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 18:18 on 21-04-2014, Michal
I suspect that ranking the works on the "sad puppy ballot" below No Award will be spun to prove that Hugo voters are voting on political lines rather than literary merit, thus proving it's a leftist thing that only goes to "message fic" like, uh, Redshirts.
at 12:28 on 21-04-2014, Tamara
It just looks to me like Hurley and Scalzi are both trying to find a silver lining, or say that it doesn't really matter. Which, of course, it doesn't, in the grand scheme of things - but in the very tiny teacup of people who care about the Hugos? I think it's a big deal.
at 10:31 on 21-04-2014, Adrienne
Also, Tamara, I haven't forgotten your earlier question about things I find traumatic, in fiction -- it's just a slightly hard one to answer, and I'm always struggling with how best to explain it to people.
at 10:27 on 21-04-2014, Adrienne
I am also considering grabbing a supporting membership to vote, this year. Not that I can do anything about Best Novel -- Ancillary Justice deserves it, but fucking Wheel of Time is going to nail it, for all our sins -- but there are several other categories in which I'd like to be a drop in the bucket.
at 10:16 on 21-04-2014, Adrienne
Tamara, I think Scalzi's post about this over at Whatever (and the conversation in the comments, at least the non-stupid part of that conversation) make a valuable counterpoint to your argument. :) Not that your perspective isn't valid -- it is OFFENSIVE to me that people are doing this bullshit, and i think Correia and Beale are both loathesome human beings -- but the Hugos have survived a lot of bullshit and they will survive this.

Also, Kameron Hurley (who has been nominated for two Hugos, herself -- one for best fan writer and one for best related work) has a great post about it here with yet another perspective.
at 09:36 on 21-04-2014, Tamara
I don't see whether they win or not being the issue at all. I don't think for a moment that they will, and I don't think Vox et al particularly expect to win. Nor will it be a 'victory' for the rest of us if they end up placing below "no award" or coming dead last (which I'm pretty sure they will) or anything. No, this round is to them. They made the point they wanted to make and got the attention they wanted to get, with much more success than they deserve.
at 09:18 on 21-04-2014, Adrienne
Also note that while Hugo nominations go by simple plurality, Hugo awards use instant-runoff voting, which is much harder to game. So on the downside, some awesome shit got left off the ballot because Correia and Beale are assholes; but on the upside, they'll find it's much harder to actually win than it is to be nominated.
at 07:17 on 21-04-2014, Tamara
That said, I am kind of enjoying the Hugo being grounds for contention and controversy, and not in the grouchy this-is-not-to-my-taste, get-off-my-lawn Christopher Priest way but at least rooted in genuine ideological battles.

I wonder how this would play if there had been a concentrated campaign to get someone on the ballot - some self published monster porn or something - without the ideological baggage. Then again, I don't think you could get a sufficient mass of people to fork over ...50$?... even if they fans, without that political catalyst. Authors campaign to get their stuff in all the time...not that many succeed.
at 07:11 on 21-04-2014, Tamara
Yeah, it's not like "reform Hugo voting" is a new thing, but this is someone who obviously and transparently managed to kind of game the system. That is, what they did was perfectly fair, as far as anyone can tell, but clearly against the spirit of the nominating process, which wouldn't have been possible with a broader pool. Most other criticism has been a vaguer, less concentrated thing - ballots aren't representative...ballots aren't good...well, representative of what? What's representative, what's good? It's much easier to agree that the success of a systemic campaign by a small handful of rightwing fucknuts to influence the ballot is not representative or good.
at 00:53 on 21-04-2014, Michal
This should totally be a red light for the narrow Hugo voter base (and this was it's best year ever...) Reform! Reform! What do we want? Sensible bureaucratic measures taken to consider a broader nominating pool!

I can see some good things coming of this.

a. Larry & friends could experience huge blowback for their vote stacking and end up ranking below "no award." Even if that doesn't happen, none of them come out looking all that good for their efforts ('cause seriously, getting an award this way just comes across as sleazy).

b. If it's this easy to game the Hugos there will be more pressure to change the process...though all the complaints and anger over previous Hugos didn't manage to achieve that.

c. Way distant third: Voxy's novelette will probably be in the Hugo packet. His books are put out by a small Christian press that gets very little attention and his Amazon/Goodreads reviews are almost solely drawn from the sycophants on his blog (plus he attacks or tries to pull down negative reviews with a vengeance). This is possibly the first time his fiction will come under critical scrutiny from outside his fan base...and the resulting explosion on his part is going to be mighty fun to watch.
His fiction is terrible.
at 11:30 on 20-04-2014, Jamie Johnston
Hopping in slightly late (as usual) to the webcomics thread. It's been ages since I caught up with Bad machinery but I used to really like it. In fact the only reason I haven't read it for so long is because I keep waiting for a nice chunk of free time to enjoy the catch-up. Also Girls with slingshots, which you all probably know about already, and Nimona.

For short funnies with no particular ongoing narrative I enjoy Buttersafe, Poorly drawn lines, The non-adventures of Wonderella, and (like everyone else) Hark, a vagrant!. Kate Beaton's tumblr is also worth checking out for in between Hark updates.

A recent discovery somewhere between 'ongoing story' and 'joke of the week' comics is Chaos life.

It's been nice to see other people's recommendations, quite a few of which I hadn't heard of and shall check out!
at 07:24 on 20-04-2014, Tamara
Oh, and XKCD has a nomination too ;D
at 06:56 on 20-04-2014, Tamara
The Ayn Rand nom on the Retro was a nice touch too...WTF was my response too, word for word. (hadn't been aware of this...campaign.) This should totally be a red light for the narrow Hugo voter base (and this was it's best year ever...) Reform! Reform! What do we want? Sensible bureaucratic measures taken to consider a broader nominating pool!
at 23:48 on 19-04-2014, Michal
What the fuck?

(Scroll down to the novel and novelette category. Larry's logrolling campaign worked.)
at 11:54 on 18-04-2014, Adrienne
(Also it contains Grace Park, and she is fantastic enough for any five or ten normal people all by herself.)
at 11:54 on 18-04-2014, Adrienne
On a completely different subject, I've been binging on Hawaii Five-0 (the rebooted show, not to be confused with the original, which is "Hawaii Five-O") and it's quite fun. Standard procedural, but holy crap there are a lot of actual native Hawaiians (and other Polynesians) in it, and they aren't just playing random cardboard stereotypes. It's pretty refreshing to see.
at 13:25 on 16-04-2014, Alice
(Re: that last note, it's not a huge part of the story in terms of page count or even plot, really, but it's a big part of (again, spoiler-ish)
a prominent character's backstory
at 13:20 on 16-04-2014, Alice
Adrienne: I'd love to read a review of Digger! I couldn't write a coherent one, I don't think, but would look forward to discussing it.

Melanie: Glad you're enjoying it!

Generally: I forgot to say that I would probably add a trigger/content warning to Digger for descriptions of (past) domestic abuse, and what I suppose would be labelled (spoiler of sorts? Also correct me if I'm wrong)
post-partum depression
. It's not a trigger for me personally, and I found it very well written/presented, but my goodness is it heartbreaking.
at 06:38 on 16-04-2014, Adrienne
(Hell, I may have been inspired to submit a review of it to Ferretbrain. We'll see how that goes.)
at 06:33 on 16-04-2014, Adrienne
(Now I've been inspired to reread it, too.)
at 04:36 on 16-04-2014, Melanie
I'm totally reading it right now. This is great!
at 03:24 on 16-04-2014, Adrienne
OMG, Melanie, Digger is SO GOOD. Seriously. The hyenas are one of the best-realized alien societies I have EVER read. (I'm using 'alien' in the broadest sense.) Digger herself is a fantastic protagonist. Read it as soon as you can!
at 03:04 on 16-04-2014, Melanie
Oh, I love El Goonish Shive! And Order of the Stick. I'm also really fond of Freefall (although I have to confess that it's also pretty slow-paced) and Gunnerkrigg Court. I also started reading Awkward Zombie recently, and if you like Darths & Droids then Friendship is Dragons is along those lines, except for My Little Pony (although this is kind of an awkward time to rec it since they're doing guest strips currently).

I find Oglaf kind of hit and miss. Sometimes it's really funny but then occasionally there's... rape jokes, like the thing with the "statues".

I actually hadn't read Digger, even though I keep hearing about it, so thanks for the reminder. :D
at 15:59 on 15-04-2014, Alice
Wholeheartedly seconding the Digger recommendation! While I've been following Ursula Vernon's blog for a while, I never quite got round to reading the comic online. But then I got a paper copy through the 2013 Kickstarter, and love it.

As with paper comics, I never know what's out there in webcomics and basically default to reading things I'm linked to. I gave up on xkcd years ago, still check back in on Dinosaur Comics every week or so, and at this point pretty much only read Questionable Content out of nostalgia for the old days when it was all jokes about indie bands. (Also, I can't put my finger on what it is, but I find Jeph Jacques -- the author -- just ever so slightly off-putting nowadays, for all that he seems to have good intentions re: diversity/representation.)

Then again, I don't consistently read (m)any blogs or review sites -- apart from Ferretbrain -- either, these days.