Pixel Scroll 7/26 – The Answer, My Friend, is Scrollin’ in the Wind

Rants, disenchants, and Peter Grant, in today’s Scroll.

(1) “The Taffeta Darling,” a guest brought in by the Dallas Gaming Expo to help direct games, says the whole thing was run so badly she quit and wrote “Where’s The Ball Pit? Or Why I Left Dallas Gaming Expo”.

This weekend is the Dallas Gaming Expo, a video gaming convention that had hired me to be their voice of the convention and help them run their gaming tournaments. For the first time ever as a guest, I left what would have been a paid convention gig due to disgust, disbelief and a good conscious [sic].

The Dallas Gaming Expo turned out to be a classic example of a promoter looking to make loads of money off of the gaming community without really knowing what the should be done. This expo was presented with huge expectations with loads of guests, arcade gaming, skeeball, video game tournaments and more! Unfortunately what attendees got Friday night was a ball room full of chairs, 4 wobbly projection screens and about 6-7 TVs with consoles. As a guest of the event I smiled, and hoped for the best and said I was having fun, well because that’s what ya do.  I also wanted to see this event succeed. I thought maybe more would be coming and hopefully it will be better in the morning. I stayed through the night and ran the Super Smash Bros tournament along with guest Natalie Green, which honestly was a lot of fun for me to watch and engage in. On the flip side the tournament itself had quite a few snags including casual rules for tournament play, broken controllers, lagging screenplay, no official forms, and the reliance on a group of volunteers that tried it’s best to make things work.

After bailing on DGE, she went across town to Quakecon, another gaming event in Dallas this weekend.

A dissastified customer has even started a Change.org petition to ban the Dallas Gaming Expo from happening again (though only 29 signers as of this writing).

(2) I know in the world of sf&f there’s a tremendous competition to be the field’s biggest narcissist, but honestly, is anybody more stuck on himself than Michael Moorcock? The headline of his latest interview — “Michael Moorcock: ‘I think Tolkien was a crypto-fascist”.

“I think he’s a crypto-fascist,” says Moorcock, laughing. “In Tolkien, everyone’s in their place and happy to be there. We go there and back, to where we started. There’s no escape, nothing will ever change and nobody will ever break out of this well-­ordered world.” How does he feel about the triumph of Tolkienism and, subsequently, the political sword-and-sorcery epic Game of Thrones, in making fantasy arguably bigger than it has ever been?

“To me, it’s simple,” he says. “Fantasy became as bland as everything else in entertainment. To be a bestseller, you’ve got to rub the corners off. The more you can predict the emotional arc of a book, the more successful it will become.

Nothing ever changes in Middle-Earth? Evil is defeated, the spirits on the paths of the dead are redeemed, all the elves leave, the Shire is trashed…. Never mind. I’ve read bales of Moorcock’s Eternal Champion novels. Entertaining, but he didn’t beat Tolkien at his own game.

(3) A radio dramatization of Iain M. Banks’ novella “The State of the Art” (45 minutes) is available free on the BBC for another three weeks.

The Culture ship Arbitrary arrives on Earth in 1977 and finds a planet obsessed with alien concepts like ‘property’ and ‘money’ and on the edge of self-destruction. When Agent Dervley Linter, decides to go native can Diziet Sma change his mind?

From Wikipedia:

The novella chronicles a Culture mission to Earth in the late 1970s, and also serves as a prequel of sorts to Use of Weapons by featuring one of that novel’s characters, Diziet Sma. Here, Sma argues for contact with Earth, to try to fix the mess the human species has made of it; another Culture citizen, Linter, goes native, choosing to renounce his Culture body enhancements so as to be more like the locals; and Li, who is a Star Trek fan, argues that the whole “incontestably neurotic and clinically insane species” should be eradicated with a micro black hole. The ship Arbitrary has ideas, and a sense of humour, of its own.

“Also while I’d been away, the ship had sent a request on a postcard to the BBC’s World Service, asking for ‘Mr David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” for the good ship Arbitrary and all who sail in her.’ (This from a machine that could have swamped Earth’s entire electro-magnetic spectrum with whatever the hell it wanted from somewhere beyond Betelgeuse.) It didn’t get the request played. The ship thought this was hilarious.”

(4) After a 17-year hiatus, W. Paul Ganley’s Weirdbook Magazine is coming back. A Stephen Fabian cover will be on the back and this artwork by Dusan Kostic will be on the front —

Weirdbook 31

(5) Futurefen is a new WordPress site hoping to serve as a news and conrunning resource for kids programming.

I started this site because of frustration with getting timely and accurate info about kid programming from SFF conventions. I wanted to start a larger dialogue about how conventions can better serve ALL members of our community, and provide a centralized resource for information for fans with kids. For many of us, quality kid programs are a necessity to attend a convention. For us as a community, we need to foster and include and welcome kids to our gatherings because kids are our future. They’re the future fans, the future scientists, future writers and artists and inventors, future interesting people. Many of them are those things RIGHT NOW, and they have a lot of good they bring along with the energy they take.

I don’t really know if/how this site is going to work, but here we go. Let’s make a difference. 🙂

(6) Peter Grant scoffs at Jason Sanford’s announcement that the Tor Boycott has failed. Grant encourages supporters to ”Stay the course”.

I repeat what I’ve said before:  the Tor boycott is a long-term effort.  I know for certain, based on solid feedback from literally hundreds of individuals, that it’s already biting.  It was an eye-opener at LibertyCon last month to have so many people come up to me, thank me for taking a stand, and confirm that they were part of the boycott.  I’m certain that in 2015 alone, the boycott will have a six-figure effect on Tor’s turnover – not much for a multi-million-dollar-turnover publisher, but that’s just the start.  As those involved in the boycott continue it and spread the word, the impact will grow.  I fully expect it to reach a cumulative total of seven figures over time.  Again, that may not seem like a lot to scoffers and naysayers;  but I think in today’s publishing market, where margins are already razor-thin, such a loss of turnover may have an impact out of all proportion to its dollar value.  Vox Day, who’s also called for a boycott of Tor, has more ‘inside information’ than I do, and he’s also confident that the campaign is having an impact.

Thank you to all of you who’ve taken a stand on principle and stood up for what is morally and ethically right.  That has a value all its own, in a world that doesn’t attach much value to either morals or ethics.  Stay the course.  This will go on for years, and I think it will bear both short- and long-term fruit.  (As I pointed out a couple of weeks ago, there’s already convincing evidence of that.)

(7) Whereas all George R.R. Martin is saying is give peace a chance when you meet in person at Sasquan.

From talking and emailing with various friends and colleagues, however, I know that some of them will NOT be going to Spokane, mainly because the Hugo Wars have left a bad taste in their mouths. Others will attend, but not without trepidation. They wonder how much of the acrimony of Puppygate will spill over into the con itself… to the panels, the parties, the hallways. Will this worldcon be a celebration or a battleground? A family reunion or a family feud?

I wish I could answer that question, but no one really knows. I’m hoping for “celebration” and “family reunion,” and I think that’s the best bet… but we won’t know till the fat lady sings and the dead dogs howl.

And he has some gentle words for people he feels have been caught in the middle.

I don’t know Kary English. (It is possible I have met her or been in the same room with her at some previous con, but if so I don’t remember. I meet a lot of people). Until Puppygate and her double nomination, I had never read any of her work. But I agree with much of what she had to say in those posts, and I applaud her for saying it, knowing (as surely she must have) that by breaking ranks with “her side,” aka the Puppies, she would face the wroth of some of those who had previously championed her. I know that there are some on “my side” who have slammed English despite these posts, insisting that she spoke up too late in the game, that she was trying “to have it both ways.” No, sorry, that’s idiocy. Like Kloos and Bellet and Schubert before her, she’s opting out of the kennel and the slates. I will not fault her for not doing so sooner. This thing has been hard for all concerned, and these choices are painful… especially for a young writer who has just received his or her first Hugo nomination.

If there is any hope for reconciliation post-Puppygate, it lies with voices of moderation and forgiveness on both sides, not with the extremists and the haters. It lies with Marko Kloos and Annie Bellet and Edmund Schubert. I hope they are all at worldcon. I would like to meet them, buy them a drink, shake their hands, and argue about books with them.

[Thanks for these links goes out to JJ and John King Tarpinian. Title credit to Brian Z.]

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270 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/26 – The Answer, My Friend, is Scrollin’ in the Wind

  1. Setting up win-win scenarios is good business, good tactics and good politics. I don’t fault RP from trying to put those conditions in place. It’s smart.

    Actually, it isn’t smart at all. In fact, it is stupid, because then your actions are meaningless. In Beale’s case, it is incredibly stupid because he’s not actually “setting up win-win scenarios”, he’s just claiming that no matter the outcome it was what he wanted anyway. His stance is that of a petulant six-year-old, and it is transparently obvious to anyone.

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with bloc voting. And least it is open and transparent, as opposed to the log rolling, etc. which has gone on in the past.

    There is no evidence that it has gone on in the past. The SP leaders have spent a lot of time saying that it has happened, and yet they have produced zero evidence that it has. There is, bluntly, no evidence backing up any of the Puppy claims on any point at all related to the Hugos.

    The SP treat the vitriol heaped upon them over the last three go-rounds as supporting their hypothesis.

    Except there wasn’t vitriol heaped on them the first go areound. There was just Corriea talking about using his nominations “to make people’s heads explode”. There was nothing but assumed vitriol that never materialized in a way that Correia could substantiate.

    Last year the vitriol was directed at Beale being nominated for what was clearly a terribly inferior work, and for the rest of the SP slate being quite poor quality as well. This year the ire has resulted from the absolutely terrible quality of the slated nominees as a whole. There’s nothing about the conservatism or lack thereof of the nominees being the source of the anger. Just the fact that for some reason, the Puppies have chosen to pack the Hugo ballot with terribly inferior works.

    If there was a bias against conservative authors, Correia and Torgersen would not have been nominated for the Campbell. Brandon Sanderson would not have been nominated. Nor would Eric James Stone. Torgersen’s story Ray of Light would have never been nominated. And so on and so forth. There’s just no evidence that there is a bias against conservatives. The bias is against slating and bloc voting inferior work onto the ballot.

    But sure, keep living in your fantasy world where you can pretend to be persecuted so you can justify dishonorable tactics. Just realize that the rest of the people living in the real world clearly see you and your fellow Puppies for what you are.

  2. Steve Moss: if you think an attempted civil exchange of ideas constitutes me “lecturing” you

    If you think

    Don’t [You should not] stress over No Award and/or don’t [You should not] stress over the author (SP/RP/No-P). If a non-Puppy is the best, [You should] vote for the non-Puppy. If it is dreck, [You should] vote No Award. Don’t [You should not] check bona fides and don’t [You should not] check pedigree… But don’t [You should not] vote out of spite or the RP win. [You should] Vote your conscience

    constitutes “an attempted civil exchange of ideas” rather than a lecture, then I would say you seriously need to brush up on the definition of “civil exchange”.

  3. @Steve Moss: I was confused by your response to me. It read like I had been making an argument about voting. I was actually making one about the slate-creation process itself. Which appears to have been, “Brad picks his friends or people he wants to curry favor with.”

  4. I was actually making one about the slate-creation process itself.

    The Puppies don’t like to talk about that, as it exposes the whole slate-making process for the sham that it was.

  5. Jim Henley, that’s ok, I’m confused by Steve Moss’s response to me, wherein, if I’m parsing him correctly, he seems to think that my stated position of reading all the nominees and ranking them as I feel they deserve is Doin It Rong.

    But perhaps Mr. Ross is just not good at written communication, and means something different than what I interpreted him to say. I did ask him to clarify, which he has not yet done. So I’ll ask again: Steve, will you clarify your meaning for me?

  6. Whoo-boy, Torgersen has popped his head up to spar with GRRM in the comments on that post.

    Unsurprisingly, it’s another shameless regurgitation of all of the Puppies’ made-up “facts” with a large side-helping of faux nobility and self-aggrandizing martyrdom.

  7. a large side-helping of faux nobility and self-aggrandizing martyrdom

    I believe that’s what Slacktivist refers to as ‘martyrbating’.

  8. JJ, thanks for the link; I don’t normally read GRRM’s blog so I would have missed this. And I’m glad not to have missed this.

  9. Cassy B.: thanks for the link; I don’t normally read GRRM’s blog so I would have missed this. And I’m glad not to have missed this.

    Yeah, Torgersen’s the Poster Child for When You’ve Already Dug Yourself Into A Deep Chasm With Your Lies, You Really Should Stop Digging.

  10. Cassy B @ 3:36 pm- By memory, you made two assertions. First, every single Puppy work was ranked below No Award, allegedly on the merits. If you genuinely believe that, then fine. Vote your conscience. I think you should consider that such luminaries as GRRM has found worthy works on the Puppy ballot and, just maybe, anger about “slates”, etc. may be coloring your judgement and reconsider, but that’s not my call. But whether the No Award vote is to punish slates, or because it isn’t good enough, if enough people follow your lead things will get worse.

    As to the E Pluribus Hugo change, I wish everyone the best of luck and hope it rectifies all the ills intended. My suspicion is that it will be gamed just like the current system.

    PJ Evans @ 3:42 pm- In your opinion. I think there is plenty of data to suggest that the Hugos have been gamed in the past by one group or the other.

    Camestros Felapton @ 3:44 pm- And it may be just that, “trufen” (or whatever they call themselves) may be skew more left than most SF/F readers. It would also explain why I can’t identify a single conservative winner of the Hugo Best Nove (the “grand” prize) in the last couple of decades, though I think one might be Libertarian. But known liberals and socialists have won, and aren’t shy about discussing their politics. Which would also help explain the SP/RP perception of the Hugo Awards.

    Nigel @ 3:45 pm- I think I’m right. SP does not equate to RP. Vox Day posted somewhere that he initially planned to manipulate a No Award this year, but acquisced to Corriea and Torgerson’s request that he not do that, both as he respected them (and wanted to demonstrate to them being nice guys would get them absolutely nothing from “trufen”) and he began to think SP/RP might win. So he pushed his No Award plan back a year.

    The post was on VD’s site, but I lack the desire to dig it up. Happy hunting if you are so inclined and, if not, I can accept that one of us might be wrong but it’s not worth either of our time to untangle who said what when.

    Camestros Felapton @ 4:23 pm- Alright, I found my energy. First, most of your data points concern the 2014 Hugos, not this year’s Hugos (which is what I was talking about).

    Second, as to VD’s plan re: 2015 Hugos-

    On July 16, 2015 he references his original intent and then his change in intent. http://voxday.blogspot.com/2015/07/m-zed-votes-no.html

    On May 3, 2015 he again references his original plan and some reasons for changing the plan: http://voxday.blogspot.com/2015/05/patience-is-strategic-virtue.html

    On April 23, 2015 he describes the relationship between SP and RP: http://voxday.blogspot.com/2015/04/a-thing-to-remember.html

    On April 11, 2015 he states: “It’s called Xanatos Gambit, George. Look it up. Anything that happens IS a victory for us. That’s why “the trufans and SMOFs and good guys” are so upset. Deny us Hugos? Whoop-de-damn-do. We were never going to even be nominated anyhow. Change the rules? Make our point AND, as a bonus, make future Awards less legitimate. No Award everything? See: 2016 Hugos. No Award us? See: 2016 Hugos and you. Leave well enough alone and simply vote on the merits? Some of ours win a few richly deserved Hugos.” http://voxday.blogspot.com/2015/04/george-martin-knows-were-right.html

    The above are representative only. His tactical comments and analysis as to possible outcomes are duplicated on several other posts.

    I concede that in my quick skim I didn’t find the post about his disagreements with Brad and Larry as to tactics, and his decision to work with them this year, so: 1) either I’m wrong; or, 2) I just missed it.

    Jim Henley @ 7:35 pm- I don’t know Brad. I don’t know his friends. I don’t know who he might want to “curry favor with”. If I had known I could vote for the Hugos for a mere $40, I would have nominated many of the same works he recommended (Skin Game, Single Samurai, Totaled, etc.) as I really liked them. So I have no problem with his selection process as: 1) I wasn’t part of it; 2) I didn’t know about it; 3) I don’t know the process employed; but, 4) If I had known or participated, I would have agreed with most of his end results.

    Cassy B @ 7:58 pm- I don’t live on the internet. I work. I have a family. I coach soccer youth teams. I drink beer. I read. Etc. I try to make the internet rounds once a day or so, but not always. So my response is above, I apologize for not responding within few hours (as you apparently expect), and I hope you understand my belated response. If not, no big deal.

    JJ @ 6:18 am- Again, we disagree. I think Brad Torgersen is a decent guy who makes some good points. I admire his willing to stand up and speak. So I don’t view Brad as digging himself deeper.

  11. Steve Moss, Cassy B @ 3:36 pm- By memory, you made two assertions. First, every single Puppy work was ranked below No Award, allegedly on the merits. If you genuinely believe that, then fine. Vote your conscience. I think you should consider that such luminaries as GRRM has found worthy works on the Puppy ballot and, just maybe, anger about “slates”, etc. may be coloring your judgement and reconsider, but that’s not my call. But whether the No Award vote is to punish slates, or because it isn’t good enough, if enough people follow your lead things will get worse.

    Why will things get worse? If I vote for dreck because I’m afraid, or because I want to go along with the crowd, THEN things get worse. I’ve been voting for Hugos for years. I’ve *always* used No Award. But I’ve never needed it as much as this year. I only vote for Hugo-quality works. There was a distressing paucity of them this year. Skin Game was the nth book in a series, and not the best of them. Not a bad book, but not Hugo-worthy. “Totalled” was a decent retelling of “Flowers for Algernon”. Not a bad story, but also not Hugo-worthy. Everything else was lousy. That samurai thing? Read like bad video-game fanfic. No emotion, no connection, not even any understanding about what samurai actually were. Could have been a cool story. But it wasn’t. Spiritual Plain took an interesting idea about proof of life after death and killed it with a travelogue… and not even an interesting travelogue. Beasts and Birds? No plot, no point; reads like an overwrought Aesop’s Fable with no actual lesson.

    Tell me, please; did you put “Wisdom From My Internet” above No Award? If so, what, exactly, did you find Hugo-worthy about it?

    My judgment, which is mine and nobody else’s, is that the Puppies nominated shit. Which is reflected in how I voted.

    But I’m not asking anyone else to “follow my lead.” Unless my lead is “Read everything and vote according to its merits.” Which is my whole point. Did you love “Single Samurai”? Fine; vote for it. Don’t tell me how to vote, however, just like I won’t tell you how to vote.

  12. TL;DR version: Steve Moss seems to assume I’ve giving marching orders to others, or taking them, for that matter. I’m not. I’m voting my literary tastes. And the only marching order I have is for everyone to do likewise, with THEIR literary tastes. Not somebody else’s tastes; not MY tastes. Their tastes.

  13. Now Annie Bellet has made a comment:

    it’s become super clear to me over the last few months that the SP/RP thing has as much to do with getting great fiction noticed as GG has to do with ethics in journalism.

  14. I think there is plenty of data to suggest that the Hugos have been gamed in the past by one group or the other.

    There certainly have been people trying to game them. Not the admins or the con committees or the publishers, but people like the juvenile canines, and generally for the same reason: they can’t get a rocket on their own merits.

  15. > “I can’t identify a single conservative winner of the Hugo Best Novel (the “grand” prize) in the last couple of decades …”

    I would like to seriously ask — are there specific works by conservatives you think should have won? Which ones, in which years?

  16. 2000, the novel award went to work by a libertarian. (A Deepness In The Sky, Vernor Vinge)
    1996, ditto, and an overtly political work at that. (The Diamond Age, Neal Stephenson)
    1993, another libertarian space opera. (A Fire Upon The Deep, Vernor Vinge)

    And like Kyra, I wonder if there are clearly worthy libertarian or other conservative novels one can point to as clearly deserving it. Contenders made the short list this year (thanks to the slates), in 2014 (Correia and Jordan/Sanderson), and in various past years, but honestly, none of them strike me as “shoulda won it” in the way that I think, say, Robinson should have beat Scalzi in 2013 or or Mieville, McLeod, or Wilson should have beaten Gaiman in 2002.

  17. @Steve
    Beale claims that he is equally happy with a puppy candidate winning or a No Award, it’s a win-win for him.
    There are two possible interpretations.
    1. Beale has always been happy with the prospect of some categories being No Awarded
    2. Beale decided to claim this as a victory, once it became clear this was a likely outcome.
    Evidence for (1) would be some posts by Beale written between the publication of the Rabid Puppy list and the release of the Hugo shortlist stating that both possibilities represent victories. If that was his plan all along, one would expect to see it announced with the Rabid Puppy list. The links you posted can be explained by (1) or (2), they don’t support either interpretation.
    Evidence for (2)? The Three Body Problem was not on the Rabid Puppy list. It only got on the shortlist because a Puppy nominee withdrew. But when it got onto the shortlist, Beale said a win for The Three Body Problem would count as a victory for him, because he totally meant to nominate it. He is clearly the kind of guy capable of shooting himself in the foot and claiming it was intentional.

  18. (and wanted to demonstrate to them being nice guys would get them absolutely nothing from “trufen”)

    They weren’t being nice guys. And Beale? Any point he had to make would have been dependent on the nominated works being any good, so that it would have been clear and demonstrable when they got no-awarded out of anti-conservative animus. Then people might have been forced to acknowledge the point, despite the use of slating. But the puppies were so hostile and arrogant and entitled, and they nominated so much drek the point is lost, if not downright invalidated. Where is all the great overlooked conservative SFF? It’s certainly not on the puppy slates. Now the only point and purpose is for Beale to declare a hollow, useless victory, no matter what happens. And that’s it. No point has been proven, except perhaps that something like EPH was overdue, and a bunch of other stuff largely to the puppys’ discredit.

  19. It’s interesting to read Brad’s latest explanation of just who is so very hard done by over on Not A Blog.

    We’ll know there’s been a positive impact if, for instance, people stop snubbing Ed Schubert’s magazine simply because they hate Orson Scott Card. The culture war demands that Orson Scott Card be reviled. Nobody is debating IGMS on literary merit, they simply turn their backs because Card has been deemed an ideological unperson—and his publication is a collateral casualty.

    So you’d think that the stories Brad had gamed onto the ballot would be well represented from IGMS wouldn’t you? One of them. Earth to Earth, etc, etc, etc. Not the worst thing in it’s section I grant you, but that’s not saying much.

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