Hugo Blogging: “Best” Related Work

As usual, I will be covering as many of the nominated works in the Hugo Awards as I can here. Like last year, several categories in the awards have been destroyed by the Nazi troll “Vox Day” managing to persuade 200 people to abuse the rules, and so “outvote” 4000 other people. Thankfully next year the nomination system will be changed, but for this year we have what we have.

I am writing about the works here before the Hugo Packet becomes available, because in this category (as in a couple of others) the works listed deal with subjects for which people may want a trigger warning — so me covering them without going into details may help people who otherwise would feel obliged to read works which, in some cases, may greatly disturb them. Please note that the rest of this blog post contains mentions of child sexual abuse and incest.

As “Day’s” choices make up all five finalists in this category, and several of them are works from which he benefits financially, I shall be voting No Award in this category, and not ranking them any further. Handily for my conscience, they are all also worthless.

Mark Aramini’s Between Light and Shadow: An Exploration of the Fiction of Gene Wolfe 1951-1986 has been spoken of by one or two people as actually being good. However, it has been published by Castalia House, “Day’s” vanity press, and its author has stated publicly, on multiple occasions, that no other publisher considered it worth publishing, that he didn’t consider it worth self-publishing, and that it would never have got onto the ballot without “Day” cheating it on there. This shows a remarkable self-awareness for a writer who in the same breath will compare himself to Herman Melville, even though by his own actions he has chosen Chuck Tingle and “Wisdom From My Internets” as his peer group. But it does mean that from the author’s own words I have no reason to consider this at all, so I won’t.

The same goes for “SJWs Always Lie” by “Day” himself. He has nothing to say worth saying, as has become more than obvious to anyone who has paid him any of the attention he craves.

“The First Draft of my Appendix N Book” by Jeffro Johnson is the only one of these five that I will link here. Johnson writes for Castalia House too, but there is nothing in his work that is particularly offensive, apart from rants about “political correctness” and similar. It is, however, an utterly tedious work — Johnson going through all the books that inspired the original version of Dungeons & Dragons and looking at them from a gaming-inspired point of view. This might even be worthwhile, if Johnson showed any sign of having any analytical ability, insight, awareness of any literature that *doesn’t* relate in some way to role-playing games, or ability to craft a sentence. Fundamentally Mr. Johnson is just a very, very, very stupid but harmless man who is being used for the second year running by “Day”.

Now we get on to the two pieces that actually require trigger warnings.

“The Story of Moira Greyland” is utterly, utterly heartbreaking. Greyland was repeatedly sexually abused by her parents, who also abused many other children. One of those parents was the fantasy writer Marion Zimmer Bradley. What was done to her is sickening and horrific, and will upset anyone who reads the first half of her post.
The problem is that in the *second* half of her post she argues that her parents abused her because they were gay and believed that everyone should be turned gay by rape during childhood. This may well be what they told her. But she goes on to use this as an argument that all LGBT people, and those in the BDSM scene, and “leftists”, hold the same opinions as her parents and want to behave in the same manner.
What happened to Greyland is utterly, utterly, horrific, and not something I would ever wish on anyone, and one can only hope that the damage she suffered will eventually heal. But that doesn’t make her blog post any less an example of hate speech, and nor does it really even excuse it given the number of abuse survivors who *don’t* turn into bigots.
Given the nondescript title, that blog post is the one reason I’m actually bothering to write about this category — to warn both abuse survivors and people in the communities Ms Greyland attacks that they may be seriously triggered by her post. *I* found it upsetting, and I am a cis vanilla man who has thankfully never directly experienced sexual abuse.

And finally, “Safe Space as Rape Room” by Daniel Eness is a series of blog posts on the Castalia House blog which try to imply that SF fandom is a haven of child molestation, by linking together three actual child molesters in fandom (Bradley and her husband Walter Breen, and the convention organiser Ed Kramer), Arthur C Clarke (who was accused by a tabloid of child molestation, though they later retracted the accusation — he was a victim of the gay=paedophile false equivalence), Samuel Delaney (who has advocated a lower age of consent, as he had what he considers consensual relationships with older men when he was young and considers this not to have harmed him, but who has never himself harmed a child or expressed any sexual interest in children), a director of a low-budget SF film who has no interaction with fandom, and the *son* of a prominent SF author, who has no interaction with fandom and was found to have child porn on his computer more than a decade after his famous father’s death.
The posts try to use sneers and innuendo to suggest that SF fandom is tainted, top to bottom, and is really little more than a pretext for child abuse. Given the paucity of the evidence the posts provide, it pretty much proves the opposite. But along the way it provides enough details of the horrific acts that Breen and Bradley committed that no-one could read it and not feel revolted.
Breen and Bradley’s crimes were real, but they were the exception, not the rule, and their being used to further the aims of Nazi trolls is almost as sickening as their own acts. At least in the case of Greyland’s piece, one can make allowances for the fact that it’s a reaction to her own treatment. Eness’ piece is just pure vicious bile.

My advice to everyone is not to read any of these, not to rank them, and just to vote No Award. But at least now if you choose otherwise, you’ve had some warning.

Castalia delenda est

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18 Responses to Hugo Blogging: “Best” Related Work

  1. misssbgmail says:

    Thanks for posting this. I wouldn’t have read some of these on principle but I might have read the one with the non-decrypt name. Booming that actually seems like a transparent attempt to trigger survivors by Mr Nazipants. What an arsehole

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      Yep — given that “Day” is a big supporter of Roosh V, any pretence that he cares about rape victims is very obviously false. He’s evil.

  2. misssbgmail says:

    NOMMING #damnyouautocorrect

  3. One thing that I think is worth stressing is that tremendous amounts of the actual investigation and reporting that Eness summarizes were done by leftist fandom, which was behind the drive to actually get Dragoncon to divest financially from Kramer and was who spread the word about Zimmer-Bradley. The latter of these is particularly significant, because as horrific as her crimes were, the fact remains that The Mists of Avalon is a book that was beloved by countless people across generations. The people who spread the word about Zimmer-Bradley as her crimes emerged were by and large people who were watching as a childhood hero’s legacy was destroyed. Not right-wing vultures showing up after the battle was fought to score cheap points against their enemies.

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      Quite agreed. Eness’ contribution is merely to try to create an image of a broader pattern by bringing in irrelevancies like Asimov’s son.
      Deirdre Saoirse Moen was the person who did more than anything else to bring Bradley’s crimes to light (to the best of my understanding — I welcome corrections, but that’s how I remember it), and while I haven’t seen anything explicit from her about her politics in the 18 months or so I’ve been reading her blog, she was one of the loudest anti-Puppy voices last year.

  4. john saber says:

    Aramini’s book on Wolfe isn’t good – it’s great. But you might have a point – it isn’t the type of work that should probably be up for a popular award, as it is a specialized and intensive look at Wolfe. It seems more like a Nebula type, but that lacks the category for this sort of thing. Wolfe scholarship would be set back immensely without Marc Aramini. Do you know the story about A Confederacy of Dunces and its publication? Self-publication has changed the world, but regardless the quality of Aramini’s work, eccentricities notwithstanding, it definitely has merit.

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      Again, Mr Aramini himself has said that nobody at all, other than a vicious, stupid, neo-Nazi troll whose publishing house puts out the literary equivalent of the green, frothing, bile that my dog threw up the day after he ate a bit of mouldy kebab off the street, would publish his book. I subjected myself to the excreta from Castalia House last year, and may do so again for some of the other things on the ballot, but when the author admits flat-out that no-one, not even the author himself, other than Beale would publish it, then that is an admission that far from being in the five best books on the subject of SF published last year, it is something that should never have been published at all.

      • john saber says:

        I disagree strongly. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but it is an important look at Wolfe. I believe Aramini was saying that it wasn’t the type of book that would make money, but (outside of the Hugos being a popularity award) that doesn’t make it worthless. His entries on Seven American Nights, The Changeling, and Fifth Head of Cerberus are game changers in discussing those works, and that is but a fraction of the work he has done. I suspect part of this boils down to Wolfe as a popular author. He is respected by a lot of writers, but does he have actual commercial appeal without the allowances Tom Doherty and the late, great David Hartwell made for him? If you don’t like Wolfe, or think he is important to the SF community, then and only then does Aramini’s book become “worthless.”

        • Andrew Hickey says:

          “I believe Aramini was saying that it wasn’t the type of book that would make money”

          That’s not what he said. What he said was “Vox is the only publisher who treated me with any respect, and certainly given the obscurity of my work it would never have appeared on a ballot without him. ”
          He went on to state that Beale’s ballot-stuffing was OK as “the ends justify the means”, and compare himself to Melville.
          Quite simply, that’s not a comparison he gets to make. If he’s chosen to work with Theodore Beale, then he’s chosen his peer group. His peer group is “Space Raptor Butt Invasion” and “Wisdom From My Internets”. By his own admission, the only publisher who respects him is someone who thinks that those two are valuable, award-worthy, work. That makes it worthless *by his own admission, and by his own choice*.
          EITHER someone is doing good work OR Vox Day is the only publisher who respects their work. It really is that clear-cut a divide. You can EITHER have Melville be the category your work falls into, OR “Wisdom From My Internets”. Not both.
          Mr. Aramini has chosen. He has chosen to proudly and publicly state that no-one other than a philistinic pustule on the rectum of humanity considers his work worth publishing. He has chosen to be published by Castalia House, to have his work placed in a list with “Safe Space as Rape Room” and “SJWs Always Lie”, to have that list cheated onto the ballot, because he has such an overinflated notion of his own worth that he cannot cope without the ego-inflation of an award nomination, however unearned, yet he also has such a low opinion of his own work that rather than publish it himself when turned down by multiple publishers, he chooses to have it put out by a neo-Nazi press.
          His work has no legitimate call on my, or on anyone else’s, attention. By his own statements and actions, he has made it clear that this is not a book anyone should read, unless they are so devoid of taste and sense as to think that a man even other Gamergaters consider a pathetic waste of skin is the only discerning judge of literary merit in the publishing world.

        • John says:

          You disagree strongly with THE AUTHOR when he says that every competent publisher and editor told him his work was unpublishable, and that he knows it wouldn’t never have gotten near any “best of the year” lists when considered on it’s own merits?

          • john saber says:

            I am pretty sure after some research Aramini said he thought it belonged on the list but was not widely or well known because it was “obscure”. I don’t have anything invested in this but I know it helped my appreciation and understanding of Gene Wolfe immensely. I have the feeling the author is making excuses for his choice of publisher and probably didn’t try as hard as he let on, honestly, and is just trying to avoid blowback. It is a great work on Wolfe, end of story. Do Wolfe’s books sell well? Well, this will sell even worse.

            If you like Wolfe, read the book. If you have a moral objection to buying anything from Castalia House, maybe the Hugo packet will give you a good idea of his quality analysis.

            • Andrew Hickey says:

              “I don’t have anything invested in this”
              Yet you keep trying to defend a book that even its own author admits is indefensible.
              You’re also, incidentally, a liar, unless there is a *hugely* implausible coincidence here, as ten seconds’ internet research establishes that you are a colleague of Aramini’s — unless, of course, you are Aramini himself using a colleague’s name.

              “I have the feeling the author is making excuses for his choice of publisher and probably didn’t try as hard as he let on, honestly, and is just trying to avoid blowback. ”
              So your defence of him is that as well as choosing to associate with neo-Nazis he’s alo a liar and a coward? This is an… interesting… defence, it has to be said.

              “If you like Wolfe, read the book.”
              No. And how dare you come on my blog and start ordering people about?

              “If you have a moral objection to buying anything from Castalia House, maybe the Hugo packet will give you a good idea of his quality analysis.”
              I not only have a moral objection to buying anything from Castalia House, I have both a moral and an aesthetic objection to reading anything they publish, partly because everything they publish is propaganda for a worldview that is inimical to everything any decent person holds dear, and partly because I object utterly to the idea of wasting the limited number of seconds I have in this life on work that only exists to troll “SJWs”.
              I will be making an exception for some of the other works in the Hugo packet purely so I can warn people of their content, because Beale has made that a concern. I will not, however, be making an exception for Aramini’s work. When an author says his work is unpublishable, and his friends “defend” him by calling him a liar, that’s more than enough of a sign to me that it’s not worth wasting my time and effort on.

          • john saber says:

            His plea was that the work be judged on its own merits, I think. And he was perhaps rightfully torn apart for this, from what I understand.

            • John says:

              Teresa Nielsen Hayden of Tor Books says this about Sadly Rabids and “judging on the merits”:

              I’m also irritated by being asked to give the Pups’ nominees a fair chance. They’ve already had one. Asking for more amounts to special pleading on behalf of the Pups’ preferred works and authors.

              If a Pup-favored book or story was published within the year of eligibility, it has already had the same chance to be read, generate word of mouth, and find its audience, as all the other books and stories published during that time. And if, after having had that chance, it only got onto the Hugo ballot because it was on the Puppy slate, then it’s reasonable to say it didn’t please the readers anywhere near as much as the work it displaced.

              Why should I allow myself to be guilt-tripped into giving the intrusive work an extra-special second chance? It hasn’t earned it. That extra measure of attention is supposed to go to nominees that get onto the ballot by being good.

              Aramini’s work WAS judged on it’s own merits, and he knows it: There’s not a single chance, at all, that it would have made it onto the ballot legitimately.

  5. John says:

    (My apologies if there’s a duplicate comment above: I thought my first comment might have vanished due to a bad set of scripting settings, so I allowed more and reposted. It maybe have just gone into moderation, in which case there’s two of it.)

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      It did go into moderation, so I’ve deleted the dupe. No harm done.
      (Incidentally, just so you know, the “email address” field isn’t there for spamming or harvesting purposes — no-one ever sees them except me, and I forget them — it’s because I have a setting in my blog that once an email address/username combination has been approved, that person’s comments don’t go into moderation. It’s the closest I can get with WordPress.com to a password. I mention this because the email address you’ve provided looks suspiciously like a made-up one (though I still won’t share it with anyone else) and if you plan to comment further you may want to make sure you remember it to avoid further comments getting moderated.)

      • John says:

        I use the same undeliverable email address everywhere for this kind of comment. No risk of forgetting it, but thanks for the warning.

  6. Andrew Hickey says:

    Just in case anyone’s wondering, Mr. Saber has not been banned or blocked or anything of that sort (yet). He’s just apparently decided to stop digging — a rare piece of good judgement for a Rabid Puppy supporter.

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