Skip to content

That’s Entertainment–Or It Should Be

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. Read more

Long time passing

By the time this post is up, by the merits of ye tyme-travail (or the international date-line which allows me to live in your future), I’ll have been on this island for a decade. Time passes, and so, sadly, do people.  I’ve lost a good friend and long ago dive partner, and science fiction is poorer for the passing of Mike Resnick. Mike was a close friend and mentor to a couple of good friends of mine, so although we personally only shared a couple of e-mails, I know a lot about him, and all of it is positive. I know: no one speaks ill of the dead, out of respect for the bereaved.  It’s the decent, considerate thing to do, because no other time is as fraught and miserable than it is for those bereaved folk.  In Mike’s case, he didn’t have to wait to be dead before anyone realized he was a good guy and one sf-fantasy’s greater champions: one of the people whose shoulders the field stands on. Read more

What were you reading?

We’ve all read those reviews – the ones that leave us scratching our heads and saying “What book did they read? ‘Cause that wasn’t the same one I read.”

Okay, aside from the review of one of Peter’s space operas complaining about the alien invasion of earth being cliched (there are no aliens, and it’s not set on Earth, but on a space ship), usually the reviewers are actually talking about the same story. The mental furniture they use to view the world, and the emotional baggage they bring to the story, is just radically different from ours.

Read more

Assumptions and Misunderstandings

I stumbled across something earlier this week and immediately thought, ooh! I can use this for research! My second thought was something else, though. The article on social media had trumpeted that a grave was excavated containing ‘Three Amazon Warrior Women’ to paraphrase the headline. There was a grave. In Russia. And it had been partly robbed. There was, I commented, nothing Amazonian whatsoever about the site. Warriors? Maybe. The problem is that there’s a definite bias to reporting of such finds, because feminism. Which robs the real power of the legacy these women have left in their death rites. It’s not that they may have fought alongside the men. It’s certainly not that they were fighting the patriarchy. We don’t know enough about their culture to make those assumptions. Women of their time and place may not have known a patriarchy existed, or cared if it did. Transposing modern mores and concerns onto the bones and artifacts simply serves to obscure and confuse the real data we can pull from the traces of the past. Read more

Writing Advice From A Furry Editor

As some of you know, the Hoyt household is going through feline upheaval.  Greebo-cat went into hyperthyroidism mid 2019, and we finally put him in radio iodine therapy.  This was absolutely necessary because though Greebo is sixteen, he’s also my “editor.”  More on that later. Suffice to say I couldn’t go into a new phase of my career, and brave indie without him. So far, it seems to have worked, he’s gaining weight back, feeling well enough to put his sister, the young whipper snapper (11) in her place (she needs it) sleeping by my side, and herding me to the writing chair.

Meanwhile in December, son’s cat hit end-stage renal failure. Holding fire so, so far, but you know… it won’t last forever.  And right after the new year Euclid cat — around 21 yo — suddenly fell of the health cliff. We’re trying a few things, but it’s likely he’ll leave us soon. No, not happy about that. That’s life.

Meanwhile onto “how can a cat be your editor?” Read more

I’ll take it anyway

newyear

One of the few good things about being an old codger is the sense of perspective. We may not have flying cars or moon colonies yet, but 2020 has a lot of features that I find more immediately useful than being able to zoom over the live oaks to the supermarket. (Grocery delivery, for one.)

90 percent of my favorite books are available as e-books and, for the first time since 1990, I can see pockets of empty space on the bookshelves!

I get to research a historical fantasy from my couch instead of trekking over to the rare books collection where I’m strip-searched and refused any writing implements other than one pencil… to read a modern facsimile edition of an Elizabethan fencing manual.

The kid in Brooklyn can call any time she wants to chat instead of waiting for messages urgent enough to justify three minutes at night time lower calling rates.

Instead of parsing mainstream media stories to figure out what they’re carefully not saying, I can check out a wide variety of alternative news sources and form my own opinions about the story behind the spin.

Looking farther afield… charities that distribute used clothing overseas now tell me that they don’t want any garments that aren’t in excellent condition. Being able to hold out for a new-looking shirt instead of being happy with a ripped and stained undershirt probably doesn’t seem like luxury to us in America, but it’s a vast improvement for much of Africa. The wealth created by the Industrial Revolution continues to spread.

Those millions of people who were supposed to starve to death during the overpopulation famines to follow 1970… didn’t. I’m sorry about the ones who did starve and are starving because of our inability to completely destroy all manifestations of socialism/communism/totalitarianism, but in celebration of the non-famines, we could do worse than erect a statue to Norman Borlaug.

And as for the personal robots… Pass on that one. I’m not letting Alexa or any of her friends into the house, thank you very much! And the First Reader gave me a nifty little phone case that supposedly blocks location tracking, so in the unlikely event I actually go anywhere, the Data Giants won’t have an automatic record of my movements. Some “progress” is to be celebrated, but some is to be thwarted.

(Header image: Interior of Stanford Torus. By Donald Davis – NASA Ames Research Center)

Taking Culture Beyond Yogurt

Or cheese. Not that I dislike either, it’s just they don’t work well as analogs of human culture, as it were.

See, a lot of writing uses the whole stranger to the culture thing because it automatically ramps the tension up – it’s an easy way to add a level of risk and suspense that the author doesn’t have to do much about, and they’ve got a nice, simple way to avoid the dreaded infodumpus by having their out of place character asking questions (you didn’t really think Rowling made Harry Potter that dumb because she wanted him to be stupid, did you? She set him up so he’d be completely clueless and with a built in aversion to reading up on things, then handed him the biggest scold/substitute big sister/nag ever to be his assistant (and I like Hermione as a character but have to admit she’s a bit too much like me for my comfort – although I was a bit less inclined to trust authority) so she could tell him whatever he needed to know whenever he needed to know it).

Read more