Sunday, August 02, 2015

Are the Hugos relevant?

I thought it was interesting that the Saturday night panel at ArmadilloCon last weekend on the subject of the Hugos was entitled "Are the Hugos Relevant?"

That's kind of a leading title, in my opinion, and it illuminates a certain mind-set. Now, Austin is not like most of Texas. Between the bureaucrats of the state government and the denizens of academia created by the University of Texas, it's much more like your typical bullshit East or West Coast political correctness enclave.

The title of the panel indicates the assumption of some people at least that because the "wrong types" of people got nominated for the Hugos this year, the award is no longer relevant. I think that's jumping the gun a bit; one panelist - Marguerite Reed - said of course the awards are still relevant, "or we wouldn't be talking about them."

In my opinion, the best outcome for the awards will be that at least one category gets No Awarded, thereby throwing a sop to the literary snobs. If the revenge backlash sought by the Puppy Kickers produces a long list of No Awards, then the awards will quickly slide off into oblivion. I mean, why participate in an award process where most of the categories were not presented?

A total Puppy sweep would probably produce a boycott from the Kickers who will redouble their attention towards the Nebulas, which is controlled by the SFWA and would never be subject to the kind of peasants' uprising that struck the Hugos this year.

Maybe one No Award, some wins for non-Puppy finalists in a few categories, a few Puppy wins - a mixed bag would be the best end for this year's internecine strife.

Some of the most vocal people in the Puppy Kicker camp should hope there is not a sweep of No Awards because they crossed the line in attacking some authors into that's called "exaction" under organized crime statutes. They threatened someone's income or livelihood. It's not extortion because no physical threat was employed, but when people say certain authors will never get published again, or that they will have to use a pen name in the future, they are committing exaction. Certain editors at Tor books - and one of the MCs at the Hugo ceremony - are guilty of this.

Of course,if the No Award threat fizzles, there'd be no cause for action in a court, but if an author - especially one who had a contract with Tor - loses out to No Award, they could sue for damages. That's probably the real reason Tom Doherty wrote the response he did to the hateful bilge sputtered by Irene Gallo about the Sad Puppies. His lawyers advised that he'd better distance Tor the company from its editors in case an exaction complaint is filed after the Hugo results are announced.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

First foreign language publication

Today, Nemira publishing of Romania announced the next issue of its s-f magazIne, Colectia de Povestiri Stiintifico Fantastice (CPSF) is available for pre-order here.

The double issue, prepared by editor-in-Chief Ma Truta, includes stories by David Levine, Lou Antonelli, and Robert Charles Wilson.

This translated version of "On a Spiritual Plain" - "Pe Campia Spiritelor" - is my first foreign language reprint.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Free speech

Just a reminder, as we approach the end of the voting period for the Hugo awards, of the tone maintained by many of the opponents of this year's Sad Puppy finalists.

Brad, of course, refers to Brad Torgersen, who coordinated the assembly of this year's list of recommendations. He will not be able to attend the Hugo ceremony, insofar as he is in the military and currently deployed in the Middle East - protecting the right of fellow Americans to express their free speech opinions.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Amazed

Most on-line reviews of Hugo-nominated short fiction this year are being done in bad faith by people who have an elitist agenda and who seem to want to teach the uppity peasants a lesson by showing them how shitty their writing is.

Which is accomplishing nothing because any honest and intelligent observer can see their obvious bias and antagonism. If not openly hostile, at the very least they hold this year's finalists to a much higher standard than usual.

Most of the personal comments I have received over my story - either online or face-to-face - have been positive. But blog posts have usually been a hatchet job. Occasionally some valid criticisms peek through. But generally the blatant hostility is obvious. I don't know why people make the effort for this; they must have a lot of time on their hands and hate in their hearts.

Interestingly, some of the most nuanced reviews have come from people who I've had run-ins in the past, and who seem to be trying to be fair when they know they have a personal bias against me. Although overall critical, they will hit on weaknesses even I would concede.

This all being the case, here's a review that's overall positive. I stand amazed.

Review of “On a Spiritual Plain,” short story by Lou Antonelli (Sci Phi Journal #2, 11-2014)
July 18, 2015

Lela E. Buis

I’m currently reading the Hugo nominations so I can vote. Here’s my second review.

Lou Antonelli’s story is about Earth-people at a base on a planet called Ymilas, and it’s narrated by the base chaplain, a young Methodist minister. Because of the planet’s strong magnetic field, it traps particles that show up as fantastic auroras. When one of the work crew named Joe dies, it becomes evident that it also traps ghosts. The young minister consults with the local alien religious leader and discusses the problem, finds that the spirits of the local dead are also trapped and that they must go on a pilgrimage to the north polar region where they can pass through a gate and dissipate into nothingness. The minister sets out with the religious leader on the pilgrimage and Joe, supported by the local Helpful Ancestors, passes on. When the next man dies, the minister knows they need to go on another pilgrimage.

I rather liked the premise here. The story is well-written, though not very complex, dramatic or exciting–a bit short on conflict. The setup with the magnetic field and the ghosts is creative and provokes questions about the nature of the human soul a.k.a. the electromagnetic imprint left by humans after they die. There is very mild humor in the base commander’s anxiety about the safe return of the transportation equipment the minister uses. Three stars.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

My ArmadilloCon schedule

The programming for ArmadilloCon Convention​ has gone live. My schedule is as follows:

Fr1700D Alternate History
Fri 5:00 PM-6:00 PM Ballroom D
Antonelli, Brown*, Dimond, Kimbriel, Mills, Waldrop
Why is this gere so fascinating, and how does it relate to the rest of speculative fiction? What special challenges does it pose for the write -- and reader?

Fr2000E The Art of the Short Story
Fri 8:00 PM-9:00 PM Ballroom E
Allen, Antonelli, Bey, Griffin, Mandala, Wade*

Sa1200DR Autographing
Sat Noon-1:00 PM Dealers' Room
Antonelli, Clarke, Mallory, Moyer, Porter, Wood

Sa1530B Reading
Sat 3:30 PM-4:00 PM Southpark B
Lou Antonelli​

Sa2100D The Hugo Award's Struggle for Relevance
Sat 9:00 PM-10:00 PM Ballroom D
Antonelli, Landon, Muenzler*, Reed, Weisman
A discussion of recent challenges to the award.

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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