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posted by LaminatorX on Monday April 13 2015, @11:30AM   Printer-friendly
from the Livejournal-still-works dept.

From the The Guardian.

Introducing the Sad Puppies...

"The shortlists for the long-running American genre awards, won in the past by names from Kurt Vonnegut to Ursula K Le Guin and voted for by fans, were announced this weekend to uproar in the science fiction community, after it emerged that the line-up corresponded closely with the slates of titles backed by certain conservative writers. The self-styled "Sad Puppies" campaigners had set out to combat what orchestrator and writer Brad Torgersen had criticised as the Hugos' tendency to reward "literary" and "ideological" works.

Today's Hugos, Torgersen has blogged, "have lost cachet, because at the same time SF/F has exploded popularly – with larger-than-life, exciting, entertaining franchises and products – the voting body of 'fandom' have tended to go in the opposite direction: niche, academic, overtly to the Left in ideology and flavor, and ultimately lacking what might best be called visceral, gut-level, swashbuckling fun".

Twenty years ago, he writes, "if you saw a lovely spaceship on a book cover, with a gorgeous planet in the background, you could be pretty sure you were going to get a rousing space adventure featuring starships and distant, amazing worlds". Nowadays, he claims, the same jacket is likely to be a story "merely about racial prejudice and exploitation, with interplanetary or interstellar trappings".

And here we have the Rabid Puppies definitely not mentioning GamerGate:

Another group of allied rightwing campaigners, dubbing themselves the Rabid Puppies and led by Vox Day, real name Theodore Beale, have also added their voices to the block-voting campaign against what Day called "the left-wing control freaks who have subjected science fiction to ideological control for two decades and are now attempting to do the same thing in the game industry".

And finally a bit of Martin:

"Call it block voting. Call it ballot stuffing. Call it gaming the system. There's truth to all of those characterisations. You can't call it cheating, though. It was all within the rules. But many things can be legal, and still bad ... and this is one of those, from where I sit. I think the Sad Puppies have broken the Hugo awards, and I am not sure they can ever be repaired," he wrote.

"If the Sad Puppies wanted to start their own award ... for Best Conservative SF, or Best Space Opera, or Best Military SF, or Best Old-Fashioned SF the Way It Used to Be ... whatever it is they are actually looking for ... hey, I don't think anyone would have any objections to that. I certainly wouldn't. More power to them," he added. "But that's not what they are doing here, it seems to me. Instead they seem to want to take the Hugos and turn them into their own awards."

 
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  • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Monday April 13 2015, @02:08PM

    by Phoenix666 (552) on Monday April 13 2015, @02:08PM (#169715) Journal

    I have found that I have lost the taste for SF over the last couple of decades. Once I read every scrap I could get my hands on, including everything Heinlein and others ever wrote. Then, when this topic came up on Slashdot two cycles ago I read "Canticle for Leibowitz" on some strong recommendations. It was mildly interesting, but that was it. When the topic came up on SN one cycle ago I tried to read "Aristoi" on another strong recommendation; it was clearly ornate, well-written, and well-thought out, but I couldn't get past the second chapter.

    Somewhere along the line I became jaded, a grumpy old man, or SF itself changed. Are there any older Soylentils out there who can recommend a series or author they still find engaging?

    --
    Washington DC delenda est.
    Starting Score:    1  point
    Karma-Bonus Modifier   +1  

    Total Score:   2  
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 13 2015, @02:19PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 13 2015, @02:19PM (#169719)

    I bet you don't listen to new music the way you did as a kid either.
    So yeah, grumpy old man.

  • (Score: 2) by Vanderhoth on Monday April 13 2015, @02:42PM

    by Vanderhoth (61) on Monday April 13 2015, @02:42PM (#169729)

    I'm in the same boat. I stopped reading SF a couple years ago. I wonder now if I was ever really into it.

    Last thing I read was "Enders Game", long before the movie was made, and was blown away by the first book, but very disappointed in the books that followed in that series.

    --
    "Now we know", "And knowing is half the battle". -G.I. Joooooe
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 13 2015, @02:47PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 13 2015, @02:47PM (#169732)

      Soooo very unsurprised by your reaction to those books.

      Manifestation of "Left in ideology and flavor, and ultimately lacking what might best be called visceral, gut-level, swashbuckling fun"

      • (Score: 2) by Vanderhoth on Monday April 13 2015, @03:31PM

        by Vanderhoth (61) on Monday April 13 2015, @03:31PM (#169757)

        True that.

        --
        "Now we know", "And knowing is half the battle". -G.I. Joooooe
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 13 2015, @04:41PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 13 2015, @04:41PM (#169815)

        ... I suppose you can't remain 13 forever.

    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by SubiculumHammer on Monday April 13 2015, @06:16PM

      by SubiculumHammer (5191) on Monday April 13 2015, @06:16PM (#169894)

      The problem with most books and movies is that I recognize the tropes, but more than just the tropes, I recognize the devices, I recognize the characters, the roles, the rules, the plays, the turn-arounds, I get the overtures, the currents, the trip-tropped funky-dillows. I am jaded because rarely do I read something new, something that makes me wonder at the possibilities. Maybe fiction is exhausted, just like music now wallows in its own tropes unable to innovate, because innovation requires something that can be new, but there is nothing new on the dust of this planet.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Vanderhoth on Monday April 13 2015, @06:26PM

        by Vanderhoth (61) on Monday April 13 2015, @06:26PM (#169900)

        You know, to me you sound like exactly the type of person that should write your own novel. You're well versed enough to know the genera and you recognize all the common pitfalls. You could probably write something others would really gobble up.

        All you need is a PC and a word processor to get started. Write some short stories.

        I really enjoy occasionally reading http://soylentnews.org/~mcgrew/ [soylentnews.org]

        --
        "Now we know", "And knowing is half the battle". -G.I. Joooooe
        • (Score: 2) by GeminiDomino on Monday April 13 2015, @08:49PM

          by GeminiDomino (661) on Monday April 13 2015, @08:49PM (#169981)

          I thought that about myself once. I don't know about GP, but I never got any further than the plotting because I always caught myself mixing the same old tropes that I'm so tired of. It made me feel like a hack.

          --
          "We've been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of our culture"
          • (Score: 2) by Vanderhoth on Monday April 13 2015, @09:01PM

            by Vanderhoth (61) on Monday April 13 2015, @09:01PM (#169989)

            Humans have been creating art and stories for tens of thousands of years. I highly doubt there isn't anything that can't be boiled down to belonging to a "trope" of some kind. I think it's stupid. "Oh, we can't have a princess get kidnapped, that's a damsel in distress trope!", Yeah so what? It doesn't matter that that's a tired plot device as long as you can do something interesting with it. I really hate it when people strip away all of the interesting points in a story, the journey that takes place, the character development, the source of conflict and the resolution and pull out the one thing that makes the story "bad" because it's been used by other people to push their stories.

            Things become tropes for a reason, if works. There's no sense listening to the people that get butthurt over it, they're not good enough to do any better so they spend all their time criticising how badly everyone else is doing it instead.

            If you have a story to write, even if it's only for your own amusement, do it. I would, but I have my hands full writing a game (others who aren't programmers are doing the story) and making wooden clocks when I'm not at work.

            --
            "Now we know", "And knowing is half the battle". -G.I. Joooooe
            • (Score: 3, Touché) by GeminiDomino on Tuesday April 14 2015, @01:53AM

              by GeminiDomino (661) on Tuesday April 14 2015, @01:53AM (#170149)

              Oh, the last things I'm worried about is offending people. My concern over tropes has nothing to do with them being "Vs. Women", just that, as you've said, there's been so many stories written that every trope has been done to death, played with to death, inverted to death, and lampshaded to death: nothing I try to do with them feels "interesting."

              On the bright side, at least I'm avoiding Dunning-Kruger.

              --
              "We've been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of our culture"
        • (Score: 2, Insightful) by SubiculumHammer on Monday April 13 2015, @11:52PM

          by SubiculumHammer (5191) on Monday April 13 2015, @11:52PM (#170086)

          Ha! If only I had time away from my research.

          The few short-stories I've written with any hope of being good have been deeply personal confessionals about regrets, sins, and quandaries...but my life has been very lovely after meeting my wife.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 13 2015, @06:35PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 13 2015, @06:35PM (#169906)
      soft SF:
      Walter Tevis' Mockingbird [wikipedia.org] - 1981 Hugo nominee Miéville [wikipedia.org] has written interesting stuff; I liked embassytown and the city & the city.

      hard SF:
      Cixin's Three Body Problem [wikipedia.org]

      fantasy:
      anything by Jo Walton [wikipedia.org], particularly Among Others [wikipedia.org] which was 2012 Hugo winner, has hundreds of recommendations of good SF/fantasy inside the story itself.

      I tried re-reading Foundation about ten years ago (which I loved as a kid) and was astonished how badly written it is. Standards change as we get older...
    • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Tuesday April 14 2015, @03:26AM

      by Reziac (2489) on Tuesday April 14 2015, @03:26AM (#170186) Homepage

      It's not that I've stopped reading it (tho I don't do nearly as much reading as I used to... since I started writing myself, the editor in my head won't shut up) but that almost every time I read SF/F from the past 15 years or so, I feel an overwhelming urge to wash my brain out with SF/F from the 1980s. It's not because of the tiresome messagefic thing (that tends to just turn me off a given author, not other SF/F), it's the *sameness*. The lack of that feeling of seeing something new and wonderful (or terrifying). The lack of distinct voices and distinct characters and distinct worlds. The feeling like these younger authors are reinventing the wheel (and not getting it quite round) because of insufficient grounding in the genre's classics (whether they like 'em or not, they need to be aware of 'em).

      I say this with probably 12,000+ SF/F books under my belt, from the earliest days onward, so I think I'm basing this on a tolerably broad spectrum.

  • (Score: 2) by Snotnose on Monday April 13 2015, @05:33PM

    by Snotnose (1623) on Monday April 13 2015, @05:33PM (#169857)

    Try some Alistar Reynolds. He's got a series that posits FTL can't be done, but they can push ships to a good percentage of c and hibernate. Society has developed trading routes around the Milky Way, every few thousand years they have meetups at pre-arranged locations. It's assumed that once someone misses a meeting they're never seen again. Not because they're dead but, because of both relativistic effects and travel time of hundreds/thousands of years they'll never sync up with their buds again.

    --
    I hate when I put something off to tomorrow, and tomorrow arrives.
  • (Score: 2) by curunir_wolf on Monday April 13 2015, @06:10PM

    by curunir_wolf (4772) on Monday April 13 2015, @06:10PM (#169890)
    Charles Stross and Peter F. Hamilton have (and still are) putting out some great stuff. If you like fanciful space-opera type stuff, check out The Reality Dysfunction (and its sequels). Very engaging.
    --
    I am a crackpot
    • (Score: 2) by TheRaven on Tuesday April 14 2015, @10:56AM

      by TheRaven (270) on Tuesday April 14 2015, @10:56AM (#170322) Journal
      I wouldn't recommend Reality Disfunction as anyone's first Peter F. Hamilton series. It's very long and then the ending is quite unsatisfying. The Commonwealth series is a much better first entry (though Fallen Dragon has the advantage of being a nice stand-alone book, as does The Great North Road and both are engaging). Don't read Misspent Youth (it's utter crap that he should never have published), but Pandora's Star is a good place to start.
      --
      sudo mod me up
      • (Score: 2) by fritsd on Tuesday April 14 2015, @11:57AM

        by fritsd (4586) on Tuesday April 14 2015, @11:57AM (#170344) Journal

        It's very long and then the ending is quite unsatisfying

        That's an understatement :-)

        For sale: Peter F. Hamilton's "The Naked God", some pages may be missing, only read once, only thrown against the wall in disgust once.

        He does give new meaning to the words "Deus Ex Machina", I grant him that. Fucking hell...

        • (Score: 2) by TheRaven on Tuesday April 14 2015, @04:14PM

          by TheRaven (270) on Tuesday April 14 2015, @04:14PM (#170437) Journal
          I had a similar reaction. The second time I read it, I didn't dislike the ending as much, but it really needed a follow-up story. I wouldn't have minded quite so much if the story had gone on for a bit, or even been continued in a couple of 'n hundred years later' short stories. Unfortunately, by the middle of the Neutronium Alchemist, I don't think there was a way of ending it in a satisfying way.
          --
          sudo mod me up
      • (Score: 2) by curunir_wolf on Thursday April 16 2015, @12:04AM

        by curunir_wolf (4772) on Thursday April 16 2015, @12:04AM (#171249)

        Good points all. Especially Pandora's Star as a start. Forgot about that - excellent choice.

        --
        I am a crackpot
  • (Score: 3, Informative) by jdccdevel on Monday April 13 2015, @06:38PM

    by jdccdevel (1329) on Monday April 13 2015, @06:38PM (#169908) Journal

    I'm not sure what sort of S/F you're interested in. Some people like the "Hard Sci-Fi", and others like more of a crossover between "Sci-Fi and Fantasy". A LOT of the Sci-Fi out there now is very much Military Sci-Fi which, if it isn't your thing, can be off-putting.

    My wife and I mostly read Fantasy, but I have read some interesting Sci-Fi lately, most of the more recent stuff has at least some military overtones though, and I can only take so much of that at a time.

    Earthweb [baenebooks.com] by Marc Stiegler is a standalone book, but a really, really good read with some interesting near-future looks at technology. (If you can find a copy. It used to be on the Baen Free Library, but disappeared at some point.) If you like the sample chapters, I have the ebook.

    Freehold [baenebooks.com], The Weapon, and Rogue by Michael Z Williamson [michaelzwilliamson.com] are very entertaining, without being too stereotypical. Some of his other stuff is very, very military though, and he doesn't hide his politics.

    With the Lightnings [baenebooks.com], and the rest of the "RCN" Series by David Drake was really engaging. Very much "High seas adventure in space" sort of stuff, older now but not dated at all.

    (I read a lot of Baen, thanks to devouring their free library when I had less disposable income to feed my book habit.)

    If you want to try branching out to Fantasy, you might find that worthwhile, and I would have tons of recommendations there depending on what you're into. (A lot of people I know have migrated to fantasy because newer Sci-Fi has become so militaristic.)

  • (Score: 2) by fritsd on Monday April 13 2015, @09:01PM

    by fritsd (4586) on Monday April 13 2015, @09:01PM (#169988) Journal

    If you don't like Canticle, Phoenix666, then I label you a "difficult customer" :-)

    I dunno.. I read far less in the last decade. I liked Charles Stross (Accelerando, Halting State), Vernor Vinge (Rainbows End, A Fire Upon the Deep, A Deepness in the Sky). Plus lots from Iain (M.) Banks. That's about it, really.

    Have you ever tried to read Samuel R. Delaney's Triton? (Difficult to read! (well, for me anyways)) or Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow? (Not SF, and very difficult to read!!!). I mention these because you're difficult, so maybe you like difficult books :-)

    In the category "Fantasy": maybe Robert Holdstock's sequel to "Mythago Wood", "Lavondyss", or Terry Pratchett's "The Fifth Elephant" (It's the only Discworld book that I still feel like I don't understand it well)

    In the category Non-Fiction, subcategory "OMG we're all gonna die": John Michael Greer's "The Long Descent: A User's Guide to the End of the Industrial Age". Buy it on real paper, just in case ;-). An incredibly uplifting and motivating book, and it shows the writer understands fairy-tales. And add to that Jared Diamond's Collapse maybe (don't read if you're depressive).

    In the category "Literature", try a translation of Harry Mulisch's "De Aanslag": "The Assault", or watch the film it's not half bad either.

    In the category "Now for something completely different", go watch the Russian Masha i Medved children's cartoon films on youtube. You don't need to understand Russian to understand the Bear's grunts.

    Please respond one day if any of these were of interest to you. I'm a grumpyoldman-in-training, so keeping grumpy old men entertained is important to my own future well-being.

    • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Monday April 13 2015, @09:43PM

      by Phoenix666 (552) on Monday April 13 2015, @09:43PM (#170018) Journal

      No, I haven't encountered those before, so thanks for the recommendations (and thanks to the other Soylentils who recommended books & authors). I will check them out. I may be a difficult customer, I don't know; the last series I enjoyed were Kim Stanley Robinson's [Red | Green | Blue] Mars books, and Neal Stephenson's books, but even he started to lose me in the Baroque Cycle. Casting further back standouts for me were David Brin's Startide Rising and Frank Herbert's Dune books.

      Of course when I was younger I read and enjoyed piles of SF that basically boiled down to "What if?" scenarios, because I didn't have a lot of life experience under my belt and none of the university education about the systems of thought that underlie literature. Now that I've had those things and have had access to various corridors of celebrity and power, too, that sort of story doesn't hold my attention any more. Even the richly imagined universe-approach, while I can respect it as an intellectual endeavor and artistic achievement, loses me because it seems to lack deeper meaning.

      I know English and Literature geeks would probably urge me to read Brothers Karamazov or Madame Bovary or something, but the minutiae of 18th century French society or the inner workings of feudal Russian serfdom are dull & dreary. It calls to mind the experience of slogging through the entire Iliad for that one scene where Hector bids farewell to his wife and son on the Walls of Troy. Great scene, very human moment, but *shudder*, the rest is so tedious and pointless...

      --
      Washington DC delenda est.
      • (Score: 1) by JamestheWanderer on Tuesday April 14 2015, @03:23AM

        by JamestheWanderer (5206) on Tuesday April 14 2015, @03:23AM (#170183)

        You might also want to take a look at William Gibson [Idoru, All Tomorrow's Parties] and John Ringo / Linda Evans [The Road to Damascus]. Have your read C.J. Cherryh's [Foreigner] series? Culture clash on a vast scale.

      • (Score: 2) by fritsd on Tuesday April 14 2015, @09:38AM

        by fritsd (4586) on Tuesday April 14 2015, @09:38AM (#170300) Journal

        I'll keep Kim Stanley Robinson in mind, I've heard that before. Brothers Karamazov is the only book that *literally* bored me to tears. I exclaimed: "how many more pages are they going to be blabbering on about that dead priest?!?". 75 IIRC. Different times, I guess.

        20th century Russians are OK, I've tried (in translation) Aleksander Solzhenitsyn(sp?) (boring, sorry) and Anatoli Rybakov. But it's all quite .. plodding .. compared to the 6 minutes of pure joy of every Masha i Medved episode (suitable for children, except the episodes with the jam jar which they shouldn't emulate).

        Gravity's Rainbow is from the 1950s IIRC and difficult to get into. But I've not often read a stranger book than that, which is an experience in itself.