Yup, it looks like it’s gonna be one of those days here at the Scalzi Compound. There are worse things.
Yup, it looks like it’s gonna be one of those days here at the Scalzi Compound. There are worse things.
Just to pull this out and give it its own post for emphasis.
So, apparently Larry Correia and Vox Day offered on their Web sites a slate of suggested nominees for several Hugo categories, and several of their suggested nominees hit the final ballot. This has made a number of people feel things ranging from annoyance to outrage, with the commensurate suggestion that, if such a thing is not illegal, then it’s at least just not done. So let me offer a couple of thoughts.
1. Does what these two fellows have done contravene the actual Hugo nomination rules? If they answer is “no” (and it does in fact appear to be “no”), then fair play. Game on.
2. As to the “it’s just not done” thing: Well, now it has. And as it’s been done, and it’s by all indications entirely legal, wasting time griping that it’s happened, with regards to this year’s voting, seems like frittering to me. Again: Game on.
3. But it’s also not entirely honest to say that it’s not been done before, either. Lots of people suggest or at least remind people of their own works for consideration (I do the latter); lots of people suggest or at least remind people of the works of others for consideration. Just this year I suggested Abagail Nussbaum for Fan Writer; there she is on the ballot. Was my recommendation causative? Maybe, maybe not (I suspect not — she’s built a reputation over a number of years), but the point is I made the recommendation.
The new wrinkle here would be Correia/Day allegedly exhorting a comprehensive slate of nominees for the purpose of annoying people they would like to annoy, rather than with regard to the quality of the works offered. I’m not sure that’s the whole story (From what I can see, I think the list was composed to highlight works these fellows found worthy, and also, as a bonus, they thought they’d annoy some folks in the bargain). But again, even if the least charitable interpretation holds, see point one and point two. You may see this as a cynical, contemptuous of the awards and the people who vote for them, and just a real dick move. But even if it were, eh. Yet again: this is the hand the Hugos are dealt this year. Let’s go ahead and play it.
4. More to the point for me, even if we were to grant that a slate of nominees was engineered to get on the ballot for the purposes of annoying some voters, and to make some obtuse point about politics and the Hugos, why should anyone be obliged to play along by those assertions? To paraphrase a point I made yesterday on Twitter, how terrible it would be if someone elbowed their way onto the Hugo list to make a political point, and all that happened was that their nominated work was judged solely by its artistic merits.
If work was shunted onto the list to make a political point and without regard to its quality, and it is crap, you’re going to know it when you read that work, and you should judge it accordingly. And if a work was shunted onto the list to make a political point and without regard to the quality, and it’s pretty good, you’re going to know that too — and you should judge it accordingly. If you believe that these fellows pushed their way onto the list to make a political point, nothing will annoy them more than for their work to be considered fairly. It undermines their entire point.
It doesn’t mean you give a work an award, if you find it lacking. But you treat it fairly. And yes, it’s entirely possible that in this formulation, anything less than a win will be seen by them as evidence of politics. But again: Why would you accede to such assertions? If their works win, good for them. If they lose, that’s life. Speaking as a six-time Hugo loser, who once lost a Hugo by a single vote, let me just say that when you’re a grown-up, you learn to accept you don’t get everything you want.
5. Please also keep in mind that even if you believe that the list is a cynical exercise, there are people and work on that list who may be well worth consideration, who may or may not have even known they were part of (or would have consented to) being part of a cynical exercise. Consider that you would be doing them (and the Hugos) a disservice to dismiss them out of hand. I’ve seen rumblings of people suggesting they’ll put everyone on the Correia/Day slate below “no award” no matter what, but if you’re doing that, you’re making these fellows’ alleged point for them. Again: Why do that? It’s nearly as easy to read a work (or at least, read as far as can) and decide it’s just not for you. And if it is for you, well. Surprise!
6. On a strictly personal note, at least one of these fellows apparently wishes to assert that the reason they’re introducing politics into the mix here is because I did it before them, i.e., that this is somehow really my fault. Well, no. One, just because this dude doesn’t like me, it doesn’t make me responsible for his actions. That’s the sort of “he made me do it” logic you give up when you’re twelve. Two, I’ve certainly made people aware of my work, and given space on my site to let others do the same; I’m not aware of ever having said “here’s a slate of people you should nominate for this award, including me.” Totally legal and no reason not to, if you think it’s something you want to do. Not something I would want to do, or have done.
But if the suggestion is that I’ve been strategic about getting onto the Hugo ballot at times, well. It would be disingenuous of me to suggest I haven’t. I have, and certainly I know that’s annoyed people before. But, oh well — and no matter what at the end of the day what I was on the ballot for had to face the other nominees in the category. Sometimes that work fared well, and I took home a Hugo. But I also have my share of fifth place finishes, too.
I think maybe this is why I’m less annoyed with the Correia/Day slate than others. If they’re on the ballot due to crafty strategy, well, good for them. A nice trick if you can manage it. But now they have to compete. I look who’s on the ballot with them, and this is what I have to say about that: Good luck, guys. You’re gonna need it.
7. Ultimately, here’s what I think about this year’s slate: It’s got some stuff on it I already know I like. It’s got some stuff on it that I already know I don’t like. And it’s got some stuff on it I haven’t read, so I’ll read it and decide what I think.
In other words; it’s a Hugo slate pretty much any Hugo slate in any year. I plan to treat it exactly like I treat any Hugo slate in any year. You might consider it, too.
Swancon being Western Australia’s premier science fiction convention, don’t you know. Yes, next year I will be in Perth, round about Easter-time. It’ll be fun! And if you’re in Australia, you should pop by. I mean, everything in Australia is close to everything else, right?
I made a video for Swancon to show when they announced my IGoHness. Here it is:
I stand by every word, especially the words about the Tim Tams.
Every year since Athena was an infant, this particular Easter bunny has shown up with a basket of treats for her. And look! The bunny’s back! Good to see some things don’t change.
A very happy Easter to those of you who celebrate it. And for those of you who don’t, have a wonderful day anyway.
Because, I have them!
* Nope, I’m not on the ballot this year. It will happen. As I won the best novel Hugo last year, I am perfectly fine with that. It’s nice to spread around the joy.
* I think it’s an interesting slate this year: Lots of stuff to like, a few things to puzzle over, and as always lots of fodder for discussion. On the novel ballot it’s particularly interesting to see Wheel of Time (the complete series) there — it’s a quirk of the Hugo rules that if any individual book of a series hasn’t been nominated, the entire series can be. So here we are with the whole series. Quirky Hugo rules are fun.
* I just know you’re all dying to know what I think of Vox Day’s nomination in the Novelette category. I think this: One, I haven’t read the story in question, so I can’t possibly comment on it. Two, the Hugo nomination process is pretty straightforward — people nominate a work in a category. If it gets enough votes, it’s a nominee. If the work’s on the ballot, it’s because enough nominators wanted it there. Three, the Hugo rules don’t say that a racist, sexist, homophobic dipshit can’t be nominated for a Hugo — nor should they, because in that particular category at least, it’s about the work, not the person.
In sum: Vox Day has every right (so far as I know, and as far as you know, too) to be on the ballot. You may not like it, or may wish to intimate that the work in question doesn’t deserve to be on the ballot, but you should remember what “deserve” means in the context of Hugo (i.e., that the nominators follow the rules while nominating), and just deal with it like the grown up you are.
* Apropos of nothing in particular, however, I will note that in every category it is possible to rank a nominated work below “No Award” if, after reading the work in question and giving it fair and serious consideration, you decide that it doesn’t deserve to be on the ballot and, say, that its presence on the ballot is basically a stunt by a bunch of nominators who were more interested in trolling the awards than anything else. Just a thing for you to keep in mind when voting time rolls around.
* Also, remember when I said that one of the drawbacks of announcing the Hugo Awards on the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter was that it means that the stories the media will pick up on during the week will be the outraged reactions? Yeah, this is very likely to be another year that it works that way, I think.
* On a related note, and to get out ahead of what I suspect will be a talking point, I think people may wish to suggest that aside from Vox Day there are other writers on the Hugo ballot who are there more for political and/or trolling purposes than for the quality of the nominated work, and in particular writers who are known to be more on the politically conservative side of things.
Here’s what I have to say about that: You know what? Don’t do that. Instead, take a look at the work, read the work, and if you like the work, place it appropriately on your ballot. Because why shouldn’t you? Regardless of how a work got on the ballot (or more accurately in this case, how you think it got onto the ballot), it’s there now. Read the books and stories. If you like them, great. If you don’t, there’s plenty of other excellent work on the ballot for your consideration.
Let me put it this way: In the last year, Larry Correia and Brad Torgersen have teed up on me several times in blog posts and comments, for their own various reasons. They don’t have my politics or my world view in a lot of things. But I’m looking forward to reading their nominated works, and if one of them really catches my fancy, and I don’t see why I wouldn’t vote for it. Correia and Torgersen disagreeing with me or trying to score points off of me for their own purposes isn’t really enough to dissuade me from giving their work a fair shake. It’s a pretty simple thing as far as I’m concerned. Your mileage may vary, of course. But this is my mileage.
* I noted on Twitter that I was delighted that yet again the Fan Writer Hugo category will have a new winner this year — no one nominated this year has won it before. It really does make me happy this has been the path of this particular Hugo category.
Aaaaaand those are my immediate Hugo thoughts. Your thoughts on my thoughts?
Here are the nominees this year!
1923 valid nominating ballots were received and counted from the members of LoneStarCon 3, Loncon 3 and Sasquan. (1889 Electronic and 34 Paper.)
BEST NOVEL (1595 ballots)
BEST NOVELLA (847 ballots)
BEST NOVELETTE (728 ballots)
BEST SHORT STORY (865 ballots)
Note: category has 4 nominees due to a 5% requirement under Section 3.8.5 of the WSFS constitution.
BEST RELATED WORK (752 ballots)
BEST GRAPHIC STORY (552 ballots)
BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION (LONG FORM) (995 ballots)
BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION (SHORT FORM) (760 ballots)
Note: category has 6 nominees due to a tie for 5th place.
BEST EDITOR – SHORT FORM (656 ballots)
BEST EDITOR – LONG FORM (632 ballots)
BEST PROFESSIONAL ARTIST (624 ballots)
Note: category has 6 nominees due to a tie for 5th place.
BEST SEMIPROZINE (411 ballots)
BEST FANZINE (478 ballots)
BEST FANCAST (396 ballots)
Note: category has 7 nominees due to a tie for 5th place.
BEST FAN WRITER (521 ballots)
BEST FAN ARTIST (316 ballots)
JOHN W. CAMPBELL AWARD FOR BEST NEW WRITER (767 ballots)
Award for the best new professional science fiction or fantasy writer of 2012 or 2013, sponsored by Dell Magazines (not a Hugo Award).
*Finalists in their 2nd year of eligibility.
Congrats to the nominees! I will have more comments on the slate later. Feel free to discuss the nominations in the comment thread.
Because it’s the birthday of my very good friend Kevin Stampfl, who back in the day loved him some Iron Maiden. And why not? They’re good at what they do. This is a very 80s video, incidentally.
Happy birthday, Kevin!
On account that it is also her birthday. Allow me to go first and to simply say that I can’t imagine what my life would be without her; probably it would me being alone in a small apartment, eating cold cereal from the box and weeping, every day, all the time. And, yeah. Don’t want that. So thank you, Krissy, for being my wife and making my life a joy every single day you are with me. I love you.
If you wish to leave my wife birthday greetings, by all means feel free to do so in the comments.
(Photo: Kyle Cassidy)
Some lovely books and ARCs in this stack — and now I want to know which look desirable to you. Share in the comments!
Keeping once again in the basic template established for the OMW books by the publisher. I am assuming that these two gentlemen are Harry Wilson and Hart Schmidt. In which case, they’re kinda more dreamy than I imagined them. Which is fine!
I’ve been talking about sexism recently — my own and others — and I have to say I’ve found it increasingly exasperating to see the massively defensive response of “not all men are sexist” that inevitably follows. One, because it’s wrong (more on that in a bit), and two, because the more I see it, the more it’s obvious that it’s a derail, as in, “Holy shit any discussion of sexism makes me uncomfortable so I want to make it clear I am not sexist so I’ll just demand recognition that not all men are sexist so I can be lumped in with those men who are not sexist and I can be okay with myself.”
(I also note a fair correlation between the men who demand acknowledgment that men are not all sexist and the men who show some general hostility either to women or to the idea that they are being actively sexist through their own words or actions. But then, I don’t really find this correlation all that surprising.)
The silver lining to this exasperation is that it’s been making me think about sexism, and the more general concept of discrimination, more carefully. At the crux of the “Not all… ” formulation, it appears, is the (honest or otherwise) assertion that in order to participate in discrimination, one has to actively and with malice aforethought choose to discriminate — in order to be sexist, one has to be a sexist, in other words (or to be racist, one has to be a racist; in order to be homophobic, one has to be a homophobe, etc).
And, well. No. In fact, you don’t actively have to go out of your way to discriminate in order to participate in discrimination — that’s kind of the point. Some of that is already built into the system that everyone is part of. You get it, positively and/or negatively, no matter what; everyone does. You may then also decide to support discrimination in one way or another, and that’s the thing that changes you from being (for example) sexist to being a sexist. But to deny that baseline discrimination we all deal with because you’re not by your own lights actively trying to promote that discrimination is silly. It’s there, it’s real and it’s measurable, and you take part in it, one way or another.
But where does the line get drawn between being [x]ist and being an [x]ist, as it were? Let me posit what I think are four (very) general states of discrimination, as a way to suss out my own thoughts on the matter.
(And here is where I add the following disclaimers: One, these are my own thoughts, not rigorous research. Two, people who routinely and rigorously study discrimination may find this delightfully naive. Three, I acknowledge that the following framework is both very general, simplified and “chunky,” as in, reality is a great deal more subtle than four easy-to-conceptualize levels. Four, this is a work in progress. Got it? Okay, then:)
So, here are four basic levels of discrimination as I see them, each building on from the other, each with generally increasing negative effect on those discriminated against:
Level One: Ambient – This is the discrimination that is given to you, by society in general, by the particular groups you participate with in our general society, and by immediate influences (i.e., family, friends, teachers and authority figures). Your own ambient mix of discriminatory things will vary due to all of the above, as you drill down from the general to the specifics of your own life. But that doesn’t mean you avoid discrimination (or its effects); it merely dials in what particular discriminatory things you are more strongly influenced by. Everyone is influenced by the ambient discrimination, which is why, in fact, everyone is sexist, racist, classist, etc — we all got given this stuff early, often and before we could think about it critically. This is the baggage we deal with.
Level Two: Advantageous – This is the level where you realize that sometimes discrimination works for you, and you take advantage of it… or at least, are willing uncritically to accept the benefits of it. You may or may not wish to acknowledge that you have these certain advantages, and when you do acknowledge it, you may or may not try to assert that those advantages don’t apply to you specifically, i.e., that you didn’t get an automatic benefit due to discrimination and instead what benefit you’ve accrued is due to something intentional about you (“No one ever gave me anything! I worked for it all!”). But your recognition and acceptance of this advantageous discrimination is neither here nor there about a) whether it works for you, b) whether by participating in it, you’re helping to reinforce that discrimination.
Level Three: Argumentative – This is the level where you take on board the idea that discrimination is desirable in some way (usually in a way that benefits you directly, or benefits a group you belong to, so you accrue general and indirect benefits), and as a result you argue for and/or defend discrimination. This can take on a number of forms, from the relatively benign (the “not all…” argument) to the not at all benign (arguing that being a slave in the US was not so bad, or that women aren’t mentally composed to do math or physics or computer programming, or that Muslims are naturally inclined toward violence, as examples), and the use of rhetorical process to drive a discussion of discrimination either away from recognition of discrimination, or toward a different topic in order to control and contain the discussion.
Level Four: Antagonistic – The level where you choose to actively set yourself against others due to their differences from you, by (as examples and not limited to) acting to obtain or calling for limits to their freedoms (or to maintain current, actively discriminatory practices), actively minimizing their participation in society, either in general or in a specific subset, threatening them by word or by action and/or encouraging others to do the same.
So: I am sexist in that I have a raft of general assumptions and expectations about women and men that I got just from living in the world that I do; some things seem “girly” and “womanly” to me while some other things seem “boyish” and “manly.” But I am willing to argue that I am probably not a sexist, because I don’t, for example, believe that men have inherent rights and privileges that women should not, nor do I believe women’s roles are lesser or subservient to men’s, nor do I, say, threaten them with rape or violence when they say or do something I dislike.
But of course that’s an easy formulation, isn’t it. We don’t really do or say anything useful if we only acknowledge the most extreme examples of discrimination as evidence that someone is a bigot in one way or another. This is part and parcel of the “not all…” assertion — one, that the ambient discrimination in the world doesn’t count when considering someone’s discriminatory assumptions and behavior, and two, that somewhere along the way, there’s a big, bright line at which one can say “hey, now you’re being a sexist/racist/homophobe/whatever.”
And, you know, I don’t think it works that way. Ambient discrimination makes us discriminatory. We all do it; we’re all that way because that’s what we get all around us. What makes us not a sexist, or a racist, or a homophobe, or whatever, is what we choose to do when we recognize our discriminatory behaviors or attitudes (or have them pointed out by others). If you work to minimize them going forward, in yourself and in your larger world, then you’re probably not a sexist/racist/homophobe/whatever. If you sort of shrug, and go, yeah, well, that’s life, then, yes. You’re totally a sexist/racist/homophobe/whatever. You don’t have to wait to claim that title, or have it justifiably applied to you.
(And yes, before the angry straight white male brigade descends, this applies to everyone, not just straight white men. If you’re not aware of it already, please bone up on the concept of intersectionality. But let’s also not pretend that straight white dudes aren’t first among equals when it comes to these issues, please. You all know my thoughts on my own social group by now.)
So. Am I, John Scalzi, sexist, and racist, and other forms of discriminatory? Yup. That stuff got built in, mostly when I was young and/or wasn’t paying attention. It happened to you, too. Sorry. But I also try to work against being a sexist, and a racist and other such things, by seeing those things in myself and working to correct them, and to correct them outside of myself as well. Am I work in progress? Yes. I’m not perfect at it, either. I show my ass from time to time. But I’m happy to keep on progressing. It’s a lifetime effort.
What I hope is that because of that effort, the ambient discrimination that people will get born into and participate in will suck less in the future than it does now. That’s what I can do, and what you can do, too.
Subterranean Press has has more news of the signed, limited edition of the “Unlocked” novella — and if you pre-order in the next couple of days, US shipping will be free. Free, I tell you! SubPress does excellent versions of my work, and this one will be no exception — I’ve already seen the layout and it’s lovely.
Remember that the printed version of “Unlocked” actually is limited, as in, once this signed edition is all gone, there will be no more. So if you want one, move fast. Here’s the pre-order page.
Also, for those of you interested in getting a signed version of Lock In, but are uncertain if you will be able to track me down on my tour, SubPress is also offering pre-orders of signed versions of the novel – i.e., I will haul my carcass to the SubPress offices, sign a bunch of copies of Lock In, and then they will ship a copy to you, should you be inclined to have one. And you do! I know you do. I can see it in your eyes.
You kids have fun with this. I’ll be back later.
I’m sad to say that for various reasons, including ones involving my personal (i.e., non-public) schedule, I’m just not going to be able to make it to GaymerX2, where I had been scheduled to be a Boss of Honor.
This makes me very sad, because, one, I was really looking forward to it, and two, everyone who will be there is certain to be having a whole bunch of fun and I won’t be there to have it with them. But some things you just can’t avoid, and this is one of them.
Before anyone asks, no, this announcement is unrelated to this bit of news. This was something else entirely, and I had been in communication with the GaymerX2 folks about it for a while. Tried to make it work, and sadly, just couldn’t. The GaymerX2 people were very cool during the whole situation, however, and I thank them for it.
Sorry to everyone who was looking forward to seeing me at GaymerX2 this year. If it means anything, I hope to be in the Bay Area for a public event at some point this year — perhaps on tour, or at another event if not. Either way, I’ll hopefully see you all before the end of the year.
And for those who are wondering: Why, yes, I totally encourage you to show up for GaymerX2, even though I will not be able to attend. It’ll still be a ton of fun. And that’s a lot of fun to be had.
As you all know, I wrote a novel called Lock In, which is a near future thriller, set in a time where a disease called “Haden’s Syndrome” has caused millions to be trapped in their own bodies. That novel is going to be out on August 26 (August 28 in the UK).
What you don’t know is that I also wrote a novella, “Unlocked,” that’s set in the same world. This novella is an oral history of Haden’s syndrome: How it started, how it spread, what it did to the people who contracted it and to the nation and the world as we scrambled to contain the disease and then help those afflicted.
I wrote the novella early this year, and for two reasons. One, while Haden’s syndrome is pretty well addressed in Lock In, the novel takes place in a time where the world has been living with the disease for decades, which means society has already made the changes that come with such a momentous event. I wanted to explore how we got there, and the novella let me do that. Two, I’ve been wanting to do something in the “oral history” format for years — I actually intended to do a two-book series in the format before World War Z came out and took the wind out of those particular sails — and exploring the progress of Haden’s syndrome offered a fantastic opportunity to let me finally get into that format.
So I wrote the novella, mostly for fun and my own curiosity. When it was done, I realized it would make for a great way to lead people into the world of Lock In. Tor agreed, which is why it’s releasing “Unlocked” as an eBook on May 7. All the details for that, including how to pre-order are here.
But wait! There’s more! For those of you who prefer a printed version, there will also be a limited edition signed hardcover version from Subterranean Press — more information on that (including for pre-order) to come. And if you prefer your novellas in audio, that version will be coming from Audible in the reasonably near future as well. More information on that one, too, as we go along. So, really: Whatever format you like your Scalzi, it’s going to be available for you.
I’m very excited that “Unlocked” is getting out to you. It was a blast to write and I think you’ll get caught up in how the world you know today changes into the world of Lock In. I can’t wait for you to experience it.
Oh, boy, Tax Day! That’s when I find out how much my refund is!
(Writes check to IRS, grumbles)
Well, at least I got this check today:
That’s right! I am now verified on Twitter! It’s your assurance that whenever I write about gremlins, it’s really me, and not, say, Mary Robinette Kowal, posing as me for nefarious purposes. And what a relief that is. For all of us.
For those of you who were wondering how my panel at the LA Times Festival of Books went this weekend, there’s a short writeup of it here. It’s accurate with the small clarification that that I didn’t say I wrote in screenplay format, rather that my books often have three-act structure (which is a standard screenplay format).
As one does after a fun and productive weekend in Los Angeles. Or at least as I do. You may do differently. Hey, I don’t judge.
Whatever back to full speed tomorrow.
So all the business I have going on in real life means I won’t be here much today. Enjoy your Saturday anyway.