure that none of their zombie-robots survive, or they will #%€^ your £¥+~ up.

    Damn liberals! (shakes fist)

  19. I keep reading that Auxiliary Justice Is message fiction. What exactly is the message? Something something gender?

    I’d call it a really fun MilSF with great worldbuidling, interesting characters, cool stuff done with AI and bodies, mystery, love, betrayal, spaceships, battles, and more.

    The puppy talking point is “it’s about gender” because the alien race the protagonist is part of uses “her” for all genders.

    I don’t consider it message fiction but various messages you could find in it:
    1. Big empires taking over & using military to force assimilation is bad

    2. People should have control of their bodies

    3. Slavery is bad

  20. @Simeon Beresford: They are not altogether clear on what they think the “message” of Ancillary Justice is, but it more or less cashes out as:

    Leckie uses the same pronoun for all characters, making it difficult to impossible for readers to determine their real gender because she is saying we should all “evolve” beyond binary gender, just like that unrelated essay by a completely different author on Tor.com said that SF writers should start assuming the gender binary would cease to obtain in Earth’s future(s). That Leckie might have adopted this conceit as a specific worldbuilding element of this specific series of books with no particular impulse to uplift humanity from its current gendered swamp is not a possibility worth entertaining.

    What’s more, and Maynard was explicit about this in a comment I read, even if AJ is otherwise “a rip-roaring” revenge thriller, and people liked it for its gonzo space-opera qualities, they only liked it as much as they did because of the gender trick, and that, Maynard all but says outright, just isn’t fair.

    This actually makes perfect sense if ha ha no it doesn’t make any sense at all!

  21. I am super proud that in comments on Ann Leckie’s blog, she endorsed my own formulation of Ancillary Justice’s social-justice message:

    My name is Breq of the Gerentate (to a first approximation). You killed my spaceship (to a first approximation). Prepare to die (to a first approximation).

    That is, in all modesty, some top-notch literary criticism and I do it for free.

  22. @Jim Henley:

    I read “Mountain” and was so. Bored. You’re right in that the infodump wasn’t bad, and I don’t know how it could have been done other than infodump, but the framing was just…silly. I also gave zero fucks about the protagonist, which never helps.

  23. Lyle –

    I have a question for those of you who didn’t notice the unspecificity of the gender of the Lock In protagonist. Did you envision Chris as male or female? (No big deal, just kind of curious since I had read about the “gimmick” before reading the book.)

    Male, I don’t know if it’s because I was putting myself into the story or what, but I could’ve sworn the book said the character was male at some point but apparently I just imagined it! It’s weird to learn that months later.

  24. Jim, that is some awesome criticism. I need to write a book just so you can review it that way.

  25. @Dawn Incognito: Thank you. I am relieved I’m not the only one. Did you read any of the other stories in the September Apex? If so, what did you think?

    @Bruce: Deal. I was actually tickled when I realized that formulation worked.

  26. I did, but “Mountain” left the biggest impression on me because I was annoyed.

    I skipped “Six Things We Found During the Autopsy” because it’s also in The Apex Book of World SF which I just got yesterday. “Child, Funeral, Thief, Death” seemed to end very suddenly and I was left feeling blindsided. “Find Me” was an oddly gentle story with some real emotional weight. I didn’t get the point of “Frozen Planet” at all.

    I generally don’t read the poetry. I love fancy-ass lyrical prose, but poetry rarely connects with me. Go fig.

  27. Mary Frances: I think you’re right — the heavy government funding meant it was only allowed to go to Hadens. Although I suspect rich people went to other countries and had it done; but you’d need to be very rich to haul a completely paralyzed body out of the country and back in without anyone noticing, and I guess they could put you in jail if you did it.

    Re: Apex. I fundamentally didn’t get “Six Things” or “Frozen World” (tho they didn’t annoy me), “Find Me” was sweet but triggered my how-is-this-SF/F? reflex, “Mountain” was a whole lot of didactic infodump explanation for not much point (and a jerk main character), and “Child, etc.” was good except seemed to be missing a bunch of stuff, leading to abrupt ending. I’m not putting any of ’em on my ballot. Overwhelming meh.

    Off to feed revenge cats and then to bed.

  28. But just as I thought we were moving toward a proposal that we could all agree on – which is still my fondest hope – it blows up in my face. All because I pointed out it could be something everyone could agree on and still remain true to what they believe. What I got back was “Oh, Puppies like it? Go away, this is for adults.”

    Yeah why do people get so upset just because he insulted the majority of Hugo voters and manages to slip petty little attacks into half his comments?

    I appreciate that the folks here have, for the most part, been quite reasonable and courteous and non-inflammatory. Compare with the folks over at File 770 (to mention one site where I’ve read the comments).

    By all means Jay, come on over.

  29. I appreciate that the folks here have, for the most part, been quite reasonable and courteous and non-inflammatory. Compare with the folks over at File 770 (to mention one site where I’ve read the comments).

    But of course, we are more reasonable and courteous and non-inflammatory. In all modesty.

  30. Well, if he’s reading, modestly or otherwise, I’d note that he’s on a hiding to nothing. Starting and running this sort of caper costs money, and even if he can persuade people to work their asses off for free, which is highly improbable given the abuse which has been heaped on the heads of those people prepared to work their asses off for free, nobody is going to Kick Start a project without very detailed projections.

    There are none. Neither is there any evidence that he’s taken Kevin Standlee’s friendly advice and established for himself just how burdensome the paperwork is. I’d love to see something get off the ground but this one won’t fly…

    Incidentally, per a comment on GRRM’s Notablog, Dragon Con is already knee deep in various awards, none of which he or I had heard of; it looks like the fast road to oblivion…

  31. You know, in the context of puppythink, I’m not sure that Maynard isn’t being quite shrewd in refusing to read the works he cites, or even the reviews thereof. If you are dealing with a rapidly metastasising SJW memeplex, any exposure can have untold consequences; wrongthink leads to wrongfun leads to, well, total societal collapse in the end. Reviews, or even links to reviews, are potential sources of secondary infection and should be avoided if possible – even if the source has proven trustworthy in the past.

    But he hasn’t thought it through to its logical conclusion, which is to remove vulnerable human neural networks from the loop entirely. What is therefore required is an automated diagnostic tool that can filter out wrongthink, not only in its most basic forms, but also when subtly embedded in the mendacious tracts that the SJWs, masters of lies, call literature.

    It’s relatively easy to filter for lists of shibboleths. Apart from keywords (for example, polysyllabic terms not related to engineering and physics; complexity sciences like human biology could be considered compromised and should be treated with caution), there are many other tell-tales like excessive use of female pronouns. This is relatively easy, though potentially another source of infection for the gatekeepers required to set it up, who will necessarily be exposed to wrongthink themselves.

    What is to be done? Well, in the longer term, a Bayesian approach (as is frequently deployed in spam filters) must be adopted. This does not eliminate contagion, but it restricts it at the start to a small and ideologically pure group of judges/gatekeepers, as in Maynard’s proposal, who must fine-tune the filter, identifying false positives and negatives, for example. Once this learning period is over, the gatekeepers should be liquidated re-educated encouraged to resign, although they should be forever honoured as martyrs to the cause. Self-sufficiency for the AI process can be achieved by having it scan known sources of SJW contagion on the net to ensure it is up to date on the rapidly changing nature of SJW terminology and memes. A built-in webcrawler will also allow it to identify new sources of infection.

    With all this in mind, the ‘web of trust’ now makes sense. SJW infection sites in this web can be swiftly and efficiently cauterised without exposing vulnerable human nervous systems to wrongthink; although some innocents will inevitably suffer collateral damage in the creation of a firewall round the contagious node. (Although their trust index will be visible to the web users, they should have no access to their ‘suspect index’ which will be raised by their espousal of ideologically suspect works – or their connections with other users who cite them. Only the secret police AI filter should require access to this.)

    It’s the only way to be sure.

  32. More seriously, I see that Maynard is now complaining about the level of criticism he’s receiving, which is making it hard for him to keep his cool. Unlike, I guess, Scalzi and Gerrold, who have never had a harsh word said against them, and have no reason to react badly to a proposal built on a foundation of Puppy talking points and mechanisms of exclusion.

    To be fair, I gather that he didn’t mean the proposal to come off that way, and of course as rational men who have no right to be angry like he does, they should have intuited that from the sketchy details he posted.

    Maynard also says he plans to rewrite that bit, which is probably a good idea. In my experience, this is a great place for a <strike> tag or two in the OP to demonstrate that willingness to even the most casual of readers. But to each blog its own policies, of course.

  33. @ Jim Henley:

    Okay, I finished the Liu Cixin novelette, “Mountain“, in the new issue of Apex. It…doesn’t make me want to rush out and read the Three-Body Problem.

    He’s better in long form than in short stories. Three-Body Problem has a couple of infodumps in it, but they don’t overwhelm the story, and the story has some very good, speculative, mind-expanding elements.

  34. BTW, I’m surprised no one’s suggested “Nutty Nuggets Awards” yet – they could call them the Nutties for short.

  35. I would say that the ‘message’ of AJ, to the extent that it has one, is ‘it’s more complicated than that’.

    It has just struck me that Terry Pratchett is a very odd person to consider as the patron of a pure storytelling award. Many of his books are very message-driven. In the preface to The Carpet People he says that when he was young he thought stories should be about battles and kings, but now he thinks they should be about not needing to fight battles or to have kings.

  36. @Mark: Thank you! The blog-post versions of the reviews aren’t generating comments or links, but they mostly exist to remind myself at the end of the year what I read. I’m getting gratifying feedback in comments here.

    @lurkertype: I like good literary fiction (in moderation), so I’d be okay with “Find Me” regardless. But part of me is happy to say, because the story appeared in an SF/F venue, that tips the scales on the central question

    After two issues, I’m developing the impression that Apex prizes mood and tone over other story values, including style, worldbuilding, plot and characterization. It’s kind of surprising how low on the priority list characterization is for a “literary” outlet. And when people were complaining earlier in the year from Puppy-oriented directions about MFAs invading genre fiction I was surprised and skeptical, but now I’m starting to see the point. An MFA in itself isn’t bad, and literary fiction can be a fine thing, but the “workshop esthetic” is its failure mode, and I’m seeing some of that in my recent reading.

    @Ana @snowcrash @Abi: You guys.

  37. And now from Maynard:

    But why is it that I’m always the bad guy?

    In someone who claims to be interested in good writing, I find this lack of self-awareness/self-reflection (and possibly reading comprehension) utterly astonishing. Though it seems to be a common characteristic of most puppies to one degree or another.

  38. Fin Fahey, the automated adjudication of worthy stories sounds totally like a Hugo Gernsback idea. I love it.

    As for the lack of self-awareness, I found myself mulling last night how…how…un-serious the Puppies are, about so many things, and how poorly they compare to other parts of fandom.

    Look, for instance, at Kyra’s work on the brackets. It’s enormous effort, and it started as a lark, but has gone on to provoke thousands of engaged, happy comments and a ton of book buying and reading (followed by yet more happy commenting).

    (Folks, we need to arrange some kind of collective thank-you present for Kyra. Maybe credit with an online storefront or something.)

    I think of what Kyra is doing as operating in the best kind of fannish tradition. I’m reminded of the women who created Star Trek fandom as a distinct thing when men in the existing fanzines and amateur press associations got grumpy about their fanac (= “fan activity”, for those not hep to the old lingo), and of the women and men who did the same thing for roleplaying games a decade later in response to the same kind of grumping. And Worldcon itself, for that matter. It’s fun, engaging, and thoroughly inviting of participation – it’s sharing the fun.

    There simply is little to nothing like that among the Puppies. Lots of complaining, but so very little action. Logo buying, yes. Getting a few folks together to put together a slate of work by them and their buddies, yes, and giving orders to people willing to follow, yes. But just imagine if anyone had ever bothered to do the kind of thing Kyra is doing, to generate ongoing discussion. We’d all be better off for it.

    And in the wake of their few efforts, what we get mostly is, well, a lot more complaining, and a whole lot more of throwing insults and then apparently being hurt and surprised at the results.

    I much prefer the reading and sharing part.

    Likewise with, say, John Scalzi turning another bit of abuse from a Beale fan into raising ten thousand dollars to make con-going possible for fans who’d otherwise miss it. I love that, every time he does it. Likewise with others. Over in the tabletop RPG world, there was (thoroughly justified) controversy last week about a really awful little supplement for a really awful RPG line onsale at the big vendor of RPG e-books…and this week the store’s hosting a fundraising sale for RAINN, to which a whole lot of publishers happily contributed works to be sold at huge discounts and which is selling well. Just as previous charitable efforts there have done well.

    I would like the Puppies to be that serious in an ongoing way about the worth of their ideas, and do something on their behalf, something constructive, admirable, and fun.

  39. It’s funny but when I post something on the web I expect to get criticism. Because it’s the Internet and someone is bound to disagree with me or find flaws with what I’ve said. I’m not perfect so chances are I’ve gotten something wrong. Heck if I go and look at stuff I wrote 1, 5, 15 years ago I’ve got criticism because I’ve learned stuff since then and/or the world has changed.

  40. Folks, we need to arrange some kind of collective thank-you present for Kyra. Maybe credit with an online storefront or something.

    I could get behind that.

  41. It has just struck me that Terry Pratchett is a very odd person to consider as the patron of a pure storytelling award.

    That is pretty strange, you’re right. I usually really LIKE his messages, which are deeply humanistic and sort of existentialist. He is also, without question, a terrific storyteller. But Ancillary Justice seems way more message-free than something like Hogfather or Small Gods or Good Omens.

    But overall I get the sense, especially from Maynard’s comments over on Black Gate, that “message fiction” doesn’t actually mean what most people would call “message fiction.” It’s just code for “non-puppy-stuff.”

    And what does that mean? I really don’t know, because any time they try to codify it in an objective way, it falls apart completely. The whole thing ends up seeming — to me — like completely arbitrary in group/out group stuff, which is particularly ironic given the stated purpose of the award.

  42. To be fair to Maynard, he is listening to feedback. I don’t know if he can walk himself back enough from his antagonism and epistemic bubble to be an effective bridge-builder (and this proposed award, if it is not to be a ghetto, needs some bridges built). But I’m less dubious about that than I was last night.

    I still think there’s a world of hurt in there about both the trust system and the committee. I strongly expect the trust system to be gamed like crazy by the well-practiced rule-gamers in the community, and I dread what will happen to a committee that either fails or passes their first marginal case.

    And there’s a ton of work to do, which would require a lot of listening, a willingness to keep changing minds (his and others’), and, yeah a ton of work.

  43. @Bruce Baugh: Your linking of Kyra’s brackets to Sad Puppies by the way they are unlike each other is the sort of genius I’ve always admired you for. Imagine if Brad et al had said, “Screw the Hugos. What’d you guys like last year?” “All that. huh? Well here’s Round 1 of SAD PUPPIES DEATHMATCH!”

    They could have had so much fun. They could still do it today! Sad Puppies 4 could say “Screw the Hugos! What’d you guys like last year?” And they could just have fun arguing over books and stories and shows. They could do it the entire first half of the year, and then announce the Saddest Puppies (the winners) in each category.

    And OGH would link the hell out of it.

  44. Tasha Turner on September 12, 2015 at 8:14 pm said:

    Also did anyone else notice the lack of skaters/puppies in the comments on his blog? The only people commenting, and many had good suggestions/points, were anti-slate.

    I very much noticed that. And many of them are really trying to help him, but he’s just not able to let go of certain affronts he feels have been inflicted upon him personally, while not quite being able to see that his own language will be equally offensive to those who don’t agree with him about
    baseline assumptions. Part of me wants to try to help him see where he’s going wrong, but the longer I delay the more his further reactions suggest it would be too much effort for too little result (and for something I care too little about).

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