Open Thread: Nherd Nhutpicking

Paul Constant, book critic at Seattle’s Stranger, posted this:

John Scalzi’s sci-fi novel Redshirts won a Hugo Award over the weekend. On his Facebook page, military sci-fi author John Ringo posted this (links added to the post are mine, not Ringo’s) in response:

If anyone has been wondering why Scalzi has been picking the rather stupid fights he’s been picking lately:
That’s why. There’s nothing wrong with Scalzi’s writing. This is a reasonably good novel (from what I’ve heard) with no real SF or literary merit beyond being a reasonably good novel. But he’s been speaking truth to power about the degradation of women in SF along with other idiocracy and so he’s beloved by all the hasbeen liberal neurotics who control the Hugo voting and balloting. Look to many more in the future as long as he toes the Party line…

There are at least a dozen things wrong with John ‘Bitter Much’ Ringo’s statement, so I’ll go with one of the minor ones: “no real SF or literary merit beyond being a reasonably good novel”? Because, what, it’s not skiffy enough?

Thanks for giving the mundanes a(nother) reason to believe that within the sf/fantasy community, it’s not about the quality of the work, it’s about handing out awards to properly salve all our junior high social disappointments, Ringo.

(Side note, for those of you who could not care less about speculative fiction, yes John Scalzi is the guy who wrote Being Poor.)

114 replies
  1. 1
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    Oh John Ringo NO!

  2. 2
    raven says:

    Come on Cole, put up and NFL thread.

  3. 3
    PsiFighter37 says:

    Taking the fiancée out to dinner for her birthday. Otherwise, a relatively ho-hum week.

  4. 4
    Narcissus says:

    There’s a really nasty strain of “smug-libertarian-white-guy” in the science fiction community.

  5. 5
    Humanities Grad says:

    I’d say Redshirts is more than a “reasonably good novel.” It’s actually pretty good. Not one of my all-time favorites, but it’s a solid sci-fi work, as well as an amusing satire. And I’m not sure why in Ringo’s view pointing out the unfortunate reality that there’s still an lot of misogyny and anti-female bias within the ranks of the sci-fi community is a “stupid fight.” I’d say it’s a long overdue one.

    For those who aren’t big sci-fi fans, Scalzi is also the author of the 2002 essay “I Hate Your Politics,” which is always good for a laugh.

  6. 6
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    It’s in the air lately. This landed in my email this morning.

    Lois Bujold, winner of multiple Hugos herself, calls it “the peanut allergy” problem:

    If one is deathly allergic to peanuts, even a tiny amount in a dish ruins the whole thing, regardless of how many other ingredients it contains or how well it is prepared. The mere presence of the peanuts eclipses every other consideration.

    Why some readers have this response to romance tropes gets into attempts to psychoanalyze people over the internet, never a good use of one’s time.

  7. 7
    PaulW says:

    So John Ringo is saying if I include more librul elements in my scifi novels, I’ll win Hugos.

    It’s a good thing in my current novel project I have one of the main characters confront Dick Cheney for being an -sshole.

  8. 8
    Hungry Joe says:

    I’ve known John Scalzi for 25 years, and if there’s a more decent fellow on the planet … well, there isn’t. There may well turn out to be more decent fellows on other planets, though; if that’s the case, Scalzi will be the first to know and the first to tell you.

    The guy can WRITE, too.

    John Ringo. It is to laugh.

  9. 9
    Botsplainer says:

    Dammit, I LIKE Ringo.

  10. 10
    lamh36 says:

    Wait, hold up, there is a RoboCop remake, and it stars Samuel L Jackson, Michael Keaton, Gary Oldham, Jackie Earle Haley, Michael K. Williams, Jay Baruchel, and some new dude as Robocop!

  11. 11
    lamh36 says:

    Ok, damn, what’s that they say about Cher and cockroaches and surviving the nuclear apocalypse???

    So Cher released a new single over 3 months ago, and of course it’s burning up the dance charts (the new album come out Sept 2013). Man I bet this one has been tearing up the dance clubs since it came out!!! Oh and at 67 years young, go ahead Cher.

    Cher – Woman’s World

  12. 12
    feebog says:

    Redshirts was not, IMHO, one of Scalzi’s best works. I just started another, Fuzzy Nation, that looks promising.

  13. 13
    Steeplejack says:

    @Anne Laurie:

    Paul Constant, book critic at Seattle’s Stranger[,] posted this:

    Not to pick on you, A.L. (and maybe it was just a typo), but this has been bugging me, since I have seen it “trending” lately, including in the increasingly slipshod New York Times.

    The basic sentence is “Paul Constant posted this.” The phrase “book critic [. . .]” is an adjective phrase modifying “Paul Constant” and should be set off with commas at both ends.

    Okay, pedantic itch scratched.

    ETA: Consider this my substitute for 10-15 pissy comments in the Syria threads.

    ETFA: Oh, just forget the whole thing. Nobody cares.

  14. 14
    Keith G says:

    John Scalzi’s Android’s Dream is a very fun book and a quick read. I appreciated how two of the characters were gay but it was not a momentous plot point any more than if they were a straight couple – just two guys who happened to be….

    That is progress. Even without that bit of coolness, I recommend the book.

  15. 15
  16. 16
    anthrosciguy says:

    No True Science Fiction writer doesn’t treat women like children and/or scum. And just forget that Le Guin person.

    John R must’ve been super bummed when James Tiptree did the big reveal.

  17. 17
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Narcissus: Just as with the rest of the ‘real world’, the “smug-libertarian-white-guy” straitjacket actually has improved dramatically since my first convention in 1971. Unfortunately — again, as with the larger community — the remaining holdouts in the pimply-virgin-engineering mindset Kurt Vonnegut mocked have gotten louder & more assertively unpleasant as “their” community was invaded by “those people” (women / people of color / LGBTs / non-engineers).

  18. 18
    SmallAxe says:

    I’m with Raven, it’s opening night of the gd NFL where the heck is the thread??? Enough with war already it’s time for football! Also too, Ringo blows.

  19. 19
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    @Humanities Grad:

    And I’m not sure why in Ringo’s view pointing out the unfortunate reality that there’s still an lot of misogyny and anti-female bias within the ranks of the sci-fi community is a “stupid fight.” I’d say it’s a long overdue one.

    That’s easy.
    (TVTropes warning)

    I’ve had no use for him since his rant after 9-11.

  20. 20
    scav says:

    @Steeplejack: You did get my hopes up that it could be read as “Paul, Constant book critic. . . ” but alas!

  21. 21
    piratedan says:

    @feebog: that’s based off of H. Bean Piper’s Little Fuzzy which is an old classic. Thought Scalzi’s Old Man War series was better although I did enjoy Redshirts

  22. 22
    JPL says:

    @raven: The Steelers aren’t playing. I wonder how he is going to do watching the games without the Tunch. It’s going to be a long season.

  23. 23
    Suffern ACE says:

    @lamh36: John Kerry should have gone to see Cher’s guy.

  24. 24
    Adolphus says:


    I agree. I normally like his stuff, but this one was merely okay. But his “okay” is still a good way to spend an afternoon on a rainy day.

  25. 25
    lamh36 says:

    A remix of one of my fav Emeli Sande’ songs from her album.

    My Kind of Love – Remix

  26. 26
    Anne Laurie says:


    John R must’ve been super bummed when James Tiptree did the big reveal.

    There are fans who never forgave Fred Pohl — a “Founder” who should’ve been on their side! — for publishing that filthy doorstopper by a gay black poet .

  27. 27
    Chris says:


    I was just gonna say that. I really don’t get a particularly “liberal” vibe from sci-fi in general – Scalzi yes, sci-fi no. Seems to be a lot of overlap with the techie-libertarians, actually. I assume Ringo, like so many others, is just mad that not everyone is like that, and interprets it as liberal oppression.

  28. 28
    Robert says:

    I haven’t read Redshirts yet. What I have read are the comments sections on Kotaku, io9, etc. about the Hugo results where the sci-fi/fantasy fans were overjoyed that Redshirts won the top prize. It was an underdog–unlike the Stoker awards for horror, first novelists rarely win the top Hugo prize–and it’s always great to see the industry embrace talented new voices. There’s no guarantee that the second novel will be as good, but an award like the Hugo will ensure Scalzi gets to write a second.

  29. 29
    lamh36 says:

    @raven: Lord help me, I’ll be going to NOLA on Sunday to watch my first NFL game with my family controlling the remote!!!

    Still, I’ll deal, as long as I get to see the SAINTS beat those “dawty birds”!!

  30. 30
    Soonergrunt says:

    @raven: Done.

  31. 31
    gbear says:

    We know Pat Robertson is a jerk, but this is really beyond the call of duty. Using a plane to deliver equipment to a Robertson-owned diamond mine while claiming the flights were delivering humanitarian aid to Rwandan refugees. Using footage of Doctors Without Borders operations and saying that the footage was of his operation. Just so over the top that I wish it would do him some serious damage. I wish we could have a video channel dedicated 24/7 to watching him roast in hell.

  32. 32
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Steeplejack: No, you’re correct. I fixed it, thanks!

  33. 33
    NotMax says:

    “Can’t we all just get along?”

    @Anne Laurie

    Just as with the rest of the ‘real world’, the “smug-libertarian-white-guy” straightjacket

    Mhajor Nhitpick: straitjacket.

  34. 34
    Soonergrunt says:

    Sounds like John Ringo had a book eligible for Hugo this year.

  35. 35
    Yatsuno says:

    Brain has flatlined. Been writing a lesson plan all day. About done with it but ugh it has made me meschugnah.

  36. 36
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    @Robert: Um, Redshirts is far from being Scalzi’s first novel. He was the Campbell Award winner in 2005 and is a past president of the SFWA.

  37. 37
    Keith G says:

    @Suffern ACE: I think his face is what caused Teresa’s seizure. He must have snuck up on her.

  38. 38
    Litlebritdifrnt says:

    OT but Flossie on her snake bite meds is one nasty bitch, she is growling and snapping at the cats for no reason, whereas before she has been snuggling and sleeping with them. I do not like this Flossie. She is not my dog.

  39. 39
    gbear says:

    I just want to know John Ringo’s middle name.

  40. 40
    piratedan says:

    @Chris: plenty of them in the field, Scalzi, Bujold, Flint, and while Weber is seen as a libertarian, he’s mostly adept at writing long drawn out multithreaded behemoths. Plenty of apolitical writers as well, Cook, McDevitt, Turtledove, Harlan, Erikson etc… just a matter of picking and choosing whose style and stories work for you.

  41. 41
    DaveinMaine says:

    John Ringo is a reactionary asshole. Read some of his drivel sometimes. If Scalzi is merely good by his reckoning, I wouldn’t use Ringo’s books to wipe my ass.

  42. 42
    recurvata says:

    Slamming Scalzi like that is a troglodyte thing to do, but Redshirts wasn’t that great a book. Not Hugo worthy. Kind of like an episode of Voyager, or at best a short story.

  43. 43
    TrishB says:

    @Robert: Scalzi has written quite a bit more than just the one.

  44. 44
    Anne Laurie says:

    @NotMax: Fixed, thanks.

  45. 45
    piratedan says:

    @efgoldman: well you ain’t exactly the state department type………

  46. 46
    scav says:

    @NotMax: Still, as though “smug-libertarian-white-guy[s]” would wear anything but overt and spelled-out straightjackets. TotallyNotGayjackets is so long to type.

  47. 47
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:


    Sounds like John Ringo had a book eligible for Hugo this year.

    Nope. I don’t think he’s ever been nominated.

  48. 48
    MikeJ says:

    Always glad to see an AOLer make good.

  49. 49
    Chris says:


    Here, check this out for earlier Africa/Pat Robertson related controversies;

  50. 50
    gbear says:


    Whew. I was afraid it might be Paul George Anne

  51. 51
    J.D. Rhoades says:


    I actually met him briefly at the first Thrillerfest in Phoenix. He showed up in a kilt. The mystery/thriller authors assembled were all like “who the fuck is THAT guy and why is he dressed like that?” (we’re a pretty nerdy looking bunch).

    When I found out it was John Ringo, I told people, “Look, give the guy a break. At the cons he’s used to going to, that outfit would look subdued.”

    I only met him to shake hands with, but he seemed personable enough.

  52. 52
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    I actually popped online to mention that Americans for Poverty Prosperity of the 1% has started running anti-Obamacare ads here.

    And we’ve had our first hospital announce they were closing because NC didn’t accept the Medicaid expansion.

  53. 53
    sharl says:

    For a personal account of being poor, I found John Dolan’s “5 Pieces of Advice to the New Paupers” to be a real punch to the gut. Maybe because it was from a perspective I could relate to more: educated white guy who had never been rich, but never desperately poor either, until…

    FWIW, Dolan is the real life person behind The War Nerd, or at least that’s what everyone says (correctly I think; Dolan has never confirmed this directly as far as I know, but he’s never denied it either). He seems to be leading a reasonably contented life at the moment, living with his (poet?) wife in New Zealand.

    I don’t know if his old Exiled War Nerd stuff is still available, or is now locked up behind the subscription paywall at NSFWCorp (too lazy to check). But as John Dolan, some of his stuff can be found here. I really like his writing style, but as always in such matters, YMMV.

  54. 54
    J.D. Rhoades says:

    @Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism:

    I don’t think he’s ever been nominated.

    Nah. that sort of thing never is. It’s fun, though.

  55. 55
    Desert Rat says:

    By the way, there is no bigger misogynist in science fiction than John Ringo. He wrote this, after all, which is basically a Tom Clancy-esque technothriller that gets VERY rapey, sex with underage girls, and mindlessly violent.

    If you don’t hate humanity with a passion already, may I suggest reading the first novel, Ghost. You’ll want to do nasty things to John Ringo by the time you’re done.

  56. 56
    Schlemizel says:

    Given that Scalzi was oh-fer six before this win, including a perfect 0-3 in the novel category it is hard to imagine anyone grumbling that he won one. I really liked Redshirts even if I didn’t think it was the best novel I have ever read. It was in a unique format and that couldn’t have hurt it with people who have read every SF book for many many years.

    I read his blog and am constantly amazed that he is so down to earth and so sensible. He came from poverty and could easily pretend his success is all his doing but he has listed people that gave him a hand & tells the story of what they did more than once. He really seems to be a very decent guy and deserving of good things.

    That other guy – not so much

    BTW – if you are not into SF but want to get a sense of who he is & how entertain he can be get “Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded” the guy has been blogging since the 90s & knows how to handle hate mail

  57. 57
    J.D. Rhoades says:


    Scalzi himself admits that it might have been in his words, “…a career award, i.e., the voters liked my stuff overall and thought I should have a Hugo as a sign of appreciation, even if this is not their favorite of my works. This is the “Al Pacino” gambit — he won his Oscar for Scent of a Woman, which no one in their right mind considers his best work.”

    I think this is reasonable.

  58. 58
    Anne Laurie says:


    Dolan has never confirmed this directly as far as I know, but he’s never denied it either

    Actually, in a recent hardcopy issue of NSFWCorp, Dolan explicitly admitted that he’s the War Nerd… and that he wished he’d had the guts to admit that when he interviewed Michael Hastings.

    If I haven’t said this recently, the $3-a-month digital/$7 digital & paper sub to NSFWCorp is really a bargain!

  59. 59
    Freemark says:

    I need to read more Scalzi. I’ve only read Old Man’s War and Ghost Brigades. I thoroughly enjoyed both. Any recommendations on what of his should be next?

  60. 60
  61. 61
    NotMax says:

    @Anne Laurie

    Dhalgren was a genre-bender for SF in a sense similar to the manner the nearly contemporaneous Gravity’s Rainbow was for plain old F; both truly great books.

    Long ago lost count of how many copies of each I’ve purchased to give to friends and relatives over the years.

  62. 62
    piratedan says:

    @Desert Rat: well even Ringo claims that stuff is straight out of his ID and is the whole reason for the Oh, John Ringo No! incident. He’s stated that he himself knows its dreck and has stated so, but sometimes, there really is a cheap pulp fiction paperback inside of him and it allows him to get his hate on and purge it from his system, so I tend to not judge him by those (although he has stated that he can’t believe that he makes money from them, he writes them because sadly there is an audience for dreck and thus why we have 80% of cable television) books.

    For straight SF stuff, his Aldenata series is pretty good straight up military SF and his Looking Glass series is also pretty good stuff too. Like I’ve said in other threads, not fond of his politics at all, but he can write a decent story (at least imho)

  63. 63
    ruemara says:

    @Narcissus: in the entire online community.

    RE: Scalzi vs Ringo. Grats to Scalzi. I really haven’t read much of his besides his blog, but since I’ve been writing stories now for nearly a decade and still haven’t finished the long form story I started, I respect people who can finish things. As for Ringo, I’ve tried to read his stuff. Let’s just say that ink made of testosterone simply does not make an exciting read.

  64. 64
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    @J.D. Rhoades: As a friend put it:

    “If your name has to be part of a catch phrase, you should shoot for a good one. Alas, he didn’t make it.”

  65. 65
    James B Franks says:

    John Ringo writes good military/action adventure books when he doesn’t let his politics drive the story. His latest Under a Graveyard Sky was a fun read.

  66. 66
    Warren Terra says:


    Given that Scalzi was oh-fer six before this win, including a perfect 0-3 in the novel category

    Scalzi has two previous Hugo award wins, for Fan Writer and for Related Book, though as you say he was previously 0-for-6 in Hugo fiction category nominations (Novel three times, and once each for Short Story, Novella and Long Form Dramatic Presentation).

  67. 67
    sharl says:

    @Anne Laurie: Thanks for that input. I keep intending to subscribe to NSFWCorp – despite having some real assholes on the payroll, they do some quality journalism – and the paper version sounds like it’s worth the extra cost.

  68. 68
    MBL says:

    Mr. Ringo’s an educated man. Now I really hate him.

    (I so rarely get to quote Tombstone in context…)

  69. 69
    Fort Geek says:

    @Desert Rat: Worse than Ted “Vox Day” Beale? VD just got himself kicked out of Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America over some evil stuff he scribbled about author N. K. Jemisin, calling John Scalzi a rapist, and more attacks on other authors.

  70. 70
    Aimai says:

    @James B Franks: yeah no. After reading oh john ringo no a “fun read” from that guy sounds like a fun dinner with jeffrey dahmer to me.

  71. 71
    Walker says:

    People are really unhappy about Redshirts winning on the various genre boards. They are saying that it is the worst choice in 35 years, and that it is proof that the Hugos have lost any meaning.

    I believe that it is completely overblown, but the Hugos have always been the “People’s Choice” awards. Making sure a lot of people know about you work is a big help.

  72. 72
    Viva BrisVegas says:

    If Ringo wants to earn a Hugo, he just needs to learn how to write a bit better. Everything I’ve read of his has been very plodding retreads of stuff David Drake has already done better.

    Of this year’s Hugo nominees, I have read Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, 2312, and Redshirts. None of which were bad, none of which were outstanding. I wouldn’t argue against Redshirts as the winner, but to tell the truth it was a pretty thin year.

    As for this self-entitled libertarian streak in science fiction writers, Heinlein aside, it’s mostly a relatively recent US development.

    The mainstream of science fiction thought has traditionally been along the lines of liberal utopianism. Star Trek is not an outlier.

    If you want your science fiction with a soshalist bent you only have to look for the modern British authors like Banks, Mieville, and MacLeod.

  73. 73
    jenn says:

    I had no idea there was such hate for Redshirts out there – I enjoyed the heck out of that book. It was different and funny, and managed to pull me into the SF aisle at the bookstore for the first time in years.

  74. 74
    Scamp Dog says:

    Another Scalzi classic is “An Interview with the Nativity Innkeeper”, here.

  75. 75
    IowaOldLady says:

    I haven’t read Redshirts yet, but I liked Fuzzy Nation and Old Man’s War. I adore Lois McMaster Bujold. Miles Vorkorsigan is one of the great SF characters. In that novel category this year, I also like Saladin Ahmed’s Throne of the Crescent Moon. I haven’t read the others.

  76. 76
    erlking says:

    I fucking loved Redshirts. There are very few novels that, at my advanced age, I sit down and read cover to cover in a day. Redshirts is one of them.

    Joe Hill’s NOS4ATU is another. Read and enjoy.

  77. 77
    Randy P says:

    @jenn: I really enjoyed it too. Yes, it was gimmicky and all, especially the gimmick with the three epilogues. I’m not giving away any spoilers if I reveal they were titled “First Person”, “Second Person”, “Third Person”, each one was about a different person who didn’t really get any development during the novel, and each one was WRITTEN in that grammatical person, i.e. “First Person” was in the “I” voice, etc.

    But for all that, the epilogues were surprisingly touching, emotionally. Probably my favorite part, and very satisfying after reading the novel. Made you really care about these peripheral characters.

  78. 78
    LM says:

    I **loved** Redshirts. I got a supporting membership to Worldcon so I could vote for it. I’ve never done that before but this book imo deserved the extra love.
    How anyone can argue it’s not scifi is beyond me. How many kinds of novels take place on spaceships and on away missions to random planets, then turn ten kinds of meta about consciousness and creation and such?
    I’ve read Fuzzy Nation and Old Man’s War too but by far this one is my favorite. You can find OMW’s themes in other books, ditto FN’s. But I thought Redshirts had many original twists, also flair & and it was funny.
    As to its being a career award, that Scalzi quote is from a list of things he knows other people will say about his win because people say those kinds of things about every winner. (They carped last year about another huge favorite of mine, Jo Walton’s Among Others.) He doesn’t dismiss any of the stock put-downs because no matter how humble he is, he won the Hugo and nothing stifles that level of glee.
    If only being a liberal and having a liberal blog was the path there, though–we’d all start blogs.

  79. 79
    Steeplejack says:


    I’ll have to check out the Joe Hill book. I liked Heart-Shaped Box.

    There probably already is this, but I’ll ask anyway: Is there a one-stop place where you can enter your info and authors’ names and then be notified (via e-mail) when they come out with a new book? There are too many authors I want to keep track of, and I’m always being blind-sided by a “new” book that has been out for months (or longer!).

  80. 80
    Matt McIrvin says:

    While fighting misogyny in the science-fiction community is a great thing to do, Scalzi’s specific feud with Theodore “Vox Day” Beale has its ultimate roots in Scalzi giving Vox Day a slot as a “Big Idea” contributor to his blog in 2008.

    Many people recognized this as a bad idea at the time, and said so. Scalzi dismissed their concerns. Vox Day eventually took his hateful flamebaiter act to Scalzi’s comments, got banned, Scalzi started to have fun goading him and we were off to the races.

    So the Guardian characterization of Scalzi as the Mighty Trollkiller does bother me a little.

  81. 81
    Redshirt says:

    He’s ruinin’ my brand!

  82. 82
    wetcasements says:

    Scalzi’s politics are awesome. His books are crap.

  83. 83
    pillsy says:

    On the one hand, I thought Redshirts was, you know, pretty good without really being Hugo material.

    On the other hand, holy shit but John Ringo is an asshat.

  84. 84
    chicodude says:

    I read a few of Ringo’s earlier books and they were fun military space science fiction books. Several years ago I picked up his new (at the time) book, “Ghost”. Holy shit. I didn’t finish it. It was like a Tom Clancy book but with everything amped up several notches and including lots of sex scenes, often with underage women and including at least one scene where the main character rapes a woman. The main character also kills Osama Bin Laden (this was before he was actually killed). I haven’t read anything of his since.

  85. 85
    pharniel says:

    I listened to RedShirts read by Will Wheton.

    It was amazeballz.

    Still liked Old Man’s War better as speculative sci-fi.

    And yeah there is a huge bubble of ‘entitled white dude’ with glibritarian vibes in the Sci-Fi community – even up here in Detroit and as far away as the Canukestani Outpost 1 a/k/a Toronto – though that may also just be a bit of good old fashioned union resentment (“I don’t get paid nearly that well! They should gut the unions and that’d save money.” If you wanted to know how Rob Ford keeps getting elected “He really got the best of the Unions though, and the trains run on time” -> Actual quote from geeky relative up in the Big T)

    Hell the libtard streak is strong in the kink community and table-top community. Lots of ‘self made’ people there who just have waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too little perspective. These are also the people constantly railing about Scalzi’s “White/straight/male == ezmode” rant.

  86. 86
    Gwangung says:

    Personally, I thini Redshirtsis underrated as a novel. Far from being fluffy add ons, the three codas are absolutely necessary; without them, the book IS fluff. With them, it’s a mediation on being human and being successful at being human, and the effect of life on fiction, and the effect of fiction on real life.

    THe surface is all chewing gum, but theres considerable depth to think upon, more so than the Bujold (and I’m a major Bujold fanboy)….

  87. 87
  88. 88
    Joey Maloney says:

    @Desert Rat: By the way, there is no bigger misogynist in science fiction than John Ringo.

    Oh, I think you are vastly, I say vastly underestimating the level of misogyny in some corners of the field and fan base. Fortunately, just like in the wider world, all you have to do is pick your friends and your books carefully and you never have to trouble your beautiful mind with the idiocy.

  89. 89
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @recurvata: Episode of Voyager? My eye. I watched 6 out of 7 seasons of that turd and REDSHIRTS, while a bit of a disappointment to me versus the hype, was worth more than their 10 best episodes. That show was a lot of pathetic shit, up to and including the episode “Tuvix”. Just a disaster. (A fun to watch disaster until S7, when everyone just stopped caring altogether.)

  90. 90
    chicodude says:

    @Matt McIrvin: I actually returned Ghost to the library and tried to warn a librarian that maybe it shouldn’t go on the new releases shelf and she looked at me and said “We don’t censor books here!” and I felt horrible.

    Hopefully no 12 year old kid checked it out and read it.

  91. 91
    heckblazer says:

    Scalzi didn’t expect “Shadow War of the Night Dragons: Book One: The Dead City: Prologue” to win at least. Just being nominated was pretty nice appreciation for something written as an April Fool’s prank. People should go read it too, because boy is it hilarious, and afterwards they should watch Mark Oshiro read it.

  92. 92
    Phoenician in a time of Romans says:

    .@Keith G:

    John Scalzi’s Android’s Dream is a very fun book and a quick read. I appreciated how two of the characters were gay but it was not a momentous plot point any more than if they were a straight couple – just two guys who happened to be….

    Really? Now, given that “Sam” can be a female name as well, prove that they were gay.

    Scalzi cleverly never actually specified what gender Sam was, and it’s been interesting watching people show their assumptions.

  93. 93
    xenos says:

    Ringo is not bad when he is trying to write well. He never has had a really good editor who would make him tighten up his writing, though. Maybe he should write for something other than the collective at Baen. I enjoy the sprawling, pulpy doorstoppers as much as the next nerd, but Ringo has got to take it to the next level if he wants to be taken more seriously as a writer.

    Bitching about political correctness when it comes to Scalzi makes me doubt he will ever make that step.

  94. 94
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Gwangung: Oh, I agree about the depth to it. It’s not as simple as it looks on first blush, kind of tricks you into it. However, I just failed to find it very funny–amusing, but not funny–after being told repeatedly it was hilarious. I am disappoint.

    It also kind of borrowed a trope from “Visit To A Strange Planet” and “Visit To A Strange Planet Revisited” (the latter Scalzi’s almost certainly read, probably multiple times as I did) not to mention a few Star Trek episodes… Star Trek Voyager episodes. Which all just kind of made me shrug a bit.

    Margaret Wander Bonanno actually did some similar bits in her semi-autobiographical novel. And of course there’s GALAXY QUEST (although Wander Bonanno wrote her book first, I think).

    I think Scalzi did do a lot of things right overall but I guess my brain was pulling “Simpsons did it!” most of the time, until he got a little more serious. So … meh.

    Heck, didn’t Bradbury write a short story about what happens to fictional characters when we forget about them–?

    I like Scalzi, I do. But Bradbury was some kind of genius.

  95. 95
    Phoenician in a time of Romans says:

    @Desert Rat:

    By the way, there is no bigger misogynist in science fiction than John Ringo.

    John Norman is still alive (at 82). His last Gor novel was published in October 2012.

    You were saying?

  96. 96
    slag says:

    My favorite part of this whole affair is that this Ringo guy has written two posts complaining about the accolades bestowed on a book he hasn’t even read. And, without any hint of intended irony, implies that these accolades are based solely on Scalzi’s politics while his (Ringo’s) self-admittedly uninformed rants are clearly based on objective reasoning. Definitely a Conservative.

  97. 97
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @slag: The sad thing is that sometimes that WATB act that conservatives pull actually works. It’s maddening.

  98. 98
    The Moar You Know says:

    I had never read Scalzi’s “Being Poor”.

    I have spent most of my adult life trying desperately to forget. He got most of the important stuff right.

  99. 99
    slag says:

    @Another Holocene Human: Bravado. It’s really the only thing they’re good at. It’s unfortunate that we, as a society, are so easily impressed.

  100. 100
    Tehanu says:

    Well, I adore Agent to the Stars which is a hilarious Hollywood satire as well as being hard sf.

  101. 101
    sm*t cl*de says:

    I read his blog and am constantly amazed that [Scalzi] is so down to earth and so sensible

    O RLY? Two words:

  102. 102
    Robert Sneddon says:

    The Hugos are a popularity contest and not every year can have a lot of books destined to be classics in contention. This was not a great year for novel-length works and “Redshirts” won partly because it was “meta” — we like our insider references in the SF community, it’s a big reason why “Among Others” by Jo Walton won the Best Novel Hugo last year. If “Redshirts” had been in the cage-match of 2000, say, up against “A Civil Campaign” and “Cryptonomicon” and the eventual winner “A Deepness in the Sky” it would have been “Scalzi, who?”

  103. 103
    PaulW says:


    Wolfgang. Well, he’d WANT IT to be Wolfgang…

  104. 104
    TerryC says:

    @chicodude: “I actually returned Ghost to the library and tried to warn a librarian that maybe it shouldn’t go on the new releases shelf and she looked at me and said “We don’t censor books here!” and I felt horrible.”

    When I returned the copy I read to the A2 library, I knew they would be offended by any suggestion of censorship, so my pitch was that it was not science fiction and they should re-categorize it. (I think they had categorized just by his name.) I don’t know where it went but at least I don’t have to see it on the shelf in the SF section anymore.

  105. 105
    TerryC says:

    @Phoenician in a time of Romans: John Norman, ah, I had forgotten his name. That is an slimy series of books. What a pair of Johns.

  106. 106
    Ivan Ivanovich Renko says:

    I’ve loved Ringo’s Legacy of the Aldenata series; and I really liked the Troy Rising series except for the dog whistling all through it- “city dwellers” being his stand-in for libruls and Negroes (we know who live in the cities, amirite?); and there seem to be NO sympathetic characters in any of them (I could be mistaken about this, and would really love to discover that I am).

    Heinlein, who was mentioned earlier, made some of this characters explicitly black, and his “Citizen of the Galaxy” made it pretty clear to me that he would have hated the Confederacy almost as much as I do.

  107. 107
    Jockey Full of Malbec says:

    Redshirts was… cute. Wheaton reads it well on the audiobook.

    But… it’s also essentially a clever fanfic, that makes no sense outside of the context of a tv show from five decades ago.

    As someone old enough to remember when scifi was a challenging literature of ideas, I’d dare to suggest that the novel is also symptomatic of how literary scifi has become just another subculture, gazing up its own ass in self-referential wonder and amazement.

  108. 108
    LarryB says:

    @Narcissus: Oh, please. There’s an equally strong strain of bloody-minded military nut-jobs working the field. Drake, Ringo, Taylor, Weber, Sherman, Kratman – I could go on. Wingnuts complaining, and feeling victimized and working the refs? It’s what they do.

  109. 109
    Epicurus says:

    “I bet those grapes were sour, and they tasted AWFUL”–J. Ringo, embittered loser.

  110. 110
    Someguy says:

    Scalzi is mediocre at best, Ringo flat out sucks, and sci fi is deader than a doornail. Unless of course you consider fantasy and space opera to be the main part of sci fi, in which case you’re in the high clover right now. If Stross wasn’t writing sci fi as a genre wouldn’t be worth paying any attention to whatsoever.

  111. 111
    Vlad says:

    I generally like but don’t love Scalzi’s work, and Redshirts was no exception. I could see it being the best SF novel in a year, if it was a weak year. I haven’t read any of the other nominees, so I can’t say for sure.

    I haven’t read any of Ringo’s stuff either, but since there are plenty of novels written by people who don’t seem to be as bitter and spiteful as he does here, that’s probably not going to change in the future. It’s too bad that he didn’t bother to read Scalzi’s novel before complaining about it, and that he didn’t even bother to say which book he thought should have won the award instead.

  112. 112
    Anna in PDX says:

    @LM: Scalzi does not self-identify as a “liberal” as far as I remember. His classic “I hate your politics” post sort of does a “pox on all your houses” routine. And is very funny. And I say this as a card carrying liberal.

  113. 113
    Tiny Hermaphrodite, Esq. says:

    @ chicodue 92
    I witnessed a similar scene in my public library of choice involving Alan Moore’s “Watchmen”, which was apparently simply filed under comics. And comics are just harmless funny stuff like the “Peanuts”, right? A quick glance at the actual contents of “Watchmen” however, seemed to convince the librarian that it should be placed in a more grown up section.

  114. 114
    Shwell Thanksh says:

    Sincerely appreciate this post!
    Still mourning Iain (and now Frederik too) but this award (and that photo) brought a grin to my face.

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