I didn’t know you cared. But since you do…

So: doctor first thing Thursday morning, although whatever’s eating my legs seems to be dying on its own (despite the fact that the pus is back). So you guys can stop worrying/mocking me/tossing your cookies.

The readings went over really well last night (and I’m told the video will be online before too long), to a packed house in a cozy crimson venue right out of Eastern Promises. Even better, ChiZine paid for all my Coronas.   There’s a whole sheaf of pictures from the evening over here, nicely arranged in slideshow format.

But that’s not really what I want to talk to you about tonight.  what I want to talk about is, um, a bit delicate. I’m not especially good at the whole self-promotion thing — not because I don’t crave success and glory (I do), but because I don’t want to appear to crave it so, well, cravenly. We’ve already got enough self-aggrandising tub-thumpers in these parts; there are some web sites out there I can’t visit without cringing.

But some of you may have noticed something TheEchoInside stuck into the last post’s comment stream — something about a poll over at Tor.com in which readers weigh in on The Best Fantasy/SF Book of the Decade. (I notice that most people vote for multiple books, but that seems to be okay.) I have not a hope in Hades of ever winning such a People’s-Choicean accolade (that’s pretty clearly going to Scalzi), and I am in fact kind of surprised to even be in the running. But as of the last tally Blindsight‘s sitting just below the cut at #12 (I was at #11 a day ago, but has since slipped a notch). And I gotta say, it’d be pretty nice to break into the top ten, at least.

Of course, by applying this self-serving nudge I’m contaminating the results;  some votes might accrue out of pity or guilt rather than an honest assessment of literary quality. On the other hand, I’m led to believe that a bunch of other candidates are leaning on their readers to skew the count, so the poll’s contaminated anyway. All such polls are.   Normally it wouldn’t matter.   Normally I wouldn’t embarrass myself like this regardless.   It’s not as though you get a Porsche  for making the finals.

But the thing is, this particular poll is being run by Tor. And the sailing between Tor and myself has not always been, shall we say, glassy smooth. Some of you may remember the difficulties I had with them over, over — oh, right: a novel called Blindsight. Difficulties sufficient to inspire me to give it away for free under a Creative Commons license barely two months after publication, since there was no other way to get the damn thing out to readers who couldn’t find it in bookstores.

And there it is, just this close to breaking into the top ten novels of the decade as decided by Tor readers. And really, wouldn’t that be sweet?

So I’m going to break my usual rule here and point out that anyone who wants to put in a good word for Blindsight over there has until 11:59pm Friday to do so.  But if any of you are so inclined, don’t do it for the usual reasons. Don’t do it for me.

Do it for whoever wrote Blindsight off as DOA before it even got out the gate. Do it with your middle finger.

Now I’m going to go and check out this latest paper by Bem. I gotta say, the idea that pornography enhances precognition is one of those glorious things that both makes perfect sense in hindsight, and which you’d never think of in a million years.

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Wednesday January 12 2011at 05:01 pm , filed under misc, public interface . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

116 Responses to “I didn’t know you cared. But since you do…”

  1. To quote from that NYT article you linked:
    “So far, at least three efforts to replicate the experiments have failed. But more are in the works, Dr. Bem said, adding, “I have received hundreds of requests for the materials” to conduct studies.”

    I think this is a great idea. I am so going to start writing labs and requesting copies of all of their erotic photography.

  2. You ask, you receive, my friend!

  3. Big Man, you know what I like:

    http://dbem.ws/FeelingFuture.pdf

    ——-
    Thank God a doctor is looking at your leg.

    Slideshow is cute. I get vicarious warm fuzzies from it, so thanks for posting.

  4. I actually voted in this a few hours ago:

    Blindsight – Peter Watts
    Maelstrom – Peter Watts
    Chasm City – Alastair Reynolds
    Stephen Baxter – Manifold: Space
    Pandora’s Star – Peter F. Hamilton
    Perdido Street Station – China Mieville
    Illium – Dan Simmons
    City of Saints and Madmen – Jeff Vandermeer
    Blind Lake – Robert Charles Wilson

    I really hope you get in the top 10. Old Man’s War was good, but I don’t think it’s anywhere near the “best of the decade”! However, I do think Blindsight is!

  5. @caudoviral, that crossed with the xenotext experiment, http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=2122

    good luck for the poll. I voted for Blindsight along with some other novels.

  6. Vote cast. I ended up listing about seven titles that I’d read and liked, but I didn’t have any hesitation about putting “Blindsight” in first position.

  7. voted.
    Also just got Malak in the Anthology from the amazons. Thank you very much.

  8. Old Man’s War was pretty entertaining pulp novel, in a good way, hardly an authoritative literary work of science fiction. That has to be Kim Stanley Robinson, Peter Watts or Richard Morgan (though I have not read all other contenders obviously).

    Will vote!

  9. I’ll vote for you but you better give the kitties a can of tuna.

  10. Too late–already voted for Blindsight a couple of days ago.

  11. Done. And not only are you not getting proper props neither is Richard Morgan. Altered Carbon not in the top 10?!?!?? Bogus.

  12. Here’s my list.

    Look to Windward, Iain Banks
    The Algebraist, Iain Banks
    Blindsight, Peter Watts
    Little Brother, Cory Doctorow
    Sun of Suns, Karl Schroeder
    Territory, Emma Bull
    The City and the City, China Mieville
    Halting State, Charles Stross
    The Gone-Away World, Nick Harkaway

  13. Hell, I’d vote for any of your novels as among the top SF novels of the last decade, Peter. I’ve started reading several authors I hadn’t read before in the past few years–Scalzi, Stross, Schroeder, to name just a few who figure in the lists above–as well as several of the others who’ve come up in these lists–Stephenson, Wilson, Doctorow, Baxter, Robinson e.g.–and there’s no question whatsoever in my mind that you’re tops among these guys and all the rest. You’re absolutely one of the best SF writers working today. Inarguably.

  14. I still think it’s far too soon to be assessing the best novels of aughts. We should be voting on the best novels of the ’90s.

    And yes, your presence on my lawn does annoy me.

  15. Damn, every time I try to open the Tor page, it crashes Explorer. . . . And the fact that what I can read of the page seems to be written by someone under the misapprehension that the 21st century began in the year 2000 isn’t exactly enouraging either. . . .

  16. I love photos of you looking cheerful. The one time I got to meet you thus far I can say that the adjectives that immediately come to mind are exuberant, genuinely humble, huge, and kind.

    Blindsight was lifechanging. I hope to goodness it gets into the top ten. But I’ll have a hard time caring if it does or doesn’t, since nothing I ever like wins awards mostly. When things I like win awards, it’s really a cause to celebrate , because it rarely happens. I guess I’m an outlier. I hope you aren’t cursed with a bunch of outlier fans . . . although it occurs to me that when there’s a critical mass of us, perhaps folks can’t really call us outliers anymore? Math fail on me, most likely.

    This is an essay, with photos, about sf corridors, found via kottke. It is AWESOME. And unscientific also.
    http://www.denofgeek.com/movies/313130/in_praise_of_the_scifi_corridor.html

  17. You are in good company:

    The Windup Girl – Paolo Bacigalupi
    The Player of Games – Iain M Banks
    Cyberabad Days – Ian McDonald
    Finch – Jeff Vandermeer
    Blindsight – Peter Watts

  18. Hrm, the thought that you might become the Paris Hilton of SF is incredibly unlikely, I believe. But, it’s the mental image that came to mind when I read the delicate paragraph and I’m finding it incredibly amusing =)

    And as appealing as the middle finger is, or the influence of guilt/pity, I’d say that your being in the running before the plug shows it’s a work of merit. But, that’s just my penguinly opinion =)

    In regards to that paper, it seems rather intriguing, not entirely sure what to make of it. Read about it a while ago, and found that one of the groups that failed to replicate one of the tests results, actually put their version on-line, which is here:
    http://consumerbehaviorlab.com/esp1_live/esp1_live.php
    It’s an interesting and relatively brief little diversion. Though the “relaxing” music it plays caused the opposite reaction in me, made my sensory organs weep =P

    It also made me think immediately of something I sent a link to you about a bit ago, regarding the potential for the future affecting the past at the quantum level. Here it is for anyone else curious:
    http://discovermagazine.com/2010/apr/01-back-from-the-future/
    The principle of the mechanism they used and how Bem’s study functioned seems very similar to me.

  19. Forgot to link, results of the failed replication here:
    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1699970

  20. @rich–hate to break it to you, but _The Player of Games_ came out in 1988. Not that it wasn’t an awesome book.

  21. Dominick:
    What Tor actually did was count a decade as eleven years (Jan. 2000 to Dec. 2010), I’m assuming to avoid offending anyone.

  22. @Sheila: that is awesome! SMBC holds a special place in my heart, but I haven’t managed to make it through the entirety of their archives yet.

    Voted for Blindsight last night. Honestly, I really like the Rifters stuff a little more, but since Blindsight has a chance of winning, and because I appreciate the idea of Tor having to claim a novel they tried to fuck over as one of the top ten of the aughts (and because the entire trilogy didn’t fall in the 2000s), it got my vote.

    Mind you, I like Blindsight. It did send me running to look into a bunch of interesting research and tangentially prompted my purchase of Francis Crick’s The Astonishing Hypothesis (which I really hope isn’t shit).

  23. Didn’t vote last time because I saw Bujold on there so I didn’t want to have to decide, but since you’re allowed multiples, I gave you both my wee vote. There really should be a separate fantasy category for Bujold to win on her own…

  24. http://www.yankodesign.com/2011/01/13/king-of-the-cephalopods/

  25. > Of course, by applying this self-serving nudge I’m contaminating the results; some votes might accrue out of pity or guilt rather than an honest assessment of literary quality. On the other hand, I’m led to believe that a bunch of other candidates are leaning on their readers to skew the count, so the poll’s contaminated anyway.

    cough*John Scalzi*cough :)

    I think everyone understands by this point that online polls aren’t really trustworthy, anyway.

  26. Here’s how I voted:

    Blindsight by Peter Watts
    Vellum-The Book of All Hours by Hal Duncan
    Shriek: An Afterword by Jeff VanderMeer
    Neuropath by R. Scott Bakker
    Brasyl by Ian McDonald
    Light by M. John Harrison
    The City & the city by China Miéville
    Thunderer by Felix Gilman
    The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross

  27. @Caudoviral: I think I gave up on the archives and have been reading them as they come out. (I will now refrain from going off topic about all the webcomics I read.)

    @Caudoviral: I like the rifters books more than people talk about them (blindsight seems to get all of the attention), but if I were in a forced choice situation I think I might rank blindsight as the best work of art. though I give myself an out to think that I would want to reread everything with my inner critic turned to 11. maybe I would change my mind?

    picking books for authors for best of decade is tricky. I have a list of authors in my head, but trying to select out a book from the past 10 years as a representive best work is too hard. Ian M Banks, for example. I gave up listing him because I couldn’t remember what I’d rank as best. Charles Stross — what do I pick? I think people might be right to pick Glasshouse as the most meaningful/art/something, but hey, humor is also meaningful so I picked Halting State. Gene Wolfe, wtf. what do I pick from that guy? China Meiville, come on. wtf. which book do I pick? Connie Willis, P C Hodgell, on and on

  28. Oh yeah. Greg Egan too. I wasn’t sure at all which of his novels to pick.

  29. gwern points out: I think everyone understands by this point that online polls aren’t really trustworthy, anyway.

    Agree! Especially if we say they are measuring the quality they claim to measure, and of course they don’t. I bet the creators of the poll assume they don’t? You can’t tell this soon after the decade the Literary Greatness of the books from that decade! Only time tells you that.

    The reason for the poll is two-fold:
    1. to plant the idea that the books from writers in their stable wrote great books, as in, marketing.
    2. marketing research.

    Peter said: I’m contaminating the results; some votes might accrue out of pity or guilt rather than an honest assessment of literary quality.

    Or simple rah-rah for a writer the readers like? If say, oh, someone unnamed thought Starfish was a better literary work, but had no problem voting for Blindsight as a vote for Watts the writer?

    Consider this – according to Squid Idea Canon, corporations (i.e. Tor, here) are sociopathic entities, with self-promotion and shareholder happiness as the main goal. Exploiting the authors and the readers fully under that goal means success for the entity. In that schema, there’s no need to put our thumbs into the eye of Tor (or waggle our middle fingers at them) because it’s not personal that we are the “marks,” it just changes the rules.

    If the rule is unfettered capitalism, then we can support the two entities who supply our product – Dr. Watts and Tor – by buying physical copy and by voting for Peter whenever and wherever Tor can see. Vote early and often. This tells Tor, who cannot id us personally, that the Buying Public as an entity says: MOAR PETER WATTS PLZ.

    (I don’t speak for PW, for whom I get the impression the Tor/Watts interface is extremely personal, because he must interact with actual humans at Tor, and the people, even as part of the sociopathic whole, operate less brutally individually, not as the uber-sociopath they become in the aggregate. I mean it’s impersonal to us as readers because we have no interaction with those individual employees, just Tor the Business Entity. Unless someone can explain to me how it should be personal for me? I’m open to suggestion.)

    @Sheila: Stross is a kick-ass storyteller and Glasshouse is probably actual literature. Also, try to pick one Charlie Stross that’s “the best.” He’s like three different writers, for heaven’s sake.

  30. Voted. Feel dirty.

  31. I think you should tell the world how awesome you are as often as possible. But that’s just me.

  32. Paging Mr. Dr. Squid. What’s the verdict on the suppurating leg nipple?

    @redindiangirl: he should get a publicist to say all of the stuff that embarrasses him.

  33. etranger, on January 12th, 2011 at 9:45 pm Said:
    Dominick:
    What Tor actually did was count a decade as eleven years (Jan. 2000 to Dec. 2010), I’m assuming to avoid offending anyone.

    lol! Other than poeple who can count to ten?

  34. my vote:

    Peter Watts, Blindsight
    Stephen Baxter, Time’s Tapestry Book One: Emperor
    Sergej Lukianenko, Спектр (Spectrum)
    Charles Stross, Singularity Sky
    Frank Borsch, Alien Earth — Phase 1 (despite the English title in German — great localized dystopy with showdown at Frankfurt’s Main Station)

    Flashback to Utopiales: End of universe (or rather time): http://arxiv.org/abs/1009.4698

  35. They just tweeted the updated results for today:
    http://www.tor.com/blogs/2011/01/best-sff-novels-of-the-decade-poll-update-0113

    I’d just like to say… Mwhahahaha! *cough, hack, wheeze*

    And to reiterate, I’ll keep on believing that those who voted for you, did so out of enjoyment of the work. I think the jump is due to new awareness of the poll (why I sent it), rather than any strange manipulations =)

  36. Don’t feel guilty about self-promotion, I’ve seen several other authors blogging about it too. Don’t think of it as a popularity contest, think of it as jogging peoples memories…I voted for a couple of titles that I wouldn’t have thought of if I hadn’t seen them on the top 20 list (Night Watch, Terry Pratchett).

  37. Seriously, what the hell???? EVERY TIME I try to go to the voting thread, Internet Explorer freezes on me. . . . Even on different computers.

  38. Well,at least you ranked higher than Harry Potter.

    On a different subject, did you hear that the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council has prohibited the broadcasting of Dire Strait’s “Money for Nothing” because the lyrics contain the word “faggot”. It would be funny if it were not so scary. When the same body censured that evangelist gasbag Charles McVety I was laughing, but I am reconsidering this opinion. Who knows, maybe they will rule that the Rifters books give a negative portrayal of sexual sadists, or glamorize victims of child abuse, but only the audo versions.

  39. I had already voted before I saw this post – Blindsight was on my fairly short list of books, so no need to feel awkward….

  40. Of course now there’s the inevitable people accusing us of spamming. 😛

  41. WHAT IN THE SEVEN HELLS IS THAT THING?

  42. From #12 to #4…not too shabby.

  43. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by torforgeauthors. torforgeauthors said: Peter Watts: http://bit.ly/eebf5X […]

  44. W00t!

    I wonder whether they ban TOR nodes and other known proxies from voting…

  45. @Anony Mouse

    The CRTC is always up to fun things, there was metered usage and now they’re trying to make it easy/acceptable for broadcasters to lie to us:
    http://bit.ly/eSBzLG

    If you feel inclined to oppose (I did), the document is here:
    http://bit.ly/hPNhlc
    And the comment submission is here:
    http://bit.ly/i2Z8DG

  46. So, I tried to vote on the Tor site yesterday and today, but every time I head over there my CPU crashes… Anyone else had that problem?

    Mark C

  47. Peter: I voted for you a while ago. This afternoon I had some free energy/time from a tough med regime, looked at your blog, then at Offesnsive Squid, and then voted for you. Be assured that I would have done so under any conditions.

  48. Voted!

    Blindsight
    Revelation Space
    Accelerando

  49. I don’t get crashing, but my IE seems to hang until I eventually have to close it because it’s changing my PC’s performance. I can’t get into the page you vote on! *muttering to self*

  50. the voting thread is _huuuuuge_. Big page = hard to load

  51. I tried voting yesterday, but after submitting I was informed that my post had been flagged as spam and was held for moderation… A great conspiracy?… Let’s just hope it gets the go ahead before they close the voting.

    Voted for three favorites:
    Blindsight
    Accelerando by Charles Stross (much to Stross’ disapproval I would imagine)
    Market Forces by Richard Morgan (should have chosen Altered Carbon since that already had a few votes)

    Right now it’s looking good for Blindsight, moved all the way up to number four. Keeping my fingers crossed!

  52. @Hljóðlegur: try a different browser maybe?

  53. I had a similar issue with my legs a couple of years ago, cultures showed nothing infecting, they appeared on both legs freaking me out, and I’m generally in pretty good health, but they cleared up after a few of months of baffling my doctor and a dermatologist, and were completely indifferent to the presence or absence of antibiotics in my system. The worst part wasn’t having one it was knowing you were about to have one, when you could feel the skin tighten up a day or so before.

    The best thing for them was to keep them dry and wrapped, and after a while they went away on their own and stopped forming. =/

  54. Wait a sec. There are people still using Internet Explorer?

    Voted, but i feel bad about it. Any poll that is getting repeat Harry Potter nods is something you don’t need to concern yourself over, Peter. It’s not like it’s even in the ballpark of pretending to be scientific, either. Pretty much any random can vote as many times as they want, even if they’re monitoring IP addys (simple to get around), which I bet they aren’t.

    It’s also always a shame to see hard science fiction get lumped in with pop fantasy. The fact that Blindsight is even in the top 20 of that crowd is something you should really take heart in.

  55. @ScottC LYNX 4 EVAH

  56. @ ScottC

    You know, if my most recent specsom was here, she would have been frothing at the mouth spewing obscenities, telling you in terms that have more to do with genealogy and gynecology than with literature and marketing that you are wrong and that you have to push, squeeze and pull your product into every sufficiently noteworthy publicity outlet if you can afford it.

    Sometimes, I think that I should send her to Peter so she can take over the “self-promotion” part of his marketing drive, but she doesn’t speak English.

  57. It’s an online poll: of course it’s contaminated. Nor is it scientific, or fair; you can vote for as many titles as you want.

    What is fun (and worthwhile) about it is the discussion it generates and the potential to draw the attention of potential new readers to brilliant stories they might have overlooked otherwise.

    FWIW, “Blindsight” was doing quite well early on in the poll (I got my vote in relatively early), before writers with large blog audiences (I’m looking at you Neil Gaiman & John Scalzi) started publicising it.

  58. “Of course, by applying this self-serving nudge I’m contaminating the results”

    Already voted for Blindsight (and no other books) a few days ago. Didn’t even have to ponder the question. No other novel of the decade comes close.

  59. @Jayn Rand

    My comment was just a bit of casual snobbery. From a practical standpoint, you are certainly right that Peter, having made the rather dubious decision to try and make money by writing challenging hard science fiction, should take any possible opportunity to promote his work.

  60. @Val: What? They’re remaking “Outland”?

  61. Wasn’t “Outland” a remake of “High Noon”? So they’re remaking the remake of “High Noon in Space” ?

    That article is missing a shot from Event Horizon. The set design in that film was easily the best thing about it. Like the corridor that is constructed entirely of spinning blades for no practical purpose.

  62. Getting excited to read my Iain Banks collection (collected, but never read). Also have Light, Sun of Suns, Brasyl and Vellum in the closet amongst others not yet read (Effinger, David Louis Edelman, Vernor Vinge, more space oprah too)

    I finished The Windup Girl the other day, pretty damn cool, added that to the list with my vote with Peter and Richard Morgan. Didn’t see one mention of KSR though, what up with that, dude wrote the Mars Trilogy, he’s a giant! Dan Simmons too man, Hyperion!

    Anyways, this poll structure is pretty silly, I wouldn’t put too much weight on it, it’s just for the few who find the site, who are obviously going to come from the biggest blog, which is Scalzi’s by far or Boing Boing or something if they asked to vote.

    Anyways, best of luck hope you make it in top 10.

  63. I’m glad I can vote for multiples, because between you and Paolo Bacigaluppi I would have a *really* hard time trying to choose. Blindsight vs. The Windup Girl isn’t so hard; Blindsight was by far the better story. But if I treat it more as a representative work of authorial quality overall, and allow other works from before the era to weigh in…

    Well, ‘tween you and Bacigaluppi, I’d say that would be a heavyweight fight worthy of going to the judges in the 12th.

    Is there some kind of fund we can start to put together dream teams of paired writers? I have no idea what would come out of the pairing of pens between you and Bacigaluppi, but daaaaamn.

    (Or you and Greg Bear. Greg’s great, but the dude needs a firmer hand on the rudder of the science and gritty.)

  64. @Bahumat: Hmmm…a heavyweight fight between Watts and Bacigalupi… So while we are putting together the fund for your dream team idea, can we also start a fund for writer cage matches?

    As of 3:02 PM Blindsight was in third place. It will be interesting to see the final tally.

  65. “writer cage matches”

    Well, gives a new meaning to writer’s block. In that context it may save your life. 😉

    Great job, third now! Another 80 votes and your first!

    Shame that so many good books are not on the list though and Paolo Bacigalupi is nog get much love!

  66. Haven’t seen an official tally — and people are still voting even as I type, despite the fact that the poll was officially supposed to close last midnight — but if I’m counting this right I’m settled in at #4. Way better than I was expecting (especially since two of the top three are fantasies).

    Which probably means I’m not counting this right.

  67. Peter, as you can see, self-promotion works (that’s because it just works)

  68. w00t! As the kids say.

  69. Sorry, I was too late to vote, but it seems that Blindsight is doing great without my help 😉

    I still think that this novel is greatly underrated, but several readers have indicated that they want to pick it up and that’s a major result!

    Hope your leg is getting better. MRSA is antibiotic-resistant by definition but you can’t get too wrong with a bit of iodine. It’s important to keep an eye on those things.

  70. According to 01/14 update, Blindsight has settled in at #3!
    Go, Kick-ass Book go!!

  71. #3 seems about right to me, that is where I would put it on my list behind “Nova Swing” and “The Windup Girl”

  72. Peter,

    1. I hope you didn’t have to count by hand.

    2. I guess you still posting means that the leg wound wasn’t a Thing?

  73. As of 3:02 on Friday, you’re in 3rd. Not bad, not bad.

  74. Oh, by the way, update on the leg, perhaps?

  75. I feel like an idjit. Or a Canadian.

    I saw the Tor poll, even saw that you were ranking pretty high. But I didn’t vote for you. Or for anyone.

    “Why Young Geoffrey,” I said to myself in my most earnest of tones, “You haven’t read nearly enough of the decade’s novels to cast an educated ballot! Surely you don’t want to sully that otherwise pristine pool with a vote based on as a limited a menu as is contained in your library!”

    I know what I was thinking but, I confess, I haven’t a clue *why* I thought it.

  76. Just noticed this. “The Things” got BSFA Award nomination:

    http://vectoreditors.wordpress.com/2011/01/17/2010-bsfa-awards-shortlists-2/

  77. Reminds me, could you write a reading list one time, Peter? So we know what books inspired you or you think are must reads/had special meaning for you?

    Would be cool, got most of my books that way so far and doesn’t dissapoint.

  78. Actually, I have to agree with Mirik. That would be pretty fascinating to see. I always wonder what authors read.

    (Although I suppose that you already give us a heads up on the nonfiction via the References sections at the back of your novels.)

  79. A friend introduced me to some witty posts in ye olde’ crawl on blogger today and I blundered onward into this one. I just wanted you to know I’ll probably be linking to you soon on my blog, not my main site. (for all things blogly)

    I’ll be hoping you don’t mind! snoggish.blogspot.com

  80. http://www.boingboing.net/2011/01/18/assemblage-octopus-f.html

  81. Dang, turn.self.off beat me to it.

  82. On the 18th January, they said that the results of this poll would be tallied “later on this week, fingers crossed”:

    http://www.tor.com/blogs/2011/01/best-sff-novels-of-the-decade-poll-update-were-counting

    And yet nothing has been said about it since.

  83. Yeah, a couple of folks have been asking about that…

    http://www.tor.com/blogs/2011/01/best-sff-novels-of-the-decade-poll-update-0114#162252

  84. Heck with it. Crave glory. Self promote-mostly cause Canuckistan treats it’s artists like shit…

  85. Someone write a script to count up the votes because I am too lazy to. you guys are smart and won’t be phased by natural language, come on.

  86. One of the editors commented that they know the top ten, but are still counting for extended results, and also lining people up to write appreciation articles for the top ten.

    If Peter does end up making the top ten, I wonder who they’ll get to sing the praises of Blindsight? As long as Peter’s getting in touch with his inner whore here, maybe he can prod one of his new Hugo cronies.

  87. Ah, great. They *should* publish an appreciation of Blindsight to atone for that cover…

  88. Now they say they are going to do more “analysis” and the count will drag on until mid to late February! If I was more cynical, I would wonder if Tor are looking to find a way to bury the whole thing so they don’t have to admit that Blindsight was one of the best SF books of the decade despite how badly they treated it. But they wouldn’t be that petty or vindictive, right?

  89. ^
    |
    No, I don’t think it has anything to do with that. I doubt the people that edit content on that site have much to do with the publishing decisions made by Tor. It’s also important to remember, that poll is a statistically meaningless piece of fluff. It’s fun for what it is, but it means nothing. Proper perspective should be kept.

    I hope you’re not the one that voiced that same opinion in the Tor comments. Attaching a “Blindsight”-specific conspiracy to a griping post about why the (meaningless) poll is late, doesn’t do Peter any favors. It will only invite people to chime in with heir opinions on Blindsight, and why it does (and more likely) doesn’t belong. If it becomes the “Blindsight Show”, there will be backlash.

  90. ^
    |
    No, I don’t think it has anything to do with that. I doubt the people that edit content on that site have much to do with the publishing decisions made by Tor. It’s also important to remember, that poll is a statistically meaningless piece of fluff. It’s fun for what it is, but it means nothing. Proper perspective should be kept.

    I hope you’re not the one that voiced that same opinion in the Tor comments. Attaching a “Blindsight”-specific conspiracy to a griping post about why the (meaningless) poll is late, doesn’t do Peter any favors. It will only invite people to chime in with heir opinions on Blindsight, and why it does (and more likely) doesn’t belong. If it becomes the “Blindsight Show”, there will be backlash.

  91. I’m guilty as charged, and you’re probably right. I agree that it means nothing in the grand scheme of things. But if it’s such statistically meaningless fluff, how the fuck is it going to take them two to four weeks to count up the top 10 votes, when they initially said the votes would be counted by last week?

    And so what if people chime in with their opinions about Blindsight’s eligibility? That can’t affect the final count, right? What with the arrow of causality pointing relentlessly forwards? Unless the counting process *is* actually corrupt.. Or is this some kind of quantum thing where expressing doubts about the integrity of the counting process makes the Tor photons retroactively go into the “naughty” slit?

    The people who edit Tor.com undoubtedly don’t have much to do with publishing decisions, but that doesn’t mean the people who make publishing decisions can’t influence Tor.com. The vote-counting monkeys are presumably subject to edicts from Passive Naggressive Hayden.

    In conclusion, I resent that I am having to write a comment justifying my low-probability suspicions about a meaningless internet poll about a science fiction novel. Every decent, right-thinking person should already know that Blindsight was the best SF novel of the decade.

  92. Ben Wrote:

    And so what if people chime in with their opinions about Blindsight’s eligibility? That can’t affect the final count, right?

    Because then I have to listen to people who are voting for Harry Potter and Dresden Files novels as the “best science fiction and fantasy of the decade” dump on Blindsight because a novel slightly challenged them, or because they were led to believe it was about “space vampires”, but the vampire within was not a sexually ambiguous, leather clad euro-hipster superhero with a heart of gold, and bore little or no resemblance to any of the collected works of Joss Whedon. Although he did have that sweet visor.

    That might be what finally makes me trephine myself with the nearest pointy instrument I can find, Ben. It’s an increasingly attractive option that I can usually talk myself down from, as long as I avoid 24 hour cable news, and any content that links to or otherwise invokes the word “twitter”. But I’m still vulnerable to being situationally overwhelmed.

    I know you don’t want that, Ben. Don’t do it for yourself. Do it for me.

  93. Maybe counting the votes is taking so long because there was a last minute flood of Twilight fans, and the top 20 is all Stephanie Meyer’s books, and then novel-length Twilight fanfic. They didn’t say it had to be the best *published* novels of the decade, after all…

  94. ScotC said:
    they were led to believe it was about “space vampires”, but the vampire within was not a sexually ambiguous, leather clad euro-hipster superhero with a heart of gold

    Interestingly, my humble experimental efforts demonstrate (with current sample of 6, but in “sooooocial “sciences”” that’s hardly a roadblock…Phenomenology, I choose you! ) teenage women who like Twilight responded unexpectedly favorably to Blindsight, with 4 finding Jukka sexually attractive (“sexy”, “hot”, “menacingly erotic” and such), one reporting feeling sorry for Keaton, Jukka (!) and the author (!!!), and one avoiding elaboration but generally claiming it was “okay read” (ambiguous reaction)

    Methinks there exists a demographic which automatically attaches the label of “sexy” to anything labeled “vampire”.

    P.S.:
    If I was less concerned about possibility of ending up looking silly, I would have gotten meself some fine fangs and tested this hypothesis empirically.

  95. ^
    |

    Jayn Rand:
    Methinks there exists a demographic which automatically attaches the label of “sexy” to anything labeled “vampire”.

    Interesting that you felt the need to poll a group of teenage girls to determine that. I would think the popularity of the Twilight movies would make that self evident, as there’s really no other explanation to account for their success. Cthulu save us from teenage girls, and the fact that they are such a lucrative demographic to exploit.

    I think the example that was sticking in my head, though, was the user reviewer on Blindsight’s Amazon listing (I know, I know, but I cannot stop myself from reading them…it’s a sickness) who accused Peter of crowbarring a vampire into his story “to make money”.

    I find it unlikely this person actually read the book. Putting aside the absurd notion that anyone who is writing hard science fiction is doing it with any illusions of pandering to the average North American mainstream reader, it should be quickly apparent that Jukka does not conform to any popular vampire archetype. He is simply alien, more so than he is any recognizable conventional vampire. He is every bit as alien as the scramblers, and his unique cognitive architecture is completely germane to the main themes in the book. This person couched their argument as if Peter had chucked in a common urban fantasy trope because “vampires are in” or some such nonsense.

    /rant

    “Menacingly erotic” ? Really?

    Christ.

  96. It wasn’t polling per se.
    The original idea was to annoy an unhealthily Twilight-obsessed teenage daughter of a friend (general assumption was that trying to work her way through a hard-SF novel would prove an unpleasant experience).
    Later, upon being faced with her peculiar response of being more or less lukewarm towards novel in general but loving Jukka, and due to knowing a non-teenage woman of vastly different taste in literature who has similar opinion regarding “space vampire”‘s sex appeal, who, by the way, visits this blog occasionally (Hi, 03! :)) I decided to repeat this little escapade whenever opportunity presents itself (which it does fairly rarely :( )

    As for Jukka being vastly different from the mainstream vamps…this is…interesting.
    For one, as far as “external” traits are concerned, the Blindsight vampires are quite intentionally not. Apparently, quite a remarkable amount of effort was spent to migrate most “classic” vampire traits (including fear of crucifixes and oddball “invitation” legends) into the intradiegetic environment of a hard-scifi novel. Jukka also manages to formally fulfill “heroic sociopath” trope via eventual demise during a suicide mission to take out an existential threat and preferring to preserve Keaton (or whatever is left of him after a session of punch-psychotherapy ) instead of himself, which is a common development with “monster” protagonists (possibly subverted, depending on how one interprets Jukka’s fairly opaque motives and Siri’s mental state).
    At the same time, as far as internal traits are concerned Blindsight vampires are indeed profoundly unconventional. Methinks that forms an interesting interplay… Too bad I am not a literature critic to draw some profound philosophical conclusion out of *cough* somewhere at this point …Maybe someone can help me out? 😉

    P.S.:
    It is interesting to note that Twilight vampires, upon examination, are exact opposite. Their external traits have very little connection to “pop culture vampires” beyond fangs (no weaknesses, no dependency upon anthropophagy…It seems that they are more like venomous sparkling stone golems of some sort, calling themselves “vampires” as a kind of weird fashion statement or something).
    But as far as their attitude and behavior is concerned, they are perhaps the most cliche urban fantasy vampires to ever happen in print (and, unlike other urban fantasy “sexually ambiguous, leather clad euro-hipster superhero with a heart of gold”, the Twilight “vampires” have zero coherent reason for all the self-loathing bullshit that they readily exhibit)

  97. And yeah, Jukka is, allegedly, menacingly erotic, among other things.
    One really has to wonder whether such opinions correlate with any particular mate selection preferences…

  98. I could get in to a whole thing. You know. A thing . About the simultaneous decline and proliferation of vampires in popular fantasy. It’s a wellspring of rant-tastic goodness for me, with my “everything is stupid and/or terrible” mindset, in between gulps of vodka. But I will spare you. Just this once.

    The “Sarasti is menacingly erotic” thing is disturbing, though. Because Peter included not a hint of sexuality into his rendering of Jukka Sarasti. I believe that’s a reasonable assessment of the character, beyond my basic hetero male mindset. There’s just nothing there that should register Sarasti on anyone’s sexual radar. There’s no humanity, no meaningful glances, no sexual presence. There’s nothing erotic there, save for the anticipation and execution of violence, and I want to believe women, even an a young age are not so easily manipulated as to find that attractive for it’s own sake.

    I desperately want to believe there’s more to women than the whole tired “X is a figure of power, therefore he is attractive as a sire and provider for my offspring”, thing. The same way some women find Tony Soprano attractive for the same reasons. And Tony Soprano is a whole lot more personable than Jukka Sarasti.

  99. By the way, what do I have to do on this blog, to get one of those blue names, who I am convinced can edit their posts, so I don’t have to live with the shame of my ” its vs. it’s” blunder forever and ever?

    Is it a Word Press thing? Do I have to download software?

  100. I don’t think the blue names have any special editing privileges. Sometimes I wonder if I even do. I was going to do you a favor and fix your “its” (Actually I was going to leave it as is, but bold the font to make it more conspicuous), only I’ve gone up to the past three or four of your postings and can’t find anywhere where you’ve made that mistake. I would look further (or just insert new mistakes where none had been before), but it’s getting late and I have to make another doctor’s appointment for this damn infection.

  101. @Jayn Rand “The original idea was to annoy an unhealthily Twilight-obsessed teenage daughter of a friend […]

    not to derail but if your friend’s daughter is still stuck on vampire fiction, I would recommend Sunshine by Robin McKinley (or pretty much anything by McKinley, particularly for YA females).

    Ps. I read the Twilight books because of the rabid obsession of daughters of a friend. I just had to understand. morbid curiosity. wow, they are bad. I was expecting the movie to be full of explosions and fight scenes with a little romance since that’s what Hollywood likes to do but they failed me.

    If anyone else needs help with morbid curiosity let me know.

  102. “but it’s getting late and I have to make another doctor’s appointment for this damn infection.”

    oh no, be okay.

  103. testing whether filling in the website field gives a blue name. if so, it is probably meaningless with respect to being able to edit.

  104. @Peter

    I executed the dreaded “its vs it’s” in the phrase, “…are not so easily manipulated as to find that attractive for it’s own sake.”

    Not that I’m overly anal about it. My comments contain any number of casual syntax errors. Not to mention incomplete sentences. The fact I can occasionally form complete sentences at all, given my daily intake of vodka, is pretty impressive. That one is particularly embarrassing, though. It’s only slightly less humiliating than “theirs vs. there’s”.

  105. At the risk of being back on topic to some small degree, my main problem with the Twilight franchise (if you had to pick only one), is that it steps on the toes of the Greatest Song Ever ™:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-uaXyc6Mlw&fmt=18

    Modern pop culture should always know its place around classic prog rock, and not get uppity.

  106. ScotC said:
    The “Sarasti is menacingly erotic” thing is disturbing, though. Because Peter included not a hint of sexuality into his rendering of Jukka Sarasti. I believe that’s a reasonable assessment of the character, beyond my basic hetero male mindset. There’s just nothing there that should register Sarasti on anyone’s sexual radar. There’s no humanity, no meaningful glances, no sexual presence. There’s nothing erotic there, save for the anticipation and execution of violence, and I want to believe women, even an a young age are not so easily manipulated as to find that attractive for it’s own sake.

    Well, I would refrain from generalizing over all women from a sample of six teenagers and, if memory serves, one (or was it two?) non-teenagers (guess we schrinks aren’t really social scientists after all)

    Methinks that Peter has leaned notably on the classic horror approach of having description of things intended to be fear-inspiring sufficiently vague to leave some things up to reader’s imagination, and in case with some readers the imagination has filled in the blanks with material of somewhat sexual nature (whether that is due to “vampire=sexy” auto-labeling or due to intrinsic attractiveness of smart and menacing anthropophages is somewhat hard to tell 😉 )

    ScotC desperately pleaded with cold, uncaring universe:
    I desperately want to believe there’s more to women than the whole tired “X is a figure of power, therefore he is attractive as a sire and provider for my offspring”, thing. The same way some women find Tony Soprano attractive for the same reasons.

    You know what, some women think that Hannibal Lecter is attractive. Admittedly, as performed by magnificent Anthony Hopkins, but Hannibal Lecter nonetheless.

    Where is your god now? :)

    Peter said:
    I don’t think the blue names have any special editing privileges. Sometimes I wonder if I even do.

    Peter, can you at least kindly enable “blockqotes”?

    A world without blockquotes is too dystopian to bear!

    P.S.:
    Speaking of vampire sexiness, how is that bit of fanart I’ve sent you some time ago doing ?

  107. Jayn:

    “You know what, some women think that Hannibal Lecter is attractive. Admittedly, as performed by magnificent Anthony Hopkins, but Hannibal Lecter nonetheless.”

    I would say there’s far more room in an on screen performance by an actor with no small degree of personal charisma, to find characteristics that one might find attractive to some extent, under different circumstances. Hannibal, after all, is charming in his own fashion. In the case of Jukka, I don’t think these these aspects of the character were present to any significant degree. There was just no magnetism of any sort rendered. He had no measurable sexual presence, no humanity to speak of, and just sort or terrified everyone around him without exception. His physical appearance wasn’t even established as being attractive at all.

    To project some sort of eroticism into Sarasti, I think one could only be responding to his alpha status as a power figure, his potential for violence, or as you say, because he sports the “vampire” tag, irrespective of the actual character. Which seems to mostly come back to the same old basic genetic programming women are wired with for mate selection.

    Undoubtedly, I am lost in my own maleness here, and lack the flexibility to see the workings of the minds of some teenage girls with anything but my usual stance of confusion and borderline terror. I would just like to think that the buttons of some young women were not so easily pressed.

    I mean, it’s not like Sarasti was an attractive, sexually promiscuous, bisexual female, presenting in skin tight leather to show off her enormous breasts and reeking of fertility. Then I would totally get it. (That’s what she said!)

  108. To project some sort of eroticism into Sarasti, I think one could only be responding to his alpha status as a power figure, his potential for violence, or as you say, because he sports the “vampire” tag, irrespective of the actual character. Which seems to mostly come back to the same old basic genetic programming women are wired with for mate selection.

    I’m wondering if I should stay out of the discussion here, but also want to point out that the range of human experience includes males who are attracted to powerful/dominating people.

    (back in the BEM thread some were harshing on evopsyc, but here no? inconsistent)

  109. Can humans visually determine the sex of a blamp or are they so weird that it’s unclear? When reading I thought of Sarasti as almost insectile. or maybe with weird dessicated beef jerky limbs. how would I know what sex he is without him using a masculine pronoun? or maybe he’s not that far off the human body type, and doesn’t have an ill looking body from technology mods and an unnatural diet, and his sex is obvious?

  110. Interesting you should ask that now. I wrote this not two hours past:

    “Brooks passed by on the other side. Parallax served up a moving slice of the room beyond: Jim Moore, a tabletop holo display in standby mode, a handful of Bicamerals murmuring among themselves. A woman: lean and muscled under a mimetic body stocking, bone-pale face beneath a spiky shock of black hair, lower jaw just that wee bit more prognathous than any card-carrying prey might reasonably feel comfortable with. She turned her head as Brooks crept by. Her eyes flashed like a cat’s. She bared her teeth. On anyone else it would have been a smile.

  111. @jayn: oh, how I feel your pain about the blockquotes. They’re supposed to work. The composition interface even has a shortcut button for blockquotes, and the code embeds just fine in the text. But it doesn’t fucking manifest when you post, and I don’t know why. I’ve resorted to one-sided paragraph indents as a poor substitute.

    I’m actually using an obsolete version of WordPress, and it keeps nagging me to update. And I intend to. But then it tells me to back up the whole damn blog before I do that, which not only inspires little confidence but is also a pain, so keep putting it off. Maybe I should just suck it up and go for it. It would be worth it, if blockquotes work in the new release.

  112. Nice little tease there, Peter !

  113. @PW holy fucking shit man! isn’t wordpress the scariest thing ever when you don’t update it?

  114. So let me get this straight. Most of you are using WordPress to enter your comments on Peter’s blog here, and that’s how you get the blue name from a WP account, and it probably has some nice rich text interface to automate all the HTML tags I’ve been typing out manually like a chump?

    I can’t keep up with you kids these days, and all your FaceTwittering hipster ways.

  115. @ScottC: I don’t know about most of everyone else, but I don’t use any special WordPress account to enter comments. The way I can get a linkable blue name is to enter a website in the website field under the name and mail fields. I don’t usually do that since I don’t have any one web presence to link to; here I have borrowed someone else’s very nice page.

  116. Thanks, Sheila! I get confused, as I seem to remember at one point Peter using google blogs or some such, and I have a nice account there that made certain things easier, and gave me an “official” name. I thought maybe everyone else had migrated with Peter’s new choice of blogware.

    I just always naturally assume I’m probably doing something wrong, or in some manner that makes my life twice as hard as everyone else’s. That would be my typical modus operandi.