A wrongheaded view of fantasy

From a review of THE BURIED GIANT:

http://www.salon.com/2015/03/02/dragons_aside_ishiguros_buried_giant_is_not_a_fantasy_novel/

“Despite what you might read elsewhere, however, this is not a fantasy novel. It has very little of substance in common with “Game of Thrones” or “The Lord of the Rings.” Yes, creatures like ogres and dragons stalk its landscapes and some of the characters knew King Arthur personally, but “fantasy” is a contemporary genre that uses the form of the novel to deal with the material of pre-novelistic storytelling. “The Buried Giant” reverses that formula, using the structure of a medieval romance to explore the moral and psychological themes we’re used to seeing addressed by the realistic novel.”

So, the reviewer seems to be of the opinion and school of thought that fantasy is a juvenile genre, and any novel that explores “moral and psychological themes” must, by her definition, not be fantasy.

Yeah, right.

The Exalted Circle, Skiffy and Fanty style

Exalted is a role-playing game published by White Wolf Publishing. The game is classified as high fantasy and it was inspired by a mixture of world mythologies as well as Japanese Anime.

I’ve done this for 5 authors, but today I am going to classify me and my fellow members of Skiffy and Fanty.

The Solar Exalts:

DAWN: The Warriors and Generals: That’s our leader, Shaun Duke!
ZENITH: The zealot, the holy one, the keeper of the faith: Julia Rios. Who better than the “Bechdel Crusher”?
NIGHT: The Spy, the Assassin: Rachael Acks. If you’ve read her movie reviews, you will know why.
TWILIGHT: The Scholar and Sorcerer. David Annandale. He’s an academic and author, and is wicked smart and learned.
ECLIPSE: The Ambassador, Diplomat and Negotiator: Well, I am putting myself in this role.

To fit our other members, I am going to pull in the Lunar Exalted shapeshifters of the setting:

THE FULL MOON: The Warrior, the Combatant, the Leader: Jen Zink, co-creator with Shaun.
The CHANGING MOON: The Trickster, the Changeable one: That would be none other than Stina Leicht.
The NO MOON: The sorcerer, and savant: Mike Underwood, who also has deep academic background, is a writer, AND a marketing professional.

Small c Conservatism in Reading

This post was inspired by a Twitter conversation with Scott Lynch, and reading the reactions to K Tempest Bradford’s post, in comments, and in the Sad Puppies blogs. The vehemence in this has surprised me…but only in retrospect.

Small c conservatism in reading habits and expectations in what a writer is or should write works against authors oeuvres and reading lists.

The outrage to [Bradford]’s challenge to read women and POC for a year is a really telling piece of this pie and conversation.

I found it very interesting that a lot of the Sad Puppies claim “I don’t choose books based on gender and color,I just read the best”

And yet, I will bet money that for most people who claim that, and perhaps even believe it, their book habits in reading aren’t diverse.

It’s extremely easy to fall into the trap of “I’m reading diversely, I know I am” without examination, and wind up reading conservatively.

Now, how does this tie to what I was mentioning to [Scott Lynch] about? This applies to authors and I will drag [Elizabeth Bear] into this too.

Red Seas from Red Skies is the second Lamora book, and Scott got a lot negative feedback from readers for it? Why?

In my view: Simple. It’s simply not “Lies II: Electric Bugaloo”. It does different things. It tries new techniques.It reframes Locke & Jean.

For readers who just wanted more of the sea from Lies, this of course drove them crazy. And so the reception of it suffers.

I understand that Bear, jumping across series early in her career, had some pushback in terms of success. She didn’t write 10 Jenny Casey novels.

She wrote other stuff, tried new things, experimented, grew. This fought against the small c conservatism that readers have.

Look at George R R Martin and why people are so hot fired on when the next book comes. It’s not like there aren’t tons of more to read.

They want more Tyrion, Daenerys and the rest. Period. Small c conservatism. Its something we can all do to recognize and counter.

True Fans, Real Fans

Over in the Sad Puppies part of the fandom blogs, I keep seeing this meme propagated. The idea that they were told that they weren’t real fans, that they didn’t count. That they were going to take fandom back, and hoo boy!, aren’t you SJWs going to be sorry when we do!

The latest is from Brad Torgersen’s blog but I want to know is where this idea *came* from? What disturbs me is that this has been co-opted into a Pink versus Blue argument, and, from what I see, the Blues are agitating against a Pink establishment that deems them to be not real fans. It’s popping up everywhere. That last link blames File 770, but I couldn’t find anything remotely close to saying what they are saying Mike said.

This is a strawman argument. I’d like to know the context of where people were told they were not “real fans”. Its ridiculous.

And I dislike strongly the Delenda Est rhetoric. (Sometimes, to avoid Godwin and Friends, its best to go to the original Latin).

As I have said repeatedly: If you enjoy SF in any form, you’re a fan. Yay!

Do I think that, for example, the SF of Theodore Beale is shite? Yes.
Do I think he’s a racist and sexist human being? Based on what he’s written, damn straight, Skippy.
Does that mean he isn’t a reader and writer of science fiction? No.
Does that mean he’s not a fan of SF? No.

There you have it, then.

‘Pinkshirts’ Not concerned with Sales? *Really*?

Today’s comment from the Sad Puppies:

http://voxday.blogspot.com/2015/02/novella-book-bomb-aftermath.html#c6630701198994747901

I said this on Larry’s blog yesterday but it bears repeating:

The pinkshirts don’t give a damn about sales. Most of them (Scalzi excepted, by the way) operate in the academic/nonprofit/government grant sector of literature. They don’t get paid for writing stories, they get paid for academic prestige, which they earn by writing stories.

But the key is that prestige doesn’t come from sales, it comes from reviews. For someone like N.K. Jemisin, a couple of reviews in a high-status literary journal are worth more than a thousand copies sold of her fantasy novels. The reviews help her career as an “educator” and “activist.”

This is important because it means the Pinkies are perfectly happy to see SF follow the same course as poetry or jazz: become an art form of interest only to people who get paid to teach classes about it. For them, sales and popularity are actually a BAD thing because that taints the whole field with the aura of lowbrow trash. They don’t want ANY SF books to sell well, so their efforts to make the field incestuous and boring are entirely rational as it serves their own profit.

And here is his original post at Correia’s:
http://monsterhunternation.com/2015/02/19/book-bomb-success-behold-the-power-of-sad-puppies/#comment-108178
The SJWs don’t care about sales. Because they don’t really make money off of books.
Most of them are academics of some variety. They get paid by universities, or nonprofits, or arts grants. For those groups, sales don’t matter. In fact, good sales might actually endanger your chance of getting more grants or academic promotions.
However, reviews — especially from lit’ry reviewers outside the SF ghetto — are gold. That’s the currency of getting appointments at better institutions, getting tenure, getting fellowships, etc.
So for the SJWs, it’s actually a FEATURE if their crap kills SF and fantasy commercially. They want it to be a little hermetic academic clique like modern poetry.
In short: they’re not just trying to take over SF, they’re trying to kill it.

Good fucking God. Do you really believe this tripe? I see plenty of “Pinkshirt” authors lament about their sales and how they are doing, or not. This is as deluded as someone believing every Sad Puppy is a male author interested in having their novels full of submissive women with big tits.

The Stupid really does burn.

Five Woman Exalted Band, the female writer edition

Kate Elliott, as the leader and the Dawn. Her sword is sharp, and she has seen many battles.
Kameron Hurley as the Night. She’s the one whose words and no-fucks-to-give cut with the sharpest of edges.
Kari Sperring as the Twilight. The Smart One, with the degrees and historical background and training to match.
Elizabeth Bear as the Eclipse. The social one, the connected one. Everyone knows her. And like an Eclipse who can
learn charms from anyone, she has arrows of every type in her writing quiver.
Laura Anne Gilman as the Zenith. The one that carries the torch, the encourager, the one who blazes a path.

There are a lot of substitutions one could put in here for the roles, too. But these for now will do.

A really solid list of Nebula Nominees for 2014

A really strong list this year, I think. I’ve read a couple of the novels, and own a couple more. Charles Gannon, from the Land of Baen, is now a two year in a row shortlister (along with last year’s winner, Ann Leckie).

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America are pleased to announce the nominees for the 2014 Nebula Awards (presented 2015), nominees for the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation, and nominees for the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Novel

The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (Tor)
Trial by Fire, Charles E. Gannon (Baen)
Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
The Three-Body Problem, Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu (Tor)
Coming Home, Jack McDevitt (Ace)
Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer (FSG Originals; Fourth Estate; HarperCollins Canada)
Novella

We Are All Completely Fine, Daryl Gregory (Tachyon)
Yesterday’s Kin, Nancy Kress (Tachyon)
“The Regular,” Ken Liu (Upgraded)
“The Mothers of Voorhisville,” Mary Rickert (Tor.com 4/30/14)
Calendrical Regression, Lawrence Schoen (NobleFusion)
“Grand Jeté (The Great Leap),” Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean Summer ’14)
Novelette

“Sleep Walking Now and Then,” Richard Bowes (Tor.com 7/9/14)
“The Magician and Laplace’s Demon,” Tom Crosshill (Clarkesworld 12/14)
“A Guide to the Fruits of Hawai’i,” Alaya Dawn Johnson (F&SF 7-8/14)
“The Husband Stitch,” Carmen Maria Machado (Granta #129)
“We Are the Cloud,” Sam J. Miller (Lightspeed 9/14)
“The Devil in America,” Kai Ashante Wilson (Tor.com 4/2/14)
Short Story

“The Breath of War,” Aliette de Bodard (Beneath Ceaseless Skies 3/6/14)
“When It Ends, He Catches Her,” Eugie Foster (Daily Science Fiction 9/26/14)
“The Meeker and the All-Seeing Eye,” Matthew Kressel (Clarkesworld 5/14)
“The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family,” Usman T. Malik (Qualia Nous)
“A Stretch of Highway Two Lanes Wide,” Sarah Pinsker (F&SF 3-4/14)
“Jackalope Wives,” Ursula Vernon (Apex 1/7/14)
“The Fisher Queen,” Alyssa Wong (F&SF 5/14)
Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), Written by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Screenplay by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Edge of Tomorrow, Screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie and Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Guardians of the Galaxy, Written by James Gunn and Nicole Perlman (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
Interstellar, Written by Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan (Paramount Pictures)
The Lego Movie, Screenplay by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy

Unmade, Sarah Rees Brennan (Random House)
Salvage, Alexandra Duncan (Greenwillow)
Love Is the Drug, Alaya Dawn Johnson (Levine)
Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future, A.S. King (Little, Brown)
Dirty Wings, Sarah McCarry (St. Martin’s Griffin)
Greenglass House, Kate Milford (Clarion)
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, Leslye Walton (Candlewick)

Congrats to all the nominees!

Puppy Manifestos

There’s been some healthy (and unhealthy) chatter between the “Sad Puppies” and the rest of fandom. I don’t have a label to compare with the Sad Puppies–the Sad Puppies call themselves that (except for the Teddy Beale “Rabid Puppies”), and they call people like me the “Social Justice Warriors”

Anyway, what prompted me to write this is what is, in theory, a solid idea from Patrick Richardson:

https://otherwheregazette.wordpress.com/2015/02/18/a-sad-puppies-manifesto/

I’m not so sure about one of the details of the Manifesto, though.

That Freedom of Speech does not mean freedom not to be Offended, nor to impose your Offense on behalf of others.

That Freedom of Speech comes with consequences and others may Consequence your nose if you are too offensive.

That is a very pie-in-the-sky concept that I find, in practice, leads to Theodore Beale calling N.K. Jemisin a “half savage” and then taking umbrage when criticized and shunned for it. Or his constant reference to John Scalzi and Jim Hines as “McRapey” and “McCreepy”. And then have the lack of grace to realize why I scorn him. Its a platform point that seems to be silent about thuggery.

And then:

“Just quit telling us we’re wrong, or homophobic, or transphobic or whatever-the-latest-PC-phobic is for enjoying rousing action tales with lots of hot babes and explosions.”

But…this DOES contradict the Freedom of Speech above, doesn’t it? I might as well ask you all to stop labeling us as “Social Justice Warriors” for wanting something other than the aforementioned action tales with lots of hot babes and explosions. Could we agree on that, too, Mr. Richardson? Or is that still okay by your manifesto and I just have to accept that?

The stuff about anyone who reads science fiction is a fan? I still want to know who told Mr. Richardson otherwise. Because they were dead wrong. If you enjoy SF in any form, you’re a fan. Yay!

A Reality-Based Blog for Paul Weimer's interests, including but not limited to Science and F/SF, books, Movies, NFL Football, Role Playing Games, Photography, and why 6*9=42. "Living in the Science Fiction Present", Proudly supporting Anti-Mundane SF, and aware of all internet traditions! I'm just this guy, you know?