Larry was the guiding spirit behind the original Sad Puppies campaign and the author of the best-selling Monster Hunter International series. He’s also an extremely amusing fellow and his Christmas Noun parody is a yearly institution on his site. The earlier installments are linked there and provide background on the various goofy story conventions involved in the tale. And it’s free. Enjoy.
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:
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.
If you’ve been following the Puppy vs Pink SF saga you know that puppies come in at least two denominations; sad and rabid. The Sad Puppies are the disciples of Larry Correia and wanted to draw attention to the incestuous log-rolling that a clique of sjw inspired authors and fans used to monopolize the results of the Hugo Awards. The Rabid Puppies are the shock troops of Vox Day who despises these pink science fiction folk with an intensity that would be frightening if it wasn’t so hilarious. He has spent the last two Hugo seasons stuffing the ballot box for such science fiction gems as “Space Raptor Butt Invasion” by Chuck Tingle and “Alien Stripper Boned From Behind By The T-Rex” by Stix Hiscock. But lately the Hugo Award has become routine. To mix things up he has switched targets to concentrate on one of his favorite pink sf targets, John Scalzi. Mr. Scalzi and Vox are old “friends.” Scalzi was the president of the SFWA when Vox was ejected for his unsympathetic feelings toward the left wing of sf. Vox has spent considerable time tweaking Scalzi whenever he sees an opportunity. Such an opportunity has arisen.
Mr. Scalzi has written an homage to Asimov’s Foundation Series. It is entitled The Collapsing Empire. Vox under his authority as editor of the publishing company Castalia House has released a book called Corroding Empire by the interestingly named author Johan Kalsi. Vox’s book debuted a day or so before the release date of Scalzi’s book and Amazon was forced to withdraw the Corroding Empire title based on its similar title and author name. Whereupon Castalia has rebranded the book Corrosion and given as the author Harry Seldon (the hero of Asimov’s foundations stories). From what I’ve read Corrosion is actually doing quite well. How all this will turn out is anyone’s guess but as a spectator sport it has been highly entertaining. But what about copying The Foundation story? Is this heresy? Should both sides be shunned? I’ll tell you what I think.
When I was a kid Isaac Asimov was part of “The Big Three” sf writers (Heinlein, Asimov and Clarke). I’ve written previously about Heinlein and in summary I think he remains a very important writer from the “Golden Age” and an excellent story teller with the usual exception here and there of bad work to prove that he ruled.
Back then I read all the Asimov that was available including his juvenile Lucky Starr books. I thought he was very good and I thought his robot and Foundation books were among the best sf around.
Fast forward forty, fifty years and rereading some of these classics (specifically the Foundation Trilogy) I find, maybe not surprisingly, that they don’t hold up as remarkably well as the Heinlein books. While the plot outline of the Foundation books is still engaging, the characters and the construction are kind of flat. Truth be told, when I reread it I found myself rooting for the petty kings that surrounded the Foundation. I thought it would make a more interesting story if the Mule not only reconquered the Galaxy but forced the Foundation scientists to fix his sterility and improve his health. Thereafter he could go on to conquer the Andromeda Galaxy where there were nasty aliens that really needed their asses kicked by a telepathic mutant with a big nose which is what the story needed all along. Sort of a galactic Game of Thrones with lots of scantily clad babes and plenty of gore. Or something like that.
In the eighties or nineties Asimov wrote a sequel to Foundation (Foundation’s Edge). Now remember, at that time I still thought the foundation books had been great. I bought the sequel, read it in one sitting and was very confused. It kind of sucked. Asimov had become a tree hugger. In the story the protagonist visits a planet that is based on a communal life force. Every living thing is part of a collective consciousness. At the end of the book the protagonist is supposed to decide whether the galaxy should be ruled by the First Foundation, the Second Foundation or Gaia (the collective tree-huggers). He cops out to ensure a sequel but you can tell his heart is with the hippies. My reaction was that he was a commie all along and I should go purge my collection of all Asimov. After that he wrote some sequels to his robot books and I think at some point he merged the two series into some kind of fusion of the two. So, what does all this mean?
It means that John Campbell gave Asimov a very good plot outline to write a story about (The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (in space!) and Asimov did a very decent job with a good idea. What it also means is that not everything from the good old days was all that good. Asimov was famous for cranking out work at a tremendous rate. Sometimes it shows. Also, he doesn’t write people all that well. Plot progression he handles pretty well.
My only other thoughts on Asimov is that he really thought robots were the solution to everything. Once back in the late 1980’s I went to a lecture at Boston University. The topic was the future and humanity. Two of the speakers were brilliant physicists Freeman Dyson and Murray Gell-Mann. Dyson had revolutionized quantum electrodynamics and Gell-Mann hypothesized the quark level of particle physics. These guys were almost Einstein level geniuses. Their discussion on the possibilities of human endeavor in the far future were dizzying. Dyson was speculating on how humanity could engineer an escape from the entropic death of the universe and Gell-Mann discussed the possibilities for power generation based on the fine structure of particle physics. The third speaker was Isaac Asimov. He got up and said that the most important human endeavor was the creation of advanced robots. He said when robots had the intelligence that a dog displays when it catches a ball in mid-air then all of humanity’s problems would be solved. The other two speakers made polite noises and said that was very interesting. But it seemed like they were embarrassed to be on the stage with this nut. In retrospect, it’s interesting to remember that Asimov’s New York Yiddish accent made him sound a lot like Larry David. It probably would make a fairly funny SNL skit if anyone cared about Isaac Asimov that much. But it cemented my impression of Asimov as a doofus. After all a robot is a tool. No different from the invention of fire or the wheel. It will be used and it will be abused but humans adapt to their environment and that includes the parts of our environment that we ourselves induce.
So Vox and Scalzi borrow away. Asimov is not divine and his story was stolen from Gibbon first and handed to him by Campbell so what’s to steal?
Well the winners were announced yesterday. You can see the official announcement here:
I’ll copy the results here:
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Q: What is one of the great pleasures of the reading world?
A: An interesting villain.
One of the examples that comes to mind is Hannibal Lecter. Here is a man who indulges in murder, torture and cannibalism and yet is inarguably the most interesting character in the several books he appears in. Granted, he’s not really a sympathetic character, but he is the center of attention. I think part of what distinguishes the interesting villain from the garden variety is consistency. So the interesting villain doesn’t follow society’s rules but he does follow his own rules. Discovering and acknowledging the constancy of the villain to these rules is part of the enjoyment of the character. You see the payoff coming or some plot twist prevents it. Each occasion reinforces the pattern and adds to the fun.
Closely allied to this type is the anti-hero. He rescues you from a serial killer but then kicks you in the balls for making him miss his coffee break. He saves a bus full of nuns from falling off a cliff but then relieves himself on the bus tire in full view of the thankful occupants. Here the enjoyment comes from the juxtaposition of thrilling exploits and amazing skill along side of boorish behavior and callous disregard. Perhaps a more descriptive title is the Heroic Jerk.
For anyone familiar with Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter series of books I think the character I would immediately associate with the anti-hero is Agent Franks. He carries out all assignments issued to him by the Monster Control Bureau (MCB) no matter how brutal and regardless of the impact on innocent bystanders. His almost complete indifference to human considerations of any kind is sort of his hallmark. Along with this is his almost complete lack of interpersonal skills. The closest he ever comes to tact is silence. Usually his version of conversation is an order prefaced by an insult and followed up almost immediately with a threat or an assault. Good times, good times.
The flipside to this is his willingness to fight evil no matter the odds and no matter the risk to himself. His underlying motivation is to fulfill his oath to destroy humanity’s supernatural foes (regardless of how many innocent bystanders must be coincidentally slaughtered to achieve that noble goal).
Starting out as a small recurring part in the first couple of Monster Hunter books Franks gains much greater importance in one of the later books and becomes pivotal to the underlying story line. But I find his curmudgeonly heroism endlessly entertaining. So much so, that I have decided to make it my life’s work to convince a major motion picture studio to bring the Monster Hunter world to the big screen, and most importantly, to cast Adam Baldwin as Agent Franks. I base this casting decision on Mr. Baldwin’s very similar character of Col. John Casey of the NSA (in the tv series Chuck). This was also a man of few words who would sacrifice himself (and anyone around him) in order to fulfill his mission. The aptness of this casting is I believe self-evident.
So all hail to the Anti-Hero. All hail the Heroic Jerk.
This review won’t be a regurgitation of the plot. And I won’t throw out any spoilers (in case you haven’t read it yet). What I’ll try to convey is what I thought of this story in the context of the earlier books and in relation to other similar works in the genre.
For those unfamiliar with the Monster Hunter books by Larry Correia ( http://monsterhunternation.com/ ), they involve a reality where the world exists more or less as we know it except that all kinds of traditional supernatural creatures (vampires, werewolves, ghouls, ghosts, etc.) exist. In addition, although the US (and other) governments know they exist, this knowledge is actively suppressed by means of an agency called the Monster Control Bureau (MCB). This department kills the monsters and covers up any evidence that gets into the public eye. Also the MCB oversees a program that pays private contractors to kill monsters on their own.
The four earlier books in the series concentrated on a particular private company called Monster Hunters International (MHI) that contains much of the back story for the ongoing epidemic of monster attacks. The MHI owning/operating family (the Shacklefords) and one of their new employees (Owen Pitt) are the focus of some wild and very diverting monster fighting adventures that reveal some of the details of the characters and their history and involvement in the world of monster fighting. And as the series progresses more of the details of how the universe we are exploring works are revealed in the context of the Shacklefords. But for the most part the details are on a need to know basis. In other words we only learn what we need to in order to understand the context of the immediate actions taking place. There’s very little high end “mythology” communicated. From the point of view of a reader this was not noticeable in the first or second books of the series. But in the third and fourth installments it was starting to feel like we needed more information. Even the main characters were dissatisfied with the official narrative. Clearly something had to give.
In Nemesis this back story mythology has a very prominent place. The fact that the main character in this book isn’t an MHI member is very interesting. Frankly (no joke intended), it’s quite interesting that the protagonist sort of represents a very different perspective on the monster hunting mission and a very important historical angle that opens up the whole Monster Hunter universe to much more complexity and even, believe it or not, a religious dimension. Of course this may be a positive or negative idea depending on your feeling about escapist fiction. But I’ve found the back story additions interesting. And the story has been very lively and well written. I believe that Larry Correia has done an in depth inspection of his creation and decided to formalize the underpinning of this universe to make the stories consistent and give coherence to the story arc he is working on.
I think he’s correct in providing more background to his world. The self consistency will make his readers’ experience more enjoyable and will increase the longevity of the series. I await all the upcoming installments and the already multiplying spin off works.
This week I had the chance to listen to the audio file of Larry Correia’s “The Adventures of Tom Stranger, Interdimensional Insurance Agent.” Adam Baldwin was the narrator and I thoroughly enjoyed the two hours it lasted. Now granted that combining the inside jokes about Larry, Adam, Firefly and the Obama administration and the spirited recital provided by Baldwin was great fun but it seemed strange how happy I was over this very minor comic tale. It seemed excessive.
So I considered the source of all this positivity.
As a general rule I’ve always contended that any show is improved by adding Adam Baldwin to it. And this was no exception. But Tom Stranger was no Jane Cobb. And without a doubt I’m quite a fan of Larry Correia’s work but this little work is a mere slip of a story. So even though Tom’s adventure is very fine and plain good fun why did I like it so incredibly much?
It’s simple. It’s because of what the story represents. It’s the potential of a Monster Hunter movie with Adam Baldwin as a main character. Imagining a big budget fantasy movie written by and acted in by conservatives is almost too much to imagine. But that’s what makes it so exciting. Finally something good all the way around. No sucker punches. No hippies. No social justice.
So even though it’s just a pipe dream it colors the experience of this little work and makes it something more. Here’s to better days and bigger and better things.
Growing up back in the Stone Age, science fiction and fantasy were my favorite reading materials. I was able to fill my spare time with stories by Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke and the other “golden age” writers. Being a normal boy of the era I could enjoy both the pulpy action of E E “Doc” Smith’s Lensman yarns and the more literary stories of someone like Bradbury or Sturgeon. Likewise for fantasy, I could find pleasure along the whole axis from Tolkien to Robert E Howard. To sum up, I was able to enjoy reading a gamut of styles in these genres that differed in literary sophistication but shared the quality of excitement.
Time passed. Other activities (school, girls, work, family) began to compete with reading for my time. Also a lot of the authors I knew so well disappeared from the scene. This combination of events meant that my knowledge of and interaction with the SF&F field became more limited. Also fewer of the new authors grabbed my interest as much as the old ones. I noticed that the stories weren’t as much fun. At first I wasn’t sure why. The sf still had a colony on Ganymede or time travel. But instead of adventure and discovery we had ennui and social issues. Characters were whining about their problems and their sense of alienation. I think the most extreme example was a book called Triton by Delaney. None of the characters were admirable or likable. The story was haphazardly written and highly depressing. Now this was a Nebula nominated novel. I had always assumed that Hugos and Nebulas were given out to really good stories. But over time I found that to no longer be the case. By the mid-eighties I had given up on SF&F. I reread old books I owned and read fiction outside these genres. Whenever I still bothered to pick up a science fiction story it reinforced that the stories now produced were wholly uninteresting for me and tended to openly antagonize my sensibilities. So I stopped looking.
Time passed. I came across an article on line (I think it was on Instapundit) talking about Sad Puppies and Social Justice Warriors (SJW). I read up on it and found out about Larry Correia, Vox Day (and his dreaded Rabid Puppies) and Sarah Hoyt and the madgeniusclub.com and Baen and Tor and all the other interesting characters. In a nutshell, the claim was that science fiction had been over-run by authors and publishing houses that pushed a social message based story type at the expense of what people actually wanted, fun. And that these SJWs controlled the Hugo and Nebula awards because of the small number of voters involved.
It rang a bell.
I decided to test the premise. I tried out Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter books. I tried out Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files.
And they were fun! If any of this story resonates with your own experiences, I recommend you try some of the Puppy recommendations and see if they work for you.
So now I’ve got a backlog of stories to read and I can also follow the soap opera that is the Sad Puppy movement. I can cheer for the Puppies and try out their books. I can boo the Puppy Kickers and mock their silly message fiction. I look forward to the day when fun science fiction is once again reliably identified by its garishly colored cover. I mean, you know you can’t go wrong when you see a scantily clad woman in the clutches of a tentacled space monster on the cover. Jack Williamson would have been proud.