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The Blatherings Of A Blitherer

The 2014 Hugo Ballot, Some Thoughts


Nesko got this awesome new job that, while challenging, also pays him literally like twice what he was making at his previous job plus we have medical benefits. Which means I can finally get some mouth stuff taken care of (including a bone infection I’ve had for over a year HA HA FUN HOW AM I STILL ALIVE) and also we have some spare scratch to do fun stuff like repaint Niko’s room (so cute!) and buy a voting membership to LONCON. I’d wanted to join previously but we couldn’t afford it, and the biggest way I was able to convince Nesko to pop for it this year was that “The Wheel Of Time” is up for consideration as a complete work which means that the ENTIRE SERIES is included in the voting packet and purchasing the electronic versions of each book individually would cost more than the membership. That went a long way toward convincing him. So we signed up, I got the voting packet, and I’ve been plowing through the material.

There’s been three things about this years’ Hugos that a lot of people are talking about.

The most minor thing is that one of the publishers is only including excerpts of novels (they had three that made the nomination cut) and not the entire novel. One of those novels I bought as soon as I heard that, because I’d been wanting to anyway. Then I bought Anne Leckie’s novel because I’d heard amazing things about it and it was $1.99. That leaves the third novel which I am going to see if I like from the excerpt and may purchase or may just judge based on the excerpt. As many people have pointed out, it’s easier to track down a free version of a novel than a short story, novella, or novelette. If it’s good enough and popular enough to be a successful nomination, then you can probably get it from a friend or the library. The voting packet is a favor and a perk, not something a voter is entitled to. Hugo voters pay for the privilege of voting, not getting a bunch of free books and stuff. I really hope these three authors aren’t hurt by their publisher’s choice, especially as they are up against freaking WHEEL OF TIME but hey.

Another relatively minor thing, touched on above, is that WHEEL OF FREAKING TIME, a F O U R T E E N novel series, is up for consideration as a whole work. For people like Nesko, that’s going be weighted based on nostalgia alone, and also perhaps pity because Jordan died while working on it and his wife has been BUSTING ASS to keep his dream alive and get the series properly finished and published. And apparently Brandon Sanderson (the new author) is a really stand up guy. So a lot of long term voters/members are discussing how to properly and appropriately and fairly change the rules to create a new category or prevent this from happening against because COME ON, fourteen books, helllllllll.

The more major thing is that Larry Correia put together a list for “the sad puppies,” authors whose WELL DESERVING AND TOTES AWESOME!!!! works never win Hugos because the gosh darn liberal feminazi jack booted socialist communist thugs are KEEPING THEM DOWN. One of the first and foremost on his list is Vox Day, the only person to be kicked out of the SFWA (for using official SFWA platforms to spread misogynist bullshit), who famously referred to N. K. Jemison as “a savage.” He is intensely racist and sexist and homophobic and very emblematic of certain old guard SFF who want all these Black people and women and assorted scumbags to get off their lawn and never write again because ew who cares about anything but straight white men over the age of 35. Correia was pretty successful with over half his suggestions getting on the final ballot. A whole lot of people have been speaking out against his actions, urging his fans who wouldn’t otherwise buy LONCON memberships last year to do so so they could nominate these works. A WHOLE LOT of people have been speaking out against his personal politics, and even more so against Vox Day. An awful lot of folks have been complaining that the Hugos are nothing more than a popularity contest.

Well, duh.

Personally, I have no issue with someone advocating, hard, for a creator or group of creators. There is nothing inherently wrong with that. Some folks have been alleging that Correia and/or Day personally invested a bunch of money in buying “fake” Loncon accounts simply to nominate and then vote. This sounds… farfetched. Not impossible, but farfetched. And I want to point out that when Mark Oshiro and his fans pooled money to buy Loncon memberships to vote in the Hugo awards, and had specific slate of people to vote for, nobody (that I’m aware of) objected to that. It was just fans being fans. (It’s also what REALLY got me interested in voting in the Hugos, btw) Is it because Oshiro is a passionate fan while Correia and Day are professional writers? Is it because Oshiro is a gay Latino raised by an Asian family who speaks out about homophobia, domestic violence, misogyny, etc while Correia and Day are deeply invested in the status quo of white heterosexual men ruling the world? I do not know. I also don’t really care, when it comes down to it.

I don’t think Correia’s slate of nominations, that him urging his fans to get a membership and vote, was a bad thing.

But I do think that every single work I’ve ready by someone who he’s nominated has been… mediocre at best and pretty dismissive toward women. And I know that I’m not going to read Correia’s work or Day’s work, because I know that the entire time I read it I’ll be braced for something casual and ugly to come out and I’m tired of reading and waiting for the casual ugliness.

Years ago, someone asked Seanan McGuire when her female characters would be raped. Not IF they would be raped, but WHEN, because the idea, the very common idea, is that rape is something that happens to women to motivate them/males in their lives. It’s just a thing that happens. Like sunburn. Like the common cold. Can’t avoid it. It’s both utterly routine and also the worst thing in the entire world worse than death. And she responded that her female characters would not ever be raped, that she would not write rape. And I started getting REALLY interested in reading her stuff. And I picked up her “Toby Daye” series and I liked it, and during one of the books Toby’s in a really tight situation and being menaced aggressively, emotionally and physically, by a much larger man. And I realized that I didn’t need to worry that she was going to be raped. And an invisible weight, one that I didn’t know I was carrying around, rolled off my shoulders. I pick up McGuire’s (she also writes as Mira Grant) works and I read them and there’s a freedom I feel as I read them. I hadn’t realized until I started reading her stuff how much I brace myself for the inevitable rape. It’s incredibly liberating and wonderful not to have to worry about that, not to carry that weight around.

Correia and Day’s work will be the opposite of that. I know that I’ll spend the entire time waiting for a woman character to be raped, or threatened with rape, or some dude will leer at a woman and the protagonist will go five rounds with him because he “failed to respect women” or some bullshit, and the women will be props and excuses and motivations and not characters. I’ll spend the entire time waiting to hear about how Black/Latin@/Asian/their equivalent are inferior to White people, that they’re savages, that non-Christian characters (or whatever the allegorical equivalent is) all deserve to be murdered. And life’s too short for that.

I’m going to review the works included under the Novel, Novella, Novelette, Short Story, and John W. Campbell award sections over the next few days. I’m not really going to touch on Correia’s or Day’s works, and if I didn’t finish something I’ll note that I didn’t and why. (I’ll also note if I’m already a fan of the author, which duh will predispose me to liking their work.)

I’m not going to be voting for best screen play, because I’m unfamiliar with most of the works, or with Best Dramatic Presentation because I don’t really give a fuck about Doctor Who, etc.

One thing I’ve noticed is that I’ve read more male authors than female authors, and the male authors have all been pretty mediocre: poor, lazy writing; shallow characters; cliched tropes that add nothing new; stereotypes galore. The female authors, on the other hand, all have produced sparkling gems of excellent tight writing about the human condition, opening existing tropes to new study, creating characters that I care deeply about. I don’t know if this is just a coincidence and I haven’t hit on the really good male writers yet, if it’s a prime example of women needing to be twice as good to get half the credit, or if it’s the effect of the ballot being larded with Correia’s hand-picked authors who… just aren’t that good but share his politics. I really don’t know. But I formed most of my opinions about these works without knowing the gender of the author.

I also want to note that it was HARD making a decision about Best Fanwriter, and I wish the fiction sections had that level of high quality writing, passion, and interest.

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30 Days of Books: Day 12


Day 12 – A book or series of books you’ve read more than five times

This isn’t really a fair question to ask someone like me, because I re-read books a lot. It’s like sliding into a pair of perfectly broken in jeans or shoes, creeping between the covers of a perfectly made comfy bed on a cold night, snuggling in with a soft blanket. It’s just… comfortable. It’s why I prefer to own books, instead of just check them out of the library. I want them on hand so I can dip into them again and again. I like new stuff, too, but I revisit the old frequently.

What I’ve re-read recently is the first two (only two) books in the Gentleman Bastard series, Sarah Monette’s The Doctrine of Labyrinths and Bone Key, The Dark is Rising series, the Damar books, Ellen Kushner’s stuff, Delia Sherman’s stuff, and Sense and Sensibility.

Lest you think I dwell too much on books already read, instead of moving forth and consuming recent books, I will remind you that I read very, very quickly. I read The Hunger Games literally in one day. Granted, it’s YA and not, say, A Feast for Crows (much longer, more going on, an appendix for people and places). But still. I read quickly.

What are some of the books YOU revisit time and again?

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