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Category: Science Fiction

Science Fiction is a Magical Unicorn Genre that Contains No Works

After several years of listening to self-professed science fiction fans and experts talk about what is and isn’t a part of the genre, I have come to an important conclusion. It turns out that even though I have read and written science fiction my entire life, none of what I have consumed is actually science fiction. Here are many of the reasons why:


It’s just a story about science/doing science

That science is impossible, therefore it’s fantasy.

The science is too realistic, therefore it’s not science fiction.

Any fantasy elements whatsoever exist in the story, therefore it is 100% fantasy, regardless of any SFnal elements.

If you removed the science fiction elements, it would be the same story!

It reifies the status quo!

It’s not progressive!

It’s too progressive!


Someone put a different marketing category on it.

The author is well known in a different genre.

The author outsells my friends.

The story has elements of another genre, therefore it’s just a ____ story in space/after the apocalypse / in the future / with aliens.

The author is a woman and therefore it’s just a ____ story in space.

The author is a person of color, and therefore it’s just a ____ story in space.

The author is non-binary, but I don’t understand what that even means, and have considered them to be a woman, and therefore the story must be a romance or something set in space.

I think there were metaphors in it, so it was probably not science fiction.

The author works at a university and has an MFA, so it’s literary fiction.

It provides commentary on the present, rather than pretending to predict the future.

It’s not set in the future.

It’s not set far enough in the future.

It’s set too far into the future.

I don’t like the subgenre, so it’s not really science fiction.


With a little bit of thought, and a minimal amount of effort, I’m sure that you will realize that all your favorite, cherished science fiction novels are actually fantasy… or something else entirely. In any case, we should clearly realize that science fiction is, in itself, a myth. There is nothing contained within the genre. The set of Definitely Science Fiction Works is an empty set, and we can all go home now.

The “Insert Here” Awards, and Trying to Keep SF/F Perpetually 12 Years Old

So… the “Tron Guy” wrote a ridiculous post on the Black Gate website proposing a new award for SF&F because there aren’t any awards that he, personally approves of. While I don’t really have a problem with the perpetual twelve-year-olds of the genre building their own 501(c)(3) NO GURLS, QWEERS, OR POCS ALOWED!!!1 treehouse, (frankly, they can do as they want) my snark didn’t really fit within the confines of Twitter, so.

Tron Guy wants the “Insert Here” award for SF&F Storytelling. As opposed to… literally every other award in SF&F, which somehow manage to not be about storytelling, apparently.

“… it’s a way to ensure that at least one set of awards for SF/F represent what it’s truly about: the story above all else.”

Which means… what, exactly?

From comments by tron guy himself:

The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere and Ancillary Justice. The former is a standard coming-out story with a bit of fantasy bolted on the side, and the latter, while it may be military space opera, wouldn’t have had the acclaim it did if it hadn’t been for the gimmickry used to drive home the SJW-approved message about gender.”

No messages about gender, OH NO. Is Tron Guy too hypocritical to realize that all fiction has a message to it, even if he agrees with it sometimes? Or is his reading comprehension too low to notice said messages? It is a mystery.

“See, for example, the protagonist in Lock In, whose gender is left unspecified throughout the entire book. Scalzi’s been praised for doing so, but to me, it leaves me unable to form a mental image of the character, and I have a much harder time reading a work if I can’t picture the characters involved.”

Nothing that requires effort to read! NO! NO! NOOOO!

File:Darth vader no.gif

Ok, ok, so the problem with awards in the genre, such as the Hugos, is presumably two-fold, by Tron Guy’s reckoning:

  1. Because he disagrees with the winners of said awards, they Do Not Represent TRUE fandom.
  2. It is full of icky SJW-approved messages, and has been infiltrated by the PC police, who won’t let Just Plain Stories win awards.

Fixing the problem of the Hugos not being accessible to enough eligible voters, well, that’s admirable, right? I mean, the fact that you have to pay to be a member of Worldcon to vote is usually a barrier to some people, if only as a contribution to general “meh” over having a say, unless the Hugos are in the process of being hijacked by some racist fucknuggets.

So, obviously, Tron Guy announced how he’ll make the Insert Here award more open, right? Perhaps, no cost to vote? Actively reaching out to groups of fans who don’t typically vote in major genre awards to see what they liked this year?

Let’s see:

To become an eligible voter for the (insert name here) Awards, a person must be vouched for by one or more existing eligible voters.

But… wouldn’t that… limit the number of fans able to vote?

This is defined as having a trust level of 1 or greater. When first registering to vote, a person’s trust level is 0.

So if you decide to vote, you first have to prove yourself, or what? How does one do that? Are you given secret award secrets to test if you leak them to the Evil SJWs?

An existing eligible voter whose trust level is 3 or greater may raise or lower the trust level of up to three other people by 1 each, and this number rises by 1 with each additional trust level until a maximum of a trust level of 10 is reached.

Are we voting for an award here, or designing a tabletop game?

The undersigned, as well as prior recipients of a (insert name here) Award and current and past members of the Foundation Board of Directors and Judging Committee, may raise or lower the trust level of any person by 1. A voter may not raise the trust level of anyone who raised his own, nor of anyone in the chain of trust leading back to those holding unlimited trusting privileges.

Ok, but what happens if someone registers to vote and none of your friends knows that person personally? Do you just reject them out of hand? Does that mean that they’re not actually a science fiction and/or fantasy fan? Yeah, I’m being facetious. Obviously this award to make sure that all of fandom gets a voice and that true fandom can vote on awards untainted by SJWs intends to limit the voting membership to Tron Guy’s friends. Which, more power to you, but why do you think anyone is stupid enough to believe your stated reasons for the award?

I’d respect the NO GURLS ALOWED clubhouse shit-show more (not a lot more, but more) if Tron Guy were just honest about wanting to be in charge of the genre and what is Considered Good SF Storytelling.

All registration and trust level processing shall be done automatically by the (insert name here) Award website. All records of trust levels being raised or lowered shall be retained for a period to be determined by the Foundation Board of Directors; this period is intended to be limited only by practical methods of data storage.

This last bit is quoted just because of my own personal LOL. Keeping a record of who vouched for who to make sure that NOT ONE SINGLE voter is improperly allowed to vote, and, presumably, to make sure that if someone turns out to be an SJW, the people who vouched them can be reprimanded for their lapse in judgement sounds like a lovely breeding ground for future hilarious drama.

So, he’s going to “give all of fandom a means of influencing an award that represents them” by starting an award that can only be voted on by people that he and his friends “trust”. Sounds legit.


What about his second concern, that SJW disapproval is ruining science fiction for the rest of us?

Obviously, in order to make sure that the award isn’t hijacked by political grudge matches, and the like, and that political correctness won’t ruin the awards, it’s important to make sure that worthy, interesting, GREAT STORIES aren’t excluded. Therefore, obviously no work should be excluded for politics, right? Clearly the voice of the voters should be tantamount, and whatever they say, goes. After all, these are voters with “trust levels” who need to have their very own award that isn’t tainted by politics.

The nominees are then considered by the Judging Committee. The judges shall evaluate each work solely by its storytelling. The judges may disqualify any work they find to have an emphasis on other than telling a good SF/F story.



It’s hilarious, because this award proposal is abysmally stupid, and so very obviously full of shit. It’s not-so-hilarious, because I think Tron Guy believes the shit he’s shoveling, and truly does believe that  a story about gender neutral/gender unmentioned/queer/POC/women can’t possibly be Good Storytelling. That’s depressing because it’s just same-shit-different-day.

That said, Maynard can continue to gleefully tootle the Tron theme on his dog whistle if he wants while I go back to writing filthy “SJW-approved” fiction, like the 8,000 word NOVELETTE I currently have in Uncanny issue 6 (available if you buy the issue now, and free in October), or the flash I’ve got in Fireside Magazine.


Best Novella – Written SF/F stories between 5,000 and 50,000 words in length.
Best Short Story – Written SF/F stories 5,000 words in length or shorter.

Giving yet another god damned word-range to what counts as novella is not going to minimize voter confusion, for the love of Jesus H. Tiptree.


PPS: I’m now a grad student and will not complain if you throw money at:

Just saying.

GlitterShip open(ish) for submissions:

What’s all this then!?

I’m starting an audio fic/interview podcast focusing on reprints of queer/lgbtqi-etc fic. Authors do not need to identify as queer to submit their reprints, though queer authors, authors of color, and authors of other marginalized identities, are specifically encouraged to submit.

I’m opening right now to get a few stories to start with, and once it’s running, I will probably (sorry, but I’m broke) do a small crowdfunding campaign to cover a year or so of fiction.

I don’t know how long I will stay open, but either until Nov 30th or I get enough stories I love, whichever happens last. Then subs will close while things get rolling. (And then reopen.)

I want to have a few episodes up before asking anyone for money because I want to show what the ‘cast will be like.

Pay: 1c/word*

Rights: Non-exclusive English language audio & non-exclusive English electronic reprint rights.

Wordcount: 100 – 5000 words

Genre: Science fiction, fantasy, horror, interstitial, speculative, whatever. It’s an SF/F mag, but if in doubt, send it.

Attach stories in standard manuscript format .rtf/.doc/.docx format and send to audiosubs at keffy dot com. Please note in your coverletter if you are interested in being interviewed and if you have a book or something coming out.


But what about previously unpublished stories?

At this point I do not believe that I will have the funding to pay a fair or reasonable price for original fiction. I also admit that this is something of a way to limit the scope of the project while I am getting started. If you have original queer speculative fiction, I STRONGLY recommend that you send it to the Lightspeed Magazine Queers Destroy SF special issue, or Vitality Mag. Or any of the science fiction and fantasy magazines listed on The Submissions Grinder.

*If the crowdfunding does well enough that I am able to pay more, authors in the first few episodes will be paid the difference in pay rates.

I’ve been translated!


“The Ghost of a Girl Who Never Lived” has now appeared in French and “HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY!!!” is in Polish. 🙂

Anyway, by the time you see this, I’ll be on my way to ICFA, so if you’re also going to be in Orlando, I’ll see you there! Otherwise… well, I probably won’t. Unless you are super good at astral projection or something.

HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY!!! (no, seriously)

Well, kind of.

FIRST, another one: HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY!!! is out in Lightspeed Magazine and you can read it with your eyeballs.

SECOND, that story is ALSO going to be reprinted in an anthology. Which is why I’m plugging another Kickstarter. I KNOW. I KNOW, okay. I KNOW.

HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY!!! and Other Improbable Kickstarters.

I hope you like the story, aaaaand I hope that the Kickstarter funds gloriously so all those awesome people listed on the page for it get paid. Also, so that then I can read the ALL the stuff.

But now I think I’m going to go back to bed, because this is all so very meta.

Enjoy the story!

My WORLDCON (Lonestarcon 3) Schedule

This year I will be on Worldcon programming for the first time. I have one panel and a reading. I’m admittedly a bit concerned about the reading, just because, well, it’s early. Clearly this means that I’ll just have to party extra hard on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, so that I pass out earlier than usual on Sunday night and wake up early.

… yes that is exactly what will happen, Keffy.

Note to self: you might want to actually make sure you have somewhere to stay on Sunday night, or things could get sort of… interesting.

THE GOOD NEWS about Texas is that the heat means it’ll take less booze to get buzzed than usual. Yaaaay. THE BAD NEWS is oh my god it’s over 100 degrees there I will die, oh em eff. gee. (Though on a serious note, I’m already assessing whether or not I’ll be more comfortable binding and passing, or not binding and not passing at all and feeling super awkward as people who’ve only ever seen me at cons suddenly go BUT I THOUGHT YOU WERE A DUDE and I have to be like “yeeeeeeaaah, well, I am, but…”)

My Dragon Torched the Prince and other Plot Problems
Friday 19:00 – 20:00
How to survive after discovering you’ve painted (written) yourself into a corner….
Stina Leicht (M), Keffy Kehrli, Mary Robinette Kowal, Thomas Olde Heuvelt, Moshe Feder.

Writers Workshop L
Saturday 14:00 – 16:30

I am critiquing some people! With another person! All these people are anonymous and mysterious! (To you.) I’m only putting this here so that if for some reason you are looking for me at 2pm on Saturday, you will know that I AM UNAVAILABLE. I will be busy pretending to know how to improve fiction.

Reading: Keffy Kehrli
Monday 10:00 – 10:30
Keffy Kehrli

That’s right! I am reading at my own reading! DO NOT BE ALARMED.

Other than this, if there is a bar, I will find it. Unless it is a beer-only bar, in which case screw that noise. I will hopefully hit parties gleefully, and find wonderful people to hang out with. If you’re going to be at Worldcon, say hi! Or something. A good way to get in touch with me during the convention is via twitter — I might not see stuff that’s on my stream, but I will see at-replies and PMs.

I’m really hoping to make it to the Drinks with Authors party:

Because, hey! I like drinks. And authors. Hopefully that bar is really close to the con.

I’m also hoping to go to the Helsinki Worldcon bid party, though I don’t know when/where it is yet. I have ALREADY put in my vote for them to get it in 2015, and I really hope they do. Even if they don’t, however, I think I’m going to try to get to Finland in 2015 anyway, because I miss it. (That’ll be aaaalmost ten years since I moved there to study for an academic year, and I miss it.) Maybe a Finncon or something?

I will ALSO also probably be showing up at the SFWA stuff when I’m able, occasionally. I’ve decided to renew my membership for another year, assuming I have any money left over after this Worldcon trip. (Ahahaa… ha…)

That said, I’m… really not sure why Lonestarcon has decided it’s appropriate to screen Song of the South. I mean, really? Really?

The Ghost of a Girl Who Never Lived has a cast!

A while back, I sold film rights to Waterloo Productions for one of my short stories.

It was pretty exciting to see this morning that they’ve posted a cast announcement! Hooray! I don’t know very much about all the stuff that goes on around films getting made, so it’s cool to see the occasional updates when something happens regarding the project.

Kickstarterrrrred out

I’m kinda KickStartered out right now.

Before anyone gets all upset that it’s somehow their Kickstarter, specifically, that I’m being pissy about, it’s not. It’s the cumulative effect of my feed being all Kickstarter all the time, every day. I used to feel relieved on the days when various fundraising efforts finally finished because I was looking forward to the constant “fund! FUND! fund! FUND!!!HEY @WHOEVER RETWEET US FUNDFUNDFundfundfund” to end. I don’t really get that relief though, because there’s always a new one starting up for something else.

And they’re successful, so whatever, people like them.

And some of them are interesting projects that nobody (including the presses behind them, I guess) has the funds to just do without the kickstart.

And I’ve funded several of them, based on how much I’ve got sitting around, and whether or not I really want the anthology/whatever.

And I’ve submitted to… one? Maybe two, after the fact, because I happened to have a story that I thought fit. (I was wrong! But such is life. 🙂 )


Right now, KS is feeding the same exhaustion that I feel when magazines have desperate fund drives, or the publishers of anthology series vent that they get more submissions than sales. This exhausts me because the result seems to be: find ways to convince authors to fund your press/whatever.

Lately I hear people lauding Kickstarter as the salvation of short fiction, or whatever. I guess? But it feels like a better way to convince writers to pay for magazines/anthologies/projects in hopes that they’ll be able to submit to them than anything else.

I guess I just feel like the atmosphere around short fiction is basically, “Nobody cares but you, so fund it!”

No, this isn’t some grand pronouncement of RAEG!!1 No, I don’t expect anyone to stop. I’m just overly sensitive to sales pressure of this type so it’s getting to me.

My kingdom for a week without Kickstarter.

My Norwescon 36 (2013) Schedule

I’ll be at Norwescon next month, sitting on a lot of panels and pretending that I have good advice and hopefully not boring anyone to tears. I don’t think this is a completely final schedule, so it’s possible some things might change (time, location, other panelists, etc.) But this should give you an idea of what I’ll be up to.


4 pm Surviving the Slush Pile
If the editor doesn’t read past the first page, it doesn’t matter how good the rest is. How to quickly capture and hold a slush reader’s attention.
Cat Rambo, Gardner Dozois, Jenna M. Pitman, Keffy R.M. Kehrli
[Cat pictures in your cover letter. Works every time.]


2 pm Crossing Boundaries: Writing the Other
Can you write a great character of another gender? From a different culture? A different sexual orientation? How do you know what’s good characterization and what’s stereotyping?
Caren Gussoff, Dennis R. Upkins, J.M. Sidorova, Keffy R.M. Kehrli, Sheye Anne Blaze

7 pm SF & Fantasy Themes in Metal Music
Do you fondly remember the first time you heard Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” or Blue Oyster Cult’s “Godzilla”? Do you love GWAR just because they claim to be from outer space? Have you mocked black metal bands for their misuse of Orcish? If so, join us for a discussion of the use of science fiction and fantasy themes within the metal genre. Whether your interest in metal is recent or long-lived, occasional or die-hard, there’s something for every lover of the fantastic and loud!
Lilith von Fraumench, David J. Peterson, John (J.A.) Pitts, Keffy R.M. Kehrli
[\m/ \m/]

10 pm Future Management
Science fiction has its ideological roots in technocracy and the belief that you could manage a better society. But lately, SF seems to have lost much of this feeling, giving us darker and darker futures. Is hope still a feasible story-line, or is it a non-starter in SF? Are we doomed to dystopian futures in SF, or is it just a phase? And if it is, how can we get back on our traditional track (and do we even want to?)
Stina Leicht, Gregory A. Wilson, Keffy R.M. Kehrli
[Are current SF futures actually darker than those of the past? Much of what was proposed in “Golden Age” SF sounds like a dystopia to me, so iunno.]


Noon My reading!

4 pm Short Stories — At the Cutting Edge of Science Fiction
Novels may get more attention, but short fiction has many advantages, and much of the best fiction, both inside and outside of the genre has been short. Join us as we look at some of the best short fiction of recent years and how the Internet has revitalized the market for short fiction.
Leslie Howle, Gardner Dozois, Jude-Marie Green, Keffy R.M. Kehrli
[I hope this doesn’t turn into a panel where the audience just shouts short story titles for 20 minutes straight because snrrrrrrr.]


Noon Being a Good Ally
You may be a straight, white, able-bodied person who means well, but somehow you just seem to keep putting your foot in it while trying to be supportive. What does it mean to be a good ally to groups you don’t actually belong to? What can you do to help without silencing others or co-opting their message?
Sheye Anne Blaze, Gwen Yeh, Jennifer McCreight, Keffy R.M. Kehrli, Ro Yoon

2 pm Queer Voices in SF/F
Science fiction and fantasy authors often use the fringes of mainstream culture as plot material. How do authors portray gender and sexuality in their works, and how realistic are the works of those who write outside their own identities? Are the tales of early authors who played with gender still relevant? And have these worlds of SF&F changed the attitudes of fandom and made those in the QUILTBAG community feel welcome?
Amber Clark, Gregory Gadow, Gwen Yeh, Keffy R.M. Kehrli
[I would just like to go on the record here as saying that I hate the word “quiltbag.” Not that others can’t/shouldn’t use it, but I don’t.]


I also switched my blog theme because I was tired of the old one (didn’t like the contrast levels on the posts) but didn’t have time to pretend I know CSS and screw around with it today. I’ll probably start hating this theme tomorrow, or something.

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