Changeling’s Island by Dave Freer – A Very Short Review (by Proxy)

 

I have a relative, a boy in seventh grade, who is a ravenous reader of science fiction and fantasy (among other things).  Being a conservative and being allergic to anything smacking of political correct narrative fiction I have made it my practice to pass along the older stuff that I grew up on back in the time before fun was banned.  He digests these old books at a rate that seems almost supernatural.  But recently I bought something modern to see how that would fly.

I had heard good things about Dave Freer’s “Changeling’s Island.”  I ordered it on Amazon but instead of the usual two days, it took about two weeks.  I guess it had to be printed on order.  I did a quick read of the first couple of chapters and found it engaging and appropriate for my young reading machine.  I dropped it off a week ago and hoped he would like it.

Well, I spoke with him today and discovered that not only did he like it, he wanted more of the same.  Apparently, this was good stuff.  I told him I didn’t have any more at the moment but would check for more stuff from Freer.  He was unpleased at my unpreparedness to feed the machine with its new fuel of choice.  In desperation, I foisted off a set of the Foundation trilogy on him that I had been holding onto since 1970, and told him I’d try to do better in the future.  So now I have to find out if Freer has any other young adult sf&f available.  If not I’ll be responsible for disappointing the next generation.  Wish me luck.

Asimov, Then, Now and Now and Then

 

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?

Rabid Puppies 2017

Any fear that the annual Hugo debacle would be called off on account of boredom is allayed. Vox has posted his slate and it includes the now obligatory dinosaur buggery story. But there has been tactical change. The E Pluribus Hugo rules change means that attempting to monopolize every nominee spot is futile. So for the most part a single nominee is listed for each category. Some but not all of the nominees are Castalia House authors. For the VFM of Vox Day these choices (including “Alien Stripper Boned from Behind By the T-Rex” by Stix Hiscock!) are a duty that allows for no substitution. For others, these are a list of suggestions that provide choices that don’t correspond to a social justice slate. I’ve found Castalia House a very reliable source of enjoyable fiction. But of course, one man’s meat is another’s poison, so decide for yourself.
One interesting development that may or may not be related, Vox included File 770 as a pick for BEST FANZINE but that blog asked to be left out. Now, File 770 despises Vox and all things Puppy, so possibly this is one of those reactionary withdrawals but who knows?
So, I’ve got some reading to do. Although I can confirm that Deadpool would already be my choice for “BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION, LONG FORM” (movie). I await also the lists that the Sad Puppies put out. These new choices from the various puppies, sad and rabid, are a boon to old timers like me who decades ago despaired of ever seeing old time fantasy and science fiction. If you are of a like mind I recommend you give the puppy choices a look see.

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!”

Heinlein Part 2 – The Juveniles

Heinlein: What’s the Deal With Him?

The Juveniles.  That is where it all began for me, and I was probably typical.  Exploring the science fiction shelf in the kid’s floor of the library I found and read “Red Planet.”  Fantastic.  The characters were intelligent (well the good guys were) and the story combined adventure, humor and a young protagonist that we could root for.  As I worked my way through the series I had no idea that most science fiction (especially juvenile sf) was nowhere near as good.  And I didn’t know why I liked these books so much.  But I do now.  Heinlein had identified something important in how Americans of my generation viewed ourselves and the future.  We believed it was time for humans to push the frontier beyond Earth.  Heinlein had translated the Western into science fiction.  His heroes are easily seen as descendants of the pioneers who pushed across the plains and forests of North America in the 19th Century and colonized a continent.  His families (and they often came as families) were colonizing the Solar System.

Consulting my on-line encyclopedia (specifically Infogalactic) I find the following chronology:

Rocket Ship Galileo, 1947

Space Cadet, 1948

Red Planet, 1949

Farmer in the Sky, 1950

Between Planets, 1951

The Rolling Stones aka Space Family Stone, 1952

Starman Jones, 1953

The Star Beast, 1954

Tunnel in the Sky, 1955

Time for the Stars, 1956

Citizen of the Galaxy, 1957

Have Space Suit—Will Travel, 1958

 

Interestingly, Rocket Ship Galileo was always the weakest (in my mind) of the novels both in terms of plot and character development.  In fact, it’s the only one I’ve never re-read.  I can see that he had not quite come up with the formula he later perfected.  And just to personalize this, here is my list in order of personal preference (top being favorite):

Have Space Suit—Will Travel

Citizen of the Galaxy

Starman Jones

The Rolling Stones

The Star Beast

Farmer in the Sky

Red Planet

Tunnel in the Sky

Space Cadet

Between Planets

Time for the Stars

Rocket Ship Galileo

Of course, I probably could move around anything other than the top and bottom entries depending on mood.  But this tells you more about me than about the author.

So, as I approach sixty why do I consider these children’s books interesting or relevant?  Was it the extraordinary prose style or absolute unique character of the protagonists?  Not at all.  Heinlein was a very capable writer and wrote clean prose but he was no Faulkner.  And many of his young adult characters are almost interchangeable.  The real reason was because these novels combine all the components of good fiction.  The plots are lively and interesting.  The characters are engaging, sympathetic and admirable.  To my mind, Heinlein in this series is the heir to Kipling’s “Kim” and Stevenson’s “Treasure Island.”  You recognize in them a voice that isn’t confused about the rightness of the endeavor his characters are engaged in.  There’s very little of the moral ambivalence that became the defining characteristic of the 1960s and beyond.  This was the spirit of the post-WWII optimism.  This was the high noon of the American Century and it was beautiful.  We would get another taste of this spirit when Ronald Reagan brought back American optimism in the 1980s.  We’ve had precious little of it since.

I’m of the opinion that adopting the same kind of feel to sf today would be popular.  For this reason, I think the Heinlein juveniles (and some of his better adult stories and novels) have value as a template for what to look for in a sf story today.  Lately I’ve seen the beginning of this idea occurring and I see that as a hopeful sign.  If this return to optimistic story style coincides with some kind of a Trump resurgence in American optimism in general it could be a fortunate thing for the sf fans of my grandsons’ age.  So, hat’s off to RAH (and his editors) for producing a set of young adult sf novels that could last a hundred years without aging at all.  I think I’ll re-read “Have Spacesuit Will Travel” for Christmas.

Heinlein: What’s the Deal with Him?

Heinlein Part 2 – The Juveniles

So, here we are five years into the Puppy Era and we all know what we don’t like.  We don’t want revolutionary intersectionalist gender studies diatribes disguised as SF&F message fiction.  Agreed.  But for the sake of reminding us what we do like I’ve decided to start dusting off the dinosaurs.  I’m going to reach back into the Pre-Cambrian Epoch and analyze some of the better fossils currently on display on my admittedly antediluvian book shelf.  First on the list Robert Anson Heinlein (aka the big enchilada).

Anyone who attempts to review Heinlein is in for trouble.  Everyone either loves or hates the man.  Some people actually are able to do both at the same time.  But few are lukewarm.  Full disclosure, I grew up on his juveniles.  I read “Red Planet,” “The Rolling Stones,” “Farmer in the Sky” and the rest of his kids books like some kind of junkie.  When I ran out of them I started trying out the rest of his peers.  As a kid I defined all other science fiction by how it stood next to the grand master. In my mind none of them measured up.  To my young eyes he was a literary god.

As time went on I came in contact with his novels and short stories for adults.  I read his future history stories and found that world interesting and to my optimistic mind plausible.  “The Green Hills of Earth,” “Methusaleh’s Children,” “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” all confirmed my opinion that here was a great storyteller.  I was convinced that picking up something by RAH was a guaranteed good read.

As I grew I found that Heinlein was changing too.  His books became darker.  Starship Trooper although absolutely first rate Heinlein was a serious war story wrapped up in a philosophy lesson.  Farnham’s Freehold is just plain grim.  Glory Road is an interesting but puzzling work.  Heinlein was still enjoyable but he had moved away from the sunnier climes of the past and allowed the dystopian events of the Cold War to color his universe.  By the time of “Stranger in a Strange Land” we are in a new landscape.  RAH has abandoned simple stories and now approaches questions of religion, spitituality and sexuality that sometimes seem bizarre.  At this point I note that “heinleinian” qualities of the stories are still present but the world view has shifted.  It reflects the changes that had occurred between the United States of the nineteen forties and that of the nineteen sixties.  Interestingly these changes were actually forecast by Heinlein in his Future History timeline.  He predicted the nineteen sixties would be called “The Crazy Years.”  Was he ever right!

So , where are we?  Well, Heinlein , the Baby Boomers and I have all transitioned from the heroic, optimistic stories of the forties into the somewhat jaded, realistic stories of the sixties.  So far I’m still with him.  I still wait expectantly for the next big read from the king.  And then he published “I Will Fear No Evil” (IWFNE).  Holy Crap!  It’s over forty years since I read that disaster and even that much time hasn’t softened the feelings of outrage I feel whenever I think of the pain I experienced trying to plow through this awful pile of garbage.  When I finished it I was convinced that either Heinlein had died and a ghost writer was brought in to write this abomination or that he had ingested some really bad LSD and had completely lost his mind.  Either way, the world of guaranteed good Heinlein fiction was over.

In retrospect it turned out that the publication of this book coincided with a very serious health crisis in Heinlein’s life.  The book was published without the careful and time-consuming edits and rewrites that were RAH’s standard operating procedure for publication.  So it’s possible that Heinlein could have rewritten IWFNE and made it into a good book.  But I don’t think it’s true.  In addition to the awful writing exhibited in the book, the dystopian world portrayed, although frighteningly close to some aspects of modern life, is nothing that most people want to read about.

What I think went wrong with Heinlein was that he had extrapolated the trends he saw in his world and came up with a future that although uncomfortably accurate, wasn’t compatible with his audience’s tastes.  The science fiction readers of that time tended to be optimistic.  We wanted a future that was better than the world we lived in.

After the debacle of IWFNE there was a long hiatus before the next Heinlein book appeared.  In the mean-time I moved on to other authors.  Tolkien and his Middle Earth deeply interested me and other fantasy writers and works caught my attention.  By the time, Heinlein came out with Expanded Universe, I no longer thought much about his potential for providing me with good reading material.  Expanded Universe is a book that contains both short fiction works and non-fiction concerning politics, world events and practical philosophy.  It was full of interesting observations and insights into Heinlein and his world.  It managed to renew my interest in what RAH might have next in store.

At this point it was nineteen eighty.  These were optimistic times and an old-fashioned Heinlein story was exactly what would fit in.  His next novel was “The Number of the Beast.”  Essentially the book is sort of an elaborate insider’s joke.  It is full of allusions, puns and puzzles that relate to Heinlein, his works and his philosophy on writing and life.  It is not exactly a page turner.  Not being in a frame of mind to savor his meta-work I resigned myself to taking each Heinlein publication as an unknown quantity to be evaluated as found.  His following books were mostly a mixture of narrative and dispositive philosophical material.  An exception was the book Friday which was more or less a traditional story.  It tied into characters and ideas found in the short story Gulf.  It has several interesting characters and concepts.  In some ways, it is a throwback to his middle period.  But it does not match the optimistic energy of that time.  His description of the balkanized North American states produces in me a melancholy mood.  And the portrayal of inevitable catastrophe for Earth is bleak.  The prospect of survival on other planets sounds more like a retreat in the face of inevitable doom.

So, am I being fair to Heinlein?  Absolutely not.  The truth is that I started off reading books that RAH wrote for people of my age.  Then I read stories by him that were patterned after the material that mid-century editors felt were acceptable for the American audience of that time.  The criteria weren’t identical to the restrictions that existed for motion pictures under the Hays Code but there was definitely a less nihilistic feel to literature from that period than what came later.  Later on Heinlein felt less restricted in portraying the more negative aspects of his vision.  And it is also true that he had some quite controversial opinions on various subjects including sexuality.

Taking these factors into account, my disappointment with much of his later output was inevitable.  Some of that has to do with the disparity in age between us.  He was born more than fifty years before me and his life does not closely mirror mine.  I have often thought that it is time for me to re-read his later stories.  In all fairness, other than “I Will Fear No Evil,” I believe I will probably find all his other books quite enjoyable now that I no longer expect to get “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” every time.

So, that is an outline of my collision with Robert Heinlein through several decades of reading him.  I will follow this up with further remarks on the various categories of Heinlein literature that I admire most.  But I will conclude this survey by stating that Robert A. Heinlein was the most important author during several decades of my formative years.  He is the Grand Master of Science Fiction.  Whether that is important or not I leave to the reader to decide.

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.