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Campbell dunking season.

Because ’tis the season, archive.org apparently has a scanned copy of Collected Editorials from Analog, a selection of John W. Campbell’s op-eds collated by Harry Harrison—he’s the guy who wrote the novel Soylent Green1 was very loosely based on—seemingly for the purpose of… dunking on John W. Campbell. Content warnings for the usual Campbell garbage, especially virulent racism.

For the tl;dr version, James Davis Nicoll did a review back in 2014 and, well. The title alone really should give it away.

I mean, y’all know I kinda side-eye so-called “hard” science fiction in general, but… ye-ee-eah. Given that this is the sort of garbage believed in by its so-called “father”…

  1. It’s people! []
2019-08-22T15:46:16+10:0022nd August, 2019|Tags: books, fandom, pop culture, sff|

Ramshackle genre.

John W. Campbell, for whom this award was named, was a fascist. Through his editorial control of Amazing Stories, he is responsible for setting a tone of science fiction that still haunts the genre to this day. Sterile. Male. White. Exalting in the ambitions of imperialists and colonisers, settlers and industrialists. Yes, I am aware there are exceptions.

But these bones, we have grown wonderful, ramshackle genre, wilder and stranger than his mind could imagine or allow.

Jeannette Ng accepts an award.

I was wondering why I was suddenly getting so many hits again on my old John Campbell post

(I’m certainly not the first person to’ve pointed out that Campbell was an asshole, but I think I was kinda the most recent person to point out that the award really shouldn’t be named after him? Either way: still totally should rename that, hey.)

2019-08-20T15:52:53+10:0020th August, 2019|Tags: culture, fandom, hugo awards, pop culture, sff|

Obligatory Hugos winner posts.

So the results are up. Some of you may remember I did some drive-by commentary on some of the nominees (novels, novellas, novellettes, short stories), so… meh. Biggest (pleasant) surprise here is Zen Cho’s win in the novellette category; I really loved that work but didn’t think it would win. So… yay for being wrong on that one.

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2019-08-19T11:30:44+10:0019th August, 2019|Tags: books, fandom, hugo awards, sff|

Adventures in booth manning.

So last weekend was GAMMA.CON, and for my sins I ended up manning the CSFG‘s booth through most of Saturday. We had a shared table with Conflux and it was, uh. An experience. Part of it was possibly the placement; we were up in the back corner near all the sword and prop manufacturers, when we’d probably have been more suited to being in the author’s alley segment. And part of it was straight-up lack of planning; our notification was very, uh. Short. So it was definitely a last-minute scramble to organize things to actually put on the table. We did okay—anthologies were sold, tentaplushies were squeezed—mostly thanks to the arrival of Kaaron Warren, who’s much better at this sort of thing than yours truly.

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2020-05-12T08:38:38+10:005th August, 2019|Tags: books, cons, csfg, fandom, gamma.con, sff|

Punk’s long dead.

Yet I have come to suspect these punk derivatives signal something more than the usual merry-go-round of pop culture. These punks indicate that something is broken in our science fiction. Indeed, even when they reject it, these new subgenres often repeat the same gestures as cyberpunk, discover the same facts about the world, and tell the same story. Our hacker hero (or his magic-wielding counterpart) faces a huge system of power, overcomes long odds, and finally makes the world marginally better—but not so much better that the author can’t write a sequel. The 1980s have, in a sense, never ended; they seem as if they might never end.

[…]

We are still, in many ways, living in the world Reagan and Thatcher built—a neoliberal world of growing precarity, corporate dominance, divestment from the welfare state, and social atomization. In this sort of world, the reliance on narratives that feature hacker protagonists charged with solving insurmountable problems individually can seem all too familiar. In the absence of any sense of collective action, absent the understanding that history isn’t made by individuals but by social movements and groups working in tandem, it’s easy to see why some writers, editors, and critics have failed to think very far beyond the horizon cyberpunk helped define. If the best you can do is worm your way through gleaming arcologies you played little part in building—if your answer to dystopia is to develop some new anti-authoritarian style, attitude, or ethos—you might as well give up the game, don your mirrorshades, and admit you’re still doing cyberpunk (close to four decades later).

Lee Konstantinou on postpunk.

I’ve probably mentioned before that I am endlessly, endlessly cynical about anything with the suffix -punk attached to it, because to me it immediately flags someone as not learning a single damn thing from history.

You know what killed the punks? Like, the original ones?1 Capitalism. That’s always the failure mode of punk; it always sells out, or is appropriated. It’s turned into a marketable aesthetic, into thousand dollar handbags, into liberal communist propaganda for bougie middle-class kids who want to play in the sandpit of rebellion while not, ultimately, doing anything to change a system they know2 will benefit them in the end. And, okay sure. You could make that argument about everything—we live in a late-stage-capitalist hellhole, et cetera—but the fact that we apparently keep recycling this one particular failure mode over and over and over again, with an apparent utter lack of irony, is just frustrating.

Think up a new suffix, kids. Please. And stop retreading the same old paths dressed in different clothes. Trust on this: if you want to get somewhere different, you’re going to have to walk into the scrub.

  1. “Punk’s not dead!” Yeah, okay. And the fact that catchphrase has been around for almost as long as punk itself tells you… what, exactly? []
  2. Or hope. []
2019-02-04T11:42:15+11:007th July, 2019|Tags: books, pop culture, sff|

Ai!

What’s this? A mascot for a (semi) secret new project? Ooh…

Also: yes! I actually inked something! And then cell-shaded it! I, like, never do either of those things but… this turned out okay? There are a few spots I’m not happy with and might revisit eventually before [SPOILERS REDACTED] but, other than that… whee! Crab-robot person! Their name is Ai! Because lawlz obvious jokes.

2019-07-05T12:13:46+10:005th July, 2019|Tags: books, csfg, my art, sff, unnatural order, writing|

Today in Hugo Award wank…

But once a year, like clockwork, the Fan Hugo short list comes out and somehow I can never quite avoid seeing it. When I do see it, I increasingly find a bunch of total strangers who’ve not visibly participated in fandom, and I see red all over again. I will inevitably be told that the failing is in me, that were I to educate myself, I would discover their merit. As often as not, whatever merit is involved, what I actually discover are more neo-pros doing nothing remotely to do with fandom as we know it, or if they do, only in pursuit of making money off us.

Ulrika O’Brien on profiteering [emphasis added].

So it’s extremely no secret that I am… not a fan of the Hugo Awards as they currently exist,1 meaning any time Hugo-adjacent wank bubbles up from the pits of the internet I am totally all the fuck over them! This one is today’s! More under the cut because hoo boy. Long wank is lo-oo-ong!

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  1. Which, incidentally, makes me exactly one of the “fan culture outsiders” O’Brien rants about later on in the article. []
2019-06-27T11:34:09+10:0027th June, 2019|Tags: fandom, hugo awards, sff|
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