I haven’t paid a great deal of attention WorldCon this year: not my circus, not my monkeys. I must admit I’m very bitter with Nora Jemison. If she’d managed to hold off for another 24 hours with her magnanimous decision that she would, after all, grace the fortunate attendees with her participation in programming, I’d have been 50 bucks richer, instead of 10 bucks down (yes, 5:1 best odds I could get.) But other than that expected result, I haven’t paid much attention.  Apparently John Scalzi informed us that the ‘SJW’ did not in fact eat each other alive, but created ‘a field of programming that is interesting, educational, and representative of the current state of sf.’ Oh, and apparently ‘mostly everyone’s happy.’

I believe this is sung to the tune of ‘Everything is Awesome.’ I’m sure the new program is indeed representative (if not quite of the current state of sf which is more than half Indy, and basically uninvolved and disinterested) of the current state of Tor books and its camp-followers. That, after all is his field of expertise, and what he’d like to believe the entire field is.

I’m a little mystified as to why describing a sf conference as ‘educational’ would be attractive to con-goers. Perhaps – given the program and the strong public political views of so many involved… He means REEE!-education? I wonder there is an exam, and those who fail get sent to Gulag? That would be a big attraction, I am sure.

The ‘Interesting’: Well, I am sure Spider Robinson will be, and I sincerely wish him the best with it.

Then there’s an hour of Pronouns Matter — Gender Courtesy for fans, or Ways To Be an Ally or Beyond Nuclear: Queer Families in SF/F or AT: Ecofeminist Science Fiction: Lessons from Literature and MediaI or Ethical Non-Monogamy 101 or AT: The Art of the [Im]Possible: SF and Civic Engagement or What Does a Nontoxic Masculinity Look Like?  I’m sure some people feel this ‘education’ is ‘interesting’ and well worth paying for! Oh and the fascinating one – that I am sure would be educational, ‘representative’ (I do not think that word means quite what he thinks it means. As a small clue, that doesn’t mean 0.05% of the population have more representation than 50%) and of course ‘interesting’. We Will Survive: Diversity in Sci-Fi and Post-Apocalyptic Stories : ‘When the apocalypse hits, why is it that the survivors always seem to be overwhelmingly white, able-bodied, cis or male? Marginalized people are here, have always been here, and we’re not going anywhere–in fact, our experiences may make us better equipped to endure than most. Join us to take a look at the awesome works changing the face of diversity in post apocalyptic or dystopian media.’

Actually, I do find that interesting… Although, also possibly not in the way the panelists do, or John Scalzi does. It seriously has the potential for great stories – although, I suspect once again not in the way our politically correct panelists imagine. I’d give good odds that they look to ‘pushing’ publishing (with suitable reee!-education of the nasty people who actually know anything about the subject, or write it or even read it) in the same way you can guarantee the black character or the gay character in the now ‘diverse’ murder mystery is not the murderer, but the white male middle aged heterosexual conservative is. Oh and his motivation is racism or/and homophobia. He probably likes guns too.

I can see their desire for the various iterations of urban feminist, LGBTQ, handicapped or ‘any color but white’ characters surviving the apocalypse, while the white heterosexual males (all wearing MAGA hats) die in the fire. This would be especially the rural preppers, and hoplophiles… basically everyone on the shit-list of the extreme left. After enjoyably killing these ‘horrible’ people, the survivors would rapidly build a new utopia, with free healthcare, free Birkenstocks, a happy genderfluid society, ruled by benevolent all-providing world government and led by ‘people like themselves’.

And indeed – among the people they are representative of — those sort of Mary Sues will sell well. I do hope Tor throws all its enthusiasm and money into publishing and pushing this.

Maths is hard (well, for some, the kind who think 0.05% of more value than 50%) – but then so is survival. I thought – given this sort of lead in, I’d talk a bit about the entire concept of apocalypse and writing about it.

In an apocalypse I’d give myself about a 1% chance of being able to survive, and survive well into the rebuilding. I know a few people I’d go to 10%. If you think this means I rate my chances and expertise low, realize that I’d guess the survival potential of, for instance, the panelists in this panel at about 0.0001%. This is not with malice, just that given where they live and what skills they have, it is unlikely that their chances are good. I, on the other hand, live on a large, remote island that produces enough food for a couple of hundred thousand people, but has a population of 800. (The island, with third world agriculture, would have the water and land and sea resources to feed about 50 thousand). Gun club and pony club are the two biggest societies on the island – with most farmers of necessity being well above the ‘marksman’ level (you shoot 1000-1500 wallaby a year, just to keep farming). Personally, we’re off-grid and have our own water, and would typically have a year’s essential supplies without having to be too careful. With care, we’d make that 3-5. I have a careful lifetime’s supply of precious metals like lead. I can use most tools, and have a lot. I grew up in a hunting-fishing-foraging family and learned centuries of handed-down skills. There’s pretty little that is edible that I don’t know how to harvest and process, and that includes doing it with nothing more than my hands. I’ve tanned hides, I smoke and preserve food. I can make fishing nets from nothing more than cord, and I can make cord. We haven’t bought protein – or much else food-wise, besides flour (in 220 pound lots), coffee and chocolate for the last 8 years. I’m an ex Army medic and a Volunteer Ambulance officer. I have no medical conditions I couldn’t live with untreated… and I think I have 1% chance.

I think the first thing to grasp: just what is an apocalypse? What are conditions when the world falls apart? This obviously depends on your story. It could be anything from disease to a vast war with weapons that wreak cataclysmic damage. But… an apocalyptic event is NOT a minor civil war. Or even a major civil war. Those continue to retain some semblance of governance, at least in some areas. Basically: the definition of an apocalypse is ‘the end of the world (at least as we know it): It’s not a localized event (remote place might escape –depending on what the type of Apocalyptic event is). There is massive mortality – 80-99%. All semblance of governance, policing, law, chains-of-command are degraded and dispersed, largely ineffectual at local level to the point where they basically don’t exist in most circumstances, if they are not totally destroyed. The world as you knew it is gone.

Manufacturing, high-tech anything… comes to a halt. Infrastructure, supply chains, transport links stop functioning. Medical treatment – and the supplies and staff essential for that are rapidly overwhelmed. An apocalypse doesn’t just take out what is convenient for you to do without, or the people you don’t like. From the New York Hipster to the small tribal group in the Matto Grosso, some effect is felt. It’s just not the same effect or amount of it.

There are no ‘safe spaces’ not in any sense of the word, not over the passage of time. Some are safer than others, all are in some way affected.

Secondly: who survives and how and why? There’s this concept that these panelists may feel is just too avant garde: ‘survival of the fittest’. In an apocalyptic situations being the fittest… ain’t enough. You need to be both fit AND lucky. ‘Luck’ extends to being in the right place at the right time. If it IS apocalypse – and believable in your story – survival to be part of a post-apocalyptic story is dependent on both. BUT the fitter you are, the more chance you have of being ‘lucky’. (for certain values of ‘lucky’. In some scenarios, being dead fast may count as ‘lucky’). That will come down to strength, speed, capacity for violence, mental capacity to cope with disaster, intellect… and how well you can shoot. Oddly, what the panel claims are the typical characters of post-Apocalyptic fiction… tend to reflect that reality, except for skin color. And yes, taking the first few… that’s be five men for every woman not protected by a man. Guess what happens to women not as fit, and not shooting well? You want to be a strong independent woman post-apocalypse? Learn to shoot well now.

Survival of the wokest probably just doesn’t cut it as ‘fit’ in most possible apocalypses…

I take that back. Somehow getting the wokest of the woke made into World President’ to ‘lead’ the world (by force, quite a lot of them – but as various woke authors show genocide is just fine so long as it’s against people who are literally Hitler – AKA people you don’t like.) and give everyone free stuff, would possibly qualify. Post this – surviving post world-scale Venezuela or Zimbabwe, being woke will be just the same death sentence.

The grim fact that we SHOULD all know, is for anyone less that physically and mentally able, those needing medication, those needing help to live now, the probability of survival is considerably lower than for anyone else. It’s bad for everyone. It’s just worse if you need insulin or wheelchair access. It’s not impossible or inconceivable. Done right, it could make a great story.

If you need legal provisions and police protection now to thrive… your chances are possibly bleaker. Unless you have the numbers and force equalizers – AKA Samuel Colt’s legacy, and can use them well, with skill and some discipline, you won’t survive. The Pink Pistols might (for a while anyway, until old age and no kids caught up). The sort of people who got killed in the Pulse Night Club – unarmed and relying on civilization and police, won’t.

As for ‘skin color’ or ethnicity – well, I’ll bet that they don’t mention John Ringo’s BLACK TIDE RISING series. I’ve just written a story in that universe. Let’s say it doesn’t run according to their narrative. I suspect – if you were going to write a realistic story – so much would depend on your cause of your apocalypse. (For the record, I think all the evidence suggests that modern Western Cultures – largely with ‘white’ roots, will be kinder to women, ‘non-cis’ people, and people of other races or ethnicities).

If the cause of your apocalypse was say a massive war between the West and China, with both sides throwing everything but biological warfare into the mix, and weapons of considerably more destructive power than common now… Africa and parts of South America or maybe India would possibly be where most survivors concentrated.

Once you get to disease, or biological weapons + the rest – well, that’s where culture comes into it. Cities, be they Lagos or New York or Moscow, just lose nearly everyone. Hell, no matter what the disaster is, cities will be worst hit (and in the third world, women and children far worst). But remember, I’m from Africa, and oddly something very common to rural Africa is also true of most non-Western cultures. It was described in the Old Testament – it’s been around a long time. You can wander into the most remote bit of Zululand – where there are less than hundred people per square mile… and there will be a village, with everyone in huts less than ten yards apart. On a hill-top (for defense) – with all the people in a couple of square miles. The community itself might be ‘isolated’ (although there is a lot of to-and-fro) but it typically would be as dense as an urban settlement. The isolated homesteads and farmsteads… the guy and his wife and kids on a mountainside… that’s a legacy of long term peace, or Samuel Colt or both. And in the face of a fast-spreading disease, they’ll survive better than ‘bunching’ people. Afterwards, yes, for defense they’ll have to bunch.

Of course the big question becomes: who are you trying to sell your book to? Reality may not be your deciding factor. But it is always good to know what it would probably be. That helps with writing stories that suspend belief.

Thirdly… what do they do then? Let’s assume the main wave of dying is over. The cities, with no real reserves and huge reliance on infrastructure and supply chains… have destructed and emptied out almost all survivors. And, short of finding stashes of food that looters haven’t found, most cities are not much on food resources, assuming you can find water. It doesn’t really matter, because the average city dweller… even if they’re not ‘overwhelmingly white, able-bodied, cis or male’ have next to no skills needed to survive without the support system of civilization.

People WILL be tribal. I’m not being nasty or arguing the rights or wrongs: I’m just basing this on historical facts, outcomes repeated thousands of times in thousands of tribes and groups across the world.

In these circumstances you know, full well, noble concepts and ideals go out the window. So do the stupid ones. Pragmatism is all will see you through. It will require a level of hard, physical, labor-intensive work, needing practical skills… and, beyond the very short term, fertility. Trust me on this, much of living a self-sufficient life is HARD LABOR and heavy lifting and carrying. When you can’t mechanize, that means lots of hands needed. Children will be valued, not only for long term survival and rebuilding– but will also start to work from a very early age (see Tasmania, where School holidays were shaped around fruit picking on family farms). Women who can’t have children, better find something really valuable to do for their group. Look at any primitive society, men fight/defend/raid, do heavy labor… women do the rest.

Joe the gay blacksmith (so a skill that is really valuable) in a small village where he knows and gets on with everyone will be valued and protected. Dyed-hair polysexual genderfluid fashion journalist who flees the city looking for a safe space… not likely. Parasites won’t be tolerated because the host cannot carry many. If they are, that group will die.

Yep. There’ll be ‘marginalized people’. And they’ll be just as, or more marginalized, or dead, because when things are really tough groups become uniform, and turn on those who don’t fit. By the PC definition of ‘marginalized’ they will have a far harder time than in the comfortable shelter of modern civilization. Now, Fred the poor white rural farm boy whose daddy was a farm laborer who did a bit of poaching on the side, and is barely trailer trash in modern America – and is marginalized all right, but not PC – he might flourish. The Tor-dahlings… not.

Still: that doesn’t mean that there is no potential for a great post-apocalyptic story – one which effectively suspends disbelief, which will appeal to a wide swathe of the audience (not a narrow little niche group) with a female character, a handicapped character, or a character with a different sexual orientation to the human norm, or the character of a different skin color or ethnicity. Each of these adds new hills of complexity to climb, and as long as readers like the character and care about them – best achieved via shared humanity they can identify with, you could have a winner. After all – the boring story: why Dave Freer survives (he has the knowledge and skills and resources and geography on his side). The interesting story: Why the character who is unlikely to survive does, and how they have to adapt, learn and change.

But that does mean they have to change, because the believable post-disaster world won’t.


132 thoughts on “Survivors

  1. Very accurate summation of the challenges of Post apocalyptic world settings. Reality is a uncaring cold place to be in the disaster, I would rather be lucky than good. You can always learn and improve skills.

  2. Welp, I now know what a “hoplophile” is. Can’t say I didn’t learn anything today, whatever else might happen over its course.

    Beyond that, seems to me the Bolsheviks have smashed the Whites, tossed out the liberals are presently eating the Social Democrats and before too much longer are going to start sharpening their knives to purge the Mensheviks. Or possibly I’m confusing the chronology on who went first in Menshevik/SD terms? Doesn’t really matter long-term since both did get tossed, of course.

    If you think this means I rate my chances and expertise low, realize that I’d guess the survival potential of, for instance, the panelists in this panel at about 0.0001%.

    Given the way things like Occupy Wall Street were run, I think even that might be optimistic. They couldn’t hold it together in the face of literally no external pressure of any kind. All the cops did was stand back and watch their “communities” implode as the progressive stack first tilted and then toppled over. I suppose an “Iron” Felix Dzerzhinsky might arise in their midst and lead them all to their promised land, but I’m skeptical. I do doubt such an individual would utilize a voting system so obscure not one in one hundred truly understand it.

    The interesting story: Why the character who is unlikely to survive does, and how they have to adapt, learn and change.

    Don’t be ridiculous. Who needs to do any of that silly-billy stuff? In fact it sounds kind of icky. Possibly even triggering. Rey on Jakku had perfect skin, perfect hair and perfect teeth even after living in what amounted to a giant dumpster by herself for twenty years, starting as a child. So there. Sheesh. Next you’ll tell me to read something besides Harry Potter.

      1. Dumpsters actually make decent shelters. Not insulated though. So bring lots of newspapers and rags.

        Oooo. Now that’s a consideration for down-and-out stories starting at the present and into the future. Lack of newspaper as a resource due to everything going digital.

        1. Actually have something like that coming up in a post apocalyptic story. No textbooks, since all the schools went to now-inoperable iPads.

  3. I recall one of the most interesting characters in Lucifer’s Hammer being a type one diabetic.

    Of course, it wasn’t the doom hanging over his head that made him interesting. (Pathos wouldn’t have kicked in if he had been just another passive victim.)

    As to the irrelevant gathering of irrelevant people, I find I don’t even care enough to enjoy the schadenfreude.

    1. Although I guess they’re living some sort of professional apocalypse.
      But since they’re the authors of their own demise, it evokes catharsis instead of pathos.

    2. Yep, the diabetic had planned ahead, and packed along the right survival gear, and carried, wrapped in plastic, Volume 1 of ‘How Things Work’ as his ticket to see the bosses, and kept the location of the other volumes back as trading goods to exchange for a place to live as an invalid. He then proceeded to save their butts through SCIENCE, BABY!

      1. Dr. Dan Forrester, the sane genius. 😀

        While he later died, IMO he’ll be likely remember at the Stronghold as “The Magician”.

  4. Followed some of the links. A lot of the discourse read like science fiction. As for survival, literature probably aping life, people willing to downplay their differences and pitch in will do better than those flaunting any kind of activism in the immediate aftermath of a disaster.

    From the links and your writing I take it that a viable Hugo-book 2019 is one where diabetic wheelchair bound blind professional lesbian trans-activists have the best survival ratio.

    A book for me would have the handicap shown early together with an important skill, and the hypothetical sexual difference downplayed or hidden until the middle of the book, after the skills and willingness to pitch in are well established. When protag comes out the other protags go;
    “Sue is gay? Not my problem, she’s a great doctor. More soup please.”

    I work a lot with psychiatric and other out-patients, generally paired with one of around 300 more or less terrfic colleagues, most of them women, some of them gay. Some of these colleagues have handicaps that mandates medical intervention, sometimes for the soul, and some have old dings that means taking the elevator, or not lifting in a particular way. They are still people. None I met has been very reticent about their lives, but none has started the conversation with “I’m different, deal with it.” Some of the patients do though.

    1. The survivors are the ones who know they’re not fully-abled, and have viable work-arounds to achieve parity, or in some cases, situational superiority.

    2. “Sue is gay? Not my problem, she’s a great doctor. More soup please.”

      Perhaps, but there is the fertility issue to deal with. As Dave says, children would be needed. I don’t think people would care that Sue was attracted to other women or that she liked to go bump uglies with them in her free time, but I think she WOULD be expected to “lie back and think of the Southern Ohio Tribe” and have some babies to be the next generation of great doctors. If she refused on the grounds that she couldn’t possibly have sex with a man no matter what…well, she’d have to be pretty much the only doctor available in order to get away with that, and even so, there would be resentment.

      1. Certainly many women couldn’t conceive for a variety of reasons. But if the world was that close to on the edge a woman who wasn’t willing to *try* would be a bit like a man who was unwilling to defend the group with violence. I think that the willfulness of it would be a huge matter and the person, whoever they were, would have to prove they were worthwhile.

        I will say, though that perhaps the “one and only doctor” might not be *allowed* to conceive, and certainly not allowed “on the wall” to defend the group with violence.

      2. I would guess though that if your population is so depleted that survival depends on every single woman having children, then you are in quite a desperate situation and likely to end up being wiped out no matter what. There must have always been a minority of women who couldn’t or wouldn’t have babies, and we’ve survived all the same. And if Sue is a skilled and useful doctor, it might be better not to risk her dying in childbirth.

        On the other hand, if Sue was willing to have babies, the matter could probably be accomplished without unwanted intimacy, assuming a turkey baster or similar could be found among the wreckage of the apocalypse…

      3. Zsuzsa

        Agreed in some scenarios. Atwoods is awfully popular despite itself. The Escape from the reproduction fundamentialists of Southern Ohio could be a fun book. Maybe something like the latest Mad Max remake.

        To clarify, I was just trying to describe how I as a reader would be able to accept the diverse bit-player in a story, or trick the conservative writer to like him/her if I wrote the book. It was not a comment on optimal group survival. Neither did Sue need to be a doctor in order to escape sex. I used doctor in order to give the speaker personal knowledge of Sue as skillful and personable which is likely with a good doc after a disaster.

        But since we play with SF, and just for fun and contrariness, both items being prized by elder SF statesmen, I’ll try to come up with a few scenarios where Sue does not necessarily need to breed.

        First; Sue might be perfectly willing to have a child the natural way, or with some kind of assistance. Lots of gay people both want and have kids.

        Let’s instead look at something other than the mountain-man small group survivior story. That one is cool for post disaster but too small for long term world-building unless they hook up with others or we make the story multigenerational, or add an incubator as in Weber’s Excalibur Alternative.

        1. Sue might be to old to have kids, but be a very healthy and succesful at what she does as well as genuinely good with kids and a good teacher.

        2. Take Dave’s island. Possibly 50000 survivors surrounded by an empty world. Reproduction would not be 100% enforced or even encouraged unless there is a problem with female fertility, or a fatalistic mind-set with declining birth-rates. (Not worth it. People hating each other or their children are not very productive.) Population will grow anyway. If there is an antagonistic tribe on the next island the story will resolve itself before the next generation. Having women as combatants might be the key to eradicating all the enemy men and steal all their women.

        3. If nuclear catastrophe or bioweapon attack (Stirling’s Drakon) has hit and total infertility has ensued, propagation is a non-issue and we can have fun finding cures or contemplate the slow and melancholy demise of humanity. Lots of desperate sex, and sex as desperate means of staying sane are likely. This is non-fertile people as opposed to low-fertile. Sue or Sam will probably have lots of fun and angst as humanity slowly slips into oblivion.

        4. The disaster might keep the male population perpetually low , (Weber’s Graysons) but with the remaing men having several mates, the occasional non-copulative female will not be perceived as a problem. Competition for mates will be high enough as it is. Sweden and China are heading the other way due to very high male to female ratios. Like 120 boys to 100 girls ratios in some Swedish age groups.

        What if we use a gay male in the story? Would the community demand that he participate in propagation in order to widen the genetic variation, or would some heterosexual take one for the team? Depends on group size I suppose.

        5. Religion; if most of the survivors are part of a traditionalist Christian church with very high premium on monogamy and fidelity, Sue would probably be a tad out of place. Sam less so. Intresting dynamic though.

        6. As noted above, Sue or Sam might have several kids already. Would the selfish gene want him/ her to have more if there are several childless individuals. If so we are probably back in Ohio.

        Also, if we want to be totally nasty do we want everyone’s genetic material, and do we want some people as parents? In a low resource society some people might not be allowed to breed at all.

        What about the the totally obnoxious layabout who use the kids as an excuse not to work?(Plenty of those where I live) If we want the kids but the parents suck both resources and in general, should we let them breed, then kill them off (either intentionally as a matter of policy or by an author-induced accident,) and hand the kids to Sue or Sam?

        Again this is SF, so it is up to the author. If said author wants to explore nasty themes having two parallell islands will work fine.

    3. Kord, if the reader cares about the individual as a person (focusing traits of shared humanity) you can write literally anyone from any ‘marginilzed’ group into a very entertaining novel. (hell, I have to laugh when I read of myself accused of being any number of …isms. All I can say is they plainly never read my books. But it’s always about getting readers to like and sympathize with a character who is often very different from them in other respects.

      1. Dave.

        Yes. My original point. Likeability. How to build it without being obvious about it.

        Funny thing, I read your early books when they came out and you were a tad left of center in European terms. Way left compared to the USA of that date. Certainly way left of me.

        I doubt those readers you mention could handle the exuberant transgressivism of Ariel and Fat Fal. Or the the cheerful irrverence of Marie Jacksson, or the rock-bottom perspective maintained by Benito and Maria Valdosta, or the ribbing of blinkered religion and in Slowtrain to Arcturus. That Dragon was hardly a friend of the entrenched power-structure either. In fact, everything from you was fairly subversive, generally striking upwards, and with most of the authorities either evil or bumbling.

        Haven’t been seriously online for years it is clear that some weird rot has spread. I’s spread everywhere it seems, but to paint you or Paulk as oppressors of the downtrodden is a fairly good indication of the willfull stupidity inherent in the overly resentful part of humanity.

  5. Someone should tell Scalzi that gloating is reserved for after an event has gone well.

    1. Give the guy a break. He needs some opportunity to gloat, and the chances of him being able to do so after the event has gone well are … well, lets say they don’t suffer from obesity.

      1. Or until next year goes well.

        On the theory that one should give an editor something they can change, next year should maybe do something “wrong” on purpose, so they can be “corrected” and get it out of the way.

      2. Oh I am absolutely certain they’ll TELL us they went well. In fact brilliantly. These, after all are the same people who look at the Hugo/political demographics stats and say ‘nothing wrong with that’. ;-/

        The proof will be in the stats for this, previous and future years.

  6. > just what is an apocalypse?

    From auditing various SHTF forums, the general concept seems to be occasional brown-outs and having to go back to dial-up internet.

    The usual plan is to go to the mountains, where they will live off the bounty of nature while engaging in battle against everyone else who flees to the mountains.

    And then They (unspecified, but in context, the government) will fix everything and they’ll strut back home, bragging about how well they made out during the dark days.

    It’s a very common and weirdly specific scenario.

    1. I had some friends who took a look at survivalist groups in the pre-prepper days. They seemed to have much the same attitude without the rescuing government. A whole country full of half-baked Farnham’s Freeholds.

      My friends quickly stopped attending and went back to making sure there was food in the house, etc.

      1. Huh.
        The survivalists I knew were all about heading for the wilderness, but there wasn’t any expectation or desire of rescue. (shrug) It was more of wish to live on the edge, without civilization’s support or strictures. The ones I knew would have made a good go of it. They were effectively their own tribe, self-selected for the relevant knowledge and aptitude. (Good people, but don’t drink the tea.)

    2. Out here, you’d do better heading for the edges of the low ground, and securing access to the low ground from the high ground. Because that’s where the water is. No water, no life.

    3. Even a Carrington Event isn’t going to be apocalyptic. Scheiss will hit the fan in a lot of places (mostly urban areas), and most of the electrically medically dependent will die. I give the U.S. six months to restore the electrical grid to near previous normal. There’s going to be a boom market for auto repair technicians to manually modify engines to run without all the electronic gizmos (while belching all kinds of pollutants), as well as skyrocketing prices for vintage and antique cars and trucks.

      A disease as lethal as Ebola and as contagious as Influenza might be enough to cause an apocalypse; but I suspect that it would really need to be twice as contagious as influenza, or have a longer incubation to symptom time during contagiousness.

      Dinosaur killer would be apocalyptic.

      Catching a nearby focused gamma ray burst might be apocalyptic.

      Any Deus ex Machina event could be apocalyptic.

      1. In Alaska, a lot of people could be mistaken by folks from the Lower 48 (or Europe) as preppers. But we weren’t “prepping” for “The End Of The World As We Know It.” We were making sure we were prepared for regular life.

        Because when you live in a land with irregular earthquakes, occasional volcanoes, 100+mph windstorms on clear blue-sky winter days (that are -35 F), and at the end of the logistics supply chain, you just want to make sure that life is comfortable as can be, and as normal as possible, until things get fixed.

        What other people call “preps”, I call “A well-stocked pantry.” Even now, having moved to Texas (I swapped volcanoes for tornadoes, forest fires for grass fires, wind storms for dust storms, and blizzards for 30 days over 100 degrees, some years…), I find that many people out where it’s an hour drive to “the store” perfectly agree with me.

        Nature is still trying to kill me. Thank God and all our ancestors who toiled, fought, and built so I could live in civilization!

        1. “Nature is still trying to kill me. Thank God and all our ancestors who toiled, fought, and built so I could live in civilization!” Bravo, Dorothy. And yes, you describe our ‘prepping’ precisely.

          1. Very much this. I had a social worker come see me lately, and ask why I had a shelf of canned goods. Was I selling them? No, I said, that’s for when the flu strikes down the adults and the children can reheat food in the microwave. The very question boggled me. I live within walking distance of a Woolies. Why would I ‘sell’ canned goods? (And, a majority of the canned goods were canned vegetables and cream of- soups – things I use to make quick, delicious dinners.)

            1. …and why would it be any business of the social worker’s what is in your pantry anyway…? o.O

              Of course, not so long ago (yikes, actually it was close to 20 years ago, eep) I lived in a state (Colorado) whose response to the Y2K worries was…to make it illegal to have ‘too much’ food storage/water storage…

              I never looked into it too closely, but I strongly suspect that it’s possible that most good Mormons (we are strongly encouraged by the church to shoot for at least a years’ supply of food, preferably two) are technically breaking the law even now, because I don’t think that law was ever changed. (I could be wrong. I hope I’m wrong and they struck that idiocy off the books, but I’m probably not. Sigh.)

            2. A shelf of canned goods? Dang, that’s the amount I have when the pantry is low. And it’s going up, since we’re taking advantage of a local farm U-Pick to do our own food preservation techniques. (So far we’ve done pickles and hot sauce. Yes, hot sauce. I picked all those hot peppers expecting him to make candied jalapeños.)

        2. It’s not dissimilar here in Wyoming, though we are definitely less isolated, and so still have our share of folks who move here and see nothing wrong with shopping daily…and then run into problems when I-80 shuts down (again) in the winter (it spends large chunks of the winter closed/impassible/dangerous), and the grocery store shelves swiftly become quite bare, because the food supply chain is that fragile.

          Smart folks very quickly learn to keep the pantry stocked, and make the Big Trips a few times a year (in decent weather) to places that have Sam’s Clubs or Costcos or similar…

          1. I live in a place with a great supply chain, surrounded by ag land, and with a couple of groceries within easy walking distance, and I don’t like to go shopping every day. Doing that in Wyoming is just weird.

  7. It’s area-specific too. Presupposes mountains.

    Highest mountain in Denmark is around 180 metres. A gentle wooded hill.
    If there is a flood, tough nuts. As for food, the problem will be not being eaten by the 15 million pigs roaming a countryside that is about 1/16 the size of Texas.

    Survival in the Vatican will not include many non-cis people.

    Survival in the Eritrean highlands will not include many white people.

    1. Aye, Screwtape’s Whacker, which is only 1/4 the size of Lucifer’s Hammer and hits around about where the North Atlantic becomes the North Sea, that’s gonna do an epic number on Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, much of the UK. But especially Denmark. The pigs won’t be a problem…

  8. Yeah, pick your apocalypse. If it’s slow enough, survival of the fittest kicks in immediately. The fast ones? Pure Luck and being in the right place at the right time.

    Then the survivors get to play “how do I survive this mess” and what we find at the other end will depend a bit on, not a founder effect, but a lucky survivors effect. If you don’t survive the disaster, you don’t contribute to the future gene pool, no matter how fit you might have been.

  9. How much do you want to bet that Heinlein isn’t mentioned in the non-Nuclear Family panel despite how prevalent they were in his writing?

    1. “How much do you want to bet that Heinlein isn’t mentioned in the non-Nuclear Family panel despite how prevalent they were in his writing?”

      I read my first Heinlein only a couple weeks ago (I know, but I’d genuinely been put off by being repeatedly told that Golden Age SF was all straight white men having manly adventures while demeaning women…)

      Instead… in just the first few pages we meet a mixed-race disabled man in a polyamorous marriage who took the surname of his senior husband; a genderfluid AI who switches pronouns at will and expects everyone else to keep up; a black man; a female revolutionary leader, a young girl with remarkable fighting skills… in a society where almost everyone is non-white and open to non-traditional relationships, where a woman’s consent is such an inviolable principle that sexual harassment may be punishable by death.

      It’s EXACTLY what all the snowflakes are whining that we need to start doing in SFF (disabled, “of color”, “queer” etc. representation)… only RAH was already doing it back in 1966. But somehow it doesn’t count in their eyes… maybe because his characters also go to church, own weapons, have babies, and want the government to stay out of their lives…

      I know this won’t be news to anyone here, but it was a revelation to me…

      1. Congrats on getting to read them for the first time! That’s an awesome fun one.

        It’s along the same lines as the Heinlein book they hate the most: Starship Troopers. Johnny Rico turns out, halfway through the book, to be Filipino. And it has nothing to do with the plot, it just is, completely matter of fact and invisible to the modern reader. But oh, at the time, given the prejudices of the 1950’s… the overdone “the boy’s best friend in virtual online fantasy turns out to be a girl playing a guy” has nothing on that twist!

        If you want to find some awesome golden and silver age tales and authors, consider picking up Kris Rusch’s Women of Futures Past. It’s an anthology of classic stories, with a great summary of the real history of women in SF (Yes, they’ve always been there, from the beginning), from one of the women that modern feminists pretend doesn’t exist so they can be “conquering the patriarchy.”

        1. uhm, wasn’t he revealed as Filipino at the end when they talk about the music for one ship being in Tagalog?

          1. About halfway through it’s mentioned in a one-line, offhand inference that’s blink and you miss it. I’m going to have to go back through the book again and re-read to find it, but I remember I still had about half the pages to read when I went “Oh, cool, he’s Filipino? That wasn’t what I was picturing.” and went back to reading.

            And after I finished, Daddy had to explain to me why that was a big deal back when it was published, because I grew up with it being a fundamental truth of the universe that it doesn’t matter what your skin is, “we’re all the same shade of green. Marines are the wrong shade of green, and Air Force isn’t even a proper green at all; they went blue when they decided to become the renegade Army Air Corps.”

            (Why yes, Dad did start me on Heinlein early.)

      2. I’m one of the folk that thinks that book is the best he ever wrote. (Though there are several cited as other contenders, YMMV.)

  10. A few years back I read this blurb of an after the apocalypse novel. I never purchased it (even if I could read it for free, I won’t). The main theme was “civilization has ended so people will have to live closer to nature and THAT’S GREAT”. Idiots.

    Then there was the ending of the reboot of Battlestar Galactia where everybody left their ships to live in the Wilderness of Earth. And the idiots saw that as a Happy Ending. 😦

    1. I saw about half of the BATTLESTAR 2 pilot. About the fifth or sixth sermon I wandered off. The only thing that surprised me when I heard about the ending was that they hadn’t let the Cylons kill them all because That Was What They Deserved.

      Come to think of it, that *is* pretty much what happened, wasn’t it? Only the writers were too stupid to know it.

    2. Obviously these people have never met Nature full on. Heck, I’ve only barely brushed Nature’s very edges, really, and that was quite enough of that, thank you very much.

      1. Having gotten to “enjoy” two reminders that humans are not always the only apex predator in the room, Nature is best dealt with using stand-away weapons, thank you very much.

        (First time might have been a bobcat in high brush. Or a not-hungry-at-the-moment mountain lion. I never found saw the beast, and did NOT go into the brush to look for tracks later. Second time was a pack of feral dogs. I discovered that I could climb a cliff a lot faster than I imagined possible.)

  11. OOH-OOH! I have TWO comments! One about apocalypse, one about WorldCon (sort of).
    Here’s the apocalypse comment:
    This just happens to be ANOTHER one of those areas where I have to suspend belief in order to be entertained by the genre, just as I have to do when talking about most items relating to space travel, and 1 cm power guns, firing cyan bolts from a plastic matrix. In the case of apocalyptic literature, however, it’s not SCIENCE that causes the disconnect, it’s faith.
    I adhere, intentionally, to a historic statement of Christian faith, the Nicene Creed. Part of that creed states “He (meaning Jesus) will come again with glory to judge the living and the dead. His Kingdom shall have no end.” I first comprehended this Future-ending Shock around 1970, about the time that a Christian writer came out with a best-seller concerning the end of the world. That book kicked up a LOT of fuss at the time; most of it has died out (I think), but it still crops up when some person persuades followers that no kidding, this time it’s for real, it’s gonna happen on Wednesday just before noon.
    It’s a dual track for me. Track 1: I DO enjoy a well-written EOTWAWKI book/story, preferring those like ‘Black Tide Rising’ where there is a science background, and hope is preserved.
    Track 2: I no longer contemplate hoarding green beans and gold coins, and making sure I have effective clearance of fire lanes on the approaches to my house.

    My firearm accumulation has nothing to do with an EOTWAWKI scenario. I just like firearms.
    And my second comment comes in a minute.

    1. “I no longer contemplate hoarding green beans and gold coins, and making sure I have effective clearance of fire lanes on the approaches to my house.”

      I don’t see the logical relationship. Nobody knows when it will happen, or what will happen prior. It could be tomorrow. It could be in a thousand years. Civilization may thrive until the very end. Or it may collapse and our descendants live five hundred years of a new dark age before the day.

      1. Prepping should be a social activity or a hobby. if you’re not having fun with it, then it’s a lot of work and money invested in a low ROI (due to the rarity of EOTWAWKI events.) ROI is still better for PREPPERS than winning the lottery though.

      2. Also, it’s a judgment. Preparing for reasonably foreseeable duties is something that will be judged. Just as a sentinel needs to keep watch not only because the enemy might attack but because a superior might check that he’s keeping watch.

    2. I don’t understand the connection with the Nicene Creed either. Surely it refers to the Kingdom of Heaven, and doesn’t tell us anything about how/when life on earth will come to an end?

      Personally, at any sign of an impending apocalypse I think I would be running straight to the nearest priest to make my (long overdue) confession. Though I suspect there’ll be a long queue at the confessional as Pascal’s wager comes into play… they say there are no atheists in a foxhole, and I bet there aren’t many (permanently) lapsed Catholics either…

      1. From a Protestant perspective, there’s fairly common problem of navigating congregations. How do you sort the cranks from the sound? I understand that from a Catholic perspective, all Protestantism is crankery.

        1. Individuals teaching that the end times are for sure happening on a schedule now known to man are a fairly common case.
        2. I have met older Christians who consider themselves ready for the end times to happen now. I’m not sure if this is age and depression or something else.
        3. Using the term Apocalypse, literally Revelation, naturally evokes Christian and Protestant ideas on the end times. Are we talking a serious but purely human disaster or are we talking the end times? A Christian can legitimately assume the latter, and follow what they think the correct teaching is. As a writer, I’m personally very interested in serious catastrophes or wars that kill many people without being some version of John’s Revelation. Like the hundred years war on top of the Black Death on top of a very severe famine. I’m also interested in John’s Revelation, but I think writing about it has the risk of convincing myself I know things that I do not. So I’m a bit more careful where that is concerned.

        1. Yet according to scripture no one knows the Time. So anyone claiming to know the time is a Crank. :/

        2. Re. #2. A good friend in college really, really hoped a certain group was right and that Jesus was returning in the summer of 1993 so she wouldn’t have to make a major life decision. Oops.

          1. I recall Feynman’s Method of Wagering, which he practiced with a group during his time with the Manhattan Project. They had a weekly wager on the outcome of this or that during the war. His method was to always bet on stasis. He lost only once, when Tobruk fell (I forget which way).

            Yeah, End of Times you only get to be wrong once that way… but as said, if it’s Unknowable, then betting “World Survives” pays off over and over and over. And when it doesn’t, who’s gonna be left to collect?

        3. “1. Individuals teaching that the end times are for sure happening on a schedule now known to man are a fairly common case.”

          When I run into that variety, my usual response is that they haven’t read what Christ Himself said: NO ONE except God knows.

          There’s a particularly pernicious subvariant I ran into from a supporter of a losing candidate in the AL governors office back in the 90s: “Oh well, maybe it’s best he didn’t win. Now things will get bad enough for Jesus to come back.”

          You twit, are you actually saying you can extort God to do what you want? Bah.

          1. Well, there are also the Idiots who think everybody who believes in the End Times wants to “do something terrible” so Christ returns.

            The earliest example that I remember was the idea that Reagan would start a Nuclear War so Christ would return. Note, to the best of my knowledge Reagan didn’t believed in the End Times but the idiots believed Reagan was an evil Fundamentalist so thus believed in the End Times. 😦

        4. “I understand that from a Catholic perspective, all Protestantism is crankery.”

          Sort of. I think a lot of Catholics kind of look at the various Protestant denominations with a sense of, “well… okay…” Generally the thought that Protestantism is crankery only comes about when the Protestant tries explaining to the Catholic why they’re going to Hell, especially when the “Catholic” theology is very much a straw man. (IOW, I’m not going to think the Protestant is a crank unless and until they start trying to convert me because “you’re going to Hell.”)

          1. Elsewhere, there was this person in Religious Discussions would bring up his Catholicism as a “trump card” because the Roman Catholic Church was the “First Christian Church”.

            However, once he got talking on Religious Issues, you had to wonder if the only reason he was Catholic was because the Church hadn’t Kicked Him Out. 😆

      2. I selected the Nicene Creed because it is the oldest and most accepted statement by accepted church authorities on the end of Time. However, it’s a minimalist, consensus doctrinal statement, summarizing theology derived from several passages in the New Testament that speak definitively of the end.
        I ain’t trying to sell it; I was attempting to be descriptive, not persuasive, I was just using that as an example of how I can ENJOY books on a subject without believing those events can come to pass. MOST of the time that happens, it’s a function of science. For example, radiation from atomic bomb tests aren’t gonna give us ants 20 feet tall. In THIS case, though, it’s a function of faith, not science, that keeps me from believing the world will end because of zombies, Martians, or global warming.

        1. “What happened? They’re all deformed.”

          “The Neutron War.. left more than the obvious scars. Mutations *do* happen.”

          “No ants twenty feet tall…”

          “No, but you can get feet only twenty ants tall. And don’t you say a word about Smurfs!”

  12. Egads! If that’s the program Puppettnette and her marionettes have put together, then there’s no way in Gehenna I would attend that convention, even if you paid me obscenely large amounts of money.

    1. It’s a big convention. I’m assuming that there’s a whole bunch of the sort of thing that everyone is accustomed to.

      1. I suspect that’s true, at least to a point. But that’s not what’s being shouted from the rooftops. Which would provide an environment I would find hostile.

      2. First time I went – too many panels at the same times I wanted attend. Second time enough, a few clashes. This? About 5 I really would like to attend. Half a dozen more I would go to because they might be good. Few names I like and a lot either don’t or don’t know at all.

  13. “People WILL be tribal. I’m not being nasty or arguing the rights or wrongs: I’m just basing this on historical facts, outcomes repeated thousands of times in thousands of tribes and groups across the world.”

    Stirling included this in his books where the groups that did well tended to assume some sort of unifying identity. It didn’t seem to matter a great deal what it was, just that it was as distinct as possible. So a whole bunch of Scandinavian farm boys from North Dakota became Sioux warriors with feathers and war paint and everything. Etc.

    1. Speaking of Stirling, in the Nantucket books he made a case for different people who are more than just their difference. Both joke, message and a bit of wishful thinking IIRC.

      Bad-ass, indispensable to the story, and charismatic as hell, Captain Alston was woman, black, and gay. She commanded a gorgeous windjammer and a devoted army, used swords and guns, got the prettiest girl. As a bonus she re-invented whaling in Nantucket.

      I’m not certain I remember all of it but I think the peace-loving tree-hugger activists stole a boat and ended up as food for their fellow men.

      And skinny balding Ian Arnstein (Harry Turteldove) got the other girl. (Those who might object can’t even call it patriarchy since they all hold that both gender and and other bodily fluids are are exchangable at will.)

  14. I think that I’d give you a greater chance of survival then you give yourself, Dave. Maybe you won’t live as long as you might have done but the island and isolation and “luck” so long as whatever it is doesn’t land directly on you the young people with the strong bodies but without the skills would be incredibly stupid not to maintain those who have skills… though that’s “luck” as well, I suppose.

    Even if I were strong and young I’d die here, because it’s desert and everyone here is 100% dependent on civilization. Back home in Minnesota with strength and skills chances would be better for rural people who survive initial and secondary die offs, because it’s not that hard to grow food if you’ve a way to keep what you grow. Still, die of a broken leg or in childbirth will be a thing.

    What has struck me in the past was stories written where (generally women) are portrayed as refusing to do what is necessary to rescue humanity because no one should just assume they’d be willing to bear children. If it was a colony out there somewhere or on earth that always seemed entirely bizarre to me. But perhaps everyone dying forever and the end of humanity was seen as a good thing?

    1. “But perhaps everyone dying forever and the end of humanity was seen as a good thing?”

      Nah. Those types aren’t that subtle. What you’re describing is plain old solipsism. The default mindset of the modern age. I’ve seen elsewhere an observation about how much “SF” involves an apocalypse of some sort twenty-thirty years in the future, and seems quite happy with the idea. “The world ends when I die. What comes after me is not important.” And given their premises, I can’t argue.

    2. The flip side that also has me rolling my eyes are the survival groups that think women should start breeding immediately. Hello? If you’re in regular fights, or running from stronger groups, pregnant women waddling along are not an asset, and if you’re hiding, crying babies are a problem.

      Not to mention finding food and clean water.

      This is how you lose women and get high infant mortality rates. _First_ a secure place and reliable food supply, then babies.

      1. Ayup. I remember reading an account of settlers heading through the Cumberland Gap, trying to stay quiet and hidden enough to avoid drawing the attention of very unfriendly indians about. Several women smothered their babies, because when the choice was holding your hand over your baby’s mouth to stop it from making any noise, or the entire party dying from indian attack…

        I love living in a quiet, well-defended civilization, I really, really do.

        1. I think babies being accidently asphyxiated was a thing during WWII when Jews were hiding and also more recently in Rwanda during the 90’s slaughter. And I just remembered the book Krakatoa describes a woman in labor trying to outrun the wave. Spoiler — she doesn’t make it. Hard to think about.

          1. Yep. If it is so important for civilization to survive, then acting like rapists or crazy people who shouldn’t have children is not the way to go.

            Also, the Bible advocates a wait and see attitude. If you recall, Lot’s daughters were mistaken about being the last women on Earth. Points for idealism, but all lost by making their dad drunk and then taking turns raping him.

            1. An interesting point about that story: the Bible text implies that both of them slept with their dad only once each, and both got pregnant (deliberately). Which in turn implies that they knew enough about their fertility cycles to be able to track when to have sex in order to get pregnant.

              Those who suffer from historical snobbery and think “We know so much more than the ancients did” would be wise to consider the implications. These teenage girls didn’t figure that out on their own; they were taught that knowledge of their fertility cycles. Which means that the society they lived in knew what part of a woman’s cycle gives her the best chance of getting pregnant if she has sex on those days. (Sure, individuals differ and counting days as a method of avoiding pregnancy isn’t foolproof because you might have a shorter-than-usual cycle — but for a woman who’s trying to get pregnant, counting days is a pretty good method.)

              Historical snobbery usually says more about the snob than about the ancients.

      2. the survival groups that think women should start breeding immediately.

        “Should”, or “will”? Because TEOTWAWKI also means the end of Planned Parenthood (huzzzaahhhhhhh), Trojan’s factories, and The Pill. It does not, in the short term, mean the end of the modern sexual ethic. The only thing that’s going to stop people, especially young ones, from banging like there’s no tomorrow is exhaustion. ‘Cause they’ll be living in a world were it looks like there may be no tomorrow.

        And we won’t even get into the reality of low skill but attractive young women doing what they can to survive…. Or the very obvious fate of the woman, who after being saved for the FOURTH TIME from the 20’ tall ants by a virile, albeit homely young man , tears into her saviour for his overbearing patriarchy. (note: the ants enjoyed their Meal #5.)

        I don’t recall the exact line from Lucifer’s Hammer, but it’s along these lines: “one good thing about the catastrophe is that feminism was dead milliseconds after the disaster hit.”

  15. When I was younger I enjoyed reading some Post-Apocalyptic fiction. At the time, one of the rarer scenarios was complete economic collapse as shown in Wolf & Iron by Gordon R. Dickson. Zombies seem to be the big thing the last couple of decades, and those don’t really grab me, though Ringo’s Black Tide Rising sounds interesting. And honestly, that man could make his shopping list entertaining.

    1. Black Tide is full on apocalypse with the scariest bit being a scientific rationale for zombie like infection.
      But for a semi apocalypse scenario I highly recommend his “The Last Centurion.” Lots of entertainment and a good bit of hard survival knowledge embedded in that one.

  16. I give myself very low odds of surviving any kind of apocalypse, mostly because I live in a large city which is difficult enough to get out of on a normal day, never mind when the roads are jammed up with people fleeing disaster. It would be a bug-in scenario, though with limited storage space and no gun to repel looters, that’s not a great option either.

    I do “prep” a little, but mostly for more mundane problems than full-scale civilisation collapse. It’s easy for city inhabitants to lose all self-reliance. It amazes me how many people don’t have candles or even a flashlight in case of a power cut, or any bottled drinking water in case they lose the mains water supply for a few days, or have more than one means of staying warm in the winter in case the gas has to be switched off, or let themselves run right out of food or essential medication or baby formula or something before resupplying.

  17. That list of panels reminds me: Last night I read the latest update of a favorite Valdemar fanfic.

    There was a discussion in the comments about the some of the subtle horrors of in the earliest Valdemar books. Stuff these fans hadn’t noticed reading them as kids.

    I wrote, and am fairly sure I deleted, a comment about the possibility this was caused by Bradley’s literary influence on Lackey.

    We can be fairly sure that Bradley and Breen covered up their activities with an onion layer disinformation strategy. People closer were picked for their willingness to believe increasingly insane justifications.

    I think Bradley may have perceived vulnerability in Lackey, fed her some flawed ideas, and then those manifested in the first Valdemar books. (Why those elements are not so present in later Valdemar can be charitably or uncharitably explained.)

      1. Note that I link to the tenth story in the series.
        Chapter 13. AO3 has an issue with their comments, at least on my browser. There’s a period after a chapter goes live where the comments will not display correctly. I’ve just checked again, and it works now. The comment chain starting from LectorEl is the one I refer to.

        1. The P&P RPG setting “Blue Rose” was heavily & explicitly influenced by Lackey’s Valdemar works as they stood when it was first written, particularly the earlier ones.
          Which meant that when it was released there were a large number of people who noticed that “good guy” factions were heavily into mind-control & other ethically “questionable” practices.
          There were other things people had problems with too, but I don’t remember what they were ‘cos I wasn’t a fan of the setting or the system it was for (True20).

    1. I did not know there was any Valdemar FF in the wild. Last I had heard (15 or so years ago) Lackey was vehemently opposed to FF that wasn’t part of the sanctioned group.

      Wanders off to skim and maybe book mark.

      1. My understanding is that the ban has been relaxed, maybe inside the past fifteen years or so.

        The opposition is apparently also something we have Bradley to thank for.

  18. What? Spider Robinson is still amongst the living?
    Thought he’d passed on years ago shortly after writing that pile of dingo scat he made of an old Heinlein outline.
    I should probably read again his Callahan’s saloon stories for some perspective. Might even find it in me to forgive him that last bit.

    1. Yup, he’s still processing air, at least, although I’m guessing at times that’s been all he has been capable of. First, his wife Jean died (I THINK of breast cancer) and then his adult daughter died, also of breast cancer.
      From what I can tell from the outside, I think he sort of crawled into a hole, and then pulled the opening of the hole in after him.
      I don’t stalk the man, or anything, but this is the first public appearance I know of in a long, lonf time.

      1. I am terribly sorry to hear that.
        Does not change my opinion of Variable Star, but that is just my opinion and not worthy of wishing ill to anyone, let alone the creator of Callahan’s Bar.

    1. They sound more like an ALA annual meeting or the North American Gender Studies Association meeting than a Con.

      Hey, I can throw stones. I’ve sat through “gender and the environment: updated theoretical approaches” panels.

      1. But have you read “Glaciers, gender, and science: A feminist glaciology”?
        The fact that it exists, and was published in a peer-reviewed journal, is enough to make me cry.

        1. Yes, yes I have. It made even my former advisor consider giving up the profession and becoming a roofer, or ditch-digger, or something equally academic.

          1. Carefully did NOT have the Sand Creek Hard Lime Lemonade in hoof (or mouth) whilst attempting to read that… scat. Dare someone tells the ‘author’ of that… stuff… about plastics – cross-linked long-chain polymers? Or are the chains triggering?

          2. Oh gees, I read that when either SmallDeadAnimals or BlazingCat Fur first linked to it (or Campus Watch? Anyway…) Dang it, I might need the brain cells that piece of [censored] killed. I bow to her mastery of academese, but I truly feel sorry for the tax-payers whose money went to support her.

          3. All those polysyllables hurt my poor brain.

            What I gathered from the start (didn’t read the entire thing) is that the poor woman has a rather unhealthy fascination with sheep and bodily fluid exchanges.

            (Not going to say anything about her probable ancestry here. Depends on which clan you’re talking to, anyway.)

  19. I read at Jon Del Arroz’s blog that he plans to protest at WorldCon, which is fairly pointless in and of itself. The protest was held, and has moved on. There is no more candy in that pinata, and as evidence I offer Dave’s list of panels.

    However apparently the local Antifa schmucks were hard up for something to do that weekend, and have decided Del Arroz must be PUNISHED. So they’re bringing their Punch A Nazi road show to San Jose. Suddenly, the candy is back!

    As to the Apocalypse thing, this shit happens literally all the time. There is an Apocalypse happening somewhere in the world pretty much continuously. Currently the Four Horsemen are playing polo in Syria, if you want to know how you’d make out in a SHTF situation, just have a look at that.

    What I notice from that is even in a war-torn region where everything is blown up, life goes on. People get by. If Mao and Stalin proved anything, they proved that it doesn’t matter how many people a tyrant kills. Fifty years later an outside observer can’t even tell anything bad happened.

    This is why I can’t stand 95% of “post-apocalyptic” literature. Its mostly anti-capitalist/anti-American moralizing and torture pr0nz, with some really bad use of horses thrown in.

    Y’all worry too much. If you don’t die in the first five minutes, and your own stupidity doesn’t kill you in the first five weeks, you’ll probably be okay. That means you’ll live for a while more and die later, like you were going to before the SHTF event.

    Shit. Happens. We’ve seen this shit before. It’s deja poo all over again.

    1. I remember someone saying once that there has never been a riot at a science-fiction convention.

      I sincerely hope that doesn’t change this weekend.

      1. I will remind one and all at this time of this little thing from 2015, the Year of the Assterisk:

        “I’m distressed to see that some folks who were planning to come to Sasquan are thinking of skipping Worldcon this year.”

        “Because they’re frightened.”

        “I understand why people are frightened, given the racist, misogynistic, and dishonest screeds they’ve been subjected to. It isn’t — alas — unusual for verbal abuse to escalate into physical abuse; and anyway verbal abuse is no fun to begin with.”

        So, if anything unpleasant happens at WorldCon next weekend, I have two things to say about it.

        1. We warned them this would happen. We warned them long, and loudly. We got wooden assterisks for our trouble. Karma is a stone bitch.

        2. I will be far, far away in Canada, doing something else. Possibly cleaning the bathroom, possibly cutting the lawn, one never knows. Whatever I’m doing, it will be better than sitting in San Jose wondering if the cops will let the Brownshirts break in and get me.

      1. One thing is for sure, none of them are there because they like Science Fiction and want to nerd-out with the other nerds.

        These are fake-nerds.

          1. Truthfully I have no idea. Never met JDA, haven’t read his work, don’t know the guy.

            But given the guff he’s been getting the last two or three years, and the sheer -venom- of it, I’d say he’s more than entitled to troll the SJWs and get all the sales from it that he possibly can. They played with the bull, now they’re getting his horns.

            I’d add at this time that we’ve not seen any ill behavior from Jon Del Arroz -before- the SJWs started screwing with him at Baycon. Ten years of attendance, not a word of discontent.

            1. Phantom, my understanding is he was never disinvited from attending baycon, he just wasn’t included in programming this year, which is normal for them to rotate speakers. He parlayed that into being “banned”.

              I don’t know if he’s part of programming for the last 10 consecutive years. I doubt it but could be wrong.

              1. “…my understanding is he was never disinvited from attending baycon…”

                Yes, that is the official story, and you can believe as much or as little of it as you like.

                In my experience, men do not launch a multi-year campaign of lawsuits and merciless trolling because somebody innocently decided to “rotate speakers.”

                Therefore, I don’t believe a word.

                Since BayCon there have been many insults leveled at JDA that no sane American would ever say to another man in a bar. And there was the PreCrime banning by WorldCon, a situation unique in that organization’s history. People have been banned for bad behavior, but never for behavior that hasn’t happened yet.

                In conclusion, if JDA is a self-promoter and opportunist, I wish him all good luck and success with it and hope he gets to buy his own mountain like that other alleged self-promoter guy, Larry Correia. Live long and prosper, gentlemen.

                  1. I don’t. I watch what all the players in this farce -do-, and I make my judgement based on that.

                    Commitment is not measured by words, but by deeds.

  20. No one knows what the future holds
    Or which skill betters the odds,
    So it’s best to say we’re all born equal
    And leave the rest to the gods.

  21. most of the people on that panel, and those attending it, are likely to run screaming for a safe space as soon as their iPhone stops working.

  22. Nowadays a line-man told me, the first to look worried during a local black-out are teenagers with low battery levels. The grown ups usually feel confident that things will be fixed before the freezer begins to thaw.

  23. ” in the same way you can guarantee the black character or the gay character in the now ‘diverse’ murder mystery is not the murderer, but the white male middle aged heterosexual conservative is. Oh and his motivation is racism or/and homophobia. He probably likes guns too.”

    And is a devout Christian and it turns out that his beliefs only made him MORE likely to be evil, not less! You forgot that part. And someone will at some point make a statement on how this just goes to show you, ALL religious folk who, like, sincerely believe any of it are automatically and innately stupid, evil, and crazy. Except for that nice hipster who “isn’t religious, just spiritual.”

  24. The heck with being an “ally”. I want a panel on how to be a VILLAIN. Are there uniform requirements (other than a cape and a moustache you can twirl?). Are their standards for minions, and for Lairs. What’s the best way of finding a really good tropical island with a volcano that doesn’t already have a dozen or more Evil Overlord Wannabes fighting over the best cave complexes ??

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