Monday News: The Hugos, weekly SFF serials, the wisdom of groups, and women’s book clubs
Who Won Science Fiction’s Hugo Awards, and Why It Matters – The Hugos are over and the Puppies did not take one award. This article from Wired does a great job of explaining the backstory of the Sad and Rabid Puppies campaign (I absolutely believe they are functionally one campaign, and will refer to them that way), and it does a particularly good job of demonstrating that despite the Puppies’ insistence that they wanted to de-politicize the awards, their language is — incessantly and overtly – political when discussing the Hugos. It reminds me of a tweet I saw from a Puppy supporter who referred to the campaign as about ‘books with another opinion.’ Except that books don’t have an “opinion,” so was it really about what books should be winning or who should be winning. Annie Bellet, who turned down her very first Hugo nomination because she was nominated as part of the Puppy slate, explains the layers of irony well:
Blonde-haired, fair-skinned, and “covered in tattoos,” Bellet is from Portland, Oregon. “I’m adopted, and I have a sister who is black, a sister who’s Vietnamese. My mom is a lesbian. I grew up in a liberal, inclusive environment. Still, I broke a lot of noses [after hearing] the N-word growing up, trying to defend my little sister. So I do not understand this white persecution narrative.”
Bellet said she thinks Beale “rode” Correia and Torgersen “like ponies. I told Brad that. He said, ‘Just because we’re on the freeway in different cars heading the same direction doesn’t mean we’re together.’ I said, ‘Dude, you’re in the same car, and Vox Day is driving.’ He doesn’t get it. It makes me so sad.”
What’s more, for the record, she doesn’t think Beale, who folded much of the Sad Puppies slate into his own, even read her story. “I’m everything Vox Day doesn’t like—which I consider a badge of honor,” she told me. “I’m a queer female writing about shape-shifters—that fantasy ‘crap’ that’s not ‘real’ science fiction.” Here’s the thing she thinks Beale doesn’t grasp, she said: “Nerd culture brings everybody together. People don’t care what you look like. If you want to be a black Khaleesi, go for it!” –Wired
Meet Serial Box, a New Publisher Serving Up Written Stories Like They Were Television Episodes -Speaking of SFF, here’s a new gimmick for you – I mean “concept:” Serial Box, which seems pretty much like a book packaging business aimed at replicating the weekly television episode but in book form. Its first series, Bookburners, is described as “urban fantasy adventure following a black-ops anti-magic squad backed by the Vatican.” So Dan Brown meets Harry Potter? And at what point will these attempts to simulate other entertainment experiences actually become other entertainment experiences?
Serial Box aims to bring book lovers everything they like about television:
New episodes each week
Series are produced by a team of writers collaborating to create the most exciting, dynamic stories
Episodes are easily ingestible with a 40-minute average read-time
Each episode is an exciting adventure but together they build into a complete narrative-just like your favorite shows –SF Signal
Groups of People Spot Lies More Often Than Individuals Do – When I ran across this summary in Scientific American of a recent study suggesting that groups have a better chance at identifying a liar than individuals, I thought it might have applicability for group discussions about books, too – particularly that groups of people have a better chance of gaining insight into texts when they have the opportunity to exchange ideas, listen to different views, and learn new things. The study itself is interesting, because researchers found that if an individual made up his or her mind before entering the group, the group’s effectiveness is diminished, but that people entering a group with an open mind do a better job collectively at identifying the person not telling the truth. The implications for juries are obvious, but there are also many questions that are not answered in the research. I am quoting from the actual study below:
This group advantage in lie detection did not come through the statistical aggregation of individual opinions as often shown in existing research (a wisdom-of-crowds effect), but instead through the process of group discussion. Groups were not simply maximizing the small amounts of accuracy contained among individual members but were instead creating a unique type of accuracy altogether. To see the magnitude of this accuracy gain, we identified the most accurate individuals in experiments 1–3 from each session of three participants in the individual condition. Real groups did not perform significantly worse than the best individual in experiments 1–3 (ts < 1.46; Tables 1–3, bottom rows). Of course, these “best individuals” are identified post hoc, benefitting from actual skill but also chance accuracy, therefore providing the highest accuracy rates one could hope to observe. Real groups performed well even against this extremely high bar. Researchers have made a concerted effort to improve individual lie detection, but have not pursued how much individuals could help each other in detecting lies.
Our research therefore leaves many open research questions. What about group discussion, exactly, increases accuracy, particularly in detecting lies compared with individuals? Could group discussion be guided to improve accuracy rates even further? Do larger groups perform even better than smaller groups? Do trained individuals perform even better in a group than untrained individuals? Given the concerted efforts put into training individuals to detect lies more accurately, the productive path for further studying the effectiveness of group lie detection is clear.–Scientific American and PNAS
American women use book club memberships in dating field -It’s really too bad that the stories on this research from the University of Kansas is being promoted on the basis of the dating issue – specifically that in comparing women’s book clubs in Colorado and Ireland, American women tended to use “their status as readers and book club members to increase their popularity in the dating field” – whatever that means. But I think the most interesting potential implications are really in this bit about how women actually think and talk about books in their clubs, and don’t just blindly absorb what they read – imagine that!
She attended 36 book club meeting and interviewed 53 women from ages 19 to 80 as part of the project. Separate from the finding about how women view book clubs and the role of romantic relationships, both American and Irish women utilized reading to develop a sense of self, to foster social and cultural capital and to construct their own sexual identities.
“Conversations at book club meetings served to reinforce women’s sense of self as well as provided a place for women to negotiate their sexuality, particularly through conversations about what kinds of women were being portrayed in books read by the group,” Craig said. –EurekAlert!