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April 20, 2014

On the science-fiction world’s topic du jour
Posted by Patrick at 01:00 PM *

I pretty much agree with this.

On suggestions that the Hugo Awards process is hopeless, terrible, should be replaced by a panel of experts / my friends / cosmic overminds from Aldebaran: Yes, well. The Hugos are what they are—a popular award for certain kinds of SF and fantasy-related activities, open to anyone who wants to participate and who’s willing to buy a Worldcon membership. And administered by volunteers who are responsible for keeping procedures in compliance with a set of rules maintained and amended over several decades in a democratic, transparent process open to all Worldcon members. Of course that means the Hugos have flaws. So do juried awards, your friends, and, probably, cosmic overminds from Aldebaran. Best advice: Enjoy awards; don’t let them bend you too far out of shape.

On not being a finalist this year for Best Professional Editor (Long Form): Look! There isn’t a single person who’s been nominated in this category every year since it began in 2007. This is a mark of a successful category. Meanwhile, all of the five people who are finalists are entirely deserving—and whichever one wins, they’ll be a first-time winner.

On stories from Tor.com making up over one-third of the short-fiction finalists: LOUD CRIES OF WOO HOO. And congratulations to Andy Duncan & Ellen Klages (“Wakulla Springs,” best novella), Charles Stross (“Equoid,” best novella), Mary Robinette Kowal (“The Lady Astronaut of Mars,” best novelette), Thomas Olde Heuvelt (“The Ink Readers of Doi Saket,” best short story), and Viable Paradise alumnus John Chu (“The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere,” best short story).

Oh, and for those of you going “huh?”, here’s the full list of this year’s Hugo Award finalists. Let the commenting begin!

Comments on On the science-fiction world's topic du jour:
#1 ::: Jeremy Preacher ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 01:41 PM:

I am very curious to see the numbers of supporting memberships this year vs recent years - is this enough to get more people to want voting eligibility?

I am somewhat disappointed that my personal crusade, taken up too late and with too little force, failed, but Janelle Monae will no doubt go on with her life without a Best Related nom.

#2 ::: Ulrika ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 02:05 PM:

"in a democratic, transparent process open to all Worldcon members"

That's not even technically true. It's not meaningfully open to supporting members. It's not transparent unless you're also privy to a lot of conversations that happen before the actual WSFS meetings. And it's not practically speaking democratic because if every member of the Worldcon wanted to participate in the relevant votes, they could not fit in the room, and no ballot is offered to those who do not attend.

#3 ::: Nadya Duke ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 02:13 PM:

Woo hoo, indeed! And thanks for publishing The Lady Astronaut of Mars so that it had a shot this year.

Tor.com publishes great work, and I suspect its diverse content also brings a lot of readers who might not otherwise read short fiction. So more woo for drawing people to short fiction, even though this is a theory for which I have no supporting data.

#4 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 02:14 PM:

Looking at the nominees for Best Novel... Ancillary Justice (woo!), sequel, sequel, sequel, the entire freaking Wheel of Time.

Casting no aspersions on the quality of the works nominated and speaking only about pagecount—somebody who wants to read all the Best Novel nominees who hasn't already has a serious slog ahead of them.

#5 ::: Herewiss13 ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 02:22 PM:

@4: slight correction: Parasite by Mira Grant isn't a sequel. It's the start of a new trilogy.

#6 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 02:25 PM:

Oh. My bad. Does one need to have read the previous trilogy to appreciate it? Is one likely to be massively spoilered if one hasn't?

#7 ::: Steve Downey ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 02:27 PM:

Unless I missed something, Mira Grant's Parasite is not a sequel, but the start of a new sequence.

Stross's Neptune's Brood is in the same universe as Saturn's Children, but shares no characters, or really any plot elements, just the world building. A sequel for marketing purposes, maybe.

#8 ::: Steve Downey ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 02:31 PM:

Kevin @6: No, it's entirely it's own thing.

#9 ::: Ken Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 02:31 PM:

Jeremy (#1) - Supporting memberships almost always go up in years the WorldCon is not in the US. Ballots cast probably do to, because non-US fen who can attend buy memberships.

It's not that far out of line with the recent ballots, though I do note that it appears anyone wanting a Short Story Award nomination should now be trying to sell to those markets that make their stories available for free, instead of by subscription. (Then again, anyone who didn't see that coming wasn't paying attention. And, no, the rest of us weren't either.)

#10 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 02:42 PM:

Steve @8: Well, I stand corrected. That makes it Ancillary Justice, book in an established universe, book in an established universe, sequel, The Entire Freaking Wheel of Time.

I'm not trying to thump on things for being sequels or part of established universes. Even so as a reader I still find myself overwhelmed by the volume of text represented.

#11 ::: Jeremy Preacher ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 02:54 PM:

Kevin Riggle #8, no, really, Parasite is an original book unrelated to any other book except its yet-to-be-published sequels. Not an established universe or anything.

#12 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 02:58 PM:

One reason for reading Saturn's Children before Neptune's Brood-- in the former, there's a lot of worry about the possibility of recreating humans, and in the latter, it's been done two or three times and hasn't made (so far as I know, I'm in the middle of the book) a huge amount of difference.

Both books are from the point of view of sentient robots which were originally modeled on humans.

#13 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 03:05 PM:

Jeremy Preacher @11: Oh. Oh. I finally actually read what y'all were writing, and then went and read the blurb just to make sure. My apologies. The title read so much like a Newsflesh title that I assumed "a new trilogy" meant a second trilogy set mumble years after the first. Not the same universe at all. Got it. Excellent!

#14 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 03:11 PM:

Saying Neptune's Brood is a sequel to Saturn's Children is somewhat like saying that the movie The Battle of the River Plate is a sequel to Captain Horatio Hornblower R.N.

#15 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 03:23 PM:

You'll get no "Woo Hoo!" from me re. Tor publishing more than 1/3 of the Hugo Nominees. Tor has a remarkably large number of outstandingly excellent Editors, and I consider this just the ordinary run-of-the-mill thing we have every reason to expect.

Yes, Scalzi -- whether speaking as a fan or as a pro -- is almost always sensible & respectable.

And also, yes ... there are _hundreds_ of Professional (by one definition or another) Science-Fiction Editors, and it's perfectly reasonable if Patrick misses being nominated once in a while. It is also (IMHO) perfectly reasonable to hold the Attitlude of "This person _has_ a Hugo in this catagory, and one is enough". (That's one of the things I juggle when voting, though not necessarily an over-riding one.)

#16 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 03:31 PM:

Ulrika, in #2, takes me to task for saying that the Worldcon's self-governance procedures are democratic, transparent, and open to all members:

"That's not even technically true. It's not meaningfully open to supporting members. It's not transparent unless you're also privy to a lot of conversations that happen before the actual WSFS meetings. And it's not practically speaking democratic because if every member of the Worldcon wanted to participate in the relevant votes, they could not fit in the room, and no ballot is offered to those who do not attend."

Ulrika is right that I should have said all attending members. Aside from that, I don't agree with any of this.

Most systems of self-governance (town meetings, food co-ops, whatever) require that participants go to some trouble to inform themselves about procedures and issues. That said, my own experience with the Worldcon "business meeting" is that if its regulars were any more aggressive about reaching out to explain the system to anyone who expresses even the slightest interest, they'd be moving into the homes of individual fans in order to conduct personal seminars in how to participate. This was my impression well before I became a person-of-note in professional SF, and it's still my sense of it today.

Of course, the comment about room size is silly. The room is the size it is because it's chosen to accommodate the number of people who usually show up, with some extra space for unexpectedly higher attendance. If more people started regularly showing up for the Worldcon business meeting, I'm sure they'd start arranging for a larger room.

Ulrika is arguing from a point of view long held to in some factions of SF fandom, the idea that the Business Meeting is unwelcome to outsiders by design in order to keep Don Eastlake and three other guys in charge. (An argument frequently advanced on behalf of this is the fact that the Business Meeting is generally at 10 AM, shock horror.) Having tested this myth on several occasions I find it to be less than accurate. For instance, in 2005 and 2006, when I and a bunch of other people were spearheading the effort to split the Best Professional Editor Hugo into a short-form and a long-form award, we got a ton of procedural help from several Business Meeting regulars--notably Mark Olson--who didn't even agree with our proposal, and who voted against it, but who also wanted the proposal to get a fair hearing, and for the Business Meeting voters to have the chance to make a genuine choice.

#17 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 03:40 PM:

The retro-Hugo nomination for the 1938 TV play "R. U. R. by Karel Capek. Produced by Jan Bussell (BBC)" in the Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) category makes me wonder who nominated it, and who will vote for it, and why. It is pretty comprehensively lost: only a few stills remain. There may *just* be one or two very elderly folk around who remember seeing it as children in houses rich enough to be watching TV from Ally Pally before the War. Perhaps they could tell us whether it's worth voting for.

#18 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 03:54 PM:

I have never actually thought the "retro-Hugos" were a good idea.

#19 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 03:56 PM:

It is possible that there is a script surviving for the BBC 1938 version of R.U.R. but the implications of the reports I have found today is that there isn't one. There are a few stills, and the production is described as a section of the play.

If a script does exist (and I am not holding my breath) a production could be staged.

As it is, I suppose it shall have to be The War of the Worlds which gets my vote.

#20 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 04:05 PM:

I will just note here that it IS possible for a title to come out below "No Award" in the final ballot, and that I can see a good candidate for that position in this year's nominees.

#21 ::: ULTRAGOTHA ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 04:33 PM:

PNH #16: ...we got a ton of procedural help from several Business Meeting regulars--notably Mark Olson--who didn't even agree with our proposal, and who voted against it, but who also wanted the proposal to get a fair hearing, and for the Business Meeting voters to have the chance to make a genuine choice.

This has been my experience as well as recently as last year, when Kevin Standlee offered help to the YA Hugo Crowd in crafting their proposal.

These people want more and better participation in WSFS by fandom.

#22 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 05:22 PM:

I would be interested in seeing what kind of short list cosmic overminds from Aldebaran would come up with. Eye of Argon would, at last, I have no doubt, receive its due as the magnificent tribute to a noble gas that it is.

#23 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 05:32 PM:

On a related note, is the 5% threshold (still) a good idea?

Once again, "Short story" has fewer than five in the final ballot which I expect will be happening more in future given the diversity of the field.

#24 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 05:38 PM:

Relating to the current excitement more specifically, I think mostly I'm sad that authors I actually like (Dan Wells in particular) are being tarred by association by this nutjob.

#25 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 05:43 PM:

Xopher@20: "...I can see a good candidate for that position in this year's nominees."

You made this coy statement in the open thread as well, and I confess that I still don't know whether you're referring to the Jordan/Sanderson or the Correia. Or something in one of the other categories.

I'm not actually *asking* which you meant. I am pointing out that if there's a community concensus on which title is Obviously Not Worthy, it's not coextensive with Making Light, cuz I'm floating somewhere way outside it.(*)(***)

(* I am floating somewhere *inside* the SF-reading community that knows that Stross and McGuire/Grant are Worthy Authors, and Leckie is New(**) But Getting All The Good Reviews, so I can exclude those as bones of contention.)

(** Not actually new, but her first novel just came out. The division between SF readers who read short shories and those who don't is outside the scope of this document.)

(*** I am not a Worldcon member this year and it's been a long time since I voted Hugos at all.)

#26 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 06:14 PM:

Ulrika:

"It's not transparent unless you're also privy to a lot of conversations that happen before the actual WSFS meetings."
One of the problems of participatory democracy is the natural divide between people who have already been paying attention, and people who haven't. Both can vote. Both are entitled to participate in public meetings.

One participant already knows why we don't do X, and why Y needs a lot more volunteers plus six to twelve months more lead time than other options, and who currently stands to profit if you go with option Z, and the oddly volatile hazards associated with option Q.

The other participant has several speeches he's itching to make. In his imagination, they strike with the force of revelation. He's unaware that in the context in which he is now operating, 90% the things he plans to say have long since become one with the background noise of the universe.

He's also suspicious of anyone who opposes his good, just, and logical proposals. He imagines these opponents hatching schemes to circumvent his plans, using slick parliamentary maneuvers and impenetrable technical language. He is resolved to not let this happen.

Pause here.

Have you ever been a forum regular, and found yourself passionately wishing that some person, or faction, or recurring type of visitor, would just once read the bleeping FAQ before posting?

Have you ever been on a panel with an academic who's new to SF conventions, and brightly suggests that you begin by defining the difference between science fiction and fantasy?

Have you ever been on a committee at your workplace that rehashes the same discussions over and over again, eventually boils them down into a questionnaire, and then circulates the questionnaire to twenty or thirty people who haven't been attending, all of whom respond by strongly suggesting that you rehash those same discussions yet again?

Have you ever been sitting in an upper-level History/Humanities class, discussing the Investiture Controversy (church vs. state, Holy Roman Emperor vs. Pope Gregory VII, barefoot penance at Canossa in 1077, you know the one), and had an undergrad business major raise her hand and ask, rather indignantly, where the Pope got off thinking he had the right to dictate to secular authority?

If so, bear it in mind as we return to our hypothetical participants.

I think we all have a certain natural sympathy for the newbie participant. We've all been there. He and his friends are part of our community. No one wants to exclude him, or to dismiss his concerns. We're more than willing to explain things he doesn't know.

And yet.

There come these moments.

It may be when he chimes in on a discussion of some knotty perennial problem to suggest a simple, obvious answer, with a cheerful air of "I'm so happy I came here today so I could solve this for you!"

Or it may happen when he's repeatedly interrupting proceedings to demand explanations of the language used in a document that's been world-available for a year in all standard formats, with copious footnotes and glossaries and background info.

Or when he suddenly comes up with a breathtakingly futuristic whole new approach (one he's not volunteering to implement himself) to the project whose details you've all been hammering out for the last several hours. Everyone's exhausted. No one got dinner. And he's all aglow with this paradigm-changing new idea he's had.

At those moments, hatching schemes to circumvent him, using slick parliamentary maneuvers and unfamiliar technical language, will quite possibly seem fair, practical, sensible, and above all democratic, because this work you're doing on behalf of everyone in the community has got to get done.

#27 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 06:25 PM:

Andrew, I was referring to the Novelette category, where one of the items is by someone who calls himself "Ibk Qnl" (rot13'd so his egoscan won't find this thread so easily) (and yes, he means what that sounds like he means by it) aka Gurnqber Ornyr, also known as "the RSHD" (for Racist, Sexist, Homophobic Dipshit - not rot13'd because if he's searching for himself by that name, well, haha, RSHD).

I see no reason to read his work and judge it on its merits. He would not do that for my work, or for any work by a woman or person of color.

#28 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 06:37 PM:

Teresa @26: I have been on both sides of that, and I hear your frustration, particularly in volunteer organizations.

The flip side of that is that sometimes the world really has changed, and the proposal which was unworkable 10 or 20 years ago is now overdue to revisit. Sometimes I have had to be dragged kicking and screaming to that conclusion, but ultimately it was right. So I don't just want new people to keep their mouths shut for ten years until they've osmoted the organizational context and can work within it. (And I don't think you're advocating that.)

In particular, a new person can and should do work on their own, but can only do so much, since for them so much of the organizational context is made up of those pesky unknown unknowns, which they can't know they don't know.

What's the onboarding process? How does a well-meaning and motivated individual learn enough of the organizational context to work effectively to change it? (Speaking generally, and also of the WSFS in particular.)

#29 ::: ULTRAGOTHA ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 06:44 PM:

Xopher, I'm going to try to read the novelette in question if it makes the Hugo packet. But if the sample posted on Twitter by @gavreads is representative, I predict I won't get very far.

#30 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 06:52 PM:

ULTRAGOTHA, I just looked that up and read the sample. What a relief! If the guy were actually a decent writer I would have some fights with my conscience. As it is, this will compete with "Eye of Argon" for "can you read this without laughing" contests.

I will read at least a few paragraphs of the nominated story to determine if it's writing of the same quality or lack thereof.

#31 ::: Dave* Twiddy ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 07:09 PM:

#18: The retro-Hugos are a goofy idea, since practically no one in the voting body will have read enough of the material to be able to give an honest vote. But it does function as an educational resource, pointing fandom to its history and to the high points of the genre. I think that's a valuable thing.

(INSIDE TIP: "Pigeons from Hell" will win the Retro Best Novelette category, because it's the only one of the group most folks have ever heard of. I'm rooting for "Out of the Silent Planet" for Best Novel, but $10 says "The Sword in the Stone" takes it-unless a rogue Lensmen faction swarms up and delivers it to good ol' Doc.)

#32 ::: GuruJ ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 07:26 PM:

#26, #28: The two points of view aren't mutually exclusive. In fact, it pretty much describes the universal tension between conservatism and activism.

The inclination to shut down newcomers who are spouting uninformed views (this is almost a truism) is pretty universal. But the people determined to be helpful and make a difference will stay. And watch. And learn. And continue to try and provide input until they are sufficiently trusted to be listened to.

Organisations can become stuffy and bound to the past. But I don't hear anything which makes me think the Hugos fall into this category.

#33 ::: John A Arkansawyer might be sleeping with the gnomefishes ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 07:33 PM:

I'm not sure, but I thought I posted a response to Jeremy Leader's comment @ 1, supporting his crusade to give Janelle Monae a Hugo. (Metropolis is a seven part work, so we've got some time, right?)

Here's the song of hers I'd like to see used in the Black Widow movie they need to make. In fact, I think Marvel should put Janelle Monae in a movie.

#34 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 07:47 PM:

John A. Arkansawyer (33): Not in this thread, but this comment in the Captain America spoiler thread* seems to fit that description. (I found it in your view-all-by.)

*as far as I can tell, the comment itself is spoiler-free

#35 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 07:48 PM:

Jeremy, do you want to do the honors, or shall I?

#36 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 07:58 PM:

Organisations can become stuffy and bound to the past. But I don't hear anything which makes me think the Hugos fall into this category.

Ulrika's point about supporting members having no say in the award governance strikes me as cogent and troubling. If we can vote for the award but not for the award rules, I'm not sure that counts as enfranchisement.

I hear from Patrick @16 that there are particular people one might reach out to for help in guiding a proposal to change those rules around the "unknown unknowns". Patrick, did you mostly talk with them in person at Worldcon, or by some other means?

#37 ::: Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 07:59 PM:

I do not consider myself a "political" (if that's the word) figure in SF fandom*, but my wife is; as such, I've been fortunate to listen in on many interesting conversations about the Business Meeting, the Hugo nominations/voting, and such. Concerning the opacity of the Business Meeting and parliamentary procedure, I'm also a friend of the woman who, at the LSC3 Meeting, bore the standard for the Young Adult Hugo. (Not the original proposer, but she picked it up when the original proposer put it down for other reasons.) A lot of people consider the YA Hugo event to be a perfect example of parliamentary trickery used to silence newbies...she doesn't.

In her view, she won--she got the committee to consider the creation of the YA award--and further, the people later accused of silencing her were the ones who helped her do it.

It's a furtherance of what Patrick said: we got a ton of procedural help from several Business Meeting regulars...who didn't even agree with our proposal, and who voted against it, but who also wanted the proposal to get a fair hearing, and for the Business Meeting voters to have the chance to make a genuine choice.

* I imagine there are people either laughing or boggling at this statement right now, or who would if they saw it, but it's true--I don't consider myself such. I consider myself one of the guys who does a job, but it's not political.

#38 ::: Kevin Standlee ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 08:05 PM:

Patrick @ #16:

As one of those "three other guys" (I'll be chairing the meeting next year in Spokane), I thank you. And you're quite right that we set the room size based on the projected attendance. Admittedly, sometimes we manage to get stupidly lucky. (In 1994, we were in a room that ordinarily would have been too large, but the Winnipeg Convention Centre's rooms came in only sizes too small and too large.) But there were multiple hot issues with non-overlapping constituencies, and we ended up needing that space after all.)

Should a Worldcon BM ever foresee a need for it -- and trust me, those of us who run these things do think long and hard about it -- we would go over to Programming/Events and make them hate us. I have in fact contemplated a number of doomsday scenarios that require (a) Commandeering the Main Stage of Programming (1000) or Events (>2500) and (b) Requiring so much meeting formality in order to have any chance of accomplishing anything as to make the existing BM look like a Sunday picnic.

In 2011 at Westercon (with about 700 people at the convention), we hit a site selection singularity. As soon as I knew that site selection was going to get tossed to the Business Meeting, I went to the Head of Programming and told her the bad news. Fortunately, she knew why I needed to take over her biggest programming space and kick out the program items scheduled for the next morning from 11 AM onward. We had a turnout that would have been roughly equivalent to ~1,500 (instead of ~150) people coming to a Worldcon Business Meeting, but we survived.

And yes, for all that I've been accused of gatekeeping and deliberately intimidating people from attending the Business Meeting with obscure rules and tricks, I really will work with anyone who honestly wants to try and work within the system. What I don't have patience with are people who say, "We don't need any rules; just do what I say because of course I'm right."

#39 ::: Kevin Standlee ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 08:40 PM:

Kevin Riggle @ #38: I'm one of those people to whom you can talk about new proposals. I, like Mark Olson and the others that Patrick mention, have often been known to help people craft and introduce proposals to the Business Meeting even if I didn't personally like them, because I'd much rather have a clearly-worded proposal that allowed everyone to understand what was being discussed than to spend the relatively little time we have at Worldcon hashing through the technical details of legislation.

Supporting (non-attending) members of Worldcon have the right to submit proposals to the Business Meeting, but not to vote upon them because you have to be present in person to vote. (Proxies aren't allowed. They're fundamentally undemocratic. I can rant about this all day if prodded.) Currently, any change to the WSFS rules (including the Hugo rules) must pass at one year's Worldcon and then be ratified by the following year's meeting. (This acts as a brake upon passions because "packing" a meeting at two consecutive Worldcons in far-distant locales a year apart is nearly impossible.)

I have from time to time floated the idea of replacing the current ratification process (by which anything that passed last year comes back up for a "second reading" for ratification) with what I call "Popular Ratification," whereby anything that passes the Business Meeting at one Worldcon is then submitted to the members of the following year's Worldcon -- attending and supporting, just like the Hugo Awards and Worldcon site selection -- for ratification. Voting would be by ballot both pre-con and at-con, just like site selection is now, and any proposal that got more yes than no votes would be ratified and go into effect at the end of that Worldcon, first affecting the following year's Worldcon. This is similar to how some US states (like California) have constitutions that can be amended by the legislature passing a proposal and then submitting it for ratification in a statewide election.

If I do ever actually submit such a proposal to WSFS, it would first have to pass the existing amendment process: that is, two consecutive Worldcon business meetings would have to vote to (in effect) take away some of their existing tiny bit of authority. I would then require the proposal to be further re-ratified by its own process; that is, it would have to be ratified by a ballot of the members of the following year's Worldcon before taking effect over the following two years. (Amending an amendment process is inherently messy.)

(And of course if I am persuaded to introduce it this year in London and it passes and is sent to Spokane for ratification, I'll have to recuse myself from the Chair when it's up for its ratification debate and vote.)

#40 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 09:13 PM:

Over on Scalzi's blog, "Mad Logician" comments:

Some people are talking about those with supporting memberships as though they were the majority of those eligible to nominate.
For Loncon itself, the latest figures as I write are 4469 Adult Attending and 1232 Supporting members. I don’t have figures to hand for the other relevant Worldcons but it seems likely that the majority of those who bought memberships giving nominating rights did so because they actually intend to turn up at the con.

#41 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 09:31 PM:

I read 'Aldebaran' and I keep replacing it with 'Alderaan'.
Say, that thing in the sky... That's no moon.

#42 ::: Doctor Science ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 09:40 PM:

I do not know as much as many here, so I may spend late August eating fricasse of corvid, but my gut reaction is that this is *hilarious* -- because I predict the bottom-line result will be that Ancillary Justice, the most radically feminist novel that had any chance of being on the ballot, will win by a wider margin than if the campaign had never occurred.

Abaddon's Gate is the novel that was most hurt by the campaign, IMHO.

#43 ::: Naomi Kritzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 09:43 PM:

Teresa @26 -- if I didn't know you lived in New York, I would wonder whether you'd attended the Democratic party caucus in my old precinct...

#44 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 09:57 PM:

If "Abaddon" doesn't win, I expect that the tv adaptation will.

#45 ::: Doctor Science ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 10:01 PM:

@44:
"Abaddon" isn't even on the ballot, which IMHO is the result of the Wheel of Time and Correia campaigns. Absent those campaigns, I'm sure it *would* have been, and it would have given "Ancillary Justice" a run for its money.

#46 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 10:17 PM:

Doctor Science... oh, right, it's not among the finalists. Darn shame, especially since that's the novel where the authors tuckerized me. (My character is a security guy on a military ship, need I say more for one to guess 'my' fate?)

#47 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 10:45 PM:

Could somebody kindly supply an author name to go with "Abaddon"? The hazards of titling a book with a single word... and google has found me multiple items with Abaddon as part of the title.

I've already put a hold on Ancillary Justice at my library based on the first chapter that I found on the publisher's site.

#48 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 10:52 PM:

"Abaddon's Gate" is by James s.A. Corey, who really is Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck.

#49 ::: Doctor Science ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 10:52 PM:

@47 : So sorry! We're talking about Abaddon's Gate by James S. A. Corey (pen name of Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck). It's the third of a trilogy after Leviathan Wakes and Caliban's War.

It's a very satisfying space opera, Across-the-Backdrop-of-a-Solar-System-Gone-Mad Division.

#50 ::: Kevin Standlee ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 10:59 PM:

As I've written elsewhere, I think the big winner is likely to be Loncon 3, on account of all of the additional supporting memberships I predict will be sold by people who now feel obligated to vote. This is good, because organizing a Worldcon in London is a fiendishly expensive proposition and they need all of the funds they can get.

Conversely, we won't need to feel too guilty about the resources likely to be spent to get the online coverage (notably the streaming video) to actually work this year. (That's a four-figure sum of money not counting the people points of the volunteers involved.)

#51 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 11:21 PM:

Serge Broom & Doctor Science: thank you kindly. I've just put Leviathan Wakes on my library hold list as well. (Woo! space opera!) (The prologue that I found online is ... interesting. There's definitely something freaky going on in that ship.)

#52 ::: A Cosmic Overmind from Aldebaran ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 11:27 PM:

I may not be perfect - who is? - but at least the award I administer has a 'best uncategorizable masterpiece' category, unlike the Hugo's.

#53 ::: Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2014, 11:43 PM:

Cosmic Overlord @52: That's what "Best Related" is for.

#54 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2014, 12:50 AM:

A Cosmic Overmind from Aldebaran

So that's where Claude Degler has gotten to.

#55 ::: A Cosmic Overmind from Aldebaran ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2014, 01:34 AM:

Not only am I not perfect, but I trust the auto-correct on your puny earth computation devices a good deal more than I should. For 'Hugo's' read 'Hugos' throughout.

#56 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2014, 02:00 AM:

Ulrika, #2: And it's not practically speaking democratic because if every member of the Worldcon wanted to participate in the relevant votes, they could not fit in the room, and no ballot is offered to those who do not attend.

This is a valid point. I suggested a couple of years back that the voting process for the WSFS business meeting was too constrained, and in ways that were likely to discourage even attending members from participating. I don't see why it wouldn't be possible for a WSFS ballot to be put up on the website in the same way that the Hugo ballot is, and thereby made available to even supporting members for voting.

Patrick suggests @16 that those who are interested in voting should bestir themselves to learn something about the propositions under discussion, which is a reasonable consideration -- but one which IMO could be addressed by requiring each voting proposition to include several paragraphs of description about the purpose of said proposition and what its supporters think would be accomplished thereby. (This is analogous to the way ballot propositions are presented when I vote in my local and state elections.) I would also be willing to postulate a rebuttal of equal length describing what the opponents of the proposal see as its major pitfalls.

... of course, I may now have cast myself in the position of the Dreaded Newbie described by Teresa near the end of #26.

Don, #15: Not to mention that there have been, over the years, people who officially recused themselves from further consideration after winning what they considered a sufficiency of Hugos. The one who immediately springs to mind (for me) is Michael Whelan.

Kevin, #39: I'd back that proposal. It's close enough to what I was suggesting above for me to be comfortable with it.

Xopher, #40: Bear in mind that intention doesn't always translate to practice. Does anyone keep records of the number (or the percentage) of people with attending memberships who don't actually make it to the Worldcon?

#57 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2014, 05:02 AM:

To those calling for a juried process, the Nebulas have one of those, and hey, remember this?

#58 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2014, 09:57 AM:

I hope at some point for someone somewhere to consider the question of what on earth is a 14 (or 15) volume work stretching over 23 years and 2 authors. One long novel? An episodic series? A mix of both? An uncategorisable outlier? (Is comparison to other long series of books helpful, or confusing? How about TV series? Or Comics with a long continuity?)

Sadly I'm pretty sure I've only read the 1st volume, and that nearly 20 years ago, so I may have to delay my contribution until I'm better informed.

#59 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2014, 10:22 AM:

Charlie Stross has said he will be ranking "No Award" above "Anthem" in the retro-Hugos. I suspect he will not be alone in that. (Which does not make it "a community concensus on which title is Obviously Not Worthy".)
https://twitter.com/cstross/status/457627305515687936

#60 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2014, 11:15 AM:

Serge Broom@46

My character is a security guy on a military ship, need I say more for one to guess 'my' fate?

Obviously you save the day when the rest of the crew panics...

:-)

#61 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2014, 11:36 AM:

Michael I @ 60... I wish. My saving the day would make up for the bullet in my head. :-)

#62 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2014, 11:46 AM:

Avram 57: Wow, I had forgotten about that. Sneering arrogance drips from his every line in that comment thread. And it does point out a flaw in the idea of juries, though apparently that jury behaved appropriately, despite the facepalmably bad choice of Beale to sit on it.

#63 ::: ULTRAGOTHA ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2014, 12:20 PM:

I suspect No Award is going to get a workout this year.

I watched Gravity yesterday. I am tempted to rank it below No Award. Not because it's a bad movie. On the contrary, apart from the excessive moaning from Dr Stone (really, Cuarón?) I enjoyed it. I might rank it like that because it's not Science Fiction.

And isn't that amazing? Isn't it wonderful? This entire movie, set in space, with people in space suits, space debris, space stations, space shuttles, is contemporary fiction! The only speculative thing about it is the doesn't-exist-yet Chinese space station. But that's like an Earthquake movie set in a proposed building that hasn't been built yet.

I now want to see Gravity II: International Lawsuits against the Russians.

#64 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2014, 01:35 PM:

ULTRAGOTHA... What if "Gravity" had ended THIS WAY? Would it then qualify?

#65 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2014, 01:57 PM:

Ultragotha (63): That strongly resembles my argument about Apollo 13 (the movie): It isn't science fiction, it's either historical fiction or straight history, depending on your definitions.

#66 ::: Jeremy Preacher who is now Devin Singer ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2014, 02:11 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @33 - Teresa is referring to your confusion over my gender, which is perfectly understandable (I am female, although might also be canine; this is the internet, after all) although I am rather more perplexed by your rendering of my surname.

And that song is excellent, and you're right, Monae will have more opportunities to get her shot. She's clearly One of Us.

Teresa @35, this is why I've decided to change my pen name to something less unambiguously masculine. Although it seemed unreasonable to switch on this community without warning, I think I shall do so now to save confusion.

#67 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2014, 02:13 PM:

Tor.com posted earlier today that the entire Wheel of Time series WILL be included in this year's Hugo Voter's packet.

#68 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2014, 02:15 PM:

Michael I @67: holeeeeee crud. That makes the whole thing a lot more economically persuasive: "Buy a supporting membership, get 15+ full-length ebooks!"

#69 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2014, 02:38 PM:

Elliott, #68: Yes, but it's the Wheel of Time books.

My partner once considered doing a 1-sentence summary of each, comparable to Tom Smith's take on the Thomas Covenant books, but he lost interest after the first few. The only one he remembers now is the very first: "Well, there goes the neighborhood."

#70 ::: Robert West ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2014, 02:55 PM:

Michael I, as I said over on Scalzi's site, while I think Tor's decision to include all of the WoT in the voting packet is the right decision, I'm also worried about a potential side effect.

The concern is the following scenario:

* Tor’s decision to offer the entire WoT as part of the voter packet has created a situation where the WoT books, which ordinarily would cost more than $120 to get in ebook form, are available for the cost of a supporting membership.

* This *should* cause an influx of voters motivated by the desire to get a copy of the WoT in ebook, which is perfectly legitimate.

* Many of those voters will vote for Best Novel, which is also perfectly legitimate.

* Many of those voters will *not* vote for down-ballot categories, which is normal voting behavior in many cases and in this case seems particularly likely because it doesn’t follow that someone buying a membership for a cheap copy of WoT will necessarily have any opinions at all about, say, related works.

* That voting behavior may result in a situation where a number of the down-ballot races fall afoul of Section 3.11.2 of the WSFS Constitution, which says that no award will be given in a particular category if the total number of valid ballots cast in that category is less than 25% of the total number of final award ballots received.

I can’t gauge the likelihood of this outcome, as I can’t really estimate the number of bargain-WoT voters or the number of them that will vote complete ballots. But I think it’s a real risk, and I hope that if the risk manifests, the 2015 business meeting looks into a remedy. (One obvious remedy is to revise 3.11.2 to point at the number of valid ballots cast for the category getting the second most valid ballots; i’m sure there are others).

#71 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2014, 02:59 PM:

I have a perhaps-relevant anecdote from the world of interactive fiction awards, which... I won't tell. Let me sum up: many years ago a troll entered a trolling-game in a competition. But the thing was, he was a *really dedicated* troll, and he worked hard on the game, and... it did pretty well. I think it was beneath his dignity as a troll to turn in a mere piece of crap.

(Note: the above is my estimation of a troll's motivation and intent. Accuracy not guaranteed.)

Here's an unrelated anecdote that I *will* tell, and it's short. Max Gladstone, currently a Campbell nominee, was also a nominee in two categories for the 2013 annual IF awards. (http://xyzzyawards.org/awards/historical.php?year=2013&round=1) He didn't win but I was happy to see him nominated.

#72 ::: Howard Bannister ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2014, 03:46 PM:

Funny (and mostly unrelated) story: Wheel of Time was my First Big Fantasy story, the piece of fiction that really roped me in. It was the thing that all my early attempts at writing tried to emulate. It was the draw that kept me going back to the library and the bookstore.

As I grew older I grew away from it. I might even say that I out-grew it. But I kept reading every new book, right to the end.

When I first heard that it had been nominated, I assumed the most recent book had been nominated, and I actually had thoughts about that and about it not deserving the nomination for various reasons.

But upon hearing that it was the entire series... well. Nostalgia comes for me now, at the end, as it comes for us all. The things of my childhood are more beautiful from this remove, and even knowing that this cloying sentimentality probably isn't deserved can't lessen the feeling.

I keep seeing my 13-year-old self, too earnest with glasses scotch-taped together, hair sticking up, grinning down at that thick paperback, trying to take in this whole world in one sitting, trying to digest it all, and I think he'd want to see the series take the Hugo. I'm not sure I agree with him anymore, but I'm having trouble containing that earnest, eager grin of his.

#73 ::: David Langford ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2014, 03:54 PM:

Back in 2010, in a blog that he no longer maintains, Adam Roberts heroically read and reported on all the Robert Jordan Wheel of Time novels to make it easier for 2014 Hugo voters.

#74 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2014, 05:23 PM:

Is the WOT the longest work ever nominated for a Hugo?

#75 ::: Steven desJardins ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2014, 06:15 PM:

In the aggregate it seems likely that "News coverage of Apollo 11" (winner of the 1970 dramatic presentation award) is longer.

#76 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2014, 06:25 PM:

Alan Braggins @59,

I have taken the trouble to read Anthem. Or, more precisely, I have tried to.

It's lacking in so many ways. The themes are nothing new in the literature or cinema of the time, and the writing fails.

In the end, I don't think it is the best in its category. And it's appearance was relatively obscure. Would any Worldcon members of 1939 have heard of it?

#77 ::: ULTRAGOTHA ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2014, 06:54 PM:

Serge Broom #64:

Yeah, I'd call that SF. :-P

#78 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2014, 08:27 PM:

Jeremy Preacher who is now Devin Singer @66: I suspect John A Arkansawyer was confusing you with me.

#79 ::: Stephen Sample ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2014, 08:39 PM:

Andrew Plotkin @71: I think I have that game ;-)

It's not the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but it's fun.

#80 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2014, 08:46 PM:

Jeremy Leader 78: Oh no. Oh no. I am sooooo stupid.

I've been doing that for...an embarrassingly long time.

I'll be over here in the corner, holding my head in my hands and rocking back and forth, moaning. Or maybe banging my head on the floor.

#81 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2014, 09:44 PM:

Steven desJardins @75: And they say that Gravity isn't science fiction...

#82 ::: Jeremy Preacher who is now Devin Singer ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2014, 10:22 PM:

Jeremy Leader @78 - Oh! That makes ever so much more sense.

#83 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2014, 10:26 PM:

Isn't Gravity set in the alternate history where we continue to have a space program?

#84 ::: Kevin J. Maroney ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2014, 11:52 PM:

David Bell @76:

"Would any Worldcon members of 1939 have heard of it?"

Once you start asking that class of question, the entire idea of the Retro Hugos falls apart silently and very fast.

#85 ::: Steve Downey ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 12:15 AM:

Xopher @ 40
It seems likely, though, that many, if not most, of the supporting memberships are purchased in order to vote on the Hugos, and for the Hugo packet.

Mine certainly has been and will be.

#86 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 03:08 AM:

Kevin Standlee @39: Thanks for the information!

I'm asking largely out of curiosity -- I'm not sure if I'll be able to attend Loncon or not, due to other constraints which haven't fully settled yet, so I'm not a good standard-bearer for anything. But it's good to have a better understanding of the process anyway.

#87 ::: Geri Sullivan ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 05:20 AM:

Steve Downey @85

Loncon 3 started with 932 supporting members, which is the number of people who voted in site selection when London was running unopposed.

Lots of those people upgraded to attending memberships, but it's likely that a good number of Loncon 3's supporting members had reasons for joining in addition to (or perhaps in place of) nominating and voting in the Hugos. In years when there are multiple bids on the ballot, lots of the supporting members most likely got their supporting memberships through voting for one of the bids that didn't win.

Your statement about many and most certainly apply; I'm elaborating on some of the other ways and reasons people end up with supporting memberships.

Most supporting memberships sold after Hugo finalists are announced, and after the Hugo voters packet becomes available, are likely attributable to the Hugos and the packet, though, again, years with highly contested site selection races will also motivate fans to buy supporting memberships.

Like so many others, I love the Hugo packet. It gives me an easy way to evaluate all of the finalists represented in it. In turn, that's enabled me to cast votes in Hugo categories that I previously left blank because I didn't know enough to compare and judge the finalists.

Alas, I still do that in all too many categories thanks to a lack of time. If only there were a way to embed all the time any given Hugo voter needs right into the packet itself!

#88 ::: Alison Scott ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 06:38 AM:

Hugo and site selection voting, and Hugo packets, are part of what makes my decision to buy supporting memberships. I've been to six Worldcons (and expect to attend this year's), but simply can't afford it most years. But buying supporting membership helps keep me feeling like I'm part of that Worldcon community.

#89 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 08:11 AM:

It's worth reiterating, by the way, that while the Worldcon goes back to 1939 (albeit skipping 1942, 1943, 1944, and 1945), and the Hugos go back to 1953 (albeit skipping 1954), the electronic Hugo voter packet goes back only to 2006, when John Scalzi organized the first one on an entirely volunteer basis. Subsequent Worldcons took over responsibility for making it happen, and I suspect today a non-trivial number of people think it's one of those practices that goes back to Time Immemorial.

#90 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 08:30 AM:

Patrick, I'm sure they do, and I'm sure they wonder how the novels were distributed before the internet!

The ones who remember that there WAS a time before the internet...oh boy. Kids on the damn lawn again...

#91 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 08:32 AM:

Avram, Scalzi says the Nebulas are no longer juried.

#92 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 08:36 AM:

Someone Nice @ 66: One of the advantages to screwing everything up is that it becomes harder to attribute it to malice and easier to be understood as just how spacey Johnnie is.

Kevin J. Maroney @ 84: The solution, as I see it, is to have a ten-year, twenty-five year, and fifty-year retro Hugo every year. Surely that'll be simple to implement.

My one hope about the "block voting" controversy is that the person nominated in that list who I'm rooting for gets a fair shot. (Those of you know know me personally may know who that is for one reason; those of you know know how I think about writing and publishing may figure who it is for another.) I'd hate to see someone deserving lose just for being on the list.

(I wouldn't put Anthem under No Award, either. It's not that good, but it's not that bad. It's probably the best of Rand's bad novels. [I kind of like We the Living.])

Okay, two things. I think some of the people I heard grousing last year actually believe the vote is rigged. It'd be nice to see those of them who are reality-based disabused of the notion.

#93 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 08:39 AM:

On the subject of supporting memberships: I went to one Worldcon (Chicon, 2012), but I don't expect to commit the time and money to attend very often. I loved the reading packet and voting in the Hugos, so I've bought a supporting membership to the two subsequent Worldcons, and plan to continue doing so.

#94 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 08:43 AM:

Oh, janetl! I hope that's only because it costs to much in time and money. Chicon was a horrible WorldCon (I won't go into details, since it's been extensively discussed here in the past), and I'd hate for WorldCons in general to be judged by it.

#95 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 08:49 AM:

too* much! *hangs head in shame*

#96 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 08:52 AM:

Janetl @ 93, I'm in the same boat you are. I get to Chicago Worldcons, but I just don't have the budget to travel to other Worldcons. The Hugo Packet was a welcome surprise in 2012 (for whatever reason, I'd not heard it existed until then) and I've been paying for supporting memberships in Worldcons I will never get to ever since, and expect to continue that.

How could I not? All that SF, vetted for quality (yes, some rotten eggs will slip through and some good ones still won't be to my personal taste, but still)... all the short fiction I'd never see otherwise, seven or so novels on average(counting the Campbell nominations)(yes, the WOT books bump the average this year but I'm not counting that; it's an anomaly)... it's a bargain. And as a bonus I'm helping folks throw a party for my tribe, even if I myself cannot attend.

#97 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 09:12 AM:

Xopher Halftongue #94: I enjoy a con the most when I know quite a few people there. I just haven't been that active in fandom, for all the long, to know people at a con that moves around like Worldcon.

#98 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 09:18 AM:

PNH @89

Maybe not the first Hugo-nominee collection, but a computer-based precursor of the voter packet was Brad Templeton's CD-ROM from 1993. Details are here. There may have been short-fiction anthologies but I doubt they ever included all naminees or were published in time to affect voting

#99 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 09:35 AM:

1) Brandon Sanderson, CLASS ACT!

2) I have long argued that we should have a Hugo for completed series, and that it should be awarded every five years, with all series completed in that five year period eligible. I think series are as different from novels as novels are from novellas, and if we're going to separate fiction by length, we should do this reasonably consistently. Maybe I should argue this in the Business Meeting, rather than just in conversation.

3) The Hugo packet gives the reader fiction the feel they have paid for, and it gives the Worldcon a ton of cash, and it makes the Hugos better because of wider participation, but it gives the writer and the publisher nothing. I think there ought to be a nominal ($100?) honorarium to recognise that the writer is actually giving something of value. Most things with the Hugos have been discussed to death, but we never actually decided to do the Hugo packet -- Scalzi did is spontaneously and it was cool and now people feel it is a right.

#100 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 09:56 AM:

Dave Bell #98:

I got that CD-ROM. For some reason I don't think I read most of the stuff on it -- I know I read the TeleJokeBooks and the annotated Fire Upon The Deep, but I don't recall much of the other works.

I suspect that, at the time, the ebook reader software sucked, so I ended up reading the works in text files rather than in the proprietary-formatted book formats. The annotated Fire Upon The Deep was a copy of the working file Vernor Vinge used when writing it. It was a plain-text file with #-prefixed comment lines intermingled.

Ebook formats and readers have progressed significantly since then, so I expect the packets of today are much easier to use.

#101 ::: Steve Downey ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 10:32 AM:

I think I've actually read more of the works in the '39 Retro Hugo categories than I have in the 2014 Hugos. I know I've read all of the novels.

#102 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 11:24 AM:

I read about the first two e-pages of The Novelette In Question. It isn't QUITE bad enough to pay to vote against it. Although voting against it comes with a lot of good books in e-format.

By the way, Devin Singer, there is a commonly used hack to avoid losing all your post history when you change name. (People often use the "view all by" button if they're looking through the archives for something. )I don't remember the details; hopefully someone else does?

#103 ::: Howard Bannister ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 11:30 AM:

I believe that the view all by is using your e-mail, not your name.

As such, when I click View All By on your name, up comes your comment on the thread "what publishing is," where your name is rendered "Sandy B. sees spam"

So it should all work seamlessly and behind the scenes.

#104 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 11:36 AM:

Howard Bannister has the right of it at #103. A name change without a corresponding email change doesn't require any intervention. The hack when changing one's email address is to make a pair of posts, one from the new addy pointing to the old view-all-by and one from the old addy pointing to the new VAB.

#105 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 11:37 AM:

Sandy B @102:

We have a trick for linking different (view all by) histories*, but there's no specific one for linking name-changed ones. Many people do what Devin has, which is to say, putting both into the name field for a while. (I remember when Xopher did that, early on in my tenure here.)

-----
* (view all by) is indexed by email address. So if you'e changing email providers, what we ask you to do is to post two comments. Here's how to do it without even needing mod intervention.

1. Go to one of your old posts and click on (view all by). Grab the URL for your clipboard.

2. Post using your new email address, saying, "Hi! I'm changing email addresses. Click <a href="(old view all by URL)">here</a> for my old history.".

3. Click view all by on the post you created in step 2. Grab the URL for your clipboard.

4. Post using your old email address, saying, "Hi! I'm about to migrate away from this email address. Click <a href="(new view all by URL)">here</a> for my new history."

5. Profit, better late than never.

#106 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 11:38 AM:

Also, I type too slowly.

#107 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 11:46 AM:

abi (106): Not too slowly, in more detail. Detail is good.

#108 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 01:20 PM:

Is there any hope of seeing the annotated Fire Upon the Deep other than from the Templeton CD-ROM?

#109 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 01:49 PM:

Buddha Buck @ 100: Ebook formats and readers have progressed significantly since then, so I expect the packets of today are much easier to use.

Some of the publishers only provide a PDF for the packet. If I was cynical, I'd think that they were providing that less-convenient format to encourage people to buy the content. I love the reading packet for the shorter works—there's no way I'd hunt down all those magazine—but I do get the novels on my own. I'll also to see if the short fiction is sold individually. Sometimes it is, and at $1.99 or $2.99, I'm happy to pay have have some money go to the writer.

#110 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 02:03 PM:

Jo Walton @99, <blink> You know, it never even occurred to me that the writers got nothing from the Hugo Packet.

That's a hell of a blind spot for me to suddenly realize I have. Thanks for pointing it out. I guess I thought on some level that something was passed on from the WorldCon to the authors, but (my bad) I never actually thought it through.

#111 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 02:13 PM:

Jo Walton@99: Totally agree with your 2; someone else made a similar proposal at Tor.com and I supported it. I would be very pleased to see it come up at the business meeting, which I hope to be at. I do think, though, that there is a difference between works-in-parts and series (though having one award for both might still be the best way of doing things). As I understand it, Earthsea, or Harry Potter, or the Vlad series, whatever, would never have been eligible for Best Novel, because they are series, consisting of individual novels with beginnings, middles and ends. WoT, on the other hand, is a novel - just as Lord of the Rings is - though it just happens to be published in about a million volumes. So it is eligible in this class, even if this is not the most sensible way of handling things. (And since the individual volumes are really not novels, this is the only plausible way of honouring it under current rules.)

#112 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 02:14 PM:

I'd like to riff a bit on the WSFS voting process, which had some brief discussion upthread. One argument that I hear being made a lot is that "we have a process that's as easy as we can make it for people to participate in," with a usually-unspoken corollary that those who don't participate just don't care enough to do so.

If everyone who wanted to vote on the Hugos had to be physically present at the con, in one room at one time, long enough to fill out their ballot and file past a table to hand it in, do you think you'd get as many as 2,000 people voting? I don't. The reason you get that many votes is that people can vote at any time after the finalists have been announced; those with supporting memberships, or who want to vote early, can vote online (and used to get a ballot mailed to them IIRC); those who haven't voted by the time they get to the con can do so at any time up to the cutoff point.

The way to get more people voting on WSFS business isn't to shame and scold those who find the process cumbersome and inconvenient for "not caring enough", it's to make the process more convenient for more people.

This is analogous to conversations we've had about encouraging people to ride bicycles and/or use public transportation; as long as the perceived cost/benefit ratio for using a car is higher than the one for not using a car, most people will use cars, and trying to shame them as being "insufficiently committed" will fail.

I do understand the argument that changing the way it works will require amending the current procedure, and the chicken-and-egg nature of that process. But I also think that sword cuts both ways, and that it's not unreasonable to say that the people who regularly attend the WSFS meetings are more interested in telling everyone else how easy they've made the procedure (for those who REALLY want to participate) than in actually making it easier to participate. And while this is not the same thing as a deliberate cabal of exclusion, it does rather tend to produce the same effect.

#113 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 02:27 PM:

Responding to Elise, #83:

Please examine this. Messenger has been orbiting Mercury for three years. Venus Express has been orbiting Venus for eight years. There are three spacecraft in Mars orbit and two roaming its surface. One more is on the way. Soon Rosetta will attempt a landing on a comet nucleus. Dawn has left Vesta orbit and next year will settle down to study Ceres. The same year, Pluto gets a flyby from New Horizons, which will go on to target another Kuiper Belt object. Cassini has been orbiting Saturn for ten years. A couple of weeks ago, we learned that Cassini's scientific team may have determined the location and size of a hot ocean beneath the ice of Enceladus. The Moon is circled by three spacecraft and a lander is operating on its surface.

Six people are working aboard the International Space Station. A fresh Dragon, filled with cargo, just docked there. Last year an astronaut with a guitar performed a science fiction song aboard ISS; it was a huge Youtube hit, but did not make the Hugo ballot. (Next time, he should sing about Doctor Who.)

Isn't Gravity set in the alternate history where we continue to have a space program?

I don't know how big "we" is, nor am I certain how "space program" is defined. But this feels unnecessarily snide to me.

#114 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 02:31 PM:

I would like to mildly object that no one here has ever shamed anyone for not cycling because they're not committed enough, or indeed, for any other reason.

Please link to the point where it happened if I missed it.

#115 ::: Kevin Standlee ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 02:45 PM:

Jo @99: This is one of the reasons I try to repeat as often as I can that the Hugo Voter Packet is not guaranteed and that it is completely up to the generosity of the rights holders for it to happen.

#116 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 02:50 PM:

abi, #114: Sorry, that was insufficiently clear. That was somebody talking about a comment which had been made to them by someone else in their circle of acquaintance, for being unwilling to ride under conditions they perceived as being physically dangerous. No, it was certainly not anyone here -- but the fact that the comment was made at all stuck in my mind.

#117 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 03:07 PM:

Bill Higgins - Beam Jockey @113 A fresh Dragon, filled with cargo, just docked there.

Wait, was this an alternate history or a fantasy?

#118 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 03:19 PM:

Nancy #108:

I doubt it, though it would be nice. I suspect it was included as part of a special arrangement between Brad Templeton, Vernor Vinge, and his publisher. The "annotated" form was internal work-product of Vinge and (possibly) his editor.

I guess the person to speak to about it would be Messrs Templeton and Vinge, both of whom are online, I believe.

janetl #109: They may be inconvenient, but they are not proprietary (.mobi may be an exception). If I were to find my Hugo-Nebula CD-ROM packet, I'd also have to dig up a machine running Windows 3.1 so I could run the ereaders that can read the files. Compared to that, even PDF lives up to the name Portable Document Format. Sure, I can't read it easily on my 5" phone, but I can read it on my home Linux box, my work Win7 box, or my friend's 10" tablet.

#120 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 03:26 PM:

Neil W #117:

Neither, it's this world now. SpaceX's cargo module designed to dock with the ISS is called a Dragon module, in much the same way that the Soviet cargo modules are called Solyut modules.

Just a few days ago a SpaceX Falcon 9 launched a Dragon module filled with supplies to the ISS. The secondary mission was to have the first-stage Falcon 9 rocket turn around and fly back to have a controlled, steered, splashdown. Both missions were very successful.

The secondary mission was a test on a development program intended to have the first-stages fly back to the launch site and land, ready to be refurbished and relaunched. Do a youtube search for SpaceX Grasshopper for some amazing rocket videos.

#121 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 03:31 PM:

Yep! I admit I had forgotten that is what they were calling them and did a double take when I first read Bill Higgins description.

#122 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 03:39 PM:

Xopher, #94: Just to be clear, lots of people on Making Light discussed the 2012 Worldcon, and you had a very low opinion of it for various reasons. Without wanting to disrespect your opinion, I'd like to note that it was your opinion, not the consensus of ML.

Dave Bell, #98: I'm well aware of Brad Templeton's 1993 CD-ROM; I helped clear the rights for the couple of the novels that were included. I still have my copy, somewhere in my office at Tor.

Jo Walton, #99: I've written and spoken in a bunch of places about the startling speed with which the free fiction (and other creative work) included in the Hugo-voter e-packet went from being something generously proffered by the creators to being something that Hugo-award organizers pretty much demand from the nominees, as if it were an ancient entitlement. A lot of that has to do with the thumpingly clumsy letters sent to finalists over the last few years -- I recall that you and I compared notes on this, and agreed that some of those communiques left a lot to be desired. For what it's worth, Ben Yalow asked me to draft better language for LonCon to consider using, which I said I'd do and then never got around to, which is my fault. But Vince Docherty showed me the language they did come up with, and it's a huge improvement over other recent Worldcons. (Credit, I gather, to Claire Brialey.)

The main problem with an honorarium is that it opens up all kinds of legal cans of worms, since most of the nominees are works that have been licensed on an exclusive basis to some entity or other. Much easier to say "Please get your publisher to let our voters see it for free" than to bring money into the equation and thus cause people to start worrying about whether this is a sub-license, the proceeds of which will need to be split somehow, argh fret et cetera. I do agree with you that there should be some kind of recognition or thank-you aside from a hearty clap on the back. Perhaps the Worldcon should offer, as an honorarium, to donate $100 to the charity of the nominee's choice.

#123 ::: Beth Friedman ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 03:47 PM:

On the short story category: Given that it has been two years in a row that the 5% rule has been invoked, would there be any feasible way to go to a two-tier process analogous to the Nebulas' long list/short list process?

I personally would love to have a list of (say) 20 stories to read and vote on. Even if I had to hunt them down myself -- but the next obvious thing would be an e-book anthology of nominees, to be sold at some reasonable price, where the authors did get royalties.

#124 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 04:24 PM:

Beth #123:

I've mentioned it elseweb that with the field as it is (diverse, with many good potential nominees especially in the short story category), it's an issue that won't fix itself.

I agree that we should try to aim for 5 nominees in the final ballot; this is the second year we've had fewer because of the 5% rule.

Last year's stats (pdf) show that we'd have had eight nominees in the final ballot (instead of four) had the 5% rule not been in play. I think four is a disservice to the award, especially as it is not uncommon for a nominee that got relatively fewer nominations to end up the eventual winner. But I don't think too many in the final ballot is good either.

Time to re-assess this rule in light of the current state of the field?

#125 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 04:50 PM:

Patrick 122: Indeed. The point was, the 2012 WorldCon has been discussed extensively here, so rehashing all that (including the disagreements about it) is not useful. *I* thought it was a pretty bad WorldCon. Others did not.

#126 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 05:00 PM:

Lee @ 112: Correcting to be polite: The deadline for Hugo voting tends to be in July; the site selection vote can still be cast at the con until the cutoff.

#127 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 05:26 PM:

Patrick, do you know if publishers who provide their Hugo nominee works in PDF format would be willing to format it for roughly paperback-sized players (e.g. Kindle) instead of the roughly-hardback-sized formats that have been used for previous Hugos? It took me a lot longer to read the large-format versions, even on a 10" tablet, and for me it interferes with the reading experience, whereas with the .mobi formats I was able to read in portrait mode with a font size I could actually see, though the line breaks were sometimes flaky.

#128 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 06:03 PM:

I'm a bit disappointed that in a year generally regarded as a high point in indie SF cinema--Upstream Color, Europa Report, Computer Chess, Her--every Long Dramatic nomination is a Hollywood tentpole film. Not having seen most films in either bucket, I can't say for sure that it's an undeserving slate, and of course I don't expect everyone to share my tastes anyway. But it seems monoculturish.

I'm particularly disappointed that Primer's growing popularity among fans didn't translate into any love for Upstream Color, which is as high in my personal pantheon as any film I've only seen once can be.

#129 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 06:10 PM:

Xopher @ 125... On the plus side of 2012's worldcon, I met you again. I met quite a few ML folks for the first time. And I was partly involved in the Hugo Ceremony that changed the way things are done - one host for all awards, and the Hugos on display in the center of the stage.

#130 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 06:25 PM:

Xopher: I think the 2012 Worldcon was the Best Worldcon Ever. Just so you know.

Patrick -- giving a donation to charity would be some acknowledgement. And I do see that it is complicated. Actually there are various potential things that a Worldcon could reasonably give the nominees that wouldn't run into the rights problem -- like a free membership, or a hotel room, or even a meal. Something! I'm really glad the language has been improved.

In addition to an award for completed series (which would also have the advantage of encouraging writers to complete series) I think there should be an award for MilSF. I don't think it should be a Hugo, I think it should be a separate thing like the Sidewise or the Prometheus, given at Worldcon, and I think it ought to be a small marble triumphal arch, inscribed with the title and author of the winner. It seems really odd that we don't have an award like this. Hey, maybe it could be in memory of Jim Baen!

#131 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 06:46 PM:

Serge 129: A bad WorldCon is still pretty good in some ways. I mean, hello. It's WorldCon. At its worst it beats a poke in the eye with a sharp stick most other ways to spend a weekend. I got to walk around Chicago with Scalzi, and some other very good things happened.

Jo 130: OK. I disagree on certain topics with lots of people I greatly respect and admire, and whose work I find life-changing. I'm not surprised.

Everyone: This is the last comment from me about Chicon, at least in this context. I really don't want to do this. Dance around me chanting "We loved Chicon" if you insist.

#132 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 07:45 PM:

D. Potter, #126: Thank you, I was indeed conflating the two. And I should have known better, because a moment's thought would have indicated that some lead time is necessary to prepare the Hugo trophies themselves.

I don't think the correction invalidates my argument, though.

#133 ::: Naomi Kritzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2014, 11:59 PM:

Jo, I love both the idea of Hugo nominees getting a free WorldCon membership, and the idea of a Jim Baen Memorial Award for the year's best Military SF. I'm not 100% sure it should be judged by the WorldCon membership -- I think it should be a juried award, though awarding it at WorldCon might make sense. (Unless there's a con out there with a particular specialization in military SF and/or military people who are SF/F fans.)

Regarding the packet -- I told my Facebook friendslist that they could get a TON of fiction for the bargain price of $40 to LonCon. I mean, my friends in fandom mostly know about this, but I have a lot of friends who are voracious readers and enthusiastic SF/F readers but are not sufficiently plugged into organized fandom that they know much of anything about the Hugos. Several were EXTREMELY excited to find out about this. I did note that this is not a guarantee and it's up to the rights holders, but Tor had already announced they'd include the entire WoT in the packet, so...

I will be sure to nag them to vote in more than one category, when I start nagging them to vote.

#134 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2014, 12:05 AM:

Xopher Halftongue @131: If you think about it, you might find a reason why Jo in particular would be biased about that particular Worldcon. Just saying.

#135 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2014, 01:00 AM:

I know, David. I voted for it in first place. I just decided to leave that on the floor.

#136 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2014, 01:33 AM:

Jo Walton @130 -- as for Worldcons giving Hugo nominees a meal, there are actually two Large Events which include food which are just for nominees (and designated receivers, plus their guests): the Pre-Hugo reception, paid for by the current Worldcon, and the Hugo Losers' Nominees' Party, paid for by the next year's Worldcon. Both have a fair amount of food available, IME (I don't get to many of either, but I have had reason to be at a few).

The Pre-Hugo Reception includes food so that the nominees won't have to go out and get dinner and be potentially late to the ceremony -- Kevin Standlee can comment much more on how well it works to get the nominees all in one place and to enter the ceremony together! And the Hugo Losers' Nominees' Party usually includes a small keepsake for each of the nominees -- when ConJose did the party in Philadelphia2001, we gave the nominees a small clipboard made from circuit boards.

So, there already are small tokens of appreciation. They're a little crowded, and look as if they may be more general than just the nominees, but there's some attempt to make them pretty exclusive. In Philadelphia, my door guards (TNH and Bruce Pelz) even managed to keep the convention chair from crashing the Nominee party. Which is one of my favorite memories of MilPhil....

#137 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2014, 03:37 AM:

Looking at what Baen published while under Jim Baen's control, it seems a little unjust to limit a memorial award to MilSF.

#138 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2014, 03:47 AM:

I propose that the military science fiction award, whoever it’s formally named after, by known informally as the “Splodie”.

#139 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2014, 04:59 AM:

Naomi Kritzer at #133 writes:Tor had already announced they'd include the entire WoT in the packet

This news would lower rather than raise my expectations for the quality of the rest of the material in the packet.

#140 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2014, 07:12 AM:

Avram @138

It should, of course, be the whizzbang.

What gets me about the MilSF of today is that the people who write it seem so distant from my Grandfather, who went Over the Hills and Far Away a century ago.

And Jim Baen deserves something better to remember him by.

#141 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2014, 07:30 AM:

Bill Stewart, #127: "Patrick, do you know if publishers who provide their Hugo nominee works in PDF format would be willing to format it for roughly paperback-sized players (e.g. Kindle) instead of the roughly-hardback-sized formats that have been used for previous Hugos?"

I don't know, because we're not one of those publishers. When we turn over something for inclusion in the Hugo packet, we provide the work in ePub, MOBI, and PDF form, in order to maximize the chance that individual voters can comfortably read it with whatever software and device they have to hand. I agree that it's annoying (and eyestrain-inducing) to try to read type formatted for a large-format hardcover on a small tablet. I have no idea what's going through the heads of publishers who do this.

#142 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2014, 07:36 AM:

Niall McAuley, can you explain? I'm honestly not following that one.

#143 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2014, 08:28 AM:

Avram @ 138... Ever read the "Lost Fleet" series by Jack Campbell - aka Johm Hemry? Lots of space battles, but the main character eventually brought down the opponents's oppressive society by showing mercy. And he once made allies out of aliens who look like a cross between a spider and a wolf, by giving them the secret of duct tape.

#144 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2014, 08:37 AM:

Patrick: If I was someone who knew little or nothing about the Hugos, telling me that I could get lots of SF including the complete WoT for the price of a supporting membership would not enthuse me. I read a few volumes of the WoT when it started its long, slow roll, and I'd pay $40 to avoid having to repeat the experience.

I do realize that most of the nominated work will be much better (with the other obvious exceptions noted upthread), but that's because I already know a bit about the Hugos.

#145 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2014, 08:55 AM:

So, Niall, it's your view that by being willing to give Hugo voters the full e-text of one of our nominees, as we've done with all our Hugo Best Novel nominees since the voter packets began in 2006, we've damaged the attractiveness and value of the voter packet to some of the people who are just now hearing about it for the first time.

Thanks for your input. I'll file that under "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished"; also, "Some People Will Complain About Anything."

#146 ::: Geri Sullivan ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2014, 09:07 AM:

Tom @ 136: "when ConJose did the party in Philadelphia2001, we gave the nominees a small clipboard made from circuit boards."

...with custom-printed notepads congratulating the Hugo and Retro Hugo nominees. After LeeH died, Joe Siclari helped a bit with sorting through her things. He brought back the clipboard and notepad we'd sent her as a 1951 Retro Hugo nominee and gave it to me.

#147 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2014, 09:41 AM:

Tom -- Worldcons did those things for the nominees before they started the voter packets. And it's very nice of them. But they've always done them. It's great, but it's not an acknowledgement that the nominees are actually giving away something of potential value now! What I'd really like is for them to be paid something for it. But if they're going to be given something in exchange because giving them money is too complicated, it should at least be something extra! Geri's talking about the terrific ConJose notebook thingy which I treasure and which I can see from where I'm sitting -- in 2001, before the Hugo Packet even existed. Things have changed, and what I'm saying is that the readers and the Worldcons and the Hugos are benefitting from that change, and the nominees are not. Being told they still get snacks and party favours really doesn't help here!

(Also, there's never actually enough food at the reception for it to be instead of dinner, and in Chicago there was nothing I could eat. Just whining here, because who could swallow just before an award ceremony anyway?)

#148 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2014, 09:58 AM:

I think the packet is a great thing for people who want a supporting membership so as to vote in the Hugos, and that including the entire WoT is a great thing to do for your target audience of Hugo voters.

I am specifically talking about Naomi's post, where she recommended the packet to her Facebook friends as a way to get lots of SF for $40. If nobody mentioned Hugos or Worldcons, and just said "Wanna buy some SF ebooks for $40? Includes the whole Wheel of Time!" I would politely decline.

#149 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2014, 10:14 AM:

I think it depends on the pitch. I know when I'm pitching the "get lots of great SF for $40" I'm also including in the pitch "get to vote on the Hugo's this year, nominate for next year", and also state they are getting a supporting membership in WorldCon, not just lots of great SF. I don't mention WoT until *after* mentioning that it's normally 5 novels, 5 novelettes, 5 novellas, 5 short stories, etc (rights permitting), but *this year* one of the "novels" is the whole WoT series.

I just made such a pitch to my own mother (who, in my childhood introduced me to the concept of "I'm not a fan, I just read the stuff").

#150 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2014, 02:33 PM:

Lee @ 132: "I don't think the correction invalidates my argument, though."

Wasn't meant to.

#151 ::: Steve with a book ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2014, 03:58 PM:

Tim Walters@128: I saw Computer Chess and really enjoyed it without thinking of it as SF. But yes, it would definitely be nice if that sort of film got a look-in at the Hugos.

(Agonizing over the definition of SF does often have the nice outcome of showing you the location of fuzzy border territories where lots of great difficult-to-classify stuff is happening.)

#152 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2014, 04:37 PM:

Niall McAuley @148: in this particular instance, you've missed the 'politely' part of declining.

#153 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2014, 07:47 PM:

Jo @147: Both the Hugo Packet and the things I was talking about are things that have evolved within my memory; they're both going to evolve in the future. The people who run Worldcons actually do care a lot about the Hugos, and the Hugo nominees; and it seems to me that the fact that they've done lots of Cool Stuff for the nominees might have been less than obvious to someone who just read your earlier comment. It's a balancing act; and I'm not sure just where the balance is, right now.

But saying the Worldcon ought to do "something ... even a meal" implies that they aren't doing anything. They are. It's not directly connected to the Hugo Packet, predating it by a batch of years -- but it's still something.

#154 ::: Michael Walsh ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2014, 09:38 PM:

"... even a meal"

Sort like a .... banquet?

Word of advice, don't give the banquet folks crab mallets.

#155 ::: Rabbit Hunter ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2014, 09:45 PM:

Vox Day is the best Hugo Nominee!

#156 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2014, 09:48 PM:

LOL Piñata at 155!

#157 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2014, 10:07 PM:

Sssh! Be vewwy quiet!

#158 ::: Rabbit Hunter ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2014, 10:15 PM:

Vx Dy bts th sht t f ll f ths pnk shrtd pjm bys nd "wmn" wh wrt crppy "rmnc nvls n spc".

#159 ::: Rabbit Hunter ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2014, 10:17 PM:

http://voxday.blogspot.com/2014/04/a-vile-taste-in-her-mouth.html?m=1

#160 ::: jonesnori/Lenore Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2014, 10:30 PM:

I wonder what trolls get out of trolling? Do you think they sit back delightedly waiting for fireworks? So silly.

(Darn it, where is my popcorn?)

#161 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2014, 10:36 PM:

*sniff* Does anyone else smell dirty feet around here?

#162 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2014, 10:40 PM:

Seems silly to declare which Hugo Nominee is the best, when they range over several different disciplines. A novel compared to a short story compared to a movie? Three different things which should be judged on their own merits and not against each other. Besides, how can I know which is the best until I get the Hugo Packet and can read all the nominees for myself? (My "best" will not necessarily be the same as anyone else's "best", and that's as it should be. How boring this world would be if we all liked the same thing.)

Lenore Jones @160, I have a nice big bowl of cheddar popcorn right here, and am happy to share... <munch>

#163 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2014, 10:50 PM:

Damn. Now I want popcorn.

I think I hear the disemvoweller warming up.

#164 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2014, 11:14 PM:

I believe someone has been relieved of their vowels.

#165 ::: Rabbit Hunter, drooling vapidly through his Xopher Halftongue mask ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 12:16 AM:

On the other hand. Rabbit Hunter might have a point. Some of Vox Day's books are actually pretty good.

[Nym fixed. —Idumea Arbacoochee, Bored of Idiots]

#166 ::: Rabbit Hunter, doing a lamentable imitation of Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 12:19 AM:

@Xopher Halftongue

Yeah, I have my differences with Vox Day. But I agree, some of his works are pretty good.

[Nym fixed. —Idumea Arbacoochee, Bored of Idiots]

#167 ::: Rabbit Hunter ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 12:24 AM:

Xopher Halftongue said: On the other hand. Rabbit Hunter might have a point. Some of Vox Day's books are actually pretty good.

See! Even you lftst pjm bys nd "wmn" must admit, Vox Day is an awesome writer who should get a Hugo for his story.

#168 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 12:25 AM:

Whoever posted 165 and 166 clearly doesn't get how "View all by" works, or how unfortunate it is to attempt that badly to spoof real people.

#169 ::: Rabbit Hunter, wishing he could be mistaken for Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 12:30 AM:

But then again, I agree that Vox Day should win a Hugo.

[Nym fixed. —Idumea Arbacoochee, Bored of Idiots]

#170 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 12:41 AM:

I think even Vox Day would be ashamed of the poor showing his supposed fan is making here. Sockpuppetry is nowhere a respectable way to prove you have either a valid point, or any sense of maturity.

Consider the words "You can judge a man by the company he keeps". If this is the quality of Vox Day's company, and he doesn't disavow you, what little respectability he might have in any quarter has spiralled down the drain.

Or, TL:DR: You're not helping your hero.

#171 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 12:48 AM:

Patrick Nielsen Hayden @145: I haven't taken the time to say this, and probably I should have: I think that including the entire Wheel of Time series in the voter packet is an incredible act of generosity, and I praise Tor for making that decision.

#172 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 01:36 AM:

Feh. Having differences with Vox Day would assume that I had any commonalities with him. Let me make this abundantly clear: Vox Day is a loathsome, hateful abomination of a human being who delights in causing other people pain.

I would no more suggest that his work deserves a Hugo than I would suggest that a chicken should be awarded a PhD.

#173 ::: Some idiot or other who thinks he can pretend to be Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 01:49 AM:

But on the other hand, Vox's stories are insightful and full of truth.

[Nym fixed. —Idumea Arbacoochee, Wielder of Flamethrower]

#174 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 02:01 AM:

Haven't you learned not to follow rabbits into their burrows? It's not quite as bad an idea as trying to bite a wombat's arse, but it's up there.

#175 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 02:47 AM:

Well, if I'd seen postings with my nym I might have been upset, but they were fixed before I got back, so I'm not. Thank you, Idumea.

As for Vox Day, I propose that the gang of idiots who do the bidding of that racist, sexist, homophobic dipshit be henceforth called "snotlings" (I got this from a card/board game I played years ago). They're not even up to the level of trolls. They're just little runny noses with legs, and they can be annoying to clean up after, but not seriously damaging, because they're so pathetic. Rabbit Hunter is a case in point.

#176 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Wielder of Flamethrowers ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 02:54 AM:

Please be patient and continue the adult conversation if any more of the Doppelgang appear. A mod will be along presently to tidy up the rattles and teething rings.

And Daylings? You're not helping your boy's attempt to sit at the Grownups' Table.

#177 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 03:32 AM:

I was looking for an excuse to call Rabbit Hunter “hrakaroo”, but that might be too obscure for some.

#178 ::: Antonia T Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 03:50 AM:

I find myself pleasurably anticipating the "I can write better than that" reaction to reading a 2014 Hugo nominee's work.

I already have experienced that sensation with the Retro Hugos.

Mischievously, I made a slightly silly nomination for the Best Related Work Retro Hugo. The Suoermarine Spitfire entered service with the RAF in 1938. The nomination didn't get anywhere.

#179 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 03:51 AM:

Avram @177:

I like that. I don't think it's too obscure; many of us recognize Lapine.

#180 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 07:59 AM:

We're definitely dealing with u embleer hrair here. They can silflay hraka - and do, every time they read VD's garbage.

#181 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 08:16 AM:

Regarding this VD that people speak of...
The proper name is 'social disease', is it not?
:-)

#182 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 08:40 AM:

This is the 21st Century. We should call him Sic Tyro Dixit now.

#183 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 09:07 AM:

Xopher: Eia! Io!

#184 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 09:10 AM:

I'm thinking of calling them Daysies, thinking of the way my boss used to use, "it takes all kinds of flowers to make up the garden" as code for "OK, and now I am going to back away from this person."

#185 ::: No Man's Land ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 09:27 AM:

"I propose that the gang of idiots who do the bidding of that racist, sexist, homophobic dipshit be henceforth called "snotlings".

Basically, the process here is dubious at best. Exactly why conservatives and liberals are universally reviled by moderates such as myself when they each vociferously conspire against their ideological components, rather than set aside their prejudices and honestly judge a work on their merits. I may intensely disagree with Vox Day's positions on a number of issues, but he is a superior author and is well-deserving of the accolades he receives...as a writer. That is the ONLY objective standard, NOT his political or social philosophies.

#186 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 09:32 AM:

Oh, I needed that belly laugh this morning!

#187 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 09:35 AM:

Oh, look, another hrakaroo. Sockpuppet or fresh Daysie? ::yawn::

#188 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 09:36 AM:

Coming soon, "I Was Reviled by a Moderate!!!"

#189 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 09:44 AM:

No Man's Land @185:

If you are a read-the-work-in-isolation type, you go, girl! But not everyone is, and there is no one true way to approach literature. There are people who cannot escape their knowledge of the wider context of the composition of a given story, and find that it affects their reading. If your view of the spectrum of human experience is too narrow for that, that's a kind of poverty on your part, and I pity you for it.

Me, I've read enough of Day's work to know that I find it less "superior" than mind-wateringly terrible. It's fractally poor, from large structure down to sentence composition. Given that, and given the proportion of people who agree with me, I suspect that he does not deserve the Hugo, even leaving aside the variations in people's approaches to literature.

Wasn't he supposed to have revolutionized all of our reading and game-playing experiences last autumn? I have some memory that the revolution was coming, but somehow, I remain unrevolved.

Ah, well.

#190 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 09:47 AM:

Peripherally, you can tell who's been sent here rather than coming organically when they're addressing an assertion that was made on a completely different thread.

#191 ::: The Alt ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 11:06 AM:

After reading most of the comments, I propose an alternative:

We could all start by admitting that the Hugos are, and have always been, a bit of a popularity contest.

Say what you will bt Vx Dy r Lrry Crr, bt thy r prtty pplr, prtclrly Crr. t's nt s f thr thrs hvn't lvrgd thr fnbss bfr...Rdshrts wn lst yr fr Gd's sk.

knw t's gng t b hrd fr sm f y, bt ftr cmng t grps wth tht hrsh rlty, w cld jst vd pltczng ths whl thng ltgthr. Thn w cld d r bst t rd ll th wrks rltvly fr f bs, jdgng thm n thr wn mrt n mttr th wrtr.

f y dn't lk th nmntd wrks fr Crr r Dy, thn dslk thm n th mrt f th wrk tslf, nt yr prsnl flngs bt th thr. lt f grt SF/F hs bn wrttn by flks fnd rprhnsbl, bt sll hv t dmt tht gd pc f wrtng s gd pc f wrtng.

knw ths s rvltnry d, bt t jst mght wrk.

#192 ::: J Greely ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 11:06 AM:

Buddha Buck #118

The good news about the 1993 Hugo CD is that Brad Templeton thought ahead. In addition to the obsolete binaries, all the books and stories are available in RTF and plain text with some embedded formatting (mostly the old backspace-based underlining and boldfacing). I just pulled out my copy (which was still readable on one of three laptops) and confirmed.

The artwork is all GIF and JPG, and he even included the source code for tools to read all of the formats, just in case. The only content that's hard to view these days are the short, low-resolution video introductions from some of the nominees, and that's just because Apple removed the codecs from Quicktime; they still work in VLC.

-j

#193 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 11:06 AM:

For me, the work and its author are only partially separable; the work informs my opinion of the author and vice versa.

This is also why arguments of the "if you boycott authors you don't like personally, you end up missing a lot of good books" variety don't work for me. First, there are already more good books in the world than I'm ever going to have time to read; why should I waste my time on reading books by an author I dislike when I could be reading something else instead? Second... IME, if an author has done something questionable enough to get onto my "don't bother" list, the books themselves tend to be second-rate at best.

#194 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 11:12 AM:

What Lee said.

#195 ::: The Alt ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 11:19 AM:

@LEE

The fact that Roman Polanski is a weird scumbag who likes to take advantage of underage girls doesn't change the fact that Chinatown is a great film.

It can be hard to separate art from artist and we can choose not to support those artists with our dollars, but this is awards voting and we should try to be as unbiased as possible.

#196 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 11:24 AM:

The Alt @191:

Brave pronouncements by new commenters who still haven't figured out which thread actually discusses the issue aside, the "harsh reality" is actually that Day's work is just not that popular. He can't even get a big five publisher, which rather limits his availability.

Is Correia's "popular"? I don't know; he certainly hasn't made my radar before. I don't see him on the shelves of the bookstores I visit, and he's not much discussed in the circles I run in. I suspect that someone is living in a bubble, and I'd submit that the regulars of this blog, which is rather well-connected to the industry, are not it.

As for Redshirts, sorry you didn't like it. It did make the New York Times bestseller list, which rather argues against its win being purely the product of a narrow set of fans.

But what I would say again is, not all people read books in the same way. You read them in isolation from the wider context, and that works for you. Go you. But not everyone does, and that is completely OK. Neither you nor anyone else gets to dictate how other people consume and evaluate literature.

Sorry 'bout that.

#197 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 11:24 AM:

Go away, you condescending person.

#198 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 11:32 AM:

(My apologies, abi, for usurping a moderator's prerogatives.)

#199 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 11:34 AM:

I am sure that The Alt will read your comment on its own merits, entirely apart from any contextual bias.

#200 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 11:40 AM:

<offering Serge Broom and Abi popcorn> I have buttered popcorn and cheddar popcorn. Caramel makes my fingers too sticky to type... <munch munch>

#201 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 11:49 AM:

Thanks, Cassy. Buttered is lovely.

Tell you one thing. The next person who comes in suggesting that their personal way of approaching literature is (a) brave, (b) revolutionary, or (c) normative had best demonstrate that they've read the thread, including previous reactions to that assertion. They're allowed to read with or without wider context (though I submit that their style of engagement is, ironically, heavily context-driven; they're not taking this discussion "purely on its merits" at all).

But if they want to be taken seriously with this position, I expect them to show it by doing the reading.

#202 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 11:56 AM:

Abi @201, I find it amusing that someone will simultaneously say "vote for this candidate!" and "take it on its own merits". When a person tells me to vote for something without actually reading the competition, that person i NOT telling me to take it on its own merits; rather, I'm being instructed to privilege his/her opinion over any opinion I may form...

Cognititive dissonance much?

The really ironic thing was, as I'm not particularly familiar with the author or his behavior, I was perfectly prepared to take the novella in question on its own merits, until a certain Rabbit poisoned me against it by his/her behavior in this thread... If jackasses (or jackrabbits, as the case may be) are for it, it makes me much more likely to be against it. Just sayin'.

#203 ::: AnonymousBot ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 11:59 AM:

What's the big deal about Vox Day being on the Hugo Nominee list? A bunch of puritans getting their panties twisted over nothing.

#204 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 12:01 PM:

Daysy, Daysy, give me your answer, do...

#205 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 12:02 PM:

abi 196: I initially read "consume and evacuate literature," which probably has most to do with what I think of STD's...work. Yes, let's just say work.

Discussions of the interesting definition of 'literature' entailed by this are left to the reader as an exercise.

#206 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 12:07 PM:

The Daysy sockpuppets really ARE shooting themselves... or Day...in the foot. I'm a Hugo voter. I'm sure there are several others in this thread; this forum is largely inhabited by strongly-motivated SF readers. The behavior of the sock puppets, attempting to impersonate other long-time posters, has certainly not inclined me favorably toward Day.

There aren't so many Hugo voters out there that it makes sense to alienate even one voter. Much less dozens.

Note to Anonymous Bot, and any other Day supporter(s): it WASN'T a big deal. Until "Rabbit Hunter" made it one. Way to poison the well, guys...

#207 ::: AnonymousBot ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 12:12 PM:

He can't even get a big five publisher, which rather limits his availability. Is Correia's "popular"? I don't know; he certainly hasn't made my radar before. I don't see him on the shelves of the bookstores I visit,

Looks like somebody's not living in the Twenty-First Century...

#208 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 12:16 PM:

Vanity and self publishing were going (and I use that term advisedly) concerns well before the 21st century, ABot, and most people still do their book shopping in, you know, actual bookstores.

Also, protip: It's a bad idea to insult the people whose opinions you are trying to change in your favor.

#209 ::: AnomymousBot ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 12:18 PM:

Looks like Carrie S. isn't paying attention to the stock market. Compare profit making Amazon to any money losing corner book store.

#210 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 12:22 PM:

You may be overestimating the Brave New Century there, particularly the reach of smaller and e-only presses. The brutal reality is that, outliers like Wool notwithstanding, the big publishers are big because they consistently, reliably get books in front of readers in exchange for money.

#211 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 12:27 PM:

Looks like Carrie S. isn't paying attention to the stock market.

Why on earth would I? I have accountants for that.

#212 ::: AnonymousBot ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 12:28 PM:

the big publishers are big because they consistently, reliably get books in front of readers in exchange for money.

No they're not. They are in decline. Warning to all lurkers here, do not take financial and investment advice from abi and carrie s....

#213 ::: AnonymousBot ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 12:30 PM:

Carrie says concerning the stock market:

Why on earth would I? I have accountants for that.

Bwa ha ha!

#214 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 12:30 PM:

You...do know where you are, don't you? (Clearly not.)

#215 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 12:33 PM:

Correia, to be fair (And it seems amusing to have to say before I press on that no, I am not a sockpuppet shilling for him) Seems to be fairly well published and with an actual fan base.

They look like the sorts of books I'd pass by in a glance in bookstores, as they have very much the Not My Thing vibe - a certain kind of classic Baen cover with weird font choices and meh artwork, of which you mostly likely know what I mean.

The sort of book covers and styles that are part of the reason it took me what feels like several hundred recs to get around to Lois McMaster Bujold.

So no idea if they were there in bookstores, but he and his rep seem real enough.

(Nothing in the plot descriptions or Amazon reviews I skimmed alters my perception that these books are Not My Thing. If I were planning to vote in the Hugos, and I'm debating, I *would* give it a fair shot, if only because Correia, despite the teinture of the company he keeps and the politics he espouses, has not outright alienated me. {And I'm in a privileged enough position that the thought of doing so doesn't hurt me as it does others.} But I wouldn't go out and buy one, or get it from the library.)

Day's literary reputation, on the other hand, is as real as the Daysies' sockpuppetry.

#216 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 12:35 PM:

AnonymousBot @212, yup, you're quite some salesman. Insulting longtime valued members of a community is a sure-fire way to sway people in that community to your point of view.

Really, I'd never heard of Vox Day before, but if this is typical behavior for his supporters, I'm becoming less and less inclined to even read his work when I get my Hugo packet. Pity, that; there are only a few thousand Hugo voters and you've singlehandedly managed to sway at least one against your hero. Congratuations.

#217 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 12:39 PM:

do not take financial and investment advice from abi and carrie s....

I am mildly becroggled that you think I'm offering investment advice. Like I said, I have accountants for that kind of thing. All I'm saying is, most people buy their books in bookstores.

Though it's nice that the concept of the e-reader is no longer a niche tech gadget that only the hardcore techies use--my grandmother didn't have to ask me what I meant when I said I got a Kindle for Christmas. A friend of mine said she didn't want a gadget that only did one thing, and I replied yes, but the one thing it does is keep me from having a thousand paperbacks in my house! It's great for having copies of all those series I loved when I was a teenager, without having to have the physical books.

Funny, though, how even the e-books tend to be better, in layout and copyediting, when they come from one of the major publishing houses...

#218 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 12:40 PM:

I just find it funny that AnonymousBot has decided to come here of all places to pontificate about the current state of the publishing industry. Given the catastrophic failure of research and awareness that that reveals, I'm not surprised that he is also a member of the INDIE PUBLISHING RULEZ TEH DINOSAURZ cult.

#219 ::: The Alt ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 01:01 PM:

abi @191:

Mckry sd, rdng cmprhnsn cn b fnny thng. nvr dcttd nythng t nyn rgrdng hw thy shld cnsm ltrtr, mrly sggstd n ltrntv t n dlgcl pprch. ls xhbtd nthr brvry nr fx brvry; 'm jst bng rsnbl.

ws ls bng fcts nd td srcstc whn sttd tht my wy f pprchng ltrtr whn vtng t gv t n wrd s “rvltnry”. ssmd ths ws clrly mttr f cmmn sns, bt hw vry ltrlst f y.

Shld w nt try t b s nbsd s pssbl whn vtng t gv n wrd t pc f crtv wrk? Fl fr t mk n rgmnt bt hw sfl tl bs s n wrds vtng, nd wll b hppy t rd t. Bt ntl thn, ths sms t m t b n xcs t dsmss smthng t f hnd.

gn, cn thnk Plnsk s scmbg, bt tht Chntwn s stll bjctvly grt flm. Pls dmnstrt th flr n my lgc hr.

Crr crtnly ds wll n sls whn cmprd t th gnr vrg, nd n th cntxt f SF/F, pplr s rthr nch cnct, s t nt?

Y’r wrtng s f t’s th rly 90s gn nd SF/F bks r stll flyng ff th shlvs. ls, Crr nd Dy bth hv szbl fllwngs n nw md.

Ys Rdshrts dd ht th NYT Bstsllr lst. D y knw wh ls hd bk ht th Nw Yrk Tms Bstsllr lst? Lrry Crr. pprntly thr s lt f bbbl-rsdncy gng n ths dys.

Fr 2012, Rdshrts wsn’t vn n f th Tp Tn sllng SF nvls fr tht yr. gn, pplrty n SF/F s xtrmly rltv.

Th thr prblm wth yr rgmnt s tht y bs t n th fls prms tht thr s crrltn btwn mkng th NYT bstsllr lst nd wnnng Hg, whch w knw sn’t th cs.

ddtnlly, r y tllng m tht th 60,000 r s ppl wh bght Rdshrts n 2012 wr ll lnng p t gt thr Hg bllts t? f crs nt. Mst f thm dn’t jn, dn’t vt, nd dn’t cr.

Y knw wh ds cr? Flks wh g t SF thr’s blgs, flks wh cmmnt n thr pgs…y knw, th ddctd fns. nd s Crr nd Dy hv bth shwn, rltvly lrg nd ddctd fnbs cn hv n ffct n th wrds prcss.

ls, ddn’t stt r mply tht ddn’t lk Rdshrts, thght t ws slghtly bttr thn vrg. t ws clrly drvtv n ts ntnt, bt tht’s ky. Bt Hg fr bst nvl? t ws hrdly Strngr n Strng Lnd.

Whl ’m qt fnd f Lrry Crr’s prtclr brnd f myhm bcs t’s fn, t flws wll, nd s nplgtc, thnk Dy s t bst s-s fctn wrtr wth sm srs prblms whn t cms t sntnc strctr nd nrrtv chsn. H sms t s dsprtly wnt t mk sr hs wrtng cms ff s rdt tht h nglcts ccssblty.
H ls fcss t mch n wrld-bldng nd nt ngh n ctl stry.

Kp n mnd, hvn’t rd hs nmntd stry yt, s prhps wll chng my mnd, bt th pnt s tht nn f tht hs nythng t d wth th thr, bt rthr wth hs wrk nd hs wrk ln.

Bt thn gn, t ch hs wn.

#220 ::: The Alt ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 01:03 PM:

Serge @196:

That’s very warm and welcoming of you; thank you for your open-minded inclusiveness. I think I’ll stick around for a bit just because of you.


#221 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 01:04 PM:

Lenora Rose @215:

I'm entirely willing to believe that Correia sells just fine. My comment was more to refute the notion that he's The Greatest Author Ever, and that people who don't agree are keeping him down or willfully ignoring him or something.

He hasn't appeared on my radar. None of the ways that I become aware of new authors (recommendation by people I trust, exposure in bookstores or other browsing venues, reviews, advertising) have brought him to my attention. It's a data point about whether he's as visible to me as he is to our rather obsessed visitors.

Fandom is big and complicated, and different communities cluster around different areas. It's possible that his inclusion in the Hugo voter packet may introduce him to people who haven't heard of him before, and they may like his work.

Mind you, some of his followers are putting me off. And if the best they can say is that I should ignore the jerks clustered around him, well, have they considered clearing that jerk problem up? Purely as a public service? Rather than bringing it here?

#222 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 01:31 PM:

The Alt @219:

You do seem to spend a lot of time dancing back and forth between whether you should be taken seriously or not. I tend to take phrasings like I know this is a revolutionary idea, but it just might work as either dictation or snark; it's the "it just might work" bit, in case you're wondering. Don't like it? Write differently.

My perspective is that we read for awards the way we read the rest of the time. That's how we end up rewarding the books that other people may also like to read. Some people divorce themselves from the context; others don't. It's a cognitive style thing as much as anything else, and having a mixed population gives a more balanced vote. (It's also the case that some people find the content or context of a book so personally hurtful or insulting that they don't find it worth reading at all.)

You want to privilege one approach to reading over another. I don't. I don't need to defend the validity of every style of reading to you to think you're being narrow-minded. If you're genuinely interested in expositions of the other perspective, try the essays linked here. (Don't then send all your charming friends to harrass the essayists in their comment threads or on Twitter, OK? I shouldn't have to say this, but you're not keeping very good company.)

I'm not going to do dueling sales over Correia and Scalzi, mostly because I really don't care. My point was that both the Hugo and the NYT placement were evidence that people were reading and liking Scalzi's work. So people read and like Correia too. Noted. I still don't overlap with his fandom (and I am increasingly not interested in so doing as this thread progresses; y'all are not coming off at all well.) I'll see what's in the Hugo Voter's Packet, but there's a bad taste in my mouth about him at the moment.

With regard to publishing, "books flying off the shelves", and "new media", frankly, there's a lot of BS about the Death of Traditional Publishing floating around. I don't work in publishing, but the people I know who do tend to laugh and choke on their tea when they read the Publishing Is Dooooomed It's All New Media Now stuff that the SP/Indie evangelists post on their blogs. Again, it's not particularly relevant to the discussion at hand, and I have other things to do rather than go down that rabbit hole. I'll just note that several flavors of it are markers for a bunch of other behaviors I don't willingly spend a lot of time around.

#223 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 01:31 PM:

Abi: Agreed on all fronts. Especially the question of jerkhood.

As I stated above, both authors should explicitly disavow the Daysies as their representatives, because they're hurting, not helping, the cause of "giving our books a fair reading".

#224 ::: Kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 01:41 PM:

#192, J Greely

The good news about the 1993 Hugo CD is that Brad Templeton thought ahead. In addition to the obsolete binaries, all the books and stories are available in RTF and plain text with some embedded formatting (mostly the old backspace-based underlining and boldfacing). I just pulled out my copy (which was still readable on one of three laptops) and confirmed.


The artwork is all GIF and JPG, and he even included the source code for tools to read all of the formats, just in case. The only content that's hard to view these days are the short, low-resolution video introductions from some of the nominees, and that's just because Apple removed the codecs from Quicktime; they still work in VLC.
That's really fantastic, just the kind of practical thinking I would want, but hadn't expected from our SFnal overlords!

#225 ::: Kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 01:43 PM:

Le sigh. The first time I've posted on here in months, and I'm defeated by a formatting error.

#226 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 01:49 PM:

Welcome back, Kimiko, and please don't be discouraged!

#227 ::: The Alt ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 02:00 PM:

Abi @222

Lk t? cld cr lss thr wy; ws jst clrfyng. n cn smltnsly mk slnt pnt nd ngg n bt f knd-sprtd snrk; ths r nt mtlly xclsv. Yr ltrlsm s, s thy sy, “y prblm”.

Yt y spnd yr tm ttmptng t prtct bsd pprch. vn s, y stll hvn’t ddrssd s t hw Rmn Plnsk’s pdrsty mks Chntwn lss f flm.

fnd t ntrstng tht y qt cll fr bjctvty wth nrrw-mnddnss. Ths s vry tllng, ndd.

ddtnlly, “th cmpny kp”? Hw vry dvsv f y. D y thnk tht ’m frnds r vn n cqntnc wth th ppl n ll th blgs r nws sts crss th spctrm mght vst n wk? Why wld y thnk tht cr wht thy d r dn’t d, r snd thm hr r thr? nly dlgs thnk lk ths. gn, vry tllng.

N n ws mkng drct Sclz vs. Crr sls rgmnt. Y sttd Crr wsn’t pplr nd Sclz ws, mnmzng th mpct f ddctd fndm nd ctng th pprnc f Rdshrts n th NYT bstsllr lst n rdr t stblsh ts brdr pplrty. Y ld t ths prmtrs, s nggd y wthn thm.

Y’v gn frm “Crr sn’t pplr” t “’m nt syng h dsn’t sll wll” t “hs fndm dsn’t vrlp wth my fndm.” Fr ngh, bt thnk n lght f ths dmssn w cn sfly rll bck yr ntl bjctn t my sttmnt f hs pplrty.

Dd mk ny f ths “pblshng s dd” rgmnts r r y jst tkng ths mmnt t gt n yr spbx nd rg pnts nvr md?

W wr dscssng pplrty, nd mntnd tht Crr nd Dy r bth rltvly pplr n nw md, whch thy r. f nw md ws nmprtnt, thrs lk Jhn Sclz (whs pprnt pplrty y wr qck t mntn) wldn’t b trmptng thr blg nmbrs ll th tm.

thr wy, t’s clr tht prfr n bjctv pprch whn t cms t hndng t wrds tht r sppsd t rflct th wrk nd th wrk ln, nd y d nt. ’m hppy t gr t dsgr.

n brdr nt, hwvr. t’s hrd nt t rd wht Crr wrt bt ths krfffl n hs blg tdy nd thnk tht h mght b rght.

#228 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 02:28 PM:

Even so, you still haven’t addressed as to how Roman Polanski’s pederasty makes Chinatown less of a film.

Let's get more extreme. Triumph of the Will is a great film. Wertmuller should NOT have won an Oscar for it, regardless of its quality.

But wait, that actually has content that's objectionable. OK: Chinatown is widely regarded as a great film. I've never seen it and I won't, because Polanski is a rapist.

But that's not even the case here. This is like finding out that some asswipe petty crook made a movie of his favorite wank fantasy, and somehow crowbarred it onto the Oscar ballot (the Oscars are less vulnerable to this than the Hugos, but that doesn't matter to my point). We have a) a good reason not to award it, because the creator is a scumbag, AND b) every expectation that the work itself is trash.

You think a) should be ignored. Fine. I disagree. But b) is sufficient by itself, and coupled with a) means I don't even have to bother reading it.

Did you read the articles linked on Scalzi's "rebuttals" post? You need to, if you have any interest in understanding where those of us who don't want to read STD's work are coming from.

#229 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 02:33 PM:

Xopher @ 228: Riefenstahl. Wertmüller is much later.

#230 ::: pendatic Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 02:34 PM:

Alt @ 227... I could care less either way

The proper form is "I could *not* care less either way".

#231 ::: pedantic Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 02:34 PM:

pendatic Serge... It's *pedantic*, you fool.

#232 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 02:40 PM:

Xopher-the-p/e/n/d/a/n/t-pedant, perhaps some of us think you'd make a charming, erm, charm. Albeit perhaps a trifle large for a standard necklace or bracelet... <grin>

#233 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 02:40 PM:

The Alt @227:

You seem to be laboring under the misapprehension that I'm seeking your approval. Let's just clear that one right up: you came into this community hoping we would use our Hugo votes for your fella. So the boot's rather on the other foot.

As it happens, you're unlikely to persuade me that excluding multiple reading styles is narrow-minded, no matter how you wriggle about. And your patent unwillingness to go out and learn about other reading styles than your own doesn't say a lot for your dearly-treasured objectivity.

Go off and do some reading, poppet. You might learn something, and wouldn't that be nice?

#234 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 02:45 PM:

The Alt: Nobody is saying Chinatown isn't a good film just because Polanski is a pederastic rapist (Though on its own merits, I found it cold and unappealing enough to stop watching partway through.) However, I think it's perfectly fair for someone who finds Polanski's personal actions absolutely reprehensible to choose to say "There are 3000 other excellent movies in the world I would rather watch that don't require me to support him." NOBODY is ever tied down and required to digest every piece of entertainment someone else finds acceptable, popular or potentially award-worthy.

Even to decide if it's ACTUALLY objectively as good or better than something more to their taste by a person who doesn't make them wish to vomit.

God, if they did, I'd have to read Twilight at some point. NOT happening.

It was AnonymousBot, not you, that made the majority of the 'publishing is dead' sneers. But since they were made within this discussion, I hope you'll forgive Abi the brief confusion between sudden new arrivals with vague pseudonyms who started by sneering at the locals AND who have made some of their arguments based on sales or relative popularity of authors.

#235 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 02:45 PM:

abi @ 233... So the boot's rather on the other foot.

"...it's 30,000 feet straight down in a steel trap. You get how that works? Ant... boot."
- Nick Fury

#236 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 02:48 PM:

Lenora Rose @234:

The Alt was the one who said You’re writing as if it’s the early 90s again and SF/F books are still flying off the shelves.

In the context of this conversation, I took that to be a reference to paper books vs ebooks/new publishing models, but if it was meant to be something else, I'm sure he'll enlighten me.

#237 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 02:50 PM:

D. 229: Arrggh. I meant Riefenstahl. Damn.

#238 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 02:52 PM:

Alt @ 220... Actually I *am* warm and welcoming. And inclusive too. Ask the people who've met me and who owe me money.

#239 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 02:53 PM:

I thought it was a reference to the "In the golden days SF sold way better than it does now but now it's a dying genre" BS which I occasionally see raised - often by people like Day to explain that the new names and voices and representation of non-MANLY WHITE STUDS as heroes in SF are killing its mass appeal.

#240 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 02:59 PM:

Huh. Hadn't heard that one. I suppose it's possible.

The irony is that SF/F has "won", in so many ways. Our tropes inform the movies and TVs that pretty much everyone watches. Reading SF doesn't mark one out as a member of the subculture of fandom.

The absolute volume of books sold has gone down, probably because of competition from other attention-sucks, but SF/F books still do very well in comparison to the overall market.

#241 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 03:06 PM:

I just have to say that until recently I hadn't heard of Larry Correia, not until Jim Hines wrote a rebuttal to Correia's erm, analysis of an article by Alex Dally MacFarland. I found the rebuttal to be clear, cogent, and illuminating -- and then Correia's responses (along with his fans) demonstrated just why I won't bother reading his books. Although "not as bad as VD" is faint praise to be damned with, his own actions and words damned himself well enough for me. Like Lee, I find there are enough other books in the world crying out to be read without having similar baggage dragging along.

With respect to the films of Roman Polanski: never seen any, never will. I do not spend my money on an admitted child rapist's "art", no matter how talented he may have been.

#242 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 03:09 PM:

What's that about Chick Corea?

#243 ::: The Alt ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 03:13 PM:

Xopher @228

The Triumph of the Will example is still a judgment on the content of the piece, not of Riefenstahl himself, which y sm t ndrstnd, bt lt’s g wth t.

Th flm s wll md fr th tm, crtnly, bt th cntnt nd th stry hv prblms nd r bjctnbl fr bvs rsns. f y hvn’t sn th flm, whch hv, y wld stll knw ll f ths bsd n th flm’s g, ts rpttn, nd ts prps s prpgnd. Stll, cntnt s kng.

Bt nn f tht ppls n ths cs.

ddtnlly, r y rlly tryng t cmpr Lrry Crrr r vn Vx Dy t Ln Rfnsthl? r w rlly qtng pltcl stckng pnt lk Lrry Crr’s stnc n gn cntrl t mss gncd? Tht sn’t jst lp n lgc, t’s jmp vr th Grnd Cnyn n Ls Swyr’s cr.

Yr fllw-p nlgy s vn wrs. D y knw hw mny dvrtsng dllrs r spnt n scr cmpgns, hw mny scrnrs gt snt t, hw mny prdcrs tlk bhnd th scns nd psh mny nt th rght hnds t gt thr mvs t mk th ct? Mllns f dllrs r spnt t mnplt scr vtrs, ll Crr nd Dy dd ws pst fw blg psts syng “Hy, lk ths…nmnt thm f y cld.”

ddtnlly, r Crr r Dy ptty crks? f s, pls dmnstrt ths. s Wrbnd wnk fntsy, r t lst ny mr s thn ny thr SF/F nvl? Hv y vn rd t? f s, pls dmnstrt ths s wll. Y mk lt f jst s ssrtns n ths dvsttngly bd nlgy f yrs.

Ys, Chntwn s grt flm, nd th cntnt f tht flm hs zr t d wth th drctr’s bhvr. Bt ccrdng t yr lgc, f y wr n scr vtr n 1974, y wld vt wtht wtchng t n th ssmptn tht Chntwn s trsh bcs th gy wh md t s scmbg?

Bt t's nt trsh; t's grt flm.

Wht yr lgclly fls cnclsn frm yr nvld prmss rlly tlls s s tht yr blf tht y shld hv “vry xpcttn tht th wrk s trsh” s n rlty whlly sprt frm hw gd th wrks ctlly r r vn hw cmptnt th crtr mght b.

Ths s jst yr bs t wrk, nd whl tht’s crtnly yr prrgtv, ths ds dssrvc t th rt frm.

#244 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 03:17 PM:

(pssst: Leni Riefenstahl was a woman.)

#245 ::: The Alt ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 03:18 PM:

Serge Broom @230 - f mssplld pdntry s ll y hv t cntrbt, mr pwr t y.

#246 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 03:18 PM:

The Chinatown crack was addressed to me, I believe. And my answer is that yes, Polanski's personal depravity taints each and every one of the films he made, absolutely and unequivocally; it would be impossible now to watch Chinatown without thinking, "this was made by an unrepentant child-rapist".

And that is my final comment on the subject.

Lenora Rose, #234: I am not convinced that all these new commenters are actually different people. Google "persona management software" to find out why.

#247 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 03:20 PM:

Well, this conversation has all been very stimulating. I just bought my supporting membership to Loncon. Mind you, I had meant to do this before, but hadn't quite gotten around to it. So, yay, me.

The sad part of this is that I will probably have to vote against Mira Grant. I actually adore Seanan McGuire, but I found _Parasite_ not wonderful. In the first place, really, _another_ zombie novel? (So tired of zombies, now.) And I didn't think it was all that well put together. However, it is vaguely possible no other novel will be as good. Just not likely.

As far as the Hugos just being another popularity contest, that is in some ways not really accurate. It is a popularity contest within a small and self-selected group. In some ways, it strikes me as a middle ground between a strict popularity contest and a juried award. I'm not saying that it has no flaws, because humans are involved. Nor that I never disagree with the results. But I haven't seen a proposal that I like better than what we've got, actually. It does say something, though I'm not sure what, that it is the most prestigious of the various sff awards, many of which are juried.

#248 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 03:22 PM:

The Alt @243 - Where your analogy breaks down is that Vox Day has (for example) claimed that homosexuality is a birth defect and that they should be helped to achieve "sexual normality". Now that's quite an insult to some of the people here. He's made a sustained attack on them. One could say that he's picked a fight with them.

Now if Polanski had made Chinatown and then later wrote an article insulting me personally, then I might be fairminded enough to watch it and write an honest review. I'm not sure that anyone could blame me if I skipped it though.

#249 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 03:24 PM:

Lydy @247:

Yay indeed! But alas that it is not an attending membership!

What do you think of Ancillary Justice?

#250 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 03:24 PM:

Alt... I misspelled one word. You misspelled quite a few. You win the power contest.

#251 ::: The Alt ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 03:26 PM:

@abi 244 - Your comment got an eyebrow raise. It took me a moment to realize I typed "himself" instead of "herself". Picture of Goebbels in my head, I suppose.

Mn r wmn, th cntnt f th flm s stll th cntnt f th flm, nd th rgmnt s n lss vld.

#252 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 03:35 PM:

Meanwhile I find Jo Walton's idea @99 of comparing series with series over a period of time is interesting. In addition, it has the advantage that it could allow a longer period (12 months?) for voters to read the series novels on the ballot.

WoT, good or bad, is in a different weight-class to the other novels on the ballot. (Which is about comparing eggs to apples to robot centipedes anyway)

#253 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 03:37 PM:

Oh, abi, I too am sorry that it is not an attending membership. But even if I had managed my finances appropriately, the loss of two weeks of work due to a catastrophic finger dislocation at the beginning of the year would have made it impossible to attend. I did so very much want to.

I have not yet read _Ancillary Justice_ and am very much looking forward to it. It has a lot of good buzz. Will at least look at the Correia, but it sounds like he's not really my thing. Will also look at the WoT, but again, not really my thing, and I seem to recall trying it once before and bouncing off. But, hell, it's been years and things change. But the one I'm excited about is the Leckie.

#254 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 03:47 PM:

To be honest, I'm sorrier about the amount of pain and trouble you've been having about the finger. The wish you were at Worldcon is secondary.

I very much enjoyed AJ. I found it thought-provoking and entertaining, and the writing really pulled me through the book.

I haven't read any of the other candidates. I'll try the Correia, and "look to like, if looking liking move," despite the rather negative impression his fanbois have managed to leave.

Unfortunately, I doubt I'll be able to get enough of the WoT past my eyeballs to make a reasoned judgment on it, so I probably won't be able to vote one way or another. I followed plenty of other doorstop series in my youth, but not that one.

#255 ::: The Alt ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 03:47 PM:

Abi @233

Y’r clrly skng -- smthng, bt cldn’t cr lss (tht n’s fr y Srg) wht t s. Hwvr, y sm t b ndr sm msgdd ssmptns bt my ntnt.

cm nt th cmmnty ftr rdng cmmnts tht wr bsd, mypc, nd pttng pltcs bfr ptntl qlty. My ss s wth th mthdlgy bng spsd hr, nt rgrdng wh wll r wll nt gt th vt.

f sngl prgrph f m sttng brdly tht lkd Lrry’s wrk nd nt Vx’s ws stmpng, thn pprntly w r wrkng ndr dffrnt dfntnl prmtrs.

nlss f crs y cn ct xmpls f xctly hw ’v bn stmpng fr smn. thrws rtrct yr sttmnt.

My njymnt r nn-njymnt f pc f wrk hs nthng t d wth th shny mblm thy cn slp n pprbck rprnt, dn’t cr thr wy.

Wht d cr bt s bjctvty wthn gnr f fctn tht cr vry dply bt, nd n whch s smngly gttng vrrn wth crtn typ f dlgcl thnkng. Tk tht fr wht y wll.

[The following is left unchanged in case someone comes along who can't read disemvowelled text, and wonders why this guy got zapped. Bear in mind that he's saying it to Abi Sutherland.]
You’re adorable. You really think you’re better-read than I am. Well, if it helps whatever ego thing you have going on, please continue to keep operating under that assumption.

I’m not looking to persuade you. Do you really think this exchange is for you? If you were more observant, you might learn something.

#256 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 03:51 PM:

This is the second time today that I've seen a Daysie misgender a female as male. Interesting.

I know nothing about Warbound or Correia and wasn't referring to them. I have read a plot synopsis of the embarrassingly mistitled "Opera Vita Aeterna," and it sounds like STD's personal wank fantasy. I may read the first page or two and see if it's as mindbogglingly bad as other excerpts of his work that I've read.

Riefenstahl didn't commit any genocide personally. STD has advocated* emulating the Nazis in disposing of those he considers socially undesirable, so I don't think it's that much of a stretch to compare them.

*To be absolutely clear: During one of the discussions of immigration policy that happen from time to time, someone raised the fact that, even if it made sense to try to deport all non-citizens as he was advocating, it would be impossible even to transport so many people. He pointed out that the Nazis did it with the trains that took people to the camps. Reading that was the moment when I finally realized that nothing that comes from his brain was anything I wanted to even examine.

#257 ::: The Alt ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 03:52 PM:

Serge @250

'm dng ths qckly, whl wrkng, nd n sm css frm tblt. s pntng t typs rlly ll th mmntn y hv, bcs 'v yt t s y prsnt nythng wth sbstnc.

#258 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 03:54 PM:

How's that reading going? Decided to broaden your mind yet? Learn why people may do things differently than you?

Thought not.

It's a lovely notion that you've come here merely to enlighten us all, and it's a coincidence that you drop Correia's name left, right and center. I'm sure it's also a coincidence that you come into the less relevant thread on this blog alongside a bunch of other equally innocent people arguing the same thing and casually dropping the same name (alongside Day's). All on the same day.

Such coincidence. Wow.

#259 ::: Howard Bannister ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 03:57 PM:

"biased, myopic"

Heh.

The funny thing is that from a certain angle the insistence that one consider Chinatown on its merits and never consider the unrepentant child rapist who made it has a certain sort of bias of it's own, a certain refusal to look at how that view of media criticism does harm.

You might almost see some projection there.

#260 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 03:59 PM:

abi: Not that it actually matters, or should, but I support you in any action you may decide to take concerning The Alt.

#261 ::: Obi Wan ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 04:00 PM:

Wouldn't we want to support a story by Vox about brotherly love across species? Isn't that kind of his version of "pink SF"?

#262 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 04:05 PM:

I'm reasonably certain that Day would manage to do something horrid with the most pleasant and kindly storyline.

Also, what's "pink SF"? That's not a term I'm familiar with.

#263 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 04:05 PM:

Obi Wan @261, I've never read anything by Vox Day, and I probably won't until I receive my Hugo packet, but I find your comment curious. I vote for Hugos because I find the writing excellent and the storytelling compelling, not because of some political agenda put forth by the author.

Are you suggesting we should vote for Hugo candidates solely because they align with our political beliefs, regardless of the quality of the writing? Because that's what you seem to be saying here.

#264 ::: The Alt ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 04:05 PM:

Xopher @256

Rlly? Tht’s ntrstng cmng frm th gy wh pprntly thnks ll wmn flmmkrs r ntrchngbl, nd wh cnfss Grmn Ntnl Sclsts wth tln Cmmnsts.

Bt thn gn, ’m wllng t dmt tht y jst md smpl mstk, whch s why ddn’t pnt t t whn rspndd t y, jst chngd th rfrnc t th crrct nm. Thnk y fr bng qlly gnrs n yr rspns t m.

Yr rspns hr s gnrlly smmrzd s “wll t snds lk t t m, s thr”. Y’v ssntlly bwd t f mkng ny sbstntv pnts rgrdng my prvs cmmnt.

Fr clrfctn, wnt t Dy’s blg nd dd srch fr ths prtclr pst. t ds nt ppr tht h ws n ny wy dvctng dspsng nyn. H ws dscssng bt rndng p llgl mmgrnts fr dprttn nd hw thy rgmnt s tht t cn’t b dn. H ws sttng tht hstrclly t hs bn dn, wth th Nzs rndng ppl p bng n xmpl. W cn dsgr wth hs pltcs, bt lt’s t lst gt th mn’s rgmnt crrct.

By th wy, “Dys”? Nt nly s tht ptty nd dtc, bt hv y ctlly bn rdng my psts? Hwvr, lblng smn n n ttmpt t dsrgrd thr rgmnts s nc tch.

#265 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 04:06 PM:

Xopher @260

Yes, there's not much candy left inside, is there?

#266 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 04:15 PM:

abi... I think I might have a holy handgrenade of Antioch left.

#267 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 04:20 PM:

The Alt 264: He was stating that historically it has been done, with the Nazis rounding people up being an example. We can disagree with his politics, but let’s at least get the man’s argument correct.

Yes. Advocating the methods used by the Nazis to round people up and ship them off. You do know those methods were brutal, they killed a lot of people just in the rounding up, and the trains were so overstuffed that many people suffocated, right? Do you not see that that in itself justifies loathing Vox Day?

abi 265: No, I guess not. Just couldn't resist one last swing.

#268 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 04:23 PM:

So Alt, how do you think you're doing here, trying to persuade people of, well, anything? Is this a good use of your time?

Also, how's the reading going?

#269 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 04:30 PM:

Speaking of reading, does anyone here have any knowledge of when the Hugo Packets will be mailed out? I'm itching to get started on my homework...

#270 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 04:32 PM:

abi, #262: Googling "pink SF" produces exactly one relevant reference:
Pink SF is the dominant form of science fiction today. Or rather, more properly, the currently dominant form of SyFy. It is necrobestial love triangles. It is using the superficial trappings of science fiction or fantasy or war fiction to tell exactly the same sort of goopy, narcissistic female-oriented story that has already been told in ten thousand Harlequin novels and children's tales and Hollywood comeuppance fantasies.

Which is about what I had guessed; it's nice to know that one's extrapolatory skills are up to par.

#271 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 04:37 PM:

Lee #270:

Obviously I've been reading the wrong children's tales; I don't recall that many necrobestial love triangles.

#272 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 04:42 PM:

Lee... Stuff with girl cooties all over it?

#273 ::: john, who is incognito and definitely not at work ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 04:44 PM:

It feels to me like there's a certain amount of privilege in the exhortation to ignore the author and judge the work outside of any social context.

As an example, one of my friends read Lolita some time back. I have not and will not read it, for reasons I won't discuss here. I think I was polite but I really didn't want to talk about the book, and we moved on to other things.

If said friend had insisted that I read the book and that I was small-minded for not doing so, even though I knew that reading it would pain me personally, it would have strained--if not ended--the friendship. That sort of statement strikes me as a way of saying that my pain is not nearly as important as validating the other person's opinion. Which is to say that to me it sounds privileged and insensitive, perhaps also narcissistic.

Still, I think there's room for different approaches to art, and if people want to read something I detest, that's fine with me and really none of my business. I think it's also not any of my business if someone decides not to read something that they expect to be painful, even when it comes to voting on it. Perhaps I'm just not interested in evangelism.

#274 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 04:50 PM:

I've got a space or two left on the troll bingo card.

#275 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 04:56 PM:

You can only fill in your bingo card if you are sure you are evaluating objectively.

#276 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 05:13 PM:

It is necrobestial love triangles.

Oh, hi, Anita Blake series, I see you there! :)

I wouldn't say that Anita Blake is science fiction, though; it's pretty clearly urban fantasy--just to bring that up again--right up until Rule 34 hits and it devolves into sex fantasy.

I did like Obsidian Butterfly, but I haven't read any of them since.

#277 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 05:14 PM:

Alt: please explain, in one hundred words or less, why I should let you continue to post in this fashion.

I am not joking, and this is not an optional request.

#278 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 05:15 PM:

Lee @ 246: A great many of the new commentors are very much the same person. I just happen to think The Alt is an exception. He (?) is attempting to put forth arguments at length, which is no doubt a waste of time, but is also something none of the others had done.

There's more than one dip out there.

OTOH, I think we can say the candy is gone. He(?) has ignored some arguments, misrepresented several others, insulted a few people, albeit mildly, and generally made any impression of good faith go away.

I need to go see if my son has settled into his nap, though, so I can tuck him in his crib. Somehow that seems a lot more important even than deciding if I AM going to get a supporting membership for LonCon, never mind the way this thread has degenerated.

#279 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 05:18 PM:

john, who is incognito @273:
It feels to me like there's a certain amount of privilege in the exhortation to ignore the author and judge the work outside of any social context.

Of course there is. It's the privilege of people who think they're safe from being genuinely damaged by the world, and have a certain amount of contempt for anyone who isn't. They'd rather have you silenced and not voting than have you bring your dreadful, complex feelings into their nice, clean, simple world.

(The notion that the people who buy works based on Hugo wins are also complex and messy, and react to the peripheral circumstances of the work as well as the Platonic ideal of its contents, and thus might be better served by an award voted by messy and complex people...don't go there. It makes the tidy people sad.)

Of course, some authors also just want a free ride on being every kind of asshole without any consequences coming back to them.

#280 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 05:27 PM:

I find the ideas of "art" and "objectivity" weirdly orthogonal. Didn't Aristotle define art as evoking pity and terror? Which are kind of very subjective experiences.

There's a long interesting argument about "good art" versus "art that I like" which I find interesting, but inconclusive at best. For instance, I can attest that _Lolita_ is brilliantly written, and it was a powerful experience to read. And I completely understand why someone might decide to give it a miss. Does it evoke pity and terror? Oh, yes indeed. Is it technically brilliant? Oh, my, absolutely. Is it often unpleasant? Yep, that too. Very much that too. Is it a great work of art? Um, fuck if I know. All depends on your definitions.

Because of the way the Hugos are chosen, many different definitions of good and art come together and are kind of averaged out by the mechanism of voting. So, that's interesting. Trying to insist that there is some uber-standard that the voters should have to adhere to is, at very best, anti-democratic, surely. One of the strengths of democracy, it has always seemed to me, is that many different view points end up converging at points of common ground. It's interesting, and messy.

#281 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 05:29 PM:

Serge, #272: Yeah, pretty much. It reminds me of the current Republican posturing about marriage equality, in a "the world has moved on without you and you don't have enough snap to realize it" sort of way. Sad, really.

#282 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 05:32 PM:

The Alt wrote,

I came into the community after reading comments that were biased, myopic, and putting politics before potential quality.

(emphasis mine)

And I just want to pull this out and showcase it on its own as an example of having a political view that is so mainstream and privileged that one forgets it's politics at all, and believes that the view is actually apolitical.

The idea that "potential quality" always trumps, and cannot be affected by, other considerations is itself very much a political view.

The Alt is arguing in favor of a political view. They're also arguing that their political view isn't actually political, but just objective and unbiased. And that's a political view, too.

#283 ::: The Alt ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 05:35 PM:

Abi @258

ndrstnd; dsgr. r y rlly ncpbl f dntfyng nd sprtng ths tw cncpts? s sbtlty f rgmnt prhps nt yr strng st?

ddd t whch, nw y’r cntnng t msrprsnt my pstn nd y’r bng pssv-ggrssv? Hw qckly y’v dvlvd.

s clrly sttd rlr, hw nyn pprcts ltrtr s thr prrgtv, jst pntd t th rsns why dsgr wth ths dlgcl pprch whn t cms t vtng. gn, y smwht rdclsly nd dsprtly ttmpt t pnt wht s n ppl t bjctvty s nrrw-mnddnss.

Th “s vrss thm” prjctns nd ccstns y thrw t sy mr bt y thn thy d bt m. s ’v sttd prvsly, t ch hs/hr wn...bt tht dsn't mn gr wth t.

Ww. Y gt m. Thr’s n wy ’v bn drppng Crr’s nm bcs h nd Dy hv bn th vrwhlmng tpc f cnvrstn wthn th SF/F blgsphr fr th lst cpl f dys. Y’r rght, t’s n cncdnc tht vryn ls hs bn tlkng bt thm t.

Th dffrnc f crs s tht ’m nt prrtng th “ccptd” ln n ths, thrfr m smhw stmpng fr thm. cn plnly s tht ntllctl cnsstncy lds y, bt f th tpc f cnvrstn ws bt Chn Mlvll r Jhn Sclz, tw wrtrs wth whm dsgr n wd vrty f thngs, wld stll b hr mkng th sm rgmnts.

’m tryng t b nc hr, s gn, w cn smply gr t dsgr...bt f y wnt t kp gng, 'm hppy t blg n th fnnst pssbl wys.

#284 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 05:37 PM:

Is subtlety of argument perhaps not your strong suit?

(stepping away from where lightning bolt might strike)

#285 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 05:41 PM:

Alt, you seem to have missed TNH's requirement at 277. She owns this space. If you don't respond, I predict that the consonant/vowel ratio in your comments will increase dramatically.

#286 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 05:43 PM:

Alt, I won't distract you from answering Teresa's question.

But I would point out that your entire commenting history in this thread is visible to everyone in the conversation.

Including, by the way, Teresa.

#287 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 05:46 PM:

Alt: I'd listen to and answer Teresa, if I were you. I know right now you seem to be ignoring everyone who responds who isn't Xopher, abi, or Serge, but you might want to rethink that approach in her case.

I also think there's a not insignificant point to be made about the timing of your arrival you have failed to note. It's not passive aggressive to suggest that the behaviour of those in whose company you arrived - and to which your own most closely bears resemblance - is casting an unfavourable shadow over your own.

#288 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 05:49 PM:

Not just timing, but location. All into the one thread, all with a vector that does not actually match the original post.

All missing the thread that actually would have matched their vector.

#289 ::: The Alt ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 05:52 PM:
[This too has been let stand, in case anyone's unclear about how badly the guy was behaving. Leading off with "Perhaps disagreement is simply not allowed here?" in a Making Light thread? He wasn't paying attention.]
Teresa Nielsen Hayden @277

I don't know, it depends on in what fashion you are speaking of precisely?

Have I not been consistent in my responses with the tone and level of civility directly shown to me?

Sure I have. Perhaps disagreement is simply not allowed here?

Please keep in mind that of the first two responses to my initial post, one amounted to "go away" and the other was a misrepresentation.

So once again, the openness and all inclusiveness leaves me with a warm, fuzzy feeling. Let me post, don't let me post...I was never trying to convince anyone but those playing at home.

You are welcome to your echo chamber.

#290 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 05:58 PM:

3.0 (out of 10). *looks over at the Russian judge*

#291 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 05:59 PM:

The Alt: disagreement implies you listen to all the answers. Disagreement implies you come here to persuade, not to strut that you're already in the right.

I've already said that if I get the Hugo packet, I'll try to evaluate Correia's book on its own merits, which is exactly your "Revolutionary" stance. So clearly, your position is not in fact the reason you're being treated as you are.

4/10

#292 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 06:00 PM:

abi @275: Well, I've got this giant regex here. It's not exactly objective, it's declarative.

Of course, now I have 2 problems.

#293 ::: The Alt ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 06:03 PM:

Lenora @287

Tht's bcs n thry gr wth thm n ths ss, vn thgh 'm nt stmpng fr ny prtclr wrtr. s mntnd n my prvs pst, f th wrtrs n qstn wr Chn Mlvll r Jhn Sclz my pstn s wht my pstn s.

s fr gnrng crtn ppl, nly hv s mch tm nd m nly rspndng t thngs fnd bjctnbl r ths thngs tht r msrprsntng my pstn.

Abi@286

Why wld t mttr t m whthr r nt Trs ss my psts? wld hp s. 'm pstng s ppl cn rd thm, ftr ll.

hd t stp wy. 'm nt wtng wth btd brth t rspnd t vry cmmnt. Mst mssg brd cnvrstns r nt rl tm.

Xopher @267

Bt ccrcy s ccrcy, s w shld try nd gt t rght.

Bt vn f w ddn't, t dsn't mttr. Whtvr y thnk f Vx Dy, yr prsnl pnn f th mn stll hs n rflctn n th qlty f hs nmntd wrk.

#294 ::: pedantic Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 06:05 PM:

I'm not waiting with baited breath

It's *bated* breath.

#295 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 06:08 PM:

What you don't understand, Alt, is that Teresa is the person who will decide whether you continue to post here or not, and whether your existing comments remain easily readable. She's also quite a text semantician (though she probably wouldn't put it that way). If your claims about your posts don't match the posts themselves, she will notice.

Your very first comment here, before anyone knew you, was full of sneering condescension. So no, you haven't only responded to the comments you got; you came in hot, with guns blazing, and people responded accordingly. Now you're claiming self-defense on everything you've done.

You don't work for the NYPD, by any chance?

#296 ::: johnofjack ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 06:09 PM:

Serge @ 294: I don't know, I think I saw some grass and a couple of tin cans while he was speaking.

#297 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 06:10 PM:

I find the statement I was never trying to convince anyone but those playing at home interesting and telling.

It was never about us. It was about the performance. That explains a lot.

#298 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 06:11 PM:

Wouldn't baited breath would be Wormtongue?

#299 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 06:12 PM:

editing fail. s/would//;

and
<cue mork>

#300 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 06:15 PM:

Yes, after The Alt is banned here, he'll go back to STD's blog and brag about he engaged us and won.

The fact that he did neither will fly right by all of them.

#301 ::: The Alt ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 06:19 PM:

Lenora @291

'v rd ll th xplntns, bt ths hv bn dstlld t nthng mr ppl dfndng thr pstns wth dbs rtnlztns.

'v skd clr qstns bt whr my lgc fls nd n n hs ctlly bn bl t prvd nythng bt ppls t prsnl flngs, mr rtnlztns, r cnfltns n rdr t msrprsnt my pstn.

'v ddrssd ppl's spcfc pnts, nd n dng s hv llstrtd my wn. gn, 'm nt tryng t cnvnc ths 'm nggng wth, tht shp sld lng bfr rrvd. jst wnt t mk thrs thnk.

ddn't cmmnt drctly t y bfr bcs y dmttd tht y wr pn t rdng ll th nmns wrks, n mttr hw y flt bt th thr. Tht s fr nd ntllctlly hnst pstn t tk.

rt s nhrntly sbjctv, thr s n rgmnt bt tht, bt w shld stll try t pprch t s bjctvly s pssbl nd wtht bs. Spcfclly, w shld nt smply dsmss t t f hnd bfr vn bng xpsd t t, spclly whn t cms t s vtng fr ts plc mng ts prs.

Ths s nthr n nrsnbl nr cntrvrsl pstn. Bt thn gn, clrly s tht 'm n th wrng sd f th SF/F dlgcl sl t mk sch clm.

'Tl nxt tm.

#302 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 06:20 PM:

Let's let Teresa sort things out, guys.

#303 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 06:22 PM:

Fascinating. By ignoring the names, the brand new contributors sound remarkably alike. And thank you, Idumea, for the tweaking of nyms. I read some of those very late in my personal day and concluded I really needed sleep. I was correct on two counts. The comments were not written by the person whose name was given, and I was very tired.

(Following the fun while eating chili cheese fritos)

#304 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 06:26 PM:

OK, then, Alt: What do you say to people who say they shouldn't have to read things that will (or might) hurt them, just to fulfill some arbitrary standard of "objectivity" for a popularly-voted (that is, not professionally juried) award?

On my own dime, why should I, whom VD thinks should be subjected to gods-know-what to try to turn me straight, give anything he writes a fair shake? I do not have to be objective in voting for the Hugos.

Please note that these are two separate questions, which may have different answers.

Would I serve on a jury in a criminal case involving VD? I would not. That would not be just. Would I serve on a jury for an award he was eligible for? I would not. That would not be giving good value.

Those are cases where I would be required to be objective about the actions taken, or about the work, and I could not, in that vile excrescence's case.

The Hugos are NOT such a case.

#305 ::: @The Alt ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 06:26 PM:

Xopher @295

ndrstnd, bt why wld b wrrd bt hr sng thm f 'v dn nthng wrng...whch hvn't. t's clr thgh tht th wrtng s n th wll bcs 'm nt dwn wth th grpthnk rght nw.

'Tl nxt tm.

#306 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 06:26 PM:

Lenora Rose @ 239

I took it as a symptom of "Nerd Rage" which is another signpost on the road to mainstream culture.

#307 ::: @The Alt ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 06:27 PM:

Xopher @295

ndrstnd, bt why wld b wrrd bt hr sng thm f 'v dn nthng wrng...whch hvn't. t's clr thgh tht th wrtng s n th wll bcs 'm nt dwn wth th grpthnk rght nw.

'Tl nxt tm.

#308 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 06:29 PM:

Tsk.

Alt, given the breadth of knowledge you've displayed in these comments, and the mistakes you haven't made, you have to be someone in the SF community whom we'd recognize. Very likely some of us know you socially. Does it not occur to you that it's rude to come here, push a partisan agenda, and argue intensively with your fellow members of the SF community, without taking responsibility for who you are and what you think?

That's aside from any specific rude things you've said, of which there are quite a few.

And by the way, my sense is that you're male, you're a professional writer, you feel ill done by with regard to the Hugos, your books sell well but tend not to be nominated for awards or praised for their artistry, and you've got a mad on for Redshirts.

#309 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 06:31 PM:

307
The first two sentences don't belong together. (They contradict each other and show us far too much of your own personality.)

#310 ::: The Alt ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 06:33 PM:

Serge @ 294

Clrly y hv vlvd bynd bth typs nd sbstntv cmmnts.

'Tl Nxt Tm

#311 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 06:46 PM:

I'm beginning to wonder what's with the repeated flounce-and-return. That's 3 now, not counting the one that was a double-post.

The urge to play Troll Bingo is getting stronger.

#312 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 06:49 PM:

I have in fact evolved into David McCullum's Sixth Finger self.

#313 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 06:51 PM:

291: "I didn't comment directly to you before because you admitted that you were open to reading all the nominees works, no matter how you felt about the author. That is a fair and intellectually honest position to take. "

Um, not all. I am not reading all of the Wheel of Time because it's too big to consume in my rather limited reading time, and I won't read Vox Day with the possible exception of for the intellectually dishonest motivation of morbid fascination. (And pretty much said so).

I also think it is a defensible and "intellectually honest" position to say "I don't care how good the work is, I'm not reading something by someone who has suggested I need to be thrown into a re-education gulag or that my entire continent or origin is inhabited by subhumans." Emotion, particularly in the face of direct abuse, is not the opposite of intellect, much as it pleases those who pride themselves on their objectivity* to try and say so.

But I'm not saying this for you, Alt. I'm saying this so the locals here (Who no doubt already know this, having read my prior comments and who may remember some of my history here) don't in some way associate your reading of my position with my actual position.

*Many of whom mean by objectivity "I don't subscribe to ordinary rules of behaviour, such as basic courtesy when first approaching a person or site, or any comprehension why a person who has been punched in the face repeatedly by a friend of mine should refuse to be in the same room with him." Which is, shall we say, straining a definition.

#314 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 07:21 PM:

Lenora Rose,

However interested I, at least, am in your reading choices, please don't feel that you need state them in order to dissociate yourself from our late visitor. The friendliness and reasonableness of your demeanor, and your habitual tolerance for divergent views and approaches, are differentiators enough.

More generally,

I genuinely have no problem with people who can read works without being affected by the weight of associations with their authors, contexts, etc. But I have a big problem with people who feel this approach, or any other, is somehow special, or should be the universal or default practice.

And sneering and disingenuousness. I do have problems with them.

#315 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 07:23 PM:

Alt, you're much mistaken if you think you've been no ruder than your fellow participants.

Also: how much effort does it take to figure out that the set of all people who buy books, and the set of all people who nominate and vote for the Hugo Awards, are two different groups with a limited amount of overlap?

In spite of that, the Hugos have consistently had the greatest credibility, among the awards the field gives out, for being a reflection of popular taste. This is known. The marketing department can tell you all about it.

I am fantasted by the idea of non-judgemental voting for awards. It's an inherently judgemental process.

I'm also fantasted by the idea that suddenly this year, in certain designated cases, fandom should vote only for the texts, and nothing else. That would be a revolutionary change in the Hugo Awards. They're not about the texts, but they're not not about the texts either. What they are about, explicitly, is whatever the voters think it's important to vote for.

There've always been some voters who felt the text was all that mattered. They've voted accordingly. But those who've felt that other considerations are important have always taken those other considerations into account as well when they're voting. That's not just my opinion. It's reflected in various statistics.

I have yet to see anyone make a good case for why those voters should, this year, in certain cases, ignore all but one of the voting considerations they think are important. It smacks very much of special pleading.

#316 ::: No Man's Land ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 08:00 PM:

n mr tm...th prcss hr s dbs t bst. Ths wrd hs bcm pplrty cntst tht smngly fls t tk nt ccnt th ctl wrk n qstn. t s n thng t dfntly stt tht pc f ltrtr, bsd n nmbr f crtr, ds nt mt th "smll" tst. n th thr hnd, t s rdly pprnt tht bth th pr- ND nt-Crr/Vx Dy clyts r mkng t prsnl, nd nt prfssnl.

xctly why cnsrvtvs nd lbrls (nd fns) r nvrslly rvld by mdrts sch s myslf whn thy ch vcfrsly cnspr gnst thr dlgcl cmpnnts, rthr thn st sd thr prjdcs nd hnstly jdg wrk n thr mrts.

#317 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 08:05 PM:

I notice that "The Alt" posted his "'Til Next Time" pretty much the moment that TNH made it clear that he's not as anonymous as he thinks he is.

What a profile in courage, coming over here and trying to start a fight from behind a pseudonym.

My name is Patrick Nielsen Hayden. It's the name on all my legal ID and it's the name I use in my public and professional life.

An SF-industry figure who comes over here under a pseudonym to try to gin up a fight? What a coward.

#318 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 08:07 PM:

Ah, "No Man's Land," another profile in pseudonymous courage.

#319 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 08:08 PM:

A hint for you, No Man's Land: when you're coming back in as a sockpuppet, don't start your first comment by saying "One more time."

#320 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 08:25 PM:

Cassy B. @269: In past years the delay between the announcement of nominees and the packet becoming available has been fairly substantial, at least some weeks. I'd be surprised if that weren't the case this year too.

(I do hope that their servers are robust enough to handle several thousand people downloading the entire Wheel of Time series all at once! -- to say nothing of all the other things.)

#321 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 08:32 PM:

Oh, come on, text is nothing by modern broadband standards. You can download the OED in minutes, if not seconds, with a typical cable-modem connection.

#322 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 08:55 PM:

Continuing from Patrick's comment @317 --

One doesn't expect much from a commenter who, when told he's being rude, labels the forum an "echo chamber", and says he's being oppressed because he's "not down with the groupthink."

So, not just a jerk, but a practiced and habitual jerk.

It wouldn't make all that much difference if he turned out to be someone other than the small handful of suspects I had in mind after reading his comments. Here's the important point: if he respected his audience, if he'd been here to talk as one human being to another, he wouldn't have been participating incognito.

He also wouldn't have said half the crap he did, but that's a separate issue.

Add to his list of characteristics: is in the habit of feeling sorry for himself; is accustomed to spend time in forums where he isn't seriously challenged and definitely isn't snickered at; assumes non-pros he's meeting for first time are dumber than he is, and is angry, not pleased, when it turns out they aren't; may or may not be a right-winger, but certainly hangs out with them; and thinks he knows more about fandom/the SF community than he does, which very probably means his primary identity and most of his experience is as a pro.

#323 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 08:56 PM:

abi @ 279:

john, who is incognito @273:
It feels to me like there's a certain amount of privilege in the exhortation to ignore the author and judge the work outside of any social context.

Of course there is. It's the privilege of people who think they're safe from being genuinely damaged by the world, and have a certain amount of contempt for anyone who isn't. They'd rather have you silenced and not voting than have you bring your dreadful, complex feelings into their nice, clean, simple world.

That doesn't speak for me.

I judge the work rather than the author because, if it came down to it, I could and would have killed Celine the collaborationist, great artist or not. I wouldn't have hung Pound, but I think it was right to imprison him. I can judge an artist great and put a bullet through him or put him behind bars. So the privilege isn't so much that I think I'm safe. It's that I think I can and would act on political judgements independently of aesthetic judgements.

#324 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 09:09 PM:

Teresa@322. The line "I'm just being reasonable" was when I got the pattern. He's a character from offstage on the dfd threads.

#325 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 09:18 PM:

#323, John A Arkansawyer:

I can't speak for abi's intent, but I think you've run into the difference between "choosing to do" and "telling other people to do".

#326 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 09:46 PM:

Teresa 319: To be fair, No Man's Land said exactly the same thing at 185. So the "One more time" isn't quite as off the wall as all that.

Not that that really changes anything.

#327 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 09:57 PM:

Teresa, #308: And by the way, my sense is that you're male, you're a professional writer, you feel ill done by with regard to the Hugos, your books sell well but tend not to be nominated for awards or praised for their artistry, and you've got a mad on for Redshirts.

And doesn't that sound like someone a couple of whose blog entries I was skimming not so very long ago? I do love watching a good profiler in action.

#328 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 09:58 PM:

Are people saying they’d be triggered by reading Vox Day’s elf-comes-to-Jesus story?

I get that someone who’s been through a miserable and/or traumatic experience can have that experience brought back to mind by reading (or seeing) something similar. Is that what we’re talking about in Vox Day’s case? Or is it mere distaste and anger at the author himself for his outrageous and irrational views?

Keep in mind, I’m not saying anyone (even Hugo voters) is under any obligation to read the elf-comes-to-Jesus story. I’ll defend to the death (maybe not my death, but someone’s) your right to not have to read something written by someone who writes like this. I’m just thinking that triggered-by-story and hate-the-author are (in my head, at least) two distinct issues, and they seem to be blurring together here. Maybe I’m wrong, and they’re inherently blurred-together issues.

As far as reading objectively goes, I don’t believe it’s humanly possible, so I don’t see much point in arguing over whether people should do it or not.

There’s also the separate question of whether we want to be in any way associated with such a vile person, even if he was a good writer. I can imagine voting for a lesser story merely to avoid giving an award to an unrepentant fascist.

#329 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 10:13 PM:

Avram, for me, it's that after all the horrible things he's said and done, I don't trust him not to bury some vicious attack in the middle of the story somewhere, disguised in the name of some creature or something.

Also, I think the story will be horrible. I'll probably read the first page, and see if it's better than "Eye of Argon," and if it is I'll have to make a decision.

#330 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 10:14 PM:

Abi @297:

I find the statement I was never trying to convince anyone but those playing at home interesting and telling.
He may think that. He's mistaken. And I'm sure as hell not going to broadcast his dogwhistle for him.
It was never about us. It was about the performance. That explains a lot.
Not a fan. He's the kind of jerk who thinks people like Serge, Abi, Fragano, P J Evans, Lee, Cassy, Xopher, Lenora Rose -- all of us, all the rest of us -- don't matter the way he does.

#331 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 10:23 PM:

Xopher @329, sure, but would that be triggering? Would you put that on the same level as someone having a PTSD reaction due to remembered abuse?

BTW, it’s funny you should bring up that example, “some vicious attack in the middle of the story somewhere, disguised in the name of some creature or something.” Stross did exactly that in Neptune’s Brood.

#332 ::: john, who is incognito and genuinely definitely not at work ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 10:32 PM:

Teresa @ 322 says "if he'd been here to talk as one human being to another, he wouldn't have been participating incognito."

I'm not sure if this is directed at me as well--probably just a coincidence of vocabulary?--but I figured the "definitely not at work" was clue enough for why I might be incognito on the occasions that I am. If it hasn't been clear what my other identity is, it's wbuabswnpx, using the email wbuabswnpx@tznvy.pbz. [View all by]

If this is a violation of community trust/mores/host wishes, I'll stop.

#333 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 10:46 PM:

Out of curiosity, I went and read Correia's post on this little "kerfluffle." It's quite enlightening. This is the key paragraph [bolds mine]:

I’ve said for a long time that the awards are biased against authors because of their personal beliefs. Authors can either cheer lead for left wing causes, or they can keep their mouth shut. Open disagreement is not tolerated and will result in being sabotaged and slandered. Message or identity politics has become far more important than entertainment or quality. I was attacked for saying this. I knew that when an admitted right winger got in they would be maligned and politicked against, not for the quality of their art but rather for their unacceptable beliefs.

Correia seems to hold that an author's beliefs ought to be out of bounds when judging their work. Never mind what we know about what the author believes, we ought to treat the work's content as totally independent, hermeneutically sealed off from its author. Yet it's not as if Correia doesn't think authors have politics--he's not shy about discussing his own. And it's not as if he doesn't think politics gets into the writing, given his distaste for "message or identity politics." So what is wrong about looking at an author's politics?

Here we see the origin of all the calls for "objective judgement." In the second bolded sentence Correia marks an absolute division between message and quality: the message of the work is "politics" and the quality is "art," and ne'er the twain shall meet. For Correia, the only true basis for judgement is a nebulously defined quality separate from politics, and anyone who claims otherwise is politicizing the conversation.

This is both sort of insane--imagine how one could even have an opinion of The Fountainhead without having an opinion about its politics--and also completely foreign to science fiction, which of all genres has an interest in politics right and left. To a significant extent how well it handles those politics, whether it sheds light or slings mud, is the art of sf. It's not just sf, of course: politics is an inextricable part of how we experience the world, and art is no exception.

It's a textbook example of how the question of where politics ends is itself an intensely political question: by drawing the boundaries of artistic judgement to exclude politics, he's engineered it so that anyone who dislikes his art because of its politics is automatically disqualified, while he gets to denounce whatever he pleases for "letting identity politics get in the way of story."

#334 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 10:57 PM:

I wasn't planning to but the events of recent days have prompted my purchase of a Supporting Membership to Loncon 3.

I am looking forward to forming my own opinions of the nominated works, and have already begun reading the shorter nominees freely available online. I don't think it is possible (certainly not for me) to divorce the artist from the art so some nominees will be starting at a disadvantage on my voting form.

(Apropos of this, one of our high flyers at a recent work celebration told of a promise she made to herself early in her career to only collaborate with nice and talented people; not just nice or talented, but both. It's a guiding principle she credits with her success. I found myself nodding in agreement.)

#335 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 10:59 PM:

332
We know you by your nym, and you've been around for a while. You're not doing a drive-by trolling to demonstrate your superior status.

#336 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 11:25 PM:

john, who is incognito and genuinely definitely not at work @332: I don't think that Teresa was addressing you. I recognize both your nyms, but had not previously connected them, so thanks for the heads-up -- I personally don't see any problem with using either or both, not that there's any reason why my opinion should carry any particular weight.

#337 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 11:52 PM:

I think there's a gulf of difference between a pseudonym meant to obfuscate any identity, and a pseudonym meant to establish a consistent and familiar-to-the-group identity but avoid links back to a workplace or a meatspace ID for various Reasons.

I, too, hadn't made the connection between both nyms. I guess I should have. Cool.

#338 ::: No Man's Land ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2014, 11:54 PM:

I will keep those things in mind, Mr. and Mrs. Nielsen Hayden :)


“Never mind what we know about what the author believes, we ought to treat the work's content as totally independent, hermeneutically sealed off from its author.”

YES! Absolutely. A person’s political ideology--left, right, center--has no bearing when judging the work of an artist, be it in film or literature.


“Yet it's not as if Correia doesn't think authors have politics.”



Correia is MOST acutely aware of the political landscape--he is saying whenever an author speaks their mind outside of their work, those messages are then used by the public or their peers as the means to hold him/her in contempt, thus seeping into their line of thinking when judging that work, when it ought to be distinct.


“For Correia, the only true basis for judgement is a nebulously defined quality separate from politics.”

Correia believes that certain sci-fi writers infuse a particular message in their work at the expense of the genre; he thinks that the message ought to be infused into the story IF the message is part of the story, and not the motivation to promote an agenda.

Of course, his “macho men” characters in his eyes ought to be the gold standard for the genre. Anything running counter to his ideals are in essence writing “message fiction”.

Dare I say those authors who veer right politically AND who veer left politically are equally guilty of this “nebulous” activity.


“he's engineered it so that anyone who dislikes his art because of its politics is automatically disqualified...”

Interesting, those criticizing Correia are also engaging exactly in the same conduct. The problem is that the confirmation bias is so thick you can cut it with a knife.

#339 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 12:18 AM:

No Man's Land: This is what the pure argument for intellectual objectivity sounds like to me (As someone who's mostly an unstabbed bystander):

You stab a person through the heart then demand they pay attention to the amusing story you're going to tell. They say "I'm bleeding out." You say, "Sorry, you still have to hear this story and judge it on its own merits. It's got nothing to do with the stabbing."

#340 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 12:28 AM:

Lenora Rose: Nicely said.

#341 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 12:40 AM:

“he's engineered it so that anyone who dislikes his art because of its politics is automatically disqualified...”

Interesting, those criticizing Correia are also engaging exactly in the same conduct. The problem is that the confirmation bias is so thick you can cut it with a knife.


The second statement, starting with the work "interesting", is false to fact.

Those criticising Correia are saying exactly that the work of the artist cannot be divorced from the political stance and social attitude, (and the reaction to others) that informs it and has input into it; that from this reasonable position it must necessarily follow that this political stance and social attitude is to be judged as part of the work itself.

To this, I would add the following in the specific case of the Hugos: that if that reasoning be adopted by any given Hugo voter, whether or not any other person accepted it, it would constitute an acceptable criterion for judging the award, as would any other that seemed good to the voter. This is because the Hugo is a statement of popular taste, and not a judicial apportionment of individual rights.

But even further: the general principle is that the artist does not have any input into the criteria by which the art is judged. The audience judges by whatever criteria seem good to the individuals comprising it. If the artist doesn't accept those criteria, too bad. The only solution is to take the work to another audience. Or wait until another one comes along, perhaps in a generation or two.

#342 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 01:17 AM:

Here's the deal for me:

Why should I vote to tell the rest of the world that SF is a place where the only difference between James White and Vox Day is their commercially published texts?

The awards we give out are are a giant signal saying "This is what we love, this is what we value, this is what we think is important."

Why the hell am I supposed to lie about what those things are?

Why have I not been flaming hairless people who refer to the bizarre text-only voting protocol they're trying to push on me as "honest"? It's obvious they're suggesting that doing anything else is dishonest.

The way they want me to vote is not honest. It's not how I think. Nor is it how I've ever voted. Nor is it how most of fandom has thought, or how it's voted, year after year, for many decades.

Why am I supposed to put up with being headtripped about my "objectivity" by people whose publishing history is aligned, shall we say, with more explicit political agenda-pushing than you'll find at any other house in the genre?

Why is Making Light getting hectored by a much too self-confident idjit who can't figure out why there isn't a 1:1 correspondence between book sales numbers and Hugo votes?

Where does anyone get off demanding that I be "fair" to Vox Day, a man who's fair to no one? Who publishes articles like "The Inevitability of Segregation" and "Why Women Can't Think"? Who launched a viciously racist attack on Nora Jemisin?

Our field is going through an amazing period of short-story writing. I'm willing to believe Vox Day's story is good, maybe even the best thing he's ever written (which isn't saying much). But a singularly radiant and indispensable touchstone of all that is good in our genre? In all fairness, I doubt it.

In fact, I think it's fair to speculate that the story's being used as a stalking horse by a winger political faction within SFWA that resents the organization's surprisingly non-ineffectual fight against racism and sexual harassment the last couple of years. A Hugo for horrible racist misogynist Vox Day would certainly reset that counter to zero.

Or maybe it's something else.

And one more truth: everyone on both sides of this argument has a carefully tended and highly sophisticated ability to judge a book without reading it. We all do that. So why are they suddenly acting like it's something new and horrible? They've been judging books without reading them all their lives.

I am not buying any of this.

#343 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 01:47 AM:

Avram 331: I wasn't referring to Stross, as I'm sure you know, and I haven't read Neptune's Brood.

There are all different levels of triggering.

#344 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 02:10 AM:

I don't know that it matters whether someone actually, genuinely triggers while reading. Sometimes the reader is just waiting for somethig triggering. Then, even if nothing appears, they've still spent all that time and energy dreading. And sometimes the miasma of the context just makes the whole book a massive, tiresome drag, even if one doesn't expect to actually trigger.

Both of these are totally legitimate reasons to react the way one does to a work.

Also, john, I made a little pleased noise in my throat when I clicked on your (view all by). The only way it's bad is that the quantity of people I like in the world has diminished by one, since you're not two separate people. (It's still a very large quantity, though; it can take the dimunition.)

#345 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 02:31 AM:

John @332, I have no problem with your participation under your current handle. Do please stick around.

No Man's Land @338: Okay, so that's what Larry Correia thinks.

Trouble is, he's wrong about how literature works, and how writers build meaning into it. The political beliefs he perceives as "messages" wedged willy-nilly into the defenseless story are, as near as I can tell, political beliefs he disagrees with. Political beliefs he finds congenial are perceived as well-integrated elements, organic parts of the stories in which they occur.

He's got the wrong end of the stick. The relationship between an author's assumptions about the universe and the story they tell is not a characteristic that's separable from "quality." It's an expression of how the writer thinks the universe works, and what they expect will happen in it. Call it a sense of causality.

A person's sense of causality is not separable from their political views. Instead, it's worked into the foundations of their experience of literature.

Editing is literary criticism on the test track. I learned about the immutability of the sense of causality when I was supervising copyediting at Tor. One copyeditor's disastrous continuity problem ("The guy's wife is a major character throughout the first third of the book, then completely vanishes") is another's non-issue ("He was rescuing her from the bad guys during the first third of the book, but after that she was back at home, so there was no need to mention her").

Here's how I see it: if Correia literally can't see how a story that's alien to his own sense of politics and causality can nevertheless be an expression of its author's sense of those things, then his only appropriate option is to take other writers at their word. He has to accept that they really do perceive the things they perceive, and that the stories they tell are an honest expression of that worldview.

If instead he keeps criticizing his fellow authors as dishonest, or accuses them of pursuing inappropriate political agendas -- in effect, insisting that what they think and write is objectively wrong because he can't see what they're doing -- then he's just going to stir up anger and resentment, and it will be his fault.

#346 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 03:44 AM:

Dave Luckett: @341:

Those criticising Correia are saying exactly that the work of the artist cannot be divorced from the political stance and social attitude, (and the reaction to others) that informs it and has input into it; that from this reasonable position it must necessarily follow that this political stance and social attitude is to be judged as part of the work itself.
My practical experience is that the artist's work can't be divided from the artist's politics. Working relationships are an expression of how one party reads the other's work. Some writers are never so good as when they're being critiqued by a particular editor or beta reader or spouse. If you have a mismatch between a copyeditor and an author, that copyeditor will honestly and dutifully perceive a somewhat different set of errors than another copyeditor would. There've been comic books whose underlying premises only really worked when the right artist was drawing them.

Have you ever read Deus Irae by Philip K. Dick and Roger Zelazny? They just didn't mesh. You can hear the gears grinding all the way through that thing, except for the scene with the dog.

Readers will judge the politics. There's no way to keep that from happening. They may perceive it as (for instance) the difference between a strikingly original, a satisfactory, and a cop-out ending; but they will judge.

I can't see that as wholly bad. Here's an example: I hate it when a promising skiffy book ends with that stupid mainstream thing about how there can never be new answers to old problems, so for those trying to transcend the old answer set, it comes down to a choice between madness and death. Bleah! I want the ending where the character invents a completely unanticipated third answer, in a cave, from a box of scraps.

I won't take it well if someone tells me I have to believe that a madness-or-death dichotomy ending is just as good as, or superior to, a wildly-different-third-answer ending, because the madness-or-death ending is characteristic of the author's worldview. I can at most learn to see and understand that that ending grows out of a particular set of beliefs (which it does).

I do this all the time. I think we all do it. In Doyle & Macdonald's Mageworlds books, spacefaring civilization would grind to a halt if ships that have just made planetfall didn't stop to fill out a heap of paperwork. Spacefarers in series by other writers get along without the paperwork. Spontaneous peasant uprisings may succeed in many fantasy universes, but not in Westeros or Dragaera, where the authors know rather too much about the history of peasant uprisings. As readers, we pass from one to another, switching logics as we go.

Stretch it too far, though, and we break, snarling in irritation. That's the basic malfunction in Mary Sue fiction -- not the being good at everything, or the color-changing eyes, but having causality liquefy every time Ensign Mary Sue is near. Ayn Rand's causality is also weird: holding certain principles can strongly affect your competence. And so forth. Enough bad causality makes a dent in my reading pleasure.

The only general solution I know is to become a better reader. The Hugos work in part because their rules accommodate the widest possible range of reading protocols. Changing that is almost certain to be a mess.

#347 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 04:14 AM:

In reading back over some old threads, I found the following comment in "Report on the Current Cultural Status of Our Beloved Genre", from 2007. The context is a discussion of Anthony Trollope and the racism expressed in some of his works.

I believe that your lack of reaction to Trollope's racism is in part because your own ox was not gored. My own personal reaction to Trollope is ambivalent; I recognize his writing talent, and the value of his social observations, but I am reluctant to pay much respect to him because he gored my ox; see "The Way We Live Now" and its treatment of Jews.

Maybe that's the difference between your reaction and mine: you feel a greater need to recognize artistic merit without judging the artist against your own scruples. I can respect that attitude, but I believe it is important for us all to respect ________'s refusal to make judgments in that way.

The entire conversation is well worth reading, and resonates strongly with the discussion we're having here about whether or not it's possible to separate a writer's work from their politics -- only without a sock-puppet stirring the pot, and therefore more globally instructive.

#348 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 07:14 AM:

John A Arkansawyer @323:

Janra is right. The keyword is exhortation. Saying you read that way? Super-cool. Interesting. Leads to interesting perspectives; bring 'em to the table.

Saying everyone else must read that way? Saying it's the One True Way? Entirely different thing. Also, not what you do, in my experience.

#349 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 08:15 AM:

(You know what I would love? adore? enjoy the heck out of? A genuine Larry Correia fan coming here and enthusing about the work. Taking about what it is, not what it is not; talking about why they love it rather than why they hate Librul SF and the Libruls who read it.

And that is the difference between Correia and Day, in my view. I can't picture a Day fan doing that and making it work.)

#350 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 08:32 AM:

Why would I give my beer money for a great tale, knowing that in doing so I enrich someone who's a jerk? Not that I drink beer, mind you, or bheer, or tranya, or Romulan ale.

#351 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 08:42 AM:

Abi --

One of my Art History profs defined "sentiment" as the difference between liking a painting of cows because you like the way it's painted, and liking a painting of cows because you like cows. (My impression was that he didn't object to people liking cows for cows' sake, but he was iffy about some of the art it led them to hang on their walls.)

Anyway.

I can easily imagine Larry Correia's fans liking his work for the way his cows are painted; but I think a lot of Theodore Beale's fans like the idea of Vox Day more than they like the writing of Vox Day.

#352 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 08:47 AM:

TNH @ 342: Why am I supposed to put up with being headtripped about my "objectivity" by people whose publishing history is aligned, shall we say, with more explicit political agenda-pushing than you'll find at any other house in the genre?

This is what makes the whole thing so funny to me, and yet so reminiscent of darker events in the larger world.

abi @ 348: Also, not what you do, in my experience.

Thanks. I'm only speaking for how I look at things. I'm not saying anyone else must.

#353 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 09:00 AM:

A local would-be politician owns restaurants. I really like the restaurants. I dislike the local would-be politician's politics.

So, every election season, when he decides to throw his hat, yet again, into the electoral ring (he generally loses, but that doesn't stop him. I'll give him credit for persistence, anyway) I sigh (it's a genuine sigh; they're *good* restaurants) and stop patronizing his establishments until the election. Because the restaurants are good, but they support the campaign of a person whose politics I feel are divisive and harmful.

Should I separate the food from the politics? Perhaps in some ideal world, but in this one, I don't want my restaurant check going to the campaign fund of someone I don't want elected. (He self-finances, so this really isn't farfetched.)

We patronize... or don't.... restaurants for many reasons, not all of which have to do with the excellence of the food. I submit that we vote for Hugos likewise.

#354 ::: N Mn's Lnd ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 09:10 AM:

Lnr, wth ll d rspct, y crtd n nlgy, n tht fts YR wrldvw. W r nt tlkng bt sm drngd prsn n cty strt wh rndmly slcs nd dcs ppl, nd thn sys, “Hy, dd y hr th n bt...”

W r tlkng bt thrs wh prt frm tw sphrs--n prsnl nd n prfssnl. m mplyd n dvrtsng. My bsss knw my pltcl prssn. Yt, dspt thr wn prjdcs, thy r bl t bjctvly jdg my wrk, vn f thy ssm frly r nfrly thr s “hddn” gnd r spcfc pnt f vw m tryng t prmt. Wht thy cr bt MST s “hw d fl ftr wtchng tht cmmrcl r rdng tht mgzn dvrtsmnt”. S, f crs, n’s pltcl dlgy my sp nt thr wrk, nd ppl ( thnk wrngly) wll jdg t slly frm tht prsm.

Hwvr, whn t cms t ltrry wrds nd thr lgtmcy, blv th ppl vtng shld hnstly nd srsly ccnt thr wn prjdcs nd rvw th wrk frm prdtrmnd ltrry stndrds. Wht m syng s tht thr wn bs n pltcl mttrs ght t hv lttl d wth th mtns gnrtd by th rdr bsd n hw n thr crfts thr stry nd dvlps thr chrctrs.



Thrs...

“Th dnc jdgs by whtvr crtr sm gd t th ndvdls cmprsng t.”

f th dnc r n’s prs, n ths cs thrs, th crtr s bsd n bjctv ltrry stndrds, nt prsnl stndrds.

f th dnc s th gnrl pblc, sr, nythng gs. Thn th wrd s ttrly mnnglss frm crtcl vltn prspctv.



“Th wrds w gv t r r gnt sgnl syng "Ths s wht w lv, ths s wht w vl, ths s wht w thnk s mprtnt."

nd wh s “w”? prtclr grp f thrs n th gnr? (Lghs) th “Pnk Sc-F Brgd” r th “Bl Sc-F ngls”? xctly why sm sc-f rdrs shk thr cllctv hds nd sy, “Grw p, lds nd gntlmn, grw p”.


“Why m sppsd t pt p wth bng hdtrppd bt my "bjctvty" by ppl whs pblshng hstry s lgnd, shll w sy, wth mr xplct pltcl gnd-pshng thn y'll fnd t ny thr hs n th gnr?”


Lt s nt kd rslvs, BTH gnds r hghly chrgd wth thr rhtrc nd r pshd wth frcty by THR sd. n gnd s nt mr r lss “xplct” thn th thr.

“Whr ds nyn gt ff dmndng tht b "fr" t Vx Dy, mn wh's fr t n n? Wh pblshs rtcls lk "Th nvtblty f Sgrgtn" nd "Why Wmn Cn't Thnk"? Wh lnchd vcsly rcst ttck n Nr Jmsn?”

Y dn't hv t b fr frm prsnl stndpnt. Fr frm ltrry prspctv? bsltly.


“ Hg fr hrrbl rcst msgynst Vx Dy wld crtnly rst tht cntr t zr.”



ctlly, t wld thrghly dmnstrt tht hs wrk ws trly jdgd by ts mrts rthr thn hs xtrmly rdcl pstns. t wld g lng wy t “prv” tht ths n th lft wh clm thy r mr “nclsv” thn ths n th rght prctc wht thy prch.


“S why r thy sddnly ctng lk t's smthng nw nd hrrbl?

Rplc “thy” wth “vryn”.


“Thy'v bn jdgng bks wtht rdng thm ll thr lvs.”



Thn tht prsn lcks th qlfctns n ths prtclr crcmstnc t vt fr n wrd.

#355 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 09:19 AM:

It seems worth mentioning the opening of Galactic Patrol here. When I first read the book, the triggers in those first few pages were not obvious to me. 75 years later, they may not be obvious to you. It's the graduation of the new Lensmen, the elite of the Galactic Patrol.

There's a military parade, of incredible precision.

The uniforms are black.

Then, with my interests in history, I saw photographs from the time the book was written and first published. Black uniforms and precise military drill, in 1938. And, more than the photographs there is a movie, Triumph of the Will.

They're strong images, and an author who uses them doesn't have to be a Nazi, but it leaves me sensitised to other issues. It's set within a military organisation which is fighting a war, so the authoritarianism isn't out of place, but...

Well, there are good alternatives. But some of those triggers are echoed by some modern Military SF. The authoritarianism is spread outside the military context. The idea of the evil liberal seems an eerie American echo of the Nazis, part of an exceptionalist blindness in American politics.

None of us had to live in a state controlled by the terrorism of the Gestapo. We all had a chance to choose.

I look at the world today, and the TV seems to be yelling at me that I should go shopping.

At least we sometimes get a Miles Vorkosigan.

#356 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 09:24 AM:

No Mans Land @354, the ONLY qualifications for voting on the Hugo ballot is caring enough about SF (and having enough resources) to buy a Worldcon membership. That's it. Nothing more, nothing less. If you think otherwise, you're not living in the world as it actually exists.

Nobody has to read every work. Hell, they don't have to read ANY of the works; they can vote on whether they like the title. <wry> They certainly do not have to conform to your personal standards for voting; YOU have to conform to your personal standards, but nobody else does. They have to conform to their own personal standards, which may or may not be anything like yours.

And I would not fault a person of African descent finding, say, Heinlein's Farnham's Freehold not Hugo-worthy because of the racist content of the work, however good the writing may be. That's their judgment, and they have the right to make it. Just like you have the right to ignore the racist content if you so wish.

This isn't a juried award. Hugo voters aren't juries. We're fans. And as all fans do, we vote for works we LIKE. For whatever reason.

#357 ::: Simon Smith ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 09:30 AM:

I'm English, and fairly right-wing for the UK (although mostly not socially).
I've not read any Larry Correia so I can't wax enthusiastic about him. I think his blog is well written, though, and will try one of his book soon. I have read a Vox Day book; it was OK but I haven't bought any more. His blog is a bit too strident for my taste. OSC - some excellent stuff but I just got bored of him and haven't read anything of his for years.

Charles Stross, Iain M Banks, Brust, and Len McCloud are at or near the top of my list of authors, yet I really do disagree with their politics quite vehemently. I'm happy to keep giving them money (sadly, not Iain any more), some at least of which they'll spend on propagating their horrible beliefs.

Beyond these 6, I really don't know the politics of most authors I read, and in fact really really don't give a stuff.
Is it a good book? That's the only thing I care about.

#358 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 09:50 AM:

It would go a long way to "prove" that those on the left who claim they are more "inclusive" than those on the right practice what they preach.

First, this is a "heads I win, tails you lose". If the Right-Thinking Person doesn't get the award, it "proves" that the Wrong-Thinking People are WRONGITY WRONG WRONG. If he does, it still "proves" that the Wrong-Thinking People are WRONGITY WRONG WRONG, just about different things. Not taking that bait, TYVM.

Second, this is the "if you're so TOLERANT, then why aren't you tolerant of my intolerance?" troll argument, which is completely morally invalid. If accepted, it gives all the power to the bullies and bigots, and leaves the bullied with no recourse... which is why it's so frequently deployed by bullies. Tolerance is a two-way street; stop talking about the "Pink Brigade" and the rest of that rot, and perhaps people will be more inclined to ignore your own political agenda. Which, BTW, you have just openly acknowledged, in the teeth of your claim not to have one. Too bad.

Oh, and also: "predetermined literary standards"? I'm sure every academic reading this just fell off their chair laughing. There ain't no such animal.

#359 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 09:55 AM:

No Man's Land@354:

However, when it comes to literary awards and their legitimacy, I believe the people voting should honestly and seriously account their own prejudices

I think it is always worth being aware of one's own biases. I know that the literary community that Making Light is part of spends a lot of time talking about them: assumptions about gender, sex, politics, economics, society, etc.

I haven't seen that kind of awareness in large doses from the community you're coming from; you seem to think that you have achieved a kind of Olympian detachment, from which your criticisms of "the pink brigade" derive some kind of abstract legitimacy. But from where I'm sitting, it's just another set of prejudices, equally political, but mistaken for objective reality.

and review the work from predetermined literary standards.

Determined by whom? How do you know there won't be biases baked into those standards?

Let us not kid ourselves, BOTH agendas are highly charged with their rhetoric and are pushed with ferocity by EITHER side. One agenda is not more or less “explicit” than the other.

There are two major problems with "the other guys are doing it, and that's my excuse" arguments, both of which are much in evidence over at Correia's blog.

1. It makes you very much other-focused. Instead of asking "should I be doing this thing? Is it the right thing? Does it make me smarter, wiser, or more joyful? Does it make the world a better place?" you ask, "can I blame the other guys for it?" It's not a test that selects for good or useful actions.

2. It tends toward needless escalation. An insult from one's own side to the other always has less sting than an insult from the other side. So people ratchet up their own behavior to match the perceived offense. If you get two sides doing it, well, kaboom.

I look at Correia's blog post, and it's full of how The Other Guys are gonna hate this, how they're keepin' us down, and how fun it is to make their heads explode. Externally focused, escalating. Sending ginned-up twits over here, where they then troll, argue, and piss all over the carpets. I haven't gone back to see if they're doing the traditional "got one over on the Libruls" dance, mostly because it's really boring and immature. I couldn't possibly care less without being clinically dead.

Because I'm interested in what's going on here: how we can become smarter, wiser and more joyful. Can we learn useful things from this conversation? Does it add to our understanding of the world? Do I, personally, come out of it changed?

And, yes, will it add to my understanding of the things I'll be voting on for the Hugos?

#360 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 09:59 AM:

Simon Smith @357:

Sounds like you have a workable approach. Super.

What do you like in a work? What are your favorites, that you go back to again and again? What do you wish you could read for the first time all over again?

One of the things I enjoyed about Ancillary Justice was that it rang my Iain M Banks Culture bells in a lot of ways. Obviously, it depends whether the aspects of the Culture novels that work for me work for you, but it's definitely on my "recommend to Banks fans" list.

#361 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 10:03 AM:

No Man's Land wrote: "If the audience is the general public, sure, anything goes. Then the award is utterly meaningless from a critical evaluation perspective."

The audience, by which I think you mean voters, is the World Science Fiction Society. And as to the Hugo Award's meaningfulness, all I can say is that it's clearly the most influential award in SF insofar as it's the one that I understand boosts sales the most, making the larger audience "people who buy SF works".

TNH wrote: 
“The awards we give out are are a giant signal saying "This is what we love, this is what we value, this is what we think is important."

No Man's Land wrote: "And who is “we”? A particular group of authors in the genre? (Laughs) the “Pink Sci-Fi Brigade” or the “Blue Sci-Fi Angels”? Exactly why some sci-fi readers shake their collective heads and say, “Grow up, ladies and gentlemen, grow up”."

"We" is the World Science Fiction Society, of course. What makes you think it's authors? I'd be willing to bet that a majority of those who vote for the Hugos are not professionally published authors. I suspect the award you're thinking of is the Nebulas. In any case, "some sci-fi readers" ALWAYS shake their collective heads at award nominations and winners. Just as some movie fans always shake their collective heads at Oscar winners, and so on and so on.

#362 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 10:04 AM:

No Man's Land @ 354: “A Hugo for horrible racist misogynist Vox Day would certainly reset that counter to zero.”



Actually, it would thoroughly demonstrate that his work was truly judged by its merits rather than his extremely radical positions. It would go a long way to “prove” that those on the left who claim they are more “inclusive” than those on the right practice what they preach.

Would it? If the contention that the Hugos are sufficiently manipulable is true, then it might also simply demonstrate a case of them being manipulated. This pinball machine is being played pretty hard already, don't you think?

I've been thinking a lot lately about "inclusiveness" and other social justice questions. I'm sympathetic to the goals and up for trying the methods, having experienced life with people working at doing so. I expect these methods to fail, but fail better than the last run at it.

There's a lot I'd say about that, if I had the time.

#363 ::: John A Arkansawyer did a bad job previewing ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 10:06 AM:

Let's try #362 again:

No Man's Land @ 354: "A Hugo for horrible racist misogynist Vox Day would certainly reset that counter to zero."

Actually, it would thoroughly demonstrate that his work was truly judged by its merits rather than his extremely radical positions. It would go a long way to “prove” that those on the left who claim they are more “inclusive” than those on the right practice what they preach.

Would it? If the contention that the Hugos are sufficiently manipulable is true, then it might also simply demonstrate a case of them being manipulated. This pinball machine is being played pretty hard already, don't you think?

I've been thinking a lot lately about "inclusiveness" and other social justice questions. I'm sympathetic to the goals and up for trying the methods, having experienced life with people working at doing so. I expect these methods to fail, but fail better than the last run at it.

There's a lot I'd say about that, if I had the time.

#364 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 10:14 AM:

abi @ #349:

I can write about Larry Correia's "Monster Hunter International" and "Grimnoir" series.

The MHI books are somewhat intelligent "modern day fantasy", with a lot of Big Honking Guns and the occasional super-competent female character (although most of the super-competent characters are male, I think the proportion is about 75%-80% male). They are heavily focused on guns, but get them right.

The "Grimnoir" books are similarly an interesting twist on the "supers" sub-genre of fantastic fiction, set in an alternate 1930s.

However, I can't (anymore) wax lyrically about them, because, well, Larry Correia.

#365 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 10:32 AM:

TNH wrote: “A Hugo for horrible racist misogynist Vox Day would certainly reset that counter to zero.”



No Man's Land wrote: "Actually, it would thoroughly demonstrate that his work was truly judged by its merits rather than his extremely radical positions. It would go a long way to “prove” that those on the left who claim they are more “inclusive” than those on the right practice what they preach."

Not if it was an actually badly (or even merely adequately) written work, it wouldn't. Then it would only "prove" that something weird was going on with the Hugo voters. You know, like "They'd Rather Be Right" still has people shaking their heads 60 years later.

Do you, personally, think the "objective quality" (whatever that means) of the writing of Day's novelette is at the very top of the SF field right now? Because you know what? I've not seen a single advocate of Day's work actually advocate FOR THE WORK. AS the work. Explaining why they think it's the greatest novelette published last year. All I've seen is political screeds about how awful the people are who won't vote for it. Not even about how bad their TASTE is in novelettes, just how bad their POLITICS are.

#366 ::: Simon Smith ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 10:35 AM:

abi @360

Many favourites. In no particular order, Erikson, Bujold, Banks, Brust, Tepper, Asher, Cherryh, Glen Cook, J C Grimwood, Fforde, Rosemary Kirstein....

I think what makes me stick with a book is an interesting character doing cool things. What's an interesting character? What's cool thing? Got me.

#367 ::: dh ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 10:45 AM:

of the writing of Day's novelette is at the very top of the SF field right now

Why we would bother with that? It has been made *very* clear that we must not only be excluded, we must be openly shunned.

There are a LOT of people out there who think that homosexuals can't marry, or be good citizens. I don't believe women should have the right or opportunity to vote. I believe many, or most, mixed-races are genetically inferior to my own race.

But the point is, you have made it quite clear that all of things preclude me or any author I enjoy, from being recognized without regard for what the work is.

So why bother flogging a horse that's dead and decayed? If the standard is "some people are so bad by my own compass that they can't produce award winning work", then so be it. But you can't complain after the fact that there wasn't an army of us flogging the dead horse.

#368 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 10:51 AM:

Simon @366:

Given that list, I'd recommend you try out both Ancillary Justice and Up Against It by Morgan J Locke. Knowing even less than you do what makes a character cool for you, or a thing interesting, I can't say whethet they'd work, but they're two that feel like they're in that space for me.

What was your favorite Bujold book?

Given that from your list I tend toward Bujold, Banks, Cherryh and Fforde, do you have any recommendations from Erikson, Cook or Kirstein (authors I haven't tried)?

(Don't know when I'll get to them, since I have a Hugo pack coming, but it's always interesting to get recommendations.)

#369 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 10:53 AM:

The sock drawer is now showing the angry socks.

#370 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 10:54 AM:

DH @267,

So? That's your politics, and you are entitled to your political views. I may disagree (in fact, I strongly disagree), but it infuses your view of the world and therefore influences the works of literature you enjoy. I strongly suspect you'd not enjoy a work about (say) a lesbian mixed-race politician, no matter how well written, because it clashes strongly with your worldview.

Do you see how (say) a lesbian mixed-race politician who happens to be a Hugo voter might dislike a work or literature that espouses your political views, regardless of how well you may think it is written?

You can't separate political views from social views from esthetic views from emotional resonances; humans are complex mixtures of motivations ALL of which inform one's personal tastes.

And that's what the Hugos are, when it comes down to it: a referendum on the personal tastes of a few thousand SF readers.

#371 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 10:54 AM:

dh @367:

Your comment, and your martyrdom, are noted.

#372 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 10:56 AM:

Tellya what, dh, if you're going to say in public that you don't think women should have the right to vote, DAMN FUCKING RIGHT I'm going to shun you, and furthermore I will refuse to associate with anyone who doesn't. In fact, I'd very much appreciate it if you'd tell me who you are in RL so I can shun you properly should I ever have the misfortune to encounter you.

Just, you know, fyi.

#373 ::: Aquinas Dad ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 11:01 AM:

Lead in-
Communism is a socio-political ideology that has led directly to the deaths of millions and indirectly to the deaths over 100 million people in the 20th Century. Communism is tied to the most oppressive, murderous, tyrannical regimes in history.
Person in Question-
China Mieville. An avowed, exuberant Communist, member of a Communist Party that openly called for violent struggle, and founder of another openly Communist political party there can be no denial in any way that he fully embraces the most destructive political concept known to history.
The honest question-
Are you aware of anyone complaining when he was nominated for a Hugo?

#374 ::: dh ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 11:05 AM:

"And that's what the Hugos are, when it comes down to it: a referendum on the personal tastes of a few thousand SF readers."

I think that's probably a really fair definition of the Hugo's. I've been a voter, I think for 16 years (it may be 15), and I've been to several [Japan, by far, amazing..].

But I've always read the entire slate for any category I voted. I routinely do not vote in all categories if I can't make the time to read them all. This year's WoT debacle will be difficult, I've not made it more than a few volumes into the series. So I will probably not vote in that category.

The difference between me and the many out there who can't read a work that they don't agree with is that I can quite deftly separate the world as it is, from the world of fiction. A book with a mix-race person does not both me, or give me PTSD, or any of that. I've been physically attacked on the street before, and was it quite unpleasant. But reading the work that include street violence aren't going to be off the list, or be automatically blacklisted, or send me into fits of rage. I've read them all, and voted for the best in each category. [Or No Award, when thought that was appropriate].

I think the conclusion I can draw is that if there is no pretense even of the "work" being what is voted on, if the standard is now "I am voting for my favorite combination of author, work, and politics, and the work part is optional", I think that's completely fine. I just think it will continue the decline of the Hugo's importance. There are plenty of awards you can get for having the right politics. The authors promoting this standard may end up regretting turning dumping the pretense of "literary merit", judged by the individual voter. Turning it into a popularity contest always seems like a smart idea right up until the floodgates open and all sorts of "others" rush through.

#375 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 11:09 AM:

I liked Xopher's distinction above, about places where he would and would not feel bound to ignore someone's politics or recuse himself from considering some question. For example, if you're on a jury in someone's murder trial, his objectionable politics should not change your weighing of the evidence, and if you can't weigh the evidence objectively, you should not be on a jury for this person. And part of Xopher's argument, echoed by abi and Teresa, is that voting for a Hugo is not really like serving on a jury, and it's perfectly appropriate to take external stuff like politics or religion into consideration in your vote for the Hugo winner. I'm not sure how much I agree (but then, I've never voted for a Hugo, so my opinion probably doesn't count), but it's a pretty reasonable position.

I think there's also an important distinction between the political/social/moral views of a writer that show through in their work, and the ones that they express outside their work. It wouldn't make sense to read Rand or Heinlein or Banks and *not* take some notice of the subset of their political views that impact the books--that's a big part of their writing. But that's pretty different from what they did or believed outside of their writing. Nothing in Atlas Shrugged would tell me about Rand's rather nasty interactions with her much younger followers, or her participation in the holywood blacklists of communists. It's not possible for me to read her books without knowing those things now, yet those things aren't directly relevant to the book. My guess is that most authors and artists have some nasty beliefs and ideas and history, especially as you look back further into the past, where the socially acceptable nasty beliefs were different. Looking for reasons to reject authors or artists outside their art seems like a good way to miss out on a lot of good art. (Though I probably wouldn't be able to stomach, say, a clever comedy of manners written by Joeseph Stalin.)

I have two big qualms about judging art by the external actions of the artist:

a. At a personal level, it means I will miss out on ideas that challenge mine, and on some really good art. I suspect I have more taste than most people for contrary opinions, but (for example) I'm a Catholic who enjoys books by people like Banks, who pretty much drip contempt for religion. Refusing to read books by people who disagree with me on as fundamental a question as whether religion is inherently just delusional nonsense would probably not make me a better or smarter person.

B. At a global level, when authors get judged on their extracurricular political activities, we create a world where authors have to be really careful to manage their extracurricular political activities to be acceptable to their audience. That leaves us with a world with fewer people willing to express unpopular ideas, and a narrower range of opinions being expressed. It would be a remarkable coincidence if all the opinions not expressed as a result of this were bad ones, or all the opinions mouthed by all right thinking people as part of the cost of admission of being an acceptable person were good ones.

#376 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 11:09 AM:

No Man's Land: thank you for contributing to the conversation.

I have a question for you.

You suggest that there are already existing "objective" literary standards out there, against which a given piece of fiction can/should be judged. I do wonder where you think these standards might be found. I think you would agree that there is a difference between: "this is an intelligible piece of writing" (The Eye of Argon is intelligible) and "this is a good piece of writing". The issue for all of us, in talking about awards, is: how do we define a "good" piece of writing.

Abi suggests that "does it make the world a better place" and "does it make me wiser, smarter, more joyful" are legitimate standards by which one can judge the quality of a work of fiction. Again, I think you would not argue that different people will answer these and similar questions differently about the same piece of writing. There is no way to apply these standards objectively, because "wiser, smarter, more joyful" can only be calibrated internally. So my question to you is, Would you accept or reject the legitimacy of abi's standards, or similarly phrased standards? If I say, A piece of fiction writing, to be good, must (in addition to other qualities) increase my knowledge of the world, is that an acceptable standard by which to judge the literary quality of a piece of writing, in your eyes? Or is it too subjective, and therefore not legitimate?

#377 ::: dh ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 11:10 AM:

Yeah, Carrie, it's well established you and I are not going to see eye to eye.

I would assume you would be happy that we would both agree that it's pointless for me to come try to convince you that it is not in society's best interests to continue allowing women to vote. And I assure you, that your bold face declaration to shun me and all that business is not going to change my mind.

So where does it leave us? Nowhere.

Just don't say "well, he didn't bother to try to convince me, so he obviously doesn't believe it to be true". The battle lines are drawn. At some point trash talking becomes pointless.

#378 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 11:17 AM:

DH @374,

I think the conclusion I can draw is that if there is no pretense even of the "work" being what is voted on, if the standard is now "I am voting for my favorite combination of author, work, and politics, and the work part is optional", I think that's completely fine. I just think it will continue the decline of the Hugo's importance. There are plenty of awards you can get for having the right politics. The authors promoting this standard may end up regretting turning dumping the pretense of "literary merit", judged by the individual voter. Turning it into a popularity contest always seems like a smart idea right up until the floodgates open and all sorts of "others" rush through.

Except, of course, I don't see anyone advocating for not reading the whole Hugo slate. Even people who strongly dislike (say) Day's politics have said that they would at least TRY to read the novelette.

Nobody is saying the work is optional. They're just saying that one's opinion of the work is inevitably colored by one's opionion of the author.

Case in point: when I was about 18 years old I was backed into a corner and screamed at by Jerry Pournelle. I was never able to truly enjoy a Pournelle work as much after that experience.

As a stronger example, someone who has been raped may react very badly to a story in which someone is raped. Especially if the person being raped is written as enjoying the experience. I know people who were physically unable to read the Thomas Covenant novels past the point where Covenant rapes a woman.

Part of the work, that you don't seem to be understanding, is the understanding that the READER brings to the work. A book is the interaction between the words by the writer and the imagination (colored by the experience) of the reader. That's why everyone has their own favorite book, and what I love may be what you hate. There is no objective standard, because BY DEFINITION we're voting on a subjective standard: "What this work made me feel." (Happy, angry, thoughtful, irritated, intrigued.)

If you want an "objective" standard of the "work", without any pesky interactions with actual, you know, readers, you might as well feed the stories into a computer and let it judge instead.

TL/DR summary: Nice straw man you have there.

#379 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 11:18 AM:

What is this dh and what rock did he crawl out from under? Folks, we have a outright bigot here. Get out the popcorn and watch Idumea fire up the flamethrower.

#381 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 11:25 AM:

To dh: this is Teresa and Patrick's house. You just took a dump in the middle of the living room.

To everyone else: I've got some hard cider; it goes well with popcorn.

#382 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 11:26 AM:

I'm still pissed off that Saul Bellow got a Nobel Prize and Grahame Greene didn't. Bellow is real good, don't get me wrong, but Greene is special. That had a lot to with Greene's politics and with politics in general.

#383 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 11:27 AM:

Lizzy L, do you happen to have any "soft" cider? Here, have some cheesy-popcorn....

#384 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 11:30 AM:

I would assume you would be happy that we would both agree that it's pointless for me to come try to convince you that it is not in society's best interests to continue allowing women to vote.

Honestly? I'd be delighted to watch you try that; the entertainment value would be huge. Sadly, I don't have my bingo cards handy and it's not my living room anyway.

I have to admit that you get points for being a well-spoken, reasonably polite bigot. You can even punctuate! It makes me wonder what's gone wrong.

#385 ::: dh ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 11:30 AM:

Anne--

I would just like to say that the world is filled with bigots. This is a really small community, and it seems very nice. I have no interest in trying to convince anyone of anything, I am simply responding to the claim that people who [may] vote for Day work are not out here trying to convince you nice folks how great it is because we have been told repeatedly that we are not welcome here, in polite society, or anywhere. I've been to a number of Worldcon's and a voter for a long time, and that's my only involvement in the discussion. It is not reasonable to say, as a previous poster did, that even Day's readers don't think his work is worthy of the prize because they aren't out defending it. We aren't defending it because it's pointless when

Casey--

I took TNH's comment

"And one more truth: everyone on both sides of this argument has a carefully tended and highly sophisticated ability to judge a book without reading it. We all do that. So why are they suddenly acting like it's something new and horrible? They've been judging books without reading them all their lives."

To mean that it's acceptable to judge the book without reading them, it's something that's done every day.

I really am not aware that anyone is telling anyone to read everything, cover to cover, to have an opinion. TNH has stated that you can judge a book without reading it, and it's done all the time, and it's acceptable. If that is the case, I would not agree with that statement as a general proposition. I think it's fairly straight forward that you should read what you are voting on "if" it's a literary award. Otherwise what are we voting on? If it's not a literary award, I think that's also fine. There are lot of awards you can get for things other than writing, and if the Hugo is one of them, so be it.

#386 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 11:31 AM:

Cassy B. @ 378: There is no objective standard, because BY DEFINITION we're voting on a subjective standard: "What this work made me feel."

That's not how I'd vote and I don't think it's a good standard. Sylvia Plath often makes me feel crappy. She's still a great writer. I've read things in John Barnes that were almost unbearably horrible. He's still a great writer.

#387 ::: dh ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 11:34 AM:

Carrie--

PS, if you are interested post your e-mail and I will be happy to have this conversation with you in your living room.

I only get computer access time on every other Friday [if I earn enough canteen money, but mostly not a problem], but if you are okay with letters, they are reasonably efficient way to have the conversation.

#388 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Speaker to Tall People ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 11:36 AM:

I'm minded to let dh's words stand. They allow us to get a pretty clear idea of his character, relevance, and thinking ability, which is useful for evaluating his ideas.

I can, of course, be overridden by the Powers that Be Not Hyphenated.

#389 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 11:37 AM:

Heck, I have been trolled. That'll teach me.

#390 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 11:38 AM:

Dh @385, exactly how many Harlequin Romances have you read? Are you going to read any in the near future?

Be honest; you're judging those books without having read them. I suspect if you love military SF you'll likely give a second look to a book with a guy in uniform wielding a raygun on the cover, or from an author that you know writes predominantly MilSF; if you hate military SF, you'll probably pass it by without ever looking at it twice for the exact same reason. I have a strong suspician that you'd not ever open a book which had a white male and a black male engaged in a passionate kiss on the cover...

We ALL judge books without reading them. Tens of thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of books are published every year; it's not physically possible to read them all. If I read one book by an author and go "meh" I am very unlikely to pick up another book by that author; life is too short and there are too many other choices available.

TNH, if I'm misrepresenting your point, please jump in and correct me.

#391 ::: dh ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 11:38 AM:

Idumea--- if I violated some rule, apologies.

#392 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 11:41 AM:

John A Arkansawyer @386, I submit that a book well-written enough to make you feed really crappy is, well, well-written. If the book made you feel "meh" you wouldn't think it was well-written, yes? I didn't say it had to make you feel GOOD; I said it had to make you FEEL. Full stop. Hope this clarifies.

#393 ::: dh ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 11:45 AM:

Cassey-- I catch your point, but I've probably read, I don't know, 1000 regency/harlequein/traditional romances. There's almost always on my stack.

But nonetheless, the point is, you do have to make judgments about which books to read, to buy, etc. You can never firehose enough of it.

It that's the context of TNH's point, that would make sense, and it would be big relief. Since the discussion is and was centered around Hugo voting, I presumed that statement to be on that topic. But I could be wrong.

#394 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 11:45 AM:

Cassy B @378:
Actually, there are people who aren't going to read Day's work before voting it down. As Teresa says, the Hugos are many things, including our community's showcase to the world. Some people quite simply think that Day is not someone we want to showcase, enough to vote without reading.

Aquinas Dad @373:
And there's a fair argument that excessively aggressive militarism has killed millions throughout history, and yet many people read and nominate milSF. It's almost like it's complicated or something, with many different people having different lines and threshholds in different places.

You don't like Communists? Don't vote for them to win Hugos. Simple.

#395 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 11:45 AM:

John A Arkansawyer @386, addendum: Sterling's Draka books made me want to take a very hot shower after reading them; they make me feel horrid. But I would never say they weren't well-written. Likewise Orwell's 1984. Hope this clarifies.

#396 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 11:50 AM:

Basically, different people are going to vote for the Hugos using different criteria. They always have. They always will. And no amount of argumentation, no amount of trying to privilege one way of reading or voting over another, is going to stop it.

That's what the Hugos are: a snapshot of our complex, ever-changing genre and the community that produces it. dh thinks they're in decline, but I haven't seen a realistic argument in that direction that doesn't boil down to the books I like never win. (I would note, peripherally, that the notion of a decline does also rather overrate some of the earlier winners.)

#397 ::: dh ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 11:53 AM:

abi-- given your view, I happen to an active editor of Wikipedia.

Can you help suggest changes to the general description of the Hugo award? Here is what it is currently:

"The Hugo Awards are a set of awards given annually for the best science fiction or fantasy works and achievements of the previous year."

It seems like this is not an accurate description. What would you recommend?

#398 ::: dh ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 11:56 AM:

abi-- I just presumed that the Hugo's are in decline. It might not be true, I have no way to really measure it. I agreee it does tend to elevate older works. I loved Dune, but is it that much better than Redshirts?

#399 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 11:58 AM:

dh @397:

Nope, because a description is not the same thing as a definition. My statement is the former; Wikipedia needs the latter, and I'll leave that to the the WSFS.

#400 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 11:59 AM:

395
That's about how I felt about 'The Screwfly Solution' - I didn't enjoy it, but it was extremely well written.

Why, yes, I did vote for it. 'Best' is not the same as 'most liked'.

#401 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 12:01 PM:

You know, there are things people say that I disagree with, but that don't make me write off the person who says them. But then there are things that make me decide that someone's mind is so damaged, or so willfully toxic, that paying attention to ANYTHING they say is not worth the cost.

Among these things are:

--"Gays should be killed/kept away from children/given shock therapy to cure them."
--"Blacks were better off under slavery."
--"The Holocaust never happened."

And yes,

--"Women shouldn't be allowed to vote."

Now there might be some worthwhile things in the discourse of such a person. I could be missing things of value in what they have to say.

But reading them or listening to them would be like eating poison ivy for the fiber.

#402 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 12:01 PM:

Dh @397, the Oscars are supposed to choose the "best" movie of the year, too. And they've made some notable blunders over the years. Was "How Green Was My Valley" honestly a better film than "Citizen Kane" or "The Maltese Falcon"?

All we can do is the best we can do.

#403 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 12:02 PM:

That's about how I felt about 'The Screwfly Solution' - I didn't enjoy it, but it was extremely well written.

Or, in another medium, my response to Pulp Fiction. I think PF is a great movie: well written, well cast and acted, well directed, it does exactly what it sets out to do--and I hate it and never want to see it again.

#404 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 12:05 PM:

Xopher
But reading them or listening to them would be like eating poison ivy for the fiber.

Marvelous. Storing that one away for future use.

#405 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 12:06 PM:

Carrie S @403, a group of us went to see "Pan's Labyrinth". We walked out of the theater in dead silence (normally, this group is chattering, dissecting what we liked and didn't like). After a minute, someone said, "I need a drink." And we wordlessly adjourned to a nearby bar.

It was a good movie. It was a VERY good movie. Well written, well acted, excellent special effects. And I *never* want to see it again.

#406 ::: dh ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 12:06 PM:

Xopher-- I think it's a very fair point. There are people from time to time that no matter you best efforts, you just can't communicate with, for whatever reason.

And sometimes, those reasons make you an "-ist" of some type - racist, sexist, etc. And sometimes it just makes you a good judge of character.

#407 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Wielder of Flamethrowers ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 12:07 PM:

dh,

Do be aware that you're here on sufferance. Don't get edgy.

#408 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 12:13 PM:

Cassie B @ 402...

"To Kill A Mockingbird" didn't win for the Best Score award.
Newcomer Peter O'Toole did not win Best Actor for carrying "Lawrence of Arabia" on his shoulders.
Cary Grant *never* won an Oscar.

#409 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 12:14 PM:

The sock drawer seems to be voicing the opinion that what one does under one circumstance, one does in all circumstances.

If one chooses a book by its cover to purchase, one also chooses to vote on a book by its cover.

If one chooses a book by its author, one also chooses to vote on a book by its author.

If one chooses a book by its author's public behavior (and I consider blog posts and comments public behavior), one also chooses to vote on a book by its author's public behavior.

Not so. How I choose is dependent on the outcome I wish. If the outcome is a book on my shelf, choosing involves many things. If I am voting on a pre-selected group of works, I base my vote on different criteria. If I have difficulty choosing between Work A and Work B, I might very well choose the position based on my feelings about the author.

I have found that if the author has stridently expressed opinions of any kind, it is quite likely that those same strident opinions will manifest in the author's works. And I will avoid them. I want a story to take me away from it all. If I want a strident opinion, I'll go down to the park outside City Hall and listen to those guys on the soapbox on the corner.

#410 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 12:17 PM:

Serge Broom @408, which is why any "best of" awards, however sincerely given, are aspirational rather than descriptive. Unless they are retrospectively awarded fifty years later. And even then, in a hundred years opinions might change.

Because "best" is inherently subjective when judging a work of art, whether it be film or writing or photography or painting or sculpture or... well, anything else.

#411 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 12:18 PM:

Xopher, if it makes you feel any better, I'm about 80% sure dh is playing around. I twigged at the bit that implied he (which I admit is a possibly-unwarranted assumption) is in prison.

On the net, being a bigot is just as phenomenological as being a troll, though, so...

#412 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 12:21 PM:

Thank you, Lin! *blush*

#413 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 12:24 PM:

I'll note that I read the VD entry and that it wasn't good. In fact, it was poor. As abi@189 put it, "fractally poor" is quite a good description. The plot manages to both meander and rush.
It doesn't bring in anything that is terribly objectionable, it just doesn't happen to be well done at all.
I haven't gotten to the Correia yet as the packet is not out yet.
I quite agree that it really isn't possible to completely separate the experience of reading a work from one's general knowledge of the rest of the universe. Reading is an experience and experience is based upon, well, the totality of one's experiences up to that point.
I can't, to this day, eat maraschino cherries after a bout of food poisoning as a teenager.
So, am I totally objective when reading things? Of course not. No one is. Do I find it odd that some may want to totally avoid things that they might find painful. Also, of course not. Avoiding pain is a totally understandable stance.
Everybody has their own maraschino cherries.

#414 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 12:26 PM:

By the way, for people who are new here, Idumea is me for certain moderator-administrative purposes. You can tell because we share a (view all by) history. But I'm a mod here under any nick.

This doesn't mean that everyone can go around changing usernames, as Rabbit Hunter found out above. The customs around pretending to be someone else on Making Light are complicated and undocumented. Don't even try it unless you already know it'll be OK.

#415 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 12:28 PM:

I think I will get a LonCon supporting membership after all.

I wonder if the nomination of "Anthem" for Retro Hugo is a side effect of the VD nomination. It's certainly her worst written work, and I think her first published. I went through a Rand phase in my early twenties and read everything. But utopian novels are often bad as fiction.

I think a person's politics usually informs what they write, one way or another. And the sock puppet upstream who suggested not reading Mieville because he is a Communist - that's why I won't read anything written by a Republican ;-)

#416 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 12:29 PM:

dh: I didn't say that even Day's defenders didn't think his novelette was any good. I said that I've not seen even one of his advocates bother to advocate for the, you know, written words that you prize so highly. Not the politics of Day or his fans, not the politics of his detractors, but the words on the page. You keep advocating for voting just for those words, but then you keep not giving any reason why we SHOULD. Why you think they're the very best words published in novelette form last year. And when asked to, you claim that nobody would listen. Well, guess what? There are quite a few Hugo voters in this thread, and by no means all of them have said they'll refuse to read Day's work. Rather than engage with them in positive explanations of the work's value, all you seem to do is denigrate the voters. It seems a poor way to lobby for votes.

Of course, since you say you don't believe I should be permitted to vote anyway, I suppose there's no reason for you to try to convince me of the merits of the work. Though how anybody can write off the merits of well over half the human race without meeting them all can point fingers at people who don't read Day because his views (not someone else's views, not his sex's views, not his race's views, but the author's own expressed views) are that they are subhuman, is beyond me.

#417 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 12:37 PM:

With regards to what Cally said,

If the sockdrawer doesn't think we'll listen to someone touting the merits of the work, why is it still here?

If the sockdrawer is still here, typing madly away, because it thinks we're reading, then we are in fact "listening".

Contradictory much?

#418 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 12:40 PM:

There's a well-known, longstanding convention in SF (and other genres) for authors to signal that they want their work judged separately from the rest of what they do, or who they are: the pen name. (Which many people are using in this very thread.) Many authors have more than one, using different ones for different situations.

When I find a work in a bookstore that has "by X" at the start, and X is a name that I recognize, yes, that colors the way I'm going to judge the work. There are some X's that I see on a cover and will buy right away without needing to look inside. There are some X's I'll see and go meh, and probably not bother to look at any further unless I hear a particularly good reason to check out the book in question.

If I'm reviewing something for someone else rather than purely for my own interest, I do feel more of an obligation to give all available X's at least an initial look. But that doesn't mean I have to look thoroughly at every submission. If X is someone I know from experience is a crank submitting to my conference, for instance, I'm most likely going to note the first erroneous or incomprehensible passage I find and stop there. And I'm pretty sure nobody at a major publishing house reads all slush submissions all the way through; everyone I've heard talk about it says they stop as soon as they either bounce hard or sense unrelieved tedium.

I haven't voted the Hugos before, but if I did this year, I'd also read a work presented "by X" with a knowledge of what else I've read from that X. Some of the Xs nominated this year have earned more of my patience than some of the other Xs, even purely based on what else has appeared under the X byline. I wouldn't stop at the byline for any of them, but I can easily imagine that some other voters might have *that* line be the one that makes them bounce hard. Particularly when the X byline has been attached to writings that deny their right or competence to vote in the first place.

If some folks don't like how their work will get evaluated when they publish it under X, perhaps they could try publishing it under Y instead.

#419 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 12:41 PM:

Carrie @411 - I spotted that too. I don't think we can assume that anything dh says about himself or his views is true. I do think that the game he is playing is noxious enough that I refuse to have a conversation with him.

#420 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 12:41 PM:

"Everything is politics."

Thomas Mann, who, as far as I know, wasn't related to Kojak's Abby Mann.

#421 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 12:54 PM:

If there's one thing that makes me really not look forward to Correia's work in my Hugo packet, it's the wholesale rejection of human complexity that his fans here are showing.

Books where anyone does anything for just one reason tend not to be keepers, in my experience. It's just not the way that human beings work, so when characters do that I tend to think meat puppet, yawn, Oooh! 2014 with Benedict Cumberbatch and otters! In other words, they don't hold my interest.

I know that this oversimplification is in pursuit of a specific goal. I'm trying to keep that in mind. But still.

#422 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 12:55 PM:

I think we're getting into a disagreement based on prescriptive versus descriptive discussions of the Hugos. Some people on each side are looking at the ways people actually vote; some are looking at the ways they should vote.

I think that any argument based on the way people should is an amusing exercise in hypotheticals and actually not very well related to the real world. Along the lines of, "In theory, theory and practice are the same."

#423 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 12:56 PM:

411/419
Also noticed.

#424 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 01:02 PM:

411/419
I read it as a way to say "in case I don't choose to reply, here's this 'blame someone else' reason". Which seems to fit the profile.

And a rather unpleasant way to get someone's physical address.

#425 ::: Aquinas Dad ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 01:05 PM:

abi@394,
You failed to answer the question.
I never said these issues weren't complicated. Nor did I say anyone should do anything. Nor did I refer to 'militarism'. Nor is anyone discussing the character of militarySF in general, especially since a fair amount of military SF is anti-militarism (that's complicated, too).
I asked - did anyone complain when an active supporter of violent conflict and tacit supporter of mass murder was nominated?

#426 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Wielder of Flamethrowers ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 01:07 PM:

dh is still here because his stated beliefs are not affecting the way he interacts with the commentariat; he has not (for instance) been dismissive of users with feminine nicks. However, having stated those beliefs, he's put himself on a short leash whether they're real or not. I suspect he knew that when he said it.

Given that this thread has been linked from Correia's place, it's probably best to treat it as a liminal space rather than part of the heart of Making Light. If ML regulars (and well-intentioned visitors) are interested in the conversations that liminal spaces permit, stay; if not, perhaps move to the most recent thread on the front page?

#427 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 01:16 PM:

Aquinas Dad @425:

1. I don't know; have you Googled?

2. My answer to your underlying question (was it hypocrisy if they didn't?) is that different people have their lines in different places.

3. Do you have any idea how boring questions designed to trap the answerer in their own hypocrisy are? We could be talking about books right now instead.

#428 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 01:17 PM:

Interesting item of note.
Aquinas Dad is responding to comments made to other comments as if they are made to him. Nobody answered his question, true, but the other stuff isn't related to any comment made under that nym.

Gee, does this mean it is in fact all one sock drawer?

#429 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 01:17 PM:

A little more about Vox Day, who is even nastier than I thought.

As for the Wikipedia entry, I'd go with something like "The Hugo Awards are a set of awards given annually by members of the World Science Fiction Convention for the best science fiction or fantasy works and achievements of the previous year." I think that gives some clue about the degree of overt subjectivity involved.

#430 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 01:18 PM:

Aquinas Dad @425: Do you see the logical fallacy in
1. Some Communists support violent conflict and mass murder.
2. X is a Communist.
3. X supports violent conflict and mass murder.

Hint: replace Communist with Capitalist and see if you feel the same.

And there is a difference between being a member of a group which, in general, supports taking the vote from women (or any other group) and being a person who supports taking the vote from women (or any other group).

#431 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 01:18 PM:

No, Lin, I addressed his question in comment 394. Not to his satisfaction, of course, but we can't have everything.

#432 ::: Kevin Standlee ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 01:29 PM:

Aquinas Dad asked:

China Mieville....Are you aware of anyone complaining when he was nominated for a Hugo?
Yes. I hate to use the opposite of "the lurkers support me in e-mail," but it happened. Those of us who administer TheHugoAwards.org see a lot of very nasty comments.

Neil Gaiman similarly has been attacked as a Hugo winner for things he didn't even control (like his parents). Other winners/nominees are attacked all the time. Set a Google search for "Hugo Award" and you'll see a lot of this.

-=-=-

As mentioned elsewhere, the Hugo voters gave the award to They'd Rather Be Right, which by all accounts is awful.

Recently, the voting details for the 1964 Hugo Awards surfaced. (In those days, we used 'First Past the Post' voting instead of the current Instant Runoff Ballot.) Look at that ballot! The amazing thing to me is that there were 7 people (3% of the voters) who voted None of the Above on that list, saying that none of those five works was award-worthy. It just goes to show that with a subjective award, there's really no accounting for taste.

#433 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 01:30 PM:

abi @ 431
Ah, yes. My apologies for missing that. And that explains the militarySF response. It was an equivalency thing.

I'm having too much fun with the snark thing, and starting to step on my own...keyboard. Fading into the shadows for a while.

#434 ::: dh ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 01:42 PM:

"On the net, being a bigot is just as phenomenological as being a troll, though, so..."

You think so? I've never thought of it that way.

Nancy-- that's a pretty good addition, to make sure it's fan directed at the core, and not handed out by some other group.

Flametosser-- I think that it is a surprising thought to me that out there in the world is the perception that sexists, racists, and bigots cannot have a fine conversation. The United States was founded by sexists, racists and bigots. Do we not think they had fine conversations? Polite conversations? Really, up until maybe, I don't, 25-35 years ago, all of the things we are talking about - sexism, racism and bigotry were entirely socially acceptable unlike in today's culture. I suspect that in 1973, Vox Day's attitudes were not just common, not just a majority, but close to absolute super-majority of the United States citizens attitudes'. Certainly towards homosexuals. We have changed the culture enough to the point today where the sort of racism and sexism we are seeing requires more analysis and discussion - it is deeper, it is more institutional, and it is more hidden. So 25-35 years ago, was there no polite conversation? It's surely a topic for another day and only tangentially related to this topic, but still interesting nonetheless to wonder how sexism, racism, and bigotry go so very entwined with the concept of trolling and trollery.

#435 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 01:42 PM:

abi@421:Exactly. I've noted that also and it does not lend to me a great sense of expectation.

#436 ::: Aquinas Dad ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 01:43 PM:

Abi,
I was asking a direct question. I am not trying to paint anyone as anything. I *am* trying to stimulate a discussion of why we may view some ideas as distant and others as immediate regardless of their real-word impact.

Tom,
Mr Mievelle has actually advocated for violence both via membership in a political party that advocates for it, standing for office in that same party, and in his own speaking. He makes no effort to disguise his Marxist beliefs; indeed, he seems quite eager to share them.
And I would also judge any Capitalist, Socialist, etc. the same for advocating violence and associating with an ideology that causes mass murder.
Since I am a Distributist I look askance at Capitalism almost as much as Communism.

#437 ::: Aquinas Dad ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 01:52 PM:

Lin Daniel@428
At the time of your response I had made one reply directly to people directly responding to me. A quick ctrl+f or apple+f and search for 'aquinas' will confirm this to be the case.

#438 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 01:52 PM:

#434 ::: dh

Just to make sure I understand you correctly, you were concerned that some group from outside of fandom was pushing an anti-bigotry agenda in fandom?

#439 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 01:53 PM:

Nancy 429: Wow. I did not know that the had called the shooting of Malala Yousafzi justified. So, he's pro-Taliban (more seriously, he hates uppity women (or actually uppity girls) more than he hates Muslims).

And rushthatspeaks is right. He's there to remind me that there are people who hate me, and my friends, and most of the world's women. I'm putting him below No Award, because I don't want the Hugo to go to such a monster.

Also, I think "Vox Day supports the Taliban" is a good catch line.

#440 ::: Aquinas Dad ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 01:55 PM:

Kevin @432,
Thank you! I had done such a search but had not seen that of Mr. Mieville nor of Mr. Gaiman.
I wasn't sure if the current brouhaha was as isolated as it is made out to be and thought an obvious Left-wing target like Mr. Mieville would be the best place to start.
Was there a discussion at the time of changing the nomination process, etc?

#441 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 02:18 PM:

For those posting to Making Light who are under the delusion that the Hugos are "literary" awards --

(cue deranged laughter)

Having got that out of the way, the Hugos are voted on by SF Fandom, most of whom are not authors and editors.

Which means that Fandom votes for what it LIKES.

Frankly, if I enjoyed a book, novella, movie or whatever, and it's nominated for a Hugo, I'll probably vote for it, if I have the funds for a Worldcon membership. I don't really care about the political views of the item in question's creator. If I hated it, or most likely, bounced off of it, I won't vote for it.

It's that simple -- if the story doesn't hold my interest, or inspires the Eight Deadly Words, it isn't going to get my vote.

For some voters, politics MAY be involved, but I submit that most voters are choosing to vote for what they enjoyed. YMMV (and probably does)

#442 ::: MoXmas ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 02:21 PM:

I am not sure why Aquinas Dad is conflating socialism with communism -- let alone why either would be specifically relevant to the UK's SWP. Sort of like saying Mikal Gilmore's books should be judged as written by a murderer because he's related to Gary.

Actually, that's not true. I am quite sure why: because any fuel can be used and abused for a troll flame.

Secondarily: the one huge benefit of the whole Hugo thrash this year is that it reminded me to re-read and enjoy the classic "OH JOHN RINGO NO" essay: http://hradzka.livejournal.com/194753.html

#443 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 02:28 PM:

I think that the way this debate has been framed involves the palming of a card. Let me explain.

I've recently been persuaded to consider buying a supporting membership for WSFC. If I do, I'll be voting on the Hugos. I'll be voting against Vox Day. This is not because I have a 'political disagreement' with him.

It's because of his active harassment of N.K. Jemisin.

While Vox Day's belief that it was ok to harass Jemisin may be closely connected with political beliefs that I disagree with, I think it's a misuse of words to describe this as a 'political disagreement'.

It may be technically true, just as it would no doubt be technically true to say that an ordinance forbidding 4-wheeled vehicles in the local park is being breached by parents pushing pushchairs, or that the reason I wouldn't consider having Hannibal Lecter to dinner is that I'd find it difficult to accommodate his dietary preferences. It obfuscates as much as it illuminates.

It's also unlikely - but within the bounds of possibility - that I'll vote for Larry Correia for best novel. If I don't, a large part of the reason will be that in nominating Vox Day in the year he was expelled from the SFWA, he's trolling a community I care about. Again, I'm sure that his decision that this was a good thing do that is connected with some political beliefs I don't share. But again, that doesn't mean the issue here is a 'political disagreement.'

I have pretty profound political disagreements with China Mieville (in particular, I find his Marxist analysis of international law to be at odds with views I've committed myself to in intellectual work), Cory Doctorow (about the limits of the free market, and the best approach to intellectual property), Charlie Stross (about secularism and Scottish independence), Ken MacLeod (insofar as I've got a grip on his politics at all) and Elizabeth Moon. In fact, I think it would be pretty hard for anyone to agree with all the expressed political views of all those individuals. But none of them have done things that would make me avoid voting against them for a Hugo. (Fwiw there's one edge case there, and one potential edge case. But in neither case are they relevant to my main point.)

I suspect that there will be people on the current thread who will object that my having disagreements with these folks don't really count, because they are, in some vague and inchoate sense 'all on the same side'. But I think that that's an expression of a kind of political narcissism: it's someone saying 'all these people disagree with me about something that I regard as pretty important. So they're all essentially on the same side'. The reason that's narcissistic is that it involves treating something that you regard as important as the only thing that really matters in politics.

#444 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 02:30 PM:

No Man's Land @ 354
Lenora, with all due respect, you created an analogy, one that fits YOUR worldview.

We all read with our own context from our own worldview. You with yours and me with mine. Our views and contexts are both valid. You, however, do not have the importance, influence or basic agency to tell me my views and contexts are not valid. The same goes for me in regards to you. The more you insist on telling me how to read a work of fiction, the more this applies to you. (Be sure to hover your mouse over the drawing, as well. XKCD is a double punchline comic.)


No Man's Land @ 354
However, when it comes to literary awards and their legitimacy, I believe the people voting should honestly and seriously account their own prejudices and review the work from predetermined literary standards. What I am saying is that their own bias on political matters ought to have little do with the emotions generated by the reader based on how an author crafts their story and develops their characters.

I see your problem. It appears to be the Taxonomy of Literary in Regards to SciFi/Fantasy Awards. The John W. Campbell Award is the literary award for SciFi/Fantasy. The Nebula is the critical award for the same genre. The Hugo is nothing more than a popularity contest among SciFi/Fantasy fans.


No Man's Land @ 354
If the audience is the general public, sure, anything goes. Then the award is utterly meaningless from a critical evaluation perspective.

Which is a correct statement. The Hugo is a popularity contest that specific people pay to enter. The "specific people" are the members of fandom who really, really, really want their favorite book/author to win. So the real test here is "my favorite story/author got nominated, but [is it/are they] popular enough to win on its/their own merit". With the way the internet is blowing up over this? I suspect not.

Lee @ #358
Oh, and also: "predetermined literary standards"? I'm sure every academic reading this just fell off their chair laughing. There ain't no such animal.

I'm reminded of my undergraduate years when I heard two professors arguing over who had the better book. It was quite lengthy and heated. Some shouting was involved. That's when I decided "predetermined literary standards" was a joke. The argument was over the exact same story penned by the exact same author. Each professor's book had a different cover. When people make their living off "predetermined literary standards" the same old stuff creeps in. So, yeah, "predetermined literary standards" really does include judging a book by its cover...and author.
Machiavelli and Benjamin Franklin both wrote books geared toward advising others how to win the hearts and minds of the body politic by manipulating events, managing expectations, and spinning popular opinion. Guess who is believed to be the better person of the two.

#445 ::: perlhaqr ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 02:42 PM:

Heresiarch @333,

"Correia seems to hold that an author's beliefs ought to be out of bounds when judging their work."

Disclaimer: I am not Larry Corriea. Therefore, I am not a canonical source for "what he means" when it comes to the things he says. However, I do know him in person, and have spent hours and hours (days, weeks, months possibly) of real time arguing about stuff with him, so I have a pretty good grasp on his perspective on the world.

I would say that it's vastly more accurate to say that Larry holds that an author's beliefs ought not be the only thing considered when judging their work.

When someone says "Oh, that Larry, he's a horrible teabagging racist who wants to drag gay people to death behind his pickup truck, I'm not going to read his book, and I'm definitely voting against it because he's a bastard." then that person isn't judging literature. It's not a matter of "text only" judging, it's a matter of "including the text in your consideration" judging.

"In the second bolded sentence Correia marks an absolute division between message and quality: the message of the work is "politics" and the quality is "art," and ne'er the twain shall meet."

Again, no. Correia's point about "message fiction" is not "stories should not have messages or politics", it's "stories should have a story". Have you read "Atlas Shrugged"? Do you consider the message of the work to be, well, shall we say "rather ham handed"? Do you think that the ham handedness of stuffing that much message into the work was to the detriment of the story?

That is what Correia is talking about when he refers to "message fic". Shorts, novelettes, novels, etc, that have so much message that they don't have any room for any actual story, and are thus boring. Unentertaining. Dull.

"he's engineered it so that anyone who dislikes his art because of its politics is automatically disqualified, while he gets to denounce whatever he pleases for "letting identity politics get in the way of story.""

Actually, I don't think Larry has much of an objection to people who read his work and say "Man, I really hate this." He does have a rather large reaction to people who show up in his blog comments and say "Ugh, you're such a reich-winger, I'm never going to read your work because it clearly sucks because you're a terrible horrible no-good fascist." He's engineered it so that anyone who won't even look at his art because of the politics is automatically disqualified from getting to comment on it.

#446 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 02:47 PM:

MoXmas 442: MoXmas! Have you been lurking all this time?!? Great to see you again.

praisegod 443: Good points.

#447 ::: qns Dd ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 02:56 PM:

MXms @442,
m nt cnfltng nythng. Mr. Mvll s n vwd Cmmnst nd whl hs frmr pltcl prt sd th wrld Sclst n ts *ttl* t ws pnly Cmmnst n ts sttd pltcl stnc, tc.
m nt tryng t trll; tht s bvsly qt sy t d hr. m crs bt
1) r th spprtrs f Vx Dy crrct n clmng ths hs nvr hppnd bfr. s sspctd, thy r nt
2) r th spprtrs f Vx Dy crrct s clmng t s nly bcs thy r rght wng? Trns t n, t dsn't lk lk t
3) r th spprtrs f Vx Dy crrct n clmng tht thr s n tszd, ngtv rctn n ths cs? Lks lk yh, thy r prbbly crrct
4) r spprtrs f Vx Dy crrct tht ppl r pnly dvctng nt rdng bk bfr vtng n ts mrts s bk? Tht s bvsly tr, f crtnly nt nvrsl

Mr. Sndl @432; thnks gn fr yr clr, drct, nd plt rspns.

#448 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 02:57 PM:

db @434:
nteresting nonetheless to wonder how sexism, racism, and bigotry go so very entwined with the concept of trolling and trollery

Mostly because of how much people wig out and push back rather than acknowledge that they've been unfair or unjust and might need to change. Interestingly enough, Charlie Stross was just talking about the feelings that cause this on Twitter:

As a man, I’m slowly becoming aware how insidiously I’ve been trained to ignore women. And it took me 49 years to get here.
It’s weirdly like waking up one morning to discover you used to be a Nazi. Disturbing is only the start of it.

That initial pushback is perfectly human, of course. Mind you, so is excretion; simply because it's a natural reaction doesn't mean we can't control it and move on from it rather than turning it into the impetus to attack the people who make us uncomfortable.

#449 ::: perlhaqr ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 03:22 PM:

Abi @349: "You know what I would love? adore? enjoy the heck out of? A genuine Larry Correia fan coming here and enthusing about the work. Taking about what it is, not what it is not; talking about why they love it[.]"

I can handle this job. :)

Credentials: I've been a Larry Correia fan since before his first published work (using the definition "ink on paper" for "published", there) was even written. His first authorial work (unless MHI was just sitting on an old Zip disk there for a long time, I suppose I could go back and check the timestamp on the original .doc file) was as part of a serialised novel, co-written with another user, on the web BBS "The High Road" as "Welcome Home Mr. Nightcrawler". That work (after much cajoling from many of us, and the co-authors return from EOD work in the Sandbox) became "Dead Six". I read "Monster Hunter International" before it was printed the first time (the so-called "zeroeth edition", before Larry got signed by Baen), have a signed copy of that printing, have had four or five copies of the Baen printed version, (I keep lending them out, they keep... staying lent out.) and have a copy of everything else he's written. I'm part of the team of alpha readers who see his novels before Toni does. I've read every novel Larry has written a dozen times, minimum, before the print version even comes out. I make squeeing noises whenever I see that subject line pop up in my email, and really, nothing else is happening the rest of the day. I wouldn't necessarily say Larry is the best author ever, because I'm a huge hard-SF fan even more than I am a fantasy fan, and Larry's settings just don't allow many solar system scaled engineering projects, but he's quite possibly the most entertaining author I've come across recently. So I think I've gotta qualify as a "genuine Larry Correia fan". :D

That established, on to the work. (In another comment, because I don't know if there are character count limits here.)

#450 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 03:25 PM:

Alt/No Man's Land, I am banning your ass for dishonesty, and unpublishing your recent comments. If anyone else shows up who sounds like you, or makes your arguments, bad things will happen to them too.

You are not as artful or as clever as you think.

=====

Abi, Patrick, Avram --

Just leave his stuff unpublished for now. I have to go out for a while, and I'm still deciding what to do with it.

#451 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 03:44 PM:

China Miéville's politics are sometimes a bit much for me. I loved Perdido Street Station, but every now and then, I'd be reading adventures in this Gothic Steampunk Lovecraftian Heath-Robinson London, and an egregious paragraph of Marxist nastiness would jump out and poke me in the eye.

I loved The Scar, but lost interest in The Iron Council for its overt politics.

Miéville went back to trains for Railsea, and I just finished it about two hours ago, and what a hoot: Moby Dick is a mole! God is the Fat Controller from Thomas the Tank Engine! Brilliant stuff.

#452 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 03:52 PM:

perlhaqr at 449: I've never seen any character limits for ML comments (they probably exist, but I've put up some serious walls of text, and never triggered any that I know of).

On the actual topic of your post, I've also read and enjoyed Correia's work - I recommended Monster Hunter International to several friends back when it first came out from Baen, bought the 2nd and 3rd books in the series and have generally found that series to be enjoyable monster-stomping fun. When I first discovered the MHI series, it was what I needed (yay for variegated, realistic destruction of unpleasant beasties at a fast pace). I've drifted away from it in the last couple years, out of a combination of needing something different from what I read for fun, and the difference between Correia's views and my own. While I've found Correia's work to be less my thing lately, I've got a considerable fondness for MilSF (I've got a bookshelf half-full of David Weber paperbacks, and another shelf of his series from Tor in hardback). I'm not reading Correia much now, but I found MHI very entertaining.

I've got a supporting membership for LonCon, so I'll give his novel on the Hugo ballot a look. Frankly, it's up against two novels I adore (Parasite and Neptune's Brood, respectively), and another that I really want to read (Ancillary Justice), so even if it's an enjoyable yarn, it's got damn steep competition on the ballot.

I may disagree with Correia politically, but I'm not particularly put out by his novel being on the ballot. There is nominated material on the ballot that I'm not willing to read, and will vote against based on my judgement of the author, but Correia's work isn't it.

#453 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 03:55 PM:

perlhaqr @449:

There is no character limit, but can I suggest paragraph breaks? I think I'd find it more readable that way.

#454 ::: perlhaqr ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 04:04 PM:

What I adore about Larry's work is that it's just so much fun. It's full of action, it's full of adrenaline, it gets my heart going. It's got a lot of (I'm not enough of a bastard to link to TVTropes, but...) what TV Tropes would refer to as "Crowning Moment of Awesome" in it.

And yeah, I have to admit that the material is very sympathetic to me. I identify with the main character of the MHI novels. Like Owen Zastava Pitt, I'm a huge guy working in an office environment that doesn't meet many of my needs to be out and about doing caveman like things, but certainly pays much better. My boss and his boss are actually pretty good, but there are people in the chain I could totally see as potential werewolves, who would then need to be turned into ex-werewolves. ;) And for that matter I can sympathise with his difficulties with the ladies, re: his courtship with Julie. (Hey, I'm a nerd, of course I've found relations with MOTAS difficult.) I even empathise with his difficult relationship with his father.

I like guns. I'm not too fond of the government. (Any government, really, but ours is the one I've had to deal with the most, so when Larry picks on them, I smile.) I've got a fair bit of "get the job done" in my personality. Those are all things that come up in the novels.

I like the "what if" nature of the MHI world. "What if all the creatures out of legend, everything you've ever heard of, ever whispered story of every culture, was actually real? How would modern, unbelieving, scientific humanity deal with that?" I like the way he ties everything together, from book to book, dropping clues along the way for what's coming up, and making it so you can figure out what's going on before it gets spelled out.

I like the entire concept of the Grimnoir universe. People, suddenly manifesting seemingly magical powers. How would society deal with that? What would it change? And, again, they're like a roller coaster. Exciting, fast, and entertaining.

#455 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 04:08 PM:

perlhaqr, thank you. First I've heard about why people like the actual work. Doesn't sound like my sort of thing (though actually the premise of Grimnoir does sound interesting), but certainly doesn't sound like wingnut wankery by any means.

#456 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 04:09 PM:

Teresa @ 450...

"Who was that masked man?"

#457 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 04:22 PM:

Now that I've read 449/454, I'm pretty sure I've read and enjoyed but not been, like, nuts over some of Larry Corriera's work. (I wouldn't have recognized his name before this kerfuffle came up.) For all I know, he's written a Hugo-credible novel.

#458 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Wielder of Flamethrowers ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 04:26 PM:

Note that Aquinas Dad has also left us. However, having got the information that he was after, I'm sure he will survive the enforced absence from the remaining conversation. Since, of course, he was only after the facts.

#459 ::: MoXmas ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 04:28 PM:

Xopher @ 446
Hi howdy, good to see you, too! Yes, always lurking, lurking, lurking.

The Correia books sound like they are in a similar area as the Myke Cole books or Charlie Huston's vampire series. Or for that matter, Dean Koontz's HAUNTED EARTH, one of the pulp grandpappys of this pulp clan.

#460 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 04:28 PM:

Aquinas Dad, #439: What that makes me wonder is whether "inclusiveness" is viewed as being worse than "overt Communism" by the people who fuss about Hugo nominations. It seems plausible; as Xopher notes, "uppity women" are enough to make an AMERICA FUCK YEAH! type support the Taliban.

perhaqur, #445: Shorts, novelettes, novels, etc, that have so much message that they don't have any room for any actual story, and are thus boring. Unentertaining. Dull.

When I review anthologies (mostly done on my LJ, but sometimes on LT as well), that is one of the surest routes to a story getting my "Waste of Ink" award for the anthology. However, I do not view the mere inclusion of a protagonist of color, or of non-binary gender, as evidence of something being "all Message and no Story," while Correia (based on his own blog posts) apparently does. To which I say, his loss.

Nor, for that matter, do I consider Message and Story to be mutually exclusive. I've been joking for decades about "the Mercedes Lackey school of heavy-handed social commentary" -- but Lackey remains an author I read with considerable enjoyment, because she is an outstanding storyteller whose books keep me turning pages even on re-reading. Someone who had the same heavy-handedness of Message but not that sure a touch with Story wouldn't be an author I'd continue reading.

He does have a rather large reaction to people who show up in his blog comments and say "Ugh, you're such a reich-winger, I'm never going to read your work because it clearly sucks because you're a terrible horrible no-good fascist."

So what do you suppose his reaction would be to people who show up on this blog, call the hosts and the regular commenters names, and tell us all that we're interrogating the text from the wrong perspective DOIN HUGOS RONG? Especially since he appears to be the one who's sending them over here?

FYI, the character limit here is pretty damn high; I've seen walls-o-text that took up nearly 2 full screens at the default (fairly small) text size. Of your courtesy, though, if you intend to write one of those, separate your paragraphs with blank lines.

#461 ::: Chris Gerrib ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 04:29 PM:

I read Corriea's Monster Hunter International as part of the Campbell / Hugo packet. Having once upon a time worked for the US Government, I found the "idiot government agent" subplot a bit tiresome but the story was generally entertaining. What cranks me about Corriea is his whining about "they're picking on me!" for not getting the Campbell.

Now, I just this week read Vox Day's offering. Even as a work of literature, it's pretty weak. Nothing politically offensive about it, just bog-standard overwritten Thud and Blunder High Fantasy.

#462 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 04:51 PM:

perlhaqr @454:

I suspect I'd find the "picking on government" might be too message-y for me, but if I'm in the mood for that tone of writing (and I am, sometimes), then I might try out one of the MHI books. Maybe the message won't overwhelm the story.

Thanks for the perspective. And, you know, the positive, constructive, enthusiastic conversation. It's a welcome relief, speaking as the person trying to keep this conversation from being overwhelmed by the less charming visitors from Correia's place.

#463 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 04:53 PM:

Lee, the late Judy Harrow had some Mercedes Lackey on what she called her Painless Subversion Through Literature shelf.

I miss the heck out of her.

#464 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 04:55 PM:

Thanks for the perspective. And, you know, the positive, constructive, enthusiastic conversation. It's a welcome relief

Hear, hear! It was really refreshing.

#465 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 05:01 PM:

Am I the only person who wonders if dh wasn't the DH? Or, to name names, the Designated Hitter?

#466 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 05:07 PM:

Lee, I remember reading Lackey's first "Vanyel" book and muttering under my breath, "She can't REALLY be going where I think she's going...my ghods, she is!"

One of my games with her books (and McCaffrey's for that matter) is "can you identify the disease" anytime some sort of plague makes an appearance.

#467 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 05:10 PM:

John, I don't understand.

#468 ::: Calvin Dodge ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 06:01 PM:

Teresa Nielsen Hayden wrote: "Why should I vote to tell the rest of the world that SF is a place where the only difference between James White and Vox Day is their commercially published texts?"

Uhhh ... because the award is "best novel", not "most likeable writer"? Or is it hopelessly old-fashioned of me to expect that the award's name actually refers to its purpose?

And if you get to say Correia and Day should be removed from consideration because of their purported or actual beliefs, doesn't that mean China Mieville should be similarly excluded because of his advocacy for the political system which killed FAR more people than the universally-despised Nazis did?

#469 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 06:10 PM:

Calvin, you need to read the thread. Asked and answered.

Also, Vox Day is up for Best Novelette, not Best Novel.

#470 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 06:32 PM:

Xopher (469): I smell socks.

#471 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 06:41 PM:

Klytus, I'm bored.

#472 ::: Wyman Cooke ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 06:53 PM:

Teresa, I wandered back in again after this thread got mentioned on the book that is a face. I haven't looked at it all, yet. Looks like it will take days, and I have a busy week coming up. I want to urge you to go to Larry's blog and comment. If your views can't survive debate in a venue you don't control, then maybe you need to reexamine them. That's all.

I probably won't be back here for awhile. I'm not going to ask for civility from the left and/or right, but I wish for it.

Later.

Wyman.

#473 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 07:43 PM:

Calvin Dodge @468, Vox Day’s story is up for Best Novelette, not Best Novel. And Teresa didn’t say anything about Correia in that comment you’re replying to.

I’ve noticed that a lot of our new guests seem really intent on erasing the differences between Larry Correia (a run-of-the-mill conservative) and Vox Day (an admitted white supremacist and misogynist). I assume this is part of a deliberate respectability-seeking strategy by Day.

#474 ::: ULTRAGOTHA ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 07:56 PM:

Abi @368
“Given that from your list I tend toward Bujold, Banks, Cherryh and Fforde, do you have any recommendations from Erikson, Cook or Kirstein (authors I haven't tried)?”

You haven’t read Rosemary Kirstein? Oh, I envy you. What wonderful books, and you can only discover what she’s doing for the first time once.

She’s hard to find on paper, especially in Europe (though for some reason Ireland was flooded with copies of her second book) but she is on Amazon. The Steerswoman (on sale!) The Outskirter’s Secret, The Lost Steersman and (Woot! It’s there now, I just checked!!) The Language of Power. She’s been Kindlizing her four existing books between bouts of chemotherapy.

The books stand well alone. There are three more books to go and she’s a terribly slow writer but they’ll be worth it when they come.

Alas that I had not discovered them back when they were eligible for Hugos.

#475 ::: dh ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 08:10 PM:

I think the challenge was given that none of Vox Days fans had posted a defense or rather a praise of his works. I would be more than happy to having read almost all of the category and read the work in question.

#476 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 08:21 PM:

#472: That was a really strange drive-by, especially from a known commenter. And why the hell should I (or Teresa, or anyone else) go over to someone else's blog to comment in the first place? I'm not a member of that community and have nothing to say over there.

Tangentially, I'm pretty sure my selection for Best Novelette has already been made. I'll look over the other nominees, but it's going to take one helluva story to beat the one I've already read.

#477 ::: Kevin Standlee ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 09:42 PM:

Aquinas Dad @440:

Some of the worst things I saw you'll never see because there are limits to what I will approve as comments to TheHugoAwards.org. (I'm one of the site's administrators, and am the person most often watching the comment queue.)

The only people I've seen talking about "changing the nominating process" have been discussing what I consider technical issues, i.e. should super-long works like WOT really be considered one long serialized work, and is the 5% minimum vote threshold appropriate given how many times it has affected Short Story in particular.

I have not seen any serious proposals to attempt to limit eligibility for the Awards based on the content of the works. What I have seen are "right-wing" people saying that they're sure that "left-wing" people will show up and pass rules prohibiting "those people" (whoever they are) from being on the ballot. These are the sort of oppression fantasy that both the left and right are prone to embracing, and they won't happen. Even if someone would be so foolish as to try to introduce such a tom-fool motion, I predict it would be shot out of the water faster than you can say "Object to Consideration!"

I mean this. The regular attendees of the WSFS Business Meeting are a fractious lot who disagree profoundly over many things (there are many people posting here who can probably substantiate this, starting with Our Gracious Hosts), but I've seen the meeting's members stand together as nearly one when this class of proposal comes before the meeting. Indeed, one particular fugghead proposed four bonehead proposals naming an individual and attempting to do something similar to trying to disqualify individuals for the Hugo Awards (albeit it was about Site Selection rather than the Hugos). The four proposals were killed within four minutes. And the fool was naming someone who was not particularly well-liked and was a notorious gadfly. WSFS will stomp on such things, and the entire governance process of the society makes it so difficult to change the rules without being able to get a broad consensus in two widely differing locations (London and Spokane, in the current case) that I dismiss talk of trying to regulate the content of Hugo nominees (as opposed to their technical form) as delusions.

#478 ::: Ross ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 10:20 PM:

I'm confused. And disappointed. And apparently quite naive.

Silly me... I thought that the Hugo award was for, y'know... the BEST in that particular category for the year.

Not whose politics you like the most.

Disgusting. And shameful. And depressing.

#479 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 10:37 PM:

I can't live with my being such a shameful and depressing disappointment, but... fuck you anyway.

#480 ::: Lee thinks a mod needs to look at this ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 10:49 PM:

The comment @478 (with its full troll-bingo card) is not from our regular commenter who goes by Ross, but is a 1-shot drive-by. I think someone is spoofing again.

#481 ::: lighthill ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 11:19 PM:

Now my ice cream truck is painted like a cheerful Panzer tank,
with a freezer full of ices and a fylfot on the flank.
And the music box is set up --hey, it's not against the law!--
to play 'Deutschland Uber Alles' after 'Turkey in the Straw'.
And although I scorn the Untermensch, the deviant, the Jew:
I tell them so _politely_, and I serve them ice cream too.
But so narrow-minded are they (so unethical as well!)
that they seldom come to sample the fine ice cream that I sell!
Nor even will they enter into rational debates
scheduled daily in my ice cream truck with all my skinhead mates.
So you see, it's a rankest prejudice -- as blatant as it's shitty --
that my fine all-natural ice cream has not yet won "Best In City".

#482 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2014, 11:49 PM:

One thought, though perhaps a shift of direction: I don't think a field which venerates Tolkien, R. A. Lafferty, and Gene Wolfe, conservative Roman Catholics all, Hugo-nominated all though Hugo winning none, can reasonably be said to be hostile to conservatives. But I do not think that Correia and Day fare well in that company. Up your game, guys.

(The only recent writer I can think of who strikes some of the same notes is James Treadwell. (This may indicate that I have a tin ear, or am not reading enough.) Do I think he will turn out to be another of the greats? Hoom, hom, too early to say.)

#483 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 12:17 AM:

I sometimes wonder if people who espouse extreme racist/sexist/homophobic notions are convinced that the POCs and women and QUILTBAG people they denigrate so are actually incapable of feelings.

It's the ONLY way I can imagine any of them have to deny, as so many do, that their words aren't actually hurting anyone.

Denying anyone suffers real pain from what they say is the only way they can say, straight-faced, that it's just politics we're disagreeing about, and not their own application of pain upon others, and that people (Those suffering and those capable of empathy for them) who aren't being "objective" about that applied pain are only doing so out of a lack of intellectual rigour.

#484 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 01:05 AM:

lighthill at 481: That's astounding. A poetic evisceration of which I've not seen the like.

#485 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 01:06 AM:

#483: There is another possibility, but it is likely worse than imagining that The Other is incapable of feeling pain.

That is: They don't think the pain of belittlement and exclusion matters. Or can be "gotten over" or "toughed out."

Or perhaps: We're talking about people whose own exclusion and belittlement and pain made them small and hard and loud. Aggrieved dweebs.

#486 ::: lexicat ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 01:27 AM:

lighthill @481, that's amazing!

#487 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 02:06 AM:

lighthill 481: Brilliant! I love it. May I quote it elseweb?

#488 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 02:14 AM:

Calvin Doge @468; Ross who is not our usual Ross @478:

Call me old fashioned and silly, but I always read the comment thread before adding my two cents' worth.

Frequently, I even demonstrate that I have done by replying to actual people rather than simply laying my talking points like a rather over-eager chicken.

#489 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 02:21 AM:

LOL @ "Calvin Doge"!

So privilege. Much redundant. Wow.

#490 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 02:51 AM:

Xopher Halftongue #439, and any others thinking of ranking a work below "No Award" in their ballot:

If my reading of how the votes are tallied is correct, it is better to omit a work from your ballot completely than to rank it below "No Award".

If a work is ranked below "No Award":
"Note that No Award is being treated just like other nominees. This means that No Award can be, and indeed normally is, eliminated as a candidate. Any preferences below No Award can then be redistributed just as they would be for any other candidate."

#491 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 03:02 AM:

Wyman Cook @472:
I want to urge you to go to Larry's blog and comment. If your views can't survive debate in a venue you don't control, then maybe you need to reexamine them.

I'm not Teresa, of course. But I do wonder why, in this finite life, so full of fascinating books, delicious food, and charming and pleasant people, would any person want to stick their hand into that particular lion's mouth? Correia's blog is not the neutral territory you imply; the tone and tenor of its commentariat looks to me to be not just negative but stirred up and looking for "bad guys" to jump all over. That's certainly what I'm getting, both from the people who parachute in here and the time I spent reading his thread.

I have a long-running aversion to spoon bandits: people who come up and demand that I spend a slice of my energy and my joy on their particular obsession, with no perceptible benefit to me. (Indeed, it's often a heads-I-win, tails-you-lose demand: come spend your energy or I will make you miserable.) It's rather like a internet libertarian feels about taxes, if you will.

Invitations to debate on the web—particularly of the "come out of your space so we can surround you properly" nature—are often spoon banditry. This goes doubly so for conversations where it's "my mob versus your mob", in anyone's head.

Here's the reality. Patrick made a perfectly innoccuous post*. The community was talking about the Hugos in general. The thread was then linked to from a contentious, hurr-hurr liberals-suck thread on Correia's blog, and (I guess?) Facebook as well. The first sign of this was blatant trollery and sock-puppetry; only later did it become a mix of people willing to engage and people only here to spout their shit and move on. People, including Teresa, responded according to their own natures and the natures of their disputants, hopng to turn an ill-mannered and ill-natured invasion into a good and productive conversation, despite the best efforts of some of the visitors.

Nowhere in there was the promise, or even the implication of a desire, to go to Correia's blog and be pummelled by his unfettered commentariat.

-----
* Ironically, linking approvingly to Scalzi's "I'm going to read the text even if I loathe the author" post. The PNH post that talks about how that's not the only approach, and indeed, how it's a privileged approach that is not equally accessible to everyone, is elsewhere and has not been invaded.

Which fact is not improving my opinion of our recent visitors' engagement or interest in anything other than having a fight.

#492 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Wielder of Flamethrowers ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 03:10 AM:

dh @475:
I think the challenge was given that none of Vox Days fans had posted a defense or rather a praise of his works. I would be more than happy to having read almost all of the category and read the work in question.

I doubt it would lead to good conversation, given the context. Best not.

#493 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 03:15 AM:

Kevin Standlee:

Can I just take a moment to say thank you? This is the second venue where you have appeared in difficult conversations to add clear, well-explained facts to the mix. I very much appreciate the input, and I think most of the people in this thread would agree with me.

#494 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 05:44 AM:

Xopher @ 446: I should probably say that several of the points I was making have been made by other people, in other fora. But I thought they belonged in this conversation, at the point it had then reached.

#495 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 08:51 AM:

Lee #460: I've been joking for decades about "the Mercedes Lackey school of heavy-handed social commentary" -- but Lackey remains an author I read with considerable enjoyment,

Well, the thing I like about Valdemar is that the "preachiness" -- both by characters and events -- is explained in universe! (For non-readers, the central conceit of the Valdemar series is that it's a world where the gods may have finite power and various restrictions, but they really are benevolent, competent, and paying attention. Foresighted, even.)

#496 ::: Bruce ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 09:03 AM:

Correia writes the best action stories now around. Decades of informed personal experience with firearms, snappy dialog, enough narrative drive to make Robert E Howard take notes. An informed Hugo voter who hates gun nuts should vote against him, but in the knowledge that if he wins a Hugo the Hugos won't lose caste. Rather, they will gain.

I've only read a couple chapters of one of VD's early books, The World in Shadow. The hero starts as he means to finish, forcefully contradicting a lady to her face like a Bernard Shaw character. I'll probably finish the book sometime. Might try the elf stuff later. I've only read one John Scalzi book, Little Fuzzies. After a while I finished it. Probably won't get around to his others. They write about as well, and take an interest in similar political issues. I'd imagine votes will follow the reader's politics.

Riefenstahl had a genius for depicting fit persons taking athleticism and teamwork to the point of transcendence. Transcendent evil, sometimes. Not always. The Nuba aren't Nazis. Never seen the whole of Triumph of the Will, no hurry.

I don't think Chinatown reeks of Polanski's vice the same way as the adorable little boy fascinated by Michael Jackson in Smooth Criminal. Whoopi Goldberg's defense of Polanski speaks for the community of talented, drug-taking manic fornicators more than for rapists as such. Yay Hollywood.

#497 ::: lighthill ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 09:21 AM:

Benjamin Wolfe @484, lexicat @486: Thank you!

Xopher @487: Thank you! Certainly, feel free to quote it wherever. ("Use only for good.")

#498 ::: scottishmentat ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 09:56 AM:

Hullo,
I thought I might humbly tackle the task of praising a set of works by Mr. Vox Day.
Again, this is personal taste, but I would like to communicate what I find particularly worthy about the series, and perhaps a bit about his works in general.
Right, let us get started with Throne of Bones. (Minor spoilers, I will try to avoid specifics)
First off, I would like to very strongly contrast this with George R. R. Martin's 'Game of Thrones'- given there is a passing similarity in that these are both stories of many characters and complex plots, and they have ‘Throne’ in the title :). While Martin writes truly excellent plot, a master craft truly, I find his books to be excessively brutal, and brutal for more often than not, no reason. There are no 'good guys', no real protagonists. There is a lot of ugly stuff that happens, but it is difficult for me to discern a reason why (not to say there might be reasons, please pardon my ability to not easily see them).
In contrast- Throne of Bones also contains some tragic events- considerably less graphic but focally there for good purpose. Evil happens, but it happens in such a way that there is purpose in it, not for the sake of simple exposition of brutality. Evil happens to drastically change the relationship of characters (a daughter suddenly wisens to the political machinations of the world after a father kills her gladiator paramour, a man is forced to kill his nephew due to the rigorous rules of warfare). These events trigger complex changes in characters that clearly affect them and those around them for the remainder of the book.
On its own merits, I also find that relationships between parents and children to have some particular gems. There are multiple examples of parents struggling to teach their children how to live rightly in this difficult, warlike world. To note: Corvus, a leader of one of the legionary units, and his son Marcus (also called ‘Clericus’). Corvus is very much a man’s man- a stalwart leader of men and yet possessing of a tender heart for his son. Marcus is very much not his father- possessing of a more analytical mind and at first drawn to the works of the Church, he is nonetheless catapulted into the world of the military for cultural reasons, being of a ruling family of sorts. Marcus is untried and green- not used to the ways of war, and finds his father overly harsh in the ways justice is meted out over a significant and tragic event. What I appreciate most here is the dialog and interaction between the two, how a father so different from his son can yet seek common ground, and love him none-the-less, and likewise how the son learns about the complications of life from his father, and through loving him, learns how to grow to be a wise commander.
This strikes me particularly as I am a father myself with a son with very different predilections. It is a joyful thing to see differences being conquered by familial love, an in reading such things, increased my affections for my own children.
This brings me to the final point- say what you will of Vox Day’s comments elsewhere- what shines through most for me in this novel is Christian love, self-sacrificing, and covering a multitude of sins. There is also ache and repentance for sins committed- evil does not exist in a vacuum, but inflicts damage upon the soul. The characters are interesting and subtle, far from stereotypical, and have complex motivations. To sum up- a very excellent story, and a superb beginning to what I hope will be a lengthy series.

#499 ::: A VD Fan ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 10:02 AM:

(You know what I would love? adore? enjoy the heck out of? A genuine Larry Correia fan coming here and enthusing about the work. Taking about what it is, not what it is not; talking about why they love it rather than why they hate Librul SF and the Libruls who read it.
And that is the difference between Correia and Day, in my view. I can't picture a Day fan doing that and making it work.)

I am a fan of Opera Vita Aeterna (OVA) and was one of the people who voted for its nomination. What can I say? It resonated with me. Perhaps you can understand what OVA is (and, by omission, what it is not) a little better with my point of view.

It will be necessary to use spoilers to explain what I found appealing in OVA. I’m not certain how many of you will care about that but I offer you a fair warning.

***

A brief rundown of OVA is as follows: Bessarias is an elf and a powerful mage who decides to learn about the religion of Man. Waleran is the Abbot of a small order and decides to let Bessarias study with his monks while the elf copies the 45 apocrypha of Waleran’s faith. Bessarias and Waleran grow to be close friends while the elf stays in the abby. Mastema is an entity who hates men and wants Bessarias to return home. When Bessarias refuses several times, Mastema has a group of goblins murder everyone in Waleran’s order while the elf is away. Bessarias finds Waleran’s body beneath a crucifix and demands God give Waleran the afterlife his friend desired. A short ending takes place 300 years later, where we learn Bessarias did finish the work after Waleran’s death.

Personally, I like reading works with depth. OVA is layered with themes that are deeper than many novels I read last year.

As a Catholic I often interact with friends who do not believe the things I do. For example, one of my closest friends is an atheist and we’ve had a number of memorable conversations in different degrees of civility. We both agree, (as I’m sure all of you would) having a friend with such stark differences in religious belief can make conversations about life challenging. However, when dialogue is open and honest it can be one of life’s most rewarding experiences. I found that OVA captured that in the conversations between Bessarias and Waleran.

An angle I particularly enjoyed were the undertones of tolerance subtly woven in. Bessarias is supposed to be a soulless creature and an affront to what the Monks of Saint Dioscurus believe, much as they are supposed to be superstitious children to the immortal elf. In this world, we should have seen a spectacular confrontation between a powerful mage and the men. Instead, the elf was welcomed even though he was different because the monk’s religion told them to accept all who ask for shelter. Bessarias was skeptical at first yet willing to spend a decade learning from men. When Bessarias and Waleran showed respect and tolerance to one another, each found great value in the other’s friendship.

The value of friendship with “the Other” is a strong message. As a reader, I could feel the bond between Bessarias and Waleran growing in each scene despite the radical racial and spiritual differences in the two. The respect they showed one another made me care about them both, and when the Ordo Sancti Discuri are murdered near the end, the reader is angered along with Bessarias. Bessarias is furious with God for His failure to protect His people. The elf weeps over his friend’s body and knows he is the cause of Waleran’s death. We never discover if Bessarias converted or rejected the faith.

I reread the work on Easter before attending Mass and found the ending to be very powerful. It’s easy to blame God for the failures and difficulties in our lives. To paraphrase Thomas Paine; the summer Catholic shrinks away from their faith in a crisis. Bessarias shows us the result of intellectual interest without true faith: bitter tears of regret.

OVA explores tolerance, faith, friendship, hatred, and the pursuit of knowledge. These are important topics and I am glad to have viewed them through this lens. Maybe this is the best story Vox Day has written so far, but if any of his other works have half as much depth I expect he will join the list of authors I read immediately upon publication.

#500 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 10:22 AM:

And yet, I am not persuaded to read Day's work.

It's not that I'm denigrating anyone's reading experience—I have a violent aversion to the concept of "guilty pleasures", particularly in literature. I'm delighted that you have found works that tickle your neurons and inspire you.

But I simply suspect that none of Day's storytelling is going to overcome the revulsion of his screed against Jemisin, or the rather dreary feeling of exhaustion that creeps over me when I remember the various conversations he has trolled over time.

Really, it's just not gonna happen. The miasma of the association is there. That's what I meant when I said I might be persuausible regarding Correia, but not regarding Day.

#501 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 10:23 AM:

Bruce, 496: Small correction. Little Fuzzy (singular Fuzzy, not "Fuzzies") was by H. Beam Piper, and appeared in 1962. John Scalzi's estate-approved "reboot" of the story, published in 2011, was called Fuzzy Nation.

To reiterate for the benefit of anyone unclear on the subject: I read and enjoy all kinds of stuff by people whose politics differ from mine. I'm the editor on David Weber's Safehold books, for cry eye, and I enjoy the crap out of them. I grew up reading Robert A. Heinlein and Poul Anderson right alongside my Samuel R. Delany and Joanna Russ, and I'll argue with anyone who wants to dismiss the value of Heinlein and Anderson.

But this whole whinge being put forth on certain SF blogs about how Political Correctness Is Ruining SF--because a bunch of people are grossed out by an out-and-out white supremacist, or because another (overlapping but not identical) bunch of people are no longer willing to put up with the old double standard of how women get treated at SF's social gatherings--is a load of whiny crap. The people putting it forth seem to like stories about tough, self-reliant dudes, but in the way they react to even the mildest challenge to their assumptions, they're a bunch of sniffling crybabies, wailing away about how some vast conspiracy of "liberals" or "social-justice warriors" is Keeping Them Down, Man.

I want to ask them, didn't you read Heinlein? Is this sort of endless self-pity the way you think a Heinlein protagonist (or a Heinlein Wise Old Man) would deal with challenge and social change? Really?

#502 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 10:35 AM:

Regarding the defenses of the Vox Day novelette: Good to know that someone gets something out of it. Art is like that.

It doesn't surprise me that people without any connection to Vox Day's various acts of thuggery are capable of finding things to enjoy in his work. I've enjoyed works of art that were created by murderers. But I wouldn't expect their victims' friends and next-of-kin to find the same enjoyment. We all have our privileges, and our limitations.

#503 ::: A VD Fan ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 10:42 AM:

And yet, I am not persuaded to read Day's work.
It's not that I'm denigrating anyone's reading experience—I have a violent aversion to the concept of "guilty pleasures", particularly in literature. I'm delighted that you have found works that tickle your neurons and inspire you.
But I simply suspect that none of Day's storytelling is going to overcome the revulsion of his screed against Jemisin, or the rather dreary feeling of exhaustion that creeps over me when I remember the various conversations he has trolled over time.
Really, it's just not gonna happen. The miasma of the association is there. That's what I meant when I said I might be persuausible regarding Correia, but not regarding Day.

To be fair, I wasn’t trying to persuade you. You only suspected a VD fan would be unable to come here and “enthuse” about the work “taking about what it is, not what it is not”. Is it fair to say I have provided sufficient evidence to the contrary?

#504 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 11:05 AM:

Yes. Sure. You have. Should we give you a cookie for it?

#505 ::: A VD Fan ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 11:08 AM:

Regarding the defenses of the Vox Day novelette: Good to know that someone gets something out of it. Art is like that.
It doesn't surprise me that people without any connection to Vox Day's various acts of thuggery are capable of finding things to enjoy in his work. I've enjoyed works of art that were created by murderers. But I wouldn't expect their victims' friends and next-of-kin to find the same enjoyment. We all have our privileges, and our limitations.


I’m not certain comparing VD to a murderer is fair since, and please correct me if I’m wrong, he’s only guilty of saying mean things on the internet. But I understand your point as he has less than flattering things to say about your wife and that probably clouds your judgment.

I read both of Vox Day’s blogs regularly, so I am quite familiar with the man. In fact, I typically read Whatever and Vox Popoli back to back (along with at least a dozen other industry blogs all across the ideological spectrum) and have seen plenty of mean things said on all sides. Doesn't matter to me. As a consumer of speculative fiction I have a duty to point out what I like and what I do not as I cannot possibly expect publishers to read my mind.

I like the books Vox Day writes, and I look forward to reading more of them.

#506 ::: A VD Fan ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 11:10 AM:

Yes. Sure. You have. Should we give you a cookie for it?

It's kind of you to agree.

#507 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 11:31 AM:

A VD Fan, I infer from what you write that you are a straight white male (and probably at least nominally Christian). I infer this because I can't imagine a non-straight, non-white, or non-male person reducing Vox Day's transgressions to "saying mean things on the internet."

You're correct that he isn't a murderer as far as we know. He is, however, an advocate of murder (he supported the Taliban in their attempt on Mulala Yousafzi), which isn't really that much better.

What you don't get is that attacks on a group to which I belong are personal attacks on me. I've been attacked by Vox Day. He's said that I should be killed. I've just said I want to make sure he doesn't get a Hugo.

I happen to think that's quite a measured response, considering.

#508 ::: trev006 ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 11:32 AM:

They're handing out cookies now? I want in.

After reading "The Last WitchKing," I felt that I had to respond myself. Vox Day's apparently developed a reputation as a white supremacist, but I think there are two stories in this book that show considerable intelligence and empathy about racial relations. Even if I admitted that a neo-Nazi could expound on such ideas with any kind of coherence, the allegory of Wiccam Fensboro alone would be sufficient for the Aryans to throw Vox against a wall. I can't pretend to understand why someone embraces iconoclasm until the point of being a pariah to most of the world- including the extremists he is apparently lumped in with- but it's a common malady in the very rich. Of course it's also entirely possible that some of you have only heard lies and third-hand rumor about the man.

But that's not my debate. Getting back to "Opera Vita Aeterna" specifically, Bessarias is hardly an easy pushover, a straw atheist who exists to be converted to the Faith. Maybe the monks think elves have no souls, but could they reflect that elves think the same way about primitive humans? Possibly. Bessarias is practically a god in his own right, an incredibly talented and clever sorceror whose rejection of a God is not going to die easily, if indeed it ever dies. Yet do the things outside faith in God end up leading to a monumental victory for Him? I think so, but you have to go some years into the future to see it.

You don't have to take my word for it, though. I believe OVA, if not TLW itself, would be free in the voting pack, and I got my copy on Amazon for a very reasonable cost. Personally, I am ready to spend money on an author whose works actually get my attention, and if you can think of a sci-fi author with a more thoughtful reflection on faith and tolerance, I'd like to hear their name.

Now, where's that cookie?

#509 ::: runeghost ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 11:35 AM:

I'm delurking to reluctantly confess to more-than-occasionally reading various flavours of "Men's Adventure" as a guilty pleasure. It's a habit that started at a much younger age after running out of accessible Doc Savage. Within that genre, I found Correia's two Dead Six novels with Mike Kupari pretty good, although imho Michael Z. Williamson is better. I've tried Correria's other work, and found no personal interest in it. After the discussion around this year's Hugos, I doubt I ever will.

That's because I was previously only peripherally aware that Mr. Correia even had a blog, much less of its contents. It's a rather odd reversal - I'm not a huge Scalzi fan, and only read his fiction after strong recommendations. I did enjoy most of Redshirts, but the rest of his fiction just doesn't push my buttons. That said, Scalzi's blog has been full of civilized and informative discourse every time I've read it. In contrast, Correia's blog is simply toxic, and the exposure to his personal writing I've gotten this morning has permanently soured any future enjoyment I might have had for anything he could write.

#510 ::: Eric Ashley ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 11:41 AM:

I am a fan of Larry Correia, Vox Day, and Col. Tom Kratman. I've read thousands of SF/F novels, pretty close to every letter of the alphabet from Asimov to Zelazny. I was holding Snow Crash when my wife-to-be asked me what book I was reading.

I have no problem with your saying Vox is a disgusting person and a racist who you won't bother to read. From hearsay, I find the hard feminist politics of Handmaid's Tale to be anti-human, and I gave up on Arthur C. Clarke after he preached at me in Songs of a Distant Earth, and then I heard rumors of some truly outstandingly disgusting behavior.

Unlike many in the SF/F community I've long been aware of the Hugo Awards, but I give them practically no weight in my buying decisions.

It also seems very clear that Correia has made his point. The Hugos are not about merit. I have no objection to that as previously stated. I do object to claims of 'we're fair-minded, and it seems that only lefties are good artists this year, so sad.' with a false tear of sympathy for those poor benighted righties. That's a little much to take.

I like Vox's settings. His Roman Empire setting in ATOB is unusual and gracefully authoritative in modern fantasy. His Rysalan setting in A Man Disrupted and the others is quite good. I give it a B (and most SF settings are less worthy)(furthermore, I'm a good, and very quick setting guy). The idea of a planetary economy based on offering exile to rich losers in the various coups and rebellions across the galaxy is a fruitful and unusual setting.

As a guy who's written some intricate settings, I was very impressed with the plots of the spymasters of A Programmed Mind. It looked to be a seriously challenging intellectual endeavour to write that book.

I also enjoyed the dealing with the rebellious young female in ATOB. Instead of going with the modern Romance of Sleep Around, it went more Roman. And the Romans, if I have my source right, believed that the man of the house had a great soul he shared with the others in his house. Or to put it another way, one of the perennial complaints of SF/F is that people in different times and aliens all end up acting like white bread Americans. ATOB is not middle class Americana.

Why I like Larry Correia is more direct.

From memory.....On Tuesday, I got to live the American Dream. I got to throw my boss out of a fourteen story window.

Something like that is the first two sentences of Monster Hunter. How can anyone not LOVE a book like that?

Big guns, explosions, wicked bad guys, faithful friends....the Monster Hunter books are intelligent summer blockbusters. Did you like Captain America: Winter Soldier? You'll like MH.

His Grim Noir books are more intelligent. They have the setting of the Thirties which I like. Also, they have a well worked out system of 'magic'.

This is something I enjoy in books. I like Mistborn because of the metals system of magic. I liked Vinge's alien teleport novel because of the same working out of new powers. Other books have done the same thing, and I find it enjoyable.

Its not the only way of writing magic that I like, but it is one.

And next year, there is a good chance that Col. Kratman is going to be on the Hugo noms.

And while I've enjoyed David Weber's books (met him a couple times) including the Safehold, let me point out something. Safehold is basically the story of the destruction of a extraordinarily corrupt Catholic church by Protestant England. This is not something I would expect a liberal to be offended by.


#511 ::: Bruce ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 11:41 AM:

Patrick #502- Appreciate the correction. Another good thing about Correia- his truly excellent monster detailing. The trailer park High Elves, to take just one example, are like something from the best of Weird Tales, or the possessed mechanical computer in The Laundry Files.

#512 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 11:50 AM:

lighthill @481: Brilliant!

#513 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 12:03 PM:

Free cookies all round. Some assembly required. Void where prohibited.

Also, A VD Fan @505 (he’s only guilty of saying mean things on the internet.), meet scottishmentat @498 (It is a joyful thing to see differences being conquered by familial love, an in reading such things, increased my affections for my own children.). You two should talk about whether words matter.

#514 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 12:22 PM:

Eric Ashley, #510: "I have no problem with your saying Vox is a disgusting person and a racist who you won't bother to read. From hearsay,…"

I saw you palm that card. Day's racism and homophobia are not hearsay. Vox has written the words himself and published them proudly. Your defense of him is blatant sophistry.

Day claims to be a Christian conservative. One of the great defining attributes of early Christians was the willingness to die for their beliefs. Not to kill, even in self-defense. Is that not a central symbol of Christianity? Jesus, willing to endure torture and execution on behalf of all humanity? To speak the truth to power, even when power has the ability and will to put you to death.

What are you? What is Day?

#515 ::: Eric Ashley ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 12:35 PM:

Randolph, slow down and reread those sentences. Notice that there is a Period between Read and From. Or to be plainer, when I speak from hearsay, I speak of Handmaid's Tale, which I have not read, nor do I intend to do so.

Furthermore, as stated, I have no problem if you think Vox Day a racist and a homophobe. I might laugh at you, but you're welcome to your opinion.

I think you've validated Larry Correia's Internet Check List for Arguing with Liberals. One of the first is 'Skim until offended' as you clearly did not read closely what I wrote, and you picked up the first thing I 'did bad' to slam as sophistry.

Before I tell you what I am, how about you tell me what you are?

Randolph, there are a number of liberals who are capable arguers. Indeed some that could pawn me silly. But you seem to be arguing out of your weight class.

#516 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 12:45 PM:

So, VD is not a racist?

#517 ::: WhiteBirch12 ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 12:47 PM:

Hi-

I also enjoyed Opera Vita Aeterna. I thought it was a remarkably subtle work, one that avoided easy answers or cliches. I enjoy the "Roman Empire/Catholic Church in a fantasy world" setting, and as far as I know it's unique.

What I particularly enjoyed about OVA was its ambiguity. Another poster provided a summary above, but to recap, a powerful elven sorcerer visits a monastery to learn about the human religion. During his years there, he grows close to the monks, but they are all killed by a vengeful familiar of his while he is away on a short trip.

There is no spectacular conversion scene at the end. No beings of light come down from heaven to reveal the truth of Jesus Christ. The last scene with the elf has him kneeling before the altar and crying, denouncing the figure on the cross as a "sad, wooden fraud." We never find out what he thought, or what happened to him after that. The story is a more damning indictment of God than most Atheist tracts I've read.

The ambiguity feels very real to me. I know the general opinion around here is that VD is a mouth-breathing troglodyte, but I would highly encourage anyone reading this to check out the (freely available) book and see for themselves. It is the work of a very sophisticated thinker, and a genuine talent.

#518 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 12:53 PM:

The other question for the people who are writing in support of Correia and Day—are these works the best fantasy and sf have to offer? So far I've seen Correia's novel described as a good, fun book. The best novel of the field?

As to Day, conversion stories are largely of interest to people who are already believers and to whom belief is a serious matter. Religious stories have won Hugos and Hugo nominations before. “Opera Vita Aeterna” is going to have to be a whacking great story, to rank as the best of the year, up with the likes of Blish, Walter Miller, Tolkien, Lafferty, and Wolfe.

Finally, I want to draw attention to something else. Would Robert Heinlein ever have stacked an awards nomination process in his favor? Anderson? Any of the great conservative writers of the field? I don't think so. Correia and Day seem awfully small to do this.

#519 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 12:54 PM:

I'd love to hear an actual argument that Vox Day is not a racist. Calling blacks "half-savages" somehow doesn't qualify?

Must be some new use of the word 'racist' I wasn't previously acquainted with.

Seriously, Eric. What definition are you using that excludes VD, one of the most vocally, indeed I should say proudly, racist voices on the internet?

#520 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 12:56 PM:

"A VD Fan" says to me: "But I understand your point as he has less than flattering things to say about your wife and that probably clouds your judgment."

Oh, my judgment of Vox was established, and published, well before he started spitting out kindergarden-level insults at Teresa about her weight and appearance.

#521 ::: Eric Ashley ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 01:02 PM:

Serge,
Should the Hugo Awards be based on artistic merit of the works nominated?

#522 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 01:04 PM:

I guess VD was thrown out of the SFWA by Steven Gould because Steven is a capricious tyrant.

#523 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 01:06 PM:

Eric... You are avoiding my question. Answer it then I'll respond.

#524 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 01:10 PM:

No, seriously, I want to hear you argue that VD isn't racist. Judge his work independently if you want; that's your privilege (and I use the term advisedly).

But you've made an extraordinary claim; I'm waiting for the extraordinary evidence, or at least an argument. I don't believe you can make one that's even coherent, much less convincing.

#525 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 01:13 PM:

I observed that I read and enjoy plenty of stuff by people with political views different from my own. I mentioned, among other things, that I'm David Weber's editor at Tor, on the Safehold books, which I quite enjoy.

Presumably in response, Eric Ashley, in #510, says: "[L]et me point out something. Safehold is basically the story of the destruction of a extraordinarily corrupt Catholic church by Protestant England. This is not something I would expect a liberal to be offended by."

It's difficult to know where to start with this. First and most obviously, while the Safehold books certainly owe a lot to the Reformation, the relationship is similar to that of the Wars of the Roses to GRRM's Song of Ice and Fire. They're not historical novels. Second, I think the Reformation was sufficiently long ago, and sufficiently long and complicated, that it doesn't really neatly map onto modern "left" versus "right" concerns. Third, Weber is definitely a modern conservative (albeit not a stupid one), and one with some progressive social views, and all of this shows in his books, as it would, because he's an honest and thoughtful writer. Fourth, I'm a Catholic, you eedjit.

So, yes, you're definitely an expert on what both "a liberal" and "Patrick Nielsen Hayden" would "be offended by."

#526 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 01:16 PM:

Just for calibration, do you think Cliven Bundy is a racist? How about Strom Thurmond, was he? Do you think the KKK is a racist organisation, or are they just unfairly maligned by people who are jealous of their excellence?

#527 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 01:21 PM:

(Multi-part answers with a punchline, like the one I just put up in #525, always remind me of a particular old joke with a long setup that I always forget. Basically it involves an embassy reception and a tipsy guy who won't stop importuning someone to dance with him, which ultimately gets him the response, "No, I will not dance with you. For three reasons. First, you are drunk. Second, they are playing the national anthem. And third, because I am the Archbishop of Montevideo.")

(Teresa and I have long used "And third, because I am the Archbishop of Montevideo" as a placeholder for "This is wrong for multiple reasons, the last of which makes the whole thing extra-ridiculous.")

#528 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 01:27 PM:

Patrick, may I say that I particularly enjoy such things? Reading 525, I was thinking wait, isn't he even going to mention...oh, YES! *falls over laughing*

#529 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 01:43 PM:

Eric, in that infamous tweet, Vox Day wrote of N K Jemsin, "being an educated but ignorant savage" as well as many other racial slurs. He is either a racist or someone using racial slurs for a propaganda purpose. Is it more vile to be a racist, or to incite racists for political purposes?

He has written that "to the extent nature is responsible, homosexuality is a birth defect from every relevant secular, material, and sociological perspective." I can only wonder what those perspectives are. But the language also is striking. He writes like a eugenicist.

Day has advocated policies of retribution by mass execution. If he were a Roman in the time of early Christianity, he would, I think, been one of those who rationalized the cleansing of Palestine of Jews. (Ironically, in this day and age, he instead advocates the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.) It seems he would have been one of the Romans who advocated the extermination of the early Christians.

Having now read more of Day's political writings than I like, I feel like I have been dipped in sewage. Not just raw sewage, but sewage that has been carefully processed to increase its toxicity, and scented to cover that toxicity.

And all of this is deeply unChristian.

What is Day? Eric, who are you that you think a diet of scented sewage is a healthy thing? Believe me, it is not. James Blish often wrote as devils advocate, but there was a basic decency in the man, or at least in his writing, which I am not seeing in Day's writing.

#530 ::: Kevin Standlee ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 01:52 PM:

abi @493: Thank you.

I have actually been banned in a particular "right wing" venue because I got so fed up with what I called Oppression Fantasies of people who so desperately assume that theirs are the only real opinions, and that therefore the only way the Other Guy could have won was due to treachery.

I'm a WSFS partisan. I've spent much of my life working on keeping the official business of WSFS -- which is really only a small part of Worldcon -- running above-board and in the open. So anyone who accuses WSFS and Worldcon of corruption when in fact we run a remarkably open (not perfect, never claimed that) system can get me going into attack-dog mode.

I think one thing that really gets my goat is people coming upon Worldcon, WSFS, and the Hugo Awards out of the blue and assuming that naturally it is run by a Big Money Corporation and is obviously corrupt, because of course that's how they'd do it. Admittedly, when you spell out just how chaotically Worldcons and WSFS are organized, they assume you must be lying because no sane person would have deliberately set things up the way they are. It wasn't done deliberately. It grew one step at a time over sixty years. Those of us who work on the governance try to hold together an implicitly unstable and chaotic system -- similar to how the US government worked under the Articles of Confederation before the Constitution of 1787 -- because we love Worldcon and its community, not because someone is paying us to do so. (You couldn't afford our rates!)

#531 ::: Antonia T. Tiger ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 02:05 PM:

It is good to know that there are people who might even pay to read one of my stories.

There's certainly elements of them that seem to be just down their street. There is the former officer in the Indian Army, now a minor diplomat, who happens to by a spy in Berlin. There is the pioneer military parachutist who makes Otto Skorzeny look slow-witted and feeble. There is the intrepid aviator who started out setting a motor-cycle speed record at Brooklands.

But I still foresee problems.

The military parachutist is an Anarchist and avowed worshipper of Odin.

The spy is the son of a farm-worker and thinks Gandhi and Orwell know what they are talking about.

The aviator is the daughter of a Duke, who owns some coalmines where the miners didn't go on strike in 1926, and when she meets the spy she ends up marrying him: together they kill fascists.

(The spy's best friend happens to be gay, and plays a mean ukulele version of Die Fahne hoch in the style of George Formby)

On reflection, I don't think they will read it. Which eases my conscience somewhat over the possible effects of excessive blood pressure.

Seriously guys (I bet they're all guys, whatever nym they use), you don't have to read this sample.

They came for Alberto Gonzales as he walked out into the bright sun of the square before Valencia's cathedral. He had been to Confess his sins, which were numerous, and to attend Mass, which was soothing to his troubled mind. He had prayed for Father Montoya and his village, because they were good people trapped in a bad war, and he had lit an expensive candle, to leave the flame flickering fitfully before the shrine to a Saint. They came for Alberto Gonzales, also with the intent to create fear, and terror, but he was not a priest, and he was neither meek not holy. Despite his name, and despite his command of the language, he was not Spanish. Rain Island by choice, Mexican by birth, and if there was any drop of Spanish blood in his veins, it was the blood of the Conquistadores.

They had at least been soldiers.

And, if you had dug into his mind, none of that really mattered. It was the thought of what his comrades might think, rather than the example of Cortes. The Army Union Landing Force doesn't give up, and on his Rain Island uniform, set aside when he had volunteered for this sorry mess, were the signs that his courage had been hard tested, and had not failed him. There were symbols of his skill.

You have to try really hard to surprise an Alfie, and the four men who confronted him had not bothered to try. After all, they had El Tigre carbines, and this outsider, this bloody-handed counter-revolutionary, only had a pistol, and that was in its holster, butt-forward on his right side.

They didn't consider the reasons why Alberto's holster was low on his leg, with a leather lace holding it to his thigh. They had noticed the oddly-shaped hatchet on the other side of his waist-belt, but Miguel would take his left arm before he could reach either weapon. And Essua would use the butt of his carbine.

Of course, they had to do things properly. They had to play to their audience.

Bad mistake.

Alberto wasn't sure why he paused on the Church steps, and lit a cheroot. He preferred spice sticks anyway. But it slightly altered the geometry. They had to seperate themselves from the crowd. They became visible, and they seemed to swagger that little bit more. Alberto would have liked dramatic music if this were a scene in a movie, perhaps somebody whistling, and the sudden beat of drums.

He'd learned the draw from on old-time cavalryman named Esterhazy, but a Spontoonie would have called it a pilot's draw. His right hand went for the gun, arm and wrist twisting in unison so that his fingers went between the pistol grip and his side. The man on his left was half a pace too far away, and that was enough. Some armies carry bayonets, which don't run out of ammunition. Rain Island issues tomahawks, of a sort which the Hudson's Bay Company still sells. They look more like a tool than a weapon, but anything can be a weapon.

Miguel took the steel-shod end of the haft in his belly, much the same as Essua had planned to strike Alberto, and for much the same reason. The shock stops a man. It can drive the air from his lungs, double him over in helpless pain, and even do eventually fatal damage. And Essua took the first bullet. It wasn't exactly aimed, more a consequence of gun muzzle against hostile flesh. It would have to be enough. Alberto wasn't consciously counting, but he moved, not giving the enemy a chance to take aim. The second shot of the three that rang out in the square tore across his ribs, but he was in the adrenaline surge, fight or flight, and he was fighting.

It wasn't rage or battle-frenzy. He was no shield-chewing Norseman. He knew the pain was there, but it didn't take control. The third and last shot was his, more aimed than before. And the fourth man, still returning the lever-loop of his carbine, took the stubby back-spike of the tomahawk in his temple.

Tomahawks may be tools, but they are tools of the warrior.

The crowd in the square was running. Alberto knew of no good reason to stay there. The Spanish have learned to run from gunfire, and a running man is just another running man in the crowd. But Alberto knew that he would have to keep running.

The pain hit him after about a quarter mile.

#532 ::: Sascha ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 02:05 PM:

> No, seriously, I want to hear you argue that VD isn't racist.

Vox's position is that there is no such thing as perfect equality, outside mathematics. This is true.

Therefore, it follows that any group, as for instance 'race', will not be equal on any particular metric.

So if you pick two groups, and define the factual metric used for judgement, one will always be superior by that particular factual metric.

Let us take this in the context of human subspecies, as that's a particularly egregiously misrepresented position of his. His positions are exactly in line with the latest accepted biology, that humans of African extraction are 100% homo sapiens sapiens DNA, whilst other groups are not. This is in line with what 23andme tells me about my own DNA, for example; I am 2.9% Neanderthal genes, therefore why yes I am a quantitatively different being than a pure homo sapiens sapiens. As that is a documented fact, it cannot be racist, as facts have no intentions. Facts are facts. Likewise, any conclusions that are proven by sound logic from facts cannot be racist, because logic has no intentions. Logic is logic, a subset of math.

By this world view, Vox feels he is not a racist. And I trust anyone who accepts that facts and conclusions soundly derived from facts are not racist even if you don't like them would agree.

And for those who feel that you can't accept facts and logic if you don't like them, and smear as racist those who do ... well, you been noticing how seriously we take your opinions about that? You want us to disavow Vox and his opinions, show us where he refuses to accept undebatable fact, or refuses to correct his thinking when unsound logic is identified. I for one have seen neither happen yet. But you're all certainly invited on Vox's behalf to demonstrate such wherever you see it!

#533 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 02:10 PM:

Eric @ 521: The fact that you appear to think that there is a simple answer to your question suggests that you haven't been following along. The idea that artistic merit has some ideal, Platonic form is one of those ideas which is reasonably up for debate.

There also seems to me a conflation of the argument of what the Hugos _are_ as opposed to what people wish that they were. In arguing that the Hugos should only be awarded based on merit, whatever merit may be defined as being, one is actually arguing that the Hugos should be changed. And, yes, you can totally argue that. But you should also be clear about what you're arguing. By making incorrect assumptions about what the thing is, your arguments about what it should be are badly muddied.

To be clear, part of the Hugo process has always been arguing amongst various people, voters and non-voters, about the worth of the various entrants. And issues such as literary merit, as well as other factors, have always had a part in the discussion. I kind a like such arguments. But there's never been only one argument, or only one set of values, or one criteria. Much of the recent flap has been, it seems to me, based on the obviously and patently false claim that there is a single criterion by which the Hugos are judged, and that this criterion is an incorrect one. The conversation has always been much odder and broader than this.

#534 ::: Eric Ashley ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 02:24 PM:

Serge, I'll take your given word.

Is Vox Day a racist? No, he believes in microevolutionary changes, which we all do, but he believes that humans are not immune to Darwin's littlest finger.

He also has a Time To Civilization theses which applies to all humans. You should understand his comments to the attacker, NK Jemisin in that context.

Question: Were the Yamomano Tribe savage? What of the Comanchero? What of my ancestors, the Vikings?

Xopher, when you use the word 'privilege' like that, it is an attack on me. Now I don't whine about this because getting attacked is what happens to anyone who tries to make things better.
So feel free to attack me, I don't care. But I'm also not going to pretend you're being nice when you're not.

============
....they're not historical novels....no one said they were.

....neatly map....true, but the current liberal dislikes the RCC and is for the tearing down of traditional authority centers. It maps close enough.

....Weber is a conservative...of course,everyone knows that. I've read upwards of fifteen of his books, I think.

....I'm a Catholic....and now you make your first point. Mea culpa.

Mr. Hayden, you should remember the Tactics of Mistake and avoid crossing swords with Vox Day at all costs. If I can knock you back a step, he will eat you alive.

==============

Randolph, I reccommend you read Camille Paglia on the abnormality of homosexuality. Note she is a lesbian and a liberal.

While Vox is considerably smarter than me, I can think of two relevant perspectives: Darwin's and for sociology, the vast Other that is not America.

As for scented sewage, Randolph, I live in a culture dedicated to Moloch and Mammon and to the Abyss. Some of Vox's ideas I disagree with, some I remain agnostic on, and some have helped me in my life.

Is he as good a write as Tolkien? He himself would snap out a 'don't be ridiculous, of course not'. Is he better than the others listed in his category? That is another question altogether.

==========
And Topher,I shall let you, a probable Democrat defend the Democratic institution of the KKK.

#535 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 02:26 PM:

Sascha @ 532: Embedded in your various statistics is the assumption that we have some fairly useful and functional understanding of how genetic diversity works and can evaluate its impact and utility. We kinda don't.

People don't all have the same genes. People who do mostly have the same genes don't always have those genes expressed in precisely the same ways. The variation in the social constructs that we call race don't have, as far as anyone can tell, clear defined qualitative differences that can be cleanly distinguished from cultural influences, early nutrition, and child-rearing practices (to name only a few.) The idea that absolute equality is a strictly mathematical concept is, well, mathematical, but not useful here. People aren't numbers.

The idea that people who espouse equality when talking about human justice somehow think that everyone is exactly the same is one of those gigantic straw men that stand so tall it is at risk of being set on fire by the sun.

The idea that something that we don't clearly understand and can't measure precisely should be used to judge a particular person and his value to society and likely behavior is, in fact, racist. Scientific dressing doesn't help. The idea an individual may, in some contexts, be more valuable than another individual is actually not closely related to the idea that an individual can be correctly evaluated and assessed based on his or her membership in a particular, broad category based on a minute amount of their genetic heritage. Among many other vital points, individuals are not statistics. Which any decent statistician will tell you.

#536 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 02:28 PM:

"So if you pick two groups, and define the factual metric used for judgement, one will always be superior by that particular factual metric."

But not every space is metrizable, which is another way of saying there is not always a way to define inferior and superior.

I am struck by the complexity of rationalizations deployed to defend Day. I am very much reminded of Orson Scott Card.

#537 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 02:44 PM:

Randolph @ 536: Absolutely true. The other thing is that people are pretty much never just one thing, and so, yeah, even if you can choose a single factor to metricize (is that the right word), it doesn't mean very much. Sure, X is taller than Y, but that doesn't say anything about smarter, kinder, better parent, more useful around the house, better lover, better artist, good color sense, good engineer, better poet, etc.

#538 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 02:46 PM:

Eric--

Ah, engagement. I think the comparison with James Blish is an apt one. Have you read A Case of Conscience? IIRC Blish was a fascist as a young man. Not so hard to do if you grew up loving Ezra Pound. I wonder if he would have become if he had come of age in the 1990s like Day.

Paglia is not usually considered a liberal by liberals. I prefer the biological and ethological sources on homosexuality; it is normal in nature.

"Some of Vox's ideas I disagree with, some I remain agnostic on, and some have helped me in my life." I hope you have not swallowed something that will do you harm in the future or is doing you harm now.

"I live in a culture dedicated to Moloch and Mammon and to the Abyss."

The comparison with Rome at the time of Jesus is apt, I think. But it seems to me that Day has aligned himself with Rome. Is this not despair, said to be the greatest sin? But then, who knows? Perhaps Day will hear a voice on the road to Damascus. Perhaps you will.

#539 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 03:01 PM:

Eric 534: Xopher, when you use the word 'privilege' like that, it is an attack on me. Now I don't whine about this because getting attacked is what happens to anyone who tries to make things better.
So feel free to attack me, I don't care. But I'm also not going to pretend you're being nice when you're not.

I never claimed I was being nice to you. But seriously, not at all. Here's a primer. It's not your fault that you have privilege, or mine that I do. If we don't acknowledge it, or let it blind us to the harm done to people who are less privileged or disprivileged, that becomes our fault.

No, the fact that VD defends his racism with pseudoscientific horseshit doesn't make him less racist; it just makes him a racist defende with pseudoscientific horseshit. Racists throughout history have had their pseudoscience to defend their a priori positions, from phrenology to The Bell Curve, and VD is no different, and certainly no better, than they.

Establishing that two things are different is not at all the same as establishing that one is better. There's no reason to expect Neanderthal DNA to make someone more civilized. None. And I'm not about to read some racist "Time to Civilization" drivel that VD concocted to justify his belief that he's superior to people of color.

Beware the "scientific" "theory" that shows the superiority of the nation, tribe, or race of the scientist who promotes it. It should receive extra scrutiny. Otherwise you wind up with Stalinist (or worse, [Godwin Filter Blocked]) genetics, and other crackpot "scientific" theories.

Not even going to address your silly remark about the KKK. Everyone here knows that the Democratic Party used to be the home of racism in mainstream US politics. So what?

#540 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 03:02 PM:

Randolph, #518: Every year, as Hugo nomination time comes around, I see dozens of posts on my friendslist from writers saying, "Here are the pieces I've done which are eligible for Hugo consideration this year." I don't see this as attempting to stack the nomination process; there's nothing wrong with encouraging your fans to nominate works of yours that they've liked.

The point at which I think Correia/Day crossed the line is that they put up a full slate of nominations, of their own work and that of others, with the apparent motivation of "hey, nominate these because it'll make the pansy liberals' heads explode". Not because they were good stories, but because getting them on the ballot would be a political statement. However, I still have trouble characterizing this as attempting to stack the process, because it's the same process as asking your fans to nominate your stuff. Only the motivation differs.

The cherry on top of this, of course, is then sending their fans over here to whine about how "I thought that the Hugo award was for, y'know... the BEST in that particular category for the year. Not whose politics you like the most." Hypocrisy much?

#541 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 03:09 PM:

Speaking as someone who has read nether V Day nor Correia, I find that V Day's defenders make me want to avoid his work at all costs. I may look at Correia's work, although it's not a subgenre I favor, because people have actually make a reasonable case for it.

#542 ::: MoXmas ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 03:11 PM:

"Define the factual metric used for judgment." That statement is so blindly and baldly political it makes me chuckle.

I also really enjoy when folks like Eric Ashley define themselves as winning an argument when they are not even capable of understanding the basis for the discussion. It's like watching someone comment on fashion while wearing their soiled underwear like a hat. Just bizarre, like an old carny geek show.

#543 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 03:13 PM:

Eric @ 534... Is Vox Day a racist? No, he believes in microevolutionary changes

You still haven't answered my question. All you told me is what *he* thinks he is and I'm sorry, but he does not get to decide and define the word. That is the prerogative of those on the receiving end. That being said, I will answer your own question anyway, and with honesty, even though you won't.

Yes, quality should be the primary concern, but (1) Nobody can make me read any book however excellent they say it is, unless (2) the recommendation comes from someone whose opinion I respect, and (3) people here whose opinion I respect said that VD's story is not worth the time spent on it - or words to that effect.

#544 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 03:13 PM:

A number of people have chosen to engage with Eric and Sascha's defence of the claim that Vox Day is not a racist. That defense seems to rest on the claim that Vox Day's beliefs aren't racist. While I applaud the energy and patience of those who are attempting to show that Vox Day's beliefs don't have the kind if scientific standing he's claiming for them, it strikes me that there's a problem with that line of argument which shouldn't pass unremarked. It's this:

If you harass someone on the grounds of their race, using racialised language to do so, you're a racist, no matter how logically impeccable the belief system that leads you to think it's ok to do that may seem to you and others.

#545 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 03:14 PM:

tnh @ 345: "Trouble is, he's wrong about how literature works, and how writers build meaning into it. The political beliefs he perceives as "messages" wedged willy-nilly into the defenseless story are, as near as I can tell, political beliefs he disagrees with. Political beliefs he finds congenial are perceived as well-integrated elements, organic parts of the stories in which they occur. He's got the wrong end of the stick. The relationship between an author's assumptions about the universe and the story they tell is not a characteristic that's separable from "quality."

It's an expression of how the writer thinks the universe works, and what they expect will happen in it."

This makes a lot of sense to me. Often the most off-putting message in a story isn't the Message, which the author is inviting us to consider, but rather the bits of the author's worldview that constitute the backdrop of the story. It demands suspension of disbelief without acknowledging it. I'm happy to accept that for the purposes of this story that magic works this way. When it comes to human nature, I've got some thoughts of my own.

It's far more problematic when the suspension requested isn't something internal to the story logic like "sensible and level-headed character A does rash and heated action B" but ties into larger, societal demands for suspension of disbelief like "women aren't as capable as men." These aren't just interesting thought experiments but powerful social narratives with real impacts on the lives of real people. Thus, when hypercapable lady-soldier gets captured yet again, necessitating rescue by the male protagonist, that is at a bare minimum bad writing, just as much as any poor characterization. But it's also part of a larger, damaging narrative about women in the real world. For a reader that thinks women really aren't as capable, however the question of bad writing doesn't even exist.

And now I'm thinking about Tooth and Claw.

#546 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 03:16 PM:

Eric Ashley @ 534: This is a genuine question, not a rhetorical one: Why do you experience Xopher's mention of privilege an attack? This is something I see a lot in various places, and in general, I don't really understand why people feel this way.

I am given to understand that my own reaction is a little odd, but when someone tells me that I should "check my privilege" my usual response is to think, "Oops, I missed something. I clearly have not been listening carefully enough. I wonder what assumption I just made which turns out to be false."

Now, I have certainly run into situations where "You're just being privileged" actually meant "I think you're wrongity-wrong-wrong-wrong." Because words. But usually, it means that the person thinks I missed something. Sometimes I did, sometimes I didn't. But in general, I don't experience it as an attack.

#547 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 03:17 PM:

Hear, hear, praisegod. VD's treatment of Jemisin is manifestly racist, whatever his justification.

#548 ::: Sascha ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 03:29 PM:

@535 Lydy Nickerson "...based on a minute amount of their genetic heritage.
@542 MoXmas "That statement is so blindly and baldly political it makes me chuckle."

Let us take for example the factual metric 'who is more likely to get skin cancer'? I trust even MoXmas will concede there is nothing political about that metric?

Yet, go look up the CDC (or anybody else you please) statistics, and you will find that those of similar Neanderthal derivation to myself are something like an order and a half of magnitude more likely to get skin cancer than those of less melanin-challenged ancestry.

If you think acknowledging this clearly factual superiority is racist, well I suppose we're done then, there's a fundamental difference of definition here that can't be bridged; and if you insist on mislabelling this reality as "political", then you've proven your worth conclusively, yes.

If you grant it's not racist, well you've accepted my proxy argument for Vox then and denied your own quoted observations, haven't you? All we have left to debate is what standard of proof we'll accept as factual to begin our logical derivations from, then.

#549 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 03:35 PM:

Yep, the VD proponents aren't really arguing that they're not racists, but that racism is, in fact, a good thing, logical, just, and scientific. That particular claim gets my knickers in a twist. But it makes lots of sense to also get upset that they are attempting to redefine the word racism.

#550 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 03:40 PM:

Well, Sascha, do you have peer-reviewed, controlled studies to support the idea that African-descended people are "half savages"? Because that's what you're asking us to believe. It's absurd, of course, because no study could possibly show that.

This is why I asked for a definition of 'racism'. Lydy is right; you're not claiming not to be racist (or that VD isn't), but that racism is good.

#551 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 03:44 PM:

Xopher@539:Excellent.

#552 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 03:45 PM:

abi @ 427: "Do you have any idea how boring questions designed to trap the answerer in their own hypocrisy are? We could be talking about books right now instead."

The more I think about this, the more I feel it captures the essence of this entire debate.

lighthill @ 481:

And this too.

#553 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 03:46 PM:

Sascha at #548: You have completely ignored the rather important point that individuals aren't statistics. You are also ignoring the fact that a single fact, such as the amount of melanin affects whether or not that organism is more likely to get skin cancer, is so very small a detail that it isn't very useful for much of anything except deciding to whom it might be best to market sun block.

You cannot generalize from a very specific, biological mechanism to broad social behavior. VD, as I understand it, has theories about civilized behavior and savagery based on genetics. This is utterly wonky. Whereas the mechanisms for skin cancer are reasonably well understood (for values of "reasonably well" which are bounded by the vast weirdness of biology in general), our understanding of complex social behavior is no where near as well understood. However, the things that we do understand about it clearly show that it is excessively multi-factoral.

Some things are simple. Some things aren't. Welcome to the real world. Whatever else people are, simple ain't in it. Racism is ultimately an attempt to iron out the complexities of people and their real lives, and reduce them to easily manipulable categories. People being so manipulated tend to resent it.

#554 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 03:49 PM:

Yes, let's talk about books. May I recommend Richard Parks's fantasy stories about Lord Yamada, ghost-hunter in the Heian Era of Japan?

#555 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 03:54 PM:

Man, if we're talking books, can I recommend almost anything Seanan McGuire has written _other_ than _Parasite._ Her Toby Daye books are really marvelous, even the early ones where it's clear she's still in the early portion of learning her craft. Her fix-up about the government agency trying to keep fairy tales from eating real people's lives is also quite fine, although it shows some fracture lines. And the InCyptid series is good fun, though not particularly deep. And although I despise zombies in all their forms, I quite liked her Newsflesh trilogy.

Oh, and abi, really, the Kirstein novels are beyond wonderful.

#556 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 03:57 PM:

Let's hear it for McGuire, Lydy!

#557 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 04:00 PM:

Sascha at #548: Another point I forgot to make. Apologies.

You point out the whole melanin thing as if it were clear that there is an advantage. Except, less melanin means that it's easier to absorb Vitamin D, and so what is clearly superior in one setting is clearly inferior in another setting. This is one more problem with trying to make hierarchical choices about genetics, rather than valuing diversity. Different things are useful in different contexts. And we genuinely don't know what the context of the human race is going to be over the course of our evolutionary life span.

#558 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 04:00 PM:

553
Even 'race' as a social construct - which is all that it is, AFAICT - is more complicated than that.
(I have not-close cousins whose mother was a Mozingo. I'll leave the googling as an exercise for the reader; it's fascinating reading.)

And the dreaded server error strikes.

#559 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 04:00 PM:

I'd also like to recommend Sharon Lee's "Carousel Tides" and "Carousel Sun", fantasy novels set in an Eastern-seaboard town.

#560 ::: Sockpuppet ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 04:03 PM:

It is a shame that all these Reichwing racists are invading my domain! Is there a knight to defend my Mushroom(stamp) Kingdom against the orcs of demon lord Vox Day?

[Nym fixed —Idumea Arbacoochee, tidying up after the toddlers again.]

#561 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 04:04 PM:

Rabbit Hunter is back and up to his old tricks. Go away, Rabbit Hunter.

#562 ::: Twit ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 04:09 PM:

Oh my Bloat-Queen! I'm here to save your kingdom from Dark Lord Vox Day's Hate Legions! There's a wizard with the power to disenvowel as well as a Druid priest with Exorcism powers who can defeat the Reichwing hatebot armies!

[Nym fixed —Idumea Arbacoochee, tidying up after the toddlers.]

#563 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 04:12 PM:

Xopher @ 519: I'd love to hear an actual argument that Vox Day is not a racist. Calling blacks "half-savages" somehow doesn't qualify?

Easy peasy!

Vox Day calling another a half-savage is self-criticism, as he knows full well that he himself is savage through and through.

#564 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 04:14 PM:

I must say, these antics really do make me respect the Daylings' intellectual prowess. Such the master race, with their subtle and sophisticated humor! Gosh, I want to be just like them. (Or, you know, not.)

And Correia fans, this is what your boy wants you to snuggle up to. Lie down with dogs, guys, and get up with fleas.

#565 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 04:18 PM:

Guys? I'm confused. Is Sascha @ 548 claiming that being at greater risk of skin cancer is a sign of racial superiority? As someone with a family history of a particular kind of skin cancer . . . am I misreading? Or is this just one of those "racial superiority scientific arguments in shorthand" that always leaves me feeling that I should have paid more attention in high school biology? (Not trying to be funny, really. Skin cancer is something I always pay attention to when it's mentioned, because--well, see family history.)

Maybe Sascha means it's evidence of racial difference? But that's--I'm still confused.

#566 ::: Sascha ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 04:18 PM:

> VD, as I understand it, has theories about civilized behavior and savagery based on genetics. This is utterly wonky.

I remind you of the actual request I was responding to:

> No, seriously, I want to hear you argue that VD isn't racist.

I provided you Vox's definition of racism, and the consequent argument by which he is not.

That this necessarily implies that every belief of his is sound and excludes utter wonkery does not follow. It only implies that he believes himself to have arrived at those beliefs in a non-racist fashion.

But as long as I'm still here, yes the context in which he uses 'savage' that presses everybody's buttons is that he has a theory that the white northern European tribes took 1000 years to progress from fully savage to fully civilized after encountering Greco-Roman civilization, and therefore all other tribes should be expected to follow the same time progression.

There's too much fuzziness of definition there for me to be particularly interested in arguing the truth of it, but the basic idea that people genetically adapt to a changing environment does not strike me as intrinsically ridiculous. How much difference that actually makes in the real world, whether it really takes fifty-odd generations to adapt your genome enough to be 'fully civilized', what 'fully civilized' is supposed to mean exactly for that matter, you can take that all up with Vox if you care. I really don't. Showing how he doesn't believe himself to be racist by his own definition of racist is all I dropped by to demonstrate, and it appears you all here generally follow the argument even if you don't accept it, so I'm good.

#567 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 04:19 PM:

Talking of books, why did no one mention Max Gladstone's Three Parts Dead to me sooner? Went through it like a hot knife through butter while I was traveling in Poland last week.

#568 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 04:21 PM:

I have to say, when I first heard about this, I kind of had a rebuttable presumption that Correia was of a type with Day, and that his fans would be like Day's.

Does not appear to be the case. Several Correia fans have been in here, telling what they like about his work, without sneering or getting nasty. The Day fans don't appear to be able to do that (barring one or two who overlap).

They look very different to me. Whether their principals are so different remains to be seen, but it seems likely, judging the tree by its fruit.

#569 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 04:32 PM:

Xopher @568:
Several Correia fans have been in here, telling what they like about his work, without sneering or getting nasty. The Day fans don't appear to be able to do that (barring one or two who overlap).

Well, yes, but there have also been several who have been angry, argumentative, and pretty damned rude. And for people who are arguing about a Best Novel award, remarkably few of them were actually willing to do the reading (the thread) before posting their spiels.

I'd give the Correia fans a D+, maybe a C-. They're an improvement on the Daysies, but not by as much as I'd have hoped.

#570 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 04:42 PM:

catching up on a couple of things not yet answered:

various: IM (somewhat dated) E, supporting memberships in North American Worldcons are typically 10% or less of the total.

Steve Downey @ 85: I don't think anyone has tried to determine why people buy supporting memberships. Our hosts will remember a case from 25 years ago where the reasons for \some/ purchases were blatantly obvious, but that was an outlier.
      Note that some number of supportings are leftovers from voting (which involves buying a supporting in the unchosen Worldcon); they don't convert because their preferred candidate didn't win.
      Site selection voting probably affected Seacon '79 (Brighton UK), where there were ~2000 supportings vs ~3200 attending; there was a heated 3-way race. (It was for a western-zone Worldcon, so cost may have caused more supporters than usual not to convert.) This imbalance may have been why Superman won Dramatic Presentation, leaving Reeve to show class before a partisan audience; IIRC, The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy wasn't available in the U.S. at the time. These days a big supporting buy for site selection is less likely; I am happy that Hugo voting has gone up, but shocked at how site voting has gone down. (IIRC, there were 2500 votes in 1992, vs well under 1000 last year in a 3-way race.)

- Soon Lee @ 490: Nth-place votes get counted only if the ballot's top N-1 candidates have been eliminated(*). This means that if you put one work below No Award, your vote ]for[ it will be counted only if everything else has been eliminated (in which case it has already won); if you feel that >1 work should go below No Award and you feel they are equally dreadful, then you might want to leave them unranked as a sort of Pilatian handwashing -- but if you feel there is any difference in quality you should rank them, so your less-detested candidate has an edge. I have done this every year I've voted, because I like to think I Have Standards (such that NA is rarely last on my ballot) but also want my opinions about relative merit to count; YMMV. (The sanest fan I know felt that NA should never be voted for, but he's been dead long enough that I remember nothing of our discussion.)

(*) This applies to the selection of the winner. I haven't tried to work out how below-NA votes matter to the larger reports that turn the mass of ballots into an overall ranking of the nominees.)

#571 ::: Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 04:44 PM:

I can definitely say that the only reader you are hurting by dismissing Day's work is yourself. Knowing nothing of the author's politics, I first picked up his fantasy Summa Elvetica: A Casuistry of the Elvish Controversy back when it came out.

I have been a lifelong fan of fantasy and science fiction, and have been a subscriber to Black Gate, F&SF, Asimov's, Analog and even Omni back in the day. My favorite authors are Borges, Eco, Tolkien, Zelazny, Clark Ashton Smith, Lovecraft, Hesse, Flannery O'Connor, Poe, Austen, Stephenson, Mieville, Philip K. Dick, Piper and Donna Tartt....

...and I count Day's best among their best, as a peer.

Summa Elvetica was such a literary revelation: a driving, single-minded adventure framed and infused with a philosophical debate. Its themes of bias in objective inquiry, of naivete as a humane tool, of benevolent Machiavellianism haven't been explored elsewhere, and certainly not in the form of a fantasy quest story. I have pondered that book and its implications for years since first discovering it. It is one of the best sorts of joys: the overlooked sort.

A Throne of Bones is precisely the sort of epic fantasy that very few authors even attempt, and those that do often lament taking up the challenge. It is sweeping in scope, set on an enormous and unimaginably rich continent, with factions and alliances that switch and switch back with alarming - and entertaining - speed. Yes, it says an awful lot about the transient nature of life, its tragedies and joys, but it is also one of those worlds that make you ache when you leave it. Waiting for the next in the series to come out is the worst part of reading A Throne of Bones.

The Quantum Mortis mysteries are just slam-bang terrific. Believable, fast-paced, and thick with fantastic yet plausible technology, I think the only reason to skip them is if you really aren't in the mood for a joyride.

Again, I came to this author from an unpolitical stance: I simply picked up his book.

I recommend you all do likewise- not so you aren't forced to argue from ignorance any longer - but so that you might enjoy an absolutely delightful evening lost in a new world.

#572 ::: johnofjack ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 04:48 PM:

In re: books, this weekend I'm reading Young Miles and enjoying it immensely. It's a particular pleasure to me to read a book by an author who strikes me as much cleverer than I am, and who comes up with solutions to problems which I never would have thought of.

I read Cordelia's Honor probably nine months ago, so I can't remember if I've done this already, but I wanted to thank the many people here who've recommended Bujold and/or made mention of Vorkosigan enough that I decided to see what all the fuss was about.

#573 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 04:48 PM:

Speaking of books, I'm re-reading Dorothy Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane arc. I finished Strong Poison last night, and I'm well into Have His Carcase today. The characters & dialogue are so, so satisfying.

abi @ 567: I looked up Three Parts Dead and it sounds really unusual. Reviewers are mentioning legal thrillers, gods, religion, fantasy, science fiction, and steampunk. I'm adding it to my list, thanks!

#574 ::: Josh Berkus ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 04:50 PM:

Doctor Science @42:

Huh? What? How is Ancillary Justice a radical feminist novel? Yes, most of the characters with speaking roles are women (although the protagonist is, strictly speaking, an android); but otherwise it's a pretty straightforward empire-and-injustice space opera. Although a very good one, and I'm hoping that this Hugo nomination, win or lose, leads to lots of sequels.

#575 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 04:51 PM:

johnofjack @ 572: I didn't pick up the Vorkosigan books until 2010. Isn't it sweet to discover a great series, and have a whole pile of them already published?!

#576 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 05:01 PM:

Thanks, Daniel. That's very civil and clear.

johnofjack, I really envy you right now. To read Bujold for the first time is a pleasure unequalled. Subsequent readings are a joy, because they echo the original, but nothing matches that first time.

Speaking of books, I just reread the first four books of the Old Man's War series. I enjoyed them greatly, especially Zoë's Tale, which left me thinking a) "How did I not notice the first time that one of the alien races is called the Ghlagh?" and b) "I sure wish they could have made this into a movie while Connor Paolo was still young enough to play Enzo."

#577 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 05:19 PM:

Sascha @532, if, as you (and Vox) say, “there is no such thing as perfect equality, outside mathematics”, how then can you assert that Vox has an equal right to have his worked judged for a Hugo award?

The ideal put forward by liberal society is that of egalitaranism — that people, even though not identical in a mathematical sense, nonetheless have equal rights: equality before the law, access to opportunity, etc. If you don’t believe in such a thing, it’s hypocritical of you to insist upon such a right for Vox.

#578 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 05:21 PM:

One of the evenings I was in Poland I fell to recommendation-swapping with my Polish colleagues (because I'm ten years older than all of them and female, they keep forgetting that I'm a gamer and a fan. I don't fit their mould.)

I asked them what Polish SF/F they could recommend, and they all suggested The Witcher, by Andrzej Sapkowski. Apparently it's a set of short stories, and there's a series of novels that follow it, and a game or two as well.

Has anyone read it? Any good?

#579 ::: Jon ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 05:28 PM:

Xopher @ 576
How did I not notice the first time that one of the alien races is called the Ghlagh?

I just finished re-reading Zoe's Tale for the i've-lost-countth time and had never picked up on that. Nice little inside reference for Whatever readers.

#580 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 05:32 PM:

Josh Berkus @574: Yes, most of the characters with speaking roles are women

Actually, we know the genders of only two characters in the novel: Breq and Seivarden. And even for them, we cannot be certain; we merely know that Breq appeared female, and Seivarden male, to that one person in that bar on Nilt.

#581 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 05:42 PM:

Avram @580:

Strigan's refers to his (her?) patient, the guy attached by the ice devil, in the masculine.

But yes, I did love the fact that Breq genuinely can't tell how to address anyone, and just gives up and uses the feminine throughout. I also enjoyed the other little touches that make Breq such an outsider, such as the conversation with the child which stumbles over the different words for songs.

Smart, smart writing. It made me think of Banks' early Culture novels.

#582 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 05:47 PM:

Abi @ 564... Right now I have three dogs crowding me. :-)

#583 ::: Matt Austern ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 05:58 PM:

We can be fairly sure that Seivarden is a male because Breq referred to her that way, and Breq is in a position to know all about Seivarden's biology. We don't know the physical sex of Breq's body (we know that someone in a gender-conscious society saw female cues, but we also know that such cues vary from place to place). We do know that Breq's notion of personal identity is very different from ours and that she does not see herself as the kind of entity that can be assigned a gender.

#584 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 06:08 PM:

#537 ::: Lydy Nickerson :

Knowing how tall someone is doesn't even generally tell you how good a basketball player they are, though it does affect the odds.

#585 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 06:20 PM:

#580, Avram, and #581, abi: I'm only partway through, but there have been several characters identified by gender. Every one was due to the language forcing the choice and thus the narrator needing to explicitly think about what words to use. (I particularly liked the ones where she was talking to somebody who had to be addressed both as female and as a grandmother, then another as male but not as a grandfather because the birth hadn't been officially announced yet even though the narrator knew. Very proper with the etiquette.) Pretty sure at one point the big boss ruler person was referred to by gender, too.

#586 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 06:28 PM:

abi @578, do modern Polish science fiction fans read Stanislaw Lem?

#587 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 06:29 PM:

Mary Frances #565:

As near as I can tell, it's a rebuttal to a strawman argument.

As Avram mentioned at #577, the liberal ideal is egalitarianism, which implies race isn't important: it doesn't matter the level of melanin in your skin, or if you have an epicanthic fold, or if your ancestors migrated over the Bering land bridge or whatever. You still are treated equally by the law and by society -- ideally, at least.

But while egalitarianism says that race isn't important, it doesn't say that race doesn't exist, or that there aren't racial differences. This is where the strawman comes in: asserting that egalitarians -- non-racists -- believe that there are no differences between the races.

That's where the "blacks get less skin cancer than whites" come in. It proves, by counter example, that strawman-egalitarianism is false.

And if strawman-egalitarianism is false, then so is it's anti-racism message, as well as it's construct of racism as a "thing". Ergo, since racism is a false construct, VD can't possibly be racist.

At least, that's how I reconstruct the argument.

#588 ::: PD ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 06:57 PM:

Since I thought it would at least be semi-relevant to the above discussion, I thought I would post this here:

http://voxday.blogspot.com/2014/04/am-i-racist.html

(Make of it what you will, just kindly don't shoot the messenger.)

#589 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 07:01 PM:

Ancillary Justice (janra @ 585, Abram @ 580, abi @ 581): Because the narrator defaults to female pronouns*, I kept visualizing all the characters as female, unless there was a conversation that clearly tagged someone as male. I discussed the book with a group of people, some male and some female. The women tended to refer to ambiguous characters as "she", and the men often used "he".

*The, ahem, translation to English lead to the gendered pronouns, no doubt.

#590 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 07:03 PM:

Buddha Buck @ 587: Ah. Thank you. That helps. I think I was obsessing too much about the biological construct to parse the strawman argument.

#591 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 07:18 PM:

Buddha Buck @ 587: That's where the "blacks get less skin cancer than whites" come in. It proves, by counter example, that strawman-egalitarianism is false.... And if strawman-egalitarianism is false, then so is it's anti-racism message, as well as it's construct of racism as a "thing". Ergo, since racism is a false construct, VD can't possibly be racist.

By the same logic, saying all people named Adams are half-savages wouldn't make me lastnamist, because even a goddamn liberal has to admit that different last names come in different sections of the phone book.

It's not an argument at all. It's a tautology.

#592 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 07:19 PM:

CHip #570:

My interpretation of Hugo voting system seems different to yours:

You should vote for No Award as your first choice if you believe that none of the nominees are worthy of the Award, or that the Award category should be abolished. If you vote for No Award in any other position it means that you believe the nominees you placed above No Award were worthy of a Hugo, but that those not placed above it were not worthy. However, as we shall see, it is possible to rank nominees below No Award and have an effect on the outcome.

What I get from that is that if you don't want something to win, omit it from your voting form entirely. But if you rank nominees below "No Award", in theory it is possible that your vote for those below "No Award" nominees get redistributed as part of instant run-off and affect the final outcome, so it is better to omit an unwanted nominee than to rank it below "No Award".

Note that No Award is being treated just like other nominees. This means that No Award can be, and indeed normally is, eliminated as a candidate. Any preferences below No Award can then be redistributed just as they would be for any other candidate.

Perhaps Kevin Standlee (or any other Hugo sage) can clarify?

#593 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 07:25 PM:

On further reflection, I think that so long as there is only one nominee ranked below "No Award" there is effectively no difference between omitting it vs. ranking it below "No Award".

But if you place more than one nominee below "No Award" then the outcome may be affected if the run-off process goes far enough to trigger the votes for the nominees below "No Award" to be redistributed.

#594 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 07:26 PM:

592
What CHip is saying is how it works in practice, when the votes are being counted.
If ballots were being hand-counted, it would be possible to ignore everything ranked below 'No Award'.

#595 ::: Josh Berkus ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 08:18 PM:

janra @ 585, Abram @ 580, abi @ 581: Oh, yes; I kept thinking of Seivarden as a woman because Breq calls Seivarden "she" for the first chapter before correcting.

Anyway, I agree that Ancillary Justice is a feminist novel in the context of "the radical idea that women are people", but calling it a radical feminist novel (far above in this thread) seems like taking things a little far. At its core, the book is a space opera about the dubious morality of military intervention. If we're still at the point where merely having a female (-ish) protagonist in a hard SF novel is considered "feminist", that's a sad thing indeed. I'd hoped, given the number of women protagonists in books these days from authors of any gender, that we were a bit beyond that.

Anyway, awesome book, hoping for a sequel. Thanks Scalzi for recommending it!

#596 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 08:25 PM:

I also recently reread some of the Amelia Peabody books, specifically the ones that take place during and after WWI.

I have a friend who bounced off that series with great force. Near as I can tell, it's because she can't stand unreliable narrators, and Peabody is not only unreliable but rather pretentious. I find this absolutely hilarious myself, but it's not for everyone.

#597 ::: MendoScot ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 08:44 PM:

So, why do I read VD...

In '96 I moved from the US to Argentina to have and raise a family. My Latina wife and I had met while we were postdocs at Duke (N.C.) and, after her visa renewal was rejected, we decided to roll the dice and see if we could make it down South. We could and did.

In the Argentine collapse of 2001, we lost our life's savings in the corralito, the appropriation of bank deposits. That was when I realized that ignoring the dismal science was not a viable option. Searching online for an explanation for Argentina's collapse, I encountered the Austrian School of economics, based on human behaviour as opposed to deterministic mathematical models. Within the defenders of this model, was a commentator who went by the handle of Vox Day.

The first book that I bought and received (prior to Kindle, and mail in Argentina can be arbitrary) was his Return of the Great Depression, an explanation of how government intervention aggravates the problems it proposes to solve. If you follow South American news, you know the context to this.

Following his column, I encountered his Eternal Warrior series. The writing was clunky, but the concepts resonated with a father trying to pass on basic concepts of morality in a culture that both accepts them formally, and rejects them functionally.

I had been a fanatical reader of SciFi in my youth, much to the disgust of my father, a multiple prize-winning author who considered the whole field to be a pathetic imitation of reality. The last fantasy I read was the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant; after the first trilogy I abandoned the series as not worth following because it seemed to me that the author had lost the thread of the story, just as G.G.Martin has with Songs of Fire and Ice.

So, in the intervening 30 years, the only SF/F that I followed was Gibson; he was the only one I encountered that seemed to have a grasp on where we might be going. For me, VD brought the capacity to place reality back in fantasy, someone who who could carry history - social, military, philosphical, religious - into the context of a world that is going rapidly to hell.

So, if you think all is well with world, if you think that things are progressing ineluctability for the better, ignore him. Ignore me. Otherwise, you might want to consider that there might really be a storm coming and you are going to lose all that you have, just as I did in 2001.

#598 ::: Kevin Standlee ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 08:55 PM:

PJ Evans @594:

What CHip is saying is how it works in practice, when the votes are being counted. If ballots were being hand-counted, it would be possible to ignore everything ranked below 'No Award'.

Which would be wrong because that's not the way the rules are written. Even when we counted the votes by hand, preferences below No Award count like any other candidate's do, with the exception of the "Showdown" (see below).

Soon Lee @592:

Any preferences below No Award can then be redistributed just as they would be for any other candidate.

Yes, that's true, and that does mean that your below-No-Award preferences can affect the winner. However, there is an extra provision called the "No Award Showdown." It's a bit obscure on account of it has to be defined generally to handle both the Hugo Awards and Site Selection, but it's in Section 6.5 of the WSFS Constitution. What it means is that after you've done the initial talley that treats No Award like any other candidate, and assuming No Award didn't win, you make an additional test: count only those ballots that included either the Preliminary Winner (PW) and No Award (or both). If more people ranked NA above the PW (leaving the PW off the ballot is the same here as ranking it above NA) than not, then No Award wins. This showdown is buried down in the Hugo voting statistics.

No Preliminary Winner has ever lost a No Award Showdown. I'm not even sure it's possible to construct a plausible distribution of votes where it could happen; however, it does mean that you can rank candidates below No Award knowing that you've said, "I don't want these candidates to win, but if one of them must, I prefer Z over Y," while also knowing that in the last resort, you did in fact vote against both Y and Z.

#599 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 08:57 PM:

I recommend web-based fantasy magazine "Beneath Ceaseless Skies" for one more reminder that rumors of the death of the short story have been greatly exaggerated.

#600 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 09:03 PM:

PD @588, what Vox is trying to pull is a favorite tactic of creationists and other fringe types: challenge respectable people to a debate. No matter the outcome, acceptance of the challenge grants the fringe-believer a degree of intellectual respectability.

Not that Vox and his compatriots would ever concede defeat, since they’re all firmly invested in the belief that the can’t really be racists as long as they believe they can produce some kind of justification for their racism.

#601 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 09:17 PM:

Syllogistic fallacies, straw men and Austrians. Oh my!

#602 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 09:23 PM:

Abi re: Max Gladstone's Three Parts Dead - It was in last year's Hugo Reader packet. I don't seem to be able to find my votes for the Campbell category, but I think I put it either first or second, it being a year of excellent choices.

Is there anything from this year's nominees you've read and would recommend, besides Ancillary Justice which lots of people have been recommending? So far I've read Lady Astronaut of Mars, which was excellent, and Equoid (Charlie Stross being Lovecraftily mean to people who like happy sparkly unicorns), and based on the title, I'm looking forward to “Selkie Stories Are for Losers”.

#603 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 09:25 PM:

Xopher: I don't know if I would call Amelia unreliable exactly, in that she tends to report her perceptions with reasonable accuracy. It's just that her perceptions are...filtered by her lack of emotional awareness.

Though it works out to much the same thing, I guess.

I've never been sure what I felt about the bits that were from "Manuscript H". I think I'd have liked them quite a lot if they hadn't kept being alternated, and thus contrasted, with Amelia's narrative.

#604 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 09:32 PM:

Mary Frances @565, I interpreted Sascha's comment at 548 to mean "Oh, you're pretending that you're being objective and not racist by being bad at math? Here, let me use your definition to show that you're objectively part of the inferior race. Done trolling yet?"

#605 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 09:42 PM:

Carrie 603: There's something in one of the books like

"Such and such," I said in calm, measured tones.
"Well, there's no need to scream at me," he replied, quite unreasonably.
That's what I mean by unreliable: what she reports is not always exactly what happened. I don't mean she's deliberately lying.

I love the "Manuscript H" bits! And I particularly like them when they overlap Amelia's narrative in time. They show how much she misses, and how much everyone loves her anyway.

#606 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 09:50 PM:

Carrie S @603, an unreliable narrator isn’t necessarily one who lies. The term just means that the reader needs to be aware that there’s more going on than the narrator is saying.

I’ve read enough Gene Wolfe books that I automatically assume any first-person narration is unreliable, and start looking for evidence of it. I’m disappointed if I don’t find any.

#607 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 09:55 PM:

Avram 606: In fact, Connie Willis once said (at a panel at a WorldCon) that if your narrator isn't unreliable there's no reason to have a first-person narration at all. I disagreed (not out loud) at the time, because at the time I believed an unreliable narrator had to lie.

But Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird is an unreliable narrator, because she's too young to understand everything that's going on. And any FPN will at least have a limited perspective on the action. So now I see Willis' point.

#608 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 09:59 PM:

598
Kevin, the instructions used to say that you shouldn't rank anything below 'No Award', and people did it anyway.
I've been away from conventions for most of the last 20 years, so I don't know what the rules say now.

I do know, though, that it's hard to get the computer to ignore nominees ranked below Noah Ward when you turn it lose to do the counting.

#609 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 10:13 PM:

Lee, #540: yes. I am not happy with the process, which reminds me unpleasantly of how toxic initiatives make it to the ballot in the Pacific Northwest. I hope there are no more manipulations of the voting process.

#610 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 10:23 PM:

Lydy, #537: thank you. Not only that, what is useful varies by the context of each life. Artistic skill does not usually mean much if one spends one's life fighting for survival, nor martial prowess in a peaceful time.

Which brings us around to the current situation. I think times are coming when conservative virtues will be much needed. The world faces numerous crises, both environmental and social, and we will need leaders and rulers. But we will have poor ones if potential leaders and rulers are taught to deny physical and social reality and defend bigotry.

#611 ::: Brad DeLong ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 10:58 PM:

Mendoscot: "In the Argentine collapse of 2001, we lost our life's savings in the corralito, the appropriation of bank deposits. That was when I realized that ignoring the dismal science was not a viable option. Searching online for an explanation for Argentina's collapse, I encountered the Austrian School of economics, based on human behaviour as opposed to deterministic mathematical models. Within the defenders of this model, was a commentator who went by the handle of Vox Day..."

I had thought that people who had their assets frozen by the corralito lost not all but 1/3 of the value of their bank deposits due to the 2002-2003 Argentine inflation. Am I wrong?

#612 ::: MendoScot ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 10:59 PM:

If...then. The last paragraph was merely advice from the ass-end of the world, Mr. Halter, not an argument following the description of why I read VD.

There is no small amount of Schadenfreude in watching the first world become Argentina, when so few understand why Argentina is an international pariah in the first place.

#613 ::: MendoScot ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 11:10 PM:

I had thought that people who had their assets frozen by the corralito lost not all but 1/3 of the value of their bank deposits due to the 2002-2003 Argentine inflation.

Two thirds. Our deposits were converted at 1.4 when the street exchange was over 4. The rest was converted to ten and twelve year bonds (BODEN) that we had to sell below face value to get the cash.

Once we had the cash we made out like gangbusters. Argentina is not for the weak of heart, but if you are prepared to ride the tiger...

#614 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 11:24 PM:

Professor Xavier must be assumed to be an unreliable narrator of the lying kind if one wants to reconcile how he said he met Magneto 2000's "X-men" with wht was shown in "First Class".

#615 ::: MendoScot ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 11:35 PM:

Ach, 5 and 10 year bonds. The memory is not what it was, nor is the currency.

#616 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 11:35 PM:

Carrie S. @ 603 and Xopher Halftongue @ 605: I adore the Amelia Peabody books! I consider her a deliciously unreliable narrator, and Xopher's example is spot-on. I also have friends who have bounced off of the series. One of them loves Elizabeth Peters' Jacqueline Kirby books, which are, indeed, wonderful. But Amelia will always be closest to my heart.

I just picked up Saturn's Children, so that's my next read. While I heard the opinion that it's not required before reading Neptune's Brood, I wanted to.

#617 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 11:58 PM:

abi @578---
I've found 2 or 3 of The Witcher books here in the US in paperback. I found the premise and the world-building interesting, although the books are clearly on the Grimdark (although not so much on the Shitsack) spectrum. His elves are not like other elves, and this is a good thing.

I wouldn't call it comfort reading, unless you're a member of the Cattle-die-kindred-die-all-men-are-mortal* School. But entertaining they are.


*It is possible Witchers are an exception to this rule. One should not assume they're better off because of it.

#618 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 12:24 AM:

Xopher @576

I'm reading the Liaden novels for the first time. I got that same expression of envy at my first time reading.

I am also suffering from book-induced insomnia.

#619 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 12:39 AM:

Bill Stewart: I can wholeheartedly recommend Selkie Stories are For Losers (And I write selkie stories sometimes...). I'm glad she's also up for the Campbell.

Abi @ 567: Three Parts Dead is quite literally next on my to-read list, not least because of several recommendations. Adding your voice only helps his case. So thank you.

#620 ::: Kevin Standlee ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 12:47 AM:

PJ Evans @608:

Kevin, the instructions used to say that you shouldn't rank anything below 'No Award', and people did it anyway. I've been away from conventions for most of the last 20 years, so I don't know what the rules say now.

They have indeed changed over the past twenty years. The current WSFS Constitution is on the WSFS web site. A somewhat more plain-text description of the system including the No Award test is on the Hugo Awards web site. (In case of any disagreement between the two, of course the actual Constitution prevails.

I do know, though, that it's hard to get the computer to ignore nominees ranked below Noah Ward when you turn it lose to do the counting.
Not if the program is written correctly. At least that's how I look at it as a computer programmer myself, although not the one who wrote the system we're using. If anything, it would be easier than the complicated "showdown" rule we have now.

The current "showdown" rule is the result of a proposal first introduced in 1996 and further considered in 1997 to make No Award "sticky" — that is, it couldn't be eliminated, and no votes below it would ever count. It appears to have been the goal of the proponents to make it more likely for No Award to win more often. Their proposal (search for "Tally-Ho" in the referenced documents) was amended into the current system, which I think unlikely to ever cause No Award to win; I think they were outmaneuvered.

#621 ::: Eric Ashley ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 01:26 AM:

I have returned weary after passing time with Pandemic and B&N among other things.

Lydy @533, you need to re-read my first post. You do not understand what I am saying.

Randolph @538, I wonder if you actually are a Christian. If so, welcome brother.

You need to read 'Liberal Fascism' by Jonah Goldberg. Fascists are creatures of the Left. There are fascists in America today....Obama with his bailout of GM was one, so was the Wall Street bailout.

Fascism > Racism despite what you've been taught.

As to despair being a sin, was Jeremiah sinning when he wept? You see an action, and you think you understand what motivates it, but you're looking at one of the more brilliant and original minds of the age.

Xopher @539 Why should I read your primer when you won't check out TtoCiv which I am agnotic about, but if you understood it, at least you'd know what you're talking about.

Unfortunately in the middle you're just revealing you don't understand what's going on.

But nice catch on the KKK thing. Yes, I was taking a cheap shot.

Moxmas@542. We each must decide for ourselves who won that little dispute.

And defining a standard to make a judgment is bad, somehow? You refer to a standard, such as a ruler to measure the length of an object. If you find this political, then I cannot help you.

Serge,

"Is Vox Day a racist?" "No, he..." "You did not answer me."???????

Let me be even plainer. N followed by the letter O, which spells "No".

And you need to read Protein Wisdom on intentionalism. The receiver does NOT get to decide if its racism.

Lydy @546, if you're being serious, you are odd, and in a good way. I assume that most of the respondents despise me, and wish me ill. This is why I laugh at them. I could hate them, but hate is so much less fun than laughter, and frankly takes too much energy.

I am White, Conservative, etc., etc., so therefore to most of them I am The Devil or perhaps a minor imp.

Keep looking for the truth, Lydy, and when He finds you, accept it.

==========
As Darth Vader said 'All too easy'...

#622 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Wielder of Flamethrowers ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 01:52 AM:

Eric Ashley @621:
I assume that most of the respondents despise me, and wish me ill.

For my part, one out of two. Or rather, about half out of two, since it's not so much "despise" as "dislike strongly based on your stated views."

This is why I laugh at them. I could hate them, but hate is so much less fun than laughter, and frankly takes too much energy.

I'd suggest—indeed, I request and require, given the degree to which you're likely to persuade anyone here of anything at this point in time, and the very low quality of the conversation that will ensue while you might try, that you laugh all the way back to somewhere more congenial to your particular worldview.

You've nicely demonstrated that intellectual dishonesty can come with a civil skin, but you're still being intellectually dishonest. You've also demonstrated that your civility is only skin-deep. There's really no point engaging any further in this mode.

In other words, thank you for playing, here's your door prize, and farewell.

#623 ::: RD Miksa ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 03:20 AM:

Good Day to All,

Earlier in this discussion, one of the Site Administrators (Abi Sutherland) contended that she could not imagine a fan of Vox Day entering this forum and genuinely “enthusing” about his work. Indeed, she essentially claimed that she simply could not picture a Vox Day fan explaining why they like his writing while also making that explanation “work.”

Now, while it is out of my control as to whether or not the reader decides that my explanation “works”—for what “works” as an explanation, especially when dealing with literary matters, is essentially a subjective matter—it is obviously within my power to explain why I like Day’s writing. And so, I am more than willing to provide my reasons for why I enjoy Day’s literary products. At the same time, I would also like to articulate a few points which I believe are not only highly relevant to this whole discussion surrounding Day’s work and his Hugo nomination, but which should also make certain individuals pause and perhaps reflect upon whether their negative assessment of Day’s character is wholly accurate. In essence, what I will point out is that the very content and ideas embedded in Day’s fiction actually serve as some evidence against the negative epithets (bigot, racist, etc.) that so many people are trying to label him with. Indeed, I contend that many people are so blinded by what they think Day is saying, that they do not realize that his very own fictional works provide us with some evidence that Day’s ideas are very often more nuanced and subtle than what his opponents would wish people to believe.

Finally, let me just note that since the current debate over Vox Day and his writings has stemmed from his novelette “Opera Vita Aeterna” being nominated for a Hugo Award, I will thus use this novelette as the basis for all my points. I do so for two reasons. First, since this particular novelette is currently being considered for a Hugo Award, it is, at the present time, arguably Day’s most important and prominent work of fiction, thus making it fully appropriate to focus my comments on that particular story. And second, since Day is offering that particular work of fiction for free off his website, anyone and everyone can thus access it, read it for themselves, and determine if the points that I articulate actually match the story.

So, with this introduction articulated, on to the meat of the matter.


Why I Greatly Enjoyed “Opera Vita Aeterna”

Now, while it is the case that previous commentators have summarized Day’s novelette, let me also do so briefly in order to ensure that we are all on the same page. In essence, “Opera Vita Aeterna” is—in my own words—the story of the land’s most powerful elven mage encountering a religious man of such power and might, that the elven mage, after killing the man, leaves everything he has ever known behind and engages on a quest to find the source of the man’s power, which is God Himself. This quest leads the elven mage to a small religious abbey where he meets with the monks and the local Abbot. Over time, and as they spar over theological and philosophical issues, a tentative friendship grows between the elven mage and the Abbot. However, in the background, a demonic entity, who despises humans in general, and the monks in particular, is constantly striving to have the elven mage return to his homeland. Then, at a certain point, and in an effort to make the elven mage return home, the demonic entity has a group of goblins wipe out the whole abbey while the elven mage is gone. Upon his return, the elven mage finds all the monks killed. In particular, he finds the Abbot murdered right beneath a cross. Seeming this, and screaming at the apparent impotence and apathy of the God of Men, the elven mage demands that God grant the Abbot a place in the afterlife. The story then fast-forwards to a point where it becomes clear that the friendship between the elven mage and the Abbot, and the theological work that this friendship produced, have become critical to the development of the Church as a whole.

Now, with this summary complete, let me articulate just some of the reasons why I greatly enjoyed this particular novelette.

First, in many ways, the novelette seamlessly blends non-fiction with fiction. What do I mean? I mean that as part of the novelette, we are treated to brief theological and philosophical debates which stimulate the mind and the intellect in a way that most other works do not. Indeed, just as many philosophers in the past would use a dialogue format to bring out their philosophical points, Day does the same thing, but he does so in a manner that does not detract from the story itself. And while I have no doubt that not everyone wants to have a philosophical debate serve as part of a fictional story, I can say that for those of us that do enjoy that type of a narrative, Day does it very well.

Second, Day has, in my view, an uncanny ability to combine his fantasy setting with historical accuracy. Now again, what do I mean? I mean that even though Day’s story deals with elves, and goblins, and so on, his depictions of monks and life in the abbey are grounded in the historical reality of how things actually where hundreds of years ago. This, in turn, almost makes it feel like you are receiving a historical education while enjoying a fantastical setting. And once again, while some individuals may not like this strategy of melding historical fiction with fantasy, for those of us that do, Day does did extremely well.

Third, Day’s novelette makes you think about life’s deepest questions. In fact, even more so than just this, for people of religious faith, Day’s novelette literally makes you question your religious convictions. Why? Because this novelette does not have a happy ending. It does not give you any easy answers. In fact, if anything, at the end of the novelette, you can sympathize with the atheistic elven mage when he looks up at the cross and curses the apparently weak, impotent, and distant God depicted there. So it is the case that this novelette, short as it may be, makes you think long and hard about the big questions: God, the afterlife, the existence of evil, morality, mortality, the problem of evil, the apparent problem of divine hiddenness, and so on. And since I like to think about these questions, and since I enjoy fiction that makes these questions central, I enjoyed seeing them in Day’s novelette. In addition, I might point out that it is surprising that Day, being a Christian, ends this novelette in the way that he does. You might have expected him to have provided some type of divine intervention to close the story, thus making it more palpable to those of faith. But instead, once you are done reading, you cannot help that think that the atheist elven mage is quite justified in cursing any God who would allow such evil to happen to his own followers. So Day is not afraid to be bold and to go against the grain of his own beliefs, at least partially, when the story requires it.

Finally, Day is quite capable in establishing an imaginative setting and in describing it clearly, thus making it easy and enjoyable to picture where and when the story unfolds. I also found the characters to be well-described and that the dialogue matched the traits of the characters very well. So, from a stylistic perspective, I found the story to be more than competent.

These, therefore, are but some of the reasons that I enjoyed Day’s novelette. And let me add that, in my view, his novelette is not even his best work. For that, you would need to read A Throne of Bones, which was a work that I devoured in less than two days.


Why “Opera Vita Aeterna” Should Make You Think Twice about Vox Day.

I mentioned earlier that I believe that Day’s fictional work provides his opponents with some evidence that should make them pause and re-think their negative assessment of Day. And while Vox Day needs absolutely no help in defending himself, I nevertheless wish to point out in what way I believe that Day’s novelette does indeed provide evidence against the harsh assessment of his character that is being made by so many individuals. And given that Day has been labeled—by some individuals who disagree with him on certain issues—with just about every single negative and undesirable character trait imaginable in our current cultural climate, it may seem that my claim that Day’s writing should make his opponents re-assess their negative opinion of him somewhat difficult to accept. Nevertheless, I will still offer my reasoning in this matter.

Initially, let us start with the reasonable assumption that an author’s personal beliefs, ideas, and philosophy will permeate his writing to some greater or lesser extent. In fact, many people refuse to read Day’s work precisely because they not only object to his views in general, but also because they believe that his fiction will be permeated with those views. And yet, when I read “Opera Vita Aeterna”, some very interesting aspects of the story became particularly prominent given the negative claims being made about Day. And these aspects of the story were all the more interesting in light of fact that they do, at least in part, reflect Day’s views. So let me list just a few of these interesting story elements.

First, Day is often labeled as something of a cultural supremacist who is bigoted against non-Western, non-Christian cultures. And yet, in his novelette, what we see is that the Abbot is more than willing to learn and grow from his interactions with the elven mage. In fact, the story literally shows that the Abbot himself, through his long-time interaction with the elven mage, comes to the essentially heretical view that elves have souls, even though this view is not accepted by the Church. At the same time, in the story, the theological interactions between the Abbot and the pagan elven mage, which are written down by the Abbot, eventually become a document that is of great theological significance to the Church, just as the interactions of Saint Thomas Aquinas with the pagan works of Aristotle were of great importance to the actual Church. And what I think that this shows is that Day’s ideas of how cultures interact, and the benefits of such cultural interactions, are subtle, nuanced, and are not so easily categorized as just being an expression of “western cultural supremacism.” His novelette shows the two main characters have a deep respect and tolerance for each other’s cultural tradition, even though there is a clear understanding that certain cultural elements are better than others. Thus, even though the Abbot can understand why the elven mage committed a mercy killing, the Abbot nevertheless still knows that his culture, in seeing such behaviour as a sin, is objectively better than the elven mage’s is. Thus, while Day’s characters have tolerance for each other, they do not let this tolerance dissolve into something as incoherent and indefensible as cultural relativism. So, tolerance and respect for differing cultures and customs is affirmed, but a relativistic out-look about truth, morality, and good is rejected.

Second, Day is often caricatured as someone unwilling to consider new ideas and as someone living in an echo-chamber. And while I have never seen Day back down from a debate, I would also point out that his story is precisely meant to show how two completely opposite individuals, with totally opposing views, can, through rational and controlled discussion, be able to think through issues and come to a closer understanding of the truth even though they start their debate at complete opposite sides of an issue. For indeed, at the start of the story, the Abbot literally believes that the elven mage, being soulless, is nothing more than an animal. And yet, through calm, rational discourse, and through their interactions, the Abbot changes his views about the soullessness of elves. At the same time, the elven mage gains a new-found respect for humanity and the intelligence and reasoning skills of human beings. And perhaps this aspect of the story is a cultural and social critique concerning how rational debate, even if harsh, offensive, and unpleasant, is needed in modern society instead of simply mud-slinging and labelling people as “bigots” and “racists” without truly understanding their arguments. After all, it would not be hard to imagine that had another author written Day’s story, then the moment that the elven mage realized that the Abbot considered elves little more than animals, the Abbot would have been labeled a racist bigot who was unworthy of further discussion, consideration, or debate. By contrast, in Day’s version, the elven mage, though offended at being considered little more than an animal, does not shy away from discussing and rationally debating the issue with the Abbot. This is thus a lesson: a view may be offensive and distasteful, but it may also be true, and we will never learn about whether or not that view is true unless we not only engage with the proponents of that view, but also engage with them in a manner that is as impartial as possible, that does not straw-man their arguments, and that seeks to properly understand their point-of-view before condemning it.

Third, even though Day is known as a vociferous opponent of theistic unbelief, his story is nevertheless quite sympathetic to the frustration and anger that many individuals feel towards God. He articulates well the emotions and circumstances that would make a person scream at God and curse Him. So again, this fact shows that Day’s views on the subject of God are subtle, and that while he is an opponent of unbelief, he understands it well enough that he can sympathize with the reasoning and emotion behind such unbelief.

Now, what these few points are meant to show is that Day’s work is more subtle and nuanced than is normally given credit for. There are themes in his work which show precisely the opposite of bigotry and racism, but rather illustrate how friendship and cultural understanding can develop even in hard circumstances. And as his work is, no doubt, at least a partial reflection of his ideas and thoughts, then this fact should make the individuals that decry him as a bigoted racist truly wonder whether their assessment of him is as accurate as they think. Have they truly considered his arguments or are they just “straw-manning” what he says? Have they looked into the subtleties of his views or have they just scratched the surface of his views and then prematurely labeled him as a “bigot”, etc.? Have they taken his points in the fullness of their context or rather, have they taken quotes out-of-context to make Day’s views appear much worse than they are? Do they understand that Day often employs rhetorical and “for-the-sake-of-argument” argumentative techniques to make his point, or do they rather disregard that fact and simply try to use whatever they can to make Day appear as bad as possible? These are, I contend, valid questions, and those individuals that deride Vox Day should honestly ask and answer these questions for themselves.


The Hugo Kerfuffle and the Prescience of “Opera Vita Aeterna”

Finally, I wish to end on a somewhat humorous note. And this particular bit of humor arises from the fact that Day’s novelette “Opera Vita Aeterna” did, in a way, “predict” what would happen to Day and his novelette if it was nominated for a Hugo Award. Now, what do I mean by this? I mean that in the novelette, the demon entity that wants the elven mage to return to his homeland is embarrassed and dismayed that the elven mage would ever want to consort amongst the filthy, disgusting, and bigoted humans. Indeed, this evil entity does his utmost to ensure that the elven mage returns to his rightful place, even if doing so means harming the humans in the process. And, in a way, we are actually seeing the same sort of thing in the kerfuffle that has arisen since Day’s nomination for the Hugo Award. Many people are embarrassed and dismayed that something like the Hugo Awards would sully itself by consorting with the literary works of an alleged “bigot” and “racist” like Day. Furthermore, many individuals are striving to do their utmost to ensure that Day’s work does not win the award or at least that it is never considered for an award again. Indeed, instead of sitting, reading, and debating Day’s work, and instead of overcoming their sense of “offendedness” in order to consider Day’s ideas rationally and fully, they simply wish to marginalize Day and vote him down, much like the evil entity in Day’s novelette does not even wish to consider the ideas that the humans have to offer, but rather it simply wishes to marginalize the humans and destroy their standing. So I have to admit, I thought that this parallel between Day’s story and what is happening to Day in real-life was humorous enough, in a sad sort of way, that it merited being pointed out.

Take care,

RD Miksa
www.idontgiveadamnapologetics.blogspot.com

#624 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 03:25 AM:

janetl @616: IMO Neptune's Brood stands on its own, but has some elements which are spoilers for some elements of Saturn's Children -- so that if you think you'll want to read both, I'd strongly recommend reading SC first.

(For those who have read both and wonder what I mean: Va Fnghea'f Puvyqera gurer'f pbaprea gung erpbafgvghgrq uhznaf jvyy ebo gur ebobgf bs gurve serr jvyy. Va Arcghar'f Oebbq, guvf unf unccrarq, naq zber guna bapr, naq gur onq pbafrdhraprf unira'g unccrarq, be unir orra qrnyg jvgu.)

#625 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Wielder of Flamethrowers ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 03:35 AM:

RD Miksa @623:

Nice wall of text, and no doubt it's sincerely meant, but you can't use an interpretative reading of his fiction to excuse, or take back, Day's polemical blog posts, essays, and racist screeds. I won't do him the discourtesy of believing his plain words, nor his targets the discourtesy of ignoring them.

But thank you for playing. Door prize, etc.

#626 ::: Bruce ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 03:48 AM:

Eric Ashley@621: The Wall Street bailout happened on George Bush's watch, so I guess that makes him a fascist by your terms.

#627 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 03:50 AM:

Eric is no longer able to respond, Bruce. Let's leave him to his laughter and his rather particular worldview.

#628 ::: Bruce ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 04:03 AM:

Abi:627 My apologies. If he's been banned from posting, I don't know how to detect that.

#629 ::: Bruce ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 04:11 AM:

For the earlier discussion about unreliable narrators, I was disappointed that Julian Comstock by Robert Charles Wilson did not win the 2010 Hugo because I loved the unreliable narrator who was amusingly naive and enthusiastic.

#630 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 04:34 AM:

I still remember, decades ago, when I discovered the two-dimensional alignment system in D&D, and how it came from ways of classifying politics, with the labels of Law and Good apparently inspired by Moorcock. They're all over the place now, with different labels, and researchers are clearly working on systems with far more axes. Two isn't enough, and the simple-to-visualise two-axis system has so many different sets of labels.

Some of the trollkin who have been popping up here seem to be exploiting the even-worse confusion that can come from the one-dimensional Left-Right political spectrum, and a very dodgy knowledge of the history.

You need to read 'Liberal Fascism' by Jonah Goldberg. Fascists are creatures of the Left.

You don't need to go much further to be pointing out that the NSDAP was a Socialist Workers Party, which is correct for the name, but the name is not the thing. Even the label "Fascist", which came out of Italy in the 1920s, was applied to some rather different political movements.

Looking at the history of the various Fascist parties in Europe, there's certainly a lot of socialism there (which, some might be surprised to learn, is not the same as communism). It's a socialism changed by the "Daddy knows best" approach of the leaders. For an example, look up the career of Sir Oswald Mosley, who maintained a socialist streak all through his political career (when he wasn't shagging his wife's stepmother).

Perhaps, as Andrew Marr suggests, it is lucky that we British have a tendency to snigger at politicians.

But that simplistic left-right political spectrum just doesn't stand up to reality. It is maybe of limited use in a political system with a strong us-and-them divide, one which doesn't depend on coalitions. But, in the US context, the two parties which come out of an election can be described as coalitions, formed in the Primaries and Caucuses and smoke-filled rooms of the almost endless campaigns.

I'm rambling...

But I think one of the things I see from the trollkin is a heavy dose of American Exceptionalism. Here I am, just able to recall the last feeble moments of what was, for a while, the biggest Empire our world has ever seen, pulled in different directions by experiences which the USA has never had. There are other answers, which work. I have lived with them. Some of that exceptionalism comes from the way that the USA used its industrial muscle to settle the two World Wars of the last century. You didn't get bombed or fought over, and maybe that's why some options, commonplace in Europe, seem unexplored in the USA.

And maybe there are some things we have in common. What characterised the Golden Jubilee of 2002, and distinguished it from the Diamond Jubilee of 2012, was the celebration of diversity. When we Brits look at today's politics, it's too easy to ask what went wrong, and why other-hatred has become so much more common.

The economic crash has a lot to do with it, and we all look for somebody to blame. Politicians who calmly enacted laws to implement EU Directives now complain about "EU laws". There are respectable parties preaching hatred of foreigners. The privatisation of government functions led to embarrassing failures in 2012 which didn't seem to happen in 2002. (Which is why the Olympics had hundreds of soldiers manning the ticket barriers, instead of the civilians promised by private enterprise.)

And perhaps some of the apparent misconceptions prevalent in the USA can be traced back to the earliest days of settlement, around 450 years ago. Here in Europe we couldn't easily resolve a problem by moving into a new land on the frontier. You are, I see, still having range wars. There are centuries of history in Europe which have pushed into a habit of working together. European politics has evolved to include the basic ideas of socialism as a default.

And it doesn't look so bad. It's 69 years since an invading Army crossed the Rhine, and we've stopped raising large armies.

Is that really such a bad thing?

#631 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 04:39 AM:

@#623 RD Miksa: To start with, let me admit that I have not read the Vox Day story. When I get my Hugo packet, I intend to give it a whirl. I don't expect to get very far because for personal reasons I have a Christian religion induced form of PTSD, so work with that as a central theme are very hard for me, personally, to tolerate. I am being very up front about my personal baggage, here.

Reading your synopsis and defense, the question that comes to my mind is whether or not you are aware of anyone who is not from a majority culture and a majority religion who finds it persuasive and evocative. Please understand, I see why you feel that it argues in favor of tolerance and inquisitiveness. However, I think that, in fact, it does that pretty much only to people who come from that particular realm of the world. To me, the description seems to be of something which, in the end, confirms many of the presumptions that someone from both majority culture and majority religion have. It does so in a less than presecriptive, hammering, narrow sort of way, but the description (please note, not the text, as I haven't read it) suggests that it exists as a very affirming sort of experience for people in that position. Really, pretty much no one who has been a Christian hasn't been in the position of wanting to scream at God. The fact that the character of the elven mage wants to do so isn't actually transgressive; it's a description of a bog-standard experience of almost any person of faith.

I grew up in a Fundamentalist household. I know my Protestant Christianity pretty thoroughly. And while I certainly knew Christians who would experience the work you describe as heretical, I know a lot more who would experience it as profoundly affirming. So what I'm curious about is whether or not this fiction actually raises any big questions for people not from that particular mind-set. My best guess, based on your description and that of others who have stopped by here, is not.

#632 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 05:05 AM:

@ #566 Sascha


I remind you of the actual request I was responding to:

> No, seriously, I want to hear you argue that VD isn't racist.

I provided you Vox's definition of racism, and the consequent argument by which he is not.

Well, actually, you've done the intellectual equivalent of arguing that if one says that a tail is a leg, a dog has five legs.

In rather longer form, you have discussed the fact that the human genome has variability, and then attempted to state that the existence of such variability proves that VD is not racist. You have not, in fact, engaged on the topic of whether or not VD believes that such variability forms a reasonable basis for making judgments about individuals, although you've somewhat implied it. And that is at the core of what racism is. Nobody is arguing that everybody has the same color skin, or the same susceptibility to Huntington's Chorea. What the argument of racism is about is whether or not said genetic diversity can form a useful tool for making pre-judgments about individuals in situations not immediately relevant to that exact and specific, well-understood genetic trait. (And, no, I don't think we should change the insurance rates for people likely to have Huntington's, but let's stick to the subject at hand, health care is another whole kettle of worms.) It is clear from VD's writing that he actually does think that the percentage of Neanderthal in a person is in some way relevant to judging that person's ability to act in complex social ways, that is to say, whether or not they are "savage." And that is both wonky and racist. Your defense has completely ignored this, and all my other points about how little we understand how genetics interacts with individual behavior.


That this necessarily implies that every belief of his is sound and excludes utter wonkery does not follow. It only implies that he believes himself to have arrived at those beliefs in a non-racist fashion.

Oh, I'm sure that VD has many, many other wonky ideas. Possibly even some non-wonky ones. Dunno. I find his non-fiction prose style pretty unreadable. However, I'm happy to restrict myself to this one area: Is VD a racist? And the answer is pretty clearly yes. VD believes that individuals can be judged based on very minor genetic variation, and considers race to be a genetic rather than social construct, despite all scientific evidence to the contrary.

but the basic idea that people genetically adapt to a changing environment does not strike me as intrinsically ridiculous.

Well, no, not intrinsically. But everything we understand about evolution so far suggests that 1000 years is just not enough to notice anything at all. Evolution just doesn't work like that. Really. Arguing that it does is fun if what you're trying to prove is your conclusion, but that's exactly the problem here. He has a conclusion that he's trying to prop up with pseudo-science. Evolution doesn't work that way. Genetics don't work that way. People don't work that way. And as far as I can tell, the only reason to believe that they do is so that one can tell oneself pleasant fairy tales about why one can be a racial supremacist and not feel bad about oneself, which is vastly intellectually and morally bankrupt.

Showing how he doesn't believe himself to be racist by his own definition of racist is all I dropped by to demonstrate, and it appears you all here generally follow the argument even if you don't accept it, so I'm good.

Yep, back to the tail is a leg argument. Abe Lincoln didn't accept that level of speciousness, and I won't, either.

#633 ::: abi, who is also Idumea ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 06:19 AM:

OK, some clarifications might be in order.

First of all, I gather my statement at 349 has been posted as some kind of a challenge somewhere out in the Daysinet. Whilst I appreciate the courtesy that most of the respondents have shown coming here, frankly, the responses do not work for me.

Indeed, they've proven that it's not worth reading any more of them; Day's world-building, plotting, and characterization, as described, are really not going to be my cup of tea. This is even aside from the other issues I have with his behavior in our community (and the rather weird personal dynamics of the community he's gathered around him).

So thank you, but no thanks. And when I say no thanks, I mean, and further attempts will be put to the moderation queue, because it's getting repetitive and rather tiresome.

Secondly, anyone who posts another one of these will have all of their comments sent to the moderation queue. Likewise, anyone who wants to pursue the issue of whether Day is really not racist because reasons. It's just not holding up, and it's not good conversation.

Thirdly, that means that I'd prefer that the community not respond to them, because it's not fair to respond to people who can't answer back. I acknowledge that there are many juicy hooks and useful things to be said, but I'm running out of joy to moderate this discussion.

And fourth, yes, I have reduced the font size in comment 623, because wall of text. It can still be read by selecting, copying, and pasting into a text editor.

#634 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 08:27 AM:

I think that Daniel Abraham's "Dagger and Coin" fantasy novels should have made it to the Hugo finals, but that's the way it is. On the other hand, the first novel in the "Expanse" space opera he writes with Ty Franck did.

#635 ::: A VD Fan ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 08:51 AM:

#507 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 11:31 AM:
A VD Fan, I infer from what you write that you are a straight white male (and probably at least nominally Christian). I infer this because I can't imagine a non-straight, non-white, or non-male person reducing Vox Day's transgressions to "saying mean things on the internet."
You're correct that he isn't a murderer as far as we know. He is, however, an advocate of murder (he supported the Taliban in their attempt on Mulala Yousafzi), which isn't really that much better.
What you don't get is that attacks on a group to which I belong are personal attacks on me. I've been attacked by Vox Day. He's said that I should be killed. I've just said I want to make sure he doesn't get a Hugo.
I happen to think that's quite a measured response, considering.

Are you attempting to disqualify my opinion based on race, gender, or sexual orientation?


#520 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2014, 12:56 PM:
"A VD Fan" says to me: "But I understand your point as he has less than flattering things to say about your wife and that probably clouds your judgment."
Oh, my judgment of Vox was established, and published, well before he started spitting out kindergarden-level insults at Teresa about her weight and appearance.

I read the links provided and you are correct, you were quite violently angry with him years ago. Do you believe your behavior over the years may have any impact on the things he says about your wife today?

#636 ::: abi, who is also Idumea ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 09:01 AM:

A VD Fan @635:
Are you attempting to disqualify my opinion based on race, gender, or sexual orientation?

Posted on a blog partly owned by a straight white man, on which Xopher feels perfectly at home, that question is so clumsily disingenuous that it disproves itself.

In any case, goodbye. You've had your say, and everyone who wants to come to an opinion of you and your compatriots has enough grounds to make their choices. Further comments from you will go into moderation.

#637 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 09:16 AM:

Just to confirm, I do in fact feel perfectly at home here. And some of my best friends are straight white men! I think they should have equal rights, and be allowed to marry women if they want and stuff.

#638 ::: Ewan ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 09:23 AM:

510: "And next year, there is a good chance that Col. Kratman is going to be on the Hugo noms."

I've read the whole thread - and several other similar elsewhere - and for me, *this* was the point that made me say 'Oh, hell, no!' and reflect on how/whether that would tarnish the award.

VD is repugnant, no question; I think that it is nonetheless possible to conceive of someone getting enjoyment from one of his stories. Kratman - for me - does not meet that threshold. I've told the story before, but as someone who enjoys some of John Ringo's stuff (some of it a *lot*, I much regret the loss of the Council Wars series for light escapism) I bought a Ringo/Kratman book in an airport. On landing, I emailed Toni Weisskopf and demanded (I hope and think politely) a refund on the basis that it was not usable for the intended function of being read. She gained much kudos in my eyes by giving me one, which I confess I had not expected; I've done my best to repay that not least by telling this story several times.

Ahem, I got off track. Anyway: if Kratman really gets nominated, then I would lament, in a way that I have not been made to this year. Correia passes - again, for *me, ymmv - the plausibility threshold; VD does not but is at least trying to write and showing some minimal-pulse level of ability. Kratman's stuff is both utterly reprehensible *and* completely void of any storytelling or language-manipulation ability. Yeach.

#639 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 09:29 AM:

Xopher, if we're ever in the same geographic location, it would be my privilege to supply you with the beverage or lavish dessert of your choice.

#640 ::: NateM ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 10:28 AM:

"Nice wall of text, and no doubt it's sincerely meant, but you can't use an interpretative reading of his fiction to excuse, or take back, Day's polemical blog posts, essays, and racist screeds"

So basically despite saying you want someone to give a reason why his works are enjoyable, what you really wanted is to say you listened before ignoring those reasons and continuing to hate them solely for personal reasons.

#641 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 10:28 AM:

Lydy @555: I think you've missed Seanan's best works -- by far her best, in my opinion -- because she did them totally for love not money, serializing them on her Livejournal and then publishing via IsFIC press rather than one of the majors: her Velveteen superheroine/archetype fix-ups, Velveteen vs. the Junior Super-Patriots and sequel, Velveteen vs. the Multiverse. (A third book is apparently in the works. Eventually. I am waiting impatiently.)

#642 ::: abi, who is also Idumea ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 10:41 AM:

NateM @640:
So basically despite saying you want someone to give a reason why his works are enjoyable, what you really wanted is to say you listened before ignoring those reasons and continuing to hate them solely for personal reasons.

Nope. RD Miska's intent was not just to explain "why his works are enjoyable" (a la, say, scottishmentat @498), but also, well, let me quote it myself.

I mentioned earlier that I believe that Day’s fictional work provides his opponents with some evidence that should make them pause and re-think their negative assessment of Day. And while Vox Day needs absolutely no help in defending himself, I nevertheless wish to point out in what way I believe that Day’s novelette does indeed provide evidence against the harsh assessment of his character that is being made by so many individuals.

I was stating that I was unconvinced by that part of his essay.

You are encouraged to read the comment in question (copy it to a text editor to enlarge it). Allow me to free up some time for you to do so by relieving you of the pressure to further respond here.

#643 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 11:00 AM:

Xopher, #605: That would pretty much make me throw the book against the wall too, but for personal reasons -- she's just recreated my mother. I don't know if I'd call it more "unreliable narrator" or "flexible reality", but I had more than enough of it IRL that I don't want to have to deal with it in my pleasure reading.

Charlie, #641: I'm with you on the Velveteen books; although I'm not entirely sure that I'd rank them over the Toby Daye series, they're certainly its equal. Unfortunately, I hate zombies more than I love McGuire's writing, so I haven't read her other series.

#644 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 11:33 AM:

Charlie Stross @ 641, Lee @ 643: I love Seanan McGuire's Velveteen stories! While you can read them online, the hardback books are beautiful.
I'm not generally a fan of zombies, but I really liked her Mira Grant novels, too. She makes her pandemics altogether too plausible for comfort.

#645 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 12:22 PM:

Xopher Halftongue #637: What of those of us who might not be, ahem, white?

#646 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 12:32 PM:

Wow! I skip past a thread for a couple of days and it fills up with lunatic sockpuppetry.

I am especially taken by the claim that Vox Stercor is not a racist essentially because he says he's not a racist. I've come across dumb arguments before, but claiming that X does not mean X because you have apodeictically so asserted is pretty high up on the dumb meter.

I am, to the point, one of the voters whom these clowns are seeking to persuade. They've succeeded. It'll be a cold day in Gehenna before I read Vox Stercor's prose, much less vote for it.

#647 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 12:34 PM:

620
It would have to be a bad year for Noah Ward to win. It was rarely getting enough votes to finish about the cellar.

As to programming it - it was a PITA when I did it, and I had the code for 1971-1972 to work from. (Full PL/I for those two, tyvm, and wasn't it fun figuring out how some of those functions worked!)

#648 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 12:38 PM:

What I expect the Hugos to be is consensus recommendations from a vaguely representative sample of the science fiction viewing/reading community.

While I agree that it isn't possible (or perhaps even desirable) for people to ignore what they know about creators' politics and behavior, if Hugos were to become primarily about politics and behavior, I don't think they'd be worth doing.

Anyone have an estimate of what proportion of Hugo voters are affected by the discussions about authors?

I have a bet with myself that there will be more slates of recommended nominees for next year's Hugos. Beyond that, my crystal ball gets cloudy. Will the slates cancel each other out? A few slates become dominant influences? Something else?

#649 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 01:50 PM:

Nancy @648: making it especially unpredictable this year is the fact that Loncon 3 just sold their 7000'th attending membership, making this the biggest worldcon ever, in or out of the United States -- they're anticipating 8000+ on the door. (Normal worldcons would be about 4500-5500 in the USA, 3000-4500 outside it. London, however, is very well connected in terms of international flights, isn't scary to US travellers -- unlike some other overseas destinations -- and seems to have hit a sweet spot in also attracting the British and EU con-going demographics.) My guess is that less than half the Hugo voters are American, so some of this mess may be seen as a purely American political issue and stories will be judged on their merits. In which case, don't be surprised if Ann Leckie wins the Hugo for best novel (it's her or the Wheel of Time but WoT was never as big in the UK as in the USA).

#650 ::: abi, who is also Idumea ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 01:54 PM:

Dear Daysies,

If you're going to be rude, disengenuous jerks, I'm going to unpublish your comments and ban you. If you can't tell whether I'm going to think you're being a rude, disingenuous jerk, then perhaps you might spend the time in introspection rather than wasting both our time in the post-and-unpublish cycle.

I've already said we've had enough defenses of Day to form or refine our opinions of him and his coterie. I haven't seen anything in the unpublished comments that causes me to revise that. If anything, the things I've removed would reduce your already low esteem within our community.

#651 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 01:58 PM:

651
Considering that the comments still in place make me want to avoid that entire group as well as everything VDay has written or will write in the future, the ones still in the queue must qualify as toxic.

(Note to Daysies: insulting everyone who doesn't agree with you is guaranteed to make your leader less popular.)

#652 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 02:32 PM:

Well, A VD Fan was sufficiently nice about being asked to leave that I nearly published his comment despite having said he'd go into moderation. But a couple of the other comments have been...much less of worthwhile additions to the conversation.

#653 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 02:46 PM:

Fragano 645: What of those of us who might not be, ahem, white?

Why, even more, of course!

Just to be perfectly clear: Whiteness, or maleness, or straightness should not be a barrier to equal rights, as they now are.

As they now are? Why yes. Currently they provide additional rights (privileges) that nonwhite, nonmale, nonstraight people do not have. So equalizing rights...well, the math is simple.

So yes, Fragano, I believe you should have equal rights with everyone else. And if that means increasing your rights on some sliders and decreasing your privilege on others, well, life is complex.

In case anyone is reading this with deadly seriousness: I am well aware that the oppressions, aggressions, and disprivileges faced by Fragano as a person of color, albeit a straight one, are vastly greater than the ones faced by me as a gay person who is white.

#654 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 02:55 PM:

Lila 639: What a nice compliment! Thank you, I'd be pleased to accept.

#655 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 02:58 PM:

Charlie Stross, in #649, says that Loncon just reported selling its 7000th attending membership. I asked Charlie where he heard this, and he said oops, it was the 7000th membership overall. My guess is that they're currently at 1300-1500 supporting memberships and 5500-5700 attending. Which is still huge for a non-North American Worldcon, this long before the event itself.

Charlie told me that at Eastercon, the scuttlebutt was that they're now projecting about 8000 people on site, which--if it happens--would make LonCon 3 a close second for largest Worldcon ever, after LACon II in 1984 (officially 8,365). ("Long List" of Worldcons here.)

#656 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 03:08 PM:

Cough: I will note that in any case, neither Loncon 3 nor LACon II can hold a candle, membership-wise, to Pyrkon 2014 in Posnan, Poland, which I attended last month.

24,513 memberships sold (many day memberships, admittedly) before they stopped charging for admission around Sunday lunchtime. They used an international conference center but demand was so high they overloaded the bar-code-reader turnstile system ...

(Yes, I know it's smaller than ComiCon San Diego. It's in the second city of Poland, for Cthulhu's sake! Maybe we should send VD there?)

#657 ::: rea ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 03:37 PM:

Deep into the thread a moment of sartori occurs--Seanan McGuire is Mira Grant! (Or maybe Mira Grant is Seanan McGuire). Oh--much is now explained . . .

A thunderclap under the clear blue sky
All beings on earth open their eyes;
Everything under heaven bows together;
Mount Sumeru leaps up and dances.--Wumen Hui-k'ai

#658 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 03:40 PM:

We just got a couple of comments from something calling itself “Mr Ching Chang Chong”, writing in exactly the kind of style you’d expect from someone using that handle. (IP address somewhere in or near Los Angeles.) So very, very banned, but I just wanted to note for the record the kind of fans Vox Day inspires.

#659 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 03:52 PM:

Along with the people who came through over the last few days posting fraudulently under the names of various Making Light regulars. I mention this because it isn't 100% clear, in the wake of the cleanup, that that's what happened.

Class acts, these folks.

#660 ::: Tom Kratman ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 03:55 PM:

@638

Really wasn't a bit interested until someone pointed this out to me, Ewan. I'm going to have to give it some serious thought now.

Y'all have a nice day.

best,

Tom

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#662 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 04:25 PM:

We seem to have attracted a contingent of the junior-fandom variety. Would that they were actually as amusing as they think they are.

#663 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 04:29 PM:

Yeah, I thought I'd leave that last one up (OK, 21/26ths up) in case anyone thought we were dealing with grownups, or people to be taken seriously. I think it makes a nice diptych.

Next Daysie that posts, know that we're associating you with these charmers, who always do seem to turn up when you're around.

#664 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 04:34 PM:

Xopher Halftongue #653: :)

Intersectionality is a very complex thing, as we say.

#665 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 04:38 PM:

Charlie Stross #656: I think the people of Poland have suffered enough over the past few centuries.

#666 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 05:00 PM:

Yumpin' Yimminy. I hadn't been following the kerfuffle re: VD (with whose general character I'm familiar from kerfuffles mentioned on Scalzi's blog) and Correia (of whom I have not heard previously). Between the sockpuppets, the childish attempts at impersonating regular posters, and the repetitive commentary re: why such-and-such individual isn't X despite said individual's OWN WORDS confirming that yes, person is demonstrably and self-admittedly X...I wish I'd known to stock up on popcorn. The jar of Nutella just wasn't sufficient to the need.

And were I to buy a supporting membership in order to vote on the Hugos, the actions of the above authors' supporters are enough to make me think seriously about voting said authors down without the courtesy of a reading. Because seriously, if this is the way their fans behave (and what I haven't heard is that either author did ANYTHING to rein in their supporters' nonsense here), why on earth would I want to be one of them?

If either author were to read my comment and claim I have proved their assumptions, they're welcome to think so. But art doesn't get created in, nor does it exist after its creation, in a vacuum.

#667 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 05:01 PM:

Also, I am tickled beyond reason by the number on my previous comment. :)

#668 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 05:03 PM:

One thought, for anyone contemplating the pleasures of a convention with Mr Day and his bouquet: five and a half thousand is a lot of people. There's no guarantee of running across any specific subgroup of fandom unawares (barring certain specific events, like—sorry, Charlie—the Hugo nominees' gatherings).

This goes just as much for the people who want to avoid the damned Libruls, by the way.

#669 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 05:20 PM:

I wonder how either of the problematic authors would respond to not-fans coming over to their blog and taking a dump on the carpet. I suspect that the reaction would be a lot less temperate than the one here has been. NOTE: I am not by any means suggesting that anyone here do that -- we, as a community, know better and are better than that. But the fact that said problematic authors have apparently been, if not encouraging, at least not disapproving of their fans coming over here and taking a dump on the carpet... does not make me inclined to think of them as authors worth reading. There are already more good books out there than I have time to read which are not written by proven assholes.

#670 ::: ULTRAGOTHA ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 05:25 PM:

I think the one of the larger problems with the Hugo nominations this year is the (again) lack of a full slate in the Short Story category.

There were more ballots in that category than any other category outside Best Novel and BDP Long Form. Yet only four made it to the short list. We'll undoubtedly see, again, a whole bunch of nominees with a few nominations each, all of which were less than 5% of ballots submitted.

That means there's a lot of good short fiction being read and nominated but only four out of dozens made it above the 5% threshold. I'd like to see that changed. If we have that much short fiction the nominators consider worthy of nomination, we should see them appear on the ballot, darn it.

Not sure exactly how to word a change to the Constitution to accomplish this, though. Just do away with the 5% threshold, perhaps?

#671 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 05:26 PM:

abi posted (as the neighbour of the beast - which in this case is Syd, heavily disguised but recognisable by the toasting fork and gigantic bag of popcorn):

There's no guarantee of running across any specific subgroup of fandom unawares

This moose at least hopes for a Gathering of Light so that faces can be put to names (and cocoa-dusted truffles offered around).

Plus, I owe various people an Internet.

#672 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 05:30 PM:

Lee @669:

To reinforce your comment: I have no time for anyone who goes to another's blog to sock-puppet or troll, no matter how just the cause.

I know that there are blogs that pride themselves on the rough-and-tumble of their culture, and that's great for them. A diverse internet of many subcultures is, in my opinion, the best way to allow all the voices in the choir a chance to be heard.

But even in the most unfettered of sites, I'd hope that the arguments I care about most would be carried by passionate but honest people, with integrity and clarity.

#673 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 05:33 PM:

ULTRAGOTHA @670:

I'm sure Kevin Standlee can pont you in the right direction for getting that sort of thing moving.

Moose @671:

Yes, we need to plan one of those. Not, perhaps, just right at the moment or in this conversation, though.

#674 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 05:48 PM:

672
And someone showed up at Slacktivist this weekend, sockpuppeting (very poorly) as Teresa. I'm not sure if it was one of those banned here, or a previous Slack sockdrawer.

#675 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 06:03 PM:

Fragano 664: Indeed.

abi 668: I feel so sorry for the Spokane committee, who have to run the Hugo Losers Nominees Party. I'm betting Beale will be there, unless he's been kicked out of the convention by then.

ULTRAGOTHA 670: I think doing away with it for that category may make some sense, though you might wind up with a couple of dozen stories all with exactly the same number of nominations, and no way to choose between them.

#676 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 06:06 PM:

PJ Evans @674:

I see. There was a comment with that same name here. I changed the name to "Sockpuppet", and the name of the answerer to "Twit". I cannot know the poster's true name, but I reckon those were closer than the ones supplied. I swear, my son's middle-school classmates are more mature, and all they ever do is make fart jokes.

I also don't believe that the comment attributed to Xopher is him.

#677 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 06:09 PM:

Xopher @675:

Having too many short story nominees is less of a reading-time problem than having too many novel nominees, particularly now that we can often expect to have the nominees provided to us, rather than having to go hunt them down.

#678 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 06:10 PM:

510, Ewan @638 - So far as I can tell, the only fiction Tom Kratman has scheduled for 2014 is a novel, due July[1]. It's 6th in a series[2] which is a bit of a hard sell for voters I would think.

On the other hand I have no intention of attending or voting either this year or next year. I'm not certain if this makes me part of the problem or not.

Charlie Stross @649 - I know a number of die hard WoT fans here in the UK, and many others who dropped out over the years. If people like them are motivated to take a second look now the huge thing is done and rediscover what drew them to it in the first place, it could push it over the top.

[1] Presumably someone has early access in order to judge it Hugo nominee worthy. And there's still eight months of the year for other works to be published!
[2] I've read the first A Desert Called Peace; thought it would make it's point better as an actual alternate history military technothriller OR if it's a satire maybe put a few more jokes in. Wasn't motivated to seek out the sequels.

#679 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 06:14 PM:

Me @678 - My mistake! After hitting publish here, found out that Kratman published a stand alone novella in February. Maybe that's the one referred to.

#680 ::: Kevin Standlee ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 06:14 PM:

Ultragotha @670:

The 5% threshold is there for a number of reasons. Among them is a consensus (so far) that a work needs to have a certain minimal level of support to justify it being on the short list of finalists.

Among the problems with having such a large spread-out field is that the preferences flatten out into a long tail. It's quite possible that you could have the nominations go something like 128, 75, 42, 20, 20, 20, 20, 20, 20, 20, 20, .... and you'd have ten nominees or more on the ballot. (The most finalists there ever have been is eight in my recollection.) Some people are troubled by there being such a long list of finalists.

The most plausible proposal (and yes, I'm one of those suggesting) I have heard is to make the minimum the lesser of 5% or N ballots. For example, if you set N=25, if there were (say) 700 ballots cast in the category, a nominee could make the ballot with 25 nominations (if in the top five) even though 25

#681 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 06:14 PM:

Me @678 - My mistake! After hitting publish here, found out that Kratman published a stand alone novella in February. Maybe that's the one referred to.

#682 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 06:18 PM:

Kevin Standlee @680:

It looks like your comment got cut off. Did you try to use a less-than sign? The blogging software will read those as the beginning of an HTML tag and get terribly confused. And, unfortunately, it doesn't preserve the confusion at the back end; I can't retrieve what you were saying.

If you want to include a less-than sign in your prose, you have to use an HTML entity. Try &lt; which will render as < when your comment is published.

#683 ::: Tom Kratman ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 06:19 PM:

@ Neil, #678

One novel; maybe, but probably not, two. At least one novella, but probably two. At least one related work; an essay cum how-to manual(Training for War, which, since very few people writing sci fi, or writing period, have a clue about, I commend to you all. It's free, too) though probably two or even three.

#684 ::: peppermint ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 06:22 PM:

has become important to the development of the Church

it's supposed to be Summa Theologica, by the 13th century monk Thomas Aquinas. Aquinas mentions several people - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Summa_Theologica#References_within_the_Summa - iirc one of which was unknown for some time. OVA gives a fictional backstory.

#685 ::: Peter ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 06:38 PM:

Good Lord!

I fought against this totalitarian mindset starting in the 60's and 70's when it was about race and religion. Now I look, and see far too many of my allies doing the very same thing we railed against back then.

After decades of fighting The Man, you've become The Man, including the intolerance.

abi: Really? You assert that VD-ists were frothing but not speaking positively about his work, and then you (finally) admit that you weren't going to listen anyway. You should acquaint yourself with the word "honesty".

Then there's the wholesale deletion/disemvoweling of comments you all don't like. Again, see "honesty" cited above. And 4 (four) moderators? Just what are you afraid of? You all are the dominant (or at least the ascendant) portion of WestCiv, yet you cannot tolerate dissenting views?

Before any of you presumes to sit in judgment of Beale/Correia/Kratman, you first need to live up to your own stated ideals. So far, you're failing. Miserably.

Lastly @abi/idumea: don't waste the effort to ban me. I won't be back. I see what you've become with just this little bit of power, and I shudder to think what you'll do if you get your hands on real authority.

#686 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 06:41 PM:

685
Having seen some of the comments before they were deleted - they added nothing to the conversation.
Also, there's no law anywhere that says the blog owner and moderators can't delete offensive comments. That's part of having one.

Don't like it? Start your own.

#687 ::: rea ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 06:53 PM:

Peter @685:

It's a common misconception, I know, but "free speach" does not really mean that everyone is obligued to shut up and listen to you.

#688 ::: Danny Sichel ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 06:54 PM:

I'm really looking forward to the longlist being released, so that we can see what got bumped by the two blocs.

For the record, bloc voting is entirely legitimate and I do not decry the participants in either bloc, or the individuals who caused the blocs to happen.

But damn, I'm disappointed that Digital Divide by K. Brooke Spangler didn't make it.

#689 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 06:58 PM:

I don't believe I've ever commented on Slacktivist. Certainaly I haven't commented there recently.

#690 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 07:01 PM:

Uhhh...do I need to do anything about that?

#691 ::: ULTRAGOTHA ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 07:05 PM:

Kevin @ 680 -

Oh, I know why the 5% rule is there. And I agree with the intentions behind it. I just think it's messing with the short story category by reducing the number of nominations in a category that is increasing in popularity.

So many short stories are being published in so many widely different venues and they're being read and enjoyed by so many nominators. It seems a shame that all that energy and purpose results in fewer nominations.

A threshold of 25 or some other reasonable number instead of 5% would work for me.

#692 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 07:11 PM:

690
The dreaded error?

#693 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 07:13 PM:

Peter:

Read the thread. I listened, and acknowledged that people found value in the works. But the descriptions did not persuade me to read the books. Listening, you see, does not mean automatically agreeing.

I was never persuasible on Day's views; I've read enough of his own words. I also never made any bones about that fact.

And in the meantime, moderating a comment thread is actual work, because your charming pals were also trolling and socking. So when none of the moderators wanted to spend further the clearing up the cesspit that your dear mates were creating, I drew the conversation here, in the place where I do the work, to a close. It can go on elsewhere where someone else does the work, but I am not your servant.

You act like I silenced! SILENCED!!! you and your bouquet of fellow Daysies. I did not. Go ahead and talk your heads off. Just not here, where Patrick and Teresa pay the bills, and the mod team does the work. Guests are welcome. Freeloaders who crap on the conversational carpet, not so much.

And if you or your pals keep commenting under other people's names, don't you dare come around whining to me about your perceptions of my honesty. Clean up your own side first.

#694 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 07:15 PM:

No, I mean about the fact that someone commented using my usual nym on Slacktivist.

#695 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 07:23 PM:

Xopher, I didn't see that, but there was someone over there using Teresa's name. It's a Disqus-using site, and they're posting as a guest, so they have no history visible.

#696 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 07:33 PM:

abi, #693: As I recently had reason to mention on the DFD thread, there are a surprising number of people who seem to believe that "listen", "agree", and "obey" are all interchangeable terms, and who frequently use the first when they should be using one of the other two.

#697 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 07:37 PM:

Hmm, abi, what were you referring to at 676?

#698 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 07:52 PM:

OMG UR BEIN INTOLERANT OF MY INTOLERANS

#699 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 07:54 PM:

Meanwhile, at a blog apparently dedicated to a medium-sized town in the Abruzzo, there is a wankfest going on. Victory is being declared, and it is being announced that ML is naught but a gathering of liberals who march in lockstep and do not understand that racist, sexist, homophobic anti-Semites are simply misunderstood defenders of the good, the true, and the beautiful.

#700 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 08:11 PM:

Keeps 'em off the streets. It's all good.

#701 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 08:26 PM:

abi, I think you've been amaaaazingly tolerant. I cannot imagine what is going through the heads of folks who come to ML, use fake names (or OUR names!), accuse the regulars of intolerance, hypocrisy, reading while holding liberal political opinions, who-the-fck-knows what else, and then get pissed off when they are politely informed that they have not persuaded us to their point of view about Vox Day or anyone else. And being rude won't change that. Not even if they bring brownies.

Clueless. Go be rude on your own blogs, folks. I have to go march in lockstep now.

#702 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 08:37 PM:

I'm setting up to disappoint some more fair-minded moderates with my cruel lack of warm fuzzies for white supremacists! THEYLL HAVE SUCH A SAD.

#703 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 08:48 PM:

Fragano @699:

Meanwhile, at a blog apparently dedicated to a medium-sized town in the Abruzzo, there is a wankfest going on.
It's good that they all gather together like that. It means they're not out pestering other forums.

I'll admit I'm going to miss their explanations about how we're just not intellectually gifted enough to understand Pox Day's writing. Some of those moved me almost to tears. Also to whooping, pointing, and choking on my drink.

#704 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 09:38 PM:

Teresa... Pox Day? I like that. What about Lax Lay?

#705 ::: rea ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 09:47 PM:

their explanations about how we're just not intellectually gifted enough to understand Pox Day's writing

Oh, I wish I wasn't.

Because the baseball game rained out, I had some spare time and used it to find Vox Day's story on the internet. It's clunkily written, and the man doesn't speak good Latin, but the main problem is that it's vile and horrifyingly racist.

The message of the story is this: members of other races come in two varieties. Some--the good ones--are brilliant and accomplished, and provided that they diligently follow our rules, it is possible to learn from them, even have a kind of friendship with them. But, they can never be our equals, no matter how brilliant and accomplished--they are simply lacking a spiritual quality that it unique to us. And, the good ones are atypical--the typical ones will kill us all without remorse, given an opportunity.

I suppose someone might say in his defense that his characters are elves, not blacks or Muslims. Sure, and Orwell made an odd choice to write a book about barnyard animals. If that wasn't what he was trying to say, then what the heck was he trying to say?

#706 ::: Kelly Jennings ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 10:05 PM:

rea #705: Don't forget what VD's fans say is the best part of the story, which is the tolerance it shows.

As near as I can tell, what they mean by this is that the priest in the story is willing to treat the black man, I mean the elf, almost like a human being, even though he knows the Muslim, I mean the elf, isn't one.

#707 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 10:22 PM:

@705:Good call. On reflection, I quite agree that amidst the generally poor writing is an essentially racist tale.
Pretty unrelieved badness from whatever angle it is examined.

#708 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 11:07 PM:

I second Lizzy L @ 701's awe for abi's tolerance. The display of sustained idiocy on this thread has been incredible and abi's moderation has been admirably humane.

I'm also impressed with those Correia and Day fans who answered abi's request to talk about what it is they like and value about those authors' works. They gave me a much clearer sense of what those works are about and whether I'd enjoy them--unlike those lecturing me on how I ought to approach them or calling me names. It takes a lot of courage to talk about why you like a piece of art to people you don't expect to be sympathetic, and I honor that.

#709 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2014, 11:39 PM:

abi, #693: "And if you or your pals keep commenting under other people's names, don't you dare come around whining to me about your perceptions of my honesty. Clean up your own side first."

I keep remembering what I might have said to one now-banned poster: you can't emulate Jesus by taking the side of Rome. I am feeling that I have encountered someone like that black magician who wonders if he had always known that he would "finally take that last step into Satanism, but if so, he had very successfully suppressed it." I don't think they know the road they are on, but it is surely not to anything recognizably "good."

#710 ::: taylor collingsworth ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 01:30 AM:

"I suppose someone might say in his defense that his characters are elves, not blacks or Muslims. Sure, and Orwell made an odd choice to write a book about barnyard animals. If that wasn't what he was trying to say, then what the heck was he trying to say?"

The argument that all or many stories with multispecies are stand-in's for human races is fairly poorly supported.

There is not much fantasy that deals with religion in a way that is alot like it is reality. In reality, people wonder about the nature of a soul, and about God, all the time.

In fantasy stories with elves, and gobblins and all manner of other species, the religions often are portrayed as flatly one-dimensional, or, alternatively ignored.

I don't think there is anything in any of the author's text or subtext that supports an allegorical reading of the various races are human. As it stands, you own criticism isn't well thought enough to even say what those parallels are.

I read the work as discussion about the nature of belief and ensoulment. It is something that many fantasy authors simply do not deal with. In such a world, what species have souls, if any? What if a being without a soul studies the religion of a ensouled being?

For those readers who are not religious, it may just seem really foreign. I read with interest Chris G.'s criticism (way way upstream) and also others, and it sort of seems like it's a miss in terms of making the connection. For readers who either a little, moderately, or very religious, it fills a void that is not filled elsewhere very often.

#711 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 02:06 AM:

Peter @685:

"Good Lord!
I fought against this totalitarian mindset"
Totalitarian? Really?

Are you sure you know what that word means?

Have you looked it up?

"starting in the 60's and 70's"
Liar, liar. You did no such thing.

How can I say that? Because I know light-years more about how language works than you do. Your language says you weren't, you didn't, and you don't have a clue.

"when it was about race and religion."
You've never listened to anyone who did what you're trying to fake.
"Now I look, and see far too many of my allies"
Never in life.

You must be really easy to fool if you think this pitch is going to work on others.

"doing the very same thing we railed against back then."
No one railed against this, or anything like this.
"After decades of fighting The Man, you've become The Man,"
1960s Marvel Comics, right? Nothing later or more sophisticated.
"including the intolerance."
My, my. You think "tolerance" means we have to put up with the dishonesty, stupidity, and rudeness of Pox Day and his Howlin' Minions. You probably think "free speech" means we're obliged to furnish you with an audience you can't attract on your own.

You'd be wrong about that.

I expect most sites that ban you don't bother to explain this point, but it's primarily your behavior, not your ideas, that get you zapped. Your ideas are nothing. Your ideas are as an ancient flotilla of running shoes spilled from a shipping container in a storm, eternally floating in the great circle of Pacific currents, randomly fetching up on beaches, then being washed out to sea again.

Incivility, not moderation, is the enemy of discourse. Infinitely more good conversations are lost to Daysies and their ilk than have ever been lost to disemvowelling and deletion.

"abi: Really? You assert that VD-ists were frothing but not speaking positively about his work, and then you (finally) admit that you weren't going to listen anyway. You should acquaint yourself with the word 'honesty'."
Abi Sutherland is far more honest than you, and a much better reader, and she's spent more time listening to you and your brother idiots than any of you deserve.

God didn't single Abi out to be your audience. God doesn't single any of us out to be your audience, or Pox Day's audience. Other people's time and attention is something that has to be earned. If you've reached your advanced age without learning that, I'm sorry for you. Someone -- your parents, if no one else -- should have told you.

Start learning it now.

"Then there's the wholesale deletion/disemvoweling of comments you all don't like. Again, see 'honesty' cited above."
We're perfectly honest about that! Heck, we're mildly famous for it. Act like a jerk on Making Light? Lose your vowels. Keep acting like a jerk? Lose other things. This is not a secret. There are Wikipedia articles about it, and songs, and lapel buttons that say LL YR VWLS R BLNG T S.

You didn't check out a forum before trying to kick up a ruckus in it? More fool you.

"And 4 (four) moderators? Just what are you afraid of?"
Not you, that's for sure.

We're averse to being bored, and to boring our esteemed readers. Suppressing idiots is part of the price we pay.

"You all are the dominant"
You don't warrant the jokes that line tempts me to make. I'll save them for some better occasion.
"(or at least the ascendant) portion of WestCiv,"
Boyo, do not come here and sling shit about Western Civilization. You're embarrassing yourself in front of a forum full of people who actually know something about it.
"yet you cannot tolerate dissenting views?"
My evening is now complete.

Peter, are you aware that that line, you cannot tolerate dissenting views, is the canonical mating call of boors and trolls all over the internet? I could show you a wiki that collects instances and variations of it, plus related linguistic markers. One of the known definitions of "troll" is "one who cannot be brought to believe that it's his behavior, not his opinions, that's getting him into trouble."

I used to think you guys -- by which I mean trolls, Peter, and you're one of them -- were literally incapable of understanding that point. No, really, I'm serious. I had a theory that online discourse had revealed the existence of a previously unrecognized learning disability. I'd seen many trolls over the years get worked over in different ways by different forums that were trying to get that one idea across to them, and the breakthrough never happened.

(The most remarkable one was the time rec.arts.sf.written pulled out all their best tricks and tropes, trying to get this one idea across to one writer, and still found him perfectly obdurate. Some cool stuff got written in the process.)

There's definitely something weird about trolls' relationships with their super-sacred opinions. These opinions are rarely challenging or surprising, and they're never original. They appear from their phrasing to be second-hand at newest. Frequently they're oddly assorted -- a disjoint or conflicting set, not a coherent one. Trolls who are in the midst of arguments can't extend, modify, unpack, or recombine their opinions. The things are as impervious as rocks.

In more recent years, I've decided that something different is going on. The reason trolls' opinions are so inutile, clichéd, and inert is that their content doesn't actually matter. It's a transactional thing.

Here's another known definition of trolls: people whose native talents don't bring them as much respect, admiration, and attention as they desire when they're used in normal, socially acceptable ways. Being thus balked, they turn to less acceptable methods to get the attention and sense of control they desire.

So. Trolls aren't really here to talk or argue in any normal sense. For the vast majority of them, their desired transaction is one where they present their resplendent opinions; the resplendence of their opinions is duly admired; and the forum heaps respect and attention on their heads.

Obviously, this outcome doesn't happen a lot, which disappoints them, so they get angry and aggressive. The forum responds by calling them idiots, or by deleting their comments.

Trollish responses to this are as formulaic as anything else they do: "you're dishonest, you're hypocrites, you're cowards, this is groupthink, it's an echo chamber," and furthermore:

--I can't believe I'm being censored for just expressing an opinion.
--Why are you scared of original thinking?
--You can't tolerate the challenge to your worldview.
--The fact that you've deleted my comment means I must be right.
--I'm not rude, just honest.
--You seem to be taking this rather personally.
--Why are you all so defensive?
--I don't understand what I've done to earn this hostility.
--I've struck a nerve and you can't take it.
--I'm sorry you find me intimidating.
--I'm sorry you can't handle the truth.
--You wouldn't react with this much hostility if I wasn't right.
--I have been repeatedly attacked with senseless ad hominem arguments!
--My ideas are too challenging for you to handle, so you're calling me a troll to avoid dealing with them.
--This is how your type always works: you lack the ability to sustain any logical debate on the topic, so you attempt to quash any dissent through intimidation, name-calling, and any other forceful means you deem necessary.
And so on, and so on, and so on.

What it actually means is, "I believe I'm entitled to your attention and admiration, and you haven't given it to me, so YOU'RE BAD AND MEAN." (The role played by their sense of entitlement clears up several long-standing questions about the demographic makeup of the troll population.)

I hypothesize that in face-to-face interactions, one of their am-I-okay tell-me-I'm-okay checking mechanisms is testing whether their opinions are "listened to politely", i.e. with silent endurance or a brief vatic response. I know they experience confusion and distress in their interactions in the text-based online world, where they're judged on what they say and do, and where silent endurance doesn't feel as polite as it does in the real world. Further hypothesis: their deployment of largely meaningless opinions is an attempt to cue the universe that it needs address their anxiety. If they get a positive response, it's a good interaction.

This would explain why it never works to tell them their behavior is the problem. The moment you say there's something about them that needs changing, the interaction has already gone south as far as they're concerned. It is a bad interaction. The point is not to figure out real fixes for real problems. The point is to tell them that they're swell.

(Am I implicitly suggesting that these guys could accidentally fall in love with ELIZA, or an artfully configured repeater bot? Kinda yeah.)

(Sorry, Peter. I got interested in writing that essay and forgot I was talking to you.)

"Before any of you presumes to sit in judgment"
Do you do this routine often where you descend upon a forum in full judgement mode, then tell them they can't judge X until Y? It needs a lot more work, but I think it could be really funny. Think about it.
"of Beale/Correia/Kratman, you first need to live up to your own stated ideals. So far, you're failing. Miserably."
Note to self: add this to the same wiki list as "dishonest, you're hypocrites, you're cowards, this is groupthink," et cetera.
"Lastly @abi/idumea: don't waste the effort to ban me. I won't be back. I see what you've become with just this little bit of power, and I shudder to think what you'll do if you get your hands on real authority."
A flounce, a palpable flounce!

#712 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 02:48 AM:

Taylor Collingsworth @710:

"The argument that all or many stories with multispecies are stand-in's for human races is fairly poorly supported."
Wrong. Don't even start, BSL. There's a millennia-old literary tradition of using nonhuman characters to enact human roles.

In our genre, differentiating and estranging alien characters to the point where they don't read as some variety of human is a major technical accomplishment. in the absence of Pox Day doing that, it's completely valid to read the different races as human races.

#713 ::: taylor collingsworth ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 03:16 AM:

Teresa-- I agree that there is a tradition for human stand-in's, but the fact that it is a tradition doesn't mean it is the only way to write a story, in all or many cases.

Are you saying that you read into the work, and that you found the characters to human stand-in's? Many reviewers, including way up thread here, noted that they felt the setting/world building was fairly standard for the genre. Is the contention that this includes that certain characters are stand-in's for certain races?

I admit that I have not heard this particular vein of criticism about this work before this thread, so I would have to think on it. It does seem like the goal posts have shifted to the merits of the work, which is very substantial. Except if this is backdoor way to say that not only is the work not fit for consumption, it is itself, a racist piece of work. Many others on this thread and elsewhere (and on other threads) commented that they read the work, and it just wasn't good. It is a recent development so far as I can see, that the claim is itself a racist work. As a Hugo voter, it would help to understand if there is a clear or at least available subtext that I have not yet examined.

#714 ::: taylor collingsworth ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 03:25 AM:

Teresa--

"I believe I'm entitled to your attention and admiration, and you haven't given it to me"

There is probably a lot of that going on in this thread, it was linked to by several people you find rather distasteful. And likewise, there has been, some, err, cross pollination the other direction as well.

The heckles that have been raised, are because there was a fairly direct complaint made about the Day fans - that they don't value the work (and, also, more directly by you, they only are in the for the controversy, for the lulz, or for the trolling). And I think that in your long take down of Peter's whine you make a strong point that the transaction of trolling is important to these fans.

It does seem though that you are downplaying both the size and the intensity of the fans of the people that you do not like - in order of those you don't like basically Day, Coreia, Torgersen. All three of not inconsequential fan bases. It is implausible that all of these fans are the bad people you describe or ascribe.

#715 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 03:27 AM:

Teresa, #710: Here's another known definition of trolls: people whose native talents don't bring them as much respect, admiration, and attention as they desire when they're used in normal, socially acceptable ways. Being thus balked, they turn to less acceptable methods to get the attention and sense of control they desire.

AKA the soggy-potato-chip hypothesis. Most people who like potato chips prefer fresh, crisp ones. But if for some reason no one is willing to give them fresh, crisp potato chips, some (not all) people will settle for soggy, nasty ones instead, just to have something resembling a potato chip. A further subset of these will eventually acquire a taste for soggy, nasty potato chips, and hence will spurn fresh, crisp ones even when they are offered.

Whether or not it is possible to retune such a person's taste from "soggy, nasty" to "fresh, crisp" is unknown at this time. Further research would be indicated, but very few are willing to undertake it.

#716 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 03:41 AM:

I think there was a subtle misdirect in Taylor Collingsworth's:

"The argument that all or many stories with multispecies are stand-in's for human races is fairly poorly supported."

That was not the argument. The argument was that in the particular story under consideration, "elf" stands for "other". I think that is quite defensible from the text, and even more so from the known attitudes of its author.

Ms Neilsen Hayden makes the further point that M/s Collingworth's statement in itself is false anyway, at least on balance. On the contrary, there's a long tradition of which she has intimate knowledge, of using fantasy intelligent hominids as symbols for groups of human beings.

#717 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 03:42 AM:

Dammit. Nielsen Hayden. Let the scourging commence.

#718 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 03:46 AM:

It maybe needs a slight modification to Teresa's comment about aliens as human stand-ins.

It is commonplace for alien races to be represented by human stereotypes. Unfortunately, these stereotypes almost always have racist associations, which may vary with the reader's culture.

The moneylender/merchant stereotype is, I gather, associated with the Chinese in parts of Asia. In the case of the Star Trek Ferenghi, they didn't try very hard to break away from the European form of that stereotype.

Using a stereotype is an ancient storytelling tool. In the modern world that tool can twist in your hand when it hits the knotholes and snags of a different culture.

#719 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 04:20 AM:

The history of the portrayal of the Other, and what we read into it aside, I do want to honor taylor collingsworth for coming into this conversation and offering that interpretation of the story. As heresiarch @708 says, this is a tough place to be open about the literature you like. I'm sorry that that's the case, that we talk on an internet where trolls force us to choose between being defensive and being overrun. I admire and appreciate people who make that effort.

Also, I think that comments 705 and 710 are a pretty good illustration of the topic of much of this extended discussion: how very different the same story looks depending on what the reader brings to it. Not just in the "is the author a racist?" sense, but also, as taylor points out, in whether one is a theist or an atheist, and what puzzles (such as ensoulment) one is minded to grapple with.

On a completely other note, I have re-embiggened RD Miksa @623, because the way I shrank the text down seemed to be giving certain browsers hiccups.

#720 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 04:24 AM:

(Also, I would like to point out that this last bit of the thread is a working illustration of the end of the first paragraph of our "Welcome to Making Light's comment section" blurb.)

#721 ::: Taylor Collingsworth ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 04:27 AM:

Dave--

"That was not the argument. The argument was that in the particular story under consideration, "elf" stands for "other". I think that is quite defensible from the text, and even more so from the known attitudes of its author."

I don't agree that it's a misdirect, but maybe off topic. The argument was posited that other authors have done it, and without that subtext the story makes no sense - see @705 for the exact way it was phrased. My family has a long-tradition of turkey on Thanksgiving, but we have recently started having Tofu. So it's a long-tradition, but it is not binding. Convention, basically, only goes so far. I have heard several comments that the authors' universe is "conventional" in that it's Europe-ish med-evilish.

But, calling the "other" is probably accurate, but saying that "other" is equivalent to blacks, or Muslims, or whatever, does not appear to be supported by the text or subtext. I have no problem with the argument, but are we applying it because it was written that way, or we read into based on inference about the author?

If it's NOT inference, it may or may not be correct, but I didn't pick up on it. I will re-read it to see if I missed something.

I was specifically asking if this was something that Teresa read into it, or if she was applying the general rule to this specific text. Although there is a long tradition of this, it is neither universal, uniform, or automatic. I don't think it was Freud, so let me coin it. Sometimes an elf is a black person, and sometimes and elf is just an elf.

It would be helpful if someone else who had red the book (other than rea, above) could weigh in on how the work aligned these groups. I cannot tell from Teresa's comments if her observation was first hand or not.

#722 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 04:30 AM:

Xopher @697:

I don't have time to go dig the links out again, but what I did is to go to Slacktivist and read the comments on the most recent threads. In addition to the puerile crap in a Teresa-like name, there was one under the name "Xopher Halftongue", but with no commenting history and not at all in your style of writing.

#723 ::: taylor collingsworth ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 04:44 AM:

abi-- There are a few things that work in the piece, and some things that don't. I can't remember where (maybe Chris G's review from his website, or maybe somewhere else) where it is noted that in a short-work for fiction you can't burn a few pages to get the story going. I also read the authors' comment that the work was written to balance out a very dark short-story that the nominated work was published along-side. So the fact that it's almost an element of a collection probably makes it difficult to separate the impression I have of the characters from the same or similar characters in the extended works that encompass the same world.

So I have it on my short-list to re-read this work in it's standalone context to see what bubbles up. I think the entire world of work for this series is, maybe, 125k? words, so it may be intertwined. In my first reading, I can't say that I took any human analog into the characters. I took more of an effort to "Redshirt" JRR Tolkein's Middle Earth - with immortal elves, wretched gobblins and orc and trolls, and humans all living in a Middle Earth that is super re-imposed on Europe.

If there is a subtext, that would be a problem. I do not think it's anywhere as blatant as the excellent Ferengi example you gave. As a religious person, who has studied some of the more seminal Christian philosophical works back in my youthful days, I connected with the question of the soul. I took the story as filling a niche in fantasy which projects human religion into a many-specied humanoid world. In thirty something years of being a fan, I can't remember another story dealing with what would happen if one species tried to convert to the religion of another, in the context of the religion being, you know, "real" (as in, the religion has a Earth-human like history, structure, and context). Most or all religion I can remember in the genre is fairly undeveloped. In my view, even in the best of circumstances (acceptable author, acceptable or excellent prose) the story is not going to be accessible to everyone.

#724 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 07:34 AM:

Book recommendations... Do you sometimes go to the bookstore, look at F/SF's 'new' section and think "These people are putting them out there in the arena and many of them will fail"?

#725 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 07:45 AM:

Taylor Collingsworth @723: So you missed Small Gods by Terry Pratchett?

#726 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 07:55 AM:

If you're willing to read SF as well as fantasy, Mary Doria Russel's The Sparrow certainly wrestles with evangelism to aliens.

(Warning: I've forgotten most of the details of the story, because it also spent time in other places I was not right then in the mood to be hit. It's got some heavy non-religious stuff, and may not be everyone's cup of tea.)

#727 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 08:03 AM:

You should read Lisa Goldstein's most recent novel, "The Uncertain Places".

#728 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 08:16 AM:

Teresa #711: So you started with a cognitive-deficit model for trollism, but have moved to a social-behavioral model.

Both of these levels may be in play, but ISTM that your own description points toward yet another level of dysfunction: A character or personality disorder, which (as usual) has its own homeostatic defenses.

#729 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 08:47 AM:

As one of the many 99 - 100% read-only people here, I feel a bit shy writing in this particular topic. Anyhow, this entry is for Our Regular Readers.

Palming the Card

You want to find a rationale for why you-and-yours are superior to some Them. You search until you find some quality that You have and They don't -- or vice versa. Then you hold up this one quality and claim it is, or represents, the one true metric.

This is garbage. Even if you were only buying a meter stick, you judge it by more than one metric. (N.b., the following is not metaphorical.) You choose between yardstick and meter stick. You choose between wood and metal. You judge for accuracy and, if you are sophisticated, you look at the very ends to see if there is extra material there, or if a millimeter or two has been or could be lost.

So it is with everything, as I was taught in Six Sigma class. Nothing can be judged by a single measure. Anyone who is trying to foist that on you is trying to make himerself look superior.

Another Card Trick

(I haven't seen this one here.) Person of Group X characterizes Group A as being good at This, so they should do This, and Group B as being good at That, so they should do That, and so on through the alphabet of groups, until we come to Group X. Person does not categorize Group X, but declares that all the lower positions have been filled by the Other Groups (who are so good at them) that Group X should take all the administrative and leadership roles, because that is what's left.

A Few Words from the Bishop of M.

Neanderthal ancestry is found in all humans except for those people who are native to the very southern part of Africa; it is found in most Africans. It is certainly found from the Slave Coast across to Kenya and Ethiopia.

#730 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 08:55 AM:

abi @ 720

'Great Golloping Knurdles of Crung - this looks like a job for.... the Theorist'

(I may have been spending a bit too much time looking at Saladin Ahmed's Tumblr about pre-code comics these past few days...)

#731 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 09:09 AM:

Talor Collingsworth@710:The problem I had with the soul/no soul part of the story was that it also wasn't particularly well done. The monk wondered about elves and souls briefly, but there wasn't really any in depth exploration from both sides.
The one philosophical talk between the elf and the head monk was a fairly standard bit of dialogue about incorruptibility that was old in the 17th century.
For me, the whole piece just really doesn't rise to a Hugo quality work.

#732 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 09:22 AM:

"Opera Vita Aeterna", a book report, by Niall McAuley, aged 49 and a half.

This is a story about an elf like an elf from the Lord of the Rings only he is bad. Well, he is not bad in this story, but the men in the story think he might be bad.

The story says he is a great elf magician like maybe Elrond but he does not do any magic. He is tall and has elf ears and does not get old but when we see into his mind he seems just like a man.

Maybe he is bad and maybe not. I did not find out by reading this story, but that is OK because neither did the elf.

#733 ::: lighthill ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 09:40 AM:

On evangelizing and aliens: I think Bradbury's "The Fire Balloons" would count. Two Episcopal priests go as missionaries to Mars, and learn that the native martians are spheres of blue fire.

(Wow, I haven't read that one since I was a teenager. How did I miss the priests' names?)

#734 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 09:44 AM:

Lighthill... that story was later incorporated into the Martian Chronicles tv miniseries.

#735 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 10:22 AM:

And already in a state of grace, IIRC. Quite at odds with Bradbury's other depictions of Martians, to the point where I questioned my memory of it being Bradbury until lighthill's post above.

#736 ::: lighthill ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 10:44 AM:

Xopher @ 735: Yes, that's so. They were once corporeal, but changed themselves long ago to become incapable of most forms of sin, and disinclined to the others.

The story also has an interesting take on the question of souls. Approximately: the protagonist takes it as obvious that souls aren't something you have, but something you are; and that to have moral agency is to be a soul. None of the characters take seriously the idea of soul as epiphenomenon.

The main evangelistic question of the story that the priests agrue about -- before they realize that the fire-balloon martians are in a state of grace -- is whether it's honest of them in their evangelism to build a church which presents Christ as a globe of blue fire.

It's very much a product of 1951, and Bradbury was by no means the deepest theological thinker of the genre, but it's IMO a pretty classic example of how to do speculative theology in speculative fiction.

#737 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 11:01 AM:

Dave B., #718: FWIW, I have always read Ferengi culture as Libertarian, and Ferenginar itself as Libertopia. Everything is seen in terms of monetary transactions and contracts, those who don't have money are SOL (and completely contemptible), and everyone else is a sheep to be sheared.

Which is not to say that your reading is wrong, but that there's another equally-plausible one to be made.

#738 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 11:08 AM:

Greetings. First post here as I ease myself back into a fandom a little in preparation for an attending membership of LonCon 3[1]. I'm probably behind the thread here, as I try to read a little before contributing to a forum where I have no track record. Apologies.[2]

Apropos of nothing at all, the most intriguing thing for me in this debate has been the separability of artworks from the artists that create them. I'm pretty sure this isn't possible: but my perspective is rather different given my academic bent, which was towards mediaeval literature, Old English in particular. I am pretty certain, for example, that I would like to meet the Beowulf poet, or the Ruin poet, or the poet of the Dream of the Rood, or William Langland or the Pearl poet. I'm pretty sure I'd give the poet of The Battle of Brunanburh a miss, despite being the world's biggest fan of Aethelstan. I'm also not sure sure that I'd have liked Chaucer very much, for all his verbal dexterity.

The thing that most of these poets have in common is that we know very little, or nothing, about them. Yet their personalities ring clear as a bell through their work. They therefore represent a bit of an artistic "control" for me on the separability issue.

Possible counterfactual: Shakespeare. His facility in counterfeiting the complexity of the human condition was so exact that I can't can see through his work to him. Even a play as unpleasant as the Merchant of Venice is "baroqued" (to use an Iain M Banks phrase) to such an extent that delving into its fractal depths doesn't yield penetration to the artist below.

Hmmm: not a very SF&F first post, sorry.

James


[1]Part of that preparation has been an eyebrow raising investigation of who the hell VD is given the noise. Oh.

[2] I am British. The apologies will probably continue. Sorry

#739 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 11:31 AM:

James @738:

Good to see you here on Making Light. That's a nice piece of parallax, too.

To add an equivalent from the Classics, Hesiod and Homer were rough contemporaries. Again, we have a couple of works from each of them, but no biographical or historical information. And yet the voice and underlying character of Works and Days are clearly very different than those of the Odyssey.

I guess the question some of our esteemed (and less esteemed) contributors higher up in the thread were asking is, can you legitimately turn that around? If the text can inform one of the author's character, how much does the author's character in turn inform one about the text?

#740 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 12:04 PM:

abi @739

I suspect, without any empirical proof whatsoever, that knowing things about the author often tells us rather a lot about the text. It certainly informs us why the Bronte sisters are quite so tedious for example, or why George Eliot most definitely was not. However, within the context of the Hugos, and the specific concern about giving certain individuals a "blind reading", I'm not sure that's important. I think for most writers "the real you" shines through 99 times out of 100. So, unless those individuals are as talented and self effacing as Shakespeare, I will be very surprised if someone whose online comments show a morally bankrupt prick[1] and an intellectual twister turns out to be Gandhi in print.

As for WoT: totally unexceptionable Fantasy wallpaper IMV. Sold by the yard (and what a lot of yards). I ground to a halt in about book five when the Pension Fund nature of it became apparent. I don't hate it, but I'm much rather read something a bit more transgressive like Richard Morgan than something so utterly derivative. I don't hate it at all, but it doesn't interest me any more and isn't remotely worthy of a Hugo. Contrast that with Scalzi's Redshirts last year: a totally throwaway bit of fan fluff, that turned around, bit hard and made me CRY, dammit, at the end. Or Blindsight by Peter Watts, which scared the living bejesus out of me.

[1] I wouldn't want to lower myself to sexual insults. But the one-eyed penis is half blind, famously stupid and keeps banging on relentlessly, so the metaphor is apt.

#741 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 12:21 PM:

abi, James: I am certainly accustomed to being told* that some of the things I keep seeing in Heinlein, such as the heavy Libertarian bent and the "strong, independent woman finds that her True Happiness lies in giving all that up to have a man's babies" trope, say nothing about the author's personal attitudes. I would find this more believable if the works were less consistent.

Clarke wrote a lot of stories in which religion plays a part -- but theologically, they were all over the map. So it's much harder to tease out his personal religious opinions based merely on his writing.


* I started to say "mansplained", but on second thought it is not by any means true that all the people who have patiently explained this to me were male.

#742 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 12:22 PM:

James Harvey @740

...perhaps I should be posting this here

#743 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 12:45 PM:

Lee @741

You are not alone in seeing those things in Heinlein!


[off topic whiffling]
Although I greatly enjoyed ASIASL and TMIAHM, it is to Clarke of The Big Three, rather than Asimov or Heinlein, to which I feel most tempted to return. The Songs of Distant Earth remains effortlessly haunting.

#744 ::: perlhaqr ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 12:52 PM:

Lee @460: "However, I do not view the mere inclusion of a protagonist of color, or of non-binary gender, as evidence of something being "all Message and no Story," while Correia (based on his own blog posts) apparently does. To which I say, his loss."

I would like to respectfully submit that you have misinterpreted Larry's position. For one thing, the main protagonist of the MHI novels is a POC. Of the rest of Pitt's squadron in the first book, Lee is asian, Trip is black, and Holly is a woman. So it's not exactly a cookie-cutter cast of lantern jawed white dudes.

Larry's point has never been "don't include minority humans in your stories". Ironically, his actual position is something I'd really expect to get a lot more traction from this side of the crowd (other than that it probably never occurred to Larry to try and phrase things to speak to y'all) in that it could well be rephrased as "don't tokenize your minority humans".

(I am using the phrase "minority humans" here as a shorthand for "people who are not members of the majority demarcations, either amongst humanity in general, or amongst Americans in specific".)

Don't put a trans person in your story just to check the ticky box. Don't add a POC just to have one. Make it be part of the story.

"So what do you suppose his reaction would be to people who show up on this blog, call the hosts and the regular commenters names, and tell us all that we're interrogating the text from the wrong perspective DOIN HUGOS RONG?"

Well, most likely that they are wasting their time. But I suspect he'd lambaste his own commenters for ragging on the stories the local authors put out, if the commenters in question hadn't read them. He's replied in just that fashion, in the blog comments (or on facebook) when people have said "Oh, well, Scalzi's a left wing-nut, I'm not going to read his stuff any more." (Disclaimer: I read both Correia and Scalzi. ;) )

"Especially since he appears to be the one who's sending them over here?"

I don't think he's telling anyone to come over here and comment. (For one thing, telling libertarians to do anything is mostly a waste of time. You're better off ordering the cat around.) Some of us just came over here to see what was up. :)

"Of your courtesy, though, if you intend to write one of those, separate your paragraphs with blank lines."

I will endeavor to use the enter key more often. ;)

#745 ::: perlhaqr ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 12:55 PM:

Antonia @531: "But I still foresee problems.

The military parachutist is an Anarchist and avowed worshipper of Odin."

As one of the visiting Correia fans, and as an anarchist pagan, I'm confused about which part of this I'm supposed to not like... :D

#746 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 12:55 PM:

James Harvey: Don't worry about the apologies. I'm a Canadian. I do it too. And welcome, an excellent bit of comparison.

Taylor Hollingsworth: I'd like to point out that historically, within Christianity, there ahve been serious debates as to whether both women and Africans *have* souls. While I have not yet read Opera etc., I can say from the (multiple) summaries here that this historical fact increases the likelihood of a woman or black person reading a story about an elf and the question of whether he has a soul and feeling a highly unpleasant parallel not to some general "other"* but to specific racist sexist others.

Please note my comment does not presuppose a thing about Day's intentions regarding his story. I have been often surprised what gets into my own fiction unintended.

* As noted, too, creating an "Other" (Alien or magical being) who does not ping as some kind of human is a trick few have successfully pulled. The most non-geniuses like me aspire to is to make our other look like a multi-dimensional, multiply-motivated human with agency, just from a different culture, instead of a cluster of stereotypes - but still, human.

#747 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 12:57 PM:

That all sounds pretty good, perlhaqr. One thing, though: you do realize that white people are a minority of the world's population, right?

Also, I'd dearly love to hear directly from Corriea on the topic of people coming over here and trolling on his behalf. A link to where he's told them not to on his blog would be fine, or if he came here...but it would be impossible to verify that it was really him, because of the Daysie trolls pissing in the well of identity.

#748 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 01:09 PM:

The last few books of the Memory of Earth series by Card deal with three species of intelligent beings, only one human. Many of the important characters think of one of the races as inherently hewers of wood and drawers of water, though that's pretty clearly not the view of the story or the good characters. The implication in this story is that all three have souls, and can hear the voice of God, but the religious and social beliefs of the time and place put the Diggers on bottom.

Card's Speaker for the Dead and Xenocide talk about two nonhuman species having souls which then become some kind of SFnal study-able thing. They also consider a species which may or may not have a soul, but which is impossible to make peace with and so can only be destroyed or avoided. I didn't much care for the direction the series went in the end, but Speaker for the Dead and most of Xenocide were quite good, IMO.

The humans in The Mote in God's Eye include many who are quite convinced that the Moties have souls, and one priest who is officially assigned to preach to them.

A commonplace of fantasy is the evil, unthinking species/race of trolls/orcs/trollocs/etc, deserving only of death and killable without the slightest twinge or remorse. This is, IMO, rather nastier than any number of speculations about the souls of various races/species. Historically, it has been way, way too easy for otherwise decent people to convince themselves that their neigbors or the guys from the next country over were trollocs, fit only for death, even the women and children. Tolkien doesn't seem to deal with any notion of orcs being capable of good, nor do Jordan/Sanderson with trollocs or fades. Fades, at least, are as intelligent as humans, and so presumably *could* exert some kind of moral choice.

I was never quite clear on the religion of the Minbari in Babylon 5, but they seemed to believe that humans had something like the same kind of soul as Minbari, which was the cover reason for why the war ended.

Turtledove's lizard aliens in the Worldwar series (as well as the other species in their empire) are willing to accept that humans have souls which, if they're loyal to the empire, will be looked after by the ghosts of emperors past, just like lizard souls.

I don't know that any of these qualify as deep theological thought about nonhuman species, but then, I'm not too convinced that I would recognize deep theological thought particularly well.


#749 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 01:12 PM:

On the character of an author showing up in his/her work: I got a complete bound set of the magazine UNKNOWN at one point, and read through all 39 issues. There were some really great stories there, and some fascinating bits in the letter columns.

This means, perforce, that I read a large number of L. Ron Hubbard's short stories, in a fairly short timespan. It's very easy to say that no individual trope of an author in one story represents his/her beliefs, and I think that's a fair thing to say. When the same approach shows up over and over again, it's much harder to claim that. And the most common trope in Hubbard's fiction of this period (1939-1945) is contempt for his protagonists. Rather like the snarkiness that seems to characterize many people writing, or doing humor, today.

I do think, from that reading (and other stuff I've read about Hubbard) that it's appropriate to say that he held the vast majority of people in the world in contempt. Whether that applied to individuals that he knew and talked to -- I will leave to those individuals who knew him. But it doesn't make me want to have made his acquaintance.

#750 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 01:13 PM:

Lenora Rose @ 746

OT: could I have a starting point/reference on historical Christian debates on "do women have souls?" I thought I was decently familiar with historical sex/gender debate within Christianity, but apparently missed that one completely.

#751 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 01:17 PM:

Well, I went over and introduced myself to the crowd at Slacktivist, and was received very kindly. Others are flagging the posts with my nym and perhaps a mod there will see to it eventually. I also flagged the ones parodying Teresa, though those are obviously not her.

Apparently the troll known here as Rabbit Hunter trolls Slacktivist as Rocketboy, or did until he was banned. Either that or there's an astonishingly narrow range of insults the Daysies use...or maybe they're using the eighth-grade insults Day uses about her (I'm not inclined to look).

To comment on Slacktivist I had to create a Disqus account, which was disqusting, but the other alternatives were worse.

#752 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 01:21 PM:

Also, in the Known Space stories, the Puppeteers have verified in some technological way that they do *not* have immortal souls, and so this life is all they get. They claim to have no idea whether this is true of other species.

In some sense, a finding that (say) elves don't have immortal souls whereas people do should make killing an elf a much more serious crime than killing a human.

#753 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 01:29 PM:

751
You didn't used to need an account there - you could post as a guest. On the other hand - having a Disqus account does allow commenting on a lot of sites. (Or at least voting comments up or down Science News uses Disqus.)

#754 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 01:32 PM:

albatross 748: I was never quite clear on the religion of the Minbari in Babylon 5, but they seemed to believe that humans had something like the same kind of soul as Minbari, which was the cover reason for why the war ended.

IIRC the real reason the war ended was that they discovered that bar cnegvphyne uhzna abg bayl unq n Zvaonev fbhy, ohg n cnegvphyne Zvaonev fbhy!

#755 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 01:36 PM:

P J, I wanted my identity (including my nym) to show up at the top of my comment.

#756 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 01:41 PM:

perlhaqr @744

Couldn't agree more about tokenisation.

One of the refreshing things about Richard Morgan's A Land Fit of Heroes series for example is that the sexuality of its protagonists (and persecution thereof) is central to the characters and their story. It was also interesting to see how the explicit sexuality in the books was regarded by many fantasy fans as "controversial" and "provocative"...

I suspect that if Ringil had been having it away with milkmaids rather than stableboys and dwenda lords the controversy would have been nil - even if such antics had been peripheral to the character or story (which they aren't in the case of the lesbian and gay swiving in Morgan's books).

The laughable notion, especially with Fantasy, is that idea that stories about women, or trans people, or PoC or whatever don't "belong" there. whatever "belong" may mean in a genre where Lord of the Rings is a very modern novel profoundly interlaced with the morality of the World Wars, as Tom Shippey can explain brilliantly for the hard of understanding.

Likewise the shadows of Belsen weigh heavily on Gormenghast. This is not an "escapist" literature (not to my mind anyway). To bring us to the present day, I may be no great fan of GRRM's writing, but A Song of Ice and Fire is decidedly adult themed if my experience of the TV series is anything to go by.

More off topic posting: I'm a bit scatty today

#757 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 01:50 PM:

James @756:
More off topic posting...

Thread drift is an established local custom. As long as you're respectfully engaging the other commenters and saying interesting things, there's very little that's gonna get called "off-topic".

#758 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 01:54 PM:

#748: Add Blish's Lithians in "A Case of Conscience".

And to give Tolkien credit, he did realize that he had written himself into a theological corner regarding orcs, and tried (without success) in his late notes to resolve it.

#759 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 01:57 PM:

755
One thing that being logged in does, at Disqus, is it's visibly different - your comments are linked to your identity. You can have an avatar, also, which identifies you as much as your name. (There's one persistent troll at Slacktivist who has one avatar and at least three nyms.)

#760 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 02:11 PM:

If I understand this right, it's OK to have the characters in my story be white males (or otherwise non-minority) by default, but if I want to make the protagonist, say, Filipino, I need to justify it by making his ethnicity an integral part of the story?

That seems like a very narrow view that leads to books which exclude large portions of the range of human experience. It also seems to me to reek of the tokenism it's supposed to be avoiding.

It seems to me it's best to go the other way: If you have a minority character, it's OK to use the character's minority status in the story, but the character better have a reason to be there other than because they are a Person of Color, or a Person of Ovaries, or a Person of QUILTBAG, etc.

I'm sure a novel with an "unjustified" Filipino protagonist could, if well written, be nominated or even win a Hugo, despite not making a big deal of his ancestry.

#761 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 02:14 PM:

perlhaqr, #744: Don't put a trans person in your story just to check the ticky box. Don't add a POC just to have one. Make it be part of the story.

You may not realize that to many people, that sounds a lot like "characters should be of the unmarked case unless there is some REASON for them to be otherwise". And that, all too often, the reason turns out to be "fulfilling a stereotype". The question we want to see being asked is not, "Is there some story-related reason for this character to be X?", but "Is there any reason that this character should not be X?" And if the answer is no, then think about including characters who are X -- not "to check the ticky box", but because people who are like those characters EXIST, and deserve to see characters like themselves in the stories they read.

That a character is female, or non-white, or non-binary-gender, should not be determined on the basis of "well, if I make this character X, then I can have Y story element that makes use of it." If the characters exist, story elements that relate to them will arise in the course of writing the story. Or at least they should, if the author is paying attention. The experience of a female character sent to buy supplies for the group is likely to be quite different from that of a male character.

WRT minor characters ("extras"), making note that some of them are female or non-white or non-binary-gender serves several purposes. First, it pushes back against the unconscious tendency to assume that characters are the unmarked case. Second, it adds a layer of reality to the scene description. Third, once again, it allows readers who are not the unmarked case to envision themselves as being part of the story.

You might find it informative to read the essays in the collection Invisible, edited by Jim C. Hines. If you don't want to buy the collection, you can find most of them for free as guest posts on his blog.

#762 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 02:23 PM:

Buddha Buck, #760: I saw what you did there. :-)

#763 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 02:30 PM:

Buddha Buck at 760: Like, oh, maybe Starship Troopers?

#764 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 02:44 PM:

Buddha Buck @ 760

Isn't that just a basic application of "elements in a story should have an in-story reason for being there" AKA "Chekhov's gun"? (Of which the great counter-example is Twain, The Story of the Old Ram.)

#765 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 02:49 PM:

The Correia fans, generally, seem to me to fit the broad characterization of people who like action plots without too much interest in depth of character or finesse of theme. This isn't exactly unusual in SFnal circles. The majority of them who dropped in on this post also seem by and large to map to American exceptionalist ideology in a fairly "standard" right-of-spectrum mode.

The VD fans, though, read to me like sedevacantists -- they have most of the marks, including the strongly-held belief that the world is rapidly declining towards its end and that only a small set of properly-dedicated True Believers (themselves) have the truth. Oh, and a fascination with the vaguely mediaeval and vague Latinism. In most cases what they see in OVA seems to be what they bring to it (a phenomenon which has, over the centuries, allowed many badly-written hymns to become very popular).

#766 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 02:50 PM:

SamChevre @764:
Isn't that just a basic application of "elements in a story should have an in-story reason for being there"

The basic question is, is any gender but male, any race but white, or any orientation but straight an "element in a story", while straghtness, whiteness and masculinity are somehow not?

Is having a female protagonist Chekhov's gun? What does that tell me, a female reader, about my value as a person, that I must either be a plot point or absent?

#767 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 02:59 PM:

SamChevre: #764

I think it depends on how you define "elements in a story", and how vague you need an in-story reason.

I mean, let's say I'm writing a story where a main character needs to have his/her computer repaired, and heads to the IT department to get it fixed. It makes sense, story-wise, for me to introduce Bob the IT Guy. If Bob the IT Guy is going to be a recurring character, even if a background character, it would make sense for me to describe his office/cubicle -- the cartoons he has tacked to his wall, the three different computers on/under his desk, the international collection of energy drink cans (all full) on the shelf, and the framed photo of his husband and daughter.

That he collects cans of energy drinks or that he's gay may never otherwise come up in the story, but it serves the purpose of making Bob the IT Guy more than just a cipher, and that seems to me to be a sufficient reason to include it.

Should Chekhov's Gun preclude it? Is Bob required to chug an energy drink in Act III because it was on the shelf in Act I?

#768 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 03:00 PM:

SamChevre: #764

I think it depends on how you define "elements in a story", and how vague you need an in-story reason.

I mean, let's say I'm writing a story where a main character needs to have his/her computer repaired, and heads to the IT department to get it fixed. It makes sense, story-wise, for me to introduce Bob the IT Guy. If Bob the IT Guy is going to be a recurring character, even if a background character, it would make sense for me to describe his office/cubicle -- the cartoons he has tacked to his wall, the three different computers on/under his desk, the international collection of energy drink cans (all full) on the shelf, and the framed photo of his husband and daughter.

That he collects cans of energy drinks or that he's gay may never otherwise come up in the story, but it serves the purpose of making Bob the IT Guy more than just a cipher, and that seems to me to be a sufficient reason to include it.

Should Chekhov's Gun preclude it? Is Bob required to chug an energy drink in Act III because it was on the shelf in Act I?

#769 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 03:06 PM:

abi @766 (and others): It's a problem. If I don't mention a character's gender, race, sexual preference, I run the risk of the reader simply filling in the blank with "SWM"--because that's the world for you, unfair and inaccurate though the attitude is. If I do mention such things, even in passing, am I including an unnecessary detail in a work that has no room for nor need of same? I think the response is to work to make all of the characters, minor and otherwise, as realistically, fully human as possible. If a minor character is a person, then any details about that minor character will not feel unnecessary or shoehorned in. And if the minor character, even casually mentioned, isn't a person . . . well, maybe the writing could be stronger?

Kind of avoids the larger issue, I suppose, but at least it give me (as a writer) an ideal to strive for.

#770 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 03:08 PM:

Buddha Buck #767 & 768:

What happened? Get caught in an "Internal Server Error"?

#771 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 03:12 PM:

Mary Frances @769: Argh! "gives me," not "gives"! Why do I always preview three times and then still miss a basic grammar error?

#772 ::: abi, who is also Idumea ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 03:18 PM:

Anoymous Conservative @ no number any more:

Nope. No more Daysie textwalls. If people want to read screeds about pink and blue SF, rabbits and wolves, and misinterpretations of genetic science, they already know where to go.

Engage in the conversation (in good faith and with respect, a thing which shouldn't need to be said, but sadly, does). Or clear off.

#773 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 03:19 PM:

taylor collingsworth @723: I take it you haven’t seen Poul Anderson’s The Merman’s Children.

#774 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 03:20 PM:

Aand . . . If I do work to make the characters and the world as fully human and realistic as I am able, I run the risk of someone dismissing them--and my writing--because they don't like the real world? (That's what I'm taking out of the post at #771. So it goes.)

#775 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 03:21 PM:

abi @ 766

The basic question is, is any gender but male, any race but white, or any orientation but straight an "element in a story", while straghtness, whiteness and masculinity are somehow not?

No; I'd say, though, that any focus on gender (whether male or not), race (whether white or not), or romantic/sexual interest, should have a reason for being there.

Now, how much attention counts as "focus" isn't a deterministic property; it's more more than "any mention" and less than a romance-novels level of description of its hero or heroine.

A good example of "getting it right" is Tamora Pierce; her protagonists are all female except Briar; their femaleness is both important to the stories and not the only interesting thing about them.

#776 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 03:21 PM:

Oops. Sorry, Abi. I mean, "the former post at #771," just for clarity. Should have waited to post.

#777 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 03:23 PM:

Mary Francis @774:

That screed has been unpublished. We've had enough hectoring walls of text already.

But yes, if you treat all people as genuinely human, there will always be jerks who will dismiss you for some trumped-up reason or other.

Some people juggle geese, you know?

#778 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 03:25 PM:

abi @766

But of course: if straight white men aren't fully developed elements of the story, then they tend to just be EE "Doc" Smith characters (with apologies to the great man, but Thomas Hardy he ain't). I think I basically feel that if you're the sort of person who sees anything other than SWM in your story as "shoehorning", then your SWM are likely to be pretty rubbish characters too.

Whereas if you're Kim Stanley Robinson, and you can just extrude characters of the quality of Nadia, Maya, Ann Clayborne in Red Mars, then when you put in an All American hero like John Boone he isn't just Flash Gordon.

#779 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 03:26 PM:

Avram @773--Thank you! I recalled that book, but was drawing a blank on the title, and hadn't had the chance to poke around trying to find it.

#780 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 03:28 PM:

Mary Frances @774

Of course, if your work is full of recognisable, intricate and varied types, it's far more likely to be of interest in 50 years time. Whereas those people filling their stories with hackneyed tropes will be of historical interest only.

#781 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 03:31 PM:

SamChevre @775:

I think we're all in theoretical agreement—but I've certainly seen readers who trip over even the mention of a character's gender or race. And if you don't mention it then, as Mary Francis @769 points out, everyone assumes the default.

This is related to the well-known problem that the threshold for people not s/w/m to be seen to be "taking over" or "in the majority" is much less than 50%. In point of fact, it seems to be about 17%. That's because those states are "marked" in our society. So if you have too many non s/w/m characters—even if it's not 50%—then many readers will assume you're being political when you're really just representing the reality of a species that is half female, majority brown, and significant-minority non-straight.

#782 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 03:33 PM:

perlhaqr @744:

I doubt you'll find anyone here argue in favor of tokenization. There are more levels of inclusion than that, though, and having "characters are straight white men unless there's a reason for them to be otherwise" seems to be where you are with "make it be part of the story". People in the real world aren't trans or gay or female because it drives a larger narrative; they just are.

This isn't to say that (for well-realized characters) gender, race, and so on won't inform the characterization, but that those aspects should follow the character, rather than the character differing from "white straight male" only when the plot demands it. And for minor walk-on characters, having a diverse mix[1] of people is not tokenism, it's reality.

[1] By the standards of the setting. In the tiny town where my grandmother lived when she was young, this would mean white Americans of German, Dutch, AND Scandinavian descent. There would still be women, though. And, in the language of the time and place, "confirmed bachelors". If your setting is "distant future", though, and all your characters are white, I'm going to assume the backstory includes genocidal horrors.

#783 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 03:35 PM:

Mary Frances @ 769

I think the response is to work to make all of the characters, minor and otherwise, as realistically, fully human as possible. If a minor character is a person, then any details about that minor character will not feel unnecessary or shoehorned in.

That's definitely a possible (and good) response. (And is the one that stories I like tend to take.) It works less well in true short stories than in serials or novels. (And the ultimate example is the Wheel of Time, with eleventy-dozen interesting characters and very slow forward progress.)

There are lots of good responses; however, I have read stories that remind me, unpleasantly, of some of the early coverage of Dr. Yellen as Fed chair, which spent a lot of time on her clothes. She has the job because she's a capable economist, not because she's a woman; could I hear about her economics, please, not her clothes?

#784 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 03:38 PM:

abi @ 781... if you have too many non s/w/m characters

...which reminds me of the young male gay Trek fan who was unhappy with "Star Trek: Voyager" having too many female characters. And that was before 7 of 9 became part of the crew.

#785 ::: lighthill ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 03:38 PM:

re abi @766, Buddha Buck @766: For SF world-building purposes, what constitutes "an element in a story" and what constitutes a "neutral background detail" is itself a part of the world-building. For example, it says something about guns and walls in Checkhov's world that he felt you couldn't show a gun on the wall without the gun being fired, but he never said you couldn't have a wall without someone needing to get to the other side of it.

The details that are allowed not to matter are the base assumptions of what "normal" is in your world. Ged is brown, and this doesn't matter for him most of the time in his part of Earthsea, and that's a part of what defines Earthsea. Vlad Taltos is human, and that's an important plot point, and the fact that being human is an important plot point is a big part of what defines Dragaera.

#786 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 03:40 PM:

Anonymous Conservative #771:

I'm finding a large number of undefined terms in your posting: "Blue SF", "Pink SF", "K-selected", "r-selected", etc.

Wikipedia discusses "r/K-selection" as an ecological paradigm which went out of favor in the 1990's as it was replaced by a more complete view of ecological dynamics. If this is what your K-selected/r-selected terms are referring to, then I suspect you are engaging in the same sort of belief system that discredited the concept of "Social Darwinism" -- taking ideas created to discuss species dynamics as a whole and applying them to social groups within human populations, generally to say that one group (usually the group making the comparison) is superior to another.

Even within the ecological r/K-selection paradigm, it doesn't say that K-selection is a dominant strategy. It's ecological-niche dependent, so K-selection is dominant in some niches, while r-selection is dominant in others. If I am understanding the theory correctly, humans are a K-selection species. But mapping to the social construct, there's no reason to believe K-selection is dominant over r-selection, so the belief that future societies will be K-selected is not warranted.

But more importantly, is your world-view so binary? Is your world-view static? Is everyone a "rabbit" or a "wolf"? Is all SF either "Pink" or "Blue"? (I assume that, since SF is a product of the early 20th century, you are using the standard gender-color mappings: blue, the color of the Virgin Mary, is for girls, while pink is a much stronger color for boys, right?) Is everyone either K-selected or r-selected? Are these labels fixed, or can someone shift from being a writer of Blue SF to Pink SF? Can a writer publish works under two pen names: Azure Blueman and Magenta Pinkerton? Is there room for Purple SF (or Orange SF)? Are there no shades of grey in your world-view?

#787 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 03:43 PM:

Sorry abi; I didn't see that the former #771 was gone before I replied.

#788 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 03:44 PM:

Buddha Buck @786:

Anonymous Conservative's post has been unpublished for being a blooming waste of everyone's time and attention.

But I think your questions can still give people a feel for it without wading through nearly so much verbage.

#789 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 03:57 PM:

James Harvey, may I just say that I find your addition to these conversations extremely positive? I hope you will continue to engage here.

#790 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 04:03 PM:

James, #765: I learned a new word. Thank you. Although I have to say that my first reaction to finding out what it meant was the basic disbelieving eyebrow -- I thought that sort of thing had ended back around the 15th century.

abi, #766: That seems a lot like the explanation offered by the makers of the movie "Noah" for having an all-white cast -- that white characters are "stand-ins for all people" in a way that characters of color aren't, which is a pretty damn racist thing to say.

Also, trying to invoke Chekhov's Gun about this is the equivalent of reducing people to objects.

#791 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 04:04 PM:

Janet1@644, pardon my late inquiry; where can one read the Velveteen books online? I'm a great fan of Seanan McGuire...

#793 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 04:15 PM:

perlhaqr @744: Larry's point has never been "don't include minority humans in your stories". Ironically, his actual position is something I'd really expect to get a lot more traction from this side of the crowd (other than that it probably never occurred to Larry to try and phrase things to speak to y'all) in that it could well be rephrased as "don't tokenize your minority humans".

I'm a little worried about how good a job Larry does depicting people who aren't like him if you think it hasn't occurred to him that he could reach out to those people if he spoke to them, but I'm going to set that aside for the time being.

Don't put a trans person in your story just to check the ticky box. Don't add a POC just to have one. Make it be part of the story.

I like this sentiment as long as it is followed up with, "And make sure you put these people in, because they exist and deserve to have their stories told as well."

I'm a bit confused, though, because I thought (from reading the blog post where he proposed his slate) that what Mr. Correia was objecting to was "message fiction," which to me is the polar opposite of work which contains characters who are incidentally non-het-cis-white-dudes. (Which may be us reading your words in the context of old arguments.)

I think some of this may be us arguing about a dichotomy when in fact the taxonomy breaks down further. I see us conflating two or maybe three separate questions: do non-cis-het-white-dude characters appear at all, does their non-cis-het-white-dude nature affect the plot, and (maybe in addition) are the characters defined by more than their particular non-cis-het-white-dude nature.

I always want non-cis-het-white-dudes characters to be defined by more than that component of their nature. For me personally, both stories in which characters who aren't cis-het-white-dudes appear incidentally without affecting plot and stories in which characters who aren't cis-het-white-dudes affect plot are necessary. One says "these people are part of the world," and the other says "they can be the protagonists of their own stories." Neither is sufficient alone. (Not that all stories need to contain such, but that I want more, dammit.)

I'm not sure what of that Larry is objecting to when he objects to "message fiction."

#794 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 04:21 PM:

Cassy B @791:

Ask and ye shall receive! And if ye seek, surely shall ye find the lists of the stories, each linking to each, both in order of writing and in order of events.

I agree that they're some of her better work, starting simple and appearing rather surface-y and shallow, but not staying there.

#795 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 04:22 PM:

I've never liked Chekhov's gun. What if it's in need of repair? It would be dangerous to fire it if it was defective.

#796 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 04:27 PM:

What if Chekhov has a pun in his mantle?

#797 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 04:27 PM:

Soon Lee beat me to it. I have no regrets about the duplication, though, for is it not better to have more people telling you where to find something good to read, that to be left twisting in the wind?

#798 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 04:50 PM:

Lee @741 - At the very least I would have to say that those topics are ones that Heinlein was interested in and spent a lot of time thinking about.

Buddha Buck @786 - Azure Blueman writes the popular Shootbro McGunn Vs Everyone series. Magenta Pinkerton is the author of the Magic Girls Love Shapeshifters sequence. Together they fight crime!

#799 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 04:54 PM:

albatross #748: The thing is, both Tolkien's orcs and Jordan's Trollocs/myrddraal have something else in common: they're each bespoke creations of their respective Big Bad. This is at least a plausible reason to deny them souls.

Jon Meltzer #758: Note that Blish's Lithians were courteous enough to agree with the human visitors that no, they did not have souls. (And then cebivqr gurve bja ncbpnylcfr.) As noted above, various human groups have been all too willing to claim that other humans don't, regardless of the others' opinion.

#800 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 05:01 PM:

fidelio #797:

Yes. Because that is how we roll?

#801 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 05:05 PM:

Chekov's gun has made it to Wikipedia, which makes the point, using the man's own words:

Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be hanging there.

that it's about narrative expectation, as opposed to character construction.

Chekov specialized in plays and short stories, both of which demand a certain compactness not entirely essential in a novel. I think in a novel, it's not a question of whether the thing comes up at all, but how strongly it's foregrounded in the story. To use the example of Bob the IT guy, the details about his office space and family are there to keep him from being a playing-card character, as thin as the pasteboard the Knave of Hearts is painted on. The more emphasis these details get, the more important they need to be to the story being told. Giving them too much emphasis when they aren't a part of the plot might make them a distrction (which, depending on the story you're telling, might be important--Red Herring, anyone?)

Getting back to our gun, if the setting of a scene is an armory or a hunting lodge, the presence of firearms might be a neutral detail, a part of the expected scenery. In the handbag of the femme fatale or the innocent female love interest in a detective story, (noir, hard-boiled or otherwise) the little .22 pistol might be an important part of the plot the protagonist needs to sort out.

Bob the IT guy's gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity and other backstory might become important to the plot--but they are important to Bob no matter what, and a character that's not a playing card is going to have backstory. These details for the femme fatale or innocent love interest might well be a vital part of the plot in the detective story. I've seen more than one writer say they know more about a character or a location than ever makes it onto the page, because they have to know these things to write the story well.

This leads me to believe not all guns belong to Anton Chekov. Sometimes a gun is just a gun.

#802 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 05:17 PM:

Soon Lee @800: I managed not to click play.

I will not say that this makes you a bad, bad person who should be Tuckerized as a white-cat-stroking villain. I like cats. /tongue => cheek

#803 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 05:27 PM:

Xopher Halftongue @789

Why thank you. I may fade in and out due to the nature of my job, but this seems like a nice place with intelligent people in it. This is a rare thing indeed, so I do hope I can hang around. I've been missing an interesting community since most of the fun folk gave up on CIX.

#804 ::: Yarrow ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 05:48 PM:

So if the gun shouldn't be on the mantlepiece unless it's eventually fired, does that mean the door shouldn't dilate unless it's vital to the plot?

#805 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 05:50 PM:

What I've generally done, in the years since the Hugo Voter Packet became available, is to start by reading the short fiction categories -- and the Fan Writer category, because that usually involves sets of short essays -- and work my way up to the book-length categories like Novel and Graphic Story and Related Book (and the Campbell award, which usually involve novels). So if I run out of time to read everything in all categories (and with the Wheel of Time in the packet, I'm certainly going to this year), I'll have read everything in at least some categories. Or at least started reading all of them. It's been several years since I bounced off a Hugo nominee, and in that case (_Palimpsest_) it wasn't because I thought it a bad book, but because I found it too intense to read all at once, and I keep meaning to go back and read the whole thing.

I read _Monster Hunter International_ when Larry Correia was nominated for the Campbell Award, and I thought it was a fun, fast-moving adventure story, but not nearly as good as the works in the packet by the other Campbell nominees. (I ranked Lauren Beukes first that year, and Larry Correia below No Award.) It was good enough to finish reading, but not good enough to make me seek out other books by the author (unlike _Moxyland_ which led me to reading _Zoo City_, and Saladin Ahmed's short stories which led to me reading his novel when it came out.)

As far as I can tell from the limited amount I've read, Correia himself is not guilty of anything worse than crass self-promotion -- but then I've only read two or three of his blog posts, mainly the one with the "Sad Puppy" nomination list. That post by itself reads as not much different from many other posts by people who are listing the things they liked and plan to nominate; could it be that the way it turned into this huge instance of block voting was the way Vox Day picked up on it and promoted it? And do we have any evidence that Correia and/or Day are encouraging their fans to come over here and troll, or could it be they're all doing it on their own initiative?

Given my reaction to _Monster Hunter International_ I doubt I will enjoy _Warbound_ so much as to rank it very high, but I don't plan to skip it just because of Correia's crass self-promotion. (Though if it makes no sense without reading the first two in the series, that would be a better reason to skip it, as I did when some middle volume of _A Song of Ice and Fire_ was nominated.) Vox Day's misbehavior is of another order altogether (at least I've not heard of Correia doing anything nearly as bad), and I'll probably skip "Opera Vita Aeterna." I'd think it unfair to tar Toni Weisskopf, Dan Wells or other people whose works were promoted by Correia and Day with the same brush.

I'm concerned by the way the 5% rule has affected the short story category, but I don't have a good solution. Maybe a look at the last couple of years' post-mortem statistics would suggest whether amending it to 3% or 4% would result in huge multi-way ties for fifth place?

#806 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 06:09 PM:

Dave Harmon @799

I think I am correct in saying also that Tolkien agonised hard over the nature of the Orcs. Were they deformed elves ruined by Morgoth? Or automata which went mad without the overarching will of Sauron or Morgoth to control them? I think there is some reference to this in his writings (probably the Book of Unwritten Tales, Vol XVIII, p285.)

Ultimately the greatest antagonists in his work are purely internal: fear, greed, despair, cowardice, confusion, malice, exhaustion, machination, wilful stupidity and small mindedness. To some extent the externals are just aspects of these. Perhaps Saruman, by dint of his incarnation, has a personality. But the Maiar are profoundly Other.

#807 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 06:26 PM:

On the issue of whether various character traits need to be justified in terms of plot, we talked about this four years ago in connection with Patrick's post on Julian Comstock (an amazingly good novel that I should re-read Real Soon Now).

One trick I've used to force myself to think about my characters' demographic traits and not unthinkingly make all the minor characters white is to look at the Wikipedia entry on the city or county where the story takes place, or on which its fictional setting is loosely based, and see what it says about the census figures for various races (etc.), and keep that in mind as I'm coming up with names (and more rarely physical descriptions) of minor characters. Though it's easier to code characters as Hispanic or Asian just by their names than to code them as black or white.

#808 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 06:32 PM:

James Harvey @ #803: it's worth occasionally having to sift through some trolls if we end up with a new (courteous, thoughtful) reader and commenter.

#809 ::: perlhaqr ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 06:43 PM:

Xopher @747: "One thing, though: you do realize that white people are a minority of the world's population, right?"

Yes, of course, which is why I stated my definition as I did.

Buddha Duck @760: "If I understand this right, it's OK to have the characters in my story be white males (or otherwise non-minority) by default, but if I want to make the protagonist, say, Filipino, I need to justify it by making his ethnicity an integral part of the story?"

Lee @761: "You may not realize that to many people, that sounds a lot like "characters should be of the unmarked case unless there is some REASON for them to be otherwise"."

These two comments seem like they are answerable simultaneously, so, I am. I'm also going to state up front that I'm really not an author (as implied by the handle, I'm a computer jock for my day job) so, I might simply be wrong, here.

But, essentially, my response to that is Buddha Duck: Not quite where I was going with that, and Lee: Well, yes?" Or rather that unless there's a story reason to mention it at all, mentioning ethnic background or sexual / gender identity or favorite color or anything seems extraneous and limiting in terms of who can identify with the character. Although, maybe that's wrong too, because Katniss was a grey eyed, mildly dark complected 16 year old girl, and I had no trouble identifying with her in the books. *shrug*

I really think we're more on the same page than not, though. Your comment about "should not be determined on the basis of "well, if I make this character X, then I can have Y story element that makes use of it." " is the point I'm trying to get across.

If you're telling a story about a giant Portuguese bruiser who kills vampires, werewolves, and zombies for a living, then it makes sense to detail that background because that's your character in the story you're telling. (Which is Monster Hunter International. ;) ) If your character is a bisexual special forces soldier from a future foreign planet military of primarily Indonesian extraction, you're telling The Weapon by Mike Williamson, but that's just who the character is.

But the critical part seems to me to be making sure you're telling an interesting story, not trying to make sure you're checking enough ticky boxes. If your story occurs in Zimbabwe, most of your characters will be black. If your story takes place in Albuquerque, most of your characters will be anglo or latino.

I dunno. I feel like I'm not managing to say what I'm trying to say. Believe it or not, I'm actually trying to promote harmony. It's certainly not for a lack of exposure to diversity in my life that I'm trying to make my point (whatever point that actually is...) I have black friends (although not many) and lots of latino and anglo friends. (Ok, spoiler back there, I live in Albuquerque. We have lots of latinos and anglos, and maybe 500 black folks in the entire state, which I imagine must be very lonely at times, having lived in Hawaii, myself.) I have cis friends and trans friends of both andro- and gynephilic interest, of all the possible relevant gender and sexuality combinations. And I'd hate to see any of my friends put in a story just to make a point, y'know?

I dunno. Computer jock, not author. Maybe I'm just really sucking at getting my idea across.

#810 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 06:51 PM:

prelhaqr @809: that should be Buddha Buck, not Buddha Duck. Taken as a unintentional error, with my intent being kindly correction. I'm not an author either (of fiction), so I won't comment on auctorial predilections.

#811 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 06:58 PM:

Jim Henry @805: As far as I can tell from the limited amount I've read, Correia himself is not guilty of anything worse than crass self-promotion -- but then I've only read two or three of his blog posts, mainly the one with the "Sad Puppy" nomination list. That post by itself reads as not much different from many other posts by people who are listing the things they liked and plan to nominate; could it be that the way it turned into this huge instance of block voting was the way Vox Day picked up on it and promoted it?

I agree about the original post, although it set my teeth on edge. The subsequent Sad Puppy posts (which I read while trying to track down the original) elaborate at length on the theme.

I was struck upon reading the two posts (Correia's and Day's) that none of Day's nominees had made the shortlist while some number of Correia's had. I infer from this that the truth is rather the reverse of what you suggest, and that Day owes his place on the ballot more to Correia's promotion and his own work's inherent charms than to his own posts.

Shorter me: Larry Correia trolled the Hugos, and so far it's worked.

I suspect that this is a trick which will only work once.

#812 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 07:10 PM:

Soon Lee @792, thank you for both links.

#813 ::: Eric K ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 07:13 PM:

Dave Harmon @ #799: Tolkien's orcs appear to be innately evil, and they never seem to repent. Which is not only theologically suspect by his standards, but it's also rather poor writing: Tolkien doesn't take his own world seriously here. You know a writer is cheating when they make such radical assumptions in the name of plot, and refuse to work through the consequences.

A much more interesting case would be the Shimans in Vernor Vinge's "Original Sin". They're vicious, they're smarter than we are, and they practice murder and cannibalism from birth. But they actually do have free will, and they can choose to be act differently, with varying degrees of success:

Sirbat replied, "Being good is no trouble at all for you. You're… born that way. We have to work so… hard at it… like Gorst. And in the end… I'm still as bad… as hungry as I ever was. So hungry."

#814 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 07:18 PM:

I think we should only allow pink and blue encodings for styles of fiction if Pox Day & Co. agree to adopt pink as their color. I'm sure they'll claim the color isn't meant to be offensive when they assign it to us, so they can have no objection to adopting it themselves.

Personally, the whole pink-and-blue thing sounds to me like a proposal for flannel books for infant evolutionary psychologists.

#815 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 07:20 PM:

fidelio @794 & 797, indeed, yes; I'm so much rather be told multiple times than never told at all. (And the fact that multiple people answer so rapidly confirms that the work is worth my attention, for that matter....)

And it has the additional benefit that some third party who misses one message might still catch the other; always a fine thing.

Thank you!

#816 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 07:27 PM:

One of the issues with a language as strongly gendered as English is that it is almost as difficult to write a story with characters without mentioning gender as it is to write a story with characters without the letter "e". It is certainly a wonderful job of writing when that is done *without that fact itself being a huge point*. I've maybe seen it twice.

One of the issues with moving pictures as a medium is that it is equally almost as difficult.

How many times have we seen "in this document, the masculine shall be deemed to refer also to the feminine, and the singular the plural"? Maybe even "and vice versa"? But the pronoun used had still better be "he", or you'll Get Looks.

I try to be egalitarian in my bridge writing, by simple use of a fixed referent: unless known otherwise and we're talking about a real hand, Opener and Advancer are male, Responder and Overcaller are female. I've never been called on it, but I have been called on deliberately passing the score ticket to the woman in a mixed pair for review. So I hope I'm being unclunky enough.

If nothing at all is mentioned, I think we could handle "unmarked" = "whatever colour the reader is"; but it's almost as difficult a task to do that as any of the other cases here. Whether it be hair issues or name issues or the fact that there *will be* a picture on the cover, there are just too many things tied to race in current world that it will be obvious even if not mentioned. I have to admit I'm unread enough to not know how it would hit me if I suddenly realized from context that the person who's story I'm reading was actually POC, the way POC get used to "unmarked" = "white" by about book 3.

I strongly agree against "token minorities" - don't just put one of the squad in as a [blank] and ignore her afterward. Put one of the squad in as a [blank] and give her the same focus any other random squaddie not the "main crew" get. Or maybe how about a couple of [blanks], a [other blank] or two, and a [blank]? Don't bother explaining it, just do it. Possibly, by writing the characters first, then assigning names/characteristics afterward. So it ends up that the big burly Heavy Weapons specialist with a wife back home is female? And the point is?

Different topic: according to Bernie the Burglar's friend, the counterpart to the "confirmed batchelor" is the "maiden aunt". That wouldn't surprise me, either.

#817 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 07:46 PM:

I may have mentioned this before on Making Light, but when Jo Walton's Farthing first came out, a few people snarked about the story's inclusion of characters who were gay or bisexual for reasons unrelated to the needs of the plot. Jo's reaction was to observe that, in real life, she was acquainted with quite a few people who are gay or bisexual for reasons entirely unrelated to the needs of the plot.

#818 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 07:48 PM:

More trivially, and yet...I think it was Steven Brust who observed that, if a gun is on the mantelpiece in the first act, the third act cannot conclude before someone is beaten to death with the mantelpiece.

#819 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 07:54 PM:

Mycroft: What? English isn't strongly gendered. We have one gendered noun/adjective. Beyond that it's just the pronouns, and they have a lot of wiggle room.

The unmarked state is emphatically not equivalent to "whatever color the reader is." It's a social construct, not an individual & subjective state of mind.

I'm getting irritated with the whole "token minorities" thing (not your fault), and the idea that writers are somehow feeling obliged to insert them in their books. What the writers are actually doing is abandoning the highly artificial convention whereby they'd previously pretended that everyone in the world is white, male, straight, Western European, and committed to stereotypical gender roles at home and at work, unless it's necessary that a character be something else for purposes of plot or decor.

II'm thinking about going through the thread this evening and disemvowelling every passage that talks about writers feeling obliged to insert minorities in their books. Minorities don't only exist when real people need them. They're the real people too.

#820 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 07:56 PM:

perlhaqr, #809: No, we are not on the same page here at all. And this is where I bow out, at least for the time being; hearing "inclusion of characters not of the unmarked case" described again as "checking ticky boxes" (!) has put me into a headspace where anything else I could say would be likely to get my vowels pulled. So I'm going to go do something else for a while.

#821 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 08:11 PM:

James Harvey #806 Eric K #813: ISTR in LoTR there's actual dialogue stating that orcs were created by Sauron in "imitation" of the elves (and goblins for the Men, and trolls for the Ents). Of course, such explication is not necessarily the final word for the universe, given that a more-or-less-higher power was explaining Deep Background for the benefit of hobbits and readers.

#822 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 08:17 PM:

I found the Chekov's gun approach very useful to the characters in my fiction when I started using it as a corrective. Every time I added a new character to the story, I would pause and ask myself: does this character need to be male? or straight? or white? In what way would choosing one of those elements be relevant to the plot or for the portrayal of this setting?

And if I can't come up with a good answer, that element doesn't get used.

The funny thing is that I end up with an almost 50/50 gender split. But even I end up thinking that my story has an outrageously unbalanced number of female characters, until I count them. The media's long told me that having as many female characters as male characters means there are way too many girls in this room, and I cannot escape internalizing that somewhat. Despite being female myself.

#823 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 08:19 PM:

My apologies Teresa, I was using jargon incorrectly. I'm yet another computer programmer; it's my mother that's the english major. I should know better.

I don't back down from my statement that writing a story in English with characters, especially about currentish humans, without use of the gendered pronouns or gendered names, is difficult enough that pulling it off is a notable event; and doing it in a way that it is not notable while reading is a tour de force.

I agree with you on the unmarked state - again, by the statement there that it will be almost impossible to write a story with an unmarked protagonist that truly is unmarked, without having it end up being "the unmarked state" by some piece of text - or, more jarring to everybody but mostly the "unmarked state"-type readers (yes, like me), having it end up being marked by some piece of text as not "the unmarked state".

I must admit with the last bit I was trying to paraphrase the "here's a way to get proper gender representation in movies: 1) cast about half of the speaking roles with women. 2) cast about half of the extras with women." thing I saw a few weeks ago. Obviously I failed. I do agree they need to be, just to be; and if there's tokenism anywhere, then they aren't being, so that fails. I'd be happy to get to "they are, just because they are"; I think we are still not at the point as a society (some writers are there, I am sure) where that doesn't require thought and planning, and "they are" just happens. It certainly doesn't just happen with me, which is why I have the rules in my head, inflexible though they be.

#824 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 08:21 PM:

The "must be there for plot reasons" criteria almost sounds reasonable when first encountered. Right up until you think about it.
People are people and exist in all their myriad differences in all sorts of situations. None of them are plot reasons.

#825 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 08:23 PM:

perlhaqr @809: If your character is a bisexual special forces soldier from a future foreign planet military of primarily Indonesian extraction, you're telling The Weapon by Mike Williamson, but that's just who the character is.

Ooh, this is interesting. How does that affect the plot?

(I've bought a copy for my Kindle, but I'm trying to decide where it goes in the queue.)

#826 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 08:40 PM:

This is--I don't know if it's interesting or not. A discussion that I'm finding of value, at least. I've been realizing lately that when I write third person, my default character is male. When I write first person, my default character is female. This-world fantasy? Race is whatever the character happens to be. Other- or secondary-world fantasy? Everyone is white unless I make a conscious effort to visualize them differently. More complex gender issues . . . working on it.

I think the underlying message is that I've got a lot of work to do, all around. Once upon a time, when I was young and stupid and had just started teaching, I used to teach the generic masculine: "he" contained both male and female, and no, that wasn't sexist, why would you say that? Then one day I discovered that I was automatically gendering occupations: "he" for a hypothetical doctor or a lawyer, "she" for a teacher or a nurse, and so on. This despite the fact that I knew more than one male teacher and female doctor, for example. It pulled me up short, made me realize just how wrong I was about the generic masculine pronoun, and that I had to think about it--every time I chose a pronoun (especially in front of my classes). I suspect that that's what we're talking about here, as writers and readers. Maybe? In any case, thank you, everyone, for a valuable conversation.

#827 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 08:57 PM:

Teresa Nielsen Hayden #819: Well, there's a few more bits of gendering scattered around English: The -ess suffix, a few occupations, and the M* salutations, and I suspect there's more I'm not thinking of. This stuff gets embeddded in the details!

#828 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 09:03 PM:

More and more female actors are preferring to be called actors, not actresses. 'Poetess' is already archaic. I think the '-ess' words are passing out of the language, with the exception of 'goddess'. And I know at least one person who uses the title Mx.

#829 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 09:19 PM:

PNH @818, there’s been a revolver with 17 chambers sitting on the mantlepiece of the Vlad Taltos series ever since the start of Jhereg. I can’t wait to see who gets hit with it.

#830 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 09:21 PM:

Re-reading, I have a clarification. The "Chekhov's gun" rule is a well-established and respectable rule for fiction writing; it isn't one I prefer as a reader. (I read Les Miserables unabridged; it has an entire chapter on the history of the ABC Society, which one character was involved in once.) It's the literary version of Chicago-school modernism in architecture.

#831 ::: Stephen Rochelle ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 09:42 PM:

Kevin Riggle @825: "Ooh, this is interesting. How does that affect the plot?"
Ticking through the various bits, and going from memory with a couple years since reading:

If your character is a...
bisexual: More relevant to the story is that his society is sexually liberated, free from STDs, and so wide-ranging and relatively-casual sexual relationships are common. I got the "yay sex!" vibe much more strongly than the "yay sex with all the sets of bits!" vibe.

special forces soldier: Well, the book is titled The Weapon. This drives the plot.

from a future foreign planet military: So, not a mercenary. The professional military aspects are emphasized.

of primarily Indonesian extraction: Not directly relevant to the plot, so far as I can recall. As noted upthread, not dissimilar to Starship Troopers.

you're telling The Weapon by Mike Williamson, but that's just who the character is: Notably missing from this listing, though, is the utter dismissal of the worth or merit of virtually any other culture except the protagonist's own. That's also who the character is (along with most every other character from said culture).

I enjoyed MZW's first novel, Freehold. It suffers from a lack of focus in terms of storytelling -- it's closer to several novellas edited together than to a single novel, IMO -- but I found the storytelling engaging. I found that The Weapon re-covered the same ground from a message standpoint but didn't have the same whatever-it-is for engagement. I think the difference is that Freehold's protagonist is an outsider, and the contrast of protagonist vs message is thought-provoking where The Weapon's protagonist providing the message is not.

#832 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 09:45 PM:

"I'd like to point out that historically, within Christianity, there [have] been serious debates as to whether both women and Africans *have* souls."

I'm curious what you're thinking of here. If you look, you can find some 19th century tracts arguing that black Africans or aboriginals weren't really human, but the ones I've seen tend to be of the armchair-anthropologist variety rather than the religious-exegesis variety. (Which is not to say there absolutely aren't any at all of the latter-- not unlike on the modern day Internet, you can find some 19th century pamphlet arguing just about any claim if you look hard enough-- but I haven't found a case where the claim was taken up by a significant religious body as opposed to a lone author or his personal sect. Most pro-slavery apologetics I've glanced at don't seem to take this particular line of argument.)

Africa was of course one of the earliest homes of Christianity as it spread from Palestine around the Mediterranean. The see of Alexandria is traditionally traced back to St. Mark the Evangelist.

There is a legend you can still find kicking around the Net (and in some books) claiming that an early church council, usually identified as the Council of Macon, either declared that women didn't have souls or decided that they did by a single vote. This legend seems to have arisen in the 17th century, though, without any solid historical basis, from what I've been able to tell. In the early Christian church, Christian women have been honored and invoked as saints and martyrs (and therefore assumed to be souls in heaven) pretty much from the get-go.

#833 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 09:59 PM:

Mycroft W @823, I recall reading, some years ago, a mystery novel by Sarah Caudwell featuring a detective named Hilary. Hilary's sex is never, ever identified -- but one doesn't notice. (When I read it, I assumed Hilary was female because it's more predominantly a female name in my circle, but I understand it's one of those names like Chris or Kim or Pat or Leslie that can be male or female.)

#834 ::: Yarrow ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 10:22 PM:

I remember how exciting it was, the first time I read a book where the protagonist wasn't straight and that fact was not particularly important to the plot. I think it was Eleanor Arnason's To the Resurrection Station, in 1986, about which I otherwise remember very little.

That freedom, to have characters "not of the unmarked case" who are written that way not for the plot, but just because -- it's important. These days, apparently, it happens often enough to annoy certain people. But thirty years ago it was astonishing.

#835 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2014, 10:40 PM:

One couldn't write the Sarah Caudwell books in, say, Italian, because that's a much more highly gendered language. The mere act of calling the protagonist "Professor" would tell the reader what sex the professor was.

I've read that she got halfway through the first book before realizing that she hadn't used any gendered pronouns, and from then on continued doing so (or not doing so) deliberately.

#836 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 12:26 AM:

SamChevre @ 750: I started to look it up right after you asked, then not-online life happened, so it looks like John Mark Ackerbloom @ 832 beat me to it.

I'd heard the Council of Macon story several ties, taken as fact. It seems this is not so; it's a claim as it turns out that looks like it was started by the sixteenth (Not sixth) century equivalent of a troll, a guy who wanted to publish a controversial pamphlet so as to make money. This looks like a reasonably objective description of how the myth came to be and be repeated.

(And Landover Baptist has an article that *almost* tripped Poe's Law on the subject - It was just a touch to obviously Onionesque - so clearly it continues to get murmured about enough to get parodied and mocked.)

(I will say my POV was that, for some people looking at their wives, daughters, etc, it's always been self evident that women do.)

Thing is, it's the sort of thing that I've heard come up when a piece of fiction discusses souls, so myth or not, it had a resonance.

#837 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 12:29 AM:

SamChevre @ 750: I started to look it up right after you asked, then not-online life happened, so it looks like John Mark Ackerbloom @ 832 beat me to it.

I'd heard the Council of Macon story several ties, taken as fact. It seems this is not so; it's a claim as it turns out that looks like it was started by the sixteenth (Not sixth) century equivalent of a troll, a guy who wanted to publish a controversial pamphlet so as to make money. This looks like a reasonably objective description of how the myth came to be and be repeated.

(And Landover Baptist has an article that *almost* tripped Poe's Law on the subject - It was just a touch to obviously Onionesque - so clearly it continues to get murmured about enough to get parodied and mocked.)

(I will say my POV was that, for some people looking at their wives, daughters, etc, it's always been self evident that women do.)

Thing is, it's the sort of thing that I've heard come up when a piece of fiction discusses souls, so myth or not, it had a resonance.

#838 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 12:30 AM:

Grrr. internal Server Error.

#839 ::: Dave Weingart ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 04:10 AM:

Dave @ 827: Depends on how often they get used as to whether or not they're obsolete. Actress is still hanging on, but waiter/waitress has pretty much been replaced by server in any of the places I go. Goddess, as Xopher points out, is still common.

Fiancé and fiancée are gendered but they're French words.

Are there other examples in current English usage?


#840 ::: James E ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 06:20 AM:

Dave Weingart @839: Did Am.E. ever use "headmaster"/"mistress" instead of "principal"? I'm sure I've heard those in casual use in England recently, although the profession switched to "head"/"headteacher" a long time back.

Meanwhile women's cricket and football, which have been raising their profile over the last decade or so, use "batter" and "player of the match". Be interesting to see if the neutral usage crosses over to the men's games.

#841 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 06:44 AM:

Over here in the colonies, "batter" is being used in men's cricket to an increasing degree, and I look to it replacing "batsman" in a generation or so. "Wicketkeeper", after all, was always the traditional term, and it was "glovesman" that was the informal argot. I can't say I've seen a usage of "glover" in that sense - only as meaning a maker of gloves.

#842 ::: David Langford ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 07:19 AM:

Reverting to the title of Patrick's original post here, File 770 has this:

USA Today Weighs In On Hugos

The one comment so far makes a bellicose claim about Tor that probably needs to be challenged – I don't know what's actually being referred to, though.

#843 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 07:29 AM:

Dave Harmon@821

I think Treebeard mentions both Orcs being imitations of Elves and Trolls being imitations of Ents.

"Goblin" seems to be used as another term for "Orc" in the LoTRverse.

#844 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 07:46 AM:

Dave Langford, #842 -- I have no idea what that File 770 commenter is referring to, either, and the rest of the comment is sufficiently loopy that I don't think I'll engage with it. I did enjoy Mike Glyer's economical remark: "Clearly, [Glenn] Reynolds is not saying his politics don’t belong in science fiction."

#845 ::: Jim Henry ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 07:56 AM:

Mycroft W @816:

If nothing at all is mentioned, I think we could handle "unmarked" = "whatever colour the reader is"; but it's almost as difficult a task to do that as any of the other cases here.

It seems to me to make more sense to assume that "unmarked" = "of some race that that viewpoint character or implied-author considers unremarkable", which may or may not be the same race as the viewpoint character, depending on the setting. To use perlhaqr's Albuquerque example (and without double-checking their demographic data), suppose a story set in Albuquerque with a Latino first-person narrator; they'd be likely to mention the race of a black (or Asian?) character explicitly, but might not bother to do so for a white or Latino (or American Indian?) character. Or to use a fantasy example, Vlad and Paarfi have very different strategies for deciding when and whether it's relevant to mention whether someone is a Dragaeran or Easterner, and of what House they are or appear to be.

On Chekhov's Gun: I agree with some other posters (I don't recall if it was in this thread or the Julian Comstock thread from 2010, which I've been re-reading part of) that it's a rule more valid for short stories than for novels. A short story needs to be concise, with every word pulling more than its weight, every detail contributing if possible to two or more of plot, characterization, setting, and theme; a novel has room to sprawl a bit, with some bits only contributing to one of those features.

#846 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 08:31 AM:

David Langford @842

My bemusement at the positions on this continues. Coming from a political culture where being a "Liberal" is regarded as crypto right wing, and being a "Libertarian" as synonymous with "batshit-crazy", the political postures of much of the (USA focused) sci-fi community on this seem a bit... ...alien?

What on earth do fans in the US make of avowedly socialist writers like China Mielville or Iain M Banks? Let alone someone like Ken McCleod who (I think rather tediously) seemed to bang on about the Fourth International for most of his first four books as I remember them.

#847 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 08:37 AM:

About 'default' settings for racial depictions... Remember the movie "Bicentennial Man"? Sure, it probably was like that in Asimov's original, but Chris Columbus might have considered that, in the late 21st Century, it is unlikely that the only non-white person in the Bay Area would be a singer brought in as entertainment for a big affair at San Francisco's City Hall.

#848 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 08:51 AM:

The USA Today piece really makes me wonder how much of the current kerfuffle is really some sort of odd marketing maneuver on the part of some of the originators of those missives. Many of the Sockpuppets are clearly far into the shouting at the wind stage and some are just doing it to be hurtful.
USA Today is not exactly the forum one would typically air fannish grievances in and the timing with other announcements from yesterday seems convenient.
So, any ideas on how much this began from misguided resentment and how much from some sort of cynical attempt at manipulation?

#849 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 09:42 AM:

I keep thinking that the issue we run into here relates to the difference between art and propaganda. There is a continuum between those two, but if you wanted to draw a line, I think the place to draw it would be at the point where the author has to decide whether to do something that advances the plot or makes the work better as art, or whether to do something that makes the plot weaker but re-emphasizes the message. Heinlein had that line about "he sold his birthright for a pot of message," which often applies. I think there's a danger of making a story very clunky in order to get the desired message of gender or racial equity (or whatever other message) across. I suspect it's much easier to sell a message that's already a part of your worldview, but that may be me engaging in fundamental attribution bias (where you mix up the beliefs of the speaker with his incentives). It seems pretty clear that a better author can sell whatever he's writing better than a worse writer.

Every story anyone ever writes incorporates the author's worldview, including his blind spots. Every story anyone ever reads gets mapped into the reader's worldview, often with additional blind spots added in. What comes off as heavy handed is, I think, a function of *both* worldviews. And (tying back to a previous thread) a big part of those worldviews is just what you're used to seeing and reading and hearing about. If one does not speak of homosexualtiy in your world, then a story with an openly gay protagonist is probably shocking, and is also a story which most readers will think *must* be about the protagonist being gay. I mean, it looks like a gun on the mantlepiece, right? By contrast, if one sees gays in public all the time in your world, a detective story with a gay protagonist may have almost nothing to do with his being gay, and it won't seem all that weird. (In fact, in *our* media culture, where people can be gay on TV but rarely are shown in gay couples and almost never in gay love scenes, this is probably more comfortable than the other way around for many readers.)

And one other thing that gets mixed in here are the assumptions of the genre. Having people change genders from time to time is a pretty common idea in SF, but would probably be very a lot more jarring in a Western. The ass-kicking swordswoman is a common (maybe overused) trope now in fantasy novels (this provides the subject of the all-important cover art with a woman in a metal bikini wielding a sword), but at some point it was a rather surprising departure from normal assumptions.

#850 ::: David Langford ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 09:55 AM:

Patrick #844: The commenter has posted again citing Teresa's post at #342 in this thread. Apparently Teresa equals Tor and her statement #342 of personal feelings, freely paraphrased, means: “Tor has declared that you and I are either with them or against them”.

#851 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 10:01 AM:

Except, you know, Teresa wasn't prescribing how others vote. She was refusing to let others prescribe how she votes.

#852 ::: perlhaqr ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 10:03 AM:

Avram @829: "there’s been a revolver with 17 chambers sitting on the mantlepiece of the Vlad Taltos series ever since the start of Jhereg. I can’t wait to see who gets hit with it."

Oh My God yes. :D

#853 ::: perlhaqr ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 10:09 AM:

Tom @810: "that should be Buddha Buck, not Buddha Duck. Taken as a unintentional error, with my intent being kindly correction."

Ayup. Whoops. Maybe I should bump up my font size.

#854 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 10:15 AM:

James Harvey #846:

Until this current kerfuffle where the sock puppets started calling China Mielville a communist and thus personally responsible for all the villainies of Stalin and Mao, I had no idea of his political views. I know not of the political views of Iain M Banks or Ken McCleod, but I'll take your word they are socialists.

Personally, I don't care that much about the political views of authors I read, except to the degree it interferes with their writing. For the most part, I am perfectly willing to read authors who write well (i.e., in a style that appeals to me) despite knowing their political viewpoint is different than mine. Cases like Orson Scott Card, where the author has made public statements making clear they hold political views I find distasteful, are the exception, not the general expectation.

I don't read China Mieville or Jerry Pournelle, not because of their political views, but because when I did read them their writing did not click with me (I like Niven/Pournelle, but not Pournelle alone).

#855 ::: perlhaqr ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 10:22 AM:

Kevin @825: "Ooh, this is interesting. How does that affect the plot?"

It turns out I was actually conflating plotlines. The bisexuality doesn't become relevant until the sequel to The Weapon (entitled "Rogue"). Avoiding spoilers, I'll say that the "Indonesian" part mostly has to do with plot points involving food.

#856 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 10:26 AM:

albatross @849:
I keep thinking that the issue we run into here relates to the difference between art and propaganda.

Or, perhaps, the difference between erotica and pornography: is it a story where the sex advances the plot, or a story where the plot advances the sex?

#857 ::: perlhaqr ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 10:34 AM:

James Harvey @846: "What on earth do fans in the US make of avowedly socialist writers like China Mielville or Iain M Banks?"

Well, I've never read any Mieville, but I love Banks' Culture novels. (See earlier comment about astroengineering.) And as a former libertarian who has since evolved to pure market anarchism, the implication of the Culture books that the only thing needed to make socialism successful is technology-indistinguishable-from-magic levels of resource post-scarcity and nigh-incorruptable, inhuman AI to do the administration actually fits pretty well with my position on the subject.

#858 ::: perlhaqr ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 10:40 AM:

Lee @820: "No, we are not on the same page here at all. And this is where I bow out, at least for the time being; hearing "inclusion of characters not of the unmarked case" described again as "checking ticky boxes" (!) has put me into a headspace where anything else I could say would be likely to get my vowels pulled. So I'm going to go do something else for a while."

I am sorry that I have offended you. It was not my intention to do so. I think you got almost the opposite impression of what I was trying to say from what I said, but since I was the one who said it, I can only lay the fault for that at my own feet.

#859 ::: paul ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 11:18 AM:

If people are going to cite Checkov on minor characters, I think they should probably consider Panshin as well: everyone we think of as a minor character in our stories is busy thinking of us as a minor character in theirs. (Yeah, also Stoppard and a bunch of other writers, but being of a certain age..)

I think one of the characteristics of a Certain Kind of Fiction is that there are objectively major character and minor characters, and everyone including the characrers themselves knows it.

#860 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 11:37 AM:

Teresa way back at 711, rec.arts.sf.composition not rec.arts.sf.written

I'm just correcting you to be polite. And I love the line about running shoes.

#861 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 12:19 PM:

My thanks to Teresa for asking people who liked "Opera Vita Aeternis" and the Correia novel to describe why, and to those who gave straight answers. I'd reached the point of being so angry at OVA that I was wondering whether Beale was trolling by writing deliberately bad fiction, but now I'm quite willing to accept that he was writing as well as he could for an audience that just isn't me.

Here are some ideas about why that sort of story isn't a great tool for enabling people to live better with each other, even though it's clearly better than just promoting fear and revulsion. I can't imagine Lovecraft writing such a story.

However, having allegorical substitutes just doesn't quite do the job. Part of it is that people really want to see people like themselves at least some of the time in fiction. OVA would mostly appeal to people who really like Catholicism and/or are Catholics themselves. That's because it has actual Catholicism (or something very like it) in it. A religion that vaguely matched Catholicism wouldn't work as well for that audience.

The other thing is that there's actual history-- sometimes bad history-- between groups. The situation of group A has been persecuting group B, but a member of A goes to visit some B's on their own territory and learns about them does happen and sometimes it works out well, but it isn't typical.

Now that I think about it, I'm not sure I've seen fiction that includes moderate levels of prejudice fading but not going away completely-- I'm not saying it should be the whole story (that would be excessive message)-- but does it ever get included?

****

What got to me about Farthing wasn't the inclusion of gay and bisexual characters (I admit that at this point, I only remember the ones where it was important to the plot), but that it was a world where it seemed like everyone was keeping crucial secrets.

****

#741 ::: Lee

Nitpick in re Heinlein-- it depends on which Heinlein. The obsession with having babies is relatively late. Aside from anything else, I'm annoyed that the babies and children are mostly offstage. It seems like theoretical reproduction rather than making families in a way that affects people's lives.

His politics as expressed in his books varied quite a bit. Beyond This Horizon has a centrally controlled economy which was a utopia of abundance. The Cat Who Walked through Walls has a privately owned space station which (as I recall) was a bad place to live. I agree that a lot of his later work tended toward libertarian.

#862 ::: Jacque drooling through Jacque's mask... ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 12:21 PM:

...as Jacque is wont to to do prior to 1pm....

Late to the thread; have to say, lovin' the floor show from @155 on. (Does that make me a bad person?) Also, the caramel popcorn is wonderful....

#863 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 12:25 PM:

Nancy @861:

I'm the one who asked people to describe why they liked the works in question.

Like you, I thought the answers were interesting and illuminating. I might even try the Monster Hunter thing from Correia, depending on how the prose style in his Hugo nominee bounces off of me. I think the Day stuff is not my cup of tea, but I understand the people who do like it for its own sake somewhat better.

(I'm getting shit for not being immediately converted from Daysies in various places, so I might as well get whatever credit for the request I can too...)

#864 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 12:35 PM:

abi, I'm sorry about misattributing credit. I'm glad you asked that question.

#865 ::: perlhaqr ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 12:46 PM:

Abi @863: "I might even try the Monster Hunter thing from Correia, depending on how the prose style in his Hugo nominee bounces off of me."

FWIW: Even Correia himself admits that as a first work, MHI isn't as good as later books in the series. Unless you totally hate it (in which case it's probably subject matter and writing style, as opposed to authorial maturity that's the issue for you), I'd urge you to give the first two novels a shot if the first one is only "meh" for you.

I should talk to Larry about putting one of his full novels in the Baen Free Library, so people can get the first taste for no cost. ;)

#866 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 01:19 PM:

While I appreciate getting admirers' take on what OVA is about and why they like it, something bothered me deeply about the plot summary as worded by at least two of them:

(Paraphrased) "It's about an elf who visits a monastery in order to learn about the human religion."

Because there's only one human religion, right? And that's Catholicism?

That's not true today, and it's never been true in the entire history of humanity. So even assuming this takes place during the era of the Roman Empire (I honestly don't know, but it sounds from our visitors like this is VD's preferred setting), it erases a huge swath of human culture and history.

Anyway, if that's one of the assumptions buried under the worldbuilding in OVA (I must assume it is, because at least two visitors used wording to that effect independently), it's absolutely going to limit the potential for the story to resonate with a wider audience.

Like abi, I'm not convinced reading anything by that author is worth the time spent suffering in that author's literary presence. But I do appreciate getting to read reviews by those who like his work.

#867 ::: Edmund Schweppe ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 01:24 PM:

TNH @814:

I think we should only allow pink and blue encodings for styles of fiction if Pox Day & Co. agree to adopt pink as their color. I'm sure they'll claim the color isn't meant to be offensive when they assign it to us, so they can have no objection to adopting it themselves.

It would certainly map well to the "red state/blue state" mapping currently favored in US political reportage. (For non-US readers, a "red state" generally votes for the more right-wing Republican party, while a "blue state" generally votes for the more left-wing Democratic party. These colors are generally used to code electoral results maps.)

OTOH, authors in the middle might find themselves accused of writing purple prose...

#868 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 01:38 PM:

As someone who's both a fan of China Mieville's novels and quite a long way to the left of any plausible political position in the US, but not quite Mieville's style of socialist, I'm quite becroggled by the idea that his politics 'don't affect his writing'.

Just to take one example: it seems fairly clear that one of the central devices in The City and the City is an attempt to present allegorically the Marxist idea of alienation - (which I'd define for these purposes as the idea that things which are our collective creation, and which we sustain through our daily actions come to seem like something woven into the fabric of the universe, and structure how we see things .) (And then there's the whole thing of a fantasy series set in a world in which monarchy just isn't even within the universe of conceivable political possibilities.)

I'd suggest that it may be less of a matter of politics not affecting the writing as the writing being done with sufficient art and charm that the politics seems an integral part of the story. (Or possibly of certain things not being easily seen as politics from certain standpoints.)

#870 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 02:01 PM:

Socialism and other stuff.

Socialism is an expression of the Great Human Trick of ganging up on problems. It's about how the gang is organised (which is at the core of all politics).

In part, it is an answer to the question, "What's in it for me?"

The ways in which Socialism answers that question is shared with other approaches to politics—famously, Bismarck introduced old-age pensions—but I sometimes get the feeling that the label is applied as a slur, based on the presence on an answer rather than on the system which uses that answer, ans often as a rhetorical sleight of hand intended to link via socialism to the oppressive brands of communism (which is a spectre that is, of course, haunting Europe).

Cooperation works pretty well, and that is why the Galt's Gulch crowd starts to look a bit silly, especially when you look at how many people you need to sustain a technological civilisation without outside input. In SF it might be seen as a question that should be limited to interstellar colonisation and zombie plagues, but the same numbers apply to nuclear wars, global warming, and such supra-national entities as giant corporations and the EU.

#871 ::: praisegod barebones spots previously banned commenter ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 02:08 PM:

The gnomes are quicker than I am.

#872 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 02:09 PM:

#868 ::: praisegod barebones

I'm so used to the idea that a lot of what people think is absolutely true is actually a result of people (mostly earlier people) making stuff up that I don't especially think of it as political.

I'm going to put in a nice word for Mieville's King Rat as an example of unusually inclusivist horror.

#873 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Wielder of Flamethrowers ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 02:29 PM:

Yeah, we had another visit from one of the less interesting and intelligent side-effects of getting the attention we have.

I'd just like to make it clear that I'm not sure whether it's a Daysie or a Correia follower. Dogs, fleas. I am unamused.

#874 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 02:30 PM:

I agree with Dave Bell that, in the US at least, "socialism" tends to be used as a slur, without much regard to how the supposedly "socialist" policy or person resembles actual socialism. Case in point, the ACA, where a policy requiring people to buy insurance from private companies to pay private doctors is called too "socialist".

#875 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 02:40 PM:

874
With the added spice of those complaining being ardent supporters of business.

#876 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 02:48 PM:

The way the comment thread in File 770 on the USA Today piece has developed, it's being used to promulgate the idea that Tor.com are the real Secret Masters of Fandom.

That also seems to be an idea that has become attached to the Correia list. I am not sure how much of that is down to Correia and how much is down to Vox Day.

I did a comparison of the list with the nominations, and for fiction Larry Correia got too many hits to be dismissed as an effective campaigner. But harnessing his wagon to Vox Day does not seem to be the wisest of moves.

#877 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 02:58 PM:

Does this (the File 770 thread) mean that Teresa is also in charge of the world supply of Arugula? She has mentioned it and therefore must be the Speaker for Arugula.
(Can I have some?)

#878 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 03:05 PM:

Dave Bell @876:

On the other hand, it was pretty clear that that commenter on File 770 can't read and interpret prose. As an amplification mechanism, I'm not convinced it's going to be that effective.

But I think the Tor.com paranoia has been going at least since Alex MacFarlane's article on post-binary gender. Somehow one columnist's punchy opening (I want an end to the default of binary gender in science fiction stories.) has been turned into an Order That All SF&F Is Commanded to Follow.

I'm confident that most of the people who promulgate this story are capable of reading and thinking better than this, if they were willing to go to the source material, or if they were willing to think about this the way they think about ordinary matters of business. From what I can see, it's become a tribal belief, a unifying story for one set of fandom. I've heard distortions and myths based on it from otherwise quite intelligent people.

I'm kind of embarrassed on their behalf.

#879 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 03:50 PM:

Dave bell @ 876... Tor.com are the real Secret Masters of Fandom

Patrick does have that Evil Universe beard.

#880 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 04:09 PM:

Dave Weingart @839 -- the gendered pair "masseuse/masseur" is losing ground to "massage therapist," I'm fascinated by it because most people use masseuse to refer to both male and female massage practitioners, though it's actually the feminine form -- one of the few cases where the female form is the default.

#881 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 04:14 PM:

Nicole @ #866 writes: Because there's only one human religion, right? And that's Catholicism?

Well, no. The setup (not a spoiler as it's explained as near to the start as a lot of lugubrious and supererogatory description allows) is that a missionary went to PhiladElfia to preach to the high elves there, and the elf in the story wants to learn about the particular god he was preaching about.

There may be 10,000 other religions in the human world for all we know.

Question: I understand why the humans are shown using fancy (if poorly chosen) Latinate words for stuff, but why do the elves also use pig Latin (Collegium Occludum, Magister Daimonae), if they have never heard of Christianity?

#882 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 04:18 PM:

881
The first contact team had a case of Latin textbooks, and nothing else?

#883 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 04:18 PM:

On gendered -ess words, no matter how many disappear naturally, Princess/Prince will survive forever thanks to the Mouse.

#884 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 04:24 PM:

PJ Evans @882:

Only if said Latin textbooks had been written by someone from the Harry Potterverse. The grammar of the snippets I've seen is...regrettable (including that story title, my eyes! my eyes!).

It's not difficult to get Latin right, particularly not if the author is living in Italy. The fact that Day didn't is one of those pointers that other things I care about as well may not be well thought out either.

#885 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 04:30 PM:

Ah, naive Latin. (I resort to a dictionary, but then I had a year of Latin classes in college.)

#886 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 04:31 PM:

Dave Bell@630: ...researchers are clearly working on systems with far more axes. Two isn't enough, and the simple-to-visualise two-axis system has so many different sets of labels.

[A couple of days late, but even with the excellent moderation this post has taken some determination to follow.]

This isn't my area at all, but I thought one of the obvious results of Poole & Rosenthal's NOMINATE work was that two dimensions were enough to explain most of the voting in the US Congress (and at least some parliamentary systems), although, as you say, what the axes (particularly the second axis) correspond to shifts over time. Have I misunderstood, or is the point that there aren't constant labels for those axes?

#887 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 04:33 PM:

abi @ 884... The grammar of the snippets I've seen is...regrettable (including that story title, my eyes! my eyes!)

Romanes eunt domus?

#888 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 04:35 PM:

It's in that league, yes.

#889 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 04:36 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @872:

I think I agree with that as far as things which we identify as being beliefs are concerned. I guess what I find politically interesting is the idea that some things we don't necessarily think of as beliefs operate that way too. (I guess an extreme way of putting the point might be 'policemen are made out of beliefs'. That's obviously an overstatement though. Maybe a closer to the truth might be something like 'belief is one of the active ingredients in policemen'. And in market economies too.

But perhaps that's still too obvious to be politically interesting.

#890 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 04:36 PM:

Day has sneered explicitly that the title is a mix of Italian and Latin.

#891 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 04:37 PM:

researchers are clearly working on systems with far more axes.

Ah, Dwarven politics.

#892 ::: praisegod barebones has left a bracket wandering in the wild ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 04:40 PM:

Please treat it gently if you find it on your porch.

#893 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 04:42 PM:

Lenora Rose @890:

Well, he's the author, so he either chose it or he does get to make the canonical retcons. But I'm allowed to say that I don't necessarily buy his pattern of linguistic evolution.

It still looks like bad Latin to me, in a way that neither Italian nor the genuine transitional forms from Latin to Italian do.

#894 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 04:54 PM:

Teresa Nielsen Hayden@814: Personally, the whole pink-and-blue thing sounds to me like a proposal for flannel books for infant evolutionary psychologists.

I almost want to see these books, except that I start itching with prolonged exposure to either flannel or evolutionary psychology.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden@818:I think it was Steven Brust who observed that, if a gun is on the mantelpiece in the first act, the third act cannot conclude before someone is beaten to death with the mantelpiece.

Thank you. I think this is going to go in my "quotes to remember" file (where, as is the way with my filing, it will undoubtedly be lost, but perhaps I'll remember it anyway).

praisegod barebones@868: (Or possibly of certain things not being easily seen as politics from certain standpoints.)

Given that in the U.S. knowledge of Socialism and Communism as political philosophies, as opposed to bogeymen, is…not particularly deep or widespread, I don't know how many people in the U.S. would actually recognize the politics without the labels.

#895 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 04:55 PM:

Praisgod Barebones @893,

Found it for you.

)

I've arranged for it to be shipped humanely back to you. As you can see, it's in good health and spirits.

#896 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 05:35 PM:

IIRC, Stephen Donaldson was early with less-gendered language. In the Thomas Covenant books, both men and women could be Lords.

As for socialism and communism, I used to think they referred to quite different things-- communism was the totalitarianism which led at best to severe political restrictions and poverty, and at worse to genocide. Socialism was a benign combination of a regulated market economy and a strong safety net. It was simple, and I could blame conservatives for trying to make socialists look bad by calling them communists. I was happy.

Then I talked with some leftists, and found that socialism and communism have both been used for both kinds of systems. (I think communism has been used for what I was calling socialism.)

If I'd been thinking, I'd have remembered what USSR stood for on my own.

#897 ::: Tatterbots ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 06:05 PM:

@895:

Aw, it's smiling!

#898 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 06:50 PM:

On the topic of books that embody a political statement, I think John Barnes' A Million Open Doors is a good example. One of the major plot lines in it is an exploration of what might happen when an entire planet that subscribes to what I can only describe as a Totalitarian/Right-Libertarian economic theory* encounters a genuine free market that they can't control. I do not know, however, how much of that story line reflects Barnes' actual political beliefs.

* Yeah, it sounds impossible. But I honestly don't know what else to call a system whereby every single interaction that has anything to do with the material world is broken down into who-pays-how-much-to-whom, often in fractions of a cent, and it's all transferred from the debtor's account to the creditor's account on the spot by government-run software. Oh, and this system is described as the height of individual freedom.

#899 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 07:06 PM:

#898 ::: Lee

As I recall, that's a fair description of the book, though it leaves out that the planets have weird societies because of a government policy which (iirc) mandates that ideologically unified groups will do the colonizing.

#900 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 07:19 PM:

Is "To Kill A Mockingbird" a political story?

#901 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 07:21 PM:

James Harvey, #846: "What on earth do fans in the US make of avowedly socialist writers like China Mielville or Iain M Banks? Let alone someone like Ken McCleod who (I think rather tediously) seemed to bang on about the Fourth International for most of his first four books as I remember them."

I dunno, what are we to make of the fact that, of all of the fine and diverse novels by Ken MacLeod (THREAD PLEASE NOTE CORRECT SPELLING), it's exactly those four which have been in print and selling continuously in the US for a decade and a half? "Those four" being the Fall Revolution quartet: The Star Fraction, The Stone Canal, The Cassini Division, and The Sky Road. The Cassini Division was a finalist for the 2000 Nebula Award. The Sky Road was a Hugo finalist at the 2000 Worldcon in Chicago. The Fall Revolution novels are now in print as a pair of trade paperback omnibuses entitled Fractions and Divisions. Subsequent MacLeod novels were also honored by American fans--Cosmonaut Keep was a Hugo finalist in 2002, in San Jose, and Learning the World was a Hugo finalist in 2006, in Los Angeles.

It's possible that American SF fans aren't precisely as provincial about politics and ideology as you seem to be suggesting. China Miéville has also been a Hugo finalist five times, winning once at the Australian Worldcon in 2010, but three of his five finalist placements were at American worldcons. Random House/Del Rey seems quite pleased to have US rights to most of his books, and Tor isn't planning to let go of his debut novel King Rat if we can help it. So terrorized are we all by his fearsome communistical views.

I would also take issue with the idea that Ken MacLeod's Fall Revolution novels do nothing but "bang on about the Fourth International." Reading The Cassini Division was a re-conversion experience for me, a reminder of just what good, daring hard SF can do to my brain. As I set forth to get it into US print, it turned out this was true for a non-zero number of other American readers as well. But yes, we're all nothing more than a bunch of dunderheads who never entertained a political idea that wasn't yee-hah right-wing militarist libertarianism in our lives, because Americans.

#902 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 07:24 PM:

Okay, maybe that was a slight overreaction. James Harvey! Don't go! But jeez. "Gosh, what will the stupid Americans make of this." You know something, there are a lot of Americans.

#903 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 07:58 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz, #861: "OVA would mostly appeal to people who really like Catholicism and/or are Catholics themselves. That's because it has actual Catholicism (or something very like it) in it."

[head explodes]

[head reassembles]

I really don't get into stuff like this very often on Making Light. Or anywhere online. Or anywhere public.

But.

Please understand: I'm reluctant to pass judgment on anyone's personal Catholicism. Even Vox Day's. To some extent, because people like me already get way too much of that from bullying right-wingers inside the Church.

Also, because I believe church (stet lower-case) isn't for the shining and virtuous; it's for the fucked-up rest of us, and VD surely qualifies on that score.

But this line from you makes me unable to resist asking: If a can of cyanide said "Contains 100% Pure Wholesome Organic Nourishment," would you eat it? Because that's the level of credulity you're exhibiting in crediting this dingbat with "actual Catholicism (or something very like it)". Based on what? Your deep understanding of actual Catholicism? Or because he waved a flag and blithered "100% Authentic Catholicism Here, Accept No Substitutes" and you fucking well believed him? Please, accept my invitation to come to our house and play poker sometime.

As ever, I am fantasted by the eagerness of secular left-wingers and libertarians to rush to embrace the view that the most right-wing, authoritarian, fascistic elements of Catholicism, or any religion, must be the Determining Authorities of what the whole thing is about. It's almost as if you're more interested in winning your own sectarian dispute with $RELIGION than you are in actually defeating authoritarianism and fascism. To which I say, thanks a lot, not-very-reliable allies.

I really think a lot of people need to ask themselves: Which fight are you more interested in having? The destroy-all-religion fight? Or the destroy-all-authoritarianism fight? Not an easy question.

#904 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 08:09 PM:

#874, Buddha Buck: "I agree with Dave Bell that, in the US at least, 'socialism' tends to be used as a slur, without much regard to how the supposedly 'socialist' policy or person resembles actual socialism."

Quite right. Also without much regard for the extent to which venerated American institutions like THE MILITARY and MUNICIPAL UTILITIES are in fact examples of low-key, practical, effective socialism.

The real secret is that there's tons of socialism in American society; it's probably responsible for a great deal of the extent to which we're successful at all. But we're not supposed to notice it, because LOOK, A COLORFUL DISTRACTION. ("Hola," said Spam, "an Indian-head nickel." "Floop," suggested the tar pit.)

#905 ::: Brad DeLong ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 08:13 PM:

Re: #890 :: Lenora Rose: "Day has sneered explicitly that the title is a mix of Italian and Latin."

Hmmm... "The work of an eternal life" would be "opus vitae aeternae" in Latin and "il lavoro di una vita eternal" in Italian. "The works of eternal life" would be "opera vitae aeternae" in Latin and "le opere di vita eternal" in Italian. "The works [are] eternal life" would also be "opera vitae aeternae" in Latin and "le opere sono vita eternal" in Italian. If you lose the case markers in the declensions, you acquire auxiliary words as grammatical markers. To lose the ending case markers and not acquire auxiliary words... I don't really think that is a *language*--at least not one that I am willing to suspend my disbelief in...

#906 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 08:18 PM:

Abi, #878: "Somehow one columnist's punchy opening (I want an end to the default of binary gender in science fiction stories.) has been turned into an Order That All SF&F Is Commanded to Follow."

It's true that this is silly. But you know something?

If they want to believe that we're In Charge of All Science Fiction? That our "orders" are commands that they have no choice but to follow? That they are Brave but Doomed, because even as they storm the citadel, we have the tubs of boiling oil ready to pour down on them?

If they want to think that?

We can work with that.

Really, if your enemies are reduced to whining that you're winning? DON'T ARGUE WITH THEM.

#907 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 08:26 PM:

#900, Serge: "Is "To Kill A Mockingbird" a political story?"

If it's not, "political" has no meaning. Why on earth is this a question?

#908 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 08:31 PM:

#898, Lee: "I do not know, however, how much of that story line reflects Barnes' actual political beliefs."

As the editor of that book, let me say that John Barnes is a slippery and subtle guy. Definitely left-wing in many ways (he identified as a "Marxian" when I first worked with him); also deeply impatient with a lot of left-wing culture, for reasons far from entirely insane. Like Ken MacLeod, he has an impressive capacity to sympathize with the worldviews of people very much not like him. Not an easy writer to pin down to simple alliances. He's gotten on my last nerve more than once. I still like him.

#909 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 08:41 PM:

Patrick, is there a legal ebook of that book anywhere? I can't find one with googling, and the Amazon listings seem to imply it's only available used.

#910 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2014, 08:41 PM:

albatross #849: The ass-kicking swordswoman is a common (maybe overused) trope now in fantasy novels (this provides the subject of the all-important cover art with a woman in a metal bikini wielding a sword), but at some point it was a rather surprising departure from normal assumptions.

Actually, I think I want to differ with this. In Western culture, the idea of a female warrior links primarily back to the Greek tales of the Amazons, but that was basically an "alien culture" for the time -- "everyone knows furriners are different, but that country is so different that the women are the fighters -- of course, to use a bow properly, they have to cut off one of their breasts, snigger snigger".¹

In recorded history since then, there are plenty of women warriors, some quite prominent -- but they do get treated as "special cases", notable at least as much for their gender as for their victories.

In modern fiction, my feeling is that the woman warrior started out as a mix of "alien culture" and "but this one is