Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Illegitimus non caninus

You know, some people encouraging slate voting was not a good idea, and IMHO turned into a real fiasco when a narrow range of stories ended up dominating the Hugo nominations in some categories - but the backlash of advocating No Awarding in those categories, and the spew of reviews of those works obviously done in bad faith is equally wrong.

The internet brings out the worst in people, and the sneers and taunts from both sides in the current literary dispute are sad. Next year I expect we'll see a little more variety in the nominations - I, for one, will not have anything to do with any more recommended lists - and I hope after this back and forth things will settle down somewhat.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Genrecide

Here's a neologism for you: Genrecide.

The dispute that arose when the Sad Puppy selections did so well in the Hugo nominations has probably created a permanent split of science fiction fans - not one created by the literature, but for social reasons.

Both sides have said such horrible things about each other that I doubt the rift will ever be healed. I wouldn't be surprised if some semantic distinction arises later - such as the Sad Puppies' type of fiction being called spec fic as opposed to science fiction.

Teresa Nielsen Hayden and her blog Making Light started the civil war when she realized her chums - the usual suspects - were not getting their Hugo nomination notice emails as usual. She blew up and started the vituperation a week before the actual announcement was made - proving the point, as Larry Corriea was pointed out, that there is an insider clique after all.

Mike Glyer, who's been running his fan site File 770 since dirt was invented, unfortunately has kept the wildfires burning by collecting up Puppy posts and republishing them on his site. The comments threads there have become the clearing house for all Puppy Kicker resentment.

I don't believe either side of completely right or completely wrong, but it really doesn't matter anymore, because regardless of how or who started it, and how it ends, thanks to the internet too much has been said attacking too many people by so many people that there will probably be a long-term drop in readership and popular support.

Perhaps in the future people will say they read magic realism, or space opera, or dystopia, or alternate history - but as a result of the Puppy Wars, no one will actually want to admit they read "science fiction" because of all the negative connotations in the wake of the current unpleasantness.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Spell my name right

The statement, "I don't care what the newspapers say about me as long as they spell my name right" - attributed to many historical figures over the years - has been cited as an example of the fact that, in the long run, all publicity is good publicity.

One colleague said recently that, in a few years nobody will remember the details of the Sad Puppy controversy, but they'll remember my name. I'm not so totally assured of that, but on the other hand, I definitely see signs that my name has gotten around more.

I'd like to think that communications and rejections have gotten a little more personal and polite. At least it seems that way to me. I've only had one acceptance since April 4, when the Hugo nominations were announced, but I'm getting feedback with rejections I didn't get before. Being a lone writer in a small town - and not having access to any writer's group - getting any kind of feedback from an editor is valuable.

On the other hand, I just may feel that way because of all the abuse that's been directed towards the Sad Puppies. At this point, not being called an asshole, neo-nazi, homophobe or misogynist on any given day is positive.

Since I am a fellow traveler, not a ring leader of the Sad Puppies, I've never felt the same emotional investment as other people. I do know that I have a temper that can be set off by punching the wrong button, and I've always tried to control that. Some bystanders to the ongoing controversy have noticed that, too.

When I was growing up I was called Pollyanna by my mother because I refused to punch out people who disagreed with me. My father considered any discussion that ended short of gun play as cordial. It was an atypical childhood.

In a discussion yesterday on a web site about my blog post yesterday, one person said:

"I find Antonelli a bit more reasonable than the rest of the puppies. He has stated that the slate was a big mistake, has said that he doesn’t like the use of the word SJW and has said that it shouldn’t be a SP4 next year.

"I think he’s one that it is actually possible to have a discussion with and not just getting talking points back. Main problem is that he seems to have the temper of an irritated grizzly that missed his morning trout."

In light that I am Italian, have diabetes and the body build of a bear, this is the most insightful thing anyone has ever said about me. Got me down, cold.

P.S. I still think any incarnation of Sad Puppies next year is a bad idea, and I will certainly not participate in any manner.

P.P.S. I didn't realize until after I posted this originally that some people don't know I am a first generation American. Both my parents came to the U.S. in the 1950s. My father was illegal when I was born. I am the first member of my family to be a citizen, speak English, and complete my public school education. So I identify strongly as an Italian, and in fact, I would be granted Italian citizenship automatically if I asked.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Puppies in the heartland

After three conventions in five months - in Kansas City, Houston, and Oklahoma City - I have to say I have not seen any animosity against the Sad Puppies effort, and in fact, many statements of support.

The Puppy Kickers would have you think that if you are a Sad Puppy and you go out in public, people will spontaneously attack you in righteous indignation. The fact is, the s-f literary establishment is cliquish and, while the Puppy Kickers have been feeding each others' nutty outrage (nutrage?), most fans don't care as much about the Hugos as they do, and many fans have over the years noticed the social inbreeding and the tendency to ostracize anyone who doesn't fit into their narrow political parameters. I've seen and heard many fans express satisfaction that someone has stuck it to the snobs.

The leading lights in literary s-f are on a political spectrum with Obama on the right and extending God knows where to the left. And as for God, forget it. Any professions of faith get you branded an idiot at best, usually a bigot. The characterization by Tor Editor Irene Gallo of the Sad Puppies as neo-nazis, homophobes and racists is pretty much the party line.

There are a lot of Christians and Republicans between the west bank of the Hudson and San Francisco, but these people don't seem to know it. The Puppy Kickers are scattered all across the U.S. - John Scalzi lives in Ohio, George R.R. Martin in New Mexico - but let's face it, wherever they live is a little suburb of the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

In the places I have been this summer, the fans - if not people of faith and Republicans themselves - know people who are and have friends who are, and they don't have that visceral hatred towards the average American that the Puppy Kickers have. If the U.S. had a parliament instead of a Congress, we'd have a Republican Prime Minister. As someone who's followed politics both personally and professionally for as long as I have. I know the only reason the Democratic Party gets as many votes as it does is the relentless ballot box stuffing in the big cities. Most Americans vote Republican.

Most people also identify themselves with some religion. But it seems the Puppy Kickers don't seem to know anyone who goes to a church, mosque or synagogue, or who votes Republican. Being privileged by birth, wealth, or political correctness, the Puppy Kickers see no reason to be fair or care about the conditions that led to the slapdash backlash against their cliquishness.

The assertion the elites didn't orchestrate efforts to nominate certain works each year is specious. A friend asked me at one of my recent conventions if I think there is a blacklist against aspiring authors. I told it it wasn't necessary, the opinion leaders are so uniform in their outlook any formal list or slate was unneeded. For the last few years, all I had to do was look to see what Scalzi, Jim Hines, Rachel Swirsky and Mary Robinette Kowal was blogging about to know what was going to be on the Nebula and Hugo ballot.

The fans in the heartland know and recognize the narrow base of social acceptance in literary science fiction and most are happy to see some backlash against it. Fandom remains open and accepting of all types of people in a way that literary s-f left a number of years ago.

The Puppy Kickers cite well-known authors who are known conservatives - Mike Resnick and Larry Niven are two - but they came up through the ranks years ago. People like Larry Corriea and Brad Torgersen have entered the field in the past ten years, and have seen and felt first-hand the snubs and insults of the snobs. Both were nominated for the Campbell Award for Best new writer in their first year of eligibility. They didn't win. Now, that award allows you two years of eligibility, and over the years many writers have has two shots at winning - but neither Larry nor Brad were even nominated in their second years of eligibility.

The Puppy Kickers would assert it's because as people got to know them better, they realized they sucked as authors. I suspect it's more likely they were shunted aside because they do not conceal their Mormon faith.

In 2012, when Mitt Romney was the Republican nominee for president, most of the leading lights in the s-f  literary world combined their hatred for people of faith with their hatred for Republicans by attacking Romney in the most vile language. Quite frankly, I personally believe there are some things you should never say to or about people, regardless of the subject. In light of the attacks on Romney, is it any wonder all the Mormon s-f writers went off the reservation? It's almost a human rights issue - "you can't say that about one of my coreligionists.

I doubt most of the Puppy Kickers have any Christian friends, and certainly no Mormons. But here in Middle America there are plenty of Christians, Mormons, and even - as Jay Lake used to say - "low church atheists" - people who don't believe in the supernatural, but, like Jay, didn't mind if you needed a faith.

I remember when Jay said the source of so much ill feeling were the "high church atheists" - people who didn't believe in God, and wanted to stamp out your religion, too. Jay was a smart man and a nice guy.

As I have made the convention circuit, I have been heartened by the many people who have been kind and supportive of my work, and either supportive or tolerant of the Sad Puppies effort. It reminds me that most people are thoughtful and considerate human beings, and the internet is a tool that is - like the machinery left behind by the Krel as depicted in the s-f classic movie "Forbidden Planet" - letting the darkest and worst innermost aspects of human nature loose upon the land.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Back home

Coming home from SoonerCon in Oklahoma City reminds me that I've attended three conventions in just about five weeks - ConQuest in Kansas City May 22-24, ApolloCon in Houston June 19-21, and SonnerCon June 26-28. Now for a break - I have a week off for a summer vacation this week. My next convention will be ArmadilloCon Convention in Austin July 24-26.

A Facebook friend asked me today, "What do you get out of this much con-going? It's not a financial benefit is it? I'm curious."

I replied that I do it for self-promotion and networking. I have seen the benefits accumulate over the years of people getting to meet and know you a bit, to know that you're a real person. I suppose it works for me because I'm very outgoing, and I'm also a much better public speaker than a writer.

I also feel this year I have a special obligation to get out there because of my Hugo nominations. I feel if I'm asking people to consider my virtues as a writer, they have the right to see me and buttonhole me.


Latest reviews

"It’s possible that you haven’t run into the stories of Lou Antonelli. Since 2003, he’s been publishing delightful short tales of alternate history all over the nooks and crannies of the SF world. Thanks to Fantastic Books, we now have 28 of these little gems in one place. "Many of Antonelli’s stories have an unexpected twist ending. And many of them are what he calls “secret history” stories, which aren’t exactly alternate history—they’re set in our familiar history, but there’s always some element that contemporary observers missed. " -

- Don Sakers, The Reference Library, Analog July-Aug. 2014

A better path develops for a distraught man in “Double Exposure” by Lou Antonelli (debut 6/11 and reviewed by Frank D). Jake is about to end it all. He has been trying to keep his high maintenance wife happy for decades and has needed to embezzle to satisfy her spending habits. Now, on the verge of indictment and abandoned by his spouse, he buys a gun. Before he pulls the trigger, he spies a Kodak one-day photo hut. Curious, he pulls up to the window. They are holding pictures of him and his last girlfriend from 30 years before. The package is a lot thicker than it should be. Double Exposure” is listed as an Alternative History story but I would classify it as a Magical Realism tale. It is set as a second chance tale, a look into a life that should have been. The author is inspired by his memories of the old photo huts (I remember them) and of their disappearance. A cool idea (photos of another life), one that I could imagine would make for a great anthology.

- Frank Dutkiewicz, Diabolical Plots

“Great White Ship”: A traveler stuck waiting for a flight strikes up a conversation with an old airline employee. The Old Timer tells him a story of a Great White Airship that arrives from a most unusual destination. The story of a craft from an alternate reality and how it got there is only the precursor to the final act. This is one of my favorite stories from this site. I have a great passion for lighter-than-air craft and their potential as a future means of transport, which opens the story. The author uses this speculation to launch into an engaging tale. As fascinating as the main story line is, the alternate history premise that accompanies it is just as worthwhile. This story was well written and very well thought out. It is well worth the read. Recommended.

- James Hanzelka, Diabolical Plots

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