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April 28, 2015

Hugos III: The Search For Rock…ets
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 07:51 AM * 871 comments

The previous thread is getting pretty full, and the conversation seems to want to continue. So let’s just slide it over here. And we remember as we do so to continue to discuss the matter in the fashion that makes us proudest of Making Light, no matter how people are doing it elsewhere. Right? Right.

(NB: I’m only a little sorry for the title.)

Comments on Hugos III: The Search For Rock...ets:
#1 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 08:29 AM:

It's a great title!

#2 ::: Paul Weimer ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 08:36 AM:

The various titles Mike Glyer has come up with for the daily Hugo/Puppy roundups have cracked me. I see this thread title in the same tradition.

#3 ::: Edmund Schweppe ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 08:54 AM:

Is not wordplay an integral part of "the fashion that makes us proudest of Making Light"?

#4 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 09:01 AM:

From the previous thread:

#1049 ::: CHip :::

"The discussion on the merits of Speaker for the Dead is interesting -- especially when I recall Card saying (as he received his Hugo) that he'd written Ender's Game so he could write SftD -- the implication being that SftD was the story he had wanted to tell (but had to establish either the background or his saleability first?)."

Not exactly a contradiction, but in Maps in the Mirror, Card said he had no idea that the short story "Ender's Game" would end up as a novel. Of course, it's possible that once he got going on the novel, he realized that he wanted to write Speaker for the Dead.

#5 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 09:25 AM:

Suuuuuure, abi is sorry for the thread's title.

#6 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 09:28 AM:

I saw on Catherynne Valente's FaceBook page that she is referred to as a Queen Bee by one of the Sad Pupae's leaders. Of course I felt obligated to post a YouTube link to the Outer Limits' "ZZZZZZ".

#7 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 09:53 AM:

You got a buzz out of posting that, didn't you?

Fortunately I'm not alergic to puns or I'd come out in hives.

#8 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 09:59 AM:

Puns? Bee-n there, drone that, honey.

#9 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 10:00 AM:

Cadbury Moose @7, oh, honey, there you go waxing eloquent again...

#10 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 10:15 AM:

Normally I get accused of droning on.

#11 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 10:22 AM:

That kind of criticism can really sting.

#12 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 10:23 AM:

All your honeyed words...

#13 ::: Cadbury Moose is unobservant ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 10:23 AM:

...and missed a-bee's post at #8.

No wonder it stings a bit.

#14 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 10:24 AM:

Combing through the words for more puns, but I hive-nt any.

Crazy(I'll get my coat)Soph

#15 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 10:26 AM:

I find these puns ap-pollen.

#16 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 10:28 AM:

There does seem to be a swarm of them at the moment.

#17 ::: Edmund Schweppe ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 10:30 AM:

Oh, my, what have I bumbled into this time?

#18 ::: Edmund Schweppe ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 10:47 AM:

Semi-inspired by Serge Broom @6:

Alas, my pup, you've done us wrong
To cast your slate discourteously,
And I have watched the mods so long
Devoweling your sock-puppetry

Queen Bees were all my joy,
Queen Bees were my delight,
Queen Bees were my heart of gold,
And who but my Cat Valente

(Needs more work, but probably won't get it.)

#19 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 10:51 AM:

This is just to say

I have buzzed
the blooms
that were near
your nice phlox

and where
a worker perhaps was
for his queen

Behooves me
to signal the rest:
made light
yet so bold

#20 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 11:13 AM:

Are we still talking about the Hugos? I think I've droned on enough.

#21 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 11:19 AM:

I've been thinking about the very confused Sad Puppy version of Heinlein worship, as contrasted with the SP hatred of horrible SJWs like John Scalzi or Charlie Stross. I wonder how many of the people the SPs consider SJWs walked, with whatever Liberal ideas they believe in, through the doors Heinlein kicked open?

I'm sure most of the Making Light readership has read Heinlein's books, but I'm going to briefly lay out Heinlein's writing in a Social Justice context:

Tunnel In The Sky, published in 1955, had an explicitly described black, female major character and an implicitly described black male protagonist. (Heinlein stated in a letter that Rod Walker was black, but I'm not sure that wasn't a bit of Dumbledore-style retconning.)

Starship Troopers, published in 1959, had a Filipino protagonist who was in love with a woman named "Carmencita." It discussed all the ways women are better pilots than men, and featured women as captains of warships.

Moon is a Harsh Mistress features a racially mixed, Hispanic/Irish protagonist and a society where rapists are summarily executed, and if I recall correctly, prostitution is legal .

Stranger in a Strange Land has too much "liberal" sex stuff to discuss in a short, early AM rant, plus a very cynical take on religion.

And what about all the Heinlein works in which a male becomes female: Andy Libby (I forget in which book he becomes female) would be very much considered LGBTQ today, not to mention I Will Fear No Evil from 1970 in which a male becomes female, and of course "All You Zombies" features a gender-conflicted protagonist...

All this is not to say that Heinlein is a brilliant force for social justice. but if Charlie Stross or John Scalzi wrote a novel in which a male became female or there was a black, female major character, there'd be Puppy Hell to pay!

Hey Puppies! Hypocrisy much? I mean, what the fuck guys? When you read Starship Troopers were you too busy jerking off to the idea of grunts carrying nukes to notice that the protagonist wasn't European? Didn't you notice that LGBTQ characters that kept showing up in RAH-Lord's homilies? Is there a reading comprehension problem here?*

I'm thinking of making shirts which say "RAH, Social Justice Warrior" on the front. The back would have a concert-T-shirt style listing of the dates in which Heinlein brought these issues forward in his books.

From a modern perspective Heinlein's many social and political faults are glaringly obvious - don't get me started - but he didn't do too badly for a white dude born in 1907 (except for the time he groped my babysitter - dear Lord, the dude was a horndog!)

* Yes.

#22 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 11:33 AM:

Stross has written explictly gender-changing protagonists, most obviously in Glasshouse, where the protag (who is from a world where you can change your body completely whenever you feel like it) feels horribly violated for being forced to be and remain female-bodied.

#23 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 11:40 AM:

#6 Serge

[warning, math geekery below]

Valente called a Queen Bee, WTF??!!
Are the Puppies trying to eradicate the definition and characteristics of Queen Bee with revisionary fiat?!

Phylis Shlafly [whose name I do not intentionaly spell incorrectly if I have not spelled it correctly, it's that the correct spelling lacks traction in me...] is a Queen Bee. Elaine Donnelly is a Queen Bee. The woman in aviation who testified to Congress that women did not belong in space and should not be astronauts, the reason apparently being that SHE was over the age limit, was a Queen Bee. Cat Valente a Queen Bee is yet another rotation off the axis of reality.

#24 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 11:46 AM:

Stross has written explictly gender-changing protagonists, most obviously in Glasshouse

From a Puppies view (thought I'm not really sure how they think) the "forced to be female" is probably the story's saving grace. Of course Glasshouse was written well-before Puppies became a thing.

#25 ::: Pete M ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 11:46 AM:

Alex R 21

I made the same point about literary experimentalism a while back. Heinlein clearly knew how to tell linear meat-and-potatoes stories, but three of his four Hugo winners just weren't.

I want to hear about the time he groped your babysitter.

#26 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 11:48 AM:

I see that the particular Puppy who called Valente a “queen bee” was Torgersen, who I don’t think is sufficiently well-read to have meant it as a reference to the infamous Randall Garrett short story from 1958.

#27 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 12:23 PM:

I'll also note that Heinlein had requirements for PC (not abusing people for the category they were in) language in a functioning military in Citizen of the Galaxy.

Friday had a straightforward anti-prejudice message, with both opposition to racial prejudice and opposition to a new prejudice against Artificial People.

He wasn't too bad on microagreesions, either-- see the first chunk of Farnham's Freehold.

Double Star had it that giving up a prejudice can make your life better rather than worse.

#28 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 12:44 PM:

Alex R: Yet another case of people engaging in textual fetishism not actually paying attention to what's in the text. The Heinlein who lives in their heads wrote "The Roads Must Roll" many times, but Stranger in a Strange Land not at all.

#29 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 12:51 PM:

Paula Lieberman... Avram... Maybe Mister Tee has a different definition for 'Queen Bee' - maybe he means that she is a woman whose opinions people listen too, as if this was a bad thing. No matter what, this rather undermines his recent attempts to wash off some of the stench of his association with the Rabid Pupae. (Yes, I know I mixed my metaphors.)

#30 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 01:25 PM:

Even "The Roads Must Roll" isn't exactly pro-puppy-- it's about someone with a clever idea that he should be in charge, and who's willing to break a functioning system so that he can be in charge.

However, we may be at the point of needing actual information. Anyone know which Heinlein stories puppies tend to prefer, and which parts of those novels?

#31 ::: Paula Leiberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 01:50 PM:

Prev. Thrd:

#1015 Alex
"And you tell me, over and over and over again my friend, You don't believe we're on the eve of destruction?" -- But, we were, even though it wasn;t from nuclear war, or race riots, or.. The world of the 1960s is gone even though the Kochs and the Puppies and others keep trying to bring back 1961

(get a barf bag and leaf through the current McCall's patterns book at a fabric store and look at the fashions being pushed. Every time one thinks that the fashion industry can't get more disgusting and repulsive... they evey brought back the poodle skirt! And the costumes are superheroes for boys, and Pink Putrid Princesses Princesses in Tutus with bicycle shorts equivalent of bloomers for modesty, for Girls. There are two exceptions to the latter, a female superhero in Tutu, and a female archer in a long flowing dress (just what every female shooting a longbow wants to be wearing, skirts which can tangle into the bowstring.. yeah, suuuuurrrreeeee) which is homage to Brave I suppose.).

#1016 Alex
And I learned it doesn't necessarily take much to break a person loose of their moorings.

Boot camp, IS propaganda, Puppy propaganda, Koch Brothers dark money and open money, the American Petroleum Industry and Fossil Fuels lobby otherwise bimbo in menswear suit and spike heel fashionability (for people who don;t care about the cost to soceity of $20,000 or more for surgery to remediate tendon-shortening and other damage to feet causing inability to WALK among long-term high heel wearers... and for people who think that walking like a sex object advertisement is socially desirable...) saying how socially valuable and beneficial and desirable and progressive fracking is, and Clorox commercials showing Mama the lobotomized flatworm household Happislave singing doormat cheerfully cleaning up all messes from dripping fishblood to piss all over and round the
"bathroom bowl" from her "husband and four strapping sons", Fux TV, Bill O'Reilly retcon revisionist history (Patton was going to retire to Massachusetts, hardly a place with values O'Reilly has...) .... anyway, all that stuff's designed to break people away from critical judgment and into rubber stamp reinforcement and marching morons supporting the views being advertised.

#1019 Alex
Compared to Cheney and his willing figurehead boss, Nixon was a saint and Princeton Institute of Advances Studies laureate intellectual and benefactor of humankind.

#1021 Laura

One of the things which steams me is shark tourism, where tourist agencies etc. put people in metal cages with scuba equipment, then throw chum [raw fish pieces] out around the cage to attract sharks and engage them in a feeding frenzy--this causes sharks to associate -humans- and divers as -food sources- and up go the shark attack rates...

#1023 David

The cultural legacy/oral tradition in the southwesten Pacific of groups which had not lost their traditional cultural content, saved a lot of lives in the Indian Ocean horrific tsumani earlier this century--the oral tradition described the sea pulling back from the land, and then surging up past the shoreline. People whose traditional oral tales were intact about that, got themselves either out into open ocean or to very high ground, when the first presaging indicaors appeared.

Meanwhile the stinking recidivists who want small or no government, don't believe in such things as building codes and inspection to comply with building codes for earthquake resistance, storm resistance, avoid building in flood plains, etc.

#1025 Vicki

The only big "suprise" to me about 9/11, was that it was -allowed- if not -facilitated- to happen. It was NOT a "Bolt out of the Blue" attack--US military training INCLUDED watching for planes, commandeered by terrorists or flown intentionally by legal pilots of the planes, into building/facilities... it was part of training exercise and Inspector General site visits inspection scenarios. Al Qaeda was a known threat and considered by the Clinton administration as it was departing being replaced by a group I so loathsome to me I have moral qualms about even mentioning the name of the titular head of (I grew up swinging that metal noisemaker to drown out the name of the villain in the Purim service... I have the same attitude towards {I object to naming] as to what children do with the name of the Purim villain). The moving-in administration, studiously refused to bother about Al Quaeda as threat, and scheduled a briefing for Sept 12 2001, the day after the massive and massively destructive physically and psychically and economically Al Qaeda orchestrated attack.

I will never either forget nor forgive the 2001-2008 misadminstration for their extreme malfeasance.

And anyone who defends/supports them and their actions, and promotes their religiously partisan creed, I similarly fail to extol.

#1036 Lee

There was a book serialized in Galaxy, was it, which set me off Saberhagen, the book read like an anti-abortion screed.

#1044 Elliott

Louis XIV of France became infected with syphillis early in his life. Whatever Louis did, was the fashion his court followed. Yes, it was a fashion of the court's men to get themselves infeected, therefore, with syphillis....

#1049 CHiP

I liked two of the stories in Donaldson's collection Daughter of Regals including the title story, a lot. At least one of them, had a female protagonist who had grown up neglected and if not abused outright, then neglected and not cherished. The differences between them and Mordant's Need included length, they were a fraction of number of pages of Mordant's Need. The point that Mordant's Need failed for me, involved total tedium, my tolerance for the character's doormathood was totally exceeded. The more than order of magnitude fewer number of pages and wordage of Daughter of Regals meant that the tolerance exceeded which involved having read more than 800 page of book with a passive doormat female lead, did not apply to Daughter of Regals

I could read and like Daughter of Regals, because the character development/change/mature took place on a very much shorter investment of my time/reading time with a reward of resolution of situation and character growth in very much fewer than 1000 pages. Mordant's Need was was it 900+ pages, with no such resolution, followed by ANOTHER thousand or so pages before I would expect resolution of character growth and plots involved it. At the point I stopped reading, all my "spoons" for the characters/plot were utterly exhausted, and reading 40 more pages, much less another thousand, for any reward, was A Reading Experience WAY Too Far.

Note, that I did read through 800+ pages of Mirror of her Dreams/i> before becoming so very annoyed/disenchanted. Had I found Donaldson's writing to be lacking in merit from the get-go, I wouldn't have gotten past page three at the most.... It was that I had invested my time and effort in more than 800 pages, and was so unrewarded for my time and effort, that got me so riled....


Other-- the definition of Queen Bee is woman who does not brook the presence of other women in positions as competitors to her and around her other otherwise other than syncophants, and only a very very few even there. She wants to be the One Woman of power and influence and control. Donnelly is in a special status where she was the protege of Shlafley and remains allied with her, they are not in the same sphere, they have slightly different foci and each maintains her own Queen Bee domain. Barf on both of them.

(Donnelly runs a fake think tank, the so-called Center for Military Research, which is a front for locking all women except herself and her best buds, into kitchens and the women's church auxillary and the officers' wives and NCO wives' clubs .. Donnelly of course has not military background herself, and no academic formal work in the area of military soceiity and women in the military.

#32 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 01:56 PM:

This morning, for a point I wanted to make on James Nicoll's blog, I counted up the number of words in Making Light's Hugo threads. Thought I'd share it here.

I got 793,858 words in threads about the 2015 Hugo.

According to this site, Lord of the Rings has 437,000 words. Game of Thrones: 298,000. A Clash of Kings: 326,000. Infinite Jest: 517,000.

The total number of words expended discussing this affair must be truly stupendous.

#33 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 02:05 PM:

Quickly, while I'm at work, how about a picture of an extremely upset dog with a caption that reads, "I prefer the Heinlein in my head!"

I'll respond to other stuff later.

#34 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 02:32 PM:

It *is* okay to hang out here even if you're just some schmo from the internet, right?

Because I am just some schmo from the internet.

#35 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 02:42 PM:

#32 Bill

GoT tomes have a single author. How many people have been posting in the Making Light threads?

#34 Peace


Are those of us here on the Puppies' Enemies List?

#36 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 02:47 PM:

Peace Is My Middle Name @34:

Heck, I'm just some schmoe off the internet. I didn't know anyone here before I started commenting.

You're the kind entertaining and thoughtful schmoe whom we welcome, full of interesting conversation and mindful care for the other schmoes who hang out here. Please do feel welcome to stay.

#37 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 02:52 PM:

Regarding Card and Ender's Game, the way I remember it is that he decided to expand Ender's Game into a novel after conceiving Speaker for the Dead - and indeed the last chapter of the novel (which does feel a bit tacked on) tells how Ender became the Speaker.

#38 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 03:22 PM:

Truschmoe, you might say...


#39 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 03:43 PM:

Does anyone have the original URL where Vox Day says "Vote precisely as I have suggested?" (I forget the exact phrasing.) Thanks Much!

#40 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 03:50 PM:

Alex R @39:

Well, there's this post (via donotlink) on his blog, the one announcing the Rabid Puppies slate. The notable text:

What follows is the list of Hugo recommendations known as Rabid Puppies. They are my recommendations for the 2015 nominations, and I encourage those who value my opinion on matters related to science fiction and fantasy to nominate them precisely as they are. I think it is abundantly evident that these various and meritorious works put not only last year's nominations, but last year's winners, to shame.

(emphasis added)

#41 ::: Martin Wisse ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 04:04 PM:

Two things that annoy me more about the whole Puppy mess:

1) the continuing sliming of fandom by the Puppies, like e.g. portraying the NESFA recommended reading list of years ago as a slate, or pretending that SMOFS like Kevin Standlee are actually really truly part of a conspiracy when they're bending over backwards to help people.

2) the attention and energy the Puppies hover up that distracts from actual positive developments and people & projects much more worthy of that attention.

It is so very tempting to just rant about it all the time, but I've tried to make more space for positive things as well on my own blog.

#42 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 05:09 PM:

Paula Lieberman @35 Are those of us here on the Puppies' Enemies List?

I was aiming for the Frenemy-zone.

#43 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 06:12 PM:

Bill Higgins #32: But how many words did The Wheel of Time rack up? ;-)

#44 ::: Kevin J. Maroney ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 06:18 PM:

David @ 43:

The Wheel of Time is around 4.4 million words (counting the 120K prequel A New Spring).

#45 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 06:23 PM:

re "prefer the Heinlein in my head"--well, yes, but that's not all by itself something I'd tweak someone for. Because I myself also prefer the things I've read over the the things the authors wrote--most notably James Blish, whose stuff I read as a young child and which I interpreted according to my emerging worldview (uncritically transliterating everything into humane, utopian-socialist, rainbows-banners-and-garlands terms). Come to find out, Blish hated just about everything I loved, and would have been appalled at what I thought was going on in those spacebound cities.

#46 ::: MaxL ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 06:36 PM:

When I was hate-reading Hoyt's blog, I came across an entry in which she claimed to dislike If You Were a Dinosaur on the basis that it slanders manual laborers and working class people. This struck me as an excuse rather than a genuinely held belief, but it's not impossible that I missed something, so: do the villains of the piece read as necessarily working-class? If so, why?

If this was addressed previously, my apologies for missing it.

#47 ::: individ-ewe-al ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 06:59 PM:

MaxL @46: Swirsky has some discussion about perceived class issues in If you were a dinosaur, my love, if you're interested.

#48 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 07:49 PM:

Lucy Kemnitzer @45: The version of the Chronicles of Narnia that took place in my head while I was reading them as a kid is, it turns out, enormously more fun and less problematic than the version that sits on the page right now for my adult eyes to look at.


#49 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 08:12 PM:

re "prefer the Heinlein in my head"--well, yes, but that's not all by itself something I'd tweak someone for.

The other option I was considering was a shirt with a crying dog which read, "I liked Johnny Rico better in the movie." Does that hit the issues a little better?

#50 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 08:18 PM:

I want to hear about the time he groped your babysitter.

I wasn't there, of course, though I was around 11-13 while she babysat us, but I was reading a Heinlein book and she told me that she'd gone to a science fiction convention and met Robert Heinlein, and "he honked my boobs."

"He what!?"

"He honked my boob. Like this." She put one hand on each of her breasts and squeezed. "Honk. Like that." She wasn't being salacious mind you, just demonstrating what he'd done.

She was also surprised by how short he was.

#51 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 08:21 PM:

Kevin J. Maroney #44: WoT at 4.4Mw: Well, we-fandom might still match that if we toss in GRRM's lengthy essays, Philip Sandifer's opus, the various other responses, the File770 stuff, and perhaps their respective comment threads.

#52 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 08:30 PM:

However, we may be at the point of needing actual information. Anyone know which Heinlein stories puppies tend to prefer, and which parts of those novels?

I have no idea beyond the two obvious ones. In making my list I was thinking about how to turn the Heinlein fetish into some kind of anti-SP action or propaganda, or even T-Shirts.

I thought of another example of Heinlein as Social Justice Warrior, which was Citizen of the Galaxy. I'm trying to remember how much (if at all) Thorby's rich relatives benefited from the galactic slave trade. I vaguely recall a bit where it was speculated that Thorby's uncle had tipped off the slavers about which ship Thorby's parents had booked passage upon, but I don't recall much beyond that.

What I'm wondering about in Citizen is the structure of the book, in which we first see the ugliness of slavery, then we see the way slaves are captured, (or not captured if the Sisu's gunnery is accurate) and then we see Thorby as the heir of a very rich family. It would have been almost irresistible to any author to show slavery in three parts; the horror, the capture, and the rich people who benefit...

I guess I'll have to reread the book. In fact, I'll take it in my car and give it a go over the next few days.

#53 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 08:33 PM:

@ 48 Elliott Mason -- Oh lord! You and me both! I love marsh-wiggles so dearly, too, and Puddleglum is such an unapologetic ass when I read now. It pains ms.

Re-reading Narnia as an adult is one of the starkest experiences I have had for discovering that I believe that the omniscient narrator is dead wrong. My god, he had a hate on for poor Susan--and poor Eustace!

But I remember loving them so much and they meant so much to me. And however egotistical it sounds, I can't help but feel like that world in my head deserved better. (I gave a speech about this last year, at the Mythopoeic Society meeting, and was very gratified to find how many people who love and study the Inklings absolutely HATE "The Last Battle." Makes me feel like less of a freak.)

#54 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 08:52 PM:

#52 ::: Alex R.

It's interesting in CotG that, for the most part, the rich people who benefit from slavery don't know it.

Let me know if Thorby's uncle was behind him being kidnapped-- it's at least plausible, since you'd think that the child of such a wealthy family would have been held for ransom. On the other hand, wouldn't the uncle just have had Thorby killed? Or maybe the intent was to have Thorby killed, but the kidnappers saw a chance to make a little money on the side by selling him.

"Logic of Empire" is arguably about privilege.

#55 ::: Doctor Science ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 08:56 PM:

My latest contribution to the Puppening: Varieties of fictional pleasure. Which, among other things, asks why the Puppies say their *opponents* are "reactionary", and what they think the word means.

#56 ::: MaxL ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 09:03 PM:

individ-ewe-al @47

Thank you so much!

#57 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 09:28 PM:

Peace, everyone starts out as a neo, and no one stays a neo for long. You're welcome here, and you have been since the day you showed up.

#58 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 10:01 PM:

For informational purposes: The book Card wanted to write was Speaker For the Dead. There is a long tale of two publishers and my move to Tor involved with it. He began drafting Speaker, and realized the opening was going to be all info-dump if he didn't write Ender's backstory. So he did that first.

No one has been more surprised by Ender's Game than Scott and I have been. No one is more saddened that there are people who read it but never read Speaker than I am. Speaker For the Dead is the point. Ender's Game is the prologue.

#59 ::: Cat Valente ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 10:45 PM:

#18: My life is now complete, for I have been filked on Making Light.

#60 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 11:22 PM:

Ursula, did you or anyone else blog/otherwise writeup the speech and/or comments? If so, I want linkage, please.

#61 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 11:31 PM:

beth meacham, #58: Speaker For the Dead is the point. Ender's Game is the prologue.

Thanks for the insight, Beth. I kept wondering when I was reading Ender's Game if I was crazy, because it did not come close to living up to what other peoples' raves had let me to expect.

It certainly explains why the vast majority of the reviews for Speaker for the Dead consist of either "This is way better than Ender's Game!" or "This isn't nearly as good as Ender's Game, don't bother!"

#62 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 11:33 PM:

beth, #58: I got to talk to OSC at a con lo these many years ago, and I said that I had liked Speaker for the Dead a lot better. He mentioned his surprise and sort-of-dismay that Ender's Game was so much the more popular of the two. To which my reaction was more or less, "Well, DUH. Every 15-year-old gamer is absolutely going to adore Ender's Game, because it's a perfect gamer's fantasy. The other one appeals to more mature audiences, precisely because it is less formulaic."

He actually said he'd never thought about it from that angle. If he wasn't just being polite, I'm still flattered!

#63 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 11:34 PM:

#45 Lucy

IMT were really really really bad guys, though!

You and Elliott in #348 apparently got visited by the Suck Fairy!

#64 ::: Matt Austern ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 11:35 PM:

The Heinlein scene that this mess keeps reminding me of is that one in Starship Troopers where Mr. Dubois gives Rico the first prize certificate. Some people seem to have read that exchange the wrong way.

#65 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 11:37 PM:

@60 - I really need to transcribe that one. I keep meaning to...

#66 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2015, 11:43 PM:

Lee, #62:

That was pretty nearly my take on it. People who read chiefly for action-adventure, and prefer their world defined very firmly by "Good vs. Bad" and "we're the good guys, so whatever we have to do to win is okay!" will much prefer Ender's Game. People who prefer well-developed, nuanced characters and exploration of ethical themes will much prefer Speaker for the Dead.

I'm pretty sure I know which one a Puppy would prefer.

#67 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 12:33 AM:

Since we seem to be accumulating some general WSFS neepery here as well as specifically Hugo-related neepery---

If I am already a Supporting Member of Sasquan, do I need anything special besides name and address to fill out my site selection ballot, even though I don't have an e-token number and don't know my member number? I paid for my supporting membership by credit card through the web site before site selection opened, and it looks to me like I only need the e-token number if I'm paying for site selection voting through the web site (which happens to come with a supporting membership)?

(I have opinions about site selection this year! What novelty!)

#68 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 12:38 AM:

UrsulaV @65: Are these the acceptance remarks you mean?

"Bigger on the inside"... yes, yes. That sense that, fractal-like, if you look closely, you will find more.

#69 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 01:17 AM:

Let me know if Thorby's uncle was behind him being kidnapped-- it's at least plausible, since you'd think that the child of such a wealthy family would have been held for ransom.

This comes from Wikipedia, so it's probably semi-accurate. I've decided to reread Tunnel in the Sky first, so this is what I've got for now:

Thorby, investigating his parents' disappearance and his capture and sale by slavers, comes to suspect that his parents were eliminated to prevent the discovery that some portions of Rudbek and Associates were secretly profiting from the slave trade. When Weemsby quashes further investigation, Thorby seeks legal help and launches a proxy fight, which he unexpectedly wins when Leda votes her shares in his favor. He fires Weemsby and assumes full control of the firm.

#70 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 04:29 AM:

Thorby never gets hard proof that his parents were plotted against. It's a suspicion strongly raised.

It's interesting to have a pattern with a hole in it where your life, should it fit there, would be explained. I have one of those, early, which I've decided to assume about and move on from.

#71 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 04:55 AM:

It's interesting to have a pattern with a hole in it where your life...

I've got a big one of those myself. My dad is getting to the age where older men lose control of their emotions and I could probably press the right buttons and maneuver him into telling me, but I'd feel like such a shit if I did it... Like you, I've decided to make an assumption and move on.

#72 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 06:19 AM:

Re: the Card discussion: Ender's Game was extraordinarily meaningful to me when I was Of The Right Age for it (following up someone's comment in the last thread: I never thought you were supposed to identify with Ender over Valentine, so I just inhabited them both) and Speaker for the Dead was a little beyond me at that time. (Eleven years old, I think I was? Maybe twelve.) It's been a while since I've returned to them. I do remember the pacing being fairly different; and that the later Bean-following books seemed to return to the Ender's Game pacing.

Re: unexplained family histories: one of my partners has more of those than the average five people I've met. Every few years she pieces one together. She comes from a Southern family involved in military intelligence, *and* with buried ethnic/cultural traditions - so everything is sunk several layers deep in context and habitual concealment. Among other things, there's the story of the relative who had his death faked for him... Probably. They think.

#73 ::: Eimear Ní Mhéalóid ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 07:09 AM:

Kevin Riggle @ 67:
I am not an expert, but I think you pay a further €40 to vote on site selection, which entitles you to future supporting membership of whichever con wins the bid.

#74 ::: Kelly Jennings ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 07:52 AM:

Doctor Science -- love the post linked at #55, Varieties of Fiction Pleasure. Nice work.

#75 ::: ULTRAGOTHA ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 07:59 AM:


Instructions on site selection here.

You do need to pay the $40 USD site selection fee. The information you need is on the ballot.

#76 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 08:40 AM:

Doctor Science @55: Your Kink is Not My Kink (But That's Okay) is generally a good reaction. I usually use what I now realise is a slightly more judgemental version taken from John Rogers: I Think This Is For Other People.

Now the Puppies argument is that the Hugos are saying "This is the Best SF Novel" (etc.) then they read it and find it's for other people. This is a stronger endorsement than the usual "I like this book", to which YKINMKBTO is a good reply when you don't like it. It's a bit disorienting. "I didn't like it." "FANDOM HAS SPOKEN. THIS IS THE BEST BOOK."

I'm sorry about that Puppies. I've had that experience too. I didn't Like The Wind-up Girl. I thought The Graveyard Book was an amusing little story that ten year old me would have liked a lot. Seanen Mcguire/Mira Grant keeps showing up on the shortlists and I don't get it. Maybe I should have come up with a slate of my own. Or an award of my own. Or a reading list of my own. You might like what was on it. You might not. Your Kink Is Not My Kink. The Hugo Awards Kink Is Not Your Kink. But That's Okay.


Meanwhile I feel a bit stupid. Why does Larry Correia think the Hugo awards are run by cliques and slates and blocs? Well when he got his Campbell nomination in 2011 this was part of a loosely organised campaign by fans of his (from the Baen forums) who were also Worldcon members. Nothing wrong with that; fans encouraging other fans to nominate someone who they might otherwise have overlooked.

He loses and is told by some areholes that it's because he's a conservative bigot*. He looks about and sees people making "for your consideration" and "these works are eligible" posts. So that's how it works he thinks.

Next year he tries that and sees Scalzi win. Why did it work for Scalzi but not him? Is it because it's Space Opera vs Urban Fantasy, or Star Trek fanfiction vs Gun Porn? Or is it Liberal vs Conservative or Tor vs Baen? What is Scalzi's voting bloc? What motivates them to pick his Adventure Novel over Correia's?

Just like there was a loosely organised group who nominated him, there must be a better organised group behind the winners. A secret, or at least discreet group. A group with an agenda. But what agenda?

Obviously it is because the Hugo voters like making puppies sad.

* Citation needed

#77 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 09:00 AM:

I have a tendency to forget that I've never actually read the novel-length Ender's Game. My introduction to Card was the collection Unaccompanied Sonata and Other Stories, which starts with the short story. The whole collection made a strong impression on me (including thinking of Card as "the tortured children author"), but I think what must have happened is that the story stuck with me enough that when the novel came out I kept thinking that I'd already read it and never got around to actually doing so.

#78 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 09:18 AM:

@ 68 Alas, no! It was from the year after--they invited me to be a guest and I had a rather longer speech about The Point Where I Realized It Was A Cheistian Metaphor. The text is in my laptop bag and some day I will transcribe it...

#79 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 09:23 AM:

Christian metaphor. I can spell the names of major world religions, I swear!

#80 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 10:27 AM:

I (finally) just got around to reading "If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love" I should have read it before. It is lovely, absolutely. SF/F enough for my old unsophisticated tastes.

As for the "class distinction" below is my comment copied from AMPTOONS


Lets structure this as annoyingly as possible, to emulate how the SP/RP arguments seem to my (obliviously) untutored SJW mindset.

(1) lovely story
(2) don’t change a word.
(3) “gin-soaked” denotes drunk, likely habitual, possible just binge
(4) the choice of gin as the libation is not indicative of class unless you’re required to do deconstructive analysis for a lit 101 course – see (3) above
(5) the setting evoked for me would be VFW halls, as that is most familiar or me with pool tables.
(6) For those in the “upper crust” (see what I did there! see!) the locale could just as easily be a private club or private residence.
(7) for “middle-class” (see! I did it again!) the locale could be in a finished basement rec room
(8) don’t change a word
(9) lovely story


And, yes, if I were voting, if this story were on the Hugo ballot as a Short Story entrant, it would certainly get my nod.

#81 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 10:44 AM:

As a child I adored the Chronicles of Narnia, even though parts of it confused or bored me, and I never liked how Susan was treated.

Then I got just a little older and learnt enough to spot the heavy, oh gods, so heavy-handed Christian symbolism and began to be disenchanted with them and got much more indignant about poor Susan, cast out of heaven because she liked boys.

Then I discovered the works of E. Nesbit and discovered that the entire Chronicles of Narnia was little more than E. Nesbit fan-fic with Christian symbolism stapled on.

Lewis himself admitted as much. Well, he didn't think of it as fan-fic and he thought the religious moralistic messages *improved* the stories. But he said himself he was trying to do an E. Nesbit sort of thing.

The number of plot elements he swiped entire from Nesbit's work is pretty high.

Frankly, if you like the magic of Narnia but hate the preachiness, Nesbit is a much better read.

#82 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 11:20 AM:

Kevin, #68: And that "bigger on the inside" sense is where fanfic starts.

Alex, #71: Interesting. That's not the decision I would make in that position, but it's your life.

Neil, #76: That's a very plausible analysis. There's one more point which I think may be in there somewhere, namely a tendency I often notice in parochial thought to assume that whatever it is, it's All About Them. My book didn't win the Hugo? It can't be that there were just more people who liked the other one, it has to be because there's a vendetta against ME! The idea that people might vote for something else for reasons that have nothing to do with him simply isn't on the table at all.

(Note that this does not apply to this year's Hugos, because there are a lot of people voting specifically against the SP slate.)

#83 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 11:25 AM:

I grew up reading both Lewis and Nesbit.

Lewis was definitely trying for Nesbit effects in The Magician's Nephew (where he makes a reference to the Bastables), but not so much with the other stories. Nesbit's fantasy always had a large component of children working around the adults who weren't in on the magic (in this she's a predecessor of Edward Eager); Lewis' secondary world fantasy is somewhat different in effect.

My reading experience of Lewis has never been exactly "preachy", and less so in the Narnia books than in parts of Perelandra and That Hideous Strength, where Ransom is the source. Lewis does does use an intrusive narrator in the Narnia books who can get irritating, but it's not so much preachiness as mapping elements of the story to real-world experiences which are no longer current.

The bits of explicit Christian references are fairly veiled until the end of the The Last Battle: even the references at the end of Dawn Treader will fly over the head of somebody who hasn't already been exposed to certain tropes. This should be qualified by the fact that as a lifetime Anglican I don't get irritated by a setting in an explicitly Christian universe (which is more accurate than "symbolism": Aslan isn't a symbol for Christ, he's an actual manifestation of the second person of the Trinity in a different context); also by the fact that having read The Golden Bough and Lewis' autobiographical writings I would put the dying god aspects of TLTWATW more as Lewis ringing changes on the dying god theme (which he talks about as an influence before his conversion to Christianity) rather than simply putting in a veiled crucifixion scene, as he viewed it as a widespread and fundamental myth.

#84 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 01:19 PM:

Interesting. That's not the decision I would make in that position, but it's your life.

That decision comes because the hole in my particular narrative is important, but not IMPORTANT, so I can function just fine with it papered over. If it was a little larger I'd manipulate my father and Get The Real Facts.

#85 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 01:38 PM:

@ 83 James - Mm. My narrator problems weren't that he was going on about English boarding schools or how good the candy was or whatever, it's that he would say things that just were not supported in my own reading of the text--"Susan was the worst," he informs us, in PC, instead of showing us, when Susan is not doing anything particularly awful, particularly for someone being dragged around in the middle of the night, and then a lot of smugness in VotD about how Eustace doesn't get to cry when "nothing worse had happened than a dunking."

And brother, if I am ever sucked into another universe and thrown into sea water, crying is gonna be the LEAST I do.

I really objected to his value judgments more than his references. Basically, the narrator was coming across as an avuncular jerk.

#86 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 01:49 PM:

UrsulaV @ 85... "Susan was the worst"

I have this theory that, if a character is named Susan in a movie, it's a flag that she'll be trouble.
(Yes, my wife's name *is* Susan.)

#87 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 01:54 PM:

I did say irritating...

Lewis' intrusive narratorial voice is in some ways interesting. It didn't bother me at all as a child, and since that's his audience I suppose it gets a pass that far. But it assumes (and therefore promotes) norms of behaviour that were out-of-date well before the publication of the books. Tolkien (whose intrusive narration was the reverse of Lewis -- Tolkien will talk about fantastic things as though they were normal, very matter-of-factly, to domesticate them for his child audience; Lewis keeps dragging in a supposed our-world experience) was right to be critical of Lewis approach.

This has meant that Lewis is really vulnerable to ageing well, i.e., except for Till We Have Faces, he generally doesn't. And it means that he got a head start in it by already being somewhat out of date when he was fresh.

He's also just on the line as regards his religious social assumptions (as regards England) between the period in which it was at least arguable that a majority of the population was lapsed, or in the hatch, match, dispatch category, and the period in which that passes on into the completely unchurched. One of the big problems with Wright is that Lewis just barely belonged to a generation where he could assume some common understanding (even if he was wrong, the assumption was sincere, which affects his tone); Wright speaks as a conscious member of a minority, made smaller by the fact that he rejects anything other than a rather rigid definition of an acceptable set of beliefs, basically those held by conservative RCs and some Eastern Orthodox.

#88 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 02:25 PM:

Craig R. @ #80: “gin-soaked” denotes drunk, likely habitual, possible just binge

I was surprised that that phrase turned out to be the issue -- afaik, gin hasn't been the stereotypical drink of the lower classes for at least a century.

#89 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 02:30 PM:

"Of all the gin joints..."

#90 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 02:44 PM:

The weird thing is that when the avuncular narrator worked, it worked really well--I still like the passage in VotD about how there is nothing that a dragon likes so much as fresh dragon, and there are bits and pieces where the voice shines. But when it falls flat, boy, it doesn't just fall, it leaves a smoking crater behind it.

And I mean, heck, there's plenty of authors like that--when Stephen King hits, he hits hard, and when he misses, he winds up somewhere in the next county. I don't know that this one would affect me so much if Narnia had not been such a gigantic part of my mental landscape growing up. My career is built mostly out of Talking Beasts, when you get right down to it...

#91 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 02:46 PM:

I would normally assume gin to signal martinis or G&Ts, and hence at least middle to upper-middle class. By comparison, I think of beer (except for real ale / craft beer) as more of a working-class marker (and I drink beer, although very much in the microbrewery domain), and rum as lower-class ("like a sailor in a slum").

I also agree with the commenters on Swirsky's blog who say that the term, if a class-marker at all, is one for the narrator rather than the objects of the label.

#92 ::: Kelly Jennings ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 02:54 PM:

"This has meant that Lewis is really vulnerable to ageing well, i.e., except for Till We Have Faces, he generally doesn't."

I recently taught Till We Have Faces in a class on Mythic Fiction, here in Northwest Arkansas. About a third of my students were Evangelical & Homeschooled Christians, and thus big fans of Lewis, since he was very nearly the only fantasy writer they had ever been allowed to read, growing up (or even yet, I suspect). The rest, though, were standard issue American young adults / returning students (Veterans and older women and laid-off workers).

All of which is to say -- nearly all of them, even many of the Evangelical students, disliked Till We Have Faces intensely.

I also didn't like it. While I can see what Lewis is after, it feels very much as though he is rigging the game in that novel, if you see what I mean -- manipulating the actions of the characters to achieve the outcome he desires.

I don't (that is) believe those characters would in fact act that way. I believe Lewis wants to say something about mortal love v. Holy Love*, and thus constructed a plot that would let him say that thing.

It feels like a dishonest book, is what I am saying, I guess.

And I did expect to like it, I'll add. I never did read the Narnia books; but I'd read some of Lewis's non-fiction, and had enjoyed that. Plus I almost always do like novels that are written from Greek mythology. So, well.

Maybe I'll try it again in a few years.

#93 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 03:03 PM:

James @83: Eager was definitely and directly writing Nesbit fanfic, and even mentions her books as being favorites of the kids (I think this is in Seven Day Magic, but my copy's in the storage locker so I can't check). And he did a fine job of it, too.

I'm surprised Nesbit isn't more remembered than she seems to be: many of the people here love her, but she doesn't get mentioned much in the outside world.

#94 ::: Kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 03:05 PM:

I'm following the discussion of Lewis' narrative style avidly! Do go on, everyone, I'm learning a lot.

I read the Narnia books, out of order, when I was 10 or 11, and I loved them, as well as bounced off certain parts very hard indeed. I liked the Magicians Nephew the best - except when the action was in Narnia, and in Dawn Treader, thought Eustace was a really interesting character as a dragon. (Also I loved talking animal stories, particularly about mice and dragons, as well as transformation stories.)

I never could make sense of Susan, but I always thought that was because I had read the books out of order. Now I'm afraid to return to them, and question wether I want my kids to read them.

#95 ::: Stephen Rochelle ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 03:22 PM:

On Neil W @76's "citation needed" (for "Correia was told the fix was in" and/or "by arseholes"):

The thing I keep circling back to on that particular talking point is this: just because I am truly told a thing by people who truly believe what they are telling me does not make that thing true.

I mean, this is a really basic error in logic, but it appears to be informing so much of the SP beef against how the Hugos have operated. "I have been told that the game is rigged" leaps directly to "the game is rigged", which is in turn used to justify poor behavior.

I feel like I haven't seen much made of that bit. Maybe I've just missed it; maybe everybody else is taking it as an obvious given. I'm not sure. But it's the sort of thing that I'd hope a friend would dope-slap me for if I started corresponding with Nigerian princes or the like.

#96 ::: cn ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 04:40 PM:

Stephen @95: That has the ring of truth about it. It's true because he wants it to be true, and he has seized upon it so he doesn't have to face the reality of voters telling him they didn't like his stuff or they found something else they liked even better. And he doesn't stop to consider the possibility that they also liked his work, just not enough to beat out the competition.

I've always viewed the Hugos as an indicator of good stories to read, which might or might not ascend to the level of greatness. I don't think truly great stories are so common that there's one available in every category in every year. But there are always good or even very good ones every year. The Pups have for me forever removed themselves from my very wide reading lists, because by their actions they tell me that they know their stuff isn't good enough. If they thought it was, they would be willing to put it out there without trickeration and let it stand or fall on its own merits.

#97 ::: Bill ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 04:45 PM:

Nancy @30 "Even "The Roads Must Roll" isn't exactly pro-puppy-- it's about someone with a clever idea that he should be in charge, and who's willing to break a functioning system so that he can be in charge."

Sounds like a description of Vox Day . . .

#98 ::: Bill ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 05:53 PM:

Alex @21: "Tunnel In The Sky, published in 1955, had an explicitly described black, female major character and an implicitly described black male protagonist. (Heinlein stated in a letter that Rod Walker was black, but I'm not sure that wasn't a bit of Dumbledore-style retconning.)"

Bill Patterson, Heinlein's biographer, once said: "Remember that . . . his editor at Scribner's was assuring him that having an obviously Negro character in Tunnel in the Sky would lose them all sales in the South. He waited a few years to tell her that Rod Walker was also a Negro. She was upset with him because he had put the Scribner's name and reputation at risk."

#99 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 06:10 PM:

Bill Patterson, Heinlein's biographer, once said: "Remember that . . . his editor at Scribner's was assuring him that having an obviously Negro character in Tunnel in the Sky would lose them all sales in the South. He waited a few years to tell her that Rod Walker was also a Negro. She was upset with him because he had put the Scribner's name and reputation at risk."

I'm currently rereading Tunnel In The Sky with an eye to looking at that very issue. In the first few pages he says something like, "...the Zulu girl, Carol, with the unpronounceable last name."

Thus far no hints about Rod's race and I've definitely been keeping my eyes out.

#100 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 06:14 PM:

Actually I'm surprised that many here know about Nesbit, given how old they are and the large ocean between her and many readers here. I recall reading 2 or 3 of her books as a child, but they didn't stick nor did I re-read them. A bit like the Narnia books really, which I read twice and enjoyed but moved onto bigger and better things.

#101 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 06:20 PM:

Eimear @73, ULTRAGOTHA @75:

OH. The Advance Supporting Membership is different than, and additional to, the regular supporting membership I already have in Sasquan. I read that site and the ballot multiple times and that was not clear to me until now. (Yay, wall of text.) Thank you for the clarification.

That was not the way I thought voting worked at all. I had heard that everyone who had a supporting membership was eligible to vote for site selection, and people may have neglected to mention the additional fee or I may have just assumed it worked like the Hugos.

It is an elegant system, now that I see it, but not the system I was expecting.

#102 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 06:22 PM:

AlexR @50: "She was also surprised by how short he was."

Huh. I wonder if she could have mixed up Heinlein and some other well-known name (such as Asimov). I've seen Heinlein speak, and he wasn't especially short. Apparently he was six feet tall as a young man (Patterson v. 1 p. 49), and though he may have lost height as he aged (I think he was around 70 when I saw him), he didn't look less than five-ten. (Panshin says five-eleven.) And while I don't think it's impossible at all that Heinlein would have honked someone's boobs, it sounds far more typical of Asimov. (I can't recall ever hearing any other such complaint about Heinlein, actually.)

#103 ::: kate ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 06:23 PM:

Guthrie: As another datapoint, I read lots of Nesbit as a kid. (But never associated them with Lewis. I may have to re-read 'em to see if the plots are that similar.)

Then again, I'm a USian who's also read (many of) the Famous Five books (by Enid Blyton), so I guess maybe I'm atypical of my era.

#104 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 06:28 PM:

UrsulaV @78: Alas! Well, I look forward to reading it when you dig it out of your laptop bag.

and @85: I kind of want that disconnect between the narrator and the text to mean the narrator is an unreliable narrator, but since we assume Lewis intended for the narrator to be himself I think it's hard for it to not reflect badly on him even if so. (But I am an unreserved fan of unreliable narrators, so I see them everywhere. And they also make for great fanfic, he says, nodding at Lee.)

#105 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 06:30 PM:

Re: Narnia -- the thing is, Lewis was writing this stuff as parables for kids, with apparently no awareness that it would be judged at literature -- stuff like narrative voice and consistency. And what he wound up with was indeed something that enchants children, but doesn't pass muster with adults.

The "just for kids" aspect is underlined at the end of TLtWatW, when, having let his foursome grow up into adult kings and queens, he retroactively makes it All Just (Like) a Dream. (This also suggests that he might not have been thinking in terms of a series at that point.)

Others have commented about just how nasty taking away their adult lives could be when you think about it, but there's another point: It effectively demotes Narnia to a demimonde, and never mind that there's a standing gateway from our world, or that the World of Pools strongly suggests that Narnia is the same sort of world as ours.

I think his Space Trilogy shows a similar failing -- it felt to me like a constructed scenario, rather than even possible universe from Lewis's own perspective. His Mars and Venus don't feel like places I could visit and explore, they feel like stage dressing.

Compare to the worlds L'Engle whips us through -- even though we spend less time in most of them, they feel like if you wandered off, there would be more interesting stuff outside the novel's area. Heck, even IT's world invites questions about how it could possibly work, if only to pick at the logical flaws implied by the bits the characters were shown.

#106 ::: Dave Crisp ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 06:30 PM:

In re "gin-soaked"... Remember George Galloway's description of Christopher Hitchens as a "gin-soaked ex-Trotskyite popinjay" (to which Hitch replied that only some of it was true)

#107 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 06:50 PM:

@ 105 - *cough* It is possible that I have written fan fic about this exact issue of adult lives being removed.

More generally, I recall reading "Island of the Nine Whirlpools" and enjoying it as a kid, but that was in another country (and besides the wench is now 37.)

#108 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 07:32 PM:

UrsulaV #107: Indeed, your story was the big thing I was thinking about, though it also got further discussion here.

Oh and... so, Lewis sought to draw children to Christianity with magical tales targeted specifically to children, but to adult eyes, these lack fundamental substance or consistency.

Tell me again, who did we see luring a child into service, with a magical confection that befuddled their reason? >;-)

#109 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 07:48 PM:

Usually I only read a few award winners several years after the fact. But now I'm halfway through The Three Body Problem. Thanks, Puppies, for bringing it to my attention.

#110 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 07:56 PM:

David Harmon @ 108: Well, fwiw, Lewis himself apparently believed that his conversion to Christianity owed something to having read Chesterton and MacDonald. He talks about it in Surprised by Joy, I think, though I admit it's been years since I've read that book and I found the details this time by googling "C.S. Lewis Conversion Experience" . . .

#111 ::: Grace Seybold ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 08:00 PM:

This thread is making me want to go back and reread Narnia, which I haven't done since high school, and tangentially also John Brunner's Crucible of Time (how did that one [the greatest book ever, according to nine-year-old me] not get mentioned in the John Brunner discussion of his Big Idea books?). It is also making me very much afraid to.

Paula Leiberman @31: I've shot a longbow while wearing a floor-length dress and the skirts didn't get tangled in the bowstring. Sleeves, now, that can be a real problem. And hair. The loose hair of the character in Brave makes me wince, because catching your hair in your bowstring and snapping it down-range really stings.

Regarding pictures/t-shirt designs (Alex R. @33 and others): Someone in one of the previous threads mentioned wanting a t-shirt that said "It's Secret Cabals All The Way Down" and it just occurred to me a cool picture for that would be a rocket with a smaller rocket inside, with a smaller rocket inside that, etc., like Russian nesting dolls. I'm not an artist but it looks good in my head. Although I'm not sure if it falls under the category of "things the WSFS would rather people didn't do with their trademark" as Kevin Standlee mentioned regarding the droopy rocket illustration, lo these many threads ago.

#112 ::: ULTRAGOTHA ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 08:02 PM:

Kevin Riggle @101
It is an elegant system, now that I see it, but not the system I was expecting.

Yeah, a bit confusing. I've been explaining it here and there. The idea you have to pay AGAIN seems a bit much until you realize that payment gets you a supporting membership to the 2017 WorldCon. Possibly at a discount, too. I paid $40 to vote for MidAmeriCon II and the supporting membership fee for that is now $50.

If you keep doing it every year, you get all the benefits of a supporting membership for the minimum amount every time.

I am also enjoying the Lewis discussion. Thank you all!

#113 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 08:09 PM:

The world of the interplanetary trilogy is artificial, but it's not Lewis' artifice. It's more if a tongue-in-cheek prank. He took what he elsewhere called the "mediaeval model", as it stood at the time of Bernardus Sylvestris and Alanus de Insulis, and transferred as much as he could to a heliocentric model without crystal spheres. Even his names - Oyarsa, eldila - are twisted versions of the Latin, ousiarches, eidola.

David Harmon: there's tons of testimony, from the full range of positions from atheist to devout Christian, that there is no evident Christianity in the Narnia books when read as a child. It's only later, after one knows more about Christianity, that the references become evident. They aren't evangelizing or apologetic in nature, although they reflect Lewis's beliefs regarding the underlying structure of the universe. (By contrast, Lewis did write apologetics for adults, and there are indeed elements of that in That Hideous Strength, although probably no more (or less) prominently than in Chesterton's Father Brown stories.

#114 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 08:18 PM:

For people who want a reading buddy experience for coming back to Narnia as adults, I highly recommend Anna Mardoll's chapter by chapter deconstructions.

Not only for what she says, but for her commenters, who are a community like this one. Many write little fix-it fanfics in the comments, and carry on detailed conversations and discussions about the series and their histories with it.

Spoilers Abound, if you care, but I'd mainly recommend the posts for people who read the series as children anyhow, so you'll have moderate memories of most of the things 'spoiled'.

#115 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 08:20 PM:

An ohnosecond later, I realized that the index post I linked only goes through Dawn Treader. She's actually amidst The Silver Chair at the moment; when you run out of linked posts click the "deconstruction (narnia)" tag at the bottom of any of the posts to get the rest.

She's also been giving Xanth the same treatment.

#116 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 08:20 PM:

@ 113 - Eh, color me skeptical--nine year old me figured it out partway through "The Last Battle." (Which I had stopped reading after the Horses got shot, and did not pick up for many months, during which I had re-read the rest a few dozen times.)

And nine-year-old me was royally pissed, too, because it felt like Lewis had knowingly put one over on me because I was just a dumb kid. "Ha! Surprise, it's CHURCH!"

Adult me thinks that Lewis was probably not smirking in the background, but the pride of nine-year-olds, as I've remarked in other venues, is made of adamant, and I hated being patronized more than I hated anything else in heaven or earth. How dare he take something as important as Talking Animals and use them like that! Raawwww!

I don't think nine-year-old me was noticeably more insightful than your average child, but I'm willing to allow that mileage varies wildly on this one. I've certainly talked to a fair number of other people who felt intensely betrayed by the discovery that it was Christianity wrapped up in lions, but presumably we'd gravitate to each other...

#117 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 08:21 PM:

James #113: there's tons of testimony, from the full range of positions from atheist to devout Christian, that there is no evident Christianity in the Narnia books when read as a child. It's only later, after one knows more about Christianity, that the references become evident.

Indeed, and as a mostly-assimilated Jewish kid, I didn't "get it" either. But that cuts both ways with respect to my wisecrack. (Which is what that was, and not meant to be a serious accusation.)

#118 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 08:22 PM:

@ 114 Elliott Mason -- I have been enjoying those for years, and have fix-fic'd a few things myself. If copyright would expire a bit quicker, I'd be re-writing Silver Chair with marsh-wiggle assassins and Talking Vulture spies so fast...

#119 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 08:27 PM:

I was disappointed to not see Puddleglum in Heaven. I have no doubt he was saved, but I also have no idea what he could have said which would have been in character.

#120 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 08:33 PM:

I admit I always end up a bit bemused in the Narnia discussions here, and a bit sad. I didn't have any horrible revelatory moment about Christ figures in the stories: my parents would pause to explain those parallels as we read the books together, to make sure I noticed. And given the plodding, anvil-like Christian fiction for children often available to me, I treasured the Narnia books for having some complexity and subtlety to how they handled that particular set of metaphors.

My childhood reading was full of ham-fisted Christian allegories I rolled my eyes at. (I can still remember a particularly painful one from one Sunday School class, that had Satan whispering suggestions of disobedience at the Ear Gate of the city and...really, you don't want to know all the details.) Maybe it's damning with faint praise to say that Narnia stood head and shoulders above those, but it really did. It came across as actual good stories, and I still love those books.

Except for The Last Battle. Screw that book. Even in family read-throughs of the entire series, we tended to skip that one after the first time.

#121 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 08:42 PM:

@ 119 - "It's all very well for us," said Puddleglum gloomily, "but what about everyone else, eh? Not exactly sunny skies and eel-pie for them, now, is it?" He gestured vaguely, presumably in the direction of Earth, or the now-defunct Narnia. "Great crashing train wrecks--whatever a 'train' is, though I'm given to understand it involves a lot of metal and steam and boilers and fantastic speeds and you can't tell me THAT was a good idea, whoever came up with it--and some poor sod's got to go picking through the wreckage, don't they?"

He sniffed and picked up his fishing pole. "I'm not saying anything bad about Aslan, you understand. I'm with the Lion, through thick and thin. I'm just saying someone's got to clean up the mess back...wherever you humans come from. Not much fun for them, now, is it?"

The eels were biting. In Heaven, the eels were always biting. Whether or not they were actual living eels was a matter of some theological debate among marsh-wiggles, though they didn't want to trouble Aslan with it. Probably eels didn't actually die in Heaven, but they made quite a good pie and acted as if they were dead, and that was the important thing.

"Don't get me started on all the things that got frozen to death," added Puddleglum, after a few minutes with the eels. "I'm not saying they didn't deserve it, I'm just saying that if you twisted your ankle on the run in from the Lone Isles and were a little bit slow coming in, you might find yourself in the outer darkness with a bunch of crawling bat-thingies." He sighed. Presumably the Lion had thought of all that, the way he'd thought of the eels.

There was a strain of marsh-wiggle philosophy that held that Narnian Heaven was actually a Hell for particularly bad eels, but they didn't say it anywhere that Reepicheep might be listening.

#122 ::: Doctor Science ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 08:50 PM:

@92 Kelly:

How odd. I LOVE Till We Have Faces, it's my favorite Lewis by far.

Why I love it (caveat: I haven't re-read it in 15-20 years): it's the *only* book I can think of which is really, truly about the "ugly princess", the one whom no-one *ever* thinks is beautiful, and who is never the object of anyone's desire.

Lewis really seems to understand, on a gut level, how defining beauty and its lack can be for women, how bitter and helpless it can make a woman feel.

#123 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 08:53 PM:

UrsulaV @121: restrained applause, as might be appropriate for a Marsh-wiggle....

#124 ::: Kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 09:02 PM:

For what it's worth, I never, ever, understood the plot of the Silver Chair. Not when I was ten, nor twelve, or fifteen, or twenty. It just slipped out of my mind as fast as I read it, like water off a duck's back.

I think a lot of my own authorial voice has been shaped by the narrator in the Narnia books, but just as much by Tolkien, and Milne, and Grahame, and Susan Cooper, and Graham Dunstan Martin, and Blyton, and Nesbit. I think you probably see the pattern? (I wonder how much the use of the friendly, avuncular or materteral voice helps anchor the reader in Neil Gaiman's fiction, in contrast to the somewhat cosmic horrors he tells of.)

#125 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 09:02 PM:

UrsulaV #121: <giggle> That is just right in so many ways....

#126 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 09:06 PM:

James, #113: There's tons of testimony, from the full range of positions from atheist to devout Christian, that there is no evident Christianity in the Narnia books when read as a child. It's only later, after one knows more about Christianity, that the references become evident.

My first -- and only -- experience of Narnia was through little serialized illustrated booklets they handed out to us in Sunday School (which I attended at my mother's non-negotiable insistence, despite the fact that by the age of 10 or so I'd decided that I wanted no part of any deity who behaved in the ways described in Sunday School lessons and church sermons).

Because of the venue, the parallel was quite obvious to me -- they didn't really talk about it, but it was not lost on me why they were giving us these stories. Because of that, I could not stand the Narnia stories, and have never read past TLTWATW (though I did see the first movie free on cable at some point).

I sort of envy those of you who were able to have that untainted experience of Narnia.

On the other hand, I was quite happy reading my Heinlein and LeGuin and Blish Star Trek adaptations, so I never felt that I missed out on something.

#127 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 09:18 PM:

In re Nesbit: It is my understanding, as an American whose access to books was idiosyncratic (because my grandfather had a massive used-bookstore Thing and liked to bring me home shiny things he had found), that Nesbit and Ransome and Blyton were and to some degree still are commonplaces of British childhood reading, roughly parallel to Alcott and Wilder (Laura Ingalls) and C.S. Lewis over here.

However, Nesbit and Ransome and Blyton were for the most part not in print from US houses in the 80s -- all the copies I ever got were UK or Canadian printings that came through the secondary market, until well after the existence of eBay. Occasionally one title or so from one of these British pillars would show up from Penguin US, but rarely.

#128 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 09:22 PM:

Fade Manley:that sounds a bit like Bunyan's Holy War. Now there's an example of didactic Christian allegory for you!

#129 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 09:35 PM:

Elliott Mason @127: I was reading my mother's copies of Nesbit, and getting others from the library (where they insisted, to my mother's horror, on filing her under Bland because she was married to a man of that name). We had several the library didn't, but they had others we didn't.

That was in the US in the early/mid 1960s, though, for a data point.

#130 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 09:40 PM:

Oh C.S. Lewis. I love him so, but one of the things I love is how clear it is (to me) that he is a closeted pagan trying desperately to justify the things he instinctively feels and believes with the Christianity which he is intellectually committed to.

#131 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 09:45 PM:

I hated being patronized more than I hated anything else in heaven or earth. How dare he take something as important as Talking Animals and use them like that! Raawwww!

This is why I don't read Narnia anymore and still read Digger again from time to time. (I read it again last weekend when I was sick, which means your work is now comfort reading.)

By the way, when Digger got home, had all the good engineering jobs of her generation been taken? For whatever reason this question really bothers me.

#132 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 09:45 PM:

I loved Narnia as a child (except for The Last Battle). I'm still fond of it, although I do see problems I didn't notice when younger. I still enjoy rereading favorite bits, though I don't generally read from beginning to end. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

But I didn't ever connect it with fantasy; I always think of my gateway SF as The Hobbit and The Time Traders (Andre Norton), both the year I was 10 ... but my first copy of TLTWATW was given to me as a birthday present the year I turned 8.

And I read and loved all the Edward Eager books early on, but bounced off Nesbit when I first tried. The language might have been a bit too difficult for me still. I came back later and enjoyed them. Although The Railway Children, which has no fantastic elements, is my favorite.

#133 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 09:46 PM:

James @128: One of my favorite books in childhood was Little Pilgrim's Progress, which was basically a child's version of Pilgrim's Progress, complete with illustrations. The fact that even that book was more elegant and less didactic than some of the allegories they tried to pass off as Fun Stories For Children in the Christian kiddy literature available should tell you a great deal about the general quality in that area. By those standards, Narnia was high literature, and wildly daring for letting Jesus actually be a lion, and not simply be metaphorically a lion, complete with loud insistence on it just being a metaphor, he's not really a lion, kids, honest.

(There was also a drama production designed for children, complete with songs, based on the LPP book. We had a cassette tape of a church's Sunday School pageant of it. I can still sing bits of some of the songs... In retrospect, it's a story with an awful lot of horrific death to have small children do as a play.)

#134 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 09:54 PM:

@ 131 Alex - Yes, they had, and she had also been declared dead in absentia, since it took some time for her to get home.

However, this paperwork was rapidly cleared up and her cousin cleared out the spare bedroom and her family chipped in furniture. (Her parents loved her very much, but she did not wish to live with them, nor they her, and they had anyway already rented her bedroom to an exchange student from another warren.) She got one of the many uninspired but functional jobs that are available to the well-trained in wombat society, moved into her own burrow, and began submitting designs to various projects in her free time. Her unusual experience with non-wombat architecture shown in the designs and she was rapidly hired by what was--for wombats--a daring and experimental design firm, and made quite a name for herself. Sometimes you make your own luck.

Other factors later intervened in her life, much later, but that, as they say, is another story.

(Does that help?)

#135 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 10:08 PM:

Ursula, that #121 was gorgeous. Thank you. :)

#136 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 10:16 PM:

beth meacham@130: Oddly, I parse Lewis as a closeted Catholic trying to justify the things he instinctively feels and believes with the Ulster Irish Low churchmanship to which he was intellectually committed.

#137 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 10:23 PM:

OtterB, I was hoping someone would bring Edward Eager into it. He's close to the top for me, on the strength of his two most popular titles. I only found the rest around 20 years ago, maybe less, but all the titles were at our book store, and I picked up a uniform set of paperbacks. I added a second copy of SEVEN-DAY MAGIC when the local library was selling their old copy for a quarter. I was outraged they were shedding such a book (probably to fit in more monster far joke books), but couldn't resist having an ex-library copy of that exact book.

It came to mind today when my copy of EXCELSIOR, YOU FATHEAD! arrived. I'd purchased it from Amazon, and was pleasantly surprised to see that it was an ex-library volume from Fairport — just two towns away from here.

#138 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 10:30 PM:

Kip W @137: Eager's been mentioned several times already, upstream, by me and others.

I couldn't resist buying the xlib 1st of A WIZARD OF EARTHSEA that actually came from the library I read it from, originally (the Los Altos Public Library). It was like having an old friend come to stay.

#139 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 10:46 PM:

UrsulaV @121

Madam, thank you for that, from the bottom of my heart.

I do love the work of Edward Eager, and how enthusiastically he gives credit to the inspiration of E. Nesbit.


In grimmer news I have read most of the short stories currently on the Hugo ballot.

A couple of them remind me of the sort of florid backstory -- what gamers call "fluff" -- that shows up in some of the more pretentious tabletop roleplaying and war games.

They aren't terrible. I would consider them average if I ran across them in the Manual of the Planes, or as the backstory of a player-character, or as the introduction to a stack of dungeon maps.

But average writing is not to my mind up to the standards of the Hugo ballot.

I have one more story to hunt down. Before I do, I'd like to ask, are there any non-Puppy short stories on the ballot? Because so far only one I have read strikes me as even sort of good, even if it's a retread of a fifty-year-old idea. The quality level of the others has not left me too eager to do the work of finding the last one if it's anything like them.

#140 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 10:55 PM:

Ursula @134:

I am not Alex, obviously, but thank you for that.

#141 ::: Stephen Rochelle ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 11:00 PM:

Peace @139: At the time of the initial ballot release, there were no non-Puppy finalists in Novella / Novelette / Short Story. One of the JCW pieces -- I think a novelette -- was DQ'ed for publication date and something else replaced it, but I think the Short Story category remains unchanged.

#142 ::: Stephen Rochelle ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 11:04 PM:

Peace @139 again: and, having just posted that, I recalled that Annie Bellet withdrew her short story and a new one replaced it. However, the replacement was also from the Puppy slate.

#143 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 11:16 PM:

I've read the three novellas in Analog. 'Average' pretty much describes them. Or 'adequate'. (I remembered them when I dug out the issues and looked at them. So: not particularly memorable.)

#144 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 11:19 PM:

(Does that help?)

Yes, it does. The feeling of relief is quite profound. I don't know why the problems of a fictional character should concern me so, but there it is!

My own head-canon was that she had lead the surplus population of her warren back to Rath to found a new warren, but I like yours better, not merely because it is the official canon, but because it sounds like considerably less stressful, backbreaking work for the poor dear (and having to walk across the Vale of a Hundred Eyes with a battalion of eager newbies in tow Does Not Sound Like Fun.)

#145 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 11:27 PM:

UrsulaV @134, thank you, thank you, thank you. I've wondered that myself, but didn't want to ask (for fear of Nagging The Author) so I'm very grateful to Alex for having the courage to do so....

(Might there, eventually, when time permits, be another episode of Digger's life available? Or perhaps a little something about the Shadowlescent? Speaking of Nagging the Author...)

#146 ::: Kelly Jennings ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 11:35 PM:

Doctor Science @121: See, that's one of the things I dislike most about the book.

For two reasons: (1) Yes, I know beauty is *supposed* to be the only thing that is important about a woman, but that is very much working from the Male Gaze, isn't it?

I mean, I know plenty of women who don't, in fact, have their lives ruined by their lack of beauty -- who have perfectly rich, valuable, and happy lives despite not being as lovely as the dawn.

And (2) I was also deeply annoyed that Lewis used the Queen's ugliness as both a symbol of her fallen soul *and* as the cause of her bitterness -- that is, it is her ugliness that makes her betray her sister: because she envies and hates her sister's beauty. So ugly women, you see, are wicked women. Only the beautiful woman is a good woman.

So I suppose what I mean is not that I dislike Lewis making an ugly woman his main character; I dislike what he then does with that main character.

#147 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 11:35 PM:

I can't swear there won't be--Digger's voice is easily reached in my head!--but I don't think I'd be up for drawing it! But a story or two might yet wander into open air, a few years down the line.

#148 ::: Kelly Jennings ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 11:37 PM:

Oh, and I love E. Nesbit! Has anyone here read the The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt, which is (more or less) a novelization of her life?

I read it when it first came out & remember loving it to bits.

#149 ::: Grace Seybold ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 11:42 PM:

Elliott Mason @114: Thank you! I guess I know what I'm doing with my evenings for the forseeable future...

#150 ::: Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2015, 11:48 PM:

#21 and elsewhere: I also think that in Citizen Of The Galaxy, Thorby is gay, although not quite directly referenced.

As for the Puppening, my latest note on the issue is here: Hugo Awards, No Awards, and Network Events.

#151 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 12:02 AM:

cn, #96: And he doesn't stop to consider the possibility that they also liked his work, just not enough to beat out the competition.

Very true. "It's a honor just to be nominated" may be a cliche, but it's also -- objectively speaking -- a true statement. Getting to the shortlist in the first place means that a number of people saw something to like in what you did.

But I still think the deepest root of this is the inability to recognize "the difference between a policy that the Lord Chancellor didn't like and a policy that was bad" (to quote from The Goblin Emperor). That mileage varies, and taste is not a universal, and if you personally don't like something that made the ballot this year, that doesn't mean it's inherently badly written.

Grace, #111: I don't know if it's movie-canon or fanon, but there's a generally-accepted view that the reason for Kili's beard being short in the Hobbit movies is to keep it out of his bowstring.

UrsulaV, #134: Oh, thank you! I had wondered what happened when she finally got home again, and it's good to have even that brief summary.

Alex, #144: OTOH, your idea sounds like a seed for Digger: The Next Generation, when some of the folks who don't quite fit into wombat society (and you can't tell me there aren't any!), having been inspired by her stories, put their heads together and figure out where they need to go to hook up with Trader Manuel (or, possibly, his successor) and head out for an Adventure and the hope of a life that feels less stifling.

#152 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 12:27 AM:

Seconding all the thanks to Ursula V, in part for Puddleglum's further adventures, but especially for the latest news on Digger. One does worry about friends when one doesn't hear from them for a long time, however sensible one knows them to be.

#153 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 12:45 AM:

I have sent the Digger sequelum to my friend Hank Graham, who got me into Digger in the first place. I expect he'll be pleased. Full reference to here given with the sending.

#154 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 01:01 AM:

dotless ı @77: I haven't read Card's book about how to write, myself; I am told by sources that I consider reliable that in it he recommends torture of children or children-equivalents as a method of engaging the reader's sympathy. It was one of the things that soured me on his work, learning that he was consciously manipulating his readers' emotions in that way.

#155 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 01:23 AM:

Peace: There's a non-Puppies entry for novelette, Thomas Olde Heuvelt's The Day the World Turned Upside Down. It's very much worth your time, and would be on a roster of also good entries.

#156 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 01:47 AM:

Tom Whitmore @138: Which Los Altos public library? If you mean the one in Long Beach, CA, it was a principal haunt of my childhood. (If you mean one in actual Los Altos, I've probably traipsed through there a time or two as an adult.)

#157 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 01:55 AM:

I've definitely read at least one of OSC's books on writing, about ten or eleven years ago now. David Goldfarb @154 - I don't remember an emphasis on child torture (it could be that I was reading a different book) but I do remember being gravely advised never to rely on coffee when writing, which I felt was a... peculiar way of assuming everyone else must be a Mormon too.

#158 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 03:05 AM:

Alex, #144: OTOH, your idea sounds like a seed for Digger: The Next Generation, when some of the folks who don't quite fit into wombat society (and you can't tell me there aren't any!), having been inspired by her stories... head out for an Adventure and the hope of a life that feels less stifling.

That was pretty much the backstory for a dungeon I ran which was set in Rath 100 years after Digger and Ed defeated Sweet Grass Voice. The wombats had come to Rath, dug marvelous root cellars for everyone, paved the streets with cobblestones, and made numerous civic improvements. The wonderful moment for me in running the dungeon was when I introduced the Wombat power couple who were essential to the plot. His name was "Pebbles Down the Mineshaft" and of course everyone just called him "Pebbles."

After introducing him I waited a couple hours for the players to get used to this particular NPC and had Pebbles bring the player characters to meet his girlfriend, "She's named 'Whispers of the Morning Birdsong,'" Pebbles told the party, "but when my little brother learned that she was an explosives expert he started calling her "Blam Blam" and well... it just sort of stuck."

The horror on the player's faces was a true delight to my jaded and evil eyes.

#159 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 03:34 AM:

Alex R. @158

Someday I hope there is a Making Light thread that is entirely for the purpose of telling shaggy-dog GMing stories. (Shaggy shoggoth stories?) I have one I'm dreadfully proud of, but more than that, I want to hear everyone else's.

#160 ::: Megpie71 ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 04:52 AM:

Alex R @21 - Andrew Libby is mentioned as having become female in The Number of the Beast (aka "that one where he dusts off Lazarus Long again"). It's also implied at the same time that he was also bisexual (in that he fathered children - so was therefore capable of performing sexually with a female partner; but had a romantic crush on Lazarus Long at the same time). But then, in Time Enough For Love it's implied bisexuality (or possibly polysexuality) and polyamourous relationships are highly normalised among the Howard Families human population of Tellus Secundus anyway (one tall character and one shorter character are somewhat surprised to discover the respective biological configurations of their opposite numbers - the tall one is configured female, the short one male - and since I can't for the life of me remember their names, that's the best you're getting).

#161 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 06:59 AM:

Megpie, 160: They picked Ishtar and Galahad as their pseuds for their first night o' lovin', then decided to change their wallet names to match.

I cannot believe I still remember that.

#162 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 08:07 AM:

Megpie71 #160: Yes, in Time Enough it's explicitly noted that Lazarus is not "sexually polymorphous", which the speaker seems to consider normal. (The reference is to the Freudian concept of polymorphous perversity, where "perversity" is a term of art.)

Note, however, that Libby far predates the Tellus-Sucundus era -- ISTR he was transplanted via time-travel, rather than living through the interim like Lazarus.

#163 ::: Edmund Schweppe ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 09:26 AM:

UrsulaV @121, 134: Good news about Digger and a great Puddleglum fanfic? Thank you!

#164 ::: Danny Sichel ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 09:36 AM:

@155 - "The Day the World Turned Upside-Down" bothers me for a variety of reasons, one of which is that it seems to be predicated on a flat-earth geocentric universe. I understand and appreciate the emotional content, the symbolism, etc, but... there's so many things wrong, the gravitational reorientation is portrayed so inconsistently. Part of my brain wants to say "aww, that's so sad", but another part is saying "wait, if (X), then shouldn't there also be (Y), but not (Z)?"

Also he describes the goldfish as having eyelids.

#165 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 10:21 AM:

*grin* I am still so thrilled that people are setting campaigns in Rath!

I have no doubt that wombats would arrive, once Digger had updated the various maps and geological surveys so that they knew where they were going. They would probably show up armed with letters of introduction, and being wombats, be drilled in the local etiquette as well. It would be a courteous invasion.

#166 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 10:24 AM:

Danny Sichel, #164:
"The gravitational reorientation is portrayed so inconsistently."
"Also he describes the goldfish as having eyelids."

Also, he describes the goldfish as surviving in a bottle of 7-Up.

Also, the woman in the story is nothing more than a cypher for what he thinks and wants and how awful it is that he's being deprived of this, rather than being a person in her own right.

I really appreciate your saying this. I was wondering if I was the only one who didn't think this story was up to snuff.

I've really liked the two previous stories I've read by him. I thought for sure I'd really love this one, too. Instead, between the atrocities wrought upon physics far beyond my usually incredibly generous tendency to willing suspension of disbelief, and the extremely unlikeable main character, I really did not enjoy it. I'm pretty sure those were not the reactions he was hoping to inspire in the reader.

(I later read a review which expressed my general feelings pretty thoroughly.)

#167 ::: Mercy ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 10:32 AM:

JJ @166, you're not alone. I spent quite a lot of time today trying to figure out how to say what bothered me the most about that story (basically, what you said about the woman in the story and how the narrator treats her) without getting too spoilery. I was left with a very ugh feeling about it.

#168 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 10:34 AM:

JJ@66: The story is best taken as a hallucination or a dream sequence: in addition to everything else, pools of water continue to exist on the earth's surface, and the atmosphere remains breathable.

I wanted to like the story, especially as it was the only non-Puppy one in the category, but I couldn't.

#169 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 10:40 AM:

Danny Sichel #164: "The Day the World Turned Upside-Down" bothers me for a variety of reasons, one of which is that it seems to be predicated on a flat-earth geocentric universe. ... there's so many things wrong, the gravitational reorientation is portrayed so inconsistently.

Yeah -- my first thought was "how in hell are the buildings keeping their structural integrity?" My second, when he looked outside and saw a "lawn" was "why is the dirt staying put"? (And then there's the earth itself....) And yeah, the goldfish in 7-up bothered me too. Didn't finish, and not inclined to go back.

#170 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 10:52 AM:

UrsulaV@121, 134: Thank you so much for both of these. It's always nice to find out what old friends have gotten up to.

David Goldfarb@154: I haven't read that, but I can well believe it. I think the Unaccompanied Sonata... collection was my first conscious experience of a book that I found rewarding but that clearly required a break between rereadings.

James@113: You can add me on the "unaware" side for Christian elements of Narnia. Most Christian references in my childhood just sort of rolled off as one more odd thing I didn't understand, in the same class as whatever Linus does at the end of A Charlie Brown Christmas. I think I can attribute my conscious awareness of Christian symbolism—and certainly my interest in it—to Robertson Davies' Deptford trilogy, which I probably read in my late teens.

Hmm. I think Davies might have just jumped to the top of my re-read list. It's been too long since I visited that old friend.

#171 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 11:55 AM:

Dave #105- I'm re-reading Lewis' space trilogy just now, first time in 20 or so years. (And second reading ever)
I'd agree that they contain constructed scenarios, but that is entirely the point, and no worse than many other stories at the time or indeed now.
Moreover the descriptions of Mars and Venus were lush and drew me in, and I found that I had remembered the feeling of the places more than the precise language used. In fact that is one thing I enjoyed about them, the descriptions kept me reading, as compared to many modern authors who do as much describing as Lewis yet write poorly and thus I get bored. And I did feel that the other planets were places to be explored.

The actual issue I am finding today is that the entire setup of the books is fighting a gigantic enemy that is partly made of straw. His charicatures of scientism and the modern spirit are important to the story, but I think they are simply not complex enough and not given a fair fight, i.e. he's picked the silliest far out ideas and opposed them to rational central ideas; obviously in that case the stuff associated with science and modernity comes off worse, like a bug in a milSF book.
Of course when I read them first aged 19 or so, I didn't understand where he was coming from and what he was arguing against, but since then I've read a lot more about many topics and genres and ideas etc.

#172 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 12:14 PM:

#121 ::: UrsulaV

Thank you very much.

#166 ::: JJ

Your link doesn't work (bad gateway) which somehow seems appropriate.

When I started the "The Day the World Turned Upside Down", I was thinking "Goody, a non-puppy story!". Not long after, I was hating the story-- possibly more than it deserved because of the disappointment.

I thought New Wave (in the sense of arbitrary disaster and highly pessimistic outlook) was dead. Not dead enough. Now I suspect there's a secret cabal of New Wave fans conspiring to get their picks onto the ballot..

To my mind, the point of him trying to rescue a goldfish for a woman who isn't interested in him is precisely to have a world in which any pretense of heroism is ridiculous. In other words, I think the author was looking for an effect that I received, it's just an effect I really don't like.

For a somewhat recent New Wave (in my sense of the word) story which I thought was relatively decent, I recommend "Mine the Primes" by Julian Todd. In theory, it's here, but in the spirit of New Wave, the link is broken.

However, I've contacted Todd (whose ScraperWikilooks very interesting about the link.

If you'd like a better arbitrary disaster story, check out The Calf by Vajra Chandrasekera.

#173 ::: Danny Sichel ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 12:37 PM:

@169 - my first thought was "how in hell are the buildings keeping their structural integrity?" My second, when he looked outside and saw a "lawn" was "why is the dirt staying put"? (And then there's the earth itself....)

Exactly. Upside-down relative to what?

And the bit with the hang-glider -- how would that work here? "Thermal holds the wing up. (...) Warm air rises up and all that shit. Now that everything’s upside-down, it’s all thermal." That's not how it works!

(plus, the narrator's an asshole to his ex-girlfriend.)

#174 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 12:49 PM:

AJ Luxton @156: The actual one in Los Altos, I'm afraid (and that was the old one on State Street, not the new building over on San Antonio which is much larger and less intimate).

#175 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 12:55 PM:

dotless @ #170: Hmm. I think Davies might have just jumped to the top of my re-read list. It's been too long since I visited that old friend.

I've considered re-reading Davies ever since I noticed that he's one of the few authors I've read that doesn't have fanfic, and wondered if it's because he's fallen out of fashion or if his world is already weird enough. I'm nervous the Suck Fairy will have visited, however.

#176 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 12:59 PM:

UrsulaV @ 121, 134 Yay! :-)

General comments recent in the thread:

_The Day The World Turned Upside Down_ was also not to my taste. Now, _Dinosaur_ and _Water_ have proved to me that if I love the story enough I will overlook the fact that its science is tenuous, or its fantastical nature limited, but I don't love *this* story that much.

In a regular year it would probably go to the bottom of my list, but I wouldn't necessarily put it below No Award. But in a regular year, if it wound up winning, I would feel like it had competed against a large group of worthy stories and the Hugo Voters Had Spoken. This year is complicated, but the short version is I wouldn't feel that way about it.

#177 ::: Doctor Science ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 01:16 PM:

Kelly @146:

I read it almost the opposite to you. Lewis didn't *make* the character "wicked", he started with a character who was supposed to be wicked and showed how she was human.

Lewis was writing fanfic, based on Cupid/Psyche (and any number of other myths & fairy tales). He asks the question, "why is the ugly sister always the bad one, and the beautiful sister the good one? How is that fair and right?"

Growing up (I was born in the mid-50s, so I'm probably a generation older than you) I felt this question *very* strongly and personally. It was a revelation to me to see a man who felt it, too.

What Till We Have Faces shows, for me, is Lewis saying that where men have the power and the Male Gaze is in fact a determining factor in women's lives -- a situation that seemed to me, as a child in the 60s, an accurate description of reality, not to mention accurate for historical reality -- ugly women become non-persons, and being a non-person is *bad* for people.

He's saying, suffering doesn't "ennoble" people, it doesn't make people better -- it *hurts*, and it keeps hurting, and the scars it leaves are actual impairments.

Orual isn't "wicked" (as the ugly sister is in a fairy tale or the original story), she's *hurt* and does the wrong thing in her pain. But she's also strong -- and her experience with suffering, her ability to keep going even though she's hurting, actually helps Psyche. Orual bears Psyche's pain and lightens her burden -- but Lewis doesn't show that making Orual's life all good and sweet.

#178 ::: John Fiala ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 01:42 PM:

UrsulaV @ #121 - I really enjoyed that.

(I've got to say, I really did enjoy Tom Baker playing Puddleglum in that adaptation of The Silver Chair. Of course, now I'm wishing they could do a new version with Benerdict Cumberbunny.)

#179 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 01:46 PM:

UrsuaV @ 121: Oh, thank you. Puddle glum was aways one of my favorite characters.

As a side-note, I visited one of my sisters and her rather extensive brood yesterday. One of the library books her four-year old brought to me to read to him was one of your Dragonsbreath books. It was too long to read to him, there and then, but I was able to exclaim, "I know her! Well, I haven't met her, but we've chatted online and such." Which amused and bemused my sister, so that was a good thing, too.

#180 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 01:54 PM:

Re: Lewis

I read _The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe_ when I was eight, or possibly nine. I loved it utterly. Then my parents asked me if I had understood the allegory. Which I had completely missed, and which they then belabored. (My dad was a fundamentalist minister, and they clearly thought that the allegory was the actually important part of the book.) It did not precisely ruin the book for me, but it sure made me sad. I had thought that I'd found a realm of magic free from the toxic waste that I was being raised in. (Quick note: the version of Christianity that I was raised in really was toxic waste. Which is not the same thing as saying that Christianity is toxic waste.)

I loved, and still love _Til We Have Faces_ but am utterly unable to parse it as a Christian novel. I do not see how it interacts with Christianity, and never did. I identified _hard_ with the narrator. Her horrible sister was note-perfect my own horrible sister, and I was terribly unattractive as a child. Her rage-drunk father was so very much my father. And her refusal to love the and venerate the gods who stole from her that which she loved, I so related to that, too. I have never really understood what that final chapter was about. I have never understood her sudden change of heart. Possibly I am still reading it in my adolescent head-space. But I do still read it from time to time.

#181 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 02:33 PM:

David G., #154: It's also a lazy-writing tic, in the same way as using rape to generate motivation for a female character. Which is not to say that either can't be done well, but that it won't happen when they're being used as elements in a formula.

Alex, #158: 8888888888888888888888888888888888888
(That's high praise -- it represents a handful of peanuts being thrown at the punster.)

#182 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 02:48 PM:

Two things I remember from Till We Have Faces-- it was the only book I read which simply portrayed the maltreatment of ugly women as a bad thing. I haven't seen much on the subject since, either.

Also, Oruel envies her sister for physical strength, which would seem unremarkable now, but back in the sixties when I read it, it was shocking that physical strength could simply be a good trait in a woman.

Later, I realized that Lewis didn't patronize his characters for living in the past. I think historical fiction has gotten better about that.

#183 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 02:58 PM:

Doctor Science @ #177: Orual isn't "wicked" (as the ugly sister is in a fairy tale or the original story), she's *hurt* and does the wrong thing in her pain.

I also don't see her as betraying Psyche from jealousy -- rather, she does what most people would if they found a beloved family member living in the woods, convinced they were in a palace and married to an invisible husband, and concludes that Psyche has lost her mind and needs to be saved from her delusions (I sometimes think of this as Lewis's own answer to The Problem of Susan.)

#184 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 03:15 PM:

Faint memory: As I recall, Oruel has a vision of Psyche's palace. It's sketchy, but might it have been a gothic cathedral?

#185 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 03:22 PM:

It would be a courteous invasion.

That's how I described it. The deal was essentially "You give us some land for our warren and we'll dig everyone a nice root cellar and improve the roads."

#186 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 03:37 PM:

@ 179 Lydy -- Oh, hey, cool! Always nice to hear about those books out in the wild!

#187 ::: Tony Zbaraschuk ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 03:38 PM:

UrsulaV @121, @134: loved both of those! Puddleglum in heaven, and Digger in employment.

One of the things to keep in mind about Orual is that she's somewhat unreliable as a narrator, and the final chapter of [i]Till We Have Faces[/i] is the mask coming off and the self-delusion being revealed.

#188 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 04:51 PM:

Chiming in to say that I completely wedged and stopped reading a few pages into _The Day The World Turned Upside Down_, even accepting it's not trying to be "realistic" spec fic, mainly due to the apparent callousness and self-centered unlikeability of the narrator as he appears thus far. I'm going to force myself to go back and finish it, but unless it completely changes my opinion about it on a second try, I'm really stuck for how to vote on this one.

On the one hand, non-slate entry, so yay? Maybe? On the other hand, I read at least two novelettes last year which totally grabbed me, and which I think were vastly more deserving and aren't on the ballot, 'Litany of Earth' and 'The Devil in America'. I'm not sure how to factor that in, but it suggests to me that maybe I should still consider it below "No Award", and I feel disappointed about that.

I'm hoping I'll change my opinion if I give it another chance.

#189 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 05:11 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz, #172

Apologies for the bad link in my comment at #166. I've just tried it again and got "Bad Gateway" twice and the actual webpage twice. So it may be that the author's web host has been overloaded.

The Google cache of the page is here.

And my thanks to all those above in the thread who have also offered their perspectives on the story.

#190 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 05:22 PM:

If that's how you feel, put it below 'no award'. (Some things get on the ballot for reasons that don't seem to involve actual quality, IMO.)

#191 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 05:42 PM:

I have been reading nominated works and feel compelled to say the following (and I guess it means I *do* do poetry after all:

Behold the works of John C. Wright,
Vintage-dyed like William Morris,
Talking animals as a chorus,
A sort of C. S. Lewis "Lite".

#192 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 07:20 PM:

Peace Is My Middle Name @ 191

Alas the work of John C. Wright
In my opinion, I would say
Can't really be described as "light"
While treating women in that way.

As symbols of such decadence
We put the "ill" in "ill-repute"
The sentence that derives from thence:
Disease--incurable, to boot!

The only female is the Cat;
Disloyalty's own Avatar,
We're told; it is precisely that
That lets her play her role so far.

And why this god so brusque and cruel
That any slow to grasp his suit,
The lame, the held, the simple fool--
Is punished to remain a brute?

And this is why I would contest
That your description should prevail.
Not light, but darkness, his bequest;
Not light, but heavy, is his tale!

#193 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 07:22 PM:

Peace Is My Middle Name @191

Eep! Please note that this is not intended as criticism of your fine poem! I should have put that in!

#194 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 07:48 PM:

Peace, Cat - I love your posts *so* much.

#195 ::: Greg M. ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 08:18 PM:

Hooray for Edward Eager, one of those authors who mastered the art of making the sequel as good as the original (Magic by the Lake for Half Magic, The Time Garden for Knight's Castle, and why oh why does Seven-Day Magic not have a sequel? Why did Eager write a sequel for that super-annoying 'magic or not' book but not Seven-Day Magic?) I need access to Lucien's library, stat.

The Hugo conspiracy has access, right?

#196 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 08:24 PM:

Greg M. #195: I need access to Lucien's library, stat. The Hugo conspiracy has access, right?

Well, they certainly put a lot of stuff in...

#197 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 08:55 PM:

beth @ 58: thank you for the hard info; it's fascinating. I'll have to reread SftD sometime.

Neil W @ 76: the question with Seanan McGuire is "which one?" A good friend ~30 years younger than I loves the Grant books and hates everything else; I find the Grant books facile if not pandering, the InCryptid books good fun, the October Daye books massively improved over time, and Sparrow Hill Road a very good book.

Tom W @ 93: there was a panel on Nesbit at WFC last year, but it was somewhere between inaudible and incoherent so I don't know whether they suggested that her children's experiences tend to be just too precious for modern audiences. I remember them fondly from ~1964, when that wasn't such a failing (remembering what was available in TV and contemporary fiction) and haven't had the nerve to revisit -- although I thought the 2004 movie of Five Children and It wasn't bad.

HelenS @ 102: that sounds uncharacteristic for Asimov sober (and he didn't drink). Talked a lewd line, but AFAIK didn't grab women who didn't grab him first.

more applause for UrsulaV @ 121 -- catches the spirit wonderfully.

Glenn Hauman @ 150: Evidence? He's not interested in the rich girl they throw at him in part 4/4, but that's hardly gay; in some ways he's still in the pre-girl stage (which still existed when this was written) -- more fascinated by tech, rather like the poet ancestor in Brunner's Timescoop. Considering a nasty remark in Stranger, I think RAH may have unlearned homophobia rather later in life.

I've been rethinking the question of relative horrors, especially after rereading the referenced Stross story. ISTM we may have gone a bit overboard; HPL may have assumed the reader his own quivering fear of anything the least bit strange, but he could simply have failed at description. I'm thinking about Nourse's The World Between and Del Rey's Pstalemate, in which people confronted sufficiently closely with the sufficiently incomprehensible lose their minds (leaving aside tooled malevolent cases like Varley's "Press Enter" or Langford's basilisks); would today's horrors really insulate people?

#198 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 09:01 PM:

There are some rather nasty stories about Asimov at cons re what would now be classified as sexual assault, including at least one of abetting by other fans.

#199 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 09:18 PM:

Cat @192:

Oh, lovely!

I'm not very good at poetry, really. Mine is a pale imitation of the genius original, published anonymously in London some time in the 1880s, really hilarious if you know anything at all about the Pre-Raphaelites and Morris' writings and arts and craftsworks:

Behold the works of William Morris,
Epics, and here and there wall-papery,
Mild, mooney, melancholy vapoury
A sort of Chaucer *minus* Horace.

Spun out like those of William Loris,
Who wrote of amorous red-tapery,
Behold the works of William Morris,
Epics, and here and there wall-papery!

Long ladies, knights, and earls and choris-
ters in the most appropriate drapery,
Samite and silk and spotless napery,
Sunflowers and apple blossoms and orris,
Behold the works of William Morris!


I have heard differently re: Asimov. :/

#200 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 09:43 PM:

Asimov himself mentioned in one of his columns the joy with which he'd come up behind "a girl" and snap her bra elastic.

#201 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 11:18 PM:

Someone, in college, mentioned the heavy-handed Christianity in Narnia and my reaction was a Willowism* : "Oh, THAT's what was up with all the parts that didn't make a damn bit of sense!"

* When Buffy mentions "I Touch Myself" and says "Of course, I had no idea what it was about", and Willow goes all wide-eyed and goes "Oh, THAT'S what it's about!"

#202 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 11:41 PM:

Not being interested in one specific young woman isn't evidence of anything about Thorby's sexual orientation.

#203 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2015, 11:51 PM:

HelenS @ 102: that sounds uncharacteristic for Asimov sober (and he didn't drink). Talked a lewd line, but AFAIK didn't grab women who didn't grab him first.

Isaac Asimov was very special.

#204 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 12:08 AM:

CHip #197: As noted above, in our own world we have a lot of situations that tend to break people. War is top of the list, and I'm not so sure it's a matter of "modern warfare", certainly not more "modern" than the Civil War. Stories about soldiers coming back broken go a ways back, but I'm not sure how far.

#205 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 12:23 AM:

This is totally off-topic, but I want to go roll in these papers - which include the rough draft for 2001 - for a week or two!

#206 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 12:45 AM:

Huh. I wonder if she could have mixed up Heinlein and some other well-known name (such as Asimov).

It's possible. She told me the story once, almost 4 decades ago, so it could have been someone else. OF course, when I think about a "short" science fiction writer Ellison is the first name that comes to mind, and we did live near Los Angeles. Was Ellison grabby?

#207 ::: Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 01:05 AM:

#197: Just the lack of interest in the girl(s), almost pointedly so. It's also been a while since I read it, but I remember looking back at it and going "hmm."

There are a few other references: "Do your best and one day you'll marry one of those nice girls. You'll be happy." The prophecy did not cheer Thorby.


"Thor, you know Daddy has been throwing me at you?"
"I don't see how you could have missed it, unless you are utterly-- but then, perhaps you are. Just take it as true."

It's certainly a tricky call; being difficult to even obliquely hint at it-- if you couldn't even mention black protagonists when you obviously hve black people in the world, mentioning gays in any context would be impossible.

#208 ::: kate ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 01:30 AM:

Gosh. Both poetry and mini-fic! Nifty.

I read Narnia in the then-correct order (with Lion first and Magician's Nephew 6th), and I really don't remember when I read the Last Battle. I think I was older than when I read LWW.

In any case, at some point in there, my folks told me bits of the series were allegorically Christian, but didn't sit down and re-read them with me or anything. As I remember it, I noticed the Lamb Thing in Dawn Treader, and some of the various allusions in The Last Battle, but I really had only a very dim understanding of what TLB was trying to do.

Once I gained some more understanding of various religious things, via both Unitarian-Universalist church school, and my high school's Bible-as-history-and-literature-and-interesting-myth half-credit class, I re-read things with a bit more understanding of the Christian aspects, but it didn't bother me that I hadn't noticed before, except to go "Whurp!" at the heavy allusions in LWW.

Basically, I could see them as fantasy novels, and as fantasy novels with religion attached, and neither of them bothered me. It helps I got a "If you believe in some divine being/entity/presence wholeheartedly, then whatever God is is content with you, even if it is not the Christian interpretation of God" kind of message from TLB (in my teens), which is really not what Lewis was aiming for. But tough noogies to Lewis, the author is dead, and I am a birthright UU.

So my point is: Don't think I felt betrayed. Just interested in the layers.

#209 ::: Tamlyn ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 02:03 AM:

Narnia: The Last Battle was obvious to me, but if I noticed the Christian elements before that, I chose to ignore them. The Horse and His Boy was always one of my favourite, and the treatment of Susan still makes me angry.

I've been trying to read the Jim Butcher books to catch up in time for Skin Game since I've only read number one previously. I've been on number two for a few weeks now and have ended up reading nothing instead. I feel bad because I should like it - most my reading last year was UF. I don't know. I finally put it aside and picked up Ancillary Justice. Whatever else comes from the Hugos, I am very glad it introduced me to the book. I don't have deep thoughts about it beyond 'likelike' but that's okay. I'm devouring it :)

#210 ::: MaxL ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 03:16 AM:

Alex R @ 206,

Ellison groped Willis on stage. Willis' position, as relayed by third parties to PNH, was that "Ellison has done worse and she can handle him"

So, yes.

#211 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 03:43 AM:

This is from the trade paperback (2012) edition of Foundation's Friends, which included memories of Isaac Asimov. These are things which people who liked Asimov were willing to say about him in a tribute volume.

[Poul Anderson]: "... he flirted outrageously with every attractive woman, though if she gave signs of being interested in going further, he'd back off saying "I'm all talk, all talk.""

This may have shifted latter, or less public discussions sometimes went differently. I was on a car trip (probably in the late seventies or early eighties) with a woman who was very pleased to spend some private time with Asimov. In any case, this one isn't too awful, though there may have been only one non-obvious way to get him to back off.

[Stanley Schmidt] ...and I had just gotten married to an attractive young lady who happened to also be an electronics engineer. Isaac was always willing to chat with attractive young ladies who happened to be electronic engineers, and he greeted her in a way which startled her considerably and which really ought not be described in detail. I had to explain to her that world famous science fiction authors often did things like that and they weren't to be taken seriously. She was amused...I think.

[George Zebrowski] Later that evening, I came into a party just in time to see Isaac pull Pamela Sargant, then and now the love of my life, down on his left knee. He cupped her left breast and watched my consternation with glee. I promptly sat down on his left knee and he instantly let us both go!

#212 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 03:49 AM:

MaxL@210: She did also, onstage at the closing ceremonies, express a wish that Ellison "keep his fucking hands off me!"

#213 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 05:35 AM:

Glenn Hauman @207 - Not Heinlein, not even SF, but similar era: I had a similar response re-reading Ellen Raskin's 1979 YA novel The Westing Game recently. Two female characters are partnered together by the game...and they dress alike at a social event, and a character's mother makes a pointed comment about it, and although they aren't the only characters partnered by the game the words "her partner" are used repeatedly concerning them in the narrative, in a sense that seems very pointed. I was struck by the sheer amount of plausible deniability, this year, and sympathetic to the possibility that the author had something to convey without ever quite stepping over the line between unspoken and spoken.

#214 ::: David Langford ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 05:57 AM:

#170, #175: I still love Robertson Davies and wish I had time for a rereading binge.

#215 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 08:23 AM:

I recently did reread a chunk of Robertson Davies, and I still like his writing a lot. (For whatever that's worth - I am just a small-f fan, still boggling at receiving my first ever Hugo voting number in the email last night.)

#216 ::: James Harvey ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 09:02 AM:

James @113

there's tons of testimony, from the full range of positions from atheist to devout Christian, that there is no evident Christianity in the Narnia books when read as a child. It's only later, after one knows more about Christianity, that the references become evident. They aren't evangelizing or apologetic in nature, although they reflect Lewis's beliefs regarding the underlying structure of the universe.


If that is true, I am amazed. I read the Narnia books aged 11, at that time as a practicing and believing Christian child. At that age:

1) I was perfectly aware that Aslan's sacrifice on the stone table was very clearly an analogue of Christ's sacrifice on the cross. This didn't bother me.

2) It was obvious to me that Aslan turning into a lamb at the end of (I think) Voyage of the Dawn Treader was an unbelievably crass and obvious piece of imagery, which, even to a believing kid from a highly Christian household, felt so clunky that I thought it spoiled the story. The feeling was so strong that I remember it to this day.

Either a) I was a much more perspicacious child than everyone else or b) I'm not sure about the "tons of testimony". And I don't really buy a) as an explanation since everyone else's kids seem much brighter than me :-)

#217 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 09:07 AM:

James Harvey @216, I also thought the "Aslan is Jesus" thing was extremely obvious when I read the books as a kid (I don't know how old I was, but I have clear memories of reading them at my grandparents' farm, so I wouldn't have been more than 9 or maybe 10), both in TLTW&TW and Dawn Treader (the lamb part). I have no doubt that some raised-Christian kids missed it, but it's far from universal to do so.

#218 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 09:23 AM:

James Harvey: try c) You read the books at a older age.

I read the Narnia books at about 6 years old, not 11. I also did grow up in a household which was aware of Frazier as well as the creeds, though, so: Attis, Osiris, Aslan made a perfectly reasonable sequence.

By 11 I was certainly aware of the Christian elements in the Narnia books, but by then I'd also read the space trilogy and been exposed to some of his earlier apologetics (the BBC lectures which eventually got collected into Mere Christianity).

(As far as Christianity went, my father was a United Church minister when I was 6: by the time I was 11, he was teaching Philosophy.)

#219 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 10:03 AM:

James @218, that's certainly plausible, but then maybe

there's tons of testimony, from the full range of positions from atheist to devout Christian, that there is no evident Christianity in the Narnia books when read as a child.

needs clarification that you're talking about reading them before the age of seven, since nine or ten is "a child" by any reasonable definition.

#220 ::: Pfusand ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 10:29 AM:

James @ 218 Nit alert!

"...a household which was aware of Frazier..." That's spelled "Frazer" which caught me once.

#221 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 11:05 AM:

Over the past twenty or so years of seeing this pop up in various online fora, there are a lot of people for whom the Christian element was invisible. That doesn't mean that there weren't (as there are) those to whom it was visible as well.

I was a little startled by the experiences some of the discussion above recounts of children whose parents / teachers expressly pointed out the parallels, and to push them rather than inoculate against them; I suppose I should have expected that, given the position that Lewis now holds in American Evangelical Christianity, but it hadn't occurred to me.

(Digression: For one thing, it tends to get it wrong: Narnia is not an allegory in any way, Lewis knew allegory better than anyone else and when he wrote allegory it looked like Pilrim's Regress, argumentum ad nauseam on Usenet, reference to Dorothy Heydt's regular responses to it, etc., etc.).

Setting aside those cases, it's certainly not surprising that some (older) children would recognize the references, especially if they were heavily conversant with the New Testament: aside from the dying god thing, which is the least likely direct reference given Lewis' own background, the most likely being the Lamb / dinner of fish bit in DT, the reference to "great bridge builder" in the same chapter. elements of the creation sequence in MN, and even more elements in the ending of LB.

What I find more interesting is not the presence of a Christian structure in Lewis' imagined universes (Narnia and Interplanetary Trilogy), but a discussion of his reasons for it.

I do think that OOTSP and ff. are "message fiction", but in the case of OOTSP and THS he was trying to make arguments which he would have said were independent of, though compatible with Christianity: the views represented by Weston in the former -- which were more popular and less extreme than we might think now, when they're at best part of a history of dead ideas -- and those represented by Bracton College in the latter (and which Lewis addressed directly in The Abolition of Man). It's hard to read Perelandra as anything but an explicitly Christian fantasia on the theme of the Fall.

In the Narnia books, by contrast, I would argue that once he started to think about the jumble that he'd thrown together in TLTWATW (and it was a jumble: Aslan got stuck in because of his dreams of a lion, and Tumnus library titles deserved the snort that Tolkien gave them for the inconsistent world-building they reflected) his own way of thinking about the world imposed an identification between Aslan and the second person of the Trinity, and the Emperor-over-Sea and the first, and an ultimate explanation of the relationship between Narnia and our world which integrated them in a meta-universal structure also subject to Aslan (the wood between the worlds (which the only writer I know of to tackle subsequently has been Lev Grossman)). To the degree that the Narnia books are designed to be didactic, it's in terms of showing good and bad moral choices (following his own views). In this I think he's less attractive than Nesbit, where her children's bad choices are more bad sitauationally than ethically.

It's during the same period as the Narnia books, in 1956, that he writes Till We Have Faces, which does it rather better: he manages, for once, to write a book about a world compatible with his understanding of Christianity and the numinous without making it explicitly Christian, and he manages to do so by having Apuleius to give him cover.

#222 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 11:55 AM:

David Harmon @ #204 :Stories about soldiers coming back broken go a ways back, but I'm not sure how far.
Very far.

A.J. Luxton @ #213: I had a similar response re-reading Ellen Raskin's 1979 YA novel The Westing Game recently. Two female characters are partnered together by the game...

Now I feel ridiculous for never having noticed that. I don't recall how their stories end, but they likely would be better off with each other than without (one's a wallflower drifting into Munchausen Syndrome, the other has been pushed by her social-climbing mother into an engagement she doesn't really want, and iirc is secretly rather pleased when an accident slightly dents her conventional good looks.)

#223 ::: Clarentine ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 12:23 PM:

Beth @58 - I read all of the Ender books, from Ender's Game through Speaker for the Dead, in one long breath one summer as a teen. I enjoyed EG, but it was SftD that made me stop and think. It was certainly the first time I'd encountered a truly alien culture I could understand. I'm glad OSC got the chance to work through the entire sequence.

#224 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 12:41 PM:

On Narnia: As a pre-teen child in a Catholic family, I somehow missed the crucifixion analog in tLtW&tW. But Aslan turning into a Lamb at the end of VotDT was pretty clear to me. It was also so clunky and unnecessary to the story that I decided I could ignore it. Later I would defend the series as "It's totally about Christianity, but with the exception of the Lamb thing, it works pretty well as part of the story. Also it's a Christianity in which you don't go to hell for calling God by the wrong name, as long as you're being a good person, so I'm cool with it."

I don't know how I reconciled his treatment of Susan or even Jill Pole to my reaction of "I'm cool with it." Maybe it was so normalized to me in a world of "pretty good for a girl" and "you throw like a girl" that it didn't stand out.

UrsulaV, your Puddleglum ficlet made me so happy. It felt so true that for a moment I thought it was actually an excerpt from TLB that I'd missed.

On Nesbit: Around the same age -- so, mid-to-late '80s -- someone gave me a paperback of The Book of Dragons. It was possibly a Penguin edition? Slim, with a red-bordered cover? In any case, Nesbit was definitely in print in the US around that time.

At the time I bounced off of it, hard. The narrative voice was just too "precious" for me at the time, I thing. But at the same time certain images stuck with me--the father tweezering a minuscule dragon out of his daughter's eye, or the children on the way to the north pole nudging each other and saying, "Ask him what it's for...".

About 20 years later I stumbled across OMG ALL THE NESBIT! on Project Gutenberg and fell in love with her sly humor. But even now I can get fed up with the ones where the five children spend a huge amount of on-screen time just bickering. It would work on film, like it does in The Goonies (my go-to example of a movie that gets the "kids bickering" dynamic exactly right), but on paper it tires me out sometimes.

On "The Day the World Turned Upside Down" -- I am so glad I'm not the only one who absolutely hated the narrator. I was cheering for the ex-girlfriend, and so pissed off at the narrator who was all, "Look, I did a heroic thing for you! What do you mean we're still broken up? You owe me us getting back together? OMG, you're actually sleeping with SOMEONE ELSE? After breaking up with me? YOU HOOR." Oy.

On the other hand, the details of the catastrophe hit me in my magic realism spot, so I was ok with the science fails. I love the whole ladder to the stars thing, and the exception made for water. All in all, a gorgeously menacing dreamlike backdrop which was tragically wasted on the obnoxious Nice Guy[tm] story.

(I also found myself uneasily noticing some similarities between it and a published story of my own, which shared the a title of the "The Day the [Catastrophe Happened]" structure and the sub-sub-genre of "Chaos as backdrop for the break-up blues in semi-epistolary POV." It made me wonder if my narrator is also an insufferable Nice Guy[tm]. If so, in my case at least there are less than a thousand words to suffer him in.)

#225 ::: rcade ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 01:15 PM:

A.J. Luxton @ 213:

Which two characters in The Westing Game are hinting at a lesbian relationship? I'm a huge fan of Ellen Raskin's work who reread that book a few years ago and that subtext must have zoomed by me too.

Raskin was a brilliant author who died in her fifties and ought to my thinking be better remembered today. I devoured her books as a child and can believe she would've been ahead of her time in a positive portrayal of gays.

#226 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 01:20 PM:

Does Lewis get any points for (as I recall) every time one of the boys in Narnia says "you sound just like a girl", the boy is wrong and the girl is right? As I recall, Lucy is the mystic who has a hard time getting other people to listen.

#227 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 01:26 PM:

On Narnia: I also did not realise the Narnia books were Christian allegories until I was about fourteen, even The Last Battle. I think I was probably seven when I read them initially, and at that point the only stories I knew from the Bible were the Christmas story and Noah's ark*, so possibly I'd then been reading them as the same books I thought they were and not looking for anything else? I'd been reading Greek myths a lot when I was around ten, and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader** seemed more Odyssey to me in theme, what with the charismatic sea captain, loyal crew, and various islands containing dangerous and wonderful things. The Island Where Dreams Come True... shudder.

And, once I'd read Tennyson's "Ulysses", it reminded me a lot of Reepicheep. (Come, my friends, 'tis not too late to seek a better world!)

Once someone actually pointed out the allegorical nature of the books to me (or I read about it, can't remember which), it was about as subtle as an anvil to the head. But then, at that point, I'd been reading about various religions and so had a much better frame of reference to notice things.

*Which more than anything I found really horrifying as a child. And now, for that matter.
**And Eustace is a perfectly sensible kid. If I found myself suddenly in a strange country, surrounded by strange people I didn't know, with cousins who didn't like me much, I'd be pretty inclined to clam up and demand to be taken home as well.

#228 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 02:00 PM:

I was ten when I first read the Narnia books. (Starting with A Horse and His Boy, because I thought it was a horse book; I was way into horse books at the time.) I'm not entirely sure now if I noticed on first reading that Aslan's death in TLTWATW paralleled the crucifixion; if not, I definitely noticed it for myself on subsequent readings. However, I totally missed that the turning-into-a-lamb bit in Dawn Treader was another Christian reference. It's obvious in retrospect, but I was surprised when it was pointed out to me as an adult.

(I grew up in a church-going family with a strong, but not Fundamentalist, Biblical background.)

#229 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 02:09 PM:

The allegorical nature of the Narnia books is something I didn't see when reading, and the Aslan=Jesus sacrificing himself to save us all bit is the only part I see clearly to this day.

I wasn't raised Christian, and have not been steeped in Christian theology (except that which permeates American culture), so it might have been lost on me simply because I don't know what to look for.

#230 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 02:31 PM:

Those who are interested in Christian themes in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader might enjoy The Lion, The Mouse, and the Dawn Treader by Carl McColman. I liked it, but Dawn Treader was always my favorite Narnia book (though I did find the lamb at the end a bit confusing at first, and then a bit ... obvious). Anyway - McColman has written a couple of other books on mysticism and contemplative prayer and I enjoy his stuff quite a bit. I find it deeply immersed in Christian thought without being offputtingly pious or simplistic.

#231 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 02:33 PM:

OF course, when I think about a "short" science fiction writer Ellison is the first name that comes to mind, and we did live near Los Angeles. Was Ellison grabby?

Despite the Connie Willis incident, I don't think of Ellison as a habitual groper in the way Asimov seems to have been. But he is known for making outrageous sexual comments and all that, so it wouldn't surprise me. And you could certainly see someone saying "Oh my God, it's Harlan!" and someone else mistaking that for "Heinlein."

#232 ::: kate ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 04:37 PM:

James@221: I'll give you that LWW sure isn't allegory. I think there's arguments that Last Battle might qualify; how are you defining allegory? (There's various ways of describing it, which is why I ask.)

#233 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 05:08 PM:

Sarah E. #222: So basically, all the way back. Which says something or other about humanity's long-term relationship with war....

Damn pity the Eleusinian Mysteries got lost.

#234 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 05:22 PM:

An allegory is a text in which the significant characters / places /events within the story stand in a one to one relationship with another meaningful connected story. This may be true in several ways, as with Dante's letter to Can Grande della Scala, where he describes the Divine Comedy as having four different levels, three of which are allegorical, corresponding to the ways of reading scripture.

The standard examples are the original (unfinished) Roman de la Rose, The Divine Comedy, Pilgrim's Progress, and a fairly large set of lesser works (many of which Lewis dealt with in The Allegory of Love.

Narnia doesn't operate as an allegory because the relationships usually adduced are not representative but identity -- Aslan doesn't symbolize the second person of the Trinity, he is the second person of the Trinity in another manifestation, and so forth.

#235 ::: Adrian Smith ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 07:25 PM:

Damn pity the Eleusinian Mysteries got lost.

Richard Mitchell argues fairly persuasively (at least to me, in the sadly unfinished Psyche Papers, which is online) that Apuleius's story of Psyche may be an example of such a thing.

#236 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 09:51 PM:

Glenn Hauman @ 207: there's a difference between gay and uninterested (or just naive); the latter appears in a number of RAH juveniles -- even the ones that weren't serialized in Boy Scout magazines before Scribner's booked them. He seems to me to have been writing from the women-are-for-after-the-real-work-is-done perspective. (The disliking of "you'll marry one of these nice girls" may be not even that but their frivolity when measured against his experiences.) Maybe I'm making too much of Valentine Michael Smith "sensing an essential wrongness" (close quote) in the men who proposition him before he alters his features away from androgyny, but my read is that he grew away from homophobia much later than he grew away from the racism (if he started with it -- I don't know what that part of Missouri was like then).

#237 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 10:04 PM:

@ 224 - I completely missed the lamb thing as a kid, until I was an adult re-reading and went "Uh. WOW, that's heavy-handed. I had to be pretty dense to miss that." And I'd glossed over a lot of the unpleasantness about girls myself.

I can't even remember now what specifically it was in TLB that finally caused the scales to drop from my eyes--just that it did. Horrors!

THAHB was my favorite of the bunch--with TSC a close second--and I think I got a lot of it conflated with "Tombs of Atuan" which I was reading at the time. The scenes where they were leaving the Tisroc's city got all mixed up with the labyrinth in Atuan, as things do when one is nine. I was surprised how short the books were, re-reading--that section was so much longer in my head when I was a kid.

Ah, well. Another book I'll have to write someday to sort things out.

#238 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 10:14 PM:

Sarah E. @222: I believe the epilogues had them both getting married to men but staying friends with each other.

rcade @225: Rot13 even though I'm not sure anyone in here is concerned with spoilers (though Sarah above might have enough cues for you to piece it out): Flqryyr naq Natryn.

It's never quite obvious enough to make me certain that's the definitive interpretation, but there are things about them that just don't quite fit otherwise, narratively - like the way the partnership is played off against the engagement.


Regarding Narnia: it's strange, but as a kid who was raised Jewish and had no idea about much of the Christian mythos until I was at least a pre-teen (and not in any depthful way until adulthood), I found the Narnia books kind of confusing and never really got into them. I didn't have that reaction to Tolkien. There's a certain referentiality, in Lewis, that expects the reader to have a degree of... Christian narrative shorthand? And, missing the map key, I rather missed the point. Oddly I had a similar reaction to some parts of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials, which categorizes the problem as one of contextuality rather than message.

#239 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 10:27 PM:

I read the Narnia books in my late teens or early twenties, and was pleased with myself for noticing the Christian symbolism-- arguably too much so, since it wasn't that hard.

Now I'm wondering what the bit with Aslan turning into a lamb would look like if you didn't know it was a Christian symbol. Would it have just seemed like a weird dreamlike arbitrary thing?

#240 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 10:42 PM:

OK, now I want to lodge an officious complaint.

Over on file770 VD is stating, again, that he "would have gone away" except that the "Making Light circus" wouldn't leave him alone.

It's all your fault!!

#241 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 11:05 PM:

I've seen less projection at the local multiplex cinema.

#242 ::: Edmund Schweppe ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2015, 11:08 PM:

Craig R. @240:

Over on file770 VD is stating, again, that he "would have gone away" except that the "Making Light circus" wouldn't leave him alone.

You know what that means, don't you?

It's ...


Nielsen Hayden's Flying Circus!

*cue Terry Gillian animations and Sousa's Liberty Bell March*

#243 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2015, 12:04 AM:

STOP THAT! Stop that. You're not going into a title sequence while I'm around.

#244 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2015, 12:08 AM:

Nancy Leibovitz @#239: Now I'm wondering what the bit with Aslan turning into a lamb would look like if you didn't know it was a Christian symbol. Would it have just seemed like a weird dreamlike arbitrary thing?

Yes, that's exactly what it looked like. I had no idea what the heck was up with that. I didn't grasp the whole Christian symbolism thing until I was in college.

I finished reading TLB in the bath one evening and burst into tears...without actually realizing why. It didn't really occur to me that Our Heroes were, like, dead.

For some reason I didn't read TSC until I'd already read all the other books, and to this day I've only read it twice, the second time pretty recently. I didn't like it.

#245 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2015, 02:33 AM:

I finished Tunnel in the Sky yesterday. If there were veiled references to Rod Walker's race I didn't notice them, but I had no trouble imagining Rod Walker (or his family) being black.

The clearly-described-as-black character, Carol, was a much more important character than I'd remembered however, though some of her characteristics might be seen as ethnic stereotypes today, such as her better-than-male ability as a hunter or her strength as a fighter.

And absolutely not a single fainting, needs-to-be-rescued female!

Interestingly, another character, Jimmy Throxton, did complain of "discrimination" at one point, though the main divide in the book was the divide between the characters who were high-school students and the characters who were college students - definitely some tension there!

But I did find an interesting sentence in Citizen of the Galaxy which may reflect Heinlein's thinking on diversity:

"Decibel Peebie was convicted (court trial waived when Brisby pointed out how the book could be thrown at him) of Inciting to Riot, specification: using derogatory language with reference to another Guardsman's Race, Religion, Birthplace, or condition previous to entering service..."

Since Heinlein may also discuss this in Starship Troopers I think we may have found a trend!

#246 ::: etv 13 ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2015, 03:35 AM:

There's a really insightful discussion of why many children don't pick up on the Christian references in the Narnia books in The Magician's Book, which I highly recommend. I read them when I was 8-10 (it took a while to track them all down on mid-1960s Oahu), I came from an intermittently church-going family, and I completely missed them.

#247 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2015, 04:10 AM:

Since I couldn't see it for myself (referencing my Tunnel in the Sky post above) I went looking on the Internet. Jo Walton wrote the following:

Caroline is referred to as a Zulu and has a Zulu surname. Rod’s surname is the very American Walker. But when describing Caroline to his sister he says “She looks a bit like you.”

In response to Jo's review, alay writes in the comments: "Another point: is there significance in the fact that Heinlein is portraying a racially-mixed society here with a leader called Ulysses Grant Cowper? (as in, named after General Ulysses S. Grant)


I also found a quote from one of Heinlein's letters where he writes:

In another book (TUNNEL IN THE SKY) I used a Negro boy as my hero [Rod Walker] – but never mentioned his skin color and buried the proof like clues in a detective story. Intentionally. … Sandra, I don’t know (and don’t care) whether Negroes-as-a-group are smarter than whites-as-a-group, or vice versa, nor do I know of any scientific data on the matter worthy of the name.

It should also be noted that the Walker family practices a religion derived from Zoroastrianism.

#248 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2015, 04:40 AM:

Edmund Schweppe @242:

One slight correction: apostrophe placement. It's

Nielsen Haydens' Flying Circus

Day is right, of course. We have not left him alone. You see, although we call the periodic threads we start "Open Threads", that's just to get the correct initials: OT.

OT really stands for OPERATION THEODORE, and the OTs are the coordinating place for the subtle campaign of intimidation we have spent years implementing.

To decrypt the plans, you must acquire the cryptographic key based on the distributions of the letters "V, X, D, and Y"* in the first thirty-three comments of each thread. Although those comments may appear to be posted by various members of the community and the general public, they are in point of fact all posted by Patrick, Teresa, and me‡, using our talents** as skilled textual mimics to produce the thin and unconvincing effect of conversation††.

Once you have the key, you too can join the carefully coordinated assault on the forces arrayed against us, carried out by means of no one from our community bothering to join his coterie even as a mole, a complete failure to discuss him unless he's done something particularly dickish, and a total lack of interest in him until he damages an institution we care about‡‡.

Fluourospherians Form Up! This war of being bored to tears with Vox Day won't fight itself!

(What do you want to bet this post will be the basis of a new conspiracy theory? Not linked, not referred to in detail, just "Abi admitted to it on Making Light!!!!1!!!eleventy!!)

* because not vowels, duh
‡ only the three of us are that unscrupulous.
** this is where our scheme has the breakpoint for plausible deniability; our Sworn Enemies™ would maintain that we have no talents whatsoever, so clearly this is false.†
† what they have forgotten is that we are all ferociously rich and have hired talented people.
†† this is why we maintain such a carefully groomed echo chamber. The imitation of a free and robust conversation full of made-up insulting acronyms and vigorous, manly one-upmanship would be beyond our slender capabilities.
‡‡ which he totally does to strike back, with no eye to the pleasures of attention, his own financial gain, or his Larger Feelings About Western Civilization.

#249 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2015, 04:59 AM:

Well, well, well.

(I have said too much)

#250 ::: David Langford ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2015, 06:40 AM:

Abi #248: Thank you for a much needed giggle!

#251 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2015, 07:52 AM:

Abi @ #248 writes:

> Fluourospherians Form Up!

Was it Karl Marx who said "I refuse to join any sinister conspiracy that would have me as a member."?

#252 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2015, 08:00 AM:

Steve Taylor @ #251:

No, I think it was Marx Einstein, who said "I refuse to join any sinister conspiracy that would have me as member, unless they let me play with God's dice."

#253 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2015, 08:01 AM:

Steve Taylor @ #251:

No, I think it was Marx Einstein, who said "I refuse to join any sinister conspiracy that would have me as member, unless they let me play with God's dice."

#254 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2015, 08:03 AM:

*sigh* @ #253

I even double-checked that it hadn't been posted, before I tried again. Ah, well, perchance that bon mot is funny enough to be allowed to exist twice (or, someone could surgically remove one of them).

#255 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2015, 08:52 AM:

In "The Man Who Knew Too Much", the song "que sera sera" is used to bore us to tears *and* to signify to the singer's offspring that rescue is on the way. And the singer's name is Doris *Day*. Coincidence? I think not.

#256 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2015, 08:59 AM:

#245 ::: Alex R.

Thanks for turning up that quote from CoB-- I'd been mentioning it, but I didn't have it handy.

Does anyone know whether it might have been based on a real-world rule?

#257 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2015, 09:06 AM:

Abi @ 248

*looks on in awe* *claps*

*signals lane-change*

So I got pounced on by a song last night, while rereading _The Pyramids Of London_ (has anyone else read that? I'm enjoying it *soooo* much!.) It was (sigh) after midnight but I got up and wrote the song because it amused me so much and ignoring them is bad luck.

The problem is that it references events within the book while taking an attitude toward foreigners' royalty that, as far as I can tell, nobody in the book actually has. While on the one hand I really love some of the sentiments, on the other hand the whole rudeness-to-foreigners thing is something I neither promote myself nor wish to suggest that the society in the book practices.

I get the impression this thread has drifted open, and I remember that people were willing to make suggestions about Send Him Home in the other thread... if I posted the lyrics here, would people be willing to look them over and make suggestions for how I can improve them?

#258 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2015, 12:44 PM:

Haven't read the book, Cat @257, but I'm willing to try commenting on the song.

And 248 is quite well done, abi.

#259 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2015, 01:56 PM:

A friend of mind elseNet read Edmund Schubert's statement about withdrawing from the Hugos, and was unimpressed. Quoted with permission:

But even if the stories aren't chosen according to a checklist of bigotry, [Schubert] fails to understand that it isn't all about assuming that the stories will reflect Card's vile views; it's about not giving money or credibility to a shrieking homophobe. If the writers don't want to suffer from Card's behaviour, they shouldn't send their stories to his magazine. It's unreasonable to expect anyone to give any kind of support to a person who advocates hatred because it isn't "fair" to the writers to do otherwise. (emphasis mine)

I think this is the bit that the people who say "separate the writer from the work" and "judge the stories on their merits" aren't getting.

#260 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2015, 02:04 PM:

abi @ 248: You're making me feel tempted to start discussing the filkers Vixy and Tony at the start of the next open thread, just to ensure a sufficient distribution of Vs, Xs, and Ys...

#261 ::: Laertes ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2015, 02:55 PM:

Very glad I'm not the only one who found The Day The World Turned Upside Down to be a terrible disappointment. Did I entirely miss the point? Was this some kind of satire on whiny, self-absorbed man-children?

On a related note, today I learned a new word: manpain.

#262 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2015, 02:55 PM:

A friend of mind elseNet read Edmund Schubert's statement about withdrawing from the Hugos, and was unimpressed.

Schubert did the right thing on a really important issue, so I'm inclined to give him some leeway. He's an ally, at least for now, so let him be.

If you demand perfection from your allies and attack allies who are imperfect, you will soon have very few allies and a lot of people who regret having taken the risks and making the sacrifices necessary to support you.

#263 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2015, 03:53 PM:

Lee, Alex R.: For myself, I demand less perfection from my allies than I do understanding. The article Lee links to seems to be a bid for that understanding: Here is why some of us make the choices we do.

There are different ways to respond to that.

It is one thing to say, of oneself rather than prescribing for others, that "OSC's name is on the magazine, but his toxic politics are absent, and for that reason I will not shun its editors or its short stories."

I totally understand that. Each of us make our choices, draw our lines, in the place that makes the most sense to our consciences.

But it is quite another thing to say "Those of you for whom OSC's name on the magazine is enough to drive you away from submitting or reading, SHAME ON YOU for punishing the magazines authors and editors with your politics."

That's what just plain tires me out to hear.

#264 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2015, 03:54 PM:

Lee, Alex R.: For myself, I demand less perfection from my allies than I do understanding. The article Lee links to seems to be a bid for that understanding: Here is why some of us make the choices we do.

There are different ways to respond to that.

It is one thing to say, of oneself rather than prescribing for others, that "OSC's name is on the magazine, but his toxic politics are absent, and for that reason I will not shun its editors or its short stories."

I totally understand that. Each of us make our choices, draw our lines, in the place that makes the most sense to our consciences.

But it is quite another thing to say "Those of you for whom OSC's name on the magazine is enough to drive you away from submitting or reading, SHAME ON YOU for punishing the magazines authors and editors with your politics."

That's what just plain tires me out to hear.

#265 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2015, 03:55 PM:

Ah, bugger. My first time hitting POST I got a 500 Internal Server error. I can I hope be excused for hitting POST the second time!

#266 ::: Shinydan ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2015, 04:01 PM:

@181 - Shared joy increases.

#267 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2015, 04:21 PM:

Peace Is My Middle Name@199: Behold the works of William Morris...

For some reason this crossed streams in my head with A. A. Milne:

Behold the works of William Morris
Christopher Robin went to the florist.
On wallpaper he can find blooms by the yard,
Or woven into cloth by Jacquard,
Says the florist.

#268 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2015, 04:36 PM:

abi @ #248

That caused a prolonged fit of giggles here at Moose Yard, with the thought of "The Puppy Brothers, Brad and Theodore" with Teresa as Spiny Norman...

..."they said I had to see.... Ted, at which point I got really scared. So they nailed me into a crate and shipped me off to his underground Swiss hideout. It was dark in that crate, and all I'd got was a torch and a discarded copy of One Bright Star to Guide Them which had been thrown away with great force. I wish I hadn't read it, gnawing my own leg off would have been more pleasant. Finally the crate was delivered and I was prised out in front of Theodore, floating in a vat of heated bile and attended by fawning Gaters.."

But I digress.

#269 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2015, 05:16 PM:

But it is quite another thing to say "Those of you for whom OSC's name on the magazine is enough to drive you away from submitting or reading, SHAME ON YOU for punishing the magazines authors and editors with your politics."

No, I get it. My daughter is Gay and I haven't bought anything from a Mormon* (that I know of) since that particular Church put 22 million dollars into California's pro-Prop-8 campaign in a very ugly attempt to make my child into a second-class citizen.

But on this matter, I'm carefully holding my peace, and I'm doing so for two reasons: First I think the Hugo awards being fair and non-political are an important enough policy issue to Keep My Big Mouth Shut on an issue which would otherwise be important to me.

Second, because Card recently said he thinks that Gay Marriage is inevitable and I'm willing to give him a little room to go further with that thought, or back down on some of his uglier ideas. I don't know that he will (or that he can**) but I think he does know that he's lost out on some money and opportunities because of his position. Since he's shown a minor sign of learning from what's happened, I don't want to attack him (or his) further if he's dropping the subject, which is probably the best we can expect given the position of his Church on this particular subject.

* I really, really, really want the Schlock Mercenary RPG book. I want it so bad, but I'm holding off. IMHO, before a Mormon gets my money, they can put some work into fixing their ugly, fascist, morally-vacuous, shit-stupid excuse for a Church.

** I'm also not sure how much leeway big-time Mormons have from their Church when it comes to making certain public statements. (The fact that Larry Correia and Brad Torgersen are both Mormons and are both saying nasty things about a Mormon who's been excommunicated from the Church is definitely something I've noticed, though I'm not sure how much weight to give this particular issue...)

#270 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2015, 05:31 PM:

To decrypt the plans, you must acquire the cryptographic key based on the distributions of the letters "V, X, D, and Y"* in the first thirty-three comments of each thread.

My compliments on the placements of "V, X, D, and Y" in "my" post at number 21. The brilliant job of getting the letters placed where they needed to be while simultaneously ranting about how Heinlein was the first of science-fiction's Social Justice Warriors was nothing short of brilliant.

That being said, other than voting "No Award" when the time comes, what is our plan? What is the overall strategy, and what are our tactics? I'm good for organizing T-Shirts and other art, but that's the end of my capacities.

#271 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2015, 06:17 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 258 (and whoever else may be interested) Here's the song:

Pyrtanian Love Song
lyrics and melody by Catherine Faber 2015

Bold Princess Tanwyn took ship unchagrined
To circle the globe with her crew, and the wind,
Boldly exploring, till everyone knew
What a Pyrtanian airship could do!

We are Pyrtanian, let us be frank
What do we care for another land's rank?
Blood is illusion, to us it's all one
A gardener's girl, or an Emperor's son!

Noble Mi Jiang a Prince without stain,
Flying as Drake in the Dragon's Domain,
Loved, from the moment her shadow was seen,
The lucifer light of the traveling Queen.

All of Pyrtania welcomed a band
Come from that fabled, magnificent land
Dragon, in man-form, forbidden to shift
The Son of the Emperor, come as a gift.

Some would sow sorrow; they whisper and write
Ugly and envious rumor and spite:
“They sent us a ringer. Reject him,” they bid.
The sensible answer's “So what if they did?”

He left his nation; his bridges were burned,
Ere he discovered devotion returned.
Love makes all noble before it is through--
Queen Tanwen has chosen him; what's it to you?

(however I have since had a couple of ideas of how to fix the song's issues, which I thought were mostly with the chorus.)

We are Pyrtanian; let us be frank,
Queen chooses Consort regardless of rank
Love trumps nobility; here it's all one,
A gardener's girl, or an Emperor's son.

This has the advantage of being, as far as I can see, true to the story's society (the Queen cannot marry, but the choices of Consort mentioned in the story seem to me to indicate she chooses as she pleases and nobody else gets a say) and also giving up that suggestion that non-Pyrtanian rank "isn't real" (which as far as I can see is not true to the story's society, though I can imagine individual people in that society quietly holding that opinion.)

The drawback is that I liked the "turn" given by the way the suggestion that non-Pyrtanian rank isn't real can be made to fight the suggestion that Mi Jiang is not really a Prince, but only a gardener, to the death in the arena of public opinion. But too much of that "turn" would have to be suggested in the performance and completed by the listening ear to be reliable anyway, I think.

(I'm posting from a different computer, in case that does anything weird to the "see all by" or anything. But this computer has my song lyrics.)

#272 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2015, 06:30 PM:

Cat (271): "View all by" is tied to email address; as long as you use the same one consistently, it doesn't matter where you post from.

(Not commenting on the song lyrics because I'm not familiar with the source material.)

#273 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2015, 06:48 PM:

Cat @271: I like the song, and I think it stands on its own. I like your not-forcing of rhythm and meter (so much of what I read that passes for song lyrics has to be pushed into the song's shape!). I also like the second chorus just fine: as I said, I haven't read the story, but I think the second chorus actually *feels* better in story terms. The politics of making that sort of decision fits better than the politics that comes out of the first one (it seems more realistic, that it might happen that way, rather than sacrificing political gain to "true love").

Thank you!

#274 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2015, 07:48 PM:

Laertes @ 261: That reminds me that I've been meaning to share here:
Manfeels Park (dreadful pun entirely intentional.)

"The male dialogue in this webcomic is all taken word for word or adapted only slightly from web commentary by hurt and confused men with Very Important Things To Explain, usually to women."

The snark is powerful with this one... (Of course many of the comments are entirely awful, as you'd expect, but there are some pretty decent responses too.)

#275 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2015, 07:53 PM:

Alex, #262: Oh, don't get me wrong -- I'm perfectly willing to accept someone doing the right thing for the wrong reasons, and so is my friend. But you don't get as much approbation for that as you might want.

We may be having a semantic disagreement here; do you automatically parse "unimpressed" as being an attack? (I ask this because I once knew someone who... let's say that she and I used the word "unconvinced" very differently, and found ourselves having a completely unnecessary fight one day until we figured it out.)

Also, what Nicole said. Schubert isn't the only one who's been (figuratively) beating me over the head with this "YOUR politics are the problem, not [author]'s" crap, and I'm bloody sick and tired of it.

#276 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2015, 11:34 PM:

I can't keep up with the velocity of comment here, but going back a couple days on the Narnia discussion:

I read the books in third grade. I adored them...but I was disturbed by several things. I can't recall the order chronologically, so I'll just list them.

There was a certain smugness that would float up now and then and it made me feel uncomfortable. I think I hit it once or twice in every book. The first time it was the treatment of Edmund. I thought that lewis was lying about him (I thoguht a lot of authors lied from time to time in my reading, and I still do).

The time it hit home was int he Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Here I was certain that Lewis was lying, and what's more, I thought he was lying about my family. Eustace's family were clearly, to my child's eyes, meant to stand in for the motley run of bohemian families. It's no good pointing out that the details of Eustace's home life were nothing like the details of my own life or that of our family friends. I caught a whiff, and I thoguht it stank. So I was sure that Lewis was also lying about Eustace. And it disturbed me that the only way for Eustace to become woirthy of any consideration was to becaome entirely unlike himself.

I don't remember anything from A Horse and His Boy except that the bad people were southern and dark. This disturbed me immensely: I was reading the Narnia books at the height of the Civil Rights movement. People were talking evey day about how it was unjust to judge a person by the color of their skin, and here was Lewis, deliberately creating a world in which dark-skinned people were bad.

The treatment of the Marsh-wiggles disturbed me too.

TGhe Last Battle just about did me in for Lewis, but I was still such a fan of his sensous, beautiful landscape descriptions, his wind and weather, that I read the trilogy including Out of the Silent Planet. Including Thjat Hideous Strength. I read that when I was eleven, and I have never forgiven him. That book was so mean-spirited, so muisogynistic, so, actually, nasty, it tainted everything I had ever read by Lewis with a stain that can't be scrubbed off.

My own kids had less tolerance for Lewis than me, thoguh they also were entranced by his beauitiful landscapes and wondrous sensory details.

#277 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 02:28 AM:

There's an "interesting" guest post over at File770 by a guy who is neither a past Worldcon or Hugos participant, nor even a Supporting member this year, explaining to us all why what the Puppies did was perfectly okay and those of us who oppose it are just hypocrites.

I'm a bit surprised and mystified that Glyer was willing to include a main post of what is blatant trolling.

#278 ::: David Langford ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 04:40 AM:

#260 – I read this comment with a vexed eye, if you know what I mean and I think you do.

#279 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 05:55 AM:

I was disappointed that the conversation in the last open thread did not, despite my introduction of owls and mountain lions, veer into discussions of lynxes, voles, oxen, and yaks.

I blame my co-conspirators.

#280 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 07:28 AM:

Abi... there *has* been much yakking, as oxen happens here.

#281 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 08:54 AM:

And lots of comments include lynx to interesting points elsenet

#282 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 10:15 AM:

The file770 article about Wade being asked to be on the "recommendation slate" (with no mention of Sad Puppies) struck me as...telling.

Good for her for declining--all questions of ethics aside, I suspect she saved herself a lot of nuisance by doing it before the whole thing blew up.

#283 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 10:17 AM:

I have enjoyed Chesterton's Father Brown series a good deal, but I get a whiff from it now and then that makes the simple man of faith and his universe seem like a bit of a stacked deck, and this makes me sad. Of course, all freethinkers are idiots or knaves in his world (though he does have barbs for those who take too much on authority, it seems).

Then there's N. Ned, the black boxer who figures highly in "The God of the Gongs." Ned is his first name, N. stands for his descriptor, the n- word. Chesterton goes full jacket racist on Ned (I sometimes excuse stereotyping in older sources as xenophobia, rather than racism; a slightly lesser sin, but here, I can't even offer that straw.), larding his descriptions with animal comparisons, and having Ned roll his eyes whilst wearing a silk hat.

[SPOILER rotted] The frosting on the cake comes when Father Brown himself, the humblest, most pious soul in the universe which he inhabits, tells his associate, "Gung arteb jub unf whfg fjnttrerq bhg vf bar bs gur zbfg qnatrebhf zra ba rnegu, sbe ur unf gur oenvaf bs n Rhebcrna, jvgu gur vafgvapgf bs n pnaavony. Ur unf ghearq jung jnf pyrna, pbzzba-frafr ohgpurel nzbat uvf sryybj-oneonevnaf vagb n irel zbqrea naq fpvragvsvp frperg fbpvrgl bs nffnffvaf…"

I can still enjoy the series as an alternate universe, but I generally have to steel myself to it a little. Like reading Rand, I temporarily buy into the 'givens' of the universe if I don't want to spend the whole time yelling at the author. After reading, I shrug and return to reality and wonder why someone would create something so warped for idealistic reasons.

#284 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 10:19 AM:

@279, 280, 281
And if comments have been disemvoled, well, we know who to blame for that.

#285 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 10:37 AM:

Tom Whitmore @273

Thanks! I appreciate your input. I think you have a good point about those politics seeming more realistic anyway.

Mary Aileen @272

Thanks for the explanation of how "view all by" works. I figured it was probably something like that but it is good to know.

#286 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 11:15 AM:

That one also has two comments wondering why it's even there. And a few supporters of the canine variety, but they're easily identifiable.

#287 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 12:28 PM:

#282 UrsulaV:

I was infuriated at how Juliette Wade said, very clearly and cogently, why she asked to be removed from the slate, and along came Brad Torgersen to say that, oh no, what she REALLY meant was etc etc. self-justifying twaddle about shaming, shunning, and ostracism.

Excuse me, mister chivalrous protector of dainty womanhood from evil ostracizers, I prefer to take the quite dignified and reasonable actual words of the woman in question than some self-serving reinterpretation that ignores her.

#288 ::: snowcrash ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 01:08 PM:

@282, 287

Aaaaaaaand it looks like Juliette Wade has just come in to clear up matters, and also to suggest to Brad that perhaps he should not be ascribing motivations to other people contrary to their own words.

#289 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 01:18 PM:

UrsulaV, #282: Yeesh. Torgerson has really forgotten the First Rule of Holes, hasn't he? It just keeps getting more and more pathetic.

#290 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 01:58 PM:

I'm sure he'll find a way to spin that...comprehensive...rejection as a sign of total victory/the SJWs made her say it/etc.

He'd have to, because otherwise he'd need a trip to the burn ward. Ouch.

#291 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 02:26 PM:

We may be having a semantic disagreement here; do you automatically parse "unimpressed" as being an attack? (I ask this because I once knew someone who... let's say that she and I used the word "unconvinced" very differently, and found ourselves having a completely unnecessary fight one day until we figured it out.)

I do understand what "unimpressed" meant in context, and I'm not mad or upset or disappointed... It's just that having been on the other side of such issues, and given what I think we're trying to accomplish, my personal preference is that we not go down the road of "ally shaming."

#292 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 04:00 PM:

Re: #34 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name :::
"It *is* okay to hang out here even if you're just some schmo from the internet, right?
Because I am just some schmo from the internet."

I can't speak with any kind of Authority -- except possibly something vague based on the fact that SFF has been my favorite reading since c. 1943 -- but you seem to be civil and have some interesting ideas, and describe yourself as "just some schmo...". A person like that is very highly likely to be welcome in any Group where I feel at home.

#293 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 04:06 PM:

The most extreme xenophobia I've run into in fiction was in Charles Williams' Shadows of Ecstasy-- the orthodox Jewish characters were on the side of good, but they were so strange they didn't seem like human beings to me.

#294 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 04:20 PM:

Re: #20 ::: Neil W :::"Are we still talking about the Hugos? I think I've droned on enough."

I kinda think it's impossible to have too many puns, but... yeah, I rather feel -- & I hope this is not considered too vulgar) -- like going out into a secluded part of the back yard and taking Apis.

Which is, of course, a perfectly healthy & necessary activity, give or take a space & a letter.

#295 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 05:34 PM:

The Sads lie with gay abandon. It weirds me out. But the thing that genuinely confuses me about this is that they lie in a way that suggests that they think the rest of us don't talk to each other, that we've got no way to check on their facts, that these lies somehow exist in isolation from each other. Um, don't they think we're all in some conspiracy against them? How would that even work if we don't talk to each other? Is their worldview actually that broken, down at its foundations?

#296 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 06:17 PM:

Lydy, my theory is that they're writing for the benefit of people outside fandom who really don't know any better or have any way to check. I think they know their reputation is toxic waste in fandom at this point, so nothing they say is really going to help.

#297 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 07:48 PM:

And then the question is why lie for the benefit of people who don't care know or care about the Hugos? Non-fans aren't their real audience, I think: they're trying to get marginal fans.

But they still lie a lot more than they need to, and even after they've been caught and told that people know they're doing it. That's a sign of something wrong with their thought processes.

#298 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 07:58 PM:

P J Evans, #297: "But they still lie a lot more than they need to, and even after they've been caught and told that people know they're doing it. That's a sign of something wrong with their thought processes."

Or, as I see it, a sign that they are utterly unscrupulous and are willing to say or do anything which advances their "cause". It's almost as if they view lying profusely as something of which to be proud, and they're trying to out-do each other.

#299 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 08:19 PM:

It's almost as if they view lying profusely as something of which to be proud, and they're trying to out-do each other.

Easy -- it's the standard operating procedure for the GOP and their tea party compatriots. If you're going to steal...

#300 ::: rcade ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 08:32 PM:

Brad Torgersen in a comment on his own Facebook wall yesterday:

"Correia also likes women. We're not sure about Scalzi, on that count. If you know what I mean."

#301 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 08:36 PM:

Just short of actionable, if you know what I mean.

#302 ::: Zack ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 08:41 PM:

It's almost as if they view lying profusely as something of which to be proud, and they're trying to out-do each other.

This is consistent with things I've heard about "chan culture" in the context of G*merg*te. Specifically, it seems to be a Thing in that context to throw out all sorts of statements with callous disregard for their truth, and whichever statement gets the most whuffie is now the collective unshakable belief, even if it is as egregiously false as π = 3.

#303 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 09:07 PM:

But "n=3" is often true! At least many people believe it is true, as in "bad things come in threes" ("For all events a if a has the categorization 'bad' then n=3 where n = the number of such events"). And since it's true sometimes, it must be true all the time! Or at least, we have to act as if it is.

#304 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 09:09 PM:

rcade, #300: This seems like a good place to mention the distinction between a man who likes women and a man who likes to fuck women. If you know what I mean.

#305 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 09:24 PM:

Will we never grow up?

If you know what I mean.

#306 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 09:55 PM:

Tom Whitmore (303): I think that's 'pi'. (I also read it as an 'n' at first; the font makes it hard to distinguish.)

#307 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 10:08 PM:

Oh FFS, now a Puppy over on File770 has declared that everything is Juliette's fault, and is claiming that she's stabbed the Honorable BT in the back after he so nicely tried to do her a favor.

These people (using the word loosely here) have no shame.

#308 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 10:31 PM:

@300 If I hit my head on the desk enough, it shall become one with the wood laminate...

Jeez, why does it matter if Scalzi likes men, women, or llamas? Unless you're the man, woman or llama in question, how is this a "gotcha" unless you're really as reactionary and dreadful as your detractors claim?

I keep trying to give the benefit of the doubt, I really do, and then...

#309 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 10:49 PM:

Boy, the Puppies get worse the longer I look. Declining to be on a slate is stabbing the slate maker in the back?

And why would Brad care in the slightest if Scalzi---oh, wait, they're anti-gay, that's right. But pointing *out* that they are anti-gay is an insult and a lie besides.

I am not going to bang my head over the likes of them. But the term *headdesk* was invented for this.

#310 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 03, 2015, 11:36 PM:

Mary Aileen @306: If you were right, and if I were a paranoid conspiracy theorist, I would point out that the type designers had made π and n look almost exactly alike for REASONS!! and we've got to find out where Leibnitz and Polya stand on the questions of slates for the Hugos! They're obviously trying to hide something from us.

(TL:DR -- I abase myself for not catching that. You're right.)

#311 ::: Robert Z ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 12:00 AM:

Don't you see? It's all connected: Scalzi himself claims, "I enjoy pie."

That pervert, he's pisexual! Coincidence? Really?

#312 ::: Doctor Science ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 12:05 AM:

The truly gobsmacking thing about that File770 discussion about Wade is that Torgersen and the other Puppy ("GK Chesterton" yclept, for reasons I suspect not unrelated to Kip's comments @283) are lying and misrepresenting things being said in that very conversation.

I'm honestly shocked, I admit. Before this evening, I really thought Torgersen was "the nice one". But the way he treated Wade in the comments, there, is just stunningly rude ... for lack of a better term.

I think the free-range lying isn't just chan culture (thanks for the link, Zack!). As Thomas Rodham has explained, what they're practicing is *truthiness*, not *bullshit*.

They're not talking about evidence, but about their feelings, their emotional belief about what is true. Torgersen doesn't acknowledge that he mis-represented Wade's motives and that she's angry with him in (appropriate) consequence, because he doesn't *feel* that he did wrong. He said she must have removed herself from the slate because she was afraid -- and that story, which he made up as we watched, seems more truthful to him than her direct words.

#313 ::: Zack ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 12:12 AM:

303, 306, 310: Yes, that was pi, and it's almost unrecognizable in the font on my computer too. Sometimes the serifs are not just decorative!

#314 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 12:19 AM:

We're not sure about Scalzi, on that count.

Like the rest of us, Torgersen is full of Kristie Scalzi-envy. (And this kind of thing is why the Puppies need to be mocked until they cry like whiney little spoiled brats who've been told they can't have candy!)

#315 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 12:22 AM:

Torgerson probably thinks he is insulting Scalzi and/or his wife (since Scalzi is known to be married to a woman) with that remark. I doubt his imagination includes straight men who wouldn't be upset if someone called them gay.

#316 ::: Kelly Jennings ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 12:36 AM:

This bit, by Torgersen, is my fav. He says, in the midst of one long, really terrible comment over at File770:

"The situation with Juliette got sideways, and it’s a drag that she’s upset."

Yeah. The entire problem is that those women get so emotional.

#317 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 01:30 AM:


It certainly did not take long for Juliette Wade to morph from a good friend and ally secretly fearful of SJWs attacks no matter what she actually said into a "spiteful" "jerk" who is "the type that will die alone because the people that are most likely to stand by her in a storm, like Brad, get targeted over the people attempting to cause problems."

It happened shockingly quickly once she made it clear to Torgersen that no, she did mean what she said and that he should not put the opposite words into her mouth.

Brad Torgersen treated her shabbily and his supporters in the comments on her post on File 770 are even worse.

The switcheroo from sugar-mouthed solicitousness to savage attack was brutal and immediate.

#318 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 01:57 AM:

@312 Doctor Science:

Brad Torgersen reminds me of numerous people I have encountered who clearly thought of themselves as "the nice one."

As long as those people's worldview was allowed to prevail unquestioned they could act as they chose to maintain the feeling of being magnanimous and jovial.

But challenge their worldview in the smallest way and the knives would immediately come out.

Magically, they would still remain "nice" even after the vilest overkill overreactions because sins committed against people they classified as enemies did not count.

#319 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 02:11 AM:

Vicki, #315: And then there's the whole "what is he, TWELVE?" factor. Seriously, dude, pulling out schoolyard-bully insults stops being funny after you're out of high school (if not long before).

Peace, #317: My shorthand for that kind of thing is, "well, the bitch wouldn't put out". Torgersen is putting on a nearly-canonical exhibition of Phony NiceGuy behavior after the woman he's been being So Nice to (for months, even!) refuses to have sex with him.

#320 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 02:16 AM:

Don't miss the bit where one of BT's supporters tries to reframe the whole dispute as though Wade were Torgeson's girlfriend who was not only ungrateful enough to break up with him but jerk enough to do it in public as messily as possible.

The gaslighting that BT and friends engage in on that thread is sickening.

I don't like having to think of BT as a toxic, gay-bashing, misogynist asshole. I really don't. I preferred the days when I just thought his rhetoric was tone-deaf and he was probably a nice-enough guy if you got to know him.

#321 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 02:39 AM:

Brad Torgersen is just another bully. One more spoiled, whining, obnoxious dude-bro who's appalled that he has to get down in the muck and compete with girls and dark-colored people for life's little prizes.

#322 ::: MaxL ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 03:46 AM:

Doctor Science @ 312:

If that's something you could stand to read a bit more on, this piece lays out the frankly incredible, and by now time-honored, tradition of snake oil salesmen shaking down the conservative base through conservative media organs.

Dishonesty is demanded by the alarmist fundraising appeal because the real world doesn’t work anything like this. The distance from observable reality is rhetorically required; indeed, that you haven’t quite seen anything resembling any of this in your everyday life is a kind of evidence all by itself. It just goes to show how diabolical the enemy has become. He is unseen; but the redeemer, the hero who tells you the tale, can see the innermost details of the most baleful conspiracies. Trust him. Send him your money

The parallels to the puppies are certainly there. And of course, the work is fascinating all on its own.

#323 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 04:28 AM:

An apology (of a sort).

#324 ::: Mercy ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 05:31 AM:

Soon Lee @323:

Woooow, that "apology" is a serious contender for the missing the point prize this month. And it's only the 4th.

#325 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 06:07 AM:


I don't see anything apologetic about that.

#326 ::: Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 06:36 AM:

@325: The apology is down at the bottom of the page. It more or less concedes the homophobic interpretation of the original comment. (I was previously in two or three minds about what the intended meaning was.)

#327 ::: mcz ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 06:47 AM:

Thank you Stewart -- I forgot I had Javascript off and didn't see the rest of the text.

#328 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 06:59 AM:

Ah, I see. So Torgersen thinks the unworthy part of what he said was the "insinuation" that Scalzi might be gay.

Which is childish, sure, and good for him for apologizing for it.

But he seems to have missed completely the damning and revealing fact that he treats calling someone gay as itself an insult.

#329 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 07:26 AM:

Was Brad Torgersen the one who spoke pietistically of how he does not hate or fear gays the way a doctor does not fear or hate patients who need to be cured of their plagues? Or am I confusing him with John C. Wright?

#330 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 07:55 AM:

Mr. Torgersen's latest outbursts make me think it's time to scrape together $40 and get that supporting Sasquan membership after all. Spend the money wisely, concom.

#331 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 08:21 AM:

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little @320

I've said a couple of times that I didn't think that Larry and Brad were personally any more bigotted than regular guys you might meet off the street* and quite probably less so. I'm going to have to stop saying that. It annoys me. Calling them bigots draws the argument back to "You hate my politics" "Well you hated mine first" which isn't getting anyone anywhere.

(Also Larry can almost carry off his poses; he has flair, total self-confidence and better control of his language than Brad. With him it looks like a hyperbolic performance. When he uses gendered etc. insults its part of a plain-talking schtick. Brad can't quite stick the landing. He shifts ground too much and tries to be the reasonable statesman AND the demagogic idealogue (or idealogical demagogue?) to be able to throw out childish insults.)

* Low level unthinking and unexamined slurs and stereotypes that vanish when actually confronted with people of that category.

#332 ::: rcade ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 08:27 AM:

Peace Is My Middle Name @ 329:

That sounds like Wright.

I'm glad Torgersen apologized, but once you reveal yourself to be a person who thinks "he is gay" is an insult, that's not something people easily forget.

I am surprised that the ugly remark sat there on his Facebook page for over a day. Is his bubble of like-minded people so tightly sealed that nobody called him on it until I quoted his remark here and Scalzi addressed it last night?

#333 ::: rcade ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 08:27 AM:

Peace Is My Middle Name @ 329:

That sounds like Wright.

I'm glad Torgersen apologized, but once you reveal yourself to be a person who thinks "he is gay" is an insult, that's not something people easily forget.

I am surprised that the ugly remark sat there on his Facebook page for over a day. Is his bubble of like-minded people so tightly sealed that nobody called him on it until I quoted his remark here and Scalzi addressed it last night?

#334 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 08:37 AM:

Jon Meltzer, #330: "Spend the money wisely, concom."

Just as an FYI to address a common misconception, Supporting Memberships are not "free money" for the concom. Kevin Standlee's done a post elsewhere explaining how this works.

Supporting Members get the printed publications for the con mailed to them (though they may wish to opt for e-mail-only Progress Reports, which does save the con a bit of money). The official Programme book is big, thick and heavy -- and depending on where the Supporting Member lives (especially if outside the host city's country), postage may cost more than the SM fee, and the con ends up in the hole on those memberships.

There are also incremental costs which go along with administering each membership. One extra SM may not add appreciably to the administrative burden -- but you can bet that the additional 3,000+ SMs (close to half of Sasquan's total attendance) will add greatly to the administrative overhead for nominating and voting, double-checking ballots and totals, Site Selection fee collection and vote-counting, and adding full registration info to the database and names to the programme book and website, etc.

Yes, it's likely that Sasquan will see some financial gain from all those Supporting Memberships -- but it won't be anywhere close to $40 x total number of SMs.

#335 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 08:57 AM:

Okay, I'll amend that to "I apologize for the administrative overhead":-)

#336 ::: Edmund Schweppe ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 09:26 AM:

abi @248: Vexatious Dairymaids shall be the name of my next Open Thread band.

#337 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 10:18 AM:

I suppose it's totally logical that when your Calvinesque*† jibes fall flat, you reach for the ultimate sanction. Excuse me; I need capital letters, boldface, and portentous music‡ for this. The Ultimate Sanction.

But if you're going to call someone gay, just call them gay. Don't dance about with "Correia likes women. We're not sure about Scalzi on that count. If you know what I mean." Like the word G-A-Y is going to ruin his Facebook page's G rating.

He's a writer, for fuck's sake. Not some six year old hoping Mommy won't catch him using a dirty word.

Also, I note he's apologized to Scalzi for implying he might be gay. But he hasn't apologized for how that's somehow bad, much less for his weird and creepy explanation of how Juliette Wade was feeling right there in the thread where she was capable of answering for herself.

* We do all remember GROSS, right?
† Also, in my best Malcolm Reynolds voice: only the ones I'm holier than.
‡ Which, due to the limitations of the medium, you will have to imagine.

#338 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 10:47 AM:

abi@337:Juliette Wade's answer there also implies that the content of Torgersen's note informing those few he actually informed about including them on the SP slate as being less than informational. Like missing any reference to being part of SP or a slate.

#339 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 11:19 AM:

Steve Halter @ 338: Brad's original message did include the word 'slate', but I must admit, in Wade's place, and lacking any reference to SP, I'd have missed that word and its implications, too. (not anymore, I wouldn't, but prior to this year's Hugo, I would have.)

#340 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 11:21 AM:

It looks like most of the people who leave comments on his FB page are like-minded. So he's getting a lot of reinforcement of his views, along with the trolls the supporters that follow the canines everywhere else.

#341 ::: Doctor Science ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 11:34 AM:

MaxL @322:

Yes, that Rick Perlstein piece should be required reading for all Americans, or anyone who's trying to understand wtf is going on with us.

I've been assuming all along that both Correia and Vox Day are performing versions of The Long Con. Reading Day's comments on File770 (the ones I can stomach), I'm starting to think that maybe he doesn't have the patience and work ethic to keep the con going very long. Which is heartening!

#342 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 12:36 PM:

Doctor Science: I…don't think it's a con for Beale. He believes…something…anyway.

"The truly gobsmacking thing about that File770 discussion about Wade is that Torgersen and the other Puppy […] are lying and misrepresenting things being said in that very conversation."

Manipulative people do this face-to-face all the time; they're counting on their audience not remembering and calling them on it, and they may not remember themselves. Memory is malleable, and it's easy for a con artist to end up believing their own lies, as long as they keep their eyes on the prize at the end. My guess is, at least in part, they're acting as they would in face-to-face conversation.

#343 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 01:08 PM:

Wow, that File770 troll post mentioned by jj@277 ("Who deserves the Hugos") is, indeed, very badly argued.

#344 ::: Edmund Schweppe ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 01:40 PM:

Myke Cole calls Torgersen out:

An open letter to Chief Warrant Officer Brad R. Torgersen

As the title suggests, Cole addresses Torgersen in the latter's role as an Army CWO, and finds said CWO's behavior ... lacking, shall we say?

You, Chief Warrant Officer Torgersen, are an officer, but no gentleman. Your positions are inconsistent with the values of the United States military

#345 ::: Doctor Science ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 02:00 PM:

Randolph @342:

Yes, I'm sure they do it face-to-face. But one reason that whole conversation is one of the most surreal of my internet career is that they're doing it in *text*, and text they can't edit, to boot.

I'm like, guys, you realize we're here, right? You know we can see what you're doing, don't you?

How aren't they *used* to it, by now?

#346 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 02:10 PM:

PJ Evans @ 297: That's a sign of something wrong with their thought processes. Not clear. In addition to the points several people have made: when somebody is that focused on a position, lies aren't likely to cost them any more of the people paying attention -- and will get them some hearing among people who aren't (cf your "marginal" fans), e.g. those who haven't previously seen the lie being caught. This is especially true if they lie with calm/rational-sounding text; I think I'm not the only one who has seen enough rants that a calm-sounding post may seem plausible in the absence of context. (I doubt that Beale and Torgersen are consciously playing BadCop/GoodCop, but that's an effect.)
      They're also taking advantage of their opponents' good conduct; ISTM that there are far more people on the Puppy/GG/Rand/... side willing to be utterly vile, in speech or even action (cf "SWATting" of anti-GGers), than there are opposed to them. I wouldn't have it otherwise; the caliber of followers they attract is one of their markers. But it does give them tactical room.

Doctor Science @ 312: the "truthiness" link is a fascinating discussion, especially when I remember the Right's claim (while attacking the opponents of the Iraq invasion) of making new reality for the "reality-based community" to study. At the time the remarks had a tinge of T. R. Roosevelt's discussion of creating the Panama Canal; now they seem more ominous -- creating "facts" by sheer assertion rather than by any alteration of the real world. I'm not absolutely convinced that Paul etc aren't another new form; between bullshitters and truthyists I see room for Helmsleyites ("facts are for little people").

JJ @ 334: Granted that it's not entirely free -- but I did an analysis that a $15 supporting membership in 1989 was way high, even allowing for a typical fraction of overseas memberships (for that time) and for the purchase of three computers (when they weren't nearly as cheap as they've become) because home computers weren't common enough to be sure that Treasury, Registration, and Publications had adequate machines. (The analysis was sufficiently convincing that some of the concom that provided the data signed on to a motion to reduce the SM rate, but it got shouted down at the meeting by people whinging about hordes of Australian supporting members.)
      I haven't seen Kevin's post, but some of your items are assumptive, or even just wrong; e.g., site selection collection and counting are mostly done by the contesting concoms (and may not scale with membership since they haven't been Puppied), Hugo voting is massively electronic (leaving no paper to re-enter/crosscheck), and "Program" books go out by cheap slow mail -- there's no way shipping them will cost more than a modest fraction of the SM fee. For that matter, a competent Worldconcom will have overseas agents who can receive caseloads of pre-packaged books and stamp/forward them; bulk sea rate is unbelievably cheap (as low as $70/ton when I shipped to Glasgow in 2005).
      If Sasquan hired temps to process memberships, that might be a cost -- but it's more likely they're using volunteers, which means the main cost is whether they will be short people they need at-con. That can also be a measure of competence -- or of cohesion, which is a problem for out-of-town bids; competent hometown bids assemble and train people to cope with major loads.

Randolph @ 342: that sounds just like the pattern I've heard for abusers -- they make such logical jumps around the truth that many abusees later mention doubting their own sanity.

My thanks to the people with stomach to read Torgersen and confirm there's nothing to see there; right now I'm just busy & stressed enough that I So Don't Need to spend time seeing whether there's a pony in that dungheap.

#347 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 02:26 PM:

CHiP @346

If a cheap slow option remains for shipping things "across the pond" they haven't mentioned it down at my local USPS when I come in with CDs to send to Switzerland.

One CD cost me $12.50.

It would certainly be possible for a concom to hire a "foot on the ground" on various continents to accept bulk shipments of "all mail for Europe" "all mail for Asia" and so on and re-ship, but then you have the cost of the person you hire, and the cost of the shipping from them to the supporting members in the area, and unpredictably timed jumps in cost when the first fan in, say, New Zealand, registers. I'm not sure that would work out cheaper.

I wonder if there was a "accept con booklet as PDF" option when I signed up, or if I could change it now. I should probably go see.

#348 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 02:32 PM:

Edmund Schweppe @344:

Wow, the comments on that post are utterly vile and toxic.

Chip @346:

Sometimes when reading VD's posts I feel like I have gone insane. It's like he's constantly circling almost making sense but never quite gets there.

#349 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 02:43 PM:

I've known a few people in my life who had...ah...a highly selective memory, let us say.

It's not unique to the abusive, by any stretch--I loved some of those people dearly--but they did tend to recast history quite a lot. It was particularly jarring when you had been part of that history. (My grandmother in particular was bad at this--she would repeat conversations that we had had to my mother, and edit them to be almost nauseatingly twee. There was no particular malice in it, she just believed that her sweet adorable granddaughter said sweet adorable things and changed history to reflect that. Sweet adorable me tended to loudly protest these changes, and she would generally accommodate my corrections, albeit with some eye-rolling.)

We mostly see this when we talk about abusive gaslighters, of course--that's the dark side of the trait. Probably there are also people out there rewriting their internal history so that their loved ones are better and stronger and smarter and their best selves. I hope so.

The thing is, thinking of my grandmother--well, I loved her very much, and she was not a stupid woman, but I don't think she could have stopped herself. It wasn't like she was making conscious choices to change history, she just...did it. Even if there was a paper trail, even if every word was recorded, she would have kept doing it. If she was on the internet (and thank all the little gods she wasn't!) I imagine she'd be as bad as Torgersen and Day in revisions in comments where we could clearly SEE the truth by scrolling up.

It wouldn't have been stupidity or anything else, she just literally would not have noticed herself doing it. I think probably that's what we're seeing here with people that you can watch change history in real time--they literally don't expect you to notice because THEY don't notice.

You can see some people palm cards when they're trying to be malicious. Some people, though, just tell you that you had a different card to begin with and expect you to believe it because they do.

#350 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 03:05 PM:

Ursulav @349

I postulate that, for the people who do this without malice or even intent, the narrative they believe they are part of exerts a sufficiently strong magnetic pull that it lines up the facts in accordance with their view of the story. Facts that don't line up are discarded as irrelevant or reshaped to better fit the narrative. (Picturing family history as bonsai, here.)

In some ways that's true of us all, of course. Life is messy and complex and if you don't select what you attend to and remember you'll get the human equivalent of the blue screen of death.

But somewhere you slide over the line from selective attention into willful blindness.

#351 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 03:06 PM:

Doctor Science #345:

On Facebook, you can edit your own posts at will & delete them any time you like. Different commenting practices in different discussion spaces could explain why Torgersen chose to leave his comment up & apologise for it downthread instead of deleting it.

(But I agree, Torgersen does not seem to be heeding the notion of comporting oneself appropriately in public online spaces.)

#352 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 04:36 PM:

Otter B:

My not-too-informed intuition is that this is the rule, rather than the exception, in human memory. It's *really* common to see peoples' memories change in light of later facts or beliefs. My guess is that your memories are always pieced together from small chunks you remember, plus a lot of extrapolation for what would make sense in light of how you think and feel and believe now.

At a guess, abusive people often have a pretty skewed perception of the world, one that makes them out to be the victims or good guys even when they're treating those around them in truly awful ways.

#353 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 04:37 PM:

The Hugo mess has hit Library Journal. The article is in the May 1 print issue, in a slightly different form than the online version.

#354 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 04:50 PM:

Mary Aileen @353:

That article is a month old.

#355 ::: Mary Aileenm ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 04:58 PM:

Peace (354): Yes, but it's in the May 1 print issue, which just came out. After I saw that (this afternoon), I checked LJ's website to see if I could link to it and found that version.

#356 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 05:04 PM:

How different are the two versions?

#357 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 05:19 PM:

Library Journal: The Urban Dictionary defines the term “Sad Puppies” as a male pushover type who bows down to females

I've got to admit, this has me laughing hilariously. Did they forget to Google before picking their campaign name?

#358 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 05:56 PM:

The Locus Award nominees have been announced. People who normally rely on the Hugos shortlist for recommendations of good new stuff may want to look over there instead.

Neil, #331: Ah, you're talking about the "Oh, I didn't mean YOU!" bigotry-bingo square.

Steve H, #338: If I read Ms. Wade's comments correctly, Torgerson did use the word "slate" -- but only in passing, and in such a way that it more or less slipped past her, especially since she had been making a concerted effort not to follow the last couple of years' controversy.

I will note that after this year, it's going to be much harder for any author who isn't brand-new in the field to say that they were unaware of the whole mess, or of the specific people involved in it.

In that sense, the SPs are correct that they have largely torpedoed their own careers; they are just still confused (or, in some cases, willfully ignorant) about the reason why.

Cat, #347: I had an inquiry last year from France about shipping something off my website. It was a $10 item, and the cheapest shipping we could find would have been over $20. So, yeah.

abi, #356: The online version is definitely behind the curve on recent developments, which is no surprise and not their fault. Being that it is online, though, they might want to consider amending it with an update.

#359 ::: Laertes ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 06:35 PM:

I was surprised to see Abercrombie's Half a King listed as YA. I imagine that means that I've got the wrong idea, and YA isn't as Y as I think.

#360 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 07:13 PM:

JJ @357: I think that rather fits their self-image perfectly: the maudlin "nice guys" wondering why women they treat with a mixture of hlepful chivalrous door-holding and sullen resentment won't give them the time of day.

(Do we still say 'hlep' around here? Is that still a thing?)

#361 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 07:18 PM:

abi (356): Not very. The main difference is that, in the print version, the quote from LJ SF/fantasy reviewer Megan McArdle is included in the article instead of being a postscript.

Lee (358): I doubt that LJ will update the SP/Hugo article. I was astonished (and pleased) to see that they mentioned it at all. I don't remember them ever mentioning the Hugo Awards in the past. (Not in the main journal, anyway; the SF reviewers will sometimes mention that an author has previously won a Hugo.)

#362 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 07:22 PM:

Thanks for the link to the Locus nominees. I had no idea there was a new series collecting all the Lafferty short stories, though I'm hoping they'll eventually do a cheaper edition.

#363 ::: rcade ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 08:02 PM:

For anyone who still has doubts about whether Sad Puppies reached out to GamerGate:

"Yes, I reached out to them." -- Larry Correia in a comment today on his blog

I don't get what some right-wing SF/F authors see in GamerGate. How does it help the credibility or reputation of anything they're involved in to willfully associate themselves with that toxic crowd? Correia and Torgersen have taken some steps to distance themselves from Day, but the GamerGate affiliation doesn't seem to bother them at all.

#364 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 08:46 PM:

rcade@363: "I don't get what some right-wing SF/F authors see in GamerGate."


Go back to Torgersen's comment quoted in @300, about Scalzi. "If you know what I mean." *That's* what I remember from my brief (unpleasant) scans of the KotakuInAction board. I can't quote the exact line, but it was the same tone: we don't know if these people (some people) are men, or women, or something in between. *If you know what I mean.*

It's sliming not just as an insult, but as a public performance of identity. Look! We're the people who share the secret knowledge that LBGTQ people are gross! Fist bump.

...We all do the public performance thing. I did it above when I stuck the word "unpleasant" in as a gloss. I took an implicit stance to reassure you I'm on your team. Torgersen takes his stance, and it's identical to that of the GGers.

Note that I'm not talking about the white-hot end of the thermal spectrum, the Vox Days and his equivalents among GG. KIA is the respectable buffer, the ones who insist they oppose harassment. Nonetheless: they have their signals, including obvious ones like "SJW" as a shorthand. Also, calling someone not so manly, *if you know what I mean*.

It's the same crowd.

#365 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 08:55 PM:

Laertes @#359

These days YA spans from "those books for teens that are barely readable if you have read at least one book in the genre and you are over 12" to "all books with protagonist in their teens". A lot of good SF/Fantasy is hiding under this label - and some of it does not have the "protagonist really does not make hard choices because someone else does it for them" flaw that so many YA books have...

#366 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 09:41 PM:

Irony: the numbers for the 1984 nominations - without nominees attached, just the numbers - have a note that says:
Please do not publish in a form that shows how easy it is to stuff the ballot box.

#367 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 09:48 PM:

@ 363 - Well. There's a thing.

#368 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 10:16 PM:

For anyone who still has doubts about whether Sad Puppies reached out to GamerGate:

This will be the seventh link I've collected on this subject. I'm not sure many of the GGs took the SPs seriously, but I take it very seriously, because regardless of what GGs may or may not have done it's a serious intimidation move aimed at women.

It's like a situation where two men are arguing loudly and intensely about something which those two men find important. One of the women nearby opens her mouth and before she can talk the nastier of the two men turns to her and says, "This isn't about you. Bitches should shut up!"

Merely bringing Gamergate into the fight is a misogynistic dick move. I'm not even sure whether there were lots of GG votes (as opposed to ordinary partisans who voted the slate) or whether the Puppies even cared much whether GG voted at all. They wanted the intimidation value.

#369 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 10:28 PM:

@ 368 Alex R -- I doubt the Gaters DID much, honestly, but yeah, just reaching out in the first place was Not Good. If we know people by the allies they choose, then we know everything we need to know about Correia's chunk of the Puppies from that.

#370 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 10:41 PM:

If we know people by the allies they choose...

As Lovecraft said, "by their foulness ye shall know them." I think from now on I'll be calling Puppies by an appropriately Lovecraftian moniker: The Hounds of Swindle-os!

#371 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 10:54 PM:

Alex, #368: That's a good point, and worth remembering. I've heard some people pooh-pooh the "reached out to GG" thing on the basis of "not enough of those people would have cared to make any real difference in the numbers" (which I believe is a variety of wishful thinking), and the point that the approach in and of itself was an intimidation move is a good counter to that.

UrsulaV, #369: "And the pig got up and slowly walked away..."

#372 ::: rcade ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 11:08 PM:

If you were running a convention, and you knew a pro was willingly associated with Gamergate, wouldn't you be reluctant to invite that pro as a guest?

Correia began Sad Puppies by stating in part that it was motivated by a belief he was being ostracized by cons.

His decision to link himself to Gamergate seems like a great way to be ostracized by cons.

#373 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 04, 2015, 11:23 PM:

His decision to link himself to Gamergate seems like a great way to be ostracized by cons.

Wingnut Strategy 473: When in doubt, create a self-fulfilling prophecy and blame others when it comes to pass.

In response to myself above, maybe "Hounds of Spin-dalos" would be funnier...

#374 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 12:13 AM:

Alex R @370: let's give credit where it's due, and make it a Long-term reference. "The Hounds of Tindalos" is a story by Frank Belknap Long, and the title of his first short story collection, from Arkham House. Yes, it's a Cthulhu Mythos story -- but that doesn't make it a Lovecraft tale.

#375 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 01:08 AM:

#370: So, Tom, you're saying that Arkham House made a Long story short?

#376 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 01:24 AM:

@ 374 - Your mythos-fu is superior to mine.

#377 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 01:26 AM:

(Oops, that was a reference to #374.)

Due to an accidental exposure to a burst of neutrinos in a long-ago experiment, I am cursed with a dual personality. When I read Alex R's remark in #370, I could feel the fearsome and monstrous nitpicker within, straining to escape.

Before the fiend could reach my keyboard, bent on wreaking untold havoc upon the Net, I saw that Tom had already posted a response at #374. The terrible tension of an uncorrected Frank Belknap Long reference having been relaxed, I was able to distract the beast and bring him under control.

Until next time.

#378 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 02:18 AM:

As HE would say: "Some of these games go way back." And given that my middle name is Sherman....

(I think Brucifer would forgive me for having two references and a pun, rather than two puns and a reference. Which is a reference Don Fitch will get, and maybe a few others.)

(So, you're angry all the time, Bill H?)

#379 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 02:43 AM:

No, he's pedantic all the time.

And I wonder, sometimes, about the source of the blood transfusion I received in 2004.

#380 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 02:45 AM:

I have an uncomfortable feeling that I wasn't so good, thirty or so years ago. Some things might be down to lack of experience: I'd never met anyone I knew was gay. And I had grown up a world where the media could use stereotyped gayness as a joke. For example, Larry Grayson.

Times have changed. I must have had my good points, even then, but I might still say something regrettable today.

I try not to persist in such stupidities.

I look at this whole thing, and see a touch of my own past self, and see something that I might have as a fond memory warped into obsession with a dishonesty topping.

#381 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 03:01 AM:

When I read Alex R's remark in #370, I could feel the fearsome and monstrous nitpicker within, straining to escape.

I'm glad I didn't get corrected twice. Two Longs don't make a right.*

* Unless you ship Heinlein-style genetically approved incest.

#382 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 03:35 AM:

A thought:
You know how Larry Correia (and John C. Wright, Brad Torgersen etc.) do book bombs, where readers are asked to buy a specific book at a pre-arranged time to drive up Amazon ranking? They are organised campaigns to game the Amazon algorithm. Book bombs don't appear to contravene Amazon's ToS and while it can cause a spike in ranking, it erodes the reliability of Amazon ranking as a marker or popularity/quality*.

The link between book bombs on Amazon and the SP slate on the Hugo nominations is left as an exercise for the reader.

*Not that I use Amazon ranking as a reliable indicator of quality; I've read enough articles describing how easily gameable the system is.

#383 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 04:51 AM:

The Hounds of Whine-a-lot?

#384 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 06:01 AM:

Dave Bell #380: I have an uncomfortable feeling that I wasn't so good, thirty or so years ago.

In line with another conversation, the social norms have been changing since then. Considering just gays, gay-bashing is widely recognized as a crime and prosecuted -- not universally, but these days, the offenders increasingly have to defend themselves rather than exulting, and "he came on to me" is an increasingly flimsy defense. More to the point, the prejudice is more and more widely socially disapproved -- these days, even politicians and religious leaders usually need to cover a public call for discrimination with a disclaimer.

Blacks are getting the same basic process, but on a longer, slower, trajectory. I suspect their slower path is mostly because of the economic factors; capitalism does need its pool of downtrodden labor.

Which in turn suggests that ironically, the age of offshoring, outsourcing, and the 1% may be redounding to blacks' long-term benefit... it gets much harder to keep an underclass down if you don't have a carrot to go with the stick.

#385 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 08:04 AM:

David Harmon @384: I am pathetically pleased that we are finally, in a few states, getting case law that doesn't support the blanket ability to use "But I found out she used to BE A MAN, your honor! I had sex with her and she made me be accidentally ex-post-facto QUEER!" as a get-out-of-aggravated-murder-free card.

Mind, in most states it's still a perfectly valid argument to turn Murder In The First with Depraved Heart into involuntary manslaughter, so we're not home free yet, but at least the legal arguments are being BUILT.

(I'm not sure why "but kicking someone to death IS WRONG" isn't a valid legal argument, in my heart of hearts, though my mind knows you need a lot more complicated Latin than that)

#386 ::: rcade ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 08:44 AM:

"Book bombs don't appear to contravene Amazon's ToS ..."

I can't imagine Amazon complaining when authors conspire to sell more books on its site.

#387 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 09:45 AM:

Eh, buncha people I know used to do book bombs. It was the marketing wisdom of the day.

I say "used to" because we've all mostly stopped, when it turned out that five minutes on the bestseller list wasn't actually helping anything.

I'm surprised that anyone's still doing them, but then again, clinging to the relics of an outmoded past seems to be a popular theme in some quarters.

#388 ::: Aaron ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 10:06 AM:

I can't imagine Amazon complaining when authors conspire to sell more books on its site.

I don't know if book bombs actually result in more sales. They just seem to be aimed at concentrating when the sales happen.

#389 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 10:15 AM:

Serge @ #383

Be careful suggesting that, you may get a cartooney from Spillers Purina Nestle.

Then again, maybe the puppies are eating their own young dog food; they cerainly seem to be believing their own propaganda.

#390 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 10:27 AM:

What bothers me about the book bombs is the out-and-out hypocrisy of it. On the one hand, when it's to bash the Hugos, bestseller lists are a mark of quality so sterling as to make it a moral duty to subvert a nomination process that does not sufficiently favor bestseller status. On the other hand, when you like a book, it's perfectly okay to subvert the bestseller lists to the degree that you can.

Consistent reasoning is plainly a hobgoblin that does not trouble the limpid surface of the Puppy mind, but still.

#391 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 11:05 AM:

May I be excused a small rant?

I've been reading and reviewing the nominated stuff, and a couple of the withdrawn entries (the details are on my LJ, linked from my name), and I am starting to draw certain conclusions.

I started with some of the withdrawn things - the Annie Bellet story, Marko Kloos's novel, Matthew Surridge's reviews - and my expectations were sort of calibrated around those. The Bellet story, well, it has things wrong with it, but by and large it works. Marko Kloos's novels are fluent, fast-moving and entertaining, at least. Matthew Surridge can write, and he is informative and entertaining.

So, I was sort of expecting the actual Puppy entries to be around this level. But then I found a link (through File 770) to four out of the five short story entries, and I've just finished reading and commenting, and, to sum up:-

Kary English, "Totaled" - readable but completely routine treatment of a well-worn SFnal concept.

Steve Rsaza, "Turncoat" - action-SF of such dire and complete predictability that failure to guess the outcome from the title and first page may be an indication of clinical death.

John C. Wright, "The Parliament of Beasts and Birds" - heapings of purple prose surrounding a kernel of absolutely nothing.

Lou Antonelli, "On a Spiritual Plain" - nameless, faceless, personality-free protagonist faces a plot with no drama, challenge or interest whatsoever, despite a potentially fascinating concept behind it.

None of these stories is even remotely worthy of any sort of award. The Kary English one is the best of the bunch, and it's inoffensive filler material. The Wright and Antonelli stories suck so hard you could clean carpets with them.

And here's the thing that gets me: the politics or religion of the authors is not the issue. In fact, their political and religious views are barely visible, sunk as they are in a morass of lousy writing.

The Sads and Rabids are nothing to do with politics. I'm sure they'd like to think they are, I suspect some of them honestly believe they are. But they're not. They're a like-minded clique of bad writers who want validation, and who would rather whine and game the system than knuckle down and do the work of becoming less bad writers.

They surround themselves with a sort of Internet echo chamber, feeding back to them how wonderful and how oppressed they are, and they do not even consider the possibility that they might just not be good enough to win awards. Because it is a lot easier to listen to "you are wonderful, and it's only the evil leftist conspiracy that's keeping you from recognition!" than to "Your writing sucks. Find a good critique group and work on your problems."

- Sorry. Rather larger rant than I'd planned. (But I've just spent half the morning looking for the point of that John C. Wright story, and I am cross.)

#392 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 11:23 AM:

@391 The standard Puppy response to your complaint re: quality seems to be "taste is subjective, you can't PROVE the writing is bad, nyah nyah."

I've never had the energy to argue with that sort of literary nihilism. YMMV.

#393 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 11:34 AM:

Cat @ 348: AFAIK, Worldcons have never hired overseas agents; agents are fans or organizations who volunteer for the work, just as their fellow lunatics (e.g., me) volunteer for all the other posts needed to make a Worldcon happen. (Existing groups, with or without ambitions, are especially useful; e.g., Boston remailed PRs for ConFiction (1990).) IMNSHO, finding and keeping volunteers is \the/ essential skill of a Worldcon committee.

I no longer find sea-mail options in USPS; I don't know why or when they dropped this, but I suppose it's just another instance of putting the "service" (var) in "USPS". But that just makes agented shipments more relevant.

OtterB @ 350: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest has a classic example: people told the truth about a ]Native American[ residence simply discard it. The filter doesn't have to include prejudice, just a restriction on what can be believed.

A. J. Luxton @ 360: I've learned "hep", which is useful because it can be pronounced (and because you can tell someone they've got an excess 'l').

#394 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 11:36 AM:

Speaking of Amazon, I hear they're bringing an old Frank Belknap Long collection back into "print" with a special e-book edition.

Keep an eye out for The Hounds of Kindleos.

#395 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 11:36 AM:

Steve Wright asked @ #391:

May I be excused a small rant?

No. Instead you will be actively encouraged to rant at length, in detail, and with footnotes (if you so desire) by this moose.

That was splendid: complete, concise, and to the point. We need more "rants" like that one. I'd also like to thank you for the indirect links to the short stories that I may investigate once I've read The Three Body Problem and The Goblin Emperor, which hardcovers have recently arrived on the "to read" stack. (This moose is mildly peeved that the Ann Leckie books are not available in hardcover, since they're now on the "automatic purchase" list, and I prefer hardcovers for things which will be extensively re-read.) (Yes, of course the Subterranean Press h/c of Ancillary Justice has been preordered.)

#396 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 11:37 AM:

391/392: Moreover, that sort of complaint is exactly the kind of thing the SPs/RPs say about the works that win Hugos. What we see as good writing with complex plots and strong characterization, they see as literary preciousness and too many words that just get in the way of the action, the FUN!

I'm not sure that this is a gap which can ever be bridged.

#397 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 11:45 AM:

391/392: There exist people who deeply enjoy that kind of writing, who are invigorated by it and rise from their chair full of verve and excitement to find other works by those authors.

And that's an amazing piece of SFnal worldbuilding for you.

#398 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 11:48 AM:

Lee @396 - all I can say is, I am closer in spirit to the Star-Spawn of Cthulhu than I am to any mentality that can find fun in "The Parliament of Beasts and Birds".

I mean, it's not like I have massively high standards. I'm a Blake's Seven fan, for crying out loud.

#399 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 11:49 AM:

CHip @393

So Worldcons have to choose between sending a few things the expensive way to a small number of fans in, say New Zealand, or finding a volunteer in New Zealand with the knowledge and interest to receive a container at the docks and ship everything inside it to local addresses.

There may come a point where "con booklets going to New Zealand" reaches such a point that it would be financially better to do this, and it may be that greater interest among New Zealand fen will turn up someone who knows how to do this who is also willing to volunteer their time to the con (I wouldn't have the faintest idea how to arrange to receive a container, but I suppose there are directions available at the point for people who want to become first-time receivers). But is it reasonable to suppose that the one does not guarantee the other, and in the absence of the other, shipping responsibilities to New Zealand supporting members still must be met and may eat a substantial portion of that $40?

#400 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 11:52 AM:

@397 Apologies if I've misunderstood, but are you saying that such people do not actually exist? For values of "exist" that would exclude our good friend Breq, I mean.

#401 ::: JonW ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 11:56 AM:

Nancy@#362: I've got the first two volumes of the R.A. Lafferty collection. Jerad at Centipede Press puts out well-made, attractive, books-as-physical-artifacts. But it makes them pricy.

#402 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 11:59 AM:

re Sarah@392: The answer to a puppy making that argument is "That's a liberal's argument. You're supposed to be above all that."

#403 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 12:12 PM:

I've not tried to read any of the Puppy stuff yet. I tried last year, and the nominations were, in my view, sub-standard. That's different to not liking the story. Competent writing is an essential, I think, and I am not claiming competence when I say, based on last year, I can write better than that.

There are a few works from the slate I might read. On all I hear, Jim Butcher deserves at least that. I am still uncertain as to whether to vote anything but No Award on some categories.

Yes, I write. I'd call it fan-fic level. As for the rest, judge for yourself.

Andromeda Todd looked nothing at all like a soldier, being a smartly-dressed vixen in the prime of her life, walking down a London street and looking for a particular taxi. She took after her mother, of course, just as her twin brother was the same sort of skinny ursine as their father, and his father before him. Her mother’s side of the family was solidly English. Perhaps somebody who knew what to look for would have noticed the alertness she had, the awareness of her surroundings. And her sandals were rather more practical than one might expect the niece of a Duke to wear, though everyone knew that the Duke of Stepney was inclined to be unconventional.

And so she saw the Taxi, one of the new urban hybrid models, combining a small diesel (fuelled by vegetable oil) with a big battery. It wasn’t widely known, but a good many of the cabbies were getting the money for those expensive new vehicles from Stepney Estates. Stepney Estates would make money from it, but they were not charging as much as the banks would have.

Except it was not a real taxi. It looked almost like one, but the radio aerial was a little wrong. Still, the number plate was what she had been told, and the number on the cabbie’s badge was right, and he greeted her with the words she had been told to expect. So she held her outward calmness, and if something was wrong, she was not going to give in easily. But her Uncle had warned her to be on her best behaviour, and so she sat back on the rather comfortable seat, and enjoyed the ride. She didn't know London so well, but this fake taxi was staying in a well-known part of the city. She knew Buckingham Palace Road well enough, and it was no real surprise that it turned into the Royal Mews.

If that was the game, she knew how to play it.

I think that tells you a fair bit, but I am not sure it's so good as a first page. Some of it is the sort of thing that might be the background to the opening titles of a film. And maybe a later scene would be the pre-credits attention-grabber. I have a few ideas on that. The second paragraph isn't quite right, it might lose a sentence.

On the other hand, I don't blow the whole plot with the first page. The idea that a movie has to set the whole thing up before the credits isn't really true: think of how the standard opening of a James Bond movie is almost independent of the plot, although sometimes it turns out to matter.

And maybe being able to ask these questions maybe makes me more than puppy-chow as a writer.

#404 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 12:17 PM:

Bother, I missed the typos...

A big thing for me is that there is a spectrum, from fan to pro, and the big names I have met, the Hugo winners and such, don't feel that different. We may disagree on politics but we're part of the same thing.

And the Sad Puppies have behaved like outsiders.

#405 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 12:19 PM:

Here's how the argument goes:
"Taste is subjective, so you can't prove what is and isn't good writing."

A: "That's [sort of] postmodernism, which is a liberal idea."
B: "You're wrong because of reasons."

if A: "But YOU'RE a liberal so YOU must believe that taste is subjective, therefor I win."
if B: "No, I'm right because taste is subjective, therefor I win."

*shrug* It's like playing tic-tac-toe. I might as well write a piece of software to have the argument for me. I'd probably learn more in the process.

#406 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 12:20 PM:

@400: No, I'm trying to say they do exist (and are not me. Or clearly our Steve Wright). And that trying to figure out how to put oneself in that kind of head is as much an exercise in understanding alien mindsets as reading Breq-narrated novels.

#407 ::: Aaron ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 12:27 PM:

Apropos of nothing much, VD has revealed his often hinted at master plan for "disrupting science fiction publishing".

It is to sell e-books directly from a web platform he plans to create. That's it. That's the diabolical plot that will destroy Tor, make him more a popular author than George R.R. Martin, and reshape fandom in his image.

He has confidently predicted that within two years his platform will sell 10,000 e-books per month (yes, per month), and that within four years all of the current major science fiction publishing houses will be dead.

Color me unimpressed.

#408 ::: Becca Stareyes ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 12:27 PM:
On the other hand, I don't blow the whole plot with the first page. The idea that a movie has to set the whole thing up before the credits isn't really true: think of how the standard opening of a James Bond movie is almost independent of the plot, although sometimes it turns out to matter.

One neat thing about a recent Writing Excuses podcast is it kind of explained that as 'promises to the audience'. The Bond opening* doesn't promise a specific plot, but a type of plot: James Bond is a competent action hero in a setting where these are very useful skills, and this is a story where his skills will be tested.

Even without giving away the plot, you establish what sort of story you'll be telling. If you show a Bond opening scene and have a terse legal drama, or a romantic comedy** after that, the audience is going to be annoyed with you.

* Or the first two Newsflesh books by Mira Grant.
** And not the sort of thing where you are mixing genres, but the sort of thing where it seems like your opening came from another movie/book.

#409 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 12:43 PM:

He's a bit late to that, isn't he?

#410 ::: rcade ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 12:43 PM:

Jim Butcher made another tentative toe-dip into the Hugos controversy on Twitter.

He was asked, "Where do you stand on the "Sad Puppies" group and their attempt to influence the Hugo awards nominations this year?"

He replied, "I think we'll see what people think when the voting goes down. :)"

His questioner replied, "I feel shitty. You deserve to win, but in a fair and open competition, not because a hate group stacked the vote."

#411 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 12:50 PM:

Aaron @407 - That's not a terrible plan. I mean the predictions seem a little ambitious, but it's actually aimed in the right direction.

It's a pity that no one else in the entire world is able to set up a web platform and sell e-books from it, including the current major SF publishers, or there would be an obvious counter strategy.

#412 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 01:07 PM:

Aaron @ 407... "Fools! I will crush you all!"

#413 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 01:18 PM:

Aaron @407:

Anyone who has spent a modicum of time around Absolute Write's Bewares, Recommendations, and Background Checks forum has a reasonable idea how know-it-all outsiders coming in to take over dinosaur publishing tend to end up. Publishing is kind of the business equivalent of Afghanistan, Graveyard of Empires.

So's gaming, which is the last industry that Day announced he was going to revolutionize. It's another notoriously difficult nut to crack, and he didn't manage to crack it.

Really, the only thing to do when he makes these pronouncements is to nod and stifle one's yawns. If they come about, well, then I'll be interested. But he makes a lot of pronouncements and very few of them come true.

(Yes, he has succeeded at gaming the Hugos for a year or two. But they've been around a long old time, and I think they'll outlast him and his kennel-mates.)

#414 ::: Kelly Jennings ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 01:30 PM:

I think the big problem with VD's plan is that he will have to find SF/F novels that 10,000 people want to buy.

I can see people wanting to buy the Pournelle re-reprint. (Not me. But some people.)

After that? He can only sell so many revisions and re-revisions and re-re-revisions of John C. Wright stories before he exhausts the patience of even his most faithful minions, after all.

#415 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 01:40 PM:

Kelly @414:

It'll be easy. All he has to do is to provide a venue for proper SF, stuff that's rejected by the SJW-infested publishing houses that care more about making a political statement than making money selling lots of books.

#416 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 01:56 PM:

You can find fans for anything. Never mind just Blake's Seven, there is an apparently viable niche market for novels involving forcible sex with dinosaurs. (I haven't read any of them myself, for possibly guessable reasons, so I can't comment as to their literary quality. But they are out there. Some might say, way out there.)

It is even possible - such is the magic of the Internet - to surround yourself entirely with fans of the forcible-dinosaur-sex genre, to the point where the whole thing seems mainstream, and one can comfortably believe that forcible-dinosaur-sex books are the only kind of literature that matters, and you even get to look askance at weirdoes who think sex with dinosaurs should be consensual.... And people within this bubble (as with any other bubble) get all defensive about outsiders coming in and criticizing them, and will stick up for their own, no matter what. Even if they may privately feel that one of their authors, call him "Jim G. Wrong", is factually incorrect about important details of velociraptor fellation, they won't say so in front of outsiders. Solidarity with fellow forcible-dinosaur-sex writers is more important than mere facts, after all.

(I really wish I was making more of that up, you know.)

#417 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 02:14 PM:

Steven Wright @ 416: Dinosaur--rape stories? Or some "forcible" BDSM variant thereof? Ew, ew, ew! Where'd I put the brain bleach?!?

(All of which is to say: yes, I believe you, and I get your point. I also agree about the way closed-interest communities can work. After all, the human animal is endlessly peculiar in its fascinations . . . but really. Ick.)

#418 ::: Aaron ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 02:14 PM:

Anyone who has spent a modicum of time around Absolute Write's Bewares, Recommendations, and Background Checks forum has a reasonable idea how know-it-all outsiders coming in to take over dinosaur publishing tend to end up. Publishing is kind of the business equivalent of Afghanistan, Graveyard of Empires.

Oh sure. I want to make clear that I brought it up because of the complete ridiculousness of the supposed "master plan". VD has been talking ominously about this throughout the entire Puppy debacle, claiming that he would leave Tor a "smoking ruin" as a result of his machinations. And then when he lets the cat out of the bag his plot is to sell e-books cheaply. I'm sure that all the publishing world is a-tremble.

And his aim doesn't even seem to be that high. 10,000 books a month is basically two or three pretty good selling books each month. Does he really think he's going to completely change the publishing world by putting out twenty-five to thirty-five or so moderate selling books per year?

It is just so banal, and so trivial.

#419 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 02:23 PM:

Buddha Buck@415

Right. The books that now all those authors are selling from their blogs, publishing on their own or any of the number of POD publishers and online platforms out there and so on? Oh hold on - this is not happening actually. Not in any meaningful numbers anyway.

10 years ago that may have been a credible treat. Today? Only in someone's dreams...

#420 ::: Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 02:32 PM:

@407: I suppose he could steal the Baen's Bar market, but that's hardly likely to affect the rest of the business.

#421 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 02:33 PM:

Torgersen had a story in the March 2014 issue of Analog. I looked at it again and wasn't any more impressed by it than I was last year. (An interstellar colony ship that counts travel time only in days, for more than a hundred years? I don't think so. And the gimmick - well, maybe, but I'd expect them to have found ways to find out about it before they get to sending people out on long long trips.)

#422 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 02:37 PM:

It's actually kind of disappointing. After all of VD's supervillain-style rants and performace art, it turns out that his ambition is to be just one more subject heading at Bewares & Background Checks?

He could have been so much more.

#423 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 03:00 PM:

Dinosaur--rape stories? Or some "forcible" BDSM variant thereof? Ew, ew, ew! Where'd I put the brain bleach?!?

Why didn't I go there when I was writing my deliberately-in-bad-taste Church of the Subgenius stories? I coulda been a contenda!

#424 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 03:03 PM:

It's actually kind of disappointing. After all of VD's supervillain-style rants and performace art...

He wants... one million dollars!

#425 ::: Edmund Schweppe ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 03:09 PM:

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little @422:

After all of VD's supervillain-style rants and performace art, it turns out that his ambition is to be just one more subject heading at Bewares & Background Checks?

Maybe somebody should submit Atlanta Nights to Castalia Press and see if VD notices...

#426 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 03:15 PM:

So where were we? Oh yes disrupting SF publishing.

Amazon disrupted bookselling. This is because to a lot of people buying a book cheaply and having it delivered to their door outweighs the benefits (or hassle) of going to a bookstore. At the end of the day they end up with the same book.

Uber is disrupting taxis because lots of people don't care if their chaffeured on-demand car is provided by a licensed cab or a crowd-sourced app company.

Copyright is a monopoly. Novels are not a commodity. If I want an Ann Leckie novel and I can't get one, then I might buy a John C Wright novel or Jerry Pournelle reprint from Calista house. But if I can get it from Amazon or Orbit or some other website Calista House can't offer me a better deal and can't disrupt the marketplace.

If VD wants to disrupt SF publishing then he needs to offer a couple of dozen free books a month, of fair to good quality and covering the full spectrum of the genre. THAT might suck up enough reading time and attention to cut into the audience. Do that for three or four years and he might put someone out of business. In the end game, a decade and tens of millions of dollars (probably more) later, and he's the only publisher left he can start charging.

Of course no one will pay for it at that point, having got used to free books, so the only people who can publish SF are the independently wealthy...

My, that is cunning of my fictional version of VD.

#427 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 03:20 PM:

When I was growing up, the most popular cartoon was "Nu pogodi" ("Well, Just You Wait!" is the best translation) - it was the thing almost anyone in Eastern Europe from my generation grew up with I guess. I keep seeing VD in the role of the wolf there - and every passing day makes me associating him with that more and more. Which does mean that I am not taking his current antics seriously - but the poor wolf never wins (and ends every episode with mouthing the title) - sending any viewer into a laughing burst. Same with our VD and his plans...

#428 ::: Jenora Feuer ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 03:35 PM:

Bwahaha, I've seen some Nu Pogodi, yes. And I'm Canadian. (Though I have friends from all over, and saw French cartoons while growing up as well as English.)

For those that haven't seen it, the simplest description is that it's sort of like the Coyote/Roadrunner cartoons (including the way words are usually unneeded), except you have a chain-smoking wolf chasing a cute suburban rabbit all over town. Including bits like the wolf climbing a drainspout and the rabbit dropping a potted plant on his head.

#429 ::: Brian Gibbons ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 03:35 PM:

I'm kind of perplexed at the "VD's going to disrupt SF publishing" idea.

If books are fungible, and managing to sell X e-books a year cheaper/easier/with a more user-friendly platform/whatever will suck up all the money that would otherwise go to other publishers then, well, Amazon will get there long before he's even close to relevant.

If books aren't fungible, then the best he can hope to do is corner the market on "the kind of books that puppies like", which means this isn't so much a plan to kill Tor/Orbit/Ace as one to replace Baen.

... which is to say that it sounds like either VD is going to continue to be irrelevant, or Toni Weisskopf is going to end up regretting the decision to go along with that tiger-ride.

Either way, my only concern is where I put the popcorn.

#430 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 03:47 PM:

Neil W #426 - as an aside on the bookselling/ buying, things have degraded enough now that when last in Edinburgh I thought I'd have a look for some books by 3 well known american SF/F authors, looking to buy one or two.
I looked in three shops of 2 chains, and it was worrying how the shelves were a mix of old stuff (from reprints of famous authors of 40 years ago to Iain M. Banks culture novels from the 1990's) and single copies of newer books, albeit with some bigger piles of the book of the moment that was just published. If I wanted anything from last year then there was nothing, there was not a proper distribution of depth to the offerings.

So I went home and ordered one of the books from Amazon instead.

Of course part of the 'problem' (to me anyway) is simply that there is a lot wider area of things on offer under SF&F and they all get shelves together now anyway, so stuff I'm interested in isn't there much. And of course this is the period after Amazon et al have done their work, so bookshops, as directed from the money worshippers on high, are concentrating on mass selling of bestsellers or something like that. Maybe since there are more authors being published than there used to be they can't keep proper stocks of books. But still...

(For your information, authors interested in were Bujold, Carriger and Cherryh - The first and last have never, as far as I recall, been widely in stock, yet I have fantasies that a global city like Edinburgh is trying to be would have them, but no)

#431 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 03:47 PM:

Annie, #427: On this side of the pond, the equivalent would be Wile E. Coyote.

#432 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 03:58 PM:

Steve Wright @391:Thanks. Last year I read through everything with similar findings. This year I'm not bothering and it is good to hear that I am not wrong in my presumption that the quality would be similar.

#433 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 03:58 PM:

Jenora Feuer@428 and Lee@431

I need to get around and watch some of the Wile E. Coyote cartoons. :) I know it is a similar concept but never saw one and when someone is playing a classic comic-book level villain in real life, it is the poor old Wolf that comes into my mind. I almost expect him to raise his hand and say "Just wait". Which he kinda did a few times actually (even without the raised hand).

#434 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 04:00 PM:

If anyone wants to watch some "Nu, pogodi", it's right there.

#435 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 04:36 PM:

guthrie @430:

If you're looking for SF in Edinburgh again, my first suggestion is TransReal, partway up Candlemaker Row from the Grassmarket.

Another good place to go is Pulp Fiction on Bread Street, which does used as well as new books, and includes other genres (particularly crime fiction).

Both of these are independent bookstores, as is my go-to place for SF&F in Amsterdam or the Hague, the fantastic American Book Center.

What's distinctive about all three of these places is that they're curated by interesting, knowledgeable, approachable people. Each of them is marked for me by the interactions with Mike (Transreal), Steve (Pulp Fiction), and Tiemen (the SF&F/YA buyer for ABC, which does more than genre). These guys have great recommendations, are interested in what their customers are reading and enjoying, and generally make stopping by a pleasant experience.

Obviously, online disintermediated eBook shopping may be an entirely different thing, but unless a new business can compete on price, stock, or convenience, it's going to want to depend on the general approachability and friendliness of its staff.

For which, um.

#436 ::: kate ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 04:41 PM:

What bugs me about the book bomb thing is that one of the quote unquote objective measures Beale uses to trumpet the success of the various Puppy books is... Amazon rankings. So he's trumpeting a system that they're consciously and deliberately gaming.

(To be fair to him, he more often uses the star rankings, and not the sales rankings. Which is another, and different, kettle of nonsense.)

#437 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 04:42 PM:

Thanks Abi, embarassingly I had forgotten about Transreal, I'll have a look in it next time. Re. Pulp fiction, a memory flag has popped up that says it is out of business, I think from my walking past it once or twice a few months ago.

#438 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 04:44 PM:

Vox Day - Physics Is The Enemy!

#439 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 04:49 PM:

Well, bah. This is what I get for not living in Embra...old data.

(I popped in there once out of pure curiosity, fell into a conversation with Steve, recommended him a few books, grabbed a few others, chatted more, and then realized two hours had passed and I was very late for my next obligation. An ideal bookshop experience.)

But Transreal is still da bomb.

#440 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 04:50 PM:


But it fits his narrative (and if it does not, it is easy enough to influence). Plus there is a lot of people that really use the Amazon stars rating as a valid comparison tool (to each their own I guess). If you squint very hard, you may see some logic into this (if you are also 8 years old and never had any Logic classes - otherwise it will be a lot of squinting....)

The guy had an agenda. So he had to find enough supporting evidence. And then to start pointing to it hard - and decipher it for everyone.

As much as I am fed up with VD and the rest of the front-runners of all this, I am still surprised when I see people still giving them the benefit of the doubt. On the other hand a fan that is not around the SF related sites and is only marginally in the fandom sees only the tip of the iceberg (and what is in the mainstream media) and the story there can be read exactly as VD wants it to be read. And there the narrative of the Amazon rankings may work*.

*Possibly. Maybe. I suspect that even that is not the case anymore - all his vocal protestations and explanations should have clued anyone in.

#441 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 05:07 PM:

Becca Stareyes @408

Yes, that's the concept I was imperfectly groping for.

And for anyone attacking a challenge such as NaNoWriMo it's all about setting up the idea for the writer as well as the reader. Once I had that passage I had a lot of the basics. Andromeda is a competent ex-soldier, with family connections into the British power structures who are themselves a little unconventional.

I'm blanking on the details of the Sad Puppy efforts last year—they really are that memorable—but that reminder to the author could be part of it. And most good SF is more subtle about such things. It's why everyone knows what Jo Walton means by "in-cluing".

#442 ::: Kelly Jennings ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 05:13 PM:

Except VD has already shown he can't reliably select a good SF story / novel -- that, in fact, when he chooses an SF story or novel to publish or promote, it's going to be howlingly bad.

So his minions might buy it (either because they actually *like* that sort of thing, difficult as that is to picture; or out of sheer slavering loyalty); but no one else will.

Either way, it's difficult to see that adding up to his boasted 10,000 sales a month -- even if he can find, editing, and publish that many texts a month.

I suppose he could skip the editing. (Who would notice?) Still, publishing, even e-publishing, takes time.

No, I don't see it happening.

#443 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 05:24 PM:

Dave Bell @441 - I think I've already been outed as a former NaNoWriMo ML, so obviously I'm all in favour of it....

I don't think it suits everyone's methods of working, but for me it has proven an invaluable method of getting a story out of my head and into first draft form within a reasonable timeframe. The fun starts in December, when I look at it again and start noticing the continuity gaffes, defective characterization, and gaping holes in my plot logic....

#444 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 05:32 PM:

Well - as they will be e-books that he will sell only from his own site, he can report as many sales as he wants technically speaking (taxes implications and so on ignored for simplicity; and even if you account for these, he probably has a plan for minimizing payment using any number of legal European tax-reduction measures).

#445 ::: Doctor Science ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 05:36 PM:

The thing is, I assumed Day was going for an actual business plan: to become the Regenery Publishing of SF, which seems to me to be actually feasible for someone with neither morals nor taste.

But that would actually require him to be building contacts in the conservative blogosphere, and getting himself or someone else picked up by FoxNews.

He turns out to be both lazier and stupider than I expected. Wow.

#446 ::: Cubist ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 05:53 PM:

VD, have an honest-to-Mammon business plan? Like Annie Y @440 said: "…I am still surprised when I see people still giving [VD] the benefit of the doubt."

#447 ::: Michael Eochaidh ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 06:44 PM:

I don't think Beale is a good candidate for the Regenery model. He's a liability now, and does anyone seriously think he'd be willing to toe any party line but his own?

#448 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 06:47 PM:

guthrie @ 430: and frankly anyone else frustrated with bookstores. I'm told by someone more in the know than me that if you ask for books and authors a bookstore does not have in stock, you *can* influence future purchases. Even in big box locations. Like voting, one person doing it won't have much effect, but when several people do, it can tip the scales, and they'll take note. If every person who looked for Cherryh or Bujold and didn't find her asked, her books might well appear.

(NB, this still doesn't work for self-pubbed books, and local authors can get a certain "did she just send in her friends en masse?" speculation. I don't think Bujold or Cherryh would suffer that speculation, though...)

#449 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 07:37 PM:

Annie Y @444

Some of those EU tax loopholes got slammed shut in January, but that would have no effect on sales to customers in the USA. Except maybe for how to prove they're real customers. If he were selling ebooks to fake customers as a way of getting money into the EU he could have new problems. But that would be a crazy scheme for other logistic reasons.

(One of my characters in that story mentions such an idea, and then says it would be like trying to hide Windsor Castle.)

#450 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 08:12 PM:

Dave Bell @449

His plans started long before January though. And the core of his readers will be in the States anyway.

Plus 10 000 @ 1 cent each does not move that much money but technically gets his stated goals accomplished. Not that I can see him moving that many books even at this price but then more surprising things had happened.

#451 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 09:16 PM:

Bill Higgins @ #394 Keep an eye out for The Hounds of Kindleos.

I read that out loud, and then had to remind my spouse that I was holding a cup of coffee, and would not be responsible for any spills that occurred if he tickled me in retaliation.

#452 ::: 'As You Know' Bob ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2015, 11:56 PM:

Aaron at #407: He has confidently predicted that within two years his platform will sell 10,000 e-books per month (yes, per month), and that within four years all of the current major science fiction publishing houses will be dead.

Pfft. Beale once again shows himself to be unmoored from reality.

Even 10,000 ebooks per month - and I doubt that the world contains that many people clamoring for, say, Wright's delusions - is less than a million-dollar-per-year business.

And while I suppose it's theoretically possible that "all of the current major science fiction publishing houses will be dead" in four years - - if it ever DOES come to pass, it won't be because of anything Beale does.

#453 ::: AnnieY ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 12:06 AM:

But if it happens, he will take credit for it and even find a way to prove it (with the logic and conclusion drawing I had seen from him, I am absolutely sure that he can take credit for anything he wishes to and even believe it). :)

#454 ::: 'As You Know' Bob ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 12:28 AM:

But if it happens, he will take credit for it and even find a way to prove it ...

And so? Beale is delusional: a broken and failed human.

Why worry about what the sad little man will claim, when he always claims victory?

#455 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 12:46 AM:

"And this brings us to the crux of this post, which is: I wish to lodge a complaint that my red shirt has yet to arrive, and furthermore, Why did no one tell me about Margarita Night?"

#456 ::: Dela ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 12:50 AM:

@ #391 Steve:

I'm also reading my way through the Puppy slate on the Hugo ballot. I'm not bothering with the stuff that has been withdrawn from the ballot, and I have not yet read the Kary English story.

Of the remaining ones you mention, yep, I agree with your assessment of those stories.

Given Puppy campaign descriptions of the sort of fiction that interests them, as well as the various works and writers they have insulted and belittled throughout their campaign, I assumed upon starting my Hugo reading that we had different tastes (as well as very different ideas about professionalism and good manners). But I had assumed I'd be reading competent professional stories.

I was wrong. If someone just showed me most of these stories this as text, without identifying the source, I'd have guessed this was slushpile material that had been or would soon be rejected. Because most of these stories seems so clumsy and amateur, both in terms of story content and also writing style.

A few of the Analog picks are just flat and tedious. Most of the other stories I've read so far are embarrassingly bad. All of the works I've read from Castalia House read like stuff penned by aspiring writers who are nowhere near ready for publication.

Which also exposes the absence of ability in the Castalia editor, Vox Day, who appears twice on the Hugo ballot. So he will, like these stories, be beaten by "No Award" on my ballot--because of *quality*, no matter how much the Puppies might choose to rage that I'm voting this way because of politics or a conspiracy.

I agree with you, Steve--if the Puppies and their pals want awards, they need to learn to write. So far, nothing on the Puppy slate merits an award nomination, and most of it, IMHO, doesn't even merit publication.

#457 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 01:00 AM:

@454 'As You Know' Bob

More amused than worried.

#458 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 02:47 AM:

Doctor Science@445: "But that would actually require him to be building contacts in the conservative blogosphere, and getting himself or someone else picked up by FoxNews."

He already has those contacts. His father is a primo wingnut and the son was for years a writer at WorldNetDaily. TD seems to have some channel to Breitbart as well—puppy stuff sometimes appears there. Fox News? Who knows? He does have money, which can help in such a venture.

#459 ::: Teacake-aiji ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 03:37 AM:

One thing that impressed me in all of this er.. Sturm und Drang... about the Puppies is how little anyone of them actually talk about the novels/stories/whatevers that they are defending. Lots of raging and roaring about SJWs and conspiracies, but no discussion of great characters, plots, lines, insights.. you know, that old-fashioned hippy-dippy stuff that most people seem to care about when they read stories.

One wonders why that is, paidhiin. One wonders intently. If one were of a suspicious disposition, one might even think that they didn't really care about stories. That they had possibly not even read the stories they nominated.

#460 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 04:44 AM:

Dave Bell @ #449:

My non-expert reading of the summaries of the law indicates that you need to establish the location of an extra-EU customer to the same degree as for an intra-EU customer, to qualify for the VAT exemption.

I hope I'm wrong.

#461 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 07:09 AM:

Teacake-aiji @459 - I'm going to generalize from the Puppy nominations I have read, here. I suspect that they're not talking about their favourite stories because they would very quickly run out of things to say.

I mean... the Puppies are supposed to be all about thrilling SF adventure, right? Heavy on action and exciting hard-SF concepts? Of the four I've read, the only one that comes close to that is the Rsaza story, and you run up pretty quickly against the limits of its severely predictable plot. Once they've finished talking over the technical specs of the torpedoes and the hypervelocity molybdenum shards, the Puppies would be reduced to saying things like, "and then, there's the way the AI changes sides! Gosh-wow, I never saw that amazing plot twist coming, in a story called 'Turncoat'!"

Of the others.... I was going to say that "Totaled" manages about as much excitement as you can realistically expect, given that its protagonist is a brain in a jar. However, thinking about it... that's not actually true. The brain isn't privy to any desperate secrets that it must somehow communicate to the outside world; there are no sinister foreign agents sneaking around the laboratories by night; there isn't even a nail-biting scene where a clumsy researcher puts the brain's jar down too close to the edge of a table.

"The Parliament of Beasts and Birds" is all talk, and dull talk at that. As for "On a Spiritual Plain"... the protagonist is lectured at, and goes for a long bus ride.

In fact, if the Puppies talk about these stories, they are going to have to face up to the fact that they're failures on the Puppies' own terms. They want slam-bang action and high-concept SF, and this lot does not deliver that. And discussing these stories would mean admitting that. Far better, for them, to moan about the iniquities of the (non-existent) conspiracy against them.

(Maybe there will be more excitement in the categories I've not read yet... but, on present showing, I'm not holding my breath.)

#462 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 08:39 AM:

I think you are all underestimating VD.

His plan is not just based on the Internet, but on the World Wide Web and eBooks, which are the Next Big Thing!

Surely such a cunning plan cannot fail!

#463 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 09:06 AM:

Teacake-aiji @ #459: If one were of a suspicious disposition, one might even think that they didn't really care about stories. That they had possibly not even read the stories they nominated.

In a selfish way, I hope that's true -- it always terrifies me to see people proudly showing off terrible workmanship; it feeds my fear that I'm incompetent at everything and just can't tell.

#464 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 10:05 AM:

I think The Hot Equations was excellent (interesting and plausible ideas, clearly expressed-- I don't know how to judge the math), but I gather the puppies aren't discussing that, either.

The link goes to the author's site, not to anything of Day's.

#465 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 10:41 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz @464 - Burnside's essay comes strongly recommended at the Atomic Rockets website, which is itself a useful resource for people who want to put some real physics into their hard SF.

Burnside himself has been enough of a *coughcoughcough* about the Sad Puppies thing that I begrudge spending even the 99 cents, though... I will wait until the Hugo voting packet arrives, and give it a good hard look then.

(I note in passing, btw, that the Atomic Rockets guys are quite adamant about "stealth in space is impossible", but Steve Rsaza's story has his AI warships coasting indetectably at one point... either Rsaza hasn't read this stuff, or he disagrees with it.)

#466 ::: Aaron ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 10:47 AM:

His plan is not just based on the Internet, but on the World Wide Web and eBooks, which are the Next Big Thing!

The publishing world trembles in the face of his business plan from 2005.

#467 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 10:54 AM:

I just read the four short story nominees that I've been able to find. Here are my thoughts on finishing each one, in the order I read them (which turns out to also be increasing order of how much I liked them).

The Parliament of Beasts and Birds:
Started off purple, couldn't decide what sort of story it wanted to be, and in the end the whole thing was eaten by an allegory.

On a Spiritual Plain:
Interesting concept, unremarkable execution, and referring to a 1:4:9 ratio as the "Golden Mean" will throw me clear out of a story every time.

Some nice action, if a bit heavy on the tech specs.

Definitely the strongest of the four, but somehow I can't think of much definite to say about it. The ebook version of the Best of Galaxy's Edge 2013-2014 anthology, which contains Totaled among many other stories, is on sale (or at least was 12 hours ago) for 99¢ at Amazon. I don't think I can vote for a story as best of the year when it isn't even the best eligible one in its anthology.

#468 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 11:06 AM:

#465 ::: Steve Wright

"No stealth in space" makes me want to see a story about a crew being caught by surprise because their surveillance system had been suborned. (Isn't suborned a great word? I learned it from Dune.)

#469 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 11:19 AM:

As a writer, "no stealth in space" is one of those arguments that I find fascinating. Which side I come down on depends, of course, on the needs of the story. (One of my works-in-progress involves a ship that is pretending to be a comet. It is aided by the fact that no one is actively looking for it.)

#470 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 11:29 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz @468 - I agree. Since the physics over at Atomic Rockets seems to hold up, then (in the absence of some sufficiently-advanced-technology "cloaking device") if we're going to have any sort of "stealth in space", it would have to involve some sort of cheating.

Suborning the observers' sensors (I agree, it's a great word), or some sort of misdirection, so that they're looking for the wrong thing and not noticing the right thing.... Yes, there are possibilities here, I think!

#471 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 11:38 AM:

On the sideline of Eastern European cartoons I was going to recommend the Krtek ones but they seem to have been removed from Youtube. I like them better than most others because they are beautiful, fun, and generous-minded. Also the little mole and his friends help the other little animals liberate themselves.

#472 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 11:42 AM:

"No stealth in space" is an interesting concept, but I bet any stage magician could come up with plenty of effective ways to get around that.

#474 ::: Bravo Lima Poppa 3 ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 11:52 AM:

465, 468, 469 and 472

Yeah, hiding the rocket is hard. Hacking the jumped up plains ape manning the sensors is definitely a possibility.

Add in that its likely only a military installation will maintain a 24x7x365 sphere of surveillance at a no sparrwo shall fall level and I think things might get interesting for civilian crews.

And for the curious, Sleights of Mind is a wonderful book.

#475 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 12:04 PM:

<Peeve Outbreak>

What is this 24x7x365 of which you speak?

</Peeve Outbreak>

Or are the sensor crews on a 7 year deployment?

#476 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 12:08 PM:

Niall@462: You've made me realize that Beale's plan is to invent Peanut Press/Palm Reader/eReader. Or, perhaps, Fictionwise, but it sounds more like Peanut Press.

#477 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 12:14 PM:

Whether civilian crews get no sparrow shall fall sensor systems depends a lot on the cost of the sensor systems and the risk of being attacked and/or hit by a random chunk of something.

My impression is that adequate sensor systems will be fairly cheap. Um, cheap for detecting ships with humans on them. I'm not as sure about attacks by highly miniaturized devices. On the other hand, space (even local space) is big. One thing The Hot Equations is good for is getting people to think about how much advance planning doing just about anything in space requires, and that includes getting your highly miniaturized device anywhere near the ship you want to attack.

#478 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 12:33 PM:

Teacake-aijii @ 459

Indeed. One recalls certain stories last year conspicuously lacking in puppy-trumpeted virtues like excitement and discovery. One notes such virtues, or rather their absence, in certain stories on the ballot this year.

Were one, as you say, of an unfortunately suspicious disposition, one might be moved to wonder whether the Puppies wished to honor the author(s) rather than the works, and further whether the Puppies' admiration derives from characteristics other than writing talent.

A suspicious nature can be such a burden.

#479 ::: Will McLean ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 12:53 PM:

haven't read all of them yet, but in the short fiction Hugo categories dominated by puppies, most of the nominees don't seem to be worthy of a Hugo. Why?

I think there are two main reasons. The simplest is that, for the nominations exclusive to the Rabid Puppies, Vox Day is not a good judge of writing quality , in my opinion. He can't tell when he himself is writing badly, and he is inordinately fond of works published by his own tiny Castalia House, which publishes works that are passed over by larger publishers with better distribution and marketing.

The Sad Puppies are a bit different. I believe that the were honest in their desire to pick worthy writing, but they handicapped themselves in several ways.

The first was their stated goal to support works that wouldn't get on the ballot without their boost. That means that writers who have shown the ability to get nominated without puppy support were off the table. That's a lot of good writers.

The second is that they ruled out writers tainted as Social Justice Warriors, as defined by them. This also narrows the field. I realize that they have tried to spin this as wanting authors who put good storytelling ahead of message, but this is quite subjective. The reader's tolerance for message increases when the message is congenial. I found their two John C. Wright nominations to have quite a lot of message, but I'm not a conservative Catholic. For calibration, I think the Narnia books were a bit heavy on the message, but Gene Wolfe is fine.

The third is that the Sad slate was ultimately constructed by just four authors: Correlia, Torgersen and two anonymous authors. Their ability to capture the best of the best was limited by how widely they read. Based on the slate, it seems that they were mostly fond of MilSF, Urban Fantasy and C. S. Lewis homages. Which doesn't seem to adequately capture the full spectrum of the SF/F genre.

#480 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 01:00 PM:

Castalia House, which publishes works that are passed over by larger publishers with better distribution and marketing

And better editors, too, I gather.

#481 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 01:00 PM:

This may be unfair of me, but I've wondered if the the Sad Puppies' goal of having fun meant they were unlikely to do much work putting their slate together.

I find it hard to believe there was that little adventure sf which was at least pretty good.

#482 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 01:01 PM:

Castalia House, which publishes works that are passed over by larger publishers with better distribution and marketing

And better editors, too, I gather.

[dreaded Internal Server Error]

#483 ::: giltay ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 01:14 PM:

#482 ::: P J Evans

That's what you get for hiring interner servals instead of sticking with full-time professionals.

(This message brought to you by United Servals local 113. NO CHEETAHS! NO SCABS!)

#484 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 01:40 PM:

The "no stealth in space" thing reminded me of a piece of hard-SF which demonstrates the issue rather neatly - Fred Hoyle's The Black Cloud, in which the eponymous entity, even though it's moving on a ballistic trajectory, and is black against a black background, is still detected at a range of several hundreds of millions of miles, with just 1960s technology, and by people who aren't particularly looking out for it.

#485 ::: Joe H. ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 01:48 PM:

I saw a comment somewhere (I hope it wasn't on a previous thread here?) that described space combat as being like two guys armed with rifles standing out on a perfectly flat plain.

#486 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 02:12 PM:

Cutting against the grain here...

One thing I learned last year is that just because a story may be badly told, clunky, or otherwise cringeable doesn't mean that people won't like it for itself. Sometimes in among what one reader sees as dross is a diamond for another reader. Sometimes the dross is invisible because the diamond is blinding for them.

More than one person came here (prompted from Day's blog) and talked about how the Puppy writing really worked for them, made them think, inspired them. And although I doubt Day's sincerity in asking them to come over, I don't see any grounds to doubt what I read by those people. They didn't sound alike; they weren't writing from a script.

Don't doubt the ordinary Puppies' sincerity in liking what they like. You can disagree with their taste and their ideas of what makes a good [SF/F] story, but I'd suggest that you trust their word when they say what they like of what they've read.

#487 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 02:33 PM:

abi@486:Yeah, I noticed that last year also. Peoples tastes differ and that is good. There are no doubt a number of people who like the puppy work. If someone reads the work and nominates because they think it is the greatest thing in literature since whatever they thought the last great thing was, then that is perfectly cool.

This year there seem to be a greater number of people who haven't read the works. Those people, I look quite disfavorably upon.

#488 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 02:44 PM:

I'm sure that many of the Puppies like the works they have recommended.

But that doesn't mean the works are any good.

I like Marvel Comics from the 1970s. But I do not think they are even up to the level of mediocre writing, for the most part, let alone Hugo-worthy.

I like Chinese buffet food, but I haven't had any I'd recommend for a James Beard award.

I don't doubt the sincerity of many of the Puppies when they say they genuinely like those stories.

However, I wonder if they are confusing "What I like" with "The best there is."

#489 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 02:52 PM:

I don't think something has to be "the best there is" to be worthy of a Hugo, but there's a big difference between "a pleasing example of the thing I like" and "extraordinarily good".

#490 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 02:52 PM:

Cat @ 399: If NZ is such a small fraction of the memberships, then only a few memberships will cost what they bring in, so the thesis that the flood of supporting memberships is mostly gravy stands. If it's a larger fraction, then finding someone local becomes a lot easier. Note that "meeting a container at the dock" may save only a small amount of money for a lot of effort; there are such things as shipping agents. Note also that NZ has been bidding for the 2020 Worldcon for some time now; if they can't find someone for this task their competence is in question.

#491 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 02:55 PM:

I wonder how widely they actually have read - reading a lot of books and stories helps you to recognize the difference between 'good enough' and 'excellent'.

(Some of what I read may be trash to other people. But it's trash I like.)

#492 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 03:04 PM:

Annnie/Ginger: thanks for the recs & link for "Nu Pogodi" -- definitely Roadrunner (I wonder whether it was a conscious borrowing), including the ?physics?, but entertaining new gimmicks.

#493 ::: Will McLean ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 03:05 PM:


But we all have different views of what makes a work great: what balance of plot, style, character, world-building and view of the human condition is required to be worthy of the highest awards.

#494 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 03:13 PM:

From the various comments last year, some of them seem to not be widely read. Some of them seem to deeply attach to a particular facet of a story and ignore the rest. Some of them seem to really think it is really well done.
In addition to the above mix, there are also some who either haven't read it or report a dishonest liking of a work just to mess with other people.

#495 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 03:23 PM:

Based both on last year's feedback to VD's story and this year's response to Wright's, plus Amazon reviews, I think there's a subset of the population which is already (for lack of any better word) devout, and who respond positively to any story with appropriate religious content.

It's a known characteristic of religious plastic art -- there are always plenty of people who respond strongly to "bad art" of a naive type (statues of the BVM, etc.), and sometimes more strongly to "bad" art than to better art. The same dynamic may very well be at work here: these readers wouldn't respond to a delicate story which had elements of Christian moral theology underpinning it subtly, but respond readily to the formulaic tropes of Wright's animal story set after the Second Coming.

#496 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 03:23 PM:

Would you all consent to a (hopefully) brief exercise? I'd be curious to see if you all could explain to me the literary merit of the award-winning short story "Bridesicle". It's obvious to me that a lot of people loved it, but so far I've been unable to figure out exactly why.

It's my hope that learning to understand why a story like that won its awards will help me to explain why my most beloved stories deserved their awards, even if Puppies hated them.

#497 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 03:33 PM:

James @495:

If you substitute "religious" for "progressive" and similar throughout, I think that you have reproduced the Puppies' contention about the fiction that they bounce off of.

#498 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 03:41 PM:

Will McLean @ 479: their stated goal to support works that wouldn't get on the ballot without their boost was already undermined by their inclusion of Mike Resnick, Sheila Gilbert, and Toni Weisskopf, IMO. oh, and their nominees for long form dramatic presentation.

#499 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 03:42 PM:

Dreams coming true, when you start being honest with yourself?

#500 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 03:51 PM:

I can't help but notice that many of the Puppy-nominated stories lack what the Puppies say they seek in fiction.

This might be because the Puppies like them because they are told they should by people they trust (see people liking the same bottle of wine considerably more when told it is expensive than when told it is cheap, for example.) It might be because part of the Puppies' liking derives from anticipating the joy of upsetting the rest of us with them. Or it might be that the Puppies don't actually know (or have not honestly said) what they seek in fiction.

Maybe "clumsy Christian allegory" and "done-to-death AI stories" really are their thing, but they're having trouble saying so. But even among clumsy Christian allegories, one would expect to find nominations spread among the available stories rather than all concentrated on John C. Wright. Surely he's not the only person producing such stories in SFF?

So given that they're producing these unnatural clumps of nominations, their nominating patterns would certainly seem to be suffering *some* effect as a result of the slates. Then the question becomes "are they settling on acceptable second bests that they still enjoy, or are they choosing stories they wouldn't even like in the absence of a slate?"

#501 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 04:06 PM:

Ginger @434

And here I am humming some of the tunes from it the whole day today... :)

CHip @492

You are welcome :) Yey for different cultures (I almost did not post the comment when I realized halfway through it that most people would not have even heard of the cartoon - but then just added the first sentence as an introduction and sent it in.)

Taste depends a lot on previous experience. When I started reading in English, a lot of the more literary stuff was going way over my head - both stylistically and from pure entertainment perspective. It took me years and a lot of conscious work to get to a point where I can read flowery prose and literary prose without calling it overwritten crap. I returned to a lot of the books I had issues with early on and a lot of them worked perfectly well...

If all you had read are adventure stories (there are good ones there but challenging is not exactly what I would call most of them) and you had never challenged yourself with something different, you will accept as good whatever you had been reading your whole life. My mother is a life long reader. She had not been reading that much lately but when I was growing up, a book would be always around. She cannot read SF/Fantasy. She cannot get her mind to bend to it - anything else is fine; you add a speculative element and you lost her. Same is happening here to some extent I suspect (not with the speculative angle obviously) - the story sounds cliched and badly done because someone had read a lot of different stories through the years; but if you had not - well...

Look at the Twilight books (sorry if there are fans around but the thing is just unreadable for me; its fanfiction is even worse even if it became a bestseller as well). It is an old story, said in an old way that is lacking imagination and anything remotely new. I was bored within 100 pages (even if I actually finished the first book). But if you do not know these old stories and you are just discovering the genre? Things are a bit different.

#502 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 04:55 PM:

In the Internet-wide Hugo/Puppies discussion, I too have seen only a small fraction of those identifying as "pro-Puppy" talking about how much they loved the Puppy Slate offerings. The majority of the discussion seems to devolve onto the political/cultural competition, examples of which everyone's seen in plenty.

That said, though, I have definitely seen a non-zero amount of readers reporting absolutely *loving* "Turncoat" or "Parliament" or "Spiritual Plain." And I'm not going to doubt that they do!

I think, though, there might be an interesting combination of factors in play... in the case of some readers, not all, and I wouldn't presume to try to state with any certainty when it's happening. But there's a possibility that the intersection of ...

1. Genuine love for a story
2. Inability to articulate what makes them love the story
3. Resentment for a perceived entity/community/value-set

... can lead to someone to honestly (if, in my opinion, mistakely) conclude that "Parliament" is vastly superior to all that awful SJW message-fic, because, unlike all that affirmative-action dreck with its checklist diversity and PC sensibilities, the Wright story puts story first.

Which is to say, if you like thing A, and you hate thing B, and you're not prone to examining the whys and wherefores of your likes and dislikes, you can easily come to the conclusion that you like thing A precisely for being the antithesis of thing B.

It's one possible logic chain, but then this is me just trying to make sense of some of the things I've seen people say.

#503 ::: Will McLean ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 04:59 PM:

@498 I suppose that Resnick and Weiskopf benefitted from the opportunity to stick it to the SJWs, and Gilbert helped them say "We're not sexist: look, our slate has an amazing 20% women."

#504 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 05:02 PM:

Will, #479: Also, the perception of "message" is itself highly subjective. A lot of the time, what Reader A perceives as "message" is simply Author B writing in accordance with how they think the world works -- a "fish don't see the water" sort of thing. If the reader agrees with the message, they won't even notice it.

Mind you, I'm not exactly sure how this works in the context of the Honor Harrington books, which the SPs seem to like even though they contain liberal messaging about equality that's heavy-handed enough for me to notice.

James, #495: And many of the people who like Wright would respond very negatively to something like Digger, which contains quite a lot of religious discussion but not in a specifically-Christian context, and not with the outcome rigged to make Christianity come out on top.

Sarah, #496: Trying not to be spoilery here. I read the story, and definitely consider it good enough to have won awards. The slow reveal of Mira's past as she talks with Lycan builds interest gradually, and includes some unexpected turns. And it has a happy ending which is both perfectly logical and (for me at least) completely surprising; it leaves me with the feeling that Mira is finally going to get to have the life she deserves, with people she cares about and who care about her in return.

Technical analysis of the writing quality: The world-building in it is excellent, and the sense of being in the head (ouch) of the protagonist is very strong. Some people don't think men can write female characters well (and some men really can't), but Mira feels real to me. There are just enough hints of ways in which the world has changed over time for that to feel real as well. The concept is well-realized; I didn't have any "wait, what, how would that work?" questions pop up in my mind as I was reading it, or after I'd thought about it for a bit. The writing itself is smooth, never getting in the way of the reader's immersion in the story.

I will admit that "escape from abusive relationship" is one of my bullet-proof kinks, so that element in the story resonates strongly for me; in an odd way, the manner in which it happened feels like it justifies the entire framework of the story line, which could otherwise be seen as rather creepy. But between that and the aforementioned happy ending -- yeah, for me this is an outstanding story.

IYDMMA, why do you dislike it?

#505 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 05:34 PM:

Sarah @496 - I hadn't previously read that story; having now done so, and thought to myself "yes, that's a good one", I'll try to explain why I think so.

What it's got going for it, I think, is conflict in adversity revealing character. You've got your protagonist, she is in what you would have to concede is a pretty dire situation, and the story is fundamentally about how she deals with it.

Given the set-up (she's in an intrinsically passive situation), her choices boil down to passive acceptance (which would mean caving in to the requirements of one or other of her, um, visitors), or passive resistance (toughing out the situation until she gets some chance to break free of it). She chooses the resistance route, which is harder, but leads to a more emotionally satisfying resolution - a happy ending, if a somewhat offbeat one.

The situation itself is creepy enough that I sympathize with her in her attempts to resist it - and it helps that she's a decently rounded character; human, more than slightly flawed, but essentially likeable enough that I want to see her overcome her problems.

The writing style is deft enough to convey the situation and the protagonist's feelings, and also to handle the way the setting detail is presented - the important facts about the cryonic suspension process and the "hitchers" is allowed to emerge gradually and fairly naturally, rather than being delivered as an indigestible info-dump.

There are things I could nit-pick, if I wanted to - over the timescale involved, you might have expected social attitudes to shift a bit more, or at least for the revival technology to have got cheaper and more common. But I'm willing to give the story a pass on those, because I enjoyed it. Our protagonist starts off in an awful situation, handles it as best she can, and finally earns a happy ending. "The good ended happily and the bad unhappily; that is what fiction means."

It's a good story - and, because it depends on technological changes and their impact on people's lives, it's a good SF story. So, thank you for bringing it to my notice!

#506 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 05:54 PM:

:: whaps self repeatedly about the head with a copy of Modern English Usage ::

The important facts ARE allowed to emerge. Abject apologies to all and sundry.

#507 ::: Zack ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 06:01 PM:

I'm not exactly sure how this works in the context of the Honor Harrington books, which the SPs seem to like even though they contain liberal messaging about equality that's heavy-handed enough for me to notice.

This anecdote perhaps only underscores your point -- I gave up in disgust on the Honor Harrington books because I was sick and tired of the heavy-handed repetition of reactionary economics horseshit. The incident I remember is a point at which the action stops for someone to exult over the Good Guys' space empire's founder's good sense in writing a total prohibition of income taxes into the constitution.

Liberal messaging about equality, on the other hand? Didn't notice a single word of it.

#508 ::: Zack ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 06:08 PM:

addendum: there are a number of instances in the HH books in which they run one of the overused comic-book plot tropes which, in the comic books, are only ever run with a male superhero as the lead character, only gender-flipped (i.e. Honor gets to do it). I do not consider this to be "liberal messaging about equality"; I consider it to demonstrate that those tropes do not just suck because women never get to play the lead.

#509 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 06:17 PM:

Oh mannnn, does that make HH one of those "strong female characters" who is basically just a woman allowed to do dudebro things?

#510 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 06:24 PM:

Sarah @496: You gave the title and I remembered the story, which, for me, indicates it stuck pretty well - usually a sign of a good story*. For me, working from memory, I think... the combination of the amazing tech coupled with the banality of the "marriage mart" situation. The way the protagonist's character comes through such that, as the reader, I'm really rooting for her and wanting a happy ending. The line where she suggests that good and bad experiences with hitchers are like good and bad marriages: and then the way the story ends, because even though on one level they don't get to be together, on another you know they oh so do (or will, shortly). And following on from Steve Wright @505: the interaction of technological change and people being people, really.

* Not always a nice story. There are a few I really, really wish I could forget.

#511 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 06:27 PM:

Peace Is My Middle Name@509

From the little I remember from the one I read (my brain is self-cleaning from bad things it seems) - even more than the dude stuff - she is the woman that can do better than the dudes.

#512 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 06:31 PM:

Yah, frankly what I noticed about the HH stories was the *conservative* messaging. How the liberals are all the evil bad guys or the stupid dupes of the evil bad guys, that kind of thing.

Now I grant that having Honor be an excellent soldier and major tactical intellect even though she is a woman is kind of "equality messaging," and indeed without that I would have quit reading a lot sooner than I did. But still, it's not the *liberal* messages I think of when I remember those books.

#513 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 06:55 PM:

The thing about Honor as a female protagonist is that she is largely agender. The fact that she is female only matters when someone else is attempting to fit her into their gender structures, and she either fits or sticks out uncomfortably.

Yes, she has a sexual orientation towards males and enjoys (with the right partner) using her existing anatomy to pursue that. But very little about her actually seems to be attached to any kind of female or feminine (or even 'butch' as opposed to neutral) identity.

She is quite literally a protagonist about whom you could change a few pronouns and a small amount of physical description -- and nothing else -- and have a male protagonist. She would be less transgressively gendered if she were male (a lot of what she does is considered unusual-for-women by many people around her), but her characterization is basically identical either way, except for not having repeated "Sigh, now I must fight or ignore your misogyny" setpieces.

Which is fine. It's great that there can be not-strongly-gendered protagonists of fiction. I would be all for more agender or other nonbinary people getting to be the viewpoints of major novels.

But there is something qualitatively different between Honor as a nominally female protagonist who is only loosely gendered at all by anything except the expectations of others, and a protagonist like Elizabeth Moon's Kylara Vatta (of the Vatta's War series, which in general shares much furniture with the Harringtonverse), who is definitely a woman while not being uber-femmey.

#514 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 07:07 PM:

Zack, #507: Oh yeah, the reactionary economics -- like the cause of Haven's woes being the Guaranteed Living Stipend, which of course *eyeroll* produces a population of "takers" who just want to get their monthly check and be couch potatoes all day.

But when I say it has heavy-handed liberal equality messaging, I'm primarily talking about 2 things, one of which is more so than the other:

1) The lesser one -- that in both the Manticoran and the Haven systems, women's equality is taken for granted, and furthermore the women featured in the books have a diverse range of personality types. Ditto racial equality, although that's not marked as heavily except in specifying that the Manticoran royal house is black.

2) The greater one -- when he lampshades this by bringing in the Graysons, with their extremely Confederacy-worship-based culture* and their severe restrictions on the "place" of women. And the Graysons who resist change on the feminism front are uniformly the bad guys.

And if I notice that stuff, you'd think it would send the SPs straight up the wall.

* Albeit at second hand; Weber postulates it as being based on something resembling modern rural Texas culture, but that is itself based heavily on Confederacy-worship.

#515 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 07:12 PM:

Just read "Bridesicle"--yup, powerful story, but dear God that is one nasty world we are invited to visit! Of course, we are getting the experience of the unloved, the dysfunctional (for the most part). I suspect happy, loved and loving people would have had a rather different experience, but we don't get to see much of that. I did spot one narrative inconsistency that bothers me quite a bit--why the narrator didn't REALIZE what might happen to her, if someone she cared about had been in the same situation--but there is at least a hint that she really, really wasn't thinking clearly during the time in her life immediately before the story starts and doesn't have much time to think at all, after. I can live with it. The protagonist's changing attitude towards the less physical sfnal/technology process in the story is actually harder to bear, but she goes through a lot before she gets to that point, so okay.

Anyway, yeah. Protagonist is trapped in an impossible situation, manages to think/talk her way out of it, to as close to a happy ending as she is ever likely to get. And the little twist that earns her that happy ending is clever and surprising (not telegraphed), but perfectly believable. Award winner? Don't know--would probably depend on the competition. But I can see the possibility that it would get nominated for a fiction award on merit.

#516 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 07:16 PM:

Lee, #504: "I'm not exactly sure how this works in the context of the Honor Harrington books, which the SPs seem to like even though they contain liberal messaging about equality that's heavy-handed enough for me to notice."

Zack, #507: "I gave up in disgust on the Honor Harrington books because I was sick and tired of the heavy-handed repetition of reactionary economics horseshit."

That's the funny-odd thing about the Harrington books. They are very much examples of showing positive characters in different genders and races. If racism or sexism is shown (as in the planet Grayson), it's not in a positive way.

On the other hand, Weber does stop occasionally to flog the reader with the concepts that Welfare Support Is Bad, Taxes Are Bad, The Free Market Fixes Everything, etc.

I guess that's the reason I'm able to still read the Harrington books with a decent level of enjoyment: the political messages in them are all over the spectrum.

I just end up skipping the boring-as-batshit descriptions of vessel and weapons specifications, and battle descriptions which include lengthy inventories of how many weapons of each type were employed by each side, how many were destroyed by the other side, and how many connected with a target.

#517 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 07:21 PM:

I've read a few of them, and the politics involved bore me, along with the weapons details. (I also have trouble suspending my disbelief in their space drive.) But when he can avoid that kind of thing, they can be very entertaining, although not what I'd consider worth a rocket.

#518 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 07:27 PM:

Peace Is My Middle Name@509:

You want a strong female protagonist? May I commend C. J. Cherryh to your attention?

I especially like Captain Signy Mallory.

You will find a great many strong female characters in S. M. Stirling's work -- a good starting place would be "Island in the Stream of Time."

#519 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 07:30 PM:

Elliott Mason, #513: "But there is something qualitatively different between Honor as a nominally female protagonist who is only loosely gendered at all by anything except the expectations of others, and a protagonist like Elizabeth Moon's Kylara Vatta, who is definitely a woman while not being uber-femmey."

Can you elaborate on this? What's the difference between Harrington and Vatta, that makes one agender and the other "definitely a woman"?

I've always thought that the aphorism "When you write a female character, make sure that she's not just a man with boobs", while sounding pithy, is total B.S. I have yet to see anyone give what I would regard as a suitable explanation as to what makes a female character distinctively female, other than her gender.

#520 ::: Kevin Standlee ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 07:48 PM:

Chip @346:

Granted that it's not entirely free -- but I did an analysis that a $15 supporting membership in 1989 was way high, even allowing for a typical fraction of overseas memberships (for that time)...
I was no longer following this discussion and was asked to come back and provide data if I could, so I apologize if I'm covering ground others have done.

I do not have access to any recent Worldcon's detailed figures. I do have fairly decent access to ConJose's 2002 data, and I did a number of the mailings myself. We used International Surface Air Lift for the non-USA items, which ranges from $3.20-$6.60/pound but (a) is still a lot more expensive than the old sea mail options (which don't exist anymore) and (b) requires a lot of effort on the part of convention committees, not all of whom can be assumed to have bulk-mailing gurus. (For example, I drove ConJose's international mailings from where we put them together to the San Jose office were our permit was located, "entered" them there, then drove up to South San Francisco and the USPS facility there in order to get the cheaper "drop shipment" rate. (Not ever Worldcon is going to be close enough to a drop-shipment entry point to be able to do this.)

For the analysis below, I'm assuming zero marginal cost for additional computer hardware; it's part of the convention overhead, and is covered by whatever isn't eaten up by variable costs. That is, I'm only trying to come up with the variable cost associated with each membership.

ConJose's supporting membership cost was $35.

Figures are rounded, not exact, and are sometimes a little less than what I show here because I'm trying to not let the discussion get lost in the weeds of arguing over pennies.

We didn't break out the domestic/international shipping costs in the budget, and therefore all of the costs below are averaged across all members. Obviously, that means that US members cross-subsidize non-US members.

Here's the "worst-case" scenario: a site-selection voter, who is thus a member from Day 1 and gets every progress report and also the post-con mailing of souvenir book, Pocket Program, and other at-con printed publications, plus a membership badge. (We gave every member a badge, including the non-attending members.)

Pre-con Publications & Postage: $6.50/member
(~$32,600 / ~5,000 total members)

At-Con Publications: $8.50/member
(~$51,000 / 6,000 copies printed)

Membership Badges (including pouches): $2/member
(~$12,000 / 6,000 badge sets)

Post-Con Mailing: $6.50/member
(~$4,700 / 715 non-attending members)

Average marginal cost per non-attending member: $23.50

Average "profit" per supporting member: $11.50 (approximately 33%).

A member who forgoes any pre-con mailings can increase the "profit" to about 50%.

Assuming a current Worldcon is broadly similar, then each supporting membership to this year's Worldcon is going to cost the convention as much as $26.50 to service and contribute approximately $13.50 additional usable "free money" usable to cover convention fixed expenses.

This doesn't include the cost of any special mailings like the Hugo/Site Selection ballot mailing, by the way.

Currently, that makes roughly $70,000 in additional spendable money for Sasquan from all supporting memberships, which, while welcome enough, also isn't nearly as much money as you might think it is. A modern Worldcon is going to cost on the order of $1 million, and thus this amounts to about 7% of the Worldcon's total budget in extra money. It's good, but it's not the Mountain of Cash that some people seem to think it is.

Again, it's not that Sasquan is unhappy at getting more money. (When you have a convention center that charges $1/day/chair to rent the chairs in the function rooms and similar nickle-and-dime charges, you need all the money you can bring in.) It's just that people have been assuming that there's a lot more money available to spend than there really is likely to be.

#521 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 08:27 PM:

Annie Y @501: I'll add my slightly belated thanks for the Russian cartoons. They'd never have crossed my radar otherwise; and they're a lot of fun.

#522 ::: rcade ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 08:29 PM:

Sarah @ 496:

"Bridesicle" is an award-caliber story because it takes a concept that's instantly familiar -- the dream that cryogenics will offer a second chance at life -- and gives it a gentle nudge that pushes it deep into the realm of nightmare. The end result is a wonderfully twisted exploration of romance as a transaction. I loved that story and voted for it to win the Hugo. I think it could've been better if it was simpler, because it spins out of the seduce-me-or-go-back-to-the-fridge concept and gets more convoluted at the end, but I still think it a deserving winner.

#523 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 09:59 PM:

Harrington vs. Vatta: here's where I write down what I think to figure out what I think. Keep in mind some of this is filtered through 10+ years of memory.

Honor Harrington is 100% military. I remember her as getting through Not-Annapolis by crushing down her womanhood (and personhood), by being not just not-girly but determinedly-not-girly, shaving her head and doing nothing but working. There was possibly (the series was started in 1993) a little bit of "groundbreaking then is dirt common now" effect [see: black Leader Of The Free World]. She's married to the job, almost literally.

Kylara Vatta (written 10 years later, by someone with direct experience of being female in the military) has more ambiguity; she's civilian with military training, neither fish nor fowl, and certainly seems to have retained a lot more personality at the end of her education. The author has less need to convince the reader that a girl [sic] can be a REAL NAVAL OFFICER and that leaves a lot more room for them to be a person. I don't think the civilian/military ambiguity is required for her to have a personality; it is interesting on its own and so is she.

So there's two cents; enough to get me across the Styx.

*waves, in case the real live author sees this*

#524 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 10:13 PM:

Sandy, #523: (see above)

But, you see, that's exactly my point. You've described how one character is more nuanced than the other, but not how one character is more distinctly female than the other.

#525 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 10:23 PM:

Kylara's viewpoints and internal monologue would be much more unusual for a male character than Honor's would be for a female character. She thinks about a lot of things that (stereotypical) men usually don't notice happening, much less worry about.

Honor Harrington moves through the world as though misogynistic microaggressions don't exist. She clearly knows about -- and gives not two figs for -- male privilege, but the drip drip drip drip poison of actually living in a society that has even the amount of remaining misogynistic assumptions as Manticore does (which it does, at least in its more reactionary areas) has apparently left no trace on her.

The ways that Kylara experiences misogynistic assumptions (and tells them to go take a long walk off a short pier) feel a lot more like the life experiences of my female friends than the way Honor just eyes them from on high, says (effectively) "Oh, how quaint," and plasma-warhead-plows right through them with no sign of interest.

#526 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 10:27 PM:

Hm. JJ, wouldn't a "more nuanced" female character--that is, a female character who was a more complete person--be a "more female" character almost by default? Vatta feels more female to me partly because she feels more realistic . . . and since she's supposed to be a woman, and thinks of herself as female, that's part of it.

I hasten to add that I love Honor Harrington, and the Honor Harrington books, and have no problems with the way Weber portrays the character. But I think he was being less gendered in his portrayal than he might have been, and I think (in the early books, at least) that that was deliberate to some extent, not only because he was breaking new ground (as Sandy B. says) but because he WANTED her to eventually face a culture that saw her as female first and warrior second (when she'd always thought of herself as a warrior first and female a distant--well, actually maybe third or fourth, if at all). I don't think she repressed her sexuality at Not-Annapolis, exactly; I think it's more she never allowed it to develop, for a variety of reasons. It works for me in the early books; ishe feels almost adolescent to me, until--oh, book three or four (can't remember exactly) In the later ones, I think Weber has some difficulty deepening the character's personality (maybe) in part because of the way he'd outlined her to start with. (And maybe because by that time Harrington had become such a cultural icon, with such a weight of ability and experience and history, that it was always going to be more difficult to explore her as an individual. That often happens to series protagonists, in my opinion.)

#527 ::: chris ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 10:28 PM:

But there is something qualitatively different between Honor as a nominally female protagonist who is only loosely gendered at all by anything except the expectations of others, and a protagonist like Elizabeth Moon's Kylara Vatta

I first framed a similar comparison to Cordelia Naismith, but on reflection, I'm not sure I know what "nominally female" and "only loosely gendered" are supposed to mean. Cordelia understands how to appeal to Kareen in a way that would be surprising coming from Honor (telepathy notwithstanding, even), but I think that has less to do with gender than with Honor's narrower focus on the military. (Compare also Elena Bothari deciding she is done with the military. Can you imagine Honor doing that?)

But does her military focus, you might even say obsession, make her "nominally female" (and doesn't that imply a category of "genuinely female" that Honor supposedly doesn't belong to)? Simply because the military is a traditionally male province (to the readers, I mean; on Manticore and Beta Colony it's no such thing), or for some other reason?

#528 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 10:36 PM:

Mary Frances, #526: "wouldn't a "more nuanced" female character -- that is, a female character who was a more complete person -- be a "more female" character almost by default?"

Please tell me you are not saying that women are nuanced characters and men are not. Please tell me that is not what you are saying.

#529 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 10:45 PM:

JJ @528: I'd put it more that any unspecified default character will (in the US) be assumed by readers to be white and male. So if no specific details are supplied, that will be the presumption.

I would add that not all female soldier characters necessarily to turn into agender job-obsessed single-minded SOLDIERs (in all caps) like Honor does. Weber has chosen to write her that way, whether consciously or not. He has sometimes put us into the heads of other female soldiers in the Honorverse who are more or less of a generic cypher than Honor is, which is sort of good, but in almost none of them is there any sign of the sorts of default methods of thought that crop up naturally in Moon's viewpoint characters (not just in Vatta's War; Paksenarrion is another example of a woman in a male-dominated, military profession who nonetheless doesn't lose her gender identity).

There are many ways to write a woman.

There are almost no signs in Honor's internal monologue that she IS one, unless she's looking directly at her boobs or thinking about blatantly sexist things happening.

In other fictional universes, it is made clear (or patent in the world) that gender-policing happens in ways more subtle than Pitchfork-Wielding Assholes At Your Door. In the Harringtonverse, it's all very drawn-in-crayon blatant.

Possibly because that's the only sexism Weber knows how to write about.

#530 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 10:57 PM:

God, no, JJ! (I knew I should have taken more time to proofread! I hit the post button by mistake, obviously too soon.) That's a horrible thought. I only meant that of these two particular female characters, IF we describe Vatta as "more nuanced," that might also make her seem "more female"--simply because she happens to be a woman, and so that would be part of her character. To tell you the truth, I'm not even sure that Kylara is more nuanced than Honor--been a while since I read books with either of them as a protagonist--but as I remember, there is a different "feel" to the characters as women-in-the-military, and I'm not at all sure what accounts for it. (Besides the obvious, of course: that they are different characters, by different authors, and any two characters are going to have an individual "feel" to them--unless they are badly-written stereotypes, and I don't find either Kylara or Honor to be badly written.)

In any case, I am flat-out not implying anything about male characters at all; I'm comparing two female characters AS female characters, period. A more nuanced male character would, I suspect, also seem more complexly male than a less nuanced male character, in this sense . . . but at this point I'm not even going to try to come up with a comparison!

#531 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 11:13 PM:

JJ, #528: In addition to Mary Frances' clarification, let me point out that a more-nuanced character of either gender is likely to feel more "real" to the reader than a cardboard cutout, and that sense of reality is going to include awareness of the character's gender.

WRT Honor Harrington specifically, I think Elliott has pretty much nailed it @525. Although I might add that IMO Harrington shut down a lot of her own sexuality in the wake of the rape attempt, and while that's a very gendered thing to do, it leaves her feeling significantly more gender-neutral than a lot of other female characters. Then she got a dose of "anyone you care about becomes a target" about 4 books in, which only reinforced the tendency.

#532 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 11:13 PM:

Mary Frances, #530:

I guess my point is that people perceive more-nuanced male characters as being "more male", and likewise, more-nuanced female characters are perceived as being "more female" -- but I have still not seen a (to me) satisfactory definition of what makes a character "distinctly male" or "distinctly male".

I find "When you write a female character, make sure that she's not just a man with boobs" incredibly offensive. Why? Because the implication is that somehow changing her character how, exactly? is going to make her "more female".

What changes would make her "female" as opposed to "male"? Making her more emotional? More compassionate and caring? More selfish? More sensitive to others' feelings? More mercenary? More nurturing to children? More logical? More calculating? More pacifistic?

How are any of these characteristics distinctly "male" or "female"? They aren't.

And that's why I'm still waiting for someone to explain the difference to me.

#533 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2015, 11:53 PM:

Forgive me for sounding snarky, JJ, but I think you'll be waiting a long time. Well. Unless you decide to do the analysis yourself. That's the kind of question that requires a close critical reading--in this case, of several books--to even begin to answer. I think a thread, even on ML, can discuss the concept in generalities, mostly referring to actions, but the kind of detailed analytic evidence to explore this issue is . . . likely beyond us in this context.

I do think it would make an interesting critical essay, a side-by-side detailed analysis of Kylara Vatta and Honor Harrington (and their worlds) in terms of gendering. Add Cordelia Naismith and we might even have a doctoral dissertation. But I'm not all that interested in doing it myself, I'm afraid.

#534 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 12:17 AM:

Mary Frances, #533:

That's okay, I wasn't expecting you or anyone else to provide me with a detailed analysis.

My point was that I find an insistence that women are somehow very fundamentally different from men as a flawed and sexist perception (and I'm not specifying that the sexism is coming from only one direction).

My experience with men and women is that there really aren't huge amounts of fundamental character differences by gender.

People who behave well and treat other people well are fundamentally different from those who don't. People who are smart or self-disciplined or uber-competent are fundamentally different from those who aren't.

But I haven't noticed those things being particular to any gender.

#535 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 12:41 AM:

My point was that I find an insistence that women are somehow very fundamentally different from men as a flawed and sexist perception (and I'm not specifying that the sexism is coming from only one direction).

Well, yes, of course. I haven't read anyone saying any such thing, here. Speaking personally. It's possible I missed something, and if so, I'm sorry.

My experience with men and women is that there really aren't huge amounts of fundamental character differences by gender.

People who behave well and treat other people well are fundamentally different from those who don't. People who are smart or self-disciplined or uber-competent are fundamentally different from those who aren't.

Also in agreement. But gender is part of a individual's identity, male, female or any variant thereof. Surely delineating a character's identity is part of an author's job?

There was a thread way, way back here at ML--I'm afraid I don't remember the OP--in which Jo Walton pointed out that Anthony Trollope's female characters weren't women at all (as I remember, she opined that they were really dragons). It was a funny line, but mostly it was funny because it was true: Trollope's late-19th century females are so idiosyncratic that they might have been more believable--more nuanced, more realistic--if they were aliens. (Or dragons.) It was an interesting insight into Trollope's characterization, and one I would have been sorry to have missed.

In other words, I think characterization in terms of gender and of how an author expresses a character's gender as part (not all) of that character's personality is worth discussing, and pretending that gender is completely irrelevant would be just as sexist as arguing that gender makes All The Difference, in my opinion. Or at least, pretending that gender is completely irrelevant would make the discussion of specific works less interesting--again in my opinion.

#536 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 12:47 AM:

JJ, #534: Okay, I'm noodling here, so please bear with me. Part of what makes for good characterization is having characters react to things in a way that feels true to who the reader has seen them being, yes? And a lot of that depends on the character's back-story and what the reader can infer about their lived experience. You wouldn't expect Cordelia Naismith to react to any given situation the same way that Anya Stark would. That's because they're individuals.

Now, here's where it gets tricky. IRL, the lived experience of women, taken as a group, is significantly different from the lived experience of men, taken as a group. And even though all women are individuals, there tend to be certain commonalities of experience that are true for the vast majority. For example, I've known one woman who insists that she has never personally encountered any type of sexual harassment or sex-based discrimination. That may indeed be true, but it makes her an outlier. Most women do experience discrimination and/or harassment at some point. Most women experience it to a much greater extent than the average white male ever does.

That's a difference of experience that changes people, and which is largely gender-oriented. A woman who doesn't exhibit any awareness of it (and it may not be as explicit as the writer having the character actually think about it) is going to come across -- especially to a female reader -- as "less female", unless the story also postulates a society from which every last vestige of sexism has been removed for many generations. Which is a lot harder to write than it sounds like, partly because we don't have any examples of such a society.

And now that I've said all this, I'm sure the readership here is going to come up with tons out counter-examples. :-) But that's one example of something which, yes, really is dependent on the gender of the character, and not just because of stereotypes.

#537 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 12:51 AM:

JJ, what occurred to me in response to this discussion is, it's not about any essential characteristics that make a character more female or more male. It's about how that character experiences the world, given that the world treats perceived men and perceived women differently.

You may have run into people who consider themselves "colorblind" and think it a great virtue, when actually by insisting on "not seeing color" they are ignoring/erasing the different life experiences that inform the perceptions of people of color in a racist world?

That's the sort of treatment of female characters that "don't make her just a man with boobs" is meant to advise against.

Now, *how* a woman may experience her world different than a man would (or different from someone who is genderqueer!) would depend a lot on the setting of the story, of course. Not every fictional setting has analogous gender dynamics to ours. But if binary gender is assumed in that setting, and if women and men are treated at all differently, women and men will experience the world differently from each other. They will have different expectations thrown at them. They will see different expressions on strangers' faces when they first meet. They will get different questions when it's time to make small talk. All these differing experiences will lead to differing internal narratives, differing thoughts, differing reactions.

I mean, just think about what happens when a teacher asks the class, "When you leave a place alone at night, what precautions do you take walking to the car?" and most of the women talk about pretending to be on the phone, gripping their keys, scanning the parking lot, sticking to lighted areas... and most of the men just look blank. "What do you mean, precautions?" (Sorry I don't have a citation. It's an anecdote I've heard a lot, though.)

"Men with boobs" characters aren't written with these differences in experience in mind. "Nuanced female characters" are.

That's my off-the-cuff two-cents take on it, as a cis woman who has had to think about how to get to the car safely at 2 AM, among other things.

#538 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 12:53 AM:

...or what Lee said. (Nicely said, Lee.)

#539 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 12:59 AM:

Mary Frances, #535: "pretending that gender is completely irrelevant would make the discussion of specific works less interesting -- again in my opinion"

And this is the crux of it, I think. If a story is set in a world where gender biases have played a huge part in defining peoples' roles in society and their perceptions of themselves and others, then certainly illustrating and exploring how that affects/ed a character is a valid, "gendered" aspect of the character.

But in fantasy worlds and science fictional universes which did not evolve with an Earth-centric focus on gender #for instance, worlds in which social class or genetic line or intelligence are the measures on which discrimination are based#, then, for all practical purposes, there really isn't a distinction one can point to in terms of a character being distinctly male or female.

Anyway, Mary Frances, Lee, and Nicole, thank you for your thoughtful responses and being willing to have this dialogue with me.

#540 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 03:55 AM:

JJ @539:
But in fantasy worlds and science fictional universes which did not evolve with an Earth-centric focus on gender #for instance, worlds in which social class or genetic line or intelligence are the measures on which discrimination are based#, then, for all practical purposes, there really isn't a distinction one can point to in terms of a character being distinctly male or female.

Yeah, but the author has to actually think that one through and weave it into the worldbuilding. Powerful characters should be about equally distributed between/across genders; parenting responsibilities should be likewise, or should not be denigrated and economically penalized. Women should be in heavily physical and dangerous jobs, the sciences, maths; men should be teachers, caregivers, and crafters in soft things as well as hard. No gender should be the basis for insults, stereotypes, or figures of speech.

All of these things have to be bone-deep in the characters, the language, and the culture.

I'll buy it then. But not a lot of authors are selling it.

#541 ::: Peter Card ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 04:25 AM:

Dave Bell@403

Duke of Stepney?

Gawblimey guvnor , he's having a larf .

Should've made him Duke of Hackney, then he'd be running Hackney Hackney cabs. Or would that be too hackneyed?

#542 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 04:43 AM:

For me, my expectations of characterisation are calibrated on the type of book I'm reading. When I read David Weber's Honorverse books (and I do enjoy reading especially the earlier books in the series), I expect fairly broad-brush character sketches.

That the Chairman of the Committee of Public Safety of The Republic of Haven (enemy of Manticore) is Robert Stanton Pierre (as in Rob. S. Pierre) says to me that I should not expect nuanced characterisation.

#543 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 06:06 AM:

abi @ 540: Yes, just this: I would expect a successfully gender-egalitarian society to look and feel really, really peculiar to a contemporary reader - not just like the modern society of the author's choice with all the surface barnacles of discrimination and microaggressions scraped off. The second-order effects are going to knock it way out into the weirds in no time at all.

Using current social shapes anyway, as tropes and shorthands for better focus and reader accessibility, seems a perfectly good SFnal technique across the board, and in many or most cases an essential tool for filling in background. But since it's a literary device, not a realistic one, I wouldn't want to use it for load-bearing structure in a story of ideas, any more than I'd want to hang a real swing on a cardboard tree.

Which somewhat limits the stories one can tell, truly and at full strength, in worlds that use modern gender furniture.

#544 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 07:12 AM:

Soon Lee, 542: That was the exact moment when book met wall. It was already obvious that Honor was Horatio Nelson with boobs--why insult us with a cheap joke? (I kept going for a while because treecats, but then we got to the adultery section of Nelson's life and I reached the limit of my tolerance.)

The fact that Honor = Horatio also explains some of the confusion about Honor's gender identity, I think.

#545 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 07:28 AM:

JJ #539: And a guy chiming in: There's not a helluva lot I can add to the insightful comments from Mary Frances, Lee, Nicole, and Abi, but I'll take a shot:¹

Even if the world is determinedly egalitarian, gender's going to show. Even if humanity has gone over to making babies in "vats", (as in, say, Peter Hamilton's hexology -- which IIRC does have pretty-well gendered characters despite), how deeply have they they altered human development? Or even sexual behavior, including courting?

For humanity-as-we-know-it, There are developmental differences in hormone profiles and neurology; the results of that aren't absolute differences between the genders, but even, say, a 30% (handwaving) overlap of temperament features will still leave a noticable difference between two subgroups. It'll be enough to result in stereotyping and associated biases -- and changing that would be an even deeper change to HAWKI, because stereotyping itself is fundamental to our cognition. (And AFAIK, not just our cognition -- it's a basic shortcut in dealing with the overwhelming variety of the world.)

¹ And note, that's a gendered (maybe kyriarchical, but maybe not) dynamic, whose² presence or absence in a story would tell you something about either the society or the author.

² Grammar digression: I can't think of a terse way to say that which doesn't "personalize" the dynamic.

#546 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 07:57 AM:

I'm going to fumble towards talking about issues regarding gender-blind (or race-blind) casting that interacts with fiction writing and "making her a man with boobs":

If you write a character and then decide to cast it with an individual different than you had in mind when writing it (frex, Ellen Ripley in the Aliens movie -- I don't know if Ripley was male in the script or if none of the characters were gendered, it's been a long time since I heard the interview; certainly, Ripley was not written with the writer imagining a woman specifically), that can be awesome. It widens the gender representation of roles.

But when you've got an actor involved, they often add in fillips and nuances beyond the bare lines on the page: they add an internal life, and the quality of the portrayal depends strongly on what the actor brings to the table.

When a character's entire *internal* monologue could be assigned to someone of either gender, with no major changes that don't reference anatomy or another character's opinions of the protag's gender, that's kind of weird compared to how most humans today experience the world.

If you're writing a story that takes place now or in a world recognizably, reasonably-closely descended from our current world, and you have a character who is American and black and in a work environment full of white people, and their entire internal monologue could be happening in a white character's head with no changes at all, that's either a careful choice by a thoughtful author to display an outlier or carelessness, but it certainly isn't the best possible way to write a black protagonist by default.

I would love to read a detailed deep-dive into the differences in characterization among a range of military-woman protagonists written by male and female authors with a wide range of evident experiences with writing diversity. A partial list of characters I think might be fruitfully discussed in this way:

Honor Harrington
Kylara Vatta
Cordelia Naismith
Kathryn Janeway (or maybe not; it's hard to compare a visual-media representation to a text one)
Torin Kerr (from Tanya Huff's "Valor" books)

Some of their characterizations would vary based on rank, 'historical'/military-tech period, original social class before joining the military, and many other things, but to my mind they all do "woman" differently, too.

#547 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 08:14 AM:

And adding because JJ is completely right: just adding frilly frou-frou obsession or a magnetism to children as the only slapped-on 'femininity' in an otherwise largely agender character is not only offensive, but also really poor writing.

(see also "some of my problems with many 1940s-1970s authors, of SF and otherwise")

#548 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 08:33 AM:

Thank you very much to everyone who wrote about Bridesicle. I do feel like I have a better idea of what people saw in it (solid worldbuilding, original setup, satisfying ending, writing that stays out of the way of the story).

This discussion of the "don't write men with boobs" line is fascinating, and I've really enjoyed everyone's opinions. I'm a gender noncompliant person myself, and I find it frustrating when writers project human cultures thousands of years into the future, add wild and dreamlike technologies, and even societies of aliens with no connection to Earth...

and then write gender roles and relationships that are as surprising as a lump of play-dough.

(As for Honor Harrington, I didn't care enough about the characters to make it through the first book.)

#549 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 08:41 AM:

Sarah @548: there is an author whose books I adore (in part because IMO the writer shoehorns at least four books' worth of bonkers-amazing worldbuilding ideas into every novel and then makes it WORK somehow) that I sometimes want to hurl against the wall, because every species and society written about has the gender roles of mountain gorillas.

There are no sticklebacks in this author's entire universe (not sentient ones, anyhow). There are no seahorses. There are no ravens, even. Every species has strong, violent, larger males and smaller, submissive, nurturant, passive (except when taking-over-from-in-secret) females.

It doesn't really help that the author also slaps VILLAIN!!! on all the male-coded tendencies. The fact that for eighteen novels and counting that is the ONLY way that any world of theirs ever works gets really, really old. "Women should be allowed equality with men" is a political payload I agree with, but that doesn't mean I enjoy having it delivered to my head with a sledgehammer repeatedly.

On the upside, another author I read for amazing worldbuilding but felt a little tired about because every book resolves with a One True Love heterosexual romantic pairing actually wrote a book in which gay people exist! And get to have a happy ending! I'm so excited that this might show a new thread in their writing.

Well, I can hope it might, anyway. So I can read future output without my mental teeth gritted.

#550 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 08:53 AM:

@549 Hurrah for progress! ... at the same time, it sickens me that "gay people exist and have a happy ending" still counts as progress.

I read a book not long ago in which "... these men are GAY!!" was, I believe, supposed to be a shock reveal. The book hadn't told me that men being gay was a terribly shocking thing, though, so I wasn't shocked... more of a 'yes, ok, and then what?' (and then nothing, alas; having played their part, the gay men were shuffled offstage)

I'd almost forgive a subplot like that in a book of a certain age, but this one had been written in the current century.

#551 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 09:09 AM:

Cool discussion. Reflection of some form of the shared experience does seem like a good direction from which to derive the nuance.

#552 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 09:10 AM:

abi @540: It does, obviously, vary with the society. In A Civil Campaign (and Rot13 'cos *spoilers*): Qbab'f abgrf ba gur qvssreraprf va ubj f/ur jnf gerngrq nf Qbab if. Qbaan: "Ba Orgn Pbybal, V fpnepryl abgvprq n guvat. Ol gur gvzr V tbg gb Xbznee, jryy, gur crefbany fcnpr crbcyr tnir zr unq nccebkvzngryl qbhoyrq, naq gurve erfcbafr gvzr gb zr unq orra phg va unys. Ol gur gvzr V uvg gur Ibeonee Fhygnan Fuhggyrcbeg, gur punatr jnf curabzrany. Fbzrubj, V qba'g guvax V tbg nyy gung erfhyg whfg sebz zl rkrepvfr cebtenz."

I have always liked how CJ Cherryh took the "stronger, larger" males trope and turned it on its head vis a vis society in the Chanur books: male hani are for fighting and holding territory, but traditionally are seen as incapable of reasoned thought etc., so all responsible jobs are, of course, held by the females.

I think looking at how children might grow up in a society in which there's no male/female distinction placed before puberty could be interesting - Jim Butcher plays with that in Marat society in his Codex Alera books.

Elliott Mason @546: An interesting range of characters. I think the differences illustrate the differences between societies as well as the individual's character. And that's the point, isn't it? A person's character is affected by the society they grow up in and interact with, and culture-norm gender roles and pressures is part of that, so the character gives a sort of reflection of the society. If we don't get any of that then we notice, consciously or otherwise, the lack of that mirror, and we consider the portrayal of the person/society to be shallower, less nuanced.

#553 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 09:31 AM:

Chiming in late on the gender question here, though I'm not sure I have much to add. To my mind, the issue is anthropological: individuals are shaped by the cultures they grow up in (and by those they live in, if different from the ones they grew up in). So the behaviors, beliefs, goals, expectations, etc. that you see in an adult reflect an interaction between their individual characteristics and the culture. We are used to gender being an important part of culture - it might matter in different ways in different places and times, but it always matters. A society where it genuinely doesn't matter - e.g. in Ancillary Justice - is very confusing.

Most of the time, people aren't really very reflective about their own culture unless they are in rebellion against some aspect of it, or have ventured out into a different culture and are forced to compare-and-contrast. This means that a lot of cultural background in characters comes out in the things they take for granted, what they pay attention to and what they don't. In Western culture, women have to think about gender in ways that men don't necessarily. A "man with boobs" character has the gender-based cultural expectations of a man in a female body.

I'm thinking, for comparison, about class differences in America. I recently read Linda Tirado's book Hand to Mouth and, similar to Scalzi's essay about Being Poor, it points out that if you grow up poor, you see things differently and think about them differently. A supposedly-poor character who never worried about paying a bill and wasn't aware how much food cost wouldn't be a convincingly poor character.

I recommend Martha Wells's Raksura books for an interesting nonhuman society in which there are gender and caste divisions that don't map clearly onto our culture. The first is The Cloud Roads, or there is an e-book omnibus called The Books of the Raksura (not to be confused with Stories of the Raksura, which are some follow-on novellas and short stories, also excellent but not where I would start.)

#554 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 09:36 AM:

me @553. Or, what dcb said @552

#555 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 09:54 AM:

dcb #552: I think looking at how children might grow up in a society in which there's no male/female distinction placed before puberty could be interesting - Jim Butcher plays with that in Marat society in his Codex Alera books.

I haven't read the books, but IMnsHO, this falls under "dubious with respect to biology". Kids recognize a difference even as toddlers. As Teresa has noticed, even juvenile hamsters recognize the difference. If a human society had that as a convention, even just a grammatical one, I'd expect to see some side-effects from suppressing the awareness. Also in psychological development, w.r.t. "modeling" of social roles.

#556 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 10:07 AM:

David Harmon @ #555:

From memory, there's a possible "slightly different biology" at play. But I think it's more the case that children are simply considered young Marat, with no big importance placed on "male" or "female" (I can't for the life of me recall what they refer to the wee bairns as, though).

#557 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 10:15 AM:

JJ @ 539: Again, I think we're mostly in agreement here--though I would repeat that, in my opinion, many examples of "superfluously gendered characters" is just poor writing. Or careless, not carefully thought-out world building.

The thing is, if you build a truly alien culture using essentially biological humans, you're going to have to deal with gender (in the sense of "male and female" as opposed to "masculine and feminine") because somebody has to make the babies. If you change the human animal that much--see Left Hand of Darkness--the culture should reflect that change. One of the things I love about Bujold is what she's doing to Barrayar: she's taking an essentially sexist culture (for good and sufficient historical reasons) and just . . . dropped the uterine replicator into the middle of it. There's an aside in one of the books where Cordelia gloats over what the replicator is doing to Barrayaran culture--and they don't even realize it's happening. Add in the class distinctions that are also part of that society, the fact that offworld technologies like the replicators are available only to the wealthy at first--and you have a culture about to undergo a gender-related earthquake . . . it's really fascinating, and it isn't even the main plot line. It's just--background. And world-building. And a writer who notices that when she does one thing, other parts of the world react. Mind you, I'm not saying that Bujold has been utterly in control of the process since the beginning--but she certainly seems capable of saying, "Hang on a minute. Let's look at that, shall we?" And that's one of the things I love about sff.

#558 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 10:16 AM:

I second the recommendation of Martha Wells's Raksura books. She's a frickin' genius. The rest of her books are excellent, too, but the Raksura stories immediately entered my pantheon of comfort reads.

@555 Gender is more complicated than you imagine.

#559 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 10:36 AM:

David Harmon @555:

Kids recognize a difference even as toddlers.

A lot of that is because their parents recognize one, though, and teach it to their kids; we'll say "that boy" or "that girl", "that man" or "that woman" when pointing someone out to them, we use gendered pronouns, etc. Teachers and childcare providers will talk about "boys and girls" when addressing a group. So they're learning, at an age when they're absolute sponges and creating a taxonomy for what differences matter in the world (why Chihuahuas and Great Danes are both dogs, but lions and tigers are different things) , that gender is one of the most important things about people. Of course they recognize it. They also attach a great deal of importance to it - a toddler can tell you what color someone's eyes are, but because their daycare teachers don't say "Okay, blue-eyes and brown-eyes, circle time", they don't regard it as a critical bit of information the way they are taught to do about gender.

#560 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 10:44 AM:

Sarah @558, I agree the rest of Wells's books are also excellent. I mentioned the Raksura because we're talking about gender and how it affects characters. But now I'm thinking about gender in my other favorite of hers, Wheel of the Infinite. And it's interesting that although characters are described as men or women and use gendered pronouns, there's very little distinction between the genders in that book - in dress, somewhat, but not in terms of power, what they are and aren't allowed to do, etc. There are men and women priests, Voices, traveling actors, river pirates, and no gender bias that I recall. Which I hadn't really noticed before.

#561 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 10:51 AM:

deb, #552: The interesting thing about that line is that it's directly derived from the experience of a woman going out in public after having taken a drag king workshop and makeover. The whole thing was discussed in some detail here a few years back; perhaps someone with better Google-fu can provide a link to the relevant conversation.

lorax, #559: Excellent point. See also, parents who don't want their baby immediately gender-identified (so, for example, buying onesies in gender-neutral colors) and the amount of pushback they get from EVERYONE. As a culture, one of the first things we are taught is that the single most important attribute of a person is their gender, and that attitude colors everything else. (And also explains a lot of the resistance to transfolk, and crap like that "biology decides restroom usage" bill.)

#562 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 10:59 AM:

OtterB @553: "Most of the time, people aren't really very reflective about their own culture unless they are in rebellion against some aspect of it, or have ventured out into a different culture and are forced to compare-and-contrast."

Thank you for the succinct argument for SF/F in translation! I wish the economics of it were easier, because I think the field would be much richer for it. The Three-Body Problem, the Strugatsky brothers, even Sapkowski's Witcher series. All start from unfamiliar places, and they answer even familiar questions in ways that are unexpectedly different.

As a fan, I can only say, "Moar plz!"

#563 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 11:26 AM:

While I was writing comment 540, I was thinking about two examples that really stood out for me. Unlike Gethenians, the people in both cases are standard unmodified humans, and both authors appear to assume a gender binary.

The first one is the entirety of The Dispossessed, where the society on Anarres has actually managed gender equality (as part of basically reinventing culture from the ground up). I remember Shevek saying that although in his experience men could lift heavier weights, women could work longer, and that he had often wished he was a woman to have that kind of endurance.

The other is from Dreamsnake. There's a scene where one character has been taking care of an infant a lot of the time. He wants to leave the community he's in, but feels guilty. The baby's mother says that her (male) partner was the one who had committed to the childcare when the (poly, IIRC) family had made the decision to have the baby, and though this other guy had done them a kindness by taking the burden, it was the father's responsibility. In other words, primary-carer responsibility did not immediately devolve on the mother.

Both of those societies struck me as ones where the authors (both female) had seriously thought out the implications of genuine gender equality. And in both cases, the resulting societies ended up pretty far from ours.

#564 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 11:30 AM:

@546 Elliot Mason -- Building on this (or trying) I've been playing the Dragon Age games for awhile now, and Bioware games since Jade Empire, and I frequently find myself playing a main character who reads vaguely masculine to me, even when the avatar's female.

This is (presumably) because Bioware sets up their dialog trees so that 99% of your options are available to both men and women, and the characters treat you exactly the same except for pronouns and whether you can trigger their romance subquests.

I think this is great of Bioware, for the most part, and I'm not at all suggesting they should change. But when I play my Qunari sword-swinger, after awhile my monkeybrain starts to dig for the correct box to put her in, because she is not reading quite right for cisgendered heterosexual female (or at least the one who's playing her.)

It's kind of interesting, because here we have characters designed to be very self-insert, but at the same time, the lack of gender markers is throwing me out of the self-insertion. Not because I'm terribly heavily gendered myself, but because I've never lived in a world where no one genders me, and so there's a not-insignificant chunk of myself assigned to navigating those waters, and that chunk is going "Uh...give me something to do, boss. I'm confused."

(The writing's not as male-gendered than it used to be, I'll add--Jade Empire, for whatever reason, every female avatar I played I was eventually pretty sure was at least bisexual. And there's nothing there I can put my finger on, and it didn't go the same way playing a gay male avatar, but the cumulative effect of all the dialog and camera shots somehow caused that brain chunk to go "not just heterosexual female! Got it, boss!" I think it may have been mostly the camera shots, honestly. You frame things differently if you expect people to think something's sexy, and the game kept showing the various female characters at angles that clearly was supposed to be read as sexy.)

As an interesting side-note--and this one I would NEVER have seen coming in a million years--it is just as mind-warping for me playing a character who is a foot taller than everybody else. Wandering around Dragon Age as a 7-foot-tall Inquisitor and having all the cut scenes with people addressing your collarbone had an actual effect on how I interacted with the game world. I got more protective and significantly more patronizing than I ever did playing a dwarf. "I will take care of all the small people. Don't worry, tiny person, I will smash the mean dragon for you."

That one hit me even more strongly than the gender issues. I'm not terribly large in the flesh, but I suddenly suspect if I were massive and physically powerful, I'd be fighting a tendency to turn into a real asshole.

#565 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 11:31 AM:

lorax @ 559: A lot of that is because their parents recognize [a difference], though, and teach it to their kids

A lot, but not all. As I understand it, gender identity as a physical concept kicks in with infants at around a year, if not sooner; it has, however, nothing to do with (and apparently no natural relationship to) societal rules for gender roles or stereotyping. I've known at least one four-year-old who firmly told his parents that he was a girl, despite having been born in a male body--they shrugged and more or less said, "okay," and bought him pink sneakers and "girly" clothing when he asked for them. As one of his classmates told me seriously: "So-and-so looks like a boy, but he's really a girl inside." (No, the pronouns weren't right, and I'm not sure why or if that was a sign of a problem. No one--including the child in question--seemed to care all that much, and he had a gender-neutral name, as it happens.)

#566 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 11:37 AM:

In re gender neutrality and learned gender differences - this turns out to be an issue in Mary Gentle's Golden Witchbreed where the Ortheans don't sexually differentiate (physically) until puberty. As I recall, this is played as a big revelation, with the Earth ambassador and her Orthean friend suddenly discovering this, and realizing that it explains a lot about why they have both been feeling there is something screwy about this person's cultural attitudes. It somehow knocks the bricks out from underneath unchallenged, unconscious assumptions.

#567 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 11:40 AM:

abi@563: This is why there is such institutional and social resistance to the thorough implementation of even simple gender-equality steps beyond a minimal level -- if there were real gender equality as regards (e.g.) childcare for both men and women, with equivalent expectations (or the lack thereof) the resulting changes propagating through workplaces and social networks would constitute a major revolution.

Instead, we get formal rules supporting e.g. gender-neutral parental leave or work/life balance policies, but informal constraints limiting the effect of those policies in scope to a few individuals or a limited amount of time.

#568 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 11:40 AM:

UrsulaV @ 564: it is just as mind-warping for me playing a character who is a foot taller than everybody else

Huh. That reminds me of something probably unrelated, but what the heck--I was told in grade school by someone (can't remember who) that being "the tall one" at age 12 would make a girl think of herself as "tall," even "too tall," for the rest of her life . . . and I think my experience supports that to a certain extent, if in reverse. I'm currently taller than the gradeschool classmates who once towered over me, and when I meet them again I still expect to "look up" (and am still for an instant surprised when I don't have to). I don't know how this translates for men, or if it does--for women, I expect it has something to do with girls usually getting their growth spurts before boys, and puberty kicking in at about the same time.

The thing is, early physical awareness does impact the way we see ourselves, and hence who we see ourselves as, in often unnoticed ways.

#569 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 12:02 PM:

UrsulaV @564 - Jade Empire (a game I liked for all sorts of reasons) actually offers options to pursue romantic options with two NPCs (one male, one female) regardless of your character's gender.

It's not quite balanced, though.... Female and gay male player characters eventually have to pick one potential partner and commit. Straight males, though, can pursue two of the female NPCs and potentially end up with both of them. I was very pleased with myself when I finally scored the threesome in Jade Empire. This may be because it's pretty hard to do - quite a bit harder than beating the final boss - or it may be because I am a terrible, terrible person. You choose.

The other point of inequality comes in the cutscene, where you and your chosen partner(s) acknowledge your feelings. If you have a straight m/f pairing, you gather your beloved into your arms for a passionate kiss, and the screen fades to black. (And you then get a martial-arts fight with ghosts in a surreal dreamscape, which is the game's equivalent of three asterisks and a paragraph beginning "Afterwards".) If you choose any other option, the discreet fade to black happens a few seconds sooner....

#570 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 12:13 PM:

@ 569 Steve Wright - Oh, I know! I've played every avatar through at least twice. But since I'm mostly not into women, for the most part, I romanced Sky a LOT, with one playthrough for Jade Fox.

I wish Black Whirlwind had been an option. He seemed like a good time. Sigh.

But still, even when playing a female avatar and strictly romancing Sky (who is canonically bisexual) I didn't feel like a straight cisgendered woman. I felt like a bisexual woman who happened to be into Sky.

I still suspect it was the camera angles. I just don't think the majority of straight women would have framed the body shots quite the same way.

#571 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 12:34 PM:

Ursula @564 Wandering around Dragon Age as a 7-foot-tall Inquisitor and having all the cut scenes with people addressing your collarbone had an actual effect on how I interacted with the game world.

I am six and a half feet tall in real life. I don't know if that's why my first Jade Empire play through I was a big monk who tried to do all good things for everyone who had a sidequest and was completely Way of the Open Hand ("LightSide"), and the second was tiny martial arts chick in a short skirt who would tell people to leave her alone, didn't really want to be on the adventure and went for the Way of the Closed Fist ("DarkSide"). Having said that, it's partly that the second playthrough means I'm more likely to pick the dialogue options that make you sound smug or sarcastic because it's funnier when you know what's coming.

#572 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 12:49 PM:

Mary Frances @ #568:

I am still occasionally weirded out by Britain. I am used to be pretty much at average male height. That is what I spent the bulk of my life as (and essentially all my formative years). In the UK, I am bordering on "tall" and I can actually feel a slight mental relief ambling around in the US, Sweden and Netherlands (where I am "average", "average" and "bordering on short").

#573 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 01:02 PM:

It is fascinating for me to enter a mostly-trans space, as I did when I attended the Be-All in Chicago early in my transition.

Suddenly I was surrounded by all these statuesque women in amazing heels and dresses, most of them at least a foot taller than me (with the heels) and with frills and done makeup for their party looks.

My dad's family is generally quite tall (my uncle Rob is the shortest -- he looks like he's standing in a hole in family photos -- and he's 5'11"), so I'm not unused to being towered over or being the shortest person in the room.

But it felt really different for the tower-ers to be women and not men. And they let me lead on the dance floor! That was some fun ballrooming, let me tell you.

I recentered my expectations thoroughly enough that when a gowned gal five inches SHORTER than me (I'm 5'6" and was wearing flats) asked to dance, it was almost dizzying reorienting my lead reflexes again.

My personal physicality turns out to be quite convenient for a female-to-male transition, as it happens. I'm shortish, measured against cis guys of similar origin, but not outlandishly so; because my legs are disproportionately long to my height (thanks, Dad), my inside leg for pants-fitting purposes is long enough, at 30", to let me shop the common sizes off the rack most places. Waist size is a bit trickier (depending on cut I need to get something between 38 and 46, to accomodate my hips), but still doable off the ordinary tables and racks in most stores. In shoes, I used to be unfeasibly large for women's sizing, but the same foot in men's shoe sizes is on the small end but well within the "everyone stocks those" sizes.

Many people are far from so lucky, and attempting to find well-fitting clothing that pleases one can be quite challenging if you are "unusual" for the gender of apparel you're shopping for.

And then there's my straight cis male friend who is starting to experiment with widening his gender presentation, who wishes clothes for guys came in more "interesting colors", and since he's significantly smaller than me in most directions can just shop ladies' small in workout wear and find all the bright colors and patterns he desires.

#574 ::: john, who is incognito and definitely not at work ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 01:49 PM:

I just happened to stumble onto this Boss Tweed quote yesterday: "I don't care who does the electing, so long as I get to do the nominating."

Now I'm curious what Tweed and the Puppies would think of each other.

#575 ::: Steve ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 01:57 PM:

With reference to creating worlds without gender differences - I strongly suspect that most people have a powerful drive to present themselves as one gender or the other. Society encourages this, and informs us _how_ to present as one gender (for example, makeup is usually a female thing, but there are some groups where it's a male thing), but I believe the drive is innate (otherwise trans people would not go to all the trouble and persecution of presenting a gender different from their biological sex). I wonder what would happen to a group of human children raised in isolation from any gender cues. When children raised without a language are put in contact with each other, they develop a new language (frex: Nicaraguan Sign Language). Would we see a similar spontaneous emergence of markers for gender performance?

#576 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 01:58 PM:

David Harman @555; Ingvar M @556: They're all called whelps. It's not that there's no recognised biological difference, but the implied society is one where, except for the purely biological (e.g. females are the ones that get pregnant), society doesn't have "male jobs/roles" and female jobs/roles".

Mary Frances @557: "and just . . . dropped the uterine replicator into the middle of it." Yes, I love that - what she's done with it.

Mary Frances @565: I think there's a distinction to be made here between "recognising self as male/female" and "being inculcated into societal norms for how male/female" ought to behave/be dressed etc. etc. (as in, the same baby dressed in pink will be cooed over and rocked gently, but in blue will be thrown up in the air and caught and told what a brave boy he is - stuff like that).

#577 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 02:13 PM:

dcb @ 576: I think there's a distinction to be made here between "recognising self as male/female" and "being inculcated into societal norms for how male/female" ought to behave/be dressed etc. etc.

Yup, definitely. I recently got into a fairly passionate argument with someone who apparently could not/would not see that distinction and flatly refused to accept there was one . . . probably why my brain tends to go there whenever the subject comes up, these days.

#578 ::: rcade ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 02:53 PM:

There's a discussion on File 770 about John Ringo's depiction of female characters. One of the Puppies supporters, who posts as "G.K. Chesterton," offered up this gem in defense of him:

"Ringo is so filled with women with agency that quite frankly they have ceased sounding like women."

#579 ::: rcade ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 02:56 PM:

There's a discussion on File 770 about John Ringo's depiction of female characters. One of the Puppies supporters, who posts as "G.K. Chesterton," offered up this gem in defense of him:

"Ringo is so filled with women with agency that quite frankly they have ceased sounding like women."

#580 ::: rcade ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 02:57 PM:

Apologies for the double post. The first time I submitted it I got a 500 Server Error instead of being taken back to this page.

#581 ::: Elisa ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 03:01 PM:

I know that I am late to the discussion and nobody here knows me - I have lurked my way through all three iterations of this discussion - but I am hoping that I can contribute to the conversation. Or at least occasionally vent. Now that I found Making Light, I want to say that I have really enjoyed the atmosphere and conversation and want to play too. So - here is my first attempt at joining in.

Short version - I was a longtime fan (StarCon Denver back in the day) and rather gradually fell away (graduate school, work, kids) - but am enough of an online lurker that I was aware of SP2 last year. I watched but didn't participate. (Other than to cheer one particular below No Award placement).

This time around the SP3/RP actions made me mad enough to get a supporting membership so that I can vote this year and nominate next year - the whole vague sense that I shouldn't nominate because I don't read enough in the year (I have been stuck in either nonfiction or middle/elementary grade fiction for years now) - water under the bridge. Compared to many of the the items on the ballot this year, I think virtually *anything* I might have nominated would have been a better choice.

I have started The Goblin Emperor and am enjoying it very much. So if nothing else, I am glad that I finally got my hands on a copy.

However (and this was why I finally got up the nerve to post a comment) - I just read "The Day the World Turned Upside Down" and, well, ummmmm ... I'm sorry, I think it is pretty bad. I know that a few other people have piped in with their lack of excitement, so I hope this is okay to discuss (and if the author or editor is around, I apologize - I know hearing that stinks).

I think that the author did manage to generate the portrait of a generally jerky lovelorn person wallowing in the aftermath of breaking up (the narrator reminded me of people in college after their first big breakup) so, while I didn't find the narrator particularly sympathetic (actually I mostly hated him after that one bit of behavior), I could understand the narrative choice (though, like in college it mostly made me want to dump a bucket of ice water over him or at least stay very far away from him). It is still possible to write a good story with a loathsome narrator.

What really, really drove me nuts was the bizarre and inconsistent abuse of physics (and biology). The world building (or unbuilding in this case) didn't make any sense!!!

Spoiler ? - Vs gur fjvgpu gb "hcfvqr qbja" jnf fb sbeprshy gung crbcyr jrer xvyyrq ol fynzzvat guebhtu gurve prvyvatf, ubj gur urpx qvq gur ohvyqvatf fgnl gbtrgure ? Lbh pbhyq fbzrubj cnentyvqr jvgubhg trggvat fubg bhg vagb fcnpr, ohg jngre fgnlrq chg ? What? I don't ... huh? (This isn't actually much of a spoiler but I can't get ROT13 to work again. Sorry)

The author was inconsistent with their use of the term down like when describing the Krogers bags were pulling someone down? i.e. out into space?

I don't know - if things suddenly flipped like that I am pretty sure that my brain would insist that the ground - where the dirt is - is down. Regardless of the direction that things were falling right then.

And he totally killed that fish. Fish do NOT breathe though their lips!

And stylistically, I just didn't think it was that well written. There is a core of an interesting idea there, but the descriptions were confusing at best. So, my question, are the things from the SP3/RP slates worse? I suppose I will try one, just to get a feel for the level of the material.

That is probably more than enough for a first comment. Just one last thing ...FANGIRL squeeeee for UrsulaV. (I have loved your books for years and the Dragonbreath books are some of my son's favorites. Mine too. I am also thrilled to know that Digger made it home.)

Sorry, I promise to behave myself in the future. I just needed to get that out of my system.

#582 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 03:03 PM:

UrsulaV, #564: I'm 5'6" (162.5 cm, or 1 5/8 m), which is pretty much dead average for a white American female. But I live in a city with a lot of Latino and Asian women, who average considerably shorter, and I spend a fair amount of time in areas where they are emphatically the majority. Sometimes it feels weird, and I catch myself thinking, "Where are all these tiny little women coming from?!"

Elliott, #573: Heh. You should hear my partner going on about the difficulties of finding women's shoes that fit. (He takes a 12 to 14 depending on the shape of the last.)

Mary Frances, #577: Very true. There's no biological reason why someone who identifies as male shouldn't want to play with dolls*, or someone who self-identifies as female shouldn't want to play football**. The primary reason that it doesn't happen more often is cultural conditioning.

* So now we give boys "action figures" which are totally not dolls, amirite? Even if the boys use them for the same kind of play women use dolls for (and that my best friend and I used to use our toy horses for).

** And indeed, we've always had tomboys -- it's far easier for women to do "man things" than it is for men to do "woman things" for reasons of relative status.

#583 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 03:04 PM:

Mary Frances @568: If I'm not thinking about it, I think of myself as a short person, because I was smaller than my two older brothers growing up. Now, I'm somewhere between 5'10 and 6', and it does vary from day to day (don't ask me how!) -- so I'm not really short. Or small. But that's my default self-definition, even when I'm the Designated Tall Person in the house.

#584 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 03:04 PM:

Mary Frances @568: If I'm not thinking about it, I think of myself as a short person, because I was smaller than my two older brothers growing up. Now, I'm somewhere between 5'10 and 6', and it does vary from day to day (don't ask me how!) -- so I'm not really short. Or small. But that's my default self-definition, even when I'm the Designated Tall Person in the house.

#585 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 03:10 PM:

Elisa @581 - I too am a fan of no importance who's just started shooting my mouth off around here, so I'm glad to see I'm not alone. (And I just finished sticking a spork or two into the Heuvelt story over on my LJ, so you're not the only one there, either.)

#586 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 03:16 PM:

It happens to all of us.

#587 ::: Elisa ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 03:18 PM:

Steve Wright @585

Thanks! That makes me feel better (both of the things you said).

#588 ::: Kelly Jennings ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 03:19 PM:

580: rcade: I love how, over on File770, calling GK Chesterton on that little Freudian slip is being characterized as bullying him.

Also, how he claims to have just put the sentence into his comment as a "trap."

Oh, of course. How VOX DAY of him.

#589 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 03:21 PM:

"One gender or the other" ... except the people who don't.

#590 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 03:40 PM:

Elisa #581:

Elisa, welcome. Do you write poetry?

The story didn't work for me either. I got frustrated early on with the fish in 7-UP bit but kept going but it didn't get better for me. I was not impressed by “The Ink Readers of Doi Saket” either and that was a Hugo finalist last year so I suspect that his writing style just isn't for me.

#591 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 03:44 PM:

Lee @582 * So now we give boys "action figures" which are totally not dolls, amirite? Even if the boys use them for the same kind of play women use dolls for (and that my best friend and I used to use our toy horses for).

My older daughter (now 22) didn't much care for dolls when she was a preschooler. She could, however, be found tucking her dump truck into bed with a blanket and a pacifier.

Elisa @581, welcome.

Sarah @589 "One gender or the other" ... except the people who don't. He did say "most people," which I think is probably true.

On the other hand, the gendered differential treatment begins so early that it's really hard to tell how much might be innate. One online friend just asked another, about a forthcoming grandchild, if they knew if it was a boy or a girl. And then went on to add, "You would think being the parent of a transgender person [of whom they have, by the way, been enormously supportive], I would know how silly a question that is, but you still can't help daydreaming about life with either a little boy or a little girl."

#592 ::: Steve ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 03:46 PM:

589: That's why I said most, and not all. Naturally there are people who don't really care, or like flipping back and forth or blending. I suspect they're in the minority, but that's not really relevant - a society that works for 'most' people is not remotely good enough. That said, I am making an assumption that most cisgendered people feel strongly about performing their gender (to a greater or lesser degree) - it could be that they're all just going along with the flow, and the only people who _really_ care are trans.

#593 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 03:48 PM:

Elisa: The first comment is the most difficult. I hope we see more of you (and Steve Wright as well). This is a pretty welcoming place, in general. Even if double-posting happens unexpectedly.

#594 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 03:48 PM:

@591 "one or the other" gets on my nerves. As if there were only two genders.

#595 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 03:51 PM:

Anyone who is new to wearing women's clothes and shoes should be warned that sizing for these things is a malicious trap: nothing you learn from one shopping trip can be counted on to help you in the next, not even, sometimes, within the same brand, season, or model line. The only way to survive with your self-esteem and optimism intact is to approach the quest for clothing with a sense of humor and modest expectations.

I'm short: I got a little taller in my late thirties due to Xi Gong practice, and now I'm shorter again due to arthitis of the knees. I haven't lost length in my spine, though, I think. One unexpectedly pleasant consequence of this, since I do almost all my shopping in thrift stores, is that somebody else's castoff capris are perfectly fine full-length trousers for me. And someone else's miniskirt might well be a knee-length jobbie for me: which is about where I want to wear skirts most of the time, now.

#596 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 03:53 PM:

My mother knit baby sweaters for a number of people. She only used blue and pink if she had to: she preferred pastel yellow, green, and orange, because people don't read gender into those.

#597 ::: Kelly Jennings ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 03:56 PM:

"My older daughter (now 22) didn't much care for dolls when she was a preschooler. She could, however, be found tucking her dump truck into bed with a blanket and a pacifier."

My kid did the same thing with her dinosaurs!

#598 ::: Elisa ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 04:03 PM:

Thanks for the welcome. I hope to visit often.

I write (I have a published textbook) but am not quite willing to embark on poetry yet.

I am supposed to be grading term papers (thus my desperate attempts to find other things to read and my kneejerk desire to grab a red pen while reading the novelettes.)

#599 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 04:05 PM:

My son's nurturing play was with this toy, whose major claim was that you could pump it full of air and it would hop around like a black widow spider that had unsuccesfully tried to swallow a grasshopper whole. He made it a nest and covered it with blankets and presented it with little plates full of pretend food, and he sang it lullabies.

He's not the one who grew up to be a zookeeper, though, that's the other one (he's a doctor, but so far all his patients have been homo sapiens).

#600 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 04:06 PM:

@ 595 - During the Digger Kickstarter, when they were offering women's cut t-shirts, the sheer woe in my friend Jeff's discovery about the horrors of women's sizing...I laughed, I admit. But sympathetically.

@ 581 - Hi! Thank you! And hey, don't worry--I still secretly am convinced that when I comment here, people think "oh, it's that dim but well-meaning woman again, saying things we all thought of years ago..." and yet they haven't kicked me out an airlock yet!

#601 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 04:11 PM:

Otter B @591: Cordelai Fine has some interesting things to say about this in 'Delusions of Gender' (which is an excellent, and often very funny book in general): she thinks there's evidence that young children suck up *and amplify* whatever classifications they're presented with. So you only have to give them a small nudge in the direction of traditional gender roles (or caste systems; or whatever hierarchical classification it might be.) and their brains will do much of the rest. But you do have to give them that nudge to get it started.

If that's correct, there does seem to be an analogy with the way that kids who are exposed to bits of vocabulary create a grammar to go with it (which I take to be the point of the Nicaraguan Sign Langauage example).

#602 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 04:12 PM:

Lucy @595:

This is the biggest reason I want to learn to make patterns and sew. As a cisman, most clothing sizes are consistent enough that I can "know" what size I am, but with short legs and carrying my extra fat compactly in my torso, it's hard to find clothes that fit (few places carry 44x28 trousers, or dress shirts with 20" necks).

I know the situation is much worse in womens wear, where women have a much larger variety of body shapes inscrutably narrowed down to a single even digit (even mens trousers have two measurements, as do dress shirts). Not only is a size "10" not consistent in size between different manufacturers, two women of the same "size" can wear the same outfit much differently.

I have, once or twice, made dresses "to measure' that had a much better fit than anything the wearer normally wears, and I don't claim to be good at it.

It's a shame there are too few "made to measure" vendors of women's wear, or that the ones that exist are so expensive. I think if it could be done cheaply it would revolutionize women's clothing.

#603 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 04:12 PM:

Elisa @581:

Welcome! Please do continue to comment!

Ursula @600:
I still secretly am convinced that when I comment here, people think "oh, it's that dim but well-meaning woman again, saying things we all thought of years ago..." and yet they haven't kicked me out an airlock yet!

I feel the same way at least once a week. I've come to the conclusion that it's normal, natural, and safe to ignore.

#604 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 04:14 PM:

Abi, #379:

No, he's pedantic all the time.

Thank you. You have given me my new motto. And thanks to Tom Whitmore for the assist in #378. See @MrBeamJockey's profile on Twitter.

(Can you believe somebody else had taken @BeamJockey?)

#605 ::: Elisa ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 04:21 PM:

Can I just drop this here?

"The interlocking flutes were sharp edged and equipped with heavy-duty pins as long as his forearm that secured it in the off-hours."

So, am I pedantic in thinking that the narrator's forearm, therefore, is securing "it" ?

#606 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 04:25 PM:

praisegod barebones @601, I've seen similar statements in the also-excellent "Parenting Beyond Pink and Blue" (which, somewhat disappointingly, did not address non-gender-transforming children, just treating boys and girls differently). Once they've got the notion that gender is an important classifier, they'll start overgeneralizing like mad - so if one boy at their school habitually wears green, then green must be for boys. They're probably both referencing the same original studies, but since it was a library book I can't look them up.

#607 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 04:27 PM:

praisegod barebones @601, Delusions of Gender sounds interesting.

I've had on my "maybe purchase" list for some time a book named Along Those Lines: The Boundaries That Create Our World by Peter Cashwell. It falls in the gray zone where I'd like to read it but am not sure I want to own it, and unfortunately the library doesn't have it.

Anyway. The description says, in part, "After years of crossing borders in search of new birds and new landscapes, Peter Cashwell's exploration of lines between states, between time zones, and between species led him to consider the lines that divide genders, seasons, musical genres, and just about every other aspect of human life. His conclusion: Most had something in common—they were largely imaginary."

#608 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 04:31 PM:

Don't think so. (A pair of commas would greatly help that sentence, but it's still got problems.)

#609 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 04:41 PM:

Elisa @581

I had the same problem with _Upside Down_ that you did. The physics / engineering didn't make sense to me, and I didn't like the protagonist (and felt sorry for that fish.) I read it before it was nominated, growled something uncomplimentary about magical realism and forgot about it until it turned out to be the top non-Puppy story.

Obviously some people liked it very much. So much that they didn't need to be coached by a slate in order to vote for it. So be it and I'm happy for them that they got a choice they liked on the ballot. But it isn't my thing.

And that's the thing, I don't *have* to put it above No Award just because it's the only non-Puppy story. Once I realized that, any sense of conflict I had about that category went away.

I'm also reading _Three Body Problem_ and I don't like it either. I don't think it's a translation problem--the characters keep doing weird bizarre things that just make no sense for them as people, and some of the physics makes no sense at all either. I'm over halfway through and I wonder if I'm going to finish or not.

So just because it's an honest nomination doesn't mean it will be your cup of tea.

#610 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 04:43 PM:

Buddha Buck @602: In the girthiest end of my pregnancy I was wearing men's 46W 28L (or 30, if I couldn't get 28) pants. Luckily, I was not employed, so all I needed to worry about was warmth and not being naked, not any of the complicated "professional appearance" issues.

This is why I know Old Navy goes up to a 46" waist and down to a 28" inseam in their ordinary on the shelf pants sizes, though they stock fewer of both of those than the more central sizes. :->

Lee @582: When I was last determinedly trying to buy shoes on the ladies' size chart, I was between a size 10 and a 12 depending on the last used (I have always had feet that are very broad at the ball, so width is an issue; if it comes in wide widths I can get away with shorter). Then I started buying guy shoes. Then I got pregnant, and -- in one of the MANY ways that I got Bizarro World long-term gestation sequelae -- afterwards, my feet were 9Narrow in women's sizing. Que sera sera. I'm not sure what my actual measured size in men's shoes is, because I was so up in the air about it I just tried them on till they fit and bought THAT one.

I used to know all the tricks for big-girl shoes (one of which is "Zappos is amazing". Another is "did you know you could widen real leather shoes slightly with a broom handle?"), and am glad to share them with my trans sisters when the chance arises.

Pants have long been my nemesis. I have been known, when attempting to buy 3-4 pairs of Can Wear Them To Work nice-ish pants, to go into a medium-large mall and enter every purveyor of apparel, and try on EVERY PAIR in roughly the right size that isn't completely inappropriate in color or style ... and leave the mall with perhaps two pairs of pants that mostly sort of fit and weren't irredeemably ugly.

There really isn't a "good" body type that makes it easy for anyone to buy ladies' clothes with any confidence that they'll fit before you try them on. There are occasional brands that can be trusted to be consistent enough to give repeatable results, which is nice, but which brand works on YOUR body is something that can only be discovered with massive amounts of labor and time.

Elisa @581: Welcome! A valiant first effort! You do know about the open threads, right? They're like hanging out in a random room with all the folks from Making Light talking about whatever comes to mind. Or what I use it for a lot is, I'll see something else-Net and think, "Oh, man, that's SUCH a Fluorospherian thing," and then come over here and share it.

#611 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 04:49 PM:

Elliot @610:

The last time I went to Old Navy, I was wearing 44x30 Old Navy khakis that had tears by the beltloops (from keys pulling down, or pockets catching on chair arms), and so needed to be replaced. The 44x30's I found on the shelf were (a) in a revised style, and (b) didn't fit, even accounting for the old ones stretching.

I have not found 44x28 in the store, only online. But if they've changed the fit and style, I can't order online until I find out what my new size is.

#612 ::: Lady Kay ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 04:54 PM:

#573 ::: Elliott Mason

I am a tall (5'8"-5'9" depending on yoga) ciswoman. I tower over so many women--there are times that I feel like a giant. I have a regular social event which is trans-supportive, and finally the women are my height!!

Not all stories are about the inner lives of their protagonists, but when they are, I would expect some reflection of the gender presentation and sexual orientation--and how it is accepted or rejected by the society the character is in. Agender is a possibility, but not the default unless the author sells that with many more details.

#613 ::: Steve ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 04:59 PM:

601: That's pretty much exactly what I was thinking when I brought up Nicaraguan Sign Language. I hadn't heard of that book before - thanks for bringing it up.

#614 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 05:06 PM:

It seems to me that yes, most people care about gender (including their own), but there's a lot of variation in how much it matters to people. That's something that isn't talked about much, though, in part because there's not much reason to bring up things like "I don't care that much if a stranger mis-guesses my gender." So I'm not even sure whether it's a better model-of-humans to treat that as one variable, or whether "how much I identify with a gender" varies separately from "how much I care whether other people see/understand/accept what I know my gender to be."

#615 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 05:15 PM:

Oh, God, yes, re: varying pants sizes! Consider jeans. I once tried on the same brand of jeans, same size, same make, in three different stores. By the time I found ONE pair that fit, I could tell that there was at least a 2-inch variance in waist band. (I measured, though only against the ones available at the last store.)

I've gotten to the point where I don't just check sizes, I also look for the "made in [what country]" tag before I take jeans to the dressing room to try them on. Then, if they fit, I don't bother with the pairs made in different places . . . or vice versa, of course.

#616 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 05:52 PM:

@ 607 OtterB - I'm in that book! But I confess that I only read the bits about birding. Peter's a friend, though, and his "The Verb To Bird" is excellent.

#617 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 06:19 PM:

Steve, #575: "With reference to creating worlds without gender differences - I strongly suspect that most people have a powerful drive to present themselves as one gender or the other. Society encourages this, and informs us _how_ to present as one gender."

This is why the whole "What makes a female character female? What makes a male character male?" thing is such a bugaboo for me.

My gender identity matches my physical gender. My sexual identity is cis with my physical gender. But my "intellectual identity" -- my preferred activities and interests, and my personality tone and affect -- is much more similar to that traditionally assigned to the opposite gender. And I'm tired of, my whole life, constantly being told -- both verbally and through societal norms and disapproval -- that I'm not "gender" enough for my gender. I'm tired of continally hearing jokes about my gender, and reading about characters who supposedly match my gender, when most of it bears very little resemblance to me.

Please don't think I don't realize how much easier I have it because I'm cis. I know I have a huge amount of privilege compared to many of the people here, that I don't even begin to know what life is like for people who aren't straight and gender-matched, and I try very hard not to take that for granted.

I just deeply resent all the gender stereotypes which make life harder for anyone who doesn't slot neatly into those gender stereotypes.

#618 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 06:34 PM:

I've always found David Weber's politics a little confusing, even though he's advertised as a conservative. When, for example, he writes about the relationship between Manticore's nobility and the commoners, he sounds very liberal, then he starts to talk about economic theory and suddenly he's Mr. Conservative. Then he shows a woman as an important diplomat or ship captain and suddenly he's liberal, then his heroes use a weapons system based in Reaganite "Star Wars" anti-missile development and he's a conservative again.

I see him as a conservative with very strong liberal urges; possibly a "latent liberal..."

#619 ::: Elyse ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 06:43 PM:

Women's clothes. Argh.

I have a petite torso and tall arms and legs, so nothing fits. (My youngest brother is just the opposite -- all his height is in his torso.)

Fortunately, I'm reasonably flatchested, so I can wear men's long-sleeved shirts with 32 inch sleeves. I have never found women's clothes with 32 inch sleeves that will fit someone less than 5'6" and not look worse than the men's styles do.

Men's shirts are usually also more durable than long sleeved blouses made for women.

Women's clothes with buttons feel weird now...

#620 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 06:48 PM:

JJ @ 617: I don't think it's a "bugaboo," JJ, at least not as you've expressed it in this thread. It's been an interesting discussion, both in terms of writing techniques and of culture, I'd say. (And on a personal level, I don't think you are over-reacting either. There have been times when I've wanted to smack people who assume that any intellectual interest is gendered; why shouldn't boys take dance classes and girls take autoshop, if they're interested? It's almost as bad as the people who assume that intellectual capacity is gendered. One of my first employers--we're talking decades ago--was an enthusiastic and capable knitter. He had no problem with calmly and utterly leveling people who thought that that was a "feminine" activity/interest, but I sometimes wonder--he was in his fifties at the time--how many years it had taken him to achieve that ability to dismiss the astonishment of others . . . especially other men.)

It occurs to me that that might be an interesting exercise in world-building: create a biologically gendered people who have well-defined gender roles that are different from the ones we assume. Not "opposite," exactly, just different. Maybe even flat out peculiar, from a this-world perspective, like, oh . . . women being the sports-minded ones? No, that's just reversal. Dance, maybe? As I said above, there's no reason for an interest in dance to be gendered. But would that just be reversal, too? (Quick, someone give me some more gender-neutral or should-be-gender-neutral activities! Must be my own cultural imperatives kicking in, because all of a sudden I having problems thinking of any.) You'd have to find a way to account for the biological differences, probably right from the "earliest times" so the roles involving child-bearing don't get too engrained, but still. Might be a way to explore gender issues--or even cultural differences. Or maybe not. Has it already been done, does anyone think?

It also occurs to me that there are some "neutral" activities that have been gendered by the surrounding culture even though there is no need for them to be, like, well, bike-riding. I know the original "women's bicycles" were because women wore skirts, but we still have "boys bikes" and "girl's bikes" and I see no reason why. (In fact, even as a child, I couldn't figure out why the boys were the ones who rode the bikes with the bars across the middle; once I had a basic understanding of male anatomy, they seemed a lot more appropriate for girls.)

#621 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 07:03 PM:

Sarah, #594: I agree; it's like the way that atheists are always overlooked in discussions of religious freedom.

The problem (for me, at least) is that it's deeply baked into the culture that there are only two genders, and the idiom reflects the culture, and gets used out of habit, without thinking about it. (Sort of like the way that I always intend to say "Gracias" to the waiter at my favorite Mexican restaurant, but then at the time what comes out instead is "Thank you".) So we need people like you, who remind us when we slip, so that in future we won't slip as often -- or, hopefully, eventually, at all.

Elisa, #598: Ooh. I wish you (or someone) would put up a representative sampling of scanned pages with corrections marked in red!

UrsulaV, #600: Oh, yes. We get to give chapter and verse about that over and over again to customers who are disappointed that we "only have men's shirts". (We describe them as "unisex".) And I've found myself doing the same thing in comments on blog posts where that comes up.

It really isn't because whoever ordered the shirts is anti-woman, or doesn't stop to think that women exist. It's because in one supplier's catalog alone, and not considering tank-tops, spaghetti-straps, or long-sleeve and 3/4-sleeve styles, there are 74 different solid-color shirts identified as "women's cut", none of which is interchangeable with any other. And our experience has been that (1) no matter which style we order, for at least 70% of the people who want a woman's shirt, it will be the wrong one -- wrong neckline, wrong sleeve style, too short, too long, size M is too tight and size L fits like a tent, etc. etc. etc. and (2) 90% of the people who ask about a women's cut will be okay with the unisex version.

We do have 2 designs that we sometimes print on the one "women's cut" blank we order, and we're willing to supply any other design on that blank as a special order if it will fit -- a number of our designs are simply too large to fit on a women's-cut blank -- but that's why most of what we have on the table is unisex.

OtterB, #607: I have a quibble over describing interspecies lines as "largely imaginary", because one of the things that differentiates species is interfertility -- different species don't interbreed, or if they do the offspring are generally nonfertile (cf. mules). Yes, there are a few edge cases even about that, but as a general rule it appears to be solid.

Or perhaps I'm misreading? It's a little ambiguous; certainly state lines and time zones are arbitrary agreements (and could therefore be described as "imaginary" because only the recognition of the agreement holds them in place), and so that part of the passage seems to be lumped in with the second part.

Mary Frances, #615: Not to mention that many jeans, even those sold as "women's", seem to have been designed for men; if you have any hips at all, you can get them to fit in the waist OR the hips, but not both at once.

Quite by accident, I discovered that Gloria Vanderbilt jeans fit my body type well, and now that's all I buy. Size 16 gives me a trim fit, size 16W gives me a relaxed fit. (And in almost any other brand of pants or skirt, I wear an 18, so there's clearly some vanity sizing going on here.) Also, price becomes less of an issue when you buy them at thrift shops. :-)

Roaman's, OTOH, seems to have an issue with T-shirt sizing that probably results from not using a consistent supplier. I have 2 size-L V-necks that fit just fine, but the next time I bought size L they fit like a tent, and when I bought V-necks in size M, the neckline was cut so low my bra showed. Go figure.

Alex, #618: I think of Weber as a very good example of the so-called "socially liberal but economically conservative" position.

#622 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 07:58 PM:

Abi @563: I'm incredibly grateful, looking back, for all the poly representation in McIntyre's work. Diane Duane's and a few others, as well, but I remember picking up a lot of Vonda McIntyre novels at a young and impressionable age, without being told that they had any particular message, and just being comforted by the regular presence of polyamorous characters in the foreground or background. It was at a time when queerness was gaining some level of public awareness and attention but polyamory had not really arrived at that threshold (the "these people exist" articles started arriving in the early 2000s, IIRC) and it was very good for me to have a grounding in stories that made me feel less like a freak.

#623 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 08:02 PM:

Lee @621 - I agree with you on Weber's politics; he strikes me as libertarian-conservative, of the "government has no business regulating people's choices in a free market" type.

As a libertarian-socialist type myself, I can sort of get along with people like that - we both agree that government is a necessary evil, we just disagree about how much is necessary and which bits. Makes for much friendlier arguments than with those of an authoritarian persuasion ("government is right and necessary to promote the One True Way*") or hardline anarchist/libertarian types ("government is always evil no matter what").

*I grow more and more convinced, as I grow older, that it actually doesn't matter what the "One True Way" is, in an authoritarian state - whether it is Communism or Capitalism or Fundamentalism or even Pointillism**, they all seem to end up the same way, with a favoured elite of the "correct" political persuasion on top, and the rest of us leading miserable, fearful, impoverished lives.

**Mind you, I could never live under a hard-line Pointillist regime. It'd drive me dotty.

#624 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 08:09 PM:

At least as evidenced in the Honorverse, Weber is a nominal equalitarian with a lot of unexamined misogynistic and kyriarchical assumptions baked into his brain. See also "some of the worst gender-policing I've ever had directed at me was said by another trans person (who was working out their internalized misogyny and binarism)".

His narrative voice likes to congratulate itself about how equal-minded it is while still doing some really reactionary things and not mentioning the mismatch.

#625 ::: DanAudy ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 08:39 PM:


That was a wonderfully articulated description of the way I so very frequently feel. I think that is a key reason that men should be as motivated to destroy the patriarchy as women. While it grants us benefits (unasked for, unearned, and to the detriment of others) it still constrains our lives and our happiness in such a profound way that it is hard to conceive of what the lives of men would look like without it.

#626 ::: Robert Z ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 08:42 PM:

Welcome, Elisa, from another new kid.

@593: Indeed! It only took um nine years (and a Bloviation of Puppies) before I finally got up the gumption to post my first real comment here.

@605: There's nothing singular in that sentence besides "his forearm." If "it" was "them," I'd think the pins were securing the flutes. As it is, it definitely seems the pins are securing his forearm, but honestly I don't know what's going on. Context might help: perhaps the "it" alludes to something in a previous sentence somewhere? But even so: after a barrage of nouns, a floating pronoun almost always means trouble.

And... is it me, or has something shifted in all this Hugo/Puppy dramalama in the last week or so? Lightened somewhat? A month ago, I was thinking "invasive species," but now I'm thinking "extinction bursts." I feel almost sanguine.

#627 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 08:42 PM:

lorax #559: A lot of that is because their parents recognize one, though, and teach it to their kids

Not completely: This is why I brought up those hamsters -- they probably aren't doing any such thing. I do expect that instincts related to gender (like most human instincts) are largely "outsourced" to prepared learning, but the "prepared" part of that still implies some basis in neurology and physiology, and thence in development. It's not that you can't override the defaults with cultural imperatives, but it takes some effort and introduces a vulnerability in your culture.

Mary Frances #620: "... even as a child, I couldn't figure out why the boys were the ones who rode the bikes with the bars across the middle; once I had a basic understanding of male anatomy, they seemed a lot more appropriate for girls.)


#628 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 08:58 PM:

Me #627: Note that the biological basis doesn't have to be all that reliable -- as long as it "mostly" works, it will essentially be providing its signal to a communal echo-chamber, and if it's not specifically countered or overridden, it will affect whatever else is going on.

#629 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 09:04 PM:

Mary Frances @#620

I still cannot figure out why the men's bike have that bar there (I know why the women's do not (skirts and all) but it baffles me why the men version does). And if it is historical - things do change; this does not seem to...

#630 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 09:06 PM:

DanAudy, #625: YES!!! The patriarchy and its policing of gender is at least as harmful to men as to women, especially since what constitutes "masculinity" is so very, very fragile. It's as easy for a man to fall off the pedestal of Real Manhood (tm) as it is for a woman to fall off the pedestal of Proper Ladyhood (tm), and the results in both cases are similar -- the fallen one is now considered fair prey. Only the exact predatory response differs, and not always even that.

#631 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 09:10 PM:

That's why I said that sentence had more problems than an added pair of commas would fix.
The subject looks like it should be the flutes, but then you have the pins holding - something - that seems to be singular. (I can't figure out how the flutes and the pins go together, either.)

The last time I saw a sentence that bad, it was on the graduation writing test in college - and none of the choices they had available were better.

#632 ::: Will McLean ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 09:23 PM:


"I still cannot figure out why the men's bike have that bar there (I know why the women's do not (skirts and all) but it baffles me why the men version does). And if it is historical - things do change; this does not seem to..."

Engineering. If the rider isn't wearing a skirt, the default "male" frame is the lightest and strongest solution.

#633 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 09:25 PM:

Annie Y @ 629: I looked it up once, and it apparently had something to do with strengthening the frame, particularly when bikes were made out of less-strong materials. I do know that women's competition bikes also have the bar, even today, so maybe that's still true even though bikes are now more solidly made?

#634 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 09:26 PM:

I still cannot figure out why the men's bike have that bar there

Looks to me like having the top bar be straighter...more horizontal?...makes the frame of the bike into a wider, and thus sturdier, triangle. Step-throughs aren't as sturdy but are necessary to allow a rider in a skirt to mount the bike without flashing the world.

#635 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 09:27 PM:


Ah, that will do it. Should have figured that one out on my own I guess:)

#636 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 09:27 PM:

Or what Will McLean said, more knowledgeably, at @ 632 . . .

#637 ::: DanAudy ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 09:30 PM:


Well, I'd hesitate to say 'at least as harmful' given how truly appalling the impacts of the patriarchy are against women. On the other hand I don't think that there is any need to 'win' at being the most oppressed (this isn't the oppression olympics after all) and we can acknowledge that it hurts everyone in profoundly different ways.

One of the interesting things (from a distant and intellectual standpoint) is that those predatory responses are themselves often a product of the dysfunctional system of manhood in which we live that leaves so many men feeling isolated from the world, vulnerable, and their only way to find a sense of power is to prey on others the way they fear being preyed on themselves. Whether they realise it or not they are as much victims of the patriarchy as those other men and women who they prey on.

#638 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 09:41 PM:

I do think that if men wanted the world to be different, they'd change it. They're the ones in charge.

#639 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 09:44 PM:

I'm really not in favor of the high bar. For most purposes a low bar modern bike is plenty strong and light enough. I'm getting a step-through bike not only because it is the coolest looking folding bike I saw, but also because as I get older, shorter, and less mobile in the joints, I'm having way too much trouble mounting and dismounting, and that's with an extra-special short bike. As a bonus, my folder will be eight pounds lighter than my current bike, even though it's pretty heavy for a folder. Also, I do cycle in skirts sometimes when I feel like it, to the apparent amusement of some vocal youngsters I've passed on the street. No, I don't think they were heckling me. I think they thought it was adorable to see a little round old lady cycling down the street in a skirt.

#640 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 09:47 PM:

Mary Frances @633:

Having the top bar as close to the seat as possible minimizes the leverage that forces applied to the seat have on the frame.

Sarah @638:

That presumes that "men" can act as a monolithic entity.

#641 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 10:19 PM:

Steve @ 592:

On cis people perform their gender
As a data point, I'm a cis woman, and I do actively perform my gender. As a woman in IT, it's a bit of a subversive act - when I wear a skirt to work, I'm actively refusing to pretend that I'm just like everyone else (mostly cis male) in my department, yet I'm still damn good at my job.

On the other hand, when I wear that same skirt to church, it's a way of blending in and signaling that I'm a responsible member of the congregation. Basically, using stereotypes to deliberately trigger a different reaction than I'd get at work.

I know women are generally socialized to select clothing based on when and where it will be worn, so even deliberately wearing "inappropriate" clothing has that socialization in the background. What I don't know is how many actively think about this as (one) aspect of gender performance.

#642 ::: Will McLean ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 10:40 PM:

@ 639

If you want a bike that folds, that's another set of tradeoffs. I have no idea how a top bar design would fare in that arena.

#643 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 10:51 PM:

Cat at #609: The physics in The Three-Body Problem is mostly explained towards the end, if you can swallow the bit about unfolding a proton from 11 dimensions into 2, engraving a computer onto the surface, and folding it back up again.

#644 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 10:59 PM:

Buddha Buck @602: Have you tried Jos A. Bank? You and I are close to being of a size: last time I bought pants I bought 44x29. I had no trouble finding pants there. The prices are a little on the high side, but I do find their wares to be well-made.

ObHugo: I've now read Ancillary Sword and actually enjoyed it more than Justice. Reading Justice, I found the process of piecing together the split timeline while also figuring out the rules of the author's world to be just a little overwhelming. Sword didn't have that problem.

Parts of Sword make an interesting compare-and-contrast with a part of The Dark Between the Stars.

In Dark, we have a chapter in which a high-powered business executive reminisces about the background of poverty that she struggled up from. Her family is portrayed as shiftless layabouts, who sit around playing video games while she works to educate herself and earn money that they leech from her. She eventually casts them off, saying (not an exact quote) "You're not willing to work and be something, you just sit around and resent those who have more than you." (emphasis in the original)

In Sword, we also have characters who live in poverty. They work on a tea plantation, under a system rigged against them: their wages are based on tea-picking quotas set unfairly high, while they must buy necessities of life from a company store whose prices are likewise set unfairly high. Strikes are met with government force.

One of the tea-pickers eventually comes before a magistrate, for reasons relating to the plot. The magistrate says (again not an exact quote), "I don't understand why you don't apply your obvious intelligence and passion to working hard and improving your situation." At that point in the book it's clear to the reader that the statement is fatuous: no humanly-attainable amount of work could improve her situation.

Probably most readers would regard one of these as a political tract that throws you out of the story, while the other is a portrayal of real life that, while admittedly a message, is a salutary one. There might be some disagreement about which is which.

#645 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 11:03 PM:

@629 Annie Y:

The bar on boys' bicycles gives strength to the frame to resist twisting and collapse. Women's bicycles are structurally much weaker and more vulnerable. They were designed that way 125 years ago because of long skirts and the bloody things have lingered on.

#646 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 11:06 PM:

Cat, #609: I'm also reading Three Body Problem and I don't like it either. I don't think it's a translation problem -- the characters keep doing weird bizarre things that just make no sense for them as people, and some of the physics makes no sense at all either. I'm over halfway through and I wonder if I'm going to finish or not.

I struggled with TBP also. I had Physics courses as part of my university curriculum as well as a strong childhood interest and study of astronomy, and V unq gur "frperg" bs gur iveghny-ernyvgl tnzr svtherq bhg cerggl dhvpxyl ba gur svefg gvzr jr ragre vg. (Gubhtu V fgvyy unir n frevbhf obar gb cvpx gung gur obbx fubhyq unir orra ragvgyrq Gur Sbhe-Obql Ceboyrz.) V'z abg n ivqrbtnzre, fb gur jubyr IE tnzr guvat (juvpu frrzf gb or jung vf znxvat n ybg bs crbcyr tb, "Bu, jbj, terng obbx!") yrsg zr havzcerffrq.

The part mentioned by Allan Beatty at #643 is cool (and abi, you may want to Rot13 that comment), but IMHO the depth of character development in the book is not at all well-done, and that's where it really fails for me.

#647 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 11:13 PM:

UrsulaV @616 I'm in that book! Cool!

Lee @621, good point re species having a biological definition rather than a consensus one. I was thinking of it in terms of the kingdom/phylum/etc. categorization. Since I haven't read the book I'm not sure - but this discussion prompted me to get off my duff and order it from interlibrary loan, so I'll see.

#648 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 11:19 PM:

Steve Wright writes in #623:

**Mind you, I could never live under a hard-line Pointillist regime. It'd drive me dotty.

Pausing only to laugh at this, allow me to assure you that you need not worry. No Pointillist regime has ever been truly hard-line.

#649 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 11:53 PM:

abi, this thread is getting long, and before you decide to close it (if you do), I have got to confess something about the title. You see, when I first saw it, I read it as "The Search for Rockettes." And for an instant, I found myself wondering why the Fluorosphere was recruiting a kick-line . . .

Really. Sorry. (Blush.)

#650 ::: Lyle Hopwood ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2015, 11:58 PM:

"The interlocking flutes were sharp edged and equipped with heavy-duty pins as long as his forearm that secured it in the off-hours."

"It" is a door, I think. The first sentence of the story is about "the door leading to the Tephrist's studio". Half a dozen sentences later, the "door-halves" swing apart, and they have the above-mentioned interlocking flutes and pins. Readers are naturally assuming that we've moved on to a number of parts, but the writer has suddenly gone back to thinking about the singular door.

After rereading those paragraphs several times still not sure how this door, described as a clam shell on its side, works. It sounds like the pod that malfunctioned in Spinal Tap, but it can't be because there's a room behind it.

#651 ::: Lyle Hopwood ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 12:02 AM:

And of course a post about a thinko has a typo in it. *I'm* still not sure, I meant.

#652 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 12:06 AM:

On the subject of interspecies lines--as a general observation with regards to birds (I can't recall if it comes up in Peter's book) the lines are...squishy.

Not in a strict biological sense, exactly, but the ABA is the final arbiter of what counts as a species for the purposes of maintaining one's life list. And so every year, the diehard birders get told that some species are now three species or two species are now one species. The Rosy-finches got split up not all that long ago, if memory serves, and they just separated out the Pacific Wren about two years ago. (My money is on the Yellow-Rumped Warbler to get split into the Myrtles and Audubons races next, but I'm a poor prophet.)

This wreaks minor havoc on life lists and the nerves of birders, but it does keep life interesting.

#653 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 12:16 AM:

Sarah, #638: It's a little more nuanced than that. Yes, the ones who are in charge have no reason to change anything because they're the ones who benefit from it. But there are other men, who fall into several groups:

- Those who aspire to be in charge, and therefore buy into the current system.

- Those who, as Dan points out, believe that only adherence to the current system will keep them safe.

- Those who are victimized under the current system, and see their only mode of escape as to play the game and try to improve their ranking.

- Those who, like JJ, see the flaws in the current system but lack the power to do much of anything about changing it, because in order to get that kind of individual power you have to play the game.

(And probably several other classifications that I'm not coming up with right now.)

All but the last group mentioned will support (FSVO) the current system, but their motivations differ widely. Also, there's the "fish don't see the water" factor; unless/until you can recognize the possibility of changing the system, you'll never think about trying.

Right now, a lot of what I see going on falls into the category of "increasing the pool of those who know change can occur and want to see it happen". Social change of this type tends to follow a pattern of: first a few voices calling for change, then more and more, and suddenly it hits critical mass and everyone is talking about it, and only then can significant progress be made. Which is not to say "be patient," but "don't get discouraged when you can hear voices calling for change." It's when you don't hear any that you have a serious problem.

#654 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 12:22 AM:

Having ridden men's and women's bicycles, I always wondered why they would assign men a bicycle with which it is easier to bonk yourself in the crotch while mounting. The engineering explanation makes sense. I think I agree with Lucy Kemnitzer @639 that the low-bar tradeoff is probably better across the board for most bicycling that's not serious athletics.

#655 ::: Laertes ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 12:30 AM:

Lots of things about The Three-Body Problem bothered me. Certain elements of the plot, the characterization, the pace, the dialogue, and I could go on at length about any one of them and probably will at some point. But the word I keep coming back to, no matter which element I'm thinking of, is clumsy.

There are bits that are wonderful. "Qb abg erfcbaq! Qb abg erfcbaq!! Qb abg erfcbaq!!!" gave me chills. But for every such moment, there are several clunkers, most of them involving Detective Gary Stu.

Despite the manymany flaws I guess I probably enjoyed it, and I imagine I'll read the sequel. But it's terribly, terribly flawed and I can't decide if I'm voting it ahead of No Award.

#657 ::: Laertes ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 12:41 AM:

Lee @656: I know it's juvenile, but I got a big laugh out of "The League of Extraordinary Butthurt."

#658 ::: Steven desJardins ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 12:44 AM:

Laertes, yeah, I'm in the same boat. The thing about "Qb abg erfcbaq! Qb abg erfcbaq!! Qb abg erfcbaq!!!" that gets me is that jr'er fhccbfrq gb oryvrir Nycun Pragnhenaf jba'g svther bhg gung n enqvb fvtany pbzvat sebz gur rknpg qverpgvba bs gur pybfrfg fgne vf npghnyyl pbzvat sebz gur pybfrfg fgne hayrff fbzrbar nafjref vg. And the idea that beovgny inevngvba va n zhygv-fgne flfgrz pbhyq or gung rkgerzr just doesn't pass the credibility test. The cool science ideas just don't fit into what I'd consider to be a plausible context.

#659 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 01:12 AM:

Lee, #653: "Those who, like JJ, see the flaws in the current system but lack the power to do much of anything about changing it, because in order to get that kind of individual power you have to play the game."

Normally, I don't feel the need to go into gender specifics in online fora, because I don't think it's generally relevant. But you have all been so generously polite and welcoming and engaged with me that I can't stand feeling as though I'm misleading you.

What has happened here is what usually happens with me in online fora: Because my personality and affect are much more closely aligned with traditional expectations of the opposite gender, when I do not identify my gender, peoples' perceptions unfailingly classify me as the opposite gender because of how I "read" online.

And yet, Lee's statement above about me is still just as true -- which is, as others have pointed out, a sadly-telling characteristic of the patriarchy: that it causes damage and hurt to both genders.

So now you know. And, funnily enough, I somehow think that's not going to change things here in the slightest. ;-)

#660 ::: Steve ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 01:29 AM:

Speaking of distinguishing between species, this is interesting:

(TLDR: Able to reproduce with is not a transitive operation - if A can breed with B, and B can breed with C, that doesn't mean A can breed with C, which brings up the question of where do you draw species lines between all those animals)

#661 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 01:29 AM:

JJ: Interesting, and for what it's worth, I did read you the opposite way from Lee, not that I would see it as misleading anybody regardless. (I just don't think there's any obligation here to identify oneself in terms of gender.) And you're right, her comment's just as true both ways.

#662 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 01:47 AM:

Sarah @ 638: I do think that if men wanted the world to be different, they'd change it.

I'll get right on that! [removing tongue from cheek]

Seriously, a lot of us do, a lot of us are, in whatever ways we can. Being as I'm not dictator of the world and can't proclaim a change, it's slow, it takes time. But, to take one example, the drive towards marriage equality and full LGBT rights and transgender and agender acceptance is happening, and men changing their attitudes are one part of that. Raising a daughter who felt confident and comfortable going out and entering "male" professional fields was another part of that, for me; now I'm raising a son who sees me with long hair, cooking and sewing, and I hope he'll have a head start on flexibility about how to "do" masculinity.

Not enough men are helping drive it in the right direction - I couldn't agree more on that - but we can each change what's in our own zone of influence.

#663 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 03:35 AM:

Do we want a Three Body Problem spoilers thread? I'm kind of getting the feeling that we do.

#664 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 04:32 AM:

Certainly looks like there's the traffic for it, Abi.

#665 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 05:08 AM:

Bill Higgins @648 - ah, I see your point.


Regarding The Three-Body Problem - it gelled, in the end, better than I though it was going to; it tied up enough of its plot threads to make a satisfactory conclusion (the only thing I'm still not clear on was Jnat Zvnb'f pbhagqbja - V xabj ubj vg tbg gurer, ohg V'z fgvyy abg pyrne jung jnf fhccbfrq gb unccra jura vg ernpurq mreb.

But some things were a stretch for me to swallow. Like the origin of the "sophons", or the behaviour of the Trisolaris suns - AFAIK, Proxima and Alpha A/B are sort of loosely coupled, and they don't behave like they do in the book, at least not over the timescales implied.

I still think it's a darn fine piece of work, though, overall.

#666 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 05:20 AM:

Steve Wright, #665:

Gur checbfr bs Jnat Zvnb'f pbhagqbja jnf gb fpner gur orwrfhf bhg bs uvz. Fvzvyne nccnevgvbaf jrer jung pnhfrq nyy gubfr bgure culfvpvfgf gb pbzzvg fhvpvqr.

#667 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 06:01 AM:

I can't remember if I saw this list of "Don'ts" for Lady Bicyclists in 1895 here or elsewhere. I don't have any other references to hand, but women wearing bloomers to cycle in was a big issue at the end of the 19th century, as doing so would undoubtedly lead to the collapse of civilization and/or liberate women from domestic tyranny.

#668 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 06:38 AM:

Neil W - that was about the time of the Rational Dress Movement, wasn't it? (I came across that through H. G. Wells's obscure-ish* cycling romance The Wheels of Chance, where the protagonist is gobsmacked to see a lady cyclist wearing "Rationals").

JJ - yes, that much I'd figured, I just wanted to know what was meant to happen at zero. I just have that sort of mind, I guess. I suppose I could live with the answer being "nothing, gur fhfcrafr jbhyq xvyy uvz orsber vg tbg gurer."

*As obscure as a Wells novel ever gets, I guess

#669 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 07:11 AM:

OK, there's now a Three-Body Problem spoiler thread. Discuss away, untrammeled by the bonds of ROT-13!

#670 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 07:34 AM:

JJ #659: Actually, I had you read as "male" too, basically from your comment "'When you write a female character, make sure that she's not just a man with boobs', while sounding pithy, is total B.S. I have yet to see anyone give what I would regard as a suitable explanation as to what makes a female character distinctively female, other than her gender." et seq.

Bluntly, not being able to see the difference, would normally suggest that you don't have to see the difference, which is characteristic of being in the dominant group. Also, being able to "explain" the difference is not a given, and "demanding" such a verbal explanation is stereotypically male.

That these rules-of-thumb failed, just shows that rules-of-thumb don't always work, see also "squishy borders"². (For my own part, I'm also male, but started out anomalously female-socialized.³)

This is one of the reasons why if I ever start checking stuff out of Dream's Library¹, I'll be looking for a suitable writer's group to double-check my female, nonwhite, and non-"NorthWestern" characters.

Relatedly: Mary Frances #535: Trollope's late-19th century females are so idiosyncratic that they might have been more believable--more nuanced, more realistic--if they were aliens. (Or dragons.)

I repeated that idea to my boss at the bookstore, who unlike me has read Trollope, and he said "yeah, I can see that".

¹ Dream owns it, Lucien just manages it.

² As I read it, species boundaries are an emergent category. They're driven by perfectly good biological considerations, but they're not fundamental to life as such. Also, unicellular life is much more casual about species distinctions than us macroscopic creatures, precisely because they can get away with that.

Similarly, gender differentiation is an emergent trait of most "large" animal and some plant clades, but even mammalian developmental processes can't nail it down completely. Meanwhile, reptiles and amphibians have less robust differentiation (stuff like choosing sex based on incubation temperature), while many plants and invertebrates don't even bother.

³ Shortage of in-family male role models, aggravated by undiagnosed autistic spectrum. But then moderated by later socialization outside my family, which is only one reason I don't go assuming "I know how women think". (Being on the spectrum, I'm not so hot at knowing how anybody thinks, including myself. ;-) )

#671 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 08:21 AM:

I can produce a long and entertaining rant about the squishiness of species and how species "work" as a piece of scientific technology (not all technology can be banged on a rock), but I'm wondering if it's not more Open Thready.

#672 ::: Andrew ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 08:23 AM:

"Speaking of distinguishing between species, this is interesting:

(TLDR: Able to reproduce with is not a transitive operation - if A can breed with B, and B can breed with C, that doesn't mean A can breed with C, which brings up the question of where do you draw species lines between all those animals)"

Larry Niven plays with that idea in Ringworld Engineers and later books in the Ringworld series - Ringworld is full of ring-species.

#673 ::: Elisa ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 09:29 AM:

Hello again!

Cat Thanks for the reassurance - I just can't picture voting for it. The story doesn't measure up for me.

Elliott Mason @610 Actually I didn't know about the open thread - thanks for pointing it out. Now I know where to say silly off-topic things :)

Lyle Hopwood @650 That was my problem with the opening too. I re-read it several times and still could not work out what I was supposed to be picturing. The sentence I posted was simply where my brain went "bonk!" and I had a mental image of giant steel doors with hinges formed of a series of Arnold Schwarzenegger (Conan style) forearms sporting leather armbands with dangling fringe decorated with a collection of puka shells. At that point, I knew it was time to take a break.

With a sentence like "The interlocking flutes were sharp edged and equipped with heavy-duty pins as long as his forearm that secured it in the off-hours." I am not even sure what to do with a red pen to make it better. I agree with P J Evans and others, this is well beyond the powers of even the most robust commas.

But Lee @621 I am sorely tempted - I am just not sure that I want to show off my efforts on the website of professionals. In the writing intensive courses I teach for undergraduates I spend most of my time trying to beat subject/verb agreement, elimination of sentence fragments and appropriate use of apostrophes. I don't generally even have the energy left for correct usage of commas, or the poor abused semicolon.

I am going to read Three Body Problem next. I have a copy at home but need to finish Goblin Emperor first, which I can't do until I get through this monstrous pile of grading. Sigh.

#674 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 10:09 AM:

Steve Wright @668 - I think the Rational Dress Movement went on for most of the second half of the 19th century. It's on my ever grwoing list of things to research for my Edwardian set comedy-crime story(s).

#675 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 11:19 AM:

Elisa @673 - I just finished wading through the Gray Rinehart story, and I think his descriptive writing (especially with regards to that doorway!) would have benefited from the attentions of a decent editor. If someone had just sat down with him and said, "Look, exactly what are you trying to say here?" the descriptions could have been cleared up no end.

(This gives me some indications, of course, about what the Puppies consider a good job of editing. And, since the slate dominates the editing Hugos, well, that is useful information to have.)

Once more, I am struck by the difference between what the Puppies say they want (excitement! adventure!) and what they're actually offering (a longish story in which not much actually happens). Yes, I know, someone probably loves it, but that's no guide. My mother loves me, it doesn't mean I'm Hugo-award-winning material.

#676 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 11:24 AM:

Neil W @674

What I find most amusing about the Rational Dress Movement is that they triumphed.

The world shifted and dress was reformed, for about ten years, after the First World War.

I should dig it up, but I have somewhere a passage by Oscar Wilde describing the ideal woman's garments: loose-fitting, easy-moving, suspended from the shoulders, not nipped in the waist, simply cut ...

In other words, women's fashions of the 1920s, to a T.

It didn't last, of course. As with any fashion, a new one came along.

But by then the whole logic of women's dress had transformed. The basic form of women's clothing which had lasted for over four hundred years (shift, corset, underdress, dress) was obliterated and replaced with an utterly novel standard (bra, underpants, outer garments) which has lasted to this day.

#677 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 11:28 AM:

My mother loves me, it doesn't mean I'm Hugo-award-winning material.

She's just trying to get you on the ballot so she's eligible to be a Best Related Work, you know.

#678 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 11:28 AM:

The first place I encountered Rational Dress stuff was in Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott. Apparently the uncle in parentis loci in that story was heavily based on Ms. Alcott's own father, who was a radical reformer and utopianist, and an educational theorist with Strong Ideas about how to bring up children well.

#679 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 11:31 AM:

James Moar @677: SNERK!

#680 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 11:35 AM:

Elliott Mason @ 546: If you write a character and then decide to cast it with an individual different than you had in mind when writing it (frex, Ellen Ripley in the Aliens movie -- I don't know if Ripley was male in the script or if none of the characters were gendered, it's been a long time since I heard the interview; certainly, Ripley was not written with the writer imagining a woman specifically), that can be awesome. It widens the gender representation of roles.

It still requires some care, too — one of my pet peeves with student/little theatre productions used to be shows where a character’s gender had been changed to accommodate the demographics of the company, *without* the director thinking it through. I can totally suspend my disbelief for an actress playing a male role, but if the pronouns had been changed and nothing else, I often spent the play wondering why a couple of Romans obsessed with keeping their son away from women had assigned him a female slave as tutor; or why two single people of the opposite sex and the same social class were concealing their obvious attraction to one another.

Mary Frances @ #620: One of my first employers--we're talking decades ago--was an enthusiastic and capable knitter. He had no problem with calmly and utterly levelling people who thought that that was a "feminine" activity/interest, but I sometimes wonder--he was in his fifties at the time--how many years it had taken him to achieve that ability to dismiss the astonishment of others . . . especially other men.)

It may depend when and where he learned — a bishop in the UK who died a couple of years ago was quite famous as a knitter and had published a book of his patterns; in the village where he’d grown up in the 1930s, knitting was not seen as a particularly gendered activity, and he’d been taught the craft by his grandfather. I’ve also heard a number of anecdotes about knitting in the military (at the very least, being able to darn socks would be a very pragmatic skill for soldiers and sailors.)

#681 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 11:55 AM:

Football player Rosey Greer (who looks like Elliot Shorter, old fannish joke) was a famous knitter. And it shows up in various commercials and TV skits on YouTube.

#682 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 12:03 PM:

Kevin S @ 520: one factor that you don't quote is the \marginal/ cost of 2000 additional {badges, PRs, "program" books, ...}; when I was dealing with printing in quantity, the cost of additional thousands was substantially lower than the cost of the first thousand. This varies widely; e.g., for a pocket program on newsprint (done occasionally) the extras are trivial next to the cost of getting the press running at all, while a short-run hardcover-book specialist won't charge much less per book for 1500 than for 1000. (Yes, those are extreme cases compared to most Worldcon practices.) One hopes that Sasquan sees significantly lower marginal costs -- but one of the variables is the people points available to find the right printer.
      The flood of late supporting memberships also shift the balance if they don't get early PRs; ISTM that this has become standard, but I'm not as connected to that world as I was.

in re HH and Puppies: we've seen they are ... variably perceptive. Possibly the every-story drumbeat of "Socialism BAD! Capitalism GOOD!" outweighs the occasional negative portrayal of sexism and racism? (I can easily see this for VD, who has made a big thing of being an economic exile.) Or are the Graysons such parodies that Puppies can claim with straight faces not to be that ]stupid[? (This is guesswork; I liked Vatta enough to buy and finish the set, but HH's universe was so cardboard I gave up after 1-2 books.)

Mary Frances @ 568: early everything has an outsized impact; cf the slogan attributed to the Jesuits.

Elliott @ 610: Pants have long been my nemesis. Which is why I haven't bought regular pants in a store in >25 years, after endless frustration with a shape slightly outside the male average. (Two measurements aren't enough if your waist/hip ratio isn't median.) Online is a friend; even inch measures vary between styles, but some catalogs (e.g. Lands End) are consistent within a style, allow free returns, and are reasonably priced versus useful lifespan.
       Formalwear may be harder to find online, but my last buy was concert wear in 1991; being an engineer not expected to visit customers has its uses.

Mary Frances @ 620: the bar on "boys'" bikes isn't nearly as perilous as the saddle....

Sarah @ 638: that's exceedingly simplistic; most of the world is not as controlled as, say, the U.S. Army, which Truman could order desegregated and expect to be obeyed.

David Goldfarb @ 644: there is quite a bit of difference between relatively aimless poverty (your first example) and deliberately-controlled poverty (your second). My guess is that a majority of readers would find both plausible -- but I'm lousy at guessing other people's reactions.
      And before some people start yelling: yes, I know that the first case requires much more than what is required of ]middle-class[ people just maintaining their level. However, the instance is of someone who \does/ succeed at dragging themselves out.

On bicycle frames: don't forget the "mixte" (in place of the steering-to-seat bar, a steering to rear-axle bar -- people with step-over issues might find it useful).

UrsulaV @ 652 (re splitting of bird species): and let's not forget brontosaurus, which has just been re-recognized as separate from apatosaurus. (Can you hear the cheering from Gould's grave?)

#683 ::: Edmund Schweppe ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 12:21 PM:

James Moar @677: ::applauds::

#684 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 12:28 PM:

At the risk of getting back on topic, haven't we just witnessed what happens when a group of men decide that they are dissatisfied with something and want to make it change?

It will be interesting to see whether the pups have changed the narrative of the Hugos in the long run.

#685 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 12:36 PM:

Day late and a dollar short, but to comment on the whole gendering sub-thread...

I am also of the feeling--though it would be very hard to measure--that there is a wide spectrum on the cis-trans axis, which is separate from the male-female axis. I grew up in a culture that had fairly rigid gender roles among adults, and I rebelled irregularly and angrily against the Girl Rules for children from...almost as far back as I remember. It was certainly one of the arguments I was having at five years old.

But I'm not trans. When I was introduced to the concept of being trans, it took me a long time to wrap my brain around it. Not because I'm really amazingly cis, either, but because I had always seen gender roles as performative and assigned to you from on high, and so I was baffled at the concept of actually feeling attached to one in a practical sense. I certainly couldn't imagine why anyone would want to be tagged with Girl Things, if they had been given the option to do otherwise.

I got past that! But when I identify as female these days, it's because I've been heavily socialized as female, I am read as female (except in the winter, when heavy jackets plus short hair get people calling me 'sir' a lot), and I am certainly not male-gendered in any way. I'm just...not attached to being female, either. I didn't realize people could feel intensely psychologically attached to a gender until it was explained to me slowly and repeatedly as an adult, because I had assumed that everyone felt the same way I did, and just didn't talk about it. Like lots of things no one talked about in polite company.

I think more "cis" people aren't all that cis than is apparent from the outside. But it sure is the path of least resistance to be cis-like if you're far enough from the trans side that it's not more upsetting to perform the assigned gender.

#686 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 12:40 PM:

Sarah #684: It will be interesting to see whether the pups have changed the narrative of the Hugos in the long run.

If anything, I'd say the response to their attack will define the Hugo for the next generation or two. Especially the discussions among ourselves of what our values really are, and "what the real point of the Hugos is".

#687 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 12:56 PM:

I thought he was into needlepoint. But they're not mutually-exclusive needlework.

#688 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 12:59 PM:

I know that in 1984 we had 10,000 final ballots printed for the Hugos, because it was less expensive than the 7K we figured we'd actually need. (10K was a case. Says the person who picked them up at the printer.)

#689 ::: Elisa ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 01:24 PM:

Steve Wright @675 and James Moar @677 -

You just made me spit my lunch all over my desk!

UrsulaV - :-) Thanks. (I missed your response earlier and am glad that I didn't come off as too deranged.)

Apropos of nothing I had a paleontology professor would would get practically apoplectic over the topic of lumpers verses splitters. It was one of the reasons that I avoided graduate level paleontology - the arguments they would have at meetings were downright scary!

Good lord, I really hope that the SP/RP won't be defining the Hugo's discussion for the next generation. One of the reasons I got my membership (finally) was to help drag the discussion back to the books and the craft and art of writing.

#690 ::: cyllan ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 01:46 PM:

Fade #685: " I didn't realize people could feel intensely psychologically attached to a gender until it was explained to me slowly and repeatedly as an adult..."

I felt much the same way as you -- and am still utterly unattached to my gender-as-a-thing -- until I was discussing with someone how transitioning could have drastic changes on someone's voice. My instant (and on-going reaction) is that someone can pry what I SOUND like out of my cold dead vocal chords. My voice *is* me in many ways. Once I had that revelation, it was a pretty easy step towards understanding that someone might have just as much of their identity wrapped up in something that wasn't sound, but which was much more male/female boy/girl oriented. I still don't deeply grok it on a personal level, but I can understand it.

#691 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 01:53 PM:

@ 685 Fade Manley - I've been contemplating something similar recently myself. I'm not terribly attached to being female--not to say I feel male, by any stretch, either. I'm reasonably GOOD at being female these days, and my cultural experiences have shaped me in that direction, I can enjoy a couple of the perks, but it's not like I'm all that attached to it. (And I hated "girly" stuff as a kid, but also was uninterested in being a "tomboy." I just wanted people to shut up about it and let me play with He-Man's Battlecat, for god's sake.)

If an alien came up tomorrow and offered to switch my biological sex, I'd probably pass because lord, it'd be inconvenient at this point in my life. But my primary objection is that my (heterosexual) husband would have a hard time, and god, SO MUCH PAPERWORK. The days when upper body strength was a serious enticement have faded somewhat.

It wouldn't surprise me if there's a spectrum of sorts, maybe not so much between cis and trans as between strongly gendered/not strongly gendered. Some people just don't seem to care very much, and if you DO care, and got lucky with your genital assignment, then you might not notice or think about how much you cared most of the time.

I have friends who obviously care very very much, though, so I know my own rather "Eh" attitude is nothing like universal.

#692 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 01:55 PM:

@ 685 Fade Manley - I've been contemplating something similar recently myself. I'm not terribly attached to being female--not to say I feel male, by any stretch, either. I'm reasonably GOOD at being female these days, and my cultural experiences have shaped me in that direction, I can enjoy a couple of the perks, but it's not like I'm all that attached to it. (And I hated "girly" stuff as a kid, but also was uninterested in being a "tomboy." I just wanted people to shut up about it and let me play with He-Man's Battlecat, for god's sake.)

If an alien came up tomorrow and offered to switch my biological sex, I'd probably pass because lord, it'd be inconvenient at this point in my life. But my primary objection is that my (heterosexual) husband would have a hard time, and god, SO MUCH PAPERWORK. The days when upper body strength was a serious enticement have faded somewhat.

It wouldn't surprise me if there's a spectrum of sorts, maybe not so much between cis and trans as between strongly gendered/not strongly gendered. Some people just don't seem to care very much, and if you DO care, and got lucky with your genital assignment, then you might not notice or think about how much you cared most of the time.

I have friends who obviously care very very much, though, so I know my own rather "Eh" attitude is nothing like universal.

#693 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 01:56 PM:

Oh bugger. Sorry.

#694 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 02:06 PM:

Re: bicycles and why they are the way they are...

IIRC, bicycles came along in the late 1800s when the horse was the standard mode of transportation. Look at how people rode horses at the time -- a lady rode side-saddle, a gent astride.

Now, in mounting from the ground the man steps into the left stirrup and swings the right leg over the horse, the same way a guy has to swing his leg over the bike because of the bar. The lady was lifted onto the side-saddle by a groom or her escort, or she used a mounting block.

The step-through of the women's bike frame is the equivalent of the side-saddle. It's unladylike to swing your leg over the bike, er, horse -- right?

#695 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 02:24 PM:

UrsulaV, Fade, cyllan: I'm another in the less-strongly-gendered-than-societal-norm -- have some very marked-as-feminine attitudes and attitudes, but am generally a cis-male. It seems to matter less to me than to a lot of people, as well. And I don't have an experience like your voice experience, cyllan, to make it clear to me how others feel on this. I try to take it on faith that they do, but I don't really get it.

#696 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 02:41 PM:

Sarah E. @680:

Your comments about changing the genders of the roles (poorly) to match the demographics of the company inspired an idea.

I know in Shakespeare's time women in theater was forbidden, and so all of Shakespeare's female roles were played by men (or boys). He intentionally layered boys playing women pretending to be boys, etc for effect. But even when played "straight", it was expected that Juliet, Gertrude, Desdemona, etc would be played by men in drag, while still being female characters.

What if a company didn't change the roles to match the company, but rather had the actors play cross-gendered roles, if necessary? Hamlet would still be the Prince (not princess) of Denmark, but was played by Sally; Desdemona would still be Othello's wife (not husband/spouse/partner/long time companion), but was played by Bob.

#697 ::: Rail ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 03:16 PM:

Elisa @673: I showed that sentence to a friend I beta for. Her reaction was "I think I'm parsing that as the author intended, but it's a mess. Don't ever let me get away with something like that."

Steve Wright @675: I thought it was...OK, even allowing for the lackadaisical editing. At least I didn't bounce hard off it like I did "The Day the World Turned Upside Down". It did take a bit of thought to see why it began and ended where it did, especially given the Rabid Skunks' stated preferences for things that go boom.

I'm considering ranking it under No Award instead of leaving it off completely, just in case No Award doesn't take the category.

#698 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 03:54 PM:

Re step-through frames: I adore them. I wish there wasn't so much gender-based social pressure not to use them here.

I love them n so much because I cycle in a skirt from time to time, because I'm as happy cycling on a bike with a horizontal frame (there's a tuck-my-leg-across-the-bar trick I do to avoid the swing).

Rather, a step-through frame allows me to do two things that make my daily bike use easier.

First of all, it allows me to stabilize and mount an heavy or unbalanced bike (say, with a heavy laptop case on one side of the back rack and nothing on the other.) This effect increases when there's a human being and/or a lot of fragile groceries already loaded onto the bike.

And secondly, it reduces the cost of stepping down from cycling position to walking position. Since there are places where cyclists and pedestrians mix, a low-cost transition between the two reduces the "let me push things juuuust a little rather than step down; I'm sure I won't hit this pedestrian I'm coming up behind" effect.

Now, as it happens, I can cycle comfortably at the speed of a little old lady walking with a cane, but not everyone can. So this impulse to keep cycling because the effort cost of putting a foot down leads to some moments that we, as cyclists, strongly deprecate.

Obviously, it helps that weight reduction is not a big concern with Dutch bikes, but even without them, I haven't seen a lot of frame breakage from any bike type. I'm unconvinced that urban bikes really need that much extra strength.

#699 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 04:04 PM:

Rail, you don't exactly fill me with hope for the rest of the novelette category (I'm reading everything I can find and reviewing on my LJ as I go).

Since I've only done the Heuvelt and the Rinehart stories, and didn't like either one, I'm inclined to compare them and see which one comes out on top - and I find it quite difficult. Which is better - an annoying protagonist who does things (albeit rather stupid things) in the course of the story, or a mostly blank protagonist who sort of thinks about maybe doing things after the story? (I should be able to figure this out. My first job was in the council drainage department, I should be able to differentiate between different grades of - err, um, never mind.)

I also rather took against the Rinehart story (I'm not typing those titles out in full every time) because the central idea (uvggvat onpx ng bar'f pncgbef ol qbvat fbzrguvat gung genafterffrf gurve phygheny zberf*) reminded me very strongly of Laurens van der Post's The Seed and the Sower, and it's never a good idea to remind me of something I'd rather be reading.

*I'm fairly sure "Gurve Phygheny Zberf" is (or should be) the name of an Iain M. Banks character.

#700 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 04:18 PM:

UrsulaV @691: That exactly! If I were offered an instant body change, I would turn it down on account of my husband's preferences and the resulting paperwork, not because I'm so attached to my body type or gender presentation.

I am sometimes very vocal about being Female, Dammit, but that's...mostly a political thing. I mean, society and the law are going to treat me as Female, Totally Female, whether I like it or not, so it is very important to me to count myself as part of that number for political purposes and in sociological discussions and so forth. That's a bit more like being a Democrat, honestly, and with about the same level of resigned "Well, lacking a better option under the circumstances..."

#701 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 04:34 PM:

Fade Manley @685: When I encounter cis people who have trouble understanding why trans is a thing that can even exist, they tend to fall into two loose groups. Ok, there's the "Because God Says So" batch and THEN there are two groups BESIDES it:

A. Folks like you who are loosely attached. I call this being mildly gendered, or not having a loud "gender compass" in their head (both of which are metaphors with problems, but I'm in Tony Stark Waving His Arms Around explanation mode). They boggle because the reason they call themselves man/woman is because everyone else does, and isn't that how it always is?
B. Folks who are STRONGLY attached to their gender identification (strongly gendered, or with a very visible/loud internal gender compass), but it points the same direction everyone has always told them it should, and so they don't even need to know the compass exists. Obviously they're a man/woman. They feel a very strong attachment to it, they match it externally, society tells them that's what they are, how in the world could anyone feel differently?

If you are strongly attached to your gender identification, AND it doesn't match what everyone says you ought to be, you notice very, very early that there's that internal/external mismatch. If you are loosely attached to your gender identification, AND it doesn't match what everyone says you ought to be, it might take you longer to notice you're trans, or that you actually could change that or do something about it.

I am much more mildly gendered than a lot of trans people out there, so I notice the difference in our narratives, and it makes me aware that there's probably a line of human expression stretching out PAST me in that direction, all the way to agender, neutrois, and genderfluid identities, etc.

When speaking with Group A folks who strongly wish to deny that "an internal sense of gender" is even a thing that can exist, I fall back to metaphors like, "Just because your eyes don't have sensors to perceive the wavelengths at the blue end of the spectrum of visible light , that doesn't mean mean blue isn't a thing that can be directly observed by other people. You don't feel it, but some people do, and strongly enough that it cannot be ignored."

And now that I proofread and reload I see Ursulav has beaten me to most of my points, but oh well. :->

In my case, I spent decades certain that an entire assortment of pains, frustrations, and oddities of my mind were all separate things, wildly disparate and altogether baffling. And then I went to a talk by Debra Davis on Trans 101, and had kind of a meltdown. She stood up there in front of God and everybody and said I existed. Things out of her life story (especially the repeating "furtively collect clothes I REALLY wanted to be wearing and then discard them all, telling myself I could learn to 'have fun with' and enjoy my assigned gender" pattern) sounded like my life. She said that trans was a big tent and not everybody got hundreds of thousands of dollars of surgery -- or wanted to! She talked about the kinds of changes that can be brought on by different kinds of transition.

I came out of it crying and unable to speak and wandered around the conference (I was at a conference for folks running college pride clubs, educational/networking) in a really weird headspace. I will be forever grateful to the two or three folks, who didn't know me from Adam, who let me emotionally puke all over them in long conversations over meals for the next few days as I worked out what I even thought, what I even felt.

And meanwhile all those random clangy swingy distracting annoying things in my head? The more I looked at it from a "maybe I could transition" lens, the more they looked like an Alexander Calder mobile, ordered chaoticism all attached gradually back to single point upon which they could pivot.

Because I am a huge dork (and the kind of person for whom datasets are comforting), I made a Pros/Cons list. I also listed all the gendered stereotypes I could THINK of, and thought about how I would feel if someone assumed them of me and (a) they were wrong, or (b) they were right.

I decided that, as nonconforming and all over the board as I am, I'd still be less distressed for someone to presume me "traditionally male" on any of them and be wrong than for them to assume me "traditionally female" and be wrong.

I'm a dude who has a kid, reads sci-fi, hates sports, knits, likes dogs AND cats, is really into gardening and fashion and Broadway musicals, and sleeps with men. Some of those things would be more "stereotypical" if I were female, but I'm happier to smile off a, "Nope, sorry," for them than to grit my teeth for yet another iteration of DAMMIT I DON'T LIKE PINK AND PLEASE DON'T LITTLE LADY ME ONE MORE TIME. To choose only two.

Not all gender-nonconforming Assigned Female At Birth people "ought" to transition. But it happens to be right for me. I'm going from being a weirdo chick with a whole bunch of neuroses wrapped up in attempting to perform gender roles that don't fit me to a weirdo dude much calmer about stuff and with more spoons to spend on other things. :->

#702 ::: Rail ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 04:54 PM:

Steve Wright @699: That's why I had to think about the ending. Cerna is the viewpoint character, but he's not the protagonist. Keller is. And his goal is to znxr uvf qrngu zrna fbzrguvat. Juvpu vf jul vg raqf jvgu gur eriryngvba gung ur yvxryl fhvpvqrq.

I can see why an editor would look at that story and say "I can work with this", which is more than I can say for anything else I've read so far. I'd far prefer No Award, but if something has to win, well....

#703 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 05:34 PM:

Elliott, #701: Something I saw elseNet (or it might have been here, I'm not sure), but anyhow, it got me thinking, and I came up with an approach that might be able to reach the folks in Group B. For the sake of the discussion, assume you're talking to a man, but it could just as easily be adapted for a woman with strong gender attachment.

"Okay, you're a man, and you know you're a man, right? Now, holding onto that very strong knowledge that you're a man, imagine this: Everyone who sees you assumes you're a woman. You have to dress and act like a woman, everywhere, all the time, to avoid being punished or harassed. You have to use what you think of as the wrong restroom. Your body doesn't look in the mirror the way it does in your head. When you try to talk to people about all this, you get told not to be silly, OF COURSE you're a woman! Now, if you had a chance to make your outside look like the person you know you are inside, wouldn't you want to do that?"

I haven't actually had the opportunity to try this, so I don't know if, or how well, it would work. But it seems to be an approach that might get the point across, at least to someone who is strongly gendered.

#704 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 05:53 PM:

Lee: Yes, that works. But their reflexive try at empathy, usually, is the opposite: a man will think, "How awful it would be if I had to suddenly turn into a woman. Wow. That must hurt," instead of, "What if I always knew I was a man and that's what I want but everyone else is shouting No You're Not." This inversion affects how they conceive of the entire situation. They imagine how uncomfortable crossdressing makes them feel and then assumes that's what trans women feel.

#705 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 06:09 PM:

Hey, Elliott, can I just say how much I appreciate your willingness to talk about this stuff, and in general, your openness about it in our community?

I know you're just being you, but we're the richer for your habit of doing it here, and in this fashion.

#706 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 06:22 PM:

Elliott Mason #704: They imagine how uncomfortable crossdressing makes them feel and then assumes that's what trans women feel.

The flip side of that: An M2F once told me (as a cis man), "Once you've gone out in public in woman's clothes, you've nothing left to be afraid of". While I wouldn't push that claim too far, her personality certainly reflected that attitude.

#707 ::: cajunfj40 ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 06:30 PM:

UrsulaV, Fade Manley, cyllan, Tom Whitmore:

On "definitely being a gender": Our son's got long blond hair that he loves and does not want to cut, just like his daddy. Because of this, and being a cute 4 year old, he constantly gets mis-gendered by others, despite wearing "unisex" (ie: stereotypically "boy") clothes. It's kind of frustrating (especially since these others don't often get the first pronoun correction, and sometimes fail to get the 4th, 5th, nth corrections...) but my wife and I try not to let it bother us because being bothered or not is really up to our son. He'll certainly let someone know "I'm a BOY!" if he's the one being addressed as the gender he doesn't currently identify as. He's only seemed a bit upset about it once or twice, beyond the insistent correction, though.

#708 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 06:44 PM:

Apropos of gender: the word "agender" may prove useful to some commenters above (Fade Manley, other people who sympathize) - at least for reference purposes.

(Or possibly 'eh'-gender. Got a gender? "Eh.")

Being a nonbinary person who hails from this rather large encampment myself, I find myself faced with an unusual circumstance.

I'm on testosterone, because - initially - I wanted to change my voice somewhat and grow a little facial hair. Right now, a couple years in, I'm more or less happy with how I look and come across. If I stay on testosterone, I'll take on a noticeably more masculine appearance. I'm happier to stay in an androgynous zone. But it helps a lot with my chronic joint and muscle pain, which is fairly intolerable otherwise.

So that is probably going to be the deciding factor in my long-term gender presentation. "Testosterone: it hurts less."

#709 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 06:47 PM:

My mother claimed my brother's first haircut was when people started offering sympathy to my father for having three girls. (Which means my brother was at least a year old.)

#710 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 06:58 PM:

#639 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::
in fe: lifting the leg to mount (ummm, ahhh, that doesn't sound quite right...)

It ain't just bicycles...

The last time I owned a motorcycle I had gotten one that was actually my optimum choice of features: water cooled (much more sensible when one is in city traffic); middling powerful (500cc - able to give me some OOOMMPF if I needed acceleration); shaft drive instead of belt or chain (reliable, and much smoother ride); deeply padded seat and upright posture (an ex-gf said I didn't have a motorcycles, I had a sofa on two wheels); and it had a high enough seat that I didn't have bend my legs or stand up every time I came to a stop. I was 6'4" (now about 1.5 or 2 inches shorter, dang it) and most all other bikes in my price range were too D**N short! But, just before I gave it up I was having real issues swinging my hips up high enough to get on.

I have a little of that issue with high seats on bicycles, but the frame is lower in the back, and doesn't require as extreme an upswing.

#711 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 07:00 PM:

Elliott Mason @678
I was listening to a podcast ep on Alcotts during this very morning's dog walk!

#712 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 07:15 PM:

Craig R. @710, I have my own motorcycle, but I sometimes like to ride with my husband. You think it's tough mounting a motorcycle; try climbing into the pillon seat (which is usually higher than the main seat) without falling over or kicking the rider as you get on.... <wry grin>

#713 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 07:37 PM:

cajunfj40 @707: I do occasionally get misgendered (long hair, but very bushy sideburns and balding); I'll gently correct people, if we're going to keep talking. They're almost always much more embarrassed than I am. I've had the long hair since I was a teenager -- never really wanted to change.

#714 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 07:49 PM:

@708 - I'll be honest, I'd feel a little weird trying to call myself agender, because...well, I don't feel strongly enough about that, either!

It seems like being agender would be something like being asexual--where you're a person who isn't into either of the usual binaries and have to fight to avoid being erased.

Whereas I'm fine with being female, other than the annoying societal bits that we should all being going after regardless. (I could do without ever getting pregnant, but that's another kettle of worms.) I don't feel anybody's erasing me. I would like less mandatory pink in girl's toys, but hey, wouldn't we all?

It's like the gender equivalent of "spiritual but not religious." I am not an atheist, nor a devout Catholic, nor in a classical sense, agnostic. I just don't worry about it very much either way. I respect that others have a deep need to go one way or the other or determinedly no way at all, but I'm not one of them.

#715 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 07:54 PM:

cajunfj40 @707: Oh, that's a fascinating anecdote for me, because as a child I kept demanding to have hair as short as my mom would let me cut it, and then I'd be delighted if I was mistaken for a boy. At that age I would've gladly swapped to the boy side if anyone had given me an option. (I also spent a lot of time being frustrated that I wasn't a tomboy, either. That was an acceptable girl option, but tomboys were sporty and brash, and I was not.)

Then when I hit puberty, it was upsetting to be mistaken for a boy... In retrospect, that was because "you look like a boy" was often pointedly meant as "you look ugly (because you're not dressing like a girl properly)". Which is not quite the same thing as being taken for the other gender.

It took me a decade or two past that to figure out that "I am not particularly femme" did not necessarily mean "I am doomed to be unattractive if I wear anything I actually enjoy wearing."

A.J. Luxton @708: I've looked into the agender option, but, well, 'eh-gender' is closer. I know a few people who identify as being agender, and they feel as strongly about not being either gender as any cis or trans person feels about being their gender. I just...don't care much, beyond how it happens to affect me because of other people's reactions. It feels like it'd be a bit appropriative to call myself agender; it's a much stronger statement than I identify with.

#716 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 07:55 PM:

...oh, and I wanted to echo what abi said @705. I very much appreciate what you posted, Elliott, and could not quite find a good way to say it. (I do at times wist for the 'Like' button of another place I hang out, for such expressions of inarticulate admiration.)

#717 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 08:46 PM:

Huh. Interesting. I disagree. If someone offered me the chance to magically transform into a man, I'd take it in an instant. Wouldn't even ask if there were strings. Why on earth would I do anything else?

(I think I'd probably end up as the cautionary lesson in the three-wishes story... )

#718 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 09:14 PM:

A.J. Luxton (708) May I ask, what is your painful condition? Or conditions?

I'm interested in your experience with testosterone because I have arthritis and polymyositis, which means that I have both muscle and joint pain. No one has suggested testosterone as a treatment, and your conditions may be different ones, but I'm interested in finding out more, just in case.

I am a pretty functional female person (did girl stuff, got married, bore children without any trouble) who is regularly mistaken for a man. When this happens, it distresses me, not because I mind (I don't care, really), but because if they realize their mistake they will then act all embarrassed and apologetic, and I don't know how to handle it. Other than that, I seem not to be very invested in demonstrating my gender. This has been going on for years, in fact decades, and I have never really understood why. Latterly, I have supposed that it's because I walk in a masculine way. But latterly, I walk like a person who can't walk very well. Seems like a lot of old folks are hobbling around; I haven't noticed gender differences. Testosterone probably isn't the answer, but if it is, I'd be happy to try it. Obviously it won't change my life much to look "more masculine". Whatever that might mean in my case.

#719 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 09:18 PM:

Sarah #717: (I think I'd probably end up as the cautionary lesson in the three-wishes story... )

Everything depends on the details... the caution might well end up being "caveat emptor".

#720 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 09:18 PM:

#714 ::: UrsulaV

I'm reminded of someone who said he'd be an agnostic if he cared that much.

#715 ::: Fade Manley

Eh-gender is just excellent.

#721 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 09:25 PM:

Elliot Mason @ 701: Thanks for sharing your story. Pros-and-cons lists are very useful, especially for those of us who are not solidly binary-gendered. I feel like mine is a work in progress, drafted over and over again in this process.

Sarah @717: Well, as it happens, the with-strings option to magically transform into a man does exist... as it were.


It takes a while, and is accomplished stepwise, and almost any given step of it, I know someone who has undertaken without taking other steps, so those are options as well. (I've known: several people who go by female pronouns but a masculine name; trans men who identify themselves publicly as men and go by masculine names but have not taken hormones or surgery; me - alternately going by a feminine or neutral name but taking hormones and gradually sprouting a beard; a couple of people who've had their breasts removed or reduced but haven't taken hormones...)

My own decision to undertake hormonal transition came from deciding to evaluate the effects as if they were any other kind of voluntary body mod. It's been an interesting ride. The first time I started (in 2007, when I was on T for six months but stopped due to travel and then spent a few years reevaluating) I thought that I wanted a beard and having my voice drop was a neutral inconvenience. Then I found that the voice drop changed something essential about how people saw me, even when still passing for female - they no longer treated me like a child nearly as much (I'd had a very high voice before) and it made an enormous positive difference in my life. (Meanwhile, facial hair has become a neutral: I like the look, I'm annoyed by the inconvenience.)

Everyone's experience of transition is so different; there are so many things true of our bodies that remain true, and others that change. (And the experiences of trans men and trans women are often radically different, especially in how other people treat us.)

#722 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 09:36 PM:

Older @718: I have, as far as anyone can tell, benign joint hypermobility disorder. My connective tissue is softer than normal and injures more easily. Not as badly as in Ehlers-Danlos, but enough that it's very easy for me to develop RSI and chronic muscle strains that don't heal up properly. I also, as far as I can tell, have very low natural testosterone levels. The pattern is: I get injured, lose muscle strength, get injured more because of the muscle mass I've lost, and so on. My wrists and forearms are especially bad; most of the time I can't carry a heavy grocery bag without hurting myself.

Anyway, testosterone helps with the "insufficient muscle mass for daily life" problem. I still have my chronic injuries, but physical therapy is actually possible without just getting more badly injured, because I can keep on a more respectable amount of muscle.

I also have a thing where my right trapezius muscle locks up and triggers a tension headache which turns into a massive migraine every time I menstruate, so not menstruating is also helpful all by itself; this may not be a relevant piece of information to you, it just factors into my analysis for me.

I hear low dose testosterone cream (a fraction of transition doses) is sometimes prescribed for sexual dysfunction to post-menopausal women, so that's a thing.

#723 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 09:38 PM:

Oh, man, I crave the vocal changes T is going to bring, while simultaneously dreading what might happen to my singing voice for several years.

At the moment I am a first soprano with lots of low notes. When last I was rehearsing multiple times per week and actively in choir training, I went from F-above-high-C (when well warmed, anyhow) down to something like three spaces into the bass clef.

My timbre is nothing outstanding - my voice was once described as "born to be a backup singer" - so I don't mind what's likely to happen. And if I (as is statistically likely) end up with drastically reduced range at first, well, I know how to exercise back into range. It'll be tedious, but I also know how to wring good performance from limited range meanwhile.

I'm really looking forward to finding out what true falsetto feels like. Another transmasculine trained vocalist of my acquaintance who has been amazingly generous with his time in discussion assures me there's chest voice and head voice that still feel just the same and then a whole other gear above them.

I spent five years as phone tech support, and I started consciously lowering my speaking voice for professional reasons long before I knew I wanted to transition.

When you're dealing with alpha-male type A rich assholes in a stressful period (when our software broke they could be literally losing thousands of dollars per second), they're already unhappy to taking to a woman, much less someone who sounds 10 years old. :-)

#724 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 09:44 PM:

David Harmon #719: Everything depends on the details... the caution might well end up being "caveat emptor."

I suppose one might want to find out if the wish would transform you into a masculine version of your existing self, or into some random man.

#725 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 09:57 PM:

@721 No, it doesn't. Because magic isn't real.

... Unless you happen to have Tiresias' serpents on hand. If that's the case, please say so directly. I am rather ill at the moment, and each thought emerges from gray mental static. To quote a wise robot. I am not fast.

#726 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 10:16 PM:

Sarah @ 725:

Sorry; I was mainly going off Clarke's Law, that "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic". The strings, in this case, are the time, money and social costs associated with seeking medical care, dealing with bureaucracy and the rest of it. (The rest of my comment was intended to be a follow-through to that remark, describing things I have witnessed or experienced about the process, but I separated it with pause space because I went a little far afield.)

...And maybe there's a side musing to be had, about genuine real life magic being a less flashy thing than the magic of story and legend. Injecting oneself with hormones is indeed a means of causing change in accordance with one's will. It involves steel, blood, courage and alchemical transformation. That is as I see it through my own spiritual lens; I hope it does not come across as a frustrating riddle.

I also hope you feel better soon.

#727 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 10:22 PM:

Abi 698: Hey, I'm the old lady walking with the cane (sometimes). I have a folding one strapped to my bike. There are days when I can barfely walk at all but the bike is fine (and days when I seriously wonder why I even have a cane). And I really hear you on the stabilizing aspect. My current bike doesn't even have a kickstand so when I am loading it up and getting on it can be a real adventure.

I am so looking forward to taking my folder with me to the UK next year to visit my son and daughter in law. I will zoom all around a foreign landscape.

#728 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 10:37 PM:

I rather liked the Rineheart story. I grant that the beginning about the door was a mess (what orientation was the clamshell?), but the story didn't continue in that style. What's more, I couldn't make sense of the end-- I feel very unsure what the burial was supposed to accomplish. I realize it was supposed to comprehensively offend the aliens, but how was that supposed to work out well? Or was the situation for the humans so long-term desperate that doing anything that might change matters worth the gamble?

Still, the vast majority of the story hit an emotional note that rather worked for me-- it was eerie. It didn't leave me feeling as though fandom had lost its collective mind for having nominated it.

This may be a matter of low expectations, but having read "The World Turned Upside Down" and "Triple Sun" (oh, you unfortunate people who are so dedicated to the Hugos that you're going to read it) I'm grateful for anything that isn't aggressively boring.

#729 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 10:43 PM:

David Harmon, #670: "That these rules-of-thumb failed, just shows that rules-of-thumb don't always work."

I think what pisses me off most about the "men with boobs" comment is that when I read books, the male protagonist is often more similar to me in thought and affect than the female protagonist. So when someone makes that "men with boobs" comment, what are they saying? That I'm not a "valid" woman? That's really what it sounds like to me. And I am, understandably, not appreciative of that implication.

I can relate to characters like Leckie's Breq and Rachel Bach's Devi Morris. But most female characters (such as those in MRK's Glamourist Histories -- and sorry MRK, because you are a wonderful person) in the books I read inspire reactions in me ranging from "meh" to "you could just as easily be an alien from the planet Rethnikon, for how much I relate to you" to "Utter Revulsion".


This. So much this.

#730 ::: Rail ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 11:05 PM:

Nancy @728: I think the burial was supposed to test Keller's theory. What the human colony do with the results of that experiment is not Keller's problem.

I quite like Rush-That-Speaks' musings on just what sort of science fiction the Rabid Skunks are looking for, and I think it could explain why the rest of us find their preferred stories unsatisfying even when competently crafted.

#731 ::: Rail ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 11:10 PM:

Gah, that was supposed to be "What the human colonists do".

I think that's a sign that I'm up much too late.

#732 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2015, 11:55 PM:

Bill 648: No Pointillist regime has ever been truly hard-line.

Pointillism's success as a political system was spotty at best. Pretty sure that at this point it's tapped out.

Fans of pointillism will say I'm painting with too broad a brush. Humorless types, they won't even laugh if you say you see their point.

#733 ::: Joe H. ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 12:10 AM:

Since I got me a supporting membership, and since I already had a copy, I started Ann Leckie's Ancillary Sword yesterday. Is it just me, or is the story behind the festival Breq encounters on Athoek Station strangely prescient in light of recent events?

And similarly, the discussion of how one might react upon realizing that one has committed a terrible crime?

#734 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 12:52 AM:

So, I've gotten my membership number and my pin. I went ahead and requested the novels from the library. Took a look at the ballot, and experimented with it, just to see all the bells and whistles.

After reading some of the reviews that have been posted, I'm beginning to get a feel for the ones I'll like and those I'll probably bounce off of...

#735 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 01:26 AM:

Reading this thread got me thinking about my own relationship with gender.

As a young girl, I would have been happy to be transformed with a boy - because that would have meant I could have hung out with the boys and done all the boy things without comments like "go play with the girls" or even "You do that OK, for a girl" (which kind of talk probably conditioned me into the sexism of "girls are icky, I don't get along with girls" as a child). No one would have made fun of me for playing with my brother's Transformers. Mom wouldn't have been as restrictive of how far I could travel around the neighborhood without supervision.

At the same time, I was passionately protective of my long hair.

As I got older, I came more and more to identify with being a woman, and this was directly in proportion to becoming more and more aware of misogyny in the world. I began aspiring to be the living rebuttal, wherever I could, to "Women can't..." "Women don't..." "Women shouldn't..."

So at this point in my life, I'm a woman who does almost none of the things "women should" beyond having thigh-length hair, and I do a lot of things "women shouldn't." I hate clothes shopping and shoe shopping. I do plumbing and power tools. I don't do makeup. I don't do dresses except for weddings, funerals, and my roller derby league's annual Prom Scrimmage. I don't do "demure" very well. I'm loud. I don't do high heels or even dress flats if I can help it. I don't shave my body hair.

Performing femininity? Of course I perform femininity. That is how I perform femininity.

(Speaking of the shaving thing: Recently, a new member of our roller derby league told me that when she came to her first practice, seeing me training the newbies in my sleeveless jersey with my sweaty, hairy pits visible to God and everybody made her feel welcome and affirmed in her own How To Do Bodies choices. Which in turn was such a validating thing for *me* to hear that I just about cried.)

So... I identify with my gender, but it came about by way of a political statement rather than by arising spontaneously within my sense-of-self. But by now it's just as strong as an identification as it would have been, had it come about the other way. I think.

Nevertheless, I don't particularly mind being casually misgendered, as occasionally happens, but I'll correct people because otherwise it feels, perhaps irrationally, like lying-by-omission. And then things get awkward because they apologize profusely and I'm all, "No, really, it's no big deal, I promise." Argh.

I'm also really fond of my body in a way that has nothing to do with identifying as a woman. It's a whole different axis: This is my body, I love my body, I'm grateful to my body for being my vehicle and the basis for my physical existence. My voice, my eyes, my face, my fatty bits, my muscled bits, my weird short toe and my weird long finger, the developing wrinkles around my lips and across my forehead--they're *mine* and I love them for it. Even the raised lump scar on my forehead, which I thought I'd as soon not have--when a friend took a photo of me and then photoshopped it out, it gave me the creeps! I no longer wish to be taller or bustier or thinner or prettier (all of which at one time or another I did wish). My body is my body, and it's mine, and I love it.

I have no idea how this fondness for my-body-right-or-wrong would interact with a hypothetical trans-me. Cis-me has no non-medical body mods at all. (A.J. Luxton's comparison of physical gender transition to other voluntary body modification made my brain sprout glowing lightbulbs.)

I also have no idea how well it will survive when my body becomes less "able" over the years. I worry about that. I remember experiencing teenage myopia as a betrayal, and LASIK (ok, maybe I've got one voluntary body mod) in my mid-20s as a return to normal and as such a profound relief. My emotional reaction to a minor ACL injury earlier this year was less negative; I felt that body-fondness pushing me through my physical therapy. I'd say things out loud like, "Come on, leg, you can do it. Just ten more lunges, come on! Good job!"

Eh. Lots of blatheration, long wall-o-text, possibly more introspection than anyone really wants to see, especially from a bog-standard white cis-woman. This conversation gave me the thinky-thoughts! Let me show you them! :-P

Speaking of misgendering - Elliott, I believe I owe you an apology for being careless with pronouns around you when we met a few years back at Chicon. I didn't even realize I was doing it at the time, and you didn't say a word about it, but once I did realize it, it stuck with me. So here's an apology, however belatedly.

Your kindness in introducing me to the filking scene also stuck with me. It would be an honor to sing with you again sometime.

#736 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 02:16 AM:

Lucy Kemnitzer @727:

And I have been the young woman walking with a cane (pregnancy caused my pelvic tendons to stretch in deeply uncomfortable ways). It's simply one state of locomotion, but it is, on average, slower than the long stride of the teenaged Dutchman. And cyclists who mingle with pedestrians, even for short stretches, need to slow down or get off.

(The short stretch in question is getting off of the ferry across the IJ. Mixed foot and cycle traffic, and the cyclists tend to mount up as soon as possible. Which is fine, if they're in control of their vehicles. And they mostly are, here.)

What do you use to fasten your cane to your bike? There are all kinds of specialist fittings for that purpose here.

#737 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 02:48 AM:

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little @735:

possibly more introspection than anyone really wants to see
I'm happy to cope with as much introspection as you want to share.

#738 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 03:11 AM:

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little, #735: "I hate clothes shopping and shoe shopping. I do plumbing and power tools. I don't do makeup. I don't do dresses except for weddings, funerals, and my roller derby league's annual Prom Scrimmage. I don't do "demure" very well. I'm loud. I don't do high heels or even dress flats if I can help it. I don't shave my body hair.

Performing femininity? Of course I perform femininity. That is how I perform femininity.

How beautifully put. Thank you. I appreciate your eloquence.

Want to take my power tools and my ability to do electrical, plumbing, and general construction activities away? Over my dead F***ing body.

People are amazed about the fact that I got the massive tool cabinet and all the power tools in the divorce. I don't bother explaining to them that they were mine before I ever got married.

#739 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 07:13 AM:

In relevance to the Hugos foofarah, I'm catching up on the discussion in Scalzi's blog over Torgersen's misdirected apology:

And watching dh operate is fascinating. (The more I read of his word choices, the more I'm convinced he must be VD and not just a hanger-on - it's the way he builds his arguments and the way he Carefully Doesn't Say things, like going on about political developments for paragraphs without disclosing his own stance, only leaving it to be implied - but it's just a feeling, unless I missed a memo somewhere.)

#740 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 07:52 AM:

A.J. Luxton @ #739

I wonder if there's a large enough sample size of "dh" and "VD" postings to run through one of the text analysis programs?

It could be a worthwhile experiment. (Likewise with other pseudonymous trolls.)

#741 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 08:11 AM:

I dunno; that whole agent provocateur thing that dh had going on doesn't seem to me to be quite VD's style. Though perhaps it's because VD's views are so widely known to be odious that he can't get away with the whole "we Social Justice Warriors liberals should ban everyone guilty of any thoughtcrime, amirite"? schtick.

#742 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 08:33 AM:

dh has certainly written quite a lot. And VD even more, if you don't mind wading into that.

Although one of the things I find striking about dh is the way they respond (or give the appearance of responding while not actually doing so) to other people's words. I'm not sure that's something that a textual analysis program could pick up on? But I don't know anything about such programs.

But yes that "tell them they're banned, Scalzi!" stuff was... interesting.

#743 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 08:36 AM:

Cally Soukup @741: A little while ago I went back and looked at the (near-decade-old) thread where he attempts to convince folks on Making Light that he is really quite reasonable! Really! and goes around expressing his hideous views as dinner-tablishly as possible for a while.

That diction is similar, I think.

Cadbury Moose @740: I was wondering that, also. Another thing - at least some of dh's spelling errors/typoes look kind of forced. Very circumstantial, but...

#744 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 08:38 AM:

In re the profuse, defensive apologies of cis people for misgendering cis folks: that is definitely a thing. It is a thing that, when you see it often enough, becomes a flashing neon sign marking the place where some OTHER thing I don't understand yet must be sitting, in current US culture and society.

Firstly I notice this because less-supportive gender muggles often REFUSE to accord the same courtesy to trans people when they misgender them, instead choosing to rely upon their own internal "What are you" instincts over the trans person's pronoun correction.

Secondly I notice it because the effusive, embarrassed, defensive apologies flow like a fountain when someone misgenders my dogs. Honestly, I have no idea about my dogs' internal senses of their own genders, if any. I am utterly certain that as long as you're willing to pet them and be friendly they don't care if you call them a "good boy" or a "good girl", and yet bystanders get this huge Thing about having made the wrong guess.

I think it ties into why so many people obsessive ask you to gender-label your infant when you're out and about (the first question we got while gestating, almost universally, was, "Do you know what you're having?" Despite how much it would amuse me, I avoided the snarky answer, "Well, we thought we'd be nonconformist and go with a puppy this time."). They want you to tell them so they don't make a mistake.

And yet this courtesy does not seem to extend to trans people, unless your physical appearance is unremarkable and undistinguishable from a cis person of your gender-of-identity.

So if you are a cis ally, and you mispronoun someone, correct yourself and move on while trying to do better -- the lack of effusive, defensive, needing-to-be-repeatedly-reassured apology will occasionally relieve the trans person in the transaction nearly to the point of tears.

It gets really, really old having to reassure cis people we don't think you're evil.

#745 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 09:31 AM:

Cadbury Moose @740 - I dunno; while it would be nice to think dh=VD (if only because, y'know, that'd mean there were fewer of them all told), I suspect there's a number of fellow travellers who all read and write off the same sorts of scripts, so any text-analysis Portrait of Mr. dh will inevitably show strong similarities to His Master's Voice....

I haven't really been following this part of the contretemps too closely, if only because it seems excessively silly even by Puppy standards. For that matter, I don't visit Whatever all that often... but even I have visited it often enough to catch references to John Scalzi's family. (I wonder if any of the Puppies have drawn the logical-to-them conclusion that being happily married, with a family, to a woman... proves, conclusively, that Scalzi is not only gay, but very bad at being gay?)

#746 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 09:43 AM:

Steve Wright @ #745

Very true, and I must admit that I have not been bothering to read the outpourings of the Incontinence.

As for their thought processes, I think they need to either clean the needle or change the record.

#747 ::: kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 10:18 AM:

Elliott Mason, 774,

People make a big deal about my dog's gender because they think my dog is an extension of me/my family, and are worried that they will be contradicting my narrative about who I am.

I'm shy, so I tend to swallow my effusive apologies, and hope a brief mention plus a quick change of topic will do. But I'm mortified when I screw up someone's pronouns, because, they are _theirs_. I really don't want to contradict someone's narrative about themselves. (Isn't that what slurs do? Label someone in a way that can't possibly match their internal presentation?)

I just wanted to let you know what I was thinking. I will listen and follow your advice.

#748 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 11:09 AM:

kimiko @747, I've known Elliott since before Elliott was Elliott. We go to the same SF conventions. And I misgender him at least once at every SF con, even though I know better. (Habit and early programming is *hard* to break.) And I apologize and move on, and try very hard not to get flustered, because I know that El understands. But it still embarrasses me to make that mistake, because I *know better*.

#749 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 11:13 AM:

Cadbury Moose @746: Well, it doesn't prove he isn't bi, which . . . yeah.

I have had over the years two students whom I suspected of being trans-, in one case as "actually in the process of transitioning to a different gender." In the first instance, I simple perceived the student as androgynous and made no attempt whatsoever to discover the student's biological gender--actually, it was sort of an interesting exploration into my own subconscious assumptions, because I tried to use the fact that I wasn't sure of the student's gender to see if I could spot any differences in the way I treated male/female students. (Didn't work very well, in the long run. The student in question was such an obvious A student that the question was mostly moot.)

In the second case--the student wasn't in my class all that long, and I just avoided gendered pronouns as unobtrusively as I could. Wasn't hard--students are mostly "you" or "name" to me, anyway, and I don't discuss students with other students. Faculty, yes, but it didn't come up in faculty conversations, as it happens. But one of the reasons I'm reading this discussion so closely is that I'm absolutely positive that this situation is going to come up again, and I appreciate the opportunity to consider how to be ready for it.

So thank you, everyone who has been willing to be so open about your experiences. I'm grateful, and I suspect that my future students will be, as well.

#750 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 11:14 AM:

Scalzi has just put up a reader question post. I for one hope that dh asks "Why have you not ended homophobia in SFF? Why Scalzi? Is it because you are secretly a homophobephile?"

#751 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 11:23 AM:

With babies, unless there are obvious gender cues*, I try to avoid pronouns--"What a cutie!" "How old?"--unless and until prompted by a parent.

I'm cis female, and pretty obviously so; however, I am occasionally misgendered when wearing a particular heavy leather jacket (officially a men's style, but it zips up the front). I don't bother to correct people; it amuses me more than anything.

*e.g., dressed in pink with bows on head = girl

#752 ::: Michael Eochaidh ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 11:25 AM:

A.J Luxton @739: I've mostly been lurking but I think speculating on dh's identity is counterproductive (unless there's direct evidence). While I wouldn't be surprised if dh is somebody's sock puppet (even Beale's), the speculation gives them another avenue of deflection and derailment.

As Steve Wright @745 said, the similarities can also be explained by some combination of imitation and sycophancy.

At the same time, dh has made some statements in the Hugo threads that do not appear to be true based on the internal evidence--and these are fair game.

#753 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 11:30 AM:

I am fairly sure that dh is not Day. Day does not number a propensity to sockpuppeting among his flaws. If he wanted to be here, he'd find a way to be here propria persona. Nothing less would feed his ego or fit his mythos.

Also, there are material differences in the argumentation styles between the two. dh is both less honest and less skilled in his disingenuousness.

I do not for a minute believe that dh is who or what he presents himself as (though, brushing briefly by gender identity, I suspect that he genuinely does identify as male. Trolling is an overwhelmingly, though not exclusively, male occupation.) I have backend evidence of some of his falsehoods. I also have some reason to believe that dh rather obsessively polishes Day's Wikipedia entry. He demonstrates a rather high level of obsequiousness in so doing, but hey: consenting adults. Whatever floats the boat.

#754 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 11:50 AM:

abi at 736: I just use little bungee cords wrapped around the back shelf or the folding baskets (I like folding things, apparently) to hold the folding cane on. The cane itself is a bit annoying, in that it has a separate and easily misplaced clip to hold it in the folding position. Currently the clip is somewhere in my bedroom and I'm holding the cane closed with two rubber bands from broccoli bunches. When my folding bike comes I'll investigate how to transport things on it. I could have ordered a big unwieldy-looking wicker front basket with it but I didn't see how that was consistent with the folding of the bike so I didn't.

I'm all about the kludge and the haywire-rig and fitting old things to new purposes. My roommate belongs to Bike Church and maintaining my bike is part of his rent: so the only times I've been in a bike shop in years was to buy the folding baskets and to buy a new helmet after the old one came apart.

When I was in Amsterdam one thing I noticed was that a lot of people didn't wear helmets. I wondered if they knew something we in the US don't, but now my roommate has been strggling for months with a persistent concussion (he was wearing a helmet, but he got hit just below it) and I don't wonder anymore.

#755 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 12:01 PM:

Pretty much no one (barring racing cyclists) in the Netherlands wears bike helmets. And yet our accident figures are very low indeed. But many of the reasons are territory-specific.

The cycling infrastructure is engineered to reduce the number of times that cars and bikes meet up, and to ensure that when the do have accidents, the cars are going relatively slowly. The way that driver liability works in car + bike accidents, and the ways that drivers are trained, also work to reduce the number of times that cars hit bikes. Also, Dutch cyclists tend to go slower than American cyclists, and sit more upright.

All of these factors together mean that Dutch cyclist heads meet the ground a lot less frequently (and a lot less forcefully) than, say, American cyclist heads. And that's a better protection than the best of helmets.

As it happens, mandatory helmet laws, or even scare-tactic helmet advocacy, has an ironically contrary effect on cyclist safety. They paint cycling as dangerous, and (when mandatory) make it less convenient to cycle. Since the best protection for each individual cyclist is a population of fellow bike riders (both for visibility and for votes), these things that thin the herd make cyclists less safe rather than more so.

This is a complicated issue. It's also one that's rich in flamewar potential. I'm willing to discuss it, but...gently.

#756 ::: Elisa ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 12:12 PM:

I managed to force my way through a couple more of the short form entries, I won't bother to say which, and all I can say is OMG, if this is seriously what some people think is the best in fiction they *have* to have been living under a rock or in a cave or something. I just can't ...

I read the blog post (sorry too tired to scroll up to find the comment) that suggests the SP/RP are more interested in Idea fiction than characterization fiction but these stories don't even interesting ideas - mostly they have massive amounts of boring. Poorly written, absurdly derivative and terribly, terribly boring.

I am a natural scientist by profession - I can deal with Idea material. I read journal articles without going comatose (at least most of the time). I am actually quite happy with fiction that has 2D characterizations (insomuch as they aren't just blatant and/or offensive stereotypes) as long as it engages my imagination with interesting concepts or new takes on old notions.

This stuff doesn't do any of that. Most of it reads like stories written at a convention writing slam - 1 hour and a list of six random things that you need to include. (For these stories the list seems to include protracted descriptions of weapons or ships using measurements/materials that are supposed to sound cool and sciencey but end up being completely ridiculous.)

Ah - it reminds of a bit from Bimbos of the Death Sun!

He nodded at the papers strewn on the floor.
"Interesting grading system. What do you think of them so far?"
"The ones that landed near the bathroom are Bad Tolkien imitations or transcripts of a D&D adventure; bad Herbert, Heinlein, and Asimov are below the television; and these on the bed are the ones whose authors I want to hunt down personally and slap."

I have read several people worry that if No Award sweeps too many categories, it will destroy the Hugos. Now that I have started reading some of these entries, I think having stories of this quality would much more surely be a death keen.

Gender - I have been fighting a massive battle on behalf of my children to allow them to express themselves and explore whatever they are interested in, without allowing people to make declarations that something is a girl thing or a boy thing. It is hard. I can't believe how much everything in stores is binary gendered - clothing, books, toys. It makes me crazy.

#757 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 01:01 PM:

#756 ::: Elisa

Now that I have started reading some of these entries, I think having stories of this quality would much more surely be a death keen.

I think we're actually up against a death by lack-of-keen.


Alluvium strikes me as weird in terms of sub-genre. It's got features of Golden Age "problems exist to be solved", but the problems may well be unsolvable, and the pace has a flavor of New Wave stasis/entropy.

If it were actually a Golden Age story, there would be a fast military/political/social engineering solution to the aliens gradually shutting down the human tech and eventually slowly killing the humans. I'm not sure whether there could be a good version of the story where the humans start to engage the aliens politically, and the story ends with it being a long process with hope for the humans.

As it is, well, death and death. I think it's got some echoes of Bradbury. It might be worth reading again at Halloween.

#758 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 01:29 PM:

Oh, Abi, I think my questions are answered. I was impressed with the complicated street structure. It took us a day or two to figure out what the different street textures meant (if I remember, asphalt for cars, brick? for cyclists, pavement for walkers? Or do I have part of that backwards). People were so gentle and polite about shooing us when we walked in the cycling lane (people said Ting-ting to us!) that it took a couple events for us to realize that was the issue. But it was clearly safe.

#759 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 02:01 PM:

I love how the discussion here has gone from Hugo controversy to gender presentation and bicycling. All we need now is a little Roman military history and a bit more poetry.

JJ, one of the many things my wife and I bonded over was appreciation of amateur carpentry and power tools. At home, she does most of the plumbing repairs, I do the electrical work; we shared a lot of the finish work renovating this house. (She doesn't do makeup either - after the first year in her job, when she realized she could get away without it, she was hugely relieved.) So, another amen to your and Nicole's way of expressing femininity.

#760 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 02:42 PM:

abi @ : I'm unconvinced that urban bikes really need that much extra strength. I suppose it depends on the city; I've had a down tube kink in a collision, then snap at the kink. OTOH, that may have been a lighter-weight bike -- I know I first got a "city" bike (imagine a racer/dirtbike hybrid) was the replacement for that failure.

I'm finding the discussion on transition, particularly wrt voice changes, fascinating. I considered myself fortunate to have been traveling when my voice went from first soprano to second (or third) bass, as it was a vocally messy year. I know that "growth spurts" are very real in physical terms, and wonder whether voice breakages in puberty happen because of this unevenness, and if so whether they're lesser-or-absent in managed transitions.

abi @ 755: How do Netherlands roads compare to those in the US? The closest I ever came to getting seriously hurt in my bicycle-commuting days was when a small pothole in just the wrong place tried to throw me over the handlebars -- but IIRC it was on a street rather than a bikeway.

#761 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 02:53 PM:

@ Clifton: I would try to provide the Roman military history, but my knowledge of Roman history is shamefully spotty for a classicist in training. (I care more about the fiction than the non-fiction, see...) But courtesy of the paper I'm working on right now, I could talk about Roman beliefs about supernatural side-effects of menstruation at far greater length than I have ever particularly wanted to before.

#762 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 03:10 PM:

Elisa @756 - so far, I agree entirely. Of the slate entries I've read so far, the short story "Totaled" was bland and inoffensive, and the novelette by Rinehart* was sort of salvageable if you set a patient editor onto it.

But I've just finished with "The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale", and oh dear....

(The narrator's name is "Emily Asgari" at the start of the story and "Emily Asari" at the end. Is it just me, or is that really lousy sub-editing somewhere?)

*with the very long title that I don't want to type out, except this footnote is going to wind up even longer than that title now, so I'm just being silly really.

#763 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 03:50 PM:

I'd read at least part* of 'Triple Sun' when that issue arrived in my mailbox. I think. It didn't stick in my memory, and having looked at it again last night, I see why.

Neither of the other two works in Analog made much impression: they're okay, but Hugo-quality? No.

* If it can't get my attention focused by the end of the first page, it's not that good. The really good stuff can do it in a paragraph, or even a sentence. ('Marley was dead, to begin with.')

#764 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 04:01 PM:

CHip @760: As with all aspects of trans life and transitions, the datasets are depressingly small to an infojunkie like me who wants to follow evidence-based practices. Even the best barely rise to "mostly anecdotal, but a lot of anecdotes?", which I know isn't conclusive or statistically useful, but it's what we've got.

That said, second puberty (for late transitioners who do two, instead of just making sure the first one is the right one medically) has one thing in common with the ordinary puberty cis people are familiar with: you don't get to tell puberty what you're gonna get out of it, it does what it's gonna do to your body and HA HA HA HA HA yeah right.

This is because hormones are fecking complicated and affect most of the systems of your body.

Which is also why I want to note that people undergoing hormonal transitions, if they can manage it financially, really really should have an endocrinologist monitoring their blood levels, kidney and liver health markers, etc, because wow can things go bad in weird ways if you roll your own under the table without an expert at hand to help.

That said, large doses cause harsher, faster changes than small doses -- this should be pretty intuitive, and is also true of people whose bodies do it to them on their own without injections.

In a cis man visiting an endocrinologist for whatever reason, there is a range of "normal" values for blood testosterone levels. This range is really rather large and varies by age, but in general one could call it 270 to 1070 ng/dL with an average level of 679 ng/dL (those are nanograms per deciLiter).

Some endocrinologists overseeing female-to-male transitions read "average" and think "normal," and attempt to keep their patients' blood testosterone between 650-700 ng/dL. It is considered (by the trans men I know and their docs, anyway) better for the patient and more effective if you instead monitor blood levels while adjusting the dose until suddenly, physiologically, it becomes this is the "right" level. Apparently it is a mental and physical sensation that is unmistakable, and relatively easy for the doc to monitor if they're looking for it. Notably, the same injected dose at the same frequency can produce wildly different blood-testosterone levels for different patients, because human bodies are weird and variable, so just having a standard dose that is "right for transition" is oversimplifying.

Guys who want fast, drastic changes (because of their particular dysphoria) opt to start out at higher doses and increase the dose more aggressively; this does bring on hair growth and fat redistribution and laryngeal stiffening pretty quickly.

This is not recommended for people who want to still have a useful singing voice afterwards, because it can stiffen enough as to permanently make more than a 6-7 note range impossible to sing in a controlled way.

Ramping up slowly and approaching the 'right' blood level with deliberate caution can be, apparently, more nerve-wracking (because the 'rightness' feeling takes a much longer time to arrive, and a lot of the hormonal moody teenager bullshit has longer to make itself felt), and it does mean you have much longer to wait before, say, facial and chest hair are convincingly adult-male-looking, but it's more likely (especially if you keep warmed up and in training through it) to result in a usable singing voice.

Timbre often shifts radically. Whether base pitch changes at all and how much is incredibly variable and not predictable given the available data.

Some things in transfeminine transition seem to be on a direct link to age-at-transition (generally, the later you transition, the smaller your boobs end up, with a usual-maximum for you personally somewhat predictable by looking at one's female relatives and estimating); this link is not clearly and universally apparent in transmasculine transition.

It really hurts my sciencey-raised brain to be asserting stuff; please, mentally insert "so far as we can tell" and "on general trend" and so on throughout the preceding, because again, no good datasets.

We don't even have a good dataset for prevalence of people-who-want-to-transition in the US population as a whole. What we have datasets for is how many people each of the well-known surgeons have operated upon in the lifetime of their practice, which added together gives some kind of minimum limit, but a lot of people don't get surgery, so that set is always going to undercount (as well as including a lot of people of varying country-of-origin).

#765 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 04:13 PM:

Some links, because sources are awesome:

One particular guy youtube-logging how his voice changes in sound over his first two years on T:

A really detailed article on the subject with videos of a variety of post-transition trans guys singing professionally, and talking about their experiences (in text).

#766 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 04:44 PM:

A.J. Luxton (722) -- Thanks! It sounds like testosterone might actually help. I will ask my rheumatologist, if I can ever find another. They seem to be kind of thin on the ground, but I have a new rec I'm hopeful of for a father/daughter team about forty miles away. Steroid treatment is a standard, for more severe cases than mine, but they mean prednisone usually, which hasn't been very effective for me anyway.

The worst part of polymyositis from my point of view is that my muscles are slowly dying. The decreasing ability to do anything is much more of a problem to me than the pain. I've always been pretty good at putting up with pain, but I hate hate *hate* being incapable. I used to do all my own ... no, I'll shut up now, no more whining in public. Thanks again!

#767 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 06:28 PM:

I feel the urge to apologize for my apology, but I think that might get uncomfortably meta and also miss the point.

Just want to highlight kimiko@747 and Cassy B.@748 as having expressed very well what I was feeling too - mortification at having usurped someone else's narrative, however inadvertently, knowing that I share the world with a bunch of jerks who'd do it on purpose and not care; and then there's the just plain embarrassment -

- while recognizing also that effuse apologies prompted by the apologizer's embarrassment probably run the risk of making the apology all about the apologizer, which is kinda tacky and defeats the purpose -

- which all comes back to, "Self, shut up and move on, 'k?" So OK. Moving on now.

JJ @ 738 - it is amazing (and should not be surprising) how frequently I get some variety of "Don't you have a man to do that for you?" or "Well, if you've got your husband with you, you don't need to change the spare tire yourself, do you?". Both from strangers. The first some 20 years ago when I stopped to adjust my bike's brakes, the second some 3 months ago when my husband and I pulled into a service station to change out a flat tire together. And of course any number of uncounted examples in between.

When my Dad gave me a set of allen wrenches and other tools as a birthday present back in high school, it felt like such a deep gesture of respect. "I know you're independent enough to want to fix your own bike, and competent enough to do so. Here's a gift that will enable that."

Something I am very grateful for here in Boulder is never hearing anything like any of that from the local hardware-and-everything-else store, McGuckin. Doesn't matter what I go in asking for, or whether the green-vest-wearing employee helping me out is a man or a woman. There is no hint of "Why don't you just let your husband do it, ha ha?" If I come in looking for tools or advice for a project, by golly, they assume I'm the one who's going to be doing that project.

#737 ::: David Goldfarb - I am grinning sheepishly in your direction.

#768 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 06:37 PM:

My mother once said that she didn't know what she'd done to get two daughters who get lost in hardware stores. (She was a technician who married a born engineer: result, kids who grew up with tools in hand.)

#769 ::: Cheradenine ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 07:13 PM:

Mary Frances @749: I give a brief survey to my students on the first day of class, and one thing I've asked for some time is their preferred name (since what people go by doesn't always match the legal name on file with the college). This year I started also asking for preferred pronouns. It puzzled a few of the cis students, but that was a good opportunity for them to learn something, and I had at least one non-gender-conforming student who really appreciated it.

#770 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 07:41 PM:

Fade Manley @715: but tomboys were sporty and brash, and I was not. Hm. I was a tomboy. I wasn't sporty (I had rotten hand-eye coordination and was always picked last for team sports) and I wasn't brash. But I spent most of my time in T-shirt and jeans, or similar, had short hair, liked being outside, didn't mind getting dirty, and was delighted when I got mistaken for a boy. It was very clear to me from an early age that (a) boys got to do more; and (b) this wasn't fair. Would I have swapped to male if I'd been given that option? Absolutely!

Now, well, I'm comfortable with my body (although I do envy Dono's experience and have thought about going to a transformation session for the experience). My hair is in an easy-to keep style (wash, rub with towel, brush backwards, done). I still mainly wear jeans/walking trousers and T-shirts. I like dressing up in skirts and dresses very occasionally (think going to operas or black tie dinners or similar events, a few times a year), but even then I don't wear makeup - stopped doing so in my mid-20s, didn't wear any for my wedding (why would I? I wanted to look like me on our wedding photos). The highest heels I wear are less than an inch, and those rarely (not even all of the occasions on which I wear the aforementioned dresses). I'm happier in VivoBarefoot shoes (flat!) or Teva sports sandals. For work I wear plain trousers and a plain or striped shirt; a suit (trousers not skirt) if I need to be more formal for meetings.

Despite my mother's often-expressed fears that I would never be attractive to men unless I presented myself in a more feminine manner, that wasn't actually a problem (and why would I want to go out with someone who wasn't attracted to actual-me anyway?) and my husband was just fine with my face not being slathered in makeup on our wedding day.

I'm lucky (in my opinion) that I'm fairly flat-chested, as that's easier for being active (I know rather larger-breasted women who have to wear not one but two strong-control running bras to feel comfortable while running).

Would I want to become male now? No; I'm comfortable with who I am, and I'm pretty sure my husband prefers me the way I am. However, having society become magically more evenhanded in its treatment of men and women would be very, very nice.

#771 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 07:47 PM:

Nicole, #767: "It is amazing (and should not be surprising) how frequently I get some variety of 'Don't you have a man to do that for you?' "

I've gotten a lot of that, too. It's bizarre that so many people don't seem to recognize that there are real advantages to being able to do things for yourself, instead of relying on money or guile to get someone to do it for you. It's as if they've never questioned the concept of Female Learned Helplessness, and they're stunned to encounter someone who has not bought into it.

During the brief period I was seeing one guy, I got up in the night to use the toilet, went back to bed, and then after realizing that the flush mechanism wasn't going to shut off by itself, I got back up, fixed it, and went back to bed. The next morning, the guy asked me "Why didn't you ask me to get up and fix it?" I gave him an odd look and said "Because I was quite capable of fixing it myself without waking you up?" (Needless to say, that guy didn't last long.)

Nicole, #767: "When my Dad gave me a set of allen wrenches and other tools as a birthday present back in high school, it felt like such a deep gesture of respect. 'I know you're independent enough to want to fix your own bike, and competent enough to do so. Here's a gift that will enable that.' "

That is so cool -- that he would understand you well enough to know that you would appreciate such a gift. In high school, I asked for (and got) for my birthday a very nice set of metric + imperial-sized socket, allen, and crescent wrenches with bonus needlenose pliers and screwdriver with various types of bits. I think that my father was quite pleased that I'd asked for a gift to which he could relate. Some years later, that set saved me from what likely would have been a catastrophic vehicle accident.

#772 ::: Rail ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 08:02 PM:

Elisa @756 I read the blog post (sorry too tired to scroll up to find the comment) that suggests the SP/RP are more interested in Idea fiction than characterization fiction but these stories don't even interesting ideas

I don't think it's as much that they want Idea Fiction as that they don't want Characterization Cooties.

Plus, hardware porn.

Based on the stories I've read so far, they seem to be defining "hard sf" as "includes a catalog of the screws and rivets in the ships dealing out the coruscating plasma beams".

#773 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 08:33 PM:

Hi Everyone. I'm busy and too tired to do much more than grunt and nod, but I'm still reading and paying attention to a very interesting conversation... :)


#774 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 08:45 PM:

AJ at 726: Do you think it would be appropriative for a non-trans person to attempt some combination of surgical and/or hormonal gender transition?

#775 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 08:48 PM:

Sarah, since I didn't acknowledge this yet, my sympathies on your health problems. That sucks.

#776 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 09:03 PM:

Sarah @ 774: the broad definition of "trans" includes anyone who experiences dissatisfaction with the gender assignment handed to them at birth, and cares enough to do something about it.

This is true in the same way that the broad definition of "mobility impaired" might be said to include someone with cerebral palsy, someone with an injured leg, and someone with vertigo.

They might all buy the same brand of mobility aid, even though they have different reasons to need it. They might require the same use of curb cuts to get down the street.

Some of them might not even be comfortable identifying themselves as disabled.

That's OK too.

The medical model of trans-ness is slowly changing to accommodate the idea that people might want to do things that change their bodies, to make their lives easier, for lots of reasons.

If the curb-cut helps you walk down the street, then you, too, deserve the curb-cut. You are not lesser than any other person who needs it.

#777 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 09:12 PM:

Additions to above, for Sarah and anyone else who needs or benefits from them:

Mobility aids in the metaphor above are explicitly analogous to transition healthcare.

Being trans and being a given gender are two different things.

(I'm trans and nonbinary/agender, not a man; I know other people who are trans and tentatively or nominally men or women but It's Complicated, and have heard secondhand from someone who was convinced they didn't have any gender identity issues until they had a prophylactic mastectomy for genetic reasons and were just so much happier with their flat chest afterwards.)

#778 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 09:18 PM:

Nicole, @767, JJ @771, my father owned a hardware store; I practically grew up in the place. I'm comfortable with basic home repair and help build sets for a local community theater. (As a congratulatory gift on being named set designer for a show, my husband got me a portable drill and circular saw set....)

So two of my sisters and I are redoing the cabinet fronts in a sister's newly-bought house, and we smell gas. Being sensible sorts, we immediately call the gas company. (Turns out that the pilot light went out on the stove.) A women shows up, looks at us, looks at the work-in-progress and the assortment of power tools, and says, "Umm.... where are the guys? Shouldn't guys be doing this?" We looked at her, dumbfounded. One of us (I no longer remember who) answered, "Why do we need a guy? I mean, YOU're the "guy" from the gas company..."

#779 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 10:10 PM:

Cassy B, #778: "Why do we need a guy? I mean, YOU're the 'guy' from the gas company..."

Oh, that is priceless.

#780 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 10:14 PM:

@777 and have heard secondhand from someone who was convinced they didn't have any gender identity issues until they had a prophylactic mastectomy for genetic reasons and were just so much happier with their flat chest afterwards.

Did they definitely identify this as a latent gender identity issue in themselves, though, or was that an assumption someone else made about them based on their happiness at being suddenly flat-chested?

I could totally see someone finding post-mastectomy life remarkably convenient, without their identifying any less as a woman.

(Maybe I'm just bouncing off your phrasing in a direction you didn't intend. Apologies in advance if so.)

Unfortunately, I've also heard on more than one occasion of women post-mastectomy, or post-miscarriage, or post-hysterectomy, unhappily questioning whether they're "real women" anymore, whether they've "failed" at being women, because society so vehemently links "woman" with "boob-having, womb-having, child-bearing person". Obviously that's a problematic assumption from the trans perspective, but it also bites cis-women hard in these situations.

#781 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 10:18 PM:

Expression and role selection can get complicated sometimes, and the politics can get oppressive, from both sides.

In our house I'm the person who handles most of the plumbing issues, or door-hanging, or replacing electrical stuph.

I'm also the person who does sewing (both by machine and by hand), and ironing clothes (we split the clothes-washing). My wife very happily does the cooking - it's what she wants to do, and excels at it, and is firmly convinced that I really can't do much above successfully boiling water for tea. She is the partner who can put the fear of G/d (or whatever fear of something that non-believers admit to) into the boys. Yet I still get cr*p from various people who claim I Don't Do My Share Of The Domestic Duties (yes, we sometimes argue about things - but we've been married for more than 2 decades, and at some point we both sulk away and then one/other/both apologize for being thick and we figure out what we need to do).

Back before my spouse and I were together at all, I was living with a lady who was happiest doing cleaning and domestic stupf because of her upbringing (also, from early conditioning - her dad, who thought the sun rose and set on her shoulders, was absolutely hopeless doing domestic things). At one point we had just had supper, and were due at a party at the apartment next door.

She insisted that I go and bring over the soda (soft drinks, for those of you hoi polloi) that was our contribution to the refreshment quota. When I was asked where my lady was I answered honestly that she would be by as soon as she finished up putting dinner stuff away. The temperature in the room dropped about 20 degrees.

It didn't matter that *her* preferred expression of her character was "traditional." It was, somehow, my responsibility for her preferences, and that those preferences didn't Meet Expectations. And she was very unhappy when she found out why I came back home before she even could get out. Doubly so when she finally pried out of me what had happened. She went next door for about 20 minutes or so and when she came back she was fit to chew nails.

My lesson from that was, no matter what *you* may feel are the "proper" dynamics in a relationship, that doesn't have to map onto what the people in the relationship may feel. Looking back, what may have ticked her off more than anything else was the assumption that she did *not* have self-agency, when her direction simply did not map to what some thought it should be for a woman who was adult, educated and progressive.

So, indeed, the politics can get nasty.

#782 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 10:25 PM:

I hope the above makes sense - it's a lot more stream-of-blather than I really intended.

#783 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 10:39 PM:

Nicole @780: the story was told to me by my partner who's blogfriends with the individual in question, so all of this is very paraphrased, but I remember the description of the realization as, "hey, I'm starting to think I had ulterior motives for wanting that voluntary surgery as much as I did, because of how much better I feel about my body."

#784 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2015, 10:53 PM:

Some random bits of my own experience with gender and gender presentation: I'm cis-female, mostly straight. Short and stout, wide-hipped, not flat-chested but not particularly large breasted, long haired. I frequently get addressed as "Sir" or "Mister". Somehow, despite what I think are fairly obvious clues in size and shape, I just don't register as female to a lot of people. This bemuses but does not offend me.

I did apparently flunk "Femininity 101". My outer clothing is typically jeans and a t-shirt, adding a sweatshirt when it's cool and coat as needed. I wear a Greek fisherman's cap, black, much of the time. I don't use makeup. The only time you're likely to find me in a dress and jewelry is at an SCA event, and even then I might be in a tunic and trews.

Would I become male if I could? No, I'm comfortable being who I am. I'm almost 62 and not likely to change my presentation either. Still, it's a bit confusing when some stranger hollers "Hey, mister" and I have to figure out they're talking to me.

#785 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2015, 12:28 AM:

One of my aunts-by-marriage had a double mastectomy (lots of cysts). My uncle said that he hadn't married her for her breasts.

#786 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2015, 12:34 AM:

I think the last time I wore a skirt was at my last high-school reunion (40 year: it was a blast) - I prefer jeans and a tee-shirt, but slacks and a regular shirt work fine. I usually wear flipflops, because I have a lot of trouble finding shoes that fit (in women's, something like a 4E, if not wider). I never got into makeup, even though I have tried it; it just isn't my thing.

#787 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2015, 12:36 AM:

dcb @770: Tomboys were sporty and brash, I knew, because media told me so. I lived in a sufficiently small community that until, oh, about fourth grade, I just didn't have any worked examples in person of what a 'tomboy' was. But it was a term that came up in fiction I read, and sometimes in movies or TV shows that I watched, and they all agreed that to be a "tomboy" you had to be a sports-interested, chip-on-her-shoulder girl who was Not Like Other Girls, and only made friends with boys.

And I was a nerdy little child who liked playing in the mud and reading books and playing with plastic ponies and wearing boyish clothing, and I had friends who were girls and friends who were boys, and I was very stubborn at times but not very aggressive or brave. So I wasn't doing Girl right and I wasn't doing Tomboy right, and I could only conclude that I was Weird. Weird was a tag I could at least own, because it was broad and vague, and at least one family member had told me the word applied to me.

I think about that sometimes when the issue of representation in media comes up. It is entirely possible to grow up in a community so small that there just isn't anyone like you nearby in person, and turning to stories to figure out what sort of person you might be is...tricky.

#788 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2015, 01:17 AM:

and turning to stories to figure out what sort of person you might be is...tricky.

Oddly enough (or perhaps not oddly at all) the best advice a story gave me about identity came from Zelazny's Lord of Light when he discussed Aspects and Attributes. I'm no endlessly reincarnated psychic, so I have no Attribute, (save a horrible superpower involving puns*) but I can raise any of several Aspects at will.

* Last night I told someone that a Jewish supervillain needed ten assistants before he could have a minion.

#789 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2015, 01:41 AM:

I've always wanted to have a minyan of minions.

#790 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2015, 04:07 AM:

Alex R. @788:

Isn't that only if they want to prey together?


(It took me several minutes to think of the above, because I was busy cackling out loud.)

#791 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2015, 04:14 AM:

Lucy Kemnitzer @758:
Bike paths in the Netherlands are generally red, whether it be colored concrete, red cobblestones, or red paving slabs. It's a strong visual cue if you're used to it, but we do generally expect that tourists are less clued-up. And even locals will step off a crowded sidewalk to use an empty bike lane. (Dutch people and rules. It's complicated and frequently funny.)

I'm glad people were tactful when you strayed onto the bike paths. Sometimes they're not, and the bell-ringing can be officious and peremptory rather than kind and helpful.

Running people down is still totally Not On, though. Like, ever.

CHip @ #760:
Infrastructure maintenance is kind of a big thing here, and cyclists are at least as much a priority as other road users.

I remember cycling with PNH and seeing a sign that said "Slecht wegdek" (bad road surface). On the subsequent stretch of bike path, there were two or three spots where the top layer of asphalt had come off and a couple of holes a centimeter or more deep and a good five or ten centimeters in diameter. Patrick cycles in New York. He all but fell off his bike laughing at this notion of a bad road surface.

But the other reason we don't need structural strength in our frames is that we have greater materials strength, because the bikes weigh a lot. This is, of course, more useful in a flat country, and I'd argue that the local equivalent of hills—our winds—mean that the increased momentum that a heavy bike gives you is a stability advantage.

#792 ::: katster ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2015, 05:06 AM:

I just wanted to say thanks about the gender conversation. I don't feel safe talking about it yet, but the conversation has me doing a lot of rumination. Stuff I wouldn't be thinking of if not for the conversation.


#793 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2015, 05:27 AM:

Isn't that only if they want to prey together?

I can imagine a really funny "Who's on first" bit with a Jewish supervillain getting advice from his Rabbi on various super-villainly issues, including the difference between "minyan" and "minion" and "pray" and "prey."

Am I the only one here who's ever heard "The Man From Tante?"

#794 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2015, 05:27 AM:

katster @792:

I'm glad to have had a part in enabling that thought process. Seems like as good a life purpose as any, these days.

(I've been wanting to offer an ear to anyone who needs to muddle through gender thoughts, but my wrists haven't been up for a lot of private typed conversations recently, argh. I will note that I'm in Portland, not averse to meeting new people, and will also be at Baycon and maybe Worldcon. Am not a licensed counselor, just someone with a large collection of assorted roadmaps and different cognitive lenses for looking at gender feels. Anyone who wants can also seek me out as Alice Luxton on the book of face to make further contact, but the minimal typing caveat applies.)

#795 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2015, 05:30 AM:

abi @ #791

When I was a tourist in Amsterdam for three days I think I only stood in a bike path that I thought was the footpath once (on the first day).

Also, re stability: There was a 'Pioneer' race at the Omaka Airshow that involved penny-farthings, vintage cars, and replica ~1910 aircraft. As it was rather windy on the first day, us avgeeks wondered out loud what the maximum permissible crosswind component is for a penny-farthing. Turns out that once you are mounted on one, it will happily keep going as desired, having a wacking great flywheel!
My Flickr Album

#796 ::: Ledasmom ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2015, 06:56 AM:

Craig R @781: You neglect to mention who it is who is in charge of wasp and spider wrangling - when it's not the cats, that is.
There was a dog at work who found and kept track of a spider until I was able to get a cup to hustle it (that is, the spider) outside. Luckily there is no longer anyone at work who heavily dislikes spiders, as it's been rather a good spring for them.

Abi: I have been wanting to take up cycling again, but unfortunately live in a city without flat parts. There are also winds, which blow down the hills. Despite these issues, and the interesting local traffic culture, there are always a few people on bikes to be seen, including a woman in a hat with a scarf around the crown who bikes around the park maintaining a dignified upright posture. She is more or less what I aspire to be if I manage to get old and dignified, one of which is much more likely than the other.

#797 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2015, 09:13 AM:

796 ::Ledasmom::

Yes, you use a more negotiated approach to displacing the spiders, wasps, whatever.

I have a real phobia about most all creepy crawlies, and *my* carefully reasoned response to any sortie by them is akin to "nuke 'em from orbit."

My only exception to the rule are butterflies: aside from they simply appear less threatening, oftentimes they exhibit puddling behaviour and alight on my hands and arms. (yes, I understand the physiological reason to that activity, but it still is affecting to me)

#798 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2015, 10:37 AM:

Sarah's 13 now, and it's been over a decade since she voluntarily put on a skirt of any sort. In 5th, she had to dress as a pilgrim one time, and was far from thrilled over the costume. Now she's playing field hockey, and this requires a uniform with a skirt, and Spandex undergarment because skirts. The skirt seems pointless to me. They'd look about 98% the same if they were wearing culottes, if I'm using the right word.

She's still playing soccer, of course, so she has two teams to laugh and take selfies with. A good thing, as the kid-rich neighborhood we moved into seems to have inexplicably dried up a bit.

#799 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2015, 11:01 AM:

Everyone, read The Three-Body Problem so you can go over to the spoiler thread and read Steve Wright's awesome "I am the very model of a modern Trisolarian".

#800 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2015, 11:21 AM:

I'm behind on my reading. From back around posts 500-600, gender norms: I can't dig it up right now, but there was an article on [tabletop] roleplaying with advice for Playing A Girl. Aside from the obvious-yet-still-necessary bits*, one thing that I remember was 'A man who calls his mother every day is described as "has issues"; a woman who calls her mother every day is described as "well adjusted." '

* sadly, a lot of guys really are more comfortable/believable when playing a green space tiger than a human female. And some of 'em are 30 and 40 years old. If they stay away from Ivana Sexalot, Princess Poofydress, and Butchie Mankiller they're on the right side of the bell curve.

#801 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2015, 11:36 AM:

Nicole (780): As mentioned above, I'm cis female and happy with my gender. I'm also rather large-breasted. Several years ago, I was faced with the possibility of having a double mastectomy, depending on the result of some tests. (I got the favorable result, and therefore didn't follow through.) I was *not* looking forward to more surgery, but I rather liked the idea of getting rid of my breasts. They're so inconvenient. And not needing any more mammograms would have been wonderful. I'm not sorry how things came out, but sometimes I wist a little at the thought of being flat-chested. What a relief that would be!

Before that, when faced with the possibility of a hysterectomy, I told several people, "I'm definitely female; not having a womb won't change that."

#802 ::: Jenavira ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2015, 11:47 AM:

The gender-roles discussion is offering some interesting new ways of thinking about a problem I've been worrying at. I have a friend who, although queer herself and generally progressive, Does Not Grok trans people. She keeps asking me to explain it to her, which, since I'm not trans myself, is more than a little complicated. (Not to mention one of her exposures to gender nonconformity is a trans agender friend of mine, which identity is sending first friend into a mental tailspin.) I've been parsing it as a second-wave feminism thing, but I think an equally large part of it might be that she's a strongly-gendered person herself. She's very butch, but does tend to take offense when misgendered. (Okay, unless it's a sweet little old lady flirting with her, in which case she thinks it's hilarious.)

Myself, I'm weakly-gendered enough I've been toying with a genderqueer identity, but like some of the other posters I just don't care enough to bother sticking myself into one of those boxes. I perform femininity pretty consistently just because I have waist-length hair and think skirts are comfy, but that does sometimes lead people to make assumptions that frankly strike me as weird.

#803 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2015, 11:54 AM:

@802 I found Whipping Girl by Serano to be particularly enlightening, if she's willing to read that sort of thing.

#804 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2015, 12:24 PM:

I'm content with my gender (though I'd try being male if the change were cheap, safe, and reversible), but I've found it helps me to understand trans just by imagining that my contentment got flipped.

On the other hand, I do tend to believe what people say about their own experience, so it's not that hard for me to believe it when people say their gender and/or sex is making them miserable.

#805 ::: DanAudy ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2015, 01:49 PM:

Sandy B@800

Actually to me that makes a lot of sense that men are more comfortable playing giant green space tigers than women. If you mischaracterize a GGST by doing something rediculously silly like, say, flirting outside their fertile cycle no one is really going to care even if they do notice. On the other hand if you mischaracterize a human female by, say, having her unaware of and unconcerned with social consequences of having sex it is profoundly noticeable and makes 'her' seem un-human. Very few people are invested in the way that GGST's act or will be insulted by that whereas human females are something that most of us are invested in, and especially if you have human females also playing in your game.

#806 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2015, 02:14 PM:

there was an article on [tabletop] roleplaying with advice for Playing A Girl.

I'd love to see that if you can dig it up. I've played three girls recently, (actually one girl and two women...) one of whom is a failed princess, one of whom is an agendered baroness, and one of who owns a bar and goes into battle with an ogre-sized cleaver and a pot-lid.

#807 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2015, 02:15 PM:

DanAudy: But your proposed reason also indicates men having a vast lack of confidence that they actually understand women well enough to model their behavior. I suppose that's realistic for a lot of men, and somewhat better than being completely confident and wrong, but...

Maybe what you're saying is one part of the truth, but I do fear a lot of it has more to do with unconsciously considering even a fictional female character as being lower status, and that that blocks some men from seriously thinking about or engaging with the character other than as a caricature.

#808 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2015, 03:00 PM:

In the RPG-playing community, I've seen people of both genders be quite firm about how people playing cross-gender never got it "right". But it turned out that some of that was "They're playing it in a stereotypical and offensive way," and some of that was "My view of gender is so narrow that anyone who plays it outside that zone must be doing it wrong." So it's one of those cuts-both-ways things, where you get it coming and going...

#809 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2015, 03:12 PM:

I'm a strongly-gendered, mostly feminine cis female (I sometimes start thinking I'm not that feminine, because flats and no make-up, then I look at my skirts, my hot pink shirts, my long hair, my strong desire to keep my nuisance-large breasts, and now my firmly accepted role as mommy*), with some friends and family who are trans or genderqueer, and I thought I had a pretty good idea about this stuff, and I'm learning SO MUCH from this conversation.

You guys (of all genders) are awesome.

*which mommyness only reinforces the fact that mammaries are a part of my identity as well as my body. Though it points to a different direction for that identification than I ever had before 2011.

#810 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2015, 03:59 PM:

For Clifton @ 759

This is Just to Say

I have borrowed
the Romans
that were needed in
this thread

and which
you were probably
would march in

Forgive me
Gaul was just divided
two parts here
one there

#811 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2015, 04:00 PM:

Rail (772) Hardware porn -- That's what I call the tool catalogs that I read in bed at night.

Sarah (774) Now that I'm thinking of possible personal benefits, it sounds very appropriate and not appropriative to me. Why should I not do something to improve my quality of life just because it's kinda like what a different person may be doing to improve his quality of life in a different way?

Anne Sheller (784) This is me! Apparently there are more of me around than I realized. Most of the people I've known who seemed like me have turned out to be lesbians, which I am not.

A.J. Luxton (809) Thanks again for the information. I look forward to having a rheumatologist with whom to discuss it. Is that Portland Oregon? I'm just down the valley, the one that if it were anyone else's valley they'd say "up the valley".

#812 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2015, 04:29 PM:

This *has* been an interesting discussion, the likes of which I have had before only with my husband, who also reads and sometimes comments here.

Last night I said to him,, "How would you feel if I became a man?" There followed a longish silence, both of us I think with thoughtful looks. Then he said "I don't know that it would make much difference."

And I don't think it would. It probably wouldn't change my appearance much; a lot of people we know casually around town think we're a gay couple anyway. If it improved my health, it might make me *look* healthier. People might ask me about the improvement (since I am so conspicuously dis-improved at present). I might say, "I've been taking testosterone." And then it occurred to me that it might actually change my appearance. I might grow a beard, or maybe I should say, more of a beard. And if so, I would not shave. I have never shaved any part of myself and I sure wouldn't be willing to start now.

Actually, I never did any of those girl things, makeup, shaving, girdles, etc. I have told people that I never got the lessons, and that's the truth. My mother did them, but she never showed me how or insisted that I do them, and I just never started.

One last thing and then I must go prune things. Lenora Rose (809), I don't know that being a mommy is necessarily a feminine thing. I think good parenting is just one thing, and any gender can do it. I have raised two families (more or less). For the first, I was definitely the mommy and my then husband was the daddy. For the second, I was the daddy. I went to work full time, while my now husband worked part-time, from the house. I fixed the stuff that didn't work, including the cars. He did the cooking and the wash, changed the diapers, dispensed the bandaids. I got to come home after work, bounce the baby on my knee and pass him back if the diaper got soggy. The kids used to say that they had a daddy-mommy and a mommy-daddy. But none of this made me feel any less womanly, or feminine, to the extent that I had felt that way in the first place. My husband was a wonderful mother. I don't know if this makes him "feminine" or if the fact that he could not breast-feed the baby makes him "not feminine", but he was, and is, a great -- parent. Happy Mother's Day, sweetie.

#813 ::: DanAudy ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2015, 05:45 PM:


Frankly, I don't think most men understand men's behaviour well enough to model it. In general, however, no one will call us on it as we are considered subject matter experts.

Speaking solely for myself - the reason I tend not to play female characters is that unless it is core to what I want to explore with the character I feel that the extra mental energy to try to remember and portray the gendered differences take away from the energy to focus on the subject that character was built to explore. Other men I've discussed the issue with have cited fear of being mocked for portraying them poorly and discomfort at the idea of portraying an in-game romance from the perspective of a hetero-sexual woman*. The ones I've seen play a woman well tend to be more well adjusted socially and able to maintain healthy relationships while those who do it poorly tend to definitely fall into the low status issue and generally see them solely in terms of being a sexual object (and I find it extremely icky playing in a game where someone is broadcasting that loudly).

*This could be latent homophobia or a recognition that women's romantic roles in society are more passive and fraught than men's which could be a status issue.

#814 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2015, 06:38 PM:

Hmmm... I prefer to play male characters in RPGs, particularly if I get to have a lot of customization, because if I'm going to spend seven hundred hours watching someone run around, I'd rather he was hot.

The one exception was FFXI and the Mithra, because 1) they only came in female and 2) Every single piece of armor in the game looked better on a Mithra. No matter who you were or what you were wearing, a Mithra could wear it better. AND she was my third character, so...

... however, when playing Dragon Age 2 as default!Hawke, I noticed that after a few hours of play, my own voice sounded weirdly high-pitched. Like I was still expecting to hear Hawke's voice when I talked. It went away, but dmn was that effect strange while it lasted.

#815 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2015, 08:43 PM:

Sarah #814: A vocal Tetris effect?

#816 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2015, 08:46 PM:

I think our current models for gender, sex, and sexuality are flawed, but they're overall less flawed than all the models that have come before, and they're important for getting help to the people who are in the most pain or danger. Because of this, I rarely talk about gender: it’s caused me a lot of problems but it’s probably not going to kill me.

In the limited terminology we have available, I suppose you could say that I’m gender-nonconforming. I’m definitely further outside the norm than most people who use that term, in that I believe that gender is an artificial construct that is helpful to some people but actively harmful to me. The core of my identity is a drive to mix activities and presentation in a deliberate effort to disrupt the concept of gender. I feel most comfortable when I’m doing things that very strongly give off extremely contradictory and confusing gender signals. Not gender neutral, or agender, but gender-defiant.

An interesting datapoint: my upbringing was strongly influenced by public television and Free to Be You and Me. I had defiant, anti-gender behavior modeled as an acceptable (if difficult) path, and that may have given me the “out” I needed to be who I was. As a result, I completely distorted my brother’s gender perceptions. He grew up thinking that Magic: the Gathering and MMOs were “for girls” because they were things I was interested in long before he was, but he also felt that stuffed animals in pastel colors were for everyone because he liked those things before he was capable of conscious thought, and was never told they weren't FOR him.

I think the categorization endgame will include a category for gender-nonconforming/gender agnostic people. I know a lot of people who look at the definition of cis and say “that does not apply to me” and then look at mainstream ideas surrounding being trans and think “that does not really describe me either.” There’s another reason as well: in my industry and several related ones, being a binary trans man who conforms to male gender norms is much more socially acceptable and professionally viable than being a gender-nonconforming person of any stripe. People have mentioned the fact that it’s more socially acceptable for women to do masculine things, and that’s both true and misleading. For millennials especially, there can be very serious professional consequences for not adhering to one set of binary norms.

I don't want to minimalize the real struggles that binary trans people go through in most industries and cultures, but in certain futuristic and progressive industries where binary trans people can readily gain acceptance, problems for non-binary people and women in general (including trans and nonconforming women) remain. I know a lot of non-binary people who really hesitate to speak up about this, because their issues feel less important and fall outside the rigid structure of current trans/cis discussions.

I found Eliott Mason's wonderful posts very enlightening, in part because they made me realize how eggshell-thin the differences can be between people for whom transitioning is the right choice, and people for whom it is not. I have a non-binary friend who went through the exact same process, including the pros and cons list, and ended up with the conclusion that the distressing assumptions made about women that hurt her so badly were a flaw in society, and it was more valuable for her to work towards destroying those assumptions than to transition to a gender where they would not be made. She identifies as "genderfuck," and is incredibly uncomfortable when people assume she is cis.

Having that contrast allows me to talk about something extremely difficult and complex that I probably wouldn't bring up anywhere but here. There is some level of assumption in the modern gender studies community that trans people (especially binary trans people) are more negatively effected by gender categorization and stereotyping than non-trans people. This is broadly true for younger people, who face potential rejection by parents and difficulty accessing necessary medical care. It's also true for people living in poverty, for similar reasons involving lack of safe spaces and access to care.

But when you start discussing adults in relatively stable economic situations, a wrinkle appears. A large number of trans men I know have reported significant social and professional gains after transitioning, if they reached a place where most people could correctly divine their masculinity from their presentation. At the same time, studies continually show that women who do not change their gender presentation but who take up masculine behavioral patterns associated with success (negotiating for raises, speaking out in meetings, etc) are frequently punished. A lot of service-based, tipping economy jobs for women require strong gender conformity, so women from diverse economic backgrounds are affected.

It is well documented that trans people face crises of safety, support, and care, and we have to make addressing those problems a priority. But many of the people participating in the debate about gender online have personally achieved stability in those areas, and are living as their gender. At that point, cultural rules regarding gender conformity affect everyone. People who do not adequately perform gender norms are marginalized and suffer from abuse, regardless of whether they are trans, non-binary, or cis.

I've noticed a trend in recent years, in certain online communities. When someone expresses dissatisfaction with the gender norms they're subject to, there's a tendency to suggest that they solve the problem via a shift in identity, rather than through efforts to dismantle some of the more harmful gender norms. This is part of a wholesale shift back towards the gender binary: studies have shown that kids' toys in the US are more strongly gendered now than they have been since the 1950s. Nonbinary people are actually having more trouble these days, rather than less.

We're left with a growing group of young people who don't fit into the current gender studies narrative, who hesitate to speak out because their problems aren't as serious as those faced by strongly-gendered binary trans youth, or trans people of color. The definition of cis implies that you don't feel a strong disconnect between yourself and your assigned gender, but it's possible to be connected to some aspects of your assigned gender and not to others. It's possible to feel a connection to your biological sex but not to any cultural aspect of your gender. What level of disconnect makes you non-binary? What level of disconnect makes you trans? Are they the same thing? Is it possible to fight against gender norms in any meaningful way? Does the fact that some people are strongly attached to gender norms mean we shouldn't try to change them?

These are all painful, difficult questions that I don't think we talk about enough. Making Light is basically the only place on the internet I'd even consider raising them. Even then, I'm literally shaking with fear as I contemplate posting this... cause this is the stuff that nonbinary people only talk about in private, with each other.

This is long and rambling, but it kind of needs to be. I hope it makes sense and isn't terrible.

#817 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2015, 08:56 PM:

#783 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: Thank you for sharing more of the story. I'm still not sure I'd have inferred gender identity issues in there, myself, but different experiences, different perspectives, etc.

#810 ::: Doug ::: [standing ovation]

Gender-bending in RPGs: Last time I went to Gen Con, I joined in a Call of Cthulhu session whose premise was a heavy metal band getting back together to record one last album in a haunted house, with exactly the kind of results that the genre-savvy might come to expect.

Anyway, once the group was all there, the GM said, "Oh, great! Two women! That's perfect--there's exactly two female characters!"

Which is already a bit off, because as we all know, there's no requirement for a player to only play same-gendered characters. But it gets worse: Neither of the two female characters were, say, members of the heavy metal band or otherwise active in the album recording project. They were:

* A musician's ex-girlfriend, whom the whole band hates

* That musician's daughter by that ex-girlfriend, whom the whole band finds annoying.

I looked over the list of characters and said, "Actually, neither of those appeal to me. I'd rather play the lead guitarist."

To the GM's credit, he said OK. But he gave me a really weird look first.

I don't think he really understood the total effect of his choices as to which characters were which genders in the first place. Maybe he thought that, since none of the characters were designed to be likeable stereotypes, it didn't matter that both of the female characters were unlikeable stereotypes. But both female characters were hangers-on, while all the rock-n-roll stars were male. And that creates a situation where less fun is available to women--barring players choosing other-gender characters, of course, but given the GM's surprise at my choice, it was obvious the GM had simply not thought of this as an option.

Not a slam against Gen Con, of course. Gen Con is a lot of fun and far too big to be one thing. But this particular GM was perhaps a little clueless.

Oh hey - happy Mother's Day to one and all!

#818 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2015, 09:04 PM:

#816 ::: Leah Miller ::: I read your post while nodding and muttering things like, "Yes, exactly!" and "So much this!" Also things like "Crap, I never thought of that..."

There is so much there, all of it intensely valuable. Thank you for saying it, and I'm very glad you feel able to say it here.

#819 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2015, 09:55 PM:

Echoing thanks for Leah Miller's post. It is indeed hard to start these conversations without a certain group-comfort.

The conclusion that certain things are flaws in society is part of why I'm not transitioning to loosely binary male (getting name, legal markers etc changed in that direction) right now. (If that were solidly my identity, though, I would feel differently.)

But on the flip side, I've read an article by someone who was physically benefiting from testosterone and then went off it because they didn't want to be a part of toxic masculinity culture. And it just made me feel incredibly sad. It's true that how strangers impose gender on you is connected with the body, in our society. But being a part of toxic masculinity is a choice, and it's a choice that's separate from what your body is like, and what your body is like should be for you, before partners or friends or bosses or onlookers.

That's why I view the physical side in terms of body mods, honestly, why I think of that as a useful reference frame. The answer to, "If there were no social gender, would I prefer to look and feel this way? How do I want my voice to sound when I'm talking to myself?" is important. Bodily autonomy is important (both to transitioning and non-transitioning people of all genders). There is ground I refuse to cede lightly to societal coercion. Defiance is sometimes in keeping what you have the way it is; other times it is changing it to the way you want it to be.

(And on a lighter note, that's why dem wacky SJWs dye their/our hair.)


Oh! Another useful reference frame, hopefully:

Transition (whether the sought-after transitioned-to point is a binary gender or something else entirely) is ultimately comparable to other adult life milestones like buying a house, changing careers, or raising a kid. They're all financially, socially and sometimes physically risky undertakings, and different for everyone, and a vital part of life when they take place.

#820 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2015, 11:10 PM:

Leah Miller #816: An impressive and helpful post. I'd like to pick out one point:

The core of my identity is a drive to mix activities and presentation in a deliberate effort to disrupt the concept of gender. I feel most comfortable when I’m doing things that very strongly give off extremely contradictory and confusing gender signals. Not gender neutral, or agender, but gender-defiant.

The blurring of gender is an ancient path to power -- in many cultures, non-standard genders or changing genders is a mark of the shaman or sorcerer. This is precisely because it's breaching two categories separated by tradition and taboo -- metaphorically, such folk are drawing power from the electric fence.

Whether or not such power is officially recognized, most societies do find it somewhat threatening -- and if it doesn't have a place in society, it's likely to be defined as "beyond the pale". Which is to say, I think folk of nonstandard genders do have a unique and valuable role in our society, but right now it's also a rather difficult one. On the one hand, just now they've still got a rough row to hoe dealing with prejudice complicated by extinction bursts. On the other, there's been a lot of progress already in carving out a space for nonstandard genders, and I think we're likely to see more, in large part due to folks like you. (All assuming society doesn't go to hell in a handbasket for unrelated reasons....)

#821 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2015, 11:18 PM:

older @ 812: Agreed that *parenting* is not that gendered. My 'little brother', not his heavily pregnant wife, is the one of the two of them born to be a parent, and who not only stays home with their son but has started a day care business in their home due to his nurturing nature. And I know any number of adoptive or step mothers who are as or more nurturing than biological ones, and I think them no less a parent.

The part of mommyness that's part of my gender identity, rather than part of my overall identity, is much more base than that. It has nothing to do with the nurturing of children, other than breastfeeding itself.

It's the part where these two children came out of my body, and were or now are fed and sustained directly out of my body. That is pretty definitively cis-female, even if it is not, as some would have it, the best or only way to perform femininity. (or even the best or only way to perform parenting).

#822 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2015, 11:25 PM:

@821 Men who have done all of those things exist.

#823 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2015, 11:34 PM:

Sarah: yes. Their existence does not invalidate my choice to consider those things a significant part of my gender identity, any more than the existence of women with facial hair invalidates a man's choice to consider his a mark of masculinity.

#824 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2015, 11:45 PM:

Lenora Rose @821 and Sarah @822:

One of the other online spaces where I spend time has a number of "support group" threads, for ongoing discussions of and support with a wide variety of issues (including baby planning, PTSD, and job-hunting). One of the support groups, which I read sometimes and have posted to a couple of times, is called "People who get periods."

That is an accurate description of what/who that thread is for, but I blinked the first time I saw it. Most other places/groups would call that something like "menstrual issues" or "women who get periods," either ignoring or explicitly if unintentionally excluding nonbinary and transmasculine people.

#825 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2015, 11:59 PM:

Vicki: I like that designation. It makes sense.

(If it's not obvious, I am of a very strong opinion that my choices as to what is and is not part of *my* identity also does not invalidate anyone else's different choice.)

#826 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 12:51 AM:

This is long and rambling, but it kind of needs to be. I hope it makes sense and isn't terrible.

It makes perfect sense and is not in the least terrible, and I'm glad you're comfortable talking about it here, and I think the confusion you talk about is at the heart of the problem.

For me the confusion comes from the fact that there are so many possible reasons someone might have issues with gender conformity, ranging from brain structure, to brain chemistry, to a variety of complex psychological issues, to frustration with the roles we're called upon to play, to frustrations with the social limits of being male or female... plus I suspect that some limited subgroup of gender-dysphoria issues are secondary to some other problem.

This is not to insult anyone or attack someone's pet theory, but if you want to talk about gender issues its really important to understand that there isn't an elephant in the room - there's a whole herd of elephants in the room, and if you want to work on a particular issue with gender you'd better be sure you understand exactly which kind of elephant you're dealing with!

For myself, I've found myself contemplating the discussion with a particularly difficult set of emotions, and it comes down to the fact that in my family I have to play the very male, very fatherly figure, and I have to play it straight, and I'm turning into my dad, which is making me both very depressed and a little crazy!

#827 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 02:18 AM:

Leah Miller @816: one of my role models was my mother, who got a PhD in mathematics because it was easier for her than being a debutante. She also worked while I was growing up. I didn't get instilled with a lot of gender-marker-following; but I also don't push against them for conscious reasons, or to cause disruption. I just do what I do, and let people figure out how they're going to react. Most of the ones who react badly are people I don't end up spending much time with. Like my partner's mother, who wouldn't let me attend her 75th birthday party because of my long hair (it would annoy her conservative neighbors). Her loss. I'd still save her life again, but I might think about it first.

Which is a way of saying, thank you for saying all that and for what you do. Breaking the roles is important work, and it isn't easy.

#828 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 02:19 AM:

Correction: 95th birthday, not 75th.

#829 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 03:07 AM:

This is a wonderful conversation—I'm learning a lot, and I'm very grateful to everyone who has contributed.

To keep things simple, let's move the actual Hugo discussions to another thread. I'm not going to close this one (far from it!). But I think the audiences for the two conversations may diverge in some particulars, and I want to cater for that.

#830 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 03:18 AM:

Thank you, Nicole @817.

#831 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 11:15 AM:

Elliott: TFTI. I'm not surprised that data is weak, especially due to interlinked results; we already know that one nice specific-looking push pretty much anywhere in a lifeform will have unexpected side effects. Interesting that a fast transition can ruin a singing voice; I was more wondering whether a slow transition would let the voice change smoothly (as suggested by your subsequent YouTube link) without a long period of "breaking" randomly between ~original and ~destination ranges -- not the subtle changes-over-years described in your later link, but the inability to be sure which register each word of a spoken sentence (or line of music) would come out in. (I don't even know how common this kind of instability is; I just remember feeling very sympathetic to Piemur, even though Dragondrums came out a long time after my voice changed.) I wouldn't be surprised if data were weak; you make it clear there's enough critical stuff to monitor in-process.

Cassy B @ 778: I'd go , but I've seen too many cases of competent women being propagandized into thinking they're undesirable exceptions. And cf Craig R @ 781 for an opposite side; doctrine of any sort is a poor alternative to most self-found choices.

abi @ 791: fascinating; I remembered flat lands but wasn't thinking about the side effects and how to handle them.

Sandy B @ 800: I accidentally(*) played a female D&D character 40 years ago. Didn't see any of those issues (or others mentioned downthread), but D&D at MIT back then was rather primitive; somebody looking at those sessions now might say the only time the character wasn't a MWB was when she tried to vamp a smith to get a better price to adapt a set of wormface(**) armor.
(*) The DM was whimsical ALL THE TIME, and put a high-level mage reflecting himself in his dungeon (along with Hokas, Valerians, Scientologists, and did I really tell him he needed a vatch to complete the set?).
(**) from Have Spacesuit, Will Travel. I said the DM was whimsical; he was also heavily into SF, fantasy of the time not having much variety.

Leah @ 816: my read (for what it's worth as someone who admittedly doesn't "get" people a lot) is that the biggest divider/scale is the extent to which people are uncomfortable with uncertainty; being able to say "You are an X so I must use behavior set X-prime on you" is very comforting to some people, even if their own behavior/presentation/... is rule-unusual. (I see this as not entirely orthogonal to David@820's discussion of power, but not nearly parallel.) Working around this, and towards requiring that individuals be accepted as such rather than members-of-classes (as I see you doing) seems valuable to me.

#832 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 11:30 AM:

Leah Miller @816: Every single word of what you wrote is very important and correct.

Something I glossed over in my earlier long bits is that some of the "gendered assumptions" that I find most problematic to work around are communication-style dependent. When I am viewed as a woman and surrounded by women, there are things I reflexively do in communication that get reactions ranging from a surprised laugh to a sidelong weird look to utter ostracization, and I almost never have any idea what I did that was unacceptable or unexpected. Usually they can't explain it either, I just tripped their Uncanny-Valley-like "NOT RIGHT THIS IS RONG" sensors because of my baseline behaviors.

Quoted, seconded, and signal-boosted on "gender-binarist bullshit assumptions are oppressive no matter your gender of identity and whether it matches your gender of assignment, and must be fought against."

I was raised deeply enmeshed in second-wave feminism, and a good part of my emotional homework and processing during my "Do I need to transition or not?" period involved ways to make peace with my inner radfem (while retraining said radfem out of being reflexively transphobic, as alas so many second-wave radfems are). I keep my Inner Activist happy by pushing back against binarist bullshit when I see it and can productively speak against it, whether that's inside a trans support group against other people there for support (!!!), in my kid's school's Local School Council meeting, out in the world, or wherever.

Just because transitioning is right for me doesn't mean it's ok to push pink and passivity (or anything else) on Women As A Class.

This is a bad month for me to produce thoughtful braining words, but I thought it was important to get a response in to you as quickly as possible making it clear that YES, THAT THING.

#833 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 11:31 AM:

Chip @876: I know at least two cis guys who never experienced that "random voice jumping around" phenomenon (one is now a high tenor; the other is an untrained bari/bass). I don't know if that's because their glands gave them smaller, more gradual doses than other guys' glands, and I'm not sure how the question would be researched, but it's interesting.

Trans guys do provide interesting case studies for looking at testosterone puberty in general, because the inputs and blood levels and symptoms can be tracked.

#834 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 12:23 PM:

Sandy, #800: I'm not sure I'd call anyone of either gender who feels that they have to talk to their parents every single day "well-adjusted" without further information.* To me, it looks more like "someone never got out of the adolescent phase of having to call your best friend every day" and have simply transferred that to a parent because it's more socially acceptable.

The one and only time I ever tried to take on a male persona**, it was a dismal failure -- even with a well-established character as reference, I couldn't role-play a man successfully.

Nancy, #804: I'm content with my gender (though I'd try being male if the change were cheap, safe, and reversible)

THIS. I would love to see how the other half lives, although I think at the end of the day (or week), I'd revert to being female again.

Older, #812: I'm looking at a high probability of being on estrogen-suppression therapy for the next 5 years (not that I think it needs much suppression at this point!), and one of the things I'm concerned about is the possibility of beard development, which DO NOT WANT. I'm already getting the occasional post-menopausal whisker, which I deal with by pulling them out, and I'm not happy with the thought of that getting worse.

Leah, #816: Thank you for that post. This is the kind of information that people who want to be allies need to be aware of, and if nobody wants to talk about it, we can't learn.

Nicole, #817: So who got stuck playing Hated Ex and Annoying Daughter, and were they upset about it? Enquiring minds want to know!

A.J. Luxton, #819: I originally decided to dye my hair because it was going white, and my reaction was "I'm tired of looking in the mirror and seeing someone else." But having made that decision, I did not feel constrained to stay with something close to my original (plain dark brown) color -- so now I have dark red hair with a white streak in the front like Rogue's. And I've already decided that when I get to the point where the red just doesn't work any more, I'm going to go natural and then get bright-gold highlights!

* Meaning that I can envision situations in which there would be logical reasons to do so, but none of those would be my default assumption.

** It was for a community on LJ, in which participants took on the persona of a favorite fictional character. I was trying to play Benjamin January, and it didn't work at all.

#835 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 03:03 PM:

Lee (834) Diffrent strokes for diffrent folks! I find the idea of shaving vastly repellent. Obviously, you don't.

I also have never wanted to dye my hair, even though I really admire the creative hair colors and hair cuts I see around me.

Oddly, I have found that my hair has naturally taken almost every natural color there is, at various times in my life. I was even a blonde at one point, and believe me, that is *totally* off the map of reasonable expectations.

Lenora Rose -- I read and I understand what you are saying about breast feeding and femininity. Again, it's diffrent strokes. To me it meant not so much that I was feminine, as that masculine though I may have looked to a lot of people, I was satisfactorily *female* -- and I did get a lot of abuse/teasing from my age mates about this point, as a teenaged person.

#836 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 03:07 PM:


Found them:

#837 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 03:39 PM:

#834 ::: Lee ::: You know, I can't for the life of me remember whether it was the Hated Ex or the Annoying Kid role that went to one of the male players. All I really remember is that the person playing the Annoying Kid hammed it up and had a blast. There was a teddy bear prop they kept hugging and squeezing and commanding people to interact with.

I felt a little bad about taking one of the "star" roles and leaving someone else with the "undesirable" role I'd rejected, but no one seemed to have a problem with it. And the way the player took to the Annoying Kid character sort of made it clear that, well, "undesirable" is not an objective adjective. Different people will apply it to different RPG characters, so all of the roles can get played by people who enjoy them.

(Kind of like socially gendered behavior - I may consider make-up and dress-up to be entirely too much trouble to go through for not enough enjoyment, but others clearly find them fun, transformative, empowering, and other wonderful things. So!)

#838 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 04:14 PM:

Leah Miller @816

Important points, well said.

When I was a kid, I wanted girls to be able to do boy things, without having to fight about it.

Now I'm a bit older and (I hope) wiser, I want everyone to be able to do all the things. I respect people who swim against the social gender current, and also people who don't choose to; what makes me antsy is people who 1)try to make other people's choices for them or 2) try to deny that the current exists.

So go you for being who you are! And I hope you are feeling better about bringing it up.

#839 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 05:00 PM:

DanAudy @805 writes:

> Actually to me that makes a lot of sense that men are more comfortable playing giant green space tigers than women. If you mischaracterize a GGST by doing something rediculously silly like, say, flirting outside their fertile cycle no one is really going to care even if they do notice.

Sometimes when I'm feeling particularly negative I think that's the secret of a lot of SF/F - the author gets to play tennis with the net down.

#840 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 05:00 PM:

DanAudy @805 writes:

> Actually to me that makes a lot of sense that men are more comfortable playing giant green space tigers than women. If you mischaracterize a GGST by doing something rediculously silly like, say, flirting outside their fertile cycle no one is really going to care even if they do notice.

Sometimes when I'm feeling particularly negative I think that's the secret of a lot of SF/F - the author gets to play tennis with the net down.

#841 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 08:11 PM:

I recall trying to come up with the gender-reverse of 'tomboy' and not getting anything that sounded right, or sounded good enough to call myself. Took me a long time to realize that it's because any comparison of a boy to a girl was automatically insulting (and still is, though people are fighting this particular face of misogyny). Took me not quite as long to realize that *I* wasn't the one with a problem.

In my late adolescence I decided to "butch up," partly for safety (I mean, I was fem enough that people who didn't think "hey, look at the snttbg" were not looking*), and partly because I found masculinity sexy in other guys, and wondered if I might find it sexy to perform it, as well (not that I thought in those terms, as a 19-year-old in the late 70s). I did, as it happened, and it's now become part of who I am.

Yes, I'm saying I'm butcher now than I was when I was young. Those who've met me as an adult may find this astonishing! My models were the NICE straight (or butch gay) guys I knew, not the armpit-farts-are-hilarious macho pigs. Well, them and guys from stories and movies. I strove for Steve Rogers, not Johnny Storm.

These days no one would even call me metrosexual. I keep clean and relatively neat (though I have a penchant for faded old t-shirts), but I'm not fussy about my grooming. When my hair became too much trouble (it had thinned and darkened and greyed, and the texture was inconsistent) I shaved my head. I buy enough clothes to not have to do laundry too often, and that's it.

These are not, to my mind, aspects of how I perform masculinity, so much as they are ways in which I can't be bothered to live up to others' expectations, even those of other gay men.

*Yes, I'm well aware that femininity in a cis male is not necessarily an indication of homosexuality. But at that time, most straight people thought it was.

#842 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 08:27 PM:

Xopher: possibly "sissy," though tomboy is a (somewhat) socially acceptable identity in a way that "sissy" isn't -- it's still a slur, for the most part.

#843 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 08:28 PM:

Xopher: possibly "sissy," though tomboy is a (somewhat) socially acceptable identity in a way that "sissy" isn't -- it's still a slur, for the most part.

#844 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 09:23 PM:

Just want to chime in about how valuable Leah's comments at 816 are. Maybe more thoughts later.

#845 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 09:23 PM:

In my experience, "sissy" is absolutely a slur, or at least an insult. It's a synonym for coward, cry-baby, weakling, mama's boy, baby and sometimes push-over depending on context.

In terms of vulgarity/obscenity and sexism, it's the G-rated version of "pussy."

#846 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 09:25 PM:

Nicole: and often carries anti-gay shadings, too, not usually present in cry-baby or weakling.

#847 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 10:44 PM:

Yeah, 'sissy' isn't really analogous to 'tomboy'. It's something I got called a lot when I was a kid, but not something I was inclined to identify as.

My favorite use of it, though, is from Buffy. Guy she's dating, completely unaware of vampires, narrowly escapes being bitten by one, and says "Did you see that guy try to bite me? What a sissy!"

Yes, we sissies are more dangerous than you can guess.

#848 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 10:49 PM:

#846 ::: Elliott Mason ::: Right! How could I forget the other spectrum of meaning for "sissy," i.e. effeminate, failing to perform masculinity, with connotations of questioning his sexuality?

You'd think I'd think of that, given that mention of it arose from Xopher looking for a gender-flipped version of "tomboy."

In any case, the one way I've *never* heard the word used was approvingly. It doesn't seem a ready candidate for reclaiming, though I've been surprised on that account before.

#849 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 11:03 PM:

I've seen people trying to reclaim "sissy", though, so pretty much any word can fall into that category.

#850 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 12:25 PM:

Steve Taylor @ 839: IME, that's the secret of a lot of bad SF; good SF puts up a net to its own specs and tells you the specs. The net argument has been invoked against fantasy, SF detection, and other variants, but has been countered -- effectively IMO; see (e.g.) Too Many Magicians.

#851 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 11:00 AM:

I think it might be that "sissy" would approximate "tomboy" in a version of our culture that didn't privilege masculinity above femininity and maleness above femaleness.

(One of my partners identifies as a sissy, and I think I've seen other people reclaim it too, but the word is not nearly as neutral in its connotations as tomboy. I also seem to recall that tomboy used to be more insulting than it is, back in time periods where it was more broadly considered offensive for women to wear men's clothing, etc?)

#852 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 02:13 PM:

A term I ran across recently, which hasn't (yet?) gone into wide usage and hasn't (yet?) developed strong negative connotations, is "princess boy".

#853 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 08:51 PM:

Over a decade ago, I'd been going clean-shaven for a while, and of course needed to grow foliage for a play, and I was being made dark-haired as well. (I was playing Sheriff Sam Staples in "The Night Thoreau Spent in Prison," and was not only portraying an actual historical person, I was playing someone my own age. Maybe the only time ever.) It was deemed suitable to put a white streak in my beard, and after a couple of repetitions of the darkening and streaking, I realized it would be quicker to darken only the parts that were sandy-colored, and let the white bits just be themselves.

The streaky days are over, now. My beard is wholly white, and I'm back to wearing it. If anyone's curious, my Twitter pic was taken last week.

#854 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 01:05 AM:

Now I'm feeling sad that my surfeit of Hugo discussions made me miss out on catching the gender discussion here until it's pretty much over. I've been catching up on the last several hundred messages in the thread in odd moments in the last couple of days and hope it isn't entirely too late to share my own thoughts. It wasn't until I ran into Nicole's description at 735 that I encountered anything resembling my own experience.

I have always, by and large, been quite happy and comfortable with being bodily female. (I'm going to try to use terminology that is descriptive without stepping on anyone else's toes, but I may fail in spots.) But in company with that, I have never had any clear sense of what it was supposed to mean to be female-gendered.

At a pretty young age, I indicated to my parents that any distinction in household chores and responsibilities between my three brothers and myself would be rejected, and with only a little balking, they got with the program. On both sides. We all had the same opportunity/responsibility to cook, clean, sew, do yardwork, perform car maintenance, etc. etc. We each had different strengths and preferences, but that was individual.

I was well aware that the world in general intended to treat me differently from my brothers based on anatomy, but I never internalized that as anything about me. And it never inspired me to want to change myself -- only to change the world. What it did inspire in me was a strong sense of loyalty to the concept of being female. I always had this underlying sense that wanting to be a boy (or to identify with male fictional characters) because the world placed a higher value on them would be betrayal, would be treason to myself.

But this was not loyalty to any specific set of characteristics. I rejected the notion that there were any behavioral, performance, or evaluative characteristics that aligned with being male or female. I don't precisely recall when it was that I had a heated argument with one of my aunts where I insisted that, because I was female, anything I did was by definition feminine, and that the very same thing could also be masculine if a man did it. (This was the same aunt with whom I once had an incomprehensible argument over her insistence that I wasn't a "California Girl" despite being Californian and a girl. I knew what she was trying to express--I simply rejected the definition.)

I have the same incomprehension over being asked to define/describe myself as either butch or femme. The categories have no more meaning to me than an astrological sign. Other people may assign me to one based on some arbitrary feature, but it has no meaning for my own sense of self.

And -- I confess, and apologize for any discomfort this causes others -- this background is part of why I've never really grokked certain essential aspects of trans experience. When I hear someone try to explain, "I feel A, B, and C by which I have always known myself to be gender P rather than the gender Q that was assigned to me," my internal voice says, "But there's nothing inherently gendered about A, B, or C." I hope I am finally approaching a place where my internal voice says, "Really nothing to do with me, nice to meet you" rather than hearing my aunt explaining to me that someone born in New York could be more of a California Girl than I'd ever be.

Again, I apologize if my attempts to explain the internal working of my head gives the appearance of commenting on or judging anyone else's life.

#855 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 01:14 AM:

I like your approach, Heather. Thank you for including it here.

#856 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 08:02 AM:

Thanks for the kind words everyone. Glad to see the thing I wrote was the thing I wanted it to be.

My nervousness was mainly due to experiences friends have shared about other portions of the internet, where discussions of the grey areas of sex and gender have gotten them heat from both sides. And now I'm about to go deeper into that. Wheeeee!

You see, Heather @854 gives me the perfect opportunity to talk more about sex, gender, and the connections between those concepts.

I once spent several weeks trying to come up with a good, clear-cut, unambiguous definition of sex and gender that included a detailed description of the relationship between the two, and I could not. My background is in psychology, and most of the definitions of gender you see discussed these days come from the field of gender studies. How much of gender is a social construct and how much is psychological or neurological has not really been adequately explored, and there is no real consensus that is shared among those fields.

Specifically, these definitions frequently fail to account for people who are outside the binary in certain specific ways, including people who reject the social construct of gender and people who embrace the presentation and/or roles of one gender while maintaining an internal identity based on another. The terms nonbinary and genderfluid are often used to describe people in these categories, but those terms also lack strong consensus definitions, and there is heated debate about whether they fall under the trans or cis umbrella, or whether they should be in another category entirely.

There's substantial disagreement about whether sex can be as much a part of someone's identity as gender, or whether any identity based on one's physical sexual characteristics is inherently a part of gender.

My optimal solution would be to eventually acknowledge that "woman" and "man" are terms that can be used to refer to an individual's personal choice of identity. That person can base their chosen identity on their internal concept of gender, their assigned at birth sex, their primary or secondary sexual characteristics, their presentation, or any combination of factors that have been associated with those terms throughout history. Gender and sex are so muddied and confused that restricting the use of masculine or feminine terminology to either sex or gender seems needlessly exclusionary. Many women I know would probably be considered cissexual but agender in such a system, and would continue to call themselves women and use feminine pronouns... but I have seen many arguments declaring that it would be impossible to be cissexual and agender, that any feeling of fellowship with people who share sexual characteristics with you is, by definition, gender.

If that sounds confusing... yes, it is. It's made even more confusing because it is extremely contentious, and very difficult to discuss without tapdancing around a minefield. Many modern concepts of gender assume that any mental sense one has of whether one is male or female MUST be considered linked to the social construct of gender, that every single personal thought about how one identifies is intrinsically linked to the collection of social assumptions about what behaviors and presentation belong to each gender. There can be very strong opposition to the idea that a person might prefer to chose their pronouns and terms due to sex and not gender.

This is in large part because of bad actors in this debate, people who argued that the terms man and woman applied exclusively to a doctor's determination of a baby's sex according to the primary and secondary sexual characteristics that doctor observed at birth. Even once the debate had moved beyond that, these arguments were often linked to a culture of trans exclusion. Some of the people involved were gender essentialists, but others were what one might call "gender abolitionists," people who wanted to dismantle the idea that any presentation or behavior was in any way gendered, people fighting against the socially constructed aspects of the gender binary.

While I have no sympathy for people who think sex and gender exclusively apply to some binary physical determination at birth, I have some sympathy for people who were actively trying to downplay the idea that certain behaviors or presentations were specific to the concept of "man" or "woman." I can sympathize with their disagreement when someone else seemed to suggest that identifying strongly with the social concept of gender (especially normative binary gender) was one of the main things that made someone a man or woman.

I've always understood why someone would want to transition hormonally and/or surgically if they experienced physical dysphoria. But these days people are drawing attention away from physical aspects of transition, for understandable reasons, among which are issues of personal privacy and avoiding objectification. This has lead to media initiatives that highlight the ways that trans people often embrace socially constructed gender norms.

This leads to some odd messaging when in-depth discussions of gender theory occur. A woman can bind her chest, wear clothes purchased only in the men's department, speak and act in ways deemed stereotypically male, have a profession that is stereotypically male, and still be considered 'cis' unless she has changed her pronoun and/or announced that she is trans. An identical person who has changed his pronouns would be considered trans and male, with no discernible difference in physical appearance, behavior, medical status, or presentation. If you look at these edge cases it becomes harder for a layman to understand what it means to be trans. In the absence of a dysphoria that motivates someone to make a medical change, whether or not a given person is trans comes down to an impossible-to-quantify personal feeling about the situation. In these edge cases, the only discernible difference between a woman and a man is a choice of pronoun and other terminology. If you acknowledge that, it may be harder to "sell" the importance of binary transition for strongly gendered trans people, so the existence of these edge cases is often downplayed.

This becomes readily apparent when you examine the recent pattern of conflicts between trans women and drag queens. While some drag queens' performance is based on an exaggeration of camp femininity, others present as an intentionally convincing woman, adopt feminine pronouns (at least while they're in their drag persona) and yet are not trans. Some may be genderfluid, some may identify exclusively as male despite situationally using female pronouns. What's more, some drag intentionally plays up people's discomfort with ambiguous sex and gender, which can run counter to the goal of getting binary trans people accepted into the current social structures of the gender binary. This is an oversimplication of a very complex issue, but my point is this: sex and gender edge cases make it more difficult to explain and advocate for binary trans people. They complicate the most easily understandable explanations of modern gender theory, especially as it pertains to trans people who do not have dysphoria and/or who do not wish to discuss physical aspects of their transition (for very good reasons).

Because edge cases like that make it clear how subjective and personal gender is, people pushing for reforms that will help trans people prefer to focus on rhetoric that leverages a culturally accepted gender binary. This may have the unintended side effect of reinforcing that binary; studies in various fields are showing that the 80s and 90s were actually a high point for the breaking down of gender stereotypes, and that we've actually regressed substantially in the last 10-20 years. It's very chicken-egg... it's impossible to tell whether modern gender theory helped support these trends towards greater gender polarization, or whether it was merely a response to them.

So yeah, it's complicated.

Having a concept of gender that inextricably links a person's internal concept of their own masculinity and femininity with the social construct of gender makes it easier to advocate for services and protections for binary trans people. Binary trans people are among the most at-risk people in our society, so it makes sense to prioritize the aspects of the discussion that would help them, while downplaying aspects that would make it more difficult for lay-people to understand what is going on.

How one's internal sense of identity interacts with gender roles, gender presentation, and gender norms is not clear. The current direction of gender theory disincentivizes attempts to seriously unpack these concepts.

Most people are strongly gendered and cis (whether naturally or through social conditioning), so they have little objection to the idea that (for example) their self identity as a man and their enjoyment of masculine things are intrinsically connected. If they instinctively accept these connections, you only have to convince them that sexual characteristics at birth are irrelevant in order to get them to understand why trans people are trans.

Another very visible segment of the population is binary trans, who also benefit from presentation and norms being at least somewhat conflated with all other aspects of gender. Again, these are often the people who have the clearest, most serious, most actionable needs.

Then there are the people who have not internalized the social construct of gender, or who do not identify with it in a binary way, or who are otherwise weird or edge-casey. I would argue that the current discussion about gender was not designed with them in mind. It was designed to more strongly focus on the binary, and while it can contain language that acknowledges the existence of people outside the binary or people who have a different relationship with gender or sex, it's not particularly well-suited to do those things.

Basically my goal is to do as much as possible to help people outside the strong gender binary without doing anything that might prevent binary trans people from getting the things they need. I'm starting to suspect that the number of people who have serious conflicts with the gender binary is larger than we may think.

#857 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 08:32 AM:

I think it's right that there are a variety of independently-varying aspects of humanity that are being lumped into two boxes we call "male" and "female", and that trans people are possibly best placed to notice that there are probably way more than just 'sex' and 'gender' involved. I will be very interested to see what gender theory looks like twenty years from now.

It has already changed radically in my lifetime, and at the time of my birth was radically different than what was widely accepted fifty years before.

There is a Captain America fanfic called More Man Than You that has a hyper-researched and fascinating view of what it was like to be non-cis-het in the 1920s in New York City. There was a lot of lumping together of things we now widely acknowledge are different. Back then, if you were into having receptive sex with men, often you adopted feminine mannerisms and/or dress, and a female name, and were "a fairy". The butcher members of what we would now call the gay male community wore suits and called themselves "normal" -- as in, "I like a fairy now and then, but I'm a normal guy."

They meant, they were strongly masculine-feeling in their gender identity and presentation. Back then, "wanting to sleep with men" was considered strongly feminine, to the point that it might warp other parts of your presentation and gender that you felt less strongly about than it.

We are coming to a point where it is even possible to tease apart aspects of what Leah (fascinatingly and quite rightly) gets at in her latest comment.

I would also add that there is what I would call a subset of the trans community who reject the thought that they are trans at all.

They call themselves "true transsexuals" or "diagnosed transsexuals," and in their view, not only are they cisgender -- they have a birth defect that, once corrected, means they are not trans, they are cis, or so they insist -- but anyone who doesn't deeply, deeply need the most radical possible bodily surgery is specifically attacking them and trying to prevent them from getting happiness.

In their view, the only appropriate "transsexual" behavior and identity is to want all the surgery of ever, cut yourself off from your past, go deep stealth, and never mention that you had a different sex assigned at birth.

And anyone who is doing anything other than this is "making it harder" for the "true transsexuals," by "making trouble" and causing "other cisgender people" to stare at the true-transsexuals in suspicion that they might be like those "transgenderists".

It's a very hard mindset to get myself into empathy with, because it's so different than how I was raised. I know a lot of their founding thinkers came to it almost through Stockholm syndrome -- the medical gatekeepers often wouldn't LET you transition in the 1970s unless (a) the doctor thought you'd be pretty enough after "the surgery", (b) you only wanted to sleep with men and were very femme, and (c) you were willing to cut yourself off from your past and basically go all witness-protection-program.

That is a method of "treating" trans people that is no longer considered medically ethical, because it treats the patient for the benefit of relieving society's pain, instead of treating the patient in a way that relieves THE PATIENT'S pain.

And a lot of women were scarred and trained by this method, their internalized self-loathing and cis-supremacy made loud and reinforced by people in positions of authority. They lash out from pain, and from deep-seated fear that it can all be taken away -- they can lose everything if anyone "knows".

It still really pisses me off when some girl yells at me that I am attacking her for living my truth, and working to get the world to treat ALL people in a more equitable way regardless of gender identity or assignment at birth.

#858 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 09:00 AM:

A friend of mine recently came out to me as trans, and my reaction was pretty much, "Oh. OK," and a warning that it was going to take me a while to rekey her name in my head. The next day she sent me email thanking me for reacting so well. This boggles me, even though I know it shouldn't.

I'm cis, and in fact pretty femme--long hair, skirts most of the time, I am unquestionably a mammal. Heck, even a bunch of my hobbies are coded "woman". But that's what works for me, and it's not my job to police what works for other people.

I just wish English had a decent singlar epicene pronoun.

#859 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 09:29 AM:

Thanks to Leah, Elliott, Heather Rose Jones, and the others who have commented in this thread out of their own experience with gender identity.

I am hetero cis female. In high school and even later I enjoyed the company of males more than females because the males were more likely to be interested in the science-y and SFF-y things I was, while I kept running into "mean girl" females who thought I should perform Fashion and Makeup to their satisfaction. I'm sure the girls who shared my interests were out there, but that was some 40 years ago and many of them were undercover. Eventually it got better. Now I am for the most part quite comfortably me, and the expectation that I will perform to other's standards is a non-issue. (ObSF, I know there are problems with Marion Zimmer Bradley but Thendara House gave me my first real concept of what a supportive group of women might look like.)

In any case, I've known a couple of acquaintances and a child of a friend who transitioned, and I've tried to be supportive, but it's not something I've been required to pay much attention to. So I especially appreciate the explanations of complexity - it makes me feel better to know that my occasional confusion doesn't mean I'm not paying attention; it means that I am sometimes hearing different messages from different subgroups with different priorities.

#860 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 12:53 PM:

Elliott Mason #857: I think it's right that there are a variety of independently-varying aspects of humanity that are being lumped into two boxes we call "male" and "female",

The thing is, gender is a found distinction -- it is what it is. It's common experience (and despite outliers, this is usual), is that the human world is divided into male and female, and nearly every known society has different expected roles and behavior for the two groups. The fact that there are people who don't quite fit, falls under "Nature does not pay attention to our maps". Some societies deal with this better than others.

Also,modern American society isn't just one culture, so there's an issue with dealing with different layers at the same time -- some folks just get annoyed if you want them to learn new pronouns, others have more fundamental issues. (At the same time, none of our components managed to provide a "natural role" for non-binary types, which is a further handicap.)

#861 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 09:13 PM:

David Harmon #860

While I'd agree that gender is a "found" difference, I'd compare it to another found difference: race. Studies have shown that babies intrinsically recognize and prefer images of people who share their race, and toddlers respond positively to racist behavior that disproportionately rewards members of their racial in-group. It's a thing that definitely happens long before they recognize differences in gender. Race and gender are both "found differences", but that doesn't prevent us as a culture from trying to downplay the effect of this instinctual othering.

For a long time, there were a lot of really racist things we thought were scientifically and biologically associated with given races. And while there are some physical commonalities that are prevalent in some populations - the inability to process dairy or alcohol, for example - a lot of what we previously thought to be biologically inherent turned out to be cultural or environmental.

Similarly, there are some gender-based temperamental differences related to hormones. In a hilariously ironic development given the composition of most business boards, there is a crop of new research that suggests women are more rational in business or planning arguments than men, less emotionally volatile, and better at long-term thinking and responsible decision making. Male brains seem to be wired to reward aggression, anger, and irrational risk-taking.

At the same time, many stereotypically feminine behaviors are almost certainly learned. Developmental scientists have tracked populations of girls as they grow, and when they start withdrawing... answering fewer questions, advocating for themselves less, the girls are often doing so in conscious response to how society reacts when they do these things. Children interviewed for these studies say things like "why bother raising your hand when the teacher is just going to call on boys anyway?" and "people like smart boys, they don't like know-it-all girls."

There are some definite gender-related physical differences as well: pretty much nobody's gonna debate the upper body strength vs. lower center of gravity and flexibility thing... but there are a LOT of ways that this stuff could be strongly influenced developmentally as well. Again we can tie this back to similar conclusions made based on race: for a long time conventional wisdom was that some physical thing about black people made them good at running but bad at swimming and gymnastics. When we look at that now, we realize that those suppositions (which seemed to be based on data from outstanding athletes in those sports at the time) were almost definitely based on access: black people were less likely to be exposed to situations where they could engage with the very equipment-investment-heavy fields of swimming and gymnastics at young enough ages for them to become world class. Similar things happen to girls: while most boys are encouraged to try out a bunch of sports until they find one they're good at, that encouragement is substantially weaker for girls. Boys are more frequently given jobs and chores that are more likely to gradually enhance their general strength and fitness. If as broad a group of girls were exposed to these things as consistently as boys, I think many observed physical differences would narrow appreciably... though again, there are very clear interactions between male hormones and muscle mass that mean there will always be some differences.

Also, we have to bear in mind that a lot of traditional historical masculine and feminine roles were heavily influenced by one very specific thing: the fundamental nature of human reproduction when birth control does not exist. In that situation, any woman who has a job that requires manual labor or travel may become unavailable for several months, and the chances of a woman dying as a result were very high. Plus, there was a strong motivation to produce as many offspring as possible, which requires a substantially higher time commitment from the woman than the man.

Earlier you talked about what speculative fiction changes one would have to make to a human or human-like population to create a realistic gender-light society. When I was doing worldbuilding for a project a few years ago, I found that two changes easily created a gender egalitarian society that felt natural to most people. We created a society where women could consciously decide when to be fertile, and where children's basic educational and survival needs were met communally. Parent-child relationships still existed, but a lot of day-to-day caretaking was done by older relatives, especially grandparents. The funny thing was, this happened almost by accident: we'd gotten a brief that included creating a sub-species of humans who had substantially longer lives and who aged very slowly, so we asked the question of how this group could avoid overpopulation. Somatic control of reproduction seemed an easy answer, and the rest of the changes just sort of followed naturally once we extrapolated that.

Basically, while race and gender may both be found differences, historically we've grossly overestimated how many of the cultural assumptions we make about these differences represent some kind of physical, categorical truth. We assume that many things directly resulting from colonialism and institutionalized patriarchy are somehow innate, natural, unavoidable. Of the things we associate with gender, I think probably about 3-5% are actually associated with physical differences between men and women that would persist without cultural reinforcement.

We need to better examine which things we associate with gender are real and which things are fake and harmful, in the same way we're doing with race. Maybe all babies are born with prejudicial reactions to race and racism, and maybe all societies develop rigid gender roles, but that doesn't mean we have to let it happen.

#862 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 09:48 PM:

Leah Miller @861: See also all the meatheads assuming "committed gay couples very rarely become pregnant by accident" with "But they can't and don't have children, so why do they need marriage??"

As if the possibility of unintentional, pervasive chances of pregnancy were the thing that ought to define a couple's couple-ness.

(it feels a little related to me: one of the These People Are Aliens cultural differences i noticed between my age cohort and the kids in Fast Times at Ridgemont High is that the worst possible thing they could imagine happening as a result of a transient sexual contact was pregnancy -- it gets a LOT worse than that, and I was raised in an age where it was impossible not to know it)

#863 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 10:41 PM:

Leah Miller #861: I agree with almost everything you say in this post, but I do have one quibble:

Of the things we associate with gender, I think probably about 3-5% are actually associated with physical differences between men and women that would persist without cultural reinforcement.

I agree that the fundamental differences are far smaller than we normally think, but I do think that on both the physical and mental features there are a lot of "small differences" -- situations where one characteristic or another consistently would show a difference in average value. These don't immediately show up in mixed groups, but where they do show up, is anyplace that's selecting for a "long tail" -- the strongest humans, or those with the best endurance, the most aggressive, or the most resistant to provocation. Those situations exaggerate differences in the average, because of how Bell curves work.

There are other issues too: Cultural homeostasis (who's gonna raise the New Enlightened Generation?). Developmental issues (we humans do form stereotypes automatically and promiscuously). For that matter, our (sex-influenced) growth patterns are also part of the childrens' environment.

All this makes "eliminating bias" a tough job, and it's not something that can be done by just "subtracting the wrong lessons": Some of this stuff will keep popping up in the nurseries and gradeschools, and keeping it out of the adult society will require explicit and nigh-mandatory countertraining against problem behaviors.

This doesn't mean I think the path to equality is hopeless (we've done pretty well with other elements of modern civilization, like cutting back on interpersonal violence and vendettas), but I think it does fall under the software-development rule that "it always takes longer and costs more than you expect".

#864 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 10:27 PM:

Completely unrelated and rather flippant, but lately, as I get older and get squishy bits underneath my chin, I keep finding myself thinking "God! If only I could grow a beard!"

I would never before have chalked facial hair up as awesome, nor wished I could grow a beard, but goddamn that'd be useful about now. The squishy bits are unforgiving to most other interventions.

Still, I mostly find myself thinking "I wish I were a female dwarf ala Pratchett," rather than wishing to be male. I mean, I do like digging holes...

#865 ::: DanAudy ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 02:27 AM:

I really appreciate the discussion on gender here from those of you who are able to articulate so much better than me. For years I've struggled to grok the thinking and motivation behind transgender people and failed. Now I am seeing that the reason I struggled so much is that my own emotional association with my gender is very weak - the 'meh-gendered' term I think is a good fit. I never liked the cultural associations with being 'male' and always thought that I would have fit in better as 'female' but the problem in my mind was always that society sucked not that I really was a woman. I don't think I really ever conceived of someone having strong feelings about their gender rather than simply about the cultural trappings associated with it and as a consequence it always seemed to me that transitioning to another gender was an extreme and disproportionate response to that. Because people are so frightened/ashamed/confused/whatever about gender and don't talk about it, it is something that I never realised others experienced in such a profoundly different way than I do.

Thank you so much for your openness and honesty.

#866 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 03:00 PM:

I wanted to echo all the thanks for people talking honestly and openly about their experiences with gender, especially to the people who say that they would have swapped earlier in life. I have been considering going on testosterone since I learned this was an option, but I've never been quite able to commit, and certain aspects of my current primary relationship make it look less and less likely to happen any time soon... and I'd been feeling like a bit of a fraud, or a Fake Trans, and having it affirmed in some way that it's okay to feel one thing at one point in life and another thing at another is very helpful.

#867 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 03:06 PM:

Today I started reading the Hugo nominees.

The first nominee is a short story. Not bad, but sketchy and unfocused. It feels like the second draft of what needed two or three more drafts.

The second nominee is also a short story and, within the first five pages, I found myself drifting then skimming thru the whole thing.

This is not promising.

#868 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 06:02 AM:

Gender: Becoming Chaz elaborates many of the points covered in this thread.

One thing that struck me is that, as we have more people crossing the gender spectrum physically, I predict we'll begin to get a much better grip on what falls where in the innate/acquired//biological/cultural space.

#869 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 09:18 AM:

estelendur @866: I get the Fake Trans anxiety periodically too, partly because I have become somewhat at peace with all the compromises I must accept because I basically live embedded in an entirely cis context in my daily life.

There was a trans lady at WisCon last year who was utterly shocked that the only time I ever run into or speak with out trans people in person (not on the internet) is at support groups or cons, and mostly just WisCon at that. For transmasculine people it's basically WisCon and group and nowhere else.

She's from San Francisco, and apparently what happens there when you turn up, all pinfeathers and big eyes and terror, at your first support group or queer event, is that whoever you first encounter and hit it off with well asks, "So, sweetie, where do you live? Oh, you need to talk to X and Y, they live a block from you, and Q works down the street from your office! You should go out to lunch with zir sometime, zie's a sweetie and you have so much in common."

There are plenty of trans people of all genders in the greater Chicagoland area, but if you don't live in the gayborhood or go to a very specific slate of queer-community functions, they're just spread out through the population and you don't encounter them, even if you've met them before and were friendly.

When I came home from WisCon last night, I got in about 10PM. I had at that point been driving basically since 6, and was relatively light on sleep for the weekend (though amazingly well-slept for a con, and you all know what I mean). I had been childcare-primary for more hours than will usually result in a Very Functional Me.

And yet, when I got in, I unloaded the van and unpacked and put away very nearly everything that came home with me. I had the spoons to do that. I had the spoons to empty the dishwasher and fill it. I was so tired I kept losing track of what my current TASK was, but I didn't have the usual accompanying "and my chores are yelling at me inside my head that I'm a loser" upset-itude standing between me and productivity.

A friend jokingly said to me just post-con, "Hey, at least at WisCon strangers APOLOGIZE for misgendering you," but the reality is that nobody at WisCon DID misgender me. At least in part because I had a preferred-pronouns sticker on my badge and people were paying attention to them.

I kind of wonder if at least some of my being-on-my-A-game-despite-tired last night was because I had an entire weekend where I literally did not have to obsess constantly about performing my gender "well enough"?

I also saw a to-me STAGGERING number of transmasculine people, of all stages of transition, all weekend. Like, well over thirty and I have no idea of actual numbers because I lost track and just started mentally boggling every time I smiled at yet ANOTHER new trans dude stranger. I've never been in a room with more than ten trans guys at once, before. I'm pretty sure there were more than ten just in the packed-to-the-gills "So, what was that stuff that happened over the summer on the concom?" panel audience. The normalcy and visible ubiquity of gender variance among attendees and staff at this year's WisCon shocks, amazes, and pleases me.

#870 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 09:23 PM:

Couples Swap Genders in Prom Pics. Two pictures per couple, gender-swapped between the pics. It's really pretty impressive.

#871 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 10:15 PM:

My partner and I were talking about this today. Some of you will have seen him in more-or-less outrageous drag at cons, and the last couple of years at GAFilk he's gone mostly en femme because nobody there gives a rat's ass about how he's dressed.

Today was the first time the term "genderqueer" has come up in relation to how he feels about himself. He's concluded that where he falls on the cis-to-trans axis is: 1) He doesn't identify as female, but he doesn't identify strongly as male either; 2) to some extent he's more comfortable presenting as female or androgynous; 3) for practical reasons, there are times when he really does have to present as male.

It's taken a long time for him to reach this point, but I think he's more contented with his gender identity now than he used to be, and that's what matters.

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