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theinferior4

Let Me Explain... No, There Is Too Much. Let Me Sum Up.

May. 27th, 2015 | 04:01 pm
posted by: ljgoldstein in theinferior4

I may or may not blog about the novels on the ballot, but it'll take a while for me to read them all and write about them.  So I thought I'd take a breather here and just talk about what I learned from reading all the short fiction on the Hugo ballot.

First of all, these are bad stories.  With few exceptions they range from really, really awful to mediocre.  (I thought "The Triple Sun" was decent, and "Championship B'tok" might have been all right if I knew more about what was going on, but neither of them rise to the level of a Hugo nominee.)  And they're all bad in different ways.  There are cardboard characters, plots without tension, confusing plots, poor writing, commonplace ideas, allegories that don't allegorize, and stories that are just boring as hell.

One of my questions when I started was why the Puppies chose these specific stories.  And after all that reading, I have to say that I still don't know, and the statements of the Puppies themselves don't really help.  Larry Correia wanted to nominate stories that would "make literati heads explode," stories with right-wing themes that would anger SJWs (Super-Judgmental Werewolves?) when they appeared on the ballot.  But we're very used to narratives of straight white men doing straight white manly things, and even seeing those stories nominated for Hugos.  It's all just business as usual.  I don't know about other people's crania, but my head stayed firmly on my shoulders while I was reading -- though it did slip toward the desk a few times, my eyes closing, thinking, Ho hum, another one …

Correia also rejected "boring message fiction" -- but then how to explain John C. Wright's Catholic apologia, or Tom Kratman's push for more and more weaponry?  And his final explanation was that people were mean to him at a convention.  Okay, but why these stories?  Was putting us through all of this his idea of revenge?

Brad Torgersen, famously, wanted books that matched their covers.  He also wanted non-literary, non-elitist fiction, only for John C. Wright to say that he, at least, did write literary work.  (Not by me, he doesn't, but that's a whole other discussion.)

What about nominating good stories?  Surely that should be the most important criterion of all for a Hugo award, but in fact it was very rarely mentioned by the Puppies themselves.  And yet here was an unmatched opportunity to introduce the sf community to well-written fiction by conservative-leaning authors.*  Instead they gave us this parade of shabby, stale stories, a series of embarrassments compared to previous nominees and winners.

Look, guys.  Science fiction is, almost by definition, about all of time and space.  You can write about  practically anything.  A proton that unfolds in other dimensions to cover an entire planet, as in Three Body Problem.  A battalion sharing a single mind, as in Ancillary Sword and Ancillary Justice.  Love.  Lust.  Greed.  Revenge, or deciding against revenge, as in The Goblin Emperor.  Galaxy-spanning civilizations.  Incomprehensible aliens.  Three sexes.  Four sexes.  Sixteen sexes.  Magic.  Obsession.  Strangeness.

I don't know about you, but this year I feel cheated.

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* For example, "Salvage and Demolition" by Tim Powers, which would have been eligible in the Novella category in 2014.  Check it out.

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