Fisking the Guardian’s Village Idiot Again

tariencole:

And now that you’ve read my take, here is the International Lord of Hate. Who, it might be added, got this sad little man to admit he made up everything for his newspaper article. That is to say, he lied in an attempt to harm another business. There’s a legal term for that. It’s a tad bit harder to prove in the UK. But even still, misconstruing what someone said as if they didn’t usually fulfills the term.

Originally posted on Monster Hunter Nation:

Let me cut right to the chase. Damien Walter is a liar.

Don’t worry, I’ll go through the whole thing, but let’s get the important stuff out of the way for the TL/DR crowd.

In another incredibly ignorant yet smug article from the Guardian http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2014/aug/29/space-opera-new-guardians-of-the-galaxy-ancillary-justice Damien said the following:

 Baen’s chief editor Toni Weisskopf went so far as to issue a diatribe against any and all sci-fi that did not pander to this conservative agenda.

Cite it, Damien. Cite where Toni Weisskopf ever said that. If you can’t provide a cite of where she said that, then you are a liar and you should issue a retraction and an apology.

 Here, let me help you. Here is Toni’s “diatribe”. http://accordingtohoyt.com/2014/03/10/the-problem-of-engagement-a-guest-post-by-toni-weisskopf/ People can read it and judge for themselves.

So where is the part about pandering to a conservative agenda?

Damien can’t quote it, because it only exists in his…

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What Do You Have Without Genre?

Perhaps this is why Damien Walter has lived for four years on the UK Government dole without producing the novel for which he was fronted. First of all, whether he likes it or not, Science Fiction is a genre.

Here is the definition of genre: “A category of artistic composition, as in music or literature, characterized by similarities in form, style, or subject matter.” From the 19th century French, for ‘a kind.”

Now, what is disagreeable with the idea of Science Fiction as a category of art? It is, most certainly literature. We can debate the quality of each work on its own merits. Are there similarities of form, style, and subject matter? Well yes. Damien Walter could not speak to the return of the space opera (Though Peter Hamilton in particular might ask when it ever went away), if there was not a form Ancilliary Justice was attempting to utilize within the Science Fiction genre. Yes, authors might subvert or turn their forms at places. In fact, I’ve heard some argue that Space Opera is better rightly considered “Fantasy.” And no less an authority than George Lucas considered Star Wars “Space Fantasy.”

This is not a new thing. Nor is it entirely new that it be done solely for the purpose of ideology: C.S. Lewis did this with his Space Trilogy. Like J.R.R. Tolkien, I heartily despise allegory, with its forced symbolism and outside narrative attempting to force the reader to see the world the same way. It’s a cheat, a bore, and an intellectually dishonest approach to writing, IMHO. I find this just as true when the symbolism is one I agree with (Like Lewis), or something I do not. So the attempt to subvert or play with genre norms does not prove something is not that genre. One has to recognize the fact norms exist in order to subvert them. Eric Raymond’s article discusses what they are in some detail.

I would add to his list that typical to science fiction is the question: “What does it mean to be human?” As opposed to Fantasy, where the question is: “What is the cost of Virtue?” Another distinction is that science fiction, as Asimov stated, must both internalize science and form lively prose fiction, or it cannot be both “science” and “fiction.” Fantasy has no external rules on plausibility in its world, only internal coherence matters, both within the worldbuilding proper, and by the characters to the setting. This is true in China Mieville’s steampunk: where Khepri are forced to confront the question of humanity and society as much as the main character. Of course, maybe Walter, considering steampunk the ‘halfwit cousin of cyberpunk,’ couldn’t be bothered to read it, even when the writer is from his own political persuasion, far more clever, and capable of actual character depth in a way Ann Leckie’s work was not. Really, the gender-pronoun confusion issue is hardly new, or innovative, or confrontational. It’s been done. And better.

Unlike some, I do not assume everything at a publishing house can be discounted as if you know what it writes. Nor do I despise any particular house. My favorite current authors are Jim Butcher, Steven Erikson, Ilona Andrews, Larry Correia, Daniel Abraham (and his alternate identities), Sarah Hoyt, and Brandon Sanderson. I used to count Neal Stephenson, but his last two major works (Anathem and Reamde) do not, IMHO, match the standard he wrote from his cyberpunk up through The Baroque Cycle. In that list are authors from Ace, Baen, Orbit, Penguin, and Tor. Given my stance in the Hachette/Amazon controvery, one might assume Orbit doesn’t belong on that list. But there are a number of their authors I enjoy (Gail Carriger is another). And there are Baen authors that do not interest me.

I would also note that I doubt the politics of that group is monolithic, and to say Butcher, Erikson, Andrews, Abraham, or Sanderson have catered ‘to Right-wing’ at any point is ludicrous. Nor did I know Larry Correia’s politics when I started reading him (at the suggestion of fans on both Butcher’s and Erikson’s forums). Stylistically, the prose of these authors range from the minimalist and action oriented of the International Lord of Hate, to the Iowa-trained “literary” flourishes of Erikson. So it’s not the form of prose that catches me either. It is the ability to tell a story, in any genre. Whether playing straight with the conventions, subverting them, or mashing them together (as Urban Fantasy is famous for doing, and I’ve done a bit in my own writing). You have to know what the norms are to use them. Otherwise, you cheat the audience and turn them off.

It’s telling in Damien Walter’s article that he doesn’t consider entertaining the reader, or even keeping their interest, a primary purpose. It also informs me that if, in the next four government-sponsored years, his attempt at science fiction were to actually emerge, I’d be safe to ignore it. Not because of the politics. Only those on his side of the fandom divide care about the politics over the story. No. It’s because he has no respect for the form, the history, or the nature of the art-form. He is not writing to entertain. But to pontificate.

For that, I say the best place to write is in a political blog. I’m sure Huff Post could use another writer.

When ignorant snobs attack

tariencole:

And why did I reblog about Toni Weisskopf last night? Because it’s been part of “the Cause” to attack Baen for daring to sell stories that make money. And to claim they’re a “right wing” catering house. Mind you, Eric Flint is a Trotskyite, and he publishes at Baen. Daring to publish stories the Glittering Ones do not approve of results in much gnashing of teeth.

Originally posted on Brad R. Torgersen:

Tonight I chanced across this smelly little gem:

Baen books specialises in works of “military SF” that, behind their appalling prose styles and laughable retro cover designs, speak to a right-wing readership who can recognise the enemies of America even when they are disguised as cannibal lizard aliens. Baen’s chief editor Toni Weisskopf went so far as to issue a diatribe against any and all sci-fi that did not pander to this conservative agenda.

I won’t feed this particularly empty ego any more than is necessary, suffice to say that the individual who wrote this obviously does not read very many (if any?) actual Baen books by actual Baen authors, nor do I think this person has actually read any such “diatribe” by my editor at Baen. In fact, I can state with certainty that the words “Toni Weisskopf” and “diatribe” do not belong in the same ZIP code. You…

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The Problem of Engagement — a guest post by Toni Weisskopf

tariencole:

*THIS* is the blog entry by Toni Weisskopf that set John Scalzi and his minions against her. Or at least, became their excuse. Is this *really* a controversial idea? That SF fandom should be larger than our politics? That we should not assume people of the past be bound by our (presumed) enlightened morals, when we stand on their shoulders today?

I can’t see the hate. But then, I think Speculative Fiction should be about the narrative WITHIN the story, not the one imposed from OUTSIDE of it.

Originally posted on According To Hoyt:

*As you know, I’ve been worried about the direction of conventions, of fandom, of the… public face of our field. Those of you who are in the Baen Bar know Toni Weisskopf, publisher of Baen Books posted about it in her conference.  I thought her perspective on the field was important — particularly for me, who know next to nothing of the history of fandom — partly because it echoed my own views of where we stand and asked her if I could echo it here.  She has graciously given me permission to do so.  The raiding party post by David Pascoe will run tomorrow morning.*

The Problem of Engagement — by Toni Weisskopf

The latest fooforaws in the science fiction world have served to highlight the vast cultural divide we are seeing in the greater American culture. SF, as always, very much reflects that greater culture.

It is also…

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Books on Sale, Cheap!

tariencole:

Big Sale. Lots of value!

Originally posted on Cedar Writes:

When was the last time you could pick up a novel for only three dollars? Much less nearly one hundred of them? Oh, I don’t expect that you will buy ALL of the ones on the list, but it’s the first annual Labor Day Independents Book Sale!

For a full list of titles and authors, check this out, compiled by the ever-patient Amanda Green.

For a shorter list of Mad Geniuses, look here. Yes, Trickster Noir, The Eternity Symbiote, and Vulcan’s Kittens are on that list for only $2.99! (I think I’m running out of exclamation points)

But wait, there’s more! 

Starting tomorrow, my best-selling novel Pixie Noir will be on sale for less than a dollar (okay, a penny less than a dollar, but technically…) and over the next few days it will incrementally rise a little at a time to the original price of just less…

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U.S. roster for Czech Republic: Quick look at some of the newer names

tariencole:

Another World Cup Cycle starts. And I’m pleased to see a new, young vanguard selected. Every match we learn who can contribute during this break before real competitions start again is as much a win as any final score.

Originally posted on ProSoccerTalk:

The first post-World Cup camp for the U.S. will be an exploration of young talent, with an almost entirely Europe-based squad allowing opportunities to a number of players looking to breakthrough in the 2018 cycle. Here’s a quick look at a few of the names that hope to become more familiar over the next four years:

Cody Cropper – The Southampton keeper isn’t new to U.S. rosters, but at 21 years old, Cropper’s is a name that could become more prominent in Klinsmann’s selections between now and Russia. With a long jam of goalkeepers under Ronald Koeman’s watch, time in practice with Klinsmann and goalkeeping coach Chris Wood is particularly crucial. Cropper won’t get the same minutes Bill Hamid and Sean Johnson see back in MLS.

Age: 21
Caps:
Club: Has yet to make a league appearance for Southampton or his previous club, Ipswich Town.

Greg Garza – The Texas-born wide-man…

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Book Review: The Widow’s House, Daniel Abraham

The latest entry in The Dagger and Coin series by author: Daniel Abraham finds the strong point of the series where it has been: Exceptional Characters. No one makes living, breathing, flawed, believable, and yet sympathetic figures like Daniel Abraham.

Geder is by turns bloodthirsty and compassionate, and believable in each role. When he makes his confession at the end of the book, my heart felt for him, despite everything. Cithrin goes through despair to find a weapon to use against the enemy. But one entirely different from that Marcus Westin and Kit sought. Even the Dragon, Inys, proves to be both more and less than expected.

Despite this, I found it slightly slower going at first for this book than the previous installments. It felt like a lull until the first battle. And then the plot begins to move, but never at a pace that even matches the 2nd and 3rd books of the series. This isn’t a bad thing, as this leaves room for the internal machinations on each side. It also allows a fascinating and intelligent discussion of markets and currency that most fantasy writing, even literary fantasy, would not be learned enough to indulge in. And it’s done entirely in character, and with legitimate character conflict, so it never feels like a ‘lecture.’

What knocks this book from 5 stars for me has nothing to do with the author as such. But the editing. It is, frankly: Slipshod. Duplicated words, misspellings that *spellcheck* would have caught, but the editors were too lazy to fix. After all the time Orbit (through their Overlords at Hachette) has spent telling us how important authors find their editors, and professional editing is, to turn out a work as POORLY edited by this in a major release is frankly pathetic.

I can always tell when a series has changed from ‘Investment’ to ‘cash cow’ in the eyes of the publishers. Because they stop caring about editing, since they know it’ll sell no matter what. Wheel of Time and Game of Thrones both contracted this illness, and both bloated, with WoT in particular becoming error-filled in the middle volumes. The errors Orbit let through are as bad as anything I found there. And it was only the skill of the author, over their incompetence, that makes this a Four Star book instead of one I angrily tossed across the room.

Exit Rewrite Mode

Two books, 215,000 words, and pretty much able to stamp “Final Draft” on Aurori’s Blood. I’m pleased with the first two books of that series now. And I have an idea how to focus the fourth book so that it’s still the series I wanted to write, instead of the crazy thing it veered into with the fifth book. Ultimately it will still get to that crazy stage. But not until I’ve exhausted the history that’s the reason I wanted to write the series in the first place. :P

So now I’m even more in a ‘dead’ time between here and NaNoWriMo. Or at least I would be, except for my vacation in September. So I think I can be at about 50,000 words by November, and then double that in the Month of Frenzy. Maybe even finish book 4, Chosen’s Return. Besides, can I really complain about going to Hawaii? Nah. Used to live there, once upon a time, for three years. That was before donning the tophat and goggles. My writing back then was largely academic in nature. Loved semi-colons. One of the things I had to learn when switching to fiction was to crush them ruthlessly.

I’ve been meaning to add pages on the blog for all the other stuff I’ve dabbled in. That is: The Aurori, my Hellenistic Fantasy, an Urban Fantasy, and a Space Opera. Though the latter may or may not go under Tarien Cole, as such. I haven’t decided yet. Given the amount of blog time I’ve talked about both lately, they need them. :P