Hugo & Nebula Awards: Best Novels discussion

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message 1: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Z (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 3480 comments Mod
I was looking at Nebula eligible works the other day (https://www.sfwa.org/forum/reading/4-... ) and found out that they started to fill in 2020. I looked that in Category: Novelette there was a work with an unusual title "I Sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter" by Isabel Fall. However, following the link I found that the novelette was taken down - http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/fall_...

Alas, the story is no more, taken down by a shit-storm on Twitter, ven despite favorable reviews by both cis and trans people, like here https://poweredbyrobots.com/2020/01/1...
and here https://medium.com/@phoebenorth/an-op...

It is interesting to see that SF always were challenging the status quo, but now works got put down if attacked on media :(

p.s. the title appears to derive from 2014 meme from an online game:

I sexually Identify as an Attack Helicopter. Ever since I was a boy I dreamed of soaring over the oilfields dropping hot sticky loads on disgusting foreigners. People say to me that a person being a helicopter is Impossible and I'm fucking retarded but I don't care, I'm beautiful. I'm having a plastic surgeon install rotary blades, 30 mm cannons and AMG-114 Hellfire missiles on my body. From now on I want you guys to call me "Apache" and respect my right to kill from above and kill needlessly. If you can't accept me you're a heliphobe and need to check your vehicle privilege. Thank you for being so understanding.


message 2: by Silvana (new)

Silvana (silvaubrey) Dammit now I HAVE to read that story. I hope someone still has a copy some where.


message 3: by Gabi (new)

Gabi | 518 comments Silvana wrote: "Dammit now I HAVE to read that story. I hope someone still has a copy some where."

Feeling the same! The editorial made me extremely sad to read ( and kudos to the editor for this thoroughly thoughtful response). I wish I knew what the story was about.


message 4: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Z (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 3480 comments Mod
By looking around for the story, I finally found it. I make a txt file for those interested and uploaded to my Google Drive. Here it is https://drive.google.com/open?id=19yy...


message 5: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (last edited Jan 18, 2020 06:13AM) (new)

Kateblue | 3667 comments Mod
yes, please--thank you!

I want to nominate it sight unseen


message 6: by Gabi (new)

Gabi | 518 comments Oleksandr wrote: "By looking around for the story, I finally found it. I make a txt file for those interested and uploaded to my Google Drive. Here it is https://drive.google.com/open?id=19yy......"

Thank you so much, Oleksandr! You rock!


message 7: by Antti (new)

Antti Värtö (andekn) | 750 comments Have you noticed that these over-the-top "shitstorms" always start on Twitter? I'm ready to declare Twitter a public menace and it's existence as a huge net negative.

I wish people wouldn't give in to these loud Twitter egomaniacs. The publisher's response was good - until the very end when he started to apologize. If he really pulled the piece because he was afraid for the author's mental or even physical well-being, than these Twitter loudmouths are basically bullies who try to get what they want by terrorising people. You shouldn't apologize to people like that.


message 8: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Z (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 3480 comments Mod
Antti wrote: "Have you noticed that these over-the-top "shitstorms" always start on Twitter?"

True, maybe 144 symbols limit is great for rage but not for an analysis. I have a twitter account but almost never venture there - for my social activities FB is better. From stats I saw it is a generation thing - younger ones prefer twitter and instagram over FB. And even more young use tiktok


message 9: by Gabi (new)

Gabi | 518 comments Yes, Twitter can be a very toxic place. I'm using Twitter as my only means for social media communication, but I blocked a lot of folks who don't like the stuff I do and so I live in a nice pink bubble there - but that's okay with me :D.


message 10: by Silvana (new)

Silvana (silvaubrey) I am sorry most of you have bad experience with Twitter. I like it since it is very handy to contact most of my favorite authors. I scored some Q&A for some of my Goodreads groups because it is easy to contact them there rather than sending emails. And reading their banters is so much fun! I know it could be toxic and all but to each their own, I guess.


message 11: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Z (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 3480 comments Mod
Back to the story. I've read it and while it did made me uncomfortable in some places (incl. highlighted by the narrator), I'm an old cis male from a culture that even now is not very friendly to gays and about trans people don't even talk (and most would possibly mix them with transvestites). However, the idea of mapping so that the situation is processed on an almost subconscious level is very interesting


message 12: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 649 comments Antti wrote: "Have you noticed that these over-the-top "shitstorms" always start on Twitter? I'm ready to declare Twitter a public menace and it's existence as a huge net negative..."

Many of these storms start on Reddit as well.

And sometimes the "storm" is basically 4 or 5 people and then we talk about it as if it is the whole country.

So, where does twittler fall on the list of the 30 most evil corporations? The answer might surprise you! (Or not. Maybe this is just click-bait.)


message 13: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 649 comments The title of the story reminds me of the play I look like an egg, but I identify as a cookie. But I expect the play is a more serious look at the subject.


message 14: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new)

Art | 2551 comments Mod
At this point I just hope that an alien race with higher intellect would appear and establish a Ministry of Truth (with a whole department set aside for the Internet Police) to settle ridiculous disputes human race can't get to agree on.

Whatever authors convictions were bullying them actively enough to get them to pull the story is just wrong, they also incidentally made that person come publicly out of the closet trying to use that as defense (to no avail) and causing a lot of anguish, not to mention whatever this does to their career.
In any case, however strongly you feel about your convictions inciting violence towards another person makes you a persecutor and an oppressor. Nazis were convinced they were the good guys too, making the world a better place.


message 15: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Z (last edited Jan 19, 2020 02:31AM) (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 3480 comments Mod
Art wrote: "Whatever authors convictions were bullying them actively enough to get them to pull the story is just wrong, they also incidentally made that person come publicly out of the closet trying to use that as defense (to no avail) and causing a lot of anguish, not to mention whatever this does to their career."

I see even a greater problem that texts aren't separated from writers. What was an initial attack on this novelette? That it was written by a troll, possibly some remnant of Rabid Puppies. Now we know that it was written by a trans person. The text remained the same but attitudes toward it change. This is a variant of my biggest beef with ownvoices - I fully support the idea that we should give a marginalized authors a chance for larger readership, but I cannot agree that it is always true that a person who doesn't belong to a minority group cannot write about it.

On the contrary, I think that Sturgeon's law holds (ninety percent of everything is crap.) for books written by minority authors as well and the very fact that the minority is almost always a small share of total population means that it is quite likely that a person from 99% majority will be talented enough to better represent a minority in their works that 1% minorities. This doesn't mean that we should silence minorities in any way or to presume we can always fit in their shoes


message 16: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 649 comments Oleksandr wrote: "... I fully support the idea that we should give a marginalized authors a chance for larger readership, but I cannot agree that it is always true that a person who doesn't belong to a minority group cannot write about it. ..."

I totally agree. One of my "friends" on this site recently posted a review where they claimed they refused to read the book because the main character was a Native American, but the author was not. Of course they are free to read or not read whatever they want, and we all have limited time to spend as we please. But the implication, I think, was that nobody should read such a book.


message 17: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 649 comments Back to the "Helicopter" story...

A slightly related story happened recently in my town. A guy who has Japanese ancestry put on a one-man show about his life. In the title he used a word that has been used as a racist slur about Japanese people. He was talking about himself, reclaiming the word in a way. Even so, there was so much criticism that he changed the name and issued a written apology.

The very talented singer/performer Todrick Hall recently did a video about himself called "Fag". (You can watch it here.) He is very definitely using the word in a positive way about himself, similar to the way it is used in The Faggiest Vampire.

I went to one of his concerts shortly after he released this. The audience was full of all types of people all enjoying it. Afterwards, I bought one of the "FAG" T-shirts he wears in that video. But I'm scared to wear it! I know that I mean it in a positive way, and that I'm talking about myself using a word that has been used against me many times, but the shirt could give the wrong impression and I'm a coward.

(Perhaps even worse is the back of the shirt where it says "I'm the 1". That's the sort of brag all rappers make about themselves, but I'm afraid people here would think of "The 1%" of rich people.)


message 18: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 649 comments Another example: the graphic novel American Born Chinese. While it is a popular book by a popular author and he was writing based on his own experiences growing up with Chinese heritage in USA, some people get really offended by the intentionally stereotypical character in it, and the title itself is considered a slur by some. Just look at the 1-star reviews.


message 19: by Sarah (last edited Jan 21, 2020 01:05AM) (new)

Sarah Tate | 338 comments Ed wrote: "I know that I mean it in a positive way, and that I'm talking about myself using a word that has been used against me many times, but the shirt could give the wrong impression and I'm a coward."

I'm a big advocate of 'reclaiming' slurs and harmful language. Although women are not a minority as such, we've seen a shift in how the words bitch, slut, etc. are used to empower women as much as they bring them down. No doubt other pejoratives will similarly gain traction over time.

However, I'm just a nobody. If my whole career was at risk of being cancelled by social media outrage, I'd consider keeping that in the private sphere.

It's hard to have unpopular opinions when your livelihood hinges on the whims of mob mentality.


message 20: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Z (last edited Jan 21, 2020 06:36AM) (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 3480 comments Mod
While I support attempts to reclaim slurs, I honestly cannot envision it in my country just yet. Local slur for gays is often than not used just to offend someone (I guess it stresses 'unmanliness'), so the one step ahead that was made is to say "*slurword* in the bad sense" which should signal that the speaker has nothing against gays but the one, whom s/he labeled such is a bad person.

Todrick Hall was interesting (I admit I don't watch a lot of music videos), thanks for pointing to an interesting performer.


message 21: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new)

Art | 2551 comments Mod
Todrick Hall is an extremely talented performer.


message 22: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 649 comments Art wrote: "Todrick Hall is an extremely talented performer."

Yeah. He's done 100s of videos, some of them are fabulous. I love his parody of "Mean Girls" called "Mean Boyz". (He also did "Mean Gurlz", but it isn't quite as good.)

Did you notice that the "Fag" video is done in one single take? (Not a fake single take like the movie "1917", but a real single take.)


message 23: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 649 comments Sarah wrote: "... It's hard to have unpopular opinions when your livelihood hinges on the whims of mob mentality. ..."

Amen! I'm not strong enough to try it. I keep my strong ideas off of social media and don't ever want to be famous.

Related news, recently the "Romance Writers of America" group fell apart starting from accusations of one writer against another for racism.


message 24: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 649 comments Oleksandr wrote: "While I support attempts to reclaim slurs, I honestly cannot envision it in my country just yet...."

Let me be clear, "Fag" is still very offensive to most people. It is possible that this website will remove my posts if someone flags them. Todrick is being intentionally provocative.

"Gay" is OK most of time, but it is also still a common insult, especially for children.

"Queer" is mostly OK, but still offends some, especially older people.


message 25: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Z (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 3480 comments Mod
Thanks for clarification, Ed, for a non-native there is always a possibility to unintentionally offend people


message 26: by Sarah (last edited Jan 22, 2020 01:40AM) (new)

Sarah Tate | 338 comments Ed wrote: "Let me be clear, "Fag" is still very offensive to most people."

There was a brilliant South Park episode a few years back, titled The F Word, which I'd highly recommend if you're a fan of the genre. It's actually a very sophisticated satire. Of course it caused a bit of controversy, but unlike the aforementioned Novelette, South Park's brand is built on causing offence, so they can get away unscathed after episodes like that.


message 27: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 649 comments Yeah, Z, I think it is important to learn some of the slang, swears, and slurs in any foreign language you are learning. But you should never attempt to use most of those words. It will often sound more offensive coming from someone who isn't native. It even feels weird to me when my non-native friends use "y'all" or "ain't", which are words that sound perfectly fine from a native.

If you learned English only from British people, you might think the word "fag" is OK, because British use it all the time to refer to a cigarette. Brits also use a word, "c*nt", which I do not even dare to type here. It is an insult in both places, but it is common in Britain, but very, very offensive in USA.


message 28: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 649 comments Sarah wrote: "... There was a brilliant South Park episode a few years back, titled The F Word, which I'd highly recommend if you're a fan ..."

That looks like fun. They also had one on the N Word.

They can be funny and insightful and offensive all at the same time.


message 29: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 649 comments Sarah wrote: "... we've seen a shift in how the words bitch, slut, etc. are used to empower women as much as they bring them down ..."

Well, I took a DNA test and I'm 100% NOT going to call myself a B*tch. It's OK for Lizzo to do it.

Drag queens use that word a lot, along with some others that can be even more offensive, like "fish" and "c*nt". I'm surprised RuPaul's show has gotten relatively little controversy over that. They did get some controversy over "she-male", which was their punny name for "e-mail". I suppose it is because drag queens are still a repressed minority that it feels more liberating than oppressive.


message 30: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (last edited Jan 22, 2020 02:17PM) (new)

Art | 2551 comments Mod
Ed wrote: "Brits also use a word, "c*nt", which I do not even dare to type here. "

There are many instances where you would use it when referring to your dear friend or someone you are on good terms with. A term of endearment of sorts.

Ed wrote: "I suppose it is because drag queens are still a repressed minority that it feels more liberating than oppressive.
"


Double standards for the win!


message 31: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 649 comments To bring it back to Hugo/Nebula, Rebecca Roanhorse won both last year. She is partly of Pueblo heritage. But she gets criticized by some for using Navajo (Diné) ideas in her stories.

Here is a criticism from Michael Thompson, of Muscogee Creek heritage: https://americanindiansinchildrenslit...


...

Roanhorse must know that some traditional Navajo people consider her use of sacred figures and practices profoundly inappropriate. Those objections are well-documented.

She just doesn’t care.

...

I am well aware that many people, maybe even a majority of Native people, consider the objections I am making inconsequential. So be it.

...


I think I'm on her side on this. (Though I haven't read her stories yet.) Lots of stories that I read are deeply offensive to my parents and their culture. For example, my parents are offended by Monty Python's "Life of Brian". I DON'T CARE. If they don't like it, they don't have to watch it. I can respect their beliefs, and yet criticize them.

(R.I.P. Terry Jones.)


message 32: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new)

Kateblue | 3667 comments Mod
Yes, R.I.P. Terry Jones. We will miss you


message 33: by Joe (new)

Joe Santoro | 202 comments South Park does, at times, have some brilliant satire. At other times they come up with Mr. Hanky the Christmas poo.

They parody WoW brilliantly.... before that an even better one about facebook games/farmville was amazing.

Then there was one about the practice people editing pics for magazine to make them too perfect... great message from guys they usually just mess with people.

I ready both Trial of Lightning (for my local book club) and the Star Wars book by Rebecca Roanhorse. She seems a decent writing, but neither did much for me. The Navajo mythology in the Trial was pretty limited and kinda generic seeming... often when reading that sort of sci fi, I feel like I've learned something and am often inspired to search out the originals.. there wasn't enough to do that in her book.


message 34: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new)

Art | 2551 comments Mod
Joe wrote: "I read both Trial of Lightning (for my local book club) and the Star Wars book by Rebecca Roanhorse. She seems a decent writing, but neither did much for me. "

Feel free to add to the discussion if you feel like it. Here are the links:
Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse (No Spoilers / Spoilers)


message 35: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Z (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 3480 comments Mod
Back to the story, I noted the following piece and wanted to comment on it in detail, because, I assume, the author cites some other work:

"When the women of Soviet Russia went to war against the Nazis, when they volunteered by the thousands to serve as snipers and pilots and tank drivers and infantry and partisans, they fought hard and they fought well. They ate frozen horse dung and hauled men twice their weight out of burning tanks. They shot at their own mothers to kill the Nazis behind her.

But they did not lose their gender; they gave up the inhibition against killing but would not give up flowers in their hair, polish for their shoes, a yearning for the young lieutenant, a kiss on his dead lips.

And if that is not enough to convince you that gender grows deep enough to thrive in war: when the war ended the Soviet women were punished. They went unmarried and unrespected. They were excluded from the victory parades. They had violated their gender to fight for the state and the state judged that violation worth punishment more than their heroism was worth reward."


In short, what is written is true, but it is just a small piece of truth.

There is a bunch of misconceptions, once again based on grassroots democratic movements. Not so in the USSR (once again, Soviet Russia was only part of the Soviet Union, albeit the largest). During the Great Patriotic war (1941-1945), the number of women that passed military training was 220 thousands. More than half of this number were medics and radio operators (communication). The only infantry was a group that worked as convoys for prisoners (both local and prisoners of war), not at front lines. The most famous and only all-women aviation group amounted 115 persons and was created chiefly for propaganda purposes (in doesn't mean they hasn't fought valiantly). For comparison, over 20 mln men passed military training and over 11 mln were killed. So there coefficient of women share in army was about 1% of army forces, mainly far from frontlines.

This in no way means that women's part was small - it was essential for the war effort but it was on homefront, in industry and agriculture.

They weren't on the main victory parade in 1945 but they did take part in smaller parades in places where they were more present. as for the state, it hasn't punished them - much worse, it was indifferent


message 36: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new)

Art | 2551 comments Mod
Oleksandr wrote: "Back to the story, I noted the following piece and wanted to comment on it in detail, because, I assume, the author cites some other work:

"When the women of Soviet Russia went to war against the ..."


Thanks for the follow up, Z.
Just to add a few things:


Over 800,000 women served in the Soviet armed forces in World War II, mostly as medics and nurses, which is over 3 percent of total personnel; nearly 200,000 of them were decorated. 89 of them eventually received the Soviet Union’s highest award, the Hero of the Soviet Union, they served as pilots, snipers, machine gunners, tank crew members and partisans, as well as in auxiliary roles.


Also there is the fact that almost none of them made officer ranks and as soon as the war was over the higher-ups backpedaled and restored the misogynistic attitudes that pervaded before the war.

They mostly let women fight out of desperation (not to say that there were no women who never asked permission to protect their loved ones) than any other reason. The same Germany had women and kids defend Berlin when the schnitzel hit the fan.


message 37: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Z (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 3480 comments Mod
Art wrote: "Oleksandr wrote: "They mostly let women fight out of desperation (not to say that there were no women who never asked permission to protect their loved ones) than any other reason. The same Germany had women and kids defend Berlin when the schnitzel hit the fan."

Again true but the story is more complex. It wasn't like in Germany case that there were no men to fill the ranks (btw Nazi, despite all their talk about that women should be mothers and housewives, added them as 'voluntary helpers' in April 1941 and as equal to men combatants in 1944). There were nazi women on frontline in 1944 but not soviet (where they could help it).

Take pilots. There were 3 avia regiments where women took part - 586th Fighter Aviation Regiment, the 587th Bomber Aviation Regiment and the 588th Night Bomber Regiment. The first two had mixed teams, if you look at their stats you'll see that among the fighter regiment more than half of destroyed enemy aircraft was by men. The total is relatively low because mostly they protected objects deep behind front lines. The most known "night witches" 588th Night Bomber Regiment was very specific, light biplanes without weapons, only bombs. They worked chiefly against infrastructure, often unprotected by AA guns. When Germans became enraged by talk about the 'witches' they send a regiment of fighters (Me 110) and instantly downed several planes, after which Soviets banned flights until Nazi were relocated.

About back-pedaling after the war, again, "yes, but..." situation. Chiefly for political reasons even before the war the share of women in labor force was quite high, including in order to be able to replace men in case of mobilization. and the misogynistic attitudes were quite present during the war as well, so it wasn't like "we have no men, let's women be our men" but more "we build a new society were women are treated equal, but protected, so on one had we show them for propaganda, on the other we don't care for their problems"


message 38: by Antti (new)

Antti Värtö (andekn) | 750 comments I finally read the story. It was okay. A bit too didactic - too often I felt like I was reading a Tumblr effortpost - but good enough. The opaqueness of algoritmic decision-making was a nice sub-theme.

The main theme of weaponized gender was interesting if somewhat tongue-in-cheek thought-experiment, but I get that this story was mainly written as a way to reclaim the "I identify as an attack helicopter hurr durr" meme.


message 39: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 649 comments There is an update to the story. It is a long, but interesting read about the after-effects of this scandal on the author. Short version: twitter almost killed her.

https://www.vox.com/the-highlight/225...

...like almost all examples of cancel culture run amok, it’s mostly an example of Twitter run amok.

... nuance gets completely worn away on Twitter, home of paranoid readings.


message 40: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Z (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 3480 comments Mod
Ed wrote: "There is an update to the story."

Thanks, Ed, this was informative


message 41: by TomK2 (new)

TomK2 (thomaskrolick) | 309 comments Sarah wrote: "Ed wrote: "Let me be clear, "Fag" is still very offensive to most people."

There was a brilliant South Park episode a few years back, titled The F Word, which I'd highly recommend if you're a fan ..."


Sarah - that South Park episode lives in infamy because of the excoriating satire of......... Harley Davidson riders in the USA. The Harley crowd was the true target, and I am still laughing to this day.

As for the story of this thread, I read it in the 2021 Hugo Voter packet for Best Novelette, titled "Helicopter Story." It seems a title change took place somewhere.


message 42: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 649 comments The vox article explains the name change. Also, here is the author's response to it being nominated:
“How do I feel about the nomination? I don’t know,” Fall says by email. “It’s a nice validation to know that some people liked the story enough to nominate it. But it’s also dreadful to know that this will just mean reopening the conversation, which will lead to a lot of people being hurt.”

I don't think it should have been nominated. When it was withdrawn, the editor said "She needed this to be done for her own personal safety and health." So it seems insensitive to bring it back to the spotlight.


message 43: by Sarah (last edited Jul 09, 2021 04:17AM) (new)

Sarah Tate | 338 comments Ed wrote: "I don't think it should have been nominated."

Judging from comments and reviews, along with the nominations it received, it resonated with a lot of people. It's really lamentable that Fall received so much backlash and that it took a toll on her health at a time when she felt so fragile. I'm sure everyone who nominated it had good intentions and felt like it could help more people. Maybe it did?

Honestly when I first saw the (original) title I wrote it off as a troll nomination by the Sad Puppies et al again, and if I was more invested in it I too would have demanded the author's credentials.

Thanks for linking the article, Ed. It was quite insightful.


message 44: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new)

Kateblue | 3667 comments Mod
yes, Ed. thanks for the link. I read the story sometime close to when it came out, and I loved it. I always wondered what happened.

I hope it wins.


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