How To Write Conspiracies
Yes, I have guest posts that are better than this. Yes, they will go up. But right now, on Easter Sunday, when the Hugo announcement is sucking all the oxygen out of the room (Is there anyone out there, ’cause it’s getting harder and harder to breathe) I thought I’d do a PSA on how to write conspiracy theories.
The reason I’m sure this is needed are the people who are against all possible and imaginary sense still insisting this Hugo thing was NOT about making the award one fans at large (by which we don’t mean fans-at-convention-only who, presumably are a little more plugged into the scene and therefore don’t need the Hugo to make them aware of works) respect as a reading list of sorts. Not a bit of it. The Hugo was about pushing women and minorities out of writing science fiction.
Now, I’ll say with Kris Rusch (having seen it in action) that the publishing field is one of the most racist and sexist establishments in the world. This is absolutely true, unless you think demanding that you write “authentic” (according to them) fiction just because you have a vagina or a tan is not sexism or racism. The whole idea that people not of color/womb can write whatever they want but we (designated victims) must write according to our poor little victimhood makes me want to spit. And I’ve had works rejected (as the reason openly given) for having gay characters, particularly when their being gay wasn’t the MAIN point of the story, even if it was needed for plot reasons, (Yes, say it with me Thank G-d For Baen.) Oh, not with any sort of consistency. Soul of fire has a gay secondary character. (And a character of a different race, too.) BUT its very inconsistency makes it difficult because you can’t predict before you invest heart and soul into a character.
The note I want to make here, though, is that this rampant discrimination has ZERO to do with Sad Puppies. It’s an establishment thing, and we gonzo people are mostly Baen and indie. So, if you’re mad at discrimination, you’re pointing fingers at the wrong things.
Worse than that, though, if our goal was to push women and minorities out of the ballot, man, are we doing a lousy job. Why two of the people organizing this are, according to the by ghod feds minorities. And at least three of us are female. Our point woman for next year is Kate the Impaler, for crying outloud. (And by chosen I mean she said “I’d like to do it.” — we didn’t even have to nominate her while she was in the bathroom. This was good considering that we have no idea what our quorum is or who gets to vote.)
Also, the solution to discrimination is never to discriminate the other way. No, trust me, we have history to tell us that. That is called “revenge war” or “balkanization” not justice. Justice is not to notice whatever the characteristics that were discriminated against are and to reward people according to their character, their actions and, in the case of a literary award, VERY IMPORTANTLY their writing.
So it occurs to me these people have no idea how conspiracies work. I shall help:
1- Conspiracies are never carried out in the open. No, not even if their stated goal is not the same as their secret goal. A conspiracy carried out in the open is in fact a conversation or perhaps a rallying cry, not a conspiracy.
2- I know this is tough, and some of us have been saying it for years re: Iran and it seems to evade the minds of Super GeniusesTM but, if someone is conducting a campaign and says they’re doing something for a reason (Say “death to America” or “To make the Hugos worth the plastic and plating they’re made of again”) BELIEVE THEM. Again, conspiracies are neither conducted in public nor conducted with dual public and private motives.
3- There isn’t a conspirator under every bed. If a conspiracy numbers in the thousands, it’s probably not a conspiracy. If it were someone would bring news of secret meetings, password being Flying Fish or whatever. Yes, yes, I know, Kennedy’s association, etc. But those aren’t conspiracies, they’re lunacies. Real conspiracies, focused and with real and immediate objectives become shaky after more than 3 people are added.
4- A group of like-minded individuals can coordinate action/commit injustice/pervert order without being a conspiracy. All it takes is a general objective they all agree on (this is for instance what we contend has been happening to the Hugos for years) and which flies in the face of the objective of the organization/country/group they ostensibly serve (if it doesn’t fly in the face of those it’s just called “doing their job”) and some means of communication. Actual coordination ala Journolist is rare and tends to come out sooner or later (like Journolist) but you don’t need that. All you need is word of mouth and a group that shares the same lockstep ethos.
5- Not all conspiracies are bad. Depending on what your point of view for “bad” is. However conspiracies often are the work of power hunger individuals which is why so many revolutions that start with a conspiracy end badly. That said, if you’re writing a conspiracy, be aware that conspiracies can be for the noblest of motives. Throughout history people have conspired to depose bad kings, free the oppressed and other generally thought worthy objectives.
And that’s about all I’m going to write today. Those of you who celebrate Easter have a happy day and those who don’t have a happy day anyway. Go away from the keyboard and enjoy family or friends or sunshine or kittens or puppies, and take a deep breath, so you can come back to your writing energized.