Currently Reading: Hugo Packet Novellas

It’s time for the not-so-big one but bigger than the two other ones!

In other news: things aren’t looking good for me versus Best Series, in which I’ve read exactly ZERO extra since the Hugo finalists were announced. Best Series – the category that somehow manages to combine elements of both the protestant work ethic and Catholic guilt in one package.

Some updates on Timothy’s PR work

better-call-tim

Tim is too busy to write this himself so here are some general updates and questions:

  1. A question from a reader: “Is Timothy’s career choice in anyway inspired by the Princess Carolyn character  from Bojack Horseman?” – no, we only started binge watching Bojack Horseman the other day when I realised I’d let that Netflix account roll over for another month. Also Tim is more like Tod, except well he says I’m the Tod and I think I’m more the Diane but they we got confused with Cheers. It wasn’t a good conversation.
  2. “Has Tim got anymore clients?” – not currently but he has some excellent leads. He is hoping to specialise in tell-all books by former insiders from the Trump administration or failing that from former insiders from the teams investigating the Trump administration or failing that from former insiders from the legal firms defending the former insiders of the Trump administartion that are being investigated by the teams investigating the Trump administration.
  3. No, no luck on Tim negotiating a book deal from the Satsuma Spider God – in fact as no appaling Satsuma Spider God apocalypse has not happened, Tim is beginning to doubt whether there really is a Satsuma Spider God hidden on a secret floor in Trump Tower.
  4. Timothy is still hoping that Bortsworth Quest is nominated for a Dragon Award. I told him that is both silly and narcissistic. He said that I can’t even spell “narcissistic” and I said “it is easier to spell than you would thing” and I think I was write. Damn. I meant “right”. Look, that isn’t a mispelling- that’s just accidently putting a different word down like when I write “think” instead of “thing”.
  5. Jon Del Arroz has started his own answer to Sad Puppies called “Happy Frogs” http://happyfrogs.org/2017/06/23/happy-frogs-official-dragon-award-recommendations/
  6. Why are we even linking to that, is what I want to know? Tim says I have to as it has Declan Finn listed and “It is about time he won a Dragon Award – what even is the point of the Dragon Award if Declan Finn doesn’t win one”.

Hugo 2017: Best Graphic Story

There is a lot to praise in this category. There is a lot of variety in the styles of stories and the finalists genuinely look like a selection of what is worth paying attention to in the field. Particular congratulations to the Hugo packet organiser, who manage to get full versions of the works into the packet.

Less good in terms of variety is that the finalists split neatly between Marvel and Image. Possibly as a legacy of the previous Rabid vandalism, people have gone for safer choices?

How to pick? I think it is important that what gets rewarded is story. That doesn’t mean artwork or other elements of graphic stories be ignored but it does mean that story comes first. Each of the finalists are part of either an on-going series or volumes of a longer story. Judging them needs to take into account the extent that what we are seeing is an incomplete part of something longer.

In reverse order:

7. No ‘No Award’ in this category. All good stuff, worth reading and worthy of a nomination.

6. Black Panther, Volume 1: A Nation Under Our Feet, written by Ta-Nehisi Coates, illustrated by Brian Stelfreeze (Marvel). Off to Wakanda to see what the Black Panther is up to and it is bad news all round. This is a story about the perils of being in charge and the emphasis is on things spiralling out of control. It is both a bug and a feature of the story that multiple story lines are competing for attention but overall this volume by itself is unsatisfying. This is all set-up and while it cleverly depicts a good man desperately trying to hold a country together amid gathering crisis, it isn’t in itself a succesful story.

5. Saga, Volume 6, illustrated by Fiona Staples, written by Brian K. Vaughan, lettered by Fonografiks (Image). The Staples/Vaughan space opera about star-crossed lovers keeps powering on. Tricky to review because this is Volume 6 in what has always been quite openly a saga. Read it, enjoy it but if you haven’t read volumes 1 to 5, it won’t make a lot of sense.

4. The Vision, Volume 1: Little Worse Than A Man, written by Tom King, illustrated by Gabriel Hernandez Walta (Marvel). The Vision, the synthetic being who is also a long running member of The Avengers, has constructed himself a family and moved to the suburbs. The premise suggests either comedy or a sprialling descent into suburban psychological horror and the writers decided not to pick comedy. Secrets and lies confront bigotry and fear and things just get worse. It is well put together but I found it dissatisfying and so much of the story relies on the central characters not anticipating events.

3. Paper Girls, Volume 1, written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Cliff Chiang, colored by Matthew Wilson, lettered by Jared Fletcher (Image). Another Brian K. Vaughan entry – this time a Stranger Things like 1980s set story about a group of teenage girls who deliver newspapers in a suburban neighbourhood. Things get weird very quickly as a future factional war and time-travel intrude into their lives. Entertaining but I feel the story could have gone slower and given more time for the characters of the girls to be fleshed out a bit more.

2. Ms. Marvel, Volume 5: Super Famous, written by G. Willow Wilson, illustrated by Takeshi Miyazawa (Marvel). Ironically this is the most conventional of the finalists in so far as it is a Marvel superhero comic with cameos from Iron Man and features Hydra as the bad guys (minor spoiler there – sorry). Yet it is also the finalist that offers a complete story arc for its character as Ms Marvel tackles the demands of being an Avenger, corporate gentrification, mind control, school life and the demands of her somewhat traditional Pakistani-American family. Witty and humane, Ms Marvel navigates a tricky line between falling into pastiche and parody of the superhero genre while not taking itself too seriously. You don’t need to have read the previous volumes but you do need a sense of who is who.

1. Monstress, Volume 1: Awakening, written by Marjorie Liu, illustrated by Sana Takeda (Image). Dense and detailed both in plot and artwork, this volume feels longer than it is but in a good way. A fantasy with some substantial world building set in a world split between humans and half-human ‘Arcanics’ as well as a sinister holy order of witches (on the human side) and some kind of god-like demons. Also, it has talking cats in it – more than one! Great stuff and a standout in a high quality field.

Genesis of the Puppies

Just when I think I’ve definitely not got any more links to add to the Puppy Kefuffle Timeline, I find a blog post I had never read before that falls right at the start of the first Sad Puppy campaign. I was looking because of a comment elsewhere made me want to see what Puppy-aligned people had been saying about the Hugo Awards *prior* to Sad Puppies 3. People who have followed the kerfuffle are nodoubt familiar with the position Puppies hold now but what were they saying prior, before all the shouting started?

The answer, on the whole, is not a lot or at least not where it is visible.

However, this post by Sarah Hoyt at her blog stands out:

Before people think Human Wave is cool and try to imitate it, we must make them know it exists. Besides, a lot of them walked away from the fifth “and then everyone died” supposed space-opera and aren’t reading anymore. We need to let them know we’re here.

Only right now, no one does. We’re out in the hall and making bad jokes, but they can just ignore us. We must get in, so we can throw rubbery rolls at the self-adoring speakers.

Yesterday I had a brain storm and I thought: Awards. (I also made a typo, the rest of you — infants — have been having WAY too much fun with.)

Before you pelt me with rubber rolls – even two years ago, I’d have been the first to say “oh, not awards, they’re SOOOOOOO stuffy.”

But the thing is in indie publishing, and in all publishing as it moves to Amazon and other electronic venues, being able to put on the cover a little seal that says “winner of the blah blah award” (we’re not calling it a blah blah award. No, you can’t talk me into it.) does give you a huge leg up. Most of the readers who are rediscovering SF (or anything else) because they can finally find stuff they want to read, see the Hugo and it doesn’t say to them “Award given by small group of people who attend Worldcon.” They see “Award” which means someone other than the author’s cat read this masterpiece and approved of – or at least finished—it. That means they’re twice as likely to buy it.

https://accordingtohoyt.com/2013/02/23/awards-rubber-rolls-and-humans-waving/

!

It is like looking at the branching point of an alternate timeline – a nicer one really. I don’t want people to see this as me mocking Hoyt for not getting her award started – it isn’t a trivial task and Hoyt herself pointed out the complexities. What is relevant here is that ‘movements’ of people often require something that helps coordinate them motivationally and not just organisationally i.e. a reason to make an effort to do something. In this case Hoyt’s ‘Human Wave’ movements was in a chicken-egg/catch-22: an award was an idea to get that kind of motivational coordination BUT to get an award off the ground you already need that kind of motivational coordination.

What is noticeable is that the difference between current Puppy rhetoric about awards (that they don’t matter and everybody ignores them and please vote in the Dragon Awards) and Sarah Hoyt’s viewpoint at the time.

In our timeline, Larry Correia had already begun his attempt to get himself nominated for a Hugo (in what would become retrospectively called Sad Puppies 1). Larry offered a simpler task (freep an existing award) to his larger fanbase.

Spam Filter

I had an increase in spam recently. A lot of it was unpleasant comments about Taylor Swift (truly) – the same comment but from different addresses and then the same comment again but with random mispellings.

I zeroed the spam filter (sorry Phantom) and shortly thereafter in popped another another message:

spam.png

It is spam obviously and declared to be such by whatever Bayesian algorithms are running the spam filter. But…what is it for? An advert for being a freelance paralegal? What is a freelance paralegal anyway? Is it an attempt to create links for “linux.org” – which appears to be a Linux forum?

Searches on the IP address takes me straight to a spam reporting website which lists a long list of comments caught by other spam filters on othe rblogs for the same IP address. Often, but always, linked to a Linux.org or similar website but sometimes no website or the BBC.

Anyway, no, changing into a freelance paralegal would not be a good possibility for me.

 

 

 

Tuesday Beer: Galactopus @LittleBangBrew

It’s a Tuesday evening and I’ve a hectic day of work tomorrow, so I probably shouldn’t consume three cans of 10% abv barelywine but…
…I know my readers would WANT me to drink a beer called “Galactopus”, which features a planet devouring octopus on the label.

The sacrifices I make for you all.

https://www.littlebang.com.au/beers

It was very nice and made my head spin somewhat.