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 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.
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."