Fear and loathing at the Awards Table 3

It’s been two years since I was the triple nominee for the Hugo, the Campbell, and the Nebula awards. At the time, I thought it rather unusual that a relative newcomer should find himself on the short list for all three awards simultaneously. Something in which I took a measure of pride. Because I never set out to be an “award worthy” author as much as I set out to be the kind of author who could entertain. My authorial philosophy is pretty simple: give the reader a good time, not a hard time. So when my name popped up for the Nebulas, I was pleasantly shocked. When it popped up again for the Hugo and the Campbell, I was doubly shocked. I never styled myself as a prestige man. I just wanted to tell stories that people would find worthwhile, enjoyable, and (dare I say it?) uplifting.

Come April 2014, and I discover I am back on the Hugo short list again. This time with two pieces of short fiction which previously appeared in Analog Science Fiction and Fact magazine:

Best Novelette — “The Exchange Officers” — Analog, Jan/Feb 2013
Best Novella — “The Chaplain’s Legacy” — Analog, Jul/Aug 2013

There’s a bit of exciting additional news I can share about “The Chaplain’s Legacy” in a later installment of this blog series, but I wanted to point out here (as I have on Facebook) that I think a big reason why these two stories made the Hugo ballot is because they were both included in my short fiction “best of” album titled Lights in the Deep. I was initially going to self-publish the collection (before it even had a name) but when Kevin J. Anderson and WordFire Press approached me, their contract and marketing and distribution were simply too good to pass up. And I am glad to be working with WordFire, not just for Lights, but also for a new collection coming out later this year, to be called Racers of the Night. What it would have taken a traditional small press at least 12 to 24 months to accomplish, WordFire did for me in a matter of weeks over a single summer. Thus I was able to get the book into the hands of readers months in advance of the 2014 awards season. Thus when the nomination period came around, a great many people had already read my work in both Analog and also Lights in the Deep.

But there is (obviously, to those paying attention to the Hugos this year) another reason I made the Hugo short list, and I want to write a few thoughts about that, and also about some of the controversy that has arisen as a result.

See, my friend Larry Correia put my stories on one of his blog posts where he listed his own voting preferences for the Hugo. Several of us who know Larry had our books and stories on that list, all of us accomplished authors to one degree or another. And since Larry has a substantial internet footprint, and an extremely loyal and energetic fan base, some of those fans (and I have to say, a goodly number of them had bought Lights in the Deep due to a generous book launch push Larry had given Lights in late 2013) mobilized to support Larry’s slate — because that’s just how the Monster Hunter Nation rolls.

After the 2014 Hugo award nominee short list was releast by Loncon 3 (the World Science Fiction Convention, or “Worldcon”) there was a substantial amount of consternation — social media hue and cry, one might call it.

As has often been the case when I observe these kinds of things, I remain puzzled that the group which dubs itself “fandom” (in the parlance of the original Worldcons of yore) and which is always self-analyzing so as to determine how it can bring in more young fans, more diverse fans, and more energetic fans, could react so poorly to Larry Correia bringing Monster Hunter Nation to the Hugo nominations — as if the state of New York were aghast that the state of Texas showed up for a national party caucus during the run-up to a major election.

Isn’t bringing new people into old-school fandom part of the point of Worldcon?

But it wasn’t just Monster Hunter Nation that had certain people in fandom riled up. Wheel of Time fans managed to get the entire series (Jordan/Sanderson) on the ballot too — for Best Novel Hugo. Which is not precisely against the rules of the nomination process, but Wheel of Time is a massive series that is almost 30 years old. Seeing it in the Best Novel category alongside the other books for 2014 is highly unusual to say the least. So unusual, in fact, that some people in fandom have chosen to get upset about it; to the same degree those individuals in fandom are upset about Monster Hunter Nation getting the third installment in Larry Correia’s Hard Magic series onto the ballot, with Warbound: Book III of the Grimnoir Chronicles.

My response to the plaintiffs is: why not?

To paraphrase something Brandon Sanderson eloquently said on his blog, it’s head-scratching to see a group invite people in to join said group, then the group reacts badly to the new people.

In the case of Monster Hunter Nation, I think it’s safe to say the bulk of the unhapiness (from some individuals in fandom) is political in nature. In the case of Wheel of Time fans, the unhapiness (from some individuals in fandom) has been literary in nature. Ergo, works that are considered “too commercial” tend to get looked down upon by parts of fandom that have a particularly academic and literary taste.

But isn’t this the point of being fans? Shouldn’t anything that calls itself WORLDCON actually represent a widely diverse number of fans from many different echelons of the disparate world of genre enthusiasm?

“But, campaigning for awards and stuffing the ballot box is uncouth!”
I understand that for many fans steeped in the history of Worldcon, there is a somewhat old-school and gentlemanly attitude that campaigning for an award is uncouth. Crass. Simply not done. And in those instances where it was very plainly done in the daylight, there has generally been some harsh regard. But honestly, in the era of the internet, this philosophy is pretty much dead in the water. Because almost all authors have web footprints of varying sizes and instant interactivity with their readers, and the minute you even peep about consideration (you, your work, for the ballots) it’s basically a clarion call to your readers to go support you — whether you’re deliberately making the announcement with an intent to motivate your readers, or being discreet and simply mentioning the works you’ve published in the past calendar year, without actually doing a call to action. Plus, authors are clever. A call to action need not be worded baldly. There are 101 ways to deftly and subtly put up neon signs of varying design, encouraging readers and web followers to put you down for the ballots and the awards. Especially when so many of the ballots and awards are voted via web form. It’s easier than ever for an enthusiastic fan or reader or supporter to click, jump, vote, and submit. So, I think it can be reasonably said: nothing any of this year’s short-listed nominees did to announce themselves, can be deemed uncouth or against the spirit of the Hugos. Past winners (up to and including Best Novel) have happily flexed their web footprints in order to be nominated and win. I don’t think we can honestly ding anyone on this year’s ballot for doing the same thing.

“But, Wheel of Time is not even a book!”
True, it’s not a single book. And there is a strong argument for perhaps changing the rules of the award, for future Worldcons, so that a Best Series Hugo might be given. But since the present rules permit Wheel of Time fans to nominate what they love, the series is on the ballot through no fault of its own. It will now compete against the other works just like any other nominee. Perhaps it’s a little disheartening to see a series with such a substantial fan base go up against single books from authors who don’t have as much traction in the marketplace — from a glance, Wheel of Time seems likely to bury its competition. But again, I ask, why not? There’s nothing in the Hugo nomination process that says anything about taste, nor about sales numbers, being a disqualifier. If enough Worldcon members want Wheel of Time (or any other thing) on the ballot, then by golly that thing is going to be on the ballot. That’s not Brandon Sanderson’s fault, nor should Wheel of Time fans be talked down to because somehow their taste isn’t as relevant to the health and recognition of worthy works in the field as, say, fans of John Scalzi’s Red Shirts. Which did walk away with the Best Novel Hugo last year, and largely because of the fact that Scalzi’s fans simply chose to participate in the nomination and voting process.

“But, Monster Hunter Nation and Wheel of Time fans are not our kind of fans!”
Okay, here is where I put my grumpy face on and glower a little bit. Because this is something I’ve talked about before. This is also something Kristine Kathryn Rusch has talked about before, too. You can’t have a healthy fandom unless you run a big tent. And by big tent, I mean a fandom that doesn’t impose litmus tests. Fandom (that very-small piece of the consumer pie that keeps Worldcon alive) represents an increasingly monocultural segment of the overall fan market. The so-called TruFans work to marginalize and exclude the NeoFans. “Show us your cred!” the guards cry at the entry points to the science fiction “ghetto” that fandom jealously occupies — though Larry Niven once famously argued it’s not a ghetto, it’s actually a country club. Those with insufficient or bad cred (“You only like movies and games!” or “Your politics make you stinky!” or “Your favorite author is too commercial!”) are discouraged in both obvious and subtle ways. Go back to what Brandon Sanderson said: if you invite people in, it’s rather strange of you to then try to kick them back out simply because they’re not matching your taste and preferences 1-for-1. So while I am somewhat sympathetic to the notion of, “Well we liked science fiction before science fiction was popular,” I also think this is the slogan of a dying culture. And that makes me sad. Because as someone who came of age reading Larry Niven’s wonderful anecdotes about Worldcon, the picture he painted was not that of a dying culture. Worldcon fandom can’t be healthy if it imposes hard filters and actively shews away “interlopers” who haven’t been properly anointed or baptized into the field, per traditions of old.

“But one of Larry Correia’s friends, that Vox Day guy, is a (insert nasty words here)!!”
Perhaps Larry and Monster Hunter Nation wouldn’t be getting such a ration of grief if the authorial persona known as Vox Day had not had a story on Larry’s slate? But then, Larry didn’t put Vox on the Hugo ballot all by himself. Vox has a blog too. And it gets a ton of traffic. Vox ran his own slate. And the Vox fans came to the Hugos along with Monster Hunter Nation and Wheel of Time fans. Look, for the sake of the Vox Day critics, I get it. Vox (the persona) throws verbal bombs. He is challenging, opinionated, controversial, and makes no apologies. Even to the point of saying things and making statements that occasionally cause me to step back and say, “Whoa, man, that’s probably not called for!” But again, my refrain: why not? If fandom evicted every author or editor who ever shot his or her mouth off about politics or religion or some other thing, we’d be showing many dozens of authors — and more than a few editors — the door. In fact, some of the recent authorial and editorial winners have been very outspoken about their beliefs, up to and including being rude and insulting to those who don’t share the same beliefs, and I am not sure you can pull the ladder up on Vox without admitting (as a fandom culture) that it’s okay to be boorish, crass, insulting, or worse, just as long as said author or said editor is boorish and rude in the correct way. Think Vox is a hideous character? Fine. I get that too. As personas go, Vox Day is a significantly spicy jalapeno! Even I can’t always go where he goes, despite having a degree of ideological overlap on the Venn diagram. I do not agree with Vox on every single thing, nor does Larry Correia for that matter. But if science fiction is truly supposed to be the liberal literary art that it claims to be, then I challenge anyone upset at seeing Vox on the ballot to pry his novelette “Opera Vita Aeterna” away from the ill will Vox the persona has generated, and consider the story on its own merits. As all our parents once told us: how do you know you won’t like it if you don’t try it? Or as one plaintiff lamented, what if Vox’s work actually merits inclusion despite how much we don’t like him as a web personality?

If science fiction truly loves the different, the strange, the alien, or the disturbing, as it always claims to love these things . . . well, here’s science fiction’s big chance to put its money where its mouth is: Vox Day, literary rogue. I, for one, look forward to reading his novelette. To paraphrase a Commander Riker line from Star Trek: The Next Generation, nobody ever said this field was safe. In fact, Harlan Ellison once famously branded the genre as the so-called dangerous genre. Is Worldcon fandom ready to get dangerous, or does worldcon fandom want to be safe?

We’ll see.

Because, really, that’s what the fiction Hugos are supposed to be about: the prose on the page. Technically, when a guy like me gets nominated for “The Chaplain’s Legacy” it’s not me that’s getting nominated, it’s the story. But we all know the nominations aren’t that simple. Many voters don’t even read widely. When nomination time comes around and they are presented with the giant cereal aisle of choices offered at the science fiction grocery store, they will often (through no fault of their own) default to brand names they know and/or like. Thus some familiar name brand patterns tend to set in (and this is true for the Nebula awards too) and that’s perhaps inevitable, without being ideal. But again, according to the labels put on those categories, the author name attached to the story or the book is more or less irrelevant. We’re not giving out Best Novella Writer Hugo or Best Novel Writer Hugo, we’re giving out Best Novella Hugo and Best Novel Hugo. The name attached to the work is somewhat independent of the work proper. And this should be true across the board. And when people exclaim that someone ought to not be on the ballot for purely political or social squabbling reasons, they’re basically admitting that the categories are misleading. Votes are cast for people, not fiction.

Frankly, I think the best way to rectify the situation is not to impose any kind of taste or political test, but to merely read what’s been placed on the ballot, and vote according to enjoyment. No single story or book will please all readers, and it has ever been thus. But if you’re casting your votes because you truly did read what was offered, and you let these works of fiction rest on your literary palate, then I think you’re doing the Hugo process more dignity than if you simply rush down the ballot ranking solely because of the names attached to the products. Him, him, not him, her, not her, not her, not her, him, definitely him, her, not her. Maybe that’s as valid a manner of voting as any other, but it kind of cheats the Hugos out of a degree of their validity.

Which gets me to a point I want to make, about some of these awards overall, but I think I will wait to make it for the next installment in this series.

Thanks to everybody who read my stories over the last few months, and who nominated those stories for the 2014 Hugo!

Click here for the first installment in this series.

Click here for the second installment in this series.


  1. It doesn’t help that Vox’s story might be the worst thing ever nominated for a Hugo.

  2. It wouldn’t have been nominated if it was written by the fairly innocuous CloudSephiroth777.

  3. Alauda: “It doesn’t help that Vox’s story might be the worst thing ever nominated for a Hugo.”

    Well, that’s just, like, your opinion, man. Larry Correia apparently liked it quite a bit. I have no opinion myself since I haven’t read it.

  4. Worst thing ever nominated for a Hugo? Not by a long-shot. All I have to do is go back two years when nominated for “Best Dramatic Presentation, short form” was ““The Drink Tank’s Hugo Acceptance Speech”, Christopher J Garcia and James Bacon”, which was as stumblingly incoherent as you get. And also shows you exactly how the typical previous WorldCon voter treated the awards – as giveaways to their friends. And more on point, Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother only got its nomination a few years before that because of its politics – it was terrible. Quite probably the worst thing I’d read in years. But it was nominated because it was ‘important’, and had the correct leftwing politics of the time.

  5. Larry Correia probably hasn’t read it. He likes to write books that SELL MILLIONS in AIRPORTS and GUN SHOWS and hates PRETENTIOUSNESS. I doubt he’d let something like “incipient promise of the whispering dark” slide.

  6. Brad, I see you’ve been invaded by Vox Day’s personal nemesis, Aluda, Clam, etc. The guy is an actual convicted stalker of women. You are defined by your enemy. If Vox Day have this enemy, then I don’t fear him.

  7. One of the things that amuses me about the TruFans is that they’re science fiction readers and writers who believe they’re open to every kind of person, personality, and idea. How do you think you’re going to write about alien creatures and cultures if you can’t even empathize with members of your own culture?

  8. Well said, Brad.

    I’ve read “Opera Vita Aeterna,” and it is an outstanding story. It might be over the heads of many readers, but I found it to be…God forgive me…touching. I hope that I will write as well.

  9. RE: Worst thing ever nominated for a Hugo. Well, I guess that depends on how you define “worst” because there have certainly been sillier things; like the previously mentioned Drink Tank acceptance, and there was that “Fuck Me Ray Bradbury” thing too. Credit to the Worldconners for having a sense of humor, but really, if we dig deep, I am sure we can find material with flimsier credentials than Vox’s novelette. I have not read it yet so I am withholding comment. My rule for reviewing other authors’ work is not to a) comment on it if I’ve not read it, and b) not comment at all if I don’t like it. Makes things easier when I have to see my colleagues at cons. (grin)

  10. Personally, I’d say that Scalzi’s “Redshirts” was the worst thing ever nominated for a Hugo.

    As for Vox Day, I’ve not read any of his fiction, and hadn’t even known of his blog until Correia linked him once. Judging by his blog, he strikes me as Tom Kratman without the good manners, actually. (Not necessarily a bad thing, if you like watching lefty heads explode, Scanners-style).

    It also strikes me that if being an opinionated asshole (pardon my French) is enough to warrant your expulsion from SFWA and SF/F fandom, then most of Correia’s/Vox’s critics would qualify, just from their criticism of them. So, in a broader sense, would the aforementioned Harlan Ellison. So would GRRM, and pretty much all of SF’s leading and historical lights.

  11. Jake: I agree, and that’s something which has bothered me for a long time. Going back before I was published. What can be said about a body of people who claim to have love for all things alien, yet when they are presented with what is truly alien, they react with revulsion and scorn? Seems to me people hang their hats on claiming to love alien/different stuff, just as long as it’s alien/different in a way that’s 100% comfortable to them. (wink)

  12. I’m surprised people are still unaware of what they’re up against. This isn’t liberal vs. conservative or new blood vs. old, this is a core group of fanatics who are at best radical feminists and at worst, racial and sexist supremacist bigots who hide in feminism to take advantage of the victim narrative as a sort of protection from criticism.

    They are paranoid, viciously racist and sexist, and mentally addled. They accuse straight white men of racially and sexually huddling though they have no web sites, anthologies, symposiums, webzines, workshops or other signs of supremacist advocacy. Meanwhile, the supposed non-racists operate from amidst a welter of cultural sub-sets that neither have nor aspire to the very diversity they piously mouth.

    These same women are at the bottom of every controversy in SFF for the last 5 years, and they are leading the charge on this one. As for their so-called “allies” like Scalzi, Hines and Stross, they use rhetoric that is identical with intersectional feminism. Useful chumps is how I’d describe them, as they parrot Joanna Russ and Peggy McIntosh like player pianos.

    And that rhetoric is about “white male privilege,” “rape culture,” “patriarchy,” the centrality of the “cis-het,” sexual harassment and the whole nine yards.

    By the most amazing of coincidences, the sole source of oppression in every single one of these narratives are human beings who are white, heterosexual, and male. They are never – and I mean never – women, Arabs, blacks, Muslims, gays, or Hispanics. Not today, tomorrow, or in history. In an amazing coincidence, those groups are bereft of human weakness. In my opinion, no group should be lit up like that, but you understand what I’m getting at.

    By the most amazing of coincidences, every single one of those demonization theories allows one to go from an individual straight white man who may be a jerk, to all straight white men. They are variations of the same demonization theories built in beer gardens in the ’30s that allowed one to cross from one Jew to all Jews, or in the KKK or neo-Nazis, where one black criminal became “blacks.” When is obvious obvious?

    Now, in what world of amazing coincidences are all the problems of the world centered around men, whites, and heterosexuals? It is an old coincidence, and it is no coincidence at all.

  13. Aluada: and if Vox’s novelette manages to place higher than some of its competition? Well, as one of my mentors once (rather firmly) told me, taste is taste, and taste cannot be wrong.

  14. It’s wrong if you think Vox is anything but a talentless hack.

    Wow, it’s the painfully unfunny James May.

  15. James: my wife ran into that a little bit when she was getting her Womens Studies degree at the U of WA. Rabid anti-male, anti-caucasian, anti-hetero. I heard one veteran writer amusingly call the small bunch of such people (in science fiction) the Silly Girls Club. I’ve had my portion of buttrash from a couple of them. I content myself knowing that one of them in particular has done little to nothing with her writing “career” in the five years I’ve been publishing. Her bibliography is largely the same size it was when I had just two pro credits in 2010. Being able to “lap” an annoying pest like that . . . well, it was a good moment. And I know this means I am a bad person for admitting it. (chuckle)

  16. So says one poster. I read it a while back as part of the set it was in and found it interesting. Please describe what is inept and dull about it.

    I have not read Red Shirts, but the excerpts indicate a crassness far beyond most hiding a lack of talent. (BJs as thank yous?)

    BTW Brad, I have your book in my queue, but hadn’t read it yet. That was either based on a recommendation at VD or Instapundet a while back I believe.

  17. > “talentless hack”

    What have you actually read? My guess would be little to none. A Throne of Bones has a lot of value. It is quite overwhelming at the start with so much going on that it is hard to keep straight, but it ended far too quick for my taste. (Though it was huge, so that was not a surprise.) I definitely want to find out what happens next, though I may have to reread it to remember who was doing what.

    Far from being a “talentless hack”. I suspect that is just your code word for “someone whose politics I strongly disagree with.”

  18. Well, I read the Hugo nominated short, which he claimed was the best of the Selenoth stories. So I don’t have high hopes for the rest of them.

    And The War In Heaven.

  19. His writing is stilted, his setting is nothing more than a generic fantasyland with Christianity, his characters have less depth than cardboard cutouts.

    Look at this. This isn’t something you can call good:
    “The dead goblin didn’t have any answers for him, and the gaping mouth gaping loosely open made it look about as stupid as Forex was feeling”

    “…side of the hill and the opening that gaped like an open wound.”

    “The guide was very nearly as unfriendly as a dwarf too, the man who was presently calling himself Nicolas thought, vaguely annoyed at his inability to crack the man’s reserve.”

    “The pallid sun was descending, its ineffective rays no longer sufficient to hold it up in the sky or to penetrate the northern winds that gathered strength with the whispering promise of the incipient dark.”

  20. Folks, I am going to gently ask that this comments thread not be used to dissect Vox’s work at the literary level. Alauda I think it’s perfectly valid that you found Vox’s work not to your taste. I am afraid if we delve into arguments on taste we could go 900 responses and never really get anywhere. Taste is never wrong. Vox’s work was not to your taste. Perfectly reasonable.

  21. Alauda (who is apparently the Oscar Wilde of whatever room he’s in that has no doorknob to the outside world) I guess hasn’t read “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love.” Best dino-porn I’ve ever read. One feminist claimed the ending left her in tears – no kidding.

    I myself imagined sad clowns crying down by a river under a weeping willow tree with sad strains of racist violin music in the background. Then I danced a Mazurka.

  22. Prose ain’t everything. Move on. You sound like an obsessive stalker and you show up uninvited like clockwork whenever Vox is mentioned to badmouth him and invariably the host whose blog you have invaded. How about instead of dedicating your life to worrying at Vox’s reputation, why don’t you write something better, get it published, and market the hell out of it? Have some success of your own instead of sneering at others.

    Brad, congrats on the Hugo noms. I’ve heard good things about your stories from people I trust, and look forward to reading your work.

  23. Mr. Torgersen, you were not a bad person for admitting it, you were a bad person the day you were born, due to having the annoying habit of being straight, white, and male. That also makes you liable for any number of crimes from the Battle of Plassey to whatever some guy who looks like you did yesterday. A heavy burden.

    Sometimes I cry myself to sleep thinking one of my ancestors might have turned back the noble PoC feminist Turks at the Siege of Vienna in 1683. Just think how Europe could’ve been better without all that “Western” gender binary stuff. How predictably artificial.

  24. The only reason anybody is reading anything by Vox is because of his opinions about blacks, women, and homosexuals.

  25. This is the voice of tolerance: He is awful, and nobody can like what he writes unless they are themselves awful, regardless of their taste, and it cannot be otherwise.

  26. Alauda can’t figure out that – in an exact same measure of rhetoric – the only reason anyone’s heard of Saladin Ahmed, Aliette de Bodard, Foz Meadows, Ann Leckie, Kameron Hurley, Jim Hines, Alex MacFarlane, Kate Elliott, N.K. Jemisin, K. Tempest Bradford, Sofia Samatar, Seanan McGuire, Cat Valente, Mary Robinette Kowal, Rose Fox, Brit Mandelo, Djibril al-Ayad, Daniel Jose Older, Liz Bourke, Benjanun Sriduangkaew, Sunny Moraine, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Shweta Narayan, Lavie Tidhar, Ekaterina Sedia, and Fabio Fernandes, is because of their opinions about whites, men, and heterosexuals.

  27. Alauda–and so’s your old man!
    So there! Nyaah!
    Now that we’re done being juvenile, do you actually have something to add to the topic under discussion here?
    I must admit, Brad, that I haven’t read your work (or any of Vox’s). But now, I feel that I should do so, to judge it on its own merits. Of course, neither of your will match John C. Wright, who is a real powerhouse of writing.

  28. I think James’ list is too broad, but I do think he plucked a few names (I won’t say who) that can definitely only claim prominence from having rung the “ism” fire alarm too many times. This is something I consciously decided I didn’t want to do. I didn’t want to be known as some kind of activist/crank first and foremost, and a writer second. My goal is to tell good stories and give people something worth their time and money. If I am not doing that, I am failing at my profession.

  29. pseudo: John C. Wright is a talent of exceptional vision and dreams, I don’t mind being second to the man. (grin) Frankly, I don’t mind being second (or third, or fourth) to anybody, because each of us will always be first for somebody. Just never the same people all the time. I like Wright’s blog. Like Vox, I think sometimes Wright goes overboard. But I think Wright is a generally well-reasoned and necessary voice in SF. Especially at this point in time, when political forces are motivated to “cleanse” the genre.

  30. Alauda is the stalker who would post on Larry’s blog as Clamps. You seem to have an infestation Brad.

    I haven’t read any of Vox Day’s work. Considering I’ve bought other books that Larry has book bombed and they have all turned out to be great, I will probably give Vox a chance. It also saddens me to say that I have not had the chance to read your work either Brad, but I will make up for that.

    I don’t let an authors politics get in the way of enjoying their work, unless they are over the top, in your face with it.

    I’m a huge fan of Stephen King. I love his Dark Tower novels and how many of his novels tie into the others, just one huge meta-story. I don’t agree with his politics.

    The same goes for Eric Flint. A wonderful writer, but his politics are not mine and he does not let his politics interfere with telling a great story.

    I really don’t understand how people like the SMOFs who are crying about Larry being nominated can enjoy anything. If you only enjoy work created by people who share your own beliefs, that would leave one with not many choices.

  31. I’m reading John C. Wright at the moment, and all I can say is that the man is an absolute poet in how he makes the English language mold into the image he wants his readers to see.

    That said, I agree with you completely, Brad. I haven’t read Vox’s piece, but as a fan of the novelette/novella length in general, I really want to. Honestly, the premise is fascinating to me. Of course, for some, the fact that there’s not Wheel of Time level world building will be an issue, despite it being a novelette. Of course, I suspect that some here deriding the work didn’t exactly read it with an open mind.

  32. I know what’s in those books, why what’s in those books is in those books, and who they’re marketed to. Take away their so-called “politics” by which they promote themselves alongside their work, and you got squat. It’s identity-fiction – every last bit of it. And it’s not very good on its own merits. I didn’t mention Scalzi, (no identity fiction there) but take away his pandering and his work won’t fly. Have you read the opening to The Human Division? It’s like reading David H. Keller, M.D., circa 1929. Spitting as an alien custom? That would be rejected from Crack Magazine, circa 1965.

  33. Here’s a taste of how alauda (a.k.a. yama, a.k.a. Luscinia Hâfez, a.k.a. Ciconia) writes:


    Or maybe Brad [Torgersen] just isn’t that good. Have you thought about that, Vox?


    I imagine that most of you sound like hicks and that [Mrs. Vox] has a very high-pitched screechy voice.


    If the Mexicans are planning to slaughter April, Lynx, Lamb, Mark, and Dresden [Gaede], I’ll be happy to let them. And will give them karma points if they spare me.


    Child porn? Yeah, OK. I actually posted some examples of the stuff I spammed Micetrap Records with in that thread about Who Is White?


    They sold because you have a blog with a disturbingly large following. And fundamentalist Christians will buy anything that shares their beliefs. Call me when you win some awards.

    Sweet justice.


    I’ve read Caliphate and I’ve read the Spacebattles thread on A Desert Called Peace. I think I’m more than qualified to judge your works. Baen, it seems, is only one step above self-published.


    Face it, Vox, you’re not as good a writer as you think you are. I mean it when I say “give me one minute and I can write a sentence better than anything in The War In Heaven.”

    Which makes this next one particularly delicious.


    “Uh, I’m terribly sorry,” the woman who attacked us said, her voice languid and melodic. The gold disk on her neck was inset with a large red stone with a carving of an eye at the center of a star and six cabochons of varying tones of green at the points, actually light-emitting diodes. A bead of amber with a fly entombed within, like Ava’s pendant, dangled from the side of her headband, wrapped in fine gold chains. A sardonyx brooch with a cameo was pinned to her coat. “I saw you up there and I thought you were a Selinian, or worse, a Pannonian. I’m Cantianilla, by the way. Cantianilla Vasilescu, if you were wondering. Veridiana told me to wear it with pride because it’s part of who we are, for better and worse. I’m not sure but for what it’s worth, there’s a lot of people with that kind of family name, Vasilescu and Gavrilescu and Stefanescu and a bunch of other people with -escu at the end. Mine reminds me of basilisks. Do you know what a basilisk is? There’s a folktale about a feathered lizard that can turn a man to stone with its gaze. But maybe I’m mixing them up with dinosaurs. Those were real, but they didn’t have a petrifying glare or anything. I see you know Anysia. So, what are your names, fellow wayfarers?”

  34. The thing about the dead goblin is that it’s exceptionally bad even by Vox’s standards.

  35. It also apparently serves as a reliable way to identify a disturbed stalker who daydreams about the murder of white children.

  36. Verily Joseph sayeth “I really don’t understand how people like the SMOFs who are crying about Larry being nominated can enjoy anything.”
    . they’re the evil twin from another universe of the smurfs dude!

  37. I saw that repetitive quote too, and I have only read a couple of these reply threads. Seemed odd to be so similar.

    I enjoyed the Golden trilogy and it cost me quite a bit of sleep the week when I got it on my Kindle, but I am not quite read to elevate JCW to writer sainthood on it. I have not read any of his other work. (OT, but you were discussing him.) Seems like a great guy though.

  38. I’m currently on JCW’s Golden Age trilogy. I actually started with his Chronicles of Chaos, or as someone once put it, Harry Potters for people with advance mathematical and post graduate degree in mythology. Quit fun. After that, I have his Count to a Trillion series lined up.

  39. Brad, Brad, Brad, did you just ask me to consider Opera Vita Aeterna on its own merits and then tell me not to dissect it at the literary level?

  40. Congrats on the noms, Brad.

    Wheel of Time: personally, I think they tortured the definition a bit to get it nominated as a single work. I was always under the impression that definition was reserved for serialized stories in things like magazines, rather than a series of dictionary length novels spread over decades.

    LC/VD controversy: I think Larry pretty much proved his point that when someone outside of the ‘cool kids table’ in the cafeteria gets nominated the PC crowd erupts in indignation. I’ve read a lot of authors who’s political views/personal life I don’t agree with, but if they can tell a good story – who cares? Surrounding yourself with people who always think exactly like you seems like a good way to end up in fantasy land, which isn’t good place to be when you have to deal with real world problems.

    The noms: Because I’m a frugal (my wife refers to me as cheap-ass) guy, I won’t be reading anything on this years list for a few years. When the prices come down I’ll purchase the ones that interest me (not all of them do). Thanks to Baen’s Free Library and the CDs I’ve got plenty of stuff to read for years, which allows me to wait for great deals (I get 8 books for every 1 my wife buys, and I still spend less).

  41. Brad, just popping in to say Congrats on the Hugo nomination. I loved every story in Lights in the Deep (even if I wanted to throw the book across the room at one point in Outbound), and reading your work brings me the same pleasure I find reading some of the sci-fi greats like Clarke, Asimov, and Bradbury. You deserve every award nomination you get!

  42. Julaire: let me guess, was it the scene where Mirek loses Irenka? Thanks for picking up a copy of Lights in the Deep. I am glad that (barring one moment of intense pique) the book (and the stories) were worth your investment.

  43. Brad, it was because of Vox’ mention (last year?) that I read “Lights in the Deep” and I’m glad I did. A great collection of works and I enjoyed all of them. And with an 18yo daughter (oh, how time flies) I have to say that “Ray of Light” touched me most. So, if your aim in life is to keep writing entertaining stories, I’d say you’ve nailed that in spades. Vox/Correia/Kratman/Wright too.

    And if you haven’t yet, and have time to do so, pick up “Amish Vampires in Space” by Kerry Nietz. That’s a book to make any leftist head explode 🙂 No other reason to mention it other than I think it’s an entertaining (if really weird) book.

  44. Congratulations on your nomination! I’m sorry to say that I haven’t read enough of your stories, but they sound interesting and I mean to buy them.

    Although I don’t know the Dramatic Presentations listed above, I have read (and own, because I couldn’t bear to unleash it on the unsuspecting world) the Hugo-winning Best Novel “They’d Rather Be Right.”

    Holy freaking crud, it’s bad. It has some interesting ideas (What if aging were caused by accumulated experience and untrue assumptions and stereotypes collected along the way? What if an anti-aging treatment required you to forget learned experience?), but that’s about all you can say. Characterization? Action? Coherent writing? Noop, noop, nopers. It’s particularly painful when judged against Bester’s novel The Demolished Man, which had previously won Best Novel.

    Meanwhile, I have some serious quarrels with Vox’s treatment of Scholasticism, and it stuck out a mile in a previous work when he adapted 16th century Latin to stand for early medieval Latin; but those are (respectively) personal differences in interpretation, and technical things not everybody will notice. What’s important is that he’s a good storyteller with pith and power, whether you like it or not. He hasn’t put out anything yet that I would consider a waste of reading time.

  45. > Because I’m a frugal (my wife refers to me as cheap-ass) guy, I won’t be reading anything on this years list for a few years.
    How to get almost everything nominated for $40:
    1) Become a Hugo award voter. The cheapest way to do this is to become a support member ($40).
    2) Download the Hugo Voter Packet once it is offered.
    3) Read the works, rank them on how good they were, and vote.

  46. I think Alauda is a bit of a liar. He/she/it talks about reading Opera Vita, but “not holding out hope” for the rest of the Selenoth. In trying to validate his opinion, he provides 4 snippets of prose….the only problem is that only one of them is actually found in Opera Vita. Perhaps coincidentally, these same passages are making the rounds among his fellow travelers near-verbatim.

  47. I’ve been posting those snippets since the beginning. It’s not my fault Vox is terrible.

  48. I’m all for judging literary works on their own merit rather than the politics of the author, and it’s always fun to annoy the Social Justice Warrior crowd, but I still think Correia is making a massive mistake in choosing Vox for an ally.
    ‘Provocative’, ‘spicy’ – c’mon people, let’s not beat around the bush here. The man’s a vicious racist. When he was arguing with NK Jemisin he didn’t hesitate to stoop to racially-charged insults. And apparently he’s got issues (and that’s putting it mildly) with women and gays too. Not a nice chap. Frankly I think some conservatives hold back on him just because he hates liberals.
    The SJW’s are going to take Vox, hold him up and say to the unconvinced – “See? This is the old world we’re trying to destroy. People like Correia and other conservatives are defending creeps like this.” It plays right into their hands – I bet at least a few of them are glad this has happened. They couldn’t ask for a more perfect demonstration that Non-SJW SFF = Regressive Awfulness.

  49. Harry, when it comes to “vicious” and “racially charged” insults, there is no doubt there are many more within SFF’s institutions indulging in that on the other side. In fact the other side of that “other side” is pretty much only Day.

    That is not a matter of opinion but actual quotes and facts.

    Using your logic, members of SFF’s highest institutions are not only choosing those SJW bigots as allies, but offering them unflinching support. So I in turn am holding those people up and saying to the unconvinced, “Vox Day? Compared to who and how many, and where?”

    SJWs have issues with men and non-gays. What’s the diff? The diff is numbers. So what’s the dealbreaker here? Well, there is none if you’re using principle and dispassionately using definitions of sexism and racial bigotry. The evidence is stark and plain.

    There is only one Day, and yet the SJWs act as if he’s not only a massive trend but operating from within SFF’s institutions. On the other hand, 50 people actually operating from within SFF’s institutions and constituting a very real and demonstrable trend are claiming “who, me?” It’s a double standard and for every Day they hold up I can hold up 25 of their own.

    The evidence the SJWs present for their supposed homophobic, racist, and misogynistic SFF community depend on things like Jim Hines’ too white photos of SFF convention chairs, Scalzi’s “white privilege” promoted by bigoted intersectional feminists, anomalous creeps at SFF conventions falsely portrayed without evidence as common, male “rape-culture,” anonymous creeps making misogynistic remarks on video-gaming sites, a white demographic in SFF no different from a black demographic in the NBA, not enough reviews of women’s SFF, and literature which defaults to heterosexual in a world 95% heterosexual.

    That’s all a long, long way from making a case for a white racist patriarchal hetero-supremacy. If it were a court case, not only would it be thrown out but the SJWs themselves prosecuted for racism, sexism, and general bigotry.

    Until the SJWs can present me with white SFF web sites, white SFF conferences, SFF anthologies for whites and men only, SFF awards set up to reward male, white or hetero-oriented fiction, recommendations of literature by whites and men, the SJWs have not a leg to stand on. In short, the SJWs are liars and they know they’re liars. That’s why they censor or even shut off comments. They can’t take the heat, much less the evidence and their own bald-faced quotes.

    The facts are that if one took the hate-speech out of the SFF community, it would be a quiet place interested in advocating literature, rather than a sad forum for raggedy man-hating QUILTBAG bigots hiding behind feminism.

  50. Congratulations for making it, Brad!

    Describing Vox Day as challenging and opinionated is total crap, though. The fact that his work made it to the shortlist is a disgrace to SFF culture and fans everywhere, no other word for it. Disparaging blacks, women, homosexuals, minorities etc. is just not ok, not for any reason. I’m very sorry that sane people like you support him the way you do in this post.

  51. Popguy: if by “support him” you mean I don’t automatically treat Vox and his product as radioactive, I guess I’ll have to type up a post on why I don’t believe in the personal politics of radioactivity. Not even for people who may write or say things I find personally morally problematic, or reprehensible. Again, SF/F prides itself on embracing the alien. Vox is just about the most alien presence to grace the Hugo ballot in a long time, and some people are reacting in ways I’d call contra to the mission of SF/F. You don’t have to think Vox is an excellent human people. You may be right that he’s a nasty character. But the issue at stake here is: now that Vox is on the ballot, will people be adult enough to disregard Vox’s polemics and persona long enough to evaluate the actual story? Seems to me a lot of people just can’t do it, and I think this says something (not good) about the mentality of “fandom” overall.

  52. Harry: it’s been my experience that Jemison is no rose herself. She has picked fights before. And never seems to apologize even when her statements or attacks are not warranted, as in the case of someone like Elizabeth Moon. Maybe Vox is the nasty character people say he is? And maybe Jemison is nasty in her own way, it’s just that Jemison has a lot of supporters within “fandom” and Vox does not.

    Do I think Vox has said some questionable things? You bet. But then again, Jemison has said some questionable things too. Her pattern is that of a person who seems to believe she cannot possibly be wrong, and that nobody can question what she says — or at least anyone who questions what she says, ought to be disregarded. Which, frankly, is something Vox can be claimed to be doing as well.

    And some individuals never needed any excuses to cast all conservatives and all of Conservatism in a poor light. I think that’s part of Larry’s point: that even the mildest, most reasonable, most moderate conservatives are not saved from the wrath of the certain people with political chips on their shoulders and axes to be ground. Because to merely be conservative is the chief-most sin. Whether Vox claims conservatvism or Conservativism claims Vox doesn’t matter, because the people who will happily slap a paint roller of disdain across all of Conservativism would do this regardless of Larry or Vox (or me for that matter) because this is how the culture war works.

  53. Popguy, what about disparaging whites, men, and heterosexuals? A different system of rules in play there? By my reckoning you have 13 other nominees who do that on a regular basis. No names for the accused; just skin, gender, and gender expression with immorality attached with a paper clip. Add in a healthy dose of supremacism with some. To me, it’s plainly group defamation and negative profiling – sheer racism and sexism.

    Let’s have no suggestions I am saying whites or men or heterosexuals are oppressed. I don’t believe that and I’m not saying that. This is a question of fair play, civil rights, and the principles stacked behind law.

    What do you say?

    I do not support Day’s remarks, but nothing exists in a vacuum, so I say, “Compared to what?”

  54. @Brad – Oh come on, don’t make that comparison. Vox was very clear – he regards Jemisin as a ‘savage’ not because or her opinions and beliefs, but because she’s black. In his view, she – along with the rest of her race – is simply inferior and should be treated as such, Jemisin may indeed be abusive and be willing to engage in personal attacks, but a racist she is not.
    How far do you want to take this? If Vox had used the N-word would you and Correia still be defending him? Would you still be making the argument that since Jemisin is ‘no rose’ Vox’s racist insult was pretty much par for the course?
    See, if you just wanted to say that Vox’s work should be considered on its own merits, that’s a perfectly legitimate argument. We all enjoy Lovecraft despite his pretty ghastly views on race, for example. So if you just want to say ‘Look, Vox’s views and actions are awful but the work of the creator has to be separated from the creator himself’ go ahead. Roland Barthes and all that.
    But for the love of God don’t try to defend Vox’s appalling racism while you do it, still less draw an equivalence between him and the SJWs. There is nothing there worth defending. I’m with Popguy – totally baffled by your behavior on this. You’re a smart guy – be smart!
    I enjoyed your ‘Lights in the Deep’ ebook, by the way. In particular I thought your essay on why Fantasy is beating SF in today’s world was spot on. And it was nice to read some post-apocalyptic fiction that didn’t make me want to kill myself.

  55. How far do you want to take this Harry? Jemisin asserts white people created “…an ingenious system allowing it to dominate most of the planet. (Diabolical… but ingenious.)” There is a deluge of quotes from Jemisin about white people, 100% of which are negative portrayals. 100%. On what planet do white people, or any ethnic group, suffer such a catastrophic failure of morals and spirit? Jemisin’s rhetoric shows she believes whites are inferior.

    K. Tempest Bradford closed a Twitter argument by referring to a white woman as “cracka ass cracka.” Bradford’s partner in managing the WisCon SF convention’s racially segregated “safer-space” and dinner is Jaymee Goh. Jaymee Goh once complained about the white actor who shouldn’t have played Khan in Star Trek and referred to him as “sour dough-faced.” Goh also wrote “Seems lately every week is white stupidity week. And they complain about a month in a year!”

    There are a string of quotes from Aliette de Bodard that show a disdain for whites, and a superiority over them that is inherent in her identity. When SFF author Sophia McDougall wrote about the casting the new Dr. Who TV show: “…would honestly have thought it had reached the pointwhere it was simply *embarrassing* to cast another white man,” de Bodard replied “yup, I agree. Outstanding actor, but still leaves a sour taste in the mouth.” Like Jemisin, de Bodard’s many quotes where she singles out human beings as white and profiles them are 100% unrelentingly negative. I defy you to find even one that is a positive portrayal. You’ll have plenty to dig through.

    Jemisin, de Bodard, Bradford, and Goh have 100% support from the SJW in the SFF community. I have never seen them called out, nor, I suspect, will you now.

    When it comes to Day, there is a clear “equivalence between him and the SJWs” that is undeniable. Turnabout is fair play.

  56. Whoa! You cannot compare somebody’s remarks about casting a white male to a TV show and Day’s thoughts about blacks (they’re half-savages), women (shouldn’t be able vote) or rape (no big deal). Seriously.

  57. I figured that’s what you’d say Popguy. You’re making excuses to separate what shouldn’t be separated. You’re using identity to separate what principle says is the same act. Apply that to baseball, where an umpire calls balls and strikes according to the race and gender of the pitcher, and baseball would be destroyed in about 2 seconds.

    The truth is that if you take the combined remarks of Jemisin, de Bodard, Goh, and Bradford and change the words from white to black, and you have outrage from the PC. You can buy into that as you wish. I’m not going to have separate standards for the same act, the same rhetoric.

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