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Gah and gag and arrrrrrgh

No, it’s not “Talk like a pirate day” nor am I trying to cough up a hairball. What I’m trying to do is keep from throwing my laptop across the room. Over the last few months, Dave, Sarah, Kate and I have written about the idiocy that has been happening in SFWA specifically and in publishing in general. I honestly thought things had calmed down a bit — until a couple of days ago that focused more on what our ethnic background and sexual preferences were than about what we liked to read and why. I could fisk that survey and the reasoning behind it and, to be honest, had planned to but then the latest bit of idiocy came across my facebook feed and, well, I can’t let it pass.

To start, I’ll admit that I have issues with companies and publishers making decisions like the one DC Comics has apparently made regarding Batwoman. Part of the current iteration of Batwoman story arc is that she is gay and is in a relationship with a Gotham City policewoman. This isn’t something that is alluded to but something the readers are well aware of. Yet the powers that be at DC have decided that they will not allow the couple to get married — which would, from what I can tell, be a natural progression of the story arc and character development. But the corporate suits said no and that was the final straw that broke the back of the current creative team for Batwoman. They will be leaving after issue #26 in December.

I don’t care if the suits are afraid such a wedding would draw attention to Orson Scott Card and his association with Superman. Frankly, I don’t care what Card’s beliefs are. He can shout them from the rooftops if he wants, no matter what a certain faction in the SF community thinks. This is the US of A and that means he has the right to say pretty much anything he wants (with a few limitations) just as he has the right to believe what he wants. You don’t have to like it nor do you have to agree. All I care about is if he writes an entertaining book. Part of that means he doesn’t beat me over the head with his beliefs in some attempt to “educate” or “enlighten” me, something his naysayers are all too often guilty of doing.

Then there is this next piece of “what the bleep were they thinking?” also from DC. I appreciate the fact the suits are looking for new art talent. I even appreciate the fact that the character involved, Harley Quinn, isn’t your normal girl next door. Far from it, in fact. However, one of the required scenes the artists entering the contest have to depict is a naked Harley in her tub about to kill herself. Here’s how DC describes the scene:

Harley sitting naked in a bathtub with toasters, blow dryers, blenders, appliances all dangling above the bathtub and she has a cord that will release them all. We are watching the moment before the inevitable death. Her expression is one of “oh well, guess that’s it for me” and she has resigned herself to the moment that is going to happen.

Now, and this is where I’ll get in trouble with the “right thinking” folks, I don’t really have an issue with Harley being naked. She’s in a tub filled with water, after all. My issue is in the set-up. If you read the previous three images DC is looking for, they are all out of the ordinary — and dark humored — scenes where Harley is putting herself in the jaws of death without success. This last panel is an all too real scene and there is nothing humorous, evenly darkly humorous, about it.

But the PC folks are screaming because Harley is to be depicted naked in the scene. That’s wrong. It shows what’s wrong with comics and graphic novels and SF. It’s anti-woman and perpetuates all the bad things men think about us. Gah and gag and arrrrrrrgh.

No, as with refusing to let Batwoman marry her female partner, is goes against character and story arc. Harley is anything but normal. Just adding more electrical appliances about to drop into the water doesn’t make it fit her. So, nope, don’t buy it.

And that brings us to the true source for my irritation. Part of me wants to follow the example set by a friend when he commented about the article on Facebook. He didn’t link to the article because he refused to give the author any more PR than he’d already received. (Hat tip to Steve Simmons). However, to properly fisk the article, I have to link to it. Besides, there are some interesting comments — from both sides of the argument — following it.

So, here goes and you can blame Sarah for what happens next because she’s the one who inflicted this article on me in the first place.

Let be start by saying I was already in the mood to not like what I was about to read simply by looking at the headline: It’s time for science fiction to face up to discrimination

Followed immediately by: Why are most SF authors straight, white western men? Science fiction writers can’t ignore the diversity that exists on planet Earth

Basically, according to this author, science fiction is just too darned conventional, too darned white, too darned male and too darned heterosexual. Oh, there’s more, but I’ll let you read the post for yourself. It’s too darned early for me to go back to it and get upset all over again.

However, here’s my issue with the article. Well, my issues. First, the author states that the majority of sff authors are white males from the US and Great Britain. But what’s his source for this? We don’t know because he doesn’t say. As one FEMALE author pointed on in the comments, by SFWA count as well as by another survey, that gap between male and female authors in the genre isn’t much and I’d put to you that it is closing even as we speak.

But my issue goes beyond that. Everything this person decries as happening in SF/F is because of the editors and publishers. Authors have tried for years to write stories with persons of color and characters that might be gay or bi or whatever. Editors have rejected those stories, saying the public wouldn’t read them. Publishers refused to publish them or buried them by refusing to give the book any push. For years these same publishers demanded women write under pen names or use only their initials because the sf/f reading public wouldn’t read science fiction written by women.

BTW, that’s the same argument that’s been used when men have tried to sell romance books to publishers.

So if you are going to take anyone to task for not publishing books which meet the diversity of the world, look no further than those publishers and editors in their ivory towers in New York and London. These self-proclaimed liberals (in most cases) who have no problem telling their authors they need to write socially relevant books decrying big business, the military and pushing global warming and socialistic policies. Ask yourself why these so-called enlightened editors and publishers weren’t pushing their authors to write novels with these more diverse characters in them.

Oh, I can already hear that side of the argument saying it isn’t the fault of the editors and publishers any more than it is the fault of the authors. It’s the reading public’s fault because most readers of science fiction are pimply faced boys who also like to play video games like Grand Theft Auto (whichever the latest number is) and other video games where they can beat and rape women and kill persons of color for the hell of it. Give me a break. Those guys aren’t reading — at least not much — and if you want to reach other readers, you write books they want to read. End of story.

But if you buy into that argument, why aren’t you out there protesting a lot of the urban fantasy/paranormal romance genre with equal vigor? After all, the driving plot device in many of the books in those genres is sex, often non-consensual sex until the girl realizes that the hunky male creature of whatever flavor is her life mate. I guess the only reason those books aren’t condemned is because most of them are written by women. Funny, seems like a double standard to me.

Back to the article. Another problem I have with the basic premise of the article is that it demands we put today’s so0-called sensibilities and “diversity” into our stories about the future. Stories that might not take place on this planet and, even if they did, time and events have changed the way the world looks and people act. I would like to think that in a thousand years, we will have gotten past the issues that plague us today. Even if some of those same issues still exist — and religious conflict certainly may — most will not. We’ll have other things to worry about.

There’s something else to consider and I’ll go back to gaming for the example. Borderlands 2 from Gearbox has been out about a year now. It is an over the top science fiction action/shooter game set in what could be called a dystopian world. It garnered rave reviews when it was released.

And then, as people started playing through it, there came the naysayers. Why? Because of one character, one non-playable character. Suddenly there was a spate of posts calling the game racist because it had an over the top white, female character talking in what the detractors called a bad imitation of black slang. How dare Gearbox allow this. It was insensitive. It was racist.

It was a lot of bull.

And it is what I’ve seen happen in the science fiction community as well. All you have to do is go onto Facebook and see how some — and it is a very small minority — writers of color (as they call themselves) condemn any writer who doesn’t happen to fall into their group and who then tries to write a character of color. According to this small group, we can’t do it because we can’t identify with the generations of prejudice, etc., that they can. Funny, we can imagine what it is to be an alien from another planet or to live on a spaceship traveling across the cosmos but we can’t do the research and talk to our friends in order to get a handle on what a character of color might feel and do IN THE FUTURE.

So, for the author of the article saying we need to start showing the diversity of today’s world, I have one thing to say: that’s fine for stories set now and in the near future. For stories set in the distant future, the realities will be different and if we’ve done our world building right, we will have characters that are necessary for the story, no matter what their color, religion or sexual orientation. The key is to write a story that the readers will enjoy. Instead of telling the rest of us what needs to be done, perhaps the author should have taken the time necessary to write the article to do a little research and look at the number of female authors and authors of color there are in the genre. Compare it with a list from a hundred years ago and tell me things aren’t getting better.

If you think we need more diversity in SF/F, write it. Ask your publishers why they aren’t putting it out. If they won’t, then put it out yourself. Believe me, science fiction fans have reveled in the new selection offered by Amazon and Kobo, etc. As long as you write a good story, you can slip your message in. Just don’t make it a sermon.

In the meantime, look at your bookshelf. How many of your science fiction novels have female lead characters? Gay characters? Characters of color? How many were written by women? Now, how many of them are by a certain publisher that most of the “right thinking people” love to condemn because it is conservative and — gasp — pioneered e-books?

Now pardon me while I go look for the brain bleach to get the after-effects of that idiotic article out of my head.

114 Comments
  1. I disagree with the premise that all the good stuff is white bread male,. ,o I disagree that the majority of stuff is white bread male.If I see one more space station/ship commander who is married to a male of color, whose friends are ethnic female or gay, and whose villains are white males I’m gonna hurl. David Drake for example has the most “manly” characters in the crew of the Princess Cecile are female or gay. David Webber’s Honor Harrington and her cast. The males are set dressing . And those are the good ones from Baen. The crap you find in the libraries make Drake and Webber look like misoginists

    September 7, 2013
    • Sanford, your comment about “white bread male” made me think about how Sarah’s publisher — not Baen — decided she needed to change her name for a new series they were going to put out. She gave them several suggestions but none of them were white bread enough. They didn’t want anything that sounded foreign or might indicate she was anything but a white — and possibly white haired — woman writing cozy mysteries. So it is a symptom of more than just SF publishers and editors.

      And you’re right about the characters. While I appreciate having some strong female characters in my sf, I also appreciate having strong male characters. What those crying for diversity seem to forget is that it also means having that WASP-esque male (or female) character who can be a gentleman and who has a code of ethics we all should admire.

      September 7, 2013
  2. Stephen J. simmons #

    The two books sitting next to me on the table when I read that tripe happened to be _The_Moon_Is_A_Harsh_Mistress_ and _Starship_Troopers_, because I just got them back from a friend I had lent them to. The diversity in the former is extraordinary. Part of the genius of the latter is the fact that only a tiny handful of characters have any description at all … and we find out at the end that our plucky hero is Filipino.

    But my strongest response to it was to yell at the laptop-screen, “So WRITE it already! Write the books you claim the public is eager to buy, instead of churning out endless unsubstantiated recriminations against other writers.” Because if there really is such a vastly un-served or under-served market out there, she (or he? the article isn’t attributed …) would make a killing by meeting the demand. And so long as she persists in being paid to write anything OTHER than the novels she demands, she’s condemning herself right along with the rest of us. Including those of us who had the foresight to arrange things so that we’d be born as straight white American men. 😉

    Oh, and thanks for the head-pat, Boss. It made me happy. 🙂

    September 7, 2013
    • Christopher M. Chupik #

      Ah yes, the diverse cast of Starship Troopers, including a Japanese guy, an Afghan and a Philipino protagonist. All changed to a bunch of Aryans in the braindead movie of the same name. I always remember this when I hear Hollywood types bragging about how enlightened they are.

      September 7, 2013
      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard #

        You’re forgetting that the novel, _Starship Troopers_ is fascist and only whites can be fascists. Therefore, the characters in the movie _Starship Troopers_ had to be white. [Very Big Evil Grin]

        Seriously, I think that’s why the movie makers had Khan played by an English actor in the latest Star Trek movie. Never mind that the original character was an Asian Indian and played by a Mexican in his first appearances. The movie makers couldn’t have a non-white villain.

        September 7, 2013
        • Paul, the same ones who say that are the ones who say Heinlein hated women, etc. It’s become their mantra. They don’t look at his work, much less actually read it, before casting their stones. No, they just chant it longer and louder, hoping they will make the rest of us go away.

          September 7, 2013
        • I made the mistake of listening to Paul Verhoeven’s commentary on the DVD of Starship Troopers. He hated the book, absolutely hated it, and admits that his reason for making the film was to parody it. Which explains a lot.

          September 7, 2013
          • At least that explains it. There is no way anyone who liked the book could have made that piece of crap and still called it Starship Troopers.

            September 7, 2013
          • Kurt Griffith #

            If someone hates the source material of a film they are hired to produce, direct or act in, there ought to be a no-fault. “Thankyouverymuch for your time.” KILL FEE and they get to WALK AWAY before they do any more damage.

            September 7, 2013
            • Ah, but that supposes they want to walk away and not do what Verhoeven did. Too many take on such jobs simply so they can try to wreck the source material.

              September 7, 2013
          • Didn’t he also claim that he never read the book?

            September 8, 2013
            • I can’t recall him saying that, but I didn’t get very far before I turned it off.

              September 8, 2013
      • Yep and well said. But we can’t cast stones at Hollyweird. It’s special and enlightened and they’ll tell you so if you ask.

        September 7, 2013
    • Steve, gotta agree with you — especially when it comes to just yelling at them to write already if they feel there’s a need. But it is so much easier to sit there and condemn than it is to actually write — you know that as a writer.

      And glad to have made you happy 😉

      September 7, 2013
    • I’ve said before that one of the fun things about Heinlein was that he carefully avoided descriptions of the characters’ color or ethnicity until late in the book, when he throws in a “HUH??!?” moment.

      September 7, 2013
  3. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard #

    Ugh. Too earlier in the morning to be thinking about the diversity garbage. [Wink]

    Seriously, I think DC did an idiot thing to cancel the “Batwoman wedding”.

    Of course I thought they were idiots for making the original Green Lantern (Alan Scott) gay.

    Making Batwoman gay didn’t “conflict” with anything written about her in the past and having her marry her partner is a reasonable next step.

    Alan Scott was shown as non-gay for years including him marrying and having children.

    All in all, this diversity garbage makes me wonder if “there is intelligent life on Planet Earth”. [Sad Smile]

    September 7, 2013
    • Paul, think about how I felt writing this before I’d had my morning fill of coffee 😉

      DC has been making some remarkably foolish, imo, decisions of late. The Batwoman and Harley Quinn issues are just part of it. Making Alan Scott gay — to me — broke the story arc. It just wasn’t in character. When you do something like that, you lose readers because you’ve just told them everything in the story arc and character development before then didn’t count. That makes them lose faith in you, as the writer or as the editor/publisher.

      September 7, 2013
      • Draven #

        But… its DC, they break their story arcs all the time.

        September 7, 2013
      • Just read a thing decrying the decrying. YMMV
        Furious Fanboys

        September 7, 2013
        • Which proves my point that people — and I may be using the term loosely — don’t think. The fact that DC has seen fit to do away with the marriage of one character through a reboot shows how it is willing to break canon without thought for how it will effect the reader. I still say you have to let relationships in graphic novels and comics play out in a way that is true to the story arc and characters involved.

          As for the Harley Quinn thing, like I said, I don’t have a problem with the nudity but with the fact that it doesn’t follow character canon either. Now, it would appear, that DC is going to do what it has become known for — breaking canon again.

          Of course, the furious fanboys are as guilty of not following all the way through to the source as they condemn others of being. They only looked to one source, DC, basically. They didn’t speak with the writers on Batwoman nor did they pay much attention to some of the comments about the Harley issue — and it doesn’t all come down to the nudity or even her killing herself.

          September 7, 2013
  4. TXRed #

    OK, as Stephanie put it, who are writers of color not writing characters of color, or writing anything, for that matter? No, you don’t have to answer that, because I know what the reason is, alas. I suspect what the PC people want are not strictly characters of color, but cultures-of-color, more victims in spaaaaaaace, more fantasies where the heroine is an elderly woman-of-color who saves the day with her special wymyn’s way of knowing, more anti-colonial hip-hop among the stars. G-d forbid you find an, oh, African-Native-American lesbian who writes thumping good sword-and-sorcery or space opera! Vapours, smelling salts, to the fainting couch!

    And since melanin-challenged people-of-paleness are not allowed to write about characters-of-color, since that’s not “authentic,” what do the gatekeepers expect? I can hardly wait until my novella with the African-American hero and Hispanic heroine hits the ‘Net. You see, he’s a raging libertarian who writes Human Wave stories. Oops.

    September 7, 2013
    • You mean, like my novel with gay male characters who even fulfill the left’s need to “have suffered” but who are constitutionalist libertarians. Yeah. That pig is so wearing a dress.
      As someone they consider “latina” and from an oppressed country (when it’s not an oppressor country. They can’t decide) I can tell you what they WANT is downtrodden characters done done by the man and the USA. if you don’t play their game, then they either don’t publish you, don’t push you, or you stop counting as a minority.
      OH, and they will say you don’t write WHAT THEY CONSIDER “authentic” because you’re “downtrodden” and have internalized oppression. TOTAL Kafka trap.
      To them I say “Who are you to determine in which manner this woman of color feels oppressed, you mother sucking smug intellectuals? These are my middle fingers!

      September 7, 2013
      • Sarah, tell us how you really feel 😉

        They are the ones to determine in which manner the woman feels oppressed because they are the ones who went to the right schools and have the right level of social consciousness and they yell the loudest. Just ask them. They’ll tell you.

        Of course, they also don’t realize they are just as guilty of gender and race hating as they accuse others of being. It’s just that they are all so smug and righteous in their ivory towers that they don’t realize they are stabbing themselves in their metaphorical backs.

        September 7, 2013
        • Wayne Blackburn #

          Now, Amanda, we know they are projecting. But THEY don’t know it. And are probably immune to explanations.

          September 7, 2013
    • Indeed — most of the nonwhite and female protagonists of science fiction don’t suit the PC crowd because these protagonists don’t see either as disadvatages. And why should they? Are we to assume that — to the degree that they are still on top — white men will remain on top for all eternity throughout the Universe? That, incidentally, would be an extraordinarily racist and sexist assumption, as it would require that whites really be inherently superior to nonwhites and men inherently superior to women.

      But then they don’t seem to be happy even when a Baen author actually manages to find a way to discuss, say, gender issues in the far future, by having some of his planetary cultures be sexist. A good example is in David Weber’s Honorverse, in which the overall galactic culture is about as completely non-sexist as is possible (given that women still are the sex who have babies): specifically, the stories in which characters from non-sexist Manticore interact with the characters and cultures from sexist Grayson and hideously-sexist (as in Handmaid’s Tale sexist) Masada. One problem the PC crowd has with this is that Weber doesn’t write the people from any of these cultures as monsters — even the Masadans (of whom he obviously disapproves) are just people who happen to have a really messed-up society.

      September 7, 2013
      • Jordan, you are confusing them with logic again. Remember, we have to apply today’s sensibilities — as they define them — to our science fiction. Forget about world building and that society will change over the years and across the light years. As for not being happy when a Baen author manages to discuss the issues they harp on, of course they won’t accept it. It’s a BAEN author. You know Baen, the unwashed masses of publishing. Nothing that comes out of Baen can be socially aware. Baen authors and readers care only about God, country and their guns (rolls eyes)

        For my part, I’m glad to be a Baen reader and one day hope to be a Baen author because Baen cares about the story. The message comes later because Toni realizes it is the story that gets people to buy the book and then to recommend it to their friends and family.

        September 7, 2013
      • These remarks parallel my own realization that the racist is the Guardian guy who judges our characters (and our characters’ characters) by the color of the skin.

        If race and sex don’t matter, then who’s to say that my characters should be red or yellow, black or white? They’re all precious in my sight.

        September 7, 2013
        • Ah but, Steve, you forget the other side’s argument that they can’t be racist in what they are saying because the history of oppression in on their side. Of course, they also conveniently forget that there probably isn’t a single race or sex or religious sect that hasn’t been discriminated against or oppressed at some point in time.

          September 7, 2013
          • Which, ignoring the fact that individuals get to pick their own attitudes and behavior irregardless of “history,” ignores all the history before the 19th century, and most of the history before the 16th.

            September 7, 2013
    • Hehehehehehehe.

      I guess my problem is that I don’t care what color or religion or sex or sexual preference a character is unless it is essential to the plot. I don’t care what color or religion etc an author is as long as that author writes a story that is entertaining and keeps my interest. Funny, I thought that was the first goal of writing fiction. Foolish me.

      September 7, 2013
      • You might find this essay to be interesting. It’s called “Why I Am NOT Into Group Identity-Based Anthologies.”

        I always welcome comments. 🙂

        September 7, 2013
  5. masgramondou #

    When I read that grauniad article I realized pretty much immediately that there’s no point in arguing because people like that aren’t in fact interested in facts. Facts would just turn out to be awkward. And they have feelings and you can’t rationally debate someone’s feelings. Especially when the feelings pretty much boil down to ‘Eww cooties’

    The whole comics thing may possibly explain why Japanese comics, which are completely un PC, are so popular.

    Fsck’em and may their inodes be irrevocably corrupted

    September 7, 2013
  6. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard #

    I think we should feel sorry for these people. It’s obvious that they’ve been Capped. [Very Big Evil Grin]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tripods

    September 7, 2013
    • bearcat #

      Thank you, it has been years since I read those books and couldn’t remember for the life of me who the author was or the titles of any of the books to find them.

      September 14, 2013
      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard #

        They are also available in e-format.

        September 15, 2013
  7. Eamon #

    This ongoing flap over more diversity in blah-blah makes me crazy.

    The push for overt diversity in written works is inherently discriminatory (in the distinctions sense). It requires that we evaluate people based on these arbitrary classifications, to reduce their value to the genre based on singular aspects of their existence. And it’s hopeless, because ever more finite categories of oppression will be devised to browbeat the majority population into submission.

    And that majority is anybody that ain’t me, because I’m singular!!

    Pshaw.

    As an aside: Saladin Ahmed: “Class diversity also needs to be part of #DiversityinSFF. I want fewer kings and starship captains, more coach drivers and space waitresses.”

    I don’t know the author or know enough about him to know if he’s serious, but if he is, it demonstrates a failed understanding of storytelling. If the story of the coach driver of the space waitress is compelling, it will be told, but often times they are not working at the pivotal point of ‘history’ and their story is from the sidelines. So…what did the Captain do??

    September 7, 2013
    • Christopher M. Chupik #

      Ironically, the more “diverse” it becomes, the smaller the audience gets. Curious, that . . .

      September 7, 2013
    • As to Saladin Ahmed’s comment, it makes me think that he hasn’t read much science fiction. Science fiction stopped having all its main characters be upper-class men sometimes in the 1940’s — I’m wondering if he’s getting his concept of “science fiction” primarily from long-running series. And of course, in any “long-running” series which is not thoroughly depressing, it’s not likely that a poor character is going to remain poor for long.

      September 7, 2013
      • I love stories where the space waitress ends up as a starship captain (even if it happens because she shows that as a wise Latina she is inherently smarter than the white guys, if that’s not overly intrusively played, although I would prefer her getting a place in the space academy because she either works hard or shows off her just plain non-group-spesific smarts when the orbital station where she works develops a leak in the section where the diner is). Doesn’t everybody? And there are more than a few of that type of stories around, rags to riches/power has always been popular. But maybe he doesn’t mean them, but that she should remain as a waitress.

        September 7, 2013
        • Wayne Blackburn #

          The problem with any story like that is that there has to be a reason that the Space Waitress saves the day. Most of the time, that’s because she’s a retired Space Marine/Special Agent/Whatever, or else she’s an active agent of some sort, placed there specifically to catch some bad guys. Otherwise, unless we’re talking about a short story, where a chance bit of knowledge can be very useful, what’s the likelihood that she’s going to have the overall skills to save the day?

          Then you have the ones like Sassinak, who was captured at about the age of 12, sold as a slave, rescued, entered the Space Academy, and worked her way up to Captain of her own ship. Making tons of allies on the way, who help out immensely.

          September 7, 2013
          • Wayne, there you go with logic again. You’ll confuse the poor things calling for more diversity with it. Now, I’ll admit it’s fun to watch their heads spin and their eyes roll. But can it wait until I’ve had my coffee?

            Sassinak is a great example. But she was a success despite all her hardships, so I’m not sure the other side would admit that she is an example of the diversity they want.

            September 8, 2013
            • Sorry about you seeing that before caffeine. In my defense, my comment was written 12 hours earlier, and I expected that everyone would be sufficiently caffeinated at that point. 🙂

              As for using logic – well, yeah, it’s a character flaw. I try listening to my younger son in order to correct that, but it takes time, and repetitious application of mallet to head. In my case, the mallet is usually a 16 lb sledgehammer, ’cause I gots a hard head.

              September 8, 2013
              • There is never enough caffeine. There are times when there is almost enough but the threshold is never quite reached.

                I tried defeating the logic character flaw by listening to my son. The only problem was that he is more logical than most folks and was even as a toddler. So I continue to try applying the hammer, only 14lbs because I think I’ve finally started making dents in my hard head. Either that or my arms are just getting tired for all that beating of my head.

                September 8, 2013
          • Hey, I could figure out several reasons why she was a waitress with the necessary knowledge while not being a secret agent or having had a previous career in something herself. Maybe she grew up in an asteroid mining ship, only her family had bad luck and lost everything before she had gotten the necessary credentials for something better. Or maybe she is from a poor family who are actually actively trying to hold her back (‘why do you keep talking about those fancy jobs, waitressing was always good enough for your mother and it’s damn well going to be good enough for you!’, or maybe ‘Damn you girl, you are so stupid, see how well we are living and none of us has ever worked a day in our lives…’ :D) and hasn’t gotten the money together for the academy yet, but she is smart and has been cramming for the entrance examinations – and studying lots of the courses too – online in her off time, in hopes she’ll make it.

            Believable and logical are good, but a good story can trump lots. So maybe it’s sometimes necessary to stretch a bit in a place or two to get it where you want it to go, if it’s not overdone I will probably accept that if the rest of the story is rewarding enough.

            But yep, it would take hell of a lot for me to love a story in which a space waitress works at the station diner and nothing much ever happens to her. Now if there is a juicy murder case and she is an old, canny observer of human foibles ala a space age waitressing Miss Marple… but something needs to happen.

            September 8, 2013
            • And yes, I commenting on more than just Wayne’s comment here.

              Anybody care to write that ‘space waitress solves a murder’, by the way? I think I’d like it. I love murder mysteries and combining that with science fiction sounds like an interesting premise, and yes, it has been done but not all that often (and not something I’m able to write myself. Besides, I think this is something I’d rather read than write in any case). My personal preference is for cozies – whee, a cozy mystery in a science fiction setting… anybody 🙂 ?

              September 8, 2013
              • Sounds like fun. So why don’t you write it? Yes, I think I just threw down the challenge gauntlet 😉

                September 8, 2013
        • Eamon #

          I suspect, given how broken their logic reads everywhere else, that once our space waitress makes good…she now has too much privilege to qualify for ‘legitimate.’

          Having worked in food service once upon a time (in every conceivable position) I could write that story. But after the 5th or 6th table who’s gonna care?

          Which shouldn’t be taken as disparaging of waitresses, space or otherwise. I think some interesting stories can be told about blue collar in space. Nuts and bolts stories from the perspective of the folks twisting the nuts on the bolts. But it’s not really about their job, per se, it’s about the people doing the job. Those are out there, but I suspect not even those qualify, as those usually depict people who take great pride in being part of building the future. They should bemoan more.

          Blech, says I.

          September 7, 2013
          • Dan Lane #

            Heh. I’ve done the food service bit too. I was a professional cook and everybloody thing else in the kitchen for some years. There are stories that can be told there (I will save the story of the dumbest thief, ever, for later). The job as a setting can be interesting, but it takes something more to make the story work. Normal problems and everyday issues won’t cut it.

            A good, character driven story about a waitress who solves a murder mystery… on a space station filled with dozens of unique and truly “alien” aliens would be a good story, and I’d read that.

            But therein lies the difference between me (along with others like me) and the despoilers in science fiction. The story is the thing, not any assumption of privilege or moral standing on the basis of *what* a character (or author…) is rather than *who* they are.

            And I just noticed I am repeating what somebody else said in different language again. *chuckle*

            September 8, 2013
            • Dan, it bears repeating. If you have a story that is boring or tries too hard to beat the reader over the head with “the right message”, the only folks who are going to read it are the critics. Now, they’ll probably love it because of the message, but that doesn’t sell books. Not really. A great plot with characters the reader can identify with will sell books and cause word of mouth promotion.

              September 8, 2013
            • Well, there you go. Now your brainy and canny waitress has a sidekick–the dumbest thief ever.

              September 8, 2013
              • Dan Lane #

                Oh hell, now I have to tell that one. Feel free to steal this, as it is a matter of exceedingly public knowledge in Speck, Appalachia. *grin*

                Just before Desert Storm the economy was getting rocky in my little town. I was working as a cook, which meant acclimating to hundred and ten degree heat and discovering how the other half lives. You know, the ones with five kids by different fathers, food stamps queens, and generally taking advantage of all the free stuff the government was handing out. Then there were the customers, who, by and large, were decent folk. I won’t mention the two Chinese guys I had to “escort” to the door by their shirt collars for trying to hand out menus and coupon books to that *other* place inside my restaurant. They weren’t paying customers and were bothering the folk that were, so a little leeway was allowed. They must have managed to climb down from the flag pole before I left work- or fell, I dunno which.

                Anyway, I come in to the evening shift on a Friday early, because it always gets busy quick on the weekends. Soon as I walk in the door, Rancid (getting my life back together with pot!) the waiter says “Thank God you’re here! Huey’s not answering his cell and Fireman’s an hour away. We’re already backed up, so get scrubbed and get in here!” So, in I go. The crowd’s normal, and patient- mostly old folks who just want a good meal, never mind the cost, just get it here on time.

                All night there speculating amongst the staff about our missing cook. Huey’s about my age, but got his nickname because he’s a real live “person of color.” Jaundiced yellow on Monday, after an all night binge. Beet red when arguing with the head chef. Pale white when he’s jonesin’, orange from a bad spray on tan, Huey’s been every color in the rainbow. Everybody wants to know, what did he do this time? Get in a fight with the cops? Hiding because his mistress caught him with his steady girl, or vice versa? Passed out drunk in another state and his wallet and cell got stole? Dead because somebody finally caught up with him? Joined the circus? Got religion? Nobody knew.

                Saturday I work a double, so I show up at the crack of ten to open and prep for lunch. Sweetie, the one good gal on wait staff (and by good I mean she at least wouldn’t screw anything with the right shape that sat still long enough), hands me the morning paper, says “Read the police blotter. Found our boy.”

                Apparently, and this news trickles in through the day, Huey tried to rob a pharmacy. With a screwdriver. While the staff was still there. He was chased off by the pharmacist, who was better armed. He had a metal stool. Huey was tracked down by the cops in about ten minutes after they responded. How did they ever find him so quickly? Well, seems Huey forgot to take off his work shirt before he went out to rob the place, so the police merely had to go in the direction of the restaurant a bit…

                September 8, 2013
            • Eamon #

              Dan, I’d read that one too. I’d even read the one where a waitress and a cook and a dishwasher working in an intergalactic diner solve the problems of inter-species relations and food prep, if it was done right. In other words, if it was about the characters (and as you and Amanda note, the story) and not about the position’ waitress’ and its location in a given ‘class.’

              I suspect we could really throw them if we had that story, only the waitress, the cook and the dishwasher actually opened the diner, and run the business and own the operation. Now we have our ‘lower class’ (BS, I scream!) people but they’re ‘middle class’ and, but, how? UPPER CLASS! Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, I says.

              And now I have some restaurant employees chattering in my brain I must go mollify. If that story gets written, I blame you guys…

              September 8, 2013
              • Dan Lane #

                And if the indie market is flooded by space waitresses solving murder mysteries to the point that there has to be an anthology to put them all in, the only people who lose are those with preconceived notions of victimhood and prejudice. Write it, Eamon. You know you want to…

                September 8, 2013
                • Eamon #

                  ‘Cause I needed more characters taking up space.

                  I’ve been catching up with comments. And my back-brain is insisting on trying out plot-lines…

                  If I may borrow SAH’s catchphrase, you’re a BAD man, Dan.

                  September 8, 2013
          • The Left tends to assume that everyone is born into a class and cannot rise above his birth save by villainy. This makes it very hard for them to understand the life paths of normal individuals, let alone heroes. They get this assumption straight from Marx.

            September 8, 2013
        • Most definitely that she should remain a waitress and that she will have no glory from her heroic action because some evil white male will take all the credit and will hold her kid brother hostage to keep her from disputing it, etc., etc., etc.

          Yes, I haven’t had my morning coffee yet. Why do you ask? 😉

          September 8, 2013
          • Oh, if we’re going PC, she can’t get into the Academy because she’s omnisexual, and has been seen to consort with Aliens of indeterminate gender.

            September 8, 2013
    • Well said, Eamon. Of course, many of those clammoring for more diversity are also the ones who are so sensitive that they demand books by authors like Twain and others be re-edited to take out words that offend them. Forget about the fact that the books are a window into the time when they were written. Those books must be updated to make them less offensive, even though the word in question is a word many of those same folks protesting it sometimes use themselves. Of course, as TxRed said above, I’m a melanin challenged female so I guess I can’t understand what it means to be oppressed because my “people” weren’t (even though my great-great grandmother was born on the Trail of Tears.)

      September 7, 2013
      • Eamon #

        Yeah, it’s always a little humorous and a lot baffling to me that those most interested in diversity are always so sensitive to the peccadilloes of the diverse.

        People, real people as opposed to imagined narrowly defined subgroups, are a messy lot. And the distaste on the face of many the progressive when confronted with actual warm-body meatbags in their vaunted oppressed groups…’tis a shot of radiant joy to my soul.

        But my brain is canted.

        September 7, 2013
      • People who want to revise books that were written a hundred years or more — or even ten years ago or more — to fit their own prejudices disgust me, Amanda. I see that as absolute nonsense, don’t understand how *anyone* can be for it, and think that anyone who says they’re “liberal” and is for this needs their heads examined. Seriously.

        When did “liberal” become synonymous with “just plain stupid” and “historically revisionist” and a number of other terms that all amount to the same thing? And why, oh why, did anyone think this was acceptable when it did?

        Stupidity knows no bounds. That’s the only thing I get out of this article from the Guardian, and you’re a better woman than I to talk about it without throwing things or foaming at the mouth.

        You are absolutely right that trying to somehow “purify” Twain is repulsive and sickening because it’s a window on the society from that particular time-frame. Trying to “update” Twain’s novel and still call it Twain is beyond insane . . . unless you want to add zombies to it and make a mishmash out of it to make money, I suppose. (Doing that would make far more sense.)

        And if someone has the nerve to tell me I can’t write a gay character because I’m not gay, or I can’t write a male character because I’m not male, and I can’t supposedly write a black character because I’m not black . . . well, that person does *not* understand writing and I will refuse to have any sort of conversation with him or her whatsoever ’cause I don’t need to waste my time.

        September 8, 2013
        • Of course, I wanted also to say this is an excellent post — it is — I did my best to share it (on FB and Twitter, the usual suspects), and wish I could edit my reply ’cause I wanted to say “anyone who does this needs _his_ head examined.” (Argh! Double argh!) I’m about to hit the sack, granted, but I hate making stupid, preventable errors like that. (I know I’m human and all that, but still.)

          Anyway, excellent post. 🙂

          September 8, 2013
          • Thanks, Barb.

            Like you, I have a very hard problem accepting the “need” to make the classics fit today’s sensibilities. For one thing, who in the heck determines what these sensibilities are? For another, as I said in the post, you are rewriting history that way and that will only cause harm in the long run.

            I’d better stop here or I’ll go off on a rant that will veer sharply into politics and I don’t want that on this blog. Besides, there’s a cup of coffee calling my name and I’d better go get it before someone else grabs it.

            September 8, 2013
  8. JSchuler #

    This whole thing with “authenticity” in Science Fiction, particularly that taking place in the far future, is utter BS. It assumes not only that people of a certain skin color must all think and act alike, but also that the racial overmind these “individuals” supposedly belong to lacks the capacity for change.

    For some reason I can’t remember, I recently got the urge to watch the last season of Deep Space 9. There was an episode where some persistent holodeck character at Quark’s was about to have his virtual world turned upside down and yadda yadda yadda. Anyway, Captain Sisko randomly decides to take an interest in this. The only problem is that the holodeck program is set in Vegas in the 1950’s/60’s. Queue his recently married wife ranting about what a terrible, horrible, racist setting that was and how Sisko wasn’t appropriately outraged about it.

    And then I stopped. Deep Space 9 takes place in what, the 24th Century? Four-to-five hundred years removed from American slavery and Jim Crow. America doesn’t even exist; nations don’t even exist. Hell, there was an intervening apocalyptic war three hundred years ago. They live hundreds or thousands of light years away and rub shoulders with dozens of different alien races every day. And yet, Sisko’s wife, a freighter captain, is still hung up on 1960’s American racism. What, exactly, is “authentic” about that?

    September 7, 2013
    • Indeed … this would be roughly as rational as my hating Latinos because of the Spanish Inquisition (I’m of Jewish descent). Or maybe less rational — the Inquisition only ended in the 18th-19th centuries, which is closer to my time than the 1950’s is to the time of DS9.

      September 7, 2013
    • Agreed and an excellent means of showing what I mentioned earlier. By saying we have to apply today’s “sensibilities” to our science fiction is to say nothing will have changed over the intervening centuries and light years. I don’t buy it and don’t understand how anyone with an ounce of sense could. All you have to do is look at the changes that have happened over the last 150 years to see that adding even more time and distance will mean even more changes in how we think about things.

      September 7, 2013
    • Synova #

      I stopped at the point that Sisko married a black woman.

      This on a show that was so very proud of itself for having a lesbian relationship between two of those symbiont race people. Ground breaking!

      He doesn’t fall in love with an alien. He doesn’t fall in love with a human lady of some random shade of brown to pink. No. And his son wasn’t bi-racial either. No, Sisko only gets it on with women of his own race.

      Uh huh.

      September 7, 2013
      • Glad to see I wasn’t the only one with a problem with that. At the time, the Sisko marriage caused me to go “huh?” and it still does. Especially when you consider the relationships the other characters had.

        September 8, 2013
  9. Dan Lane #

    Most of you have already mentioned all of this, but “Diversity in Sci-fi”? Please. I’d laugh, but these folks are *serious.* Okay, that’s excuse enough to laugh even more. I need the Dr. Evil quotes for “diversity” here, because it’s getting thick enough for a hazmat suit, let alone hip boots. The Ban on Batwoman’s Bouquet sounds more serious, and Harley suicidal is definitely more serious. Why so serious? Because, as Miss Amanda said, it just doesn’t fit the character, period! Someone is in dire need of a recto-cranial extraction for thinking that up.

    I honestly think the tempest in a teacup that is Barnett’s Guardian piece is nothing more than a coattail publicity grab. What makes a good story? What grabs your attention and gets you to put down your ill-gotten-kapitalist-spoils also known as honest wages? The author’s melanin content ain’t going to be in the top fifty, for the vast majority of readers. Even those who are conscious of and wedded to that bass-ackwards idea, “diversity.” I read a book that entertains me for what’s inside the cover, and only on those books that are really good do I notice the author, and that usually only to know what to look for so I can grab the next one.

    There are fewer women/persons of melanin/persons of culture than straight white guys writing?

    I. Don’t. Care.

    I don’t care what the author looks like, what they’ve got between their legs, or which flag they follow. Period. Only what the story is. You can’t… Well, I was going to say you can’t force someone to buy a product they don’t want. Other than healthcare, this applies, though. Want to write a homosexual black transvestite Wiccan hotdog stand employee for a main character? It had better have a damn good story, or you’d be lucky if five people including your mother buy it. The opinions, habits, *skin color,* and culture of the author outside the book don’t mean diddly to the vast majority of readers. Some can leverage that for publicity reasons. Most of the indie books I read I get by word of mouth (text on screen, referral from a friend), so that can apply.

    Not enough women writers? Define “enough.” The reading market is pretty much unlimited. If they know about the book and think it is a good story, it will sell. “Diversity” is just another word for “privilege” (which is, as Eamon said, discrimination by practical definition). In free market economics, you *earn* privilege- this is called a good reputation. Want to see more “privileged group” fiction? I’m with Stephen on this one, write it yourself.

    September 7, 2013
    • Well said, Dan. Well said.

      September 7, 2013
      • Dan Lane #

        Thank you kindly, Miss.

        September 7, 2013
  10. Some years back, sometime around the mid 90′s, I was on the SFRT on the old online service named GEnie (run by General Electric, and thus the odd capitalization).

    In one of the conferences someone pointed out that Cosmopolitan sold some modest percentage less in months where the cover model was a “person of color” and that this was proof positive that ours was a “racist society.”

    My counter-argument was that what Cosmo sold was mostly wish fulfillment and the more the model was an idealized version of themselves the more likely they would be to pick up a magazine placed right there at the checkout line for “impulse purchase” purposes. And since there were more Caucasian women than otherwise in the US, well, the rest follows.

    On further reflection, given the presented statistic, the question immediately becomes, why would Cosmo ever use “persons of color” as cover models? Don’t you think they know they take the sales hit when they do? I think the reason is this: because they use persons of color occasionally as cover models they get more regular readers, the folk who buy it every month or even subscribe, then they lose of “impulse” purchasers on that given month.

    All of which goes to show that things are more complicated than a simple “that proves it.”

    When it comes to written SF, I think “reader identification” is a powerful factor. Now, as an experienced reader of SF, my “idenfication” muscle is quite hypertrophied. I can identify with a cloned prospective body donor named after my daughter (she did name her after my daughter, right? 😉 ), or a gay male who suddenly becomes the most powerful magician in the land. I can even identify with a middle-aged man with a sedentary technical job, a marriage that’s mostly happy if occasionally stormy, an utterly delightful daughter, and who writes fiction on the side.

    But when I started with things like the Heinlein juveniles, the fact that those boys were so much like I imagined, or wished, myself to be helped draw me into the stories.

    Given that, I don’t think it would be surprising that a lot of protagonists will reflect the largest branches of the readership.

    Anyway, that’s my confused and bemused take on the subject.

    September 7, 2013
    • David, it’s not confused at all. I will admit to being bemused and then definitely not amused when I read the Guardian’s article. I still go back to my statement that unless a character’s race, nationality, religious affiliation, sex or sexual preference impacts the story then it really doesn’t matter. It is the story that matters. If you can’t grab my attention and hold it with the plot then I am not going to read just because you have a character of a certain background or persuasion.

      September 7, 2013
      • Dan Lane #

        Agreed, sir, not confused at all. It’s a lot more cogent and well-organised than *my* first thoughts on the matter (which amounted to nearly spewing orange juice on the screen). *grin* We are *not* amused with having our good sense abused when by misguided agent provocatuers we are accused of having too many straight white conservative guys infused into the population of writers.

        It is really getting to the point where they’re not even bothering to hide the doublethink that is required to hold their positions. It’s quite Orwellian, as Kratman would say, and shows high contempt for, well, everybody who is not them.

        September 7, 2013
    • The other thing, that I hadn’t thought about until later, was to ask what would happen to sales of Jet or Ebony should they chose to have a Caucasian model on the cover.

      September 7, 2013
      • We aren’t allowed to ask those questions. I thought you knew that. 😉

        September 8, 2013
  11. Scott #

    The piece was posted in the guardian. It could have been written by autoscript.

    September 7, 2013
  12. If in the future, they’ve gotten their way and we’re all perfectly, totally equal, then what the protagonist’s race is shouldn’t matter at all then, should it?

    I kinda wish I could transplant my comment from the descriptions article over here about why I deliberately did not describe the “hero’s” race in “Kiwi” (Which I’ve decided I’m gonna put on Amazon once I can get a cover.).

    September 7, 2013
    • Mauser, yes! But if that is the case, then who is the bad guy? Oh, I know, he’s the sole white male who still believes in capitalism and hard work.

      September 7, 2013
      • Heh, in that story, nobody was good. Although the human does end up sacrificing his future to keep the monster in check, although it’s hard to say if the decision is entirely his.

        September 8, 2013
  13. I remember Steven Barnes’ “Streetlethal”, which was written by a Black man and featured strong homosexual relationships as part of the plot (at one point the protagonist is moved to action by violence committed against his male friend’s male lover–in prison, no less).

    Unfortunately, it “glorified” violence by having a protagonist who was a professional prize fighter and who solved many (but not all) of his problems by beating up bad guys, so it pretty much vanished into limbo.

    You can’t win with these guys.

    September 7, 2013
  14. Mark Alger #

    First it was the carbon footprint of your SUV. (OK, not first: there was a lot more before.) Then it was head injuries in the NFL. Now it’s “diversity” in SFF. Saul Alinsky to the white courtesy telephone, please.

    To me, the best solution is to write the most un-PC stuff you can. Call a spade a spade. Refer to homo sapiens as Man. Admit that people sometimes don’t like each other, despite their membership in protected grievance groups. Celebrate that there are 10,372 ways to build a handgun but only nine and sixty to write tribal lays.

    Stand and cheer when their PC crap turns to ashes in their mouths and mock, mock, mock all the live-long day.

    M

    September 7, 2013
  15. I’m a bit ambivalent about the reactions here. Batwoman’s gay marriage was a bit too much for DC, but having her gay in the first place is a sufficient bone for the PC crowd.

    Some are arguing against PC, but then, arguing FOR the the gay marriage storyline (which is very PC). Diversity is unnecessary, but DC is bad for not taking that last step. I lost my scorecard somewhere along the line.

    The issue might have been that for Diversity’s sake, DC hired some writers to deal with re-making minor historical character (Batwoman) into a gay character to satisfy the demands for diversity. Said writers took this as license to advance the agenda far beyond what DC intended, and engineered the storyline to push the big Gay Marriage Agenda, which DC did not want to be forced into advocating. Said writers, being thwarted in advancing their agenda, left in a big public huff. Lefties then dogpile on DC. Righties on the other hand aren’t exactly applauding them for pushing back because it was giving in that got DC in this mess to begin with.

    The lesson being, if you throw a bone to folks with a PC agenda, don’t be surprised when they try to co-opt the whole rest of the cow.

    September 8, 2013
    • Writing something according to what is PC is different from writing something as befits the story.

      Making Batwoman gay doesn’t have to be “PC”. Being gay in itself is neither PC nor not-PC. If it makes sense for the character, it just is what it is. IIRC, Batwoman didn’t have a lot of canon to work with and go against. I don’t personally see gay marriage as a “PC” issue. But I think that may depend on your political views on gay marriage.

      Changing a canonically straight character (with a huge amount of canon to establish this) to a gay character “to bring more diversity” is writing-to-PC. Changing a white character to a black character or Asian character – while keeping the same (real) name and history – is just insane.

      I honestly don’t know what to do with comics anymore. It’s a madhouse of reboots, writing-to-PC and still missing the point entirely because another section of their writing/art still caters to the white teenage heterosexual male/middle age male with the maturity of their teenage self. I hope indies will save the superhero comic genre. (I want to, I just need the time.)

      September 8, 2013
    • I am, as you can probably tell, not one for forcing PC into stories of any sort just for the sake of them being PC. My problem with the Batwoman wedding issue is that it seems to be in canon and true to the story arc for her to get married. Especially since, iirc, there have been something like three proposals shown in frame in the series. In other words, you don’t break the plot and believability of a story line just because you are suddenly getting cold feet.

      The story, the believability of the characters and their actions is key.

      September 8, 2013
      • Apparently in this latest relaunch of all DC titles, NOBODY is married. Married superheroes apparently seem to be “Too old” and their sales decline. The editorial policy is no more weddings.

        September 9, 2013
        • I’m not sure they deem it as “too old” but more along the lines as someone else said that they don’t want their superheroes having any sort of “normality” in their lives. They have to be tormented and tortured and dark on the whole. I guess they think that makes them “edgy” and “interesting”.

          September 9, 2013
  16. Re the Harley Quinn thing. Unfortunately the “contest” page strips off the context (And all the manic editorials that followed thus don’t have it either.).

    The point of those four panels is actually, according to the writer, meant to be a sort of fourth-wall-breaking dream sequence with Harley complaining about all the crappy situations the comic creators are putting her in (Thus the resigned to fate attitude).

    September 8, 2013
    • I hadn’t seen that explanation, although I have seen others since initially writing the post. Even then, I have to ask if the final panel the potential artists are being asked to draw is in character. If it is, no problem. Even if it isn’t, as long as it doesn’t wind up in the comic, no problem. My point was that, as it stood, it seemed to go against the character and I had issues with that. I didn’t — and don’t — care that she was naked. Heck, I have fewer “ewwww” issues with that than I do with the thought of wearing a bunch of raw chickens. YUCK! But I can see Harely doing that. She is, er, not quite balanced after all 😉

      September 8, 2013
  17. DC Comics’ official reply is that “Heroes shouldn’t get married”? Seriously? And more or less, that anybody connected to Batman has to be an unfulfilled angsty schlumpf with no life? Seriously?

    So even the _lesbian_ version of Batwoman is supposed to live chained to Batman’s issues as his writers’ personal Goth psychopuppet, and that’s supposed to be okay???

    DC, you think you are digging yourself out of a hole. But you are not.

    September 8, 2013
    • The implications here, of the Batman universe that DC has come to promote, are that nobody, even in real life, would take on a career of helping others without being crazy and having a ton of issues, and that therefore it is wrong for such persons to either have friends and coworkers and children and students (because they must become codependent psychopuppets and will inevitably get hurt or killed or driven crazy) or to have a spouse (because obviously, you can’t help people _and_ be married). However, it’s wrong to be celibate (because everybody knows that priests and nuns are crazier than heroes), so you must have a disposable girlfriend or boyfriend on a string instead (They are also psychopuppets, but psychopuppets for sex are okay),or just have casual sex all the time (despite the obvious problem in a superhero universe of casual sex without background checks, but the writers don’t want you to think about that).

      This is why the comics aren’t as successful these days as comic book movies. There’s a sort of anti-human, anti-service viewpoint that DC is pushing, and Marvel is doing it too.

      September 8, 2013
    • his writers’ personal Goth psychopuppet

      Sorry, I don’t think Goths would claim Batman (I’m more “Goth lite” and I don’t, not in the current incarnations anyway). Besides:

      September 8, 2013
      • Desperation makes strange bedfellows, and Goths are the strangest…. 🙂

        September 9, 2013
    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard #

      Well, DC’s recent “change” to Superman eliminated Clark Kent’s marriage to Lois Lane. Then they apparently had an affair between Superman and Wonder Woman. Idiots.

      September 8, 2013
      • And the turning of, iirc, the original Green Lantern from a married man (hetero) to gay. Which brings me back to my rants about revisionist history and breaking the characterization and story arc.

        September 8, 2013
      • One of the things I liked about the pre-Crisis multiverse was that the “Earth 2” versions were older and in many cases settled down and married, providing a “happy ending” counterpoint to the neverchanging status-quo of the Earth One heroes. DC lost something vital, IMO, and lost me as a reader, when that ended.

        September 8, 2013
        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard #

          Yeah, I like the story about how the “Earth 2” Clark and Lois got married. The Wizard (Earth 2 villain) had cast a spell that “got rid” of Superman but Clark Kent remained (still super-powered but not aware of it or being Superman). He and Lois got married and remained married *after* Lois realized what had happened to Superman (she got the Wizard to undo the spell).

          September 8, 2013
          • And they had a long and happy marriage. And the story of how Batman and Catwoman got together truly deserved its place in “The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told”. (And Batman’s “greatest fear” made _so_ much sense for the character.)

            September 8, 2013
            • Christopher M. Chupik #

              And Marvel is no better. Remember how Peter Parker’s marriage to Mary-Jane was retroactively annulled by the most ridiculous plot device ever?

              September 8, 2013
              • Remember how Peter Parker’s marriage to Mary-Jane was retroactively annulled by the most ridiculous plot device ever?

                No. I don’t. Because I largely gave up on Marvel about the same time I gave up on DC. There’s only so much unrelieved angst and misery I can take.

                September 8, 2013
              • Eamon #

                I honestly hadn’t heard about that. I left that universe many a moon ago.

                But knowing it now…it’s depressing. I have the marriage issue in a box somewhere, I was an avid fan at the time and living with the canted brain, especially at that time, I found the marriage and fulfillment of Peter and Mary Jane to be fantastic. And good. And right.

                Bummer.

                September 8, 2013
      • snelson134 #

        Although, per Larry Niven, that affair would make more sense than a marriage that couldn’t be consummated….

        September 8, 2013
        • Larry Niven’s piece was funny but, frankly, ignores the many in-canon ways to temporarily de-power Superman (and any putative offspring as well).

          September 8, 2013
  18. Sam L. #

    What? Heinlein hated women? What fool said that? Clearly, never read the biography “In Dialog With His Century”, or was deliberately misreading his books. Glory Road, anyone?

    September 8, 2013
    • It’s the mantra of the “right thinking” folks and feminists now. Heinlein hated women. If you say it long enough and loud enough, they might just let you into their club.

      September 8, 2013
      • And heaven help you if you’ve actually READ Heinlein, they might never let you in the club.

        September 9, 2013
  19. Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter #

    But the corporate suits said no and that was the final straw that broke the back of the current creative team for Batwoman. They will be leaving after issue #26 in December.

    Good for them. You have to stand up for what you believe in.

    As to SF&F being all white male, well, there was a time it tended to be that way. Like back in the thirties, when Pulp Magazines were all the rage. These days, well, I know more women writing SF&F than men.

    Even back in the pulp days, there were a lot of women writing. C. L. Moore was fantastic. Andre Norton was a bit later than the pulp years, but one hell of a writer. And there are a whole ton more.

    Let’s face it – you can’t do much about stupid. And this writer appears to have stupid down real well.

    Wayne

    September 9, 2013
  20. Maybe nobody will see this, but I thought I would like to show what one of my favorite artists did with the contest requirements.
    http://jollyjack.deviantart.com/art/Quinnicide-399525619
    It’s actually quite good, and his rationale for how he handled the 4th panel without showing a damned thing is very good.

    September 11, 2013
    • They are good panels and I love the response to the 4th panel!

      September 11, 2013
  21. Ahh Borderlands. I love both the original and the sequel. The funny thing about the ridiculous outrage over the Tiny Tina character is the lead writer Anthony Burch https://twitter.com/reverendanthony was falling over himself to be inclusive in countless other cases. Regardless, he is a hilarious writer.

    I don’t follow comics so I can’t comment on the rest of your post. I do have fond memories of the Batman animated series of the 90’s.

    September 11, 2013
    • I love Borderlands 2 and thank my son for turning me on to it. I haven’t finished the original Borderlands yet, but have to admit it is a lot of fun. The writing, especially in B2 is hysterical and it is one of the few games where I want to know the backstory for the characters as well as what happens to them after the game is over. And, btw, the DLC for Tiny Tina in Borderlands 2 is a stroke of genius. Talk about a genre mashup.

      September 11, 2013
      • Oh yes! I preordered the sequel’s story dlc packs based on my satisfaction with the previous ones. Alas, I’ve barely finished Cap’n Scarlett’s DLC… hardly any time for gaming since I graduated from college. Playing the Tiny Tina adventure is on the top of my list for when I can kill a weekend LAN’ing it up with my friends.

        September 11, 2013
        • I think you’ll enjoy it. There are some “interesting” enemies in it. Plus, if you’ve finally leveled up so much you have nothing to do with your eridium, after you finish the dlc, you’ll find you now have a new use for those little purple bars.

          September 11, 2013

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