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Thursday, August 14, 2014

1939 Hugo Awards

My votes, as indicated in my recommendations. Bold indicates a winner.

Best Novel
Out of the Silent Planet by C. S. Lewis
The Sword in the Stone by T.H. White

Best Novella
Anthem by Ayn Rand
Who Goes There? by Don A Stuart

Best Novelette
"Rule 18" by Clifford D. Simak

Best Short Story
"Hollerbochen's Dilemma" by Ray Bradbury
"How We Went to Mars" By Arthur C. Clarke

Best Editor, Short Form
John W. Campbell

Best Fan Writer
Ray Bradbury

Rather pleased about those first two (on the bottom). Campbell was the one in which I was most interested. I'd quite like to see Simak and Lewis win, although I wouldn't object to E.E. Smith winning Best Novel for Galactic Patrol.

HG Wells won Best Dramatic Presentation for War of the Worlds. I voted for that too, but then, I'd be shocked if anyone didn't.

UPDATE: Hmmm. The Sword in the Stone?  I had it third on my ballot, but a retelling of Arthurian legend over the seminal science fiction space opera and a true SF classic? But he seems to be a favorite of the Moorcock-inspired crowd and I suppose a socially impaired British agnostic is always going to be viewed more favorably by the fandom crowd than a Christian apologist, even a British one. But I really would have thought they'd go for Smith, not White.

Three out of six isn't bad, but my take on this is that the Blue SF vote is still pretty small; it's enough to serve as a swing vote, but probably won't have much of an effect on Sunday. Regardless we'll find out soon enough.

UPDATE 2: Stats are out. It's a rough metric, but there appear to be 300 hardcore Pink votes who voted No Award over Anthem vs 160 Blue who voted it and Hollerbochen's Dilemma first. Just out of curiosity, I was interested to note that Out of the Silent Planet came in second, with 555 votes to 499 for Galactic Patrol which finished third.

Labels:

110 Comments:

Blogger James Dixon August 14, 2014 4:22 PM  

> UPDATE: Hmmm. The Sword in the Stone? I had it third on my ballot; a retelling of Arthurian legend over the seminal science fiction space opera and a true SF classic?

At least it's fantasy and qualifies for the award. And it's not a bad retelling.

Blogger Nate August 14, 2014 4:26 PM  

the chat section of the live stream was pretty amusing. Several clearly blue cats were participating. Someone even made a crack about the SFWA kicking people out for using words like "dame" or "gal".

Anonymous Krul August 14, 2014 4:26 PM  

The Sword in the Stone beat Out of the Silent Planet.

lolwut?

Anonymous VD August 14, 2014 4:28 PM  

At least it's fantasy and qualifies for the award.

There is that. But it's supposed to be a science fiction award. I mean, look at the trophy! I wasn't surprised that Lewis didn't win, but I genuinely expected Smith to do so.

Anonymous Krul August 14, 2014 4:32 PM  

Apparently the rule is that the explicitly derivative beats the new and original.

Blogger Jon Bromfield August 14, 2014 4:32 PM  

Watched the online streaming. Are cons always this lame? Sound wasn't even on until more than halfway through and then the voices were incomprehensible. Maybe a mercy.

Blogger James Dixon August 14, 2014 4:34 PM  

> But it's supposed to be a science fiction award.

I agree, but that's a battle we've been losing for a long time.

Blogger Jon Bromfield August 14, 2014 4:35 PM  

Too bad about ANTHEM. That might have been a portent of things to come on Sunday.

Anonymous Alexander August 14, 2014 4:36 PM  

Hmmm, one major difference though: The 1939 awards don't have you and Larry on the ballot, and so the pinks didn't politicize the 'No Award' option in order to force Lewis off...

I think our entry into the system and their complete meltdown over it could make us a bigger spoiler than our (assumed, based on the '39 awards) size would indicate.

Anonymous Salt August 14, 2014 4:37 PM  

A small blue SF vote doesn't surprise me for the 1939 awards, 1939 not being pink and all.

Anonymous Alexander August 14, 2014 4:40 PM  

That being said, I look forward to next year's nomination process, and seeing the shitstorm that brews when the Kratman makes the short list.

Anonymous VD August 14, 2014 4:41 PM  

Also, it appears the Novella and Short Story winners were those that I had ranked second.

Blogger CarpeOro August 14, 2014 4:44 PM  

"Also, it appears the Novella and Short Story winners were those that I had ranked second."

Perhaps they weren't secret ballots that year. Which means of course they lost. Because Vox.

Anonymous Doug Wardell August 14, 2014 4:45 PM  

I suspect that more WoT fans will vote in the 2014 Hugos than the Retro Hugos, so I'm still holding out hope, however small, that there might be a few upsets.

Anonymous Krul August 14, 2014 4:45 PM  

The Sword in the Stone is a very good book, highly entertaining, but unlike Out of the Silent Planet it's not serious. It's intentionally silly; much sillier than the Disney cartoon it inspired, in fact.

Anonymous Salt August 14, 2014 4:48 PM  

Look at the ballot count for Best Novel 2014. 1595 ballots. That's near double those cast for all the other catagories. How many got through the whole of WoT?

Blogger James Dixon August 14, 2014 4:50 PM  

> I think our entry into the system and their complete meltdown over it could make us a bigger spoiler than our (assumed, based on the '39 awards) size would indicate.

Well, let's the the 1,723 vote growth listed in an earlier post and do some basic math.

If we assume that 50% of the growth was due to the blue/pink feud (probably low, IMO, but who knows for sure), and that it's a 50/50 split between blue and pink (again, who knows), that means that there are 431 (to the nearest number, it doesn't divide evenly) additional blue voters and an additional 431 pink voters. That's less than an eighth of the total for each side, but if both sides wield the no award hammer liberally....

Blogger James Dixon August 14, 2014 4:58 PM  

> Too bad about ANTHEM. That might have been a portent of things to come on Sunday.

Anthem's main problem is that it's neither fish nor fowl nor good red herring. It's sort of an in between story that doesn't fully appeal to either the sf or fantasy camps.

Blogger Nate August 14, 2014 4:58 PM  

hrm... Silent Planet came in second... hrmmm....

OpenID cailcorishev August 14, 2014 5:19 PM  

The 1939 awards don't have you and Larry on the ballot, and so the pinks didn't politicize the 'No Award' option in order to force Lewis off...

Maybe not, but 300 people putting No Award ahead of Anthem is 300 Pink votes on ideological lines. It's one thing to vote for something else ahead of it, but to say it would be better to award nothing than to give it the award -- that's pure politics.

Anonymous Trevor August 14, 2014 5:54 PM  

No Award for Rand does not indicate "hardcore" pink. It indicates taste, and see Lewis's votes to back that up.

Related, if you are nominating and/or voting for Rand for a literary award, well, that is pure politics, and if you honestly think she deserves to win (yes, we all had our Rand phase), then politics have become personal to you.

Blogger Jack Aubrey August 14, 2014 6:01 PM  

I'm disappointed that Galactic Patrol didn't do better. I love The Once and Future King but Sword in the Stone is the weakest book for me. It was Doc Smith who taught me to love SF in my formative years.

Anonymous Daniel August 14, 2014 6:11 PM  

The Sword in the Stone is a very good book, highly entertaining, but unlike Out of the Silent Planet it's not serious.

I would have voted OSP ahead of Sword on SciFi grounds alone, but an interesting question is which one would have won had the Hugos existed then? The ironic thing is that Sword was very contemporary and modernistic in tone and commentary; viewing the 1500s version of the late Roman era Arthurian legend via 1939 with a primary character who was living backwards in time.

OSP on the other hand, was a remarkable counter to the conventional wisdom of 1939's science fiction. For one thing, it is, to my knowledge, the first science fiction novel to avoid equating intelligence and sentience with spirit. So many works of the 30s up to and through the New Wave make a brutal shortcut in alien relations; that sentience and "intelligent life" is the essence of communion with the stars.

Don't get me wrong: there have been tons of good stories and books about alien intelligence. Lewis was the first to step beyond that as a boundary and not despair. Clark Ashton Smith came the closest to providing a counterbalance to Lovecraftian chaos in science fiction, but accomplished nothing close to Lewis.

Out of the Silent Planet broke ground. It should have received the Hugo.

I'm disappointed that Who Goes There? won, too. It is a great story, and Stuart told it well. But it Lovecraft told it earlier and even better. No doubt it is a classic, but with such competition in the Golden Age, it should not have won.

Anonymous Mike M. August 14, 2014 6:18 PM  

I'd have rated "Galactic Patrol" first, by a mile...but the retro-Hugo Best Novel nominees remind me of the 1939 Oscars. Three Hugo-worthy works, each vastly superior to almost anything written today.

Anonymous Krul August 14, 2014 6:18 PM  

Re Trevor,

There are Randroids for whom the woman could do no wrong, and there are "post-Randroids" like yourself for whom the woman could do no right. The truth is somewhere in the middle, natch.

Anonymous Trevor August 14, 2014 6:22 PM  

Krul; no, she had some good ideas. But award worthy literature? I think not. If you are voting for Ayn for a Hugo, it's a political vote, but the same isn't true about voting against her.

Anonymous jack August 14, 2014 6:22 PM  

Since we're talking the genre this won't be too OT. I first read H. Beam Piper a Long time ago with Space Viking. Loved it, read it several times these past years. I'm now working my way through some 33 of his shorts and novellas and have yet to find anything I don't like. I even read his tribute to John S. Mosby the Confederate raider of much fame. It was straight history and filled in gaps in my knowledge. Did not know that Mosby in his later years living in DC had talks with young Lt. George Patton, and told Patton of his raiding activities during the War of Northern Aggression. This, supposedly, influenced Patton in his later career. Piper's Grandfather was with the Union forces in the Shenandoah and spoke to his grandson in the most complimentary terms of Mosby.

I discovered Piper's Paratime stories and the ones that dealt with the Galactic Empire after the time of the Space Viking sagas, and will be sorry when they are all digested. What a talent! Particularly compared to too much of present day SF. No wonder so many SF fans limit themselves to the old time authors.

Blogger Jon Bromfield August 14, 2014 6:24 PM  

Trevor, nice hit-and-run.

Yet again the old "...we all had our Rand phase."

(Implied: "And the smart and mature boys and girls got over it").

I call bullshit. ANTHEM is a powerful and beautifully written dystopia story, still in print after 75 years.

If the best SF is prophecy, ANTHEM objectively (heh! heh!) ranks very high. ATLAS SHRUGGED even more so as we're currently living though the second half if the novel.

That said, I would have given the Hugo to WHO GOES THERE, too. It's more entertaining.

Anonymous Krul August 14, 2014 6:29 PM  

Trevor, you're basically saying that her works had no literary merit whatsoever, and that it is impossible for a reasonable person to vote for them for any reason other than "political". That's a bridge too far.

Anonymous VD August 14, 2014 6:31 PM  

No Award for Rand does not indicate "hardcore" pink. It indicates taste, and see Lewis's votes to back that up.

Bullshit. It's one thing to vote something last. It's another to intentionally put No Award above it. Besides, you act as if we haven't read the various blogs strategizing about this sort of thing. Now, SOME of the 300 are surely taste, but the gap between the Novella No Award votes and the other categories gives us a reasonable idea.

If you are voting for Ayn for a Hugo, it's a political vote, but the same isn't true about voting against her.

Ah, so no one can possibly see the merit in her work? You don't seem to grasp that the awards are a) a popularity contest, and b) intrinsically political.

Anonymous Holmwood August 14, 2014 6:41 PM  

I don't think Anthem was great from a literary standpoint, though it was head and shoulders above anything in the 2014 short story category.

It wasn't terrible though; and certainly inspired other forms of art. (See Neal Peart and 2112 for instance). We The Living was perhaps her best literary work. I didn't share Vox's view of it as being first, but I'd agree that most of those leaving it off their ballots below NO AWARD do indeed represent hardcore pink.

In terms of influence on the field, and quality as a piece of SF, I had to rate the John Campbell (Stuart) higher, so I'm not unhappy with that result.

Atlas Shrugged, much though I loved it (and still like it) I have to characterize as pretty bad from a literary standpoint. Yeah, Trevor comes off as a bit trollish.

Blogger Nate August 14, 2014 6:46 PM  

" If you are voting for Ayn for a Hugo, it's a political vote, but the same isn't true about voting against her."

And yet Anthem is the only nominee still in print.

Blogger Jon Bromfield August 14, 2014 6:48 PM  

I have often challenged those who criticize Rand's "awkward" and "bad" fiction to cite examples and no one ever does. I first read the novels when I was 12; I'm now 60 and more then ever appreciative of how it's always effective and sometimes quite beautiful.

Many times I have found that those who disdain her writing have never read it.

Try listening to THE FOUNTAINHEAD as an audio book; spoken, the structure of her paragraphs and the cadences of the words really stand out.

OpenID cailcorishev August 14, 2014 7:00 PM  

"Trevor" is Tad's moniker for today, right?

And yet Anthem is the only nominee still in print.

Exactly. We're not talking about a random book from 1939 here. We're talking about a book that's an established classic. So you don't like it as well as something else on the list, fine. I didn't love it when I tracked it down after reading her bigger novels, either. But to say it's so bad that if there were no other books on the list, you'd rather burn the award than give it to her -- that's just stupid, and clearly political.

It's like if you were stranded on a desert island and could only have one book, would you rather have one of the others than Anthem? That's reasonable. But if you were stranded with only one book and it was Anthem, so you threw it in the sea? That just shows you're not really a reader.

OpenID cailcorishev August 14, 2014 7:02 PM  

And if you're not enough of a reader to show some minimal respect for a book that others have loved for decades, even if it's not a personal favorite of yours, why are you voting in such a contest?

Blogger JCclimber August 14, 2014 7:03 PM  

The irony is that Rand is an atheist who tried to construct an alternate morality - I have her book The Virtue of Selfishness around somewhere.

and yet the pinkies hate her because Rand despised the communist mindset, despised the pink worldview.

Blogger Krul August 14, 2014 7:11 PM  

cailcorishev - "Trevor" is Tad's moniker for today, right?

I doubt it. He strikes me as one of those resentfully disillusioned former Randroids who can't bring himself to admit that there was any literary merit to her work at all. Rather like a teetotaler who's a former alcoholic.

OpenID cailcorishev August 14, 2014 7:16 PM  

and yet the pinkies hate her because Rand despised the communist mindset, despised the pink worldview.

Yep. They would have hated her anyway for being an outspoken anti-Soviet, but the smarter ones also realized that "A=A" is a direct contradiction to their ideology. If they're going to try to put Orson Scott Card out of business for straying off the plantation on the single issue of homogamy, they certainly won't give Rand a pass, even posthumously.

Anonymous Trevor August 14, 2014 7:52 PM  

Besides, you act as if we haven't read the various blogs strategizing about this sort of thing

So do you think the "pinks" don't realize Lewis is one of our greatest champions? It just doesn't jive with your narrative

Blogger Nate August 14, 2014 7:59 PM  

'I have often challenged those who criticize Rand's "awkward" and "bad" fiction to cite examples and no one ever does."

Well... I can...

Ayn has the most irritating way of over-dramatizing every little thing... and note that the female characters... everything is about them. I could be mistaken but I am pretty sure it was Rand where there was a 2 page rant about how a man eating a muffin was a display of dominance or some shit. My head nearly exploded.

HE'S JUST EATING THE MUFFIN!

And don't even get me started on the speeches... holy God...

Blogger Nate August 14, 2014 8:00 PM  

"So do you think the "pinks" don't realize Lewis is one of our greatest champions? It just doesn't jive with your narrative"

No. He thinks we have incomplete and conflicting data... but Ayn's loss tends to indicate a limit of influence from the blue side.

OpenID malcolmthecynic August 14, 2014 8:03 PM  

"Out of the Silent Planet" didn't have quite enough conflict in the middle for my taste (it was in a lot of ways a very well executed sight-seeing tour for awhile), but it could easily have won for the trial scene alone. Brilliant stuff.

And ironically, that scene is probably why it lost.

Blogger Jon Bromfield August 14, 2014 8:08 PM  

"Well...I can..."

But you didn't.

I've read the novels over and over for nearly 40 years. I cannot recall anything remotely about this muffin thing. Please provide name of work in which it occurs.

Anonymous VD August 14, 2014 8:21 PM  

So do you think the "pinks" don't realize Lewis is one of our greatest champions?

Of course. But he is also one of the leading lights of fantasy fiction. If many of them didn't hate him for his outspoken Christianity, I expect he would have won. But he is not be hated as openly as Ayn Rand, who is a safer target due to her prose deficiencies.

It's not just that Rand didn't win, but that there was such a noticeable gap between the second-most first-place votes and the fifth-place finish.

Anonymous Trevor August 14, 2014 8:26 PM  

Or, Rand is a terrible writer, as per Nate.

Blogger Jon Bromfield August 14, 2014 8:29 PM  

VD, not to fixate on the subject, and with great respect, please....please provide an example or two of Rand's prose "deficiencies" and explain why they are deficient.

Seriously, I have never had any critic actually cite example and exegesis.

I would love to learn.

Thank you.

Blogger James Dixon August 14, 2014 8:53 PM  

> Try listening to THE FOUNTAINHEAD as an audio book; spoken, the structure of her paragraphs and the cadences of the words really stand out.

The Fountainhead is probably Rand's best work, IMO.

> So do you think the "pinks" don't realize Lewis is one of our greatest champions? It just doesn't jive with your narrative

The Pink's don't care about 1939.

> Or, Rand is a terrible writer, as per Nate.

Not terrible, just not particularly good. Especially wrt her fiction works. The fact that her works continue to draw both praise and criticism is more of function of the quality of the ideas they express than the quality of the expression itself.

Blogger Ghost August 14, 2014 8:55 PM  

Anthem was amazing. I used to be friends with a die-hard socialist, and he thought it was one of the best written short stories he'd ever read. Atlas was purely philosophical, and she used fiction to get her philosophy across. To deny that anthem was worthy is purely political, and there's nothing wrong with that. Just stop kidding yourself, Trevor.

Blogger Jon Bromfield August 14, 2014 8:58 PM  

Good grief...anyone....anyone! Please provide an example of a "...just not particularly good" piece of Randian fiction prose and why it is so!

And the main reason she is so despised by the Left is because she maintained that women must have a man to look up to, for their psychological health. That is unforgivable!

Blogger Nate August 14, 2014 8:59 PM  

"I've read the novels over and over for nearly 40 years. I cannot recall anything remotely about this muffin thing. Please provide name of work in which it occurs."

Dude I haven't read an Ayn Rand book since I was 14... I honestly don't remember. I do remember picking up Atlas Shrugged back when the movie came out and putting it back down after few pages because the style was horrible.

And yes... I voted for Rand in the Retro awards.

Anonymous dh August 14, 2014 9:07 PM  

WTF is the point of retro Hugo's?

Blogger Nate August 14, 2014 9:08 PM  

If you'd like I can go grab my copy, dust it off, read a bit and explain in detail why I think the writing is horrible.

I see no benefit however in ripping out individual sentences or sections and saying "LOOK AT HOW BAD THAT SOUNDS!" because its just pathetic gotcha game. There isn't a book on the planet that doesn't have some strange sounding sentence. And lots of things can sound awful when you take them out of context and drop them on a page alone.

That's precisely what the Rabbits have been doing to Vox with a sentence out of Opera.

Its beneath us.

Blogger Nate August 14, 2014 9:16 PM  

"WTF is the point of retro Hugo's?"

a chance to remember a time when Sci Fi didn't suck.

Blogger Nate August 14, 2014 9:18 PM  

"And the main reason she is so despised by the Left is because she maintained that women must have a man to look up to, for their psychological health. That is unforgivable!"

That's laughable. She's hated by the left for the same reason she's loved by the right. Her ideas.

The primary literary criticism of Rand is akin to Larry's criticism of the SJWs of today. Its propaganda. The claim is that her characters are just puppets for Rand's own mouth and her antagonists are just strawmen for the ideas she doesn't like.

Blogger Jon Bromfield August 14, 2014 9:21 PM  

Nate, I am not asking you to do what the rabbits do.

I am ASKING for example(s) of what YOU consider her "horrible" style and why YOU find it so.

I'm asking for it, babe! Give it to me long and hard!

Blogger Jon Bromfield August 14, 2014 9:30 PM  

"That's laughable."

That a woman needs to be dominated by a man to be happy is one of her big ideas, Nate.

And if you think this particular idea of her's is laughable you might want to take that up with VD.

Blogger Markku August 14, 2014 9:34 PM  

HE'S JUST EATING THE MUFFIN!

Sometimes eating is not just eating

Blogger Nate August 14, 2014 9:36 PM  

'That a woman needs to be dominated by a man to be happy is one of her big ideas, Nate. "

I don't think that idea is nearly as important to folks on either side of the divide as you do. In fact... while I agree... Dagny bears that conclusion out... that concept is so far down the list I am astonished that you think its relevant. The romantic interactions and subplots of Rand's work were simply far to tedious to be bothered with. I imagine I skipped much of it... because I am an unrepentant skipper you see. As evidence I also skipped whole pages of Corvus' tortuous speechifying in A Throne of Bones.

Blogger Nate August 14, 2014 9:43 PM  

"I am ASKING for example(s) of what YOU consider her "horrible" style and why YOU find it so."

Ok. Specifically I find her style to be horribly overly descriptive...and as I said before... she takes ordinary events... makes them far to dramatic... and then applies all kinds of silly meanings to them.

There's the seen in Fountain Head for example... when Roark is supposed to change his plan but will not. There was the nonsense about him trying to stand... about how he had to stand... the whole scene was tedious beyond belief. Yes! I get it! Collective! Individual! Integrity! Great!

In the end though Ayn is the Rights version of a SJW propagandizing. The story comes second. The Message comes first.

You're correct to point out that most of the left's criticism of Ayn doesn't actually focus on the writing but the ideas. But you're wrong to assume that because that is the norm... that there isn't substantive criticism available that has nothing to do with rejecting the message.

Blogger Jon Bromfield August 14, 2014 9:45 PM  

Seriously, you don't think the fundamental psychological dynamic driving the social and sexual relationships between the sexes is not "relevant"? It is the MOST important thing. Get this wrong and civilization get all fucked up. Don't believe me? Look all around you!

"The romantic interactions and subplots of Rand's work were simply far to tedious to be bothered with."

Yawn. A Scalzian cop-out. You're better than that, Nate.

Blogger Ghost August 14, 2014 9:49 PM  

Nate, I've often heard Stephen King's work described the same way, in the overly descriptive part. It's definitely substantive criticism. And yes, atlas was definitely more about the message than the story, but anthem was greatly written.

Blogger Jon Bromfield August 14, 2014 9:50 PM  

"... I find her style to be horribly overly descriptive..."

Specific citation(s), Nate? you know, Sentences or paragraphs with quotation marks (") at the beginning and end.

And if you find a passage tedious or overly descriptive, it had better be more than a couple of paragraphs!

Thanks much!

Anonymous B Lewis August 14, 2014 9:51 PM  

OT: Two white girls pay the Eloi Tax

Anonymous ProgSF August 14, 2014 9:51 PM  

Ayn Rand = Hitler

Blogger Nate August 14, 2014 9:51 PM  

"It is the MOST important thing. Get this wrong and civilization get all fucked up. Don't believe me? Look all around you!"

/facepalm

Mate... if you think that was the primary message Ayn wanted to get out there... you're bloody delusional. When Ayn was writing it hadn't even become controversial yet. I mean you really think the idea that a woman wants a man to dominate her was striking in the 1930s?

I realize that this is a big deal today. But in 1930 and 1940 it wasn't. Not even close.

Blogger Nate August 14, 2014 9:53 PM  

"And if you find a passage tedious or overly descriptive, it had better be more than a couple of paragraphs!"

Amazing. You dane to be an authority on what I find tedious? Fascinating. Tell me how did you come by this wealth of knowledge about me?

Blogger Nate August 14, 2014 9:54 PM  

"Nate, I've often heard Stephen King's work described the same way, in the overly descriptive part. "

I can't read King either. I've tried to read The Gunslinger I don't know how many times. Can't deal with it.

Anonymous Lowly Lurker August 14, 2014 9:55 PM  

OT:

Live from Zimbabwe

Blogger Markku August 14, 2014 9:55 PM  

Seriously, you don't think the fundamental psychological dynamic driving the social and sexual relationships between the sexes is not "relevant"?

You are equivocating. Look at what he said:

I don't think that idea is nearly as important to folks on either side of the divide as you do. In fact... while I agree... Dagny bears that conclusion out... that concept is so far down the list I am astonished that you think its relevant.

It didn't mean generally relevant. It didn't mean relevant to the survival society. It meant relevant to the liking or disliking of Ayn Rand's books by the two sides of the divide.

Blogger Alcuin August 14, 2014 9:56 PM  

WTF is the point of retro Hugo's?

No Hugo awards were awarded in 1939 even though there was a Worldcon that year. Since 2014 is 75 years after 1939, Worldcon is awarding them now.

Frankly, they should be held every year, just to see what's held up 50-75 years after being published and what hasn't. It'd be interesting to see what a 2014 Retro Hugos would look like in 2064 or 2089.

OpenID cailcorishev August 14, 2014 9:56 PM  

I don't think that idea is nearly as important to folks on either side of the divide as you do.

I'll agree with you on that one. Dagny is a pretty blatant exposition on hypergamy -- she gets that part right -- but the way the men in her life almost happily cheer her on as she dumps them to pursue her "higher value" in other men is obvious wish-fulfillment on Rand's part. The romances are the weakest part of the book for me.

So no, I don't think many on the left are even aware of that aspect of it. If they thought about the book in terms of feminism, they'd see: female heroine, runs a huge company, goes after what she wants, sleeps with whom she wants, men adore her, good enough. Their objection is that it's anti-socialist/pro-capitalist, and that she portrays them -- the looters -- brilliantly. If a leftist isn't fuming or squirming by the time he finishes the part about the party at Rearden's, he's not paying attention.

Anonymous Poor Yorick August 14, 2014 10:04 PM  

You dane to be an authority on what I find tedious?

I don't like them either. What is more tedious than listening to someone wallowing in "to be, or not to be".

Just make a decision, already.

Blogger Jon Bromfield August 14, 2014 10:07 PM  

"...if you think that was the primary message Ayn wanted to get out there... you're bloody delusional."

Bollocks, mucker! I didn't say that was Rand's primary message, you bloody well did.

I said it was why the Left, esp. the feminist Left, hates her so much despite some points of apparent agreement (atheism, equal rights for women). Rand once set them into a apoplectic fit by saying she didn't think a woman should be a president of the United States. For exactly the reason noted.

I think it's fair to say it would be difficult for a very brief passage to be tedious as it's generally defined as "long and slow." But do provide a quoted example of Rand's if you disagree.

Cheers!

Blogger Jon Bromfield August 14, 2014 10:11 PM  

Markku.

You are correct. I stand chagrined.

Blogger Nate August 14, 2014 10:13 PM  

'Bollocks, mucker! I didn't say that was Rand's primary message, you bloody well did. "

No nancy. I said no such thing. I consider her primary message to individualism or rather... the evil of collectivism. You're the one that brought up this socio-sexual nonsense when you claimed that's the reason folks hate her. It isn't. They hate her for being individualist.

"I think it's fair to say it would be difficult for a very brief passage to be tedious as it's generally defined as "long and slow." But do provide a quoted example of Rand's if you disagree."

I think you'll find that any repetitive irritant could be described as tedious. Its irritation by a thousand cuts.

If Ayn mearly wrote about how a character HAD TO STAND once... that would be fine. But she doesn't. She bores you to death with these idiotic little unecessary details that she imagines silly meaning into.

You asked for a specific example... you got one. There is no reason to rip through a book and site example after example. If you've read the books you know exactly what I'm talking about.

Fact is I'm started to suspect you actually haven't.

Blogger Jon Bromfield August 14, 2014 10:17 PM  

"So no, I don't think many on the left are even aware of that aspect of it."

My experience is otherwise.

To be sure, the woman had logical lapses that one could fly an Airbus A380 through. But I submit she got a whole lot more right than wrong, esp. on the big issues.

But I'm more interested in getting examples of her bad prose than exploring her politics.

OpenID cailcorishev August 14, 2014 10:22 PM  

Jon, so you've talked to a lot of people whose first objection to Rand was that she portrayed women as needing a man?

Blogger Jon Bromfield August 14, 2014 10:29 PM  

"You asked for a specific example... you got one."

No, I did not. It would have had those little superscripted squiggly marks at the beginning and the end. See top of post for example.

"Dude I haven't read an Ayn Rand book since I was 14... I honestly don't remember."

And that certainly explains a lot.

G'night, guvnor.

Anonymous Yon August 14, 2014 10:31 PM  

And Jon may comfortably continue to be obsessed with trash.

Blogger Jon Bromfield August 14, 2014 10:34 PM  

Cailcorishev:

Yes.

Blogger Jon Bromfield August 14, 2014 10:37 PM  

Sigh....

Yon, so please provide us all an example of this "trash."

Blogger James Dixon August 14, 2014 10:47 PM  

> Please provide an example of a "...just not particularly good" piece of Randian fiction prose and why it is so!

Not tonight, Jon. I don't have time. I might be able to get to it tomorrow. However, I'm not an English major, so my explanation of why it's "not very good" may not be something you'll either understand or accept.

Blogger Jon Bromfield August 14, 2014 10:55 PM  

James, I truly welcome your example and explanation. It would be a first.

Because I fear we have hijacked this thread, I apologize to VD and the others and ask anyone with an interest in pursuing this topic to contact me directly at jbromfield_54@msn.com

Blogger James Dixon August 14, 2014 11:03 PM  

Jon, and please note that by "not very good", I don't mean bad. Rand was a competent writer, just not a great one.

Blogger Markku August 14, 2014 11:24 PM  

I haven't read anything - literally ANYTHING - from Rand. But just to test this theory, I randomly opened this Anthem from part seven. Immediate annoyances ensued. On the first page.

We have no bed now (...) We are old now (tautophony)

We have no bed now, save the moss, and no future, save the beasts. (these two "saves" can be counted as intentional repetition for effect. So far so good. But then, with just one paragraph in between) We saw nothing as we entered, save the sky in the great windows, blue and glowing.

Two annoying tautophonies on one page. This isn't good style, it smells of poverty of language.

John C. Wright wept.

And, still on the same page:

Then it was as if a great wind had stricken the hall ("wind had struck the hall", or "hall was stricken by wind" would be correct, this is not.)

We walked through empty passages and into the great hall (...) save the sky in the great windows (...) shapeless clouds huddled at the rise of the great sky (...) We saw a great painting on the wall over their heads (...) These great and wise of the earth (...) Then it was as if a great wind had stricken the hall (Nigga plz!)

Blogger Jon Bromfield August 14, 2014 11:25 PM  

James, most professional writers I know do not talk about a piece of writing being good or bad or great. Instead it's whether it "works," that is, effective. As all three of her novels are still in print after decades it is reasonable to conclude her prose is effective.

But I'll go beyond that. Close, multiple readings show an original and strikingly adroit command of the written word.

Some is quite beautiful and evocative. And yes, I can provide quoted examples.

A stupendous achievement for someone whose first language was not English. The only other English-as-a-second-language writer to achieve such a success is Joseph Conrad. This is why it irks me when her prose is so casually disparaged.

Blogger Jon Bromfield August 14, 2014 11:35 PM  

Markku, you do realize these quotes are from the written diary of a young man raised and educated in a devolved society where education is rudimentary, excellence in anything condemned, and even the use singular pronouns is heretical?

What do you expect, him to write with Miltonian grace?

May I suggest you start from the beginning of the novella before commenting?

Blogger Jon Bromfield August 14, 2014 11:37 PM  

Sorry, VD.

No more on this here, friends.

Blogger Ghost August 14, 2014 11:37 PM  

Markku, reading the whole thing let's you know that the narrator's vocabulary is stunted because of the totalitarian society (kinda like a hardcore newspeak). Does knowing that change your opinion? In fact, after discovering a house with long banned books, the whole tone changes.

Blogger Ghost August 14, 2014 11:38 PM  

Ya beat me to it.

Blogger Markku August 14, 2014 11:38 PM  

Ok whatevs, I'll take a similar peek at some other text tomorrow, that hopefully has her own voice as the narrator.

However, I have a strong suspicion that this turns out to be a desperate excuse, and it's going to be as horrible.

Anonymous rho August 15, 2014 12:46 AM  

Markku, reading the whole thing let's you know that the narrator's vocabulary is stunted because of the totalitarian society (kinda like a hardcore newspeak). Does knowing that change your opinion? In fact, after discovering a house with long banned books, the whole tone changes.

That's interesting, and it means something to the interpretation of the text. I grant you that.

I struggled through Atlas Shrugged, because she was painting a portrait, and I got the point with her cartoon. She was communicating a philosophy through golems and marionettes. Every insight into the human condition was filtered through her lens. It was like trying to understand auto mechanics by reading Iacocca: A Biography.

Fiction, I think, suffers greatly from this. Every now and then, a Samuel Clemens or Orson Scott Card can occasionally capture lighting in a bottle and speak a Truth about being human. But for every one of them there are hundreds or thousands whose fiction is a mastery of technique, language or technical world-building that only whispers to the broken human soul.

Which, I suspect, is why some people are so worked up about who wins the Hugo popularity contest. They want the whispers they hear to be the right whispers, the winning whispers. Gaming this charade to turn those whispers into night-terrors is a tactic which I approve.

Blogger Doorstop August 15, 2014 1:42 AM  

"I can't read King either. I've tried to read The Gunslinger I don't know how many times. Can't deal with it."

My experience was almost the same, Nate...it's a painfully slow and seemingly pointless read up until maybe the last chapter, and the only reason I finished it was to say that I'd read one Stephen King book. But it's a shame you didn't finish it because the rest of the Dark Tower series was absolutely amazing and I practically tore through the next 6 books.

Blogger Bogey August 15, 2014 1:43 AM  

A female artist, Margaret Brundage, was up for best artist, voters went Virgil Finlay instead. Finlay's covers were less than stellar but his interior art, save perhaps Wallace Wood, was simply the best ever.

Blogger Jon Bromfield August 15, 2014 4:13 AM  

With your indigence, VD, a last comment.

One of the oft heard knockings of ATLAS SHRUGGED is its "cartoon characters."

Really, with craven goofballs like Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, John Kerry, Joe Biden and their cronies in government subsidized ridiculous businesses (Solyndra) running things?

Wesley Mouch, Orrin Boyle, Jim Taggart, and Kip Chalmers seem pretty realistic now, don't you think?

Anonymous Jake August 15, 2014 5:03 AM  

These were the same dolts who flooded the box to give Best Novel to a fan-fic extended joke written by one of the more risible hacks SF has ever seen-- and you were expecting different? The Hugo is dead. Nobody will ever take it seriously again, not even the people that do. They know it's a political award, a company-line away, even while shouting it isn't. It would be no less so if the blues took over. It would be just a slightly different waste of time. What it used to be-- an award based on merit-- is over. And like everything else the left destroys, we will not see it in our lifetimes again.

Anonymous Jake August 15, 2014 5:10 AM  

Too early. That should be "company line award."

Blogger James Dixon August 15, 2014 6:32 AM  

Jon. I simply opened Atlas Shrugged to a page near the front and read one paragraph, which I'll quote here:

"He saw lights in the windows of the living room, when he approached his house. The house stood on a hill, rising before him like a big white bulk; it looked naked, with a few semi-colonial pillars for reluctant ornament; it had the cheerless look of a nudity not worth revealing."

This is Rearden walking home from work.

Now, I find that bland and overly wordy. And the comparison to nudity is completely unnecessary and detracts from the point rather than adding to it. It gets her points across, and probably does so in the manner she intended, but it could be done in fewer words and with less deliberate shock value. And the words do not flow. They seem stilted and jumbled.

> James, most professional writers I know do not talk about a piece of writing being good or bad or great. Instead it's whether it "works," that is, effective.

And yet that exactly the distinction between an adequate writer, which Rand was, and a very good or great writer. Now, I'll agree with you that English was not her native language, and that's undoubtedly why there's no flow to the words. But her (apparently deliberate) overly elaborate descriptions and attempt at shock value in this example detract from what she's saying.

Simply put, merely from reading my own posts here, I can write about as well as Rand did, but I can't begin to approach the prose of someone like John C. Wright. Whether I have anything of value to say is a matter best left to the reader to judge. :)

Again, it's Rand's ideas that make her works so powerful, not how well she expresses them. And I'm not trying to downgrade the importance of those ideas.or claim that the expression wasn't effective (I do still have my copies of her books 30 years after I first read them, after all). I'm merely saying that she was an adequate writer of the English language, not a great one.

Take it for what it's worth and as always, YMMV.

Anonymous Bz August 15, 2014 8:21 AM  

For what it's worth, I've read far more than my share of SFF, and as part of that I've read plenty of worse writers than Rand. Yet she somehow ... for some reason ... gets singled out for "bad writing". I think it's more like her writing fills leftist hearts with impotent rage. How can she so relentlessly mock us, the worthy ones! We are supposed to mock them!

Even worse, apart from these terrible vivisections of leftist character is that she's one of few SF authors who turned out to actually predict the future, in a way. We have countries like Venezuela and Zimbabwe that could be ouvertures to Atlas.

From the literary viewpoint, as I recall, Rand liked Les Miserables, so there may be some parallels with Atlas there. OK, perhaps not sudden long tours of the Paris sewers, but still.

While I enjoy T H White, that book still seems a bit lightweight compared to Out of the Silent Planet. Still, it's not an entirely unreasonable choice. Perhaps someone reading it in between necroromances will feel uneasy when she gets to the ants and "everything not mandatory is forbidden".

Anonymous Leonidas August 15, 2014 8:53 AM  

I am ASKING for example(s) of what YOU consider her "horrible" style and why YOU find it so.

...

And if you find a passage tedious or overly descriptive, it had better be more than a couple of paragraphs!

John Galt's 50 page monologue. If you need any more explanation than that single sentence then you need to check your definition of what "tedious prose" actually means.

For those who have not actually read Atlas Shrugged, I am not exaggerating. The character has a monologue that is literally 50 pages long (in my paperback edition) and becomes deeply repetitive around page 3... yet keeps going. And going. And going. If you didn't already know that the book was written by an aspie, this should be your clue.

This is where I admit that I have not actually finished the book because I could never make it past this point, and I have no intention of ever picking it up again. So yes, tedious.

Anonymous physics geek August 15, 2014 9:07 AM  

Jack Vance had horrible prose.

Chun the Unavoidable would disagree.

Blogger James Dixon August 15, 2014 9:09 AM  

> For those who have not actually read Atlas Shrugged, I am not exaggerating. The character has a monologue that is literally 50 pages long...

From memory (I don't have my copy in front of me), that sounds about right, yes. I didn't find it as tedious as you did, but I can see how people might.

OpenID cailcorishev August 15, 2014 9:11 AM  

Can anyone recommend a book that presents the same ideas and does character portrayal as well as Rand's, without the wordiness and repetition that some find tedious?

Anonymous Bz August 15, 2014 9:32 AM  

Leonidas, well, why not skip the long speech then?

Prior to reading Atlas, I'd been told that it was terribly written with this ludicrously long speech toward the end. But I read the book twice (in a year), including the speech, with less effort than is the custom for such a long book. By comparison, I found Stross's Merchant Princes series a far more tedious slog. So mileage may vary.

Blogger James Dixon August 15, 2014 9:42 AM  

> Can anyone recommend a book that presents the same ideas and does character portrayal as well as Rand's, without the wordiness and repetition that some find tedious?

Not offhand. That's why her books are still in print and relevant. Her personal experience with both communism and capitalism gave her a fairly unique perspective which allowed her to express the differences in her work better than almost anyone else has been able to.

Blogger Nate August 15, 2014 10:37 AM  

"> Can anyone recommend a book that presents the same ideas and does character portrayal as well as Rand's, without the wordiness and repetition that some find tedious? "

Watership Down. 1984. Animal Farm.

Blogger James Dixon August 15, 2014 10:52 AM  

> Watership Down. 1984. Animal Farm.

Watership Down doesn't explore the same ideas. It's completely different. 1984 and Animal Farm do, but the characters aren't as good, though Animal Farm comes close.

OpenID cailcorishev August 15, 2014 11:28 AM  

Watership Down is in my to-read pile, so I'll move it up. The other two don't even come close on characters. I can feel the evil coming from people like Lillian Rearden and Dr. Ferris; and statements from our government or media frequently make me think, "Sounds like something [Rand bad guy] would say." Her good guys can be too good to be true at times, but her bad guys are "real" like few others.

The funny thing about the 50-page speech (I think it's more like 60 in my copy) is that it didn't seem repetitive when I read it, even a second or third time. I'm not sure how that's possible. There are parts I'd skip on a re-read, but not the speech.

Blogger James Dixon August 15, 2014 12:00 PM  

> Watership Down is in my to-read pile, so I'll move it up

Do that. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Blogger James Dixon August 15, 2014 12:02 PM  

And if you haven't read it, get Jonathan Livingston Seagull to follow it up. Completely different but also worth reading.

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