Welcome to the Playpen, our space for ferrety banter and whimsical snippets of things that aren't quite long enough for articles (although they might be) but that caught your eye anyway.

at 16:30 on 27-04-2016, Bill
It's bugging me how everyone is shorthanding Sandman: Overture as "Gaiman" considering the excellence of JH Williams's art.
at 14:11 on 27-04-2016, Arthur B
Further: File 770 does a decent breakdown of the shortlist, the Rabid slate, and the Sad recommendations which highlights just how well the Rabids did and just how much the Sads watered themselves down.

George R.R. Martin is calling for those whose entirely innocuous works were nominated by the Rabids (like Gaiman, Reynolds, etc.) not to withdraw them, on the basis that whilst that was an effective protest last time, it's become quite clear that Vox Day will declare victory regardless of the results, so people may as well shunt the toxic crap down under No Award but feel free to vote for works of actual merit anyway.
at 11:25 on 27-04-2016, Arthur B
I also note that the Rabid Puppies seem to have done better than the Sad Puppies in several categories, possibly because they limited their recommendations on their list to as not to dilute their vote.
at 11:19 on 27-04-2016, Arthur B
Abigail Nussbaum has a pretty good response to this.

I particularly agree with her point that where Puppies have made it onto the ballot, it seems to have resulted in two different outcomes:

1: The category in question has become irredeemably shat up by Puppy candidates. This seems to have mainly happened to Short Stories and Related Works. We don't have the full breakdown of the voting numbers yet and I don't have a year-by-year chart of the votes in front of me, but part of me wonders whether this has happened mostly to categories which don't usually get many nomination votes in the first place, and consequently are much more vulnerable to Puppies.

2: The category in question is near-impossible to distinguish from the way it could have plausibly shaped up in a Puppy-free year. This isn't the same thing as the Puppies having no effect, just that, as Nussbaum puts it, they've "pushed middling but not-awful work onto the ballot over better, more deserving nominees", which as she points out happens all the time in the Hugos because that's how the vote tends to work. I note that the Sad Puppies went for Star Wars: the Force Awakens and Mad Max: Fury Road, and both they and their Rabid littermates went for The Martian; is anybody seriously going to tell me that those movies were not going to be on the ballot this year if the Puppies hadn't been a factor?

I mean, strewth, the Sad Puppies went for Ancillary Mercy and so far as I am aware it meets none of their ideological criteria and is there solely to troll people who wanted to vote for it but now feel conflicted because the Puppies licked it.
at 08:02 on 27-04-2016, Adrienne
James D: Also "Safe Space as Rape Room", which is an abortion of a hit piece. It's a terrible ballot. Noah Ward is gonna take home a number of categories again this year, I suspect.

(The GOOD news is that their success is going to tip the scales even farther in favor of EPH passing, and that should at least blunt the edges of slates in future years.)
at 04:10 on 27-04-2016, James D
Well, the puppies took a big shit all over the Hugo nominations once again. Nominated for Best Related Work:

SJWs Always Lie: Taking Down the Thought Police by Vox Day
at 02:13 on 15-04-2016, James D
Sure. "Make Science-Fiction Great Again"
at 03:39 on 14-04-2016, Ichneumon
But see, that's the reactionary idea in a nutshell: The extensions of rights and recognition as a loss of privilege enjoyed during a mythic Golden Age. It goes far, far beyond fiction.
at 01:33 on 14-04-2016, James D
What the puppies need to do is just admit to themselves that sci-fi has changed over the years and that what used to be popular has now become a niche interest catering to a specific subset of fans within a much larger genre. There's nothing wrong with being a niche interest and that's what's happened in other media for decades - prog rock scored lots of Billboard Top 100 hits in the 70s, but now it's a niche interest. Heavy metal did the same in the 80s, but now it's a niche interest.

It seems like they're clinging to the notion that their particular vision of sci-fi represents the essential core of the genre and is thus eternal and immune to the public's (perfectly natural) changes in taste over time, so therefore the reigning popularity of John Scalzi and whoever can only be due to cheating and corruption. Of course this notion of requires the ignoring of vast swathes of sci-fi history from the Futurians to the New Wave to all sorts of other big upheavals in the genre.
at 11:08 on 13-04-2016, Arthur B
As for the Dragon Awards - I think if they gain traction, they're eventually going to pull in a wider and more diverse electorate than diehard Sad Puppy/Rabid Puppy voters.

It might not even take that long. How big is Dragon*Con, and are puppies especially well-represented in those who go to it?

They've set themselves a trap where by their own argument the award will have more credibility if a wider base of people vote for it - but the more they widen that base, the less ideological control they have.
at 09:53 on 13-04-2016, Ichneumon

Isn't it beautiful? It'll be like a bad Scanners remake.

Oh, I see what you did there. Cute.

It's actually something I began doing years ago, weird as that sounds. It's almost a tic at this point, if it's a multi-"dear" situation.
at 18:15 on 12-04-2016, Robinson L
Ichneumonn: yes, that is a significantly better title, although it buries the lede a bit more. But punch and clarity may be preferable to exactitude here.

Yeah, if it were me, I wouldn't worry too much about burying the lede in the title. Descriptiveness is what the article blurbs are for.

Oh dear deer dere.

Oh, I see what you did there. Cute.

As for the Dragon Awards - I think if they gain traction, they're eventually going to pull in a wider and more diverse electorate than diehard Sad Puppy/Rabid Puppy voters. Who wants to bet that in ~10-15 years people are going to be complaining that the Dragon Awards are overrun with "political correctness," "social justice warriors," and "message fic," and we see the whole process start all over again?
at 08:57 on 11-04-2016, Arthur B
Well, surely the pup-pups have accounted for this by cordoning paranormal romance off in a separate genre so that neo-Robert E. Howard types aren't upstaged by...

Best fantasy novel (including paranormal)

at 08:01 on 11-04-2016, Ichneumon
I wouldn't be surprised. A commentator on File 770 mentions in passing that D*C is very popular with paranormal romance folks, for one thing, which while not intrinsically progressive or innovative is so, far in the opposite direction as to be the polar opposite of the SP/RP stereotype.
at 17:53 on 10-04-2016, Arthur B
It would be amusing if people took the category descriptions at their word, ignored the Puppy-flavoured dog whistles slipped in, and ended up voting for a bunch of novels of the type the Puppies make a point of despising.
at 08:28 on 10-04-2016, Ichneumon
@Robinson L: Thank you! And yes, that is a significantly better title, although it buries the lede a bit more. But punch and clarity may be preferable to exactitude here.

@Adrienne: Oh dear deer dere. Let's hope they clean up that bracket set and really put those anti-slate rules into effect before the actual *voting* happens, or else they'll just doubly embarrass themselves.

And no short story prize? Really now. You dishonour us in this way. Unbelievable.
at 06:24 on 09-04-2016, Adrienne
Dunno if people have already seen, but the Sad Puppies Dragon*Con have announced their own award now. And from their (very poorly written & not proofread at all afaict) award definitions and such, it's pretty goddamn obviously the "Fine, We'll Make Our OWN Hugos! With Hookers! And Blackjack!" Award.

File770 has details, as they do with everything. Also many excellent points (and a great deal of snark) in the comments.

† - No, D*C isn't actually run by the puppies; but it's had ties to Baen for years, and thence to the Puppies; and really, just read the award description. It's like a list of Puppy talking points about What's Wrong With the Hugos.
at 05:36 on 08-04-2016, Robinson L
Had you already considered, "Games Are Not Art - Or Are They?"?

Anyway, sounds like an interesting article, I look forward to reading it. Sorry to hear about your computer troubles, that sounds pretty aggravating; still, I, for my part, can be patient. As far as I'm concerned, take however long you need to pull the article together.
at 17:26 on 07-04-2016, Ichneumon

OK, I'm going to come clean about my article idea.

The title idea I had sort of gives it away, but also doesn't at all: "Games Are (Not Not) Art."

It's not really meant to be a "rebuttal" of Dan's older piece, or meant to invalidate his points with respect to what he defined as "games," but to explore the different potential definitions of a "game" and make the argument that the kind of game framework that he sets forth is only one potential interpretation of the concept that describes only a very specific kind of game, and that by applying it to things that don't work that way or things where that element is explicitly part of forwarding a narrative that can only be told in that way.

My main case study in terms of demonstrating how games can be satisfactory both by Dan's definition—the test of skill as entertainment, which I have heard referred to as the "ortho-game"—and as a narrative that can only exist within that paradigm and through the exploitation of tropes and structural idioms mostly unique to it is... well, you probably know what it is if you've played it.

Unfortunately, the computer I was last playing it on has been in White Screen of Death Mode for a while now and I'm waiting on my significant other to show up here with *his* computer to finish the damned thing. Given how far I've come in it, I already have enough to support my argument, but I will need to finish the game to confirm my suspicions. It feels a bit like I'm three quarters of the way through a really fun book, and I know there's a twist coming and all of my intuitions are pointing me in one particular direction, but... my renewal period ran out and I need to pay the fine before the library will even let me look at it again. Very frustrating.
at 19:02 on 01-04-2016, Arthur B
"This time they're not just fetching water!"
at 18:35 on 01-04-2016, Bill
Wow, looks like I've found a home for my dark, edgy, steampunk version of "Jack and Jill, went up the hill." Jill is a leather-clad assassin with large breasts and Jack is a steampowered cyborg!
at 13:08 on 01-04-2016, Arthur B
We have been loudly sceptical about the merits of ~dark~ and ~adult~ and ~edgy~ reinterpretations of fairytales and other classic stories on here for a while, particularly when it comes with a side plate of steampunk. The fools didn't listen and now look at what's happened.
at 19:28 on 27-03-2016, Arthur B
They were basically pointing out that this guy has bought out a stake in Gawker to help fund their Hogan-related legal issues and speculating about what on Earth could possibly be in it for him.