Reading the Hugos (2018) Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience™

I’ll use this story as an example of the dilemma any prospective writer who aspires to a reputation among the Noble People will encounter. You can write a good story, one that will stand on its own merits, capable of being read by people from all around the world, but at the cost of (probably) being ignored, or you can add a layer of fashionable dogma that will impoverish your story, restrict its appeal, and reduce its longevity, but with the possible reward of social approval or a nomination.

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Reading the Hugos (2018) The Martian Obelisk

Someone must have let his guard down because this story, The Martian Obelisk, by Linda Nagata, is an actual science fiction story, with bits of astronomy, space travel, technology, and all that jazz. Yes, unbelievable isn’t it? A Hugo story which is an actual science fiction story?! You could give this story to a random person whose only understanding of sci-fi is “stuff with rockets and futuristic gadgets” and he would concur with you: yes, this is, indeed, a science fiction story. Unfortunately, it overextends, misses the mark, and fails at it.

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Reading the Hugos (2018) Carnival Nine

I regret to inform you, dear reader, that after reading the first Short Story nominee for this year’s Hugo Awards, I have come to the conclusion that Carnival Nine, for that is its name, is Not Awful. That may seem an uninformative score, but… not really, at least for me, as it is quite significant since what I usually expect is Awful.

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These foking fockers focking focked language again: on swearing and fiction.

Today is the Lord’s Day so I won’t engage in any posting of wicked and evil news [edit: that was from when I used to post crazy daily news as part of my DISUM] for it is known that all journalists are servants of one devil or another, and reading their shrieking incantations for too long is a sure path to damnation and mental retardation. Instead, I’ll write about swearing in writing and the use of the word fuck.

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‘Classic Conditioning One,’ a Star Wars cyberpunk story.

It was the future. The year? 2013.

Somewhere hidden below the festering nest of neon, chrome, and roving gangs of hipsters of New Los Angeles, Disney’s underground laboratory woke up from its slumber. Commanding calls and urgent messages in the middle of the night reached the bleary Disney scientists: “Rise and Shine, boys, the Vault’s up. Get to work! – B.I.”

The Boss had spoken, and from all around the country, scientists specializing in neuromarketing, behavioral sciences, and Artificial Intelligence traveled to New L.A. Their goal, to design the new Star Wars trilogy.

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“Lit Bait” and preferences/discrimination in genre literature.

Reading this piece by Jon Del Arroz about alleged anti-male bias in SF&F made me think about two events of my life which bear on this issue. Jon’s point –and the numbers he presents seem to support his claim– is that there is an anti-male bias in some parts of the short story market (and probably also in others.) I think that’s plausible, and there are some obvious examples like Tor.com or Uncanny. However, the problem goes deeper than that, and the alleged anti-maleness may be just an unfortunate consequence of an even more indelible bias than merely avoiding stories by testosterone-poisoned individuals. Let me tell you about two things that happened when I was young, so you get an idea of what I’m talking about.

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Sad and Rabid Cachorros, Spanish Commentariat Edition.

Yesterday, the Spanish online newspaper Crónica Global published an opinion piece about, of all the things, the Sad-Rabid Puppies Saga. It is an – interesting article, to say the least. It’s what you’d expect, really, but I was shocked by its vitriol. Although I guess that’s inevitable because, being something written for an audience that has probably never heard about the SP-RPs, one can get away with being ramblingly vicious or not bothering to source your claims. Lack of opposition, I guess.

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Asimov’s Adventure editorials IV: Hollywood, movies, and pew-pew sci-fi.

This is the editorial of the last issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction Adventure Magazine, a short-lived magazine from late 1978 to late 1979. I guess he had no idea the magazine was going to be canceled since the subject of this editorial —even if interesting— is probably not about what one would write for a final issue.

Anyway, I liked his comment on how destroying a spaceship in words is as easy as doing anything else in words. That’s something many people who write as if they were filming a movie (or a video game) usually forget.

You can read the other editorials here: first, second, and third.

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Asimov’s Adventure editorials III: on mythology, sword & sorcery, and economists.

This is the third editorial [first and second] of Asimov’s Science Fiction Adventure Magazine, a short-lived magazine with only four issues (from late 1978 to late 1979,) where the famous writer explained his understanding of adventure, science fiction, fantasy, and their place in the current scientific era.

His thesis is that there is an important abyss between the pre and post scientific understanding of the world, especially concerning the problem of how to manipulate the universe or to make it work for us. He isn’t wrong, though, but I’d really like to know what was his opinion about writers like Jack Vance, who were aware of that pre and post scientific chasm but consciously played around it to undermine it and mix the different worldviews. Unfortunately, I have never come across any suggestion that Asimov knew or cared about Vance.

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Reading Nebulas (2017) Things with Beards, by Sam J. Miller

By focusing on the Hugo Awards I may have given the impression that the problems with fashionable science fiction and fantasy are a “Hugo” problem. The Hugos have become a bit of a battlefield and an arena for various trollish antics (the only interesting thing about the Hugo Awards, if you ask me,) so that’s a reasonable misunderstanding. But it’s not a Hugo-only problem because the same symptoms can be seen in the other two big SFF Awards: Nebula and World Fantasy Award. And when I say the same I mean it because this year’s Nebula and Hugo short story nominees are almost the same:

Hugo Nebula WFA comparison

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