Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Sad Puppies, pay your traffic tickets!

The news recently about the disqualification of two works from the preliminary Hugo ballot reminds me of something that happened to me in a real world political context.

I’ve been involved in politics — real politics — many times. I’ve been elected to office in high school, college, and public life. There are more similarities to what has transpired in the Hugo nominations then you might suppose. These disqualifications are a good example.

One thing I’ve seen that remains constant over time and circumstances is how in any system there is always an “establishment” — a group of people who benefit from the established order and are resistant to reform and change. It’s human nature to want things to stay the way they are when it’s good for you.

Many years ago I worked in a small town and ran a weekly newspaper. A competitor was in tight with the crowd that controlled city government and had the contract to print the legal notices. When I asked for the opportunity to bid on that contract, I was told the Council wasn’t interested and wouldn’t even bring up the subject. I realized if I was to have a fair chance at the business there would have to be change in the city Council, and so I organized and fielded my own slate of candidates.

As the dust cleared from the election and people were stunned to learn how effectively the proverbial applecart had been overturned, the vows of revenge and retaliation started immediately.

Two days after the election I received a phone call from a sympathizer who worked in the constables’ office.

“Lou, you have an outstanding traffic ticket here,” he said.

“I know, I need to come by and pay the fine.”

“You need to come by and pay the fine like now,” he said. “They put the ticket on the JP’s desk and she’s going to write a warrant for your arrest. “

I thanked my friend for his tip and rushed over to the JP’s office to pay the ticket immediately.

My point is, once you piss off the establishment, they’ll come after you. In the news from the Hugo administrator, not only did he mention the checking of the story by John C. Wright and the qualifications of John Eno, but the fact he was also asked to check the eligibility of other works by Wright and Tom Kratman. It was determined that the first two examples were ineligible to be on the ballot, but after due consideration, the second two were.

I also saw on his Facebook feed that Jason Cordova, who’s a Campbell finalist, was also getting grilled on his eligibility.

Just like what happened to me when I pissed off the small-town political establishment and they started to pick at and retaliate against me, the establishment in literary science-fiction is obviously working behind the scenes to attack the credentials of the finalists— while publicly they are viciously attacking the credibility of those same people.

So many of these establishment types like to self-justify their behavior with noble sounding rhetoric, but the fact is they are just pursuing crass self-interest, whether they gain financially, socially, or with their vanity.

Oh, by the way, a few months later I did get contract to publish those legal notices.

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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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