Mike's Home Page

A few months back I discreetly noted online I needed help for a military support project. This was it.

The issue was that such events require a sponsor. Thinkgeek was the previous sponsor before they got bought out.  The convention needed a new sponsor.

The support agency in question prohibits soliciting sponsors. Now, I get not wanting your units begging for money for social events, but how can anyone support an event if they don't know about it?  Apparently, they're supposed to read minds, volunteer to pay for events, then the event rolls, and the facility makes some money from the concessions (which are used to sponsor other events...just not events in the big hall. Don't ask, I don't get it either.)

I'd asked Jarrod (the host) if it was on again--I last went two years ago--and he explained the bureaucrapcy.  I checked in every week, and nothing. He explained it all again. I nodded.

So right before DragonCon, I pinged him and asked how much he needed to run the event.

"It's not the money," he said. "It's the bureaucracy."

"Yes, yes, I get that, but how much?"

"At least $3000."

"That's all?  I was afraid it was going to be $10-$15,000.  But $3000?  Pfft. I can get you $3000."

He had literally been about to push the button on the post announcing there was no SF convention this year. I told him to wait.

A bunch of sci fi nerds stationed or living in Germany can't have an SF con because some bureaucrat has regulations?  Oh, hell no.

So I went online.  "Guys, I need some help but I need to be discreet."

In two days I'd confirmed about $2500 from Baen  Books, some indie authors (Mel Todd, Darryl Hadfield, Peter Grant https://bayourenaissanceman.blogspot.com/ , and partially pro/partially indie Kacey Ezell), www.vault-of-valhalla.com  and some of my most awesome fans.  Toni at Baen agreed to send a hundred books for me to sign and give away, and print promotional cards for the other authors, even those who don't write for them (Because Baen is amazingly cool like that), and cover my airfare.  I talked to my publicist at Baen, Corinda, who used to also sing backup for Bruce Springsteen, and she drafted a letter using the precise language they needed, and emailed it to the precise person.

Who smelled a huge womp rat, but couldn't do anything except thank everyone for their sponsorship and tell Jarrod it was a go.

There was some shortage, some mismatch, a few hundred, but screw it, I can help keep this thing going.

The convention was ON!

This event is cursed for me.  I've attended several times, and everything bad has gone wrong for me.  Food poisoning, a cracked tooth, flight errors, flight delays...oh, yes, flight delays.

This year, I got to the airport on Thursday, in plenty of time for my flight, which was delayed, delayed and cancelled, because JFK airport had snow and couldn't get its head out of its fourth point of contact.

Delta tried very hard, mostly, to fix this. They re-routed me through Atlanta, and even put me on standby for two earlier flights...both of which were swamped by other delayed passengers.  Basically, everyone on the earlier flights got boned.

Then my scheduled flight was delayed.  So I approached the desk to a woman named "Faty," who seemed to be a recent immigrant from Africa, with not great English skills. I explained my flight to Atlanta was going to make me miss my connection.  She glanced at the ticket and said, "You reach Atlanta at 1115 pm. Next passenger please."

Yes.  1115...45 minutes AFTER my flight for Europe leaves.

I went to another desk.  I explained the problem, and that I had flexible workarounds.  I could fly into Amsterdam, or even Luxembourg, Brussels, or in emergency, Antwerp.  My driver could make those work.  From this end, I could even drive to Cincinnati  or Louisville, if there was time.

He went looking, and called over the manager, Tia, who was busy putting out about 1000 other fires. She had me follow her to three different desks, very apologetically and working multiple issues, then determined she didn't have authority to change destination, and connected me to the toll free number.

The young man there was badly frazzled, and had trouble tracking all I said. But, said he couldn't get me anything Thursday, but for Friday he could get me to Luxembourg via Amsterdam by 11 am.

No, that's too late, but when does it reach Amsterdam?

0545.

Then let's just do that.

So, I was going to have to drive to South Bend, about 3 hours, park probably at a friend's house, fly to Detroit, then Amsterdam, then Luxembourg.

No, no, forget Luxembourg, once I get to Amsterdam I'm fine.  But why can't I fly out of Indy?

No flights. And oh, the Amsterdam flight just booked.

I hung up, called Jess, told her the entire thing was a cancellation.  I started walking out and realized I had luggage, so I headed for the quiet end of the terminal where the direct flight to Paris had just left...which would have let me get to Amsterdam on Friday.

I was still on the phone and asked the gentleman there how to retrieve my luggage, since I was cancelling. He started digging, and overheard me explain the schedule incompatibility to Jess.

He said, "Oh, I can get you to Amsterdam. Hold on.  Yes...no....maybe...yes...yes...it's kinda like a dance here, some forward some back...yes...no...there we go.  You leave here tomorrow at noon for Detroit, leave Detroit at 4 pm and Amsterdam at 0545 Saturday."

That would JUST leave 4 hours to drive to Spang and arrive before 1000. 

And I wondered why the other guy couldn't find the IND departure. It seemed he'd managed to put a hold on an Amsterdam seat for me, then leave the screen and come back to find it blocked, then it aged off.

Either way, this last guy was a genius.

 

I left the luggage there, tagged to follow the flight, and went home. Nine hours and Didn't Even Leave The Airport.

Friday, Jess had to drop me off before work at 0830.  Long, long before my flight.

By the way, IND has very polite, efficient security, and has since before TSA, and in fact as far back as 1990, the first time I flew out of there. They actually search things that need searched--boots, is that actually a watch, backpacks with weird items, and don't harass people over BS. I was through in under 10 minutes.

And waited.

Then my flight was delayed...but not enough to be a problem.

Got to Detroit, and my departure gate was only 3 gates down. Flight was on time. So I got some sushi from a place I last ate at in October 2005.

 

Not unexpected good news: with a healthy tailwind, we were to get in at 0515.

Long overnight flights suck.  I'm tall, moderately broad in the shoulders, don't sleep well sitting up, and I'd already been up for the entire day.  

Delta did good again. My bag was 5th on the belt after all that rigamarole. Well done, guys. Thanks.

My friend Werner is used to parking to meet me. He couldn't find Arrivals. He told me he was at Departures. I couldn't find that because the signage sucks.  It's in English, but the arrows are not clear. We both had the same landmark, but couldn't get on the same level.

A local driver overheard me cussing into the phone, asked if he could help, took the phone, chattered to Werner in Dutch, and got me directed where I needed to go.

So the half hour slack got eaten up.

We tossed my luggage into his company car and started driving for Germany, which is no further from there than Chicago is from me--Europe is small.

Apparently he got a speeding ticket on the way. I'll help with that.  Though we did have slack time.  Netherlands roads are in excellent repair and the speed limit is 130 km in rural areas.  It was Saturday morning, so we didn't have much traffic to worry about. The $8/gallon gas was irritating, but covered on his work account.

I ate a sandwich on the way, tried to sleep but couldn't.  Listened to some of Larry Correia's Monster Hunter International audiobook.

Then we got into Germany, who, taking a lead from Illinois, closes dozens of mile of highway lane and leaves the whole thing closed while they slllllowwwlllly get around to fixing it. And drop the speed limit to 70 km.  So there went 6 minutes of our slack.

Spangdahlem AB is doing repairs to the main gate, so we had to drive 3 miles around to the rear gate, where they were supposed to have a list of off-post guests. They had me, and I have retired military ID anyway. They had to check Werner against the list, so they told us to pull to the side while they checked.

We called Jarrod (the event manager) and confirmed there was a list.

Two other cars joined us.

The SP kept waving other cars through.  Nothing from the guy inside the shack.

A break in traffic. Still waiting.

Another spate of cars and another break.

At this point, it was after 10, the event was starting, I was the guest, and we were still waiting at the gate.

I got out and politely approached.

And the SP tells me, "Yes, we can't find him on the list so you'll have to turn around, drive all the way back to the main gate to pass and ID, get him cleared there, then drive back here."

I am a retired NCO.  I became very polite. That may mean something to some of you.

First, they should have had a way to do Pass and ID at the gate, if the main one was closed for some duration.

First, if you knew this 10 minutes ago, why didn't you come over at the first break in traffic, or wave to us to come over, and explain it then?

First, since you know what the event is, and the list you DO have has a contact number, why didn't you call that?

I did state that I found it very unprofessional, and walked back to the car. We called Jarrod.  He had an NCO from Security Forces with him at the event, who said he'd have it fixed momentarily, just as the gate SP came over whining about just trying to do his job (there's always that one guy, and he was wearing a fleece jacket with no name or rank, so I have no idea who he was, and definitely needed a shave, and didn't look like the kind of troop who needs a shaving waiver for health issues). We had the phone on speaker, he was instructed, he waved us through.  We know the base and where the rec center is, we drove and parked.

OKAY, WE ARE AT THE CONVENTION! Holy crap, what a nightmare getting there.

While I was setting up at my table, the Mission Support Group commander was standing there personally to thank me, and the others on behalf, for making it possible.

Jarrod announced the convention was starting, introduced the other activities, including the German 501st Legion contingent, and then introduced me, and noted that Baen and I had made the event possible.

There were some very happy people.

Attendance was low again due to deployments, but those there were very enthusiastic. There was a little girl costumed as a most excellent Madhatter, and a pair as Ladybug and Cat Noir. Stormtroopers (And when I hear them speaking in German, there are just some obvious jokes that you DARE NOT TELL in Germany), steampunkers, movie trivia, gadgets, cartoons.  Some local and retired military vendors with books, gadgets, hand-burned boxes, movie memorabilia. A pocket-sized, one day convention.

 

 

 

 

I did in fact sign and give away all 118 books to grateful readers.

The Force Support Squadron commander came over and thanked me personally.

The Wing Vice Commander came over and thanked me.

I get the impression everyone wanted this event to be a thing except some money-grubbing pencil pusher in a certain DoD support agency.

Jarrod advised us not to leave base until the end, because there could be more BS getting Werner back on, even though he was theoretically on the list, they had his passport on file, and he'd attended things like this a half dozen times before.  So we ate at the cafe in MWR. It was okay, I guess.  At this point I'd been awake 32 hours.

We had a 4 room apartment in Temp Lodging for the night, and I slept in two blocks of about 6 hours each. In between, no internet, which happens a lot, but in this case was because I had the modem turned off and was too loopy to notice.

Once up in the morning, we went to www.MomsPlace.de in the village of Spangdahlem for brunch.  Yes, I had beer and pizza for breakfast. In Germany.  Good beer, good pizza. Everything I've ever eaten there is good.  The steak, the chicken, the pork, the venison, the dessert, the beer.

That little bundle of houses to the far right is Spangdahlem.

 

From there, back to the Netherlands. Rotterdam.

Werner was unfortunately widowed earlier this year.  Kathy beat brain cancer two falls out of three.  But cancer only has to win once.  He and the twins are recovering amazingly well. 

His father-in-law had the twins, who seemed to remember me.  Michael said hi and kept to himself. Gabriel told me all about his legos and Star Wars and figures.  In Dutch.  He speaks a bare handful of English at 5 years old, about as much as I speak of Dutch. But both are low Germanic languages, and with context, it's possible to figure out the discussion or a TV show.

Werner works at the port of Rotterdam, so he speaks his native Dutch, English for work, French, German, and bits of Italian and Spanish.  I also speak bits of all these. Small bits. Enough to ask "Wo ist de toilet?" " Dov'è il cibo?" and, " Ik ben verdwaald," for example.

I didn't sleep well at his place. My clock was way off.

My plan had been to look at a couple of castles for research purposes. Unfortunately, they'd switched to weekend hours only on Nov 1, with no long term schedule on their site. (This is common in Europe. Old castles/cathedrals/structures are just old buildings. What's the big deal?)  So that was off.

I'd planned to meet one of my German fans, Kristin, whom had become a fan after my first trip over for this, and had taken my card, looked up my books, found me on Facebook and not been terrified of my presentation. Unfortunately, she was off, her husband was working, and she didn't want to drag two small kids four hours. Yeah, these things happen.

I did see the aquarium at the Strand in Den Haag.  It's a nice aquarium. I did learn a few things. I think E17 was a bit much to pay for what I saw.  They did have good cocoa, though. At 5 more Euros. The place is expensive.

 

I did see a Dutch gun store. The owner had a couple of beautiful antiques. I asked, and he said pics were okay, but he wasn't going to take them out of the case.  I showed him an image of my revolver collection, and he seemed to think it was a challenge and claimed to have more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Actually, no, he didn't.  And my point was to share the awesomeness, not play one up.

Given the laws there, it doesn't say "GUN STORE" anywhere.  It does say, "Airsoft shooting," and such. And they have a live range inside.  The entrance is around back, you have to be buzzed in. The prices are high by our standards, and the selection limited. Apparently, until 1990 you could have quite a few guns, and owners were officially militia, expected to perform rear echelon guard duties if needed, which is reasonable. Now it's 5 guns for target shooting, or 6 for hunting, but you can't use the same guns for each.  Only one shooting club is official and the gov't makes the rules around those, so for IPSC equivalent, you have to RENT pump shotguns from dealers, who can have them, even though they don't allow them for other target shooting or hunting.  Which is both bizarre and stupid.

Antique, disabled guns can be displayed.  Airsoft have to be kept out of sight and locked up, and can't be used where anyone could see them and get scared. It's rather sad.

Werner and I went across the street from his place for Argentine steak. It was a decent steak. I don't think it was a E55 steak, even with the mushrooms, dessert and water. (There's no free water at restaurants in most of Europe. It's all bottled and you pay for it.)

I slept reasonably well Monday night, then was nearly nauseous by the time I landed in Detroit, 4 pm my time, 10 pm Europe, and no way to sleep properly.

Then Indy then home, with no issues.

The important thing was that the German-stationed troops got their SF convention and had a good time. We'll start planning now for the next one, though I may give some other guest the honor of attending so I can rest.

 

Here's the scenario.  You're running an event, and on TWITter or Fecesbook, someone calls out a guest and states, "I wouldn't feel safe with this person at the con!"

You must immediately ban this person from the convention.

No, not the guest. The person making the public scene.

Here's why:

This person is arrogating a lot of significance to themselves. The statement assumes that the guest in question either knows this person or will seek them out, and has time allotted for the purpose of interacting with them, any desire to do so, and such interaction must be negative. All of which are almost certainly utterly false assumptions.

For myself, it doesn't matter to me one way or the other how the complainant feels. Their statement alone makes it clear that interacting with such a person is of utterly no interest or consequence to me. I can find much better people to interact with. Actually, let me rephrase that: I can find PEOPLE to interact with.

In fact, they're almost certainly well aware they're perfectly safe, and attempting to drive political opposition into the shadows.

Well, no one ever accused Nazis of honesty.

Furthermore, they've passively-aggressively created an interaction where none existed.

They have, in fact, created an interaction with the guest, and an interaction with you, in a public scene.  Imagine if they walked up to you (or the guest) at the con, and shouted, "STOP HARASSING ME!"

You must assume their intent is to lay groundwork to CREATE a scene they can attempt to blame the guest, or you, for.

In reality, no professional should feel safe with such a person at a convention, and since the professional is the draw, not the nobody, the nobody should be immediately banned for the safety of the guest, the staff, and the other attendees.

Because, if you actually have a legitimate issue with someone, here's how it is handled, speaking from experience.

Most conventions ask their guests in surveys, privately, "Is there anyone you don't want to be on a panel with?"

I have a very short list of people who I simply can't get along with. If the convention wants to put them on a panel, I can do a different one. No harm, no foul.

There was one time when I did have a legitimate legal issue with another person (long resolved, it was merely administrative).  What I did was contact the event PRIVATELY, inform them of the issue, and tell them, "This person is not to approach my booth, and I will not approach theirs.  I do not anticipate trouble, but if they enter my booth I will shout for security at once as a safety measure for us both."

In one case, I actually was harassed by an individual whose stated purpose in showing up at the con was to harass certain "conservatives," me among them, even though I am not conservative. I went quietly to Con Ops, explained the issue, and the individual was informed not to approach me or my family again.

In no case did I whine like a worthless fucking attention whore to the world, pointing a finger like a body snatcher and shrieking like an angry toddler.

As we've seen at least three times now, knuckling under to this type of crybully is like trying to appease a toddler or terrorist.  Once you give in once, you have delegated veto power to them and the TWITter dogpile.

At which point, the reasonable (non-public) response may become public itself, thus giving you...instant controversy.

Your only rational, immediate response to avoid "controversy" is just to ban the person making the public scene. They've already told you by this action that they intend to cause trouble for at least one of your guests and that guest's followers.

"I wouldn't feel safe with this person at the con!"
"We're sorry you feel that way.  Here's a full refund.* We hope to see you at a future event."

Then stop responding. You'll only give attention to an attention whore.

Having seen this happen to guests at least three times, any future guest invitations I accept will involve a signed cancellation clause and a cash penalty for doing so, because once a guest has made arrangements for your event, they can't schedule something else, and you're eating up their writing/art/production time. They are there for YOUR benefit, not you for theirs. In my case, I currently have three novels, a collection, an anthology, all contracted, another novel offer, three on spec, an article request, three short stories and a lengthy stack of products to test and review, and an entire summer of professional bookings. I have a not-quite four year old and a teenager. Don't waste my time then roll over for some worthless whiner.

 I encourage all other pros to implement the same policy. My attorney has a sample you can use.

*Assuming they've even reserved space or intended to, rather than just harassing your convention for "justice," as happened at least twice.

The guests are professionals. It's time the conventions started acting the same way.

ADDENDUM: I was contacted this morning (May 16, 2018 ) by a convention who is proactively taking this step. Of course, they're the type of convention for whom this would never be an issue. Which is why they're confident taking it.

Best Anthology Award!
Jan 18, 201812:01AM

Category: Writing

http://critters.org/predpoll/final_tally_antho.ht

Forged in Blood, Best Anthology, Preditors and Editors readers' poll.

The credit belongs to the amazing group of authors who wrote it. It was an amazing experience to work with all of them.

On behalf of them and myself, thank you very much.

Best. DragonCon. Ever!
Sep 06, 201701:21AM

Category: Writing

As a vendor, sales were amazing. While I do have some competition on cosplay grade swords, I'm the only one with both functional replicas and actual antiques. There are, in fact buyers for such at an event of this magnitude.

As a writer, I saw an upcoming anthology that listed my name right below David Drake's, and I was on a panel about "Real SF for Writers" that involved me, Timothy Zahn, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle.  I can only hope that some day all of this will pay off to being a "real" writer who can dare to hope to be invited to literary conventions.

Both girlfriends were with me, and someone not clear on what that meant asked me, "Isn't that dangerous if they meet?" No, not at all, since we were all in the same room. How does that work, you ask?  Wonderfully. Thanks for asking.

There were some amazing cosplays, including Teenage Mutant Stormtrooper Turtles with kilts, a Deadpool/Assassin's Creed/Jedi mashup, and someone doing a great Randy Savage outfit.

I tried some new to me Scotches.

Off site, I got to show off my cape gun and a Lefaucheux 12mm pinfire to several writers who also share an interest in firearms.

There was a mass signing for Black Tide Rising, AND for Forged in Blood. The latter with myself, Larry Correia, Mike Massa, Chris Smith an Kacey Ezell.

I may have a paid interview gig on SF for another outlet.

The drive back wasn't too bad on top of that.

No food poisoning this year.

Already booked for next year.

It is good advice for any writer to look for patterns in reviews.  If a number of readers all complain about the same matter, even if their interpretation is incorrect, it means the writer either did not explain the issue properly, or failed to reach the correct audience.

At the same time, a reader should comprehend the subject or genre enough that axiomatic issues don't need to be explained because they are axiomatic.

To see an example of this, we need look no further than modern "liberal" science fiction readers and Heinlein's novel, "Friday."

I first read this in high school, and understood it on several levels.  But, as of the mid 1990s, I've heard repeated complaints, most of them around the assumption, "No woman falls in love with her rapist."

Well, first of all, women do that all the time, and with non-sexual abusers, too. There are a variety of psychological discussions as to why this is, but they're outside of my field and beyond the scope of this post.

The important point, and Heinlein was not at all subtle about it, is that Friday is not human, she is an alien.

She is an Artificial Person, required in every society in her world to carry ID stating so, and discriminated against in levels from being forbidden to vote or own property, all the way to slavery or sanctioned extermination.  Due to her job as a clandestine agent, she has fake ID that says she's human, and she's well aware of the privilege she holds over others of her kind, and is ashamed and guilty about it.

She is so very aware of her non-human, unperson, unclean status that even the act of being raped and tortured doesn't bother her emotionally.  It's just a thing, like getting wet in the rain or having debris fall on you. Artificial entities that are not people don't feel emotion, or so she's had beaten into her her entire life.

Except of course, at another level, she actually is human, and is grasping at personality and self worth.

It's a constant matter of discussion for the character. "How do you feel about Artificial Persons?" She could as well, within the last century, asked about gays, Jews, blacks, and the question would be as relevant.  She asks this because she looks like a "normal" human being, and is, as are the others, even when a society doesn't recognize that.

Her boss/father figure constantly reassures her she is normal and human.  She's genetically engineered to the point where she is smarter, faster, stronger, fitter and more durable than almost anyone around her, but this vulnerability is the vulnerability of spirit, and no amount of labwork can fix or prevent that.

Further, the rapist she eventually falls in love with was himself both an Artificial Person, and a slave, being ordered to perform the task. It's made very clear he isn't happy with it, and would like to treat her decently, but is forbidden the opportunity.  He also is not "human" for purposes of the society.

Nor was Heinlein particularly subtle about it. Every chapter has an interaction with a family, partner, friend, associate on how frustrated she is at not being human, not being accepted, considered a thing, only of worth as a machine to be used and discarded.

The failure of readership is that despite the very obvious presentation of a character as an outsider to the society, not only unsuited to it, but ostracized by it, all those particular readers see is "female body, ergo female human."

Exactly the same issue so many of them claim to care about and rail against in other contexts.

They are literally so privileged they are unable to grasp the point of view of the underclass even exists, much less what it is.

This supports an hypothesis of mine that most such "social justice" types are themselves exceptionally shallow, narrow-minded bigots.  When something even more blatant than "Friday" comes along, and they are forced to be aware of their own human failings, they over-react, as does the reformed alcoholic or druggie who suddenly "Finds God" and obsesses over religion (versus faith or piety) to the point where it's apparent it's merely a substitute addiction.

Once aware of their own failings, their form of denial is to project their shortcomings onto all "normal" people, who obviously feel as they do, about those "non-normal" people they suddenly realize were in fact human beings all along.

If anyone dares to say, "Yes, I knew about this, and your sudden obsession is disturbing," they still struggle with their own internal ignorance, reluctant to accept their error, and can only assume their antagonist must not actually grasp the wrongness.

When I began writing this, my thought was, "These people shouldn't read science fiction. They're obviously incapable of comprehending it."

But I think instead, they should read science fiction, rather than the crap they have replaced it with, where every culture and cast is stratified into the "correct" ratio and recognition.

Because that type of society is exactly the problem, and they still don't get it.

 

 

And I wasn't even sure how to respond:
 
Michael,
You may remember me from a few years back when we shared dinner together in Atlanta Ga during Dragon Con. I really enjoyed our meeting and learned that I should NEVER accept a table next to the waitstaff station. No matter the case, this year I was in the hospital hoping to die, and your book "Rogue" gave me what little hope I have. I was well prepared to end my life, but your character not ending his because he felt responsibility to his daughter gave me pause. I will live a few more years because you created a character who would not abandon his child. I thank you for the lesson.
Very respectfully,
 
[redacted]

New Book Now, More News Later
Sep 22, 201511:49PM

Category: Writing

I need to catch up on a few things, now the panic season is over.

First, new book:  

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B015P8FFI8?ie=UTF8&tag=wwwmichaelzwi-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B015P8FFI8

A contemporary mystery written by Travis Clemmons, with me as co-author.  

A man awakens in a 21st century Illinois hospital, holding very distinct memories of being shot in Switzerland decades earlier. The nurse calls him Detective Crabtree and says the DuPage County Sheriff will be by to check on him shortly. Yet he remembers his name being Sherlock Holmes. 

~~~

It's on Kindle for now, and may be in hard copy later.

NO AWARD
Jul 13, 201509:13PM

Category: Writing

I have just voted NO AWARD across the board for the Hugo awards, including the category in which I am a finalist.

At one time, the Hugo WAS arguably the most significant award in SF, with the Nebula being the pro award with a different cachet.

The Nebula lost any credibility when it was awarded to If You Were An Alpha Male My Love, which was not only eyerollingly bad Mary Sue, but wasn't SF nor even an actual story. If that's what the pros consider to be worthy of note, it indicates a dysfunction at their level.

As for the Hugos, in the last twenty years or so, they've been less and less awarded for either literature or entertaining storytelling, and more and more awarded for trite fanfic.  When not, it's been the same incestuous group awarding it within a circle of in-people, to the point where there are winners with literally 50 nominations and 30 wins.

This is just ridiculous.

There was some push back this year, and one could argue about the merits of doing so, or the merits of the works in question.

Instead, what has happened has been egregious ad hominem to the point of Godwin failure (Referring to us as "neo-Nazis") followed by false apologies ("I'm sorry it upset you to be called a neo-Nazi"), defense of the false apologies by alleged professionals in the use of language, with simultaneous denial that apologies were necessary or even actually took place (we agree. No apologies were actually made).

One former winner, whom I feel did in fact deserve his award, piled on to the point of equating us in exact words to domestic abusers, which is not only egregiously ridiculous, it is morally corrupt and a gross insult to actual victims and survivors of domestic abuse. Including me.

Another suggested we should create our own award, separate but equal, and then betrayed his position by failing to know anything about other SF awards.  Perhaps we can have a Civil Award, that will be like a Hugo, but not like it, preserving the sanctity of the Hugo for the trufen.

The sheer, frothing, irrational vitriol aimed at us makes it clear that content will not be considered.  We are Unclean, and many have stated they will not even look at our works.

Sadly, there are quite a few nominees this year who genuinely deserve awards for their work and creativity, including other members of my own category.

And perhaps someday, an award will come along that reaches the standards of credibility and accolade their works deserve.

But at present, no such award exists.

This was my choice.  I am not telling my fans not to vote for me. If you feel my work is worthy, by all means vote for it. Just understand that if I win, it will be subject to the same scathing derision I give to any and all social and political issues.  It deserves no less.

 

Challenge Delivered
Apr 21, 201512:18AM

Category: Writing

Dear Fellow writers, particularly in SF:

My first novel featured a female lead, bunches of mixed race characters, and a positive portrayal of a sex worker who was a bisexual Asian/Hispanic.

I then wrote a trilogy where one of the two leads was black.

I stuck a female into a special ops team in a functional role.

More mixed race, discussions of reproductive choice, and of the excesses of Fascism.

The richest, most powerful person in my main universe is a mixed Asian/African/European woman. EDIT: And one of the recrurring supporting characters is transgender.

I've written atheists, Muslims, fundamentalist Christians, people with medical and physiological handicaps, Pagans, and others I don't keep track of, because I think of people as individuals, not stereotypes.

More importantly, my readers, of every one of those demographics, have written me fanmail about the accuracy and positiveness of those character portrayals.

So, unless and until you've done the same, take your statements about "ultraconservative," "right wing," "Read less white males" and "privilege," and shove them up your ass.

Then write the story where that was a pleasurable and positive learning experience for you.

I Remain
Apr 16, 201501:48AM

Category: Writing

Today, two writers pulled their names off the Hugo ballots.

Cited was the indirect association with Vox Day, who may be the most hated man in SF. Also cited was the harassment they were obviously getting.  They each expressed their thoughts differently on these.

On the second:  Congratulations, "tolerant" "liberals," especially those of you with multiple chrome phallus statues. You've successfully protected your precious award from a gay woman and an immigrant.  You just keep on talking about tolerance.  We hear you.

As to the first:  I very much sympathize with the writers' positions. It's not easy taking flak for someone else who deserves it, even if it's misplaced.

However, this behavior is dangerous.  

It gives Vox more control over the Hugos.  All he has to do to prevent someone winning is have his psychophants (sic) nominate them, and they have to withdraw in shame.  And he can even endorse someone AFTER they're balloted, and there will be a pall over their win.

Also, if his endorsement was genuine (He IS a sci fi fan, after all), then you've narrowed the number of potential candidates his fans will vote for, thus increasing the odds another of his nominees will win.

Yes, he's a troll and an asshole.  He trolled SFWA into removing him, even though per their own bylaws the officers have no authority to do so.  He might be planning a lawsuit as we speak.  NEVER think you can win against a man like this.  He is narcissistic, vicious, and an expert at manipulation.

The only way to win is not to play.  If his endorsement was serious, then it's still real. You can't control the personalities of people who read your work.  If he was trolling, you're playing into his hands.

Participants:  Ignore the man. Vote as your conscience dictates, on the quality of the work, only. To do otherwise gives him what he wants.