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ApolloCon Schedule

I’m the author guest of honor at ApolloCon in Houston this weekend. (Which could be interesting, judging from the Houston weather forecasts.) Here’s the schedule, for anyone who might be in the area wanting to say hi. Or wanting to know how best to avoid me…

Friday

  • 3 p.m., Cottonwood: Meet & Greet Jim Hines
  • 7 p.m., Azalea 5: Opening Ceremonies

Saturday

  • Noon, Azalea 4: Reading
  • 2 p.m., Azalea 5: The Struggle
  • 3 p.m., Pecan: Libriomancer: The Movie (This is a fancasting panel; I wasn’t just burying the lede on a big movie deal or anything.)

Sunday

  • 11 a.m., Cypress: Blogging — Why and How

It sounds like I’ll also be one of the “celebrity” costume judges on Saturday night, and I’ll be doing two 1-hour sessions at the autographing table, but I haven’t seen the final schedule for autographing yet.

This will be my first time to ApolloCon — heck, this will be my first time in Texas — and I’m very much looking forward to it!

So, who else will I be seeing at the con this weekend? :-)

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

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Cool Stuff Friday

Friday is SO ready for a Friday…

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

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The Tor Mess

ETA: Could folks weighing in on what is or isn’t libel please also include your legal background and experience? It’s far too easy to play lawyer on the internet…

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So half of my social media today is pissed off about the Tor thing, and the other half is saying, “Wait, what Tor thing?”

SHORT VERSION: A comment Tor’s art director made a month ago led to complaints and calls for boycott, which led to an apology from Tom Doherty, which managed to piss off pretty much everyone on all sides.

SHORTER VERSION: Theodore Beale has been jerking people around again.

LONGER VERSION: Mr. Beale is, among other things, the head of the Rabid Puppies Hugo Slate, which he stacked with himself and authors from the small Finland-based press he founded last year. He also seems to have a serious hate-on for Tor Books, as well as one of Tor’s NYT bestselling and Hugo award-winning authors, John Scalzi.

Seven Months Ago: Late last year, Beale was trying (and failing) to stir up GamerGate to boycott Tor Books and John Scalzi in particular:

“[P]erhaps #GamerGaters also need to let @torbooks and @pnh know that they will no longer be buying books from Tor Books as a result of John Scalzi’s oft-professed antipathy for genuine gamers concerned about the politicization and corruption of the games media.” (From Reddit: Pro-GG author Vox Day suggests an operation to boycott John Scalzi)

Commenters on that thread basically pointed, laughed, and got on with their lives.

This is one of many examples of Beale’s crusade against John Scalzi (whom he prefers to call “McRapey”), Patrick Nielsen Hayden (Editor at Tor), Patrick’s wife Teresa (whom Beale refers to as “the Toad of Tor”), and Tor Books in general.

May 11: Irene Gallo, creative director of Tor Books and associate publisher of Tor.com, referenced the Sad and Rabid Puppy campaigns in a comment on her personal Facebook page, after posting about publishing Kameron Hurley’s The Geek Feminist Revolution on Tor.com. When asked what the puppies were all about, she replied:

“There are two extreme right-wing to neo-nazi groups, called the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies respectively, that are calling for the end of social justice in science fiction and fantasy. They are unrepentantly racist, misogynist, and homophobic. A noisy few but they’ve been able to gather some Gamergate folks around them and elect a slate of bad-to-reprehensible works on this year’s Hugo ballot.” (Source)

A short time later, Mister Beale became aware of Gallo’s comment and took a screenshot.

June 6: Beale posted his screenshot on Twitter, saying:

“The Creative Director at Tor Books libels #SadPuppies, Rabid Puppies, and #Gamergate on Facebook.”

He also took to his blog, saying, “this is libelous behavior we will be obliged to bring to the attention of the management at Pan Macmillan.” (Source)

Beale’s faux outrage was picked up and amplified by his commenters and folks like Sad and Rabid Puppy Hugo nominee Cedar Sanderson, among others.

But why did Beale wait almost a month to post this screenshot? He says on File770:

“I’ve held onto this since I had the screencap, which as you correctly note was made several weeks ago. As for the ‘sinister plotting’, I have long been in the habit of never using all of my ammunition at once, or pointing-and-shrieking for its own sake. I am a patient man and I didn’t strike back at TNH, PNH, or even John Scalzi right away either.” (Source)

He confirms this was part of his longer term plan to attack Tor, but doesn’t say why June 6 was the target date. However, a number of people have noted that June 6 was also the day the Nebula Awards were announced. The Nebulas are given out each year by SFWA … the organization that kicked Beale out almost exactly two years ago for racist comments about another author, among other things.

In other words, by posting his screenshot on June 6 and riling up his supporters, he had an opportunity to both attack Tor and try to overshadow one of SFWA’s biggest annual events at the same time. This is speculation, but seems consistent with Beale’s long-term grudges and his stated perception of himself as fighting a long term war against … I dunno. Pink gamma bunnies or something.

June 8: Tom Doherty posted a long apology at Tor.com, saying in part:

“Last month, Irene Gallo, a member of Tor’s staff, posted comments about two groups of science fiction writers, Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies, and about the quality of some of the 2015 Hugo Award nominees, on her personal Facebook page. Ms. Gallo is identified on her page as working for Tor. She did not make it clear that her comments were hers alone. They do not reflect Tor’s views or mine. She has since clarified that her personal views are just that and apologized to anyone her comments may have hurt or offended.”

A number of people felt Doherty had thrown Gallo under the bus in an attempt to appease Beale and his followers. Responses from Kameron Hurley, Chuck Wendig, and many more criticized Doherty for publicly dressing-down Gallo, pointing out that Tor had offered no such public response or apology when a Tor employee publicly described a Tor author as “phony,” “arrogant,” and “incompetent.” Likewise, there was no public statement when it became known that Tor had been employing a serial sexual harasser for years.

Others complained that Tor didn’t also rebuke people like John C. Wright for his homophobic and bigoted remarks. However, it should be pointed out that an author like Wright is not the equivalent of an employee like Gallo.

People on the pro-puppy side of things were angry that Doherty hadn’t gone further, and continued to call for Gallo to be fired.

Today: The apology thread at Tor.com has almost 500 comments. People on all sides are expressing anger at Tor and Tom Doherty, and some folks are still talking about a boycott…

…which would seem to be exactly what Beale wanted when he posted that screenshot and released the rabid hounds.

I mean, come on. You don’t think the man who routinely calls John Scalzi a rapist gives a damn about “libel,” do you? Gallo’s comment was a weapon he could use to try to damage Tor Books. And right now, in the heat of anger and argument, it looks like he succeeded.

Realistically though, I can’t imagine this boycott will be any more successful than his last effort. And most of the internet will probably have moved on by the end of the week.

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My Own Thoughts/Opinions:

  1. Beale is an asshole. I find it annoying when people dance to his tune. But I don’t see him having any long-term impact here.
  2. Gallo has every right to express her opinions, especially on her personal Facebook page. Doing so in the context of a comment promoting a Tor.com release? Yeah, I think that was a mistake. One for which she’s apologized.
  3. Doherty publicly chastising Gallo? I think that was a bigger mistake, and escalated the situation in nasty (and predictable) ways.
  4. Isn’t truth a defense against libel? Rabid Puppies was founded by a man who believes “the reason women shouldn’t vote in a representative democracy is they are significantly inclined to vote for whomever they would rather f***” (Source), and his champion author describes homosexuality as “perversion,” a “dark path” he compares to alcoholism (Source). Brad Torgersen, the head Sad Puppy, dismisses previous award-winning and nominated work as “affirmative action” fiction (Source), and spews things like, “Fuck you all. The forces of the progressive pink and poofy Xerxes were met at the Hugo Hot Gates, and repelled by a few brave dudes and dudettes with the stones to stand up to your bullshit.” (Source) Obviously, not every nominee and puppy supporter is an unapologetic bigot. But as a generalization based on things the highest-profile puppies have said? I think Beale would have a hard time winning that libel case of his.
  5. Everything I’ve seen of Gallo’s work has been amazing. She is damn good at what she does. Tor would be incredibly stupid to let her slip away, and while I can’t see the future, I don’t imagine they’re going to do so.
  6. Beale wants to foment hatred toward Tor. I’m disinclined to acquiesce to his request.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

My post about the Sad Puppies is up to 100+ comments at this point, and several of those comments have expressed frustration that I didn’t write about something different, generally things like, “Why didn’t you do a similar post on things said about the Sad Puppies” or “You should be talking about the Rabid Puppies instead of the Sads.”

I didn’t write about the Rabid Puppies in part because there doesn’t seem to be much confusion or ambiguity about Theodore Beale’s beliefs and motives, and I’m not all that interested in giving him attention. As for things said about the puppies…said by whom? I was blogging about the official pupmasters of the Sad Puppies movement, and despite claims of conspiracies and wars, there is no equivalent Anti-Puppy group.

While there are a number of reasons, perhaps the most important simply boils down to the fact that this is my blog, and I tend to write about whatever I feel like writing about, because I think it’s useful or entertaining or interesting.

I understand that a few people might think this is unfair, so I’ve come up with a proposal. If you feel it’s that important for me to write about the thing you wanted me to write, well, I am a professional writer…

For nonfiction, my rate is 25 cents/word, which I believe is fairly reasonable in the nonfiction market. Sunday’s post was 3000 words. If you’d like me to write the equivalent post for Mr. Beale and the Rabid Puppies, or about various things other people have said about the Puppy campaigns, that would come to $750. You can contact me through my website to work out payment arrangements and contract details. (I’m thinking $500 up front, with the balance payable upon publication once we see the final wordcount.)

I reserve the right to decline work, of course. If you ask me to write 500 words about why my own books suck, I might say no. Or I might say yes. That could be fun… And with two kids, I could certainly use the money!

All such posts will include a preface noting that they were commissioned. (That preface will not be included in the total word count.)

Any questions? :-)

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Puppies in Their Own Words

I’ve spent several hours on this, which is ridiculous. I don’t even know why, except that I’m frustrated by all of the “I never said…” “He really said…” “No he didn’t, you’re a lying liar!” “No, you’re the lying liar!” and so on.

An infinite number of monkeys have said an infinite number of things about the Hugos this year. People on all sides have said intelligent and insightful things, and people on all sides have said asinine things. The amount of words spent on this makes the Wheel of Time saga look like flash fiction. File770 has been doing an admirable job of posting links to the ongoing conversation.

I wanted to try to sort through the noise and hone in on what Correia and Torgersen themselves have been saying. As the founder and current leader, respectively, of the Sad Puppies, it seems fair to look to them for what the puppy campaign is truly about.

Read the rest of this entry »Collapse )

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Libriomancer is On Sale Again for $1.99

LibriomancerToday only, Amazon is marking down their most popular Amazon Daily Deal books of 2015, and I’m happy to say that includes Libriomancer. Just like before, other places are matching the reduced price, which means you have another chance to get the e-book for a mere $1.99.

My thanks to everyone who picked up the book earlier in the year and got it onto Amazon’s list, and to Amazon and my publisher for setting up this second chance deal.

If you want to try before you buy, the first chapter is posted here in .pdf format.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Klud the goblin scribe will be sending out my next newsletter tomorrow morning. In a totally transparent effort to get more people to sign up, I’ll be picking one random subscriber to receive an autographed copy of either LIBRIOMANCER or RISE OF THE SPIDER GODDESS — your choice.

Libriomancer - Lg Spider Goddess width=

You can sign up at https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/goblin-updates if you’re interested. These go out roughly once every three months.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Cool Stuff Friday

Friday was watching his son’s field day at school this afternoon…

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

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Time Salvager, by Wesley Chu

Time SalvagerI received an advance copy of Wesley Chu‘s Time Salvager [Amazon | B&N | IndieBound] a while back. The book comes out on July 7, and is a rather dark time-travel adventure based in a grim 26th century. From the publisher’s description:

In a future when Earth is a toxic, abandoned world and humanity has spread into the outer solar system to survive, the tightly controlled use of time travel holds the key maintaining a fragile existence among the other planets and their moons. James Griffin-Mars is a chronman–a convicted criminal recruited for his unique psychological makeup to undertake the most dangerous job there is: missions into Earth’s past to recover resources and treasure without altering the timeline.

On a final mission that is to secure his retirement, James meets an intriguing woman from a previous century, scientist Elise Kim, who is fated to die during the destruction of an oceanic rig. Against his training and his common sense, James brings her back to the future with him, turning them both into fugitives. Remaining free means losing themselves in the wild and poisonous wastes of Earth, and discovering what hope may yet remain for humanity’s home world.

James Griffin-Mars is bitter, burnt out, and in some respects broken. The laws of time travel limit him to locations where his thefts won’t be noticed: ships and facilities doomed to destruction. Those same laws mean he’s constantly abandoning the people he meets, leaving them to die. Between that and the crumbling world of his home time, it’s no wonder Griffin-Mars is rather messed up.

As a result, for much of the book, he’s rather unlikeable, too. He can’t afford to be likeable, not if he’s going to do his job and survive. He’s also got a kind of paternalistic attitude toward his love interest, Elise Kim. In some ways it makes sense — she’s a stranger to his time, and he doesn’t exactly fill her in on how much danger she’s in. Not right away, at least. The book is very aware of how Griffin-Mars is broken, and part of the story arc is his struggle to rediscover his own humanity.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the book was seeing different slices of future Earth history, and Chu’s take on how technology and society evolve over the coming centuries. I was particularly fond of the character of Grace Priestly, creator of the Time Laws. Like most everyone else in the book, she can be cold and ruthless, but I appreciated her overall “Screw you I do what I want” attitude.

There’s not a lot of humor or warm fuzzy moments. There is plenty of action, some nifty ideas, and strong bleak-but-not-quite-dystopic worldbuilding. It’s a book with a lot of desperation, and it sets up an underdog-style against-all-odds fight for survival, both for our protagonist and for our species.

You can read the first chapter on the Tor website.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Publishing 101

In the wake of Scalzi’s Big Book Deal, folks have been saying some rather ignorant or ill-informed stuff about how publishing works. I wanted to address a few of those points here.

Let’s start with the easiest, in which folks over on Theodore Beale’s blog claim that by Tor giving Scalzi a $3.4 million advance, they’re “squeezing out” approximately “523 initial advances to new science fiction authors.” In other words, Beale claims that “Patrick Nielsen Hayden and John Scalzi have combined to prevent more than 500 authors from getting published and receiving paid advances.”

Ha Ha Ha Oh wait you"re serious?

This is a particularly egregious bit of ignorance coming from Mister Beale, who fancies himself a publisher.

Publishing is a business. As a business, Tor not only spends money on things like acquiring and publishing books, they also earn money by selling said books. Assuming Scalzi shut out 500 authors assumes that Tor is simply pissing away that $3.4 million. This is a rather asinine assumption. John Scalzi has repeatedly hit the NYT Bestseller list, earned a Best Novel Hugo, and has several TV/film deals in development for his work. Tor buys books from John Scalzi for the same reason they buy books from Orson Scott Card: those books sell a hell of a lot of copies, and earn Tor significant profits.

Very often it’s those profits — the income from reliable bestsellers like Card and Scalzi — that allow publishers to take a chance on new and unknown authors.

I’d love to see more marginalized writers getting this kind of deal and publicity from publishers. But in the meantime, no, Scalzi’s 13-book deal is not hogging up 523 novel slots. He’s not book-blocking hundreds of new authors. Tor isn’t going to switch from multiple books a month to a One-Scalzi-Book-Every-Nine-Months schedule and stop publishing everyone else. Trying to pretend otherwise is an impressive tangle of ignorance, malice, and old fashioned dumbassery.

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I’ve also seen a number of people second-guessing Scalzi’s decision to sign a $3.4 million deal because they believe he would have made so much more money by self-publishing. Which…um…okay, there are a number of things to consider here.

  1. You might be right. He might have made more money self-publishing. He might not have. Ignoring all other factors, neither you nor I know for certain.
  2. $3.4 million is the advance. It’s not the sum total he’s going to earn from this deal. There are also ancillary rights such as movie and TV deals, foreign sales, audio books, etc. (Depending on the details of his contracts.) In addition, if some or all of these books earn out their advances, he’ll likely see royalty payments as well.
  3. Publishing with Tor allows him to concentrate on writing without having to invest his own time and money in typesetting, cover design, marketing, and so on.
  4. Signing this deal doesn’t mean he can’t also self-publish. Tor signed him for one book every nine months. I suspect Scalzi could squeeze out a few other projects between those books, if he felt like it. (And if he wasn’t too busy swimming in his churro-shaped pool full of money.)

Go read Scalzi’s blog post on this one, as he gets into additional thoughts and details.

The takeaway here? Self-publishing and commercial/traditional/whatever-you-want-to-call-it publishing are both legitimate, viable options, but they’re not interchangeable. You can’t assume Author A who sold 50,000 books traditionally would also sell 50,000 books if they’d self-published, or vice versa. Likewise, you can’t assume successful self-published Author B would do equally well signing with a traditional publisher.

Deciding which path to take as an author is a lot more complicated than that, and the Right Path is going to be different for every one of us depending on our strengths, goals, resources, family situation, finances, and so much more.

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This has been today’s blog post against publishing ignorance. Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

#BlameOneNotAll

Copying this from Twitter…

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Authors Reviewing Authors

Two questions for the readersphere:

  1. Do you think it’s appropriate for authors to post reviews of books/stories by other authors?
  2. Do you think it’s appropriate for authors to post negative reviews of books/stories by other authors?

Years ago, when I posted about the creepiness of one of the Xanth books, I was told I’d broken an unwritten rule by speaking badly about another author’s work. There was no substantive reason given; it was just against the rules.

Sure, fine, whatever. But I’ve been thinking about the author-as-reviewer thing a bit more lately, wondering about potential ethical pitfalls and such.

I’m pretty comfortable talking about books I’ve enjoyed and recommending them to others. That’s part of the fun of being a reader and a fan. I love posting a review and seeing commenters complain, “Dammit Jim, there goes more of my book-buying budget!”

I’ll usually try to acknowledge flaws or problems I encountered, even in positive reviews. But what about when the review is generally negative?

From a pragmatic perspective, there’s the potential for burning bridges. Will Chuck Wendig refuse to speak to me if I review his Star Wars book and complain that Jar-Jar Binks, Jedi Master made me want to burn my eyes out with a lightsaber? If I give a negative review to an author from one of my publishers, am I going to piss off my editor in the process?

At the same time, does a positive review lose value if the reviewer is unwilling to post a negative review? Do the rules still apply if it’s awards season and you’re discussing nominated works?

And finally, if a reviewer is ethically obligated to disclose any real or potential conflicts of interest, then as an author who could potentially be working with any of these publishers in the future, isn’t every review I post pretty much saturated with conflicts of interest?

I’ve got more thoughts and opinions on this, but I wanted to throw this out for discussion and see what other folks thought.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Hugo Thoughts: Graphic Story

Of the five nominees, the collection from The Zombie Nation was recommended by both the Sad and Rabid (SR) puppies. The rest of the category is puppy-free.

  • Ms. Marvel: The first page includes Kamala Khan smelling bacon and saying, “Delicious, delicious infidel meat” and someone responding, “Chow or chow not. There is no smell.” I was officially intrigued. A few pages later, we discover Kamala writes Avengers fanfic. She’s also struggling with her own identity, torn between cultures and dealing with ignorance and prejudice. She dreams about being powerful and blonde and beautiful like Ms. Marvel…and then she gets her wish. Sort of. And discovers it’s not what she imagined. This is a superhero origin story that plays off of our expectations, because Kamala has grown up in a world of superheroes. She’s an Avengers fangirl. She has to unlearn what she has learned, in order to become, in her words, “a shape-changing mask-wearing sixteen-year-old super ‘moozlim’ from Jersey City.” There’s a lot of humor, and some good depth and complexity to Kamala and her family and friends. There’s also a supervillain, of course, but that’s secondary to the story of Kamala coming of age and learning to navigate and incorporate the different parts of her identity.
  • Rat Queens: Smart-ass D&D-style all-female adventuring team with good artwork, humor, attitude, profanity, and a great cast of secondary characters to go with it. Including an orc cleric who gets bluebirds in his beard when he casts healing spells. I bought this volume last year, and I’ve got the next one on my wish list. The Rat Queens are well-written, complex characters who are utterly unapologetic about who and what they are. They’re also fiercely loyal to one another. I liked this even more when I reread it to refresh my memory for the Hugos. With both Rat Queens and Ms. Marvel, I’m sure there will be people complaining that they’re politically correct, feminist, Message Stories. Are they feminist? Sure. They’re also fun as hell. Beyond that, I’ll let Hannah respond to the haters.
    Hannah, from Rat Queens
  • Saga: I’m afraid this one didn’t work for me. Part of the problem is that this is Volume 3, and I was coming into the middle of a pretty complex and ongoing story about an ongoing, interplanetary war. The blending of science fiction and fantasy elements was fascinating, and there’s a lot of good worldbuilding, as well as some great details. I love Lying Cat, a sphynx/lynx-like creature who can sense lies, to great effect. I don’t think it’s bad, and it’s possible I’d be much more invested if I started from the beginning, but as it is, I’m afraid the story just didn’t draw me in. I’ll probably rank it above No Award, but it won’t be one of my top choices.
  • Sex Criminals: So imagine when you orgasmed, time basically just stopped for a while, and the world went all glowy and psychedelic. This isn’t something you’ll want to read at work. (Well, depending on where you work, I guess.) But it’s an interesting premise and a good story. It also addresses and challenges the rather prudish attitudes folks tend to have toward sex, starting with young Suzie’s efforts to understand what’s happening to her, and all the ways those efforts get shut down. Generally amusing and entertaining, though I didn’t feel like I just had to pick up the next volume. A middle-of-the-ballot pick for me.
  • The Zombie Nation (SR): This one wasn’t included in the Hugo Voters Packet, but the nominated work is a collection from an ongoing webcomic, available here. I clicked through some of the recent comics, then went back and read through some from the beginning. I didn’t find the gags particularly funny. The actual art isn’t bad, but I don’t see this one earning a place above No Award for me.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

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Cool Stuff Friday

Friday writes fanfiction about the other days of the week.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

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Throwback Thursday: Goblin Edition

“Throwback Thursday” has become a thing in certain circles, so I figured I’d try a TBT blog post. This is from May 19, 2005. Both of these excerpts are from Goblin Hero.

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Two excerpts today. Double your pleasure, double your fun, or something like that…

Excerpt the First:

Slash pushed him roughly to the other side of the tunnel. “See that patch?”

Jig stared. The ground was dusty rock, the same as the rest of the tunnels.

“We spread a mix of blood, rock serpent venom, and diluted honey there. The venom keeps the blood from clotting, and the honey makes it stick to whoever steps in it.” Slash licked his lips. “The tunnel-cats love the stuff. If you step inside the lair wearing that scent, they’ll be on you before you can draw your sword.”

Before Jig could say anything, Slash was yanking his arm again. “Watch out for those spikes.” Jig had to squint to see the tiny metal shards resting on the ground.

“They’re so small.”

“And they’re coated in lizard-fish toxin,” Slash said.

Oh. Jig looked at the hobgoblins with new respect. If he tried to set up such traps to protect the goblin lair, the only thing he’d accomplish was to kill off half of the goblins.

Happy Bonus Excerpt:

When the hobgoblins materialized beside him, Jig jumped so hard he knocked Smudge to the ground. “Where did they come from?” he asked as he retrieved his fallen spider.

“Author’s tweaking the storyline again,” Grell muttered. She glared at the sky. “Try writing an outline, ya damn hack!”

Zokutou Word Meter (No Longer Exists)
48,150 / 95,000
(50.0%)

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

The Flash Discussion Post

Last night was the season finale of The Flash. I’ve enjoyed this show a lot, in part for its sense of fun, its wholehearted embrace of comic book tropes, the relationship between Barry and Joe, and of course, Tom Cavanagh.

At the same time, the writing has sometimes been a bit clunky, and the overall track record with female characters is rather poor. (With that said, things improved greatly for Iris’ character in the last few episodes.)

HERE THERE BE SPOILERS

Flash Helmet

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Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

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Hugo Thoughts: Short Stories

Next on the Hugo ballot, I thought I’d look at the short fiction nominees. Four of the five stories are available online, and the fifth is included in the just-released Hugo Voters Packet.

There are no nominees who weren’t part of the puppy slates/bloc voting. As before, I’ve noted where each nominee was part of the Sad Puppies (S), Rabid Puppies (R), or both slates (SR).

  • On A Spiritual Plain” by Lou Antonelli (SR): The strong magnetic field of the planet Ymilas preserves human and Ymilan souls. The infodumping of the first three scenes felt like it needed some serious rewriting. The dialogue was also rather stiff. Our protagonist takes the first human colonist’s ghost on a pilgrimage to help him move on in the afterlife. There’s reference to the polar magnetic field looking like the eye of God, a temple built like Stonehenge “with the dimensional ratio of 1: 4: 9–the Golden Mean.” Heavy-handed (and in that last quote, factually incorrect), but a nice sense of closure at the end as our protagonist settles into his new role of guiding human souls on their final journey. Also, Antonelli introduces the idea of a Faraday Segway, which is a potentially fun idea.
  • The Parliament of Beasts and Birds” by John C. Wright (R): A tale of talking animals, Christian myth, and the end of Man, all presented in a rather stilted formal style. (The Lion greets his fellow animals with a “Twilight of Man, forsooth?”) There’s nothing in the way of action, and the plot is basically the animals trying to figure out what happened to Man’s last city, and what they should do and become now. There are a few nice lines, but it feels like Wright was trying way too hard on this, and ended up with a pale imitation of C. S. Lewis.
  • “A Single Samurai” by Steven Diamond (S): A samurai has to find a way to kill a kaiju the size of a mountain. I liked the core idea here, the lone warrior who’s less than a mite on a giant, slowly scaling the monster’s body and searching for a way to stop said monster from destroying his homeland. But it didn’t have the depth I look for in an award-worthy story. Nor did I get a real sense of the character or world. Our samurai could have been any samurai, with special swords, references to honor and duty and hara-kiri, and a contraction-averse voice to denote formality.
  • Totaled” by Kary English (SR): This was one of the most original ideas/stories on the ballot, about a researcher named Maggie, whose brain is preserved following the death of her body. We follow her “awakening” and realization that she’s in her own lab, and her efforts to communicate her awareness to her partner Randy, and to help complete their work on the bionet. Maggie’s brain is slowly giving out, and we get a kind of Flowers for Algernon decline over the course of the story. It’s better than most of what’s on the ballot this year, but I’ll have to read it again to decide whether I think it’s Hugo-worthy.
  • Turncoat” by Steve Rzasa (R): The first two sentences give a good sense of what you’re in for with this one.I am a knight riding to war. My suit of armor is a single Mark III frigate, a body of polysteel three hundred meters long with a skin of ceramic armor plating one point six meters thick.” I ended up skimming much of this story about posthuman warships moving to wipe out humanity, and Taren X 45 Delta’s choice to turn against his(?) kind to protect the humans: “Our superiority is certain. However, we are the side killing those who have surrendered and laid down their arms. Are we zealots purified by the righteousness of our cause? Or are we ungrateful children, jealous to the point of patricide?” The ending picked up a bit, but the whole thing feels overwritten, and there’s not much new here. The Message is blunt and unoriginal.

No Award will be scoring pretty high in this category. That doesn’t mean I think all of the stories are bad. (Though I don’t think they’re all good, either.) But it’s one thing for a story to be competent or interesting or fun. It’s another thing for that story to be award-worthy, for me to consider it one of the best things published in the past year. Four of these stories don’t clear that bar for me, and the fifth I’ll have to think about a little more.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

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“Do You Wanna Take The Hugos?”

To the tune of “Do you want to build a snowman?”

#

Brad
Larry?
Do you wanna take the Hugos?
Come on let’s change the game.
I’m tired of those liberals
Like criminals
Who steal our rightful fame!
This used to be our genre
But now it’s not.
They make all the puppies cry.
Do you wanna take the Hugos?
(And also puff up both our egos…)

Larry
Release the puppies!

Brad
Do you wanna take the Hugos?
And fuel our social justice hate?
I think this backlash is long overdue.
We should start talking to
Vox Day and Gamergate.
(It’s about ethics!)
We’ll rally our bloc voters
To support our slate
The day of the pups is nigh…

Brad
Larry?
Please, I’m feeling picked on.
The CHORFs are challenging our Facts.
It’s like they don’t know we’re the victims here,
Trapped by our fear of leftist mob attacks.
They’ll toss us in their gulag,
And vote No Award.
Look at my puppy tears!
Do you wanna take the Hugos?

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Publication Day: Invisible 2

Invisible 2Invisible 2 is out today!

In addition to 19 personal and powerful essays about representation in science fiction and fantasy, this also includes an introduction by award-winning author Aliette de Bodard, as well as a list of all the suggested books and stories from the comments and conversations online. Plus cover art by Mark Ferrari.

Among other things, the authors talk about the portrayal of asexuality, the intersection of different aspects of identity, the treatment of Native Americans in fiction, myths and assumptions about military life, Princess Leia as an assault survivor, the power of fiction to open your eyes to other experiences, as well as representation of disability, religion, race, and so much more.

Just like last year, Invisible 2 is available as an e-book for $2.99, and all proceeds will go to Con or Bust.

(It should eventually show up on iBooks as well, but I’m still waiting for that to happen through Smashwords.)

Reviewers are welcome to contact me for a review copy.

My thanks to everyone who contributed to this project. Compared to last year, there were far more interested authors, and we ended up with significantly more content as well, which is wonderful! I once again learned a great deal, and I’ve found myself thinking about various essays both as I’m writing, and as I’m reading other stories and books.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

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