Thursday, April 23, 2015

SNARL's Not A Recommendation List

I have "put my money where my mouth is". This is not something I like to do. Firstly, I am a cheapskate, and spending actual money is irritating. Secondly, I dislike the metaphor. I would rather put words or food where my mouth is as that is what a mouth is for. I could even identify a second tier of things that I would like to put where my mouth is that the mouth may not really be made for*, but which would be more pleasant than putting money there. So I would prefer to say I have “ponied up” and purchased a supporting membership to WorldCon  (or more accurately the World Science Fiction Society) rather than say I have done so to "put my money where my mouth is".

I now get to vote for the Hugo awards. If you would like to have a vote like me then you can follow this link (, pony up your own $40.00, and get a vote of your very own.

I am not alone. Between March 30th and April 15th more people purchased supporting memberships than voted in the nominating process. WorldCon now has over 7,000 members. That is a lot of ponying up.  Which means there must be quite a few ponies, and I suspect the piles of horse dung left after this year's Hugo awards will be impressive. 

 I suspect that over 10% of them will read a significant portion of the books on the nomination list. I will be in that rarified group.

I may not have time to read the novels (even though I already own one of them) before August. I have a acquired a good day job since my gafiation several decades ago. If I cannot read the novels I will not vote for a book in that category.

I will start with the novellas. The list looks disappointing, and the only way I think reading these might be fun is if I give myself permission to critique them on this blog. If I like them I will tell you -my loyal readers- what I like about them, and if I dislike them I will flamboyantly describe the experience of reading them.

I hope some of you will consider buying a supporting membership in WorldCon now that you know you will have my snark to keep your decision company.

Just so I can be part of the “in” crowd I will use my critiques to develop a set of recommendations. I suppose I should call the list “yet another type of puppy”, but I've not figured out why that is not as dumb as it sounds. Instead I will create a recursive acronym; I like recursive acronyms.

SNARL = SNARL's Not A Recommendation List

I love the way a part of my brain gets stuck on an infinite loop when I read that, and I have to hit some metaphorical Ctrl-C to move on to the next paragraph.

The nominated novella list is:

Best Novella (1083 nominating ballots, 201 entries, range 145-338)
  Big Boys Don’t Cry, Tom Kratman (Castalia House)
  “Flow”, Arlan Andrews, Sr. (Analog, 11-2014)
  One Bright Star to Guide Them, John C. Wright (Castalia House)
  “Pale Realms of Shade”, John C. Wright (The Book of Feasts & Seasons, Castalia House)
  “The Plural of Helen of Troy”, John C. Wright (City Beyond Time: Tales of the Fall of Metachronopolis, Castalia House)

Finalists are listed in alphabetical order. The order listed has nothing to do with their relative number of nominations received. “Entries” means the number of individual works or individuals nominated in that category. The “range” listed in each category is the number of nominations the last-place finalist received and the number of nominations the first-place finalist received.

And I am not even sure where to get any of these. I usually prefer to only pay for books that someone I respect has told me were worth reading (maybe I will eventually let slip which of the novels on the nomination list I already own). Access to the novella may dictate where I start....

Look! Three of the novellas are by the same author. He must be the greatest science fiction author ever. I will probably start with one of his.....

*The term "made for" does, on a first pass at least, imply a creator acting with a purpose in mind.  I do mean made by evolution for a particular set of functions.   This illustrates a basic problem with eliminating god from our culture.  Language was devised by humans, and one of the most important things for that social species to talk about is other humans.  Because of this colloquial language includes an anthropomorphizing bias.  It is  natural to use terms that imply a humanity behind anything.  There is no reason, however, to demand that the humanity behind everything is anything more than the humans behind creating the language that is being used to describe all this stuff we need to talk about. 

No comments: