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.
The quality of work on the ballot this year in the short form categories has taken a huge dive from the usual mix of mediocre and not-so-mediocre right into "hang your head in shame for ever liking this" territory. It's straight-up embarrassing, and makes all those complaints about "The Leviathan that thou hast Made" a few years back look positively quaint in comparison .
I agree that the Hugo voters do seem have their perennial darlings - Neil Gaiman, Lois McMaster Bujold, Connie Willis, China Mieville - but would point out that a set of awards given on the basis of sales figures and advertising dollars would probably look very different. Neither Robert Jordan nor George RR Martin have ever won, after all, and the only (?) non-Puppy novel to receive enough nominations to make it past the Puppies this year is Katherine Addison's (nee Sarah Monette) Goblin Emperor, which can't be much of a blockbuster. (I also would never have read Sofia Samatar's A Stranger in Olondria if it hadn't been nominated for a Hugo a couple years back, and it was a really wonderful book from a small press.)
Personally, I never really cared much about the Hugos; they're a popularity contest which hasn't represented my own taste in sci-fi in the slightest since sometime in the 70s (Ender's Game won best novel in 1986, nuff said). Reading what some well-meaning people have written about this "assault on the sanctity of the Hugos" or however they characterize it just seems ridiculous to me, as what gets on the ballot is already massively skewed by numerous industry factors such as advertising, size/distribution network of the publisher, how established a fanbase the author has, and of course the general commercial viability of the writing itself. Granted, occasionally the awards do give publicity to smaller authors from less represented groups, which is probably due in part to the restriction of voting to WorldCon attendees/membership holders. So, there's a bit more of a control when compared to, say, raw sales figures, as the average voter is probably more literate than the average sci-fi reader. But only a bit.
Honestly I can't help but feel incredibly dismissive of large awards circuses of any sort, and I can't bring myself to observe this fiasco with anything other than faint amusement.
"The Hugo nonsense" is the best term for it, if only to suggest it occupies a bleak Thomas Ligotti universe in which the Puppies' insistence on reactionary-flavoured escapism is exposed for the risible denial of cosmic nothingness it is.
(Oh, the Hugo nonsense. Any other Ferretneurons following along? It's like a trainwreck i can't look away from...)
It's a 74-page graphic novel about a young woman going to Comic Con who witnesses a murder, and hides out from the killer at the convention. Seems like a promising premise to me, and I absolutely adore the artwork.
(If you're interested in backing, you'll have to hurry - the Kickstarter closes on Saturday.)
Pros: He's responsible for the first season of Veronica Mars.
Cons: He's responsible for the third season of Veronica Mars.
Bit of a mix: He's responsible for the second season of Veronica Mars.
(I still haven't seen the film.)
I only ever read the first book, and that one only once, and I wasn't paying super close attention. I remember Rien saying something about a parental figure telling her "how do you know for sure you don't like it if you haven't tried it?" and the way Rien talked about it and reacted to the idea of sex with cismen in other parts of the story made me think she tried it, and got confirmation she didn't like it. I was a bit surprised about her receptivity to Mallory's male sexual parts for that very reason, but I just chalked it up to one of the things I, as a straight male raised in a heterosexist culture, don't understand about other people's sexual orientations. Again, though, I wasn't paying incredibly close attention the one time I read the book, so I can believe I misunderstood somewhere.
Yeah, I've heard about Aliette de Bodard's Aztec-based fantasy, and I like the idea precisely because it's not "yet another Medieval Europe-based setting." I've even read one of her short stories, and I didn't find it great, but it was quite good. (I also think she's written sci-fi where the two dominant powers are Amerindian and I want to say Chinese? That sounds cool, too.)
I've been meaning to get around to her books at some point - I have a long reading list though, and I'm a slow reader. It's really too bad her books don't appear to be available on audio.
(The author is French, and doesn't appear to have South American ancestry.)
Yeah, I believe her ancestry is Vietnamese. I remember she was interviewed on a podcast, talking about the dangers of writing another culture and having to be very careful not to do something offensive - I can believe she doesn't %100 succeed.
That does sound interesting - thanks for the recommendation, Cheriola.
@Adrienne: So sorry to hear about your crappy year+. I'm glad if I was able to cheer you up some, and I hope things continue to improve for you.
But what I find most remarkable is that, aside maybe from the protagonist's family and roommate, I really like every recurring character so far. I don't think I've ever seen a show where that was the case before. Even the villain is entertaining and even charming sometimes, for all he is a sociopathic, manipulative user.
Note, though, that I don't generally watch zombie movies or shows (I think zombies as villains are very boring), so if you're a fan of those, this might feel somewhat sacrilegious to you.
Yes, Rien said that she was definetly more into cis women, but she also said that she has had sex with cis boys "to be sure" (which I don't really think a 16-year-old lesbian would do, at least not in a society that really doesn't judge about these things), and her reaction to intersex Mallory offering to adjust his genitals for her convenience is basically "don't be silly". Besides, while someone in the third book judges Mallory to be transgender and somewhat feminine (which may be a change from the first book, since he's now together with Tristan who previously had a wife), everyone uses male pronouns for Mallory (there is a minor character for whom alternative agender pronouns are used, so it's not like the author just didn't want to deal with the writing inconvenience), and well... people can get rather upset if you judge their sexual orientation from their genderqueer partner's body instead of their gender identity. (Example: http://comics.billroundy.com/?p=1116 ) So I'm wary of calling Rien as purely lesbian. She is homoromantic for sure, though. Or well, as far as you can tell with a teenager who never got beyond her first love.
By the way, I seem to remember someone on this site reviewing a truly offensive / atrocious fantasy novel set in pre-columbian South America? I recently read "Servant of the Underworld" by Aliette De Bodard. (Because the TV Tropes site listed the protagonist as asexual - this turned out to be a misinterpretation by someone who can't distinguish between celibacy / low libido and lack of sexual attraction, or by someone who straight up remembered things wrong. Still, there's very little sexual content in the book for something featuring a sex goddess banished to Earth and a plot that hinges a lot on adultery. The protagonist is a Holmes expy in some ways, though not really in terms of personality. ) Despite this disappointment, the book turned out quite interesting for its setting of non-European-middle-ages-based fantasy. It's basically "what if the Aztec religious beliefs and magic were actually true", with a lot of work put into the details of Aztek life and worldview, and the plot is a murder mystery that eventually involves the gods and the end of the world. There were some issues with repetitive phrasing and hard-to-remember names, the author is a little overly fond of describing the details of people's clothing and interior decoration, and it is a rather sexist and gender-segregated society so major female characters somewhat scarce (the author actually invented an non-historical priesthood just to have a female character powerful enough to have political influence). I was also raising my eyebrows at various characters being described as "pale as chalk" or similarly when scared/sick/drowned/etc., since I don't think that's how it works for people who are normally quite brown. (The author is French, and doesn't appear to have South American ancestry.)
But overall, I found it quite enjoyable and overall inoffensive. There is a lot of blood sacrifice going on, but it's mostly just animals or small amounts of the priests' own blood. (All the characters are completely okay with human sacrifices in general, but the author shied away from making her "good guys" actually take part in them, by falsely claiming that their particular gods don't want any, as she admits in the "How accurate is all this?" essay at the end.)
The plot really isn't anything special, and the character development drags rather too long, but if you want the whole "the past is a different country" experience, this is probably as alien to the modern, Western enculturation as it gets while still being based on the experience, needs and wants of humans.
And yet, here we are.
... So yeah, all-in-all, great movie.
My rule of thumb in such situations is to tell people that picking a costume they like and are enthusiastic about is more important than strict adherence to theme anyway. :D