And the tantrums continue

I’m in a quandary this morning. My head is already back into the final edits I’ve been doing for the last week plus on a novel that is very different from anything I’ve ever done before. I’ve been alternating between loving the work (on very rare occasions) and hating it enough that I want to delete all versions of it and burn the print versions. So, trying to sit down and write a blog post is a challenge this morning. Trying to find a topic to write about that isn’t Hugo related is near to impossible.

So, I did what I usually do. I started checking my usual list of blogs and Facebook and other forms of social media. Instead of finding blog fodder, I got pulled into a long thread where there was an actual discussion about the merits of one of last year’s nominees and why some of those supporting the SP/RP efforts dislike it so much. It was a good thread even if it didn’t have enough to feed a full blog post. So I moved on.

I shook my head when I came across a comment from one of the more vocal anti-puppy authors with yet another screed about how the Puppies have broken the Hugos. Nothing new there. Puppies didn’t break the rules but they have no ethics. Bad puppies, piddling on the Hugo floor. If we don’t learn to be better behaved, they might just smack our noses with a rolled up paper. Since this particular author isn’t going to consider a differing opinion, there was no sense in posting to his wall. The only thing it would have gotten me was banned. Oh, wait, that might not be a bad thing.

However, one comment from another of those who have been rather vocal about how bad the Puppies are made a comment to the effect that if there had been more “quality” titles from the left side, she might actually have supported the Puppies. Wait, what? If we had advocated more of the “right sort” of literature, she would have supported us? No qualms about the “slate” aspect if Puppies had chosen the right kind of work to push. So, I guess it would have been ethical to have a slate if we had been promoting the right books and authors.


I could go on but Dave did a much better job of poking holes in the arguments of the other side than I ever could. Besides, with my brain in edit mode, I simply don’t have the desire to get into a full-fledged take down of some of the more asinine comments and posts I’ve seen of late. The logic of so many of them fails on almost every level, from assigning SP3 as some sort of partner or even tool of GamerGate to fear that if SP3 is successful we might — gasp — get a writer like Diana Gabaldon winning a Hugo and we mustn’t have that because she writes icky romances.

Give me a freaking break. (Yes, I said something different but I’m censoring myself this morning.)

I think it was this last one that sent me screaming into the night. The fear that someone who writes fantasy with a distinct romance bent might be nominated, much less win was so over the top. It was as if those making the complaint truly believes science fiction and fantasy are still pure genres. Obviously they haven’t read much lately. If they had, they would see that there is genre crossing all around. Yes, you can, with a lot of searching, find a pure hard science fiction novel, but they are few and far between. Fantasy has, for years, had some aspect of mystery or romance or the like in it. The mixing of genres, when done well, is a good thing.

I’ll repeat that, mixing of genres when done well is a good thing.

It helps by bringing in readers who might never have picked up a science fiction or fantasy book. That brings more money to the writers and publishers. It will bring in even more new readers as word of mouth spreads. Where is the harm in all that?

The very fact that some of those who are anti-Puppy are afraid that icky romance writers might invade their ivory towers of Awardland simply proves what so many of us have been saying. Those folks have gotten too comfortable with their hold on the awards and refuse to admit, even to themselves, that there might be award-worthy books outside their comfort zone. It is especially apparent when you look at the Hugos and realize that they really are nothing but a popularity contest. I guess, when you think about it, those who have gotten figuratively fat and happy with their lock on the Hugos should be afraid of popular works invading their little fiefdom.

Think about it. Nora Roberts, writing under her name or her pen name of J. D. Robb, puts out at least two to four books a year that could qualify as science fiction or fantasy. Her fan base is enormous. It wouldn’t take much to mobilize her fans to pay the money for a supporting membership and to then nominate her for a Hugo. It would almost be worth seeing the mass hysteria that would break out should both she and Gabaldon be nominated in a single year. It would also be fun to see what sort of attack plan the anti-Puppies would launch against them. If they think we are bad mannered, uncivilized cretins because we dare stand up for what we believe, wait until they face the wrath of the romance readers.

Pardon me while I pause for a bit and consider that image. Yes, that is a smile on my face. This image may become one of my happy places.

The whole point of this is simple: those who are fighting so hard to maintain the status quo need to get over themselves and admit that there are more folks out there who care deeply for science fiction and fantasy than just them. If they want to limit the Hugos to only those who are Fans as opposed to fans, then they need to take steps to rewrite the rules to keep the riff-raff out. Of course, doing so will be an admission that they didn’t like the way the rules have been written and that they have had to take steps to maintain their own control over the award.

Here is the question those who are complaining the loudest about the Puppies must ask themselves — and it is a question many of them don’t want to answer in public. Are the Hugo Awards supposed to be chosen by a very small group of self-appointed Fans or are they supposed to be chosen by fans-at-large? In other words, are the awards supposed to mean something to the fans who actually go out and buy our books and movies or only to a few who want to keep them within the popular kids’ club?

For me, I think anyone and everyone who wants to vote for what they think is the best book or short story or whatever should be able to and not fear a backlash the likes of what we are seeing this year. Perhaps it is time for the adults to step forward and tell the children to quit throwing tantrums.


107 thoughts on “And the tantrums continue

  1. It would be fun if one of the Eve Dallas novels got nominated. [Very Big Evil Grin]

    Of course, IMO they are more mysteries (with a touch of romance in the early ones) than they are SF.

    Before somebody “jumps down my throat” on this, part of my “standard” for SF is that the story couldn’t be written without the “future tech”.

    Many of the Eve Dallas novels could be set in today’s world and worked as mysteries.

    Others like “Fantasy In Death” could not be set in today’s world and worked as mysteries.

    Oh, I enjoyed all of them and the series is on my “To Be Purchased As Soon As They Are Available” list. [Smile]

  2. we might — gasp — get a writer like Diana Gabaldon winning a Hugo and we mustn’t have that because she writes icky romances.

    Or maybe someone like Catherine Asaro who writes hard SF (as one might expect from a physicist smarter than three of me) with a strongly romantic flavor?

    I would be completely down with that.

      1. My thought exactly. And considering the freakout that the Sad Puppies caused, can you imagine the reaction to 10,000+ “Happy Butterflies” voters ????

    1. I’m a bit confused by this response, mostly because Catherine Asaro has been explicitly held up by Vox Day in the past as an example of what is wrong with awards in the science fiction community:

      More generally, I’m confused by the idea that puppies on the whole are on the pro-genre crossing side and that it is their enemies who are opposed to it. While keeping in mind that both sides are large and consist of many different voices, I can’t help but be reminded of something Brad Torgersen wrote near the beginning of all this: “This is not an irreversible trend. But we’re pretty deep into the unraveling, and there may not be enough cohesive force to keep SF/F tied together as a whole. The field may simply blow apart entirely, like a supernova. The different pieces spinning off into the universe, leaving a dead neutron core (or even a singularity) in its place. No more identifiable SCIENCE FICTION. Just SF-flavored war fiction, or SF-romance, or SF-mysteries, or Fantasy-flavored cop dramas, etc. The center (as the saying goes) may not hold.” Torgersen is here explicitly defending maintaining the purity of science fiction through the Sad Puppies campaign in the face of genre crossing. So tell me again how it’s the non-puppies who are gnashing their teeth at the idea of nominating cross genre works?

      1. I’m a bit confused by this response, mostly because Catherine Asaro has been explicitly held up by Vox Day in the past as an example of what is wrong with awards in the science fiction community:

        I’m not Vox Day, nor am I responsible for what he says.

        Torgersen is here explicitly defending maintaining the purity of science fiction through the Sad Puppies campaign in the face of genre crossing.

        “Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?”

        Brad has been very clear from the start: “Story first, all else is peccadillo”. Sad Puppies is a response to the narrowing of science fiction, particularly while proclaiming “diversity” said diversity only going “skin deep”, or maybe “naughty bits deep”–reminds me of a line from a porn flick: “The deepest I plan to go with you is eight inches…my dear–while real diversity, diversity of thought, belief, and philosophy, are deliberately excluded. But in all cases, story first. Want a message? Great, so long as it’s wrapped in a compelling story.

        Story first.

  3. Even better than Nora Roberts: that Jayne Castle/Jayne Taylor/Jayne Bentley/Stephanie James/Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Glass/Amanda Quick lady. I could probably get my mom voting for the Hugos, then.

    But then Vox Day will load up a slate of nothing by paranormal/sci-fi romance writers so he can destroy both the Hugos and the romance markets. Everyone keeps telling me he’s some kind of evil genius, so I know he’d do it!

    1. Jayne Castle/Jayne Taylor/Jayne Bentley/Stephanie James/Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Glass/Amanda Quick

      Is that all the same person? I think I was talking about Jayne Ann Krentz’s novels with the Dust Bunnies the other day (After Dark is the first one it looks like?). I have read a bunch of her stuff in different genre’s.

      I would happily buy a membership and vote for one of her things just to watch people’s heads explode. I would also like to see them try to sell the romance stuff as all men!

      1. All the same person. My mom is a HUGE fan, and I always try to fill in a chunk of her catalog anytime a birthday/christmas rolls around. As such, I get some pretty wild suggestions from Amazon.

        Apparently (per wikipedia, anyway) she pioneered fusion of traditional romance genre with science fiction? So, yes, exploding heads all around when and if the sci-fi community decides to recognize how much more influential she is than the current “gatekeepers”.

        1. I went through a ton of her Amanda Quick stuff when I was in a romance novel phase, and a bunch of the Jayne Castle scifiish stuff and the Jayne Ann Krentz is mostly mystery/thriller? I think she’s a decent writer but I had no idea she ‘pioneered’ anything. That is pretty great, if true.

  4. So, next year we might think about a SF/F Romance recommended reading list* and an SF/F Mystery recommended reading list*. In addition to the usual, of course. Just to increase the visibility of some non-mainline writers. Huggy Puppies and Sherlock Puppies. Or maybe Nero Wolf Puppies . . .

    * “Recommended reading list” substituted for “slate”, as some people have triggered on that horrible word.

  5. Also:

    The very fact that some of those who are anti-Puppy are afraid that icky romance writers might invade their ivory towers of Awardland simply proves what so many of us have been saying.

    To an extent this is based on the “fixed pie” theory of economics. If these “icky romance writers” start getting awards and selling more books to “SF/F fans” then they, the literary darlings, will have to sell less.

    Well, maybe they will but not because the amount of book buying is fixed but because what they write, so far as the average reader is concerned, is crap and the only sales they get is from sheer desperation of people buying “the only game in town” (or close to it).

    J. K. Rolling did not steal sales from other writers. If anything she brought more readers _in_. People finish the Harry Potter books, want something else and at least a few of them will pick up some other books. Same thing with Stephanie Meyers (okay, I shudder at the thought of Twilight, but from a practical perspective…)

    IMO, this is an application of the whole “fixed pie” thing that is an article of faith to the Left. (And that is very much a leftist thing–the right groks “untapped markets” and “economic growth” to the same extent that the Left rejects them.)

    1. John Ringo, Larry Correia, David Weber etc have done more for sci-fi- by bringing people back to the genre and getting them to buy book again- than many of the ‘in’ crowd has ever done. In fact, they have likely driven a bunch of people out of the genre.

    2. And that is very much a leftist thing–the right groks “untapped markets” and “economic growth” to the same extent that the Left rejects them.

      Indeed. And here is the thing about ‘stealing’ from other markets – even if that were true who says making someone read more would steal from the book market. When I am reading more, I am watching less tv, or playing on the internet less, or even shopping less. So even if I am spending less money on something else, it could be I have diverted some of my shoe budget to books for a while. That’s not going to hurt any writers!

    3. Exactly. When Harry Potter novels were released, I saw 12-year-olds standing in line at midnight during summer vacation to buy books. Many weren’t previously SF/F readers.

        1. As my wife, who used to work in the schools put it, “Harry Potter isn’t that well written, but it encouraged thousands of kids to read, who otherwise wouldn’t have. For that J. K. Rowling has to be commended.”

          That was in a talk to the Spring Pulse Poetry Festival.

          And that reminds me, I have to call David and find out how he wants me to handle the sound system this year….

    4. That “fixed-pie” article of faith also reinforces the “us vs. Them” paranoia they use to keep their followers loyal and active.

  6. I would have absolutely no problem with Diana Gabaldon being nominated, or even winning. Suggesting that such a thing would be horrible makes me laugh. I may not be a fan of the romance, but the rest certainly fits the genre.

    1. The question is WHY would she want it. The bitterly funny part of this is that most romance writers would go “who is Hugo, and why should I care?” It’s only within our particular geek fest that romance is somehow below sf/f. (Rolls eyes.) The multiculturalists have failed to check their provincial assumptions.

      1. What’s interesting is I’ve heard about Diana Gabaldon and her Outlander series but didn’t think to read it or watch it. Now, I’m interested in seeing how she handles “changing the past or not”. [Smile]

        1.         Gabaldon’s series is amusing, because she didn’t intend to write it.  The first novel was supposed to be a straight historical romance, a ‘practice’ book before she tried something that might actually be published.  But heroine Claire Randall just refused to be a proper 18th Century damsel in distress, so Gabaldon finally decided that if she insisted on acting like a 20th Century woman, she could bloody well be one, and dumped a WWII nurse into Scotland around 1745.  The rest is (heh heh) history.

      2. The fact that most romance writers would say that says a lot about how much the Hugo has declined. I know Lawrence Block has never written SF/F but is an Edgar, Anthony, and Shamus winner. I’m pretty sure having read some of his works on writing he’s aware of the Hugo. I doubt that was odd in the 60s and 70s, genre writers knowing the other genre awards and would have appreciated a crossover win.

        Now days, it appears not so much.

        1. Actually Block wrote a smattering of sf in his early days. I don’t know if there’s enough for a collection like there was of Don Westlake’s early sf, but Asimov reprinted one of his sf stories in Great SF series DAW published in the 80s.

          1. I didn’t realize he had. He mentions a few times how much he loves it but just can’t seem to write it. Then again, he admits he served his apprenticeship writing softcore porn so you never know with him.

            I’ll have to see what I can track down. Matthew Scudder is my favorite series character of all time plus I’ve enjoyed most of the other Block I’ve read. Only Bernie Rhodenbarr didn’t do much for me. I read The Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling because he discusses it quite a bit in his book on writing the novel but that was it for that series.

      3. Not speaking for DG, but the abuse and vitriol she endured because she dared, dared, to say she wasn’t comfortable with fanfic since it was people she didn’t know doing things with the characters she created that she didn’t care for … I don’t think subjecting her to round 2 of this year’s nastiness would be a kindness at all.

  7. From some discussions I have had with the opposition, many of them cannot grasp that there are fans the don’t or no longer go to conventions. They can’t grasp how much bigger the genre has become beyond the 70’s. It’s amazing and pathetic at the same time. One guy kept going back to saying we were hiring transients to vote. He was a mystery writer that read science fiction. Of course, this guy also thought Beale’s primary fan base was WMD because that is where his relatives knew him from. We had to point out to him that Beale almost certainly had a much bigger following from GamerGate.

    Speaking of GamerGate, someone made a comment on Twitter say they thought about only about half of Beale’s RabidPuppies were actual SciFi fans and about half were in it for the “Lulz”. I had wondered the same thing. I remember past comments from us saying “If GamerGate had become involved there would have been even more votes.” I think they may have become involved. $40 isn’t much but it’s a lot if you don’t actually care about what you are paying for. We thought we might get 300 Spartans but instead got a dozen berserkers. Not bad but not really what we expected.

    1. yes, because the millions of gamers that spend millions of dollars to buy well-written sci-fi games are not real scifi fans…

      1. I’ve noticed that being a Sci-Fi fan does not mean the person is interested in the Hugos. I was trying to convince my brother, a big Jim Butcher fan, to vote and he pointed out that he would keep buying Dresden Files books with or without the award. He simply did not care. He is as big a Sci-Fi fan as any of the rest of us. He just does not think the Hugo Award is very important.

        The same applies for GamerGate. Not all gamers read Science Fiction. Even if they do read Science Fiction it does not mean they care about the Hugo Awards.Now, some of these may not care about the Hugo Awards but they may see a bunch of Sci-Fi fans that are taking what is, to them, a minor award far too seriously. They may have seen Rabid Puppies as a way to grief the award and laugh at all the sturm und drang that followed. The supposed rigidity of the Rabid Puppies slate would tend to support this.

        All this is gut speculation. My gut also tells me that Taco Bell isn’t going to give me the runs this time so it’s been known to be wrong.

        1. Yes.

          Twenty years ago, we all thought the Hugos and Nebulas were pretty important.

          Then they stopped meaning anything .

          1. The SJW’s and Lit-Critters destroyed the Hugos and Nebulas. And still don’t grasp what they did.

            The only chance these awards ever have of ever meaning anything again is if the Puppies shake the SJW death-grip on them.

  8. Does Urban Fantasy get a seat at the table? Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan/The Hollows series rocks that genre.

    1. Well, we’re the group that got Jim Butcher FINALLY nominated… Though, to be honest, I’m baffled that his Codex Alera didn’t. I mean, that work of absolute awesome came from someone daring Jim that he couldn’t write a book about a silly/impossible/weird premise. Jim said “Tell you what, give me two.”

      “Pokemon and The Lost Roman Legion.”

      He wrote a series.

      Looking forward to his steampunk series.

      1. To be fair, Furies of Calderon reads like a first novel. Academ and onwards, however…

        1. I was actually okay with that. It let me disconnect expectations of Dresden, and gave me the same kind of reading experience I enjoyed with reading The Belgariad for the first time. I’d read David Eddings’ Elenium / Tamuli first before Belgariad/Malloreon.

          Not sure if that makes any sense, but that’s how it felt like for me.

          1. All of which I still own and read. but for my money The Redemption of Althalus is his best ever because it’s a stand alone.

            1. I haven’t got that and the last trilogy Eddings wrote. I was moving overseas and reasoned that adding more books to the 27-29 shipping boxes I already had packed was probably a bad idea. (Hubby insisted that we move my library over to Australia. ❤ )

        2. Oddly I read Furies no problem but quit Academ halfway through. That from a guy who takes a vacation day when a Dresden book comes out and starts passing it around the office the next day because I’m done.

      2. I’m looking forward to his steampunk series, too.

        Of course, I’d pay to read his Honey Do list.

        1. You know what I’d love to see happen? Larry Correia and Jim Butcher do some RPGs together. I originally started reading Larry’s blog because I found out he was writing the fictionized results of his Legend of the Five Rings game sessions. Found out MUUUUUUUCH later that he was a pro author. Grabbed his first MH book, blazed through it, and started giving copies of it to people as gifts, as well as grabbing the rest of the series and blazing through that. Larry is one of the authors on my OMG S/HE HAS A BOOK MUST PREORDER A MONTH BEFORE RELEASE author list, and both he and Butcher sit in the side of our library we put as “Highly entertaining, with lots of reread value.”

          1. LOL one of my online girlfriends is now working her way through the MHI books. She’s on Nemesis now. Going to try Hard Magic after and ..[god help me] I brought John Ringo’s name into one of our discussions talking about how prolific some authors are. Note to self MUST keep her away from the Ghost books. Must keep her away from the Ghost books Must keep her way from ……………………….

            1. One of my longtime friends, who is also a very, very blue liberal, recommended John Ringo’s “OH JOHN RINGO NO” books to me recently and said it was HILARIOUS FUN. He also tracked down that livejournal post and I busted a gut laughing reading it and the responses. But he and I have very similar reading tastes so yeah.

              1. I actually have one of the “OH JOHN RINGO NO” T-shirts that were being sold (with Ringo’s approval) by the guy who did the Livejournal review. I’m surprised by the thumbs-up I get from people on the rare occasions I wear it out in public.

                1. Mine started to get a trifle warn out and beat up looking so, it’s in my dresser drawer where it shall stay. least til I lose enough weight to wear it again. 😛

          2. Yes – Butcher’s on my “never too early to pre-order” list; along with Patricia Briggs and Thomas Sniegoski (well, his Remy Chandler novels at least); I have MHI on my Kindle. Such a huge TBR list; so little time!

            1. I kinda have to wait at least a month or two before preordering a book because of the possibility we might be moved suddenly. I work on the philosophy that TBR book stacks mean I’m never bored and I have books to read between my ‘these get read NOW’ books.

              1. OK – I don’t even want to think about the agonies of having a long-awaited title ship to an old address and be delayed so much as an additional nanosecond. One of the best things about e-books is the fact that I can preorder and they’ll just download automatically to my Nook or Kindle (yes I have both – it’s complicated); the only problem is I can’t figure out how to organize them into a TBR stack (poor poor me to have such problems). I rather like having a large TBR, to be honest; it’s like a security blanket LOL.

                (Totally OT, but I’m getting ever-so-pissy at the price of e-books from BigPub – $10 for a “pb-release”? Seriously? Going to stop now before hair stands all on head.)

                1. *grin* I think that rant is a usual Mad Genius Club topic / According To Hoyt site complaint, sooo… I’m not sure if I should dissuade or encourage.

                  Also, you’re talking to a woman who used to cart around ‘extra books in case I got stuck in gridlock.’ Literary security blankets are something I totally understand.

                  And now I have this mental image of you all cat-puffed.

                  1. True Confession Time – here’s why I have both a Nook and a Kindle – so that I can cart around @500+ books with me and not break my back. (Why do you need so many with you, Maevey? Well, what if I just happen to need to re-read On The Beach while standing in an interminably long line at the bank?)

                    Once we were going on vacation and I packed so many books in my luggage (just in case….) that the weight overage was like $200.

                    I have no legitimate excuses.

                    1. Once we were going on vacation and I packed so many books in my luggage (just in case….) that the weight overage was like $200.

                      That’s why, back when I was still doing fairly regular international travel on business (mostly to Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the like) I started carrying a Palm device (this was before Kindle was even a gleam in Amazon Execs’ eyes). I could stick a bunch of books on the memory stick (later SD card) on my palm device and not risk running out while traveling. Later, I went to an iPod Touch and finally to my smartphone. But the basic premise is the same: I can carry a hefty library in my pocket so that I can read anywhere I have a spare minute (yes, even there).

                    2. My greatest fear: getting stuck on my way home with the drawbridge raised and having to wait some interminable amount of time WITH NO BOOK.

                    3. I had 27 or 29 1 cubic meter boxes of books. Hubby felt it a crime that my library would be left behind. When he came back from Afghanistan and they had a stopover at Dubai, he went to Kinokuniya there (which is freaking HUGE; you need a computer generated map to find your genre) and came home with a pile of books because they were all duty-free.

                      I have no legitimateneed for excuses.

                      Fixed that for you =) Books are reason enough, no need for excuses ever.

                2. Totally OT, but I’m getting ever-so-pissy at the price of e-books from BigPub – $10 for a “pb-release”? Seriously? Going to stop now before hair stands all on head

                  If I can pick up a paperback at target for less than the kindle price I get massively annoyed. And generally end up getting something at the library or not at all. Things have gotten a bit better since the lawsuit, but not completely.

                  Kindle has been a miracle to me, because I am not adding to my library and I can actually weed it out a little bit. I’m still hanging onto stuff that I reread but every so often I take a bag of books to the library.

                  1. Baen handles that nicely: EARCs are $15; then the released ebooks change price to match the lowest-priced dead-tree versions as they are released.

          3. I don’t know…RPGs have too many “I want to be an author” types writing material that often seems to have little gamability. I’d rather have them write stuff to read and let me file numbers off to game with (although I do own The Dresden Files RPG hardbacks…not sure if I’ll get the third due to issues with Red Hat).

                  1. Yes, but all my Trinity books (don’t you mean Aeon 😉 ) are think and loose.

                    Now my Traveller 5 and Hero System 5th Edition Revised…those are good whacking books (or improvised ballistic plate if needed 😉 )

                    On a more serious note, which books did you have material in out of curiousity?

                    1. Storyteller’s screen, tech manual, and America Offline for writing iirc, plus material that went into the aborted expansion for the mini game. Art-wise… several. America Offline, the Aesculapian book, a couple of the adventure books, and the 3d rendered jumpship they used all over the place.

          4. Howard Taylor’s Schlock RPG sounds like it might be a fun mix with the MH RPG. Alien mercenaries on a security job moonlight for PUFF money, when it all goes horribly wrong.

            Butcher used to do Amber on a mush somewhere. John Wright and Ryk Spoor have also done Amber, have pretty awesome taste in crossover RPGs, and appreciate Shonen Jump.

            I have not the space to also discuss John Ringo and John Biles.

            1. Running is one thing, writing is another. I think WW and its imitators made me really leery of RPG writers who are also fiction writers (or more often want to be fiction writers).

              1. I think you have a valid concern, but there is quite a bit of skill overlap between “good gamemaster” and “good writer”. But I also think really good GMs are rarer than we think.

                Example: I’ve found that verbally describing combat for my players made writing action scenes a snap.

            2. Would that be the same John Biles that did Ranma and Sailor Moon fanfic, usually with a crazy D&D or GURPS game taking up one of the chapters?

  9. “… who want to keep them within the popular kids’ club?”

    I was under the impression that a big part of the fight was figuring out just how popular the kids in the popular kids’ club are.

  10. To be honest, the continuing Hugo saga has started to make my eyes glaze. The puppy kickers will continue to yah-yah and slander and practice hypocrisy as such are wont to do. This is about as surprising as a cat marking territory, and is about as pleasant. Even the self-ghettozation of SF and fantasy isn’t surprising, but is a bit odd given that ideally the worlds of SF and fantasy form the backdrop for character interaction in such a way that it would collapse if the fantastic were removed.

    So it is we have the Grimnoir Chronicles, a fantasy spin on hard boiled detectives; the seemingly never ending Game of Thrones series where fantasy meets soap opera; the Daneel Olivaw series with a detective in an SF setting, and so on and so forth. Without the character elements, these stories become as lackluster. So why not have an SF or fantasy with a romance element? Sparkly vampires aren’t my cup of tea, but many people enjoy them, and it’s hard to argue that the Twilight series isn’t a fantasy first and a romance second. Or you can have Hell on High and have romance, fantasy, and science fiction.

    I think, though, that the real issue isn’t competition, but the “authority” to declare what is and what isn’t science fiction and fantasy. They see themselves as gate keepers, and as such are likely more horrified that works they have not “sanctioned” are gaining popularity as SF and fantasy rather than SF and fantasy with romance elements.

    At least it does set up some ways to have fun. Next year, find something like C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce and watch their heads explode.

    1. Well, Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vamp series certainly had some modest success, vampires, shifters, elves, fairies, pretty much the entire fae pantheon. Certainly fits my understanding of urban fantasy.
      Of course most know it by the name HBO gave the mini series based on her books, True Blood.
      I’d mention Laurell K. Hamilton, but that always gets some folks all spun up.

  11. “However, one comment from another of those who have been rather vocal about how bad the Puppies are made a comment to the effect that if there had been more “quality” titles from the left side, she might actually have supported the Puppies.”

    Did someone just admit that the left side cannot write “quality” titles?

    1. I think it is more she admitted that the standard wasn’t quality first but politics first.

  12. 1. YEah the special snowflakes are being…special. Have been since the beginning.

    2. IIRC Gabaldon was VERY popular back in the day when I worked in the industry and her books were NOT thin little bodice rippers. IIRC a great number of them where Wheel of Time or Stone of Tears in thickness there were so many words. Never read her. ‘me wolfie, never read icky romance’. [hence why I don’t read a good chunk of the crap on the shelf anymore because it’s nothing BUT thinly disguised bodice rippers for my money] it’s a thought. If her novels have enough of a sci fi or fantasy twist to it…go for it. Just to listen to the screams.

    1. Basically, it’s a big family historical saga/romance, except that the female main character keeps going back and forth in time – originally from WWII to Jacobite Scotland stuff, and eventually the Scottish characters moved to the waybacks of the Colonies to get land and a fresh start (as Fiona MacDonald and a lot of Jacobites historically did). It’s a little more complicated than that, and all kinds of plots ensue.

      Also, it’s apparently not true that Outlander was originally a fanfic about Jamie from Doctor Who; but it’s pretty amusing to read the first book as if it were true.

      1. Wait, are these the ones that just started a series on TV?

        A co-worker tried to get me interested but I didn’t bite. Maybe I should have, although I’m liking thinner books these days (as an aside, that’s one thing indie on Amazon has done…word counts under 100K see doable again).

  13. those who are fighting so hard to maintain the status quo need to get over themselves and admit that there are more folks out there who care deeply for science fiction and fantasy than just them.


  14. Personally, I’m hoping next year’s theme is “Let a Thousand Puppies Bloom”. Let everyone and their non-gender-specified sibling post a slate. All I ask is that you tell me why you selected the books, and ask your minions to read the nominees before voting.

    1. On ESR’s blog, someone expressed surprise that with all he’d written about the genre it wasn’t him behind Sad Puppies. He responded,

      If I were going to start a movement, it wouldn’t talk about politics at all. It would be about curing the field of the disease of literary-status envy – celebrating the anti-literary SF ideal of the idea as hero.

      That gave me an idea similar to your “Let a Thousand Puppies Bloom” and I wrote,

      I don’t know how Kate “the Impaler” Paulk is going to run SP4 next year, but here’s an idea for you:

      Come January 2016, open a discussion here on A&D (Armed and Dangerous, the name of ESR’s blog. —JCS) asking for recommendations of SF/F eligible for nominations. Each recommendation should talk about how that work celebrates exactly that “SF ideal of the idea as hero.”

      Optional step (can be farmed out to minions): When nominations open, collect these recommendations into a follow-up post. Not a curated “slate”—some categories will have a dozen examples or more, some may only have one or two.

      (Actually, any blog with readership who read SF/F could do this; and if people had been doing this, and encouraging folks to nominate & vote, Sad Puppies might never have been necessary.)

  15. The panicky response to the thought of a Romance writer winning a Hugo made me want to punch kittens. Mostly because I know more than a couple sci-fi writers who put a thin gloss of romance on their stories because Romance sells better.

    1. She’s not publishing anymore (le sob), but Linnea Sinclair used to write really good SFR (well, I LOATHED Hope’s Folly, but a couple of her books are DIKs for me); they’re not bodice ripper by any stretch (although I don’t mind bodice-ripping as long as the story’s good)

    2. Mostly because I know more than a couple sci-fi writers who put a thin gloss of romance on their stories because Romance sells better.

      Smart people.

  16. A sci-fi / fantasy romance slate would be awesome. (Yes, I’m biased.) I would consider shelling out the money for a membership just for that.

    1. Ok, now I am picturing a bunch of us nominating the scifi romance stuff and then showing up at the convention in KC with girly dresses and hats! Pink and red dresses with flowers maybe. Tea party/Kentucky derby worthy hats. Heels. The whole nine.

      And then watch one of them win and heads explode.

  17. Sir if I may point out as an outsider to all this is it seems that the sad puppies main put unspoken complaint. Is that the powers the be in literary sci fi and fantasy have all ossified and shriveled up into themselves. while life has moved on in the rest of the genre. And it is way over time that the Hugos reflect this.
    For me this affair has shown me more genuinely interesting authors than all the magazines and suchlike I’ve read in a long time.

  18. Oh man, that would be hilarious! SFR for the win!!! Talk about having the ‘special ones’ foaming at the mouth… I’m just going to vote my one little vote and see if it actually makes it through. I’ve been ‘told’ I’m one of those wrongfans…

  19. Thanks for posting this. I’m doing an article on the Hugo Awards for Zauberspiegel, a German fan site, and the more fuel, the better.

  20. Personally, I would do a happy dance if Gabaldon or Roberts/Robb got a Hugo nod. As far as I could tell, so would everyone else discussing it at that particular comment thread. Does that put me on a “side”? An exercise for the student, as they say.

    Regarding what is “worthy” of a Hugo, each voter has their own opinion. I certainly exercise mine. IMO, while Mr Butcher is entertaining, I don’t understand how can someone consider it one of the top 5 SFF novels of 2014. Similarly, Monster Hunter. Were either really better than Annihilation, Strange Bodies, Black Moon, Dark Eden, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, et cetera? 2014 was a *great* year for SFF, but two formulaic series novels are the best and brightest in the opinion of the slate makers? I fundamentally disagree.

    I realize I’m probably not the average reader: I’ve been a professional book reviewer and copywriter for the publishing industry (I might have written the jacket copy for any random book you pick up in your local bookstore), so I read about 200-250 novels a year, at my busiest. At that level of consumption, one starts to identify common phrases, repeated tropes, et alia, and anything that is sparkly and new stands out from the crowd.

    That’s what made Ancillary Justice so very exciting for me: it is classic SF, only the author took the tradition of ships as female-gendered to its logical conclusion, combined it with equally trad space opera, and came up with a lovely iteration. I also enjoyed the hat-tips to Anne McCaffrey’s Ship Who Sang, Heinlein’s ships, and various other “sentient ship” stories. It’s always nice to see an author pay homage to their antecedents.

    1. Everybody has a “right to an opinion” and I think you did a good job of explaining why you think Ancillary Justice “deserves” a Hugo.

      Where I would differ is “what is the Hugo for”.

      Without meaning to “put words into your mouth”, you are seeing the Hugo as being for “important works of SF/F” from the point of view of a reviewer (and nothing is wrong with that).

      I think many people here see the Hugo as the ultimate reward for “A Good Read”.

      IMO “important works of SF/F” can only be seen after years have gone by.

      IMO part of “important works of SF/F” are how they change what is written/read by other authors/readers.

      Will Ancillary Justice change SF/F?

      Only time will tell.

      On the other hand, “Good Reads” don’t depend on “sparkly and new” but depend on how well the book pulls in the Reader.

      A book may be filled with “sparkly and new” stuff but if it doesn’t pull the readers in, IMO it will only be remembered by Reviewers and College Professors.

      From the beginning, the Hugos have been chosen by the Fans, ie the readers, not the Reviewers and College Professors.

      So I see the Hugos being for the best “Good Reads” of the year, not the “Favorites of the Reviewers”. [Polite Smile]

      1. Fair enough, although I suspect that many who get into the field do so through love of the genre. For myself, I have been reading SFF since I was 12, first hooked by Podkayne of Mars and then I tore through the rest of Heinlein’s juvenalia, becoming a lifelong bibliophile.

        I don’t think it does anyone a service to break apart fans into groups depending on what an individual thinks is a “good read.” IMO, AJustice was a ripping good story; ASword is arguably even better. Last year, fans who agreed were the majority of voters, or at least the majority that disliked AJustice least, based on how the ballot works. This year, who knows? I am looking forward to the long lists, no matter what, because those are always very interesting: I often find new and interesting books there.

        Hugo voters are people who cared enough to buy a membership *and* to vote, past, present, and future. IMO, that makes us all fans: the writers, the readers, the publishers, the reviewers, the movie watchers, et cetera. College professors are sometimes fans, and some fans are college professors. Some fans are dishwashers and some fans are baristas and some fans are retired or independently wealthy. Each gets to choose what is a good story, what is sparkly and new. It’s disheartening to me that this joyous diversity of taste and preference is threatening to some, so much so that conspiracy theories are hatched and animosity stirred up between fans.

        If there is an organized cabal within the Hugo voters, my money is on the Dr Who fans. (Personally, I prefer Supernatural, which means my media fandom is a perennial loser. Le sigh.)

  21. I don’t think it does anyone a service to break apart fans into groups depending on what an individual thinks is a “good read.”

    Do you honestly think those fans weren’t already apart?

    You’re here on a site where most of us think that Ancillary Justice was, at best, an OK first novel for an author. A number of us couldn’t even get through the free preview on Amazon. That’s actually true of a number of recent Hugo winners for a lot of us here. Same with the Nebulas.

    This “let’s not break fans apart” fails to miss the part where that separation happened because we were sick of watching books we thought were crap winning year after year after year. We were apart because it was made clear that our opinions on what was good wasn’t wanted. Don’t believe me? Go look at what some of the anti-Puppies say about our selections.

    The thing is, most of us don’t really care about being split. We don’t want to read their kinds of books, they don’t want to read our kinds of books. I don’t see a problem with that.

    However, why do they get to pick what makes an award-worthy book?

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