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So, the 2014 Hugo finalists came out. And the usual furor ensued about which authors are pushing which agendas--which is always an interesting conversation. Over at Tor.com, Liz Bourke posted "Sleeps with Monsters: How about Those Hugos?," and I found the comments section to be an interesting cross-section of SFF fans. I found one of Liz's responses to a reader, who claimed one author promoted no agenda in his work, telling. She wrote: "You don't see the message, perhaps, because you agree with it. That doesn't mean it doesn't exist, nor that it doesn't alienate as many readers as it entertains."


Best novel nominee Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie, which has been recommended to me a ridiculous number of times, and which I'm looking forward to reading.


There are a lot of accusations about how nominees for the Hugos are selected because they promote certain PC agendas. These usually come from readers who enjoy traditional SFF elements, in novels which are frequently led by a white-cis-male protagonist. Disclosure: I like a lot of traditional SFF stuff myself, and I'm a fan of shared-world fantasy, which tends to revisit a lot of the old tropes over and over again. (Sometimes in new and interesting ways, but that's a conversation for another post.)

I also like books with female protagonists. I like books that show different cultures and different worldviews, and I like books in which the diversity of opinions and worldviews and ethnicities reflects the same sort of complex world we live in, rather than assuming one unified cultural identity. I have sometimes surprised myself by liking books that stray outside my normal relationship comfort zones. (Triptych by J. M. Frey was one of the novels that most impressed me in 2011. If it hadn't been recommended to me, I might not have read it, as I'd have thought it wasn't my sort of thing--and I'd really have missed out.)

I think that what people who talk about "diversity checklists" may not realize is that people don't nominate those books because they promote a certain agenda (though that might be part of it). People nominate those books because they like them. They enjoy reading that type of story. Those books provide the same level of entertainment and emotional arc for readers who like that sort of thing as traditional novels do for readers who like that sort of thing. And for people who are bored of the white-cis-male-led stories, there are still plenty of people who enjoy those books, and there's not anything wrong with that (so long as those books aren't the only thing being published).

People like what they like. As long as the world continues to be a diverse place, we're probably going to keep disagreeing about what we like and what's good. And as long as we can disagree respectfully, I think that's okay.

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  • Tue, 13:28: Administrative crap done for another day. We interrupt the writing of this short story for work on a novel synopsis and re-chaptering.

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Holy cow, y'all. What a weekend. And it was all awesome.

Day One:
The first thing I got to do was shake Adam Baldwin's hand and thank him for being an outspoken conservative in Hollywood. He signed my Angel S5 sleeve and was very gracious. I then wandered about for awhile before hitting the "Religion in SF/F" panel, which was interesting, as always, although I was a little bemused by the fact that no one mentioned Jim Butcher and the fact that he basically singlehandedly made it okay to write good-guy people of faith in the genre again, after it had gone out of style for a couple of decades.

However, James Marsters talked about Dresden during his panel--after someone asked him what it was like to kiss John Barrowman in "Torchwood." His reaction was: "Men, if you want to kiss a woman, for the love of God, either shave or grow it out until it's soft. Because no one wants sandpaper scraping their face, okay." It was after that that someone asked him about Dresden, and he says the next book is great, and he talked about doing audiobooks. Now I have to pick one up. At least one. He sang, too.

And then I stood in line (there is a lot of standing--or sitting--in line at these things) for about an hour and a half so I could get his signature on my Angel S5 sleeve. I got to tell him that it was his fault I'm a writer, because Spike sparked my imagination that much and I just wanted him to be happy dammit. And he just seemed blown away by the fact that he affected my life that much, that now I'm writing my own original works and getting published here and there. He was super, super nice, and I adore him even more now.

I went to dinner with James Wymore and... oh, God, I'm sorry I can't remember the guy's name--at the Desert Edge Brewery--and found out that the story that won the Salty Dog Award at Salt City Steam is going to be in an anthology with Piers Anthony. Cue a happy geek moment--I read a crapload of Piers Anthony in high school and college, and his name will lend a certain cachet to the antho, so... yes, please.

Day Two:
Three panels on writing. What do your characters want, and why can't they get it. Story is about meaning. The Campbellian Monomyth, and the Grand Argument Story. Humor as a Venn Diagram where the benign meets the violation.

Waited in line for Karl Urban. As previously stated, I had no idea he was from New Zealand. Or was in Xena. Clearly, I have catching up to do. He told one story about auditioning for the part of an American (his first), and he put a lot of swearing in because he thought that's what Americans do. His agent said, "Yeah, don't do that again."

Then waited in line again for Brent Spiner, who is also hilarious. He said that one director threatened not to come back to the TNG set because the cast, apparently, was cutting up too much, and they got called in to a meeting, and then he did this awesome impression of Sir Patrick Stewart being Very Stern.

Somewhere in there I got my Iron Man novelization and my copy of "Howling Mad" signed by Peter David. Wandered the dealer's room and bought some Things. I think that's the day I talked to Sandra Tayler and Brian Lewis as well. At this point, it's a bit blurry.

Didn't get home until 10pm, and didn't get to eat until 11. So that was fun.

Day Three:
Got up at 7am to catch the 8am train so I could be there to get in line by 9 for Nathan Fillion. Said line was already out the door by the time I got there; I heard that people had been lining up since 6:30, and some had tried to camp out overnight. Amazingly, I got in. He talked about "Saving Private Ryan" and "Firefly" and "Castle." Apparently the guy who ghost-writes the "Castle" novels once told him "This is the only time I've ever been on the New York Times bestseller list... and your face is on the cover." Also, Joss Whedon plans everything.

After that was the panel on "Dragon Warriors," starring James Marsters, a spiffy little movie shot here in Utah entirely on a greenscreen. We got to see a trailer, a behind-the-scenes bit, and a clip. They're doing a Kickstarter, which I am certainly going to back and so should you. Seriously, look at that.

I wandered about for a bit, and then got in line for the Adam Baldwin panel. Grabbed a Coke and a salad, because like hell did I want to not get to eat anything until 11pm again. I even got some work done while I waited. He talked about "Firefly" and "Chuck" and "Full Metal Jacket." A kid asked him "Do you ever have a role where you're not carrying a gun?" And he thought about it for a minute and said, "...you should check out 'My Bodyguard.' No gun, but I did have a motorcycle." He's also got a thing coming out on TNT called The Last Ship, which we should all watch.

As much as I love Sir Patrick Stewart, I'd had my fill of line-waiting by then, so I wandered a little then hit more writing panels. Honestly, I should have been on the genre-blending one. The one on "Joss Whedon and the Art of Storytelling" was notable because Joss's brother Matt was on it, so that was pretty cool, although they never did talk about "Cabin in the Woods." They did talk about "The Body" ep of Buffy, which everyone agreed is one of the most brilliant pieces of television ever done. The consensus of "favorite character" was... "Spike."

And then there was the panel on "Our Love/Hate Relationship with Rage," which began with a mock fight between two of the panelists. But it was really interesting, because they talked about the difference between "anger" and "rage," and how the difference is that "anger" is something that motivates us to justice, whereas "rage" represents a loss of control and becoming the monster in order to defeat the monster. They also pointed out that there's a difference between celebrating evil and examining it.

After that, I caught up with Dan Willis, and then we waited for Bob Defendi's panel to finish up. We'd made dinner plans, but I was vehicle-less, and Bob didn't have room in his car for everyone, so we're postponing that until Westercon. Instead, I had dinner at Red Robin with another friend.

And then I came home and collapsed in a puddle of goo.

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Background:

At one point in the Eastern Orthodox Pascha (Easter) service, the priest and almost all the people leave the church and walk around it, singing a hymn, until they return to the front doors. The priest then knocks on the door with a wooden cross, and from this site

    The Priest knocks on the doors three times saying: Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. And a voice asks: Who is this King of Glory? The priest answers: The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. The priest the knocks again saying: Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. And again the voice asks: Who is this King of Glory? The priest then replies: The Lord of hosts, he is the King of Glory.


The doors then burst open and the priest and the people begin to joyously sing "Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!"

This is all to symbolize the harrowing of Hell by Christ, after His death, when He brought out the captives. It's a very dramatic moment.

Context:

St. Nikolai is a new mission that meets at a college chapel. Because it's not their property, they are very careful about the place. I've been to a church where the priest banged so hard on the door that there were dings in the metal door.

Story:

Fr. Joseph approached the doors and had the conversation with the man on the other side of the door, and then, stepped back and

hit the handicapped button with his elbow. We waited for the door to slowly glide open.


I laughed hysterically.

I love Pascha.

To my western friends, Happy Easter! To my Orthodox friends, Christ is Risen!

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about this journal
Brandon Sanderson writes epic fantasy novels for Tor Books. Find his novels, MISTBORN and ELANTRIS in any fine bookstore. More information on his website.
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