Cora engages in some Hugo kvetching – and a great George R.R. Martin interview/feature

The nominations for the 2015 Hugo Awards won’t be announced until April 4th, but the annual Hugo kvetching has already begun. Okay, so it already began back in January, but it’s currently ramping up for the second round of kvetching.

And so I’m on the 2014 Hugo-nominated podcast The Skiffy and Fanty Show this week, discussing the Hugos and particularly how the often confusing categories and nomination process could be made more transparent, with The G., Jason Snell and host Shaun Duke (who also has a great post on Jupiter Ascending, Agent Carter and character agency at his blog).

You can also download the podcast in iTunes, though I’m not sure why it is labelled as “explicit”. Okay, maybe one of us uttered a rude word or two, but with a label like “explicit” I’d expect a massive transatlantic phonesex orgy, which this most definitely wasn’t.

For more pre-nomination Hugo kvetching, check out this post at Making Light, which hints that several of the Sad Puppy nominee may have made the shortlist and not just the decent ones like Jim Butcher’s Skin Game either. Apparently, one of them broke the embargo and talked about his nomination, which shows how little in tune with the award and its policies they are.

ETA: Martin Wisse also comments on the Hugo rumours that have been flying around and suggests that another batch of sad puppies on the shortlist might lead to counter movements and do some lasting damage to the award in the future.

Also related to the upcoming Hugo kvetching is this post by Kristine Kathryn Rusch in which she implores writers to just keep out of genre controversies, because that sort of thing leads to lasting feuds and might destroy careers. And besides, writers shouldn’t talk about politics and religion anyway.

Now I have a lot of respect for Kristine Kathryn Rusch and indeed I credit her and her husband Dean Wesley Smith for persuading me to give this whole indie writing thing a go. However, I’m afraid I disagree with her on this particular point. For while it may be problematic, not to mention extremely time-consuming, to engage with every single genre dust-up, I don’t think writers should remain silent on every single issue ever. Because writers are also people, people with political opinions and religious views. And expecting them never to address these views ever is rather unrealistic.

What is more, like everybody who grew up in West Germany post 1968, I was raised to speak out against things that strike me as wrong (which often caused conflicts with our parents’ generation who did not believe that speaking out against things that are wrong should include telling off the Nazi uncle at the dinner table or refusing to have dinner with him altogether). And what I’m seeing in this particular fight is not just another genre dust-up that will seem quaint to incomprehensible twenty years from now, but very real attempts to silence people on the part of those who find their position under threat. So no, I’m not going to shut up.

However, Kristine Kathryn Rusch also makes a very good point, namely that writers should let one fraction or another’s ideas what is and isn’t appropriate to write about influence their own work. Now this is a point that I heartily agree with (with the caveat that a writer should also do their best not to be blindly offensive to large swathes of people), if only because I know how liberating it was for me to throw off received ideas of what did and did not make for good SFF and simply write whatever the hell I wanted to write.

But as calls for just ignoring the whole Sad Puppy controversy and focussing on one’s own work go, I vastly prefer this series of tweets by Nebula nominee Usman T. Malik:

Finally, for something quite different. arte, the French/German cultural TV channel has a regular feature called Durch die Nacht mit… (Into the night with…). The concept is simple. Two creative people (artists, musicians, writers, actors, etc…) meet in a given city and just talk and explore the town, while the camera follows them around.

Now the latest edition of the program features George R.R. Martin and Sibel Kekilli, the Turkish-German actress who played Shae on Game of Thrones, wandering through Santa Fe and talking about Game of Thrones, writing, acting, politics, religion, art, food and anything under the sun really. It’s a great program and entirely in English with German subtitles (there are a few German language film clips, but that’s it). I watched it on TV with someone who has never watched Game of Thrones nor read the books and yet was still charmed by Martin and Kekilli interacting.

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