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May 11, 2015

Hugo IV: A New Hope
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 03:03 AM * 701 comments

Moving the Hugo conversation here, if it wants to continue, because the previous Hugo thread has drifted and I’m minded to let it continue that drift uninterrupted.

Comments on Hugo IV: A New Hope:
#1 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 03:36 AM:

Or maybe the rockets are on their voyage home?

#2 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 04:29 AM:

I'm finding Mike Glyer"'s daily roundups essential reading. Some of it is like watching a trainwreck, but I can't help myself. It's like a compulsion.

#3 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 05:21 AM:

Does it make sense to start a "great things we read in 2015" discussion, so people can read things this year in time to nominate them next year? So far most of the cool stuff I've read has been from last year, or sometimes earlier, but having finally finished The Wheel Of Time, I'm caught up enough to read new work :-)

#4 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 05:40 AM:

I'm always interested to hear about great stuff people like despite my to-read pile getting ridiculously high.

Sidenote:
One of the things I've observed reading Puppy comments at File770 is that they are unwilling or unable to talk about SFF. There is no engagement to speak of when they are asked about why they liked stuff from the Puppies slates, or even any stuff in general (just to get a sense of the sort of stories they like). I mean, if I was a fan of something, you'd be hard pressed to keep me quiet about it. It's like they don't really like the works they are trying to champion. Very strange.

#5 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 06:41 AM:

Soon Lee @4:

I suspect that to a lot of the Puppies the only thing that matters is the Hugo.

At least, that's the impression I get from their utter lack of interest in discussing science fiction, not even the stories they claim to be championing.

The ignorance displayed about fandom, about science fiction, and about the Hugos themselves (how many Puppies have come into File 770 shocked that there is no definition of SFF in the Hugo rules?) betray an entirely different set of assumptions and goals.

I suspect that's why the Puppies seem to be floundering so much. Most of them seem unfamiliar with the culture they have been trying to usurp, and so have been blindsided by the overall community response.

#6 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 08:05 AM:

#3 ::: Bill Stewart

I would definitely like to see some great things we read threads, but I think things which will be eligible for the 2016 Hugos should be marked.

I'd also like to see a "should have at least been nominated" discussion. The only reason I found out about Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore (which I liked tremendously) was because someone mentioned it as should have at least been nominated.

#7 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 08:15 AM:

I'd certainly be glad to see some recommendations - I'm sure that I don't read nearly widely enough, these days, and that I've missed out on a lot of good short fiction (the novels manage to show up in my dim and myopic awareness eventually) as a result.

#8 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 08:17 AM:

because the previous Hugo thread has drifted A thread on ML, drifting? I'm shocked, shocked I say! ;-)

A thread for recommended reading so people can (a) more easily find good stuff to read; and (b) maybe be organised to nominate for next year sounds great.

#9 ::: rea ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 08:31 AM:

shocked that there is no definition of SFF in the Hugo rules?

As if a definition were possible . . .

#10 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 08:59 AM:

Let's let this thread settle in a bit, and I'll open a "what are you reading? What of that is Hugo-eligible? What do you think about it?" conversation in a couple of days.

I think "should have been nominated this year" can go here, though.

#11 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 09:23 AM:

I'm with Steve Wright @7 that I'd particularly like to see recs of shorter fiction. Novels for the most part tend to get on my radar, but not only do I not read much short fiction, I'm not even clear on what the promising venues are.

#12 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 09:34 AM:

Should The Mirror Empire have been nominated? I've heard good things, but it's still in TBR for me. What about Europe in Autumn? I first heard about it, I think, because of its Clarke nomination. My Real Children? This last, my local (Berlin) bookstore shelves outside of SF. On the other hand, David Miller and Michael Chabon are there, too, so why not?

As for shorter lengths, I am very much out of the loop.

#13 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 09:58 AM:

Lisa Goldstein reads the Hugo nominees, starting here on May 1.
http://theinferior4.livejournal.com/978471.html

#14 ::: thewildhare ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 10:04 AM:

First time posting here. After many hours reading posts and comments and blogs and stories about the 2015 Hugo's, and really wrangling with my own sick obsession with the drama, I find that my sentiments align with those of Alex R, posted here at #70. I am angry, and consequently find myself galvanized to engage. So that's a good thing. I want to thank everyone that has commented. I have learned from every post and link. Many of you have incredible finesse with words (and puns!) which I greatly enjoy. I am a long time SFF reader, but still find new works and new thinking stimulating. I appreciate you all.

#15 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 10:13 AM:

5
Or at least they're willing to pretend to ignorance - I don't know why, if they are, it's so important to them to have those unearned rockets. I would have thought they'd use teh Google to find out more, somewhere along the way.

#16 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 10:17 AM:

Welcome, thewildhare!

#17 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 10:20 AM:

Bienvenue, thewildhare!

#18 ::: Robert Z ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 10:31 AM:

Would What Makes This Book So Great have been eligible?

#19 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 10:35 AM:

Serge Broom @13 - I've been following those reviews myself; they are kinder than mine in some cases! I think I am getting old and jaded and vicious.

Regarding a definition of SF: Leroy Kettle famously came up with one (quoted in this Langford column here), and I think we could do no better than to adopt it formally.

#20 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 10:55 AM:

Robert Z.: Yes.

#21 ::: Steven desJardins ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 10:59 AM:

My Real Children definitely should have been nominated. It pushes the alternate history genre to a new level, using it to explore how we become who we are with a level of sensitivity and insight that's truly extraordinary. Thirty years ago, when the Sad Puppies are a footnote in fannish history, people will write "... and it wasn't even nominated for a Hugo!"

#22 ::: Andy H. ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 11:09 AM:

Speaking of Jo Walton, had I been nominating I would certainly have nominated her short story "Sleeper."

#23 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 11:10 AM:

On of the things I have noticed that I don't track (and maybe I should) is "publication year".

Otherwise, all my reading of published fiction is something I obsessively post about here (FSVO "obsessively" that means I occasionally forget, but do try to catch up; there's also monthly and annual summaries if you s/meme/month/ and s/meme/year/).

#24 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 11:20 AM:

abi @ 10: I'd really like to see 2 threads, if possible; a heavily moderated pure list, and a separate thread for conversation, so I can go back in 10 months and see what's still memorable without digging through thread drift (or utter irrelevancies such as I just committed). Is that possible? I can see the conspiracy theorists screaming, but I don't know whether we care.

#25 ::: Kevin Standlee ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 11:30 AM:

I don't think it terribly surprising that a group of people who resolutely hide behind having followed the letter of technical rules while subverting its spirit thinks that there is somehow a detailed technical definition of SF&F.

The comments I've ready from people trying to define SF&F amount to, "Of course I know what I consider SF&F, and I'm the Standard Human Being, so naturally I'm right, and anyone citing anything is doing so for nefarious purposes or is just misled."

The idea that we (in effect) define SF&F by taking the collective opinions of the electorate and saying, "That's SF&F" is maddening to people who are convinced that the gaming of rules systems is paramount.

Mind you, they might decide that if there's no definition, they could pick something that nearly everyone except them would clearly say, "that's not SF&F," as opposed to merely an edge case, and throw their slate-weight against it next year. This could lead an Administrator to have to put his/her foot down and do what Admins hate to do: make a subjective decision and say, "No, that's not SF&F, and I'm disqualifying it." It would have to be tremendously clear to anyone except a rules-gamer, though.

#26 ::: kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 11:30 AM:

The thing I find baffling about the discussions on File 770, is that the pro-puppy side doesn't really respond logically or substantially to the people who they are arguing with. Sort of a:
Non-puppy "hey, X"
Puppy: "really, Y"
Non-puppy: "but if Y, then Z?"
Puppy: "totally Y. And Q."
Non-puppy: "sure Q, that's interesting, but why this Q? And what about Z?"
Puppy: "Y!"

They speak as if they aren't really listening. Do they do this on their own forums, in their own "territory"?

I can't find it now, but there's a verfication tradition on some car forums, when people start talking about the awesome car that they "own". They are challenged to take a picture of the dashboard with a container of convenience store custard sitting on it. I wish there was a telltale that worked online that verified a person's willingness to talk instead of just lecture.*

*probably it's their willingness to do poetry, right?

#27 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 11:39 AM:

I am aware of some efforts to get Welcome to Night Vale nominated for a Dramatic Presentation Hugo. I'll be interested to see how close it came.

For those who are unfamiliar, Welcome to Night Vale is a community radio show broadcasting from a little desert town in the Twilight Zone. It's a great show, but the WTNV fandom is what really makes it special.

#28 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 11:50 AM:

Kimiko: yes, that's very typical conversation in the kind of right-wing ambience they favor. There's little to no sense of real reciprocity, either in a religious sense or a secular one - there's basically just the ongoing struggle to be the superior participant in an exchange, since there's not really such a thing as equality. Proving your superiority through sheer endurance is a fairly common tactic, since it's easy, and doesn't require being as rhetorically clever as someone like Beale.


(Earning brevet superiority through being the most devoutly loyal flunky is also a common tactic.)

#29 ::: Lisbet ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 12:28 PM:

#5: "Most of them seem unfamiliar with the culture they have been trying to usurp"

Not only are they unfamiliar with the culture, they don't seem to even realize that it is a culture. SFF Fandom is a functional, thriving subculture. I don't think the Sad Puppies realize that. They seem to think fandom is just a group of people who like the same thing. And to them words like "trufan" and "Fandom" are elitist and cliquish. Sad Puppies remind me of the stereotypical obnoxious tourist vocally dissing the country they are visiting and wondering why the natives are so annoyed.

Even though I have been reading SF off and on since childhood, I was never a part of Fandom. So I only became aware of the Sad Puppies in the last few weeks when I heard about them on NPR. Even then it didn't really register until I started looking for online writing critique workshops and found the Baen discussion boards. So my introduction to the issue was from the sad puppies themselves. And after reading blog posts by Torgerson and Correia, I decided to see what the other side was saying. And that is when I realized the Sad Puppies were full of BS.

I also came to the conclusion that this has little if anything to do with politics. Rather, it is about a group of average (I'm being generous) writers who are so in love with their own writing that the can't believe they aren't receiving award after award, so there must be some vast conspiracy against them.

This whole debacle is a really good object lesson for aspiring writers like myself. Its made me think deeply on not only what kind of work I want to produce (always working to improve my writing rather than being content with putting out serviceable prose) but also on what kind of writer I want to be. Humble enough to accept constructive criticism and gracious in the face of not so constructive criticism (not to mention smart enough not to publicly respond to it).

Sorry for the long post. I've been lurking on this site for a couple of weeks and finally decided I want to put in my two cents.


#30 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 12:43 PM:

Bruce @28

That thought mode feels uncomfortably familiar, here in the UK. We have just had an election and the winners, with a rather small fraction of the vote, are unfortunately similar to the Puppies in their response to criticism of their plans.

It wouldn't astonish me to see some left-wing extremists using the same patterns of argument, but it does seem to be a right-wing, sociopathic, lunacy.

#31 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 12:52 PM:

Lisbet @29:

Welcome to Making Light! Do you write poetry?

#32 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 01:00 PM:

Hi, Lisbet! And thewildhare! Welcome!

#33 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 01:15 PM:

Soon Lee@4
In order for the pro-puppies to talk about SF, two things need to be true
- They need to read the genre
- They need to show similar tastes.

For some people over at File770 I am sure that the first is untrue. The problem with the second one is a bit more complex. If they start talking books, it will show that they all like different books so the whole "we bloc vote" becomes even a bigger mess. The whole idea of the puppies seem to be that what is good can be defined by everyone as the same books - with an definition of the genre and everyone's agreement. You start talking books? Things go sideways on the plan.

Plus - it is easier to talk the already known talking points than trying to argue with people that are more knowledgeable than you on the topic.

Doug@12

I loved Europe in Autumn. It is not a conventional novel and I suspect that a lot of people will find the episodic first half off-putting but it added to it this old-style feeling that I had not seen for a while. Read it too late to nominate though - which seems to be my problem with lesser known authors - by the time I discover them, nominations time is over.

My Real Children is shelved outside SF a lot because on the surface of it, it is not SF for most non-genre readers. Yes - you have two parallel realities but both of them are pretty mundane (if different). It is one of the best examples of subtle SF but I can see how a non-genre reader will just decide it is not SF. It's one of the better novels from last year though (and I managed to forget to nominate it (totally forgot it is illegible). I did nominate one of my other favorites from last year - Nina Allen's The Race - which is even less conventional than Hutchinson's but I like is just as much.

kimiko@26
Well - if they can hang on to that Y all the way to the end of the conversation, I am usually surprised. Usually that last thing is"
Puppy:B

#34 ::: Laertes ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 01:48 PM:

abi @10: I'm eagerly awaiting the "what are you reading that's good" thread. I usually pick up books when they're a few years old, which has suited me fine until now. But since I'll be nominating 2016 Hugos, I'd like to make an effort to read more current stuff. I imagine that thread will be pretty useful.

#35 ::: john, who is incognito and definitely not at work ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 02:31 PM:

I would have nominated My Real Children for the 2015 Hugos if I'd had a membership at the time.

For next year, I'd say The Just City is definitely Hugo-worthy, as is Scott McCloud's The Sculptor.

#36 ::: Steve ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 02:34 PM:

Y'know, if you want to be charitable to the puppies (okay, maybe not so likely around here, but bear with me :) here's an alternative context for their slate voting. I read a lot of web comics, and every so often I see a request to go vote for the comic for some award. I've seen a number of awards which seem to be driven by ad revenue, with rules like 'one vote per IP address per day' and no expectation of reading, or even being aware of other entries. If you're accustomed to contests like that and someone you trust asks you to vote for a slate maybe you don't pay that much attention to the instructions.

On the other hand, while we've seen nominees come forward to repudiate the slate, we haven't seen any voters do so. I'm probably just too optimistic about human nature.

#37 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 02:42 PM:

I'm all in favor of being charitable to ordinary puppies, and I suspect pretty much everyone here is.

There's a problem with the leaders of the puppy packs, who don't seem to be playing in good faith, and there are certain other puppies who seem to be less interested in SF&F and more in culture wars.

But your standard SF&F-reader who hasn't stumbled on fandom before, got sold a line, and did what they did for love? Come here, friends, and tell us what you like reading and why. Maybe we know some books you don't; maybe you can hear what we like and make some recommendations.

We don't even have to agree about them.

#38 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 03:02 PM:

Steve #36:

I thought similar too. A number of the Puppy leadership have organised "book bombs" where they get their readers to all purchase a specific book on Amazon at the same time to create a spike in its Amazon ranking (albeit briefly). So dedicated fans shelling out a few dollars at the behest of a favourite writer can become a habit.

But $40 for a Worldcon Supporting Membership is a few times more than an Amazon ebook, so if I were asked, I'd like to think I would pay a bit more attention to what I was supporting.

On Preview, I remembered that the Voting Packet has been promoted as part of the package, (paraphrasing) "Not only do you get to have your say but you get more than $40 worth of goodies too!" Given that, it would not surprise me if that's what some people did: vote the slate without reading the works first.

#39 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 03:09 PM:

Lisbet@ 29: I agree, but I think there is a real problem here.

There are issues that sometimes come up in philosophy and linguistics because two groups of people are using a word in different ways, and their uses overlap enough that the difference isn't immediately obvious, and yet may diverge in crucial cases. There was once a really fierce debate about whether the Ptolemaic theory in astronomy was a mistake, with one side saying 'Of course it is, how can you think otherwise?' and the other side saying 'Of course it isn't, how can you possibly suppose it is?'. This debate looked utterly weird to me until I realised they didn't really differ about the Ptolemaic theory at all; they were just using 'mistake' differently, one side to mean 'false belief' and the other to mean something like 'misapplication of a method'. And - this is the crucial thing - it simply did not occur to either side that it could mean anything different from what they meant by it.

I think it's becoming clear that one of those words is 'fan'. To some people it just means 'enthusiast'; to others it means 'member of an organised fannish community'. (There may be further differences about what community; but in any case, for those who use it this way just reading and enjoying something does not make you a fan.) Fandom people, in telling people from outside their community that they are not fans, are not insulting them; they are just stating a fact. For them that is just what the word means. But others, for whom the word means 'enthusiast', hear this as 'you are not a real enthusiast', and are naturally upset by this.

Then, when people say that the great thing about the Hugos is that all fans can take part, they naturally think this means them, and become puzzled by the idea that it doesn't, and wonder why, in order to take part in an award which involves all fans, they have to make a contribution to a weird event called a 'convention'. They are puzzled by the idea that they have to join a community; have they not belonged to the community of fans since they were seven, and first read an SF book and liked it? To them, it sounds as if WorldCon people are claiming to speak on behalf of all fans (enthusiasts), which seems unreasonable.

I think things might have worked out better if members of organised fandom had, from the beginning, had another name for themselves; say 'pidgewodges'. Since this would have no meaning other than 'member of the fannish community', no one would be insulted by the idea that they were not a pidgewodge; and if we were told that the Hugos are pidgewodgedom awards, open to all pidgewodges to take part (and of course anyone can become a pidgewodge) this would not create any false impressions.

#40 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 03:15 PM:

Soon Lee@4: There was a lot of debate a while ago about the propriety of campaigning in the Hugos, but it stuck me that this is in a way irrelevant to the present case, because the Puppies aren't really campaigning. Campaigning for a work to win an award involves saying how great it is and giving reasons why, and it has to start early enough for a lot of people to read and appreciate the work before the deadline. Whereas the Puppies just said 'Look, here's a list. Vote for it!'.

#41 ::: Mercy ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 03:20 PM:

I haven't been able to read Mirror Empire yet because my husband has been reading it (he doesn't have a lot of time to read and English isn't his first language, so it's slower --but I make a promise when I buy him books for his birthday that I'll wait until he's done to read them myself) and loving it enough that he had intended to nominate it this year. And it was tentatively on my list based on his reading parts of it to me and trusting his opinion. Sadly, we missed the nominating deadline. :( I can't remember what else I had been thinking about putting on the list, now.

I still need to read more new short fiction. I didn't read the two short stories by Ruthanna Emrys until they were mentioned on one of these threads, but I really liked them both, and I think they were eligible this year?

I'm making a concerted effort this year to read new things and keep track of ones I like, so I'll be contributing to the thread about eligible items for sure. I already have The Just City and Sword on my list. Barring reading five other books that just massively blow past them on my list, of course. The next book on my TBR list atm is Forgotten Suns, which jumped several places based on the sample of the ebook.

#42 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 03:36 PM:

CHip @24:

I'm really not in the mood for the amount of drama that a curated list of recommendations would bring. Really not.

What I would suggest, when I start the thread, is that the first time a work is mentioned that is Hugo-eligible, the poster includes a set hashtag. That way, anyone wanting to review the thread for recommendations can do a find on the hashtag. I'll even be willing to remove or alter the hashtag from duplicate listings of the same work, so that every new instance of the hashtag corresponds to a new work. I will not, however, add it to anything.

(Other suggestions welcome.)

But forgive me if I decline either the work or the hullaballoo surrounding curating such a list. I don't see that the good outweighs the nuisance.

#43 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 03:42 PM:

Andrew M (40) No, that's not quite it. They have a real Us vs Them thing going. They said, "Here's a list. Vote for it. *Because* it will piss off the LIBRULS."

It's good of Abi to invite them in to talk with us about what books they like. But they don't really talk to LIBRULS. At, maybe, but not with.

#44 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 03:46 PM:

I should add: We used to know a guy like this. He hung out with our son, because they shared some interests (RPGs mostly). We talked to him the same way we talked to all the other kids, and he talked to us like, well, like a Puppy.

Years passed, he went away to college, he acquired a job and a family, and one day he came through town and stopped to visit us. "You'll be surprised," he said. "I've become a liberal." And he had. So it's worth it to try to talk with them, even if it can be very ... trying.

#45 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 03:47 PM:

Annie Y @33: Thank you!

I would not have picked up Europe in Autumn if I hadn't read about it, but the descriptions made it sound as if it had been written Just For Me. Along those lines, I am counting the days until the release of Radiant State, the third Wolfhound Century book. As I wrote over at the blog, "Sometimes it’s nice to be squarely in the middle of the target audience. Although I am not sure whether anyone would have said ex ante that the audience for a police procedural set in an alternate history Russia with fantasy and science fiction elements was much more than just me."

If Radiant State lives up to its promise, it'll be a contender for a 2015 nomination from me. Although the characteristics above, plus third-in-a-series, mean the book will have an uphill climb. I'm looking forward to two other end-of-series books this year: Of Good Family, which has been published but has not yet arrived Over Here, and Ancillary Mercy, of course.

Reading books from 2015 is going to bump up against the personal project of tackling some of SF's longer-running series that I had unaccountably missed this century. Plus I just today received a box of books including some deliciously geeky history and politics, to say nothing of Czeslaw Milosz. More good reading. Drat.

#46 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 04:42 PM:

john who we all agree is definitely not at work @35

Thanks for mentioning _The Just City_; I had been meaning to get that, and I appreciate the reminder.

Has anyone besides me read _The Pyramids Of London_ by Andrea Host? (Two dots over the o; I can't be arsed to figure out how to make that with this keyboard) A thumbnail description would be "*very* alternate history, set in a Britian strongly influenced by the World Powers: Egypt and Rome, roughly Victorian tech level with functional gods. Lots of women characters with plenty of agency."

I really enjoyed it.

#47 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 04:55 PM:

Many people are mentioning many works that they've read and loved; WONDERFUL. Not so wonderful is that most of them aren't including author's names... <wry> While googling on titles is usually enough, in the past I've run into cases of multiple books with the same (or similar) title.

So may I please make a request that people squeeing over books (and, please, keep squeeing! My too-be-read list is growing, and I love it) give at least the author's last name?

#48 ::: kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 05:06 PM:

Andrew M, 39,

Honestly, I've never understood what "fan" signifies in this context.

I, too, would have thought that loving SF/F and reading it would be enough, but I peacefully accepted that this is not the definition that you-plural use. In fact, I've accepted that the definition differed from mine, since the time I first came across Making Light about ten years ago.

My adult understanding of "fandom" is informed by the use of the signifier "fan" and "fandom" as it was used in livejournal of long ago, which clearly doesn't contain an identical meaning as what this community and our beloved hosts and moderators use. Currently I think of those words in the context of anime conventions and tumblr & twitter.

#49 ::: Laertes ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 05:20 PM:

I didn't understand what a capital-F fan was either, until I read ONE little article over at GRRM. Now I get it, and it's not a bit confusing. I'm a fan, but not a part of Fandom, and I'm doing my tiny little bit, as best I can figure out how, to help defend Fandom from this puppy horde. I won't be joining it--conventions really just aren't my scene--but I love what they're doing and I'm happy to do just my little bit to pitch in.

And unlike the puppies I'm not gonna get all butthurt about the existence of a club that I'd be perfectly welcome to join but don't want to.

#50 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 05:25 PM:

There's a tab I've been keeping open since this whole brouhaha started, Hugo Nominees 2015 - anyone can add works to the Wikia as they find them, and then by the end of 2015 there should be a great big list of all sorts of things eligible to be nominated for the awards in 2016.

It's not so much a discussion zone, but it does create that list that some have been looking for.


I have a hard time with what "fan" does and doesn't mean. I self-identify as having been a fan all my reading life, and I've been vocal online about SFF since, well, Usenet, but that I only started going to conventions in 2002 and so didn't become a part of the con-going community until then.

But at the same time I can point to some people's online behavior and say, "They don't act like fans." For instance: A few of the Puppy-supporting nyms posting at File770 bridle when asked to talk about the SFF that they love. I've been watching several cycles of this iterate over the past week:

Fan: You know, I'm sick of all this SJW this and Puppy that. Let's just talk about the works. Why are your favorite works, Puppy-supporter, and why?

Puppy-supporter: Clearly you all hate me.

Fan: Bwuh? No, seriously, let's talk about books we love.

Puppy-supporter: I talked about books plenty. I already went and culled a bunch of Amazon reviews to show that past Hugo nominees suck, and I demonstrated with real numbers that Skin Game is really popular and if it finishes below No Award that will be because SJWS ALWAYS LIE. I did what you asked me to and now you're shifting the goal posts!

Fan: ...I think maybe you missed the point? We're all over here having fun talking about the things we've read and what we liked and didn't like about them. Who are your favorite authors?

Puppy-supporter: [lists a bunch of authors' names] So there.

Fan: OK, so, that's a list of authors' names. Good, I think? Now, er, maybe let's talk about one of their books? You listed Neil Gaiman. What did you think about Ocean At the End of the Lane?

Puppy-supporter: LOOK I DID WHAT YOU ASKED FOR YOU ARE LYING IF YOU SAY I DIDN'T.


...It's like the Puppy-supporter-type is viewing books one has read as a sort of tribal shibboleth, "I've read X therefore I'm just as good a fan as you," whereas the fans just want to geek out about the books, "This is cool! Let me tell you about the cool thing!"

So, yeah, it's hard to know to describe someone as a "fan" of any definition when they appear to view Cool Book Discussions as an unfair burden rather than a joy to partake in.

#51 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 05:44 PM:

Doug@45

I have the first of the Wolfhound Century books waiting for me to get around to it - it is one of those books I know is right up my alley so it kinda keep getting shuffled back for a time when I need a palate cleanser. I probably should get around to it :)

If you want some more thoughts on Europe in Autumn, here is my review - as non-spoilery as possible. I see that you are in Germany - and this book is very European (which may be a problem for a lot of people) :)

#52 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 05:44 PM:

My Real Children is in my opinion brilliant, and certainly not realistic fiction (hence must be SF or fantasy). It's one of those books, for me, that is nothing like what I like, but is what it is so well that I like it a lot anyway. So, yeah, I would have been unsurprised and entirely pleased to see it show up as a Hugo nominee.

#53 ::: David Dyer-Bennet ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 05:46 PM:

Kevin Standlee@25: The comments I've ready from people trying to define SF&F amount to, "Of course I know what I consider SF&F, and I'm the Standard Human Being, so naturally I'm right, and anyone citing anything is doing so for nefarious purposes or is just misled."

Such people need to be told (rather firmly) "You, sir, are no Damon Knight!"

(Did I really get that in before anybody else managed? Yikes.)

#54 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 05:47 PM:

Laertes @49:
I'm a fan, but not a part of Fandom[...] I won't be joining it--conventions really just aren't my scene--but I love what they're doing and I'm happy to do just my little bit to pitch in.

If you ask three fans what the boundaries of fandom are, you'll get five answers, two anecdotes, an argument, and (if you're lucky) a citation of Delany's thing about edge cases as a finisher. Otherwise, invite everyone to sit down, preferably where there will be food. You're going to be a while.

I'm not much of a part of congoing fandom, mostly because of location and logistics, but I'd still say I'm part of fandom as a thing. There are more ways of being part of it than going to cons (IMHO). It's mostly about loving the stuff and loving the culture that has grown around loving the stuff.

I've enjoyed your contributions here on Making Light, and I see you elseweb talking intelligently and enthusiastically about what I'd consider to be fannish things. As far as I'm concerned, the only thing that would make you Not Part Of What I See As Fandom would be the desire on your part not to be part of Fandom. In which case, you're not. But otherwise, you are.

#55 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 05:48 PM:

Andrew M #39:
I want to say, "Yes but".

Disclaimer: I think of myself more as a fan (small 'f') because while I read a lot of SFF, I've only been to a handful of cons, whereas Fans (big 'F') are peopls for whom cons & other fannish activities are a more significant part of their lives. That said, I do participate more in online fannish discussions, so maybe I'm an e-Fan?

The distinction between Fan/fan or fan/fandom, though blurry, is not really not hard to discover. I made those discoveries myself thanks to the Internet & search engines. But even before, forewords to anthologies that might make mention of certain fans & cons were pretty big clues.

If I was in a discussion & people appear to be talking past each other, I would like to know what the disconnect was in order to fix it. And I'd like to think that if I were entering a new discussion, that I would take the trouble to get informed (and with the internet, it's really not hard to do) as a courtesy before wading in. It feels to me that a number of the pro-Puppy commenters have not bothered to do their research*.

*Like the one who thought Neil Gaiman declined a Hugo nomination because the work wasn't proper Science Fiction.

#56 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 05:51 PM:

50
I think your link needs to be fixed - it has the ML address on the front end.

#57 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 05:54 PM:

The ohnotypo: the typo one spots just on clicking the POST button. Derived from the ohnosecond.

"...whereas Fans (big 'F') are people for whom cons & other fannish activities are a more significant part of their lives."

#58 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Gardener of Threads ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 06:00 PM:

I have fixed the link in Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little @50. Alas, I can do nothing for the one from Annie Y @51; the software has eaten the URL entirely.

Repost, Annie?

#59 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 06:05 PM:

>58

Oops. Sorry.
Let's try this:
Europe in Autumn review

Note to self: " is important in the href.

#60 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 06:10 PM:

All: I certainly wouldn't want to suggest that 'fan' in the fandom sense has a definite and precise meaning; it is just that whatever it means, it implies membership of an interacting community, and so means more than just someone who reads and likes the stuff.

kimiko@48: On LJ, I think, it also implied membership of an active community, but not the same community (though it overlaps). I know that when I had just about worked out the difference between the plain English sense and the traditional SFF sense, I discovered LJ fandom and got confused again, with claims like 'fandom consists mainly of women' and 'in fandom anonymity is very important', which did not fit what I took fandom to be.

#61 ::: Estee ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 06:12 PM:

Something I've been wondering about: what, exactly, are those boring, preachy books that Torgersen and other Pupppies have complained so much about? Does anyone here understand what they are actually talking about when they complain of Hugo-winning books that are really just political polemics thinly disguised as entertainment?

The only major writer I can think of who might conceivably be described that way is Sherri Tepper, whose preachy tone I myself often find irritating even though I agree with most of her political positions and devour her books eagerly for their many virtues. But as far as I can tell she was only nominated once, a quarter-century ago, and never won; and in any case, she hasn't been much discussed lately. So her books are probably not what they are thinking of.

But in that case, what are all these problematic books?

#62 ::: Laertes ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 06:18 PM:

Estee @61: They think Ancillary Justice was "message fic" because it presented Ideas about gender. You're allowed to write about superhuman AIs and how they might have different priorities than 20th century humans, but if along the way you start to wonder about what gender might mean to a machine intelligence, puppies are going to feel preached at.

#63 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 06:24 PM:

In my book - fandom consists of anyone who is involved with the fan aspect of the genre -- being it by writing reviews, having a blog, going to conventions, hanging around SF(and related) blogs, working on popularizing the genre or anything in between. Anyone participates as much as they can and want. This may not sit very well with some of the more active parts of the fandom but... :)

Just reading makes you a fan. I'd say that these people are also fandom - although the silent part of it. Any of them can get into the active part by participating in something (vote for Hugos?- good enough; post online - also good enough).

Now - we all know that there is a more visible group inside the fandom that contains the people that are very visible and extremely involved. And we all are thankful for their work. But in the current argument - their vote counts as much as the one of the person that just sent their first Hugo ballot. Which is what the puppies cannot seem to understand - or appreciate. Or accept - whatever their case is today.

Anyone is free to disagree of course :) As should be obvious, I am from the "let's welcome everyone" camp. Even though certain elements are getting on my last nerve and testing that stance of mine... :)

#64 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 06:26 PM:

Although being a fan in the trufan sense is defined mainly by involvement in fanac (fan activity) there have been wars over whether this is restricted to traditional activities (cons, print fanzines) or extends to participation in online fora. (A variant of this war was fought in the early 'oughts over whether an online site with no print version counted as a fanzine: see the 2004 Hugo that went to Emerald City.) So for some people participation in sites like Making Light, or mailing lists, or the old r.a.sf.* Usenet fora qualifies one as a fan, and for some people it doesn't.

#65 ::: Robert Z ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 06:29 PM:

Nicole @ 50: Yes, exactly this! Given how obsessed they seem to be with polarities and antagonisms, I'm not surprised that they're constantly on guard for the next tricksy SJW to trip them up with some sneaky, sneaky question.

If you expect to be cheated, you'll see cheaters everywhere. Then it may dawn on you that you're surrounded. And then you might start to panic.

The Puppies seem to be on a Very Bad Paranoia Trip.

#66 ::: Ken Josenhans ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 06:29 PM:

To people who wonder about the term "fan", and if they count as one:

I've argued for some time that the arrival of the Internet demonstrated that "fannishness" was much more widespread than previously believed. What was in short supply was not fannishness, but the willingness to wrangle with mimeographs and other antique (but appropriate!) publishing technologies.

Blogs and forums like ML, and swaths of LiveJournal, and even Mr. Correia's blog (I was just reading some comments over there) are the modern equivalents to the old APAs which held my version of fandom together in the 1970s and 1980s. So, everyone commenting here is probably an apahack, at least!!

In my version of fandom, the communication was much more important than the con-going. I didn't really have the ability to go to conventions for my first four years in fandom -- well, except for the Worldcon in my backyard, where I went strictly as a daytripper to see the Big Name Pros.

The converse of "fan," in my world, was "just reads the stuff." Are you doing anything active with your interest in SF, or are you just enjoying the stories and letting your involvement stop with the purchase or the reading?

#67 ::: Tatterbots ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 06:31 PM:

One meaning of "fan" is a description, short for "fan of X" where X is discernible from context. It needn't have anything to do with SF/F.

"And I've often wondered, where did it all start?
Who found out that nothing can capture a heart
Like a melody can?
Well whoever it was, I'm a fan."

The other is a label - practically a name - adopted by members of a tribe.

They're not even the same kind of noun. I'm not sure whether this ought to make it more confusing or less.

#68 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 06:32 PM:

Estee@61

Well - you hit the nail on the head. They complain about books that are preachy but for the last month or so, we are still to hear which books exactly they are complaining about (or what books should have been nominated instead). The length some of the pro-puppies will take not to answer either of those questions is almost laughable. It gets down to "there are such books, trust us" argument and when you press you either hate them or they claim that their personal opinion does not matter or they go for Amazon reviews or simply change topics.

I'd love it if one pro-puppy poster ANYWHERE comes out and point out those bad books from years past and discuss what they liked in those years (and not run when a title is mentioned and someone that had read it show up and start talking real details).

I agree with abi (and a few more people) that a lot of the puppies probably voted because of misunderstanding of the genre; but a lot, especially on the RP side, don't even care about the genre or the community - it is a war against whatever monster is up today...

PS: Apparently I am in rant mode today and just cannot post short messages. Sorry :)

#69 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 06:39 PM:

The problem* is that the definition of "fan", like the definition of "science fiction", "fantasy", and "literature", is not universal or shared across the entire community. This is not, in point of fact, the product of the tricksiness of the tricksy SJW's; it's just the natural result of a community that grew, unplanned, across the boundaries of ever-changing technology.

It's my perception that there's a degree to which the Hugos (as an institution) share that emergent quality, though the community has ossified various conventions into rules as the need has arisen. But I could be wrong, in which case I am sure Kevin Standlee will be along to clarify†.

-----
* and it is a problem for people of a certain mindset, who like things neat, clean, black, white, male, female, right, wrong, left, right
† this is totally not a dig at Kevin, who has been invaluable as a source of information, expertise, and experience throughout this whole process.

#70 ::: ULTRAGOTHA ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 06:39 PM:

This year I nominated
Ancillary Sword by Leckie
My Real Children by Walton
Zero Sum Game by Huang
Daughter of Mystery by Jones
The Goblin Emperor by Addison

#71 ::: Russell Letson ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 06:40 PM:

A longtime observer-of/participant-in (and even /scholar-of) the field might point out that capitalizing Fan/Fandom is not a universal or historically uniform practice, nor has it been (in my experience) a way of distinguishing SF fandom from other fandoms. Attaching modifiers and descriptors of various kinds, however, has a long history: con/convention, tru-, fanzine, sercon, faanish, and so on. (My list indicates my age and the sell-by date of my lexicon.)

Fandom always sprawled--or perhaps it is better to say that readers of SF formed intersecting and overlapping affinity groups, and that these groups always constituted a fraction of the total readership. Many participants in the larger web-wide conversation seem unfamiliar with this historical/sociological situation.

#72 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 06:40 PM:

I think probably the epitome of the kind of "thinking" going on there is that one post where Brad Torgersen characterized Star Trek as non-message fiction.

(Also, I just realized I've seen them complain about fandom dynamics multiple times by likening them to 1984... Strange way to honor fiction they purportedly hate, though it's admittedly a standard political trope.)

Perhaps, to that mindset, familiar enough messages are invisible - the same kind of lack of self-awareness that makes white and male and cis and straight protagonists look simply normal, while any deviation from that standard has to be justified with a reason.

#73 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 06:43 PM:

(Was mainly responding to #61 and 62 with my comment above; the thread moved rather suddenly.)

#74 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 06:57 PM:

"Pidgewodge" is a cute term, but I'll continue saying "actifan". And I mean more or less what Annie Y, James, and Ken Josenhans said—participation in the community, not necessarily attending conventions but communicating in some way (like Ken and I did back in the mimeograph days, and I'm trying to recall the title of his fanzine last seen several decades ago).

#75 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 07:05 PM:

Books that the puppies don't like?

Well, obviously The Three-Body Problem, with those furrin names where you can't tell who is a man and who is a woman without referring to the cheat sheet, is preaching some kind of gender message. And it's set in Red China instead of ’Murica!

The Goblin Emperor has more problems with gender-opaque names (until you figure out some of the patterns), and the protag is a person of color for no reason essential to the plot. (Although I expect it will come to matter in book two.)

(Tongue partly in cheek.)

#76 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 07:18 PM:

I've seen Stross's work described as excessively preachy in a British left-wing way. In Mira Grant's Feed, supposedly the narrator takes a break from the story to rant about the evils of guns (not being a fan of zombie novels, I have not and will not read Feed). Julian Comstock was apparently quite preachy, but I gave up on it for other reasons and never got to the parts that annoy the Puppies. The Windup Girl pisses off Puppies because of its general grim outlook on the future -- they prefer books where humans are basically decent and technology makes things better. Also, global warming. Little Brother was an overly, deliberately political book (though I think it won the Prometheus...?)

And then you get books like Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, Among Others, and Throne of the Crescent Moon that look political to anyone who can't imagine any other reason for setting a fantasy novel outside Tolkien's pseudo-England.

#77 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 07:22 PM:

I'm pretty sure the Windup Girl also pisses off Puppies because you spend an awful lot of time in the heads of disprivileged people (often also women and nonwhite) seeing what the world looks like from the bottom of the heap.

#78 ::: Edmund Schweppe ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 07:25 PM:

As for squeeing about really good books that came out this year, I offer Elizabeth Bear's Karen Memory for your consideration. Steampunk, not!Seattle, the real Lone Ranger and diesel-powered sewing machines - plus the wonderful voice of the titular character herself - just fantastic.

#79 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 07:28 PM:

Ultragotha, 70: I don't know anything about Zero Sum Game. What's your favorite thing about it? (I should add that "favorite thing" can include "EVERYTHING JUST GO READ IT NOW.")

Allan Beatty, 75: Unfortunately, AFAIK, there are no plans for anything else in that universe. :-(

#80 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 07:33 PM:

"The Windup Girl" pisses off a different set of readers because the titular character is a gene-modified sex slave & some of the setting & characters (mis)appropriates from Thai & Malaysian culture.

And yet, it somehow won a Hugo.

(There were problematic things about it but the grimdark future it portrayed was compelling though not a place I want to visit for real. I gave it the top spot in my Hugo vote.)

#81 ::: Alex G ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 07:34 PM:

I'd think it'd be pretty hard to come up with objections to The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, on political grounds, that don't also function as objections to The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

#82 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 07:38 PM:

@77 Prove it or stop trying to explain things to women.

#83 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 07:46 PM:

Edmund Schweppe@78

Seconded. Haven't had so much fun with a book for a very long time. :)

#84 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 07:48 PM:

82
Elliott is not someone you should say that to.

#85 ::: Edmund Schweppe ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 07:54 PM:

One thing that's surprised me about the Puppy-approved short fiction. So far, I've gone through most of the short story and novelette entries, and two of the Rabid Puppy nominees involve assisted suicides (Gbgnyrq naq Nfurf gb Nfurf, ROT-13d to prevent spoilage). John C. Wright is notorious for regretting not punching Terry Pratchett at an event where Sir Terry spoke approvingly about assisted suicide:

I sat and listened to pure evil being uttered in charming accents accentuated by droll witticism, and I did not stand up, and I did not strike the old man who uttered them across the mouth: and when he departed, everyone stood and gave him an ovation, even though he had done nothing in his life aside from entertain their idle afternoons. Only I did not stand, being too sick at heart. I did nothing, I said nothing.
http://www.scifiwright.com/2011/10/the-watchtowers-of-atlantis-tremble/comment-page-1/#comment-66957

I find myself wondering whether Wright read any of his fellow nominees.

#86 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 07:54 PM:

@84 Why's that?

#87 ::: Laertes ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 07:55 PM:

#82 doesn't seem to naturally follow from #77. Was there maybe a misreading there?

#88 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 07:55 PM:

:: notes the link in #50 ::
:: clicks it ::
:: follows various other links ::
:: finds himself reading a fun story about Sun Wukong fighting Titania ::
:: smiles ::

Thank you, Nicole! This is the sort of resource I'm looking for.

#89 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 07:59 PM:

86
Read the previous thread (Hugos III) all the way through the gender discussion.

#90 ::: Laertes ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 08:01 PM:

@86 I just don't see the mansplaining in #77. Is it possible you've read something a little carelessly and mistaken a friend for an enemy.

#91 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 08:09 PM:

@89 Please be more explicit. As I pointed out in an earlier discussion, I am not fast.

#92 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 08:18 PM:

I said "I'm not a fan" for quite a long time, until I realized I was saying it at a Star Trek convention that I was at as part of a contingent from a Star Trek club. Then I admitted I was a fan.

#93 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 08:21 PM:

Sarah @82 said: @77 Prove it or stop trying to explain things to women.

Just for context, I'm going to quote the entirety of my comment @77, to save people scrolling around:

I'm pretty sure the Windup Girl also pisses off Puppies because you spend an awful lot of time in the heads of disprivileged people (often also women and nonwhite) seeing what the world looks like from the bottom of the heap.

I'm kind of curious, Sarah, what in there I need to prove (the viewpoints character of the book include more than one nonwhite person and at least one woman, and most of the viewpoint characters are living at the bottom of a power dynamic in their society; this much is clear from the blurb on the back of the book).

I'm also curious what I said that made you think I was "explain(ing) things to women", since that's utterly orthogonal to anything I said, so far as I can tell.

I'm happy to apologize and learn to communicate more clearly if you can help with some pointing at the part that was a problem.

#94 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 08:22 PM:

91
Okay: go back to that thread, and read Elliott's comments.

#95 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 08:22 PM:

I've always thought of myself as a fan - just a fan whose only contribution to fandom is sitting around reading books and articles and watching TV. But still a fan.

"They also serve who only stand and wait", and all that....

#96 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 08:25 PM:

I was pissed at "The Calorie Man" which I believe was set in the same world as The Windup Girl because it makes no sense to have a world powered by human muscle-- some 85% of what people eat is wasted as heat.

Did enough tech remain to use solar power and/or the energy stored in food more sensibly?

#97 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 08:27 PM:

Steve Wright@95: Don't forget "... and send money to the authors."

#98 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 08:33 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz@96
"Yellow Card Man" is the one that is in the same universe; "The Calorie Man" is unrelated to any of his novels (unless if I missed something) - even if both are talking for ecological disasters and multi-billion corporations.

I kinda like the first a lot more - The Calorie Man got a bit too dark and stereotypical at some point.

#99 ::: Lady Kay ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 08:42 PM:

Sarah, you can also use the (view all by) next to the name of a commenter and see their posts in recent-first order. That might save you quite a bit of time.

But, irrespective of who said @77, it doesn't read like mansplaining to me?

#100 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 09:20 PM:

It's funny - when I really think about it, I read several nom-worthy published-in-2014 novels during 2014, and yet if you'd asked me prior to The Kerfuffle, I think I would have said "Gee, I can't think of any eligible novels other than The Goblin Emperor" which I've been raving about to everybody ever since I got it. But beyond that, I completely loved My Real Children and have had some great discussions about it, so I don't know why I didn't think of that; I also greatly enjoyed Station Eleven which I read more recently and have been raving about that too; and thinking back, I had pre-ordered Brust's Hawk and devoured it, and loved that as usual for a new Vlad book, though I'm not sure I would rate that as a Hugo due in part to the usual series novel questions.

Yet somehow I wasn't thinking of any of those in context of a Hugo nomination, and I don't know why. Maybe it's my medium-term memory being stretched these days?

So any way, my own short should-have-been-nominated list for 2014 novels would include at least:
The Goblin Emperor, Katharine Addison
My Real Children, Jo Walton
Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel
and maybe Hawk, Stephen Brust

Novellas/novelettes (I'm vague on the lengths involved right now) on the absolute should-have-been-nominated list:
'Legacy of Earth', Ruthanna Emrys (again, I've been going around telling people how great this is, yet wouldn't have thought to name it.)
'The Devil In America', Kai Ashante Wilson (very dark but brilliant)
...
and I can't think what else right now - more of the same problem?

#101 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 09:27 PM:

@93 Prove that the nature of the viewpoint characters is what pisses off the Puppies. And please do explain why you think you're better equipped to understand their thinking than I am.

#102 ::: Andrew ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 09:28 PM:

In addition to the other books mentioned, Gould's "Exo," and Stross' "Neptune's Brood" were noteworthy. I nominated those two and the Walton (I hadn't read 3-Body or the others by the time of the nomination deadline).

#103 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 09:41 PM:

Sarah @101: I posited that hypothesis because my dad spouts very similar complaints about Science Fiction These Days as the more widely-published puppies, and one of the things that correlates most strongly with "a book Dad is going to say is utter liberal bullshit" is "the viewpoint sits in the head of someone too different from me".

He doesn't articulate it that way, but I've been feeding him recommendations to see what he says for a while, and it's almost a 1:1 relationship between queer, female, brown, and/or poor viewpoint characters and him vehemently rejecting the book within the first chapter and refusing to even try any more of it.

I'm generalizing from a thorough dataset on one individual to other individuals that seem quite congruent with him, to me, in what they say they like (Heinlein, "real SF", physics, "hard science," economic conservatism, social conservatism).

No, I can't "prove" it -- because I can't pin down and interrogate puppy supporters in person (and wouldn't really want to, anyway; seems rude), and be certain they're telling the truth. They may not even recognize their own motives. Certainly in my Dad's case he claims to be incredibly supportive of nonwhite people (the ones who work hard and deserve good treatment) and the poor (the ones who work hard and deserve good treatment), but in every case where a piece of fiction shows what the world looks like from their point of view he has a violently-negative reaction to it, and then says it had bad science or some of the other explicit "reasons" he gives for hating books.

#104 ::: thewildhare ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 09:41 PM:

Wading in to the fan/fandom discussion. I don't understand the meaning of "truefan," that I have seen used in some posts and puppy comments. I want to understand, just can't seem to get clarity from the context. Maybe Mr. Google can help....

SF/F had been my favorite genre for more than 35 years, though I only started attending conventions in the last three. I regularly devour books and stories, but have a hard time keeping up with the speed of discussions on the Internet and in social media. I do consider myself a fan of SFF though. In this, I agree with Steve Wright @95.

Also, Edmund @78, I am with you there. Very much enjoyed Karen Memory! Fun!

#105 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 09:42 PM:

Also, Sarah: I never once said that my view of the Puppies is superior or more correct than yours.

I think what we're all trying to do here in this thread is talk over the situation and exercise our empathy, to work out how to understand their views better and how to communicate well with them.

In no instance am I attempting to "win", or to shut down other people's discussions of the same things I am discussing.

#106 ::: thewildhate ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 09:42 PM:

Oh, and thank you all very much for the warm welcome to the conversation!

#107 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 09:43 PM:

I've found it enlightening that, when actually questioned on examples of the Wrong Books that won Hugos, your average puppy has no answer.

Because from what I can tell prior to being told about the "conspiracy" your average puppy voter didn't know who won Hugos and who lost them. The most of them came from VD and Gamergate. I think voting trends bear this out. The sad puppies last year managed to get one work onto the slate, and it lost. This year Larry Corrie invited VD in because he knew Gamergate and Briebart media would boost his cause, which (he's quite clear on this point) was upsetting a bunch of "SJW" types. He's on record as being happy about it.

So you have a bunch of 8Chan types trying to start flame wars because they get attention who scrape up $40 to start a bigger flame war, and a few people who like Sarah Hoyt and Brad Torgersen, but (I'm willing to bet a dollar) mostly never paid attention to the Hugos before.

So, when confronted with a question about which books don't satisfy what the Puppy Masters decide are not worthy, they just go quiet and attack some other part of the thread,

I think we need to stop dissecting the ethics of issue and actually get to dissecting what the other side says, because i swear it's like talking to a Lost Causer who says states rights all the time but can't actually think when confronted with the word "Slavery" appearing in all of the articles of secession.

I don't think it'll change minds, but if all puppies have to reply to is questions they can't answer, they'll shut up real quick.

#108 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 09:48 PM:

Sarah @102: And what on earth does that have to do with Elliott's gender? Mind you, I think the "pretty sure" (as a stand-in for "I think" or "I believe") makes @77 into a statement of opinion, and not one that needs a great deal of unpacking, at that; it seems to me that it has a certain amount of logic behind it, given the Puppies repeated comments about "books being given awards by SJWs due to their Message rather than their Quality." Social justice frequently has some relationship to discussions of privilege and disprivilege, which would seem to make the statement a valid opinion. Of course, the fact that it is a statement of opinion acknowledges that the Puppies could very well have had other reasons for disliking The Wind-Up Girl, so . . . so what?

In any case. How is opining something about the Puppies' taste in books explaining anything to women?

#109 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 09:52 PM:

@101 Sarah


And while previewing I see that Elliott already posted but I will still post what I typed (because this is how this whole thing read from here). I am just ignoring the whole explaining to women thing - because even without it, this thing just rings a bit weird.

So if someone has an opinion that is different from yours (an addition to yours actually - Elliott does not disagree, even used the word "also" to show a second possible reason while actually agreeing with you on your reasons), they need to explain themselves? Or is it only if you believe that the other person is from a specific gender?

Come on - you and Elliott both show possible reasons for the Puppies to dislike this book - and from what I had heard/seen by them, either of those is probably valid. Neither of these is provable though. I think that both you and Elliott have a valid point for that specific book. :)

#110 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 09:52 PM:

I've read _Feed_ (though it has been a few years) and I don't remember any ranting about guns.

I seem to recall that (being in the middle of a zombie outbreak) the characters *used* guns. Not all the time; there were safe zones where you could wander around without one, as I recall, but didn't the main characters make a practice of going into dangerous places to report on them?

Does anyone remember more about this alleged rant about guns? I have checked most of my bookcases and I don't seem to have the book anymore.

#111 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 10:03 PM:

thewildhate @106

Wow, your handle is a lot like thewildhare's. But you seem to have only posted the one thing? But welcome, anyway. Do you write poetry?

thewildhare @104

Karen Memory is a book I enjoyed a lot also. Thank you for reminding me of it--I need to put it on my "potential nominees" list for this year so I don't forget it again.

I don't know that I can help with "trufan." I've been a filker for about three decades but I'm not familiar with that terminology.

And, do *you* write poetry?

Poetry is much prized here and will be treated gently.

#112 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 10:06 PM:

Cat @111: trufan is a terminology most common, in my experience, among fanzine-makers-and-readers and people who spend a lot of time working on concoms.

#113 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 10:16 PM:

Sarah@101; People are trying to be gentle with you and you are sounding deliberately obtuse.

Go and look at comment 573 in the previous Hugos thread.

#114 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 10:20 PM:

James @113 et alia: It's sweet to be appreciated, but please, quit trying. I have no more authority here than any other long-term commenter, and I personally can enumerate for you people with a similar personal history to mine in terms of gender who are nonetheless grossly sexist and mansplainy.

I don't get a get-out-of-criticism-free card for anything but my actual behavior and speech.

#115 ::: ULTRAGOTHA ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 10:27 PM:

TexAnn @ 79 re Zero Sum Game by Huang:

Mathmatics as a superpower! Plus I just enjoyed the ride. Lots of fun.

#116 ::: thewildhare ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 10:38 PM:

Cat @111
Thanks for your post,
And for the smiles!
I appreciate good poems,
Although, all the while...
I suck at rhyming,
But will make an attempt
Although you may respond
With justified contempt.
That poster above
Name "thewildhate"
Can't write poems either,
At least, nothing great.
But both she and I,
(Not to be confusing)
Like to keep things
Generally amusing
We are touched by the best
In poetry and puns
But THIS is Not It!
I'll conclude! We are done!


#117 ::: ULTRAGOTHA ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 10:44 PM:

Elliott Mason @ 114 and thewildhare @116:

》Wild Applause!《

#118 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 10:48 PM:

thewildhare @104: Try looking for "trufan" rather than "truefan". There's an online version of the "Fancyclopedia", and you can find its entry for "trufan" by clicking on this handy link.

"True Fan" was introduced, as a thing, by an allegorical novel called The Enchanted Duplicator. Written in the early 1950s, it chronicles young Jophan's quest from the town of Prosaic in the country of Mundane to the Tower of Trufandom, seeking a magic machine that will let him create wonderful fanzines.

It's more than a bit old-fashioned in these days of the Internet, but it is an important historical document. You can find online versions behind this link. (And also in other places, to be sure.)

(And I find myself wondering what Bob Shaw and Walt Willis would have thought, had they known their piece of whimsy would one day be called "an important historical document".)

#119 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 10:53 PM:

188
Laughing, I think, and pouring another glass of something.

#120 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 11:01 PM:

David G. @118: ISTR that both Shaw and Willis were croggled at how much of a "historical document" The Enchanted Duplicator" became, and talked of it in fmz articles. If not, "croggled" is still the word I think they'd have used.

#121 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 11:14 PM:

thewildhare @116

Yay!

Thank you for the poem
O Wild Hare
Really it was spiffy
Don't despair!
Hidden like a carrot
Here and there,
Poetry is sweeter
When we share!

(One must remember,
when dealing with a hare,
particularly a wild hare,
not to mention
[shh] doggerel [/shh]
because hares and dogs,
well... )
You did say you liked puns ;-)

#122 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2015, 11:25 PM:

Sarah @#76 and Cat @#110: I've just recently reread Feed, and IMO the narrator's attitude towards guns is "It really sucks that everyone needs to know how to use firearms regardless of talent or inclination, but we live in a zombie movie so learn to love the smell of cordite." She thinks of guns as useful and necessary tools, doesn't personally care for them much, and regards the fact that so many people are armed so often as a little unfortunate because accidents can happen. I guess the not-personally-liking could be read as a "rant against" if one were of the strongly Second Amendment flavor.

#123 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 12:48 AM:

I don't have much association with organized fandom other than hanging out on Making Light, but my impression - and truer fans than I can feel free to correct me - is that "trufan" has always been used with a bit of a tongue-in-cheek tone to it. But in general I understand it to describe the kind of SF fan who goes to cons, publishes SF zines, writes letters to zines, volunteers at cons, writes blogs about SF, has passionate arguments about what "fan" and "trufan" mean, and so on.

#124 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 01:39 AM:

Hey Sarah,

You're new here, and I think you're missing a bunch of signals. Let me explain a bit, in clear text.

First of all, this is a moderated space. I'm one of the mods (hi!), both under this name and under the various identities of Idumea Arbacoochee. That second name is a long-running meme in the community. But it's also a space with a strong community culture, which means there's a certain amount of what we call "backseat moderation", which is to say, other commenters having one another's backs.

This means two things in this context.

First of all, it means that people want you to understand that they don't see the mansplaining you do, that Elliott is actually trans (though he himself points out that this is not a get out of jail free card), and that he's a genuinely good and constructive member of this community. And as a mod, I can tell you that he is, and that he wasn't 'splaining to you, but doing exactly the same thing we often do: expressing his own opinion. If you disagree with him, you can say, "I disagree" and explain further how it looks to you, and he may very well learn something thereby.

Secondly, it means that if Elliott were mansplaining (asserting he knew something he didn't to you who do know it), the community would be equally quick to say, "Dude, that sounds kind of 'splainy to me." and the expectation would be that he would back off or unpack his views to give you some basis for evaluating his opinion.

And then I would come along and give a helpful nudge here and there.

But in this case, for whatever reasons to do with your previous experiences online or whatever, you've called something that isn't there. I'd be interested to know, if you could explain it, what gave you that reaction to Elliott's comment? Feel free to go word-by-word and explain where the shade of meaning is, because we can all learn things from that kind of close reading and reaction narrative.

Or you can say, "OK, I got the wrong impression, sorry about that," and walk on. That's fine too. We don't need to litigate every interpersonal issue into the ground, because the real nature of our community is long-term interaction. Over time, people will get to know (and, I hope, like!) the real you, and you'll get to know (and, I hope, like) the real Elliott, the real me, and the real group as a whole.

#125 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Gardener of Threads ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 01:45 AM:

Also, while I'm being all modly:

thewildhare, welcome to the community! Double welcome for poetry!

Can I ask that you use the same email address (doesn't have to be active) for all of your comments? That way everyone can click on the (view all by) next to your name and see your commenting history.

After you settle on one address, I'll move your current slightly scattered history to it.

Thanks!

#126 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 03:02 AM:

*slowly raising a hand, looking around, figuring - oh well, I can take this one a bit off topic*

Can someone explain for the newer kids around here where Idumea Arbacoochee comes from (or link to an older explanation)? I did try to google it (not very successfully obviously). :)

*sits down and tries to become invisible again*

#127 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 03:02 AM:

Nicole, #50: it's hard to know how to describe someone as a "fan" of any definition when they appear to view Cool Book Discussions as an unfair burden rather than a joy to partake in

THIS. One of the defining traits of fans (and this applies to fans of anything -- books, TV shows, cooking, sports, knitting, model trains, you name it) is that they are always happy to geek out about their Cool Thing. If someone isn't interested in doing that, I don't think it's unreasonable to label them "not a fan".

abi, #54: There's an aphorism I picked up from one of my Jewish friends, originally about Talmudic scholarship: "Two Jews, three opinions." I love that, and find it generalizes widely to many other groups as well; fannish groups are definitely one of that set.

Doug / Annie: Hmmm. Doug's comment made Europe in Autumn sound like an AU mystery set in Russia, which would be interesting. Annie's review makes it sound much more like an AU spy thriller, which is not so much my thing. Maybe worth looking for from the library...

Andrew, #60: Part of the issue is that there are several disparate (though partially overlapping) groups that all use "fandom" differently. On LJ, a lot of the time it referred to fanfic-fandom (and now, Tumblr-fandom), where it is reasonably accurate to say both that it's overwhelmingly female and that anonymity is important. But neither of those things apply to con-going fandom because it's a very different kind of community. I remember being very confused myself when I first encountered the plural usage "fandoms" -- which is, again, fanfic-related and means the specific things you're interested in fanfic of. If you belong to more than one of these groups, you end up doing a lot of code-switching.

Sarah, #76: Somehow along the way I've picked up the notion that one of the things the SPs like is grimdark stuff -- not necessarily post-apocalyptic, but the kind of world described by John Barnes in Kaleidoscope Century, where most people don't have very pleasant lives and the Big Manly Hero is either one of the ruthless ones who Takes What He Wants, or the Lone Wolf who has to come in and save the day for the hapless sheeple. But I could be mistaken about that; I'll admit to having not looked all that closely.

Clifton, #100: I was sorry, after having done my nominating, to realize that I'd forgotten Scalzi's Unlocked was eligible in the Novella(?) category. I read it online, and it gave me chills.

thewildhare, #104: "Trufan" is cliquish, or at least comes across to me that way, and I've been involved in con-going fandom for over 30 years; I've been known to use it, but only ironically. As I mostly see it used, it refers to either "older fans who date from the days when fanzines were more important than cons" or sometimes "fans who were involved in fandom prior to the first Star Trek convention". Occasionally I also see it used as a synonym for FIAWOL.* I think of it as one of those words which, whether you're using it offensively or not, is likely to give offense, so I don't use it in serious conversation, or with people I don't know well.


* Fandom Is A Way Of Life, as opposed to FIJAGH, Fandom Is Just A Goddamn Hobby. There have been epic fan-feuds over those two approaches. The irony of someone fanatically defending the proposition that fandom is just a hobby is just icing on the cake.

#128 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 03:19 AM:

Annie Y #126:

On occasion a comment posted doesn't show up but ends up in the moderation queue (because reasons). Sometimes it got caught up in a spam filter (too many links, certain Words of Power related to spam adverts, that sort of thing) or sometimes it was just a quirk of the backend of the site that trapped it.

Usually you can try to post another comment indicating that your previous comment is trapped behind the scenes somewhere to try to jostle it out (which sometimes works) from the backend where the gnomes hang out perhaps(?), or to bring it to the notice of one of the Moderators.

It then became a running joke to post in that comment that you (or your previous comment) was visiting the gnomes. One might offer certain treats to the gnomes, a cup of tea, a pastry, a choice poem by way of being considerate & polite to the industrious gnomes (they do so much for us). Eventually, some of the gnomes made themselves known, the most prominent of whom is Idumea Arbacoochee. Or at least, that's my version of the story.

#129 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 03:37 AM:

Lee,

I'd say try it. It is an unusual novel in more than one way - even if you do not like spy stories, it has another layer under it that makes it different. It is definitely not just set in Russia though - it goes around the continent - in a wonderful way :) The chilling part of it is that the way EU is going, this future (minus the SF elements) may be exactly what will happen... Worst case scenario - you won't like it.

Soon Lee,

Thanks :) It is a weird name (and I cannot parse it in any way) but then I may be trying too hard:)

#130 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 03:54 AM:

Thank you Soon Lee @ 128 for the explanation; I've been around a long time but intermittently, and I missed the episode where a gnome gname became gknown.

Annie Y @126, I hope you don't stay invisible! Extra thanks for the review of Europe in Autumn, sounds very muck like my kind of thing. On Wolfhound Century, you could wait the, um, [checks], seven days before the set is complete and then devour the whole.

(I am worried that the publisher blundered by investing a lot in buying the series, then brought them out one per year, and was disappointed by the sales of the first, while readers were cross about the cliffhanger ending (not really a spoiler because nobody has to wait anymore) and didn't respond as enthusiastically as the publisher had hoped. Higgins has got something going on as a writer, and I hope he succeeds enough to do more of it.)

Annie, since you mentioned the importance of the Duna to countries along its course in your review of Europe in Autumn, have you read Paul Park's Great Roumania series? Also, what did you think of The Porcupine by Julian Barnes?

#131 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 03:54 AM:

Annie Y.,
You know about the practice of disemvoweling? Maybe the gnomes find a use for all those vowels that are surplus to requirements. Or maybe we shouldn't delve too deeply into the naming traditions of gnomes.

#132 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 04:05 AM:

Lee @127 Wolfhound Century is set in something like an alt-Russia. It's very alt, though, even before you get to the SFnal and fantastical elements. The ingredients are mostly Russian (though the Giants come across to me as Finns), but they are run through the blender with great vigor.

I haven't yet read Europe in Autumn, though I gather from Annie Y and others that its setting is wider Europe.

#133 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 04:18 AM:

Doug @ 130

Had not read either I am afraid. Park is on my TBR list since forever and I will get to him one of those days. Barnes - I lived through the trials of the old political class back home and it is a bit too early to read a novel on the topic. At least it feels this way for me - especially with the names of the main characters - Slavic names and patronymics are slightly different in each of the countries in the region and only in Bulgaria the two names as written make sense (well - technically people move between countries and so on but I see these two names, I think Bulgaria). I suspect he was going for "just any country" but for that a mix of names would have helped. I'd pick it up sooner or later - I like Barnes - but not yet.

#134 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 05:51 AM:

Annie Y @133 Now memory is playing tricks. I have it firmly in mind that I talked with Barnes while driving him back to his hotel from his signing at the store I worked for at the time (so this would have been 1990–93) but that the signing wasn't for The Porcupine. But checking publication dates shows me that there weren't any books after that and before 1993, though I suppose the events could have been for US paperback editions, or something along those lines.

At any rate, one upshot of the conversation was his slight disappointment that my 1989 travels in Central Europe hadn't taken me to Bulgaria; he had spent some time there after the changes (near Varna, I think — it sounded beachy in my limited recollection) and come away with deep feeling for the place. And so while somewhat generalizable, The Porcupine is definitely based on Bulgaria's historic experiences.

I can understand the feeling of Too Soon, though; Barnes' not-Zhivkov is a right bastard and no mistake. The book qua book is very good, and I also count it a good thing that such a study is available for people whose countries' histories don't include the kinds of experiences dramatized in the novel.

#135 ::: MaxL ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 06:17 AM:

Now I understand why I was having trouble mapping Idumea Arbacoochee to a real-world cultural background.

Books I read in 2014 I would have liked to see nominated (aside from Goblin Emperor, which I was very pleased to see get the nomination. I also very much liked Ancillary Sword, but wouldn't have nominated it on the basis that Leckie probably doesn't need back to back Hugos):

Sarah McCarry's Dirty Wings: magical realist reworking of Greek mythology, starring two teenage girls. Come for the gorgeous writing*, stay for the compelling protagonists and the growing sense of inevitable doom. I hope you like heartbreak!

Peter Watts' Echopraxia: faith-based hard SF. Sort of. Not as good as Blindsight, but I still fell in love with the ideas parading as round. And, yes, the pervasive sense of doom.

Vandermeer's Annihilation: primary appeal was the writing, couple with the weirdness of Area X. The characters didn't do a lot for me, but I thought the other elements were strong enough to cover for that. Also a strong sense of impending doom. I think I've found a theme in my reading habits!

And now I'm going to cheat. Neither of the next two are precisely SF, but it's sort of arguable and I liked them so much I'm including them anyway.

The Fever, Megan Abbott. Is it SF if all the characters think they're experiencing some sort of SFF phenomenon? Hope so! Anyway: inexplicable illness spreads through the teenage girls of a small town. Panic, desperation, and rage follow in its wake, particularly among the parents. Three PoV characters: dad, daughter, son. Against this backdrop of panic, they deal with friendship, jealousy, teenage sexuality, gender, absent parents, and so on. At times it reads like SF, at times it reads like horror. And it just...in terms of characterization and societal observation, I didn't think there was a single false note. The big reveal was unsatisfactory, but I don't think that matters very much; it's not about the illness, it's about how people react to the illness while navigating the rest of their lives.

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club, Genevieve Valentine. Only SFF in that it's a retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses, set in 1920s America. Otherwise, it's the perfectly mundane (okay, not really) story of twelve girls (and then young women) whose dad won't let them go out, ever, because he's the platonic ideal of a reactionary social conservative who has no idea how to interact with daughters. Loved the writing, loved the protagonist, loved the way the book dealt with themes of claustrophobia, oppression, and desperation. Much less grim than that makes it sound!

*Last time I was in a mosh pit I was picked up and carried by crowd pressure, dropped on my side when the pressure eased, and kicked in the face while down. The kick dislodged my glasses, which were promptly smashed to bits beneath dozens of shoes. I had driven myself to the concert, and I can't drive without my glasses, so I got to call my mom and have her drive the ~40 miles to deliver my spare set. At midnight. On a weekday. So when I read McCarry's description, in her previous novel, of the girls' experience in a mosh pit and found myself wanting to be there, well, that was my clue that the writing was really working for me.

#136 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 06:35 AM:

Annie Y.,
You know about the practice of disemvoweling? Maybe the gnomes find a use for all those vowels that are surplus to requirements. Or maybe we shouldn't delve too deeply into the naming traditions of gnomes.

#137 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 06:36 AM:

Annie Y.,
You know about the practice of disemvoweling? Maybe the gnomes find a use for all those vowels that are surplus to requirements. Or maybe we shouldn't delve too deeply into the naming traditions of gnomes.

#138 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 06:38 AM:

Doug,

I never knew that Barnes had been in Bulgaria (and when they published some of his books, I am sure that noone mentioned that). Thanks for the story! It explains the names though :)

Sounds like I need to pick up that book after all... if he was in the area at the time, chances are he actually did not bungle it too badly.

#139 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 07:10 AM:

Apologies for the triple posting. It's late & my phone is misbehaving.

I read few eligible novels this year but two I did nominate were "Echopraxia" & Charles Stross' "The Rhesus Chart".

#140 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 07:41 AM:

@abi I know Elliott in real life, which is why I'm disinclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. But, if you insist, I will defer to his expertise in this case.

As for being deliberately obtuse... guys, I've been telling you this whole time that I am not fast. If I could magically stop being stupid, don't you think I would? I don't enjoy this.

If that makes me a bad fit for this board, tell me so and I will leave.

#141 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 07:55 AM:

Clifton@100

"Goblin Emperor" is ineligible for the should-have-been-nominated list.

Assuming, that is, that we exclude actual nominees from the list...

#142 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 07:57 AM:

Sarah @ #140:

I don't think you have exhibited "stupid", at all. What I have seen looks like honest mistakes, maybe compounded by "reply quickly", something we all do.

Maybe the occasional cooling-off when you feel upset or angry while replying, but that is not something directed at you, it is my own personal rule for trying to be a better online human.

As for reading speeds, they vary a lot. I seem to be on the higher end of that distribution, which sometimes makes for surprises. I am not convinced that reading speed is strongly correlated with intelligence, though,

#143 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 08:42 AM:

@142 Thank you, I appreciate that. (My reading speed is actually reasonably good; I just fail at humans.)

#144 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 08:46 AM:

A lot of fannish slang had pretty much gone out of use (at least at conventions) by the 70s. I learned gafia (getting away from it all), FIAWOL/FIJAGH (fandom is a way of life/fandom is just a goddamn hobby), etc. by reading-- possibly a Fancycopedia.

I will say nice things about Megan Abbott's Dare Me. It's an existentialist real world dystopian novel, set among high school cheerleaders. There is nothing else like it. Recommended if you like crazed intensity. Not sf.

#145 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 08:49 AM:

I'm going to sit on my hands and give her room to read until Sarah's had time to respond to my @103 and @105 (links work to pop you up in the thread to where the comments are).

#146 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 08:59 AM:

Here is what I nominated:

Best Novel:

Hawk, Steven Brust, Tor
Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie, Orbit
Echopraxia, Peter Watts, Tor
My Real Children, Jo Walton, Tor
The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison, Tor

Best Novella:

The Slow Regard of Silent Things, Patrick Rothfuss, DAW
Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden’s Syndrome, John Scalzi, tor.com

Best Related Work:

Rocket Talk: A Tor.com Podcast, Justin Landon, tor.com
What Makes This Book So Great, Jo Walton, tor

#147 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 09:23 AM:

Me@141, Clifton@100

It occurs to me that I probably misinterpreted the phrase "should-have-been-nominated" in Clifton@100.

Not "should have been one of the actual Hugo nominees" but rather "works that would have been on Clifton's list of nominees if there had been one".

#148 ::: thewildhare ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 09:44 AM:

ULTRAGOTHA @117: Many thanks! Smiles all around!

Cat @121: Ah, that was very well done indeed. :)

David @118: Thanks for the links. With "truefan" I got lots of sports references, but nothing SFF related. I had a lot of fun reading the "Fancyclopedia," and also enjoyed TED. I get it now. :) Seems a bit obscure (clique-ish? clique-esque?), though I see the term frequently used in comments by our puppy friends who clearly get this reference, while simultaneously posting questions (for example - who is Connie Willis?) that I typically think are answered in a basic understanding of main stream SFF history/culture. Hmm.

Idumea @125: Thank you, and absolutely! Please consider me settled and this correct.

John @127: Yep. I felt the "trufan" comment as a slap though I didn't understand the context - and frankly I am tired of getting slapped in this snarkiness. I don't think one person is a worthy fan over another. I don't like the way puppies are labeling me - nor do I like the implication that I am labeling them. In fact, I reject it. I love many different kinds of science fiction, "hard SF" being one of them. I love the inclusiveness of this genre, the pushing of my thinking in new ways. I resent this dividing of my friends - and have always considered this community (despite marginal involvement) my people. I am a way more complex person than Teddy's recent definition of SJW's (which, oh by the way, has nothing to do with justice, social or otherwise). That is all.

And a side note, it occurs to me that I can not see myself ever discussing the finer points between FIAWOL vs FIJAGH. No disrespect meant at all, but, seriously? lol!

Soon Lee @128: Nice gnome gnaming!

Annie Y @129 Thanks for the review, adding Europe in Autumn to my TBR list!

#149 ::: Elisa ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 09:53 AM:

Strangely a common theme I see in some of the nominated novelettes is a bad ending for humans. 3 out of 5 of them at least.

Three out of the five also seem to be incomplete in terms of having a fleshed out story arc with a beginning, a middle and and ending. Instead they feel like filler chapters - interesting stuff happened before the story started and/or there are appearances that interesting stuff will happen after the story is over. Makes you wonder why you are stuck reading the middle bit were, metaphorically at least, our heros are busy collecting new supplies and repairing weapons.

I have also decided that authors are never going to be able to sell me on their amazing future tech if they clearly have no clue about existing technology. That was an utter killer in The Triple Sun (there were others). These space traveling exoplanetary explorers have all sorts of wiz bang toys, but have no thermal or UV imaging, no ground penetrating radar, no electromagnetic induction (there is an EMI sitting about five feet from me right now) or any other form of remote sensing. No seismic, no satellite imaging. They don't even seem to have string and a camera to stick down one of the stupid holes. ARGH!

I wrote up my reactions to the stories on my website, mostly very snarky since I used my limited free time during finals to read them.

On the plus side - I figured out another one of the key words for the fictitious writing slam I hypothesized - "snake." At least three of the five stories have aliens that resemble/are called snakes. (What it is with 3 out of 5 - are these stories a Borg collective?)

With hardware porn
and where snakes abound
poor writing skills
create stories that thud with a hollow sound.

My mind rebels
and my suspension of disbelief crashes
and for me at least,
none of them No Award passes.

(I hope that is okay for a first attempt).

#150 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 10:43 AM:

Elisa: It's apparently Gardens of Eden all the way down.

#151 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 10:49 AM:

Elisa @149 - I had a very similar reaction to the novelettes. Two of the stories ("Championship B'tok" and "The Journeyman: In the Stone House") are explicitly described as being episodes in ongoing series, and "B'tok", certainly, has too many dangling plot threads to make sense as a stand-alone piece.

I will own up to actually enjoying "In the Stone House" a little bit, though. OK, it is chemically free of any trace of originality... and the Conan-of-Hazzard-County dialect got tiresome after about two minutes... but, apart from that sword-fight, and the extended training montage, and all the exposition, it wasn't an actual chore to read. I could see it being a bit of a guilty pleasure. Just a bit.

(Given that the SPs are supposedly all about stories that are Fun rather than Literary, and given that I've read eight of their nominees so far and discovered some Fun in one of them, that gives them an overall success rate of 12.5% - though, of course, I haven't tackled the novellas yet, and John C. Wright has three entries in that category, so I'm expecting the Fun percentage to decline rather a lot.)

#152 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 11:07 AM:

I learn something new every day.

Until this morning, I was morally sure that VD was the worst actor among the prominent puppies, at least.

I am no longer so certain. Kratman's performance on File770 is putting him at least a head in front of VD.

#153 ::: thewildhare ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 11:20 AM:

Elisa @149 Loving the poetry. Perfectly clear. Substantive and well done! :)

I finished the short stories last night. I wanted to have more fun with them and despite all the controversy, was looking forward to reading. But then, honestly, none of them pulled me in. I was distracted and had to make myself finish the last three. And I too noticed a similar "snake-y" theme through several.

Starting the novelettes and The Goblin Emperor tonight.

#154 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 11:31 AM:

Sarah @140:
I know Elliott in real life, which is why I'm disinclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. But, if you insist, I will defer to his expertise in this case.

I insist that you give Elliott the benefit of the doubt or avoid him. In all cases. I trust that if you express the intention of so doing, he will also give you a wide berth.

Soon Lee @ 128:
Always fascinating to see things from the outside. That's a fair description, mind. Just not the way I thought about it as it evolved.

(obCrossthreads, the name comes from two Sacred Harp songs.)

thewildhare @148:
Your email addresses have been regularized.

James @152:
Yeah, just looked. What is that I don't even.

#155 ::: snowcrash ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 11:54 AM:

James@152

Yeah, Kratman seems hilariously unhinged. It's like watching a train-wreck in slow-mo.

I look forward to reading his novella. So far the Worst Puppy has been Wright's Helen of Troy (out of 4 short stories, 2 novels, and 1 novella), but based on his performance writing, and reading comprehension, I think Kratman may still wind up with the wooden spoon.

thewildhare@153 - you read all the short stories? Is A Single Samurai available anywhere to read for free?

#156 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 12:08 PM:

Soon Lee @ 55: Like the one who thought Neil Gaiman declined a Hugo nomination because the work wasn't proper Science Fiction. Actually, that sounds like what I recall Gaiman saying at the time (if we're talking about Anansi Boys) -- possibly in his blog? What do you know about a Gaiman declination(?) that I'm missing?

James @ 64: there were arguments (wars?) before online existed; some fanzine fans claimed that fanzines were All and con goers (even con workers) unworthy of recognition.

Elliott @ 112: I've been a conrunner for 40 years; I have \never/ heard "trufan" used by conrunners of themselves, except possibly sardonically. (See above to James.) I suppose it's used somewhere, but I doubt that it was ever nearly as widespread among conrunners as among fanzine fans.

#157 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 12:15 PM:

CHip: Not as a term of self-identification, but all the conrunners I know who are multi-year heavy con runners are familiar with all the trufan jargon (SMOF, GAFIAte, FIAWOL, FOMS, etc) and what it means.

#158 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 12:20 PM:

Elliott @ 157: familiar with, yes; that's separate from self-labeling. OTOH, maybe I'm just avoiding the conrunners who don't learn to be humble; I've never gotten along with the ones who take SMOF seriously rather than sardonically.

all: the recommendation for 2015 readings was http://hugonoms2015.wikia.com/wiki/Hugo_Nominees_2016, which is so Flash-heavy it slowed simple reading of ML. Does anyone know of a less aggressively-funded suggestions page?

#159 ::: Kevin Callum ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 12:21 PM:

#19 et al: I think any attempt at codifying the definition of SFF will only end up as a doomed failure. You either end up with something too specific, for which you can provide so many counterexamples that most would easily classify as SFF that fall outside your definition. Or, you end up with something so vague and broad that just about anything fits.

I actually think the current Hugo process (which might need some slight modification to combat slate voting) does a good job at collecting what the fans consider the best SFF works. If the works remain in the collective consciousness of enough fans attending the SFF Worldcon (or those willing to pay for inclusion), then you get a fairly good view of the state of what fandom finds noteworthy.

I also think that defining fan/fen/fandom/fendom(?) runs into the same problem as defining SFF. The broadest definition would include anyone who has ever read an SFF title. I know a few fen who believe you need to attend cons or filk to consider yourself a trufan, but I don't think drawing ourselves into subgroups or cliques really serves our purpose. As much as it might seem anathema to a crying canine, I think SFF fandom has room for just about everyone—sad or happy.

And I have to give a thumbs up to all SMOFs anywhere that have worked to help run a con. I have run an SF symposium and know that when you work as a volunteer, you end up dealing with so many background details that you miss most of the content that excites you about the event. So a cheer to the volunteers that sacrifice their own enjoyment so the rest of us can have a great experience.


(My first post here, although I have been around since the Usenet days. I do occasionally write poetry, and tried to make this postscript a poem, but stalled with good rhymes for 'Usenet' in a four foot verse. I will more likely contribute to the proliferation of pedantic punmanship and the occasional alliteration.)

#160 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 12:26 PM:

Finding a good rhyme for Usenet
Strikes me as an excellent snooze-bet.

#161 ::: Edmund Schweppe ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 12:49 PM:

Tom Whitmore @160:

Finding a good rhyme for Usenet
Struck Tom as an excellent snooze-bet.
Since seeking a third
Was clearly absurd,
When offered a trial, he refused it.

(with apologies to Tom for recycling some lines and putting others in his mouth)

#162 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 12:50 PM:

@145 I apologize. I was out of line.

#163 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 12:55 PM:

Lee # 127 -
There's one I used to use when I was tutoring for beginning programming classes - Given any described computation problem, with 'n' programmers viewing, you will get a minimum of '2n+1' viable solutions.

We're people, we have terrible processing when it comes to duplicating solutions.

Sarah # 140 -
From what I see you have not been anywhere close to "please leave" behaviour. The 'man-splaining' comment had us collectively scratching our heads. (Many times, when responding to a comment, we may wind up miscopying a post number, then, as the saying goes, alarums, excursions and hilarity ensues)

As for "being not fast," they put up with me, mostly, so you're on safe ground.

#164 ::: Ann Leckie ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 01:03 PM:

Edmund Schweppes @161, Tom Whitmore @160:

Finding a good rhyme for Usenet
Struck Tom as an excellent snooze-bet.
He said, "Seeking a third
Would be clearly absurd."
But he just hadn't tried "kangaroos" yet.

With apologies to both of you for messing with your poetry. I couldn't resist.

#165 ::: ULTRAGOTHA ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 01:16 PM:

#158 CHip
"all: the recommendation for 2015 readings was http://hugonoms2015.wikia.com/wiki/Hugo_Nominees_2016, which is so Flash-heavy it slowed simple reading of ML. Does anyone know of a less aggressively-funded suggestions page?"


Try here.
http://bit.ly/hugoaward2016

If we can get a static page somewhere, where the links may change but the URL doesn't, I've seen Kevin Standlee state they might consider putting it on the Hugo page. I'd love to see that happen.

#166 ::: Edmund Schweppe ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 01:17 PM:

Ann Leckie@164: Splendid!

#167 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 01:32 PM:

Tom, #160: Re rhymes for "Usenet", if I were doing it I'd focus on the first syllable and then see what goes with it to complete the rhyme. "Choose yet" is immediately obvious. Other first-syllable rhymes: booze, lose, ooze, fuse, glues, hues (or hews), blues, clues, muse, mews, news, peruse, ruse, confuse, misuse, snooze (as you note), views. Second-syllable rhymes (which must be one syllable) include bet, debt, get, jet, let, met, net, pet, ret (obscurity points!), set, stet, vet, wet, yet. That's just off the top of my head; if I were seriously working on it, I'd go to the Online Rhyming Dictionary for more options.

Ann, #164: Bravo!

#168 ::: thewildhare ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 01:41 PM:

snowcrash @155: Not that I am aware. My Baen Big Book of Monsters came in the mail from Amazon yesterday.

Kevin @159: Welcome. Lovely challenge on the snooze-bet!

160, 161, 164: Absolutely delightful!

#169 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 01:42 PM:

Ann Leckie @164: I hope this means we'll eventually get an answer to how God is like kangaroos, too.

#170 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 01:44 PM:

Ann Leckie @164, Edmund Schwepe @161, Tom Whitmore @160

*applause*

Sarah @76

I do agree that one of the things I have seen Puppies say they dislike is excessively grim SF, and that one *is* pretty grim. I don't like really grim stories either; though I love CJ Cherryh's Foreigner series, for example, much of her earlier work is too grim for me to drag myself through. I think I once described the typical story arc of her earlier work (that I had read; I have by no means read it all) as "everything is terrible, it gets worse, and then the character manages to make it just slightly better at the end."

Not my thing, and one of the reasons I didn't like _The Mirror Empire_ very much despite its interesting worldbuilding and complex characters.

I also have another issue--I need to *like* at least some of the main characters to enjoy the book. I have given up on Game of Thrones because every character I liked either died horribly or did something so horrible I didn't like them anymore (with the exception of one, but I had to spend entirely too much time in the company of people I thoroughly disliked in order to find out what that one was up to, and it wasn't worth it to me.)

My husband teaches English lit at the college level, and he doesn't share my need for likable characters. So this is obviously a matter of taste.

But it might be that certain traits make it easier or harder for certain groups to like a character. For instance in Warbound, when Faye thinks of a bunch of Japanese soldiers "they were all bad anyway" (roughly) the fact that she couldn't recognize that many enemy soldiers are just doing their jobs, there because they have very little choice rather than because they are willfully and maliciously evil, made it much harder for me to like her as a character. My final reaction was along the lines of "this is why child soldiers are a bad thing; they aren't mature enough to be able to empathize very well." I didn't get the impression that the Puppies had any problem with that, however.

I dunno, just some thoughts.

#171 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 01:49 PM:

Much of the Castalia House stuff is apparently free from Castalia House, and in specific, that appears to be the only way to get hold of the John C. Wright novellas without shelling out money (which is not happening; not for puppy picks.)

I hate to sound suspicious, but has anyone tried getting that Castalia House download? How much information does one have to divulge to get it?

#172 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 01:56 PM:

Elliott Mason @157

... familiar with all the trufan jargon (SMOF, GAFIAte, FIAWOL, FOMS, etc)...

The only one of those I couldn't get was FOMS. A quick online search turned up a number of plausible solutions. One of them was French Organ Music Seminar, and I am going to choose to believe that's it, whatever anyone tells me.

#173 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 01:58 PM:

Steve Wright @172: Quite right. *firm nod*

#174 ::: Ann Leckie ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 02:04 PM:

@169 Fade Manley

One day a divine Kangaroo
Said while touring the heavenly zoo,
"God's been feline, I've heard,
Even reptile or bird,
So why not marsupial too?"

I've never been much of a poet, honestly, but asking my brain for rhymes can jam things up for ages and I need to get them out.

#175 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 02:11 PM:

I looked at that Castalia House download, and did not find a way to do it without giving them my email address. Which no. So the Wright novellas come to me in the Worldcon packet or I leave them unread.

#176 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 02:16 PM:

175
There are places where you can get a temporary/throw-away e-mail address. I've used them for situation where I didn't want to give them my actual addy on account of expecting them to send me lots of ads. The one I used was from SharkLasers ( https://www.sharklasers.com/ ); it worked without problems.

#177 ::: Robert Z ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 02:18 PM:

Some puppies who'd barely paid dues yet
wondered why their loud barks of "j'accuse!" met
with annoyance not horror
in all the fen fora:
Well, flamewars are older than Usenet.

#178 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 02:20 PM:

@176

I have throwaway addresses. I won't use them for this - if they want to make the work available, they can do that without collecting addresses. The works were forced into the ballot; the decent thing would have been to make them available without strings attached.

#179 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 02:36 PM:

abi@154: (obCrossthreads, the name comes from two Sacred Harp songs.)

The name (and some of the other early ones) always made me think of the wonderful music coming from gnomish singers in a high tower. Is that what all the extra vowels are used for?

Steve Wright@172: French Organ Music Seminar

So the gnomes are branching out in their musical talents?

Cat@170: I had the same problem with Game of Thrones. I'm glad that so many people get pleasure from it, but it wore me out very early in the series.

#180 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 02:46 PM:

I have been reading the comment threads on File 770 and I noticed a spike in activity on a slightly older thread and when I looked in, Tom Kratman (who seems to be some sort of military SF author) was going bonkers.

I mean, incoherently weird bonkers.

His comments start on this page of the thread:
http://file770.com/?p=22330&cpage=8#comments

I know very little about him, but this is just bizarre.

#181 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 02:48 PM:

Cat #171: Just your name & email address. I'm home feeling under the weather today so let's see if the Wright novellas can keep me entertained.

Regarding 'trufan' SMOF etc. I think that intent counts a lot & read their usage as mostly humorous/ironic. The Puppies however are using them as perjoratives, even going to the extent of inventing new ones; CHORF, really? Not to mention inventing new insult labels to use against themselves while simultaneously giving "SJWs" credit. Truly dizzying.

#182 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 02:55 PM:

I don't know what Kratman said this time, but I've come to the conclusion that he's got an obsession with "being strong" that is important to him beyond such issues as political systems or their failure modes, and that this is the key to understanding his output. As to whether his obsession with strength is strong enough to be a unhealthy... YMMV.

On the subject of "what is SFF" I'm going to have a try at the SF part of it: Science Fiction is a form of literature where the world-building and technological systems are as important as plot, characterization, dialogue, etc.

Fantasy is a different beast, and simply substituting "magic" for "technology" doesn't capture the flavor, as really good fantasy seems to involve a sort of psychological exploration which is not necessary to science fiction.

#183 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 03:02 PM:

CHip #156:
Found a link. I thought Gaiman declined for the first reasons; already won previously & to see other names on the Hugo. I'd forgotten about preferring to have his more SFnal works nominated. Chalk that up to my defective memory. I don't think it was because he was embarrassed about it though.

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2009/aug/11/neil-gaiman-wins-hugo-award

#184 ::: Kevin Callum ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 03:05 PM:

#160, 161, 164:

I can find good rhymes for Usenet.
I would even have taken a big bet.
But meaningful rhyme,
Often takes time.
And all words missed what I meant.


(Which demonstrates that I should probably stick to puns rather than verse.)

#185 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 03:06 PM:

Somewhere in reading the last few posts I came up with "Game of Gnomes."

On the subject of "what should I read right now" I always recommend the following webcomic, which does a wonderful job of moving between slapstick comedy and serious questioning of how humanity should interact with AI. Go back to the first one and give it a couple hundred panels. It should have you hooked very quickly:

http://freefall.purrsia.com


I think everyone here probably knows about A Girl and Her Fed already, but for anyone who doesn't, go here:

http://www.agirlandherfed.com


The guy who created Starslip Crisis which IMHO won a rocket has a new comic:

http://broodhollow.chainsawsuit.com

#186 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 03:36 PM:

1890
He's a bit weak on history if he thinks that women haven't been in any American military before the 20th century. 'Mollie Pitcher' is a very well-known example, and not the only one. (And, just to add to the mix, there was at least one Chinese man who was in the Union army during the Civil War.)

#187 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 03:49 PM:

#135 ::: MaxL ::: Vandermeer's Annihilation: primary appeal was the writing, couple with the weirdness of Area X. The characters didn't do a lot for me, but I thought the other elements were strong enough to cover for that. Also a strong sense of impending doom.

After the world learned what the Puppies had wrought, I spent a little while being bitter that A. Annihilation was denied Hugo consideration thereby, and B. The entirety of the Southern Reach trilogy came out in 2014, meaning that all three books were denied Hugo consideration.

I have been pleased to see it getting recognition else-award, though.

I adored the trilogy for all the reasons you list. The prose sings (the early paragraph ending in "Desolation tries to colonize you" made me shiver), Area X was its own deeply weird character, and the creeping sense of doom kept me turning pages.

But I did like the characters. I found the main character of the first book to be someone I don't see protagging very often: a woman who is coded as "unlikeable" along mainstream gender-role lines. She's described as antisocial, introverted, aromantic, interested only in her work but probably not doing her work well enough to "justify" her single-mindedness... She owns these things, and I love her for it. I don't know if we'd get along if we met up over a beer (besides, she probably wouldn't want to talk; maybe we'd silently people-watch together?), but I'd be admiring her from a distance even if we didn't hit it off.

The first book blew me away even before I got to know her, simply by its having an on-screen cast that consisted entirely of female sciencey types, all of them different from each other in personality and perspective, who for the most part are just out there doing their job (as far as we know).

I don't see that very often, so I treasure it when I see it done and done well.

I thought I'd be less enamored of the second book's protagonist, but he grew on me quickly. Also, arguably his most important emotional relationship was with his mother (another fascinating character), and that's not something I see a lot without there being snide "mama's boy" connotations, which there weren't.

I started rereading the trilogy almost immediately, because I wanted to recognize all the foreshadowing this time, and because I'm a sucker for books that end with resonatingly beautiful sentences. I just want to read the final paragraph over and over again. I mean [rot13]Tubfg Oveq'f frpgvba fcrpvsvpnyyl, fvapr gur guveq obbx pbhyq or fnvq gb or guerr obbxf jvgu guerr qvssrerag raqvatf. Gur ovg nobhg guebjvat crooyrf nf gurl jrag. Ornhgvshy.[/rot13]

It was the New Yorker article that Vandermeer wrote about the writing of the trilogy that made me seek it out. I got to the end of the article and decided I really, really needed to spend some time in that headspace. Please to give me ALL the weirdness.

...I think I have gone way past my daily quota of Geeking Out About The Awesome Things here. Shame to use it up all in one post. I shall have to petition for a higher quota.

#188 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Gardener of Threads ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 03:49 PM:

Please note that ULTRAGOTHA @165 has been freed from durance vile. We're usually very leery of bit.ly URLs, but I donned my spam-devouring armor* and had a peep.

Please also note that, once that post went into my clutches, ULTRAGOTHA then immediaely posted again, with a changed username to call attention to the fact that that comment was gnomed. This did two things:
1. It alerted me to the need to get my nanomites on and sort things out, and
2. It gave me a post to unpublish so that everyone's numeric references would stay consistent.

Go Forth And Do Likewise.

-----
* nanomites, if you must know. Spam-fuelled. Looks rather like being eaten by a swarm of pink bees, but works a treat.

#189 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 03:51 PM:

Anyone looking for a disposable email address should consider mailinator.com, which has no passwords at all. You just make up an email address ([whateverYouChoose]@mailinator.com). Then anyone, including you, can look at all the mail that goes into that inbox.

#190 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 03:53 PM:

I apologize. Please to swap out the New Yorker link I included for this one, which is the one I really meant:

http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2015/01/from-annihilation-to-acceptance-a-writers-surreal-journey/384884/

Also for "New Yorker" read "The Atlantic."

I generally know what I'm trying to say. It's just the wrong details go trampolining on my keyboard while I'm trying to say it.

#191 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 04:00 PM:

P J Evans @ 186: I have dipped into the File 770 thread in question, and Kratman appears willing to acknowledge that there have been exceptions--that a few, extraordinary women have fought in wars. It's the "we have always fought" premise that he seems to deny, arguing (I think) that women as a gender have never been part of an organized military in wartime (or otherwise, I suppose) and have instead been victims of war throughout history. I don't know if it makes him "weak on history" so much as "misinterpreting history"--it's a bit difficult to be sure what his argument is, amid all the name-calling. (On both sides, I hasten to add; that thread degenerated into crude insults very quickly, which is partly why I stopped reading it.)

#192 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 04:30 PM:

Peace Is My Middle Name @180 - I dipped into that thread and dipped hurriedly out again. But I was entertained by one interesting neologism, "naval-gazers". (Personally, like Lord Nelson, I am not a naval-gazer. I see no ships.)

#193 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 04:38 PM:

Edmund Schweppe (only one of you, I note!) @161, Ann Leckie @164: Thank you for noticing the limerick scansion, and completing it -- I was running out the door to work, and didn't have time to complete it myself. You certainly made it unnecessary for me to do so, quite well -- I'll accept your apologies, and merely say that I wish no apology attached to such excellent endeavors.

#194 ::: Edmund Schweppe ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 04:38 PM:

Steve Wright @192: If someone wants to go naval gazing, I say that's their lookout.

#195 ::: Edmund Schweppe ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 04:48 PM:

Idumea Arbacoochee, Gardener of Threads @188:

nanomites, if you must know
Better nanomite than Vegemite.

(Seriously, that's some nasty stuff. Can't understand why Aussies like it so much.)

#196 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 05:16 PM:

If the naval-gazers see no ships, does that mean they don't read fanfiction?

#197 ::: Yarrow ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 05:33 PM:

Naval glazing is what sailors used to make navel oranges more palatable (or at least more lime-like) when they ran out of naval limes, yes?

But navel oranges never got the naval limelight, glazed or not.

#198 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 05:50 PM:

I thought naval glazing was the material used to cover ships' portholes.

#199 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 06:14 PM:

Ooh, if we're talking webcomics now, you don't get much more beautifully SFnal (and FFnal) than
Decrypting Rita by Egypt Urnash (Margaret Trauth) - Very VERY non-linear, and I still haven't worked out even vaguely what's really (or "really") going on, and we're just up to a point where Bad Things are happening synchronously in all the story-lines.
And then of course there's
Skin Horse by Shaenon Garrity (who previously created 'Narbonic') and Jeffrey Wells - Generally funny and frequently deep, a lot of deeply embedded classic fantasy literary allusions going on, particularly to Oz, and they play a long long game with the story lines - they clearly know where certain resolutions are headed even though they're years away, because we've just recently seen certain things come up which they had set up years back. (She also has the most amazing fan-filk around - her fans post a filk in the comments for the day's comic literally *every* single day.)

I'll have to post a few more of the best of my regular webcomic list when I get home.

#200 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 07:02 PM:

191
I was generally fast-forwardign past those bits, because Do Not Need.
On the other hand, he really needs to pay more attention to Actual History, where women tend to get involved directly by dressing as men - and there are examples going way, way back. plus the recent archeological finds that a lot of those 'warriors' they had found earlier were female.

#201 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 07:10 PM:

1. Concerning Gnomes

This book is largely concerned with Gnomes, and from its pages the Reader may discover much of their character and a little of their history. Further information will also be found in the selection from the Beige Vellum of Hosting* that has already been published under the title of The Gnome. That story was derived from earlier chapters of the Beige Vellum composed by Idumea, the first Gnome to become famous to the world at large and called by Idumea Tales from the Backend as they were adventures from the depths of website hosting and fora maintenance: adventures that had a small but significant influence in the great events of that Internet Age that are here related.

Many however, not possessing the earlier book may wish for a few notes and brief summary of what has gone on before.

Gnomes are an unobtrusive but very ancient people, whose numbers have never been counted properly; for they are stealthy, loving good conversation and troll-free threads; a well-moderated forum was their favourite haunt. They do not or did not understand or like those who comment in bad faith, griefers or hatemongers, though they were skilful with the Tools of Moderation. Even in ancient days, they were, as a rule, shy of 'the Big Folk' as they call us.

As for the Gnomes of Making Light, with whom these tales are concerned, little is known of their origins. Some experts surmise that they they were already present in the era of Electrolite, before the founding of Making Light...

*The Authorities, it is true, differ on whether said vellum was calfskin, lambskin or something else. Despite the impossibility of a definitive answer, as the original has been lost to the mists of history and only copies remain, much spirited debate continues on this matter.


------------- part of article, seemingly a fragment of the Foreword to a much larger work, retrieved from the Recycle Bin of a Public Library computer in Auckland, New Zealand. Author unknown.

(With apologies to J.R.R. Tolkien)

#202 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 07:15 PM:

Soon Lee: *wild applause*

#203 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 07:30 PM:

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little @190: Well, you didn't sell me on buying Annihilation sight unseen, but you got me to download the free sample chapter. We'll see where we go from there.

Alexandra Erin has written eloquently during the current kerfuffle, btw, so I bought her collection of short stories, "The Lands of Passing Through". (Haven't read them yet.)

Hm...is there anyone out there who has the John C. Wright download and would be willing to just mail it to me? Username goldfarbdj, at gmail. It would save me the effort of figuring out how to create a disposable email address.

#204 ::: kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 07:49 PM:

For what it's worth, I first heard about The Goblin Emperor in one of these threads, promptly got it out of the library, and after I pushed through the first chapter or so (lots of names!), I was totally hooked and burned through it in twelve hours. I then pulled it off of the "return to library" pile another two times, re-read it each time, and put it back in the pile. It still hasn't gotten back to the library. :)

Honestly, I owe it to her to buy that one.

Apparently there is not going to be a sequel, for which I am grateful, though I'm finding it difficult to explain why. It does stand on it's own really, really, well. I do like that I can freely imagine future events without ever feeling any pressure or limitation on what might come.

#205 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 08:03 PM:

Ann Leckie @174: That is delightful! ...and now I know about the jamming effect, I won't ask again. But I feel God's logic is quite sound in that poem.

#206 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 09:00 PM:

203
That's why I recommended SharkLasers. There are other places with disposable emails, also: a lot of people don't want to use their real one for some things.

#207 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 09:43 PM:

And I've gotten a response to my request @203 -- I don't know if the person would wish to be named, so I won't, but they are kind and I thank them.

#208 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 09:46 PM:

Soon Lee@201: Beautiful! Casting Electrolite as the mythical (pre-fall?) predecessor to Making Light made me really want more of the backstory. Where is the Silmarillion of Making Light?

#209 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 10:00 PM:

Thanks Rikkibeth & dotless ı.

Abi's comment #154 got me interested in what the true/definitive version* was and my mind went w(o/a)ndering & then words happened.

*I would read the heck out of any account Abi might choose to share. Just saying.

#210 ::: 'As You Know' Bob ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 10:10 PM:

#171 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 01:49 PM:

Much of the Castalia House stuff is apparently free from Castalia House, and in specific, that appears to be the only way to get hold of the John C. Wright novellas without shelling out money (which is not happening; not for puppy picks.)

I hate to sound suspicious, but has anyone tried getting that Castalia House download? How much information does one have to divulge to get it?

Given that Beale routinely threatens to doxx people who disagree with him, you're being prudent, not suspicious; I would not give him ANY information.

#211 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 10:12 PM:

in re Kratman on File770:

I am going to bypass any more in that thread. He reminds me too much of the gung-ho asses that were the reason that I know too many names on the Wall.

What I did find amusing in that thread, however, was one of the puppy's ticks was actually saying that, were a convention to decide not to invite as panelists authors who have loudly insulted, in a non-amusing manner, the *paying customers* at said convention, that the con-runners would be "shooting themselves in the foot" because "a number of readers would not come if those authors were not there." I got the impression that he really did not realize just how small a relative pond the puppies inhabit when compared to the SF/F ocean.

I really do think that these critters are going to seriously damage the Baen "brand," and that will just cause more concentration of the commercial publishing universe, which, to my mind, is not A Good Thing.

#212 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 10:14 PM:

Soon Lee @201

Wow! Very nice!

Honor the gnomes, writing their tomes
Fora, like gardens, they tend
Stories they ply, pleasant but shy,
Making a Home at Back End.

Water they spare, nudge here and there
Time in the garden they spend,
Planting the seeds, pulling the weeds,
To make us at home, at Back End.

Sometimes we stray, wander away
Gnomes will remember a friend...
A whisper of song; ere very long
Draws us back home to Back End.

#213 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 10:18 PM:

So I went to the Puppies that I know and posed a simple question:
What the həll is wrong with Tom Kratman?
"Kratman? Oh, that guy's an åsshöle. What's he done this time?"

From the mouths of puppies, y'all.

#214 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 10:21 PM:

Soon Lee@209: w(o/a)ndering

w@ndering?

(Crossing threads back a bit to the gender discussion, I've seen "@" used in Spanish and Portuguese to replace the "a" or "o" in words that would otherwise be feminine or masculine. It seems to work here too.)

#215 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 10:26 PM:

# 201 - Soon Lee

Wonderful! - :: Sigh :: If only I were able to be spontaneous and *competent*

#213 - Sarah

Well, it's *their* kennel. I would imagine, however, it would be prudent to have 'em housebroken before you let 'em off the lead

#216 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 11:06 PM:

Am I the only one who thinks even reading the Puppy nominees gives them too much of what they want?

If these are things you wouldn't otherwise have read, why read them when they've been crowbarred onto the Hugo ballot by foul (albeit legal) means?

I, for one, am not only NOT reading this year's Puppy nominees, but I'm never going to read anything by Torgersen or Corriea or Wright,* ever. And if T and C appear on the ballot, they will be voted below No Award, forever...because we can't stop the system from being gamed, but we can by Hades, Hodr, and Hekate punish the bastards who gamed it!

I guess I don't understand why people are behaving as they would toward legitimate nominees, even to the extent of looking at the first page. Curiosity?

And giving Castalia House information isn't the only danger. If I were at all curious about their publications, I would worry that their download would come infected with malware - specifically, with ransomware, that being of a piece with Teddy's style.

None of this applies to the people who withdrew their work from consideration (except Correia), or who were placed on the slate without their knowledge.

*Teddy was already on this list.

#217 ::: thewildhare ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 11:09 PM:

Soon Lee @201: Splendid! Well done!

#218 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 11:18 PM:

I read "The Girl With All The Gifts" too late to nominate it, but goddamn, I enjoyed that, and I am not a zombie fan in any way.

"Glory 'O Brien's History of the Future" was also cool. I nominated it, though I didn't expect it to hit the ballot, even in an ostensibly normal year.

Rare that I have a novelette nomination, but I thought "Written On The Hides Of Foxes" had some really interesting stuff going on. The storyteller plot on top clunked a bit heavily, but the bit with the dolls and the blindness fired up my "show me a wonder I haven't seen before" center.

@199 Clifton -- Peggy's an old, old friend of mine from art boards, and she does things with negative space that would make strong men weep.

#219 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 11:21 PM:

216
Xopher, given that my opinion of the ones I've read is 'meh', I don't blame you. (The three in Analog, and last year Torgersen had a longer piece in, which was - boring.)

It would be nice if they were more than just adequate as writers.

#220 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 11:50 PM:

P J, it might be nice, but I don't think it's possible. Consider:

  1. They believe their work is as good as work that's won Hugos recently.
  2. They are wrong.
  3. By Dunning-Kruger, we can reasonably infer that these two things are not unconnected.
  4. So, if they were better writers, they would not think their work better than it is, and resent not being nominated for Hugos. They might even rate nominations...and be astonished by them.
  5. So it's extremely unlikely, to say the least, that better-than-mediocre writers would have pulled something as jerky as this.
That's leaving aside the fact that if Torgersen et all were good writers, it might be challenging or unpleasant to avoid their work entirely. As it is, no problem. The next Dresden Files book may pose a dilemma for me, though.

#221 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2015, 11:58 PM:

220
Oh, I agree it's unlikely.

I'm a crappy writer, but I can recognize how bad they are: how do they think they're going to get nominations from people who are better qualified to judge than me?

#222 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 12:03 AM:

@221

If everything you read (and like) is the same quality, you accept that this is actually the best quality there is. You keep company with the same people for a long time and kept being told that this is good fiction, you kinda start seeing it this way.

#223 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 12:07 AM:

Ursula V @ 218: Yah, I realized after I had posted it that I had forgotten to talk about how dazzling the art in Decrypting Rita is.

Between the originality of the overall layout - given the flexibility of the web, it shouldn't be so unusual to have a continuously side-scrolling chapter layout, but somehow it is! - the color-signalling of the multiple duotones, the literal interweaving of storylines, bold character forms, the use of negative space, the black-on-black of the Panopticon when it appears, and occasionally throwing in animated overlays just when it will take you totally by surprise... yeah. The art is of a piece with the story lines, they're both brilliant, and together they make something than either individually. My one problem reading it was that I got stalled for a bit around the end of the first chapter, because I thought "Oh, I know what's going on here, it's too obvious." (I was of course entirely wrong.)

Have you seen her "Silicon Dawn" Tarot deck? I got a copy this past Christmas; it's pretty damn gutsy what with new elemental attributions, the new court suit, alternate Trumps, and all. I like it.

#224 ::: 'As You Know' Bob ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 12:22 AM:

'Dunning-Kruger', hell yeah.

Torgersen's a mediocre writer, which is not in itself a sin; he has a way to go before he could even aspire to 'award-winning' caliber. Still, one could imagine him working at his craft and improving. Too bad for him that "The Guy Who Broke The Hugos" will have to switch genres now.

(But right now he's a bad enough writer at even the sentence level that he makes an even worse judge of others' writing: the slate he put together was even worse than his own material.)

Out of loyalty to the field, I still subscribe to Analog, and I was reminded that a couple of years ago I actually saw one of Torgersen's stories go by.

I stopped reading it because in the very first paragraph he described an EVA crew as being "within shouting distance" of the protagonist. In vacuum.

Middle-school-level world-building. Not quite Hugo level....

#225 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 12:27 AM:

Clifton and UrsulaV: Just clicked on that link to Decrypting Rita, and I haven't a clue what's going on (yet) either, but holy cow that is gorgeous! I'd been worried about how I was going to start gathering graphic nominees for next year, but now I have a feeling that it maybe isn't going to be that difficult . . .

#226 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 12:35 AM:

Soon Lee, #201: Bravo! Pastiche is hard to do well, and this one is outstanding.

kimiko, #204: IIRC, I "name-bleeped" thru the first couple of chapters of The Goblin Emperor because the action had pulled me in to the point where I didn't want to have to stop and figure them out. By the time I'd hit Part 2, I had mostly gotten a handle on the names, but I still went back to the beginning and re-read the book immediately after finishing it. And then read it again, and again, and again, and am still re-reading it. The world-building is so detailed that I keep finding new inferences to pull out of it each time thru.

If you're interested in further explorations of that universe, there's a small selection of mostly-good fanfic over on AO3. (Disclaimer: one of them is mine, and I'm working on a second.)

Craig, #211: I suspect that there's going to be an interesting shakeout in the convention world over the next few years, as inevitably concoms will have to think about what audience they're welcoming by certain choices of (especially) GoH. Not willing to make any predictions of how things will go, but I can tell you for sure that the dealers will be trading information about which cons seem to be expanding... or shrinking.

Sarah, #213: He's also come up elseNet in the context of having the reputation of, "Speak not his name, for he googles himself and is an ass."

#227 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 12:46 AM:

From the Halls of Dunning-Kruger
To tax-havens in Helsinki,
Gnomes will disemvowel the gormless
To destroy the Sad Puppies

#228 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 12:46 AM:

224
He had one in the March 2014 issue that might be the one you're thinking of. (An EVA where the person gets hit by debris. I was complaining about the story elsethread.)

#229 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 01:04 AM:

#203 ::: David Goldfarb ::: I'll be interested to know what you think! Just because a thing hits me in multiple sweet spots doesn't mean it'll be a match for everyone, obviously.

I was intrigued by a review of it somewhere that began (paraphrase) "I hated this book. I really hated it. And I couldn't put it down."


I'll second abi's recommendation for mailinator.com. It really is as easy to use she says. When presented with a form that demands an email address, you can just make something up on the spot. "gnomesknowall@mailinator.com", or just mash the keyboard, "aoeuaoeu@mailinator.com".

When you "Log in" at mailinator.com to look at the inbox for the address you just made up, it will offer you an alternate address that goes to the same inbox. Just in case you need it. For instance, the alternate for "thegnomegnows@mailinator.com" is "m8r-0hl878@mailinator.com". The FAQ says it's in case you need an "unguessable" version.

It also offers alternate domains, in case you run up against a service that refuses to let you sign up/sign in with a mailinator address (because they really, really want to be able to spam you, I guess). The front page of mailinator.com suggests one, and you can refresh to get another. (They don't make the whole list readily available.)

If for some reason you need to check that mailbox, you can do so via RSS in addition to going to the website.

I'm not going to say with 100% that a sufficiently motivated hacker couldn't trace a mailinator user with a one-time-only* email nym, but damned if I can guess how they could.

*I use the same mailinator.com nym pretty much everywhere a blog asks me for an email address. Since I use it with great consistency, it's probably not protecting much beyond my personal inbox. If I were to download something from Castalia House, I'd probably mash the keyboard to make up a new one and never use it again, ever. And I'd probably do it from a coffee shop, rather than from my house. Just in case.

#230 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 01:15 AM:

in re Kratman on File770 (again):

I was looking for something else and ran across his response to one of my posts. Not only does he have a repellent sense of morality, he also apparently does not see the difference between "rationality" and "morality," even when he has supposedly been declaiming that he regularly parses them. He also has neither a sense of history nor even knowledge.

His prior declaration is that, in warfare, if "something works, it's rational" I had provided some counter examples, where the immediate objective is accomplished ("works") does not mean the activities were "rational."

He called the fact that Allied bombing planners deliberately set aiming points well into residential areas adjacent to strategic targets (so as to ensure drop pattern would get as much of the declared military objective as possible) "wishful thinking" on my part (numerous studies back it up, it's also reported in Rhodes' "The Making Of The Atomic Bomb", with source documentation). The objective of maximizing target destruction is accomplished, but the result of destroying civilian infrastructure and housing increased costs and effort required for the eventual rebuild, and the negative reaction from Allied citizens against the activities of the war planners resulted in distrust of the governments involved. These results do not indicate rational planning.

Other examples were blown off as that I was "confusing rationality with morality," when I was refusing to bring the concept of "morality" into the equation at all. Factoring in a third party's perceived morality or immorality in the consideration of results and consequences is not confusing "morality" with "rationality" in decision making.

I think what galled me most that one of the examples I also gave was the sack of Béziers. Whether or not anybody actually *said* "God will know His own," the "works" part was the, yes, the Jews, Waldensians and Cathars in the city were killed. The fact that there were so many of the *rest* of the city's population killed as well, meaning that the Crusaders were then considered
by the rest of the Catholic inhabitants of the area as the enemy instead of brothers in faith. This is a non-rational result of the planning.

Kratman's reaction to this is that he has never known any Cathars, so what does it matter?


I am not engaging him any more. I will not.

Into that path is guaranteed rage.

Let him think he was all clever and that he "won."

He is not worth the anger.

Thank you for providing a place to vent. (The cats have already gone and hid from my muttering)

#231 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 01:33 AM:

#226 ::: Lee :::
What I see coming is the not-so-amusing dilemma that authors who you might want to see on a panel, to provide the diverse viewpoints we want, will also be people who have shown no compunction in indulging in behavior and language that will violate all these newly-minted harassment policies.

If we will not tolerate members of the audience directing racial/religious/sexual/gender abuse at panelists, we certainly should not be tolerating it from members of a panel directing it towards the audience or other panelists.

#232 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 01:37 AM:

What I see coming is the not-so-amusing dilemma that authors who you might want to see on a panel, to provide the diverse viewpoints we want, will also be people who have shown no compunction in indulging in behavior and language that will violate all these newly-minted harassment policies.

When you bring GamerGate people in to help attack your enemies, I suspect you've violated the sexual harassment rules.

#233 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 01:50 AM:

BRB, squeeing at Soon Lee @201.

I've been fanficced.

#234 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 01:54 AM:

dotless ı @208: Silmarillion of Making Light

Isn't the Silmarillion all about making light, or at least, making shinies?

#235 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 03:05 AM:

#231 ::: Craig R.

Any author over the age of 12 (or thereabouts) that cannot spend a panel without saying something overly offensive (bad enough to be qualified as sexual, gender or racial or whatever harassment) need to grow up before they are invited to a panel (or into any polite society).

#236 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 03:19 AM:

It's worth remembering that many of the people doing the Flaming Asshole Fandango online are perfectly cordial in person, even ones not doing it anonymously and pseudonymously. Not everyone is conscious of, or careful of, the ways online discourse allows that inner jerk out if you let it (and if you have one).

#237 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 03:37 AM:

abi,

Isn't that true :) My other passion is soccer (watching only) and there is almost a running gag in one of the forums I frequent that the way to recognize the biggest jerk from the forum when meeting in real life to watch a game or something like that is to look for the guy that sits silently and is polite to everyone. Somehow it always ends up this way.

#238 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 04:21 AM:

What I'm wondering here with the Kennel is that they may act out that way to keep the theater going, and to keep their base satisfied.

If your "claim to fame" is Speaking Truth To Power/SJWs and you don't follow through in the public, in-person forums, what will it do to those who idolize you for that behavior?

Day is never going to have to deal with it because of his self-imposed exile in his mad-scientist lair under the Swiss Alps*, but the rest of the puppies are going to be facing that choice - either keep a personable and polite persona in public appearances and then do a 180 turn on-line (which will gain grief from both sides, where the "SJW"s will point out being "two-faced" and the followers will turn on 'em for lacking the courage to follow through on their promises) or, alternately, be a jerk in public as well as in electrons.

Neither choice will likely garner return invitations to be on panels. If you trash the panels either in-person or after the fact I cannot think of very many cons that are going to say "Wow, that was just so exciting, lets *really* do that again!"

============================
* But does he have frickin; sharks with laser beams?
(Where are my sharks!?!)
(You got me my sharks!)

#239 ::: Shane ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 04:24 AM:

eric @234 - and now you've got my brain making connections. Fëanor and his sons would totally have been Sad Puppies.

#240 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 04:33 AM:

Question, Teacher?

How can someone *not* know they are being a real whatever online, when that behaviour is so foreign to Real Life?

Eric #234
Yes! Shinies!
Want MORE shinies!

#241 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 04:59 AM:

Sarah@76 - I'm also not a fan of zombie stuff, or horror in general. Mira Grant's Feed is an excellent political/journalism thriller that I'd strongly recommend, which also has zombies. And guns. Lots of guns.

Alex R@185 - A Girl and her Fed is back? Cool! I'd stopped reading it because it appeared that the author had stopped writing more of it, though maybe it had moved to a different place and I'd missed it or something.

#242 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 05:03 AM:

dotless ı at #208writes: Where is the Silmarillion of Making Light?

I don't know about the Ainulindalë, Valaquenta and Quenta Silmarillion, but the Akallabêth, the downfall of Númenor, is clearly rec.arts.sf.fandom

#243 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 05:48 AM:

Peace Is My Middle Name, #180
and everyone else who has commented on TK:

It only took reading a few posts of his for me to be able to peg him as a charter member of the "99% Noise, 1% Signal Club". Now I do the same as I do with his fellow charter member, VD, which is just scroll past whenever I see they are the author of a post.

I've known a couple of people of that particular brand of crazy in real life, and my chosen method of engagement is non-engagement. It's an utter waste of time and energy.

As the saying goes, "All that happens is that you get covered in mud -- and the pig actually enjoys it."


#244 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 06:06 AM:

Xopher @216 - I take the view that:-

1) It doesn't actually do me any harm to read outside my normal range of preferences a bit (might even do me some good in fact - exercises my critical faculties and all that),

2) It robs Puppy-supporters, in any debate, of a potential weapon ("how can you say John C. Wright isn't a good writer when you won't even read his stuff? You are unfairly prejudiced against this great man etc. etc.") Puppy-supporters aren't a monolithic entity, any more than us non-supporting types, and it's perfectly possible to engage some of them in reasonable dialogue. (I suppose the catch is, you don't know in advance which ones are going to be reasonable.)

3) Also, it's testing my own hypothesis, which is sound science in any event. My hypothesis is that the Puppies are mediocre writers (at best) who couldn't get awards without gaming the system... the scientific method, then, requires that I go out and look for evidence that disproves this hypothesis. And, let me add, I am looking carefully, and I haven't found any yet.

Anyway. That's my point of view. (I can see yours too, and in a different frame of mind, I might very easily share it. But this one's mine, just now.)

#245 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 06:14 AM:

JJ - I'm trying not to engage (hence my venting over here).

What is so upsetting to me is the utter disdain he seems to have for those who have actually served, yet disagree with him.

What really upsets me is the thought of how callous he appears to the thought that he really doesn't care about he soldiers who go into harms way and die because of attitudes such as his.

I wonder if he termed the people in Vietnam with the same care he has given to Muslims.

And my better half and I had a similar thought that his claim that all the wives cried when he left his command could have more than one meaning.....

No, do not go over too that other webpage and engage. Must not do it....

#246 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 06:37 AM:

Craig R.@240, things I can think of:

Communicating by text tends to make tone more ambiguous than when spoken, so people may be interpreting you rather differently than you expect. There's less feedback on how you're being received, and it generally comes only after you've spoken a complete piece. You're also more likely to be addressing strangers from a variety of backgrounds, which results in a larger range of responses to what you've written.

And that's all without adopting the idea that the internet isn't Real Life, so your behaviour doesn't count....

#247 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 07:01 AM:

I totally understand the frustration and the desire to go! there! and! engage! I feel that way about this argument, on and off, but I notice that when I do I don't feel much better afterwards.

It fails my own private smarter/wiser/more joyful litmus test, in other words.

It feels like when I have the overwhelming impulse to subtweet something. I'm increasingly considering learning calligraphy as a way of doing that venting where no one can find it.

(Which is not to put a total damper on venting here, as long as we're all clear that we're venting our own personal emotions and reactions. But let's not virtually dogpile, either.)

#248 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 08:05 AM:

Alex R @227: My ear worm from that was realizing that "Torgerson, Correia, and Day" can be crowbarred to fit "Gunpowder Treason and Plot."

#249 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 09:09 AM:

Xopher @ 216: If what these guys wanted was to be read, they'd do a better job of writing.

I'm enjoying but not loving the two Correira books I put into my reading recently. They aren't terrible. They're light fluff of the sort my boss likes to call "brain candy".

If he wanted to be a better writer, it wouldn't be hard, comparatively speaking. He's got the basic tools if he'd learn to use them better. And it's not like learning to write really good novels made, oh, Grahame Green or John Barnes incapable of writing really good entertainments, either. Being a good writer doesn't mean you can't sell books.

What it does do is improve your entertainments.

But I don't think Correira thinks of himself as a writer so much as a storyteller. He's competent at that and, I suspect, satisfied with it, as the books sell well enough.

And there I think is the nub of it: I think he likes telling stories and selling books, probably in that order. He's good at those two things and doesn't the need to write better.

Now, I recently went to five Drive-By Truckers acoustic shows over three weekends. (Yes, the sort of behavior I mock Deadheads for.) Patterson Hood loves to tell stories. His best songs are mostly story songs. Mike Cooley is more...um, is epigrammatic a word? He is to the aphorism what Dylan is to the image, great songs that are one brilliant saying after another and not much more.

So watching them both tell stories about songs was fascinating, and there were two which illustrated their varying approach to songwriting and craft: Patterson's The Sands of Iwo Jima and Cooley's Cottonseed.

Both those songs were played at all five shows I saw, and they were prefaced with stories.

Patterson told the same story every time, of the last time he saw his Uncle George A. He tweaked it every time, though, changing details and making it slightly different. He was tuning that story with great care, testing it out on us, seeing what he liked in our responses and, I bet, in how it felt to tell the story each time. One great detail disappeared, I think for that reason.

Cooley, on the other hand, said something totally different every time he played Cottonseed. One night it was a straight-up narrative about how he came to see what he describes in the song. Another night it was a brief mention of this being the only time he got anything useful out of going to church. The stories weren't inconsistent, just different views.

I know enough about the band to be pretty sure generally Patterson writes like the wind and Cooley crafts those songs with tweezers and a jeweler's loop, so it was and yet it wasn't surprising to me that Patterson was tuning his pre-song stories carefully while Cooley was saying pretty much what came into his mind fresh every time.

That seemed like it had something to do with what we were talking about, and now I'm just late for work, so I'll just post this and see if it strikes any chords.

Special bonus track: Cooley's first song, Panties In Your Purse, taken from a date on the Marriage Equality tour. This story, he told very much the same way a couple of the times he played it on the tour. So would I. It's all that needs said.

#250 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 09:19 AM:

abi @247 "I'm increasingly considering learning calligraphy as a way of doing that venting where no one can find it."

Please ask the gnomes to deposit the jpegs somewhere visible if you do!

#251 ::: Stareyes ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 09:35 AM:

Xopher @216

There's also the distinction between the Puppies and the people on the Puppy slate*. In general, those folks who are not rapidly making me think they are odious people might get read by me, even if I plan on voting No Award above any slated works.

(I also figure I'll give the folks who withdrew a shot.)

Folks actively involved in being badly behaved on the Internet have burned through my goodwill. there are many books, and I am one person, and I won't run out of new things to read if I avoid them.

* Because I still have some doubts about if they knew fully what they were being involved in.

#252 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 09:45 AM:

John A Arkansawyer @ #249:

That's ("brain candy") roughly where I'd class Correia's stuff as well. It used to be pleasant reading, but now that I know more about the creator, I am less able to enjoy it.

abi @ #247:

Ask me about pen nibs, at some point (I can do a passable blackletter-ish with square-cut whiteboard pens, as well).

#253 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 10:42 AM:

Shane @239: I don't know; Fëanor created something precious, and then utterly lost his shit being possessive of it. It seems to me that the Sad Puppies would like to cast themselves as the originators of something valuable, but none of the principals have done that much for genre.

It might make more sense to cast for Fëanor one of the old-school big names the Puppies are venerating: John W. Campbell comes to mind - definitively a real contributor to creating the literary traditions of which we are a part, ideologically terrible, and also long dead.

The Puppies are the sons, sworn to a dubious cause on account of loyalty and misplaced pride, fomenting strife in the name of ancestral honor.

#254 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 11:01 AM:

Craig, #231: I don't really see that as a dilemma. IMO for the consequences of "harassing and abusing other members of the community" to be "you don't get invited to the parties any more" isn't a problem. There are still plenty of "conservative" authors around who have not taken part in the Puppy Wars, and they may find their number of invitations increasing as a result.

Steve W., #244: Thank you for throwing yourself on that grenade. I don't have the intestinal fortitude.

#255 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 11:05 AM:

@241 - If you haven't seen them, the creator of A Girl And Her Fed also writes the Rachel Peng novels, which are near-future techno-spy-thrillery things.

(full disclosure, she's a dear friend of mine and edits my self-published books and I once hauled her out of an algae-slicked empty swimming pool and she helped me move in one day when my apartment got burgled.)

#256 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 11:26 AM:

Lee @254, I think the most depressing thing, as I read through the Pup Fiction, is that I've read worse... which says terrible things about my taste.

It's not that the Puppies' entries are really all that bad... some of them are kind of competent filler material, and the rest aren't face-savagingly awful, just sort of drab and clunky and tedious. None of them deserve any awards, not even a short yellow "special" Hugo for Trying Really Hard... but, well, I've seen worse.

(Of course, I've been known to read other people's NaNoWriMo offerings. In December, even. Meaning, speed-written first draft material before it gets tarted up enough to be sent to someone's slushpile. It's not an experience everyone would like.)

#257 ::: Elisa ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 11:49 AM:

I have been reading some of the stuff out of curiosity, as an alternative to grading student papers and tests that are making me despair of having educated anyone. I didn't read any of the slate stuff last time (just watched from a distance) and was vaguely interested in seeing if there was any sense to the things being claimed - in so far as I could figure them out anyhow. You could probably power a mid-sized city simply from the kinetic energy involved in shifting those goal posts so much.

That is rather why I have been looking for patterns in the stuff I have read so far. Silly, probably, but entertaining in some ways.

There are some places I have no plans to go - I don't have any plans to read any of the Castalia House entries, for example. There is only so much punishment I can take.

@Steve Wright I can totally understand enjoying In the Stone House, I just can't see awarding it anything. In the right mood, Plan 9 from Outer Space is fun to watch, but advocating for it to get an Oscar would be rather unhinged. I read all sorts of things: technical reports, nonfiction, children's books, including plenty of stuff I call popcorn reading - light, fluffy and mostly air - I just don't demand that everyone else respect and enjoy only those things of which I approve. That would be silly.

There does seem to be a huge disconnect between - "this is the stuff I enjoy reading" and "this is a well-crafted, award-worthy work." To some extent it is a matter of taste, but not when it come to basic levels of competence - like using appropriate grammar, coherent structure and, in general, something approaching a plot. I personally need at least a basic understanding of science and current technology in my science fiction stories as well.

I guess I am approaching this reading with something akin to the mentality of people who slow down to look at car accidents.

#258 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 12:18 PM:

Steve Wright #256: a short yellow "special" Hugo for Trying Really Hard

Pardon me, but I rode a shortbus. And got tagged as "special". And then your metaphor gets worse....

#259 ::: Elisa ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 12:34 PM:

Um yeah I agree with David Harmon,
Steve Wright #256 - that was totally not cool. Please think again and hopefully walk it back.

#260 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 12:48 PM:

I have allowed myself one vent over at File770 -- mostly in frustration with what seems to be constantly moving the goalposts on what voting behavior is acceptable to the Puppies.

I. WILL. NOT. RE-ENGAGE.

Not good for my blood pressure.

#261 ::: Kevin Standlee ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 01:16 PM:

As far as "not being invited because we don't like you" goes: A lot of these people really Don't Get It. In my book, a fan-run SF/F convention, even up to a Worldcon (remember, I co-chaired one, so this is the philosophy I brought with me in 2002) is a party we hold for each other. It's not a commercial venture except insofar as we have to cover the costs.

My metaphor is that Fandom is a Pot-Luck Dinner. We have lots of acquaintances, and we want to hold a big pot-luck dinner. We have so many friends and friends-of-friends that we don't have a barn big enough to hold it, so we have to rent the community center. None of us is wealthy enough to do that on our own, so we ask everyone coming to not only bring a dish, but also to kick in part of the cost of renting the hall, plus the tables, chairs, etc. We're not running a restaurant, and we're not making a profit. Some of us volunteer to schlep tables and chairs, others volunteer to wash dishes, and so forth. Everyone brings something. That means some of the food is stuff I personally like, and other stuff I hate ("green bean casserole? Yuck!").

Somewhere along the way, we got the idea of voting among ourselves for what the best dishes were. ("Best Appetizer," "Best Main Course," "Best Dessert") And we started holding this big pot-luck in different places so as to share the fun with our far-away friends who couldn't necessary make the trip to Our Fair City.

Well, now we've got people who started coming to the pot-luck, are angry that we've been choosing things they personally hate to eat, and have decided that they want to knock over all of the tables with food they dislike and insist that the rest of us eat that stuff that they personally like, because they say so. It should not be a surprise to them that the rest of us start saying, "I don't think we want to invite you anymore; you're making the rest of us very uncomfortable."

Possibly these people who take the attitude of "You'll ruin your turnout and none of my fans will show up" are mistaking a pot-luck dinner for a for-profit buffet restaurant. The latter needs to cater for the tastes of everyone willing to pay; the former only needs to cater to the desires of the people who they like and with whom they want to associate.

One of the cultural disconnects of "winning the culture war," as Moshe Feder put it, and of SF/F becoming so much a part of popular culture, is that you have a lot of people attempting to apply the commercial model to a fundamentally non-commercial venture. When you point out to these people that "This isn't our business; it's our hobby, and we're not in it to make a profit," they look at you blankly, because they can't conceive of anyone ever doing that much work unless they were Getting Paid.

#262 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 01:28 PM:

Kevin@261: I like that pot-luck analogy. I remember having conventions explained to me early on not as a show where you come and watch, but as a get-together you're part of, but the pot-luck analogy sharpens it up a bit. I bring my presence, enthusiasm, comments, good vibes, and such.

I think the "but someone has to profit from it" outlook goes well with the strain of conservative legacy that holds that there are no real equalities. When you approach every exchange knowing there has to be a superior participant and an inferior one, you can draw some very misleading conclusions. Regarding profit as not just inevitable but universally desirable (outside maybe a handful of authoritatively sanctioned exceptions) skews things similarly.

#263 ::: Elisa ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 01:30 PM:

@261 Kevin Standlee - That is a really nice way of explaining it. I haven't been to Worldcon but I used to attend my local cons fairly regularly (one of my proudest moments was winning Best of Show at a costume contest judged by Nichelle Nichols). The vibe is certainly the same.

Same deal - run by people who volunteered their time. Attended by people intending to have fun and celebrate.

This is also why I don't think discussions of the concept of "fan" or proper inclusivity make much sense either. As far as I can see, the people knocking over the tables haven't even tasted most of the food.

#264 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 01:46 PM:

David Harmon, Elisa - yes, you're right, my snarkiness is leaking out past the boundaries of decency there, and splashing onto targets not intended. Will you both please accept my apologies?

#265 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 01:51 PM:

And since we all need, about now, some unmitigated whimsey:

https://www.facebook.com/cr.mcdonough.5/posts/1083970614952330?pnref=story

#266 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 01:55 PM:

#261 ::: Kevin Standlee

I'm not convinced the puppies have a model of what the worldcon is-- they just see an organization not going the way they want it to, so they're trying to force it.

#267 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 02:04 PM:

I have a question about Kratman's story: Is it all the Muslims' fault?

#268 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 02:18 PM:

Kevin #261:
I am struck by the pot-luck analogy and IIRC some comments Larry Correia has made about the superiority of Dragoncon over Worldcon. Does some of the friction & talking past each other come from thinking all cons (and by extension all fans) are the same? When they are not?

A.J. Luxton #253:
And having started a campaign based on wrong assumptions, like the sons of Feanor, are unable to stop it even when confronted with evidence. Because pride, honor, loyalty?

#269 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 02:27 PM:

Kevin, #261: Adding to your analysis... one of the things that goes into the selection of guests in general, and the GoH in particular, at a con is, "How will they interact with the rest of our attendees?" Someone who genuinely likes hanging out with the fans and will chat and socialize scores much higher on that criterion than someone who's going to need a handler to keep him from offending people right and left.* The people who would stay away from a con because their favorite unhousebroken-puppy author wasn't invited... well, honestly, they're not likely to be much of a loss to the con, if the idea is for people to have a good time.


* Yes, talent -- or the personal tastes of the conchair -- can override this, cf. Harlan Ellison for so many years. But even so, I note that there weren't many local/regional cons to which Ellison ever got invited twice.

#270 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 02:39 PM:

#261 ::: Kevin Standlee ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 01:16 PM:

As far as "not being invited because we don't like you" goes: A lot of these people really Don't Get It. In my book, a fan-run SF/F convention, even up to a Worldcon (remember, I co-chaired one, so this is the philosophy I brought with me in 2002) is a party we hold for each other. It's not a commercial venture except insofar as we have to cover the costs.

My metaphor is that Fandom is a Pot-Luck Dinner. We have lots of acquaintances, and we want to hold a big pot-luck dinner. We have so many friends and friends-of-friends that we don't have a barn big enough to hold it, so we have to rent the community center. None of us is wealthy enough to do that on our own, so we ask everyone coming to not only bring a dish, but also to kick in part of the cost of renting the hall, plus the tables, chairs, etc. We're not running a restaurant, and we're not making a profit. Some of us volunteer to schlep tables and chairs, others volunteer to wash dishes, and so forth. Everyone brings something. That means some of the food is stuff I personally like, and other stuff I hate ("green bean casserole? Yuck!").

Somewhere along the way, we got the idea of voting among ourselves for what the best dishes were. ("Best Appetizer," "Best Main Course," "Best Dessert") And we started holding this big pot-luck in different places so as to share the fun with our far-away friends who couldn't necessary make the trip to Our Fair City.

Well, now we've got people who started coming to the pot-luck, are angry that we've been choosing things they personally hate to eat, and have decided that they want to knock over all of the tables with food they dislike and insist that the rest of us eat that stuff that they personally like, because they say so. It should not be a surprise to them that the rest of us start saying, "I don't think we want to invite you anymore; you're making the rest of us very uncomfortable."

Possibly these people who take the attitude of "You'll ruin your turnout and none of my fans will show up" are mistaking a pot-luck dinner for a for-profit buffet restaurant. The latter needs to cater for the tastes of everyone willing to pay; the former only needs to cater to the desires of the people who they like and with whom they want to associate.

One of the cultural disconnects ... is that you have a lot of people attempting to apply the commercial model to a fundamentally non-commercial venture.

Bruce Baugh #262: I think the "but someone has to profit from it" outlook goes well with the strain of conservative legacy that holds that there are no real equalities.

Kevin: The same sorts of people routinely try to apply commercial models to all sorts of other non-commercial endeavors, with results from risible to tragic. Part of that is folks who smell other people's money and want to get themselves some of that.

Bruce: I'd say rather, that the relevant strain of conservativism is the one that valorizes "unfettered" capitalism at the exclusion of everything else. The idea of direct cooperation among the markscustomers is anathema to such folk.

It might have been here I heard a quote to the effect that just a few centuries ago, the divine right of kings seemed self-evident and eternal. Nowadays, the power of capital seems likewise....

Steve Wright #264: Apology accepted.

#271 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 02:44 PM:

Whoops, major editing fail. The unitalcized text between Kevin's name and the italics are also from Kevin, but not directly germane to my response.

Sorry.

#272 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 02:49 PM:

261/262
Or a family reunion for all the family, including some that you really prefer not to deal with up close. (I have family like that....)

#273 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 03:00 PM:

A potluck metaphor? How tasteful. I'd propose an addendum:

We've also recently started making an effort to encourage people to label their food with its ingredients, especially if there are common allergens involved.

This has outraged many, who view it as the first step towards dictating what food everyone brings, and from there obviously to dictatorship by the allergy elites.

#274 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 03:11 PM:

ultragotha @ 165: much better. Thanks!

soon lee @ 183: don't think embarassment was mentioned (unless in the full quote you summarized); what I (probably defectively) recall (and was waving vaguely at) was that he was thinking it was not sercon enough for the Hugo. I don't get his preferring to have "closer to SF works" nominated -- one of the first winners was "That Hell-Bound Train", and the rules were amended in ~1990 to explicitly include fantasy -- but Gaiman's not required to know how the Hugos work and is entitled to his preferences.

abi @ 236: re ... many of the people doing the Flaming Asshole Fandango online ... a well-documented phenomenon, truly, but "just faffing around" had a less-fraught meaning until I read this.

Craig R @ 240: I think it's called "masking". Some people who do not have the ]ethnic[ background to believe so nonetheless think that when they put on a guise (mask, costume, Internet face) they become somebody without consequential connections to their original self. This was a real problem at 1980's conventions, says the chair of the Boskone from Hell....

Kevin S @ 261: ISTM that you're being over-generous; the threat-makers probably seriously overestimate the number of that-rabid fans they have, just as they don't know how badly they write.

Lee @ 269: most conventions try not to repeat guests; for some time Harlan has rarely traveled without a guestship (or a fee, or orders from his publisher). The one thing I've heard about his behavior outside the public show (~expected of him) indicated that he was extremely gracious to the committee, even after being deliberately taunted by a fan who was so much too old to have known better.

#275 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 03:13 PM:

Craig R. @ 265: that's wonderfully bizarre (or bizarrely wonderful); I just wish my-grandfather-who-could-wiggle-his-ears could see that.

#276 ::: Stephen Rochelle ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 03:29 PM:

Craig @238: I think the Puppy plan is to declare that SF cons are obsolete and instead do the larger multi-fandom cons. I know Correia does panels at Gen Con (I'll be avoiding him there one again), Dragon Con is another popular mention (and IIRC conflicts with Worldcon most years -- though from the logistical descriptions of DC from my friends who have gone, I can't fathom why subjecting oneself to that many people on that poorly-suited a space is appealing), and maybe stuff in the PAX sphere.

And if you're not at fandom's home turf, you don't have to worry so much about the public-vs-private thing.

Anyway, it's just vague recollection of Correia's prior comments, but for me it hands together with the rest of the "Your fandom is inferior! We want your awards anyway! Then trouble us no further!" vibe that I get.

#277 ::: Kevin Standlee ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 03:37 PM:

Soon Lee @268:

I am struck by the pot-luck analogy and IIRC some comments Larry Correia has made about the superiority of Dragoncon over Worldcon. Does some of the friction & talking past each other come from thinking all cons (and by extension all fans) are the same?
Oh, almost certainly. DC is a for-profit event (trading on the backs of a lot of volunteer labor) that has made some people fairly wealthy by growing, growing, growing. Many people see number of bodies run through the door as the only possible success condition. By that metric, McDonald's is probably the best restaurant in the entire world.

For more than a generation now, we've seen for-profit pop-culture entertainment expos move into the space that once "belonged" exclusively to community-oriented non-profit groups. It's certainly possibly to make large sums of money off of SF/F pop culture, mostly by getting rid of anything that doesn't directly make lots of money for the organizers. The first Big Business version of this in my experience was Creation Shows. Now most people actually have the Gate Show model in their minds when you say "sci-fi convention," and those of us who were here first and were not doing this to Make a Buck and grow to have half a million members are chuckled at as at best quaint anachronisms.

It's sad, really. Those people criticizing Worldcon because it doesn't draw hundreds of thousands of ticket-buyers haven't a clue of why those of us who spent all of our free time and money working on them do so. All that matters is taking in the Big Bucks and pushing bodies through the gate, because only continuous uncapped growth is good, and if you're not growing in size year-over-year, you're obviously dying. And Worldcon has been "dying" since before I was born.

Incidentally, I'm not against big conventions, not even the biggest of them all in the USA: ComicCon. San Diego is still a non-profit corporation (with some permanent paid employees) and can trace its roots back to something like the Fandom I know. DC and the other for-profit gate shows are a kind of Cargo Cult fandom: they copied the forms without understanding why, and made it work for them as a business model. Now some of their enthusiasts are so convinced of the rightness of their cause that they think any other way of doing things should be destroyed because Reasons!

Sports analogy: Baseball is descended from a game called Rounders, which itself has roots in the game of Cricket. I like Baseball and am a fan of the San Francisco Giants. But I see no value in complaining that Cricket exists and can trace its ancestry longer than Baseball, nor do I complain that people who play and enjoy Cricket should stop doing so and play Baseball. To do so would be foolish.

Some people consider fun and happiness to be zero-sum games, so the only way they can be happy is to destroy someone else's happiness. I suggest that people who say that their way of enjoying SF/F is the only way that can be permitted are in this camp.

#278 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 03:38 PM:

Sarah @273:

If you're referring to content notes/trigger warnings, that's more about the stories/films/etc themselves than the events, panels, awards, etc. that are the "food" of Kevin's potluck analogy.

I think that content notes and trigger warnings do have that effect—the people asking for them want to know what's in the food in case it's an allergen, and people uncomfortable with them fear that the content will have to become allergen-free—but it's a separate and parallel analogy to conventions as potlucks.

#279 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 03:42 PM:

I seem to have put my foot in it again. I am sorry.

#280 ::: Robert Z ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 03:51 PM:

I interpreted Sarah's comment @273 about ingredients to be analogous to the Codes of Conduct for cons in recent years.

I really like the pot luck metaphor, since it gives another spin to the saying "Don't feed the trolls."

#281 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 03:54 PM:

Craig @240:

I think that sort of online troll know that they are being obnoxious and upsetting people online, they just somehow think that it's okay. The closest I have to a hypothesis on the "somehow" is that it's a shape of "anything I can get away with is okay," and that being shouted back at online is neutral or even positive to them. (One shape of "anything I can get away with is okay" is "well, it's not illegal, so there!")

I also guess that the reason for the difference between their online and in-person behavior is either that in person, spoken voices shouting back would bother them, or that they're not sure nobody would physically attack them in response to deliberate verbal provocation.

#282 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 03:57 PM:

Sarah @279: If someone disagrees with you it doesn't mean you've "put your foot in it." If we all agreed, we wouldn't have discussion here (and I think we all want discussion here). You had an idea; it didn't work well for abi. If it had been inappropriate (which is what I take "putting my foot in it" to mean!), you would have gotten something a bit more than simple polite disagreement.

#283 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 03:57 PM:

Sarah @279, I didn't see anything in your #273 or in abi's response to it @278 that necessitated an apology on your part. And I actually think that in the original potluck analogy, food was at least doing double-duty as "events, panels, awards" as abi suggests and as stories, as your content notes extension suggests - after all, Kevin said Somewhere along the way, we got the idea of voting among ourselves for what the best dishes were. ("Best Appetizer," "Best Main Course," "Best Dessert") which makes much more sense with "stories are food" than with "panels are food".

So I had the same read on the analogy that you did, for the most part, and liked your extension of it.

I'll in a slightly different direction with it, if you don't mind, and riff on the notion of the unmarked default rather than content notes/trigger warnings. One of the groups that I semi-regularly go to potlucks with tends heavily, just due to demographics, toward vegetarians, and I've noticed that at our potlucks nobody bothers to put "vegetarian" on their dishes - it's not by any means required, and meat dishes are welcome, but they're the ones that have it indicated. (Vegan dishes are still indicated). Either way, people can tell whether or not something has meat in it, but the default is different here than it would be at a church potluck where my parents live, where even if vegetarian main dishes were available they'd be clearly marked as such. For some of the Puppies, "this book has a diverse cast of characters" seems to be the equivalent of "vegetarian"; they don't object to it being available, but they want it to be indicated rather than assumed. And they're upset when people are specifically pointing out "This book only has white people in it", since that should be the equivalent of "This casserole has meat in it"; of course you should assume that if nobody specifically told you otherwise.

#284 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 04:11 PM:

CHip #274:
Yes, it was in the full quote which I include below to clarify. (I have been frustrated at some of what I think are misrepresentations, whether deliberate or careless, but (looking in the mirror) I should be more careful with my own comments.)

Now, its weakness is that you will occasionally get authors who turn down a Hugo out of mild embarrassment (as did Neil Gaiman and rightly so) when he feels his own work is not proper Science Fiction.

#285 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 04:57 PM:

Sarah @273: I for one think that's a useful comment, and indeed jibes with my experiences as a food allergy sufferer. I've had people get upset with me for needing to know the contents of food in almost the same way I've seen people get upset when asked for a trigger warning. (And con panels are among the things which sometimes need trigger warnings, yes?)

There's a kind of... offended pride that takes over, sometimes, when people face questions about the content of a thing. "It's perfectly good! I made it myself!" - like we have this impulse to think safety is a universal quality, and gluten and violent narratives must either be Good or Bad and if someone vulnerable inquires about them it is casting an aspersion on the quality of the work or the intentions of the creator.

Which seems quite relevant to these ideological messes. So yes, very helpful metaphor.

#286 ::: thewildhare ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 05:36 PM:

Well. My only con experience has been DragonCon - and it is indeed overwhelming in the number of people. I love the diversity, and have loved getting close to authors, scientists, board game enthusiasts, and so forth. I have not loved the people crush; just endured it.

I never saw Larry Correia there - it would be easy to miss anyone in that environment. But I did get Larry Niven to autograph a first edition of Ringworld. :)

I am embarrassed to share that I never thought through the implications of the "for profit" nature of the con - now that I am pondering I see implications in every part of it. Egad.

Looking forward to attending some smaller cons in the coming years - and hope to make a Worldcon as well.

In the mean time I really like the analogy of the Pot-Luck supper. A celebration we share. I am transparently inclusive. Don't know when that became a negative trait.

Side note: I love the conversation here. Last night's discussion and the punniness of it all made me grin. Thanks, y'all.

#287 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 05:49 PM:

Sarah - Please stop beating up yourself.

From what I saw of Abi's response was she was just expanding the metaphor to look at it from another angle. Both angles have merit and deserve consideration and discussion.
I think the pot-luck dinner analogy is quite apt.

Chip - I remember that Boskone (::crkknge::). Two things I found useful was the club's being able to reset itself, rest, and grow back and that it occasioned the birth of another viable con in Boston's space, to provide us tthe variety fandom needs to flourish (It also lead to my first "It's In The Other Hotel" button.)

As for the little silliness, it's actually the first 6 seconds of an ad for a hair dye. I have to admit, every time I cue it up I keep hitting the replay button, over and over and over, until the cats tell me to stop.

#276 ::: Stephen Rochelle -
Would it be overly crass of me to say that I likely would not miss them too much iff they didn't attend any cons I were at?

#288 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 05:58 PM:

Sarah @279:

Nothing to apologize for. You and I are taking slightly different approaches to Kevin's analogy, and the community is playing with both.

Possible outcomes:
* I am persuaded by the subsequent discussion to change my mind
* you are persuaded to change your mind
* neither one of us is persuaded and we end up with differing views

These are all perfectly fine outcomes. We don't have to agree on all, or indeed any, points. And that doesn't even mean one of us is wrong—seemingly contradictory things can be simultaneously true; life is complicated.

The difference between that and the issue with Elliott is the difference between having varied opinions and getting angry at the individuals in the conversation. Varied opinions are half the fun. Interpersonal accusations, less so.

Does that make sense? Can I explain further? As people here will tell you, I'm kind of an interpersonal-interaction explainer by nature. It's getting me to stop that's tricky. ;-)

#289 ::: Jenora Feuer ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 06:09 PM:

I've long referred to the two types of cons as fan cons and dealer cons.

Fan cons are run by volunteers for fans, pretty much grew out of local meetups that started getting large enough to require significant organization, and are largely social events. They have been running for several generations now (the first WorldCon was 1939), long enough to have acquired traditions and a pool of people with expertise in just running conventions. Most of them are technically run by corporations, but that's because it's a whole lot easier legally to set up a corporation to handle all the organization aspects across multiple years as staff changes.

Dealer cons are run by businesses, with more of a focus on bringing people in and making money off of them. (Think the network TV advertising model; the viewer/attendee isn't the customer, the viewer/attendee is the PRODUCT being paraded past the advertiser/dealer who is the actual customer.) They tend to go more for significant advertising, as well as bringing in 'big name' guests and exclusive events to draw in the relatively marginal fans. These types of cons are much more recent, really only possible since the mainstreaming of SF/comics/anime/gaming starting in the late 1980s or so.

Here in Toronto, for example, Anime North is more a fan con, while CNAnime/FanExpo is a dealer con. I know which one I prefer to attend. (And that's even before FanExpo locked people out who had stepped outside because they'd sold more tickets than fire regulations allowed inside the building.)

There are cons that straddle the boundaries, usually having started as fan cons before getting big enough to start commanding serious attention.

At least, that's how I look at it.

#290 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 06:13 PM:

#286 ::: thewildhare :::
It might be an idea to see what other cons are in your local area, it sounds like a you might be more comfortable with a smaller convention experience, where you would find more people to interact with in dept, rather than being jostled by. I've nevewr been to DragonCOn, but with over 50K attendeees, I'd be gibbering in a corner ('though part of that would be imagining *my* having to help manage that crowd, as a conrunneer)

#291 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 06:23 PM:

I've been to DragonCon once, got caught in a crowd, and was rushed off my feet and into a wall when I was trying to get away from Saturday's parade. Scared the hell out of me.

I've never been fond of crowds, and after that, I'll stay as far from them as I can get.

#292 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 06:55 PM:

The Silmarillion of Making Light? You would be referring to a personalzine titled Thangorodrim published in 1976 by a teenager named Patrick Hayden.

#293 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 07:00 PM:

I recently had an instance of wishing very strongly that someone had provided a kind of content warning. I've been reading Hugo nominees, and wanted to check out the comics entries, so got the first three volumes of Saga. (Volume 3's a nominee, and I wanted to read the first two to get what's going on.)

I ended up setting volume 1 down unfinished, and returned it and the others for store credit.

Nobody whose commentary I looked at remarked on just how vivid and lurid the squalor element in Saga is. I like the protagonists and would like to know how things go for them and their child, but I am, right now, simply not prepared to deal with the kind of violence interwoven with abusive, degrading, cruel sex that made up the bounty hunter's story arc. Nor was I wild about touches like the "robot" guy holding one of the most important conversations of his life while sitting on the toilet, rather than, say, asking his caller to wait a moment so he can finish that and be ready. None of this seemed to bother the friends who've been recommending it, nor the reviewers I don't know personally.

But it left me badly rattled and unhappy, and like I said, I wish someone had said that such things might be an issue. As it is, since I could return the volumes, they can maybe go to someone who will appreciate them in ways I can't, and in turn, I can get stuff that I am able to appreciate properly. I want to enjoy work I get with good expectations, and I want others to have the same opportunity, even when their tastes, wishes, and needs are quite different from mine.

#294 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 07:06 PM:

rcade: "The only time I’ve seen Torgersen talk about Worldcon growing in membership is when he’s pushing an argument that it sucks today because it isn’t inclusive of all SF/F readers."

I've seen a number of occasions where Torgersen has insisted that Worldcon is clearly "Doing It Wrong" because the total number of its attendees is a mere fraction of that of the ComicCons.


Laertes: "It’s funny. It never occurred to me to go to a Worldcon because I just imagined that it’d be like ComicCon or E3. What I’m reading here makes it seem like I’ve got very much the wrong idea, and I might like it quite a lot."

The great thing about Worldcon is that pretty much everyone there -- including the published authors -- is there as an SFF fan. Authors often attend panels as ordinary audience members, and are willing to spend time talking with non-authors/fans in the hallway or the hotel bar. Authors (when asked politely and not in the middle of doing something) are willing to have photos taken of them/with them without any thought of charging the $80 fee an attendee takes for granted at ComicCon.

The fact that the attendance at Worldcon is much lower than at ComicCons is a feature, not a bug. It's an intimate, friendly atmosphere -- compared to the cattle-barn crowd-crush at the megacons.

#295 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 07:08 PM:

Apologies, all, I've got 2 browser tabs open, and that last post was intended for File770.

#296 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 07:11 PM:

@293 Bruce Baugh

Part of my (public, in another site) notes on the first volume were: "The one thing that really annoys me is that they author and the publisher presume that everyone speaks Spanish. A word of caution though - the book is marked for Mature audience and there is good enough reason for that - there is a lot of explicit sex images (not our main characters), violence and bad language. "

So yes - it is a mature comic. It still is very good though - but I don't have issues with the style in general if it is warranted. And if I see the Mature audience on a comic book, I kinda expect that. (which I can understand not to be the case if you do not generally read comics).

#297 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 07:25 PM:

Annie, your warning would have been just what I'd like to see.

Actually, I'm a life-long comics reader, and enjoy plenty of work aimed at mature readers, past and present. I don't know how best to articulate the particular combination of elements that made Saga horrifying to me in a way that, say, B.P.R.D. and Locke & Key aren't, and that Über only is sometimes.

I think the problem is that "mature" is simply too wide a net, a thought I've had since at least Grant Morrison's run on Doom Patrol - what's "mature" about that series is not at all what's mature about the splatter comics of that era.

#298 ::: Elisa ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 07:28 PM:

@264 Steve Wright
Apologies accepted. Thank you.

Sorry it took so long for me to respond. I went straight from work to a Brownies meeting where we were cooking smores over a campfire. - I am sooooo tired now.

#299 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 07:29 PM:

Not going to bother with the Castalia House download—I'll just wait for the Hugo packet from Sasquan. And if those stories aren't in it, that would just go to show that the Rabid Puppy campaign is not about buying Hugoes for Mr. Beale but only about stirring up shit.

#300 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 07:42 PM:

Bruce,
I think it is down to publishers. IDW and Dark Horse (and DC and Marvel) tend to be mature without crossing into what makes Saga almost crude in places. The other publishers tend to take bigger risks and publish things that are downright offensive to a lot of people.

If Image marks it Mature - I really do not want my mother to see me reading it (think Garth Ennis for example). :) As much as I love Saga, it is in the same list. I seem to be reading a lot of theirs so I did not even got surprised from Saga (but people generally do get surprised thus my note way back when)

There are exceptions of course (both in Image and in the ones that usually do not publish this) but Image are one of the publishers that always mark their work (T, T+, M) and generally these notations really match what is inside.

And you are right - without the proper context of the usual markings, mature can mean a lot of things. But that brings another problem - how much offensive is offensive? You put a warning, you alienate a lot of people - some of which would be fine with the work.

PS: Had you tried Ms Marvel? It was one of the nicer surprises last year from the big two (and is pretty clean).

#301 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 07:48 PM:

Annie Y.: The excellent local comic shop that served up Saga was out of Ms. Marvel and Rat Queens collections but has some on order for me, and I love what I've seen of previews and snippets from Ms. Marvel.

#302 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 07:51 PM:

There's an important sense in which Worldcon is an ideal size for an attendee: big enough to support lots of panels, small enough that (for most things) you don't have to worry much about lines or about the room overfilling.

Although this year's Wondercon probably topped 60,000 and it didn't feel crowded for the most part. Didn't see that many long lines and I could move reasonably well even in the exhibit hall.

(Wondercon is basically a smaller-scale version of San Diego Comic-con. It's run by the same company that runs San Diego Comic-con.)


#303 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 08:03 PM:

Michael I @302: I think it's important to remember that there is no such thing as "an ideal size" for a convention -- or rather, for each individual there's likely to be a different ideal size. I like Worldcons, and work on them frequently; I also like conventions like 4th Street Fantasy, Potlatch, and Foolscap, none of which get over 200 people. They're much more intimate, and a great place to see old friends and meet new people (oh, I work on them too -- but the working takes up much less time). I'd seriously recommend that people try several different sizes of cons. What's right for me may not be right at all for you.

And working on a Worldcon gives me a very different experience than just attending. I find having something to do makes it much easier to have something to talk about with people. And it can lead to some seriously odd and fun experiences. It works really well for me, and I recommend trying it to find out if it works for you. If it doesn't work: go back to attending, at least for a while. It's not for everyone. But we can always use more people for whom it works, and the best way to find them is for us to ask.

#304 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 08:12 PM:

Thanks to everyone who responded to my query. Lots of quite-reasonable reasons there.

I'm not going to change my own decision, because other factors outweigh, for me, the ones discussed.

#305 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 08:13 PM:

WorldCon is neither ComicCon nor Dragoncom, and as noted above, for many of us this is a feature, not a bug.

I've never really been able to wrap my thoughts around what makes ComicCon or DragonCom attractive to fans of any genre. Ditto for the CreationCons.

It all seems just too much trouble and crush and cost for what seems such a scattershot of foci

I've heard the rationale, and know people who go, and seem to enjoy themselves immensely.

A lot like different flavors of SF/F: just because I see no attraction, there is no need to deny the enjoyment to those who chose the different flavor.

#306 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 08:13 PM:

Bruce Baugh:
I sympathize with your experience with Saga. At other times, I've been the one posting here to say "Gee I sure wish that link had had a Major Triggers warning on it because reasons."

So yeah, for anybody else reading here who hasn't already started on it:
Saga should have a Massive Trigger Warning for references to (never-directly-depicted) child sexual abuse and prostitution.
Also graphic violence, explicit consensual sex, foul language, a lot of psychopaths particularly in the military, and probably a bunch of other stuff I'm not even thinking of.

In this case, for whatever reason, Saga didn't hit me the way it did you, for all the darkness and lurid squalor (which BTW I think is an entirely fair description of it.) Somehow, the overall feeling I get out of it is uplifting, while I entirely understand how you or somebody else might get the opposite.

I think frankly that part of my reaction has to do with the bounty hunter's reaction to rapbhagrevat gung puvyq, anzryl gung ur vf jvyyvat gb xvyy nalbar jub trgf va gur jnl bs uvf gelvat gb erfphr ure, naq gb qebc rirelguvat ryfr hagvy ur'f qbar jvgu gung. (Naq jvgu uryc, ur fhpprrqf!)

P.S. to Annie Y. - I'm pretty sure that's not Spanish; I believe the horned people's native language is Esperanto. (But I think you can get all of what is being said in it from context.)

#307 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 08:18 PM:

Clifton, I agree that his reaction there makes a world of difference. If the surrounding scene weren't portrayed so vividly, I might well have stuck with it, because characters who find themselves acting unexpectedly well are a thing I like. And I'm definitely not suggesting - or at least not intending to suggest - that nobody else should read and/or like it. Just grabbing it as an example of obviously deserving work (since its quality of craft is excellent) where I nonetheless would have benefitted from cues enabling me to know it wasn't for me.

#308 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 08:20 PM:

#306 ::: Clifton

Ha, I need to talk to my own self from a few years ago and figure out how I decided it is Spanish (which I do not speak at all but recognize some words) and did not recognize it as Esperanto (which I used to speak at some point - well... somewhat anyway). Thanks for setting that straight! :)

#309 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 08:26 PM:

Bruce: I'm in total agreement with you, hence the opening of my post and that bolded warning, to make your point even clearer to others who might be sensitive to it.

#310 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 08:33 PM:

Tom #303
Yeah, working on cons can be fun.

At the first WorldCon I went to I firmly told myself I Would Not Work It. I would just attend and meet and smooze.

So instead (since I was able to commute daily), I made up a big bunch of quickbread muffins (I *think* five dozen) and walked up and down the halls where people were waiting for the autographing rooms to open, and distributed 1/2-muffins to anybody who looked like they needed one (or who asked), and then brought the leftovers to the con services/ops/gopher area and left them for anybody who wanted 'em.

(I probably need to explain that an ex-ladyfriend of mine tagged me as, without doubt, being a possessor of "THE PARENT GENE." Her explanatory illustration, which I certainly could not deny, was the hypothetical of: "I'm cold, you put on a sweater." hence the muffins. I've been told it's a pity I'm male and Christian, as supposedly I'd make an exemplary Jewish Grandmother)

I went back a couple of hours later to pick up the plates and promptly got snoockered into agreeing to be put on staff.

#311 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 08:37 PM:

Craig R, I'd be open to the idea that Jewish Grandmotherness is a condition that transcends mere details of gender identity and belief. :)

Clifton: Yeah, I figured we were in "yes, and" territory, which is fun to be in after looking at exchanges elsewhere. The big takeaway for me is to be more mindful of how I talk about potentially troublesome elements when I do my own reviews.

#312 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 08:54 PM:

@ abi I don't want to argue. I thought we were telling jokes. But then, the failure mode for "clever" ... I have trouble with humor. I will try to do better.

#313 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 09:10 PM:

Sarah # 312 -
Argument is in thread 12a, Abuse is in thread 12.

this thread is just occasional contradiction.

You're welcome.

#314 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 09:12 PM:

310
The first convention I went to, I got talked into helping to put up the art show.
I've ended up working at many of the conventions I've been to since then. (Invisible sign over head, saying 'sucker', maybe.)

(High point: working membership and finding out that Forry had just bought a membership he didn't need. Because there was a pre-reg badge for him.)

#315 ::: MickyFinn ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 09:24 PM:

Craig @ 313:

Where do I go for being hit on the head lessons?

#316 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 09:29 PM:

#314

The first convention I went to, Eurocon 2004 in Bulgaria (which is why I went - it was basically at home), I was just planning to meet friends and some authors and have some fun. So I am arriving at the site to a somewhat chaotic hotel reception area where the professional translators had not arrived yet(and are not enough to be assigned to the guests of honor and panelists to start with, let alone to help the fans), everyone is juggling at least 3 jobs and trying to get things organized (and the hotel receptionist does not speak English but is trying to register English speaking guests). An hour later I was still at the reception desk at the hotel, playing at 3 language translation and answering questions around. Spent most of that convention translating - I am not sure I went to a single event actually. Met quite a lot of people I did not think I will ever meet though (the fan girl in me was a very happy fan girl).

I am a little apprehensive to volunteer on a convention in the English world though. May as well try in Spokane though...

#317 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 09:41 PM:

Annie Y @316 -- Do look for me in Spokane. I'll be off working somewhere much of the time, but I'm also likely to be on a few panels. Your experience with the translating sounds just awesome to me! (I worked on the first con I attended as well, and actually enjoy working much more than attending, most times).

#318 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 09:49 PM:

me @ 306:
P.S. I now remember which graphic novel I had a similar reaction to, which I had been trying to think of while writing that post - it was the highly acclaimed Habibi by Craig Thompson.

I remember I picked it up at the store last year, seriously thinking about buying it, flipped through it for a little bit and promptly landed on a rape scene. I thought "Nope, I just can't deal with this today, and I do not need to subject myself to this," and put it back on the shelf. Possibly brilliant, but not for me or at least not then.

#319 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 11:34 PM:

Stephen R., #276: They may be surprised; a lot of the big media-cons are now starting to implement anti-harassment policies as well, for various reasons. But if they can behave themselves in public, or at least not go too far over the line, it's much easier to fade into the background noise at a 30,000-person con than at a 1,000-person one.

Kevin, #277: FWIW, the way D*C abuses its volunteers has now come to the attention of people who have the (legal) power to do something about it, so that business model may be changing for the better soon.

I still think the idea that "Worldcon can't be encouraged to grow without insisting that it turn into D*C" is a false dichotomy, and not at all what most of the people who talk about bringing in more members are intending to say. Particularly when that discussion is in the context of "Worldcon memberships cost too much, and that excludes a lot of fans who would otherwise love to attend because they know and love what Worldcon is about." There's got to be a happy medium somewhere, but it will never be found if people aren't willing to look for it.

I have a thought about one such happy-medium sort of thing for Worldcon, but that's getting far afield from the focus of the discussion, so I will not go into it unless asked.

Tom, #303: When I think of "the Platonic ideal of a con", I tend to envision one with 800-1,000 people. Large enough to have a lot of interesting Stuff, small enough that it's not hard to find someone when I want to. Worldcon is more of a "special-occasion" con for me, large enough that I inevitably miss out on a bunch of things I'd like to see or do, but still enjoyable. On the other end of the scale, GAFilk is an "indulgence" con for me; I get tables there not to make money, but to be able to deduct my expenses for a weekend spend socializing with My 150 Closest Friends (some of whom I don't see anywhere else).

I've been to D*C, though not for some years now. I don't remember much about it except the filk circle with Julia Ecklar, and the year I got my People of Pern book signed by both McCaffrey and Robin Wood. Oh, and the year I was staying in the Omni and my room had the most appallingly offensive movie-still art on the wall. But my partner has been there much more recently, and he says he treats it like we do most media-cons: when the dealer room closes, we're done for the day -- we get dinner and go back to our own room, because there are no evening social activities that interest us.

Clifton, #318: I picked up Habibi a few years ago, got 3 or 4 chapters in, and then stalled out about the time that the little boy is getting to puberty, partly because I was worried about the direction it might take. Perhaps I should go back and give it another shot; the story itself is certainly compelling, and I could be wrong about the plot direction.

The rape scene... didn't squick me, because we were so obviously in a world/culture where it was inevitable that I was expecting it, and because then she did get away. And maybe because I was at least partly reading it for the cultural and religious aspects, so other things became less front-and-center for me.

#320 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2015, 11:55 PM:

Bruce Baugh @ 293 and subsequent conversation:

Saga had for me what I consider the Scott Lynch effect: Lynch has said he intentionally makes sure there's a swear word on the first page of his books, so that anyone can take that as a warning what they're getting into. Saga does that, and on page 2 gave it context enough - for me - to have me unsurprised by some of the later and greater squalor. (not saying it should be sufficient for anyone. nor that a suitable warning in review or in the front of the book would be out of place. I'm all for things that help match up the right books with the right people.)

And, unlike Lynch IMO, there is enough hope and beauty to counter the squalor - which seems to be a thematic point, too, and thus part of what makes the squalor and violence more acceptable. I've found I'll go to a much darker place, in my reading, if I have that sort of counter. I'm a much harder sell on "the world is crap and the best we can do is put down the worst of the worst" than I am on "the world contains genocide, crudity, abuse, good parents, and kindness."

#321 ::: nerdycellist ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 01:45 AM:

I'm not sure why LC is comparing various conventions as if they are nearly identical gatherings of extruded fannish by-product. I have enjoyed DragonCon and other smaller media-focused conventions, and I am very excited about attending this year's World Con for the first time. I don't have any opinions on whether a for-profit structure makes things less fun for me as an attendee, as I have been unimpressed by both corporate Creation's offerings and felt equally overwhelmed by the commercial presence of the movie studios at the fan-run SDCC. This random con comparison seems to me to be one more aspect of Sad Puppy gate-keeping - which fans are the REALEST fans, who go to the ONE TRUE CONVENTION - that just makes me roll my eyes. Dudes, go wherever you like, read what makes you happy. It's that simple. (now, off to finish Ancillary Justice so I can read Ancillary Sword before the voting deadline!)

#322 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 05:01 AM:

I have loved different cons differently. It's been years since I've attended any but Ambercon Northwest as more than a day trip, but this year I am jumping back in with both feet, heading down to join close friends at Baycon at the end of next week, and going to Sasquan if I can put aside the money.

Baycon was my first major fandom convention, and I had fantastic times there in the early 2000s. I wonder if anyone will recognize me; I was very young then and looked even younger (when I was nineteen a barista asked me once if I was old enough to be drinking coffee!) and had a different name and different gender presentation from today, but I was also kind of loud and a little obnoxious. (Hopefully decade-old impressions won't sour things.) And it'll be weird that the hotel has changed...

#323 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 05:17 AM:

Lenora Rose, that strikes me as an eminently reasonable reaction. The fact that I don't share either side (I like Scott's work, and am happy to know him to the extent that I do; he was a stable reassuring presence in some time I really needed it, and I find that quality in his stories) doesn't change that - I think lots of takes are reasonable and justified, when it comes to art. Just to keep clear on my overall perspective. What I wish for is a better set of signals around the work, and that's an ongoing problem for lots of people, which I am unlikely to solve, to put it mildly.

#324 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 07:39 AM:

Edited on preview to add: this applies mostly to non-ML spaces, I've not seen anyone do this here.

I see a lot of the same meta-communications going on around trigger warnings lately, out in the world, as were around the beginnings of "quit punching people with your language, it ain't polite" in the late 80s, when its opponents coined "political correctness" to demand it be called.

People who think the need for carefulness is self-evident are saying, "Um, could we get some labeling/set aside cognition/brief consideration of this?" and there's a seemingly-disproportionate pushback of NOOOOOOO YOU HATE FREEDOMZ AND ALSO ME YOU HATE ME TOO YOU ARE AWFUL AND WANT TO DESTROY HUMANITY.

In the case of trigger warnings I've seen five separate stories THIS WEEK misrepresenting requests for trigger warnings as forbidding that the triggering material be discussed at all (in college classes, etc). This is not what trigger warnings are about, and if you read the quotes and down past the halfway point of the story, that becomes clear. But the headline, the lede, and the first four paragraphs are all GRAAAARGH WE WILL NEVER TALK ABOUT THESE THINGS EVARRR AGIIIIIN, which turns off people who're only just now HEARING about trigger warnings from taking them seriously as an actual tool of politeness that should become universal.

I'm just very tired and not sure how to fight it.

#325 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 08:47 AM:

Gah.

That person, Tuomas Vainio, who posted the inexplicable May 2nd guest post on "File 770" in which he, an admitted non-reader, analyzed Amazon's numbers to "prove" that there is more SF published every year than anyone can read and therefore the Hugos must have been gamed in the past to produce anything but random results and therefore anyone unhappy at the Puppies' coup is a liar and a hypocrite, has commented on the File 770 post about Brianna Wu on the CBC broadcast “Online shaming: the return of mob morality”.

http://file770.com/?p=22508

"... when it comes to online harassments, while it takes a day or two to pull off, it is still reasonably easy to put a stop to it."

Vainio's entire comment really is jaw-dropping.

That one's astounding, adamantine ignorance about internet stalking is only matched by his ignorance of all of science fiction ever. Amazon reviews indeed.

I am still at a loss as to why Mike Glyer gave Tuomas Vainio the platform of a guest post.

#326 ::: Elisa ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 09:12 AM:

@325 Peace Is My Middle Name-

I have been trying to sort out if it is another example of "presenting both sides" run amok or a version of "giving them enough rope to hang themselves." I am hoping for the latter.

@324 Elliott Mason -

Understanding and appropriate use of trigger warnings requires empathy. There are an astonishing number of people who are unwilling or unable to even conceive of the idea that other people have their own separate set of experiences and react differently to certain material or subjects. Instead they seem to insist on taking such requests as attacks. It is bizarre and disheartening.

I taught an environmental class last year as part of a cooperative of courses, so I had students in it who would not normally be in such a class. One of the cases we studied was water access around the world. As part of the unit they were supposed to explore whether access to potable water should be a human right. As a class they decided - no, everyone has to pay for it. They didn't even have a problem with the idea that it is illegal in some places (including in the US) to catch rainwater for your own use. I was utterly blown away by that class - just an utter lack of empathy and absolutely no conception about how people in most of the world live.

#327 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 09:26 AM:

Elisa @ 326: Elisa, that's--astonishing, and disturbing. I would have bet real money that my (college-age) students don't have a clue that the water in their homes ISN'T free. I'd also have bet that their lack of understanding would have run more in the direction of: "Hey, why is so much of the world worried about water? It's just water. Everyone has access to clean water, like air, right?" I'll have to check with the people who teach similar courses at my institution, to see if they share your experience--that's something I need to know about my students, I think. (I'm hoping my students are better informed and/or more compassionate, obviously--hope springs eternal--but I'm afraid they aren't . . . gah.)

#328 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 09:44 AM:

On trigger warnings:

Since the most commonly discussed triggers are for things that are universally understood to be upsetting (though for a long time my worst triggers were things most people found joyful, and wasn't that fun), I think there's also an undercurrent in the opposition to warnings of "Trigger warnings are telling me that this material is bad because it contains bad things." I've had some luck with a couple of approaches to this; one is to use an example of spiders, when talking to people who share a mutual friend with a severe spider phobia. "Think of a trigger warning as like warning Chris that there are spiders in a particular scene of a movie, so he can skip over that part; it's not saying the movie is bad because it has spiders, or that nobody should ever watch the spider part, just giving a heads-up to people who need it."

#329 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 09:58 AM:

Hugo money question here: how is the stuff in the packet paid for?

#330 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 10:06 AM:

C. Wingate: the publishers donate it.

#331 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 10:28 AM:

Elliot Mason: Yeah, I've seen too much of the same thing lately when it comes to any sort of content warning. I have some stock citations, like Hope Jahren's description of being triggered, but...there are a weirdly large number of people intensely invested in such things being nothing, ever, ever, but lies and gross exaggerations in the service of tyranny, and I don't get it.

#332 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 10:29 AM:

@325 Peace - I'm still not over "we can't have nice dishes in space" myself.

#333 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 10:30 AM:

They come from a world where one's ability to do and say anything at all (if one is one of Those People with the right to do so) is absolute and has always been absolute, so they cannot imagine making the world a more welcoming place to people who have previously, due to their own histories and issues, been shoved to the side and told to sit down, shut up, and let the grownups talk.

#334 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 10:34 AM:

This relates to bringing more diverse attendees to conventions, too. Some cluelessly well-meaning white con runners point to the Specimen Black Guy who's always been involved in helping run their con and say, "See? We're inclusive. We're doing everything we need to do," and don't realize that that one guy is a superhero in the amount of random microaggression he personally is willing or capable of ignoring while hanging out with casually-but-unintentionally-racist white people.

The person making the statement doesn't see the probably-hundreds of black nerds who tried their con once or twice, decided the stress wasn't worth it, and went to go get their fannish needs filled somewhere else (often nowadays online; non-white fandom of every description is widespread and thriving online, though often in places white fen don't see).

They write off people who left as "too thin-skinned" instead of realizing that the problem is that the floor is made of lava.

Academia has also often decided that dealing with lava floors is just something everyone can be expected to handle. Certain disciplines are changing that, or have always realized lava is ridiculous, but now that the groups of students who find lava floors intolerable are actually trying to attend classes taught by lava-blind professors, there's a conflict.

#335 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 10:47 AM:

Elliott, all your words are yea and amen to me.

#336 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 10:49 AM:

On trigger warnings: I will admit, took me awhile to come around at first. But I post lots of pictures of wildlife, and one day I had a photo of a very handsome ring-necked snake, and somebody asked very politely if I could put that below the image cut so it didn't auto-load on their feed and they were very nice and I felt bad I had caused this person distress.

And awhile after that, somebody posted a link to a jump-scare video in my comments and was...really weirdly unrepentant when somebody said "Hey, not cool!" and when I deleted it, they whined about how it had taken them ages to make and never once even seemed to think about anyone else in the equation. No apology, just "Awwww, you're spoiling my fun!"

So, little by little, I came around.

Thing is, I'm also on Tumblr, and while I try to tag snakes and spiders, I have gotten really just bizarre things hurled at me as being triggering and how dare I and they expected better. And I am not going to put trigger warning: pasta on a post. (God, I wish I was making that up.) And I love Tumblr, but I think the format and culture lend themselves to some occasional weird excesses and dog piles, where people build themselves a particular place with a set of rules of interaction and then expect people they've followed, who don't know they exist, to abide by those rules.

I think that if one were taking their halting first steps toward empathy and then ran into that, it might make them think "Jesus, why bother?" I'm glad I didn't have that experience, but I don't know that there's a fix for it either.

#337 ::: Cath ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 11:41 AM:

I've been following the trigger warning discussion with interest. I don't believe that a one-size-fits-all protocol is possible, because everyone comes in with different experiences. But I do believe that North American society could stand to move in the direction of more consideration. And I think one place where it's already embedded is content warnings for movies and TV. It's standard to include them at the beginning of the show. So why not other media?

A random dip into Wikipedia scooped up the ratings for an animated series "rated TV-MA for explicit sexual content, including nudity and scenes of sexual intercourse (S), extremely offensive language (L), and adult content." I realize that for some viewers that's going to be a feature, not a keep-away sign, but it gives me some guidance as to whether to avoid the show.

FYIW, I also came into fandom via the fan-run potluck model. I've attended Farthing parties and Worldcons, enjoyed both. Personally, I don't enjoy huge, stand in line, and pay for each photo and session events. But if you do, and it's your way to connect with something you love - have a great time!

Back to the potlucks:

By silence to poison the food
And not even fathom that you’d
Cause harm or death
To your fellow guests
Is an action that’s far beyond rude

#338 ::: Jenavira ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 12:00 PM:

The librarian in me flinches at the suggestion that books should include trigger warnings, because that makes certain things so much easier to censor. How long would it take before someone went through the YA section filing a challenge on every book with a trigger warning on it? How long before high schools started just refusing to add those books to reading lists or library collections? Then the trigger warning has just turned into a label for "this book contains things I object to."

But the rest of me doesn't want people to be blindsided by genuinely distressing things. Heck, I serve as a filter for several different things for several friends, because I generally have a high tolerance for distressing material, but I've still often wished for a trigger warning when I fall unexpectedly into a black spot in a book I'm reading.

It's a problem.

#339 ::: Cath ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 12:57 PM:

Jenavira @338
Whoops. Hadn't thought of the censorship issue. What does puzzle me is that there isn't near the same amount of outrage about the warning concept as far as movies are concerned. Maybe just that it's only recently getting attention in new places?

It is indeed a problem and a puzzle. And every time I think of a warning system I can immediately come up with failure modes. An app that scans the book for profanity? Hello Clean Reader. Another app that indexes all the nouns in the story so you can search for "pasta"? If you have to think about all the synonyms for your trigger(s) to look for, I'd guess it could be as distressing as bumping into the original without warning.

I believe that mechanical solutions won't be useful without cultural change. And personally I believe that my own culture should change to be more considerate of others. To help improve my own awareness, I can try to learn more about where my blind spots are. Which is why I appreciate all the perspectives that others are sharing here.

#340 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 01:08 PM:

I think movie ratings were framed as something like maintaining social order, which has a very different feel from being kind to individuals.

#341 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 01:25 PM:

Andrew @102: "Neptune's Brood" was in fact shortlisted for a Hugo ... at the 2014 worldcon. It's not eligible in 2015.

#342 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 02:43 PM:

You know, I seem to recall the Puppies were all for correct packaging of books*. It's not a short distance from accurate description of contents to noting common trigger warnings. Does anyone think there might be room for some common ground here? Anyone?

--

More seriously, it seems to me that as books move towards having online descriptions, creating metadata tags for almost every conceivable type of content would be possible. Some problems that come to mind are firstly, and obviously, school and library censorship by tag, and secondly, too broad a use leading to a form of self-censorship in which by blocking off works with certain tags we miss out on stuff that would be really good and indeed useful. Especially if one (say) ticked the eating disorder box as a teenager and our computers remembered and some years later we might find memoirs or help books, or even fiction on the topic helpful, yet they were pre-unselected.

* I think they were noting that books with muscular long haired shirtless barbarians grappling on the cover with hardly any homoerotic content on the page were misleading or something similar.

#343 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 02:48 PM:

I'll make another attempt with the potluck metaphor:

I want to know whether my food contains dairy products. I'm usually ok with a little bit, depending on the day and the phase of the moon, but I like to know what I'm getting into.

A friend of mine is sensitive to soy. He *must* know whether or not food contains soy, or risk GI consequences that are better left to the imagination.

Another friend keeps kosher. She wants to know whether the food contains treyf.

And then there's that one person who insists that eating beans is murder and we're all horrible people for putting bean products in our food. Obviously this person wants to know if the food contains beans or bean by-products.

All of us want food labels. That last person also wants to ban beans and bean by-products. Now what do we do?

I think we can draw a bright line between labeling a product and banning it. Maybe I'm too optimistic.

#344 ::: picklefactory ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 03:04 PM:

UrsulaV @ 336: And I love Tumblr, but I think the format and culture lend themselves to some occasional weird excesses and dog piles, where people build themselves a particular place with a set of rules of interaction and then expect people they've followed, who don't know they exist, to abide by those rules.

Metaphorical imaginings of virtual places and their "feel" amuse me... (I'm sure there's a jargon-word architects and the like use to put this concept across better). I don't mean the people in the place, I mean how the structure of the place influences its expression.

I wonder how often those imaginings have overlap between denizens.

I think of tumblr as an infinite and kaleidoscopic cultural depot in the shape of a bazaar. You have no idea what sort of social norms to expect from any given aisle or street of it. Studying one area tells you almost nothing about the street one over, except that it's similarly loud.

4chan, by comparison, is an enormous dark room filled with shouting mostly young mostly men. The walls are covered with display screens, and anybody can display anything on any screen at any time.

Making Light is board and word games with refreshments someplace outside that isn't too noisy. The hosts are strict but welcoming, and the board games are well-worn, but there are a number of surprising obscurities that make learning something new worthwhile.

(Hi, I've been a Making Light lurker for a good long time. Started paying much closer attention around the start of the Hugo thing. A lot to ingest and a lot of food for thought.)

#345 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 03:14 PM:

Sarah: Yeah, I think that in general it's pretty easy to distinguish "I need to know X so I can make the decision based on criteria important to me" from "I need to know X as part of my effort to drive all X-containing things into the outer darkness where there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth and no flossing". In my experience, most (though absolutely, for sure, not all) people with real needs - whether medical, religious, or whatever - are pretty good at saying "I have to have not X for this reason" without implying that others are horrible people. In my experience, it's often the...dilettante obsessives, I guess I want to call them, flitting from one consuming concern to another with little rhyme or reason, who are most likely to use their need of the moment as an excuse to be horrible.

But Jenavira has a point, alas. Every system of knowledge is also a system of ignorance, say some skeptics, and every system of knowledge is also a lever for oppression in the hand of people so inclined. It's not possible, I think, to make a system of warnings sufficiently clear to help people with genuine needs and wants that can't be used against them and others. Get books labeled well with regard to LGBT content, and Amazon will (even if temporarily) pull them out of sight or out of listing altogether, and so on.

At this point, someone generally pops up to say that this is why it's ridiculous and/or wrong to even try to mark content clearly. Well, reducing things to abstract structures only goes so far. "I am using this to enable me to live as well as possible despite PTSD, while he is using it as part of an effort to suppress any expression of Idea That He Hates" is a legitimate answer. The facts of the case matter.

#346 ::: Elisa ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 04:17 PM:

@332 UrsulaV and @325 Peace

I'm still not over "we can't have nice dishes in space" myself.

Yeah - that one was amazing. It reminded me of when a student asks me a homework question that is just so sideways that I have to shake my head and fight asking them what planet they are from.

So everything else in the book up to that point was totally okay and required no suspension of disbelief, but china in space was a bridge too far. Ugh.

#347 ::: CN ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 04:22 PM:

I've never been to a con of any kind, being shy to the point of paralysis (Asperger's). But I find that following threads here serves sort of the same function I infer from other folks' descriptions of con attendance. And, inexplicably, I find myself wishing I had met some of the folks in here face-to-face at some point in time. I've been reading this stuff since the early 60s and until I located this site I didn't realize there were a lot of things that were unavailable to me that I might have been able to enjoy. Amazing things happen in here, for which I thank you all.

#348 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 04:26 PM:

Sarah @ 343

Someone with medical (or religious or whatever reasons) to keep away from certain foods need to know if they are presented. However in a potluck, you cannot ask everyone to identify everything. You can ask politely and half the people will do it - some won't. And some may decide to answer no when they do not know (which is as bad) or yes just to be safe.

So you either bring your own dish or you go to enough of those potluck dinners that you know who identifies correctly. The whole point of being potluck is that it is not governed by the same rules as a proper restaurant.

So in the beans case? No, they should not be banned. Nor everyone should be forced to label them. But there will be people that will label accordingly and you can choose to just eat these dishes.

#349 ::: Lady Kay ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 04:51 PM:

Bruce Baugh---On File 770, your parody of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" hit my funny bone hard. Wonderful!!!!!! Thank you SO much.

#350 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 05:12 PM:

Annie @348, following on Sarah @343

It's true that a potluck is not governed by the same rules as a restaurant. But it's also true that groups that hold regular potlucks can evolve norms about these things. I see more and more people marking things for the known concerns (e.g. vegan, gluten-free). One group I belong to that has regular get-togethers marks if something contains onion, which is not a common problem, but we have an onion-allergic member.

So I see trigger warnings, like a code of conduct, as being something that may evolve from "ridiculous" to "standard."

(The potluck metaphor, by the way, is ... rather meaty.)

#351 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 05:46 PM:

JJ @ 294: actually, that mis-directed post is a useful thumbnail of a major difference. Worldcons and their ilk sell memberships; everyone is a participant. (I once made an analogy to Burning Man in a local discussion, but nobody knew what I was talking about.) Dragon*Con etc sell the right to see stars in person.

Craig R. @ 305: I've read that Dragon*Con has lower fees than Worldcon -- although the membership fee isn't much of the expense attending Worldcon for people who don't focus on doing it as cheaply as possible.

Cath @ 339: movies are a lot harder to censor after release than books; they have a lot of weight behind them, so a random wowser can't just flame one overworked librarian or inattentive board and get something banned. Also, have you looked up the history? The modern system started with linear ratings 40 years ago, and has been in some ways pried open by people unhappy that serious violence isn't considered as disqualifying (of a most-audiences rating) than anything sexual. (This is an old problem in U.S. media; Sturgeon snarked at it ~60 years ago.)

Annie Y: However in a potluck, you cannot ask everyone to identify everything. In the US, this has become the norm in the vaguely-leftish-for-the-US circles I mostly socialize in; usually people bring cards (with lists of ingredients) that they put next to the dish, but the Thanksgiving I've been going to for 30+ years has the Ritual Listing of the Ingredients in place of grace.

#352 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 06:04 PM:

OtterB @ 350

Which was kinda where I was going - you do it often enough, things grow organically. You know which are the guys that mark food properly but you do not make it a requirement for the new guys that just moved in. You do not tell them - you cannot come because someone may be upset because you did not label your food even if the "no beans" party is calling for it. But if you are the new guy, you do not barge in and say "no beans. Only dishes I can eat need to be here" :)

A bit of an aside: Potlucks do not exist as a concept in the culture I grew up in. You can be asked to bring dessert but that is about it. So when I moved here, potlucks were a head scratcher. Labeling (to include what is inside and not a generic "potatoes") would not have crossed my mind. Or trying to figure out how we do not end up with 30 potato dishes and no salads :)

#353 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 06:17 PM:

Lady Kay, you're very welcome. :)

#354 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 06:21 PM:

Annie Y #352: "Or trying to figure out how we do not end up with 30 potato dishes and no salads"

For me, that is part of the magic of potlucks (and the Hugos). If you end up with 30 potato salads or the most diverse selection of dishes (or nominees) ever, that becomes memorable in its own right. Remember that time when...

#355 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 06:22 PM:

CHip @#351

OK - then I am seeing in the potluck analogy different things compared to what some people see. Which is fine I guess - it is the same with Worldcon after all. :)

I was typing my previous post while you were posting so did not address it there. If someone had asked me to list the ingredients in the first of those I went, I would have probably decided not to go at all. I can understand where this is coming from but it is so alien to what I think when I hear potluck (which is a foreign concept to start with) that it gets me all baffled.

Which is to say that I am probably the wrong audience to understand the metaphor anyway :) How much easier it would be with no cultural differences... :)

#356 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 06:42 PM:

Neil W, #342: Amazon tried metadata tags a few years ago, and they were almost immediately overwhelmed by spammers. LibraryThing manages to make a similar system work; I don't know what the difference is, but at a guess it might be either the size of the user base or the fact that LT is only for books, whereas Amazon has everything.

On potlucks: A lot of groups in the contradance community have evolved a standard for them of "include an ingredients card", which is widely honored by those who actually cook things. People like me, who tend to bring a package of cookies or a fruit plate from the deli, have less reason to include such a card.

CHip, #351: D*C does typically have a lower admission (membership) cost than Worldcon. So do most of the big media-cons. This is one of the issues frequently cited by younger fen as a reason that they don't attend Worldcon; to them, the cost/benefit ratio for Worldcon is a poorer ROI than the one for a media-con.

#357 ::: Jenavira ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 06:45 PM:

Cath @ 339 - I believe that mechanical solutions won't be useful without cultural change. And personally I believe that my own culture should change to be more considerate of others.

Hear hear, on both parts. This is where I extoll the values of a good readers advisory librarian - tell me you want books without radiation poisoning or spiders or guys named Gary and I will find them for you! Unfortunately the entire world does not have access to good readers advisory librarians, and the trend is toward automation anyway. The question is how to automate well. And part of that depends on the people doing the warning, the people doing the automating, and the people looking for a lever in whatever system is made that they can use for their own purposes.

I do think that last group is always going to exist, but I also think that broad cultural change is possible. We've adjusted the kind of language we use to talk about people different from ourselves to the point where racial slurs are, if not gone, at least acknowledged as unacceptable in most venues. I'd like to think of trigger warnings or content notes (the terminology Apex Magazine uses - after all, some people are looking for stories with radiation poisoning or spiders or guys named Gary, and content notes help them too) are a step along the same path, and we'll get there eventually.

Sarah @ 343 - I just want to say that I like your extension of the potluck metaphor very much, and I think it works whether we're talking about books or con panels or what have you. Most of life may not have trigger warnings on it, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't.

#358 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 07:08 PM:

Lee, #356: "D*C does typically have a lower admission (membership) cost than Worldcon. So do most of the big media-cons. This is one of the issues frequently cited by younger fen as a reason that they don't attend Worldcon; to them, the cost/benefit ratio for Worldcon is a poorer ROI than the one for a media-con."

This is no doubt true if they don't have the funds to pay for an autograph/photo and have to content themselves with seeing the stars from afar.

It's also true if their main interest is in seeing actors rather than authors, as Worldcon rarely has many of the former. And I think that this naturally skews to a younger demographic; for many of them, their main entertainment is movies, TV, and videogames, as opposed to books. For them, Worldcon would likely be rather uninteresting.

For those whose main interest is the authors, Worldcon is a much better bet because of the potential for higher-quality, longer personal interaction at no extra cost (except, perhaps, shouting an author a drink).

I personally cringe at even the thought of attending a megacon. The huge crowds, the long lines, and the impersonality of it all are a major turn-off for me. But then I usually find the creators of the fictional characters to be far more intelligent and interesting than the people who play those characters on screen.

I totally agree with the idea that Worldcon should be more inclusive of what younger people like to read; I would not, however, be in favor of trying to turn Worldcon into a con for which a large part of the emphasis is movies and TV and videogames.

Worldcon is special for a very good reason. It's very different from the big media cons -- but that is a good thing, to the people who enjoy attending Worldcon.

#359 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 07:30 PM:

Allergy warnings : ingredient lists :: trigger warnings : content tagging

In both cases, a standard of courtesy is evolving in response to awareness of a common hazard to your fellow humans. In each case, we started with an initial "responsive" form: "Jack is allergic to fish, Susan to cherries. And... hey, we got a lot of people are allergic to peanuts." "Some people have nasty reactions to reading about X", and so on.

And in both cases, there's a natural generalization, which offers other incidental benefits, but also more obligation....

There are some people who consider courtesy to be a demand made on them, and bristle at any increase in their burden of catering to other people. And then there's the people who understand what courtesy is for: It's how we get along in an increasingly big and complicated world. It helps people coexist and cooperate despite different backgrounds and stations in life. The sort of person who values cooperation and recognizes interdependence, will see the value in that. And thus their question will shift from "do I have to do this?" to "what do I need to do?" (I could do a Four Children riff on this, but that's true for many moral stances.)

#360 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 08:00 PM:

I thought about putting this in the open thread, but it fits better here: Life imitates art.

Summary: The new Mad Max movie is all about Teh Wimmenz, and the MRAs are losing their shit.

So not my thing, but my partner has the hots for Charlize Theron, so I'm going to buy a ticket for him to go see it.

#361 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 08:22 PM:

352
Well, the ones we had at work included a categorical-sign-up sheet: you put your name down for 'dessert' or 'salad' or whatever, which kept it from being too monotonous. (Some people would name the dish they'd bring.)

I think my favorite was the surprise potluck baby shower for a supervisor. Most of the food and gifts were stashed in a meeting room, and how she didn't notice the beans-n-franks in a crockpot under a desk I'll never know.

#362 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 08:47 PM:

I'm going to have to think some more about Trigger Warnings. On one hand, I do have a trigger. Descriptions of bullying or anything like bullying tend to make me fly into a rage, which in certain cases can last for days.*

On the other hand, I do feel that it's my responsibility to manage my own anger, and the idea of impeding someone else's ability to communicate the thing that interests them is completely alien to me; I value not just someone else's freedom of speech, but their freedom of speaking far more than I value my own peace of mind. So speaking as someone who can be triggered, I still dislike trigger warnings - If I'm so screwed up that I can't go to a movie or read a book without coming unglued maybe I've got some responsibility to the rest of the world to keep my own shit together, but that's a personal decision; some people have shit that's a lot deeper and uglier than mine. Your mileage may vary.

This triggered reaction is part of the reason why the Puppies piss me off so much. Their brand of assholism presses that trigger and the rage starts to build... I feel blood-red rage filling me and the space around me like an aura or a force-field. I literally feel the rage even outside my own body.

As to the idea that encountering someone's trigger is a good thing because it allows the trigger to disapate, I think this idea has some value, but only in an appropriate thereaputic environment. Simply dumping someone's angering/frightening thing on a person without preparation or warning is not likely to be helpful.

* I was far too peaceful in school; if I'd given more people the pummelling they deserved I'd have far less anger than I currently have.

#363 ::: Cath ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 08:57 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @340 & CHip @351. I infer from your comments that the history of movie ratings is not good. I won't use them an analogy for content notes henceforth. Meanwhile, Bruce Baugh @345 and Jenavira @357 have articulated what was sloshing around in my brain about helpful systems that are at the same time vulnerable to abuse. Just because systems can't be made perfect is no reason not to try and make them better. Sort of like nomination processes.

#364 ::: Sarah E. ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 09:25 PM:

Well, an acquaintance on Facebook has just gone the "damn this crazy political correctness" route regarding trigger warnings, and I've made the ingredients-list/allergy-warning analogy. We'll see if that works or if he tears a strip off me (I've never met the guy in RL -- most of online interactions have been cordial enough, except one where he thought I was criticizing his workmanship).

#365 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 10:00 PM:

jj, #358: Anecdata here, but I think still a valid consideration.

I have a good friend who is exactly the kind of person Worldcon wants to attract. He's 30ish, a big SF/F fan, and a serious reader -- more a lit-fan than a media-fan, although he enjoys both.

He's been to several Worldcons. His opinion is that they are not a good fit for him; if he didn't have a personal reason to go, he wouldn't bother. At the last one he attended, he had someone come up and thank him for "being a younger fan" -- and his mental response was, "Lady, I'm 30 years old. If that makes me a younger fan, this con has a problem." And he's also remarked about the expense, and feeling that he's spending more money for less fun than he has elsewhere.

The event he does attend every year is Phoenix Comicon (and no, he doesn't live in the Phoenix area). He has a better time there than he does at Worldcon, partly because he knows more people and partly because he doesn't feel like a little kid sitting at the grownups' table there.

When you're getting that kind of response out of the people who are your prime target audience, something is wrong.

#366 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 10:05 PM:

thirty-something fen are regularly asked, "So, how do we get younger people to come to these things?"

Sometimes I've been asked it immediately after the person asking has loudly told off a small group of teenagers who were sitting around having a roisterous (but exceedingly fannish) conversation in a convention hallway for "causing trouble".

Yeah. That's not how you do it.

#367 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 10:29 PM:

#363 ::: Cath

I don't know a lot about the history of movie ratings-- I was just talking about the impression I've gotten from them.

#368 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 10:58 PM:

@ 366 - Buddy of mine who's in her fifties turned to me at San Antonio Worldcon and said "Wow. I feel so young!"

Worldcons--in the US, let me qualify hard--and arguably lit-SF in general--have a demographic problem. Quick as I am to rally in defense of Worldcon and the Hugos, in the face of Puppies, I've kinda given up on the US ones unless I have a burning reason to be there.

(I also don't have a solution, before somebody wades in to demand that I FIX the issue I'm bringing up.)

The analogy I keep coming back to is that I'm in three gray fandoms--gardening, birding, and sff. All three are very much slanted demographically towards older participants. And in two of those, when I turn up, I am welcomed by people going "Yay!" who cannot wait to show me a semi-palmated plover through the scope, or give me a passalong plant.

(Honestly, it's a little alarming in the gardening--I had someone admire my "punk rock" gardening style awhile back, and I was left going "Uh...I dye my hair, and I did own a Lard CD* once, but let's not get nuts." I have no objection whatsoever to becoming a little old lady gardener in time, but being hailed as one of those young whippersnappers who were the hope of the future threw me for a loop. And yet they were so glad I was there, and they respected that I knew what the hell I was talking about when I said "Hey, most of the annual coreopsis won't grow in my garden." Because of course I'd know, wouldn't I?)

In SFF, on the other hand, I've actually had people yell--or, let us say, speak very determinedly in a carrying voice--that we cannot hope to have a conversation unless I am conversant in the classics of the field and what can we possibly talk about if we have not read the same things? And if something doesn't work for me, that has been...not acceptable, and it is clearly a flaw in my character and I am dismissed for it.

It's unwelcoming in a bunch of subtle ways and a few blatant ones. I mean, I haven't seen the same birds as my closest birder buddy, but we still manage. When I say "I don't get a lot of flickers in the garden for some reason," that's a statement taken at face value, not an opportunity to argue that they must really be there and I'm just stupid. And if I were growing three plants in a pot on the balcony, I could find fifty gardeners who would want to give me cuttings of plants that worked for them. It would be deeply weird to run into a gardener who went "Oh...sedums..." and wrinkled their nose and went on to tell me that their garden newsletter had a hundred subscribers and none of it by e-mail because they didn't DO e-mail.**

I think probably there was a lengthy stretch when those of us who are 30-50 now absorbed the message "Sit down and shut up, the grown-ups are talking." And instead we went out and founded other cons--furry and anime cons are well known to swamp SF cons, by starting as a programming track and then eating the parent con.

Now there's a gulf. Not everywhere, but in a lot of places. It's a problem. It's a problem, even if people see the kids of con-folk at the cons and say "Oh, well, I saw a teenager, so the kids are fine and all will be well," (as I've heard the whole situation dismissed before.)

I don't know the fix, but I strongly believe there's a problem.

*Is Lard even punk any more? I've lost track.

**A few of you just winced. Yes, he was wearing a propeller beanie, too.

#369 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 11:12 PM:

368
I do genealogy - that's another gray fandom, and has been for years.

Part of it is that older people are the ones with the time for hobbies. (And sometimes the money.)

#370 ::: Kevin Standlee ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 11:22 PM:

Chip @351:

I've read that Dragon*Con has lower fees than Worldcon....
Certainly, and if Worldcon was held in the same place every year and grew to 50K people, the membership cost per person would go down. As it happens, the current size of Worldcon is at a very bad place on a power curve. It's big enough to incur large fixed charges but not big enough to spread those costs out enough to bring the cost per member down to something closer to what either smaller or larger conventions have.

The oversimplification is that if you want the cost per member of Worldcon to go down, you either have to limit it to about half its current size or double it to about twice its current size. And limiting wouldn't really work because you'd just create a secondary market for memberships that would drive the actual cost back up to the current cost as demand chased supply.

#371 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2015, 11:26 PM:

#369 ::: P J Evans :::

That is certainly true. My friends (the ones my age - thirty something) are either dealing with small children or are building a career and paying off a house or sometimes both. 5 days off home and a lot of money for the con, the travel and the accommodations is just not going to happen.

I personally loved both the worldcons I got to (Chicago and London) and did not feel as if I was in the wrong place. Admittedly, I did not really participate in a lot of fanish activities and everyone has different expectations - but just thought I should add this as a reference point.

#372 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 12:03 AM:

I should add, to my above commentary, that there are TONS of welcoming people in SFF, many ML's very much included. It's not a lack of them, by any stretch, it's more that there's a much higher percentage of the unfortunate experiences in SFF compared to any of my other older-skewed fandoms.

I don't know why that is. I do recall a friend saying "So-and-so won't even TALK to you until you've been nominated for a Hugo," and thinking "There is absolutely no equivalency in birding. I mean, nobody shows up who won't even talk to you unless you can tell the difference between Empidonax flycatchers."

Whether it's a cultural difference between fandoms or something else, I couldn't begin to guess. It's a little weird, though.

#373 ::: Kevin Standlee ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 12:13 AM:

Ursula V @368:

Worldcons--in the US, let me qualify hard--and arguably lit-SF in general--have a demographic problem.
Yes, we do: We aren't dying fast enough. That is, we came to this fandom often relatively young and never left. Meanwhile, some of these other pop-culture genre fandoms are something people come into as teenagers and then they leave a few years later, replaced by more young people.

There is one other thing about Worldcon in particular: because it travels around so much, and because travel isn't necessarily cheap, and because a significant portion of the attendees (although rarely a majority) are people who can afford the travel, there's a tendency for the membership to in general be a little older and more affluent than the typical fixed-location pop-culture gate show.

I don't mean to be dismissive, but the complaints about the greying of fandom were old hat forty years ago, and probably longer than that. The only way to make the average age younger would be to prohibit older fans from attending. I hope nobody is proposing a Logan's Run-style "solution" to the greying of fandom!

#374 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 12:33 AM:

@ 373 Kevin, please, let me assure you that I am certainly not hoping that you die faster! (And barring a few individuals whom charity prevents me from even thinking the names of, I don't actually think increased premature mortality would help.)

I can't speak to forty years ago, of course--perhaps it has been ever thus. Still, to hear my friends who are older and have attended worldcons past tell it, there is a marked difference.

Gardening, at least, is getting a tide of younger adherents with the rise of the local food movement, which had nothing to do with gardening's glorious history or the fact that older gardeners didn't die fast enough. Most of us do not much care about Versailles or the history of narcissus cultivation, but nevertheless, the overlap of interests has started to shift the ages younger. (Also, weird big survivalist contingent. Go figure. But people who will fight like cats in a sack over whether growing air potato is ecologically sound because you can't tell me what to plant, 'Murica, will still turn around and send you seeds. I freely admit, gardeners are weird.)

I won't swear that we won't see a similar demographic shift for Worldcons. I'd be surprised, but hey, I've been wrong so many times that one more on the pile won't be significant.

#375 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 12:58 AM:

I feel a lot of solidarity with Ursula on this. Kevin's response illustrates a significant part of the problem very well.

(Also, if you don't drink and prefer not to be around people getting massively drunk, a lot of the social life of sf cons is just closed to you. My family has a tragic history with alcohol abuse, and I have health problems that seize on alcohol as one of many excuses to get worse.)

#376 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 01:03 AM:

One thing I like to do at cons is sit somewhere and knit and talk and watch people go by. (Hotel lobbies are good for this. Convention centers tend to not have so many good places to sit and watch.) Part of this is that I go into overload from Too Much [people|noise] and sitting in a lobby is calming.

#377 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 01:13 AM:

My current take on the problem facing sf cons that isn't facing gardening and birding, so nearly as I know: the assumption of comprehensive expertise. For the first few decades of Worldcon, you could read every work likely to be cited as worthy, both novels and shorter work. That hasn't been possible for...well, for most or all of Ursula's lifetime, at a minimum. But there's a whole lot of fannish structure and discourse that takes that kind of comprehensive expertise as a baseline, with lapses from it being something that you either lie about to cover over or treat as a deficiency.

Now, maybe gardening and birding have that. But my impression is that nobody would seriously expect to see, say, every bird in the world. And they're not likely to say that few are going to say that only the birds it's feasible for them to see are real birds of significance, and all the rest are trash or tangential or whatever. The core sf fandom doesn't seem to me to really have a set of attitudes and expectations to deal with the reality that two people can read a whole lot of really good stuff and maybe have little or even no overlap, that this is normal, and that it's going to be like this off into the indefinite future.

#378 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 01:47 AM:

Tom Whitmore @ 317

Somehow missed that last night. Will do. Please do not mind me looking as if someone is about to shoot me when I say hi though - I tend to have issues meeting new people :)

P J Evans @ 376

Well, I never thought of that - instead of hiding in my room, finding a quiet place in a lobby with my cross stitching may actually work :) Although I need first to convince myself that people won't laugh me for doing that... oh well. Thanks for sharing this though - gives me an idea.

Kevin @ 373

So sounds like no world domination for the 30-somethings. Oh well - maybe next decade. :) Now seriously:
The worldcon won't be the same without the old guard - the people that had been around since forever and can start talking about a story that happened decades ago with authors you could never meet.

Besides - it is not just SFF fandom that is greying. Being a fan for a lot of people today means liking a few authors only. Or a single one. It takes a while to discover that SFF is a lot bigger than Twilight. Worldcon has a lot of programming which is targeting the people that know the genre - but not as much that would welcome younger people. Don't get me wrong - I like a lot of panels, usually cannot go to all the ones I want to but part of it is because I have no friends I can talk to(or listen) on these topics. I do not think that it needs to change and go away from books but when a panel requires a lot of knowledge from the past and the classic SF (or start discussing references that you cannot catch because you are not that well read in the genre), it kinda makes people not really interested. And for me - the programming is part of what makes Worldcon worth its fee - as long as it is accessible. I think I am pretty well read in the genre and I got constantly lost on panels when people talk about things - panel on things I care about. I don't just walk out because I can look it up later but... there is a point at which it just gets tedious.

OK. Ranting mode off. Sorry. Just had to say that - if we are on the topic anyway:)

#379 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 02:14 AM:

Bruce, #375: I'm going to have to disagree with you about the alcohol thing -- or at least note that it's heavily con-dependent. I don't drink, not for health reasons, but because I just can't stand the taste of alcohol -- and I've never had any problem finding other people to hang out with at cons who aren't "only here for the beer" (or the booze). Most of my friends will drink moderately because they're at the con for the socialization and they want to be conscious enough to enjoy it.

Some cons (*cough*Chattacon*cough) do tend to be worse than others, and any con can unexpectedly end up with a "how fast can we get how many people how drunk" party -- but that party usually isn't the only game in town. I generally hang out at the parties promoting other regional cons, and they always have soft drinks and water available.

Shorter me: as a non-drinker who doesn't like hanging around with blitzed people, I haven't found the social scene at cons unavailable to me in any way, for 40 years.

Annie, #378: Depending on the con, you may even find a "crafters' corner" where a bunch of people are sitting around working on knitting or cross-stitch or whatever. The filkroom, oddly enough, is often one of those places because it's well-lit and working on your project doesn't interfere with being able to listen!

#380 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 02:24 AM:

Lee @379, The filkroom? I never check these - I am awful at singing and I think (sounds like should change this to "thought") that if you go there, you kinda need to participate and sing. Sounds like I need to reconsider this position...

Thanks to everyone for being so patient with me by the way - I know that a lot of the things I do not know are things you had explained to a lot of people before.

#381 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 02:55 AM:

MickyFinn ::: #315

"Where do I go for being hit on the head lessons?"

Thread 770

#382 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 03:21 AM:

Lee, I'm genuinely pleased to hear that others haven't had the same problem. It was enough of an issue for me at a variety of cons of various sizes from a couple hundred up to Westercon, across a big chunk of a decade, that it contributed hugely to my deciding not to keep trying. But that's my experience, and really, I like knowing others have had better.

#383 ::: MickyFinn ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 03:24 AM:

Annie Y: I don't inhabit fandom's filk spaces much, but I have spent my share of time in SCAdian filk spaces.

They're definitely most welcoming and inviting to those who do all the filking, writing and singing, but I've never had a problem just hanging out and listening, or in the times when I've written filk, I've usually been able to find someone with actual musical talent to take care of the singing part of the equation.

(I am woeful at singing)

#384 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 03:27 AM:

Annie Y #378 -
in re knitting, crochet, needlepoint, etc: I can't give you a guarantee, but I'd expect that you would get a lot of polite people who you have never met before say "That looks really nice" and another group who will ask if you will be there for a bit, so they can go and get *theirs* and would you mind if they joined you?

#385 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 06:51 AM:

Annie Y, 378: Seconding what Craig R just said. And there are cons where half the audience is doing some kind of fiber crafting--knitting, crocheting, spinning, stitching...it's just another kind of geekery, after all!

#386 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 07:01 AM:

Bruce Baugh #375:

That's been my primary issue with cons as well.

I don't drink for what are apparently weird reasons, judging from the responses I've gotten. I hate the flavor of alcohol and dislike intensely the feeling it and other drugs give. I find drunk people boring to talk to.

So that aspect of conventions had never appealed to me.

I'm also an extremely early riser and turn in relatively early as well.

Cons are less fun when one has five hours of nothing happening and no one to talk to after breakfast and all the good stuff happens after one retires for the night.

#387 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 07:36 AM:

@368 This has been my impression as well, especially with my local SF con. Some of the older regulars didn't bother to learn my name until I was published.

And I don't think it's simply the age of the regulars that's the problem. I just started attending a local spinning and weaving guild, which is almost entirely made of women who are older than my mother. They are the most wonderful, welcoming people I've met in a long time.

I'm constantly asking them, "wait, what does that mean?" and they have never once treated it as anything other than a chance to share the joy of their hobby with a newbie. For that, I will love them forever.

(full disclosure: I'm a millennial. gasp horror.)

#388 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 08:13 AM:

Part of the issue of recruiting into congoing fandom for, yes, the past 20-30 years or so, is the difference in how fannish people (people who like interacting with the things they like in the ways that fen do -- going on and on about their details, writing fics, fanwanking headcanon fixes to continuity problems, cosplay, art, etc) find Community That Feeds Their Soul.

Once upon a time, if you were a kid who liked reading SF and maybe even watching the couple of SF shows on TV, you were often the only one "like that" you knew, or one of a couple in your school. When you went to college you suddenly found A CLUB, with people who liked what you liked and could pass you around copies of things and engage you in all kinds of squee.

Somebody in your college SF club knew about cons and dragged other people along to help split the room and make it cheaper. They taught you how to volunteer (also making it cheaper) and where to get food for the weekend.

By the time you left college, you often had fannish friends that you only knew through conventions, so you tended to keep going (and maybe to learn how to help run them).

Starting strongly in the 90s, you could find friends on the internet who were into what you were into, and feed your soul without ever going into the same room as them. And maybe your BBS or newsgroup had a meetup.

Sometimes a member of those groups would go, "Hey, cons!" and help a group of their friends bootstrap into attendance, but it was rarer. I only got to my first con because my stepmom bought me a membership.

If you don't have a gaggle of excited friends coming with you, a first con can be lonely and really hard to figure out Where They Keep The Fun.

Especially compared to a tumblr meetup or other gathering of People You Already Are Heart's-Kin To.

There is a little bit of mid-90s conrunners shutting out people my age (at least in Chicago, because there mostly weren't staffing problems; the people in the last cohort of Joined Through Clubs were a numerous enough fannish generation that they weren't burnt out and could take, and level up their skills in, most of the senior jobs, leaving only repeated low-level volunteering for incomers unless the incomers suddenly made friends with the top-level folks).

Now, however, that group, the ones who were in all the concom positions when I joined fandom, are burning out and having lives and families and would really, really like to pass off some of the responsibility to the successors they largely didn't train -- at least, not in the mass numbers necessary to prevent burnout among THEM.

The pipeline got leaky. And if you came up in the SF Club era, it makes no sense why we're not still getting a hot-and-cold-running-firehose of excited new college kids coming into con fandom. They're doing all the same things! They're enacting the "throw a convention and kids will enjoy it" ritual! And yet, it isn't working ...

#389 ::: thewildhare ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 09:00 AM:

On Cons:
I want them to be vibrant engaging healthy and inclusive, and so will do my bit to help that happen. Three quick comments on my DragonCon experiences - not defending one con over the other, because my experience is very limited at this point. Rather, just sharing a few observations from my narrow viewpoint -
- There is a large mix of older and younger fans. In fact, my grandchildren attend and there is plenty of great fannishness for them to get in to - so I like the lots of ages enjoying SF/F in all its various ways idea. In fact, we started attending specifically to encourage the geek in our grands. :)
- Attending the authors track in previous years has been excellent for smaller rooms and very engaged fans, a nice break from the crowdy-crowd parts, so that's nice.
- I am painfully shy, much as I have worked to overcome it. Its an interesting thing, to find anonymity in the crowd. Hard to find that same degree of comfort in a room with 20 people. Kind of makes me nervous for a smaller con environment - not that I am not going to try it - just sayin.

#390 ::: Elisa ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 09:46 AM:

It is a tack sign of the lack of quality that it is virtually impossible to actually have a sustained discussion about most of the nominated work ?

I can't join in discussion of the novels since I haven't finished them yet, and there really does not seem to be anything interesting to discuss about the shorter works.

This isn't normal, is it ?

#391 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 10:01 AM:

Elisa, the refusal by their advocates to have any substantial discussion about the quality and merits of so much nominated work is very unusual. Very, very unusual. Normally there'd be a bunch of conversations like the ones here about The Three-Body Problem and "The Day The World Turned Upside Down".

#392 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 10:06 AM:

(And also the stories themselves offering so little to say beyond "yup, that's a message" and "yup, that's terrible writing".)

#393 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 10:16 AM:

Bruce Baugh @391 - I think there's a consensus emerging that The Three-Body Problem is something of a flawed work - but there is still a great deal of discussion to be had about how and where it is flawed, and what flaws we might want to forgive it because of its strengths, and where those lie, and etc., etc. There is meat in that discussion.

By comparison... there really doesn't seem to be much to say about most of the short fiction entries. And, yes, if some advocate turned up to support one of them - with an actual argument, not just some assertion that "(story X) is good" - then we could have a discussion about that. But there is no sign of that happening.

#394 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 10:25 AM:

Lee @356:

LibraryThing manages to make a similar system work; I don't know what the difference is, but at a guess it might be either the size of the user base or the fact that LT is only for books, whereas Amazon has everything

Size of the user base is a big one, I think. Another part of it is that in order to tag something in on LT, you need to have it in your library there; it cuts down on tags-as-vandalism when people need to actually put the book in their library to do so. That keeps people who actually have a connection to LT from doing so; the small userbase and thus the small impact keeps the non-LT trolls from creating an account just to mess with it.

#395 ::: Kevin Standlee ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 11:24 AM:

Bruce Baugh @375:

if you don't drink and prefer not to be around people getting massively drunk, a lot of the social life of sf cons is just closed to you.
Hm, that's funny. I don't like the taste of alcohol and thus don't drink it. Like Lee @379, I've never felt particularly closed out of the social life of SF conventions.

Now at one time I was hosting parties promoting certain things and not serving any alcohol. A bunch of people came in and said, "Where's the booze?"

I said, "We're not serving any. Would you have been interested in joining [thing I was promoting] if we were?"

"Hell, no!"

"Well, why should we bother serving it, then?"

"This sucks!" followed by them leaving.

Frankly, I don't want people coming to my parties whose only interest is getting hammered.

-=-=-=-

Regarding turnover and training the next generation: The area of my specialization (WSFS Business) doesn't have a lot of people willing and interested in it. (I'll be the first to admit that it's pretty geeky even for geeky people.) There aren't more than half a dozen people in fandom I'd be comfortable running our Business Meetings, and until recently, all of them were older than me. You can ask Jesi Pershing how delighted I was to find someone in the generation behind me with an interest in the subject, and I'm actively encouraging her and Jared Dashoff (my deputy this year; we switch places for next year's meeting in KC) to form the core of the next generation of meeting-runners. And if there are other people who show both the interest and the skill, I want to hear about them. Now, we just need someone interested in doing the hardest job: BM Secretary.

#396 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 12:02 PM:

Given how much I hear other writers talking about going to "barcon," I can imagine a nondrinker feeling uncomfortable and/or excluded. Speaking for myself, I haven't figured out how one is supposed to socialize at a normal bar, much less a bar full of my heroes.

I have a vivid memory from the one World Fantasy con I attended of seeing half a dozen of my favorite writers sitting around a single table at the bar. It was simultaneously really cool and terrifying.

#397 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 12:03 PM:

378
I knit on the train to and from work - it was 40 minutes - so I'm used to knitting where people might or might not notice. Socks and scarves are good for that kind of thing. Or cat toys (down the page a bit).

#398 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 12:06 PM:

I've never had a problem with not drinking alcohol at a convention. There are lots of people who aren't there to get drunk - and alcohol is usually an option at parties, not a requirement. (The soft drink and water consumption is astonishing.)

#399 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 12:12 PM:

PJ: There's two things with me, though. First, alcohol fumes in moderate concentrations make me sick and eventually send me off into episodes that it takes an EEG to distinguish from true seizures. Second, I am prone to PTSD-y freakouts at some kinds of drunken behavior, thanks to associations with familial tragedy from it. These are stronger constraints than simply not wanting to drink myself, and I don't pretend otherwise.

#400 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 12:29 PM:

399
Bruce, I've never noticed those things. It's possible I'm missing stuff, but I'm pretty much a non-drinker, and I do notice the smell of alcohol.
Or maybe I'm never at parties where drinking is the entertainment of choice. (I think the closest I came was the Calgary party where they were offering small samples of chile vodka - I have a 'lab rat' ribbon from that!)

#401 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 12:35 PM:

P J Evans#400: That was a topic shift on his part -- crossing over to the discussion on trigger warnings, his issues go well beyond "not wanting to drink himself", so he needs to avoid the scene.

#402 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 12:36 PM:

I want to say, quite tactfully and gently, to remember that people's statements of their experiences are their own, and are to be treated as true and honest expressions of such.

I am genuinely not sub-modding at anyone at all. But there's a subtle but painful tension here between people who have had good experiences at, and identify with the success of, conventions and those who have had...other experiences. I think it's a necessary tension, in that it's a reflection of an underlying gulf in our community.

But it's worth taking an extra moment to make sure you're reading very, very generously and commenting in a way to leave space for people who have had different experiences.

#403 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 12:48 PM:

Kevin, #395: Ooh, nice snark!

To the alcohol discussion I will add that its relative importance in the scheme of things has greatly lessened since I first started attending cons. It used to be that pretty much every con I went to served beer (at least) in the consuits; this custom has largely disappeared since the late 80s due to liability issues, although some cons still do it. (Chattacon still serves both beer and hard liquor in the consuite, but they have a draconian set of policies and requirements around it which are prominently posted and vigorously enforced.)

These days, alcohol is pretty well limited to room parties on the one hand, and the people who want to hang out in the bar on the other. Room parties, as noted above, almost always have non-alcoholic beverages freely available (and the ones that don't, I avoid). A lot of the people at the bar are there because they want to have their favorite mixed drink while chatting with their friends, and are not especially interested in getting plastered. While some authors (and fans) are notable lushes, I'd call them the exception, not the rule.

What it boils down to is that there are a lot of different kinds of people at a con, and if you don't want to hang out with one kind, poke around a bit and you'll probably find another group which isn't like that.

Bruce, #399: Yeah, that does put you under somewhat tighter constraints than average. Sympathies.

#404 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 01:13 PM:

I'm another non-drinker who has actually "hung out in the bar" on occasion--rarely, and usually at the end of the con, when things are winding down. I never felt excluded, though I can see how the "small group" atmosphere of the bar might be off-putting for many, especially new con-goers. Mostly, everyone was so tired that it was pretty calm; I imagine it was louder earlier in the weekend, and that could easily become problematic. Con suites--well, at the bigger cons, my experience is that the con suite was big enough that even if it served alcohol, it was possible to sit and talk in a group and avoided the fumes and the drunks. (I too sympathize, Bruce: the atmosphere can get awfully thick on occasion.) If things got too drunken, so to speak, I got up and went elsewhere--lots of elsewheres at most cons! (Usually the filkroom for me, which sometimes had people drinking but much more quietly passing a bottle than drunken roistering. Annie Y, I can also testify that you don't need to sing to enjoy filking--I can't carry a tune in a bucket. I always bring my knitting--I take my knitting everywhere at cons--sit in a corner, and listen appreciatively. My experience is that Audiences Are Always Welcome.)

Sarah: Your experience at World Fantasy Con is similar to mine. However, World Fantasy is a bit of an oddball con; it's pretty small (I think the membership cap is 1000) and tends to have more pros per square foot than two or three "regular" small cons put together. I've enjoyed the ones I've attended, as fan and as pro, but good grief the experience can be intimidating.

#405 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 01:14 PM:

David, I get that. (I'm one of the people who grew up walking into the doctor's office and smelling the alcohol from the waiting room.)

But I have to say that the whole go-to-a-convention-to-drink thing is outside my comprehension (along with going to a wedding reception to drink, and all the other excuses people use.)
And there need to be alcohol-free-party floors.

#406 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 01:38 PM:

Con-running:
I haven't *seen* the shun-by-age thing in the Boston convention scene (alas, all I've been able to be involved with over the last few decades, what with kids and mortgage and the we-needa-new-roof event and the we-needa-new-furnace event and the multiple I-can't-get-that-harp-this-year-thank-you-mr-autombile events, rinse-and-repeat.)

Now, it very well is happening that we don't have a really high proportion of the under-30 types. I do know that I've been fretting a lot because my "home convention" (ARISIA doesn't seem to be able to, as Arthur said about Merlin, youthen. Thankfully, there are some new and younger people coming in, so it's not as dire as it could be. Having been through a major con's meltdown (Hiya, CHip!) I'd rather not see another.

I think one of the harder things for long-term con-runners to do is either break out of their rut of competence ("john Q. has been running registration for so long it doesn't even hiccup when the hotel power fails" "Harry knows where all the electrical drops are, and which ones won't trip a breaker if you put three 40-watt bulbs on at once"), gracefully drop back to another department or accept a post with less responsibility/authority in the same department. We *know* How To Do These Things and we fret to see someone else doing it, even if they are competent, and especially if they don't Do It The Right Way (that is, the way *we* did it, which is, of course, the only One True Faith Way)

In some ways I think the "you're not important enough" isn't anything endemic to conventions, or even to the Olde Fartes. At one of the first conventions I'd helped with, as a simple/interchangeable volunteer, the divhead where I'd spent the most time told me to go up to the dead-dog party, meet people, relax and have fun (my first chance to try schmoozing! WooHoo!). There were a couple of people with "staff" ribbons who declared that, as "just a volunteer" I didn't "qualify" to attend. The Con Chair was near enough to overhear and told me to just go into the room, there was no problem. Then she took the staffers aside and There Were Words.

It's nothing nefarious, it's nothing cultural, it's just one of the warts on human nature.

#407 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 01:53 PM:

Annie Y @355: Did you grow up with the Kniga? (Kniga o vkusnoi i zdorovoi pishche, the Soviet Book of Tasty and Healthy Food, which contained recipes from around the Soviet Union, and which explains why -- for example -- Ukrainians love pilaf, and so on.)The reason I ask, is one of those dishes is Salat Olivier, aka "Russian Salad" in countries outside of the Iron Curtain; it's a version of potato salad.

No, there really is no Eastern European phenomenon like the potluck, which is -- IIRC -- derived from a Pacific Northwestern word, "potlatch", and is a home-grown American cultural Thing. The closest culturally similar approach would be Stone Soup, if you have that story in your family. It may also be called Cabbage Soup, but most versions of the story seem to be Stone Soup...

I've accidentally been to a World Con, in Baltimore -- 1985? I've attended some other smaller cons here and there, and don't drink alcohol mainly because it's not a big thing for me, but also because there's the family history of susceptibility, so avoiding drinking overall makes life easier. If folks like Bruce need to avoid even the fumes, then I agree that we should have non-alcohol areas for socializing "after hours". I find tobacco smoke to be similarly dangerous to breathe, and in the past, ended up avoiding smokers in the poorly ventilated indoor areas, or not going places because I knew there'd be lots of smokers around. (I'm so sensitive to smoke that I would walk past my son after he'd visited friends or family, and have to tell him to change his clothing.)

#408 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 02:09 PM:

Ginger (407): The Baltimore Worldcon was 1983. My first Worldcon. (I was in college in DC at the time.)

#409 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 02:12 PM:

Bruce -
I understand that your reasons for avoiding alcohol presence are likely not the same, but, for several years I lived with a lady who was in recovery.

It can get annoying when you want to socialize, but people Just Don't Get It, and say things like "But you/she don't have to *actually* drink anything, ya know?"

#410 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 02:24 PM:

Mary Frances, #404: AIUI, World Fantasy isn't really a "con" in the sense that we're discussing here -- it's more of a trade show, focused primarily on the authors and publishers rather than the fans. The similarity of names to Worldcon is unfortunate, but it's far too late to fix that now.

#411 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 02:30 PM:

Mary Aileen @408: I was in college in Towson at the time! Small world.

#412 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 02:31 PM:

Lee @ 410: Yeah, I'd agree. In any case, it's fair to say that World Fantasy is just "different." I have friends who attended one and have since refused to go back (no big reaction--they just didn't enjoy themselves all that much); if it had been their first convention, I can see the experience turning them away from con-culture more significantly.

#413 ::: Jenora Feuer ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 03:10 PM:

Replying to a few things here:

The whole trigger warning/allergy alert comparison is good for some people, but there are still people who will go 'Oh, but if you try it, I'm sure you will like it' and will try to sneak food to someone who has declared they are allergic to it. Some people just don't grasp the idea that 'food allergy' can mean something more serious than 'I don't like it'. Sure, it's less common than it used to be, but there are still people who will actively lie about allergens because they don't believe anyone can mean it.

My average alcohol intake is about one drink per month. I tend not to trawl the hallways for room parties at cons. That said, I've been going to cons for about thirty years now, and have rarely felt left out of social events because of it. Mostly because the sort of social event where people would look down on you for not drinking involves people I'm not sure I would want to be social with.

With regards to groups together and burnout, I've been through that a couple of times. I joined WatSFiC, the University of Waterloo Science Fiction Club, right about the time the entire group of people who had been running the club all graduated at once. I walked into one meeting in the summer term a few minutes late, and got asked if I wanted to be treasurer. I said sure, and got acclaimed.

Five years later I told people that I was going to be graduating and refused to run for President again on the grounds that somebody else had to learn how to do that job. I was willing to stay as secretary and adviser for my last term, but somebody was going to have to learn how to do this job after I left.

I've seen cons that take similar stances: at least one con up in Ottawa made it part of their by-laws that nobody could stand as con chair more than two consecutive years. A lot of the more recent cons, even the more literary style cons, have learned lessons from past cons that fell apart.

Then again, I live in Toronto, and not only is Toronto large enough to support several local cons of various sorts, but there's enough overlap between the Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa area crowds that most of the conrunners know each other and share notes (and warning lists).

#414 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 03:30 PM:

The one con I helped run... ... ... look, it was a big deal when all of the staffers were old enough to drink, ok? ;)

#415 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 03:44 PM:

Steve Wright @393 "I think there's a consensus emerging that The Three-Body Problem is something of a flawed work - but there is still a great deal of discussion to be had about how and where it is flawed, and what flaws we might want to forgive it because of its strengths, and where those lie, and etc., etc. There is meat in that discussion."

I haven't quite gotten to it yet, but one of the things that I will be keeping my eyes open for is whether things that first appear as flaws are more that it's an artifact from another culture.

#416 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 03:49 PM:

Sarah @414:

The one con I helped run... ... ... look, it was a big deal when all of the staffers were old enough to drink, ok? ;)

Massive respect. Working on the only one I've helped run (a gaming convention) certainly made most of the committee turn to drink.

#417 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 03:55 PM:

OUr local con (all around 400 people on good years) has a pretty good young contingent-- but a) a lot of that is the kids of people who started it, which makes it easier to treat them as people who might just know a thing or two (or at least treat them like you don't want Mama Bear to come after you later for telling her son he's not Fan enough.) Ths also means a lot of younger fen started volunteering under parents and/or friends of parents and so had an "in" to the parts of conrunning that are fun, and nobody is left with the impression the younger ones are uninvolved or different. The exceptions, the genuine newcomers, are also somewhat protected by this. Sadly, this effect does not scale to Worldcon size and the encounters with strangers.

B) it also has a strong media angle (including anime) and more focus on that and cosplay than on the author GoH or the panels. I a way I wouldn't want to see at Worldcon.

C) It considers itself an SF-themed party con more than anything else. At least one out of town person invited in by fellow filkers was thoroughly put off by this emphasis when she e-mailed questions about activities and volunteering and got little else but parties in response. I would be, too, if I didn't know that the other things, like genuinely interesting panels, low-key book-related stuffs, and lots and lots of filk, ARE present, just not emphasized.

But Drinking is very common, and after the dinner hour, and barring the masquerade and some late-night fanfic silliness on Saturday night (Eye of Argon reading!), there's often not much to do that doesn't involve sitting in a consuite on the suite floor, which means alcohol and drunken behaviour is immediate and present, even if the suite you're in is a quiet haven (and there are several, at least until Sunday night).

Anyhow, to vaguely trail back to my point, while all the things that seem to draw and keep our younger fan contingents are present at the worldcon I attended, I suspect the proportion of time and attention they're given is very different. As just one example, the dance I attended for an hour or so at worldcon had about the same attendance as our local post-masquerade dance. and I know I wouldn't want those things to eat up more of Worldcon in faint hope of drawing a different demographic.

And besides, there are younger members who don't like those things, and would rather sing or geek out on books, or talk fine point of costumes, and just need older members to treat them like they have something to say.

#418 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 03:57 PM:

I saw what went on backstage for Chicago's 2012 worldcon just for the Hugo Ceremony. I'd say that con folks deserved to be thanked, glitches or no glitches.

#419 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 04:01 PM:

And RE: discussion of books, there WAS a stretch last year among the puppy visitors where the puppy-nominated stories, even VD's, got discussed as to what their merits are. It devolved into other stuff, but it happened. And the devolution may have dissuaded more people than Making Light regulars from trying this year.

Of course, that doesn't pardon puppies elsewhere for apparently failing to have salient things to say about these works they ostensibly love.

#420 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 04:05 PM:

Ginger @ 407
Yes (on the salad) and no (on the book). Bulgarians tend to be very proud with our cuisine so all the books we had were Bulgarian (plus my mother was a pastry chef (the going to school for that for 4 years, doing specializations every couple of years and then winning competitions type and her training also had included normal chef training to some extent so our cooking books were the professional ones). I've seen the book though - a lot of people had it. The Russian salad (under this name even though we were behind the Iron Curtain) was a stable for any celebration though (minus apples and plus hard salami(in the place of the chicken/ham)). :) Did my question about potatoes and salads give me away? :) I have a very strong suspicion that even the "bring the dessert" was not really the norm - but my Mom's profession made it the norm for when we were visiting. It's considered an offense if you bring food unasked - you are criticizing the hosts.

No stone or cabbage soup traditions either - not in my part of the country anyway. If you are the host, you provide all the food. That's it.

Re: The Crafting-corners and what's not

Somehow it never really crossed my mind that the SFF conventions and the needlepoint/cross-stitching somehow cross. So never looked for anyone doing anything on a con (let alone in the filking rooms). We need a "unofficial guide to conventions for newbies" - I may have 4 behind me (Eurocon, 2 Worldcons and a World Fantasy (which I loved by the way)) and I loved them but sounds like there is a lot of things I did not know even to look for. So thanks everyone.

Re: Alcohol

Add me to the "I am not drinking" crowd, please - a glass of wine once in a blue moon is my drinking limit these days. Which is why I never went to any parties in cons (well - that, and the fact that I really do not do well in crowded spaces where I do not know anyone).

#421 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 04:10 PM:

Another thing to keep in mind is that not all conventions are identical. I know from my own heavy con-going days (in my twenties, with a flexible part-time job, my own car, and a bunch of friends to go with, back in the days when both gas and hotel room prices were cheaper) that the various Boston-Washington corridor local cons (Boskone, Arisia, Lunacon, Philcon, Baliton, Disclave, and the occasional smaller con) all had their own distinct characters. And I never even got to any midwest, west coast, or southern local conventions. Wouldn’t surprise me at all if some cons were drinkier than others.

#422 ::: ULTRAGOTHA ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 04:14 PM:

I'm with Peace Is My Middle Name. I don't like most alcohol, I don't like getting more than mildly relaxed.

I started early on the "ignore the alcohol" thing. There was an SF writer in my town who hosted parties once a month or so. If my parents had known what happened there (around me, never to me) I would never have been able to go again.

I was very fortunate to have two adult crowds I hung around in as a minor who did *very* adult things but never ever expected that I would participate in, or in some cases even know about, what was going on.

Having fun while ignoring the alcohol became second nature. Easy to do at con parties.

I realize it's not so easy for everyone. I've had to deal, as A Person In Charge, with people who *press* alcohol on others. Not cool. One "no thanks" should be sufficient. Do not insist or even offer a second time.

As the night wears on, I appreciate parties with very little alchohol more and more. It is harder to have a good time around falling down drunks.

#423 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 04:32 PM:

Jenora Feuer #413: Sure, it's less common than it used to be, but there are still people who will actively lie about allergens because they don't believe anyone can mean it.

At this point, anyone who does that is beyong the pale. And should be warned that their predecessors have lately faced manslaughter charges or worse. Also, these are not people you want to hang out with.

#424 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 05:12 PM:

I attended a World Fantasy Convention with a newborn baby. It was surreal having so many legends cooing.

I can see why such a convention would not be everyone's cup of tea, but I found it relaxing and enjoyable.

#425 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 05:33 PM:

I'm a "lost generation"/Generation X non-congoer, for whatever reason. SF Cons, to me, feel like they would be a chance to get together with strangers and reminisce about all the fun times they had.

I'm seeing excuses and explanations that just don't work for me. @358, "And I think that this naturally skews to a younger demographic; for many of them, their main entertainment is movies, TV, and videogames, as opposed to books."

My immediate response was "You mean the Harry Potter generation?"

@ 368: Yes! I saw Tomorrowland at Disney World, in the "We haven't changed anything since Walt died" years (1994 maybe?) and a lot of the "Classics of the genre" feel like that. If that's the SF you want to talk about, maybe it's on you to read new stuff. "The Gernsback Continuum" had a point, and that was published more than 30 years ago.

@369: "older people are the ones with time for hobbies." Older people. Are the ones. With time. For hobbies. Most of these costumes are, I believe, handmade by the people wearing them.

I don't know how you get a 45-year-old like me, or a 25-year-old, or a 20-year old to come to a SF convention and have a good time. I mean, I'm here. I know you guys. It should be an easy sell. Sell me.

#426 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 05:34 PM:

In re cons and alcohol: I mostly don't drink, and due to childhood events "dark rooms full of drunk people" are uncomfortable and anxiety-making for me.

I have attended perhaps four parties at cons on the party floors in the entire 20+ (gasp, it really is, now) years I've been attending cons.

There are plenty of things to do at night at a con that do not involve going to the party floors. You can sit in the anime or movie room (if they have one). You can hang out with the filkers, who WILL be up all night. You can go to gaming, to play or to kibitz any of the range of things going on there. You can sit in the consuite and watch conversation come past you on its way to the snacks and soda.

You can even just pick a spot on a main traffic route, sit in a comfy hotel-provided seat (there are usually some nearby), do handwork, and wait for people who are Interested In That Sort Of Thing to approach you.

I find that changing the strings on my guitar will reliably draw kibitzers with whom I can socialize. :->

#427 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 05:38 PM:

I've been thinking about what would be needed to have an alcohol-free convention, and I think, to start with, you need a cooperative venue, and second, good security, to handle the inevitable person who decides that the 'no alcohol' rule doesn't apply to them.

(This while doing very tedious editing on the computer. When 6/7 of the file gets deleted....)

#428 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 05:53 PM:

425
Well, not-working-but-having-money people, then.

For me, it's always been that I have time, or I have money, but not usually both at the same time.
(Or, why I don't go to conventions, or even the local club. Years of (a) living way out of the area, (b) having to get up way too early in the morning, and (c) really not wanting to drive at night, resulted in me dropping out of them.)

#429 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 05:59 PM:

@425 I am wildly biased towards anime cons, because those are my first love, but for me the biggest draw is being around happy people. The sheer amount of love crammed into a single space at a convention ...! It's wonderful. I remember one time I was doing line control and I noticed that one of the people was wearing a strangely familiar kigurumi (animal pajamas).

I said, "Are you a Popple?"

She said, "YES! OMG you recognized it!"

And I said, "OMG you're a Popple! That's awesome!"

And then we hugged. It still makes me smile, thinking about it. At my favorite conventions, that sort of thing is happening all the time.

... but yeah, it's the kids who have the best time at these events, because they have the energy. I remember dragging myself to a Sunday morning shift at the con's front desk. To my dismay, I saw a group of young con-goers playing ring-around-the-rosie in the lobby. I wish I had that much energy ever, much less on Sunday at a convention!


@427 I would LOVE to see a convention that worked to have an alcohol-free culture. I think that sort of thing is doable, but only from the bottom up, you know what I mean?

And alcohol-free party spaces are a fine idea for any con, especially if they can be distinguished from spaces reserved for those con-goers who are still below drinking age.

#430 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 06:05 PM:

Just an observation here (and someone correct me if I am wrong please?)

In my usual circles someone sitting and minding their own business (sewing, knitting, reading, changing guitar strings, whatever) means that this person does not want to be bothered by people they do not know. From all that was said the last 2 days, it sounds as if the culture on (most) cons is the opposite - as long as you are polite and ask if the person does not mind you joining/talking to them, most people will be ok with that? Then of course comes my problem where the line between bothering and just asking politely is but that's a different conversation altogether (I was brought up with the idea that you cannot just go and talk to someone you had never met - you need to be introduced. I am almost growing out of it these days but some things do linger) :)

P J Evans @ 427
And even then someone WILL sneak alcohol. It is part of the party culture for a lot of people...

#431 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 06:07 PM:

Sandy B. @425: I don't know how you get a 45-year-old like me, or a 25-year-old, or a 20-year old to come to a SF convention and have a good time. I mean, I'm here. I know you guys. It should be an easy sell. Sell me.

I'm also Generation X, or maybe Millennial; it depends on where the lines get divided. I love literary conventions, despite a miserable experience at the first one I attended, and can't stand the big media cons. I have only been to two anime cons, and found them incomprehensible, despite liking quite a lot of anime and manga; I don't know how demonstrative those two happened to be, or if I would've enjoyed the cons more if I'd been there with friends who really knew them well.

But my reaction to "Sell me", especially as you phrase it is, that...if you're not sold by people talking about the things they enjoyed, don't go! It's probably not something you'd like! One of the wonderful things about the internet age is that there's a lot less need to put up with subpar experiences to get the only in possible to some experience you want. If literary conventions don't sound like fun, then...maybe they're not fun for you. And that's okay.

If someone says "That sounds like fun, tell me more!" I will happily contribute. If it's "I'm worried about X, is that a problem?" I will give a sincere answer as to whether or not X is indeed an issue. "I don't like it, convince me otherwise" is one I'm not touching. I'm not a salesman. I'm a fan. My "this is what I enjoyed" is there to share my sincere experience, and not a marketing ploy.

#432 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 06:09 PM:

I went to World Fantasy and World Horror before I ever set foot in a Worldcon, and I'd absolutely call them cons. I never got the sense that I was unwelcome because of not being a Big Name Pro, certainly. There were plenty of opportunities to meet the Big Name Pros, including at the mass signing event. There were activities to take part in. There were panels and presentations to go to.

When I finally got to Worldcon, it felt like almost exactly the same thing, only scaled up in size, such that there were even *more* Big Name Pros such that there had to be *more than one* signing event, and *multiple tracks* of paneling. Basically, it felt like a very very big World Fantasy where at any given moment there were several things I wanted to go to, but, alas, I could only go to one at a time.

Now, I'm an *aspiring* gonna-be pro, so I found a lot of the World Fantasy and World Horror panel content to be exactly what I was looking for; someone who came purely with their fan hat on might find less to interest them. Maybe. Depending on the fan. Depending on who the guests of honor were. Depending on who else was there.

Hearing Worldcon regulars say that Wold Fantasy isn't a con strikes me much like hearing Dragon*Con goers say that Worldcon isn't really a con (or is doing "con" wrong). They're all cons. They're all *different* cons.

#433 ::: Eimear Ní Mhéalóid ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 06:12 PM:

Ultragotha @422: there are cultures, though, where polite refusal once or even twice is nigh obligatory and pressing is therefore also polite. (See, Mrs Doyle in *Father Ted*passim. "Go on go on gwan gwangwangwan you will ywillywill.") Then cultures clash.

#434 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 06:13 PM:

On reflection, my comments @431 come across as both more aggressive and more surly than intended, for which I apologize. Somewhat ironically, I was driven to respond by feeling like both sides were getting more bristly, and I wanted to explain that maybe it didn't have to be a disagreement at all.

I don't think I conveyed that well at all. Possibly I should not step into emotionally charged conversations while studying for finals.

#435 ::: Steve Downey ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 06:37 PM:

Sandy B. at 425
Young people and older people are the ones with time and money. I have slightly less disposable income today at 50 than I did as a fresh college graduate, with a decently paying job and no other real responsibilities.

The other thing I've noticed is that there is a real generational shift, roughly corresponding to the Baby Boomer / Gen-X line, where I have way more common with people much younger than me, in their 20s and 30s, than I do with people just 10 years older than me. The line is not clean, as nothing with people ever is, and it's not just music, but that can be a proxy. Capital -F Fandom is a social space created by the generations before mine. We don't always speak the same language. And Fandom is a social space. It started centered around the shared interest in SF, but is its own thing, in addition to that. You still run into people who haven't really read anything recently, but who really did read _everything_ that came out in 1978.

SF won the culture war, which changes how you engage with the rest of the culture. I hardly ever get asked how I can read that weird stuff. I'm more likely to get asked to explain what's going on in Game of Thrones, or Avengers.

SF storytelling modalities are also more common. Incluing, for example, explaining the world not as a dump of "as, you know, Bob", but by showing the differences, and the characters reactions, or lack of reaction, to things.

I've been back to standard cons, such as ReaderCon around Boston, a few times recently. I enjoy them. I've also been going to New York Comic Con (big for-profit media) with my kids for the last, umm, 8 years? (that went fast). They're different things, for different reasons. ReaderCon is a much more social space. There's an expectation of socializing. At NYCC, I might socialize with a few friends I go with, or a few guests and their friends, but I have no expectation of hanging out with all 10K people there.

ReaderCon also doesn't have long lines.

The sell for a SF con is, 'come hang out for a couple of days with a bunch of people who largely share your interest in SF'. If you like geeking out about SF, you'll have fun.

What you (probably) won't have happen is finding 'your tribe', the experience of finally having other people who share your weird hobby. The internet and general increase in popularity of SF in shared culture means you aren't as isolated. In some ways, that's a good thing.


#436 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 06:48 PM:

430
Thus the clued-in security people, who have to enforce the rules.

#437 ::: Jim Henley ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 07:52 PM:

I posted a version of this on File 770 and quickly decided I wished I could do at least minor revisions, so I'm lazyposting the second draft:

***********

If you were a dinosaur, my love, you would be a time-traveling dinosaur, who retroactively justified Sad Puppies 1 and 2, launched before your nomination was known. Your scales would shimmer with tachyons.

If you were a dinosaur, my love, you would be all puppies could talk about, because dinosaurs are freaking cool, and big and scary, and puppies are small and easily alarmed.

If you were a dinosaur, my love, you would be free on the internet, and short enough to read quickly, with an easily digested precis, so that all your critics could get through you or at least take the word of someone who had without being obviously wrong on the facts. So you would be an easy example of What Has Gone Wrong With All Reptiles even though you were but a single dinosaur. You would be the dinosaur that stops all conversations before they start.

If you were a dinosaur, my love, you would be a mutant dinosaur who irradiates a field that makes some people reeeeeeaaaaaaalllllyyyyyy lazy. “Let's look at these other dinosaurs for a bit,” someone would say. But the people in the field would respond, “Naw, man. We're good.”

#438 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 07:58 PM:

Apropos of nothing in particular...
No glassware on starships?

#439 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 08:21 PM:

Nicole, #432: I've never been to a World Fantasy, so what I said could have been entirely wrong. But I do know that many years ago when I was a relatively-new fan considering going to one, someone who'd been around much longer than I had described it to me as being focused on writers and publishers, and that I shouldn't expect it to be like the cons I'd been to. When I got older and found out what a trade show was, that's how it mapped for me. Perhaps a better choice of phrasing would be that Worldcon is a fan-focused con and World Fantasy is a pro-focused con, and people who go to one expecting the other are likely to be disappointed.

Steve D., #435: I agree with this. I'm pushing 60, but a lot of my fannish friends are 15-20 years younger than I am (if not more), and maybe it's hanging out with them that sometimes makes me feel like "I'm too young for this crowd" when in a group of my own age-mates!

(Also, the common assumption that most people stop listening to new music after college? Bullshit. Maybe the rate of acquisition goes down, but I'm still finding new and interesting stuff almost 40 years later. You do, however, have to look beyond the radio.)

Because my partner and I are dealers, we end up going to a lot of different types of cons. The first few anime-cons I went to felt strange and alien to me -- people who looked, visually, as though they were "my tribe", but on closer approach weren't; also, not being myself an anime fan, I felt like a fish out of water. I've since discovered that a lot of the larger anime-cons don't give me that feeling, because there's a lot of other kinds of costuming in the mix as well. And if I want to blend in, all I really have to do is wear a fannish T-shirt and a pair of clip-on catgirl ears. :-)

We also do several big media-cons, and I enjoy them too. I don't buy autographs, but a lot of the Big Name Stars are perfectly happy for people just to come up and chat a bit if they don't have a line, and that's an opportunity I won't get at a lit-con. Also, I love good costuming, and the quantity of it at any media-con is just amazing.

I think the "sell" for a fan-run lit-con is, "If you love SF/F books, this is a great chance for you to come geek out with other people who love books, and to meet authors." The smaller crowd means more opportunities to discover that you've met someone interesting, and there's significantly more emphasis on socializing with other attendees.

But I also agree that fans who are under 40 are probably never going to have that formative experience of walking into a con for the first time and thinking, "OMG, a whole hotel full of people who don't think I'm weird!" which is common to those in my generation and older. They've already found their tribe online. And that makes a profound difference in the way we and they approach physical-space conventions.

#440 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 09:18 PM:

Annie Y @430: At cons I have attended, people who want no-people tend to go sit in their hotel room or other private (or covert) space. If you sit down in Main Highway Areas of the con, or the con suite, and are not specifically putting out OH MAN DON'T BOTHER ME ARGH GO AWAY body language, people will smile and make eye contact, and if that is positively received, take further polite "may I join you/talk about that" overtures.

It's convenient for people like me who have sporadic social anxiety about "being a bother" and actually initiating conversations.

Actually, a lot of con social conventions are shaped by the fact that we expect a substantial proportion of attendees will have social difficulties of one kind or another (anxieties; sensory processing; Asperger-spectrum not-getting-it stuff).

#441 ::: Lady Kay ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 10:09 PM:

Con-going: I started just like you describe, college student sharing a hotel room with friends from a science fiction group. The city had two cons a year, and I just didn't have funds or gumption to go to another city. I had the panels I loved to go to, the dance, the costume contest, the friends that I only saw there, etc. No room parties, because I went to bed before they started. Very much a routine way of breaking the real-world routine.

Moving to another city was ... not conducive to continuing. Late twenties, thirties and early forties went by. Then college friends came and talked me into trying Balticon. Wow, lots of the fun from the early times was back. Still can't stay up for room parties, even more because child wears me out.

Worldcon is almost scary-big. MediaCons are another world entirely and really a world I don't understand much.

#442 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2015, 11:58 PM:

I'm in the no-alcohol crowd. I simply decided, after trying life with and without alcohol, that I liked it better without. I don't like to be impaired, and I like singing and good conversation and used to like dancing, and all of those are less good, less fun, and in the case of dancing more dangerous when alcohol is added.

I also have a very low tolerance for alcohol, and some PTSD issues wrt certain drunk behavior. It took me a long time to learn that some people who yell aren't aware of how loud they're being, that some who are aware aren't angry, and that some of the angry ones go no further than yelling. I strongly associate angry yelling, especially drunken angry yelling, with physical violence to follow.

That said, I've had a great time, on occasion, with a roomful of people who were drinking heavily. They needed alcohol to lower their inhibitions; I just have to stop pretending I have any.*

I used to prowl the parties late at night looking for one that was still open and still had people in it I was willing to talk to. This after an entire evening of taking the elevator to the top party floor, hitting all the parties on that floor, taking the stairs down to the next party floor, hitting all the parties...lather, rinse, repeat.

Never stayed in any one party very long, unless I found a REALLY good conversation. ADHD, you know. And I'm wayyy out on the extrovert end of the scale, so after a whole lot of social interaction I was positively humming with energy, and was much too wired to go to sleep.

Now I am old, and hardly have the energy to roll my trouser legs. Alas.

*Yes, that's a joke. I'm as inhibited as the next guy, provided the next guy is Robin Williams.**
**This is also a joke. Mostly.***
***Actually, RW's death scared the SHIT out of me. We have, I think, similar psychological profiles (though if I had .0001% of his talent I would call myself a comedian).

#443 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 12:18 AM:

Lee @ 439: I've been to world fantasy as an art show entrant and an amateur writer: I didn't find that much difference in the panel and signing tracks, or the art show. The differences are more absences: the absence of most costumes (not all, when it runs over Hallowe'en), the absence of gaming, the absence of filk*. A dealer's room strongly focused on books. The overall conversation, though, in the halls and among the people, differed very little.

*Actually, Minneapolis had a music room, but for somewhat esoteric and exceptional reasons, but not really one open to the friendly amateur filk circle. So I danced to the bands instead.

#444 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 12:29 AM:

Sandy B., #425: "I don't know how you get a 45-year-old like me... to come to a SF convention and have a good time."

Having a great time at Worldcon and being in my 40s has never been a problem for me. So clearly you and I have different definitions -- or expectations -- of what constitutes "a good time".

And that's perfectly okay. I'd be pretty offended if someone kept insisting that they just know I'd enjoy ComicCon if only I would go to it. I know myself quite well, and I know that I would find it excruciatingly painful and utterly unenjoyable.

You know yourself better than anyone else does. If a literary SFF convention doesn't seem like it would be fun to you, there's no reason for anyone to try to persuade you to feel otherwise.

#445 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 12:32 AM:

I hope I didn't give anyone the wrong impression -- I had a great time at World Fantasy (aside from random strangers coming up to me and calling me a btich, but I think that was meant in fun, and anyway wev people). I'd definitely go back if I had the money. I've just never found my way into the bar scene at cons. It's intimidating, and I imagine it's doubly so for people who don't want to be around alcohol and drunk people.

#446 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 05:35 AM:

Doug @415 - yes, that was certainly something I kept my antennae up for, and the Chinese cultural background of the book is important, for plot and character motivation reasons. (The bits people seem to be having trouble, with, though, are aspects of the hard science, where cultural influences are arguably less of a problem.)

Sarah @438 - you reminded me of The Mote in God's Eye, where the spaceship's glassware (for formal dinners in the officers' mess, which are of course essential) has to be made of some near-indestructible crystal - "cut from the re-entry screen of a First Empire landing craft" or some such.

#447 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 07:38 AM:

Anybody want a supporting Sasquan membership? I got one with the intention of voting the Hugos, but I just don't have the spoons to deal with it.

If you want it, email me at the address displayed at the bottom of my linked web page.

#448 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 10:49 AM:

This is one of those things where I think it's maybe not worth the energy to engage with it. I clearly think there's a problem. Other people clearly don't see one. These things can be simultaneously true. For me, five dealers huddled at the bar and one going "Has anybody seen a teenager?" (We all shook our heads) was weird and shocking because my standard cons run teenage-to-sixties. For someone who is used to a different demographic, the situation is completely normal, or, in Mr. Standlee's case, apparently something they've been hearing for years and which has not proved to be an issue.

Since I'm not going to volunteer to fix it, my solution has been to simply stop going unless I have a really compelling reason. Then no one who is there thinks it's a problem and we can all scrape along with our respective energies intact.

Honestly, if not for the Puppies, Worldcon demographics would be something I'd avoid discussing, but here we are.

#449 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 12:03 PM:

UrsulaV, I admit that I usually fall on the side of "Tell people what it's like, and if they're not into that, it's fine!" regarding con demographics. People who like come, people who don't like go elsewhere, it's all good! Working as intended! ...but then I hear that you don't enjoy cons and get a little pang inside, because I'd love to meet you at one some day, and they are Not Your Thing.

...but I am indeed trying to be more of an adult about remembering that my tastes are not the tastes of all other people. And frankly if I'd had the kinds of experiences you do at cons, with people being sniffy about my not having read the right sorts of books they feel were mandatory, I'd probably not enjoy them either. I had that experience at exactly one con, and shied off cons for years; I was coaxed back to a different convention, had a marvelous time, and haven't run into one of those people since.

And so goes the luck of the draw, I suppose. Fandom is large, and even con-going fandom is pretty broad, and I'm not sure there's any good way to get the annoying gatekeeping snobs to stop being so when they're being passionate about attending something they've loved for decades. They're here to stay, and I don't know how to keep those people from spoiling cons for other people. The best I can do is point to conventions that have a generally more welcoming and enthusiastic atmosphere.

Fourth Street Fantasy is my particular con of the heart, as it were, and one of the things I love about it is the running list of books people have brought up/recommended during panels. Because a lot of the time three quarters of the panel will go "Oh, yes, that book!" and the fourth person will go "I haven't read it, maybe I should!" and on the list it goes. It feels more enthusiastic and less prescriptive.

But there is a convention (which I will not name here, as it'd be a distraction) I am never attending again, because my very first experience of a convention panel ever included someone standing up and saying that you couldn't possibly be an SFF writer if you hadn't read--and then went through a long list of names, most of which I'd never heard of it. It was deeply discouraging at the time. Good thing he was utterly wrong.

#450 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 12:16 PM:

@449 Fade Manley - Oh--I do enjoy cons, though! I do Anthrocon every July and generally have at least 3 GoH gigs a year. And those are mostly awesome, and the few that aren't, I generally get a good story out of. (Ask me sometime about The Incident With The Kid's Track.)

It's Worldcon specifically that has such a weird skew for me. I've seen one or two small lit cons with similar things, which makes me think it may be a lit SF issue. I've also seen exceptions, through sheer force of local Fannish culture, and those were very cool.

Overall, introvert though I am, I'd much rather do a con that a book tour. Heck, I'd much rather do five cons back to back than a book tour...

#451 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 12:21 PM:

Steve Wright @446 Nodding interculturally...

#452 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 12:53 PM:

As someone who's been trying to follow and refer back to UrsulaV's comments, can I just mention that she seems to have two separate 'View All By' pages - one which links to her comment at 373 and a different one linking to 448.

(Gnomes: I know the technical explanation for this is 'different email addresses on different comments.' Just noting the disjunction for thread-hoppers like me.)

#453 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 02:17 PM:

@ 452 - Apparently my email dropped a letter on my iPad--hopefully they'll be together going forward!

#454 ::: Kevin Callum ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 05:54 PM:

An interesting idea came to me about why the Canine Crowd doesn't comment much about the books that they like. They don't find the long, drawn-out analysis of books fun. Since they have repeated over and over that they just want fun stories, it also appears that they don't get any real enjoyment out of the somewhat academic pursuit of seeking out why the story was fun, how one could improve on the fun, and what other sub-texts the fun could represent.

I really enjoy the fannish aspect of gushing over the merits of a particular story. I enjoy digging into the symbolism the author employed. I get a kick when someone points out to me subtle things in the plot or characterization that I didn't notice the first time through. But perhaps, the puppies don't enjoy analysis. It's too thinky and not fun.

Just a thought.

#455 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 06:42 PM:

I stopped by the comic store today to pick up my subscriptions, and get the 2 books from the Hugo graphic novels list that I didn't already have. It amused me that I walked out with:
Ms. Marvel
Bitch Planet
Lady Killer
Rat Queens
Sex Criminals

Not one man in spandex in the whole bag. Comics has SO much more than Superman/Batman/yaddayadda.

Tomorrow I think I'll go see a Mad Max movie for the first time, just for the 78-year-old actor who did her own motorcycle stunts.

#456 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 07:31 PM:

Kevin Callum #454:
There's some truth there I think.

But that doesn't explain the reluctance of Puppies when asked to name just a few titles of books they liked. They won't say what books they like (which I think is very strange).

#457 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 07:53 PM:

me@425: I came across a little more aggressively than I meant to. I just felt like I was hearing a few vague "of course it's fun" and a lot of specific "Well, That Guy was there ruining my day."

I think what I was hearing was more the "As you know, Bob, it's fun".

#458 ::: Robert Z ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 09:04 PM:

Soon Lee @ 456: I think a lot of it comes from a deep distrust and preemptive hostility. If they've bought into even a little bit of the us/them polarity bullshit -- "wrongfans/wrongfun" and "sjw's always lie" etc -- then why should they answer "personal" questions posed by people they don't trust? They're probably thinking, "It's a trap!"

#459 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 10:26 PM:

I'm not always good at the detailed analysis either, but if someone asks me why I like a book or story, I will usually be able to come up with something. For example: "I liked Princess Cimorene and why she ran away from home" or "the idea of a wizard as someone who can talk to dragons is neat" or "it's a plausible, fast-moving detective adventure, and I like the way the author used a hurricane as part of the plot." (That last isn't remotely sf/f, it's a contemporary mystery, with no tech odder than cell phones.)

Those are three books (or series) that I liked, but I liked them for different reasons, and the mood in which I will want to reread A Wizard of Earthsea is different from the mood in which I will want The Enchanted Forest Chronicles, even though they could both be described as "YA fantasy novel about dragons."

#460 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 10:51 PM:

Annie Y @ 355: How much easier it would be with no cultural differences... :) And how much more boring....
      I suppose I should have been more precise; the ingredients list may be some combination of temporal and subcultural phenomenon. I don't recall it from my chorus's holiday parties of 30-40 years ago, but aside from their skill at music (and possibly skewing young due to being a city-based chorus) they were relatively mainstream people. The Thanksgiving I go to is at a SCAdian/fannish household (first drawn together by a reading of The Princess Bride in the middle of a blizzard), and the one wedding potluck that I've been to in the last decade had a somewhat left-of-center tilt and a strong SCA component (including court dancing taught before they let the modern dance music loose); all this is in Boston. I don't remember lists at Mike Ford's memorial (Minneapolis, 2006) but couldn't swear they weren't there.

UrsulaV @ 368: "doesn't do email"? That would be deeply weird among fans as well; I know of people who would be proud of tiny precise subscription lists, but they tend to bunch in their own corner at Worldcon. Given what I've seen of gardeners and birders, I'm a little surprised that you find so much difference in attitudes -- I'd expect all of them to have some edge cases who say "You're not worth talking to if you don't know X, Y, Z, and W". But that may also be a regional variation: us "hostile, suspicious, costive and clannish, Easterners"(*) vs other areas.
      wrt which, I wonder if part of the problem is that older fen grew up in a world with so little SF being published that they either read all the good older stuff or read the type off the few current works; nowadays, even somewhat-picky discrimination tastes can't keep up with current material, let alone read the Good Old Stuff. (And some of us just don't see when the Suck Fairy has been through, or are running on vivid memories rather than recent re-reading.) And some of us (I'm 61) just weren't very well socialized -- reading SF 40-50 years ago was considered deeply weird in many circles -- and some of those haven't improved since then.
      I suppose I'm in no position to talk; the last non-overseas Worldcon I \planned/ to go to was 2009, and that at least partly because it was Montreal (yum!) and my somewhat gafiated wife was going to Pennsic. (Serious camping? Been there, done that a lot, bored now.) Nowadays I do World Fantasy and the locals (3).

Kevin @ 370: Hello? 1980 etc. division head here; you don't have to lecture me about how costs break. But I wonder how much doubling the size would really help, given two events still considered huge draws; would that force relay-by-media, or cut the number of facilities to the even-more-expensive? What's the biggest event at at D*C by attendance, and what percentage of the total admissions does it get?

Annie Y @ 380: there are many styles of filk, but even the "bardic circle" includes Pass as an option, or Pick (a song to ask to be sung if you've heard of something interesting), as well as Perform.

Lee @ 410: that is ... an exaggeration. A lot of business happens at WFC, but the panels are all about the material -- one con got smacked for running a thread of "How to Sell in Country X" panels -- and writing workshops are also relegated to pre-con time. However, it probably does get a higher percentage of people there to do business than any other convention, including some who are there only to do business or hobnob with their fellow wizards, so it may not be the best place for the shy or easily-intimidated to start con-going.

Annie Y @ 420: Boskone has "discussion groups"; most are built around an author who's willing to talk one-on-few, but at least one is for knitters (and related crafts?). & wrt bringing food: in my circles it's common to ask "can I bring something" (letting the host specify); bringing unasked might be just as rude.
      @430: a con is a place to meet people; at most, there's a cultural assumption that you're interested in talking if you're not in a private or quiet space. \Reading/ might put people off -- but everything else you describe has a large fraction of less-mindful work, such that there are often traditions of social events just to have something engaging while getting on with the necessary (when it was necessary).

(*) Damon Knight, on why he was happy to return to Oregon


#461 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 11:01 PM:

me @447: Sasquan supporting membership claimed.

#462 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 11:04 PM:

Soon Lee 456: What Robert says at 458 is probably true, but I also think some of them are outright lying about reading books at all...which would be another reason they think it's a trap. Certainly many of them haven't read the books and stories they nominated on the Puppy slates.

#463 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 11:07 PM:

460
I was at a worldcon with a drop-spindle demonstration. YMMV, but fiber and fans seem to go together.

#464 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 11:14 PM:

#430 - Annie Y.
From my experience, sitting around, doing something crafty or knitting, etc in a fan convention setting is usually viewed as an invitation go at least look over shoulders.

Granted, that presumption on my part is colored from when I started in fandom, when the programming schedule grid was incised in wax tablets. Things may well have changed, and I just know enough people, or look harmless enough, that I don't run into blowback.

#465 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 11:30 PM:

Vicki, #459: I remember my reaction to reading Dealing with Dragons as a mixture of joy and relief. You see, I'd been wanting to write a book on that premise for probably a decade at that point, and had made a couple of stabs at it with notable lack of success. So my first reaction was, "Hey, somebody finally wrote that book!" and my second was, "So now I don't have to -- I can let it go."

#466 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 11:36 PM:

CHip @460

The comment about the cultural differences was a joke (akin to the regular IT joke of "How much easier it would be if we did not have users"). Cultural differences is what makes life and art interesting. (just in case someone really thought I was really serious)

Elliott Mason@440, CHip @460 and Craig R.@464

Yeah. It does sound like I need to change my idea of how things are viewed.:) As long as you do not use your needle to poke at people, right? :)

More seriously though - and kinda tying into the con going conversation - these are the kind of things that are a little alien to people that had not been around since forever. The world had changed to a point where even saying hello may be considered an attack on someone's viewpoint - I travel a lot (mainly business) and 10 years ago anyone in a plane will at least just say hello to a seatmate, these days a lot of people do not even acknowledge that you are there; same with airports - if you are just sitting there and doing nothing at a gate, 10 years ago someone else waiting at the same gate would at least say hello and see if you are interested in a chat; these days they would not even smile, nod, say hello. I refuse to believe that suddenly the whole world had turned extrovert and waiting for someone else to say hello first. There are still people that are behaving as before but the numbers drop fast (and then lately I almost never even just sit and wait - I read which is fine enough way to say stay away I guess). So this had colored my ideas of what to expect when a lot of people congregate - my first worldcon was after years of traveling and seeing the shift in it.

#467 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 11:40 PM:

Open-threadiness which is related to two spoiler-filled discussions but may, I think, be of general interest:

Marvel Unlimited is currently having a one-month-free-trial promotion - they do require a credit card number and'll charge you for next month if you forget to cancel, but use the code "ULTRON" at checkout. I'm poking around in there and, among other things, they have the Matt Fraction run to date on Hawkeye, which some folks had expressed interest in reading. They also seem to have the current run of Black Widow, which I've really been enjoying.

The interface on a computer is needlessly-clunky, but I'm quite pleased with the app on my ten-inch tablet screen. I was worried it would be too small, but it's mostly not and when it is*, the zoom function's very intuitive.

*Which would probably be helped if I actually _wore_ my glasses. Oops.

#468 ::: Em apologizes to the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: May 16, 2015, 11:41 PM:

... and I typed all that into the wrong thread, curse you, tabbed browsing. Sorry!

#469 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 12:34 AM:

Robert Z #458: & Xopher Halftongue #462:

There's no point trying to engage at TB's site because any comment that doesn't agree is met with toxic abuse, and no-one needs that. Those there who consider themselves footsoldiers in a "war" aren't capable of being reached.

But Mike Glyer's File770 is more a neutral space and in a recent thread, commenter Darrell suggested shifting the conversation from what we hate about various works to naming the 10 things we love/recommend. It's a long rambling thread from there (YMMV) but we did get a bunch of people's top 10 lists that were very diverse with very little overlap illustrating that everyone has different tastes & we can all love different things, and that is good. I saw at least one self-identified Puppy post their top 10 too. I think that's a (small) positive thing. Dialogue is good.

(I've been home fighting off a virus most of the week so have been keeping a closer eye on the File770 discussions; it's kept me occupied.)

#470 ::: Dan ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 12:59 AM:

(((Came out of a deep research rabbit-hole this afternoon, turned and ran right into the Hugo awards rabbit-hole, have now spent hours catching up on blog posts and comment threads.)))

On the one hand, I sort of agree with the Sad Puppies: twenty-five years ago I dropped out of an MFA program in creative writing after reading an essay in the summer, 1990, Hudson Review titled "The Contemporary Workshop Aesthetic" by Daniel Dooley -- I dropped out because the essay was correct, the workshop method of teaching writing tends to produce mediocre writers. Not long afterwards, I began to notice the workshop aesthetic was invading sf/f, as the growing numbers of workshop-shaped writers found they couldn't place their stories in the New Yorker, so they turned to other paying markets, like the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction a couple of editors ago. I don't like the mealy-mouthed self-conscious writing of the workshop aesthetic, and I can understand how the Sad Puppies might dislike a great deal of contemporary sf/f.

On the other hand, as has been noted in these comments threads, the Sad Puppies don't seem to care all that much about writing. I don't go to many cons (way too many people in a confined space for this introvert), but when I do, I love the way everyone wants to talk about books; politics may enter into discussions of books, but the emphasis is on books. From what I've seen, the Sad Puppies are more interested in politics than books, which means I'm not all that interested in them.

If this were my universe, the Sad Puppies would go back to their parallel universe where politics trumps literature, and in this universe the Hugos would be returned to those of us who love to talk about books. But if this were my universe, the workshop aesthetic, with its dreary mediocre prose and its pretensions to literary grandeur, would go back to its parallel universe, a universe where academia has taken over genre literature and reduced it to lumpy ill-flavored custard.

#471 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 01:11 AM:

And of course I managed to mess up in 466
"whole world had turned extrovert" should have been "whole world had turned introvert". Starting one sentence and finishing another is my defense and I am going to stick to it.

#472 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 01:21 AM:

UrsulaV @450: Oh, that's a relief! And I've never been to Worldcon, so I can't speak to its culture/variations at all. To be honest, the only conventions I've attended really seriously are Penguicon and Fourth Street Fantasy, both of which are peculiar things even within their own subgenres.

#473 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 01:49 AM:

I've known fen who turn their noses up at email. It's a thing. Heck, I had to write out a check and send it in the mail in order to register for an SF conference that shall remain nameless -- and all this as recently as, what, two years ago?

*sigh* Someday we'll be using Jupiter Ascending-style smart tattoos to do our computing, and I'll be whining about the good old days of Playstation controllers and wireless keyboards. "If I get old, I will not give in, but if I do, remind me of this..."

#474 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 01:58 AM:

Annie Y, #466: "The world had changed to a point where even saying hello may be considered an attack on someone's viewpoint - I travel a lot (mainly business) and 10 years ago anyone in a plane will at least just say hello to a seatmate, these days a lot of people do not even acknowledge that you are there; same with airports - if you are just sitting there and doing nothing at a gate, 10 years ago someone else waiting at the same gate would at least say hello and see if you are interested in a chat; these days they would not even smile, nod, say hello. I refuse to believe that suddenly the whole world had turned introvert and waiting for someone else to say hello first. There are still people that are behaving as before but the numbers drop fast (and then lately I almost never even just sit and wait - I read which is fine enough way to say stay away I guess). So this had colored my ideas of what to expect when a lot of people congregate - my first worldcon was after years of traveling and seeing the shift in it."

I'm no expert, but I suspect a lot of what you are seeing is a combination of factors -- one of which is that human beings are all a lot more in each others' faces now, all the time. Especially with the Internet and the advent of social media, people have a lot more opportunities for social contact now than they used to. Whereas before people might have welcomed public social contact with strangers, now they are getting more of their social needs met in other ways.

I'm generally a social person, but flying is a grueling, unpleasant experience for me because of ear-equalization problems and the way I feel exhausted and drained at the end of a day of travelling, and I really prefer to be left alone. I know that the person next to me who tries to converse means well and is just being friendly -- but I just want my personal space and quiet time. I've generally got a book in my hand and quiet music in my headphones as a way of coping -- which to me, should be seen as a polite "thanks, but no thanks" signal, but it's still not uncommon for me to receive social overtures in waiting rooms and on planes by people who either don't see or just choose to ignore those signals. And if you smile or say "hi" to be polite rather than just ignoring them, they will (not unfairly) take that as an invitation to continue.

As others have said, however, Worldcon is a bit of a different animal. People generally attend with the intent of meeting and geeking out with other people who share their interests. Most people who get to the point where they need some privacy and quiet time will go back to their rooms or (if they're lucky enough to find one) retreat to a very quiet, off-the-beaten-path corner of the hotel public areas.

The best course of action at a Worldcon, if you'd like to engage someone in discussion, is to watch body language, and if you approach someone and they don't respond by moving away or darting their eyes around frantically looking for escape, ask politely whether they'd be interested in showing and telling you about their knitting or their costume or whatever. A lot of people will be thrilled to find someone who appreciates [geeky thing] as much as they do and want to engage. But if not, don't take it at all personally (because it's not) if they indicate they'd rather not; just smile and say, "Sure, no problem", and move on.

There tend to be a higher number of people with social anxiety issues who manage to squelch them in order to attend for the geekery at Worldcon, than there will be in public spaces in general. Just remember that their preferences to have, or not have, social interaction are all about what they need, and not a reflection on you.

#475 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 02:11 AM:

JJ, #474: I fly somewhere about once a year, and the most recent time (last month) I arrived on both ends of the trip so exhausted that it took me more than a full day to recover, which had never happened before. My partner says that some planes are now flying with the pressurization set to the equivalent of 8,000 feet instead of 5,000 feet (for safety reasons -- less stress on the hull), and that this can be very rough on people who are sensitive to altitude changes... which apparently I am, at least to some extent. That might be an issue for you as well, if you regularly arrive at your destination exhausted.

#476 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 02:19 AM:

Lee, #475: "I fly somewhere about once a year, and the most recent time (last month) I arrived on both ends of the trip so exhausted that it took me more than a full day to recover, which had never happened before. My partner says that some planes are now flying with the pressurization set to the equivalent of 8,000 feet instead of 5,000 feet (for safety reasons -- less stress on the hull), and that this can be very rough on people who are sensitive to altitude changes... which apparently I am, at least to some extent. That might be an issue for you as well, if you regularly arrive at your destination exhausted."

I've always had problems flying, and it seemed some years ago that the ear pain had eased a bit, perhaps due to my body finally acclimating a bit more to pressure changes. But if that's what they're doing now, it wouldn't surprise me. There were a couple of times, decades ago, when I was literally sobbing (as quietly as possible) as the plane came down because I was in such excruciating pain. And it seems as if I've been having more of those horribly painful descents in the last few years than I did for a while before that.

It's not that knowing this really changes anything -- but thank you for telling me that.


#477 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 02:48 AM:

475
8000 feet is well into the range where people need time to acclimate to it - 'altitude sickness' is a real thing.

#478 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 03:28 AM:

JJ @ 474

I hope that you do not need to fly often because this sounds awful (I cannot even imagine how bad it can be - I am an easy flyer, my worst stories were from the time I had to fly with an ear infection (really do not recommend that) or when my allergies had been playing up).

I suspect that you are right - it is a combination of factors. It just had shifted a lot for a decade - in a way, what it is now is closer to how my own world works (more often than not, I am the non-sociable seatmate). Or maybe I had been paying more attention to it lately - with my job making me deal with people a lot more, I am more likely to notice changing patterns. And when body language is involved, if I have any suspicion on how I need to read it, I go on the side of caution.

@473 Sarah
Setting up an online payment system and using mail are two vastly different things though. More than one small publisher (and a few resellers) got pretty weird mails from a girl in Bulgaria last decade asking them how exactly can someone in Bulgaria pay for their books :) Admittedly, it is not as common not to have a system up and running these days but I still expect it now and then (and at least now I can write checks).

But then I would not be surprised if someone is anti-email just because "changes are not good; we need to stay traditional" :)

Lee @ 475

flying with the pressurization set to the equivalent of 8,000 feet instead of 5,000 feet

You learn something new every day. Now I can stop telling everyone I am getting too old for my 24 hours trip home (involving 3 flights, a bus ride and considerable times at airports) and blame it on this :)

#479 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 03:54 AM:

Actually, this wikipedia article cites an article about how some newer aircraft designs actually allow lower cabin altitudes (because carbon fiber is less susceptible to fatigue from repeated pressurization/depressurization than aluminum is), to reduce passenger discomfort.

#480 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 03:56 AM:

Trying to kick loose an Internal Server Error...

#481 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 04:06 AM:

Dan @470 "...the workshop aesthetic, with its dreary mediocre prose and its pretensions to literary grandeur..."

For example?

Also, twenty-five years is a long time in our beloved genre. It is five years more than the temporal distance between a Hugo for Starship Troopers and the publication of The Number of the Beast, to consider a not-at-random author.

#482 ::: David Langford ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 04:20 AM:

#118 and replies: follow-up very belated because the page below was still in preparation. There is now an ebook version of The Enchanted Duplicator (including endnotes based on the 1979 Worldcon edition) at the TAFF site's Free Ebooks page.

#483 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 04:27 AM:

Dan, #470 "in this universe the Hugos would be returned to those of us who love to talk about books. But if this were my universe, the workshop aesthetic, with its dreary mediocre prose and its pretensions to literary grandeur, would go back to its parallel universe, a universe where academia has taken over genre literature and reduced it to lumpy ill-flavored custard."

I think you must be living in a different universe than me. I'm not particularly a fan of "literary fiction" of any flavor, including sffnal. Have you read any SFF published in the last 20 years? Yes, there is plenty of dreck, plenty of mindless but enjoyable easy-reading adventure, and plenty of absolutely brilliantly-written SFF with amazing, groundbreaking imaginative ideas.

It's incomprehensible to me that you would say "the Hugos would be returned to those of us who love to talk about books." Who do you think all of us in this thread are? Who do you think goes to Worldcon?

#484 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 06:04 AM:

There's plenty of dreary prose around that's never seen the inside of an MFA workshop - and, thanks to the Sad Puppies, a lot of it's been nominated for the Hugos this year.

Besides, one person's dreary prose is another's gently lyrical and beautifully evocative dreamscape... it's practically the first law of literary criticism that different things work for different people in different ways. (The example I always quote here is Henry James. I am prepared to believe that James was a writer of enormous ability and justified fame; many people whose opinions I respect praise James to the heights. Yes, Henry James is a giant of English literature... and I, personally, find him utterly unreadable. It's not him, it's me.)

You can easily recognize the bad MFA workshop stuff, though, because it is written according to a recognizable formula. There is a very big overlap between formulaic writing and bad writing, because there is an awful temptation to let the formula do all the work. (Don't bother thinking up a story of your own, just take one protagonist, one antagonist, simmer for ten minutes in a plot complication, stir in some setting details and garnish with adjectives to taste, bob's yer uncle.)

Since poor writers in poor workshops get trained to write to a formula, and since it is a widely held belief (among people who don't read SF) that SF is formulaic, it's no surprise that bad MFA writers gravitate towards the SFF markets. I agree with Dan that they can bloomin' well gravitate back out again as far as I'm concerned. But they're just background noise - I refuse to let them distract me from the good stuff. (By my personal definition of "good stuff".)

#485 ::: Kevin Standlee ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 09:56 AM:

Sarah @473:

I've known fen who turn their noses up at email. It's a thing.
Quite, including a prominent past Hugo-nominated fan writer. (John Hertz). Less prominent, but more important to me, is my wife, who does not have an e-mail address and does not want one. She resents being called a Luddite (she suggests "Amish 2.0" is a better term: "The 20th Century was Good Enough"), and she's sufficiently concerned about Fandom and Worldcon that she just spent nearly $4000 for a used professional video camera with which she will be recording this year's WSFS Business Meeting as Official Videographer.

So while I'm very plugged in myself, I'm also very sensitive to attitudes that I've seen from more than one person that amount to, "If you don't have a computer and e-mail and web access and don't enthusiastically embrace them, you're not really a 'person' and we can safely ignore you."

#486 ::: Kevin Callum ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 10:15 AM:

#483, 484: I think both JJ's and Steve's comments just express Sturgeon's law (generalized as "90% of everything is crap"). Certainly some writers that have attended a writing workshop produce crap. But so do writers that didn't attend a workshop. I haven't attended any of the big-name workshops, but I have worked with a local writer's group. I just wanted to get feedback with the hope that I could skew my own production so more of my writing could fall in the 10%. I don't agree with the aesthetic of many of the mainstream MFA programs, but then I think most of the MFA participants don't agree with my SF/F aesthetic. I don't think we should blame the MFA program (or workshops in general) for writers that produce crap. Writers do that just fine either way. Which also explains why when a writer produces something that collectively we agree fell in the high end of the 10%, we try to give it an award.

Backing up a bit. You also have to think that Sturgeon referred to the content that got through an acquisition editor and actually got published. In today's world, many writers don't get filtered out by the editorial/publication process and go straight to self-publication. I know counter-examples exist to show that good writing can come out of self-publishing, but I will still give preference to works offered by traditional publishers over some $0.99 self-published eBook available on Amazon.

The Sad Puppies seem to express the problem that the Venn Diagram of stories they would put in the 10% (not crap) list and the stories that the Worldcon voters have put in the 10% list have the empty set as their intersection. I think that argument might have some merit and could have benefited from a civil discussion and even possible a campaign to rouse the Canine vote. Unfortunately, the Rabid Puppy stole any possibility for a rational discussion, making the Sad Puppy name even more of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

#487 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 10:18 AM:

On cons and doing handwork in public places--

My own crafty things don't lend themselves to being carried around and done at cons, but I see a *lot* of people doing various kinds of fiber work (knitting, embroidery, spinning, etc.) in panel audiences and quiet corners. People do comment (compliments, questions) on the work being done, and I have only observed positive responses. Often a little conversation will start.

For sitting in a public space at a con (hotel lobby, quiet corner) and *not* wanting to converse, I recommend a book. I often sit and read for a little while (a bit of down-time, not worth going back to my room) and am very rarely interrupted. When someone sits down near me, if I look up and smile/make eye contact, we may strike up a conversation. But if I just continue to concentrate on my book, people generally leave me alone.

#488 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 10:41 AM:

@ 368 CHip - I have two theories, which are both worth as much as you're paying for them.

1. Birders tend to congregate at places with good birds or at place where rarities have been spotted. Even if we assume an even split of--let's say 15% regrettable--for both lit SF and birders, if you are after a rare bird, everybody else in the field, no matter how young/callow/unworthy you believe them to be, has a good chance of being the one who spots the rarity. You absolutely need as many eyeballs as you can. Everybody in the field, in essence, has something you want.

Now, back at the lodge/meeting/whatever there will be fine old fights--the saga of Bob the Gull is legend in the PNW--and then someone who isn't an expert in gull ID may get ignored. Letters to the editor will be grim, as ever. But the primary unit of interaction is a place where if you refused to deal with the newbs, you could very well miss your target bird.

2. Birding is a hobby where you frequently have to shut up, because talking scares the birds. It's also a hobby where you are frequently wrong--obviously and in front of people. I'm not saying you can't be a pompous gate-keeping blowhard, but you gotta work like hell at it, because the next warbler in fall plumage that comes by is probably gonna knock you off your pedestal.

My guess...I think it's a hobby that pays to be welcoming because the young idiot with their dad's Bushnell's today could very well be the one who sends in a photo to the mailing list and says "Is this supposed to be in my backyard?" and triggers a stampede.

#489 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 10:43 AM:

... That should have been @ 460 CHip. Need more coffee.

#490 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 11:10 AM:

488
I have a memory of being out with the local Audubon group on one of their scheduled walks, where we were standing in roughly a half-circle around a tree, playing 'spot the yellow-breasted chat', and the only one who didn't see it was the leader.

#491 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 11:42 AM:

Kevin Callum @486 - to be honest, I think most readers have good enough instincts to filter out the "90%" from the self-published stuff anyway.

A little while back now, I produced an infallible cure for insomnia by listing every book that was then downloaded onto my Kindle - it included a couple of self-pubbed works. One of them (The Stone Man by Luke Smitherd) was actually a pretty decent SF/horror novel - oh, I could find things wrong with it, but I have the soul of a critic*, finding faults in pieces of writing is what gets me up in the mornings. Another, well, let's charitably not name it, and just call it "differently good". But that's still a 50% success rate, which is better than 10%.

Sometimes, self-publishing is just the right choice. I'm currently about half-way through Ian Sales's "Apollo Quartet". Four novellas with alternate-history takes on the Apollo programme, mostly linked by the details of the hardware involved - it's good stuff, actually, but it's very much in a niche all its own; you can easily see why a conventional publisher would pass on it. But I think I'm good enough to tell the difference between "self-pubbed because it's too offbeat" and "self-pubbed because it's rubbish" - and I think that's true of most readers in general.

*Small black wrinkly thing. I keep it in a jar. No, I'm not going to give it back, it's not like they were using it or anything.

#492 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 11:46 AM:

My folks are birders. I am an enthusiast, but to a lesser degree; a decade spent in St. John's has given me a good eye for the gulls of Eastern North America, though, and that's not nothing, even if I'm rubbish at warblers.

"I think that's a warbler!"
"Yep. What kind?"
"I got 'warbler' right, I'm taking the win".

One thing I have noticed since my folks got seriously into birding is the tendency for them to assume people know what they're talking about when they name a bird. "Oh, that was a white-capped."

Great. A white-capped WHAT? That's a common enough descriptor that it is probably in at least half-a-dozen bird names. Jargon is an inevitable time-saving product of enthusiasm, but it does tend to confuse people who aren't quite there yet in any group, I think.

#493 ::: clif ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 12:44 PM:

as a bird enthusiast myself I can wholeheartedly concur with the *insider's* language being a barrier ... but most of the bird-watching trips I've been on have been with extraordinarily friendly people who were more than willing to explain things to me.

oh yeah .. first post ... hello!

and yes a poem ... with apologies to Tom Wilson Weinberg (referenced over on File770 earlier)

be gentle please ...

The feathered dinosaur set about gathering sticks
In hopes of a brood of chicks
Never knowing that it was kicking against the pricks
As a lesbian Archaeopteryx

“A house made of sticks instead of bricks?”
Said the other dinosaurs with snorts and clicks
“You might as well adorn an Ankylosaur with lipsticks”
“Since you’re a lesbian Archaeopteryx”

But she didn’t mind not being in the cliques
She continued to search the streams and cricks
For she knew the amphibian DNA tricks
What a smart lesbian Archaeopteryx!

#494 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 01:24 PM:

@493 Clif! Are you "Olif" from 770? I have been enjoying your posts.

@478 My perspective is skewed, I realize, by the fact that I work, play, eat, and breath internet, and have done so pretty much my whole life. Finding organizations that refuse to accept online payments feels like dealing with people who only take cash and won't put their money in a bank. I guess it can work, but it seems pointlessly inefficient. Especially when it comes to SFnal people, whom I would expect to be as excited about new technology as I am.

#495 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 01:25 PM:

@490 Hey, yellow-breasted chats are HARD! That everybody else got it is impressive. It took an insanely good birder stationed at a drip to find me mine, and I got the usual two-second flash of wings look. Chats are skulky bastards.

#496 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 01:33 PM:

495
This one kept hiding on the other side of the tree - that's one reason we were standing around the tree!

#497 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 01:36 PM:

And, for birders, there are the ones called 'LBJs': little brown jobs.
And the one that was bopping along under the ivy, where we couldn't see it. Being fans - we were saying it was an invisible alien. (Wren, we think.)

#498 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 01:42 PM:

@ 493 clif - Ooh! What part of the country/world are you birding in, if I can ask and you aren't uncomfortable saying?

@ 492 Em - Knowledge of gulls is nothing to sneeze at. I can pretty much do ring-billed, laughing, and greater black-backed--anything else and I do the "it's a gull" shrug.

#499 ::: clif ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 01:44 PM:

@494 yes Sarah that's me ... *Olif* was the name that Tom Kratman decided to use when addressing me (when I made the mistake of attempting to interact with him) ... not sure why or how that's supposed to be insulting, but never-the-less when I pointed out the error ... he made it clear it *was* an insult.

@497 I love the *little brown birds*! All the different (and not so different) types of sparrows are my favorite.

#500 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 01:44 PM:

Some years ago, the computer scientist Donald Knuth had a web page which included a brief explanation of why he didn't have email: basically, he'd had email for a couple of decades, and it was useful if you needed or wanted to be reachable quickly and frequently, and get back to people quickly. He'd done that, but now he was officially retired, and wanted to avoid distractions and work on a book.

Whatever Knuth is, he is not a Luddite.

#501 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 02:01 PM:

UrsulaV@498: I bet you could also do kittiwakes! They're adorable (insofar as a gull can be adorable, I suppose. Gulls are mostly just jerks.)

In St. John's, you'd get greater black-backed gulls alongside kittiwakes, which was funny in that physical humour sort of way. They used to make me think of the Stock Bad Guys - the big bruiser and the little smart fellow.

I was also decent at local terns.

One thing I do like a lot about birds is that the names are often pretty descriptive. My best friend once asked me what that black bird with the red wings that shows up every spring was called.

"Oh, that's a red-winged blackbird."
"... seriously?"
"Yep."

#502 ::: clif ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 02:06 PM:

@501 I teach a bird unit in high school zoology class ... and believe me the names sometimes startle the kids ... imagine if you will a class of high school sophomores and juniors and a picture flashes up ... *blue footed boobie" ... snicker snicker *red-breasted nuthatch* tufted titmouse* ... and the show stopper ... *hairy woodpecker*

#503 ::: Kevin Callum ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 02:13 PM:

Steve Wright @491: Point taken.

I have nothing against self-publishing and agree that self-publishing alone doesn't provide a valid tool for excluding a work from my personal consideration. Several exceptional titles have gotten notable acclaim and even moved the author into traditional publishing (e.g., John Scalzi). While you may have used arcane powers to imprison the soul of a critic, I have done the same to the soul of an editor* and the essential essence of a typesetter**. The appalling design and numerous typos in much of the self-published works make me wail in despair, the sound of which I find quite distracting from the story. I have tried to look for new and novel things on Amazon, but I end up having a PTSD-like flashback to reading slushpile submissions. I'll read self-published material, but only if I have first heard about it through the buzz of people with opinions I trust. My current to-read list probably extends past my actual time left on this sphere.

I don't even know if readers need to actively filter out the 90%. As I said above, I think the Hugo mechanism in general provides a good filter. If a work sticks in your head, it probably has merit. If it sticks in enough people's heads, then it will probably make the Hugo ballot. Critics of the award have noted that far too many books get published for any one person to have read them all. So what! The nominating process collects the lists of all the good stuff and finds the commonalities.

———

*Editor's souls look equally shriveled but tend more toward the dark brownish colors from all the coffee.

**Which you must carefully handle because of all the sharp serifs.

#504 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 02:46 PM:

UrsulaV @358: Is Lard even punk any more? I've lost track.

Punk is another greying fandom these days. Remember the heyday of punk was 1974-78? The folks in Lard and KMFDM and the like are in their fifties; Sid Vicious would be 58 if he was still alive. I went to a Killing Joke gig a couple of years ago and, I kid you not, there were silverback punks pogoing on their walker frames.

#505 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 02:54 PM:

Sarah @396: to some extent it depends on the drinking culture you come from.

I've noticed that in the United States, bars are usually places people go to get drunk. Hard chairs, loud music/noise, blaring TV: they're not social venues (all the sensory stimuli are known to make people drink faster and get out). Whereas here in Scotland pubs are much like churches in parts of the US -- a social venue where you go weekly or more often to chat and meet up with friends and acquaintances. (And drinking happens, too.)

The point is, if you see a bunch of people from a drinking-is-a-social-activity culture chatting, they've probably got a bottle or a glass in hand. Whereas a bunch of people from a drinking-is-to-get-wasted culture is an entirely different kind of group. And it may be hard to tell the difference at a distance, at least without getting too close for comfort if it's the wrong kind for you.

#506 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 03:09 PM:

Sandy @425: I now have an impulse to write a short story titled "The Gibson Continuum", about a vlogger traipsing around the early-2030s USA documenting all the weird silicon valley cyberpunk era stuff they keep tripping over in the ruins, who accidentally finds themselves in "Blade Runner" for a bit, before they manage to get back home through the dimensional portal to the real world. Where men wear bowler hats and women wear corsets and long skirts and all the carriages are solar-powered, because steampunk went mainstream in a big way around the time we stopped burning oil, and, and ...

And now I think I need to go and lie down or have a drink or something.

#507 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 03:20 PM:

clif #493: Heh -- it's likely to be forever unknown whether dinosaurs could pull those amphibian/reptilian gender-bending tricks, but it does seem plausible. And now I'm wondering if birds can do it (GIYF: Wikipedia says "very rarely", and almost never viable).

#508 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 03:26 PM:

Me #507: Clarification: When I wondered "whether birds can do it", I was specifically thinking of parthenogenesis. Which a fair number of reptiles and amphibians can do. Along with, apparently, the rare and ambiguously lucky bird.

#509 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 03:35 PM:

I now have an impulse to write a short story titled "The Gibson Continuum", about a vlogger traipsing around the early-2030s USA

Charlie, I'll happily read anything you write, but between Diamond Age and Snow Crash I think Neal Stephenson has pretty much covered that territory... still, I understand the temptation perfectly - "The Grensbeck Continuum" should probably be updated every couple of decades.

#510 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 03:35 PM:

@ 504 Charlie Stross - Lard was one of Jello Biafra's side projects, and according to Wikipedia, he's 57 this year.

...so that's a thing.

#511 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 03:37 PM:

Kevin Callum @503 - I have a healthy respect for both editors and typesetters, especially the latter; they're what keep me away from self-publishing*. I believe I can tell a more-or-less competent story, and I'm even good enough to ctach msot of hte tyops, but the layout and design of a book matter, and getting them right is not trivial. It's one of those cases where "meh, good enough" is not good enough....


*For which some might say they deserve a vote of thanks.

#512 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 03:39 PM:

clif @ 499: That's Kratman's idea of an insult? I thought he was a better writer than that.

And while we're on the subject:

i sing of olif, strong and big
whose coolest mind recoiled at slush:
a conscientious puppykick-er

(but only of the human sort of ig
noramous who might think
a loud crude bark was good as wit)
who cheerful said, "There is some shit
I will not read". the end.

#513 ::: clif ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 03:48 PM:

@512 slow clap ... I think ;-)

#514 ::: clif ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 03:55 PM:

@498 UrsulaV -- I currently observe the birds in Southern Missouri ... a very rural area which has more birds than anywhere else I've lived. I also spend summers in Michigan and hope to do some birding in the Upper Peninsula.

#515 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 04:29 PM:

502
as opposed to the downy woodpecker - and telling them apart is something I can't do, although I'm sure I've seen at least one of the two species.

#516 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 05:02 PM:

clif @ 515: I'm not a birder, but I've spent a lot of time in the Michigan's Upper Peninsula over the years, some of it in the company of birders, and I can testify that there are lots of birds to look for. Including raptors--we've had a pair of nesting bald eagles for the past several years, as well as the usual ospreys and owls. And loons. I love loons. I also confess to a weakness for hummingbirds, even though I'm never been able to spot them until we get the feeders out. They are such scrappy, cantankerous little bundles of pure whoosh . . .

#517 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 05:44 PM:

Charlie #505 is being too kind to pubs in the UK. What we have had over the last few decades is the rise of pubs as places to get drunk, and more recently, "Vertical Drinking Establishments", which are designed and built to discourage talking, with few seats and loud music. (Not to mention unpleasant alcohol that often contains large amounts of sugar and flavourings)

The net result is lots of drunk teenagers and 20 somethings causing trouble in the streets.
Hmm, how to bring it back to the Hugo's...

Certainly in the user friendly types of pubs here, you can strike up a conversation with strangers, but there is something of a complex social understanding about how you do it. Although the older and more confident I get the more I just say things like "I couldn't help but hear you talking about X".

#518 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 05:48 PM:

P J : downy woodpeckers are smaller than hairy woodpeckers. I generally go with (for an adult) downy woodpeckers being smaller than my hand and hairy woodpeckers being longer than my hand, with the logic that hair is longer than down. You've probably seen both, given that they tend to take turns at the same birdfeeders and hang out in the same general habitat.

Give me a photo of one against a plain background with no indication of scale, though, and I'd be stumped.

#519 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 06:37 PM:

clif, 514: I used to live not far from an Audubon preserve (or something) in Joplin. But I moved away before I found out that birding is fun. (I'm currently at the "I watch the show but I'm not in the fandom" level of involvement.)

#520 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 06:49 PM:

518
In a tree, with nothing but tree for scale.
(Taptap, tap tap tap outside, overhead. Or, one time, off to one side while I was on the roof.)

#521 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 07:27 PM:

@ 514 clif - I've birded the UP! My folks live up there, and one of these days I have GOT to get to the preserve where the Kirtland's Warblers live.

(Note for non-birders: Kirtland's only breed in YOUNG jack pine forests, and are ridiculously endangered because you basically need a forest fire and a couple of years to make more warbler habitat. Give credit where it's due, the forest service has been working like dogs to preserve them, which is miles better than stuff like the Golden-cheeked Warbler, which is probably about to be de-listed because--of all stupidities--"it only lives in one state." *snarls*)

Some good stuff in summer and fall in the UP! I got my Gray-Cheeked Thrush up there, and most of my Pipits and a bunch of Buntings. Plus all the ducks forever.

I've never birded Missouri, but a lot of the southern states have great stuff. (I regret strongly that I left Arizona when I was still just barely into the hobby and didn't have the money to travel anywhere anyway. So many amazing birds, and now I have to make long trips to see them...)

@ 519 TexAnne - I'm at that point with moths, which is possibly an even more obscure hobby than birding. I have made a compromise at "I will ID the ones in my garden, but I will not travel to see new ones." Once you start traveling, I think, is when you fall down the slope into fandom...

#522 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 07:51 PM:

UrsulaV @521: A forest fire and a couple of years of jackpine growth for Kirkland's Warblers? I didn't know that! Might they nest outside the reserve, if the conditions were right? We had a major forest fire not far away, about five years ago, and the jackpine plantations should be coming back by now . . .

#523 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 07:53 PM:

BTW, to those whose Sasquan emails seem to disappear, be aware that somewhere in Sasquan's system, incoming emails to the registration email address are getting flagged as spam. In my case, my emails were rescued, but that might be a source of some of the issues.

(Tom Whitmore, this might be why info@ seems more responsive than registration@.)

#524 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 08:38 PM:

Sarah, #494: Neither my local bead society nor my local gem & mineral society have any provision for paying membership dues online. I suspect that the former will get around to it eventually, the average age of that group being much younger than in the latter, which has a high preponderance of the kind of older men who think it's funny to make genteel putdowns of women and their interests even when the women are part of their group. (So why am I a member? It gets me access to some very expensive equipment that I otherwise couldn't have, and occasionally an interesting class.)

P J Evans, #497: Wildflower enthusiasts have a few jargonish terms too. One that we particularly like is "compositensis nearoadia", which means "little daisylike flowers by the road".

Various: Speaking of birds, apparently the bridge construction on the overpass near our house is now complete enough that the cliff swallows have come back! For those who don't know, cliff swallows were originally found only in the Western states where there were mesas with cliff sides, but they have been migrating steadily eastward by colonizing interstate overpasses. They're pretty birds to watch in flight, and they eat TONS of mosquitoes, so I'm glad to see them around again.

#525 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 08:52 PM:

@ 522 Mary Frances - One can hope! The big problem, as with any endangered species, is that there's so darn few of them that they don't always happen into perfectly good habitat. And the Kirtland's has specialized itself into a precarious place, now that we control fires so well, so the habitat's patchy and uncommon anyway.

A friend of mine tells about one that wandered into Cape May, which is one of the High Holy Grounds of birding, in mid-migration. The bird literally had its own park ranger assigned to tail it around the park and protect it from paparazzi. (I've seen similar treatments down in Texas at King Ranch, with the Ferruginous Pygmy Owl. There's only about a dozen nesting pairs in the US, all in extreme southern Texas. The ranch makes good money bringing birders in to see the owls, and they are VERY strict about how many times you can play a call per week to avoid stressing the owls. One of the best handlings of rare species on private property I've encountered. We were lucky enough to see an owl. They are tiny and fierce and grumpy!)

The other one to watch that--in a just world--would be hitting the Endangered List shortly is the Cerulean Warbler. Unfortunately they're probably goners, because their breeding habitat corresponds depressingly closely with the areas where mountain-top removal mining is big, and they like...mountain tops. So it's in a lot of powerful people's best interest that they do not ever get listed. Audubon and the IUCN have them listed as No, Really There's A Problem, Guys, but they are a tiny bird up against very big political forces.

#526 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 09:03 PM:

UrsulaV @488: I now desperately want to know the saga of Bob The Gull, if it is recountable here and not arcane knowledge, sacred to birders, only for those privy to the secret of the White-Capped What.

#527 ::: Kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 09:31 PM:

Ursula, I too must know about Bob the Gull. I actually spent ten minutes fruitlessly googling after you mentioned the story. Please spill!

Regarding organizations that don't do online membership fees, I think that's perfectly reasonable if I'm going to see the treasurer face to face every Tuesday night. On the other hand I still write checks quite happily for most bills, so I'm not particularly modern. It's downright weird for organizations that meet less frequently to not have an online option.
I also have to say that I'm baffled at the notion of people in fandom not having email addresses. Truly, I expect to meet or learn about people I don't understand, yet fully accept, in fannish circles, but this one took me off guard. Email is such a useful and simple tool, with such an ancient technological lineage - from the semaphore telegraph,* to the electric telegraph, to the Telex machine, to the pre-web browser Internet - not having email is like not having round wheels.
On the other hand, not having is not the same thing as not using, or using very minimally, or not using except for mandatory work, or not using within fandom due to email harassment. Goodness knows, I don't use Facebook (evil relatives), LinkedIn (terrible jobs), or Twitter (gators live there), and I'm sure that I'm missing out on some things. But email is one of those general purpose tools, on par with flathead screwdrivers, that I can use without being subject to too many costs.

*idea: what if the appeal of steampunk, in addition to the cosplay, is that you get to play with the original version of the problematic technologies we deal with on a daily basis. Sort of speculative fiction aimed at the past instead of the future?

#528 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 09:41 PM:

Wrote this years ago now; it seemed apropos.

My sister November 1987 catches birds
in nets at sunrise;
on my desk there is a photo
and she's bleary-eyed and smiling,
hair, eyes, everything amber in the dawn.
In her hands there is a songbird,
tiny legs between two fingers, waiting for a ring.
Its feathers fan out, blue on black,
its breath caught.
They are perfect.

On my desk also there is a magazine, open
to a picture of a bird. It is glassy-eyed
in a glass tube on a shelf, legs
stretched behind it like no bird ever living.
The label is faded, its feathers are faded,
the light's gone out of everything,
even the ink which dimly reads
Dusky Seaside Sparrow June 1987. Last one.

#529 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 10:41 PM:

Clif @ 499: MY interpretation, based on Kratman deliberately getting multiple peoples' names wrong (In one case he considers what to rename somebody within his comment) is that it isn't what the name he chooses for you happens to be that's the insult, it's that it's not your name, period.

Along the lines of the people who couldn't be bothered to learn their own servants' names and therefore called every house girl "Daisy"...

I left that thread fairly quickly for sheer toxicity, so I may have missed something.

Em @ 528: That is gorgeous. I am so glad you posted it.

(I'm fond of watching the birds outside, but I would never make a birder; while I will look up odd new songbirds in our own yard, or try to ID the hawks in the park (I think Cooper's)the idea of travelling JUST to see a new bird, however rare, has me scratching my head and saying, "You go enjoy that, then..." and yet I can totally admire the feelings you describe.)

#530 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 10:50 PM:

524
Known more familiarly as 'DYCs' (for 'damned yellow composites'? There are so many of them out there, starting with the ones in your yard.

#531 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 11:03 PM:

So Kratman* is not only a garden-variety jerk, but a superannuated fratboy like Tony DiNozzo?

Charlie 506: Well, if anyone can make that work, it will be you. In fact, I'll bet you could make it hilarious.


*Too easy, really. Beneath my weight class and my dignity to bother.

#532 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 11:10 PM:

In vexillology the hard-to-identify annoying group is SOBs -- Seals on Bedsheets.

For more, see Roman Mars' recent TED talk about city flags (video), or at more length his 99% Invisible episode on the same subject (audio, though there's a text-and-pics website summary). The TED talk is illustrated and covers some of the same material as the episode, which goes into much greater detail (including about the recent redesign of Portland's flag).

#533 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 11:23 PM:

@ 528 Em - That is painful and lovely.

Bob the Gull! Heavens, I feel like I should start this in skaldic style--I sing of the Gull, frustrating of fieldmarks!

Well, bear in mind this is a secondhand account, as related to me, but apparently a gull showed up in the neighborhood of Seattle that was ALMOST an Icelandic gull. Which is a pale, medium-sized gull that MAY have all white wing tips, (some have a tick of black) and would be incredibly rare. Meanwhile, a Glaucous gull, which would merely be uncommon, is a somewhat larger gull that does have white wing tips and the juveniles can be very pale. Both have a yellow bill with a red spot.

This gull was apparently smack dab in the middle. Pale! But a little too big to be one! But a little too small to be the other! And not a juvenile because the bill is wrong but third year gulls are weird and not quite right for an adult of either species.

Now, if the bird had come through and left immediately, probably everyone would have shrugged and moved on, but the damn bird over wintered and hung around for months. Everybody had photos of this gull. And the fights broke out--apparently at every Audubon meeting for months, or so the legend says--because if it was an Iceland gull, people could count a new life bird (or a new state bird--state listing is a specialized for of bird fandom) but if it was a hybridized Glaucous x Iceland they couldn't. (Hybrids don't count.) And you had people who could tell a gull from a shot of a wingtip arguing it was and experts just as good on the other side arguing it wasn't, and impassioned "I know an Iceland when I see one!" and so on. Slides were involved.

I am told there was shouting. It is the sort of thing that would have given rise to filk in other fandoms.

Eventually Seattle Audubon ruled that it was neither Glaucous nor Iceland, it was Bob. Bob was his own thing, Bob defied categorization, and no more meeting time would be taken up by it. Henceforth, he was Bob the Gull, only one of his kind, and let us never speak of this again.

Eventually Bob flew away, before it occurred to someone to try and catch him for a DNA sample.

People being what they are, I'm sure there are still birders who aren't talking to each other, and I'm sure a few people wrote "Iceland Gull" on their life lists, but your lifelist is between you and your God, and the rest of us shall not intervene unless asked for advice.

And that is the story of Bob the Gull. And unless he has since died, I am sure he is living still.

#534 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 11:32 PM:

533
ROFLMAO and hurray for Bob the Gull!

#535 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: May 17, 2015, 11:45 PM:

I wonder if Bob the Gull was a hybrid, just to screw with you more. Gulls would do that. Gulls are jerks.

#536 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 12:13 AM:

@ 535 Em - I am in no way qualified to speculate, but my source thinks that Bob was probably a hybrid, yeah, although gulls are weird and spiteful and it's not impossible that he was something else entirely.

#537 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 12:19 AM:

Both "hybrid" and "weird and spiteful" seem entirely plausible, from what little I know of gulls. Thank you very much for the skalding!

#538 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 02:55 AM:

I'm interested somewhat in birds, though I wouldn't call myself a birder. (My bridge partner is.) I know enough to notice that Westeros seems to be located in North America: in the bedchamber scene with Margaery and Tommen (I think it was episode 4) you could clearly hear at intervals the call of the common nighthawk; and in this week's episode it seems that Dorne has at least one northern cardinal.

#539 ::: Tamlyn ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 05:17 AM:

I can't even recognise the most common of birds. Or plants. Or anything interesting. I probably need a better plan than glasses which identify things for me if I ever want to be able to though.

I've tried looking up birds before, but I think they were all ones that are too common to get on bird sites!

#540 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 06:46 AM:

UrsulaV @ #533:

Please excuse poor scansion, but this is merely a 30-second attempt at a start.

Seattle fair saw Bob the Gull.
Species-confused, with wingtip white.

Icelandic, to some.
Indigenous to others.

Aaaaand that was as far as it went, before my brain went "this really should be a saga, not a poem".

#541 ::: Mercy ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 06:49 AM:

@533 UrsulaV:

I know it's not ornithologically correct, but my brain insists* that that line should be "I sing of the seagull, frustrating of fieldmarks" for the alliteration stress scheme. But then my study was of Anglo-Saxon poetry, not Norse, and, eep, nearly 20 years ago. If I were a little less rusty, I might try to add on to the verse.

*and by insists, I mean that when I read the line it replaces gull with seagull and I have to read it like four times to get it right.

#542 ::: Paul Herzberg ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 07:16 AM:

guthrie #517

You shifted Charlie's "Scotland" to "UK" and I don't know if it's significant. As far as I can tell, Scotland has a different drinking culture to England.

I would like to note that the rise of "drinking to get drunk" pubs seems to coincide with the government's decision that what landlords really needed was another layer of management between them and the breweries.

#543 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 07:22 AM:

Paul Herzberg @ #542:

I've certainly noticed a growth in "bars" as opposed to "pubs" in London, over the last 10-15 years. I much prefer an establishment with "not very loud", a decent selection of beverages, alcoholic or non-alcoholic, for the purposes of having conversations with people I like having conversations with.

#544 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 09:07 AM:

@ 538 David Goldfarb - Birds in film are one of the enjoyable nitpicks of the hobby. (Well, I enjoy it.) Every birder I know is still wondering why Radagast had an American Robin, and there's a frickin' Whippoorwill calling in the opening supposed-to-be-in-Europe sequence of "Hudson Hawk" (during daylight hours, no less!)

@ 540 Bravo! (It occurs to me I don't know the proper term of praise for a skald.)

@ 541 It'd definitely scan better, yeah, but I know a couple birders who will get tight around the eyes in that trying-not-to-be-pedantic-but-it's-killing-me way over "seagull." Perhaps "seabird" would fit?

#545 ::: clif ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 09:14 AM:

@533 oh my yes!! I've long since given up on gulls ... I try to spend a week or so on the gulf coast every year and learned quickly that distinguishing between gulls was mostly just a matter of calling it either a laughing gull or a herring gull (which arguments break out about *which* type of herring gull) ... sooo Bob the Gull is perfect for those that just don't match with any known description.

two years ago I had a great trip for my life list, adding two birds ... the Seaside Sparrow and a Frigatebird (of which there are five species, I most likely spotted the Magnificent Frigatebird).

I really should get back into the hobby ... life interferes you know.

#546 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 09:32 AM:

UrsulaV @533:

People being what they are, I'm sure some people dutifully wrote "Bob the gull" in their life-lists as well, once the Seattle Audubon settled the matter.

#547 ::: clif ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 09:35 AM:

#521 UrsulaV

I've been to that forest in Michigan ... well at least the one in the upper part of lower Michigan (Huron National Forest)! Read about the Kirtland's Warbler etc. But we decided not to do the guided drive as it would take a bit more time than we had. So sadly I did not actually get to *see* a Kirtland's warbler.

On a related note I cannot recommend enough a drive through of the Rifle River Recreation area!!

#548 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 09:38 AM:

UrsulaV: Every birder I know is still wondering why Radagast had an American Robin

Likely the same reason the hobbits had potatoes and tobacco. :)

#549 ::: nickelby ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 09:53 AM:

Just read "Turncoat". It's a Bolo story with the serial number filed off. (And the number still shows through a bit too much IMO,& while I liked it, Hugo worthy it ain't!)

It irritated me enough to see what Keith Laumer Bolo tales I had on my eBook reader. Only David Weber's homage "BOLO!" at the moment which did reveal a conspiracy! (The evil Melconian Empire...the "puppies")

#550 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 09:55 AM:

Em @501:

One thing I do like a lot about birds is that the names are often pretty descriptive. My best friend once asked me what that black bird with the red wings that shows up every spring was called.

Sometimes. I've seen the red belly on a Red-bellied Woodpecker exactly once, and neither Ruby-crowned Kinglets nor Orange-crowned Warblers are likely to show off their namesakes. (Those at least have the excuse of not having more obvious markings to be named for. Don't get me started on Ring-necked Ducks; they have a perfectly obvious ring on their *bills* and someone picked a subtle plumage detail instead.)

#551 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 09:57 AM:

Em @518:

For downies and hairies without a good size indicator (which is most of the time, unless they're at a feeder or something else for scale), look at the size of the beak relative to the head. A downy has a tiny little beak, a hairy's is about as long as its head.

#552 ::: Mercy ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 10:05 AM:

@544 Sure, "seabird" works fine. The word there just really needs to start with an "s".

Actually went and looked up the rules, darnit.

Sing I of seabird, snow-tipped cryer
Frustrating of fieldmarks, far-ranging the talk
Strident squabble, slides mind-unchanging
Spiteful scavanger, species unclear
Long-living the legend , life-lists confusing
Bringing blood feud, Bob is himself

#553 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 10:08 AM:

UrsulaV @525:

(I've seen similar treatments down in Texas at King Ranch, with the Ferruginous Pygmy Owl. There's only about a dozen nesting pairs in the US, all in extreme southern Texas.

Aren't there still some in southern Arizona? There were when I lived there, but that was almost ten years ago now. (I never managed to spot one.) Southeast Arizona was a great place to get hooked on birding.

#554 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 10:31 AM:

Elliott Mason (532): Not knowing the word 'vexillology', my first parse of 'Seals on Bedsheets' was the animals. I finally got it, but it took a minute.

Tamlyn (539): I can't identify many birds or plants, either. I can tell a chickadee from a robin, and a gull* from a pigeon, but that's about it.

*which my brain insists is properly 'seagull'; it was with great difficulty that I bowed to Ursula's expertise in this thread and typed 'gull' instead

#555 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 10:48 AM:

I'm not a birder, but I still vividly remember the "What the hell is that?" moment when what turned out to be a brown thrasher perched momentarily on the back deck foliage.

#556 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 11:07 AM:

Mary Aileen @554 my first parse of 'Seals on Bedsheets' was the animals

Mine too. But I thought they would be fairly easy to identify.

#557 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 11:13 AM:

Mercy, #552: Bravo!

#558 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 11:21 AM:

Mary Aileen @ 554: Hey, in my family, all gulls (sea- or whatever variety) are called Gee You Elevens . . . apparently that was a Naval acronym, from way back when. Anyone know if it's still current?

#559 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 11:34 AM:

I'm suddenly wondering how doable a trip to Svalbard would be, if I end up heading to Finland for Worldcon. Might be worth trying to see the Ivory gull before we lose them. The world's only pure white gull... they showed up in the BBC 'spy on polar bears' series, for those who are interested...

#560 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 11:52 AM:

Love the Saga of Bob the Gull -- and the saga of the Saga.

My grandmother loved to watch the birds, so she taught me the ones she knew. She died 15 years ago, and I still feed the birds to watch them from my kitchen windows. I've seen a parakeet flocking with the LBJs (sparrows), and the Blue Jays are making a come back after dealing with West Nile (the crows, too). I've got Hairy and Downy, and Yellow-Shafted Flicker; my parents get the Pileated; my partner's house is up in the farmlands, so the Red-Winged Blackbird is very common up there.

I remember looking out to see a huge bird in my yard, a vulture with a bit of roadkill. We've also got a resident Red-Shouldered Hawk in our neighborhood, and I recall seeing a wading bird -- probably a heron -- nesting in a tall tree.

I once spent a good fifteen minutes watching the crows fly over, in a huge flock. It was their regular evening get-together, but I'd never realized just how many of them did it. The stream of birds wasn't even ending when I left. I could tell the younger birds from the older ones, by the way they flew around each other, playfully; the older birds just shouldered on with determination. Quite a sight.

I'm not a full-fledged birder*, although I do have a copy of Sibley's; I just like looking at them and knowing their names.

*Pun intended.

#561 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 12:10 PM:

My family sponsored an exchange student from Brazil whose response to red-winged blackbirds was "oh! we have those!"

Yes, maybe even the same ones, as their migratory pattern bridged Bahia and Nebraska.

#562 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 12:18 PM:

Even the arguably descriptive names aren't always helpful.

Pileated woodpecker. Hairy woodpecker. Downy woodpecker. Any of the adjectives could be used for any of the three species, if they hadn't each been assigned one.

#563 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 12:24 PM:

Sarah @550 Flights from Helsinki to Svalbard (via Oslo) are available but prices look highly variable in August (only checking this year, obvsly): anywhere from €360 to €950 per person, depending on exactly which days match the itinerary. Didn't check accommodations in Svalbard. Activities and such, with prices in Norwegian crown-thingies, are at visitsvalbard.com. Looks beautiful but chilly.

#564 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 12:29 PM:

Peace @550 I'm not a birder, but I still vividly remember the "What the hell is that?" moment when what turned out to be a brown thrasher perched momentarily on the back deck foliage.

A "What the hell" bird is one thing, but a "Lord God!" bird is something else entirely.

#565 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 12:33 PM:

oops, Peace @555, dangnabbit.

(Headlines are always the hardest things to proofread.)

#566 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 12:44 PM:

Sarah @ #559:

If you allow for a couple of spare days, "probably doable". When I looked at schedules right now, it looked like either "1 change, in Oslo, for 6-8h flight time" or "30+h, with routing all over the place", depending on what departure day I selected, so I suspect it's 3-4 flights per week and that is likely to be the limiting factor for "possible" or "not possible".

#567 ::: clif ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 12:44 PM:

@562 Vicki ... Pileated's are considerably larger than the other two species ... if you see a Pileated you'll know it as in "Oh my god what was that!!! A Pterodactyl??"

#568 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 01:08 PM:

Mercy@552: *applause*

#569 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 01:36 PM:

clif @567 -- slightly off-topic but you made me remember: I was driving over the San Mateo bridge many years ago, and I looked up and thought, perfectly calmly: "Oh, a pterodactyl. You don't see many of those these days." (beat) "A PTERODACTYL?" It was a plane turning to land at SFO, but still....

#570 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 01:45 PM:

@Doug and Ingvar -- thank you, you're awesome! If I go to Finland (and, while I do fervently hope to, it would take some good luck), I will definitely make it into a nice long trip.

@567 Is "Oh dear God!" one of the Pileated's field marks? It should be. They are such beautiful birds, and so big compared to the other woodpeckers. A friend (non-birder) spotted one in his yard and initially mistook it for a chicken...

(Confession: I was on a bicycling trip with some friends and almost caused a five-bike pile-up when a red-headed woodpecker flew across the road. In my defense, I'd never seen one before, and they're gorgeous. They ought to be common around here; I think the starlings keep them away from town.)

#571 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 02:33 PM:

@ 552 Mercy - Bravo! If I had a mead cup, I'd bang it on the table!

@ 555 Peace - When I first started out ID'ing birds on my deck on the greenway, I was seeing Wood Thrushes, and the pictures and the descriptions in my (bargain bin) bird guide were a lot like Brown Thrashers. So I was always worried that I was confusing the two--until the day I actually SAW a Brown Thrasher, and holy crap, it looked like it had killed the thrush and was wearing its skin around. They have such vivid, wild eyes and they look so much more menacing than the thrushes. It was a bit of a shock about how two birds that technically look alike actually look nothing at all alike.

@ 562 Doug - You see one of those, the boys at Cornell are gonna want a word with you... (I also have a story about The Time I Nearly Murdered A Guide Over Nonexistent Ivory Billed Woodpeckers, but it's more of a slice of life, and arguably gives lie to my statements that birders are generally nice people...)

#572 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 02:53 PM:

Annie Y: what Lee said, with a side of "Air travel itself has become more stressful as the airlines see how much they can extract from their customers (e.g., seat space, luggage fees, food fees, ...)." Cons are a different animal.

UrsulaV @ 488: fascinating and enlightening thoughts. And loved your story of Bob the Gull.

Vicki @ 500: Knuth, as a major creator, is a several-sigma outlier. If he's no longer interested in being entangled at his former level, that's his privilege.

#573 ::: Mercy ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 02:56 PM:

Thanks for the plaudits, everyone!

On the topic of birds, I find that I miss chickadees (the local Meise are similar but not similar enough, especially with a totally different call) and cardinals over here (in Germany).

The last time I was back in the US, I was looking out a first (second) floor window into a tree, and thinking to myself "what IS that? It's kinda robin-like, but it's the way too big..." It turns out, after seven and a half years (as it was then) of living in Germany, my idea of what a robin looks like has switched to match the European ones.

#574 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 03:58 PM:

Mary Frances @558
I assume GU-11 was in US Navy slang use because it was a plausible aircraft designation, rather than an acronym per se. Sailors!

#575 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 04:43 PM:

Various, re woodpeckers: Apparently the real "Good God bird" is the ivory-bill, long thought to have been extinct but recently (as in, within the past couple of decades) re-sighted in Arkansas. (Or maybe not; there seems to be some controversy over whether or not it's a variation on the pileated.) My partner swears he saw one once in our yard, but by the time he got back into the house and out again with the camera it was gone.

#576 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 04:52 PM:

OK - all the birders - what are the small sparrow-like birds that are all over Phoenix and this part of Arizona? I keep calling them sparrows but have a sneaking suspicion that they are something else? Any ideas?

#577 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 05:10 PM:

576
Finches, maybe. (House finches are a definite possibility.)

If they're small, with longish tails, and very active, and your landscaping seems to be full of them twittering as they move around: bushtits.

#578 ::: Duncan J Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 05:36 PM:

Errolwi @ 574 and Mary Frances @558
I assume GU-11 was in US Navy slang use because it was a plausible aircraft designation, rather than an acronym per se. Sailors!

Yes. There is a GU-11 now (prototype S/VTOL), but back in the day (mumble) years ago, a GU-11 was a more specific sub-type of a generic Bee-One-Arr-Dee (B1RD).

GU-11s even came in a Charlie Mod. (C-GU11)

#579 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 05:43 PM:

@577 P J Evans

They are small (like a sparrow - the European variety that I grew up with), loud while hopping around (and there is a lot of them) so I suspect your second guess is correct. Haven't really noticed their tails though - decided that they are sparrows when I moved here and never thought of it again until last week someone that just moved asked me what they are and then this birding conversation started - so need to check this. :) Thanks

#580 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 06:09 PM:

In re surprising backyard birds: I keep misremembering how big bluejays are. I mean, I KNOW they're corvids, and I know they're biggish, but when they're not actually IN my yard for a couple of weeks I find my instinctive "how big is that bird" measurement downgrades itself to "Ehh, robin-sized."

Bluejays are not robin-sized. And so every time one turns up on my feeders it jolts me with an apparent scale error until I remember, no, that's actually how big they are, honest.

(I miss my backyard feeders, dammit. But my current yard has no good places to put them without installing Serious Infrastructure, which we have not yet managed to do; everywhere is less than a 6' squirrel-leap from squirrel-accessible pathways)

#581 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 06:12 PM:

I find whatbird.com's bird search to be really useful for ID'ing North American birds. It's not perfect*, but if it's not a weird edge case accidental bird, it hasn't failed me yet. You essentially play Bird 20 Questions by ticking off boxes

- Where did you see the bird?
- Is it shaped vaguely like a duck?
- Is it bigger than a hummingbird?
- What colour is it?
- Was it in a swamp?

and so on, and it gives you a shrinking list of birds fitting those characteristics, and you can click on them to see pictures until you get the one that makes you go "aha". It's excellent for impressing friends on the internet who inexplicably send you photos of birds going "Em, your family are Bird People, what's this?", when they also have your sister's address and your sister has a degree in wildlife biology with a focus on ornithology.

I wonder if my sister gets questions about poetry and computer games.

*there was a Ross's Gull in my area for the first time in thirty years a couple of years ago, and it wouldn't have helped with that because they're not from around here - they're Russian, we reckon it probably got blown over the pole or stuck on a ship, though as it's an Eastern Russian bird and we're in Eastern Canada, who the hell knows.

#582 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 06:15 PM:

Back on the topic of Hugos - the Hugo packet is out, with 3 of the 5 novels complete texts included (The Three-Body Problem, The Goblin Emperor and Anderson's 8th in a series thingie) and a lot of other things.

Just on time for my long trip later this week :)

#583 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 07:16 PM:

One of my edge cases for putting things on my life list is the brown booby. I saw one hanging out at the penguin exhibit in the Woodland Park Zoo, in Seattle. The guide said that their best guess was that the bird had been wind-blown or hitched a ride on a ship, got to the Seattle area, and discovered this interesting area full of rocks and all the fish it could eat.

My basic reasoning was that if a storm-carried Calliope hummingbird in a New York City park counted, so would this. This life list isn't about science, it's about trying to remember moments of delight. Like the peacock I saw out a bus window on Interstate-84 once.

#584 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 07:49 PM:

I've started downloading my Hugo packet-- it looks as though worldcon members aren't individually emailed about the packet when it becomes available. Is this true? If so, I suggest emailing members would be a good idea.

#585 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 07:54 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @ 584

Sasquan seems to be sending the individual mails a few days after the press bulletins (and after something is on the site) - happened when the Hugo voting opened for example. So I suspect they will send the mails at some point...

#586 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 07:57 PM:

I am no birder by a long shot, but since we've moved (about a half-mile north up the road) we've been hearing the high-pitched jingle-buzz of a hummingbird zipping by the building. At times we've seen it passing through the trees and even *perching* in them, both in the front and back of the building.

I hung up a hummingbird feeder in hopes of bringing them to my office window out front. Since then I have *only* heard them out back, including a purposeful dive at the regular feeder where the house finches congregate.

Little buggers.

/waves furiously "Go around the other side!"

#587 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 08:20 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @584: I'm told that Sasquan sends out the emails in batches, in order to prevent it being marked as spam by various intermediates. So it seems to take a few days for everyone's email to get through. You can access the packet before the email arrives by using the Hugo voting PIN that you should have gotten (or using the lookup feature available on the relevant Sasquan webpages).

You know how the future isn't evenly distributed? The emails aren't evenly distributed in time.

#588 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 08:37 PM:

586
we put the feeder where the hummingbirds seem to think it should be - it's trial and error. (Their trial, our error, I think.)

In west Texas, the feeder was a fall thing - the rufus hummingbirds stopped for a week or three on their way south. (One year we had something like five of them, each claiming that the feeder belonged to it, and mowing the lawn in that part of the yard was more interesting than I liked.)

#589 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 08:51 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @584 I got my email this afternoon about the Hugo packet. Releasing emails in batches to avoid triggering spam filters makes sense to me.

#590 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 09:21 PM:

I also got the email about the votor packet today. Tom is right; your membership number and PIN should give you access to the Hugo packet.

#591 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 10:09 PM:

@ 583 Vicki - Oh, I am envious of that sighting! I was on a cruise ship viewing an Alaskan glacier and a frickin' ROCK DOVE (aka the common pigeon) flew past the stateroom balcony. We think it must have been living on the ship, because rock doves are hardy, but that was a little extreme.

Birds, man.

#592 ::: MickyFinn ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 10:14 PM:

OtterB @ 589 - I suspect the release of email in batches is also an attempt to avoid the risk generating a DDoS on their download servers.

#593 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 10:41 PM:

Carrie 548: Likely the same reason the hobbits had potatoes and tobacco.

Wait, you thought "pipeweed" was tobacco? They mellowed out when smoking it, right? "Geez, Gandalf, chill out, man. It was just a little glimpse into that stupid palantír."

(Yes, I'm joking.)

#594 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 10:51 PM:

Hey, Tolkien said it was "a variety of Nicotiana," which means New World. For Old World you'd need one of the Cannabises.

And even if it were hemp, that wouldn't explain the potatoes. :)

#595 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 10:54 PM:

Carrie S @594,

It does nicely explain why Gollum didn't know what a potato was; the potato must have been discovered during the several hundred years he'd hidden under the mountain...

#596 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 18, 2015, 10:57 PM:

It does nicely explain why Gollum didn't know what a potato was

I always thought that he just didn't know the slang/dialect "taters", but I like this better.

#597 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 12:45 AM:

P J Evans, #588: Heh. We've occasionally had Interesting Situations like that during mockingbird nesting season. There was one female that used to consistently build her nest in the big bush at the edge of the driveway, and would ferociously buzz humans attempting to load the vehicle for a con! I'm pretty sure I actually felt her wing brush along my back one afternoon.

#598 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 12:56 AM:

597
At least they stayed about head height - most of the time. They did turn the air blue, though. (Hummers have a really fine vocabulary when it comes to cussing.)

#599 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 12:57 AM:

Ohnosecond: above head height.

#600 ::: Greg M. ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 01:08 AM:

Elisa @257 Re: Plan 9 from Outer Space and the Oscars...

This is a very silly comment.

Plan 9 was released in 1959. I'd rather watch it again then 3 of the 5 Best Picture nominees for that year (Ben-Hur, A Nun's Story, and A Room at the Top), so I could absolutely advocate it for a Best Pic nomination.

Original Screenplay is a lot harder: 400 Blows, Wild Strawberries, Pillow Talk, North by Northwest. Maybe it beats out Operation Petticoat, as I have never heard of Operation Petticoat.

#601 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 01:22 AM:

I am, in passing, charmed by the way even a fraught and frustrating topic like the Hugos issue this year can be easily sidetracked into discussion about things we care about and want to share with each other. Whether it's thoughts on gender or the story of Bob the Gull. It's one of the reasons I love hanging around here, y'know?

#602 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 01:34 AM:

Greg M. @ 600: I don't think there's anything silly about pointing out that the pleasure that comes from watching a really bad movie is different from the enjoyment that comes from watching a good one, or even a passably mediocre one. Or even the pleasure that one might or might not come from a movie that was considered good in its day but that hasn't worn well. Personally, you couldn't get me to watch Plan 9 again without holding a gun to my head--once was enough, thank you--but that isn't the point.

Oh, and Operation Petticoat is the WWII movie with Cary Grant and Tony Curtis and the pink submarine. It's . . . not an incompetent screenplay, in my opinion, but it also isn't one of Hollywood's enduring masterpieces. FWIW.

#603 ::: Jeffrey Smith ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 03:55 AM:

Lee @597:

My mockingbirds are apparently more aggressive than yours, as they would definitely hit you, repeatedly. My wife couldn't take it, and actually gave up gardening one year; we'd stand at the window and watch the weeds grow. We also cut down on using the grill. I tried sharing a bowl of blueberries with the male in hopes of making friends -- he would eat the berries if I dropped them close enough to him, but he still hated me. I still had to take the trash out, and would get hit half a dozen times each trip. I finally starting disguising myself, wearing two baseball caps with the bills pointed in different directions, and that actually worked. The two-cap person had never accidentally gotten too close to the nest, and so was left alone.

They make new nests every year, so they aren't always in my yard, fortunately. The last time they tried, I spotted it early and threw it away (no eggs yet) and they moved on.

#604 ::: Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 04:28 AM:

@594 There are Old World species of Nicotiana. Some Australian species were chewed, but as you might point that's even more remote than North America. Nicotiana africana is rather rare, and is endemic to Namibia.

Wikipedia tells me that the plant is consistently called tobacco in The Hobbit.

#605 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 05:31 AM:

Nicotiana africana is rather rare, and is endemic to Namibia.

I read this as "endemic to Narnia." Which was momentarily puzzling.

#606 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 06:01 AM:

Carrie S @594 Nitpick: Tolkien actually said "... a variety probably of Nicotina.". Probably suggests some doubt, although he most likely said that because it would be identified in a medieval way rather than a more modern classiificational-biological way.

(In theory New World plants etc. were introduced into Middle Earth by the Númenóreans, and as Númenór sank into the ocean as a side effect of the world changing from flat to round a hundred years before Isildur gets hold of the ring, potatoes will have been present in Middle Earth for several thousand years before Gollum is born. That doesn't mean he ever saw them of course.)

#607 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 07:38 AM:

Fade Manley #601: ... the way even a fraught and frustrating topic like the Hugos issue this year can be easily sidetracked into discussion about things we care about and want to share with each other.

But of course, the Hugos are about things we care about and want to share with each other.

#608 ::: Arkady Martine ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 08:04 AM:

So on the subject of birds -- I'm in no sense a birder, but I like knowing approximately what sort of avians are nearby, and I've just moved to Sweden, and am thus confused by EVERY BIRD.

There seem to be some medium-sized black birds with silver-grey heads around here (I'm in Uppsala, 40 minutes north of Stockholm), which make me think of small corvids but probably aren't. They hang out by the river.

Anybody got an idea? I like them a lot, and I'd like to know what they are.

#609 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 08:08 AM:

Arkady Martine: There's a picture in the entry, are they this? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_jackdaw

#610 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 08:15 AM:

@608 Maybe they're jackdaws...? Do they have black faces, and sort of a silver hood?

*does more research* OMG you have capercaillie in Sweden! Those are so awesome.

#611 ::: Arkady Martine ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 08:30 AM:

@609, 610: Yes! Those are them! I've never lived a place where they were before. Thanks~

#612 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 09:00 AM:

Annie @576:

I assume you've ruled out actual European House Sparrows, which are abundant in Phoenix as they are in every other urban area in the US. House finches are another good guess, but the males are distinctly reddish and I think you'd have noticed that.

I'm going to question the bushtit identification. They're considerably smaller than House Sparrows, and while they're found in flocks (a useful field mark for bushtits is "lots"; I used to joke that there's no such thing as one bushtit, and they don't really have any other distinguishing features, being a uniform greyish brown), they tend to avoid the desert floor. They'd be up in the foothills where there's some non-cactus vegetation; maybe your part of Phoenix is sufficiently irrigated to attract them but I don't think I ever saw them in my part of Tucson, which was xeriscaped. If you've got oak trees that's likely to be correct, though.

There are numerous other sparrow species you'd expect in Phoenix, too, but House Sparrows are the most likely to flock.

#613 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 10:43 AM:

Field marks for European Sparrows:
Vulgar little exhibitionists.
Always shouting.
Not afraid of anything (but not stupid, either).
Want to know if you're going to finish eating that.

#614 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 12:35 PM:

So... I hope there is still room for discussion of Hugo nominees here amidst birds and pipeweed? I'll ROT-13 any spoilers.

I've gotten through all the non-puppy graphic novel nominees except Ms. Marvel v. 1 which I'm still reading. I'll add some observations piecemeal. (If they sound familiar, it may be because I'm partly quoting things I posted elsewhere, FYI.)

Rat Queens v 1: Sass and Sorcery: I had high hopes based on the other nominees but found this a serious disappointment; to me it just seemed like pandering, in the form of, "I know, we'll create female characters with gigantic boobs and edgy characters!" Far from being 3-dimensional as some review claimed, it felt like they just glued on a few physical and personality traits: "OK, we'll make the gnome a gay raver, we'll have a black one, and they'll talk about how much they like to fuck." Yep, it's Strong Female Characters per Kate Beaton. Storyline: Uhhh, not really enough to spoiler. People don't like them because they're too rowdy, and events happen, and there's a battle. No. I'd start thinking I expect too much from comix if it weren't for the other nominees this year.

#615 ::: Kevin Callum ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 12:48 PM:

In my opinion, the Sad Puppies and their third slate would have come to nothing in the Hugo voting if the Rabid Puppies slate didn't exist. I see it this way. The Sad Puppies knew they didn't have sufficient swaying power beyond their personal subscriber base(s) and hired a mercenary. The mercenary took over the campaign and behind the Sad Puppies' backs promoted his own slate that took over the Hugo Awards. This left the Sad Puppies with nothing to take credit for since the Rabid Puppies completely stole the Sad Puppies' thunder. And yet the Sad Puppies keep blathering on.

I understand the blustering by those in the Rabid camp. They can actually claim some sort of victory. But now that the Sad Puppies have actively distanced themselves from the Rabid Puppies, what do they have left? When I see Correia or Torgerson bloviating (through File770, since I don't want to inflate their sense of importance by inflating their page counts), I picture a child stomping his foot and yelling, "My dad can beat up your dad."*

These guys keep running about as if they have something important to say, and people keep referring to the Sad Puppies campaign. To me the Sad Puppies have almost no relevance and haven't since the announcement of the Hugo nominees. The Rabid Puppies did the actual sweeping.

The Sad Puppies really do have an apt name since at this point they can only cry about their platform getting stolen out from under them.

So when I see articles from institutions like the Wall Street Journal, I think great—the wider the coverage the better. But I keep thinking they have misrepresented the facts by giving so much credit to the Sad Puppies.

*Or, since they seem to think that the SJWs are mostly women, "My dad can beat up your mom."

#616 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 01:09 PM:

lorax @ 612

Well - not really. They can be sparrows. No, nothing reddish... It's North Phoenix/North Scottsdale so it is a mix between xeriscaping and well irrigated areas. Mostly desert around me though. I would not be surprised at all if it turns out that we have both kinds of birds (and then some) just to confuse people .:)

Sarah @ 613
That made me laugh :) Sounds about right for sparrows. But at least unlike pigeons (back in Europe anyway), they do not try to convince you that you are not finishing that by trying to pull it out of your hands. :)

#617 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 01:13 PM:

616
There are other kinds of sparrows (mostly in the winter); wrens are also a possibility. (LBJs. All of them.)

#618 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 01:29 PM:

We just pulled down the Hugo nominees from the netherwebs. We dropped 'rm into a folder on my PC laptop, unzipped 'em, and put the extracted files into a DropBox account, as She Who Must Be Obeyed is using an IPad these days. This way she can just look at 'em that way, rather than having to do some complicated sideload stupf.

I did notice that one of the Short Story submissions was only available in .epub & .mobi formats. The admins couldn't create a .PDF? Or was it up the author/publisher to create the files?

#619 ::: Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 01:30 PM:

@608 You could try putting up photographs at www.ispotnature.org

The active communities on that site are Great Britain and Ireland, and South Africa. British birders should be able to handle most Swedish birds; the question would be whether they would see your photographs. If it doesn't work there are other similar sites with different geographical biases.

#620 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 02:28 PM:

Having just returned from picking up mail, I can say with confidence that there is one few pigeon in the local flock's gene pool. (We have Cooper's hawks living in the area. They like pigeons.)

#621 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 02:38 PM:

Clifton @ 614

I never understood what people saw in Rat Queens either. It is popcorn quality - readable but nothing that I would really remember in a few months.

Kevin Callum @ 615

Actually at the start the Sad Puppies leadership decided that the Rabid Puppies are not so bad. It was the backlash that sent them back teetering and deciding that they need to distance themselves (not entirely though...) - a bit too late. At this point they are unwilling to admit that they were used - so they keep up the agenda. The fact that it does not match what happens does not matter.

#622 ::: Robert Z ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 02:53 PM:

Kevin Callum @615 and Annie Y @621:

TNH @15, Thunder/Ozone: When you invite thugs into your argument, you're not using them as shock troops; they're using you as cover. And you're pretty much guaranteeing that at some point in the future, you'll wind up feebly protesting that you had no idea they'd do that. And maybe you didn't; but you did know they were thugs.

#623 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 03:17 PM:

Re: small gray birds in Phoenix
I hadn't quite taken up active birding when I was there (though I was well on my way) but there's certainly a very good chance they're the European house sparrows, those being dirt common.

The birds I saw most commonly in the city were those, house finches, Inca doves (which are adorable!) grackles and pyrrhuloxia. Bushtits I don't think I ever saw in the city proper (although they're all over Tucson.)

One of the best birding spots in the city, as far as I was able to find, is the capybara enclosure at the Phoenix zoo. Open water, good cover, and spilled animal feed. I got more birds there...

#624 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 03:44 PM:

@623 Do volunteer birds at a zoo count for one's life list? I've been counting them for mine, but also worrying about it.

And I want to see a pyrrhuloxia so bad. I have a picture of one here on my desk. That, and a phainopepla... I must get back to the southwest. Yes.

OH AND ALSO I finally saw a pair of Mississippi kites! They're supposed to live near here, and people kept telling me about them, but I was never sure that I'd seen any until I spotted a pair the other day! *happy bird dance*

@ 614 and 621 That's pretty much my feeling about Rat Queens, too. I read the first volume and was left going, "This ought to be my thing. Why isn't this my thing?" I'm glad someone put it into words.

#625 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 04:01 PM:

Craig R @618 - I noticed that; I don't know what the etiquette is in this situation! I just found myself a free MOBI reader package and downloaded it. (Frankly, if the absence of a PDF file is the most annoying thing about these entries, I will consider myself pretty bloomin' lucky.)

#626 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 04:12 PM:

CraigR @618, Steve Wright @625, there's a free program called Calibre that's useful for converting from one ebook format to another.

http://calibre-ebook.com/

I use Calibre a fair amount. I know people who use it to keep track of their ebook libraries, but I just use it for converting books, and also for renaming books.*

*I find it useful to put the series name in the book title, as per Oz 01-The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Oz 02-The Marvelous Land of Oz, etc....

#627 ::: Mercy ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 04:21 PM:

Y'all have gotten me interested in birding, now. I was looking for a new hobby.... But I don't think birding is a(n organized) thing here in Germany. At least judging from the lack of info in the German Wikipedia article on it.

So, any advice for an aspiring birder with no local Audobon Society?

#628 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 04:37 PM:

Robert Z @ 622

Ah. Yes. Exactly this. (thread is from before I showed up around here so had not seen it before - or had not paid much attention to it anyway).

UrsulaV @ 623

You know - it will be downright hilarious if I had been calling them sparrows just because I really have no idea what they are and they end up being sparrows :)

#629 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 04:50 PM:

Mercy @627:

First, get a field guide. There are probably a number of choices; I'm not familiar with the European options. Make sure that the one you get has good range maps - lots of beginning birders are led astray by something that isn't found within hundreds of miles of their location. (Birds do wander, of course, but that's not the way to bet, and "should this be here" is an important part of identification.) It's up to you whether you want something that focuses on more common birds in your area or that's more inclusive; with a "common birds of X area" guide there will be birds you can't ID, but you'll also have fewer options to wade through when IDing most of what you see. More complete guides have a standardized order; guides aimed at beginners may be arranged differently (I've seen them arranged by habitat and by color.)

Second, get some binoculars. You don't need to spend a lot of money, but trying to bird without any binos is enormously frustrating.

Finally, figure out where to go near you - start out with any natural area or even city parks, and then wherever googling for "birding (area)" suggests.

Have fun!

#630 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 04:57 PM:

Keith Callum, #615: "The Sad Puppies knew they didn't have sufficient swaying power beyond their personal subscriber base(s) and hired a mercenary. The mercenary took over the campaign and behind the Sad Puppies' backs promoted his own slate that took over the Hugo Awards. This left the Sad Puppies with nothing to take credit for since the Rabid Puppies completely stole the Sad Puppies' thunder. And yet the Sad Puppies keep blathering on."

I agree with that assessment -- but my take on it is that it makes the Sad Puppies equally culpable with the Rabid Puppies. Oh, you got caught by The Law of Unintended Consequences? That's too bad. You should have thought of that before you made your choices. Don't expect me to pretend that the SP entries are any more valid than the RP entries. They're all getting left off my ballot after I use "No Award".

#631 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 05:05 PM:

I thought Rat Queens was pretty weak, as well. Story-wise, it’s a basic roguish adventurers hack-n-slash, with the novelty value that these are women. The cleric who’s an atheist (but whose spells still work) is a bit interesting, but it remains to be seen whether Wiebe’s going to spin that out into anything really clever.

Art-wise, wow, what a bunch of disasters. I’m glad to hear that Roc Upchurch was removed from the book (thought I’m not glad for the reason), because he can’t a swords-and-sorcery comic needs an artist that can draw swords, and I don’t think I saw a really convincing one in the whole five issues I read. He also fakes his perspective, and not well— there’s a truly embarrassing botch on page 7 of issue #1 that could have been fixed with a five-minute Photoshop touch-up if anyone had noticed or given a damn.

#632 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 05:13 PM:

Mercy #627 - further to Lorax's suggestion, a bird guide is a good idea.
I'm certainly not an expert. But one suggested to me years ago by someone who spent a fair bit of time watching birds was:
"Birds of Europe" by Lars Jonsson.

It has lots and lots of drawings and distribution maps so you know if the strange bird you have seen is local or a bit lost.
The front cover also has a blurb, "If you get no other guide, buy this one" attributed to Birdwatch, and it won in every category of British Birds survey of field guides.

Mines a 1996 paperback edition of hte 1992 English translation. I suspect there might be a newer one around, and wonder if climate change has affected the birdpopulation distributions.

#633 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 05:18 PM:

626
I have calibre, and it's great for reading. (You can also, with a little work, do editing - I changed a font in one ebook: they'd used Bookman.)

#634 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 05:34 PM:

Guthrie, #632: Climate change has definitely affected bird ranges in the US, and gardening ranges as well. I have friends elseNet who talk about routinely seeing birds now that never got as far north as their area 15 years ago. And if you can find old agricultural hardiness-zone maps from even the 1980s and compare them with similar current maps, the northward "zone creep" is very noticeable indeed.

#635 ::: Andy Brazil ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 05:37 PM:

Mercy @ 627 Perhaps this page may help?
Fatbirder.com/germany

#636 ::: kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 05:39 PM:

I have calibre also, and I recommend it. Bear in mind that the user interface is really quite clear, but is also ugly as sin. Not the sort of polished shiny thing that I've become accustomed to. I don't regard this as a problem, but it's a surprise the first time you open it.
"this is the thing everyone says is so useful"
(time passes)
"oh, that's really useful!"

#637 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 05:59 PM:

kimiko @636

The beauty of an interface is usually inversely proportional to the usefulness of the same. :)

#638 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 06:03 PM:

David Harmon @607: But of course, the Hugos are about things we care about and want to share with each other.

Of course! And I didn't mean to imply otherwise. The issues about the Hugos this year, on the other hand, are about people doing unpleasant things to what we care about, so I am generally pleased that we can talk about that and still wander into other less fraught topics, rather than being stuck in "other people are being terrible" once we've gotten there.

Clifton @614: One of the things I love about Rat Queens is that it's bouncy and fun and goofy, in that over-the-top way I associate with college D&D games, while also having female protagonists. And not just white ones! And not just straight ones! I am, at times, frustrated with the feeling that fun, humorous stuff is reserved for the straight white dude characters, and that if it's about anyone else, it has to be serious and deep.

So seeing these ridiculous characters ricochet through a ridiculous world, while also being something other than straight-white-dudes (maybe with Token Female) is a lot of the fun for me. (Doesn't hurt that I love the art, and a lot of modern "serious" comics have art I don't like.) It's the series that convinced me to start looking into comics again, and maybe even try buying some.

But, no, it's not deep at all. "Popcorn quality", as Annie Y puts it, is a pretty accurate summation. I would totally rate it high up for being an unusual type of popcorn that I'm excited to see and enjoy, but that doesn't make it to everyone's taste.

#639 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 06:35 PM:

Cassy B @626 - thanks! That looks considerably more useful than the basic reader I downloaded before.

#640 ::: Mercy ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 07:17 PM:

Thanks for the suggestions. The need for a field guide and binoculars I knew or guessed but the recommendations about what guide to get are really helpful. Any tips on using binoculars as a person with glasses? I seem to remember this being an issue when I was growing up.

@635 that site is interesting, thanks! I went right to the Bavaria page (I live in Munich), which has some suggestions I didn't know about --although the site hits a personal pet peeve of mine, ignoring everything but the southern third of the state.

Any pointers on where to go to learn how to start/keep a life list? I mean, that's really the part of birding qua birding that's really new to me, coming from a large family of "oh, look at that {insert bird here}" and "let's go spend the day looking at the birds at Montezuma" (along with a mother who's all about identifying all kinds of wildlife, animal and vegetable), so I know my way around field guides. But the idea of keeping track, that's new to me.

Birds I see all the time, apart from pigeons and sparrows: various titmice (Meise in German), crows/ravens, blackbirds, magpies, a couple of different finches, starlings, a nuthatch of some kind, and different kinds of birds of prey that my husband and father-in-law know way more about than I do --but in German! (That's ok, though, because my husband had never seen a bald eagle in the wild before I took him to my parents' cabin in Pennsylvania. Or a hummingbird.) And ducks, geese, swans, and coots, of course. (I miss loons, too!) And there's woodpeckers of some kind, too, up at my in-laws' place. My father-in-law feeds all kinds of birds in the winter.

Really, the more I think about it, I don't know why I didn't become a birder decades ago. My grandmother birdwatched and fed the birds, my parents, my in-laws.... But none of them kept track or keep track, as far as I know.

#641 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 09:32 PM:

Mercy @640: There are two ways of using binoculars if you normally wear glasses: you can fold down the eye cups, and hold the binoculars up to your glasses, in which case you use roughly the same focus settings as a non-glasses-wearer would use; or you can take off your glasses, and focus the binoculars to account for your eyes' idiosyncratic optics. The former approach is probably best if you have strong astigmatism, since there's no astigmatism adjustment on binoculars. Some older binoculars don't have the soft rubber foldable eye cups, and some foldable eye cups refuse to stay folded, which can make the first approach difficult. I've seen some older binoculars with screw-in eye cups, which worked better.

The drawbacks to the second approach are that you'll be taking your glasses off and putting them back on every time you use the binoculars, which can get annoying, and interferes with your ability to spot a bird through your glasses, and keep your eyes on the bird as you bring up the binoculars. Also, you may have to focus the two eyepieces differently if your eyes require different strength lenses; most binoculars have a central knob that focuses both eyepieces together, and then one eyepiece can be adjusted relative to the other. Older or more expensive binoculars sometimes have separate focus rings for each eyepiece, with the assumption that you'll focus them once for the range at which usually use them, and leave them that way. Either of these can make it annoying to share the binocular with someone whose eyes are better matched.

#642 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 09:56 PM:

641
You can find an fairly inexpensive pair of sport binoculars. They're lighter weight (which matters a lot!) and if they focus reasonably well (this has to be checked in the store; it's not always obvious, either) you don't have to worry so much about losing them, as well as not having to share all the time.

#643 ::: Jim Henley ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 10:32 PM:

@Kevin Callum: I completely agree with you that the Rabids are the center of Puppy gravity and the Sads amount to little more than stalking...dogs. But I remain confused by

"But now that the Sad Puppies have actively distanced themselves from the Rabid Puppies"

I'm quoting this bit because it's a representative statement. I've seen it from many people in many variations. But I keep wondering, "Wait, have they really?"

I'm pretty sure that Torgersen and/or Correia at some point did say something like, "We are not Vox and don't agree with him on everything." But literally everything else I've seen has been minimizing RSHD's faults vs. the hated CLORPs or whatever. IIRC, one of them even claimed that "RSHD said one racist thing about a horrible racist person who has said many many racist things after she provoked him." Which is about as RHSD-friendly a construction as one can put on That Incident this side of saying, "Well of course black people are half savage!"

Did I miss something? Have any of the Sad honchos said, "We think RSHD should not have handled $SpecificThing this way" or "In the future we will do $NewApproach to avoid having our Sad crusade entangled with the Rabid one"? Or anything that amounts to anything? Or is everybody going by a few airy "You know, Vox Day is a completely different member of the Evil League of Evil" pronouncements?

#644 ::: Laertes ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 10:33 PM:

Do Not Miss Brian Z's beautiful riff on Casey at the Bat over on file 770.

#645 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 11:06 PM:

@ 624 Sarah - If it's not in a cage, on somebody's wrist, or specifically imported for the display (there's usually a sign for ornamental exotic ducks and whatnot) and it got there under its own power, it's fair game. Lots of birds are drawn to zoos, because you get these big habitat displays designed to make animals happy, and there's often lots of open shallow water. I always take my bins to the zoo because you can get some great birds there. (and OOOH! Mississippi Kite is a GOOD bird!)

@ 634 Lee - My gardening zone is Not What It Used To Be, I'm told. The old books said 7a, but I'm at least 8b. Part of it is the shelter of trees making a congenial microclimate, but stuff overwinters that should be laughably tender, and I'm not doing all the alchemy by which dedicated gardeners overwinter their bananas and whatnot.

#646 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 19, 2015, 11:11 PM:

@ 640 Mercy - If you do iPhone, there's an app called "Lifebirds" that's just a lifelist app. Best birding app I ever bought. Failing that, bird book and Excel spreadsheet work too.

As for starting a lifelist--start with what's in front of you, add things you absolutely remember seeing, and if you're not sure, leave it off and hope for the thrill of seeing it again? (That's how I did it, anyway!) Nobody's gonna come check your work, and it's okay to mark something tentatively, figure out later you were wrong, and correct.

#647 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 12:06 AM:

Jim Henley, #643: " 'But now that the Sad Puppies have actively distanced themselves from the Rabid Puppies'. I'm quoting this bit because it's a representative statement. I've seen it from many people in many variations. But I keep wondering, 'Wait, have they really?' "

Any dissociating statements I've seen have been, at best, tepid -- along the lines of "Well, we didn't have anything to do with their campaign, and we don't necessarily agree with them on everything, and you shouldn't hold us accountable for anything they did, because they're them, and we're us".

In other words, no one in a position of Puppy authority has ever said anything along the lines of, "OMG, we had no idea they were going to do this, and we're absolutely horrified, and we totally condemn their methods and their justifications, and we are so sorry about the clusterf#ck that's been made of the Hugo ballot this year and the part we played in that happening!"

As far as I'm concerned, there's no difference between RP and SP -- and they have certainly made no real effort to show one.

#648 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 12:24 AM:

Addendum to my post at #647:

"In other words, no one in a position of Puppy authority has ever said anything along the lines of, "OMG, we had no idea they were going to do this, and we're absolutely horrified, and we totally condemn their methods and their justifications, and we are so sorry about the clusterf#ck that's been made of the Hugo ballot this year and the part we played in that happening!"

And I'm absolutely sure no one in a position of Puppy authority will ever say anything along those lines -- because you know what would happen. VD would say, "Okay, fine", and throw the SPs under the bus with Rabid Puppies 4, which would not include any Sad Puppy works unless they were Castalia House entries or written by VD's buddies.

And at this point, if the two SP and RP slates next year are very different, we -- and the Sad Puppy leaders -- damn well know which one would end up on the ballot.

There's no way they are going to cut their own throats that way. At this point, they are well-and-truly hoist on their own petard.

#649 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 12:37 AM:

The amusing part is that Brad did call VD a sideshow earlier in the month. I almost laughed my head off - who is the side show is obvious to everyone but the side show participants I guess.

It is down to pride if nothing else - admitting that VD played them and used them and that they are just the front for him will be very hard - and none of them will do it. So they will keep blustering that they succeeded in taking the Hugos and defeating the secret cabal. Or maybe they still believe their story - in which case I am not sure what anyone can do...

#650 ::: Mercy ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 04:19 AM:

@641, 642: thank you so much for the binocular pointers! I bet astigmatism was why the binoculars didn't work growing up --I didn't even have glasses that compensated for my astigmatism until my junior year in high school. So, step one, see if we can find my husband's old pair and see what state they're in. :)

@646 Ooooh! I don't iPhone (yet --no smartphone at all yet), but I do have my iPad mini with me most of the time. Is it Lifebirds Journal you mean? I'm glad that counting birds seen before the list is started is ok.

This morning, I saw a little grey-brown bird I don't remember seeing before and couldn't identify (no field guide on hand just yet!), but I figure I'll be seeing it again, given that it was sitting on the wall between our building's courtyard and the one next door (about three feet away from me) with a beak full of nest-building materials.

#651 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 08:33 AM:

Mercy @650: It's called your "lifelist" because if you were alive, it was wild, you saw it, and you're certain of the identification, it counts. :->

#652 ::: Jim Henley ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 12:36 PM:

@JJ and @Annie Y: Thanks. That confirms my impression.

#653 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 08:13 PM:

Elliott @ 580: have you determined whether the local squirrels tolerate capsaicin? I'm not into birds enough to try it myself, but I've heard great things of spraying chili oil on birdseed (or even buying pre-treated).

#654 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 09:21 PM:

CHip: The experiment has not been tried. Possibly this summer. I do have one innately-squirrelproof feeder, but it's still challenging figuring out where to hang it so it's accessible for refilling but out of the way for bonking-heads-on-it.

My current yard is more complicated than my three-years-ago yard (which had, eventually, an EPIC feeder setup that often had 5-7 birds on it constantly with peaks of over 50 either on it or lined up waiting on nearby garage roofs, tomato cages, chain link fences ...).

#655 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2015, 09:29 PM:

Mercy - I have a copy of The Collins Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe, which is similar in style and organization to the Golden Birds of North America which is my usual bird guide. I've got Peterson guides for several subjects but their bird guide just doesn't work as well for me. As an SCA member, I wanted to know what birds I would have seen as my persona. And of course if I ever get to Europe the book goes with.

On binoculars - my good pair had an internal lens come adrift before I needed glasses full-time. Now I'm in bifocals. I recently bought a cheap pair of binoculars with foldable eyecups, but I'm fighting with one that doesn't want to stay folded.

I lived in California from when I was 9 to when I was 13. One of my regrets is that I wasn't paying much attention to birds then. The only western bird I recall seeing is a roadrunner.

#656 ::: MaxL ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 06:07 AM:

The Latin is of course atrocious. I think that's appropriate:

Grandis spiritus catulus

Ave catulus tenebrae grandis
Gloriossissime catulus
Gloria - gloria
Salve domine inferum catulus
Sanctum est nomen tuum
Gloria - gloria

Magna catulī - gloria grandis
De profundis - nostris catulī

Catulus nostrum qui es in caelis
Sanctifacatus sit nomen tuum
Victoria - victoria
Catulus grandis et liberalis
Sed libera nos a bono
Victoria - victoria

Magni catulī - gloria grandis
De profundis - nostris catulī

In nomine penebrae catulī
In domine libertatis
In nomine gloriae grandis
In nomine Beale

#657 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 07:10 AM:

MaxL - applause! (Would that be one of those Catuli Carmina I've heard so much about?)

#659 ::: Rusty ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 02:41 PM:

Kevin Callum @615: "The Sad Puppies knew they didn't have sufficient swaying power beyond their personal subscriber base(s) and hired a mercenary. The mercenary took over the campaign and behind the Sad Puppies' backs promoted his own slate that took over the Hugo Awards."

Someone suggested a while back that the Sad Puppies had not paid enough attention to those stories where someone makes a deal with the forces of darkness and ends up regretting it. Maybe they also paid too much attention to those mil-SF stories where the mercenaries are always the salt of the earth, the only honest men in a corrupt world?

#660 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 02:58 PM:

As for mercenaries in milsf, if you go back to Drake and Pournelle, Alois Hammer and John Falkenberg had agendas bigger than "earn money by being good contractors". Their objectives were not always the same as their employers, and even if they happened to be similar they would inevitably use methods that the emloyers would not countenance.

Or in other words milsf readers/writers should go take a long critical look at their own early texts.

#661 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 03:40 PM:

Neil W @ 660: Of course, the same could be said about Gordon Dickson's Dorsai, who were indeed the salt of the earth and who did indeed have a bigger agenda than their stated motives.

They always did fulfill (or try to) their employer's objectives, but managed to fulfill their own as well, with a side dish of "you should have told me what you really wanted".

In those stories, the ones who dealt most honestly with the Dorsai were the ones who came out ahead, and honi soit qui mal y pense (if you'll pardon my French).

I liked military SF a whole lot better before it became a genre.

#662 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 06:38 PM:

@658: The problem with Jeff Duntemann's rant...

I am not suggesting that either Kloos or Bellet withdrew because of social pressure. I take their explanations at face value. What I’m suggesting is that a certain nontrivial number of APs may assume it, and may further assume that social pressure is a tactic that can win, going forward.

...is that the only people I see not taking the nominees at their word are various Puppy spokespeople and supporters. They're the ones insisting, "Too bad the SJWs bullied Annie Bellet and Marko Kloos off the ballot!" and "Juliette Wade refused to be on Torgersen's slate out of FEAR!" in direct contradiction of Bellet's and Kloos's and Wade's own words.

And for all that Duntemann protests otherwise, he sure sounds like he believes the Puppy reframing of their withdrawal, and is willing to lecture the "anti-puppies" over it.

So when he says "In other words, we’re supposed to use mafia persuasion to get authors to refuse nominations that just might have been influenced by slatemakers like the Sad Puppies..." and "Is that what you want? Really?" I want to ask, "What WHO wants? Didn't you just say that you accept that no one was shamed into withdrawing? Can you site anyone 'anti-puppy' arguing in favor of shaming? Or are you just addressing the hypothetical few who *might* try such a strategy? Because you sound like you're responding to an actual argument someone has actually made out there."

It's like that REO Speedwagon song "Take It On The Run". I heard a rumor that you're cheating on me! Don't worry, I don't believe it for a second! But I'd like to take this opportunity to sing a song about what would happen if you DID cheat on me, in no uncertain terms, for a couple more verses, over the course of which it will become clear that I actually am accusing you of cheating, actually, and I'm dumping you for it.

It's very tiresome to be lectured and berated about the evils that the lecturer has, with no help from me, imagined me to maybe, just maybe, be getting up to.

#663 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 07:24 PM:

Not to mention that Duntemann's rant takes as a "given" that there is actually an Alpha Insider clique which has been rigging the Hugos. When you base your entire argument on a false premise, your entire argument, not surpringly, ends up being false.

He says, "I’m already hearing that the 2015 Hugos need to be “asterisked;” that is, marked as disreputable, dishonest, and something that no upright fan or author will have anything to do with."

He's too clueless to understand that this "marking" has already been done; it was done by the Puppies, and nothing will ever change that now.

In a Comment, he makes a hilarious reference to "cheating authors out of recognition they might well have earned", while apparently being completely oblivious to the extreme irony of that reference.

#664 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 07:28 PM:

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little @662 Duntemann's mask of disinterested neutrality completely slips off, falls on the floor and breaks into pieces when he says:

[The puppies] "... made fandom’s Insider Alpha clique lose face in a very big way".

The people the puppies attacked aren't "fandom's Insider Alpha clique" (unless that's contrarian code for "Worldcon members"). And they didn't "lose face", they got hacked. Getting hacked can (and does) happen to the best of us.

But then, I've become rather skeptical over the last decade or so of people who proclaim themselves "contrarians".

#665 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 10:21 PM:

Steve Wright & Cassie B. -
I used to love the MobiPocket reader. I had it for the PC, Blackberry and PALM platforms.

'Till Amazon bought them (to get access to the .MOBI book format)and stopped development on the BlackBerry client, and then just removed the download of the reader software entirely from that website.

And I have a boatload of stuff in the .MOBI format. Not a way to really Make Friends and Influence People. And, yes, I do know that they are not the first vendor to try to enforce/build a monopoly, and they will not be the last.

From this person's perspective it just seems stupid, arrogant and petty.

But, yeah, I have to find a reader for the Win 8.1 box. I'll just have to trial drive some and find the one that annoys least.

#666 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 10:53 PM:

Bill Higgins # 658
from the linked article:

" A group who broke no rules made fandom’s Insider Alpha clique lose face in a very big way."

He doesn't get it.

Most fen wouldn't care at *all* if any "insider alpha clique" lost face, even if there *WAS* an "insider alpha clique."

What the fannish community is pissed about is that these guys got their feelings hurt 'cause the majority of people who actually *buy memberships* to the WorldCon have different tastes in what they consider superior writing than the SP crew.

And the bulk of fans who gave a rip depended on those same members of the WorldCon to actually nominate and vote based on the quality.

And, a lot of times what the quality seen in the Hugo nominations and awards wasn't always what sold best. To use an awful analogy, you can have a truly magnificently prepared meal from a talented chef. And that chef's working is worthy of accolades. But when we go to the theater to watch the next Avengers' flick we still buy a big ol' tub of popcorn.

We're pissed off because the SP movement is trying to pass the popcorn off as haute cuisine and didn't even take it out of the paper tub.

And TB/VD/RP is just pissing in the tub, right in front of everyone, and saying "it wasn't me - it was that guy who looks just like me and has the same name" All the while still pissing in the tub.

#667 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 11:05 PM:

Craig R: "But, yeah, I have to find a reader for the Win 8.1 box."

Both Calibre and Kindle for PC will work as .mobi readers on your desktop.

#668 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 11:07 PM:

I am not at all a birder, but when Clif mentioned the Rifle River Recreation Area, I opened up Google Earth to see if it is anywhere near places that I have camped. It's not, but even I can tell that it's a good birding area—there are bodies of water named Grebe Lake, Mallard Pond, Grousehaven Lake, and Pintail Pond. And Scaup Lake is named after some kind of bird too I think.

#669 ::: J Homes ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 12:04 AM:

Allan Beatty @668.

Yes. Scaup are diving ducks. We see the NZ species on the lakes in the wildlife sanctuary. Then we don't see them. Then we see them again. They look like bathtub rubber duckies, except black.

J Homes.

#670 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 01:41 AM:

I liked military SF a whole lot better before it became a genre.

This.

John, you win the Internet today!

#671 ::: David Langford ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 04:48 AM:

A voice from the past. While tidying up the look of the TransAtlantic Fan Fund site (now with free ebooks!), I noticed the following prophetic remark in one of Patrick's and Teresa's newsletters, TAFFluvia 2 dated August 1985:

What we meant was that TAFF is an institution created for a specific purpose, with its own agenda -- promoting greater transatlantic amity between fans -- and should not be used as a mechanism for pursuing unrelated issues; no more than, say, the Hugos should be used as an exercise in block-voting by a group with an ideological axe to grind, rather than in recognition of the single outstanding work nominated.


#672 ::: Greg M. ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 04:12 PM:

All right, my title pitch was selected as alternate title for the daily puppy round-up at file770. I can die happy now.

http://file770.com/?p=22685

Or at least, get back to work on my goddamn pilot that won't write itself no matter how much I want it to. :-/

#673 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 07:25 PM:

and in the avian department: I went to my sister's place (her computer is not working, so I was incommunicado). On the northbound trip:
red-winged blackbird at the Lebec rest area
Bullock's oriole at the Warne rest area (just south of the Fresno-Tulare county line)
magpie at the Christofferson rest area, south of Turlock (and, as it's the Central Valley, it's a yellow-billed magpie)

Plus lots of crows, hawks, Brewer's blackbirds (which are grackles), and turkey vultures.

#674 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 12:10 AM:

Hey, CHip: A favor? If you are able to quote in a few relevant words in the source comment to which you are responding, that would save a lot of scrolling-back for those of us with less than eidetic memories. Doesn't have to be much, just enough to set the context.

#675 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 12:27 AM:

P J Evans @673, not quite the same avian odyssey that you had, but I was at a friend's house this evening and we suddenly all heard this loud and near-continuous noise. It almost sounded like a duck. At VERY high volume, on instant repeat. With high-pitched peeping interspersed randomly. We looked out the window, and, indeed, there was a momma-duck (probably a mallard, but I'm not a birder) screaming her head off. Her ducklings had gotten themselves into a tight little area between a fence and a retaining wall, and she couldn't get to them. (That was the source of the peeping.)

After some scrambling and a few false starts, we managed to reunite Momma Duck with Duckling #1 and Duckling #2, and, last seen, they were hurrying off down the suburban sidewalk to god-knows-where. But Momma seemed to have a destination in mind, and she looked happy (no longer screaming for her babies, who were tucked up close behind her) so we're pretty sure we found all the ducklings. Also, no more peeping from random spots in the back yard.

I love a happy ending....

#676 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 12:39 AM:

Kevin Standlee @277: DC and the other for-profit gate shows are a kind of Cargo Cult fandom: they copied the forms without understanding why

One of the strangest instances of this I encountered was Big Bang Con in Chicago in '95, a week before that year's Chicago Comic Con. A bunch of us went because most of the GoHs were B5 actors. (Also Mark Hamill, David Prowse, John De Lancie, and maybe some others I forget.)

It seemed that the organizer had this idea that he was going to make $BIGBUX$ off this little enterprise, and was rudely surprised to discover that fandom (at least, the variant that was his target) didn't work the way he thought it did. There were two tiers of membership, Regular, and extra-special Expensive, the latter of which got you onto the river boat ride With The Stars the first day of the convention. It was a casino boat, and I think he had this idea that we would all spend all of our spare cash at the slots and the gaming tables.

Well, what actually happened was that we did what fans do: we got our drinks and then sat down and had wonderful conversations. My particular crowd, though, was the worst: we started a hakosot* game, and wound up sucking up nearly all of the con members present, either directly into the game or watching from the sides.

I think it was when that boat docked with no discernable profit from the gambling that the organizer began to clue in to how badly he'd misjudged his audience. The convention proceeded as planned, and I, for one, had a marvelous time.

But nearly as we can tell, the organizer just blew town that night without looking back. Nobody got paid (J. Michael Straczynski wound up auctioning off a B5 supporting character name for one episode in order to supplement his contribution so that Michael O'Hare, at least, got paid.)

John De Lancie arrived sometime Friday evening, and I remember seeing him, sitting in the bleachers (the thing was held in some sort of sports-arena type space) surrounded by a slowly-growing group of fans, with an increasingly worried look on his face. I wonder if he ever did get taken to the hotel and checked in.

It was, all in all, a very weird experience.

* Sorry, I don't have a good reference. Somebody really needs to do a proper video.

#677 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 12:48 AM:

me @674: Sorry, I shouldn't be calling out CHip specifically, as I see a lot of people are doing direct references without quotes.

Just a mild note, then: if your comment refers to one more than ten comments ago, it's a kindness to include some sort of memory tag, for the benefit of those of us bears of very little brain.

#678 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 01:27 AM:

abi @288: ...slightly different approaches... Possible outcomes:
* I am persuaded by the subsequent discussion to change my mind
* you are persuaded to change your mind
* neither one of us is persuaded and we end up with differing views

* the discussion inspires additional, new approaches, which everyone gets to ponder and respond to.

#679 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 05:54 AM:

Jacque #676: Depending who was running his gambling boat (from Chicago?), the organizer might have needed to leave town in a hurry.

At that, he was brighter than the guy who tried to clone Minecon (down in Florida, I think it was) -- without actually supplying entertainments, refreshments, finished party space, or even most of the prizes they'd offered for various things.

That guy tried to stick it out for the whole con, at one point handing out boxes of pens for "prizes". ("As in, "quick what do we have in the storeroom?") I'm not sure what happened to them in the end, but I doubt they "got away with it" -- they had an international scandal with a helluva lot of disappointed kids and ticked-off parents (not to mention a rather wealthy game company) after their hide.

#680 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 09:38 AM:

I got caught by the filking and pastiches at File770. I'm only a little sorry.

Something there is that doesn’t love cabals,
That sends the fannish ground-swell under them,
And tweets their secret plans for all to see;
And makes gaffes even filk can barely cover.
The work of ELOEs is another thing:
I read up on them and find the quotes
Where they have said not one untwisted thing,
But they would have the story as they wanted
To please the yelping pups. The gaffes, I mean,
No one intends to make them, or fails to think
But at link round-up time we find them there.
I let my members know with front-page posts
And on the threads we come to talk and link
And set the truth out clearly once again.
We keep the conversation civil as we go.
To each the lies that hurt what's dear to each.
And some are fools, and some so clearly trolls
We have to use clichés to make them mind:
'Citation needed! That's just not what he said!'
We wear our keyboards out with modding them.
Oh, just another kind of writing game,
With odder prompts. It comes to little more:
The things we write don't change the world at all:
The pups have books, and I do too.
My favorite books will not unpublish theirs
Nor Making Light crush Baen's Bar, I tell them.
They only say, 'It's about ethics in Hugo voting.'
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in their heads:
'Why is it about the Hugos? Surely it's
About the readers? But there are plenty of readers.
Before I start a movement I'd ask to know
Where I was moving toward and moving from,
And whom I was like to trample down.
Something there is that doesn't love cabals.
That wants them open.' I could say 'fandom' to them,
But it's not fandom exactly, and I'd rather
They said it for themselves. I read their blogs
Obsessed with winning, full of easy slurs
Sneering, like a grade-school playground bully.
They write from hunger as it seems to me,
Not for rockets only and the praise of fans.
They will not go beyond their facile memes,
And like having thought of them so well
They say again, 'It's about ethics in Hugo voting.'

#681 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 10:21 AM:

Bravissima!

#682 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 10:21 AM:

I can't seem to find a contact link on File 770. Someone needs to notify Mr. Glyer about abi's latest.

#683 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 10:24 AM:

It's in his threads too. He'll see it.

#684 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 11:34 AM:

Abi, I love that.

#685 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 11:41 AM:

Abi @680: That was brilliant. I could hear the echoes of Frost's poem, too.

#686 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 11:41 AM:

Abi @680: That was brilliant. I could hear the echoes of Frost's poem, too.

#687 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 12:51 PM:

So brilliant I had to post it twice. Sorry, Kindle browser hiccupped.

#688 ::: snowcrash ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 09:27 AM:

@658, 662-664

Jeff Duntemann presents his follow up, which is an amazing example of one-sided writing, and completly burying any context that may cast doubt on his chosen narrative.

#689 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 02:10 PM:

Sarah 343: And then there's that one person who insists that eating beans is murder and we're all horrible people for putting bean products in our food.

Is this metaphorical? I'm going to be so disappointed if it's metaphorical.

And your friend with soy? That's me with flax seed. Which is not, so far as I know, a common alergen.

#690 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 05:32 PM:

David H., #679: At ComicPalooza someone was going around warning the vendors about a person who had been selling booth space and memberships for a start-up steampunk convention for which she had not booked the announced facility, and then apparently skedaddled with the money. It's going to become an ongoing problem as fandom becomes more and more mainstream.

abi, #680: Well done!

#691 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 06:10 PM:

Ginger @407: most versions of the story seem to be Stone Soup

"Soup on a nail" in my family of origin.... Transient carries this "magic nail" in his pocket....

#692 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 11:47 AM:

Xopher Halftongue @422: RW's death scared the SHIT out of me. We have, I think, similar psychological profiles

If it helps any, ISTR hearing after he passed that he had been been diagnosed with some nasty untreatable neurodegenerative disorder (think Alzheimers plus Parkinsons), and that was more the proximate cause of his suicide than simple end-stage depression. (Sorry, no cites.) If true, I can certainly sypmathize with his decision.

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

I expect that this year's Hugo results won't do much damage to the award-- most people seem use the Hugos as a casual guide to good sf and I'm betting that only a small proportion will know that something weird happened this year.

Several years in a row of mediocre work getting Hugos would affect the award's reputation.

Weirdly enough, John C. Wright getting five nominations is a relatively good thing. It means that only one writer who isn't very good gets to say Hugo nominee/Hugo winner rather than five.

#694 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 02:47 PM:

Jacque, re Robin Williams--

Something passed me by on Twitter a few days ago, taking it as given that RW had been diagnosed with Lewy body dementia. Like you, I can see that as being a too-heavy burden for someone who was already living with chronic depression.

I have no cite either, but it might be a useful search term if someone wants to try tracking this down.

#695 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 04:58 PM:

Mary Frances @516: as well as the usual ospreys

Osprey cam

#696 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 06:01 PM:

I have finally begun reading The Goblin Emperor.

Forewarned by comments and reviews lamenting about the onslaught of unfamiliar names, I paid careful attention and then, four chapters in, reread those four chapters. I figured I'd move slowly through the book that way, rereading every handful of chapters so I could reencounter the names and places with a little bit more context.

Then I got to about chapter 6 and lost all discipline for going back and rereading. I had to find out what happens next, darn it!

Am on page labeled 210 of the Hugo Packet epub and must stop only because I have stuff to do today. ARGH WHAT WILL HAPPEN AT DINNER?!

I see some people have found it to be, disappointingly, a book that happens entirely in meetings; others characterize it as, delightfully, happening entirely in characterizations interactions. (Which analysis leaves out the other two quadrants, but I suspect those other two quadrants are sparsely populated.) I seem to fall into the latter camp. I'm not especially into bureaucracy, but I love watching the different power dynamics in each conversation, and how those are either leveraged or subverted or both.

#697 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 06:21 PM:

UrsulaV @544: Birds in film are one of the enjoyable nitpicks of the hobby.

I am not a birder, but I did grow up with budgies ("parakeets," in my local lexicon). I greatly enjoyed watching through the old Murder, She Wrote episodes. But one of their foley artists was either very lazy or had a strange sense of humor. There were a couple of seasons where birds chirping in the background, no matter what time of year, no matter what location, no matter what time of day, were quite recognizably budgies. ::facepalm::

#698 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 12:40 AM:

Jacque @ 697 - Then there's the thing of dubbing in a red tailed hawk's scream for every bird of prey on the planet. Granted, it's an impressive scream, has lifted the hair on the back of my neck on quite a few times out in the woods, but they don't all sound like red tails.

#699 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 07:44 AM:

Also, pacific treefrogs are audible in many night scenes throughout the world where they do not naturally occur, and howler monkey noises (South American species) are played in African jungle scenes.

#700 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 10:40 AM:

Tom Whitmore @569: Oh, a pterodactyl. You don't see many of those these days.

I Am Too a Pterodactyl! Stop Laughing!

#701 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 01:04 PM:

Jacque @ 676 (discussion of Big Bang Con) ISTM that an ignorance of history may be one of the requirements for the Operator class (as opposed to the Entrepreneur, who sometimes has to show knowledge). Your description reminded me instantly of SFExpo, which was supposed to attract 100,000 (yes, 10e5) attendees right off the bat, back in the 70's when there weren't nearly so many media stars to sell a con with. It ended up moving from Manhattan to NJ, and somehow getting over a thousand attendees, but it was a spectacular failure even from the outside. There have been many such since -- just none that I could call "sphex-po" (50's SF reference).

abi @ 780: <jaw-drop>. And I was thinking Frost was too folksy to be filkable....

Jacque @ 700 <snortle>

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