Pixel Scroll 2/1/16 By the Pixels of Babylon, I Scrolled, For I Remembered Filing

(1) PRELIMINARY PUPPIES. Vox Day issued his first “preliminary recommendations” today: “Rabid Puppies 2016: Best New Writer” (Preliminary, since he may change them based on feedback about eligibility, or for other reasons.)

To kick things off, we’ll begin with the Campbell Award: Best New Writer category:

  • Pierce Brown
  • Cheah Kai Wai
  • Sebastien de Castell
  • Marc Miller
  • Andy Weir

There was a noteworthy exchange in the comments.

[Phil Sandifer] Just for the record, Vox, the only reason Andy Weir wasn’t on the ballot last year was the Puppies. Without you, the Campbell nominees last year would have been Chu, Weir, Alyssa Wong, Carmen Maria Marchado, and Django Wexler.

[VD] Oh, Phil, you’re always so careless. That is not the only reason. It is a reason. Had you SJWs favored Weir over Chu, he would have also been on the ballot.

In any event, since you all are such champions of Weir, I’m glad we will all be able to join forces and get him nominated.

(2) GRRM REQUESTS. After announcing that the Locus Recommended Reading List is online, George R.R. Martin explicitly said

Just for the record, before the issue is raised, let me state loudly and definitively that I do not want any of my work to be part of anyone’s slate, this year or any year. But I do feel, as I have said before, that a recommended reading list and a slate are two entirely different animals.

— an announcement whose timing may be more relevant today than it would have been yesterday.

(3) LOCUS SURVEY. You can now take the Locus Poll and Survey at Locus Online. Anyone can vote; Locus subscriber votes count double. Voting closes April 15.

Here is the online version of the 46th annual Locus Awards ballot, covering works that appeared in 2015.

In each category, you may vote for up to five works or nominees, ranking them 1 (first place) through 5 (fifth).

As always, we have seeded the ballot with options based on our 2015 Recommended Reading List [this link will open a new window], mainly because this greatly facilitates tallying of results. However, again as always, you are welcome to use the write-in boxes to vote for other titles and nominees in any category. If you do, please try to supply author, title, and place of publication, in a format like the options listed, where appropriate.

Do not vote for more than one item in a category at the same rank (e.g. two selections ranked 1st); if you do, we will disregard your votes in that category.

File 770 is seeded in the Best Magazine or Fanzine category and would cherish your fifth place votes. Or twenty-fifth, for that matter – the competition is formidable.

(4) IT IS THE END MY FRIEND. And perhaps this is the right place to admire John Scalzi’s Whatever post title: “The End of All Things on the 2015 Locus Recommended Reading List”.

(5) STATISTICS. Brandon Kempner at Chaos Horizon began the month of February by “Checking Back in with the SFWA Recommended Reading List”. He prepared a change table and interpreted the rising fortunes of various novels, beginning with the greatest uptick —

What does this tell us? That Lawrence M. Schoen’s Barsk has emerged as a major Nebula contender, despite being lightly read (as of January 30th, this only has 93 ratings on Goodreads, 31 on Amazon, much much lower than other Nebula/Hugo contenders). That’s due in part to Schoen’s late publication date: the novel came out on December 29, 2015. That’s a tough time to come out, as you get lost in the post-Christmas malaise. A Nebula nomination would drive a lot of attention to this book. Schoen now seems like a very good bet for the Nebula, particularly when we factor in that he received Nebula nominations in the Best Novella category in 2013, 2014, and 2015. There’s clearly a subset of Nebula voters that really like Schoen’s work; a Best Novel nomination might be a spark that gets him more read by the rest of us.

(6) CONGRATULATIONS SCOTT EDELMAN. He did it! Scott Edelman celebrates a special sale in “Never give up, never surrender: My 44-year question to sell a short story to Analog”.

I’ve lost track of how many submissions I made to Analog during the intervening years, first to Ben Bova, then Stan Schmidt (for more than three decades!), and now Trevor Quachri. Were there 25 short stories? Fifty? It’s probably been more than that, but I don’t know for sure. And it doesn’t really matter.

What matters is—in the face of rejection, I kept writing.

What matters is—in the face of rejection, I kept submitting.

What matters is—I never took it personally. I knew that I wasn’t the one being rejected—it was only the words on the page that weren’t the right match.

(7) WILL EISNER AUCTION. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is auctioning books from Will Eisner’s personal collection.

Will Eisner wasn’t just the godfather of comics, a creative force who changed the face of modern comics — he was also a staunch advocate for the freedom of expression. In celebration of Eisner’s indomitable talent and advocacy, CBLDF is delighted to offer up for auction books from Eisner’s own personal collection!

All books in this collection come from the late, great Will Eisner’s personal library. The books from this collection are bookplated with Eisner’s own personalized bookplate, featuring his most famous creation, The Spirit. Most of the books in this collection are signed and personalized to the master himself by creators whom Eisner inspired over his illustrious 70-year career

The items are on eBay. The CBLDF’s post has all the links to the various lots.

(8) FAN ART AT RSR. I see that with help from eFanzines’ Bill Burns, Rocket Stack Rank terrifically upgraded its “2016 Fan Artists” content. Gregory N. Hullender explains.

With the help of Bill Burns, we’ve updated the Best Fan Artist page at RSR to include cover art from eFanzines (plus a few that Bill scanned by hand). This doubled the number of artists and tripled the number of images, making it comparable to the Pro Artist page.

(9) INCONCEIVABLE. Japan’s huge convention Comic Market, aka Comiket, which draws half a million fans (in aggregate over three days) expects to be bumped from its facilities in 2020. What could bump an event that big? The Olympics. Anime News Network reports —

Tokyo Big Sight, the convention center where Comiket is usually held, announced earlier that it would not be able to hold the convention between April 2019 and October 2020. Event spaces have been closing throughout the Tokyo area for the past decade. Tokyo Big Sight has also announced that industry booths at this summer’s Comiket would close after two days (instead of the usual three) to accommodate construction work to expand the building for the upcoming Olympics.

(10) TAKE YOUR HANDS OFF THE CANON. We might call this a contrarian view.


  • February 1, 2003 – Space shuttle Columbia broke apart during re-entry, killing all seven astronauts aboard.


  • February 1, 1954 – Bill Mumy, soon to be seen in Space Command.

(13) WOODEN STARSHIP. A Washington Post article about the renovation of the original Starship Enterprise model reveals it was mostly made from big pieces of wood. When ready, the Enterprise will be displayed in a slightly more prestigious spot .

Collum said the model had long hung in the gift shop of the Air and Space Museum on the Mall. Now it is headed for the renovated Milestones of Flight Hall there.

“The historical relevance of the TV show, and this model, has grown,” he said. “So it’s now being brought up into the limelight, and it’s going to be in the same gallery as the ‘Spirit of St. Louis’ [and] the Apollo 11 command module.”

(14) HOW GAMES INSPIRE ENGAGING FICTION. N. K. Jemisin in “Gaming as connection: Thank you, stranger” talks about the aspect of game play that challenges her as a writer. (Beware spoilers about the game Journey.)

I see a lot of discussion about whether games are art. For me, there’s no point in discussing the matter, because this isn’t the first time I’ve had such a powerful emotional experience while gaming. That’s why I’m still a gamer, and will probably keep playing ’til I die. This is what art does: it moves you. Maybe it makes you angry, okay. Maybe it makes you laugh. Not all of it is good, but so what? There’s a lot of incredibly shitty art everywhere in the world. But the good art? That’s the stuff that has power, because you give it power. The stuff that lingers with you, days or years later, and changes you in small unexpected ways. The stuff that keeps you thinking. Right now I’m trying to figure out how to recreate that game experience with my fiction.

(15) SF IN CHINA. Shaoyan Hu discusses“The Changing Horizon: A Brief Summary of Chinese SF in Year 2015”  at Amazing Stories. Quite an impressive roundup.


There were more than 70 college SF clubs in China in year 2015. Compared to 120 clubs in 2012, the number was reduced. However, two independent fandoms, Future Affairs Administration in Beijing and SF AppleCore in Shanghai, were still very active.

SF AppleCore is the most important fandom in Eastern China. Last year, in addition to orchestrating the annual Shanghai Science Fiction and Fantasy Festival, SF AppleCore continued to operate on a regular base to bring about the public SF events such as AppleCore Party (speeches and gatherings of fans) and AppleCore Reading Group.

Future Affairs Administration was the backbone behind the 2016 Worldcon bid for Beijing. Although the bid was not successful, they organized the Chinese Nebula Award ceremony in 2014. Last year, this fandom was consolidated into a media platform for SF and technology related information, although the function for fan events still remained.

(16) WORLDS OF LE GUIN. The Kickstarter fundraising appeal for Arwen Curry’s documentary Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin has begun. So far, 514 backers have pledged $39,699 of the $80,000 goal. The SFWA Blog endorsed it today:

Viewers will accompany Le Guin on an intimate journey of self-discovery as she comes into her own as a major feminist author, inspiring generations of women and other marginalized writers along the way. To tell this story, the film reaches into the past as well as the future – to a childhood steeped in the myths and stories of disappeared Native peoples she heard as the daughter of prominent 19th century anthropologist Alfred Kroeber.

Le Guin’s story allows audiences to reflect on science fiction’s unique role in American culture, as a conduit for our utopian dreams, apocalyptic fears, and tempestuous romance with technology. Le Guin, by elevating science fiction from mind candy to serious speculation, has given permission to younger mainstream writers like Michael Chabon, Zadie Smith, and Jonathan Lethem to explore fantastic elements in their work.

(17) CGI OVERDOSE? At Yahoo! News, “These ‘Star Wars’ Blooper Reels Show Exactly Why the Prequels Failed”.

The blooper reels for the Star Wars prequel films have been available for a while, but there’s a noticeable trend with all of them. Nearly every blooper — genuinely funny or otherwise — is filmed within a green screen backdrop.


[Thanks to Janice Gelb, JJ, Petrea Mitchell, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Gregory N. Hullender.]

289 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 2/1/16 By the Pixels of Babylon, I Scrolled, For I Remembered Filing

  1. Goodreads, bad reads, you know I’ve had my share,
    My scroll left town with another blog
    But I still don’t seem to care…

  2. Oh! Oh! Relevance!

    If there’s a bustle in your Hugo
    Don’t be alarmed now
    It’s just a slating for the May Queen
    Yes, there are two slates they could go by
    But in the long run
    They haven’t read the books thereon…
    And it makes me wonder…

    (Most fun I’ve had with Stairway to Heaven since college!)

  3. One of the free issues of IGMS is September 2015, which fulfills both my “Read short fiction from 2015” and “read stuff published by a market I am considering sending a story to within the next week or so” quotas both. Only read the opening story so far, but I thought it was good stuff. Not Hugo-worthy, but not something I’d be ashamed to be published next to, and something the author can be proud of having published.

    Their main freebie is a general sampler, released partly because of last year’s Hugos, but featuring a goodly range for possible submitters, too.

    (There aren’t too many markets out there for novellas, especially once you break 25k words, which removes the Magazine of F&SF from contention. And one always starts at the top unless the reading of the magazine suggests a mismatch. Sure, I like Strange Horizons and Tor.com better, but the former doesn’t ever take the length and the latter is closed to submissions.)

  4. (NB: Re the free sampler, IGMS made it clear they withdrew from consideration – but then decided to showcase the sort of thing they might have put together as a sampler anyway because putting more fiction out there for people to read – and tempt them to buy the magazine – sounded like a good idea. The letter from the editor explains further.)

  5. Chiming in on the Radiance discussion–I just finished it. Won’t say I loved it–it isn’t that sort of book–but I suspect I won’t forget it in a hurry. It took me a while to get into it, but then about a third of the way in I suddenly thought “Hey! Italo Calvino!” and settled down to enjoy the ride.

    I don’t like all of Calvino, either, and I’m not saying the parallel is all that close . . . but Valente seems to be hitting more or less the same sweet spot that Calvino sometimes does for me.

  6. Thank you both for the Led Zeppelin earworm? No, the improvement in the lyrics doesn’t help…

    @Zenu – On the other hand I don’t get this mandate to read everything including puppy poop. If it is puppy poop, just leave it off the ballet.

    I did specify otherwise worthy candidates. If I never have to read another piece of turgid, poorly written prose, I’ll be quite content. However, if suchlike does end up on the ballot (or the ballet, which gives me a very happy visual) I will grudgingly read it, probably swearing while I do so.

    Not quite in the same vein, count me in as a non-admirer of Valente’s prose. I’m sure there is a story in her stories, but I can’t be bothered to tease it out. Hers is a level of beautiful, intricate writing that leaves me bored and annoyed.

  7. @Vasha: I’ve read it, but about a year ago now. From what I remember it’s a very good novella (one of my favourites from the Humble Bundle it was included in) but all told I prefer them working separately (if only because then we get twice the awesome)

    @Mary Frances: Hmm, that’s the first thing that anyone’s said that’s tempted me to get Radiance. I love me some Calvino and if it scratches that itch…

  8. @Snowcrash: Yeah, non-free short fiction is looking pretty bleak.

    Or look at the SFWA recommended list, for short stories. In the first 50 entries, I count 5 which aren’t free on the internet. (In the first 40 entries, only 2, both from F&SF. Everything past the first 40 has gotten a sum total of 3 recommendations or fewer.)

    It worries me. That just can’t be good for the health of the field.

    I think Asimov’s is planning to release some readers’ favorites from 2015 freely on the internet, quite soon (here’s a PDF of the editorial announcing this).
    This strikes me as a decent compromise and way to deal with the current publishing landscape: devoted fans subscribe and pay (and pick the favorites); the very best material goes public and gets a shot at internet virulence and wider recognition.

    But it still boils down to the magazines giving away their best material free. “For exposure.” I don’t like it :-/

  9. @Peace Is My Middle Name: Agreed re. popularity not defining slate! I said something along those lines a while back. An unpopular slate is simply unsuccessful, but no less a slate.

    @steve davidson: I don’t understand letting Beale’s (or anyone else’s) slate act as a poison pill to your nominating. Obviously, we draw the line differently; I’m strongly anti-slate, but I refuse to let someone nix my nomination by slating one of my favorites. As fish-head in “Return of the Jedi” said, “It’s a trap!” 😉

    But that’s me, and hopefully I’m not piling on too strongly, Steve.

    @Zenu: I agree; no need to read slated works.

    I’ll go beyond that to say: IMHO there’s no moral or ethical high ground in reading all slated works for “the merits,” versus skipping them because they were cheated onto the ballot, versus doing something inbetween. All feel like reasonable, moral, ethical approaches to slates to me.

  10. @Cheryl S.

    My past experience with similar kinds of things tells me that RP will gain traction and support from certain groups IF he is able to claim a victory (that is demonstrable as opposed to merely claimed as was last years). Showing a list of picks that reflect the winners is demonstrable, even if we are able to say “well, that work would have won anyway”. The point is not how pointless we may think the exercise is, the point is what RP is able to do with it. I’d like to deny them that ammunition.

    I think the “no slates” position is the only one that stands a chance of accomplishing that. The lists are public; creators on a slate can eliminate the problem by asking that they not be included. (Making that request is sufficient whether the slates remove their works or not – “they asked to be removed, everyone knows it, the RP votes for it are rendered moot”).

    I believe that anyone in the running for nomination truly wants to get on the final ballot legitimately – based on the merits of the work – and would see the gaming of nominations as antithetical to that. I think that most potential nominees who do not recuse themselves from inclusion on slates (as a blanket statement) are either unaware of the situation, don’t care sufficiently about the integrity of the awards or are happy to receive whatever votes they get, however they get them. (I can respect a request to remain out of the fray, but in reality, any creator whose work is eligible for nomination is already IN the fray, whether they know it or not.) I do what I can about the former two cases. The latter I’m comfortable to leave out of my considerations.

    Admittedly, I think our choice of futures is between more or less BS surrounding the awards, Worldcon and fandom, not between BS or no BS, but I’d much rather have less than more. EPH, if ratified, will help, but it is not the same as establishing what behaviors are acceptable, what aren’t and firmly rejecting those behaviors that are unacceptable.

    JCW challenged me to give any of his nominated works a fair shake (which he assumes means I’ll automatically pick it as #1) if he repudiated slates. He’s done so to some degree or another. If he is on the final ballot and not on a slate, I’ll give it due consideration. By the same token, if RAH, Asimov and Bradbury had new works eligible this year and they were on a slate, I’d be rejecting them out of hand (after getting in touch). We just can’t tolerate this kind of behavior. Once it is shown to work, economic imperatives will come to bear and it won’t be long before publishers are campaigning for their ticket and camps begin to form. We mostly have one big camp right now (mostly) and losing that would be a bad thing.

  11. @Zenu
    I am (typically) pessimistic about EPH’s chances of being ratified. Given the conservative nature of the general Hugo business meeting electorate, and the motivation for certain parties to stop it at all costs…it being passed is not at all guaranteed.

  12. Showing a list of picks that reflect the winners is demonstrable, even if we are able to say “well, that work would have won anyway”.

    But we have a test case for this, Guardians of the Galaxy was on the slates last year and still won. Beale isn’t crowing about this amazing victory because even his loyal band of idiots can’t get excited about it as a demonstration of power. Everyone knows it was a likely winner with or without the puppies.

    See also the desperate attempts to claim The Three Body Problem as a Puppy winner, even though it was shortlisted despite their best efforts. Or the attempts to claim No Award as a victory, in that the SJWs were forced to ‘burn down their own award.’

    Beale can and will claim everything as a victory. But he can’t get a Hugo for himself or anyone he publishes, so all his demonstrations of power are pathetic. If you’re a fan of SF and care about the Hugos, you care that he made a mess of the shortlist. The people who don’t already care, the ones he is trying to impress, aren’t going to see messing with a shortlist as a victory. He has to make the SJWs give him an award (or at the very least, give an award to someone they hate) or he loses.

  13. @ Peace Is My Middle Name

    I wonder if we disagree as much as you think. Perhaps I wasn’t clear enough–it is not just the size of the audience but its nature that defines a slate. It is not how many people look at it, say to themselves “I respect this person’s opinion” or “I know we have similar tastes” and run off and check out the stories.

    It is how many people use it as a way to choose acceptable second best stories instead of their honest favorites for the purpose of having more power over the nominations.

    If the Puppies had a million viewers but none of them wanted more power over the nominations, I wouldn’t care. I just don’t, on the basis of past behavior, think that is what is happening.

    And perhaps I am being uncharitable, but I see no other way to distinguish between a slate disguised as a recommendation list, and an actual recommendation list. The Puppies are not fools enough to look at “Recommendation List” at the top and say “oh, this means we are no longer going to nominate from this list so as to dominate the Hugos. Oh, well it was nice while it lasted.” So I don’t have to pretend this is what they are doing.

    I guess it would be fair enough to say that something intended as a slate but with an audience of two would be a slate. Technically it would but it wouldn’t matter, so I wouldn’t care–no harm no foul and all that–but YMMV.

    My point is that something that has a slate’s effects, which I think your words “intended to fill a ballot with works selected for reasons unrelated to quality” at least begin to describe, is a slate. Except that I agree with JJ that if one puts quality works on a slate it is still a slate so let me rethink:

    A slate is something that has a slate’s effects, which is to amplify the nominating power of a group by focussing it on a particular set of works. This is accomplished by having an audience that knows perfectly well what to do with the “recommendation list,” and does it. Only one group (or perhaps technically two closely related groups) has been doing this so far.

    The name at the top still doesn’t matter. The number of works still doesn’t matter. How the works are chosen still doesn’t matter. These things are all game-able to produce something that technically meets the rules but still amplifies the nominating power of a group by focussing it on a particular set of works thus giving those works an unfair advantage.

    @steve davidson

    I understand your desire to deny Beale anything that can be spun as a victory. But the people Beale is attempting to rope in will fall into two groups–the savvy and the clueless. If they’re clueless enough to believe that Andy Weir–who wrote a best-seller that got turned into a major popular movie–got on the Campbell ballot because Beale, then they’re clueless enough to believe that Guardians of the Galaxy got on the Hugo ballot for the same reason, and it is too late for them.

    If they’re savvy enough to realize Guardians of the Galaxy would have been nominated/won anyway, they can draw the same conclusion for Weir.

    Personally I intend at the moment to read anything I think is worthwhile that makes the final ballot. If something on a slate also strikes me as interesting, or also had recommendations from people whose tastes seem to match mine makes it onto the final ballot I will read it and see what I think. Slate entries without those qualities I may or may not spend time on. Non-slate entries were honest favorites of a lot of Hugo nominators–that speaks well for them right there. And so on.

    But absolutely I support your right to deal with the slates however you see fit, and I am listening to what you have to say on the subject.

  14. hmm – much shorter version
    It is pointless to try denying Beale anything that can be spun as a victory, because he will spin anything as a victory.
    As long as he is denied real victories, I’m happy.

  15. If I have read Seth’s intentions correctly, then following this rule is dependent upon me reading the mind of the assembler. While noble in terms of expressed sentiment, in practice I fear that this devolves into what I originally pointed to, “It’s a slate if I don’t like the guy who wrote it.” This is because humans are notoriously bad at reading each others’ minds.

    Humans, being social animals, are constantly making estimates of one another’s intentions. When a prosecutor deals with a homicide case, they estimate the intentions of the perpetrator, and that affects whether to charge the perpetrator with manslaughter or murder.

    In the absence of telepathy, those estimates can be wrong and are subject to bias, but that doesn’t make them useless. And if you accuse non-Puppies of only applying the label “slate” to recommended-reading lists that they don’t like… whose mind are you reading there?

  16. Spoilers for BAMBI.

    I was a couple of rows behind a boy-child five or six years old at BAMBI once, and it was soon apparent that he said everything that crossed his mind. If he saw something, he said something. Instead of finding this annoying, I chose to enjoy my newfound ability to read his every thought for the time we were in proximity.

    It takes some filling in, apparently, to realize that Bambi’s mom doesn’t make it. The way the scene ends didn’t fill it completely for the kid. “Where’s Bambi’s mom?” he asked his mother. “Shhh. She’s dead,” she whispered gently. “No she isn’t!” he said. A few moments later, Growth Spurt Bambi showed up. “There’s Bambi’s mom!” he said. “Shh. That’s Bambi.” “No it isn’t!”

    The kid had a point, really. All Growed Bambi is a jarring change of tone, and whenever the Disney studio revisited the character in other works, it was (as one of my fellow Apatooners once memorably pointed out) yet another example of The Ending Never Happened, where all the Disney characters are in an enchanted land where everyone’s like they were in the penultimate reel of their movies. Pinocchio’s still a puppet, Snow White is still hanging with the Dwarfs, and Bambi’s just a cute little fawn.

  17. @ Cat

    My primary preference for IGMS has to do with spelling/grammar editing. It seemed to be sorely lacking in Lightspeed, Clarkesworld, and Asimov’s when I subscribed to them.

    I’m not sure why a quick run through MS Word (or whatever is comparable in the publishing world) isn’t done to clean things up a bit. The errors were that obvious. A bump in the road is one thing. A series of them is another.

    I generally don’t worry about where a story comes from. However after seeing the link to Tor’s “best of 2015”, I took a look.

    If Kim Stanley Robinson’s Oral Argument is what Tor consider to be “best of” worthy, then I guess I’m glad that Tor’s short section isn’t a routine resource for my short fiction reading. RAH did the better job with the same theme roughly 80 years ago. Oral Argument was a fun/entertaining read, but the fundamental economic errors significantly undermine the story, IMHO.

    Obviously “different strokes” and YMMV apply. 🙂


    I hadn’t heard of IGMS until the editor pulled out last year. His statement at the time caused me to give them a shot. So based on the brief sampling since I subscribed (my fiction pile is also huge and short fiction doesn’t find its way to the top of the pile very often), I found the stories to be reasonably satisfying and the editing to be sound.


  18. @Dann

    I don’t read Lightspeed or Clarkesworld all that much, and didn’t when they were just starting, but I haven’t spotted any glaring errors and I usually am pretty good at spotting them.

    So just as a test I went to their websites and copied in a couple of stories from each into LibreOffice Writer and used the spellcheck. OK there were a few made-up words and neologisms. There were also a few words which I think the spell-checker wanted to be hyphenated and the author/editor didn’t.

    They have either fixed their ways or you are not remembering the situation clearly.

    I have read Asimov’s in the past and didn’t think it was out of line with other publications and books.

  19. dann665 on February 3, 2016 at 6:30 am said:

    If Kim Stanley Robinson’s Oral Argument is what Tor consider to be “best of” worthy, then I guess I’m glad that Tor’s short section isn’t a routine resource for my short fiction reading. RAH did the better job with the same theme roughly 80 years ago. Oral Argument was a fun/entertaining read, but the fundamental economic errors significantly undermine the story, IMHO.

    Given that KSR is a giant of the field and has sold bajillions of critically-acclaimed books over the last 3 decades, we should probably blame the SF buying public for persuading Tor.com that his first standalone short story in 25 years was a significant commission.

  20. *shakes fist at Nicole* You went where God and man was not meant to go!

    I may be making unjustified assumptions here, but I suspect Nicole could reasonably claim to be neither God nor man, and so quite entitled to take on that Nazgul. 🙂

  21. Peace Is My Middle Name: I would define a slate as something put forth intended to fill a ballot with works selected for reasons unrelated to quality.

    JJ: I would not agree with that definition.

    It’s entirely possible that someone could publish and promote a slate of works that are genuinely believed (not just the lip-service of SP3) to be “quality”, with the intention of locking up the ballot.

    Perhaps we could amend Peace’s definition to ‘unrelated to the voters’ own judgement of quality’. Even if the author of the slate thinks all the works included are of the highest quality, they are inviting the voters to take their word for it rather than use their own judgement.

  22. @rob_matic

    I understand that he is a successful author. I don’t fault Tor for buying the story.

    It was my only sampling of their “best of 2015”. My criticism is that if they consider that story (an entertaining/engaging read, but with IMHO a couple huge plot holes) to be “best of” quality, then it suggests a difference in perspective significant that Tor’s short fiction curation is probably not going to scratch my proverbial SFF itch very well.


    Thanks for your perspective. Maybe they just had a bad run when I was subscribing.


  23. @dann665

    re: Tor’s best 2015

    Did you try any of the other stories in the book? I didn’t particularly care for Robinson’s either, but three of my favorite stories, Kameron Hurley’s “Elephants and Corpses,” David D. Devine’s “Damage,” and Michael Livingston’s “At the End of Babel” are included. All three are excellent, and they are on my longlist.

  24. If Kim Stanley Robinson’s Oral Argument is what Tor consider to be “best of” worthy,

    Hey, thanks for the pointer, I really enjoyed it.
    A much closer antecedent would be “By Light Alone”, by Adam Roberts a few years ago.
    I can’t help but feel you’re misreading the story by talking about economic plotholes. You’re making the same mistake the antagonists make, insisting that (SF development) X has caused (situation) Y, and you think this is unrealistic. The protagonist argues exactly this, that those saying X has caused Y are trying to distract from their own culpability.

  25. @redheadedfemme

    Thanks for the recommendations. Oral Argument was my sole sampling. I may take a shot at those other stories as well.

    I’ve not read enough short fiction this year (Hugo 2015 aside) to make me confident in nominating anything in particular. I will try to do a better job of keeping track of short work in 2016.


  26. I’ve seen a couple comments that expressed worry at the prevalence of free-on-the-internet-to-read short fiction in award/nomination lists as demonstrating some sort of impending doom for the SFF short fiction industry. Or as indicating that great stories that are behind paywalls are going to be disadvantaged with regard to award nominations.

    But just because a story is free to read doesn’t mean isn’t being done purely “for exposure” either by the author or the publisher. There are a lot of financial models for free-to-the-reader publication that are perfectly compatible with both the author and publisher making money, whether it’s through advertising income, a patreon-type model, or a “pay now or free a little later” model. I doubt that very many writers of award-worthy short fiction would be content to have their work published for no personal compensation on a regular basis.

    And if/when authors see that they can get a larger readership for a story by submitting it to publications that offer free-to-the-reader options rather than paywall-controled publications, you can be sure that writers of all ability levels will be quite happy to prioritize submitting to the freely readable publications.

    So while I agree that it’s possible that free-to-reader models of short fiction magazines may result in the demise of paywall-controled publications, I disagree that this means authors are “giving it away” or that the overall quality of freely available short fiction (and thus, short fiction that is more likely to be nominated/voted for awards) will suffer.

    What I’ve seen in the time that I’ve been paying close attention to such things, is that a magazine that is able to offer consistent quality fiction to the public for free, rarely has trouble raising the money to continue doing so via methods other than a direct quid pro quo. And if it may take some time (and owner investment) to establish a reputation for quality fiction that is able to engender such a response, well, that’s no different from any number of old-style paper magazines that required years of running in the red before they’d established a reputation sufficient to begin breaking even.

  27. I don’t understand the popularity of “Oral Argument” either, but it demonstrably is a big hit and thus belongs in the collection. I don’t think that most political rants barely disguised as story would get this much notice, no matter what their subject; must be a combination of visibility, novelty, and the author’s famous name.

    Contrast this with David Brin’s contribution to Future Visions, “The Tell”, which is also more polemic than narrative, and yet got little notice. It is longer and less ranty (and I thought it was more interesting, irrespective of the merits of the argument, because Brin actually developed the argument with some care). Or contrast Robert J. Sawyer’s “Waiting for Gordo” in the same volume, which frames a very contemporary discussion about SETI as an imaginary courtroom debate with the barest of narrative veneer. Sawyer actually leaves the outcome of the trial open at the end of the story, one of the things that makes this story worthy but not attention-grabbing.

    You-all can probably think of plenty of older stories in a similar vein. What makes one and not another catch attention? Apart from excellent writing (which I don’t actually think Robinson’s story has), it must be partly random, partly a matter of “zeitgeist”.

  28. You see me now a veteran of a thousand Pixel Scrolls,
    I’ve been living on the web so long, where the Rabid Puppies roar…

  29. You see me now a veteran of a thousand Pixel Scrolls,
    I’ve been living on the web so long, where the Rabid Puppies roar


  30. How about “not only for reasons of quality” as a defining feature of a slate: for example, what if someone offered a list that claimed to be the five best science fiction novels of 2015 by men, or with Christian themes, or by people who have never won the Hugo or Nebula before, or by non-American writers?

    It’s likely that someone could put together good lists for at least three of those four (“Christian themes” is iffiest, imho, and depends on whether the criterion was closer to “actively teaches Christianity” or to “does not deny the divinity of Jesus”). I’m sure that each of those lists would omit something that would go on a list of best novels that didn’t have to meet that qualification. Probably even the same people’s lists of such, in many cases. And I would call those slates if they appeared in time to potentially influence the nominations. (Conversely, a list now of best Christian-themed, or best non-American, sf of 2014 would not be a slate.)

  31. Oneiros: Hmm, that’s the first thing that anyone’s said that’s tempted me to get Radiance. I love me some Calvino and if it scratches that itch…

    Well, I suppose it does depend on what you love about Calvino! FWIW, the Calvino I first thought of when reading Radiance was Invisible Cities, which isn’t a book I’d count among my favorites–but then there is that story in Cosmicomics, “The Distance of the Moon” . . . anyway. Just a warning in case you decide to dive in: Valente does start slow. It took a while for me even to get a sense of the shape of the universe, and then she twisted the plot sideways, so to speak. So YMM(well)V.

  32. I don’t believe there’s a perfect slate definition, and the sealions and SP/RP will always find a way to twist it anyway. I don’t even believe people need a 100% robust definition, although it’s interesting to read various definitions in this thread. But we’re all smart enough (and, clearly, have varying opinions on slates) to know a slate when we see it. I kinda like @Cat’s or @Andrew M’s, but even those probably could be applied to something I other Filers would call a rec list.

  33. @Cat: Good summation of the people Beale’s trying to rope in. And I have to quote this paragraph of yours, because this kind of thing keeps percolating in my brain and you put it very well:

    Personally I intend at the moment to read anything I think is worthwhile that makes the final ballot. If something on a slate also strikes me as interesting, or also had recommendations from people whose tastes seem to match mine makes it onto the final ballot I will read it and see what I think. Slate entries without those qualities I may or may not spend time on. Non-slate entries were honest favorites of a lot of Hugo nominators–that speaks well for them right there. And so on.

    I’m shifting in this direction. After all, I take personal recommendations and broad-based recommendations into account when looking for reading material, if something sound interesting anyway. Maybe this works for me: If other info/recs likely would’ve lead me to X anyway, then it’s reasonable to give it a bigger chance than other slated works.

    Beale won’t bother rec’ing some supposed-SJW story that no one’s heard of, in an attempt to poison-pill it. IMHO, he’ll recommend (a) Castilia House works/people, (b) mediocre-to-bad stuff, and (c) popular “SJW” stuff he hopes to XanaD’oh. This is the second year; I don’t need to do just what I did last year.

    So, like I’ll still nominate Weir, I probably should check out other things that were already on or likely to have gotten on my RADAR, even if slated.

    I think. 😉 Like I said, it’s still percolating a bit. Anyway, thanks. You’d think by the year 9293 (surely near the end of time), I wouldn’t still be mentally hashing this out.

  34. @Heather: You’re quite right; me calling free fiction “for exposure” was hyperbole. Certainly authors are paid, in the cases I’m thinking of. (Publisher models are less clear to me.)

    And you’re right that money+wide-readership is better than just money, so the easy line I drew to quality being affected is also dubious.

    You make good points; I’ll think on this further.

  35. “I know it when I see it” has worked pretty well as a definition of SF for Hugo purposes for all these years. I’m happy to use it for defining slates as well. And if Beale and his cronies don’t like it, tough; their limited minds may be unable to cope without putting everything into rigidly defined little boxes, but that doesn’t require the real world to play along with them.

  36. Much of what makes a slate a slate depends on the intention of BOTH the listmaker(s) and reader(s). Twice this week I shared my list of 2015 favorites with friends who were looking to fill out their ballots. It’s not a slate because they don’t plan on just nominating them because I recommended them. Both I and they intend it as a list of “if you haven’t read these yet, you might like them.” I suspect they’ll like one or two of them enough to nominate, but they’re certainly going to read them first and make their own decisions. And other than identifying my absolute top choice, I did not rank the list. (If they’re not going to have the time to read everything – which they won’t – then it is worth saying “this one is my favorite and here is why.” But that’s because I know them and they trust me and they will make their own informed decisions.) Both have already done a lot of reading and are looking for potential nominees they may have missed. One specifically asked for any books I ranked 7 or higher. That feels like a solid foundation for a non-slate list. That’s certainly more books than I am nominating.

    I pretty much had my ballot complete, and then I added a few more books to my TBR pile based on year-end best of lists. And oh boy am I glad I did, because I have a new entry for slot #2. I feel my sharing my recs with friends is the same thing – a few more to read before you’re done.

    Also, I appear incapable of letting an opportunity to plug The Mechanical pass me by. Any time a friend is looking for suggestions, I say The Mechanical! My commitment to that specific book could border on slate mentality, but I trust my friends to read and judge for themselves.

  37. Sorry if that duplicated – my phone gave me various error messages and I’m not sure what actually posted.

  38. @ Standback

    Thanks for the response — it’s true that your post was what got me thinking in specific lines, but I didn’t want it to look like I was arguing with your position, because I really do see pieces of truth in several different opinions on this topic.

    ETA: for the confused, the post of mine being mentioned her is actually on the 2/2 thread — I have both tabs open and somehow got confused about which one to post in.

  39. @RedWombat:

    *shakes fist at Nicole* You went where God and man was not meant to go!

    @Peter J:

    I may be making unjustified assumptions here, but I suspect Nicole could reasonably claim to be neither God nor man, and so quite entitled to take on that Nazgul. 🙂

    That Nazgul had it coming, Officer! The way it squeezed my pixels, I fell right off the scroll! Right off the scroll, I tell you!

  40. (My deepest apologies, I’m afraid this popped into my head and is forcing its way out!)

    Scrolllander II: The Pixeling

    Though of course, who could forget the haunting music from the first one on the series?

    Who wants … to scroll … forever ….?

  41. I feel it in my pixels
    I feel it in my scrolls
    Filers are all around me
    And so the filking grows

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