It’s a mystery to me why the Puppy crowd chose to nominate two short pieces of nonfiction, “Why Science is Never Settled” by Tedd Roberts and “Hot Equations: Thermodynamics and Military SF” by Ken Burnside.
Category: Related Work
Published in (Roberts): Baen website [part1] [part2]
Published in (Burnside): essay and short story collection Riding the Red Horse, edited by Vox Day and Tom Kratman
Slates: Rabid & Sad Puppies
Why pick a somewhat dry exploration into the scientific method and a physics-heavy account of thermodynamics and military science fiction? They seem to be fine as far as dry explorations and physics-heavy accounts go, but it feels quite weird that suddenly a legion of Hugo nominators pretend that they are enthusiastic about these tedious things.
Here’s an exemplary paragraph by Burnside:
The Space Shuttle Main Engine had an ISp of 470, and was a Rube Goldberg contraption pumping cryogenic hydrogen and oxygen past the engine to regeneratively cool it, running a little bit past the rated design spec. The cheaper to operate, but less efficient Falcon 9 has an estimated ISp of about 290 seconds. NERVA open core nuclear rockets using hydrogen as propellant had ISps of 1200 seconds with a thrust of around 400 milligees. The ion thrusters used by NASA’s probes to Pluto have ISPs of around 10,000 seconds with a thrust of around 4 milligees.
Roberts’s text isn’t even related to SFF, but let’s have a soundbite from that as well for fairness’s sake:
Accidents occur, and scientists are not immune from them. Hopefully, errors are caught in the review process; it has certainly happened to me, and I’ve caught many errors as a reviewer. Too much pressure to publish too often (or simply rushing the process), can lead errors that must later be corrected, either through published retraction, or simply by other lab(s) finding and reporting to differing results. No scientist truly wants to get a result published, and then find out later that the results were not valid due to a decimal point error…
What fun. What rip-roaring, swashbuckling fun.
Score for both: 1.5/10
This wraps up the very disappointing Related Work category that is going to look like this in my final voting ballot:
- No Award
- Letters from Gardner: A Writer’s Odyssey by Lou Antonelli 2/10
- “The Hot Equations: Thermodynamics and Military SF”, Ken Burnside 1.5/10
- “Why Science is Never Settled” by Tedd Roberts 1.5/10
- Transhuman and Subhuman: Essays on Science Fiction and Awful Truth by John C. Wright 0/10
- Wisdom from My Internet by Michael Z. Williamson 0/10