Wow, the last few weeks have been anything but calm for the industry. We have the continuing saga of the RWA/Courtney Milan debacle. Social media, which my mother calls the worst thing ever to be invented, has seen some of the woke scolds doing their best to dance on the graves of some of the biggest names in SFF. All this and we are only two weeks into the new year. Let’s hope this is not a portent of the year to come.
I’m not going to spend much time on the controversies. There’s been enough written a bout them already. But if you want to see how the MSM is handling the RWA situation, check out the updated article over at CNN. To say it does some hand-wavium to avoid any real research into what’s been going on is putting it mildly. The sad thing in all this is, like what we saw with SFWA a few years ago, RWA is going to be lessened by this controversy and the way it’s been handled. When any organization allows a few folks who know how to leverage social media to set policy, to drive off long-time members and fans, you have a problem.
As for the social media idiocy, there have been a cadre of woke scolds creeping out of the shadows to diss Isaac Asimov for daring to put his arm around a woman years before his death. An action the woman in question said was consensual. Others have been doing their best to drag Mike Resnick, one of the nicest men I’ve had the pleasure of knowing, through the mud over comments he made decades ago. They do this just days after Mike’s passing. They don’t give a fuck about his family and friends. Nothing matters to these folks except their own “feelz” and they don’t care if their attacks are well-founded or not.
I’m tired of it. I’m tired of these so-called paragons of virtue trying to apply today’s standards–sorry, their standards today–to words written or actions taken years, possibly decades or centuries ago. None of our histories would bear up under this standard, including their own.
There are days when I wonder why anyone would go into this profession. If you aren’t in with the clique of the month, you open yourselves up to attack. I have no doubt there will be folks from a certain website who will attack me for this post simply because I refuse to condemn Mike Resnick. Others will condemn me because I’m not siding with Courtney Milan. So I might as well give them more ammo because I’m tired of them attacking folks simply because they can. Worse, they feel they can with impunity.
As fiction writers, our job is, first and foremost, to entertain.
Read that again: to entertain.
The majority of readers buy novels as a means of escaping their lives for a few minutes or a few hours at a time. They want a story that will stoke their imaginations. One that will take them to faraway places and give them characters they want to meet or be like.
Sure, there can be a message in the prose, but the message comes second. It needs to be skillfully woven into your words in such a way it doesn’t beat the reader over the head. Most readers buy a novel because being preached to is the last thing they want.
They read historical fiction not to see it made into today’s world and mores transported to a long distant time. In fact, avid historical fiction readers will call you on historical inaccuracies. That includes language, dress, tech, economy, everything.
Because of this, good historical fiction writers do their homework. Just like any other good novelist. They know their genre. They know the time period they are writing about. They don’t take shortcuts. Just because you don’t like the way women are treated or they way things are done in a book, don’t assume it is because the writer is a misogynist or worse. Perhaps they simply did their homework.
To me, all this (from Milan et al to the social media woke scolds) is nothing but children behaving badly. If they held jobs in the “real world”, this sort of behavior would lead to one of several consequences. The first, the less severe, would be seeing them place on probation for a period of time, giving them a chance to correct their behavior. The second would be demotion and a reduction in pay and benefits. The third would be termination.
Unfortunately, we don’t have that option as readers or as fellow writers. But we do have one way to make our voices heard. . . our wallets. These woke scolds have gone on campaigns, telling readers not to buy anything written by white authors or male authors or Christian authors or conservative authors. Pick your “other”. So here’s my call. Use your dollars to support those authors whose work you enjoy. If they politics or social media antics get to the point that you can no longer enjoy their writing, then don’t buy their work. But don’t judge a book based solely on who wrote it, what their race, nationality, political leanings, religion, sexual preference or orientation or anything else happen to be. Judge on how much you enjoy the book.
Speaking of books, I need to get back to work on the final edits on Risen from Ashes. Until later!