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The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin, since it is, after all, convention homework of a sort.

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...this was a brand new thing.

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Ms. Green: no offense, but in case you actually are paying attention the chief reason why the Sad Puppies are "called all sorts of names" is because Larry Correia, Brad C. Torgersen and their fellow travelers blatantly gamed the Hugo Award nominating process two years in a row and then acted like rancorous assholes - loudly, and repeatedly - when they lost.

Then again, considering your embrace of a certain individual who can apparently engage in this sort of name calling (as long as he burns down the Hugos to your liking, of course) as a comrade in arms, I'll have to consider your judgment concerning matters like this as being just a little, well, suspect.

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It takes a special kind of obnoxious to be John C. Wright these days.

It isn't just the past odd behavior he displayed towards an animated series that displayed approximately one moment of supposedly questionable morality that caused him to go completely nuts online. It's any number of things beyond that (a few of which are pointed out here), but the one that finally caused me to comment here is the wonderful, wonderful job he recently did sucking up to an especially unpalatable dipshit in order to apparently restart their mutual vendetta against "Puppy-kickers", which apparently includes anyone who chooses to crack open a SF novel that might not have been authored by the flatulent ghost of Benito Mussolini.

First things first, though. This is the tongue bath that he gives the unfathomable Mr. Beale as quoted in a post from File 770:

The Puppy-kickers are our ideological foes bent on replacing popular and well crafted sci fi tales with politically correct science-free and entertainment-free moping dreck that reads like something written by a highschool creative writing course dropout.

The Puppy-kickers have repeatedly and vehemently assured us assured us that soliciting votes from likeminded fans for stories you judge worthy was a “slate” and therefore was (for reasons not specified) totally and diabolically evil and wrong and bad, was not something insiders had been doing for decades, and was always totally inexcusable, except when they did it, and voted in a slate to grant ‘No Award’ to categories where they had lost their stranglehold over the nominations.

In that spirit, I hereby officially announce in my capacity as the Grand Inquisitor of the Evil Legion of Evil Authors, that the following list is the recommended reading list of our Darkest Lord only, and not a voting slate.

These are the recommendations of my editor, Theodore Beale, aka Vox Day, the most hated man in Science Fiction, but certainly the best editor I have had the pleasure to work with.

Wow. Pompous, self-servingly inaccurate and vitriolic. Three great tastes that taste great together.

Memo to John: there's an actual reason why Beale is so hated in SF circles. It's because he's done everything to destroy those same SF circles (ineptly and without success, but the effort is still there) as we know them. And because he's a vituperative fascist crank. On practically everything. I mean, you have actually read some of the stuff he's written in the past, right?

But beyond that, this is what gets me: a few weeks ago, David G. Hartwell passed away. As is pointed out in the File 770 link above, he was John C. Wright's editor at Tor Books - you know, the same Tor Books Wright now wants people to forget was his former publisher. Even Wright managed to come to his senses for once and was quite respectful of  Hartwell after his death.

But now Beale is the best editor he's ever had the pleasure to work with, despite not possessing a single molecule of the same sort of talent Hartwell had, much less the graciousness.

Sure. Of course. Two birds of a feather, etc.

It just affirms that whatever resides under Wright's fedora, it's certainly not helping him to think.

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Hugo winner: The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu (translation, Ken Liu), 2015

My take: in many ways, this is the exact opposite of what can be stereotypically termed an "action-packed" SF novel; the violence it depicts - although occasionally quite brutal, as with the opening chapter that occurs during the Cultural Revolution - is either in flashback form or so much at a remove from anything currently happening in the main plot of the novel that the violence is more of a news report than a direct threat to any of the main characters. That's not to say that Three-Body isn't full of menace. Without resorting to spoilers, the Trisolarans are one of the most ominous alien invasion forces recently dreamt up by an author specifically because they're so subtle in terms of strategy. They don't need death rays, UFOs or other varieties of  traditional BEM-style super-weapon to deal with their future human antagonists because what they have in their arsenal is both so subtle as to be nearly invisible and so powerful that it could put humanity in a potential tailspin years before the invasion actually happens. But don't take my word for it; read the book.

Nuggety?: You really might want to re-read the previous paragraph if you think so.

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The Martian Inca by Ian Watson.

Now reading

Nov. 9th, 2015 04:37 pm
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The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu, also due to the fact that it's a homework assignment for an upcoming SF convention.

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Hugo nominee: Count Zero by William Gibson, 1987

My view: It could be the fact that I empathized a lot more with Count Zero's Turner than I did with Case in Neuromancer; it could be the fact that I first read CZ at an emotionally stressful time in my life (the unexpected death of my father due to post-surgery complications in 1990) that somehow caused the novel to remain especially vivid in my memory; or it could be that it's just a damn good novel. It's certainly full of the twists, turns and strong characterization that make Gibson such an vital writer at his best, but whatever the reasons, CZ still remains a favorite of mine to this day.

Nuggety?: Nah.

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Hugo nominee: The Peace War by Vernor Vinge, 1985

My view: Sure, it's a lot closer to the traditional idea of hard SF than most of the novels I've read (it was serialized in Analog, so there's your proof), but that's not to say I couldn't - or didn't - enjoy the hell out of it. I ended up getting a hardcover copy as a freebie at a local convention (Capricon, probably) shortly after its publication and it serves as proof that sometimes you get far more than what you pay for.

Nuggety?: I'm going with "no" on this one as well; Vinge has rhetorical points to make in this book, but he does it in a way that seems more than a little too subtle for the likes of what Torgersen and co. seem to think is suitable for Sad Puppy-approved SF. Plus, Vinge's small-l libertarian (read: probably not Objectivist) technophile streak wouldn't sit too well with a John C. Wright or a V*x D*y, either.

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Hugo nominee: Beyond the Blue Event Horizon by Frederik Pohl, 1981

My view: It's a continuation of Gateway, to be sure, but Pohl never stoops to the lazy pattern of writing more of the same formulaic crowd-pleasing material (what I lovingly term "fanwank") in order to please an equally lazy audience. Indeed, if he had done that Beyond would've probably never come close to receiving the Hugo and Nebula nominations it did. As stated before, Pohl's ability to be a challenging writer well into his years was as much a way of defying the clichés of old age as a degree of abnormally robust physical health. He may have been getting older but he certainly never started thinking that way. 

Nuggety?: Hardly.

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Hugo nominee: Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said by Philip K. Dick, 1975

My view: I suppose this was a sign of things to come in terms of my tastes in SF; it's been decades since I've read this, yet the feel of the novel's oppressive atmosphere has remained in my mind since I read it and was one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much.

The nightmarish alternate world that Jason Taverner is thrust into after a failed murder attempt embodies the word "Kafkaesque" with a vengeance, but unlike PKD's earlier works the usual sense of paranoia is leavened by certain degree of empathy that points a way out of the maze Taverner has been thrust into no matter how dark his personal universe has become. It seems like PKD was becoming something of a humanist (albeit a very odd version of one) in his later years, and this novel is strongly indicative of that fact.

Nuggety?: Not even close.

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Elric at the End of Time by Michael Moorcock.

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Hugo nominee: Dying Inside by Robert Silverberg, 1973

My view: There is no doubt as to what David Selig is in this book. He's a telepath.

He's also a complete and utter wreck of a human being because of it.

This is easily one of Robert Silverberg's darkest novels (at least of the ones I've read) because he pulls absolutely no punches about Selig's many psychological shortcomings or the supposed gift of telepathy.That "gift" has helped shaped Selig into an opportunistic, ethically void grifter who is just as incapable of any sort of real emotional connection to another human being as anyone suffering from severe Asperger syndrome or full-blown autism. He's not a particularly likable protagonist as a result, but that's the point: Silverberg's ultimate message is that taking the easy way out from real human emotional give-and-take (in short, normal human interaction) is no real gift at all - it's one of the worst curses anyone can suffer in life.

Nuggety?:  Only if you're into chewing gravel.

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Hugo nominee: The Book of Skulls by Robert Silverberg, 1973

My view: Silverbob's SF (or fantasy, in this case) is particularly rewarding when he goes into the dark corners of the human psyche and shines a flashlight around and he does it with a vengeance both here and in Dying Inside, which also picked up a Hugo nomination in '73. This is less a story about a mystical quest for immortality than it is of the limits of friendship and how far someone will allow their ethics to be mutilated in the name of an overriding goal, and it's no surprise that this was probably one of the works that caused Silverberg so much distress that he wrote less and less often in the seventies due to the emotional strain it caused. Admittedly, it's not easy to read. Which it to say that you should.

Nuggety?: Afraid not.

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Hugo nominee: Bug Jack Barron by Norman Spinrad, 1970

My view: It's no surprise that this particular novel came out in 1969 and actually got things horribly right about trends in mass media decades before they became prevalent (the yapping-dog hothead as media pundit theme in BJB is especially galling to think about in this day and age); it's not even close to being a subtle novel (again, not surprising for the late 60's), but Spinrad's theme of trading your ethics in for a quick shot at "immortality" (as ersatz and disgusting as the form of it offered in this novel is) is just as frightening now as it was in '69. Even more so, since any number of more contemporary events (do not click on this link if you're concerned about spoilers) have turned out to be sickeningly true.

Nuggety?: You'd have one hell of an imagination in order to think so.

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