aka Mongrel in a Mange Land
Today’s roundup includes Abigail Nussbaum, Vox Day, David Dubrow, Peter Grant, L.E. Modesitt, Jr., Doctor Science, Jennifer Brozek, Noah Ward, Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag, Aaron Pound and cryptic others. (Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editors of the day Will Reichard and Kyra.)
Abigail Nussbaum on Asking The Wrong Questions
“The 2015 Hugo Awards: One Month Out” – July 1
It should be clear that I don’t for a moment believe in the Puppies’ indignation–this was clearly an attempt to hurt Tor, a company they identify with the left wing despite the fact that it publishes people like Orson Scott Card and John C. Wright (in the end, this will all turn out to be about Vox Day’s hard-on for Scalzi, as so much of this clusterfuck probably is). But this does not, in any way, excuse Tor’s actions. For Doherty to buy the Puppy party line–which has been thoroughly debunked so many times–indicates either that the publisher of a major genre imprint is unaware of the year’s biggest news event within the genre, or that he’s a political fellow traveler. And the fact that Tor, which was so quick to respond to the outrage of a single bigot, has said nothing in response to the outrage of a huge swathe of fandom including many of their own authors (not even to the extent of closing the comments on Doherty’s letter, which quickly became a toxic swamp of vileness and bigotry), speaks volumes about their priorities and how they see their audience.
To be honest, this experience has left me more disgusted and enraged than even the original Puppy ballots. I expect vile behavior from vile people. I do not expect it from one of the genre’s biggest publishers. The fact that my opinion–and the opinion of so many other fans and readers–clearly does not matter as much to Tor as the opinion of Vox Day is not something that I feel inclined to forget or gloss over, and it has been dispiriting to see so many otherwise sensible people rally to Tor’s defense, for example in response to Day’s proposed boycott. I’m not saying that I want to boycott Tor myself, but I don’t feel that they should be rewarded either. If Doherty’s behavior teaches us anything, it’s that Tor is, first and foremost, a business, and businesses only respond to one thing. Treating them like family–as too much of fandom has been doing–is a mistake, because they will take advantage of your loyalty and then stab you in the back, as we’ve just seen.
Vox Day on Vox Popoli
“The hysteria crescendos” – July 1
Why are they still babbling incoherently about us while simultaneously insisting on our totally irrelevant wrongness?
I don’t know. Perhaps they fear that the record influx of Supporting Members are not all reliable SJWs and Truefen flooding in to defend the Hugo Awards by voting to not give out any awards. Perhaps they notice that my site traffic has continue to rise, and that support for both Sad and Rabid Puppies continues to grow as more sane people observe the behavior of the SJWs and realize we were not exaggerating. Perhaps it is simply a reflection of the wider cultural war that has heated up of late. Perhaps it is a reflection of the economic instability that now haunts even those who don’t pay much attention to the economy. Perhaps it is because we use their tactics against them more effectively than they do.
But whatever the reason, it is clear that they are afraid of me, of you, and of the growing number of people who realize that they are incoherent lunatics who possess an insane and immoral vision for society. Let them hurl spurious labels and tell ridiculous lies. It’s what they do. We are immune to all their pointing and shrieking and posturing and preening attempts to DISQUALIFY.
“Hugos, Puppies, and Politics” – July 1
Let’s Set the Table
There is not one element of modern life that has not been politicized in some way or other. Politics have infected everything from education to science to the environment to professional sports to individual entertainment choices. That’s inarguable. Who’s responsible for it can be debated elsewhere, but I defy you to find me one human endeavor that hasn’t been touched by politics.
What the American Left has done is deny that their politics are politics at all; that is, they’ve attempted to normalize their point of view as a non-political viewpoint. Leftism is, therefore, the natural state of things. This explains why so many Leftists self-identify as independents, moderates or even apolitical despite espousing left-wing ideas, supporting left-wing causes, and voting for left-wing political candidates. They’re not being political, they’re just doing the right thing. Leftists have redefined politics as what other people do, not them.
This, of course, excludes those individuals and organizations that specifically identify as progressive, liberal, or left-wing.
The American Right, vastly outnumbered in the entertainment, education, and journalistic industries, tends to conceal itself among the general public a little more than Leftists. Outside of political environments, conservatives aren’t as explicit about their beliefs, in part because the right-wing point of view hasn’t been as successfully normalized in popular culture. Right-wingers aren’t cool. They’re sticks-in-the-mud who resist change, especially social change. Who wants to be known as a fuddy-duddy? A conservative might identify himself as an independent, but he’ll rarely call himself a moderate. He is sensitive to the politicization of modern culture because he resists social change. He has his political viewpoints and feels about them as strongly as the Leftist, but outside of places where conservatives gather, he tends to keep his cards closer to the vest.
By elevating these surface aspects of diversity, the Hugos have been politicized to deliberately exclude authors based on their skin color, gender, and political viewpoint. White men need not apply, especially conservative white men. Or conservatives of any color and gender. Scalzi and his allies have altered the Hugo Awards to focus on message fiction written by people who fit their definition of diversity, not quality science fiction. As Leftists, they don’t (or can’t) acknowledge that they’re politicizing the Hugos; to them, they’re simply doing what’s right and good and proper (and keeping the riff-raff out).
What’s amazing is that merely pointing out that the Hugos have been politicized leaves one open to attacks of politicization, as though the accusation is enough to condemn the accuser rather than the accused. So if I point out that Book A was nominated for a Hugo because it espouses a particular viewpoint, not because it’s a good story, I’m the one politicizing the process. Combine this with how progressives cannot or will not acknowledge that their point of view is political, and you have a very comprehensive, if utterly transparent defense: it’s the Puppies’ fault that the Hugos are a political football because they accused the Leftists of politicizing the Hugos, which is impossible because Leftists don’t practice politics. Also known as, “I know you are, but what am I?” Hence, the Puppies’ efforts to nominate stories based on their criteria are, de facto, illegitimate. It’s perfectly fine to nominate only Leftist message fiction written by Leftists, but it’s gaming the system to nominate science fiction stories written by conservatives.
It may be that you like message fiction and think that science fiction needs a broader diversity of authors to maintain the genre’s relevance in the 21st century. In which case it’s only natural that you would decry the Puppies’ efforts. Just know that you’re also engaging in politics. You’ve decided to redefine the Hugo Awards to celebrate a political viewpoint rather than promote quality fiction.
Peter Grant on Bayou Renaissance Man
“The state of the Tor boycott (and SJW’s)” – July 1
The SJW’s also appear to be trying to conflate the Tor boycott with the Hugo Awards controversy. Please recall that I didn’t call for a boycott of Tor because of anything to do with the Hugo Awards. I did so because of the lies and unconscionable actions of a number of senior Tor staff. It looks to me as if the loony left is grasping at straws here. Vox Day, who as organizer of the Rabid Puppies is the SJW’s favorite demon, has done a great job cataloging their manic efforts to further polarize and inflame the situation. I know that some people regard him as all sorts of nasty things because of various incidents in the past, but I don’t know anything about those. I’ve only had dealings with him since this situation blew up. In that context, I have nothing but praise for his openness, honesty and willingness to co-operate.
L. E. Modesitt, Jr.
“Readers, Conventions and Sad/Rabid Puppies” – June 30
…. The problem in both politics and the current Sad/Rabid Puppies kerfuffle is that each side’s assumptions behind the words differ. Conservatives view “liberty” and “justice” in terms of property, while liberals focus on human rights. I’d like to think that moderates realize that both property and human rights are essential to a functioning society.
Likewise in the F&SF kerfuffle, it seems to me that the Sad/Rabid Puppies tend to focus more extensively, at times almost exclusively, on the importance of action, storyline, and individual worth and action, while the more “liberal” side insists that the context of the society/world in which storylines exist should play a far greater role, and that no functional future society should be racially/culturally unidimensional. The Sad/Rabid Puppies appear to believe that the other side wants to continue using the Hugo awards to reward works and individuals that further their goals, while the “liberal” side believes that the Sad/Rabid Puppies want to wrench the awards back to representing the male, patriarchal U.S. culture of the 1950s. That’s an oversimplification, since each group has individuals who don’t fit those definitions, but I think it captures the gist of the conflict.
The sad problem is that the unspoken simplistic assumptions on each side ignore their commonalities, and the fact that, for F&SF to continue as a vital form, elements of both sides need to be represented and that neither should “dominate” the awards. Of course, since the politicians and all too many voters haven’t been able to comprehend this concept, why should mere readers and authors?
“Should Christians Engage in the Culture War?” – July 1
Gird Up for the Battle
This group of individuals have decided that they will go down fighting. It seemed to begin in a movement now called GamerGate. A journalist was found to have insider ties with the gaming industry that was biasing her reporting. The flare-up occurred where game designers started to stand up for the rights to make the games they wanted to make, which is only a problem to those that expect that games should meet some arbitrary societal norms—whether it’s the number of females, what clothing they wear, how the racial balance is, and other social issues.
The battle opened up another front on the side of Science Fiction in a clash over the Hugos and the banning of a lifetime member of the Science Fiction Writers of America over a tweet on the SFWAAuthors twitter account promoting a blog post which some took offense to. This lead to higher participation in the Hugo Awards presented by the SFWA, in which those that had previously not been allowed to participate managed to dominate the categories.
While this is not Christian in nature (some Christians are participating, but the movement in and of itself is not Christian), these people believe that it’s best to fight back against the social justice tyranny they see being forced upon them.
Doctor Science on Obsidian Wings
“Dear Transformative Works Fandom: Please think about voting for the Hugo Awards” – July 1
…I’m particularly encouraging my friends in transformative works and Tumblr fandom to consider voting because you-all are younger than the average Hugo voter (Worldcon members tend to be aging baby boomers, like me), which is good for the future of the award and the fandom, and because many of you have a lot of insights and opinions about visual and audio media: comics, fancasts, TV shows, art….
Should you go to Worldcon?
Last year’s Worldcon was in London, the one before that was in San Antonio, Texas, next year’s is in Kansas City. Because Worldcon moves around, because it’s put together by volunteers, and because it has few or no actors attending, it never gets terribly large compared to Dragoncon, much less ComicCon. Currently, Sasquan has about 4000 attending members and 5000 supporting members, from five continents … plus one in Earth orbit.
Compared to other cons you might have attended, Worldcon runs light on high-gloss movie, TV, and game presentations, but heavy on cosplay and music. Cosplay isn’t just in the halls, there’s also the Masquerade, a judged costume and stage show that always includes some staggeringly beautiful and complex presentations — last year’s Best in Show Winner, “Aratalindale”, for instance, depicted the Valar from Tolkien’s Simarillion. Worldcon music includes performances, filking, and many types of dancing. There’s an Art show and Artist’s Alley, of course. Alas, the deadline for the Writer’s Workshop has passed, but there are lots of other opportunities to talk about writing and fanworks.
I’ll make another post about this year’s Hugo nominees, some historical background, and some possible guidelines about what to look for, but I want to keep it separate from this one. Reblog, tell your friends, think about getting more of us into the structures of SFF fandom. I believe we’re the future of the future, and I encourage you to take up that shiny shiny mantle.
“Travel and Awards” – June 30
I ended with LepreCon in Phoenix, AZ. Yes, it was hot. Really hot. Like 110+ degrees hot. However, it was a great convention. Highly recommended. Small, enthusiastic, and great guests of honor.
In particular, I was pleased to meet Dayton Ward, whom I know from IAMTW, and David Gerrold (most famous for “Trouble with Tribbles.”), who soothed all my fears about the Sasquan Hugo Awards ceremony. After talking with him about my concerns (David is the host), I feel like I can relax and just enjoy the ride. That’s a huge deal for me.
“Who Decides The Best SF/F Novels?” – July 1
A recent Sad Puppies related discussion lead to the topic of how well the Goodreads Choice Awards match up with the Hugo nominations. Thus I decided to actually find out, and therefore compiled a list of the works that had appeared on both awards….
Hence the results produced by the last four years of Goodreads Choice Awards imply that the Hugo awards might not the best indication for what the fans consider as the best Fantasy or Science Fiction. Which in turn would suggest that the ‘Puppy narrative’ would posses a kernel of truth when it comes to Hugos being out of touch with the fans of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Yet another kernel to be placed into the sack.
Nevertheless, I cannot say that the Puppies have had a noticeable effect on the actual nomination results themselves. Just like the three years prior; the Hugo ballot is still filled by the same number of appearances from the Goodreads list, and we have that one highly ranked work while the rest come from somewhere nearer to the bottom end of the list….
Goodreads (2013) & Hugo (2014):
- – A Memory of Light (Wheel of Time) (2nd in Fantasy)
- – Ancillary Justice (20th in Science Fiction) (Won Hugo)
Goodreads had 119,222 votes cast in Fantasy, 108,739 votes cast in Paranormal Fantasy, and 75,642 votes cast in Science Fiction.
Goodreads (2014) & Hugo (2015):
2/5 of Hugo nominees were found on Goodreads.
- – Skin Game (3rd in Fantasy)
- – The Goblin Emperor (16th in Fantasy)
- – Ancillary Sword (12th in Science fiction)
- – Lines of Departure (20th in Science Fiction) (Withdrawn)
Goodreads had 233,644 votes cast in Fantasy, and 146,367 votes cast in Science Fiction.
4/5 of Hugo nominees were found on Goodreads.
[Survey also covers four earlier periods.]
Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag on Bloggity-Blog-Blog-Blog
“Hugo Reading – Novella” – July 1
[Comments on all five nominees.]
I only was able to complete one of the stories in this category from start to finish, the rest just don’t deserve to be on the ballot at all. I guess I’ll give “Flow” a ranking, probably below “No Award”, and leave the rest off. It’s sad, though. There must be some better works out there, but having three pieces by the same writer in one category? That’s just pathetic. Perhaps that’s what they mean by “sad” puppies?
Seriously, though, I really want to hear from the people who nominated these works. I want to hear why they thought these stories deserved the Hugo. I want to know what it is about these particular works that makes them literally the BEST things they read in 2014. I need to know what criteria those readers were using to pick these works, because for most of them I cannot fathom what would possess anyone who actually read the stories to say, “Yes, this is the best of the year.” And I particularly cannot believe all three of those Wright stories were seriously considered that good by anyone, much less by enough people to get them nominated.
Aaron Pound on Dreaming About Other Worlds
“Review – Analog Science Fiction and Fact: Vol. CXXXIV, No. 11 (November 2014) by Trevor Quachri (editor)” – June 30
Following in a pattern established by Analog over the last few years, Flow by Arlan Andrews, Sr. is another story fragment masquerading as a novella. Unlike many of the other stories chopped up into shorter lengths as a result of this odd editorial practice, Flow doesn’t feel like the filler in between other, more interesting parts of the story. Instead, Flow feels like filler between other filler.
Roger BW’s Blog
“Hugo 2015: Graphic Story” – June 30
[Reviews all five nominees.]
Well, none of these makes me want to dash out and read the next chapter. Maybe I shouldn’t vote in this category at all: these comics are evidently not aimed at me. If I do, it’ll be purely by my enjoyment, in which case Sex Criminals comes top, Saga bottom, and the other two in between, Rat Queens probably above Ms. Marvel. I really have no feel for what’s “Hugo-deserving quality” here.
I admit I was glued to fail_fandomanon’s posts during the whole Requires Hate/Benjanun Sriduangkaew exposé, but I usually just divebomb it with key searches for mention of my favorite characters and canons.
I’m not sure I’d agree that very many fanworks transcend the source material, but they do indeed explore aspects that aren’t addressed much, or at all, in the originals. Some of the talent in TW fandom astonishes me. And then there’s the sexual fluidity of everything and everybody fandom celebrates by messing around with gender roles and/or porning up the joint. (To be clear, while fandom’s perfectly capable of blurring the boundaries, these two things aren’t interchangeable.)
@Mike Everywhere that Mulder and Scully went on the X-Files used to have mountains in the background. They’d be in Iowa and there’d be mountains in the background.
I was not in the “get FFA a Hugo” movement, but it’s a valuable space, particularly because of the anonymity.
Fandom is sometimes beautiful and sometimes terrible.
I guess for me, as an ordinary fan, the thing is lack of respect from the RPs. I’m not some clockwork automaton following instructions – I vote for what I love.
Tea: Taylors of Harrogate’s Pure Assam is my morning addiction. Until I replenished my supplies today, the tea in my stash that best filled that empty hole in my life was Golden Moon’s Honey Pear (flavored black tea with bee pollen). The Teakoe “Block Party Pomegranate” iced tea has turned out to be quite tasty, slightly more tart than the “39th Parallel Pear” so as to better stand up to the sweetness of the stevia.
Games: I love Dominion (haven’t tried the latest expansion yet), but my board/card gaming set seems to prefer the somewhat similar Ascension. It goes out to Sunday brunch with us. A good friend introduced me to Betrayal at the House on the Hill the other day, but I was distracted by my party-hosting duties; I suspect I need another go at it to really appreciate it. My MMORG hours belong to Puzzle Pirates, my console gaming to Eden and Rock Band 3, and my stupid mindless clicking to Two Dots. Occasionally I pull out the Atari 7800 (the 2600 broke in the mid eighties, and Dad decided the 7800 would be a shiny replacement) and play Joust or Dig Dug.
Thoughts on the MintheGap parade of errors: have been posted as a comment to that blog post. Haven’t been back to see if the post made it out of moderation, but I felt better about having written.
Tea: Russian Caravan or Lapsang Souchong most of the time. Unadulterated by sugar or milk, but with a Nice biscuit or two dunked in it.
Earl Grey for an evening/afternoon drink, with a little sugar and lemon, but mostly used for hovering over, inhaling the aroma.
Older protagonists: The Annihilation Score by Stross contains musing on middle-age. And superheroes. (review from the 75% stage: Bwhahaha!)
Games: RPGs – a D&D variant, a Trinity/Abberant mashup thing with time travel whose plotting breaks my brain, and just starting Feng Shui 2
Boardgames – I’m fond of co-op boardgames right now. Forbidden Island is a great example of the style. Eldrich Horror (Lovecraft themed) is also great.
Computer: excessive amounts of Payday 2. Crusader Kings 2 had to be deleted lest it eat my life. I have a terrible steam sale addiction.
+many for Declare, and Tim Powers in general. Incidentally, on the comparison with Stross, I believe they had mutual friends who were aware of them writing Declare and The Atrocity Archives, and who advised both of them to avoid the others work until they’d finished because they were clearly working in the same territory. I like both for very different reasons.
In the spy category, thoroughly ninja’d by Jim and others, but I will third or fourth or whatever recs for Littell, Furst, Deighton, Ambler, The Sandbaggers, Queen & Country, Scholars Of Night, and you should read Ross Thomas, spy stuff or no, because he is the bestest. Patricia Finney has a trilogy of Elizabethan espionage novels, starting with Unicorn Blood, that come across as LeCarre meets Dorothy Dunnett. (I wonder if they ever did meet?) And of course, Jeff Vandermeer’s Authority is institutional espionage versus the unknowable.
Let me also throw in recs for Rogue Male, by Geoffrey Household, one of the great manhunt novels, and Lionel Davidson’s Kolymsky Heights, a brilliant Cold War thriller – and Davidson’s other books are brilliant, too. I’m particularly fond of The Chelsea Murders and The Menorah Men.
Oh, and Jim, I though Grady’s Mad Dogs was a terrific thriller
Yes. Mind you, every WorldCon is its own thing, but LonCon3 had (like every big British Con) ceilidhs, discos, and other traditional dances that I forgot about/was too drunk to attend/was deep in conversation during. WorldCons also always have a filking track.
Thank you so much for the mention of Roll20 for role playing games via the web! I haven’t checked it out carefully yet, but at first glance it looks *very* useful, and I appreciate the suggestion.
Mark: Thanks for the late recommendation! Stross was, of course, already on my plan-to-buy list.
Be it noted that “Trinity/Aberrant mashup” makes my ears perk up, for reasons you can find by looking at credits pages.
Thank you for your answer about home education, Meredith! I appreciate your time and effort.
@Nigel: Huzzzah! Another Ross Thomas fan! I feared the only other person on these threads who might have read Thomas at all was Mamatas, and I wasn’t even sure about him.
I’m pretty sure I read every novel Thomas published, including the Oliver Bleeck books.
No problem, LunarG, anytime. I get pretty enthusiastic about talking about my family so it was a pleasure (there was a lot of editing out of anecdotes that can probably be summed up as “Yay! Look at cool thing family member did!”). ETA: Since the thread has calmed down, also happy for any follow-ups. 🙂
Juuust going to leave this here: If anyone decides to write a home educated character and wants a beta read, I’m happy to do it. I recently read a book after one of the Big Ideas on Scalzi’s blog and the home educated character in that didn’t feel right at all.
Jim, I think I might be missing a Bleek, but I’ve been a Thomasite ever since I randomly picked up The Fourth Durango from the library during an extended period of post-college unemployment. Let me take this opportunity to dig out a link:
Have you read it? Incredibly fascinating.
But the question was what would you add to make those faans happy. They’re already getting what they like out of those cons, I don’t consider WorldCon to be competing as much as co-existing, and any additions would require either a larger pool of volunteers or a complete change in how it’s done. All of those would change WorldCon.
In case you didn’t see my earlier comment: I was unclear, I was only talking about what you’d add to my *description* of WorldCon. In particular, what you’d add to attract fans who *aren’t* getting all they like, or all they might like, out of the megacons.
@Nigel: That Ross Thomas retrospective is great. Thanks for the pointer.
Isn’t it? You’re very welcome!
Utena is the best ever!
As for CoH, I played from two months after they turned it off, till the night the shutdown the servers for good. I still miss it.
Oh hey, we have “Shadows Over Camelot” in our game corner.
I’m not sure I’ve ever played it, though.
In other news, I am soooooooo slow today. Way behind on reading the comments.
Meredith, I am curious about the unique opportunities your education provided you and your sisters. (All girls in your family, too? I am the oldest of 4 sisters, myself.) I originally was inquiring because on another blog, which is something of a refuge for survivors of very fringe religious homeschooling, I’ve seen Europeans (Germans, if I recall?) being flat out appalled by the concept of home schooling. Maybe it was just those individuals, though.
Older Protagonists: Patrick Hennessy aka Patricio Carrera from Tom Kratman’s Carrera series. The main character starts out middle-aged and spends the next few decades (over 6 novels to date) building a military. Outstanding milsf, though there is a disconcerting amount of oral sex in the first few novels.
Samuel Bisson @ 10:35 am and Gully Ford @ 5:11 pm- I agree. Declare was an outstanding book, amazingly well done.
Jim Henley @ 7:15 pm- Thank you.