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 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.
at 18:52 on 27-03-2016, Orion
I don't have a Pando membership.
at 19:16 on 23-03-2016, Arthur B
So, in between journalists being aghast at just how flippant Gawker's witnesses were on the stand, wrestling fans getting to see Hulk Hogan get a win in a venue he doesn't normally wrassle in, and Gamergates frothing at the mouth with glee over the verdict because Gawker runs Jezebel and Kotaku and they have huge problems with those site, there doesn't seem to have been much discussion of how Gawker these days is bankrolled by potentially shady forces.
at 00:41 on 23-03-2016, James D
Sure, it's just the same old invoking of "The Goode Olde Days" that American conservatives (and, presumably, conservatives around the globe) have been doing since time immemorial. When exactly those days were and whether they were really that good doesn't matter, because they leave the specifics necessarily vague so that the reader can insert whatever rose-colored crap they want. In this country it generally means the Reagan years, or maybe the post-WWII boom.

The thing is I get the impression that the various brands of Puppy are really thinking more about politics and internet discourse in general rather than sci-fi, because I seriously doubt that any of them were actually alive at a time before the New Wave wrecked Golden Age, John W Campbell-style conservatism's stranglehold on the genre for good. The whole "political correctness" narrative they peddle sounds much more like something an aging Republican would complain about after reading tumblr for a while than something specifically related to sci-fi.

Plus, their notions that politics are a recent phenomenon in the Hugos is fucking silly - Double Star, winner for best novel in 1956, included a shitload of Heinlein's political ramblings, as did all his other Hugo winners excluding Have Spacesuit Will Travel. Of course, they were libertarian ramblings, so clearly in those cases the Hugo voters chose them purely based on the quality of the stories, and the political content didn't factor in at all!
at 01:43 on 21-03-2016, Arthur B
I first became aware of the Puppies as a result of John Wright decrying evil SJWs hijacking the Hugos in recent years and using them to reward people who wrote deviant (by his standards) takes on gender.

Which would presumably mean that the takeover has been in effect for some 46 years, seeing how Ursula LeGuin got the 1970 Hugo for The Left Hand of Darkness.
at 01:02 on 21-03-2016, James D
What's crazy about the whole thing is they don't seem to realize how stupid they're making themselves look. The whole "we're the dignified Old Guard writing two-fisted manly-man hard SF just like our fathers used to read" routine was totally undermined the moment they started publicly whining and moaning about being oppressed and using underhanded tactics like voting slates, behavior their supposed idols would've totally abhorred.

Ironically, all it seems they've succeeded in doing is politicizing the Hugos even more than they were before.
at 21:20 on 20-03-2016, Arthur B
How do you become the Sad Puppies organiser anyway? Divine right? Killing and eating the heart of your predecessor? Satanic pacts? Who gets to choose who drives the clown car?
at 15:30 on 20-03-2016, Michal
For a brief space of time I was willing to give the latest sad puppy effort the benefit of the doubt, then I saw how nasty its proponents are being to authors who want off of their it's-not-a-slate, and I think Rachael Acks put it best:

"Please, someone explain to me how I should see this as anything but transparently manipulative, wanky shit."
at 11:59 on 19-03-2016, Arthur B
Also, wasn't part of the complaint that the types of fiction allegedly being snubbed were conservative stories by conservative authors? If so, then nominating Ancillary Mercy makes even less sense to me.

In some respects it's curiously effective as a wrecking strategy, in the sense of attempting to force anti-Puppies to either deny their real favourites the prize or vote for a Puppy candidate.

On the other hand, Guardians of the Galaxy was a Puppy candidate last year, so the Hugo voters have already demonstrated that being nominated by the Puppies isn't the mark of Cain.
at 00:36 on 19-03-2016, Robinson L
@Alice: I've talked a bit about my experience reading Ancillary Justice and Sword before, and I'll probably make another update when I read Mercy later this summer.

I like the series, but I don't love it - the characters are good, but I can't get as deeply invested in them as I do in some others. The first part of the first book was actually a struggle, because so much of Breq's goals and motivations were kept deliberately obscure that it I couldn't get into her character at all. I actually liked the sequel better for that reason, as I was already there with Breq from page one - although I've heard that it's generally considered a weaker follow-up to Justice.

I really like Jamie's assessment of her internal struggle, but only having read the first two books, I don't really see her being in denial about her emotions and feelings: perhaps it was too subtle for me.

I guess I also agree that the review may have been unfair to the series: okay, perhaps it's not groundbreaking, fair enough, but I think it still does a good job at what it sets out to accomplish. Also, this bit:

the ideas contained in Ancillary Justice seem disappointingly simple: empires are evil, class systems are oppressive, absolute power corrupts absolutely

Huh, I dunno. I mean, yeah, obviously, those are ideas which the book explores, but aren't most ideas in books simple when you boil them down to their core? At the risk of hyperbole, couldn't you make similar claims about, say, 1984? Obviously, I don't mean to imply Ancillary Justice is anywhere in the league of 1984 in terms of exploring ideas of freedom and oppression - on the other hand, I think Ancillary Justice is much better at telling an engaging story. (Also, a lot of the more successful parts of 1984 as I recall involved telling rather than showing.)

And as long as there are empires, class systems, and--if not absolute, then extremely high concentrations of power--these are themes it will be important to explore.

Arthur: So the new Sad Puppies nomination slate came out today and so far as I can tell their genius plan to retake the Hugos seems to involve nominating so much popular stuff that is likely to get nominated anyway that they can then turn around and claim that stuff like Mad Max: Fury Road, Star Wars 7, and the latest Ancillary novel represents the Sad Puppies.

Huh. I thought the whole point of the Sad Puppy phenomenon was protesting that certain types of fiction were allegedly being snubbed by the Hugo voters, so nominating mainstream hits does seem exceedingly odd.

Also, wasn't part of the complaint that the types of fiction allegedly being snubbed were conservative stories by conservative authors? If so, then nominating Ancillary Mercy makes even less sense to me.
at 17:25 on 18-03-2016, Arthur B
So the new Sad Puppies nomination slate came out today and so far as I can tell their genius plan to retake the Hugos seems to involve nominating so much popular stuff that is likely to get nominated anyway that they can then turn around and claim that stuff like Mad Max: Fury Road, Star Wars 7, and the latest Ancillary novel represents the Sad Puppies.
at 21:25 on 17-03-2016, Shim
@Ichneumon: I think it makes sense even though I don't know quite what you're doing. One of the things holding up my writing is that I need to read/reread a couple of books first, and I might need to look through some comparators as well depending how my article develops.
at 21:13 on 17-03-2016, Ichneumon
@Arthur: I need to finish something that I could either use as an example in my argument, or simply mention in passing. I cannot do that at the moment.

That was excessively cryptic, but it will make sense later.
at 09:35 on 17-03-2016, Jamie Johnston
@Alice: I like the 'Ancillary' books a lot and am maybe just being a bit defensive about them, but I feel like that review is mainly criticising 'Ancillary Justice' for not doing things that it has no interest in doing (and that, by Allan's own account, other people have already done anyway). Like, I don't think the reader is meant to spend much time grappling with whether conquering planets or turning people into ancillaries or having rigid class hierarchies are Good Things or Bad Things: the starting-point is that we all agree they're bad, and the point of interest is what is it that enables Breq to recognize and act on that when other people don't?

And yes I can see the potential in a story about a human who gets turned into a computer but remains psychologically the same person, but that would defeat the psychological point of 'Ancillary Justice' -- which is to explore what it's like to be a sentient and intelligent being who doesn't think of themself as human or as having inherent value because nobody else does, and who has enormous understanding of and consideration for other people's emotions and thoughts while being so alienated from their own humanity that they don't really recognize that they have any emotions of their own or that anyone else has any about them.

I think the thing about the other characters being flat is again a bit of a misunderstanding. It has some truth, but also I don't think it properly takes into account that we encounter the other characters through a quasi-omniscient first-person narrator whose ability to interpret and understand them is limited and distorted in certain ways -- so you have to do some reading between the lines to find the parts of their personalities that Breq misses or misunderstands.
at 08:33 on 17-03-2016, Arthur B
Why would that require you to wait to do something important?
at 04:52 on 17-03-2016, Ichneumon
...I just had quite an article idea, but I think that I am going to have to wait until I do something important to actually write it; to whit, the subject, while not *particularly* controversial, may be amusingly contentious for some folks here.