Monday, July 27, 2015

My Sims Appear To Be Obsessed With Sad Puppies

Art imitating life mimicking art, or something.

Stoked About Worldcon

Assuming some Puppies do indeed come to Spokane -- a lot, a few, just one -- what will that do to the atmosphere of the con?

This of course is a two-sided question. Will the Puppies behave? How will the trufans behave toward them? Will people get along, agree to disagree, maintain some semblence of courtesy? Or will we have blood in the halls and the party suites?

The last con I went to was Blizzcon. In the goodie bag, we all got little red/blue reversible bracelets, so we could declare our allegiance as alliance or horde, to commemorate all the time we spend trying to kill each other online. The contrast boggles my mind.

It makes me wonder if I’m going to get faction checked, and how often. Maybe I should get a t-shirt that says “not a sad puppy” – except the thought of having to declare faction in a serious context annoys me to no end. It makes me want to walk around undeclared and unflagged, reporting on whether I’m met with graciousness, utter disregard (which I’m kind of aiming for) or ringing bells and cries of “unclean!”

I’m not a puppy. I’m showing up because the slating pissed me off. I did vote for a couple of puppies, and I even voted for a Castalia House offering – because it was good and informative. I also voted for some non-puppies, and I gave extra weight to non-slaters, to balance the unfairness of the slating itself. I tried to keep personality out of it, but I developed a dark and bitter loathing for that guy Wright who gamed three (3) entries in one category, and I have joined the Tor boycott only with regard to his books (I am not boycotting any other Tor authors at this time).

Meanwhile, David Gerrold is being a little more cheerful:

Several thousand people will show up, most of them planning to have a good time.
There will be panels of authors and editors and illustrators and costumers and more, sharing their experiences about authoring and editing and illustrating and costuming and more. There will be spirited exchanges of anecdotes and information. There will be much laughter.
There will be an exciting art show, full of the work of the best artists, both amateur and professional. There will be oohing and ahhing, and there will be an auction where many people will purchase artwork and go home happy.
There will be a dealer's room, where you can find books and videos and toys and costumes and jewelry and ghu knows what else. People will spend money on things, dealers will be pleased, fans will be thrilled at finding great reading adventures
There will be autograph sessions where fans can meet and greet authors and artists and others. There will be a bar where fans and pros will gather and swap tales. There will be parties -- lots of parties. People will laugh.
There will be a masquerade where costumers will show off their months of work to visualize the characters that live in their imagination, and the audience will cheer and laugh and applaud and delight in the show.
There will be a Hugo award ceremony where we celebrate excellence in the genre, and despite any conversations about this or that or the other thing, we will celebrate ourselves as a community.
The worldcon will be a gathering of the clans and everybody who shows up looking for a good time will have a good time, because your good time is what you create for yourself.
Worldcon belongs to all of us, with nobody and nothing left out.

And now my trepidation meter is swinging back toward stoked. 

Moon of Pluto

Behold Charon, my namesake.

I can’t recall the specific details and/or jokes involved, but one day when I was a teenager, I was sitting around with some other teenagers, probably playing guitar, and discussing appropriate names for guitar players. For some reason, my given name was deemed not rockish enough. I subsequently played/said/did something far out of left field (as I occasionally do). So far out of left field that the exact distance became the topic of discussion. A light year? A parsec? No, it was within the solar system, but barely. Pluto? How about the moon of Pluto, it’s even farther! And suddenly I had a rockish name. I used it to play guitar, and write, and eventually that name was making more money than the original name, so it became my name. 

NASA has some great new photos of Charon and Pluto, and I am thoroughly enjoying looking at them. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Voting for the Hugos

Voting on the Hugos

I think I’ve got a handle on this Hugo mess.  Of great help was File 770, which kept me supplied with updates on the positions and antics of the nominees. 

(Serendipitously, this File 770 addiction led me to one of my favorite science fiction stories: Protection, by Robert Sheckley. I read it years ago and forgot the author and title, because my brain mainly stores music; most of the words slide right on through.)

I also read the nominated works. Here’s how I’m voting. 

Best Novel

1.  The Three Body Problem, Cixin Liu, Ken Liu translator
This is a hard science fiction novel which was a best-seller in China. I’m not going to lie about how “oh yeah, I understood all the physics, it’s wrong in fact.” But the aliens’ game based on Chinese myth and history, the cultural revolution scenes and the animal-communism man planting his trees stuck with me. And made me realize I would love to read more translated best-sellers from other cultures.  

2.   Skin Game: A Novel of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher
Butcher invented a genre. How many people can do that? Although personally, noir is not my thing. That’s why I’m putting it second. If I liked noir, this is the kind of noir I’d like best.

3.       The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison (Sarah Monette)This is a story about some imperialist and patriarchal (and cyberpunk!) elves, and how their wise and benevolent new leader sets them right, bringing them peace and feminism and awesome new clothes.  There’s some action, but don’t worry, most of it’s offstage.

4.       The Dark Between the Stars by Kevin J. Anderson
This space opera found its way right into my neutral zone. It kept me entertained for a couple of days and now I can’t recall anything about it.

5.       Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie
Any empire that uses neurologically-damaged wetware in place of computers is too gratuitously evil for me to comfortably suspend my disbelief enough to get into the story, although the gender thing is clever

Best Novella
No award.
I didn’t like any of them, especially the three (3) entries by John C. Wright.

Best Novelette
1.       “The Day The World Turned Upside Down” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
I do like surrealism.

2.       “The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale” by Rajnar Vajra
This was a fun story with lots of action.

3.       “Championship B’tok” by Edward M Lerner
Gamers in space! Nice worldbuilding.

4.       “The Journeyman: In the Stone House” by Michael F. Flynn
This one felt very much inspired by Stephen King’s Dark Tower series and seems to take place off in a corner of that world.

5.       “Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium” by Gray Rinehart
A little parable about stubbornness.

Best Short Story

1.   “Totaled” by Kary English
             In the future, insurance companies will do whatever they can to avoid playing claims. And now Kary English has given them the idea that they can save bucks by converting workers into jarred brains to avoid costs associated with bodily repair

2.       “Turncoat” by Steve Rzasa
In a race for the shortest short story, this one would win.

3.       “A Single Samurai”, Steven Diamond
That’s one way to deal with a kaiju.

4.       “On A Spiritual Plain” by Lou Antonelli
This story isn’t bad, about chaplain exploring a planet where ghosts really do exist.

5.       No Award

6.  “The Parliament of Beasts and Birds” by John C. Wright
Needs some raptors.

Best Related Work

1   "Hot Equations: Thermodynamics and Military SF” by Ken Burnside
2.    “Letters from Gardner” by Lou Antonelli
3.     No Award

Best Fan Artist
1.            Brad W. Foster
2.            Steve Stiles
3.            Ninni Aalto
4.            Spring Schoenhuth
5.            Elizabeth Leggett

Best Fan Writer
1.       Laura J. Mixon                  
2.       Amanda S. Green
3.       Cedar Sanderson
4.       Dave Freer
5.       Jeffro Johnson

Best New Writer
1.                   Jason Cordova                          
2.                   Wesley Chu               
3.                   Eric S. Raymond                       
4.                   Kary English                               
5.                   Rolf Nelson                

I did some research into some of the other categories, and I watched a couple of the movies and TV shows, but ultimately decided to not vote, citing my own ignorance.