chris_gerrib: (Default)
"Learn Your Craft," or how to show one's ass in public.

I was at a neighborhood restaurant over the weekend, and the lady near me ordered Oysters Rockefeller. They were served with Tabasco sauce, as per the menu. The lady found this highly unacceptable, a manager was called, and when Hollandaise sauce or an (in the mind of the customer) substitute was not immediately available our customer told the manager to "learn your craft."

To the great relief of all concerned, the customer left shortly thereafter. There are times and places where getting in high dungeon over a meal in a restaurant is appropriate. When a menu item is served in a timely manner and exactly as described on the menu is not such an occasion.


So, I got some fiction writing done today. I added a new scene in which we get some backstory about a major character and some unanswered questions. Go me!


I have cast my final votes for all Hugo categories I care to vote in. I'm not a graphic novel guy, so I didn't vote there, and I had no opinions on the fan artist, so no votes.


May. 30th, 2017 08:44 am
chris_gerrib: (Default)
For budgetary reasons, I did not go to ConQuest in Kansas City this year. (NASFIC will cost twice as much as ConQuest.) Thus, I went downstate for my Memorial Day weekend and visited the parents. It proved a very relaxing weekend, and I'm glad I did.

Last night, I read the Hugo short story nominations for this year. Yea gods and little fishes was the John C. Wright offering bad! As per Sad Puppies Central Command best practices, Wright took a collection of right-wing strawmen, dialed them up to 15, and used them to beat the reader vigorously about the head and shoulders. I'm sure he thought he was clever in casting himself as the boogeyman and a nubile naked "girl" as the heroine, but I found that in particular and the story in general as the failure mode of clever.

I found the Jemisin story a bit too opaque, and have no strong opinions either way on the Wong. The other three I felt were pretty strong contenders. In the novel category, I haven't read three of the six (Jemisin, Anders and Chambers) and bounced hard off of the Palmer. It looks like I've got my work cut out for me.
chris_gerrib: (Pirates of Mars)
Nominations for the 2016 Hugo Awards are now being accepted. Thanks to me (and others) sitting in two years of business meetings, there will be six finalists in each category. Thanks to the sitting Worldcon committee, we will be able to vote on the proposed "Best Series" Hugo.

Herewith are my eligible works:

Best Novel

Definitely eligible: The Night Watch, book 3 of my Pirates Series.

Arguably eligible: The Mars Run. It was originally released in 2008 but extensively reworked for 2016. If we get hit by an asteroid the book gets nominated, I'll let the Hugo Administrator make the call. If given a choice between this and The Night Watch, I will withdraw The Mars Run.

I am not eligible for Best Series, as the total word-count for my three books is 180,000, under the 240,000 word cap.

Fan Writer

I suppose this blog makes me eligible for Fan Writer. It's your call.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
A couple of thoughts on the occasion of going back to work after Labor Day.

Thought #1 - Dragon Awards

The Dragon Awards were announced over the weekend. Congratulations to the winners listed here. The list is not whom I would have picked, but it's not the first or the last time somebody wins an award I didn't agree with. (Ask me about Hugo-winner The Windup Girl.)

Thought #2 - Why Labor Day

In most of the world, the holiday for labor is May 1. We celebrate Labor Day in September because the Communists had claimed May 1.

Thought #3 - A Good Book

I was a member of the Kickstarter for the new anthology Alien Artifacts. I read my copy over the weekend and enjoyed it immensely. I highly recommend you getting a copy.

chris_gerrib: (Me 2)

1) Nicholas Whyte, the Hugo administrator for Worldcon 75, has a very cogent analysis of last year's Hugo results had all the new rules been in effect. The combination of EPH and 5 and 6 seem to result in a much better ballot.

2) At Wright's House of Wrong, Mr. Wright goes off on (what is for him a short) rant on the poor quality of recent Hugo nominations. My reply:
Mr. Wright: your editor, deliberately and with malice aforethought, loaded the short fiction categories with as much crap as he could. The only reason any award was given in short fiction is because Thomas A. Mays withdrew. As per his statement at the time, he withdrew because of the ballot-loading.

In short, sir, your complaint about the poor quality of Hugo-winners is rather like a man killing his parents and then asking for mercy from the judge because he's an orphan.

ETA: Mr. Wright's response to the above was to call me a jackass in one comment and in a second comment [wallowing] "in the filthy sewer of your sickening dishonesty, still have the gall to address an honest man, much less upbraid him as if I, and not you, have done something wrong."

I'm never in doubt where I stand in his regard.


Via Wikipedia, the Siege of Sidney Street. In January 1911, two crooks holed up in a building in Sidney Street, and the London police had to call in the Army for help. A young Home Secretary, one Winston Churchill, a born micro-manager, ended up on-scene and on camera in one of the earliest newsreels. Really quite interesting.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
More thoughts on The Con That Was:

1) I drove to this con. It's an 8-hour drive, but driving is cheaper than flying, even when paying $24/day parking. Having said that, if I drive again, I'm definitely taking I-80 through Des Moines. Mapquest had routed me via I-72 and US-36. Those roads are fine, but desolate, with little in the way of services. That's not surprising, since I-72 in Illinois runs through Pike and Scott counties - the later being the 4th least-populated county in Illinois.

2) I was amazed at the number of Big Name Writers (Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle) who seem completely incapable of using a microphone. During a conversation with Mary Robinette Kowal, voice actor and writer, she stated that at the SFWA business meeting she took a moment of personal privilege and held a quick course on the use of a microphone.

3) Based on a glancing analysis of the Hugo Award stats (PDF), it appears that Wile E. Coyote's Vox Day's minion count is down - around 150 or so of his little buddies paid to vote. This is less than half ~400 who voted to nominate. Apparently paying $40 for two years running was a stretch.

4) The Sans won - San Juan for NASFIC and San Jose for Worldcon 2018. I'd like to go to San Juan (Tobias Buckell is Guest of Honor) but that will make 2017 a damned expensive travel year.

5) Not con-related, but a nice interview of me by Ellie Maloney. Worth a read, if I do say so myself.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
Comes news at MidameriCon II they revoked the membership of Dave Truesdale over conduct at a panel. Specifically, he read a prepared speech that had nothing to do with the panel and unnecessarily pissed off a bunch of people. Also comes news today that the con issued a one-day suspension of Mary Robinette Kowal's badge for serving alcohol at a panel in the convention space. I didn't see either event, and I know Mary personally (and have not talked to her about this) but I have thoughts.

Thought #1 - Once Bitten Twice Shy

So, a few months back, Mark Oshiro broke the Internet over KC fandom's head regarding (in part) what happened at a panel. So, once bitten and thus twice shy, one would reasonably expect this con to have a lower tolerance for shenanigans. I'm told Truesdale has enough of an Internet presence to know this. So, in his case, it's rather like somebody making an elaborate sign saying "kick me" and taping it on their back, then getting upset at being kicked.

Thought #2 - New Sheriff in Town

Again as a reaction to past shenanigans, MidAmeriCon felt they needed to step up their enforcement game. They felt they needed a new sheriff, so they got one in the form of Mark Oshiro, deputy on the Incident Response Team. The whole point of getting a new sheriff is that all the stuff the old sheriff overlooked doesn't get overlooked any more. That cuts both ways.

Thought #3 - Response

As usual, Mary's response is thoughtful, classy and appropriate. She broke a rule she didn't know existed, apologized, took her punishment, and moved on. Frankly, were I in her shoes, I would not have been as gracious. I haven't seen a response from Truesdale, but I would be surprised if it were within a country mile of Mary's.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
I don't have a lot to say today, so here's the portion of the DragonCon Awards finalist list that I give a damn about with my vote in italics.

1. Best Science Fiction Novel
Somewhither: A Tale of the Unwitheriing Realm by John C. Wright
Raising Caine by Charles E. Gannon
Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie
Agent of the Imperium by Marc Miller
Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson
The Life Engineered by J-F Dubeau

2. Best Fantasy Novel (Including Paranormal)
The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher
Asteroid Made of Dragons by G. Derek Adams
Son of the Black Sword by Larry Correia
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
Changeling’s Island by Dave Freer
Grave Measures by R.R. Virdi
Blood Hound by James Osiris Baldwin

3. Best Young Adult / Middle Grade Novel
Updraft by Fran Wilde
Steeplejack by A.J. Hartley
Trix and the Faerie Queen by Alethea Kontis
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett
Calamity by Brandon Sanderson
Changeling’s Island by Dave Freer
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

4. Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel
Allies and Enemies: Fallen by Amy J. Murphy
Hell’s Foundations Quiver by David Weber
The Price of Valor by Django Wexler
Wrath of an Angry God: A Military Space Opera by Gibson Michaels
Blood in the Water by Taylor Anderson
Chains of Command by Marko Kloos
The End of All Things by John Scalzi (note: If Scalzi hadn't withdrawn this would be my vote)

5. Best Alternate History Novel
1635: A Parcel of Rogues by Eric Flint & Andrew Dennis
League of Dragons by Naomi Novik
Deadlands: Ghostwalkers by Jonathan Maberry
Bombs Away: The Hot War by Harry Turtledove
Germanica by Robert Conroy
1636: The Cardinal Virtues by Eric Flint & Walter H. Hunt

6. Best Apocalyptic Novel
A Time to Die by Mark Wandrey
Chasing Freedom by Marina Fontaine
The Desert and the Blade by S.M. Stirling
Ctrl Alt Revolt! by Nick Cole
Dark Age by Felix O. Hartmann
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

7. Best Horror Novel
Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Paul Tremblay
Chapelwood by Cherie Priest
Honor at Stake by Declan Finn
An Unattractive Vampire by Jim McDoniel
Souldancer by Brian Niemeier
Alice by Christina Henry

8. Best Comic Book
Ms. Marvel
DC Universe: Rebirth
Civil War II
Astro City

9. Best Graphic Novel

Sacred Heart by Liz Suburbia
The Sandman: Overture by Neil Gaiman
Killing and Dying by Adrian Tomine
Virgil by Steve Orlando
March: Book Two by John Lewis & Andrew Aydin
Chicago by Glenn Head

10. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series
Jessica Jones – Netflix
The Flash – CW
Daredevil – Netflix
Game of Thrones – HBO
The Expanse – Syfy
Doctor Who – BBC
Outlander – Starz

11. Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie

Crimson Peak
Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens
Captain America: Civil War
The Martian
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
Herewith are my thoughts on the Hugo Awards for novels and novellas.


Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie (Orbit)
The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher (Roc)
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)
Seveneves: A Novel by Neal Stephenson (William Morrow)
Uprooted by Naomi Novik (Del Rey)

I read and nominated Seveneves and Ancillary Mercy, so I have a bias. I was completely unable to get into The Fifth Season, and found the excerpts provided of the other two novels entertaining. I thought Uprooted was an original take on fantasy, and Cinder Spires had promise as a steampunk / post-apocalyptic novel. My vote:

1) Seveneves
2) Uprooted
3) Ancillary Mercy
4) Cinder Spires
5) Fifth Season


Binti by Nnedi Okorafor (
The Builders by Daniel Polansky (
Penric’s Demon by Lois McMaster Bujold (Spectrum)
Perfect State by Brandon Sanderson (Dragonsteel Entertainment)
Slow Bullets by Alastair Reynolds (Tachyon)

I bounced hard off of The Builders - no talking mice for me. I also found Perfect State impenetrable, which is a shame as I've met and like Brandon. I'm not no-awarding them, but I am leaving them off the ballot. Binti and Slow Bullets were (to me) novel, and Penric was entertaining but bog-standard. So my (short) ballot will be:

1) Binti
2) Slow Bullets
3) Penric's Demon
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
Herewith my list of Hugo-eligible novels read:

The Ark: Children of a Dead Earth - Patrick S. Tomlinson (author Campbell-eligible)
Planetfall - Emma Newman
Windswept - Adam Rakunas (author NOT Campbell-eligible)
Raising Cain - Chuck Gannon
Chapelwood: The Borden Dispatches - Cherie Priest
SevenEves - Neal Stephenson
Linesman - S. K. Dunstall
The Dangerous Type - Loren Rhodes
Solomon's Arrow - J. Dalton Jennings (a definite no, listed for completeness sake)
Ghost Fleet - P. W. Singer
Ancillary Mercy - Ann Leckie
The Lost Fleet Beyond the Frontier: Leviathan - Jack Campbell
The Dark Forest - Cixin Liu
Nemesis Games: The Expanse - James S. A. Corey (actually haven't read this one yet)
Tin Star - Cecil Castellucci
Unbreakable - W. C. Bauers
There Will Be War Vol 10 - Jerry Pournelle, editor
Barsk: The Elephant's Graveyard - Lawrence M. Schoen
Jupiter Justice - Donald J. Hunt
Belt Three - John Ayliff
Karen Memory - Elizabeth Bear

Tentative ballot:
Karen Memory - Elizabeth Bear
Nemesis Games: The Expanse - James S. A. Corey (I'm reading this next)
Raising Cain - Chuck Gannon
The Ark: Children of a Dead Earth - Patrick S. Tomlinson
Windswept - Adam Rakunas (author NOT Campbell-eligible)
Ancillary Mercy - Ann Leckie (if the Corey isn't as strong as I think it will be.)
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
I've heard a lot of Hugo buzz regarding Emma Newman's novel Planetfall. I recently read it and found it terribly disappointing. Without giving too much away, here's why I didn't like it.

1) Our intrepid astronauts have arrived at an alien planet, and settled at the base of what's clearly an alien organism or colony of same, yet they call the organism the "city of God." Huh?

2) Our intrepid astronauts, when traveling to said alien and uncharted planet, brought exactly one (1) gun - a small pistol illicitly smuggled. Sorry, when *I* travel to an alien planet, I'm bringing a rifle, in case some of the local fauna follow a "bite first, see if it's digestible later" eating strategy.

3) Lastly, the key to the plot is a handful of colonists decide to play let's keep a secret with the bulk of the group. Besides the fact that these things rarely end well, I didn't see a compelling reason for keeping the secret in the first place.

Now, the novel does some things well. The narrator is mentally ill (hoarder and compulsive) which is handled well and slowly revealed. I found the general concept (albeit flawed) interesting enough to stick with the book to the end. But overall, it's an idiot plot and not recommended. It will not be on my Hugo list.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
Over my vacation, I consumed a fair number of books. Herewith, links to books and my reviews thereof:

1) An anthology of female-written SF which I enjoyed: The Dark Beyond the Stars. Methinks all stories are Hugo-eligible for 2016.

2) I am very much not a fan of Vox Day, but I am a fan of milSF. There Will Be War Vol X. Vox let Jerry Pournelle edit, so there's only one chapter 5.

3) I met the lovely Holly Messinger at a Kansas City con, and bought her book. The Curse of Jacob Tracy is a great read.

A sadly true piece of snark:

chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
I went downstate for the Labor Day weekend, and much fun was had, including a reunion with my high school class (30 years!).

I did not stay to see the annual Labor Day parade, perhaps fortunately, because at the start of the parade somebody accidentally ran over 9 people watching said parade. None of the injuries were life-threatening, but the parade was delayed for an hour.

In other news, last night I finished The Dark Forest, Book 2 of the "Three Body Problem" trilogy. I'm of mixed opinion on the book, and I'll have more thoughts anon.

Lastly, [ profile] kevin_standlee is on fire regarding the Hugos that were. He notes (and I agree with) that The Hugo-haters Doth Protest Too Much, that a civil society requires good losers and has ideas on Hugo award categories to replace. Good stuff all.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
Various thoughts related to Hugo and Puppies:

1) EPH does not take 76 pages to explain. The entire WSFS business packet was 76 pages, including eight new constitutional amendments, 4 from last year, various committee reports and financial reports from six or seven Worldcons. EPH only took up 3 pages of that.

2) We doubled the number of Hugo voters this year vs. last year. Last year was a doubling from the year before. How the hell many fans does Worldcon need to get to vote before the Puppies consider it valid?

3) Related to the above, Brad, you keep claiming that we should "open the voters to Comic-Con." How do you know that Comic Con would come up with a different result? Did you do a survey of attendees? If so, can we see the results? If not, why is your opinion of that group's voting preferences any better than mine?

4) The story awards are not and never were for "author I'd like to have a beer with." They are for "story that grabbed me by the short hairs and said 'come here, big boy.'" Nothing, not one word in any of your posts has ever defended or explained the merits of the work nominated. You complained that tie-in novels get no respect, yet didn't nominate a tie-in novel! You want to win a Hugo in a story category, tell me what makes the story good, not what makes the author good or another story bad.

5) I am sad that Sheila Gilbert did not get a Hugo in Editor, Long Form. Regardless, 2,496 of 4,907 voters (50.8%) felt that slate voting needed to be punished. Brad, you brought the slate, you get to take the fall for this. If you steal the Enterprise, when it blows up you own that too.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
The asterisk in the title is in honor of Jim Wright of Stonekettle Station. So, in a previous post, I seconded Jim C. Hines' calls regarding the Hugos.

Here's the results. We were both wrong. I called three for No Award, including Best Fan Writer. The actual number is five, and Fan Writer was awarded to somebody. (No Award went to both Editors, Novella, Best Related and Short Story). Looking at the PDF with details, it's clear that once you get past the noise of the Best Novel, the Puppies had around 500 votes per category, out of over 5,000 per category. They had roughly 10% of the total vote. Even that is a bit optimistic. For example, I voted for both "Big Boys" (which got 504 total 1st round votes) and "Totaled" (874 1st round). So, realistically, the Sad and Rabid Puppies account for no more than but probably less than 10% of the final vote.

Now, in a world in which the Puppies' reality blocking field wasn't turned up to 11, this disastrous showing would persuade them to think that they don't win Hugos because they don't have a majority of the fans behind them. Since said field is at least at 11, I suspect we're in for another round of this nonsense next year. Speaking personally, I was watching the Hugos at a bar surrounded by seven fans who didn't nominate this year. They all to a person said they would nominate next year.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
Jim C. Hines has posted his predictions of the Hugo awards. As I said on his site, either his mind control beam is working great or we're secretly clones (although I got to keep my hair) but I agree strongly with his thoughts. Since I'm still in low-energy mode, rather than list my predictions, I'll merely mention where I differ.

Jim thinks Best Novella will be a No Award, and maybe Best Related. I think both categories are a shoo-in for No Award, and think Best Fan Writer is 75% likely to go No Award. The other categories will get some winner.

Other then that, I'm with Jim. (And yes, if I'm wrong feel free to mock me. It's not like I've got any data to go by.)
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
More thoughts on this year's Hugo.

Best Fan Writer (777 nominating ballots, 265 entries, range 129-201)

Dave Freer
Amanda S. Green
Jeffro Johnson
Laura J. Mixon
Cedar Sanderson

Freer's been an ass to me, and incoherent at length to pretty much everybody, so no rocket for him. Green and Sanderson seem to not like SJWs like me, so I'll return the favor. I'm a bit reluctant to give Mixon the award for an expose. Johnson at least restricts himself to book reviews, so my ballot is Johnson and no award.

Best Fan Artist (296 nominating ballots, 198 entries, range 23-48)

In my order from first to last:
Spring Schoenhuth
Steve Stiles
Ninni Aalto
Elizabeth Leggett
Brad W. Foster

Best Semiprozine (660 nominating ballots, 100 entries, range 94-229)

From 1 to 5:
Strange Horizons
Lightspeed Magazine
Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Andromeda Spaceways In-Flight Magazine
Abyss & Apex

Best Fanzine (576 nominating ballots, 162 entries, range 68-208)

1) Journey Planet
2) Tangent Online SF
3) Elitist Book Reviews
4) No Award
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
I've been reading my Hugo packet. Over the weekend I finished The Goblin Emperor and abandoned all hope of reading The Dark Between the Stars. I'll discuss why and what that means for Hugos below.

My problem with Stars was that I lost track of who was who in the zoo. Nearly every chapter brought new characters, with new conflicts. There were at least three main plot lines opened, and no obvious link between them. Also, I kept feeling that I was missing important bits of back-story, namely the war and relationships between the humans and the aliens.

Now, Goblin Emperor is by no means light reading. It has name issues, in that characters have different names and titles based on marital status and age. Having said that, I found it much less opaque. This was for two reasons - one, Sarah Monette (Addison is an open pen name) kept the point-of-view to one character, who as an outsider needed to have stuff explained to him. Second, the story was not set in a world where there were seven previous books written.

What does this mean for the Hugos? Simple. No matter how popular the nominated novel is, there will be a sizable portion of the Hugo electorate who is reading it for the first time under the gun of having to make a vote. Works that require having "read along" or which are otherwise opaque will have a hard time getting votes. In a normal year, Stars would either be 4th on my ballot or just get left off. Since this is not a normal year, it will be below No Award.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
I am really bouncing hard off of John C. Wright's novellas. For One Bright Star to Guide Them I'm baffled by the attitude to magic. Robertson, our first character, hasn't thought of magic for years, yet the instant he sees a black cat he's all magic!!!! - Then when we visit Richard, he alternates in the same paragraph between "yeah magic, especially if it gets me laid" and "no magic for me, I'm British." Oh, and since when have you described out loud what somebody was wearing to the person wearing it? Sorry, no dice. (Oh, and I checked - somebody on File 770 thinks that Wright forgot the name of one of his characters, and changed it from Sarah to Sally randomly. Not so - she is referred to as both names, but there's no explanation as to why in the story. It would have been better to be consistent.)

For The Plural of Helen of Troy I got five pages into it and found myself wondering who I was supposed to be rooting for and why. I get that Wright was trying for a hard-boiled hero, but for that (or any hero) to work, we need a reason to root for the hero. Kratman did that quite well in Big Boys - I liked Maggie The Tank. I don't like anybody I've met in Troy.

Pale Realms of Shade suffers from a similar problem. I guess I'm supposed to care about Mathias, the ghost, but I'm not told why. Moreover, we spend entirely too much time figuring out that the narrator is a ghost. It's first person, just tell us!

Results - the Andrews is a novel fragment, and the Wrights all have the wrong stuff in them. So my decision is between one-and-done (Kratman then no award) or just no award the whole category.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
I got my Hugo packet last night, and herewith are my thoughts so far:

Best Related

Mike Williamson's Wisdom From My Internet is everything the Amazon preview promised, namely random crap half-assedly puked into book format. Yeah, I get that it was parody, but I'm not amused by it. Antonelli's Letters from Gardner is better (small praise indeed) but seems mostly an excuse for an anthology ETC: collection of Antonelli's short fiction. No Award for the whole category.

Short Story

The one short story I hadn't read was “A Single Samurai” by Steven Diamond. I read it, more-or-less, and bounced off of it hard. It will not be getting a Hugo from me.


Big Boys Don’t Cry by Tom Kratman proved interesting. It starts as Yet Another Gung-ho Blow Shit Up Real Good story, but turns subversive. Our heroine tank, Magnolia AKA Maggie, discovers that her human masters are venial and corrupt, and that many of the wars she fought in were merely for conquest. You'd think that its exactly the sort of subversive "false advertising" that would get Brad Torgersen's underwear in a wad. Either Torgersen missed the subversion or Its Okay When My Buddy Does It.

Having said that, I do have issues with Big Boys. I thought it could be tighter with less weapons-porn, and I felt that the training sequences at the end were too long. (Although the part where the trainers left Maggie in a burning tank overnight was powerful.) Overall, Big Boys is a competent story. Now I need to decide if it's Hugo-worthy.


chris_gerrib: (Default)

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