Overwhelmed by AI

Live by the sword, die by the sword. Clarkesworld science fiction magazine is forced to close to submissions by a flood of ChatGTP entries.

Submissions are currently closed. It shouldn’t be hard to guess why.

  1. We aren’t closing the magazine. Closing submissions means that we aren’t considering stories from authors at this time. We will reopen, but have not set a date.
  2. We don’t have a solution for the problem. We have some ideas for minimizing it, but the problem isn’t going away. Detectors are unreliable. Pay-to-submit sacrifices too many legit authors. Print submissions are not viable for us.
  3. Various third-party tools for identity confirmation are more expensive than magazines can afford and tend to have regional holes. Adopting them would be the same as banning entire countries.
  4. We could easily implement a system that only allowed authors that had previously submitted work to us. That would effectively ban new authors, which is not acceptable. They are an essential part of this ecosystem and our future.
  5. The people causing the problem are from outside the SF/F community. Largely driven in by “side hustle” experts making claims of easy money with ChatGPT. They are driving this and deserve some of the disdain shown to the AI developers.
  6. Our guidelines already state that we don’t want “AI” written or assisted works. They don’t care. A checkbox on a form won’t stop them. They just lie.

I don’t know why this strikes me as particularly funny, but it does. Especially because it won’t be long before SFWA has its first fake member, given the way the most successful clout-chasing con artists think. Wracking up three professional publications wouldn’t be hard, and I don’t think the ever-so-inclusive organization has any specific requirement that its members be human or actually exist.

It has to be admitted. For all its evil and awfulness, Clown World can be amusing sometimes.


China Buys SF Publisher

This acquisition of an old science fiction publishing house by what appears to be SJWs funded by Chinese money should provide some amusement going forward:

New York, May 19, 2020 – The formation of Astra Publishing House was announced today by COO and Publisher Ben Schrank. “The time is right for a new publishing house that’s deeply committed to progressive values and that champions authors from all corners of the world. Astra Publishing House’s foremost aim is to build bridges between readers and writers in all nations, and I’m so excited to be part of a venture that speaks to an increasing necessity for a shared global consciousness.”

Astra Publishing House is comprised of Astra House, an entirely new adult trade publisher of American and international literary fiction and poetry, and mission-driven nonfiction.

These guys make Castalia House, which has been around since 2014, look decidedly old school.

In big news for science fiction and fantasy publishing, DAW Books is no longer an independently owned publisher. This morning, Astra Publishing House announced its acquisition of the storied SFF imprint.

In a press release, DAW co-publishers (and, until today, owners) Betsy Wollheim and Sheila Gilbert said, “We are extremely pleased by Astra’s enthusiasm, and thrilled that we will be the sole SFF imprint of their company (a first for DAW). We think this is the perfect fit for us, and it’s exciting and refreshing to be an integral part of a new and growing company. It speaks volumes about Astra’s respect for our company that they have included our entire staff. We’re very happy.”

Previously, DAW was partnered with Penguin Random House, which distributed DAW’s titles. (PRH also distributes Astra Publishing House’s books.)

DAW Books was founded in 1971 by Donald A. Wollheim and his wife, Elsie B. Wollheim. It was the first imprint exclusively devoted to science fiction and fantasy, and over the years has published more than 2000 books from a long list of well-regarded authors, including Patrick Rothfuss, Tad Williams, Melanie Rawn, Tanith Lee, Nnedi Okorafor, and Seanan McGuire.

Something isn’t adding up here. As a general rule, China doesn’t tolerate SJWs very well. For example, Disney can’t release its Marvel movies in China anymore. So, it will be fascinating to see where this goes, especially given the specific mention of that “mission-driven” motivation.

It wouldn’t be surprising if Astra makes a bid for Tor soon as well.


SF-SJW unleashed

Jeff Denton wants to know how we feel.

Statues coming down, name changes, Bannon out, NK Jemison getting awards, alt-right in a meltdown(see ramzpaul), Trump on the ropes, white birth rates plummeting, immigration being ramped up. How does it feel? Knowing you guys have lost completely

Oh, but we haven’t lost at all! Far from it. This guy is a bit more perspicacious than old Jeff.

This year’s awards were less directly impacted by those meddlesome puppies, but I feel like we’re still suffering through an indirect backlash and overcorrection…. The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin takes the rocket for Best Novel, making Jemisin just the third author to have back-to-back wins in this category (joining the ranks of Orson Scott Card and Lois McMaster Bujold). She’s a good author, but damn, these books are not for me. Both were at the bottom of my ballot and while I can see why her novel won last year, this one is a little more baffling.

(whistles innocently) Now, lest you doubt the observation that SF-SJWs can create nothing new, and are little more than scabrous, over-medicated dung-feeders crawling about the skeletons of their predecessors attempting to scavenge off their leavings, consider two-time successive Best Novel winner N.K. Jemisin’s next project, from an interview with Tor.

So if you’re using Cthulhu, are you an H.P. Lovecraft fan?

Oh, hell no. This is deliberately a chance for me to kind of mess with the Lovecraft legacy. He was a notorious racist and horrible human being. So this is a chance for me to have the “chattering” hordes—that’s what he called the horrifying brown people of New York that terrified him. This is a chance for me to basically have them kick the ass of his creation. So I’m looking forward to having some fun with that.
It sounds as if Jemisin’s novel will join an ongoing conversation re-examining Lovecraft’s works in the context of their creator, a conversation that currently includes Victor LaValle’s The Ballad of Black Tom, Matt Ruff’s Lovecraft Country, Ruthanna Emrys’ Winter Tide (as well as the Lovecraft Reread), and other recent works engaging with and challenging Lovecraft’s mythos.

Sounds Hugo award-winning to me!

Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.

The 2017 Hugo Award winners. I think we can state that the convergence of mainstream published “science fiction” is now complete. Notice anything about the winners?
Best Novel
The Obelisk Gate, by N. K. Jemisin (Orbit Books)
Best Novella
Every Heart a Doorway, by Seanan McGuire (Tor.com publishing)
Best Novelette
“The Tomato Thief”, by Ursula Vernon (Apex Magazine, January 2016)
Best Short Story
“Seasons of Glass and Iron”, by Amal El-Mohtar (The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales, Saga Press)
Best Related Work
Words Are My Matter: Writings About Life and Books, 2000-2016, by Ursula K. Le Guin (Small Beer)
Best Graphic Story
Monstress, Volume 1: Awakening, written by Marjorie Liu, illustrated by Sana Takeda (Image)
Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)
Arrival, screenplay by Eric Heisserer based on a short story by Ted Chiang, directed by Denis Villeneuve (21 Laps Entertainment/FilmNation Entertainment/Lava Bear Films)
Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form)
The Expanse: “Leviathan Wakes”, written by Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, directed by Terry McDonough (SyFy)
Best Editor – Short Form
Ellen Datlow
Best Editor – Long Form
Liz Gorinsky
Best Professional Artist
Julie Dillon
Best Semiprozine
Uncanny Magazine, edited by Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas, Michi Trota, Julia Rios, and podcast produced by Erika Ensign & Steven Schapansky
Best Fanzine
Lady Business, edited by Clare, Ira, Jodie, KJ, Renay, and Susan
Best Fancast
Tea and Jeopardy, presented by Emma Newman with Peter Newman
Best Fan Writer
Abigail Nussbaum
Best Fan Artist
Elizabeth Leggett
Best Series
The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold (Baen)
John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer
Ada Palmer (1st year of eligibility)
The best part is that NK Jemisin is now the two-time Hugo Award winner for Best Novel. In succession.

Why I don’t go to conventions

This pretty much covers it, in a nutshell.


Romance and the Power of the Female Gaze panel with Donna Maree Hanson, Carrie Vaughn, Nick Hubble and Cassandra Rose Clarke. #Worldcon75

Ye cats. I don’t care how big and influential Castalia House becomes in the future. You will never, ever, see me at one of those things. My one experience 20 years ago at MiniCon was considerably more than enough for me.
Besides, I have far more important things to do. Tonight, two teams from my soccer club are playing a friendly; the veterans are playing the men’s second team. I am the starting left wing for the former, while Ender is a starter for the latter. The kid is brimming with confidence, claiming his team just has to keep it close until the second half, when they’re counting on us running out of gas. It’s not a bad strategy, since we probably have an average of 16 years per player on them. Our oldest player is a few months older than me, and he’s 22 years older than their oldest player.
I realized how much is on the line when I ran into the star of the first team yesterday. He asked if I was playing, and when I said that I was, said that he’d see me there. I was a little surprised (and concerned, since he is exceptional), but he explained that most of the first team guys are coming to watch. Which means the losers will not hear the end of it any time soon.

John Scalzi withdraws

Mr. John Scalzi has graciously withdrawn his fine work of science fiction, THE COLLAPSING EMPIRE aka SEE, I CAN’T DO ASIMOV EITHER, from consideration for Best Science Fiction novel.

The other day I announced The Collapsing Empire was a finalist for the Dragon Award in the Best Science Fiction novel category, which was neat. Today, I notified the Dragon Award administrators and let them know I was withdrawing The Collapsing Empire from consideration for the award.

The reason is simple: Some other finalists are trying to use the book and me as a prop, to advance a manufactured “us vs. them” vote-pumping narrative based on ideology or whatever. And I just… can’t. I don’t have the interest and I’m on a deadline, and this bullshit is even more stale and stupid now than it was the several other times it was attempted recently, with regard to genre awards.

My plan was to ignore it, but on further reflection (and further evidence that this nonsense was going to continue through the finalist voting period), I decided this was the better course. To the extent this bullshit manufactured narrative is centered on me, well, now it’s not, as far as these awards are concerned. I’m delighted to be able to chop it off at the knees by removing myself from consideration. I wish the progenitors of this narrative luck; now they will have to compete with the other finalists on the basis of the quality of their work instead.

Also, it will spare him the embarrassment of losing. Because, you see, if you don’t try, then it doesn’t count!

And the Secret King wins again.

Mike Glyer doesn’t like Larry Correia

He really, really doesn’t like him:

Ultimately Correia remains enraged at me today because four years ago, I was one of the people (as were some of you) who said no to him when he wanted to help himself to the Best Novel Hugo. Not that I could actually stop that from happening, but when I started covering as news what Sad Puppies, Rabid Puppies, and everyone else had to say about the controversy (in their own words, with links to the rest of their posts), I had an impact by facilitating the growth of a new community of people who wanted to talk about these issues — most of them opposing the vandalism of an institution they had spent years building up.

In 2013, Correia had decided that someone with his sales figures and blog readership, who had twice had a book on the New York Times bestseller list (for a single week) deserved a Hugo, and started organizing his readers to make it happen. He didn’t think of the members of fandom as his neighbors or colleagues; he approached it like the raid culture of ancient times where you go and steal somebody’s cattle if you think you can get away with it. Despite all of the agitation he stirred up among his followers, he got only 101 nominations and failed to make the ballot.

Larry knew that since the previous summer’s raid hadn’t worked out as well as he’d hoped, to sack Troy, he would need more boats and warriors in 2014. He wrapped his nomination campaign in the flag of the culture wars. Literary awards don’t fire people up, but political motivations do. He called on readers to nominate himself plus selected friends and editors as a way to ”stick it to those SJWs”. His book made the final ballot with the third-highest number of nominating votes (184) and lost to Ancillary Justice. Two hundred votes is enough to do any amount of damage to the Hugo nominating ballot — but after two years of effort by a bestselling author, it doesn’t seem like much of a number.

In 2015 Correia gave the project to Brad Torgersen, his Patroclus, who couldn’t wait to don Larry’s armor and lead the Sad Puppies 3 campaign. Torgersen put together a slate composed of both willing and unwilling writers (with some demanding to be removed), and spearheaded his campaign with a series of abusive political tirades against the Worldcon voters. However, his band of award pirates soon discovered that the Agamemnon of their scenario was really Vox Day. His Rabid Puppies slate blanketed nearly all the Hugo categories, and his followers dictated the 2015 ballot. Larry Correia’s latest novel was one of the things on their slate, but despite three years spent jacking up his readers and colleagues to get him this award, at this point he refused his nomination, went back to his tent, and let everyone else go forward without him.

File 770 covered that story and became a place people gathered to discuss it, and correspondingly became a lightning rod for Larry Correia’s wrath. In the past two years, whenever my name or this site’s name is mentioned in comments on his blog he can always be counted on to erupt in a spew of obscenities about me — in fact, one of his followers regularly injects my name into the conversation just to see him go off. And that same spirit controlled what Correia said on Facebook, and wrote in his post. Likewise the blizzard of comments from Correia’s followers, filled with playground taunts and references to Japanese pornography and prison sex. And these things can be expected to continue because of his example and that they’re encouraged in his comment community.

Then again, Larry Correia really, really doesn’t like China Mike either:

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the seedy underbelly of fandom, File 770 is a garbage gossip column website run by a scumbag named Mike Glyer. His whole shtick is to be a news aggregator for the sci-fi/fantasy business and collect links from people who actually create things for a living. He play acts at being an impartial journalist, but in reality everything he does is slanted to screw over anybody he doesn’t like.

He chums the water for his horde of psychos so they can go about forming internet lynch mobs, boycotts, and black ballings. But then he pretends to be all impartial and above the fray. If you ever want to lose all faith in humanity, read the comments there. His regulars range between basement dwelling goons, creepy weirdo stalkers, and angry rainbow haired social justice warriors.

If you are in any writer’s groups with conservative or libertarian authors in them, then you’ve inevitably heard about this shithole website. We mostly call it Vile 770 or File 666. At one point or another that page has tried to start shit with every author who gets on Glyer’s bad side. Because when you are ever the nail that sticks up, the File 770 crew are the hammer that wants to knock you back down. Luckily, they’re about as effective as a Fisher Price squeaky hammer. So mostly we just mock them.

No matter how big or small you are, if you write something that draws their ire, Glyer will link to you, write some passive aggressive misleading bullshit, and then his little minions will go out of their way to slander you. You are evil and their side is all goodness and light. Usually the slander is about how insignificant and unimportant their foes are, and how they totally don’t even know who you are, which is ironic coming from comments that are bizarrely fixated with your personal details. Across the board they are jealous, spiteful, and really kind of pathetic.

I drew his ire several years ago with my campaign to show that the Hugos were biased. Since Glyer has like 40 something Hugo nominations he took that personal. Go figure. (Sadly, I wish I was exaggerating that number).  He’s been linking back to me constantly ever since, always muck raking and shit stirring. He’ll usually post some passive aggressive thing about look how evil I am, his flying monkeys get riled up, and then he acts all innocent and says he was just reporting the news.

Since I’ve got nothing but contempt for the two faced bastard, I just delete his track backs and move on. I still come up a lot over there . My guess is he really hates me because unlike most authors I don’t dance around with fake politeness. They love fake politeness. They screw you over with impunity, and when you fight back, then they are all about “tone”.

The thing is, for all their mutual dislike, there is an amount of nuance here that may escape your attention. Larry correctly identifies the real problem at File 770 being the commenters, who are as nasty as they are mid-witted. I’ve never been able to discern if Mike Glyer truly shares many of their opinions – unlike them, he seems to grasp that I don’t care about awards and I’m actually pretty good at what I do – or if he’s simply stuck riding the tiger of his readership.

Regardless, the point is that there is more to this than mere personal dislike. The Pink/Blue divide in SF is substantive, ideological, and real, and it is a reflection of the primary divide in the USA that is cultural, ideological, and identity-based.

As for me, I stand by Larry, because he does not throw people under the bus to spare himself. He had every opportunity to do so, indeed, he was actively lobbied to do so by more than a few well-known people, and yet he refused. That is what men of character and integrity do. But I do think there is hope for Mike, if he can ever find the courage to reject the dishonesty and partisanship of his commenters and embrace the objective position that befits the true historian. The ironic thing is that he’d probably a) gain readership and b) never win another SF award if he did so.

Speaking of Puppies, don’t forget to get your Dragon Award votes in. My recommendations are here.

Blog rankings

Again, I will point out that Alexa is a stupid and unreliable metric that doesn’t even measure traffic. But because I’m one of the few bloggers who is transparent about my traffic – 103,968 Google pageviews here yesterday – we’re forced to resort to it for the purposes of comparison.

Mike Glyer was under the impression that File 770 had a better Alexa ranking than Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter Nation.

Let’s look at the current US rankings for a few SF sites.

  • 323,236: File 770
  • 111,092: Monster Hunter Nation
  • 88,956: Castalia House
  • 63,207: Black Gate
  • 45,741: Whatever
  • 20,907: Not a Blog
  • 9,611: Vox Popoli
  • 6,506: Tor
Those are the facts. About the relative positions I would have assumed. I leave it to you to manage their interpretation.

The Dragon and the dying industry

Russell Newquist announces his Dragon Award recommendations:

The nomination period for the 2017 Dragon Awards closes very soon. I waited until almost the last minute this year, but I do have a handful of recommendations.

  • Best Science Fiction Novel – I’m going to have to go with The Secret Kings by Brian Niemeier. Its predecessor proved worthy of last year’s Dragon Award, and the third book in the series only ratchets everything up further. Solid book. Read my review of it here.
  • Best Fantasy Novel – Hands down, A Sea of Skulls by Vox Day. I’ll have a review of this one up soonish, but this series continues to beat the pants off of A Song of Ice and Fire.
  • Best Young Adult NovelRachel and the Many Splendored Dreamland by L. Jagi Lamplighter. This book actually turned a 13 year old girl (horrible creatures!) into a lovable character, and deserves the award for that alone. But it’s a fantastic book on top of that. See my review for more details.
  • Best Military SF or Fantasy Novel – I’ve been too busy and haven’t read any this year. ?

Read the rest of them there. I am pleased, however, to see that readers continue to think highly of the Arts of Dark and Light series, and in particular, A Sea of Skulls. It’s interesting to see how there is still absolutely no notice taken of it at all, or of massively successful authors such as Richard Fox, BV Larson, David VanDyke, Nick Cole, Vaughn Heppner, Christopher Nuttall, in the mainstream SF/F publishing world.

Which, of course, is one reason why the mainstream SF/F publishing world is dying. File 770 chronicles the shrinkage of BookExpo:

Having attended from the mid 1970s to now, I’ve seen the convention grow enormously, with extravagant parties and promotional events — parties on paddle wheelers in New Orleans, at Hugh Hefner’s mansion in LA, at Radio City Music Hall in NYC, and the party in DC for The Name of the Rose, held at the Italian Embassy’s estate — among memorable soirees, and then shrink from more than 40,000 attendees to the current ensmalled convention, with exhibits taking a fraction of the space they used to.

There were wide empty places on the exhibit floor that in years past would have had booths shoe-horned in everywhere; empty spaces behind black curtains where nothing was happening; meeting rooms that in previous years would have been on other floors.

Many of the older exhibitors I talked to commented on this shrinking convention, and wondered what the future would bring. The convention has already become a 2-and-a-half day event from 4-5 days previously. It’s rattling around in the Javits Center now, and I wonder whether it could go back to being held in a few large hotels instead. Or back to DC’s Shoreham Hotel, where it was held for decades, with the publishers displaying their wares on card tables in the hotel’s garage.

But the shrinking trade shows and aging fan conventions aren’t the only sign. I have been increasingly hearing about cuts at Tor, Baen, Orbit, and other publishing houses, cuts that include names most SF readers would recognize. Most of this information isn’t public yet, but don’t be surprised when you start seeing familiar names gravitating to independent publishing houses or suddenly deciding to “dip a toe” into the wild West of self-publishing.

The product is the problem. But it certainly doesn’t help that mainstream SF/F is increasingly a pure SJW freakshow, written by, published by, and read by socially hapless freaks whose only appeal is to their fellow social justice warriors. The photo, taken at BookExpo, is a graphic illustration of the decline and fall of science fiction in a snapshot.

They should have let Luke direct

Then the Star Wars sequels might not have been such barely mitigated disasters. He had some ideas, you see.

As noted in my cover story, Hamill has a lot of thoughts on how Luke might have been reintroduced differently in The Force Awakens. He could have come in during Han Solo’s climactic scene with Kylo Ren, receiving some sort of Force-telepathy distress call from his sister, General Leia, but arriving too late to save Han from death. Or, perhaps, he might have materialized in the snowy forest of Starkiller Base, where Rey duels with Kylo. On his first read-through of the script, Hamill recalled, he got excited when the legendary lightsaber wiggled portentously in the snow. “The moment in the forest, when the saber rattles?” he said. “I go, ‘Oh, baby, here I come!’ And then it flies into her hands? I said, What the hell, she hasn’t even trained!”

Likewise, after reading Rian Johnson’s script for The Last Jedi, Hamill said, “I at one point had to say to Rian, ‘I pretty much fundamentally disagree with every choice you’ve made for this character. Now, having said that, I have gotten it off my chest, and my job now is to take what you’ve created and do my best to realize your vision.’”

And that is one of the many reasons I will never see the sequels to the movies I loved so much as a child. Never to forgive, never to forget. But also, never fear. Faraway Wars: Embers of Empire is coming later this summer for all your revisionist space opera requirements.