Hugos and Pinecone


The pinecone has nothing to do with the Hugos, I just think it’s a good picture that I snapped this morning while taking some project photos1.

Yesterday, George R. R. Martin chimed in on the current Hugo/Sad Puppy kerfuffle. His argument can be interpreted in several ways, one of which is a bad bad bad argument from authority, but the other is a call to preserve the spirit of the Hugo award. Go read it, and his other posts (all in line at his livejournal) if you feel like diving deeper into this mess.

  1. For amusement, you might want to check out a tweet I made about these photos. []
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Clarke Award vs. Sad Puppies

13:25 UPDATE at bottom

I find it interesting that of the five novels on the Sad Puppy Slate, exactly zero were submitted for review for the Clarke Awards.

This could mean a few different things:

  1. No one bothered to submit them
  2. No one submitted them because, wow, they weren’t going to win
  3. They’ve not been published yet in Britain

Item one seems odd because wouldn’t you take the time to submit something for an award on the off chance you’d win? You never know1.

Item three is outside my expertise. It appears that all of these books are available on, but I don’t know if that means they’ve “been published in Britain” which is the prerequisite for the award.

Item two is the interesting one. If they’ve been published in Britain, why would the publisher not submit them for review? Seems like if you thought you had a good novel, you’d do that. Perhaps they don’t think they have a good novel? Maybe?

I’m talking out of my butt here, but it does make one wonder.

1325 Update: The Clarke Awards responded to my tweet about this.

So there you go. I retract any aspersions. At least aspersions related to this specific item.

  1. It’s just a dollar and a dream. []
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2015 Clarke Award Shortlist

With all the hullabaloo over the Hugos, it’s easy to miss the fact that they are not the only award for Science Fiction.

The Arthur C. Clarke Award is the most prestigious award for science fiction in Britain.
The annual award is presented for the best science fiction novel of the year, and selected from a shortlist of novels whose UK first edition was published in the previous calendar year.
The Award was originally established by a generous grant from Sir Arthur C. Clarke with the aim of promoting science fiction, and is currently administered by the Serendip Foundation.

They just announced their shortlist candidates for 2015 and I’m looking forward to reading them. The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, by Claire North, is on the list and that would have been a strong contender in my mind for the Hugo this year. Alas, Claire got screwed.

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More on the Hugo Noms

I summarized the Hugo nomination slate earlier, being both sad, yet optimistic that this hijacking can’t last.

Because I’m ignoring the standby advice of “DON’T READ THE COMMENTS” I was casting about for what other people thought about the current slate of Hugo nominees. I found Breitbart:

As with GamerGate, the political biases of a small elite has led to the exclusion of those who think differently — even if they’re in the majority.

If you’re citing GamerGate in a positive light, I don’t think I need to read more, however…

Brad R. Torgersen, who managed this year’s Sad Puppies campaign, spoke to Breitbart London about its success: “I am glad to be overturning the applecart. Numerous authors, editors, and markets have been routinely snubbed or ignored over the years because they were not popular inside WSFS or because their politics have made them radioactive.”

Torgersen cites a host of authors who have suffered de facto exclusion from the sci-fi community: David Drake, David Weber, L.E Modesitt Jr, Kevn J. Anderson, Eric Flint, and of course Orson Scott Card — the creator of the world-famous Ender’s Game, which was recently adapted into a successful movie. Despite his phenomenal success, Scott Card has been ostracized by sci-fi’s inner circle thanks to his opposition to gay marriage.

Well. There’s always differences in taste and whether a particular person thinks an author is worthy of a nomination. Here’s my own particular take on this list of authors he’s citing:

  • David Drake: Wonderful military and space adventure scifi. You should read him. Probably due a nomination for his Hammers Slammers, but that was a long time ago. His most recent stuff is good, but I’ve never put it up as the best of year work.
  • David Weber: Honor Harrington will live forever. His Honorverse is great, right up until book 8. The rest of his work is good, but worthy of a Hugo? C’mon, people. Read with some critcality. If your method of nominating is “best enjoyment of a novel this year” I’d still not go with Weber and his endless staff meeting infodumps. I will read all of his books, but unless he changes up, they’ll never be “best novel.”
  • L.E. Modesitt Jr.: Haven’t read his stuff since early Recluse and The Forever Hero. I could see one of the Recluse books being nominated. I’m curious about how they fared in the nomination process1.
  • Kevin Anderson: Discussed him in the previous post. I’ve never read him, but I will now.
  • Eric Flint: Great world building and politics; terrible and stereotypical characterizations. I’ve never read anything by him that I would nominate as Best Novel.
  • Orson Scott Card: Our illustrious journalist seems to be forgetting Card’s two Hugos (Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead, both worthy!) and his three other nominations. Could it possibly be that the rest of his work is not good enough to merit a nomination? I think so, and I’ve read it. Card’s work since Ender’s game has not been as good, straight up.

The article goes on to crow about how this is the downfall of Tor Books domination of the industry. I’m wondering if the author remembers that Tor Books publishes David Weber, also? If Tor is dominating the Hugos, why isn’t Weber getting nominations? Huh. Oh, Wait. Kevin Anderson is a Tor author, too. How weird. It’s like the publisher has little to do with the Hugo nomination process. I know, crazy.

Another method of polarizing discussion is by quoting Vox Day:

Vox Day, Lead Editor of Castalia House, commented on the nominations:

Vox Day is another of my perfect bellwethers. If he says it, I think oppositely. That’s because I don’t think there are subhumans amongst us, among other reasons. Don’t know who he is? I recommend Google, because I will not link to his site2. Vox Day has some similarities to Hitler: entirely polarizing and there’s no point bringing him into a discussion. He’s a very specific Godwin corollary.

Done ranting about Breitbart, now. At least I know not to read those articles anymore. Thoughtful commentary I can do. Obviously slanted politi-speak I’m not gonna.

  1. But not curious enough to go look up the statistics, dear reader. []
  2. Actually, I don’t recommend Google. You’ll either get really upset with him, thus shortening your lifespan due to high blood pressure, or you’ll agree with him, and we won’t be friends anymore. []
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Sometimes the Hugos just Make Me Tired

Every year, I get very excited when the Hugo award nominations roll around. What will people think are the best novels1 this year!? Will I have read them? What additional books do I get to consume!??!?!?

And every year, books get nominated which are book number three or four in a series. I’m super excited to find that there is something new for me to read that other people love, and then I get depressed because I have to read two or three books before I can read the nominated work. No matter how good a series or author is, if you slam three of their books in a row, you’re going to be a little sick of it by the time you get to the book you’re supposed to be evaluating.

This year, four of the five nominated novels are sequels. Ancillary Sword, by Ann Leckie, is a sequel that I’ve already read the first book to, so I’m off the hook there, but The Dark Between the Stars (Kevin Anderson), is the first book in a trilogy that’s set on to of a SEVEN-book older series. And Skin Game by Jim Butcher is book number fifteen in the Dresden Files (thank god, I’ve read it already). Lines of Departure by Marko Kloos is a pedestrian book two in its series. The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison is the only standalone book in the nomination slate.

In my mind, you can’t read the book without reading it’s predecessors. You just can’t. Without that background knowledge you’re not going to truly grok the world. Some authors are good at bringing in people in the middle of a series, but others are not, and it’s dangerous to assume that they’ll all be able to do that well. By that assumption, you would have to read twenty-two books to be properly up to speed on this year’s voting.

That’s just not going to happen.

As it is, I’ll probably read the Kevin Anderson book cold, but I’ll read the first book in the Marko Kloos series and I’m already up to date on the Dresden Files novels (Fun books! Not worthy of the Hugo, is my opinion.).

  1. I mostly read novels. I don’t do short stories and rarely novellas, etc. []
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2015 Hugo Award Nomination Weirdness (And Why It Doesn’t Matter)

The Hugo Award Nominations were announced on Saturday. If you’re not aware, the Hugos are the de jure Best-in-Industry science fiction and fantasy awards. I say “de jure” because, as we shall see, they are not actually an industry award. They are fan-nominated, fan-voted, yet they’ve achieved a level of notoriety and recognition that makes them the preeminent awards for the genre.

This year, the nominations got “hijacked”. I’m quotating that word for a reason; more on that in a minute. The way the Hugos work is that a person becomes a member of the year’s World Science Fiction Convention by paying their membership fee, and then they are entitled to nominate works for various categories including best novel, best short story, etc. See Wikipedia for a full list of Hugo categories. Once the nomination period is over, the administrators crunch the numbers and the top five in each category are presented on a shortlist for voting by the same members1. This is where we’re at now.

For additional background, there is currently a brouhaha in the science fiction and fantasy community that can be boiled down like this2:

  1. I want people of different backgrounds to have opportunities to be successful, defining successful as published, paid, and awarded. These people include all authors and creators including white men, black women, bisexual transvestites, tri-sexual gosling-jugglers, liberals and conservatives, nice people and asshats, and all others who might be able to craft an engaging and excellent novel/story/movie, etc., because why would we want to deprive ourselves, the fans, and the world, of great stories!

This trend has manifested itself the last few years in the the “sad puppy” slate of Hugo candidates for whom the creators of the slate have begged their followers to vote for en masse, and without consideration of the individual works in question. For my own view, this is against everything the Hugos stand for because you are supposed to nominate and vote for excellent work that you feel represents the best of the genre. Bloc voting does not accomplish that task. For the view of the Hugos, this is perfectly within the rules.

The “sad puppy” slate of candidates made a surprisingly good showing on the ballot. Surprising in that it just so happens that works and people listed on the SP slate appear quite frequently on the nomination list. I feel it’s safe to assume that a number of people did harken to the call to join the convention and vote the bloc3 . John C. Wright in particular was either the year’s most awesome writer, and so recognized by a lot of people, or voted on blindly by a bunch of sheeple. The SPs did much better this year than last, probably due to the unfortunate conflation of Gamer Gate and the perception of reverse discrimination in the science fiction/fantasy industry.

But! It doesn’t really matter. I mean, it does matter, but only because some wonderful works produced in 2014 are not on the ballot and therefore won’t get their opportunity to win the Hugo4 The reason I quotated “hijacked” above is because while the ballot has indeed been hijacked by a bunch of people who could fit the definition of “cabal”, this is within the rules of the Hugo awards, and I take solace that there are still good works on the list that I’m certain that will win out in the Hugo preferential voting system. And even if by some horrible event the SP slate manages to win some Hugos, this is an effort that cannot be maintained year over year. Gamer Gate won’t have the impetus next year it did this, and I think everything will be okay.

The Hugos have been around a while and have weathered similar storms before. I’ll read the nominated works and vote according to their quality. Except for Vox Day. Fuck that guy.

(Those of you who are members of this year’s World Con, or may wish to become so to vote the Hugos, please become familiar with how NO AWARD works. It may be important to you.)

Update: i09 says it much better, and much less snarky, with other background information you might like to read.

  1. There is a period in which the administrators contact potential nominees to ensure they want to accept the nomination. Some don’t, and pass it to the next nominee in line. []
  2. Others may disagree with my framing []
  3. We’ll have more than a feeling once the Hugo Awards are announced in August. The World Con always publishes the statistics behind the nominations and the voting so that everyone may see how the sausage was made. []
  4. For example, I feel that The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August was the best novel published last year. It is not on the ballot. []
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Griffin is Constructing! (Not just De-Constructing)

It’s only been the last few weeks that Griffin has decided that putting things on top of each other is more fun than smashing them down.

Griffin Builds Towers

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Go Pack!

Griffin is doing his part. Are you?

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Some Recent Griffin Pics

Griffin and I went out to shoot off some compressed air rockets. He was a great helper.


We also spent some time in Marietta Square last weekend. He had a great time shaking the Christmas tree branches and getting himself wet from the rain remnants.


And he’s just a cutie pie.


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United States Postal Service

I’ve given up trying to understand the United States Postal Service system of mailing packages. I’ve bitched before about some of their rules which strike me as odd, and about the fact it took me until I was 40 to really understand the difference between Priority Mail and First Class Mail (actually, never mind, I still don’t really understand).

Today I dropped off a package at the service counter and said, “Parcel Post, please.” The USPS employee measured it and said, I’m sorry, you can’t send this parcel post; it’s too light.”

Too light.

I was friendly and responded with, “Just send it however is cheapest.”

Thus another leaf in the story of How Are Mortals to Understand the Post Office? If I were a USPS user every day, sending packages priorty, or not, of different sizes and weights, I might eventually grok this whole thing. Alas, at this point, I’ve given up. What I’m reduced to doing is going to the post office, handing them a package and making the employees go through my options of delivery time and cost, then choosing the one that best meets my needs.

While that seems like a reasonable way to approach it from the customer’s standpoint, it can’t be very efficient for the USPS system. I honestly want to help them out by knowing before I show up how I want to send it and how much it will cost me. Then there won’t be any back-and-forth, just a payment and I’m off. Counter time recduced by at least 50%.

Doesn’t that seem useful? Wouldn’t that help out the post office? Or am I just dreaming?

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