Debarkle Chapter 19: SP1—How to get Correia Nominated for a Hugo

Cue plaintive sad background music:

“Hello. I’m Larry Correia, and I need your help. You too can tell stuffy literati types to go screw themselves.”

After his successful bid to be a finalist for the Astounding (aka Campbell) Award in 2011, Larry Correia made a second bid to be nominated for a Hugo Award in 2012. The post listed his book Hard Magic as well as some works by other authors as well as the blog Elitist Book Reviews and the podcast Writing Excuses for Best Related Work. As with his 2011 post, the main criteria for inclusion was that they were people he knew.

Continue reading “Debarkle Chapter 19: SP1—How to get Correia Nominated for a Hugo”

Debarkle Chapter 18: Meanwhile…2012 Romney versus Obama

[Content warning for racism, religious prejudice and accounts of mass shootings]

On May 16 2011 a minor sideshow in the Republican Party’s bid to oust Barack Obama came to an end: businessman and TV celebrity Donald Trump announced that he wouldn’t be running for president. Trump had been hounding Obama over the so-called “birther” issue but had been roundly mocked by Obama and discredited when Obama released the long-form birth certificate. Nonetheless, the flamboyant property developer had been posturing as a potential Republican candidate:

“In spite of Trump’s claims about being frontrunner in the polls, one published on Monday by the Politico website and George Washington University showed 71% of those surveyed thought he had no chance of becoming president.”
Continue reading “Debarkle Chapter 18: Meanwhile…2012 Romney versus Obama”

Susan’s Salon: 2021 March 28/29


Please use the comment section to just chat about whatever you want. Susan’s Salon is posted early Monday (Sydney time which is still Sunday in most countries) . It’s fine to be sad, worried, very worried, angry or maybe even happy (or all of those things at once).

Please feel free to post what you like (either troubling news or pleasant distractions) in the comments for this open thread. [However, no cranky conflicts between each other in the comments.] Links, videos, cat pictures 🐈 etc are fine! Whatever you like and be nice to one another 😇

A Superversive eligibility list

I’ve not seen anybody try to do this on the right-hand lane of fandom for awhile. L Jagi Lamplighter is compiling a great big list of 2020 SFF works on the Superversive blog. Sensibly she is keeping it low-tech. People put suggestions in the comments and then periodically she’ll update the list on the blog. The intent is to help people find books but also provide some suggestions for the Dragon Award.

Anyway, for anybody looking to do any Dragon Award number crunching, it might be of interest:

I rewatched Avengers: Infinity War + Endgame as a TV show

I mentioned in my review of the Snyder Cut of Justice League that I had recently rewatched Marvel’s grand finale of the Avengers films. I did this partly because I enjoyed the films but also because I had a theory that having watched WandaVision would improve the films.

On the WandaVision thesis, I think I’m correct. The mini-series made both Wanda Maximoff and Vision more approachable characters and also made their relationship feel more real. That was important for Infinity War were their early scene in Edinburgh originally felt a bit disconnected (a sort of by the way these two characters are in a relationship but are either side of the break-up of the Avengers) whereas now the relationship is a given. Likewise, the final battle in Wakanda has added tension and tragedy as the heroes try to find a way to destroy the stone attached to Vision without killing Vision. The horrible circumstance where Wanda is forced to kill Vision, only for Thanos to reverse that and then kill Vision all over again has extra force, which (bouncing back) adds to WandaVision.

Which takes me to an obvious point about shared universes and DC’s struggles: common plot points between shared films are less important than shared characters that we like and care about. For DC their current best player is Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, despite the first Suicide Squad film suffering from DC’s current movie curse and the sequel Birds of Prey being released in the worst possible year to release a movie (2020). Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman has had better films but less of an impact but still is the obvious second pillar on which DC can build a set of films with shared characters.

That people will keep watching rambling, inconsistent plots that feature characters they like is a fact soap operas have known for longer than I’ve been alive. Soap operas have maintained large ensemble casts with story lines that have had poorly established continuity but viewer investment in characters. Although I’ve not really got into DC’s “Arrowverse” TV shows, the success and popularity of these shows as a set of shared characters points to the basic formula of creating characters that people will follow.

Watching modern films as segmented TV shows using blocks of 20 to 40 minutes does little damage to many of them as dramatic experiences. The first Star Wars film by borrowing from older film serials, had a very segmented structure that has been repeated by the subsequent films. Likewise with the Marvel films, they typically have multiple smaller dramatic arcs with a few scenes that take the characters from one point to another with shifts from victory to defeat or vice versa. Infinity War groups set of heroes into different plot lines and has those plots interact. The tone and visual style shifts.

  • Thor’s cosmic setting
  • Captain America’s international Earth setting
  • Guardians of the Galaxy’s cosmic setting
  • Iron Man shifting from an Earth setting to a cosmic one

Other characters connect with one of these aside from Bruce Banner who move horizontally across them (starts with Thor, travels to Earth to warn Dr Strange and Stark, then re-joins Captain America).

Watching these various parts play out in smaller segments, works quite nicely for Infinity War. Of course, having already watched the film theatrically, I’m not actually wondering what will happen next when I stop at a roughly 40 minute mark. Even so, the beats of the film work out in a way that the initial issue confronting the focus characters has been partly resolved and some new issue or broader problem/objective has been introduced.

While Infinity War works as a TV-style mini-series, Avengers:Endgame is vastly improved. I enjoyed it as a film but mainly because I was invested in the characters and the time I’d spent funnelling too much money to the coffers of the Disney Corporation (who, let’s not forget, still haven’t paid Allen Dean Foster). However, it is a really odd film with quite distinct chunks and shifts in tone and even sub-genre.

The first act follow the immediate aftermath of Thanos murdering half the universe. With the intervention of Captain Marvel, what is left of the Avengers pull themselves together and set off to literally avenge… Only to find that the Infinity stones are gone and Thanos is no longer the threat he was. The huge defeat at the end of Infinity War never felt as subversive to the genre as it appeared because it was clearly not going to last, but this initial sequence in Endgame is more threatening to a superhero narrative. Thor kills Thanos but it is an utterly hollow victory and the heroes return to Earth even more defeated than they were previously.

The film/show shifts tone and pace to look at the world in the aftermath. Then, with the return of Ant Man shifts again with both the possibility of a solutions but also an emotional obstacle — both Stark and Banner/Hulk have found a degree of peace and even success in the new world. Another shift then into the semi-comic heist movie and unto the Captain America/Stark time-travel hi-jinks, Thor’s bittersweet return to Asgard and then into the darker sub-plots with War-Machine/Nebula and Black Widow/Hawkeye. There are entertaining bits and deeply flawed bits and as a single film, it is a dog’s breakfast but treated as episodes in a TV show, the shifts in tone feel less off.

The final two or three parts (depending on where you want your cliff-hangers) are the Avenger’s attempt to create their own Infinity Gauntlet and past-Thanos’s attempt to get it having used past-Nebula to infiltrate the Avengers. That’s all just following the natural gravity towards the humoungus fight scene and is the brainless superhero content we all signed up for.

Altogether, depending on where you take breaks, its 8 to 9 episodes long to watch both films as a single ‘season’ of a weird TV show.

Not a review of Falcon and the Winter Soldier

Yeah…ok. So two episodes in and I’m not bored. It’s just, I’m still not sure what to make of it.

Episode 2, without really doing any big dramatic twists, still managed to convey a very different sense of what is going on than episode 1. Now that could be because the show is a mess or it could be that it is really well plotted and doing a good job of revealing a complex world in layers.

Overall, this reminds me a lot of the Netflix gritty Marvel series but with tighter ties to the MCU and less punching. Decent cast, nice to see Erin Kellyman who was Enfys Ness in Star Wars: Solo but maybe her character is…Enfys Ness again?

So I’ll wait until next week and maybe review three episodes together and see what we have.

Debarkle Chapter 17: Vox Day’s Gamma Game

[Content warning: this chapter discusses some extreme political views that were expressly anti-women and also themes around sexual assault. In general, I’ll avoid direct links to extremist sites and use links to critics, in particular Rational Wiki and David Futrelle’s ‘We Hunted The Mammoth’ ]

By 2010, Vox Day had experimented with a number of different roles including being a musician, running a video game company, being a columnist/pundit and writing Christian fantasy novels[1]. A new decade would take him into a new sphere: the world of Pick-Up Artistry.

Continue reading “Debarkle Chapter 17: Vox Day’s Gamma Game”

Debarkle Chapter 16: Larry Goes to Reno

2011 was already starting to be a good year for Larry Correia. Early in January his 2010 book Monster Hunter Vendetta was number 5 on the Locus Bestseller list for paperbacks[1]. A week later, he posted on his blog a suggestion for his fans:

“The Hugo Awards are fan based awards given out at each WorldCon. Only people that have attended the prior WorldCon or bought a membership to the current WorldCon can nominate. However this year WorldCon is in Reno, so I know a bunch of folks that read this blog are attending, and if you are, you need to vote! If you aren’t going, but you want to vote/nominate, then you can buy a supporting membership for like $50.

You need to get your nominations in quickly. They are due by January 31st. The information is at the link above.

You can nominate up to 5 things for each category. I’m not telling you how to vote, but this is what I’m voting for. I think that all of these things are deserving of an award, and even getting nominated makes you look cool. I fully do not expect to win, because not even a single robot is raped during the events of MHI or MHV, but getting nominated would be neat and that actually doesn’t take too many votes.” [2]

Baen Books also listed Monster Hunter Vendetta in their Facebook post of eligible works[3]. However, Correia’s main hope was not a Hugo Award per se but the Astounding Award for Best Newcomer — the “not a Hugo” administered alongside the main awards, which at that time was called the Campbell Award.

John W. Campbell Award:  Larry Correia – debut novel: “Monster Hunter International” (2009) and sequel: “Monster Hunter Vendetta” (2010) from Baen – This one is for best new author that has come out in the last two years. And yes, I’m an egotist. But come on, I am pretty awesome.”


Correia also recommended two other authors for the Astounding Award, John D. Brown[4] and Dan Wells[5] both published by Tor and both Mormons from Utah. For other categories, Larry suggested other Baen authors and editors such as Sarah Hoyt, Michael Z Williamson and Toni Weisskpof, as well as fellow Utah writers Brad Torgersen & Eric James Stone for Best Short Story, Howard Tayler for Best Graphic Story, as well as the podcast of Brandon Sanderson, Wells and Tayler for Best Related Work[8].

When the Hugo finalists were announced in April of that year, Correia was (rightfully) delighted:

“Thank you very much to all of you that nominated me, and I’m especially thankful for all of the Barflies. You guys are awesome.” [9]

Larry was also delighted by some of the other finalists:

“I’ve got several more friends among the other category’s nominees. Eric James Stone in Best Novelette, Mary Robinette Kowal in Best Short, Writing Excuses for Related Work, and Howard Tayler for Best Graphic Story.”


Although he didn’t mention in either this post or the earlier one, the most high-profile Baen finalist: Lois McMaster Bujold’s Cryoburn[10].

The Astounding Award finalists do not typically get as much attention as the finalists for Best Novel. In early January (so unlikely to be related to any nomination), the website of the influential EscapePod podcast had published a negative review of Monster Hunter International, saying:

“I don’t have space to cover all the flaws in this book, so I’ll just hit the highlights. Because it was self-published and only later picked up by Baen, Monster Hunter International shows no sign of an editor’s pen. The characters are flat. The prose is stale and repetitive. The plot reads like something intended for a weekend of tabletop gaming, complete with prophetic visions from the storyteller to keep the protagonists on track.” [11]

Later in the year, Nicholas Whyte reviewed the novel provided in the 2011 ‘Hugo Packet’[12]. Whyte’s description of Monster Hunter International was not positive:

“I do have little hesitation in putting Monster Hunter International last. It is relentlessly single-tone, derivative and predictable, and I can’t see how anyone could rank it above any of the other works included in the package. To an extent the John W. Campbell Award is about the future of the genre; books like this take us way back to the past, with the incidentals slightly jazzed up for the twenty-first century, and I think it would be embarrassing for the genre if Correia won on the basis of this.”

In his ranking of the finalists, Whyte put Correia last and below ‘No Award’.

In later years, Correia would recount that either a “European snob reviewer” or a “British blogger” wrote either that “If Larry Correia wins the Campbell, it will END WRITING FOREVER” or that if Larry Correia wins the Campbell it will end literature forever”. I have searched for reviews saying these things but have not found them [13]. It is likely that Correia had read Whyte’s review as he would note:

“The other day when I was googling my name I found one place that ranked the Campbell nominees. They placed me at #6. Out of 5. 🙂 Apparently I wasn’t “nuanced” enough for them. Or as they said, I was a relentlessly single tone throw back. Oh, how the literati elite hate me.”

And closer to the convention he would increase the number of people rating him sixth:

“I am the least favored to win by the literary critical types, (in fact, I’ve seen a few places where they have ranked me #6 out of the 5 finalists) but that’s cool, because I am the only author eligible that has had a gnome fight or trailer park elves. (or as one critic pointed out, I am a relentlessly single tone throw back, and another said that if I win it is an insult and a black mark on the entire field of writing.) SWEET!  I’m so unabashadly pulpy and just happy to entertain, and thus offensive, that I make the inteligensia weep bitter blood tears of rage.”

Worldcon shifting location every year is one of the distinctive features of the convention. The UK based Worldcons have seen an improved representation of British authors. The proximity of Reno to Utah also may have helped several Utah writers (Eric James Stone, Howard Tayler, Dan Wells, Brandon Sanderson and Larry Correia) chances on the nomination ballot. The popularity of the ‘Writing Excuses’ podcast helmed by Sanderson, Wells, and Tayler would also have contributed. This is not to dismiss the relative talent of these finalists but just to acknowledge the complex dynamics of the Hugo Awards.

The 2011 Hugo Awards had the common characteristic of the old and the new. The headline Best Novel category had a gender split of four women and one man[14]. Among the finalists, Connie Willis and Lois McMaster Bujold were long-time Hugo favourites, whereas Mira Grant (aka Seanan McGuire) and N.K.Jemisin were relative newcomers. In the end, voters chose Connie Willis’s dual novels Blackout/All Clear, which by definition was a popular choice but was not well received by everybody. Fan-writer Abigail Nussbaum responded to the win by saying:

“In other words, Blackout/All Clear‘s win not only rewards bad writing, it rewards cultural appropriation and exploitative business practices.  It definitely has my vote for the worst best novel Hugo choice ever.” [15]

Larry Correia attended Worldcon in person with his writing friend Brad Torgersen. At the time, he reported a largely positive experience at the convention, aside from the hot weather.

“The Con itself was pretty interesting. This was my first WorldCon. There was a ton of fan stuff on the many panels, but not a real strong writing track. Sure, there were plenty of panels about writing, but it seemed like most of that time was spent on defining terms and genre “rules” as opposed to anything useful to the aspiring writers in the audience, like business or creative advice. There was a very distinct divide between what I’ll call the academic writers and the commercial writers. (yeah, you get one guess where I fall in that continuum). I participated in a few panels and observed a bunch of others, but that topic needs its own blog post.”

Several years later, Correia would add an addendum to the post saying that his experience was not as pleasant as his 2011 post depicted.

“In 2011 I was still under the impression that I could be nice and keep my head down and play along and maybe eventually they would accept me. I was a new guy. All of my peers and friends in the industry told me to only talk about the positives, smile, and not say anything. I was afraid that if I talked about the negatives, it would be bad for my career.

So in this post I left out the negatives and only talked about the positives. It was at that birthday party that I was pissed off and ranting, but Toni Weisskopf talked me down from saying anything. 

Brad was my roommate, and I vented to him about assholes trying to pick fights, and he warned me off of being anything but nice, and gracious too. Wow, have times changed. “

EDIT-4/10/2015 to the above post

At the time Brad Torgersen also reported the con as a positive experience and stated he was keen to attend the following year:

“Next year is Chicon 7, which I am 98.7% likely to attend. Both because of the potential for my name to be on the Campbell short list, and because Mike Resnick is the Guest-Of-Honor. You don’t say thanks to your Writer Dad by being a no-show at his GOH WorldCon in his own back yard — Mike lives in Cincinnati. So, barring a disaster, I will be on-deck for next year’s WorldCon. I deliberately played spectator this time, because I was new to the experience. Next year? I’ll be more actively structuring my time, to include putting my name in for panels and other events. After my cover story comes out this December, with the beautiful Bob Eggleton painting that was displayed in Reno, I think any lingering questions about my street cred can be laid to rest.”

Brad’s multiple convention reports [16] portray a convention in which Brad was able to widely network with many fans and authors broadly sympathetic to his genre stance or at a minimum, sociable. The convention program[17] show (rather like the Hugo finalists) a mix of the old and the new. That program included a two-hour session by the SIGMA panel. SIGMA was the think tank of science fiction authors that consulted with the US Department of Homeland Security on potential threats and responses[18] and which was a kind of heir to (and shared many of the same authors as) Jerry Pournelle’s Citizen’s Advisory Council on National Space Policy[19]. The convention also had a significant presence from Baen Books as well as from Brad Torgersen’s publisher at the time Analog Magazine and (as both Correia and Torgersen had noted) a major presence of authors from Utah. Major guests included the fantasy artist par-excellence Boris Vallejo[20] and comic book author/artist Bill Willingham whose Fables series as well as being a critical and commercial success, also reflected Willingham’s right-leaning views[21]. In short, it was a convention that had a lot to offer for a science fiction fan with right of centre views and this was reflected in the accounts of Larry Correia and Brad Torgersen at the time[22].

What is also notable is an absence. By 2011 it was difficult to leave no trace of widespread discussion on the Internet. It is true that issues with some platforms (such as LiveJournal) with deleted accounts can make it hard to follow the full back-and-forth of a discussion as it happened[23] but the opposite is also true — it is next to impossible to erase a discussion altogether. Trawling through LiveJournal or web-searches, in general, provide almost nothing in terms of negative reviews or criticism of Larry Correia in 2011. There may be examples that have since been deleted but we can say with confidence that Correia’s Astounding Award nomination did not result in a large or visible backlash within fandom. If anything, it was largely ignored[24].

By December, Correia was thinking about the Hugo Awards again and described:

“And while I’m thinking about it, if you’ve read Hard Magic and you are a WorldCon member or attendee, you should think about nominating it for the Hugo. I’m just saying… First off, it is actually really good and very original, and second, and far more importantly, the literati hoighty-toighty absolutely hate my guts, I’ll always just be an action-pulp-right wing-gun guy to them, and if I get nominated again their heads will explode. You have no idea how much joy I got from the reviews last year that talked about how if I won it would “end literature forever”.”

Whatever critics might say about Larry Correia, he has the natural disposition of a novelist and we can read drafts and re-drafts of the story about the time he was an Astounding Award finalist. A truer assessment at the time may have been that the “literati hoighty-toighty” were not paying any attention to Larry Correia. That would change and it would be Correia who would change it.

Next Time: Misogyny, the “socio-sexual hierarchy” and a long running feud. Vox Day versus John Scalzi.


Average Hugo Age

I can’t recall if I’ve posted this before but I needed the table, so here it is.

This is the average age (based on available data) of Hugo finalists and winners in the main story categories (novel, novella, novelette, short)

YearfinalistwinnerGrand Total
Grand Total44.345.544.5

I thought winners might on average be older, but the difference is tiny. The standard deviation is about 10, so don’t despair if you aren’t in your 40s.

Also, yes, I think Sad Puppies 3 pushed the age of finalists a bit higher than usual.