Friday, April 24, 2015

Spring

We are having spring here. The grass is green. The trees are leafing out. I have seen flowers, and I am hearing new bird calls. Migratory birds are back, birds that warble and trill rather than going "chirp, chirp, chirp" like English sparrows.

It snowed a couple of days ago, but there was no accumulation.

The reading at Dreamhaven went well. All the chairs were filled, and I sold some books. Ruth Berman gave me a ride home, which was wonderful, and I am very grateful.

More About the Hugo Hooroosh

From facebook:

I was reading George Martin's Not a Blog and noticed something. Larry Correia was up for a Campbell Award for best new writer in 2011. He didn't get it and -- per him -- at a bad time at Worldcon. Brad Torgerson was up for a Campbell and a Hugo in 2012 and got neither. But you are only eligible for a Campbell for two years after you first publish. It looks as if both these guys had fast and very promising starts to their careers. (A Campbell is not chopped liver. Being up for a Hugo a year or two after you first publish is not so bad. In addition, Correia was on the New York Times bestseller list in 2011.) This is Puppy # 3 this year, which means Puppy #1 was in 2013. Okay, two years after not getting the Campbell, Correia began an attack on the Hugos, because he felt the selection process was unfair. I don't know if Torgerson joined Puppydom in its first year or a year later. In either case, he was campaigning against the Hugo a year or two after he was first up for the Campbell and Hugo. This seems to show a huge impatience. It wasn't as if these guys watched the Hugo process for ten or twenty years and decided it was unfair. They decided this almost as soon as they were published.

I have been a Hugo nominee once, 25 years after I was first published. When I got the Tiptree Award, almost 20 years after I was first published, people assumed it was for my first novel. No, I'd had three novels previously published, but they more or less sank like stones. It was frustrating and angering and depressing to work for 20 years before I got much attention. Did I think the award system was fixed? Not that I can remember. I thought life was unfair. Looking back, I think I didn't write enough and my writing wasn't a kind that got quick attention. Point is, Correia and Torgerson came into the field, were noticed at once, and decided this notice was not enough, because they didn't win the Campbell and (in Torgerson's case) the Hugo. The award system must be crooked.

I realize my description of my career sounds like a whine. Whining is not bad, now and then. Trying to destroy the Hugos is not good.

What I notice is how hard people work in order to succeed, and I also notice that many people work equally hard and write well and don't pile up money and awards. I think someone should have taken Correia and Torgerson aside and told them writing is a very difficult line of work and maybe they should get MBAs.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Facebook Comment

I am mining facebook again, since I make a lot of comments there. This is in response to post-apocalypse stories that seem overly cozy. The one being discussed (one I don't know) was described as so beautifully crafted that it made the ruined world seem tidy.
I read SF as a kid, because it was about the real world, which included nuclear holocaust and McCarthyite witch hunts. I guess one of the appeals of good SF is horror and despair, and the roughness of SF, the lack of polished style, may have contributed to a sense of reality. Would you polish your sentences, if you were dying of radiation sickness? --I don't like genre horror, maybe because the horrors in horror are not usually real ones. But since I don't like genre horror, I haven't read enough to be sure why I dislike it.

Affirmative Action

I got ticked off at a facebook comment that said white writers don't write about PoC. This made me write a rant about how I have been writing about PoC, GLBT people and women for something like 40-50 years. I am an effing affirmative action policy with a keyboard. However, this essay is better than the rant.

I don't mind white writers blaming themselves for not being diverse enough. I don't mind white readers blaming themselves for not searching out diverse writing, which does exist and is not that hard to find. I mind people making sweeping generalizations that blame ME. No. I've been doing my part. Now you do yours. Less blame. More action.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

READING


I am doing a reading at Dreamhaven books on Wednesday, April 22nd. The time is 6:30 pm. The address is 2301 East 38th Street, Minneapolis. I wouldn't mind some company.

I'll be reading from the new collection, Hidden Folk, of course. I plan to read "The Puffin Hunter," which is my current favorite of the stories. It really is nifty.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

The Hugos (Of Course)

I spent the past weekend at Minicon. I had four panels spread over four days, so I stayed at the con hotel, which is in the middle of a suburban wasteland. Since I did not have a car, that meant I was trapped. It was too long a period. I alternated between being hyper, due to a lot of input, and crashing in my hotel room thinking dark thoughts about life.

This is the problem with going to a 1,000 person con if you are an introvert.

I got back home exhausted and discovered the Hugo Award nominations had been gamed. In case you don't know, two groups of right-wing writers (the Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies) put together slates and organized their followers to (a) buy supporting memberships to the World Science Fiction Convention and (b) nominate only the names on the slates. This gave each of the Puppy candidates a block, and they won many places on the final Hugo ballot.

(The Hugo is selected by members of the World Science Fiction Convention. It's the fan award for SFF. Many readers of SFF don't to Worldcon and don't buy supporting memberships, but the Hugo is the best we have as a popular award given by readers. As a rule, only a few of the Worldcon's members nominate, which makes the nomination process easy to game. Many more people vote on the final ballot.)

It is not against the Hugo rules to block vote, but it's against tradition and unfair to the writers actually liked by the con attendees. Some good writing did not make the final ballot, kept off the Sad and Rabid Puppies.

The Rabid Puppies apparently solicited GamerGate folk to help in this process. If you recall, the GamerGaters are the people who threaten to rape and murder women in order to drive them out of gaming. One female game designer moved out of her house on the advice of the police.

For more details, see this. In addition, here is a post by long-time SFF editor Patrick Neilsen Hayden. And here is writer Charles Stross's take on the situation.

John Scalzi, among many others, has suggested a response: the rest of us should get supporting memberships and vote for the people on the ballot who are not Puppies, then vote "No Award." The Hugo use an Australian ballot or instant runoff. If enough people do not list the Puppy candidates at all, then the non-Puppies or No Award will win. A lot of people are buying Worldcon supporting memberships at the moment.

I figure this is the best solution for this year. The Worldcon con committee will have to figure out how to handle the awards ceremony, and the Worldcon rules committee will have to take a look at nominating and voting rules. But I am on neither.

While I put together this informational post, I did some Googling. There are some really nasty people on the Internet, and some of them are Puppies. I think this is a serious situation. People who threaten to throw acid, rape and kill should not be ignored.

Anyway, I am back from Minicon.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Weather

It's overcast today, but the last few days have been clear and warm, with a cloudless blue sky. This is April weather a month early.

Today

Today is the Ides of March, I just realized. Yesterday was Pi Day, which friends celebrated with pies. And Terry Pratchett died 3 days ago, after suffering from a form of early dementia for several years. He was 66, too early to go.

He was a wonderful writer, someone I read for comfort, because his books are funny and charming and sane and well written, and he was the master of the fiction footnote. His footnotes don't work in e-versions of his novels, because they are put at the back of the book. They need to be at the bottom of the page, because they are part of the story. They are a great way to add information and comments that are too tangential to be in the text, except maybe enclosed in parentheses.

Anyway, a lovely writer and a loss to humanity.

SFF and LIterary Writing

The following is in response to an essay in Esquire, "How Genre Fiction Became More Important Than Literary Fiction."

First, a passage from the essay:
"The landscape of realism has narrowed. If you think of the straight literary novels of the past decade—The Marriage Plot, The Interestings, The Art of Fielding, Freedom—they often deal with stories and characters from a very particular economic and social position. Realism, as a literary project, has taken as its principle subject the minute social struggles of people who have graduated mainly from Ivy League schools."

Then my comments:
Decades ago I was reading the novels of Alice Adams and Laurie Colwin. They are both good writers in a New Yorker way. At a certain point, I think while reading Colwin, I realized I was reading about the emotional problems of people with trust funds. So I went back to science fiction.

I suppose I could see the current literary situation as the triumph of science fiction, with all these elite literary writers pillaging SFF for ideas. I don't like it, though I have no trouble with the triumph of SFF in popular culture. I suppose I ought to see a therapist re my dislike of the American upper middle class and their art. I want them to keep their sticky fingers off my beloved space ships and trolls.

What I remember about Adams at this distance in time was -- her writing had some tics that bothered me. She began too many sentences and paragraphs with 'and.' If the 'and' is actually needed, use a semi-colon instead of beginning a new sentence. Most of the time, it wasn't needed. It was there to make the style sound smoother. No. Never use words that are not needed.

Come to think of it, my ideas of style are probably shaped -- at least in part -- by the Icelandic sagas, which have a very spare style. Though they have a couple of interesting tics of their own. The sagas love prepositions, as do Minnesotans. Why say 'take hold' when you can say 'take hold of?' And like Minnesotans, the saga writers use a lot of pointer words. I don't know what the right term for these are. Words like 'there' and'then.' 'That's a nice car (or sword) you have there.' 'So how did you like the concert (or battle) then?'
I need to set myself a test. How long can I go without mentioning Iceland or the Icelandic sagas? How long can I go without mentioning my own writing?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Old Venus


I have a story in the anthology, which is why I'm posting this. I have read a review, and it genuinely sounds like a good group of stories by an impressive group of writers. I always like being in good company.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Re the story "Moby Quilt"


This is a reply to Timothy, who commented that he liked"Moby Quilt."

"Quilt" is the fourth Lydia Duluth story. All four have been published. The first, "Stellar Harvest," was a Hugo finalist and maybe a Nebula finalist. I no longer remember. Anyway, it's in one of the Nebula Awards collections, edited by Kim Stanley Robinson. In addition, there are three stories set in the Lydia Duluth universe, but not about Lydia Duluth. All of these have been published. One, "Knapsack Poems," was a Nebula finalist and has been reprinted several times.

There are three more unpublished Lydia Duluth stories, which I'd like to get out to editors in the next month or so.

The final plan is a collection titled The Adventures of Lydia Duluth, which would include all ten stories. But first I have to get the hwarhath collection out.