Cirsova Makes the Sad Pookas!

The Sad Pookas is “a recommendation list…for you to consider when deciding on what to nominate for Science Fiction and Fantasy awards, such as the Hugo or the Dragon…composed of Furries and allies to the Furry cause.”

Cirsova has been given a nod for Best Semi-Pro Zine, and I’ve been given a recommendation for best Short Form Editor!

They have a lot of other really great picks, too, particularly Fan Writer and Podcast, both categories significantly overlapping with what I’d probably recommend people check out, myself. Also, Cirsova contributor Donald J. Uitvlugt’s “In the Days of the Witch-Queens” makes their pick for best short story.

Now, while it may seem odd at first glance that Cirsova and the Pulp Revolution folks at places like the Puppy of the Month Book Club have caught the eye of the Furry community, keep in mind that Furries have SFF fans among them just like any other group, and anthros are actually a pretty common feature in science fiction and fantasy. But, you tend to get your talking gorillas, cat people, wolf-men, etc. in the kind of wild and fun anything-goes SFF that has been championed by the likes of the Pulp Revolution crew.

For the curious, I did an interview with The QuQu and Dan Wolfgang, the driving duo behind QuQu Media, which can be found here at Castalia House.

 

Best Short Fiction (Only Part of the Hugos I’m Gonna Get Mad About)

For the most part, the outcome of the Hugo Awards on Saturday did not surprise me. While I’m bummed that Ku Kuru Yo and Castalia House didn’t win, it was still expected, and for the most part, I wasn’t particularly invested in a lot of the categories.

Best Short Fiction was really the only point of outrage for me. I would have loved to see Chuck Tingle* take the prize in that category.  I would have been fine with one of the other stories winning, and even No Award would not have been as terrible, given the circumstances.  But the notion that Cat Pictures Please was the best that the Science Fiction field had to offer makes me want to dash my brains out.  It was almost kept off the ballot except that one Rabid Puppy pick withdrew their nomination, allowing Cat Pictures to back into a slot.

Now, for a minute consider this comment left on a Guardian article:

“Science Fiction is defined by Clarke’s Three Laws, Fantasy is defined by Tolkien’s On Fairy Stories.

That is the end of the matter.

If the right-wing want “swashbuckling fun”, they can create their own damn genre. No, sf/f has never been about “inclusiveness”. It has almost exclusively been left-of-centre visions. Right-of-centre visions are more often found in pay-to-pray megachurches.”

Ignoring the political idiocy of the Guardian commenter, the notion that SFF is not supposed to be swashbuckling fun MUST be pervasive given the support for this sort of stuff.  This change in short fiction was already well under way by the 1970s, as was apparent in some of the worst stories I read in Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.

And consider that Cat Pictures Please is a preachy little piece about an AI that outs a flimsy stereotype of a closeted gay minister cuz he’ll be so much happier out of the closet.  This is what is considered the best in Short Science Fiction? This is why, while it stands to have so much potential, especially in a tablet-happy reader market, SFF short fiction still feels stuck in a rut.This is why, despite my love of SFF short fiction, I don’t waste my time on the contemporary ‘big name’ publications.

It’s not just Cat Pictures Please, or the laughably bad If You Were a Dinosaur My Love – plenty of Puppy picks and favorites last year and this were twee, saccharine little puffs of winks and cuddles fit more for a volume of Chicken Soup for the SF Soul than to be called “Best Short Story”.  I’ve made no bones ::pun intended:: about the fact that my disappointment with some of the Puppy picks was part of what inspired me to try to promote Heroic Fantasy and pulpy Science Fiction.

Are we regressives? In the sense that we’d like to drag genre fiction kicking and screaming back to a place where it was fun and awesome, I suppose so. SFF at its best should be inspirational and aspirational. There is so much potential, as I’ve said, for this kind of science fiction. People are hungry for new stories, stories they can read in their spare time, on the go, on vacation, and on their tablets—short fiction is PERFECT for that.

By supporting Cirsova Heroic Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine, not only are you helping us fight back against the notion that science fiction and fantasy should not be “swashbuckling fun”, you are supporting authors who create swashbuckling fantasy and science fiction by enabling us to buy their stories while paying competitive rates.

*:Worth noting that Chuck Tingle’s Space Raptor Butt Invasion has done far more for mainstream gay acceptance within the SFF community beyond capital “F” Fandom than a thousand little softly bigoted pieces like Cat Pictures Please could dream to. Also, never forget that despite the faux show of solidarity, Tingle was No Awarded after having initially been bullied and told he needed to drop out by N.K. Jemisin who went on to win Best Novel this year.

A Brief Summary of the Tingling

  • Vox Day & Rabid Puppies say “Let’s Nominate Chuck Tingle for the lulz!”
  • Chuck Tingle gets nominated, proceeds to be awesome and hilarious, even in the face of pressure from anti-puppies that he withdraw because he’s ruining the Hugos by being there.
  • Puppies and Puppy Adjacents say “Chuck Tingle is awesome, let’s get him a Hugo!”
  • Chuck Tingle posts jokes about Vox Day and announces Zoe Quinn will accept the award for him.
  • Many of the people previously saying Tingle should withdraw because he’s ruining the Hugos say “Let’s get Chuck Tingle a Hugo; that’ll show Vox Day, the Puppies and Gamergate!”
  • Puppies and Puppy Adjacents – “We’re okay with this!”
hunchbacknotredam

Love is Real

For some reason, I don’t think giving Space Raptor Butt Invasion—a work that wouldn’t even be on the ballot if it were not for Vox Day—a Hugo is going to teach Vox Day a lesson.

Just as planned

Just as planned!

All I know is that my Legends of Science Fiction T-shirt should be arriving sometime this week, and I can’t wait.

Serious important post and announcement later today.

Hugo Noms are Live!

So a few of my picks made it!

Huge congrats to Jeffro Johnson, Douglas Ernst, and Kukuruyo.

Also, to the Castalia House family which I’m honored to be a part of.

A bunch of my picks were underdogs, so I didn’t expect them to get it, but hey, some of the names I’d floated even before SP4/RP2 made it.  The only real shame is that TIE Fighter didn’t make Dramatic Short Form.

Some of the Noms this year are positively magic.

I am, as has been pointed out, more “puppy-adjacent” than I am a Puppy, but I really can’t help but rub my hands together in glee over a few of these, particularly Kukuruyo, whom I DID vote for, and Chuck Tingle.

I wasn’t sure if I’d spring for a voting membership this year, but I think I just might…  Also, yay for the Leigh Brackett in the Retros!

Sad Puppies Are Up + My Hugo Recs

Let’s take a look right quick:

Back in February, I said this would be the Sad Puppies Novel list:

A Long Time Until Now – Michael Z Williamson
Seveneves – Neal Stephenson
Uprooted – Naomi Novik
Honor At Stake – Declan Finn
The Just City – Jo Walton
Somewhither – John C Wright
The Fifth Season – NK Jemisin
The Aeronaut’s Windlass – Jim Butcher
Nethereal – Brian Niemeier
Strands of Sorrow: Black Tide Rising – John Ringo

And a month and a half later, this is the Sad Puppies Novel list:

Somewhither – John C Wright
Honor At Stake – Declan Finn
The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut’s Windlass – Jim Butcher
Uprooted – Naomi Novik
A Long Time Until Now – Michael Z Williamson
Seveneves – Neal Stephenson
Son of the Black Sword – Larry Correia
Strands of Sorrow – John Ringo
Nethereal – Brian Niemeier
Ancillary Mercy – Ann Leckie

The only difference was I assumed Correia would bow out again (which isn’t to say he won’t) and stuck in Jemisin and Walton, who were tied only to be beaten by Leckie by one vote probably voiced in the month  between when I made my call and when Kate closed the comments section.  As Judgedeadd points out below, votes for Leckie were miscounted, so I called it right back in February after all.  Jemisin and Walton should both be on the list with 8 votes each.

We’re on the cutting edge here at Cirsova, folks.

It may have been a mistake to post a recommended reading list with probably over a million words of content two weeks before nominations close.  Unless it was a clever trick to say “aha!  Sad Puppies was about the discussion, not the final list!” in which case, well played.  That means that those who came over from places like File770 to leave comments and votes are now Sad Puppies.

Without the synergy between Sads & Rabids this year, I think we’ll see less of a direct impact this time around, but I think that it gives a pretty good look at how the Hugo noms would’ve shaken out with or without the Puppies. Plus, it may give the statisticians out there a better look at just how much pull Vox has.  There was a lot of talk last year that there were actually only a handful of Sad Puppies and the 500 or so Vile Faceless Minions were the deciding factor.

Vox has been posting his own list slowly over the course of the last month and a half showcasing some of his own bizarre and sometimes hilarious picks. After a friend and I clicked through some titles the other night, absolutely cracking up laughing, I’ve decided that Chuck Tingle probably deserves an award for something .  Maybe not a Hugo, but sure, man, somebody toss that guy a trophy.

In any case, the lack of media circus with its libelous accusations this year can’t be a bad thing.

Below are my own picks and recommendations (in categories where I recommended more than 5, I’m not saying who I did and didn’t vote for).

Best Novel
Torchship – Karl Gallagher
The Sceptre of Morgulan – Matthew D. Ryan

Best Dramatic Presentation Short
Star Wars: Tie Fighter – Paul Johnson
Modern Educayshun – Neel Kolhatkar
iZombie: Blaine’s World – Michael Fields / Rob Thomas

Best Dramatic Presentation Long
Jupiter Ascending – The Wachowskis

Best Related
Retrospective: Appendix N – Jeffro Johnson
Safe Space as Rape Room: Science Fiction Culture and Childhood’s End – Daniel Eness
The Story of Moira Greyland – Moira Greyland
Gamergate Life – Kukuruyo

Best Graphic Story
Rusty & Co.: Circus Minimus – Mike R.
Gamergate Life – Kukuruyo

Best Fanzine
The Book Wars
Castalia House
Superversive SF
Lurking Rhythmically
Mad Genius Club
File 770

Best Fancast
Honey Badger Radio
NEET Life: Dead Gamers Talking

Best Fanwriter
Sci-fist
Dyvers
Douglas Ernst
Jeffro Johnson
Planetary Defense Commander
Ron Edwards
Zenopus Archives

Best Fan Artist
Kukuruyo
Jabari Weathers

Too bad one of the requirements for Semi-Pro Zine is having at least 4 issues; if the field is really as thin as Kate suggests, it would be a great opportunity for Cirsova to swoop in and raise some eyebrows.  We may have 4 issues by next spring, though.  More on that soon, I hope!

 

Pulps and Puppies

Cirsova got a mention the other day in a French SFF blog post where I get name dropped as a Puppy supporter. It’s in French, but fortunately French is one of those languages that doesn’t parse into total gibberish with translation software.

The Short version is ‘the Puppies are made up of ultraconservative American authors’ and ‘while the Puppies are nominally defenders of the pulps and the pulpy, they might not actually be very pulpy in practice’.

While the first point is utter nonsense, the latter is a bit more interesting. Yes, my biggest gripe with the Puppies was that I didn’t feel like they were putting forth the sort of pulpy SF that I’d hoped for. Even this year there’s a lot of squee about Tuesdays with Molakesh the Destroyer that I just don’t get.

It’s less, I think, that the Puppies aren’t what they claim to be and more they are not what others claim them to be.

I supported the Puppies largely because a lot of what I saw written about them was awful bald-faced lies, but also in part because based on those bald-faced lies I expected something different; what I read between the lines of the lies ended up being rather false as well. If the critics of the Puppies hadn’t called them sexist, racist, homophobic nazis who wanted to put people on trains and send them to the camps after running women and non-white authors out of science fiction rather than let their recommendations stand or fall on their own, I probably wouldn’t have been so outspoken on the Puppies’ behalf.

I’ve already posted most of my recommendations for the Hugos this year. It’ll be interesting to see how they jibe with whatever the Puppies pick, but I doubt there will be much overlap in the categories I talked about.  A lot of what’s on my ballot hasn’t matched Ted’s recommendations and I doubt it’ll match what Kate, Sarah and Amanda eventually post.  I don’t know if that makes me Puppy or not this year.

Back to the original post, I’m glad this guy pointed out Airship 27; I took a look at the website and I think I’ll be checking out. It’s also cool that this guy talks about Pulp influence in the OSR community (of which I consider myself to be part). Hey, man Appendix N and all that! OSR is what got me embroiled in the Hugos last year in the first place when Jeffro Johnson got his nod.

Anyway, I appreciate the mention and hope that Fabian considers checking out issue #1 of Cirsova. I think he’d dig it.

Vox Day’s Xanatos Gambit a Confirmed Win (at Least for Vox Day)

Just as planned

“JUST AS PLANNED!”

“…I told everyone that this year was about the nominations and the best we could reasonably hope for was to provoke them into voting No Award… which they dutifully did.

Our execution wasn’t flawless. I made two mistakes, one which was fortuitous as it permitted Three Body Problem to make the shortlist and win, and one which was stupid as it cost us a 6th category in novelette. Our discipline could also have been better, although I don’t see that it would have made any difference at all with regards to either the nominations or the awards. But I trust the moderate approach is now sufficiently discredited in everyone’s eyes.” – Vox Day

“The real winner this year was Vox Day and the Rabid Puppies. Yep. You CHORFing idiots don’t seem to realize that Brad, Sarah, and I were the reasonable ones who spent most of the summer talking Vox out of having his people No Award the whole thing to burn it down, but then you did it for him. He got the best of both worlds. Oh, but now you’re going to say that Three Body Problem won, and that’s a victory for diversity! You poor deluded fools… That was Vox’s pick for best novel. That’s the one most of the Rabid Puppies voted for too.” – Larry Correia.

Hugo Post-Mortem

In the end, the Hugos turned out not how I’d hoped, but how I’d expected.

The big question looming over the announcement was who were the people who’d shown up in record numbers to vote in the Hugos. Well, we still can’t say that it was entirely the GRRM “True Fans”, because there were several categories that had incredibly high vote totals for nominees in what are normally incredibly small categories. Toni Weisskopf got what may be a record number of votes in the Best Long Form editor category, with 1216 first pass votes. However this was one of the many categories that was “nuked” by the No Award vote.

Originally, I’d predicted that a lot of the lesser known categories would be nuked because the straight ticket and puppy-free ticket No Award crowd would certainly outnumber good faith voters in those categories. While I was one of those who had been brought in by the Puppy controversy, I was a good faith voter and only voted in categories in which I had read everything and could make an informed choice, so I skipped a number of categories. What surprised me was how large the No Award crowd actually was. I was expecting the Puppies to lose because they were splitting their votes among 5 nominees, not because they were outnumbered by the No Award block from around 3:2 to 2:1 in most categories.

There were a few other shocks which should not have been surprises, but still were. The Asterisk award bit was a huge insult to the nominees and the winners, but what was strange was the fervor of the cheers whenever “No Award” was announced. It was the best thing in the world to a huge number of people that the “wrong” authors didn’t win. In a year that gave an award to The Day the World Turned Upside Down for best novelette when other categories were being nuked because “hurf-blurf quality”, the cognitive dissonance is amazing. I abstained in the Novelette category because I didn’t get around to reading them all, but DtWTUD was one of the worst things I’d read recently. In fairness, it WAS losing to No-Award until the 4th pass.

There were a few bright spots in the categories that did win awards. I’m not unhappy that Guardians of the Galaxy won. It wasn’t my first choice, but it was definitely the kind of movie I’d love to see more of. I’m glad Julie Dillon won; I know nothing about her, and she could be the most horrible person in the world, but her artwork was superb and she deserved the win; I’m sorry that her win has an asterisk by it. I’m also happy to see Ms. Marvel get the win. Ms. Marvel is a flawed work and probably ultimately doomed to either die a withering death or become another zombie title simply because it’s an American comic that is part of the Marvel Universe, but it was certainly the best of the bunch. At least Rat Queens didn’t win, amirite? The Zombie comic had no chance because that dude could not give but a single fuck about the Hugos, and I’ve got to respect him for that.

It was a nice gesture to let that fan from Austria(?) come up and announce some winners. The Dalek was awful, though. No, not because of any ‘exterminate the Sad Puppies’ reference that some people are suggesting, but because the audio was completely borked for that entire portion of the ceremony. How great would it have been if they had to announce a No Award from Outer Space?

So, record turn-out for Worldcon to match a record number of No Awards being given out (doubling the total from all previous years). Saturday night, we may have seen the most epic ‘taking the ball and going home’ in history. Ultimately, there’s a now a stalemate in fandom: the Puppies have proven that they can lock the nominees in the most categories, while the TruFan crowd has proven that they can shut down those categories once nominees are decided. So, the question is, what will happen next time? Who will give first and by the time one side gives, will the Award even mean anything? The Puppies camp is already ratcheting up for next time. While the straight No Award camp was probably only in the few hundreds (else Movie and Comic would’ve been nuked, too), the Puppy-Free camp was certainly in the thousands. That’s a LOT of money being spent by a LOT of fandom to keep those nasty Puppies from taking home an award. With Worldcon membership price jumping up to $50, I wonder what attrition we’ll see? The psychological significance in difference between $40 and $50 is larger than a mere $10, so I would not be surprised if next year did not have the record number of supporting members.

This empty box cost fandom roughly $140,000.

This empty box cost fandom roughly $140,000.  How much will it cost next year?

I’m probably not going to register next year. After what I saw Saturday night, I don’t think Worldcon deserves my money.

Breakdown of voting can be found here, if you’re interested.

I was almost surprised Mixon didn’t thank Requires Hate in her acceptance speech.

Minor update: I loved the running joke of an old white guy making fun of Vaishnavism.  Progressive Hugos 4 the Win!

Hugo Awards Best Fan Writer Category

Even after all this time, I’m still trying to nail down a definition in my mind of what “Best Fan Writer” really means. So today, I’m going to try to define it for myself, and if that definition helps others, so be it!

Wikipedia says “The Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer is the Hugo Award given each year for writers of works related to science fiction or fantasy which appeared in low- or non-paying publications such as semiprozines or fanzines or in generally available electronic media during the previous calendar year. There is no restriction that the writer is not also a professional author, and several such authors have won the award for their non-paying works. The award was first presented in 1967 and has been awarded annually.”

The Hugo Awards official webpage simply says: “This is another person category. Note that it does not just apply to writing done in fanzines. Work published in semiprozines, and even on mailing lists, blogs, BBSs, and similar electronic fora, can be including when judging people for this Award. Only work in professional publications should not be considered.”

Sadly, neither of these definitions really convey what it means to be a fan writer beyond the barest qualifications. While it would be nice to see a few pieces try to objectively define what it means to be a fan writer, most of what I’ve seen have been Phillipics or Jeremiads in the Hugo Blogosphere decrying Mixon for even having the audacity to be nominated in the same year that the Puppies dominated the categories.

So, in this post, I will try to define what “Fan Writer” means and use it to justify my support of Jeffro Johnson in this year’s Best Fan Writer category.

On the face of it, a Fan Writer is just that. A fan who writes. They are a fan of something in the realm of fantasy and science fiction, and they write about fantasy and science fiction from the perspective of someone who is a fan to an audience of fellow or potential fans. A good fanwriter is like an evangelical minister of fantasy and science fiction; they give sermons to the believers to help them better understand the texts they know and love and they take the good word to those who have not heard it. You’ve been missing something in your life, and you don’t quite know what it is, but I think I can help you; here’s this story by Lord Dunsany!

To me, Jeffro Johnson has provided a treasure trove of knowledge and insight into a wide range of games and fiction, some of which I have only had a passing familiarity with others which I knew and loved but still gained new insight into. First and foremost, Jeffro Johnson is a fan. Not an elitist hipster fan who only likes that band because no one has heard of them and those who have can’t stand them, but a true and loving fan who wants to share the joy he has found in games and fiction with others. “Look at this awesome thing! Share in its awesomeness with me!” Of course like any devout, Jeffro has his shares of quirks. Monopoly orthodoxy, for instance, is as passionate a subject for Jeffro as politics and religion for most. But that’s part of why we love him, right? He has passion for the things he enjoys! Plus, his Google feed is like Drudge Report for nerds.

The hardest task for me this Hugo voting season is going to be ranking the Mad Genius Club Writers. They’re all amazing, and I’ve really enjoyed everything I’ve read by them. The catch is, I know about the Mad Genius Club writers BECAUSE of Jeffro. I’m not going to attempt to rank any of them here, because I still have no idea which one is my favorite (but I suggest you check them all out, because they’re all great).

Mixon’s post on Requires Hate stands out like a sore thumb among the rest of the fan writing nominees. While I’m sure her piece is an excellent and important TL;DR (sorry, I really wasn’t interested enough to read all of it. The word count: it’s OVER 9000!!!) piece of serious journalism, I’m hesitant to call it Fan Writing. I’m sure that Mixon is a Fan, but her piece is not about fantasy/sci-fi written to the fandom or in an effort to expand the fandom in an effort to proselytize the genres further. It targets and pertains to very particular groups within the community in relation to the adverse actions of an individual -who sounds like an absolute reprobate-, but to me it does little of what the best sorts of Fan Writing ought to do.

Compare and contrast
Baird Searles’ now all-but-forgotten blurb from F&SF 1977:
“Probably the best reason [why the show works] is that Wonder Woman, by its very nature, doesn’t take itself at all seriously. And therefore, by a curious paradox, becomes much easier to take seriously, on its own level.”

“Keeping that blank naievete(sic) without coming across as stupid and boring is very difficult, and [Linda] Carter manages it beautifully”…”Besides, she fills those golden breast cups without looking grotesque, which is no small feat (take a look at some 40s s/f pulp covers and you’ll see what I mean).”

Laura J. Mixon’s Hugo Nominated Blog Post from 2014:
“Benjanun Sriduangkaew has established herself over the past two years as a well-liked and talented newer writer. As a lesbian Thai woman, she identifies as a member of a highly marginalized community, and there has been quite a bit of excitement in progressive circles around her rise in popularity as a short story writer.”

“I think of what happened this last August in Ferguson, Missouri. As a mother of two young adults around Mike Brown’s age, I break into a cold sweat when I think what his mother must be going through. I feel deeply angry, that in my own country today an unarmed young person can be shot on the street by a uniformed police officer, and months later there is no indictment, no criminal charges, against that man.”

“Between 37 and 40% of [Benjanun Sriduangkaew] targets, or nearly two-fifths, were people of color. Given that the field has been, and still is, predominantly white, this is disproportionately high. In other words, POC are much more likely to be a target of her attacks than whites.”

That Linda Carter sounds hot and that Benjanun Srimalamadingdong sounds like bad news. Requires Hate, from what I’ve gathered, is a far left radical progressive who pissed off a lot of people by harassing other far left radical progressives while ignoring the ‘rules’ set by the progressive stack. Linda Carter, from what I’ve gathered, is a hot lady who is staring in an awesome sci-fi show based on an old comic book, and all three sound like they’re worth checking out, amirite?

I’m not trying to minimize the work that Mixon did on her write-up on Requires Hate; that would take editing skills far beyond my own (wakka wakka!). But seriously, this might have belonged more in the Related Work category than Fan Writer. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to spit shine the dust jackets of those Jack Vance books Jeffro convinced me were worth checking out!