Hugo Nominations

My PIN still hasn’t shown up, but I’ve been formulating my nomination list. Last year was banner harvest for fans of SFF; a lot of new work from favorites and even some re-issued works (KSR’s California triptych performed by Stefan Rudnicki, for instance) which are eligible under new categories.

At this point in the game, I remain cautiously optimistic. But this may be because of the chronic toxicity that usually erupts within fandom around February. I came into this year’s award season expecting little; I imagined I’d make my nominations quietly.

Jim C. Hines has yet again done a bang up job of consolidating the facts while providing a cogent analysis of the issues. Seriously, these posts just might deserve a nomination for “Best Related Work” if only because they’re bringing together so many disparate pieces of a complex puzzle.

I’ve read much of the officially remastered Sad Puppies public image. Despite the change in leadership coupled with their kinder, gentler, more inclusive choice in words, I can’t help but wonder, if broadening SFF’s reach is really your goal, why associate yourselves with a brand that has consistently been used to narrow that same audience? Sure, the name “Sad Puppies” is convenient, it has a following, but, much because of this, their attempts at inclusiveness feel a lot like a positive spin campaign waged on behalf of the Klan. I guess I should be happy the official SP4 campaign is intent on collection nominations instead of calling names (still they’re having such a hard time avoiding the toxic behavior that got them into so much trouble in the past).

I guess I should be happy the official SP4 campaign is intent on collection nominations instead of calling names (still they’re having such a hard time avoiding the toxic behavior that got them into so much trouble in the past).

As I mentioned, I’m still trying to secure the tools necessary to cast my nominations. At the same time, I’ve been noodling over who-I’m-going-to-put-up-for-what, and that napkin list is starting to develop nicely. But it’s not done. All this means I’m in no hurry to cast or publish my list; the gods of the internets and ‘Merican “taste” forbid that anything on it might be labeled “message fiction.”

All the while I’m holding my breath, waiting for the flash point that we just can’t seem to get around. All its ever taken is for one habitually disgruntled author or fan soaked in the noxious broth of his self-delusion to decide there is a line between him and the rest of fandom. A line that should be demarcated with a wall. A wall that must be defended. A defense that is maintained by flinging stinking dead cow-bombs beyond their border at anyone “misguided” enough to like something they don’t. What-the-fuck-ever!

Despite owning a full-access ticket to last year’s WorldCon, I chose not to attend. Big conventions are a challenge for me. I end up having to pace myself, and often I find that internally I’m left wondering what you all must think of me. An efficient thought-loop generating machine; conventions are maddening to the point that, in the three years since my last seizure, the few times I’ve been nearest reoccurrence have been at conventions. But missing last year has also left me feeling regret. Friends and allies galore went, and I did not.

I did not go because of a potential run-in with the toxic fraction of this insular little world. The rhetoric and cow-tossing got turned up, way up, as the day approached and I let my hotel room and ticket languish.

Right now, I’m considering the possibility of making the trip. I could upgrade my ticket, find a seat on a plane, get a room. All the things. But then there is that potential, the idea that we’ve been historically unable to avoid the flash point.

Advice

130109_mountain_runners5

Yesterday evening, while attending my local writing group, the advice started pouring. A perfect storm of what I needed to read, who I needed to follow, in order to write a breakout novel. What I needed to do in order to achieve my goals with DISTANCE. Everyone was well-intentioned, no doubt, but once I got home and started going over my notes, I felt randomized. Like a few wheels had slipped the track somewhere down the line, and my train was dragging to a halt on under the strain of the extra drag.

Later, I spent some time talking with a friend, mostly about the first couple of chapters. His advice was concrete, easy to understand, and given the arc and direction of the story made sense. It was specific, and it advanced DISTANCE further down the tracks because it was a simple matter to integrate it into the writing process.

I’ve concluded that writers need feedback during the development of a work. I certainly do. We write alone, but we refine in a public crucible. This is one of the few professions I can think of where other people’s early opinions prove critical to the development of the final product. I’m drawing an image in mind’s eyes’ of others so it is useful to know that my sketches cross the void that separates us from one another. Engineers, on the other hand, design something THEN test that thing. While they’re hunched over the draft board, however, they’re not interested or concerned about what anyone thinks of their process. In fact, it’s likely outside inputs may destroy their eventual effectiveness.

Given the above, I’ve become very discerning when I get outside inputs. Like most writers, I’ve developed a pretty good understanding of what I want to do. Even good, pertinent counsel can distract from my end goal.

So it goes, that last night, I came to another realization. Writing a “breakout novel” is not my goal. This sort of encouragement is nudging me off the rails. Knowing this, I can easily disregard well-intentioned advice which seeks to push my work in the wrong direction.

Yeah, having a breakout novel would be great. And, while I acknowledge that some people enter into the writing process with this as an end goal, it has nothing to do with the story I want to tell. Much like winning an award or holding a lottery ticket with all the right numbers the “breakout” is a potential end benefit.

I’m sticking to the plan.

 

The When Question

Hugo2

The when question I briefly nagged about last week has been answered. So, we all have a date. And, if like me, you’re one of those people that spent last year’s award season shaking your head and mumbling “what the hell,” you now have a deadline for doing something about it. That’s right, you have between now and next Sunday at midnight to finance a minimum of a supporting membership to be part of both the 2016 Hugo nominations and voting.

Despise slate voting? Enjoy slipping thorns into the paws of Sad Puppies? Want to do something concrete and measurable to save Science Fiction? Now is your chance.

Walk to School: New Wattpad short

Zeo Ranger 3: Blue by DavidFernandezArt

I just published a new piece of short fiction to my Wattpad collection Dispatches from the Future (B-list). It’s free and early indications are that you’ll likely enjoy it.

I am the eldest member of three brothers, consequently much of my childhood memory is gendered male. Added to this, both of my children are also boys. The vicarious nature of being a parent, for me at least, has been colored with boy Crayola. Walk to School is a brief examination of all this set in a dystopian future where the average person carries an assault weapon to the grocery store.

Which brings me to the picture above, in the Power Ranger’s world there were many, many monsters. The bad guys seemed to show up everywhere, all the time as if they’re a common, everyday sort of occurrence. I always wondered, when my oldest would sit down and fixate on his favorite ninja like defenders, why everyone didn’t walk around in transforming power suits. Clearly there’s an escalation of technology going on in this world and if that’s the case then the good guys are losing.

Walk to School is what life looks like after we’ve lost.