A Window to the Soul

I have read books in my life that I enjoyed, and promptly forgot. I have read books where I wandered off in the middle and forgot to come back again. I have read books which touched the core of my being, changed me, and I was never able to re-read again, they were terrible in their beauty. And I have read books that utterly revolted me. Some were merely indefinably ‘icky’ while others had me standing in a hot shower, washing to try and remove the feeling it had given me.It isn’t always the author. Some authors have imaginations where you don’t think that you are seeing through the book and into the author’s soul. And I’m the last person to suggest that just because I find a work repugnant, no one else should ever read them. I do have authors I cannot and will not read again. Margaret Atwood’s Handmaids Tale was nasty and made me sick to my soul. I will never read another book of hers, nor of Charlie Stross, whose graphic depiction of male rape in a short story collection left me scrubbing in the shower, hoping to remove that feeling. I cannot read Piers Anthony, not even his frothy inconsequential Xanth books, because his book Firefly revolted me and struck too close to home, to violation of innocence and the depiction of the ultimate evil.

But I’m not going to tell anyone not to read those authors. I gave my kids the first couple of Xanth books, because they are fun. In fact, I’m not telling anyone in this post not to read books by these authors. I’m asking you to examine the public actions and decide if

Blue eyes
“The Eyes are the window to your soul”
― William Shakespeare

these are people who ought to be celebrated in our field and held up as examples. Particularly, I might point out, that they are held up as examples of gender and sexual openness. I know quite well that not all who are homosexual are also child abusers. But if you’re holding these people up? You’re fostering that perception, because these are not role models. These are the ultimate evil, the abusers of children, and those who enable those abuses to continue in the shadows, denied and ignored. Will you let that go on, or will you join me in illuminating the dark corners of our art to see what scuttles for hiding?

Matt Wallace, in his excellent blog on separating art and artist: “Yours is whether or not you can disregard the information that an author whose work you love uses that work and your love of it to enable their crimes, their horrible, irrevocable abuse of the helpless and just about the only innocents left in this fucked up world. You have to decide whether or not you can make their crime just a tiny bit okay by telling yourself and everyone else that it doesn’t matter, even in the most removed context.” 

When it comes to well-known, long-beloved artists, it can be easier to turn a blind eye and pretend it doesn’t exist. Tor.com tried to do this with Marion Zimmer Bradley, and sparked a firestorm of controversy beyond anything we have seen before. Against this, the nonsense of the woman who wanted to end binary gender pales.

In an article which has since been removed, but which can be found cached here, Leah Schnelbach lauded Bradley for her life, books, and sexuality. In her bio, she fails to allude to the controversy surrounding Bradley’s husband, saying simply “She was married to Robert Alden Bradley from 1949 until 1964, and had one son. She married Walter Breen in 1964, and the couple had a son and a daughter. She earned a B.A. from Hardin-Simmons University in Texas the following year, and then took graduate courses at UC Berkeley from 1965 until 1967. Throughout this time she continued her work in fandom, and also became involved in a groundbreaking lesbian-rights group, the Daughters of Bilitis.”

The bomb dropped. Dierdre Moen promptly responded to the laudatory Tor.com piece with a blog on the truth behind Marion Zimmer Bradley’s sexual openness, and just how far it would go.

“Q. And to your knowledge, how old was [Victim X] when your husband was having a sexual relationship with him?

A. I think he was about 14 or possibly 15. I’m not certain.

Q. Were you aware that your husband had a sexual relationship with [Victim X] when he was below the age of 18?

A. Yes, I was.”

The words I quote above are from the court transcript, where Bradley was testifying about her knowledge of her husband’s ongoing abuse of at least three children. Two days later, Dierdre blogged again, this time with an open letter from Marion Zimmer Bradley’s own daughter. I will link, but not quote, and I warn you, if you have a tender heart, prepare to have it pierced if you click through to read. http://deirdre.net/marion-zimmer-bradley-its-worse-than-i-knew/

Michael Z. Williamson responded when I asked for a citation on Samuel Delany, another author often lauded for his role in Science Fiction while the reality of his public actions is ignored, with: “The full quote is “I read the NAMBLA fairly regularly and I think it is one of the most intelligent discussions of sexuality I’ve ever found. I think before you start judging what NAMBLA is about, expose yourself to it and see what it is really about. What the issues they are really talking about, and deal with what’s really there rather than this demonized notion of guys running about trying to screw little boys. I would have been so much happier as an adolescent if NAMBLA had been around when I was 9, 10, 11, 12, 13.” 

Samuel R. Delany, professor and author. In extended interviews about his novel Hogg in 2004 he stated he supported a group like NAMBLA because “abuse is fostered by the secrecy itself and lack of social policing”. He expounded that “for thousands of years, relations we assume are abusive by definition (child marriages, slavery, child labor, etc.) were the social and legal norm, institutional and ubiquitous [..] behavior that we [today] find wholly unacceptable—flogging slaves, wife beating, and child beating (in the family, in the school, and at the factory)—was recommended by experts and clergymen as the most efficient and least disruptive way to maintain [social] order. All of these institutions changed, nevertheless, only when they were no longer economically feasible or beneficial to the greater society.”Tor.com again, in a review of Delany’s book A Good Life: Samuel R. Delany’s Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders, quote from reviewer:

“I think he’s doing the same with the “culturally charged language”, race is also a real thing. Delany is making us think about what is taboo and why it is — for us now, talking about race and sex is something we have to do very carefully. By the end of the book, a boy called “Cum Stain” wearing transparent fronted pants, is at a party where it’s accepted that nice people don’t talk in public about science…
The more I kept reading, the more I enjoyed reading — “I’m not speaking for banning these authors, and I know a good many people who have read, loved, and recommended books by them. I’m only giving you their own words, and saying this. Children are to be protected. Find new role models, tor.com, and stop praising those who abuse and defile children.

71 thoughts on “A Window to the Soul

  1. It’s funny. I’ve seen Delany invoked twice recently. One of those who did so has also equated Larry Correia with Vox Day simply because Larry liked one of Vox’s stories and thought it should be nominated for a Hugo.

    So, it’s wrong to like a story written by a guy who called N.K. Jemisin a “half savage” after a long history of being attacked by her, but perfectly OK to laud the life and work of a man who is apparently a pedophilia apologist.

    Now, that said, the more I learned about MZB, the more disgusted I became. I’m not going to lie. I really liked The Mists of Avalon and Firebrand. I was a member of the SCA, of which MZB was not just a founding member but coined the name (according the legend at least). I was a big fan. However, what she did? Unforgivable. If I thought her children were getting the proceeds of her work, I’d still recommend buying her books, only for their benefit.

    The question I had to ask was, “How does this information reconcile with previous arguments that a writer should be judged on their work?”

    For me, it’s simple. For all the evils piled at the feet of people like Larry, Vox, and others, they are – if true, at least – sins of the mind. They’re not thinking the right things. What MZB did clearly crossed that line.

    But what about Delany? Frankly, none of his stuff looks particularly interesting to me, so I’m not going to bother with it. Just reading the plot of Hogg on Wikipedia had me running for the shower. I can only imagine what the book would do.

    However, as far as anyone knows, his sins are sins of the mind as well, and I won’t say anything about his work (since I don’t read him). Instead, I’ll simply point out to those who talk about vile associations that they should at least be consistent.

    1. The fact that he openly advocated sex with children, and supported publically an organization whose goal it is to legalize pedophila make it more than ‘sins of the mind’ to me. I can’t speak to Vox Day, I don’t know his blog and online persona other than to know he enjoys stirring trouble up. I do know Larry, and know that those who attack him are making their accusations up whole-cloth, with no truth in them. But these same people hold up Delany and Bradley as exemplars, with a focus on their attitudes toward sex. This makes it clear to me, if not to them, what their goals are.

      1. I can accept that. I simply think that if all he’s done is talk, he hasn’t crossed that line in my mind just yet. He’s still a disgusting human being though. I don’t think that’s really a matter of disagreement with anyone here thus far. 🙂

        1. I think it comes down to a question of whether we’re talking about something merely distasteful or something criminal, not to mention disastrously harmful.

          To put it to a test, how would it affect you if some well-known author came on public television to say that NAMBLA has a positive message? By making statements in public, which obviously got quoted on a public website, Delany did the moral equivalent of putting up billboards.

          It’s one thing to talk about it in private, but this actually promoting it.

          1. I haven’t read Delany, either fiction or real world opinions. From the brief quote above, I took it that he was looking back at his own childhood, where he probably felt very alone and possibly frightened. It would have helped such a child to know there were people out there that would have approved of him, that his feelings toward men were not unique.

            I doubt he was thinking about a child being abused. I hope. I don’t actually know.

            1. I might could have gone along with that as well, except after reading about what all transpires in Hogg? I can’t really anymore. That whole book’s plot is about raping young boys. When considered along with his NAMBLA comments, I’m not so sure.

              1. Those quotes seemed like they could have been evaluations in the abstract about the affects of pushing the bad stuff into secret places. And comparing child sex and marriage to wife or slave beating or whatever, seems to be comparing bad things to bad things.

                So… I donno. We ought to be able to talk about bad things more thoughtfully than to simply shout, “Bad! Bad! Bad!”. As writers we tend to add… “Yes, BAD… but for what purpose and which part *exactly* and who and always?”

                1. “And comparing child sex and marriage to wife or slave beating or whatever, seems to be comparing bad things to bad things.”

                  Then he goes on and on about how wife beating and slave flogging supposedly used to be good because the powers that be approved of it. As if the thoughts and feelings of, and physical damage suffered by, those wives and slaves didn’t count. He’s using the product-of-its-time defense ( http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2014/01/the-product-of-its-time-defense-no-excuse-for-sexism-and-racism/283352/ ) not just for old bigotry in books but for old physical torture.

          2. True.

            And, with regard to Delany, I have no interest in reading his work so it’s not like I was going to read his stuff anyways.

            It’s disgusting, and I plan on reminding certain people of this at every opportunity when they bring up Delany as some paragon.

            My point though was that it’s still nothing but talk. Now, would I be surprised to find out that Delany crossed the line? Not really. Coupled with Hogg, he comments indicate an alarming predilection toward alarming behavior.

            The truth is, I’m not interested in his stuff anyways, not interested in those who tout him as the shizznit, and not interested in his opinions about NAMBLA except to see enough to call him a sick bastard.

    2. A very simple and sensible way to evaluate the work vs writer problem.

      All this plays on the confusion of what the age of consent ought to be, when the influence of an authority figure tips over into undue experience, and multiple standards for adulthood. Driving, smoking, drinking and sex…

      But when we get to child abuse, we’re not talking about consent, and we’re way beyond undue influence. When words become actions, a very important line has been crossed.

      1. I can’t really claim credit for it. Someone else laid out something similar, it’s just my own descriptors at work here.

        And I agree with the rest of your post fully.

  2. I liked several of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s earlier novels, and I liked several of the collections she edited, to the point of submitting once (and getting a rather encouraging rejection as a personal letter in answer), but she was never one of those writers I read to just to be happy. It has been years since I read her, but what I remember from her work there always seemed to be a level of bleakness in it. Some of her characters were interesting, and one could root for them, but they were never ones I daydreamed of meeting. I used to do that with several of Heinlein’s characters, and Niven’s and Pournelle’s, and now I do it with Sarah’s and several other Baen writers.

    And I don’t remember ever wanting to live in Bradley’s worlds, however interesting they were they didn’t really invite for a longer stay. Maybe a visit, but not a stay.

    I can’t imagine somebody like she now seems to be could have ever been truly happy – enjoying herself, pleased with things, yes, but really, truly happy…

    Maybe that did reflect in her work.

    1. I think all of us who write put something of ourselves into our work, I don’t think we can help it. Using our imaginations means we can put that which isn’t us into the work as well. There is most likely nothing wrong with her work. But I can’t bear to see her held up as an exemplar for future writers to look up to, particularly in the sex and gender arenas. Children are precious, and this whole mess sickens me.

      1. We writers tend to play with ideas. Some quite silly. I doubt anyone really wants to have sex with a T-rex.

        But once we stop being absurd and get into the range of humanly possible activities, we writers need to consider whether we’re portraying an activity positively or negatively. Whether we are encouraging, in this case, a pedophile, or warning him/her of what we might do to anyone like him/her that we encounter. Whether we are teaching a child with a problem how to escape or cope or whether were telling the kid it’s hopeless, give up. Or worse, what’s wrong with you? You should be enjoying this.

        I have some very unpleasant characters. They’re generally the bad guys and they usually get what they deserve, sooner or later. It is something I need to keep an eye on, in my own writing.

        1. Someone a few days ago either here or at ATH posted links to Tracy Hickman’s three-part series on morality in fantasy RPG’s, and I think that had a lot of applicability to fantasy and SF writing as well. Here’s part 1 – https://web.archive.org/web/20050206171630/http://trhickman.com/Intel/Essays/Ethic1.html

          And I know David Farland has said a number of times that authors are responsible for the worlds they create and the philosophies those worlds reflect.

          > >

        2. … yeah, I’m kinda wondering about that now. I have some horrifying characters in my head – they’re the villains.

          I enjoyed the Xanth series because of puns, but outgrew them around 14, but my appreciation of puns dates from then. I didn’t read any of his other works since then… and maybe I should be glad. But… has any of the fiction crossed over to real life Anthony?

  3. Love Eric Flint’s writing, hate the man’s politics. I can separate the two. But there are some lines that even I can’t cross, and abusing children is one of those lines.

  4. I’m reminded of the old Latin tag, “Mens sana in corpore sano”. I apply the same principle to books. If the writer is sound, his or her books are likely to be sound, and vice versa. If one is unsound, the other is likely to be unsound as well.

    I have a particularly visceral reaction to any abuse of a human being by another, of any type – not just sexual. I come from a background in Africa of civil unrest, civil and military war, and sundry tribal practices that have left me with a hair-trigger for such things. I know I’ve startled my wife sometimes with the vehemence of my response to things she (as an American) considers not out of the ordinary. I have a visceral reaction to them, one that I have to guard against expressing for fear of alienating those around me.

    Suffice it to say that if I were in the same room as either Marion Zimmer Bradley or Samuel R. Delaney, knowing what I know about them today, I’d take a horsewhip to them. That’s just for a start.


    1. I know I’m going to be chastised for this post “What’s the big deal?” and “Delany never actually ‘did’ anything” but while some authors write horrors into their books, but are rational in real life, these two advocated, and may have participated, in acts that any normal, sane person finds repugnant.

      1. Yes.

        One can write about something without necessarily advocating for it.

        Someone who advocates for NAMBLA and writes graphically about SM acts inflicted on children held as slaves, presenting what should be unthinkable as acceptable in his stories, normalizing it — this makes me very uncomfortable.

  5. The fact that the folks at Tor and the blogger at the Guardian in this case are so blind to their own hypocrisy….When you read the words of people THAT self-obsessed, but so mind bogglingly lacking in self-awareness…..I just got nuthin’

    1. They choose to wear blinders and despise the truth. We already knew that from their actions. In this case, revelations of what they were trying to hide shows just how far they are willing to go to distort truth.

  6. I don’t know about SRD, but I did meet MZB at a convention. I believe that she must have regressed in her Humanity, under the influence of her husbands. I agree that there are authors who write such repugnant stuff that it leaves a permanent mark. Thirty(?) years ago, I read a book so bad that I wanted to take my brain out, and give it a good scrubbing.
    I talked to my favorite (and only) adopted granddaughter, about this once. She had run across some that wrote some very disturbing books (Horror I think). She had also apparently run across some very “strange” Fan writers, at a convention.
    I said something to the effect that all authors write from their mind (and heart), but some *may* be writing from a “more than academic knowledge.” There are some very bad, “stories/articles” out there on the net. By _my_ guess, some write from a more “personal” experience than they want us to believe.
    I have known some people (I *refuse* to identify them any further) who have been in abusive relationships. Including watching one develop. It can warp even the strongest person. Abusive Spouses/Significant Others do NOT excuse allowing/condoning abuse of children. Maybe her writing was an attempt to regain her Humanity, I don’t know. I DO know that back when _I_ met her, there was a great effort to “hush up” Domestic Violence. The Victim was subjected to more abuse at the hands of the Judicial System, and Society. She certainly did not strike me as a “strong” personality.
    With regard to PA and “Firefly,” Knowing what I do about the English child rearing system (institutionalized child abuse in many cases), he may have been trying to “cleanse his soul” of old memories. Maybe (I haven’t read it), even show how bad it can be, while appearing different to outsiders.
    I don’t have all the facts, so I can judge. Lest anyone think that I am “soft” on Child abuse, you wouldn’t want me on such a jury. I am *well* to the right of Vlad Dracul, on it.

  7. If the advocates of “alternative lifestyles” really want to come out of the closer and be accepted as the normal stream of life, they need to make sure all those really rotten skeletons in the closet are dealt with. Too many horror stories like Delaney’s and Bradley’s being touted as acceptable and there will be a backlash.

  8. To your list of “questionable” SF masters, you might want to look deeper into Arthur C. Clarke. When I was in Kuwait, many of the third-country workers provided to US military bases were Sri Lankans. Some of those folks were shockingly high-status, in their home country. The guy I got to know best was a gentleman in his thirties, trained as a lawyer. His father was a judge, and his family was quite high-status, if he were to be believed–Which I do, since I later looked up the names he mentioned, and there were matches with what I could find on the Internet.

    In the course of things, he asked me how it was I knew so much about Sri Lanka, because most Americans he’d met didn’t know the island even existed. When I told him that I’d learned quite a bit from reading Arthur C. Clarke, he just snorted and mumbled something about the irony of being known as the favored residence of a well-known pederast. And, yes… I was shocked as hell to hear that.

    Per my informant, the main reason Clarke settled in Sri Lanka had more to do with easy access to young male partners than the wiles of the tropics. From what he described, and some of it was first-hand, him having known some of the involved Sri Lankan young men and boys, Clarke’s proclivities were an open secret, and the lower-stratum Sri Lankans were quite disgusted with him and the upper class types that enabled it. Due to the prestige Clarke brought to Sri Lanka, an awful lot of “looking aside” was going on.

    And, yeah, I was shocked to hear that from him. I’ve looked it up, over the years, and all I’ve been able to find in print are allusions to things that were kept quite quiet. Englishman I knew mentioned that there were reasons Clarke was not welcome back on his home turf, and this is the same guy who was alluding to Jimmy Savile and his lot at the BBC before any of that stuff gained prominence. He never mentioned names, but he laid out enough information that when I saw the Savile thing break in the news, I could put two and two together.

    Occasionally, I’ve found that when you make positive references to things popularly acclaimed about other nations to natives of those nations, you’ll get quite a different view of things. I never expected to hear a half-hour diatribe about British homosexual sex tourists that visited and never left, nor did I expect to hear that the BBC was full of pederasts, perverts, and child molesters.

    But, I did.

    Great art usually requires at least some madness. That the madness is expressed sexually, occasionally? Should not be surprising, at all. To find that our revered masters have had moral lapses should not be cause to deny it, or look the other way, nor should it detract from the appreciation of their work. However, it also shouldn’t be ignored, either.

    1. Clarke’s nonfiction book about diving in Sri Lanka was, um, kinda too interested in teen male divers. Don’t know whether he actually did anything about it; I’ve heard it both ways. But yeah, he probably did.There was a big political stink about it in Sri Lanka toward the end of his life or just after his death.

    2. ………………….. okay, that’s SERIOUSLY depressing. Childhood’s End was one of my gateway books into serious SF and I was considering reading Clarke because I couldn’t really get into his books when younger (didn’t find it as entertaining, really.) But it’s almost like everywhere I turn my childhood’s getting destroyed!

      There’s nothing wrong with Diane Duane, is there? Please?

      (and yes, the mention of Tracy Hickman and the role of stories in relation to religion… was a relief to read after the whole MZB thing.)

      1. It is well known.

        Pedophilia is a crime, it damages the future of our society and perverts the bonds between mentor and student.

        But. Think an accusation of rape can ruin a man’s life? Try being falsely accused of screwing childern.

        I’m going to play devil’s advocate here. Clarke was the subject of a magazine article – shortly before he was due to be honored with a Knighthood – that alleged that they had proof of Clarke’s interest in underaged boys. When challenged, the paper could not produce this proof. A police investigation was done. That investigation exhonorated Clarke.

        To me, using the standards of common decency, we can say that it was widely known that Clarke was accused, and perhaps give relevant details on the investigation (developing nation with a reputation for police corruption) but I don’t think that we can say “it was widely known [that Clarke was a pederast].”

        A crime like this is serious. People who have knowledge of crimes like this have a responsibilty to report it.

        Those of us who don’t have actual knowledge – beyond hearsay and rumor – we’re spreading rumor. And making it that much harder to actually pursue criminals like this, and get them imprisoned/treated/executed/as the case may be.

        If people care to point me at proof, I will, of course, stand corrected.

        1. Sigh. I don’t remember where/when but at the time it was pointed out he was a member of NAMBLA. I really don’t know where I read it (Reason?), but it was an article defending him, and saying his interest in it was academic.
          <shrug. I assumed it was an open secret.

        2. For the record, whatever the article was, it quoted his brother as saying, yes, he had been like that, but at the time (I guess when knighthood was considered?) he was not doing anything sexual with anyone, and that at any rate he was a product of his time and place, and leave him alone.
          Which was fine by me. I just can’t read the YA and the descriptions the way I used to before.

        3. However, if I was wrong, I apologize. I just know I read it from a source I believed credible at the time and that the report seemed substantiated. OTOH having seen some real doozies lately, perhaps it was made up. Who knows?

          1. The accounts I’ve seen (such as above) likewise seem credible – but so did some of the most amazing false reports and outright lies that I’m swallowed in the past.

            It just seems to me that – as a community dedicated to making people believe the impossible stuff we make up – that SFF has a particular responsibility to separate rumor and speculation from documented reports. (Public response to War of the Worlds reference considered but discarded as apocryphal.)

            1. In my case, the belief was helped by having known several Brits with similar proclivities who moved to that region for… more freedom to pursue them.
              OTOH Heinlein thought well of him, so…

  9. Gather round, children. And Eldritch Beings. Auntie Sabrina is going to tell a story…

    Maybe connected. Maybe not. Back in the Early Cretaceous (writing period) I submitted two short stories to MZB’s magazine. One was rejected on the grounds of being SF, which she didn’t publish and I should have paid attention to the guidelines but all I got was a form letter saying no thanks, even though she would have been within her rights to give the equivalent of a pained sigh and “can you READ???”.

    The other was fantasy. I got back an amazing scribbled page of screediness that puzzled me mightily. I remember at the time thinking a) “a simple no would do, really” and b) “this boils down to ‘I didn’t like the main character ergo you are a bad writer. She is so unprofessional I won’t submit to this market again, how sad, I thought she was better than this.” Very strange, especially in contrast to the first submission which I *should* have been yelled at for but wasn’t.

    Now all this horrific child abuse is coming out. And I started to wonder. See, the main character in that short story was a young man, a royal bastard, who is basically being raised to be a human sacrifice and neglected and abused in the meantime. He befriends a shapechanger woman who is also trapped, helping her escape, and she helps him escape in turn. I was definitely still working on my writing skills then but it wasn’t *that* bad, certainly not enough to cause that extreme an emotional response. So now I wonder–did it somehow cut too close to home? Did it trigger feelings of guilt?

    Is a puzzlement….

  10. Margaret Atwood’s Handmaids Tale was nasty and made me sick to my soul.

    The Daughter is no fan of that book. She walked into the room and I read this sentence to her. Her reactions was, ‘Ah, yeah. And in some ways it was quite bigoted. Can I leave the room now?’ Before she left she commented, ‘If it were about an Islamic theocracy people would be up in arms.’ As she left I heard her grumbling, ‘It would not be hard to do. Iran … Iran … Iran.’

    Charles Dickens wrote Oliver Twist intending to throw light on a situation that needed to change. From his book we gained a term, Fagin – an adult who instructs others (as children) in crime. With Uncle Tom’s Cabin Harriet Breecher Stowe helped fuel the anti-slavery movement.

    There is a difference between a book that is written to bring condemnation upon that which is evil or wrong, and a book which instead moves people towards accepting that which should be unacceptable. Unfortunately the latter is often presented as being the former. Then those who recognize it for what it is need to call it out. Pederasty is not a misunderstood alternative life style. It is child abuse. Child abuse is evil.

    Thank you.

  11. I dunno. Art =/= Artist and some writers set up arguments in order to force the reader to know why to tear them down (Thank-you, Admiral Bob.) Human beings are complex, they contain (often opposed) multitudes and it is likely authors even more so.

    At the same time, some things should not be endorsed nor normalized, even in fiction. It would be easy to write a novel which made the argument for slavery, for example, or a society based on subjugation of women. All it requires is characters who do what the author tells them to. Anybody think such stories would be lauded as “edgy” or “ground-breaking”?

    Sometimes when you buy a work of art in spite of knowing the creator to be a loathsome example of humanity you need to wonder whether your purchase of that book or that ticket doesn’t constitute an endorsement, an enabling far more potent than your personal disapproval. It ain’t as if you lack alternatives and there are limits to what “great genius” can excuse. Sometimes the line between genius and madness is none too sharply drawn and once in that grey area you are too likely to perceive not just five shades but fifty or even five hundred or five thousand, and only the very astute can avoid losing their path.

  12. It’s very horrifying. And the fact that people are attempting to cover up and excuse these things makes it worse.

  13. Curiously enough, I am reading two books at the moment – Death Mask by Ellis Peters – in which an older man goes to great lengths for the sake of the love he has for a boy. There is no doubt that the hero – and the boy, are portrayed as having a deep love for one another. There is no sexual attraction, however – the man was (and remains) deeply physically attracted to the boy’s mother. It is, so far, a wholesome story of a kind that the likes of Delaney and Bradley have killed. In the second -Peter Grant’s so far excellent War to the Knife – you once again have a healthy, normal, and undoubtably loving father son relationship. It’s not about sex. These adult/younger person relationships are one of the cornerstones of any society, of success, of happiness. Realistically, by percentage – that is actually human-normal, and it would seem the best things we can do for our kids, our society, just like all the other things Tor.com and the Grauniad’s Walter seem to hate. It’s the well their heroes are poisoning, and its time we hauled the corpses out of it.

    1. It’s the well their heroes are poisoning, and its time we hauled the corpses out of it.


    2. I’ve got a world building in my mind where my hero comes from a very happy, down to earth, stable family. No missing parents, there’s a few family quirks; the only family trauma is the hero nearly being eaten by a werewolf as a child. It heartens me to know that there are other authors who aren’t afraid to portray POSITIVE adult-child relationships.

      1. Shadowdancer – there seems a perverted desire to take what the statistics and evidence show are the best possible thing for a child – yes, on evidence, all those boring married vanilla people, who love their children and and their best for them – male and female role models… do produce the best achieving, most stable, and it seems the happiest kids. So we don’t want make that a _desirable_ thing do we? All families have quirks and odd spots – and to a kid those can magnify. So these scumbags set out to DO that, to make them bad. Yes, odd families can raise great kids. So can single parents. But it is just less likely, something to be dealt with as best as possible, but not encouraged as somehow better than what we know is more likely to work far more often. I’ve written both, and one thing I always try and put in is the love for and by the parent, or love for the person who takes that role. I don’t always portray the parents as clever or even sensible (Benito and Marco’s mother was mad as a brush, and her attempts to play politics got her killed. Meb’s stepmother can be a termagant, but she tries to look after and protect her, and her step-brothers genuinely love their little sister and try to look after her, even if she’s not like them.)

        1. Oh, I am well aware; yes there are some single parents who do excellent jobs raising their kids; it’s not easy and it involves a lot of determination, discipline and, well, the desire to do so, just as there are married couples who screw up their kids something horrible. I can think of notable examples from my own families / extended clans. My maternal grandmother was abused and later abandoned by her husband, while she was pregnant with her fifth child; she forged ahead anyway and sent them all to college in Manila; helped that she was also a doctor and was one of those stoic, upright pillars of the community. On the flip side, in my father’s clan, there’s a (second? third?) cousin, adopted and doted and made much of by his adopted parents to the point that they sold off nearly all their properties to accomodate his desires whims. In their senior years he schemed to get his father falsely accused of molesting a child, had the old man pay the last of their savings as well as sell the clan ancestral home in order to not be brought to court, and he would beat the old woman for her medicine money.

          HOW the family – regardless of shape or type – raise their children is what results in upstanding human beings, though generally yes the nuclear family tends to have a lot of good results (as well as those who have the fortune to have solid clan/extended family / village community mindsets and setups) Basically, children who have strong, upstanding adults to look up to, who care for them, and are influenced by, turn out generally, to be good grownups on their own turn.

          My point is, I draw quite a bit of character inspiration from real life people. Would writing about the horrible things that humans are very capable of doing to each other automatically equal ‘OH THE AUTHOR SUPPORTS THAT!!!!!!!!” (I’m sure there are some out there who would do that.) No it doesn’t; but the darlings of the vileprogs seem to do that, and it’s a stain on authors. They seem to want to make the creative folk as a whole a stereotype of crazy, amoral perverts, and by all the Gods and Muses, I will refuse that and fight it by NOT being one.

  14. The days of Roy Rogers-Gabby Hayes, Gene Autry- Smiley Burnett, Cisco and Pancho are over and I miss them. I knew that other relationships existed but, didn’t figure it was any of my business. I had a friend that I ran with, neither of us thought of anything other than ‘where’s the girls?’ I gave other people the same consideration that it was their own business. Now, I find myself wondering if we weren’t the abnormality. Simply because of the “Agenda that poisons the well.” Since I never read any of those authors, I consider myself fortunate.

  15. Whether Art = Artist depends on the artist, and the tale he’s telling.

    Interestingly, some people will insist it goes one way or the other to suit their aims, like slandering Ringo when he writes a reprehensible character and gets into his head. How they determined Ringo felt that way is immaterial, it suits their ends to make a stink.

    Kiwi was written specifically to get into the head (literally) of a truly reprehensible individual. I don’t think anything like Alex. Of course, I’m not notable enough for someone with an axe to grind to claim that I do.

    1. Books with villain protagonists are supposed to be like that. Writing a book with a villain protagonist is to me the writer equivalent of someone playing bad guys like DeForest Kelly was known for playing NOTHING (before becoming Dr. McCoy) but villains in the westerns he starred in but was in real life a very wonderful, humble and shy person. The guy who plays Joffrey in Game of Thrones has a reputation for being a really nice young man outside of the role. Cersei’s actress is said to be best friends with Tyrion’s but nobody can deny her character’s deep hatred for the witty ‘half-man.’

      But with this trend… Is anyone accusing the writer of Dexter to be a serial killer yet?

        1. Well, I know a Certain Stalker Of Many Names is targeting me, and will often bring up my name on other websites; and recent interactions will surely cause me to be a target eventually if not already, as the ‘person with no sympathy for rape victims’ or some such other lie.

          Actually, doesn’t simply not marching in lockstep with the vileprogs render us targets? After all, they do love them some BDS.

          1. Does anyone even listen to that tool? I mean, I banned him from my blog after his first comment. Most authors I know have either banned him, or just like poking the trolls a bit.

            Not that he’s gotten the hint. He’s tried to comment at least once more since then.

              1. Yeah, he’s really not that swift. I mean, I told him outright that he was being blocked.

                He came back and commented under the exact same alias. /facepalm/

            1. I honestly don’t know; and if he goes and remarks to someone who doesn’t know the circumstances, well… *shrug*

              I seem to have recently pissed him off about something… again… My continued existence, perhaps? Over in Larry’s blog. Because he apparently mentioned ‘putting me in my place’ at someone who linked to Larry’s blogpost about women, self defense and rape.

              Thinking about that line plus what the topic was about, it’s kinda chilling isn’t it? Almost like the vileprogs saying that Sarah Palin should be hatefucked/raped.

              1. You’re not on the same continent as him, so you probably don’t need to worry about your physical safety. But if you lived in the United States, I would be seriously advising you to buy a pistol of appropriate size for your hands, and make sure you know how to use it, just in case he decided to cross yet another line and show up on your doorstep with ill intent.

          2. Well, it can.

            Friday I saw something that a friend of mine posted on Facebook re: a fairly controversial topic. I expressed a more conservative opinion, and the reaction was interesting. Not being a target, per se, but a definite nudge to get into the “approved” opinion. Definitely not a lot of respect or tolerance for my opinion.

            Could have been worse, though. On certain topics or had I been someone else? Could have been a lot worse. As a pale male, if I espouse something that’s perceived by the other side as bigoted (for ex., that people shouldn’t use the public restroom they “self-identify” as, but something that matches the physical plumbing), they don’t like it, but they take it in stride, I think, at least partially because I’m a white dude.

            Michelle Malkin, Filipina, does the same thing? The reaction is much stronger.

            > >

            1. Oh yeah. I used to follow Malkin for a couple of years; they see me as the same thing (Stopped because Life Got Busy, and resulted in I’m In Australia, Getting Stronger muahahahaha!) Something that should be raped into submission, an animal otherwise that should be put down, because she’s a traitor to the brown race minority like I am. The things they call Malkin are horrifying in their hate, so really I’m expecting the magma-hissing racism from the vileprogs if I ever become even a moderate success. The funny thing is, women like her are not uncommon in the Philippines. Not the typical, but not surprising either.

    2. This is what I meant about an author being able to use their imagination and create something that didn’t come from their soul. You can create a character you abhor. But to create situations and hold them up as desirable, in which children are victimized? That’s when I can’t read any longer.

  16. I’ve lost the book and the author’s name; but, in the book “How to write a damn good novel” the author made one point very clear- Make both your hero and villain larger than life. The story demands it.
    The vileprogs, I like that name for them, appear to be proud that ‘their truth’ is shocking to the norm; therefore, justifying it even more.

        1. You’re welcome; I had book one, don’t know how I lost it. One of the many trips to the used book store at the library I suppose. I like to donate the more educational books to them since that’s where serious readers are. Sarah provides a lot of the same tips, otherwise, now that I know that a new copy is out, I’d get the advanced copy.

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