So the Hugo Packet is out, and so as always I’m going to look at the nominees. Like last year, all but one of the entries in “best” short story is there illegitimately, as part of a campaign by a neo-Nazi troll to upset science fiction fans, promote his own vanity press, and to promote his vile political beliefs.
Like last year, I will be ranking everything the troll in question got onto the ballot below “No Award”, but in this case I *will* be ranking the works (unlike in the case of “Best” related work), because there are real differences in quality and perniciousness involved.
The only work I will be ranking above No Award is Cat Pictures Please by Naomi Kritzer, which can be read here. I nominated this story of a Friendly AI (non-superhuman variety) myself, and thought it was a lot of fun. Not the best thing on my ballot, but a worthy winner, and fun. I don’t like the idea of the only non-Nazi entry winning by default (and last year I placed even the non-Nazi entry below No Award, because it was very unpleasant), but I liked this on its own merits even before it became the default choice.
Below that will be No Award. Everything else is on the ballot illegitimately.
After that will be Space Raptor Butt Invasion by Chuck Tingle. For those who don’t know, “Tingle” is a strange combination of surrealist comedian and gay erotica writer. The list of other works by him included with the ebook of his story includes Helicopter Man Pounds Dinosaur Billionaire Ass (A Novel); Living Inside My Own Butt For Eight Years, Starting A Business And Turning A Profit Through Common Sense Reinvestment And Strategic Targeted Marketing; Slammed In The Butthole By My Concept Of Linear Time; Pounded In The Butt By My Book “Pounded In The Butt By My Book ‘Pounded In The Butt By My Book “Pounded In The Butt By My Own Butt”’” ; Bigfoot Sommelier Butt Tasting; and Dinosaur Magicians Pinn And Tucker Make Their Wieners Disappear In My Butt. Those are a fairly representative sample of the seventy-one books he’s released in the last eighteen months.
He was included on the Nazi troll slate without his knowledge, as a deliberate “fuck you” by the troll in question.
Unfortunately, “Dr Tingle” has an online persona to keep up, and that persona would never withdraw from the Hugos — which means that he’s still taking up a place that could better be used by someone voted there legitimately. However, he *has* used his place on the ballot to good effect, especially by buying the domain therabidpuppies.com.
As to the story itself, gay space dinosaur erotica is not a genre for which I am the target market. The story simply consists of a few pages of worldbuilding and then a few pages of interspecies anal sex.
The story is, however, told with a certain amount of basic competence and, crucially, without any malice or hatred in it. That puts it far ahead of anything else on the ballot, even though there’s no way this story should actually win the Hugo.
Asymmetrical Warfare by S.R. Algernon can be read here. In this story of space warfare, a starfish-like alien… I’m sorry, I dozed off. I’ll try again. A starfish-like alien that does space war stuff discovers… zzzz….. sorry. Discovers that despite their physical inferiority the hu-mons have an indomitable spirit and oh God I can’t even carry on typing this. It would have been a perfectly fine filler story for a 1940s issue of Analog, but even there no-one would have got anything out of this that hadn’t been done better before. Dull, dull, dull, dull, dull.
Seven Kill Tiger by Charles Shao is in an anthology of military science fiction (zzz… sorry, I dozed off again). Military SF is the most tedious subgenre imaginable, and has never really advanced past Starship Troopers (indeed, many of its practitioners seem to think that the very idea of progress in the arts is evil), and in this case the story is in an anthology published by the Nazi troll himself. I decided to give it a try anyway, because I’m determined to give everything a fair shake.
I got to the fourth paragraph, and read:
What he needed was more Han people. In Zambia alone, there were now 750,000 Chinese living in what amounted to a small colonial city, but they lived in walled enclaves almost under siege from the thieves, robbers, and rapists who preyed upon them daily despite the best efforts of CAIG’s security forces to protect them. The police were useless, worse than useless, actually, as they were often among the worst thieves and sexual predators of all.
He sighed. Africa would be a glorious place were it not for the Africans.
Fuck that. I’m not going to read any more of that racist shit. I would possibly have given the story the benefit of the doubt that the character’s views weren’t meant to be admired, had it not been published by a neo-Nazi (many current “race realists” think of East Asians as honorary white people, including this particular Nazi troll).
And finally there’s a “story” I won’t dignify by naming, published on the troll’s own blog. Not only is it not an SF story in any sense, not only is it on the ballot illegitimately thanks to Nazi trolling, not only is it “anti-SJW” vitriol, but it ends with abusive comments and “joking” death threats to the writer Rachel Swirsky, based on her weight. Thankfully that “story” has not been included in the Hugo Packet, presumably because the administrators were worried about the legality of distributing something so obviously libellous.
So, one genuinely good story, one piece of dinosaur porn that might be someone’s thing if that’s their kind of thing, one barely-competent throwback, and two pieces of absolute vile filth.
If you’re attending WorldCon this year, PLEASE go to the business meeting, validate E Pluribus Hugo, and approve EPH+ and three-stage voting, so that next year we don’t have to face trolls dominating the awards and in 2018 they’ll be totally gone. Then maybe we can get back to reading good stories instead of this utter shit.
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Finally got around to reading ‘Cat Pictures Please’ – what a charming little story. And what an appalling list of fellow nominees.