SF-SJW unleashed

Jeff Denton wants to know how we feel.

Statues coming down, name changes, Bannon out, NK Jemison getting awards, alt-right in a meltdown(see ramzpaul), Trump on the ropes, white birth rates plummeting, immigration being ramped up. How does it feel? Knowing you guys have lost completely

Oh, but we haven’t lost at all! Far from it. This guy is a bit more perspicacious than old Jeff.

This year’s awards were less directly impacted by those meddlesome puppies, but I feel like we’re still suffering through an indirect backlash and overcorrection…. The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin takes the rocket for Best Novel, making Jemisin just the third author to have back-to-back wins in this category (joining the ranks of Orson Scott Card and Lois McMaster Bujold). She’s a good author, but damn, these books are not for me. Both were at the bottom of my ballot and while I can see why her novel won last year, this one is a little more baffling.

(whistles innocently) Now, lest you doubt the observation that SF-SJWs can create nothing new, and are little more than scabrous, over-medicated dung-feeders crawling about the skeletons of their predecessors attempting to scavenge off their leavings, consider two-time successive Best Novel winner N.K. Jemisin’s next project, from an interview with Tor.

So if you’re using Cthulhu, are you an H.P. Lovecraft fan?

Oh, hell no. This is deliberately a chance for me to kind of mess with the Lovecraft legacy. He was a notorious racist and horrible human being. So this is a chance for me to have the “chattering” hordes—that’s what he called the horrifying brown people of New York that terrified him. This is a chance for me to basically have them kick the ass of his creation. So I’m looking forward to having some fun with that.

It sounds as if Jemisin’s novel will join an ongoing conversation re-examining Lovecraft’s works in the context of their creator, a conversation that currently includes Victor LaValle’s The Ballad of Black Tom, Matt Ruff’s Lovecraft Country, Ruthanna Emrys’ Winter Tide (as well as the Lovecraft Reread), and other recent works engaging with and challenging Lovecraft’s mythos.

Sounds Hugo award-winning to me!


Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.

The 2017 Hugo Award winners. I think we can state that the convergence of mainstream published “science fiction” is now complete. Notice anything about the winners?

Best Novel
The Obelisk Gate, by N. K. Jemisin (Orbit Books)

Best Novella
Every Heart a Doorway, by Seanan McGuire (Tor.com publishing)

Best Novelette
“The Tomato Thief”, by Ursula Vernon (Apex Magazine, January 2016)

Best Short Story
“Seasons of Glass and Iron”, by Amal El-Mohtar (The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales, Saga Press)

Best Related Work
Words Are My Matter: Writings About Life and Books, 2000-2016, by Ursula K. Le Guin (Small Beer)

Best Graphic Story
Monstress, Volume 1: Awakening, written by Marjorie Liu, illustrated by Sana Takeda (Image)

Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)
Arrival, screenplay by Eric Heisserer based on a short story by Ted Chiang, directed by Denis Villeneuve (21 Laps Entertainment/FilmNation Entertainment/Lava Bear Films)

Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form)
The Expanse: “Leviathan Wakes”, written by Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, directed by Terry McDonough (SyFy)

Best Editor – Short Form
Ellen Datlow

Best Editor – Long Form
Liz Gorinsky

Best Professional Artist
Julie Dillon

Best Semiprozine
Uncanny Magazine, edited by Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas, Michi Trota, Julia Rios, and podcast produced by Erika Ensign & Steven Schapansky

Best Fanzine
Lady Business, edited by Clare, Ira, Jodie, KJ, Renay, and Susan

Best Fancast
Tea and Jeopardy, presented by Emma Newman with Peter Newman

Best Fan Writer
Abigail Nussbaum

Best Fan Artist
Elizabeth Leggett

Best Series
The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold (Baen)

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer
Ada Palmer (1st year of eligibility)

The best part is that NK Jemisin is now the two-time Hugo Award winner for Best Novel. In succession.


Why I don’t go to conventions

This pretty much covers it, in a nutshell.

 

Romance and the Power of the Female Gaze panel with Donna Maree Hanson, Carrie Vaughn, Nick Hubble and Cassandra Rose Clarke. #Worldcon75

Ye cats. I don’t care how big and influential Castalia House becomes in the future. You will never, ever, see me at one of those things. My one experience 20 years ago at MiniCon was considerably more than enough for me.

Besides, I have far more important things to do. Tonight, two teams from my soccer club are playing a friendly; the veterans are playing the men’s second team. I am the starting left wing for the former, while Ender is a starter for the latter. The kid is brimming with confidence, claiming his team just has to keep it close until the second half, when they’re counting on us running out of gas. It’s not a bad strategy, since we probably have an average of 16 years per player on them. Our oldest player is a few months older than me, and he’s 22 years older than their oldest player.

I realized how much is on the line when I ran into the star of the first team yesterday. He asked if I was playing, and when I said that I was, said that he’d see me there. I was a little surprised (and concerned, since he is exceptional), but he explained that most of the first team guys are coming to watch. Which means the losers will not hear the end of it any time soon.


John Scalzi withdraws

Mr. John Scalzi has graciously withdrawn his fine work of science fiction, THE COLLAPSING EMPIRE aka SEE, I CAN’T DO ASIMOV EITHER, from consideration for Best Science Fiction novel.

The other day I announced The Collapsing Empire was a finalist for the Dragon Award in the Best Science Fiction novel category, which was neat. Today, I notified the Dragon Award administrators and let them know I was withdrawing The Collapsing Empire from consideration for the award.

The reason is simple: Some other finalists are trying to use the book and me as a prop, to advance a manufactured “us vs. them” vote-pumping narrative based on ideology or whatever. And I just… can’t. I don’t have the interest and I’m on a deadline, and this bullshit is even more stale and stupid now than it was the several other times it was attempted recently, with regard to genre awards.

My plan was to ignore it, but on further reflection (and further evidence that this nonsense was going to continue through the finalist voting period), I decided this was the better course. To the extent this bullshit manufactured narrative is centered on me, well, now it’s not, as far as these awards are concerned. I’m delighted to be able to chop it off at the knees by removing myself from consideration. I wish the progenitors of this narrative luck; now they will have to compete with the other finalists on the basis of the quality of their work instead.

Also, it will spare him the embarrassment of losing. Because, you see, if you don’t try, then it doesn’t count!

And the Secret King wins again.


Mike Glyer doesn’t like Larry Correia

He really, really doesn’t like him:

Ultimately Correia remains enraged at me today because four years ago, I was one of the people (as were some of you) who said no to him when he wanted to help himself to the Best Novel Hugo. Not that I could actually stop that from happening, but when I started covering as news what Sad Puppies, Rabid Puppies, and everyone else had to say about the controversy (in their own words, with links to the rest of their posts), I had an impact by facilitating the growth of a new community of people who wanted to talk about these issues — most of them opposing the vandalism of an institution they had spent years building up.

In 2013, Correia had decided that someone with his sales figures and blog readership, who had twice had a book on the New York Times bestseller list (for a single week) deserved a Hugo, and started organizing his readers to make it happen. He didn’t think of the members of fandom as his neighbors or colleagues; he approached it like the raid culture of ancient times where you go and steal somebody’s cattle if you think you can get away with it. Despite all of the agitation he stirred up among his followers, he got only 101 nominations and failed to make the ballot.

Larry knew that since the previous summer’s raid hadn’t worked out as well as he’d hoped, to sack Troy, he would need more boats and warriors in 2014. He wrapped his nomination campaign in the flag of the culture wars. Literary awards don’t fire people up, but political motivations do. He called on readers to nominate himself plus selected friends and editors as a way to ”stick it to those SJWs”. His book made the final ballot with the third-highest number of nominating votes (184) and lost to Ancillary Justice. Two hundred votes is enough to do any amount of damage to the Hugo nominating ballot — but after two years of effort by a bestselling author, it doesn’t seem like much of a number.

In 2015 Correia gave the project to Brad Torgersen, his Patroclus, who couldn’t wait to don Larry’s armor and lead the Sad Puppies 3 campaign. Torgersen put together a slate composed of both willing and unwilling writers (with some demanding to be removed), and spearheaded his campaign with a series of abusive political tirades against the Worldcon voters. However, his band of award pirates soon discovered that the Agamemnon of their scenario was really Vox Day. His Rabid Puppies slate blanketed nearly all the Hugo categories, and his followers dictated the 2015 ballot. Larry Correia’s latest novel was one of the things on their slate, but despite three years spent jacking up his readers and colleagues to get him this award, at this point he refused his nomination, went back to his tent, and let everyone else go forward without him.

File 770 covered that story and became a place people gathered to discuss it, and correspondingly became a lightning rod for Larry Correia’s wrath. In the past two years, whenever my name or this site’s name is mentioned in comments on his blog he can always be counted on to erupt in a spew of obscenities about me — in fact, one of his followers regularly injects my name into the conversation just to see him go off. And that same spirit controlled what Correia said on Facebook, and wrote in his post. Likewise the blizzard of comments from Correia’s followers, filled with playground taunts and references to Japanese pornography and prison sex. And these things can be expected to continue because of his example and that they’re encouraged in his comment community.

Then again, Larry Correia really, really doesn’t like China Mike either:

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the seedy underbelly of fandom, File 770 is a garbage gossip column website run by a scumbag named Mike Glyer. His whole shtick is to be a news aggregator for the sci-fi/fantasy business and collect links from people who actually create things for a living. He play acts at being an impartial journalist, but in reality everything he does is slanted to screw over anybody he doesn’t like.

He chums the water for his horde of psychos so they can go about forming internet lynch mobs, boycotts, and black ballings. But then he pretends to be all impartial and above the fray. If you ever want to lose all faith in humanity, read the comments there. His regulars range between basement dwelling goons, creepy weirdo stalkers, and angry rainbow haired social justice warriors.

If you are in any writer’s groups with conservative or libertarian authors in them, then you’ve inevitably heard about this shithole website. We mostly call it Vile 770 or File 666. At one point or another that page has tried to start shit with every author who gets on Glyer’s bad side. Because when you are ever the nail that sticks up, the File 770 crew are the hammer that wants to knock you back down. Luckily, they’re about as effective as a Fisher Price squeaky hammer. So mostly we just mock them.

No matter how big or small you are, if you write something that draws their ire, Glyer will link to you, write some passive aggressive misleading bullshit, and then his little minions will go out of their way to slander you. You are evil and their side is all goodness and light. Usually the slander is about how insignificant and unimportant their foes are, and how they totally don’t even know who you are, which is ironic coming from comments that are bizarrely fixated with your personal details. Across the board they are jealous, spiteful, and really kind of pathetic.

I drew his ire several years ago with my campaign to show that the Hugos were biased. Since Glyer has like 40 something Hugo nominations he took that personal. Go figure. (Sadly, I wish I was exaggerating that number).  He’s been linking back to me constantly ever since, always muck raking and shit stirring. He’ll usually post some passive aggressive thing about look how evil I am, his flying monkeys get riled up, and then he acts all innocent and says he was just reporting the news.

Since I’ve got nothing but contempt for the two faced bastard, I just delete his track backs and move on. I still come up a lot over there . My guess is he really hates me because unlike most authors I don’t dance around with fake politeness. They love fake politeness. They screw you over with impunity, and when you fight back, then they are all about “tone”.

The thing is, for all their mutual dislike, there is an amount of nuance here that may escape your attention. Larry correctly identifies the real problem at File 770 being the commenters, who are as nasty as they are mid-witted. I’ve never been able to discern if Mike Glyer truly shares many of their opinions – unlike them, he seems to grasp that I don’t care about awards and I’m actually pretty good at what I do – or if he’s simply stuck riding the tiger of his readership.

Regardless, the point is that there is more to this than mere personal dislike. The Pink/Blue divide in SF is substantive, ideological, and real, and it is a reflection of the primary divide in the USA that is cultural, ideological, and identity-based.

As for me, I stand by Larry, because he does not throw people under the bus to spare himself. He had every opportunity to do so, indeed, he was actively lobbied to do so by more than a few well-known people, and yet he refused. That is what men of character and integrity do. But I do think there is hope for Mike, if he can ever find the courage to reject the dishonesty and partisanship of his commenters and embrace the objective position that befits the true historian. The ironic thing is that he’d probably a) gain readership and b) never win another SF award if he did so.

Speaking of Puppies, don’t forget to get your Dragon Award votes in. My recommendations are here.


Blog rankings

Again, I will point out that Alexa is a stupid and unreliable metric that doesn’t even measure traffic. But because I’m one of the few bloggers who is transparent about my traffic – 103,968 Google pageviews here yesterday – we’re forced to resort to it for the purposes of comparison.

Mike Glyer was under the impression that File 770 had a better Alexa ranking than Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter Nation.

Let’s look at the current US rankings for a few SF sites.

  • 323,236: File 770
  • 111,092: Monster Hunter Nation
  • 88,956: Castalia House
  • 63,207: Black Gate
  • 45,741: Whatever
  • 20,907: Not a Blog
  • 9,611: Vox Popoli
  • 6,506: Tor
Those are the facts. About the relative positions I would have assumed. I leave it to you to manage their interpretation.

The Dragon and the dying industry

Russell Newquist announces his Dragon Award recommendations:

The nomination period for the 2017 Dragon Awards closes very soon. I waited until almost the last minute this year, but I do have a handful of recommendations.

  • Best Science Fiction Novel – I’m going to have to go with The Secret Kings by Brian Niemeier. Its predecessor proved worthy of last year’s Dragon Award, and the third book in the series only ratchets everything up further. Solid book. Read my review of it here.
  • Best Fantasy Novel – Hands down, A Sea of Skulls by Vox Day. I’ll have a review of this one up soonish, but this series continues to beat the pants off of A Song of Ice and Fire.
  • Best Young Adult NovelRachel and the Many Splendored Dreamland by L. Jagi Lamplighter. This book actually turned a 13 year old girl (horrible creatures!) into a lovable character, and deserves the award for that alone. But it’s a fantastic book on top of that. See my review for more details.
  • Best Military SF or Fantasy Novel – I’ve been too busy and haven’t read any this year. ?

Read the rest of them there. I am pleased, however, to see that readers continue to think highly of the Arts of Dark and Light series, and in particular, A Sea of Skulls. It’s interesting to see how there is still absolutely no notice taken of it at all, or of massively successful authors such as Richard Fox, BV Larson, David VanDyke, Nick Cole, Vaughn Heppner, Christopher Nuttall, in the mainstream SF/F publishing world.

Which, of course, is one reason why the mainstream SF/F publishing world is dying. File 770 chronicles the shrinkage of BookExpo:

Having attended from the mid 1970s to now, I’ve seen the convention grow enormously, with extravagant parties and promotional events — parties on paddle wheelers in New Orleans, at Hugh Hefner’s mansion in LA, at Radio City Music Hall in NYC, and the party in DC for The Name of the Rose, held at the Italian Embassy’s estate — among memorable soirees, and then shrink from more than 40,000 attendees to the current ensmalled convention, with exhibits taking a fraction of the space they used to.

There were wide empty places on the exhibit floor that in years past would have had booths shoe-horned in everywhere; empty spaces behind black curtains where nothing was happening; meeting rooms that in previous years would have been on other floors.

Many of the older exhibitors I talked to commented on this shrinking convention, and wondered what the future would bring. The convention has already become a 2-and-a-half day event from 4-5 days previously. It’s rattling around in the Javits Center now, and I wonder whether it could go back to being held in a few large hotels instead. Or back to DC’s Shoreham Hotel, where it was held for decades, with the publishers displaying their wares on card tables in the hotel’s garage.

But the shrinking trade shows and aging fan conventions aren’t the only sign. I have been increasingly hearing about cuts at Tor, Baen, Orbit, and other publishing houses, cuts that include names most SF readers would recognize. Most of this information isn’t public yet, but don’t be surprised when you start seeing familiar names gravitating to independent publishing houses or suddenly deciding to “dip a toe” into the wild West of self-publishing.

The product is the problem. But it certainly doesn’t help that mainstream SF/F is increasingly a pure SJW freakshow, written by, published by, and read by socially hapless freaks whose only appeal is to their fellow social justice warriors. The photo, taken at BookExpo, is a graphic illustration of the decline and fall of science fiction in a snapshot.


They should have let Luke direct

Then the Star Wars sequels might not have been such barely mitigated disasters. He had some ideas, you see.

As noted in my cover story, Hamill has a lot of thoughts on how Luke might have been reintroduced differently in The Force Awakens. He could have come in during Han Solo’s climactic scene with Kylo Ren, receiving some sort of Force-telepathy distress call from his sister, General Leia, but arriving too late to save Han from death. Or, perhaps, he might have materialized in the snowy forest of Starkiller Base, where Rey duels with Kylo. On his first read-through of the script, Hamill recalled, he got excited when the legendary lightsaber wiggled portentously in the snow. “The moment in the forest, when the saber rattles?” he said. “I go, ‘Oh, baby, here I come!’ And then it flies into her hands? I said, What the hell, she hasn’t even trained!”

Likewise, after reading Rian Johnson’s script for The Last Jedi, Hamill said, “I at one point had to say to Rian, ‘I pretty much fundamentally disagree with every choice you’ve made for this character. Now, having said that, I have gotten it off my chest, and my job now is to take what you’ve created and do my best to realize your vision.’”

And that is one of the many reasons I will never see the sequels to the movies I loved so much as a child. Never to forgive, never to forget. But also, never fear. Faraway Wars: Embers of Empire is coming later this summer for all your revisionist space opera requirements.


Why SF/F is left-leaning

I have to admit, American Conservative did successfully draw my attention to their article on politics and nerd culture with this tweet:

AmericanConservative‏Verified account @amconmag
 @voxday we may be cucks but here’s a piece you might find pretty interesting:

The piece struck me as about two decades out of date. Science fiction readers may have once skewed more to the right than fantasy readers, but in these latter, SJW-ridden days, they are just as heavily left-leaning, if not more so:

One explanation is that progressives tend to gravitate toward fantasy because of the similarities between the idealism found throughout much of the genre and the progressive notion of progress and the perfectibility of humanity. George R.R. Martin sums up the meaning of fantasy in this sense very nicely on his blog, noting that fantasy is “written in the language of dreams”:

Fantasy is silver and scarlet, indigo and azure, obsidian veined with gold and lapis lazuli. Reality is plywood and plastic, done up in mud brown and olive drab. Fantasy tastes of habaneros and honey, cinnamon and cloves, rare red meat and wines as sweet as summer. Reality is beans and tofu, and ashes at the end. Reality is the strip malls of Burbank, the smokestacks of Cleveland, a parking garage in Newark. Fantasy is the towers of Minas Tirith, the ancient stones of Gormenghast, the halls of Camelot. Fantasy flies on the wings of Icarus, reality on Southwest Airlines. Why do our dreams become so much smaller when they finally come true?

Fantasy gives us wonderful visions, ones that drew me into the genre as a kid, but alas, ones that do not necessarily reflect the realities of human nature. George R.R. Martin knows this perhaps better than any fantasy author, for his is a work on politics and power.

Another convincing explanation for the lack of conservatism in the genre is found on the popular fantasy and science-fiction website Tor.com, where Liz Bourke argues:

If epic fantasy is second-world fantasy that shapes its arc in the form of a grand mythic quest (or several), that plays with tropes such as the return or re-establishment (or sometimes the purification) of a monarch, then it’s, by nature, conservative in structure, and by habit conservative in the political institutions it portrays. But it’s not necessarily conservative in its attitudes towards power, relationships, and orientation towards divinity.

It is an interesting question, but neither of these explanations are convincing or correct. The reason SF/F skews heavily left is actually very easy to understand. First, it is inordinately consumed by fat women and gamma males, or to put it another way, social losers seeking escape from the reality that they find painful. Second, those fat women and gamma males have been in control of SF/F publishing for several decades, so the delta males who used to read and write SF/F have largely gravitated towards thrillers and mil-SF if they read and computer games if they don’t.


“Scalzi at his best!”

Well, that’s certainly true. At long last, the much-anticipated Foundation rip-off The Collapsing Empire is out, and by all accounts, McRapey has surpassed himself. From one of the first reviews:

Scalzi laces his plot with plenty of humor, some of it gentle, some of it barbed, and some of it rather broad. I enjoyed little exchanges like this one between the emperox and her aide:

“[T]he executive committee…wants to marry me off.”
“They want to preserve an existing alliance.”
“An alliance with terrible people”
“Really nice people don’t usually accrue power.”
“You’re saying I’m kind of an outlier,” Cardenia said.
“I don’t recall saying you were nice.”

Scalzi’s characters come alive much better than is common in space opera. I enjoyed getting to know them and even to care about them, from spunky Cardenia, who had never expected or wanted to become experox, to Kiva, the potty-mouthed member of a powerful guild family. (SF readers who decry the relative deficit of strong female characters in the genre, take note. In retrospect I realize that most of the really memorable characters in the book are women.)

Brilliant stuff! Spunk and potty-mouthed wit! Keep in mind these excerpts are not clunkers I am cherry-picking as being particularly terrible, these are excerpts that fans and Tor employees have been selecting on the basis of a belief that they are the best the book has to offer. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what we are assured is “the heart of modern Sci-Fi” and “the best SF writer of his generation.”

Which, if either statement were true, would be a damning indictment indeed.  Fortunately, it’s only obese midwits less well-read than the average illiterate Venezuelan peasant, who think snarky space romance is the height of cleverness, that actually believe that.

Seeing the SF-SJWs unite in a desperate attempt to convince the reading world that Scalzi is actually a good science fiction writer very much reminds me of the Democrats trying to convince everyone that Hillary Clinton was a good presidential candidate. Not only are their efforts unconvincing, but their bizarre overselling reveals that even the people pushing the idea don’t believe it.

But don’t worry, you can totally trust the SF-SJW reviews. And the New York Times bestseller ranks achieved months in advance of publication too.

The Collapsing Empire (The Interdepency #1)
by John Scalzi (Goodreads Author)

Renay’s review May 24, 2016
it was amazing
Can’t say much about this yet BUT DON’T WORRY I WILL, I WILL HAVE SOME WORDS.

That’s a pretty positive five-star review, particularly for a book that wasn’t actually published for another 10 months.

UPDATE: My position on fake reviews is what it has always been: never write fake reviews, for good or for ill. If you have not read a book or played a game, then you should not even consider reviewing it. As a former nationally syndicated professional game reviewer, I do not approve of fake reviews no matter who the author or developer is. Unlike most published authors, I have always abided by Amazon guidelines and never review books or games on Amazon. The only place I write reviews are a) on this blog, and b) on Recommend.

UPDATE: Castalia author-to-be Brian Niemeier addresses the increasing desperation of Tor Books. He’s got a good point. If Tor actually had any confidence in their author’s ability to compete with our book, they wouldn’t have freaked out and begged Amazon to take it down. When Alexandra Erin published a parody of SJWAL, did we do that?

No, we simply laughed at the fact that the book, along with the parody and the parody of the parody, ranked as the #1, #2, and #3 bestsellers in the Political Philosophy category.