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April 18, 2015

A few simple desultory philippics
Posted by Patrick at 07:46 PM * 548 comments

Jeet Heer, in the New Republic, on the crisis of the Hugo Awards. Yes, I just actually typed the words “the New Republic, on the crisis of the Hugo Awards.” 2015 is a strange place.

Marko Kloos is a stand-up dude.

The supposedly “moderate” Sad Puppies, struggling to obscure their complicity with Vox Day.

The psychology of sad & rabid puppies. Occasionally strays into assertions that are unfalsifiable, but smart anyway.

Jeet Heer again: “The nomination process works on the wisdom of crowds, which the final vote winnows to a winner. Slate voting undermines.” Quite right. Teresa and I don’t even nominate or vote for exactly the same people and works, and our two hearts beat as one. Repeat after me: Slates break the Hugos.

Puppies deleting their embarrassing internet history.

“Someone sensible has looked at how the available data compares with Brad Torgerson’s claim to have drawn up his Hugo nominations slate with ‘the democratic selection system of the Hugo awards…No “quiet” logrolling. Make it transparent.’”

GRRM on the claimed “transparency” of the SP selection process. “We want democracy. We want transparency. We don’t want log-rolling. General elections need to be honest, but primary elections should be honest too. And you guys do NOT believe in any sort of political litmus tests, I know, you’ve said as much a hundred times…so I know you will welcome my own suggestions for Sad Puppies 4, right? Oh, and PNH and TNH, and N.K. Jemisin, and Connie Willis, and David Gerrold, and John Scalzi, and all my friends in the Brotherhood Without Banners…we all love science fiction, we all love puppies…”

Comments on A few simple desultory philippics:
#1 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2015, 08:42 PM:

In the "deleting embarrassing history" link, Correia says he liked Beale's illiterate story No Speaka Latina last year. He's claiming that he liked a story which boasts this as it's opening:

The cold autumn day was slowly drawing to a close. The pallid sun was descending, its ineffective rays no longer sufficient to hold it up in the sky or to penetrate the northern winds that gathered strength with the whispering promise of the incipient dark.

#2 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2015, 08:48 PM:

Good god, that's right out of Cold Comfort Farm. "It was winter. The grimmest hour of the darkest day of the year. The Golden Orb had almost disappeared behind the interlacing fingers of the hawthorn."

#3 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2015, 09:13 PM:

In re your first paragraph: I was so pleased years ago when NPR did an long respectful eulogy for Gordon Dickson. I had no idea of the implications of the mass media taking sf seriously.

#4 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2015, 10:07 PM:

Probably worth noting that Jeet Heer has a fannish history - he used to be active in comics fandom, and did a bunch of good critical writing in that field. I don't know how much involvement he had in the sf/f con world, but he was at least in nearby meadows and knows the district. He's also done a lot of commenting over the years in the world of political and philosophical blogging. Watching him hit the journalistic big time has been pretty cool.

#5 ::: Jeet Heer ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2015, 10:18 PM:

Thanks for the kind words, Bruce Baugh. I've never been a part of SF fandom but have, I think, a reasonable familiarity with the history and literature.
I'll note that I'm not the first to write on science fiction in the New Republic. Ursula K. Le Guin did a lovely essay on Philip K. Dick in the 1970s in the magazine, and Fredric Jameson had a good appreciation of Larry Niven in the same period. And more recently Alexander Star wrote a fine piece on (again) P.K. Dick.

#6 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2015, 10:19 PM:

One quick thought: Torgerson has been using his wife as a "get out of racism" card. Has she spoken up anywhere in this mess?

#7 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2015, 10:30 PM:

You're very welcome, Jeet. We never actually interacted much in comments, but have mutual acquaintances, and I took your name as a reliable indication of something interesting coming. Which it was. :)

#8 ::: ULTRAGOTHA ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2015, 11:02 PM:

David @6
I really hope she feels no obligation to speak up. Nor pressure not to speak. Her decision. Sitting out is a completely rational option.

#9 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2015, 11:05 PM:

Day quotes Correia as saying "I nominated Vox Day because Satan didn't have any eligible works that period."

I think we're all pretty clear that Correia pulled in a large contingent of people he picked simply to piss off the dreaded "SJW". But hen he denies that line of thought and tells us he picked the story simply because he liked it. He "disagrees" with Days politics, but just wanted a "good" story.

He also thinks Kevin J Anderson is a Hugo quality writer.

KJA is to the Hugos what McDonalds is the the Michelin guide. These guys, by and large, have shitty taste in books. I say that as someone who has a shit-ton of guilty pleasures, but hey, I feel guilty about 'em and would not nominate them for a Hugo.

Because if we follow the logic that popular has to be best, soon Correia will be throwing a tantrum that Applebees isn't getting mentioned in any major restaurant guides, Bud Lite isn't winning beer awards, and no one is hanging Thomas Kincaid in the Louvre.

#10 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2015, 11:30 PM:

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/apr/18/hugo-award-hijack-just-proves-progressives-right

the Guardian is talking about it too

#11 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2015, 11:48 PM:

ULTRAGOTHA #8: Sitting out is a completely rational option.

This is true, especially when there's this much crap flying around. And yet, Torgerson has brought her in by reference, and from his description in that non-reply to GRRM, she doesn't exactly sound like a shrinking violet.

Now, it's entirely plausible that she's not only not part of fandom, but not active on the Internet (or at least not in our circles). Even so, her absence from the discussion does seem convenient for Brad. And perhaps necessary, given VD's involvement.

#12 ::: ULTRAGOTHA ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 12:08 AM:

@11
I reject unequivocally any attempt to pressure anyone to join in this fray. No one has any obligation to speak or to not speak, regardless of their relationship to anyone involved, or what any participant says of them.


#13 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 12:20 AM:

Thank you for saying that, Ultragotha. This line of speculation was making me very uncomfortable.

#14 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 12:23 AM:

11
It's him using her to claim he isn't really as bad as VD. Which is questionable in both ways. I don't demand that she speak out, but I think Torgerson shouldn't have brought her in, even obliquely.

#15 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 12:43 AM:

Criticizing Torgerson is one thing; he set himself up for that, and I imagine he can handle it. (And if he can't--well, that's his problem.) Any "wondering" beyond that about what anyone connected to him personally might say or think or feel is none of my business.

#16 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 02:02 AM:

Torgersen's (it's with an e - that's been bothering me so I just checked) wife should not be obligated to speak up, no. But I do wish he would stop using her as body armor if she hasn't volunteered for that. It's one thing to bring up anecdotes about our nearest and dearest in an attempt to be instructive or share an insight, another thing entirely - and in need of different handling - when defending against allegations of bad faith.

#17 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 04:13 AM:

Even more than for his wife, I feel dismay for his young daughter. What's going to happen when she finally gets old enough to get access to the Internet, and she sees all the hateful things he's said about women and minorities, when she see the hateful things said by people he openly admits are his friends?

It's one thing for him to decide, for whatever reason, that he feels comfortable engaging in his hateful, scorched-earth policy. And it's entirely possible his wife is totally on-board with his behavior. But what a horrible legacy to leave to your child (and if Torgersen believes he can prevent his daughter, when she gets older, from finding out what he's really like, then he's even more delusional than he already seems).

And that's why I doubt that his wife really knows what he's been doing. I think she doesn't spend much time on the Internet and has no idea what he's been up to. Because she might be willing to take that on for herself -- but I find it really difficult to believe that any loving mother, no matter how overridden by her husband, would be A-OK with setting a child up for what is going to be a long, hard life every time someone she knows (or dates, or applies to for a job) Googles for details about her and her family.

#18 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 05:28 AM:

You know, if we're not going to discuss Torgersen's wife and daughter (and I think that's a good idea), then let's not discuss them.

#19 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 06:22 AM:

What Abi said. Out of bounds, people.

#20 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 06:29 AM:

abi@18:

I agree. Bringing Torgersen's family into this is unseemly and wrong. Leave them out of it.

#21 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 06:45 AM:

My apologies.

#22 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 07:19 AM:

Mods #18-19: OK, subject dropped.

#23 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 08:55 AM:

"occasionally strays into assertions that are unfalsifiable": "unverifiable" fits better into this syntax?

#24 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 09:15 AM:

Josh Jasper @ 9... no one is hanging Thomas Kincaid in the Louvre

But the Louvre should display Mary Dell's crossover of Kincaid and Lovecraft.

#25 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 09:25 AM:

Josh Jasper @ 9: "no one is hanging Thomas Kincaid in the Louvre"

I wouldn't bother. He's already dead.

#26 ::: PhilRM ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 10:32 AM:

Serge@24: link for that?

#27 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 10:51 AM:

A.J. Luxton @ 16: Thanks for the correction on the spelling of Torgersen's name. I keep doing that, and it's embarrassing.

#28 ::: Michael Eochaidh ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 12:31 PM:

Mary Frances @27: I can sympathize. Having lived in Wisconsin (home to the descendants of a relatively large number of Norwegian immigrants) for roughly twenty years, I'd have trouble if he spelled it "Torgerson."

#29 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 01:05 PM:

Was it Strom Thurmond who was an ardent segregationist, but nonetheless had a mistress who was black and an illegitimate child from the relationship?

The levels that hypocrisy and "but that's a Special Case!" or "He/she/you are not one of them!" situations can get to:

A friend of mine has tales which include, when the friend was a schoolchild "the mothers of [white] friends of mine would complain about Negroes with me sitting in the room with them, and I'd wonder about them not noticing that my skin is brown. Were they blind?"

Heinlein described that sort of phenomenon from Lazarus Long's perspective as the neighbors of a Howard Family family established in the neighborhood as part of the neighborhood, weren't going to be attacked by the people in the neighborhood--but the people in the neighborhood would attack Howard Family families, in -other- neighborhoods.

The defense of "Why my best friend/wife/husband/wife /daughter-in-law/son-in-law/etc..."is..." does not mean the person is not a bigot, it means the person might not be treating that particular individual the way the person treats the general class.

#30 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 01:12 PM:

Julie L@23: No, I think it's a reference to the principle of falsifiability as a test for scientific status; the thought is that as nothing could count against them, they can be made with impunity, and don't have to face an empirical test.

#31 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 01:21 PM:

Andrew M, #30: Yes. I meant that a few things in that article seemed to me to verge on the kind of charge where denying the charge can easily be used as evidence that the charge is true. But by and large I thought the piece was perceptive, which is why I linked to it.

#32 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 01:42 PM:

Paula, #29: "Ardent segregationist with black mistress" makes perfect sense to me; both are indications of wanting to go back to the antebellum South.

The rest of your examples seem to fit neatly into the "present company excepted" fallacy.

#33 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 01:52 PM:

For many people, the transformation of "forbidden other" into desirable sex object is pretty fast and easy. Especially for men of Thurmond's generation. I don't think it's the least bit surprising that he committed adultery with black women. What's surprising is that he acknowledged his daughter.

#34 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 02:24 PM:

PhilRM... No link, alas. I'll ask Mary.

#35 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 02:30 PM:

#1 Niall
Euww! on the quoted material. Rays holding up the sun? WHAT? .. bleah!

Euuwww

#32 Lee
#33 Beth

I think that Thurmond kept it secret and paid hush money/embarrassment money for many years to preent publicity.

It's still hypocrisy and " a situation of I am a special case to engage in this when I condemn it for everyone else and I am on public record as adamantly oposed."

#36 ::: Doctor Science ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 02:36 PM:

I await any Puppy replies to GRRM's latest question with great interest.

What I hadn't really realized until last night, is that, AFAIK, Correia started with "books I like don't get nominated, books I don't like win", and went directly to "a sekrit leftist cabal controls the Hugos" -- when the more obvious stop should have been, "Worldcon members don't reflect real, good SF any more."

Why blame a conspiracy of SJWs, instead of the manifest case that Worldcon members are a specialized, divergent subset of SF/F fandom?

Does anyone know if the Puppies ever considered that hypothesis? Or was the idea of a covert conspiracy just so obvious to them from the start?

#37 ::: rcade ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 02:56 PM:

BlackGate has withdrawn from the Hugo ballot and is campaigning for No Award to be chosen above all Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies slate nominees:

http://www.blackgate.com/2015/04/19/black-gate-withdraws-from-hugo-consideration/

#38 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 03:12 PM:

Doctor Science @ 36: But--but--a specialized, divergent subset of ANYTHING must also be the result of a covert conspiracy, don't ya know . . .

Seriously, most people dislike believing in coincidence, or even in non-directed evolution. If there is a pattern at all, there must be a deliberate cause--and we are very good both at seeing patterns (even when none are there) and at then hypothesizing deliberate causes. I suspect it's no more than that operating, here.

#39 ::: Guesso ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 03:18 PM:

Is Vox Day barred from enterring the US? What country does he live in? Kevin Standlee posted something about this on file770. I don't know the details.

#40 ::: Jimbeaux D ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 03:35 PM:

Helen Keller is also mentioned in the documentary Muscle Shoals, an intriguing look into not only the music business, but also the complexities of the south.

#41 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 04:05 PM:

(This YouTube version of the Simon and Garfunkel song has a lovely exegesis of the references in the original song.)

#42 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 04:32 PM:

Doctor Science @36

Here's my surmise:

Amal el-Mohtar (I think) pointed out that Correia and Torgesen were both nominated for - but didn't win - Campbell awards six or seven years ago. I think the inference from 'I didn't win, despite being way better than everyone else' to 'there must be a secret left-wing cabal' is one that can seem quite psychologically tempting to certain character types under certain ciircumstances. (In another context, I'm occasionally prone to it.)

Once you've arrived at the position that there is a secret cabal, (because no other explanation is possible), then that's likely to present itself as a particularly salient explanation of why other stuff one likes isn't winning. (Or why stuff one dislikes is winning.)

Apart from anything else, the alternative is to believe that there is a left-wing cabal which has singled out your own work for special attention. And that is not a million miles from being, non-pejoratively, crazy talk, and no-one wants to go there.

That accounts for the organizers of SP. As for the people voting SP: well, I think that on some level it may just be a case of wishful thinking. There's something attractive about the idea that one is taking a stand, with a few like-minded souls, against a powerful and faceless enemy. It's much easier to get emotionally invested in a story like that than the more mundane hypothesis that there's a divergence between the tastes of two different groups of fans.

(Also, 'secret conspiracy' doesn't force you to put up examples of stuff you think is great but overlooked, in the way that 'Hugo voters just don't recognize great stuff' would. So it's less demanding to defend, and to that extent more attractive.)

#43 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 04:50 PM:

WRT your opening paragraph. It was the morning after Arthur C. Clarke died, we were on our way to the airport to fly to a conference in Chicago. And listening to NPR's reporting on Sir Arthur's death. The person they chose to interview to explain the significance of his career was Patrick Nielsen Hayden. We do, indeed, live in a time when sf has become mainstreamed.

#44 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 04:52 PM:

PNH #2: I was more struck by the fact of a sun being held up by its rays. Even my knowledge of physics is outraged by that.

#45 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 04:54 PM:

Fragano @44: Even medieval scholars would have been outraged by that! Or maybe I mean "especially," rather than "even" . . .

#46 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 04:58 PM:

Paula Lieberman #29: Thurmond, like many a wealthy Southern white boy of his time, got the housemaid pregnant. That's not having a mistress, that's using one's social power to obtain sexual satisfaction. There's a four-letter word for that: rape.

#47 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 04:58 PM:

Paula, #35: No one is saying that it's not hypocrisy. But that's not ALL it is, especially (as Beth points out) for white men of his generation; it's also fantasy. When Thurmond coupled with his black mistress, he could imagine himself as a plantation owner, doing something that was considered appropriate for plantation owners to do.

Doctor Science, #36: IMO, the "leftist cabal" thing is inextricably tangled up with the rise of anti-harassment policies at cons, and with the flap over the "lady editors who look hot in their bathing suits" brouhaha, and in the end it all comes down to a bunch of assholes whining that their special privileges are being taken away. They already believe that SFWA is under the control of a leftist "SJW" cabal (because of the "lady editors who look hot in their bathing suits" thing and its outcome), and it's not much of a stretch from that to "the Hugos are going to people who don't look like me, so they must be under the control of that same cabal!"

#48 ::: Dave Crisp ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 05:00 PM:

@Guesso: Beale is a US citizen (he was born in Minnesota) but AIUI lives in Switzerland for tax reasons - his dad is currently inside for tax evasion - and does not hold a US passport. His "banning" is therefore entirely of his own making.

#49 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 05:11 PM:

Essie Mae Washington-Williams, Strom Thurmond's daughter, wrote a book about her life and when she died at 87, there were a number of obituaries that gave the highlights of that life. From the little I've read, she was a remarkable woman.

Strom was 22 when he fathered a child with a 16-year-old black maid who worked in his family's home in 1920s segregated South Carolina. I agree with Fragano that "mistress" isn't the right word here.

#50 ::: Doctor Science ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 05:11 PM:

Black Gate's statement makes me think -- or at least hope -- that there may be a way out for both this year's Hugos and next, before any rules changes could take effect.

John O'Neill says this year's ballot "was largely dictated by a single individual, Vox Day". If we take Torgersen et al. at their word, that SP3 was unconnected with VD, we can re-state the problem this way:

1. Torgersen et al. published the SP3 slate.

2. VD tweaked the SP3 slate to include more Castalia House publications, and to include himself, twice(!), as editor.

3. VD then urged his fans to vote this Rabid slate *in its entirety*.

4. Analysis of the ballots indicates that the RP slate was more successful than the SP3 slate.

5. VD, in consequence, profits. In an actual monetary sense.

We can, if we choose, think of this as: the SP3 slate was hijacked by VD for his direct personal profit. There is nothing to stop this from happening again next year.

Unless the Hugo Committee rules that Castalia House engaged in unfair ballot stuffing, and bars it from elibility for the Hugos.

Does this approach have a leg to stand on? Is there any chance Torgersen, Correia, et al. would be willing to say, we were hijacked? Our efforts were exploited for personal gain by this one person, and we can't be having with that?

#51 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 05:21 PM:

I find 'VD' such an ugly term. Can't we agree to call it 'a social disease'?

#52 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 05:25 PM:

Doctor Science #50: The question is if Brad and Larry are willing and able to grab for the life-preserver. The problem is it doesn't actually get them out of the corner they've painted themselves into. They'd still be carrying their prior statements, they'd be throwing the Shared Puppy noms under the bus, and, perhaps most significantly, it would leave them facing the full fury of VD's narcissistic rage.

#53 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 05:31 PM:

Doctor Science writes: Is there any chance Torgersen, Correia, et al. would be willing to say, we were hijacked?

VD's slate was more successful than theirs - they are more likely to copy him next year than disavow him.

Don't forget that the Sad Puppies nominated Beale last year (for a story which was Eye of Argon bad).

#54 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 05:32 PM:

Can we not get into namecalling? I know it's tempting to get cute with terminology, particularly with someone who's been so very vexing and whose initials are so very inviting, but it's really not very good conversation.

Maybe call him by his surname if the initials bug you. Either one.

#55 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 05:37 PM:

abi, I will call him anything you like except Vox Dei.

And I'm a fucking atheist.

#56 ::: Doctor Science ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 05:38 PM:

I'll spell out Vox Day's nom henceforth, I'd gotten into the habit of using that abbreviation because he comments under it (at file770, for instance).

#57 ::: Doctor Science ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 05:43 PM:

To get back to my point:

a. Do the rules permit the Hugo committee to discard all Castalia House-associated entries, for illegal campaigning/ballot-stuffing?

b. Is it possible for someone to present this life-preserver to Torgersen/Correia/etc in such a way that they might grab it?

#58 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 05:52 PM:

I tend to refer to him as Day, or Beale. Just as I talk about Torgersen and Correia.

Like Dumbledore said about Voldemort, let's not get too into the name thing. It gives him power and specialness he doesn't deserve.

#59 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 05:56 PM:

Doctor Science, given their reluctance/refusal to acknowledge any actual verbal wrongdoing by Beale, I can't see them going for something more drastic like that.

#60 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 06:11 PM:

(For clarity: feel free to call him VD or TB; those are his initials. But I think wordplay on them is kind of a conversational dead end, and not a very useful one.)

#61 ::: Kelly Jennings ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 06:19 PM:

Re the belief of the puppies that they are being conspired against, here is a blog post from Lou Antonelli, linked to in the comments over at Journal of Impropriety, in which Antonelli provides what he considers evidence that Christian / Conservative writers are being blacklisted:

http://superversivesf.com/2015/04/08/one-got-away/

#62 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 06:19 PM:

Regardless of how Torgersen and Correia will or won't react to it, I feel that Doctor Science's suggestion of making explicit the link between VD, Castalia House and the Rabid Puppies campaign, and banning Castalia for economic shenanigans in future years at least, has a lot of merit.

(You know, viewed in this light, it's quite ironic that GamerGate joined in: this is exactly the kind of corruption they claim to be against.)

#63 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 06:20 PM:

In all honesty, I actually think the "Vox Day" == "Voice of Theo" thing is kind of clever. I tend to just refer to him as "Beale", however, not willing to do him the courtesy of using his chosen name.

#64 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 06:21 PM:

Lee #47:

First Rule of Secret Cabal: You DO NOT talk about Secret Cabal.

cf. "Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead." Benjamin Franklin

#65 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 06:21 PM:

I fail to see how Beale profits financially from this hijacking of the Hugo nominating process. Does he think that people will be buying his company's books in greater number? They won't.

He gets ego-boo, he gets the glee of nuking an award that has ignored him. Nothing else that I can see.

#66 ::: 'As You Know' Bob ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 06:25 PM:

Given that the Hugo Awards are of SOME financial worth, I'm wondering if WSFS should look into prosecuting Beale as an extortionist.

(How is Beale's "If 'No Award' takes a fiction category, you will likely never see another award given in that category again” NOT an explicit threat?)

(And maybe pursue the lot of 'em under racketeering/restraint of trade charges...)

#67 ::: Kelly Jennings ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 06:27 PM:

#65: Torgersen and Correia have both claimed they did "book bombs," encouraging people to buy books that were on their rec lists, and that people did. Were Beale's publications on those lists?

That would be profit.

#68 ::: Guesso ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 06:27 PM:

@Dr Science: They way to salvage next years hugos is to get the word out for people to join and nominate. Remind people that for $40 you get an awful lot of good reading material its a good deal. They only got a 300 or so people to sign up to nominate. If GRRM is onboard and tells people about the Hugos the number of people who vote will be high enough to counter act what they do. Also 2 of the people they nominated are popular authors. They likely got votes from their normal fan base as well. So its likely the number of votes they can get won't be all that high. If enough people nominate then other stuff will be nominated.

I really hope people don't trot out slates. I'm nominating what I enjoy to read. My reading tastes tend to be quite a bit different than alot of people who post on this forum.

#69 ::: Chris Lawson ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 06:30 PM:

Jeet Heer: glad to see you here -- that was a great article btw. My only gripe (which I'll keep small because it's not that crucial to the larger point) was conflating Asimov, Heinlein, Sturgeon, and Herbert as the same sort of hard-sf that Campbell published. Sturgeon and Herbert don't really fit that very well. If anything, it's an example of how the SP slate is so ridiculously ahistorical that they don't recognise that even Campbell, one of the pin-up boys for Golden Age hard sf, was willing to publish more "literary" works with overt non-conservative social agendas.

#70 ::: 'As You Know' Bob ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 06:31 PM:

beth meacham at #65:
I fail to see how Beale profits financially from this hijacking of the Hugo nominating process.

This whole sordid episode reminds of Carlo Cipolla's Basic Laws of Stupid Stupidity, especially
his Third Law:

A stupid person is a person who causes losses to another person or to a group of persons while himself deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses.

#71 ::: Russell Letson ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 06:50 PM:

@61: I'm not up to signing onto Antonelli's site just to post a one-liner, so I'll do it here. Any theory that Christians are blacklisted in the SF publishing world needs to account for Connie Willis, who spent more than a few years singing in church choir. I suspect that similar counter-examples abound.

#72 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 07:02 PM:

71
The late Randall Garrett also comes to mind, although I doubt the Puppies know of him. (He's another author published by Campbell who doesn't fit their mold.)

#73 ::: Kelly Jennings ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 07:12 PM:

The possibility that his story might have problems that kept it from being accepted was just dismissed out of hand. Unpossible!

This was noted over at J. Impropriety. I haven't read the actual story, just their review of it, but if what the review says is accurate -- it has a very slow start, and some obvious technical errors -- well.

I've read Anotelli's fiction elsewhere. He's not a bad writer. So I'm willing to believe this story was getting rejected because it needed editing / revision. Sad that he let himself be kept from seeing that.

#74 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 07:15 PM:

Russell Letson @71:
I suspect that similar counter-examples abound.

All but one of the front-page posters of this blog, for example.

#75 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 07:22 PM:

Doctor Science, #50:

You can take Correia and Torgersen at their word that they have nothing to do with VD, but...

They were in this with VD last year for SP2. Suddenly, they're "apart" from him with SP3. Why? This has never been explained. BT has never said "I had a discussion with VD and we decided to go our separate ways this year," or anything remotely like that. He's just said, "Hey, VD is doing his own thing, we have nothing to with what he does." But they certainly had plenty to do with him last year. Why aren't they doing so this year? No explanation.

Furthermore, BT left slots 5 under Short Form and Long Form Editor empty. Strange... since there are other editors of a conservative bent available to nominate. But if BT has agreed to leave those positions open for VD, so as to not put anyone else in competition with him, it makes perfect sense.

Note that in the comments section of the blog post where he claims to have solicited input for his slate, there are these suggestions for editor:

Vox Day and Tom Kratman, editors of Riding the Red Horse

Jason Rennie, editor of Sci Phi Journal #1 and #2 (4 nominations)

Jonathan Laden, Daily Science Fiction
Michele-Lee Barasso, Daily Science Fiction

Edmund R. Schubert, Intergalactic Medicine Show

Toni Weisskopf (4 nominations)

6 of 8 editors on the Sad Puppies slate are not nominated in the comments here; only Weisskopf and Schubert appear in both (Rennie does not appear to meet eligibility requirements). It's pretty odd that that 5th Short Form Editor slot was left empty rather than filled with one of the other editors who did get nominated in the comments, isn't it? Why wouldn't he fill that slot -- unless he'd agreed to leave it open for VD?


And I'm wondering why the Sad Puppies haven't denounced the use of their name in this graphic from VD's site, if they really don't have any connection with the Rabid Puppies. Why aren't they demanding that he remove their name from it?

#76 ::: Zora ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 07:24 PM:

I cannot think of any Christian SFF authors whose faith is front and center in their work (but it could be that I lead a sheltered life). I am momentarily surprised to hear that Connie Willis sings in her church choir -- though of course that seems perfectly congruent with whatever sense of the author I can glean from reading her books.

However, there are a fair number of authors who present *invented* religions that strike me as invent-able only by someone who cares deeply about spirituality. The Goblin Emperor, frex, has a protagonist who is doing his best to be a good person in the midst of temptation and danger ... and the lifeline he is holding is the religion, and the meditation practice, he learned from his mother. The Curse of Chalion has an invented religion that rings true to me (a Zen Buddhist). I loaned the book to someone else in my Buddhist sangha; he was so taken by the book that he gave copies to a number of his friends. Le Guin seems to hover between Taoism and Buddhism.

It is simply not true that SFF readers will reject anything that smacks of religion. The careers of Monette, Bujold, and Le Guin -- among others -- are a solid refutation of the claimed discrimination.

#78 ::: Tatterbots ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 07:36 PM:

The ballot has already been sent to the printers. Black Gate is still on it.

What happens now? I suppose I'll honour Black Gate's wishes and leave it out when I vote. It'll still be below No Award, but for a different reason.

(Weird. In preview mode, the href of my <a> tag vanished. I fixed it and the second preview was OK.)

#79 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 07:36 PM:

Zora@76: "I cannot think of any Christian SFF authors whose faith is front and center in their work"

I hope we're talking about modern authors, or C.S. Lewis will be *so* disappointed.

Katherine Kurtz is a well-known example of a fantasy author who put a version of her Catholic faith into her works. It's not meant to be real-life Catholicism but it's drawn from that well.

#80 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 07:45 PM:

Russell Letson #71, et seq. regarding "conspiracy against Christians: Any attempt to refute by example can be foiled by a "No True Scotsman" defense.

As far as Vox Day's threats... I'd say that no, they don't qualify as extortion, because he's made it clear that no matter what we do, his goal is and will remain destroying the Hugos. And you know, he might possibly succeed. I don't actually think he will, but there's always that chance.

But you know something else? If the Hugos, as an institution, are facing mortal threat... well, for institutions as for humans, there are better and worse ways to die. Suppose we do end up in 2020 with, say, "The Hugos were dominated by No Awards for 5 years running; in 2018 and 2019, the Worldcon Business Meetings voted to retire the awards on the basis that their voting protocols were no longer viable". I'd say that would be an institutional death with honor. Much better than, say, "the Hugos degenerated into a slate-packing competition until the Worldcon attendees lost interest and dispersed to other conventions".

#81 ::: philrm ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 07:46 PM:

JJ@77: Thank you!

#82 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 07:46 PM:

#61 ::: Kelly Jennings

I would say that one story simply isn't enough to test a theory like that.

This being said, if there is no mainstream sf with Christianity being true and/or with reasonably benign Christians as main characters, then a case could be made for prejudice.

Note that I'm talking about the fiction, not the authors.

Offhand, I can't think of any such fiction, but I hardly keep up with the whole field.

#83 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 07:47 PM:

The first Willis I ever read was The Doomsday Book, and I suppose that finding out she wasn't British might have made people mistakenly infer that she wasn't Christian either and just excellent at constructing seamless realities; but I certainly seem to remember that as a book which places Christianity front and center.

#84 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 07:48 PM:

Andrew Plotkin @ 79: I suspect the answer of the "Christians are discriminated against in sff" side would be something like "But you couldn't do that now." I think they're wrong, but for the life of me I can't think of a contemporary example--wait. I think the Lackey/Flint/Freer "Heirs of Alexandria" books have a pretty powerful and positive Christian-Catholic Church, including Warrior Defenders of the Faith. Of course, it's a Church that's been changed by alternate history, and there are a lot of Admirable Pagans running around, too, but still.

#85 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 07:53 PM:

Just remembered--Weber's Honor Harrington books have a lot of Christians in them, too. Again, the religious institutions are changed by history (I seem to remember that the Reformed Roman Catholic Church eventually decides to accept polygamy, for example), but that's what happens to institutions over a few thousand years. (Besides, Weber's social customs still seem pretty conservative to me, in lots of "unspoken" ways.)

Huh. Maybe I'm going to stop bothering coming up with examples. Seems maybe there are too many of them, not too few.

#86 ::: Nicklas ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 07:55 PM:

zora @76. The catholicsm of Gene Wolfe and Tim Powers' might not be their main theme, but it's noticable once one know about it.

#87 ::: Zora ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 07:57 PM:

#79, Andrew, thanks. I was forgetting the Inklings. Mostly thinking of current books.

#88 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 08:07 PM:

Is Julian May recent enough to be considered? Her Galactic Milieu books are fairly heavily steeped in a rather off-the-wall Teilhardian mysticism, and include at least one major sympathetic Christian character.

For that matter, although the church itself is mostly malevolent and antagonistic in Dan Simmons's Hyperion sequence, some of the individual Christian characters are sympathetic.

I happened to be re-reading George R. R. Martin's short story "The Way of Cross and Dragon" the other day, too - I'm not sure if it counts or not (which, I suppose, would be part of the point of the story.)

Guy Gavriel Kay? The Lions of al-Rassan has sympathetic characters of crypto-Christian, -Jewish and -Islamic faith....

OK, so those are a bunch of examples I came up with off the top of my head, I'm sure there must be others, and more recent.

#89 ::: Jim Parish ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 08:09 PM:

Quite a few of Willis' short stories have explicitly Christian themes - "Samaritan" comes to mind, but there are others as well. Of her novels, the ending of Passage is pretty explicit.

Julie Kenner's "Demon" series assumes a more-or-less Catholic world. (Her demon-hunters are a secret Vatican operation.)

Douglas Bell's Mojo and the Pickle Jar features a rather heterodox Catholicism as well. (That's maybe a little old, though - 1991.)

#90 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 08:10 PM:

[I wondered why this didn't post. I left in in one tab while reading the thread in another. It's a bit behind now, but here it is anyway.]

Russell, you've forgotten that their definition of 'Christian' excludes Connie Willis. She's not a real Christian, you see, because she really loves her neighbor as herself, which is forbidden; "real Christians" are supposed to hate people who love differently, worship differently, aren't completely happy with the gender they were assigned at birth and the associated roleplaying, and especially people who want to bring down Rome the domination of good wholesome Straight White Cis Malehoodom.

It's really a rather peculiar definition of the word.

#91 ::: Kelly Jennings ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 08:15 PM:

Mary Doria Russell's books, also.

#92 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 08:16 PM:

Zora @76, I take it you’re unfamiliar with the work of Gene Wolfe? His Roman Catholic faith is very much central to his work, even in the cases where he invents a futuristic religion. I don’t think he’s ever won a Hugo, but he’s been nominated several times.

#93 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 08:21 PM:

Gene Wolfe's "The Detective of Dreams" and "How the Whip Came Back" are just the first two of his stories I think of where Christianity really matters to the story, and is clearly true in the story.

Madeleine L'Engle isn't out of print. In fact I hear that the ongoing comic book adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time is doing well, and helping rejuvenate sales on the books.

Sean Stewart's Passion Play is a really moving, gripping story where differing, not always conflicting, interpretations of religious duty are crucial to the whole thing.

And so forth and so on.

#94 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 08:25 PM:

How about Mary Doria Russell's _The Sparrow_? It's largely about a Jesuit priest who was part of a Catholic Church-sponsored interstellar expedition. (I know, the puppies will dismiss it out of hand on the basis of the Tiptree Award.)

#95 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 08:41 PM:

There's been a Christian religious service on the schedule at every Worldcon I've attended.

Jim Butcher's devout, and the Dresden books have lots of Christian themes. He doesn't seem to be having trouble getting published.

#96 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 08:43 PM:

A.J. Luxton @ 83: Well, if we're talking about Willis, To Say Nothing of the Dog is about the rebuilding of Coventry Cathedral--and I remember positive, deeply faithful Christian characters in that one, too.

Xopher Halftongue @ 90: Yeah, Willis's Christianity (and of the best in human beings) is inclusive, opened-hearted, and kind. It's one of the reasons I love her books so much.

#97 ::: Doctor Science ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 09:04 PM:

beth meacham @35:

Vox Day's site is surging in popularity. He doesn't seem to be running ads on that page (to my surprise -- he's getting more or less the same traffic as scalzi.com, and that ain't cheap), but it must be driving traffic -- and book sales! -- to Castalia House, too.

It may be pure coincidence that the Pournelle deal was just announced, but the upshot of this all is that a brand-new publishing house "in Finland" is suddenly known to the entire SF community. Think what that is worth.

#98 ::: Doctor Science ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 09:08 PM:

JJ #75:

The solution I'm offering isn't so much based on taking them at their word, as it is on *acting* as though I believe them.

It's a solution designed to cover as many butts as possible -- while leaving Day's out to swing in the breeze.

#99 ::: Zora ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 09:14 PM:

Gene Wolfe ... many years ago I read The Shadow of the Torturer, thought the language beautiful, hated the book, never read anything of his again. Just bounced off.

I suppose it is no accident that being a Buddhist, I remember most clearly the books that touch that chord.

#100 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 09:52 PM:

Doctor Science, #98

And this is where you see the difference between rational people acting in good faith, and selfish, egotistical people wanting to "win" at any cost.

You or I, in BT's shoes, would think "Holy sh*t, I've really screwed things up, I did not see this being how things turned out, and this was not the end result I wanted", and we would apologize, and distance ourselves from VD, and do our best to fix the situation and make amends.

Offering them such a kind tactical retreat is a nice idea -- but there is no chance they will take you up on it. The way they see it, by offering this, you are admitting that you've "lost", and they will cackle gleefully while further committing themselves to their chosen course.

I would absolutely love to be proven wrong on this. But I don't see that happening.

#101 ::: ULTRAGOTHA ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 10:03 PM:

Cordelia Vorkosigan contains fountains of Christian honor.

Zenna Henderson. I live her stories.

#102 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 10:18 PM:

Zora, #76: Religion (not Christianity, but not all that distinct from it either) plays a very large role in much of Diane Duane's writing. The Young Wizards books and the Doors books share a religion, which also makes an appearance in at least one of her Trek books; the Romulans in the Rihannsu series are strongly religious in a different way.

#103 ::: Chris L ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 10:24 PM:

Religion seems to be a pretty big deal in Ancillary Sword. Of course, it's a lot more like classical Roman religion than modern Christianity...

#104 ::: Jeffrey Smith ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 10:36 PM:

Susan Palwick is a lay preacher and hospital chaplain, and her Christianity certainly informs her writings. I'm sure she'd be dismissed as a SJW, though -- despite the relative paucity of her award nominations.

#105 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 10:37 PM:

It is worth noting that a Christian author's work may have no explicit religion in it and still be formed by Christianity. Jane Austen was a daughter of the rectory and a devout high-and-dry Anglican, but from her novels one would think that the Church was important mainly as a source of livings; the impact of her religion lies in her moral framework, not cultic or theological elements.

#106 ::: ULTRAGOTHA ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 10:43 PM:

Also Joan Slonczewski. Just remembered her.

#107 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 10:45 PM:

I notice that Antonelli, in the post linked by Kelly Jennings@61, begins with the assumption that there is a blacklist and when his story is not accepted declares that his assertion is proven. An interesting firm of logic.
As can be seen in the many examples above, there is no blacklist, just as there is no secret cabal. Rather, it is all an extreme example of rationalizing what they see as an affront to their quite obviously fragile egos. Stories get rejected for all sorts of reasons. They may not be good enough or they may not be a good fit or maybe a similar story was just bought or ...
Lots of reasons. None of the reasons need to include secret cabals. Not in any sort of rational world.

#108 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 11:21 PM:

JJ #100: The thing is, the Sad Puppies' big problem is VD, and "distancing themselves" from him is doubly problematic: It would be a tough row to hoe with fandom, and as I said above, I'd expect VD himself to go into full-blown narcissistic rage, attacking the "traitors" far more viciously than any of his usual victims. That might well end with VD getting arrested and/or extradited, but in the meantime he could do a lot of damage to BT and LC personally, and they know it.

#109 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 11:32 PM:

It does appear that Correia and Torgersen are trying to disassociate themselves from the Rabid puppies. At the same time, they don't want to admit that their tactics (slate voting, not open democracy) were in any way wrong nor are they willing to say that there is anything particularly wrong with the RP's.
The tactic of slate voting is wrong. It results in less democracy, not more. There is no secret cabal and there is no blacklist. All of the assumptions upon which the Sad Puppies base their existence are mistaken. This is the central problem.
The existence of the Rabid Puppies is just another nasty stone they have tied around their own necks. Moving one stone behind your back out of the many that you hold does not make you end up with zero stones.

#110 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 11:45 PM:

Doctor Science@97:The Alexa data is an estimate and doesn't necessarily reflect a complete picture of website traffic. If a site hasn't installed the Alexa script, for example, the estimates become more of an estimate than a measurement and consequently (as with any of the free traffic estimator sites) YMMV.
And, of course, there are always ways to game the data if one is suitably inclined.

#111 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2015, 11:57 PM:

I find 'VD' such an ugly term. Can't we agree to call it 'a social disease'?

There are some spirochetes and crabs and bacteria and stuff, and they're all really angry because you compared them to Vox Day!

#112 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 12:04 AM:

The possibility that his story might have problems that kept it from being accepted was just dismissed out of hand. Unpossible!

Or maybe it had something to do with the classic SF trope about "souls trapped on a planet with a strong magnetic field."

By Yama, Kali, and Kubera, that sounds familiar!

#113 ::: Jaymie ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 12:09 AM:

Adding to the list of Christian writers, there is Paul Cornell, who included religious themes in British Summertime.

#114 ::: Martin Schafer ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 12:09 AM:

Laurell Hamilton's Anita Blake is a Christian and faith has real effect in the books.

#115 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 12:15 AM:

And there's that heroine of John Ringo's who's into Jesus in a really big way. Of course, the heroine is happily tolerant of her Pagan sidekick's religion, so maybe she doesn't count as Christian. And Ringo is published by Baen, which may make the whole thing moot.

#116 ::: Iphinome ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 12:21 AM:

And another christian (and choir singer) SFF writer Elizabeth Moon, granted The Speed of Dark merely won a Nebula and not a Hugo but her protagonist did make church a major part of his life.

Maybe she doesn't count either?

#117 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 12:26 AM:

#76 Zora

I cannot think of any Christian SFF authors whose faith is front and center in their work

James D. Macdonald--the name might be familiar here on Making Light...
The ones obvious enough even for me to notice, are the Father Peter Crossman stroies.
Katherine Kurtz--the religiosity in her work certainly didn't seem to hurt her sales!
She edited several anthologies focuses on Templars fantasy--that's NOT Christian SF/F??!
Elizabeth Moon--while her Paksennarion's world books the characters aren't Christian, there are some very definite very Christian themes running through them
David Weber, in his Honor Harrington books

There are TONS of urban fantasy and paranormal romance writers who have Christianity very firmly in their books, including e.g. bestselling writer Lori Foster, who wrote a couple of books which went past my tolerance limit as regards the religious theme takeover

Kathy Tyers, the republication of Firebird and ,Fusion Fire by Bethany Press, an outright Christian press which publishes Christian SF/F, was heavily changed from the publication by Bantam. From my perspective, it was not an improvement.

Behold the Man by Michael Moorcock is very much focused on Christianity.

Laurell K Hamilton is not Christian, but her character Anita Blake is.

I have no idea regarding Jim Butcher's religious level, however, there's very definitely Christianity all over The Dresden File books. (see above, regarding "Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance are full of books with explicit Christianity in them")

Christianity ("the White Christ") was a theme in some of Poul Anderson's books--his first novel, The Broken Sword, took place in the time of the transition to Christinity of the Vikings on Great Britain. The lead characters in The High Crusade were British Christians who were sort of abducted by aliens. The Merman's Children was another book about Chrisitianity superseding the older beliefs, and Three Hearts and Three Lions there's also the conflight of Christendom versus Faerie.

There's a current trilogy by Jill Archer which are among my current favorite recent books, which are set a millennium or two after the forces of Lucifer me the forces of the Savior, the former more or less won and the descendants of the survivors are collaboratoring. (What saved it for me from 'Oh, no, not another one of those Our Heroine is the first/only female to have what's supposed to be a gender-linked male-only form of magic! stories," is that Our Heroine has a twin brother, and he got the supposed to be sex-linked-female only magic talents....

#118 ::: jnfr ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 12:56 AM:

Zora @99

That's the response I had to that book as well.

#119 ::: Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 03:28 AM:

@82: There is A Canticle for Leibowitz and A Case of Conscience, both of which I would say meet both criteria. But I suppose that they are both sort of old.

#120 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 04:00 AM:

One of the most powerful pieces of Catholic Christian writing I have ever read is an SF story: "Curious Elation", by Michael Cassutt, in the anthology Sacred Visions. Knocked my socks off.

#121 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 05:17 AM:

Fragano @44 - It is a fantasy story. Perhaps the sun is literally held up by it's rays?

(It's an awkward metaphor that uses a lot of words to get not much more effect than saying "The tired autumn sun was setting." But I don't think it's actually confusing.)

#122 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 05:49 AM:

I'm just wondering where the pictures of Desultory Philip are.

#123 ::: Ken Josenhans ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 08:05 AM:

Zora in #76, resulting in an enumeration of Christian SF & fantasy writers:

No longer living, but R.A.Lafferty's work was strongly shaped by Catholicism. (Lafferty's recent centenary was noted in the Making Light sidebar links, so I expect he is somewhat popular among some of the participants here.)

A thought experiment: Suppose R.A. Lafferty had lived 20-30 years later, so he could have become a prolific blogger. Would we still love him?

#124 ::: Danny Sichel ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 08:15 AM:

Paula@117 - while I'll grant that "Behold the Man" was about Christianity, to call it a "religious" work seems a little disingenuous.

#125 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 08:34 AM:

Danny @124 - "Behold the Man" asks several notably awkward questions about Christianity, the sort of questions those of us who are Christians ought to have some good answers to. I don't find anything disrespectful in something that makes me think about my religion.

It's a story that's about religion. Does that qualify it as a religious story? ... I don't know.

#126 ::: venus ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 09:05 AM:

For Christian SFF writers, my personal favorite is the already-mentioned Willis. In addition to the other stories, Blackout/All Clear has a very lovely story-line involving a vicar. He's portrayed very positively in a way I won't spoil.

I'm surprised, however, that no one has yet mentioned the Space Whale Rape story. Surely that counts as Christian SF. It won an award and everything! (OK, maybe everybody just blacked it out--good job to their memories if so.)

#127 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 09:22 AM:

Blackout/All Clear shows a timeline adjustment process which looks pretty heavily like Christian Providence; if anything it's more thoroughly Christian than the slipped-in reference to crosses at the end of Passage.

There is a difference, though, between stories with religious content (i.e. are either about religion or posit the in-story truth of a real-world religion) and stories written with a religious motivation (even if one which is subtle or veiled).

In particular, the subset of horror which deals with vampires long ago domesticated a model in which crucifixes and holy water have special powers, and this extends into some forms of urban fantasy which play off those tropes. (Buffy isn't a deliberately Christian universe, and Angel refers only to the Powers That Be, but Buffy's supplies shown in some credit sequences include holy water, crucifixes, and (presumably consecrated) Hosts.)

Similar caveats apply to some fantasy set in the old Matters: Britain and France, at least, unless the treatment is deliberately subversive of the frame. The Grail is real in T.H. White; Harold Shea runs into actual Norse gods as part of his adventures, but one would have to assume that when he visits the world of the Orlando Furioso (Matter of France) he's in a domain where the Christian God is unusually directly active.

#128 ::: JFW Richards ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 09:25 AM:

Christopher Stasheff's Warlock series has a Christian background with plots relying on the universality of the Vatican for their resolution.

regards
JFWR

#129 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 09:32 AM:

Doctor Science @50 Is there any chance Torgersen, Correia, et al. would be willing to say, we were hijacked?

I think it unlikely that they will break with VD at this point.

IF they are pragmatic, they will have had a look at him since SP3 and decided they're comfortable to sit where they are with him; after all he's not got noticeably worse (although the self-promotion is a little more pronounced and obvious) so there's no reason to change plans now.

IF they are loyal to a fault, they aren't going to throw him out without him giving them a good reason.

IF they are believers in their own cause, they aren't going to break with him until the ballots are cast and the results known because they might need him as an ally next year, and they might agree on a joint strategy.

IF they are self-promoters they might break with him... but not until the ballots are cast and the results known. That's the time* to be generous in either victory or defeat, to make themselves look like people of good will.

All of this assumes that they want to make a break or are even uncomfortable with him. Even if they think he's an arsehole, he's an arsehole pointed in the direction of their opponents.

--
Meanwhile for religious, and indeed Christian SF, there's also David Feintuch**'s Seafort Saga.

* The other possible time would be at the launch of SP4, but my personal opinion is that it is likely to be an attempt at an inclusive process, so they will be welcoming people with open arms rather than excluding anyone.
** Campbell award winner

#130 ::: Michael Eochaidh ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 09:56 AM:

Nicklas @86: There was some pretty overt Christian imagery in the Book of the New/Long Sun. If *I* got it, it had to be pretty obvious.

#131 ::: Kennedy Trengove ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 10:28 AM:

Is this an open thread or almost one? I've only recently started reading (thanks, HBO, tune in for a TV show, get an epic novel series that's unfinished) GRRM.

I really find the multi-narrator "POV" character style interesting.

Is there anyone who can share some literary history on this, especially in the genre? Is this an innovation?

#132 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 10:30 AM:

I haven't read A Song of Ice and Fire, but if you want works in the past of the genre that patch together a broader story using multiple viewpoints, any of the Niven/Pournelle bricks (Footfall, Lucifer's Hammer, et al) are good examples to explore.

#133 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 10:33 AM:

My feeling is that SFF is actually more hospitable to religion now than it was in the Golden Age: there was considerable doubt at the time over whether Lewis's planetary trilogy was Real Science Fiction, which I think wouldn't arise in the same way now, as the concept of the field has broadened.

#134 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 10:39 AM:

Philip K. Dick used it in a lot of his novels, none of which are 'epics' the way Martin or Niven/Pournelle's books are. I've seen his use referred to as innovative, which surprises me a bit as it doesn't seem that unintuitive an approach, but it seems to run against prevailing concepts of the literary unities.

#135 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 10:44 AM:

I see that Beale's added an explicit "It's Making Light's fault" line to his enemies list. Looks like the offense in question is Teresa's Nebula comments from March 2005.

I keep being surprised, every so often, by just how thin the skins of a lot of hate mongers are. Seems like they could use some toughening up with me in a callout culture. :)

#136 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 10:45 AM:

Where "it" at @134 is a multiple-POV approach, if that wasn't clear.

#137 ::: Stephen Rochelle ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 10:45 AM:

Weber's Harrington books certainly have Christianity through them, but they've got nothing on his Safehold series, which can loosely be summed up as "How does vs how should the Church exist in the world". It's a multi-volume expansion of "Woe to you, you Pharisees, you hypocrites!" with a good bit of C.S. Lewis' salvation theology from The Last Battle thrown in.

And per his Wikipedia page, Weber is a United Methodist lay pastor, which isn't "ordained clergy", but does involve a good bit of study and certification.

It doesn't do the SP claims around conservativism/religion much good that this series is published by Tor and edited by PNH.

#138 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 10:48 AM:

Re: religions in SF, what may not be obvious to people not raised deep in a given Christian sect is that sometimes it's clear what religion the author is rubbing off the serial numbers from to make their own.

Chalion's religion is deeply Catholic in its entire setup, aside from the doctrine. The way their clergy, priesthood, rituals, etc work are all very, very Catholic.

Harry Potter partakes of a deeply Anglican worldview, even though sensu strictu we see no particular religious observances on-screen.

For an alternate view that might weird you a bit, the Tikanu world is clearly a Jewish religious fantasy (without containing any actual Judaism per se).

#139 ::: Jim Parish ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 10:54 AM:

Bruce Baugh @135: it's interesting that, in that very post, the first person to come to Beale's defense is... John Scalzi.

#140 ::: Iphinome ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 11:00 AM:

@132 Elliott Mason

If you're interested in head hopping POV here's another vote for Webber's Honorverse books. For just plain Different POVs in different chapters you can go all the way back to Victor Hugo's Les Miserables. The first three novellas that pass for chapters are Third person Narrator+The Bishop, Jean Valjean and Fantine for POV. Go back much further and you start to lose the modern novel format

#141 ::: Iphinome ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 11:02 AM:

My very bad, that should have been to post 131. I prostate myself before the alter of stupid unchecked posts.

#142 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 11:06 AM:

Marie Brennan's dragon books contain a quite a lot of religion. (The shape of the religious world is clearly inspired by Catholicism v. Protestantism, but the actual content of the religion owes more to Judaism.)

Also, as Abi mentioned a while ago (perhaps during the previous iteration of this debate?) there is quite a lot of work which makes use of Islam - directly in Alif the Unseen; indirectly, through a secondary-world parallel, in Throne of the Crescent Moon.

#143 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 11:25 AM:

#131 Kennedy

"Head-hopping" is not new, C. J. Cherryh did it in Downbelow Station which has rather more than a dozen viewpoint characters, and it was done even more massively by John Brunner in Stand on Zanzibar more than 40 years ago.

#144 ::: rcade ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 11:26 AM:

Fundies Say The Darndest Things has an archive of John C. Wright quotes going back to 2012 with 53 entries.

http://www.fstdt.com/Search.aspx?Fundie=John+C.+Wright

This passage is my favorite thus far: "the female womb is desecrated and insulted if a male thrusts his male member into any other orifice aside from the life-giving womb ..."

#145 ::: Michael Eochaidh ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 11:36 AM:

Iphinome @140: I saw a Pocket edition of Les Miserables in Montreal or Quebec City last year. I want to know whose pocket that would fit in.

#146 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 11:37 AM:

As a womb-bearing individual, my reaction to the thought of thrusting a male member into a womb is OW OW OW OW OUCH.

See also "things men apparently don't know about human anatomy".

#147 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 11:42 AM:

Alex R #111: Crabs? What a lousy thing to say!

#148 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 11:43 AM:

Neil W #121: I now have an image in my head of the trickster god grabbing the sun by a ray and throwing it a long, long, long way.

#149 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 11:48 AM:

For multiple viewpoints, the classics in the SF field are Brunner's USA trilogy: and STAND ON ZANZIBAR was a serious award winner. I recommend it highly (though some bits are seriously dated).

#150 ::: venus ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 11:51 AM:

Elliott Mason @146 That was my thought exactly: OWWWW. Mr Wright must needs an anatomy textbook, stat.

It's also giving me wandering womb flashbacks, which isn't something I expected to have from a modern writer.

#151 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 12:07 PM:

And here I thought men of Mr. Wright's ilk were all up in arms because they weren't getting enough blowjobs.

I must have him confused with some other kind of misogynist.

#152 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 12:16 PM:

@David Harmon #80, Xopher Halftongue #90: Yes, the "Christianity isn't welcome in modern SF" thing generally boils down to "My modern U.S Christian subculture and the modern doctrines that underlie it* are not explicitly preached as the best and indeed the only way to live, therefore this book is against me." These are the people Fred Clark sarcastically calls Real True Christians. They are Christian; unless and until a professed Christian preaches something that denies the old Creeds, I can't say otherwise. But this cradle-Christian Sunday school teacher is not a Real True Christian. If you want to get a good look at Real True Christianity's naked id, read the Left Behind novels.


*Young-Earth creationism, woman-only submission more or less thinly veiled, dispensationalism, yadda yadda yadda. A stew of half-educated Bible hopscotch and warmed-over Victorian ad copy loudly preached as though it were ancient bedrock, which, no.

#153 ::: ULTRAGOTHA ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 12:22 PM:

@146 Elliott Mason
As a womb-bearing individual, my reaction to the thought of thrusting a male member into a womb is OW OW OW OW OUCH.

Isn't that Larry Niven's Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex?

Then there is the politician who wants doctors to look at uteri via a swallowed camera.

Did they fall asleep in human anatomy?

#154 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 12:32 PM:

JIm #139 - but then Scalzi and Beale get into a fight later on...

#155 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 12:34 PM:

Kennedy Trengove @ 131: My SF favorites of the genre are Fritz Leiber's The Wanderer and John Barnes' Mother of Storms. They both have fairly graphic content, both of sex and of violence, for their times, which says something about how times have changed. I still find one sub-plot of Mother of Storms disturbing. The Wanderer, I'm comfortable with.

Outside SF, you can't beat Ken Kesey's Sometimes A Great Notion.

#156 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 12:40 PM:

#149 Tom

I didn't mention it, but As You Know, Tom, both Stand on Zanzibar and Downbelow Station are Hugo winners.

The latter is unabashed space opera of Scope, with space battles and soldiers all about, scared/terrified civilians, corrupt politicians, some non-corrupt politicians, heroic ship crew, conspiracies, aliens....

Stand on Zanzibar is sociopoliticial future extrapolation, for the tine it was published. (So much for Puppy claims of how Message fiction and social fiction and experimental/literary fiction and single point of view writing were not characteristics of in Hugo Finalists...)

#157 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 12:41 PM:

Elliot Mason #146: Er, some of us know about the existence of the cervix. Not all women are built equally, and, well, to make a long story very short, glandular bruising has been known to happen as a result of what might best be called youthful enthusiasm. But that was a long time ago, in a galaxy, er, country far, far away.

#158 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 12:48 PM:

And besides, the wench has found someone more compatible?

#159 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 12:49 PM:

Potential nominee for next year's Hugos. "In the tradition of Shadow War of the Night Dragons" - Weekly Publishers

warning: link to Zuckerland

#160 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 01:05 PM:

Jenny Islander @152 Yes, the "Christianity isn't welcome in modern SF" thing generally boils down to "My modern U.S Christian subculture and the modern doctrines that underlie it* are not explicitly preached as the best and indeed the only way to live

This is not directed specifically to Jenny, but to the subthread.

I am uncomfortable with the extent to which we are mocking people for saying that they feel unwelcome within SFF. Because I can remember a time when I felt that paganism or Judaism or Baha'i or Buddhism or invented religions might be treated respectfully in SFF books and stories, but the odds were excellent that any random Christian or Christian-analog character I encountered would turn out to be a fraud, a hypocrite, a bigot, or a gullible fool. By what I remember I was reading at the time, I'm placing that late 80s early 90s. I do think it's better now, as evidenced by a number of the examples people are citing (and some of those date back to the time I remember and were things I didn't see at the time.) But we ("we" as in the regular commenters here at ML) argue against there needing to be a plot purpose for a character being a person of color or LGBTQ, and I think there's still an extent to which there seems to need to be a point if a character is described as having an active religious faith. I think it's true that the unmarked state is secular.

Clearly we (we as in big-tent-fandom) can't accommodate "I feel unwelcome if anyone disagrees with me." But I think there are people whose demands don't go that far who nevertheless feel like they are being given voice by some of what the SP say. And I don't think "We will relentlessly snark at you until you understand that you are perfectly welcome" serves our purpose.

#161 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 01:15 PM:

Bruce@135:Interesting that a 10 year old thread apparently continues to gall Beale so much--especially when he repeatedly claimed victory.

#162 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 01:24 PM:

Per OtterB @160: nope, mocking other folks' beliefs in public really isn't a good idea. (Even if you think they're eminently mockable.) Even leaving aside the physical risk inherent in tackling a group who might respond to you the way the Iranian theological establishment responded to Salman Rushdie, there's the added point that it is just as tasteless to take a swipe at someone's emotional crutch as it is to kick at a physical crutch.

(By all means engage in argument with people who want one. But going after people who don't just isn't appropriate.)

Motivational hypothesis: One thing I have noticed is that there seem to be a lot of loudly self-proclaimed Christians in the US who seem to be suspicious or mistrustful of any and all elements of popular culture -- especially works of fiction. To the extent that Beale et al loudly proclaim their own religious affiliation and also loudly complain that there isn't enough of the right kind of fiction present on award ballots ... could their complaint be a side-effect of perceiving themselves to be embattled within their own faith community? That is: they'd like to be able to be proud of their fiction within their own doctrinal community, but the visibility of work that doesn't fit within the same world-view undermines their claim to legitimacy among their fellows, so they respond to it as a threat?

#163 ::: Seth Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 01:26 PM:

beth meacham @ 65: Day can go to conservative audiences that have no particular interest in SF and say “I made the SJWs turn purple with rage! Buy my books!” There are some people who would go for that marketing pitch, regardless of the content of the books for sale.

#164 ::: Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 01:30 PM:

@160: Off hand I can think of 3 SF books that could be described as anti-Christian - Heinlein's Revolt in 2100, Heinlein's Job, and Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. By reputation Pullman's His Dark Materials would be a 4th.

In Kurtz's Camber trilogy, and Forschten's Ice Prophet trilogy both the heroes and villains are Catholic expies.

Note the presence of the right's darling Heinlein and Newt Gingrich's collaborator Forschten above.

If anything I'd think it's work from earlier than the 80's that tends to be antireligious - work's like Asimov's Foundation or (IIRC) Leiber's Gather Darkness treats religion as an instrument of social control.

#165 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 01:38 PM:

There's a lot of highly specific Judaism in Harry Turtledove's writings. But of course that doesn't count.

#166 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 01:43 PM:

I think there's a distinction to be made between "Christian content is the inevitable kiss of death in SF&F publishing", which is a Puppy contention that this thread disproves, and "Some Christians feel uncomfortable with attitudes in SF&F—and the fannish community—toward their faith."

I've certainly had to turn down my own sensitivities to read some books and authors, and there are some where I've decided I really can't be bothered. (I never finished Pullman's series, frex.) And I've had moments of powerful discomfort, even within our small community, about the ways that religion get discussed. It is an area of conflict, no lie.

(I tend to think that Christianity, being the dominant culture, can take a little slagging off. But sometimes I have to mute a few people on Twitter, when I'm not feeling up to it personally.)

But that's not to say that explicitly or implicitly theistic, religious, and Christian stories aren't out there, being bought by editors and readers alike. Like The High House and The False House by James Stoddard, which I forgot to mention earlier.

#167 ::: Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 01:43 PM:

@165: The protagonist in Agent of Byzantium is a devout Orthodox Christian.

#168 ::: rcade ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 01:44 PM:

Brad Torgersen's since-deleted blog post "The Science Fiction Civil War" has made it into Google's cache, and it's everything I thought it would be.

A taste:

"The silhouette of Larry Correia stands on a lonely knoll, his beard jutting proudly like Robert E. Lee's -- or is it Ulysses S. Grant's? ...

"I knew the moment I took up the flag for Sad Puppies 3, that I was sacrificing forever any chance of ever being a Hugo award winner. There would be no forgiveness. Not from the traditionalists who jealously guard their trophy and consider all complaints against it to be heresy. But I was resolved. ...

"What's left for a man now is to do what his heart, and God, tell him is right."

I put the whole thing on my blog.

#169 ::: venus ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 01:49 PM:

OtterB @160 Religion is a complex, often painful topic. I genuinely believe your feelings of exclusion, but at the same time, I have seen firsthand the dynamic Jenny talks about.

I have been gently chided by Christians when I say that my overall (not entire, but overall) personal experience of Christianity has been bigoted. I understand their hurt feelings. I'm sorry that it occurs. I believe their feelings to be genuine.

At the same time, I'm queer in the Bible Belt. I was raised Catholic. On the recent anniversary of my grandmother's death, a (non-local) dear friend suggested I try looking for a Catholic church again. Things have changed, she said, more congregations are welcoming. I could go and pray for my grandmother, safely, perhaps, and feel welcome.

I looked up my state on the usual LGBT lists. There is no LGBT-friendly Catholic church for my state. The next state over, yes. Mine, no.

If I were to write a story and I included my genuine experiences, that my local church is bigoted, that would be true. I know that it would also hurt the feelings of some Christians and Catholics--who are *not* bigoted. Their feelings matter. But at the same time, I feel very much like it is not upon the oppressed (or recently oppressed) to fix the feelings of those who have recently held sway.

It's a complex issue that I feel primarily lends itself to in-person solutions of quiet shared fellowship rather than online discussion. Maybe others have better answers.

One of the examples of the dynamic Jenny mentions, that I've seen personally, again locally, are Christians who were angry that their local check-out clerk said, 'Happy Holidays' instead of 'Merry Christmas.' Their feelings were genuinely hurt--but at the same time, they'd have flipped their minds if anyone wished them Happy Hannukah. (Much less anything Muslim.) It's complicated and hard, and I don't think there are easy answers. Would I like my local Catholic community to read and be welcome in SF? Yes. But *I'd* also like to be welcome, both in SF and in Catholicism. I don't know. I wish I knew a better solution to make more people feel welcomed, without sacrificing the experiences on either side.

#170 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 01:52 PM:

There's the Anglican pastor in Charlie Stross's last 2-3 Laundry novels. I can't help but wonder about his participation in future volumes. Jung unccraf va gur shgher jura Obo fnlf, "Crgr, jr arrq lbh gb trg hf fbzr pbafrpengrq ubfgf."

Or is that not a thing? I've never been to an Anglican service.

#171 ::: pedantka ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 01:55 PM:

Charlie @162: This is, I think, part of it; the other side of the coin is that Christian writers-of-fiction have tended to point to its potential effectiveness as an evangelistic tool (C. S. Lewis was the most quotable on this point, of course).

There was a chap at Zurich who did a PhD on this a few years back, let me see if it's been published. Hmm--yes, but it's a pretty steep cover price for the volume:
http://www.v-r.de/en/transfiguring_transcendence_in_harry_potter_his_dark_materials_and_left_behind/t-409/1008841/
Chapter 5 is the interesting one. Worldcat tells me there's a copy at Sheffield.

I've been thinking privately that this is likely the source of the resentment over lack of recognition: the first part of good evangelism is to build an audience.

#172 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 01:56 PM:

Alex @170: I've no idea if that's a thing or not, I am an atheist who was raised in a minority sect of a non-Christian faith.

#173 ::: jnfr ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 01:59 PM:

I am reading that from the cache, rcade, and it's interesting that in his analogy he's explicitly identifying with Fort Sumter, the 'grays', the secessionists. It's all of a piece, of course, but I'm still always surprised to see people advocate and identify with treason so openly.

#174 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 02:07 PM:

venus @169 I didn't mean to make it sound like I currently feel excluded; I don't. Even at the time when this was bothering me, at most I felt mildly annoyed. I don't equate that with the experiences of people who've been verbally or physically attacked for their color, gender identity, sexuality, etc., and I agree that in US culture in general there continue to be an oversupply of so-called Christians being public jerks. But ... it felt like the pendulum in this discussion had swung too far the other way, into "You feel excluded? You can't possibly mean that." I have come close enough to feeling excluded that it made me uncomfortable to think that ML as a group could be perpetuating that feeling for some.

#175 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 02:10 PM:

I've no idea if that's a thing or not, I am an atheist who was raised in a minority sect of a non-Christian faith.

I just thought it would be funny, and ROT-13ed the idea in case I was accidentally posting a spoiler.

#176 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 02:12 PM:

Regarding "file the serial numbers off of Christianity" fiction, TVtropes has a pretty extensive list in their Crystal Dragon Jesus article.

One of my favourite SF stories is about a Catholic priest on a space station, but the writer was Jewish, so I'm not sure if that counts towards the original categorization; Christianity was front and centre in the story, but it wasn't the author's Christianity.

I'm not a Christian myself (I have one CofE parent and one non-theistic parent who decided the best strategy was to give their daughters all the information available and let us make up our own minds, and they wound up with one of each), but I suspect that any imaginary religion I came up with would bear at least some resemblance to either Roman Catholicism* or the Church of England, because that's the environment I grew up in - Christmas, Easter eggs, etc - and the Christian stories and rites are the ones I'm the most familiar with. I sort of got them by osmosis, while any familiarity I have with, say, Hinduism, is familiarity I've had to actively seek out.

*the area in which I grew up has RC as the most-dominant religion by a long shot.

#177 ::: rea ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 02:14 PM:

Tom @149: "For multiple viewpoints, the classics in the SF field are Brunner's USA trilogy.

Dos Passo wrote the USA trilogy, which isn't particularly SF. Brunner, was strongly influenced by Dos Passos' style, particularly with regard to multiple viewpoints. But Brunner didn't write the trilogy.

#178 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 02:15 PM:

Christianity in SF/F -- this is also older, but you can't get much more Christian than the Lord Darcy stories, in which Western European magic is strictly under control of the Catholic Church, and other traditions tend to be the bad guys.

Neil, #129: The SPs may be trying (unsuccessfully) to distance themselves from VD, but one notes that they have not repudiated him. Nor do I expect them to; he is SO toxic, even on casual reading, that I can't imagine anyone being willing to ally with him at all if they were not at least partially in sympathy with even his most noxious views.

Kennedy, #131: There's quite a bit of multiple-POV in a lot of relatively recent series*, but I'd have to think back to see if I recall much older work that uses it. Hmmm, Piers Anthony did a series of 7 books that were all the same story but each book told it from the POV of a different character, if that counts. C.S. Friedman's This Alien Shore is a good example of multi-POV.

John A., #155: If you didn't find that sub-plot deeply disturbing, there would be something very wrong with you.

Fragano, #157: Not all men are built equally either, and the further implications of that are left as an exercise for the reader.


* David Weber's Honor Harrington, S.M. Stirling's Changed World, Mercedes Lackey's Mage Storms trilogy, off the top of my head. Doranna Durgin's Dun Lady's Jess might be an earlier example.

#179 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 02:17 PM:

Alex R. @ 170 It is a thing (speaking as an active Anglo-Catholic). We have locks on our tabernacles and take security quite seriously.

However, my impression of the Laundryverse is that there's no power in symbols /sacraments in that way, except for the ones which point to the really unpleasant powers a few universes over, so the question wouldn't come up (as with the rites in The Fuller Memorandum and The Apocalypse Codex).

If there were known beneficent powers they wouldn't be preparing for Case Nightmare Green with Scorpion Stare cameras: they'd be backing a massive religious revival (or set of revivals) of the right sort to ramp up the allies' power.

#180 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 02:23 PM:

For multi-POV taken to an extreme there's always Illuminatus!, where a sentence can start in one POV and end up in another.

#181 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 02:26 PM:

@135

That's one mighty grudge - I can barely remember where I was 9 years ago let alone who I thought wronged me at the time.

#182 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 02:31 PM:

jnfr, #173: That's because the people who make that identification redefine it as "patriotism". As practiced by Real True Patriots, of course.

A fair amount of Arthur C. Clarke's work has Christian themes to a greater or lesser extent -- culminating (IMO) in "The Star".

#183 ::: Rail ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 02:48 PM:

OtterB @160:

I grew up in the middle of the proto-RTC* of the time. I had the distinct impression that a lot of the portrayal of Christians and Christian analogs in the SF&F I read was in response to the moral panics that accompanied the rise of the RTC subculture.

*I was still an active church member when they started really pushing their shadow economy.

#184 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 02:51 PM:

Rail @183 RTC?

#185 ::: Kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 02:59 PM:

162, Charlie,
t there seem to be a lot of loudly self-proclaimed Christians in the US who seem to be suspicious or mistrustful of any and all elements of popular culture -- especially works of fiction. To the extent that Beale et al loudly proclaim their own religious affiliation and also loudly complain that there isn't enough of the right kind of fiction present on award ballots ... could their complaint be a side-effect of perceiving themselves to be embattled within their own faith community? That is: they'd like to be able to be proud of their fiction within their own doctrinal community, but the visibility of work that doesn't fit within the same world-view undermines their claim to legitimacy among their fellows, so they respond to it as a threat?
Pretty much this, for some folk.

Back in the eighties, with the satanic panic nonsense, you had devout-ish nerds who looked to Tolkein & Lewis as legitimizing authority for liking stuff like D&D. My grandmother, a very reasonable person, a mainline Protestant (read: socially & theologically liberal) was quite concerned that I was going to lose my faith by playing that. I was more concerned that she or my mom would find out about the naughty illustrations in the books and supplements. I went to school with and later worked with more conservative Midwestern Christian types, so I had to continually dodge nebulous "bad implications" through the 1990's. I'm not part of that world now, so I can't report further, but if you grew up in that context, there's a definite loss over time as your "legitimizing authors" have faded from relevance.

I think there is all kinds of loss behind the conservative-ish way of thinking. Time steals things you love, and reveals your heroes to have feet of clay, shows your weakness and ignorance of the world when you thought you had figured it out. My way of life when I was a child is gone, and I mourn that as best I can. I might be transformed into a bitter reactionary otherwise. I do wish for the old world where I could genuinely assume a common faith, but I don't mourn the loss of the assumed common racism, or sexism, or anti communist paranoia.

In my own life, I can see the Midwestern town that I grew up in, and then left is completely transformed. Every restaurant I ate at, most of my schools, the mall I shopped at, even some of the cultural institutions are gone, literally leveled in some cases. The trolleys are now sterile light rail, my dad's office building is remodeled, and everyone who knew me then are dead or moved. I could so easily slip into blame, but loss is loss. The pattern I see, when I compare that town to the one on the coast I also knew as a child is this: jobs fled the Midwest, but the coastal town remains rich in opportunity, and fewer negative changes have occurred. If there's a conservative streak to middle America, it's exacerbated by the economic changes since 1980. That's two generations of writers right there, who would have been formed by those losses, and probably a good explanation for the lump of gen x conservatives.

Tangentially, I do feel saddened by folks bagging on any religion, not just mine. Insulting someone's faith is like saying bad things about their mom: just don't do it. I don't have a problem with critiquing religion, or practices, or theologies, but some minimal level of respect is needed. I can't negotiate an understanding of religion as risible.

#186 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 03:01 PM:

jnfr @173 Well, if they'd claimed to be the Union, we'd be all like "Nuh-uh, we're the union," and the SP's would be "No, we claimed it first, you want to take all our stuff and make it terrible like always," and the whole thing would turn into a peculiar metaphor for the whole shebang*. At least this way they can have the Confederacy.

* Or just peculiar for those of us not from the US

#187 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 03:05 PM:

RTC--Religious Technology Center? (Aka, something to do with the Church of Scientology?)

#188 ::: Rail ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 03:06 PM:

OtterB @ 184: Real True Christians.

So called because they will forcefully tell you that their tribe at the only true Christians.

#189 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 03:08 PM:

Jaymie @ #113: Paul Cornell, who included religious themes in British Summertime. Ooh, I only knew Cornell from his Dr. Who tie-in novels, must look into his other work.


Derwin Mak’s “Mecha-Jesus” deals with Japanese syncretic religion as well as AIs, and the PoV character is an intelligent and sympathetic Jesuit, but American protestants might not view it kindly (Father Ito keeps having to explain to an American missionary that gur ivyyntref jub pbzzvffvbarq Zrpu-Wrfhf nera'g urergvpny Puevfgvnaf, gurl'er Fuvagbvfgf jub erirer Wrfhf nf n xnzv.)

#190 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 03:10 PM:

Alex R. @ #175: Yeah, Turtledove has a PhD in Byzantine History (Videssos is pretty thinly disguised Byzantium). But see for example In The Presence of Mine Enemies.

#191 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 03:13 PM:

Sturgeon's Godbody had one chapter for each point of view.

#164 ::: Stewart

Heinlein's "If This Goes On--" is arguably anti-Christian, but it's an interesting case. It portrays a future theocracy which is never explicitly identified as Christian, but which is impossible to read as anything other than fringe Protestant.

There's a list of more mainstream religions (Christian and non-Christian) who are part of the revolution against the theocracy, but they aren't really on stage.

#192 ::: David W. ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 03:18 PM:

After reading a rather suggestive comment over at File 770 about the Helsinki bidding for the Worldcon in 2017 and the existence of a publishing house in Finland that's run by a certain rabid canine, I wonder if the Site Selection vote at Sasquan could be swayed to put Helsinki over the top? That might be unfortunate, especially if it's a close contest.

#193 ::: venus ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 03:21 PM:

OtterB @176 I think I see what you mean, but I guess I think of feelings of exclusion and the oppression as genuinely entwined.

I'm not great at explaining this, but I feel like-- The stories I read in the 80s/90s that portrayed Christians as 'bad' or the many stories that portrayed lack-of-religion as 'good' often came from negative experiences. (Not always, OK, but often, I think.) Those stories made *me* feel valued and safe and validated--but they *also* genuinely pushed away some others.

I think, if we want to have a healthy, inclusive society, we need to deal with both sets of feelings somehow?

At least in my experience, mocking often comes from past pain. I've mocked the local Christians for disbelieving in dinosaurs. It wasn't my finest moment, but I totally did it. Any genuine Christian who walked in on me making fun of them would probably have been hurt. And, you know, what difference does it make if someone believes in dinosaurs? It doesn't. I was shooting fish in a barrel because they hurt me. That wasn't fair of me, but I think people will understand why I did it. I think they'll also understand that what I did wasn't kind.

I'm not saying we should put up with mocking. At all. I think that making fun of religion is generally a bad idea. But at the same time, there is a reason why so many stories portrayed Christianity negatively.

I think there are people on the fringes of SP3 who think, 'You know, those guys have a point....' who are *not* like that Day jerk. Who genuinely feel excluded or mocked for mainstream.

When a community deals with the Wright quote over at Naomi Kritzer's about normal men's reaction to fags in their midst being tire irons, it's probably going to swing towards mocking. Which is understandable, but will also push other moderates away.

I don't know. Is this making any sense? I see it as a cyclical, complex pattern of occasional accidental domino pain. We can say, 'X's pain is deeper' or more important or more genuine, but I think it can be also helpful to look at as many people's pain in the cycle as possible. Or look at it as a cycle. How to step out of it? I don't know. (And OK, that was probably way tangential/long.)

#194 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 03:23 PM:

Ah. Wrong initials, then. My apologies, Rail. Should have waited longer to guess--

#195 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 03:36 PM:

194
It would be interesting to speculate on what a 'Religious Technology Center' would do, though.

#196 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 03:36 PM:

Stewart@164: "In Kurtz's Camber trilogy, and Forschten's Ice Prophet trilogy both the heroes and villains are Catholic expies."

There was a really common trope in 80s fantasy -- the rigid, anti-magic High Church with an Inquisition that came down on the wizard heroes and dragged them away kicking and screaming. Kurtz was my first exposure to that, and then Barbara Hambly. By the 90s I was thoroughly tired of it, and I guess everyone else was too, because it faded out or at least got more nuanced.

These were stories of heroes surviving social intolerance. They flew in part because readers could relate experiences of being queer in 1980s America, or being pagans, or being smart, or being girls, or being *fantasy readers* -- etc. Religion is part of that discussion. (I don't think anybody's tried to write about an Inquisition run by an intolerant Secular High Post Office.)

But, as you note, the Camber books cannot possibly be read as anti-Catholic propaganda.

#197 ::: Rail ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 03:42 PM:

Mary Frances @194: Eh, it was a good guess. The RTCs and the Scientologists have more similarities than differences.

venus @193: Exactly. A devoutly Christian friend once told me that the church I grew up in was a funhouse reflection of the church she grew up in.

It's definitely something that the reader has to be aware of with books that were (and are) written in dialogue with that subset of religion.

#198 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 03:45 PM:

venus @193:

It makes total sense. That complexity, that balance between different groups and their different experiences of inclusion and exclusion, is the reality that we need to wrestle with honestly and honorably if we're going to be any kind of single community.

More than anything else, that's what vexes me about Correia and Torgersen (Day vexes me for more reasons). The narratives they're pushing are too low-resolution to reflect the actual shape of the community. Then as people gravitate in response to those narratives, reality begins to simplify into us-and-them.

I think the lesson from this for me is that simplicity divides, and that we have to embrace complexity to be united.

#199 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 03:46 PM:

OtterB@160:

But we ("we" as in the regular commenters here at ML) argue against there needing to be a plot purpose for a character being a person of color or LGBTQ, and I think there's still an extent to which there seems to need to be a point if a character is described as having an active religious faith.

But I wonder if that's to some extent forced on us by the nature of the genre? Because science fiction and fantasy are often about the shape of the universe, when religious beliefs are introduced it's natural to ask 'are they right?', and they can't just be part of a person's character, as their race or sexuality can be. (In other genres it is possible - e.g Sergeant Lewis in the Inspector Morse books is a Christian, although nothing plotwise particularly turns on this.)

#200 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 03:50 PM:

venus @193 Well, I laugh at Christians who don't believe in dinosaurs too, so that gives us a point in common. :-)

I'm not categorically opposed to stories that portray Christians unfavorably. For one thing, I agree those stories grow from some people's bad experiences (as in Rail's mention of the RTC faction) and those voices deserve to be heard. For another, they are valid cautionary tales and/or representations of some Christians. I don't remember experiencing "If This Goes On..." as a personal attack. But about the tenth time I ran into a story where the religious leader turned out to be faking it for money/adulation/sexual access, with no other representations, I got tired of it. So perhaps what bothers me, to cross with the Open Thread, are "Third Artist" Christian characters.

Oh, dear. Am I having a "Not All Christians" reaction?

#201 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 03:50 PM:

I think one of the things I like best about Cordelia Vorkosigan is that her theism is part of her character, but it's neither part of the plot nor part of the world-building. It's just who she is.

#202 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 03:51 PM:

rea @177: I refer to STAND ON ZANZIBAR, THE JAGGED ORBIT and THE SHEEP LOOK UP as Brunner's USA Trilogy because:

1. He referred to dos Passos' style in writing them
2. They all are centered around the destruction of the USA.

He didn't call them that, but I do. It's a personal shorthand. Sorry if there was confusion (it's been a long week).

#203 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 03:57 PM:

abi @198 said: I think the lesson from this for me is that simplicity divides, and that we have to embrace complexity to be united.

My RTC dad tried a "gotcha" on me recently by claiming that my sort of liberal holds tolerance as "the highest value".

No, I pointed out. Tolerance is a side effect of my highest value, which is the utter importance of everyone in our society being permitted to have equal ability to participate in our society. If you're working for that kind of equality, tolerance falls out of the equations naturally, because it won't work without it.

Well, it might in a perfectly homogenous population, which we ain't got.

But from his point of view, it looked like "my sort" was shouting about tolerance and how tolerance is important, so how could I non-hypocritically defend my tendency to refuse to tolerate intolerance and hateful speech?

#204 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 04:00 PM:

venus@193: "I think there are people on the fringes of SP3 who think, 'You know, those guys have a point....' who are *not* like that Day jerk. Who genuinely feel excluded or mocked for mainstream."

Yes. Same thing in Gamergate. There really are a lot of people who are, no joke, worried about ethics in videogame journalism.

There are also a lot of people who will stand there making serious-sounding dissenting noises forever, until you realize they're just conversation vampires. (Like dh in these recent threads.) So people feel burned and deploy defensive mechanisms, including mockery.

On the one hand, you want to have conversations with the people on the other side who are capable of reaching out and listening. And on the other hand, you want to make it clear that there's shit on the other side which is absolutely unacceptable and you should not be standing in the blast radius of that.

...I guess this is all to say "Yes, I don't know how to make it all better either. Human beings, eh?"

#205 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 04:09 PM:

#199 ::: Andrew M

The main character in Okorafor's The Shadow Speaker is casually but definitely a Muslim. Maybe this is just me being an American, but I think of that as a normal relationship to one's religion, and I don't see a lot of it in sf.

IIRC, there was a Poul Anderson novel which was based on Kim which included a Christian seeking evidence of the truth of his religion from small ambiguous clues, and at the end of the book he was still seeking-- this was treated with respect, not portrayed as ridiculous.

#200 ::: OtterB

It's alright-- I think a lot of quarrels are about prototypes, and that's not reprehensible because people tend to think in terms of prototypes.

#202 ::: Tom Whitmore

I group The Jagged Orbit, The Sheep Look Up, Stand on Zanzibar, and The Shockwave Rider as Brunner's Big Problem novels. The novels and the problems are big.

#206 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 04:10 PM:

Andrew M@199: "But I wonder if that's to some extent forced on us by the nature of the genre? Because science fiction and fantasy are often about the shape of the universe, when religious beliefs are introduced it's natural to ask 'are they right?', and they can't just be part of a person's character, as their race or sexuality can be."

It can be. Scott Lynch has talked about how he wants religion in the Locke Lamora books to be part of the characters, without the gods being objectively real or unreal.

That is, Locke is (as an adult) a sincere votary and priest of the Crooked Warden. We haven't seen the experiences of his life that brought him to that belief (and Lynch says we won't), and we haven't seen the gods reach down and perform miracles. Nonetheless his faith is real, and it drives him to do certain things and refuse to do others.

Is there a "point" to this portrayal? Well, it's relatively rare in SF/fantasy, so that's one point.

#207 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 04:17 PM:

To add to things:
Scalzi's blog post with comments summarises his viewpoint, I can't say it has anything new to people who read here and elsewhere:
http://whatever.scalzi.com/2015/04/20/keeping-up-with-the-hugos-42015/#comments

Someone on it linked to this blog post from Sarah Hoyt where she describes being made to feel unwelcome as a conservative/ libertarian in the SF world from the 1990's onwards. I suspect some here might disagree:
http://accordingtohoyt.com/2015/03/31/the-scarlet-letters/

#208 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 04:26 PM:

The Laundry books are an extreme case, I suppose, because religion is real and it eats souls.

#209 ::: Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 04:35 PM:

@203: I've stopped calling myself a libertarian, as the US Libertarian Party, and the Paulistas, and the hidden neo-Confederates, have poisoned the word, but the thought crosses my mind that my recent distillation of my libertarian principles

1) Empowering people is good, but empowering people to oppress (disempower) others is bad.

2) Institutions are good servants, but bad masters.

captures the limits of tolerance as understood here.

#210 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 04:40 PM:

Andrew, @204: Hence the recognition of "concern-trolling", which is what that second type is doing. And eventually the concern-trolls hijack the language of the first group so completely that it's impossible to use it without sounding like a concern troll, in the same way that the racists have hijacked the concept of "states' rights" to the point where it is no longer useful in serious conversation. And if the first group recognizes this and develops a new set of terminology to express their concept, the concern-trolls will come along and hijack it all over again. This is why we can't have nice things.

Re characters being casually religious... Digger is a complete atheist, and yet she has a set of principles (mostly expressed as aphorisms) in which she places absolute faith; they are the touchstones of her life, and you can't read the story without recognizing that. So it doesn't even have to be religion per se.

#211 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 04:55 PM:

Hmmm. <kicking server>

#212 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Chief Mourner of Lost Comments ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 05:05 PM:

I'm sorry, Cassy B, but your comment slipped softly between the zeroes and the ones, and now rests somewhere in that dreamland where mere binary systems cannot reach.

#213 ::: Steven desJardins ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 05:09 PM:

Digger isn't an atheist. She recognizes the existence of gods, and even (sort of) becomes friends with one. She just doesn't want anything to do with gods, or prophecies, or higher powers, for what are basically higher reasons: they tend to be more trouble than they're worth. (At least, in her opinion. Very much a Characters' Mileage May Vary situation.)

#214 ::: Doctor Science ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 05:13 PM:

Well, I'm giving it a try. You-all may find my data analysis useful, at least.

#215 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 05:14 PM:

guthrie @207:

I see our not-much-missed dh is there, no longer pretending to be an electioneering geek, newly returned from Nigeria and only vaguely acquainted with the strange and esoteric world of science fiction.

Typing standing up, no doubt, since his pants are on fire. (And I'm British in the context of that sentence.)

#216 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 05:21 PM:

Abi - so he is, his comments were so short I didn't notice who wrote them.

#217 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 05:24 PM:

David W. #192

Beale is apparently completely unconnected with Finnish Fandom, so I don't see that happening. (If it did happen it would almost certainly be counterproductive to any SP/RP aims since European fandom is considerably less tolerant of his views and attempts to rig the voting. (cf: the turnout at Loncon and voting results.) Finland is also easier to get to than the USA for this moose and a lot of other fans.

#218 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 05:25 PM:

pedantka #171: its potential effectiveness as an evangelistic tool (C. S. Lewis was the most quotable on this point, of course).

AIUI, Lewis's Space Trilogy was actually a sort of dual evangelism: He was trying to show how Christianity could be compatible with science's newly-enlarged view of the universe, and vice versa.

#219 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 05:33 PM:

P J Evans wondered @ #195 :

It would be interesting to speculate on what a 'Religious Technology Center' would do, though.

This? (Especially the comments.)

#220 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 05:42 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @202: It's interesting that the only one that doesn't end on a downer is THE SHOCKWAVE RIDER. I often include it in the "USA trilogy" trope (nb: trilogy is uncapitalized to distinguish it from the Dos Passos, where Trilogy is capitalized) since SF is full of 4-volume trilogies. It is an interesting problem.

There are several other books of his that fall into the Big Problem camp. Brunner is a writer who seriously deserves a strong critical book on all his fiction (with a chapter on his activism for SF poetry, of which he was a very early advocate and exemplar). His books exemplify both the best and the worst of what SF does, and it would be fascinating to place them all in context. Not to mention, his best deserves a revival.

#221 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 05:50 PM:

# 220 - Tom Whitmore - My feel for Brunner's work has always been (aside from his usually compelling writing) to wonder if he is more afraid *for* the US or afraid *of* the US

#222 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 05:52 PM:

Tom Whitmore #220 - indeed, Brunner's short novels are often overlooked yet many are perfect little gems of science fiction, in my opinion. E.g. "Born under Mars", "The long result".
I was lucky enough to be cruising charity shops and 2nd hand bookshops in the late 90's/ early 00's when a fair amount of 60's-70's SF was coming through, so have a good selection, but have yet to find a copy of "Shockwave Rider".*


*Yes, I could buy it online, but, umm, oh dear, there are lots of copies needing a home. I suppose I might then...

#223 ::: ULTRAGOTHA ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 05:53 PM:

It's kind of hard to be an athiest when you're standing right there talking ot the avatar of a god.

Though Digger could manage it if anyone could.

I like the Steerswomen books by Rosemary Kirstein in this regard. Rowan is not religious. But she cares deeply about people as a whole group in her world and individually. She has compassion and empathy and curiosity and love for her fellow humans (and tree gnomes and even Demons). She respects people's beleifs that don't match her own.

#224 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 06:12 PM:

222
I recommend it - but fair warning: the structure is a bit disorienting.

#225 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 06:18 PM:

guthrie, it's definitely worth reading -- it's the proto-cyberpunk book.

#226 ::: Zack ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 06:29 PM:

There's maybe a distinction to be made between acknowledging the existence of one, some, or all gods in-setting, and worshiping one, some, or all gods in-setting. Digger would hardly deny the existence of the Statue, and I don't think she would deny the existence of the entity it is a shadow of, either, but she does not worship either.

#227 ::: inge ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 06:31 PM:

Sandy B @ #206: Well, religion is real. And it eats souls. And bodies, on occasion.

I feel that I have mellowed towards religion since my teen days when I started reading SF, and gods were something space farers masqueraded as when dealing with primitive planet-dwellers. It seems to me that increased respect for other people and cultures has done a lot to make religion in speculative fiction more acceptable.

But then, of course, my data might be skewed, as many religous references might have gone clean over my teenaged head.

#228 ::: Doug H. ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 06:31 PM:

I think there is a subset of SF fandom that crosses over with the atheist/skeptic "fandom"--individuals from this subset can be quite hostile to religion.

Curiously, a few years ago the broader atheist community split into two rival camps, one favoring a humanist, feminist approach to atheism, the other...well, they claim to be "dictionary atheists", but in reality they are close allies with MRA groups, gamergaters, etc. Homophobic, misogynist bigots, basically.

The funny part is that this latter group shares a lot of "interests" (enemies) with the Sad and Rabid Puppies--they both oppose "SJWs", etc. Vox Day hates both Scalzi and PZ Myers. BUT...their positions on religion are completely opposite! The bigoted atheists would normally look at Vox, Wright, etc. with utter disdain, and vice versa.

But hatred makes strange bedfellows.

#229 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 06:57 PM:

abi #158: I believe she has. She's now the mother of several grown children.

#230 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 07:02 PM:

Theophylact #165: Yes, but there's also Zoroastrianism with the serial numbers filed off.

#231 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 07:04 PM:

Alex R #170: As I've been given unconsecrated hosts, the answer is yes.

Getting consecrated hosts is rather more difficult, as is getting consecrated wine. The priest has to swig it all down before the service ends. Tough job that.

#232 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 07:22 PM:

P J Evans #224: [re: Shockwave Rider] fair warning: the structure is a bit disorienting.

Well, it was back then... while I haven't read it lately, I suspect it might now fall under "Hamlet is Derivative".

#233 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 07:23 PM:

guthrie, #207:

from the Sarah Hoyt blog post to which you linked:
"That is because ten years ago, I lived in a state of fear. And the fact that my fear was real and serious is justified by that accusation to Brad, “You bad bad man, when you decided these people deserved awards, you didn’t TELL THEM you were putting them on a recommend list.”

"I lived in fear because of the implied end of that sentence “And you knew that because you associated them with you, a known conservative, we would make their lives miserable and do our best to end their careers.”

Interestingly, for me the implied end of that sentence is "And you didn't give them the opportunity to choose whether they wished to be associated with -- and appear to be supportive of -- your political agenda."

And that, as near as I can see, is a pretty apt summation of the difference between the way the Puppies think and the way non-puppies think.
The Puppies are convinced that everyone else thinks like them and has the same lack of ethics and character that they do.

#234 ::: Zora ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 07:29 PM:

I realized, looking through the comments re religion in SFF, that I was thinking of a much smaller subset of such works: the ones that made me think, "Yes, that author understands." WHAT that author understands is hard to express, because it is experience and attitude more than theology. Mysticism, I suppose most people would call it.

To look at the moon, one must gaze beyond the finger. Many people are devoted to the finger and never look beyond it. Finger devotees, IMHO, have done all sorts of evil. When someone attacks religion, and they are attacking finger devotees, I understand. However, that is not all there is to it.

Authors who see the moon are rarer. I appreciate them no matter their tradition. MOON is what I see in Monette, Bujold, Le Guin.

#235 ::: rcade ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 07:35 PM:

Alexandra Erin is stringing together an epic run of tweets critiquing the premises that Sad Puppies claim as motivation (collected on Storify).

1. Why Brad Torgersen is the saddest puppy:

https://storify.com/alexandraerin/brad-torgersen-is-a-cliquish-snob-who-can-t-stand

2. Why do book recommendations make Sad Puppies sad?

https://storify.com/alexandraerin/brad-torgersen-is-a-cliquish-snob-who-can-t-stand

#236 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 07:45 PM:

232
I was thinking of the temporal structure (past/present/past/present - and the time between them shortens).

#237 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 08:04 PM:

#234 ::: Zora

Pratchett was also good on mysticism, in particular in one of the Tiffany Aching books.

#238 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 08:10 PM:

Zora @234: I realized, looking through the comments re religion in SFF, that I was thinking of a much smaller subset of such works: the ones that made me think, "Yes, that author understands." WHAT that author understands is hard to express, because it is experience and attitude more than theology. Mysticism, I suppose most people would call it.

One of the better places I've encountered this recently is Daryl Gregory's Afterparty, whose main character is an atheist who got overdosed on an experimental drug which left her with the experience of deity. I grew up religious and am now largely an atheist except for that occasionally-accessed experience of the numinous, and I really appreciated Gregory's portrait of a person struggling with seeing the moon while believing intellectually that she's just looking at her finger.

It might not be quite what you want -- I harbor a suspicion that Gregory doesn't think the moon exists outside his protagonist's head, in this analogy, and certainly the main character doesn't to start, although I think the book itself is inconclusive. But I appreciated him and his main character obviously chewing over the question, and in a way informed by the neuroscience of the past couple decades, which still felt to me respectful of the experiences of those of us who do see the moon and really believe it exists independent of us, however occasionally in my case.

#239 ::: Doctor Science ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 08:16 PM:

Bummer. The committee already wrote back, and said "no dice. You can try changing the rules ..."

So I guess we can look forward to at least one more year of Sad Puppies being Castalia House's marketing department. Good job, guys!

#240 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 08:21 PM:

guthrie #207: I read Hoyt's article and a couple of others on her site and... well, I can't speak to her experience (for all the usual reasons, starting with not being there), but even so: WTF?

#241 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 08:30 PM:

240
I skimmed the comments there, and they were more WTF for a really high level of WTF-ness. I'm not sure that everyone there is even on the same planet.

#242 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 08:37 PM:

OtterB @ #200 But about the tenth time I ran into a story where the religious leader turned out to be faking it for money/adulation/sexual access, with no other representations, I got tired of it. So perhaps what bothers me, to cross with the Open Thread, are "Third Artist" Christian characters.

Hm -- is there a "Fourth Artist" stage of a trope, where it's become enough of a cliche that everyone starts reversing it? I ask because about a dozen years ago, I noticed that the scriptwriters of tv mysteries had started using religious leaders as red herrings.

#243 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 08:40 PM:

I was just thinking, it sure would muddy the waters if the publishers decided not to include all of the puppy nominees in the voter packet. It would be the slate problem in reverse—the unincluded works would get fewer votes because fewer people would be familiar with them, yet nobody could know for sure if they lost due to lack of merit or due to actions of the publishers.

#244 ::: philrm ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 08:45 PM:

Tom Whitmore@220: here you go:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/john-brunner-jad-smith/1110198771?ean=9780252078811&itm=1&usri=9780252078811

It's very good; it made me regret that much of his best work (not all of which I've read) is out of print.

#245 ::: Trey ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 08:57 PM:

#240 and #241: try reading her books. The Musketeer series I'd have bet money were ones I'd have liked - sword fighting, a mystery and the Musketeers.
I finished the first book with effort, the editing mistakes not helping at all, and cannot recommend the series. I'm afraid to invest the time for her SF series.

#246 ::: Andy H. ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 09:07 PM:

rcade @235, I believe that your second URL should be this one: https://storify.com/alexandraerin/why-do-book-recommendations-make-sad-puppies-sad

#247 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 09:18 PM:

P J Evans #241: Thinking "well, how about her writing?", I just now glanced at the beginning of her WIP novel (free until she finishes it). Color me seriously disenthused -- among other issues, I immediately found myself wishing that the author would just do a proper infodump and get it over with.

Yeah, WIP, but if I had an early draft that looked like that, I should hope I wouldn't show it around before I'd fixed it up some.

#248 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 09:24 PM:

Allan Beatty: for that reason, I actually hope they do. Also, while I would prefer to read and assess even the rabid puppy selections (though they would get absolute lowest priority after all available non-puppy contenders), if Castalia House doesn't include their contenders*, well, they're certainly also not getting my money, either. I'd consider buying or seeking out non-puppy nominees, though...

*I would normally think a small press with that much of their catalogue on the short list would hesitate over the number of lost sales involved)

#249 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 09:33 PM:

247
Her blog post was seriously off-putting to me.

#250 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 09:38 PM:

Trey, #245:

I've read Hoyt's Shifter series and actually quite enjoyed it. I wouldn't have nominated any of the books for a Hugo, but there are a lot of books I've enjoyed that I wouldn't nominate for a Hugo.

And I found she didn't really bring her conservative politics into the story at all -- as compared to David Weber and Michael Z Williamson, who write a decent story with occasional pauses to beat the reader over the head with their politics, and John Ringo, who beats the reader over the head with his politics while pausing occasionally to tell a mediocre story.

#251 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 10:02 PM:

250
I've read some of Ringo's books. I get the feeling he's so eager to get to 'redneck saves the world' that he gets sloppy about the rest of the story.

#252 ::: Trey ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 10:03 PM:

JJ @ 250: Then I'll try a sample and see if it's worthwhile.

#253 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 10:16 PM:

I just got through reading the Hoyt post linked, and skimmed the comments.

Yes, definitely extra-planetary origins are indicated.

I was a little amused by this line, that she was attributing to the 1990's liberals:"that all of them believed the Reagan years had set us on course to total dystopia." Funny how that looks like an accurate prediction.

My recollections of anti-social behavior at conventions during the 1990's was (at least in the program panels and con-suites)usually of anti-religious, laissez-faire so-called "libertarians" who were in favor of letting the "weak" die out and viewed any kind of responsibility towards others in society as enforced economic slavery.

Usually, when challenged at adherence to Spencerian libertarian thought they usually had no idea of what I was talking about, only quoting from Sts RAH and Rand. If I tried to point out what might be practical problems of implementation (leaving out the, to me, important moral objections)I was usually derided as a reactionary collectivist.

And I certainly never heard the widespread disparagement of libertarian thought that Hoyt describes.

#254 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 10:53 PM:

Trey, #252:

I will preface the following remarks by saying that I've tried to read entries on Hoyt's blog a few times, and found them shrill and hysterical. I do not see that in her books, though.

There are actually numerous socially-progressive aspects to the Shifters story arc. A (multi-racial, multi-social-strata) group of people who have the (often unwanted and deleterious-to-their-health-and-wellbeing) ability to shapeshift into animal forms (1 animal per person, but a wide range of animals) manage to come together and take care of each other, while being threatened by a more ancient group of dragon-shifters which has its own agenda.

Many of these shifters have become poor and/or homeless and/or persecuted due to their entirely-unasked-for shifter status and the way that it makes having a normal life near-impossible. It's never implied that this is due to laziness or bad character; their life hardships are given sympathetic treatment.

Note that the rival group's origins hearken back to ancient China. However, it does not read to me as an attack on Asian people or culture, but rather as a reference to a culture which was highly educated and technological, back when Western cultures were still in caves swinging clubs.

These books are considered Urban Fantasy, a genre about which I am ambivalent, so saying that I enjoyed them probably means something. (And the first book is free on Kindle, you can give it a try risk-free.)

It's been a couple years since I read them, and I read ~150 novels a year. So it's hard for me to remember all the details. It may be that I'm dumb and clueless, and was just enjoying the story enough not to see political implications in it. But I don't think so.

I would be very interested on hearing your take on it.

#255 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 11:28 PM:

I've read one Hoyt book, _Darkship Thieves_, and wrote it up as "reasonably entertaining". There was a libertarian space colony, but I never got the impression that it was an ideological fixee of the author -- just a speculative society.

Also, I remember her as being a good con speaker. This would have been 2009.

For a perhaps-useful reference point: I've read three John C. Wright books -- back in 2004. They were also reasonably entertaining... up until the end of the trilogy, when I realized he had no interest in resolving any of the questions his story had raised, because he thought Objectivism answered everything. I swore off his work then and there.

(Which is turning out to be a problem now. I do want to *try* to read everything on the Hugo ballot before I turn it in...)

Later I heard Wright had converted from Randism to Christianity. I figured it was just a relabelling of his biases, though.

#256 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2015, 11:41 PM:

JJ @ 254: Thanks for the tip, re: Hoyt's Draw One in the Dark. I like her shifter books very much, and own . . . at least one? maybe more--but not that one; I also like the Musketeer books. Both are the kind of thing that I like to read, and I found the shifter books in particular to be solid, entertaining fantasy.

I have avoided her blog, and plan to continue to do so. I disagree with her on slate business, but I couldn't help finding out about that; so far, it hasn't reached the level of "I can't read this author's work without thinking about that aren't in the book!" It may happen if I read her blog, and I'd prefer not to risk it. Something similar happened to me with a mystery writer who shall remain nameless--not due to his political stance, but I'd prefer not to go into the details because really, they should not have mattered--only they did, I'm embarrassed to admit. I kept getting distracted, couldn't concentrate on the story, and finally just gave up. Pity, but so it goes.

Note: this is not the same as "I will not buy this author's books because I don't want him to spend the money I give him on what he says he's spending money on." Usually, by the time I reach that stage with an author, I've found the work difficult to concentrate on anyway, but not always, and it is a different issue.

#257 ::: but of course ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 12:15 AM:

Craig R @ 253:

It may be useful to remember that quite a bit of this posturing appears to be aimed at the crossover world of heavily-subsidized online right wing bloggage VD brings to the dance.

Historically, one of the fastest ways to become a figure in that world is to suggest within earshot of their mighty Randian hero, tenured public school teacher Professor Reynolds, that you're being oppressed by a private entity choosing to express its self-determination in a way you don't like. Some variant of beleaguered libertarian/objectivist is prety much that entire bingo card.

#258 ::: Daniel Boone ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 12:24 AM:

Several reference in this and in other recent threads have surfaced for me the information that David Weber is edited by Patrick at Tor -- something of which I had not been aware. I now feel sorry for uttering in this space the following about the Safehold series: "Weber, like late Heinlein, is in desperate need of heavy editing that he (presumably by virtue of his success) is not getting." It would have been boorish of me to say this on the blog of the editor in question, had I but known. I don't apologize for the sentiment -- for I do indeed find the Safehold series hard going in heavy weather -- but I apologize for the ignorance that led me to express that sentiment here.

#259 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 02:50 AM:

JJ, #233: Yes. They think first about persecution. We think first about consent. The difference, IMO, is significant. Also, note again the card-palming between "list of recommendations" and "voting slate".

#260 ::: MaxL ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 03:02 AM:

JJ, #254

I'd (gently) suggest avoiding using words like shrill or hysterical when describing a woman, in favor of words with less freight attached.

re: Hoyt: I was curious, so I tried the kindle sample of her first published novel and bounced immediately off the first page, hard. I then tried the sample of the first of her Darkship books, which was much better. If I were in the mood for light SF with serviceable prose, that wouldn't be out of the question. The voice of the first-person narrator did strike me as being very similar to Hoyt's own voice both in her blog entries and the comment sections, which might prove grating were I to attempt to read the entire novel.

#261 ::: kate ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 03:17 AM:

Bruce@135: Honestly, given as that Electrolite thread resulted in Beale's getting kicked off the Nebula Award jury, or rather, not getting invited back to it, it makes sense that Beale would have an Issue or two surrounding it.

(I don't think that should result in him going on a crusade against the SF establishment, mind you. Just that it makes some sense.)

#262 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 04:37 AM:

Daniel @258: you have some wiggle-room, insofar as Patrick doesn't edit everything David Weber writes -- just one of his series (unless I'm missing something).

Andrew @255: wrt. Wright's conversion from Objectivism to ultra-montain Catholicism (with a wide-line is misogyny), an interesting thought just struck me.

It seems to me that one of the aspects of any religion that can lead to its spread is that it may embody various successful "design patterns" derived from other religions. In software engineering, a design pattern is a common software structure that keeps recurring in different contexts, because it's useful -- the equivalent of common mechanical engineering structures such as the worm gear or the differential. Social structures and religions often use a bunch of recurring structures, many of which are borrowed from previous best-of-breed systems (as defined by their popularity or their ability to spread). And one of the things that made me very skeptical about the whole Singularity concept and the transhumanists, about a decade ago, was the realization that while they were mostly consciously atheists, they'd accreted a belief structure that seemed to recycle a whole bunch of design patterns from Christianity. Once you posit mind uploading (originally a crude thought experiment for considering whether AI is possible, rather than a practical proposition) you rapidly end up with heaven, the rapture of the nerds, and a whole raft of apocalyptic imagery. And if you reject all pre-existing religions, you have no theological immune system against this new infection, so to speak.

Wright was not only an Objectivist -- itself a fairly intolerant creed that makes rather questionable assertions about its own ultimate truthiness -- but was paddling around in the shallows of transhumanism in his fiction at the time. Is it possible that all his conversion incident did was cause him to jump ship to an existing belief system that already employed the same design patterns as the one he was already assembling for himself?

(As for me, I just try to evaluate the shape of belief systems these days as much as the content itself, and apply duck-typing: if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it's probably a duck even if someone has painted it blue.)

#263 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 05:33 AM:

Fragano Ledgister @231 - my late father was a lay reader at our local (Anglican) church, and as such was qualified to assist with the ceremonies. One Sunday, after a very thinly attended service, he returned home in a... rather noticeable... condition. "Surprising how much that chalice holds," he slurred at one point.

In re John Brunner: The Shockwave Rider is a darn good book, and Brunner in general is overdue a reappraisal - even his minor SF has a touch of class about it. (I have The Dramaturges of Yan somewhere nearby, which is a sound example.)

#264 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 06:59 AM:

Charlie Stross@262: yah, people with a predisposition to fanatical belief sometimes jump from one belief to another. To such, the fanaticism is central; the content of the belief is secondary.

That Brunner tetrology has a messianic thread, and a streak of vedi British pastoralism running through it.

Didn't Maria Doria Russell do some seriously Roman Catholic works?

#265 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 07:44 AM:

Charlie Stross @262: Blue ducks stun easily, you know.

#266 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 07:49 AM:

cstross @272:

The only hump in the theory is that Catholic dogma rejects and repudiates premillenial dispensationalism, the pre-death rapture of the church, and the whole passel of beliefs that closely parallel singularitarian transhumanism. Say what you want about archaeo-Catholicism, it is not a creed that hungers for the destruction of this world and everything in it.

I think you're close to what happened (based on his personal account and before/after behavior), particularly because he only swapped one premise without changing any of his hatreds or self-valorizations (I was the most rational then/I am the most rational now; I was a powerful evangelist for atheism/I will now convert misguided atheists (who are smart enough to be hateful loons) through the power of my blog) one iota.

#267 ::: ULTRAGOTHA ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 08:22 AM:

MaxL @260.

Thank you for that. I was trying to think of a kind way to say the same thing.

#268 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 08:33 AM:

In re @260, @267, and linguistic gender biases: There is now a software tool called Textio that uses enormous datasets to tell you whether a job listing you've just written is more likely to pull in male or female applicants, and how overwhelming the response to it is likely to be.

Some employers are using it to stop making their listings accidentally scare off qualified female applicants. Some are using it to deliberately bias their hiring pool to bring the currently-employed workforce back towards gender parity. It definitely looks interesting to me, and it does the "machine learning" weirdness thing of telling you things you thought didn't make any difference are precluding women from applying for the job.

#269 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 08:40 AM:

Incidentally, Philip Sandifer has a magisterial run-down of the entire mess here -- well worth the reading time, and I pretty much agree with him all down the way (except that I also think Beale exhibits many of the signs of narcissistic personality disorder -- not just extreme politics).

#270 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 08:46 AM:

I have often found Mr. Sandifer well worth reading. He's highly detailed and adds sources and historical context.

#271 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 08:49 AM:

I've read Darkship Thieves and A Few Good Men and liked them without loving them. They'd probably be better at half the length.

If things were even nearly as bad in Portugal as Hoyt says, she might have reasons for being a nervous person.

I'm a libertarian and I'd say it's quite a stigmatized identity, though I don't know whether it's stigmatized in a way that would affect a writing career.

#272 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 09:08 AM:

There's a difference, though, between the stigma against libertarians and the stigma I face as a fat woman.

People scream things at me when I go out on the street. "Oink oink!" "The cow goes moo!" and my favorite, hollered from a gym as I was passing on my bicycle, "No fat c*nts allowed!" (I wanted to reply, Fear not, good sir, I have no intention of darkening the door of your establishment -- especially on such a beautiful spring day.)

They don't care about my politics.

#273 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 09:43 AM:

Charlie Stross #269: Just dipping from the middle of that excellent article: But, of course, Theodore Beale’s delusions of grandeur themselves are not up for Hugo Awards; merely some stories he selected.

Would it be excessively mean to nominate Beale's blog for a Fantasy award?

#274 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 09:56 AM:

Daniel Boone @#258

I assure you that PNH doesn't take offense at your candid opinions of David Weber's novels. No more than I do at people's candid opinions of Orson Scott Card's novels, which I edit at Tor (and did at Berkley and Ace). The only relevance to this conversation is that it brings an extra element of hilarity to our reactions to accusations of Tor being the home of the liberal SJW conspiracy.

#275 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 10:41 AM:

Me #273: Obviously I was kidding in #273 , but this ain't kidding: Sandifer's article is a serious contender for BRW in 2016.

#276 ::: Cadbury Moose concurs with David Harmon @ #275 ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 10:56 AM:

Oh yes indeed. It's a serious in-depth analysis and beautifully written.

(I'm considering describing the SP/RP alliance as the "Pact of Steal", since that's what they set out to do to the awards.)

#277 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 11:03 AM:

beth Meacham @ 274... According to something I read elsewhere, Patrick has a secret agenda. Or maybe it's a hidden agenda. Either way, it's not that secret nor that hidden if people know about it.

#278 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 11:30 AM:

Serge @277: If Patrick knew about it would get out. So obviously it must be a super extra secret agenda, hidden from absolutely everybody, including himself.

#279 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 11:51 AM:

So Patrick is LARPing/cosplaying Keith Laumer's Dinosaur Beach. So typical.

#280 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 11:53 AM:

It's well known that Patrick never cosplays.

Subtle.

#281 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 11:55 AM:

James @ 127: Quite so. (I note that Antonelli specifically says "the blacklist against conservative and/or Christian writers" -- not even limiting himself to conservative Christian writers (sometimes aka ChINOs); that's enough for me to mark him as paranoid-ignorable.)

Trengove @ 131: multiple viewpoints are sufficiently common that there's a term-of-art ( "third person singular") for works with a single viewpoint. One of my favorite MPoV stories is Cherryh's Merchanter's Luck; she often does a very compressed view, but here a story of moderate length needs two major views. If you want a particularly vigorous example, look up "Crate", which the author (Sturgeon) explicitly said was written in first-person multiple.
      I find it hard to see how a story could be epic without MPoV, but I'm not a great fan of epics. (Is the uncut Les Miserables single viewpoint?)

OtterB @ 160: SFF has a strong strain of opposition to any establishment -- and Christianity, whatever it claims, is strongly establishment in most of the English-speaking world. (Feel free to speculate on what SFF would be like if Islam were a major religion in places where books were a mass industry -- unlike the many interesting examples of SF in ~Islamic societies.) I sympathize with your feeling of unease -- you're being civil about it, unlike the Puppies -- but there's plenty about Christianity to criticize. I have no sympathy with anyone who finds comfort in the Puppies' claimed pro-Christianity stance, given the baggage that comes with it; would they find comfort from somebody wearing a white robe and pointy-hat mask just because that person claims to be pro-Christian?

Stewart @ 164 (and Nancy L @ 191): "If This Goes On..." is specifically an attack on ChINO fanatics; he speaks of the joy of other Christian subdivisions that find they can practice again where the Prophet has been displaced.
      NB: Revolt in 2100 is a collection; its other parts are after the fall of the Prophet but aren't connected to deity-based theology.

David W @ 192: As discussed in another thread, site selection is a reverse-preferential ballot like the Hugo winner; tipping it is more difficult than hacking the nominations. Not impossible given the ridiculous fall-off in site-selection votes (~1000 in recent competitive selection, vs 2500 23 years ago) -- but the 4-way race this year may fix that. OTOH I wouldn't want to be on the Helsinki committee right now; they have to be wondering whether they should disavow VD (and risk the Puppies trying to tip the election to anyone-but-Helsinki) or rely on the electorate knowing he has nothing to do with them.

venus @ 193: And, you know, what difference does it make if someone believes in dinosaurs? Literally, very little. OTOH, ISTM that disbelief in dinosaurs is strongly correlated to an attack on science generally, and specifically wrt global climate change -- and that does make a difference.

Tom W @ 202: They all are centered around the destruction of the USA. Destructiveness, yes; not destruction (rkprcg nf na bofreingvba ng gur raq bs bar bs gurz).

Elliott @ 203: excellent explanation; I'll have to remember that in case I ever get in a discussion with such a type (instead of just walking away -- my live-debating skills are weak).

Randolph @ 64: Pastoralism in Brunner? Please be more specific; I'm a great fan of Brunner's works but found the unthinking pastoralism of Tolkien a straining point.

#282 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 11:56 AM:

I don't think I've read Dinosaur Beach despite reading a large amount of Laumer.

Does it contain sodomy? ITWSBT

#283 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 12:15 PM:

I discovered from the Fundies Say the Darndest Things link that JCW does not believe there is such a thing as the unconscious mind. Everything he says or writes is therefore either consciously created by him, or it Came From Somewhere Else. "Hence, logically, if story elements, images, characters, plot twists, events, word choices and so on pop into my awareness in my mind, and I do not see their origins anywhere in my mind, then they come from outside my mind, from a source capable of understanding and producing great art."

I think this explains rather a lot about why he has trouble understanding how other people think -- he rejects the ordinary understanding of how ANYONE thinks. Also, why on earth it never occurs to him that he could be receiving thoughts from evil spirits, I don't know, especially given that his chosen theology requires devils and does not require muses.

#284 ::: Kelly Jennings ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 12:24 PM:

"...it never occurs to him that he could be receiving thoughts from evil spirits..."

I think because he has given his soul to Jesus. Therefore he *must* be Right, therefore no Satan.

#285 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 12:32 PM:

I've gotten Draw One In The Dark (thanks to whoever pointed it out) for my Kindle and we'll see if I like Hoyt's non-blog writing.

I already know I don't like her blog writing--she reminds me of Correia squared.

I will say that most of the works (especially the fantasy ones) that I recall using a religion as the bad guy, are simply reaching for a handy villain that the audience will see, for solid historical reasons in the real world, as both powerful and terrifying.

#286 ::: Zack ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 12:34 PM:

"I think because he has given his soul to Jesus. Therefore he *must* be Right, therefore no Satan."

I'm about 95% sure Screwtape had something to say about that.

#287 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 12:46 PM:

HelenS@283: Ha, a theory of aesthetics not, as far as I am aware, seriously put forward by anyone since Plato's Ion.

#288 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 12:46 PM:

CHiP: (Brunner spoilers) Gur trar gung yrgf crbcyr yvir gbtrgure crnprshyyl trgf ybfg va Fgnaq: gur jbeyq vf abg tbvat gb or unccl.

Gur nezf pbzcnavrf onfvpnyyl jva va Wnttrq: vg'f whfg trggvat jbefr.

Gur rpbybtvpny qvfnfgre va Furrc vf nyfb whfg trggvat fgnegrq, naq vf tbvat gb or zhpu jbefr.

This is why I say "destruction."

#289 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 12:54 PM:

I think plenty of people have believed that SOME of their creative ideas have come from "somewhere else." (Yeats, for instance.) But denying the whole subconscious mind is a special kind of oy.

#290 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 01:10 PM:

I think I could enjoy a novel about a Christian revolt against a CHINO theocracy.

As for Stand on Zanzibar, V gubhtug gur crnpr-rasbepvat curebzbar pbhyq or znqr negvsvpvnyyl.

#291 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 02:25 PM:

This morning I noticed a Facebook discussion that seems relevant here, and Eleanor Amaranth Lockhart has given me permission to quote her original statement:

"Failing to complete character creation in Pillars of Eternity, then watching scenes w/the priest in Daredevil, made me realize something. The reason priests/clerics aren't usually very popular in RPGs is that they're based on poorly thought out religious stuff in the settings. Like, D&D clerics are theoretically part of a polytheistic setting and the game lets you choose your god. But they are very obviously actually modeled on a simplistic idea of Catholic priests/monks in the Middle Ages. So, you roll up a Cleric, you choose your god, but no matter what, you're gonna be some person in a robe chanting. And you have minimal connection to your god because nobody bothers to flesh out how religion actually works in these settings. They just assume that it is hegemonic exactly like the medieval Church, even when there's tons of neutral and chaotic and evil deities."

(Followup discussion included pointing out that the RL Medieval church wasn't as hegemonic as people believe, and examples of games which are more nuanced in their play.)

#292 ::: Kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 02:59 PM:

Test
Speaking of pattern language, isn't "help, help, I'm being oppressed by filthy liberals, please send money quick!" A standard grifter pattern?

I'm thinking of the anti gay marriage pizzeria as a recent example, but back in
#257, "but of course" had this to say:

It may be useful to remember that quite a bit of this posturing appears to be aimed at the crossover world of heavily-subsidized online right wing bloggage VD brings to the dance.

Historically, one of the fastest ways to become a figure in that world is to suggest within earshot of their mighty Randian hero, tenured public school teacher Professor Reynolds, that you're being oppressed by a private entity choosing to express its self-determination in a way you don't like. Some variant of beleaguered libertarian/objectivist is prety much that entire bingo card.

This is the principle behind unelectable people running for president, right?

#293 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 03:13 PM:

i remember as a kid enthusing to my mother about a movie I had seen--I think it was "Ladyhawke"--and how much I loved it and telling her the plot. And she said, rather upset, "Why is the Church always the bad guy?"

As a kid, I dismissed this as "Mom, once again, does not understand fantasy." (She was taking a break from being Catholic to try very hard to be an evangelical, which she wasn't really cut out for, but she was giving it her best.) But I suppose she had something of a point.

Still, if you're writing medieval fantasy, you've only got a couple options for powerful institutions, and once you've exhausted the Kings and princes, priests and bishops are the next obvious step. Guild masters never really caught on in the public imagination (except for the hypothetical Thieves Guild--for some reason, nobody worries about the Weavers or the Bakers coming after them) and evil wizards tend to be lone wolves (except maybe for Sith.)

And as kid-me knew, if the hero is going to face sufficiently dangerous odds, then an institution like the Church either has to be against you or, if they're with you, ineffectual. If you're on the side of right, and you happen to have a holy army around, why even bother to show up?

Adult-me could see more nuanced options, but then again, adult-me considers the Brother Cadfael books desert island reading...

#294 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 03:43 PM:

UrsulaV @ 293... "Ladyhawke" also had Friar Imperius.

#295 ::: neotoma ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 03:46 PM:

HelenS @283

Wright's insistence that the unconscious mind does not exist tells me he is ignorant (possibly deliberately so) of all the fascinating neuroscience of the last few decades, and has constructed a theory of how minds work that is so totally at odds with what we do know of how the brain works that he's Not Even Wrong.

Additional, his recounting of his conversion experience, which was precipitated by a heart attack, makes me believe he doesn't recognize the euphoric state he describes experiencing as a known reaction to an adverse medical event; he attributes it to supernatural causes, just like he contributes his more creative leaps in his writing to supernatural causes.

That is his right, of course, but I find it a deeply strange way of interpreting the world.

#296 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 03:52 PM:

neotoma @ 295... "Morbius! What is the Id?!"

#297 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 04:22 PM:

Re 293: It is a trope of late (and especially so in movies, where the level of, um, aspiration is often low) to paint institutions of power as natural villains, and rebels of all sorts as natural heroes. My personal pet cynical theory is that it's a kind of pandering to adolescence given that the trope seems to come out most strongly when the institution in question can be painted as a sort of (tyrannical) father figure.

This may be a fault of my bad reading habits but it seems to me that clerics in writing of the period tend to appear more as accessory figures who come out of the background to aid (or occasionally hinder) the protagonist, but do not as a rule appear as principal antagonists. Possibly this is because such a depiction would have been politically unwise, but the earlier trope shows up as recently as Les Miserables in the person of Bishop Myriel (and note Hugo's remark as to that choice).

#298 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 04:30 PM:

@ 297 - I think that's valid. And in fairness, rebellion tends to be a bit more dramatic and swashbuckly than "Bob from Accounting worked within the system to correct a grave injustice and was assisted by the institutions involved, though slightly hindered by layers of bureaucracy."

I mean, you can do it, and I can even think of a few books where it's worked, but it would have been a hard sell for teenage me.

#299 ::: Russell Letson ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 04:31 PM:

Re: Wright's theory of consciousness. I don't feel up to revisiting his posts for chapter and verse, but my impression of his intellectual world in general is that it is Thomistic-paleoCatholic. One title for the standard undergrad epistemology course back when I got my Jesuit education was "rational psychology," and it was fully integrated with the rest of Scholastic philosophy, right down to the bare metal of metaphysics. This view of the mind precedes (and perhaps is inherently incompatible with) one that sees Mind as rooted in and limited by the brain. Another example of the finest 13th-century thinking money can buy.

#300 ::: Doctor Science ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 04:46 PM:

#284 Kelly Jennings:

I think because he has given his soul to Jesus. Therefore he *must* be Right, therefore no Satan.

This is not how Catholicism works. Since Wright is a convert, he may not have the gut understanding of a cradle Catholic that you're *always* a sinner, always vulnerable. Not even Saints get a get-out-of-sin-free card in Catholicism -- on the contrary, they are likely to be tempted/tormented extra.

It doesn't sound to me as though Wright has gotten into Catholicism via a standard Catholic church, but maybe through one of the super-conservative groups -- Opus Dei, even. Does anyone know?

#301 ::: Kevin J. Maroney ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 04:47 PM:

Zora @ 76,

Sorry for the late response, but Michael Bishop is also worth mentioning as a sf/fantasy writer whose Christianity is front-and-center in much of his work. Most notable is probably his anthology A Cross of Centuries: Twenty-five Imaginative Tales about the Christ.

#302 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 04:51 PM:

This is getting awfully personal, guys. Is it making us smarter, wiser, or more joyful?

#303 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 04:52 PM:

There's a sense in which The Last Temptation of Christ can be considered alternate history, which didn't make it any more palatable to literalamentalists.

#304 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 04:56 PM:

@293, @297, @298

I agree also. It's like the games the neighbor kids and I played in the backyard, back in the day, usually began with us as orphans. Because how are you going to get into any interesting predicaments if there's someone powerful and good there to watch out for you? :-)

You could make a case for The Goblin Emperor as a story of how Maia began to reform the injustices of his court from the inside, rather than rebelling against it. Though he's not quite Bob from Accounting.

#305 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 05:02 PM:

UrsulaV @298 - "Bob from Accounting worked within the system to correct a grave injustice and was assisted by the institutions involved, though slightly hindered by layers of bureaucracy."

Isn't that the basic set up of the police procedural (also hospital and lawyer stories)? I mean our heroes are usually quirky outsiders who are always pushing against the boss, but they don't overthrow the Police Department.

#306 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 05:32 PM:

I think part of the hook for the Harry Potter books is that the wizarding world has a culture where children are allowed to have responsibility much younger than in the real world-- and, of course, for practical purposes, Harry is an orphan.

#307 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 06:15 PM:

@ 304 & 306 - Or Miyazaki films, where adults blithely let small children wander into danger. "Ponyo" is probably the worst offender on that front--at least "Spirited Away" her parents were turned into pigs!

But yeah, you gotta get the parents out of the way somehow, either by making them ineffectual, neglectful, gone or dead. (People default to dead a lot, mind you...) Otherwise you're writing a story about grown-ups with kids observing, and where's the fun in that for the young reader?

#308 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 06:30 PM:

What made E. Nesbit important as a children's book writer was the fact that the kids she was writing about had adults nearby who just didn't understand any of what was going on with the magic: I suppose you could say that makes them ineffectual or neglectful, but they're more irrelevant than either of those. Eager followed in the same vein (and Anne Nesbet is doing the same kind of thing in her first two books A CABINET OF EARTHS and A BOX OF GARGOYLES, while the third is a bit more of a standard fantasy, in some ways). Another possible term is "oblivious" -- which is what the real parents are in Gaiman's CORALINE. All these books find a way to make the children effective and effectual -- which is part of what good children's books should do, because kids want to be able to affect the world.

But there's clearly a book in that rather than just a comment.

#309 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 06:47 PM:

Ursula V. writes: "Bob from Accounting worked within the system to correct a grave injustice and was assisted by the institutions involved, though slightly hindered by layers of bureaucracy."

Quick! To the Bat-Fax!

#310 ::: Stephen Sample ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 07:16 PM:

Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons books, and Elizabeth Enwright's Saturdays get the adults out of the way pretty thoroughly, and I wouldn't call them ineffectual, neglectful, gone or dead.

Well, they probably count as neglectful by modern US standards, but not at the time they were written.

#311 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 07:41 PM:

@UrsulaV no. 307: Actually Ponyo's dad keeps trying to rein her in, while Sosuke's mom works right next door to his preschool and sensibly assumes that he will stay put at home while she goes to check on the senior citizens after the "typhoon."

(Cute trivia: Ponyo's name is actually Brunhilde, and at one point during her hijinks you can hear bits of Wagner quoted in the soundtrack. Sosuke renames her Ponyo when he thinks she's a fish. It's onomatopoeia for something that is wonderfully soft and puffy, like a baby's cheeks. So her new name is more or less Pudge.)

Miyazaki revisits the theme of childhood autonomy and responsibility frequently. Consider Kiki: in the countryside where she was raised, spending a year away from home and school at 13 is considered normal for witches, but when she moves to the city she discovers that everybody from the cops to her peers thinks having a gap-year job at 13 is weird.

#312 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 07:50 PM:

Bob from Accounting worked within the system to correct a grave injustice...

Well, there's this guy on Humans of New York.

#313 ::: Danny Sichel ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 08:07 PM:

Urusla@298 - "Bob from Accounting worked within the system to correct a grave injustice"

You realize that this exact scene features in The Incredibles, yes? His name was even "Bob".

#314 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 08:26 PM:

I could easily deny the specific concept of the Subconscious (as it comes from the Freudian model of mental architecture), but I would never deny that the mind works on levels that it doesn't have explicit awareness of. So I wonder which it is that Wright denies--a specific model of the mind, or the capacity of a person to be thinkiing more things than they know they think?

#315 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 08:33 PM:

Diane Duane's Young Wizards series deals with the adult/child interactions around the adventures in a number of ways, starting with "the adults just don't notice" trope but moving rapidly on to where the adults are forced to recognize that their children have unique talents and obligations, and to acknowledge, with great difficulty, that they need to allow them the opportunity to use their talents - even at the risk of their lives. Both the kids and the adults in those books are pretty idealized, but it's nice to have *some* fictional models of loving supportive families.

Tying back into the discussion of religion in F&SF, the Wizard's Oath strikes me as very Buddhist-influenced. The later books get pretty far into some essentially Zen Buddhist ethical questions (for example, what does "No killing" imply about our ethical obligations to cancer cells which really want to live?) to the point where I was unsurprised to see Dogen Zenji's "Moon in a dewdrop" quoted in the epigraph to one of the last few books.

#316 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 08:41 PM:

@ 311 - Eh, I'd argue that expecting a six or seven year old to stay home alone in the middle of a raging storm is...not entirely sensible. But even if we accept she had a valid reason, there's also the scene where he and Ponyo are in a boat, in a flood, in a mandatory evacuation, and the authority figures just wave them on when they say "Going to find my mother!" That bit blew my suspension of disbelief in ways that, say, the scale issues on some of the fossil fish didn't.

#317 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 08:42 PM:

ChIP, #281: I thought that was "third person limited", but I could be wrong. Oh, and your use of "epic" reminds me that Lord of the Rings is definitely MPoV, especially after the Companionship is broken up at the end of FOTR.

Even YEC types believe in dinosaurs, as in "believe that they existed". What they reject is the idea that dinosaurs died out before humans existed, hence the giant fraud that is the "Creationist Museum", which purports to show "evidence" (all faked, and quite poorly so) that human beings and dinosaurs co-existed.

HelenS, #283: Ah, but you see he is Good and Pure Of Heart and Protected By God -- no evil spirit would ever dare whisper in his ear! One wonders if he's ever read The Screwtape Letters... (And I see Zack got there before me @286!)

UrsulaV, #293: I took it for granted (though at this late date I don't recall why) that the bad guy was bad, not because he was a member of the Church, but because he was corrupt and wanted Isabeau for himself. In hindsight, that sounds as though I read him as a Phony NiceGuy who was all lovey-dovey until the bitch failed to put out and then went batshit crazy, with a side of "well, if I can't have her then NO ONE can!"

#318 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 08:45 PM:

Stephen Sample @ 310: Someone else who remembers the Enright books! I've always loved them--one of the things I loved about them was that, though the adults might have been absent for much of the adventure, they always stepped up when they were needed. (And sometimes in quite extraordinary ways--like when the father in the Melendy books decides to adopt an extra kid mostly because his own children had already decided that the boy was their brother . . .)

Clifton #315: The Duane books do a good job of dealing with that "we mustn't tell the grown-ups" trope. I always liked Diana Wynne Jones's Magicians of Caprona for similar reasons: the action centers on the kids, but the warm, loving, and supportive (if occasionally extremely irritating) families are still there . . . and not ignorant of what's been going on, in the end.

#319 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 09:59 PM:

Lucy@314: So I wonder which it is that Wright denies--a specific model of the mind, or the capacity of a person to be thinkiing more things than they know they think?

The latter, as far as I could make out from the post. "An unconscious mind or unaware awareness sounds like a contradiction in terms, and the idea that an unaware awareness is aware of abstractions like plot and theme and symmetry and so on is nonsense." http://www.fstdt.com/QuoteComment.aspx?QID=103412

But I should probably shut up about this, given abi's hint above.

#320 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 10:23 PM:

Lee, #317: UrsulaV, #293: I took it for granted (though at this late date I don't recall why) that the bad guy was bad, not because he was a member of the Church, but because he was corrupt and wanted Isabeau for himself. In hindsight, that sounds as though I read him as a Phony NiceGuy who was all lovey-dovey until the bitch failed to put out and then went batshit crazy, with a side of "well, if I can't have her then NO ONE can!"

That is exactly how I interpreted it, the first time I saw it (also the next 25 times). He's not bad because he's religious, he's bad because he's a person abusing the power of his position (which just happens to be in the church) to destroy the lives of two lovers because the woman had rejected him.

Abuse of institutional power is quite a common theme, not just in spec fic but in a lot of regular fiction and TV and movie plots. Given that religions and monarchies were two of the earliest institutions which wielded great power, it's hardly surprising that high-ranking personages in each of these feature prominently as villains in all kinds of fiction.

As atheists were usually the ones not in charge of anything, and being burnt at the stake, it's hardly surprising that they rarely feature as villains in anything but religious fiction.

#321 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2015, 11:42 PM:

UrsulaV #316: there's also the scene where he and Ponyo are in a boat, in a flood, in a mandatory evacuation, and the authority figures just wave them on when they say "Going to find my mother!"

I have not at all seen the work in question, but your description makes me think "well, the authority is likely already dealing with all sorts of craziness, and as far as the flood, the kids are already in a boat and apparently know how to use it."

#322 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 12:47 AM:

All this talk about religions in SFF makes me want to write a story where a Christian, a Muslim, a Hindu, a Wiccan, and a Buddhist all have to work together, combining prayer, magic, and stillness, to save the world; where ALL of their religions have power, but differently, and Evil was counting on the impossibility of them uniting for its victory.

Neil 121: (It's an awkward metaphor that uses a lot of words to get not much more effect than saying "The tired autumn sun was setting." But I don't think it's actually confusing.)

It is, however, actually bad. Cringeworthy. EoA + spellcheck.

rcade 168: Wow, even for Torgersen, that's some pretty extreme self-valorization. He's right about one thing, though: he'll never win a Hugo. But I doubt that's an actual sacrifice on his part! He's wrong about pretty much everything else, of course. If his God is telling him he's doing the right thing...I wonder what god he's listening to.

#323 ::: Russell Letson ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 01:49 AM:

Whatever happened to "A rabbi, a priest, a mullah, a lama, and a minister walk into a bar. . . ."?

#324 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 01:56 AM:

UrsulaV @307: "(People default to dead a lot, mind you...)"

All of them do, eventually.

#325 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 01:59 AM:

And the bartender says, "what is this, some kind of joke?"

#326 ::: Zora ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 02:04 AM:

#323 Russell: It would be more fun if it were a rabbi, a priest, a mullah, a llama, and a minister walking into a bar.

#327 ::: Cubist ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 02:10 AM:

sez xopher halftongue @322: "If [Torgersen's] God is telling him he's doing the right thing...I wonder what god he's listening to."
Loki? Coyote? The King in Yellow?

#328 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 03:40 AM:

xopher halftongue, #322: "If [Torgersen's] God is telling him he's doing the right thing...I wonder what god he's listening to."

Cubist, #327: Loki? Coyote? The King in Yellow?

Or possibly the LSD. Look at all the pretty colors...

#329 ::: Rick Moen ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 03:54 AM:

Mary Frances @ 27: As a rough generality FWIW, the '-sen' suffix tends to be Danish or Norwegian, while '-son' tends to be Swedish. There are of course large numbers of exceptions.

I guess we Norwegians will take the hit for Torgersen, then -- unless it's Denmark's turn to be embarrassed. (C'mon, Danes, we took the fall for Michele Bachmann née Amble, for gosh sakes.)

Rick Moen
rick@linuxmafia.com

#330 ::: Rick Moen ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 05:15 AM:

Alex R. @ 170: I'm no Anglican but did grow up as one of very few Yanks attending the British government school in Hong Kong, where they still took C. of E. matters fairly seriously. In a nutshell, yes, the Anglican Church does have the practice of the consecrated host, but there are several politely differing schools of thought within the Church about what it means. The Wikipedia article covers this well enough: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anglican_eucharistic_theology

David W. @ 192: It might be of interest that the people behind the Helsinki in 2017 bid rather emphatically stated (loosely paraphrasing from memory) that despite Castaglia House operation's theoretical geographical locus in Finland, it has no connection whatsoever with Finnish fandom and tends to be profoundly out of step with the views of those fans. (Fair disclosure: My wife and I have been strong supporters of both the 2015 and 2017 Helsinki bids -- keeping the world in Worldcon.)

Doug H. @ 228: As past Chair of Bay Area Skeptics and incidentally but non-relevantly an unreligious person, I am somewhat pained when I hear people using phrases like 'the atheist/skeptic "fandom"'. The skeptic movement was supposed to be about encouraging fair examination of testable factual fringe-science/fringe-medical claims, full stop, not sententious sermonising about normative ethics, irrespective of what that asstastic ex-fundie Shermer thinks, and irrespective of what the late Prof. Kurtz did in the last few years of his life to damage the credibility of his own skeptic group, CSI né CSICOP.

Yes, you hear lots of voluble 'atheist/skeptic' critters online, but in my experience they're basically obnoxious cannot-shut-up atheists who think vague finger-wagging on diverse topics means they're also skeptics. (Nothing whatsoever against atheists qua atheists: Many of us unchurched people somehow never became theists without also suffering the delusion that the world must keep hearing endlessly about said personal non-revelation.)

Kimiko @ 292: 'Test.'
Pass.

Rick Moen
rick@linuxmafia.com

#331 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 06:13 AM:

Rick Moen, #330: It might be of interest that the people behind the Helsinki in 2017 bid rather emphatically stated (loosely paraphrasing from memory) that despite Castaglia House operation's theoretical geographical locus in Finland, it has no connection whatsoever with Finnish fandom and tends to be profoundly out of step with the views of those fans.

Yes... but how do you keep the nutjob white supremacy group from showing up at the convention center and making things miserable for the con attendees -- especially in a country that small, when it's only a 1 to 5-hour trip by car, bus or train to show up?

#332 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 06:45 AM:

JJ #331: Well, how have Denmark law-enforcement or other authorities dealt with such situations in the past? Even without looking it up, I'm sure they've had something.

#333 ::: Eimear Ní Mhéalóid ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 07:43 AM:

a story where a Christian, a Muslim, a Hindu, a Wiccan, and a Buddhist all have to work together, combining prayer, magic, and stillness, to save the world; where ALL of their religions have power, but differently, and Evil was counting on the impossibility of them uniting for its victory.
Well, it doesn't quite do that, but S.M. Stirling's Change series absolutely has co-operation between several of the above religions as a vital part of the solution to saving the world. Of course the other part of the solution involves hitting the enemy hard with lots of pointy things.

#334 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 07:44 AM:

David @332: Finland and Denmark are different countries. Rick @331: Finland is 50% larger in land area than the UK, and roughly 500 miles north-to-south, so not quite so small.

Finally, I assume Finncon will have a conduct policy like any other recent worldcon? If a "nutjob white supremacist group" shows up, they can be asked to leave the instant they cause any trouble. If they don't comply, we're into public order policing territory: and I suspect that, post-Breivik, the local white supremacist fringe are very much on the police radar and will be taken seriously. We're not talking South Carolina here ...

#335 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 07:45 AM:

David @332: Finland and Denmark are different countries. Rick @331: Finland is 50% larger in land area than the UK, and roughly 500 miles north-to-south, so not quite so small.

Finally, I assume Finncon will have a conduct policy like any other recent worldcon? If a "nutjob white supremacist group" shows up, they can be asked to leave the instant they cause any trouble. If they don't comply, we're into public order policing territory: and I suspect that, post-Breivik, the local white supremacist fringe are very much on the police radar and will be taken seriously. We're not talking South Carolina here ...

#336 ::: Lurks-no-More ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 08:27 AM:

#330: As a Finnish SF fan, I'd like to second this. Before the current Puppy flare-out, neither I nor any of the Finnish fans I know personally had ever heard of Castalia Press. It has no connection with Finnish fandom, and Sad/Rabid Puppies have nothing to do with the "Helsinki in 2017" bid whatsoever.

(I, and a lot of other people, will be really disappointed and angry at the Puppies if this somehow ends up preventing us from having the WorldCon in Finland.)

#337 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 08:33 AM:

Bruce Baugh @135 I think it's obvious that Rabid Puppies is an opportunistic swipe at all kinds of things that annoy VD. At least I hope so. Setting up a publishing house because you want to save Western Civilisation™ is something I can understand and maybe even respect (although I don't agree with the need or nature of the saving). Trying to create a dark mirror of Tor to take revenge on people associated with it seems both convoluted, petty and far too much work for too little payoff.

#338 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 08:39 AM:

Pondering the religion-in-fantasies matter bought me to recollect The Name of the Rose, in which William (through Adso) serves as a window into the reality of a medieval religious community.

#339 ::: cyllan ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 09:01 AM:

UrsulaV @297: for some reason, nobody worries about the Weavers or the Bakers coming after them

Which only goes to show that we have a lack of historical perspective/imagination. If my vague remembrances of my medieval history class are even close to correct, the dyers guild was probably one of the nastiest organizations out there. People took the color of their clothing *very* seriously in times when getting a good red required a ridiculous amount of money, and god forbid you wanted purple.

Bakers got up to some nasty acts as well and were certainly responsible for the deaths of any number of people. "I know! If we add chalk-dust to our flour, it'll look better, keep the weevils down, AND it'll be cheaper. Also, now people will be eating chalk dust instead of bread, but bah! They're likely to die of the plague tomorrow anyway."


#317 ::: Lee : (With assist from JJ)
" In hindsight, that sounds as though I read him as a Phony NiceGuy who was all lovey-dovey until the bitch failed to put out and then went batshit crazy..."

Agreed. I also was less aware of the Bishop as Clergy and more as Authority/Power figure who gets to be Clearly Bad because he was not only batshit crazy but was also breaking his vows against the church. While watching the film -- then and now -- the Church as an entity is not corrupt or evil; this one guy is, and that is highlighted by his disregard of his clerical position. Curious that this viewing hasn't really changed even as my own faith has shifted fairly radically. I wonder if that is because watching Ladyhawke now isn't so much watching a movie as it is connecting with teenage me.

#340 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 09:07 AM:

Rival gangs of silk merchants are the antagonists in Kurosawa's film Yojimbo, just to note. Unusual and cool.

#341 ::: inge ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 09:27 AM:

Ursula V @ #293: "Why is the Church always the bad guy?"

For a snappy answer, I guess "power corrupts" will do. Also, making an outsider the antagonist has its own issues.

Though, if one didn't even have to look as far as the old city wall or one's own grandparents to see what church power has done, making a cleric the bad guy becomes painfully unoriginal. There needs to be a William of Baskerville or a Friedrich von Spee somewhere.

I actually like reading about people doing their job to the best of their abilities, be they Bob the SysAd or Bren the interpreter (Cherryh's books are filled with people doing their jobs.) But story tends to happen when things are not business as usual.

#342 ::: Rick Moen ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 09:36 AM:

Lurks-no-More @ 336: I believe the way staff of the Helsinki in 2017 bid (and prior 2015 bid) put it -- and, again, I'll have to loosely paraphrase -- is that looking into Castaglia House showed that it appeared to have exactly one caretaker-like person in Finland, who has no connection to Finnish fandom. (It's an Internet micro-publisher.) Mr. Beale himself resides in Switzerland, for whatever it's worth.

If I've mis-paraphrased what Eemli Aro or any of the other bid staff said on this matter, I apologise, and perhaps they will speak up to correct anything I got wrong.

Charlie Stross @ 335: If you look closely at comment #331 that appeared unclear on the size of Finland, that wasn't from me but rather someone confusingly posting under moniker '33' who quoted me. No big deal, but this Transpondian does know his Northern Europe. I was in fact the guy walking around the SECC during 2005's Glasgow Worldcon in a t-shirt bearing the legend 'McOlson's Lutefisk Burgers / One Sold' and being amazed no Brits appeared to get the joke. I was thinking 'C'mon, blokes, it's only a 75 minute, £40 flight from Aberdeen to Bergen, but you've never heard of lutefisk? Surely nobody's that insular.'

Rick Moen
rick@linuxmafia.com

#343 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 09:39 AM:

Charlie Stross #334: Whoops, braino on my part there, big sorry to all.

#344 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 09:58 AM:

Rick Moen @342:

Is lutefisk actually still a thing in Norway? I had a vague sense that it was far more common among Minnesotans of Scandinavian descent than it actually was in Norway. This article seems to agree with that assessment.

#345 ::: Rick Moen ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 10:10 AM:

loran @ 344: Lutefisk is still a traditional torture^W seasonal food at Christmas time in Norway.

I should 'fess up that this is second-hand knowledge. Dad was from Kristiansund; I was born 1/3 of the way around the planet in Palo Alto. And I've never ingested the awful stuff. My wife's parents had two requirements for any suitors for their daughter. Her dad (Irish-American) required the bloke be a Tom Lehrer fan. Her mom (Swedish-American) required that he not like lutefisk. I met spec.

Swedes spell it 'lutfisk' but also keep a second culinary bio-terror-weapon in reserve called surströmming (fermented Baltic herring). Cans of it have been known to explode, hence are unwelcome on airplanes and (for that matter) elsewhere in civilised society.

Bon appétit.

Rick Moen
rick@linuxmafia.com

#346 ::: Russell Letson ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 11:16 AM:

Zora@326: Ooh, I wish I'd thought of that. It actually suggests a punchline. Something about multiple-choice test questions or spell-checkers, maybe. Of course, it makes it into a eye rather than ear joke.

#347 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 11:50 AM:

Steve Wright #263: The horrible things is that communion wine in the C of E is generally the cheapest wine around. In Jamaica, where I was last a churchgoer, this was a horror called Red Label. Not recommended for anything except rapid inebriation.

#348 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 11:53 AM:

#341 inge

Cherryh's books are filled with people doing their jobs.)

Yes! It's one of her strengths, but I think it gets underappreciated.
In Rimrunners Bet Yaeger, the viewpoint character, is a hardass sort, but those who extended kindness to her as something the people were doing of their own volition and innate goodness, she respected and was highly sympathetic to. Other hardasses, "she knew the game" and game-played, the kind sorts she had warm feelings and respect for, the rest " blow you to hell" and she quite cold-bloodedly and remorsely was more than willing to dispose.

Ah, I obscured the point there--the point was actually about the people who were kind and generous to her, when there was on obligation or need for them to help her, and they were shorting themselves and bending rules for her sake.

There's the line in one of the Chanur books from was it Tully, saying that the kif was just an ordinary sapient, a powerless small fry trying to get by who'd landed in an untenable situation and was flotsam and jetsam rescued by Pyanfur Chanur. Tully is turned out was projecting his own history onto the kif, however....

There are books where clerics are not the villains.. St someone or other of the Videcon in some SF novel, various clerics in some of Patricia Briggs' work, at least one priest in Jim Butcher's series, Jim Macdonald's Father Peter Crossman,, varius Katherine Kurtz characters, the ministers in Twelve Fair Kingdoms by Suzette Haden Elgin are not villains, the hero of Gabriel's Ghost and the sequel to it by Linnea Sinclair, is an ordained cleric, David Weber and Elizabeth Moon in their fantasy universes have characters who are ordained as officials in their religions, and the characters and their deities often share in being good or evil--evil priests of Liart an evil deity, versus the good clerics who are follows of Gird (who is a saint rather than a deity), and there are various paladins called on missions by their deities or talked to by saints....

#345 Rick

My brother-in-law does a ritual retelling of the day his grandmother dropped the plateful of lutefisk and his entire generation of siblings and cousins were thrilled that they were being spared the annual torture session.

Meanwhile, what's worse, durian on a plane or surtromming?
I suspect the latter, I've smelled, eaten, even, the former. I've seen the looks on people's faces on TV food shows or segments who tried the latter essentially forced into it. None of them had anything postivie to say and their facial experssions, ugh!!!

#349 ::: Rick Moen ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 12:20 PM:

Paula Lieberman @ 348: In San Francisco, there's a small independent ice cream parlour (Mary Ann's) that specialises in strange, outlandish flavours of all descriptions. Their much-dreaded Durian flavour rolls around on their figurative guitar a few times a year -- and, they say, it never fails that someone living near their production facility calls SFFD to report a gas leak.

Further to loran @344: I actually wouldn't know from Minnesota culture, Scandinavian or otherwise, except from watching certain Coen Brothers films. (Born in CA, college in NJ, sorry but no MN in this Scandinavian family.) However, as Mr. Lincoln said, I'm sure it's the sort of thing that will be enjoyed by those who enjoy that sort of thing.

#350 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 12:25 PM:

Tom W. @ 288: fair points, albeit assuming a particular trend continues (see, e.g., Nancy's counter); I was comparing them with outright tragedies like Quicksand.

UrsulaV @ 293: I see your point about powerful institutions, but I don't see guilds as an alternative even if trade didn't read as boring because there were so many guilds; I would wonder about a plot depending on one guild being either massively powerful by itself or capable of dragging enough other guilds with it to have that effect. I don't dispute their power in their spheres -- or the ability of their power to hurt people -- just the extent. [[ducks under a shower of counterexamples....]]

abi @ 302: as someone who is still periodically gobsmacked by people's beliefs -- yes.

cyllan @ 339: but was the chalk a guild action? IIRC, guilds tended to enforce better standards; corrupt individuals were individual cases (cf the reads on the Bishop, which I concur with). [[ducks again]]

Rick Moen @ 342: "In Europe, 100 miles is a long distance. In the US, 100 years is a long time." I understand the first is less true these days; in parts of the US, the 2nd is both more and less true than it ought to be.

#351 ::: Rick Moen ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 12:40 PM:

Chip @ 350: Quite so, and, IIRC one comment I read about Brust and Bull's game 1997 attempt to revive the epistolary novel with Freedom and Necessity was that you could tell it was written by a pair of Americans, because it was featured British characters in 1849 just getting on a train to travel 200 miles and thinking nothing of it. (Loved it anyway.)

But rumour has it that UKIP deem the Dover-Calais strait insufficient and are taking up a collection to airlift Great Britain and Northern Ireland to just east of Bermuda.

#352 ::: Doctor Science ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 01:15 PM:

rcade @168:

Reposting the comment I just left on your blog:

So he's *explicitly* putting himself & his gang on the side of Treason in the Defense of Slavery. I am boggling, holy shit.

It's a good analogy, don't get me wrong! There's a reason James McPherson has called it The War of South Carolina Aggression. I just didn't think he would say it in public.

Rogers, were there any comments to the post before he took it down? Is it possible that someone pointed out that putting oneself on the side of slave-owners might be bad publicity?

#353 ::: Jennifer Baughman ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 01:19 PM:

</delurking>

Something that struck me about Diane Duane's Young Wizard books--Nita and Kit's parents are good parents and good people, involved with their kids, and loved and respected by their kids. There is, of course, conflict--an entire subplot in Deep Wizardry considers "what to do about the parents", and the conclusion that Nita and Kit come to is, I think, unusual for YA literature.

For that matter, wizards in that particular universe are the system. They're representatives of the ultimate system, that of Life. The One that's working against the system is the Lone Power, and look where that's gotten It...

#354 ::: Deirdre Saoirse Moen ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 01:27 PM:

rcade @ 144:

I just want to know what a no-adjective womb looks like.

#355 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 01:52 PM:

Bulletin from the Hugo shortlist front: If this comment on my blog is to be believed, "Wisdom from my Internets" by Michael Z. Williamson (pub. Patriarchy Press) was basically a satire on that particular mind set, and fell victim to Poe's Law when the RPs/SPs added it to their slate.

If true, Beale trolled himself.

#356 ::: rcade ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 02:20 PM:

Doctor Science # 352: Rogers, were there any comments to the post before he took it down?

The Google cache didn't have any comments in it. Torgersen said something in another discussion on his blog about being contacted shortly after he published it and persuaded to take it down.

I don't know what he meant by comparing himself to a general of an army fighting to preserve slavery.

Torgersen announced Sad Puppies 3 by claiming the Hugos were being used as an "affirmative action award," so people could wonder whether there's any racial ill will at play here despite his family background.

But personally, I like to think he identifies with the South because he knows this is a war he will lose.

#357 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 02:37 PM:

Charlie, #355: This does not change the fact that the book has no discernable relationship to SF/F except for having been produced by someone who has had some SF books published, and should have been ruled ineligible for the "Best Related Work" category on those grounds.

#358 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 02:56 PM:

#330 ::: Rick Moen :::
The local Episcopal (USA) congregation I worship at asks for Harvey's Bristol Cream donations for the Communion libation. (fun sidelight: one of the things you learn as the Eucharist Minister (sometimes called lay minister) is how to prevent teenagers (not just boys) from trying to chug the goblet.)

I hadn't heard before of the re-branding of "skeptic." I've gotten more than slightly tired of those self-identifying as "skeptic" calling any kind of worship as "praying to the sky fairy"

It's sometimes really tempting to shower them with the counter examples of "what did the international atheist community do about that they are complaining the [fill-in-the-denomination-blank] Church didn't do enough to alleviate" Thank you, we *are* aware that our institutions don't always (often?) come up to the mark we want. Most of us are working to make it better, thank you.

/end-peevishnish

#359 ::: Chris L ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 03:36 PM:

Lee @357: Could the award committee rule out a nomination based on whether a work is SF/F or not? I thought that was left up to the discretion of the nominators--if enough of them think the work is science fiction, then it is.

#360 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 04:23 PM:

Lee @357, Chris L @359

I don't think it should be ruled ineligible. Not because it deserves to be on the ballot, lord knows, I don't think it's a Related Work, let alone one of the best. But just as there's no Archbishop of SF to decide if Best Novel etc. is science-fictiony enough, the only thing that makes a work related is the whim of the Hugo electorate.

I would say that Williamson should have refused the nomination, but quite apart from him not being in opposition to the Puppies, the slate makers and over a hundred nominators said it should be considered as one of the Best Related Works. It's not entirely disgraceful to accept their judgement, no matter their motives.

The Hugo awards as constituted rely on the wisdom and good sense of the electorate. Even without the precedents in the category I wouldn't wish the role of judge of what-is-related-enough-to-be-allowed-on-the-ballot on anyone.

#361 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 04:23 PM:

Charlie @355: It's a nice theory, but I feel your commenter is attempting to rehabilitate someone who identified far more with the RW than not (even though Mike identifies publicly as a libertarian); he's thoroughly into the guns-n-gore school of Baen authors. He's also the last reason I left the Bar, when he not only failed to stop the racists' jokes that erupted upon Obama's election as President (in 2008), he added to them. Any invocation of Poe's Law is inadvertent, in my humble opinion.

#362 ::: Rick Moen ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 04:30 PM:

Craig R. @ 358: As we have All Learned Painfully at Full Measure, the Internet, even without the mixed blessing of pseudonymity, permits J. Random Crank to claim ownership of any abstract concept. This was always a common failure mode of the term 'skeptic', and once the nutters figured out how to use Web browsers, all we of the various local skeptic groups could do is to say 'Your anti-religion crusade has no discernible connection to what we're about, your special pleading about 'rationality', etc. will not avail, and please go away.'

Trying to keep this brief:

The late Prof. Paul Kurtz breaking any number of promises to keep CSICOP separate from his nobody-cares secular-humanist group CODESH = Council for a Democratic and Secular Humanism didn't help (they're now inseparably conjoined inside 'Center for Inquiry'), and ex-fundie Michael Shermer's sententious Skeptic Society in Los Angeles didn't help either, because now we have to also say 'Not like either of those.'

I thought Kurtz's acronym 'CODESH' clever as a wry play on the Hebrew word for 'holy' -- but have no use for the group otherwise. If I recall correctly, he founded CODESH after clashing with traditionalist humanist group AHA = American Humanist Association because they found his abrasive hostility to all matters religious to clash with their values.

Kurtz correctly perceived that CSICOP had all the hard-won credibility and nobody particularly cared about CODESH, but his heart was apparently in the latter as a 'AHA didn't accept me but I'll show them' measure, so he shotgun-married his organisations before he died, as his legacy -- and thereby took heroic measures to destroy CSICOP's mission. As he signed the cheques, nobody else could stop this. Gee, thanks, Prof. Kurtz.

(My views, certain to be argued with, et cetera.)

#363 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 04:32 PM:

Lee writes in #357:

[Williamson's book] ...should have been ruled ineligible for the "Best Related Work" category on those grounds.

Chris L writes in #359:

Lee @357: Could the award committee rule out a nomination based on whether a work is SF/F or not?

To the best of my understanding, no.

I thought that was left up to the discretion of the nominators--if enough of them think the work is science fiction, then it is.

I believe this is correct. Lee's opinion may be that it ought to be otherwise.

Not only is defining SF or fantasy a minefield that Hugo administrators wisely avoid, deferring to the judgment of the voters, but the definition of the Best Related Work category is written quite broadly. Historically, all kinds of stuff has been nominated.

Dramatic Presentation nominees have included "News Coverage of Apollo 11" and The Right Stuff.

#364 ::: Daniel Martin ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 04:41 PM:

It's several comments old, but I'll note that one other alternative to adults that aren't "ineffectual, neglectful, gone or dead" in literature featuring pre-adults is to make the adults evil.

The Runaways series of comics does this. (Well, at least for the first dozen or so comics)

I suppose you could stretch things to say that the series that begins with the book Uglies does this too, though that's probably more an example of "gone," even though to the extent to which the protagonist's parents are gone they are just behaving as is expected in that society.

Of course, that's something much more for YA than for childrens' lit.

#365 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 04:47 PM:

re 362: Ah yes, the Blasphemy Day guys. Charming.

#366 ::: Rick Moen ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 05:03 PM:

C. Wingate @ 365: Yes, exactly those clowns, who are a prime reason why yr. humble unchurched self prefers to put distance between himself and the a-word, instead labelling himself a Reformed Apathist, or alternatively as a Frisbeetarian (which /usr/games/fortune documents to be the conviction that, when you die, your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck).

The late Robert Anton Wilson also decreed me a Discordian Pope, so I may run with that.

#367 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 05:08 PM:

Didn't RAW declare every man, woman and child on the earth to be a Discordian Pope (Mome)? Or at least replicate cards that said so?

#368 ::: Rick Moen ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 05:14 PM:

James @ 367: Splendid! Shall we commence in a proper Discordian spirit by declaring anathema on each other in koine Greek? And then, perhaps, break for pinochle?

#369 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 06:00 PM:

Rick Moen, #342: Charlie Stross @ 335: If you look closely at comment #331 that appeared unclear on the size of Finland, that wasn't from me but rather someone confusingly posting under moniker '33' who quoted me.

I am quite clear on the size of Finland, and I will point out that the vast majority of their population is within approx 5-6 hours of Helsinki.

I will also point out that Stross' comments here give me concern about this.

Maybe I am being overly concerned where I need not be. I certainly hope so. But given the way VD has been able to mobilize minions here in the U.S., at this point very few things he does would surprise me.

#370 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 06:00 PM:

Bill H., #363: Ah. I had thought there was a bit more in the way of qualification involved than that, but I have not paid extensive attention to the history of the Hugos and bow to the expertise of those who have.

That said, I still don't think it has the remotest shred of relation to SF aside from being by an author who has had some SF books published; it's like nominating Asimov's Annotated Guide to the Bible in the BRW category. And on the basis of that opinion, I will not rank it at all on my ballot.

#371 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 06:02 PM:

I'd be happy as a clam in the deep tide to see blasphemy laws in the US be abolished.

If someone wishes to take the name of anybody's deity in vain , it's not my problem. I have my own religious views to deal with, and it's my own Soul In Peril.

If I want to say I find the P**s Christ offensive, that's my choice. It's not my concept of viable art. But I don't see it as something that, under my (or anybody else's) concept of religious usage should be declared against the law of the civil government. Ditto for the petty laws that can be used to penalize someone who is upset because they drop a brick on their foot and there happen to be (presumably delicate) women or (presumably innocent) children present.

And I certainly do not see blasphemy as any reason at all for violence against either people or property.

#372 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 06:22 PM:

CHip 350: The point that occurs to me is that my favorite stories don't really reside in the land of absolutes like one all-powerful insitution with one big bad hierarchical structure anyway. The complexity of a middling-sized institution that is both beneficial and oppressive is more conducive to the kind of stories I want to read.

So I think "outsider tries to qualify as guild journeyman" or "guild member challenges the establishment" or "workers attempt to establish a guild to further their interests" are interesting conflicts to act as story seeds.

#373 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 06:24 PM:

Rick Moen @362

I am sorry to hear it. I used to be involved with CSICOP a long time ago, and while it had peculiar blind spots, I appreciated its straightforward message of scientifically testing assertions.

I am sorry to hear its mission went awry.

Is there somewhere to find a concise history of What Happened?

#374 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 06:32 PM:

I think it's reasonable at this point to note that the late, great PTerry featured guilds and guild politics in several of his works -- including at least two of the three interesting conflicts that Lucy Kemnitzer mentions @372.

#375 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 06:36 PM:

Xopher Halftongue @322: All this talk about religions in SFF makes me want to write a story....

I want to read that story.

(Though, somewhere in there, somebody's got to make the obligatory "walks into a bar..." joke. :-> )

#376 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 06:38 PM:

Bill Higgins, #363:

Lee writes in #357: [Williamson's book] ...should have been ruled ineligible for the "Best Related Work" category on those grounds.

Chris L writes in #359: Lee @357: Could the award committee rule out a nomination based on whether a work is SF/F or not?

Bill: To the best of my understanding, no.

Chris: I thought that was left up to the discretion of the nominators--if enough of them think the work is science fiction, then it is.

Bill: I believe this is correct. Lee's opinion may be that it ought to be otherwise.

Not only is defining SF or fantasy a minefield that Hugo administrators wisely avoid, deferring to the judgment of the voters, but the definition of the Best Related Work category is written quite broadly. Historically, all kinds of stuff has been nominated.


I've seen Kevin Standlee say numerous times (and sorry, I really did try to find an example, but was unable to do so quickly) that (paraphrasing) "SFF is what SFF fans say is SFF".

In other words, if enough people nominate to get it on the Hugo ballot, then for all intents and purposes, it is SFF.


I'm feeling intensely uncomfortable with all the calls I've seen (not just here, but all over Facebook and the rest of the internet) for direct intervention to disqualify votes or works or voters or to bar Worldcon attendees, by the judgment of the Hugo Administrators.

This is my cultural taboo. We, SFF fans, do not engage in any sort of "fixing" as a response to Puppy fixing.

Sure, if a well-thought-out Hugo Rules adjustment can hinder future slate takeovers without creating even bigger loopholes or problems, I'm fine with that.

But we do not throw votes or works or people out just because we don't like them or agree with them.

#377 ::: Rick Moen ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 06:41 PM:

Craig R.: The little-appreciated key fact about blasphemy laws in the United States is that, precisely like antique pre-Independence clauses in the constitutions of several states that purport to bar the irreligious from public office, they persist because they are never applied, hence nobody ever gains standing to challenge them in court. Thus they are meaningless humbug.

You can find a great deal of hyperventilating about both sets of meaningless legal curios among online atheists, advocating that Someone! Take! Action! Now!, but never a word about them being judicial NO-OPs.

Because that would be realism, and when you're running a crank ideology effort, that's the last thing you want.

Peace Is My Middle Name @ 373: There was a newsletter I helped maintain among the local skeptic groups in the late 1980s / early 1990s, in which we-all (under the impromptu name 'Network of Local Skeptic Groups') discussed what appeared to be going weirdly transrational at CSICOP, but I know of nothing since. In any event, if you look at back issues of Skeptical Inquirer, you can find the exact issue where they rewrote and IMO butchered the famous and ringingly terse CSICOP mission description on the back cover to accommodate Prof. Kurtz's tactical re-imagining of the concept of 'inquiry'.

Rick Moen
rick@linuxmafia.com

#378 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 06:43 PM:

Lucy Kemnitzer @372, some years back I read a novel (I think there were at least two in a series, possibly more) about a young woman trying to break into the stained-glass guild. (The strongest memories I have of the story is of ure rarzvrf qryvorengryl tvivat ure yrnq cbvfbavat gb gel gb fgbc ure, naq bs ure xarryvat sbe ubhef nf chavfuzrag ba n fgbby jvgu zrgny tynff gbbyf ba vg (creuncf gurl jrer rzobffrq ba vg) fb gur gbbyf yrsg oehvfrf ba ure xarrf.

After a quick google, I find that it's The Glasswrights' Apprentice by Mindy L. Klasky.

#379 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 07:14 PM:

JJ @376: I'm feeling intensely uncomfortable with all the calls I've seen (not just here, but all over Facebook and the rest of the internet) for direct intervention to disqualify votes or works or voters or to bar Worldcon attendees, by the judgment of the Hugo Administrators.

This is my cultural taboo. We, SFF fans, do not engage in any sort of "fixing" as a response to Puppy fixing.

From my position as an extremely marginal SFF fan, I agree with this all the way. The whole mess has blown up because Torgersen, Correia, Beale et al. want to set themselves up as arbiters of what is or is not allowed to be "proper SF". I, for one, do not want to play their game.

#380 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 07:34 PM:

@ 371 ARRRRGH I'm so sorry but you just stepped on one of my hot buttons, please feel free to disregard rant to follow--

About "Immersion" aka the Piss-Christ.

That thing got the worst press of any piece of art in the last couple decades, and it was, in Your Obedient Servant's opinion, utterly undeserved.

First off, it was a photo. And Serrano spent DAYS taking photos of what was a cheap plastic crucifix immersed in liquid (which included both blood and urine) and fiddling with lighting and taking more photos until he got one that was a frankly gorgeous image of this 99 cent cross looking like it was glowing. (And if he hadn't come out and told people in the title that it was urine, nobody'd have had the faintest idea.)

The symbolism that I take from it was that the crude dross of the physical world, no matter how base, could not tarnish the holiness of the cross and that even in this nasty, bloody, stained existence we find ourselves in, the Light of the World shines and transcends and makes all things holy.

And good god, I'm so lapsed a Catholic that I couldn't recite the Nicene Creed without a cheat sheet, but that's what I got out of it.

Serrano--himself a Catholic--stated explicitly that it was not meant in any way to be anti-religious, but to make people think about treating crucifixes as a fashion accessory when they were representations of a man dying, covered in blood and filth, and yet through that coming holiness.

And people got their panties in a wad because they thought government dollars went to fund blasphemy because OMG urine, and swear to god, some of those people screaming wouldn't have known art OR divinity if it came down and bit them in the ass. It's as much art as anything I've ever created in my life, and at least twice as holy.

(pant, pant)

End rant. Sorry. That one's hair-trigger, but thankfully it doesn't come up much. Very sorry. Will go drink gin and calm down now.

#381 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 07:43 PM:

I am quite clear on the size of Finland, and I will point out that the vast majority of their population is within approx 5-6 hours of Helsinki.

Here in Europe, a six hour trip is regarded as a long way.

Getting neo-Nazis to travel for 6 hours to cause trouble at a science fiction convention, deal with the police who are expecting it, and then, if not arrested, travel 6 hours home again...

all sounds uninviting. Especially when Beale doesn't live in Finland and none of these neo-nazis have ever heard of him, or care about science fiction in the slightest.

#382 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 07:59 PM:

UrsulaV writes:some of those people screaming wouldn't have known art OR divinity if it came down and bit them in the ass

Now I'm thinking of a story where Art and Divinity literally bite people in the ass [why? we're in media res!], and nobody understands.

Then Art makes a bet that they'll know it's her before they recognize Divinity, and Divinity is all "does it have to be their ass?" and Art is all "Whoa, don't go there!!"

And then a pattern in bite reports shows up in hospital records, and Alfred tells Batman about it...

#383 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 08:07 PM:

389
Which reminds me of a story my mother told about one of her friends who was trying to describe the color of paint she wanted, saw a vial of urine and said 'That's the color!' because it was the bright golden yellow she wanted.

#384 ::: Hob ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 08:11 PM:

UrsulaV @380, thank you, that was worth saying and I didn't have the energy to. I agree about the aesthetic and conceptual quality of the photo. Also, it was a poor choice of example for what Craig was talking about, because no one ever said the artwork was illegal for religious reasons or any other reason; the controversy was of the more familiar "I'm outraged that an artist like this got government funding" variety, which does not depend on the existence of blasphemy laws.

#385 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 08:13 PM:

Never mind the size of Finland, Spokane is half an hour on I-90 from Idaho. Should we be worrying about right-wing militias? (I don't think that's a serious worry, but to call state borders "porous" overstates how solid they are.)

#386 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 08:15 PM:

Craig R @371, haven’t blasphemy laws been abolished in the US? There are some still on the books, but haven’t they been unenforceable since Burstyn v Wilson (1952)?

#387 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 08:22 PM:

Paula @348: A friend of mine has described the experience of eating durian as "eating a really delicious-tasting fruit, in a room full of rotting corpses!"

I've had it fresh, when I was in China. It was divine. A couple of odd notes on the experience:

* Durian smelt good to me when I'd been eating a lot of garlic, and not when I hadn't! More surprising at the time than in retrospect. They both get their fragrance from thiols, if I recall correctly.

* I remember breathing in the fragrance of a fresh whole durian as I split it open, alone in my apartment, and thinking it was intensely redolent of motor oil/diesel, but in a good way.

(Coffee also has some of these acquired-taste sulfur compounds. I think so does marijuana?)

#388 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 08:25 PM:

UrsulaV @380, I’ve got a similar rant about Chris Ofili’s “The Holy Virgin Mary,” which has a lot of similarities. In both cases, the artist creating the work was Catholic. In both cases, the work was seized upon by an ambitious right-wing politician seeking to attract attention (in Serrano’s case, by Jesse Helms seeking to shut down the National Endowment for the Arts; in Ofili’s case, by NYC mayor Giuliani, who tried to cut off Brooklyn Museum’s city funding). In both cases, critics mis-describe the work in an attempt to make careful artistic decisions seem casual and careless (in Ofili’s case, the piece is routinely described as “smeared” with elephant dung, which it is not).

#389 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 08:46 PM:

@Craig R. no. 358: There's been a refreshing lack of invisible-sky-fairy talk on this thread. There was a thread here a while back where the drift of the conversation was "God only of the Gaps, therefore no God," and when I started talking about immanence somebody actually told me, "Bless your heart."

#390 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 09:04 PM:

Rick, #377: OTOH, I do understand a certain amount of concern about having these "never-applied" statutes still on the books, because it's always possible for someone to decide to apply one of them selectively; there have been several examples of this sort of thing being done to members of various pagan groups*. And then it's a crap-shoot about at what level do you encounter a judge who both understands that the law is unenforceable and is willing to say so (aka risk not being re-elected, or having a recall effort mounted against him). If you're lucky and get that at the county or state level, it's popcorn-worthy; if it has to go up the federal court system, you're looking at the very distinct possibility of someone's life being wrecked. (Hell, you may be looking at that even at the local level, if the locals are assholic enough.)

Now, the easy fix for this kind of problem would be to simply have the statutes repealed, which doesn't require a legal case. But the minute someone suggests it, the batshit-crazies do what they do best and shit all over everyone and everything associated with the call for repeal.

So... not as simple as it looks at first glance, especially not from the POV of someone who might actually be affected by the statute in question.


* Murray Porath has a song about such an example, in which he was personally involved.

#391 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 09:24 PM:

Rick Moen @377

I am pretty sure any remaining issues of "The Skeptical Inquirer" have been lost in one of my intervening moves. I do recall that around then is when I started getting a sort of uneasy vibe about the skeptics community and quietly let my subscription lapse.

#392 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 09:30 PM:

Hob @384

And the artist didn't even get government funding. Serrano was a privately funded British citizen in a privately funded British gallery and never saw a cent of US government money.

The whole mess was a tissue of deliberate disinformation start to finish, an excuse to defund and starve the American arts of even the miserable pittance it was grudgingly permitted.

#393 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 09:43 PM:

It's not just that under the WSFS rules no individual or committee is authorized to say "this isn't a related book," in the same way that nobody has the authority to throw a work of fiction off the ballot for not being sf or fantasy: I defy anyone to look at the list of previous winners and finalists in that category and come up with a definition that includes all of them but excludes the Williamson book.

For example, in 1981 the voters got to choose between Cosmos, a volume of Asimov's autobiography, DiFate's Catalog of Science Fiction Hardware, and a massive anthology of Walt Willis's fanwriting. (I'll make it easy and let you skip 1987, which included Batman: the Dark Knight Returns.) The "related works" for 1990 included Le Guin's Dancing at the Edge of the World, a book I am still fond of, and one that includes poetry, essays, and short stories. In 1992, when the Hugo was won by The World of Charles Addams, the finalists included The Bakery Men Don't See, a fundraising cookbook for the Tiptree Award.

In a normal year, it can be a very hard category to vote for, because "which of these is a better short story" is a much easier question than "Is this restaurant guide a better restaurant guide than that graphic novel is a graphic novel?" (By now I feel as though I'm writing a "sun or spiders" query for Randall Munroe's "What If": and I've only gotten to the year 2000.)

#394 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 10:00 PM:

Am I the only one, btw, whose head insists on pluralizing the last word of Williamson's title?

#395 ::: MickyFinn ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 10:19 PM:

@394, David Goldfarb

Well, I wasn't pluralizing it before, but I am now.

#396 ::: MickyFinn ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 10:19 PM:

@394, David Goldfarb

Well, I wasn't pluralizing it before, but I am now.

#397 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 10:27 PM:

UrsulaV @380 - I for one really appreciated your hair trigger rant (and the discussion that has followed). The indignation and outrage in response to "Immersion" bothered me from the beginning, but I never got the full story on its symbolism before reading your exegesis here. Thank you.

==

JJ @376, Steve Wright @379: Contrariwise, if the community taboo against "fixing" the vote results in yielding the Hugos to a future of competing slates, I expect the spirit of the Hugos will latch onto something like The Mulligans, where when the nomination long list is released, the community's focus realigns to those works that the slates had shut out. The spirit of a fan-community-chosen award would continue, even if the preferred award couldn't be given in a ceremony at Worldcon.

Not ideal, but not all-hope-lost either.

#398 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 10:28 PM:

(Sorry - delete that link for The Mulligans, replace it with this one for the "Long List" Anthology.)

#399 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 11:09 PM:

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little, #397: "Contrariwise, if the community taboo against "fixing" the vote results in yielding the Hugos to a future of competing slates"

To my mind, SFF fans coming up with slates to compete with Puppy slates falls into the category of "fixing" of the sort that we do not -- must not -- do.

As Marc Blake has pointed out, "You do not maintain the high ground by digging a parallel trench."

I will vote to end the Hugo Awards permanently before I will support fighting Puppy slates by proposing counter-slates.

#400 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2015, 11:54 PM:

Cubist 327: Loki? Coyote? The King in Yellow?

Cthulhu? Setesh? The Walker Behind?

Niall 381: Here in Europe, a six hour trip is regarded as a long way.

This reminds me of the saying that "Americans think 100 years is a long time; Europeans think 100 miles is a long way." It takes me 5 hours in plane flights alone, more like 8 when all is said and done, to go visit my mom, and we live in the same country! (Well, technically. I live in the NYC Metro Area, and she lives in Southern California. Closely related languages spoken, and culturally not much more different than, say, Spain and the Czech Republic.)

#401 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 12:25 AM:

400
It's seven to eight hours from my place to my sister's place, driving, and I never get out of one state. (L.A to bay area, pretty close to 400 miles, and stopping for breaks at least three times.) Same language, but different in attitudes and scenery - she has a fine view of San Pablo Bay.

#402 ::: Daniel Boone ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 12:37 AM:

beth meacham #274 "I assure you that PNH doesn't take offense at your candid opinions of David Weber's novels. No more than I do at people's candid opinions of Orson Scott Card's novels..."

That's a relief, because he fairly could have, inasmuch as I directed my criticism straight at the editing, without knowing (or, to my shame, stopping to consider) what real person I might be impugning thereby.

Card's novels I have always rather liked, with a few exceptions. But it's very possible for an author's works to be more likable than the author is!

Why anybody assumes that a publisher is not primarily motivated by what sells remains a bafflement. In the case of the various puppies who say they hew to conservative values, it's doubly curious. Do they not believe that publishers are profit-seeking self-interest maximizers?

#403 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 01:02 AM:

Ursula @380:

That was beautiful, and deeply meaningful, and thank you.

#404 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 01:39 AM:

Niall McAuley, #381: "Here in Europe, a six hour trip is regarded as a long way. Getting neo-Nazis to travel for 6 hours to cause trouble at a science fiction convention, deal with the police who are expecting it, and then, if not arrested, travel 6 hours home again... all sounds uninviting. Especially when Beale doesn't live in Finland and none of these neo-nazis have ever heard of him, or care about science fiction in the slightest.

I am well aware of the difference in travel-time perceptions between the U.S. and countries which are much smaller.

It's entirely possible that someone will be able to say things which allay my concerns. But vague, unsupported reassurances -- however well-meaning -- do not do so.

How many people are affiliated with this group? How many of them live in or near Helsinki? How many of them are willing to travel a lot further if they are persuaded that they can strike a blow against "the gays, the blacks, and the Jews"? You don't know. Neither do I.

I'm guessing, by what you've said, that you've not ever paid much attention to the methods of hate groups. Such people do not care about travel time, or expense, or inconvenience. They care about their mission. Being arrested is a badge of honor for them.

And why would the police be expecting them? Based on the incidents listed at that link, it doesn't look as if the police were expecting them at those other places, either.

VD -- who is quite prominent on the internet as a rabid advocate of these agendas -- is supposedly associated with this group. And it's well established that the Finnish group is associated with them. When you say that "none of these neo-nazis have ever heard of him", you got this information from... where? I think it is entirely likely that they know who he is -- at the very least.

Despite being located in Europe, VD managed to mobilize a lot of GGaters and other haters in the U.S. this year. We are now dealing with the result of all of us being good people and not believing that anyone would actually behave this horribly with regard to the Hugos.

And given that his pub house partner, the one who dissed Finnish SF fans so contemptuously, is located in Helsinki -- well, really, is it wise for us to claim that him pulling the same stunt over there just isn't even a possibility, and not at least taking time to think about it, and figure out ways to prevent or counteract it?


#405 ::: inge ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 03:44 AM:

Paula Lieberman @348: The first time this really hit me in one of Cherryh's books was in "Downbelow Station". Things falling apart, yet protagonists are doing their jobs with an engineer's work ethic that the way to keep things from falling apart is to keep them together.

Craig R. @358: "what did the international atheist community do

What community? (Not going into why no community, or why opposing blasphemy laws, because that's neither here nor there.)
Also, "The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones."

JJ @376: Yes. I am uncomfortable with that, too. Trying to out-rule a destructive rules-lawyer is a futile exercise which mostly leads to everyone but a rules lawyer becoming bored with the game.

JJ @404: Europe is densely populated, and 12 hours on the trains will take you halfway across the continent. You'll never be more than a one-hour-drive from some loon who might feel like stirring up trouble and be able to mobilise a gang, or just to commit some terrorism on their own. One cannot arrange one's life around keeping what might feel like a safe distance.

#406 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 04:59 AM:

inge, #405: "Europe is densely populated, and 12 hours on the trains will take you halfway across the continent. You'll never be more than a one-hour-drive from some loon who might feel like stirring up trouble and be able to mobilise a gang, or just to commit some terrorism on their own. One cannot arrange one's life around keeping what might feel like a safe distance."

One cannot arrange one's life around keeping what might feel like a safe distance from harassers or creepers, either.

But we still draw up Con Harassment Policies.

#407 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 07:08 AM:

#385 Vicki

I know Idaho isn't Illinois. But still, I read your comment and of course I hate Illinois Nazis

Giggle

#408 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 08:06 AM:

inge #405: As far as rules laywers -- we do have a solid contingent of those of our own, who also have fannish sensibilities, and have been beating on this for a thousand-odd messages worth. (And may I note that this crisis has been pulling fellow-travelers out of the woodwork?)

In fact, glancing into the second "wonk thread", they seem to have gotten down to drafting A Proposed Revision to the Hugo Award Nomination System.

#409 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 09:17 AM:

JJ writes: Despite being located in Europe, VD managed to mobilize a lot of GGaters and other haters in the U.S. this year.

Well, yes, if "mobilize" means he got them to send a email or two and and spend 40 dollars.

Of course security should be alert for trouble, but there is no reason to think Beale has an army of Finnish minions at his command from his secret lair in the Alps. He's not a supervillain, he's just a scumbag.

#410 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 09:34 AM:

#380 ::: UrsulaV :::
No need to apologize. Yes, it is a very good photograph. And I still find it objectionable. But I don't want to ban it. By its very nature "Art" will be interpreted uniquely by each person involved with it, either by creators or audience. The message it yields for me is a different one that it yields for you. My objection is that *that* immersion, either urine or blood, betokens a symbolism of despair, rather than hope and redemption. But then I'm just simple-minded in my symbolic processing.

I hope you made it a double gin. Sounded like you needed it.

#386 ::: Avram :::
"Unenforceable" =/= "being charged with / harassed using"

Some jurisdictions will still charge people, either because (if I'm being charitable) the local judges and LEOs don't know or (if I'm being cynical) because the judges and LEOs figure those *charged* either don't know or are afraid to challenge.

#411 ::: Lurks-no-More ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 09:48 AM:

JJ @369 -- You are worrying too much. FRM is a nasty bunch of right-wing yahoos, yes, and they've committed violence in the past. However, their actions stand out exactly because they're so unusual.

Also, I know for certain that the people organizing Helsinki's bid in 2017 are aware of the Puppies, and I'm absolutely sure they will take them into account, inasmuch that would be necessary.

#412 ::: Mercy ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 10:24 AM:

Question from a fairly new Hugo voter: if I bought a Sasquan membership now, would I still be able to vote on site selection?

(Helsinki I might be able to make in a couple of years --I'm in Germany, but I couldn't make Loncon last year, sadly. I'd love to see a Worldcon in person someday.)

#413 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 10:52 AM:

412
I'd expect that to happen.

#414 ::: ULTRAGOTHA ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 11:05 AM:

Mercy @412

The deadline for Sasquan to *receive* a mailed-in site selection ballot is, IIRC, August 10. The ballot is out on their web site right now. You can pay ($40 USD) in check or money order now, with on-line payment coming Kinda Soon Now.

So yes, still lots of time to join and vote.

Note, you have to pay Sasquan a $40 fee to become a Supporting member, and then you also have to pay the Voting fee of $40 to vote in Site Selection. You can pay Sasquan their $40 Supporting Member fee electronically on their site when you join, but they don’t have the Site Selection electronic fee ready to go yet (no, I don’t understand that either).

Your $40 Site Selection Fee also gets you a supporting membership for whichever bid wins the 2017 WorldCon.

#415 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 11:07 AM:

Eh. I'm with the "you're worrying to much" side, though perhaps for slightly different reasons. In my opinion--as someone who has no chance of visiting Helsinki, ever, even though I'd love to, and who probably won't be able to go to a WorldCon in 2017 no matter where it is--I think Washington DC might actually be a bigger magnet for loons of any variety. That Castalia House is located in Finland makes me feel sorry for Finland, frankly, but I doubt it means it's that big a draw. DC, now . . . assuming a high number of US citizens involved in this mess, DC has a history for pulling people in large numbers for all sorts of Reasons.

So I kind of think maybe we're getting ahead of the argument, and while the people involved with both 2017 site selection bids certainly need to be prepared to face questions about security and harassment policies, I imagine that they'll have answers when the time comes. And I also imagine that those are (unfortunately) questions people will need to ask of all site selection bid committees in the future, just on general principles--the world being what it is today . . .

#416 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 11:08 AM:

Mercy, #412: Yes, you can still vote on site selection.

#417 ::: Mercy ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 11:29 AM:

Thanks to ULTRAGOTHA@414 and Lee@416 for the info.

#418 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 12:22 PM:

Regarding the atheist discussion, I'll just say I *am* an atheist.

The issue with the laws on the books continuing because they aren't enforced--that seems to me to be part of the problem rather than evidence of how toothless they are. They aren't enforced because an out atheist mostly can't get elected in those states*, prompted in part by a general belief that atheists are just unpleasant people, which in turn is supported by applying a double standard that judges atheist expressions of their world view much more harshly than those of theists and particularly Christians, and spreading the blame for transgressions under those circumstances much more widely.

*and certainly not one who believes in fairness to atheists to the point of publicly challenging such laws; that would be the kiss of death for their political career.

Ursula V @380 Thank you for that explanation of Piss Christ. I had heard of the work, (due to people freaking out over it) but had not had it explained to me in that way. The idea of love shining out through the dross of the world is a beautiful one, in part because it does not need to be limited to the supernatural to be moving.

#419 ::: Rick Moen ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 12:35 PM:

Lee @ 390: I don't want to sound totally dismissive about blasphemy prosecutions (or, for that matter, fossil bans in several US states against atheists holding public office, placed there before the American Revolution against Lord North's policies), but can't find any. Wikipedia (FWIW) says the last US jailing for blasphemy was 1838 and the last conviction (vacated on appeal) 1928.

I see that filker Murray Porath indeed wrote a song called 'Blasphemy', but never heard the story, and hope it was juicy. Personally, I'd consider 'Tried for blasphemy in Kentucky' (or the like) a prime ornament for my resume.

At the risk of telling you what you already know, yes, laws are only as good as the judges who apply them, and yes, fossil dumb laws can be removed but someone must expend political capital to do so, and people generally have more practical things they'd rather accomplish with limited time and effort.

JJ @ 404 [insert 'not found' joke here]: This bugaboo of 'Stormfront' is oft exaggerated. As a Norwegian-American, I sometimes cross paths with this lot of net.random ankle-biters, as do some friends who profess Asatru faith, and said collection of net.randoms haven't seemed like much to me, though life is full of surprises, so as you say, who can tell?

Mary Frances @ 415: Concur that DC makes a fine loon magnet. On a 1989 private tour of the White House, of all the things I saw, what was most striking was the daily logbook of security incidents in the small basement Secret Service office. It was only 11am, and the sheaf of papers was already about 40 sheets thick, many being nutters who'd jumped the perimeter fence and been quietly intercepted. I should hasten to add that DC will if selected make an excellent 2017 Worldcon venue, as I'm sure will any of the candidates.

#420 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 12:40 PM:

What does Montreal's 2017 bid look like? Does it involve some of the folks who ran 2009's worldcon?

#421 ::: Rick Moen ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 12:47 PM:

Cat @ 418: If I lived in 'those states' and was annoyed by Bible Belt wackery, personally I'd move.

That having been said, the most recent cause celebre was 2009 when non-religious public servant Cecil Bothwell ran for city council in Asheville, North Carolina. A tremendous flap among online atheists followed, such as Hermant 'the friendly atheist' Mehta saying 'Atheist Elected to Office Cannot Legally Serve on account of Article 6, section 8 of the state constitution.

I looked into it. The flap was raised by one 'H.K. Edgerton, former Asheville NAACP president', local crank 'known for his years of promoting "Southern heritage" by standing on streets decked out in a Confederate soldier's uniform and holding a Confederate flag' who claimed he was going to file suit enjoining Bothwell from office. Much to-do followed among, pardon the phrase, your lot, Mehta asking for help from the ACLU, etc., etc.

Bothwell got elected. Edgerton didn't even bother filing his nuisance lawsuit. And I discovered that all this occurred in Buncombe County, the place that gave us the word 'bunk'.

You couldn't write this stuff as fiction, because nobody would believe it.

#422 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 01:16 PM:

ULTRAGOTHA @414: Neepery about why the Site Selection electronic payment isn't set up -- the money for site selection goes into a different account, and getting the bank to link a payment system to any new account requires jumping through a bunch of bank hoops that are being difficult right now. Sasquan will have the online payment system up soon, but I haven't heard an official ETA because banks. There's no advantage (other than a sense of closure for the voter) in having a vote in early: they're not actually counted until much later.

#423 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 01:19 PM:

I will vote to end the Hugo Awards permanently before I will support fighting Puppy slates by proposing counter-slates.

Agreed, though I probably won't make it to Sasquan.

If anyone has an Indonesian or Malaysian restaurant near your house, they will frequently have durian ice cream available.

#424 ::: Rick Moen ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 02:13 PM:

Cat @ 418: At the risk of driving my point into the ground, Hermant 'the friendly atheist' Mehta somehow never got around to saying 'Gee, I guess I was totally wrong about the supposed dire threat to the Republic from Asheville, NC black conservative "Confederate soldier" colourful eccentric H.K. Edgerton's loose talk of filing litigation to block an atheist from serving on Asheville's city council'. Nor did any of the others who'd embarrassed themselves in online atheist forums via fortissimo-volume Viewing with Alarm.

Your remark suggests you think what prevents challenge of the fossil bans against office is inability of 'out' atheists to get elected in the US Bible Belt. The example of Cecil Bothwell shows exactly why this belief is mistaken: Here is an atheist serving his duly elected term, but he would have no standing to challenge fossil Article 6, section 8 of the NC constitution because it has not been applied to him, i.e., because he was seated and serves his office.

Which is why I said the alleged threat of state bars against atheists in public office (and, I'm pretty sure, blasphemy laws) in the USA is -- and I chose my word judiciously, here -- bunkum. It's not because 'atheists can't get elected'; it's because the fossil laws are unapplied, hence no standing arises.

#425 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 02:28 PM:

Rick, #219: The song I was thinking of was "Kentucky Witch Trial", for which I can't seem to find lyrics online. And yes, it's very juicy and very funny, and involves not blasphemy but someone who wanted to set up as a psychic reader and ran into a (mostly figurative) witch hunt.

"He says she's a witch!"
"A what?"
"No, a witch."
And that got very old very fast...

#426 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 03:18 PM:

Rick Moen @ 351: Snap^2!

Kemnitzer @ 372: entirely agree that grays are more interesting; my point on guilds responded to the statement (complaint?) that they weren't used for black-and-white stories as State and Church were.

PJ Evans @ 383: my sister once identified a color by pointing to somebody's shirt on a hot day, which is why "sweatstain pink" was a family joke for decades.

#427 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 03:30 PM:

UrsulaV -- BTW, if you ever make up Boston way to ARISIA, look me up: I'll be glad to buy you that double Gin.

I get my daily ration of religion clash against non-believer easily met -- I'm married to an agnostic/leans-to-atheist and both my sons are non-believers. And I'm a lay minister.

But, somehow, we do all get along.

Usually.

I guess.

#428 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 03:45 PM:

Rick Moen @424, while the issue of standing is relevant to efforts to get a law judicially overturned, how would it be relevant to an effort to have a law legislatively repealed?

#429 ::: Rick Moen ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 05:16 PM:

Avram @ 428: It's not, which is why I addressed that matter separately. As I said, tha would require someone expending political capital to overturn a disused bit of hokum, and in general politically active people have much better things to do with limited time and effort.

In con-running, we talk about the concept of 'people points', which are the money-equivalent in fannish time & labour. Getting things done typically requires a mix of some amount of actual money plus some number of people points. The more money you have to burn, the fewer people points you must expend.

Politics doesn't use the same jargon, but I think they'd recognise the concept. The favours you must call in, and the staff and/or volunteer time you must use to, say, run a successful campaign to amend North Carolina's constitution to remove the irrelevant-because-unused Article 6, section 8 that was put there in (around) the 1600s, are then unavailable to do other, more useful and practical things.

But if you think it's the most important task in North Carolina's entire public agenda, feel welcome to move there and have fun storming the castle.

Rick Moen
rick@linuxmafia.com

#430 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 06:43 PM:

Sometimes fossil laws are repealed not on their own but buried as part of a vast reorganization of the state's legal code. This is how sodomy bans were repealed in several states.

#431 ::: Rick Moen ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 06:54 PM:

Lee @ 425: Murray Porath's lyrics are indeed sadly not online, but I found the full title and a description over at ars.userfriendly.org (Ave J.D. 'Illiad' Frazer!):

'I wish I could find the lyrics for Murray Porath's "Kentucky Witch Trial Blues"; the song details an incident in which he was the attorney for someone who was actually accused in court of witchcraft. The judge, however, had a better grasp of reality than the plaintiff, and the finding was for the defendant.'

(Which confirms that this was indeed demented civil litigation rather than demented prosecution.)

#432 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2015, 09:41 PM:

Lurks-no-More, #411 and Mary Frances, #415

Thank you. Those comments do allay my concerns a little. I haven't had the chance to review the con bid packets yet, but I will be looking to see what sort of contingency plan(s) do or don't exist for the case of organized disruption by malign actors.

I'd really like to hope no such thing would occur, regardless of location. But at this point, I think we're being a bit naive and ostrich-like if we fail to consider it and plan accordingly.

#433 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2015, 01:02 AM:

JJ @399:

To my mind, SFF fans coming up with slates to compete with Puppy slates falls into the category of "fixing" of the sort that we do not -- must not -- do.

As Marc Blake has pointed out, "You do not maintain the high ground by digging a parallel trench."

I will vote to end the Hugo Awards permanently before I will support fighting Puppy slates by proposing counter-slates.

No no no no no, I'm with you on this. What I was saying is, even if Hugos 2015 marks the point where it all went downhill, Rabid Puppy slates forever unto the horizon, and there is no way to stop them that wouldn't, as you say, constitute "digging parallel trenches..." Well, in that sad hypothetical future, the Hugos may well diminish in meaning, but something in their spirit would take their place. The joy of discovering and recognizing SFF literary greatness would continue in another form.

Basically, I'm agreeing with you, and being optimistic about even the worst case scenario.

#434 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2015, 02:55 AM:

I will be looking to see what sort of contingency plan(s) do or don't exist for the case of organized disruption by malign actors.

Unfortunately, it may already have happened.

http://kotaku.com/gamergate-booth-kicked-out-of-canadian-comic-expo-1698538297

#435 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2015, 03:21 AM:

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little, #433: What I was saying is, even if Hugos 2015 marks the point where it all went downhill, Rabid Puppy slates forever unto the horizon, and there is no way to stop them that wouldn't, as you say, constitute "digging parallel trenches..." Well, in that sad hypothetical future, the Hugos may well diminish in meaning, but something in their spirit would take their place. The joy of discovering and recognizing SFF literary greatness would continue in another form.

Thanks for your clarification. I agree. They may -- may -- be able to kill the Hugos (though the jury will still be out on that for several years). But you are right -- the spirit of the Hugos will survive in some other form, because there are enough people who care about SFF, about recognizing excellence and advancement and innovation in the genre, that they will figure out a way to make that happen.

#436 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2015, 06:01 AM:

If anyone thinks that blasphemy laws ended in the 60's, may I cordially invite you to find a current edition of Son of God Comics, illustrated by Neil Adams? 21st Century Communications, AKA The National Lampoon, got hit with a 236 year old blasphemy law on that one and lost.

#437 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2015, 06:30 AM:

"The National Lampoon, got hit with a 236 year old blasphemy law on that one and lost."

Did that one actually reach a court? What I've been able to find online, e.g.

http://www.democraticunderground.com/123031723

suggests that National Lampoon stopped publishing them after a lawyer threatened to take them to court. I haven't found any mention of the lawyer's name, but I don't see any indication it was a prosecutor or other state official; I'm guessing it was a private citizen.

The article at the URL above notes that the lawyer's case wouldn't have prevailed, due to the First Amendment, but "it can be a long, expensive legal battle". I suppose it could have, but when you have a Supreme Court precedent that blasphemy laws are unenforceable, I'd think a good lawyer could get it dismissed in fairly short order (perhaps even with sanctions)-- just like a lawsuit filed for any other spurious reason.

#438 ::: Craig ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2015, 09:52 AM:

That is the point of these unenforced archaic laws; they express state hostility and permit continued legal harassment.

A comparable situation: where I live (not the USA), abortion is technically illegal, but the law is unenforced due to previous court rulings that extended "welfare of the mother" exemptions to the point where "I don't want to have a baby" was sufficient.

But there have been several cases where judges with a personal objection stretched this grey area in obnoxious ways; for example, refusing compensation to patients harmed by medical negligence involving abortion on the grounds that you can't be compensated for injury recieved during the commission of a crime. Similar reasoning has resulted in some truly obnoxious rulings involving rape survivors.

Unenforced blasphemy laws show their teeth by synergy when other laws affecting religious minorities come into play.

#439 ::: Lady Kay ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2015, 10:35 AM:

I will say that DC (the National Capital Area, not necessarily the bid) has the tools to handle a lot of craziness without going overboard. In general, all of the additional police forces (Secret Service, National Capital Police, FBI) require a few years of experience with a good reputation on a local police force before an applicant can be considered.

There are other places that handle protests and political actions well, New York City handling the UN General Assembly every year comes to mind.

#440 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2015, 10:48 AM:

I definitely see the problem with having unconstitutional laws on the books, waiting for someone to try a nuissance prosecuton with them, or for some ambitious and amoral prosecutor to try to use them to hammer some unsympathetic defendant.

However, I think referring to that as the "purpose" of those laws' continued exiistence is kind-of silly. They were put into the law long ago when they had an actual purpose--perhaps prosecuting people for blasphemy, perhaps signaling to voters how deeply the politicians who passed the law cared about blasphemy[1]. And now, they're still there, so they may occasionally get repurposed to harrass someone. Getting rid of them would take effort. Most people are surprised that they still exist and would rather see them gone from the law, but since they're rarely or never actually used, getting rid of them is a pretty low priority. (If there were a campaign to remove them, someone would fight to keep them, if only to signal what doughty culture warriors they were. And some jackhole or other would make 30-second attack ads against the people repealing those laws, smearing them as anti-Christian or something.) I guess if these laws started being enforced very much, or became a big media cause ffor a few years, they'd be removed.

[1] That would be my guess.

#441 ::: Nix ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2015, 12:09 PM:

Rick Moen@377: Meanwhile, in the UK, the Mayor of Tower Hamlets, a man who valiantly tried to bring Bangladeshi-style mob-intimidationist do-it-all-for-the-one-great-leader politics to the UK, has just become the ex-Mayor of Tower Hamlets and had his election voided. The judgement says, in (very small) part:

"564. Controversial though it may be, and likely to cause offence, it is none the less the clear duty of this court to hold that the participation of the Muslim clerics in Mr Rahman’s campaign to persuade Muslim voters that it was their religious duty to vote for him and, in particular, the Imams’ letter, did, however unwittingly for most of the signatories, cross the line identified by Andrews J between what is permissible and what is impermissible.

565 Sadly, therefore, the court feels it has no option but to find that there was undue spiritual influence contrary to s 115(2) of the 1983 Act."

Undue spiritual influence! It's like something out of a historical novel.

#442 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2015, 12:52 PM:

Rick Moen @ 421

Don't I wish I could move to a more sensible state!

Rick Moen @ 424

Yes, you are driving your point into the ground. I wonder why.

Suppose there was a "fossil law" on the books forbidding Jews to hold office, that cranks threatened to invoke on those rare occasions a Jew got elected? Would that be okay?

Craig @438

Yes, exactly. These fossil laws, and the manifest unconcern about them because they only affect despised minorities and then only if a member of that minority has offended a mainstream citizen or official so why bother, make it clear to those despised minorities what their status is, and that they had better keep their heads down and make sure they don't offend real citizens.

albatross @440

They don't have to be enforced very much to have a chilling effect.

Witness this very discussion.

#443 ::: Laertes ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2015, 01:02 PM:

Cat @442: I'm inclined to take your view of these statutes, but Rick Moen's point about how nobody has standing to judicially challenge a law that's never enforced is persuasive, and hasn't been answered in any effective way. That unfortunate business about "I wonder why" seems like the sort of remark one regrets a few minutes after pushing "send." Is it?

#444 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2015, 01:27 PM:

I'm having considerable doubts about the "Son-O'-God" story, given that it is mentioned in every book relating to NL, but none of them mention a suit or even threat of litigation. One book mentions that pressure from the Catholic Church got RCA to pull out as an advertiser over another story that appeared in the same issues, and I did find a reference to a real suit in 1977 against the magazine using the 1697 law, which was dismissed; this was long after the main SoG run.

#445 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2015, 02:40 PM:

Albatross@440, Cat@442

Indeed, they don't have to be enforced *at all* to have a chilling effect: it's enough if someone thinks 'I wouldn't want to/wouldn't have the resources to fight a lawsuit even if I won: better play it safe.'

(I guess some regular commenters already know this, but it's probably worth mentioning in this context that despite my 'nym, I'm an atheist like Cat; though my current thoughts on what's required for something to have a chilling effect are informed less by that than by the constant trickle of students receiving suspended sentences for sharing uncomplimentary stories about Turkish politicians on social media.)

Laertes @443:

'Rick Moen's point about how nobody has standing to judicially challenge a law that's never enforced is persuasive, and hasn't been answered in any effective way.'

Avram's point @428 seems like an effective rejoinder. The response that no-one can spare the political capital to overturn these laws isn't a refutation of the claim that atheists aren't treated as equal citizens: it's further evidence in favour of that claim.

#446 ::: Laertes ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2015, 03:15 PM:

praisegod barebones @445: Since we're declaring, I'm (more or less) an atheist too, and I'm well aware that some of these goofball laws were aimed at me.

Avram's point at 428 is a good one, and surely correct as far as it goes, but I'm not sure it directly addresses the issue. The state of play as I understand it is that there are some laws in place that, on their face, seem to bar me from office. Though these laws would collapse in an instant if challenged judicially, that's not likely to happen since they're never enforced. They could, as Avram points out, be repealed legislatively, but there's little urgency to do so since these laws don't appear to be doing tangible harm to anyone. I'd like to see them gone, but I can't imagine any legislature would ever run out of better ways to spend their spoons.

So these laws seem to affect my life about as much as some old law that requires the driver of a horseless carriage to stop every fifty yards and wave a lantern.

I've never felt the sting of genuine second-class citizenship. As a cisgendered het white male in America, it's never been part of my experience. I pull up short when I'm invited to feel like a second-class citizen because I'm an atheist and some dead letter or other theoretically "chills" me. Seems to me that injustice that I have to work really hard to perceive isn't the real thing. I've heard about the real thing from people who've experienced it, and this just doesn't feel like it. I think it'd be disrespectful to people who've experienced real injustice to count myself among them on such flimsy grounds.

#447 ::: Hob ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2015, 04:03 PM:

A minor nitpick perhaps, but as long as we're using Cecil Bothwell as an example it may be worth noting that the unenforced "no atheists in office" language was not from a blasphemy law, but rather the North Carolina state constitution. I believe that's also the case in other states that still have a religious test for public office on the books. State constitutional amendments, while not nearly as difficult as federal ones, still require a lot more effort than normal legislative changes; in North Carolina they require both a three-fifths majority in both houses of the legislature and approval by popular referendum.

Referendum campaigns unfortunately can be very successful for stupid harmful things promoted by demagogues— and, occasionally, can also succeed for good reforms that address an obvious imminent problem. They are much less likely to work for a reasonable legal change whose benefit is entirely a matter of principle.

#448 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2015, 04:30 PM:

As far as the chilling effect is concerned, I'd have to place unenforceable and often obscure laws and constitutional provisions far beneath public sentiment itself, which can find expression in ways that the laws is loathe to touch, except where explicit anti-discrimination law be passed to override natural freedom to sin.

#449 ::: Rick Moen ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2015, 05:31 PM:

Cat @ 442 After I covered not only the 'standing' issue on the judicial side, but also the 'someone would need to expend serious political capital, that is then unavailable for more practical tasks' on the legislative repeal side, all you hear is that I'm 'okay' with already unconstitutional fossil laws? On the whole, sounds like a personal problem.

Craig @ 443: If you (and others who've spoken similarly) are concerned about abuse of such fossils for 'continued legal harassment', don't forget that any remedy you have in mind logically needs to prevent the abuse of all other tort laws for the same harassment. E.g, if you take away a state's fossil blasphemy law, plaintiff can still sue for tortious interference with some business arrangement or other (doesn't actually matter what).

But that would be legally baseless, you say, hence prone to dismissal? Good point. Same as any attempt to use an unconstitutional blasphemy law. But, if you're worried about baseless abuse of one, you'll need to worry about the other, so better repeal the entire corpus of tort law, and keep a wary eye on the criminal codes while you're at it.

#450 ::: Rick Moen ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2015, 05:52 PM:

Hob @ 447: I very carefully specified that it was the NC constitution that was the (alleged) issue conjured up against Cecil Bothwell by local crank and (um) 'bunkum' artisan H.K. Edgerton -- not a blasphemy statute. I didn't bother going through the 3/5 margin required in each legislative house and subsequent voter ratification, as I figured people knew that need to expend 'political capital' to repeal a constitutional clause entails exactly such things.

Anyone who feels he/she is a 'second-class citizen' on account of such meaningless fossils and considers it an urgent issue, feel free to start saving up and expending that political capital. I can't help noticing that online atheists seem to be in a tearing hurry to mostly spend other people's time and effort.

I've also noticed that online atheists (and Kurtzian local humanist groups) seem to be almost the only people who ever mention those seven states' antique constitutional clauses or the unconstitutional blasphemy statutes. How's that persecution complex working for you? And were you the ones who taught it to the Puppies, or was that someone else?

#451 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2015, 06:02 PM:

Standing is an irrelevant red herring in this case. The reason why the laws are unenforceable because of unconstitutionally is precisely because someone in a similar situation did have standing to challenge a reasonably similar law, and won their precedent in court.

Yet the Courts cannot, generally, change the law books. When CJ Marshall said that Congress could not legally extend the powers of the US Supreme Court to include issuing Writs of Mandamus, the law Marbury relied upon to bring suit remained on the books. When the SCOTUS told Virginia that it's miscegenation law was unconstitutional, the unenforceable law remained on the books for decades.

The only way to remove them from the books is for the appropriate legislature to vote to repeal it.

#452 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2015, 06:04 PM:

And were you the ones who taught it to the Puppies, or was that someone else?

I'm not a mod, and I understand you're passionate about these matters, but Rick... Really?

#453 ::: Rick Moen ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2015, 06:48 PM:

Buddha Buck @ 451: Yes, my state of California has many unenforceable-by-court-judgement laws on the books, for example, and there's no easy cure for this except to wait for the cleanups that Allan Beatty @ 430 described (and be aware that caselaw is law, too).

Alex R.@ 451: It was not a real question and far, far more snide than passionate (but the Puppies had to copy somebody, nei?), but if Abi chooses to dsmvwl that snap, then fair cop, gvnr.

#454 ::: Hob ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2015, 06:49 PM:

Rick @450, it seems that you somehow construed my comment @447 as a rebuttal to yours. I have no idea why, unless it's just that you've gotten into an argument and are now generally irritated at anyone who speaks, regardless of what they're saying. I was essentially making the exact same point you made in your third paragraph @429, i.e. that it is harder to campaign for a constitutional amendment than for a regular legislative fix, and furthermore that it is a constitutional rather than a legislative issue in those other states too and not just NC. I was taking your side— albeit without the extra sarcasm about "have fun storming the castle," etc.

However, if you don't want anyone to take your side, just keep saying things like "were you the ones who taught it to the Puppies." Seriously, wtf.

#455 ::: Rick Moen ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2015, 07:04 PM:

Hob, you did say you were nitpicking concerning the example of Cecil Bothwell: Since it was I who raised said example, I think I might be forgiven for thinking you were attempting to nitpick with what I'd said about it.

In any event, I intended no snark towards (specifically) you, and am glad to have that straightened out.

#456 ::: Hob ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2015, 07:22 PM:

Rick, all you had to do to know I was agreeing with you was to read the rest of what I said— like, any of it. And even if you did that and still somehow believed I was nitpicking about your description of a case that I was describing in exactly the same way... how you got from that to "How's that persecution complex working for you?" is still a mystery.

Maybe you didn't intend that last bit for me at all, but were just directing it at all the atheists on the Internet (of which I am not one, btw) even though it was in a post replying to me; if so, it's still a jerky thing to say. You have no cause to accuse anyone here of having a "persecution complex", regardless of whether their legal analysis is sound. Are you seriously unable to understand why most of the people who are concerned about societal of atheism are atheists? Isn't that basic human nature for any minority group? You were doing an OK job of clarifying the legal issues, and most people here had only minor disagreements with you; no reason to get so personal, unless you just want to make sure no one will ever want to bring up that subject in your presence.

So no, I wouldn't say that's been "straightened out" exactly. But I don't have any more to say.

#457 ::: Hob ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2015, 07:23 PM:

typo: "societal of atheism" = "societal treatment of atheism"

#458 ::: Rick Moen ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2015, 07:29 PM:

Hob, the 'persecution complex' thing wasn't intended to be addressed to you. I hoped that was apparent from complex, but I apologise for any lack of clarity.

Nor was it addressed, your assertion notwithstanding, to all the atheists on the Internet (nor did I anywhere so state). However, I beg to politely differ about having no cause to accuse particular ones of those of having a persecution complex. I think that manifest on present evidence, but will leave it at that.

Now, how about agreeing to disagree?

#459 ::: Rick Moen ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2015, 07:30 PM:

Context, not complex. (Damned autocorrect corrected to the wrong noun.)

#460 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2015, 07:42 PM:

John Mark Okerbloom, S. Wingate: all I remember was that the account I read was in one of those brief blurbs in Time, and that the head of 21st Century Communications said something along the lines of "We're in the money making business, not the legal precedent business."

#461 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2015, 08:27 PM:

Bruce Drocher II @436 and John Mark Ockerbloom @437, this whole blasphemy suit thing is starting to strike me as an urban legend. Looking around on the net, I notice that:

Given that timeline, when exactly is this blasphemy threat supposed to have taken place? I’m wondering whether maybe the actual legal case, with the Virgin Mary cartoon, has merged in the fan imagination with the end of the “Son-O-God” strips (which might have ended just because Neal Adams and Sean Kelly had a lot on their plates).

#462 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2015, 08:33 PM:

Rick Moen, you should probably be more careful about making sure that the anger you feel at unnamed third persons isn’t expressed here in the second person.

#463 ::: Rick Moen ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2015, 08:56 PM:

Avram @462: The closing paragraph of my #450, indeed, appears to meet that description. So I do regret the impression thereby created that it necessarily applied to present company. Such was not my intent, and I apologise for that.

I do feel that declaring yourself a 'second-class citizen' on account of antique, legally NO-OP legislative fossils is absurd psychodrama. And remember, I'm speaking as a lifelong non-theist, so suggesting I am 'unable to understand' self-described atheists' standpoints in that matter is frankly pretty hilarious.

#464 ::: Hob ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2015, 03:59 AM:

Rick @463, please stop responding to things I write if you won't bother to read the things I write. The "unable to understand" bit didn't refer to whether or not you understand atheists' point of view in general. It referred to this statement from you: "I've also noticed that online atheists ... seem to be almost the only people who ever mention those seven states' antique constitutional clauses or the unconstitutional blasphemy statutes." My point there, which I really don't think was very hard to grasp, was that it's incredibly unsurprising that "almost the only people who ever mention" a thing that exclusively pertains to group X are in fact members of group X, and that is not a way to judge the seriousness of that thing. That's a cheap, nasty rhetorical move that does not help your argument— one with which, again, I basically agree at least on a political level.

#465 ::: Rick Moen ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2015, 04:28 AM:

Hob: No, I have a keen and ongoing interest in (real) bad laws that don't affect me personally, e.g., my donating money to attempt to defeat CA's Prop. 8 of very unblessed memory. Also, if there were any reality to threats from legal NO-OPs like the NC constitutional clause, many in the broader public would be concerned out of self-interest, starting with me as I am also (as mentioned) unchurched. Yet, crickets.

I tentatively conclude it's a group-cohesion and publicity thing, decrying threats to the flock even if they don't realistically exist. Am open to alternative hypotheses, though.

#466 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2015, 09:41 AM:

Thank you, Hob.

I mean, I realize you're valuing reasonableness for its own sake, but FWIW I appreciate it also.

#467 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2015, 01:25 PM:

Rick: I know nothing about you, but if you are interested in feedback - in this last series of exchanges you are coming across very poorly indeed. (That's a very severely edited version of what I first wrote.) You might want to go back and reread the last half dozen posts you wrote and see how you'd feel if they were aimed towards you.

#468 ::: Cubist ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2015, 02:37 PM:

sez rick moen #463: "I do feel that declaring yourself a 'second-class citizen' on account of antique, legally NO-OP legislative fossils is absurd psychodrama."
Hmm. Do you actually know of anybody who does "declar[e themself] a 'second-class citizen' on account of antique, legally NO-OP legislative fossils"? I certainly don't. I do know of atheists who regard those "antique, legally NO-OP legislative fossils" as one reason among many for concluding that atheists are second-class citizens un the god-soaked USofA, but that's rather different from reaching said conclusion solely and entirely "on account of antique, legally NO-OP legislative fossils". The former makes a good deal more sense than the latter, you know.

#469 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2015, 03:11 PM:

Rick Moen:

Although nothing you've said here rises to the level of needing disemvowelment, I would point out that your comments in this conversation have done very little to enhance your standing in the community. From here, it looks like you've gone to a good deal of effort to dig a deep hole and jump into it.

The chances that when you speak people will listen are much reduced. Obviously, whether or not you care about this is entirely your choice. I, personally, am somewhat sad about it.

#470 ::: Rick Moen ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2015, 05:19 PM:

Abi: What I've seen are a number of people going out of their way to find creative objections to explanation about why unconstitutional blasphemy laws and already-voided constitutional clauses are no realistic threat to anyone, and circling the wagons when I pointed to why pointing in alarm to those fossils is more than a bit silly and makes one wonder why certain ideologue activists keep doing it. I didn't say that to get 'standing', so I'm OK with what you say has resulted.

Cubist: About the second-class citizen bit. Just scroll back to ' The response that no-one can spare the political capital to overturn these laws isn't a refutation of the claim that atheists aren't treated as equal citizens: it's further evidence in favour of that claim', for one.

#471 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2015, 05:37 PM:

I'm a little bit puzzled. Rick Moen @470, in what way is "further evidence" not basically synonymous with "one reason among many"? Because they seem pretty similar to me.

And are you quite sure you mean to be serving yourself another helping of arguhol?

#472 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2015, 05:39 PM:

So maybe "standing" isn't the right word. Let me try a phrase: when you go to the trouble to make a comment, people read it, consider the ideas therein, and engage with you.

It's a thing that happens when you listen to other participants in the conversation, assume they have good reasons for the views they hold, and seek to come to a common understanding before explaining your views. It's not a thing that happens when you use dismissive phrases like "circling the wagons", "idealogue activists", and (especially) "silly".

And really, if you're going to blow the other people in the conversation off to the degree that you have, why put the effort into posting comments? You could have spent the time doing cross-stitch instead, with more lasting effect on the world.

#473 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2015, 06:23 PM:

An analogy I've been thinking about. I'm Canadian*. My government is a parliamentary democracy, and my head of state is, officially, a monarch: currently Queen Elizabeth II of all kinds of places but mostly residing in England and Scotland, very far away from Canada. So we have a Governor General to stand in for her, and the Governor General has veto power over everything that goes through the House of Commons and the Senate; he** can also dissolve or prorogue our government and force an election. This is how the laws governing our government work.

Practically speaking, he dissolves or prorogues Parliament whenever the Prime Minister, who is the head of the dominant party, asks him to. Similarly, the veto power has never, ever been used. If it were to actually be used, there would be an immense kerfuffle, probably involving a lot of shouting and angry gesticulating, and I suspect we would stop having a monarch as our head of state. Mostly, what the Governor General does, as far as I can tell as an ordinary citizen, is hand out awards to various artists and preside over the Order of Canada ceremonies.

So what we have on our governmental books is something that has no practical purpose and has no teeth - an unusable power which would require a lot of concerted political effort to change - and yet informs our national character and assumptions, both internally and as viewed from outside***.

Even invisible threads affect the fabric of a nation if they're woven in.

*this is not a secret, but it's worth stating clearly!
**Frequently she, but it's currently David Johnston.
***Frequent comment I've heard from less tactful Americans, for instance: "You still have a queen? Bah. You're not really your own country."

#474 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2015, 07:17 PM:

It's fairly seldom I run across a word I haven't seen before used casually, and I just want to comment on how useful "prorogue" may be to me sometime in the future! Thank you, Em.

#475 ::: Rick Moen ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2015, 07:24 PM:

Abi: I think there's a Ruskin quotation to the effect that there is societal value even in pulling weeds. I'm sure I don't enjoy it when people advise me that some position I took was silly, but it's sometimes worthwhile to hear, especially when they say why. Which of course, I did.

I guess indeed some of those words were dismissive: You might reasonably conclude that I wasn't trying thereby to persuade the specific people expressing those views, but was expressing my personal view to Making Light readership as a whole. And I try to grant civility to all, but don't therefore regard respect for everything anyone says as an entitlement. Your mileage may differ.[tm]

Should I find much more indirect and genteel euphemisms for 'silly'? I can definitely do at least that much.

Em @ 473: You say that now, but you really ought to look up the King-Byng Affair in 1926, where the reserve powers of the Governor-General became intensely real, especially for Mackenzie King. Also and more recently, the removal of Australia's governor Gough Whitlam by Governor-General Sir John Kerr in 1975.

#476 ::: Rick Moen ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2015, 07:31 PM:

Australia's PM Gough Whitlam, not governor. Sorry about the edit error.

(When I arrived at the immigration station for AussieCon IV, a young officer who looked all of 18 asked if this were my first time in Australia. Just to bowl him over, I said 'Actually, no. Last time I was here, the PM was an admirable chap named Whitlam. I wonder what happened to him?'

(Whitlam was then still hale, and longtime friends with his successor and enemy during the old days, Malcolm Frazer. Both have recently passed on.)

#477 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2015, 09:13 PM:

Now I'm confused. Rick Moen, you first seem to be saying that the old blasphemy laws have no teeth and therefore ought not to be a concern, and certainly ought not to be used as one* example of ways people may feel less than fully embraced by their society. Then, when someone mentions how another set of laws which have no teeth DO still inform the character of a nation, your defense is "beware. They may not appear to have teeth but things happened when they were last used."

* "one among many" should go without saying, but evidence suggests it must be emphasized.

#478 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2015, 09:28 PM:

477
And an example from a different country than the commenter was talking about, also.

#479 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2015, 09:30 PM:

Rick Moen: I don't know you at all and am glad I have no official hosting duties, but...when you've got two very high-quality moderators telling you, in the same day, that you're busily feeding energy beasts, it really may be time for some more reflection. I don't think that Abi Sutherland and Mike Glyer are in a conspiracy to pick on you just because they can.

#480 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2015, 09:37 PM:

Rick Moen #475: Dude, you're still digging.

While I am in no way a moderator here, I've been around a while, and I think I fairly well understand the gestalt here. At the same time, I think I also have some idea as to where you're "coming from", and I'll tell you flat out: You've got the wrong end of the stick here.

Firstly: By your own account, you're not actually engaging with other people's positions, just dropping a fortress into our space and defending it from all comers. That may "work" in a free-for-all forum like, say, Pharyngula. It is not good behavior when entering a cooperative community, which this is.

Secondly: Abi is our most active moderator, but, in keeping with the ways of this community, she very rarely moves to simply squelch someone. She has been gently warning you that your behavior here is inappropriate, and you have apparently been taking her gentleness for weakness. This is a serious mistake, because she knows whereof she speaks. Disemvowelment is reserved for more serious offenses than you have so far committed, but that does not mean that "anything which keeps its vowels is OK".

"Success" in this community is not a matter of fighting your way to a place in some pecking order. It's based on connections -- not just laying out your opinions, but looking for how other people's experiences and positions relate to your own. So far, you have conspicuously failed to do that. Instead, you have focused on denigrating and dismissing other's comments, even while they were trying their best to recognize your position and build bridges to it.

Thirdly: Your risk here is not necessarily getting kicked out of the communuity. The more immediate risk is that people will stop trying to engage with you. The few people who might be interested in a knock-down argument, aren't likely to do it here, because they know that others in the community don't like that sort of thing. Instead, if you make yourself too obnoxious, most people will silently go "ew" when they see your name, and skip your comment without reading, much less responding. And as far as we're concerned, that would be your failure.

#481 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2015, 09:45 PM:

David, you really nailed it with "connections". I couldn't think of the right term, so I left the thought off, but that's it. Making Light cultivates a victory condition of making the other participants feel cooler, better informed, better equipped, and happier. Making light, as it were.

#482 ::: Cubist ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2015, 10:08 PM:

sez rick moen @470: "About the second-class citizen bit. Just scroll back to ' The response that no-one can spare the political capital to overturn these laws isn't a refutation of the claim that atheists aren't treated as equal citizens: it's further evidence in favour of that claim', for one."
I repeat myself, on account of your response certainly didn't bring anything new to the table: Do you actually know of anybody who does "declar[e themself] a 'second-class citizen' on account of antique, legally NO-OP legislative fossils"?

Seriously, dude: How in the name of Klono's curving carballoy claws did you manage to read an obvious statement of Evidence X is yet another datapoint in support of Proposition Y, and respond to it as if it were really saying Evidence X is the only datapoint in support of Proposition Y?

Methinks you may just have some sort of bee in your bonnet about atheists standing up for their right to not be marginalized. Or not, I dunno.

#483 ::: SorchaRei ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2015, 10:27 PM:

Back in one of the earlier Hugo threads, I made some comments about Annie Bellet which I wish to revise here, in light of her later actions.

To recap, she wrote a terrific story last year. It was so good in my opinion that I nominated it for a Hugo. It was also nomnated by both Puppy slates. I note here that the RP puppy slate was specifically put forth by Vox Day with a request that people who chose to support it nominate the slate in its entirety, so clearly, regardless of whether they had read the items on the slate or not.

In the first Scalzi Hugo thread, there was a discussion by some people (including me) that we were willing to take intent into account -- that is, that we might consider people who had not acquiesced to being on a slate in a different category than those who had embraced it. Eventually, John decided we had talked that point to death and asked us to shut that topic down.

The very next post was one from Annie Bellet which first thanked him for shutting down the topic of whether people had agreed to be on the slate, and then stated that she hoped people would be only fair and read her story bedore deciding how to vote.

I saw this as arrant hypocrisy: essentially, she seemed to be saying "I was willing to accept a nomination that came in part from people who did not read my story, but if you vote me below No Award without reading me, that not fair!" And I said that on this site.

I still take that position regarding anyone who accepted a Puppy nomination but is now bleating about how to be fair, voters must read everything, but Bellet has since withdrawn her story from the Hugos. I think that was the right thing to do, if she believes that only people who have read the works in question should nominate or vote for them. Therefore, I now ascribe her apparent hypocrisy the night of the discussion I have referenced to being overwhelmed by the blowback from the nominations.

I still think her story is worthy of being on the ballot, and I wish this hadn't happened to her. I still don't know if she was a knowing participant on the RP project or not. But I withdraw my public condemnation of her as a blatant hypocrite, and since I made that accusation publicly and here, it seems only fair to withdraw it here.

#484 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2015, 10:41 PM:

Bruce Baugh #481: Thanks!

Now to figure out why my spilling chucker (Firefox) not only insists on British spellings, but lately keeps turning itself off altogether. It's just embarrassing to typo my message's keyword the fourth time out of five.

#485 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2015, 01:10 AM:

Rick@475 - I'm not all that familiar with Australian politics; I was trying to make it clear that I was referring specifically to Canadian ones. My apologies if I didn't succeed in that!

With regards to the Byng-King Thing - I admit that as a hockey fan, I'm more familiar with Lady Byng than Lord. It's one of those things I vaguely remember from my Canadian History classes (1837 was a much more exciting year, with lots of battles taking places in local towns*, though of course that predates Confederation by three decades) but hadn't considered again. Reading about it now, it does seem consistent with what I was saying - a governor-general showed their teeth, resulting in a lot of kerfuffle and those teeth being pulled. "Once in power, King's government sought at an imperial conference to redefine the role of the governor general" (says Wikipedia).

Tom @474 - Glad you like it! We mostly get hugely irritated when Parliament gets prorogued. "Oh gord, (insert PM here, mostly Harper recently) is hoping we'll forget #giantblunder before the next election. That or he wants to go on vacation early. We're still paying him while Parliament's on pause, right? Geeze."

#486 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2015, 01:50 AM:

#483 ::: SorchaRei - That was very graciously done.

I know that Annie Bellet has been in a lot of emotional pain about this whole situation, and she's not the only one.

Shortly after she and Kloos withdrew their nominated works, the Puppy Horde sent up a hue and cry of "Look at how those hypocritical SJWs bullied these authors out of their nominations!" And all I could think was, "Dude, did you even read their blog posts?" Not that this would have changed anything; I'm sure they would only rebut that, well, of course they had to blog as they did, because of pressure from SJW bullies. But we know the truth... I think it must be "secret cabals" all the way down, with them.

Which only goes to show, I guess, that declaring your unwillingness to be a political football is sometimes just as ineffective as trying to figure out how to avoid an outcome that VD will declare a win. VD will declare all outcomes a win, and it's impossible to dissuade the Puppies to stop playing fetch with your name once they have it in their teeth.

It's a really crappy situation, and the only thing to do is the whichever of the things best lets you sleep at night.

I'm firmly in the "No Award above slate nominees, because slates break the Hugos" camp, but that doesn't mean I don't feel for some of the nominees keenly.

#487 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2015, 02:42 AM:

Rick Moen @475:

Abi: I think there's a Ruskin quotation to the effect that there is societal value even in pulling weeds.

I'm not familiar with it. Are you familiar with the aphorism about a tree that falls in a forest where no one can hear it?

I'm sure I don't enjoy it when people advise me that some position I took was silly

This, I believe. I can even guess exactly what kind of initial reaction you had. Why is that, do you think?

but it's sometimes worthwhile to hear, especially when they say why.

It is indeed. On a totally unrelated note, how very fortunate we are on Making Light to have smart, articulate, mindful people like David Harmon and Bruce Baugh among us.

I guess indeed some of those words were dismissive:

That's mighty big of you.

You might reasonably conclude that I wasn't trying thereby to persuade the specific people expressing those views,

That was your first mistake. Why ever not? Are they disposable? Do they not matter?

but was expressing my personal view to Making Light readership as a whole.

And that was your second, bigger mistake. Did you think the Making Light readership could be addressed "as a whole", like the audience gathered before a podium? Do you think they are a "whole"?

Mind you, to the extent that they are a whole in anything, it is in the culture that David and Bruce explained. And in this culture (which I did not form, by the way; I just maintain the buffers), that kind of dismissiveness is a sign, and the sign says EGOIZING IN PROGRESS.

It's not a strong conversational "hook".

And I try to grant civility to all

Try harder.

but don't therefore regard respect for everything anyone says as an entitlement.

And now we come to the heart of the problem. You think this is about respecting what people say. I know that this is about respecting them as people.

Respecting them as people includes acknowledging that they are real humans doing the best they can in a complex society. It means understanding that they may have experiences outwith the range of your own, ones which inform their feelings and opinions. It is signified by the process of listening, not to gather ammunition, but to improve your understanding. It may involve discovering that you are wrong, but it must include understanding the ways in which they are right.

(You do know that more than one contradictory thing may be right at the same time, right?)

Your mileage may differ.[tm]

It does.

Should I find much more indirect and genteel euphemisms for 'silly'? I can definitely do at least that much.

Don't bother. People will know that's what you mean anyway. Try, instead, figuring out why and in what ways they're not being silly and go from there.

#488 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2015, 02:49 AM:

Bruce Baugh @479:

I think I've commented on File 770 once or twice, but Mike Glyer and I don't know each other. And I have a houseguest, which means I haven't been reading a lot of blogs that I don't moderate over the past few days. So I'm going purely on what I see in my own demesne.

But my mother did have a saying about how when everyone around you is suddenly, irrationally quarrelsome, the problem may not be the people around you.

#489 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2015, 02:58 AM:

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little, #486:

Does Sasquan have a designated Worldcon t-shirt vendor? Because I seriously want a t-shirt which says

It's Secret Cabals All The Way Down

#490 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2015, 03:02 AM:

Because I seriously want a t-shirt which says...

There will be anti-SP shirts soon. This I promise.

#491 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2015, 04:18 AM:

Abi@488: That's what I figured, and wanted to convey - my sense of surprise at seeing you and Mike Glyer converging on something so specific without any likely collaboration, just independent observers seeing the same thing. It's one of the signs I try to heed when it involves observations of me.

JJ@489: I want one saying No, I'm Not In The Other Cabal. I'm thinking here of a scene in Silverado:

Hobart: Baxter! Hawley! Where the hell've you been? You're late and I tell you, I don't like it. It's a bad start, boys. I got my people down there throwin' snowballs and rarin' to go.

Emmett: I'm afraid it is a bad start, friend, 'cause my name ain't Baxter, he ain't Hawley.

Hobart: You're not Baxter?

Emmett: Name's Emmett.

Hobart: You're not Baxter either?

Paden: No, I'm not Hawley.

#492 ::: Rick Moen ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2015, 04:30 AM:

Abi seems to want to pick at things, but I will opt out, except to answer:

Did you think the Making Light readership could be addressed "as a whole", like the audience gathered before a podium? Do you think they are a "whole"?

To the same degree that any analogous collection of people is addressable as a group might be, no more and no less. It's a common concept, I would think. Seems to me I'm doing it right now, for example.

If anyone else is interested in constitutional crises triggered by Governors-General, do look up the aforementioned 1926 Mackenzie King / Lord Byng crisis: It's quite possible that such things may happen again, as I'm pretty sure the constitutional mechanics in question have remained unchanged even after the Canada Act of 1982 removed Canada's dependency on Parliament in Westminster.

#493 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2015, 06:47 AM:

Rick Moen: At least three people have tactfully tried to explain how this community works. Since they don't seem to have gotten through the cloud of condescending verbiage surrounding your head, I will say it bluntly: if you don't stop lecturing, if you don't take part in the ongoing conversation, you will be disemvoweled or banned.

Do not see this as anti-atheism. It is a sign of our unwillingness to waste our time on people who refuse to listen. And I say "our" because when you are banned, the moderator will be doing it on behalf of the very community you seem unwilling to join.

#494 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2015, 11:16 AM:

I want to say this is all a bit tiresome (as many will agree) and that the wall-to-wall-of-text discussion of it changes the tone of this blog in a disappointing way. If I were new here, this would be shaping my initial impression of what fandom looks like.

A few years back, I was very turned off to fandom because a few people in it made a bad impression on me and I stayed away from fandom for a while. (cryonics creeped me out, and that shaped my idea of who fandom were) But then I discovered this blog (among other nice things) and figured out that fandom was something I want to be part of.

What if the timing had been different, and I were discovering this blog now instead of a few years ago? I would have seen the sad-puppy thing and the endless discussion of it and been further turned off by fandom instead of being welcomed in.

So let's think of what all this might look like to all the prospective new people who might or might not feel welcome.

#495 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2015, 12:23 PM:

Abi seems to want to pick at things, but I will opt out, except to answer:...

Wow.

abi speaks to you, directly, person-to-person, and your response... is to address "the room" about her, in the third person, as though nodding and winking at the adults over a precocious little girl's head.

Which would be disrespectful enough in the first place. But add in that the topic under discussion was this very mode of address, which she asked you not to do...

Wow. "Rude" doesn't even begin to cover it. Passive aggressive? Hostile? Contemptuous? Seriously.

Worse, you come across as specifically rejecting the conversational modes and mores of the community while demanding to participate as part of it. How very like the dynamics in another community clash we've been talking about lately.

(You do know that abi is a moderator, right? What she says about how this community works is not only knowledgeably descriptive but also to some extent prescriptive.)

I think it will be better for my blood pressure and my general outlook on humanity if I refrain from reading your posts henceforth, or at least until the conversation around you indicates that you've adopted a less breathtakingly rude and deliberately disrespectful mode of communication.

#496 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2015, 12:31 PM:

Em @ 473

Thank you for explaining a bit about Canada's relationship to the Queen of England.

FWIW, I (a US citizen) never understood how that worked, and had tentatively filed it under "Canada is its own country; it has some kind of relationship to Queen Elizabeth which I don't understand, but Britain doesn't run it."

Now it looks as if, if I may take the liberty of rephrasing it, there is a Crown Governor who theoretically works for the Queen (I take it,) and has certain circumscribed powers over the Canadian government, but if he or she ever uses them in a way that most of Canada doesn't like, those powers will go "poof." Canada doesn't want to do this lightly, because it would hurt the Queen's feelings and the Crown Governor doesn't want to make them hurt the Queen's feelings and thus behaves circumspectly with those powers.

If I'm understanding this correctly, (it is, I admit, informed by the stereotype of Canadians being very polite, which may make it more than usually unreliable) it looks complicated but very civilized. But I may not be understanding it quite right yet.

#497 ::: Jeanie ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2015, 12:44 PM:

Rick Moen:

Owning my experience, much of which is shared here.

For most of my life I compulsively read everything printed - frex the small type on cereal boxes. Shock and relief came with the realization that once started, something didn't have to be finished, not even library books, not even things that had cost money.

Noticing names at the top of posts is usually subliminal. In the rare cases when someone has become tiresome, they get skipped.

This is more subtle than disemvowelling or outright banning. People are responding to you less because they're not reading you any more (abi is a caring and conscientious moderator and considers this part of her job).

About-faces are uncommon, but they have happened.

Warmth is (re)extended and gratifying interactions start happening.

#498 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2015, 12:49 PM:

Cat @ #496: Now it looks as if, if I may take the liberty of rephrasing it, there is a Crown Governor who theoretically works for the Queen (I take it,)

The official head of the Canadian government is the Queen of Canada. The Governor-General is the stand-in for the Queen whenever she's not actually in the country -- which is usually, because she's also the Queen of England and some other places and this keeps her too busy to visit often.

and has certain circumscribed powers over the Canadian government, but if he or she ever uses them in a way that most of Canada doesn't like, those powers will go "poof." Canada doesn't want to do this lightly, because it would hurt the Queen's feelings and the Crown Governor doesn't want to make them hurt the Queen's feelings and thus behaves circumspectly with those powers.

Sort of. No one seems sure they actually would go "poof," and no one wants to find out. Much of Canada is delicately balanced, politically speaking, and works on the principle of "you theoretically *could* do that, but you'd really better not because it would cause more problems than it would solve."

#499 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2015, 01:00 PM:

Technically in this case it's Canada's relationship with the Queen of Canada, who happens to be the same person as the Queen of England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, etc.. As I understand it, it's much the same relationship as the UK has with her*, only weakened somewhat by distance and it being by proxy rather than in person (except on some occasions; she's given her own Speech From The Throne and opened Parliament in person a couple of times). The other difference is that we don't have a peerage, which means our upper house functions somewhat differently from their upper house, senate seats not being inheritable like seats in the House of Lords.

The Governor General (and the Lieutenant Governors who serve the same function on a provincial level) doesn't "theoretically" work for the Queen; they are the Queen, via proxy. In Vorkosigan terms, they're the Queen's Voice, I guess.

There's also a side-helping of "we've always done it this way" and "we really LIKE the funny hats and blinged-out outfits", and also "we get on better with the rest of the family than our more flashy sibling who went for a more violent and complete emancipation than we did". Plus it's nice being able to compete in an international sporting competition not dominated by the States ;)**.

It's also just occurred to me that "Lieutenant Governor" literally means "Placeholder Placeholder". Ha.

*And, in the affair that Rick mentioned, there's also a similarity in that the UK defanged their monarchy when the monarchy was being Really Terrible, giving more power to Parliament. Granted, that took a lot longer and was bloodier than our version. (Caveat that I've not made particular study of UK history and am mostly informed by BBC documentaries; if I'm wrong in this, please do correct me! I dislike being wrong, but I dislike continuing to be wrong even more.)
**No Winter Commonwealth Games, though. We'd clean up in those!

#500 ::: Dave Crisp ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2015, 01:05 PM:

@Cat: More-or-less; there are a couple of points that I'd add, though:

Firstly, "Queen of Canada" is, legally, a separate job from "Queen of the UK", they're currently held by the same person but there's no actual law saying that that always has to be the case; and Canada can change the succession rules any way it wants to. There's a certain amount of co-operation between the various places that Lizzie is Queen of to make sure this doesn't happen, but it's more of a Gentlemen's Agreement than anything else.

This "personal union" does of course mean that Lizzie can't personally rule the UK, Canada, and the 15-or-so other places she's queen of simultaneously, so she dedicates most of her time to the UK and appoints GG's to represent her everywhere else. it should be noted that the GG of Canada is chosen by the Canadian parliament - Lizzie's role in appointing him/her is mostly just a rubber stamp, and Westminster has no say at all.

The GG's powers over the Canadian parliament / government are more or less the same ones Lizzie herself has over the parliament here in Britain - with the same understanding that they only get used on the advice of the government. Lizzie nominally has those same powers over the Canadian parliament herself, of course, but by strong convention only exercises them under the same terms as the GG, and only if she happens to actually be in Canada at the time - otherwise she's pretty much completely hands-off and everything is left to the GG.

Until the early 1980's the UK parliament did theoretically retain some legislative powers over Canada as well, but they had not been used since the war and came to a complete end with the passage of the Canada Act in 1982. The only direct link between the two countries is now in the person of Lizzie herself.

#501 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2015, 01:09 PM:

Cat @496:

As a USian, and not a Canadian, I may also be misunderstanding the situation, but I'll chime in anyway...

Queen Elizabeth II is the Sovereign Head of State of some dozen-plus independent countries, including the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and others. Based on the political and constitutional systems of those independent countries, she has various high-level (but limited) powers, usually including veto power over laws passed, the ability to dissolve the current government, etc. In theory, she can do any of these things on her own initiative, but in practice, she only does what "her" government (aka, the Prime Minister) tells her to do. But ultimately she is a check on an out-of-control government.

The Queen is not in Canada, or Australia, or New Zealand, etc right now, so she assigns an agent, the Governor General, to act on her behalf, doing the same things she would do if she were there. Generally, that means doing purely ceremonial things, like rubber-stamping laws passed by the legislature, formally "asking" the newly-elected Prime Minister to form a government, etc. Occasionally, if there is an out-of-control government, the Governor General may do something more drastic, but that's very rare.

There are always anti-monarchy movements in the various independent countries with the Queen as sovereign. In most of them, it would take passing the appropriate law or constitutional amendment to remover her as Sovereign, and it might, technically, take her assent to the law to do it (the last formal act of King Edward VIII was signing into law the Act of Parliament removing him and his heirs from the line of succession). I suspect that she would not veto the law.

The Governor General is acting on the Queen's behalf because she can't be there all the time to act herself. If the Queen came to Canada, she could prorogue Parliament in person, veto some bills, etc, even against the advise of the Governor General. She could send him a letter ordering him to do so as well. She doesn't, of course, but she could.

#502 ::: SorchaRei ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2015, 01:13 PM:

498 ::: Sarah E.

Minor quibble. The Queen is the head of statw of Canada. The Prime Minister is the head of government. In the US, these roles are both vested in the President. In other republics, such as Ireland, they may be two different people: in Ireland, the President is the head of state and the Prime Minister (aka the Taoiseach) is the head of govwenment.

#503 ::: kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2015, 01:25 PM:

This is just to say

I have missed
the poems
that were in
our fandom

and which
you were probably
saving
for a pastiche

Forgive me
they were delicious
so timely
and so ironic.

#504 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2015, 01:29 PM:

Much of Canada is delicately balanced, politically speaking, and works on the principle of "you theoretically *could* do that, but you'd really better not because it would cause more problems than it would solve."

Well-put! It also works on the basis of satirical comedy sketch shows.

#505 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2015, 01:37 PM:

Dave Crispp @500 Firstly, "Queen of Canada" is, legally, a separate job from "Queen of the UK", they're currently held by the same person but there's no actual law saying that that always has to be the case; and Canada can change the succession rules any way it wants to. There's a certain amount of co-operation between the various places that Lizzie is Queen of to make sure this doesn't happen, but it's more of a Gentlemen's Agreement than anything else.

It's a little more than a Gentleman's Agreement; the Statute of Westminster (which officially made various Dominions into Sovereign Nations) explicitly says that changes to the succession require the consent of all the parliaments that the Queen is Head of State for. A country wishing to opt out could "simply" amend or repeal this act (as a sovereign nation), bearing in mind that this would a. have constitutional implications for said country; and b. quite likely require the assent of the monarch (which would probably not be withheld).

#506 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2015, 01:37 PM:

In the North we don't like to tout it
But when someone asks we shout it
'cos it's rare for the rest
to take interest
and when they do we're so pleased about it.


(Scansion may be off. Sorry!)

#507 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2015, 01:43 PM:

Elizabeth is
Much honoured; Queen
of many countries
united solely in one person.

In this she shoulders many duties
Though mostly ceremonial,
And has an array of powers
Real, but limited,
That derive in the end
From the consent of her subjects.

To fulfill these many roles,
Thus far-flung, in good faith,
She has appointed many Voices
In the persons
of her Governors General.
Each to their own land, but each
Acting in her name,
And at her pleasure.

Each of them balanced between
Doing her will
And retaining for her,
Her subjects' consent.

Her role, as expressed through them,
Is not to dictate
But to confirm
Not to demand
But to encourage
And in that last desperate extremity
To restrain, but only once.

Do I have it?

#508 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2015, 01:49 PM:

*wild applause*

(Accuracy - and it is pretty accurate - aside, that is SO much better than my limerick. :D)

#509 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2015, 02:05 PM:

#502 ::: SorchaRei :
Minor quibble. The Queen is the head of state of Canada. The Prime Minister is the head of government.

Oops -- thanks for catching that.

#510 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2015, 02:10 PM:

Rick Moen: At least three people have tactfully tried to explain how this community works. Since they don't seem to have gotten through the cloud of condescending verbiage surrounding your head, I will say it bluntly: if you don't stop lecturing, if you don't take part in the ongoing conversation, you will be disemvoweled or banned.

I've noticed that Rick has been discussing Canadian law and history since the second or third person addressed him on the subject of his behavior. I'll also note the he acknowledged the first couple people who addressed the subject and was very civilized about it. Maybe it's time to drop the subject and let things find their own equilibrium? This is starting to feel like a "pile on" and I think we need to let it go for a little while and let the moderators handle it from this point forward.

Note that I say this as the first person who called Rick's behavior out.

#511 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2015, 02:32 PM:

kimiko, Em, and Cat: Whee! About time for some timely verse! kimiko, my sentiments exactly, and perfectly done. Em, hey, nothing wrong with a good limerick, and that was one. Cat--wow. Just, wow. Thank you, all.

#512 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2015, 03:30 PM:

kimiko @503: I was just trying to work one out. Thank you!

#513 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2015, 03:54 PM:

Speaking of royalty...

Count de Monet: It is said that the people are revolting.
King Louis XVI: You said it! They stink on ice!

#514 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2015, 04:37 PM:

kimiko @ 503 and Em @ 506

I enjoyed your poems very much. Thank you!

#515 ::: Ian C. Racey ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2015, 04:58 PM:

Neil W @505
It's a little more than a Gentleman's Agreement; the Statute of Westminster (which officially made various Dominions into Sovereign Nations) explicitly says that changes to the succession require the consent of all the parliaments that the Queen is Head of State for.

Something that was exercised just last month, when the changes to the rules of succession from the 2011 Perth Agreement went into effect (eliminating male preference in the succession and allowing the Sovereign to be married to a Roman Catholic). The changes were passed in most of the affected countries in 2013, but had to wait until being passed in the last country (Australia, in this case, where the process got dragged out because it had to be passed in each state before going to the national parliament) before taking effect.

There are also several Commonwealth realms, like Jamaica and Belize, where the constitution just says that the Sovereign is whoever is Sovereign of the United Kingdom, so they didn't have to pass any changes at all.

The changes are actually being challenged in court in Quebec because they still don't allow a Roman Catholic to actually be the monarch.

#516 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2015, 06:18 PM:

abi 488:But my mother did have a saying about how when everyone around you is suddenly, irrationally quarrelsome, the problem may not be the people around you.

I noticed that my choir director stopped doing things to drive me crazy once I went on antidepressants. I couldn't figure out how he knew...

I told him that, by the way. He said "I don't think I was being mean." I replied "I don't either, but I did before I went on antidepressants!"

#517 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2015, 06:22 PM:

I have one very small addendum to Abi's masterpiece at 487:

Rick Moen @475: And I try to grant civility to all.
No, Rick. Civility is not a favor you graciously bestow upon others. It's what you do. Baseline behavior. And around here, it's a minimum requirement.

#518 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2015, 07:54 PM:

#498 ::: Sarah E. :::
Sort of. No one seems sure they actually would go "poof," and no one wants to find out. Much of Canada is delicately balanced, politically speaking, and works on the principle of "you theoretically *could* do that, but you'd really better not because it would cause more problems than it would solve."

Kinda like drastically changing the nominations and voting rules for the Hugos, eh?

(duck, and Cover,
Duck, and cover)

#519 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2015, 07:58 PM:

Craig 518: No, exactly not. Using something theoretically possible that everyone has left alone because of the trouble it would cause is what the Puppies have done. Fixing the rules is what we (or Canada) would have to do to prevent the lawful but abhorrent exploit.

#520 ::: Kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2015, 08:39 PM:

:)
I'm glad you liked that, everyone!

I really liked the limerick, and the poem about the Queen was epic.

#521 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2015, 09:51 PM:

How about a shirt that says, "Rod Walker Was Black?"

#522 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2015, 11:13 PM:

489, 490:

Following http://www.fangamer.com/products/gaming-s-feminist-illuminati (and I've seen a lot of local game developers wearing that one), I expect there's room for a "fandom's feminist illuminati" shirt.

#523 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2015, 12:38 AM:

At this point, I feel I should point out that the Secret Feminist Cabal—motto, "World Domination through Bake Sales"—is inclusive enough to have inducted Jerry Pournelle.

#524 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2015, 03:02 AM:

abi, #487: That's related to what I call the Rule of Ducks, which I picked up from a friend years sgo, and which in turn is a variation of the aphorism about accident / coincidence / enemy action. It goes like this:

"If one person says you look like a duck, he's nuts.
If two people say you look like a duck, it's probably coincidental.
If three people say you look like a duck... start checking for feathers."

Also, a slight variation on your mother's statement is one of the ways I self-monitor -- when I suddenly seem to be the only intelligent person in a world full of idiots, I need to get food now, and stop interacting with people (as much as possible) until I have done so.

#525 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2015, 11:18 AM:

re. C. J. Cherryh, I just got a new paperback copy of her book "Deceiver" and from the front cover you'd think there was a very angry person backed up with lots of guns.
WHich is sort of nearly right, but any SP expecting a few nice bloodbaths would be disappointed.

#526 ::: Rick Moen ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2015, 01:41 PM:

TNH: Despite studied overreading of my word 'grant', doing civility is what one does is precisely what I meant. Which I would have thought amply clear in context.

TexAnne @ 493: Do you speak for the moderators in saying I'll be banned for continuing to speak about Canadian constitutional history? Tough crowd.

Cat @ 496: As I understand it, the Governor-General as head of state doesn't work for the Queen exactly but technically for the Crown. The Crown is considered to be like a divinely created corporation of which the Queen is CEO. In that, the Queen is considered a separate persona for each of the countries for which she's head of state, leading to some odd scenes such as a ceremony where the Queen of Great Britain and Northern Ireland arrived at Australia and formally interacted with the Queen of Australia, both personae being herself.

CGP Grey covers this entertainingly.

P.S. Online atheists are not at all silly. I have seen the light.

#527 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2015, 02:33 PM:

526
I would regard 593 as a friendly warning from someone in the community who is not happy with your attitude. And I second it.

#528 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2015, 02:55 PM:

Rick Moen @526:

I would think it was clear already that doing civility as a thing that one does is not a behavior that you are demonstrating to the level required by this community.

Exempla generi:

...saying I'll be banned for continuing to speak about Canadian constitutional history? Tough crowd.

[...]

P.S. Online atheists are not at all silly. I have seen the light.

This is not to say you couldn't start doing that civility thing. Or, if you prefer, you could step away from this conversation and come back to a later one with a more respectful, cooperative attitude, like someone who actually wanted to engage with the community.

#529 ::: Rick Moen ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2015, 03:04 PM:

Abi @ 528: Given that I was in fact talking about Canadian constitutional history during said pile-on, to whom specifically was this comment of mine being uncivil? Curious minds, etc.

And I promise to repent of all but my own silliness.

#530 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2015, 03:11 PM:

Rick, assuming you're asking sincerely:

It's not the topic that's the issue. It's the way that you were dealing with other commenters in the previous conversation about atheists and laws surrounding atheism. It was profoundly disrespectful, and stemmed quite clearly from a desire to be heard more than a desire to hear, or learn from, people with different perspectives than you have.

When you make that kind of a mess, you can't just walk on to another topic of conversation and figure everyone will forget how you were behaving. You have to own it and clean it up. That means not ignoring mods (yes, I did notice that you talked about me in the third person; thank you for not doing that again). It means not going back and snarking about the mess you made (as in the "seen the light" comment).

It means apologizing, in a way that demonstrates that you understand your errors well enough to convince people that you will not be committing them again.

#531 ::: Hob ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2015, 03:26 PM:

Rick @529, using phrases like "studied overreading" [emphasis mine] in your response to a moderator is the kind of thing people tend to take amiss, for good reason. Saying that you think people are reading too much into your phrasing is one thing, but it's quite another thing to accuse them of deliberately doing so.

#532 ::: Hob ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2015, 03:35 PM:

Also-- "Given that I was in fact talking about Canadian constitutional history during said pile-on": this bit seems to indicate some misunderstandings about how online conversations work. First, there is a delay between when people see something you write, and when they start writing a response to it, and when you see that response; their response doesn't become irrelevant or unfair just because you've posted something on a different subject in the meantime.

Second, I disagree with Alex R. that there has been a "pile-on" here; several people have independently expressed their problems with what you wrote, and there's nothing inappropriate about that, given that 1. it was not at all clear that you got the point the first time and 2. you kept saying that you weren't really talking to the people whom you were disparaging, but rather to "Making Light readership as a whole", so it's reasonable to think that you might want some feedback from multiple ML readers. Of course, it's always possible that The Lurkers Support You in Email...

#533 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2015, 05:53 PM:

Rick Moen @ 526

Goodness, that gets complicated. And it didn't show Elizabeth welcoming herself to Australia, which I was sorry to have missed. I would have thought this would be the kind of situation for which a Governor General would be *perfect,* myself.

Regarding atheists, I tell you what. How about we just drop the subject? I know I can get hot under the collar at what I see as comments that encourage unfortunate stereotypes about a despised minority, and even more so for a despised minority to which I happen to belong. I know that when I'm mad it's hard for me to be reasonable. I am sorry for the "witness this conversation" remark I made before. I felt it deeply at the time, but I am not sure that cleaved to the standard of civility I like to set for myself.

Let us shake hands and let it go.

*offers hand*

#534 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2015, 05:55 PM:

I received the dreaded Internal Server Error. I will save the comment I was making elsewhere and come back in a bit to see if it really posted or not.

#535 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2015, 06:26 PM:

Rick Moen @529: The "prove to my satisfaction that I was being rude" gambit is not going to work. Neither is "I can't have been uncivil unless you can identify who I was being uncivil to." Behave or don't behave. Accept the consequences as they come. Just don't mistake this process for a negotiation.

Failing to take heed of Abi when she's speaking as the moderator is never a good idea.

TexAnne has been a member of this community for a long time, and she knows far more about how it works than you do. In her comment #493, she was explaining something you didn't understand. Her explanation was entirely accurate. No one's impressed with you for snarking at her.

I'll be banned for continuing to speak about Canadian constitutional history?
Do you know the definition of a garden-variety troll? It's not what you think. A garden-variety troll is a person who's incapable of being brought to believe that it's their behavior, not their opinions, that's causing problems. It's a very reliable characteristic.

Everyone has been telling you that it's your behavior that's the problem. Pretending that you're in danger of getting banned because you're talking about Canadian constitutional history is a non-starter -- and worse, it's a cliché.

#536 ::: Cubist ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2015, 06:58 PM:

Looks like we got us a living instance of Why The First Rule Of Holes Is A Thing. It will be interesting to see whether this particular hole-digger stops digging, or fires up the trusty backhoe, or what.

#537 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2015, 07:35 PM:

Edmund Schubert has withdrawn from consideration for the Best Editor Hugo (short form). John Scalzi has posted the withdrawal letter on Whatever.

#538 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2015, 08:23 PM:

Good on Edmund Schubert.

#539 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2015, 09:28 PM:

Original post hosted by Alethea Kontis.

Reposted at John Scalzi's blog.

Days since last Hugo final ballot change: 0

(This is really not a normal Hugo year)

#540 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2015, 10:43 PM:

That has to have been a painful decision for Mr. Schubert.

#541 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2015, 11:10 PM:

I realize that the printed ballots are printed, but I hope they pull those names from the electronic ballots, at least.

#542 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 01:24 AM:

There will be a notice on the voting page about the late withdrawals, UrsulaV. The Hugo Administrators want to keep the ballots as parallel as they can.

#543 ::: inge ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 04:44 AM:

I feel really bad for the World Con and Hugo organisers who have to sail these waters.

#544 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 07:51 AM:

I feel especially bad for the Hugo administrators, who are meticulous, considerate, and discreet, and who bend over backward to count everything that can be construed as a vote.

Their only preferred outcome is that all the votes on all the ballots get counted correctly. They've been known to send hardcopy voters a new copy of the ballot, asking whether they'd like to fill it out again, so they can get a better read on their marks.

I've seen puppy-minions retailing scurrilous stories about ballots being trashed. Those stories are bullsh*t (and they get the corroborating details wrong). The Hugos are one of the cleanest awards in SF. More than anything else, it's the Hugo administrators that keep them that way.

#545 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 06:03 PM:

TNH, #544: "the Hugo administrators, who are meticulous, considerate, and discreet, and who bend over backward to count everything that can be construed as a vote... Their only preferred outcome is that all the votes on all the ballots get counted correctly."

That's why it really aggravates me when I see non-puppies calling for elimination of slate votes, via some sort of arbitrary method.

I just don't get the idea that if someone does something unethical, it's perfectly acceptable to behave unethically in return.

And I'm sure that the Hugo admins are horrified by suggestions that they should engage in that sort of manipulation.

#546 ::: Grace Seybold ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 10:01 AM:

The first time I came across the idea of legal fictions was reading David Eddings; there's a bit in one of the Belgariad (or possibly Mallorean) books where the Duchess of Asturia has to release the nobles from their oaths to her so that they're free to swear fealty to the Queen of Arendia, who happens to be the same person. I commented on this nifty idea in a book report, and my teacher's response was approximately "You know this is how our *actual country* works, right?" And thus did I find out about the whole "Queen of Canada" thing.

#547 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 09:01 PM:

JJ @ 545: What would your reaction have been to putting enough nominees in each category to get five non-slate ones? That was done before, albeit in a case of outright fraud rather than "mere" revolting behavior.

#548 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2015, 12:57 AM:

CHip, #547: "What would your reaction have been to putting enough nominees in each category to get five non-slate ones?"

Sorry, I'd posted a response to this yesterday, but it obviously didn't "take", so I'll try to reconstruct it.


I'm not Kevin Standlee (nor do I play him on TV), but I don't think this is permitted without a WSFS rules change.

And even if it were permitted... well, I just don't think I could square my conscience with that.

I'm condemning the Puppies for doing something which was legal but amounted to jury-rigging the ballot. I can't justify counter-rigging to myself. I can only justify making sure I get my sorry ass out of bed at Worldcon to go to the WSFS meetings and try to help figure out a way to prevent this sort of gaming the ballot for future years.

It's possible that I'm wrong, and that such an action is possible and legal, but the Hugo Administrators nevertheless chose not to do this (and I am quite sure they'd be aware of any past precedents for doing such a thing). They are fare more wise and experienced than me. They chose not to do so, and I will not debate their profound wisdom at these proceedings.

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