Category: Stuff

Just an additional note on the 20booksto50K Nebula not-a-slate

This is more for completeness and general curiosity. An earlier post on the same Facebook group was posted in November last year:

“Jonathan Brazee shared a link. 16 November 2018 SFWA MEMBERS (Associate and Active) (Message approved by Craig)
Nominations are now open for the Nebulas. You can nominate five in each category. Indies have not fared so well in the awards, with only one work making the ballot last year. It probably takes 20 nominations to make the ballot, so there are certainly enough indies who have read each others’ works and can nominate. We can’t–and shouldn’t–have a slate to get an indie work the actual award, but we can get indie works visibility to that other members might notice them and read them. Then, let the chips fall as they may, and may the best story win, indie or trad. Below is a list of indie works or trad works from 20Books members taken from the Nebula Reading list. I have probably missed some, so please, let me know so I can add them. I will be repeating this effort later on. If you don’t want to nominate now, then please give support in the reading list. The more recommendations each work gets, the better the visibility. My feeling is that if a work is generally good, I’ll give it my thumbs up. For the nominations themselves, I will nominate the five stories I liked the best from the list. If you are ready to nominate, you can go to: You can change your nominations up Feb 15. If you just want to give some thumbs up for now, you can go to: OK, now for the list I’ve gleaned so far:
A Fiery Sunset Chris Kennedy
A Light in the Dark AK Duboff
Bound By Law Terry Mixon
Fringe War Rachel Aukes
Hidden Enemies Terry Mixon
Integration Jonathan Brazee
Masters of Fate AK Duboff
Quantum Civil War Stephen Aresenault
The Human Experiment Kevin McLaughlin and Craig Martelle
The Lost Ranger CW Lamb
The Moons of Barsk Lawrence Schoen
The Other Marilyn Peake
The Terra Gambit Terry Mixon
Today’s Spacemage Timothy Ellis
Yesterday’s Spacemage Timothy Ellis
Fire Ant Jonathan Brazee
Invasion Lawrence Schoen and Jonathan Brazee
Messenger R.R. Virdi and Yudhanjaya Wijeratne
The Squad: Orion’s Belt Stephen Arsenault
Unexpected Bounty Terry Mixon
Short Story
A Galactic Affair Craig Martelle
Dirty Dreams of a Dishwasher Robert Jeshonek
Driverless Robert Jeshonek
Here Be Dragons Lindsay Buroker
Interview for the End of the World Rhett Bruno
One Last Battle Timothy Ellis
Queens Iris . . . Jason Ansbach
Scrapyard Ship Felix Strange
The Gordian Asteroid Chris Dietzel
The Spike Nathan Mutch
The Stars so Black, The Space so White Robert Jeshonek
Where no Furry Has Gone Before Robert Jeshonek
Please consider supporting the indie works you like at least with the reading list. Then go with your heart for the nominations and actual vote.”


The Nebulas & 20booksto50, not-a-nudge-nudge-slate

The SWFA’s Nebula award finalists have been announced and Cora Buhlert has an interesting analysis here:

Cora notes the presence of several nominees associated with the 20booksto50 group. I discussed this group last year after they received several finalist positions in the Dragon Awards. The group is centered on helping indie writers write and promote their books and notable figures in the group are Craig Martelle, Michael Anderle and Jonathan Brazee.

So was there a 20bboksto50 slate? Well, they have a closed Facebook group but it’s not a particularly mysterious group or highly exclusive and I don’t thing it is a secret (but perhaps not well known) that they’ve had a recommended reading list for the Nebulas for a few years.

Here’s a screenshot of the start of the relevant post this year (I’ll post the text further on).

Where the “this is not a slate” looks more than a tad disingenuous is the asterisks next to some works based on number of recommendations which effectively singles out some works as a particular focus. Brazee also notes about the YA entry on their list “Last year, there weren’t six books that achieved the minimum required ten noms, so there were only four books on the ballot. If ten people have read her book, liked it, and nominate it before COB Friday, then it will probably make the final ballot.”

    • Integration** Jonathan Brazee
    • The Human Experiment* Kevin McLaughlin and Craig Martelle
    • Fringe War Rachel Aukes
    • A Light in the Dark AK Duboff
    • A Fiery Sunset Chris Kennedy
    • The Other Marilyn Peake
    • The Terra Gambit Terry Mixon
    • Jurassaic Jail Bill Webb
    • Dodging Fate Zen DiPietro
    • Fire Ant ** Jonathan Brazee (Nebula Finalist)
    • The Continuum Wendy Nikel
    • Star Brigade: Inheritance C.C. Ekeke
    • Messenger** R.R. Virdi and Yudhanjaya Wijeratne (Nebula Finalist)
    • The Rule of Three** Lawrence Schoen (Nebula Finalist)
    • Here Be Dragons* Lindsay Buroker
    • The Squad: Orion’s Belt * Stephen Arsenault
    • Unexpected Bounty Terry Mixon
    • CASPer’s Widow J. R. Handley
    • Interview for the End of the World Rhett Bruno (Nebula Finalist)
    • Queens Iris . . . Jason Anspach
    • A Galactic Affair Craig Martelle
    • Scrapyard Ship Felix Savage
    • Driverless Robert Jeshonek
    • Going Dark Richard Fox
    • The Spike Nathan Mutch
    • A Light in the Dark, AK DuBoff (Amy DuBoff) (Nebula Finalist)

Slate? Not a slate? Is it an issue if it is? Some of those questions depend on the culture of the award. The Dragon Award is 100% fine with this approach and the Hugo voters would see it as an anathema. I’m not a SWFA member, so it’s not my call to make regarding the Nebulas.

[ETA: Also see Nicholas Whyte’s analysis here ]

After the fold is the full text of the not-a-slate:

No slates down here…no siree

Timothy the Talking Cat reads “Ender’s Game”

Oh, this is one of my very best favourites! It’s a retelling of the famous fairy tale “the three little pigs” but instead of pigs, it is people and they are called “Wiggins”. People can be cute and funny in fairy tales too, not just pigs and goats and magic porridge pots.

So once upon a time there were three human children who lived in a cruel and cynical world. Everybody was fighting each other or fighting the space alien bugs from Starship Troopers. The bugs were really scary and are all like “we were in a really famous science-fiction story”.

The Three Little Wiggins were:

  • Peter: who is the hero and is basically the cat in this story but its a fairy tale so you make-believe that he is a human.
  • Valentine: who is Peter’s sister but a bit soft like a stupid puppy.
  • Ender: who is the snotty youngest brother. I don’t know why he is in the title. Maybe because “Peter is really smart” is a bit obvious.

So one day, Peter is bored with killing small mammals (and don’t we all get like that sometimes) and he says to Valentine: “Let’s use the internet to take over the world by arguing really well.” and Valentine is like “Sure, we are the best at arguing but let’s argue opposite sides.” “Sure thing!” says Peter. “Can I help!” says Ender (probably – this happens off screen I think) and the older kids are like “No, you are bad at arguing and just a snotty kid. Get lost and do something else.”

So Ender goes to battle school instead which is basically phys-ed and video games. Ender beats up some kids and then after that, he just plays video games because he is a loser. “Stop monopolising the TV with your video games!” is what Peter should have said but he doesn’t because he is on the internet being THE BEST at arguing on the internet. “I’m the best at arguing on the internet!” says Peter using his super secret internet troll name. “No, you are not!” says Valentine in a brilliant riposte. Everybody in the future is impressed by this because they’ve never seen two anonymous people arguing on the internet before.

People are SO totally impressed by how good the two of them are at arguing that eventually the whole world decides to make Peter King of the universe. “Yay!” says Peter, who built his house out of bricks. And he lives happily ever after.

Meanwhile, Ender accidentally commits genocide. “Ooops!” he says. Well that’s what happens if you spend all your time playing video games, which is the moral of the story. Any way he is sad because he wasted all that time playing video games instead of studying. “What am I going to do now!” says Ender, “I’ve got no qualifications, no marketable skills, and my only life experience is beating up kids and playing video games! What POSSIBLE career is open to someone like me?” Then Valentine shows up and she is very smart but not as smart as Peter and she says “You sound like you are perfectly qualified to be a WRITER!” Ender is like “Wow! I’m going to write a book about how those aliens I 100% murdered were really nice and also a book about how my brother Peter is great and totally misunderstood even though he is a psychopath.” Meanwhile Peter is really old because of relativity and stuff. Then Ursula Le Guin shows up and says “Did you steal my ansible?”

The End

Kingdom hats

It’s not the main focus of the show but as discussion has already reached the point of the merits of various hats on the show, here are three screengrabs from the trailer.

First, the Crown Prince has a hat with a kind of wide semi-transparent brim. Here he is with his bodyguard Mu-Yeong whose hat has a smaller brim because he is less posh (not a spoiler to say they probably shouldn’t open that gate which is boarded up for a reason).

Now if you think that might be a tad impractical, they both do some nifty swordplay in those hats and also push a wagon uphill while being chased by a zombie horde and the hats don’t budge.

Speaking of fancy hats under pressure, the royal guard get these red hats with feathers:

They wear those in combat also and on horseback.

Lastly, is the mourning hat of Lord Ahn Hyeon. Not a guy to mess with probably.

Hold on a mo…is the Red Angel in ST: Discovery The Mothman?

For those not familiar with this weird bit of modern folklore Wikipedia has an entry:

The mothman is, according to the folklore, a tall human shaped thing with big wings and glowing red eyes.

While the red angle is a tall winged figure that glows red but whose eyes you can’t see.

Both figures are associated with presaging, warning or perhaps causing disasters.

This in turn raises the question whether Star Trek Discovery is actually an X-Files reboot? [I recall a backwards X-Files-ish episode from TNG but I also semi-recall a more overtly X-Files but backwards episode from some other series (i.e. regular crew of the ship are the aliens being investigated by actual Mulder & Scully like aliens but I can’t for the life of me remember what series it was.]

[This post was sparked by this lovely cryptid’s horoscope by Ella Gato: ]

Wednesday Junk Food: Chilli Snickers Bar

The brave journalists at Felapton Towers continue to bring you the content that other media outlets either cannot or aren’t brave enough to bring you.

A chilli flavoured snicker’s bar, bought because I went into a shop to buy something to drink and then thought I should maybe eat this instead. Not that there’s anything new about chilli and chocolate — it’s often a winning combination. However, you can easily recreate the experience of eating this bar by sprinkling a small amount of chilli on a regular Snickers bar. Chilli is fine but if you are going to add chilli to something add some other spices as well to get a more rounded spiciness instead of just heat.

Meanwhile, in other good news “Gab” is melting down

Soon I’ll have nothing to write about…

The alternative far-right version of Twitter known as “Gab” is in a bad way according to The Daily Beast:

“Months after a Gab user allegedly massacred Jewish worshippers at a synagogue, the extremist-friendly social-media site is in the middle of a full-scale meltdown, freezing its signups on Wednesday. Gab advertises itself as a “free speech” alternative to Twitter or Facebook, but it’s more like a haven for violent extremists, including Robert Bowers, the white supremacist who posted anti-Semitic conspiracy theories to Gab before allegedly murdering 11 Jews in a Pittsburgh synagogue in October. Another pair of Gab users were accused the next month of plotting an attack of their own. The site suffered a financial blow after the incidents, with payment processors and web-hosting companies cutting ties with them.”

The social media platform that was so toxic that Vox Day got harassed off it, had some of its shady funding practices exposed by a Southern Poverty Law Center report:

Without access to private investors, Gab’s financial outlook is uncertain. Gab has lost more than $350,000 since it began operations in August 2016 through June 30, 2018. Gab can seek a third $1 million crowdfunding round in September, and given the speed at which the previous crowdfunding rounds were fully funded, the company may continue to survive on yearly injections of capital from a relatively small number of investors.

The catch line to the Woodward & Bernstein Watergate investigations was “follow the money” and I think we are seeing more of the shadowy funding of the alt-right being revealed.