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.


16 thoughts on “How To Write Conspiracies

      1. Cut me some slack, I was up late last night and woke up early due to the buzz saw noise emanating from my wife’s sinus cavity.

        I’m doing good to recognize English. 😛

        1. LOL. Actually that is one of those stereotypes that exist because they’re true. People raised in a Portuguese culture and subtlety are rarely seen together.

            1. Because obviously since this conversation absolutely does not support their precious narrative it must be nothing but a pack of lies. Certainly all right thinking people know that Sarah, and Kate, and Amanda are really pen names of evil old white men trying to subvert the purity and feelz of Hugo for their own nefarious motives.
              The above is my submission to the how-to-write-a-conspiracy contest. Is the trophy still a gold plated shovel with brown streaks, or did the committee go with the new design, a painted pile of what the shovel shoveled?

  1. I’ve decided to go ahead and spend the $40 to get a voting membership, and the books to read, next payday. 🙂 I wouldn’t have done that except for Sad Puppies. And I’ll vote the books/stories I enjoy out of them. 🙂

    I still haven’t decided on the KC convention yet, even though I live here. Though if there’s a bunch of Huns/Mad Geniuses here, I’d like to meet up with you somehow.

    We’ll have to see how broke we are next year.

  2. As prolific as so many of the Sad/Rabid Puppies authors and supporters are, how would they/we find time to get together and conspire? And then there’s the whole hiding-the-money-used-to-buy-memberships folly I’ve seen floating around. It’s bass-akwards: we throw $$ at Correia et al. They do not throw $$ at us. (Probably because Mrs. Correia and Mrs. Lamplighter would give their spouses the royal what-for if they tried.)

  3. I didn’t sleep last night, and I have no idea what this post references. But I know it’s important.
    So I write a comment and check the box.

  4. Treating the topic as somewhat serious (just for the novelty!) – another error in depictions of revolts and other sub-rosa activities is assuming a shadowy master evil overlord controlling all the actions of a vast array of minions through covert means.

    What is far more common is for la resistance to be made up of large numbers of small groups (5-8 people tops) of close-knit people. The small groups may well conspire together and act in close accord (being family/neighbors with common interests) and may share values and general aims with other small groups, but are actually often at odds with other small groups, and which absolutely refuse to take direction from outsiders. Thus while each small group can have a significant impact in a limited area, they are restricted in their overall ability to have effect.

    The dissociation and isolation also makes it very difficult to roll up all the members of la resistance, because the small groups don’t know each other well. Terms of rapprochement must be negotiated one group at a time.

    In contrast, a large group must use open communications and reach some degree of common accord. This allows them to multiply their efforts (division of labor) and at the same time to some degree blunts their objectives (because the most radical goals will not be supported by most of the group.) Voluntary agreement to follow the leaders of the open group allows for greater effort towards more moderate goals in part by closing off action on more extreme ventures.

    In the long run, the small groups can not overcome a large group operating in overt open cooperation, but can make life miserable for the larger group. The larger group also has the moral advantage of being able to match honest intent to actions, while survival of the small group rests on distrust and deception. The outcome of a small-group/large-group conflict depends on the patience and resolve of the large group in question. The ability of the large group to shrug off the scattered attacks of the various small groups will see it through to the end, while falling into the deceptive tactics and infighting of the small groups will doom the large group.

    Or so I’ve heard tell.

  5. giggle

    Meanwhile, I am writing a story with an actual conspiracy — the heroine’s in on it — and they are completely secret and, when they come out, honest about their motives.

  6. Didn’t read this on Easter because I was still hung over from the late-night meeting of the ancient group I’m a member of– entered the chamber by candles, had chanting in several languages, observed ancient rituals soaked in symbolism, spoke of our plans to spread the group even more across the world and that we’d have victory, in spite of the apparent strength of the forces both mundane and supernatural arrayed against us….

    You know, the normal stuff. 😀

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