Tuesday, April 29, 2014

You may have heard something about the recent Hugo Award shitstorm controversty. For various reasons, thoroughly documented around the interwebs, lots of folks are frustrated. Some are upset that certain viewpoints could be included. Others are upset that certain viewpoints could be overlooked. Some are upset that folks keep talking about the controversy, because itís difficult to read when so many voices are yammering away in the background. As a community, our members embody and express a lot of different ideological leanings.

The problem with any further discussion of the current, contentious Hugo ballot is that it doesnít really matter which way the readers lean. For the vote to have any validity, those readers must form opinions without anyone trying to push them further off center.

Yes, there are problematic works, writers, and ideologies represented. If you are a voter, the expectation is that youíll support whatever your own assessment leads you to believe deserves an award.

I canít tell you what that is! Half the time I donít even agree with the rest of the Rampant Loon editorial staff about what makes a good story, much less the SF/F community at large. Some of the stories that show up on any award ballot would likely be the same ones Iíd have rejected soonest, had they appeared in my slush. (In one instanceóno, I will not tell you which story, or even which ballot, but it was NOT the 2014 Hugo listóa work Iíd rejected went on to receive a nomination. Iíve only been doing this for a few years; every editor whoís managed to accumulate any sort of track record probably has a similar tale about something that got away.)

If you are not yet a voter, but would like to be, all you need is a supporting Worldcon membership. That currently runs about $40 USD, and you can learn more at this link: http://loncon3.org/memberships/

Now, hereís the thing: Hugo (and by extension, Campbell) voting is only available to Worldcon members who have purchased at least a supporting membership. Supporting members receive all the same publications, updates, and information as attending members. Supporting members receive the Hugo Voter Packet (which will be fairly substantial this year, given the size of one body of work nominated in the ďBest NovelĒ category), and they are allowed to vote on the final ballot. Supporting members are also allowed to nominate works for next yearís Hugo/Campbell ballot.

I know there are an awful lot of you who are at least tangentially aware of the awards, because well over 35,000 of you downloaded the Campbellian Anthology in just the first 72 hours it was online... and that was three months ago. I have no idea what the actual numbers are now, but Iím pretty certain theyíve climbed.

How many people typically vote on the Hugo ballot? Itís a much smaller number. Last yearís Worldcon in San Antonio drew slightly over 6,000 members, and according to the Final Voting and Nomination Statistics Report only 1,848 of those bothered to vote. (See http://www.lonestarcon3.org/hugo-awards/statistics.pdf for the full breakdown.)

Iíll just let that ratio sink in for a moment: Last year, 1,848 people determined the Hugo recipients. This year, over 35,000 got excited about science fiction and fantasy in only three days time... and some of those people never cared about genre before.

Flash forward to the start of this year: 1,923 voters determined the works that would appear on the 2014 Hugo Awards ballot. (See http://www.loncon3.org/2014hugos.php for the breakdown.)

The 2014 Campbellian Anthology has now been online for three months. It will be available until 19 May 2014, since that is 30 days from when the ballot was announced. Three and a half months translates to a lot of readers who suddenly care about science fiction and fantasy, and some of you may even care enough to express an opinion.

If you believe the Hugo Awards matter, or if you believe the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer matters, then please become a supporting member and allow your voice to be heard. After all, those awards are supposed to represent your estimation of the best.

You can have your vote counted on the Hugo/Campbell ballot and help determine the winners, as long as you become at least a supporting Worldcon member before the voting deadline. Voting will probably run through sometime in July, if they handle the process as in previous years.

Posted by M. at 11:42 AM • COMMENTS 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Locus Magazine released their “2011 Recommended Reading List” in the February 2012 issue, and yesterday they posted the list online.

I was thrilled awestruck to see my own “Absinthe Fish” included as a recommendation. Lois Tilton has been a strong advocate of the story, but according to Locus’ own description, the list “is a consensus by Locus editors and reviewers... for short fiction, Jonathan Strahan, Ellen Datlow, Gardner Dozois, David G. Hartwell, Rich Horton, Lois Tilton, and others.” A consensus generally means that more than one person liked it, and that makes me giddy.

As of a few minutes ago, the “Fiction” section has been updated to include ePub, Mobi, and PDF versions of the story.

“Absinthe Fish” artwork by Mike Gallagher

Posted by M. at 12:28 AM • COMMENTS 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Last night we had Chinese.

Or, more accurately, last night my wife had Chinese, and I had Thai. It’s one of those Americans-assume-all-this-Asian-food-belongs-together places, which isn’t the most culturally sensitive way to market cuisine, but the hosts are always friendly and the food is good. And after every meal, you get a fortune cookie (which, by happenstance, is of Japanese origin!), regardless of which way your palate swings.

I love the taste of fortune cookies. The hint of lemon, the barely-perceptible traces of vanilla... and then there is the fun little slip of paper inside.

What I don’t love is the fact that more often than not, the “fortune” is more of a “platitude.” I dig that it’s easier to produce a pile of platitudes — all you need to do is shake a few greeting cards — and the occasional pseudo-mystic predictions that make it out of the cookie factory are so generalized that they require a high degree of interpretation and an exceptionally open mind to bear even the faintest whiff of relevancy.

All the same, I am a science fiction writer. How could I not love a fortune like this one?

An alien of some sort will be appearing to you shortly!

Posted by M. at 4:09 PM • COMMENTS 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Welcome to the new website!

What? This is a new website?

Well, yes. VintageSeason.com has already been around for several years, as email and such. Now I’ve stumbled into the position of needing a web presence, other than simply via social media or blog contributions... so over the past week, this place was assembled.

You’ll notice that a few pages are still sort of, er, empty. As in, bereft of content, save for a subtle declaration of “what will be.” Give me a little rope, though... and if it doesn’t form a noose, I’ll keep adding stuff.

For now, in accordance with international law (as set forth by the Scalzi Statutes), this new entity shall be inaugurated with a picture of my cat sunning herself by the doorway.

Okay, that’s not exactly true. My cat died, over a year ago, and this is the closest thing I could find on short notice. It’s a picture of my daughter’s kitty hat, lying in the sun by our front door.

Yes, it sorta looks like a demented raccoon. She swears it’s a kitty, though.

kitty hat

Posted by M. at 4:39 PM • COMMENTS