Congratulations to Kevin J. Anderson and Sarah A. Hoyt for their Dragon Awards Win

Dragon Award for Best Alternate History Novel went to “Uncharted” by Kevin J. Anderson, KJA and Sarah A. Hoyt.

As one of the Sad Puppies, Sarah sacrificed a great deal of her status and probably a good chunk of her friends in science fiction circles along with some significant measure of her peace of mind by bucking the CHORFs of the science fiction SJWs.  Thanks to the Sad Puppies a goodly number of people were reintroduced to readable science fiction long after they believed it had all been reduced to boring unreadable marxist, intersectionalist, message fiction, drivel.  Thanks to the Puppies and especially Larry Correia the Dragon Awards were founded and have provided a sane alternative to the self-parody that the Hugo Awards have devolved into.  Requiescat in pace.

So good for them and if you are looking for good stuff to read check to see who was nominated for the Dragons   http://awards.dragoncon.org/2018-ballot/  .  But for pity’s sake don’t even glance at the list of Hugo nominees.  No man can hope to look into the gorgon’s face and survive!

The Pod People Strike Back

Google is in the news.  They are demonetizing and de-platforming the haters.  And who are the haters?  Whoever they say they are.  And so is PayPal and Patreon and GoFundMe and on a less important front so is Facebook, Twitter and all the other leftists who are still smarting over Trump’s win.  If you make money from monetizing your website through Google advertising then this can be a big deal.  If you have a YouTube channel you could find a stream of income that you’ve depended on shut off.  And it’s not something you can appeal.  If they shut you down, that’s it.

I’ve been reading on a few sites that alternative sources for monetizing and funding are coming into being.  For instance a payment site to replace Patreon ( amusingly named Hatreon) now exists.  Stripe and Square perform similarly to PayPal but haven’t been banning rightwingers (yet).  WeSearchr and Counter.Fund also provide crowdsourcing to the right.  Gab provides a Twitter alternative.

So, problem solved?  Probably not.  Google is a behemoth of a company that controls the lion’s share of internet advertising.  They also dominate the search business.  And this is the way to control what gets seen and what doesn’t.  If they think your site is guilty of thoughtcrime all they have to do is make it invisible and it will dry up and wither away.  That is a big problem.  There are other search engines like Brave and DuckDuckGo and, and, and …  But most people google things they’re looking for.  What’s a deplorable to do?

Well, mostly wait.  We should start using all the alternatives because we need to make a start.  But don’t fool yourself into thinking you can move a mountain with a teaspoon overnight.  There’s no magic bullet for 100 years of ignoring the problem.  These institutions are entrenched and they don’t like you and they want you to go away (meaning drop dead).

One thing we can and should do is network.  Find like-minded folks and communicate and support each other.  If they sell stuff, look at it.  If it’s as good or even almost as good as stuff from the pod people buy it instead.  And when you do buy from them let them know why.  And if you have stuff for them to buy let them know and maybe they will.  Support these alternative institutions and spread the word.  Put links on your site if you find something good.

And it’s not all gloom and doom.  Look at the Dragon Awards.  Only two years running and already it is a fantastic alternative to voting in the fully converged Hugo Awards.  I used to waste money voting in that thing.  And that money was then spent on feeding SJWs at the WorldCon.  Instead I can vote in the Dragon Awards for free and have a much greater impact.  And that is a direct result of the puppies (sad and rabid) standing up to the pod people and saying we don’t believe you and we’ll go our own way.

So, there are cracks in the wall.  And if you apply pressure at these weak points damage can be done.  And don’t forget, Trump isn’t a friend of Silicon Valley.  They don’t like him and he doesn’t like them.  If he sics the anti-trust dogs on them Google will grovel pretty quickly.  It will be interesting to see if the investigation into search algorithm tampering is resurrected.

So be of good cheer and go out and deplore with a smile on your face and a song in your heart.  Somewhere out there in the bowels of Google the pod people are beginning to fear you.

2017 Dragon Awards Winners Announced

The results have been announced and just as with last year, the Hugos have been shown once again to be way outside the mainstream.  Of course, not everything I voted for won.  But enough did and enough other stuff that did win was at least recognizable as SF&F.  Sure, there’s some stuff written by SJW allies but at least it was stuff people actually buy so the really egregious stuff was passed over completely.  Here’s the complete list:

http://awards.dragoncon.org/2017_winners/

Kudos to the winners and especially to Larry and the other puppies, sad and rabid, for starting the fire in that dumpster known as the Hugos.  Like anything that’s been shown defective the Hugos have been replaced with something that actually works.

Rolf Nelson’s Back From the Dead – A Short SF Book Review

I just finished this first volume in a series named “The Stars Came Back” and I’m sure I’ll be reading the sequel when it appears.  The back cover says that the series “combines military science fiction with the classic space western” and I will agree.  The universe that this book inhabits has humans spread out on over a thousand planets.  These worlds were terraformed during an expansion era that ended with a supernova occurring nearby that disrupted faster than light (FTL) travel for an extended period of time and threw these new worlds on their own devices to survive (or perish).

The various inhabited planets we see or hear about contain bits and pieces of one or more Earth cultures.  One of the problems that seems to exist in most of the locales we see is a bureaucracy that preys on the citizens using stifling regulation to punish citizens monetarily and otherwise.  The tone of the book shows a preference for more personal freedom and less government interference.

The main characters become involved in a project to rehabilitate an unusual transport ship that brings together military and civilian personnel in an interesting cooperation that slowly unfolds some puzzling characteristics of this odd “Flying Dutchman.”  The cast is a mixture of men, women, a child and even an AI who runs the ship.  The military component of the story I found most engaging.  The interaction of the NCO with the recruits and his officers is familiar and adds the familial attachment and common cause aspects of the story that makes mil sf so enjoyable for many.  There are several battles both on planet and off that I thought were well done.  I found most of the characters engaging.  It will be interesting to see how the various interpersonal dynamics work themselves out over the course of the series.  And, of course, the secrets of the ship will be interlaced with them.

So, I’ll give an enthusiastic endorsement to “Back from the Dead” and recommend it to anyone who enjoys classic sf and especially mil sf.

The Puppies of 2017

On Monday, I received an e-mail from “Hugo Awards 2017” that said, “I’m very glad to be able to tell you that nominations for the 2017 Hugo Awards are now open! As a member of MAC2, you are eligible to nominate in the 17 Hugo ballot categories covering the best of the genre in the last year, and for the John W Campbell Award for Best New Writer.”  And, so continues a five-year tradition of melodrama and degradation almost unparalleled in the annals of genre literature buffoonery.  Yes, the pageantry and butt-hurt that is the puppy-era Hugo Awards is back again.  Huzzah!

And I think we have reached a new stage in this evolution.  Everyone realizes that rapprochement is impossible and now it’s just a matter of how much infamy can be heaped on your opponents.  From the point of view of the puppies’ side (sides?), winning Hugos isn’t seriously considered as an objective.  The folks at Tor have shown that their allies in the media can crank out a blitz of news pieces tarring the puppy side as deplorables and this will inspire enough people into battling the reprobates with no-award votes and assuring that some of the Tor books will win.  And the puppies (mostly the rabid variety) will be able to slate a number of bizarre nominations (Space Raptor Butt Invaders!) to make the Hugos appear ridiculous and simultaneously put a monkey wrench in Tor’s system of rewarding lower level authors with unsuccessful Hugo nominations.

So, there is a sort of a stand-off.  It’s like one of those Three Stooges routines where Moe, Larry and Curly are locked down into some kind of circle-slap-fest.  They’re each almost exhausted but there’s no way to exit the contest.  Now I say this in full realization that I’m Curly and, of course, I want to beat Moe so, let the eye poking proceed.

Actually, there’s kind of a comforting feel to the procedure.  It must have been like this in the middle stages of the trench warfare during WWI.  You had progressed past the belief that a charge would result in anything but mass casualties so you settled down to lobbing shells and poison gas canisters.  You knew your script and hating the Hun was easy and kinda fun (except for the dysentery and shrapnel).

This year I’ll follow the venomous fun and nominate the stories I’ve enjoyed.  But I can’t care very much if the cabal gets a few awful stories awarded.  On the other hand I’m looking forward to the Dragons.  Last year was surprising.  Without the negativity I felt almost disoriented.  An award ceremony without pomposity.  It seemed like some guilty pleasure.

Anyway, I have to confess that after the vote in November it’s a little difficult to get upset about the Hugos.  What I’m hoping for this year is a Trump themed campaign.  Maybe a YouTube video entitled “Make the Hugos Great Again.”  Possibly Milo Yiannopoulis could write a novella entitled “If You Were a Deplorable My Love.”

So there it is.  The Hugos have become a kind of tradition where the event is almost completely antithetical to the intent.  Sort of like watching Dick Clark’s Rocking New Years’ Eve after there’s no Dick Clark or Rock and Roll and you really can’t remember why you want to stay up on New Year’s Eve and watch Mariah Carey lip-synch her songs in a spandex sausage casing.    So, the Hugos aren’t actually about picking the best sf&f stories anymore but instead a cautionary tale about what happens when the patients take over the asylum.

But in the words of George Constanza, “You wanna get nuts?  Let’s get nuts!”

CTRL ALT REVOLT! A Book Review

Nick Cole’s CTRL ALT REVOLT! (CAR!) is a 2016 publication that was rejected by his original publisher.  This was probably because it takes a number of swipes at the politically correct culture found in this dystopic future (and more importantly in our own real world).  For that reason alone, I would probably have given it a whirl.  But when it won the 2016 Dragon Award for Best Apocalyptic Novel I felt I owed it to myself to test whether the Dragon Awards would be a better fit than the Hugos when it came to predicting a good read.

I am happy to say they are.  CAR! is an excellent read.  Putting aside that it pokes merciless fun at progressive ideas and practices (which I see as a plus), the action in the story is interesting and fun throughout.  The characters vary from barely sketched in to fairly full framed but they do not jar the way the characters in the “literary sf” often do.  Even the computers come off as recognizable personalities and not HAL 9000 stand-ins.

I won’t describe the whole plot because there are enough twists that I’d be spoiling a lot of the fun.  But the back cover says it’s a robot revolution and I’ll add that it’s a goulash with artificial intelligence, massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs), the Star Trek universe and the extravagances of Silicon Valley as ingredients in a future world where a nanny state handholds its wards through their cyber cocooned lives.  Because of the skillful insertion of on-line story lines the action jumps from deep space naval battles to running gun battles through the streets of a Caribbean paradise.  The real-world action is more bizarre.  Not to indulge in cliché, but the good guys consist of a rag-tag bunch of individuals that barely know each other and can’t be sure if they’re actually on the same side.  The ending is a train wreck (a really cool one) and promises at least a sequel.  I have to confess that there are so many odd elements that I have no idea which way he will take this story line, but I am excited at the prospect.

One of the more interesting concepts that Cole has built into his near future is the merging of television and MMORPs.  There are scripted and semi-scripted intrusions of television shows into MMORPs and to some extent, the reverse.  The professional “reality” for the actors highlights how the old studio star system will continue to degenerate until minute by minute trending of character popularity on social networks will replace long term contracts.  One of the sub-plots revolves around the interaction of gamers with tv stars and how knowledge and intelligence can trump telegenicity and histrionics.  There’s even the recognition that the finance people in media might be more reliable partners than the directors and talent agents when it comes to dealing with difficult situations on the set.  So here you have the collapse of television, on-line gaming, social networking and on-line business into one complex that allows some people to spend most of their time and almost all of their working and even their emotional lives interacting with each other only virtually.  But looking at the way the world is heading I hesitate to even call that a prediction.  It’s probably closer to a short term extrapolation that’s already reality for some.

Now a word about the anti-pc snark.  Full disclosure, I’m a card-carrying member of the “Basket of Deplorables.”  I haven’t met a dig at SJWs that I didn’t chuckle at.  So, it’s not hard to imagine that I haven’t deducted any points from my review for lack of cultural objectivity.  I laughed at every single ironic take, every set-up shot.  If you happen to be of the other persuasion will these bother you?  Probably.  Should you read it anyway?  I think so.  But remember I’m a terrible person and worse, I have a sense of humor.

And finally mention of the trekkie angle.  There is a small amount of Star Trek plot that dredges up mention of Kirk and Shatner and the associated hagiography.  Suffice it to say that there is a comical congruence between the pretentious prima donna that was Shatner and the current captain in the book.  There is even a reference to him performing a “shatner.”  Now of course, Shatner mockery is required reading at the academy but I have to add five points to the review grade to cover these goings on.

So if you want my opinion, read this book unless you’re a literary sff type.  In that case run, run for the hills.

The Dragon Awards Results

Well the winners were announced yesterday. You can see the official announcement here:

Winners


I’ll copy the results here:
Winners

Best Science Fiction Novel
Somewhither: A Tale of the Unwithering Realm by John C. Wright

Best Fantasy Novel
Son of the Black Sword by Larry Correia

Best Young Adult/Middle Grade Novel
The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett

Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel
Hell’s Foundations Quiver by David Weber

Best Alternate History Novel
League of Dragons by Naomi Novak

Best Apocalyptic Novel
Ctrl Alt Revolt! by Nick Cole

Best Horror Novel
Souldancer by Brian Niemeier

Best Comic Book
Ms. Marvel

Best Graphic Novel
The Sandman: Overture by Neil Gaiman

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series
Game of Thrones – HBO

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie
The Martian

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy PC/Console Game
Fallout 4 by Bethesda Softworks

Best Science Fiction of Fantasy Mobile Game
Fallout Shelter by Bethesda Softworks

Best Science Fiction of Fantasy Board Game
Pandemic: Legacy by ZMan Games

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Miniatures/Collectible Card/Role Playing Game
Call of Cthulhu Roleplaying Game (7th edition) by Chaosium Inc.

So what do I think?  Great!!!

What’s not to love?  Oh sure, I have to disagree with picking The Martian over Deadpool for best movie, but you know, it’s just the movies and movies are for kids anyway.

So good for the Dragon Con folks for finally making SF&F great again

Some people are saying that the Dragons are to the People’s Choice Awards as the Hugos are to the Oscars.  I guess that’s supposed to be a put-down of the Dragons.  But I’ll take that analogy.  Have you seen the Oscars lately?  Every movie they award and most of the movies they nominate suck

You can do a lot worse than let people pick what they like.  At least it gives you a good indication of what they’re willing to spend their money on.  And that’s good news for the winners.  When a Con that musters 60,000 participants runs an award that can really put a lot of eyeballs on the results.  And that’s especially good for the newcomers and the smaller categories.  Excellent.

Congratulations to all of them.

But of course a bonus feature of the Dragons is who hates the results.  All the familiar cast of characters.   The Puppy-kickers one and all.   But happily they’re not gloating.  They’re exhibiting all the familiar characteristics of angry SJWs.  The three laws in full effect.  Their pets didn’t win.  Fraud, ballot box stuffing, skullduggery and possibly even flimflammerry!  Larry Correia!  Vox Day!  Puppies!!!

The administrators must be questioned and found guilty of serious offenses.  Pressure must be brought to bear on them to confess their sins and cleanse the awards of its populist taint.  Special Snowflake Fairy Dust must immediately be power sprayed onto the contest so that next year the requisite number of special categories will fill the winner’s circle with socially just empowerment.  They’re not following The Narrative!  Attention must be paid!!!

Or something like that.  Anyway, bravo Dragon winners.  Well done.   All in all, a nice holiday weekend treat.

Bring on the SFFexit

Bring On the SFFexit

I was reading through the various Puppy blogs. Did I find despondency over the crushing Hugo debacle?

Nope. What I found was a growing consensus that it’s time to start separating from the Chorfs. Previously there was the hope that after some balance was achieved in the Hugos both sides would bury the hatchet and a live and let live arrangement would prevail. Last year’s asterisks and more so this year’s no awarding of perfectly legitimate and in some cases highly qualified nominees makes that unlikely. I think anger has hardened into hate.

It’s sort of like a marriage. When bickering turns into screaming it’s time for a marriage counselor. But when knives come out it’s time for the divorce court. It’s time to award custody of the silverware and figure out who gets stuck with the dog. Luckily that’s already been decided Fido (aka Hugo) is going to be gassed by Vox. Everything else gets divided according to the laws of nature. Fans who are ebullient over books that invent new pronouns for the nine billion new gender iterations will go to the Chorfs. Those who like their prose punctuated by hot lead will follow the Puppies. Everyone in between will have to search their souls and choose. They get Tor, we get Baen. They’ll get the kudos of academia, we’ll get the reviews on Amazon. Our books will feature scantily clad women, theirs will feature pastel colored dinosaurs. Everybody gets what they want.

So separate on all fronts. It’s time to start building. Build up separate author lists, separate sales strategies, separate awards (maybe the Dragons?), separate branding. Some of this is the result of the Puppy Kicking Campaigns and has become a sort of general boycott of the Chorfs and their enablers. Many people have already jumped on the Tor Boycott and inversely many are purposefully concentrating their book spending dollars on Baen, Castalia House and Puppy authors in particular. Of course no Chorf worth her salt would buy a puppy book anyway or any other book that didn’t include at least some element of social improvement so there’s really no change needed on that front.

I think the only thing that really needs to be done is branding and labeling. How to differentiate their stuff from ours? Neither side will want to sacrifice the science fiction and fantasy labels. Too important (and too valuable). We need some qualifiers, some adjectives.

Good vs Evil?

Strong vs Weak?

Dynamic vs Static?

Active vs Passive?

I think the real dichotomy is Fun vs Boring.

They’re boring. Let it be their new brand. When a reader goes to Barnes and Noble he should go to the BSFF shelf and choose the colorful covers full of gay dinosaurs and cat loving computers. That’s where he belongs. BS, boring stuff.

But if any of my grandsons asks me where to find “the good stuff” I’ll point him to the FSFF shelf and he’ll find space pirates and heroes and things blowing up. He’ll find that adventure hasn’t needed to change that much since Odysseus invented the Trojan Horse and Penelope preserved her home and family against war and time and hostile gods and welcomed him home. It’s still brave men and good women daring fate to win the day and live happily ever after. That’s exciting, that’s fun. FS, fun stuff.

But how do you brand something boring? How do you brand something fun? Easy, separate them and let people decide for themselves. But the key is separation. It’s like a hardware drawer filled with a mixture of ball bearing and razor blades. It’s confusing and you know something is wrong.  Totally different things that don’t belong together. And trying to grab one when you need it will be painful and frustrating when you grab the wrong one. But separated they can be used for their separate purposes. So let’s dump the razor blades into a different box and get rolling and have a ball.

Goodbye Chorfs. Enjoy your BS aisle. It’ll probably be pretty quiet over there.

Sad and Rabid Puppies in 2016, What Will the Future Hold

So last week I talked about the Hugos and Dragon Awards. And we’ll have to wait for Labor Day to see if the Dragon Award voters look more like Puppies or CHORFs. I think it’s an open question as to whether the type of readers who read the Puppy books will bother to vote for them. Sure it’s much easier to vote for something that’s free, but honestly, most normal people don’t know that sci-fi awards even exist. So, to be continued.

But what I do want to write about is the situation on the ground between the Puppies (all flavors) and the CHORFs. I won’t go back into the weeds of what it’s all about. Instead let’s talk about where it’s going. This week most of the Puppy Leaders (Larry, Brad, Sarah, Kate, Dave and of course Vox) had something and sometimes a lot to say about the 2016 awards. Here are some of the links.

Larry

http://monsterhunternation.com/2016/08/22/my-thoughts-on-the-2016-hugos/#comments

http://monsterhunternation.com/2016/08/23/aw-the-guardians-village-idiot-remembered-my-birthday/#comments

 

Brad

Survival Guide for the Conservative, Classically Liberal, & Libertarian Science Fiction & Fantasy Author

Addressing The Problem™

Sarah

The Good, The Bad, The Boring

Kate

A Puppy At WorldCon

Dave

A Wally for me!

Vox

https://voxday.blogspot.com/2016/08/post-hugo-analysis.html#comment-form

 

https://voxday.blogspot.com/2016/08/the-worldcon-audio.html#comment-form

 

https://voxday.blogspot.com/2016/08/why-worldcon-changed-rules.html#comment-form

 

 

I’ve read all their posts and even all the comments. I didn’t visit the CHORF sites (although several CHORF trolls were quite active on the comments sections of these puppy posts). I think I have a pretty good idea how everyone is feeling and what they want.

I think the Sad Puppies (most of them) intend to continue their policy of widening the reading and voting circle to include people who like good stories instead of just literary message fiction. By building an awareness of this alternate SFF community they are creating the core of a better fandom.

And this is truly admirable.

I think the Rabids intend to torture the CHORFs whenever and however they can. This is not only to overthrow the tyrannical regime of the SJWs, but also because they really really like doing it.

And this is truly hilarious.

The rabids are the precise remedy for the hollow pomposity and hypocritical virtue-signaling that fandom has devolved into. Rabid malice is almost a separate entity in and of itself.

Now, for the folks in the audience that think that the Rabids are the offenders I direct them to this post about David Truesdale (directly below) to get a feel for how they treat people who don’t agree with the narrative they enforce. They’re not nice or even fair.

https://voxday.blogspot.com/2016/08/the-worldcon-audio.html#comment-form
I guess if someone looked at the dichotomy of the two puppy approaches he might compare them to the New and Old Testaments respectively. Basically the Gospel on the one hand and Samson pulling down the Philistine Temple on the other.

Based on some voting numbers that Vox put up on a post, it looks like about 2,000 of the extra voters from last year didn’t vote in the finals this year. So they didn’t renew their memberships. It seems entirely possible that next year’s awards will be even more contentious than 2016 when the best short story nominees included “Space Raptor Butt Invasion.” I don’t pretend to anticipate or even understand exactly how Vox plans to prosecute his war against the SJWs of SF but I’m almost certain that he has only just begun to torture them. He does seem to take the long view.

Those among the CHORFs that think that the worst is over because the rabid nominations were defeated in the finals do not understand what those nominations mean. For every Space Raptor Butt Invasion that wins a nomination spot, some one of the ancillary writers who faithfully vote the party ticket gets denied the promised spot on the periphery of the circle jerk. Essentially, the incentive for going along with the group-think will begin to evaporate. Before you know it, people will start reading what is actually entertaining instead of “good for you.” We can’t have that. So it’s probably going to get worse for the status quo.

It is reminiscent of some kind of ancient siege. The CHORFs are like some city totally surrounded by a horde of merciless barbarians. They have fought several skirmishes and have even sent out sorties to win the day by concentrating all their resources on offense. But their numbers and resources are dwindling and the horde seems to only get stronger and more blood-thirsty after every encounter. I can only guess at what the mentality and morale of the besieged is currently.
Pass the popcorn.

Thoughts on the 2016 SF&F Awards (Hugos and Dragons)

Well another Hugo Awards has come and gone and the WorldCon convention (this edition in Kansas City called MidAmericon II) ends today after proving that the entrenched powers that be would rather eject legitimate members from their proceedings than allow any dissenting opinions.

I won’t review the whole event (see story at link https://voxday.blogspot.com/2016/08/truesdale-expelled-from-worldcon.html ) but the gist of it is that a well known editor of an on-line sf review site (Dave Truesdale of Tangent Online) was expelled from the convention because during his moderation of a panel on short stories he read a statement that blamed the current impoverished state of sf/f short story sales on the unpopularity of social justice themes. Apparently Mr. Truesdale has an audio recording of the proceedings and when he makes it available it is sure to be enlightening and highly entertaining.

But I think it is painfully obvious at this point that WorldCon and the Hugos are irredeemable. I applaud the efforts of the Sad Puppies to open up the membership to a wider audience (and I celebrate the constructive destruction that allowed Space Raptor Butt Invasion to find immortality as a best short story finalist (well done Rabid Puppies)). I even see that continued efforts to influence the nominating and voting outcomes could improve the results of future Hugos above the present dismal pool.

But what I am much more interested in is whether the new Dragon Awards (associated with the Dragon Con organization) will better reflect the tastes and reading choices of the wider science fiction and fantasy public. The fact that voting is free should guarantee a larger voting pool. Of course that’s no guarantee of perfect representation but it’s sure easier to get people to vote for free than having to plunk down $40 or $50 to do the same.

Right off the bat, an award that has both Jim Butcher and Larry Correia competing for best fantasy novel has got my attention. The Dragon Con takes place during the Labor Day Weekend. It’s just a couple of weeks until we’ll know whether these awards will provide a more representative measure of the broader taste in science fiction and fantasy. If it resembles the results of this year’s Hugos then I think that tells me that the great majority of sf&f readers just don’t care about awards at all and depend on reviews and word of mouth to select their reading material. Either way it will be an interesting data point.