Bare is the brotherless back.
“Even leaving the oceans was bad idea, and the concept of leaving the trees, bound to end in tears and New York City…” I never had a lot of time for genealogy. Life is really about who YOU are and what YOU make of your life. Still genetics – or perhaps family traditions — do seem to if not so much repeat, to follow trends. In some ways my family are a hidebound a set of conservatives – at least about family traditions. The Freer coat of arms, registered in the 1540’s IIRC was granted to William Leacroft Freer. The use of Leacroft as a second or third Christian name is still inflicted on the boys. It was very useful for those games where you could pass if your name had the right letters, and a pain in butt for signing any official document. But no Freer would dream of abandoning the family names. We just inflict them on the next generation.
The family coat of arms crops up even earlier in the lowlands of Scotland – It bears the same charges, and these are unusual – they are dolphins. There may be something in my father’s story that shame over their inability to spell ‘Frere’; drove them south. My inability to spell MUST be genetic!
Because that is what the name means, the motto, in various forms with the various cadet branches is “Love thy brother” or “Brother for Brother”. There is a theory the name derives from Brothers (friars) who took that loving part a trifle physically and, considering they ended up outside of the church and with offspring to carry on the name, not with their brothers, either.
But I didn’t come here to bore you with centuries of my family’s windmill-tilting attempts to out Quixote Quixote or their great public service to future generations, and to amputations (the family appears to have produced generations of doctors – largely to the nobility and gentry. Think how many more of those there’d be if they’d had genius there. And, if that failed, Military Surgeons. Great Grandad was the last of those, a Surgeon General in Ireland, and later in Natal in the Boer war. He probably was responsible for that famous universal military medical treatment, the wire brush and Dettol, good for shrapnel, good for laryngitis. Oh, and the famous Boer complaint about the British feeding prisoners crushed glass – Epsom Salts — but sounds more awful and evil if you claim it as ground glass.)
Instead I wanted to write about one the most valuable things in the sf-fantasy world. Like a lot of us, I blundered into this because I enjoyed sf/fantasy and had from when I was a wee gossoon. It had been part of my life and shaped my life, fed me on dreams and hopes. In a way, I suppose there was nothing I aspired to more as a kid, sitting in warm afterglow of a Heinlein, Norton, Simak or Anderson novel, than to be a writer of such stories. I didn’t dream of matching them, but even half as good, well there must be an insatiable need for those, surely? I’m actually a fairly bright and able monkey, and really could have picked a fair number of possible careers outside of the janitorial, and made a success, and probably a fair amount of money out of it. I did get talked out of writing. I did make a reasonable degree of success out of second-best. But eventually I did come back to writing. A large part of that was… I just wasn’t seeing as many books I wanted to read. I still couldn’t really see myself as a Zelazny or Diana Wynne Jones or Pratchett. But I was sure I could scrape past some of what I was seeing. The need must be dire…
It was a lot harder to succeed at than I’d imagined it could be. I’m the sort of guy that has actually succeeded at rather a lot of things by sheer obstinacy and small amount of brain. This… came very close to beating me. One of the worst parts of it was that I was in a small, far off country, pre-internet (for me anyway) which had barely any fandom, and no traditionally published sf novelists at all (I was the first). There was no group of peers, no brothers-in-arms in this struggle. Just snail-mail.
It was exceptionally isolated.
Two things eventually happened. Firstly, I sold my first novel – on the bludgeoning edge selection technique of sending in alphabetical order subs first to every South African publisher that would accept them, then every UK publisher (most SA books were UK imprints, often of American authors. But I didn’t know that) that would take them (addresses from a years out-of-date Writers and Artists Marketplace) – and then the US. The US was furthest and foreign to me. I was writing my sixth book by then.
And secondly, we finally got the internet – 1999, about 3 months after selling that book.
At last, I thought, discovering the marvels of fandom, and fellow writers, a brotherhood to belong to. No, I didn’t give a damn if ALL of the ‘brothers’ were ‘sisters’. This was family. I was young, gauche, intimidated and brash. A pain in the ass, in other words – but they were ‘family’. It didn’t take long to discover that they were quite a dis-functional family, complete with weird cousin Vinnie and crazy Aunt Lizzie. But they were my family to whom I was loyal. And if my books were good they would love them too, and me. I put my heart into that next book – RATS BATS & VATS, everything I could give. I wanted my brothers-in-arms to get my best, and hopefully recognize it for a good book. After all, it was my first as one of them.
And of course, it got ‘Oh. Baen.’ And ignored from pretty much everyone who wasn’t part of the Baen stable in the traditional establishment. I was very disappointed in the sales (which I think were quite a respectable 21K for the paperback. Back then I thought that very little) and no visibility outside of Baen’s Bar. I started to realize that not all brothers were equal, but I still believed merit triumphed over everything, and I’d just have to work harder. I still remember some time along the track John Ringo said that the Hugos were all about politics and conservatives didn’t get a fair shake. I thought he was nucking futs and said so.
I was wrong. Very wrong. I’ve apologized to him since. But I was still hopelessly idealistic about all. By now I’d come over to the US on a couple of trips to cons, World Con, World Fantasy, and one in Rochester, NY. I was… not on panels, or where I was I’d be the only pro. I attended lots, of course, and yeah, I did realize for some reason I was getting hind-teat. But hey, this was my band of brothers. They just didn’t know me.
It was slowly starting to sink in that it wasn’t all the band-of-brothers, but that there definitely was a very left wing mean girls table in the junior high cafeteria element to it. And just as the brothers weren’t all male, the mean girls weren’t all female.
Still, I made some friends, sold more books, soldiered my way on, slowly realizing that merit might count, but that writers of great merit were falling by the wayside, while for some reason, others got the love and push with little merit that I could see. Remember, this was an outsider, a guy who had spent less than twenty days in the US – which really was where sf/fantasy publishing had its heart. And, almost because I was outside I could see things were slowly getting worse. More marginalizing anyone the mean girls didn’t like. More leaving aside anyone, especially new entrants, that didn’t kiss up right. The places you really needed brotherhood and support as writer – as a little guy dealing with powerful agents, and even more powerful publishers, not to mention the ancillary stuff that hung on these – oddly, the mean girls were snuggling up tight with people who seriously should have been outside the pale. You can’t have an author’s organization that supposedly supports authors – when the very people that screw them over most are inside it, and privy to any discussion.
And then we had the Sad Puppies.
You know what was particularly special about the whole Sad Puppies thing? One author got up and SAID, publicly, what a fair number of people had begun to think. But if you even muttered a hint of it, you were shouted down, and told you were the only person who ever thought that ridiculous thought. Only Larry has a very loud voice, and didn’t mutter. Suddenly quite a few of us realized we weren’t alone, and maybe it wasn’t ridiculous.
I did the numbers properly, saw the situation for what it was… published it, and still fondly and idealistically imagined that the sf-family would look at this and say ‘Oh Shit. That’s not right, we need to fix this.”
Yeah. Well… No. We got text-book communist DARVO. Deny, Attack, Reverse victim with offender. Somehow the small and weak were suddenly supposed to be bullying and threatening the megalithic establishment with every single advantage on its side. We also got the other SOP in their attacks – they set out to isolate and demonize. To destroy careers, to wreck reputations… over what? A plastic rocket? Oddly enough, the behavior of Stalin’s little commissars is remarkably close to that of abusive spouses. Maybe it’s just one of the nasty aspects of humans.
And it was at this point that I suddenly realized the difference between fair-weather acquaintances on a shared road and brothers. There were plenty of people who knew us. Yet when the little commissars from the mean girls table went shrieking that we were everything from Nazis to racists and we must be denounced, ostracized… brothers stood up and said ‘Hang on. I know Dave, he’s a guy who risks his life rescuing people that he can’t possibly know the skin color or orientation of.’ Or “I’ve read his books, he’s not ….ist.” But most of the others – if they were writers anyway – knew that if they did not denounce, the mean girls commissars would turn on them, and proclaim them guilty by association.
Yeah, you learn who your brothers-in-arms are, and just how valuable they are. And how bare the brotherless back is. I’ve lost a lot of acquaintances (if not sales, despite their efforts) over Sad Puppies – but, oddly, I found that brotherhood I was looking for. And no, Sarah, Amanda, Cedar, Dorothy, to name people I have come to value and trust, aren’t male. Brad and Peter are. There are many others, I keep finding new ones. Actually I have no idea what the skin color or sexual orientation of many of my brothers are. However: They share my love for this genre, they want everyone possible to enjoy it, to read it. And they’ll judge you and your work on its merits, and you know they’ve got your back. They’re not going to give up to just to appease the mean girls.
I’ve just been through another DARVO here on MCG — one that illustrates perfectly the waste of time it is to appease the mean girls. Now Brad put up a post here about Camestros Felapaton – a dedicated puppy kicker whose modus operandi was come and sea-lion endlessly, but semi-politely, and then take selective bits back to his own site or Vile 777 and vent his spleen and delight in providing the other puppy kickers in a nice five-minute-hatey hate. Eventually Camestros got banned from here, a long while back. Because I’m a Sun Tzu kind of guy, I’d worked out who this anonymous bow-fly was. I like to know what I am dealing with – and it wasn’t very hard. A simple logic puzzle with increasingly small subsets of people that it could be, and then a case of matching the IP address with a known employment and unlikely-by-chance locality for an Australian of the right interests and background -and then addressing him as ‘Fieldsy’ (his name is Meadows) and having his endless turgid flow suddenly vanish along with him. That was good enough for me. He’s a young ass playing a nasty game, but I was young once. When he turned up again, I warned him to give it up, that it would end in tears for him and his partner.
Fieldsy of course thought himself too smart to take advice from a stupid old man, and despite the evidence, believed he was far cleverer than anyone out there. He has spent an inordinate amount time sea-lioning all over place. He got himself into his usual attacks on everyone not to the left of Lenin, including a fellow, Richard Paolinelli, who is trying to set up an alternative to SFWA – which has become useless to working writers, because it is a mean girls table with editors and agents sitting in. It does little more than play Social Justice games and really – we need a place where writers can be part of a supportive brotherhood. Now, I don’t know Richard at all (we became facebook friends I think two days ago). Somehow (and I don’t know the whole story) Lou Antonelli got involved. Now, my acquaintance with Lou is of the slightest. He writes sf. I’m ready to accept a facebook friend request from almost anyone who does. But I don’t think either of us have posted on the other’s page, prior to this, not even as much as a ‘like’ before this. He seems a damn straight shooter, and a fine fellow that I’d like as a brother, in what I’ve seen since. Lou burst Fieldsy’s anonymity bubble on FB.
Fieldsy or his friends whined, got Lou banned. Lou echoed his post on his own site. Brad, who does know Lou, was quite pissed and amplified the signal.
But, somehow, I gather it’s all MY fault? Because no one could possibly work out the slime trail the soooper genius left behind him. No one but me that is. And yeah, Fieldsy frequently told his friends how dumb I was…
Let’s try a little logic. IF I had wanted to break his anonymity, I’d do it. Remember I’m the guy pointed out that Patrick Neilsen Hayden had his finger in Hugo pie, in breach of the rules – that’s biggest mean girl at the mean girl’s table – I am not scared of confronting the biggest let alone an irrelevancy like Fieldsy. This is pure projection from someone who skulks around in a cloak of anonymity and back-stabs from safety. If I was going to tell someone else when they were harassed – then I would have told one my good friends, like Brad or Sarah. Both of them have been harassed by the twerp, and neither are in least afraid to confront hell with a half cup of spit. But I’m going to rush off and tell some guy I barely know because of a fight I didn’t know was happening? If you believe this, you really have Fieldsy’s level of logic and intellect. I have this bridge to sell you. My only ‘crime’ was telling the young fool to pack it in because he was going to get caught, that he wasn’t as smart as he thought he was – because I can see the obvious and probable end to this saga. And it ends with just what the puppy kickers tried to do to my career. They think the end justifies the means – which is fine for them until they find what they tried to do to others for their ‘end’ happening to them.
Like Bilbo, it was pity that stayed my hand, because I believe the means shapes the end.
I’ll give another bit of advice to Fieldsy and Foz. When you’re in a hole, stop digging. There’s a lot of worse that I don’t think you’ve thought of that you could bring down on yourselves – and not from me. Nothing to do with me. At moment you could walk away with a bit of bruising and 10 years down the track everyone will have forgotten. Keep going and that stops being true. I don’t think you’ve thought of these things because you’re not very logical and not a quarter as bright as you think you are. I’d rather not spell them out in case you start blaming me when they do happen.
But wait! There’s more. Mean Girl Commissar Jim Hines – who never found a SJW pogrom bandwagon he didn’t eagerly try and join, has decided that I am to be isolated and swarmed. I used to think Jim just got on these bandwagons to get noticed. His books have become so SJW preaching that they’re more like long left-wing talking point sermons – which, even with relentless push has a limited market. Hence the need to market himself to that group and to please his publisher, who sees the world similarly, so she’ll push him. Shrug. It’s a dying, small niche, and he and his readers are welcome to it. But looking at his behavior I have come to conclude he actually enjoys it. Think hard about the kind of people who choose to do this.
Hinesy is working hard at the Attack and Reverse part. I haven’t been to twitter for years –since I found out as social media channel it sells miniscule amounts for the author – something like 1 book per 10K followers — but someone sent me a message that he has been stirring desperately to try get a nice pogrom going. To get people to denounce me, people he assumes are ‘friends’. Lots of pointing and shrieking from the mean girl powers of Traditional sf on Twitter – the ones who don’t write much, and sell less, but have all day to spend on Twitter. And his attack and reverse center is… That I said what most people think.
This comes back to Sad Puppies once again: if you can stop people saying what they think, you can convince them they’re isolated and possibly wrong. Or at least you can silence them, so everyone thinking that believes they’re alone. Once it has been said, well they might find that actually nearly everyone thinks that, except for the thought police who consider it evil wrongthink and will try and isolate and swarm you. It’s one of the unexpected rewards of the current US President Donald J Trump – He has actually said what a lot of people thought, but were too scared to say because they got attacked by the SJW thought-police. Now they discover that actually millions of people share that opinion.
And ‘said’ is better than ‘suppressed’. If it is said and can be talked about, you might change my mind arguing a point with me, but silencing doesn’t actually change my opinion. The only time silencing is worthwhile is when you have no point to make.
So: the question was asked as to why Fieldsy was so frantic to deny. After all, it would make him a hero among puppy kickers. And no, no one would be likely to waste effort on doing an actual Doxx, or even anything beyond trivia to him. He’s just too irrelevant. Hinesy really had to dig for this piece to be outraged by – it’s way down in the comments – But I’ll repeat it here, to save you looking. I’ll stop at a point and ask you a question to see if you thought what I thought. (I left out parts 1 & 2 – you can go and look them up if you like.)
3) His efforts started by attacking the sad puppies when his wife was one of the beneficiaries of them being attacked and eliminated. Now, I am of the kind who believes a man ought to support his wife’s work and ambitions – but if he did so in under his own name that would have two negative consequences a)People would see he had vested interest and weigh what he said in that light. b)It shone a light on his partner’s ‘gender-queer’ credentials, that she would be damaged by.
4) As in (3b) Foz is very careful not to talk much about the fact that for a ‘gender-queer’ leading author – she’s quite vanilla, Married, sharing the same name, being supported by and moving with her husband. So: either she’s the Rachael Dolezal of ‘gender-queer’ or he’s a straight man who tolerates her less-than-traditional interpretation of marriage… or he’s also, shall we say ‘genderqueer’ and using marriage as front. As that is a very reminiscent description of the situation between…
Okay so here’s the question: Just which famous sf/fantasy writer and fan ‘marriage for cover’ of a left wing feminist lesbian/bi and her homosexual husband springs immediately to your mind?
Yeah, mine too. And I actually said it. And that was wicked wrong-think. Jim Hines wants you to ostracise me for. Because if I don’t say it ABSOLUTELY no one will think it. /s
My point was that IF their relationship is a front – just one real possibility (and personally I don’t care what they do or don’t do in bed) they had to be aware that this would spring to people’s minds. That’s exactly what I said:
MZB and Breen, if that is the case, there are very good reasons to not draw attention to it.
I have no idea which of these relationship scenarios is correct. But one is. And none of them are things I could see them wanting to draw attention to. People are bound to think precisely what I thought as a possibility. No amount of declaring it wrongthink is going change that. The fact that MZB and Breen were also child abusers and used their left-wing credentials to shield themselves, much like Harvey Weinstein, has to occur to people, no matter if the new version would never dream of it – or not. It doesn’t help that Fieldsy went on the offensive against the book about one of MZB and Breen’s child victims, but that may just have been him being stupid, again.
If you don’t want obvious comparisons made, don’t be like what you’re obviously going to be compared to. Or there’s the Jim Hines/SJW version: Dress like Elvis, do your hair like Elvis, walk around singing ‘you ain’t nothing but a hound dog’ but have a kitten fit if anyone says ‘Elvis’, and demand they be silenced. Or to put it in more current context, if you don’t want your country called a shit-hole, don’t have lots of people dying of fecal-borne disease because lots of your people don’t have basic sanitation. I know: It’s a lot more effective to fix it, but harder work than just demanding everyone condemn whoever said it, and thus silence them –but which is the better option?
So that’s my side of the story. If you want to go along with Commissar Hines and denounce me, go for it. I have brothers at my back and my side. And for the record I can find no statement by Commissar Hines denouncing the left wing feminist lesbian-bi MZB or Breen, or expressing any sympathy or support for their victims, so one has to ask: why does HE finds it suddenly so bad to have someone compared to them? Edit: Mea culpa. As Jayne points out Jim Hines DID once post about them, and, for Hines, it was quite a good post. It didn’t make a point of the fact that they used their association with fashionable left wing causes to run cover, just like Harvey Weinstein. But let’s apply the commissar’s own rules to him. He believes in guilt by mere association and failure to condemn and ostracise with sufficient vigor. I don’t. But his game, his rules. So: has he condemned his associates who were silent, or even tepid or slow? Has condemned the political side they called their own, and groups they belonged to? Nah. Because it’s _different_ when he does it.