It’s a silly, silly, silly, silly world

A relevant screencap from Bakuon.
A not-quite-random screencap from Bakuon.

Video Meliora:

Upon Hearing Leaf Blower on a Fine Spring Eve

It’s the Divine Right of Neighbors
To run their motors loud
At the sitting hour, proud
I’m like Sitting Bull, Red Cloud
Aghast what Pale Face has allowed.


I am so much more enlightened than you.


Curious statistics:

Consider the winners of the four categories [best novel, novella, novelette and short story] over the last five years:
• 2015: 4/4 women
• 2014: 3/4 women
• 2013: 4/4 women
• 2012: 2/4 women
• 2011: 2/4 women

Fifteen stories written by women have won the main prizes in the Nebula awards in the past five years, and five by men.

I never cared much about the Hugo awards. They have never been anything more than popularity contests, and that they have been demonstrated to be meaningless is mildly amusing and nothing more. The Nebulas, on the other hand, are determined by a vote of the SFWA membership, i.e., actual writers, and reading the annual volume of Nebula winners was one of the ways I found writers worth following many years ago. But I find it difficult to believe that nowadays women write three times as many of the best stories as men. So, the hell with the Nebulas. I think I’ll read Tim Powers instead.


Every few years I clear my evenings for a week and re-read The Lord of the Rings — I’ll probably do so again sometime this summer. I also enjoy most of his other fantasy-oriented works published during his lifetime. However, I’ve never gotten beyond page 20 in The Silmarillion. It turns out that I’m not alone, and The Silmarillion is the worst book with Tolkien’s name on it. It may be worthwhile to check out his other posthumous books, after all.


Shirtstorm? What shirtstorm?


Does the term “vibrancy” actually mean anything? (Note that the word “diversity” has become its own antonym.)

(Via Isegoria.)


Every man his own rhinoceros: at last, a political party I can join. Unfortunately, it’s Canadian.

(Via Francis W. Porretto.)

Update: This sums up Everything.

(Via the Professor.)

5 thoughts on “It’s a silly, silly, silly, silly world”

  1. I find this statement troubling: “I find it difficult to believe that nowadays women write three times as many of the best stories as men.” For decades, no one ever questioned the almost total dominance of male authors in those awards. No one would have said “I find it difficult to believe that nowadays men write three times as many of the best stories as women” — not just because of the assumption among some that only authors with a Y chromosome could handle “science” fiction as a genre, but simply because Nebulas are selected from what was published in a given year, and the pool of published articles was overwhelmingly male.

    For a very long time in sf, some of the best women authors found they had to write under male names just to get published. And talented women authors in general found it a better use of their energy to aim for genres where they had a better shot at hitting print. Today, in a field where either gender has (presumably) an equal opportunity to get published, why shouldn’t it happen that in a given sample, a majority of those deemed “best” by their fellow writers would be one sex or the other?

    And as to who gets published in the first place, you don’t have to assume there’s some sort of reverse discrimination taking place. In a genre where stories with a new or different outlook or angle are given preference by definition, why shouldn’t ideas that come out of a mindset that is different from what was the norm for generations (and where many great ideas have already been explored … and then subsequently done to death) have a bit of an edge in getting published simply because they cover new ground? That new outlook might come from gender, or race, or nationality, or ethnicity, or social class, or any of a number of other factors. Without even looking, I would guess that Nebulas today have a much better representation of nonwhite, non-American authors than they did 40 years ago when I first started collecting the volumes of annual award winners, just because there are more varied stories for publishers and voters to choose from now. Gender is just one factor in a field that continues to find new avenues to explore.

    Perhaps what troubles me most about your statement, though, is that you would declare the Nebulas an unfit standard for pointing you to good fiction simply because the current crop is majority female. Maybe there’s a reason the voters chose those particular stories. Maybe they’re worth the trouble to check out. But you are declaring the standard useless because you somehow think that published women authors, as a group, couldn’t be that good. That really doesn’t sound like you.

    If I had had that attitude when I was a teenager, I might have grown up reading only romance novels because the genre was majority female. But I collected Nebula award books because I figured I was going to be getting some of the best in the genre, and I read all the stories regardless of the gender of their authors. Or the voters. It never would have occurred to me to do otherwise.

    1. My problem with the recent Nebulas is not many women win them, but that as of 2014, the sex of the writer has apparently become a critical factor in determining who wins the award. Certainly there have been many excellent female sf writers who deserved every award they got — Ursula Le Guin, Joanna Russ, Raccoona Sheldon/James Tiptree, Jr. and Diana Wynne Jones to name four who are amply represented on my bookshelves, and there are undoubtedly many more whom I haven’t read — and really, I shouldn’t have had to say that — but I find it extremely difficult to believe that eleven of the twelve best sf stories in the past three years were by women. There’s a criterion other than literary excellence involved.

      It could be a statistical fluke, I suppose — three years is a small sample — and next year men will get two or three Nebulas, in which case you can disregard everything I’ve said. My hypothesis is that the toxicity of the sad puppies/puppy kickers brouhaha has spead beyond the Hugos and has poisoned an award that used to have some significance. If I were sufficiently obsessive, I would search out and read all the nominated stories from the past three years, and investigate what the writers said about puppies and whether their stories were on puppy slates. However, I don’t read that much sf anymore and I have better ways to spend my time. If anyone reading this want to prove or disprove my guess, go for it.

  2. Whoops, I typo’d above in the last paragraph. Not “the genre was majority teenager” but “the genre was majority female.”


  3. Well, I’ve learned a little about current sf award politics — I’d never heard of the sad puppies or the Hugo brouhaha till now. Knowing that, and looking more closely at the numbers that got you annoyed, I can see that your intent was to point to the sudden shift in the past three years (not the totals over the past five) as a sign that perhaps the Nebulas were also being influenced in a similar way, or maybe that Nebula voters were responding to the puppy issues in another venue.

    That didn’t come across on my first reading of your post, though, because of your opening, which just noted the totals of fifteen and five in the past five years, and then the sentence I quoted (apparently saying you thought it unlikely that women could write “three times as many of the best stories” in that span). A three-quarter balance seems like a perfectly reasonable natural swing for a selected five-year span, with the assumption that the numbers would probably balance out over a larger set of years. Since I focused on your discussion and not on specific numbers in the list that preceded it (and I had no reason to need to go back to check your numbers), I read your comment as saying the awards were suspect just because of that ratio, and that a 3:1 discrepancy couldn’t be accounted for by women actually deserving the awards. (And that *really* didn’t sound like anything you’d say!) If you’d pointed up the issue of just the three most recent years, as you did in your reply here and your next post, I would have caught your intended meaning right away: I, too, “find it extremely difficult to believe that eleven of the twelve best sf stories in the past three years were by women.” 11:1 is quite different from 3:1. Worth watching to see if it’s a fluke, and if it isn’t, that’s a shame; the Nebulas were always a touchstone for me.

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