Sunday, July 31, 2016

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

I’m in a celebratory mood. Today I got to the half-mark of my trilogy. I’m halfway done with book two, which leaves only 1.5 more books to write before I can go off and write something else.

So I celebrated by loading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child onto my new Kindle Fire and heading to a nearby Thai restaurant that does fried kombucha [edit- kabocha (derp)] – which is the closest thing I could find to pumpkin pasties.

And now I’m done reading – fastest Harry Potter fix yet.  It was bittersweet, and I’ll try not to spoil it too much. The story is about Harry’s kid Albus and Draco’s kid Scorpius, sharing an unlikely friendship that includes time-travel, in which they try to save Cedric Diggory from the his demise at the Tri Wizard Tournament and end up having more of an Ebeneezer Scrooge type experience as they visit various points in the Potter chronology and explore a few alternate realities, like the one where Ron and Hermione never got together.

Cursed Child is anti-filmable since a lot of it revolves around retooled past moments, and it works much better as a play, with different actors interpreting the lore from the movies and the books. J.K. Rowling has stated this will be her last journey into the Potterverse. She doesn’t have a whole lot of new things to say thematically – parental love is good, one person can make a difference, fascism is bad. She does offer some fascinating alternate takes on her source material, the kind of comments only she could make. She shows us glimpses of a heroic Snape marching toward his destiny, and a gutterpunk rebel Hermione living roughish. And she gives us a lovable, fortyish Potter, still happily married to Ginny, a slightly rumpled gumshoe of an auror, who struggles with his relationship with his son.

Definitely required reading for Potter addicts, and functions as a greatest-hits for the unfamiliar or those in need of a good refreshing. Has it really been twenty years since I first started reading these books?  They still seem like they only happened yesterday.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

My 2016 Hugo Ballot

Rock Out by Disse86, my vote for Best Fan Artist
Clever Little Alice by Abigail Larson -- my vote for Best Professional Artist

My Vote
BEST NOVEL (3695 ballots)
·      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)
The Fifth Season
The Cinder Spires
No Award

BEST NOVELLA (2416 ballots)
·      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)
Penric’s Demon
Perfect State
Slow Bullets
No Award

BEST NOVELETTE (1975 ballots)
·      “And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead” by Brooke Bolander (Lightspeed, Feb2015)
·      “Flashpoint: Titan” by CHEAH Kai Wai (There Will Be War Volume X, Castalia House)
·      “Folding Beijing” by Hao Jingfang, trans. Ken Liu (Uncanny Magazine, Jan-Feb 2015)
·      “Obits” by Stephen King (The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, Scribner)
·      “What Price Humanity?” by David VanDyke (There Will Be War Volume X, Castalia House)
Folding Beijing
What Price Humanity
And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead
No Award

I also felt a little more sympathetic toward VanDyke after reading some harsh reviews. It turns out his black character named Token wasn’t named after the South Park character, he was named after VanDyke’s son’s army buddy (who was probably named after the South Park character). Still, it’s not a good character name. But the pacing of this story is very nice, and I like that in a story, so I can’t not acknowledge it.

Similar for the raging creature in the Bolander story. I’ve got a bias against rage addicts, but the writing is good.  
BEST SHORT STORY (2451 ballots)
·      “Asymmetrical Warfare” by S. R. Algernon (Nature, Mar 2015)
·      “Cat Pictures Please” by Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld, January 2015)
·      “If You Were an Award, My Love” by Juan Tabo and S. Harris (, Jun 2015)
·      “Seven Kill Tiger” by Charles Shao (There Will Be War Volume X, Castalia House)
·      Space Raptor Butt Invasion by Chuck Tingle (Amazon Digital Services)
Cat Pictures Please 
I’m a big cat picture fan. Er, a fan of big cat pictures. A fan of pictures of big cats! 

BEST RELATED WORK (2080 ballots)
·      Between Light and Shadow: An Exploration of the Fiction of Gene Wolfe, 1951 to 1986 by Marc Aramini (Castalia House)
·      “The First Draft of My Appendix N Book” by Jeffro Johnson (
·      “Safe Space as Rape Room” by Daniel Eness (
·      SJWs Always Lie: Taking Down the Thought Police by Vox Day (Castalia House)
·      “The Story of Moira Greyland” by Moira Greyland (
No Award
I wrote a rambling emo diatribe about this category that I don’t feel like linking, noting that somebody who was once abused by the foul pedophile Marion Zimmer Bradley did me a personal favor once, and if it’ll bring them honor or validation or closure or whatever, I’ll cheerfully and publicly state that I think MZB was a horrific, foul and monstrous person.

Notwithstanding. I’m not inclined to vote for any of these works because they wouldn’t be here but for the slate. And some fantastic books (like the ones I nominated) got kicked to the curb because slating occurred. And so here I am, voting against slating as a metaphysical concept. Again.

And Favordoer, if you’re out there, thanks for the favor; I owe you one.
BEST GRAPHIC STORY (1838 ballots)

·      The Divine written by Boaz Lavie, art by Asaf Hanuka and Tomer Hanuka (First Second)
·      Erin Dies Alone written by Grey Carter, art by Cory Rydell (
·      Full Frontal Nerdity by Aaron Williams (
·      Invisible Republic Vol 1 written by Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman, art by Gabriel Hardman (Image Comics)
·      The Sandman: Overture written by Neil Gaiman, art by J.H. Williams III (Vertigo)

·      Avengers: Age of Ultron written and directed by Joss Whedon (Marvel Studios; Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
·      Ex Machina written and directed by Alex Garland (Film4; DNA Films; Universal Pictures)
·      Mad Max: Fury Road written by George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, and Nico Lathouris, directed by George Miller (Village Roadshow Pictures; Kennedy Miller Mitchell; RatPac-Dune Entertainment; Warner Bros. Pictures)
·      The Martian screenplay by Drew Goddard, directed by Ridley Scott (Scott Free Productions; Kinberg Genre; TSG Entertainment; 20th Century Fox)
·      Star Wars: The Force Awakens written by Lawrence Kasdan, J. J. Abrams, and Michael Arndt, directed by J.J. Abrams (Lucasfilm Ltd.; Bad Robot Productions; Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
The Martian

·      Doctor Who: “Heaven Sent” written by Steven Moffat, directed by Rachel Talalay (BBC Television)
·      Grimm: “Headache” written by Jim Kouf and David Greenwalt, directed by Jim Kouf(Universal Television; GK Productions; Hazy Mills Productions; Open 4 Business Productions; NBCUniversal Television Distribution)
·      Jessica Jones: “AKA Smile” written by Scott Reynolds, Melissa Rosenberg, and Jamie King, directed by Michael Rymer (Marvel Television; ABC Studios; Tall Girls Productions;Netflix)
·      My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: “The Cutie Map” Parts 1 and 2 written by Scott Sonneborn, M.A. Larson, and Meghan McCarthy, directed by Jayson Thiessen and Jim Miller (DHX Media/Vancouver; Hasbro Studios)
·      Supernatural: “Just My Imagination” written by Jenny Klein, directed by Richard Speight Jr. (Kripke Enterprises; Wonderland Sound and Vision; Warner Bros. Television)

My Little Pony

BEST EDITOR – SHORT FORM (1891 ballots)
  • John Joseph Adams
  • Neil Clarke
  • Ellen Datlow
  • Jerry Pournelle
  • Sheila Williams

BEST EDITOR – LONG FORM (1764 ballots)
  • Vox Day
  • Sheila E. Gilbert
  • Liz Gorinsky
  • Jim Minz
  • Toni Weisskopf
Toni Weisskopf
This vote due solely to whiny guilt trip dispensed by Puppies last year when this category got no awarded. Fine. Here’s an editor vote. I’ll be abstaining in the future, as editors are a decadent luxury for the bourgeoisie.
  • Lars Braad Andersen
  • Larry Elmore
  • Abigail Larson
  • Michal Karcz
  • Larry Rostant
Abigail Larson
Larry Elmore
Michal Karcz
Lars Braad Andersen
Larry Rostant

BEST SEMIPROZINE (1457 ballots)
·      Beneath Ceaseless Skies edited by Scott H. Andrews
·      Daily Science Fiction edited by Michele-Lee Barasso and Jonathan Laden
·      Sci Phi Journal edited by Jason Rennie
·      Strange Horizons edited by Catherine Krahe, Julia Rios, A. J. Odasso, Vanessa Rose Phin,Maureen Kincaid Speller, and the Strange Horizons staff
·      Uncanny Magazine edited by Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas, Michi Trota, and Erika Ensign & Steven Schapansky

BEST FANZINE (1455 ballots)
·      Castalia House Blog edited by Jeffro Johnson
·      File 770 edited by Mike Glyer
·      Lady Business edited by Clare, Ira, Jodie, KJ, Renay, and Susan
·      Superversive SF edited by Jason Rennie
·      Tangent Online edited by Dave Truesdale
File 770
Yay Mike.
BEST FANCAST (1267 ballots)
·      8-4 Play, Mark MacDonald, John Ricciardi, Hiroko Minamoto, and Justin Epperson
·      Cane and Rinse, Cane and Rinse
·      HelloGreedo, HelloGreedo
·      The Rageaholic, RazörFist
·      Tales to Terrify, Stephen Kilpatrick

BEST FAN WRITER (1568 ballots)
  • Douglas Ernst
  • Mike Glyer
  • Morgan Holmes
  • Jeffro Johnson
  • Shamus Young

Mike Glyer
A lot of people wrote about the Puppy controversy, but Mike was one of the guys quoting and linking to both sides, which apparently enraged certain of the Puppies. Personally, I enjoy it when journalists are balanced and take care to deliver accurate cites and don’t conduct themselves like the ones in Obits (above). I guess that means I’m old. 
BEST FAN ARTIST (1073 ballots)
  • Matthew Callahan
  • disse86
  • Kukuruyo
  • Christian Quinot
  • Steve Stiles
Clone troopers! Monsters! Nekked girls! I’m voting for disse86 over the long dead metalhead.

  • Pierce Brown
  • Sebastien de Castell
  • Brian Niemeier
  • Andy Weir
  • Alyssa Wong
Andy Weir

Andy Weir and The Martian, and my outrage over the culture warriors’ preempting of its rightfully deserved award, are the whole reason I got involved in this Hugo mess. In retrospect, I’m glad I did. I’ve met some interesting people, I had a cool vacay in Spokane, and here I am voting again. Gonna go eat some BBQ in KC in a couple weeks. Life is copacetic. May the best books win!