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17Sep/15Off

Eight Million Gods by Wen Spencer

Read: 2015-09-08 to 2015-09-17

3 stars

2015-09-08/5%: Not too impressed so far but I've enjoyed some of Spencer's other books so we'll see.

2015-09-11/15%: Okay, so Nikki broke into the crime scene, totally stupid, but she did this after the book said the police were going to take her to the crime scene. And I think the cops were going to take her for the same reason she's there, to see if there were other details that matched her book. It's taking a while to get to moving and it's not really pulling me in.

2015-09-13/53%: It picked up at about 18% but it's still a middlin' pace at best. Good enough so far but I wish it would move along.

2015-09-17/92%: OMG this is long. I can't believe I'm still not done with it. This is one downside to ebooks, not having an obvious indicator of how long they are before you start reading. Moon+ does give an estimate of how long it will take to read, I think this one said 8 hours (I'm at 5.9 with 38 minutes left) but it just doesn't work the same as seeing the thickness of a book and then opening it to see the font size and spacing. Of course none of that matters if the book grabs me because I'll clear the decks and read straight it through. It's harder with one like this that's good enough to keep going but not so good that I want to set aside everything else and just read.

2015-09-17/100%: It turned out the book ended at about 94% and the rest was appendix or some such. A good read, though I think it could have been shorter. There were times when I skimmed a page or two and didn't feel I missed anything. The Mom had very little to do with the story. She was just background for why Nikki was secretive. She justified some emotional turmoil but I think I she could have been whacked without much impact.

 

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13Jun/15Off

My problem with Military SF

I am soooooo tired of the heroes in uniform bullshit. I was in the military and I can tell you that it's just like any other group of humans. You've got some really good folks, some really shitty folks, and a whole lot of folks just trying to get through the day. When you pretend all of them are heroes you make that meaningless for the ones who actually are and you give cover to the shitholes hiding in uniform. Go look up statistics on rape of servicewomen by servicemen and then talk to me about how every soldier is a "hero".

Most military, like most cops, are fine people. The biggest mistake they make is in covering for the bad apples in their midst. If the military and the cops were really so uber-honorable and uber-honest then they'd keep their own house clean and they wouldn't tainted by the actions of the few. But the majority is just grinding through another day and it's easier to look the other way and not make waves, and "that dude was really cool at the poker game the other night so I don't want to get him trouble".

I used to love the fairy tale of the honorable soldier, but sadly I grew up and I learned that many of them aren't all that honorable.

I don't want to see the military (or cops) depicted as the bad guys, I want to see them depicted as real people.

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5Jun/15Off

2015 Campbell Award

I think this is probably my final ranking.  English will be #1 and not rank anything else, including No Award. She can write. The others write well enough but mostly not about anything interesting. There's also not enough in the packet to go on for Nelson or Raymond and I passed on Chu last year and I probably won't read his Death of Tao any time soon, if ever.

  1. Kary English
    Reading the short stories in the packet and Kary English is a very good writer.  Skimmed Total (already read it) and it still fades for me at the end. Very much enjoyed Departure Gate 34B and I enjoyed Flight of the Kikayon as well. So, is she a rabid right-winger, married to one, or did the Puppies slip and accidentally nominate someone with talent? If they found one writer talent why couldn't they find more?
  • Wesley Chu
    I read Lives of Tao last year and gave it 3 stars. It was okay but didn't leave me with any desire to read further in the series. I probably will eventually, but I'm in no rush.
  • Jason Cordova
    Not impressed with Hill 142. About 23% through Murder World and while it's decent stuff there's nothing in it that hasn't been done before. I'm ready to punt but I am curious as why "kaiju" is in the name? Are there giant monsters on Murder World? Is Murder World the dumbest planetary name ever? I know it's just a nickname for Gorgon IV but still. The best thing about Murder World is that it reminded me of Death World which I'd love to re-read except I'm afraid that it wouldn't be as good as it was 30-ish years ago. (Fuck, I'm old.) I have yet to read anything from my teens that holds up and it's such a disappointment. Better to let them stand as fond memories. But I'd really like to read them again.
  • Rolf Nelson
    Shakedown Cruise was decent MilSF but not enough to go on. Also, MilSF is boring. It's been done... to death even.
  • Eric S. Raymond
    Read Sucker Punch and Battlefield Lasers from Riding the Red Horse. Good stuff but not enough for the Campbell.

PS. Did anyone else wonder if Riding the Red Horse was about menstruation? Anyone else think that would probably be more interesting than more fucking MilSF?

PPS. I'm actually not that opposed to MilSF and used to read, and enjoy, a lot of it when I was younger. With age I've decided that violence isn't nearly as cool as I used to think it was. Also, MilSF is heavily cliched. If the Pups had put up some MilSF with some originality I'd be less irritated with them.

2Jun/15Off

2015 Hugo Summary

My take on the 2015 Hugo Awards. They were sad.

This is only my second year of "involvement" with the Hugo Awards and said involvement consists of paying $40 for the voter's packet (because that's a frigging awesome deal, or least it was last year) and then trying to do my "duty" by reading the works in the packet and voting for the ones I like.  I don't nominate because I don't read enough new fiction each year to feel like I have any idea what the "best" is. I thought I was going to get a sampler from the Hugo packet and feel like that was true in 2014.

Unfortunately, for the 2015 packet I really feel like I got fucked by bunch of paranoid nitwits who thought there was a conspiracy theory to keep out certain kinds of fiction and promote other kinds of fiction. Those nitwits were then used by a jackass to further his own goals, which I think are mainly to get a lot of attention. The dude is a troll and if everyone would just stop talking about him he would slink sadly back to his cave to mope and occasionally to throw a tantrum. Seriously, never, ever, mention him. Have all the SF/F bloggers not been on the internet long enough to know that you don't feed the trolls.

So anyway, the nitwits got used by the troll and together they nominated a bunch of really crappy fiction for Hugo awards and I'm pissed because I had a bunch of 4 and 5 star works to read last year and this year there have been a couple of 4's and large number of 2's and 3's plus three 1 star ratings this year and none last year. I will admit that I probably judged the nitwit noms somewhat harshly, but that's what'll happen if you make me read your favorite stories and they don't measure up.

I generally think the nitwit claims are bogus and founded in paranoia. After reading all the literary noms this year I think their idea of what "good" is very different from mine.  I suspect there are a large number of people who would agree and I think that is probably the biggest reason why their favorite stuff isn't winning awards.

But really, the nitwits didn't matter because they got used by the troll and I don't think he gives a shit about anything except getting attention.

So, that's my take on the 2015 Hugos. I really hope that in 2016 the Sad Puppies will wise up and if they want to make a list of 10 or so works in each category that they recommend that's be cool. If they want to say "vote for these five" then that would make them assholes, which the word I started to use this year before I decided to be nicer.

It would be nice if a lot more people read more SF/F and nominated next year which I think would cancel out anything the troll might try. I doubt that will happen because there is a ton of new SF/F every year and as mentioned, I certainly don't feel qualified to nominate anything for best. I suspect a lot of other people feel the same way and like be they rely on the Hugos to highlight  some of the best of the year and to provide a really good deal and an excuse for reading it. It's not perfect, there are humans involved so that should be obvious. But at least 2014 it gave me a bunch of good stuff that I probably wouldn't have read otherwise. In 2015 I read a bunch of crap and was generally pissed off.

So hey, Sad Puppies, remember Wheaton's Law and don't fuck up my 2016 packet. If you've got something you think should be in there it's fine to say so, but it's not fine to stuff the ballot box with Puppy Shit. It's also not okay to play with trolls.

A note on the order of the categories above: I put them in order of how much I enjoyed reading them. I did this largely because I'm not sure I'll even vote for Semi Pro Zine but almost everything in that category was good. It was far superior to the rest and I'm not a big fan of short fiction. The bottom categories were all pretty horrid but Novelette and Novella went to the bottom for making me suffer longer.

 

 

2015-10-28: Fixed the Fanzine link.

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31May/15Off

Definition: Puppy Shit

Puppy Shit is crappy fiction or non-fiction that's a Hugo finalist because some dicks thought their favorite stories weren't getting  nominated so they made a list that got co-opted by a troll and resulted in my Hugo Packet containing a bunch of stories I didn't enjoy.

 

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29May/15Off

2015 Hugo Fanzine

My notes and rankings for the Best Fanzine category of the 2015 Hugo Awards.

  • Journey Planet
  • Tangent Online
  • The Revenge of Hump Day

 

29May/15Off

2015 Hugo Semi Pro Zine

My notes and rankings for the Best Semi Pro Zine category of the 2015 Hugo Awards.

I'd just about given up on on the Hugo packet because of all the Puppy Shit.  Eventually I tried a few and was shocked to find a bunch of good stories. Still, I'm not a huge fan of short stories and I'm kind of burnt out. The first three below were all good but I'm not sure I can rank them. Read a story or two in ASIM and it was good as well. The thing is, while I think this was the category with the best fiction this year it's also the hardest to rank because I'd have to go through and rank a bunch of individual stories and I really don't feel up to it.  Writing this is kind of making me want to do it though.  I wish there was a way to indicate that this category had better fiction than anything else in this year's crop.

  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies
    Enjoyed the first story, really enjoyed the second story, the third and fourth were okay.
  • Abyss and Apex
    Good stories all around. Poetry isn't my thing but I did like the shape poem.
  • Lightspeed Magazine
    The SF and Fantasy stories were all good but I didn't realize how long the magazine is. I’m not up for a novella so I'm moving on to ASIM and we'll see how far I get there. I'm really tired of short fiction.
  • Andromeda Spaceways In-Flight Magazine (ASIM)
    Ugh, not because it's bad (I suspect it's not) but because there's a lot of it and I'm kind of burnt out and I don't generally care for short fiction because it's so hit-or-miss. A good short story is a wonderful thing to find but there are so many that aren't. Consequently I tend to avoid anthologies and what not.
23May/15Off

2015 Hugo Related Work

My notes and rankings for the Best Related Work category of the 2015 Hugo Awards.

  1. Why Science is Never Settled, Tedd Roberts
    4 stars / OMG! The Puppies actually found something I enjoyed!  I bet the only reason that they like this is because they think can use it to bash climate change.
  2. The Hot Equations: Thermodynamics and Military SF, Ken Burnside
    3 stars / Wow! Much numbers! So maths!  (insert doge pic of your choice)  Decent stuff if you want to make realistic space battles in SF. Personally, I'll bet that would be pretty boring.  If I want realism in a story I'll stick to something like The Martian or I'll go read some non-fiction.
  3. No Award
  4. Letters from Gardner, Lou Antonelli
    DNF / Wasn't bad but I wasn't interested and I've got other things to read. I stopped about half way through the preview before the story S.P.P.A.M. and I'm wavering on reading on and possibly moving it above No Award.
  5. Transhuman and Subhuman: Essays on Science Fiction and Awful Truth, John C. Wright
    Haven't read aside from the one "how to write fiction" piece.  I thought that had passable advice though I also thought it was very confusingly given.  He should probably direct folks who want fiction advice to someone else.
  6. Wisdom from My Internet, Michael Z. Williamson
    Why is this up for an award? It's a collection of mildly humorous blog excerpts and if this is the "best" related work of the year then it might be time to drop that award category. Did it have anything to do with SF/F?

 

21May/15Off

2015 Hugo Graphic Story

My notes & rankings for the 2015 Hugo Graphic Story category.

  1. Rat Queens Volume 1: Sass and Sorcery, written by Kurtis J. Weibe, art by Roc Upchurch
    4 stars / I enjoyed this. Modern language dropped in a fantasy setting. A bit gory but quite funny.
  2. Saga Volume 3, written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples
    4 stars / I have V1 & V2 (from a HumbleBundle I think) but haven't ever gotten around to them, in part part because I thought they were "serious". I'm partway through V3 and it's been pretty amusing so far.
  3. Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal, written by G. Willow Wilson, illustrated by Adrian Alphona and Jake Wyatt
    3 stars / Enjoyable YA/preteen comic. Not bad but nothing I really be interested in following.
  4. Sex Criminals Volume 1: One Weird Trick, written by Matt Fraction, art by Chip Zdarsky
    3 stars / Interesting idea, some funny stuff.
  5. No Award
  6. The Zombie Nation Book #2: Reduce Reuse Reanimate, Carter Reid
    2 stars / Read January through March of his 2014 posts. Amusing, occasionally funny. I wouldn't mind the anti-Lib cracks except I'm sure they're part of why he was nominated and I dislike that anyone would be nominated because of their politics.
19May/15Off

2015 Hugo Short Story

My notes and rankings for the 2015 Hugo Short Story category.

  1. No Award
  2. Turncoat, Steve Rzasa
    Best of the worst. Apparently AI in the future are prone to change sides at the drop of a hat. That ought to make things interesting in a Chinese curse sort of way.

I've read all of the following and none of them deserve to be ranked though Totaled is right on the edge.

  • Totaled, Kary English
    A decent story but the language felt off, kind of like YA, and while it went for the emotional ending I didn't even come close to caring.
  • A Single Samurai, Steven Diamond
    Started okay but I wondered how a single person was going to defeat kaiju, especially a super-sized one as described here. What the author came up with didn't appeal to me but it might just be that I'm grouchy from all the really crappy crap the Puppies are making me read.
  • On A Spiritual Plain, Lou Antonelli
    I sure this supposed to be spiritual and shit but it just came off as silly. Thankfully it was short.
  • The Parliament of Beasts and Birds, John C. Wright
    I really hope this isn't the best that JCW has to offer because this wasn't good. A biblical fairy tale about what the animals do after "Man" is apparently taken to heaven. The best thing about it was that it was fairly short, and even then it wasn't short enough.