Your annual Hugo sabotage

Well, that made me laugh in the midst of yet another puppy temper tantrum/Vox Day publicity stunt thrown at the expense of the Hugos. As you know Bob, “Chuck Tingle” is a cult writer of increasingly bizarre gay porn, usually about being pounded in the butt by metaphysical concepts. The pups thought it would be hi-larious to nominate his story “Space Raptor Butt Invasion” for Best Short Story, just because it sounded similar to Rachel Swirsky’s “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” which they still have an incredible hate-on for. And of course also because these are the kind of people who think calling somebody gay is both funny and an insult.

Of course the only real reason it’d bother anybody is because it means some more worthy story lost out because of this stupid stunt, not so much that a bit of gay porn with a sci-fi flavour got nominated in the first place. Tingle nominating Zoe Quinn to receive his award is a great piece of counter trolling. Zoe Quinn was Victim Zero of Gamergate, as her ex-boyfriend Eron Gjoni involved the shadier parts of the socalled gaming community to harass her. Puppies being who they are they’re of course on the harassing side, so having Quinn accoet is a giant fuck you in their direction by Tingle.

It helps soften the annoyance and pain of having to deal with their shit for another year.

Rocket Girls — Hōsuke Nojiri

Cover of Rocket Girls

Rocket Girls/Rocket Girls: The Last Planet
Hōsuke Nojiri
214/250 pages
published in 1995/1996

Morita Yukari came to the Solomons Islands to look for her long lost father, who disappeared on his honeymoon seventeen years ago, leaving behind her pregnant mother when he went out on a walk to look at the moon. She has little hope of finding him, but feels she has to try after hearing rumours of a Japanese enclave on one of the islands, which led her to Maltide. What she doesn’t know is that the enclave is the Solomon Space Association which is attempting to create a manned rocket capability but having little success with their new booster which keeps going kaboom. So they decide to go back to their older design, but that has less weight lifting capacity so the race is on to shave off as much weight as possible, including from the astronaut. Who promptly flees. Various things happens, Yukari gets caught up in it and when the SSA director sees her, he has the bright idea to turn her into an astronaut — no weight loss needed for a high school girl weighting only fifty kilos.

Read more

A blue screened future

Future Visions: Original Science Fiction Stories Inspired by Microsoft features work by Elizabeth Bear, Greg Bear, David Brin, Nancy Kress, Ann Leckie, Jack McDevitt, Seanan McGuire and Robert J. Sawyer, “also includes a short graphic novel by Blue Delliquanti and Michele Rosenthal, and original illustrations by Joey Camacho” and is available for free from the usual ebook retailers.

An interesting sort of vanity project for Mickeysoft. I would be more excited about it if not for the authors involved, who with the exception of Elizabeth Bear, Ann Leckie and Seanan McGuire are not exactly exciting nor the first ones I think about if I want science fiction writers with a firm grasp of the future. Rather, collectively this group seems to have peaked somewhere around the introduction of Windows 3.11.

Who’d think the kids don’t read their Asimov

I really want to argue against Adam-Troy Castro’s argument here that

nobody discovers a lifelong love of science fiction through Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein anymore, and directing newbies toward the work of those masters is a destructive thing, because the spark won’t happen. You might as well advise them to seek out Cordwainer Smith or Alan E. Nourse — fine tertiary avenues of investigation, even now, but not anything that’s going to set anybody’s heart afire, not from the standing start. Won’t happen.

By objecting that, actually, I so did discover a lifelong love of science fiction through Asimov, Clarke and even Nourse — The Mercy Men was one of the first sf novels I’ve ever read– but considering that happened a good thirty years ago, it’s hardly relevant to what actual young people would read. Even back then, something like I, Robot was several decades old and outdated in its technology and sociological attitudes both, but not so that I noticed as an eight year old reading it for the first time. Almost all children’s fiction I read was like that after all, set in some nebulous present that was clearly not mine: like the Bob Evers series, originally written in the fifties and early sixties. I read all that without caring or noticing much that these were old books, therefore I’m not sure that kids today can’t read in a similar way, even if there are no mobiles or computers in them.

On the other hand, there were a lot less opportunities to find science fiction thirty years ago. We only got cable tv in 1987 or so, our family’s first computer in the same year, no internet until the mid-nineties, etc. etc. There are just so many more ways in which you can get your first taste of science fiction today, that you certainly don’t need to seek out writers who’ve been dead longer than you’ve been alive. On the gripping hand however, some of the young adult stuff I read back then is still being sold today, with little problems though perhaps with some updates.

The rampant sexism and whitebread worldview of much socalled golden age science fiction might be more of a problem. Asimov might still be barely palatable due to his lack of female characters in general, though when they show up, they’re usually awful. The same goes for Clarke, though he was slightly better and few of his characters were well rounded humans anyway. Heinlein? Oy, Heinlein is very much a curate’s egg — parts are excellent, but some are hideous. At this point in time, I don’t think new readers will miss much skipping all these authors in favour of those like Dick, Delany, LeGuin or Russ which had slightly more to offer than just the strength of their ideas.

immanentising the Eschacon at ABC

My local science fiction bookstore is holding its own convention:

Eschacon is a three-day festival from 5 to 7 November with panels, writing workshops and book signings. Featuring several of the most interesting and talented upcoming science-fiction & fantasy authors from around the world, Eschacon is all about World SF and the craft of writing speculative fiction.


Thursday 5 November

18:30-21:00 Tribute to Chip Book Presentation and World SF panel discussion

Author and editor Bill Campbell will talk about his latest project The Stories For Chip, a tribute to Science Fiction Writers of America Grandmaster Samuel R. “Chip” Delany. Following the presentation is a panel discussion about World SF and diversity in the speculative fiction genre with authors Zen Cho, Corinne Duyvis, Marieke Nijkamp, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz and Tade Thompson.

Friday 6 November

14:00-16:00 Speculative Fiction Writing Workshop
A workshop to kickstart your own writing under the guidance of professional author Rochita Roenen-Ruiz.

18:00-19:30 Q&A and booksigning with Zen Cho and Tade Thompson
Join us for an evening around the (imaginary) fireside with authors Zen Cho and Tade Thompson. Zen and Tade will discuss their new books, the art of writing and the business of getting published.

Saturday 7 November

10:00-11:00 Kaffeeklatsch
Getting up early has never been so fun. Enjoy a cup of coffee (or tea) while talking about books, stories and other geek-related subjects with authors Aliette de Bodard, Zen Cho, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, Bill Campbell and Tade Thompson.

14:00-15:30 Q&A and booksigning Aliette de Bodard
Author Aliette de Bodard will talk about and read parts from her debut The House Of Shattered Wings.

ABC has been remarkably active in promoting science fiction and fantasy in the past year or so, with various author talks and other events, much of it due to its SFF buyer, Tiemen Zwaan. It has helped galvanise something of an sf scene in Amsterdam, of which is the culmination so far. What I like especially about it is that this going beyond just mere commercial considerations, but that ABC has done its bit to help make SFF more diverse, more plugged into developments outside its traditional heartlands. The line-up for the con reflects that, with people like Aliette de Bodard, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz and Zen Cho.

I hope this becomes a success, because it’s been a while since we’ve had a proper science fiction con in Amsterdam.