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May 20, 2015

Reading for Rockets
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 03:18 PM * 682 comments

Sasquan tells me that the Hugo packet can be downloaded (pin lookup here.) So if you haven’t gone looking for it before, here’s what you need to make your judgments.

A couple of useful links:

Unsurprisingly, my own personal view is that everyone should vote according to their own personal views rather than, say, mine. I’m sure we all know not to take anyone’s views in this discussion as any kind of marching orders, but I thought I’d say it for the charity- or clarity-impaired.

Note that this thread will probably abound with spoilers. I’m not going to try to slice things up into different subthreads with layered spoiler policies. If you’re spoiler-averse, you might want to wait till you’ve read everything before jumping in.


* Obviously, there may be even more different approaches than Scalzi lists. Feel free to mention yours!

Comments on Reading for Rockets:
#1 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 01:19 PM:

Abi, the first two links (to the Hugo packet and PIN lookup) take me directly to an article about Labour losing the elections in Britain. Maybe it's just me?

#2 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 01:26 PM:

That's what I get for not testing my links. Fixed.

#3 ::: Q. Pheevr ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 01:59 PM:

Unsurprisingly, my own personal view is that everyone should vote according to their own personal views rather than, say, mine.

A paradox! A paradox! A most ingenious paradox!

#4 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 02:30 PM:

And, starting HERE on LiveJournal, writer Lisa Goldstein reviews the fiction nominees.

#5 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 02:58 PM:

I'm continuing to read and review on my own LJ....

If this were a normal year... well, I wouldn't have got around to registering. But if by some miracle I had, I don't think I'd be making heavy use of the "No Award" option - if I read something I didn't like very much, I'd just leave it off the ballot.

As things stand, though, I'm inclined to be punctilious about putting "No Award" above everything which I don't think deserves an award. I'm reading through the stuff, and I'm trying to be fair... but so far, it looks like I'm voting "No Award" pretty high up the ballot.

Well, never mind. Things will probably be better next year.

#6 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 02:58 PM:

I've read through all the non-slate Graphic Story nominees, and wow, it's gonna be a tough year to choose. All of them were good, and fun, and all very different. I'm really grateful to the process for bringing them to my attention.

Now just starting The Goblin Emperor...

#7 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 03:05 PM:

Apropos the state of the Hugos this year, Kevin Standlee has an excellent explanation of how "No Award" works.

#8 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 03:21 PM:

Remember that Noah Ward can't vote. He's a registered nom de plume for David Gerrold.
I wonder if Rachel Ward is available.

#9 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 03:39 PM:

Woohoo! I managed to download the packet files and transfer them to my tablet without having to consult any of the techies in my family.

Don't laugh. For me this is a big deal.

#10 ::: JDC ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 04:06 PM:

Was all set to start the packet and then my pre-order of Seveneves arrived. I may be some time. Reading some of the packet right after Stephenson will be curious.

It's mildly amusing to me that before the SP2 thingamabob I had no real interest in Worldcon qua Worldcon. I love science fiction but am not into fandom much. (Though I've been to a couple WisCons way way back and an Eastercon wedding more recently.) But this affront to the Hugos, which helps me find things I didn't know about, riled me so I bought a supporting membership. Now I'm thinking the 75th Worldcon would be a lot of fun. Especially if it's Helsinki or Shizuoka. Not DC in August though please. I'm a sweaty person.

#11 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 04:53 PM:

"Others want Hugos. I want the Hugos utterly destroyed, No Awarded in perpetuity."
-2015 Hugo Nominee Tom Kratman

Source of the quote is HERE.
I guess I'll skip reading that gent's tales.

#12 ::: Tamlyn ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 05:00 PM:

I've only read two of the short stories so far (and Totaled way back so I need to reread it). Now, I'm much more forgiving of stories than many, so I thought maybe I wouldn't hate it as much as others have. But... I still have to feel something. Indifference has been my predominate emotion.

Turncoat, I liked the idea of (logic aside) someone downloading themselves into the enemy ship. I disliked the execution. It's just flat.

I have no idea whether Parliament has a fun idea under all the talky talk because I didn't manage to figure it out on any level.

#13 ::: johnofjack ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 05:49 PM:

"The Day the World Turned Upside Down" seems to be in dialogue with Neil Gaiman, but I don't think Heuvelt can hold his end of the conversation.

#14 ::: Lyle Hopwood ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 06:08 PM:

I've been reviewing them on my blog as I came across them on the web, and I got my voter's packet and started in on that today. I haven't read any of the novels or any JC Wright yet.

So far, I'm finding the stories kind of run of the mill.

My two favorites, or my least unfavorites, are On The Spiritual Plain (the voter's packet clears up the title, so now I see it is a pun!) which I thought needed a script doctor to turn it into a story from its current form (a recitation of events) but was otherwise well-told and interesting.

The other was roundly panned on here - The Day the World Turned Upside Down. Yes, the man was an asshat, but so was, for example, Gully Foyle. And yes, the physics was...unusual, but this is a world where you meet two old ladies spinning flax and I don't know if physics applies in that world. I thought it had some remarkable word-play.

#15 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 08:37 PM:

So far, I've read the short stories. I posted my thoughts on the ones available online in an earlier thread (short version: not impressed), and just read A Single Samurai today. It's the only one I'm considering putting above No Award, though the fact that it was on the Sad slate (but not Rabid) works against it.

#16 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 08:50 PM:

For me, THE GOBLIN EMPEROR didn't work particularly well. It was a fairly standard court-intrigue novel with nothing that made it necessary for it to be fantasy. It was a good one -- I kept reading through to the end -- but it didn't hit my sense-of-wonder very much, if at all.

But then, I was not particularly impressed by A GAME OF THRONES, either. I think Martin's done a lot better in other books before that took off. So I am not a typical reader for these.

#17 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 09:17 PM:

I hated in "The Parliament of Beasts and Birds," how there's only one onscreen female -- the vain and smug Cat -- and two offscreen, the Unicorn who is so uncorrupt and pure that she never had to leave Eden, and the "Wolf Bitch."

I mean, it's worlds ahead of some Puppy stories in that it even has females, but ugh ...

#18 ::: Deirdre Saoirse Moen ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 09:52 PM:

FYI, my name is spelled as in deity, not as in diet. :)

(There are several reasons I call my blog "Sounds Like Weird.)

#19 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 09:59 PM:

In the Novella category, Big Boys Don't Cry wants to be a Bolo story set in a crapsack universe. It never reaches the heights of the stories it's imitating. The setting could use a good cleansing by either the Dinochrome Brigade or the Melconians - I don't particularly care which.

#20 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 10:24 PM:

I am just not getting past all the descriptions of "A Single Samurai" that sound hardcore like "Shadow of the Colossus" fan fic.

I mean, I haven't read it! It could be brilliant! But is it really about one guy climbing on a giant monster that doesn't really notice he's there so he can stab a sword in the one vulnerable spot?

Does his horse die, by any chance? And is his sword and/or the vulnerable spot glowy?

I may be doing it a grave injustice--I hadn't planned to bother with the Puppy slate at all, though I may have to read this one just to satisfy my own curiosity--but I played that game like three times and while SF is all tropes, some tropes are tropier than others, and all the reviews are dinging some bells pretty hard for me.

#21 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 10:43 PM:

As I am completely unfamiliar with Shadow of the Colossus, I can't say how similar they are. Yes, he's climbing a giant monster, hoping he can find a way to stop it. No, he doesn't have a horse. No and yes - the sword doesn't glow, but the spot does.

#22 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 11:20 PM:

Kratmanm's an idiot.

If Lis were going to savage a book based on politics she would state right there, in the review, what she was basing it on.

And she certainly knows about BOLOs and the Dinochrome Brigade and, IMO, was being kind to not point out this was trying to be a blatant rip off of Laumer's work.

#23 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2015, 11:38 PM:

Craig R... Yes. Lisa Goldstein has gone out of her way to be fair.

#24 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 12:06 AM:

@ 21 Chris - The spot glows. *pinches bridge of nose* Of course it does. Is it a glowing sigil? Please tell me it's not a sigil.

I firmly believe that a good author can transform source material and make the old new. I retell fairy tales constantly! It's part of the fun!

Still, I don't know I'd try it on a game that's only a decade old.

Unrelated -- I keep seeing the phrase "BOLO" and it doesn't Google well. Can anyone give me a Cliff notes?

#25 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 12:10 AM:

UrsulaV #24:

Have this here Wikipedia entry.

#26 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 12:12 AM:

UrsulaV: Here's a link to the wikipedia article--someone who followed the universe/concept after Keigh Laumer died will probably be able to tell you more: Bolo

#27 ::: 'As You Know' Bob ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 12:17 AM:

Serge Broom at #11: I guess I'll skip reading that gent's tales.

Yeah, I understand the distinction between the artist and the art - but I won't read Kratman simply because of how he behaves in public.

There are too many other/better uses for my time.

#28 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 12:38 AM:

Thank you! All I was turning up was acronyms, blood horses, knives, and for some reason, pictures of cake.

...I am a little sad it wasn't the cake.

#29 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 12:43 AM:

I now wish there were a long-running scifi series about cake. I'm not sure in what way the cake would be the center of the premise and plots, but I am for this theoretical series anyway.

#30 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 12:49 AM:

Cake could easily have played a large part in Panshin's Anthony Villiers books, and I wish it were a longer series!

#31 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 01:55 AM:

23 ::: Serge Broom ::

Serge - The "Lis" I was referring to was Lis Carey, Not Lisa Goldstein. (One writes book reviews better than I can, and the other writes books, which I don't even try to aspire to...)

#32 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 03:59 AM:

Fade @29: Well, it's pie, not cake, but--- Pushing Daisies?

Serge @11: Man, the longer these Puppies flap their mouth-parts, the more I want to hang out with them. No, wait. The other one.

#33 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 04:45 AM:

Of the graphic story nominees, only Ms. Marvel really lit my fire. But I have a higher bar for random vulgarity (and for random surrealism) than I used to. In various ways, Saga, Rat Queens, and Sex Criminals are all deliberately aiming away from me, and that's certainly their prerogative. (I'm minded here of Charlie Stross' line, "If we all had the same tastes, what a haggis shortage there would be!")

So far I've only seen Edge of Tomorrow for dramatic presentations, but I liked it way more than I expected to. Looking forward to the rest in the next few weeks.

I very much enjoyed Three-Body Problem despite its flaws, because part of me likes to see an author get in and wrestle seriously with the question, "What if we really are just no damn good as a species?" without the author having to be Lem or the Strugatskys. :) But Goblin Emperor, now, that's really lighting my various fires. What a delight.

#34 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 05:18 AM:

So far, I've only read Ms. Marvel out of the graphic story nominees (I'm rationing myself on the potentially good stuff), and I enjoyed it a lot... It's a personal thing of mine (I may have mentioned it around here before) that good people can (and maybe should) be every bit as interesting, psychologically, as the scheming villains and brooding conflicted anti-heroes. Kamala Khan is undoubtedly both good and interesting - between her and The Goblin Emperor, I think it's actually shaping up to be a good year for "good and interesting".

#35 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 05:22 AM:

Fade@29, there's always the Portal games....

#36 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 06:49 AM:

I was astounded that a person could make a samurai riding a kaiju boring! But he managed it. In a normal year, I'd have put it last; as it is, I'm ranking it below No Award. Hugos shouldn't go to boring stories.

Ditto the upside-down world one. What was the point? Nice Guys finish last, or at least after No Award.

I was very excited about Three-Body Problem and then there was the first scene. Well, OK. At least she wasn't raped, I guess. I will keep reading, but so far it's not outranking Goblin Emperor. (Ancillary Sword, while gorgeous, is too much a second-of-three to get my #1 vote.)

I bounced off the first issue of Ms. Marvel, but the first volume changed my mind. I haven't read the others yet, but if they're all that good I'm going to be stuck!

#37 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 09:42 AM:

One of the funniest bits I got from "Ms Marvel" is that, after moving their city from the Himalayas to the Moon, the Inhumans moved it back to Earth. In New Jersey.

#38 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 09:44 AM:

Craig R @ 31... I stand corrected, regarding Lis Carey. As for Lisa Goldstein, indeed. By the way, she's working on a new novel. Yay!

#39 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 09:48 AM:

Kevin Riggle @ 32... As for myself, being the proud parent of three boy dogs, I refuse to associate the word 'puppy' with those clowns. I prefer referring to them as 'Pupae'.

#40 ::: Aaron ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 10:12 AM:

If anyone is interested in the distinctions, I have a blog post where I separate out which nominees are Sad, Rabid, both, or neither.

2015 Hugo Nominees.

#41 ::: Cathy ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 10:32 AM:

Was not impressed with any of the short story nominees. And not because of the Puppies. I just really didn't like them. I've no award the category before the Puppies got involved and have no problem doing it this time. The best of the lot, imho, was "Totaled," which I liked a lot better when it was "Flowers for Algernon." It's not a bad story, just not Hugo worthy.

So far I've read Ancillary Sword and The Goblin Emperor and I'm about to start The Three Body Problem. I really enjoyed Goblin Emperor, but at some point it occurred to me that the plot, at least at the beginning, kinda, sorta resembled King Ralph, and now I can't unthink it. I also really enjoyed Ancillary Sword and thought it held up on its own better than most second-in-a-trilogy books, although obviously there were some significant plot points that were not resolved because they're going to be part of volume 3. I won't know how to rank my top 3 until I've read Three Body Problem, although it is always possible that the Butcher and the Anderson will so speak to me that they'll break into the top 3, but I doubt it, and I say that as someone who enjoys the Harry Dresden books and really likes Kevin J Anderson's zombie PI books.

#42 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 10:42 AM:

Cathy @ 41... "Totaled" felt like the second draft of a story that needed a couple more drafts.

#43 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 10:54 AM:

UrsulaV @24:

Is it a glowing sigil? Please tell me it's not a sigil.

It's not a sigil.

Incidentally, "vulnerable spot" is a very relative term when dealing with kaiju.

#44 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 10:58 AM:

Fade Manley @ 29

Well, it's a little old, and it's more a serial than a series--but a piece of cake figures prominently in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

#45 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 11:46 AM:

I'm having a certain amount of fun, now, with the sole non-Puppy Campbell Award nominee, Wesley Chu, and his "Tao" trilogy.

(I'm moved to wonder why Chu isn't a Puppy nominee, actually, given that the books are full of stuff they approve of - action, gunfire, and secret alien conspiracies behind everything, which seems to be kind of a Puppy "thing". The only answer I can come up with is that Wesley Chu's just not in their gang.)

Anyway. It's not great literature, by any manner of means, but it's lively and fast-paced, and in general it's the most fun I've had with a body-hopping alien brain parasite since Brian Stableford's "Hooded Swan" series.

One thing struck me, though - the people who get inhabited by the alien Quasing (including series hero Roen Tan, who - unlike most hosts - wasn't psychologically prepared for it in advance) are curiously not-bothered about privacy, which is something that would bother me if I had a separate personality (and one which is both vocal and judgmental) watching everything I do and every thought I have.

I'm wondering if this is an actual flaw, or just a generational thing, in that I am an old fogey who doesn't share everything on FaceTube and YouTwit and whatever else the cool kids are using. Is Roen simply not bothered about Tao watching all his private moments, because he'd be sharing them online anyway? Well, maybe.

#46 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 01:17 PM:

“I prefer the old stories, but that doesn't change the fact that the field has advanced in literary quality, technique, and everything. We chaps, most of us who started in the old days, could never make it now, with what we did then.”

Edmond Hamilton in a 1976 interview of him and his wife, Leigh Brackett. I wonder what they’d think of the current fracas. In the interview, the subject of the field's awards comes up, and their never winning and being ok with that because they knew they didn't write the stuff that gets awards.

http://www.tangentonline.com/interviews-columnsmenu-166/1270-classic-leigh-brackett-a-edmond-hamilton-interview

#47 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 01:34 PM:

Ever since Kratmann decided to promote the 'Eurabia' doctrine I've concluded that he's viewing the world through some seriously distorted lenses. I'm currently reading his nominated novella and the writing is, shall we say, less than adequately edited (a character is stated to be second in line twice in the same sentence for no reason that I can see, just to take one example). He also hammers the idea that bureaucrats, academics, and liberals are all pusillanimous idiots so far into the ground that it comes out on the other side of the universe.

#48 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 02:01 PM:

Serge Broom : # 38 -
Not a problem

When Lis told me that she was receiving some review copies of books I was:
(1) - Cool! that's neat! and Free Boofs!
(2) - Wait - Free boofs?
(3) - Unfair! She's getting free boofs and I'm not!
(4) - Wahaaaagh! ::sniffle,sniffle::
(5) - but she writes more frequent reviews.
(6) - Well, yes...
(7) - But she writes better reviews
(8) - Well, yes...
(9) - Oh, Cool! That's neat! and Free Boofs!

in re Lisa Goldstein, I had never read her work until she was at Readercon. What I have seen since I've liked.

#49 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 02:14 PM:

Cathy :: # 41

"... The best of the lot, imho, was "Totaled," which I liked a lot better when it was "Flowers for Algernon."..."

Ohhh, that's *cold.*

#50 ::: Elisa ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 02:22 PM:

I just finished Three Body Problem and have to say ARGH!!!! I had really high hopes for it (it was actually on my wish list ages ago) but the science clunkers and cardboard characters made the book a struggle for me to read.

And the ending. Are you Kidding Me! Argh farble Blargurgh!

[I visited the 3BP spoiler thread and found many of my complaints expressed quite nicely there, but no one seems to be over there anymore so I came over here to whine.]

This was supposed to be a fun change of pace before I delved back into the painful short fiction categories. Now I have to go find something fun to read before I face that.

#51 ::: Lyle Hopwood ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 02:33 PM:

@41 Cathy The best of the lot, imho, was "Totaled," which I liked a lot better when it was "Flowers for Algernon."

I liked it best when it was Anne's brain-in-a-jar losing her nines after being warmed in the oven by the bad person in "Man With Two Brains". It was a lot funnier, anyway.

#52 ::: Darth Paradox ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 03:37 PM:

Started reading The Dark Between the Stars yesterday. Put it down after three chapters of really trying hard to get into it.

I just didn't care.

And the two main female characters so far are a) an ambitious businesswoman who is also a horrible mother and appears to exist primarily to demonstrate how virtuous her husband is for leaving with his son and b) a woman repeatedly raped as part of a forced-breeding program who demonstrates her virtue by loving all her kids anyway. Just, no. I'm not going to read that.

I was going to try to judge the Puppy works on their own merits, but if this is the kind of thing they think is worthy of being named the best novel of the year, I'm not even going to bother with their short-fiction nominees. I have better things to do with my time.

#53 ::: Joe H. ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 03:44 PM:

I'm inclined to dismiss any brain-in-a-jar story that doesn't end "... the face and hands of Henry Wentworth Akeley."

#54 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 03:45 PM:

So - the graphic story category.

"Rat Queens" just left me cold. I can see why people may like it but... not my thing. And I really disliked the art.

"Sex Criminals" - not sure what people see here either. It is not unreadable but not something I would go and look for the continuation of (and I am a serial series finisher...). Am I missing something with this one?

The Zombie Nation is not available in my library (or in Amazon...) and was not included in the package so it cannot make it on my ballot in any way or form.

Which leaves me with two viable options for my ballot - Ms Marvel and Saga. Saga is an old favorite; Ms Marvel is charming in more than one way...

Next - the short fiction categories. Off to Europe in a few hours, all the nominees that were in the packet are on my kindle - let's see how that will go.

#55 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 04:25 PM:

Waving to Annie Y as she passes over my part of Europe!

SamChevre @42+2: a piece of cake figures prominently in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

That's a matter of perspective.

#56 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 05:08 PM:

I saw Elisabeth Carey's review, went to the Amazon page, watched Kratman do the "Author responding to Amazon comments" dance, and posted a brief link to Amazon's page for ordering a case of microwave popcorn. Then I read the actual novella, and posted an actual review (summary: Lame, whiny, worse writing than Torgersen, couple of specific comments), Kratman questioned my integrity because I was either lying or read it incredibly fast (It was two hours between the popcorn comment and the review, but I did have some work to do in between, and it's not like it was slow reading like a good math textbook or Wright's Parliament of Really Annoying Stereotyped Animals. I could almost have read it out loud in that time, except for the Eye of Argon problem.) And of course most of the Amazon comments are "Obviously she gave it a bad review because she's an SJW" or "This isn't Kratman's strongest, because everything else he writes is Even Betterer!"

Here's my ranking of the short stories:
1 - No Dogs Allowed, by Noah Ward
2 - Totaled - Kary English
3 - A Single Samurai - Steven Diamond
4 - Turncoat - Steve Rzasa
5 - On A Spiritual Plain - Antonelli
Missing Chair - “The Parliament of Beasts and Birds”, John C. Wright

If it weren't on the puppy slate, I'd have considered Totalled to be a reasonable Hugo nominee. A bit rough, and not likely my first choice - it's no If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love or Ponies (which I hated, but was very well written), but it was worth reading. I waffled a bit on 3 vs. 4, but there was a large gap between 4 and 5, and I only included Antonelli as a vote against Wright.

#57 ::: Will McLean ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 05:46 PM:

Annie Y:

The Zombie Nation is online here:
http://www.thezombienation.com

I don't think it will make you reconsider leaving it off the ballot.

#58 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 06:19 PM:

I read the three non-canine novels, and have a response.

I bounced off Ancillary Sword in a way that I didn't really expect. I'd liked Ancillary Justice but found the sequel really hard going and gave up about a third of the way through. I suspect this is a matter of second-novel-in-a-trilogy disease.

I found Three Body Problem intriguing in large part because of the way it approached Chinese social and political issues, but the science was bothersome and some of the characters were, well, troubling in their attitude towards their own species.

The Goblin Emperor is a fascinating fantasy story, but it left me wondering why we are stuck with the fantasy trope of aristocratic family intrigue (and why so few writers construct pseudomediæval worlds that aren't focused on aristocracies). I ended up ranking it first, but, had it not been for the hijacking of the Hugos by the canine conspirators, it would not have ranked so highly in my list, though it is a fine story.

#59 ::: Darth Paradox ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 06:58 PM:

Fragano @ 58:

I have been rolling similar questions re: fantasy aristocracies around the back of my brain for a few years now, and the best answer I have arrived at is that the complex web of familial and quasi-familial ties that an aristocracy produces results in a shorthand for loyalty and motivation that a lot of people understand, which can be a lot harder to build up in a story with a political system where bloodlines aren't as important.

Basically, "because it's easier". Which is true of most tropes, I suppose.

#60 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 08:03 PM:

Frangiano@58, Darth Paradox@59

I recall Lois McMaster Bujold once making the point that fantasies are largely novels of political agency. Which I think meant characters in fantasies often either start out or end up having a lot of political power, affecting the fates of nations and the course of history.

Aristocracy is one way to make that happen--and the easiest one I can think of off the top of my head.

There are certain other structures that could be used, I suppose. Chieftan/tanist (where there are a lot of potential successors who all strive to convince the clan that they should be appointed the next Cheiftan.) A Guild structure would certainly be possible. Novik's Temeraire books have been using a semi-military chain of command type structure.

Terry Pratchett's Lords And Ladies as I recall had quite a bit to say about our current societies attraction to the whole idea of aristocracy. Might be worth going back and reading that again but not until I finish my Hugo homework.

(more generally)
It's really not fair, you know. I'm doing about 9 hours of Dutch translation work a week in the process of learning Dutch and now the Hugo reading is a chore too. :-(

But I do have a new proto song.

Puppies All The Way Down

The packet of works for the Hugo is out
And some folks are minded to frown
Despite the occasional gem, there's no doubt
It's Puppies all the way down.

It's Puppies all the way down, my lads
It's Puppies all the way down
They're running all over, the rabids, the sads,
It's Puppies all the way down!

Proofreading, edits, they're both uphill climbs
For dogs that are Rabid or Sad
The line for John Wright has been copied three times
Oh wait--that's three entries; my bad.

Short stories held little my heart to delight
No gems like the stories of yore.
And wait--here's an entry by one John C Wright
Another? Good grief! That makes four.

Alas Best Related's no better--the fen
Complain that the logic leaves welts.
Here is that name--John C Wright--once again
Do Puppies read anyone else?

Perhaps I am biased, but everyone notes--
We all have more interest, I bet
In stories that haven't been shoved down our throats
In order to make us upset

#61 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 08:06 PM:

Darth Paradox #59: Indeed so. But most of us don't live in feudal societies, nor would we want to. They're not pleasant places for most of their denizens, and even the squirearchy that Tolkien idealises (the Shire) was actually a pretty barbaric place (read the memoirs written by household servants in late nineteenth century or early twentieth century Britain about the world that Tolkien celebrates in LotR and it turns out to be a pretty awful place for those who weren't resident in the manor). And those who were to the manor born expected levels of deference that we, today, would find astonishing.*

*Jo Walton's beloved Anthony Trollope, for example, was horrified that a black servant in Jamaica expected to be addressed politely as an equal. He would not have addressed a servant in England thus, and could not conceive of any system requiring service in which the master constantly had to treat the servant as a gentleman.

#62 ::: Will McLean ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 08:26 PM:

"The Goblin Emperor is a fascinating fantasy story, but it left me wondering why we are stuck with the fantasy trope of aristocratic family intrigue (and why so few writers construct pseudomediæval worlds that aren't focused on aristocracies). I ended up ranking it first, but, had it not been for the hijacking of the Hugos by the canine conspirators, it would not have ranked so highly in my list, though it is a fine story."

Actually, one of the things I liked about TGE is that it isn't just about aristocrats. Clerics, merchants, craftsmen, technicians, scholars and an opera singer all have important roles.

#63 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 08:33 PM:

Cathy, #41: "The best of the lot, imho, was 'Totaled', which I liked a lot better when it was 'Flowers for Algernon'. It's not a bad story, just not Hugo worthy."

Serge Broom, #42: "'Totaled' felt like the second draft of a story that needed a couple more drafts."

Yes, I think it does a decent job with an oft-used SF trope... but "decent" is not synonomous with "belongs on the Hugo ballot".


#64 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 09:11 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @61: But most of us don't live in feudal societies, nor would we want to.

I think that's part of why we keep writing about them, honestly. There are few books I enjoy reading that are placed in settings where I would actually want to live. And I say this as someone who grouches periodically about "grimdark" and avoids overly bleak settings and stories, at that! Stories are built around tension, and places that we are not intimately familiar with (and a bit bored by) and which are full of built-in fundamental problems are a great place to set stories. Not so great to live.

#65 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 09:33 PM:

Will McLean #62: True. But LotR has a gardener as a major character, and several of its viewpoint characters are gentry rather than aristocracy.

Fade Manley #64: It could well be.

#66 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 09:40 PM:

Cat #60: I dunno. It strikes me as being more about wish fulfillment than political agency, but Lois knows more about her creation than I do.

That's an excellent ballad, by the bye.

#67 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 10:34 PM:

Aristocracy to me is sort of a "local minimum"- people have been trying to get their children to inherit their jobs since forever. (One of those "Feminism has made progress" moments for me was seeing a local tradesman with "xxx And Daughters" on the side of the van. Apropos of nothing. ) If you are a person with power and you have friends with power, you can agree to lean on the local structure to get your children into power. Boom, aristocracy.

I hate to say "it's realistic" but the development of aristocracy is a common real-world occurrence. As to why you tell the stories in the aristocracy: They have weapons. They are likely to have some degree of agency and to have free time to get into trouble. They are much less likely to freeze or starve to death in the middle of an otherwise-promising story. Adventure!

#68 ::: Darth Paradox ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2015, 11:22 PM:

Fragano @ 61:

I certainly wouldn't want to live in any historical feudal society. But authors of speculative fiction (at least those varieties that aren't concerned with representing an actual historical period at all accurately) are free to make their fictional societies a lot more pleasant for the underclasses than historical feudalism has been.

Kind of like how you can write a fictional setting inspired by pretty much any historical period without having to carry over the sexism and racism inherent in that period.

You can of course choose to carry over those things, but like anything else in your setting, it's a choice - even if it's one that a lot of writers don't give much thought to. And if in writing a feudalistic fantasy, you have your supposedly noble (in both senses of the word) protagonist build his success on the broken backs of his underlings and serfs, that's on you.

#69 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 12:14 AM:

In the case of Addison, the presence of kings and courts is specifically due to some of the prior works of fantasy she's in dialogue with, and things she wanted to say that required that sort of political set-up to be said. (I remember her having an essay about farm-boys-turned-rulers once, though I cannot now find it, and therefore can't confirm it's as germane as it seems.)

Starting on the short stories.

Quite liked Totaled, actually; I saw some of the issues cited by others, but only after the fact. It would be above no award were it not a puppy-pick, and I would look at her byline in future with some hope for a good read.

A Single Samurai was at least readable, but it felt very linear. Too much so; the two apparent attempts to raise the stakes (look, the small monsters are following him again and the kaiju is getting closer to a large population centre) failed and had no payoff. It's very much a "Hiro* needs to go to Location. Hiro walks to Location. Hiro reaches Location. The End." type story. This is the one about which I say what Serge says about Totaled.

On the Spiritual Plain was meh. I like worldbuilding that thinks about souls. This was just that; the worldbuilding side, not a story proper.

Turncoat is opened but deferred until tomorrow.

I will not read Wright's works until I've read all the non-puppy entrants, so I'll probably skip past the other shorter nominees and cover the novels I haven't read next. (including Wesley Chu).

I will also say, since I've seen little discussion yet on the Professional Artist category, much as I love Julie Dillon's work,
there's at least one puppy pick I would nominate sincerely in future, which is Kirk DouPonce (even though his every visible face is a blonde female). Nick Greenwood has some nice variety in style but a few skill-level issues that slip him below professional (note that he has only one close-up face in his selections, and it's the weakest offering). Alan Pollack is strongly derivative, though technically he has the chops.


* Most versions of this would use the name Bob for the generic, overused name; Hiro is rapidly becoming the English-language equivalent for a Japanese setting, thanks to the pun.

#70 ::: Zora ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 02:26 AM:

A lot of people seem not to have liked Goblin Emperor. I loved it so much that I read it four times. One after another.

I thought it did have a lot of action ... but the action was mostly moral. Maia was figuring out how to be a good, responsible person in extremely challenging circumstances. Even more challenging because he was too embarrassed by constant attendance to meditate, and meditation is what helped him act morally and responsibly.

It is probably relevant that I am a Zen Buddhist and that I read Victorian religious novels (Christian) for both amusement and encouragment.

#71 ::: Tamlyn ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 03:05 AM:

I've read all the short stories now. I just finished A Single Samurai. I got irked a bit, mostly along the lines of 'Okay, I get the point, can we move on now?' At one point I got exasperated enough to actually talk at it (Really? A mystical samurai sense is telling you you're in danger? Not the whole riding on the back of a monster and just found a whole lot of bodies torn apart?) However, given half the other stories left me indifferent, getting annoyed is an improvement.

I liked it. It was a story, it had some moments, it had things that seemed pointless turned out to be somewhat tied to the end. I don't think I liked it enough, and it had too many flaws, for me to consider if a worthy Hugo winner though.

I'm still undecided about my final order.

#72 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 05:48 AM:

Sandy B. @67 - also, settings with an aristocracy concentrate agency; they raise the stakes. If the True King of the Land of Nyctalopia goes missing in the haunted Orthorhombic Swamps, you have to go in and get him back, whereas, if it's just the President, you can just hold a snap election or something. Similarly, if you are an oppressed Ostwelp and you rescue the True King, he can declare in gratitude that Ostwelps may no longer be oppressed throughout the land, and that's an awful lot quicker and easier than getting the Ostwelp (De-Oppression of) Bill through both houses of Parliament.

(It's the same argument we used to see over episodes of Star Trek - "Picard negotiates with the ruler of a planet over its entry into the Federation" is easier to wrap up in forty-five minutes than "Picard waits six months for a meeting with the Assistant to the Under-Secretary of State for Exoplanetary Affairs".)

#73 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 06:57 AM:

Fragano @61, Fade @64, Sandy B @67, Steve Wright @72:

One of the things I like about Mieville's early novels is the way that he shows that fantasy doesn't *have* to be like that. (If the Hugos really were dominated by SJW approved fiction, there'd be more examples of stories trying to work out the implications of that kind of idea.)

(This OT comment brought to you by someone still impatiently awaiting their copy of TGE.)

#74 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 07:36 AM:

praisegod barebones, #73: "This OT comment brought to you by someone still impatiently awaiting their copy of TGE."

You don't have your Hugo PIN yet? Or no ability to download?

#75 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 07:46 AM:

It does occur to me that if you have a fantasy that centers around serfs, then you have a whole new set of challenges to throw at the characters. Will they harvest enough to feed them through the winter? Can they fight the dragon when any weapons more weapon-y than a scythe have to be carefully hidden and they can't be seen practicing? That kind of thing.

But. If you wind up with people who have the ability to handle some really dangerous thing, are they going to *stay* oppressed serfs at the end of the book?

So there's that.

Fragano Legister @66

Thanks :-) I'm glad you like it.

#76 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 08:44 AM:

Zora @70

I adore Goblin Emperor for exactly those reasons. (Even though these days I mostly don't bother reading books where the setting has to do with monarchy.) I also like the rumblings of societal change in the background.

#77 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 09:43 AM:

OK, like many others I've been following the goings-on at File770.

One of the things that is continually forcing itself to my attention is the public face the "professional" authors in the SP camp are presenting.

Coming into this from a (hopefully) objective view, these authors seem whiny, self-centered, thin-skinned, bigoted and with a vastly inflated sense of self-importance.

From a purely business standpoint, just *why* would a publisher, or an acquisitions or copy editor want to even consider dealing with these people?

I could see overlooking the very public displays of childish venom if the writers had the talent and draw of a Stephen King or Harlan Ellison (to choose authors who show very different faces to the world from each other), but these ones don't have the writing chops.

Admittedly, I haven't had a lot of experience in professionally dealing with that type of "creative person." As cantankerous as some software developers can be (I once dealt with one who, all who had contact with him, team, corporate and legal, asked him to work from home. he was just on the edge of "indispensable" balanced against "major ass and distraction."), most are not publicly having disputes *with the paying public*

Are the general run of non-beginning, limited niche, authors this off-putting? These people sound like they would be pure hell to work with, as well as being utter embarrassments and damaging to the brand of any publisher who dealt with them.

Why would a publisher (exempting TB/VD) think they had to deal with these people? Is the pool of publishable "talent" that thin that they don't have a choice?

Is the profit from the niche that great?

#78 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 10:33 AM:

I suspect the Puppy writers are a lot more combative on File 770 than they are in everyday life. They are, after all, venturing into enemy territory, held by the leftist elite of the SJWs who want to annihilate all that good SF stands for. (Or, alternatively, they are poking their heads out of a supportive social bubble consisting of themselves and their faithful fans, and are outraged and appalled at discovering a world which does not revolve around the Very Great Wonderfulness Of Them. Take your pick.)

Whichever one it is, it seems to make them go all defensive, and they mostly seem to be believers in the doctrine that the best defence is a powerful offence.

#79 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 11:05 AM:

Cat @75, not QUITE what you're talking about, but Moon's Legacy of Gird is a fantasy novel about peasants taking on the Evil Wizards (who also happen to be the aristocracy, because, hey, Evil Wizards.) She does a pretty good job of showing how difficult this would be, while also showing that it's possible. (Ok, with overwhelming numerical advantages, really good military advice and maybe some help from the gods.)

#80 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 11:12 AM:

@ 77 Craig R - I don't know if I count, but I hope to god someone will tell me if I'm being an ass in public!

Re: aristocracy - Somebody asked me the other day why I don't write urban fantasy, and I said (in one of off-the-cuff honesty moments) "I don't want to deal with people having jobs."

Workplace drama is grim death as far as I'm concerned, and the longer I'm out of it, the harder it gets. I can't imagine a situation where I would go save the world from rampaging were-skunks and then have to work at the deli. (I worked the late shift at the deli and saw some stuff that probably qualifies as urban fantasy, but that's another matter.)

And worrying about money is what I'm trying to ESCAPE. It isn't fun. It just sucks.

So then you give your character a job that allows plentiful money and flexible time off and no prying coworkers and Lo! You are writing your books about a writer in Maine and people are going "Self-insert much?" and you are left feebly trying to explain that no, you just wanted a job that you didn't have to write about in the story and we end up with writers as the modern functional equivalent of minor nobles despite the stunning unreality of that idea.

#81 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 11:19 AM:

Addendum to myself - one book that handled the issue really really well was "Sunshine" by Robin McKinley. I believed in that bakery. "Chocolat" and "Garden Spells" also worked for me, so maybe the key lies in cooking, an art at which I am, alas, deeply unskilled.

#82 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 11:29 AM:

Cat #75: Standard trope 'We must defend against the barbarian X north (or south, or east, or west) of the border) who reave periodically and steal our sheep.'

More interesting: 'The X have their own traditions and values and people are constantly escaping to live amongst them because their life is freer.'

Standard trope: 'Problem is solved by kindly lord (or lady) helping out benighted peasants.'

More interesting: 'Peasants solving problems without resorting to lords.' (Why is there no fantasy fiction that deals with such ancient institutions as the Valencia Water Court -- the Tribunal de les Aigües -- which has been run by the peasants of the Valencian Plain for the past 1,150 years at least?) Terry Pratchett provided comic/satirical versions of such stories as send-ups of the main tropes of fantasy.

#83 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 12:55 PM:

UrsulaV@80: I'm not sure if I've seen you post anywhere besides here and your LJ (maybe on File 770?) but I can definitively state that I have not seen you being an ass.

#84 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 02:12 PM:

::UrsulaV:: ## 80 --
I second David Goldfarb - I've seen no activity of the donkey or mule variety

::Steve Wright:: #78 --
I understand that the Puppies may be coming out of their own echo chambers, but they *do* know that this is the Public, The Great Unwashed, "the Hoi Polloi" (to quote mr Wright).

If they really are so focused on the commercial aspects of the genre, they should be recalling one of the first tenets of sales - "There is no second impression." If somebody comes upon one of those posts on FILE770 and follows the links to the puppy's blogs and reads the postings there, and see how, and with whom, these authors interact in the comments the curious will form an opinion.

Similarly, if they follow the comments in the FILE770 posts and see how these same authors interact *there* they will gain a bad impression of these authors.

One can have opinions, religious convictions, politics and economic theories that are at variance to the "accepted norm" (find your own definition for *that*), but not come off as a raving loon who seems off their meds.

What I do know is that, if I were someone in a hiring position (or were considering the addition of this writer to my publishing house's roster) I would do at least a cursory search on the various aspects of social media presence, on the theory of how someone presents themselves is a lot more indicative than how a handler has managed media presence *for* someone

And looking at these self-presented personae?

My reaction would be "Thank you for your interest, we have other candidates we are considering as well, and we will certainly give you a call if we decide to move forward with your application."

#85 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 02:29 PM:

John C. Wright has created a fantasy realm that sounds almost like 'Chilblain' and a wicked magician called Bufotenine. Why isn't there an award called the Yugo for efforts like these?

#86 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 02:29 PM:

Steve Wright @72: "if it's the President"

If we're talking USA, you don't "hold a snap election." There is a line of succession -- the VP, the Speaker of the House, President Pro Tempore of the Senate, the Cabinet Secretaries beginning with Secretary of State and ending with the Secretary of the most recently formed Department, Homeland Security.

There's a reason that two Cabinet Secretaries do not attend the "State of the Union" address...

This message brought to you by your local retired Federal employee...we now return you to your regularly scheduled thread.

#87 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 02:31 PM:

UrsulaV #80: I quite understand. Who was it who said the only people opposed to escape are jailers?

#88 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 02:40 PM:

Lori Coulson @86 - nah, I was just talking "generic non-monarchical head of state" there. I think the point still stands; it's a lot easier to promote the Vice President than it is to find a replacement for the Mystically Anointed One True King. I'm pretty sure the Vice President requires no Mystical Anointing of any kind, or at least if they do, it goes on in private.

#89 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 03:05 PM:

UrsulaV @80

I've seen no sign of donkyness on your part. FWIW if I do I promise to try to quietly contact you about it, okay? But I suspect you have friends who can provide reality checks if needed.

Craig R @84

That would be my reaction also. Why make enemies when you could be making sales? But they haven't gone out of business yet, so I assume it's either working in their favor in their market or at least not doing them too much harm.

Fragano Legister @82

Yes, sure, those all sound interesting!

I think there's one of the water boards in the Netherlands (or whatever one properly calls the organization that maintains the dikes and windmills that kept the sea out so that the sea bottom could be properly farmed) that has been run democratically since, I think, the middle of the 13th century. Now *that* as a setting or society for a fantasy would interest me deeply.

Ursula V @81

_Sunshine_! I loved that book. Not least because of the bakery.

Cassy B @79

I really liked Elizabeth Moon's Paksennarion and Gird books, though the Gird ones had the drawback that I kind of knew some of the things that had to happen...

#90 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 04:35 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @87: Who was it who said the only people opposed to escape are jailers?

Tolkien said something very similar to that in his 1947 essay “On Fairy-Stories,” and I suspect the version you’re thinking of is probably an nth-generation paraphrase of it: “Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if, when he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison-walls?”

He then went on, in the rest of the essay, to prefigure Godwin’s Law by comparing advocates of literary realism to Nazis, and spent the next few paragraphs ranting about the awfulness of electric lights, automobiles, and railway stations. He eventually got around to sneering at science fiction as well.

#91 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 04:46 PM:

Steve Wright @88: Ok, generic president, gotcha!
And yeah, already having a VP to promote does make things easier. Well, actually US mythology has enshrined "taking the Oath" as the mystical annointing equivalent.

If you like this sort of fictional situation, I commend to your attention Tom Clancy's "Debt of Honor" and "Executive Orders." Not only does he eliminate the President...he takes out most of Congress and the Supreme Court as well.

#92 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 05:04 PM:

Fragano@85: John C. Wright has created a fantasy realm that sounds almost like 'Chilblain' and a wicked magician called Bufotenine. Why isn't there an award called the Yugo for efforts like these?

Robin McKinley should have one for Fthoom (also a wicked magician).

#93 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 05:09 PM:

@: Lori Coulson : #91
And let us not forget the re-boot of Battlestar Galactica, where the Secy of Education is suddenly the Chief Executive. Appointed when she went to the loo.

#94 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 05:13 PM:

Avram #90: Tolkien could be a curmudgeon.

#95 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 05:22 PM:

John C. Wright's "One Bright Star To Guide Them" has

(a) Some of the most godawful dialogue I have had the misfortune to read;

(b) character names of "Eye of Argon" standard (Donnergam son of Monergam, called 'Donny' by the viewpoint character, for example);

(c) characters of thin cardboard (a 'bad guy' is given dialogue and motivation that are so, well, shallow, that Paris Hilton and Justin Bieber would recoil (Wright seems to believe that people justify abortion on the grounds that foetuses are mere 'by-products of conception', among other things);

(d) preachiness (see c above).

#96 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 06:06 PM:

Cat #89: I agree, it would be a fascinating setting for a fantasy story, as would the water board of Murcia, which is just as old and also democratic.

#97 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 06:46 PM:

Fragano @96

I suppose in Murcia it's irrigation water that is the issue, given that it has famous orchards but sometimes gets all its rain for the year in a single day? (I had to look up Murcia, since I hadn't heard of it before.) If anything is left of the arabic irrigation system, that would be neat to see.

More generally:

I just finished _Pale Realms Of Shade_. When a writer has the devil show up claiming to be "Prince of Freethinkers" I get to call that writer a bigot. Nor was I impressed by the association of Islam with a dystopia. PROS gets sixth place in that category (provisionally, as I expect sixth place to be hard fought and I don't guarantee PROS will hold on to its, ah, "crown." But it deserves to have it for now.)

It's kind of a pity because there were hints that, if he dropped the misogyny and bigotry, abandoned the heavy-handed allegory, and actually bothered to *do* anything with the hints he dropped, he might have been able to write a good urban fantasy. I wouldn't mind reading an urban fantasy with an undying dog that helps a private eye out now and then, and where Baba Yaga makes an appearance and so on. I wouldn't mind if the Catholic Church was honestly magical as long as the bigotry against other religions / philosophies was left out of the picture.

#98 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 07:03 PM:

Cat #97: The Water Court of Valencia and the Consejo de Hombres Buenos of Murcia both determine the allocation of irrigation water. It would be fascinating to see what would happen if a fantasy novel dealt with it (there's a superb Spanish realist novel La Barraca by Vicente Blasco Ibáñez which describes the working of the Valencia Water court, inter alia; I read it for A-Levels donkeys years ago).

#99 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 07:14 PM:

@Cat #97 -

"... PROS gets sixth place in that category (provisionally, as I expect sixth place to be hard fought and I don't guarantee PROS will hold on to its, ah, "crown." But it deserves to have it for now.)..."

This.

::Brava::

#100 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 07:27 PM:

Ah, Craig R. -- it's still a line of succession thing, NOT an appointment,* all you do is take the oath, and voila!

If you're the Secretary of Education, and the fifteen people in the line before you die -- you are the President. Nota bene, you can decline the honor and it then goes to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

*No one has the power to appoint someone to the Office of the President.

#101 ::: Jenna Moran ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 07:51 PM:

@Lori Coulson #100 -

| *No one has the power to appoint someone to the Office of the President.

In fairness, so few of us have dared to try!

#102 ::: Laurence Brothers ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 08:34 PM:

For me The Goblin Emperor wins despite all analysis. There's virtually nothing about it I can isolate and identify as a structural or thematic element that makes the slightest bit of sense to me for a winner.

So TGE has an ultrapassive main character who is super-nice and perfectly virtuous, lots of similar super-long character names in a huge dramatis personae (published at the back of the book for pity's sake, where you don't see it until it's too late!), wish-fulfillment fantasy (instant ascendance to the supreme position in a hierarchical society), conventional fantasy-races in a superficially conventional fantasy world, doorstop size, and most of the book is about the main character going to meetings.

But the story is too well written to deprecate on grounds like those. Maia is too charming to resist, and his eager virtue had me cheering for him from the start. His society turns out to be interesting, intricate, and original despite the standard race names. The characters all work and work well: heroes, villains, and those who are in between. It just goes to show that analysis can be very weak sometimes.

#103 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 09:18 PM:

Laurence Brothers @102: most of the book is about the main character going to meetings

You say that like it's a bad thing!

*coughs* But, more seriously, part of why I love TGE is in fact that it's set within the official structure of a government, and despite all those books out there set in monarchies and what not, I so very seldom see any that deal with the actual official nitty-gritty of that. People are always winning by war, or backstabbing their opponents, or conniving behind the scenes, and while there is certainly politicking going on in this novel... there's actually law! Working like law! And people dealing with things by examining how decisions are made and working within that paradigm!

I may not want every single story to be about that, but I see it so rarely, it's genuinely exciting to me to see a story do it at all. Especially at novel-length.

#104 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 09:28 PM:

: Lori Coulson : #100

"... it's still a line of succession thing, NOT an appointment, all you do is take the oath, and voila!..."

Well , arguably GW Bush got into office that way *
------------
* and, in the authoritarian vein, Adama de facto appointed her by not contesting her succession to the office **
--
** as for in absentia appointments, I have been appointed to posts while away: Post of "Coordinator of Volunteers" for a LunaCon (walked into the org meeting 2 months before con and was announced to the post by the Con Chair = I was not consulted, and did not realize he was serious until the end of the meeting); and was informed I had been elected Recording Secretary for a service organization for my profession literally when I returned from a bathroom break (when I left they were discussing the upcoming budget)

#105 ::: Will McLean ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 10:14 PM:

One of the many things I like about TGE is that the government is a bit different than any historical model I'm aware of: the emperor has limited power, and there are a lot of checks and balances.

#106 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 11:04 PM:

Craig R. @104, so you're a genuine, living example of the old adage: "Never volunteer, and never leave the room."

I'd always thought of that as a sort of cynical joke....

#107 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2015, 11:29 PM:

Craig R., you really don't want to get me started talking about the war criminal, and the two Supremes who should have recused themselves from that case.

#108 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 02:35 AM:

Do we need to be rehashing the 2000 election in this thread? Really?

(Hint: No, we don’t.)

#109 ::: Randolph ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 02:43 AM:

I think this may go here…

"One does not simply ask sea lions to stop barking."

Possibly the funniest account of the pups and the gators.

#111 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 04:51 AM:

Lori (107) & Avram (108)

Oh, it wouldn't be rehashing anything. I suspect Lori & I would be singing in close harmony

#112 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 04:55 AM:

Craig R., #111: "Lori (107) & Avram (108), Oh, it wouldn't be rehashing anything. I suspect Lori & I would be singing in close harmony"

I say this only half-joking: I have to stay away from conversations on this subject, the time period from 2000-2008, and Iraq because (for a lot of personal reasons I will not impose on any of you) they trigger something very closely approaching PTSD in me.

#113 ::: Mercy ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 06:16 AM:

Doesn't the president have to be dead for the whole line of succession thing to kick in? So if the president just up and disappeared, would someone at least need to answer the question "alive, yes/no?"

Closer to being on topic, I'm still trying to get up the motivation to read the shorts.

#114 ::: Mercy ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 06:18 AM:

And the ohnosecond: that "would" was supposed to be a "wouldn't"

#115 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 07:09 AM:

Mercy, #113: "Doesn't the president have to be dead for the whole line of succession thing to kick in? So if the president just up and disappeared, would someone at least need to answer the question 'alive, yes/no?' "

Not exactly. If the President is temporarily unable to perform the full extent of his/her responsibilities due to mental or physical incapacity, the Vice-President would assume the mantle for the interim. If the President is just going in for surgery, or is injured and temporarily not capable of full cognition, the transfer of power would be on a temporary basis until the President is once again fully capable.

A situation where the whereabouts and/or survival of the President are complete unknowns is far more dicey: because such a situation would have the potential to cause great national and international instability, the knowledge of this would be kept secret and there would be every effort made to stall and put up the public appearance that everything is fine, in the hope that the President would be found safe and sound, or has recovered from whatever mishap has occurred.

This sort of subterfuge would be used until it got to the point where the charade could no longer be maintained, most likely due to the President's non-appearance for something being unexplainable (see the delightful movie "Dave" (1993) for an example of this), and it is judged by the inner circle of power that the instability which would be caused by this failure to appear would be worse than proceeding with a transfer of power.

This sounds very cloak-and-dagger, but IIRC there have been occasions in the past where such cover-ups occurred. Perhaps someone who is more well-school on U.S. history would know of this.

#116 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 07:12 AM:

Ohnosecond:: And also more well-schooled in English.

#117 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 07:26 AM:

Now I'm flashing back to that exchange in Whoops Apocalypse:

"I'm sorry, sir, the President really shouldn't be disturbed."

"Well, this one is. Would you wake him for me, Nurse?"

#118 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 07:44 AM:

"I'm sorry, sir, the President really shouldn't be disturbed."

I was thinking about the President at Walter Reed in Buckaroo Banzai: "Declaration of War... The Short Form."

#119 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 09:16 AM:

I'm now in the middle of the next Wright story, _One Bright Star To Guide Them_. As wannabe Narnia fanfic, it shows some promise--I liked the part about unlocking the cat--though there are whole sections I would cut, and it's a pity Wright never met the "cut 10% of the words" instruction.

But it's also an issue of what he choses to tell and what he chooses to show; there's a scene where Tommy describes to Richard how he gained the ability to see the ...Fey, I guess... and the first thing I thought was "what a pity he didn't actually write that out--that's one of the more interesting scenes so far and he elides it with a throwaway line." While spending paragraphs and paragraphs telling me about someone's office.

And then I got to the part about the evil teacher brainwashing the innocent children so they can't think anything but approved thoughts. Hmm.

Maybe that's what appealed to the Puppies about this story?

#120 ::: H.E. Wolf ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 09:33 AM:

JJ, #115, has reminded me that I haven't read Heinlein's "Double Star" in a while. (Reading for rockets previously awarded?)

#121 ::: Lyle Hopwood ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 10:34 AM:

I'm half-way through the John C Wright submission in the packet, and I see others are also. Time to ask: Can anyone write, or point me to, an exegesis of Parliament of Beasts and Birds? I'm convinced it's about something and I'd like to know what rather than dismiss it.

I grew up in a typical western milieu and know (or can google) things like the internal date given (Easter) and why a worm can be a dragon, but I've never read, for example, Thomas Aquinas or Augustine of Hippo and the story reads as though it was written to settle some internal argument about such thinkers.

#122 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 10:34 AM:

Re: presidential chain of command

Eisenhower had an unexpected heart attack in 1955, causing considerable turmoil.

In a movie I can't pinpoint*, someone who's been dislocated twenty years asks how Eisenhower is doing.

"He's dead".

"Oh my god, that means Nixon's president!"

By which point, he was.

I also enjoyed Dave, though their supposition that he could have a political career after the events shown without anyone noticing similarities seemed thin. Or horribly cynical if it meant fixed with sufficient political grease.

*Must have been Back to the Future?

#123 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 10:36 AM:

H.E. Wolf, #120: "I haven't read Heinlein's "Double Star" in a while."

Well, duh, I can't believe I neglected to add a reference to that. I love that book. Thanks for the reminder.

#124 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 11:19 AM:

Ok, I've stuck my toe into the Hugo packet pool.

"On a Spiritual Plain" was.... boring. It didn't say anything fascinating or new; there were no revelations or conflicts or even interesting characters. There was no actual worldbuilding; on a planet that different, I'd expect to have at least a little bit of travelogue on the way to the pole. Nothing. It's confirmed that human souls exist, and nobody reacts, other than mild annoyance at the inconvenience of being haunted; there's no character growth or change.

Not impressed. This ranks below No Award on my ballot.

#125 ::: Paul Weimer (@princejvstin) ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 11:39 AM:

@JJ #115

This sounds very cloak-and-dagger, but IIRC there have been occasions in the past where such cover-ups occurred. Perhaps someone who is more well-school on U.S. history would know of this.

The latter part of Woodrow Wilson's administration comes immediately to mind as a case where the President's near incapacitation was downplayed by his wife, who did as much of the heavy lifting for him as she could.

#126 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 11:58 AM:

Ok. And now I've read Totaled. An ok story, I suppose, but I agree with whomever upthread noted that "Flowers for Algernon" told it better. Doesn't seem Hugo-caliber to me.

Oddly, in my Hugo packet, the only other thing in the Short Story category is an entire anthology called The Baen Big Book of Monsters. Looking further, I see it's got "A Single Samurai" in it, but neither of the other two.

Where are people finding the other "The Parliament of Beasts and Birds" and "Turncoat"? Are there links somewhere?

#127 ::: Lyle Hopwood ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 12:05 PM:

Parliament of Beasts and Birds is in your Hugo packet in a book-length thing called The Nominated Short Fiction of John C Wright. Turncoat is in the Best Related Works folder, in a book called Riding the Red Horse

#128 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 12:08 PM:

"A Single Samurai" reads to me like a video game. Or a macho fantasy. No... depth. Our narrator is all "I heard every scream"... from the top of a mountain? Seriously? Suspension of disbelief failed. Disbelief fell to the ground with an audible *splat*.

Below "No Award."

#129 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 12:15 PM:

Lyle Hopwood @127, thanks! Off to look for them.

#130 ::: H.E. Wolf ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 12:15 PM:

JJ, #123 - I love it too! Thank you, in turn, for bringing it to mind with your comment at #115. [I'm going to find my copy and start reading....]

#131 ::: Robert Z ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 12:31 PM:

@70, 76, 102, 103:

I'm currently thinking that The Goblin Emperor will get my #1 spot for exactly these reasons. I bounced off it hard at first, set it aside, came back to it a few weeks later... and found myself utterly charmed by Maia and his big heart, and his slow, almost imperceptible transformation from a terrified countrymouse to a judicious and confidant leader.

But the thing that really clinched it for me was the Three-Spoiler Problem thread. Not the actual discussion of the strengths and flaws of the book, but the overall snarkiness. I'm well aware that TGE has its share of flaws and weaknesses, but it occurred to me: if people had been snarking on TGE as they were on 3BP, I would have been bothered and maybe even a little offended.

This emotional reaction to TGE was so surprising, and all the more so because I never even saw how the spell got cast. TGE isn't the sort of book I normally would love. But I do. And I don't quite know why. And that makes me love it even more.

#132 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 12:38 PM:

"The Parliament of Beasts and Birds" - waning moons are seen in the east before dawn, not in the east at sunset.

And this isn't a story; it's a theological argument.

Below "No Award".

#133 ::: Kelly Jennings ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 12:51 PM:

"..it's a pity Wright never met the "cut 10% of the words" instruction."

He seems to have, instead, met someone who told him that literary writing requires him to *add* 20% more words.

"And make them fancy words, John! That's what literary writin' is! All the fancy words you can find! Pile'm in!"

#134 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 12:52 PM:

"Turncoat". Gosh, the only twist is given away by the name. When your story title is a spoiler... that's just wrong. And a good 90% of the story is made up of descriptions of the sort that I skip over in Honor Harrington novels. I don't *care* about the exact specifications of your laser arrays or whatever.

Below No Award.

#135 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 01:42 PM:

Having read a bunch of the Puppy entries by now, a certain theme seems to be emerging - not a universal one, but a common one.

It's all rather as if they think of a cool scene of some kind, and then sort of assemble enough of a story around it to justify it. Lions fighting giant spiders, ghosts streaming through an alien Stonehenge, giant robots punching Godzilla in the face, whatever... they start with the scene and bend the story around that.

I have no objections to cool scenes, but the trouble is that the stories seem to get subordinated to them; the narrative and the characterization gets all bent out of shape by the need to Get To The Cool Bit.

It's not universal, amongst the Puppy nominees. Kary English doesn't do it, nor does John C. NoRelation (so far, though I haven't read all of his yet). But it's common enough to be something of a stylistic marker, I think.

#136 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 02:16 PM:

Steve Wright: I've seen several folks comment on how the Puppies' language about the supremacy of "story" gives very little attention to worldbuilding. And sure enough, the work they've presented to us is nearly all quite bad at it.

#137 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 02:41 PM:

Lyle Hopwood @121 - as far as I can gather, Wright is postulating (as part of this story) that Creation as a whole continues on after the Apocalypse removes the human species from the equation, and that it is, therefore, necessary to replace humanity with something else that has (theologically speaking) human characteristics. So the animals are being given the opportunity, at least, to become what C. S. Lewis, in the Cosmic Trilogy, called hnau - articulate beings with the capacity for faith and reason. It's notable, I think, that the domesticated animals - the ones who are closest to humanity to start with - are mostly the ones who take the opportunity. (And that the Fox, the one non-domestic animal to take it up, gets crippled as part of the deal; the Lion treading on it being some symbol of the bestial nature holding it back, perhaps.)

That's my take on it, as far as it goes. There's still a lot of stuff, though, that doesn't seem clear to me, and I suspect it's largely down to assumptions made by Wright and not articulated in the story. Where does knowledge of good and evil fit into all this, for instance? And, as I said in my own LJ review, what is the salvational status of the newly humanized animals? (Saved, or Fallen, or something entirely new?)

It's not an uninteresting idea, but I think that's all it is - an idea, dressed up in high-flown language, but not fully articulated.

#138 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 05:29 PM:

The theology of Wright's story is confused and problematic: it denies animals the status of good-in-themselves by implying that their way to "salvation" is to be assimilated to humanity (despite their being part of a nature that God as a whole declared good). In addition, it ignores the radical uniqueness of the Incarnation which is normally understood to have incorporated all of Nature ontologically in its effects. (Scotus held that the universe was created so that God might become incarnate; Scotus is in good standing these days and was beatified a few years ago.) The story instead posits a recapitulated salvation history instead if a once-for-all action.

#139 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 05:31 PM:

: Paul Weimer (@princejvstin) : #125

"...The latter part of Woodrow Wilson's administration comes immediately to mind as a case where the President's near incapacitation was downplayed by his wife, who did as much of the heavy lifting for him as she could. ..."

Are you thinking of FDR, rather than Wilson?

#140 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 05:48 PM:

Wilson or FDR:

Both of them. Wilson, longer and more covered up?

#141 ::: Lyle Hopwood ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 06:47 PM:

Thank you, Steve Wright and James!

#142 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 07:02 PM:

Wilson's stroke was October 2, 1918 and the illness was covered up by his wife and doctor for over a year and a half afterwards.

FDR was mentally competent up to his death at Warm Springs, Georgia. His wife did a lot of traveling on his behalf, but he was in a lot better shape mentally than Wilson.

#143 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 07:26 PM:

The cover-up with FDR was that he had become paralyzed from the waist down years before he became President. The entire time that he was in office, members of the government, the Secret Service, White House staff, and even members of the press all contrived to avoid mention and photos of FDR in a wheelchair. In photo ops and public speeches, he was wearing leg braces which locked him into a standing position, or was seated. Such was the collusion that many members of the American public and even other world leaders were not aware of his paralysis.

Of course, that sort of cover-up could never be accomplished today, with the advent of video and the ever-increasing invasiveness of the paparazzi.

#144 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 07:28 PM:

I made two tries at Anderson's book. It reads like a Saturday-matinee cast-of-thousands serial space opera, one episode per chapter. And it's boring, in part because you can see parts of the plot coming from a parsec away.

Three-Body Problem, on the other hand, grabs just as well the second time as it did the first, despite the silly science.

#145 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 07:59 PM:

::: James ::: #138I think the problem with Wright is that he seems to have taken his conversion epiphany as a chance to shoehorn his prior beliefs and attitudes into a, to him, non-secular frame.

I was particularity struck, and had to reread several times, his claim that one of his reasons (main reasons?) to convert to Christianity was the "irrationality" (his word) of sexual relations that cannot be procreative.

And has kept his not-very-resolved loathing toward what he calls "deviants" and "perverts."

As a Christian myself (and a former Roman Catholic, at that) I keep (to use the phrase we've been bandying about here) bouncing off his expression of theology.

It's like he did some survey course of RC tenets and backgrounds, and hasn't really done more than the Cliffs Notes version of contemplating the mysteries.

Actually, I think, to me, that's what seems the issue -- he wants everything spelled out, including what is, and is not, a Mystery(tm).

(Warning! backyard-mechanic-like theology neep follows)
Various strains of Christianity are built around the concept of the tensions between of what can be rationally observed, philosophically derived and Revealed Truth. "Modern" Catholic (and Anglican, at least) thought is that the individual is the Captain of their own spiritual course, and that the realization of the promise of Grace is the individual's responsibility.

It seems that Wright came from the atheistic certainty of a lack of supreme being, no afterlife and no essential purpose of humanity to a faith that promises that afterlife, and the promise that humanity is innately endowed as a structure in the universe, by design.

I wonder if he finds attractive the structure and stricture of some of the extreme conservative variants of Catholicisms that emphasize adherence to ritual and a pretty invariant interpretation of, and adherence to, The Rules. And if The Rules resemble and reenforce some of his prior beliefs and internalized worldview it will be a lot more attractive than one that requires contemplation of the fundamental uncertainty of elements/tenets that can only be taken as elements of faith, and that there is no firm prescriptive path that ensures Salvation and Redemption.

As an illustration of the uncertainty that many Christians feel when faced with the responsibility for guiding their own souls, I was very affected by Ted Chiang's novelette "Hell Is The Absence Of God", and the thought experiment raised when the Deity itself may be instrumental in the propagation of the Problem of Evil. I note that the story won the Hugo, Nebula, Locus and Seiun awards.

I *was* goingg to say that it might be instructive for Wright to read the story, and reflct on some of he issues raised. However, when I went Wikipedia to very the author's name, I saw a note that one John C. Wright has declared the story as "trite antichristian propaganda."

I swear, you can't make these things up.

#146 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 08:10 PM:

145
Somehow, I don't think Wright would appreciate the Quintarians. Or Lida Morehouse's version of God and archangels.

He's over in the far-right corner of the RCs, with the Latin-mass-only end-Vatican-II lot.

#147 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 08:10 PM:

In re Wilson's Stroke -

I know that I must have known that at some point, but I have completely forgotten it.

Now I'm going to have to did up references again. (figuring the schedule on when I will have times to get to the library)

#148 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 08:18 PM:

And has kept his not-very-resolved loathing toward what he calls "deviants" and "perverts."

Sigh. We all know how this will end.

As Christopher Hitchens said, "Whenever I hear some bigmouth in Washington or the Christian heartland begin banging on about the evils of sodomy or whatever, I mentally enter his name in my notebook and contentedly set my watch. Sooner rather than later, he will be discovered down on his weary and well-worn knees in some dreary motel or latrine..."

#149 ::: JBWoodford ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 09:09 PM:

Sigh. We all know how this will end.

Contra Hitchens, I don't think that's always the case...and in fact I think less of the ones for whom it won't be. Consider that they are railing against the unique evil of a sin by which they are not, themselves, tempted. OTOH, the closet cases who *are* tempted can't bring themselves to think that this is something innate to them, and so they generalize that everyone else must be as tempted as they are. The net effect is the same, but the latter group seems more salvageable.

#150 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 09:41 PM:

Craig R. @147 -- the only reason I recalled Wilson's stroke is a novel called "Fall of Giants" by Ken Follett. For some reason, history I've picked up from fiction sticks in my brain better than much I supposedly learned in school.

And the Kennedy assassination is why I'm fascinated with Presidential succession and the resulting fall-out when invoked.

#151 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 09:44 PM:

So far, nothing I've seen or heard has inclined me to change my mind and read any of the Puppy-slate work.

Laurence 102: My sentiments are very like yours. It's a delightful story.

I suspect the glossary and dramatis personæ sections would be more useful in a dead-tree edition. I'm sure I'd've found them and used them repeatedly if I had paper in my hands.

One flaw, I thought, was that the name conventions were too elaborate for a novel with that many names. One of them needed to be simplified. But this would not have bothered me if I'd had a paper book.

I liked Maia from the very beginning. I also identified with his tendency to treat all the people he met as people he interacted with as a person, rather than roles he interacted with as Emperor. (I recall being advised by my first boss in New York to stop having lunch with the secretaries (this is ~1983), because it made me look like I wasn't one of the professional staff. I ignored this.)

His attitute toward Setheris is familiar, too, as is Setheris' astonishment that his YEARS OF SYSTEMATIC CRUELTY AND ABUSE are being held against him. Yeah, Setheris, you get a position in my court...Imperial Bottle-Washer.

After starting to think that Maia was reacting to things pretty much how I would (mod his heterosexuality) I was pretty stunned to find that, because of a lack of courtly verbal adroitness, some courtiers start referring to him as Half-Tongue.

I don't think I know Katherine Addison, so it seems unlikely I'm being (sort of) Tuckerized.

#152 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 09:51 PM:

Alex R # 148 -

I will admit to some very unchristian schadenfreude when such new stories come out, or the preacher caught with the office intern, etc, etc.

On the other hoof, sometimes people can be innately straight and narrow path publicly, and not be, as JBWoodford has noted, actually tempted to that Sin.

Sometimes that cigar is, really and truly, just a cigar. What I find myself fighting against, truly, is the designation of someone as "not really Christian" because they don't follow the same path I do.

It's very easy to visualize a set of beliefs, or actions, that one finds repulsive and vile, and categorize those as being contrary to one's own religious or ethical structure. Then, when some person who exhibits those behaviors, or publicly embraces those beliefs, yet professes to the same religious or ethical structure as your own, you want to say "this person obviously is not {religion x}!{ethics Y}, no matter what they say!"

In the instant case, someone like Wright can exhibit traits that I find truly terrible in belief. and application. What I cannot say, however, is that he is "not Christian." *He* identifies himself as Christian. That he does not follow *my* definition of what *I* feel a true Christian should be, or that he regards his faith expression as being full and complete in the limitations that *I* find a fractional expression of faith, does not mean that, to his eyes, he is a Christian. Nor should I try to claim, on those grounds, that he is not Christian.

What I can say is that he does not follow the same tenets that I regard as being a Christian. That is *my* witness and experience of Christianity. I really, cannot, try to impose my definition upon him, his Journey is not mine.

Can I say that the actions he takes, and the views he expresses, are ones I find vile and bigoted? Yes, I can.

Can I say, based on those actions and views, that he is not "Christian?" No, I cannot.

Sorry for the rambling.

#153 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 09:56 PM:

Two things here -

First, I may wind up collecting some of these ramblings and refining them and putting them up in a more permanent and accessible form on my own pages. The initial articulations here are really very rough and untutored

Second, I find some truly geekish and word-nerd glee that the browser's spell-check dictionary recognizes "schadenfreude."

#154 ::: 'As You Know' Bob ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 09:56 PM:

#151 Xopher Halftongue I don't think I know Katherine Addison, so it seems unlikely I'm being (sort of) Tuckerized.

Pardon me if I'm stating the obvious, but "Katherine Addison" is a pen name for Sarah Monette....

#155 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 10:01 PM:

I'm not a Christian, so what I say is "he sure doesn't seem to be practicing the same religion as the Christians I know."

#156 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 10:08 PM:

myself, at152

"..or that he regards his faith expression as being full and complete in the limitations that *I* find a fractional expression of faith, does not mean that, to his eyes, he is a Christian..."

*should* read:

"...or that he regards his faith expression as being full and complete in the limitations that *I* find a fractional expression of faith, does not mean that, to his eyes, he is not a Christian..."

I always find these *after* I post...

#157 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 10:13 PM:

Xopher -

*that* is certainly a valid construction.

At times I'm not a very good Christian. But I'll keep practicing at it, and someday maybe I'll get it right..

#158 ::: Paul Weimer (@princejvstin) ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 10:27 PM:

I was thinking Wilson, not FDR, because of the mental impairment following his stroke as opposed to FDR's mostly physical challenges.

#159 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2015, 10:45 PM:

If I were to wander over to the local Oratory, I could randomly collect a good set of people who would agree with Wright, many of whom would be likely to be converts (you could look up David Warren as a published name, for example). What is depressing about Wright is not that he is unusual, but that he's an unusually articulate but otherwise typical representative of one group within the Roman Church.

#160 ::: johnofjack ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 12:37 PM:

Cassy B. @ 134: When your story title is a spoiler... that's just wrong.

I have seen a case where (for me, at least) this worked beautifully: Robert Bresson's A Man Escaped. I thought it was wonderfully tense, in spite of the pacing (or, in places, because of it); the whole time I was watching it I was worried that the title might be a lie.

Where Bresson and Wright differ is that Bresson strikes me as fully aware of audience expectations and how to tease and/or thwart them; and even when the story is moving slowly he still commands my attention.

#161 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 12:43 PM:

Lawrence @102: I rate "The Goblin Emperor" as a tour de force: it ruthlessly deconstructs the whole "poor boy raised by honest provincial folks catapulted to a high-ranking place in the empire" narrative in high fantasy, holes the might-makes-right ideology under the waterline (Maia triumphs through superior committee-work, not beheadings) and shows that it's possible to do high fantasy without the highly dubious romanticisation of raw brutality that mars the sub-genre.

It's exactly the kind of high fantasy I wish there was more of (and didn't believe existed).

#162 ::: Lyle Hopwood ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 02:23 PM:

I finished the short fiction of JC (hmm) Wright.

I'll give him this much - he has a heck of an imagination. His characters can't get through a paragraph before they're describing ten amazing adventures they had in the past, or will be having in the future, or are just thinking about. We get multiple tours through Ancient Egypt (and its famous "Coptic jars"), Manx fairy tales, Voodoo, Irish mythology and Narnia. Unfortunately this prolixity doesn't help and often hinders the story underneath. I was more interested in what the kids were said to have done in the past in pseudo-Narnia than what the adult was doing today, and more interested in what the supernatural detective was said to have done while he was alive than what he was now doing as a ghost (getting his sins absolved). If he would just slow down and concentrate on the story...and get his fantasy speech register right...and ixnay on the hard-boiled detective cliches...and a few other things...

Then there's the gender politics. Wright does rather more than sprinkle his gender political messages around. I felt I was being belabored about the head and shoulders with a Clue-By-Four.

#163 ::: El Muneco ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 03:11 PM:

Steve Wright @ 135 : I agree with your analysis. In fact, I have been musing on the same general idea for a couple of weeks now, because that's exactly the way that /I/ write.

My inspirations tend to be very clearly realized scenes, with feature-film-quality visuals and sound. Unfortunately, they also tend to be /short/ - two, maybe three minutes tops. The length of a short-short story at most, at least without more framework. And building that framework so that it flows properly both in to and out of the vignette has a nasty tendency to distort both the setting and the original scene, in the name of consistency.

So I definitely see how that kind of creative process can lead to Puppy-quality work. The difference between me and them is that I not only don't think my work is Hugo-quality, I rarely even show it to my friends...

#164 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 03:56 PM:

Steve Wright @135: It's all rather as if they think of a cool scene of some kind, and then sort of assemble enough of a story around it to justify it.

As I recall, this was common scenario-building advice in RPGs around 1990.

#165 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 04:53 PM:

As I recall, this was common scenario-building advice in RPGs around 1990.

And it works in RPGs because you can count on your players to bring it alive in ways you never expected - they bring the characterization, the plot, and the dialogue with them, thus sparing the Game Master the trouble of thinking that stuff up and making it consistent.

#166 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 05:09 PM:

Contra Hitchens, I don't think that's always the case...and in fact I think less of the ones for whom it won't be.

I think you're right in a sense; sometimes the hypocrite dies before the hypocrisy comes out, or sometimes the personal issue is about something other than sex. On the other hand, Wright could be railing against the injustice of usury or complaining about the death penalty... I've got a certain amount of pity for the guy - he's clearly a little bonkers - and I'd hate to libel him, but the stereotype exists for a reason.

For myself, I've got an odd take on Christianity; while I'm a Reformed Heathen, some of my Christian relatives take very seriously the idea that the poor should be fed, cared for and nurtured, in one case to the point where if she was Catholic she'd be a good candidate for sainthood - and Wright would probably dismiss her as a social justice warrior... not to mention that she Worships Jesus* The Wrong Way.

Sigh. I think my cynicism is showing.

* You know, the ultimate social justice warrior.

#167 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 06:27 PM:

I just finished Championship B'tok. I think.

The version I got from Analog doesn't seem to have an ending. Several characters got left in cliffhanger situations, one group of characters is about to ambush another---and it just ... ends is not the right word for what it does, but there is no more story here.

Has anyone checked the packet version? Do I need to look there for the ending or can I just form my opinions now?

#168 ::: Lyle Hopwood ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 06:35 PM:

Cat #167 - No, that's it, it ends at "Capture of human starship." If you look at the afterword in Analog it says there were other stories in this setting previously. I guess there will be other stories in this setting later, too. I considered it part of a series and not really a novelette.

#169 ::: Lyle Hopwood ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 06:38 PM:

Also, Cat #167, forgot to mention - did you notice that chapter 1 was about a fellow called Lyle (which is a great name) who was never mentioned again in the rest of the "story"? Also never mentioned again were his ship, his ship's AI nor the ship he was investigating.

#170 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 07:49 PM:

Apparently Arlan Andrews' Flow is the middle of three parts, which would explain the WTF comments I've seen from the people who've read it.

#171 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 08:49 PM:

Lyle Hopwood @168, 169

I didn't want to get too longwinded here, but my thoughts on _Championship B'tok are on my LJ (With the Dreamwidth shadow account linked here because it works more reliably than LJ does.)

The short version is yes, I did notice that we never get back to the character we started with, or his AI or find out what was wrong with the ship whose silence they were sent to investigate. I have a hunch it might have something to do with the aliens building their fleet on that planet but if so, wrecking the ship in a noticeable way was very dumb. They should have hacked its electronics so it would report back as normal while they disassembled it for parts then took the brain-equivalent offworld in a shuttle, had ir report a systems malfunction and go silent well away from their planetoid. *Then* they could have taken the last part of it home to take apart. As it is somebody is going to miss the repair person and the repair ship.

#172 ::: 'As You Know' Bob ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 09:27 PM:

This is more "puppy-madness" than it is strictly "Hugo -related" but I'll put it here anyway:

N. K. Jemisin @nkjemisin tweeted:
Apparently Larry Correia was an asshole at Gencon? Panelist of color describes ugly interaction. #wc39 #INDG
3:03 PM - 23 May 2015

to which Correia - with his fine grasp of the nuances of the written word - misquotes her and replies:

Larry Correia @monsterhunter45
NK Jemisin tweeted she heard I was racist at GenCon....
10:28 AM - 24 May 2015

Sorry, dude - while "racist" is a subset of "asshole", that isn't actually what she said.

#173 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 10:17 PM:

I read the novelettes and novellas today. It's clear that John C. Wright fancies himself to be a theologian. It's also clear that whenever he mixes story and theology, it doesn't end well for either the story or the theology.

#174 ::: Joe H. ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 10:32 PM:

Apropos of nothing, I'm starting to think I want an edition of The Goblin Emperor illustrated by Arthur Rackham. Or, given the unlikelihood of that, by Charles Vess.

#175 ::: Doctor Science ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 11:35 PM:

I've seen very little discussion of either artist category, so that's what I'm focusing on right now.

I am *deeply* frustrated at how many of the artists' images in the packet were clearly created before 2014. For most of them (pro or fan) it is very difficult to figure out which works of theirs are from 2014 and so should be used as a basis for judgment.

What do those of you with more Worldcon experience than I think of the idea of making the categories Best Pro/Fan Artwork, for a specific work and not a whole body of work? Among other things, I predict it would radically increase the number of different artist who would win -- both artist categories have a severe and historic problem of being judged on "body of work" without regard to year, and with certain individuals winning over and over and over and over ...

#176 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 11:42 PM:

Chris _ # 173

"... It's clear that John C. Wright fancies himself to be a theologian..."

Isn't Wright the puppy who doesn't believe in subconscious influences or non-intentional subtext?

If so, it would seem a very poor match for someone to consider themselves a theologian.

(for some reason I'm thinking of a line by the Evil Bishop in the (Guilty Pleasure) film "Ladyhawk" (to one of his henchmen on the escape of a character from the Bishop's dungeon.)

Hench-critter: "But it would have taken a miracle for him to have escaped through that drain!"
Bishop: "I believe in miracles. It's part of my job."

#177 ::: Doctor Science ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2015, 11:46 PM:

Lenora Rose:

Kirk DouPonce is obviously working in Photoshop. He describes himself as a "designer" and an "illustrator", not an artist. He's quite a skilled Photoshopper, don't get me wrong, but not IMHO so skilled that it rises to the level of art, and certainly not enough to deserve being on the Hugo ballot. Just compare his work to Daniel Dos Santos, John Harris, and John Picacio: he's not playing in the same league.

#178 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 04:00 AM:

Doctor Science, #177: "Kirk DouPonce is... quite a skilled Photoshopper, don't get me wrong, but not IMHO so skilled that it rises to the level of art, and certainly not enough to deserve being on the Hugo ballot. Just compare his work to Daniel Dos Santos, John Harris, and John Picacio: he's not playing in the same league."

I know, I look at a selection of DouPonce's work, and I think, hey, he's pretty good. Then I look at a selection of Dan Dos Santos' work, or Stephan Martiniere's work, or Galen Dara's work, and I think, no, not really on the same level.


#179 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 04:04 AM:

Oops, to be fair, here's a link to Kirk DouPonce's work.

#180 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 06:46 AM:

Cat, Lyle, JJ - I have much the same feelings about "Championship B'tok". "Flow" and "The Journeyman: In The Stone House" are both explicitly described as being episodes in ongoing series... but at least they are complete stories in themselves (though, I would argue, slight ones, and extremely slow to develop in the case of "Flow"). But "B'tok" really felt, to me, like a disconnected chunk of something larger. If it was intended as a stand-alone story, it's got too many dangling plot threads to work properly, I feel.

#181 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 07:05 AM:

JJ @179 - after following that link, my opinions on DouPonce have not materially shifted, but I feel a burning, if not overmastering, desire to know more about Amish Vampires in Space.

#182 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 07:31 AM:

Steve: Afraid it's a blatant ripoff of "Sandemanian Bricklayers In Orbit". http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1633

#183 ::: Rail ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 08:07 AM:

JJ @179: I notice that the DouPonce link has a lot of photos of (presumably) the person, while the others have a much higher art-to-photo ratio.

And yes, he's a Photoshop compositor.

#184 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 12:01 PM:

Sadly, the following just crossed into my newsfeed:
RIP, Tanith Lee

#185 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 12:42 PM:

While reading "The Journeyman: In the Stone House" I had a nagging sense of familiarity; the backstory given rang some bells. After a little investigation, I discovered that the Hugo packet for 2013 happened to contain the very issue of Analog that had the first part, "On the Short-Grass Prairie".

#186 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 12:57 PM:

Chris @#173: It's clear that John C. Wright fancies himself to be a theologian. It's also clear that whenever he mixes story and theology, it doesn't end well for either the story or the theology.

Was "Yes, Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus" one of the ones that got yanked? Because I would dearly love someone who knows more about Catholic theology than I do to explain something from that story to me.

See, the title character gets a literal vistiation from St. Nicholas, during which he tells a story about an innkeeper who murdered a couple of young men in order to steal their things; Nicholas discovers the crime and convinces the man to repent, whereupon the victims are miraculously revived and the innkeeper is saved. This is described as "They died so that he could be redeemed."

Now, I admit I don't know much about Christianity, but my strong impression was that Jesus had already taken care of that. It seems to skirt dangerously close to blasphemy, though again, my ignorance is such that I'm probably missing something simple that makes that not the case.

The story as a whole was pretty horrid. I'm glad I didn't pay for it.

#187 ::: Richard ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 01:16 PM:

Carrie S @#186: Two people died at the inkeeper's hands so that the innkeeper could be forgiven for the sin of killing them?

I'd been developing a theory that Wright is trying to invent a new SF subgenre of alternate theology, but he's clearly taken it farther than I could have imagined. Maybe he's riffing off of the Infancy Gospel of Thomas? Or writing the origin story of the Anti-Circumcellions?

(Also, hello everyone! I've been lurking here for quite a while and am slightly bewildered that this is the topic that I finally decloak over. Maybe I've been too perfectionistic about my poetry, or something.)

#188 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 01:36 PM:

The innkeeper story is one of the legends, like the dowry story giving rise to the pawnbroker's sign, which accreted around Nicholas of Myra. The meaning assigned is Wright's, although it's obviously one way of viewing the story. The story itself may have pre-Christian history (the Nicholas story certainly attracted to him some of the attributes of Mercury), and is of a sort not uncommon in the ancient world.

It's theologically acceptable to make that observation, though, because of a general model that patterns tend to reiterate through salvation-history (this is the basis of allegorical/moral/anangogical readings) and just as death/redemption patterns appear through the OT (Joseph, Samson) and were used as antetypes of Christ, so similar patterns tend to show up in saint's lives. There's no derogation from the once-for-all sacrifice on Calvary any more than the Eucharist repeats instead of participates in that sacrifice.

#189 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 01:56 PM:

There's nothing wrong with working primarily in Photoshop (says the woman who works primarily in digital art programs, though I prefer Painter for the heavy lifting) and his craftsmanship seems very solid.

It's just...personally, I need a bit more than craft. We could fill Kansas edge to edge with skilled digital craftsmen. But there's nothing about the works of his that I'm looking at that demonstrate a distinctive style--I couldn't look at his work and then go pick it out of a lineup of other photo-manips. There's a few gems in there--I think the cover for "Letters to a Young Calvinist" is very slick and "A Time To Speak" is solid design--but they don't stand out as a cohesive stylistic whole.

(Somebody, incidentally, who does fantastic almost-entirely-digital-collage work that breaks my heart is Alexander Jansson:

http://alexanderjansson.deviantart.com/gallery/

Wildly different and not in the same style or meant to fill the same niche, but a great example of fantastical artwork made almost entirely via Photoshop.)

#190 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 02:30 PM:

(Waves at Richard, whom he may have met elseweb.)

The St. Nicholas story seems to be missing a young man: all the versions I know of have three victims. There's a traditional North French carol about it - if you're interested, googling 'il etait trois petits enfants' will bring up a number of versions on YouTube - mostly fairly tastefully illustrated. (But obviously, TW for the whole idea of inn-keepers killing children.) There's also a Benjamin Britten setting of the story in 'St. Nicholas'.

Folk songs being what they are, the words vary from version to version - at least one has the inn-keeper scarpering, and stopped in is tracks by St. Nicholas. I don't know that it's specified whether the point of stopping him is to call him to repentance or bring him to justice, but saints being what they are, I think it's not inconceivable that we're to imagine the latter.

There's at least one cognate Greek myth, involving Dionysius, iirc. I think its origins may be in Asia Minor (ie, Turkey). Since that's also where St. Nicholas hailed from they may actually be the same story, rather than just cognates..

(Ob 'Folk Songs Are Your Friends': if you're an inn-keeper and the bishop comes calling, be very clear that the only things available are the items explicitly stated on the menu.)

#191 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 02:32 PM:

Re: DouPonce in general: His entries in the Hugo packet are much more focused on actual art (or illustration, if you prefer*), aand that's what I was basing my opinion on. The google view of his work includes a decided range of art, art sources (IE, models), and design work, instead, which does him no favours, and does point more readily to his flaws. What I liked in the pieces selected for the Hugo packet is a keen eye for composition, which is my weakness and therefore something I respect a lot. (Dan Dos Santos, by contrast, while strong in several ways DouPonce is not (texture, palette, facial features, action poses, etc.) and a superior artist, virtually always uses the composition "single figure, centred."

I do see what you mean by the comparison to the other artists you list. (and instant thanks for pointing me to Galen Dara, that's wonderful.)

I'm not sure, though, that attacking the program and method makes as much sense to me; it rings a lot like saying because there's bad collage out there, collage artists as a whole are unworthy. If someone can explain why photoshop is a sneer in terms that don't boil down to "other people use it badly", I'd like to know.


* "designer" does mean something substantially different and implies a lot of things about his work and approach that don't fit with a competition for artists, but I have yet to hear an argument for a difference between artist and illustrator that doesn't come off as highbrow vs. lowbrow at best, and "I just don't like it", at worst.

#192 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 02:34 PM:

(why am I not surprised Ursula said what I wanted to about Photoshop better and more briefly?)

#193 ::: Laurence Brothers ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 02:35 PM:

Charlie @ 161,

Since you mention it, I agree TGE is a deconstruction that in effect attacks some of the more tedious fantasy literature tropes.

I wonder though whether it was a deliberate deconstruction in the sense of attacking those hidebound structures, or whether it simply reflected the author's positive desire to construct something new and fresh in the context of the old framework. Not that it really matters to the work itself if either of those (or both for that matter) were the case. But still it would be interesting to hear the author's opinion on the question.

#194 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 03:42 PM:

From what I know of Monette's critical writing, I would think it likely that she's likely to have been thinking in terms of deconstruction.

#195 ::: Doctor Science ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 04:19 PM:

Lenora:

Which of DouPonce's pieces in the packet do you characterize as "illustration"? Bear in mind that the files named DouPonce_Hugo_2 and DouPonce_Hugo_6 absolutely should not be there, because they were created in 2013 and 2012, respectively (according to their timestamps).

I'm not blaming DouPonce in particular for this: *most* of the artists have included ineligible work in their packets, and I am now trying to figure out who to make a stink to.

#196 ::: Rail ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 04:46 PM:

UrsulaV @189: I have nothing against Photoshop as an art medium. I have seen fantastic things done with DAZ3D renders manipulated in Photoshop. I'm working on learning to do them myself.

It's just that it looks like there's not much added to the composites. I'm looking for more than that in an entry in an art competition.

#197 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 05:24 PM:

Steve Wright, #181: "after following that link, my opinions on DouPonce have not materially shifted, but I feel a burning, if not overmastering, desire to know more about Amish Vampires in Space."

Please note that there is a sequel: Amish Zombies in Space.

There is also some interesting backstory on Amish Vampires in Space.

#198 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 07:10 PM:

Thanks, JJ!

The author used to do development work for FoxPro... now, that explains a lot.

#199 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 07:22 PM:

I'm now reading Rat Queens...is it boring because I'm not a D&D player, or is it boring because it's boring? I keep expecting it to get funny à la DWJ and Pratchett, but...no, just more violence, wheee. But I don't watch gangster movies either, so I can't tell if my dislike of gore is interfering with my judgement of the story.

#200 ::: johnofjack ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 08:17 PM:

TexAnne: I love comics, don't mind violence much, have never played D&D, and also couldn't really get into Rat Queens.

DWJ is Diana Wynne Jones, right?

#201 ::: cyllan ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 08:57 PM:

I tore through Rat Queens and loved it, but I am an avid D&D player. I can see how someone who doesn't relate to that particular flavor of the fantasy genre would find it dull.

Ms Marvel remains my ranking choice for graphic novel. Sex Criminals -- I really liked it, mostly. I finished Vol I undecided if I should hate the main male character or find him appealing. I think I hate him, but I can't tell if I'm supposed to or not. That ambiguity isn't a bad thing, but it's an unresolved tension (that may well be resolved in future volumes) that leaves me less fond of the story than I otherwise might be.

#202 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 09:01 PM:

Doctor Science: I'm not sure what you're asking. They all look like art pieces to me, many of them covers for books, which are by definition a form of illustration. They don't just look like what I would think of as pure "design" work. You can make valid arguments re: their quality, but I don't know that you can call them not illustration (Bad art is still art.)

Unless you're meaning something else yet.

#203 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 09:29 PM:

Have finished reading Ancillary Sword. While I enjoyed it and wouldn't be upset to see it win, it's a distant second to The Goblin Emperor, which IMO has pulled a Secretariat on this year's field.

I should note that I have not read Ancillary Justice, which has both an upside and a downside. The upside is that I'm evaluating the second book solely on its own merits, not by comparison to the first one. The downside is that there are surely nuances I'm missing, and some things I had to figure out that were probably better explained in the first book.

The worldbuilding is excellent, with enough incluing to fill me in without having to resort to data-dumps. Breq's need to figure out the politics of Athoek likewise provides enough information to keep me from being confused. And it's a mystery crossover, which is almost always guaranteed to hold my interest.

Having been aware of the default-female-pronouns issue, I didn't find that especially confusing either; I'm still not entirely sure which gender a lot of the main characters are, but honestly, it doesn't matter. What is interesting is that my brain follows the pronouns in its visualization, such that the scenes inside my head are the equivalent of a movie with an almost-entirely-female cast. If that's what was happening to the SPs, I'm not surprised they were upset; there's nobody in the story to be their self-insertion character! And the discussion of the Genitalia Festival, and the distinction made between "people with penises" and "people without penises", made me giggle.

I do see what people have been saying about the book feeling incomplete because the rest of the story will be told in the third book. Yes, we found out who was responsible for the translator's death (although calling it a "murder" would be really stretching things), but I wanna know what's out there on the other side of the Ghost Gate, dammit!

#204 ::: Doctor Science ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 09:53 PM:

Lenora Rose:

I was referring to when you said His entries in the Hugo packet are much more focused on actual art (or illustration, if you prefer*),

-- but I think we just got caught in a semantic thingy.

#205 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 10:08 PM:

Lee, #203: "I should note that I have not read Ancillary Justice, which has both an upside and a downside. The upside is that I'm evaluating the second book solely on its own merits, not by comparison to the first one. The downside is that there are surely nuances I'm missing, and some things I had to figure out that were probably better explained in the first book."

I'm sorry you've not read the first one -- simply because I think you would have found the second more enjoyable and the first one is just awesome!

But judging Ancillary Sword as a standalone novel on its own merits is certainly a valid basis for a decision; I'm doing the same thing with Skin Game, and I try to do it with all Hugo novel nominees which are parts of series.

Most of the time, while I may have considered the first novel of a series Hugo-worthy, I don't feel that its successors measure up and do enough to go off in a new direction. For me, The Ghost Brigades was one such, and Ancillary Sword is another.

#206 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 10:15 PM:

Oops, to clarify: Most of the time, while I may have considered the first novel of a series Hugo-worthy, I don't feel that its successors measure up and do enough to go off in a new direction. For me, The Ghost Brigades was one which successfully did something new, and Ancillary Sword is another.

#207 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2015, 11:34 PM:

JJ, #205: I have every intention of going back and picking up Ancillary Justice and then re-reading the second book. Several people whose opinions I trust have suggested that this would be a worthwhile thing to do.

#208 ::: Stareyes ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 12:18 AM:

Lee @ #230

I found myself doing that with Ancillary Sword as well. Unless I knew a character was male from this or the previous book, they were female in my head. Which meant a majority female cast.

#209 ::: Laurence Brothers ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 12:43 AM:

Re Ancillary Justice and Sword.

I had some problems with the first couple of chapters of Justice. It was nothing to do with gender usage. I got only a sort of murky sense of location and character from the early pages. But I persevered and for me these issues were overwhelmed by the book's strengths over the course of the story. I wound up enjoying and appreciating the novel a great deal. In the end I thought Justice very much deserved its 2014 awards.

Sword appears to me to be more polished in its prose, but it's also very obviously a middle book and it just didn't go far enough with its plot to satisfy me as a novel in itself. Few middle books do, of course. Assuming the series ends as a trilogy I'm confident it will be one of the best three-book SF stories in a long time. But though it was a must-buy for me this year, I wouldn't cite Sword by itself as an award winner.

#210 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 12:47 AM:

Lee, #203: "my brain follows the pronouns in its visualization, such that the scenes inside my head are the equivalent of a movie with an almost-entirely-female cast. If that's what was happening to the SPs, I'm not surprised they were upset; there's nobody in the story to be their self-insertion character!"

What's hilarious is that the reader learns very early on in Ancillary Justice that Seivarden is actually male. If the Puppies had actually read the book, they'd have had their "self-insertion character".

But then again, as it's Breq, not Seivarden, who is the big-hearted, intelligent, ass-kicking hero of the piece, it probably would have just made their heads explode more.

#211 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 06:04 AM:

I've got the same feeling as many others about Ancillary Sword. It's not that it's bad in any way - it's just that it's got an "and now, the continuation" feel about it. It doesn't stand on its own feet quite enough to justify a best-novel award in its own right.

Personally, I think the pronouns thing is overblown a bit... the thing being, these books are good, and people want to talk about them, but they don't want to spoil them by going into the plots in too much detail. So they pick on a significant but not plot-critical aspect to talk about. So, some people hear about the pronouns and think the book is some kind of rabid feminist screed, when it really isn't.

(And, since I'm rehashing stuff from my own review here, I will add my thought that David Langford's spoof blurb - "The cosmic adventures of the ultimate soldier on a desperate mission beyond death!" - when you think about it, actually fits Breq's story pretty neatly.)

#212 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 07:07 AM:

Perhaps once I am done Plowing Through Puppies I should read Ancillary Sword and The Goblin Emperor again. I read them when they came out and enjoyed them, but people keep bringing up details I missed.

#213 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 07:42 AM:

JJ @ #205:

I'd be interested in your reaction to Skin Game once you've read it. I read it pretty much as it was released (I had it on pre-order as an ebook and I believe I was reading it the day after it was available in the UK). My firm feeling is that there's enough background that isn't explained that the book would have a hard time standing on its own (which was one of the reasons I didn't nominate it).

#214 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 09:37 AM:

I had the privilege of experiencing a very special Puppy-flavored edition of the terrible bargain the other day when, in a discussion of a friend's friend and their Hugo nomination, the Puppy waggled his eyebrows suggestively and hinted that he could "put out the word to his people" and guarantee a win.

I erred on the side of swallowing shit rather than ruining the evening, and changed the subject. But ew. It is so gross, this idea that a word to the 'right people' can earn a Hugo regardless of one's work and its merit.

#215 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 10:40 AM:

I just read Skin Game and liked it quite a bit, even though I'd only read the first book in the series. There was enough explanation to get by on, though I have no doubt the book would have been more effective if I had more context.

I give Butcher a lot of points for quality of imagination-- for example, the independently moving shadow at the beginning was simply a nice touch. The bit about not being able to soften up the earthly treasure vault because that would damage its connection to the underworld treasure vault was just plain good.

The hazard made of moving blocks of ice could have been "oh god not more D&D" but somehow he made it interesting. That's probably something about the quality of his writing, even though it seemed undistinguished. Butcher must be doing something right.

The humor didn't work all that well for me, but I'm really picky about humor.

This struck me as the most Christian fantasy novel (in a good sense) that I've read in quite a long time-- it didn't just use Christian trappings, it had choice and redemption as major themes. I've been told that other books in the series focus on other religions.

I agree with the people who said it could well have gotten on the ballot without being on slates.

This being said, The Goblin Emperor has the virtue of being something new and excellent rather than doing the usual thing much better than usual. I was definitely ready for an anti-Game of Thrones.

Part of the charm of the book was that after I'd been reading it for a while, relegation (being sent off to the boonies with nothing much worth doing) seemed like a really chilling punishment. Having so little violence in the book meant that when there was a small amount of violence, it was genuinely frightening.

I'm going to make an effort to not finish stories which are really unpromising-- I read "The Triple Sun" and "The Day the World Turned Upside Down" back to back, and came out of it hating sf and fandom for a few days.

#216 ::: Doctor Science ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 04:54 PM:

Meanwhile, today's entertainment/information gathering at File 770 was watching Lou Antonelli destroy what there was of his reputation. Start here with

If the Aaron above is who I think he is, I took exception to when, in a Twitter post, he called me, Brad Torgersen, Larry Corriea and John C. Wright “assholes” out of the blue, and I let him know it.

It was indeed that Aaron, and he revealed that "I let him know it" means "I tracked down, emailed and then phoned his place of work." Antonelli's further explanations and apology-esque actions were jaw-droppingly effective at persuading me I want nothing to do with ever again.

#217 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 06:20 PM:

Doctor Science: It was indeed that Aaron, and he revealed that "I let him know it" means "I tracked down, emailed and then phoned his place of work." Antonelli's further explanations and apology-esque actions were jaw-droppingly effective at persuading me I want nothing to do with ever again.

Not only that, the e-mail contained a threat by Antonelli to come to Aaron's place of work and sort him out and that Antonelli would talk to Aaron's employer in an attempt to get him in trouble or fired, and on the phone Antonelli did attempt to malign him with his employer.

It's absolutely chilling to watch someone respond to having this behavior challenged by saying "It was a predictable response from an angry person" and "It happens" -- with no recognition whatsoever of how incredibly stalkerish and seriously unbalanced this sort of behavior is.

#218 ::: Doctor Science ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 06:32 PM:

JJ:

You're right. And he didn't seem to be aware that his audience was shocked and horrified by his behavior, or even that he might be in a venue where that reaction would be expected.

#219 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 06:41 PM:

Doctor Science @216, JJ @217, if he did, the posts are no longer visible on file770. Do you have screenshots, by any chance? I don't doubt your word, but all that I can find right now is Antonelli being snarky on the post you referenced.

#220 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 06:41 PM:

I'm honestly glad to know that he considers that an appropriate reaction--I'd filed him mentally one way based on a few limited encounters, and now I will go back and slap a whole lot of caution tape over that file. Yeeesh. If somebody considers that acceptable (and apparently unremarkable) behavior, I want to give them a wide berth in future.

(Countdown to claims of a blacklist..5...4...)

#221 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 06:48 PM:

Cassy B., #219 if he did, the posts are no longer visible on file770. Do you have screenshots, by any chance? I don't doubt your word, but all that I can find right now is Antonelli being snarky on the post you referenced.

Comments at File770 are paged (50 per page, I think). Start with LA's first comment, and when you've read the rest of the page, click "Newer Comments". It goes on for several pages.

#222 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 06:54 PM:

Doctor Science, #218: And he didn't seem to be aware that his audience was shocked and horrified by his behavior, or even that he might be in a venue where that reaction would be expected.

UrsulaV, #220: If somebody considers that acceptable (and apparently unremarkable) behavior, I want to give them a wide berth in future.

This is what I find so terrifying -- not just that he thinks what he did is a perfectly understandable and common reaction to what happened, but that he apparently thinks that because the people with whom he hangs out all feel that way, too.

#223 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 06:55 PM:

JJ @221 <head-desk> I should have seen that. Sorry, and thanks.

#224 ::: Aaron ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 08:10 PM:

Hi. Same Aaron here as on File 770. I did leave out one thing over there - despite Antonelli's claim that he was concerned that I was tweeting at work (which, I will point out again, is not actually an issue due to the policies in place at the agency where I work), his very first communication to me contained the threats in question. His concern over Federal employees tweeting while on the job is a convenient fiction that I can only assume he has come up with to make himself feel better about his actions.

#225 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 08:51 PM:

Craig R #145: James Blish wrote two short fantasy novels in which God takes Himself out of visible existence and, in essence, forces the Devil both into visibility and, consequently, to be good (in the sense of having to take responsibility for the running of the universe and keeping things in order). It would be interesting to see how a rigid thinker like Wright ties himself into knots dealing with them.

#226 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 08:52 PM:

Aaron, good to see you here at Making Light. Maybe I'm getting old, but Antonelli's behavior really gave me the cold grues this morning.

When I told my sister about it this evening, she wanted to know if someone from the government would be paying Mr. Antonelli a visit. I told her I didn't think so, but that I wished every threat to a public servant were treated that way.

So, welcome to Making Light! Do you write poetry?

#227 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 09:11 PM:

@ 214 Sarah -- Easily distracted here, sorry, but having read your comment...EWWWW. I'm sorry you had to put up with that!

More generally...jeez, I just don't even know any more. I mean, I have tried really really hard not to do the "When I won MY Hugo thing..." because it seems like a dick move to use that to win arguments.

But, having said that...sigh...here goes...when I was nominated, I felt like it was this enormous gift that my fans had given me. Like, just...I started to worry that I wasn't doing enough to justify all these people who believed in me and my work. When I told people on my blog about what was involved, I explained the voting process, but I also told them that if they had $40 to burn, they should probably donate it to jumping slug habitat,* because it felt really weird to be like "Hey, a bunch of people gave me this AWESOME PRESENT, why don't you guys chip in a bit too?"

The nomination, more than the voting, felt like a gift. I mean, once we got to voting, I sort of felt like it was the quality of my work against the other nominees, and I was the main factor involved, since most voters couldn't possibly know who I was--but getting on the ballot in the first place was because other people were doing an awesomely kind and gracious thing that came out of the blue.

It's been super weird for me to see so many people in the industry dismiss the Hugos as "Well, there was ALWAYS logrolling," because I had no idea. (I still don't know if this is true, but boy, people throw it out casually, including industry pros.) And it's sort of like saying "Look, my fans made me this thing because they are awesome!" and having somebody else go "Oh, yeah, you can buy those at Walmart. Everybody's been doing it."

And this is just crazymaking for me. Because people DID make me a nice thing and I'm still over the moon about it years later and I don't know how to defend those people against claims that they just bought it at Walmart. They were awesome! They don't deserve people being cynical at them for having done it! I want to find somebody--I don't know who--and shake them and yell "Stop being jaded about people loving a thing!"

...I don't know if that makes any sense at all, but hopefully you get the gist. Sigh.

*It's a real slug! It's really cool! It does this weird un-sluglike flail to escape predators! Incidentally, it could still totally use a donation. The Nature Conservancy's taking point on them, as I recall.

#228 ::: MickyFinn ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 09:27 PM:

Lori, at least we have the adorable Gnome Lou to balance out the, ummm, thoroughly un-adorable Real Lou.

#229 ::: ULTRAGOTHA ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 09:49 PM:

Ursula, I completely agree. I think far more works are nominated due to fan squee than cynical manovering.

Digger is a wonderful example of that.

#230 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 09:52 PM:

MickyFinn, #228: at least we have the adorable Gnome Lou to balance out the, ummm, thoroughly un-adorable Real Lou

I found his nonchalant attitude regarding his psycho stalker behavior so horrifying that just looking at his face now makes me feel a bit nauseous.

#231 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 09:53 PM:

At Balticon, someone asked Jo Walton about the Hugos at her GoH speech, and she said that ideally, the Hugos are a gesture of love and respect, and campaigning for the Hugos is like persistently asking your partner whether they love you. It just isn't the same.

#232 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 10:05 PM:

Sarah, #214: With all awareness of horses and barn doors, I can think of a couple of potential approaches which might have worked in that situation. Since it's likely to come up again, is there any interest in my discussing them here?

Aaron, #224: Remind me again what the SPs say about "silencing"...

This is unfortunately bringing up some very bad memories from the old a.c. days. There was a certified loon over there, one J. Otto, who actually did manage to get another participant's e-mail access taken away on such grounds. I will note that the person he silenced was, at the time, fighting for her life with cancer, and died less than a year afterwards. And he took away one of the few things she had left that gave her any hope or pleasure, and then bragged about having done so.

UrsulaV, #227: It has indeed been true in the past that some wildly popular authors have gotten on the ballot because all their fans read the latest book and decided to nominate it. (And yes, IMO you count as a wildly popular author, only a step or two below people like Lois McMaster Bujold.) What is different this year is that it's never before been an organized effort -- just a whole bunch of people nominating their favorite author's work. The SPs' attempt to conflate these two things is the basis of their Big Lie tactic.

#233 ::: Aaron ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 10:15 PM:

So, welcome to Making Light! Do you write poetry?

Only haiku, and for the most part lousy haiku. I write them as parts of my book reviews.

#234 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 10:23 PM:

MickeyFinn @228 -- I can't believe how badly this shook me. I've had people do some weird things when I've mentioned who I worked for in the past, but at least I've never been stalked.

And he actually thinks this is something ordinary people do?

I did get a giggle from the gnome business, which helped defuse things for me.

#235 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 10:30 PM:

Fragano Ledgister # 225

Black Easter and The Day After Judgment?

I don't know if I still have my copies of those, or that they have died the death of acid-based paperback printing.

When I read those I think I was about 16, and they felt odd to me, and only warmed to them quite a while afterwards.

#236 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 10:48 PM:

@232 I am infinitely curious. Please go on.

#237 ::: MickyFinn ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 10:54 PM:

UrsulaV: I think part of the difference is, your fans didn't just give you an awesome present with the Hugo Nom, they also gave people like me an awesome present.

I hadn't come across Digger before it came in my hugo voter packet that year, and it blew me away.

My second favorite thing with the hugos is seeing works I love win, but my favorite thing is when I find something new to love due to it making the hugo ballot, and then see it win.

#238 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2015, 11:57 PM:

Sarah, #236: Well, the first thing that comes to mind is to say something along the lines of, "So you're offering a quid pro quo here. You'll hack the system and guarantee a Hugo in exchange for... what?" Then you keep pounding on that, which either puts him on the defensive trying to explain that no, that's not what he meant at all ("Oh yeah? Nobody makes offers like that out of the goodness of their hearts. What's in it for you? Something right now, or just blackmail material down the line?") or forces him to come flat out and say what he wants in exchange, which puts you and your friend on the high moral ground.

The important thing is not to get sidetracked into the "SPs vs. SJWs" argument. Keep it squarely on the fact that HE solicited a BRIBE from you and your friend to make sure that a Hugo was forthcoming. At that point, if he makes a scene about it, he's the one who has ruined the evening.

You got caught flat-footed this time, because you never expected that anyone would be crass enough to make that sort of offer. Thinking about potential counters makes it easier not to get caught short again, and also invokes the maxim of "that for which one is prepared doesn't occur". :-)

#239 ::: Doctor Science ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 12:26 AM:

I just posted about some problems with the Artist nominations. For those who are interested.

#240 ::: 'As You Know' Bob ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 01:06 AM:

#224 Aaron
Hi. Same Aaron here as on File 770.

Hi, Aaron! We know each other from elsewhere on the Internet - it's nice to see you here.

(I was watching that exchange unfold earlier today, and was wondering if you were the same Aaron; sometimes it's a Small Internet After All.)

Yeah, I had already lost any respect for Antonelli after his little business with his MENSA card; but after seeing his public behavior - and his inability to see that his actions were disproportionate if not insane - he's moved himself right over to my 'Must To Avoid' list.

#241 ::: The Raven ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 01:19 AM:

Doctor Science@216: wow, Antonelli is a stalker. I so did not need to know that. Bad. Very Bad.

Aaron@224: I hope you take this seriously. It is often very difficult to discourage stalkers.

#242 ::: Hob ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 01:22 AM:

Lee @232, it's not that I entirely need to know this, but: was this J. Otto person by any chance a Ph.D. student in history who was convinced that US academia was dominated by literal Stalinists, and that the reason he couldn't get ahead in his field was that he had dared to say that Stalin was bad? I'm thinking of a particular person I already have plenty of reasons not to bother engaging with, but if the same person also did what you described, that would be... another reason.

#243 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 03:22 AM:

Just going though that File770 thread and, man, it's like a slow-motion set-piece of a multi-train trainwreck. With innocent bystanders being squashed, all over. Horrible, yet so captivating it's hard not to continue looking, wondering "can it get any worse?" and, yes, it can.

Aaron, you have my sympathies, no one should have to experience that.

#244 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 04:07 AM:

In the continued annals of Tom Kratman reading his reviews, there's a blogger named Athene née Thanatos who has been fisking Tom's stuff for... years now. Her take on his Gary Stu self-insert 9/11 revenge porn A Desert Called Peace, published by Baen, is a masterful example of the genre in the tradition of Fred Clark's Left Behind fisking, if you can abide the vileness of the source material. Here's Athene's first part and the second.

(Trigger warnings: lovingly described violence against women, violence against children, sexual violence, racially-motivated violence, homophobic violence, violence against people who do not share Kratman's political beliefs, regular old violence. I do not use these lightly.)

Also her review of the Puppy-nominated Big Boys Don't Cry (trigger warnings: roughly the same).

In case you were confused by it, apparently the random aside in Big Boys Don't Cry about the nonbinary tank is a dig at her. Because Tom Kratman is a Big Boy, and you can tell by the respectful way he treats those around him.

Apparently he has been responding to his reviewers in this vein for a while, and pops up in this comment thread from 2010 to say:

Yes, I write with the express intention of pissing off liberals and leftists, and causing them psychic pain where possible.

There's no real... contextualizing that. Like his comment about the Hugos, it sort of just lies there on the page, like a day-old dead rat. I think it's done for any lingering sympathy I might have had around the "cabal of leftists and liberals conspiring to deny us our rightful Hugos" line of argument. File under petard, hoisted oneself upon one's own.

#245 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 04:49 AM:

UrsulaV #227:

Yes, of course it's people loving a thing. I have come to wonder about the people confidently asserting as if it were an established foundational Truth Of The Universe that all awards are really about schmoozing, gladhanding, and logrolling, when it's so clearly and demonstrably often people loving a thing.

I have a dear friend who did a thing and won awards for it, none of which he expected and some of which he hadn't heard of beforehand. He has a rocket-shaped pin now too. He was delighted and humbled by the love shown. But he never once campaigned for prizes.

There is something curdling about that sour, pop-cynical, grudge-bearing resentment that thinks the only way to get people's acclaim is to paste on a shiny smiley mask and pretend not to despise people while you shake hands and show your teeth at them and ask for their vote.

#246 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 05:20 AM:

This is unfortunately bringing up some very bad memories from the old a.c. days. There was a certified loon over there, one J. Otto, who actually did manage to get another participant's e-mail access taken away on such grounds.

Did he go on and on about Ghana, by any chance? Because if so he's still around...

#247 ::: Tamlyn ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 05:22 AM:

I'm up to Chapter 7 of The Dark Between the Stars* and the style really isn't working for me (though it obviously works for plenty of others). I'll keep going and hope the story itself grabs me enough to look past that.

I read the first two Harry Dresden, but I'm not going to get to any more than that, so I hope Skin Game will stand on its own.

I keep thinking I've got plenty of time to finish everything, but I'm going to run out if I'm not careful.

*I don't know how to do italics :(

#248 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 05:42 AM:

Craig R, Fragano Ledgister - hee, Black Easter! Loved that book (and it passes what I'm starting to think of as my Immediate Test - I can see my copy of it from where I'm sitting, without turning my head). I was a bit baffled by the sequel, until I'd read Dante and Milton.

(And, if it had been written this year, this might be one start point for a Hugo bid - no conspiracies, no log-rolling, just a bunch of people saying "oh, yeah, I read that, it was great, wasn't it?")

Tamlyn @247 - just above this here box that we type in, there's a paragraph headed "HTML Tags" which will tell you how to do italics.

I feel sort of jealous of the people who've decided, based on his behaviour, that Lou Antonelli is not worth bothering with. I had to read his blinkin' story to find that out.

#249 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 05:43 AM:

Hi Tamlyn!

You can do italics this way:
<i>text to be italicized</i>

bolded:
<strong>text to be bolded</strong>

quoted:
<blockquote>text to be quoted</blockquote>

#250 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 05:48 AM:

And just to show how it comes out:

You can do italics this way:
text to be italicized

bolded:
text to be bolded

quoted:

text to be quoted

#251 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 05:59 AM:

Steve Wright, #248: I feel sort of jealous of the people who've decided, based on his behaviour, that Lou Antonelli is not worth bothering with. I had to read his blinkin' story to find that out.

Was there any hint of stalkerism in the book? Because, in hindsight, the title "Letters from Gardner" takes on ominous overtones -- and I have to wonder how Mr Dozois feels about it.

#252 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 06:04 AM:

Lee, 232: I remember J. Otto, but not who he targeted--I might have put him in the bitbucket before he did that. (I hope he's not a self-googler like other loons and sealions I could mention.)

#253 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 08:32 AM:

Does anyone have theories about what is meant by "the Hugos are a popularity contest"? I can see that being well-liked personally would give authors an edge, but I don't see any reason to believe it's generally a large advantage.

#254 ::: Aaron ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 08:49 AM:

@The Raven I hope you take this seriously. It is often very difficult to discourage stalkers.

First I want to thank everyone for their concern. The whole experience with Antonelli was slightly surreal, but the support people have given me has more than made up for the inconvenience.

As to dealing with the stalker issue, I have taken prudent steps. My coworkers all know about the incident, and although their reactions have ranged from "that's hilarious" to "that guy is nuts", there is no chance he'd be able to actually get in my office building if he did decide to show up. There's also no chance that any e-mails, letters, or telephone calls from him will be taken seriously. Short of him showing up at my door with a gun, I don't see any real danger from him at this point.

#255 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 08:53 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz @253, I've always assumed that it meant that the award wasn't being awarded by a panel of critics or of experts picked for their expertise; it's awarded because the work had popular appeal. (Not necessarily the author, mind you.) "This is what I love."

But others might think this means something different.

#256 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 09:30 AM:

Nancy Lebovitz @253 the Hugos are a popularity contest

Cassy B @255 said it's awarded because the work had popular appeal

There's a subtle difference in my mind between calling the Hugos a popular award, which means exactly what Cassy said and is descriptive, and calling them a popularity contest, which seems more pejorative and has echoes of high school in-group manipulation and people winning things because of who they know, not what they did.

I had previously thought of it as meaning that a new book by a well-regarded author would have a better chance of being on the ballot than an equally-good (and yes, what makes "equally good" is debatable in multiple ways) book by an little-known author. Which I think is true, though perhaps unfortunate. But the more I think about it, the more there's a whiff of elitism about it - if everybody likes it, it can't possibly be any good.

#257 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 09:33 AM:

JJ @251 - I don't think so, though of course I'm no expert in these things.

But the Antonelli business, to me, looks like he's just compounding an error through a refusal to back down from it.... He's not alone in that. Several of these guys act as if they've got a voice in the backs of their minds saying Never apologize! Never give ground! Let the liberals once see fear in your eyes, and they will have you reading N. K. Jemisin before the day is out! Attack! Attack! Always attack!

#258 ::: JBWoodford ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 09:50 AM:

Let the liberals once see fear in your eyes, and they will have you reading N. K. Jemisin before the day is out!

But Jemisin is awesome, and everyone should at least give her stuff a try.

#259 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 10:07 AM:

@258: I didn't like Jemisin as much as I'd hoped to.

@256: I violently agree with you on the "popularity contest" implications. Also, people who say "It's who you know, not how good you are" are usually people who aren't very good AND don't know anyone. (There are cases where it's true; it would be hard to find any other explanation for Pauly Shore.)

#260 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 10:34 AM:

@238 That is an interesting tactic, but I don't see how it avoids one of the horns of the terrible bargain -- that is, I don't see how it avoids turning an otherwise pleasant conversation into an argument, and ruining everyone's evening.

#261 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 10:42 AM:

I suppose it's hard to separate one's feelings about the writers from one's feelings about the stories, if you know anything about the writers - and, well, for a popular award like the Hugos, writers who make a push to put their stories forward have an advantage, and they can't make that push without showing something of themselves.

But that's a far cry from saying that "oh, the Hugos are just a popularity contest". It's certainly true that people are likely to give your books more leeway if you're personally popular, but you've still got to come up with something worth voting for.

(As I plough through the nominees, I am trying, as much as possible, to put aside my personal feelings about the writers and judge the stories on their own merits. I don't think I'm always succeeding, though. As I've said before, I'm only human, if that.)

(Also, to be honest, I haven't read any N. K. Jemisin - yet. I've got the "Inheritance" trilogy on my to-read stack, though, and at the very least it will likely be different from the Hugo nominees.)

#262 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 11:01 AM:

Ursula @ 227 I appreciate the thought. It is a struggle sometimes between staying civil and staying sane.

Thinking about Digger... I realized that I started reading Digger when I was in college, coughmumble years ago. I mainlined the archives during a week when they weren't behind a paywall (if that gives you any indication of when this all happened). After that, I started buying the collections.

I don't honestly remember if I nominated Digger for a Hugo. I like to think I did; I adore it, and all the rest of your work. :) For me, the Hugo is very much a love letter. Nothing has made me happier, in these scant few years when I've been able to attend Worldcons regularly, than watching people whose work I adore getting awards and thunderous applause.

#263 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 11:13 AM:

In re Jemisin: I haven't been able to get into _The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms_, but I'm going to try _Fifth Season_-- the idea of a a culture in a place with a lot of earthquakes-- and worked-out plate tectonics-- strikes me as exceedingly cool.

#264 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 11:26 AM:

Hob, #242: I can't say for sure, but the one I knew never talked about anything like that. In fact, he didn't talk much about his personal life at all; the impression I had of him was older, retired or disabled, and a very early example of someone who had fallen down the Fox-hole. His two most salient characteristics were (1) flaming misogyny and (2) the tendency to accuse anyone he disliked of being a member of a terrorist cell.

Peace, #245: I always wonder, about people like that, if it's not projection -- that they can't imagine voting for something, not for any kind of strategic advantage, but simply because you love it, and therefore assume that no one else does either.

ajay, #246: I don't recall; I tried not to let him rent space in my head.

TexAnne, #252: It was maenad. And, as previously noted, he took overt and vicious delight in having cut her off from her primary support community.

Unlike a.c., this is not an unmoderated forum. If he shows up here, I will have no hesitation in requesting that P&T use the banhammer. He has nothing of value to contribute.

Aaron, #254: Short of him showing up at my door with a gun

That sense of disproportionate entitlement has led other men to pick up guns. Elliot Rodger is only the most prominent current example.

Sarah, #260: That's a valid point; I was thinking more about how not to be the one blamed for ruining everyone's evening.

Another possible approach is something that can be done after the fact, which is to talk to the other people who were present and make sure that they are aware of exactly what this creep was offering to do. This is more of a long-term thing, with the goal of causing the creep to be less welcome in the future. Of course, if he's welcome because the rest of the group (or a significant part of it) has SP leanings themselves, that won't work.

#265 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 12:05 PM:

Lee @264 (in re Hob @242): A different J. Otto! I'm sorta relieved. The one I'm familiar with is sometimes annoying but not wholly without charm.

Lee @264, Sarah @260: There's the adaptation of a rhetorical tactic occasionally used with the kids, "I know you didn't just suggest that you could fiddle the Hugo voting. You didn't do that, did you?"

#266 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 12:11 PM:

"I know you didn't just suggest that you could fiddle the Hugo voting. You didn't do that, did you?"

Or you can do the Appalled Ignorance thing: "Oh, wow, you need to come up with a better way to phrase that because it sounded like you just said you could and would rig the Hugo voting!" And stick to an attitude that of course no one would want to do such a thing so what did they really mean? Eventually they either change the subject or say it in so many words, at which point "That's appalling" is a wholly warranted response.

#267 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 01:05 PM:

People already think I'm playing dumb as some sort of rhetorical device when I'm legitimately asking for information. I'd hate to encourage them.

But the original problem, I think, may have gotten lost. The goal was to avoid causing an argument.

@ 264 Why would they believe my interpretation of events over his?

#268 ::: Jenora Feuer ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 03:44 PM:
Disbelief fell to the ground with an audible *splat*.
I always liked the line 'Disbelief should be suspended, not hung by the neck until dead'.
#269 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 04:19 PM:

If Dude says an appalling thing, then Dude is going to get appalled reactions. If he wants to argue with the appalled reactions, then Dude started the argument. I'm not there to protect him from the consequences of his willingness to say appalling things; and if the evening is ruined, he ruined it by being appalling.

Over on the Captain Awkward blog, they refer to this as "embrace the awkward" and "it's his awkward--make him own it." Appalling Dude is relying on everyone else in the conversation to go along with his fiction. I don't consider myself obligated to do so.

Granted, the above approach comes with certain social drawbacks, not all of which can be soaked in every given circumstance. I am relatively fortunate in not often being in a position where my willingness to act in ways coded "rude" has further consequences than "they think I'm rude."

But because of that, I've been able to cultivate a sort of deliberate sense of resentment that I can use: "They'll think I'm rude if I do anything more assertive than smile and nod. Jerks. I'll show them rude." And then I say the things I'd have later wished I'd said: "Wow, what a creepy thing you just said to me. Don't do it again," for instance.*

Again, not for everyone in every circumstance. But deciding for myself that "I'm not the one ruining the evening. He's the one who said something awful; I'm just refusing to play along and pretend it's acceptable" has been a useful thing for my personal interactions.

*[Context: Big guy in community seating situation, when I asked him to make room, says, "Aw, you don't have to be scared to sit closer to me..." Ew. Ew ew ew. Interestingly, two members of the dining car staff interacted with me over it, a woman and a man. The woman said, "Oh, honey, you should have told me. I'd have seated you elsewhere." The man said, "I don't see what's wrong. He was just trying to put you at your ease." Number of people surprised: Zero.]

#270 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 06:42 PM:

Nicole @ 269

I love Captain Awkward.

That said, it takes time to learn to embrace the awkward, and the practice is not for everyone. I keep promising myself I'll try it when the time is right...

#271 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 10:40 PM:

I don't see how N.K. Jemisin is a "liberal" author behated of the Puppies.

I have read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and it seemed to be bog standard fantasy. Well written, some cool ideas, but, well, not in any way overtly political or even seemingly left-leaning.

Is there something I am missing?

#272 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 10:48 PM:

Peace, my interpretation of the problem the Puppies have with Jemisin has something to with the Puppy tendency to judge an author by the color of their skin rather than the content of their stories.

Note, just MY impression...it may well not be true.

#273 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 10:59 PM:

@ 271 Peace - I suspect that her interactions with Beale are perhaps tainting some of the reaction. Please try to contain your shock.

#274 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 11:09 PM:

UrsulaV #273:

O.o

I am an idiot.

I somehow did not connect "N.K. Jemisin, reasonably good fantasy author" with "N.K. Jemisin who Beale called a half-savage because of the color of her skin."

...

So, what, are Beale's dribbling insults hurled at her for being black the ONLY reason she has become anathema to the Puppies?

#275 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 28, 2015, 11:49 PM:

Peace Is My Middle Name, #274: So, what, are Beale's dribbling insults hurled at her for being black the ONLY reason she has become anathema to the Puppies?

I'm sure that that is a huge part of it.

But also, as her stories involve neither rocketships, robots, buxom helpless women, nor Manly Men Saving The World™, I am sure that has something to do with the Puppies' dislike of her books as well.

#276 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 12:28 AM:

@ Peace - At this point in the game, I think not being able to hold all the weirdness in one's head simultaneously is probably a mercy. Sort of like Lovecraft's thing about the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents, except that instead of sanity-shattering terror, it's a glum resignation to the fact that some people are just awful.

#277 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 01:05 AM:

Bob 154: I don't think I know Sarah Monette either, though I must say she looks familiar.

Lyle 162: Ancient Egypt (and its famous "Coptic jars")

Well, that's one for the Dreadful Phrases thread.

Peace 271: Is there something I am missing?

Yes. THTK has dark-skinned characters who are regarded as inferior by the white-skinned characters. This means, to the Sad Puppies, that it's nothing but a thinly-veiled polemic about racism.

If that seems implausible as a real-world belief, recall that the SPs also think Correia, Torgersen, and Wright have been producing work at the Hugo level. They are not known for tracking reality well.

And of course, to the Rabid Puppies, N.K. Jemison's work cannot possibly be of value, because she's a black woman, and they believe nothing a black woman can possibly produce can be of value.

#278 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 01:52 AM:

Sarah :::# 262

"...Ursula @ 227 I appreciate the thought. It is a struggle sometimes between staying civil and staying sane..."

Advice I'm taking myself: Kratman showed back up in an old FILE770 thread, and is reading more and more like a looney.

And a few people are baiting him,as a way of egging him own.

It's cruel, and I'm going to leave the rest of that thread alone, unread, so that I'm neither tempted to join in nor to read and revel in cruelty being done.

He persists in violating both the Rule Of Answering Reviews and the Rule Of Holes.

#279 ::: Tamlyn ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 05:14 AM:

Thank you, Steve Wright and JJ for italics!

#280 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 06:20 AM:

Glad we could help, Tamlyn!

On the subject of Coptic versus canopic jars... this calls to mind a persistent gripe I'm having with the Pup Fiction: this is the sort of error you'd expect a decent sub to catch, and it is not alone. The Puppy stuff is not absolutely jam-packed with errors, but they are there, and in numbers enough for me to notice. (And I'm not reading them with an excessive eye to detail... more sort of skimming through, when not whimpering and praying for death.)

Things that stood out for me in Riding the Red Horse were the "goblets of frozen blood" in the Christopher Nuttall story, or the punctuation errors around inverted commas in the Rolf Nelson one. (The inconsistency of tenses in the Nelson story might be deliberate, though it doesn't always look that way.)

Now, OK, there are different sorts of editors, and VD's role is that of acquiring or commissioning editor here, primarily... but it seems to me that he should at least be making sure the copy-editing gets done, shouldn't he?

Of course, I could be wrong. Indeed, since VD has been nominated for a Hugo Award for his editing work, clearly he is a brilliant editor and I must be wrong... right?

#281 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 07:28 AM:

Steve Wright @280, re: editing errors -- I bounced HARD off a waning moon on the western horizon at sunset, in "The Parliament..." I mean, I stopped dead, blinked, said "waning...?" out loud. The setting is unequivocally Earth. There's no second sun or peculiar orbital mechanics going on. It's just bad writing, and an editor who apparently has never looked at the night sky. (I bounced off other stuff in that story, too, but that's neither here nor there.)

#282 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 08:25 AM:

Cassy B: I hit that and had a blinking-what moment as well. Don't remember if I spoke aloud. I mean, it's not as if you have to be even an amateur astronomer to notice this stuff.

For some reason it made me think of the meticulous tracking of dates and moon-phase in The Lord of the Rings. "Up pops a new moon, thin as a nail-paring." Another author whose Catholicism deeply informed his work...but a much better one.

#283 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 08:49 AM:

Things that stood out for me in Riding the Red Horse were the "goblets of frozen blood"

It's a kind of a slushie?

#284 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 10:20 AM:

281
That has me sitting here going through my basic-astronomy phases-of-the-moon: full rises at sunset, new sets at sunset; first quarter rises at noon, last quarter sets at noon.

#285 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 10:38 AM:

ajay, I am just going to say "yes" and leave it there.

Carrie S, Cassy B., I'm sorry, but you are quite clearly wrong... I'm currently reading Wright's essays in Transhuman and Subhuman, and if there is one thing that is coming across loud and clear, it is that John C. Wright is always right about everything, forever and ever amen, no question about it. If you haven't seen the moon waning in the western sky at sunset, that is clearly because you are the brain-dead zombie product of a public school education. Sorry, but there it is. John C. Wright would know, he is all Aristotelian and everything.

(Once again, despite the name, John C. and I are not related. I just feel moved to point that out.)

#286 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 10:48 AM:

I haven't read the "The Parliament of the Beasts and Birds" yet, but is there any chance the title is a reference to Chaucer and/or the Muslim story?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Conference_of_the_Birds

#287 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 10:50 AM:

Steve Wright @285 <snork> I stand corrected, then.

#288 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 10:54 AM:

Peace, #274: Since Jemisin is both female and non-white, obviously the only reason her stories would ever even be considered for an award is political correctness. Note carefully the inherent racism in that statement, and the fact that it (and other things in a similar vein) is one of the primary beliefs underpinning the whole SP movement.

#289 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 10:55 AM:

You all might be interested in Jemisin's Guest of Honor speech that she gave at Wiscon. I was actually in the room for that one, and it was amazing.

#290 ::: Danny Sichel ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 12:25 PM:

Xopher @ 277, doesn't THTK have light-skinned characters who are regarded as inferior by the dark-skinned characters?

Or am I totally misremembering?

#291 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 12:31 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @286: I've read the Wright story. I haven't read the Muslim story but have just read the Wikipedia page you linked to. I don't see any obvious connection.

#292 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 03:31 PM:

Danny @290:

THTK had a main character who came from a land up north where everyone was short, buxom, brown-skinned and straight-haired (although she inherited curls and skinniness from her foreign mother).

She came to the main palace of the hated dictators over everyone else, who were tall, skinny, super pale, green-eyed, and curly-haired ("elves" I thought of them)

The thing is, the story suggested that different sorts of people of different colors and sizes and types were all over the place. One important character was mentioned as having freckles, which fascinated the brown MC. The gods, who were in many ways echoes of or causing echoes in the humans, came in various sizes and colorations.

The only really "caucasian" characteristic of the antagonists was that they had alabaster-pale skin, and even that seems beyond caucasian normal, and green eyes, which the MC shared. Their great height and skinniness and afro-like hair didn't seem to me especially caucasian.

Likewise, the MC's matrilineal culture of short, brown, buxom women barbarians with straight hair did not suggest Africans to me.

Maybe they were meant to. I don't know. But what I got from them was "fantasy human races with traits," not analogies to real-world categories.

#293 ::: Danny Sichel ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 04:08 PM:

@292 - I distinctly remember a story -- which I'd thought was THTK -- in which there was a character who was considered ethnically inferior because she was brown, and (to the surprise of a commentator online) it turned out that the ruling elite was black. That society considered brown skin a sign of untermenschen because they were less black.

Anyone know which story I mean?

#294 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 05:25 PM:

I have finished reading John C. Wright's Transhuman and Subhuman: Essays on Science Fiction and Awful Truth.

It is safe to say that I do not recommend it.

Also, I need a very large drink.

#295 ::: Incoherent ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 05:26 PM:

I think you might be thinking of NKJ's Dreamblood duology (The Killing Moon and The Shadowed Sun) instead-- that involves conflict between two Ancient Egyptian/Classical North African-flavored civilizations. At one point an army of savage white-skinned cannon fodder becomes a plot point (I think in the first book).

One cool thing about the setting (not a spoiler) is that it's definitely not Earth -- some background details indicate that the "planet" is actually an Earth-size moon of a Jupiter-type gas giant. However, it's definitely fantasy, not science fiction.

#296 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 06:18 PM:

Steve Wright -

What did you think of his description of his bookcase, with pristine copies of books that had apparently never been touched since his teen years, and that he didn't read any new stuff

#297 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 06:26 PM:

Transhuman and Subhuman starts on a sour note for me in the dedication, in which G.K. Chesterton (the real one) is snarky about Whistler. That will take some forgiving.

I needs mist channel my inner Vetinari to read this, methinks.

#298 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 06:31 PM:

Craig R - to be fair, a lot of the books on my shelves have been in the same place for a while... um, except when I take them down and read them... I guess they're not exactly pristine, come to think of it.

(My copy of the Foundation trilogy is holding up pretty well, for three cheap paperbacks bought in 1972.)

#299 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 07:42 PM:

John C. Wright's work is giving me a vibe like one of the odder art history books I ever found.

Many years ago I found tucked among the little art monographs of a secondhand store a peculiar little book, Modern Art and the Death of a Culture by H.R. Rookmaaker, printed in 1970.

Dr. Rookmaaker seemed to have an odd view of art history overladen with some very strange school of conservative Christianity.

I had never seen art history presented from a conservative religious perspective before. The presumptions were illuminating and odd (Neither Descartes nor Marlowe were truly Christian, he huffed). Some of his vision seemed clear. His lament on how modern Christian art got lost in a ghetto of fourth-rate saccharine sentimental realism seemed fairly accurate.

However, his opinions on how and why modern (around 1970) art was corrupt and degenerate, the sign of a corrupt and degenerate culture which would soon collapse before Christian righteousness, were solidly anchored into transitory and ephemeral fleeting fashions of the time, hippies and permissiveness and Pop Art and a sense of approaching possibly nuclear apocalypse. I am pretty sure he was using contemporary culture to sound timely, but the result was that barely five or six years later the book came across as a quaint period piece, like a revival of "Godspell."

Something about John C. Wright's nonfiction essays reminds me of this firm, solid, pious, certain voice of conviction, laying out how Sodom will inevitably collapse and fall under the weight of hippies and love-ins and go-go boots and men with long hair and sideburns.

#300 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 08:40 PM:

To be completely fair, I'm not sure Dr. Rookmaaker ever mentioned go-go boots and facial hair. It was just the mood of what he was saying, and I didn't feel like dredging up the fashionable art world buzzwords and arguments of 45 years ago which he did use because they depressed me so much at the time that I almost didn't become an artist.

#301 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 10:35 PM:

Cat @270 - Indeed, it's not for everyone. I hope I didn't obscure that point in my post!

Captain Awkward is a great blog, isn't it? Reading it has helped me in so many ways. The blogger excels at coming up with "scripts" for handling various species of Appalling Dude, many of them with an eye toward minimizing the (admittedly unfair) social consequences. Might be exactly the kind of reading Sarah is looking for.


@281, @284: To be "fair" to Wright, the fantasy genre is fairly littered with faulty ideas about moon phases and rise/set times. Books I enjoy and authors I respect do not appear immune. An amazing amount of otherwise skilled writers seem to have the very simplistic impression that ...

sun : day :: moon : night

... and I just want to hand them a basketball and a tennis ball and a goose-neck lamp and say, "Figure it out."

For instance - The Goblin Emperor. Apparently holding a funeral after sunset is forgivable so long as the moon hasn't risen yet. I read that, and thought, "which means you're kind of out of luck for about half the month, right?"

The Karavans series by Jennifer Roberson is another offender - I don't remember the specifics, because it's been a while since my last reread, but I think what made me facepalm was reference to the crescent moon being high overhead at midnight.

It's just such a common class of mistake that I'd be tempted to ignore it in Wright, preferring to hold his literary feet to the fire over transgressions that are more serious and more uniquely his. Of which, fortunately, there are many.

#302 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 10:49 PM:

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little @301 - For instance - The Goblin Emperor. Apparently holding a funeral after sunset is forgivable so long as the moon hasn't risen yet. I read that, and thought, "which means you're kind of out of luck for about half the month, right?"

Actually I read that the opposite way. For about half the month, you're IN luck. The other half, you've just got to manage before sundown. In other words, the rules get relaxed half the time.

Cassy

#303 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2015, 10:49 PM:

301
I got the impression that they tried really hard to have funerals before sunset, and sometimes it isn't possible. (I'll forgive a certain amount of wrong-phase-of-moon, but not all of it. Of course, if they can get away with two moons....)

#304 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 12:22 AM:

P J Evans, #303: I got the impression that they tried really hard to have funerals before sunset, and sometimes it isn't possible.

That was actually the way I read it. "Well, technically, it's night, because it's after sunset, but if the moon's not up yet, we can pretend it's not night yet, and it's still acceptable to hold the funeral."

#305 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 12:37 AM:

304
It felt like a real world, in a lot of ways. People with lives, and jobs, and stuff going on out of sight.

#306 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 12:55 AM:

P J Evans, #305: Oh, yes! I desperately want to write both the story of the washer-woman's cat ("Yarn around every stick of furniture in the house?") and the ballad of the madwoman whose ghost walks the streets screaming alternately for her husband and her lover. The latter is going to be easier, because I can probably adapt at least the tune from an existing ballad.

#307 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 02:26 AM:

Danny 290: Uh...I'm as likely to have misremembered that as you. But in any case NKJ was drawing a fairly clear parallel to Earth/American racism, whether she flipped the oppressors and oppressed or not.

Peace 292: Thank you. I knew it was more complex, but couldn't remember the details.

Nicole 301: To be "fair" to Wright, the fantasy genre is fairly littered with faulty ideas about moon phases and rise/set times. Books I enjoy and authors I respect do not appear immune.

My favorite example is Ladyhawke, in which there is a total eclipse of the Sun the day after a full Moon. Not that Ladyhawke is otherwise a paragon of realistic physics...or anything else.

#308 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 05:04 AM:

Peace Is My Middle Name @299 - Wright certainly has some harsh things to say about modern art; I think it's all of a piece with his overall views - conservative in both the large and small "c" senses, so Modern=Bad.

I was always slightly shocked when he mentioned an SF writer who was still alive. (Also, slightly annoyed when he mentioned one dead one. If he approves of Olaf Stapledon's Star Maker, it would be nice of him to get the title right; it's two words, not one.)

#309 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 07:16 AM:

Steve Wright @308:

And these days it's so easy to check. I can forgive errors in online conversations and chat done quickly, but something with more time, like a book or even a blog post, really ought to be double-checked for accuracy.

Here's something odd. Last night in prodding around online for info on that bizarro art book I stumbled across so long ago, I ran into evidence that it might be a -- or rather *the* -- standard art history text at quite a number of conservative evangelical Christian colleges, even to this day and despite the anti-hippie raving.

The thought that the only thing young evangelicals might be taught about art would come from that parallel-universe book with the heavily slanted and tinted view of history saddens me unaccountably.

#310 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 08:51 AM:

Peace, it does rather demonstrate how inefficient the evangelicals are... the Jesuits only need a child up to the age of seven, you wouldn't catch them fiddling about with college-age textbooks.

I just finished with Wisdom from My Internet, and feel inclined to praise the Hugo administrators over this one. It would have been very easy to make a case for disqualifying this as not being "Related" enough for a Related Work - but, the administrators have evidently given it the benefit of whatever doubt exists, and deserve kudos for their fair-mindedness. And, since they evidently aren't going to get any from the Puppies, they can have it from me instead.

#311 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 10:10 AM:

Just reread A Parliament of the Birds and the Beasts (came across it again in the booklet of Wright's works released before the packet).

It is actually worse on second reading. Also I thought the only mention of women (besides the cat) was temple whores, but 1) it's just ordinary whores and 2) dancing girls also feature somewhere in the catalog there.

Even the Bee--the Bee with His Honey--is male.

#312 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 10:12 AM:

For anyone who might be interested, I'm moderating a discussion of of The Dark Between The Stars on the SF Forum on Compuserve. Here's a link to the discussion schedule. (You'll need to make a Compuserve or AOL log-in if you don't happen to have one lying around.) We'll be talking about the book in 90 page chunks twice-weekly over the course of June, starting next Tuesday; in July we'll switch over to a similar discussion of The Three Body Problem. (We've already done The Goblin Emperor.) The idea is to talk about some Hugo nominated novels before the voting....

Traffic on Compuserve is rather slow these days. I'd really love to see a few Fluorospherians join in.

For clarity, this is not a live chat, it's a message board like Making Light.

(abi told me, for the Goblin Emperor Compuserve discussion, that it was OK to place a one-time notice about book discussions on "Making Light". I now return you to your regularly-scheduled thread....)

#313 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 10:13 AM:

Cat @311:

You forgot the Unicorn, so pure and uncorrupt that she got to stay in Eden in the first place.

And of course Wolf Bitch.

No, no virgin-whore dichotomy there AT ALL.

#314 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 10:29 AM:

Cat @311, Peace Is My Middle Name @313, Well, the dancing girls were sold to the highest bidder, so I guess they were (slave) virgins before they were (slave) whores. <wry>

I note that without exception every human in that city is described in condemnatory language; Wright apparently doesn't believe in innocent victims. If a City is Evil, then Everyone In The City Is Evil.

Must be restful, I suppose, to see everything only in black and white....

(And good catch on the drone Bee, Cat. Missed that in my general being-appalledness.)

#315 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 10:43 AM:

The thought has come to me that I am terribly sad for *anyone* whose entire art history education is based on a single 1970 text.

1970 was something of a nadir for art theory and scholarship.

Years later I went back, wondering if it had just been me, but no, compared to later art scholarship and theory, works of roughly 1970-1975 still gave me the same headaches and weary sense of depression and hopelessness they had at the time.

It just seems to have been the zeitgeist.

#316 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 10:52 AM:

Cat @311, Cassy B @314,

I have the odd thought that Wright may have read and stuck with something similar to my childhood literature, either actual medieval bestiaries or some of those romantic pseudomedievalish throwbacks popular between the 1950s and the 1970s, the sorts of thing that were a part of the early music revival and the folk music explosion and the birth of Renaissance festivals, imitation manuscript illustrations full of sparkly brown ink over where gold should have been.

At any rate, Wright seems to put a high stock in his adherence to some sort of tradition or other, although an awful lot of his tradition seems to be based on Victorian and later romanticized pseudohistories originally invented to soothe unease at the social shift to consumerism and mass production, to justify colonial oppression, and to erase all who are not white men from meaningful history.

#317 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 12:01 PM:

315
Having had art history slightly earlier than that, we at least used Janson in my class. The art philosophy was more opaque. (Mondrian on plastic art and pure plastic art - don't drop that on your general-ed art history class, please. That's for people who are much deeper into it.)

#318 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 01:02 PM:

P J Evans @317:

Janson is good. My college used Gardner. I still have my Gardner text as a useful reference, as well as an old 1936 edition, astonishing for the time for how much attention it gives to nonWestern Native American, African, and Asian art.

#319 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 01:15 PM:

118
I had another one than Janson, but I don't remember who by. It's been too many years, and I don't think I have it any more. (If I do, it's in a box in storage - and I need to go through those boxes.)

#320 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 02:09 PM:

Xopher @ 307 - Speaking of Ladyhawke, the bird bothers me. I'm pretty sure they used a red tailed hawk. Red tails are widely used in modern falconry; they're common, hardy, versatile hunters and apparently have easygoing temperaments, for raptors. They're also New World birds, not to be found in medieval(oid) France(ish place).

Also, red tails are formally Buteo jamaicensis. It's my understanding that in British English, buteos are called buzzards. Ladybuzzard?!?

#321 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 03:43 PM:

@320 Anne Sheller - There's a few non-Buteo buzzards, I think, but otherwise you are correct. The standard European Buteo is the common buzzard.

And in fact, there IS a bird colloquially called a "lady hawk" by falconers which is the merlin (substantially smaller than a red-tail) but they're a wee little fierce thing, and probably harder to come by.

One of the greatest pieces of movie trivia ever is that one of the birds used in the movie apparently fell madly in love with Rutger Hauer and had to be removed from filming because she would fluff up and chirp at him and it looked so undignified they had to get more disdainful birds in instead.

#322 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 06:44 PM:

UrsulaV@321

Let me get this straight--the hawk playing the hawk form of his lover *fell in love with him* and since most human watchers wouldn't recognize the hawk display of love, had to be replaced with a hawk who didn't love him?

That is indeed a great piece of movie trivia. I wish there were some shots of her doing it.

@Peace @313, Cassy B@@314
If the dancing girls and whores were slaves, that would make them the most blameless people in the city, really. (Well, one assumes there must have been some babies and children also.)

And good call, Peace; you are right, I forgot about the Unicorn. Not that I find myself particularly mollified by the memory, but still.

And it's true that that story condemns everyone who was in the city--I just don't care for that sort of "everyone is evil" story; dystopias are not my thing.

#323 ::: Kelly Jennings ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 06:51 PM:

Peace @ #309: "...even to this day and despite the anti-hippie raving."

The anti-hippie content is likely a feature and not a big, as far as Evangelicals are concerned. As far as I can tell, from my position teaching the home-schooled version here in NW Arkansas, they believe quite sincerely that hippies still exist. (I got called one in my first set of teaching evals here, for instance.)

#324 ::: Kelly Jennings ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 06:52 PM:

Argh. Not a *bug.

#325 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 06:53 PM:

RE: Buzzards and buzzards: It's one of those ideas that got mangled when white folks came to the Americas and saw the animals that we have over here (cf moose). Vultures looked kinda like the big soaring birds of prey that the Europeans had back home, so they called them buzzards.

By the time an expert got a close look at a turkey vulture and realized their mistake, it was too late. "Buzzard" meant "vulture" in the Americas, while in Europe they still used it to describe those big soaring birds -- you know. Hawks.

AND THEN it turns out that New World vultures aren't even related to Old World vultures! So in one sense, they aren't even vultures at all, and English completely lacks a proper word for them.

Isn't language awesome? :D

(The situation with moose is even more embarrassing; I know of at least one Brit scientist who insists on calling elk "wapiti", but I don't know how common that is.)

#326 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 07:52 PM:

Kelly, #323: My partner has a very well-reasoned hypothesis (a bit too long to explain quickly) that much of today's right-wing philosophy is still a reaction against the 70s. So yes, that they continue to rail against hippies does not surprise me at all.

#327 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 08:33 PM:

326
A lot of the stuff they rail against is from the 60s - look at how they keep citing Alinsky as if he were still (a) alive and (b) current political thinking for everyone left of Attila the Hun. I suspect they'd cheerfully go back to the 60s for school dress codes and entertainment - but they wouldn't want to give up their cell phones, their microwaves, their computers, and their flatscreen TVs with DVDs.

#328 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 09:14 PM:

I call elk "wapiti" because moose are elk.

As a youngster I was beyond delighted to spot moose (elk) on ancient Roman coins, part of a commemoration of the 1000th anniversary of the founding of Rome (so, ummmm, about CE 247).

The collector who showed me them scoffed at earlier scholars calling them "goats," as they had, as he pointed out, multi-pronged antlers, and besides, were part of a commemorative coin set about the most *exotic* animals of the far-flung empire.

#329 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 10:56 PM:

@328 But is it WApiti or waPITi?

#330 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 11:26 PM:

@329:

You know, I'm not sure where I got the pronunciation, but I say "wapiti" with almost equal stress on each syllable, "i"s like long "e"s.

The other two sound like they'd be "whuppedy" or something.

#331 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2015, 11:39 PM:

I've heard elk called wapiti and recognize what's meant by it, but it's not my default, I confess. I'd be willing to relearn that one, though, if it was a more common usage. I switched from cougar to puma and coy-OAT to coy-oat-EEEEE, I could stamp wapiti in too if I had to.

They used to raid the garden when I lived in Oregon. You nearly step on a Roosevelt elk, that'll sure wake you up in the morning!

It would be very hard to switch moose to elk, though, because "elk" is already in use in my head.

#332 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2015, 12:38 AM:

@331 Why switch? (They're mountain lions to me, but I find I drift from "ky-oat" to "ky-oat-ee" without warning.)

#333 ::: Anne Sheller ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2015, 01:15 AM:

UrsulaV - I spent a lot of time looking at pictures of merlins a few years ago. I now have a hand-painted kite (as in toy, not bird) that's a life-sized female merlin replica.

Quite a few years ago, I bought a cheap commercially available kite in the form of a peregrine falcon. It was flimsy and oversized - they used the same plastic die cut for a bald eagle and an osprey. The osprey was about right, so the peregrine was too large for its kind and the eagle much too small. The art wasn't too bad, though, and it had some wing action in flight. I took it to SCA events, sometimes carried it on my fist as though it were a real bird, and had a lot of fun with it.

It was a cheap plastic kite, though, and after a few years was battered and fading. I started looking for a replacement, and found that these kites were no longer being made. No one on line was offering them either. I did search a bit more, and found another company which offered a much more reasonably life sized peregrine in Tyvek. They also had what they called a Create-A-Bird kite - blank white Tyvek, 27" wingspan.

So, now I have a peregrine with commercial artwork, and a merlin which I painted. And a worn out peregrine awaiting species change surgery; I have the Tyvek and paint, and she'll be reborn as a gyrfalcon. When I get a round tuit.

#334 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2015, 05:25 AM:

I used to pronounce "wapiti" like Peace, but then I ran into the Ogden Nash couplet:-

There goes the wapiti,
Hippety-hoppety!

#335 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2015, 09:09 AM:

Re: elks and moose -- A friend was telling me yesterday about a very disappointing (traveling) museum show on the Vikings. "It was full of errors!" she said. "They showed a moose and called it an elk!" I hesitantly offered that I thought there was a very large elk in Medieval Europe that was rather mooselike, but that didn't mollify her.

So -- WAS there an Old-World animal the Vikings would have encountered that would look to American teenager eyes like a moose?

#336 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2015, 10:59 AM:

Even today there are moosen in Sweden, but they call them älgen.

#337 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2015, 12:35 PM:

Cassy B @335:

"Was" heck, there IS!

http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/wild-elks-return-to-germany-a-853581.html

#338 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2015, 01:12 PM:

Niall @336: My sister was once bit by a møøse, you know.

#339 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2015, 01:42 PM:

Cassy B. @335: Moose/elk. It's a trans-Atlantic confusion.

Cervus elaphus: in North America, this is called an elk. Except when it's called a wapiti*^. In Europe, it's a red deer.

Alces alces: In North America, this is a moose. In Europe, it's an elk.

Rangifer tarandus: In North America, this is a caribou. In Europe, it's a reindeer.

*For further confusion, the taxonomists have not finished deciding whether wapiti are Cervus elaphus canadensis or are Cervus canadensis.
^I pronounce "wapiti" with a stress on the first syllable (more wop than wap) and the two "i"s are definitely short, as indicated in the couplet @334

#340 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2015, 01:49 PM:

Moose v Elk in Sweden

This image is of a European elk. This is from an "adventure trip" website that specializes in back-country tours of Sweden, Norway and Finland.

This (slightly NSFW)image* is from a photo shoot in northern Sweden. The website is one that showcases how pro photographers use lighting tools/equipment.

So, yeah, you could easily see why these elk would look familiar to someone in Maine, and the moose would look familiar to a viking who took a wrong tack at Greenland....
=======
The image is one of a series fine-art photographs of women in forest scenes in close quarters to wild animals. These are minimally photo-shopped. A partial look at the series is here. (again, NSFW 'cause of bare titties). Looking through the blog posts at the photographer's site reveals "behind the scenes" videos on how some of these were made.

Obsff: I would not be surprised to see images like these on hardcover book-covers for fantasy or paranormal-romance novels.

#341 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2015, 02:50 PM:

dcb (339): In Alaska, 'caribou' is reserved for wild Rangifer tarandus. The semi-domesticated ones being raised for meat are 'reindeer'.

#342 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2015, 03:33 PM:

Mary Aileen @341: Thanks for that info.

#343 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2015, 03:46 PM:

Well, I guess that serves me right.

You know, I can remember wincing when the earnest actors on the BBC playing young newlyweds fom Waukesha, Wisconsin pronounced it "WAWW-KEEEEEE-SHAHH," when anyone from Wisconsin or nearby knew perfectly well it was "WALK-shah."

"Wuppidy" it is, I guess.

#344 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2015, 04:24 PM:

343
There are a lot of names like that.
(It's the 'Kaw River', not the 'Kansas River' - but the other river is 'ArKANsas'. Things I Learned From My Mother.)

#345 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2015, 04:26 PM:

344: Natchitoches, Louisiana

#346 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2015, 04:36 PM:

Doug, 345: Which is not to be confused with "Nacogdoches" (actually pronounced "nack-a-nowhere.")

Buda, Burnet, Refugio...

#347 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2015, 04:45 PM:

Doug wrote @ #338

My sister was once bit by a møøse, you know.

Not by this moose, I can assure you (and the rest of the herd are denying it utterly).

Alces alces chocolatus (as categorised by dcb who is expert in such matters) does not bite people even under severe provocation. (Though you are advised to exercise extreme caution in encounters with some of our neighbours, particularly the Beast of Caerbannog (Rtd.) who can be a bit fractious on occasion (especially when the day of the week contains the letter 'y').

<Ahem.>

Anyway, this moose now has a dilemma (dragging things back on topic) in that a trip to London yesterday caused The Goblin Emperor to be read and thoroughly enjoyed. I now have to decide between that and Ancillary Sword for top spot (pending a read of The Three-Body Problem which is next up on the hardcover queue).

#348 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2015, 05:15 PM:

Honourable Cadbury,

I thought that Ancillary Sword was doing more to explore the boundaries and possibilities of the genre than Goblin Emperor, and that's why I would prefer it for the top spot. (Pending The Three-Body Problem's ascent to the front of the to-be-read queue, of course.)

Gnomes permitting, I reviewed the first here, and the second here.

#349 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2015, 06:27 PM:

@ 340 Craig R - I regret that we never really domesticated the moose. That one photo was like a Canadian reboot of Lady Godiva.

#350 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2015, 06:29 PM:

Peace@271: I don't see how N.K. Jemisin is a "liberal" author behated of the Puppies.

I have read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and it seemed to be bog standard fantasy. Well written, some cool ideas, but, well, not in any way overtly political or even seemingly left-leaning.

A central theme of 100KK is a critique of a patriarchal and racist ruling class, particularly in the sense of identifying and exploding the set of propaganda and cultural norms it uses to prop up the perceived legitimacy of its rule. The effect of the plot is to reveal and denounce the inherent injustice and lies at the heart of the system. Ultimately, Yeine destroys the status quo in favor of a new set of ideals built on racial and gender justice.

That's at least what I'd like "liberal" to mean in our world, whether it lives up to that or not.

#351 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2015, 07:22 PM:

UrsulaV @ #349

Domesticating the moose was not your job, so don't worry about it.

Besides, you did a wonderfully well with the wombats.

g,d&rvvvf

#352 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2015, 11:21 PM:

@UrsulaV -

"... regret that we never really domesticated the moose. That one photo was like a Canadian reboot of Lady Godiva. ..."

That was my though as well.

The photographer was trying for several different shots, but when they were using a 3-light setup the elk kept on moving off into parts of the clearing that were out of proper lighting. After they moved to a different place in the woods that had better ambient light, and they could use fewer lights, the elk decided to be a statue.

Then the moose wrangler noted they were all out of elk-treats and they would have to make it a day, the elk decided *then* to start finding it's motivation for the scene and began to stride. The poor model was terrified and froze, and the photographer got the shot he needed.

(By the way, the photo-shoot was in Northern Sweden, and the photographer at first didn't truly realize just *how* far north Northen Sweden is...)

#353 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 01:41 AM:

Ursula - it seems that my reply to you seems to have been caught the attention of one of the Gnomes of Moderation.

#354 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 09:02 AM:

Re: Moose -- Thanks, all. I have sent an explanation, together with the links various people provided, to my teenaged friend. I hope it will make her happier about that Viking exhibit she saw....

(Cadbury Moose -- I bit a chocolate mousse. More than once. I do apologize....)

#355 ::: Mary Aileen flags down the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 09:24 AM:

Boosting Craig R.'s signal in #352: Craig had a post caught in the moderation machinery.

#356 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 06:55 PM:

Mary Aileen --

Thank you, your mystic powers of Gnome Recognition appeared to have succeeded.

I kinda wondered -- I didn't see any oblivious Words Of Power (unless "Elk" combined with "Sweden" were somehow The Secret Word)

#357 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 01, 2015, 07:21 PM:

Craig R. (356): You're welcome. It helps to put 'gnomes' in the name line; they see it faster that way. (Like using 'spam' when spam-spotting.)

#358 ::: Estee ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2015, 12:07 AM:

I just finished The Three Body Problem and zowie! Sensawunda out the wazoo! It will definitely be my number one pick. The author had at least six different plot threads going, all mysterious and fascinating, and in the end managed to pull them all together in a way that I found highly satisfying. Quibbles about the science were not bad enough to throw me out of the story, but then, I consider much of the science in SF to be bafflegab anyway. This was superior bafflegab.

I also very much liked both Ancillary Sword and The Goblin Emperor, and I will be only slightly less happy if one of them wins instead. I think that the Puppies who see these books as preachy are just not reading very carefully. In particular, I don’t think that The Goblin Emperor is about racism at all, as they seem to believe; I think it’s a thinly fantasized Ruritanian novel. Elvish prejudice against goblins seems to me more like plain old xenophobia (toward a neighboring country seen as a possibly hostile rival) than like racism or colonialism, especially since there is intermarriage at every level of society, including the very highest. I see the society as something like a version of nineteenth-century Europe in which, say, French speakers and German speakers are very noticeably physically different from each other (and a few of them have low-grade magical powers).

As for the Ancillary series, it seems to me that the main issue the books are dealing with—in a very skillful and entertaining manner—is not gender but the nature of consciousness. If you can put a mind into any kind of body, human or mechanical, and you can even put the same mind into many bodies at once, then surely it’s not very important what gender the bodies are.

#359 ::: Greg M. ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2015, 12:38 AM:

Lee@326, P. J. Evans@327:
Rick Perlstein wrote up a (for me very persuasive) riff on that theory in--I want to say--the intro to NIXONLAND, that in the 1960s, conservatives started what was basically a cold 2nd civil war that's still going on today (that is, conservatives are still fighting one, regardless of whether liberals/the rest of the country wants to.)

#360 ::: Joe H. ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2015, 09:59 AM:

Currently about 25% of the way through Three-Body Problem and am intrigued -- very curious to see where the story is going, and liking the Chinese cultural background, just because it gives it a very different flavor.

I loved Goblin Emperor, if for no other reason than that Maia was one of the most fundamentally decent protagonists I've come across in longer than I can remember.

Also really liked Ancillary Sword -- yes, it's a middle book, but it's also sufficiently different from AJ that it never felt like it was repeating itself.

Haven't read Skin Game yet. I will, and I'll enjoy it, but unfortunately it won't be making the ballot for me. Also haven't read Dark Between the Stars yet, and most likely won't; at least, not without going back and reading the original Seven Suns books. On the one hand, that's a type of fiction (epic fantasy masquerading as space opera) I can enjoy if done reasonably well (the first few Deathstalker books, e.g., or the movie Jupiter Ascending); on the other hand, I wasn't impressed with the KJA/BH Dune novels, and what I've skimmed of Dark Between doesn't really call out to me.

(Was also amused to see KJA's second book in B&N the other day with "Hugo-nominated series!" stamped proudly on the cover.)

#361 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2015, 10:29 AM:

: Greg M. :
I read just recently (I don't remember just where) that there isn't a "second civil war," but an ongoing continuation of the first. And that war is one that the south is winning.

In very rough chronological order (as near as I can recall without references to hand):
Poll tax;
"jim Crow" laws;
literacy test for voting;
disproportionate handling of minor offenses for POC;
ignoring/condoning/collaborating with lynchings and murder;
subtler disenfranchisement of POC and immigrants;
uninhibited discrimination in jobs, medical care, housing;
"Seperate but equal;"
disproportionate access to relief during the Great Depression;
widespread societal acceptance of discrimination in all areas of society;
continued acceptance of discrimination against POC and immigrants;
Continued active acceptance of structural inequality;
resurgence of acceptance of "states' rights" as a basis for civil rights;
dismantling access to abortion (disproportinate effect on other than the monied class);
Deliberate and active move to deny access to healthcare (attempt at reform during Clinton years);
Active disadvantageous tax policies;
Dismantling of environmental protection;
Dismantling of safeguards to continued opportunities for employment;
return to disproportionate enforcement and handling of criminal activities;*
"Stand your ground" laws;
Active roll-back of voting rights protection;
Legislative and federal court acceptance and validation of "states rights" in relation to civil rights;
on, and on and on.

* the most egregious I can think of right now is the decades long sentence to a black woman who fired a weapon, completely as a warning to an active intruder in her home, vs the 3.5 year sentence to a white woman who murdered her husband by repeatedly running her car into him.

#362 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2015, 11:47 AM:

I finished Ancillary Sword last night and liked it quite a bit; it's going second on my ballot, after The Goblin Emperor, which I loved to pieces.

I had bounced off of Ancillary Justice a chapter or two in. Interestingly, I almost bounced off of AS at roughly the same point; I persevered because I was reading it for the Hugos* and became engaged with it shortly thereafter. I had been meaning to give AJ another try; now I definitely will (checked it out of the library this morning).

*Hugoes? What's the correct plural?

#363 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2015, 12:09 PM:

PJ Evans @ 344 et al.: And then there's my personal favorite "HOW do you pronounce that?" place name: The Embarras River, in Illinois, which is pronounced "ahmbrah." Lots of peculiar Englishified-French names around here . . .

#364 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2015, 01:37 PM:

Newly depressed about all this. I read the 4 short story entries that were not JCW. I liked Totaled; it wasn't brilliant but it was decently written, got an emotional response, and while it does inevitably call out to Flowers for Algernon, it's not as much an imitation as the snark makes it out to be. The others were ... well, we've gone over that ground. Meh, mostly. Stories that needed another draft or a firm editor's hand to be what they ought.

I'm not much of a short fiction reader. But I also thought through what I *did* read in the course of 2014 and early 2015: a collection each by Sarah Monette and Silvia Moreno-Garcia, the anthologies Queen Victoria's Book of Spells and The Mad Scientist's Guide to World Domination. Two stunning artists, and two anthologies which pleased far more often than dismayed. None of it happened to be from 2014 and viable for the Hugos, but surely, between 2013 (when all but Monette were published) and 2014, there can't have been that big a decline?

However, I moved on to best semiprozine. Within the first magazine, of the first three stories I sampled, one was simply not my thing and I felt no duty to finish it, and two were ... at least as good as Totaled. Not Best Stories Ever, but solid straightforward fiction with a SFnal premise, actual characterization, solid prose, action at the right pace and hitting the beats on time.

Which I think is yet more evidence how much the puppy picks do not only the Hugos but the Puppies damage.

#365 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2015, 01:40 PM:

I am done with the short fiction and the related works categories. The only ones I managed to read to the end were "Flow", "Totaled", "A Single Samurai" and "Turncoat" - which were competent but nothing to write home about.

And I had read Lerner's before (and liked it but it is not something that is a separate story so not award worthy really.)

The rest? Well - it ranged from "I read more than half of it so I am done" to "Why I am still reading this and am 70% into it and I really do not care about it anyway" (kindle so percentages were clear). And how is "The Wisdom..." even remotely related to the genre is beyond me - I think that an author's shopping list belongs more here than this. But people have the right to nominate all they they feel eligible so... I know what goes at the bottom of my list I guess.

None of those were helped by the fact that the book I was reading between them (because if I was reading them in a row, a lot of them would not have fared even that well - I just had to switch to something readable every few entries) was "Seveneves" (which is very very very good by the way -- and a second spot in my nominations for next year now feels unchangeable).

Still have two novels to read (technically 3 but I am not sure that I really want to try the Anderson for a third time). And then all the other categories (the art ones, the editors ones, the fan ones, the podcast ones and so on).

#366 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2015, 02:05 PM:

"they believe quite sincerely that hippies still exist" (Kelly Jennings, #323)

Ahem. We do. And though you may quite reasonably point out that I myself am close to going extinct, there yet remain my children, ranging between 50 and 25 years of age.

Of course, we don't use that term any more.

#367 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2015, 02:33 PM:

366
Maybe that should be 'they still believe the 1960s-style hippies exist, exactly as they were then'. Because hippies are outside of time, or something.

#368 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2015, 05:05 PM:

Annie Y, #365: and a second spot in my nominations for next year now feels unchangeable

May I ask what your other unchangeable 2016 entry is?

#369 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2015, 05:06 PM:

After catching up...

Doug @55

:) Well - not sure if any of the 4 flights went anywhere close to where you are but if they did, consider that I had been waving back :)

Will McLean @57

Yeah - saw your message and forgot to say thanks before leaving. Well - you are right, my opinion did not change. If this is the best in the comics art this year, I suspect that even I have future as an artist (I do not understand art and I cannot draw or paint or whatever).

#370 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2015, 05:11 PM:

JJ @368

Sorry - did not see that while posting above.

One of the first books I read this year - "Karen Memory" by Elizabeth Bear. Review (as unspoilery as possible) here if you want to read it)

It is actually funny how different the two books are from each other. Which shows just how diverse the genres are these days.

#371 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 03:55 AM:

Annie Y, #370: One of the first books I read this year - "Karen Memory" by Elizabeth Bear... It is actually funny how different the two books are from each other.

Thanks! It was on my longlist TBR, but now I've got it on the way from my library.

I find that I have a wide range of tastes with regard to what I find awesome. I defy anyone to be able to categorize my taste (because I sure as hell have been unable to do so). My Hugo novel semi-shortlist this year included (in no particular order):

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, by Claire North
Lock In, by John Scalzi
The Martian, by Andy Weir (unfortunately ineligible)
Ancillary Sword, by Ann Leckie
The Magician's Land, by Lev Grossman
City of Stairs, Robert Jackson Bennett
Defenders, by Will McIntosh
Our Lady of the Islands, by Shannon Page and Jay Lake

#372 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 07:57 AM:

JJ @371:

Jay Lake! (mists up)

#373 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 02:39 PM:

Annie Y @370

I loved Karen Memory; I'll give Seveneyes a look! Thanks for the reccomendation.

#374 ::: Greg M. ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 03:57 PM:

Doug @338: The people in charge of sacking have been sacked. Also, apparently, the people in charge of getting references...

Craig@361: I agree with all your examples. Maybe I'm one of those optimistic-millennial types (I'm 35! It's on the cusp! Shut up!) that this don't feel like losing to me--more like a long, screaming rearguard action that means progress is a lot slower than it could be.

#375 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 05:16 PM:

JJ @371

I defy anyone to be able to categorize my taste

Good... see - it was not that hard :) I loved Harry August when I read it (too late for nominations but it is still a great book). Some of the others in your list are on my TBR list...

Cat @ 373

Karen Memory was such a surprise - I expected to like it, I ended up loving it. It may not be serious literature for some but it is fun and not all books in the genre need to be serious (and technically it is serious anyway).

Seveneves is very different (it has a lot of hard SF as integral part of it and it can be called all but light). One note - if you decide to read it and you get to the third part, do not give up because of the change in the style and narrative - there is a reason for it (not just the obvious 5000 years jump that is visible from the table of content) and it ties nicely at the end. The title also makes sense somewhere in the 3rd third of the book.(and I need to get around to writing a review).

#376 ::: Kelly Jennings ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 09:20 PM:

#366 Older: "Ahem. We do."

:)

I've seen a few of y'all in the wild up there by Eureka Springs, too. But, you know, as a CULTURE?

#377 ::: MickyFinn ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 09:58 PM:

Greg M: I'm also in the 'late Gen-X but able to make an argument for being a millennial' cohort, but I put myself solidly in the camp of being a very young (relatively) gen-xer

#378 ::: thewildhare ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2015, 10:08 PM:

Just finished Seveneves. Loved it. Highly recommended for many reasons including the science and the character development. And the story. Wow, what a story. I agree with Annie Y's comments above @375.

#379 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2015, 12:24 AM:

Kelly, #376: One of my internal self-descriptions is "aging hippie" -- even though I was a bit young to have been a true hippie Back In The Day, I absorbed a lot of the philosophy. It's not my only self-description, though, and sometimes I look the part more than other times.

#380 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2015, 12:56 AM:

I just finished Robert Charles Wilson's The Affinities.

I really liked it; it has some interesting concepts in re social structures and personality types. Have you ever met someone with whom you instantly felt a deep rapport, as if you'd already known them for a long time, without really knowing why? That's one of the premises featured in the book.

Hugo-worthy? I'm honestly on the fence about that; once I've read 30 or 40 of the books which come out this year (I'm up to 8 so far), I'll have a better idea where it stands.

#381 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2015, 02:33 AM:

I just finished reading The Hanged Man by P.N. Elrod. AU Victorian, somewhat steampunk with a bit of romance, featuring a female investigator who has paranormal abilities; she's a Reader, which means that she can pick up emotional residue from crime scenes and objects. (The downside is that she can also pick up emotional projection from other people, which can be overwhelming if she doesn't shield.) It starts out as a standard murder mystery, but quickly develops multiple interlocking layers of plot. There are several very unexpected twists, and the solution to the initial mystery is well-hidden until the last few pages. Elrod says there will definitely be more books about these characters.

I don't know if I'd call it Hugo-worthy, but if the description above sounds like your cup of tea, you will almost certainly enjoy it.

#382 ::: Greg M. ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2015, 02:48 AM:

I… I just tried to read two of the novellas.

Big Boys Don't Cry was deadly dull. If it hadn't been published, I would have thought it was an ambitious, promising story by a college student in a fiction writing workshop. As it stood… you know what I read last night? The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas. Okay, maybe a little unfair to most stories, but all I'm asking for now is that you hold my interest. Big Boys failed. Oh GOD did it fail.

Pale Realms of Shade actually started off more promising. And then. These are some actual sentences and phrases from the novella:
" “Faithful to her womanhood! My snake coupled with Eve beneath the tree of carnal knowledge, and all her daughters are like unto her. It was with your partner’s love warm pulsing inside her loins when she went back to the office to return the bottles of pills she had stolen."

" 'He resisted at first, because he loves her — because his lust for her burns deeply. But he is a stupid man, and no match for her wiles.' ”

"then they rutted like swine in heat, grunting, and he poured his sperm into her in a vast, hot, stiff explosion," I SWEAR TO GOD THIS IS A REAL SENTENCE. I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP.

"The Fixer stood up. He was very tall, I would guess seven feet, ten inches." Really. Seven feet, *ten* inches. You would *guess,* implying a non-specific estimate. Not, you know, nine inches, or eleven inches, or--

Fluorospherians, I wrote a fantasy novel a few years back. I did multiple drafts of it. It's based on the D&D campaign my friend Gavin used to run, but it held some readers' interest, and I got three full requests from lit agents. They all passed, and they were right to. It is called "The Lords of Perth." It's decently executed, but I'm far enough way from writing it (5 years) to state that it was not good enough to be published. It DEFINITELY does not deserve a Hugo.

First sentence of 'The Lords of Perth': "I fried a purple pigeon with my first lightning bolt when I was nine years old."

If in my judgement, "The Lords of Perth" is better than the Hugo-nominated thing I just read, your thing is not making the ballot, and No Award is going there. Congratulations, Big Boys Don't Cry and Pale Shade. You just failed the Perth purple pigeon test.

#383 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2015, 03:06 AM:

You're sure that's not the Perth purple pigeon paradigm, Greg M.? I'm perplexed.

#384 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2015, 06:00 AM:

Lee @381 Seconding The Hanged Man, on both counts. Just yesterday I was looking at it on my stack and thinking that I had enjoyed it and will certainly keep an eye out for sequels, but I wasn't sure if I would nominate it for a Hugo.

#385 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2015, 11:19 AM:

Greg, #382: First sentence of 'The Lords of Perth': "I fried a purple pigeon with my first lightning bolt when I was nine years old."

That's actually intriguing, and would make me want to read more. It's not quite on the same level as "This year the Ribieros' daffodils seeded early, and they seeded cockroaches," but it's definitely in the same family.

#386 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2015, 01:24 PM:

Kelly Jenning (376) Of course as a culture. If there were no surviving culture, there would be just a few isolated specimens, regarded as "eccentric."

The culture is alive and strong, as evidenced by the food co-ops, bike co-ops, and so on. You find them all over. A lot of the schools are still open and still providing a much needed alternative to the standard model of testing and more testing.

As I said, we no longer use that term, but we are not gone. Not by a long shot. And we changed the world, for the better.

#387 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2015, 01:42 PM:

Older @386: Amen to that!

#388 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2015, 02:36 PM:

385
I was thinking that it was an interesting first sentence: you really want to know more.

#389 ::: Will McLean ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2015, 04:52 PM:

I am pleased to report that there actually is a SF story titled "Nutty Nuggets", in case you are the kind of person that wants their SF to be Nutty Nuggets:

http://willscommonplacebook.blogspot.com/2015/06/nutty-nuggets.html

#390 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2015, 08:54 PM:

Ginger (387) I used to say, despairingly, "We changed the world. And then everyone just ... went home..."

But then I saw that we were still changing the world, from home.

You must be one of us (no one else knows we're here).

#391 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2015, 10:00 PM:

The subject matter of the purple pigeon sentence is fine. The sentence itself, as a sentence, is a bit awkward. The way the narrator puts their age at the end makes me think that’s the bit they want us to notice (still in grade school and already a lightning-tossing bad-ass!) but the purpleness of the pigeon and the lightning bolt are fighting with it. I’d want to try swapping the parts of that sentence around a few ways.

#392 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 01:01 AM:

I think I need a fainting couch.

One of my blog posts is the lead excerpt on today's Puppies Roundup on File770.

#393 ::: Greg M. ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 03:52 AM:

@383 Tom Whittmore: Yes. You win everything! Or at least, a proud polarity prize of pure presentation.

@385 Lee, @388 PJ Evans: Thanks! Yeah, it's not bad. The 20-year time jump between chapters 1 and 2 was (I learned) where I lost a lot of readers. Also, I have now added Mirabile to my must-read list.

@391 Avram: Trust me, I ever go back to it, I'm rewriting a LOT of things.

#394 ::: Joe H. ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 09:04 AM:

Am I the only one who, reading Three-Body Problem (which I did quite like) was reminded of Greg Bear's Forge of God/Anvil of Stars books?

#395 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 11:53 AM:

I have now received my Hugo packet. Making a start with short stories.

'On the Spiritual [or Spiriual] Plain': Well, this is an odd one. It seems to set up a premise, and - well, that's it. It might make more sense as the first chapter of a novel. Might it be that Antonelli is planning more stories in that world? I mean, discovering a planet that worked like that would be quite surprising if it really happened, so there is potential for drama, but it isn't treated as a surprise, or as the solution to a mystery, or anything like that, so the drama isn't brought out. Last year in commenting on one of the retro-Hugo nominees I said 'now we would expect more of a twist'; well, clearly not everyone would.

'A Single Samurai': I quite like this one. It is a meaningful story, neatly told. Some people have objected to the ending, but I think it's OK: the objections rest on principles about how fiction ought to work that aren't universal. If you are worried you can always imagine that the story vf orvat gbyq ol n tubfg.

'The Parliament of Birds and Beasts': in common with many other readers, I have no idea what this story is about. It certainly isn't allegory in the strict sense, in which one thing stands for another; it doesn't seem even to be the looser kind of analogy of which the story about St Nicholas discussed earlier is an example. It certainly uses Christian symbolism, but it looks as if it has thrown it together all anyhow, without any regard for consistency. I understand the history of the word 'worm', but this worm is a silkworm, so his turning into a dragon really doesn't make sense. The title is presumably a reference to Chaucer or Attar (also an influence on John Crowley, by the way), or both - there are only two birds in the story, so without an allusion there'd be little point putting them in the title - but I can't see what the allusion is doing. And as for the bit where the Cat wets herself ... (he means 'gets herself wet,' but...).

#396 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 12:42 PM:

'Totaled': Probably the best thing in this category. Not a startling idea, but I quite like the way it was handled. I was particularly struck by a passage near the end where there is an ungrammatical sentence, and at first I thought it was a slip by the author, and then, as the grammar falls to pieces, realised it was in-story, with the narrator's grammar failing as her brain degenerates. (Have people noticed how much the theme of 'letting go' recurs this year?)

'Turncoat': Well, in the first place it has too many descriptions of weapons - apparently this is considered a requirement of the subgenre. And then, I don't think the actual story is told very effectively; the narrator's change of heart is not properly motivated. One might think that a logically programmed AI would not deviate from its preprogrammed ends - this could certainly be disputed, with the idea that once a being reaches a certain degree of complexity it is straightforwardly programmable, but is able to form ends of its own (and indeed, didn't Heinlein have that idea?) - but that's not very effectively brought out. It's also interesting how the narrator's boss thinks that constructs are more inclined to sentimentality than uploaded humans, but again this isn't properly developed. The story is also annoyingly Americanocentric for something set in a posthuman future. The narrator transmits an image of a single finger to his boss, hoping that he is still human enough to understand it. Well, I guess most Brits would understand it by now, but when I was young it was always two fingers. And I'm sure in other places other things have the same significance. And when at the end he says 'Call me Benedict', what does he mean? Saint Benedict? Benedict Cumberbatch? (Yes, I know who he really has in mind, but it's a terribly culturally specific allusion.)

#397 ::: Kelly Jennings ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 03:43 PM:

Sorry, Older. I was just kidding.

I'm a child of the hippies; I have actual hippies in my writing group; I'm more or less a hippy myself. There's a reason my student called me a hippy in the evaluation.

I didn't mean to sound snarky.

#398 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 05:21 PM:

Kelly Jennings (397) Oh woe is me! I totally did not notice that you were appearing snarky. Us oldsters get pretty foolish.

I'm glad you weren't intending to be snarky, because obviously it would have been wasted on me. 8-)

#399 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 06:17 PM:

UrsulaV @349: I regret that we never really domesticated the moose. That one photo was like a Canadian reboot of Lady Godiva.

Here's a related Canadian take on the theme.

Sorry, days late . . . can't quite manage to keep up with you folk now days . . .

#400 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 07:57 PM:

Re: reading for rockets, graphic novel division:

I read some of Saga. I thought that the art was good and the story seemed strong, but I was completely lost because I didn't read the first two. Gave up halfway, but it'll still probably be high on my ballot.

I really liked Ms. Marvel, however, despite the distracting "Hugo Voters" imprint on every page. So far, it's ranking #1 for me.

Onward....

#401 ::: Lyle Hopwood ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2015, 08:21 PM:

Andrew M, 395, 396:

I still haven't figured out Parliament either. I was hoping someone would explain along the lines of "Well, Thomas Aquinas wrote about the four waves of animal emigration from Eden, with the unicorn alone remaining behind, and this is a play on that," but alas no. It all seems to be Wright's own invention.

However, I think I eventually figured out the motive in Turncoat. I was all ready to write a review saying that the motive for the turning of the coat wasn't properly explained, when I read it again and saw that of all the philosophy the machine intelligence claimed to have read, only one is quoted.

"Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing should say of him, “He did not make me,” or the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding?”

Vg'f haperqvgrq, ohg vg'f Vfnvnu 29:16, naq gur rkrtrfvf be jungrire rkcynangvbaf bs Ovoyr irefrf ner pnyyrq (uggc://ovoyruho.pbz/vfnvnu/29-16.ugz) fnlf vg'f eryngrq gb Ebznaf 9:20

"Ohg jub ner lbh, n uhzna orvat, gb gnyx onpx gb Tbq? "Funyy jung vf sbezrq fnl gb gur bar jub sbezrq vg, 'Jul qvq lbh znxr zr yvxr guvf?'"

Vg'f zl oryvrs gung Emnfn qvqa'g guvax ur arrqrq zber rkcynangvba guna gung. Gur znpuvar NV jbexrq sbe na nezl bs genafuhzna vagryyvtraprf (naq ornevat va zvaq jung Jevtug jebgr nobhg genafuhznaf va uvf aba-svpgvba cvrpr, "Genafuhznavfz, orlbaq vgf arne-grez tbnyf bs vzcebivat uhzna yvsr guebhtu zrqvpvar naq rkcnaqrq uhzna yvsr fcna, unf n ybat-grez tbny bs nobyvfuvat uhzna zbegnyvgl. Guvf vf n jbeyqyl qbpgevar pneevrq gb na rkgerzr. Vzzbegny uhznaf jbhyq or qrivyf, fvapr jr jbhyq qrpnl va bhe fvaf bire gur praghevrf, orpbzvat rire zber frysvfu naq neebtnag.") Boivbhfyl, guvf vfa'g tbbq, naq lbh jbhyq abg jnag gb freir n qrivy.

Fb gur NV chg gjb naq gjb gbtrgure jvgu gur Vfnvnu dhbgr, naq ernyvmrq gung whfg nf uhznaf freir Tbq jvgubhg dhrfgvbavat Uvz, nf n znpuvar, vg jnf uvf cynpr gb freir gur uhznaf jub perngrq uvz.

Apologies if I've written all this earnest guff and you already knew all of that and still didn't think he explained the motive well enough. And yeah, the middle-finger and the Benedict didn't do it for me either. (I'm ex-English.)

#402 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2015, 02:54 PM:

Ah, OK. That makes sense. But I don't think it totally resolves my problem; it gives him a motivation, a purpose to his actions, but it doesn't really explain what he is doing; why would he be so impressed by that text in the first place? You might say that that's a problem that arises all the time - our ultimate aims are in a way inexplicable; but with a being who prides himself on being logical - and presumably with good reason, since he's actually created to be logical - I feel there should be more to it than that.

The connection with Wright is interesting, though - perhaps it's significant that this is an RP and not an SP nomination. I get the sense that, no matter to what extent the RPs and SPs are or aren't in collusion, their fundamental outlooks are definitely different.

#403 ::: Tamlyn ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2015, 10:33 PM:

I'm trying to look at the Campbell nominees and I'm a little confused. There's no helpful notes about the Campbell like about the Hugos.

I've found Rolf Nelson and a blog post by him about whether to include his book or not - which I presume he decided not, since it's not there.

I can't find this Eric S Raymond. Or is it the non-fiction person? (Actually, now I'm writing this, I remember someone mentioning something up thread - he has a story or something?).

#404 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2015, 12:31 AM:

Tamlyn#403:

According to his site Eric S. Raymond has one eligible work, "Sucker Punch" which is in the "Riding the Red Horse" anthology that is provided in ther Hugo packet in the Related Work.

Rolf Nelson also has a story, "Shakedown Cruise" in the "Riding the Red Horse" anthology.

#405 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2015, 12:34 AM:

Stoopid typos: Eric S. Raymond & Rolf Nelson have stories in "Riding the Red Horse", the anthology included in the Related Work part of the Hugo Packet.

#406 ::: Tamlyn ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2015, 01:20 AM:

Thank you.

#407 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2015, 05:40 AM:

Trying to be as fair as possible to Rolf Nelson, I also downloaded the sample chapters - well, sample section - of his novel/unproduced screenplay The Stars Came Back on my Kindle.

I could, of course, have bought the whole thing for £2.39, but, having read the free sample, I decided I wasn't £2.39 worth of impressed.

I actually read all of Riding the Red Horse. Some of the non-fiction stuff - Ken Burnside's nominated essay on thermodynamics, for instance - is competently written and reasonably informative. I've read plenty better (I've recently been re-reading Asimov's science essays in The Stars in Their Courses, for instance), but there's nothing in them to complain of.

#408 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2015, 12:14 PM:

On to novelettes.

'Championship B'tok' and 'The Journeyman: In the Stone House': Here we come up against the Puppies' love of series fiction (which is relevant to the novels and novellas as well). As was discussed a while ago, works in series can win Hugos, but they are generally either fairly short series with a clear arc, or loosely constructed series of the 'same universe' kind, where the stories are more or less self contained. What does not tend to succeed is the ninety-fifth episode of the adventures of X. There are good reasons for this; you have to know the series to understand what is going on; you have to be familiar with the characters to care about what is going on; and the stories often don't stand out especially, as opposed to just showing the merits and defect of their author, so aren't good candidates for 'most significant work of the year'. So in a competition where there is a group of voters considering and comparing works, these aren't going to do well. I think some Puppies don't really see it that way; they just look on the process as a counting of fans, so works which have a lot of fans ought to win; and of course it's true that some series (though not necessarily these ones) have a large following.

'Championship B'Tok' is in fact (as the publisher's website makes clear) an extract from a novel - itself part of a longer series - and really does not make sense on its own. The opening scene, as several people have pointed out, leads nowhere. (I think the sabotaging of the mining ship may have something to do with the blowing up of a refinery, mentioned later, but still, we never hear what happened to Lyle.)

It's worth noting, though, that this story includes a lesbian character, although her sexuality is not relevant to the plot, something some Puppies are said to get upset about. It's a mistake to see them as monolithic.

'The Journeyman' is at least self-contained enough to make clear what is happening; the problem is that what happens within the story is unexciting. Two men who are destined to fight meet, and fight, and then the fight is stopped. There is nothing really science fictional or fantastic about this. The setting is science-fictional, but we don't really get much development on the underlying science-fictional plot - apparently the situation was explained in an earlier story - and though that plot is not original, I would still like to have seen just how it works out in preference, to what we did get.

#409 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2015, 01:30 PM:

Older @390: my family was somewhat unconventional, and I'm quite familiar with the enclaves of Berkeley CA and Takoma Park MD, so there's still an influence of the Hippie Movement. I do my best to have a balanced approach overall, but I can definitely see that influence in our lives. It's a good influence.

#410 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2015, 06:01 PM:

'Ashes to Ashes': I found this one very confusing. One problem is the alien monoculture: va bhe jbeyq vg'f jryy-xabja gung qvssrerag crbcyrf unir qvssrerag jnlf bs qvfcbfvat bs gur qrnq, ohg nccneragyl gur nyvraf ba Nyyhivhz ner fb ubfgvyr gb gur vqrn bs ohevny gung gurl jbhyq qbhog gur fncvrapr bs uhznaf vs gurl xarj jr cenpgvfrq vg. Vg'f nyfb hapyrne jung gur ureb vf gelvat gb npuvrir; ur hcfrgf gur nyvraf, naq gung zvtug znxr gurz tb njnl, ohg rdhnyyl vg zvtug yrnq gb ercevfnyf - jul jbhyq gung or n tbbq guvat?

'The Triple Sun': Well, yes, it is a golden age story, isn't it? I thought for a long time that this did not make sense, fvapr vg fubhyq abg znggre jurgure uhznaf unq evtugyl vqragvsvrq gur vagryyvtrag fcrpvrf, tvira gung gurl jrer va gur cerfrapr bs gur erny vagryyvtrag fcrpvrf juvyr gelvat gb pbzzhavpngr. Ohg arne gur raq vg orpbzrf pyrne gung gur erny vagryyvtrag fcrpvrf vf uvqvat. Ohg gura vg'f abg ragveryl pyrne ubj gur uvqvat orarsvgf gurz, fb - well, it's confusing, anyway.

#411 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2015, 06:59 PM:

Dude. DUDE. I JUST FINISHED Naomi Novik's UPROOTED and I am already locking in a slot for next year's ballot. Duuuuude.

Books on that scale amaze me. I would have tried to wring a trilogy out of it, and not carried it half so well.

#412 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2015, 08:04 PM:

UrsulaV @411

Cool! I will be reading Uprooted soon. I'm looking forward to it.

#413 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2015, 08:23 PM:

I've got a little running list of stories and novels and movies and so forth that I want to remember for Hugo nominations next year, and Uprooted is on my novel list too. I am very pleased with the depth that Novik gave to the tropes she was working with, and how depth is not necessarily the same as "And now I'll just subvert them all and play them opposite!" (I like a good trope subversion, but subversion is not itself depth. Ditto on deconstruction.) It's a nice push to the boundaries of the subgenre I think of as fairytale stories.

#414 ::: Lyle Hopwood ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2015, 10:27 PM:

Andrew M #410

I couldn't work it out at first either, but after much thinking, I felt the aliens believed that the buried humans would wake to fight again, meaning the humans will eventually gain a new army. I admit it doesn't actually say that and the whole obvious upcoming conflict is avoided in the story (which is why I can't rate it as successful) but I think it is suggested.

We were told being underneath falling masonry would be horrific for the aliens, and that being buried alive would be the last straw. The suggestion that buried humans were still "alive" and waiting to be resurrected would be piling on the ultimate horror. Then they learn that Christians have no fear of burial until their resurrection in Christ. We get this statement:

"Their voices were strident, but also too fast to follow. After a moment the commandant said, almost in a whisper, "So, he is to continue, after corporeal demise?"

"Sounds right. No telling when."

"Do many of your people intend thus?"

Cerna looked at Miscente, but the camp chief clearly had no answer.

"Not many," Cerna said, "but enough.""

#415 ::: Kelly Jennings ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2015, 11:45 PM:

Uprooted is just excellent! I finished it a day or two back -- one of the stay-up-all-night reads.

#416 ::: Tamlyn ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2015, 04:56 AM:

Uprooted is on my maybe-tbr pile. I should shuffle it over to my definitely-tbr pile.

#417 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2015, 10:52 AM:

Lyle Hopwood@414: You may well be right. But if we have to go to such trouble to work it out, and we still aren't sure if this is the right answer (and not because it's actually meant to be an enigma), I think something is wrong.

This was another 'letting go' story, by the way. And so, of course, is 'The Day the World Turned Upside Down'. I don't think this really works. I think some criticisms may be misplaced, because as I read it we aren't meant to admire or agree with the speaker: when the spinning women tell him to let go they are supposed to be right. But we are clearly meant to empathise with him, to appreciate his pain. This is not incoherent, but it's hard to bring off, and I don't think it is done effectively. It might work better if he did let go; well, he lets go literally, but he is still, to the last, saying 'Sophie, you hurt me very much'.

So while the short stories produced two OK nominees, the novelettes are pretty unsatisfactory all round. I will now take a break from Puppies, and finish The Three Body Problem.

At the moment I'm not committed to excluding people just because they are on the slate, but I don't want to vote for anyone who has behaved particularly egregiously. That would clearly include Wright, Kratman and Antonelli (and Day, but I can't see myself wanting to vote for him anyway): does it include anyone else?

#418 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2015, 12:16 PM:

Andrew M : the interactions I've seen with Kary English have been polite and reasonable. I've not seen any with many of the others. Certainly nothing on a level with the obvious actions of those on your list.

(my default is assume decent unless proven otherwise)

#419 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2015, 12:19 PM:

Kelly Jennings @376: "Hippies": But, you know, as a CULTURE?

Been to Boulder recently?

#420 ::: Elisa ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2015, 01:01 PM:

Andrew M #410

Ugh - Triple Sun managed not to make sense on many levels.

Sebz gur qrfpevcgvba bs gur nyvraf naq gur oenpryrg, gur svefg guvat gung cbccrq vagb zl urnq jnf gung gur nhgube jnf gnyxvat nobhg gntf ba n ureq bs navznyf - gurl rira pnyyrq gurz urkpbjf sbe crgr'f fnxr. Fb crbcyr unir fcrag 30 lrnef gelvat gb gnyx gb pbjf ??? Orpnhfr bs bar oenpryrg? Naq arire bapr fvzcyl fghpx n pnzren qbja bar bs gubfr fghcvq ubyrf ? Naq qvqa'g unir nal avtug-ivfvba tbttyrf be vasen-erq pnzrenf?

Everyone else in the story had to be mindbogglingly stupid for our "heroes" to look good. Blargh.

#421 ::: Kelly Jennings ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2015, 01:09 PM:

#419: Boulder? I wish.

But actually NW Arkansas, where I live, is a bastion of hippie culture -- Fayetteville, when I moved here in the mid-80s, was filled with hippies. Now, sadly, it has been swamped with Wal-Martians; but some of the true culture remains. It's why we love it so; and why I have stayed so long.

And while the rest of the Boston Mountains are ALSO filled with Christian Fundies and White Nationalists and generalized Anti-Government types who hole up in their hollers against the coming of the Collapse, there remain a whole passel of hippies as well. Eureka Springs is the most famous of these places, but not the only one.

As I confessed to Older, above, I was only messing with him a bit. I really didn't expect to be taken seriously. My apologies to anyone I offended.

#422 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2015, 02:27 PM:

Elisa: Very true. I couldn't work out how the creature resembled a cow in the first place - it clearly didn't look like one.

#423 ::: Lyle Hopwood ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2015, 03:01 PM:

A comment on File 770 says that Craig R is in hospital recovering from a mild heart attack. Since I don't comment there but do comment here, I leave here my best wishes to Craig and hopes for a speedy recovery.

http://file770.com/?p=23008&cpage=3#comment-277542

#424 ::: Lyle Hopwood ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2015, 03:06 PM:

#417 Andrew M
"You may well be right. But if we have to go to such trouble to work it out, and we still aren't sure if this is the right answer (and not because it's actually meant to be an enigma), I think something is wrong."

Oh, I agree. I've spent more time puzzling over some of these stories than some people do over Ulysses. Maybe I'm just fooling myself thinking I'm clever like those people who chase down Cicada 3301 puzzles. With normal books, I just read them, get it (because "it" is written on the page) and then go on to the next one.

#425 ::: Elisa ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2015, 07:39 PM:

Andrew M - Yeah, I wasn't sure how they were supposed to look like cows either. I never did make sense of that description.

I just remembered another thing that made me nuts - these aliens could somehow znxr pbzcyrk ryrpgebavp oenpryrgf but never figured out fvyirejner ? Huh?

#426 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2015, 08:07 PM:

Holy cats. I just picked up UrsulaV's new novella, Bryony and Roses, and tore straight thru it in about 3 hours. Yeah, that's got a slot on my nominations list for sure.

It's a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, but in Ursula's trademark style it becomes a thing of amazing glory. There's gardening, and family, and evil fae, and self-sacrifice, and the burgeoning romance is both sweet and believable, and at the end... but I'll let you find that out for yourself. Trust me, it's worth your time.

Note that this is published under her pen name of T. Kingfisher.

#427 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2015, 08:59 PM:

Lee: Sold. (Thanks; I was wavering, having burned out on Beauty/Beast a while back.)

#428 ::: Jo MacQueen ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2015, 10:59 PM:

A bit off topic, but still...

May I thank everyone involved in the discussion about wapiti, please? It meant that the name was in my mind when I did one of the crosswords in the Sydney Morning Herald over the weekend, rather than having to look it up. So, you've all very helpfully broadened my knowledge in relation to names of certain animals not on this particular landmass.

#429 ::: Tom Whitmore shakes the internal server ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2015, 11:28 PM:

To see if something comes unstuck. Just recommending THE AFFINITIES, as others have, if it doesn't.

#430 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2015, 12:03 AM:

*mumble blush mutter*

#431 ::: rea ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2015, 07:45 AM:

*mumble blush mutter*

Congratulations on the Nebula, by the way . . .

#432 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2015, 10:55 AM:

So, I'm running a book discussion of The Dark Between The Stars elseweb; we're some 48 chapters in at this point. And I am no longer able to control the snark in my posts. (I try to be measured and neutral. I really, really try. But there comes a point....) It's a perfectly bog-standard piece of rather forgettable space opera. Now, I *like* space opera; I'm currently re-reading the Liaden books, which are about as space opera as you can get. But this... this is space opera that aspires to mediocrity, and often missses even that target.

One of the other folks involved in the discussion asked, in all serious naivety, "who would nominate this book for a Hugo?"....

#433 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2015, 11:26 AM:

432
I've described it as 'Saturday-matinee cast-of-thousands space opera' having tropes that telegraph plot points several chapters in advance. And it's boring.

#434 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2015, 12:00 PM:

I read somewhere (it may even have been somewhere around these parts) that a lot of people grew up on a diet of Kevin J. Anderson, the way I grew up on E. E. "Doc" Smith.

The Dark Between the Stars, though, was the first Anderson I've ever read, and, um, without that childhood-nostalgia thing going for it, it's hard for me to see the appeal.

(Let's not go into "would I have nominated E. E. "Doc" Smith for a Hugo when I was about fourteen?" I was young and foolish, not old and foolish like I am now....)

#435 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2015, 04:08 PM:

Interesting analysis of literary awards based on the gender of both author and protagonist. Includes the Hugos.

The author only covers awards from this century, but I'm reasonably sure that extending the field of research further back would only exacerbate the discrepancies.

#436 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2015, 09:46 PM:

I would totally have nominated Doc Smith for a Hugo when I was fourteen. Based on having read the first 25% of The Dark Between the Stars I don't think I would have nominated it, but we'll never know.

#437 ::: Aaron ::: (view all by) ::: June 09, 2015, 10:04 PM:

If anyone cares, I have reviewed the June 2014 issue of Analog. This is the issue that Hugo nominee The Journeyman: In the Stone House appeared in.

#438 ::: Rail ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2015, 07:32 AM:

Steve Wright @434: I absolutely would have nominated Doc Smith back when his books would have been eligible. First Lensman was on the ballot.

Aaron @437: You have me considering a subscription with that review. I gave up on the magazines a long time ago, but digital delivery is making them more tempting.

I'm not surprised that the Flynn story is not even the best story in its issue. That seems to be a pattern with the PupSlates.

#439 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2015, 08:44 AM:

To be fair, even on more mature consideration - all right, slightly more mature consideration - "Doc" Smith does have some virtues. Zest, for example, and verve. Even zing, maybe. (Whereas The Dark Between the Stars... perhaps doesn't zing as much as it might.)

#440 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2015, 12:03 PM:

Steve W., #439: To be fair, Smith was also generally playing on a field that was more homogenous than what we have now. It's easier to be outstanding when most of the competition is doing much the same thing than when you're competing against a wide range of styles.

#441 ::: Elisa ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2015, 12:24 PM:

I just found out that the evil wife in The Dark Between the Stars has my first name!

I am already cranky and I have only read two pages of the book.

#442 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2015, 12:36 PM:

Elisa @441, you'll only get crankier. Assuming you can keep track of the enormous cast of characters. As one person in the discussion group elseweb just said about the book, "I actually like a few of the characters, and think stories about them would make for a couple interesting books. This is NOT that book."

#443 ::: Elisa ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2015, 02:49 PM:

Cassy B. @442

Oh joy.

And I just got a lovely box of omnibus editions of the manga Tsubasa. Somehow I am finding it hard to keep going with, well at this point, pretty much any of the Hugo's reading.

Sigh.

#444 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2015, 02:54 PM:

Elisa @443, I feel your pain. I have yet to start the Hugo-nominated novellas. I just can't nerve myself up to it. But I just got the most recent Liaden novel and am binge-reading my way through the entire series....

#445 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2015, 05:01 PM:

This moose is resorting to rereading The Goblin Emperor as a palate-cleanser.

There have been no (virtual) dents in the wall yet but some of the nominated works have come remarkably close.

Reading should be a pleasure not a test of endurance, damn it.

#446 ::: Aaron ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2015, 08:04 PM:

And for anyone who cares, here is my review of the July/August 2014 issue of Analog. This is the issue that The Triple Sun by Rajnar Vajra appears in. It is also the issue in which Juliette Wade's Mind Locker is, a story which was on the Sad Puppy slate for a nanosecond before she told Torgersen to take her off.

#447 ::: Elisa ::: (view all by) ::: June 10, 2015, 08:11 PM:

Yeah, Flow just about killed me with boredom. I ended up trying to live blog reading it Flow by Arlan Andrews- More Attempted Hugo's Reading in a vain attempt to force myself to finish. I didn't make it.

I haven't been back to that category since.

I agree, a test of endurance is about the best way to describe this. Most of this stuff is just torture to read.

I have cracked open the second omnibus of Tsubasa (fun!). I can't even work up the energy to go back to the graphic novels - I have been doling them out as a treat. I think I will be taking a few days off from Hugo's reading.

#448 ::: JJ ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2015, 02:48 AM:

Elisa, #447: Yeah, Flow just about killed me with boredom. I ended up trying to live blog reading it Flow by Arlan Andrews - More Attempted Hugo's Reading in a vain attempt to force myself to finish. I didn't make it.

Oh, that was interesting! 8" diameter ropes!

So, having not read the story yet, how do the people in the Warm Lands keep frozen the valuable ice for which they've paid ever so much? Do the wen have little freezers built into their chests?

#449 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2015, 05:29 AM:

Ah. Yes. "Flow", by Arlan Andrews Sr., otherwise known as "hmm, PDF viewer says I am on page 13 of a 25-page story, I wonder if the plot will start soon?"

#450 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2015, 07:26 AM:

JJ: Is that so surprising? No doubt it won't stay frozen for ever, but ice stored in large quantities can stay frozen for a pretty long time - hence the use of ice-houses, before artificial refrigeration was developed.

#451 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2015, 09:40 AM:

I gave up on Dark Between The Stars 35% in. I figured I'd given it a fair try and the author hadn't hooked me.

Did you see Eric Flint's comment on Wright's style? "No noun may go out in public unless she is veiled in grandiloquence and accompanied by an adjective." That is so perfect; I wish I'd thought of that!

#452 ::: Edmund Schweppe ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2015, 09:47 AM:

Cadbury Moose @445: I've been re-reading Ursula Vernon's Castle Hangnail for similar palate-cleansing purposes.

(I highly recommend Castle Hangnail, btw. It may be theoretically aimed at pre-teens, but I had a blast reading it. Stompy boots FTW!)

#453 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2015, 10:33 AM:

Cat @ #451:

Dark between the Stars was part of the latest Humble Bundle E-Book Bundle and I gave up on it roughly when I decided to not download that file with the rest of my purchase (I did not know at that point that it was on a Puppy slate, I just knew that I'd read several KJA books in the past and didn't really look forward to reading another).

I'm impressed you managed 35%!

#454 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2015, 11:16 AM:

Cat @451 - I just finished reading "One Bright Star to Guide Them", and have to agree, Eric Flint hit the nail on the head there.

(Two more Wright novellas, two semiprozine entries, and the Fanwriter and Dramatic Presentation categories to go, and then I will have finished my Hugo reviews. I hope there's a prize or something.)

#455 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2015, 11:18 AM:

JJ, #448: If it's stored well below ground -- say, in a natural cave -- and stacked tightly, ice will keep for a surprisingly long time. Underground temperatures are remarkably constant, and the difference between the temperature outside and inside the cave may run as much as 40° or more in hot weather. But I'm assuming that nothing along those lines is mentioned.

Edmund, #452: Seconding Castle Hangnail. It's yet another excellent refutation of the people who say that grownups shouldn't be reading YA fiction, and includes a nice illustration of how to recognize when someone you thought was a friend is just using you.

#456 ::: David Langford ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2015, 11:28 AM:

Report from Ansible HQ: I read Skin Game when the UK review copy arrived last year, and it went down smoothly but soon blended into the Dresden continuum – I had to check the blurb just now to remind me which one it was. I liked The Three-Body Problem despite some Oh Dear, The Physics caveats. I loved The Goblin Emperor and keep thinking wistfully that it would be fun to reread....

Meanwhile the prospect of The Dark Between the Stars keeps giving me flashbacks to Thog's favourite line from an earlier KJA epic, Hidden Empire, explaining why spaceships are not streamlined: "In the vacuum of space no one could see beautiful lines or shiny hulls anyway."

#457 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2015, 11:57 AM:

Lee @ #455

Especially if you insulate the cave walls with bales of dry straw, to turn it into a giant haybox, and stop any draughts.

#458 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2015, 12:11 PM:

David Langford @ 456

line from an earlier KJA epic, Hidden Empire, explaining why spaceships are not streamlined: "In the vacuum of space no one could see beautiful lines or shiny hulls anyway."

Well - this year's nominees is the 8th book in the same series (despite it being called first in a new series in the same universe or whatever) so no much chance in style. Or logic. (I finally gave up about halfway on the third attempt to finish it).

#459 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2015, 12:28 PM:

Starting the homework. 14 pages of "The Dark Between The Stars", and I see no reason to continue. With about three words you could flip the good guy and bad girl. Either I don't understand what the lava is doing, or the author is confused about what a rooster tail actually looks like. I have no attachment to any of this.

#460 ::: Rail ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2015, 09:01 PM:

Cassy B. @442: I don't suppose that elseweb is open to lurkers? I admit, I'd rather read the snark than the book.

Much more interested, at this point, in Bryony and Roses than in what's left of my Hugo packet. I think I'm going to be one of the people who bounces off of The Three Body Problem.

#461 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2015, 10:28 PM:

Rail @460, absolutely, elseweb is open to lurkers. And to posters, whether they engage in snark or not. <grin>

It's on one of the old CompuServe forums; Science Fiction & Fantasy. You may have to invent a sign-in (unless you have an old Compuserve or AOL sign-in lying around). It's in "The Reading Group" folder; you'll see the thread list displayed at that link, and HERE is the discussion schedule for The Dark Between The Stars.

Although I'm frankly tempted to just abandon this book and move on to The Three Body Problem. I've run dozens of book discussions, over many years, and I've never seen such a poor reception for a novel before.

#462 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2015, 10:34 PM:

Addendum: I should mention that we've read three approximately-ninety-pages-each chunks of the book so far; chapters 1-15, 16-31, and 32-48. Feel free to jump in; the only rule is NO SPOILERS. You can free free to guess (indeed, you're encouraged to), but you can't spoil.

#464 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2015, 11:27 PM:

462
I gave somewhere around chapter 15 or so, although I did look at the last six or seven chapters, just to see if he could tie it up. (Space Opera!)

#465 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: June 11, 2015, 11:57 PM:

Cassy B @461 I lurked for some of The Goblin Emperor discussion. I had intended to participate, but couldn't keep to the "no spoilers" rule because every time I tried to read the chapters that were currently up for discussion, I didn't stop reading at the end of that section.

#466 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2015, 01:11 AM:

So, At the library last week, i picked up a whole load of books, including:
Ancillary Justice
Skin Game
The Deaths of Tao (with a few people bouncing off it in the absence of it predecessor, and because the Campbell is both for the person, not the work, and a two-year window, I reserved The Lives of Tao, which has since come in)
Ms. Marvel

and The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making as, I hope, a palate-cleanser and reward.

I also reserved the Three-Body Problem(of which I have read the first two and a half chapters via the Hugo packet. Complicated computer arrangement stuff has me disinclined to read full novels on computer at this time, though the short works are ok.)

Then I paused for lunch, during which I read the first chapter of Ancillary Justice.

After that, I stopped in the bookstore to pick something up for my elder son, and also ended up with Ancillary Sword, because that one chapter had me fairly sure I'd want them.

I also then decided to read Ancillary Sword without any further direct knowledge of book one, because I do care if it holds up on its own.

So far (2/3-3/4 through) the answer is yes. Good stuff. Not the Goblin Emperor, but I'd be ok if it won, and feel it a reasonable choice.

And yes, the pronouns take more time to discuss than to get used to, and take up a lot less headspace once in the story. and I do think in this case that 'she' was a better choice than 'he' OR inventing a new pronoun, because it's not remotely the same situation or thinking as that which leads contemporary non-binaries to want their own pronoun, but it needs a louder signal at the start than one would get with 'he'.

#467 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2015, 03:18 AM:

Sandy B. @459 "I have no attachment to any of this."

Eight Equally Deadly Words.

#468 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2015, 10:48 AM:

Cassy, #461: Would it still be okay for me to comment on the Goblin Emperor discussion? My contributions got waylaid by a busy stretch, and then I was late and the whole thing was over and I was hesitant to go back, but there was more I had wanted to say.

#469 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2015, 10:53 AM:

Lee @468, I'd love for you (and anyone else!) to comment on the Goblin Emperor discussion. And the Dark discussion. And the upcoming Three Body Problem discussion....

These discussions remain on the board; people are welcome to jump in days, weeks, months later. Honestly, the more, the merrier.

#470 ::: CN ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2015, 01:03 PM:

I picked up a Brad Torgerson anthology (Lights in the Deep), just to be fair and give the guy an honest reading.

It's actually not bad. You will need to make allowances for his prejudices, including the fact that many of his protagonists are members of the military, but the stories are competently written and the concepts behind them are innovative at times.

It's a shame he started all of this strife. He's actually not a bad writer. Are any of these stories Hugo material? No, they don't quite reach that level, but given that it's still early in his career he could certainly improve. However, he's poisoned the well enough that he has more-or-less removed himself from future consideration.

It really doesn't have much to do with the Nielsen Haydens, or the SJWs or the evil liberals. These are convenient excuses for him. But what it really comes down to is that his stuff isn't quite good enough. And rather than face this and try to improve (HARD!) he's decided to attack the straw men he's created instead.

#471 ::: cantabridgian poet ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2015, 12:07 AM:

Lee @455: it is actually mentioned! They go see the ice and it's being packed in buildings in dry straw. I immediately thought of Farmer Boy, which is where I first encountered the idea.

Of course, I couldn't get past the complete erasure of female personhood in Flow (or, actually, many of the other works I've plodded through so far). I suppose that if it's a single part of a larger arc they might possibly introduce someone, but I'm dubious. In the meantime it suffered dramatically from the Fiction Rule of Thumb (https://xkcd.com/483/).

I was surprised to find myself almost enjoying The Plural of Helen of Troy. But then, time travel is a weakness of mine, and it certainly isn't Hugo-worthy.

#472 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2015, 02:24 AM:

I also found "Helen" to be surprisingly readable. It had a really nifty setting and some decent handling of time-travel complexities (although I found the concept of a "hardened memory" a bit tough to swallow), and for the first part of the story Wright's misogyny didn't get too much in my way. It kind of fell apart at the end, though.

#473 ::: Will McLean ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2015, 09:56 AM:

One of my objections to "Helens" is that the narrative voice kept shifting between hard-boiled noir and John C. Wright.

#474 ::: Elyse ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2015, 10:50 AM:

I just finished reread number 'lots' (probably 7 plus or minus 1, I've lost track) of Goblin Emperor and was struck again by how compressed the time scale is. The story takes place over the course of a single season: roughly from the first unusually early snow to the first spring rains. The coronation was the 24th, so possibly late October to early March?

Considering how much progress Maia made in such a short time, he is going to be one hell of an impressive emperor when he's had a few years to really ramp up and stabilize. He is clearly a VERY quick study -- there just isn't time for a lot of the weekly dinners with Catherine of Aragon and history lessons with Lord Berenan that he used to come up to speed.

The other thing that struck me this time around is that we are clearly getting a distorted view (since it is all from Maia's perspective) of how the government works, and how it is supposed to work. I somehow doubt that Verenechibel IV would have bothered with politicing if he wanted the Witnesses/Cabinet/Privy Council to view a presentation by the clocksmiths about a bridge.

But I also wonder what the function of the Parliament is, beyond sending a representative to the Witnesses. I assume they are involved in taxation -- that seems to be where parliaments come from.

The Empire seems to run on jurisdictional ambiguities and limitations.

#475 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2015, 11:58 AM:

Fiction as a whole works in compressed time, it's the nature of the beast. What historically will take years, even decades, will tend to happen in months or weeks in a book, and a week or less in a movie.

The difference in time scale between Stardust the novel and the film is one of the most blatant demonstrations of this, but even the timescale in which people fall in love IRL vs. fiction fits -- though inevitably when that's pointed out, someone will show up who really did fall in love with their lifelong partner within days.

#476 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2015, 04:31 PM:

Elyse @474 "The Empire seems to run on jurisdictional ambiguities and limitations."

Don't they all?

#477 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2015, 08:03 PM:

Elyse, #474: Maia is indeed a quick study. He's ignorant, not stupid; he makes mistakes, but rarely the same one twice. Furthermore, he's willing to draw on other people's expertise (unlike some recent Presidents I could name), and he absolutely lucked out by landing Csevet as his personal secretary when he first arrived, because Csevet knows almost everything there is to know about Court politics and procedures.

#478 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2015, 08:05 PM:

Oops. Mistyped my website link the first time, and didn't catch it in preview.

#479 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2015, 08:26 PM:

Lee, Maia liked Csevet from their first meeting, when Csevet is the messenger from the court; Maia literally doesn't know anyone else but Setheris, and (understandably) doesn't want to deal with him.

#480 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2015, 08:33 PM:

P J Evans (479): Right, but Maia is indeed fortunate that Csevet is both knowledgeable and honest, as well as friendlier than Setheris. (That last is a very low bar, to be sure!)

#481 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2015, 09:25 PM:

Re: Csevet being knowledgable and reliable... While I don't have the book at hand to name names, I recall that when the department in charge of dispatching couriers was getting a housecleaning, Csevet specified that while the person officially in charge was indeed corrupt, there was someone below him who effectively ran the courier service who was quite reliable.

Someone elsewhere pointed out that this much more reliable person is probably who decided which courier, exactly, would be sent out to deliver that very important message to Maia. And a very reliable person such as that might in fact choose a courier who was intelligent, knowledgable, observant, and reasonably amiable, for several reasons. If you're not sure who the new emperor is going to be, you certainly don't send a lousy courier out to deliver the most important news of his life.

I like to think about this sometimes as a very subtle, quiet justification for part of how Maia happened to meet particularly useful people early on.

#482 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2015, 09:26 PM:

Mary Aileen @ #480

But Setheris has been useful in hardening Maia against all the people trying to take advantage of him.

Like Breq, Maia is a Social Justice Warrior, albeit one with rather more power (due to his position), they are both determined to DTRT.

I have now read the Best Novel nominees and the initial verdict of this moose is:

1) Interlude with Tea
2) Fantasy Bureaucracy (with a side-order of Steampunk)
3) TTBP with seriously improbable physics
4) Noah Ward

Ancillary Sword continues to be brilliant and thought-provoking, more detail is added and you discover just how nasty the Radch society actually is (it's possibly worse than you can imagine (initially)). TGE reads a bit like Jack Vance, the worldbuilding is there but not the cynicism, plus Maia is genuinely likable as a character and you desperately want him to succeed "Go study the stars - M" (!). TTBP shows a society possibly as nasty as the Radch but this moose bounced fairly hard off the physics and plotting.

Will reread AS and TGE repeatedly, AS because I keep finding more hidden detail in it, TGE because the story and characterisations are beautiful and it's a joy to dip into. TTBP will get re-read a couple of times to make sense of the plot, but it's less immediately likeable than the other two, Skin Game doesn't excite me at all.

#483 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2015, 09:32 PM:

482
TBP - the physics is silly, but the game (and its interface) is interesting, and makes up for a lot of the faults.

It's clearly not something from a western author, though. The social assumptions are quite different.

#484 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2015, 09:40 PM:

Fade Manley (481): I like that one! Headcanon accepted.

#485 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2015, 10:24 PM:

Fade, #481: Good point! I'd been thinking that the choice of Csevet as the official courier was an example of sheer luck*, but that's another factor which could definitely have been part of it.

Csevet is certainly ready from the start to offer his loyalty to the new emperor -- in contrast to a lot of people, such as Chavar, whose primary loyalty was still given to the memory of Varenechibel -- and the fact that Maia is indeed a decent person wins him quickly over to being (as Maia thinks of it in a different context) one who serves with his heart as well as his mind.

Moose, #482: Will reread AS and TGE repeatedly, AS because I keep finding more hidden detail in it

I think you'll find that The Goblin Emperor also has that level of hidden (or extrapolatable) detail with further reading. I keep finding things I hadn't thought about before, and I'm on about my 15th re-read.

* And a recognition on the author's part of the role that luck plays in our lives, although a lot of people don't like to admit it.

#486 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2015, 11:19 PM:

I will confess that I went and ordered a copy of The Goblin Emperor. I had to return the copy I read to the library, and then discovered I wanted to go back and re-read it.

#487 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2015, 09:56 AM:

On re-reading The Goblin Emperor: The first time I read TGE, I liked it* but didn't expect to want to re-read it. A few months later, I checked it out of the library again for a re-read. Then I bought the ebook. I've just finished reading it again for at least the fourth time. Lee is right; it keeps unfolding.

*and recommended it to several co-workers who read fantasy

#488 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 08:32 AM:

For anyone interested, The Dark Between The Stars discussion on Compuserve crashed and burned due to a universal disdain (I won't go quite so far as to say "dislike") for the novel. Too many point-of-view characters, and nobody cared about any of them. In all my years of moderating book discussions, I've never before seen the readers vote to stop reading the book before we reached the end.

Therefore, a discussion of The Three Body Problem will be starting on Compuserve on Saturday. Here is a link to the discussion schedule. Anyone interested in joining the discussion who needs help logging in can email me at (rot-13) pnffl@obbxjlezr.pbz and I'll be happy to assist.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled thread, already in progress...

#489 ::: Rail ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 09:30 AM:

I think the most common attribute of the slated works I've tried so far, long and short, are that the characterization flat-out sucks. The writers themselves want to claim it's their politics or their religion, but it's really about the Eight Deadly Words.

I have a vague memory, I think from the GEnie days, of a discussion of four doors one can access a story through. Which door you use is important to figure out what other stories to recommend. I'm pretty sure two of the doors are character and plot. The others may be setting and prose? Does this sound familiar to anyone?

#490 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 10:38 AM:

I managed to coax a reasonable conversation out of my Puppy the other day. I opened with the assertion that the stuff on this year's slate is dismal crap. He replied that most Hugo nominee lists look like dismal crap to him. I asked for an example.

"That dinosaur story."

"What about the writing in the dinosaur story was bad?"

"It was bigoted."

"Leaving aside the content [grits teeth] what about the writing was bad?"

"It was gimmicky."

"Like stunt writing."

"Yes! Stunt writing."

"Ok, so John C. Wright..."

*inarticulate sounds of pain*

"He has five pieces on this year's ballot!"

At which point the Puppy changed the subject and began complaining that our one remaining book store doesn't carry anything he wants to read in its SF/F section. Which I will grant; their SF/F section is always shrinking, and is dominated by tie-in novels. He won't read those and he won't read fantasy, so his choices are extremely limited.

But then, so are mine. That's not politics; that's publishing and the price of paper.

#491 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 11:17 AM:

Rail, #489: One of the things I note about those of us on this side of the Canine Crevasse is that we enjoy dissecting the books we read -- doing plot and character analyses, discussing the worldbuilding, and speculating about back-story and/or further events. That's half the fun of a really good book, for us.

I have a tentative hypothesis that the desire to do this is completely alien to the SPs and their allies; they just want the bare words on the page, read 'em and you're done. And what they want to see in those bare words is action -- worldbuilding and characterization are boring and a waste of their reading time. My partner goes a step further and says that they can't write a sympathetic character because that requires empathy and the ability to see thru someone else's eyes. I'm not so sure about that, but I don't think they would consider the Eight Deadly Words to be a condemnation, as long as enough Stuff Explodes in the book. And if that's the case, then the two sides of this argument are so far removed from each other that no meaningful dialogue is likely to be possible.

Sarah, #490: I would have asked for an example besides "the dinosaur story" -- which is the only one they ever bring up and which DID NOT WIN. I'll bet he couldn't provide one. It's like that one story has become the bête noire of the entire SP movement; they don't have other examples to offer because they can't think of any. I want more evidence than one story to support a claim that the Hugo ballots have been full of shit for years. There's generally at least one story on every Hugo ballot that I consider dismal crap -- that's the nature of an award chosen by popular submission!

#492 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 02:15 PM:

Lee @491, the problem is, though, a lot of the Pup Fiction is as deficient in action as it is in plot and characterization... and a lot of the non-Puppy stuff has all the virtues they claim to admire.

I mean, Ann Leckie's books have space battleships, gunfights, an evil galactic empire and all that sort of thing - you can't just ignore all that, surely, just because Oh Noes The Pronouns Have Girl Cooties? Wesley Chu's "Tao" books don't have unusual pronouns, and they do have gunfights, commando raids and slam-bang kung-fu action all the way. Heck, even that Thomas Olde Heuvelt story has people falling into the sky, a predatory pervert on a paraglider, and reckless endangerment of a goldfish going for it.

Whereas on the Puppy side we have things like "Flow", where exciting things may possibly happen in the next instalment... we have Kary English and her dead protagonists... we have that Lou Antonelli story where every source of possible conflict is removed in the first few paragraphs... and we have the non-stop galaxy-busting action of John C. Wright. Certainly, some of the stories feature rapid-moving action - but not nearly as many as the Puppy rhetoric led me to expect.

It's consistent, bluntly, with the Puppy authors being part of a small supportive clique - once you're in that "in" group, you have the official Puppy seal of approval and you write exciting Golden-Age-style SF... even if that's not what you actually write. From where I sit, it doesn't look like any kind of consistent literary movement - it looks like a clique of friends bigging each other up. Regardless of content, as well as quality.

#493 ::: Rail ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 04:25 PM:

Lee @491: I don't have to go as far as dissecting, just ask the simple questions "Do I like this character? Are they interesting enough to want to have a conversation with them if we could meet over a beer?"

Steve Wright @492: Wasn't it Antonelli who bitched that he couldn't sell his story because it was "about faith"?

#494 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 09:01 PM:

Lee @491: re: "Eight Deadly Words"

Thank you for introducing that phrase/concept into my vocabulary. It captures perfectly why I bounce off of a lot of popular works, like Breaking Bad. How have I missed it before now?

#495 ::: Tamlyn ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 09:13 PM:

I, too, gave up on The Dark Between The Stars. I hate giving up on books, but... at one point in an early chapter, we were in danger of having some action (an accident outside the ship, losing oxygen... I think). So we pushed that aside with two lines and made sure we buried it in exposition about the evil wife.

I'm enjoying The Lives of Tao - it's fun - but I really dislike the MC. He has no interest in anything other than pizza (and whinging). I mean, it mentions he likes video games at one point, but then I see no evidence of this. He just thinks about pizza some more.

(Completely unrelated: I had pizza the other day for the first time in ages. It was kind of disgusting. I need to have better pizza next time I break my pizza drought, obviously.)

I've had a look at the artwork, both pro and fan. There was a short discussion upthread about the pro stuff, but I wouldn't know skill or technique when it comes to artwork if it jumped up and down on top of me. I can only go ooh, pretty or meh. I really like some of the stuff that has been dismissed as lacking in skill. One of Kirk DouPonce's didn't work for me until I saw it as a book, and with the title in place it clicked in how lovely it was and how well-arranged. Overall I will probably have to vote based on who has more that makes me go ooh, pretty, and whether it hits me as much as a few pros who aren't on the ballot.

#496 ::: Rail ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 09:20 PM:

Tamlyn @495: So we pushed that aside with two lines and made sure we buried it in exposition about the evil wife.

Why am I reminded of Laurell K Hamilton and her werewolf Richard?

#497 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2015, 10:30 PM:

@495 I put Lives of Tao down for exactly the same reason. The MC read like an insult to nerd boys. Never in my life have I met someone who was actually, genuinely that much of a useless one-note geek. (sarcasm) Also, making fat people run is totally good for them and won't ever blow out their knees or do any other lasting damage (/sarcasm)

#498 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2015, 05:32 AM:

Rail @493 - I think Lou "I don't know if I'm in the top 100 SF writers" Antonelli is quite likely to feel that way. (Anything rather than admit that no, he's not in the top 100, and has a way to go before he's even in sight of them.)

Regarding the "Tao" books... I found it easy enough to identify with the protagonist (which probably says quite a lot about my own self-esteem issues), and he does develop as the books go on. In fact (rot-13'ed because it's a spoiler), ol gur guveq obbx, ur vf noyr gb qb nyy gur Gnb-raunaprq ehaavat-nebhaq naq xhat-sh fghss jvgubhg univat Gnb gb uryc uvz bhg - naq gb unir uvf bja bcvavbaf naq uvf bja ntraqn jura vg pbzrf gb gur nyvraf va trareny.

These books aren't great literature... and, after a while, all the martial-arts fights scenes start to get a bit same-y... but they had enough going for them to hold my interest, anyway.

#499 ::: Rail ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2015, 09:24 AM:

Steve Wright @498: It's become a Thing, repeated ad nauseam lately, that stories about faith don't sell. I'd love to track down the source.

I have a strong suspicion that what actually doesn't sell are poorly-executed allegories, thinly-veiled conversion testimonials, and just-so stories, with a rank topping of "it doesn't count unless it's my brand of Christianity", which would leave Bujold and the subtle musings in Ancillary Justice out as well.

The Tao books, well, hmm. I'm more interested in the worldbuilding than the characters, and that's been enough to keep me coming back so far. I'm burned out enough on the slate stories that I'm not sure I want to try the other Campbell nominees.

#500 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2015, 10:43 AM:

Rail @499: As it happens, one of my main objections to "On a/the Spiritual Plain" (I've seen both variants of the title, and don't know which is right) is that its narrator's faith is not important - the story and the setting are constructed so that his faith finds no challenges of any kind. It's stated that he's a Methodist, but it would make no difference if he were a Catholic, a Zoroastrian or a complete atheist.

I remain convinced that the problem here is not "faith doesn't sell" but "boring stories don't sell".

#501 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2015, 11:35 AM:

Yes, the idea that 'On the Spiritual Plain' is about faith is weird: faith is hard to define, but it's at least fairly widely agreed that established scientific facts are not objects of faith, and that's what the existence of 'souls' is in that world. I still feel that SFF on religious themes - and probably SFF by religious believers, though that would be harder to verify - is more prominent now than in the Golden Age. (People at the time were not sure that Lewis belonged to the genre, and Tolkien definitely did not.)

I think we should be careful, by the way, about attributing too much unity to the Puppies; it's an alliance, brought together by circumstances, and while they (the organisers, not necessarily the nominees) are all in some way conservative, they needn't mean all they want the same things. So some of them no doubt want action, but it needn't follow that they all do. John C. Wright in particular comes from a different tradition from some of the others; it's notable that he is very ambivalent about Heinlein, whom others hold up as an icon, and (reasonably enough, from his point of view) is critical of the Golden Age's attitude to religion.

#502 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2015, 11:48 AM:

It struck me that if I'm committed to not voting for Wright, Kratman or Antonelli, I could get through a couple of categories pretty quickly. I should probably look at their work at some point, to see if they deserve any particular order below No Award (and I've already checked out bits of Transhuman and Subhuman, which I think contains some true statements) but for the moment I'm ignoring them. So: Novellas. There is just one novella.

'Flow': Well, I'm afraid there are a lot of problems with this. First, it is series fiction, and doesn't really contain a resolution of its own (though at least it's explained what happened in the prequel). Secondly there's its presentation of women;, why, in any case, are they called wen? I thought perhaps that because Rist's species was not exactly human, the female members of his race were not properly called women, but then he has no problem calling the male members of his race men, so that won't work. Finally, it appears from an interview with the author that it is an anti-global-warming piece. It does not have to be read that way: it could be that though the world is now getting warmer it will get colder again at some point in the future (and the way humans have evolved suggests it's a very distant future); or you could just say it's set in a universe where the world does get colder, no matter what it's doing in our universe. But that, it seems, is how the author intended it.

So while I thought that two short stories were OK, I don't find any satisfactory nominees in the other short fiction categories.

#503 ::: Aaron ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2015, 04:58 PM:

For anyone who is interested, here's my review of the September 2014 issue of Analog. This is the issue that Championship B'tok appeared in.

#504 ::: Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2015, 06:07 AM:

@501: sans exposure to the text, a charitable interpretation is that calling women women is treating men as the default and wo-men as a variant - by using men and wen the author is not privileging one or the other. OTOH, that is not an attitude normally associated with those in favour of more global warming, so perhaps it's a dig at "political correctness'.

Wen is also a word with some current usage, but if it was selected in full knowledge of current usage that would imply misogynistic intent; I'm charitable enough to presume ignorance.

#505 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2015, 12:08 PM:

I can't find a publication date on this. If it's from this year, I think it's a deserving entry for Best Graphic Story for 2016. Does anybody else know?

#506 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2015, 05:55 PM:

I write a fairly lengthy comment about the Best Related nominees, and when I pressed 'preview' the site disappeared. (I'm glad it has returned; clearly I have not destroyed it.) Here, hopefully, is a shorter version.

(Ignoring Wright and Antonelli for the time being.)

'The Hot Equations': a perfectly decent but unexciting essay. (I also don't like the trend of nominating short essays for this award.)

'Why Science is Never Settled': makes many valid (though unoriginal) points, but I don't think it's very well argued. Also, as well as the global warming denialism, it takes an odd line on evolution; apparently acceptance of this as a scientific theory can be reconciled with religious faith because science is not concerned with truth, only usefulness. (Roberts seems not to consider the possibility that some religious beliefs might actually be compatible with the truth of evolution.)

Wisdom from My Internet: many people have commented on the contents of this work, but I was struck by the introduction, where Williamson says that he objects to the Hugos because they require 'both a poll tax and a literacy test'. Now, I think the 'poll tax' thing is completely misconceived, but I understand how he got that idea. But a literacy test? He objects to people being required to read in order to vote on a fiction award?

#507 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2015, 06:10 PM:

506
Maybe he objects to having to read anything that comes in pieces longer than 140 characters?

#508 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2015, 06:46 PM:

Andrew M @506

That single sentence makes the inclusion of this "thing" (I am not going to call it a work or writing or whatever because it does not deserve either classification) ironic. It is against anything that the slates runners said they are trying to achieve. Oh well. That might be the new type of logic we had been seeing lately.

PS: I think he is complaining about the fact that people are using words outside of a predefined number of words (would it be called in English? pre-college? 8th grade vocabulary?). Why would you use 3 synonyms, archaic words, words that are rarely used or anything like that when you can go with the simple words? But then who knows... maybe he really has issues with the need to actually read in order to vote. (I cannot see how you can do it otherwise but well... maybe I am missing a way)

#509 ::: Edmund Schweppe ::: (view all by) ::: June 18, 2015, 07:44 PM:

Andrew M @506, Annie Y @508: Presumably, if he's concerned about "literacy tests" keeping worthy items off the ballot, he'll be nominating Randall Munroe's Thing Explainer next year. (Remember Upgoer Five? This will be the book-length version, but still only using the ten hundred most common words.)

#510 ::: Rail ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2015, 08:05 PM:

'both a poll tax and a literacy test'

Um, guys? He's explicitly invoking Jim Crow here.

#511 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2015, 10:38 AM:

Yes, we know. The question is, how does he think it's relevant to the present case?

#512 ::: Rail ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2015, 12:24 PM:

We're rather international here, so I wasn't going to assume that a stock phrase like that would be clear to everyone. :)

"You can't nominate/vote for the Hugos unless you can interrogate a text from the proper perspective" or some such.

If you want something literal.

#513 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2015, 01:48 PM:

I can interrogate Williamson's text just fine, from any perspective. And it's got nothing to say for itself.

#514 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2015, 04:23 PM:

Andrew M@511

I suppose there's a possibility he's trying to suggest that since we're fine with a "poll tax" and a "literacy test" for the Hugos than we should be fine with them for elections.

#515 ::: Rail ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2015, 05:32 PM:

Not texts, voters. "The barriers the SJWs have put up between our silent majority of SF fans and voting is the Hugos is just like Jim Crow!"

Just another variant on the "just like slavery/apartheid/Holocaust" that seems to be a standard thing these days.

The Anne Rice paraphrase was a joke about the kind of literacy test he might think is being required.

#516 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2015, 05:38 PM:

If I recall correctly, it came up in an earlier Making Light Hugo thread that ”Wisdom from my Internet" was satire that fell victim to Poe's Law, for what it's worth.

#517 ::: Rail ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2015, 05:56 PM:

Michael I @514: Nah, he immediately follows that with a call for "making the Hugos votable by all fans inclusively".

My guess is that he wants an online fan vote like the one for the All Star roster that has Major League Baseball in an uproar.

Naomi Parkhurst @516: I recall seeing that somewhere. After his recent tweet, I don't think I'm willing to give him that benefit of a doubt.

#518 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2015, 06:05 PM:

Rail at 517

Oh, that was the same person? Ew. Yeah, I agree with you.

#519 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2015, 12:48 AM:

My recollection is that the joke was calling the self-publishing house "Patriarchy Press". From the first 20% of the book, I'd argue that it's targeted squarely at the folks who'd think calling your self-publishing house "Patriarchy Press" was hilarious.

(And yeah, that tweet was vile. "Too soon?" Dude, the year 2100 would have been too soon.)

#520 ::: Aaron ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2015, 10:31 PM:

I'm continuing my reviews of issues of Analog. This time it is October 2014, which doesn't have a Hugo-nominated story in it, but comes in between a collection of issues that do. It turns out that this year, not having a Puppy-backed Hugo-nominated story actually makes an issue better overall.

#521 ::: Arioch(7) ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2015, 10:50 AM:

Probably way too late to be coming in on this, but I only finished TBP yesterday so was holding fire on even reading these threads...

Dave Langford writes:


I liked The Three-Body Problem despite some Oh Dear, The Physics caveats. I loved The Goblin Emperor and keep thinking wistfully that it would be fun to reread....

With my background, unfortunately the moments that were not "oh dear the physics" were "OMG the maths" or "OMFG the writing". And except for a viewpoint character who was completely morally repugnant, the characters were an insult to good quality cardboard.

Yes, I gave some leeway for translation w.r.t. the writing, demo OTOH I am familiar with translation writings from various languages and under the not-unreasonable assumption that the translator was not apallingly incompetent, this was just not good enough IMNHAOO.

I got all the way to the end, but sadly it has to be below Noah Ward. It's just me, but the ideas I found not terribly interesting, and the execution thereof botched.

I just cannot understand how so much bollocks maths let alone nonsense physics concepts were thought to be a good idea (by the author) to put into this. Honestly, a previous poster's "anti-syntax drive" was more believable! (and yes, the fact that the 3-body problem had 4 or 5 bodies did not help).

In comparison to TBP, although I did not like the previous Jim Butcher novel I read, reading the excerpt of Skin Game after TBP was much less irritating. Ok I admit, it was still irritating in places, but a lot less.

As I suspect many others, I'm weighing up TGE vs. AS for the top spot. Current thinking is AS was more interesting, but TGE was pretty good in places (faint praise a specialty here!).

#522 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2015, 11:33 AM:

I certainly hope this discussion is not over, since I still have things to comment on, and I guess we are all still reading stuff.

Novels:

I'm a bit puzzled by the nomination of Ancillary Sword: it seemed to me that AJ did some exciting new things and breathed life into some old things, and AS - does more of the same. Of course, if you take 'best' literally, it's not improbable that the best novel in successive years will be from the same series, but it seems to me that we often expect a Hugo winner to do something distinctive, and I'm not sure that this does that.

I loved The Goblin Emperor, and I'm not entirely sure why. I am not wholly convinced by the arguments I've seen about it doing something interesting and significant; it is certainly an antidote to grimdark, but it's not as if everything else were grimdark, so just what makes this stand out? But it is certainly a beautifully crafted work.

I don't have all the problems with The Three Body Problem that some readers have, because I have never been attached to the view that science fiction is about the possible; I see it as being about things which (within the world of the story) can be grasped by scientific study. So I'm prepared to say 'OK, the science in this book is odd'. I thought it a fascinating story, and I will certainly read the sequels (which, from rumours I have heard, take us to a very different setting). I did think it was very cold; Arioch mentions the viewpoint character, but I'm not sure there is a viewpoint character as we would normally understand the term. There are two characters who are 'viewpoint' in that we see what they see, but I felt that the author was always very much standing outside their head looking in; the whole story is told in what sounds like an impersonal voice. I also felt it don't exactly come together; the Cultural Revolution is interesting, in a horrifying way; the game is interesting; the three body problem itself is interesting; but somehow they don't make up an effective whole.

I read the provided sample of Skin Game, and a similar amount of The Dark Between the Stars. Neither inspired me to go further. I can see that Skin Game might be engaging if one were already familiar with the characters, but the story was not sufficiently exciting in itself.

And has it stuck anyone that while the Trisolarians have infinite problems owing to the fact that they have three suns, the Ildirans sit happily in the light of seven?

#523 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2015, 11:40 AM:

*struck.

Semiprozines:

I liked what I read of all of these, though on the whole I liked the non-Puppy ones better. A curious thing is that the two Puppy nominees, Abyss and Apex and Andromeda Spaceways... (which I believe were both nominated without their consent) appear only on the SP list; Day left them out. Normally he only added to the list, or made substitutions when it was full, so this is quite striking; has anyone any idea why?

I noticed that quite a lot of the stories in Lightspeed were reprints: is this common? And that issue includes a story/essay by Ursula K. Le Guin which may explain the misprints and grammatical oddities in some of the Puppy nominees.

#524 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2015, 11:54 AM:

Andrew M.: I too hope this conversation isn't over yet! So here's my two cents.

What Ancillary Sword does that I find "new", in a loose sense--because generally I don't vote on Hugos based on originality, but execution, but I do think this was doing something different than the first book--was take on empire in a way that highlighted its interconnected complexity without going to the conclusion a lot of books that do that end up with: "Well, it's all fucked, can't do anything!"

We've got plenty of evil empires out there in fiction. And we have complex empires. And we have empires so oppressive and tangled up in systems of oppression over time that the narrative concludes there is no escape from it, and people suck, and we are going to stand around in the mud stabbing each other because that's what humans do. Ancillary Sword takes on multi-layered oppressive systems with complexity and nuance, and goes, "Well, hell, there is no good solution to this...but that doesn't mean it's right to not try to fix it anyway."

And it does some really interesting things with the concept of the outsider narrative. Breq is profoundly core to the concept of Radch Empire, being originally something constructed as a tool for expansion, in a way that even regular human officers aren't, and yet she is profoundly outside it, having been inhuman in a way no one else in the story ever was. (The Presger diplomat being the closest to that, and, well. That's another line of conversation.) And so in a sense she's set up to be the Stranger Hero archetype: she shows up in a complicated situation, and from an outside perspective, she can cut through all those confusing prejudices and fix things.

And yet she doesn't. She cannot just fix things, even with the powers she has. And the problem is not lack of power, but a lack of a single clear solution. And yet--and this is the bit that I really love the book for, in this particular line of things--this does not mean that she's subverting the archetype, and is an example of how strangers coming in from the outside just fuck things up worse by trying to be lone heroes. She does effect some change for the better. Some of it is for the worse. She makes a difference, and she tries, and she learns things, and other people learn things by the fact that she's even willing to try. And some people learn nothing at all, which is how it goes, because you can only lead the horse to water.

Now, on the Goblin Emperor, a lot of my discussion of the cool things it was doing were already earlier in this thread, so if you don't find those work for you, that's fine. Not going to recap those ones. But overall, a lot of what I find inspiring in both these books is, ah, thematic, for lack of a better word. New setting bits and plot choices and character types are always a lot of fun to read about, but what pushes a book from good to great for me is what it does with its theme.

#525 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2015, 12:25 PM:

I think the big advantage of The Goblin Emperor is that it's not just not grimdark, it's *anti* grimdark.

#526 ::: cantabridgian poet ::: (view all by) ::: July 02, 2015, 11:54 PM:

I'm not finding The Three-Body Problem to be particularly gripping, either. Maybe it's cultural differences, or the narrative style, but I'm skimming a lot when I do sit down with it (and I'm not doing so very often).

#527 ::: Arioch(7) ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2015, 10:03 AM:

Ah, there is life after all... splitting this into separate messages a bit...

Yes, I certainly realise that others found something interesting in TBP. To me, that is more puzzling (and interesting) than the book itself. Is it cultural differences? Impossible to say, but that content in any language I would find hard to swallow. I've read about the Cultural Revolution before, so the opening parts were not hugely shocking, but I did find them more interesting than much of the rest.

AndrewM comments that I "mention the viewpoint character"; well actually that was *a* viewpoint character (not all of them), and I stand by my characterisation of moral repugnance. AndrewM further wonders that there are not viewpoint characters as we usually know them (viz someone you see inside the head of). Hmm, maybe so - I don't feel inclined to check. Old Norse sagas don't have viewpoint characters in that sense either (mostly the text is entirely lacking in expressions of what any character's thoughts are), yet those sagas are noted for their characterisation.

The "problem" (TBP) itself left me as cold as reading about someone trying to square the circle using astrological texts as a guide... it's like... why would anyone with that level of education be tilting at those windmills? It's supposed to be scientists that are doing this! And the numerical solution idea falls to the ground immediately not merely because the protagonists are in no position to take measurements to the necessary accuracy, but because like it's numerically unstable, man. Rounding errors mean you are on a hiding to nothing! No problem doing a short-term projection, but long-term? Forget it.

Narrative "style". I think you are right there, that (a) there is a style, and (b) it's not the kind we're used to. It's also not like other Chinese novel translations I've read. (I don't read Chinese directly.) It is always hard to tell with a translation, how much of the style is present as a conscious style in the original, and how much is the translator's attempt to convey the overall style (some of which is due to language). OTOH we are not judging the original Chinese novel, we are judging the translation, so if the style seems bad, well, that's how we should judge it.

(BTW I'm reading all of these on my <20minute commute, or late at night. OTOH if the story's not strong enough to overcome those slight impedimentia, tough.)

There were certainly interesting aspects to the story, and hints of interesting ideas, but. If there was not anything interesting at all I would not have been so annoyed by it, or indeed managed to get to the end. On the whole a failed story on multiple levels for me.

#528 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2015, 12:07 PM:

After thinking about this a bit more, I think the significant thing about AS and TGE may be that with both of them it's all in the details. A lot of significant works of science fiction and fantasy have a big science-fictional or fantastic idea which can be explained in a few brush-strokes; while with both of these, you need the whole thing to see what's special about it. With Leckie the big science-fictional idea has already been established in the previous book. With Addison there isn't exactly a big fantastic idea; it's set in a fantasy kingdom, with magic playing a significant role in the plot, but in explaining what it's about that's not the first thing to become apparent. This has given rise to the odd idea that it's not really fantasy; Alexandra Erin has a good article showing how wrong this is, but it's true that the fantasy doesn't leap out at you as it does in previous fantasy Hugo winners. (A boy who goes to a magical school. Two wizards and the rebirth of magic in England. A girl who grows up surrounded by fairies. Etc.)

I think perhaps the impact of TTBP is largely because it does have a big science-fictional idea, if not several; it may be this year's major big idea SF book.

#529 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2015, 12:48 PM:

Andrew M. (528): ... magic playing a significant role in the plot [in TGE]

Wait, what? TGE has actual magic in it? Where? I thought it was one of those rare fantasies without any.

#530 ::: PJ Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2015, 01:02 PM:

529
It's subtle: watch the mazas.

#531 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2015, 01:30 PM:

Mary Aileen, #529: Cala kills Eshevis Tethimar with a death-spell ("revethmaz"). And one of the things I love about the book is that it shows Cala suffering from stress after-effects a bit later on; even though using deadly force to protect the emperor is part of his job description, he still killed a man, and that doesn't sit easily with him.

During the clocksmiths' presentation to the Corazhas, Merrem Halezho ignites the burner under the steam-kettle with fire-magic.

Those are the only two direct examples I can think of; the rest of it is all by implication.

#532 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2015, 01:51 PM:

Oops, and I forgot -- Dazhis casts a sleep-spell to incapacitate Telimezh during the coup attempt.

#533 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2015, 02:02 PM:

PJ Evans, Lee: Oh, right. Thanks. Subtle, yes. Subtle enough that it didn't quite register with me, even though I did see all of those things. Also, the Witness (whose name I'm blanking on) learns things from communing with the bodies of those killed in the airship accident. That last one might count as a "significant role in the plot", even.

Okay, so I was comprehensively wrong. Not the first time, won't be the last.

#534 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2015, 06:31 PM:

Mary Aileen, those instances were treated with such dispatch that they slide right by -- many times a story will do a build up to the 'act of magic' -- TGE doesn't.

In the TGE universe magic is common -- it's the elaborate workings of a clock-work bomb that the characters have trouble getting their minds around.

I really want to know if Maia's people DO get that bridge built, and how his marriage goes.

#535 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 03, 2015, 07:41 PM:

Lori Coulson (534): I really want to know if Maia's people DO get that bridge built, and how his marriage goes.

Oh, so do I! I'm regarding "Edrihasivar the Bridge-Builder" as very hopeful on that point. And hoping that it refers to metaphorical bridges as well.

#536 ::: Dicentra rubra ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2015, 12:19 AM:

I hope this is a good place to ask:

The other day, my sweetie and I both received a series of several emails in a row, all ostensibly from Sasquan, each of them listing our voter ID and passwords, "at our request." But we never requested anything of the sort. Has this happened to anyone else that folks know of?

#537 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2015, 01:21 AM:

Dicentra rubra #536:

I assume someone's trying to hack the Sasquan PIN lookup page:
http://sasquan.org/hugo-awards/voting/

They only need your names & email addresses. But unless they have hacked your email accounts too, I wouldn't be too concerned.

#538 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2015, 02:11 AM:

Dicentra rubra @536: This is a reasonable place to ask, but you'll get a much better answer if you ask info@sasquan.org. It's been very responsive for everyone I know who's asked (and I'm a bit biased, because I am on the committee). The person monitoring it is really good about forwarding messages to the person who can answer them correctly.

#539 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2015, 11:47 AM:

Campbell:

This one is tricky. Last year there were two really outstanding candidates in Sofia Samatar and Max Gladstone. This year there doesn't seem to be anyone like that. I cast around before nominations closed in the hope of finding someone, and didn't see anyone likely. (I actually believe that, because of the special rules of the Campbell, Andy Weir is eligible for this, even though The Martian is not eligible for a regular Hugo. But no one seems to have noticed this.)

I read Wesley Chu's work last year, when he came third, and was not very impressed by it. I read the first few chapters of The Deaths of Tao this year, and am still unimpressed. (Did anyone notice the Quasing called Ramez, by the way? A callout to one of his rivals?) He seems to be getting better reviews this year, but I wonder if this is just because of the different contrast class. But his being the only non-Puppy makes things difficult: I don't know who, in a regular vote, I would be comparing him with. I wouldn't normally be moved to vote for him, but in a normal poll not voting for him would just mean putting someone else above him, while here it means putting him below No Award, which seems cruel.

Kary English is a decent writer, but her sample is rather thin and unvaried.

Eric Raymond's story is competent but dull. It appears to be his only relevant work, and is only marginally SF.

Nelson and Cordova are not competent. Nelson's story about weapons (which probably beats Torgersen's story last year for 'least interesting thing I have ever read') ends 'He added a name to his enemy's list'. His enemy's list of what? (See above on Le Guin.) I'm also not sure how we are meant to assess Cordova when his major work is co-written; and I have found some things on his Amazon page which make me wonder if he is eligible, though it's hard to verify.

#540 ::: Dicentra rubra ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2015, 02:02 PM:

Soon Lee and Tom:

Thank you for your comments. I did write to Sasquan and they gave me an answer right away. I will follow up with them about some details but I want to be sure to say thanks to you both.

#541 ::: Edmund Schweppe ::: (view all by) ::: July 04, 2015, 09:08 PM:

I've written up a summary of my reactions to this year's crop of Puppy-approved short fiction here. (The really short, short version: I read them all and found fatal flaws in almost every one; No Award gets my top vote in all three categories.)

In happier fictional news, I recently finished Mary Robinette Kowal's Of Noble Family, and enjoyed it tremendously. Fans of S. Morgenstern should pay careful attention to the bottom of page 247 (in the US hardback; for other editions, it'll be about a page or two before the end of chapter 16).

#542 ::: Arioch(7) ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2015, 08:40 AM:

AndrewM writes:


I loved The Goblin Emperor, and I'm not entirely sure why.

Hmm, I'm probably not entirely sure why either. At least, I have a feeling of what it is that I liked and why, but it's hard to put into words.


...beautifully crafted ... it's in the details

I certainly agree with that.

Estee writes:


I don’t think that The Goblin Emperor is about racism at all, as they seem to believe; I think it’s a thinly fantasized Ruritanian novel. Elvish prejudice against goblins seems to me more like plain old xenophobia (toward a neighboring country seen as a possibly hostile rival) than like racism or colonialism,

Well, I certainly did not think it was about racism, though IME there is a pretty thin line between racism and xenophobia. I admit the political setup did feel slightly strangely reminiscent of a certain modern empire whose emperor is not of the ruling race (though of the ruling class). But that aspect was a minor theme if it was a theme at all (maybe slightly inspired by); I thought that it was more “about” the standard “black sheep of the family returns” trope anyway.
I'm not really familiar with Ruritanian novels (I might have read one years ago and if so, found it rather boring; certainly unlike TGE).

I did find the character descriptions well done and thought-provoking in the main. The bumbling evil chancellor had a rather "written for comedy" effect though. The historical stuff was good background without overly imposing too.

The characters were generally believable and some (quite a few actually) were even likeable. Character development also nicely done. Anti-grimdark effect? I suppose so, though I think that's a bit overstated.

Fade Manley writes:


Laurence Brothers @102: most of the book is about the main character going to meetings


You say that like it's a bad thing!


*coughs* But, more seriously, part of why I love TGE is in fact that it's set within the official structure of a government, and despite all those books out there set in monarchies and what not, I so very seldom see any that deal with the actual official nitty-gritty of that.

Yes, this. And not just as verisimilitude, but actually how things got achieved. (Maybe I can learn a bit from that for my own committee meetings...!)

Also a certain amount of “winning” not by being more extreme than the opposition, or more emotionally overwraught, or more violent, but by caring enough to put in the hard organisational work.

Anway, as I said at the start, it's hard to put into words what it is that I liked about it. I probably need to reread it for that. But ahead of doing that in the queue ... is reading enough of The Drek Between The Stars (too long! too boring!) to rate it in its proper place...

#543 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2015, 11:49 AM:

The book can be very easily read as being about about racism-- Maia's skin is slate-gray, but he's brown on the cover.

I'm not sure what the line is between racism and xenophobia-- it's been long enough since I've read the book that I'm not sure, but I thought there was enough prejudice against goblins that it was part of Maia's problems.

#544 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2015, 01:14 PM:

Arioch(7) @ 542: "I'm not really familiar with Ruritanian novels (I might have read one years ago and if so, found it rather boring; certainly unlike TGE)."

The Prisoner of Zenda, et al.

#545 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2015, 01:47 PM:

To me, TGE's environment kept throwing me into a ancient China meets ancient Tibet...

The only reason I can come up with is the differences in religion, with Maia's mother's country emphasizing meditation and lighting candles.

#546 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2015, 03:24 PM:

I'm about 1/4 of the way into The Three-Body Problem, and I have to say that I've giving this book a lot more leeway than I would have a lot of others, both because it's a translation and because it's a non-Puppy Hugo candidate. It's a very slow read with what feels like way too much exposition, but I'm hoping that once I actually get into the action part of the story things will pick up.

#547 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2015, 04:23 PM:

Re: The Goblin Emperor

There's something going on in that society w.r.t. the elves and the goblins that's partly racism, but I think it's also tangled up with politics (people worried that with a goblin on the throne, the goblins to the south will take over) and religion (goblins have a somewhat different but broadly compatible religion. with different practices like meditation, but also sophisticated courtly types tend to disdain religion). Maia keeps noticing partly- or wholly-goblin people at court, some powerless, some quite powerful, like the nobles from the region of the empire that borders with the goblin lands.

I had the intuition (without any particular reason to think so) that the northern barbarians were humans, and wondered if the elves near their territory were interbreeding with them, too.

#548 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2015, 06:09 PM:

The Goblin Emperor

From the description of the northern barbarians, I agree they're human, and based on the Mongols.

#549 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2015, 06:59 PM:

albatross, #547: There does seem to be a lot of interbreeding between elves and goblins, and it's also quite clear that their genetics don't work quite the same way that ours do. It's not just the skin tones, but also the eyes -- full-blood elves, it is noted, have blue, green, or grey eyes, while goblins have variations on red, yellow, and orange, and we see descriptions of mixed-blood characters with skin tones ranging from very light to very dark and eye colors all over the map.

Re the Northern barbarians being humans, I hadn't considered that -- but it's certainly true that they're not the same race as elves either. And there's definitely been some interbreeding going on there as well, although at a guess at least some of it is by rape. Note that Nazhcreis Dein, the captured barbarian, is described as having long, sharp canine teeth, and then later Maia notes that Merrem Orthemo (the wife of the Guard Captain) does as well. There's also a curious throwaway line in there about how there were always people in the Badlands even before "gold was discovered and the Elves came", which suggests that the Badlands people might have been yet another race, separate from the barbarians.

#550 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 09, 2015, 02:40 PM:

One thing I've been thinking about wrt The Goblin Emperor (which I read about a week ago and am rereading now) is the way Maia's values and beliefs, as expressed in his actions and his internal dialogue, are quite close to what I'd think of as an average educated early 21st century American's values, rather than a reflection of his society. You can see places where he's differing sharply from his society's consensus, by how people react--especially Setharis on one side (giving you the view of an embittered conservative courtier) and Csevet on the other (giving you the view of an intelligent and decent person who has grown up around the court, without having family connections).

Now, this is really common in both historical fiction and fantasy, because a lot of the underlying beliefs that make sense in a fantasy or historical setting will make your characters really unsympathetic to modern readers. What's interesting in this case is that the author managed to make Maia's values feel very coherent, stemming from his particular experiences and his basic decency.

For example, when he decides to let his half-sister go study the stars (at least for awhile) rather than get married off for political advantage, that's a decision that all the readers would expect on moral grounds, but he makes it because of his own experiences, and the way his mother was treated by her father and his father.

#551 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2015, 08:31 PM:

For the most part, I really liked The Goblin Emperor, but there was one thing in it that completely unsuspended my disbelief for a few pages. There is no way a society that old and developed would not have a well-established rule for what happens to a bride-to-be when the groom dies between the signing of the contract and the wedding.

#552 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: July 10, 2015, 11:54 PM:

Chris - that was a significant plot point, that the betrothal had been a back-room deal, not publicly announced, and certainly not formally signed.

That's how Maia could get away with "my father left no written record of his intentions" (as opposed to hearsay from a faction).

#553 ::: Elyse ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2015, 12:11 AM:

"There is no way a society that old and developed would not have a well-established rule for what happens to a bride-to-be when the groom dies between the signing of the contract and the wedding."

The traditional solution was for the lady to enter a convent, but that felt too much like relegation to Maia, and since the traditional solution was customary rather than legal, he gave his late brother's not-quite-widow a choice. Not that it made much difference, as things turned out... she might have been better off in the convent.

#554 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2015, 12:22 AM:

Are we talking about the same woman? I don't have the book to hand, but I'm referring to the princess-pawn who would rather study stars than be married to anyone. It was presumed her betrothal would have been announced shortly after the docking of the unfortunate airship.

There was an actual widow of his half-brother who did turn out to be a nasty piece of business.

#555 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2015, 12:47 AM:

Chris is talking about Stano Bazhevin, who was betrothed to Maia's youngest half-brother Ciris; they had a signed marriage contract, but the wedding had not yet happened, which left her in a sort of legal limbo. Elyse is right that the traditional solution would have been to ship her off to a convent, but this was a matter of custom rather than law, which is why Maia could get around it.

Carol is talking about Maia's half-sister Vedero, whose marriage was being negotiated sub rosa because of some unspecified scandal/drama which had surrounded her older sister's engagement some years back. In this case there was not yet a signed marriage contract, which allowed Maia to repudiate the negotiations because they had never become official or even common-knowledge.

Shevean Drazharan is the widow of Maia's oldest half-brother Nemolis, and the mother of Prince Idra, who is Maia's heir unless/until Maia begets sons of his own. And yes, she is a piece of work.

The bit that made my eyebrows rise was the idea that the emperor and all three of his sons at court would travel to and from a major event elsewhere in the kingdom in the same vehicle. Had I been the one in charge of the travel arrangements, Prince Nemolis would have been either left behind or sent in a separate conveyance, for exactly this kind of reason. But then there wouldn't have been a story. :-)

#556 ::: Carol Kimball ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2015, 02:09 AM:

Thank you, Lee!

I knew I shouldn't have taken TGE back to the library this morning.

#557 ::: Tamlyn ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2015, 04:10 AM:

I had ordered both The Goblin Emperor and The Three Body Problem into my library, but some sort of admin error happened and that weren't reserved for me. Thankfully, they were still gotten in. I have one in my hand; if the other goes through processing in time, I might get that one too (I much prefer an actual book, but I do have the ebook in the package to fall back on).

I'm very much looking forward to The Goblin Emperor.

#558 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2015, 10:38 AM:

I love TGE on two distinct levels.

One is aesthetic: the controlled lushness of the prose (no Gygaxian overshoot and clumsiness here), the fascinating world, and so on.

The other really is political. I've commented on and off for a long time that Thatcher-Reagan-style movement conservatism seems to me heavy on appeal to people who are tired of being adults. They busily project a lot of their own wishes onto the rest of us - they want everything they do to be be right because they're the right people, they want everything handed to them as rewards for showing up without doing any of the work to earn it, they want to be free to get violent whenever they're upset without consequences for it, and on and on, and they want to be cheered on as the true, wise adults all the while while.

Maia is the anti-all-that. :) He really is adult in a way people like that cannot be. He - and the friends and allies he develops - stand for actually mature values, starting with self-discipline and reaching out to the world through honest inquiry, temperance, a healthy balance of prudence and enthusiasm, a respect for others and for traditions even when they're not so much fun or immediately rewarding. (And as someone noted in earlier discussion but I don't remember who or where it was, he integrates a traditional faith into the whole of his thinking and acting, neither surrendering to superstition nor isolating himself from the believing side of life.)

Maia is shaping himself into what I was raised to think of as a real gentleman. He has values I recognize and approve, and they guide his desires into actions I recognize and approve. It was a deeply wonderful experience to read of a hero's struggles that did not require any slaughter, nor justify a bloody siege or ruinous war. Rather, he triumphs because, wanting good things, he does good things, and he makes it worthwhile for others to do good things too.

I needed that, a lot.

#559 ::: Elyse ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2015, 11:11 AM:

Regarding travel arrangements:

It isn't clear how long airships have been in use. The Chancellor seems to have left travel by airship out of his plans when he notified Maia of his accession, or possibly not taken it into account completely. This suggests that they haven't been around long enough for older people to really internalize the differences they make in things like handling security for a royal journey.

Is an airship like a single coach that would be part of a larger caravan? Or is it like a whole caravan? What are the security considerations in either case? (Reactions seem to imply losses of airships are relatively uncommon.)

It is also possible that protocol trumped security to some extent -- if travelling by horse-drawn carriages, who shares the Emperor's carriage? Are there political implications if the Crown Prince does not? Have Emperors in recent generations travelled enough that there are actual protocols for travelling to a territorial Prince's wedding, or were the staff making it up as they went along even without the added variable of the airship?

It is probably safe to expect that Maia and Idra will never take the same airship, and any they do take will be inspected thoroughly for anomalous packages...

#560 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2015, 11:58 AM:

Lee @ 555 - it's entirely possible, of course, that having all three favoured sons on the same airship as the Emperor, ahh, means that the three people most likely to sabotage it... won't. At least, I could imagine Varenechibel thinking that way, and maybe bringing his favoured sons up to think that way, too.

#561 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2015, 12:19 PM:

As a footnote to my rave about TGE, I love that the one prisoner Maia speaks with late in the story does have a real point, and that Maia knows it. He doesn't get to be complacent, and that kind of touch is what elevates TGE for me from pure comfort reading to genuine excellence.

#562 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2015, 12:20 PM:

Elyse, #559: Maia says to Lord Pashavar during the clocksmiths' presentation that "our grandfathers" probably said many of the same things about airships that Pashavar is saying about the proposed bridge. This strongly suggests that airship travel has been around for a minimum of 2 generations, possibly more if he's being metaphorical.

I agree that it seems airship crashes are uncommon, but that's not really surprising; airships in our world were pretty reliable until the Hindenburg crash, and they could easily be put into use again if we chose to use helium instead of hydrogen as the buoyant material.

What does seem to have caught everyone off guard is the idea of assassination by sabotage rather than by direct attack. And that sort of thing, again, has parallels in our world; think about Columbine.

So that may be the reason behind what, to us, looks like an inexplicable lack of security precautions -- a combination of "airships don't crash" and "assassins attack directly".

#563 ::: Tamlyn ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2015, 08:27 AM:

I've realised how quickly the voting deadline is sneaking up on me!

I'm trying to navigate The Zombie Nation site for the graphic novel category and also just to see the art, and I'm struggling. How do I tell when book 2 starts? Is there a link anywhere or do I have to just go through the entire archive or...? I am sometimes very bad at websites, so I'm possibly missing the obvious. (I have noticed he doesn't edit his posts. A once off comment, sure, ignore the spelling errors - but in cast lists and the like?)

Any help from somebody who's already looked into the site would be lovely.

#564 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2015, 05:55 PM:

I couldn't find any clear indication of what part was nominated, either. My solution was to read from the beginning, to the end of 2014 -- and then to rank it last, below No Award, because it's awful. (I also ranked the Puppy nominees for Pro Artist, when otherwise I might have left them all off my ballot, just so that I could put Carter Reid last.)

If you want to give it a reasonably fair shake, you could read the first six months or so. If you find you like that, keep reading. Otherwise, stop. I'm here to tell you that it doesn't get significantly better or worse.

#565 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2015, 11:59 PM:

Tamlyn #563:
No idea where Book 2 starts either. I started reading from the beginning of January 2014 (the beginning of Hugo eligibility period) and lasted until March. There might be a narrative there, but I didn't find it. What I did read was (more than) enough for the purpose of deciding how to vote.

#566 ::: Tamlyn ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2015, 03:44 AM:

Thank you, both. I'll give it a go, but zombies aren't my thing so it'll have to be pretty brilliant to overcome that - and it sounds like it definitely doesn't fall into that category.

#567 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2015, 04:44 PM:

Lee and Steve:

Both of these seem plausible, along with the apparently pretty fearsome nature of Varenchebel. We never see him onscreen except in Maia's memory, but he doesn't come off as the type to allow his plans to be balked just because his advisors want him to make one of his favored sons take a separate airship.

Also, I think there's a difference in mindset here. We think in terms of having someone in the government offsite or flying by a different plane or something, because we also don't think the Secretary of Labor is going to try to engineer an attack that will wipe out the rest of the line of succession and put him in power. In a world like the one we see in _TGE_, I think most people would think *first* about that threat. In particular, the people whose responsibility is the Emperor's safety (his noncherei and other soldiers) are probably *not* thinking so much about continuity of the government. And what little we learn on Varenchebel doesn't leave me with a sense that he'd have put himself at *more* risk to put his empire at *less* risk.

#568 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2015, 01:28 PM:

I've finished reading and reviewing... might write a wrap-up post once my brain has vaguely recovered, but, basically, I'm done. However, a few little things have been rattling around my head and want to be let out:-

Tom Kratman
Should leave the writing to his military servant or batman,
Since no enlisted man would ever stoop so low
As to rip off a Bolo.

John C. Wright
Does not tell stories quite so well as one would expect that he might,
And the Vatican probably deserves an apology
For his theology.

Dave Freer
Eschews progressives both far and near,
And his analysis of why left-wing bias pervades SF's hallowed halls
Is a lot of balls.

Arlan Andrews
Should have tried to get a nomination without using some back-hand ruse,
Though the pace of his story "Flow"
Is rather slow.

... There would be more, but a) my tired brain can't come up with a decent rhyme for "Williamson", and b) the ghost of E. Clerihew Bentley seems to be knocking at my door now, and it looks like he and his baseball bat want to have an urgent word with me.

#569 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2015, 08:01 PM:

*sigh* The Three Body Problem had to go back to the library, and it did so unfinished. I found it to be a very uneven book; there were some sections that did catch my interest, but inevitably they broke off with a nearly-audible snap and the story abruptly went somewhere else, to look at characters I didn't care about. The level of what felt like unnecessary exposition was high, and at the point where I stopped (roughly halfway thru the book) it still felt as if we were in setup, with the main plot yet to begin, and not drawing closer with any speed.

I should note here that the first section (1/3 or thereabouts) of Ancillary Sword was also kind of slow for me, but there's slow and then there's glacial.

The occasional footnotes to explain things which would not have needed explanation to a Chinese reader reasonably familiar with their country's history were greatly appreciated.

I'm still cutting this book quite a bit of slack both for the different cultural background and because it's a translation -- and even with those two handicaps, I have to say that the prose quality is better than what I've seen in any slate nominee. That may sound like damning with faint praise, but it's intended as a commentary on the quality of slate works presumably written by native speakers of English. If the style of the translation is an accurate reflection of the prose style of the original, even more so.

OTOH, while I was at the library I put in a call/hold for Uprooted, which I look forward to reading with considerable anticipation.

#570 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2015, 09:37 PM:

569
I found TBP to be more interesting and faster moving than the Anderson novel. Which may be damning with faint praise, but is also true. (I made it through TBP twice, and bounced off Anderson twice.)

And to the footnotes: yes. (They didn't work well in the electronic version; I was glad to have borrowed it from the library for the first reading.)

#571 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2015, 11:04 PM:

I'm still thinking through some categories, but my best novel vote went to The Goblin Emperor, The Three-Body Problem, and Ancillary Sword, in that order. (Then No Award.) I can see Sword's real merits but the Ancillary series has some very trigger-y kinds of violence in it, and I'll take the book I can finish over the one I can't.

#572 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2015, 03:25 AM:

I had been finishing the novels (the last category I still have reading to do for) this week.

TGE... I liked it. I did not love it though. Part of the problem I think was the hype - everyone kept explaining how that is the best novel since sliced bread and so on which sent the expectations sky high. And even if some of those expectations were met, not all were. If I had read this book last year, before everyone and their mother started explaining how great the book is, I suspect I would have really loved it.

I actually had a bit of a problem in the first few hundred pages with Maia's gender - you see, Maia is a female name in Bulgarian. A popular one in my generation. So way too often it was slipping my mind that it is a male one here. (and no - this is not why I really did not love the book as much as everyone else).

I loved the world building. It is layered, it is fully realized and it is shown more than told. Which is not easy to pull off. Some of the story elements though... (why would Csevet be the courier when the Chancelor really do not like Maya from the start - and I am not buying that noone realized just how capable Csevet is)? It was needed for the story, it did happen but it was a bit too easy. I am not sure I can articulate what bothered me in the book really - maybe after I think a bit more on it.

Now reading TBP and I almost bounced from it the first time Wang went into the virtual world. I do not play games. Never did - it is just something I am not interested in. And that first passage is way too long and winded - it actually leads to a good story and the second time he went in, I enjoyed it but that first one... About halfway through and I actually kinda like it. Not enough for beating TGE off #1 (not yet anyway) but I am enjoying it.

#573 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2015, 10:03 AM:

Annie Y (572): Maia is a female name in English, too, although it's fairly uncommon. So I had a bit of the same trouble that you did with his name.

#574 ::: Michael I visits the gnomes (?) ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2015, 10:58 AM:

Although I'm not completely sure that I actually posted the message. I THINK I did, but...

#575 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2015, 01:05 PM:

Annie, #572: Maia would normally be interpreted as a female name here as well, though I've never known anyone with that name. In English, -a and -e are generally considered feminine name endings and -o a masculine one. ISTR reading something written by Tolkien (possibly in the extra material at the back of LOTR?) in which he said that in hobbit custom, -a was a masculine ending while -o and -e were feminine, and that Frodo would have been Froda had Tolkien not Anglicized the spelling. I remember thinking at the time that I would have had a lot of trouble adjusting to the name Froda being masculine.

TGE appears to follow a similar pattern -- a number of men with names ending in -a and women with names ending in -o -- but for some reason I didn't have any trouble with it at all. Perhaps in the interim I've been exposed to a wider variety of non-English nomenclature or something.

Re Csevet, someone noted upthread that it was probably not the Chancellor who initially assigned him to carry the message to Maia, but the man who was actually running the courier office. I can see Chavar making the offer to second him to Maia's service out of inertia -- he was there already, and it was easier than having to think about who to assign to Maia instead.

Csevet himself mentions, when he's telling Maia about the incident with Tethimar, that nobody takes much notice of the couriers as long as the messages get delivered -- they are basically considered to be interchangeable parts. If he had died of pneumonia on his way back from that incident, probably the most notice that would have been taken was to send another courier to collect the horse. This is not so different from the way the servant class has been perceived by a lot of historical cultures.

#576 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2015, 03:41 PM:

in hobbit custom, -a was a masculine ending while -o and -e were feminine, and that Frodo would have been Froda had Tolkien not Anglicized the spelling.

Bilbo and Frodo Baggins were really named Bilba and Maura Labingi. I think a lot of English-speakers would have had a heck of a time with "Maura" attached to a male character.

(Samwise Gamgee=Banazîr Galbasi, Meriadoc Brandybuck=Kalimac Brandagamba, and Peregrin Took=Razanur Tûc. Merry and Pippin got their LotR names because of their nicknames; "kali" means "merry, jolly" and "razar" means "small apple". But I think Sam's forename is a calque of the Westron meaning.)

#577 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2015, 04:44 PM:

Lee @575
Names on -a usually do not trip me - way too many historical figures with such names. But Maia is just very common and it was extremely popular when my generation was born - I have at least 10 friends named this way. It surprised me - I can read wrongly gendered Slavic patronymics without blinking or tripping on them but something here just went weird. Maybe because in this kind of stories it is often a girl that end up on the throne - especially a more modern versions (feminism taken to an extreme if you ask me) - so Maya being a boy was refreshing but my mind took a while to bend.

Csevet - so the guy that ended up the honest guy over there after all went wrong? That's actually not a bad explanation. I need to read the TGE opinions above - I had been skipping them last few weeks.

Meanwhile The Three-Body Problem unsnagged nicely for me and I really enjoy it at the moment.

#578 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2015, 05:58 PM:

There is a story, I think quite a famous one, in which on a newly-discovered planet all the women have names ending in -a, and none of the men do. This is significant.

#579 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2015, 04:06 PM:

Graphic Stories:

Well, the zombie thing can be ignored. I think there was a bit of a story, with interruptions, but nothing of interest. Also, there was a thing in April saying that Reduce, Reuse, Reanimate was coming off the press soon, so I guess the strips in that volume come from earlier, and were eligible (if at all) on the 'year in which it is completed' principle.

This is very odd. You might well argue - people have - that the Hugos do not effectively represent the world of comics. (Whether they ought to is another matter.) You might expect the Puppies to nominate some good old-fashioned superheroes. Instead all they could find was this. (They didn't nominate Captain America for Best DP either.)

As to the others; they are all series fiction, but that goes with the territory (though in fact three of last year's nominees were stand-alones). Three of them are Volume 1, though, so this is not too much of a problem for a new reader. None of them absolutely stand out for me as one that must win.

Sex Criminals I really liked, despite the weirdness. It's about a librarian! There are lots of really nice little things in it. Did people spot Jon and Suzie passing one another on Halloween? But I think the bit about the catman has yet to be explained.

Ms Marvel was quite nice. I can't really think of much to say beyond that.

Rat Queens I thought was rather thin, though I did like the joke about the dwarf beard. Is a Smidgen a recognised kind of magical creature?

Saga, as the only one that isn't volume 1, was a bit confusing. I think I managed to work out most of what was happening. But why are the respective governments so anxious to conceal Marko and Alana's relationship? And why was it so important to find Mr Heist?

#580 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2015, 07:27 PM:

I suspect a Smidgen is "a kind of magical creature which is quite definitely not a hobbit, in a very real and legally binding sense".

#581 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2015, 07:37 PM:

Apparently Carter Reid (the writer/artist of Zombie Nation) and Brad Torgersen are buddies. This explains why Reid is nominated for Professional Artist, too.

#582 ::: Tamlyn ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2015, 08:17 PM:

I finished The Goblin Emperor yesterday. I very much enjoyed it. It seemed to start slowly, but I'm not sure how much that was actual plot slowness and how much was me getting used to the style. I didn't struggle with the names at all (I know one Maya, female, but didn't have any issues with Maia being male), but it might have helped I already knew about the name list in the back of the book and could check it :)

It made me cry at one point. Damn books. Overall, even though people have spoken about Maia's decency, it was actually other characters being decent that got to me more. Like Idra's father probably being a decent person (I've forgotten his name). So often a protagonist will be surrounded only be bad people except for one or two (depending on the type of story, that might be the old cook in the kitchen, the hunky knight, etc :P). Some of those people might turn out to not be bad in the end... but it was really nice for Maia to have decent people around him from the start.

I was disappointed to reach the end, but I also would have been irked if it hadn't ended there. Everything had been wrapped up, the plots solved, and it needed to end. I was actually surprised to turn the page and find part five, but it didn't push it too far in wrapping up the final threads.

I rather liked the subtlety of the magical elements, though it did leave me confused as to whether Witnesses for the Dead actually spoke to the dead or if they were more like forensic scientists.

Overall, I don't know where it will go on my ballot yet, but it will be there. I've put some tentative numbers in in case I run out of time, but it's been a long while since I read Ancillary Sword, and I want to have a look at the excerpt first.

#583 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2015, 09:12 PM:

Tamlyn, #582: There are 2 classes Witnesses -- judicial and clerical. I'm pretty sure that judicial Witnesses are ordinary investigators of various types, of which forensic scientists might easily be one. It's fairly strongly implied that clerical Witnesses can in fact communicate with the dead, though perhaps imperfectly; in any case, the spirits/souls of the dead from the airship crash would not be likely to have had much information about its cause. But clerical Witnesses, by virtue of being clerics, are also capable of receiving direct communication from their deities in the form of visions, such as the one that told Celehar that his answers would not be found at Court and where to look instead.

And yes, Idra's father seems to have been a very different sort of person from the late emperor. I would enjoy reading an AU in which he survives (probably by not being on the airship, as discussed above) and comes to rule, and what would happen to Maia in that reality.

#584 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2015, 09:11 AM:

Steve Wright: Thanks. I notice there is an orc, though. Is 'orc' OK?

David Goldfarb: That makes sense, but they might still have nominated other things as well. (It strikes me that of the actual nominees the one that should most appeal to their interests is Ms Marvel. Hm. Though actually, they might like Rat Queens as well, given the nomination of Jeffro Johnson for Fan Writer.)

#585 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2015, 09:30 AM:

Andrew M - I am not a lawyer (though I'm sure I could play one on TV, I could waggle me wig and do the voice and everything). It seems to be the case that lawyers get more exercised about use of the term "hobbit" than they do about "orc"... I'm not sure of any sensible reason why this should be, unless maybe "orc" is more visible in pre-Tolkien uses ("Red Orc" in William Blake's poetry, for instance). There's only one instance of a pre-Tolkien hobbit that I've heard of.

(There's no evidence that Tolkien ever read the Denham Tracts, in which "hobbit" is found among a long list of minor supernatural creatures. However... since it's an obscure word out of Northern European folklore, if anybody would know it, it'd be Tolkien.)

#586 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2015, 11:21 AM:

Steve Wright @585, I've actually assumed for a long time, based on no evidence whatsoever, that the name "hobbit" was derived from "hob"; a hobgoblin or brownie type creature, usually but not always more helpful than not (within the strictures of "be careful around magical creatures and Don't Break The Rules").

#587 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2015, 01:23 PM:

"Hobgoblin" is actually the next on the Denham Tract list... which also includes "spoorns" and "calcars", beasties I think I remember from James Branch Cabell, although I don't recall any mention of what they are....

Several entities on the list ("yeth-hounds" for instance) have since become entries in the Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual... an accolade, of sorts, I suppose.

#588 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2015, 05:01 PM:

Denham Tracts not withstanding, I expect it comes down to your appetite for risk & litigation.

D&D uses "halfling" instead of "hobbit", "treant" instead of "ent", as a way of filing off the serial numbers.

ETA: First post attempt got me a server error, so hoping this doesn't turn into a double post.

#589 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2015, 10:03 PM:

Tolkien got his 'hobbit' by forming 'hole-builder' in OE (*holbytla) and taking it through the regular sound changes that happened in English historically. Incidentally, when you take the attested form huswīf "house-wife" through the same process, you get not 'housewife' but 'hussy'.

I just finished The Three-Body Problem. I was less impressed than I expected to be. A lot of the exposition was pretty unnecessary, or too much tell and not enough show. The two message-traitor passages being copies of each other struck me as kind of cheesy.

I'm not a physicist, but once he got outside the titular problem, a lot of the physics seemed pretty bogus to me. Not that physics has to be exactly right in a story (insert lengthy digression about FTL about here), but it has to seem plausible in the context of the story, at least while I'm still reading. Instead I was going "give me a break."

(One short example: what does sunlight do to something with the surface area of a planet and the mass of a proton? The same thing light does to a normal proton, times several bajillion, because that many more photons could strike it.)

#590 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2015, 10:16 PM:

589
this video mockup of Nix reminds me of the alien world in TBP. (The satellite moves in a near-chaotic way.)

#591 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2015, 10:23 PM:

Annnnd the excerpt of Ancillary Sword in the (my) Hugo Packet is FUBAR. I'll see if I can borrow a copy. Damn Kindles and other reading devices for making that harder.

#592 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2015, 10:51 PM:

Xopher, would it help for me to send you a copy of my excerpt? I just looked at it, and it seems to be okay.

#593 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2015, 12:11 AM:

That would be great! Please send it to [first part of my name here] followed by 'hobbit' at the mail of Google.

Thank you!

#594 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2015, 02:09 AM:

I haven't decided whether I'm putting 3-Body Problem first or third*. I think Ancillary is stronger than Goblin Emperor - both were good, but Ancillary was meatier, while Goblin Emperor was, well, nice, and stayed nice most of the time, even though most of the first half of the book I was waiting for something to happen.

*(And I'm not going to base my decision on how much 3BP winning would probably annoy Kratman. Kratman really annoys me, and I'd like to return the favor, but any non-Puppy winning is going to do that, and all of them have a lot of literary merit.)

#595 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2015, 02:48 AM:

Now, that's odd. Went to go vote on best novel, and the rest of my Hugo votes didn't show up, even though I'd entered them some weeks ago and thought I'd saved everything successfully. Re-entered them, and they're there now, and maybe it was just a browser thing that I didn't understand, but if you think you're done voting, you might want to check.

#596 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2015, 05:05 AM:

Bill Stewart - whenever you update your Hugo votes, you're supposed to get a confirmation email from the swocorg[at]host415[dot]hostmonster[dot com] address, which gives you the complete current state of your ballot.

In my case, this mail almost always drops straight into the spam trap, but it should be reliable and should be up to date.

#597 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2015, 10:20 AM:

Question about fanzines:

There are two fanzines on the ballot, Tangent SF Online and Elitist Book Reviews which are Puppy picks, but do not seem obviously Puppyish in outlook. Does anyone know what attracted the Puppies to them?

(EBR has been on the Puppy list before. It was first nominated in 2013, when there was a Puppy campaign, though it flew largely under the radar; it may be that the campaign contributed to its getting nominated, though it can't have brought about that result all by itself.)

#598 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2015, 11:11 AM:

Xopher @589:

(One short example: what does sunlight do to something with the surface area of a planet and the mass of a proton? The same thing light does to a normal proton, times several bajillion, because that many more photons could strike it.)

Yeah, but what does sunlight do to a normal free proton? It can't ionize it, because it's already ionized; it's extremely unlikely to excite it, since that would require very high energy photons indeed (and a bazillion low-energy ones won't count, because of quantum mechanics). Maybe some form of Compton scattering?

It may just be that there's something obvious I'm missing, because my coffee hasn't kicked in yet and QM was a long time ago; what did you have in mind?

#599 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2015, 09:47 PM:

lorax 598: Well, you obviously know a lot more about physics than I do; I didn't know that a lot of low-energy photons wouldn't count the same as a high-energy one.

I should have put my remarks above in the spoiler thread, but as I didn't, I'll ROT13 my response here:

V qb xabj gung fhayvtug rkregf cerffher ba bowrpgf gung vg fgevxrf. Va snpg, crbcyr unir znqr cynhfvoyr cebcbfnyf sbe fbyne fnvyf nf n zrnaf bs cebchyfvba sbe nppryrengvat fcnprpensg. Gurfr fnvyf, juvyr trarenyyl chgngviryl znqr bs zbyrphyr-guva zngrevny, jbhyq or sne zber znffvir guna n cebgba.

Jbhyqa'g gur zveebe-fuval gjb-qvzrafvbany cebgba or fhowrpg gb nppryrengvba ol orvat uvg ol nyy gubfr cubgbaf? V'q guvax vg jbhyq or cebcryyrq irel encvqyl njnl sebz juvpurire fgne jnf pybfrfg, naq unir ab punapr gb jenc vgfrys (ol jung zrnaf bs cebchyfvba? furre jvyy?) nebhaq gur cynarg.

Gurer ner ab erny-jbeyq pnfrf bs n fvatyr cebgba orvat fgehpx ol n ahzore bs cubgbaf rdhny gb gur ahzore gung beqvanevyl yvtug bar fvqr bs na ragver cynarg, naq pbagvahvat gb or fgehpx ol n fvzvyne ahzore rirel cvpbfrpbaq. V fhccbfr gur rssrpg ba na beqvanel cebgba pbhyq or pnyphyngrq, vs bar xarj rabhtu dhnaghz zrpunavpf, juvpu V qb abg.

Bs pbhefr, abar bs gung vf nal ab zber ovmneer guna cebgbaf univat gur novyvgl gb zbir nf gurl pubbfr, jvgubhg ertneq gb gur ynjf bs culfvpf. Vg'f pregnvayl gehr, nf bar punenpgre va gur obbx fnlf, gung "culfvpf qbrf abg rkvfg" va gur jbeyq bs 3OC.

#600 ::: Stephen Sample ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2015, 12:50 AM:

Photons that come close enough to a proton should scatter off, and transfer a fair chunk of their momentum (h/λ).

Assuming that handwavium acts like a perfect mirror, the way the book says, photon pressure on something the size of a planet but the mass of a proton is going to give you ludicrous accelerations. (I did a back-of-the-envelope calculation based on the intensity of sunlight at Earth's orbit, and came up with 34 decillion gees. Relativistic in nanoseconds.)

I enjoyed about the first 2/3 of TBP, but bounced hard off the last chunk. It felt simultaneously implausible, unfinished, and too pat. I was willing to accept the magic communications, and the game-as-third-column, and even the genocidal idealists, but the sophons felt less like an interesting exploration of possibilities and more like cheating by the author.

#601 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2015, 01:02 AM:

Well said, Stephen. And thanks for that calculation, back-of-the-envelope though it may have been.

#602 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2015, 05:40 AM:

Andrew M - I think Tangent Online is probably just there to fill out the list; it's been around for quite some time, and it's the sort of name that might spring to mind if you were casting about to make a list of five fanzines.

Elitist Book Reviews, on the other hand, struck me as coming from the heartland of Puppy territory - part of their previous campaign; one of the reviewers (Stephen Diamond) also has a nominated short story ("A Single Samurai"); reviewing categories include "Books for Chicks"; general style struck me as overly hectoring and not particularly well-read or well-reasoned.... I may be wrong, but it seemed to me that this one was well within the Puppy in-group.

#603 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2015, 05:45 AM:

- sorry, that should be Steven Diamond, with a v, not a ph.

(It always irritates me when people get mine wrong, you'd think I'd make the effort to get these things right myself, wouldn't you?)

#604 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2015, 07:33 AM:

Steve Wright: Well, they give good reviews to John Scalzi, and Elizabeth Bear and people like that, so they don't seem to be coming from a particular ideological position. There are other things, though, which do seem to link them with the Puppies; there's a emphasis on adventure, and a focus on series fiction where the main attraction seems to be love of the characters; they also have a 'no spoiler' policy which means they can't review books, but are confined to saying 'This is great! Take my word for it!' One thing they clearly aren't is elitist.

I suspect that actually what got them on the list in the first place is that they like Larry Correia. As I understand it, Sad Puppies version 1 was a personal thing and didn't claim to be anything else; 'if you sign up to vote for me, vote for these other things that I like'. Once on the list, they got stuck there, because, as you say, the Puppies probably aren't very familiar with fanzines.

#605 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2015, 09:09 AM:

Stephen @600, I'd forgotten the "perfect mirror" detail. Yeah, that's going to be a lot of momentum transfer. Thanks.

#606 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2015, 12:10 PM:

Andrew M - I've personally reached the conclusion that the Puppies aren't so much a political grouping as a literary clique. They're visibly not homogeneous in politics or religion... the one point on which they are consistently unanimous is "the Hugo Awards should be going to us and our mates!"

Certainly, some of them have a very noticeable political agenda of their own... but I'm convinced that at least some of them are deliberately talking up the politics, because they desperately want it all to be about the politics, and not... well, about the quality.

So it seems to me that Diamond and his site are deep enough into the "in" group to get its support. (I can think of several people who are, broadly speaking, compatible with some of the Puppies' expressed political and social views - but who haven't received slate support. Which is consistent, in my view, with them not being In The Gang.)

Obviously, this is just my personal opinion - I can't possibly claim any special knowledge. (If there is a Gang, I'm certainly not in it.)

#607 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2015, 03:00 PM:

Yes, that's very plausible, though I'm not sure one should attribute too much coherence of motive to them. And of course they can't make up their mind whether it's a political thing or a 'popular works against the literati' thing, which would exclude some conservative writers.

I think I've found why VD didn't nominate EBR: there's a piece on last year's Hugos where Mr Diamond says 'I hadn't previously heard of Vox Day, and I disapprove of some of his views and antics'. His short story didn't get on the rabid list either. As for Tangent Online, presumably Mr Day looked at it and said 'what has this got to do with us?'. Those Puppy stories it reviews at all tend to get low rankings.

To complete my reading of fanzines; Journey Planet, though not the sort of thing I would normally read, is an impressive work. And The Revenge of Hump Day (who is Hump Day?) confirms the 'literary clique' theory. One of their justifications is that they want to take the Hugos out of a fannish bubble, but that magazine belongs in a fannish bubble if anything ever did - just not the same one as usual. I won't complain about its having nothing to do with SF, as I understand that's traditional, but it seems odd in what's supposed to be a revolutionary slate.

(I've noticed some new voters expressing the feeling that the fan nominees ought actually to be about science fiction; that's what 'fan' means to them, not unreasonably. Jeffro Johnson, as the only Fan Writer nominee actually to write about SF, may pick up some votes that way.)

#608 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2015, 03:05 PM:

I persist in the belief that Hump Day is Vox's elder brother. If this is wrong, I don't want to be right.

#609 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2015, 05:01 PM:

Oh wait, VD did nominate EBR; I was mixing the fanzines up with the semiprozines, where he did indeed not nominate Me Torgersen's picks. However, it is true that he did not 'A Single Samurai' for Short Story.

#610 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2015, 12:43 AM:

OK, so it's time to read the nominees for Best Graphic Story, right? So I struggle to get through Ms. Marvel, and know I'm missing a lot; most of it makes no sense at all. Rat Queens I read with no trouble, and enjoy it. Go to Sex Criminals and find it even more incomprehensible than MM; I give up a few pages in. Saga has the same problem as MM and SC.

I decide to write a ranty post about the new trend in graphic stories, which makes them almost impossible for me to even read, let alone enjoy.

But then I look up a sample page of Ms. Marvel online.

Oh.

It's supposed to have dialogue.

Go back and read MM in the PDF version WITH the dialogue cartouches (and, unfortunately, with the huge "HUGO PACKET" stamp across every page, which greatly decreased my enjoyment) and of course it makes perfect sense.

Somehow the epub version of three of the four nominees left out the cartouches, at least on Calibre (at least on MY Calibre). So I read them all in PDF, and liked all of them a lot.

It strikes me as pretty sensible to do the dialogue cartouches separately. After all, you might need different sized ones when you translate the comic into Spanish, or Urdu, or Mandarin. It's just that Calibre somehow didn't display them.

#611 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2015, 01:52 AM:

"Dialogue cartouches"? Is there a good reason to prefer this phrase over the traditional "word balloons"? (I just spent some time trying to figure out a phrasing for the question that didn't come out snide, and fear greatly that I have failed. My apologies, Xopher, I am really not intending to be snide.)

#612 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2015, 02:06 AM:

Word balloons! That's the phrase I was looking for! Damn.

Dialogue cartouches. Sheesh.

#613 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2015, 02:13 AM:

To be clear, David, I'm not offended, and my brain just couldn't come up with the phrase 'word balloons' (or 'speech balloons') when I was writing that comment. In recent years I've read more Egyptology than comics, so 'cartouche' just had a hotter wire.

#614 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2015, 02:58 AM:

Xopher #610:

Did you try Zombie Nation, The Fifth Finalist? I thought it provided a nice contrast.

#615 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2015, 09:44 PM:

Finished Ancillary Sword. Should be ready to finalize my Novel category, right?

Well, know. I think AS and TGE are comparably good, with maybe a bit of edge for AS—but that writer, good as she is, just won a Hugo last year. So I feel that, adding everything up, there's little to choose between them for final ballot position. Pretty sure ties aren't allowed on individual ballots...

Soon Lee 614: No, I haven't. I'm trying to focus on things that I need to rank on my Hugo ballot. While I might read ZN later (though personally I am sick to death of zombie everything), as a Puppy nominee it's not going to get a number on my ballot, so it's de-prioritized for now.

#616 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2015, 07:04 AM:

I looked at "Zombie Nation", and actually found it mildly amusing. Certainly better than many of the Puppy nominations... but nowhere near good enough for a Hugo award.

(I even looked out some other examples of Carter Reid's artwork. I did all this reading and reviewing stuff properly, you know.)

#617 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: July 23, 2015, 03:53 PM:

re 594: I had something of a similar reaction to Goblin Emperor: for the first third of the book I had this sense that I was reading the setup for a central story which never started. I also have to say that for all the world-building the elf/goblin division never seemed to me to be important in the story. It seemed to me to work perfectly well with any generic Ruritania. I liked the story, but part of me was thinking that it was Hugo-listed because it was published by an SF publisher.

#618 ::: Tamlyn ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2015, 05:27 AM:

I ended up reading everything published in 2014 for The Zombie Nation even though I'm pretty sure the book itself must have been earlier strips. It wasn't bad as such. Zombies aren't my thing, but as a mild distraction and stand alone comics, it worked. But as an ongoing graphic story, let alone an award nominated one? No. There was no story. As an artist? No. Half the time he was copy and pasted his own work.

I've also read Jason Cordova's (and Eric S Brown, and I have no idea who contributed what) Campbell stuff. Hill 142 was meh. But, and I'm fairly certain I'm going to be the only person in this thread saying this, I enjoyed Murder World.

Don't get me wrong - it was terrible. Holes big enough for one of the monsters to get through, inconsistent stereotypes as characters, mass stupidity, and sheer bad writing - they really needed an editor. Or even to proofread their own work. But after pushing through the first few chapters, I basically sat back and accepted it in all its terrible glory (glorious terribleness?), and I do not regret reading it.

Which is more than I can say for a good portion of the other Puppy picks, which, while more technically proficient, attained only the lofty heights of mediocrity. If you're going to bad, might as well be entertainingly bad!

I only have a week left now, but I'm slowly filling in the gaps.

#619 ::: Edmund Schweppe ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2015, 01:41 PM:

My Hugo votes are here (on Dreamwidth) and here (for those who prefer LiveJournal).

An awful lot of No Award; alas, the Puppy chow quite thoroughly earned their No Awards. I'm still vacillating over whether or not to put Toni Weisskopf above Noah in Best Editor Long Form, and likewise Kary English for the Campbell.


#620 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2015, 06:57 PM:

Edmund, after the foofawrah over Irene Gallo, I banished all the puppy items from my ballot. Prior to that, they'd been ranked UNDER No Award.

Considering Baen's failure to proof-read their books, there's no way I'd vote for Weisskopf.

#621 ::: johnofjack ::: (view all by) ::: July 25, 2015, 08:01 PM:

I was looking over my ballot again the other day (I moved Ms. Marvel above Saga v. 3 because Vaughan is great but already has a Hugo, and because Ms. Marvel is genuinely awesome) and it's ... striking in its own way. Lots of "No Vote / No Vote / No Vote / No Vote / 1 No Award" on it.

This could have been a really good year for Hugo reading--but if not for the puppies, I probably wouldn't have made as much of an effort as I did to read currently nominated fiction, so I guess in some small way they have unintentionally enriched my life.

#622 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2015, 11:38 AM:

So where am I?

Have voted in:
All prose fiction categories.
Graphic Story.
Related Work.
Semiprozine.
Fanzine.

Do not intend to vote in:
Dramatic Presentations.
Long Form Editor.
Fancast.

Yet to vote in:
Artists. (Can be done quickly.)
Fan Writer. (Oh dear, do I really have to read all the fan writers?)
Short Form Editor. OK, I'm puzzled about what to do here. Two of the editors are nominated on account of an anthology they edited jointly, so how do I choose between them? And Mike Resnick has given us only tables of contents for his magazine, not any of the actual content. The current issue is available free online, but that's not from the year he's nominated for. Any ideas?

#623 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2015, 12:10 PM:

I'd say, vote according to your good taste and good conscience, using whatever information you have available.... I relied fairly heavily on the Hugo voters' packet, but it's not (and probably shouldn't be) the only source of information. (I did tend to assume that people with no samples in the packet weren't interested in getting my vote... and then more conscientious people persuaded me to look for their work anyway... and then I voted it below "No Award" anyway, because I didn't think much of it.)

As I said in an LJ comment, the Worldcon committee inexplicably failed to include a blood oath on the registration form, requiring all supporting members to read everything and vote strictly according to merit lest their right hand lose its cunning and their tongue cleave to the roof of their mouth. So, well, you don't actually have to read anything you don't want to.

I read the fanwriters, though. And listened to the fancasts. I have the scars on my eardrums to prove it.

#624 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2015, 02:14 PM:

The thing is, in a normal year if you don't know enough about someone you can just leave them out. This year, though, if you want to ensure that Vox Day is below No Award, you have to either put everyone below No Award - which I'm not convinced these people deserve - or actually find an order to put them in, for which I think I have insufficient evidence.

If only there were a Best Anthology Hugo...

#625 ::: Edmund Schweppe ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2015, 06:27 PM:

Andrew M @624:

If only there were a Best Anthology Hugo...
... then the Rabid Puppy slate would have had five Castalia House nominees for Best Anthology. (And Day would still have nominated himself for both Best Editor awards.)

#626 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2015, 06:44 PM:

What I meant more fully was 'If only, instead of creating this odd Best Editor category (where one can't know precisely what each editor has done), they had created Best Anthology, while leaving Best Magazine in place'. I don't think VD edits any magazines, does he?

#627 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 26, 2015, 07:07 PM:

"Best Magazine" stopped making a whole lot of sense when original anthologies became a lot more available. So they went to Editor -- and the book editors pushed for some recognition, if that's the name the Hugo administrators wanted to use, leading to the Long/Short split. I don't blame them for doing so -- but we might do better with a "Best Publisher" award. If you want that, you know how to find the Business Meeting....

#628 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2015, 04:22 AM:

And I am done with Hugos reading and voting. :) I ended up going for The Three-Body Problem for the novel (with TGE second) - despite some of its issues, it is more my kind of story than TGE. And when there are two very strong stories, it gets down to preferences.

And as much as I loved Leckie's world - the second novel is part of a bigger whole - in a way that makes it very hard to evaluate on its own.

Let's see what happens in 4 weeks or so :)

#629 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2015, 06:53 AM:

I'm not sure why the greater availability of anthologies means 'Best Magazine' doesn't make sense; it seems possible to have both, as the Locus awards do.

And why would Best Publisher be better than Best Editor? They both present a problem in that it's impossible to read all, or even most of, the relevant material; but Publisher would make that problem worse; and Editor at least allows it to be shared out a bit more.

I think, though, that there's not much point in trying to change categories right now, with the shadow of the Puppies hanging over it all.

#630 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2015, 12:15 PM:

Andrew M @ 629

When you read a book, identifying the publisher is easy enough. Identifying the editor? Unless if the author mentioned them in their acknowledgements, you usually have no idea.

So how does changing from Editor to Publisher increase the number of things that need reading?

#631 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2015, 02:18 PM:

One publisher brings out far more books in a year than one editor does.

As to how one knows who edited it: well, at the voting stage, editors will put lists of their works in the voter packet. At the nomination stage, I'm thinking the nominators for this category will of necessity not be very many. In general, it doesn't seem unreasonable to me that the nominators should be quite few, with a larger group coming in at the voting stage. If it turns out we need lots of nominators in every category to beat the Puppies, I suspect several categories are in trouble.

#632 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2015, 02:49 PM:

Andrew M @631: that assumes the existence of the voter packet. Which is a more recent phenomenon than the split.

Much of what we see isn't particularly rational, given the world as it is right now; there are lag times built into the system, which is mostly a good thing.

Quoting Piet Hein:

Put up in one place
For all to see
This cryptic admonishment
T.T.T.

When you think how depressingly
Slowly you climb
Always remember that
Things Take Time.

#633 ::: Edmund Schweppe ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2015, 10:34 PM:

Tom Whitmore @632: Yay Piet Hein!

Alas that his Grooks appear to be out of print.

#634 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2015, 11:02 PM:

I had a set of the first 5 volumes of Grooks at the book exchange at 4th Street; had to push someone to take the 2nd through 5th volumes without the first. They did go, however!

As with Hilaire Belloc, I can quote large numbers of Hein's poetry extemporaneously. Please do not start me on The Yak or The Python. Or even (green, hungry, horrible and plain) the infant crocodile.

#635 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2015, 01:37 AM:

I just got the official notification that the Hugo voting period will be over this Friday. So if you haven't voted, or if there are things you want to change, make sure it's done by then.

#636 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2015, 10:18 AM:

Andrew M @ 631:

The main problem with Best Editor, at least for Baen, is that Toni Weisskopf is on record as saying this HERE (need Baen's Bar membership to read):

The problem with listing only the titles I edited is that to a greater or lesser extent I’ve been involved with all of them. As have all our editors. We do things differently at Baen from most other houses, I believe. We gang edit. There isn’t “my” author or “your” author, there is only “our” author..–Toni

This means, to me at least, that it's impossible to vote for any individual Baen editor as "Best Editor" because it's even more impossible than usual to determine what any particular person did to deserve it.

(p.s. I don't have a Baen's Bar membership; this information is quoted from File770 HERE and I have not been able to check it for myself. But nobody subsequently refuted it, and that thread went on for four more pages.)

#637 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2015, 10:21 AM:

I think I messed up the Baen's Bar link; this is what I meant:
http://bar.baen.com/index.php?t=msg&th=115252&goto=1149401&#msg_1149401

#638 ::: Edmund Schweppe ::: (view all by) ::: July 30, 2015, 01:02 PM:

Tom Whitmore @634:

I had a set of the first 5 volumes of Grooks at the book exchange at 4th Street
Arrgh! I never saw them!

Well, if anyone has another set floating around that they want to get rid of ...

#639 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2015, 01:29 PM:

Well, my July was full of paying work (yay) and procrastination from work (argh) and reading my Hugo packet just never wound up on my schedule.

Yes, a lot of the procrastination was reading SF/F. But the Hugo material was *work*, right? Perverse are the ways of the brain.

Last night at midnight I said "dammit" and started flipping through the packet. (Midnight East Coast time, so I had three hours to work in.)

Fortunately I had already read most of the novels on my own. I wound up decided that while Skin Game was a competently entertaining episode and 3BP had excellent parts, neither was a Hugo-level novel. (3BP felt like fragments of three or four different Hugo-level novels, swept into a bucket.) Above the No-Award line, Ancillary edged out Emperor for me -- a gestalt preference that I won't try to break down.

I wasn't so rigorous about the remaining categories. I used NA liberally but didn't try to draw a distinction of "this is Hugo-level work" vs not. I guess my standards for novels are just more strongly set.

I was able to read most of the short stories and novelettes, or skim through the novelettes anyway... Totaled was pretty good, World Turned Upside Down was pretty good, I was not moved by any of the rest.

In related work, Letters from Gardner seemed like it was worth something. The rest of the entries in the category were either pointless or actively annoyed me. (I have no qualms about downvoting work that annoys me. I'm sure the asshat crowd will make great hay of the prejudices of the Hugo-voting public, but they're wrong about a lot of other things too.)

The graphic story contenders in the packet all looked worth reading and I did not have time to read them in my three hours! I left that category entirely blank.

I've only seen two of the movies, Winter Soldier and Guardians. I don't think either of them is really Hugo material but I voted for WS anyhow.

I'd seen nearly all of the TV episodes and put GoT and DW on top. A rough decision, but Orphan Black and Flash are really strongest at the season level, not in those particular episodes. (The Flash pilot in particular was "promising" rather than "actually good". A promise that the show has fulfilled! But not, you know, in that first hour.)

#640 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2015, 02:58 PM:

And the voting is now closed. It's all over but the counting. I'm glad that's not my job!

#641 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 01, 2015, 10:36 PM:

I always found counting ballots for the Pegasus Award fun. Sleep-deprived silliness ensues, as the ballots are counted in the wee hours of Saturday morning -- voting closes at the con at Midnight Friday.

The names of the winners are faxed to the trophy store, and we pick the awards up on Saturday morning, sporting shiny engraved plaques.

#642 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2015, 10:12 AM:

So I went with Goblin Emperor and Ancillary Sword in that order. TBP's opening scenes were a severe, triggering bounce-off, and the other two just didn't interest me enough to start them. I "no awarded" the shorter fiction categories on principle.

#643 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2015, 01:41 PM:

I thought Three-Body Problem was hugely flawed, but in very interesting ways... nobody seems able to swallow all of it, but everyone seems to choke on different parts. At least it's intriguing!

(I put Goblin Emperor first, though.)

#644 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2015, 03:17 PM:

This moose decided:

Novel: Ancillary Sword, The Goblin Emperor, T3BP, Noah Ward
Novella: Noah Ward
Novelette: Noah Ward, The Day the World Turned Upside Down
Short Story: Noah Ward, Totaled
Best Related: Noah Ward
Dramatic Long: Interstellar, Guardians
Dramatic Short: did not vote (no television)
Professional editor: Noah Ward (both)
Fan Writer: Laura, Jeffro, Noah

I possibly should have voted in more categories but my get up and go had got up and gone by that stage. I'd be delighted if either of my first two choices got a rocket in Novel or BDP(long).
There was nothing rocket-worthy IMAO in a lot of the categories, mainly due to the depredations of Beale the Galactic Zero and his useful idiots.

#645 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2015, 03:36 PM:

Seems like a good thread in which to mention this: the Sasquan progam schedule is now online. Mobile apps to keep track of the schedule are also ready.

I myself am scheduled for seven items. Pluto, astronomy news, Washington SF, general relativity, more Pluto, Ceres, Tech Talk for Teens.

#646 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2015, 06:34 PM:

Following up on comics: Rat Queens is delightful! Sex Criminals is delightful! I have not yet started Ms Marvel. (I will.)

I got through the Saga volume but it just doesn't appeal to me for some reason. (I have tried to start Saga volume 1 at least twice, and bounced.) There's no obvious element of Saga's story or style that I'm against. It reminds me quite a bit of Dicebox, which I love. But I do not love Saga and I guess that's that.

I may have to revive my Comixology account and see about following up on the stuff I liked.

#647 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: August 03, 2015, 06:40 PM:

Andrew Plotkin @ 646

Sounds like my bouncing off both Sex Criminals and Rat Queens. I will probably try them again at some point but for now, they are way behind Saga or Ms Marvel on my list...

#648 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2015, 11:02 AM:

I persist in misreading the title of this thread as Reading for Rainbows.

#649 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2015, 01:28 PM:

Here's some interesting news:

Hugo Voting

#650 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2015, 01:40 PM:

Further following up: Ms Marvel is well-written but the pacing seems rocky. Like the authors are trying to cram a supervillain plotline and a bunch of random Avengers references in with the actual story.

Had I read the four samples before the deadline, I would have voted SC, RQ, MsM, Saga.

#651 ::: Cath ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2015, 02:17 PM:

Bill Higgins @645

Thanks for highlighting the Sasquan schedule link.
It's the first time I've seen it possible to sign up for Kaffeeklatches in advance.

To my delight, I found that not all of them were full. I will be trying not to fangirl too embarassingly at Martha Wells on Saturday, and I'm second on the waitlist for Pat Cadigan's meetup. I was looking forward to meeting P.C. Hodgell too, but then found it conflicts with the Thursday morning Business Meeting. Phooey.

#652 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2015, 03:34 PM:

Lori Coulson@649:That is interesting news. Luckily we don't have long to wait to see just what kind of interesting news it is.

#653 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2015, 04:32 PM:

Having seen Patrick's Particle on the Hugo voting, two three quotes spring to mind regarding the Hugo ballot and puppydum, (one of them is not SF related):

1) "I foresee a landslide—with you under it."
2) "The avalanche has already started, it is too late for the pebbles to vote."
3) "History is on our side, we will bury you."

Hopefully not everyone has voted Noah Ward in every category and some of the rockets will be awarded to works that merit them.

#654 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2015, 04:33 PM:

*sigh* Sadly, it doesn't seem that Sarah Monette has a kaffeeklatsch. She may not even be going -- I didn't check the membership list first. I have a gazillion questions I'd like to ask her!

#655 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2015, 04:43 PM:

Lee @ #654

She's on the membership list: http://sasquan.org/member-list/#Moa-Mot

#656 ::: Cath ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2015, 05:57 PM:

Lee, Katherine Addison is one of the first names I looked for, too. I love her work, whether it's Booth or wolves or angsty wizards or goblins. She is on the program though: reading and autographing on Friday, and two panels on Saturday.

#657 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2015, 06:17 PM:

Steve Halter -- I know which way I hope the numbers will break, but I won't count the chicks before the eggs hatch!

#658 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2015, 09:14 PM:

Did Jim Butcher ever make a public statement on his slateness or candidacy? Other than "My novel was nominated."

#659 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2015, 12:00 AM:

His initial statement was along the lines of, "These people want to vote for me, I should tell them no?" Later on someone asked him if he had any comment on the Puppies, and he replied:

People keep proclaiming their stance on everything, acting like politicians, and then get all shocked when things become politicized.
Which is a bit ambiguous but rings pro-Puppy to my ears.

#660 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2015, 12:02 PM:

Yeah, I saw that tweet. It appears to be all Butcher has said on the matter since it began.

So, Butcher does not object to being associated with the Puppies and their actions. Phooey. I will take this into account in my future reading decisions.

(Perhaps he will speak up after the Hugo ceremony and object post facto, but that wouldn't be any less phooey.)

#661 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2015, 03:46 PM:

I'm about to dump in a long comment about Hugo outcomes. I'm picking this thread because it's Hugo-related but not EPH-specific. (And Open Thread 207 is currently bouncing around EPH and alternatives.)

Possibly tomorrow there will be a "Hugos V: what the hell just happened" thread, in which case this could be moved there. Or not.

#662 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2015, 03:48 PM:

As the doom-wracked pendulum of time ratchets us inevitably towards Saturday evening, tick by mournful tick... Ahem.

I thought I'd game out the possible Hugo outcomes and what happens next. This lets me test my visualization of the Cosmic All. I can look silly if I'm wrong and wave the told-you-so flag if I'm right.

This is not a Hugo prediction post; it's a reaction-to-Hugos prediction post. Also, don't expect to read anything startling new here. We've all thought this stuff. This is an exercise in getting it down in one spot.

----

The Novella, Novelette, and Short Story categories are all-slate (with one exception, Thomas Olde Heuvelt's "The Day the World Turned Upside Down"). Here we can pretty well describe two outcomes: Puppy slate nominees win, or No Award wins.

* No Award wins:

We conclude that people who are even slightly interested in Hugo voting have strongly declared that the slated works sucked. (But it is difficult to estimate how many people read the stories and decided they sucked, vs deciding on No Award ab inito.)

Puppy supporters conclude that Hugo voters are either attacking the Puppies personally (by voting No Award regardless of story quality), or are trying to destroy the Hugos (ditto), or were bullied into voting wrong by evil feminists. (This is what they see already, so why should they change gears.)

(Variation: Perhaps Heuvelt comes in above No Award but no other story does. The Puppies' cries of rage become more vitriolic but it doesn't really change the conclusions.)

* Puppy slate nominees win:

Puppies bask in the glory of self-justification.

We attempt to figure out whether the Puppies mobilized thousands of voters on their behalf, or whether the typical Hugo voter has always been kind of okay with Wright's stories. Again, this is difficult.

(Variation: Perhaps slate works take first place but No Award ranks unusually high -- second or third place. In this case we can at least say that most people read the stories. I would conclude that a "pick the best of a bad lot" spirit prevailed.)

----

The Best Novel category is messier, being a mix of slate books, books I actually liked, and one slate book I actually liked (_Skin Game_).

(More seriously: Butcher is an established author who sells a lot of books and has a lot of fans, but few awards. Anderson is an established author who sells a lot of books but -- to generalize -- not to the Hugo-voting crowd. Addison/Monette, Leckie, and Liu are -- again to generalize -- award magnets in the usual Hugo sense: _Ancillary Sword_ is sequel to a Hugo winner, _Goblin Emperor_ has been nominated for a bunch of awards, and _3BP_ is the English publication of a Chinese award winner.)

* We could get a simple outcome: _The Dark Between the Stars_ wins (puppy slate victory) or _The Dark Between the Stars_ comes in below No Award (puppy slate defeat). Above conclusions apply.

* _Skin Game_ wins. What does that mean? Puppy voter majority? Significant number of Puppy voters combined with a significant number of other voters who decide that Butcher is good enough for a Hugo? Would have to compare to the short-fiction categories.

* One of the three non-slate novel wins, but _The Dark Between the Stars_ does well. Significant number of Puppy voters combined with a general lack of consensus among non-Puppy voters? Indication that Kevin J. Anderson really is a decent writer who has been previously overlooked?

* No Award wins. This would strongly indicate that most voters have written the entire Hugo year off as a loss, and voted a straight No Award ticket. (I will be very surprised if this happens.)

* And so forth. Combinations of the above outcomes are possible.

I am not going to dig into the other categories. I don't know anything about editors, fanzines, or artists. The dramatic-presentation categories basically look like every other year -- blockbuster movies and fan-favorite TV shows. Graphic novels wound up slate-irrelevant (with, may I say tangentially, a very strong nominee list).

----

Cognitive bias warning: This post assumes that "Puppy voters" and "us" are separate and irreconcilable groups. Obviously I'm on a side. If you want the other side, go read somebody else's analysis. But I hope it's also clear that there *are* separate groups here. The Puppies consistently state that the slate nominees are better than past years' Hugo fare; that most fans agree with them about this; that fans who publicly disagree with them are either specious self-aggrandizers, deluded patsies, or have been cowed into compliance by the cabal. I say that those statements add up to a lunatic conspiracy theory, and on top of that their slate nominees are mostly crap. There is not, in short, much middle ground for us to agree to disagree.

If the slate candidates all get squashed by No Award, the Puppies will come out of the gate yelling that they've been cheated. Evidence that contradicts their axioms is evidence of conspiracy; as I said, that's not going to change.

I'd like to imagine that I'm on the reality-based side. So if I wake up Sunday to find that Castalia House is the Hugo-winningest publisher of the year? What do I then believe?

Some fraction of the regular Worldcon-going Hugo-voting fandom community supports the Puppies. This has always been true. Up through last year they were a minor influence, as witness the failure of the first two Sad Puppies slates. If this year they are a dominant influence, then something has changed.

Things that we know have changed:

- Final-round Hugo voting is way up, as a result of all the hoo-raw. (E.g.: I voted for the first time in years.)
- Ted Beale is actively involved this year (to the point, as we've seen, of effectively controlling the slates).
- Gamergate is an active movement which has coalesced in the past twelve months. (I mention it because Gamergate and the Puppies have essentially identical worldviews, focussed on different industries. It's not really possible to measure overlap, but folks in each group consider the other fellow travellers at least.)

So if the Puppies walk away with the rockets, then it could be that Beale, himself, motivated a bunch of supporters to vote. It could be that Beale, Torgersen, and other Puppy activists formed the core of a movement that achieved critical mass this year (perhaps drawing momentum from Gamergate).

Furthermore, "supporters" could be anything from total outsiders (never read SF, voting solely to express Puppy support) to Worldcon regulars who love the Puppy authors but usually don't bother to vote. Those are extremes of a range, obviously. How would I estimate distribution along that range? I don't think I could.

This uncertainty matters, unfortunately. If the Hugos wind up dominated by fans that I've been walking past in hotel hallways for decades, but who are separated from me by a gulf of incompatible taste -- then fine. The Hugos become useless to me, I will ignore them. If, on the other hand, the Hugos wind up dominated by non-SF-readers demonstrating their victory over the feminist conspiracy -- that's not a good outcome. The Hugos need to be fixed. (They may be unfixable, separate topic, sigh.)

----

TLDR: This is all hypothetical until Saturday night. Tick tick. I would like a frosty refreshing root beer.

#663 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2015, 04:06 PM:

Just to add a minor tweak-- so far as I know, "Totaled" was the only puppy-nominated short fiction that was liked (not necessarily loved) by some non-puppies. If it comes in above No Award-- or right below No Award-- that will be interesting. I think that would indicate people voting on preference for the fiction rather than a straight anti-slate ticket.

#664 ::: Cubist ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2015, 06:07 PM:

sez Andrew Plotkin @662:

This post assumes that "Puppy voters" and "us" are separate and irreconcilable groups. Obviously I'm on a side. If you want the other side, go read somebody else's analysis. But I hope it's also clear that there *are* separate groups here.

While it's true that the Pups constitute a more-or-less coherent, identifiable "side", it is not true that there is a second 'side'. There are, rather, a whole lot of people with a whole lot of different objections to the Pups, and the non-Pups 'side' is pretty much an amorphous cloud with nothing even vaguely analogous to the self-named "Evil League of Evil" clique which leads the Pups.

The proper term to refer to the Pups' opponents is not "Puppy-Kickers" or "anti-Pups". Rather, the proper term for the Pups' opponents is "everybody else", or perhaps "the entire rest of fandom".

#665 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2015, 08:53 PM:

Now I have had a frosty refreshing ginger beer. (Caught my eye before the root beer.)

Nancy: "so far as I know, "Totaled" was the only puppy-nominated short fiction that was liked (not necessarily loved) by some non-puppies."

True. (I liked it, c.f. my comment #639.) The logic winds up similar to _Skin Game_, but not identical, since this is a new story rather than an episode in a very-well-known series.

Cubist: "it is not true that there is a second 'side'."

Yeah, this is why I avoided a group label other than "us"...

If we're a whole lot of people whose sole common factor is objection to the Puppies, it's hard to disclaim the label of "the anti-Puppies"!

I know what you're saying, but I'm not going to go to the mat defending the idea that *they're* organized but *we're* a naturally-emerging concensus of reasonable people who just happen to talk and agree on things. That's a bias trap.

#666 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2015, 08:55 PM:

Now I have had a refreshing ginger beer. (Caught my eye before the root beer.)

Nancy: "so far as I know, "Totaled" was the only puppy-nominated short fiction that was liked (not necessarily loved) by some non-puppies."

True. (I liked it, c.f. my comment #639.) The logic winds up similar to _Skin Game_, but not identical, since this is a new story rather than an episode in a very-well-known series.

Cubist: "it is not true that there is a second 'side'."

Yeah, this is why I avoided a group label other than "us"...

If we're a whole lot of people whose sole common factor is objection to the Puppies, it's hard to disclaim the label of "the anti-Puppies"!

I know what you're saying, but I'm not going to go to the mat defending the idea that *they're* organized but *we're* a naturally-emerging concensus of reasonable people who just happen to talk and agree on things. That's a bias trap.

(Second try posting this, after an internal server error...)

#667 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2015, 10:00 PM:

665
Ah, the dreaded 'internal service error' - sometimes just poking the back button and looking to see if it's there is enough; then, if it isn't, you can post again.

#668 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2015, 12:51 AM:

.... aaand "related work" gets what may well be the first of several "no award"s of the night.

#669 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2015, 12:53 AM:

The memoria included Velma and Bruce Durocher.

#670 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2015, 01:10 AM:

Pro artist: Julie Dillon.

#671 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2015, 01:24 AM:

Related work: no award.
Short story: no award.
Novelette - Pat Cadigan accepting.

#672 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2015, 01:27 AM:

Ah, novelette is '"The World Turned Upside Down". (Whoever is putting the winners on the livestream isn't doing it well.)

#673 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2015, 01:34 AM:

Both editing categories: no award.
Novella: no award.
Novel: TBP, I think....

#674 ::: VictorS ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2015, 01:36 AM:

PJ @ 673 - Yep, Three Body Problem.

#675 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2015, 01:39 AM:

So what happened with all the slate nominees? Oops - none won? Apparently we all have bad taste. On hold on... :)

#676 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2015, 01:39 AM:

When they announce it and don't put up the text, it's hard to tell. (I don't know what got long-form dramatic - the acceptor made a speech that was about 30 seconds long. Short form went to Orphan Black, I understand.)

#677 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2015, 01:40 AM:

File770 has been having problems keeping up. Lots of 'Database error'.

#678 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2015, 01:42 AM:

Long form was Guardians of the Galaxy.

#679 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2015, 01:45 AM:

Per Locus:

Best Novel (1,827 nominating ballots)
The Three Body Problem, Cixin Liu (Tor)

Best Novella (1,083)
NO AWARD

Best Novelette (1,031)
“The Day the World Turned Upside Down”, Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Lightspeed 4/14)

Best Short Story (1,174)
NO AWARD

Best Dramatic Presentation – Long (1,285)
Guardians of the Galaxy

Best Dramatic Presentation – Short (938)
Orphan Black: “By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried”

Best Related Work (1,150)
NO AWARD

Best Graphic Story (785)
Ms. Marvel, Volume 1: No Normal, G. Willow Wilson; art by Adrian Alphona & Jake Wyatt (Marvel Comics)

Best Professional Editor Long Form (712)
NO AWARD

Best Professional Editor Short Form (870)
NO AWARD

Best Professional Artist (753)
Julie Dillon

Best Semiprozine (660)
Lightspeed

Best Fanzine (576)
Journey Planet

Best Fancast (668)
Galactic Suburbia Podcast

Best Fan Writer (777)
Laura J. Mixon

Best Fan Artist (296)
Elizabeth Leggett

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer [Not a Hugo Award] (851)
*Wesley Chu

#680 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2015, 01:57 AM:

Clarification... is this the first time a translated work has won for novel? And for novelette? I got that impression from the speeches, but wasn't sure.

#682 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2015, 01:56 PM:

Abi - That link points to Open Thread 207. Did you mean to point here?

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