An Unexpected Honor
November 29, 2017 6:18 PM   Subscribe

When Ursula Vernon’s The Tomato Thief won the 2017 Hugo Award for Best Novelette, she gave an acceptance speech the likes of which you’ve never heard.
Well. This is an unexpected honor. My fellow winners have said some very meaningful things up here on the stage tonight. I want to talk to you about dead whales.
posted by Lexica (24 comments total) 57 users marked this as a favorite
whale fall (wikipedia)
posted by rebent at 6:25 PM on November 29 [1 favorite]

This is very fitting, because I've always felt sci-fi/fantasy should basically be the author holding up new ideas and going "Look at this! Isn't that cool?"*

*(or 'horrific' or 'interesting', whatever.)
posted by The otter lady at 6:28 PM on November 29 [8 favorites]

I love her closing comment
Now, you’re probably all asking what whalefall has to do with awards ceremonies, or science fiction novelettes, and the answer is: absolutely nothing. But how often do I get to tell an audience this size about whalefall?
Imagine if the Oscars winners did this.
posted by Nelson at 6:31 PM on November 29 [19 favorites]

Her twitter from around the Hugos was also great, as is her rant against paladins.
posted by dinty_moore at 6:34 PM on November 29 [17 favorites]

I have not yet read her work aside from this speech but I am now a fan.
posted by vegartanipla at 6:35 PM on November 29 [4 favorites]

This is the greatest. Thanks, OP!
posted by Bella Donna at 6:35 PM on November 29

Ursula Vernon AKA T. Kingfisher is an absolute literary and artistic treasure and I highly encourage you to seek out her work in all forms. Also her Twitter rants are GREAT.
posted by nicebookrack at 6:40 PM on November 29 [11 favorites]

Metafilter: Tell an audience about whalefall
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:49 PM on November 29 [2 favorites]

Fantastic. Thank you for this.
posted by greermahoney at 7:10 PM on November 29

I would not like to see this turned into a Zen Pencils panel.

TheOatmeal? Sure, why not.
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:14 PM on November 29

Or maybe let Ursula turn it into an illustrated thing herself, Roland; she's a fairly capable artist as well as a writer.
posted by egypturnash at 7:45 PM on November 29 [5 favorites]

Ursula Vernon is a national treasure and should get all the awards and give all the acceptance speeches.
posted by tdismukes at 7:49 PM on November 29 [2 favorites]

Humans are made to do certain things. Use their brains to figure out problems, run long distances to chase prey, love our children, fuck people we come to fancy. We also evolved to tell stories about things and wow each other. Whenever Modern Living is getting me down, I try my to remember the things biology ordained us to do.

If I ever win some kind of award for anything, I’m going to start my acceptance speech with something like “I’d like to tell you this amazing thing that happened to me about when I was 25 and in charge for the first time of the Intensive Care Unit that accepted trauma from five states...”
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:51 PM on November 29 [7 favorites]

Well...go on!
posted by d. z. wang at 8:14 PM on November 29 [8 favorites]

Ursula Vernon / T. Kingfisher short stories you can read online for free right now

she's a fairly capable artist

Ursula Vernon drew the LOLWUT pear and thus will live on in artistic legend long after our grandchildren are dead. Also Mythopoeic Award-winning wombat webcomic Digger, two illustrated children's books series, yadda yadda etc.
posted by nicebookrack at 8:32 PM on November 29 [22 favorites]

The tomato thief is a quick read that left me wanting more. Train Priests, The Mother of Trains, a girl with cholla rib bones.


A friend of mine won a beer brewing competition many years ago. They were expected to give a 3 to 5 minute acceptance speech, but they felt very uncomfortable speaking in front of 20+ people.

They prepared infusions of half a dozen types of malts and half a dozen types of hops. I helped them fill and label a few hundred .75 oz disposable cups (the ones one may get for ketchup or salsa) and set them up on little cardboard trays.

This is a full transcript of the speech:

"Please taste and savor the different malts and hops."

Pause for a couple minutes waiting for people to taste.

"Thank you".

They got a standing ovation.
posted by Index Librorum Prohibitorum at 8:40 PM on November 29 [28 favorites]

as is her rant against paladins.

I'm not sure that's such a great rant, it's maybe barely ok, but her speech is indeed a work of art.
posted by GuyZero at 8:51 PM on November 29 [1 favorite]

You mean we're meant to accept the story of the bloated corpse of a once proud leviathan sinking into the depths to endlessly be harvested by nameless scavengers at face value? In 2017??

I mean, it is very cool, but whale tales are almost without exception metaphors.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 9:56 PM on November 29 [10 favorites]

It’s an interesting subject and I like the approach to a speech, but I would also assume a lot of Radiolab listeners in the audience who have heard it before.
posted by oneironaut at 5:19 AM on November 30

I have a question about the Paladin rant - I know she blames D&D for the "if a knight pursues the path of perfection, woe unto those that stray" trope, but isn't that straight from Lancelot? Also, do I misremember or hasn't there been a path/spell for atonement since 1st edition?
posted by Easy problem of consciousness at 5:37 AM on November 30 [2 favorites]

I fucking love Ursula Version and have been following her with worshipful adoration since 2006, and I love dead whales and women who love them, so this thing is like the platonic ideal of a post for me. I am so happy, and I am delighted imagining the zombie worms flowering around the unexpected windfall of whale flesh. Would that my carcass could nourish so many when I die.
posted by sciatrix at 5:52 AM on November 30 [1 favorite]

Also, do I misremember or hasn't there been a path/spell for atonement since 1st edition?

1st ed, iirc, simply said nothing on the matter. 2nd and 3rd probably wrote whole follow-on books on paladins so who know what's buried there. but if she's going to rant, she better quote chapter and verse otherwise there's not much there there.

Ursula, if you ever find this thread, I'm sure you're mystified on how much we care about your Paladin rant.
posted by GuyZero at 9:20 AM on November 30

The Paladin rant led indirectly (or directly) to Ursula's latest novel, Clockwork Boys, which includes as a character a broken Paladin. Also an unrepentant forger and a cheerful assassin. It's great fun, much recommended, although it's only part 1. Part 2 will be out in February, I think.
posted by suelac at 9:51 AM on November 30 [1 favorite]

She's flat wrong about paladins; how strict the god is and whether or not the pally can atone is firmly DM discretion. Her complaint is about bad GMs, not bad systems.
posted by a power-tie-wearing she-capitalist at 10:13 AM on November 30

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