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Sad Puppies

So, one of the more tedious arguments from the Sad Puppies is this:
there is no way you can convince me that Redshirts was a better story than 2312 as advanced by Brad Torgersen. My reply:

Well, I for one couldn’t finish 2312. It was tedious and the lead character was about as likable as the second day of diarrhea. Vorpatril was okay, but on reviewing my records my vote was (1-2-3) Crescent Moon, Blackout and Redshirts. As I recall, Redshirts didn’t go over the top until the 3rd round, so I suspect that for the median voter Redshirts was the least objectionable.

Circling back on the “Oh the Hugos of yore were grand” take a gander at what great classics actually won. 1958s Hugo was “The Big Time" by Fritz Leiber. No novels in 1957. (Eligible works include stuff by Clarke, Asimov and Fred Pohl.) 1955? They’d Rather Be Right by Mark Clifton and Frank Riley. (Who and who?) Heinlein’s “Have Spacesuit Will Travel” was eligible. In 1964, Here Gather the Stars (alt: Way Station) by Clifford D. Simak beat out Heinlein (Glory Road) AND Frank Herbert’s Dune (on the ballot as “Dune World” serialized in Analog.) The Cold Equations came out in 1954, was in a “Best of” anthology of 1955, yet did not win the short story category.

Does anybody want to argue that “Here Gather the Stars” is better than Dune? (First, has anybody ever even heard of it?) Or that nothing was worth while in 1957? I could go on here, but my point is made – awards are inherently subjective. Sometimes the givers of the award get it “right” and sometimes they don’t.


( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 19th, 2015 05:32 am (UTC)
I may have to rethink what makes my next Tears review
User james_nicoll referenced to your post from I may have to rethink what makes my next Tears review saying: [...] that “Here Gather the Stars” is better than Dune? (First, has anybody ever even heard of it?) [...]
Jan. 19th, 2015 07:31 am (UTC)
Nobody knows We Gather the Stars because it's usually called Way Station and is arguably Clifford Simak's best novel.

And why are you casting aspersions on The Big Time, which is a brilliant book?
Jan. 19th, 2015 01:38 pm (UTC)
I'm not casting aspersions so much as saying some Hugo winners we remember and some we don't
Jan. 19th, 2015 12:43 pm (UTC)
Small point of order: Dune won a later Hugo for best novel in 1966, Dune World was a much shorter and less impressive thing than Dune and honestly Simak's Way Station is the better novel (though YMMV)
Jan. 19th, 2015 03:21 pm (UTC)

I first read Way Station when I was about 12 years old (yes, that was decades ago) and have re-read it several times since then. I have never heard, until now, that it was ever called "Here Gather the Stars," so I just learned something. But I think that your statement might be better phrased as "Way Station (alt: Here Gather the Stars)," because that's the better-known title.

It's actually a very enjoyable book.

Jan. 19th, 2015 03:35 pm (UTC)
Well, I shall find out how enjoyable it is. I think my original point stands - various books win Hugos, and not all of them are such classics as to stay in print for decades.
Sean O'Hara
Jan. 19th, 2015 04:54 pm (UTC)
Other than They'd Rather Be Right and The Snow Queen, every Hugo winning novel is currently in print, and I'm fairly certain most of them have been more-or-less consistently since being published. You'd be better off arguing that they're only in print because they won the Hugo while better works languish in obscurity.
Jan. 19th, 2015 04:59 pm (UTC)
You're the second person to say Way Station is in print. Please tell amazon.com that, because when I Googled, all I got were discussions and links to used booksellers pushing old editions.
Jan. 19th, 2015 09:14 pm (UTC)
In print outside North America
Pardon me for jumping in. Clifford Simak's works are readily available in ebook form on amazon.co.uk. I seem to recall that Simak's heirs were unhappy with the deal offered by North American publishers and let the books languish here.
Jan. 19th, 2015 11:15 pm (UTC)
That's a pity.

About The Snow Queen, I mean.
I think there are a few others, although maybe I'm not looking hard enough for Dreamsnake or ...And Call Me Conrad.

Edited at 2015-01-19 11:17 pm (UTC)
Jan. 20th, 2015 10:49 pm (UTC)
And Call Me Conrad was published (slightly expanded and edited) as This Immortal
Jan. 19th, 2015 04:23 pm (UTC)
Jo Walton did an excellent series for Tor.com a couple of years ago where she revisited each year of the Hugos up until 2000 - it's opinion but very interesting as to what won, what would have been a better winner in hindsight and what was eligible but didn't make the ballot

Jan. 19th, 2015 04:24 pm (UTC)
The main points here are that: 1) everybody loves it as Way Station, not the obscure alternative title I've never even heard before today; and 2) it was not up against the finished Dune but rather the less finished Dune World.
Jan. 19th, 2015 04:31 pm (UTC)
No, the main points here are:

1) Regardless of the title, I had never heard of it
2) It's been out of print for 35 years
Sean O'Hara
Jan. 19th, 2015 05:08 pm (UTC)
Uh, The Way Station was just reprinted last year as part of an omnibus with two other Simak novels:


Amazon lists standalone editions from 2004, 2002, 2000, 1997 ...

There's even an audiobook available on Audible:

Jan. 20th, 2015 11:15 pm (UTC)
The Omnibus has a sales rank of 3 million and no reviews. The more modern listings seem to be collectible UK Gollanz edition.

The bottom line is ya gotta look real damn hard to find it, and when you do it hasn't sold in forever. Have Spacesuit Will Travel is on Kindle and the paperback ranks 213,073.
Jan. 19th, 2015 10:52 pm (UTC)

I am going to be picky here and note that the argument Torgerson is trying to make (not very well: my experience of 2312 is holding steady several chapters in and I may get back to it) is about contemporary popularity/evaluation of a work and not the judgement of posterity (or, worse, sometimes, the effect of poor decisions by copyright-holders / estates in posterity).
The real problem with Torgerson's argument is that if quality were really so evident that everyone could normally agree on a best candidate, we wouldn't have Hugo votes so much as we'd normally have unopposed coronations.

Jan. 19th, 2015 05:45 pm (UTC)
I have a weird theory that the Hugos often award belatedly. So if Person X -really- deserved the award in Year 1 for Book A, the often win in Year 2 for Book B, even if Book B isn't particularly worthy itself. But no, I not willing to make the effort to substantiate that in any way...I just get that feeling sometimes when looking at the winner lists...
Jan. 20th, 2015 03:18 pm (UTC)
That's a common award phenomenon.
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )

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This is the personal blog of Chris Gerrib, and all opinions expressed here are solely his own. Commenters are welcome; however please be polite to me and my other readers. I reserve the right to delete comments that are rude, inappropriate or otherwise objectionable at my sole discretion. The opinions expressed in a comment are not necessarily mine, and if I do not delete a comment that should not be construed as my agreement with the commenter.

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