In Which A Wall Of Text Is Wall of Texted

Apparently people don’t like being told they’re destructive assholes because Toni Weisskopf’s wonderful post on the way SF fandom is tearing itself apart because the precious little darlings can’t stand to have someone disagree with them has attracted some really special, special trolls.

So since I wasn’t going to give Mz Great Wall Of Text Link Whore the satisfaction of linking to her tripe, and the detailed deconstruction of said tripe took a long time and did its own Great Wall Of Text thingy, the entire critiquey-fisky-snark is here.

My comments are normal (as normal as I ever get, anyway). Hers are italicized. Oh, yeah, and I use a fair amount of emphasis snark.
Oh dear. And from a Sara too… It must be that ‘h’ at the end of the name that confers the awesome, because on the strength of this little ramble you really don’t rate a waft past the (non-existent) door of the Scary Sarah Club.

Now, onto your so-precious little ranty-poos.
This is nonsensical, ahistorical, and misleading. There WAS NEVER a point when SF did not engage with world politics. If you think that, you are simply ignorant.

Sweetie, there’s a difference between exploring the implications of current world politics and claiming someone else doesn’t have a place in your club because they disagree with you. Ripping a comment out of the context of… oh, what was that now? Oh yes, fighting over politics tearing what had been a reasonably close community (possibly an ersatz dysfunctional family, but let’s not quibble over that) apart. Now, SF fandom ends up having interesting effects on world politics, but they don’t happen because the fans are having political debates at their get-togethers. Every fan I know is there to get away from the real-world shit and just be him, her, or itself without any pressures.

To quote a post I wrote another time someone got their feathers all a-ruffle about being told they were behaving like an ass (because that’s really where this always starts…I’ve come to assume that any time someone uses the phrase “politically correct” what they are really doing is asserting their God-given right to act like a jerk):

Dear lord almighty. Projecting much? You clearly don’t understand that political correctness in every incarnation I’ve seen is nothing more than lipstick on the Newspeak pig. PC has never – and can’t engage the root cause it purports to be about. Banning “racist” words does not magically make a bigot less bigoted. The bigot just uses other words in public and more than that, starts to figure that the folks he’s bigoted against must be a bunch of useless wimps because they can’t handle a bit of mockery. If it gets really ridiculous, guess what? The bigot gets more bigoted. I’ve seen it happen. As soon as the bigot figures that nothing he, she, or it can do will be good enough for the authorities, he, she, or it (oh, hell with this. I’m portmanteauing it to s.h.it) figures whoever s.h.it’s bigoted against is in with the authorities to beat s.h.it down. Once we get there, a backlash is guaranteed.

“anyone who thinks that science fiction = escapist adventure stories, and (by implication) it’s just these modern blacks and wimmenfolk and gays who want to muck up your perfect Boy’s Life nostalgia genre…hasn’t really been paying attention.

I’d suggest you try making that statement to McCaffrey, Delaney, LeGuin, Zimmer Bradley… Only necromancy is an ugly habit and they’d probably all laugh at you anyway. Not only that, to characterize this debate as being about “modern blacks and wimmenfolk and gays who want to muck up your perfect Boy’s Life nostalgia genre” is misguided at best and salesman-speak (you know, lies) at worst. Nobody here is against blacks, wimminfolk, gays or anyone else of any color, orientation, religious persuasion or anything else writing SF or loving it or being involved in the fandom.

Nobody

What we don’t like is attempts to say we can’t have our Boy’s Own Adventures as well as the fancy-schmanzy stuff. There’s room for both, and we’re fine with that. We’ll mock what we don’t like – or I will because I’m a sarcastic bitch – but I’m never going to say it shouldn’t be written or published, or even that people can’t like it. I – like most of the folks here – just happen to prefer there to be a story with interesting characters (and I don’t give a flying fuck what skin color they have or what they choose to screw). Who wrote it doesn’t matter. They’ll still get my money whether they’re black, white, or sparkling vampires (I will however express doubts on the ability of sparkling vampires to write a story with interesting characters. However if one does and I like it, it gets my money).

Anyways, onwards and… er… not upwards.

The ‘Golden Age’ of science fiction was dominated by people who came of age during and shortly after World War II, many of whom grappled seriously with the implications of nuclear weapons, imperialism, racism, sexism, environmental destruction, political paranoia, and perpetual war. Heinlein (whose issues in other areas I could write a dissertation about, but won’t) wrote a story about sexual harassment on the job called ‘Delilah and the Space Rigger.’ It was published in 1948…when the propaganda push to get women out of the factory and back in the home was in full swing, and hardly anyone else had even heard of the concept. One of the stories in Science Fact/Fiction [a textbook published in the 70s], ‘Disappearing Act’ by Alfred Bester,was a ferocious indictment of militarism which began, ‘This one wasn’t the last war or a war to end war. They called it the War For the American Dream.’ That one was originally published in 1953. Judith Merril’s short story ‘That Only a Mother, ‘ published in 1948, has similar themes and was voted one of the best science fiction short stories of all time.

I’ve read these (a long time ago, I’ll admit). Shorter pieces can sometimes – particularly when written by the likes of Heinlein – get away with hammering readers with their Message. Novels can’t. And shorter pieces do better when they quietly slide the message in between your ribs while you’re caught up with the characters and plot. I’ve read more books than I can count and I own more books than I can count, but the fiction I’ve read that I keep coming back to does not hammer me with a Message. If I wanted that I’d read a bloody sermon. If you want to convince me of something, get me inside the head of someone who believes it.

I grant you that women, people of color, and sexual minorities are often culpable for the promulgation of such notions. However, we have been doing it for at least sixty years. That ship has already blasted off.”

Go home, paragraph. You’re drunk. Seriously, not only does this not make sense, there is no conceivable universe in which this makes sense. It’s a grab-bag of buzz-words designed for the feels not the meaning. If that’s what floats your boat, so be it, but don’t try to tell me it’s informative or educational. I’ll just laugh at you.

Note that I name-checked Heinlein. I’ve read quite a bit of Heinlein…but don’t worship him. Does that mean I “share your values” or not? But my main point here is that anyone who claims to know and revere classic SF authors and assert in the same breath that they didn’t engage with politics is not credible. And, as I wrote in the same post, the issue isn’t actually that Those People insist on being political and spoiling your pretty pristine optimistic visions of the future. It’s that they have political opinions which *differ from yours* and which make you uncomfortable, and have this terrible habit of making cogent arguments to which you are expected to respond, and also acting like they have as much right to read and write and comment on the genre as anybody.

So much fail, so little time… First, this is not the Reformed Church of Heinlein, Western Division. I am not, alas, a deaconess able to advocate that virginity of all sorts is a curable condition. Not yet, anyway.

Second and probably most important, you appear to have missed the entire point of the whole post. You know, the one about fandom tearing itself apart because politics? It doesn’t matter whether author X engaged with politics or not (personally I hope not, because politics is a dirty business at the best of times. I don’t like it. I sure as hell don’t want to get engaged to it). It matters whether readers can enjoy it whether they share those political views or not.

Third, apparently you’ve missed all the places where people here have commented about books they enjoyed and how they enjoyed said books despite disagreeing with the political opinions that leaked through said books. So, you’re not merely wrong, you’re gratuitously, childishly, and offensively wrong and the people who hang at According to Hoyt (and Mad Genius Club) are going to spank you for it – not because they disagree with you but because you went off half-cocked and didn’t do your research. Bad Sara. No cookies for you (yes, this is the Dark Side, and yes, we do have cookies. The cake is a lie, though).

I also think that for someone from Baen…which publishes people like Lois McMaster Bujold…to claim that they are somehow outsiders in the realm of SF publishing industry awards is so disingenuous as to be laughable. Tell me another one.

Oh, tut. I’d love to know where you get your alleged facts from, because I’ve heard them from the demon’s mouth, as it were. I have sat at conventions and heard editors from other houses talking about Baen as though the place was something you’d scrape off your shoe. I’ve heard the same editors discussion how they’re so very, very traumatized because they had to unfriend someone they knew from college because (the horror!) they discovered their old friend was (gasp!) conservative. I’ve also heard these same folks state how they drove a very high selling author from mainstream publishing because they didn’t like his themes or politics (I will name the author in question in the comments if asked – and I’ll also say for the record I find a fair chunk of said author’s work pretty nauseating myself. But he was selling and selling well. He still is, and he’s now getting a lot more than a measly 6% of his cover price, being independent (at least, the last time I looked). Oops.

Oh, yes. These are the people who claim Baen is all about right-wing lunatics (I’m sure Eric Flint would find that a fascinating description of him) and white supremacists (Presumably Larry Correia and of course Sarah Hoyt turned in their Wise Latino/Latina cards when they started with Baen) and racists (er… Just go to a Barfly range day some time. If it doesn’t scare the living crap out of you that these people are there. With – horrors! – guns… Including black, white, polka-dotted (accident with the paintbrush there), male, female, who the hell knows, straight, gay and everything in between in every combination imaginable (and some that shouldn’t be). Not that anyone cares because they’re having too much fun with the hardware.). If you’re going to go spouting the kool-aid, dear, at least check it for rat poison first.

I’m not going to bother with the troll-tastic link you added at the bottom of the Great Wall Of Text to boost your hit count, sweetie. Anyone who reads this far can scootch back to According to Hoyt and find it if they really want to give the poor widdle lonely twollie-wollie attention.

80 comments

  1. Alright, I’ll ask. Who was the author pushed out of mainstream publishing?

    As for the rest, I don’t have much to add except that our special snowflake doesn’t get the difference between SF writers and fandom. They’re two separate entities with similarities in that SF writers are also fans of the genre…or just glittery hoo-haas who think it’s easier to break through here than “literary” fiction.

    So. Much. Fail.

      1. Are you sure that’s the right link? I’m really curious, so I’ve just read the linked page and all the comments, but I don’t think it mentioned the author who was pushed out of mainstream publishing. Lots of authors were mentioned, but not in the context of “got pushed out.”

        Clarification, please?

          1. The only writer I’ve seen mentioned in both of those is that twit who thought J.K. Rowling should quit writing. However, neither Rowling nor whats-he-face have been forced out of traditional publishing and into indie publishing.

            1. John Norman. Yes, his stuff is appalling, but I read stuff from the other side just as appalling. (I blocked out her name and the novel, but there was this woman who wrote of a world in which all men were (properly) enslaved and so everything was peaceful. I think she won awards. I can’t remember her name or the novels, but there is still a dent on the wall of the house three houses ago.) HE however was appalling in the wrong direction and they brag of stopping publishing him even though he was still selling very well.

              1. Gor? Oh yes, that stuff is pretty awful, but has a sufficient following to pay well enough to warrant it being in print at this point.

                Probably shouldn’t have gotten the first deal, but after that? Doesn’t make sense from a business perspective.

                1. IMO, the books are tiresome but the *concept* is hilarious in light of the (claimed) day job of the writer — “John Norman” was supposedly a professor of classics at a small university. So there he is, looking out at the Earnest Young Minds in his classroom and thinking, “Cannon fodder, cannon fodder, slave, evil priest, slave, pirate, slave….” So much for the Leaders of Tomorrow. Their prof thinks swinging swords, scrubbing floors and [ahem] is all most of them are really suited for.

                    1. Yep. Philosophy, though, not classics. PhD from Princeton, former professor at CUNY (retired, I believe, not forced out).

                    2. He seems to have been quite a good professor, too. His record on ratemyprofessors.com fits the pattern you usually see for a first-rate prof. The slackers hated him, the dedicated students loved him. All high ratings usually means that the class is fluff. All low ratings usually means the professor can’t teach. A good solid bimodal distribution is what you want to see (assuming that you actually want to learn something from the class and get value for your money).

                      My favorite was the snowflake who complained about being expected to “think for yourself”. Yeah, can’t have that in a philosophy class, can we?

                    3. I actually met him once at either CastleCon or Evecon in the little Washington (DC). Little old white haired man (And this was the early 90’s). He was about as bemused and perturbed by the people claiming to live a “Gorean” lifestyle as Heinlein was about cults based on SiaSL. And his wife was physically much larger than he. I don’t think it was possible to be any further from what one would imagine him to be based on the books.

                    4. Yep. We have no evidence that Norman actually advocates the Gorean lifestyle, and a fair amount of evidence that he doesn’t. I think he just came up with a set of philosophical principles and then worked out what he thought a society based on those principles would be like (as F&SF writers have been known to do).

                      The Gor books weren’t to my personal taste, but obviously my taste isn’t universally shared. He sure sold a lot of copies.

                2. You can still buy them. They’re up to #33 (at least) “Rebels of Gor” on Amazon. The original run had 25 books over 20 years. I read one or two from the used book store.

              2. They did? Great Ghu, when talked myself into playing “Norman Gorman” in FREE AMAZONS OF GHOR, I had no idea it was a documentary.

  2. I’d also like to mention the oft-overlooked Leigh Brackett and C. L. Moore among Golden Age female SF authors. It was not an all-male field, even back then.

    1. A little later on, we got Andre Norton and James Tiptree, Jr. — don’t let the pseuds fool ya. And don’t forget Zenna Henderson, either.

      1. And before they say pseuds are demeaning, most men writing romance today use female pen names. And they’re about 1/4th of the writers. It was the market expectation…

  3. Using my vast store of useless knowledge, I deduce that the best-selling author you’re talking about is . . . John Norman.

  4. I’ve been a genre fan since I was a boy. We were living in Europe at the time and my father gave me a paperback picked up in an airport. It was the original novelization for Star Wars.

    I was hooked and read everything I could get my hands on.

    When we moved back the states, I haunted the scifi/fantasy aisle at our local library. The late-70s and early-80s were pretty good for a kid in love with the genre. (speaking of the 70s, have you read that Pohl’s Gateway is being turned into a syndicated TV series?)

    What I regret is that I never made it to a con. I had chances, living all over, but never could talk myself into going.

    Jump forward more years than I like to count and I decided to start writing. What sane person does this when publishing has turned on its head and fandom is tearing itself apart?

    The only reason I’d go to a con now was if I had the chance to catch a great writing panel, or one of those sit downs where somebody would give me an honest writing critique. I’m not sure that’s enough to get me through the doors.

    I prefer the virtual settings, like this crazy place. Besides, the costumes are better.

    1. Scott, hie thee over to Baen.com, register in Baen’s Bar (it’s free) and check out the slush threads. I am sort of assuming you’re writing in the SF or fantasy realms, but if I recall just about anything posted will get a fair read and comment. Or send your work straightaway directly to the real Baen submission slush pile, it’s a slightly different path, for consideration. Do that only for novel length work. Baen does not to my knowledge directly purchase short stories, they contract with an independent editor for any anthologies they print.

      1. Hmmm, I do have an account there. Haven’t used it though, I’ll give the slush thread a try.

        1. Just to give you a heads up that when/if you post a story in the Slush sections of Baen’s Bar you will get honest and sometimes what seems to be brutal feed back. However that has led to others improvement and eventually becoming #1 on Amazon in sub genre’s such as MilSF (Chris Nutall has the #1 there right now outselling even Weber’s new Safehold book and he started in the Baen Bar Slush pile).

          1. I took the plunge and posted ‘Palmirth’ to the slush forum. It’s a novella I wrote this last month while procrastinating on another project.

            Brutal honest would be good. While I’m not going agree with every criticism, I don’t see how you can improve without being challenged – or knowing what your weaknesses are.

  5. Wow Kate. I haven’t seen anybody get skewered like that since the last time I read Impaler .

    That much being said, I agree. No one is saying that the Left should stay out of SF/F. We’re just saying that they have no right to keep the Right out. Of course, Little Miss Special Snowflake can’t separate the two. If you don’t agree with her you’re taking away her right to free speech. I’ve heard the argument before. It makes me want to vomit.

  6. I know that many of us went off and had our own discussion in the comments after Toni’s post, but none of it, her article nor our discussions, was about the science fiction writer not working in the context of real world politics. None of it.

    I’m probably getting different posts mashed together and confused, but no one at all, ever, not once, anywhere, is advocating exclusionary approaches to either what is published, or how fandom operates. In fact, that’s rather the point.

    “Science fiction should contain non-binary gender” is not the opposite condition of “science fiction should not contain non-binary gender.” Nor is “everyone should feel welcome at a science fiction convention, even if they like Orson Scott Card” the opposite condition of “we demand a White Boy Scout’s Club.”

    I suspect that no matter how long or loud anyone at Mad Genius Club or AtH proclaims that “we don’t care!” … the problem, the real problem, is going to be that we don’t care. Not caring means everyone is welcome without preference… but we’re supposed to have preference. It’s *assumed* that we’ve got preference and if it isn’t the correct preference, then that means it’s the incorrect preference (white boy scouts).

    YOU MUST HAVE A PREFERENCE!

    And it’s sort of like… er… NO. Accepting that, oh, (I shall invoke the you-know-who,) Vox Day ought to be invited to be a part of the big messy conglomerate of *idea oriented* fiction… is not excluding the science fiction themed “literature” of non-binary-gendered depthitude of feminist ideological whatever that is written and read by people who like that.

    Do we all go hang out together and accept that I am not you?

    Or do we split into camps?

    1. Nor is “everyone should feel welcome at a science fiction convention, even if they like Orson Scott Card” the opposite condition of “we demand a White Boy Scout’s Club.”

      — looking at this again I’m quite certain that I meant “a synonymous condition to…”

      1. Before computers all got so small and networked and redundant, we could just whack ’em, but now, yeah, a programmer pretty much needs to be able to curse.

  7. It too is like when the SF editor/writer/newsletter article or whatever she was made the trans-gender requirement statement and Larry Correia jumped into the fray with the statement that the most important part of a book is “Story” If you have a good story the ‘message’ will fit in. No story, the message is just a sermon. They immediately said that he wanted to censor them. It reminds me of the book “Women are from Venus, Men are from Mars.” In a non-gender but writing genre form we are talking in totally different languages.

    1. I was knee deep in that discussion over at Larry’s. I had plenty of people tell me I wanted to silence the other side when all I did was say that if they put the message first, they were going to put people off, so they were better off putting the story first.

      I was accused of trying to be a gatekeeper for SFF. Really? All I am is a customer who is trying to help writers produce work that will get my money. Don’t want it? Keep writing message crap. You’ll never get a dime from me if that’s how you want it.

      1. In a sense, though, you are a gatekeeper in the one or two senses that matter most. You are the final arbiter of what you will or will not read, and you are the final arbiter of what you will or will not buy.

        OWN that!

        The current vogue, however, seems to be moving towards “choice control”, where the only options you have available to you are the “approved” ones. Which is where we can all stand back and appreciate that once again, by accusing someone on the Right of doing something, people on the Left telegraph their desire / direction (Now that I think about it, party affiliation matters much less than the willingness to make the proper oblations to the current Gods of the Marketplace).

        Thank goodness for indie! (And the fact that classics are available on the net.)

        1. Fair enough.

          Unfortunately, that wasn’t the sense he was intending. Oh no, this special snowflake saw now problem with someone saying they wanted to end the binary gender default, but I was trying to keep others downtrodden because I said “story first”.

          And people wonder why I’m developing a dent in my forehead.

        2. The left is just trying to do you a favor by making it impossible to make a wrong choice. to do this they must limit your choices to only those things they think are right.

      2. Ahhh yes – that person who kept contradicting himself and the plain meaning of anything that was said. He got boring after a while.

          1. That’s why they don’t want story first, guys. They SUCK at both reading and writing. So, they’re hoping to get in on “right message.” Poor kids, right?

            1. I’m writing the kind of stories I want to write at the moment, but there’s a part of me thinking about writing a piece of leftie-fic just to see if it gets me in at the magazines that aren’t taking me now.

              I’d LIKE to think it’s just that my stuff isn’t good enough yet, but who knows. Maybe my libertarian is showing.

                1. I might have to do it.

                  At least then I’ll have a clue whether or not my writing is any good then. Right now, all I get are form rejections on my short stories. :/

  8. Sarah, the lady author you wanted to name was Sharon Green, she wrote the female counterpart to the Gor novels.

      1. And from what I could see, Sharon Green didn’t write “anti-Gor” stories. The problem was that some of her female characters would have enjoyed being on Gor. [Wink]

    1. “If I Pay Thee Not in Gold” by Piers Anthony and Mercedes Lackey.
      The women had powerful TK, the men were slaves.

      1. Nope, in that one the slavery was portrayed as a bad thing. She was talking about a book where slavery of men led to peace.

  9. As soon as the bigot figures that nothing he, she, or it can do will be good enough for the authorities, he, she, or it (oh, hell with this. I’m portmanteauing it to s.h.it) figures whoever s.h.it’s bigoted against is in with the authorities to beat s.h.it down. Once we get there, a backlash is guaranteed.

    I hope it isn’t necessary, but it may be worthwhile, to point this out:

    This does not just happen to bigots. Many of us have figured out that nothing we can do will ever be good enough for the authorities, not because we are bigots, but because the particular authorities in question have amply demonstrated that they are bigoted against us. But they never recognize it in themselves; they think that because they are the self-anointed Fighters of Bigotry when it comes in the varieties they were taught to despise as children, they must therefore be immune to all other varieties of the same disease.

    Leftist slogan: ‘If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.’ Hard reality: Screw that, you are part of the problem, no matter what, just by virtue of being human and therefore imperfect. Being part of someone’s purported solution (which never solves the problem as advertised anyway) does not let you off the hook for your own bad behaviour.

    And the bigotry and bullying metastasizes all over the place. Just today, I saw someone on The Passive Voice come over all butthurt because some people were using the hateful derogatory term ‘legacy publishers’ to describe the traditional publishing industry. Well, that term only became derogatory about the day before yesterday, when a bunch of publishers (and their hangers-on and apologists) decided that it was easier to be offended by their detractors’ choice of words than to answer their arguments or dispute their facts.

    When it gets that silly and that petty, and that obviously intended simply to shut down all discussion of unpleasant facts, you better believe there’s a backlash. And not just from bigots.

    1. Tom, do you have a link to the post with the comment about legacy publishing? I’ve been waiting for someone to get their panties in a wad about the term and am curious about what they said. Thanks!

        1. And now, having read all the comments, all I can say is you did yourself proud with what you said. Those complaining about the use of the term “legacy publisher” clearly had no problem insulting indie authors. Sigh.

          1. Thank you. Never mind doing myself proud; sometimes, when I’m all alone on one side of the comments like that, I question whether I’m even sane.

            1. Since I’ve been in that same spot — as have most of us here — that’s why I wanted you to know I thought you did yourself proud.

            2. If it helps any, I think that was the post that when I read it yesterday, I was going to say, “hear, hear” but I hate “me too” responses since they don’t add much of anything. So, sorry if you felt like you were out on your own, I just had nothing to add.

      1. I don’t see how “legacy” is any more derogatory than “traditional”. I don’t know how anyone could even *make* it derogatory.

        It’s like saying… I dislike tulips. The word “tulips” doesn’t become derogatory, somehow, just because me and a bunch of my friends all agree that tulips are second rate.

        1. I wonder if some of the publisher-types get twitchy because they were college lagacies (offspring of alumni/ae who got in because of family connections rather than pure academic merit, for those not familiar with the term). “Legacy” otherwise does not strike me as derogatory, as compared to “crooked,” “miserly,” or “financially incompetent.” *shrug*

    2. Tom, twenty years ago one of the people assigned to my division on my second ship (note that I did NOT characterize the relationship as him “working for me” …) filed a formal charge of racial discrimination against me for the unforgivable offense of insisting that he finish a fraction of the work he had been assigned that day.

      Such charges are ALWAYS treated as valid unless (vanishingly rarely) they can be incontrovertibly disproved. After a VERY uncomfortable week, I stood in front of The Old Man to hear the result of the investigation. Thusly spake my XO:
      “Captain, I have found that Petty Officer [Redacted]’s charge does have merit. Petty Officer Simmons DOES treat him differently than he does the rest of his men. On average [Redacted] is assigned one-third less work than anyone else, and is consistently permitted to get by with a lower quality of work.” The XO leaned toward me and said, very forcefully, “This practice ends NOW.”

  10. Hey! I was going to guess Tepper!

    Well, let me guess the enslavement one: Gate to Women’s Country?

    SPOILERS:

    What stuck in my craw about that was less the ‘enslavement’ of men than the overall control of everything by a covert elite group that practiced a form of eugenics with the purpose of breeding the human race into docile sheep.

    I don’t think you can necessarily say that book was all about man-hating either, since most women were portrayed and blithering, compliant, short-sighted idiots ready to throw themselves at the first alpha male brute they see and so had to be manipulated by the leadership into not continuing the brute’s genetics.

    Ironically, I like some of Tepper’s work, and Norman’s: they’ve gotten so ridiculous they’ve become unintentional self-parodies. Hilarious stuff!

  11. Apologies all for the lack of responses: it was Lunacon weekend this week so I’ve been a tad distracted.

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