Roverfield 7/5

aka Muttropolis.


Last roundup tomorrow, July 6.

Banner art changes tomorrow.

What the future holds for File 770 arrives tomorrow!

Meanwhile, roundup content today is provided by Lou Antonelli, Joseph Tomaras, Jonathan Crowe, Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag, Mark Ciocco, Lis Carey, Len Schiff, and Bonnie McDaniel. (Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editors of the day Will Reichard and Brad J. Book cover lifted from Will Reichard’s “Wishlist: Soviet Space Dogs”.)

Lou Antonelli on This Way to Texas

“Genrecide” – July 5

The dispute that arose when the Sad Puppy selections did so well in the Hugo nominations has probably created a permanent split of science fiction fans – not one created by the literature, but for social reasons.

Both sides have said such horrible things about each other that I doubt the rift will ever be healed. I wouldn’t be surprised if some semantic distinction arises later – such as the Sad Puppies’ type of fiction being called spec fic as opposed to science fiction.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden and her blog Making Light started the civil war when she realized her chums – the usual suspects – were not getting their Hugo nomination notice emails as usual. She blew up and started the vituperation a week before the actual announcement was made – proving the point, as Larry Corriea was pointed out, that there is an insider clique after all.

Mike Glyer, who’s been running his fan site File 770 since dirt was invented, unfortunately has kept the wildfires burning by collecting up Puppy posts and republishing them on his site. The comments threads there have become the clearing house for all Puppy Kicker resentment.

I don’t believe either side of completely right or completely wrong, but it really doesn’t matter anymore, because regardless of how or who started it, and how it ends, thanks to the internet too much has been said attacking too many people by so many people that there will probably be a long-term drop in readership and popular support.

Perhaps in the future people will say they read magic realism, or space opera, or dystopia, or alternate history – but as a result of the Puppy Wars, no one will actually want to admit they read “science fiction” because of all the negative connotations in the wake of the current unpleasantness.


Joseph Tomaras on A Skinseller’s Workshop

“I Lied: A Few More Words about the Hugos” – July 5

….As more people post their ballots and/or their critical response to the items on the ballot, I have been surprised at how critical judgment on Kary English’s “Totaled” has lined up. People who fault contemporary SF for leaving too little room for ambiguity have criticized it for unclear, unreliable narration in the early sections. (To which I respond: As if a recently revived brain-in-a-jar would be a reliable narrator.) People who have a habit of calling for “good stories” in the whiz-bang mode of military SF have praised the story for its emotional trajectory. It has scrambled the factional lines, and that, I think, suggests a few points in its favor. There is room for dispute over it, and is worth being revisited and debated on aesthetic grounds.

What I think is indisputable, unfortunately, is how thoroughly English herself stumbled over the politics of this year’s hyper-politicized Hugo. She went months after the announcement of the ballots before disavowing both the Sad and Rabid Puppies slates on which she had been placed: Long enough that most of the anti-canine wings of the Hugo electorate had already dismissed her as a fellow traveler, but not long enough to avoid the wrath of the Rabid Majordomo himself. I take this as an object lesson in how the center-right, quasi-depoliticized “common sense” that passes as “moderation” in the U.S. context can succeed, in a global context, only in pissing people off, whether in small matters (e.g. the Hugos) or in big ones (e.g. Guantánamo, drone bombings).


Jonathan Crowe

“Best Saga Proposal Revised” – July 5

So the proposal for a Best Saga Hugo Award (see previous entry) has since been revised: they’ve abandoned getting rid of Best Novelette, which was needlessly zero-sum, and have lowered the minimum word count. The proposal now says 300,000 words; the draft posted to File 770 at more or less the same time says 240,000. A series cannot win more than once, but it can certainly be nominated multiple times (so long as two new installments requalifies it) until it wins — I think of this as the “my favourite series better damn well win this time” provision.

I’m still not a fan: it’s going to be a popularity contest for very popular (if not always good) ongoing series. And any minimum word count is going to be exclusionary. A 240,000-word lower limit would have rendered ineligible the original Foundation trilogy — which won a one-off “Best All-Time Series” Hugo in 1966.

And as far as I can tell the amendment would still allow series to appear on the Best Novel ballot when the final installment is published, like The World of Time did last year.


Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag on Bloggity-Blog-Blog-Blog

“Hugo Blatherings” – July 5

Still, it means I’m going to be part of Worldcon for at least the next two and a half years. I’ll be voting in two more Hugos after this one. And I’ll be trying to actively look for things to nominate, as well. I’ll be checking out Renay’s Hugo Spreadsheet of Doom and the Hugo Nominees 2016 Wikia regularly once I’ve finished with this year’s packet to look for suggestions to read. I’ve already got a couple of things I plan to nominate, and a few more I haven’t finished reading yet but I think might make my list. I’ll post a few lists of possible nominations as I go, and once the deadline for nominations has passed, I might even post my actual nomination form.

The round-ups at File 770 have slowed down, mostly because there just isn’t that much to talk about the Hugos right now. Everyone is busy going through the packets or have finished voting and are just waiting for the convention. I fully expect another fake outrage to be manufactured soon, but I can’t guess what direction it will come from. I’ve been continuing to read David Gerrold on Facebook… he’s the guy that got me into this whole kerfuffle in the first place. I don’t think I would have cared as much if not for him.


Mark Ciocco on Kaedrin Weblog

“Hugo Awards: Novella” – July 5

The other shorter-than-a-novel-but-longer-than-a-short-story category, these tend to be longer reads, which is a shame because I didn’t particularly care for any of them. It’s also one of the weirder categories in that three of the five nominees are from the same author. Two of the stories are also significantly expanded versions of much shorter stories (which, given my complaints below, would probably have been much better for me). None of the nominees are particularly terrible, per say, I just failed to connect with them, and it makes me wish there was a little more variety here. I don’t want too dwell on this, so let’s just get to it:…

[Comments on all five nominees.]

For the first time this year, I’m actually thinking about deploying No Award on my ballot, if only to get past the ridiculous notion that one author wrote the three best novellas of the year or something. I mean, I guess such a thing is possible, but not with these three stories. That being said, Wright also wrote my clear favorite of the bunch, so I’m not slotting No Award very high.


Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“Guardians of the Galaxy, written by James Gunn and Nicole Perlman, directed by James Gunn (Marvel Studios, Moving Picture Company)” – July 5

This is a Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form nominee for the 2015 Hugos. This is not a movie with any deep thoughts in its head. It’s pure, fun, over-the-top adventure, with colorful space battles and explosions…..


Bonnie McDaniel on Red Headed Femme

“The Hugo Project: Campbell Award” – July 5

(Note: This is the latest in an ongoing series of posts reviewing as many of the 2015 Hugo nominees as I can before the July 31 deadline, and explaining why I will or will not vote for them.)

The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer advertises itself, famously, as “not-a-Hugo,” celebrating what the Worldcon community decides is the best new science fiction/fantasy writer of the year. Unfortunately, like so much of the rest of the ballot, this category has been tainted by the shenanigans of the Impacted Canines.

(Forgive me for sounding testy. Several weeks of slogging through godawfully bad stories not worth their weight in puppy piss will do that to you. I mean, if you’re going to behave lawfully-but-unethically and game the awards, can’t you at least nominate something halfway decent? Apparently not, as most of the ballot proves.)

Listed from worst to best….

[Comments on all five nominees.]


[Nothing to do with Sad Puppies, but an interesting article.]


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619 thoughts on “Roverfield 7/5

  1. @Nicole

    Seems to me I’ve been told that in the original Persephone myth/rite/mystery, Persephone’s time in the underworld was summer–and summer in that part of the world is so witheringly hot that nothing can grow. Perhaps better described as “the dry season” maybe?

    That would interest me, although I didn’t run into it when I researched the Persephone myth for the story. “Winter” could be an English translation issue.


    Interesting. I don’t remember such an appendix in 1984 when I read it in high school (as the Class of 1984 there was no way they weren’t going to assign it to us at some point.) So I wonder if it isn’t in all editions, or if I just missed it somehow.

    The Handmaid’s Tale does have such an appendix. It didn’t occur to me that it was such a direct nod to 1984.

  2. @Nick:

    Well, there’s always the “sequel” (of sorts), if you can find it. I dimly remember reading it years ago and finding it vaguely interesting, but I don’t know where my copy got to.

  3. Before he was broken by torture he fought, yes?

    No, he didn’t, as has been amply demonstrated by direct quotes from the book. Do you even bother to read the posts you are responding to? You probably should. It might make you look less like an idiot.

  4. Before he was broken by torture he fought, yes?

    No, he didn’t, as I demonstrated with more than half a dozen lengthy direct quotes from the book. I could find more, if I thought you were educable

  5. @Nick: (1984 appendix)

    That looks like a real-world linguistic analysis to me, not a future-history implication that Big Brother’s regime had collapsed. Am I missing something?

  6. McJulie — Take a look at “Mysteries of Demeter” by Jennifer Reif* — she has the actual calendar and timing of the rites, and Persephone is in Hades during the hot dry part of the year.

    Since England’s seasons DON’T (usually) do hot and dry, I can see why they would have translated as winter, but even today farmers plant wheat in Fall and it grows through the winter, which DOES follow the pattern Reif lays out.

    *ISBN 1578631335

  7. Bob, I don’t understand your comment. Are you wondering if the appendix isn’t part of the novel, but is an essay about the language used in the novel? It is not.

  8. Nick Mamatas: I went and read the Appendix and remembered that, of course, it had been part of the novel. But my memory seems to have “improved” the story by forgetting everything following “He loved Big Brother.”

  9. Persephone only ate four seeds in the original myth as I understand it, which would make sense if she was in Hades during the four hot months of the Greek summer.

  10. @Nick:

    I am saying that the appendix doesn’t say a thing about Big Brother’s regime ever falling. It is not an epilogue that gives any sort of hope for the setting. It is merely an analysis of the language of Newspeak.

  11. Bob, it does do that. Read the first sentence again: Newspeak was the official language of Oceania and had been devised to meet the ideological needs of Ingsoc, or English Socialism.

    Was. Not is. That means Newspeak is gone. The appendix generally is on the topic of the subtlety of language.

  12. @RevBob @Nick Mamatas

    Also, further down (two or three paragraphs from the bottom, I believe) the contrast is drawn between Newspeak and the English “of today.” I mean, it’s not a hit-you-over-the-head obvious thing, but the writer is studying a language that isn’t in use anymore, which would imply that the regime that inspired it has also fallen.

  13. @Nick, @rhf:

    The difference is, I’m not reading that appendix as an in-world document. I’m looking at it as the author talking about the story, from outside of its setting… just as I don’t consider the glossary in my copy of A Clockwork Orange to be part of that book’s narrative. It’s just a reader’s aid, documenting how the jargon works. The discussion of the U.S. founding documents is pretty inexplicable as an in-universe artifact.

    Further, assume that the appendix is an in-world document. Isn’t it equally valid to conclude that Newspeak got supplanted by Newerspeak and that Oceana is still going strong? There’s a reference to Newspeak version 11; I don’t have the text in front of me, but didn’t that note say that Newspeak was perfected with that version?

    There’s just not much there to support a Fall Of Oceana narrative, and I prefer to apply Occam and deduce that no such narrative was intended. (Especially considering how unsubtle the rest of the book is; why would Orwell suddenly turn all cagey about such a momentous event?)

  14. Bob, that’s a misreading of the Appendix. Indeed, your point about the Eleventh edition (which is not yet complete in the year 1984*—advanced copies of the Tenth are just being circulated, the Eleventh is being compiled) demonstrates that it isn’t George Orwell, author, discussing his created language. It is an in-story document.

    This has been discussed by scholars.

    *Note also that the appendix makes no reference to the book Nineteen Eighty-Four but only speaks of the year 1984.

  15. @Nick:

    I read what was available of the first two linked articles, and the complete text of the third. I’m willing to give the first two the benefit of the doubt, as there may be material in the sections I can’t see that makes the case, but the third does not do so. The closest the third gets, which I would not argue with, is that the “happy ending” of the appendix is only that the far-flung terminal date of 2050 amounts to an admission by Newspeak’s architects that language is a slippery thing, not easily controlled, and thus they can save their own necks by putting the deadline so far away that they will not personally be responsible for meeting it.

    Furthermore, even if I were to accept the “Oceana Falls” premise – what of it? I find that bare stipulation far too weak to consider it any sort of happy ending. I am invested in the characters, not the nation; all nations fall, given sufficient time, and sometimes the replacement is worse. Suppose Oceana falls prey to a Reign of Terror; why should I cheer for that? Would Stalinist Russia’s fall to Hitler have been cause for celebration? Yes, Oceana could also be defeated by Utopia or a plague of lotus eaters, but it could just as easily get wiped out with the rest of the planet to clear the way for an interstellar bypass. We don’t know! With no indication of the replacement’s nature, I decline to judge Oceana’s demise as either positive or negative, and thus the appendix fails to indicate a “happy ending” to me under either the in-world or out-of-world readings.

  16. Bob, the three examples I gave were simply scholars noting, and knowing, that the appendix is a fictional artifact, that is it is part of the novel’s fictional world. There’s no case to be made for the simple reason that it is actually obvious that the appendix is not George Orwell, author, writing about his fictional creation. You should just read the appendix again, closely. It reads nothing at all the way it would were it the author George Orwell describing newspeak as a literary device. It reads exactly like someone from the setting looking back on the widespread social experiment that was Newspeak.

    For someone who appealed to Occam’s razor in his last post, you sure abandoned it now. Randomly guessing about some worse things that might have replaced the society in the book? Hitler and Stalin? (And you know, a fairly persuasive argument can be made for fascist states not lasting so long as Stalinist states, so perhaps the great upheavals of 1989 would have happened in 1959 had Hitler won on the Eastern Front!) We know the situation didn’t get worse for the simple reason that the appendix itself exists and its author is able to, for example, quote the Declaration of Independence positively and mock the Communist International’s rhetorical similarities to Newspeak. The third link I offered has it exactly right in its conclusion—the appendix shows that Newspeak did not succeed in eliminating English by 2050.

    You’re invested in characters. That’s fine. Not every story is about characters. You don’t have to like stories that aren’t about characters. The embattled protagonist of Nineteen Eighty-four is the English language, and it is the character that triumphed. This dovetails nicely into Orwell’s concerns generally. Everyone knows his famous essay on politics and the English language, but this idea pops up repeatedly in his other books as well, including minor novels like Keep the Aspidistra Flying.

  17. @Nick: “The embattled protagonist of Nineteen Eighty-four is the English language, and it is the character that triumphed.”


    Well, you’re welcome to your opinion, but I do not share it. It does, at least, explain why we see the appendix so differently – and with that realization, I believe the topic is best dropped. Between the two of us, anyway; I believe our viewpoints are so different as to be irreconcilable.

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