Saturday, May 28, 2016

Voting for Hugos: Best Short Story and Best Novel

The packet came out today!  I’ve got all the nominees downloaded to my phone.

Both the short stories and the related works came in two separate downloads, the porny version and the clean version. I’m of the opinion that naming a porn story as winner would be a step below No Award. Plus I’m a little bit irate about being forced to mention the porn if I want to blog about the Hugos this year, and I’m trying to mention it as briefly and tangentially as I can. The Puppies are complaining about the science fiction community sheltering creepy sex offenders in their related works selection and inflicting creepy sex on us in the short story section. Since I don’t want public libraries to have to restrict future Hugo short story compilations to readers over 18, I ain’t voting for any of this trolly nonsense.

For the short stories, the nominees are:
  • “Asymmetrical Warfare” by S. R. Algernon (Nature, Mar 2015)
A very brief puppy-slated story about an alien’s amazement over human tenacity following a war in which it is discovered that, unlike the aliens, humans understand sacrifice. 
  • “Cat Pictures Please” by Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld, January 2015)
This is that story I linked twice.  I guess I like it. 
  • “If You Were an Award, My Love” by Juan Tabo and S. Harris (voxday.blogspot.com, Jun 2015)
This is a troll entry, parodying If You Were A Dinosaur My Love by Rachel Swirsky. The Puppies seriously hate this story, a sad tale about the narrator’s lover being beat up for being foreign/gay/trans and/or all of the above; if they had only been a dinosaur they could’ve fought back.  I’m of two minds about this story: (a) I thought it was touching, at least the first time I read it; and (b) I don’t think it’s science fiction.  Anyway, ain’t voting for no troll post.
  • “Seven Kill Tiger” by Charles Shao (There Will Be War Volume X, Castalia House)
“African men thought of themselves as lions, and they lived like kings of beasts, entirely content to lounge around living off the labor of one or more of his lionesses.  And the girls who succumbed to their exotic appeal could not return to China, not those who bore half-African bastards, anyway.  It was a growing problem …”  So, this is a story about weaponized vaccines and genetic warfare. Bleah. I took a shower after reading it. 
  • Space Raptor Butt Invasion by Chuck Tingle (Amazon Digital Services)
Again, ain’t voting for no troll entry. Even if it was written by the most goofy, lovable, personable pornographer on the internet, Dr. Chuck Tingle.

Deliberations didn’t take long: Naomi Kritzer for the win, followed by No Award.

BEST NOVEL

When I first contemplated getting involved in this Hugo fiasco to help raise the drawbridge against the nefarious Puppy invasion, one of the big selling points involved getting copies of five novels included in my voting package. Brand new corporately-published science fiction novels cost big bucks, like twenty-five of them, and the idea of getting the sci fi community’s carefully vetted best-five for the price of voting is tempting. 

Last year was my first year doing this, and not all of the novels came in full-length form. The Ann Leckie and Jim Butcher selections were provided only as excerpts.  While I could see that a nominated author might want to give voters only the creamy center of their confection without having to plow through the dry, crusty outside, the idea of forcing voters to invest their own money to evaluate a nominee strikes me as profoundly cynical. Especially given that the science fiction community has quite a few members that don’t have a lot of money.

In fact, I’ll wager that very few people would be willing to spend approximately $125 on hardcover books for the sole purpose of evaluating them. I’ll go spend $25 on, for example, the next installment of A Song Of Ice And Fire, but that’s because I know in advance I will like it.  I have no such preconceptions about the nominees here. 

This year, the only complete novel provided in the packet is Seveneves.

(In a horrific wide-margined, tiny-typefaced pdf version that I’m going to try to hack for greater phone-reading-visibility.)

I can almost sympathize with the Puppies at this juncture. It wouldn’t be hard to imagine a corporate publisher manipulating the best novel award given the reluctance of most of the voting base to shell out for high-priced brand-shiny-new novels. Many of the working novelists have already received these books as ARCs or for advance blurbs, so they’re not paying for them. And most fans these days seem to be wrapped in subcultures that would only encompass one or two of the nominated works.  The File 770 crowd, for example, is hot for Leckie and Jemisen but doesn’t really talk about Butcher and didn’t seem to like the science in Seveneves. A lot of Puppies might be willing to shell out for Butcher in hardcover but would balk at laying out the investment for Leckie and Jemisen. 

And further … I’m only a cheapskate most of the time, which is how I manage to live in San Francisco without a trust fund. Occasionally I’m a spendthrift who thinks nothing of dropping three figures on reading material, or jaunting across the country to attend a con where I have too much social anxiety to discuss reading material with other people. I can afford all these books, and I’ve already paid money for two of them (and would like a refund with respect to Uprooted). I’m outraged for the 1986 me, who borrowed a friend’s tattered copy of Neuromancer and read it, enrapt, during a long public transit commute. That version of me couldn’t afford even one hardback, and the idea of that version of me being steered toward spending their scarce book dollars on some steaming pile of corporate dookie because some narcissist executive who probably pals around with pedos manipulated it makes me frown. 

So in response to this corrupt slating of an already corrupt system, I’m going to issue the dirtiest vote I ever intend to vote in my entire life.

I’m nominating Seveneves, even though I haven’t read it. I will read it later, after it wins, when it’s on sale.

Because it’s the only novel included in the packet.

I liked Stephenson’s first book, SnowCrash, which was inspired by Neuromancer and told the tale of Hiro Protagonist delivering pizza but none of his subsequent characters lodged in my brain so I don’t really recall if I’ve read anything else – waitaminute, didn’t he do Zodiac, about the eco-avenger with a raft?  I liked that one, and I can recall his style was kind of infodumpy and his plots were kind of confused and forgettable, but overall his books are enjoyable. And it’s the only novel included in the packet.

I wonder if all the past years’ packets have always included complete novels. I mean, obviously the standard would be to provide eligible material in the packet, so I wonder who was the first diva to only offer up an excerpt?

This book was part of the Puppies’ “let’s slate things people were going to vote for anyway” strategy, but I think the Bill Gates recommendation nullifies that slightly. Whether or not it’s any good, it got Gates reading science fiction again, just like The Martian did with me. The idea of Bill Gates buying more science fiction books is a good one, since he can afford to buy them all.  Plus he’s very bright, and he may come up with a way to nullify this wicked stranglehold the Puppies and the corporateers seem to have on science fiction.

Also, it was the only one included in the packet. Must be present to win.  


EDIT: A postscript re corruption: it is possible that the corporate publishers are withholding complete versions this year in response to the slating. It does seem like a lot of people are treating the 2016 Hugos as though they didn’t count, myself included.  It still strikes me as greedy, though, and I’m still voting for Seveneves on that basis.
RE-EDITED: Also, the packets are a recent innovation, and the idea of punishing an author by making them provide their best work gratis would lead to a lot of competition as people scramble to produce bad writing like mine. Further, the idea of a punitive awarding of a dirty vote to something I haven’t read was probably ill-advised, and inspired by struggling with getting these pdfs into a phone-viewable format. Possibly reading slated short stories put me in a bad mood as well. Current plan: read all the pdfs, possibly purchase Seveneves, Butcher's novel and Leckie's novel if sufficiently intrigued. 

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