Just when you thought it was safe…

…to go back to the Internets, along comes some new extreme of crazy to throw you off what you’re supposed to be doing (in my case writing and whatever research I need for said writing).

(Gratuitious Princess Bride Reference) Let me explain… no. There is too much. Let me sum up… (end GPBR)

A bit over a week ago, post showed up on Tor.com about “Post-Binary Gender in SF” . This is not merely multiple levels of fail, it’s multiple levels of badly written fail – and that’s just the blog title. Maybe it’s just my inner math geek showing up – or possibly my inner computer geek – but my first reaction was “why would anyone want to count gender in ternary? Isn’t binary, octal, decimal or hex good enough?” Then I wondered who wanted to snail-mail binary genders. Or did they want to nail them to pieces of wood? This was about when I realized I was a bit too tired and walked away before my mind generated something I’d really regret.

Still. Leaving aside the little matter that “Gender” ain’t “binary” in the first place – it’s ternary: male, female, and neuter (and that goes whether you’re talking grammar or sex). It’s also a multimodal distribution (for the math-challenged that means that in any population you’re going to get more than one big cluster) with a big somewhere close to the female end of the triangle, another big peak somewhere close to the male end of the triangle, and a much smaller one at the neuter end. You know, a bit like this (yeah, it’s crude. About 30 seconds with Google Draw crude):
How is that “binary”? Or discriminatory? Or did the author of this piece have some kind of grudge against biology for not making the triangle nice and even and pink?

Naturally it got fisked. Thoroughly.

One of the more entertaining fiskifications (shut up, it totally is a word) was authored by the redoubtable Larry Correia (you don’t think he’s redoubtable? Just look at the man. Plug him into a gap in your fortificatons and nothing gets through – and that’s before he takes out the hardware and starts shooting. Oh, yeah, and he’s scary smart, too). Go read it. Just try to come back here for the next installment in the fisky-fisk-fest.

Then the fun started. The Most PC Author In The Universe (otherwise known as Jim C. Hines) attempted to fisk Correia. As one might expect the fisk was more of a fizzle, since Hines as a writer has the hitting power of a wet paper bag. No, wait, I mis-spoke. He doesn‘t have the hitting power of a wet paper bag. Feel free to go read that, too, complete with the warning against reading the scary scary comments on Correia’s post.

Naturally, Correia was more than a bit amused by this and decided to fisk the fizzle of his first fisk , complete with the observation that Hines’s followers (does that make them Hineys? Sorry… couldn’t resist) are “petitioning” Correia’s publisher (Baen, of course. Like anyone else would touch him even though he sells mega copies) to distance themselves from the terrible things Correia is saying.

Okay. Aside from hoping someone warned Toni Weisskopf so she didn’t bust something laughing, here we have a lovely example of wet paper bag bullying. The Hineys can’t win the argument (hell, they’re not on the same planet as the argument) so they try to push the other party’s “boss” (for publisher values of boss) into squashing the terrible threat they make such agonized noises about.

Yay them. They can petition someone for a boycott. Gosh, Correia might have non-PC cooties. He has to be stopped!

And all because some idiot thinks that the default option for a character shouldn’t be male or female?

Let’s go back to biology shall we? Not even Biology 101, more rudimentary than that. Male and female are the default values for human or human-based (elves, dwarves, humanoid aliens, cats, dogs, etc) because biologically male or female are the default values in any population of chordates (also most of the arthropods, and a fair chunk of the rest of the animal kingdom. As well as a goodly number of plants). If they weren’t it wouldn’t stay a population for long. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a character who fits elsewhere in that triangle of physical sex. Of course you can. But if you do it to buck the “binary gender” norm, well, yawn. Here’s a clue: if you could do a search replace of every reference to your character from “him” to “her” or “it” and it wouldn’t make a bit of difference to the story, you didn’t write a character, you wrote something that would be flattered to be called cardboard. And yes, it almost for sure sucks more than a black hole on steroids.

I’m almost afraid to find out what the next chapter in the sorry saga of the Binary Gender Fisk-Fest is going to be.

188 thoughts on “Just when you thought it was safe…

  1. Sigh. I use the speculative genre to play with characters who have non-standard sexual identities. My universe is founded on the concept of alien intelligences who modify human beings for their own purposes, and sexual identity is a big part of our humanity, I assume that it would be changed along with everything else.

    I count William Burroughs, Clive Barker, and Samuel Delany among my major influences, all of whom were are are homosexual and often play with gender and sexual identities in their work.

    I do this because I like playing with my own and other’s preconceptions and also, if I’m honest, because I kind of like writing weird sex scenes.

    I don’t do it to “educate” or “enlighten” or “inform” my readers, and I don’t expect any praise for being “progressive”. I don’t ask for any special pleading for my books because some of my characters are hermaphroditic human plant hybrids. I don’t write “gay” characters or “straight” characters or “omnisexual” characters, I write characters. A person’s sexuality is part of who they are, but it’s not the most important part or even relevant to the plot all that often.

    I do sometimes think that it would be nice to be able to cash in on the sexual ambiguity of many of my characters and get some columnist to tell everyone to support my work because I “challenge the binary gender paradigm” or something. On the other hand, my work is also very individualist and anti-statist, so it probably wouldn’t work.

    Oh, well.

    1. This whole thing has been beyond ridiculous. The original poster, and Hines, remind me of toddlers screaming and stamping until their faces turn red over the whole non-issue. And being egregiously racist and sexist while they do so. I’ve debated a few times eliminating photos of myself from the internet, so no one can know I’m female and give me stuff just because I was born this way. NO thank you, I’d rather earn it with my gray matter.

      And Kate, that graph? My, what big ovaries you have. Explains so much. But I do have a question? Why aren’t they brass ones?

          1. Considering the genre, should not balls be, say, gold-pressed latinum ?? Mind you, to retrieve such, it would be a bit of a trek, , ,

            1. It’s a little easier to get hold of titanium, and the commute isn’t nearly so difficult.

      1. The PC folks have rather a record of accusing others of what they disguise beneath their oh-so-sensitive language. And I’m another one who’d rather earn what I get on its merits and not because I got gifted with a hoo-haa.

        And of course they’re not brass! Like Amanda says, they’re titanium.

        1. For instance, PC leftists who shriek in horror and cry “slut shaming” if anyone is even remotely critical of the sexual morals of anyone on the Left, but flock to accuse Sarah Palin and both her daughters of being trollops based on the fact that one of her daughters got pregnant out of wedlock. Which is to say, not only “slut” shaming (for behavior that wasn’t all that “sluttish”, as no one actually accused the pregnant girl of sleeping around) but extending it to the concept of familial dishonor.


          1. Pretty much, yes. And it’s not hypocrisy (just ask them) because THEY are Enlightened, therefore anything they do/say is proper.

        2. You know what’s freaking hilarious there, Kate? Hines said, “Okay, I’m not sure how Mr. Kratman making offhand comments about wanting to nuke a German city ends up with another commenter apologizing to him…” And he said it because he really didn’t understand it. It was EASY! I just took the false outrage and race cards, and played them…just like every liplepr does. And the silly twat only knew that someone had to grovel and apologize when that happened and, since I plainly wasn’t going to, she’d have to.

          And he _can’t_ see it. Isn’t that hilarious?

          1. Oh, it’s priceless. They really can’t handle it when someone plays their game better than they do.

            1. Kind of like the fake mastercard ad where the boyfriend leans against the button for the intercom outside the girlfriend’s front door; as you say, “priceless.”

    2. As everyone who reads me knows, I also play with the characters sexuality — okay, with less worldbuilding excuse than you have. From a gender shifter (Quicksilver in the Shakespeare books) to a person falling in love with a dragon in a short story, and then… well… there’s SOME novels of mine that don’t have a gay character, but off the top of my head I can’t think of them.
      In my case it’s because the characters that speak best to me have secrets (Shape shifters, sexual secrets, etc.)
      Do I believe this should be the default? WHY? I write to entertain readers and feed my family. If I wanted to preach I’d get a degree in divinity.

      1. …but you see – the poor little birdie at Tor didn’t know about all your non-default gender viewpoints, or many others (even though she wasn’t that young or something) – probably because while yours and many other stories met the checklist, they still had that evil worldview they cannot accept.

        1. I am still entirely at a loss as to how alternative sexuality became linked to big government. The way I see it, I don’t want a government with enough power that it can criminalize other people’s opinions of my lifestyle choices, I want a government that knows that it has no business issuing diktats regarding anybody’s lifestyle choices.

          People who share my convictions are far more tolerant of my passions than people who share passions are of my convictions.

          1. Oh, that’s easy.

            First because it’s correlated with other experiments in free-living, which often prove the good sense of the original rules, and therefore they love the Big Government because it provides the medical treatment, the welfare, the subsidized housing, etc.

            Second, because their sexual acts in particular have costs that they want Big Government to alleviate: Social Security to compensate for a lack of children, or welfare for the single-parent household produced by their whirligig of partners.

            1. Actually it’s probably more like the reason so many Odds lean left – chances are anyone sufficiently different from the majority – whether the difference is sexuality (the base preferences seem to be hard-wired but the expression of them isn’t – those who could lean either way will likely follow the norms if the penalties are horrific but those who are at the extremes can’t (or there wouldn’t be a “need” for places like Iran to execute them)), brainpower, geekiness or something else – has been bullied or otherwise victimized, usually as a child. It’s hardly surprising that a child in that situation is going to want the authorities to step in and fix things for them. If the authorities don’t, then obviously (to a child) bigger authorities are needed.

              A lot of people never get past that idea, and the biggest visible authority around is the government.

        2. Oh, we Evil Ultra-Conservative Types (stop bloody laughing, you! These folks classify anything right of Lenin as ultraconservative. Bloody useless for accurately assessing viewpoints, but makes a handy tool for demonization) (I do not want to know why my spellcheck wants to change that to demonetization. Really I don’t). Er.

          We Evil Ultra-Conservative Types can’t *possibly* write anything involving a non-standard gender default because we’re all homophobic or something. Just ask the PC types, they’ll tell you. They know more about us than we do ourselves, all about the evil we do and think – because that’s all they look for from us, and as anyone who’s looked for sexual references in a book knows: “Seek and ye shall find”

          1. Well, I probably do count as a social conservative.

            A fair amount of people here do come off as to my left. I have also argued that Jefferson Finis Davis should be classified as a leftist, for reasons having nothing to do with the cross dressing.

            As far as reading goes, a story is a story.

            As far as writing goes, I’ve never gotten any of my really experimental stuff in shape to speak of.

            1. A story is a story, yes. A good story is a good story. And your personal viewpoint doesn’t bother me in the slightest as long as you’re not trying to force me to follow it – same as I’m not trying to force you to follow mine.

          2. Heh. Ultraconservative and fascist have taken on whole new meanings in the net. Lately I have been guessing that if somebody gets accused of being ‘fascist’ in most cases it means ‘likes guns’, or at least talks favorably of the right to own and carry them. Yep, other opinions do lead to that accusation (like ‘doesn’t agree with me’) but one of the favored triggers seems to be gun rights. Funny, in a way, considering how most fascist states dealt with that issue.

        1. Yup. I’ve heard some of these types actually *say* (to approving murmurs) that their role is to enlighten readers.

          My view is that no, that’s what the light switch does.

      2. My three most recent story lines involve a Reincarnation Romance between two straight females, one of whom was male and married to the other in a past life; a sweet shy girl of high birth who just happens to be the secret offspring of an alien shapeshifting tyrant; and a borderline sociopathic asexual narcissist stage magician who may be the secret hope of her whole realm. So mm, not much sexual normality there.

        Not much Leftism, either.

            1. Fanfic can do that. That’s part of why the filing the serial numbers post I wrote happened.

    3. Misha, your problem is you want to write neat stories that happen to slip in a bit of thought-provoking. You are supposed to pound message at your readers and add a bit of magic or faux-tech to show that you’re writing sci-fi or fantasy. Or at least, I think that’s the formula. I’m a cisfemale heteronormative person of pallor, so my understanding may be totally wrong.

      1. I believe so. The pounding is supposed to involve an orifice not normally used for the purpose, too.

      2. I am a person of beigitude. I think that means you’re supposed to feel guilty now. (Actually when I tan I’m more the color of golden butter. Otherwise I’m sort of greenish. BUT Larry says we’re people of beigitude and “Swarthy menaces” and that’s a fight I won’t pick.)

            1. I need to have a character claim himself/herself/itself to be “The Swarthy Menace”, just for giggles.

              1. There is a member of Baen’s Bar (Arun) that has the title “The Swarthy Menace” bestowed on him in the Kratskellar by the Colonel.

                Well, “May the Schwartz be with you.”

                Arun, I officially dub thee “The swarthy Menace.” Yolanda was holding out for that as a nickname, but she’ll just have to make do with “swarthy and hot.” Me, I have to spend anything up to six weeks in the desert before I become properly swarthy, since I’m only part “Schwartz” and part gypsy.


                This came about due to a left winger from Space Babies claimed Arun was afraid of the Swarthy Menace while debating one of the Colonels books. What made it funny is that Arun is from India

                1. That’s delightful! I’d have to have a character do the Swarthy Menace thing because I don’t swarth – I go red and start flaking (and I’m flaky enough)

            1. But if I can’t say things like “person of choler” I’ll become a person of melancholy. 😉

          1. No. I used to wonder what “olive” was and why it was called that. Then I started painting portraits. Guess what? If you’re an olive skinned person, your shadowed areas (stop laughing, you) around the eyes and nose, I mean, will take some green to look right.

    4. As always playing with preconceptions to see where they go and get to write weird sex scenes is one thing. Insisting that everyone does that because you think that’s how it ought to be… That’s what the Tor twit is doing.

      Sod that. A good story with good characters is a good story with good characters. If one or more of them happens to be gay, omnisexual or an uplifted snail that duels for the right to penetrate with its dick, so be it.

      Alas, I also usually wind up very individualist and anti-statist, so I’m not going anywhere with that bandwagon either.

  2. All I could think, of the original article, was that she must not read very much. I mean, SF? And she thinks there’s nothing but white bread gender?

    1. Honestly, Pam, I think she wants to do away with “white bread gender” because it isn’t “enlightened”. We must all be enlightened and agree with what she says, after all. What really gets to me is that Tor is endorsing this by giving her a regular blog on the issue.

        1. Thp!

          Oh wait, under today’s standards, I could claim my Native American heritage even though I look like I could have just stepped off the boat from Ireland or parts of Germany. Kewl 😉

          1. I remember in the 90’s, it seemed that every guy in school was mixed or bi-racial (they were going back 1/32nd Cherokee, and because they’re inquisitive, they had to be Cherokee, because Cherokee are naturally inquisitive (no, I’m not making this up)) instead of just saying “white”. I actually used to piss my teachers off when I would say “I’m Spanish, related to the Hapsburgs, so I’m white” and watch their heads explode.

            Ah, good times.

        2. What guilt? Besides I’m not white. I’m a light pinkish cream with red splotches where the cat was kneading and forgot humans don’t have fur.

              1. Wayne. I’m so disappointed. That’s pretty vanilla for the folks around here. Except I was a kid at the time which would negate the reason for the whole exercise, and…well… ew. So Sarah (or anyone else), is there a way to refer to that particular South American country without implying pronogaffic tonsorial excesses? (totally a word…) The joke herein is not the movie, or three shakes and a *comprehensive* haircut, but the fact that people from that country look like pretty much everybody. That is, from pygmies to Danes and everyone in between, around, above and through.

        3. I suppose it’s one sort of showing off – enough money, enough time, well educated (or has had the time and the money to get credentialed), and any normal person wants to make clear how well off they really are, unfortunately it has become bad manners to talk about it (that is what the unwashed lottery winners do, not somebody actually civilized). So, they claim to feel very guilty about it, which at the same time of course makes it very clear that they are oh so well off. The richer you are the more guilty you claim to feel. Sneaky.

          1. “White privilege” is just one or two memetic mutations away from re-evolving into “white supremacy.” It shares the basic white-supremacist assumptions, then claims that this means that whites have a responsibility to be extra understanding.

      1. Well, it may just be a matter of getting rid of all that white male privilege. Surely she isn’t Victorian and repressed? I mean, she might consider ordinary sex boring, but as long as the woman was in control, she could hardly object, right?

        Really, I’m almost afraid of the reaction if any of those people read my stuff. What if they like it? How could I ever look at myself in the mirror again?

      1. Yeah, only they missed the connection and they’re hitting the wrong universe anyway. They wanted the Imaginary Marxist Paradise, four universes down.

    2. Evidently the writer of the piece never heard of Theodore Sturgeon or Phillip Jose Farmer or Tannith Lee or Elizabeth Scarborough or Jo Clayton or Steven Barnes or David Gerrold or Bruce Sterling or China Mieville or Jack Chalker or George Alec Effinger or…

    3. Well, of course not! She’s not going to read anything written by evil old (and sometimes dead) white men, is she? She might get normative gender cooties.

      1. Or anything written by white women! Who are white – but are women, so they’re ok … or, or by men! Who are brown. Or at least warm beige … but have a penis, so are bad! But, unless …

    4. I’ve been reading this claim that Science Fiction was all about white male heterosexuals since before it was fashionable to even stick the word “cisgendered” in there, and I have always wondered just what science fiction they are talking about. And I’ve never gotten a straight answer from the critics on this, ever, in 15 years of my asking this question.

  3. I wonder how many people joined Larry’s Crusade to End Puppy Related Sadness (aka his Hugo campaign) after this.

    1. But, but, but, aren’t we supposed to join the crowd that wants to strip him of his SFWA membership (if he has one) and make sure he can never defile the Hugo with his evil malesness? (yes, snark runs high in this comment)

      1. He doesn’t. He and Howard Taylor had an argument about it on twitter in the wake of the Vox Day fiasco.

        1. I suspect that was the only time he was ever unhappy about not having one. Because he couldn’t resign in protest.

      2. I believe that’s what the Feminist Glittery Hoo Haas want us to do. Funny that. They’re against the guy who’s prevented an uncountable number of attacks on real woman by teaching said real woman how to defend themselves with nasty nasty gun thingies, and support the one who thinks talking about it is the way to make things right.

        1. …talking about it is the way to make things right.

          Because no one who’s bigger and stronger and intent on doing bad things would just either ignore the talk or beat the person talking until they shut up, then go ahead and do the bad things anyway, right?

      1. Some respect, please. Remember that mother Gaia is a mean b*tch who rewards the strong, and has not problems whatsoever wiping out whole species if they start to show signs of weakness (probably she will sit back with a bowl of popcorn and observe with interest while her minions of the moment do the deed). That’s grrrl power. (Mother Gaia may be an alias for Kali).

        1. Oh, I know, I know! I grew up in Australia – where if it’s not a drought it’s a flood and you can do everything right and still have mother Gaia clean your clock.

  4. The Hugo campaign was pathetic. If he thinks his conservative views are the reason for his not being nominated or possible never winning one- it’s laughable. I say this as a conservative who loves Heinlein and OS Card. Seriously, if he had any talent he wouldn’t need to continually nag us about liberal bias. Want to get noticed? Write something less one dimensional and hackneyed.

    1. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Fortunately for Larry’s pocketbook, there are a vast number of readers who disagree with you. Fortunately for my enjoyment, I disagree with you as well. I will take Larry’s writing – which is not one dimensional. Have you read his Grimnoir series? — any day over something like Red Shirt. But that’s just me.

      As for there being a liberal bias in publishing, whether you want to admit it or not, there is. But, since I’m sure nothing I say will change your mind, I’ll just go back to my own writing and hope that one day I am as successful as Larry with his “one dimensional and hackneyed” writing.

          1. Well, he COULD give it to Himes. Jim appears to be the sort who LIKES cylindrical vaguely-pointed objects with convenient handles at one end. . ..

            1. I’m disappointed in you. If you’re going to insult someone, get their name right at least. It strengthens your insult.

              Unless, you know, it was deliberate.

              1. I”m sure Hines and all the Hineys would know just what to do with a pointy shiny thing that’s *just* the right shape…

                  1. But pronunciation is different. Japanese hi (pronounced he, just like the male pronoun in English) and me (meh, pronounced to rhyme with gay? — soft e, okay?) is nowhere near Hines (high-n’s? hard i, right?). Transliteration of Japanese into romaji (roman alphabet) is pretty well set, but it doesn’t match American expectations. He-may is probably closer. I suspect most Americans look at hime and mispronounce it as high-mmm. (This has been your daily PSA introduction to “just because you can read the transliteration does not mean you know how to pronounce it.” Next, we will tackle karaoke 🙂

    2. What an interesting combination, Heinlein and OSC. You are aware that OSC isn’t really conservative? Just because he’s the pet villain nowadays doesn’t automatically make him one. And obviously, you haven’t read much Correia. The Hard Magic series is damn good, and MHI has been maturing since the first book, which coincidentally was his first book. Fortunately, we rarely judge an author’s career by their debut novel, unless, of course, that author has only ever written one novel and rested on their laurels.

      1. AND… as noted leftist Jack Chalker pointed out to me in my more naive yoot, Heinlein was a good deal more liberal than either right or left want to admit.


        1. Yup. He was an interesting and complex person with interesting and complex views. He didn’t get them out of anyone’s can.

      2. The part that really makes me mad about the OSC controversy is that so many of his detractors aren’t responding to what he actually said, but what other people said that he said. It’s lazy and infuriating.

        1. Well, duh. Going back to the source is WORK. It’s hard enough constantly proving your credentials without having to go check the source. And heaven forbid the people who say what he said might actually be… horrors!.. .wrong….

      3. But… but… if it doesn’t come with the Feminist Glittery Hoo Haa stamp of approval (I don’t want to see that stamp. Just saying…) it *must* be conservative…

    3. You have obviously never read a Larry Correia book. Whose opinion are you quoting, here, Jan? Do you ever read any of the Hugo **nominees**? And how does one get nominated *for* a Hugo? Any idea? Hint: PC counts more than content or talent.

    4. He and several other people I trust have it on good authority that at least one other author they know was nominated for at least one fairly major award as a newly published author, until an active campaign against them was started against them for having the evil worldview.

      I and others have personally seen the sneering and condescension towards Heinlein, Pournelle, many other grandmasters, and Baen. For more examples of groupthink, look at the SFWA and the Resnick/Malzberg (iirc) kerfluffle.

    5. The Hugo campaign he ran last year got every nominee he championed (other than his own–and that failed by only a handful of votes) on the short list.
      This isn’t to mention the various accusations about ballots being discarded or otherwise mistreated.

      Just noting that he *has* been noticed. Enough that nearly everything he puts out is an instant bestseller.
      And as one of those readers, I would have to strongly disagree with your characterizations of his work as one-dimensional and hackneyed. His Grimnoir trilogy, in particular, is one of the strongest series I’ve read in the past two decades.

    6. Everyone else has hammered your facts.

      Now a few observations – I’ve yet to see a Hugo committee that isn’t so far to the left they put Stalin in “ultra-right” territory. Now, who tallies the nominations? How easy is it to “accidentally” lose a few – the postal service is so unreliable these days…

      I’m not saying they do this. I’m saying it’s possible and not very difficult.

      Of course, the one that amuses me most, dear Jan, is how you spout typical PC bullshit while claiming to be a conservative. Methinks thou protesteth overmuch.

      1. Of course, the one that amuses me most, dear Jan, is how you spout typical PC bullshit while claiming to be a conservative.

        Oh, that’s become the method du jour for attacking anything they don’t like. Come in, claim to be on the side the person supposedly is attached to, and then act like they have betrayed their team.

        1. And yet they think the rest of us don’t notice it. I swear if we were as dumb and violent as they think we are there wouldn’t be any of them left.

  5. Applauds.

    Ever since studying Latin, I have become comfortable with the genders of male, female, and neuter. (Yes, I knew about them before Latin, but Latin really refined things, although probably to a smaller degree than it did my formal understanding of grammar in general.) I enjoy using he, she, and it, where appropriate, to describe my characters.

    1. Well, yes. English doesn’t make much of them (I remember with a kind of bemused horror my high school German lessons where I was trying to figure out WHY the different words for female all had different grammatical genders. And that was before considering the gender of inanimate objects) but they do still serve a purpose.

      1. Frankly, I still do have bit of a problem with deciding whether I should use ‘he’ or ‘she’. Finnish has only ‘hän’. Finding out that other languages differentiate between the genders, as a rule, was weird (like, what if you don’t know which gender? What if it’s an imaginary example, should you decide which gender?). You can do that with some words in Finnish, to some extent, but then it’s usually a choice and usually a way to point out that somebody is, specifically, a female, and considered quite old-fashioned. Like adding -tar or -tär to the end of a word which describes an occupation: ‘tarjoilija’ means ‘waiter’, and like the English word, can be used for waiters of both sexes, ‘tarjoilijatar’ means ‘waitress’. But, as said, those forms have not been officially used for decades.

        And it felt weird using ‘he’ as the default when there are two, and I have studied German although since I haven’t used it for decades I have forgotten most of it, but yep, English was bad enough, German… I do think there are points for using something gender neutral. But then I would, wouldn’t I, since that is what I learned first. 🙂

        1. It just proves that which pronoun you use is a cultural thing and has nothing to do with sexism or any other ism. Having everything neuter sounds pretty good to me!

  6. If they honestly think Baen, of all publishers, is going to do their dirty work for them, they’re in for a rude shock.

    1. More likely they figure they can use Baen not doing their dirty work as another reason why Baen is EVIL!

      1. I doubt they’ve thought it through that far. They will use Baen’s non-response as another way to claim Baen is evil, but they aren’t planning on it. In order to plan on it, they would actually have to understand how Baen operates.

      2. What is funny about that meme of Baen is nothing but “right wingers” and EVIL is that Eric Flint, a self proclaimed Socialist and at one time a member of the Socialist Workers Party, and he seems to have done well there.

        1. Oh, I know. Baen publishes authors all over the political spectrum. Which of course makes them evil and doubleplusungood, because they’re not keeping it to the “approved” views.

  7. The stupidity is what concerns me. I started reading S-F in the early fifties. Gender shifting has been done forever and ever. She isn’t recommending anything new; except, that it should be the main focus rather than story as Larry pointed out. And denied by Hines. I like the ‘Hineys’ that’s cute and very descriptive.
    Larry and Vox Day said/implied it would hurt sales by new authors and SF because it gives the wrong impression of Science Fiction. As a writer who has never been published but may enter the field, I have mixed feelings. They have a point but, writing is competitive when it hits the bookshelves. That’s why you need good covers. Get that reader to pick up yours instead of the book next to it. If Tor is losing sales in the field and encouraging new writers to follow their example, that means less competition in the Indie market. Larry’s book made it in the independent field first. Simply because readers could not find what they wanted with Tor and went to Amazon.
    Therefore, I find Alex of Tor to be giving good advice to my possible competition. Heedless to say, I won’t follow it and will continue to work toward entertainment first.

    1. Oh, it’s been done a lot earlier than the fifties – you just need to know how to read around the conventions of the era to get that was it was.

      And yes, it does leave more room for the rest of us, but I’d rather not see any writer crippled by following that piece of drek

      1. Lovecraft’s “The Thing On The Doorstep,” written and published in the 1930’s, has some of the nastiest gender shifting ever seen, especially when one considers all the implications. And Lovecraft puts in a few seemingly throwaway lines which are MEANT to invoke Fridge Horror.

        1. Oh hell yes. Then you can go way back to the likes of Carmila (lesbian vampire romance). But these twits think they invented sex, so…

          1. Not science fiction, but Wilkie Collins The Woman In White (1860’s thriller about anarchist conspirators seeking a fortune through murder) ends with what has been interpreted as a polyamorous bisexual group marriage, though legally-speaking only one man and one woman get married (the second woman is their incredibly dear friend who seems to be at least romantically, if not sexually, involved with both of them). All three of them are clear heroes of the tale, too.

      2. E. E. “Doc” Smith ends the Lensman series with a very strong implication of his final hero and heroines living happily ever after, or at least for many centuries until the next crisis, in a self-married incestuous polygynistic harem. How’s that for “transgressive,” silly Leftists? But then you probably didn’t notice what happened, you were too busy claiming that all the inhabitants of Earth centuries after an atomic war were secretly white, no matter what their names were.

  8. This controversy is already being reframed as being a bunch of mean white men complaining about “too many women and liberals in SF”. In other words, the SF front of the “War on Women”. The fact that Sarah, Kate and Cedar are among those fisking Alex of Tor is being overlooked.

    1. I didn’t even both with fisking. I’ve written here and elsewhere about gender in fiction, and the ridiculousness of manipulating story into message and then expecting to lure readers into reading it and changing their minds. The only people who read message fiction are people who already agree with that point of view.

        1. (checks) Nope. All lady-parts are where they’re supposed to be, doing what they’re supposed to be doing.

  9. The real diversity problem in SF is intellectual diversity. Right now, we have a small group (Scalzi, Hines, Jemisin) who are intent on pursuing irrelevance at all costs and are determined to bring the whole genre down with them.

    1. That’s actually not fair, if you really look at it. Scalzi’s milSF work is very much not a piece of literati fiction. It could have been at Baen, quite frankly, if Scalzi had wanted it there. It’s comparable to Ringo’s early works.

      Now, what Scalzi has done _after_ his Old Man’s War series is, well, literati crap. I gave “Redshirts” a fair review because the first half was decent enough, playing upon TV tropes in Star Trek while still having a humorous slant to it. His experimentation at the second half of the book was… well, weird, and I think it was what got him the Hugo.

      I enjoy Hines’ books as well. They’re light, fun reads (especially his Jig the Goblin stuff). I don’t think they are personally pursuing irrelevence so much as hoping that by championing their causes (while writing stuff that isn’t quite what they’re championing), they hope to affect a change that fits their worldview. And both Hines and Scalzi make enough money and are successful enough writers to take such a risk.

      Do I think they’re right? Not in my own personal views, no. But they are making money doing it, and one of the things I’ve watched as I’ve started my career in this trade is to watch where the money goes. Larry and John are out-earning Scalzi and Hines, and the Baen authors work with a publishing company with less of a reputation of fisking over their writers. I think that, when all is said and done, all that matters will be the sales figures and not the politics.

      At least, that’s my hope.

      1. My problem isn’t them exactly, it’s the fact that they seem to be wielding (or trying to wield) a disproportionate amount of power over SF in general.

      2. I’ve read Goblin War, Goblin Hero, but not any others of his. The Stepsister Scheme and his other fairy tales looked like what I know can call Message Fiction (to describe where the message zombifies and kills all hope of good story living there). Also Old Man’s War, but could not suffer Redshirts.

        Neither author is as much to my taste as Correia and the other authors mentioned here (and those who write here, as well- I swear for the longest time I thought Dave Freer was Big Name Author Guy Making Giant Piles of Money, because I’d read all of one of his books before finding this place and it was that good). Goblin War and Old Man’s War both show a bit of fumbliness that new authors seem to pick up, but the story was engaging enough that it didn’t matter. Short version, surprise, good story covers many sins.

        I had no real idea of any writer’s politics until recently. Not something that mattered to this reader. Message Fic got categorized under “Meh” before any other syllables engaged. Mehssage Fiction. It just wasn’t all that interesting.

        Speaking of interesting, if someone is bored and wants a blog post topic, consider what today’s pulp/popular fiction is, and why that’s so. Traditionally, popular entertainment (stuff that is liked, followed, bought) by the largest number and widest range isn’t “enlightening,” it’s entertaining. When you provide the fun, people provide the wads of cash, as it were. That’s a point that seems to be missed a lot by a certain segment of the writing population these days… *chuckle*

    2. The problem with establishment SF and intellectual diversity, is that using that establishment SF has precious little intellect and less diversity as measured by anything more meaningful than a fraction of a percent of DNA encoding.

  10. Kate, don’t you think hineys is a bit lacking in accuracy? I mean actual hineys are quite useful, and can even be shapely and attractive, quite unlike these. I propose whineys as suitable descriptive term. And as for your objection to the title. It’s like ‘Oh Calcutta’ “Why did you call it that?” ‘Well we couldn’t very well call it ‘Oh Bangkok’!” and she couldn’t very well call it ‘I demand only lesbian sf’. And actually I think Larry is wrong to discourage her and the whineys. Firstly it’s a great resource for a list of all the authors no-one should ever waste their money accidentally buying, and secondly it’s a great help to independent authors.

    1. Ah, I know, hineys are important (what I’d sit on without my ample cushion, I don’t know), but that’s what I get for sitting down and ranting 🙂

      And a good list of authors to avoid is indeed helpful.

  11. Your diagram looks like an excellent bikini. I’m so mathematically and grammatically oppressed by it that I need group therapy and a cold shower.

    Then I realize that Hines is probably going to do his next pose wearing your creation, and I don’t need the cold shower anymore. Ever.

    1. Oh dear Dog. MY EYES! Just the thought of that has me wanting to dig my eyes out with a spoon…

  12. an author who’s books I like[female] weighed in on Jim Hines fisking of the fisk. Her attitude of course annoyed the ever loving shit out of me. that being said…since I want her to shut up and write more books I told her to get to her word processor and write effing faster! Which for me in the midst of that discussion was being polite. Actually I was extraordinarily polite in the few responses I posted. HUSH! I know it’s shockin to ya’ll but I DO on occasion refrain from verbally ripping the throats out of the terminally stupid and oh so deserving. Here’s a question I posed on Larry’s Fisking of Hines fisking of larry’s fisk.

    I’m confused. Why does Hines hate straight white men? I mean judging by his bio [married with two kids] he’s het. So what’s he got against straight white men and straight white womenly women who jump on those straight white huge penile thingies? I mean the only thing I can figure is he’s a subspecies Closetous Homoeroticus and is taking his inward directed raging rageyness at his own lack of will power and ability to come out of the closet; and misdirecting that raging rageyness at Larry and the rest of us.

    I’m now waiting for Hines to post a fisking of larry’s fisking of hines fisking of larry’s original fisk. If we get to a fifth fisk in this fisking round robin I may just drown myself with a fifth of vodka, because at that point it’s gonna get REALLY fisking confusing.

    1. “Why does Hines hate straight white men? I mean judging by his bio…he’s het. So what’s he got against straight white men…the only thing I can figure is he’s a subspecies Closetous Homoeroticus…”

      I know nothing about Hines, but there is a variety of straight white liberal male who attempts to prove his moral worth by denigrating other straight white males. Sometimes it’s really offensive and sometimes it’s just hilarious (did you see the “conscious men” video on YouTube a few years ago?)

  13. I consider the possibility that Tor adding this blog (author and focus) to their internet presence is penance because of recent events directly involving Tor and the overall genre gender meltdown. I think they’re sacrificing a virgin publicly to mollify the gods.

    From what little I know, which isn’t much, it seems they may be guilty of the sins they’re trying to expiate. As I said on the last thread, the guilty continue to insist on their innocence and cast “us” as the villains.

    Hines (as representative of “them”) has some notion that Correia writes a certain thing, or Sarah, or the other authors named, or anyone else, that it is all white cismales doing buxom blonds, without bothering to actually know. I got the biggest kick out of Correia’s paraphrase and statement:” “Let’s get this mind blowing stuff out there. Yeah, that’ll rock their little bourgeois world!” Okay, dude… They’re SCIENCE FICTION readers. You’re probably not going to stun them with your big shocking ideas.”

    This is Science Fiction.

    The idea that some reader somewhere is going to get uncomfortable with worlds and story settings that present a different way of living, a different mix of races, transformed societies or transformed humanity is, itself, the worst sort of parochial bigotry. No one is going to even blink, not on the left literati end, and not on the…. other… end. (Also not, you know, BINARY.) Who are they planning to shock or transform or enlighten with their big ideas if it’s not this fantasy group of “us” that have to be made fictional in order to *need* it?

    Science Fiction has been pushing these boundaries and presenting non-standard, non-normative societies since its inception. But you know… people feel left out if they can’t be oppressed, I swear.

    1. As happens, my first world — eight books, and now I want to rewrite it — was my answer to TLHOD, only with correct anthropology and more sex. (What can I say? I was in my twenties.) BUT I’m on the right (of Lenin) and believe that we should do what we can to enable self-supporting/self-sustaining individuals, so I’m supposed to be shocked by their stuff, which never really rises above the level of turgid and confused adolescent fantasies. Dude. I was more transgressive at 18 than you’ll ever be!

    2. Love the “This is Science Fiction” bit. For some reason, I’m projecting on them the same mindset as the “Earth 2” producers, who were proud to produce a science fiction show that deliberately avoided having anyone who had any involvement with science fiction working on it. Surely they would produce something amazing that SF creators would never have come up with. Yeah, they would never have come up with something so hackneyed and downright BAD.

      SF has already HAD a sexual revolution, these guys are just sad because they missed it. Send them off to find a used copy of Phillip Jose Farmer’s “The Lovers”.

      Let them go read Maggie Hogarth, she has a three-gendered species.

      It’s been done, it’s been done better than any of them could do it, and besides, what they really want, I guess, is Space Trannies. (“In Space, no one can hear you swish.”) but I can’t see how that advances the plot.

      (Hell, even I wrote some human-alien sex recently, but somehow, I don’t think any of them would like it.)

      1. speaking or earth 2: not only was it pretty bad, but a lot of it was so cliched (at least in print SF) and they had no clue because they’d never read it.

  14. Kate, anyone tell you that you’ve got a snappy and and entertaining writing style? That essay was enjoyable to read. Thanks for being enjoyable 🙂

    1. Thank you, John.

      These essays of mine are rants that happen when something strikes me as ridiculous.

  15. The concept of anyone complaining to Toni about how mean and threatening Larry Correia comes across is without question the funniest thing I’ve run across in weeks. I appreciate the laugh.
    And can’t help but picture Toni doing a fist bump and changing “go Larry!”

  16. Hi Kate! I’m not an author, I am a SciFi reader. A voracious reader. I buy the hardcovers of the authors I like because I don’t want to wait for the paperback. I don’t like libraries (or Kindle), I like to pay money and own the book. Because I can, mostly. Once upon a time I collected comic books too, but since around 1993 I’ve given up comics completely. Because they mostly suck, these days. They’re boring.

    One of the things I’ve noticed is the number of Baen titles popping up in my library. Baen seems to be about the only publisher consistently putting out fun books that I want to read. Not to say there are NO other publishers, just that the trend is pretty loud in my sample.

    One author who’s hardcovers I’ve been buying the last couple of years is Larry Correia. He has a very fun concept in the Monster Hunter series, and another very fun concept in the GrimmNoir series.

    However I also read everything Tanya Huff writes. If not in hardcover, certainly in paperback. Also Ian Banks, (although Mr. Banks was getting pretty preachy/cranky there just before he died.) Because = fun. New ideas, new concepts, new people I give a crap about having adventures, that’s what I pay money for.

    What -don’t- I want to read about in SciFi? Post-binary gender issues. Because = boring. Like the output of Marvel and DC comics these days, its just not an enjoyable experience. I can’t stand being preached at or taken for some type of clod that must molded and shaped by the writer into a more acceptable, more -enlightened- form.

    As Kate said above, if I want to be preached at I’ll go to a tent revival. Just one audience member having my own little rant.

    1. Hi, Phantom! Up until pretty recently, folks like you didn’t have any say except via your wallet – and gee, isn’t it funny how sales have been dropping ever since the PC crowd took over… Except at Baen which said “Up yours” to PC and went right on publishing fun books.

      It’s a shame the other publishers seem to think that folks like you are dumb rednecks who need to be enlightened (and that’s when they’re being polite). There’s so much in the way of fun books happening through independents now that there has to have been a ton of fun books and stories that never got through the PC stranglehold.

  17. [C]omplete with the observation that Hines’s followers (does that make them Hineys? Sorry… couldn’t resist) are “petitioning” Correia’s publisher (Baen, of course. Like anyone else would touch him even though he sells mega copies) to distance themselves from the terrible things Correia is saying.

    I haven’t read all the comments because *gasp* it’s hard to read through the tears *snort* and the abdominal contractions are distracting. *wheeze*

    Leaving aside Baen sanctioning an author because of politics. Can we posit that universe and not fracture something fundamental in physics? (Somebody call Sabrina Chase, or Kent Budge.) Anyroad, what warped world-view makes somebody think that would actually stop Larry Correia? And not, you know, fuel him and the MHN to greater screeds and higher planes of mockery? Somebody think LC, an accountant (and farm boy) can’t figure out how to monetize his popularity as an independent? Really? Dude’s a greedy capitalist (did I mention farm boy), he knows how to use all the pieces and make money off of ’em. He’ll feed them the offal of their own arguments to fatten them up for mockery and then make money auctioning off the bits. Scoop up the mess they leave behind and use it for fertilizer and start all over.

    Smart progs (somewhere, in an alternate reality, that word juxtaposition doesn’t cramp brains) would be begging Baen to keep him on, so he doesn’t get bored and go looking for something more to do…

    Now, I can breath (and see) I’ma gonna go read the rest of the comments…

    1. You’d better make sure you keep food and drink out of your mouth while you’re reading. There are some pointed comments in this thread.

      1. Oh, I learned some time ago: It has ‘Kate Paulk’ at the top – set down the coffee, put the cap back on the water bottle, sandwich on the plate, plate on the table, be prepared to reassure the bewildered dog (Yes, choking cackle-snorts are perfectly normal human noises. No, licking does not heal them.) 😉

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