Elisa’s cat promotes literacy —
This is Pixel on Ursula Vernon’s Castle Hangnail, being helpful with my daughter’s reading.
Photos of your felines resting on genre works are welcome. Send to mikeglyer (at) cs (dot) com
aka Twenty Thousand Comments About the Controversy by Jules Verne
Stampeding into this roundup are Kate Paulk, John Carlton, Nick Mamatas, Tom Knighton, Adam-Troy Castro, Brian Lowe, Max Florschutz, Rich Horton, Lou Antonelli , Amanda S. Green, Steve Davidson, William Reichard, embrodski, Lis Carey, Joe Sherry, Elisa Bergslien, Brian Niemeier, R.P.L. Johnson, Katya Czaja, Mary Robinette Kowal, “Orange Mike” Lowrey, Alexandra Erin and ULTRAGOTHA. (Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editors of the day Jim Henley and Soon Lee.)
“So What Is Hugo-Worthy Anyway?” – May 28
So. What I look for when judging quality in narrative fiction (this mostly doesn’t apply to poetry and non-fiction and it sure as heck doesn’t apply to art) is this (in approximate order, even):
- Early immersion – I read a hell of a lot, and I find it very easy to become immersed in a piece. The earlier it drags me in, the better. If I don’t get the immersion, the interplay of the technical factors (prose quality, characterization, plotting, foreshadowing, etc.) isn’t handled well enough to do it. I’ve read pieces where I liked the premise and characters, but the craft wasn’t good enough to generate immersion. I’ve also read pieces that I hated but were well enough done to hold me despite that.
- Immersion is maintained until the last word – This is important: if something throws me out of immersion, it’s a serious technical flaw (because, yes, I’ve actually analyzed this. It could be a plot flaw that runs the piece into a bridge abutment. It could be something that breaks a character. It could also be prose so damned obtuse it sends me running for a dictionary – and I read Stephen Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant series without needing one…..
This has gotten too long, Eric and I’m leave it with this. WHAT WERE YOU THINKING!!! Before I knew what your relationship with Brad was, your posts were just more of the kind of crap we have been seeing all over. Not only excusing the nuclear strike of hate, but seemingly justifying it. Most of us thought you just weren’t aware of the whole story. That was before how well you knew Brad. Then you came into my thread [on Facebook] and acted like a perfect jackass. Beating up on me, well ok, I’m a big boy, and I’ve been beaten on by better than you. Supposedly you are Brad’s friend, though. Yet you didn’t hesitate to demonstrate true douchery by taking a hit at him. All the while he’s formatting that hit piece on himself for you before going on deployment. A true friend indeed.
I’m sure you are aware of the Alinsky tactic of isolating the target and setting it up for destruction. You also know that that’s exactly the time when friends need to stand together. Yet there you were with the rest of the mob. I’m asking myself why? Couldn’t you just for once set aside your politics and support a friend who needs it? With all the voices turned against them the puppies and Brad could have used another voice in support. Even if you saw the screams of racism and misogyny you KNEW that it all had to be a lie. Yet you not did not call out the lies, you amplified them and did not speak out against them even when the CHORFs were attacking YOU. And that’s why you owe Brad and the rest of the puppies a HUGE apology.
[Numbers 10 and 11 of 17 tweets]
High engagement books occasionally withhold immediate mind-pictures. This is why low engagement readers think they are bad.
— Nick Mamatas (@NMamatas) May 28, 2015
These readers also suspect people who like high-engagement books of lying, putting on airs, or being "pretentious."
— Nick Mamatas (@NMamatas) May 28, 2015
How, pray tell, did we screw any work, magazine or other entity over by nominating them? First, that presumes that we not only sought to have everything on the slate nominated but also knew that the reaction would be to No Award everything we nominated.
Make no mistake, the decision to No Award the works on the Sad Puppy slate lies on you who have decided to judge a work by its fans.
Claiming that we “screwed over” a work because we nominated it is like an abusive husband smacking his wife because another guy said she was pretty, then turning to the other guy and saying, “See what you made me do?”
We didn’t make you do anything. It is your decision to No Award works, not ours. Just like the abusive husband trying to pin responsibility on the other man, you’re responsible for your own decisions. We’re not forcing you to vote anything below No Award. That’s been your call from the start.
Those of us on the Sad Puppy side just wanted to nominate things we like. We didn’t like what had been winning, so we stepped up and nominated different stuff. You act like we’ve committed an unspeakable sin because we didn’t do it the way you guys have been doing it. We did it a different way.
“Conniption Fodder” – May 28
[Ordinarily I avoid quoting entire posts – but this is, after all, only three sentences long…]
Any political differences I might have with the Puppies, any feelings of dismay I might have about the racism and homophobia and sheer unpleasantness displayed by some of them, are secondary.
What really infuriates me most is eighty years — eighty goddamned years — of SF writers and fans trying to persuade a skeptical and often contemptuous world that this is not a field of crap, jumped-up “Buck Rogers stuff,” as it’s so often been called, but a field of literature, material that was stylistically and thematically and conceptually ignored at the world’s tremendous loss, a fight that was led on the page by Campbell, for God’s sake, by Bradbury, for God’s sake, by Heinlein, for God’s sake, by Pohl for God’s sake, even from time to time by Harry Harrison for God’s sake, and in popular culture by Serling and Roddenberry for God’s sake, all that before we got to the likes of Vonnegut and Ellison and LeGuin and Silverberg and Russ and Malzberg and Tiptree and Brunner and Delany, with the occasional cruelly overlooked master like Kit Reed, and others, for God’s sake, all of them hammering hard at the limits of what this field was allowed to do, and what it was allowed to say, all of them breaking barriers and shattering ceilings, often in the face of tremendous opposition, while permitting the grand old adventure stuff to continue to flourish, until we have room for both Neal Stephenson and Neil Gaiman, for everything from Kim Stanley Robinson to China Mieville, for Nalo Hopkinson and N.K. Jemisin, all those good folks, after which we not only enter the zeitgeist but take it over, decades later, whereupon the Puppies come along and say, “NO! IT WAS NEVER ANY OF THAT GOOD STUFF! IT WAS ALWAYS *JUST* ROCKETSHIPS AND DRAGONS! IT WAS NEVER ANYTHING BUT PLAIN FICTION FOR PLAIN FOLKS! ANY PRETENSIONS OF ANYTHING ELSE ARE JUST AN ABERRATION OF THE LAST FEW YEARS!”
*That* is conniption fodder.
— Brian Lowe (@BrianLoweWriter) May 28, 2015
“Battle of the Lone-Star Reviews” – May 28
A very vocal anti-puppy commented that simply because he was an outspoken anti-puppy, his books had been one-star bombed by the Sad Puppy supporters, and it was wrong. Except when the anti-puppies did it (yes, he actually claimed this in the same comment), because as long as they believed the were morally right, then they had a good reason to. Also, he dared more people to leave one star reviews on his book because all that proved was that they didn’t have a leg to—yeah, I started skimming it. It got ridiculous.
Point is, I checked him on Amazon, and indeed, he does have a very large number of unreasonable one-star reviews. He also had a few very well-thought out and explained one-star reviews to go along with them. I went along and did the helpful/not-helpful boxes as I browsed through them, because heck, even if the guy is loud and annoying to me, a scummy review is still a scummy review.
So, here’s what we have: individuals on both sides appear to be leaving one-star reviews for books of authors they don’t like. And at least one prominent individual on one of the sides has encouraged such actions as a “take that!” to which supporters on the other have responded in kind.
I don’t approve of either. In fact, if you’re encouraging this or engaging in it, you’re part of the problem.
Though, I ask myself, why do I use the word “problem?” Surely it is a feature, not a bug, that there are so many stories published each year that are worthy of our attention? Indeed it is, but a result of that, I feel, is that if we want the Hugos to represent the very best stories of the year, we are failing, in the sense that it’s easier than before for a great story to slip under the radar.
The problem is exacerbated by the fact that for a story to reach the final ballot it must receive 5% of the nominating ballots. That requirement is obsolete in a situation where so many more stories are plausible contenders. (Three times in the past five years the Hugo Short Story ballot has had fewer than 5 entries due to this rule, and in 2013 there were only three stories on the final ballot.)
Is there a way to solve this? I have a very simple suggestion. Change the rules as follows: instead of choosing the top 5 nominated stories for the final ballot, choose the top 10. (However, any individual nominator would still only be allowed to nominate 5 items in a category.) Also, lower the percentage threshold of total nominating ballots to be eligible for the final ballot to 3% (or, possibly, eliminate the lower threshold altogether). I’m not sure this change is needed in all categories – in some categories (Dramatic Presentation, Long Form, for one example) it’s been my impression that getting to 10 reasonable nominees in a given year might be a stretch.
One of the practical things I did while at the convention was upgrade my membership for SasQuan from supporting to attending. They offered a $20 discount if it was done at the con. I also had a nice chat with the people at the table. I told them of my belief, because of the mob mentality being fostered by some people against the Pupps, that they should just announce the winners and forget the dinner. But they are aware of the possibility of unpleasantness and plan to keep a tight rein on things. I wish them luck. I hope I get out of Spokane in one piece.
One person I ran into at the con said he has suggested that, to prevent catcalls, boos and jeering, that the Hugo committee announce in advance which categories will not have an award this year, and the ceremony only deal with the presentations to winners. That sounds like a good idea, also.
“Five days and counting” – May 28
As for today, well, it is difficult to find a topic to blog that doesn’t take me back to Sad Puppies and the Hugos. That is especially true when one author keeps turning up on my Facebook feed with his daily anti-puppy rant. Now, I’m a big believer in everyone is entitled to their own opinions but it is hard to not respond, either on his page — which would get me banned — or here. That’s especially true because he consistently misconstrues what SP3 stands for.
You see, by nature I’m a battler. I’m a brawler and I fight dirty. But I have learned over the years that there are some fights that just aren’t worth fighting. This fight, with this particular author is one of them. He is never going to change his stance, no matter what sort of evidence, anecdotal and concrete alike, he is presented with. He has written the history of the industry in the way he wants it to be remembered and to hell with everyone else. Taking the battle to him would serve no purpose except to prove, in his point of view, he is right.
[A Czech-language SF magazine presents both sides of the controversy. Jason Sanford’s article, according to Google Translate, is titled “You maniacs ! You destroyed Hugo Award !” while Brad Torgersen’s is called “Sad Puppies critics strike back.” Each author also has a story in the issue.]
“On Politics and Fandom” – May 28
Yesterday I sent out a general press release concerning the appointment of Judges to the Gernsback Science Fiction Short Story Contest (you can see a post here).
I received an email from one of the usual press outlets I send such things to, asking to be removed from our PR mailing list.
The name of the venue is unimportant.
What is important is that the request for removal from the list represents fallout from the 2015 Hugo Kerfuffle, otherwise known as Puppygate.
But that’s what earnestness gets you. Earnestness is a crime in our world. Even daring to try to believe in something hopeful and un-ironic wins you scorn. It gets you lectured. And this is one of the nuances that makes me able to understand some of the “puppies” in the Hugo debate. I tend toward cynicism and irony myself, but when someone tells me I can’t be hopeful, that it’s bad taste to be hopeful, that earnestness is corny per se, my hackles are raised and I think, well I’m going to be hopeful, then. I don’t even think I’m uncritical of hopefulness itself–I could name plenty of ostensibly “hopeful” works that weren’t much more than jingoistic rose-colored welding glasses. But Interstellar wasn’t that, and it seems facile–a critical trope of its own–to say it was.
Puppy Note: This book was not on the Puppy Slate. When I thought to myself “How did this book make it onto the Hugo Ballot?” my first thought was the same uncharitable thought that the Puppies normally have. I thought “This is cultural inclusiveness being taken too far. The liberal thought-leaders want to show they are racially/culturally diverse, and they know that this book is CRAZY popular in China! For it to be so popular among so many readers, it must be fantastic! So let’s make sure it gets a nomination regardless of its merits.” Thus a type of affirmative action – signaling your awesome cultural acceptance and diversity at the cost of nominating a book that would have been much more deserving of the Hugo on its merits.
Except that the Puppy Leaders have come forward to say that they love this book, and would have put it on their slate if they’d known about it!! And I’m like… WHAT THE HELL is going on?? OK, we all already suspect that the Puppies don’t have great taste in SF lit, but if they think this book deserves a nomination on its merits, than perhaps *I* am being a giant, insensitive dick by assuming that only someone with a hidden liberal agenda would nominate this. Obviously people must actually like it. And if I am lumping in the Sad/Rabid Puppies with their hated “SJW” nemesis for picking crap for political reasons, maybe that’s a big flashing sign that says “There is no such thing as the political-reasons voter, and the Puppies were even more wrong that I thought from the very beginning.” Seriously, if I can’t tell you apart from your political rivals based on book selection, I think you’re grasping at straws.
Second, apparently Puppy-approved books can be nominated without the Puppy’s help. In fact, despite their efforts in this case. If the liberal conspiracy you claim is keeping good works down keeps nominating things you like (much like they nominated Correia and Torgerson in the past…) then it might not actually exist.
In the end, though, I think too much of the background needed for the story to make sense is just not here. It’s likely in the two earlier volumes, but it’s not here in Volume 3, which is what I’m being asked to judge. I suspect I would like this a good deal better if I’d read the earlier volumes. As is, though? Art, very nice. Story, meh.
Time will bear this out, or not, but I think I will have had a much more difficult time ranking the nominees for Graphic Story than I will for any other Hugo category this year. There is just so much excellence here and the comics are all great in very different ways. I will, however, hold to this ranking and this vote and live with it. But ask me tomorrow and I could reorder the whole thing and be equally comfortable with that order. I choose to draw the line today.
My conclusion ? I have no idea what the nominators were thinking with these selections. I just can’t find the redeeming value that would make any of this years items award winning.
Today I’m reviewing John C. Wright’s review of Keith Laumer’s short novel The Glory Game.
“The novel is well crafted, concise, without a wasted scene or word,” says Wright, “and therefore has the clearest and most trenchant point of any tale I have ever read that is actually a tale and not a tract.”
Indeed, the book’s twist ending is incisively delivered in its last four words. Since The Glory Game was first published in 1973, this review will discuss the plot under the reasonable assumption that little risk remains of spoiling the final twist for long time sci-if fans. For those who are newly come to the fold, it’s recommended that you read the novel before continuing with this post.
Of the book’s characters, Wright notes that they are, “…rough sketches, painted in broad, energetic strokes, as befits an adventure yarn.” Yet the story’s driving conflict is moral; not military–the dilemma of a principled man told to violate his principles.
I am not, in general, a big fan of TV. However, almost everything I watch, or want to watch, is on this list. My reviews for the Best Dramatic Presentation Short Form category will be short. They will be short enough that I can fit them all together on this one post. I present them in the same order in which they appear on the Hugo nominations list.
“A Hugo Post – The Short Stories” – May 28
So what’s the final verdict? Totalled is the standout favourite for me so I’ll be voting as follows:
A Single Samurai
Overall, a solid absorbing read with beautiful world building and solid character development.
“Hugo Award: Related Work” – May 28
Ranking Another race for the bottom. Difficult to figure out which was worse, the word-salad that was Transhuman and Subhuman or the not-a-book that was Wisdom From My Internet. In the end, Wright lost because he put words together in a form that can be described as essay and not just random, unrelated scribblings. Neither “The Hot Equation” nor “Why Science is Never Settled” were important enough to rise above No Award, but “The Hot Equation” came closest.
1) No Award
2) “The Hot Equation” by Ken Burnside
3) “Why Science is Never Settled” by Tedd Roberts
4) Letters from Garnder by Lou Antonelli
5) Transhuman and Subhuman by John C. Wright
6) Wisdom From My Internet by Michael Z. Williamson
[I linked to Kowal’s post before, but John Hertz would be deeply gratified if I injected “Orange Mike” Lowrey’s comment and her reply into the ongoing discussion and I am happy to do so.]
Definition of Terms (You can tell that I was on the debate team in high school, yes?)
- Fandom – The community of fans who regularly attend fan run conventions.
As a historian, I do want to clarify one thing. Historically, SF fandom was centered in the fanzines, constantly refreshed by names culled from the letter columns of the prozines. Conventions were rare and widely scattered, whereas a letter cost less than a dime to mail, and fanzines could easily be printed and mailed for much less than a quarter-dollar. If you lived in a big enough town, this was bolstered and enlarged by local SF clubs, at least one (LASFS) still extant today.
Starting in the 1960s, and more in the 1970s, conventions became more common, but these sprang from the local fandoms (both club and fanzine), and carried on the same conversation, with many of the same participants still around. This conversation in turn (for those unable or unwilling to attend conventions in the flesh, or just wanting more doses of that fannish pleasure) shifted gradually from paper fanzines to online venues, from Usenet and e-mail lists to LiveJournal (and individual blogs) to Facebook. But all these were carrying on the same conversation, and some of the participants remained the same or were the spiritual heirs of the same conversants. We are all the heirs of Bob Tucker, of Forrest J Ackerman, of Jan Howard Finder, of Rusty Hevelin and Lee Hoffman, of Robert Bloch and Morojo, of John Boardman and Harry Warner, Jr., of Terry Carr and Russ Chauvenet and Vin¢ Clarke and Bob Shaw and Jan Howard Finder and Ross Pavlac and Ken Moore and Dean Grennell, of Samuel Edward Konkin III and Steig Larsson (yes, he was One of Us), of Judith Merril and Sam Moskovitz and Ray Palmer, of Frederik Pohl, of Tom Reamy and Bill Rotsler, of Damon Knight and Julie Schwartz, of Donald A. Wollheim. Some of them became pros; some remained “only” fans. But every time you argue about Hugo selection, or use the term “space opera”, or deprecate the use of the horrible neologism “sci-fi” or otherwise celebrate this wonderful thing we enjoy, you ARE part of that conversation, whether you ever get to a con or not. And you are part of science fiction fandom.
Oh! Excllent point about the fanzines. My fault for forgetting because I joined fandom after the internet had already started to reshape things.
Reviewed by John Z. Upjohn, USMC (aspired)
I suppose this book is supposed to be clever in that literary way that SJWs are so fond of, but I found it to be a confusing and unholy mess. It was very hard to follow. The prose was far too clunky and the signaling was all wrong. Good stories use signaling to tell you what kind of story they are, so you will know how the story goes and not be thrown out of it when something happens that you do not expect.
Hwaet! The Great-Danes’ want glory through dubious achievements
The god-voice former infamy we have heard of,
How puppies displayed then their prowess-in-prose.
Theodore, their mighty king, in honor of whom they are often called Teddys.
From many a people their chrome-rockets tore.
Since first they found themselves rocketless and wretched,
The puppies had sadness: no comfort they got for it,
Waxed ’neath the woe, word-honor hungered for
Till all the fans o’er sea were compelled to
Bow to their bidding and bring them their nominations:
aka One Hundred Days of Being Stuck in a Crate Just Because You Ate the Goddamn Plum Pudding Again, if you Didn’t Want Me To Eat It You Shouldn’t Have Put it on the Table, Signed, Maggie, Your DOG
There are familiar and new bylines in today’s roundup: Bradley Armstrong, David Gerrold, John C. Wright, Michael Senft, John Ohno, Andrew Hickey, Vox Day, Amanda S. Green, Lis Carey, Elisa Bergslien, Patrick May, Rebekah Golden, Joseph Tomaras, and Spacefaring Kitten. (Credit for the alternate title goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Greg.)
I’ve seen Correia and company get a lot of bad press for this latest battle in the American culture war, but after a few arguments online I’m going to cool my jets. At least Sad Puppies is not as disgusting as this other movement from last year I won’t dignify with a name. Correia has been acerbic in arguing his case, but he hasn’t crossed any lines of decency unless you see the slate voting as an immoral-in-spirit rigging of democracy via statistical loophole. He was even harassed and slandered online, which I can’t approve of no matter the cause. I flipped my lid about the epidemic of that same thing springing from that-which-must-not-be-named, and I’m not going to go back on that because it’s happening to someone I disagree with.
Correia has my condolences, but I do still disagree with him on this matter. Matthew David Surridge, in declining his Puppy-backed nomination, wrote the most clear-headed and sensible summary of this whole affair I’ve seen on the internet by a wide margin, and my position mostly reflects his. In short, I see no evidence that there is a conspiracy to culturally control the Hugos, at least not one that is in any way recent, and I like stuff with literary aspirations just as much as modest pulp fare, if not more. I thought that high-brow art was what awards were for, since bestseller lists aren’t going to give the good ones the recognition they deserve. As far as the preachy sermonizing goes, I and everyone else who saw James Cameron’s Avatar knows that pain, but I don’t know what the Puppies’ threshold is for that. Are they objecting more strongly to badly-written garbage, or the presence of progressive stances in fiction?
[A long post that explains what Gerrold told the Wall Street Journal reporter during a 45-minute call, of which he says only three out-of-context sentences were used. The following is a short sample.]
When you get that many nominees dropping out and when you get so many major voices in the field condemning the slate-mongering, this is not just a casual disagreement. It is evidence that there is a widespread perception that the slate-mongering was a miscalculation on the part of Torgersen and Correia — and a deliberate attack on the field by Vox Day. (Vox Day has publicly declared his intentions to destroy the Hugos.)
That’s the situation. And that’s pretty much the gist of what I told the reporter from the Wall Street Journal — okay, in the interests of journalistic integrity, I also let the reporter know that I too share the views of Martin, Willis, Castro, Flint, Scalzi, Kowal, and others — that the slates were a bad idea and that this is the year of the asterisk.
And that brings me, finally (yes, I know you’re exhausted, me too) to the most important point I want to make. I know some of the people who ended up on the slates. They’re good people. They’re the real victims of this mess.
I’ve known Kevin Anderson for a long time and have a lot of affection for him. He’s had an enviable career. He’s a good man. I can’t imagine that Kevin would have been a knowledgeable part of any attempt to rig the Hugo awards. Likewise, I’m pretty sure that Tony Weiskopf and Sheila Gilbert would not have been either. They’ve all been around long enough to know better. They have great reputations, fairly earned by a lifetime of hard work.
Unfortunately, despite the integrity of the nominees, there’s still an asterisk on this year’s awards. It’s not their fault, but there it is.
“No One Cares About Your Hooey” – May 23
….Anyone clicking through the link there will come to this:
- I believe, profess, and unambiguously support the view that homosexuals must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.
- I believe, profess, and unambiguously support the view that every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.
- I believe, profess, and unambiguously support the view that These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
- I believe everything the one, true, holy, catholic and apostolic Church teaches.
So, from your reaction, I take it you did not click through the link….
Q: One common comment about the Imperial Radch books is that you are writing a “genderless” society. That doesn’t seem an accurate interpretation.
A: Yeah, it’s been very interesting to me to see some of the discussion surrounding Radchaai and gender. The assumption, for instance, that the Radchaai must have “eradicated” gender in that society, when that’s really nowhere in the text. Or that, as you say, gender doesn’t exist, or that Breq “doesn’t understand” the concept of gender. Not infrequently someone will comment that it’s really stupid to think that a being as smart as Breq couldn’t get her head around the idea of gender, which is probably true, and that’s not really the problem Breq has, is it.
And in an outtake from the story, she weighed in on the Hugo Awards, offering some advice to readers and members and why we she doesn’t worry about them too much:
“I probably shouldn’t comment on the Hugos this year. Though I will say what I would say any year, and that is that if the Hugos matter to you, you should nominate and vote. Sometimes I hear people comment that they don’t think they’re qualified because they don’t read enough, but I think the Hugos have always been about what the voters love, and if you love something and think it’s worthy of an award, you should be able to nominate it.
Beyond that—well, honestly, I figure I could spend my time worrying about awards, or even more pointlessly worrying about people’s opinions of awards, or even more pointlessly worrying about people’s opinions about who does or doesn’t “deserve” those awards — or I could spend my time writing. And I didn’t get into writing for awards. There are no guaranteed outcomes from anything, much less writing, and if I wanted a sure track to acclaim and fame and fortune I sure as heck wouldn’t have chosen writing to get that. I write because I want to tell stories, anything after that is extra. And fortunately I’ve got plenty of writing to do, and plenty of readers waiting for me to do it.”
There are several popular ways to look at science fiction as a genre. I have my own preferences. That said, the major opposing perspective — what I’d term the ‘machine-lit’ school of thought — has its merits, insomuch as it highlights a set of common tendencies in science fiction. I’d like to take this space to highlight the basic premise of machine-lit, the tendencies it breeds, and why I find most machine-lit to be relatively uninteresting.
(The third major perspective, what I call the spaceship-on-the-cover style, I find wholly uninteresting and is the subject of other essays; however, this perspective is becoming historically important lately because of some drama surrounding the Hugo awards being gamed by groups who prefer this style, so it’s worth mentioning in passing.)
“Hugo Blogging: ‘Best’ Short Story” – May 23
….As a result, I do not believe a single story on the ballot is on there legitimately, and so I will be ranking No Award at the top of the list.
I would perhaps have some ethical qualms about this, were any of the nominated stories any good. However, happily, they range from merely not-very-good to outright abysmal. I shall rank the stories below No Award as follows:
Totaled by Kary English. This story is not in any way bad. It’s also, however, not in any way *good*, either. Were it in an anthology I read, I’d read through the story and forget it immediately, maybe remembering “the brain-in-a-jar one” if prodded enough. Perfectly competently put together, but with no new ideas, no interesting characters, and no real reason for existing. Certainly not Hugo-worthy…..
“Hugo Awards 2015: Best Novel” – May 23
This is how I am voting in the Best Novel category. Of course, I merely offer this information regarding my individual ballot for no particular reason at all, and the fact that I have done so should not be confused in any way, shape, or form with a slate or a bloc vote, much less a direct order by the Supreme Dark Lord of the Evil Legion of Evil to his 367 Vile Faceless Minions or anyone else.
- The Three-Body Problem
- Skin Game
- The Goblin Emperor
- The Dark Between the Stars
- No Award
“A few thoughts” – May 23
I’m busy making my way through the Hugo packet. My goal is to read everything included in it. Once I have, I will vote for those works I feel best deserve the Hugo. So far, only a few things have thrown me out from the beginning because the author forgot that you can get your message across without beating your reader over the head. And, no, not all of them are anti-Puppy supported works. Will I post my ballot? Probably, but only after I vote.
The distinctive feature here is that she congratulates herself on being feminine and a lady, as well as, of course, strong–unlike, we are given to understand, those silly and obnoxious feminists. She demands equality, and likes it when men put her on a pedestal, and doesn’t seem to notice the contradiction. Feminists are women seeking notoriety based solely on their femaleness, and want to grind men under their heels. There’s a long rant about lazy, wish-fulfillment fantasy, which does in fact say some useful and interesting things….
“My Three Body Problem problem” – May 22
When I started this book, I was really looking forward to it. I actually had it in my wish list at Amazon months ago because it sounded so cool. Now that I have finished it, I am really disappointed. With all the hype about how deep, insightful, and exciting the book is, I have been left wondering if I read the same book. It wasn’t all bad I guess, but for me it definitely didn’t even remotely live up to the hype and I honestly don’t know if I will ever bother to pick up the next book to see what happens with the human race. As it is presented in the book, you kind of have to wonder if anyone is worth saving.
“The Three Body Problem Liu Cixin” – May 23
This is a perversely fascinating book that gains far more interest from the problems it sets up than from the way it resolves them….
“2015 Hugo Award Novelette Category” – May 23
[Ranking is preceded by comments on all of the novelettes.)
My Hugo ballot for this category is:
- The Journeyman: In the Stone House
- The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale
- Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium
- Championship B’Tok
I am not including “The Day the World Turned Upside Down” on my ballot.
His imagery is clear, epic, sweeping and fun….
I knew a guy who was a virgin and didn’t know what the big deal about sex was. Then he had sex. Then he wanted to have sex all the time. I’ve watched a few episodes of Doctor Who but I admit while I liked it I didn’t know what the big deal was. Now I know what the big deal is.
Of the Analog stories, that leaves Rajnar Vajra’s story with the deceptively stupid title “The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale”. The title is clearly meant to pander to nostalgia for this-boy’s-life-in-space military SF stories of the so-called “Golden Age,” and insofar as it was selected by both sets of puppies for their slates, it succeeded. The title, however, bears little resemblance to the story itself, which can be read as subverting the tropes in which it superficially seems to glory. There is a valid argument to be had about whether subversion-of-tropes has not itself become a trope in contemporary SF, and a redundant one. I sympathize with that argument, but Vajra’s story is at least a better-than-average exemplar of the type, which held by interest start to finish and left me with a smile on my face. I encourage Hugo voters to read it with an open mind, and those who are not WorldCon members to seek it out.
— Spacefaring Kitten (@SpacefaringK) May 23, 2015
I’ve been asked a few times if I plan to write any reviews of the Hugo nominees this year after I’ve read them. The answer: No, I don’t. One, if you look at my general modus operandi around Hugos, I don’t ever really comment on what I think of the merits of the individual nominees* until after the voting window has closed. Two, this year, this policy seems even more advisable as there are excitable people who would point out any reviews on my part as scale-tipping, regardless of what the review said. Three, as a general rule, in public, I try not to say negative things about the work of other writers. I will make exceptions from time to time. But generally, I avoid it….
"I have to admire his mouse with a sword attitude." https://t.co/HmG3xSHxvm I'll admit it, I always thought Reepicheep was the bomb.
— Supreme Dark Lord (@voxday) May 23, 2015
— AISFPpodcast (@AISFPpodcast) May 23, 2015
aka An alternate dimension based on String Theory.
Vox Day, Lela E. Buis, Bob Nelson, Jack Hastings, Floris M. Kleijne, Martin Wisse, John Scalzi, Brian Niemeier, Steve Green, Bruce Arthurs, Ampersand, Immanuel Taal, Lis Carey, Larry Correia, Spacefaring Kitten, Elisa Bergslien, Brandon Kempner and Pip R. Lagenta and Pab Sungenis. (Title credit belongs to File 770’s contributing editors of the day Laura Resnick and John King Tarpinian.)
“#GamerGate has more fun” – May 16
#GamerGate has got to be the first consumer revolt that managed to bring together unequivocally evangelical Christians, unabashed porn stars, and undeniably fabulous homosexuals. Among many, many others. How evil are the SJWs, how universally loathsome is their ideology, that it can inspire such diverse tribes to unite against them? We need a word to describe anti-SJWism. Then again, I suppose we’ve already got one. And that word would be “freedom”.
Before this month, how many people had heard of Theodore Beale (aka Vox Day)? Come on, let’s have a show of hands. Nobody? Same here. I had never heard of the man. Somehow his accomplishments had escaped my notice. However, he is on the national radar now, as he has managed to subvert the Hugo Awards. Not only has he received two nominations for his own work, but his publishing house has won nine nominations. He accomplished this through a political and financial campaign that took advantage of how the awards are run.
The Baen Books website includes a forum called Baen’s Bar. I was banned for not agreeing with Mr Ringo’s vision of the universe. That really pissed me off, because I had in fact bought several of his early books, before he went completely wingnut… In fact, I bought books by just about every one of Baen’s considerable stable. Eric Flint is still a favorite of mine.
Which brings us to Sad Puppies… this time for real.
A couple years ago, a Baen writer named Larry Correia, on the belief that the Hugo Awards had been kidnapped by radical left-wingers whom he calls “Social Justice Warriors”, decided to recruit enough John Ringo True Believers to effectively take control of the Hugo Award ballot process. This year, his successor at the head of the Sad Puppies movement, Brad Torgerson, was brilliantly successful. The Ringo Faithful successfully packed the nominating process, ensuring their victory in the final voting. Baen authors won everything.
I am a Vietnam vet. That war was epitomized by a young lieutenant’s phrase, “We had to destroy the village to save it.” The Sad Puppies had to destroy the Hugo to save it. It is not clear whether the Hugo Awards will ever carry the kind of aura that they had before the Sad Puppy coup d’état.
“The Great Hugo Kerfuffle of 2015” – May 16
Let it be said at the outset that I am an armchair socialist who very much dislikes Tea Party apparatchiks, Fox News demagogues, religious zealots, Rush Limberger and the Sad and Rabid Puppies who have mounted a campaign to hijack Science Fiction Fandom’s Hugo Awards. Furthermore, I am not going to provide links to any of Correia’s, Torgersen’s or Beale’s (the Sad and Rabid Puppies, see below) web posts because I don’t have to and that’s what Google is for anyway. You’ll just have to trust me that the quotes provided are accurate and not taken too far out of context. You can do that, can’t ya?
To put it bluntly: I accept Brad Torgersen’s Sad Puppies, and I reject their Rabid cousins. And to put my money where my mouth is, I’m proposing the SPUNARPU voting approach: Sad PUppies, No Award, Rabid PUppies.
What does that mean in practice? I will read/watch/listen to all nominated works and artists that were either on the Sad Puppies slate (regardless of their presence on the Rabid slate), or on neither slate. I will neither peruse nor vote for works and artists that were only on the Rabid Puppies slate.
Therefore, my amended SPUNARPU approach to this year’s Hugo vote is thus:
- Slush-peruse (read, watch, listen until I’ve had enough) all nominated works and artists except the ones slated by Vox Day and his Rabid Puppies.
- Vote for the works and artists I believe are Hugo-worthy in order of how much I think of them.
- If voting slots remains, put No Award
- If voting slots still remain, vote for the works and artists I believe are not Hugo-worthy below No Award, in order of how little I think of them.
- If voting slots remain even after this exercise, put the Rabid Puppies nominees in there.
This approach minimizes the chance of works and artists slated by Vox Day and not by Brad Torgersen winning a Hugo
”Puppy-Proofing the Hugos” – May 16
LonCon3 had over 10,000 members: get all those to nominate and slate buying becomes slightly more expensive. But how do you get them to vote? Once LonCon3 was over, it was up to Sasquan to rally voters, but that only started in January, or four months later, far too late for those not into core Worldcon fandom to remember to nominate. What’s needed therefore is for the nomination process to open earlier, something which the WSFS rules don’t say anything about, so which can be done without needing that lengthy rule changing process. And while it is easier for a Worldcon to only start considering nominations in January, I think this is important enough to justify that added difficulty.
What I would like to see is having electronic nomination ballots open as soon as possible, either in January of the eligible year (e.g. January 2015 for 2016 nominations) or, if that’s too confusing, too much of a hassle, perhaps after the previous Worldcon has finished (September 1 for the most part). That way it also becomes easier for those already involved to keep a running tally for the year. It would also need not just opening the nominations, but promoting the nomination process as well. Get the members of the previous Worldcon involved, get them enthusiastic about nominating. It’s something next year’s Worldcon, MidAmeriConII, could start up already.
Noblehunter: “What are your thoughts on bad actors in anarchic/unorganized social movements? From looters hi-jacking civil rights protests to gamergate (some people seem to actually believe it’s about ethics in video game journalism) and Puppies (likewise), the stated goals of the group are undermined or by those calling themselves members of the group while acting in counter-productive ways. Can these groups police themselves despite a lack of central authority? Do you have any suggestions for people who are genuinely concerned about ethics in videogame journalism or other populist causes?”
Well, I’d first note that in the cases of Gamergate and the Puppies, the “stated goals” of the group were tacked on as afterthoughts/justifications for the precipitating action (harassment of women — and of a specific woman — in the case of Gamergate, personal desire for a bauble in the case of the Puppies). That’s not an insignificant thing, and it’s not something the fig leaf of a “stated goal” is going to cover up. This is a different situation, obviously, than looters attaching themselves to a protest movement already underway.
If I were truly interested in ethics in video game journalism — which is a laudable goal — or in seeing more representation of the sort of SF/F subgenres I liked in awards — less concretely laudable, but sure, why not — or whatever, I would probably start fresh, far away from those already tainted movements.
According to Wright, the end of science fiction and fantasy’s exile was decreed by the advent of a single film: George Lucas’ cultural juggernaut Star Wars. “When…the President of the United States can make casual references to Jedi mind-powers or the One Ring from Mordor, then space opera and fantasy epic have sunk into the marrow bones of the popular imagination.”
Having examined how genre fiction’s banishment came about, and how it ended, Wright turns to the questions of where sci-fi is going, and what it’s for.
My latest mug/t-shirt/poster/tattoo design. As a republican, I’d rather not have included the crown, but it’d look odd otherwise.
THIS SPACE INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK
ED COX DOODLE HERE
“Mad Libs: Sad Puppies Edition” – May 16
The Wall Street Journal published a recent story about the Sad Puppies/Rabid Puppies gaming a vulnerability in the Hugo Awards nomination procedure to almost completely dominate the 2015 ballot with their own, ah, particular point of view. I was reading the comments (yes, I should know better than to read comments on posts about this subject by now; doing so mostly just raises my blood pressure)….
Very frequently, when I write or talk about this, I’ll run into some fellow lefty1 who doesn’t see any substantive difference between an organized boycott or blacklist against (say) hiring Orson Scott Card, and an individual reader choosing not to buy Card’s books.
Then I realized that one of the Sad Puppy/Rabid Puppy arguments about the Hugo awards that I find most frustrating, is really the exact same argument. One side is saying that collective organization – be it an anti-OSC petition or slate voting – is substantively different than individuals making individual decisions. The other side is denying that there’s any meaningful difference.
“An Ode To Flatland” – May 16
Good Science Fiction answers a “what if” question with the guiding hand of its author. A good social message that grows naturally out of this story can help make the setting that much more rich, the characters that much more realistic, and the themes that much more intriguing. But a good social message imposed on a story contrived to push the author’s social views is bad Science Fiction. It comes down to the “science” part of Science Fiction. Good science starts with evidence and reaches conclusions. Good Science Fiction starts with imaginary evidence and reaches imaginary conclusions. Bad science and bad Science Fiction alike start with the conclusion and try to support it with flimsy (and often imaginary) evidence. The author has complete control over their created world and the social message, if any, they wish to convey. If that world doesn’t naturally grow to show the message it’s probably a boring world and a weak social message.
Watched Daredevil. Most unrealistic part? Not blind Kung Fu. But a reporter who won't run a hit piece without sufficient evidence? No way
— Larry Correia (@monsterhunter45) May 15, 2015
Structurally, this isn’t a bad story. The plot is a little thin, with much of the little that happens relying on events in the prior story.
The main character is an adventurer who has been adventuring in some earlier Analog story as well. He isn’t terribly interesting in any way, and nothing of interest happens in the story, so I was left wondering what was the point, really. There’s some military training, sword-fighting and snappy dialogue that is meant to be smart-ass (I guess).
I didn’t enjoy it at all and have trouble seeing why it’s on the ballot.
“A peak into The Goblin Emperor” – May 15
The one ‘fun’ thing I have managed to do in the past few weeks is to start reading works nominated for a Hugo award. All of the short works I have read so far have ranged from meh down to yuck! Thankfully the novel category has some lovely rays of light. I have been reading The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison and greatly enjoying it.
Let’s wrap this up by looking at the rest of the data concerning the Short Fiction categories of Novella, Novelette, and Short Story. Remember, these stories receive far fewer votes than the Best Novel category, and they are also less centralized, i.e. the votes are spread out over a broader range of texts. Let’s start by looking at some of those diffusion numbers:
My Hugo burns at both ends.
It will not last the night.
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—…
Those Puppies are a blight
how come nobody told me that the Hugo awards were named after the dude who also started Sexology magazine? #crossoverinterests
— Ai (@yetregressing) May 16, 2015