Yay for Round Robin Dinosaurs! And new stretch goals: Greg Machlin and John Hodgman!

Iiiiit’s time for an “If You Were a Butt, My Butt” update!

Butt My Butt Square

(By the way, that’s a tomato. If you’re at work, Liz Argall suggests that just in case you’re worried, you exclaim, “It’s a culinary vegetable!” whenever anyone passes by.)

Kermit arms and confetti! We reached the $600 stretch goal. Now I can continue to usher forth into the world the terrible brainchild that is the round robin short story about dinosaurs currently being written by me, Brooke Bolander, Adam-Troy Castro, John Chu, Alexandra Erin, Ann Leckie, Ken Liu, Juliette Wade, and Alyssa Wong!

Aaaaaaaaaaaaand we’re halfway to $700! Mary Robinette Kowal, of the sultry tweet-reading voice, will narrate the audio book if we hit the stretch goal, and I personally think that would be hilarious so I hope it happens.

At $800, Barry Deutsch will create original cover art — but skipping over him for a moment, because I have new announcements for the later stretch goals:

At $850, Greg Machlin will contribute EVEN MORE SATIRE with an essay detailing his argument that I, personally, have DESTROYED SCIENCE FICTION. (Confession: I had help.)

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if John Hodgman wrote a science fiction story? In a way, we could call that the first fiction authored by an artificial intelligence (because he’s a P.C…. thank you, I’ll see myself out). At this year’s Nebula banquet, John Hodgman proposed three science fiction concepts he felt SFWAns should get on writing.

If I can find a copy of his speech (I’m trying!) then at $900, I will be that SFWAn for one of his prompts. At $950, what the heck–I’ll just do all three.

And if we hit $1000, I will hire someone to make a professional, pretty package out of the whole thing, so that my poor subscribers are not burdened by my technologically unsophisticated hands.

I know that’s a long way to go — but what the heck, why not go for it, right? There’s nothing to lose, and only ridiculous things inspired by John Hodgman to gain.

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Open Thread and Link Farm, The Budget Cut My Torso Edition


  1. Noah Berlatsky on “Virtue Signaling.”
    “The most insular tribalism is the tribalism that forswears tribalism. Heaven and neoliberalism forbid we admit that we actually need other people for love, approval, and guidance.”
  2. Believing Your Own Lies
    So-called “Crisis Pregnancy Centers” claim to prevent tens of thousands of abortions – but, unsurprisingly, they’re lying.
  3. The Free-Trade Consensus Is Dead | New Republic
    The Obama Administration claims that they’re fighting to protect labor and the environment when they negotiate trade deals – but, unsurprisingly, they’re lying. (Link via Nobody.)
  4. Ironic effects of anti-prejudice messages | EurekAlert! Science News
    From a pdf of the study itself: “Ironically, motivating people to reduce prejudice by emphasizing external control produced more explicit and implicit prejudice than did not intervening at all. Conversely, participants in whom autonomous motivation to regulate prejudice was induced displayed less explicit and implicit prejudice compared with no-treatment control participants.”
  5. Anti-fat bias shows up in really little kids – Futurity
    “The preference for average versus obese figures was strongly related to maternal anti-fat prejudice. Other potential factors such as parental BMI, education, and even children’s television viewing were not related to what sort of figure the child preferred to look at.”
  6. Getting a photo ID so you can vote is easy. Unless you’re poor, black, Latino or elderly. – The Washington Post
  7. A Comprehensive Guide To The Debunked “Bathroom Predator” Myth
  8. North Carolina Lawmakers Are Trying To Take Away The Only ID Undocumented Immigrants Can Get | ThinkProgress
  9. Doctors remove nurse from patient’s arm.
  10. See how Mount Rushmore was SUPPOSED to look | Roadtrippers
    They ran out of money.
  11. Side-By-Side: The Good Wife’s First And Last Scenes – YouTube
    This is really neat if you’re a fan of The Good Wife (and I am), but probably not of interest otherwise.
  12. Yale’s World-Famous Ethics Professor Accused Of Sexual Harassment – BuzzFeed News
  13. What Cultural Appropriation is NOT
  14. A point-counterpoint: Men Are Sabotaging The Online Reviews Of TV Shows Aimed At Women | FiveThirtyEight versus Cathy Young’s critique of same. I think Cathy makes some decent points, although the headline and subheadline are silly. (Update: Cathy comments further, and says that the headline was “obviously” a joke.)
  15. Court to Hear Appeal From Purvi Patel, Convicted of Feticide – NBC News
    So much for that “pro-life isn’t about putting women in jail” claim.
  16. Ayn Rand’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – The Toast

Posted in Link farms | 4 Comments  

Butt My Butt Update: Guest Post on Ann Leckie’s Blog, New Rewards from Alexandra Erin & Will Alexander

Ann Leckie was kind enough to let me borrow her blog to chat about ignoring bullies — how it didn’t work in elementary school, and continues not to work now.

My Making Lemons into Jokes campaign (details here) to retaliate against harassment by raising money for LGBTQ healthcare is doing great! We’re really close to the $600 stretch goal. Speaking of which, I have an announcement.

At $600, several other authors and I are going to write a round robin short story about dinosaurs. I’m excited to announce that Alexandra Erin is joining us! So, the current author list is: me, Brooke Bolander, John Chu, Adam-Troy Castro, Alexandra Erin, Ann Leckie, Ken Liu, Juliette Wade, and Alyssa Wong!

And another announcement — at $700, Mary Robinette Kowal will record the audio book of “If You Were a Butt, My Butt.” AND now National Book Award winner Will Alexander will also record, “If You Were a Cuttlefish, My Love.”

As I’ve previously announced, graphic novelist Barry Deutsch will create an original piece of cover art at $800, and I have something in the works for $900, too… announcement to come…

Butt my Butt Rectangle 500


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Barry Will Be Appearing at VanCAF This Weekend


If any of you are in Vancouver BC this weekend, you should drop by VanCAF! It’s free to attend, and many very cool cartoonists (plus me) will be there to show off our comics. (And let me know if you’re an Alas reader!)

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“If You Were a Butt, My Butt” — the Embuttening

Yay! Thanks to everyone who has participated so far in the Making Lemons into Jokes campaign for me to write “If You Were a Butt, My Butt.” (Full story here.)

For the $500 stretch goal, Liz Argall will be creating a brand new Things Without Arms and Without Legs (and presumably butts).

Just a reminder about the upcoming stretch goals — At $600, Brooke Bolander, Adam-Troy Castro, John Chu, Ken Liu, Ann Leckie, Juliette Wade, Alyssa Wong, and I, will write a round robin story about dinosaurs.

At $700, Mary Robinette Kowal will record the audio book.

At $800, Barry Deutsch will create original cover art.

I have a few more things in the works, too!

Since we reached $500 before Monday, I have promised to release the beginning of “Butts.” And here it is:

Butt my Butt Rectangle 500

If you were a butt, my butt, then you would be a butt. This is a tautology, but it’s still true.

Since you are a butt, my butt—being a butt—I regret to inform you that the set of duties you perform are not always tidy or delicate. To begin, you are frequently sat upon, which most people object to—if you doubt me, try it on the subway sometime. Secondly, you are on a not-infrequent basis required to be an excretory passage.

Being an excretory passage may be erotic for some butts—but you are not that kind of butt, my butt, because feces are really gross.

Frankly, I’m surprised you need an orientation. You have been my butt for thirty-four years. You should have a handle on it by now.


A digression aimed at my esteemed readers:

By far the most difficult part of this enterprise is that the framework requires metafictional authorial insertion.

(Yes, I said insertion. Let’s face it. Everything from the title forward is going to be riddled with double entendres.)

Luckily, I live a strange and magical life, as I have documented before. For instance, there is my familial relationship with the phoenix as documented in Dr. Thackery T. Lambshead’s Cabinet of Curiosities. Also, I have written of my journeys with the guidance counselor, a time traveling madman who pilots a milk crate.

My shield for these stories is the fact that readers will assume my accounts are fictional. After all, I am a short story writer. Why not believe I am making things up? Probably, you should. Yes.

Everything from this point on is fake. Believe at your own peril.

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Friday Read! “The Migratory Patterns of Dancers” by Katherine Sparrow

In a future where birds are extinct, genetically modified men take their motorcycles around the country to perform dances that remind people of the migrations that once took place.

Katherine Sparrow is one of my classmates from Clarion West 2005, and I’ve been a fan of her work ever since. In addition to her lovely and lyrical short stories, she also writes young adult novels which center on the theme of collective action. These days, she’s publishing urban fantasy on Amazon (though I must admit I haven’t read it — sorry, Katie!). Katie also conducted my wedding so I admit I’m rather partial to her. 😉

The Migratory Patterns of Dancers” by Katherine Sparrow:

Bird, Graffiti, Hauswand, Wall Painting

The inexorable pull to move south grows. The sun hums to me all day long that it’s time to go, go, go. The night sky is even more persistent–every constellation in the big Montana sky makes arrows pointing south. My appetite increases and I develop a layer of fat on my belly. My senses grow more intricate–smells carry layers of meaning, gnats and mosquitoes become visible everywhere I look, and the normal sounds of human civilization hurt my ears with all their chaos.

And now my eyes have changed. The cornea and pupil widen so that the white is barely visible. A mercy that the genetic modifications left me normal eyes for summer and winter, but when it changes, it is unsettling for everyone. My vision increases three-fold. It is the last sign that it is time.

“Your eyes look funny,” Marion says. My wife drops her fork onto her plate and starts to cry.

This is another sign, as real and inevitable as all the others.

“Josiah, don’t go this time. Stay here. Stay safe. We’ll manage, somehow.” She cries harder. Marion is beautiful when she cries. She breaks my heart every time. “Why won’t they ever leave you alone?”

Read here.

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An obligatory Nevada WTF post


[This is a guest post , reposted from Now Face North with Lirael’s kind permission. –Amp]

As I’ve mentioned before, I am a Bernie Sanders supporter! I also have some thoughts, regarding different subsets of people, about the mess in Nevada and some of the resulting Internet conversation.

To the people who doxxed, harassed, and threatened a Nevada Democratic Party official: Stop being assholes, okay? And no, the fact that the relevant info was publicly available doesn’t make it better. Doxxing and harassment have a long and ugly history in the anti-abortion movement, that predates the word “doxxing” even existing. Leave that kind of targeting of people to them, leave it to the Gamergaters, leave it to right-wing talk radio hosts (I was doxxed, albeit incompetently, by a right-wing talk radio host after my arrest last year). I mean, fight them, don’t just leave it to them and then call it a day, but don’t join them. Okay? I don’t understand why this is hard. Why would you threaten somebody’s grandkids?

If you are saying “But some of those weren’t threats! They were only saying that she should be hurt, not that the person was going to do it!” then you should consider that they are obviously meant to frighten the person they’re directed at. They are threats in a common-sense understanding. “You should be hurt” is a threat. And use some empathy, for chrissake. Last year after my arrest, in addition to the right-wing talk radio release of what the host believed to be my then-home-address, I got some threats of this nature, in the form of tweets and comments on news articles. Notably, a guy who runs a certain well-known and longstanding sportsbro media outlet, as well as a radio show of his own, posted to his legion of followers that we should be slowly and gruesomely publicly beaten to death. By the logic that some people are using when talking about Nevada, I shouldn’t have considered this to be threatening. I am irritated about the downplaying. If you’re defending threats this way, you might support the same candidate as I do at the moment, but you’re not some kind of compatriot, you’re not trustworthy, and I believe that you’ll turn on me as soon as something pisses you off.

To Bernie Sanders: Sorry, your statement was bad. I get that you have some concerns and complaints about the process, that you feel like you’re beating your head against a party infrastructure that is dubious about you. I get that you think the Nevada party leadership is singling out your supporters, when your own staff in Nevada were apparently targeted for violence by unknown persons during the Nevada campaign. None of that belongs in your statement. It’s not adequate to throw in a bit of “And of course I’m against violence.” You need to condemn the harassment against and threatening of the state chairwoman and anyone else who was targeted, and intimidating behavior like chair-throwing on the convention floor or use of misogynistic slurs. Full stop. Nothing else belongs in that statement. Process concerns can go into a different statement. Violence against your staff is abhorrent, and was not an issue of the recent convention, and can be addressed in statements that are not responses to the convention. Bringing them into your statement muddies the waters, and these are waters that shouldn’t be muddy.

To some subset of Nevada Sanders delegates: I don’t know how many of you have a background in street protest. Maybe you do, maybe you don’t and you just know what you’ve seen on TV or the Internet. But in either case, this is not street protest. You chose a “respectable” role for this one. You chose to formally represent a major campaign (and possibly your local Democratic party; I’m not sure how that works in Nevada) at a party insider business function. Nobody made you decide to do that instead of, say, marching through the local streets or sitting down in an intersection outside the building. Nobody made you pursue the electoral route to advance your causes at all. And believe me, I’m not dragging you for your choice here. I support your choice! I believe in diversity of tactics – actual diversity of tactics, not the sometime protest euphemism for breaking windows. I believe that the boundaries between institutional politics and protest politics, between within-the-system and outside-the-system, should be fluid, with activists able to assume different roles at different times if they want to, and people understanding and respecting the usefulness of different roles.

Hell, I’m a street medic who just finished going through the court system after an arrest, and I’m also a delegate in my upcoming state Democratic convention. Which, to my eternal relief, does not have to touch the Hillary vs Bernie issue, because we already chose the candidates’ national delegate allocations through our primary process. There would be something really weird going on if I didn’t believe in being able to move among different activist roles and tactics.

However, different is a key word here. Some of the Nevada delegates didn’t act like they understood what they were there for, from a tactical perspective. They didn’t learn the rules, to the extent that they even scored an own-goal when it came to constructing the party platform, and then were upset when they lost. They responded to procedural things not going their way by angrily going toward the stage and yelling. Protest politics vs institutional politics is not totally binary, and you can certainly do institutional politics with an edge (Bernie Sanders has in fact made a career out of that) or mix the two up a little. But, this isn’t breaking a kettle. It’s not pulling aside the barricades to Wall Street. It’s not disrupting a public Trump rally, or some other kind of antifa-ish action. It makes sense to change your tactics based on the context, and what will advance your goals in the context that you’re working in. If you choose the ground of a major presidential campaign and a state party convention to plant yourself in, then I think you should follow through with it. And just like you’d go to a direct action training, or a know-your-rights training, or a protest health & safety training, or seek out advice from experienced protest-goers, before a big protest, if you’re going to be a delegate, you should do what you can to learn how to be a delegate for the relevant convention, which is something I am trying to do now. I would even be willing to believe that some of the reports of delegate behavior have been skewed or unfair – I wasn’t watching the live feed, and lord knows that’s common enough with protest reporting – but the fact that people accidentally removed a section that they cared about from the platform because they didn’t understand what they were doing, and then were angry about it, is hard to get around.

To some subset of Clinton supporters on the Internet: You have good reasons to complain here. The fact that progressive politicians were booed is not really, in my opinion, one of them. I get that it is upsetting to see progressives that you admire and think have done great work, booed. But no politician is owed unbroken deference by members of the public, and dealing with a little booing and heckling is part of a politician’s job. “Where do these ungrateful twerps get off, daring to boo when a progressive hero like Barbara Boxer is speaking?” is a very different statement from “Booing Barbara Boxer as a delegate at a Democratic Party event probably doesn’t help either Sanders’ campaign or the advancement of his policy agenda.”

To the many, many people in 2011-2012 who criticized Occupy on the grounds that what it really needed to do was to be more like a left-wing Tea Party, to try and take over the Democratic Party from within: Congratulations! You spoke, and some people both inside and outside of the movement listened and concluded that you were right! They decided to channel their energy, their desire to move the country leftward, into an election, into gaining power within the Democratic Party. Wait, why do you look so upset? Why are you going on about how the primary is damaging the party or damaging its chances in the general? Isn’t the Sanders campaign an example of what you straight-out told people to do if they wanted to be Effective Responsible Leftists?

Posted in Elections and politics | 16 Comments  

Butt My Butt Update: John Chu and Adam-Troy Castro join the $600 stretch goal!

Thanks to everyone who’s supporting my Make Lemons into Jokes campaign! For those coming upon it for the first time, here’s my explanation of what it is and why I’m doing it. (Short version: A bigot is using the Hugo Awards to harass me and LGBTQ people, so fuck him. Let’s follow the Scalzi strategy–and raise money for something he hates. In this case, Lyon-Martin health services for LGBTQ folks.)

We have achieved the $400 stretch goal: “If You Were a Cuttlefish, My Love.” I showed it to Mary Robinette Kowal and a few other folks, and she gave me an unintentional blurb: “I LOVE THIS WITH THE LOVE OF A THOUSAND CUTTLEFISH EGGS.” I hope y’all enjoy it, too!

We’re partyway to the $500 stretch goal when Liz Argall will make an original comic in her series… Things Without Arms and Without Legs… and Without Butts?

Socks need feet!

And I’m thrilled to announce that John Chu and Adam-Troy Castro will be joining us for the $600 stretch goal — a round robin story about dinosaurs. The other authors include me, Brooke Bolander, Ann Leckie, Ken Liu, Juliette Wade, and Alyssa Wong!

Signal boosts appreciated.

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Silly Interview with Ken Liu who HAS THE SCHEMATICS for a Time Turner!

KenLiu_Full_SizeKen Liu came onto the short story scene a few years ago, and then dominated it, and has continued to dominate it since. If you’re interested in contemporary short science fiction, Ken is an author you can’t miss. One of my favorites: Mono no aware. And his first major award winner: Paper Menagerie.

RS: You have a full-time job, a family with young children, a career as a successful short story writer and novelist, and a career as a translator. How? What demonic trick of time have you unleashed? I must ask if you have a time turner of the kind from Harry Potter which allows you to move back six hours in time. Do you have a time turner?

KL: Ah, the “time turner,” that most wondrous of artifacts.  Did you know that “time” is etymologically related to “tide”? And in fact, “tide” only acquired the sense of “flood and ebb of the sea” fairly recently (as in, less than seven centuries ago) …

Also, it seems to me that “time-turner” could be a kenning for “office drone”?

Speaking of time-turning, I have to thank you for your recent recommendation of “Ghost Trick” (available for the Nintendo DS and iOS). That game involves multiple sessions of reversing time’s flow for four minutes at a time and trying to change fate.

What was the question again?

RS: If you do not have a time turner, what magic time-traveling device do you have? I will not believe the answer “none” so you may as well be honest.

KL: Ahem. Yes, you got me…

So I practice the ancient magic of “Saying No.” Basically this involves being very careful about what projects I choose to work on. There are far too many interesting ideas for stories and far too many exciting anthology calls to say yes to all of them. I have to prioritize.

Because my writing time is so limited, I can’t afford to pursue all leads and just hope some of them work out. I have to be ruthless and say no to the vast majority of ideas and invitations I get so that I can focus on the few projects where I think my contributions will actually be unique, interesting, and artistically rewarding.

Many other writers write faster and write more than I do, but I think I have the advantage of picking a larger percentage of projects where my interests and talents are a good match for the projects’ needs.

RS: Speaking of Harry Potter, if you could send your kids to Hogwarts, would you?

KL: I’d have to ask my kids. Personally, I’m not a big fan of sending them away to boarding school because I want to spend more time with them. Parents get so little time with their children as is… But if they really want to go and learn magic, I’ll support them. And I hope they work hard to challenge the rather authoritarian system at Hogwarts and engage in campus activism.

And I’d have to do a lot of work to supplement their knowledge of the non-magical world.

Finally, I want them to bring a note to Hogwarts—more like a treatise—on how the rules of Quidditch make no sense.

RS: Many of your stories hook into important parts of East Asian history. I’m thinking of the ones that take place around World War II in particular. I know as a Jew the events of World War II were something that caught in my mind and stayed there. Was that an experience you had as well?

KL: Absolutely.

The terrible events around World War II in East Asia and Europe are searing experiences that should never be forgotten. Yet, in the years since, the forces of denial and repression have tried again and again to make us forget. In the case of East Asia, they base their arguments either on the needs of geopolitics or on high-minded (but false) claims that somehow forgetting is the same as reconciliation. Some have also resorted to despicable attempts to discredit survivors and to deny the facts of historical atrocities, thereby committing a fresh round of violence against the memory of the victims and the peoples of East Asia.

“Forgetting” history is a luxury that belongs to the privileged winners of history. The rest of us tread on bones and walk through ghosts, and we must not forget the past, which shapes the present and the future.

RS: I think of your stories as having an old-fashioned science fiction feel and structure, while being leavened with a modern approach toward emotion and character (and a broader idea of what constitutes interesting subjects). Does that ring true for you at all? How would you characterize your aesthetic?

KL: I like hearing you describe my stories that way. You’re, without a doubt, one of the sharpest readers of my work, and when you point out something about my fiction—whether positive or negative—I sit up and listen.

I think authors are often the least accurate summarizers of their own work, for they’re too close to it. Still, for what it’s worth, I think of what I write as primarily the fiction of rhetoric, of story-as-argument—not as persuasion, mind you, but as meditation.

My stories, as all fiction must, follow the logic of metaphors, and because I like to work with literalized metaphors, this practice draws me to employ the tropes and techniques of science fiction and fantasy. I enjoy working with literalized metaphors, exploring their nooks and crannies, finding shears and drops, bridging them and chaining them and laddering them into a structure that will reveal something of what we feel in our lives but cannot put into words.

At the same time, I have a deep ambivalence about our contemporary apparent-consensus over what makes a “good story”—despite all the aesthetic disagreements in the field, the science fiction and fantasy genres do seem to experience strong normative pressures concerning _how_ to tell a story. Characters need to be “real” and “deep” (by which we mean psychological interiority as popularized by the Modernists); points-of-view need to be consistent; exposition should be carefully blended into characterization and plot advancement; plots and characters need to arc and follow discernible shapes and patterns … and so on and so forth.

In a time when everyone is taught to appreciate oil paintings done in a classical European style, brush paintings in the style of Song Dynasty masters will seem spare, unrealistic, “flat,” unbelievable, … “not a good picture.” But I don’t believe there is just one way to tell a good story—we have had too much variation over time and across the globe in what narratives speak to particular peoples in particular contexts for me to accept that.

I like to construct stories in a way that evokes far older narrative traditions and techniques, and perhaps bring to bear tools learned from outside the core scifi/fantasy experience. Whether these efforts work for readers is not something I can control, but at least I enjoy telling stories the way I want to.

RS: You translated Three Body Problem whose author, Cixin Liu, seems to have definite opinions on this topic. (From his American author’s note: “The stories of science are far more magnificent, grand, involved, profound, thrilling, strange, terrifying, mysterious, and even emotional, compared to the stories told by literature.”) Is science more important than art?

KL: I like Liu Cixin’s work, and it is completely in line with his own aesthetic that prizes science and scientific speculation as the core of a good SF story.

While I enjoy reading stories written in this vein, I don’t always enjoy writing stories like that. I feel that the techniques of science fiction and fantasy can be used for many other types of stories, including stories in which the scientific speculation primarily serves as a literalized metaphor.

This isn’t to say science is more important than art, or vice versa. Both science and art are human enterprises, ways of knowing, and I don’t think it’s impossible to create compelling narratives that draw on both—and I also think there’s nothing wrong with creating stories that emphasize one over the other.

RS: I think a lot of us envy your ideas and how neatly you fit them into stories. Can you describe your process of developing a story from idea to draft?

KL: I don’t have a single process that applies for all stories. In a lot of cases, my stories begin from a single image or phrase that I find evocative. In other cases, they come from some scientific paper I read that I find particularly interesting.

I then take that story seed and let it sit in my head for a while. Once I begin thinking about something, I notice other things in my life that are related to it: books I read, web pages I come across, other papers cited in the first paper, illustrations and photographs that seem to speak to the seed, and so on. I let all of this churn in my head, and sometimes I discover that there’s no interesting story there, despite my best efforts, but at other times the seed grows into a sapling that I can envision as a tree someday.

That’s when actual drafting starts. I don’t outline or plan, but prefer to explore the idea as I write. This means that I tend to draft slowly (because I’m using the drafting process to think) and it also means that I have to do a lot of work in revisions. Overall, the way I write short stories is a bit like sculpting, where the story slowly emerges as I carve away the excess key by key.

RS: You love the video game Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney! Me, too. But you’re an actual lawyer. What do you enjoy about it?

KL: I love the way the law’s tendency as a game of rhetoric is highlighted in these games. The process of parsing words carefully to find “contradictions” is actually quite similar to the way lawyers craft their arguments—not in the details, of course, but in mindset and approach.

I also like the fact that Phoenix’s clients are always innocent and that he’s never had to defend someone who isn’t a good person. If only real lawyers are so lucky.

RS: Is there anything else you’re excited to share? Bonus points if it’s silly and/or a lie and/or a silly lie.

Wall of StormsKL: I’ve been working on the copyedits of my second novel, The Wall of Storms, and I’m super excited to share this book with readers come October. There’s lots more intrigue and politics and crafty battle strategies and oodles of silkpunk technology. I literally dream about these machines some nights…

Okay, but more seriously, I have discovered the secret of time-turning, and I have a proof and a set of schematics that I’m excited to share. Okay, let me find it on my hard drive … Darn it, it is too lengthy to fit into the space allotted me here, and the pictures are too big to send through email. Next time?

Obligatory “If You Were a Butt, My Butt” UpdateThe fundraiser’s doing really well! And if we get to $600, Ken Liu will join authors Ann Leckie, Brooke Bolander, Juliette Wade, Alyssa Wong, and me, in writing a round robin story about dinosaurs. (I didn’t plan to run this interview to coincide with that; it just happened.)

Posted in Interviews | 2 Comments  

EPH Not Effective Enough; Other Options Considered


I wanted to point to three good posts at File 770, for those of you who are following the ongoing Hugo Awards mess.

First, Analyzing EPH. Bruce Schneier, based on an academic paper co-written by Jameson Quinn, wrote this post describing what would have happened if E Pluribus Hugo had existed last year. (I’m oversimplifying.) “The number of slate nominees would have been reduced by 1 in 6 categories, and by 2 in 2 categories, leaving no category without at least one non-slate nominee.” So that would have been an improvement – but a smaller improvement than many have hoped.

The problem is what it’s always been – a minority of bad actors, voting in unison or near-unison for a small group of works, can overpower a majority of honest voters who (being honest) spread out their nominations among many, many choices.

The data demonstrates the power of the Puppies. The category Best Novelette provides a good example. This category had 1044 voters, distributed over 149 different works with 3 or more votes. Of these voters, around 300 (29%) voted for more Puppy-slate works than non-Puppy ones, and about half of those (14%) voted for only Puppy-slate works. These numbers are also roughly typical. The other 71% of the ballots included under 3% with votes for any Puppy work (this is relatively low, but not anomalously so, compared to other categories).

Schneier points out a technical modification to EPH – which in comments came to be called EPH+ – which would make EPH a bit more powerful, and would mean that the number of slate nominees would have been reduced by 2 in most categories, instead of just by one.

Second, Hugo Voting Idea Toolkit. File 770 comment-writer “Stoic Cynic” compiles, in greatly nutshelled form, many different suggestions people have made for slate-proofing the Hugo Awards.

And third, Three Possible Hugo Voting Alternatives. In this post, Kevin Standee outlines three of the leading proposals – Three-Stage Voting (3SV), Double Nominations with Approval Voting (DN/AV, sometimes just DN), and Plus Two (+2). This is the post that currently seems to have the most active discussion (and the discussion seems to be about all the ideas to modify the Hugo Awards, not just the three ideas Kevin described).

I’m in favor of EPH and then adding EPH+ as soon as possible (which isn’t very soon, because the WorldCon Constitution requires any change to be approved of at two consecutive WorldCons before being implemented). As for the other ideas… I’m sure that something is necessary, but I haven’t yet formed a firm opinion of which idea is best. (And I think that more ideas will be coming.)

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