Homeward Bound

Well I wish I was…

Home, where my thoughts escaping…

Take me home, country road…

For as fair as these foreign hills may be…

Home. It’s a lot more than a house. Or a place, necessarily.  It’s somewhat more complicated, because it seems to vary in meaning according to who you ask.  For me – well, we fly home today. I’m off to a little island I was not born on, in a country I was not born in (but am now a proud citizen of). It’s home in a way that my old country has never been home, since I was a pre-teen – when home was just where you lived and that was where your parents lived, and you never thought about it much.

Home, for me, anyway, is the place you are not an outsider.  The island with its remoteness, small, integrated community who tend to see the world in not too different a fashion from me, are my kind of people, and just stepping out of plane I feel at home.

It’s also a family. Heh. Maybe because willy-nilly you’re not entirely an outsider there, as much as you or some relatives may desire it.

When this post goes live I will be flying away from England – I’ve been visiting my son and his wife in Cambridge, and I know leaving them will hurt. Cambridge is home for them. It could never be home for me, but that is their choice and path, and I wish them joy and success in it. I wish it were a bit closer to what I consider ‘home’ but they’re happy and safe, which is all a dad should require.

But it got me questioning what ‘home’ really was – it’s a core theme in CHANGELING’S ISLAND. Tim has a deep bond with the island itself, with the land as a living entity, with lifestyle, with the people, with his ancestry. ‘Feel at home’ is also a fair description for finding a like group (where, as I said you’re not an outsider). It’s a powerful theme and a powerful emotion – and those are always worth a writer’s attention.

When the Puppy Kickers decided to burn their village down to save it, they were saying, de facto, that the village where all fans supposedly would feel at home ‘WorldCon’ was in fact not ‘home’ for anyone who did not think precisely as they did. That merit was irrelevant (work was ‘no awarded’ unread) that the ideology of one small part of the demographic trumped everything else. For years now many of us had not felt at home there – but had gone along with the pretense, supported the structure. They established clearly and finally that yes, we were outsiders. No, we were not welcome. Yes they would openly discriminate… Which de facto destroyed the old village.

Shrug. Actually getting these things into open, leaving a ‘home’ where you were not at home, is a often better option, sometimes for both parties. Of course, when you’re a demographic minority, reliant on the goodwill of the majority to keep your favorite authors writing and earning, it’s the equivalent of having the person who paid 76% of the bills move out, but I am sure they’re happy to lose that, as long as as the Puppies go too… at least for the short term. Long term forward planning has pointedly NOT been Puppy Kicker trait.

The question then for those who move away: where is ‘home’?


    1. Not being a person who can get to cons for direct inspection right now, I’m reduced to going by the floor plans and the neighborhoods.

      LibertyCon would most likely be home for me – but, alas, it is another small village. DragonCon is the place to go for the big city atmosphere.

  1. I greatly enjoyed your last book purchased as part of a Baen monthly bundle. I left a favorable review on Amazon. Charming young adult book.

  2. It’s been easier for me to move out of the Science Fiction ghetto than for a lot of other authors, since my main body of work doesn’t have spaceships or rayguns. My main influences, Burroughs (both of them), Dick, Delany, Effinger, and so on, were never particularly welcomed there either.

    I like “Slipstream” as a genre title and I hope it takes off. I use “Urban Fantasy” at present–it has less baggage.

  3. I was surprised at how familiar the island culture of [i]Changeling’s Island[/i] seemed to me. It reminded me forcefully of the small town folk of Downeast coastal Maine. You get accustomed to not having secrets there 🙂 Gossip is a full-contact sport, but it works both ways–when the jungle telegraph spreads the word that Joe can’t clam because he broke his leg, and his wife is expecting their third, then mysteriously a cord of split wood will appear in Joe’s driveway (stacked), Joe’s friend will stop by with some lobster/scallops/whatever that are “too small to sell”, the neighbors will invite the two youngest kids for a sleepover with their kids (with heat, and lots of food), and so on. But it isn’t CHARITY, good god no.

    I lived there for a year. Not considered a local by a long shot, but since I “wintered over” (not a tourist, thus) treated as house-trained 😉 Good people. If they only have two cornflakes, they’ll give you one. But they won’t talk about it…

  4. “Actually getting these things into open, leaving a ‘home’ where you were not at home, is a often better option, sometimes for both parties.”

    I must quibble. SF is my home. I’ve lived here all my life and I’m not leaving. The Hugo clique is like finding mouse poo. You go around the house, you keep finding little turds here and there.

    We finally found the nest, pulled the top off and now the mice are roiled. Such is the nature of vermin, when discovered they make a ruckus. Poor babies. Maybe they should learn not to crap on the kitchen floor.

    Soon enough they’ll find something else to infest. I hear noises that some SJWs have set their sights on knitting, of all things. They’re having a go at Social Justice fabric arts. “Yarn Bombing” no less. Some jackass knitted up a tea cozy for a tank over in Europe, they’re all in love with it. That’s every bit as stupid as any grimdark NK Jemsin story, with extra slavery sauce. Talk about tiny little turds.

    I’m not at all satisfied with burning down the Hugos. That’s just a start, really. I’m interested in creating an SJW-unfriendly environment in modern SF/F literature, where their asinine and destructive ideas get the reception they actually deserve. Where the reason they don’t get a Hugo is that we voters all fall down laughing at their abject stupidity, rather than us having to make up a special campaign to kick their asses. That’s way more work than its worth, really.

    Bottom line, I’m already home. I’m going -nowhere-, and I’m not putting up with vermin in the house. The knitters can kick the sumbitches out of their knitting awards themselves.

  5. The SFF field as a whole doesn’t feel much like home any more, that’s for sure. While there are still plenty of writers whose work I enjoy, I’m getting sick of the hateful behavior and attitudes I’m seeing. I’ll be doing a lot more reading in detective/noir fiction, classic pulp, and straight history than SFF once I’ve finished some things I’ve committed myself to review. I’m also going to be cutting back on reviews and blogging to focus on my own fiction writing.

  6. Everyone has their own definition of home. I have two: Where I hang my hat quickly becomes “home;” and the warm, fuzzy, connotations of “home” that most people seem to have is tied as much to a time as to a place. The idea of home as a place of acceptance by a community isn’t there, maybe because one side of the family has tended to be loners for at least a century and likely far longer.

    I’ve never looked at SF/F as “home” in any sense. Tolerance was never there for those of us who held the “wrong” views, and the self appointed gatekeepers have only become more shrill and juvenile. Home? No. A middle school will all the self-important cliques that those of us who don’t give a flip snicker at? You bet. And just like a school, the self-important cliques don’t hold a monopoly. You can find good things, and, wonders of wonders, they’re seldom what the cliques shriek is “real” SF/F.

    Right now I’m slogging through a fantasy book (definitely not written by present company) that had good reviews, but is so light weight it floats on air. Was suckered in by good reviews, and was immediately assaulted by cardboard characters and poorly thought out cultures and magic. It was supposed to be humorous, but the only joke I’ve found is on the poor reader who buys it. Ah, but it does seem to hit the clique checklist, even where it doesn’t work with the technology and culture, and apparently that’s all that matters.

    I won’t be shunning SF/F because of that, because they’re good books out there. I will, however, be avoiding not only the author, but those who gave this thing thumbs up.

    So the Worldcon usual suspects can clutch the Hugo and scream “My precious!” until perdition has a cold snap. I’ll still be reading SF/F, just it’ll be the good stuff and not the “approved” twaddle.

    1. “The idea of home as a place of acceptance by a community isn’t there, maybe because one side of the family has tended to be loners for at least a century and likely far longer.”

      Oh yes. Heard that one. I should have added to my comment above, Science Fiction is where my brain lives, I have nothing to do with the “fan community”. Good thing too, from what I’ve seen lately the fan community is a bunch of fake-faced commies looking for somebody to stab in the back.

      Little Damien Walter is on Twitter today calling for the banning of the Rabids, to restore sanctity to the Hugos or some other such self-serving drivel. I do not want that guy somewhere behind me where I can’t see him.

      Can’t stand communities. Don’t belong to one, don’t live in one.

  7. My one-word answer to your question: HERE.

    And by that I mean all of the online communities that have gathered around the sorts of writers who haven’t hoisted The Well-Known Kool-Aid. You, Mr. Freer, and the whole bunch, whom I don’t think I need to name, apart from Sarah, who hurled me into Indie by main force after I’d been waffling for years.

    My only discontent is that I can’t hang with all of you in person, like I used to hang with my friends in SF, um, thirty or forty years ago. Lapels and wallpaper apart, I really *liked* the 70s. Fandom has been going slowly downhill from there until ten or fifteen years ago, when it simply leapt into the abyss. I ducked into Chicon a few years back (it’s my home town) to see if anything had gotten better, but for the most part it hadn’t.

    Do we need to re-create the whole con infrastructure? Maybe not. We have online services that would allow us to create regular, small-scale in-person meetups all over the country. Once I’m done moving to Phoenix I’m going to try that. We’ll see how it goes.

    In the meantime, online home will do. I’m ashamed to admit that I had almost given up on SF entirely. Silly boy. Won’t make *that* mistake again.

    1. I’ve not been too fond of any conventions, but beyond that I agree with you. This is blog and Sarah Hoyt’s have become very much a writer home for me… even if I’m not the chattiest.

      1. I believe it was C. S. Lewis who made the point that friends don’t have to be talking all the time to be friends. My impression is that when you’ve had something to say, it was worthwhile.

  8. Read a pretty good YA alternate world fantasy recently, The Lost Sun by Tessa Gratton. Had some dumb bits and I had some bones to pick with the worldbuilding (and no, Baldr is not a sun god except for Victorians obsessed with solar myths, sheesh), but overall a fun Norse fantasy with some deep moments. Did a nice job of being romantic without mush.

  9. Not too far from your examples: “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” [Robert Frost]

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