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 05:30 on 29-04-2016, Robinson L
@nxnwinaad: Personally, I'm pretty chill about spoilers for stuff I know I'm probably not going to read/watch/play, or I'm just on the fence about, and you can always use the spoiler tag to talk about them.

In terms of reviews, we sometimes include spoiler sections for stuff we're recommending, and I'm sure I've read at least one article from the past year or two that was a paragraph or three of generalized praise and then the whole rest of the review was given over to the spoiler section, so it wouldn't be unheard of. My philosophy is to give fair warning, then say what you have to say and let folks work out for themselves whether to read the spoilers or not.
at 08:53 on 28-04-2016, Arthur B
@Adrienne/Robinson: Given how that voting work I think it's fair to say that, unless the next boss Sad Puppy reverses what Kate Paulk has done, the Sad Puppies have basically reformed themselves into irrelevance compared to the Rabids.

Prediction: next year the Rabids declare their slate early and sic their members on the Sad Puppy nomination process to ensure that all the Rabid nominations get on the Sad list.
at 06:26 on 28-04-2016, nxnwinaad
@Robinson L: Highly, highly recommended, if you ever have time. They're about 10 hours each. Mostly I want to talk about giant spoilers for the end of the first one and how well it carried through narratively to the second, but I don't want to spoil them if anyone is planning to play or decides to. They're a sort of bleak post-apocalyptic Norse-inspired Oregon Trail with tactical turn-based combat, with *gorgeous* art and soundtrack. I could do a review, but it might be mostly spoilers for the first game in order to talk about the second.
at 05:30 on 28-04-2016, Robinson L
@nxnwinaad: Whoa, funny coincidence, I just learned those games existed within, like, the past twelve hours. Obviously, I haven't played either of them, and I probably won't (really don't have much time for video games these days), but from what I've heard about them, I'd definitely be interested in hearing more about them from folks who had.

Of course, if no one else here has, or they just can't get a good discussion going, you could always submit a review ...

@Adrienne: Okay, I was wondering about Ancillary Mercy ever since I first heard it was on the Sad Puppy suggestion slate, because, yeah, the series pretty much embodies everything which - to my understanding - the Puppies are in revolt against. If you're right, I suppose I should congratulate them for sticking to their promises, even if it means playing along with being trolled by "SJWs." It also makes my prediction for the eventual fate of the Dragon Awards seem even more likely.
at 03:41 on 28-04-2016, Adrienne
Arthur B: you don't need to feel bad about Ancillary Mercy - the Sad Puppies still DON'T like it. Several File770 regulars popped in over at MGC during the recommendation process to see if the Sad Puppies were serious about the "OPEN rec list" that they swore they were going to have by submitting works that were likely to be rejected as "message fic" or whatever. That is presumably how Mercy got on the list, since as far as I know none of the items on the list got more than a couple handfuls of separate nominations.
at 01:41 on 28-04-2016, nxnwinaad
Hi! First-time commenting (after a long period of lurking). Has anyone played the first or recently-out second Banner Saga games? I'm dying to talk about them.
at 18:18 on 27-04-2016, Arthur B
OK, forget Martin and File770 and Vox Day and all that noise: Inverse interviewed Chuck Tingle about this nonsense and he's given the definitive statement on Puppies:

Don’t know about any puppies but it’s BAD NEWS BEARS if you want to disrupt awards. That is a scoundrel tactic and probably part of Ted Cobbler’s devilman plan. Ted Cobbler is notorious devil and has been seen using dark magic to control puppies around the neighborhood. I do not support the devilman agenda but i think that Space Raptor Butt Invasion proves that LOVE IS REAL and no scoundrels can stop that. Especially not some dumb dogs.

So that's that then.
at 16:33 on 27-04-2016, Arthur B
Fair point. I'd even be willing to go to bat with the argument that the artwork in the Sandman series as a whole is a more significant contribution to fantasy than the writing.
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.