Category Archives: Uncategorized

On My Way to Gainesville

Hey! I’m back at the airport! Again! Yay?

Seriously, at some point there will be a month where I don’t have to do any travel and I won’t know what I will do with myself. That month this year: September. Yes, September is the only month in 2015 where I don’t have travel scheduled. I honestly didn’t know writing would involve so many planes.

Anyway, off to Gainesville, where tomorrow at 1pm I will be doing an event at the Alachua County Library main branch. Reading! Q&A! Signing! And stuff. If you’re in the area, see you there, hopefully. If you’re not in the area, I guess you will have to find something else to fill that empty hole in your lives. I suggest air hockey.

Big Idea Notice, Re: May and June (and July)

It is:

The May Big Idea slots are all filled. If you queried and I did not respond, a) sorry, I tried to respond to everyone, b) I have no more slots for this month.

There are still a few June Big Idea slots open. Go ahead and query.

You may start querying for July Big Idea slots on May 1st.

Thanks!

Hugos and Class

(Warning: Hugo neepery ahead. Ignore if you’re bored with the subject.)

As I’m musing on class today, I’d like to take a moment to address something I see being attempted by the Puppies, which is to cast the current Hugo contretemps as something akin to a class war, with the scrappy diverse underdogs (the Puppy slates) arrayed against “powerful, wealthy white men” such as myself, Patrick Nielsen Hayden and George RR Martin, the latter being a late addition to the non-existent SJW cabal; apparently we are now a cackling, finger-steepling triumvirate of conspiracy (See the link here at File770, which, again, has been invaluable as a repository of Hugo commentary this year).

So, let’s unpack this a bit.

One, I’m not entirely sure how much credit the Puppy slates should get for “diversity” when their most notable accomplishments are reducing the overall demographic diversity of the Hugo slate from the past few years, locking up five (previously six!) slots on the final ballot for the same straight, white, male author, and getting much of their “diversity” from conscripts to the slates, at least some of whom did not appear to have foreknowledge of their appearance there, and some of whom have since declined their nominations. Basically, if you’re going to argue diversity, you should probably not make the assertion so easily refutable by actual fact (it also helps not to have one of the primary movers behind the slates be an actual, contemptible racist and sexist).

Two, with regard to me, George and Patrick being “powerful, wealthy white men”: okay, sure, why not (I suspect Patrick, earning an editor’s salary in New York, might snort derisively that the idea that he is actually wealthy), but it’s interesting for any of the three of us to be criticized for these things by a partisan of slates whose dominance on the final Hugo ballot was accomplished substantially through the machinations of a fellow who is himself a scion of wealth and power, with enough dosh on hand to have his own publishing house (for which he is using the current Hugo contretemps as very cheap advertising), and, to a rather lesser extent, by a fellow who has many of the same advantages I or George do: Bestselling status, award nominations and, at least from public statements I can recall, a rather comfortable income from his work, largely from a company that shares at least one parent in common with one that publishes me, is a major house in the field, and is distributed by a major publishing conglomerate. Indeed, as it is an article of faith among the Puppies that I don’t actually sell all that many books, I suppose the argument could be made that he is more wealthy and powerful than I am! So well done him, and I wish him all the best in his career. But between these fellows and their circumstances, it’s difficult to cast this as a battle of underdogs versus wealth and privilege. There’s quite enough wealth and privilege to go around.

(There is at least one salient difference between me, Patrick and George, and the fellows I’ve mentioned, who share so many of the advantages that we three do. What that difference is I will leave as an exercise for the reader.)

Three, the Puppies drama isn’t about class, or privilege. It’s about envy and opportunism, and it’s also, somewhat pathetically, apparently about the heads of the Puppy slates being upset that once upon a time, they felt people in fandom were mean to them. As if they were the only people in the world that folks in science fiction fandom had ever been mean to. True fact: There is almost no one in science fiction and fantasy that someone else in fandom hasn’t been mean to at one time or the other. Science fiction fandom contains many people, including quite a few with questionable social skills. Not all of them are going to like you. Not all of them are going to like what you do. That’s not a conspiracy; that’s just a basic fact.

Here’s a thing: Look back in time to when I was nominated for Best Fan Writer. There was a whole lot of mean going on there; there are still fans who are righteously upset with me about it. Look at what people have said about each of the books of mine that have been nominated for Best Novel (look at what was said after I won it!). Look what people in fandom say about me on the Internet all the damn time. Hell, I remember rather vividly being at the Montreal Worldcon during my autograph session and this dude coming up, handing me Zoe’s Tale, and saying “It’s not really a good book and I don’t think it should be on the ballot and I don’t know why it is, but I guess since you’re here you might as well sign it for me.” Which I thought was really kind of amazing, in its own obnoxious way.

You know what I did? I signed his book. Because a) apparently he bought it and b) I’m not emotionally twelve years old. I can handle people being thoughtless and stupid and even occasionally intentionally mean in my direction, without deciding the the correct response is to burn down the Hugos, screaming I’ll show you! I’ll show you all! Which is, as it happens, seems to be another salient difference between me, Patrick and George, and these fellows. Unless you’re under the impression Patrick and George haven’t got their fair share of people disliking them, or saying mean things about them. They have; they’ve just decided to deal with it like the grown up humans they are.

So, no. This Hugo contretemps isn’t about class. But it might be, a little bit, about who has class, and how that affects what they do with their wealth and power.

The Elite Poor

Here’s an interesting story in the Boston Globe about poor students attending Ivy League schools and very often struggling with their new environment, not in the least because they are often the first in their families to attend college at all, and thus have little guidance from family and friends on how to navigate the academic surroundings. I found it interesting because their story is in many ways my story: I was the first of my family to go to college (indeed, I was the only one of my immediate family to finish high school), and I went to the University of Chicago, which is not an Ivy but is certainly an elite school (currently #4 in the US News “national university” ranking, tied with Columbia and Stanford). And I was poor when I went to school there.

That said, I had an advantage that many first generation college students don’t — for high school I attended a private boarding school (scholarship kid), which gave me four years to work out my class angst — and there was some — and also learn how to navigate issues of privilige, of which not the least was accepting the fact that I was starting the journey away from poverty, and the worldview it engenders, and toward privilege, and that worldview. I’ve said before that when one has been poor one never forgets what that’s like, and that remains true. But by the time I got to college, most of my really difficult battles on that score were settled. I was decently well assimilated into the elite world view.

And as it happens I think the elite world view — essentially, the belief that one of the people behind the levers of the world will be you — is not always a bad one to have. But it needs to be tempered by awareness of a world outside privilege, so one is not oblivious to the fact that the world outside your door is filled with people who don’t benefit from the same easy connection to power that you now have, thanks to networks and name brand recognition. This is where first-generation students at elite schools can make a difference. They can be a bridge between two worlds in a way few others can.

They have to make it through the transition first, however. And sometimes that’s hard.

Reminder: I’m in Gainesville, Florida This Saturday For a Library Event

Yes! I’ll be in Gainesville this Saturday, April 25 at 1pm at the Alachua County Library main branch, for a reading, Q&A and possibly a signing (the event is supposed to run from 1 to 2, but if they let me hang around after, I’ll sign some books). Here are the actual details. I’ll be reading from the upcoming book, The End of All Things, plus a couple of other bits. So if you want a speak preview of the book before almost anyone else, now you know what you’re doing with your weekend. See you there!

My Day in a Wheelchair

As most of you probably remember, when I was in Australia I tore a calf muscle and spent several days on crutches and have since been using a cane to get about. The good news is that everything’s healing as it should — at this point I’m keeping the cane around as a precautionary measure — so as far as Adventures in Temporary Disability go, this has been likely a best-case scenario.

That said, I did have one relatively brief moment where I got the smallest of glimpses of what I suspect mobility-impared people go through on a regular basis. It happened when I was traveling back from Australia to the US, and I, in an overabundance of caution, asked for (and got) wheelchair assistance to get around the two airports I was going to be in: Melbourne and Los Angeles.

I will note that initially, I felt weird about asking for a wheelchair at all — my self-image is as an able-bodied person, so even though I was literally hobbling my way around, some part of my brain was “you can totally walk around this airport with several heavy bags and a leg injury!” But I decided not to listen to that voice, because that voice was stupid, as reasonable-sounding as it was inside my brain at the time.

And a good thing, because in the case of both Melbourne and Los Angeles, a) the airports are huge, and b) in LA there was the additional hurdle of customs to go through. If I had had to walk it, I suspect I would still be in Melbourne’s airport, subsisting on free wifi and Violet Crumbles. I needed the wheelchair, self-image be damned.

For the record, the first part of the wheelchair experience was pretty sweet and exactly what able-bodied people think when they think disabled people get some sort of awesome superpower: I zipped through security and customs lines super-fast, faster than I had ever done so under my own steam. Also, the Melbourne wheelchair was modern and electric powered and I felt vaguely like Professor X being carted around on it (the Los Angeles wheelchair was probably older than I am and the poor woman they assigned to it could barely push me up ramps. I tipped her hugely at the end). It was just like being a first-class passenger! Only cheaper and I didn’t even have to get up!

But then — well. So, in Los Angeles I’m at the baggage carousel and my wheelchair is parked so I can point out my bags to the woman helping me. And of course bags are coming round and people are grabbing them, anxious to get them and get the hell out of the airport, which I can totally understand, since LAX is a terrible airport all the way around.

The thing is, when they’re grabbing them, the conveyor belt is still moving, and the people tugging at them are starting to cross into my personal space, shoving into my wheelchair and pushing it around to get at their bags, rather than, say, letting go of the goddamned piece of luggage for just a second to go around me and grab it on the other side. And when they did haul the luggage off the carousel, they managed to smack it across my wheelchair, knocking me about.

The first time it happened, I was, like, whatever. The second time I got annoyed. The third time, the guy hauling the piece of luggage off the carousel actually clocked me in the head with it, at which point I stopped being patient and said “Are you actually fucking kidding me?” to him.

At which point the man was entirely mortified and abjectly apologized, because in fact he was probably not a horrible person. He just didn’t seem to notice that as a guy in a wheelchair, I was mobility-impaired and couldn’t move out of his way like an able-bodied person could. He just didn’t factor me into his worldview, which at the time was laser-focused on getting his luggage and getting the hell out of Dodge. As a result, he literally battered me. Quite unintentionally, to be clear. But that didn’t make my head feel any better in the moment.

I should note that my half hour being shoved about at the baggage carousel (my bags were pretty much the last ones off the plane) does not give me any authority to speak to disabled issues at all. What I am saying, again, is that for a very brief and limited slice of time, I got to experience what it’s like to be someone who is disabled and how people — normal, presumably not terrible people — deal with them in their world. It wasn’t, shall we say, an entirely positive experience.

It is something, however, I’ll remember when I am fully able-bodied again.

A Thing to Remember When Dealing With Sad Puppies

[On second thought, this was not well-argued and I’m withdrawing it until I can more fairly and accurately make the point I want to make. Will update when I do. In the meantime, note to self: Don’t write screeds when operating under lack of sleep — JS]

Perth, Melbourne and Los Angeles: A Photo Set

I’ve spent most of April away, in Australia and Los Angeles, for conventions and for book festivals. Along the way I took a fair amount of pictures, including some lovely shots of the King’s Park Botanical Gardens in Perth and of Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. If you’d like to see them — and you would! You would! — they’re here. Enjoy!

Keeping Up With the Hugos, 4/20/15

Hey, look, I’m home! Finally I’ll have a Hugo post whose comment thread I’ll be around to moderate. So let me present some not-terribly-organized thoughts on the current state of things (if you missed my previous Hugo-related posts on Whatever, they are here, here and here; also, File770 is doing a fine job keeping up with all the latest on the Hugos):

* I probably shouldn’t admit that I’m having a schadenfreudilicious time watching Larry Correia and Brad Torgersen now desperately try to put sunlight between themselves and that toxic bigot Vox Day, but I’m not going to lie: I am, and also, it’s not working for them at all, as there is a fairly obvious evidence trail to suggest there was hardly any sunlight between them until Day suddenly became inconvenient. Correia and Torgersen are two guys who brought an arsonist to a party, and when the arsonist started setting fires — as arsonists are known to do! — they tried to argue, while the flames rose around them, that they were not actually complicit in burning down the house. The time to disassociate themselves from Day would have been two years ago, before Correia, in a fit of unfathomable stupidity, decided that bruiting both Day and his interminably mediocre story as Hugo-worthy, and palling about with the fellow online, wouldn’t come back to bite him square on the ass.

My own supposition as to why neither Torgersen nor Correia realized what a bad idea it was to beclown themselves with Day’s company is that the two of them were, simply, too naive to think that the enemy of their enemy (i.e., the non-existent social justice warrior conspiracy designed to keep fun stories and/or conservative writers from the Hugo ballot) could be anything other than their friend. Certainly Mr. Day would validate their conspiritorial world view — hadn’t he just been kicked out of SFWA merely for expressing an opinion unpopular with the SJWs, and not at all because of his own actions? — and when he’s not performing for the crowd (that is, the Internet) or talking about something that specifically touches on his own expansive set of bigotries, Day is a perfectly lucid person.

He’s a fine con man, in other words, and Correia and Torgersen fell for his con. Day was looking for a way back into relevance in science fiction and fantasy and they very happily gave it to him, and didn’t realize until after the Hugo awards were actually announced, and the backlash against the slates in full force, just how thoroughly they had been played. Torgersen delirously announced after the Hugos came out that the Puppies had “stolen the Enterprise”; he wasn’t aware that he and Correia were the redshirts in that scenario, or just how much and how closely the two of them would then be associated with Day’s feculent character and actions.

Well, now they know. At this point Correia and Torgersen have to decide whether they want to be known either as Day’s fellow travelers, or his useful idiots. Or both! It could be both. Neither of these options makes them look good; nor, obviously, fits with their own self-image of being Brave Men Fighting the Good Fight™. But in fact, they aren’t fighting a good fight, and in fact, they got played. So: Fellow travelers or useful idiots. These are the choices.

* Also, can we please now stop pretending that this whole Puppy nonsense began for any other reason than that once upon a time, Larry Correia thought he was going to win an award and was super pissed he didn’t, and decided that the reason he didn’t had to be a terrible, awful conspiracy against people just like him (a conservative! Writing “fun” fiction!), as opposed to, oh, the voters deciding they just plain liked something and someone else better? Can we stop pretending that a fellow who practically begs people to nominate his work three years running, hiding the begging behind an oh-so-thin veil of “let’s stick it to the SJWs!” doesn’t desperately crave the external validation that he thinks the award will bring? Can we stop pretending that this is anything other than a grown up child stomping his feet, screaming look at me, look at me, loooook at meeeeee? Because, come on, folks. We’re well past the point of genteel here. Let’s call it for what it is.

(And yes, I know, Correia declined his nomination for the Hugo this year. Let’s talk about that for a minute, shall we. It takes a very special sort of fellow to allow himself to be on a slate to get nominated, marshal people to nominate him for the award as part of a slate, and then decline — and write a big ol’ puffed-up piece about why he was declining, social justice warriors, blows against the empire, blah blah blah, yadda yadda. Yes, nice he declined the nomination and let someone else on the ballot. But it’s a little like wanting credit for rescuing a baby squirrel when you knocked the baby squirrel out of the tree to begin with.)

To be clear, the Puppy nonsense now isn’t just about Correia really really really wanting validation in the form of a rocketship; Day’s stealing the Puppy movement right out from under Correia and Torgerson has changed things up quite a bit, and it’s certainly true at this point that this little campaign is about a bunch of people trying to shit in the punchbowl so no one else can have any punch. But at the beginning, it was Correia hurt and angry that someone else got an award he thought was his, and deciding that it was stolen from him, rather than being something that was never his to begin with. And I’m sorry for him that it didn’t go his way. But actual grown human beings deal with disappointment in ways other than Correia has.

Correia can bluster about this all he likes; he’s a lovely online bully, and certainly he wishes to project that he’s a Tough Guy Saying Tough Things, Toughly™. But, eh. If he was actually who he wishes he could project himself as, the Sad Puppy thing would have never happened. And, ironically, he would be better positioned to win the awards he craved, because he wouldn’t be seen as a petulant whiner about such things. As it is, all we can do for him now is let him show us on the cartoon face pain chart how much Worldcon hurt him, and offer him soothing hugs until all his pain goes away.

* I notice that Vox Day has been enjoying his moment, and has taken to making pronouncements along the line of “award this slate of things I managed to push onto the ballot or GOD HELP ME I WILL DESTROY THE HUGOS FOREVER BWA HA HA HAH HA HA.” Because that’s the sort of asshole shitbug of human he is.

So, a couple of things to know about Vox Day. One, he’s the sort of person for whom any scenario will be seen as a victory condition; if he were to be set on fire and pushed in front of a speeding train, he would cackle about how this was exactly what he had planned right up until the moment of impact turned him into flaming bits of kibble. So obviously he’s going to babble on about how he plans to destroy the Hugos forever if he doesn’t get his way. Why wouldn’t he. That’s a victory condition! Plus, he’s getting attention. In the grand pantheon of People Acting Like Children About the Hugos, he’s the Grand Baby, and attention is what he wants.

Two: Fuck that dude. If everything is a victory condition for him — and it is — then worrying about what he’s going to do is sort of pointless. What is he going to do? Why, declare victory! Regardless! So you might as well do what you want. And if that means voting “No Award” in the categories where there are only Puppy nominees, then by all means follow your joy. Yes, he’ll say that’s what he planned all along. You could open a can of peas and he would maintain that you’re doing exactly what he wanted. He wants you to see him as a mastermind, rather than as a general failure whose only successes lie in being terrible to other people, and encouraging others to be the same.

So, yeah. Ignore his shtick; focus on your thing, as it involves the Hugos.

* Many people are convinced this is The End of the Hugos. Guys, no. It’s really not, and if I may say so, running around as if one’s hair is on fire about it, as satisfying as it is in the short term, isn’t going to be useful — and besides gives the Puppies their glee, which is a thing I don’t think they should have. I am not saying that you shouldn’t feel angry, or upset, or exasperated, or whatever you feel. Feel that! Own that! Be that! And also, decide to do something about it.

First, by voting for the Hugos this year. There are some very good reasons to “no award” everything that’s on a Puppy slate, including entire categories — I understand Brad Torgersen is suggesting anyone who does so is a gigantic asshole, but at this particular moment in time, and given how he’s just been played by Vox Day, he should probably not be declaring anyone else an asshole, lest that mirror be put up to him — but there are also reasons not to, and you’ll have to decide for yourself the best course of action. But that starts with voting, which one can do with a supporting membership to Sasquan.

Second, by deciding to be part of the conversation about what to do with the Hugos from here on out, which may or may not include tweaking the award rules to better handle slates (which are a bad idea) and obvious block voting (which is not good either). I should note that I’m not personally entirely convinced a wholesale change in voting rules is needed, because to some extent I see this as self-correcting — honestly, after this year, would anyone want to be on a slate, much less a Puppy slate? Who wants that sort of asterisk on their Hugo? — but it’s a conversation to have. Specifically, it’s a conversation to have at the WSFS business meeting, which will take place at this year’s Worldcon, Sasquan.

Third, by understanding that this is a process, and it will take time. If a rule change is proposed at Sasquan and then passed, it has to be affirmed at the next Worldcon (in Kansas City) and then it will take effect the year after. Which means we may have at least another year of potential mischief along this line. Accept that this is a fact, be ready to deal with it (preferably with an eyeroll and the appropriate voting action), and recognize that the Hugos survive — or don’t — based on what the community around them decides to do. You can be part of that community. It takes effort and a bit of commitment. The good news is, there’s more to that community you’ll be part of than just the Hugos. And it’s a good community to be part of.

* Finally, on the subject of slates, for the avoidance of doubt, here’s my own personal position: I won’t ask to be put on a slate of nominees for a Hugo; If asked to be on a slate of nominees for a Hugo, I will refuse; If you see my name on a slate of nominees for the Hugo, you may assume I neither asked nor consented to be on that slate. I am fine with people recommending my work to others for consideration; I am not fine with people saying “vote this slate to get our nominees on the ballot for reasons.”

To be blunt about it, I don’t need to be on a slate — In my experience people have voted for me, or not, because they liked my work (or didn’t). Silly mutterings of conspiracy aside, everything of mine that’s been on the Hugo ballot got there under its own steam, by someone genuinely liking it and deciding to give it a slot on their nomination list. I’m proud of that; I wouldn’t want a work of mine on the final Hugo ballot (or any other ballot, for that matter) for any other reason.

I’m also opposed to slates in general — or in the case of the Sad Puppy slate, a weasely list of “recommendations” that had in their categories the number of slots as there are on the Hugo nomination list, nod, wink, nod — because, here’s a wacky idea, I think the point of popular awards is for people to vote for the things they actually like, not a slate designed to achieve some sort of political or social point (or, in the case of the Rabid Puppy slate, exist as advertisement for the slate-builder’s hobby-horse of a publishing house). Also, to be blunt, I don’t trust anyone else’s taste. I may or may not have terrible taste in science fiction and fantasy, but it’s my taste, and I’ll vote it.

In short: I don’t do slates — won’t voluntarily be on them, and won’t vote for them. And I’m not going to lie, from here on out, as regards the Hugos, I’ll think less of you if you participate on or vote for a slate. Because what you’re doing is showing that you don’t actually care about what the Hugos are (an award that acts as a snapshot, however imperfect, of the current state of science fiction and fantasy), but rather what the Hugos can do (draw attention to your own work, politics, social thoughts or whatever). The thing is, the latter happens because of the former. And that only happens when people vote their own nominees, not anyone else’s.

What Was Waiting for Me When I Came Home

I mean, aside from child and pets and house and my own bed: Three weeks worth of books sent, which I will catch up with and post during the week. As Athena said: “It’s like Christmas, but for work.” Yes, well.

In other news, I am home. And I get to be home for, like, four whole days. And then I leave again. I am determined to enjoy these next four days fully.

Off Again

I’m doing things and stuff in the real world over the weekend, including my appearance this Saturday at the LA Times Festival of Books with Wil Wheaton, and then flying home. So this is very likely the last you’ll see of me in this space until Monday (or possibly late Sunday). If you’re in Los Angeles, come see us at the Festival — and if you’re not, have a fabulous weekend anyway. See you on the other side.

The Latest Hugo Conspiracy Nonsense Involving Me

In the wake of one of John C. Wright’s Hugo-nominated stories being disqualified for the ballot because it was previously published on his Web site, howls of bitter indignancy have arisen from the Puppy quarters, on the basis that Old Man’s War, a book I serialized here on Whatever in 2002, qualified for the Hugo ballot in 2006 (it did not win). The gist of the whining is that if my work can be thought of as previously unpublished, why not Mr. Wright’s? Also, this is further evidence that the Hugos are one big conspiracy apparently designed to promote the socially acceptable, i.e., me specifically, whilst putting down the true and pure sons of science fiction (i.e., the Puppies).

So: thoughts.

1. The first irony is that Old Man’s War actually wasn’t originally on the 2006 Best Novel Hugo ballot at all; it finished sixth in the nomination tally. It ascended to the ballot when Neil Gaiman, who I did not know at the time (and who was almost certainly entirely unaware of my existence, or that I had placed sixth in the nomination tally), declined a Best Novel nomination for Anansi Boys. Neil (who I do know now), explained later that he’d felt he’d won his share of Hugos at the time and imagined the nomination would be better served helping someone else. He was correct about that. The point is that if you buy into the conspiracy theory of Old Man’s War being on the ballot, you have to believe that the conspiracy somehow convinced/forced Neil Gaiman to decline his nomination strictly for my benefit. Which is some conspiracy!

2. The second irony is that at the time, based purely on the content of Old Man’s War, to the extent that fandom presumed to guess my personal politics at all, much of it assumed that I was a US conservative. Hey, not everyone reads my blog. So the idea that I was on the ballot because of some ideological nod is, well, suspect at best.

3. It was no big secret in 2006 that Old Man’s War had been serialized on my blog prior to publication, so it seems doubtful to me the Hugo people were entirely unaware of its provenance. To the extent that it was discussed at all between me and other folks, to the best of my recollection at the time, there was the feeling that serializing on the blog did not, in itself, constitute publication (interestingly, I thought that it was Agent to the Stars, also published in 2005, that might be more of a tricky sell for the ballot, as you can see here).

4. Aside from my notification of the nomination, I had no contact with the Hugo Award committee of that year prior to the actual Worldcon, nor could I tell you off the top of my head who was on the committee. It doesn’t appear that anyone at the time was concerned about whether OMW being serialized here constituted publication. Simply put, it didn’t seem to be an issue, or at the very least, no one told me if it were. Again, if this was a conspiracy to get me on the ballot, it lacked one very important conspirator: Me.

5. So why would OMW’s appearance on a Web site in 2002 not constitute publication, but Mr. Wright’s story’s appearance on a Web site in 2013 constitute publication? There could be many reasons, including conspiracy, but I think the more likely and rather pedestrian reason is that more than a decade separates 2002 and 2013. In that decade the publishing landscape has changed significantly. In 2002 there was no Kindle, no Nook, no tablet or smart phone; there was no significant and simple commerce channel for independent publication; and there was not, apparently, a widespread understanding that self-publishing, in whatever form, constituted formal publication for the purposes of the Hugo Awards. 2013 is not 2002; 2015, when Mr. Wright’s story was nominated, is not 2006, when OMW was nominated.

I don’t think it’s all that difficult to conceptualize that major changes in culture can significantly alter the perception of what is legitimate and what is not; after all, in 2002, no state in the US allowed for same-sex marriage, whereas in 2015 the majority do, and it’s very likely by the end of the year that all will. The recognition of web publication as formal publication for the purposes of science fiction awards is not exactly a greater cultural shift than that, I would propose. No conspiracy required.

6. But it’s not faaaaaaiiirrrr, waaaaaaaaaaaah. Well, one: Life is not fair, so gut up, children. Two, it’s the Hugo adminstrators’ call to make, and they made it, so again, put on your big kid pants and just deal with it. If this year’s Hugos have a theme, it is of people just having to deal with shit they don’t like. I’m not sure why the Puppies feel they should be special snowflakes in this regard. The good news for Mr. Wright is that Hugo voters are not left bereft of chances to enjoy his Hugo-nominated prose, as he is still on the ballot a prodigious five times.

7. What would I have done in 2006 if I had been disqualified from the Hugo ballot because OMW had been serialized on my Web site? I imagine I would have been very gravely disappointed and would have probably groused privately and possibly even publicly. Then I imagine I would have put on my own big kid pants and dealt with it. Because here’s a home truth: No one is owed a Hugo award, or a Hugo nomination. If you start thinking you are, you’re the problem, not the Hugos, their administrators, or anyone else who might have ever been nominated, or even been awarded, one of the rockets.

The (Likely) Cone of Silence

I’m working normal human hours at the convention over the next couple of days and then flying back to the United States the day after that, so updates here will be sparse, if present at all. If you can’t survive without me over the next few days I’m likely to be on Twitter a bit, especially if the convention floor has Internet.

So: See you (probably) Tuesday!

My Latest Accessories

Short version: My leg got painfully sore last night walking back from Strictly Business: The Musical, I went to sleep hoping it would get better, it did not, and thus this morning I went to the hospital today at the urging of the hotel doctor, who was worried about the possibility of deep vein thrombosis, given my extensive travels recently.

It was not deep vein thrombosis. What it was, was a tear in my calf muscle, probably brought on by walking fairly strenuously for several hours straight the other day when I visited King’s Park in Perth. I will survive, but I’m on crutches for the rest of my stay in Australia and have to not overexert myself for the next few weeks. Stupid calf muscle.

So this is how I spent my Friday morning. How are you?

Cover Reveal and Release Dates for The End of All Things Novellas

First, isn’t that cover gorgeous? It’s from John Harris, of course.

Second, as you know, The End of All Things, my next novel, is comprised of four novellas, each of which to be released electronically before the debut of the print/combined eBook edition. If you follow this link to Tor.com, you will get to see all the novella covers, each from the fantastic John Harris, and the release schedule for the novellas. The hardcover will be out (in the US) on August 11.

Click that link, folks. Lots of John Harris awesome on the other side of it.

Human Shields, Cabals and Poster Boys

I’m awake too early to leave for the airport but too late to go back to sleep, so as long as I’m up, some additional thoughts on the recent Hugo-related drama.

* I’m feeling increasingly sorry for the nominees on the Hugo award ballot who showed up on either Puppy slate but who aren’t card-carrying Puppies themselves, since they are having to deal with an immense amount of splashback not of their own making. And to this you may say, well, but the Puppies maintain that everyone on their slate was notified, so they knew what they were getting into. But as it turns out, we know that at least some of the people on the Puppy slates weren’t contacted before the nominations came out — see Andromeda Spaceways In-flight Magazine on this — so this is not a 100% sure thing.

Also, let me suggest that when Brad Torgersen (or whomever) went off notifying people of their presence on the slate, he probably did not lead with “Hi, would you like to be part of a slate of nominees whose organizers whine darkly and incessantly about the nefarious conspiracies of the evil social justice warriors to infiltrate all levels of science fiction, and which will also implictly tie you and your work to at least one completely bigoted shitmagnet of a human being?” Rather more likely he played up the “we’re trying to get stuff on the ballot we think is cool that doesn’t usually get on it” angle and downplayed, you know, that other stuff.

And you might think, well, how can you miss that other stuff? The short answer to that is that, as difficult as it might seem, not everyone actually spends a lot of time following the Hugo and the controversies therein. It was, until very recently, kind of an insider sport. So it’s possible to have missed this stuff and/or not fully grasped the implications of it until after the awards came out. Not for me, clearly, and possibly not for you. But it is possible.

It’s difficult to miss them now, of course. But this increases my sympathy for these nominees. The whole reason the Puppies are so transparently covetous of the Hugos is that they are a big deal in a (relatively) small community. So imagine being part of this community, being told that you’ve gotten a Hugo nomination, and then finding out that there’s this metric load of toxicity around it, manufactured by the people who got you the ballot — or at least claim that they did.

It’s easy to say, well, they should just withdraw. Speaking as a past Hugo nominee, I’m here to tell you that the emotions around that decision are likely not to be that simple, especially because at least some of that work and some of those people are (in my opinion) deserving of the sort of recognition the Hugos offer.

Thus the irony of this being an excellent year not to be on the Hugo ballot, because you get to pass on the entire shitshow around it. To be clear, some of the nominees affirmatively signed up for a shitshow, hoped for a shitshow and are now reveling in the shitshow that’s happening. That’s their karma. Give some thought to the ones who didn’t sign on for it, or might have not fully realized that it was coming. I think of them as the human shields of the Puppy campaigns. Personally, I’m cutting them a bit of slack.

* Matthew Foster, husband of the late and missed Eugie Foster, has a nice two-part recap of the Puppies situation (1, 2) and the personalities involved on the Puppies lists, and makes a cogent observation about the Puppy assertion of a SJW cabal, which is that it’s complete nonsense:

Eugie and I were acquainted with, or friends with most of the people the Puppies point out as leftist leaders. We were both directors at Dragon Con, just about the biggest genre convention around, and know the organizers of many other conventions. Eugie was a Nebula winner, female, and Asian American. Trust me Puppies, if there was an organized society or just a clique working against you, we’d have been in it.

Yes, this. The entire paranoid theory of a social justice warrior cabal is predicated on the rather narcissistic hypothesis the Puppies have that those they see having opposing political and social view spend countless hours thinking of ways to thwart politically conservative writers and keep them off award ballots, for reasons.

Speaking as someone who the Puppies have a rather disturbing hate-boner for (yeah, I know, think how I feel about it) and who is certainly a high poobah of whatever cabal they imagine: Honestly, who has time for that? I’m busy enough! Thwarting the careers of people I don’t know or care about is not actually high on my list of things to do, be they conservative or otherwise. The idea I am going to take any time out of my schedule to do that is ridiculous. I barely have time for people I like.

But look at these statistics that show — show! — that Scalzi and Charles Stross gamed the Hugos! (Yes, this is an actual thing.) Dudes. You give me soooooo much more credit for personal industry, and also, you don’t know how to read the numbers. I mean, I get it: When you want to do something obnoxious in furtherance of your own personal agenda, you want to be able to say other people did it first; when you want to front a slate of nominations with an explicit sociopolitical goal, you want to assert that you’re just doing what other people have already done. You want to posit bad behavior to rationalize your own, as if other people being assholes excuses you being one, too. But there is no SJW cabal, and this is on you.

Saying there’s no cabal is just what a cabal member would say! Well, yes.

* Continuing the personal aspect of this, it’s been noted by several that the Puppies have a rather unseemly interest in me: I’m accused of creating my own slates (I didn’t), of gaming the Hugos in some manner (I haven’t) and Redshirts is used as an example of how the SJW cabal is secretly controlling the Hugo voting, because how else could a bestselling, widely-liked book by a well-known author who had nine previous Hugo nominations and a Campbell Award possibly have taken an award in a popular contest? It beggars the mind, people. The idea that this particular book, by a straight white male, that might not even pass the Bechdel Test, is somehow the perfect vehicle for an SJW cabal Hugo win is its own case study in just how poorly constructed the logical underpinnings of the “SJW Cabal” hypothesis really are.

These accusations are generally accompanied by a rather lot of spittle, enough so that people are beginning to mock the Puppies for it; the best joke of this I’ve seen comes here, in a comment on a File 770 post (the post, appropriately enough, speaking of paranoid hypotheses having no relation to reality, about a Puppy assertion that Terry Pratchett never being nominated for a Hugo shows how the system is gamed being undermined by Pratchett turning down a Hugo nod in 2005):

Q: How many Sad Puppies does it take to change a light bulb?
A: 100, one to change the bulb and 99 to say, “Gosh, I hope this makes Scalzi’s head explode!”

I think it’s pretty evident why I’m a poster boy for Puppy hate: The primary drivers of the Puppies (Beale, Correia and Torgerson) don’t think warmly of me for their own personal reasons, I have politics and social positions they oppose, and I strongly suspect the fact I have a successful career in science fiction confounds them, which is, among other things, why they and other Puppy partisans spend so much time trying to assert that I don’t actually sell any books, and so on.

I’m a useful target for them, in other words, and someone they can use to whip up their partisans: Scalzi’s the problem! There’s no way Scalzi could be successful without a shadowy conspiracy! He’s been doing what we’re doing all along! A victory for the Puppies will make Scalzi weep salty tears! And off they and their lackeys go, to the comment threads and to Twitter, to use me as justification, in so many ways, for the stupid and tiresome things they do. Not just me and not just my work, mind you. The Puppies have a full enemies list. But on that list, I’m top five, easy.

I have no control over this, although I do find the Puppy version of me interesting. He appears to simultaneously live in a volcano lair, evilly stroking a cat whilst planning the next SJW pogrom against the valiant writers of pure and true science fiction, and also lives on the streets, giving handjobs for a nickel and raving how he used to be somebody. I should like to meet this John Scalzi; I would give him a hot cup of soup and a warm jacket, and then ask him if I could borrow his laser cannon.

Be aware that me writing about their obsession about me will be viewed as proof that it is really me that has the obsession, hah ha! I’m also aware that some people think this is a thing where the Puppies and I are two sides of a coin. Again, not much I can do about that, except to say I didn’t make the coin or be asked to be put on a side. If I’m on the enemies list, fine. Just ask why it is I’m on the list, and for what reasons. And ask what that says about the Puppies.

Follow-up on Finishing The End of All Things

Because it’s always fun to do a post-mortem on one’s books when one is finished writing them.

* First, some of the fiddly bits: This book is a direct followup to The Human Division and continues the scenarios, events and characters found there. It also wraps up the larger story arc begun in The Human Division (i.e., you will find out who is behind all the cliff-hangery stuff and why), so those of you worried that there will be some things left unresolved and to be dealt with in a third book: Relax. It all gets settled.

Like The Human Division, the book is made up of smaller, discrete episodes — four novellas this time. Also like that previous book, those episodes will be released electronically first, with a print/combined eBook version to follow (for those of you who preordered the book, you’ve preordered the print/combined eBook version). There will also be an audiobook version, which will be the complete version; I don’t believe Audible plans to do episodes this time around.

The print publishing date is August 11; the episodic releases will be shortly before that. The print/combined version may contain extra material — if it does, that extra material will be released online as well (free!) so that people who buy the episodes will not feel left out in the cold. We learned from the last time, we did.

* As to the novellas that make up the book, I will be stingy on the details except to say that two are from the point of view of major characters in The Human Division, one from a previously minor character, and one introduces a brand new character who I think is very interesting indeed. The novellas average just under 25,000 words, with the longest at 33,000 words and the shortest at 17,500. They feature the usual action, adventure, explosions, aliens and snappy dialogue, in various percentages depending on events. And yes, the actual end of all things is a very real concern in this novel.

I’m quite happy with the novellas and with the arc of the overall story. I think fans of the Old Man’s War universe are going to like where this story goes, and where it ends, and what it means for the universe in general.

* For those of you concerned, the title The End of All Things does not mean that I am forever done with writing in the Old Man’s War universe. I’m not one of those writers who declares he is never going back to a universe he created, only to do so at some indefinite point down the line with some slightly embarrassed rationalization. I might come back to the Old Man’s War universe! Sometime! In the future!

However, The End of All Things ends this particular story arc in the OMW universe, and at the moment in time there are no other OMW books planned. I have other things I want to write and do, and six books is enough for now. My philosophy behind writing the OMW series (which I expect I will extend to any series I do) is only write books in the series if I enjoy the process and have someplace new to take the universe. Grinding out books in a series is a drag for both writer and reader. I have better things to do than crank out books in a series just for the cash, and you have better things to do than to read a book created in those circumstances. So while I never say never to more OMW books, for the moment, this is it.

* This book took longer to write than any other novel I’ve done so far. I announced that I was officially starting it on May 12, 2014, and I finished it on April 3, 2015, so there’s a total travel time of eleven months there. That bests the previous record-holder, Zoe’s Tale, which if memory serves took nine months. So what happened?

The answer I gave here at Swancon (the convention I’m current attending in Perth, Australia) is that the thing I find hardest to do with novels is to begin them: I fiddle, I hem, I haw, I try out different approaches and basically I bang my head against a wall until something works. Usually, with any novel, I only have to do this one time. But with TEoAT, I had to “start” the novel four separate times, because as it happens my writing process for novels and novellas is very much the same (short stories I don’t have this problem with, it seems). So that put a dent in my schedule.

I also had a pretty substantial false start to the book. Those of you who saw me during the Lock In tour remember me reading an excerpt from TEoAT, which I mentioned was an excerpt from the third chapter of the novel. Well, that excerpt is no longer in the book at all; neither are the chapters immediately preceeding it, nor the ones I wrote after it, either. It’s not that those chapters were bad (they weren’t) or that what I wrote was not telling a good story (it was). It was that the story I was telling there just wasn’t the right one. So out it went. Repeat this process at several points.

The End of All Things is 99,000 words long, but for the book I wrote about 140,000 in total — basically the equivalent of another long novella (or very short novel). All of that extra writing was necessary, but none of it is in the novel. Writing it, chucking it, reconfiguring and starting again adds time to the schedule.

The other thing is that quite honestly I did not manage my time as well as I should have while writing this. I have a lot of things going on and I ended up letting myself be pulled in several directions and not being as disciplined with the writing as I should. Normally this isn’t much of a problem — once I get going I write very quickly and generally hit the deadlines that I set for a project — but this particular novel, with its four beginnings (and one major and a couple of minor false starts), was more difficult for me than others.

What I’ve learned: Writing a novel comprised of four novellas is difficult (for me, anyway) and that if I do it in the future (which I don’t plan to), I need to both budget more time into my writing schedule and do a better job managing my distractions. Also, my next novel will definitely be, like, a normal novel. Maybe.

The difficulties with the novel meant that for the first time, I blew a book deadline, which kills me, but more unfortunately, also puts pressure on the folks I work with at Tor to rush to get the book out on schedule. I’m very annoyed with myself that it happened and that other people will now have to deal with my lateness. So, Tor folks: Sorry. I’ll try not to have it happen again.

* As an aside, I noted a while back that when I turned in The End of All Things, I would be out of contract with Tor, which is to say contractually I owe them no more books. This comment has apparently led people with more spite than brains to allege out there on the Internet that Tor’s dropped me, possibly not amicably, possibly because of low sales, etc. Let’s just say I find this a very amusing interpretation of events. It’s also a reminder that people say stupid things online, often about me, with remarkable frequency.

* Which segues into: What am I doing next? Well, for the next couple of weeks — not much! I’m going to finish my trip here in Australia and then I’m going to be in LA. I think I’ve earned a break. After that, yeah, I have several projects lined up, none of which I want to tell you about until they’re done. But they are all very cool. I will say that yes, I do have a novel planned to write later in the year, which would then presumably be out in 2016. Is it with Tor, which has dropped me because of low sales?!?!? We shall see! Suffice to say I don’t believe you will be at a loss for entertainment from me.