What should go in the 2020 Hugosauriad addendum?

I had a short Twitter conversation about the lack of Dinosaurs in this year’s Hugo Awards. There were two good suggestions from people:

  • Seanan McGuire’s InCryptid series has plesiosaurs in Book 5 Chaos Choreography. I’ve not truly engaged with Best Series but cryptids and prehistoric marine creatures are a different strand in dino-literature.
  • Omphalos of course does not dinosaurs in it because it is a story set in a world were Young Earth Creationism is factually correct. I do like it when things are defined by their abscence.

So post the Hugo results, I’ll do a 2020 addendum covering those two or maybe an essay each. Ted Chiang and Seanan McGuire themselves are relevant topics in a Hugo history as well, so that’s kind of neat.

Book Launch: The Hugosauriad

Two hundred and fifty two million years in the making, a book that spans geological eras, astronomical bodies colliding, and people getting upset at award ceremonies. Space! Big game hunters! A surprising number of priests! Atheist therapods! This is a book that has everything but a simple premise!

Let’s go back to the beginning. The Permian-Triassic extinction event aka “The Great Dying” was our planet’s greatest extinction event that we know of. Over 90% of marine species and 70% land species died off…hold on…that’s too far back. Fast forward a bit. The USA of the 1950s! A time of optimism, change and technology! Into that exciting era of rock-and-roll stepped the Hugo Awards for Science Fiction. The awards, often controversial, usually provocative and always interesting would become the premier science fiction & fantasy awards for books written in English.

Jo Walton’s Informal History of the Hugos did an excellent job of combing through the eras of the award to give a sense of the changes in taste and the dynamics of the voters. However, with so many categories and so many notable finalists, any attempt to capture the full breadth and depth of the awards is nearly impossible. There are many Hugo read-through projects (e.g. Nerds of a Feather’s current Hugo project http://www.nerds-feather.com/search/label/Hugo%20Initiative ) but I did not want to cover the same ground. So while I had considered a Hugo history project for this blog I never could find the right approach or a way in that would not be just repeating what more skilful people had done better.

The nomination of Brooke Bolander’s “The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters, and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat,” set me thinking. 2019 was, by my reckoning, the first truly “post-Puppy” Hugo Awards — the first year since 2013 in which the extreme right-wing campaign to influence the award was not directly visible on the nomination process. That set me thinking of an arc of three stories in which the Puppy debarkle had played out:

  • Rachael Swirsky’s movingly lyrical If You Were A Dinosaur My Love — a story hated by the right wing factions behind the Puppy campaigns.
  • Chuck Tingle humorous monster erotica “Space Raptor Butt Invasion” — nominated by alt-right trolls but which led to a spectacular counter-trolling by Chuck Tingle himself.
  • And the Brooke Bolander’s story in Uncanny Magazine, a combination of author and platform that was a fair illustration of where the Hugo Awards had come to in the wake of that conflict.

So, there was a hook. The past five years of the Hugo Awards could (sort of) be traced in terms of a set of stories with dinosaurs in them. It was, a decent enough idea for an essay. Now what would the first paragraph of that essay say? “Dinosaurs have often featured in the Hugo Awards.” Hmm, was that true or would I just be talking out of my cloaca? I’d need to do a bit more research and that meant surveying the awards lists for dinosaur stories: https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2019/05/11/what-have-i-missed/

Thanks to helpful readers here, I tracked down stories and the shape of the Hugosauriad became clear. I would write not a biography of the Hugo Awards but a dinography — a history using dinosaurs as the instrument.

Picking a single theme opened up a way into the huge scope of the Hugo Awards. Instead of just winners, I could look at notable finalists as well but more than that, I could look at stories that weren’t even nominated (in some cases because they preceded the Hugo Awards) but which were influential. It also meant that I could trace how one theme had changed and shifted in the genre over decades but also how features of the Hugos (such as the infamous No Award) had played out in multiple eras.

To my delight and surprise other themes volunteered themselves as if eager to jump on the bandwagon: the boundary between science fiction and literary fiction, the influence of changing scientific ideas on science fiction, the role of humour in science fiction, the representation of women as both authors and characters in the awards.

The Hugosauriad is not a comprehensive look at the Hugo Awards nor is it a comprehensive look at dinosaurs as a theme in science fiction but it is both a deep and varied examination. I have tried to vary the style and approach of the essays. Some are serious, one at least is very silly. Some deal with a single story in depth, others are focused on the wider context.

The original essays can be found on this blog https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/hugosauriad/ but I wanted to ensure there was an ebook version that could be read as a complete history. I considered quickly bundling things together but I was sensibly persuaded to spend at least some time tidying up. Thanks to JJ, quite a substantial number of typos and clunky sentences have been fixed! More may have crept in since!

The Hugosauriad: A Dinographic Account of the Hugo Awards is now available in multiple ebook formats. As always the cost is FREE and half price for dinosaurs.

It’s available at most ebook distributors except for Amazon:

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1023724

Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/au/book/the-hugosauriad-a-dinographic-account-of-the-hugo-awards/id1515818792

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-hugosauriad-camestros-felapton/1137089686?ean=2940164092702

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/au/en/ebook/the-hugosauriad-a-dinographic-account-of-the-hugo-awards

Scribd: https://www.scribd.com/book/463446289/The-Hugosauriad-A-Dinographic-Account-of-the-Hugo-Awards

Hugosauriad: Bibliography

Or how to read along to the Hugosauriad.

Below is a more comprehensive list but the main books I used include:

  • Dinosaurs! edited by Jack Dann and Gardener Dozios published by Baen Books. This has A Gun for Dinosaur, Poor Little Warrior and The Night-Blooming Saurian in it. They did a second collection Dinosaurs II which also has great stories in it but not any I covered.
  • A Fistful of Dinosaurs edited by James Patrick Kelley is another great collection and covers more recent stories. It included Think Like a Dinosaurs, Walter Jon Williams’s Dinosaur, The Measure of All Things (Saurs), and If You Were a Dinosaur My Love. It has a story by Robert J Sawyer (but not one I covered in his chapter).

Between those two collections you get a decent sample of the stories covered. Single author story collections I used include:

  • Ray Bradbury Stories Volume 1. This includes The Fog Horn, A Sound of Thunder and Tyrannosaurus Rex (aka The Prehistoric Producer) and a wealth of other Bradbury classics. I also quote the introductory essay ‘Drunk and in Charge of a Bicycle‘.
  • The Palace at Midnight: The collected stories volume 5 by Robert Silverberg. This has ‘Our Lady of the Sauropods’ in it as well as Silverberg’s introduction.
  • The Winds of Marble Arch and Other Stories by Connie Willis. For ‘In the Late Cretaceous’
  • The Thing in the Stone and Other Stories by Clifford D Simak. For the title story.

For non-fiction there two valuable sources:

  • Dinosaurs in Fantastic Fiction by Allen A Debus. This was the book that I should have read first if I was going to do this project properly. Unfortunately, I only got a copy quite late in the process. It’s a big broad study of dinosaurs in fiction and well worth a read.
  • An Informal History of the Hugos: A Personal Look Back at the Hugo Awards, 1953-2000 by Jo Walton. Itself a Hugo finalist, there are overviews and story reviews for every year of the Hugo Awards.

Full list after the fold

Continue reading “Hugosauriad: Bibliography”

Hugosauriad: Cenozoic – the end

In the end there were no more dinosaurs was the traditional end to their story. Cloaked in mystery they had departed. At first the story was that they had been out-evolved by clever, quick and adaptable mammals but that as a self aggrandising story invented by hairy primates bent on displacing each other. That tale was replaced by a story far more dramatic, one of death from the skies and an unjust disaster. Only recently have we come to see that the dinosaurs never entirely left but instead birds maintain their legacy and have always been with us.

I’ve run through sixty-seven years of dinosaurs and Hugo Awards and I’m not sure what I’ve learned. I expected to learn more about change but many of the more novel ideas about dinosaurs have been there from the beginning. The biggest surprise was how often dinosaurs were connected with themes of both revolution and atheism. The connection makes sense in retrospect but it was still a surprise.

I wasn’t surprised to see dinosaurs as aliens and non-alien dinosaurs slotting into the roles of aliens (either as intelligent beings or as monsters). Dinosaurs have always been an exercise in the creative scientific imagination. The gloriously strange Victorian dinosaurs of Crystal Palace park in South London have preserved our first attempts to imagine what these scattered bones stood for. The repeated reimagining of the dinosaurs from lumbering crocodilians to speedy murder-birds has paralleled the change of dinosaurs as symbols. Where once they stood in for a kind of colonial story of former residents displaced by superior mammals, they have become symbols of a lost ecology, being unfairly robbed of their planet by happenstance. Their extinction has changed to a memento-mori of our tenuous survival on a fragile planet.

The most noticeable relic of a past time across these stories is the big-game hunter. There from the start, the role of the hunter chasing the ultimate prize has faded from central characters to an occasional element. Not gone totally, as shown by Bob Peck in Jurassic Park or Rupert Graves in Doctor Who: Dinosaurs on a a Spaceship but still a fading trope.

This project has not been a detailed study of the Hugo Awards but rather a sampling of aspects of it over time. The most telling conclusion that I can draw is that they are mercurially unchanged and hence utterly different. The winners and finalists have always been a mix of future classics and quirky decisions, with a streak of fannish controversy and sometimes pettiness. The demographic shift in numbers of women finalists has been the most noticeable and significant change, this was accompanied by a similar shift in how women characters were portrayed overall.

Has the quality shifted over the span of the awards? I’m not sure this question is answerable. As much as I loved A Case of Conscience (the 1959 Best Novel winner), it is clearly a story that needs work. Where earlier works have an advantage is their capacity to broach ideas that has since become commonplace in science fiction. Conceptual novelty is a harder task for more recent writers simply because so much territory has already been mapped out.

The generational shifts have been made less clear by my choosing only dinosaur stories and the capacity for Hugo voters for nostalgia means the 1960s includes wrks by an author born in 1875. The sixty-seven years of stories represent well over a hundred years of people when measured by birth dates. The Hugo finalists have often represented a large span of years, enabling them to be both ahead of their time and nostalgic for earlier periods simultaneously.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this series as much as I have enjoyed writing it. I hope to have a collected ebook version together before the end of the year. Until then farewell from the Hugosauriad.

The 1990s were peak dinosaur

I have been playing with the Google n-gram viewer to look at when dinosaurs were appearing most often in books.


It looks like the late 1990s, in the wake of Jurassic Park was the top time to encounter dinosaurs in print.

But which dinosaurs? Here’s a selection:


The volume for brontosaurus surprises me and makes me wonder if that peak is Jurassic Park related.

I had to leave iguanodon off the search terms because the way the n-gram tabulates figures, the Fonz of the dinosaurs just dominates the 19th century:


These days the venerable iguanodon is level with the feathery newcomer velociraptor.

Hugosauriad 4.8: Uncanny Magazine and The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters… by Brooke Bolander

The history of the Hugo Awards is intimately connected to the history of science-fiction and fantasy magazines. For decades Best Novel winners were often first published as serialised stories in the most notable magazines. By 2019 the age of the news stand sci-fi magazine was long over, although some venerable magazines were still in publication (e.g. Analog) and Amazing Stories had returned via the power of Kickstarter.

The magazine was from dead though. The business models had changed and the mode of distribution was radically different but the Hugo Awards at the end of the second decade of the twenty-first century were still influenced by magazines. Uncanny is a ‘semiprozine’ a science-fiction magazine that pays writers but also has some of the volunteer qualities of a fanzine. Starting life at the end of 2014 just before the height of the Sad Puppy debarkle, Uncanny quickly gained a strong reputation for the quality of its stories. It won it’s first Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine in 2016 and then won each year up to and including 2019. Founders and editors of Uncanny, Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas have also been finalists in the Best Editor Short Form category in 2017, 18 & 19 and won the category in 2018. A total of six short stories published by Uncanny have been Hugo Finalists since 2017. It is an impressive CV.

Part of its popularity lies with how it uses a mixes of models as a business:

How You Can Read Uncanny:
” Uncanny issues are published as eBooks (mobi, pdf, epub) bimonthly on the first Tuesday of each month through all of the major online eBook stores. Every issue contains 5-6 new short stories, 1 reprinted stories, 3 poems, 4 nonfiction essays, and 2 interviews, at minimum.
Subscribers and those purchasing single issues get each issue in its entirety up front.
You can subscribe to Uncanny Magazine through Weightless Books. You can also subscribe through Amazon in order to get Uncanny Magazine sent directly to your Kindle. Subscriptions not only get you all of the content on the day of the release, they will also make it possible for Uncanny to continue past our Year Two Kickstarter.
Those reading online for free will be able to read the first half of the issue online when the eBook is released, but will have to wait a month for the second half to appear on the first Tuesday of the next month at http://uncannymagazine.com/.
We also produce a monthly podcast featuring a story, a poem, and an interview that is likewise released on the first Tuesday of each month.

Uncanny Magazine, About https://uncannymagazine.com/about/

Providing stories online for free makes it much easier for people to share stories that they enjoyed which in turn helps any award buzz a story might get. Subscriber and advertising revenue is supplemented by crowdfunding for special issues. One such issues was the 2018 ‘Shared universes dinosaur’ issue (https://uncannymagazine.com/uncanny-magazine-issue-23-cover-and-table-of-contents/ ). The contents page alone shows the extent to which Uncanny influences and is influenced by the Hugo Awards with contributors who have been finalists or winners of artist, fan-writing, editing, short fiction and novel categories.

Editor Lynne Thomas has past form with the Hugo Awards and dinosaur having been the editor for Rachel Swirsky’s “If You Were a Dinosaur My Love” in 2013 at Apex magazine. A whole issue devoted to dinosaur stories arose out of a Twitter discussion in 2017 and evolved into a series of very slightly connected stories. The frame is a corporation experimenting with recreating dinosaurs and also with time-travel and perhaps inter dimensional portals.

“On the largest island sits a shimmering crater filled with mysterious energies, where dinosaurs sometimes wander and often end up elsewhere… or elsewhen. The portal, accidentally created by The Owen Corporation for unknown reasons, is a gateway to other worlds, times, and dimensions, and it is growing. Soon, the experimental dinosaurs may very well overwhelm the entire multiverse.”

The Uncanny Dinosaurs—Introduction by Brooke Bolander, Sam J. Miller, Mari Ness, Nicasio Andres Reed, A. Merc Rustad & Elsa Sjunneson-Henry, K.M. Szpara, JY Yang, and Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas, ed. Thomas, Lynne M. . Uncanny Magazine Issue 23: July/August 2018 . Uncanny Magazine. Kindle Edition.

The ten stories that follow place dinosaurs in different times and settings and genres. Only five of the stories directly connect with the “Owen Corporation” framing device, with K.M.Szpara’s “You Can Make a Dinosaur but You Can’t Help Me” looking closest. It follows the transgender son of the titular Owen of the Owen Corporation as he attempts to reconnect with his distance and unaccepting father on his Jurassic Park-like island. Red Lizard Brigade by Sam J. Miller imagines an attempted defection from a Soviet military unit that has gained access to dinosaurs via a portal that the Own Corporation wants. Bones in the Rock imagines a dinosaur who has been serially re-incarnated after a faustian pact at the end of the cretaceous, who is now a paleontologist searching for the bones of her dead lover. By Claw, By Hand by Silent Speech by Elsa Sjunneson-Henry and A. Merc Rustad is a story of deaf scientist attempting to teach sign language to a deadly raptor on the Owen Corportation’s island. Give the People What They Want by Alex Bledsoe uses the time travel premise to suggest a reason why people might attempt to make illicit videos of dinosaurs…

The other five stories place dinosaurs in more unusual settings. Mari Ness’s poem ‘Expecting a Dinosaur’ examines how social media would react to a sudden appearance of dinosaurs. Everything Under Heaven is a fantasy story with an East Asian setting where dinosaurs and flying reptiles have become an unwelcome intrusion of ‘dragons’. The Emigrants’ Guide to Oregon, California, and the Unknown by Brit E. B. Hvide, follows the doomed Donner Party on its 1840s trek westward but with the added addition of a ‘strange bird’ with a taste for meat. Mary Robinette Kowal’s ‘Nails in My Feet’ is a very short account of a puppet dinosaur abandoned in a cupboard, that I can’t help feel like a coda to Bradbury’s Prehistoric Producer.

The story I haven’t mentioned yet is Brooke Bolander’s The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat. It does, as the old advert on British TV used to say, what it says on the tin. Three raptor sisters and a prince who was indeed made out of meat (as they normally are). The story starts in a very familiar and yet unusual way:

“Once upon a time, long, long, long, long, long, long, ago, there were three raptor sisters, hatched beneath a lucky star. They lived in a wood together, they stole sheep and cattle together, and all in all, there was no tighter-knit hunting pride of matriarchal dromaeosauridae between the mountains and the sea.”

The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat by Brooke Bolander, ed. Thomas, Lynne M. . Uncanny Magazine Issue 23: July/August 2018 . Uncanny Magazine. Kindle Edition.

We’ve ,met as long ago as the 1950s, intelligent dinosaurs with functioning societies. More recently, Sawyer’s Far-seer had dinosaurs as protagonists within a dinosaur society. Bolander’s story pitches into a story where dinosaurs have a folklore and can partake in fairy-tales.

A foolish prince wanders into territory that is the hunting ground of three raptors. The raptors are surprised and decide that he must be part of some human plot. One of them (called Ceecee) decides to trick the prince into taking her back to his castle, so that she can ascertain what the humans are put to. Unfortunately for Ceecee, she had not planned on the obliviousness of the prince and she finds herself stuck in the castle. In the same castle she encounters the princess betrothed to the prince. The princess is both wise and a witch but is unable to win Ceecee’s trust. Inevitably matters come to a head and the prince using drugged meat manages to shackle Ceecee making her escape even more impossible.

“Ceecee was not asleep. She lay curled in a feathery heap in the floor of her stall. Already there were welts and bare spots among her snout plumage where the iron muzzle had rubbed. “I’m sorry,” said the Princess. “I didn’t know he was going to do this. I didn’t see it coming.” Rrr, said Ceecee. “He didn’t outwit me,” the Princess snapped, “he accidentally figured out how to stitch two thoughts together to make a third. But all that is beside the point. Listen.” Ceecee didn’t have much of a choice in the matter. “In my room, there is a scrying vessel, and in that scrying vessel I have seen your sisters, slipping towards the castle along the old road. They are coming to save you. If they kill the guards at the gate, more will come, with pikes and arrows and swords, and both of them will die.” All Ceecee could manage in response to this news was a low moan of misery. Her claws were dulled and her jaws held fast. Even if she escaped, how could she possibly help them? Perhaps sensing her thoughts—for again, this good mammal had many talents—the Princess raised a hand. “You cannot help them,” she said. “They cannot storm the castle by force. What they need now is stealth. They need trickery, and they need an ally to help them.” And here she smiled, with her flat, dull teeth. No beautiful curved sickle of bone, that smile, but it held its own kind of danger. “You cannot help them,” she repeated, “but I can.”

The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat by Brooke Bolander, ed. Thomas, Lynne M. . Uncanny Magazine Issue 23: July/August 2018 . Uncanny Magazine. Kindle Edition.

Ever since Bob Peck said “clever girl” just before being eaten by a pack of velociraptors in Jurassic Park, the dromaeosaur has been the dinosaur most associated with cunning and intelligence. In Bolander’s story Ceecee picks up the role of the folk tale protagonist who lives by her wits and whose natural intelligence and curiosity gets her both into and out of trouble. It is a surprisingly good fit that puts the raptor into a class of animal characters along with foxes and cats. Smaller predators whose cleverness can backfire against them.

Bolander’s raptors are modern dinosaurs not just in terms of their wits or their capacity to shift beyond the normal dino-narrative but also because they are beautifully feathered.

“The court was more than a little disconcerted when the Prince came back missing his prize stallion. The fact that he rode a rainbow-feathered creature with cunning eyes, a snout full of sharp white teeth, and lethal claws on each bipedal foot, was also the source of much talk, but the loss of the thoroughbred was a blow to all and sundry, for he had been a stud of some renown.

The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat by Brooke Bolander, ed. Thomas, Lynne M. . Uncanny Magazine Issue 23: July/August 2018 . Uncanny Magazine. Kindle Edition.

Of course I’m highlighting this story from the issue in particular because it was also a Hugo Award finalist in 2019 for best short story. Of the other stories in the issue, K.M.Szpara’s “You Can Make a Dinosaur but You Can’t Help Me” received enough nominations to appear on the long list but enough to be a finalist.

So where are dinosaurs at the end of 2019? The dinosaur as slow or redundant or past its time is not something we see but in this project we haven’t seen much of that view of dinosaurs. The idea of dinosaurs as intelligent is surprisingly old but a genuine change dating from Jurassic park forward is of some dinosaurs being cunning and wily. The association of dinosaurs with sex is a surprising development but not one confined only to porn parodies.

“On the screen, she watched the velociraptor mating orgy in the clearing ahead. Tails whipped through the air as partners changed, and high-pitched, bird-like cries rang out. It was a seething mass of feathers, claws, and teeth, with an occasional glimpse of the massive toe talons used both for killing, and for digging into the hides of mates. To Holden it was one of the least erotic things imaginable, but since the Breach of ’69, a small community of men—it was always men—had sprung up who found it unbelievably exciting, and were willing to pay for the privilege of jerking off to it. That image always left her a bit nauseous.”

Give The People What They Want by Alex Bledsoe, ed. Thomas, Lynne M. . Uncanny Magazine Issue 23: July/August 2018 . Uncanny Magazine. Kindle Edition.

The shift in popular understanding that dinosaurs, in particular theropods, were probably bird like is also a change in how dinosaurs are represented. The idea provides a richer range of templates of both behaviour and symbolism to draw upon.

Next time: Time to wrap up and call it a day.

Hugosauriad 4.7: Extinction event 3 – Vox Day, Alien Strippers and Voting Reform

Of all the stories I’ve covered in this series, this chapter has the most inconsequential. A story of little merit and no lasting impact, it exists simply to mark an end-point. It’s presence on the Hugo ballot was as a doomed attempt to repeat a prank that had already badly backfired on its perpetrator.

When last we met Vox Day and the Rabid Puppies in 2016 they were being mocked as losers by a performance artist/erotic novelist famed for unfeasible book titles. We will never know whether Vox had sufficiently mindless followers that they were wasting their own money on Worldcon memberships or whether many of the Rabid Puppy votes were fake accounts. Whether sock-puppets or meat-puppets, the exercise in ballot vandalism was not cheap.

Beyond the confines of fandom though, Vox Day could enjoy the electoral victory of Donald Trump. The so-called “alt-right” was in ascendence and Vox’s brand of extreme nationalism was drawing interest by news media.

Meanwhile the Hugo Awards had changed. The Sad/Rabid Puppy success at storming the ballot in 2015 had led to voting reforms designed to limit the impact of slate voting. One was a very simple change: in the first stage nomination vote, members would continue to nominate five works per category but the set of finalists would be six works. This change would ensure that a simple slate of five works would still leave one work as a finalist which would hopefully give voters at least one non-slated work to vote for.

The other reform was a new voting method called EPH. This system involved ordering nominees by number of votes but then eliminating lower scoring nominees in pairs by comparing the number of points each nominee had. The points were based on similarities between ballots in a way that would also reduce the impact of slates without having anybody ever have to decide whether something was a slate or not.

Day reduced the number of works on the Rabid Puppy slate hoping that would result in a greater impact. Indeed, in principle EPH would even give his nominees an advantage as they would unlikely to have much in common with other voter’s set of nomination. In at least one case (Fanwriter) the Rabid Puppy nominee became a finalist on points rather than raw votes, ironically beating a blogger who had been a very vocal advocate for the wonders of EPH (and who has a passing resemblance to the person writing this).

In the Best Novelette Category there were six finalists, five of which were non-Rabid nominees. The sixth was Alien Stripper Boned From Behind By The T-Rex, by Stix Hiscock. It doesn’t really need explaining that this was an attempt to try to make the same joke again after the previous attempt had headed off in to its own tingelverse.

Stix Hiscock was a pseudonym of course but at least one media outlet managed to interview her:

“”Alien Stripper was written as a lark,” Hiscock said. “I actually think it’s quite good, and published it not expecting anything to come of it. I just wanted to add shock and a little comedy to people’s day. Plus, making the cover was incredibly rewarding.”


The cover of the book does not quite match the contents. The stripper in the story is a green alien woman with three breasts who crash landed on Earth. She has taken up stripping to earn money to repair her space ship. The stripper partly shown on the cover isn’t green and appears to have only two breasts. Five minutes in photoshop with the hue-saturation settings and the clone tool and both those issues could have been rectified but perhaps I’m asking too much of disposable ebooks.

There are flashes of comedy in the story but you have to pick through the bits about laser nipples.

“The man turned to Tyrone, his hand still on me, smoldering. “Well now, I don’t think this is any of your goddamn business, now is it you fucking large theropod? Is it true you people only have a brain the size of a walnut? That’s what I fucking heard…” “You’re thinking of stegosauruses, buddy, and some of my best friends back in the day happened to be stegosauruses…” This he said through gritted teeth, and I tried to back away, knowing what was coming, seeing it in his eyes, but the man’s grip continued to tighten around me like a vice.

Hiscock, Stix. Alien Stripper Boned From Behind By The T-Rex . Stix Hiscock. Kindle Edition.

Or this moment later in the book where the two characters are sharing photos of their former loved ones:

“What happened to her?” I asked, walking on eggshells here, knowing it was likely a sensitive subject for him, yet I nonetheless felt as though I needed desperately to know. “A, um… A meteor got her… And my family… And friends… My neighbors… My church group… My dentist… My weed dealer… Pretty much everyone I knew, actually…” “Oh… God…” I said, feeling as though I’d just touched on a very bad subject that I shouldn’t have. “Yeah… It was a pretty shitty week,” said Tyrone, shrugging, and we continued in silence for a while. Eventually, just to put an end to the oppressive quietness and get his mind off of the mass extinction of everyone he knew and loved, I reached into my purse and pulled out a photograph of my own. “This is Charlie,” I said, and Tyrone lifted the picture to his eyes, studying it closely. Charlie was a tentacle monster, and pretty much just looked like a living bowl of spaghetti

Hiscock, Stix. Alien Stripper Boned From Behind By The T-Rex . Stix Hiscock. Kindle Edition.

And that’s about it for the story.

Porn and science fiction aren’t so very far apart. They both have sides with literary aspirations (in the case of porn, ‘erotica’) and both have histories in disposable literature. Science fiction writers such as Robert Silverberg have written softcore pornography to maintain an income. I don’t think Ray Bradbury ever wrote any porn as such but he was the subject of comedian Rachel Bloom’s sexually explicit song “Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury” – itself a Hugo Award finalist in 2011. Fans and fandom are not easily shocked or perhaps they are easily shocked but not simply by verbal descriptions of sex.

Of the 2,057 votes cast in the Novelette category only 45 went to Alien Stripper which was eliminated in the first round having been beaten by No Award by 31 votes. In the end the erotic tale of dino-romance would finish seventh out of six, which is an impressive result in some ways. Notably the story got fewer votes in the finalist ballot (45) than it did in the nomination stage (77). Members of the previous Worldcon have nomination rights in the Hugos for the next Worldcon. The drop in votes indicated that the number of Rabid Puppy members of Worldcon had declined even further in the previous months.

The Hugo Awards had met their end of an epoch extinction event and…had adapted and survived.

Next time: The rise of Uncanny and “The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters, and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat”

Hugosauriad aside – story rankings

This was both fun and tricky. Firstly, this is a mix of stories in different mediums and of different length and they come from different times. Secondly there are only four stories that I think are really subpar and only two that are utterly trash. The top 21 are all well worth reading. The top 24 include two stories by great writers but which aren’t their best. The last two are curiosities only relevant because of their context in kerfuffles. Three stories I haven’t wrote about yet in this series.

Rachel Swirsky “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” 1
Robert Silverberg “Our Lady of the Sauropods” 2
Steven Spielberg (director), David Koepp (screenplay), Michael Crichton (screenplay, original novel) Jurassic Park 3
James Blish A Case of Conscience 4
Ray Bradbury The Fog Horn 5
Michael Swanwick “Scherzo with Tyrannosaur” 6
Robert J. Sawyer Far-seer 7
Richard Chwedyk “Brontë’s Egg” 8
Michael Swanwick Bones of the Earth 9
Saul Metzstein (Director), Chris Chibnall (Writer) Doctor Who: Dinosaurs on a Spaceship 10
Clifford D. Simak “The Thing in the Stone” 11
Brian W Aldiss Poor Little Warrior 12
Brooke Bolander “The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters, and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat” 13
Walter Jon Williams “Dinosaurs” 14
Ray Bradbury A Sound of Thunder 15
James Patrick Kelly “Think Like a Dinosaur” 16
Connie Willis “In the Late Cretaceous” 17
James Tiptree Jr/Alice Sheldon “The Nightblooming Saurian” 18
Chuck Tingle Space Raptor Butt Invasion 19
Ray Bradbury The Prehistoric Producer (aka Tyrannosaurus Rex” 20
L. Sprague de Camp “A Gun for Dinosaur” 21
Anne McCaffery Dinosaur Planet 22
Edgar Rice Burroughs “Savage Pellucidar” 23
John C Wright Queen of the Tyrant Lizards 24
Stix Hiscock Alien Stripper Boned from Behind by the T-Rex 25