“Repent, Harlequin!” Said the Tick Tock Dog 6/27

aka The Hugo Chronicles: Puppies of Spring Barking

Today roundup features Steve Davidson, Aditya Manu Jha, Kevin Harkness, Nick Mamatas, Scott Bakal, Vivienne Raper and Spacefaring Kitten. (Title credit belongs to — Anna Nimmhaus, who was inspired by The Phantom Tollbooth, and John Seavey.)

Steve Davidson on Amazing Stories

“FANS Need to Take the Moral High Ground” – June 26

I would like to call for the following actions on the part of fans everywhere:

First, the crafting of a formal statement that articulates the position that Fandom and Fans (which includes authors, artists, editors, podcasters, bloggers, fan writers, fan artists and everyone) do not game awards (or other fannish institutions) for personal, political or financial gain.  Further, that individuals who may be eligible for awards state formally that they do not grant permission for third parties to include them or their works in voting campaigns or slates or organized voting blocs and that if their names or works are found on such, it is without their express permission.*

Second, the creation of a publicly accessible web-based archive that publishes the above statement and allows individuals to publicly endorse the statement.

Third, that an amendment to the WSFS by-laws be written and formally adopted (after the appropriate votes), stating that the members of WSFS do not endorse or support voting slates, voting campaigns or organized bloc voting for the awards that WSFS oversees.  Further, that rules be crafted that would allow WSFS to deny or withdraw membership privileges from individuals who violate the by-law.

Fourth, that SFWA craft and adopt a formal statement that engaging in actions the same as or similar to those described previously are considered by the organization to be unethical and unprofessional actions on the part of its members that could result (after proper internal review) in censure or withdrawal of membership privileges.


Aditya Mani Jha on The Sunday Guardian

“How a hate-mongering group gamed the Hugos” – June 28

Vox Day and his sexist, homophobic lobby group Rabid Puppies have “played” the science fiction world successfully and tarnished the Hugo Awards, perhaps irreparably….

…What the Puppies (both sets) did was publish a “voting slate,” a curated list of titles that they urged their follows to put on the ballot. It worked, and how: out of the 60 nominated by the Sad Puppies, 51 were on the initial ballot. The corresponding figure was 58 out of 67 for the Rabid Puppies….

To top it all, Day has put himself on the slate: twice over, actually, which has made him a double nominee for this year. His publishing firm, Castalia House, has received nine Hugo nominations in total…


Kevin Harkness

“The Hugo Awards Controversy” – June 27

Cent One: The Sad and Rabid Puppy slates don’t work, and will eventually turn around and bite the people who created them.  By showing the effectiveness of recruiting voters, you make this into a contest of numbers, not quality.  And, considering demographics and mortality rates, I think the 21st century is going to beat the 20th in that fight.

Cent Two: Their reasoning isn’t going to win the Puppies a new generation of converts and so boost their numbers.  For example, one of the Puppy arguments I’ve run across is that Hugo-winners are preachy, the so-called SJWs (sidebar: I’m ashamed to say it took me forever to figure out who they were mad at, Single Jewish Women?  Slow Jesuit Wardens?).  But have the Puppies read Heinlein or Niven and Pournelle?  Their old-timey sic-fi adventures are infomercials for their politics, and not very subtle ones either.  By the time I was 18, I was yelling, “Shut up and tell the story!” at my last Heinlein books.  A second irritating point is the puppies claim the current Hugoists are too literary . . .for a literary award.  Yikes!

As a writer with no awards and never a hope for a Hugo, I can say this with the utmost objectivity: stop messing with the system just because the results offend you.  Create your own awards.  Or better yet, vote as an individual and leave slates for the world of politics.  I’m afraid I won’t change a single Puppy’s mind with this blog, because for them, the Hugo Awards are political.  It follows then that writing itself is political, and, by extension, all art.  If art is political, it must serve the politics of its maker.  Come to think of it, that’s what Chairman Mao said.  Maybe he was a secret Puppy.






Scott Bakal on Instagram

Catching up a little bit with some news: I’m honored that this piece I did for Tor and @irenegallo was given a Distinguished Merit Award from 3×3 Magazine along with 10 other pieces. Thank you to the judges! It’s special because this is one of my recent favorites.





Vivienne Raper on Futures Less Traveled

“Reading the Rockets – Best Graphic Story” – June 27

[Reviews all five nominees.]

#1 Saga Volume 3

I was reading Saga before the Hugo nomination for Volume 3. I love this series and the strange future-fantasy world the author has created. Volume 3 isn’t the best volume, but it’s hard for me to judge as a standalone as I’ve read the others.

The series follows two former soldiers from long-warring alien races and their struggle to care for their daughter, Hazel, as they’re chased by the authorities. Hazel is born at the beginning of Volume 1 and narrates part of the story as an adult.

Saga has lost narrative momentum as the series has progressed, but I’ve found it remains imaginative and  entertaining. I don’t think there’s one baseline human here. In Volume 1 artist Fiona Staples even solved one of my longstanding character niggles – how do you dress a person with more than two legs? (Answer: a prom skirt)

There are flying tree spaceships. There are Egyptian lying cats. There are family feuds, blood feuds, assassins, deaths, births, love affairs, lots of running away. The standard palate of all-purpose human conflict that has driven good storytelling from time eternal. Big thumbs up from me.


Spacefaring Kitten on Spacefaring, Extradimensional Happy Kittens

“The Shittiest Unrelated Drivel in the History of Hugo Awards — Michael Z. Williamson: Wisdom from My Internet” – June 27

This. Was. Shit.

Moreover, Wisdom from My Internet is hard evidence of the fact that there were at least 200 sheer, hundred-percent, honest-go-god trolls sending in nominating ballots. It’s a collection of supposedly humorous, bad to reprehensible tweets with no SFF content whatsoever and — let’s face it — it’s on the ballot to piss off anybody who voted for Kameron Hurley last year.

The time I had to use to write these three sentences is all I’m going to devote to discussing this drivel.


318 thoughts on ““Repent, Harlequin!” Said the Tick Tock Dog 6/27

  1. Rose Embolism on June 28, 2015 at 8:55 pm said:
    @Bruce Baugh “True confession time: I just can’t quite do it for the vampires. But there’s so much else that does work for me in the book that I cut it slack.”

    I confess that’s my major roadblock to the whole thing, I don’t mind getting science fiction in my fantasy (see, Arduin Grimore, Witch World, etc.), but for some reason “Vampire” and “Science fiction” just sends my brain to a screeching halt. I just completely bounce. Maybe if Watts had used the term “psionic” instead.

    I think the vampires are sufficiently inverted-commas vampires as are the zombies in Echopraxia. They fit in with the rest of the cast who are in various ways cognitively different from standard stereotypical humans.
    Their glitch in regards to visual right angles I found a bit too cutesy but at least it wasn’t a memetic cognition bug regarding the smell of garlic.

  2. @Camestros Felapton
    Also – why is Brian talking about Doctor Who again? Didn’t we do that yesterday?

    He thought we’d all wake up with no memory of how every one of his claims had been demonstrated to be groundless codswallop, like everyone in that town in Groundhog Day.

    Today he’s gone from baseless assertions and ill-thought-out arguments to babbling incoherence.

  3. Camestros, Rose, Bruce:

    I thought the crucifix glitch was fun, and I didn’t even mind Echopraxia’s zombies. If the third book in the trilogy turns out to have werewolves, though, I think I may have to write Peter Watts a letter.

  4. @Jim Henley: “Oh hey! If Libertycon is over we should hopefully get Rev Bob’s take on his swan song there soon!”

    Oooookay, then. Let me sum it up this way…

    I kept to the game room as much as possible, doing my job of running games, making sure other games ran smoothly, being a friendly sort of overlord, and assisting my boss as needed. I ran into a few Puppies (in two senses of the term: supporters and slated authors) and saw a few Sad Puppies buttons being worn. On the occasions that the subject came up, I voiced my opinion that the SP stated goals were at odds: if your goal is to attract new voters, there’s no need to run a slate. That is, if conservative writers make noise about the importance of participation, their fans will naturally tend to nominate “the right kind” of work… but organically, without the distortion that a slate creates. The Puppies I encountered were not receptive to that argument, but I didn’t push things. See above, in terms of being a friendly overlord. 😉 I was not involved in any discussions I’d call “arguments,” let alone fights or anything else like that.

    I did have a good deal of fun this weekend, and it was a lot of work, but I would have had less fun if I hadn’t avoided the Puppies as much as I did. I scored several personal and job-related wins over the weekend, but it wouldn’t be proper for me to discuss those in detail. Basically, my boss and his assistant stayed happy (if tired), nothing caught fire, and I was able to contribute in useful ways to a few things that may not have gone (as?) well without me. I did have to miss my one traditional panel, so that was less fun, but the trade-off which required that sacrifice was worth it.

    In case anyone was wondering: no, I did not flounce or otherwise make a noisy exit. That could have reflected badly on my boss and his company, and it would have been unprofessional of me both as his employee and as a convention staff member. If anything, I think I can safely say that I am exiting on a high note. Where I made a difference in the happiness of others this weekend, I believe it was a positive one.

    I am debating whether or not to read the MGC post on/from the con. It is possibly unwise, but I should probably do so anyway. I expect that it is a glowing report, because this is their con in a very big way and people with any specific point of view tend to enjoy the company of like-minded people.

    Oh, I did run into Eric Flint. Very briefly, but long enough to collect an e-autograph and let him know that I liked what he’d had to say on the subject. I also suggested to his publisher that the 1632 world is very easy to get lost in, and some sort of “read this and this first” note at the beginning of each volume would be very useful. Don’t know if it’ll come to anything, but I tried.

  5. @Brian – When you edit the quotes you respond to, do you assume that it is being helpful to the reader?

    For example, you responded to someone saying that changing the rules would allow people to nominate the best works of the year and “…ignore the pups cry to battle”, by saying “One can’t simultaneously “ignore the pups” and have a conversation…”

    This makes it appear that the person you were replying to wanted to ignore the puppies entirely. As we can all see, that isn’t what they were saying. Did you miss the second half of that sentence?

  6. @Rev. Bob

    I’m glad you had a good time, and that Puppy stuff didn’t get in the way. It sounds like you acquitted yourself well which I’m sure is a relief when its your last time and its a con you’ve put a lot of time into over the years.

  7. By the way, Rev. Bob, all of us who work or have worked in the tabletop gaming world really appreciate the work of y’all at making con gaming happen. Word of mouth remains a potent vector for sharing the fun, and after all, we make our stuff in hopes that people will use it. 🙂

  8. cpca

    I’m getting it together for lunch at the moment, but let me briefly address your comments: I don’t think you have done nearly enough reading on this. Search engines are your friend.

    My observations are those of microbiologists, and whilst I am not a microbiologist the ones I deal with are at one of the world’s leading respiratory medicine hospitals. I think you need to understand that there is a vast difference between strains of bacteria, including pseudomonas, just as you need to understand the difference between having a chest infection with pseudomonas and having your lungs colonised by mucoid pseudomonas; the two are vastly different.

    I am treated by the ‘Host Defence’ team which works very, very hard to avoid letting a patient be colonised; unfortunately, thanks to the internal warfare between the neo-Darwinists and microbiologists, which delayed the acceptance of lateral transfer and of hyper mutators, they did not succeed in my case.

    None of the microbiologists I know have ever described the colony as a city; I’m having difficulties with the concept of a city which can get up and walk, aka microbial invasion of Poland, and, having dutifully taken my quorum sensing inhibitors this morning, I hope it will not do so. It remains a single entity behaving as a single entity, much as I would wish it otherwise; planktonic pseudomonas is probably the most common organism on the planet, since it can survive in just about anything, including distilled water, and it positively loves disinfectants, and so it kills a lot of people before ever progressing to the stage where it ceases to be billions of planktonic bacteria and becomes a single entity like the one colonising my lungs. Still billions of bacteria, of course, but one entity in much the same way that my body has billions of cells but is still me.

    I’d suggest that you don’t dive headlong into the literature if you are in a less than cheery mood; when microbiologists start discussing the apocalypse of the post antibiotic era it’s certainly interesting, but not at all cheerful. On the other hand it does make global warming look less scary; the death toll when antibiotics stop working in both humans and food animals will be so high that the remaining population will have a lot more room.

    And on that happy note, lunch calls…

  9. 5 Who episodes on one ballot do not make a slate; they make ONE enthusiastic Dr Who fan. Under EPH or FPTP, assuming the nominator has no knowledge of the behaviour of other nominators, if they believe that those five are the most appropriate choices for BDPSF, then putting all five down is the correct choice to give all five the best chance.

    Now if they DO have knowledge of how other nominators are likely to vote (perhaps through clairvoyance, precognition or, and I’ll just throw this out here, an organised campaign of some sort) their behaviour may be different. Under FPTP then all five is probably still the best idea. However under EPH, if they realise that there will be a lot of other voters putting the same five episodes down, they might prefer to nominate only their favourite one or two to help prevent them being eliminated in marginal cases. But, assuming imperfect knowledge, they are taking the risk that those episodes will be eliminated anyway, and they will not have given any support to their third, fourth etc. They might want to nominate all five anyway and see how it works out.

    tl;dr: A straight ticket Whovian who is NOT part of a campaign will do best to nominate as before (assuming they are not near-omciscient, in which case their strategy will be weird under any conditions).

  10. NelC on June 28, 2015 at 8:39 pm said:
    Brian — Having been a Who fan for around half-a-century, I think it’s exceedingly unlikely that you’d get enough Who fans to agree on what order to put any given five episodes in, let alone agree on which five episodes to nominate, to give any appearance of a slate, so I don’t think you have anything to worry about on that score.

    In 95 or maybe 96, SFX magazine did a reader’s poll, and in the results they noted that Doctor Who would have won the best intro sequence category outright, but so many people nominated specific versions of the intro that they felt it would have been wrong to conflate them all into a single block. As a result, IIRC they had three out of the top ten.

    Which really says it all about Whovians.

  11. Redwombat: the first time I started Blindsight I put it down in disgust the first time I got to the word vampire and realized it was not meant figuratively, and was also leery of Siri. The writing was good enough that I did pick it back up a few days later. Incredibly glad I did.

  12. And, I’m not sure ‘like’ is a feeling to be expected for a character in a Watts book

  13. Full of Sound, and Furry on June 28, 2015 at 9:52 pm said:

    “Is ANYONE in Ohio human?”

    McGuire, Half-Off Ragnarok, DAW PB, page 186

    Doesn’t Scalzi live in Ohio? Is McGuire trying to tell us something? Is it time for some wholly fact free speculation on what sort of life forms Scalzi and VD are, and thus what is the basis of the apparent antipathy?

    I think all available evidence points to Scalzi being some form of sentient yogurt. Possibly rhubarb flavor.

  14. @Bruce Baugh: “By the way, Rev. Bob, all of us who work or have worked in the tabletop gaming world really appreciate the work of y’all at making con gaming happen.”

    Well, these days I do it (in part) out of blatant self-interest; it pays my bills! Not that I expect Munchkin to go away if I never run another demo, but showing off the latest version never hurts…

    (And if you currently work on the retail side: Munchkin Steampunk is quite worthy and lots of fun. Stores can get the Launch Kit a couple of months ahead of the general release, and it includes three copies of the game plus some swag.)

  15. @Bruce:

    I’ve gotten to do a little of that – some this weekend – but not as much as I’d like. I mainly just keep the website running and get my creative fix from the ebook editing sideline.

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