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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Hugo recommendations: Best Novelette

"The Lady Astronaut of Mars" by Mary Robinette Kowal. A Lady Astronaut (-5 demerits for sexism) has to choose between her dream of space and her husband. One guess which one she chooses. Not merely the worst of the five, but easily the worst of them. Don't believe me? Just read it.

"The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling" by Ted Chiang. Ted Chiang is the best writer of the five and the favorite in this category. Before I read it, I assumed he would be the obvious winner by a mile. However, this is very far from his best or his most interesting work.

"The Waiting Stars" by Aliette de Bodard. If there is one thing you will take away from this novelette, it is that Aliette de Bodard wants you to know that she is Asian. A psychoanalyst could probably write a thesis on the primary theme of her work - described by one commenter at Tor thusly: "Asians gotta be Asians, let Asians be Asians, don't be trying to colonialize the Asians!" - combined with the fact that Ms Bodard is not, in fact, Asian, but merely half-Asian.

"Opera Vita Aeterna" by Vox Day. Rather than describe my own work, I will quote a commenter at Tor. "The two main characters here were vividly (and economically) drawn. I thought the evolution of their relationship was nicely portrayed. Hey, it was a more interesting relationship than the one between Elma and her husband Nathaniel in "Lady Astronaut of Mars." It had more passion in it, too. Though somewhat foreshadowed, the ending sort of came out of nowhere for me. Still, it had impact."

"The Exchange Officers" by Brad Torgersen.  Old school mil-SF involving a small-unit battle against the Chinese. In space. Good, competent Gold Age-style SF. There is a reason Torgersen is an Analog favorite.

My vote for Best Novelette, and my suggestion to others, is "Opera Vita Aeterna" by yours truly. My indubitably self-serving vote will go as follows:
  1. "Opera Vita Aeterna"
  2. "The Exchange Officers"
  3. "The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling"
  4. No Award
I recommend leaving both "The Waiting Stars" and "The Lady Astronaut of Mars" off the ballot.

OTHER HUGO AWARD RECOMMENDATIONS

Best Novel 
Best Editor

Labels:

97 Comments:

Blogger Revelation Means Hope July 16, 2014 1:47 PM  

I've been working my way through the material. Some of this stuff is atrocious!

I had classmates in 8th grade write better stuff for their school essays, and at the time I thought they were idiots because the writing was so bad and the grammar was laughably bad.

The fan art is also pretty pink, with a couple exceptions.

Anonymous Leonidas July 16, 2014 1:49 PM  

Opera Vita Aeterna is very good, and if I had dropped the cash to vote in the Hugo's it's the one I'd vote for. Admittedly, I have not read any of the others.

Anonymous Mike Mike July 16, 2014 1:57 PM  

Your ballot in this category mirrors mine...

PS. I realized someone else posts here as Mike M. which I had also done so recently. My apologies for a duplicate commenting profile. I switched it to avoid confusion.

Anonymous Daniel July 16, 2014 2:14 PM  

Whoa. I think you are crazy to list Chiang 3rd. Truth was nearly meaningless. The Dad in the story was almost unreadable in his idiocy. Yes, he was a believable chump, but man -- I was surprised how much I didn't like that story. Chiang is a good writer, but this one was an average story at best. A boring unreliable narrator is just a boring narrator. It was a bad hybrid between an essay on memory and a story about a waffling screwed up guy. I don't know what could have been done to save the story, but he could have tried to make the narrator/essayist be a little less Hamlet and a little more impulsive -- regretting his errors of ignorance immediately but trying to move forward.

My recommendation to voters: Should be below No Award, if put on the ballot at all.

The Lady Astronaut one would have to be better written to be mistaken for a parody of feminism. I could have sworn I read Exchange Officers a lot longer ago than last year, but obviously I couldn't have. I honestly don't remember it as Torgersen's really strong ones, but that still means it is good. He really doesn't put anything out that is below average.

Any book with "Waiting" in the title gets skipped by me. I prefer a modicum of action, and if you ask me to queue up at the title I'm going to slide on by.

"Opera" is clearly the superior novelette of the bunch, artistically and thematically. It isn't close. The creative clash of cultures, the horrific violence, the occult, the final image. That's what Hugo winners should have: meaning in action.

1. Opera
2. Exchange Officers
3. No Award

Anonymous The Book Dame July 16, 2014 2:21 PM  

My ballot in this category:

1. Opera
2. Exchange
3. No Award

I thought Chiang's story to be desultory.

Blogger Nate July 16, 2014 2:50 PM  

my ballot looks like this:

1: Opera
2: Exchange officers
3: no award

Blogger Nate July 16, 2014 2:50 PM  

hehehe... its like there is a pattern or something...

Blogger IM2L844 July 16, 2014 2:52 PM  

"The Lady Astronaut of Mars"

It's not just a title; it's a foreword.

Anonymous MrGreenMan July 16, 2014 3:21 PM  

+1 voting the Ilk ballot of Vox's minus Chiang.

This thread should be saved for posterity - a time when the coterie of commenters disagreed with Vox, yet didn't leave and weren't banned for bad think (yet).

Blogger Aquinas Dad July 16, 2014 3:28 PM  

I have a lot of trouble reading Chiang.
I remember being told 'Hell is the Absence of God' was excellent. I read it andrealized "He doesn't even know what religion *is*".
Then I was told that 'Division by Zero' was good. I read it and realized "He doesn't even know what math *is*".
Every time I read something of his all I get is confirmation of his profound ignorance.

Anonymous Beardsley McTurbanhead July 16, 2014 3:43 PM  

Opera Vita Eterna might be the worst thing ever nominated for a Hugo.

Ideally, de Bodard will win but I can handle a victory by Chiang or Kowal.

Blogger Crowhill July 16, 2014 3:46 PM  

Just bought Opera Vita Aeterna. I'll read it and post a review on Amazon.

Anonymous VD July 16, 2014 3:50 PM  

Ideally, de Bodard will win but I can handle a victory by Chiang or Kowal.

What is it that you find particularly meritorious about de Bodard's work? It would be fascinating to hear your opinion of the novelette.

Anonymous Beardsley McTurbanhead July 16, 2014 4:02 PM  

It's beautiful and evocative.

Anonymous VD July 16, 2014 4:24 PM  

It's beautiful and evocative.

That's subjective and very general. And, in the current context, downright evasive. What, specifically, were the aspects of the novelette that the other four are lacking? Which characters were particularly good? What was so evocative, and evocative of what?

Or is it just your known Asian fetish, Andrew?

Anonymous Harsh July 16, 2014 4:27 PM  

Opera Vita Eterna might be the worst thing ever nominated for a Hugo.

Have you read it?

Anonymous Anonymous July 16, 2014 4:32 PM  

Vox, has it occurred to you that when you win you are going to have one of those Al Davis moments? Al and Commissioner Rozella did briefly shake hands. Likewise, the Hugo presenter is bound to be somebody who has done something other than bless you online.

Blogger Revelation Means Hope July 16, 2014 4:38 PM  

someone with a serious case of yellow fever MIGHT like Waiting on Cheeseburgers, just because it reads a little better than the asian sex stories they usually are busy reading online.

Anonymous Fred July 16, 2014 4:50 PM  

1. "The Exchange Officers"
2. "Opera Vita Aeterna"
3. No Award
4. "The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling"

Anonymous Beardsley McTurbanhead July 16, 2014 4:50 PM  

Yes, yes I have. I didn't think it was possible but it's both bland and overwrought at the same time.
The dialogue about incorruptible things was laughable. by the way.

Anonymous Beardsley McTurbanhead July 16, 2014 4:53 PM  

Pointy ears says:
“But my thought is that, contra the text, the world cannot have had a beginning. That which exists has always existed. It does not exist at certain times and not exist at others. And every incorruptible thing naturally has the capacity to exist always because its existence is not, due to its incorruptible nature, limited to any determinate time. Therefore no incorruptible thing sometimes is, and sometimes is not, whereas everything which has a beginning does not exist prior to its existence. So, either there are no incorruptible things to be found in the world, or no incorruptible thing ever begins to exist.”

Anonymous Anonymous July 16, 2014 4:54 PM  

Hey, I LIKE my SF old school. And I'm with Daniel, Chiang owes me the time I wasted on that hamster-spinning twaddle. Opera's very good yes, but it's more a catechism than an adventure. Certainly won't argue against anyone more thoughtfully inclined putting it first, but for me it's

1. Exchange
2. Opera
3. No Award

Now get off my lawn, whippersnappers.


Anonymous Daniel July 16, 2014 5:00 PM  

Vox, has it occurred to you that when you win you are going to have one of those Al Davis moments?

I predict a lot of flinching on the part of the presenting party.

What's more fun is in the actual prediction of the award. I have a feeling that Chiang is going to win on other grounds: His will be the novelette that receives the most placings. His reputation alone (and, apparently in the opinion of some reasonable voters, the quality of this work specifically) is enough to get him placed more frequently at 2nd place and below than any of the other works.

Opera is going to be left off a criminally high number of ballots. Space Lady Goes Up At Space Thataway will be left off a justifiably high number of ballots. Asia Lady: Waiter to the Stars will get left off because a large number of voters won't get around to reading it. Because his name is not a rabbit byword, Torgersen probably makes all ballots, but so will True Dad, True 'Dat, and Chiang is going to be the safe 2nd or 3rd place pick, while Torgersen will appear but in the courtesy slot of 4th or 5th (after No Award).

So Chiang wins it.

This does not account for the rabbit voters who think they are voting against Opera "extra" by placing it last on the ballot, or --even more likely-- can't help but write their obsession in the ballot as if writing the name of their secret crush in a Hello Kitty notebook. There will likely be more than one rabbit who writes it down on the ballot "just to keep an eye on that guy."

Anonymous Bewildered July 16, 2014 5:13 PM  

Sorry to bring down the IQ level here, but where can I read Opera?

Anonymous Doug Wardell July 16, 2014 5:15 PM  

I'm on the fence a little here. Overall, I agree with Opera, Exchange, Truth. I am a little torn on the other two.

I thought The Lady Astronaut of Mars was passable, though not noteworthy. Mostly, it just didn't have any sort of plot beyond The One Plot.

As for The Waiting Stars, I figured out the twist very early on so it had pretty much no impact on me. I was reserving judgement to hear what a few others had to say about it, but it sounds like no one else much liked it either.

Anonymous Doug Wardell July 16, 2014 5:28 PM  

@Bewildered: http://voxday.blogspot.com/2014/04/opera-vita-aeterna.html

Blogger Crusader Corim July 16, 2014 5:41 PM  

I thought Truth wavered between mostly unreadable and totally unreadable, although I'd agree it is better than the other two pieces of dreck.

My ballot will be:

1. Opera
2. Exchange
3. No Award.

Anonymous Harsh July 16, 2014 5:48 PM  

Yes, yes I have. I didn't think it was possible but it's both bland and overwrought at the same time.
The dialogue about incorruptible things was laughable. by the way.


That's vague. Unless you offer some specific criticism, I'll assume you haven't read it. Compare and contrast with recent Hugo nominees if you don't mind since that was the basis of your criticism.

Anonymous Beardsley McTurbanhead July 16, 2014 6:07 PM  

Who cares if it's vague? It's a valid complaint.

Anonymous Daniel July 16, 2014 6:12 PM  

Who cares if it's vague?

I care. I care about that criticism as a mother hen cares for a baby chick, and hover over it, deeply, deeply concerned that it suffers from avian brain damage.

Neglecting the handicapped is not OK.

Blogger Dave W. July 16, 2014 6:14 PM  

Could it be? Could it be *gasp* another Clamps appearance? Must get popcorn!

Anonymous VD July 16, 2014 6:39 PM  

The dialogue about incorruptible things was laughable. by the way

Thus demonstrating that someone hasn't read any Thomas Aquinas.

Could it be? Could it be *gasp* another Clamps appearance?

Yep. He snaps at the bait every single time. He has read Opera. He hasn't read the de Bodard. And he has no ability whatsoever to analyze literature for good or for ill. That's why his "criticism" and his praise are equally general and superficial. He simply regurgitates words he has seen others use.

Anonymous Harsh July 16, 2014 6:42 PM  

Who cares if it's vague? It's a valid complaint.

It's not valid in the least. You can't cite anything specific from the story that you had a problem with. It's the vague, nebulous "criticism" of someone who hasn't read the work in question. It's obvious you haven't read the story and you haven't read any of the other Hugo nominees it was supposedly worse than.

There's no shame in being caught as a liar. Just apologize and move on.

Anonymous Beardsley McTurbanhead July 16, 2014 6:44 PM  

Well, Aquinas must be shallow, then.

And are you really so uncreative as to think that simply putting Aquinas' words in the mouthes of generic fantasyland races results in an award-winning story?
Spoiler alert: it doesn't!

Anonymous Beardsley McTurbanhead July 16, 2014 7:01 PM  

I totally meant mouths.

Anonymous Harsh July 16, 2014 7:23 PM  

Well, Aquinas must be shallow, then.

I guess you're not up for the challenge of actually telling us why Vox's story is worse than any recent Hugo nominee. I can't say I'm surprised. You don't seem very bright.

Anonymous VD July 16, 2014 7:29 PM  

Well, Aquinas must be shallow, then.

(laughs) You are a pathetic little creeper, Andrew. You're uneducated and ignorant, so much so that you don't even realize it when you are making a foolish spectacle of yourself.

Anonymous Beardsley McTurbanhead July 16, 2014 7:47 PM  

I don't know, because it's a generic fantasyland with generic stock fantasy races and generic ripoffs of real world figures.

Anonymous Harsh July 16, 2014 7:56 PM  

I don't know, because it's a generic fantasyland with generic stock fantasy races and generic ripoffs of real world figures.

So you'd rather disqualify than present substantial criticism? I guess we know who rode the short bus to school.

Anonymous Noah B. July 16, 2014 8:02 PM  

I haven't read the whole post, but how could you possibly get better than a story about a Lady Astronaut? On Mars.

Anonymous Noah B. July 16, 2014 8:07 PM  

Although that story about Thortilla does sound pretty interesting too.

Anonymous Philalethes July 16, 2014 8:08 PM  

Opera Vita Eterna might be the worst thing ever nominated for a Hugo.

Ridiculous. Childish.

I've read practically no SF since the mid-1960s, after a decade of reading almost nothing but, including all the old "greats", and during which time SF fandom was my family and world. The recent discussions of SF and fandom here have been most interesting for me, provoking a reliving of that long-ago, formative time in my life.

I read "Opera Vita Aeterna", when it was posted for free, and was somewhat surprised to find how much I liked it. I liked it not because it is "fantasy", but because it was a story of personal transformation, of a (semi-)human being who thought he knew everything, but had the depth and integrity to be open to learning when confronted with something that challenged his certainties, and his arrogance. And it is a story of friendship crossing a gap which the context of the story defines as unbridgeable; this also appeals to me. It is a beautiful story. It may not be the greatest story in the history of SF/F, but it is at the very least a good story, and from what I understand of what the field has become, at least head and shoulders above what mostly is peddled as "science fiction" or "fantasy" these days.

Anonymous Obvious July 16, 2014 8:11 PM  

To be fair, there's not much in the way of reasoning that y'all would accept to disqualify Opera as "the bee's knees".

Furthermore, if it doesn't win, you will immediately assert that it didn't because "the rabbits" and their pernicious ways, and not because the blog owner isn't as good of an author as he thinks he is. That's what's great about this situation for the Ilk. If Opera wins, you can trumpet how the One True SF has been shown triumphant, and if you lose, you can just talk about how persecuted you were, and vow to redouble your efforts next year.

Anonymous Philalethes July 16, 2014 8:12 PM  

Ideally, de Bodard will win.... It's beautiful and evocative.

Okay, I went and downloaded "The Waiting Stars", and read it. An unpleasant experience, all in all. I had a hard time figuring out what it was about, but there were certain obvious hard-feminist themes throughout that made me gag. Actually, I wrote something like this in my first fanzine, published in 1960 at age 16: a lot of sort-of vague "feeling", and something ominous implied but never really described. I was kind of embarrassed by it even at the time.

I didn't get quite the same hit from the story that VD describes above, the whole Asian thing, though it certainly does have a bunch of rather heavy-handed Asian references in it ("Dai Viet", etc.). Of course I noticed the pervasive theme of female-centricity, that both cultures described are apparently made up mostly of females, with males sidelined and performing only supportive roles, such as "Jason", who is the perfect, plaintive ideal Beta-orbiter type so beloved of Modern Strong Women.

In all, I'd have to say it's a good example of the produce of feminism: it's a copy, a mimickry of something done originally, and better, by men. Its only reason for existence is ideological: to show that a woman can write SF "as good as" a man (and because that's its primary raison d'être, it ends up demonstrating just the opposite), and to promote a rather heavy-handed feminist vision of some kind of future Matriarchal Utopia—though without any feeling of any actual scientific thinking behind all the gimmicks that make it work. Just a whole lot of dea ex machina (which I guess is a lot of why I quit reading science fiction: the stories I want to read don't need to happen in imaginary worlds).

I was brought up to be a liberal/progressive, equalitarian, and so on; but I was also brought up to think for myself, ask questions, seek the truth. So it's been quite a journey for me, living through the growth and triumph of feminism, to eventually be persuaded that the Ancients were simply correct in their view of women—so persuaded by the observed behavior of women themselves. In practically every area where women have invaded spaces and occupations formerly occupied entirely or almost by men, they have shown that they can copy what men do, sometimes very well but most often with mediocre results. But it's nearly always a copy, nothing original. Women simply aren't pioneers—though they may accompany pioneer men. It's not what they're made for. The real irony of feminism is that, really, it all comes down to a really gigantic case of penis envy: women who want to be men, because somehow they've become convinced that women are worthless as women.

Apparently the author (or is it authoress? which is politically-correct?) is not a fully-developed feminist, as she keeps a male pet, er, "husband", around for—what? To praise her, I suppose. The story never specifies how its characters reproduce, but there's a kind of implication of parthenogenesis—an unbroken female line of Goddesses unsullied by those horrible "Outsiders". Like I said, heavy-handed feminist memes throughout. Of course, she's free to write whatever she likes, but if this is what "science fiction" has become in the last half-century that I've been away from it, it's clear I've missed nothing of consequence. I feel like washing out my mind with soap.

Anonymous Bewildered July 16, 2014 8:17 PM  

Back again. Still trying to read Opera.

The links on that page - both the epub and the mobi - give me an Error 404.

Is there another link? Can I purchase it somewhere?

Anonymous Noah B. July 16, 2014 8:18 PM  

What I appreciated most about Opera Vita Aeterna was the subtle exposition of the developing friendship. It struck me as a gripping and unique story.

Anonymous Beardsley McTurbanhead July 16, 2014 8:22 PM  

You couldn't handle the Đại Việt, but you could handle the obvious Rome and the obvious France and the obvious Christianity in Selenoth? Are you for real?

Anonymous Philalethes July 16, 2014 8:29 PM  

What I appreciated most about Opera Vita Aeterna was the subtle exposition of the developing friendship.

Yes. There's a famous story about the Buddha: One day Ānanda, his close disciple, said "This is half of the holy life, lord: admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie." And the Buddha replied: "Don't say that, Ānanda. Don't say that. Admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life. When a monk has admirable people as friends, companions, & comrades, he can be expected to develop & pursue the noble eightfold path."

Anonymous Harsh July 16, 2014 8:35 PM  

And just to make a very clear point to the naysayers: Vox Day is a Hugo-nominated author. You are not.

Anonymous Obvious July 16, 2014 8:46 PM  

Seanan McGuire is at least a 10 time Hugo-nominee, and has won 2 of them.

Scalzi is probably at a similar number of nominations, and also has 2 Hugos.

Somehow I'm willing to bet you don't think those two are better writers than the blog owner.

Anonymous Beardsley McTurbanhead July 16, 2014 8:50 PM  

Completely undeserved, I must add. There is nothing redeeming about Opera Vita Aeterna: no particularly well-written passages, no likable characters or even well-developed characters, no interesting setting or interesting ideas, nothing. It's just an elf and a monk quoting Thomas Aquinas and illuminating a bible. Oh, and there's an offscreen action sequence.

And I will add that there is nothing redeeming about anything else set in Selenoth either. You, sir, are completely blind to your own weaknesses, and that's because you spend all your time surrounded by these sycophants.

Anonymous Harsh July 16, 2014 9:05 PM  

Completely undeserved, I must add.

Disqualify, disqualify, disqualify. Yep, pretty much what I predicted you'd do. I see Obvious is getting in on the disqualify act. Good company you're keeping.

Anonymous Harsh July 16, 2014 9:08 PM  

Seanan McGuire is at least a 10 time Hugo-nominee, and has won 2 of them.

When Vox passes him in nomination and wins, what are you going to do? Cry that the Hugos are rigged? Pussy.

Anonymous Philalethes July 16, 2014 9:12 PM  

...if it doesn't win, you will immediately assert that it didn't because "the rabbits" and their pernicious ways, and not because the blog owner isn't as good of an author as he thinks he is.

It's unfortunate that this situation has become so politicized, as it's clear the story will not be judged on its merits by at least a large portion of the voting body. So as you say, the result will really say nothing conclusive about the story's quality, since any result can be disqualified on extraneous factors. Nor about the quality of any of the other nominees, since apparently the contest is now about the ideology promoted by the stories, rather than about how good they are as stories.

Of course, one might say that the politicization of the Hugos was done by Larry Correia et al., who apparently committed some kind of underhanded trick to get their stories on the ballot. But the whole point of Correia's campaign was to make plain how political the whole process already was—at which it has succeeded completely.

Otoh, if "Opera Vita Aeterna" does win the Hugo, it will only be because a majority of voters actually read it, and found it superior as a story. I'm not voting, but I liked it. And I'm not, nor have ever been, any kind of Christian—though I do find stories about sincerely religious people in any tradition very appealing. In the end, it is about what you like, there is no "absolute" standard—which is kind of the point. It's about stories, entertainment.

It seems clear the author does not consider himself a Great Writer. He works at what he produces, and is unapologetic about his views, but I'd say he does a pretty good job as a writer of fiction, and does not subordinate the story to a Message, as is apparently the fashion nowadays. Given the strength of his views, that requires him to adhere to a certain discipline, which I think is worthy of respect.

And just to make a very clear point to the naysayers: Vox Day is a Hugo-nominated author. You are not.

This whole Hugo thing is kind of a farce, really, which is too bad. But at least Vox and Larry and their crowd seem to be having a fun time getting a laugh out of it—which is all it's good for at this point.

Anonymous Obvious July 16, 2014 9:15 PM  

Harsh,

I'm not denying that the blog owner is Hugo nominated. I'm merely pointing out that, it doesn't prove the point you think it does.

Anonymous Beardsley McTurbanhead July 16, 2014 9:17 PM  

And Opera Vita Aeterna provided no entertainment whatsoever. It's not so bad it's good, it's so bad it's bad.

Anonymous Harsh July 16, 2014 9:27 PM  

I'm not denying that the blog owner is Hugo nominated. I'm merely pointing out that, it doesn't prove the point you think it does.

You then quite obviously don't understand the point I was trying to make. Doesn't surprise me. You're pretty dense.

Anonymous Harsh July 16, 2014 9:27 PM  

And Opera Vita Aeterna provided no entertainment whatsoever. It's not so bad it's good, it's so bad it's bad.

Generic criticism proves nothing.

Anonymous Philalethes July 16, 2014 9:28 PM  

There is nothing redeeming about Opera Vita Aeterna...

Why does a story have to be "redeemed"? From what? From the sin of having been written by a "racist, sexist, homophobic dipshit" (that's the mantra, I believe)? It's clear you're looking for reasons to not like it. And that you must be evaluating it on some criteria other than its simple quality as a story—on which criterion I'd say it would rank somewhere between good and very good. I don't have an axe to grind; I just read it as a story, and enjoyed it.

And Opera Vita Aeterna provided no entertainment whatsoever. It's not so bad it's good, it's so bad it's bad.

Oh, come on. You're really stretching. Why is this such a big Issue for you? You should be posting under the handle "Obvious". You're just making an ass of yourself.

Anonymous Harsh July 16, 2014 9:32 PM  

You should be posting under the handle "Obvious". You're just making an ass of yourself.

He probably is Obvious posting under a different handle. That's one sick dude.

Anonymous Noah B. July 16, 2014 9:32 PM  

Don't you get tired of proving Vox's point for him?

Anonymous Anonymous July 16, 2014 9:33 PM  

Completely undeserved, I must add. There is nothing redeeming about Opera Vita Aeterna: no particularly well-written passages, no likable characters or even well-developed characters, no interesting setting or interesting ideas, nothing.

I realize you're just being a dink and don't expect to convince anyone; but just in case you ever do want to be persuasive, you might want to investigate a concept called "overselling."

Anonymous Noah B. July 16, 2014 9:35 PM  

1) You hate Vox and everything he stands for
2) Vox says you're a pathetic little creeper
3) You, through a large volume of posts, conclusively demonstrate yourself to be a pathetic little creeper

As painful as it is to watch, it's interesting in a way.

Anonymous Anonymous July 16, 2014 9:36 PM  

I'm not denying that the blog owner is Hugo nominated.

In case no one's ever told you, this "blog owner" thing you do is really gay.

Anonymous Beardsley McTurbanhead July 16, 2014 9:47 PM  

Kindly decouple your mouth from Vox Day's cock.

Anonymous Philalethes July 16, 2014 9:48 PM  

You couldn't handle the Đại Việt, but you could handle the obvious Rome and the obvious France and the obvious Christianity in Selenoth? Are you for real?

"Couldn't handle"? Well, I don't know much about Vietnamese culture or history (though I do have a strong interest in Asia, and have read much about Chinese and Japanese history and culture), but I couldn't really tell what the references to "Dai Viet" in the story were supposed to tell me. Nothing was explained; I got the feeling that "Dai Viet", whatever that is, was perhaps so loftily superior to my evil White European-American background that it didn't need to be explained, as I wouldn't understand it anyway? Sort of like how, as a man, I'm a primitive creature incapable of comprehending the innate superiority of Woman? Okay, I get it.

Well, I've also read a lot about the history of Rome, both Republic and Empire, as well as medieval Europe, so I found the setting of the stories I've read (I'm cheap, never buy fiction—get my reading from the library—so I've only read the Selenoth stories that've been offered for free—but am considering actually buying ToB) intriguing, as a kind of alternate Rome. As I said, I'm not any kind of Christian (even former), so the Aquinas stuff didn't say much to me, as my religious context is very different. But it didn't significantly detract either, as it was obviously important to the characters in the story, whom I'd come to care about. Which is what's important.

But you see, I read primarily for entertainment. If a story entertains me, I like it. If it's in my face with some kind of Message—even if it's a kind of thick Atmosphere, as in "The Waiting Stars", not clearly spelled out—then I generally don't enjoy it. I wouldn't enjoy it if it was a Message I happened to agree with, either. There was nobody in "The Waiting Stars" I cared about. I'm a man who's not willing to apologize for my Y chromosome; clearly I wouldn't be welcome in de Bodard's universe. The two primary characters in "Opera Vita Aeterna" were people whose company I could enjoy as friends. That's what I read for.

Anonymous Harsh July 16, 2014 9:52 PM  

Kindly decouple your mouth from Vox Day's cock.

So failing to make anything like a rational point, you've resorted to vulgar insults? Well, isn't that typical. You're supposed to be representative of the intelligent side of this debate? You make me laugh.

Anonymous bob k. mando July 16, 2014 9:56 PM  

Bewildered July 16, 2014 8:17 PM
Back again. Still trying to read Opera.
Is there another link? Can I purchase it somewhere?



99 cents on Amazon.
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KSBQI84


if you want to have and vote on ALL of the Hugo nominees, the ballot is still open. you do have to spend $225 to join the London Con but you have access to all the nominees as downloads.

http://loncon3.org/hugo_vote/hugo_voter_packet.php

http://loncon3.org/memberships/membership1.php

Anonymous bob k. mando July 16, 2014 10:00 PM  

Beardsley McTurbanhead July 16, 2014 9:47 PM
Kindly decouple your mouth from Vox Day's cock.



what's the matter, you got ants in your pants? you think if you don't hurry up and get your mouth on there you're going to lose your chance?

don't worry, little one. he can type just fine even if his mouth is full.

Anonymous Obvious July 16, 2014 10:00 PM  

"In case no one's ever told you, this "blog owner" thing you do is really gay."

Considering the point is to aggravate... I'd say it has done it's job. Of course, you will immediately tell me that it doesn't aggravate you, that you don't care at all, etc. etc. The mere fact that you took the time to comment upon it, has made it all worthwhile.

Blogger slarrow July 16, 2014 10:03 PM  

There is nothing redeeming about Opera Vita Aeterna....

See, this is the kind of nonsense that shows that these critiques are just "I hate you" with a gloss of pretense. It's kindergarten-level crap.

Nothing redeeming? How about the fact that the core of the story is a friendship that transcends the differences between two ultimately alien races? The elves generally consider the humans vermin, and the humans don't think the elves have souls. Talk about The Other! The two main characters have virtually nothing in common; they are divided by race, status, power, and worldview (particularly religion), yet form a friendship that (I use the word again) transcends these differences. Furthermore, for a notably Christian author, Vox has his elf deliver a blistering broadside to the "powerless" wooden god that ought to feel right at home in the mouth of any atheist angry at God for not being there. And yet the book survives, being neither taken or destroyed by the elf but left as a persistent memorial of the respect that had grown up between these two. The elf's kin destroy his friends, and he rejects the God that was the center of his friend's life...and yet the book survives.

So the crux of the story is that there can indeed be pursuits that can unify us beyond the standard traits of common class, background, and worldview, and what do the rabbits do? Pursue a Two Minute Hate campaign because Vox is not One of Us. Weak-minded imbeciles....

Anonymous Beardsley McTurbanhead July 16, 2014 10:07 PM  

Opera Vita Aeterna was kindergarden-level crap as well.

As for you, it's just too bad you aren't so manly that you don't even have an X chromosome.

Anonymous Harsh July 16, 2014 10:08 PM  

The mere fact that you took the time to comment upon it, has made it all worthwhile.

Well, you are just an amazing fucking genius, aren't you?

Blogger Dave W. July 16, 2014 10:10 PM  

Kindly decouple your mouth from Vox Day's cock.

Oh Clampsy/Yama/Marston, you never fail to entertain with your blind hate of Vox. So predictable. So, how many Asian women have you stalked this week? *munches popcorn*

Anonymous Anonymous July 16, 2014 10:18 PM  

The mere fact that you took the time to comment upon it, has made it all worthwhile.

Everyone needs a goal in life, I guess. Aim high, dude!

Anonymous maniacprovost July 16, 2014 10:19 PM  

"Considering the point is to aggravate... I'd say it has done it's job. Of course, you will immediately tell me that it doesn't aggravate you, that you don't care at all, etc. etc. The mere fact that you took the time to comment upon it, has made it all worthwhile."

You can also receive human interaction by making rational, constructive comments, and discussing ideas. Or you can walk to a nearby fast food restaurant and eat inside to create the illusion you're not socially isolated.

Anonymous Harsh July 16, 2014 10:34 PM  

Considering the point is to aggravate... I'd say it has done it's job.

The socially awkward loser is happy when he gets any response from another human, in other words.

Blogger slarrow July 16, 2014 10:40 PM  

Not merely the worst of the five, but easily the worst of them.

Amen. Ye gods, I hated that story. I probably wouldn't have read it but for Chris Gerrib coming over here a while back, as he wrote a post claiming that it was a Story Done Right while Vox's was just dishwater blah. For one thing, it's horrific: the core of the story is "woman abandons dying husband to do what she wants". Further, the rest of the story is designed to soften this ugly reality: a humiliating bathroom scene ("see what she has to put up with?"), encouragement from her husband ("my code will be up there with you"), an irrational commitment from the doctor ("I'll stay here and do your job so you can go into space.") But what it effectively does is remove any conflict from the story. She wants to go into space. The PR guys wants her to go into space, her husband wants her to go into space--even frickin' Dorothy Gale from Kansas wants her to go into space. Thus, all the interesting stuff is sacrificed for the message that It's OK To Abandon Your Dying Husband. As I said, horrific.

It's also clumsy and full of wasted opportunities. There's an eagle looking back over its shoulder with an egg in its talons which represents her regret over the lost opportunity in choosing career over family, and we know that's what it means because she frickin' tells us! Contrast that with the book at the end of Opera as an exercise in using symbols. The irritating thing is that there's actually some fodder for some decent stories in her work if she'd hadn't run away from the central conflict.

1) Actually have the husband angry and resentful that he's being abandoned. Real conflict.
2) The lady astronaut exposes the cynicism of the PR people using her as a prop.
3) Her husband is miraculously cured. Now what does she do?
4) Have a female character actually chastise her for abandoning her husband.
5) Most interesting: Dorothy Gale shows up in this story. Rewrite the story with her as the central character, likening her travel to Mars to her Oz adventure. Explore themes of escape, reality/fantasy, power issues, etc.

These would make better stories. But she belongs to the right tribe, so nothing but fatuous praise for her from the usual suspects. Irritating.

Anonymous Philalethes July 16, 2014 10:43 PM  

Considering the point is to aggravate...

Well, obviously....

...the core of the story is a friendship that transcends the differences between two ultimately alien races....

Thanks, slarrow, for elucidating why I liked the story, better than I did.

Opera Vita Aeterna was kindergarden-level crap as well.

Oh, I thought you were serious. My mistake.

As for you, it's just too bad you aren't so manly that you don't even have an X chromosome.

Huh? I assume you're addressing me? Well, never had any DNA testing done, so I suppose it's possible? Otoh, I'm kind of an intellectual wimp type, socially awkward, have always been understanding of and sympathetic to females (Game theory has helped me understand why I've been LJBF'd all my life; thank Heaven it no longer matters) and tended to have more female than male friends, so perhaps I have two X's and one Y? I dunno.

At this point I do know, however, that you're not worth engaging for any kind of discussion. Sometimes I wonder if the democratizing influence of the Internet is really a good idea. All people's thoughts are not of equal value. Is this truly the best the "opposition" to Vox Day and friends (which I'm not really one of, btw) can come up with? Pathetic. I'm sorry for your suffering, but it's not my fault.

Anonymous Harsh July 16, 2014 10:46 PM  

@Beardsley

The post above by slarrow shows how you critique a story you've actually read. That's why your fluff criticism of Opera was so easy to spot as bullshit. You're welcome.

Anonymous bob k. mando July 16, 2014 10:57 PM  

Obvious July 16, 2014 10:00 PM
The mere fact that you took the time to comment upon it, has made it all worthwhile.



we comment whether you trolls are here or not. so ... congratulations on accomplishing nothing?

i mean, IF you could embarrass us such that we left Vox Popoli and 'will never post again' THEN you would have actually accomplished something.

instead all you're doing is smearing shit all over yourselves while declaring that you're winning winners and we're losing losers.

*yawn*

Blogger WATYF July 16, 2014 11:00 PM  

And I will add that there is nothing redeeming about anything else set in Selenoth either. You, sir, are completely blind to your own weaknesses, and that's because you spend all your time surrounded by these sycophants.

I throught Opera Vita was only an OK story. Not great, not terrible. I was kind of disappointed, and I said as much in an Amazon review (so much for your charge of "sycophancy"). As a result, I don't necessarily fault people for not liking it, especially if they haven't read any other Selenoth material (which goes a long way towards explaining much of the context and world-building necessary to fully appreciate Opera).

However, the above statement simply displays your bias and lack of objectivity on the matter (or your incompetence). You are either lying (to produce whatever is your desired effect), or you are a fool whose opinion can be safely ignored, much like someone who says that Brittney Spears is the height of musical skill and creativity.

Summa Elvetica is a good book. Throne of Bones is a great book. You have, unfortunately, shown everyone your hand (even those like myself willing to extend you the benefit of the doubt) by saying that neither has "any redeeming qualities". The detailed scope, historical verisimilitude, and continuity alone of ToB is enough to be a "redeeming quality", even if you didn't particularly like the story.

WATYF

Blogger slarrow July 16, 2014 11:02 PM  

Truth is, Harsh, we really can't expect blithering idiots to contribute much to these kinds of discussions. (The X chromosome thing doesn't even make enough sense to have any bite as an insult.) But they can be occasionally useful to hang more constructive thoughts on. I often don't stir myself to comment on these kinds of things unless I'm irritated, so they're useful in that respect, after a fashion. It's like how pearls form: it seems some folks take inordinate pride in being the piece of crap that initiates the process. But no one values a pearl for the junk in the middle.

Anonymous Philalethes July 16, 2014 11:07 PM  

...the core of the story is "woman abandons dying husband to do what she wants".

Hmm. Haven't read it, don't want to. But I wondered, what if the roles were reversed, and it was "man abandons dying wife"? Would that be so "horrific"? Maybe that was the point of the story somehow—to point out a "double standard"? I could see a man abandoning a dying wife if he felt compelled by honor or commitment to a higher principle to do something else. But not merely to "do what he wants". That's the difference; in the female mind, everything is personal, so a feminist cannot see the difference. But then, I suppose this "female astronaut" could be said to be serving a higher principle, i.e. the feminist dogma of "anything you can do I can do better; I can do anything better than you." Only not; sorry.

PS to my post above: Given that I've always been sympathetic to the female point of view, and was an excellent candidate to become a Scalzi-type fe-male, it has been a very interesting journey for me to come to realize that the Ancients' view of women was truly accurate. And a bit of a disappointment as well.

After the Buddha was reluctantly persuaded to allow women to join the renunciate Order he'd founded, he predicted that his Teaching would last unadulterated for only some 500 years, rather than the 1000 it would have lasted had he not done so. I.e., a 5th century BCE version of WRE. And he was right; about five centuries after his death the movement now known as Mahayana arose, then moved out to become the Buddhism of East and Central Asia. It still contains the core teaching of Buddhism, and has produced many highly developed, even enlightened masters, but it's also heavily adulterated with feminist ideas. And here in America, the Zen tradition especially has been mostly taken over by women, who are busy "reinterpreting" the Buddha's teaching to suit their priorities—and their limited understanding. They think what they're doing is Buddhism—and indeed it looks the same, on the outside (they're expert mimics)—but are simply incapable of understanding why it is not.

Blogger James Dixon July 16, 2014 11:17 PM  

> But I wondered, what if the roles were reversed, and it was "man abandons dying wife"? Would that be so "horrific"?

Based on that question, I'd have to guess that you're not married.

Anonymous Philalethes July 16, 2014 11:19 PM  

Based on that question, I'd have to guess that you're not married.

Well, it was a question, not a statement; but why do you draw that conclusion?

Blogger slarrow July 16, 2014 11:24 PM  

Philalethes, that's what was irritating about the story: there were auxiliary concerns raised that would have been interesting (and good) reasons for the main character to go into space. The point of the mission was to set a waypoint that would provide a shortcut to an inhabitable planet, so there's the "greater good" angle that could have been played up. She was chosen because there was danger involved that would possibly shorten her life and she was, frankly, old and expendable. Introducing a character that would have gone otherwise would have strengthened the self-sacrifice aspect.

So there were higher principles introduced, but the reason the story returned to over and over again was her sheer desire to get back out among the stars. It did indeed reinforce those sad truths the ancients knew and that I, too, have been reluctantly discovering after reading Vox for some time.

Anonymous Anonymous July 16, 2014 11:52 PM  

The mere fact that you took the time to comment upon it, has made it all worthwhile.

There's a great MST3K host segment where Pearl plays a minor prank on Mike that causes him about 5 seconds of embarrassed confusion, then she crows about how badly and easily she burned him:

"All we had to do was call fifty-three costume shops to find one that had three penguin costumes, reserve them eight months in advance with a huge cash deposit, then pay a balance of eight hundred and ninety-nine dollars per costume to rent them for an hour, then put them on, then wait until you guys woke up and finished breakfast, then call you and make believe that we had set up an appointment for you all to wear penguin costumes, and then... you fell for it! It was so simple!"

Blogger S. Thermite July 17, 2014 12:09 AM  

1. "Opera Vita Aeterna"
2. "The Exchange Officers"
3. "The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling"
4. No Award

I thought that Ted Chiang's writing and some of his insight/reflection were superb, but his overall message was not- there's too much ambiguity and implicit bashing of fathers, Western culture, and Christianity in the world already, and the last thing we need right now is more hand-wringing by those with experience and a legitimate point-of-view, which I one reason I keep reading this blog. It was still impressive writing though though, IMHO, but I've never read anything by him before.

For what little it's worth, I'd put "The Lady Astronaut of Mars" above "The Waiting Stars." They were both female-centric and too solipsistic/emotion-based, but at least Mary Robinette Kowal's story had some degree of class and femininity, and didn't regress into goddess and ancestor worship with an overt racial bent.

Anonymous FP July 17, 2014 12:51 AM  

Having just read The Lady Astronaut, my first thought was you could change the sexes and the story would still be the same. Space jockey geezer wants to relive their past and this presents a great excuse to abandon your dying spouse so you don't have to see them die. How brave.

Despite the lady astronaut being a trailblazer, she's so hot to trot for her true love, the stars that she'll forgo her strong independent grrl power notions and bow down to NASA and some evil senators. Why are they so desperate to get a geezer into space? Budget issues. Its all an excuse to get out of watching her husband die. For Pete's sake they're desperate... fly down to Earth and toss around some of that grrl power with those darn short sighted senators, by gum!

Blogger James Dixon July 17, 2014 6:37 AM  

> ...but why do you draw that conclusion?

Because if you were you wouldn't have to ask the question.

Anonymous Philalethes July 17, 2014 9:11 AM  

Because if you were you wouldn't have to ask the question.

Because the correct answer would be...?

Anonymous bob k. mando July 17, 2014 11:59 AM  

too funny.

even Gabe over at Penny Arcade has had it with Pink sf:
http://www.penny-arcade.com/news/post/2014/07/16/fluency

don't they understand how sexist they're being? this book was written by a Strong! Empowered! Womyn!


"I read bits of Fluency to Kara and she laughed out loud. I read some of it to Tycho and he removed his glasses then closed his eyes and rubbed the bridge of his nose. It seemed like the words were physically hurting him."

Blogger James Dixon July 17, 2014 2:32 PM  

> Because the correct answer would be...?

What ever your spouse says. :)

Blogger Duke of Earl July 18, 2014 5:03 AM  

> Because the correct answer would be...?

What the fox says?

Anonymous Joe doakes July 18, 2014 9:16 AM  

Exchange betrays the author familiarity with military, opera reads as if the author was familiar with monastery, which is the greater challenge. Opera first, then exchange.

Blogger Dave W. October 18, 2014 5:47 PM  

Is that you, Marston? Necropost trolling, really?

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