Saying Good-bye to Jerry Pournelle

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Jerry Pournelle passed away in his sleep on 8 September 2017. Dr. Pournelle was a long-time fan and writer of science fiction. He won multiple awards for his writing, and served as president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America in 1973. Wikipedia says he was noted as the first science fiction writer to publish a work typed on an electronic word processor. His most recent public appearance was as a presenter at the Dragon Awards last week-end in Atlanta.

Dr. Pournelle leaned to military SF and in recent years edited a series of anthologies published by Tor and Castalia House called There Will be War. As part of memorial activities, the first volume of this series will be free on Kindle for three days beginning on 10 Sep 2017. You can go here to download this from Amazon. You can also check in at Dr. Pournelle’s blog page here to leave a Well-Wishing message for his family and friends. RIP Jerry.

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2017 Dragon Award Winners

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The Dragon Awards were presented at DragonCon in Atlanta this afternoon. Presenters included Jerry Pournelle, Kevin Anderson, Jim Vince, Larry Correia, Mercedes Misty Knight, Eric Flint, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, and Gil Gerard. Congratulations to all the winners!

Best Science Fiction Novel
Babylon’s Ashes by James S.A. Corey

Best Fantasy Novel (Including Paranormal)
Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge by Larry Correia and John Ringo

Best Young Adult / Middle Grade Novel
The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan

Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel
Iron Dragoons by Richard Fox

Best Alternate History Novel
Fallout: The Hot War by Harry Turtledove

Best Apocalyptic Novel
Walkaway by Cory Doctorow

Best Horror Novel
The Changeling by Victor LaValle

Best Comic Book
The Dresden Files: Dog Men by Jim Butcher, Mark Powers, Diego Galindo

Best Graphic Novel
Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files: Wild Card by Jim Butcher, Carlos Gomez

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series
Stranger Things, Netflix

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie
Wonder Woman directed by Patty Jenkins

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy PC / Console Game
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild by Nintendo

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Mobile Game
Pokemon GO by Niantic

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Board Game

Betrayal at House on the Hill: Widow’s Walk by Avalon Hill

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Miniatures / Collectible Card / Role-Playing Game
Magic the Gathering: Eldritch Moon by Wizards of the Coast

Review of “Flashpoint: Titan” by Cheah Kai Wai

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This is a Hugo finalist in the Best Novelette category. It was published in There Will Be War Volume X, Castalia House.

Commander Hoshi Tenzen of the Japanese Space Self Defense Force is in command of the warship Takao when he notices four Chinese “merchant” ships that are acting oddly. He is contacted by Prometheus Control on Titan, which warns him the ships seem overly interested in the colony. It appears the Chinese vessels are actually warships on a bombing run, and the Americans on Titan ask for help. An extended, edge-of-your-seat battle ensues.

This is likely a fest for the space opera crowd, as there’s a lot of detail about the ships, weapons and tactics. There’s heroism and sacrifice. There’s also Japanese language. Cheah Kai Wai apparently speaks Japanese, as those cuss words roll off his pen (er, keyboard) with authenticity. I also suspect he’s got his finger on a few elements of Asian politics, as there’s a little subtext there. On the negative side, there’s too much emphasis on military detail and not enough on the characters. I may not be picking up the memes, but I never did connect with these people or get interested in what they were doing. Three stars.

Review of “What Price Humanity?” by David VanDyke

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This is a Hugo finalist in the Best Novelette category. It was published in There Will Be War Volume X, Castalia House.

Xiaobo Huen, Admiral of EarthFleet, is writing his memoir. An excerpt lets us know that EarthFleet is fighting aliens called the Meme, who hide their ships in the Kuiper Belt and the Oort Cloud and emerge to make periodic raids attempting to capture Earth. Huen feels that Earth is in increasing danger. The narrative then shifts to Vango Markis, Flight Lieutenant of EarthFleet, who has wakened in what he takes to be some kind of simulation. He meets other soldiers he’s known in the past, and the group takes on more and more difficult simulations against the Meme. Vango recalls that some of the people he’s working with are dead, which raises more questions about what’s going on. The scene shifts again to Missile Tech First Class Pedro Weinauer, who is loading new semi-organic control modules in preparation for battle. Huen makes the final entry about possible interstellar colonies.

I don’t want to give out too much in the way of spoilers, but it’s pretty clear from the beginning that these people aren’t real. The characters tend to be pretty flat and stiff, but I got some good images from the battle simulations. I expect the target audience here is gamers. Three stars.

Here are the Sad Puppies’ 2016 Hugo recommendations

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FeatherPenClipArtKate Paulk has posted the Sad Puppies’ recommendations for Hugo nomination. I notice there’s a slight overlap with both the Rabid Puppies’ recommendations and the Nebula nominations. There’s also a fair amount of diversity here.

I’m not going to be able to review all these before end of the Hugo nominating period, so check at Rocket Stack Rank for reviews of these works and also those recommended by the Rabid Puppies. Interestingly, the recommendations for “editor, short form” only include one of the statistically identified “best editors” from Rocket Stack Rank. I’m not sure what that indicates, maybe that taste goes a long way toward what different groups see as good spec fiction.

Campbell Award for Best New Writer

Andy Weir – The Martian
Brian Niemeier – Nethereal
Alyssa Wong – “Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers”
Natasha Pulley – The Watchmakers of Filigree Street
Becky Chambers – The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet
Scott Hawkins – The Library at Mount Char
Charlie N. Holmberg – The Paper Magician
John Sandford & Ctein – Saturn Run
Sebastien de Castelle – Greatcoats series

Best Fan Artist

Otaking77077 – TIE Fighter animated film (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PN_CP4SuoTU)
Karezoid (Michal Karcz) – http://karezoid.deviantart.com/art/Within-The-Choir-of-Ascending-Spirit-571475023
Michael Callahan – http://www.callahanvisual.com/galacticwarfighters/zl8qd59i0iczlgvsm79u4rfqnxxa7q
Piper Thibdeau

Best Professional Artist

Abigail Larson
Sam Weber
Frank Cho
Larry Elmore
Dustin Nguyen
Richard Anderson

Best Fan Writer

Jeffro Johnson – Space Gaming and Castalia House blogs
Declan Finn – Sad Puppies Bite Back
Eric Flint – “In Defense of Sad Puppies” (http://www.ericflint.net/index.php/2015/06/08/in-defense-of-the-sad-puppies/)
Mike Glyer – Puppy roundup posts on File 770 (http://file770.com/?page_id=22881)
Brandon Kempner – Chaos Horizon
Charles Akins – http://dyverscampaign.blogspot.com/p/best-reads-of-week.html
Dave Freer – Mad Genius Club
Dorothy Grant (fynbospress) – Mad Genius Club
Ron Edwards – https://adeptpress.wordpress.com/

Best Fancast

Tea and Jeopardy
Geek Gab
Hello Greedo

Best Fanzine

File 770 – http://file770.com/
Nuke Mars – http://www.nukemars.com/
Superversive SF – http://superversivesf.com/
Otherwhere Gazette
Tangent Online – http://www.tangentonline.com/

Best Semiprozine

Sci Phi Journal

Best Editor – Short Form

Jerry Pournelle – There Will Be War vol X
John Joseph Adams – Lightspeed, and Nightmare
S. M. Sterling – The Change anthology
Jason Rennie – Sci Phi Journal
Paula Goodlett – Grantville Gazette
Bryan Thomas Schmidt – Mission: Tomorrow

Best Editor – Long Form

Toni Weisskopf – Baen
Jim Mintz – Baen
Tony Daniel – Baen

Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form

Daredevil Season 1 Episode 2
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
Person of Interest Season 4 Episode 11: If-Then-Else
Kung Fury: Laser Unicorns
TIE Fighter animation by Otaking 77077
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: Melinda
Daredevil Season 1 Episode 13
Doctor Who: Heaven Sent
Gravity Falls: Dungeons, Dungeons, and More Dungeons
Gravity Falls: Northwest Mansion Mystery

Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form

Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
Predestination
Ant-Man
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Inside Out
iZombie (Season 1 as a whole)
Person of Interest (Season 4 as a whole)
Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Ex Machina

Best Graphic Story

Order of the Stick
Stand Still Stay Silent – any 2015 plot arc
Schlock Mercenary Book 15
Empowered Volume 9
Saga Volume 5
Erfworld
Fables: Farewell Volume 22
Gunnerkrigg Court Chapter 15: Totem
Invisible Republic Volume 1
Lazarus: Conclave

Best Related Work

Sad Puppies Bite Back – Declan Finn
Appendix N – Jeffro Johnson
Safe Space as Rape Room: Science Fiction Culture and Childhood’s End – Daniel
A History of Epic Fantasy – Adam Whitehead
Atomic Rockets – Winchell Chung
Legosity – Tom Simon
There Will Be War Vol X – Edited Jerry Pournelle
You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) – Felicia Day
Frazetta Sketchbook Number 2
Galactic Journey – http://galacticjourney.org/

Best Short Story

“Tuesdays With Molakesh The Destroyer” – Megan Grey
“Today I am Paul” – Martin L Shoemaker
“… And I Show You How Deep the Rabbit Hole Goes” – Scott Alexander
“Asymmetrical Warfare” – S. R. Algernon
“Cat Pictures, Please” – Naomi Kritzer
“Damage” – David Levine
“A Flat Affect” – Eric Flint
“Daedelus” – Niall Burke
“Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers” – Alyssa Wong
“I am Graalnak of the Vroon Empire, Destroyer of Galaxies, Supreme Overlord of the Planet Earth. Ask Me Anything” – Laura Pearlman

Best Novelette

“And You Shall Know Her By The Trail Of Dead” – Brooke Bolander
“Pure Attentions” – T. R. Dillon
“Folding Beijing” – Hao Jingfang translated by Ken Liu
“If I Had No Head and My Eyes Were Floating Way Up In the Air” – Clifford D. Simak
“Obits” – Stephen King
“Our Lady of the Open Road” – Sarah Pinsker

Best Novella

Binti – Nnedi Okorafor
Penric’s Demon – Lois McMaster Bujold
Slow Bullets – Alastair Reynolds
Perfect State – Brandon Sanderson
The End of All Things 1: The Life of the Mind – John Scalzi
Speak Easy – Catherynne M. Valente
The Builders – Daniel Polansky

Best Novel 

Somewhither – John C Wright
Honor At Stake – Declan Finn
The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut’s Windlass – Jim Butcher
Uprooted – Naomi Novik
A Long Time Until Now – Michael Z Williamson
Seveneves – Neal Stephenson
Son of the Black Sword – Larry Correia
Strands of Sorrow – John Ringo
Nethereal – Brian Niemeier
Ancillary Mercy – Ann Leckie

Retro Hugos

If This Goes On – Heinlein, for Best Novel
“Requiem” – Heinlein, Best Short Story
“The Roads Must Roll” – Heinlein, Best Short Story. Sad Puppies’ recommendations for Hugo nomination. There is a slight overlap with both the Rabid Puppies’ slate and the Nebula nominations.

 

Review of “Seven Kill Tiger” by Charles Shao

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Another Rabid Puppy recommendation. This story was published in Jerry Pournelle’s There Will Be War Vol. X

Chinese business manager Zhang Zedong is concerned that production in his African mining operation has fallen again this quarter, and that General Xu will think this is because of excessive greed on the part of management. Zhang blames the problem on the local crime rate, and he comes up with a plan to reduce the problem. Scott Berens of the CDC tracks an outbreak of a new virus in Zambia, and identifies it as an anomaly because of the pattern. He alerts co-worker Philip Thompson to check it out, and Thompson thinks the Chinese may have weaponized a polio vaccine. After notifying the military about this, Thompson infers the US has also weaponized viruses. At home, he is approached by a Chinese agent who has a deal to offer.

This is an interesting story line, and this should be a fully developed story, but the action doesn’t develop the way I expect it to. The characters are flat. The straight-forward narrative means there’s no rising action, no feel of conflict, no drama and no climax. On the positive side, it has high diversity, as it concerns Chinese business investment in Africa and features Chinese characters.

Two stars.

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