MRSA and Marx — the Hugo Aftermath

MRSA and Marx -- the Hugo Aftermath

Sorry for the silence last week. My friend and business partner Vic, the founder and majority owner of Rooster and Pig, had a stroke back at the end of July which means that I’ve been stuck with the fun of formatting all the books slated to go out now as well as handling all of the Q2 reports, trying to get the royalties and the staff paid, and trying to port the company to a new website since we’ve long since outgrown the system we’re on. Vic is handling all of this with his usual inability to chill the hell out and let someone else worry about everything so those of us who are his not-real-but-kind-of-really-real family get the fun of dealing with him both IRL and via the Internet.

Vic’s one of my buddies. He’s been there for me when no one else was. He knows that I’m quirky and weird and that, on some political issues, he and I are complete opposites (I want a government too powerless to do much of anything; he doesn’t). End of the day, we’re friends and I’d do anything for him. Race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, veteran status, the kind of books we read and write — none of that matters because he’s my friend.

And, by the way — he’s a gay, black, Messianic Jewish Iraqi era veteran who reads and writes a lot of gay erotica. Hell, I’ve edited some of it and spent hours wondering “can you actually do that though? I mean, wouldn’t it hurt if it got bent and twisted around like that?” Which is why he and I always have a little chuckle when folks like John Scalzi, PNH, TNH, and more say that I must be racist and homophobic. It’d be kind of difficult for me to be in business with someone like Vic if that were true.

But then, truth matters little to these people. They’re impervious to it the same way that MRSA is impervious to penicillin. All of the women writers in the Sad Puppies group (and there are a lot of us) could stand up naked to prove our womanhood and we’d still be told we were men. I can go hang out with my lesbian sister or my gay business partner and I’m still a homophobe (and a racist). We can gather all of the black, Asian, Indian (subcontinental), Native American, Middle Eastern, Latin, Hispanic, and Chicano authors we can find (not to mention a few of us who are from areas that are actually so poverty-stricken that they’re routinely cited as “one of the most poverty-stricken places in the United States”) and none of that will matter. We can writer stories involving women (have done), gay characters (have done), minorities (check), overcoming great odds (CHECK), and very long-lasting and their actions here in the immediate aftermath are doing a lot more to discredit their side than the Sad Puppies ever could.


So, the question becomes: can WorldCon and the Hugos be salvaged? At this point, it’s debatable. Sarah Hoyt, Kate Paulk, and others intend to try next year with SP4 and I’m volunteering to help out. Maybe if we show them an effort led completely by women that will be savaged by men, it might just cause enough cognitive dissonance to wake a few people up. That said, I’m not going to put all my eggs in that basket because, like the Eloi, I don’t think the Hugos are going to last that long. I think that at this, the first real show of resistance on the part of the over-arching geek culture, WorldCon is just going to whither away and die. Sarah, Kate, et al are trying to save it but me, after seeing the way the Puppy Kickers acted this year and behaved at the awards ceremony?

Fuck that shit. Let the fucker burn and sow the earth it was on with salt. I’m going to help out with SP4 in hopes of convincing them to consider launching a parallel convention system that would actually bring in the rest of the fandom that WorldCon shuts out. You know — the comic geeks, the gamers, the Trekkies, the dabblers, the people who got into sci-fi from something that the CHORFs think is “lame,” (like The Walking Dead or Twilight) — the folks who are keeping the geek culture going with new ideas, new stories, new mediums, and more. Those who could care less about politics and who want a convention that is fun and welcomes them instead of telling them they’re WrongFans having WrongFun.

Martin told us to set up our own award. Well, why the hell not? And why not make the voting pool so massive it can’t be gamed, make the thing so open it’s financially solvent, and make it an actual stamp worth having on your book cover. The Hugo used to be that way — back when WorldCon wanted to have a larger audience. Obviously, they don’t want that anymore so screw ’em. Let the Hugos become exactly what the WorldConners want it to be — an award given to old, white Marxists by other old, white Marxists for books written for the enjoyment of other aging, white Marxists. Meanwhile, we work on making something where anyone can win it — not just the Toads at Tor who think anyone who lives outside of the Coastal Enclaves should be subject to summary execution for “lack of diversity.”

Imagine a con that embraces the audiences of Comic Con, BlizzCon, GamesCon, DefCon, and LibertyCon instead of a con like WorldCon that says hangs a sign on the door and says “Non-Marxists Need Not Apply.” Which one would you go to? And more importantly — which one would you take your children to (because the future belongs to those who bother to reproduce, yo).

— G.K.

The State of Fandom and the Hugos: Category Error

The State of Fandom and the Hugos: Category Error

I mentioned this monster post in a comment at Sarah Hoyt’s this weekend. Here it is. Grab something to drink because this one’s a doozy, mes amis.

So, the Hugo voting period ended and the winners will be announced soon. There’s been the predictable resurgence in Puppy-related topics recently with the mainstream press parroting the press releases from Tor et alia to the effect that the Puppies and those of us who think they have a point are evil, racist, sexist, homophobic, hateful people who want to build new Dachaus and gulags in order to ensure that only white heterosexual men can own property while the rest of the world is enslaved to them. Those of us who know better, of course, just roll our eyes and wonder why we’re always the ones being accused of planning to build the concentration camps and gulags while the ideologues the Puppy-kickers uphold as being morally superior seem to be the ones who manage to actually have such things turn up in their back yards.

…but I digress.

For decades, there have been award ceremonies that attempt to showcase “the best” works in a genre. The Hugos, once upon a time, (arguably) were the premiere award for science fiction works. However, back in the days when the Hugo was a worthwhile award, the voting pool for the award was much larger, making it much less susceptible to industry or pool capture. WorldCon attendance would have been much higher as well and overall membership (even non-attending) would have been higher. But, over time, the publishing industry captured WorldCon and the Hugos which turned them from a fan award into a marketing stunt.

Don’t get me wrong — the bylaws and the rules are clear. No, what happened is very subtle. It probably started back in the late 1970s to mid 1980s at the earliest, early 1990s at the latest. The houses themselves were being taken over by liberal art majors who, having grown up steeped in the mythos of “the men who took down Nixon,” came into the publishing world with the same zeal to change the world instead of to help find great stories that people wanted to buy. Factor in the rage many of them had felt throughout the 1980s over Reagan’s cowboy diplomacy, his Brandenburg Gate speech where he had the audacity to demand that the morally superior USSR tear down the Berlin Wall, the cognitive dissonance that they felt when the Eastern Bloc collapsed and the USSR voted itself out of existence…and these were hammers desperately in search of a nail. The publishing world was just that nail.

They honed in on science fiction and fantasy specifically because it was future-oriented. Also, because it didn’t require a lot of experience in scholarship or other fields already (try getting into biographies or academic publishing with just a degree in English). Ideologically, they’d already begun taking over a lot of other places — schools, colleges, the art world, film, television, music — so publishing was just the next step.

Now, this wasn’t some organized take over with a great conspiracy where a secret cabal issued diktats — I’m not a tin-foil hatter. It was a long-term underlying trend that was baked into socialism and progressive philosophy.

So, once they’d gotten into the top spots of the big houses like Tor and the fantasy/sci-fi imprints of the other big six, they started making it difficult for anyone outside of their social circles to work there which slowly ensured that agents pushing authors whose politics differed would go nowhere. The stories became homogenized as well, following a set formula with characters that were uniform, uni-dimensional, predictable, and uninteresting. Readers revolted and stopped attending the conventions. But the publishers kept going to the conventions and kept sending their star authors (which dragged out some fans) which led to…the conventions being captured.

Which is what happened to WorldCon and the Hugos. The Hugos aren’t a fan award these days. They haven’t been for the better part of nearly thirty years now. They’re a publisher award because it’s been the publishers who were controlling the voter pool because the voter pool was less than 1000 people. Of course they were in political lockstep and of course they were pissed off when Correia and the rest of us Puppies came in and proved it.

But now on to the real problem. That’s right everyone — 700 words to get to the point of the post. We’ve been accused of destroying the Hugos and we’ve accused the others of destroying them. However, the real problem is CATEGORY ERROR — we’ve never really defined what the problem is. Oh, we think we have. We’ve intuitively got a grasp of what it is. We agree that there is a problem. But have we defined it? No. Not so much.


Category Error — having stated or defined a problem so poorly that it becomes impossible to solve that problem, through dialectic or any other means. Also, not quite as cool as Loki’s Wager but still a good excuse to run a graphic with Tom Hiddleston, yo

So, what is the actual problem? The actual problem is that what the Hugos were created to recognize no longer exists. Back when the Hugos and WorldCon first started, an avid reader could go through every sci-fi book published in a year. But these days, “science fiction” is a massive genre that has spawned dozens of child/sub genres. It’s the same story in the fantasy world. And the publishers and the folks who captured the Hugos over the past few decades represent a tiny sliver of the fanbase and readership — the sliver that aspire more towards the once academic, avant-garde literary-chic style of writing. This group is also incredibly active and activist which is why they have a tendency to take over many other conventions and force out groups they dislike (which is why the Honey Badger Brigade got shut out and nearly arrested for showing up at Calgary Comic Con).

The WorldCon/Hugo by-laws make it very difficult to change and recognize the new reality and…well…doing so would cost the publishers and the lit-chic folks their powerbase. Therefore, if those of us on the Puppy-side want to really fix this and have an award that is meaningful, durable, not subject to capture by one group or another, and represents the best works without showing the divide between works that sell well and works that win awards that the Hugos have shown in recent years, then we have our work cut out for us. The first thing we have to do is actually start defining stuff. I’ll expand on this further in later entries but for now, here are some of the child-genres I’ve noticed in science fiction and fantasy that we should consider:

Science Fiction:
Space Opera
Dystopian
Cyber
Military
Zombie Apocalypse
Superhero
Hard sci-fi
-Physics
-Chemistry
-Biology
-Astronomy
-Space Exploration
Post-Apocalyptic
Medical
Literary
Expanded Canon
-Star Trek novels
-Star Wars novels
-Halo book
-StarCraft books
-Halflife books
-Dune novels
-Doctor Who novles
-The X-Files books
-Batman comics
-Marvel: The Avengers comics

Fantasy:
High Fantasy
Epic Fantasy
Swords-and-Sorcery
Nordic
Shamanistic
Native American
Medieval
Urban
Dark
Surreal
Dystopian
Superhero
Romance
Literary
Expanded Canon
-Warcraft novels
-World of Warcraft novels
-Diablo novels
-Legend of Zelda comics
-Thor: The Dark World comics
-Doctor Who novels

Look, the simple fact of the matter is that our genres are growing and this is a good thing. We need to define the child/sub genres and start expanding awards to include them. And, we may need to give up on the idea of there ever being a single “best science fiction for the year” award ever again. It’s become a bit like trying to decide which vehicle is the best for a given year these days. Yes, some are objectively better than others but when you’ve got so many doing so many different things… it’s difficult to say “this is the best OVERALL” without actually defining what in the name of Issac Asimov you’re talking about.

Category error, guys. Let’s start fixing it, shall we?

— G.K.

Friday Review: After The Blast

Friday Review: After The Blast

This week’s review is a short work from my friend and fellow author T.L. Knighton. I grabbed it with my Kindle Unlimited and am planning to get the second book in the series already to add to my “to read” pile. After the Blast is a nice, quick bit of light reading that sets up a series quite well. I’m looking forward to learning more in the second book.

The premise of the novelette is this: there’s a nuclear attack on the US. How extensive it is, who launched it, and what the international response is are never covered in the story. Instead, the action focuses on the main character, Jason, as he makes his way to join his family in north Georgia. He encounters some good folks and bad folks on his journey and transitions from being a menial office worker to being something of a badass by the end of the story.

The pacing is a bit rough at the start but once Knighton finds his stride, it’s all good. And, with it only being 0.99 (or free with Kindle Unlimited), it’s well worth it. A nice impulse buy that will get you hooked on what looks to be a great series.

    

Four and a half rainbow farting zebricorns — no major complaints but there were some editing problems (nothing major — nothing that renders it unreadable like what happened with the eBook version of The Road).

— G.K.

Epic Fantasy: In The Shadow of Yggdrasil Updated!

Epic Fantasy: In The Shadow of Yggdrasil Updated!

If yesterday’s update didn’t quite hit the spot for your epic fantasy fix, maybe today’s will. In the Shadow of Yggdrasil has been updated! This week we see a bit more of the rescued Jotun prisoners and some hope on the horizon for them. Also, more little brother adorableness! The war is going to be tangential for a few more chapters but, don’t worry — it’s still a-raging. The action is going to pick back up soon. Enjoy the calm before the excrement hits the circular ventilator!

As always, don’t forget that you can back me on Patreon or support my writing habit by getting a membership here today!

— G.K.

Epic Fantasy: The Search for the Seven Scepters Updated!

Epic Fantasy: The Search for the Seven Scepters Updated!

Epic fantasy fans, rejoice; The Search for the Seven Scepters has been updated. This week’s chapter finally sees our brothers reunited and Blade is there, too! Also, a very fun pledge gets made that gives the story both its title and its purpose. And, we learn a bit more about why Blade is so resistant to taking the throne and about her family and her family dynamics. The next few chapters will reveal even more as well as picking up the action a good bit so stay tuned!

As always, don’t forget that you can back me on Patreon or support my writing habit by getting a membership here today!

— G.K.

Police Thriller Readers: The Masterminds Updated!

Police Thriller Readers: The Masterminds Updated!

Happy Monday all! I’ve just posted the latest chapter of my police thriller, The Masterminds, for your reading pleasure. We’re still going through a bit of a lull while team dynamics get established. This chapter isn’t just filler, though, so read it and enjoy!

Don’t forget that you can back me on Patreon or support my writing habit by getting a membership here now!

— G.K.

Techies And Writers And Herds of Cats

Techies And Writers And Herds of Cats

One of my daily reads is Sarah Hoyt’s blog and recently I’ve been going through some of her older entries (I’m looking for a post where she was talking about the review submission process…don’t ask) and I stumbled over several mentions of how getting us writer-ly types to organize and do anything in a uniform fashion is kind of like herding cats. Especially those of us of what she calls the Odd bent (and what I call the “awesomesauce” bent because, yay, more fellow NTs!) I’ve noticed this myself — especially back when I was submitting to agents and traditional publishers before I realized that was a chump’s game and decided to go indie. Each agent or agent house and each publisher has their own guidelines for receiving query letters and manuscripts and none of them are the same.

Considering the uniformity of the end product (mass-market paperbacks have very specific cover and print-set specifications) and the general consistency of editing software and screen-readers, you’d think that there would be some consistency. But you’d be wrong.

The only other area where I’ve encountered such a dizzying array of sheer anarchy is…the tech world. I still keep a foot in that realm (because it’s fun) and anyone who’s actually delved into code very far knows what I mean when I say that reading someone’s code can tell you everything you need to know about them. If it’s not human-readable, you know that they’re using a graphical interface to drag’n’drop elements into place and that they don’t actually know what they’re doing. They might have a cursory understanding but they don’t grasp the fundamentals and the principles. Or, they’re not a coder (and they’re not pretending to be — I had this happen a lot in my professional life) and you get the fun job of digging through a single-line (that is actually several thousand lines) of nested HTML menu items to find the one that isn’t closed properly so you can make the document strict XML compliant.

If the code has function names that are the same as variables, you know you’re deal with someone who has some experience but is still new to the game. Their comments and documentation will tend to be hit-or-miss but at least it will exist. If the code has function names that are purposeful and unique, you know that the commentary and documentation will be fairly good (or they will have outsourced it to someone who will be better at it, you hope) or it will be non-existent. If the function names are vindictive and the documentation has you going in circles, you know that you’re probably better off removing everything and rebuilding from scratch because someone high up pissed this person off and you’re dealing with a BOFH type who has decided to extract a pound (or ton) of flesh. In this case, there’s only one thing to do:

The issue is, some techies are going to be die-hard Perl scripters and everything is going to be in that. Others will prefer Python. Some never moved past C++. You’ve got your K-shell users, C-shell users, Z-shell folks, and then a quick shout-out to my peeps out there in Bourne-Again land (BASH FOREVAH!). There’s the Xwindows folks who are all about some KDE while others are hung up with their Gnomes and the rest of us are wondering why in Torvalds’ name you’re running Xwindows on a server — it’s not secure. People will cling to their text-editors and bitter fights will break out over vi versus emacs versus pico versus nano at which point G.K. boots to Windows (hey, if you’re going to run a desktop, run a freaking desktop) and opens up Scrivener. PHP devs will say you can do everything with PHP and seasoned HTML coders will snort and think about all the times they had to implement HTML/CSS/JS fixes to deal with a PHPlib error. SQL DBAs will laugh at all of them while they work on their next round of fiendishly difficult certifications.

As you can see, though…techies and writers — none of us can agree on how things should be. Oh, we all have our opinions on how they should be. Techies will even form consortiums, conventions, conglomerations, conferences, and write out long RFCs about How Things Should Be. Enough others will agree and we’ll wind up with this situation:

Which, come to think of it, is probably what happened in the publishing world.

Now, do I think that writers are going to eventually get together and decide on a uniform submission process? Hell no! Do I think publishers will eventually decide on one? Nope. What will probably keep happening is what’s been happening. It’s just interesting to see that two groups of people the average Joe Public considers diametric opposites (writers and techies) are actually very much alike.

And it’s cool to be both of them at once, yo.

— G.K.

Fanfic Friday — Star Trek Voyager: Inosculation Updated!

Fanfic Friday -- Star Trek Voyager: Inosculation Updated!

So, fingers crossed because today is a big day. I have an interview lined up that could be interesting. And, while I’m off doing that, here’s the second chapter of my Voyager fanfic for those of you who have been asking me about it. Yes, Star Trek Voyager: Inosculation has been updated. I will be updating this story every Friday. If you’re curious, my current plan is to update The Masterminds on Monday, The Search for the Seven Scepters on Tuesday, In the Shadow of Yggdrasil on Wednesday, Risen Ash on Thursday, and Star Trek Voyager: Inosculation on Friday. A couple of people have been pinging me about getting Alayne’s Story (my insanely, epically-long World of Warcraft fanfic that I wrote over the course of five years) up on this site. A few others have been asking if I’m planning to put Adrift up here as well and a few are asking if I’ve posted it over at AO3. The answers to those questions are: yes. I am planning to add them to this site and I did post Adrift to AO3. No, I’m not going to put them up on Tumblr (the formatting is too big a PITA). There are a few problems with Alayne’s Story that need to be ironed out first but it will be up here once those are taken care of and I’ve had time to get a cover image done for it. I’ll also be adding it to Fanfiction.net and Wattpad as well as AO3.

I’ve had a couple-of-five of you email me via my contact form to ask if I’ll be putting any of my fanfics up on Amazon for 0.00. Short answer in universal sign language below:

I know that Amazon said they were working something out where fanfics could be distributed for free or sold if the rights-holders agreed. I don’t know what came of that (I’ve not kept up with it at all). In theory, I could *probably* give them away in Kindle format via Amazon (again, I *really* need to research the terms of that. I’m not promising a damned thing) or via this website (definitely could do that last one) so long as I credit the original source. The problem is that some places are pretty cool with derivative-work fan creators (Blizzard) and don’t mind too much if they have a tip jar or are selling other things or have a premium access area on their site so long as they don’t actually sell the fanwork itself. Other places (CBS, Paramount, Auntie Beeb) are a little less far down the “cool” spectrum and G.K. can’t afford awesomesauce lawyers. Factor in that, technically, fanfics are a form of copyright infringement and trademark dilution and if I were to profit from it those guys really have no choice but to come after me with a fifty-ton hammer of smiting and it’s just a headache I’m not sure I want to deal with.

Why do you think I’m not running ads on this site? It’s not because I couldn’t use the money. It’s because I’m fucking terrified that if I did, I’d have the BBC and Blizzard suing me for money I don’t fucking have and will never fucking get. We’ll ignore, for now, the fact that I’m also personally liable to David Tennant, Tom Hiddleston, Chris Helmsworth, Anthony Hopkins, AMC, Alexander Enderberg, Norman Reedus, Andrew Lincoln, Sarah Wayne Callies, Melissa McBride, and Eric Calderone (among countless others) for unauthorized use of their names and/or personal likenesses. Never mind that I took those likenesses from photos that were released to the public domain by their press representatives or publicists. Technically, the argument could be made and G.K. Masterson and family does not have the money to make a convincing counter-argument before a judge in the US or the UK.

I’m doing my best to stay well under the radar when it comes to my fanworks. I had actually seriously considered sending some of my legit work to a few of my favorite actors as a way of saying “thanks” for the countless hours of entertainment and inspiration they’ve afforded me. However, once I realized how trivial it would be for them to link my legit works to my fanworks (and that was a dumbass move on my part there) and just how liable I was on that, I ditched that idea. The repository sites like Fanfiction.net, AO3, and Wattpad can get away with it because of how they function and because of the terms they present to users. I can also post my own works here as an archive. But selling them, even at 0.00, via Amazon or anything like that…well, it gets really, really tricky when there’s a remote chance of “profiting” from the work at all even if it’s just “someone read my fanfic and bought my legit work while on my website.”

tl;dr — It’s a hassle and, tbh, I have enough stress in my life already so I’ll pass for now, thanks.

Anyway, go on and enjoy this week’s chapter of Star Trek Voyager: Inosculation!

— G.K.

Zombie Apocalypse, Epic Fantasy, Police Thriller — Oh My!

Zombie Apocalypse, Epic Fantasy, Police Thriller -- Oh My!

Good news, everyone! I haven’t forgotten you all this week. I just have had an insanely crazy-hectic-oh-my-God-it’s-been-weird kind of week and weekend preceding it which meant that I didn’t have time to get the updates I had finished integrated until this Wednesday night. However, hopefully things will be turning around soon-ish so my life will be a bit more stable and you’ll be getting your chapters on a more predictable time-frame. That said, all is not puppies, kittens, and rainbows in Warden’s Keep. Rooster and Pig’s other owner has had a serious medical emergency. He’s okay but I’m scrambling to take care of getting this quarter’s royalty statements done and sent out as well as finishing up the new R&P website and eCommerce site. There’s also a good bit of trying to figure out who’s doing what, when, and all and trying to take care of my own side of things.

Sometimes I think Sisyphus is a slacker, yo.

Anyway, the latest chapters of The Masterminds, The Search for the Seven Scepters, In the Shadow of Yggdrasil, and Risen Ash are up for all of you who are looking to scratch your zombie apocalypse, epic fantasy, or police thriller itches or cravings. So go and get your reads on!





Don’t forget that you can back me on Patreon or support my writing habit by getting a membership here now!

— G.K.

Friday Review: Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos, Book One)

Friday Review: Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos, Book One)

It’s Friday again and you know what that means: time for another one of my reviews. This week, it’s Dan Simmons in the spotlight with the first book of his Hyperion Cantos, Hyperion. I first stumbled across Simmons when I read his essay about a visit from a Time Traveler in April 2006. Seeing that he was an author and his work looked interesting, I ordered the first two books off Amazon and dove in. I was glad I had ordered both of them and I would have been pissed if I had only picked up Hyperion.

Hyperion is a space-age version of The Canterbury Tales. It follows pretty much the same format: pilgrims on a religious voyage swapping stories. However, unlike Chaucer’s work, there’s a meta-story at play and the tales the pilgrims exchange are not just to pass the time. They are compelling, interesting, and show that the narrators (the characters of Hyperion) have led interesting lives to put them where they are at what seems to be the very end of the world itself. As a reader, I couldn’t help but get caught up in their stories and wonder more about them which is why I’m very glad I had the second book handy because Hyperion ends in a very unsatisfactory manner. It doesn’t so much hit a wall and go off a cliff as some critics have alleged. To me, it feels like it was one book cut in half with Hyperion being the first half and the second book, The Fall of Hyperion, being the end. I can’t say with any authority that such is the case but I have seen such things happen.

Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion are good books and well worth the read. Dan Simmons is a good author who spins a great narrative with compelling characters. However, you will want to get both of them at the same time and read them back-to-back which has been a cause for some to feel a bit disgruntled about paying for two books to get the story of one. Still, in this case, I’d argue that the show is well worth the price of admission.

   

Three-and-a-half rainbow farting zebricorns. Well-written and a good read but the sucker-punch-tenterhooks-cliffhanger ending was just a bit too much.

— G.K.