The Hugo nominations were announced this week, at which point everyone got confirmation for what we pretty much all knew — that the Rabid Puppies were going to double-down on being assholes, and that the slate voting and ballot stuffing is pretty much here to stay until there can be an official rules change. Good news — the rule change was approved last year at Worldcon, and just needs to pass at this year’s Worldcon for the adjustments to go into effect. So let’s all hope that this is the last year that pretty much all of SFF has to look at the steaming pile of defecation left on our collective front stoop by the neighborhood doucheweasel (there’s always one, people).
For a good summary of the current mishegas, or if you haven’t been following the Hugo controversy (but if that’s you, maybe you should just preserve that state of blissful ignorance), John Scalzi wrote a piece for the LA Times that covers things. The Rabid Puppy agenda seemed to have a two-prong approach (hold on, I’m avoiding a dildo joke here) this year:
- We will nominate the things you love, thereby tainting them by our association and forcing you to vote against them! Mwa ha ha ha!
Which….. is probably not going to work? I mean, The Things We Love are pretty worthy of Hugos, and probably were going to get a lot of nominations anyway, so I don’t think that’s really going to stall up many people. Stephen King and Neil Gaiman aren’t on the ballot just because the Rabid Puppies had them on the slate. Neither is a tiny little indie flick known as Star Wars. And if Andy Weir is up for a Campbell again, then that probably has more to do with how good of a book The Martian was, and given a nice assist from a certain Matt Damon-centric film.
So, let’s just call that first approach, in the immortal words of Antonin Scalia, “pure applesauce” and move on the the second approach, which was a bit more problematic.
- We will find the most offensive, asinine, or ridiculous things possible and, through slate voting, force them onto the ballot.
That worked pretty well in the categories that are always going to get fewer nominations from the community in general, and therefore are the most vulnerable to slate voting. (File 770 included a very useful list that’s color-coded for convenience.) It also resulted in some fairly weird reading when you scan down the list of nominees. The Best Related Work category in particular includes Vox Day’s “SJWs Always Lie: Taking Down The Thought Police” and Daniel Eness’s “Safe Space As Rape Room.” A large part of me wonders if one of the goals this year was just to physically punish those particularly diligent souls who make a point of reading all the nominated works before voting.
But the Best Short Story category is getting some particular attention. Here’s how it was when it appeared:
- “Asymmetrical Warfare” by S. R. Algernon (Nature, Mar 2015)
- The Commuter by Thomas A. Mays (Stealth)
- “If You Were an Award, My Love” by Juan Tabo and S. Harris (voxday.blogspot.com, Jun 2015)
- “Seven Kill Tiger” by Charles Shao (There Will Be War Volume X, Castalia House)
- Space Raptor Butt Invasion by Chuck Tingle (Amazon Digital Services)
This was another category that was completely dominated by the Rabid Puppy slate. Which one sticks out to the eye?
Here’s a hint:
Okay, is this absolutely hilarious on some level?
Yes. Without a doubt. That this exists at all kind of makes me delighted about our species in general. I’ve seen these dino-porn covers before, and had many a merry exchange on Twitter about them. The writer (Chuck Tingle is a pseudonym) has carved out a very solid niche for themselves, and the photoshopping is fairly awesome.
As is fairly usual, N. K. Jemisin hit this one out of the park, so I’m just going to pop in her tweets (read from the bottom):
This ended up on Facebook, and someone basically responded by asking why we were all making such a fuss over a set of awards.
Listen, if the Hugos were something that a group of boozy authors organized in a con-suite, with names thrown into a hat passed around the room, then the winners announced with much fanfare and rewarded with an extra cookie and a large whiskey, then the whole thing basically forgotten, I’d be in agreement.
But that’s not what the Hugos are. A large chunk of being nominated and being a winner is the no-doubt wonderfully affirming knowledge that your work is recognized for its quality by both readers and your peers, but that’s not the end of it. Getting nominated can give an author incredible exposure and result in increased sales. There’s a reason that publishers reissue books after Hugo noms and wins so that the cover reflects the attention — it can result in many more people picking it up in a bookstore or buying it online.
Awards are not just recognition. They are also a potential means to an increased ability to earn a livelihood and have the opportunity to publish more books.
By using slate voting to give nominations to ridiculous and unqualified choices, the Rabid Puppies are keeping authors who otherwise would’ve received a nomination off of the lists. This hurts the potential exposure of these authors and also has a negative impact on their careers. This behavior is HURTING authors.
As Jemisin pointed out, the writer working under the Chuck Tingle pseudonym is well aware that they were nominated as a result of purely trolling behavior. It’s pretty safe to say that Chuck Tingle did not start writing dino-porn out of a desire to win awards and the adulation of the SFF community for the value of their plots and prose. Chuck Tingle has had enough time to absorb this news, conduct several interviews on the topic, and also release a moderately topical work on the subject.
What Chuck Tingle has not done is withdraw from the nomination list. Which is what’s getting a number of authors, including Jemisin, fairly annoyed. Because if Tingle withdrew, someone else would get to go on the list and be considered for an award — someone who had written a serious story and had received nominations for it — and
would’ve been on that list had a group of inveterate crybabies not decided that deliberately screwing up the Hugo nominations was even more fun than their usual plans of masturbating furiously to old Rainbow Brite episodes.
Thomas A. Mays, who wrote “The Commuter,” has already withdrawn because of the circumstances of his nomination. And I give him an endless amount of credit and admiration for that decision, which must have been extraordinarily painful, given that he had not been involved in the Rabid Puppy slate or organization in any way, and in his own words:
I did not ask to be part of any list, but I hoped at the very least that it might bring other eyes to “The Commuter”, readers that might appreciate it for what it was and perhaps honor me with an uncontroversial nomination (or at least a few Kindle purchases). But, now that all hopes for a clean nomination are dashed, it is my turn to speak:
Rather than eat a shit sandwich, I choose to get up from the table.
Thank you to all the people who actually read my story, enjoyed it, and nominated it for the Hugo. I will forever be in your debt.
Mays made a very hard decision, and one that we should all give him a lot of credit for.
Tingle’s story remains nominated.
And here’s the thing —
I get where Tingle is coming from.
The Hugo nomination, for any struggling or mid-list writer, is an unbelievable gift of visibility and exposure. How many clicks has Tingle gotten as a result of this nomination? How many sales? For Tingle to refuse the nomination would be like handing him or her a golden-egg-laying goose, then demanding that he or she break the goose’s neck because ownership of the goose only came to them because of the actions of a particularly incestuous and nasty clan of kobolds three kingdoms over, who Tingle never even knew existed until this moment.
That’s a hard ask.
During last year’s Hugo shitstorm, I was in the position of explaining to my spouse exactly what was going on, and why a number of perfectly nice authors were being put in the utterly unfair position of having to refuse the Hugo nominations on their work because those nominations had come about through slate voting. At which point my spouse noted that, if I’d been put in that situation, he’d tell me that I should probably keep the nomination.
And that’s what is really at the bottom of this post for me — because if I’d been put in Mays’s position, I can’t say that I would’ve had the guts to do the right thing.
Now, firstly, that never happened. And given the rule change that is almost certainly going to be put into effect, it never would. Plus, my only eligible work would’ve been Dark Ascension, and let’s all be honest here — for a group that really hates Social Justice Warriors, Fortitude Scott might actually be the apogee of all of their hatred. Sure, Fort is white, male, and straight, so he’s got that going for him, but I deliberately constructed a vampire who I could say with a straight face was a bleeding-heart liberal (and then giggle, because that’s how I roll). Fort could actually be the Rabid Puppies poster-child for the emasculated man. (side note — I’m visualizing for just a second what it would’ve been like if I’d constructed a character that fit the apparent male ideal of the Rabid Puppies. I think my book would’ve ended in Chapter Three, when he was stabbed in the throat by Suzume. Anyway.)
But if that HAD happened?
Boundless publicity for a series that was struggling. Attention lavished on me by my publisher. New covers commissioned to advertise to all that this series had gotten a Hugo nom (maybe even a chance for a full cover redesign!). A complete rethinking by my publisher on whether to commission more books in the series, which means possibly more money for me. Perked sales, because more people would see the title and consider checking out the series, which means not just more money but, again, possibly more books. And if the rigged voting carried me through to a win? Well, anyone who followed the Hugos closely would know that my win carried an asterisk. But everyone else…. well, they’d just see “Hugo-Winning” on my bio and books.
And at the end of the day, with the publicity and sales? There would also have been an ego element. Because I DID put a lot of work into those books, and I AM proud of them. Recognition is a wonderful thing, and I would’ve undoubtedly spent a lot of time trying to argue that, no matter how it ended up on the ballet, that the book WAS of value.
I don’t think I’ll ever be put in the position of Thomas A. Mays or Chuck Tingle, but here’s what I know for sure: I can’t just say that I’d refuse the nomination, because that’s not true. I know that in that situation, I should. But I just don’t know if I could bring myself to do it.
Do I think that Chuck Tingle should refuse the nomination? Yes. Without a doubt.
Do I understand why Chuck Tingle might very well keep the nomination? Oh, yes. Without a doubt.
UPDATE: Chuck Tingle has apparently responded to the situation by publishing Space Raptor Butt Redemption. Here’s a link to a review that provides quotes and boils down the argument that Tingle makes. Personally, I think that Tingle is throwing up quite a lot of sand to obscure what is basically at the heart of why he or she is keeping this nomination and riding it all the way to the end — this is a publicity unicorn, wearing a garland of money flowers, that has just been placed on the doorstep, and it doesn’t matter that it was stolen from deserving owners by shit-gnawing kobolds three kingdoms over. That unicorn ain’t goin’ nowhere.
ALSO UPDATE: Comments are also going to have to be moderated for a while. This post has apparently garnered a bit of puppy attention, and I do not spend nearly enough time on this blog to deal with all of that.
FURTHER UPDATE: And, now the comments are turned off entirely for this post. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I see no reason why my inbox should essentially be showered in raw sewage.
And that’s pretty much it for this week of whippet development! In non-puppy news, there’s a giveaway for three copies of Iron Night, so you can enter to win one of those. I’ll also be signing the copies, so that’s kind of fun. Iron Night was also reviewed recently at Fantasy Book Café and All Things Urban Fantasy, and there’s also a fantastic review of Generation V over at Bibliotropic that I strongly recommend checking out. Finally, for those puppy-philes in the Rhode Island area – I’ll be doing a signing and reception at Books On The Square on February 28th. Since I’ve been told very specifically that they are “taking a chance on [me]”, spread the word if you live in Rhode Island and let’s see if we can change this bookstore’s mind about out-of-state speculative fiction authors!
Back at the end of January, my mother’s whippet, Jessie, had her litter of puppies. Mom made the fatal error of letting me name the puppies, resulting in a litter named after some of my favorite living sci-fi authors. Since whippets usually have large litters, and Jessie’s first litter consisted of eight puppies, I had originally expected to honor (if you call having a puppy named after you an honor – which, really, shouldn’t you?) several more authors. Bad luck, to Alastair Reynolds, who didn’t make the cut. (honestly thought there was one more puppy in that womb – oh, well. a whippet’s uterus is apparently a harsh mistress)
I also learned from that blog post that apparently adorable puppies + the names of famous sci-fi authors is blog hit gold. Who knew? (okay, apparently everyone knew except me) So here is an update!
Since the litter is half the size of a usual whippet whelping (say that ten times fast), the puppies don’t have to fight too hard for their meals, so they seem to be growing like a science experiment gone awry. I first saw them when they were two days old, and at that time they could lie in one hand. Now they are about the size of guinea pigs, and they require two hands to cuddle, due to all the puppy fat. Seriously, these puppies are so fat that they can barely lift themselves up. The only one who can maneuver with any kind of real agility (and even that is really being graded on a curve) is Scalzi, because Scalzi is the smallest puppy right now. By smallest I mostly mean “least fat.”
Seriously, these puppies are pretty much fat bellies, superfluous legs, and mouths.You’ll notice from the photos that their faces are changing a bit. They don’t have the long nose of their mother yet, but they definitely have more of a snout than before. I’m sure in a few more weeks they’ll have long and inquisitive noses, the better to counter-cruise like mommy. Fun fact – their noses have the most incredibly soft and velvety fur.
They have also matured a little from when they were a week old, and existed solely for the purpose of eating, then napping to get the energy to eat some more. They’re still very focused on eating, but after they fill their bellies there will be about a five second period where they will look around inquisitively before taking a nap. Their eyes are open now, and they seem to recognize people. If they see a person and their mother isn’t around, they will now start making little puppy whimpers until you pick them up and cuddle them – I think this is a heat thing, though my mother has the heat in her house pretty cranked right now, and their little tub is full of blankets and a few heating pads. Once you pick the whimpering puppy up, they kind of snuggle against you for a second, then begin exploring any exposed skin for the possibility of a nipple. You know, just checking about dinner.
Every time my mother or I walk into the room, their poor mother hops out of the tub (it’s one of those plastic swimmy tubs – it helps contain both wiggly puppies and their urine) and runs into the corner where her big fluffy cushion is. She’ll give the most hysterical, “Oh, thank god you’re here. YOU deal with them for a while,” expression.
Congratulations to my mother’s dog Jessie Bell, who over the course of a very long day has had four puppies! (we’re not entirely sure if she’s done — there might be one still left in there, but since Jessie is now taking a break to eat dinner, it’s kind of a Shrodinger’s Puppy kind of situation)
My mother has agreed to let me name them (always the first mistake), so I have chosen to name these puppies in honor of some of the best living writers of sci-fi. (how did I choose this genre? well, in the interests of not being a total puppy naming hog, I chose the speculative genre that my brother and I both have the most overlap of interest in)
At the far left, and the first puppy born (and the one who looks most like Jessie in her coat pattern) is Asaro (named of course for Catherine Asaro, physicist and author of the amazing Saga of the Skolian Empire series). At the far right with the really funny spot pattern is Scalzi (named for John Scalzi, whose Old Man’s War series my brother and I both really love).
In the middle are Tepper (named for the amazing and prolific Sheri S. Tepper, whose books I discovered in graduate school and which utterly blew my mind) and Brin (named for Davin Brin, whose Uplift fantasy series is so beloved by my brother that he very seriously tried to get me to shlep all the books in the series down to WorldCon to get them signed). All puppy genders match their namesakes.
If there does end up being a Puppy #5, then it will be named (regardless of gender!) Reynolds — not for Mal of Firefly, but for Alastair Reynolds, because in my brother’s words about his book Pushing Ice, “Long journeys are the best journeys.” Let’s hope so, Possible Puppy #5! (I had the pleasure of being on a panel with Alastair Reynolds at Worldcon, and he is such an amazingly nice guy that I really hope he will not be INCREDIBLY CREEPED OUT by having Possible Puppy #5 named in his honor. I feel like Scalzi can accept this canine naming tribute in the spirit to which it is offered, and I have no basis to make a guess regarding Asaro, Tepper, and Brin, so I’m going to figure that what they won’t know certainly won’t hurt them).
There will be more photos to come over the next few weeks, but I hope that everyone enjoyed meeting Whippets…… in Spaaaaaace!
January 22 Update: Potential Puppy #5 turns out to be… not. Sorry, Alastair Reynolds! If she ever has another litter, you’ll be Definite Puppy #1!
Here’s a picture of Jessie and her 1-day-old puppies!
Whippets…… in spaaaaaace!
On Monday night, I scanned and emailed my corrected page proofs to Roc, so Iron Night is now officially locked off! I’ve made my last changes, hopefully I’ve caught all of the biggest problems, and now it’s out of my hands. I remember being at this place before with Generation V, but it felt different then – at the point when I was finally hands-off with Generation V, I had to move straight back into work on other projects. Right now, just because of where things fell, I actually am getting a bit of a breather. The manuscript of Book 3 is with my editor, and I won’t get notes back on it for probably another month or two. I already have a bit of a list of notes on it from my readers and my agent, so I have a feeling that I’ll probably be doing some more extensive fixes on this one, but I’m happy to take a break from it (just for a little while!) so that when I come back to it later, I can have look at it with fresher eyes.
This is also a bit of a nervous point in the process, because while I’ve spent about a year in total working on Iron Night, and my direct involvement in the writing has now come to an end, it won’t be hitting bookstores until January, and since the ARCs (advanced reader’s copies) haven’t been produced yet, I haven’t gotten any “real” reader feedback yet. I’m really excited about this book, and I’ll definitely be doing more posts and dropping more hints about its content as we get closer to the release date, but mostly I can’t wait to see what people think about where I’m taking Fort and Suzume.
I’m going to be starting to work on publicity for Iron Night soon, so I’ll be getting a chance to talk with all my favorite bloggers again, and hopefully also try and get some bookstore events scheduled as well. Should be exciting, and I’ll get going on that next week.
Also coming up – New York Comic Con! I’m so excited about this! Thanks to support from a local businessman (my uncle in Forest Hills is letting me sleep on his sofa – thanks, Uncle Alan!) I’ll be in town on Friday and Saturday.
Here’s my schedule right now:
Thursday, October 10
Work ends at 6:50pm, head down to New York.
Friday, October 11
11:00am – 12:00pm: “FRIDAY FIRSTS” PENGUIN SIGNING (BOOTH 2129 )
First in series signing with M.L. Brennan (Generation V) and Benedict Jacka (Fated)
If you’ll be anywhere in the area, come and say hello to me! I’d love to sign your book or even just give you one of my cards!
7:45pm-?: Private dinner
Saturday, October 12
12:00-1:00 PM: GEEK GEEK REVOLUTION (ROOM 1A17)
Speakers: Mia Garcia, A.D. Robertson aka Andrea Cremer, Django Wexler, Alex London, Myke Cole, Anton Strout, M.L. Brennan
Description: GEEK REVOLUTION is a no-holds-barred geek culture game show featuring six science fiction/fantasy authors competing for the chance to be TOP GEEK. In addition the audience members will be asked to ‘write-in’ questions in hopes of stumping the authors and winning a prize pack of books. Hold onto your hats, nerf herders, this might get ugly.
This is looking like so much fun, and I’m really looking forward to it! If you are going to be at NYCC, this had better be one of your required stops!
So that’s what’s planned so far – if you have an event or a party that you think I should be attending, tell me about it!
In other news, after working pretty frantically all summer, I actually had some downtime after I submitted the Book 3 manuscript. This meant that I was able to get some reading done! I love writing, and it’s very exciting when I’m in the middle of a project, but it does mean that my reading time gets pretty significantly cut back! Here is a list of the books I read since finishing the Book 3 manuscript:
The Age of Ice – J.M. Sidorova
Redshirts – John Scalzi
Who Gets What: Fair Compensation After Tragedy an Financial Upheaval – Kenneth Feinberg
Throne of the Crescent Moon – Saladin Ahmed
Parable of the Sower – Octavia E. Butler
Dushau – Jacqueline Lichtenberg
House of Zeor – Jacqueline Lichtenberg
Old Man’s War – John Scalzi
Shades of Milk and Honey – Mary Robinette Kowal
Darkborn – Alison Sinclair
Shadow and Bone – Leigh Bardugo
(currently reading) The Summer Prince – Alaya Dawn Johnson
Have you read any of these books yourself? If so, what did you think?