You know, we better shift on. We’ve only got two years and two days to start serving soylent green. The people-scooping seems remarkably lack-luster, and, what’s worse, I hear that New York hasn’t flooded either. Didn’t James Hansen tell us that was going to happen some time back? Or was that one one the other doomsters? It’s hard to keep track of the disasters de jour, as hard as the latest political fad de jour. I think bestiality is probably due to claim victim status… but predictions are hard. It’s best to make them about the past. After all, we all know the past is fluid and infinitely possible manipulate and adjust, whereas the future is clearly and irrevocably defined. Written in stone, as it were.
Which is why the sf writers (me included) movie makes and other purveyors of fantasy AKA doom-porn always get it dead right, and soylent green will be for sale tomorrow, and English children already don’t know what snow is (it was never going to snow again, remember).
Yes, well… we don’t get it right much. Some of us are honest enough to call it fiction.
So take what I say with that in mind. Just keep in mind that the folk telling you the future IS certain, are probably just as accurate, but less honest. The times they are a changing. I bet I get that right, because it is nearly new year (I’m on call for New Year’s eve – I’ll be glad when that time changes especially if it does so without disaster).
That aside, the zeitgeist of the world is shifting. Populism, Nationalism, Working-class interests – things and values effectively proclaimed near dead and shortly extinct in that certain future… ten years ago are resurgent. I’ve read a lot older novels, and mixed a lot of older academics. Look at history and you see these ‘shifts’ marked and some extent presaged by changes in the books and certainly within academia. They were the fringes, the outliers, the dissenters, the canaries in coal mines. Basically changes there spread through the media and society. By the time they got adopted by the mainstream churches – actually the pendulum had usually finished swinging and started to go the other way.
I… see a little of that pattern now. Well, the Churches are embracing ‘woke’. Academia has become a bastion, living in a woke yesterday which reflects their values, traditional publishing likewise, and mainstream media. In an odd way they have become ‘conservative’ (in the original sense of the word). That said… all their efforts, all their money, power, propaganda, straight-out mob bullying, pogroms, attacks on livelihoods, families, reputations… just haven’t worked. Oh, they’ve caused pain all right – but instead of the intimidation tactics (which is what these are) working, they’re just making people mad. Still not yet up to open confrontations, but failing to suppress. From Brexit, to Trump to various lesser upsets like the Yellow Jackets in France and seismic shifts in politics across Eastern Europe… Academia, the media, and publishing and their hangers on have become the establishment, and are going to have the experience that was hitherto reserved for their targets.
They’re still yelling the magic words – words that used to work no matter how inaccurate. Like calling the women involved in Sad Puppies Mormon men. Or gay authors, ‘homophobes’, and authors that either weren’t ‘white’ or were happily married to people who weren’t, ‘racists’. Like the response to the little boy who cried wolf, I’ve got to the point of being pretty certain that anyone who accuses anyone else of any of the magic words… is probably ‘crying wolf’ for effect; is quite possibly a liar and a bully too, and probably defending their personal gain and territory with that. So: I started not knowing or caring who ‘Courtney Milan’ was, and willing to believe her story, because I’ll give anyone a fair shake… the moment she invoked the magic ‘racist’ ‘wolf’-cry and started to gather a twitter mob, I was rolling my eyes. When you tell me this is someone who plays organizational politics too… most of these, from HOA petty dictators, to those in national politics, should — in my opinion — be distrusted and assumed to be serving their own interests and to like imposing their will on others, unless proven otherwise. I’ve long since decided that a willingness to stand for an office probably means you’re unfit for it. Okay, so I am a cynic. Tell me something we didn’t all know.
Which is a pity, because we do need people willing to serve, and because there really are wolves. Discrimination is real sometimes, with the numbers to prove it, I’m of the mind that everyone deserves a fair go. But after all the wolf-cries from people who have played this to their advantage, you’d better have cast-iron proof that you aren’t just doing this your or your clique’s power and advantage, and that actually your ‘victim’ is really statistically provably worse off that the people you accuse of victimizing them.
And in the world of selling a product – be it writing or razors, its numbers actually count. It’s not how loud you can be, or how much virtue you signal to your clique — it is how many you appeal to. Or how many people you manage to lose as customers.
People are suddenly realizing that… they aren’t a tiny minority, possibly of one, who dares not dissent. And the sharper wits are realizing it and working with it. Look, it used to be a sure annual irritation – I get a lot of government/health/fisheries e-mails. The bureaucrats and administrators send out all this fodder to justify their existence. And year-on-year, they’d irritate me with ‘happy holidays’ and no mention of Christmas. This year… a decree must have gone out from Caesar because Christmas is back. When you consider that 50 years of Christmas bashing has shifted the number of Americans celebrating Christmas from IIRC 96% to 93% according to Gallup – you realize that ‘Happy holidays’ was to appease a tiny minority who were not actually hurt in any real and material way – and actually was as much of a counter-irritant to a far larger number.
Ten year ago… that wouldn’t have mattered or changed. Now it is changing. I’m sure someone – the usual suspects – will scream racist-homophobe-sexist etc. And a few people might still be intimidated. They’re loud, aggressive and vicious. Hell, RWA may fold to it – although common sense would say look at who BUYS romance, and let’s KEEP that audience, rather than starting a fight which has no winners, and always leads to woke, broke and irrelevant, but it is not my business.
Good luck to the writers who do cater to the market, not the noise, I say. The times are changing. And those people bullied into silence will return the favor in ways they still can. With secret ballots, with the secret ballot of their wallet –and by leaving the product to sink or swim without them.
Get your soylent green here!