It depends on your point of view

The story goes that old bloke gets the final call, and there he arrives at the gates… and says to the gate-man. “Before I go in, is this heaven or hell?”

And the gate-man says “It depends on your point of view.”

The old geezer says “Huh?” (you know, one of those deep meaningful philosophical comments I make all the time. Because my mind is too highly trained).

And the gate-man opens the gate a crack, and there is his old mate Jim, who was in the car with him when they crashed, and must have got here before him, sitting next to the river, with a full bottle of their favorite bourbon in his hand and a gorgeous naked curvy blond woman on his knee. “Are you coming in?” says the gate-man.

Now Fred’s about to surge forward to join Jim, when the point of view thing comes back to him. “Just what do you mean by ‘the point of view’?”

“Well,” says the gate-man. “He thinks he’s in heaven, she thinks she’s in hell.”
Fred says… “So what do I get?”

And the gate-man says “I thought you preferred brunettes.” And a luscious one, dressed the same way as Jim’s blond comes in view as the gate-man holds out a full bottle of Bourbon. “It’s yours and it will never be empty.”

And Fred’s in through the gate faster than you can say ‘Gollum attenuatus‘.

And the devil closes the gate, and says: “Of course from my point of view, which neither of those fellows could know, is that the bottle stays full because there’s no way into it or the woman being punished.”

Now I’ve been editing CHANGELING’S ISLAND this last week, (In general, I’d think I’d prefer brimstone.)and it’s been hard going. The reason was very simple. The editor wanted more detail on the hero’s parents and why they’re doing what they’re doing. This makes sense, and seems a particularly easy thing to do.

Except of course that neither parent is a point of view character, and they not on scene, so we can’t have the point of view character seeing or hearing or even being told just what is going on in their lives. We can only know just what the POV character knows. Well. I could do ‘omniscient’ point of view, but I find that weakens the tension considerably. It’s fair to say that many relationship dramas in writing stem from point of view issues. Of course being omniscient, and knowing Judy is not thinking about sex but shoes, or that Henry’s deep deep brooding expression is not mourning for his long lost Susie, but for the Green Bay Packers would cause more and bloodier and different issues, but generally the unreliable narrator/s giving the situation from their point of view makes for nicer story, with less corpses. I think I worked through the issues, at least as far as possible without adding more than 3000 words I did, but it reminded me again just how vital that point of view is. And that the devil is in the details.

Speaking of points of view, I wanted to add something to Brad’s Torgersen very gentle point of view on the pushback against the Sad Puppies 3. I think it is fairly important when writing a point of view to establish where it comes from, and what could motivate that point of view, and of course how reliable that narrator is known to be on the subject. Let’s start by saying a lot of the outrage and smear is coming from Making Light and commenters thereon, the mouthpiece of an editor at Tor, and a major force in Now, at the moment I’m busy putting together a database of the Hugo history. Tor and indeed in shorter works are very, very extensively represented. Out of proportion to their share of new publications. As a large, powerful publisher with influence and with a considerable camp following, suggesting they ‘check their privilege’ before whining and bad-mouthing is not a joke, even if it is hilarious goose-sause. Of course, depending on your point of view, they may just be able to find better books or have better editors. If it’s better books they’ll have stood the test of time… Hmmm. Well, check the sales rankings. If it’s better editors… well, check sales rankings. How embarrassing. I do understand why they would be very angry about the status quo being disturbed though.

The other thing is just how familiar those bad-mouth slanders and slurs and campaign seemed. It’s a technique we’ve encountered before… Someone called ‘Requires Hate’ who was much beloved by many of the crowd who hang out with the Anti-puppies and, it seems by the evidence, a darling (for no reason whatsoever) of a couple of the major figures on That’s the crowd that nourished this viper, and used her for a role model. The pattern seems to have endured, even if she’s not doing it.

From my point of view it’s really funny. Especially the projection.

You see, from my point of view I don’t have a darling I’d like to see get a Hugo. I couldn’t care less. Given the award’s present status it’s not going to do them a lot of good. Authors I like are populist, not literary, and getting the same award as Politically Correct ‘literary’ garbage (from my point of view), isn’t going to sell extra copies to their audience. If anything it might sell the literary garbage, or revive the value of the award. I would however derive a lot of satisfaction from their angry frothing at the mouth, and being proved right about the ‘elitist’ clique thrashing about viciously trying to keep their hold on power. I don’t want that power – I think it is a terrible idea that anyone has it. I’m all for it being a real people’s choice. Then it’d point me to books and stories I might want to read.

29 thoughts on “It depends on your point of view

  1. A thought… it seems to me what irritates them most is that many of the authors in sad puppies are, essentially, lending their prestige to the award rather than the award lending prestige to the author. I think that, as much as the ‘this is OUR pond’ explains the outrage, or perhaps the flavor of outrage. They’re desperate to prove they don’t NEED the modern big names… Because if the Hugo needs to borrow prestige it proves they’ve been playing with NOTHING for so long.

        1. RIGHT! I miss those organic storage unit access pathways.
          I bought Rashomon and Seven Samurai from a purveyor of DVDs on eBay, maybe 15 years ago. Now I’m going to have to go look through the stacks of software, music, and movies in my man cave because I need to watch them with 10 year old Kenny, my acquired son via my gift-from-God, happily-ever-after trophy wife Vanessa, the elegant foxy praying black grandmother of Woodstock, GA.

          1. FOUND SEVEN SAMURAI!!!! And watched half of it with my gift-from-God, happily-ever-after trophy wife Vanessa, the elegant foxy praying black grandmother of Woodstock, GA. How I love that woman! I interrupted her nap to get her to watch the movie, and SHE DID IT! She is SO good to me!

  2. The only thing I’d like is some of the advertising dollars that get spent on those hugo winners. As I’m outselling ancillary justice on Amazon (or was last time I checked) it makes me wonder just how much better i could be doing if I had just a fraction of their advertising budget! (I think I spent about 400 dollars total on all advertizing last year).
    As an indy, I know my chances of anything hugo related are less than zero.

    1. Maybe, today. Tomorrow? Heh.
      That’s what They­™ are afraid of. We might actually *read* unapproved/uncertified works – and If This Goes On… why, the Unwashed Will Be Voting AlongSide US!

      /thread derail
      (What’s in the pipeline? Book 4 of the portal series, or are you doing a sequel to the The Hammer Commission?)
      /thread rerail

      1. Book 4 of the Portal Series is almost done. As in, hopefully today or tomorrow.

        It would have been completed last week, but unfortunately my Father passed unexpectedly on the 26th, and I had to fly to NY for the funeral, and to deal with issues (both legal and family). I only got back home late last night. Once I get it finished I need to send it to my proofreader, who can hopefully turn it around quickly.

        You can see the cover for the new book on my blog at:

    2. The issue of advertizing has – for fixed cost reasons (fixed costs in producing a book that sells 100 copies are not that different from those that sell 100 000 copies – but in the latter the cost is divided by the entire 100 000 making it negligible and the profit considerably bigger) -always been heavily skewed to books that sell or are expected to sell a lot. This of course works against merit judgement. It’s one thing that the awards process is intended to help a little with – get notice for books that have merit but not necessarily push. But that only works by the award going – at least some years, to vastly popular books – then lifts the selling/advertizing potential of the award.

  3. Seems to me that Larry and Sarah and the rest of the ELoE crowd (and I consider myself at least a cheerleader and supporter) are tilting at windmills. The prima effing donna SJWs who have control over the Hugos are well entrenched and way too far along the path to turning what once was a fan exercise into a literary circle jerk that only the anointed may participate in.
    I say fine, let them. Let them stew in their own thin juices until the Hugos become something that once mattered but has long since died on the vine.
    Instead, we should turn our considerable talents towards developing a mechanism that will truly evaluate available SF&F, a reliable gauge for the interested fan to peruse and hopefully find their next new favorite author. Some form of award may come into play, but at least let’s try to develop a recommended reading list that at a minimum does not discriminate between indie and traditionally published works.
    Time and again I’ve heard the same complaint: I used to look to the Hugo winners for new books, new authors, that I might want to read. But no longer. Rather, the Hugo list has become the special poster child for a certain disfunctional social conscience movement to feel good about while never actually reading any nominated works or even the winners.
    The bastiches have killed the Hugo awards, may Mr. Gernsback’s ghost give them many a sleepless night in repayment.

    1. IMHO, that’s the point of SP1,2,3. The RightPeople™ have turned morals into greygoo, heroes into antisuperheros, and CorrectThought to be prized above stories that make you think.

      It’s not their award – its an award from all of us. Most of us either didn’t know how to nominate, or had given up trying to bail greygoo with a colander.

      Setting up a new award means relinquishing the battlefield, and letting the swamp of festering hate and SocialJustice subsume the achievements of those who went before. I say, Nay!

      Now, we are not alone. Now, there is hope.

    2. Uncle Lar – ‘I used to look to the Hugo winners for new books, new authors, that I might want to read. But no longer. ‘ – which you’d think would make the circle-jerk very keen to get a few bestsellers from outside their circle in there to enhance the reputation of the award. But they’re not.

      1. I’ve been fairly unimpressed with Hugo material for close to 20 years now. But I’d thought it was more a matter of my taste, and not a dilution/adulteration of the genre.

        It took a slap in the face from Asimov’s magazine to make me wake up and smell the compost…

    3. You mean something like The Year’s Best Military SF & Space Opera? With a story from this collection “chosen via proctored on-line voting as Year’s Best Military and Adventure Science Fiction Story, with the award to be presented at a major science fiction convention in late August 2015.”

      Go over here and read all about it!

      Then when the time comes, vote! Pick the Year’s Best!

      1. Sometimes, a situation really DOES call for the use of profane language to express a reaction.
        As in: THIS IS $^%#%$^*&(*^ING INCREDIBLE!!!!! WHAT A GREAT IDEA!!!

  4. I want to reclaim the Hugos. We can of course come up with our own award – and if it were awarded at (say) DragonCon it would get publicity that would dwarf the Hugo/Worldcon circus – but I actually think this is a fight worth fighting and that it is one that a signifcant fraction of current worldcon attendees/WSFS members would support. The way I read some of the comments in various places, the direness of the Hugo nominations and the miserable voting levels recently (pre 2014 at least), does make quite influential SMOFs and whatever ratehr embarrassed. They’d welcome more involvement and better choices even if they would possibly disagree with some of a Sad Puppy slate of choices

    To that end, it does seem to me that SP4 should seek to highlight non-trad pub authors. They can (should) be, as with SP3, ideologically neutral eith the sole criterion being not published by any major pub – essentially (sorry Baen authors) this implies ignoring any book that is actually ever available at Barnes & Noble (or equivalent). There’s a good reason for this (beyond the wailing and gnashing of teeth that this would engender in certain places) – namely demonstrating that trad pub is a minor part of the SF scene these days in a way that would be very very hard to explain away.

  5. Dave, I’m doing the same thing and I’m seeing the same thing, although I think you’re further along. Shoot me an email so we don’t reinvent the wheel. You can publish, I’ll link.

  6. Normally, I post my notification of posted reviews on the most recent MGC, but nobody has commented (here) on Brad’s excellent blogpost.
    So here it is: I just finished reviewing Kate Paulk’s “Night Shifted,” a neat little short story about a vampire who clerks in a convenience store. Big shout out to The Real McChuck,for the loan for review purposes. Review just went live on Amazon, and is on my blog as well.

  7. I hate making back to back comments. But Kate’s work is a short story, and I read it after finishing Dave Duncan’s “Magic Casement,” which is also just reviewed on Amazon and on my blog. No kidding, it’s a great read. I don’t READ things that aren’t great reads. That’s because if the author hasn’t gotten my by the end of the first page, I move on.

  8. Trying to get stuff into a narrative when you can’t show it directly *is* incredibly hard, Dave. I’m sure you’ll figure it out, and I’m also sure I’ll enjoy reading it once you do. (You’re high on the priority list for authors I’ll shell out $$ to read, in case you didn’t know this already.)

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