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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Hugo Awards 2015: Best Novella

This is how I am voting in the Best Novella category. Of course, I merely offer this information regarding my individual ballot for no particular reason at all, and the fact that I have done so should not be confused in any way, shape, or form with a slate or a bloc vote, much less a direct order by the Supreme Dark Lord of the Evil Legion of Evil to his 367 Vile Faceless Minions or anyone else.
  1. "One Bright Star to Guide Them"
  2. "Big Boys Don't Cry"
  3. "The Plural of Helen of Troy"
  4. "Pale Realms of Shade"
  5. "Flow"
In the relatively near future, I will be debating the merits and demerits of John C. Wright's "One Bright Star to Guide Them" versus those of The Wasp Factory by Iain M. Banks with Phil Sandifier. It should be an interesting discussion, as the two works in some ways represent the two poles of the Blue SF/Pink SF divide, even if few would consider the Banks novel to be science fiction or fantasy.

Other categories:

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63 Comments:

Anonymous Difster VFM #109 May 27, 2015 8:11 AM  

367 vile, faceless, minions now?

Excellent! Moar minions!!

Anonymous Tom May 27, 2015 8:43 AM  

It makes me frustrated that Tom Kratman isn't going to win this one. I really liked that "Big Boys Don't Cry" book. But, I have to admit that I cried more and longer when I finished "One Bright Star to Guide Them."

I feel that "Pale Realms of Shade" is actually a better literary work than "One Bright Star to Guide Them," but that is mostly because it stands on its own more, a more independent story. "One Bright Star" builds on CS Lewis and others, but in a very, very good way.

Anonymous RedJack #22 May 27, 2015 8:54 AM  

Interesting. I preferred "Pale Realms of Shade". Then "Big Boys" they Troy.

But at that point, I was splitting hairs.

Blogger Philip Sandifer May 27, 2015 8:59 AM  

Oh, good. I'm glad we agree up front that Wasp Factory is sci-fi/fantasy.

Blogger Mr.MantraMan May 27, 2015 9:07 AM  

Kratman's myself

Blogger VD May 27, 2015 9:20 AM  

I'm glad we agree up front that Wasp Factory is sci-fi/fantasy.

I don't actually think it is per se. I think it is more written in an SF/F style, rather like Cryptonomicon. I consider it more SFF-like than proper SFF. But I wouldn't argue with anyone who preferred to draw the conceptual circle big enough to include it.

Blogger Kryten 2X4B 523P May 27, 2015 9:28 AM  

Going through these at the moment. Loved BBDC, really enoyed Pale Realms, didnt get on with Flow at all. Onto the other two tonight, but expecting good things.

Blogger automatth0x3ew May 27, 2015 9:35 AM  

Cryptonomicon is actually either SF or fantasy, depending on how you think the gold in Enoch's box works. The Baroque Cycle answers that to some extent, as well as explaining the mysterious gold plates in the submarine.

Blogger automatth0x3ew May 27, 2015 9:36 AM  

I know that wasn't the point, but somebody had to sperg out in defense of the book. Might as well be me.

Blogger IM2L844 May 27, 2015 9:38 AM  

Oh, good. I'm glad we agree up front that Wasp Factory is sci-fi/fantasy.

Posturing, already?

Blogger Jack Ward May 27, 2015 10:01 AM  

Agree with a lot of above. I really, really want to vote for BBDC and I really, really want to vote for Star. What to do?
I hope this conflict doesn't put me on some sort of meds.

Anonymous Huckleberry-- est. 1977 May 27, 2015 10:09 AM  

even if few would consider the Banks novel to be science fiction or fantasy

Kind of the point behind this whole thing to begin with. Pink SF/F isn't SF or F.

Blogger Philip Sandifer May 27, 2015 10:19 AM  

Posturing, already?

No, actually, totally sincere; I think the more we agree upon about the two works the more interesting our disagreements will be.

As for classifying it, if nothing else, Frank is clearly engaged in a form of magic throughout the book, and the Wasp Factory's prophecy of fire is entirely borne out; there's no particular reason *not* to call it fantasy. (This is, of course, a slightly silly argument, although I do think The Wasp Factory is one of the most realistic portrayals of magic that I've seen.)

The less silly argument is simply the fact that Banks said he wrote it like a science fiction novel, with an isolated Scottish island serving as an alien planet and Frank's odd upbringing making him like an alien.

Although, yes, I obviously admit that there are sensible definitions of SF/F that would exclude The Wasp Factory, it's very hard to talk about the book without talking about SF/F. Which is, I'll admit, not true of "If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love."

Blogger Nate May 27, 2015 10:27 AM  

Vox... if I may make a suggestion... we need to open up another front on this battle next year. The puppies need to lead the charge to get games on the hugo ballot. We need to pound the "related works" category with games. The Destiny House of Wolves expansion would be an excellent option.

Anonymous Nathan May 27, 2015 10:35 AM  

Nate, if there's a VFM or a Sad Puppy who is attending Worldcon this year and can be drafted to attend the business meeting, we could start that this year.

From a brainstorming standpoint, do we want solely games or do we want to also split audiobooks from the dramatic presentation category? (My personal favorite, abolishment of all fan categories as the best work in art and criticism is not being done by Fen, is likely dead on delivery.)

Blogger luagha May 27, 2015 10:36 AM  

I found The Plural Of Helen Of Troy to have the best conceit about Kennedy that I had ever seen, one that might even be vaguely possible if he were abducted to a highly technological far future that could get him off all the medications he was on.

But the letter from beyond the grave in One Bright Star To Guide Them is what got me in the gut.

Blogger VD May 27, 2015 10:36 AM  

Agree with a lot of above. I really, really want to vote for BBDC and I really, really want to vote for Star. What to do?

Vote for the latter. Kratman may be the only author in science fiction who cares less about winning a Hugo than I do.

Blogger VD May 27, 2015 10:37 AM  

Although, yes, I obviously admit that there are sensible definitions of SF/F that would exclude The Wasp Factory, it's very hard to talk about the book without talking about SF/F. Which is, I'll admit, not true of "If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love."

I agree. I won't quibble with you on that score.

Blogger GK Chesterton May 27, 2015 10:57 AM  

I haven't finished all of the stories here but of those that I've read I'm torn between "Pale" and "One Bright Star". _Because I understood star_ it was moving for me. But I can sincerely imagine some people reading it and just missing the point entirely. And, given the names "controversy", I think that is well born out. "Pale" as others allude to here, stands on its own better. It is also a great self-examination story as the ghost moves through different stages of pseudo-hell.

Blogger Nate May 27, 2015 10:58 AM  

Nathan... if it were up to me i would nominate audio books and games And game related works in many categories.

Blogger Nate May 27, 2015 11:07 AM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger Nate May 27, 2015 11:07 AM  

I would nominate games and audio books in all kinds of catagories. I would for example nominate the story of Jaden ward and dredgen yor from destiny for best short story. Yes... it's told in ghost fragments that have to be found and pieced together... but it's freaking awesome.

Blogger Nate May 27, 2015 11:07 AM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Anonymous Nemo Maximus May 27, 2015 11:14 AM  

Cyrptonomicon and the Baroque cycle are a mashup of historical fiction and science fiction. Stephenson writes a fictional history of various scientific and technical developments. I personally loved all his pipe-organ-based technology. Fictional, but plausible.

Anonymous Nemo Maximus May 27, 2015 11:20 AM  

OBSTGT stands out not only due to Wright's wordsmanship, but the economy of effort in this work. This novella tells a story, but also evokes a C.S. Lewis scale saga in the background. One leaves the book feeling as if you are catching up on a half remembered series of books from childhood.

Anonymous Shocked May 27, 2015 11:37 AM  

Stop the presses...Vox is voting for a writer he publishes andakes money on???

Good God. Shocked. We are shocked!!

Blogger Russell (106) May 27, 2015 11:43 AM  

What cruel twist of fate has three Wright works and one Kratman on the same ballot in the same year?

Blogger Marissa May 27, 2015 11:56 AM  

I found The Plural Of Helen Of Troy to have the best conceit about Kennedy that I had ever seen, one that might even be vaguely possible if he were abducted to a highly technological far future that could get him off all the medications he was on.

What medications was Kennedy on? I'd never heard of that, though I do know his back was all messed up from WW2. Apparently Trigger Point therapy helped a bit.

Blogger Jack Ward May 27, 2015 12:04 PM  

Back from the AM chores. Yeah, I think VD is right about Tom and his need for Hugos. I suppose it's just a case of ram Wright or Kratman down their throats. On the one hand a Gentleman and true scholar. On the other, a bloodthirsty warrior with no mercy. Both write a pretty decent book.

I like Nate's suggestion for related works category. More nasty meds for the other sides minions; much like your Mom and the castor oil. And, as a related work what could be more qualified than an SF/F game? I say go for it.

OpenID malcolmthecynic May 27, 2015 12:10 PM  

With all due respect for Colonel Kratman (I like "Big Boys" so far - not done yet), I think that this category more than any other really shows just how good Wright is. I honestly think that all three of his novellas are just on another plane from the competition. All three. And not even because the other three are bad! Just because his are so good.

"Bright Star was actually my least favorite Wright work on the ballot. Going to have to go with "Pale Realms of Shade". That ending is just awesome.

("Flow" I'm not liking much. Not my style.)

Blogger JDC May 27, 2015 12:23 PM  

When I read John's writing, I get the same feeling I do when I read Solzhenitsyn or Kierkegaard...I feel like a better person. As if for a moment I have been lifted above the lower firmament, and given a vision of something beyond metaphysical bliss.

"The vanguard column lasted until the end of the second week, when the Bell of darkness descended from the cloud, and tolled its dire toll. Only seven out of those hundred had the presence of mind, or strength of will, to bare their forearms and bite down on the Capsule of Release. Those whose nerve failed them, and who did not slay themselves in time, were drawn silently up into the air, their eyes all empty, and strange little vulgar grins upon their lips, and their bodies floated upward into the mouth of the Bell." (Awake in the Night).

Blogger IM2L844 May 27, 2015 12:32 PM  

No, actually, totally sincere;

Fair enough. I will reserve judgment and afford you more leeway than I would the typical passive/aggressive quip slinging knuckle draggers that pass through here thinking themselves clever (e.g., Shocked).

Blogger Douglas Wardell May 27, 2015 1:01 PM  

Assuming "no award" doesn't win, do you think its likely to matter in puppy-dominated categories if we split the vote so long as we vote for all nominated works and leave "no award" off the ballot? Not that I would consider voting as part of a bloc even if it did, of course.

Blogger VD May 27, 2015 1:14 PM  

The reason RP was effective was due to its relative discipline. The more people go their own way, for whatever reason, the less effective their votes will be. It's pretty simple.

Then again, this is all somewhat of a theoretical exercise, as either there will be sufficient No Award votes to nuke the Hugos in the non-Novel categories or there will not be. It's pretty clear that no one is blanket-No Awarding the Best Novel category. I expect a division between Three Body Problem/Skin Game and The Goblin Emperor/Ancillary Radish.

Anonymous Eric Ashley May 27, 2015 1:14 PM  

I'm a fan of Wright and Kratman, have been for some years. Neither of these is their best work, to be kind. Big Boys is better than ASOD, but ASOD has its own alibi. I do give cred to Kratman for trying out new stuff.

Bright Star read like an outline of a story. Perhaps someday, Wright will feel up to finishing it. That said, I do look forward to 'Somewhither'. The tiny bit I caught on his website seems to have the Wright Stuff.

I have not read the others, but it would not surprise me if the CH stories were better.

'Turncoat' was decent, but let me request that the author rename it for reasons others have already stated.

This whole Rabid Puppies thing has been vastly entertaining. Keep up the good work.

Blogger Marissa May 27, 2015 1:39 PM  

Related: there are now 9,000 members of Sasquan.

OpenID luagha May 27, 2015 2:08 PM  

Marissa, check the Wikipedia page for Kennedy for a discussion of his medical problems and medications.

In addition to his back problems, he had bad, bad bowel issues - if you look at the list of medications just for that you can see he had big problems there. Then there's 'endocrine' and 'adrenal' issues on top of that.

Medicines have gradations in strength. Over the counter stuff is weak but safe. When it doesn't work, you use something stronger, but that you needs to b e carefully watched. And finally there's the stuff that's really strong, but has multiple side effects, and depending on what it is can't be used for any length of time. If you read his list of medications, his illnesses had progressed to the deep end of the pool.

It resulted in his taking uppers to stay awake because of adrenal function, then downers to sleep, plus barbies for the back pain, some more to unplug his bowels from the constipation all those cause, and finally something to plug them up again when the diarrhea was uncontrollable.

Add that to having three doctors, one of which was kept secret from the other two, all giving him prescriptions....

Blogger Kryten 2X4B 523P May 27, 2015 2:17 PM  

Either way, if Colonel Kratman or Mr Wright take the award, then we will hear the heads popping from orbit.

I'd really like to see more of the "Ratha" universe though. Here's hoping.

Blogger Dexter May 27, 2015 2:27 PM  

Kratman may be the only author in science fiction who cares less about winning a Hugo than I do.

Oh sure, he says that, but in reality he is jealous of the puffy, dress-wearing guy who is physically weaker than his own daughter but does have a Hugo.

Anonymous Huckleberry (#87) -- est. 1977 May 27, 2015 2:38 PM  

Related: there are now 9,000 members of Sasquan

Well hey.
It's anyone's game now.
Unless Tor is rigging the thing.
But that's just crazy talk.

Blogger Marissa May 27, 2015 2:53 PM  

Luagha, that's crazy. I didn't realize that kind of info would be on Wikipedia, but wow, he was one messed up guy. I'm amazed at how many pictures there are of him smiling.

"injected and ingested corticosteroids for his adrenal insufficiency; procaine shots and ultrasound treatments and hot packs for his back; Lomotil, Metamucil, paregoric, phenobarbital, testosterone, and trasentine to control his diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, and weight loss; penicillin and other antibiotics for his urinary-tract infections and an abscess; and Tuinal to help him sleep."

Blogger Tom Kratman May 27, 2015 3:19 PM  

Dex, it's not _nice_ to say things like that while I am still drinking coffee.

Harrumph.

OpenID malcolmthecynic May 27, 2015 4:22 PM  

Yeah, "Turncoat" is just the worst, worst title ever. Like calling "The Murder of Roger Ackroyd" "Killer Narrator".

Blogger VD May 27, 2015 4:31 PM  

Yeah, "Turncoat" is just the worst, worst title ever. Like calling "The Murder of Roger Ackroyd" "Killer Narrator".

Or, you know, perhaps it is not supposed to be a story with a twist. Did you ever consider that possibility?

OpenID malcolmthecynic May 27, 2015 4:48 PM  

Sure I did. I also dismissed it, because knowing what happened negatively impacted my enjoyment of the story.

Sorry. Disliked the title and wasn't the only one. It was a good story though.

Blogger Douglas Wardell May 27, 2015 4:53 PM  

The title of Turncoat negatively impacted my read as well. Instead of being along for the ride, I was just looking for the betrayal to begin. It may not have been intended as a story with a twist, but I'd have liked it better if it had been. That said, if it worked for other folks, more power to them.

Blogger Tom Kratman May 27, 2015 5:10 PM  

Query to Doug and Malcolm, just who was the turncoat there? Was it really the ship? Is it the only candidate? Are you certain? If not entirely, I'd suggest the title didn't necessarily give the game away.

Blogger Daniel May 27, 2015 5:10 PM  

Try "Death of a Salesman" instead.

Blogger Daniel May 27, 2015 5:12 PM  

Couldn't disagree more. Benedict was not the turncoat.

Anonymous Daniel #0189 May 27, 2015 6:56 PM  

Weird, those were replies to earlier statements. Don't make sense where/when they posted. Is there a disturbance in the--

Speaking of disagreements though, allow me to remind the Vile, Faceless Minions that we are both Vile and Faceless and therefore thoughtless in all actions. A true VFM will vote exactly as the SJW fears: in mindless marching lockstep with the Dark Lord's gentle suggestions.

Now it may be the waspling he - in his infinite wisdom and/or malice - has had attached to my amygdala, or the antitronic clamps that have been applied to the more sensitive connective tissues of my tongue; it may be the liver-shattering colony of Gasps that has been grafted to the currents of my interstitial fluids; I pray it is not the psychic anal leeches; but the insight I have gained from some or all of them is this: not only does a VFM - do or die - vote in strict suggested order, but he does it without consideration - in fact, his votes are not his own.

As my thoughts have been long abandoned to the void, I - of course - did not write even this!

They are the simple observations of the damp necrotic atmosphericon that gained sentience during my last summoning and of whom I am merely its unwilling and quite tormented host.

Vote Rabid Puppy, for the love of country, the love of mankind, and the love all that is right and salutatory.

Or die.

Blogger Douglas Wardell May 27, 2015 7:32 PM  

Spoilers for Turncoat ahead:



@Tom Kratman,

As I read it, I felt the title begged for someone to switch sides at the end of the story which proved later to be correct, and who it would be was obvious from early on in my opinion. This took my enjoyment from what might have been 8/10 to about a 5 (8 is fairly strong from me on short works).

I understand how one can argue that Alpha 7 Alpha was the turncoat, which would have been fine since it happens much earlier. That isn't relevant to the point though which is that the title hindered some readers' enjoyment of the story. I'm only one example so if it was a net positive for most, that's fine, but I don't think that's a given.

Blogger Nate May 27, 2015 7:36 PM  

"Sure I did. I also dismissed it, because knowing what happened negatively impacted my enjoyment of the story."

This is like reading Monster Hunter then bitching that there were monster hunters in it.

Because predictable.

Anonymous A Reader May 27, 2015 7:44 PM  

I disagree that there should be a new Hugo category for games.
Nominees for the Hugo should fulfill at least fulfill these two criteria: (1) its an art form and (2) it has speculative content (science fiction/fantasy/supernatural/alt history). Thus the problem with the story "If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love". That story did not fulfill criteria #2. Some might argue that it didn't fulfill criteria #1.
Games do not meet criteria #1

Blogger Nate May 27, 2015 8:06 PM  

"(1) its an art form and (2) "

Defend that statement. Do explain how a crusifix in a jar of urine... or a man standing in a glass box in the mall... is art... but video games are not.

Explain how movies are art... but games are not.

Explain how television is art.. but games are not.

Blogger Nate May 27, 2015 8:06 PM  

I assert that not only are video games art.. they are the highest form of art.

Blogger Tom Kratman May 27, 2015 8:15 PM  

Fair enough, Doug, but you aren't everybody and there was, I think, enough ambiguity for most.

Blogger Tom Kratman May 27, 2015 8:16 PM  

Now me, I wanted the ship to name itself "Marcus...Marcus Coriolanus."

Blogger VFM 188* May 27, 2015 9:14 PM  

I suppose it's just a case of ram Wright or Kratman down their throats. On the one hand a Gentleman and true scholar. On the other, a bloodthirsty warrior with no mercy.

Agree on both counts. I tend to favor the bloodthirsty warrior with no mercy...that's why I like Wright.

Blogger bob k. mando May 28, 2015 12:01 AM  

Shocked May 27, 2015 11:37 AM
Stop the presses...Vox is voting for a writer he publishes andakes money on???
Good God. Shocked. We are shocked!!


John Scalzi votes for himself and has his Tor editors do stealth log rolling behind the scenes?

and Scalzi makes money from this?

Good God. Shocked. We are shocked!!


Anonymous Eric Ashley May 28, 2015 2:44 AM  

If 'MH' was a short story of a lad going squirell hunting, and the only real thing that happened was he found out squirrels were the demented avatars of Cthulhu, and he shot one, then yes, 'MH' as a title would be inferior. It would give the game away.

But there is a lot more going on in the MH books than one boy's casual hunt for a squamous squirrel.

Anonymous Daniel #0189 May 28, 2015 4:24 AM  

No, Eric Ashley. If Turncoat was a short story about an Artificial Intelligence on a mission in service to its navy, and in the progression of things, it becomes a traitor for certain reasons, then yes, 'Turncoat' as a title would be inferior. It would give the game away.

That appears to be what you think the story is about. The story is not about that. Go read it again. You have misread the game, just as some misread it because the AI thought too technically. Again, it is fine to enjoy stories for something that they aren't - I liked Logan's Run as a little kid because it was on regular TV and Jenny Agutter took her clothes off in the ice cave.

Logan's Run is not about Jenny Agutter in the ice cave.

Anonymous Legatus May 31, 2015 7:37 PM  

Now, here's the thing...The odd thing about Vile Faceless Minions is that, compared to SJW's, they are not vile (no constant lying slander), nor are they faceless minions, they are able to think for themselves. That being the case, it would be wise to not only say “vote for these works”, but WHY.

So I will take a shot at it myself:
1."One Bright Star to Guide Them"
A. There have been a number of books written about children who are called to another world to do heroic deeds, and then return, there is only one book to call them again when they are all grown up, and this is it. This makes it the first of it's kind, thus a part of Science Fiction history, and, as long as it doesn't suck, that alone makes it award worthy.
B. It doesn't suck, in fact, many say it really, really doesn't suck.
2. "Big Boys Don't Cry"
I haven't got around to it yet, somebody else take this one.
3. "The Plural of Helen of Troy"
A story written backwards, yet it works. This may be yet another that is the first of it's kind, a piece of SF history. It also doesn't suck, but Bright Star has less non suckage.
4. "Pale Realms of Shade"
It's not the being dead I minded, its the hours has gotta be the most intriguing opening line ever. It should get an award for “Best Opening Line”, say, around the time Stan Lee gets his Oscar for “Best Guest Appearance”. It also doesn't suck, perhaps having more non suckage than Plural, but it is not unique, the first of it's kind, like Plural or Bright Star.
5. "Flow"
Haven't read it, someone else take this one.

See, was that so hard? I mean, at least give a reason for story number one being number one.

Or you could just threaten to eat them. Not that you would ever eat a minion! You don't even like minion! Too salty.

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