We Can’t Just All Get Along

I didn’t wanna do it. Really, I didn’t. But I’ve got a teething three-month-old, which leaves about *that* much creative juice. Oh, you can’t see that? Oh, sorry. (Actually, that’s probably a good thing, for any number of reasons) Well, I’m holding my index finger and thumb apart. At least, I’m told it’s apart, but it feels like together. I’m also told physics gets a little weird when you get that small. Anyway, we have a temporary solution to Wee Dave’s concerns over his molars (yeah: definitely my child, though I send Significant Dark Looks toward his Avo, who appears to have passed on some heredity-by-adoption I could have done without), and hopefully I’ll get to the prologue for Signals (a project most of you don’t yet know about. Hush, you’ll find out in good time) today. See, there’s this guy, and he’s from the Revolutionary War and he’s dead, but he’s kinda not, and he’s in a dimension that kinda-sorta-maybe feels like a giant 1940’s noir New York-L.A.-Chicago-New Orleans. Anyway, it’s complicated, and there are demons. Except they’re not really demons. So I hope to get to that today, probably after my grandparents’ dining set arrives.

Where was I? Right: I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to write about the Hugos, as there’s been a metric crap-ton written about them already. Cousin Kate (long story, turns out we’re family. Be afraid.) wrote an excellent summary of how the voting works. That was up yesterday, if you missed it. Despite having participated for a few years, I could never wrap my head around it. I agree with her conclusions: good for politics. Which should tell you all you need to know about WorldCon and the Hugos Awards these days. I agree with her other conclusion, about how the best reward is green and folds. It’s the reason I got into this whole protituti-authorial gig in the first place. Well, that and my constitutional inability to fit neatly into corporate America (No, really: lengthy commutes make me break out in green skin and purple pants. It’s weird).

Larry Correia, Int’l Lord of Hate, Cismale Gendernormative Fascist, husband, father, and all-around great guy, put up his Aftermath to the Aftermath to the Hugos a couple of days ago, if you missed it. In it, he reiterates that the point wasn’t to win, but to expose the sham of a group of three thousand or so fans marching in lockstep (Aside: this is a rhetorical device used suggest that all of the WorldCon attendees/voters are more or less the same. It’s not true, as I know plenty of them. This, however, is an editorial piece, and I’m not pretending at objectivity, unlike those on the other side of this putative divide. See my authenticity, transparency, and honesty.) allegiance to a concept of scifi that seems to exclude the vast majority of the fanbase as a whole. For a worthy treatment of that last bit, see Brad Torgerson’s post mortem on the Sad Puppies 2 campaign. No, really: go read it. And the comments.

Which brings me to my point. This divide is killing science fiction fandom as we know it. It’s a microcosm of post-Marx politics, wherein you have no opponents, only enemies whose skulls you aren’t yet drinking from. This is a bit of problem in what is still, largely, a family affair. Seriously, we’re not all that different, despite the attempts to demonstrate that one side is composed of nothing but jackbooted theocrats, hoping in the dark hell of their spawning pits that this is the day they’ll get to crucify those people who choose to live differently, those who look different, and all those uppity women, too. Yes, even the female ones.

The cries of “Diversité! Egalité! Inclusivité!” are nigh deafening, just loud enough to cover the sound of editorial Guillotines chopping off the careers of those who speak out about the abuses of the system. If it wasn’t for indie (and Baen, who takes a remarkably American approach to selling the written word) I expect Brad, Larry, John C. Wright and the Most Hated Man in Science Fiction, the incorrigible Vox Day, himself (who, it should be noted, expressed a very gentlemanly response to coming in sixth out of five for that particular Hugo), would likely have to go back to their day jobs for all the quasi-public outcry. And character assassination, though I’ll get to that shortly.

I say quasi-, because outside of publishing and a certain subset of fandom, most people have no idea this conflict is even happening. Look, when I have to explain to avid readers how the publishing system works in order for them to understand why things are as odd as they are (and this – the Hugo controversy, the ongoing Amazon-Hachette wrangle, the combustibility of the Twitterverse, etc. – does looks strange to people who deal with madness-of-a-different-color every day), that should suggest to even the most partisan of my readers that our troubles amount to a pretty small hill of beans in this crazy world. Keep firmly in mind that readers go to a store, get a book, and read it. More these days, they’ll log onto Amazon, download a book, and read it. They certainly don’t ask pointed questions about the ethnic extraction of a given author, or what she thinks about the plight of the indigenous peoples of southeast Asia. They have little knowledge and less interest about the ins-and-outs of the publishing industry as a whole, beyond a vague, “huh, I wonder how that works?”

To paraphrase Sayre’s Law, “politics in the publishing industry is so vicious precisely because the stakes are so low.” When a minor celebrity – and outside of King, Rowling and a few others, authors are ALL minor celebrities, at best – gets accused of such things as beating his family, there might be a problem in the way you’re managing things, Science Fiction. This is arguably libel. Libel is bad. I may dislike a person personally and professionally, but it goes beyond the pale to suggest, just in passing, you understand, that I understand his wife had a couple of bruises on her arm at the grocery store the other day, and isn’t he such a big and angry man? This is the kind of rumor that can get families torn apart, under the watchful and well-armed eye of the government.

And that, right there, is the point of this whole screed. This kind of behavior is a rot. This rot is poisoning our family, and it’s poisoning scifi fandom. The outside world, when they notice us, is saying, “aren’t they the ones who can’t handle jokes? Who get all pissy when you mention Dark Vader (true story: I totally thought that was his name, when I was three) and don’t like football?” Consequently, despite all the press high-powered nerds have gotten over the past decade or so, with the continued rise of technology, and introduction of such freaking awesomeness as reactionless drives (I know, I know, still testing. I can hope, see?), handheld computing and carrying around a library on my touchscreen device (something I dreamed about as a kid), we’re still at the place of, “what’s with the funny-looking dice, nerds?” most of us experienced sometime in school.

This may sound like an appeal to unity. It’s not. If you want one, Toni Weisskopf wrote one back in March. I’m not that optimistic. I think the poison has gone too deep. I don’t expect scifi (or SF, or even SF/F: YMMV) to die, certainly. I do expect it to fragment. Given the accusations of sour grapes from one side, and collusion (not necessarily cheating, especially given Larry’s Aftermath post) from the other side, and the attending storm of angst and ill will, I expect fandom to fracture on ideological lines. Namely, those interested in art and literature, and those interested in having fun.
Which is really what this comes down to. Why are you part of this community? Is it for the sniping, the endless clever lines scoring points off of your “opponents?” Or is it a matter of enriching lives worn by the cares of the world? What are we, as a community, going to look like in a decade, two decades? Older, grayer and more tired, attending the same panels with the same panelists and the same tired, gray topics? Me, I’m in it for the money (Pipe down, you. You know who you are!), and that doesn’t happen without work, so I’m going to go do- oh, never mind: Wee Dave is complaining again.

46 comments

  1. But but but… They are so concerned about the “evil in the world” that they believe that anybody who doesn’t “shout at the evil” must be evil as well!!!! [Frown]

    1. And here’s me, thinking that, oh, I dunno, RIFs beheading and crucifying Yazidis, Christians, and American journalists might count a little higher on the whole “evil scale” than when someone snarks at silly articles desperately in need of such snark.

      1. But that would be Racist!! [Sarcasm]

        My cynical self thinks that they “know” that it is safer to “rant” at Conservatives and Christians than it would be to “rant” at RIFs.

        After all, we don’t riot or cut people’s heads off. [Frown]

        1. For all their talk of feeling unsafe around us, they know we won’t lay a finger on them absent sufficient provocation. It’s why they will do as much as they can to dance with the line between sufficient and insufficient. They can look heroic without endangering themselves in any way.

          If we were as horrible as they think, they would never say a word because too many of them would have been killed.

          1. Boundary pushing in children and teenagers is completely understandable. Boundary pushing in adults is immature and unkind.

          2. “I’m not touching you! I’m not touching you!”

            They depend way too much on the Right being the true bastions of civilization. Lord knows there have been times where I’ve fantasized about really hauling off and doing someone some well-deserved harm, but I always have that rational part in my brain that stops me, thinking of the consequences. And when they count on that and when we LET them get away with their bullshit for so long, we allow the line that shouldn’t get crossed to be pushed further and further along.

            But one day that sleeping giant shall be roused. I don’t know what it will be, perhaps in a decade when they propose a law that prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sex-offender status. They’ll probably make it sound reasonable because we’ll ALL be registered by then for Inappropriate glances or something.

            Better to start pushing back now before the tidal wave hits and crushes everything.

            1. I’ve actually thought about that a few times myself. It’s not something I would ever do, because I’m better than that, but I’m not everyone. I hate to tell them this, but if they keep labeling us as such, sooner or later, someone’s going to say, “screw it” and act the way they say we will. It won’t be pretty. After all, we have the guns. 🙂

  2. I see on Twitter that Damien G Walter is still flinging poo at Larry. Maybe someone should tell Damien his side “won” and that this makes him look like a poo-flinging monkey.

    1. Not true.
      A poo-flinging monkey could presumably write a novel if he sat in front of a word processor long enough.

      1. Ah, but you see, Damien has much more important things to do, like promoting the petition to change the World Fantasy Award statuette from H P Lovecraft to Octavia Butler.

              1. Paul, I think y’all missed my point. I meant “I know beyond the shadow of the terrible old ones who H. P. Lovecraft is, but who in the blazes is Octavia Butler and by what twisted yardstick does she rate higher?” I hope that’s a bit more clear.

                Jefferson

                1. She was a Black Woman. That’s all the idiots need to know. [Frown]

    2. As little maturity as he’s shown throughout this whole shebang, I’m completely unsurprised. I had hoped for nothing more than, “the right side won,” which is what they seem to believe. Oh, well: hope for the best; prepare for the worst.

  3. Thing is, an infection is the perfect example of the phrase: “that which does not kill you only makes you stronger.”
    An infection causes the body to produce antibodies to fight it off. You, and I, and Sarah, and a whole host of ELoE folk are those antibodies. Against the rot that has taken hold we speak out, attack that rot in every effective way we can imagine. And most of us are real good at imagine.
    Could the rot take over and kill the body that is SFF? Possibly so, but I find that idea highly unlikely. Does that mean that we can let down our guards? Oh Hell no! To quote another classic homily: “All that evil needs to succeed is for good men to do nothing.”
    So we all keep posting and maintain that shaving edge on our shark razors and at every opportunity unleash the hounds of ridicule on the SJW GHH lib/prog idgits.
    And encourage wee Dave to keep up working on those teeth. I know of any number of buttcheeks simply crying for his tender attentions.

  4. One very minor quibble. The slander that Larry was hit with is libel. Not close to it, but is libel.

    Libel is a tough one to win in court. I know of a fight that was decided in the circuit in Texas {forgot the circuit number, sorry}, where the good guy was sued for a good six figure number. The good guy won, the bad guy was told to pay the good guy’s court costs and attorney {$50k}, and of course, never paid.

    That’s when you win being sued for libel. It cost the “winner” $50k. This case was spurious. The case Larry has may not be.

    The thing about a lawsuit is that it changes other people’s viewpoints. Would Larry “win” even if he won? Or would the lawsuit cost a heck of a lot more than he gained.

    It doesn’t have to be Larry. It could be anyone.

    The one good thing about the lawsuit, the only good that came out of it, was that folks became much more careful how they expressed themselves online. What one says online can be held against one in a court of law.

    As smart as the folks that have a following, on the left side are supposed to be, one would think they would have a clue as to what the potential cost of slandering someone could be. A few of them don’t seem to get it. Maybe more than a few…….

    The thing is, that in the long run, no one wins an internet flame war. Maybe those munching on the popcorn wanting cheap entertainment, but if you’re a participant, you spend too much time involved, which eats up time that you could be working.

    1. The real world versions of the GHH and SJW folks have changed the justice system so that there is no longer “a presumption of innocence”.
      They operate on the “have you stopped beating your wife” principle with devastating consequences. Until this kind of behavior has penalties, it will just get worse

  5. I think… I don’t know what I think. I think that this goes far beyond science fiction fandom so in that sense it’s not isolated. It’s gaming, on-line or not, media, movies… Granted it may all have far less traction than it seems to have if you watch a tumblr stream… and there is a reason that teenagers and 20’s these days have started using “that’s raciss” as a joke. They’re willing to get on board about all those others who came before them being racist but when the rubber hits the road, eventually, they’re going to be all, “You called me a what?”

    People are getting tired of it, and not just grumpy people.

    My feeling is that for a long time most people were on board… I remember baldilocks asking us why white people got so freaked out if someone called them racist (that’s not exactly how her question went, but it was a very long time ago) and person after person explained that the mere accusation could ruin you… destroy your career, lose your job. That the accusation made you feel sick to your stomach and upset and horrified that anyone would say such a thing. Obviously, the accusation had (and I will use past tense) incredible power.

    The boy who cried wolf… very apt.

    And maybe the road is rough at the moment, and maybe the shrill are becoming more shrill… but it’s because they’re losing power, not gaining it.

    “You called me a what?”

  6. It’s not just the shrillness of the SJW brigade; it’s the sheer lunacy.

    I saw this morning when I checked headlines that there’s two URGENT CONTROVERSIES!!!1!! raging in the world of comics, of all places: Spider-Woman’s butt is too large and shapely, and in the latest Scooby Doo movie they’re “fat-shaming” Daphne.

    Oh yeah, and last week Marvel decided to make Thor a girl.

    *headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk*

    They’ve got to suck the fun out of everything, Just friggin’ stop already.

        1. Mr. Wright is awesome at doing the big-flourish-swirl-the-cloak-and-wave-the-fencing-sword type verbal takedowns.

          Sometimes I prefer a simple and direct one, but I can do those, and wow is it pretty….

        2. I keep getting the giggles:
          But Marvel says the way to attract the female fans is not to have more romance, or more love stories, or more Loki, but instead to have beefy females who look like Soviet-era lady weightlifters smashing trolls in the tusks with a honking big hammer.

          Really? I thought girls LIKED Loki? I am not sure why. Just because he is a Bad Boy and rebel who plays by his own rules but is tormented by inner demons and has dreamboat eyes blue as laser beams shot through sapphires? Girls! Who can figure out what they like?

          And that picture…. >.<'

          1. When I saw that I heard Loki saying “Ta-daa.” And nearly drowned in hot chocolate – infused giggles.

            I’m so glad Hiddleston got the Loki role. He owns the character.

            The second Thor movie was awesome and hilarious. I wonder if it’s come out on DVD yet.

            But extra extra props for Wright completely understanding the Draco-In-Leather-Pants syndrome.

            1. Of course he understands it, it’s the same sort of response as the evil space princess fandom he has.

              ….

              Loki. Evil space princess.

              I think I need more sleep…..

            2. Yes, Thor: The Dark World is on DVD, I had it a week or so ago from Netflix.

              BTW, my outbox says you have an unread DA Note from me dating back to early July.

  7. Sounds like the smell on the internet is smellier than Little Dave. Have fun while he is little and small. As for the Hugos, it just confirms what I have been thinking for a long time about awards. Green is good– ask the trees, they agree with me.

    1. Thanks, Cyn. The teething is proving challenging, as I can’t get a ton written while he wails. Otherwise, he’s a delight. Seriously, this kid’s smile, if I could distill it and bottle it, he could buy his own university with the proceeds. Actually, might need to set Uncle Robert and EP on that one. With suitable oversight by Speaker, of course…

  8. Namely, those interested in art and literature, and those interested in having fun.

    Eeeeh…. *wiggles hand* Real art, and real literature, can be real fun. It’s the status marker versions that suck….

    I’m on the “does what it’s supposed to” side, and against the “signals I’m a Real Good Person!” side.

    1. Sorry, sorry: ART and lit-er-a-choor. Actually, I almost went with the Hugos awarding the best literary scifi, but then I realized they claim to award the BEST in the entire GENRE. Yeah, sorry, nope. Unless, of course, those peasants who don’t like lit-fic in their scifi get an equal say without shelling out money (which so many can’t afford, your claim of representation is bunk.

  9. My oldest daughter and my son, who are both tireless promoters for me, tend to introduce their friends to my work by saying, “This book is science fiction–but it’s not like most science fiction, it’s exciting.”

    I am seeing a growing perception that science fiction novels are as dull as literary fiction. Young people grow up on Star Wars and then are given books like “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Ridley Walker” and so they give up on trying to read in the genre, they stick to movies and TV shows, and read Urban Fantasy, which hasn’t become infected with literary affectations yet.

    1. I am seeing a growing perception that science fiction novels are as dull as literary fiction.

      This was true for myself. My childhood scifi included Star Trek and Star Wars, Aliens, and similar such things (since I grew up partly in the East side of Germany, and then later the West, and returned to the Philippines before reading fiction became really popular again). I made several attempts to read sci-fi that wasn’t in the franchises and found the ones available (not a large amount I’m afraid – the scifi-fantasy section in the local bookstores in the Philippines dwindled from a set of bookshelves to only two shelves at one point) mind-numbingly boring. I read through A Brief History of Time (I know it’s not sci-fi, but wait) and realized that Hawking made a POINT of making the book readable. The concepts and ideas may not be easy to understand, but he tries, and he doesn’t bore the reader to tears while attempting to explain those concepts. I had much better luck with fantasy books than sci-fi, which probably is why there’s so much more of it in the YA genres. Fantasy is perceived of as ‘fun’ and sci-fi as ‘boring’ which is a huge drawback I think.

      1. Or it’s “space ships and blasters and fighting,” no offense to D. Weber, J. Ringo, Mike W. et all. We’ve got to get more stuff out there for people to choose from that isn’t Grey Goo and doesn’t have spaceships on the cover (because of COURSE all sci-fi is about spaceships. Even if there’s almost 0 spaceships in said book.)

        1. The Mad Wizard, John and MadMike (noting a pattern, there, I does) are doing mostly MilSF, so I get the exploding spaceships. Along with our own Peter Grant, for that matter (love those covers, Peter). It’s an easy – and for them, forthright – manner of signalling subject. And for those three, at least, they’re all Baen, who is …. mmmmm, partial, let us say, to exploding spaceships. That said, while they may have the market cornered on MilSF, and I’d argue against it, as Peter seems to be doing fairly well going indie with his, there’s TONS of markets out there that aren’t being filled. John Carter tributes would likely do well. Scifi that’s heavier on the romance without losing any of what makes it scifi. More later: errands call.

        2. Technically the consistent sci-fi outside of Star Trek/Wars I read would have been Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series. I borderline include Diane Duane’s Young Wizardry series into ‘SciFi’ because it honestly straddles, blurs, dances on and skips around on the line between ‘Fantasy’ and ‘Sci-Fi’ for me.

          Anne Bishop’s short Sci-Fi story was a really, really good concept sans the blasters; had spaceships and fighting, though not much of the physical kind.

    2. I had given up on the entire genre. I thought I had outgrown it or something. Nothing that had been published and available in my local bookstore interested me. Then, one blessed day I followed a link from a political blog to Mrs. Hoyt’s site and there found the huns. I fell in love again. I started reading new works for the first time in more than a decade, especially Mr. Peter Grant.
      Thank the Gods for Indie publishing and Baen.

  10. I have a dream. A dream that one day all authors will be judged by the quality of their prose, not by the color of their skin, nor by the color of their politics nor even by the contents of their undergarments.
    Probability going to remain a dream, but at least I can judge authors in that manner. Perhaps, by example, we can show the way.

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