Constituting an Official Bitch and Moan at io9.com

Dear io9.com:

So, your Hugo award nomination coverage consists of one paragraph three days after the Hugos nods were announced — no list, no commentary, no snark about the nominees. Meanwhile, your coverage of a painting of a bear with a cannon rates three graphs.

Thanks for letting us on the literary side of science fiction know how we rate these days.

Kisses,

Scalzi

83 thoughts on “Constituting an Official Bitch and Moan at io9.com

  1. Well that’s just silly. The last paragraph of the bear is only one sentence long. And I mean, everyone’s blogging about the Hugos but the bear, now man, that’s breaking news.

  2. I don’t know. Mecha-Bears with Cannons are just so third week of February, if you know what I mean. I thought we were past them now.

  3. I find myself continually disappointed with io9. About 80% of the posts are on the order of, “The 10 Coolest Guns in Sci Fi Movies!!!!!” with comments expressing outrage on missed favorites. The only columnist worth anything is Kevin Kelly.

  4. I was checking in regularly when they first started up but now I only go there if someone mentions a story. Meh.

    OTOH, I do like me some robo-bears!

  5. Oh sure, you can all cast aspersions now, but when the Mecha-Bears arrive with the cannons, I know that I will be prepared to fight (or serve) them, while you all cower in underground bunkers with your books and tiaras.

  6. Y’all are misinterpreting that image. Given that the post in question is clearly titled, “Robo-Bear Armed with a Canon [sic] Awaits His Perfect Shot,” it’s obvious, from the dictionary definition, that he’s got a group of literary works that are generally accepted as representing the field of science fiction contained within the object that is being mistaken for a firearm. You are criticizing io9 for not talking about the Hugos, when they’ve made a whole post centered around a picture of a mecha-bear wielding the complete collection of past Hugo winners! Jeez, some people just want to criticize before thinking…

  7. IO9.com is less a news site, and more like E! Entertainment TV from the universe next door where everyone is obsessed with scifi instead of celebrities.

    That said, I do enjoy their movie and tv coverage.

  8. All I’m saying is, you wouldn’t even know the Mecha-Bears were coming to eat our children if it wasn’t for io9.

    You also wouldn’t know that there are also deadly zombie strippers coming to get us. What’s your laser-wielding dog going to do about zombie strippers? I don’t know, because io9 hasn’t told me yet!

  9. Trying to piece together the clues here. Are you saying SF also comes in … books?

    ::ponder::

    You mean like the PDF Steven Brust made about Mal and the gang?

  10. I am very relieved that your akita will have lasers. Frickin’ lasers, right? Because I think that’s important. You could get some of that cool armor for the cats, too. Cats with cool armor and frickin’ lasers beat bears with canons everytime.

  11. @John #8: Dude, maybe it’s just me, but Akitas seem to be a bit small for hunting bear. Unless they know how to drive a tank, of course. Now, teddybears, maybe they’d hunt those without depleted uranium sabot rounds…but they’d still need some close air support.

    Also, for whatever reason, io9 is blocked by the corporate intranet. So I can’t even see their mecha-cannon-bear geekwankery. And that kinda saddens me — I could use a good laugh today.

  12. Justme:

    Are you mad? Cats in armor? The whole point of cats is that they’re totally your ninja assault team.

    Cats in armor. Really. I just don’t know what to say.

    Dan Bailey:

    I can neither confirm nor deny Kodi’s tank-driving abilities, except to say those are not tank treads you see on my lawn. They are, uh, natural soil deformation. Brought on by sediment collapse. Yeah, that’s it.

    Wil:

    The great thing about zombie strippers? They leave you tips.

  13. John @8:
    Let’s review what Neal Stephenson taught us if we made it about 7/8s of the way thru the Baroque Cycle. It takes 3 poodles and a giant Russian to take down a bear sans cannon, if a bunch of Quakers throw horse guts to distract the bear. I’ll spot the Akita as a poodle and a half, but you’ll need lots of lasers to make up for another Akita and a giant Russian.

    Wow. I think I pulled my nerd muscle on that one.

  14. io9 has managed to actually exceed my expectations for cheese and lack of depth. It’s like watching a train wreck. And I *know* people working there.

    Ugh.

  15. Now you need to write the screenplay for “Laser Akitas and Ninja Cats vs. Zombie Strippers with Mecha-Bears” and sell it to the Sci-Fi Channel.

  16. One quick perusal tells me these twerps are all about the pretty and the eye candy, and not about serious literature. I agree, the snarkoff is better saved for more weighty topics.

  17. Well, y’know, being a magazine about the whole of Speculative Fiction, they are entitled to post on a range of different aspects… besides, Hugo fans can gorge themselves on any of the six (often not short) entries you have made on the topic since Friday! *insert appropriate smiley here*

  18. @ # 26 – Instant karma points for the thought of zombie strippers stripping to TMBG’s “Fingertips”

  19. I consider myself to be a literary SF kind of guy. That being said, I followed the link to the artist’s website and think the work is pretty cool.

    I am not familiar enough with io9.com to know whether or not to be upset with them. It appears to be a very media-centered site, so the very fact that they mentioned the Hugos could be seen as “Isn’t it wonderful that they’re exposing media SF fans to literary SF.”

  20. Tudor Lewis:

    Yes, it could be seen like that. Or, alternately, it could be seen as “it would be nice if you spent as much time talking about writing awards as you spent talking about armed cybernetic bears.” SF Lit, I would argue, shouldn’t be seen just as sort of a kooky aside to whatever SciFi Channel’s up to today.

  21. Gianluca:

    Yeah, those cats are doing it wrong.

    Arachne Jerico:

    To be sure, I like io9; heck, I even have my own tag over there, so I can’t complain too much, personally. But, you know. I think a single paragraph on the Hugos three days after they come out is kind of dropping the ball. One wouldn’t expect Defamer, as another example of the Gawker empire, to sort of casually gloss over the Oscars three days after they hit.

  22. Given that the majority of the commentary was ripping on the misuse of “canon” where a non-spelling-crippled person would have correctly used “cannon” or even “field artillery piece” … the complaint is silly. This is the attack of the grammarsnarks, not a coherent, intelligent response to the picture.

    On the other hand, the lack of commentary on the Hugos would mostly mean “AGGH!! I have to THINK about this,” and mean that either they are not in conflict with what was chosen, or have to read and cogitate. Or, yeah, don’t care, which reflects my own take on the Hugos; as a self-selected must-pay-to-participate group, Hugo voters are even more rarefied a group than the Screen Actor’s Guild.

    I bought and read your stuff because it was recommended by friends, which unfortunately you cannot mount on an oak stand and display in a case.

  23. Believe me, I feel the pain. I think back to college in the 90s, and being part of the university SF club. When the photographer from the school paper showed up and the club President suggested his bookcase as a backdrop, he was asked if he had a model of the Enterprise he could pose with.

  24. See, there’s a reason I don’t have iO9 in my RSS feeder: they struck me as kind of prone to dumbosity when they debuted, and things like this don’t surprise me one bit. Hugo award coverage would presumably involve some degree of thoughtfulness and literacy–you know, the kind of things you don’t really need if you’re going to feature Futurama displays made of out of Legos and a thrown together list of “15 Great Movies You Didn’t Know Were Science Fiction” (because, you know, as it turns out, none of them except possibly one actually are science fiction).

    Don’t get me wrong: I love Futurama and I love Legos. But that’s the kind of thing you get one nice picture of on Boing Boing and then you move right along to a more articulate capsule article about DRM in Canada or something about 4E D&D, y’know? I mean, basically iO9 is not only shallow (as far as I can tell), but it’s not even particularly good at being shallow.

    Oh, and bears with power armor and laser cannons is totally 1993, not last February. “Space Is Gud Fer Berz” was an in-joke among my friends throughout our college years and would probably still get a snort if it was trotted out again.

  25. I stopped at my local library on the way home tonight and picked up all 4 of the books that are not out in paperback. I read Rollback over the weekend (since it is the one that is out in paperback) and started The Last Colony while eating dinner. I DO plan to vote this year!

  26. John, please. IO9 is what it is, but to somehow imply that the Hugos make a difference in the life of the average sci-fi fan (literary fan or not) is simply silly, IMO. Most of us simply run out and buy the latest Honor Harrington book, and we’re HAPPY about it, ya dig? If you’ve got the spaceships and the laser guns, it’s all good; there’s no need to get this Hugo guy involved; he sounds kinda mean.

  27. For those whom might be uninformed the so called “Hugo Awards” are named for the grossly mutated Hugo Gernsback whom originated the term “scientifiction”. That term was quickly dropped since it seemed French and the world has since used the much more manly “science fiction”. Io9 has in it’s use of a bear has recapitulated the mythic standard of Igor, the quintessential gargoyle-like assistant to Herr Frankenstein unlike the unseemly minion of Dracula… Renfield. Ah the irony, it burns like a touch of the true cross or a sunny afternoon. The so called “Hugo Awards”, reflect the unhappy adulation of the “fans” not the artistic merit of the nominated work. Perhaps it should be said that the nominated works resemble the unwashed masses in their chemical drenched, dog eat dog capitalistic nightmare. When you pass the MSG please flush.

  28. Looking at the io9 comments, even though they linked to where you could read several of the nominated stories, the only Hugo-related comments are about the Dramatic Presentation nominees. I expect that’s a function both of io9′s specific audience and of the proportion of the people who are interested in SFF who are also interested in Hugo-nominated works.

    In terms of estimating that proportion, I see that US-based Worldcons run around 5,000 attendees, Dragon*Con (a media-heavy convention) runs 30,000 attendees, and Comic-Con some 125,000 attendees.

  29. Tumbleweed:

    “IO9 is what it is, but to somehow imply that the Hugos make a difference in the life of the average sci-fi fan (literary fan or not) is simply silly, IMO.”

    Even if this were true, they’re one third as important to the average sci-fi fan than cannon-laden mecha bears? Don’t think so.

    But also: Bah. Having been the recipient of a Hugo nod before, I’m in a position to tell you that it makes a difference. Even people who don’t read science fiction have at least a vague idea that the Hugo award (or a nomination thereof) is a nice thing to have. And for those who do, it’s a nice topic of conversation.

    Also also: Re: “well, they’re just interested in media stuff anyway” — Not really. io9′s mission is to cover everything in science fiction (just ask ‘em). Flubbing the Hugos is flubbing their mission (they also flubbed the Nebulas, as far as I can tell, and unlike the Hugos, I don’t have a dog in that particular race).

  30. I like me some io9, but yeah, wish the books section was more in depth, with reviews and news of what’s good and what’s upcoming. Still, I visit it everyday and am amused by a lot of the posts. Can’t complain about that.

  31. Wouldn’t lap dances be a bit uncomfortable for the patrons of the zombie stripper’s establishment?

    “Keeping your johnson, yeah, well, that costs extra.”

    You just winced and checked your package, didn’t you?

  32. Be careful, guys. The panserbjørne work for Charlton Heston. He’s been working on the right to arm bears for years!

  33. From my few perusals of this site, I’ve come to the conclusion that it exists basically to snark about sf tv and films, based on a collective memory stretching back no further than 1976. Silly me, I never heard of this site until last week, when Julie told me they’d mentioned a Quantum Leap newsletter I edited in 1991. In fact they’d cropped and reused my image of that issue, without attribution, as an example of an “early” fanzine. Do they not know that Frederick Pohl was putting out fanzines in the 1950s, or does it not count because there’s no hot Luke and Leia action?

  34. Maybe they need more books columnists who want to do in-depth stuff; that means banging the posting frequency down a bit, I think, but then again, experienced bloggers can turn out tuned posts like that, with just enough left out to encourage interaction.

    I could understand them lacking in such. But I don’t think they’ve got any job openings.

  35. Everyone knows (or should know) that io9 is the Scifi Channel of speculative fiction blogs: Occasional glimmers of originality buried in a cesspool of drivel.

    Not too surprising considering that io9 is a sister site of Defamer and Gawker. The bar’s set pretty low, but io9 still manages to slide underneath.

  36. “Even if this were true, they’re one third as important to the average sci-fi fan than cannon-laden mecha bears? Don’t think so.”

    Uhm, the Hugos are about 1/100,000,000,000th as important to me as cannon-laden mecha bears, John, and I guarantee you, if you were to choose between a news story on the latest Hugo winners and a news story about a cannon-laden mecha bear, you’d probably watch the news story about the cannon-laden mecha bear. And if you didn’t, we’ll we’d hafta take away all awards you’ve won for sci-fi, because, DUDE, you’re not just not getting it.

    I think I’d call my cannon-laden mecha bear ‘Coke.’ Well, either that or ‘Pooh.’

  37. Tumbleweed, I think you just have an unnatural obsession with mecha bears, and you need an intervention. Possibly involving laser-bearing (ha!) Akitas.

  38. Yep, io9 is more than a bit heavy on the “media” side. And if I have to read one more post about Lost, I might have to scream :P

    But it’s a Gawker* site, eh ? And for all of that, it’s still fun – even if I’ve gotten many more decent SF book recommendations here.

    * and that ain’t all bad. lifehacker is a daily read

  39. Hey, sorry I didn’t respond to this earlier. We’re sorry we didn’t cover the Hugos sooner, but I think we made the right call doing it as a news brief. My policy is generally to cover news briefly, unless we have something unique to add to it. That goes for movie and TV news, as well as book news. The Hugos are the sort of thing that everybody covers, and my “value add” was mostly pointing out what nominated stories you could read online for free. The only difference between this and a movie news post is that there might have been a video if it was about a movie, which would have made it seem bigger by default.

  40. We cover books all the time, including John’s books. And yes, we also cover science fiction art — such as the cool picture of a mecha bear with a giant camera (the “canon” was a pun by the artist). In fact, we’ve just hired Ann and Jeff VanderMeer to write a column for io9 about science fiction art.

    One of our most popular posts ever was this one, about twenty science fiction novels that will change your life:
    (http://io9.com/361597/the-twenty-science-fiction-novels-that-will-change-your-life)

    As an avid reader of science fiction, I personally don’t think of the Hugos as being the most important measure of what counts as worthy science fiction writing. Or even a good measure.

    I love the person named JB above who said he hates the io9 posts about ray guns, and then says the only person he likes to read on the site is Kevin Kelly. Kevin is the guy who WROTE the post on ray guns. Maybe you should actually read our site before wanking nastily it?

  41. Charlie Jane Anders:

    “The Hugos are the sort of thing that everybody covers”

    Heh. Yes, a quick trip through Google News shows the massive saturation the Hugo Awards get in traditional news media.

    As I’m sure you know, io9 gets 75K+ visitors a day, which means that it’s one of the most visited — if not the most visited — SF-oriented site on the net, and one expects that a fair number of the people who do visit it are not part of the subset of “everybody” who knows about the Hugos. It might be nice for the Hugos to get coverage out to people who are not already in on the news.

    Note that I am fully aware that the Hugo folks putting out the news on Good Friday doesn’t help matters. Be that as it may, if SF is your remit, the Hugos rate more coverage than a tangential graf.

    Annalee:

    “As an avid reader of science fiction, I personally don’t think of the Hugos as being the most important measure of what counts as worthy science fiction writing. Or even a good measure.”

    Well, Annalee, given that there are several decades of fans, publishers and writers who might disagree with you that it is not a worthy measure, I would love to see an io9.com entry from you explaining why. You know, one longer than a single paragraph.

    And while we’re at it, if not the Hugos, why don’t you cover the Nebula awards? Or the Philip K Dick awards? Or the Prometheus awards? Or the BSFA awards? O the Clarke awards? Or the Tiptrees? Or the Lambdas? Are none of them relevant? Or do you just have a hate-on for SF lit awards in general?

    And aside from that, independent of your own opinion, are they not news?

  42. “And why we’re at it, why don’t you cover the Nebula awards, too? Or the Philip K Dick awards? Or the Prometheus awards?…”

    If they knew the winners in advance they’d have no problem writing about them before the events.

  43. Petronius:

    Well, I don’t know about that. I’m poking at Annalee and Charlie on this particular topic but I think in general io9.com is a perfectly fine site with interesting stuff, and I think they have an interest in tapping in to what matters in the genre. To repeat again, I like io9.

    That said, I’m not particularly convinced at the arguments presented here about the lack of coverage. I suspect personally that they were caught a bit flat-footed by the Good Friday release of the Hugo nominations.

  44. I’m just feeling particularly snarky today. Maybe because I was off the interwebs for a few days and when I got back it seemed like every other io9 post in my backlog was a spoiler.

  45. Hey Petronius, we do our absolute best to keep spoilers below the fold in posts, and label them as such… That said, we do love to post spoilers, it’s true.

    John, it’s absolutey true that we were caught flat footed by the Hugos coming out on Friday. I was probably also in my usual crazy end-of-week braindead state. I will definitely make it more of a priority to keep up with awards stuff. I have the excellent sfawardswatch blog in my reader, and check it pretty often. I’ll definitely keep more of an eye out.

    And I’m sure we will touch on the Tiptree Awards, since I’m on the jury this year.

    That said, I’m still not sure how we would add more than just the facts to our coverage of awards like the Hugos. I don’t really feel comfortable writing a mean post about how such-and-such book didn’t deserve to get nominated. Unless I really do feel strongly about one of the nominees, which I didn’t this year. If you, or someone else, writes such a post, we’ll try to link to it.

  46. They may claim to cover all of sf, but let’s face it: even a middlin’ successful movie takes in orders of magnitude more money than a best-selling book, and they know where their advertising dollars are coming from. So I look at io9 for its movie/tv snarkiness, and I stick to the written-word-centric site for news of the written word (like, say, my own…)

  47. Charlie Jane Anders:

    “I don’t really feel comfortable writing a mean post about how such-and-such book didn’t deserve to get nominated.”

    Coward!

    (No, no, I’m kidding. And I agree, of course.)

    Re: Good Friday notification — yeah, it does present problems. It was a good day to release information within Fandom, thanks to a large number of conventions over the Easter weekend; for everyone else, not so much.

    SFAwardswatch is indeed an excellent resource. Enjoy!

  48. It’s not that I don’t like spoilers per se (Psst! Darth Vader is Luke’s father! And Princess Leia is Luke’s sister!), but that so much I read this morning after a few days away seemed to be spoilers.

  49. I was going to cut them some slack re: their lax Hugo reporting, but then I discovered that they really, really liked Doomsday. Loved it in fact. Whereas I–something of an expert on post-apocalyptic fiction–thought it was one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. (I have a sort of mini-review here: http://www.johnjosephadams.com/?p=1523 .)

    I think Battlefield Earth is still worse, but I don’t know, Doomsday comes pretty close.

  50. John, three words: “Old Bear’s War”

    You’ll be a bizillionnaire in no time at all. Give the people what they want. Just think of the merchandising!

  51. Maybe more to the point–it’s hard to get excited about it knowing what a tiny fraction of potential voters vote for it. I’m always happy for the nominees–as I am happy for you–but at Amazon I didn’t exactly have my bosses frothing at the mouth to cover it. I did a basic post and that was it. Coverage would increase, I think, if it was perceived to be more widely voted on. As it is, it seems more and more like a tiny island in the middle of a vast sea of genre work, sometimes latching on to what’s cool that year and sometimes not. In terms of pop culture, it’s got nil appeal. And I say that having been nominated one year and being very excited and caught up in it all.

    BUT, I cannot see io9′s point about Doomsday!!

    Jeff VanderMeer

  52. Luther @ 51 said:

    “Be careful, guys. The panserbjørne work for Charlton Heston. He’s been working on the right to arm bears for years!”

    Maybe he got that idea from Gordon Dickson. At

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Right_to_Arm_Bears

    “The Right to Arm Bears is a collection of Gordon R. Dickson’s three science fiction novellas that occur on the planet Dilbia, where humans and an alien race known as Hemnoids are trying to win the support of the native bear-like population”

    The three novellas were published in 1961, 1969, and 1971.

    George

  53. Well, I’m a big fan of the right to bare arms, and as such I am commenting without gloves… n’ I don’t care who knows it.

    I kinda concur with Jeff’s point, too. Perhaps it’s that I only vote for the WFC awards, but they’re the only ones that really interest me… don’t get me wrong – this is a flaw! I should (or… should I?) be interested in others. I’m just not! This is me being honest, not logical. In my defence, I’m not even *that* interested in the WFC Awards. Certainly not much past whether the banquet is going to be any good, n’ whether I can score a seat to watch it with some interesting pals…

  54. @John Scalzi What Charlie said about covering other awards as much as we covered the Hugos. Note that we didn’t cover movie awards at all. Honestly, I would much rather cover a book that has just come out, or do an author interview (which I’ve done a bunch of times) than cover awards.

    I’d love it if YOU would write a cranky screed about the Hugos so io9 could link to it.

    @Jeff VanderMeer Why oh why doesn’t anyone see the GENIUS of Doomsday? Am I the ONLY ONE who wants to see ninjas fighting punk rock cannibals fighting knights in armor fighting race cars? Sigh.

  55. @Annalee: That ray guns post was a stinker, agreed. But I still say KK is the only columnist who manages to convince me of his passion for SF. Everyone else — sorry, you too — seems a little flat.

    Karen Funk Blocher said it perfectly, if it wasn’t on a screen sometime in the past 30 years, it just doesn’t get the coverage it deserves.

    I will give io9 the tiniest smidgin of respect, however, not surprisingly unrelated to stuff on the tube — they introduced me to Iain Banks. Do more of this sort of thing and I’ll start liking you more.

  56. Annalee:

    “I’d love it if YOU would write a cranky screed about the Hugos so io9 could link to it.”

    What? And bite the hand that might give me a nifty rocket-shaped trophy? Madness!

    Alas, I don’t have any cranky screeds about the Hugos this year, but you never know. If something pops up in my brain and I set it down, I’ll ping you.

  57. Well, I for one would love to see someone make a concerted effort to actually get more of the people who are eligible to do so to vote for the awards, in all categories. THAT might be worthy of an inspirational screed, Mr. Scalzi.

    I was shocked and dismayed the first year I saw the pitiful voting stats–and I think even among people who care about the literary side of SF who attend WorldCons, there’s this perception that if you haven’t read it all, then you’re not qualified to vote. (Among other issues, obvs. And perhaps there’s no way to change this.) But, seriously, the lack of participation in nomming and especially voting is probably the biggest legitimate factor in any perception that the Hugos just ain’t that important these days.

    I also suspect the ballot would get more robust crops of nominations if more people were voting for the winners too.

    (Congrats on the nom(s), btw! It is awesome to be nominated, despite any of this–as Jeff V said–and you’re right that the award is “known” outside the field. In fact, people outside the field are probably just as, if not more, impressed by its importance, not knowing things like how few people bother to vote.)

  58. @JB Thanks for the love, although I don’t think Annalee was saying the raygun post was a stinker. I mean, she’s my editor, if she though it blew monkey chunks, she wouldn’t post it. I think she was just trying to point out the irony that you said the “Best Scifi Guns Evar ZOMG WTF!” posts were lame, and then went on to say I’m the only one worth anything… when I write a lot of those. What can I say, I love me my triviagasms.

    Having said all that JB, your check is in the mail.

  59. That should be thought, not though. Now I see why our commenters would love an “edit comment” button.

  60. Also, as yet another comment, and an aside, I read io9 every day, and I love the stuff Annalee and Charlie Jane put up all day. It’s a ton of scifi content, and they do the lion’s share of work on that site. However, we only launched in January, so we’re still getting our space-legs.

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