Irene Gallo, Unrepentant Bigot

8 Jun

(There is an update at the bottom of the post.)

Bigot n. A person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.

Irene Gallo, the Creative Director for Tor Books, is a bigot.

This is not hyperbole. Over the weekend, on a Facebook post promoting an upcoming book from Tor, she posted the following:

There are two extreme right-wing to neo-nazi groups, called the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies respectively, that are calling for the end of social justice in science fiction and fantasy. They are unrepentantly racist, misogynist, and homophobic. A noisy few but they’ve been able to gather some Gamergate folks around them and elect a slate of bad-to-reprehensible works on this year’s Hugo ballot.

source, alternate source, in case of memory-holing

As somebody pointed out (I’m afraid I’ve lost track of who it was), there is exactly this much truth in her statement: there are, indeed, two groups, called the Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies. Everything else is a lie.

The statement set off quite a firestorm across social media and the blogosphere.

There were several reasons it set people off, not least of which is that it tarred at least two of Tor’s own authors, John C. Wright and Kevin Anderson.

Many of us have been waiting to see what Tor would do, as an institution. Especially in light of the fact that this bigotry was unleashed in direct relation to promoting an upcoming book from Tor. Patience was counselled by many, since this past weekend was the weekend that the Nebula Awards were announced, meaning that the adults at Tor were all likely to be busy with convention activities and festivities.

Well, the weekend is over, and two things have happened.

First, Tor’s Facebook page has taken the official position of “not our problem, dude”:

Happy Monday! We appreciate your comments & would like to remind you that the views of our employees do not reflect those of the publisher.


Also, somebody seems to have advised the redoubtable Ms. Gallo that her spewing of hatred was perhaps a bit unwise, especially since some of it splashed onto the people who actually produce the product that her employer sells, and therefore upon whom her livelihood depends.

So she apologized. For how other people took what she said, of course, not for the content of her statement:

About my Sad/Rabid Puppies comments: They were solely mine. This is my personal page; I do not speak on behalf of Tor Books or I realize I painted too broad a brush and hurt some individuals, some of whom are published by Tor Books and some of whom are Hugo Award winners. I apologize to anyone hurt by my comments.


This, as I pointed out in the reply pictured, is not an apology.

It is a passive-aggressive insult: “I’m sorry you’re so stupid that your feelings were hurt when you didn’t understand what I was really saying,” more or less.

She does not apologize for impugning the characters of a very large number of people. She does not apologize for impugning authors who work for her employer, in particular. She does not apologize for her immaturity in prancing about demonstrating that she’s not part of a tribe she hates. She does not apologize for her bigotry in any way, shape, or form.

She only apologizes for the feelings of people who might have been hurt by what she said.

What she said, then, must still stand.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the very essence of the non-apology apology. She said the words “I apologize”, but in a form that makes it clear that she is not at all sorry, and she damn well wants everyone to know she’s not.

And Tor Books, so far, seems perfectly willing to accept this smearing of its authors, its colleagues, and its reading customers.

Tor used to be a good company. They used to publish an ideologically wide range of authors. They used to treat their readers and their authors with respect.

Also, they used to get no small amount of my book-buying money.

But not anymore.

UPDATE: Tor’s publisher, Tom Doherty, has made a post on the matter. In part:

Tor employees, including Ms. Gallo, have been reminded that they are required to clarify when they are speaking for Tor and when they are speaking for themselves. We apologize for any confusion Ms. Gallo’s comments may have caused. Let me reiterate: the views expressed by Ms. Gallo are not those of Tor as an organization and are not my own views. Rest assured, Tor remains committed to bringing readers the finest in science fiction – on a broad range of topics, from a broad range of authors.

This is good, and Tor’s now-official stance that the Sad Puppies are simply organized fans is also good.

However, I do not deem it enough.

First, Ms. Gallo did not apologize for her bigoted remarks, she did the passive-aggressive non-apology for anyone whose feelings might have been hurt. Her remarks and her bigotry are unacceptable, and letting her off with an “I’m sorry you didn’t like what I said” doesn’t cut it.

And secondly, while she has since made clear that her views do not reflect Tor’s, she expressed them while promoting a Tor book. That reflects on the company, no matter how much it is now disavowed.

I am, in short, unmoved in my decision to give Tor no more of my money.

#Writing #Music Monday: Trilhas Sonoras Para Filmes Vol. II

8 Jun

[cover] Emerson Antoniacomi - Trilhas Sonoras Para Filmes Vol. IIHere’s what I know about Emerson Antoniacomi: He’s Brazilian; he’s a talented composer and performer; and he released ten (ten!) freaking albums of Free Culture-licensed music from September to November 2010.

And that’s about it. Searching his name on DuckDuckGo, everything else seems to derive from his Jamendo page or his Jamendo blog, which hasn’t been active since 2011.

So we must focus on the album at hand. Trilhas Sonoras Para Filmes Vol. II (“Soundtracks for Films vol. II”) starts off with a two-part symphony (all synthesizer) that feels audacious, in some way I can’t quantify. This isn’t just a musician knocking out some generic background music, it’s more complete and layered than that.

The rest of the album could be taken as “just background music”, but it also manages to be more complex than you would expect.

If there is a drawback, it is that Antoniacomo seems not to be a sound geek, and lets his synth instruments sound… cheap, or possibly cheesy, I’m not sure quite how to describe it. There are moments that sound like bad soundtrack instrumentation for one of Roger Corman’s late-’80s straight to video production, attempting poorly to sound like a real instrument, instead of embracing its own sound. It’s only occasional, and the quality of the compositions overcomes the possible awkwardness, but it is there from time to time.

Download Trilhas Sonoras Para Filmes Vol. II free from Jamendo.

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Trilhas Sonoras Para Filmes Vol. II by Emerson Antoniacomi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

#Writing #Music Monday: Kumaneko E.P. by Kumaneko

1 Jun

[cover] Kumaneko - Kumaneko E.PThere is zero information I can find about this artist or group. I presume, from their name and the style of most of their music that they are Japanese.

Due to one thing and another, I haven’t been posting albums in the order I originally planned, so, a word of warning: This is one of the “outside my comfort zone” albums I referenced back in March. It will not be to everybody’s taste.

But Kumaneko E.P. is, nevertheless, absolutely wonderful writing background music, if you are in the proper mood for it. (Yes, that is rather a big “if”, I realize.)

There is music on the album, but if you’re listening for melody, you’ll quickly tire of the repetition. What you really need to listen for are the rhythms. And, in a very Japanese way, for the silences between the beats. If you go in prepared for that, you should be open to what this album offers.

It’s a bit out there, and unusual, but I’ve found it really works as background for me.

Download Kumaneko E.P. free from Jamendo.

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Kumaneko E.P. by Kumaneko is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

#Writing #Music Monday: Urtzi Azkue by Urtzi Azkue

18 May

CoverBring the funk and make it upbeat.

I’m afraid I don’t have a lot to say about this. I know nothing about Urtzi Azkue outside of this album. But this album? It is the best kind of funk. It’s hard not to butt-dance in my chair when it plays.

It’s got that ’70s sound that I so often loathe, but it makes it work, and makes it optimistic and fun, rather than aggressive and negative, as I personally find so much funk to be.

If you like funk, you must give it a try. If you don’t like funk, you should still give it a try. That’s how good it is.

Download Urtzi Azkue free from Jamendo.

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Urtzi Azkue by Urtzi Azkue is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.

#Writing #Music Monday: Songs From The Lake Air by Bert Jerred

27 Apr

CoverFourteen solid tracks of bluesy, vaguely-’80s-sounding goodness, and lyrics are all on the individual song pages, free to quote under a straight attribution license. What more could you possibly ask for?

Bert Jerred appears to be dedicated to increasing the volume of Free Culture music. He has three albums (at least), split betwen this one on Jamendo, and two others on Bandcamp, and they are all CC BY licensed. Which makes Jerred a mensch, in my book.

It does not hurt that he has chops, and that his music is very, very good.

Shake down the chambers of my skull, maybe;
soaked to my bones, the pain is dull, baby.
I see your Wall Street, and I raise you ninety-nine.

Don’t touch my children or I’ll get you, baby.
Touch my religion and I’ll hit you, maybe.
It’s Dharmapala on the phone and your freedom on the line:

So you say, “I don’t need a name;
I don’t need a name.”

So you say, “I don’t need a name;
I don’t need a name.”

That’s from his song “Anonymous“, the second track on this fourteen-track album.

Download, listen, and use the lyrics for inspiration in your next book.

Download Songs from the Lake Air by Bert Jerred free from Jamendo.

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Songs From The Lake Air by Bert Jerred is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

#Writing #Music Monday: Adventures by madelyniris

20 Apr

Adventures CoverYou’re writing a Young Adult book, and need lyrics to a song that’s at least a little bit like Lorde or some singer or artist who sounds contemporary.

Meet madelyniris. You’re welcome.

It’s entirely professional, to my ear it sounds exactly of a piece with today’s pop music.

And this might mark the change of everything. Why? Because it was:

Recorded in the closets of sorority houses and wintered piano rooms at a midwestern university with a broken macbook…

I’ve heard professional-sounding amateur recordings for years, in the Creative Commons and elsewhere. But usually, there’s some element that’s off, a little or a lot, purposely or due to lack of experience by the artist. There is nothing off here. At all. Everything it aims for, it hits, and each hit is a bullseye.

You can do that, now, in closets, with a broken laptop. Now the only thing the recording industry has as an advantage is marketing.

So you’ve got five completely legitimate contemporary pop songs under a straight Attribution license. Quote away, give the artist attribution, and you’re set.

Download Adventures free from Jamendo.

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Adventures by madelyniris is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

97. The Master of Ballantrae by Robert Louis Stevenson, 1889

16 Apr

coverI posted a bit of a whine earlier about the difficulties I have reading Robert Louis Stevenson, but a funny thing happened after that.

The point of view shifted for a chapter, and that chapter was not only easier, it was a quick and entertaining read. Then things shifted back to the main(-ish?) narrator and, while not as smooth, the reading was certainly not as rough as before.

A few other things made the early bits slow going, apart from my apparent antipathy to the way RLS kicked stories off.

First, the title. I am unused to Victorian-era novels, and earlier, taking their titles from the villain. Generally speaking, if the title is after a character, it’s the protagonist, but that’s not the case here.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The Master of Ballantrae is Robert Louis Stevenson’s take on the sturdy old story-frame of the evil son versus the good son. And for all its many faults — many, many, many faults — it achieves its main goal exceptionally well. It is a remarkable portrait of how a sociopath operates.

The story begins with an unnecessarily distancing device, in which Stevenson narrates how he came into possession of the manuscript of the novel, which he presents as “real”. Then the story proper begins, and again distances the reader, for it is narrated by MacKellar, a supporting character in the narrative, inserted into the story at various points, sometimes well and sometimes awkwardly. As it begins, MacKellar makes his return journey to a fictional Scottish town, Durrisdeer, to return to service of the family Durrisdeer.

And here I pause to lay out another failing of Stevenson’s. While some of the characters are well-drawn, few of them cohere into full characters in the mind, to the point where names did not stick with me. Part of the fault is RLS’s insistence on rotating through all possible titles for each character, without explaining clearly the significance of each title. One is Just Supposed To Know, it seems.

And seriously, it gets confusing when “the master” and “my master” are two different people, and “the lord” and “my lord” are also two different individuals.

So I’m writing the first pass of this review with only the info I can recall, not referring back to the book.

The Durrisdeers as we meet them are a titled family basically in charge of the land around Durrisdeer. But the family is on hard times, having sold off much land just to service debts. There is the father, two sons, and an adopted daughter who is heir to both wealth and land, and is intended to marry the elder son.

The elder son, John I think, will become the titular Master of Ballantrae, and that title is never explained in a way that made sense to me. It functions as a title among “his” people, as a note that he is beloved even though he did not inherit the Lord Durrisdeer title. The Master of Ballantrae is a villain, known to be deceitful, manipulative, and a shirker of all responsibility. But he is also completely charismatic, and is his father’s favorite, though the father knows his faults, and beloved of all the people of Durrisdeer.

The younger son is… Henry? I think? He is the good son, but difficult to love because he is not outgoing, prone to depression, and not flashy and exciting in the way his elder brother is. He also knows full well that his brother is a monster, and is one of the few immune to the man’s charisma.

The not-quite-adopted daughter is, of course, entirely in love with Evil Son, and cares little for Good son.

When the Second Jacobite Rebellion is in the offing, Lord Durrisdeer decides that one of his sons will fight with it, and the other will support the Stuarts, so that whichever side wins, the family will retain their title and lands. The sons clash over who is to take the more dangerous role of fighting with Bonny Prince Charlie, with Evil son getting the honor, and Good son being despised by his tennants as a coward for not choosing to do so. (Of course, he is no such thing, but his brother puts it around because it suits him to have the story known that way.)

The rebellion doesn’t go off, and to follow Evil son’s exploits, we get narration from an Irish Rascal whom he fought alongside, and adventured with afterwards.

This is where the story picked up for me, because the Irish Rascal was a far more engaging narrator for me, and because it is during this section that I finally twigged to Evil son being unremittingly evil, a full sociopath. He flat-out murders someone who is, at worst, a slight inconvenience to him, and he does it simply because he knows he’ll get away with it.

The bulk of the story depicts how Boring Good copes with the continuing returns and retreats and regroupings of Charming Evil, until it gets to the ending, which is a wet firecracker of non-confrontation and Plot Convenience, unfortunately.

But the strength of the book, depicting the machinations of how Charming Evil works (often narrating it rather than dramatizing, but doing it so potently that it feels utterly real), is a genuine and compelling strength. Before “sociopath” was a word, Stevenson depicted exactly how such personalities operate, how they cannot even conceive of higher abstractions like honor and integrity, how they work social interrelationships to become puppet masters of a sort, getting each individual to act in a way the sociopath deems beneficial — and importantly, how such manipulations are in fact self-defeating, and destructive to everyone around them.

Was it worth reading? Surprisingly, yes. Is it an underrated classic? Not really.

I read the FeedBooks copy which was filled with typos and lazy typography (using all caps instead of italicizing, e.g.). So I’m linking the Gutenberg edition, which was probably the source for Feedbooks, but likely to have been cleaned up in the meantime.

Download The Master of Ballantrae from Project Gutenberg for free.

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This review of The Master of Ballantrae by D. Jason Fleming is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


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