“Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it annoys the pig.” Robert A. Heinlein
Nasrudin was arrested for heresy and sentenced to die. Hauled up before the king, he was asked by the Royal Presence: “Is there any reason at all why I shouldn’t have your head off right now?”
Nasrudin replied: “Oh, Great King know that I, the mullah Nasrudin, am the greatest teacher in your kingdom. So skilled am I that if given a year, I can teach your favorite horse to sing.”
The king was amused, and said: “Very well then. If my horse does not sing after a year….”
Back in the prison, the other condemned prisoners laughed at Nasrudin’s folly: “What a fool you are!. You know you can’t teach that horse to sing! No one can teach a horse to sing!”
Nasrudin responsed: “Fool? Not at all. I have a year. A lot of things can happen in a year. The king might die. I might die. The horse might die.
“And, who knows? Maybe the horse will learn to sing.” Source Unknown
An interesting dichotomy in the ways in which singing is used in instructive parables. I find it interesting that both of these aphorisms feature animals, singing and the usages of time, though they seem to make completely opposite suggestions.
Such is the case with a little award we’ve been discussing and putting together over here at Amazing Stories – the Excellence in SF Denialism Award.
The idea for the award was originally inspired by this quote from Terry Pratchett:
“I’ve always liked the idea of a special Hugo to be awarded (by force, perhaps) to literary authors who write books dripping with themes filleted from mainstream SF and then deny that it’s science fiction ‘because it’s not about robots and spaceships”
Which was immediately associated with Margaret Atwood’s oft-repeated quote about talking squids in space, on Facebook and elsewhere.
While such an award might seem to be a negatively oriented one at first glance, if one looks deeper, I think you will find that it is actually more akin to the same kind of dichotomy presented by those quoted aphorisms. Both sides of the argument are presented in one award.
Those authors (and film makers and publicists and editors) who publicly seek to distance themselves from the genre are actually according SF a left-handed compliment by acknowledging that SF is important enough that there needs to be a denial.
And if you reverse the looking glass, the award itself pays a left-handed compliment to those who are in denial: we recognize in their work the kinds of things we like and wish to make our own.
All in the spirit of having some good fannish fun with what has otherwise been a minor yet constant topic of contention within genre circles.
Included here are some pics of components of what will eventually become the award trophy itself – a silver rocket beset by two talking squids (the squids telling us the name of the award and who it has been presented to in dialogue balloons).
We’ll be announcing the opening of nominations for the first ever Excellence in SF Denialism Award pretty soon here, along with categories, eligibility requirements and voting rules.
So far (internally) a number of highly respected authors have been put forth (some of whom might surprise you), as have a handful of film and television show directors. We expect that some scientists might creep in, an editor or two, a critic or two and are still working out what the individual categories will be.
The rocket will be painted silver; the base will be beveled and stained; the squids will be affixed to the sides of the rocket and speech balloons affixed to the squids.
There is a window in the rocket (ok, porthole); a domed port will be placed in that window and, inside the port will be a picture of the award winner.