Regarding My 2016 Hugo Award Nomination

Today, MidAmeriCon II announced the nominees for the 2016 Hugo Awards, chosen by the attendees and supporters of the 74th WorldCon for the best works in science fiction, fantasy, and fandom produced in 2015.  My military fantasy adventure story, “The Commuter” was one of the five nominees in the short story category.

I must regretfully decline the nomination.

I’ve known for some time that “The Commuter” had made the short list, having been emailed about it by Professor Adams, “The Voice of the Hugos,” on April 10th.  I provided copies of my story for the Hugo Voter’s Packet and accepted the nomination in the forlorn hope I would find my story among a mixed and diverse selection of other stories, stories which came out of fandom as a whole (a whole which includes Puppies . . . ) rather than from any single group’s agenda or manipulation of process.  I knew that it was unlikely, given that my little-known story was only up for the award due to its inclusion on Vox Day’s Rabid Puppies slate, but I had hope.

To be clear, Vox Day and I have worked together before, but I did not request or engineer my appearance on his slate.  I’m very proud of my story “Within This Horizon”, that I contributed to the first Riding the Red Horse anthology, which allowed me to be in the same volume as friends and acquaintances Chris Kennedy, Christopher Nuttall, Ken Burnside, and one of my literary heroes, Jerry Pournelle.  I have been interviewed for Castalia House.  However, Vox and I disagree on many political and social points and I am neither a Rabid Puppy nor a member of his Dread Ilk.  My stories have no real ideological bent right or left.  And while I cannot dispute the experiences of others which brought the Sad and Rabid Puppy movements into existence, I did not approve of the straight-slate bloc voting that so damaged fandom last year.  I was very encouraged when Sad Puppies 4 answered the criticisms that had been levied against SP3.

I tried to convince myself that perhaps the Rabids would also ameliorate the “burn it all” stance they ended with last year, after the strings of “No Awards” handed out at 2015’s ceremony.  I hoped they would treat this year’s 5-item-per-category slate as only a recommendation, and that perhaps my story might be the only slate pick among a strong selection of non-slate tales. I hoped it would compete on its own with honor, winning or losing without a nod to anyone’s particular political intent. However, as the list is straight slate in the short story category, I cannot take advantage of a flaw in the current nomination process.

This is not a repudiation of anyone’s politics, nor is it an endorsement of anyone else’s ideology. This is not a statement on the quality of the nominated works that either appear or don’t appear on anyone’s slate.  This is a rejection of a gamed system, as well as a stand for returning the Hugos to what they’re supposed to be rather than what some have tried to make them.  I’ve spent the last 21 years in a career dedicated to the support and defense of the US Constitution and the principles upon which it is founded. Every slate, every recommendation list, and every vote is the expression of another individual’s right to free speech.  I had no right to tell Vox to remove my story from the Rabid Puppies list, nor did I think asking him would do much good.  I had no right to tell any Rabid Puppy how to vote, nor, truthfully, was I much inclined. 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.  However, if you voted for my story and others only because someone told/recommended you should — for whatever reason — Why?  What windmill are you tilting against?  What do you hope to achieve other than the dissolution of something which may need to be saved from its failings, not destroyed outright.  If I have wasted your sincere vote, I am sorry, but I cannot participate when I know shenanigans may have occurred.  Winning a Hugo is less about the award itself than what the award means:  that you have created something appreciated, worthy of memory, and have garnered the respect of your peers — something last year’s string of “No Awards” indicated the bloc voting failed to achieve.

I would ask the voters who read this one thing:  please give the works a chance, slated or not.  Please don’t “No Award” entire categories out of spite against Vox Day.  Please give the slated short stories an equal chance with whatever story replaces mine.  The authors deserve your attention, free of any political bias.  Works should stand on their own.

If you would like to read “The Commuter”, I’d love to hear your thoughts on its nomination and would be happy to provide it gratis to any WorldCon voter.  Thank you for your attention and your understanding.

New Fiction! (And My RavenCon Report)

Ready for something NEW to read from moi, The Improbable Author, as well as his Amazing Friends?  (use of the phrase “Amazing Friends” does not necessarily imply I’m Spider-Man, but, yeah . . . I am)

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“THE COMMUTER”:  A new, absurd short fantasy by the author of A Sword Into Darkness and REMO! Jack is a regular sort of fellow — a father, a husband, an office drone, and a daily commuter — living in a fantastical, changed world. Jack lives in the Fractured Lands, our Earth intermixed with the realm of Faerie after the Great Stumbling of 1888. But Jack lives his life as non-fantastically as he can, sticking to the human areas and Never Getting Off The Damned Train. However, when Faerie intrudes upon his life and endangers his daughter, everyone is going to find out that he stayed away from the Fae for THEIR benefit, not his own. Because Jack is not just a dad and an office drone. Jack is a former Marine, trained to fight the Fae, and fight them he will . . . .

It’s already garnered three awesome 5-star reviews and ranks #45 on Amazon’s short story SF&F list, but it needs more and it needs to go higher!  If you are a reviewer and would like a complimentary review copy, just message me at any of my links.  If you’d like to patron me and check it out for yourself (THANK YOU), it’s only 99¢ for your Kindle or Kindle app.  If you are a Prime member with a Kindle device or a member of Kindle Unlimited, you can even read it for free!!!  And, please, if you can, post a review on Amazon or the site of your choice.

Also from the Stealth Books authors this weekend:

Postcards From The Moon

“POSTCARDS FROM THE MOON”:  An offbeat short story by award-winning author Jeff Edwards

Once upon a time, mankind dreamed of the stars. Somewhere along the way, that glorious vision got lost…

Hank Rollins is old, tired, and thoroughly regretting the missed opportunities of his youth. More than a half century ago, he passed up the chance to do something wonderfully foolish, and utterly impossible. A chance to reach for a different kind of future.

But the door may not be completely closed, because Hank is getting postcards from a boy who no longer exists, and a world that never came to pass.

I’ve read Jeff’s short (and will be posting my review later today on Amazon — I’ve already rated it a VERY deserved five stars), and it is AMAZING.  It is a literal love letter to a lost future, full of finely wrought nostalgia and such a sense of wonder that it may well buoy your spirit for the rest of the day.  The images and possibilities within are going to populate many a delightful dream.  I can’t wait for the movie Tomorrowland, but I hardly need to — this short story offers all that I could expect out of that film and more.  The ONLY thing wrong with the story is that it did not come with a forwarding address to where I could write Papa Hank back.  Because I would send that letter and go TODAY if I could!  Like mine, it is for sale on Amazon for a mere 99¢, and that is a steal for what I got back from it.

Also this weekend, I got to go to RavenCon up in Richmond, VA.  This was a GREAT con, as it was last year.  Hopefully, I can guest at it next year when they move to Williamsburg.  I was worried about Pro/Anti-Sad Puppy divisiveness, but while it was mentioned and referred to, there was no controversy that I saw.  The folks there who were nominated for Hugos — whether on a slate or not — were all treated like the honored elites of the industry they were.  That gives me hope that fandom will find a happy middle-ground and move on from this teapot tempest.

Allen Steele was guest of honor, along with Frank Wu as artist/scientist, and a whole passel of people that I met last year.  Allen Steele told a number of great stories about coming up in the industry and breaking rules you REALLY should not break.  I also sat in and participated in a number of Indie Publishing panels with the prolifically awesome Chris Kennedy.  I hung out in Baen’s Barfly Central and chatted with Jim Minz, Steve White, Jim Beall, Warren Lapine, and Lou Antonelli (forgive me if I left out your name, honored luminary, there were just so many fantastic folks).  I also ran into John C. Wright, Lawrence M. Schoen, Michael Z. Williamson, David Walton, Bud Sparhawk, Jennifer R. Povey, Christopher FREAKIN’ Nuttall, Karen McCullough, Gail Z. Martin, Stuart Jaffe, Chris A. Jackson, and Danielle Ackley-Mcphail.

My favorite Con moment was participating in Allen Wold’s Short Story Writer’s Workshop.  In it you had to write the 100 word “hook” that should open every selling short story.  It had to include character, action, setting, set up questions, and indeed HOOK the editor/reader.  I made a couple of new buddies in Isaac and Gene, and got to here some great openings and even more valuable advice.  Here’s the second-draft of my 100 words:

Bill Garner leaned forward in the darkness as the safe’s door popped open at last.  Electronic dance music thumped up at him from the floor below, but not loudly enough to drown out the unexpected squelch of something within.

Bill jumped back.  He felt certain that cash and jewels were fairly silent in most circumstances.  Something else lay concealed in the safe’s shadowed interior.

He looked around him.  He was still alone, still undiscovered.  Deciding to risk it, Bill flipped on his flashlight and shone it inside.

A glistening, mottled tentacle curled tighter about a golden urn within the safe.

The panel agreed that I’d appropriately barbed my hook.  🙂  I’m intrigued enough that I may extend it into a full story.  The best advice from the panel was from the GREAT Jack McDevitt:  “Don’t try to tell a story . . . instead, craft an experience for the reader.”  It’s one of those seemingly simplistic bits of advice that looks not-very-noteworthy in the first analysis, but once you think about it more, it is pretty damn important.  It really does change the way I look at stories.

Anyway, a great time and a great Con.  Here’s the obligatory picture gallery.  Let me know if I captured any of your souls inadvertently:

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The Duel

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Ready to read?  Ready to come down from your legal (I’m sure) celebration of 4-20 with a pair of intriguing, enrapturing, fascinating, chilling, and/or compelling short stories?  Ready to weigh their merits and choose the better of two rapidly-created masterpieces?

Ready to participate in The Duel?

Then get your butts over to The Writer’s Arena battle thread and ENSURE YOUR CHOICE IS HEARD!  Are you a Sad Puppy?  Are you an Anti Puppy?  Do you not care or have no idea what I’m talking about?  Either way:  GO – READ – ENJOY – ASSESS – COMMENT – and VOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOTE!!!!!!!!!

Scratch the Hugos — Let’s Get Behind the Erics!

I highly recommend the following blog post from master SF author and editor Eric Flint (he’s bought two of my five pro-stories, so you KNOW he’s a sharp fella), who takes a COMPLETELY different approach to this pro and anti Sad/Rabid Puppy debacle.  Essentially, it’s not politics separating the Hugo voting crowd from what is really selling, it’s a vast, vast field which no one can know the entirety of, so a self-selected crowd focuses on works that challenge them, works which by their novelty are not what popular authors are selling in droves.  In addition, the categories are completely wrong for today’s markets and what is actually being produced.  (He tells it much better and explains it all at length HERE.)

Mr. Flint’s updated categories would be as such:  Short Novel (40K-80K words or what used to be a novel when the Hugos started), Stand-Alone Full-Length Novel (80-120K words, or what publishers are actually seeking and buying), Mega-Novel or Trilogy (works like LOTR told as one story, but broken up into volumes, think ASOIAF/GOT), Ongoing Series (uses the same characters, but with a new central conflict each book, like the Dresden Files, Honor Harrington, Monster Hunter Int’l, Old Man’s War, etc).

Now, me, I’d add/continue Short Fiction categories as well, but update them to the modern era:  Flash Fiction (1K words and under), Short Story (1K-20K), and Novella (20K-40K), with those definitions to be defined by committee.

To be clear, Eric Flint is not advocating these awards.  Those are just categories which would be more representative of the field than the awards currently recognize.  His main thrust is that the awards are too constrictive as a whole.  Rather than being handed out annually, they should be given out on a periodic basis to authors based upon a body of work.  That would be more valuable in terms of recognition and as a selling point.

When (okay, if) I’m made High Potentate of All Sci-Fi-Fant-Fandom and decree the Erics to be awarded, I’d probably take a mix of the old and new:

Best Flash Fiction of the Year

Best Short Story of the Year

Best Novella of the Year

Best Short Novel of the Year

Best Stand-Alone Novel of the Year

Best Mega-Novel (can include multiple years)

Best Series (can include multiple years)

Best New Writer (based upon at least 5 works over 3 years)

Best Writer

I imagine Mr. Flint would be horrified at being attached to such a thing, but I’d be generally excited about it.  And just to prevent tribalism or bloc voting by a clique, open the ballot to ALL fans, attach it to a mega-con like DragonCon, and use proportional voting or Single Transferable Vote, etc.

Hmmmm, awards that honor the best work and the best author, without bias or insularity, and reflective of the current market.  Eric Flint is not a genius.  He’s a SUPER-GENIUS.

😉

Labels, Libels, Hugos, and the Future

Once you start thinking in labels, you stop thinking.

I don’t mean to say that labels aren’t useful, or that I don’t employ them, but whenever I do, I try to tread carefully.  Labels are shortcuts to communication, conveying a complex mix of features to the identity of any group.  They are convenient tags for identifying ourselves and our compatriots, or for grouping things apart from us.  When we paste on a label, everyone knows at an instant who and what we are talking about.

Except that pretty much isn’t true at all, or at least not beyond the first order.  Because labels, while neat and tidy and concise in appearance, tend to be messy and broad in application.  As communication moves outward from the first person to apply a label, its meaning grows indistinct.  New qualities are glommed on.  Other associations are conflated that may not apply in general and almost certainly do not apply to any random, specific member of that group.  Who is using the label becomes almost as important as the word itself. Labels are polarizing — they allow you to stereotype those who disagree with you as “the other” and disregard them out of hand.

What comes to mind when I say Conservative?  Liberal?  Libertarian?  Progressive?  Moderate?  What about Muslim or Jew, Christian or Atheist?  Is it Pro-Life or Anti-Abortion, Pro-Choice or Pro-Abortion?  When I say “Person of Color” or “diversity,” do you roll your eyes at new labels for the same old groups, or do you cheer at our growth as a culture?  If someone talks about political correctness, what do you assume about them, just from those words?  At what point does working toward greater social justice diverge into becoming an over-reactionary Social Justice Warrior (SJW)?  Who is a SMOF or a CHORF or a Sad Puppy, and who may refer to those labels with impunity?

I ask as an outsider looking in while the community of science fiction and fantasy fans and content creators publicly immolates itself, apparently along ideological lines, lines defined by labels and both their use and mis-use.  Should anyone pay any heed to any blathering I do here?  No.  I’m just a newbie with no real experience in the community, who has no dog in this fight, and whose “accomplishments” are relatively pathetic next to the names which are embroiled in this battle.  But I’ve seen a lot of things — on both “sides” — that struck me as pretty screwy and just-not-right, so I thought I’d say something.

If what I say sounds like clueless bullshit, treat it as such and forgive me the exuberance of the uninitiated.

For those that don’t know the controversy, lemme sum up:  the SF/F community gives out awards for the best works every year.  Widely regarded as the most prestigious of these is the popularly awarded Hugo, which is voted on by the supporting and attending members of each year’s World Science Fiction Convention or WorldCon.  A not-insignificant group of fans, largely conservative, felt excluded from the running and by the predominance of the WorldCon attendees, and thus (they say) the award was increasingly being given to strongly liberal works in which a heavy-handed progressive social agenda or message outweighed the plot or characters.  They felt that possibly better-selling, more entertaining, less message-centric works should be getting on the ballot and have an equal shot at the awards.

Disregarded by the WorldCon majority, there began to be mutterings of insularity, elitism, ideological ostracism, and “whisper” campaigns by industry insiders to award only certain groups, people, and ideas, excluding others even if their quality merited inclusion. Was any of this true? I don’t know. Most of it has been building over decades and it very much depends upon whom you ask. But outspoken conservative author Larry Correia felt like kicking the hornets’ nest. He organized what he called the Sad Puppies campaign, for the stated purpose of exposing ideological bias and to show that the voting WorldCon community did not represent larger SF/F fandom.

There are much better histories of the Sad Puppies campaigns, but the gist of it is that Sad Puppies 1 (SP1) made some points and SP2 got some stuff on the ballot, but no awards. SP3, however, achieved the near-impossible, sweeping the entire ballot. Organized by Brad Torgerson, this version of the campaign addressed criticisms of SP1 and SP2, recommending works by a diverse group of authors who don’t write the type of stories the Hugo gets awarded to, but ostensibly for merit rather than their conservative bent. It also recommended a “slate” of five works in most categories, which is a full ballot of selections. Coupled with a strong “Get Out The Vote” push, as well as an analogous Rabid Puppy campaign by controversial editor Vox Day/Theodore Beale, SP3 succeeded so well, it pretty much broke the internet like Kim Kardashian tried to do.

When the nomination list came out last week, SP3/RP had taken 61 out of 85 slots with their recommended works. Heads EXPLODED. Vitriol and victory cries in equal measure sprang forth from the internets. Mike Glyer’s blog, File 770, has a running tally of all the different blog posts, both pro and anti-Puppy (he himself seems to be firmly anti-Puppy). I recommend you visit there at least once to take a survey of the field for understanding.

The argument is that the Sad Puppies stole the Hugos by bloc voting. By drumming up a lot of outsiders and new supporting members to vote for 5 specific works in each category, while everyone else was making 5 selections from among the hundreds of eligible works, they over-represented the popularity of their slate. The counter argument from the SPers was that the insular liberals, the Secret Masters of Fandom (SMOFs) had been doing the exact same thing for years behind the scenes with whisper campaigns, just not as well as the Puppies had done. Also, the SP slate was not the first recommendation slate in history, as many publishers, magazines, and authors of all viewpoints had pimped their own works or offered up their own recommendation slates. The offended WorldCon parties then insisted the recommendation slates and pimpage posts they had done in the past were completely different in kind to the SP slate, in that they recommended a larger subset of works than just 5 for each category, urging folks to pick and choose, rather than narrowing it down to a convenient bloc vote.

Attacks began: None of the Sad Pup stories are worth the paper they’re printed on and don’t deserve Hugos! SPers just want to go back to plots with the white male hetero hero killing the dark-skinned alien and getting the girl as a prize! Untrue! You liberal SJWs are just mad because we exposed you and beat you at your own game! We’re going to vote for “No Award” to be given rather than cave to you Pups! Come and take our Hugos from our cold, dead hands, hippies! Hate and discontent, back and forth, back and forth.

Ideologically and in terms of taste and preference in stories, I side with the Sad Puppies, but I’m not of the opinion all the Hugo and Nebula winners of the past won unjustly. I don’t necessarily agree there was a secret, organized cabal manipulating the Hugos from behind the scenes, but I have no evidence either way to refute the personal experiences many of the Puppies say they’ve seen and endured. My personnel belief is that there may have been some manipulation, but the main reason the awards have increasingly gone to “liberal” works (and a shit-load of Doctor Who) is that WorldCon is a self-selecting electorate. Con-goers and con-volunteers appear to skew progressive around the country. Sometimes SF/F cons represent the only place folks can safely let their freak flag fly.

WorldCon may represent a convention which has allowed that skewing to become entrenched, with progressives taking and keeping leadership roles, then slowly pushing conservatives to the fringe, consciously or subconsciously making them unwelcome or unappreciated. Power concentrates. As that happens, votes for classic-plot SF/F fall off and votes for socially progressive SF/F that reaches past current norms and boundaries rises, especially if the voters can exhibit their sense of social justice and commitment to diversity by awarding them to authors of color, female authors, LBTGQ authors, etc. It was less a conspiracy than a clique, all trying to one-up one another. And if you look at the abysmally low number of voters that usually participate in the Hugos, it doesn’t take much to forever lock the awards into a one-sided bias as strong as a conspiratorial cabal.

My main beef, however, from sitting on the outside, was the willy-nilly application of bad labels, especially when the external media informed the public outside of fandom about this for the very first time. As stated in the beginning, labels are a convenient shorthand, but they can be over-broad, polarizing, and carry associated labels that simply don’t and never did apply.

After the nominees were announced, the vitriolic among the entrenched-left portion of the WorldCon audience instantly started slinging labels on blogs and in online comments. The Puppies weren’t just Conservative. They were Racist, Sexist, Homophobic, Misogynist Fascists. They hated women and persons of color. Their champion was the Devil Vox Day and they only won because they brought in the GamerGaters who advocate violence against women and the roll back of civil rights.

In response, SP advocates started slinging their own. You hate fiction. Last year’s short story winner wasn’t even SF or Fantasy. All you want is affirmative action political correctness over any sense of fun or adventure. Social Justice Warrior fiction doesn’t sell and should not be awarded.

(All in all, my personal belief is the progressive side got more indignant, angrier, and nastier faster.)

But that’s fine. Online arguments get heated and polarized and the Hugos might be well and truly screwed, but nobody is dead and no one’s career has been irreparably ruined. It was all a tempest in a teapot. But then the Media got involved. Blogs at Entertainment Weekly, Salon, Slate, Comics Alliance, the A/V Club, etc. all produced articles solely from the perspective of the indignant status quo. These were internationally consumed reports and they parroted the very worst of the labels and charges found in niche blog comments. And where before it was just some internet asshat spouting off about the SPers and their supporters being Nazis, now it was actual news reports, without the least attempt to consult anyone on the Sad Puppy side. Real death threats started getting tossed about.

Now it was actual libel. (Note, I am not a lawyer, but that’s still fucked up.) The EW report was “corrected” to remove the grossest of inaccuracies, but the public perception is still that these Sad Puppy authors hate women, diversity, gays, and very likely actual puppies themselves. All the public has seen, if they even care, are labels, firmly branded upon men and women and fans to which they DO NOT APPLY. This really pissed me off, in no small part because I liked a number of the SP3/RP recommendations and put them on my own ballot, and that crap certainly doesn’t apply to me.

But if I’m to be totally intellectually honest, were many of the charges laid upon John Scalzi, Charlie Stross, Tor.com, and others equally specious? Was I applying improper labels for the sake of my own convenience, in order to assuage my guilt from supporting Sad Puppies and forever changing the Hugos? Well, I’ve done a lot of reading and here’s where I fall out:

– In the absence of other evidence, give folks the benefit of the doubt. Take Larry Correia, Brad Torgerson, John Scalzi, etc at face value about their actions and intentions, rather than spinning up grand conspiracy theories about how they run their separate world-controlling cabals. Larry and Brad are not anti-diversity, homophobic, sexist white supremacists and they have no issues with progressive fiction — they just want whiz-bang space operas and the like to be judged on an equal footing, with no bias to any ideology. And John Scalzi is not a master-puppeteer, controlling the Hugos from his shadow presidency of the SFWA. That person is Mary Robinette Kowal. 🙂

– Vox Day is not the devil. We don’t agree on a GREAT MANY issues, but I’ve worked with him and he’s always been pleasant and professional. I think his work at Castalia House has been impressive and I really am proud to be in RIDING THE RED HORSE. Vote for Ken Burnside’s Best Related Work!

– Voting “No Award” is sort of a cop-out just because it was on the Sad Puppy slate. Slates have existed before SP3 and they will exist after SP3. SP3 was not a mandate. It was a recommendation, and no one had to vote the entire thing exactly as it was. There was no illegal collusion. There was no actual bloc voting. By narrowing things down to five selections in each category, they exploited a legal voting system weakness beautifully, and succeeded far in excess of what they anticipated. They may have even succeeded themselves into oblivion. Does that narrowing invalidate the slate? No, but it does tend to over-focus on certain works among a wider pool of deserving, alternative stories. And that’s what separates SP3 from the Scalzi pimpage threads and the Locus recommendations. Those were wider, so there could be no realistic charges of bloc voting. Does SP4 NEED to have more than five recommendations in each category? No, it should have exactly as many recommendations as its leaders desire, but not answering this charge made by the opposition tarnishes whatever comes out in the final nominations. A “balanced” slate that truly represents fandom would be more like 1-3 classic/conservative masterpieces and 4-2 progressive ones, not that any such ratio should be any sort of litmus test. If SP4 has 10 or so recommendations and a good turnout like this year, they’ll have made an honest effort to silence their critics and still serve their goals. Whether those critics stay silent cannot be guaranteed, though. For the “No Award” voters, don’t penalize the SP movement and their authors for being audacious successes. Read the work and vote for quality. Give the Puppies a reason to hope you’ll play fair, to encourage them to widen their slate next year. No Award is a scorched-earth tactic which burns you equally.

The Hugo nomination process has been shattered. It will change this year. Should it? I dunno, but if one side proves a targeted slate can work, every side will do targeted 5-item slates, whether they have pledged to No Award slated works or not. I’d prefer the system remain as it is, with SP4 widening the recommendations. But a number of new voting systems have been proposed, like proportional voting, Single Transferable Vote, extra votes, only allowing attending members to vote (I hate this one as it is a clear attempt to disenfranchise the conservatives who have been reportedly ostracized from the convention). If nothing changes and the No Award types and Sad Puppies stick to their guns, the Hugos could potentially be No Awarded for eternity. They would end. Something has to give. Either the voters should judge the available nominations on un-biased merit, hoping SP4 will convert to a more accepted slate size; or next year could see multiple competing slates, which would likely swamp SP4, but also invalidate the award through excessive pre-narrowing of the field; or the voting rules change to either something more difficult to game, or something far more insular and even less representative.

– I still want a Hugo someday and I would have been proud to be a Puppy, but my work isn’t there yet.

So, sorry about the length of the post. Kudos to you if you made it this far! What are your thoughts?

And My Hugo Nominees Are . . . .

 

In case you were wondering.  This list is based off of what I read that was published last year.  I had to do a lot of last-minute revision since apparently I’m a late reader — more than half the things I was intending to nominate were published prior to 2014, even though I yanked ’em out of the New Arrivals section.  Sorry, Lexicon (but I’m still nominating The Martian because it OUGHT to be eligible).  I also referred to a bunch of best-of lists, as well as the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies slates (they were handy and I agree with many of the listings, even if I don’t fully agree with the particular windmills they’re tilting against), but I only put down things I had a personal knowledge of — so, sorry about that, Novella and Novelette categories, I don’t apparently read many examples of you.  I’ve also tried to recognize some below-the-radar and self/indie publishing hopefuls that should receive recognition.  I realize, just like with putting my own name in the ring, these little guys are unlikely to get enough votes for a spot on the final ballot, but I do what I can.  If you haven’t heard of one of my noms, by all means CHECK THEM OUT.

I don’t have my nominee slots completely full either, so you have until midnight Pacific Daylight Time to convince me to add more!

Best Novel:
Trial By Fire, Charles E. Gannon, Baen Books
Skin Game, Jim Butcher, ROC
Robogenesis, Daniel H. Wilson, Doubleday
The Martian, Andy Weir, Crown

Best Novelette:
Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium, Gray Rinehart, Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show

Best Short Story:
“Words On The Wind”, Lu Whitley, The Writer’s Arena
“Turncoat”, Steve Rzasa, Castalia House
“Tuesdays with Molakesh the Destroyer”, Megan Grey, Fireside Fiction

Best Related Work:
“The Hot Equations: Thermodynamics and Military SF”, Ken Burnside, Castalia House
“Why Science is Never Settled”, Tedd Roberts, Baen
Wisdom From My Internet, Michael Z. Williamson, Michael Z. Williamson
Atomic Rockets website, Winchell Chung, Winchell Chung
Mathematical Fiction website, Alex Kasman, Alex Kasman

Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form):
Interstellar, Christopher Nolan, Paramount Pictures
Guardians of the Galaxy, James Gunn, Marvel Studios
Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Russo Brothers, Marvel Studios
Automata, Gabe Ibanez, Green Moon
Edge of Tomorrow, Doug Liman, Warner Brothers

Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form):
Pilot (The Flash), Greg Berlanti, DC Entertainment/The Flash
Unbound (Almost Human), J H Wyman, Fox Television/Almost Human
Night Zero (The Strain), Guillermo Del Toro, FX/The Strain
The Grove (The Walking Dead), Michael E. Satrazemis, AMC/The Walking Dead
The Mountain and the Viper (Game of Thrones), Alex Graves, HBO/Game of Thrones

Best Professional Editor (Short Form):
Edmund R. Schubert
Mike Reznick
Eric Flint
Jonathan Laden
Trevor Quachri

Best Professional Editor (Long Form):
Toni Weisskopf
Jim Minz
Anne Sowards

Best Professional Artist:
Alan Pollack

Best Semiprozine:
Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, Edmund R. Schubert

Best Fanzine:
The Writer’s Arena, Tony Southcotte, Joseph Devon, Albert Berg

Best Fancast:
The Human Echoes Podcast, Tony Southcotte, Albert Berg
Emergency Awesome, Charlie Schneider
PT Hylton Reads, PT Hylton
Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing

Best Fan Writer:
Cedar Sanderson
Amanda Green

The John W. Campbell Award (not a Hugo):
Rolf Nelson, The Stars Came Back
Chris Kennedy, Janissaries
Jason Cordova, Kaiju Apocalypse

The Partly Informed Voter

Hey, all.  I’ve been off the computer as of late (well, off everything that isn’t Parks and Rec or Justified binge watching), so I apologize for the lack of recent posts, updating my writer’s group, or making progress on my projects.  I can’t say why I’ve been off.  It’s been more of a general “blah” feeling than anything else.  Maybe it’s the winter.

But with the advent of March, I am renewed unto the approach of Spring, groundhog be damned.  I’m feeling UP and ready to tackle the blog-o-sphere and my own writing career yet again!  Read closely — there is much to catch up on:

– First and foremost, I am a contributing member to SASQUAN, this year’s World Science Fiction Convention, and as such I have a terrible and awesome thing:  a vote!  Yes, it is now within my capability to vote for the (lately) controversial Hugo award for the best works in Science Fiction.  Nominations close March 10th, so this is YOUR last chance to make suggestions to me for what should receive a nod.  I have no delusions that my own novel or stories will make the cut, proud of them though I am.  Nominees don’t need many votes to make the ballot — on the order of 160 or so.  I have more than enough 5-star reviews of ASID to think that I have 160 people who would back me, but I doubt the Venn diagram of my readers and SASQUAN voters would intersect to that degree.  Back when I had dim hopes that I might make the Sad Puppy slate (one side of the Hugo controversy), I might have had a slot, but it was not to be.  Many of the Sad Puppies devotees have read and liked ASID, but there are better books out there and they justifiably got on the slate.  The same goes for my short stories — my audience and the average SASQUAN voting pool are not the same group of people, so no joy.  That being said, who SHOULD I vote for?  I have a few that I’ll be backing, but there is room on my card for others to tag along.  Should I fill in my gaps with Sad or Angry Puppies?  Should I strike out for balance and vote for books touted by the other, “non-controversial”, “I don’t see anything wrong with the awards”, “there’s no inherent bias among WorldCon voters” side?  Check out my existing slate tomorrow and let me know what I should add!

– My active SFWA membership has not come through yet.  I’m qualified six ways from Sunday, but no joy yet.  Must investigate.  I am happy that my friend Joelle Presby got her membership, however.  That’s a future SFWA board member there, folks.  Me?  I couldn’t be bothered.

– I’ve completed about 1/4th of DEMI-GOD and it is going well (except for my operational writing pause throughout much of February).  I’m eager to finish, but worry about how the story grabs you.  I expect the editing phase to be arduous.  This is not a spiffy sci-fi military adventure like my last one.  This is much more social science fiction and much more character driven, so I worry about my past readers losing interest.  Once I get further on, I will be requesting beta-readers, so let me know if you want to participate.

– I’m spending today re-writing my sci-fi western for the Weird Wild West anthology.  Gotta get that in before the window closes.  Just need to punch up the beginning.

– I also need to post my new short story for sale as a Kindle Single.  Let the 99 cent experiment begin!

– Movies you should check out:  Jupiter Ascending (a visual masterpiece that should only be watched completely drunk), Kingsman (an AWESOME flick which is both a deconstruction of Bond and the best of what makes Bond), and The Lazarus Effect (which is being unfairly maligned as either a Lucy redux or a Flatliners copy.  It is neither.  It is a good low-budget horror flick, though I did think the villain had some issues with her motivation to go FULL-EVIL at the end.)  I’m thinking about adding a feature here called the BLUF review for Bottom Line Up Front where I lead with my final judgment and then go into detail.

– Should I get in to You Tube?  I have a face for radio and a voice for books, but there is a whole media out there that I’m missing out on.  Recommendations?

– And, lastly, for a special treat, go check out The Human Echoes Podcast, where you can hear yours truly debate and riff off of Albert Berg and Tony Southcotte of The Writer’s Arena about the movie Armageddon, space science, the end of the world, and 50 Shades of Grey (which may or may not be related).  It was my first podcast, but I had tons of fun, and you should absolutely check it out.

Later!