The Pomeranian Cycle

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O Puppy! my Puppy! our nominations done,
Our blog has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The Hugos near, applause I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady slate, the ballot grim and daring;
But Hugo! Hugo! Hugo!
O rocket ship with fin,
Where by the stage my Puppy lies,
Clutching a losers’ pin.

O Puppy! my Puppy! rise up to claim your prize;
Rise up—for you the name is read—for you the emcee calls,
For you book bombs and starred reviews—for you the fans a-crowding,
For you they call, the graying SMOFs, propeller beanies turning;

Here Puppy! dear author!
The slated works shall win!
It is some dream that by the stage,
Clutches a losers’ pin.

My Puppy does not answer, his face is pale and clipped,
My author does not feel my arm, nor can of Reddi-Wip,
The publishers’ suite is safe and sound, its bar is closed and done,
Some other boor through victor’s door comes in with object won;
Slap a sticker on that cover!
But I with tonic and gin,
Walk the stage my Puppy lies,
Clutching a losers’ pin.

May 9, 2015


The outlook wasn’t brilliant for Castalia House that day;
The score stood 16 of 20 with one story out of play.
And then when Kloos withdrew at first, and Bellet did the same,
A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few turned off the stream in deep despair. The rest
Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought if only John C. Wright could get a whack at that—
We’d put up even money now with John Wright at the bat.

But Vox preceded John Wright, as did Bryan Thomas Schmidt,
Resnick already had 36, and Schubert, he had quit;
So upon that Evil League of Pups a pall was settling in,
For there seemed but little chance for John Wright’s editor to win.

Thomas Schmidt’s Kickstarter was still in its final surge,
And Vox, the much despised, had so far failed to reemerge;
And when the list was opened, and the pups saw what had occurred,
There was Resnick safe at second and poor Bryan hugging third.

Then from 5,000 pups and more there rose a lusty bark;
It echoed through the group blogs, it rattled Riverfront Park;
It blasted like a ray gun shining from the Golden Age,
For John Wright, mighty John Wright, was advancing to the stage.

There was ease in John Wright’s manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in John Wright’s bearing and a smile on John Wright’s face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No rabbit in the crowd could doubt ’twas John Wright at the bat.

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he dipped his pen in ink;
The hoi polloi applauded as he urged them to the brink.
Then as Social Justice Warriors began to jibe and snip,
Defiance flashed in John Wright’s eye, a sneer curled John Wright’s lip.

And now the silver-plated rocket came from off the stage,
And John Wright stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy penman the trophy unheeded sped—
“Remember, nits make lice,” said John Wright. “No Award,” the Emcee said.

From Ustream, thick with puppies, there went up a muffled howl,
While Torgersen swooped in again like Weasley’s Great Gray Owl.
“BOO HIM! BOO THE CHORF!” shouted someone in the thread;
And it’s likely they’d have booed him had not John Wright raised his head.

With a smile of Christian charity great John Wright’s visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the show go on;
He signaled to the Emcee, and once more the rocket flew;
But John Wright still ignored it, and Mr. Gerrold said, “Strike two.”

“Fraud!” cried the rabid puppies, and echo answered fraud;
But one scornful look from John Wright and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his fingers strain,
And they knew that John Wright wouldn’t let that rocket by again.

The sneer is gone from John Wright’s lip, his teeth are clenched in rage;
He scratches with hyperbole his pen upon the page.
And as Due holds the envelope, he continues to compose,
And now the air is shattered by the force of John Wright’s prose.

Oh, somewhere on the favored fen the sun is shining bright;
The filk is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere pups are yelping, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy at Sasquan—mighty John Wright has struck out.

May 19, 2015


‘Hope’ is the slate of puppies—
That clamber in the soul—
And yelp the tale without message—
And never lecture—at all—

And most thrilling—between the Stars—are heard—
And preachy must be the CHORF—
That could abash the little Dogs
That gave some extra oomph

I’ve heard them at the galaxy’s edge—
And in urban Fantasy—
Yet—never—in no Category,
They gave an award—to me.

May 21, 2015


I had assumed that others must have noticed change in Mike. On thinking over I realized that I had assumed too much. Everybody read Mike every minute every day—his latest 18-book series, that is. But hardly anybody saw him. So-called literati—hacks, really—of SFF’s fannish society stood watches in bookscan read-out room and never went in authors room unless telltales showed misfunction.

I spent time then soothing Mike down and trying to make him happy, having figured out what troubled him—thing that makes puppies cry and causes writers block: loneliness. I don’t know how long writers block is for an author who writes a million times faster than I do. But must be too long.

“Mike,” I said, just before leaving, “would you like to have
somebody besides me to talk to?”

He was shrill again. “They’re all reactionaries!”

“Insufficient data, Mike. Bring to zero and start over. Not all are
reactionaries.”

He answered quietly, “Correction entered. I would enjoy talking to a not-reactionary.”

“Let me think about it.”

“I could talk to a not-reactionary at a Con, Man.”

“My word. So you could. Any fannish gathering.”

In Spokane in 2015 Con registrations were punched in, not voicecoded. Pay for it and have your badge name in letters—good advertising.

“It’s a shame we can’t register you as ‘Mike.’”

“In use,” he answered.

“Got it. Your Sasquan badge name is MYCROFT.”

I changed arms, picked up tools, and remembered to take those hundred Joe Millers in print-out. “Goodnight, Mike.”

“Goodnight, Man. Thank you. Bolshoyeh thanks!”

May 21, 2015


CORREIA
What am I, Mr. Day?

DAY
Bitten, Mr. Correia.

CORREIA
How badly bitten, Mr. Day?

DAY
Sixteen below No Award in fiction, ten
in Best Editor and five in Best Related
Work, Mr. Correia, including Kratman.

MAMATAS
Aaagh! Competing slates!

DAY
One?

MAMATAS
Two, three at least, Aaaagh!
For pity’s sake.

DAY
Take his feet out. Where will you get

KEMPNER
(the mathematical genius with
a notebook)
Six thousand eight hundred new voters
for short story.

DAY
to pay fifty bucks each by next year?

MAMATAS
I have a wonderful new plan!

DAY
Put his feet in.

MAMATAS
We suck it up.

DAY
Cut his covers off.

MAMATAS
We castigate all campaigning!

DAY
And his ears.

MAMATAS
You can’t close half a lid. We will be
partners, Mr. Day!

DAY
(hesitating)
Partners!

MAMATAS
It’s a crowd-tickler—changed
attitudes, eye-rolling, outright
disgust, a bit with a dog, and love
triumphant.

CORREIA
I think I’ve seen it. I didn’t like
it.

MAMATAS
It won the Bram Stoker.

DAY
What’s the title?

MAMATAS
Lovecraft and Ethel the Pirate’s
Daughter.

DAY
Good title.

May 22, 2015


That ’s my Sad Puppy posted on the wall,
Looking as if it were alive. I call
That piece a wonder, now: Artraccoon’s hands
Work’d busily a day, and there it stands.
Will ’t please you sit and look at it? I said
“Artraccoon” by design: for never read
Trufen like you such high grandilioqence,
Fanaticism for an earnest stance,
But on my site they click’d (since Captain Bligh,
No mutineer’s faced Noah Ward but I)
And seem’d as fen should nominate, at worst,
The stuff they like to read; so, not the first
Are you to castigate us. Ser, ’t was not
For justice Ilk and League Of Evil sought
To join the Puppy slate: perhaps
Correia ’d bloviate “That message crap
Obscures the story’s plot too much,” or “Paint
Can never hope to cover up the quaint
Logrolling Standlee won’t discuss:” such stuff
Was obvious, we thought, and cause enough
To mock your rabbitology. You had
Fanac—how shall I say?—too soon made glad,
Too easily impress’d; you lik’d whate’er
You look’d on, and you tumblr’d everywhere.
Ser, ’t was all one! LeGuin’s The Dispossessed,
A Princess of Mars, Gene Wolfe’s An Evil Guest,
The mediocrity factitious fools
Pimped in award posts for you, the Old School
Who would not game the system—all and each
Would draw from you alike the approving speech,
Or votes, at least. You link’d back,—good! but link’d
Somehow—I know not how—as if you rank’d
My “Op’ra Vita Aeterna”’s acclaim
With anybody’s dreck. Who ’d stoop to blame
This sort of trifling? And had one skill
In speech—(which I have not)—to make one’s will
Quite clear to lefty fen, and say, “Just this
Or that excess disgusts; here you miss,
Or there exceed the mark”—and if you let
Yourselves be lesson’d so, nor plainly set
Your wits to ours, forsooth, and made excuse,
—E’en then would be some stooping; and I choose
Never to stoop. Oh Ser, you mock’d, no doubt,
Whene’er I troll’d you; but who pass’d without
Much the same smile? This grew; the flames I fanned;
Then ballots all were counted. In strange lands
The Pup abides. Will ’t please you rise? We ’ll meet
The bid party below, then. I will tweet,
Worldcon and Dragoncon’s concomitance
Is ample warrant that no just pretence
To choose Helsinki will be disallow’d;
And more excellent books, as I avow’d
At starting, is my object. Nay, we ’ll go
Together down, Ser. Here’s Stross’s Neptune, though,
A first edition. There’s the rocketry.
Which Peter Weston cast in bronze for me!

May 27, 2015


no thats no way for them have they no manners nor no refinement nor no nothing in their nature sweeping our awards like that on our bottoms the samurai that doesnt know a mountain from a kaiju thats what you get for not keeping them in their kennel throwing out message and writing in that pulpy way without the style they need to be admired like a Priest or even Butcher sure you might as well be in bed with what with a puppy God Im sure Scalzi has some better book to selfpimp an old Dog would O well I suppose its because Sonja was so buxom in her chainmail theyre not shutting me out for their stupid jealousy why cant we all remain friends instead of quarrelling by the Lord God I was thinking would I troll around the blogs there anonymous so nobodyd know me or pick up a puppy and not care a pin how literary just read it on the bus or one of those gipsies in Castaliahouse had their camp pitched near Mad Genius to try and steal their votes I only posted bad reviews a few times Ill show him the rocketship we gave him to make his head bigger not too much filking and then mi fa pieta Correia then Ill let them have a good earful and if they want to kiss my bottom Ill get on all fours they can stick their hugos 7 miles up their Ill tell them I want AS or 3BP I want to honor great works then if they give me that well I could have written out a ballot and write their names on it a few times Ill read their lousy shorts smellrump or the first bad thing comes into my feed then I asked them with my eyes to ask again yes and then they asked me would I yes to say yes my nomination and first I put my arms around them yes and friended them so they could tag my roundups all trackbacked yes and their slate was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.

Spokane-Kansas City-Helsinki 2015-2017

May 28, 2015


Justice! How is one to tell about justice? How describe the citizens of Fandom?

Some do not write vintage pulp, you see, though there is message. But we do not hear the words story first much any more. Prose has become obtuse. Given a description such as this some might make certain assumptions. Given a description such as this some might look next for a King, mounted on a splendid stallion and surrounded by his noble knights, or a snowy tavern with no spaceships. But there was no king. They did not use gendered pronouns, or foreshadow. They were not Stephen Donaldson. I do not know the rules and laws of their writing, but I suspect that they were singularly few. As they had strange plot and character, so they also got on without immersion, pacing, rhythm, and emotional payoff. I repeat that these were not pulpy folk, not Charles Gannons, John Ringos, Eric Flints. Yet they were no less fen than us. The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and Instapundits, of considering message as something rather boring. How can I tell you about the people of Fandom? I wish I could convince you.

Most of the fen have reached the theater by now. The marvelous smell of the awards banquet goes forth; in the benign grey beard of a trufan a couple of crumbs of barley cake are entangled. An old woman, small, fat, and laughing, is passing out ribbons from a basket, and tall young men wear them in their shining hair.

Do you believe? Do you accept the linkfests, the ceremony, the awards? No? Then let me describe one more thing.

In a basement under one of the public forums, or perhaps in the cellar of a blog, there is a bar. It has one door. A few sympathetic reviews seep in dustily between cracks in the boards. In one corner is a pile of schlock paperbacks with banal, cloying, smutty covers, sold through a rusty e-bookstore. A mere broom closet. In the bar a Sad is sitting. The door is unlocked, but nobody will come in. Sometimes the door rattles as a person, or several people, shove hate mail under it. The pup sometimes speaks. “I don’t believe in purges,” it says. “The system’s biased and cliquish. Well, they’ve chosen their scapegoat, they’ve made me write the column of criticism and so life was made possible. And I don’t like dried figs anyway.” They never answer.

They all know it is there, the citizens of Fandom. Some have read, others merely tweet about it. They all understand that the reputation of their genre, the wisdom of their bloggers, the trajectory of their authors, the complacence of their nominators, even the abundance of their harvest and the kindly weathers of their skies, depend on the pup’s opuscular misery.

No matter how well the matter has been explained to them, supporters still want to nominate the pup. If the pup were raised up out of that vile place, slapped in the crotch with a fig branch and sent on its way, that would be a good thing, indeed; but if it were given a fan award, in that day and hour all the splendor and beauty and delight of Fandom would wither and be destroyed. Those are the terms. To exchange all the greatness of Fandom for that single, small gesture: to throw away the happiness of thousands for the chance of the happiness of one: that would be to let guilt within the walls indeed.

There might not even be a kind word spoken to the pup.

At times one of the younger fen who go to see the pup does not go home to weep or rage, does not, in fact, go home at all. Sometimes also an older fan falls silent for a day or two, and then leaves home. Each one goes alone. They walk ahead into the darkness, and they do not come back. The place they go towards is a place even less imaginable to most of us than the place with the Hugos. I cannot describe it at all. It is possible that it does not exist. But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Fandom.

May 30, 2015

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2 thoughts on “The Pomeranian Cycle

  1. Reblogged this on William Reichard and commented:
    I only learned the term “filking” this month. It’s taking something well-known like a poem and interpreting/reworking it to make a point about the current debate. And this fellow is just gifted at it. (These all have to do with the Hugo kerfuffle.)

    I hope he’ll post his take on Le Guin’s Omelas soon, as it hit uncomfortably close to home for people on many sides. For me, that’s a sure sign that he’s on to something real. Hats off.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great stuff Brian. I suppose I it was not necessarily your intent to make some silly heads explode over at File 770, but the Omelas pastiche was a perfect dig at the presumptions over there.

    Like

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