May 162016
 

desolationThe Nebula Award winners were announced last week. The Nebulas are the other major annual SF/F Literary award, and the Hugos and Nebulas are held in similar esteem.

For those unfamiliar, the Nebula Awards are given by the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America organization. They are the professional group for SF/F writers in the US. One can join the organization if one is a professional, published SF/F author. Only members can nominate and vote for these awards. They are the more professional and exclusive of the two major awards. Sometimes they are considered “too detached” from the average reader for this reason – a niche that was filled by the popular-voted Hugo Awards instead.

I bring this up because Brad Torgerson (head of last year’s Sad Puppies 3 campaign) is dismayed that Max Max:Fury Road received a Nebula award over The Martian. Says Brad:

Of course, The Martian was every inch a Campbellian movie, while Fury Road was almost entirely New Wave.

Guess which aesthetic dominates and excites the imaginations of SF/F’s cognoscenti?

[…]

My personal stance has always been, “To hell with the hoity-toities! Give me my space cruisers and galactic adventure, like that which fired my imagination in the beginning!” But this is a very passé attitude. Nobody wants nuts-and-bolts SF/F anymore, do they?

I recall a time when there used to be an award that was considered more for the common man. An award that kept the genre grounded, rather than spinning off into Ivory Tower ponderings and abstractions. An award that nominated blue-collar writers like Brad Torgerson. An award known as The Hugo.

But Brad was key in turning that award into a Culture War battleground. Until that is resolved, there is no Hugo Award. (Well ok, the novels are almost untouched. But the other categories are suspended.)

Now Brad is complaining that the only awards that are left are those of the fancy-pants literati, when he was party to vandalizing the alternatives. Yes – it WAS nice to have a place where many different types of people could come together in appreciation of the genre, and could talk with each other like civilized humans despite our differences. It IS unfortunate that those commons are vulnerable to razing by the spite-fueled barbarians, so that now the only places of discourse left are the Walled Gardens and Ivory Towers that are able to defend themselves by excluding the hoi polloi.

But the balls it takes to complain about it, when you were the one to lead the charge! The chutzpah! The willful blindness and lack of self-awareness! It’s breathtaking.

Brad – go fuck yourself. You live in the world you helped create.

May 092016
 

philosoraptorSo um… being immersed in non-stop Hugo Controversy and Tinglers over the last two weeks does weird things to one’s brain.

Last year I wrote Amazing Man as a satirical take on the 2015 Sad Puppies fiasco, with the titular character acting as a mash-up of Larry Correia and Brad Torgerson. I never expected to re-enter that universe. But two days after reading this Tingle interview, a story of how REAL LOVE would redeem Amazing Man invaded my brain, and wouldn’t leave.

I pounded out the following story – Amazing Man 2: Love Conquers All – over the weekend. I tried to start with the violence-porn of Amazing Man, and move it into the dinosaur-porn of Tingle. I think it’s OK! I wish I could have gone with First-Person Present-Tense, as that seems soooooo ideal for erotica! Ah well.

This world isn’t very deep in the Tingleverse, so it’s not as absurd as a lot of Tingle’s stuff. I still wanted a redemption for Emilio, after all. It also assumes familiarity with Amazing Man 1. It’s 4400 words, but 1500 of it is gay erotica, so the non-erotica part comes out to right about the same length as Amazing Man 1.

Of course it does not even compare to the Tinglers of The Master. But it was a damn fun use of my weekend. :) And it makes me feel better about getting back to my novel. I’ve been hung up on it for a while lately, barely sputtering out a few hundred words a week, and this feels like it rammed clear much of the junk clogging up my brain-pipes. Sometimes you just need to have crazy, consequence-free fun with your writing!

Amazing Man 2: Love Conquers All

May 082016
 

beauty_and_the_beast_2010_by_j_scott_campbell-d2z2pqgIn the recent post on Kukuruyo, a commenter asked me:

He violated terms of services with two separate companies, DeviantArt and Project Wonderful, of his own free will and choice. He’s making money taking paid commissions creating nudes of a Marvel character without permission, a character who happens to be underage and whose name is literally synonymous with the company (textbook copyright infringement AND trademark disparagement) and selling to advertisers who have no idea their ads will show up on pages with drawings of a nude 16 year old girl, implying that the advertisers support such imagery.

Exactly how much sympathy are we supposed to have for this guy?

I dunno if you should have any sympathy, to be honest. He’s a GamerGater, and so has my antipathy right off the bat. There really isn’t much I like about him. But just because I dislike someone, or disagree with their politics, that doesn’t give me (or anyone) free license to destroy their lives. Accusing someone of pedophilia and creating child porn is exactly that. My contention is that nothing he has done is deserving of that level of attack, and vigilante justice is not something we should be encouraging anyway.

Terms of Service – I dunno about Project Wonderful, but c’mon, that’s a joke for DeviantArt. Half of DeviantArt is fanart, and it’s not like porn is uncommon. And by invoking copyright infringement you’re implicitly siding with America’s absolutely broken copyright laws, and declaring all fanworks should be purged. Is that *really* the position you want to be taking? Because that’s far more detestable than anything Kukuruyo has done.

This seems to be entirely a case of selective enforcement. Common activities are made illegal, but the laws are never enforced. UNTIL someone draws the attention of a group that wants to suppress or destroy them, and then it’s easy to do so because all they have to do is persecute for any one of the myriad things that everyone does. It is arbitrary power disguised as rule of law. Are *you* in possession of any music or art that you didn’t legally purchase? This is the sort of tyranny I find despicable, and just because it’s aimed at someone I dislike doesn’t make it ok!

The one grey area I waver on is the fact that he did make some money on the side off the fanart. That’s sorta shady, I guess? But as original pieces of art that are his own creation, I have a hard time siding with the international mega-corporations, over the guy doing sketches in his free time. I strongly believe that the claiming of cultural myths for exclusive use by media corporations is an abomination.

And at the risk of repeating myself, the people who are attacking Kukuruyo seem to me to be practicing selective enforcement. Did they disparage Scalzi for writing Star Trek fanfiction? Did they encourage Universal Studios to sic their legal attack hounds on Peter Watts for writing The Thing fanfiction? Both of those were Hugo finalists, and I don’t recall any such hostile acts.

So no, don’t bother with sympathy. But don’t pretend that what’s been happening to Kukuruyo is anything but reprehensible.

 

EDIT: For an example of this selective enforcement, I present Mark Oshiro. I am aware of him because I follow Matthew Foster, who was married to Eugie Foster before her untimely death. Mark Oshiro stole her work “In The End, He Catches Her” and read it for his Patreon supporters, as well as putting it on YouTube. He never asked for permission, he never paid for audio rights, he simply stole them, and profited from that. And this is a thing he had been doing for quite some time. But Mark Oshiro is on the same political side as those who are currently attacking Kukuruyo. He is a darling of theirs. He has been a guest of honor at at least one con. No one called for his head (aside from a rather incensed Matthew Foster, but he never got any traction with that). Some people even bemoaned the fact that they can’t vote for Mark as Best FanWriter this year. I suppose it’s a lot easier to steal from individual starving artists, as they don’t have a team of lawyers to sic on you. :/

May 072016
 

You’ve not lived until you’ve seen a friend liveblog reading Space Raptor Butt Invasion for the first time. :) This should be a thing. Here’s a friend’s reaction blogging.

SRBI 1

SRBI 2

SRBI 3

SRBI 4

SRBI 5

 

If anyone else has these sorts of reaction liveblogs, I’d love to see them! Drop me a link in the comments or something.

Also, it occurs to me that “Enjoys watching other’s reactions to art as much as the art itself” could make a good litmus test for “How social is this species?” :)

May 062016
 

chibi-kkyIt’s a damned fucking disgrace what’s been happening to Kukuruyo.

I bring this up because a commenter recently noted that I talk oft about Rabid Puppy crap, but not much about when my side shits the bed. They have a point.

Kukuruyo has been personally and financially attacked simply for having the wrong political opinions. They’ve been falsely accused of pedophilia and creating child porn, which is a SERIOUS FUCKING CHARGE and which anyone who made should immediately rescind (and apologize!) or forever be known as a slanderous hate-monger and outrage-peddler. Even a false charge of something that serious can destroy lives. Do you not remember the families that were torn apart by false child-rape charges in the 80s Satanic Panic??

Already some advertisers have pulled their sponsorship based on false allegations. Marvel is being encouraged to sue due to fanart (seriously guys, fuck anyone who siccs a major corp on a fanartist or fanwriter, you are beyond scum). And Kukuruyo is being personally harassed as well.

The people on our side doing this – have you no shame? No scruples? Are you trying to make Vox’s point for him? Do you realize what happens when you bring yourself down to his level? Don’t freakin’ do it!!!

Last year I voted No Award in several categories, out of protest of the Puppy’s tactics. This year I will very likely vote Kukuruyo at the top of my ballot for FanArtist, as a protest against what has been done to them. And their art ain’t half bad!

May 052016
 

<3 Chuck Tingle. Just a few hours ago he tweeted this:

Tingled

IMPORTANT: cant go to hugos award so to thwart devil plans, true buckaroo ZOE QUINN (name of @unburtwitch) has agreed to accept award for me

I got a question on Facebook as to why this is relevant.

Zoe Quinn was one of the original targets of GamerGate hate. GamerGate is basically the video-game-community equivalent of the Rabid Puppies. (Although for them the rallying cry isn’t “Bring back good fiction” it’s “Ethics in video-gaming journalism!”) GamerGaters were a Rabid Puppies ally last year.

So for a Rabid Puppies slated author to bring in an arch-nemesis of GamerGate is sorta like if Lou Antonelli had smiled when he was nominated and given up his seat to Rachel Swirsky.

As for WHY the Rabids nominated Space Raptor Butt Invasion…

They still have a hate-boner for “If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love.” They slated “Space Raptor Butt Invasion” to show their contempt, and say “Ha ha, screw you WorldCon, here’s what we think of Swirksy’s story. Have some gay porn! With Dinosaurs, since you love dinosaurs so much!”

(for the puppies, calling someone gay is still an insult, so dropping gay porn in their inbox is an offense)

It’s blown up in their faces spectacularly. :)

May 042016
 

Molly Tanzerspace raptor butt invasion, who I consider a friend, loves Chuck Tingle and finds him hilarious, so I figured I’d give this whole Space Raptor Butt Invasion thing a look. I was surprised by what I found, so I’ve written up a full overview below. The most intriguing part, which I will expound on in the “Slammed in the Butt by my Hugo Nomination” section, is that Chuck Tingle is obviously an insider. Not just an SF author, but possibly someone who is already known for his/her work under his/her real name.

While I have philosophical objections to Kindle Unlimited, I would recommend people sign up for their one-month free trial and read these works themselves. You can cancel as soon as you’re done, it costs you nothing, and each work is very short. I read:

* Space Raptor Butt Invasion (the nominated work)

* Turned Gay By The Living Alpha Diner (included with Raptor)

* Slammed in the Butt by my Hugo Award Nomination (which Tingle released the day after his nomination as his response)

* Creamed in the Butt by my Handsome Living Corn (included with Hugo Award)

* Pounded in the Butt by Chuck Tingle’s Hugo (NOT by Chuck Tingle! Written by someone else, read for comparison)

As the titles should probably indicate, these are works of satire. As recent anonymous interviews with Chuck Tingle show, Tingle is a performance artist, and an amusing one at that.

The first thing one notices is that Chuck Tingle is a good writer. Yes, he could use some editing (although I suspect at least some of the mistakes are intentional, as part of the satire). But when it comes to the craft of putting together a story, he is the equal of solid professional writers. He humanizes his characters immediately, and manages to make you empathize within the first few lines. He focuses on the simple, critical details that quickly establish who a character is and why we should care about him (this is gay erotica, it’s always a ‘him’). But importantly – since this is satire – he does this by engaging the stereotypes that are present in bad fiction (and bad erotica), and mocking them via lampshading. Consider:

“It’s rare that you think of a down-home, Southern farmer in a suit and a tie, but I’m not your average farmer. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with working the fields in a dirty old T-shirt and a straw hat, wiping the sweat from your brow as you till the brown soil. I can honestly say that I’ve put in more than enough hours doing just that.”

Amazingly, despite the mockery, it’s done in a gentle way that endears you to the characters. And he does this in the matter of a few paragraphs or less, which is critical in such a short format, and also very hard to do.

After this, Tingle steps his character through the paces of a gay-awakening romance story. It’s done with tongue in cheek, but the story is executed well. It takes us through the stages of this story fluidly, hitting every beat, and sticking every landing. This is a demonstration of good writing craft.

This is also why I recommend reading no less than three of Tingle’s works. Because it takes at least two (and likely three+) to realize what he’s doing. He is telling the same story (fairly well-told) over and over again, and changing only the surface details. Every single story you read starts with the same opening notes, plays the same melody, and runs the same beat. It’s like how TV Police Procedurals are down to such a science that nowadays you can time when a plot element will show up almost down to the minute without knowing anything about the show. It’s like how every Pop Hit is “ABBA’s pop chords and textures, Denniz PoP’s song structure and dynamics, ’80s arena rock’s big choruses, and early ’90s American R&B grooves.”

I don’t say this to denigrate his work. He is a satirist. He is holding a mirror up to humanity and saying “Look, this is us. This is how easy we are to play. We have these buttons, we know how to push them, and we can just keep pushing them over and over and over as much as we like.” It is the physical manifestation of “There are only 7 stories” or “All stories are The Hero’s Journey” or whatever you like to call it. It demonstrates that we are not unique beautiful snowflakes, but rather we are simply stimulus-response organisms.

Interestingly, I’ve heard this same sort of thing leveled at Jim Butcher’s work. That his stories are good, and entirely well-written, but every novel is basically the same novel. It hits the same beats, plays the same notes, and only the details differ. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – he’s found a song that people like, and so he keeps playing it for them. But it isn’t innovative.

(That being said, I believe I’ve heard that he was at the forefront of Urban Fantasy, helping to create the genre. That itself is worth a Hugo if it’s true. I don’t know, I never really followed Urban Fantasy, wasn’t my thing)

This is the reason that I believe Chuck Tingle is The Hero That The Puppies Need. I’m throwing this alllllll the way back to 2015, but back then the “Sad Puppies 3 crowd” decried all the new-fangled narratives in SF, and wanted a return to the old stories they were familiar with. Chuck Tingle’s work is the answer to this request. He simply repeats the same story, over and over, with slight surface changes. It is a good story. And he is very good at telling it. It is entirely enjoyable! I can see the non-gay-erotica-satire version of this type of writing becoming a repeat New York Times Best Seller. But as good as it is, both in quality and enjoyment, it is not something that will be remembered. It doesn’t say anything. It doesn’t redefine any genres, or alter how we interact with art. It is simply good, repetitive fun. Like TV Police Procedurals. Or masturbation.

(I don’t know if the gay erotica parts of these stories were any good, as I’m not very gay. They were certainly exciting, and I would have been very turned on by similar scenes using Male/Female pairings. I’ll leave the judgement of their quality to people with more experience with gay erotica. I will say that the erotica parts are exactly like the story parts in that they are nearly identical in every single story. It goes through the same motions and hits the same beats. It’s a fractal reflection of Tingle’s theme of Reproducibility. Although in fairness… it is porn. I’ll admit that all porn is basically identical, and yet I continue to watch it regularly despite having seen the exact same actions play out thousands of times for the past 20+ years. So I’m not sure if that can really be held against it.)

I contrast Tingle’s work with that of “Tuck Chingle”. Tuck Chingle wrote the vastly inferior work “Pounded in the Butt by Chuck Tingle’s Hugo.” It’s basically just bad message fiction. While the prose itself is fine, and even appears to have had an editor (no noticeable spelling or continuity “mistakes”, unlike Tingle), there is nothing there that is appealing. The protagonist isn’t relatable, the setting is non-existent, there is no arc or action, and never once is the story fun or enjoyable. I don’t mean to slam the author too hard, but it is a contrast that serves as a sanity check. Is Chuck Tingle actually good, or am I crazy? Upon reading Chingle I’m reassured that bad writing still exists, and yes, Chuck Tingle is in fact actually good at his craft.

So – Chuck Tingle’s work is in fact quite enjoyable, and a splendid demonstration of what the Puppies actually want! I’m not sure if they intended to nominate this work as an ideal representative of their desires, but it works, and it’s admirable. I would not greatly begrudge them regular appearances on the ballot if they just want some nominal recognition of good old stories that don’t do anything, but are fun to read. They don’t even have to be gay erotica satire!

Of course all this brings us to the punchline – Tingle’s seminal work: “Slammed in the Butt by my Hugo Award Nomination

Guys, Tingle is one of us. He’s having a shit-ton of fun, but he’s obviously hip to the fandom. First, his craft is great. Second, his humor is hilarious. And third – he’s capable of artsy introspective pieces, even if he continues to write in his satirical tongue-in-cheek style. This is a 4th-wall-breaking joking-not-joking introspective piece of the same flavor as Adaptation. The story stars an author stand-in (“Tuck Bingle”) who is engaged in conversation by the author of the story – the actual Chuck Tingle – as he is writing it. The author speaks both to his author stand-in, and directly to the reader. It does this while continuing to be hilarious, of course. It does acknowledge that many people are upset by Space Raptor Butt Invasion (and names George RR Martin specifically), and it serves as a sort of apology. It is trying to say “Yes, I realize this isn’t Hugo material, but this whole year is absurd, and what is one more absurdity among the rest? Also, please consider this work as a serious piece of satire, because if there was a Hugo for Best Satirical Work, maybe the Tingleverse would count, no?” And yeah, I think it might.

Among the clues that Tingle knows what’s up is this reply, when Bingle asks the author what he can do to help Tingle win the Hugo. He says:

“You’re already doing it. Parallel universes, fouth-wall breaking storylines and a little meta humor sprinkled in there for good measure. The voters love this stuff!”

This is a naked reference to 2013 Hugo Winner “Redshirts” by John Scalzi, which is exactly what was just described. And yes, I loved Redshirts. And that made me love “Slammed in the Butt by my Hugo Award Nomination” as a piece of satire as well. Tingle has spoken to me in the way I most appreciate – via Speculative Fiction Literature.

Of course, as Chuck Tingle himself says “At the end of the day, this is still gay erotica, you’re gonna have to get pounded.”

:)

Anyway, I now have to actually seriously consider whether I’m going to vote for a Hugo for Tingle. Cuz he’s kinda won my heart, and I just might.

 

(oh, and if you’ve read this far – in the comments to a recent post, a reader brought my attention to this fascinating piece on Vox Day and the Rabid Puppies, which is altering my opinion on the whole situation. It’s called “Killing Vox Day”, but it means it in the metaphorical sense, not actual violence. “The goal of [4th Generation Warfare] is not to take over a State, it is to discredit the State and tear it down.” Great read, highly recommended!

Of note – in far-more-recent follow-up piece the author claims that if Raptor wins the Hugo, the Rabid Puppies will have Won Completely and we should all pack up and quit. I don’t think that’s true at all. Raptor may have been Vox’s biggest slip. He really should read the authors he slates before slating them.)

Apr 272016
 

300x300xhugo-awards.jpg.pagespeed.ic.AsqaLzncTzThere’s a reason the Speculative Lit fan community gets together every year to vote for their favorite works. It’s because “which work did the most people think was the most impactful” is an open question. There’s a lot of chat. Reviews and recommendation lists highlight the top few dozen or so that the community really thinks highly of. But it’s nice to have an award, and giving an award to one single work means taking a vote to determine which one work out of those dozens clears the top.

Thus, the Hugos.

The system wasn’t designed to be robust against hostile attack. That’s now being fixed. In the meantime, we have to ask ourselves: What Question Is The Hugo System Answering (this year)?

The system can be used to answer one of many question:
“Who gets the most votes”
“Who do the Rabid Puppies vote for”
“Who do the non-puppies vote for”

Due to their well-constructed assault on the nomination process, the Rabid Puppies have turned the traditional question of “Who Gets The Most Votes” into “Who Do The Rabid Puppies Vote For.” Which in turn is simply “Who Is On The Rabid Puppy Slate.” This is a valid question, but the entire voting process seems like overkill for answering it, since you can just look that up online. A more interesting question is “Who Do The Non-Puppies Vote For”, which the voting system could still answer.

Other questions that the system can answer:

Can the nomination process be hacked by a small minority of strongly disciplined block-voters? This has now been answered, twice. The answer is yes. Overwhelmingly so. Under the current rules, the only effective counter-strategy is an opposing slate. Fortunately, the rules are being fixed to neuter slates in the future.

Can the overall process be subverted by that minority? This has also been answered. No – the majority fan community will reject the exploitative attack, and vote No Award ahead of the slated works. We can answer this question AGAIN this year if we want to. But I don’t see why we’d bother. Last year it was exciting, and the conclusion was unknown. This year the conclusion is foregone, and I don’t think it’s worth the cost in lost real nominations.

If the Rabid Puppies really want to determine which of their slated nominees they like the best, they won’t get that answer at WorldCon. And since every other interesting question has already been answered EXCEPT for “Who Do The Non-Puppies Vote For”, I believe the best course of action is to throw out all Rabid Puppy ballots and get back to the matter of answered that remaining question.

The one bright side to all this – Chuck Tingle has put out another piece in response to his being nominated for “Space Raptor Butt Invasion.” :D This guy is awesome, I want to meet him!

slammed in butt by hugo

Apr 262016
 

cincinnatusI would like to see the community come together to defend themselves. But I am a very small minority, and that won’t happen. I will, of course, go along with the majority consensus, because I like my community and I’m not an asshole. I will go to WorldCon and enjoy myself. This year can be grand in the style of David Gerrold again.

But that doesn’t change that I wish the community WOULD unite to defend itself, and that’s why I’m putting forth the proposition that we should do so. I think the biggest thing we have to fear right now is Fear Itself. Literally.

Friends ask how I’m different from the strong-man supporters, who currently are rallying behind Trump. There’s a reason people like Trump gain supporters. It’s the same reason Rome gave emergency powers of absolute power to one man during times of crisis, until the crisis was dealt with. Authoritarianism is actually good at dealing with a certain subset of problems.

Thing is, for limited engagements, and if you can empower a trustworthy dictator, Dictatorial Powers are often a great idea. It’s why we have various “Czar of X” positions in the govt as well. The fear of the temporary emergency powers becoming permanent (or being used in a terrible way) are completely legit, and as a country we’ve done a passable job of avoiding them for a few centuries. But I think the fear has led to sometimes us going too far in the opposite direction, and led us to avoid simple, effective solutions to small, short-term problems. Like neutering the Rabid Pups for one year. Our fear is a greater threat to our well-being than the proposed tyrannical act

Of course, the rank and file are NOT united in thinking this is a good idea. From what I can tell, it’s just me. So obviously we are not in a positions where this is something we can accomplish.

And when a society is so paralyzed of fear of effective action, that they can’t even defend themselves against a few hundred coordinated people, it makes me worry that they won’t last very long. In this sort of voluntary community, if a few people can ruin the place for everyone, people will drift away. It’s like those people so afraid of censorship that no one can ever say anything, because those crazies who hate them, and scream at the top of their lungs to drown out all effective communication, are never removed.

Yes, yes, I see your Hitler, and I raise you a Cincinnatus.

Anyway, it’s not the awards themselves that upsets me, it’s the community’s willingness to lie down and take it. I wish we could just see, unofficially, what the finalist list would have been without Rabid interference. :/

Apr 262016
 

alfieWell. The Puppies managed to choke out the Hugos for a second year. (aside from Best Novel, which has few enough items published each year that the popular vote isn’t diluted too much).

2016 Hugo Finalists

Rabid Puppies List

Sad Puppies List

I would like to renew my call to void all Rabid Puppy ballots, but I guess it’s too late for that. :/ I can’t help wondering if Vox & crew have a point. For real though – it doesn’t necessarily damage the legitimacy of an institution if it is vandalized by crazies once. It certainly starts to damage that legitimacy if it keeps allowing the vandalism to occur. Does a community that refuses to defend itself deserve to continue?

At the VERY LEAST they could concurrently release an Alfie list, which isn’t the official Hugo finalists, but merely shows what the Hugo finalists list would have looked like with the Rabid Puppy ballots removed? (A Rabid Puppy ballot being defined as any ballot in which at least two categories perfectly match the Rabid Puppies slate). That way those so inclined could perhaps hold separate voting of their own.