Tag Archives: Fan Writer

Hugos 2017, part 2

Best Graphic Story

Best Editor: Short Form

Best Editor: Long Form

Best Professional Artist

Best Semiprozine

Best Fanzine

Best Fancast

Best Fan Writer

Best Fan Artist

Best Series

The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer

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Laura J. Mixon & Wrapping Up the Fan Writer Category

Category: Best Fan Writer
Blogs on: Laura J. Mixon
Slates: None

It took me a while to decide whether I would vote for Laura J. Mixon in the Fan Writer category.

It’s clear that her Requires Hate / Benjanun Sriduangkaew report is an enormous service to the fan community and required a fair deal of hard work. On the other hand, people like Abigail Nussbaum and Kate Nepveau have made a case for voting for No Award and I find some of their reasoning convincing as well (not all of it, though, maybe not even most of it).

On the third hand, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz (a post here + comments here), among others, has disagreed with Nussbaum with pretty convincing reasons of her own. Mixon has also written a series of followup posts. On yet another hand, awarding the report with a rocket for Best Related Work would have made more sense than awarding Laura J. Mixon with a rocket for being the Best SFF Fan Writer in 2014 which I don’t necessarily think she is, even though the report itself is valuable.

So, what should someone like me — who is most definitely not member of the underprivileged ethnic/cultural/whatever communities that are most affected by the things the report details — do? Not voting at all and letting others decide would maybe work on another year, but that’s another bad choice now that there are Vox Day’s troll hordes pushing for anti-feminist rant bloggers in this category and I have to register my wish to not give them an award in any case.

After some thought, my ballot looks like this:

  1. Laura J. Mixon
  2. Jeffro Johnson (6/10)
  3. No Award
  4. Cedar Sanderson (3/10)
  5. Dave Freer (1.5/10)
  6. Amanda S. Green (1/10)

Sure enough, Jeffro Johnson seems to be an uncritical sidekick of Vox Day, but I think his work that was included in the Hugo voter packet was reasonably good. That makes him stand apart from all other (save one) Puppy nominees in writing categories, who are going below No Award.

Edit 29/7/2015: Added some links to Mixon’s blog posts that should have been there.

Jeffro “GURPS-disadvantaged people ruin SFF” Johnson

Category: Fan Writer
Blogs on: Jeffro’s Space Gaming Blog & Vox Day’s Castalia House
Slates: Rabid Puppies & Sad Puppies

Reading Jeffro Johnson was an interesting and even SFFnal experience. I mean, one of the most enjoyable aspects of science fiction and fantasy is that it has the capacity to offer alien experiences and viewpoints.

Most likely I disagree with Jeffro Johnson on a wide range of topics, but unlike the three Mad Genius Club bloggers who are competing with him for the Best Fan Writer Hugo, Johnson makes a better job at explaining his views. He is also mainly interested in science fiction and fantasy instead of waging a culture war against “social justice warriors” which is more than a welcome change after wading through the polemics of Dave Freer, Cedar Sanderson and Amanda S. Green.

The most striking thing that put me into pondering mode was actually only an offhand remark about George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones. Johnson opined that only “a freak show can result” if you have as story’s protagonists “a bastard, a dwarf, a cripple” et cetera, and it is this feature that makes Martin’s epic message fiction.

For me, that’s very alien (and thus fascinating) logic. I always thought that having characters “with the equivalent of a hundred points or more in GURPS disadvantages” makes the Song of Ice and Fire world more realistic and enjoyable. Every living person I know is a constellation of unique disadvantage points if you want to use those terms. Martin manages to bring that real-life complexity to fantasy and renders much of the epic fantasy that came before him unbearably obsolete as far as the characters are concerned.

There are other aspects in his work that one can certainly object to, but I consider characters one of the strengths of Song of Ice and Fire. Johnson disagrees and is disappointed when, for example, “a rather touching origin story” is given to a repugnant character (The Hound, in this case). Conversely, I have always had trouble with suspending disbelief when people seem to already be chaotic evil when they emerge from their mothers’ wombs, so to speak.

So, in general, Johnson and I like different kinds of stories (he likes, God forbid, Rzasa’s “Turncoat”). However, he manages to enthuse about the exact same part of Zelazny’s Nine Princes in Amber that I found most compelling: the protagonist blinded and being thrown into jail for years (and the emotional significance of cigarettes). It was nice to notice some details such as that.

Too bad Johnson’s main focus is on role playing games — which is a field I’m not terribly interested in and have no clue as to whether his insights are revolutionary or not — and being nostalgic in a way that dismisses most modern SFF. Still, it’s a nice read and he may be able to beat No Award if I’m in a good mood when I send my votes in.

Score: 6/10

Cedar “Go Buy A Shooter Bimbo Shirt” Sanderson

It’s time to get back to reading Hugo finalists and ignoring the Gallogate and anti-Tor e-mailstravaganza mess that I wrote about yesterday and commented on in a couple of places. I doubt there’s anything more I can do on that front than voice my opinions and hope for the best (that is, Tor and Macmillan shrugging and getting back to whatever they were doing).

A few people were pissed off and tried to convince me I was wrong. Some of them, such as Jared Anjewierden and Cedar Sanderson had, I think, something worthwhile to say, too.

Cedar Sanderson is also one of the Hugo Fan Writer finalists, and, as fate would have it, she’s next on my list.

Category: Fan Writer
Blogs on: Mad Genius Club & Cedar Writes
Slates: Rabid Puppies & Sad Puppies

Cedar Sanderson is the third member of the Mad Genius Club in this category, and she has produced what is probably the single best blog post in the voters packet I’ve read so far that has actually something do with SFF. In it, she ponders the shortcomings of generic fantasy on the lines of Diana Wynne Jones’ Tough Guide to Fantasyland which is a book I should probably read sometime. The text would be stronger if Sanderson had gone into specifics and given some more concrete examples of bad fantasy, but it’s not bad as is.

The other texts are standard Mad Genius Club fare: an anti-feminist manifesto with babble about minorities-du-jour, a post about (other people’s) confirmation bias and a defence of ESA astrophysicist Matt Taylor who infamously gave an interview wearing what Wikipedia calls “a shirt depicting scantily-clad cartoon women with firearms”. Sanderson tells us she bought two in solidarity with Taylor. “Who will stand with me for individuality, and freedom of expression?” she asks in the post, while now six months later her opinion seems to be that freedom of expression doesn’t necessarily apply to people employed by Tor.

As in all feminism-related stuff coming from the Puppy candidates, it’s bewildering how hard it is for them to imagine that maybe, just maybe, the things Sanderson reports — female writers not taken seriously, few women in science etc. — are actually produced by norms of the society, cultural practices and the like, not by some magical essentialist female-ness. Well, to be fair, she lays the blame for female writers’ problems also on the feminists’ doorstep. You see, male readers get suspicious with strong female characters and don’t read books that feature them because message fiction has made them mistrust such protagonists. Sigh.

Score: 3/10.

Dave “Cool Beard but Incoherent Rants” Freer

Category: Fan Writer
Blogs on: Mad Genius Club
Slates: Sad Puppies

Dave Freer has an awesome beard of Alan Moore caliber. Actually, they look quite a bit alike. I just hope that the anarchist comics genius hasn’t lost his mind, turned conservative and moved to Australia. (On the other hand, that would perhaps be not so unlogical conclusion to what Moore has been onto recently with the snake gods and magic business.)

Okay, let’s start with something positive: Freer has managed to include in the Hugo package one blog post that is actually about SFF books and in which the acronym SJW is mentioned (in the comments) only once. Well done!

Freer seems passionate, and I do like passionate people. Too bad he’s passionate about things I find reprehensible, such as defending sexism with this incoherent rant which consists of satire quotes of nobody knows what and run-of-the-mill anti-feminist bullshit that never stops to make an understandable point. The post is turbocharged with obscure references to cases of supposed “misandry” I may not be familiar with. However, after reading the post, I wasn’t inclined to do any research.

In another post, Freer rambles about the Puppies’ favorite subject: why so few conservative writers and so many leftist ones do so well in the Hugos. The allegation is arguably false, but even if it wasn’t, the lengthy post fails on logic due to its being built on the nonsense premise that science fiction writers’ political views are distributed on a Gaussian curve. Which they are of course not. But even IF they were, and the distribution of left/center/right was roughly 15%/70%/15% as Freer assumes (and the ifs are starting to stack up quickly here), you can’t decipher who individual writers are going to be among the leftmost 15 percent and who are not. As far as I can see, Freer lumps into that category people like John Scalzi who don’t have a single socialist bone in their bodies while ignoring the fact that — as Eric Flint points out — actual left wing authors, such as himself, Mercedes Lackey and Steven Brust, are continually passed over. So, Freer’s tedious math doesn’t really add up there.

In his last gem of blog wisdom, Freer assures how constructive force he and the other Mad Genius Club members are in modern SFF. That’s nice to hear, of course. Freer states:

Admittedly, as people who love books, support writers… we do get snarky in some posts with people and groups who are trashing a genre we love. But that’s here. We do not call for boycotts, or for individuals to hounded, persecuted and harassed. We regard organizing anonymous lynch mobs and pile-ons for the enforcement of our ‘group-think’ as utter anathema.

His denunciation of boycotts and lynch mobs is quite hilarious if we check what he wrote last Monday. Now he urges his readers to swamp the email box of somebody at Tor with angry emails and is calling for a boycott unless something is done to an art director he disagrees with about Sad and Rabid Puppies. Oh, the irony.

Score: 1.5/10

Amanda S. Green Question Time

Category: Fan Writer
Blogs on: Mad Genius Club, as well as her own blog Nocturnal Lives
Slates: Rabid Puppies & Sad Puppies

This year’s slate-hijacked Hugo ballot asks all voters a number of intriguing questions. Such as: Do you want to award a fan writer whose highlights for the last year (selected by herself) include an irratated defence of a Breitbart article on GamerGate — in which Milo Yiannopoulos spreads some quite blatant lies about female game developers and opines that women just shouldn’t mind when they receive death and rape threats or when their home addresses are leaked online? Amanda S. Green’s reasoning is that because she is able to mention three videogames that feature playable female characters (Mass Effect, Skyrim and Borderlands), there is, in fact, no sexism in the gaming industry.

Second question: How about her post that argues against breaking the canon — is it worthy of a Hugo? She makes a vague case against David Mack’s tie-in novel Star Trek Vanguard: Harbinger, even though she fails to explicitly mention the book she’s criticizing. Some bigoted readers were having a hard time with Mack’s novel because apparently there’s some homosexual romance (The horror! The horror!), and Green is ready to speak up for people who don’t feel that having a Klingon-Vulcan affair is kosher. “Now gather around children and listen closely,” she begins and delivers a lengthy rant about how the author he refuses to name has broken the canon and it’s terrible. Too bad she seems to have been mistaken about most of the things she writes about the novel. David Mack has written an in-depth point-by-point takedown of Green’s post and it is rather enjoyable, even though I don’t really care about the Star Trek franchise. It’s quite obvious she didn’t trouble herself with reading the book in question at all before coming to the conclusion that it’s social justice bullshit.

Third question: Is Green going to be saved by the multi-target post in which she attacks the all-female Nebulas, the disinviting of Archon Fan Guest of Honor Tim Bolgeo because of some racist jokes in his fanzine (that’s on the Hugo ballot this year, by the way) and some bad con arrangements that self-published/indie authors had to suffer somewhere? To say something poisitive in this post, there were a couple of marginally interesting points in the last bit, actually, but then she goes back to slamming SJWs and GHHers (what’s a GHHer?) in the end.

Fourth question: Does stating the fact that it may not be a good idea to change your story’s genre in the middle of a book series — that’s what the last post is about — help her regain some sympathies that were lost with the previous posts?

Here is my set of answers:

  1. No.
  2. No.
  3. No.
  4. No.

Score: 1/10