Pixel Scroll 9/5 Their Eyes Were Watching Cod

(1) As noted by Patrick on Making Light, the Guardian has an editorial about the sudden turnaround in British public opinion regarding the need to help Syrian refugees, “a shift clearly caused by the heartrending photographs of young Aylan Kurdi’s drowned body washed up on a Turkish beach.” More commentary about the main topic in his post, but here’s the reason someone sent me the link —

Likewise, I’m as small-minded and focused on the local as anybody else. Normally the displacement of millions of innocent Syrians tends to weigh on me as merely one of a seemingly endless series of humanitarian crises for which there is never enough attention or care. But put one particular namecheck into a Guardian editorial and you have my undivided attention:

[I]t is also an astonishingly vivid demonstration of the inadequacy of statistics to move our moral sentiments compared with the power of pictures, and still more of pictures that bring to life stories, to affect us in ways that reasoning never could. As the critic Teresa Nielsen Hayden observed, “Story is a force of nature.” One single death and a refugee family have moved a nation to whom 200,000 deaths and 11 million refugees had remained for years merely a statistic, and not a very interesting one at that.

That was…unexpected.

(2) The impression I get from Larry Correia’s “MHI Challenge Coin Update” is that today – the 5th – is the last day to order Monster Hunter International challenge coins. Unlike another famous Puppy, he probably has only one 5th in his deck.

Monster Hunter International challenge coin

Monster Hunter International challenge coin

(3) Steve Davidson ends his new opinion piece about SP4 on Amazing Stories on a satirical note:

But until the event is scheduled, we’ve still got Sad Puppies IV to deal with, because the problem is, as spokesperson for that effort, Kate Paulk’s words do not match her stated intent.

I’ll shortly be announcing the creation of the One True SF/F Award Run by Real Fans for Real Reasons, which will be presented at a soon-to-be-announced convention, the One True SF/F Genre Convention Run by Real Fans for Real Reasons. Which no doubt will be quickly shortened to SFFGCRBRFFRRCon, just as the awards themselves (a silver flying saucer base, above which will be mounted a symbol for science fiction, fantasy or horror that will be crowd-sourced and unique every year) will soon be known as the SFFGCRBRFFRRies.

Everyone attending the convention will receive a ribbon to attach to their ID badge. That ribbon will state that the wearer is a REAL FAN for REAL REASONS. Additional ribbons, containing short, pithy summations of REASONS can be appended to the RFRR ribbons for those who wish greater specificity. Summations such as: “I’m clueless about fandom but it must be doing something wrong because I am not the center of attention”, “Money is the root of all evil, I earn so much I must be Evil”, “The message in my message fiction is that message fiction sucks” and “Someone on the internet told me that someone on the internet is doing it wrong”. For a fee, personal REASON ribbons will be made on site.

(4) Patrick May – “Sad Puppies 4:  A Slate By Any Other Name”

Recommendations will be collected on the Sadpuppies 4 website, where one page will be dedicated to each category. In February or March, Paulk’s stated goal is to post “a list of the ten or so most popular recommendations in each Hugo category, and a link to the full list in all its glory.” Paulk goes on to say “If you want to see your favorite author receive a nomination and an award, your best bet will be to cast your nomination ballot for one of the works in the top ten or thereabouts of The List.”

And therein lies the problem. Even though SP4 is not positioning their list as a slate and even though the organizers plan to provide a recommendation list with more entries than allowed nominees, the approach of ranking the recommendations and suggesting that people vote for more popular works gives the appearance of attempting to game the Hugo nomination process. As we saw at Sasquan, this raises the ire of a significant percentage of Hugo voters. Yes, some people voted against the works themselves and, yes, some people voted against the Sad Puppies personally, but many voted No Award because slates violate what they see as the spirit of the process. Skewing the voting patterns from anything other than purely individual choices will be interpreted similarly.

(5) We interrupt this Scroll to link “If You Were A Platypus, My Dear – A Play In As Many Acts As Is Required” by RedWombat (Part I and Part II)


Commenter D: No, it was only nominated—


Troll B: You’re all so racist against Ruritanians.

Commenter B: You’re the one who brought them up in the first place! No one was saying anything about Ruritanians!

Troll B: As an outsider, it’s obvious to me that’s what you were talking about. You should just admit that you all think they’re tax cheats.

Commenters J-Q: …we don’t. No one thinks that. That would be racist.


FFA: *makes popcorn*

(6) A post on Hackaday admires Sasquan’s Hugo base, made by Matthew Dockery (aka gfish):

A lot of hackers like science fiction. If you aren’t one of them, you might not know that the Hugo is a prestigious science fiction award handed out at the World Science Fiction Convention every year. The statue looks like a rocket ship, but every year the base the rocket ship rests on is different. Kinetic sculptor [gfish] realized the convention would be in Spokane (his hometown and near his current residence) and decided to enter the competition to create the bases. He won, so the 2015 Hugos all have [gfish’s] bases on them and it’s pretty neat that he’s shared the process he used to make them.

And base maker “gfish” takes you step-by-step through the design and manufcaturing process:

The image I had in mind was a kind of spiky, tessellated… something. Rocket blast, maybe, or the central plateau of Washington state, surrounded by mountains. I wanted to leave it ambiguous…

Once I was happy with the design, I needed to find a way to “unfold” it into individual polygons. I had heard of the Japanese papercraft program Pepakura being used by costumers to make armor, so I tried that. It worked — and it even let me test my design in paper first! I’m glad it did, because this let me refine the design in a very fast and cheap way. Things always look different in real life.

I’ve wondered whether people have been shanking themselves on the edges while carrying these Hugos. Flashback: In 1989 Deb Geiser says she cut herself working on a Hugo (mine, as it turned out) and those weren’t sharp at all.

Gfish/Dockery continued a tradition started by Hugo-maker Jack McKnight — missing part of the con to finish working on the awards —

There was a slight panic at the last minute because I sized the holes wrong on one of the nameplates before sending the file to the laser etching service, but that was easily solved with my dad’s drill press. And I missed the masquerade because I was stuck in a hotel room bolting on rockets. But you know what? That was absolutely okay. This is probably the closest I will ever come to winning a Hugo myself, and I loved every minute of it.

(7) Cracked delivers another round of honest movie posters.

little orphan ani

(8) Thomas Olde Heuvelt comments on John C. Wright’s “Hugo Controversy Quiz Questions”

What struck me is your answer to question 6. You state: “Do you remember how science fiction began? We write stories about space princesses being rescued by space heroes from space monsters, pirates, and evil robots. Those who attempt to find a deeper meaning or a social crusade in that are ill informed illwishers whose ulterior motives are unfriendly to our genre.” This much boils down to something I’ve read was part of the main argument for Sad Puppies 3 (I believe it was Brad Torgersen who said it, but I may be mistaken): that they wanted stories about tentacles, not social issues. A pledge for more ‘adventure’, to generalize. Which is a fair argument, I think.

Except… your story that got replaced by mine, “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Clause,” is not a story about space monsters or tentacles, it’s a story about a Christmas miracle imposed by God, and fairly evangelical as interpreted by many. (Whether it can be taken as an ‘adventure’ story, is an argument I won’t go into here). I immediately take your word that your intent is not to “indoctrinate the readers into a particular [in this case Christian] worldview” and even “reject that premise with scorn and umbrage”. But I do know that for many who are not Christian (like me), the story *may* read as evangelical and indoctrinating. So, if you didn’t have any agenda and just wanted to tell a good story, the interpretation of indoctrination is purely based on a difference between what is close to you and what is close to non-religious readers. And that, I think, is exactly the same the other way around. I am fairly sure that John Chu didn’t have any political agenda when he wrote a story with gay characters (“The Water That Falls On You From Nowhere”), and I’m a 100% sure that I didn’t have a political agenda when I wrote my first Hugo-nominated story, “The Boy Who Cast No Shadow” (which also happened to feature a gay character). I’ve read many misassumptions that stories like these are always part of some bigger conspiracy to push a social agenda. But that’s nonsense. I don’t have an agenda, except to write what I think are good stories. They may differ from what you think are good stories, and that’s perfectly fine. That’s the real diversity in sciencefiction and fantasy.

Let me state this: people who write different stories than what you know or like, not necessarily have “sad and narrow lives”. You glorify what you know. I glorify what I know. Stephen King glorifies what he knows. Whether it’s God, or a gay tentacle, or an evil clown – as long as they are good stories, who cares?

(9) Otherwise, a typical day at the office for John C. Wright – “More of the Same”

I note that Mr George RR Martin calls for a return to civility in the Sad Puppies debate (http://grrm.livejournal.com/440444.html). I welcome the idea and would not be displeased if the Puppykickers were men of such character as to be able to carry through with it. But I applaud the gesture….

They addicts of Social Justice seek forever to be outraged at some nonexistent injustice, so that they can paint themselves as martyrs and crusaders in a righteous cause, but without the inconvenience of suffering martyrdom or the travail of crusade which would accompany any fight against a real injustice.

One sign of Morlockery is to pen a missive asking one’s foes to abandon their arms and surrender in the name of compromise or civility or somesuch hogwash, while offering nothing, nothing whatsoever, in return, not even basic honesty.

Nor is Mr. Martin in a position to offer anything. Like the Sad Puppies, his side is a loose coalition of likeminded but independent members.

If he refrains from incivility, but his allies do not, I gain nothing by forswearing the use of such colorful terms as ‘Morlocks’ or accurate terms as ‘Christ-haters.’ If I wanted to be bland and inaccurate, I would adopt the flaccid language of political correctness.

And, by an entirely expected coincidence, during the same fortnight as Mr. Martin’s call for civility, we find other members of the SocJus movement busily not being civil or honest:

The surrealistic sensation of finding oneself subject to the two-minute hate for things one did not say by  eager Witch-hunters (leveling silly, false and negligent accusations apparently in hopes of gaining a reputation for zealotry) is not one I would wish on any unstoical soul. In this week’s episode, we find that I call men bad names not because they betray my trust, ruin my favorite show, and seek to worm their sick doctrines into the minds of impressionable children, but because I do not like women befriending women. Who knew?


(10) Philip Sandifer – “Weird Kitties: Best Novel Open Thread”

So far, for my part, I’ve gotten through Seveneves, which I thought a good but not great Neal Stephenson novel, and am about a third of the way through The Vorrh, which is very much the sort of novel you’d expect Alan Moore to call “the current century’s first landmark work of fantasy and ranking amongst the best pieces ever written in that genre.” The latter will almost certainly make my ballot; the former could be knocked off without too much trouble. I’ll probably not get to The Shepherd’s Crown, since I’ve not read a Discworld novel in decades, but may well nominate it just because a Hugo ballot without it would just feel wrong somehow.

(11) The argument against reblogging entire posts:

[Thanks to Shao Ping, Mark, Steve Davidson and John King Tarpinian for some of these links. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

427 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/5 Their Eyes Were Watching Cod

  1. Mike Glyer on September 6, 2015 at 6:09 pm said:

    Fifteen out of the 10 best books. We need to coin a word for that and make it some kind of standard metric when we’re doing recommendations here.

    Though, come to think of it, an “extra five” is now a ‘Beale’. (But then, I’m sure we’d all be reluctant to honor him with ANY eponym….)

  2. “Wakulla” I thought was a beautiful piece of writing but not really SFnal. Perhaps the Pups hated it less than IYWADML because they’re willing to admit racism existed and was bad (safely in the past, of course) but not that gay-bashing exists and is bad right now?

    This is how it seems to me too. It’s OK to be against racism, as long as you define it as things like enforced segregation and laws against interracial marriage, and don’t believe that it’s still a significant force today. But to focus on gay-bashing, well, that’s just people claiming victim status so they can get special rights.

    Posting from 2138 when, sad to say, racism still casts a shadow.

  3. Um… Exclude fantasy, indispensable works of the past ten years:

    Among Others
    Leviathan’s Wake
    Ancillary Justice

    Push it out to 20 years and I’ll include A Deepness in the Sky and Cryptonomicon.

  4. I didn’t think IYWADML was even referring to gay-bashing per se. It was strictly a case of other-bashing. We don’t know why the five drunks decided to beat this guy down with pool cues. That’s the beauty of it, IMHO. Everyone can find their own meaning.

    (And if people are seeing themselves in the attackers, that perhaps says more about them than about Swirsky.)

  5. Mike Glyer on September 6, 2015 at 6:09 pm said:

    Fifteen out of the 10 best books. We need to coin a word for that and make it some kind of standard metric when we’re doing recommendations here.

    …soooo, a list of “ten items plus an extra five” is, therefore, a deciBeale.

  6. Dawn Incognito: And if people are seeing themselves in the attackers, that perhaps says more about them than about Swirsky.

    I think that is exactly what is happening, and that is exactly why that story makes so many Puppies so very angry.

    Every person who’s ever seen a news item where a gay person or a POC or a Muslim got bashed or killed and thought “serves ’em right” will read IYWADML and see themselves in it.

    And based on the very public views of the Puppy standard-bearers — JCW, VD, Brad “Affirmative Action” Torgersen — I would guess that a great many of the Puppies share those views to a greater or lesser extent. Because how many people would be willing to publicly profess allegiance to a movement where the leaders’ views are complete anathema to their own?

  7. Fifteen out of the 10 best books. We need to coin a word for that and make it some kind of standard metric when we’re doing recommendations here.

    When I was in college, my friend Ivy had so many things she would say were in her “top ten” movies or “top ten” albums that I started saying they were in Ivy’s hundred top ten.

    Some friends, including Ivy, and I have been using the phrase ever since.

  8. Thanks, Jim! Put it on my list right after “Cat Pictures, Please”, which I recommend to everyone. Now that’s a delightful story; even my non-fan friends love it.

    Dawn: good point. But I certainly read it as gay-bashing by rich frat boys (though it could have equally been brown-person-bashing by white yuppies, or Muslim-bashing by non-Muslims), and apparently so did the Pups. And yes, the fact that they were insulted by it means that deep down they suspect they are the sort of people who’d do that. But I’d put my money on the terrible scourge of Teh Ghey, which Puppies seem to think is a) horrible and b) easily transmitted just by mentioning it in a neutral fashion. And of course I think TooManyJens is a swell person. 😉

    (sings) In the yeaaaaar 3995… File 770 continues under the editor GlyerOTron XIV.

    (I’m so hoping someone posts from the year 770.)

  9. I’m now 82% into THE SHEPHERD’S CROWN, and it certainly isn’t getting a Hugo nomination from me.

    It’s pleasant to read, and there’s some very nice moments, but it reads very much like a first draft. There are repeated phrases that are easy to slip in while writing, but you’d notice the repetition and replace them in a second draft. The book feels thin, like it needs the kind of depth and texture a second draft would give it.

    It’s Pratchett’s last book, yes, and thin Pratchett is better than a lot of other writers’ best. But it’s not award-quality writing. To give it an award would be like giving Heinlein a Hugo for TO SAIL BEYOND THE SUNSET, because he wrote so many great books. It’d be awarding the wrong book.

    It is nice to visit with well-loved characters again. But it’s a pleasant visit, not a masterpiece.

  10. @Kurt – That’s how I feel. It’s an underpainting, not a masterpiece, parts are emotionally moving and well worth reading, but I feel no need to nominate it for a Hugo.

  11. I’m not a Puppy. But there was a time in my life when I might have been one. So I have a first-hand memory of what it’s like to be “anti-PC” from the inside, and I think an earlier take on the ideological hate for “Dinosaur” is closer to the mark.

    To be on the right in US politics – to be conservative or libertarian – necessarily puts you in opposition to the actual existing policies society has put in place to partially ameliorate sexism, racism, homophobia etc.

    That leaves you the choice of either proclaiming that sexism, racism and homophobia are awesome, or that they just aren’t salient. Plenty of conservatives and libertarians are, personally, no more bigoted than the typical moderate and progressive. So the first option repulses them. Even many of the ones that are more bigoted than the average bear feel the need to keep up appearances. So the anti-anti-racist and anti-feminist etc. entails of contemporary conservatism and libertarianism push one to the view that of course racism and sexism and homophobia used to be huge problems! But Republicans like Martin Luther King and Dwight Eisenhower eliminated all that long ago over the objections of “former Klansman Robert Byrd and the Democrat Party,” so we can get rid of all this big government now, ‘kay?

    So anything which presents personal bigotry or structural oppression as still material to contemporary life is a direct threat to the most vulnerable part of both the contemporary program of the respectable right, but also the self-conception of its adherents. Either other-izing violence matters, in which case, ooh, guilty conscience! Or it doesn’t, in which case the story or person claiming it does is a damnable liar. Either way, the response can only be fury.

  12. If You Were a Dinosaur My Love is very short — anyone who wants to be outraged about it can be in just a couple minutes. Wakulla Springs (or Weak Ulna Springs as autocorrect has it) is long; it takes a real commitment.

  13. [No idea re “influential” or “definitive” anything over whatever period, so, moving on…]

    My mother was a theatre director and would at times muse wistfully about how much she wanted to do Titus Andronicus on a steeply raked stage with GALLONS and GALLONS (and GALLONS (did I mention GALLONS?)) of fake blood. She wanted to present it so that the actors at the end would be wading through it. Never got a chance to stage it that way, that I know of…

    On the “currently reading” front, I’m not quite halfway through A Key, an Egg, an Unfortunate Remark and keep smacking into how much I hate omniscient third as a POV. Yes, yes, I get why (in universe) the narrative is coming out that way. I still don’t like it, and am working against saying “nope, doesn’t work!” because I like the framing and story. (But UGGGGHHHHHH do I hate omniscient third. I’m going to have to read some Bujold after this to clear my palate, I think.)

    [I thought I disliked second person. I thought I disliked present tense. Nope. Omniscient third takes it as far as pet peeves go. Ugh.]

  14. Quoth Lis Carey, “I loved [Armour of Light]. But here in 7016, even the NESFA Press edition, which I edited, is hard to find.”

    Let me just interject, “Thank you”, to you and to Melissa Scott. What an excellent book.

  15. @Lurkertype: so glad you enjoyed it! I had to keep pausing just to appreciate the rhythm of the story, too. I’m about 95% certain it’s eligible for a Hugo next year so I think it might be going in my nominations…

    @RedWombat: even if nobody’s talking about cyberpunk, Vurt is always worth mentioning! I also have a soft spot for Automated Alice because it seems like Noon actually really “gets” Alice and manages to put his own twist on it without taking an axe to what’s so great about Alice.

    Something something great sci-fi 2005-2015 The City & The City by China Miéville?

  16. @Al — Please let us not forget Lisa Barnett. She was a dear friend, Melissa’s partner, and her co-author on that book. So, please, let her not be altogether forgotten, even here in 7301.

  17. Lexica says:

    My mother was a theatre director and would at times muse wistfully about how much she wanted to do Titus Andronicus on a steeply raked stage with GALLONS and GALLONS (and GALLONS (did I mention GALLONS?)) of fake blood.

    I saw a Richard III done like that, except he wasn’t wading through the blood. It streamed down pillars on both sides of the proscenium, accompanied by loud SKREET SKREET SKREET sounds that were sort of like the Psycho knife underscoring, and the blood streamed and the SKREET SKREET SKREET happened every time he offed somebody and then again when ghosts appeared. By the time we got to the parade of dead people before the big battle at Bosworth Field, I had a major headache.

    It is now 6566 and I think it’s fair to say that we are all awaiting the imminent arrival of wild beasts with seven heads and ten horns, that sort of thing. Or maybe that’s not till 6666. We’ll see soon, won’t we?

  18. Much later, I’ll also add The City of Stairs and Ann Leckie’s Ancilliary Justice and Ancilliary Sword.

  19. You can only comment on Sandifer’s blog if you have particular kinds of online IDs, none of which I have. So perhaps someone else can point out what Kyra did:

    From the Hugo FAQ:

    “Can I vote for something I have not read/seen?”

    “No, don’t nominate or vote for something you have not read or seen, and don’t vote based on reputation — the Hugos are meant to honor your choices and judgments, not the rumor of someone else’s.”

    I just looked, and either nobody had or it was one of several comments that had been moderated out of existence.

  20. @Cally

    Done, although I’d rather not have linked that nym. Oh well. It wasn’t a secret. (Gamer ID.)

  21. And because I love to encourage any interest in this wonderful book, you can get Armor of Light, by Melissa Scott & Lisa A. Barnett, edited by the very modest moi, directly from NESFA , or on Amazon

    I believe Amazon also has inferior editions, not edited by me, but available for the Kindle..

  22. Oh, man. Sandifer just described the Hugo faq as insulting and childish, because it’s just swell to nominate stuff you haven’t read.
    Well, that’s a thing.

  23. Well, I tried. If he really really wants to, I can’t stop him. It does make me rather reluctant to participate in Weird Kittens, though.

    @Jim Henley

    At first I didn’t think I liked Sea Change as much, but I keep thinking about it, and besides I think my main problem is that I’d quite like the novel because the short story isn’t enough, so I’m revising that opinion. 🙂

  24. A comment by Philip Sandifer:

    As I’ve said repeatedly, what I objected to about the Puppies was not that people nominated works they hadn’t read, but that it was an organized effort to have a single person’s [i.e. Vox Day’s] critical judgment dominate the entirety of the Hugo ballot.

    Seems like he thinks a slate is okay if a bunch of people do it. Or something. Between this and not reading the book, Sandifer is producing the first evidence I’ve seen for some of the Puppies’ claims. Way to go.

  25. Regarding lesser-known Renaissance drama, I am currently dithering over whether I want to spend $105 on a book entitled “Constructions of Female Homoeroticism in Early Modern Drama”. Damned academic press pricing schemes! (Yes, I could get it out of the library, but it’s exactly the sort of book I want to own…and fondle…and gaze at admiringly.)

    In this year of 1683 died the great unknown English playwright Sarah Cholmondely, whose works were all suppressed after her death by jealous rivals. You have never heard of her. One might almost think I invented her, so barren is the historic record of her life and work.

  26. Heather Rose Jones:

    You have never heard of her. One might almost think I invented her, so barren is the historic record of her life and work.

    Never! Good solid scholarship, every syllable!

  27. My mother was a theatre director and would at times muse wistfully about how much she wanted to do Titus Andronicus on a steeply raked stage with GALLONS and GALLONS (and GALLONS (did I mention GALLONS?)) of fake blood. She wanted to present it so that the actors at the end would be wading through it. Never got a chance to stage it that way, that I know of…

    Back when I was producing theatre, I was planning a production of Titus, and my main costume/set/general design guy was all, “Look, if we do this, I want to make it clear that I’m not mopping and doing laundry every night. So plan accordingly.” So I steered the other way entirely, and did all the violence in shadowplay tableaus so we’d have no blood at all.

    Currently reading: Stina Leicht’s Cold Iron.

  28. The Eugene Opera put on a production of Sweeney Todd last year, where the blood was indicated by red scarves the singers pulled across their throats and by stage lighting. Surprisingly effective.

  29. “Indispensable” is a pretty high standard for any book written in my lifetime. Even “recommended” requires so many qualifiers and disclaimers that the, um, best I can do is go over what I’ve reviewed since 2005 and list some of the titles that pop, for whatever reason, in close to chronological, as-reviewed order. As for narrowing it down to ten–I wouldn’t know how to choose, let alone rank them.

    Hammered, Elizabeth Bear, et seq: Scardown, Worldwired
    Lady of Mazes, Karl Schroeder
    Learning the World: Or, A Scientific Romance, Ken MacLeod
    Sun of Suns: Virga, Book One, Karl Schroeder
    In War Times, Kathleen Ann Goonan
    Matter, Iain M. Banks
    The Quiet War, Paul McAuley
    Directive 51, John Barnes, et seq.
    Zendegi, Greg Egan
    Leviathan Wakes, James S. A. Corey, et seq.
    7th Sigma, Steven Gould
    This Shared Dream, Kathleen Ann Goonan
    The Hydrogen Sonata, Iain M. Banks
    Impulse, Steven Gould
    Empty Space: A Haunting, M. John Harrison
    The Red: First Light, Linda Nagata
    Evening’s Empires, Paul McAuley
    Afterparty, Daryl Gregory
    Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie
    The Peripheral, William Gibson
    Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie
    War Dogs, Greg Bear
    Hidden Folk, Eleanor Arnason
    Where, Kit Reed
    Karen Memory, Elizabeth Bear
    Chasing the Phoenix, Michael Swanwick
    Ancillary Mercy, Ann Leckie
    Luna: New Moon, Ian McDonald

    To which list I’d add writers I started following long before ’05: Eleanor Arnason, Neal Asher, C. J. Cherryh, Joe Haldeman, Nancy Kress, Robert Reed, Mary Doria Russell, Melissa Scott, Neal Stephenson, Bruce Sterling, Charles Stross, Karen Traviss, George Turner, John Varley, Walter Jon Williams. (And I may have missed some–or on another day might have a different set of “ooh, try this one” thoughts.)

  30. Beowulf never did much for me. Kill monster, drink, sing, kill monster, drink, rinse, lather, repeat.

    And then its mum comes over to complain.

    I woke up thinking about “Hic Sunt Monstra.” I’m not familiar with the concept of “scale problems” in world building and I wonder if you would elaborate a little so I can consider your point.

    In general, it’s when the author doesn’t consider the size of a planet (there used to be a common trope of setting two ideological opposite groups of exiles within walking distance of each other. Why? Put them on opposite sides of the globe!). In specific, bar fznyy tebhc bs uhznaf jvcrq bhg *nyy* gur pbyybfv va n fznyy nzbhag bs gvzr – gur xvqf jrer “gbb lbhat gb erzrzore” gur penfu ynaqvat, fb tvir gurz n qrpnqr, gbcf.

    Here in 6634 we’re dealing with rumors of Dalek activity out in the border worlds.

  31. I went with Anna Feruglio Dal Dan’s original brief of “ok, which are the ten indispensible SF titles published in the last ten years?”

    In no particular order:
    “Ancillary Justice” Ann Leckie
    “Accelerando” Charles Stross
    “Halting State” Charles Stross
    “Stories of Your Life and Others” Ted Chiang
    “River of Gods” Ian McDonald
    “Blindsight” Peter Watts
    “Embassytown” China Miéville
    “The Windup Girl” Paolo Bacigalupi
    “Excession” Iain M. Banks

    Indispensible is a high bar; couldn’t think of a tenth book. And it is obvious I am a Stross fan.

  32. @Meredith: Thanks for trying to get Sandifer to see reason. I don’t get him. I’ll read the reviews he posts from participants (I like reviews), but am against what he’s doing. ;-(

    (In the year 7509, fan is still alive, and everyone has their own slate–it’s called “what I nominated this year.”)

  33. I’m not sure I can list the books, apart from anything else I’d have to go and look up the years things got published. I’d say authors –
    Margaret Atwood
    Iain (M) Banks
    China Miéville
    David Mitchell
    Neil Gaiman
    Neal Stephenson
    oh and lots more that I’ll feel guilty I left off

  34. Why do they never complain about ‘Wakulla Springs’?

    Most of the Puppies don’t read enough to make it all the way through the story.

  35. Too many dicks on the dance floor…

    Catherynne Valente’s Silently and Very Fast is one of the most interesting explorations of artificial intelligence that I’ve ever read.

    Rosemary Kirstein wrote the best portrayal of the scientific method in her Steerswoman books.

    Everything C. J. Cherryh has written is a classic. Cyteen stands out for me as an example of her fondness for playing with human societies.

    Everyone should read Nnedi Okorafor’s Who Fears Death.

    Lauren Beukes’s Moxyland takes cell phone culture to a logical conclusion.

    Ursula Le Guin’s Changing Planes will make you weep.

    Sarah Zettel is a superb writer of hard SF. Try Playing God or Fool’s War.

    And of course there’s The Hunger Games, which is sneakily profound and wildly popular.

  36. I’m going to slowly back away from the “spoiled ballot” discussion at MCG 🙂
    The point about the “1000 ballots” was already made, and attempting to separate the vote count from other shenanigans at Sasquan was probably quixotic anyway.

    Kate Paulk
    September 6, 2015 at 1:19 pm
    the asterisks were an attempt by the host to introduce levity

    Yes, one of my sisters would do that. She’d insult you, then tell you she was joking.

    Now, since you’re at best inaccurate and at worst lying about the asterisks, why should anyone assume you’re telling the truth about anything else?

  37. RedWombat and others: Thanks for the suggestions–several have been added to my thought slushpile. When teaching a survey I always struggle to pare down the list of all of the books (and writers) I WANT to add to a syllabus and come up with a subset that most of my students can actually finish/simulate finishing that also provides a reasonable coherent narrative of the directions taken by a genre or a period (I’d say “Zeitgeist,” but a puppy told me that SF didn’t have one).

  38. @Jim Henley: I agree with you about Jack O’Lantern Girl. I live in hope that someday I’ll get to read the ending of Hitherby Dragons.

  39. two notes on Hic Suntra Monstra
    scale – gur uhznaf xabj gung pbybffv geniry gb oerrqvat tebhaqf fbzr qvfgnapr njnl, ohg unir arire orra gurer. Gung fhttrfgf gung gur uhznaf unir bayl frra n fznyy cneg bs gur cynarg. Gurl znl unir jvcrq bhg gur pbybffv va gung nern, ohg gurer ner znal zber fbzrjurer ryfr. Fbzrjurer gbb sne njnl sbe gur uhznaf gb trg gb, rfcrpvnyyl vs gurl ernyvfr gbb yngr gurl’ir oebxra gur rpb-flfgrz

    the ending – Gur fgbel jbhyq jbex naljnl – pbybavfgf va n gbhtu fvghngvba znxr n qrpvfvba gung gheaf bhg gb znxr guvatf rira jbefr. Lbh pbhyq vzntvar gur fgbel orvat gbyq ol gur punenpgre’f sngure jub ernyvfrf jung gur yvsr-plpyr vf, ohg qvrf hanoyr gb pbaivapr gur erfg bs gur tebhc. Gung jbhyq or n fgbel nobhg n punenpgre svthevat bhg gur fvghngvba, guvf vf n fgbel nobhg _gur ernqre_ pbzvat gb haqrefgnaq gur fvghngvba.

  40. Hic Suntra Monstra – V sbhaq vg cynhfvoyr gung n fznyy tebhc bs pbybavfgf jbhyqa’g or noyr gb frnepu na ragver cynarg sbe sbbq, fb gur fpnyr guvat qvqa’g obgure zr.

  41. Eh. FWIW, I’ve read Shepherd’s Crown and I agree that it’s “pretty good Pratchett” but no more, last book or not. (Though I do think the elegiac nature of the opening sequence is–pretty special.) That said, whether or not to nominate it for a Hugo depends not on whether or not it’s the best book Pratchett ever wrote (it isn’t), but on whether or not I believe it’s one of the top five books I’ve read this year.

    I bring that up not just in regard to Shepherd’s Crown but because it’s worth remembering for all Hugo noms–while I can also conceive of nominating only three or four novels because I believed that only three or four were worth nominating in a given year, we aren’t exactly, or at least only, judging any individual work on the basis of a career-long standard, or even a decades-long standard; we are also judging them on the basis of a single year’s worth of novels, short stories, novellas, etc. . . .

  42. Sandifer just described the Hugo faq as insulting and childish, because it’s just swell to nominate stuff you haven’t read.

    Huh. Well, that puts Sandifer in my “as bad as the puppies” camp. It’s lying to nominate something you haven’t read.

    That’s been my main objection to the slates all along. The point is not to nominate popular stuff or stuff that one person thinks is good, the point is to nominate your own personal favorites: what YOU thought was the best of the year that you’ve read.

  43. Didn’t have a chance to post last night. The book about Marlowe’s death is The Reckoning: The Murder of Christopher Marlowe. Caveat: I read it in ’96, so my memory of it is dim.

  44. Ken Liu’s Grace of Kings:

    I liked it, but I think it was somewhat disjointed and could have used a rewrite. It helped me that I knew how the story was going to end (it’s the Chu-Han Contention in Chinese history). Would I vote it a Hugo? Probably not.

    (BTW, if Liu continues to follow history in the sequels there’s a coming character interaction that will gross out even George R. R. Martin … )

  45. Like Dawn Incognito, I’m a bit puzzled about why ‘Dinosaur’ is so widely seen as about gay-bashing. The attackers use homophobic words, but they also use racist words and religiously-bigoted words, and we are told they picking the words at random. (And while the man might be Latino or Muslim, though there’s no special reason to think he is, he certainly isn’t gay.) So why is one of the words they used seen as determining the meaning of the text?

  46. The pop up list on Amazon showed me those Scalzi and SJW and related parodies, which still seem to be available. But since I am not wallowing in the hate and anger, I’ll pass on the news to other people, just with the warning: attempted humor.

  47. Some weeks back on Facebook, a list of the 100 best novels in SF showed up. and I felt I could write down one hundred writers I have enjoyed, many of them producing a good handful of novels. Not too many of the recent names, as I still am reading a lot of “the old masters”.

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