Pixel Scroll 4/18/22 You Get A File, I’ll Get A Troll, We’ll Head Down To The Pixel Scroll, Honey, Enemy Mine

(1) NEXT YEAR’S EASTERCON COMMITTEE PICKED. Conversation is the 2023 Eastercon – it will be held April 7-10. Where? “We don’t have a confirmed site yet,” they say. But somewhere in England. The convention website is here: Conversation 2023. And the guests of honor will be —

  • Zen Cho
  • Niall Harrison
  • Jennell Jaquays
  • Kari Sperring
  • Adrian Tchaikovsky
  • Ursula Vernon (T Kingfisher).

(2) EUROCON REPORT. Polish fan Marcin Klak writes about “Luxcon Eurocon 2022 – Convention From Behind the Mask” – a report that includes a photo of TAFF delegate “Orange Mike” Lowrey.

It was so good to see the people. I haven’t seen some friends for two and more years. Being able to greet them differently than on Zoom was great. Meeting some new people was also awesome. And last, but not least I had the opportunity to meet in person people whom I met online but haven’t yet seen in the real world – this was so cool. I had no idea how strongly I missed all of that. Don’t understand me wrong – virtual conventions are awesome. I appreciate them and think they were a blessing for those of us who attended them. Yet getting back to in-person conventioning was magical….

(3) SEPTEMBER SONG. Allen Steele told Facebook followers his email contained “A ROTTEN EASTER EGG”, and after being turned down as a Chicon 8 program participant he had much to say about the application process. He says he was “uninvited” after answering the questionnaire — because he claims they initiated the contact thus, in his view, issued an invitation. However, Chicon 8’s head of program says it was Steele who initiated things by filling in the form on the website requesting to be contacted.

When I opened my email this morning, here was what I found, printed verbatim. It came from a staff member for this year’s World Science Fiction Convention, an annual event I’ve attended — albeit infrequently in recent years — as a fan since 1973 and as a professional SF writer since 1989. I hadn’t yet decided whether to attend this year’s worldcon, but if I had, it would’ve been the fourth time I’ve been to one in Chicago (including once as a writer with a story on that year’s Hugo ballot).

“Dear Allen Steele.

“Thank you for reaching out to us with your interest in being on Program at Chicon 8: The 80th World Science Fiction Convention. We’re sending this email to inform you that we will not be extending you an invitation to participate as a panelist for the 2022 Worldcon in Chicago.

“Deciding who to invite as panelists is an ongoing multistep process that includes reviewing your program survey answers and the input of many members of the Chicon Program Team. As we have received requests from well over 1500 people, we cannot accept everyone, and so some difficult choices have to be made.

“Best,

“[NAME DELETED}

Head of Program for Chicon 8

My Pronouns: They/Them/Theirs”

This has really floored me, in a number of ways and for a number of reasons. First: I didn’t “reach out” to them. Instead, they reached out to me, in email I received in early March asking whether I would be interested in attending this year’s worldcon. Perhaps it was not technically an invitation, but in the past when I’ve received letters of this nature from worldcon committees, I’ve always felt it safe to assume that I was being asked to attend (for those who don’t know: this kind of invitation doesn’t include a free membership or having any of my hotel or travel expenses paid; it simply asks whether you would like to participate in panels, book signings, readings, etc.). So when I received it, I gave a positive response, assuming this was another worldcon invitation, something I’ve done dozens of times for dozens of years….

Steele also “joked” about pronoun preferences such as they/them/theirs.

Artist Bob Eggleton, in comments, made a suggestion in the spirit of Jon Del Arroz:

Chicon 8’s process for becoming a program participant is explained in detail here. After someone contacts the committee, this is the first of several things that happen —

    • Within a few weeks we will send you the program participant survey. This tells us who you are, and gives us an overview of what you hope to contribute to the program. Among other things, this survey will include the opportunity to (optionally): Suggest panel topics that you would like to see run at the convention. Propose workshops and presentations that you would like to conduct as solo or duo presenters.
    • Potential participants will be put through a vetting process to make sure that they are aligned with the values and principles set out in the convention code of conduct and anti-racism statement….

(4) THAT’S NOT STREAMING, IT’S A FLOOD. Ask.com wants to know “When Did It Become a Job to Be a Fan?” You might wonder after reading the previous item. But conrunning is not the focus of this article.

I never watched episodes three and four of Disney+’s The Book of Boba Fett. I read recaps and just tuned in for the juicy Mando-and-Baby-Yoda-filled episodes of the Star Wars show. I didn’t bother with HBO Max’s Peacemaker; James Gunn’s brand of humor and the absurdist violence in the DC Extended Universe’s (DCEU) The Suicide Squad wasn’t exactly my thing. And even though I have a soft spot for Oscar Isaac, I don’t know if I’ll ever finish watching the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s (MCU) Moon Knight. 

There’s way too much stuff to watch to be able to stay on top of everything — just take a look at our selection of movie and TV releases for April — and yet I can’t help but feel like a failed pop culture writer and media critic for all the things I’m skipping. I should be watching — and probably enjoying — all of it. But, most of the time, these serialized shows and movies that are part of a larger universe feel like homework….

(5) CHINESE SF. The Shimmer Program has released New Voices in Chinese Science Fiction, a collaboration between Clarkesworld and Storycom, edited by Neil Clarke, Xia Jia and Regina Kanyu Wang , including eight stories from Chinese sf writers. Early bird copies of the anthology have been sent out to the Kickstarter backers and it will be made available for purchase in June.

Writers: Shuang Chimu, Liu Xiao, Yang Wanqing, Hui Hu, Congyun “Mu Ming” Gu, Liang Qingsan, Shi Heiyao, Liao Shubo

Translators: Carmen Yiling Yan, Andy Dudak, Rebecca Kuang, Judith Huang, Emily Jin

(6) LONG REMEMBERED THUNDER. “Prehistoric Planet” is a five-night documentary event coming to Apple TV+ May 23.

…This series is produced by the world-renowned team at BBC Studios Natural History Unit with support from the photorealistic visual effects of MPC (“The Lion King,” “The Jungle Book”). “Prehistoric Planet” presents little-known and surprising facts of dinosaur life set against the backdrop of the environments of Cretaceous times, including coasts, deserts, freshwater, ice worlds and forests. From revealing eye-opening parenting techniques of Tyrannosaurus rex to exploring the mysterious depths of the oceans and the deadly dangers in the sky, “Prehistoric Planet” brings Earth’s history to life like never before. 

(7) HALF A CENTURY OF SIMULTANEITY. Space Cowboy Books of Joshua Tree, CA has released the 50th episode of the Simultaneous Times podcast.

Stories featured in this episode are:

  • “RealView”- by Liam Hogan (music by RedBlueBlackSilver), read by Jean-Paul Garnier & Robin Rose Graves
  • “Psionic Thread” by Sam Fletcher (music by Phog Masheeen), read by Jean-Paul Garnier

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1997 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] On this date a quarter of a century ago on Canada’s Citytv (which is sometimes just called City), Lexx (also known as LEXX: The Dark Zone Stories and Tales from a Parallel Universe) premiered as a series of four films. The series follows a group of rather unique and sometimes dysfunctional individuals aboard the living craft Lexx as they travel through two universes and encounter various planets including an Earth that is decidedly not ours. 

It was created by Paul Donovan, Lex Gigeroff and Jeffrey Hirschfield, none of which had a background in the genre in any meaningful sense before this. Hirschfield wrote for three of the four seasons Lexx ran and voiced the character of the robot head 790. 

Now Lexx had a large cast including Brian Downey, Eva Habermann and Xenia Seeberg. Should you be so inclined, and I’m not saying saying that you should be, go ask Google for the uncensored versions of the City broadcast Lexx as regards Eva Habermann and Xenia Seeberg. Let’s just say that when it hit Syfy that network reduced it from a hard “R” to a very friendly “PG” rating in terms of both language and nudity. I’ve also heard that quite a bit of violence was also removed as well. Remember that I’ve mentioned previously that Syfy emasculated Fifties SF series when they ran there too.

It would run, including the original four films of ninety-three minutes in length, for five seasons with the four actual seasons ending with a total of sixty-one episodes with a conventional running time of between forty-five and forty-eight minutes. SyFy trimmed three to five minutes out of each of these episodes. 

Though the series was primarily filmed in Canada and Germany befitting it being a Canadian and German co-production, additional filming done on location in the British Virgin Islands. Iceland, Namibia, New Zealand, Thailand, and the United Kingdom. I need a guide to which scenes were filmed where. Seriously I do. 

Reception was decidedly mixed. The New York Daily News reviewer said she “can only imagine that the great SciFi channel must have been captured by idiot monsters from outer space and Germany” but the Independent got it spot-on when they noted that it is “extremely gory, not a little nasty and rather fun”.  Finally the TV Guide summed it up by noting it is “a siren of distinction for its black comedy, skewed take on the human condition and open sexuality.” 

It currently has a ninety-two percent rating among audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 18, 1884 Frank R. Paul. Illustrator who graced the covers of Amazing Stories beginning with this cover for April 1926, as well as Science Wonder Stories and Air Wonder Stories from June 1929 to October 1940 and a number of others.  He also illustrated the cover of Gernsback’s Ralph 124C 41+: A Romance of the Year 2660 (Stratford Company, 1925), published first as a 1911–1912 serial in Modern Electrics. He was the Guest of Honor at the very first WorldCon, Nycon, in July 1939. He was inducted into Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 2009. Stephen D. Korshak and Frank R. Paul’s From the Pen of Paul: The Fantastic Images of Frank R. Paul published in 2010 is the only work I found that looks at him. (Died 1963.)
  • Born April 18, 1930 Clive Revill, 92. His first genre role was as Ambrose Dudley in The Headless Ghost, a late Fifties British film. He then was in Modesty Blaise in the dual roles of McWhirter / Sheik Abu Tahir followed by The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes playing Rogozhin. A choice role follows as he’s The Voice of The Emperor in The Empire Strikes Back.  As for one-offs, he shows up in The Adventures of Robin HoodThe New AvengersWizards and Warriors in a recurring role as Wizard Vector, Dragon’s Lair, the second version of The Twilight ZoneBatman: The Animated Series in recurring role as as Alfred Pennyworth, Babylon 5Freakazoid in a number of roles, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and Pinky and The Brain… that’s not even close to a full listing! 
  • Born April 18, 1946 Janet Kagan. Another one who died way too young, damn it. “The Nutcracker Coup” was nominated for both the Hugo Award for Best Novelette and the Nebula Award for Best Novelette, winning the Hugo at ConFrancisco. She has but two novels, one being Uhura’s Song, a Trek novel, and quite a bit short fiction which is out in The Complete Kagan from Baen Books and is available from the usual digital suspects as everything else by her.  (Died 2008.)
  • Born April 18, 1965 Stephen Player, 57. Some Birthday honor folks are elusive. What I did find is awesome as he’s deep in the Pratchett’s Discworld and the fandom that sprung up around it. He illustrated the first two Discworld Maps, and quite a number of the books including the25th Anniversary Edition of The Light Fantastic and The Illustrated Wee Free Men. Oh, but that’s just a mere small taste of all he’s done, He also did the production design for the Sky One production of Hogfather and The Colour of Magic. He did box art and card illustrations for Guards! Guards! A Discworld Boardgame. Finally, he contributed to some Discworld Calendars, games books, money for the Discworld convention. I want that money.
  • Born April 18, 1969 Keith R. A. DeCandido, 53. I found him working in these genre media franchises: such as Supernatural, AndromedaFarscapeFireflyAliensStar Trek in its various permutations, Buffy the Vampire SlayerDoctor WhoSpider-ManX-MenHerculesThorSleepy Hollow,and Stargate SG-1. Now I will admit that his Farscape: House of Cards novel is quite fantastic, and it’s available from the usual suspects. He’s also written quite a bit of non-tie-in fiction.
  • Born April 18, 1971 David Tennant, 51. The Tenth Doctor and my favorite of the modern Doctors along with Thirteen whom I’m also very fond of. There are some episodes such as the “The Unicorn and The Wasp” that I’ve watched repeatedly and even reviewed over at Green Man.  He’s also done other spectacular genre work such as the downright creepy Kilgrave in Jessica Jones, and and Barty Crouch, Jr. in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. He’s also in the Beeb’s remake of the The Quatermass Experiment as Dr. Gordon Briscoe.
  • Born April 18, 1973 Cora Buhlert, 49. With Jessica Rydill, she edits the Speculative Fiction Showcase, a most excellent site. She has a generous handful of short fiction professionally published, and was a finalist for Best Fan Writer Hugo at CoNZealand and DisCon III, and has been nominated this year again at Chicon 8. Very impressive indeed! And of course she’s a member of our community here. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) COMICS FOR UKRAINE. Kurt Busiek is among the many stellar contributors to Comics for Ukraine: Sunflower Seeds, a benefit anthology edited by multi-Eisner Award-winner Scott Dunbier. The book will be full-color, 96 pages, 8×12 inches, and available in both hardcover and softcover editions.

Mark Evanier will be in the book, too:

Among the many writers and artists contributing to this effort are Sergio Aragonés and myself. We’re doing a new Groo story that will be included. You can see the whole list of contributors here and you can get your order in for a copy of this historic volume on this page.

There have been $28,808 of pre-orders, with 30 days to go. Order here.

A benefit anthology featuring an all-star lineup of comic book creators, with all proceeds being donated to Ukrainian refugees. Comics for Ukraine: Sunflower Seeds features an incredible roster of comics talent united under the mission of providing relief to the war-torn Ukraine, which has suffered attacks from neighboring Russia since late February. With the exception of hard costs (printing, credit-card fees, marketing) all of the funds raised by Comics for Ukraine: Sunflower Seeds will benefit the relief efforts in Ukraine in partnership with Operation USA. Since time of of the essence, if the campaign is successful, right after the campaign is over and payments have been collected by Zoop, all funds will be sent to Operation USA immediately.

(12) NO BRAINER? [Item by Mike Kennedy.] It’s apparently been a burning question for almost 2 decades. Is 28 Days Later a zombie movie or not? I mean, the revening hordes are not technically undead – type zombies, but they do act pretty much like one & spread the infection by biting their victims.

So, what does screenwriter Alex Garland say? But what about director Danny Boyle?  “28 Days Later writer settles long-running debate” at Digital Spy.

…The premise of 28 Days Later follows a pandemic caused by the accidental release of a contagious virus named The Rage, but the infected don’t die and then come back to life like a typical zombie.

However, they do exhibit zombie-like aggressive behaviour and spread the disease by biting victims, though, so that’s where the debate comes in….

(13) HE’S A BLOCKHEAD. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] News has broken that Jason Momoa will be trading in the ripped physiques of Aquaman and Duncan Idaho for the squared off physique of a lead character in a movie based on Minecraft. Or, at least, negotiations to that effect are nearing completion. “Jason Momoa to Star in ‘Minecraft’ Movie for Warner Bros.” says The Hollywood Reporter.

… Gaming movies have been on a hot streak in recent years, with 20th Century launching a hit franchise with Ryan Reynolds’ Free Guy last year, and Paramount finding success with its Sonic sequel earlier this month.

Momoa and Warners have Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom due out in March 2023. The film is the sequel to the $1 billion-grossing 2018 film Aquaman

(14) DROPPING THE HAMMER. Marvel Studios’ Thor: Love and Thunder opens in theaters July 8, 2022.

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) on a journey unlike anything he’s ever faced – a quest for inner peace. But his retirement is interrupted by a galactic killer known as Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale), who seeks the extinction of the gods. To combat the threat, Thor enlists the help of King Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Korg (Taika Waititi) and ex-girlfriend Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who – to Thor’s surprise – inexplicably wields his magical hammer, Mjolnir, as the Mighty Thor. Together, they embark upon a harrowing cosmic adventure to uncover the mystery of the God Butcher’s vengeance and stop him before it’s too late.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Lindsay Ellis and Princess Weekes discuss “Why Magical Realism is a Global Phenomenon”.

Blurring the lines between fantasy and reality, magical realism in literature and other media combines fantasy elements with concrete realities to make statements about the world we live in. In this episode, we explore its roots, lay out the tenets of the genre, and discuss how it has flourished in Latin American Literature. Hosted by Lindsay Ellis and Princess Weekes, It’s Lit! is a show about our favorite books, genres, and why we love to read.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Rob Thornton, Bill, Will R., Nickpheas, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day John A Arkansawyer.]

2019 Novellapalooza

stack of books ©canstockphoto / pjgon71

[Editor’s note: be sure to read the comments on this post for more novellas and more Filer reviews.]

By JJ:

TL;DR: Here’s what I thought of the 2019 Novellas. What did you think?

I’m a huge reader of novels, but not that big on short fiction. But the last few years, I’ve done a personal project to read and review as many Novellas as I could (presuming that the story synopsis had some appeal for me). I ended up reading:

  • 31 of the novellas published in 2015,
  • 35 of the novellas published in 2016,
  • 46 of the novellas published in 2017,
  • and 38 of the 2018 novellas.
  • (and this year I was waiting for access to a few novellas, so I was reading others, and thus my final total crept up to 55!)

The result of these reading sprees were

I really felt as though this enabled me to do Hugo nominations for the Novella category in an informed way, and a lot of Filers got involved with their own comments. So I’m doing it again this year.

The success and popularity of novellas in the last 5 years seems to have sparked a Golden Age for SFF novellas – so there are a lot more novellas to cover this year. By necessity, I’ve gotten to the point of being more selective about which ones I read, based on the synopsis being of interest to me.

It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book despite not feeling that the jacket copy makes the book sound as though it is something I would like – and to discover that I really like or love the work anyway. On the other hand, It is not at all uncommon for me to choose to read a book which sounds as though it will be up my alley and to discover that, actually, the book doesn’t really do much for me.

Thus, my opinions on the following novellas vary wildly: stories I thought I would love but didn’t, stories I didn’t expect to love but did, and stories which aligned with my expectations – whether high or low.

Bear in mind that while I enjoy both, I tend to prefer Science Fiction over Fantasy – and that while I enjoy suspense and thrillers, I have very little appreciation for Horror (and to be honest, I think Lovecraft is way overrated). What’s more, I apparently had a defective childhood, and do not share a lot of peoples’ appreciation for fairytale retellings and portal fantasies. My personal assessments are therefore not intended to be the final word on these stories, but merely a jumping-off point for Filer discussion.

Novellas I’ve read appear in order based on how much I liked them (best to least), followed by the novellas I haven’t read in alphabetical order.

I’ve included plot summaries, and where I could find them, links to either excerpts or the full stories which can be read online for free. Short novels which fall between 40,000 and 48,000 words (within the Hugo Novella category tolerance) have been included.

Please feel free to post comments about any other 2019 novellas which you’ve read, as well. And if I’ve missed your comment about a novella, or an excerpt for a novella, please point me to it!

(Please be sure to rot-13 any spoilers.)

(fair notice: all Amazon links are referrer URLs which benefit non-profit SFF fan website Worlds Without End)

Continue reading

The Day the World Turned Pupside Down 6/15

aka The Fall of the Doghouse of Usher

Today in the roundup: Andrew Hickey, The G, Brad R. Torgersen, Dave Freer, Chris Van Trump, Cedar Sanderson, L. Jagi Lamplighter, Joe Vasicek, Peter Grant, Amanda S. Green, Keri Sperring, Natalie Luhrs, Maureen Eichner, Paul Weimer, Michael A. Rothman, RedWombat, Camestros Felapton, Spacefaring Kitten, Lis Carey, Steve Davidson and cryptic others. (Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editors of the day Kary English and rcade.)

Andrew Hickey on Sci-Ence! Justice Leak!

“What Political Campaigners Can Learn From The Sad & Rabid Puppies” – June 15

But at the point where you try to drag in the US-centric “culture war”, and argue for the right-wing side of it, you lose not only the “SJWs”, but basically anyone in the Western world outside the USA, because even the most barking right-winger in the UK would be considered a leftist by US culture war standards, and the UK is right-wing compared to most of the rest of the West.

Then there’s the claim that the Puppies’ work is the best of what’s out there — on a purely aesthetic ground, that claim is a nonsense, and I get very annoyed at people pushing clearly sub-par work.

So even if the Puppies hadn’t made an actual enemy of me by including among their membership white supremacist homophobes who advocate rape and murder, I would wish them to fail purely because of their promotion of poor work and their culture war agenda.

But then there are other people — right-wing Republicans who like the stories — who are also voting “No Award” above the Puppies because they’re angry that those works got on the ballot thanks to voting slates, which are against the spirit of the awards and break the unspoken agreement among fandom not to do that kind of thing.

I have to say that personally, that bit doesn’t annoy me too much. I mean, it annoys me a bit, because it’s cheating, but if they’d cheated and got a *really great* bunch of stories on there, I’d have had a sneaking admiration for it. I’d not have approved, mind, but I’d not have been that angry.

 

The G on nerds of a feather, flock together

“Final Words on #Hugowank” – June 15

  1. Isolate and address the legitimate grievances

The sad version claims its campaign is really about sticking up for fun and/or commercial and/or pulpy and/or conservative and/or apolitical science fiction and fantasy against the onslaught of intellectual snobs and/or “social justice warriors” who have forced works of high-minded and/or message-driven and/or progressive literature on the unsuspecting masses of fandom.

Despite finding the majority of victimization claims empirically bogus, I do have some sympathy for the base-claim that popular genre is often crowded out by a specific style of literary-minded SF/F. But in short fiction, where voting pools are small and its likely that writers, editors and slush readers represent a disproportionate slice of the electorate. And it’s not the result of conspiracy but an institutional effect—a self-replicating mechanism that structures the field. Jonathan McCalmont explains how that works in these (one, two, three) articles.

For the record, I see no evidence of this in the best novel category. In fact, I see the opposite—voters rewarding novels that are, on the surface, light and breezy, but have some deeper messages if you bother to look for them. However, it’s not necessary to do that if you just want fun and adventure—sort of like Firefly. (Actually a lot like Firefly, come to think of it.) Plus several Hugo winners, Redshirts and Among Others in particular, are aimed directly at so-called trufans: Redshirts is a Star Trek parody and the protagonist of Among Others is literally a trufan. These are genuinely popular books, and if being a fan is a major part of your life, then there’s an even stronger chance you’ll connect with them. But New Yorker material they are not.

What’s more, even if certain kinds of short fiction enjoy institutional advantages at the moment, pulpy SF/F has not been shut out. Brandon Sanderson, for example, won Best Novella in 2013 for the popular and commercial The Emperor’s Soul. And though I understand Charles Stross is, for some, a demon whose recent Hugo successes haunt dreams and stalk imaginations, 2014 Novella winner “Equoid” (on Tor dot com) is actually super pulpy.

 

Brad R. Torgersen

“Picture of a TOR buyer” – June 15

It would be a damned shame if someone thought I was just malware.

Don’t you think?

 

Dave Freer on Mad Genius Club

“The plucky ‘bots” – June 15

Now according to semi-reliable sources (Publishers Weekly, drawing data from Bookscan) the pie got smaller. This of course is traditional publishing’s pie (which is historically almost the entire Hugo pie too.) (my apologies for not having the 2014 figures – my internet is being really slow and buggy. I’ve seen them, but couldn’t find them. It’s no change.) It’s shrinking year on year with less readers, less sales, and at this rate, will be a slightly smaller problem than the argument about the last slice of Pavlova at the Flinders Island Country Women’s Association tea in ten years’ time (Okay that’s a pretty serious dispute, but it’s got maybe 12 women eyeing it. Still, it’s only just thermonuclear, and not planet-busting)

Part of the reason the puppy kickers have been so particularly unpleasant, vicious and ready for ad hominem and attacks on the livelihood and reputation of anyone even vaguely associated with the Puppies has been because of that shrinking. Those are their pieces of pie, and they want to keep them, and as much as possible of what is left.

In a way, of course, that true in the award situation. There are a fixed number of final nominees, and only one winner in each category.

 

Chris Van Trump on Shambling Towards Bethlehem

“Sadder Puppies” – June 15

I suppose the most tragic thing to me, in the ongoing Saga of the Sad Puppies, is that the people opposed to said Puppies seem to be going out of their way to prove a lot of the accusations that led to the creation of the Puppies in the first place.  Because the inevitable response, once you filter out the snark and hyperbole, is as follows:

“There is no conspiracy, no liberal cabal stopping conservative authors from winning, so stop trying to take our award away from us.”

“Us”, of course, is just code for “people who think like me”.

It’s disheartening to see established, award-winning authors decrying anyone who doesn’t agree with them as “no true fan”.  And Worldcon isn’t even in Scotland this year…

 

Cedar Sanderson

“Letter-Writing Campaign” – June 15

And speaking of black holes, I was annoyed to discover that Tor Books, on which I blogged at length last week, has apparently decided that the customers who are contacting them to complain about the way Irene Gallo treated them are not real. I wish I were joking. I am being told that they have decided the response is disproportionate, and therefore all the emails they are getting are from ‘bots. Whether this is all of Tor (which I doubt) or a small cadre (likely the same ones who have been so vocally critical in the past of their ‘wrongfans’) doesn’t really matter. This is completely unacceptable. I am angry and abandoning a vendor who has messed up a small (relatively) order. How do you think that I and others are reacting when complaints of being called racist, misogynist, homophobic, our work being ‘bad to reprehensible’ and worst of all to those of us who know history, lumped with neo-Nazis? Those complaints are being ignored, maybe deleted, and I will not put up with it, for one.

I strongly urge my readers to join me in making our voices heard. I am not calling for a  boycott, or firings, I simply want to have a conversation and have my concerns acknowledged. I do not want to be brushed aside and ignored as though I were a meaningless part of this. I’ve bought few Tor books in the last few years because I haven’t cared for most of the authors they support. But I have bought some, and furthermore, am one of those libeled as having ‘bad to reprehensible’ work.

I am also a businesswoman, and this unprofessional behavior is inexcusable. Allowing their employees to post things like the screencap below, which appeared on a Monday afternoon, meaning it was almost certainly made during work time, on a work computer… that is beyond the pale, as many people have found in the past. Unless, evidently, you work for Tor or MacMillan. If then, apparently you can call your customers names with impunity.

 

L. Jagi Lamplighter on Welcome To Arhyalon

“I Am Not A Robot! I Am A Free Fan!” – June 15

[The author requested that I run this disclaimer ahead of any excerpt.]

[L. Jagi Lamplighter: “I would not want someone to think I am trying to make things worse between Tor and their readers! I just thought that harmony could not be restored if folks at Tor mistakenly thought the letters from readers were from a bot. (I know they are legit, because I know some of these folks. They’ve been writing to John to explain why they feel they can’t buy his books.)”]

Many of these readers are people I know, people I interact with online, or fans of John’s who have written us thoughtful letters explaining why they regretfully feel they must stop buying Tor book, despite their desire to keep reading John’s latest series.

I was thus appalled to see posts suggesting that the emails to Tor—many of which, I am led to understand, are arriving with photos of the reader’s Tor book collections, in some cases, collections worth thousands of dollars—were not legitimate but were sent from automated bots.

Tor Folks:  You may disagree with the Sad/Rabid Puppies, or feel loyalty to your co-workers—but please! Don’t insult our readers by claiming they don’t exist!

Readers:  I realize that, in the age of electronics,this is an unprecedented request, but: if you have a strong opinion that you wish to be heard, it might help if you committed it to physical paper—perhaps along with a printout of your photo of your Tor book collection—and snail mailed it to Tor and Macmillan.

Also, feel free to send me your photo of your Tor books. I will post any photos or links I receive on my website, so everyone can see that you are a real person with real books.

[Photos posted here — I Am Not A Robot! I Am A Free Fan!]

 

Joe Vasicek on One Thousand and One Parsecs

“I AM A REAL PERSON” – June 15

In my first email, I stated that I could not in good conscience continue to support your organization by submitting my stories for publication at Tor.com. The events of the last seven days have made me reluctant to buy Tor books as well. In the coming months, I hope that we can move past this controversy so that we can get back to reading, writing, and publishing stories that we all love, without concern for politics. However, until the corporate culture at Tor has changed to be more inclusive of readers and writers like me, I do not see how that is possible.

 

Peter Grant on Bayou Renaissance Man

“’Can you hear us now?’ Another open letter to Tor and Macmillan” – June 15

A heartfelt “Thank you!!!” to everyone who responded to requests to e-mail Tor and Macmillan about the situation there.  I’ll leave the co-ordinator of the campaign to announce the totals, but they appear to be well into four figures as of the time of writing.  I wonder if Tor and Macmillan will now accept that we aren’t bots and we aren’t just a few malcontents? We are, in fact, a growing wave of SF/F fans who are threatening to abandon them altogether.  If they haven’t yet got that message, they’ll probably never understand it without more direct action.

(By the way, I can only describe as ‘catastrophic’ the performance of whoever’s responsible for customer relations at Tor and/or Macmillan.  There’s been an absolutely inexplicable, deafening silence from both companies in response to e-mails and other communications – not even so much as an acknowledgment of receipt.  When I was a manager and, later, a director, if I’d had a customer relations person who performed so abysmally, they’d have been fired the moment I found out about it.  “Do not pass ‘GO’, do not collect $200, and by all means let the door hit you in the ass on the way out!”  This is simply ridiculous.  Oh, well . . . if they want to play the clam, I think we have every right to assume that both companies are standing behind the unconscionable words and attitudes of the Tor personnel we’ve named.  We’re therefore free to take our response to the next – and only logical – level.)

 

Amanda S. Green on Nocturnal Lives

“Vacation’s over” – June 15

Then there is the mischaracterization being tossed around by some that SP3 stands for no message in our fiction. That is, as I said, a mischaracterization. What we want is for story to be the driving force. Yes, you can have a message but don’t hit the reader over the head with it because, whether you want to admit it or not, it will turn most folks off it they think they are being lectured to.

 

Kari Sperring

“Red Writer: I stand with Irene Gallo” – June 15

Mr Beale believes in freedom only for himself and those who agree with him. He believes he has the right to police the words and lives of everyone else and punish or destroy them if they offend. He is the perfect robber capitalist, dreaming of a world in which the rich — and he is very very rich — control everything, from resources and awards to bodies and thoughts of those who he considers his inferiors. He’s trying that today with TOR books.

And this red writer is standing here in his way. The US culture war does not belong in our genre, which is global and not the property of any one interest group or political belief. Do I want right-wing books and writers in my genre? Yes, I do. Writing belongs to us all. Do I want *only* right wing books and *only* white, straight, American male writers? No, because that is counter not only to the roots of sff — which lie in the work of writers of all races, ethnicities, genders, sexualities, and political views — but to my personal principles, which believe in inclusion and support for the many rather than privilege for the (predictable straight white male) few.

I stand with Irene Gallo.

Or, and if you want to go and denounce me and my books as communist, feel free. I’m not ashamed of my politics.

 

Natalie Luhrs on Pretty Terrible

“I am a real person and I stand with Irene Gallp” – June 15

In response to these rank pieces of bullshit (and this one, too), I have just emailed the following individuals at Tor Books and Macmillan in solidarity with Irene Gallo:…

 

Paul Weimer on Blog, Jvstin Style

“I am a real person, too and I do not Support Theodore Beale” – June 15

You know what? I’m a real person too. I’m a real person who thinks that the shit that Theodore Beale has pulled in the community has helped inflame tensions and increase divides in the SFF community. I’m a real person who reads what Beale writes on his blog and sees that if Irene is wrong in calling Rabid Puppies Neonazis, its a pretty thin wedge….

 

Maureen Eichner on By Signing Light

“A letter to Tor and MacMillan” – June 15

I’ve spent much of the last week appalled and upset by this message from Tom Doherty, the head of Tor Books. I’m not going into the backstory or ramifications in this post, but suffice it to say that once again, it has made me feel that being a female SFF fan, writer, or editor means fighting for your place forever. It means your boss choosing to give words of support to a noxious racist rather than to you.

 

Michael A. Rothman in a comment on Facebook – June 15

[Rothman outs himself as a troll.]

The Chesley Awards…..

Anyone want to take bets on Irene Gallo taking the prize for a variety of reasons that will remain nameless?

Larry? Brad? Mike?

 

Brad R. Torgersen in a comment on File 770 – June 15

Aaron: has it ever occurred to you that for me, the front man of SP3, to begin playing favorites — ergo, singling out specific works for praise — I’d be doing a disservice to the whole slate? Like every other year at the Hugos, not every work on the list will be to all tastes. I am only disappointed in everyone who claims “The Hugos should be a celebration of quality and excellence!” in one breath, then shout, “Everyone on the Puppy list sucks, their work sucks, and I will Noah Ward the lot of them; sight-unseen!”

 

Red Wombat in a comment on File 770 – June 15

I would like to ask our person asking us to go easy on Brad, in turn, if he can understand how some of us who went from “Which one’s Brad?” to being told that our much cherished awards were an affirmative action movement, and we weren’t REALLY creating anything worthwhile, it was all our glittery hoo-has and correct social justicey-ness, might take offense.

From my point of view, Torgersen went from a name on the Campbell ballot to a dude who had just insulted something I poured a decade of my life into.

Can you at least reach across the aisle to understand why I would not feel he’s a nice sweet boy after that? Why I started out feeling that he’d built a campaign on the back of insulting me, and everyone a little like me?

He could apologize. I’d probably accept it–I’m basically a marshmallow. But please understand that some of us walked in to find that we were being insulted when we’d never spoken a word to Brad before.

 

Spacefaring Kitten on Spacefaring Extradimensional Happy Kittens

“The Blending Puppies” – June 15

There was supposed to be a difference between the two puppy breeds. Rabid Puppies were supposed to be the foam-mouthed extremists who want to destroy the Hugos and wreak maximum havoc, while their sad cousins are — despite buying into some objectionable ideas —  actual SFF fans. Or that’s what I thought. I’m not sure you can make the distinction anymore.

Sad Puppy figures Brad Torgersen, Cedar Sanderson and Peter Grant, among others, have decided to join the professional troll Vox Day on his crazy crusade against Tor books. They’re all supporting a GamerGate-inspired mailbox-stuffing campaign that tries to get a person who is working for an SFF publisher (and who they don’t like) fired.

 

 

Camestros Felapton

“The Aslan, the warlock and the cupboard: more on One Bright Star” – June 14

What are we to conclude? The simplest answer is that Tybalt is an allegorical mess and the reason for that is Wright really didn’t know what he was doing. I’m happy to believe that Wright’s claims about what he intended are correct but all we can conclude from that is what was obvious from the beginning: One Bright Start To Guide Them is not well written nor well edited and the potentially interesting ideas are mainly happenstance.

 

Tony on Geeky Library

The Dark Between The Stars”  – June 15

Rating (5 stars)

The author’s writing style is engaging and dramatic without being overly narrative. While it took me a little work to get started, once I was reading it, I couldn’t put the book down. Written in the same format as A Song of Ice and Fire, the story follows multiple characters, sometimes briefly, as events unfold. Historical events are introduced and explained without making you feel like an idiot for not reading the Seven Suns saga, and plotlines are left unresolved where necessary to carry into rest of the trilogy.

 

Lis Carey on Lis Carey’s Library

“Hill 142, by Jason Cordova” – June 15

Jason Cordova is a 2015 nominee for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best New Writer.

This is a single, small battle of World War One, with the Germans equipped with giant, venomous spiders as cavalry mounts, and the Americans equipped with giant (2000-pound) lion as mounts. There’s no explanation of why or how, other than a reference to a breeding program for the lions in Texas, There’s also no indication of how this affects the war, other than sending the surviving soldiers home with more fantastical stories to tell. So what’s the point? I have no idea.

Not recommended.

 

Font Folly

“Hugo Ballot Reviews: Novella” – June 15

[Preceded by reviews of nominated novellas.]

* The Sad/Rabid Puppies object to this characterization. They were just recommending entire slates, they say. Nothing they did was against the rules, they say. Which is exactly what cheats, grifters, and confidence men say when they are caught exploiting a system. Voting an entire slate clearly violates the spirit of the awards, which is supposed to be voting for the works you personally thought were the best of the year. Recruiting mens rights activists and Gamergators who aren’t regular readers of SF to vote these slates in order to stick it to the Social Justice Warriors pushes it even further into the dirty deed category.

 

 

Steve Davidson on Amazing Stories

“Fandom Enters The McCarthy Era” – June 15

Corrected text from the Wikipedia entry on Senator Joseph McCarthy S. R. Puppies:

Beginning in 1950 2013, McCarthy S.R. Puppies became the most visible public face of a period in which Cold War Hugo Award tensions fueled fears of widespread Communist SJW subversion. He was They were noted for making claims that there were large numbers of Communists and Soviet spies and sympathizers SJW and Liberal Fans inside the United States federal government SF/F publishing industry and elsewhere. Ultimately, his their tactics and inability to substantiate his their claims led him them to be censured by the United States Senate Fandom.

The term McCarthyism Puppyism, coined in 1950 2015 in reference to McCarthy’s S.R. Puppies’ practices, was soon applied to similar anti-communist SJW activities. Today the term is used more generally in reference to demagogic, reckless, and unsubstantiated accusations, as well as public attacks on the character or patriotism of political opponents….