Friday, April 25, 2014

Review: “Wakulla Springs” by Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages

2014 Best Novella nominee: “Wakulla Springs” by Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages (Tor.com, 10-2013).

It is currently FREE in the Kindle store on Amazon.

It is also available for free at the Tor website.

Thoughts, with spoilers, behind the link below [**edited to add a little more 4/26**]:

Link - FREE Hugo Nominated Works for 2014 Hugos and 1939 Retro Hugos!

Ooo! SF Signal is updating their Hugo nominees page with links to free versions of the nominated works as they come available! Quite a few already! This is VERY helpful - there's no waiting for the voter's packet to get started this year. Too much to read!

http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2014/04/finalists-2014-hugo-award-1939-retro-hugos-with-free-fiction-links/

Thank you, Picking Up the Pen, for pointing me there!

Review: “The Chaplain's Legacy” by Brad Torgersen

2014 Best Novella nominee: “The Chaplain's Legacy” by Brad Torgersen, published in Analog, Jul-Aug 2013.

If I wait for the voter's packet to come out, I will never be able to get through everything I want to read. I bought the back-issue of Analog through the Newsstand on my iPad. Bonus! I'll get a lot of other stories, too, for my couple of dollars.

Note: I didn't see the controversy involving the person who was kicked out of the SFWA last year until I was mostly through with this novella. So I know my take on this novella isn't colored by that controversy. I'm going to try not to let it affect my reading of the other works on that list either.

I'm always uncomfortable making public posts about works of fiction that I didn't like. No, I know I could not do better myself. I have a lot of respect for all of the work and heart and imagination that goes into every one of these stories. I know some people love the stories I don't like, and I mean no disrespect to them or the authors. The genre would be seriously boring if we all liked exactly the same things.

In fact, I hope to hear from you if you love the things I don't like, and if you don't like the things I love. One of the best book club experiences I've ever had was a science fiction book club in Midland, TX. My tastes completely clashed with the other folks in the book club. Yes, it was really uncomfortable at first. They went on at great length about how horrible this or that favorite book of mine was, and couldn't understand how anybody could possibly like it. Books that I thought were really really horrible with completely flat characters and really bad science seemed to hit their sweet spot and they'd go on at great length about the wonderfulness of those books. Then came the day when I realized I should probably start picking up "bad" books they ranted about. I found some books that I really loved, that I might not have picked up otherwise! :)

But I digress.

Spoilers below, which is hopefully showing behind a link. Please let me know if it shows up differently for you!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson: Review and Discussion of Hugo Eligibility

The entire Wheel of Time series is nominated in the category "Best Novel" for the 2014 Hugo Awards. All 14 books.

Tor will make the ENTIRE series available to all members of LonCon 3 in this year's voter packet. All 14 books!

My thoughts on the series aren't particularly spoilery, any more than any of the other thousand people discussing this nomination, so I'm not going to put it behind a cut.

The nomination of this series is causing a lot of controversy. It's extremely long. Much too long for most Hugo voters to read between now and July 31, especially if they want to be able to read any of the other nominated materials at all. This calls into question whether it's fair to include it in the same category with single novels.

It is eligible under the WSFS constitution:
3.2.6: Works appearing in a series are eligible as individual works, but the series as a 
whole is not eligible. However, a work appearing in a number of parts shall be eligible 
for the year of the final part. 
Assuming you consider it a single work appearing in a number of parts, it is eligible. There is debate over whether it really is a single work appearing in a number of parts. Most people who have read the entire series of books agree that it is a single story broken up into multiple parts. The individual books do not really work as stand-alone novels. Someone claiming to be the author of the wording of this section of the WSFS constitution says that they agree with this interpretation of the rules in the case of The Wheel of Time (see comment number 7 of this Tor post).

Others, of course, disagree with, part, or all, of the above. Usually all, from what I've been reading.

Even if it is eligible under the rules, it's sooooo long! So long that it effectively breaks the Hugo award voting process for the category of Best Novel. I've seen a number of people say they may not vote in this category at all this year because they will not be able to read all of the entries in their entirety, and feel that they won't be able to cast a fair vote. This is a serious problem.

But, here we are. It's on the ballot.

I'll repeat what I've said elsewhere.

For those who feel that the Wheel of Time is a body of work that deserves recognition, but also feel that it doesn't make sense or is unfair for it to compete against single-volume novels for the Best Novel award: perhaps you might consider starting a petition to the Hugo award folks, requesting that it be given some other kind of recognition, and that it be removed from this category. If you want to be sure that something like this can't happen again, get involved with the WSFS Business Meetings at the next WorldCon. Get the rules changed. These are OUR awards. If the rules aren't working for us, let's change them.


For those who argue that The Wheel of Time is not a good work of fiction and doesn't deserve recognition, then your best course of action would be: Don't Vote For It! Maybe be vocal and campaign for the novel(s) you think should win instead.

This series was on my nomination form. It was one of many things on my form that I did not realistically expect to see on the shortlist of nominees. I nominated it because, while it is unquestionably flawed in a number of ways, I believe it is an important and impressive body of work that deserves recognition. My hope was that the folks who put the final shortlist together would interpret 3.2.6 differently, would remove this work from the Best Novel category, and would find another way to recognize it. Some kind of life achievement award for Robert Jordan. Something. It's on the ballot now, though. So here we go.

As I said, I know this massive fantasy story has many flaws. Some of them aggravated me quite a bit by the time I reached the end of the series. Even with its flaws, I loved this series of books. I loved the characters. I loved the world. I loved to lose myself in the circularity and let my mind bounce around the Wheel, playing with the past, present, future legends, myths, realities. When I read the final Introductory Paragraph of the final novel, I wept, because I knew there would never be more to this story, with Robert Jordan gone. You know, the paragraph that begins every book:
The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again. In one Age, called the Third Age by some, an Age yet to come, an Age long past, a wind rose in the [...]. The wind was not the beginning. There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning.
When you spend that many years, that much thought and imagination, on a series, you really come to love it like a friend.

I wasn't completely happy with the ending. A few things didn't resolve like I wanted them to, and one big thing that I expected at the end wasn't there. But mostly, it was as it should be.

Much as I loved the series, I do not yet know where I will rank it on my final ballot. I'm going to read all of the other nominees and will decide. I'm actually really hoping that I love at least one of the other nominees as much as I loved the Wheel of Time. That's why I'm doing this. I want to discover more sci fi to fall in love with!

Here's hoping I'll have a Very Difficult Decision in the Best Novel category!

Up or down ballot (note for myself): UP, with moderate reservations.

1939 Retro Hugo Nominees

The 1939 Retro Hugo Nominees were also announced on April 19!

BEST NOVEL (208 ballots)
  • Carson of Venus by Edgar Rice Burroughs (Argosy, February 1938)
  • Galactic Patrol by E. E. Smith (Astounding Stories, February 1938)
  • The Legion of Time by Jack Williamson (Astounding Science-Fiction, July 1938)
  • Out of the Silent Planet by C. S. Lewis (The Bodley Head)
  • The Sword in the Stone by T. H. White (Collins)
BEST NOVELLA (125 ballots)
  • Anthem by Ayn Rand (Cassell)
  • “A Matter of Form” by H. L. Gold (Astounding Science-Fiction, December 1938)
  • “Sleepers of Mars” by John Beynon [John Wyndham] (Tales of Wonder, March 1938)
  • “The Time Trap” by Henry Kuttner (Marvel Science Stories, November 1938)
  • “Who Goes There?” by Don A Stuart [John W. Campbell] (Astounding Science-Fiction, August 1938)
BEST NOVELETTE (80 ballots)
  • “Dead Knowledge” by Don A. Stuart [John W. Campbell] (Astounding Stories, January 1938)
  • “Hollywood on the Moon” by Henry Kuttner (Thrilling Wonder Stories, April 1938)
  • “Pigeons From Hell” by Robert E. Howard (Weird Tales, May 1938)
  • “Rule 18” by Clifford D. Simak (Astounding Science-Fiction, July 1938)
  • “Werewoman” by C. L. Moore (Leaves #2, Winter 1938)
BEST SHORT STORY (108 ballots)
  • “The Faithful” by Lester del Rey (Astounding Science-Fiction, April 1938)
  • “Helen O’Loy” by Lester del Rey (Astounding Science-Fiction, December 1938)
  • “Hollerbochen’s Dilemma” by Ray Bradbury (Imagination!, January 1938)
  • “How We Went to Mars” by Arthur C. Clarke (Amateur Science Stories, March 1938)
  • “Hyperpilosity” by L. Sprague de Camp (Astounding Science-Fiction, April 1938)
BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION (SHORT FORM) (137 ballots)
  • Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne. Written & directed by Orson Welles (The Mercury Theater on the Air, CBS)
  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Written & directed by Orson Welles (The Campbell Playhouse, CBS)
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker. Written by Orson Welles and John Houseman, directed by Orson Welles (The Mercury Theater on the Air, CBS)
  • R. U. R. by Karel Čapek. Produced by Jan Bussell (BBC)
  • The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells. Written by Howard Koch & Anne Froelick, directed by Orson Welles (The Mercury Theater on the Air, CBS)
BEST EDITOR - SHORT FORM (99 ballots)
  • John W. Campbell
  • Walter H. Gillings
  • Raymond A. Palmer
  • Mort Weisinger
  • Farnsworth Wright
BEST PROFESSIONAL ARTIST (86 ballots)
  • Margaret Brundage
  • Virgil Finlay
  • Frank R. Paul
  • Alex Schomburg
  • H. W. Wesso
BEST FANZINE (42 ballots)
  • Fantascience Digest edited by Robert A. Madle
  • Fantasy News edited by James V. Taurasi
  • Imagination! edited by Forrest J Ackerman, Morojo, and T. Bruce Yerke
  • Novae Terrae edited by Maurice K. Hanson
  • Tomorrow edited by Douglas W. F. Mayer
BEST FAN WRITER (50 ballots)
  • Forrest J Ackerman
  • Ray Bradbury
  • Arthur Wilson “Bob” Tucker
  • Harry Warner, Jr.
  • Donald A. Wollheim
I didn't nominate on this ballot - my knowledge of this year's sf/f isn't good enough. I'm excited to read these! I hope the publishers allow a lot of these materials to go into our reading packets.

2014 Hugo Award Nominees

The 2014 Hugo Award Nominees were announced on Saturday, April 19:

BEST NOVEL (1595 ballots)
  • Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (Orbit US / Orbit UK)
  • Neptune's Brood by Charles Stross (Ace / Orbit UK)
  • Parasite by Mira Grant (Orbit US / Orbit UK)
  • Warbound, Book III of the Grimnoir Chronicles by Larry Correia (Baen Books)
  • The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (Tor Books / Orbit UK)
BEST NOVELLA (847 ballots)
  • The Butcher of Khardov by Dan Wells (Privateer Press)
  • “The Chaplain's Legacy” by Brad Torgersen (Analog, Jul-Aug 2013)
  • “Equoid” by Charles Stross (Tor.com, 09-2013)
  • Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne M. Valente (Subterranean Press)
  • “Wakulla Springs” by Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages (Tor.com, 10-2013)
BEST NOVELETTE (728 ballots)
  • “The Exchange Officers” by Brad Torgersen (Analog, Jan-Feb 2013)
  • “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal (maryrobinettekowal.com / Tor.com, 09-2013)
  • “Opera Vita Aeterna” by Vox Day (The Last Witchking, Marcher Lord Hinterlands)
  • “The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling” by Ted Chiang (Subterranean, Fall 2013)
  • “The Waiting Stars” by Aliette de Bodard (The Other Half of the Sky, Candlemark & Gleam)
BEST SHORT STORY (865 ballots)
  • “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” by Rachel Swirsky (Apex Magazine, Mar-2013)
  • “The Ink Readers of Doi Saket” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Tor.com, 04-2013)
  • “Selkie Stories Are for Losers” by Sofia Samatar (Strange Horizons, Jan-2013)
  • “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu (Tor.com, 02-2013)
Note: category has 4 nominees due to a 5% requirement under Section 3.8.5 of the WSFS constitution.
BEST RELATED WORK (752 ballots)
  • Queers Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the LGBTQ Fans Who Love It Edited by Sigrid Ellis & Michael Damian Thomas (Mad Norwegian Press)
  • Speculative Fiction 2012: The Best Online Reviews, Essays and Commentary by Justin Landon & Jared Shurin (Jurassic London)
  • “We Have Always Fought: Challenging the Women, Cattle and Slaves Narrative” by Kameron Hurley (A Dribble of Ink)
  • Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff VanderMeer, with Jeremy Zerfoss (Abrams Image)
  • Writing Excuses Season 8 by Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler, and Jordan Sanderson
BEST GRAPHIC STORY (552 ballots)
  • Girl Genius, Volume 13: Agatha Heterodyne & The Sleeping City written by Phil and Kaja Foglio; art by Phil Foglio; colors by Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)
  • "The Girl Who Loved Doctor Who" written by Paul Cornell, illustrated by Jimmy Broxton (Doctor Who Special 2013, IDW)
  • The Meathouse Man adapted from the story by George R.R. Martin and illustrated by Raya Golden (Jet City Comics)
  • Saga, Volume 2 written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples (Image Comics )
  • “Time” by Randall Munroe (XKCD)
BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION (LONG FORM) (995 ballots)
  • Frozen screenplay by Jennifer Lee, directed by Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee (Walt Disney Studios)
  • Gravity written by Alfonso Cuarón & Jonás Cuarón, directed by Alfonso Cuarón (Esperanto Filmoj; Heyday Films; Warner Bros.)
  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire screenplay by Simon Beaufoy & Michael Arndt, directed by Francis Lawrence (Color Force; Lionsgate)
  • Iron Man 3 screenplay by Drew Pearce & Shane Black, directed by Shane Black (Marvel Studios; DMG Entertainment; Paramount Pictures)
  • Pacific Rim screenplay by Travis Beacham & Guillermo del Toro, directed by Guillermo del Toro (Legendary Pictures, Warner Bros., Disney Double Dare You)
BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION (SHORT FORM) (760 ballots)
  • An Adventure in Space and Time written by Mark Gatiss, directed by Terry McDonough (BBC Television)
  • Doctor Who: “The Day of the Doctor” written by Steven Moffat, directed by Nick Hurran (BBC Television)
  • Doctor Who: “The Name of the Doctor” written by Steven Moffat, directed by Saul Metzstein (BBC Televison)
  • The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot written & directed by Peter Davison (BBC Television)
  • Game of Thrones: “The Rains of Castamere” written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, directed by David Nutter (HBO Entertainment in association with Bighead, Littlehead; Television 360; Startling Television and Generator Productions)
  • Orphan Black: “Variations under Domestication” written by Will Pascoe, directed by John Fawcett (Temple Street Productions; Space / BBC America)
Note: category has 6 nominees due to a tie for 5th place.
BEST EDITOR - SHORT FORM (656 ballots)
  • John Joseph Adams
  • Neil Clarke
  • Ellen Datlow
  • Jonathan Strahan
  • Sheila Williams
BEST EDITOR - LONG FORM (632 ballots)
  • Ginjer Buchanan
  • Sheila Gilbert
  • Liz Gorinsky
  • Lee Harris
  • Toni Weisskopf
BEST PROFESSIONAL ARTIST (624 ballots)
  • Galen Dara
  • Julie Dillon
  • Daniel Dos Santos
  • John Harris
  • John Picacio
  • Fiona Staples
Note: category has 6 nominees due to a tie for 5th place.
BEST SEMIPROZINE (411 ballots)
  • Apex Magazine edited by Lynne M. Thomas, Jason Sizemore, and Michael Damian Thomas
  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies edited by Scott H. Andrews
  • Interzone edited by Andy Cox
  • Lightspeed Magazine edited by John Joseph Adams, Rich Horton, and Stefan Rudnicki
  • Strange Horizons edited by Niall Harrison, Brit Mandelo, An Owomoyela, Julia Rios, Sonya Taaffe, Abigail Nussbaum, Rebecca Cross, Anaea Lay, and Shane Gavin
BEST FANZINE (478 ballots)
  • The Book Smugglers edited by Ana Grilo and Thea James
  • A Dribble of Ink edited by Aidan Moher
  • Elitist Book Reviews edited by Steven Diamond
  • Journey Planet edited by James Bacon, Christopher J. Garcia, Lynda E. Rucker, Pete Young, Colin Harris, and Helen J. Montgomery
  • Pornokitsch edited by Anne C. Perry and Jared Shurin
BEST FANCAST (396 ballots)
  • The Coode Street Podcast Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe
  • Galactic Suburbia Podcast Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts (Presenters) and Andrew Finch (Producer)
  • SF Signal Podcast Patrick Hester
  • The Skiffy and Fanty Show Shaun Duke, Jen Zink, Julia Rios, Paul Weimer, David Annandale, Mike Underwood, and Stina Leicht
  • Tea and Jeopardy Emma Newman
  • Verity! Deborah Stanish, Erika Ensign, Katrina Griffiths, L.M. Myles, Lynne M. Thomas, and Tansy Rayner Roberts
  • The Writer and the Critic Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond
Note: category has 7 nominees due to a tie for 5th place.
BEST FAN WRITER (521 ballots)
  • Liz Bourke
  • Kameron Hurley
  • Foz Meadows
  • Abigail Nussbaum
  • Mark Oshiro
BEST FAN ARTIST (316 ballots)
  • Brad W. Foster
  • Mandie Manzano
  • Spring Schoenhuth
  • Steve Stiles
  • Sarah Webb
JOHN W. CAMPBELL AWARD FOR BEST NEW WRITER (767 ballots)
Award for the best new professional science fiction or fantasy writer of 2012 or 2013, sponsored by Dell Magazines (not a Hugo Award).
  • Wesley Chu
  • Max Gladstone *
  • Ramez Naam *
  • Sofia Samatar *
  • Benjanun Sriduangkaew
*Finalists in their 2nd year of eligibility.

Most of the things I nominated, I really didn't expect to see on the final short list of nominees. I was surprised that the Wheel of Time series made it on there - that was one of my nominees I was sure wouldn't make it.

Go go go!! Lots of reading to do!

(Mention number 1 of 21345): I really wish I could go to LonCon 3 this year!

Thoughts on WSFS online

I'm new to the World Science Fiction Society (WSFS).

I've been following the Hugo awards for decades. The Hugo awards have introduced me to some of my favorite authors over the years. I've been maintaining lists of the Hugo award winning novels on Amazon (broken into two guides, before 2000 and 2000 through present because of the way Amazon guides are made). I also recently added similar guides for Hugo award winning films (before 2000, and 2000 through present).

I've wanted to buy into the World Science Fiction Society for a long time, and only just last year finally felt that I had the means to do it. Last year was my first read-through and vote on the Hugos, and my first WorldCon. I've been to a number of media and gaming cons over the last few years, but WorldCon was my first literary con. I AM HOOKED. This is my kind of con. Loads of interesting people whose interests are similar to mine. Many of my favorite authors. Kaffeeklatsches with two of my favorite authors! Scientists and NASA folks letting us pick their brains. So many kinds of awesome. I'll be going to as many WorldCons as I can, from here on out. Which won't be many for at least the next few years, but that will just make the ones I can attend sweeter.

And that's on top of the voter's packet that comes with the supporting membership. Most of the nominated materials in e-book form, included in the cost of membership. Try as I might, I wasn't able to get through everything last year, and had to submit an incomplete ballot. But I loved the whole thing.

Since WorldCon, I've been wondering why I can't find an online WSFS community. I was really surprised by the lack of a place for us all to come together in between WorldCons and continue the conversation. I've been wondering whether I'd be allowed to start up and run such an online community. Surely I'm not the only one who wants such a thing? Right?

Well, now that I've completed my first nomination period, and see how the community explodes and how a lot of the community members treat each other online when the list of nominees is released, I see why there is no official WSFS online community. Wow. I know I shouldn't be surprised that people often behave with less civility online than they do in person. I know that very well. Why was I surprised?

Farther down the line, when I have more time and feel like I want to deal with moderating such a passionate online community, maybe I'll revisit the idea of creating a space for us all to get together between WorldCons. But not today.