Puppies, Slates, and the Leftover Shape of “Victory”

I wasn’t going to write about Vox Day’s Rabid Puppies and their Hugo Awards slate this year. I was just going to enjoy Uncanny Magazine‘s win for Best Semiprozine and Naomi Kritzer‘s win for Best Short Story with “Cat Pictures Please“, because it is a weird and wonderful thing when people I know win awards for work I like. I was going to enjoy the success of a fiction slate swept by women, three of whom are women of color and one of whom didn’t write in English, because the WorldCon should look more like the world than it generally has. I was going to enjoy looking at a slate full of winners of serious quality, because I like this genre, and I get tired of defending it from charges it is only pulp (mmm, pulp).

I was going to do all that, which is plenty. Then I looked at the numbers in the nomination long lists (pdf, de-Puppied numbers at the bottom of this post). I noticed something important.

There is one thing you should know about Vox Day, assuming you can’t avoid him altogether. Well, one thing aside from him being alt-right before the alt-right was identified as a thing. One thing aside from him being such a secure sexist that he has to declare the inferiority of women whenever anyone will listen. One thing aside from his self-published fiction being just sort of tedious and fascinated by its own fascinations.

That one thing is that he always declares victory.

As schticks go, it’s not terribly impressive. It’s a lot like those people who look at science, scrinch their foreheads at the math, and pop out some late-night, freshman-who-took-one-philosophy-class deepity about “But what if the world is really…?” If your musings aren’t falsifiable, you’re not going to impress a scientist with your depth of thought. If you claim everything is a win condition, we all know you’re just not prepared to lose.

This year, Vox Day lost badly. Continue reading “Puppies, Slates, and the Leftover Shape of “Victory””

Puppies, Slates, and the Leftover Shape of “Victory”

Team Black Widow

This is one of the essays I delivered to my patrons this month. If you want to support more work like this, and see it earlier, you can sign up here.

I saw Captain America: Civil War this weekend, like so many other geeks. Unlike most of those geeks, however, I had to watch Captain America: Winter Soldier and Avengers: Age of Ultron also this weekend so Civil War would make sense. That doesn’t indicate a lack of interest, just the weird way I consume media.

Given my interest, I was paying attention to the Team Cap versus Team Iron Man chatter happening before the movie was released. Everyone I saw was Team Cap, but that isn’t really surprising. Not only is this a Captain America movie, but that’s the way Tony Stark’s character works. He’s not supposed to get things right, at least at first. He’s supposed to drive the plot by getting things wrong.

So I expected I would probably end up Team Cap as well. Having seen the movie, though, I’m not. I’m not Team Iron Man either. I’m Team Black Widow.

Here be spoilers. Continue reading “Team Black Widow”

Team Black Widow

TBT: True Geek

Someone remembered for me, back in July 2008, when I posted this. We were talking about the station in Babylon 5.

Something seemed wrong.

We were at the Irish Well. The band was taking a break, but it was still loud. I wasn’t sure I’d heard him right. “How many tons of steel in the station?”

He told me again.

“How long?”

I was skeptical.

“And how fast does it rotate?”

“One full rotation a day. Earth gravity. Earth day.”

“That can’t be right, can it?” Continue reading “TBT: True Geek”

TBT: True Geek

Meeting Users Where They Work

When I told friends I was starting a new job automating data processing, they wanted to know what language I’d be using. When I told them I’d be working with Visual Basic for Excel, I received more than one funny look. When I told them what kinds of problems I’d be solving, several people told me that Access or an SQL database was designed for doing those things.

Yes, this is absolutely true. I’ve used databases extensively for just these sorts of things. However, that’s missing the point entirely.

Not everyone who has to work with data is a data person. Continue reading “Meeting Users Where They Work”

Meeting Users Where They Work

Put a Quarter In

One of the social hazards of being friends with a bunch of writers is that you’ll sometimes lose them. I don’t mean that they’ll stop being able to follow you. I mean that someone will say something, or the group of you will see something, and…they’re gone. Elsewhere. Seeing a different one than the world the rest of you are still living in.

We lost Kelly McCullough that way for two days or so once. We went to The Citadel in Halifax, an old harbor defense and fort where you’re up on hill but manage to feel mostly underground. He pointed at things, we took pictures, and he spent the next while of our trip staring into another world. I’m still waiting for someone to buy the book based on that proposal so I can find out just what he saw.

Something similar happened with him this New Year’s Day. We were sitting around with Thomases, editors of Apex Magazine. They wanted to know what kind of essay Kelly was going to send them. (No, he didn’t have a choice.) We were kicking around some topics and laughing over the various ways in which they would make the local corner of the internet explode.

Then I said, “Tell me why you still cosplay even as a professional author.”

Click. Stare.

Fast forward two months to today. Kelly’s essay, “I Married a Fake Geek Girl: A Defense of Casual Fandom” has just gone live at Apex.

Just for giggles, let’s start with bona fides. I’m going to be talking about fake geeks and casual fandom, after all, and I wouldn’t want anyone to take me too seriously on that front.

I am a professional science fiction and fantasy author, most notably of the WebMage and Fallen Blade series. I have twelve novels published or forthcoming in the field, all from big New York houses, as well as a heap of short stories and poems. This is my day job. I am also a Third Generation fan. I have a thank you note and picture from the cast of Star Trek: TOS for my mother and grandmother’s help in the letter writing campaign that kept them on the air. My wife is a physics professor, a Second Generation fan, and a hardcore console RPG gamer among other geek-girl pursuits. She recently wrote an essay for the Doctor Who book Chicks Unravel Time. Seriously, we bleed geek.

We also cosplay.

Go read the whole thing. If nothing else, you’ll want to know how someone who just had an invited essay published in a Doctor Who anthology manages to be a “fake geek girl”.

Put a Quarter In

All the Real (Geek) Girls

Sometimes you “walk” into another part of the internet, look around, and relax just a little.

My friends Lynne and Michael Thomas would probably give me squinty looks if I said that about Apex Magazine in person. Lynne is the editor-in-chief and Michael the managing editor, and both consider it at least partly their jobs to poke the internet with a stick. If the work they’re publishing doesn’t challenge people in some way, they haven’t done what they want to do.

That’s a big part of the reason I feature as many stories from Apex in Saturday Storytime as I do. It isn’t just that Apex has a great track record of publishing new authors and authors new to the magazine. It isn’t just that I like dark fantasy that doesn’t rely on body horror for its darkness. The stories often make me a little uncomfortable in ways I think I should pay attention to.

So saying I relaxed there is a little funny. Saying I relaxed on reading an essay about the “fake geek girl” stupidity is even funnier. Still, it’s all true. Continue reading “All the Real (Geek) Girls”

All the Real (Geek) Girls

Geeking for Good

Starting tomorrow at noon Central time, Jason and JT are starting a marathon gaming session for fundraising. Half the proceeds will go to Camp Quest and half will go to the Women in Secularism conference. The whole thing will be streamed and captured for your viewing pleasure (see Jason’s blog tomorrow for the stream link). Also so you can taunt people later over being trounced in the games.

Now, if you listen to JT, you’d think these guys were doing old school gaming:

I’ve spent some time seeing if we can run some of the arcade games from my youth which I never got to beat because it cost too many damn quarters.  Old school arcades will be playing include:

  • NBA Jam/NBA Hangtime
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • Street Fighter II
  • Aliens vs. Predator
  • Battle Circuit
  • Smash TV
  • R-Type LEO
  • Cyberbots
  • Ninja Baseball Batman
  • Altered Beast
  • Contra
  • The Simpsons
  • Turtles in Time
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow over Mystara
  • Ninja Commando

It’s not new. I’ll give them that. But oy, these kids, thinking that’s old. If you want to talk old, you’ll want to tune in when I join the guys at 8 a.m. CDT Sunday morning.

That’s also when I’ll announce a funding challenge. Only my challenge won’t be for JT and Jason. It will be for the viewers. I’ve been trying to track down a long-lost game for a while. As far the official lists go, it seems to have never existed. Only I know I played it (and I know others who played it), and I want to play it again if I can.

So if you think your Google-fu is better than mine, up for the challenge of finding a game that is well-hidden, watch Sunday morning. For that matter, tune in whenever you can. Give the guys and their guests challenges, either now or in the chatroom they’ll have set up. Or even just make a donation and watch the fun bits later on the recording.

However you do it, everybody wins, even when one of them is losing.

Geeking for Good

Whatever Google Image Search You Did

By now you’ve probably heard of Tony Harris, sexist asshole artist.

Before now, there was a good chance you admired his work without knowing who he was. The comic book industry can be thankless that way. Lots of people like what they like without paying close attention to who produced it for them. This is extra true for artists, weirdly. A comic book writer creates a story for you, but the artist brings it to life. Still, plenty of people don’t know who draws what they read.

We’ll just pretend, because it is an actual unfair thing that happens, that Tony Harris was tapping into a well of bitterness over that when he went off on a sexist tirade about why “real” geeks don’t like women cosplaying at cons. It doesn’t make it the tiniest bit better, but we’ll pretend anyway. After all, the original rant has been fisked, countered with cosplay love, and put in its appropriate social context.

There’s still one thing about it though, something I really only noticed reading PZ’s post on the rant:


I read that, and my only thought is: Dude, you know squat about Google, and I can prove it. Continue reading “Whatever Google Image Search You Did”

Whatever Google Image Search You Did

We Need Max Headroom

This week is full of commitments and deadlines. Rather than try to meet all my blogging commitments with new work and failing, I’m pulling out some old posts. Given how my audience has grown, most of you won’t have read them at the time. This post was originally published here.

A couple of days ago, President Obama did a YouTube “press conference.” User questions were submitted to Google and answered by the president in a Google+ hangout. The press conference continues Obama’s trend of preferentially speaking directly to the public instead of the press (which is a vast improvement over his predecessor’s practice of speaking to neither).

This didn’t go over well with some White House reporters. In particular, Josh Gerstein of Politico took the opportunity to sneer:

Max Headroom
The White House’s drive to embrace new media and technology will achieve nirvana next week as President Barack Obama participates in what his aides are proudly billing as the “first completely-virtual interview from the White House.”

Yes, that’s right. We journalists are now entirely superfluous and irrelevant. The White House can solicit questions directly from the public and no third-party involvement is required. Max Headroom would be proud.

I’m not sure Gerstein ever watched Max Headroom, despite being exactly the right age for it. Maybe he was too busy learning to be a serious reporter to catch anything but the Coke ads. They ran on the news, right? Heck, he probably even missed the music video.

Okay, the music video isn’t required cultural knowledge, but Max Headroom itself should be required viewing for anyone in media–particularly for reporters. Don’t be fooled by the goofiness. Don’t be fooled by the ancient computer graphics. Max Headroom is every bit as socially and politically relevant today as it was when it came out to high critical praise.

Continue reading “We Need Max Headroom”

We Need Max Headroom

Batman: Everything Old Is New Again

The only thing wrong with this remade trailer for The Dark Knight Rises is that, by using footage from Batman: The Animated Series, it tells me what the movies have been lacking.

For some people, Batman will always be Adam West. For others, maybe George Clooney. For me, it’s Kevin Conroy the whole way. Batman shouldn’t have to whisper to sound like a badass.

Continue reading “Batman: Everything Old Is New Again”

Batman: Everything Old Is New Again