It’s the Past that Keeps Changing

I don’t like to be manipulated. Mind you, I don’t know anyone who thinks it’s loads of fun, but some people don’t seem to mind much. “I wuz taken” gives them an excuse not to think too hard. In fact people like claiming vast conspiracies against them (“the man”, “the patriarchy”, “the illuminati” – don’t laugh at the last one, you should see the comments I don’t approve.) It gives them an excuse not to do anything much. It also makes them important. After all it takes a vast conspiracy to hold them down. They’re that important.

I’m not sure I believe in vast conspiracies. I’ll admit to you that things like Jornolist and the fact that no one, not even a hungry cub reporter has dared reveal our current president’s grades or even what courses he took, specifically, have me raising an eyebrow and wondering if I’m wrong.

However, being wrong would including doubting both Heinlein and my dad, both of which emphasized that two can keep a secret if one of them is dead.

The communist three to a cell system worked pretty well at keeping secrets, mind, but only by walling-off potential damage. And by and large we’ve come to know everything they were up to. It’s just no one believes it, and it’s largely not reported on.

Which brings us to the crux of the matter in this.

Humans are social animals. And, for my sins, I went to an all girl high school. (I don’t know what my sins were, but they must have been terrible. Or terribly fun. Too bad I can’t remember them.)

I know all about ruling by “controlling the cool.” And I know that the outcasts simply aren’t listened to. I wasn’t precisely an outcast. More of a self-out. Even in the gifted form I attended 8th through 11th, I was odd woman out. More or less on purpose.

I don’t like being manipulated, and I’d rather be outside the hierarchy than have to swallow hard and nod along with things that revolted me, to be in.

Being an outsider, when you choose it yourself, is not a bad thing. You get to watch the dance, mark the way the wires are being pulled on the puppets who live and die for social approval.

But you pay a penalty. If you’re an outcast, even a self outcast, they won’t listen to you. You’re written off as “crazy” or “smart of insane.”

Which is okay. Been doing that for a long time. I heard some prophets had the same rap. I can deal.

We know – this is not an if, not once the archives of the Soviet Union opened up – that the Soviet Union and International Communists expended an enormous amount of time and attention to commanding the heights of the field in certain areas: news reporting, publishing, the arts, education.

I think they did it the old clumsy way, by bribery and subversion. I don’t know (haven’t read most of the stuff on it, mostly because it’s published in dribs and drabs) if they picked people of outsized influence who were low echelon but commanded the “cool.”  But they got them all the same.

They were aided in this by the rot that started crumbling Western Civilization after WWI. (WWI never ended, really. You know, sometimes I think we’re in one of the crazy cycles, like the wars of religion, playing itself in a million guises, all of them pernicious.) Oh, and by human nature. You see, humans are social animals (did I mention that already?). People who achieve high status tend to be good at manipulating “the cool.” And “the cool” by the time WWI happened had turned against Europe. In a move that went back to before the French Revolution, “the cool” had turned against civilization itself and the mores of Judeo-Christianity. Instead of believing the accumulated history/victories of civilization were “the cool”, members of the civilization turned on itself, including idealizing humans in a supposed natural state and past, barbarous stages of their own civilization.

A little bit of this is a good thing. Civilizations can get too effete and disconnected from real human nature (as we have proof daily.) Checking your assumptions is a goodness. Kind of like doing mathematical proofs. Our own country comes from questioning some of those assumptions and going back to a not-really-ever-like-that republic, before the medieval rule of kings.

But World War I tore at the foundations of Western Civilization, the easy going assumption that because we were more prosperous we were more civilized than all the past. The dreamers and the crazies who had been questioning and asking, and pointing out problems were still (unless they were really crazy) by and large members in good standing of Western Civ. They came to reform, not to destroy.

Suddenly the sparrows who had been pecking at the moss growing on the more calcified parts of the civilization became vultures, impatient and tearing apart the not-quite-yet-dead body politic.

Now we’re in the curious situation where the cool is to turn against that which makes it possible for you to be you; to be wealthy; to be comfortable.

The very people at the pinnacle of our system of rewards ridicule the very virtues that allowed them or their ancestors to get there – thrift, hard work, drive, commitment – as bourgeois. Nostalgie de la Boue?  Baby, we have a hard on for the dysfunctional, the crazy, the broken.

And civilizations that – objectively, if you know anything of their history – were far bloodier, dirtier, more genocidal than our own are held up as paragons and victims for one reason alone: we won. They lost. They never got to inflict their evil on the world at last.

I keep expecting, any minute now, the hagiographic rehabilitation of Hitler. After all, he lost. And those WWII propaganda movies sure made him “the other.”

Because that’s how loonie it’s got.

I don’t believe in conspiracies. I believe however that humans will do anything to acquire social status and power. We’re social animals.

What this means is that a few well placed people can command “the cool.”

And “the cool” has now come to the place you knew it would. Having elevated all the other “victims” of Western civ to the pantheon, it’s now concentrating on elevating the most powerful (in terms of cool) group in our societies to “victim.” Yep, wealthy and well educated white women. (Even if some of them have a fractional amount of other blood. Like who doesn’t?)

The problem with this is that women, though held back somewhat by biology, have definitely been on the march since the pill has become available and common and lifelong pregnancy stopped being the destiny of every sexually active woman.

And the other problem is that even before that liberation from the chains of oppressing biology, there were always women who made it to the reaches of power. Not even noble women. There was after all that peasant girl, Joan of Arc (my patron saint, as we often both find ourselves in a war that’s not what it seems, led by forces we can’t even define.)

In the eighties when I came to the states I realized the history women here knew – even educated women – was not what I’d studied. It was the little things that jostled me. Like a friend saying that women hadn’t been allowed to hunt or work outside the home ever. Ah. Peasant women always (more or less) worked outside the house with their husbands, if their husbands did. And as for hunting… you did what you did to survive. (Though women mostly set snares, but so did most peasant men.) Other things, like a recent college graduate 20 years ago assuring us there had always been famous women fighters, women in the ranks of the fighting men, since always. How did we not know about them? Ah, well, it was a patriarchal conspiracy. A conspiracy maintained for centuries by groups of unrelated men and women and supported by researchers into history, many of them women. Yep. That’s how powerful patriarchy is. Because magic.

Then there is the whole “idyllic and lost matriarchy” an idea so dumb only academics could believe it and fail to see in it the obvious reflection of the Christian lost Eden.

All of this puzzled me, but it was above my paygrade to fight it. I made jokes about it on panels, and grinned in the face of people saying it (mostly because there’s a level of shock that translates itself to chuckles.) I thought it was a moment of madness, but it would pass, culturally speaking.

I was being a wishful thinker. The women who believed that half backed stew of nonsense raised daughters who believe them too. And now with the force of revealed wisdom.

Except that revealed wisdom collides with reality. There have always been women in science fiction/fantasy/comics/gaming. Some have been held down, true, mostly by other women. And that biology thing held them down too, until the seventies or so.

Now fantasy has a lot more women than science fiction. And while I know bloody nothing about comics (my fandom is Disney comics, okay? You should be happy I don’t cos-play.) I have heard that in gaming some work/games have more women than others. This is because women are different from men and statistically more women or more men will gravitate to certain things.  You doubt that, you try being a male nurse or secretary.

I know when I was growing up it made me an odd duck among odd ducks that I not only liked science fiction but that I was a WOMAN who liked science fiction. Yeah, it got me sneered at, but mostly by people who didn’t like science fiction. The geeks were just glad to see a woman share their interests.

I’m not saying it was easy. It’s never easy being odd man (woman) out. I’m sure in the early days of science fiction, just because of rarity, the women who broke in had to be faster, smarter, better.

I know that the publishing establishment tried to keep me from writing science fiction. But that’s humans being humans and stupid. The tin said “Woman” and therefore “fantasy writer.”
(That’s fine. I’m told fantasy sells better, anyway.)

However that’s not to say you couldn’t do it. Or that women didn’t do it. But these are the women other women don’t see.

Go read the article (which coincidentally has almost the same title as my article for PJM on the same theme.) He lays out how the history of science fiction keeps changing to claim it used to exclude women until some arbitrary date that makes the new generation the pioneers “speaking truth to power” and all that rot. I’d quote him, but this is already too long.

Anecdote isn’t data, but I know when I came in, there were three women for every man I met who’d just broken in. Not brave pioneering, not only because it had gone before, but because writing is a badly paid, indoor work that can be done while watching kids. That’s all. Or that can be done on the side of an academic career. And because it required years of unpaid work to break in, a luxury most men don’t have.

But these women – and some men who claim to fight for women (rolls eyes) – need to invest their actions in coming into a field that now belongs pretty much to women with “the cool” and tones of heroism.

So history must be re-written so that women are victims and cool. The current generation of women, mind, not the ones who did the real work of breaking in, who often paid for it by not having personal lives, or who were considered odd ducks by everyone inside and outside SF. No. Their pampered, overeducated, molly-coddled would be granddaughters, who want to believe the Man is holding them down, rather than admit they’re the Man.

It finally dawned on me why Malzberg and Resnick had to be silenced and the innocuous, slightly gallant term “ladies” had to be made into an insult.

It wasn’t because there was anything objectionable in their columns, but because the only way people who aren’t victims can claim victim status and self ennoble; the only way those who continuously put others down and engage in vicious wars of emotional destruction can claim to be bullied; the only way the queen bees can claim they’ve been denied power and deserve it now is to silence those keeping the history of the field alive.

Each one of those lady editors and lady writers threatened these ideology-blinded, ambition-motivated “Social Justice Warriors” personally, by making it clear they were trying to conquer territory already conquered, and that they aren’t a patch on the previous generations, male or female.

Which is why the history had to be stopped. (Fortunately there’s twitterstorms and internet outrage for that, which allow one or two queen bees to make strategic decisions the drones echo unthinkingly.)

Because in the current day and age, we live in a crazy version of soviet history.

We know what the future holds – more “oppressed women” forever conquering the fortress that never falls because it can be re-written to never have fallen – it’s the past that keeps changing.

The Lines In Our Heads

Recently I’ve come to the conclusion that humans are golems. Note these are the golems of Terry Pratchett and not the golems of Jewish myth. They are clay robots, with lines in their head – the chem – that both animate them and give them purpose.

When I was a very young writer, knee high to a short story, I was told – and experienced – that you should never, ever, ever make a character do something that broke it. By this, it was explained, they meant taking some line you’d clearly drawn with the character “the character will never do this” and then make him do it.

A lot of writers interpret this way the injunction to find out what your character is afraid of, then make him do it. So they take clear lines in their character’s head and violate them. And then the book and character are broken, though sometimes neither writer nor publisher realize it.

I don’t know how to explain this, except you’ll know it when you do it. I did this by having a character have sex (in a book, duh) with someone she wasn’t more than casually interested in. Even though this was okay for the culture (early, unpublished work) it wasn’t okay for the character, and the character broke, and that book got abandoned. The character broke because one of the bright lines in HER head was that she didn’t do that, so when I forced it, the character became someone else I wasn’t interested in writing.

Recently I’ve realized it’s the same thing with humans, though since we’re human and twisty, our chem, our lines in the head are multiple, overlaid, and sometimes (though not often, I think) contradictory. (Contradictory directives I can think of are “I will never hurt anyone else” and “I will do anything to defend my children.”)

I became aware of mine recently, when an “opportunity to my advantage” appeared and I had to turn it down, because I couldn’t write something that I now only don’t believe in, but which I violently disagree with, and which I think would be one more “pull” towards what I consider despair and giving up on the human race. I realized then that one of the directives of my work is “Snatching brands from the fire” not “piling on coals of destruction.” Even when I write dark stuff, my characters are (usually) still fighting.

There are other lines in my head, and you guys know some of them. Like for instance, I choose to believe in the individual rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This stops me short, often, when I’m about to say things like “there ought to be a law” but it also gives me moral qualms at most inconvenient times. Such as when the kids were little I didn’t give them an allowance (I believe in TANSTAAFL) but I also didn’t make them clean. The cleaning thing was a value for me, not for them, so I figure instead of yelling at them to do stuff, I’d post a blackboard (ran across it recently, with the prices still on. At some point cleaning became THEIR value too, so at least they take care of their stuff. And they got their own work/pay, so the scheme went by the way side.) with tasks and their pay. This meant that 5 year old Robert accumulated a tidy bank balance, and that was fine by me. Yes, I do know it’s a weird way to raise kids, but I had to do it without violating the words in my head which both said I shouldn’t pay for nothing and that I shouldn’t require my kids to do conscript work the benefit of which they couldn’t see. It was nuts, but it worked, I think.

There are other lines and when I violate them – unintentionally – I carry around a boat load of guilt. One of the lines is “I will hurt no innocents” and innocents is a flexible term in this case. As in “I will hurt no one that isn’t trying to hurt me.”

So, Sarah, why are you telling us of this little problem?

Because from observation, I’ve gathered other people have lines in the head they can’t cross either. I don’t know how they get in there, but I can guarantee it’s not all early childhood and inculcated before perception. Some of the lines we chose to have in there, ourselves.

This is why after the fall of the wall the communists in Europe were like ghosts of their former selves, unable to integrate the lines in their head with the events they’d witnessed. It’s also why, ultimately, the events got re-written and instead of the decades they’d spent holding up various ditactorships as an example of freedom, they rewrote the events to “real communism has never been tried.” Though they still hold existing communist – or fascist, see China – dictatorships like Venezuela as paragons, and take their side reflexively.

This is because humans in the end will choose not to break themselves. If to keep the lines in the head intact, reality must be deconstructed, then reality gets deconstructed. If your lines in head say you’re a communist because you care about injustice and the little people, evidence must be ignored that those regimes result in massive injustice, mass graves and ultimately a neo-feudal order with party apparatchiks on top (and often not very neo. In Europe most such are descended from the “good, old” families.)

It also explains why so many women in science fiction today refer back to the mythical era where women had no clout in the sf/f writing field (even though women, yeah, under their own names were present in the field since the forties at least, and were usually made much of, because geeks like women) and where men in a conspiracy (sometimes I wonder if these people ever met any men) deliberately held women down. The chem in their heads, probably implanted by mothers or grandmothers who went to work during or right after WWII, tells them they’re not just equal to men, they’re supposed to be the conquering wave that shows this. If others did it before you, you’re not the conquering wave, and you’re going to look more than a little silly. So, history must be rewritten in the familiar mold of deserving people held down by all powerful evil oppressors. Because that fits their chem.

So why does this matter?

It matters because you should be aware of your chem. There will be a sense of bridling, a sense of rearing up – as it were – of needing to protect something, when you’re about to violate it, or believe something that contradicts it.

Can you violate your chem, if it needs to be violated? I don’t know. I think it takes something supernatural or near supernatural to do so. A – pardon me for evoking a religious story here, but it’s appropriate – road to Damascus experience. Something so big, so glaring; something you live through, something that traumatizes you to such an extent that you cannot continue preserving the chem and you rewrite it.

If you can find figures who have completely changed – political orientation, religion, etc – you usually find that level of traumatic event at the root or around the time of the change. It has to be very traumatic and hit them personally, in a way that can’t be rewritten.

So, what is all this in the name of?

Your chem is your ultimate blind spot. Whether you wrote it or someone wrote it, it’s the one thing that threatens to unravel you if it’s challenged.

Find it and figure out what assumptions were made in building it.

Because sometimes events and circumstances (like those mentioned above) require you to change your chem. Sometimes you have to amend it and rewrite it.

The alternative is to rewrite and amend reality so that your chem has you doing the opposite of what you think it does.

And that makes you a dumb golem indeed.

Denver Comicon AAR

With no pictures, because those are in my camera and I’m only half awake. Also in my camera are dorky (trust me) pictures of younger son and husband in the time-traveling delorian and since they paid to pose with that, if I accidentally delete them I’ll NEVER be forgiven, not even after I die.

So, this was my first comicon. I’ve been aware it was going on, but you guys know what the last 5 (10) years have been health wise, so I kept losing track of where/when it was, and didn’t go.

As I was trying to collect my thoughts, I ran across a facebook post from my son who said that the difference between this and cons he’d attended before is not one of scale, but one of intrinsic makeup.

That is, comicon isn’t worldcon, or world fantasy, or a local con scaled up. Comicon is its own animal, a different creature entirely.

Now, I spent most of the time inside the Wordfire booth (it’s where my publisher wanted me to be and I take that seriously) but I saw a lot of the con go by, and I got reports from the boys as they came to check in/see if I needed anything/escort me to panels.

Imagine a typical science fiction con. Most of the people who attend those are habitués. Science fiction and fantasy are at the center of their entertainment choices. They either have attended a con before, or have wanted to. They are part of a relatively small and incestuous community that means they probably know three or four writers by first name, and that meeting writers is not an earth-shaking event.

Comicon is… different. It’s like taking that small con, and then throwing open the doors and inviting the world in. It’s the equivalent of shouting “If you even read a couple of sf/f books, or play a couple of sf/f games, or love a couple of sf/f movies/series a year, come on in, we love you.”

The most common answer when someone came to the Wordfire booth looking for something to read and we asked “What do you like to read?” was “Everything.”

It’s been said that SF/F won the culture wars and the vast masses are all geeks now. This is not… Precisely true. More accurate would be saying that due to tech jobs and other perks of an increasingly technological society, it’s hard to despise those who make it work and, unbelievably and often sideways, a certain patina of cool has associated to geek pursuits. This means people have integrated some of SF/F geekdom into the potentials for their amusement. They are not SF/F geeks as the ones who used to attend conventions are. This is not their life and heart. It is just something they enjoy. That means they might also enjoy mystery or romance or even stuff that’s unclassifiable.

I realize this is at the heart of the trufan/not trufan controversy, but here’s my take: for some of those people, over time, SF/F MIGHT become the favored means of entertainment. And even if it doesn’t, it will be one of their means of entertainment. Which means the field, including books, games and shows, will be wide and healthier and more diverse (in the real sense of appealing to a multitude of tastes) and therefore attract better writers and game designers and producers, which means for those who are trufen there will be better and more varied fare and you might not be looked at quite so askance for your geekdom obsession.

Is that enough justification to let the great unwashed in? Rolls eyes. They’re not asking your – or even mine, which is good, since I don’t care – permission to come in. They are in. And it doesn’t matter how much you love something, you can’t demand someone love it as much in order to share it. That is a kindergarten dispute, and you should have got over those feelings of possessiveness over your toys around the time you were potty trained.

Like them or not, the people who are only part-time sf fans are in. You can sit in your corner with your hands over your ears saying “lalalalalalala” or you can get to know them. Having spent the weekend hanging out with them, I can tell you they’re fun.

And now a quick and incomplete summary, before I shower and go paint walls.

The Good:

Diversity: if you’re looking for the only type of diversity you can track visually, this is possibly the most diverse con I ever attended. My skin tone when normal (right now I’m sort of pale, the result of illness and WAY too much time indoors) tracked around medium, I think.

Denver is not an incredibly racially diverse city, and I think that Comicon was MORE diverse than the city.

Acceptance: Okay, so Comicon had more normal people, more of what our forebears in fandom would call “mundanes” even if in costume, but our calm acceptance of the odd and the very odd remained. I saw more same-sex couples holding hands there than anywhere else I’ve been. And no one really gave a d*mn. And mixed-fandom couples too. (I’m still trying to get over Thor and zombie nurse holding hands.)

Youth: I felt old. No. I mean that, and not only because I’ve been so busy running between houses that I haven’t had time to color my hair, (it’s been gray since I turned 28.) No. My kids in their twenties tracked median age for that con. There were any number of kids wearing the “adult” pass who probably had to be driven there, due to being too young.

Readers: This surprised me. I expected a lot less enthusiasm for reading/books/literary track. As is, I’d say about half the people there were avid readers. (This is judging not just by interest at the booth, but by conversations overheard.) What this means is that outside the hard-core of SF/F dedicated readers there’s a MASS of readers wanting to find SOME SF/F works to read.

As someone who reads everything, including the back of cereal boxes and instructions for machines she never owned, I don’t care what else they read if they read my books. It’s not my job to police other people’s lives.

The Bad:

The bad is mostly personal. I found out that in these years when I’ve been ill and not doing cons as much I’ve become a true introvert. Being around people just beat the ever loving tar out of me. I’d get back to the hotel room and feel like I’d run a marathon. I think painting walls and sanding floors is less tiring. I don’t remember being that tired since I came back from Portugal with younger son and due to delays and reroutings was up for almost 48h straight.

This bad is of course a solvable problem and I’m ALMOST recovered. (Instead of showering, I might head back to bed after this post.)

The Different:

Panels are angled differently -This was harder for my sons to adjust to. The how-to-write and how-to-do-art panels were far more …. Amateur oriented. I had to explain to them that anyone going to one of those at worldcon and world fantasy is “committed.” They’ve probably read how to books, might have attended other panels/workshops/etc. A lot of the people attending these at Comicon are just attending to see if they had an interest. Of course not just the level but the thrust will be different.

Accessibility – You’d think with that many people attending, the artists and writers would be less willing to spend time talking to you. However, this was the opposite, and Robert got a very nice art lesson from a professional illustrators. She took time to show him how to merge the forms to draw a tiger-girl construct.

The energy – It’s very fast, all the time. Which is probably why I’m so beat.

Quickpass – being newbies we didn’t know about these, which meant younger son couldn’t get into the stuff he really liked.

The Weird:

They had a “Diversity” track. Yes, I realize this is a fad. You have to talk about the lack of diversity to be diverse, or something. (Rolls eyes.) This was probably the most diverse con I’d ever seen, (not just in terms of skin shades, but in terms of who the attendees were) and it boggles my mind that anyone would feel a need to go talk about how things needed to be more “diverse” (by which they mean mostly external characteristics) and microaggressions and stuff. However, whatever floats your boat. The con seemed very accepting of different fandoms, and I guess fans of racial/gender/other grievance are welcome also. I don’t know if there were enough of them to justify a whole track, but whatever.

Writers were stars – I got more of the “I am never going to wash the hand you shook” treatment there than anywhere else I’ve attended. It startles me more than a little, first because I’m not that big, and second because eh. I’m just a chick who writes stuff.

On the good side I got to meet any number of you. Sean Golden for some reason kept ducking under my radar and I forgot who he was from one time to the next. And I don’t remember the names of every Hun I met, mostly because see how the whole thing was exhausting, but I remember Byron and his little daughter cosplaying Murphy in Dresden files.

Those who identified themselves as blog readers got carped. There will be more of this at Liberty con. (Wicked grin.)

Big Enough to Distort business for miles around – I loved all the signs that said “welcome geeks” or “Denver is nerdtown” or whatever.

My Son – No, seriously. Apparently my older son is weird. He escorted me into the con yesterday morning. (Because if you send me in alone you’ll never see me again, unless you happen to cross my path as I’m completely lost, living off fountain water and dropped snacks for months.) He was wearing his normal attire: button down, dark pants, tie, fedora and trenchcoat. I was wearing a t-shirt with a vest embroidered on it (last day of con and trying to be comfortable.)

As a car slowed down for the crosswalk near us, someone looked out the window and said, “Oh, yeah, comicon is this weekend.”

And that was the unkindest cut of all, because we were wearing what we might have worn any other weekend in Denver.

Perhaps one of Robert’s former teachers was right and we ARE comic book characters.

Being an Adult -Cedar Sanderson

Being an adult -Cedar Sanderson

Being an adult is more than simply reaching the twenty-first year of age – or any other arbitrary line in the sand that is culturally determined.

Being an adult is being willing to do anything, everything, to help your children succeed in life. Even when ‘everything’ means being willing to step back and let them fall down a little.

Being an adult means not buying oneself toys when one’s babies are in need of food.

Being an adult means knowing that one day you will have to tell your children to check their credit when they turn 18, because chances are their other parent will have used their social security numbers to buy toys and other ‘necessities’ for themselves. And knowing that you will then have to explain that the only way for your children to clear their name is to press charges against that other parent. Being an adult is knowing you ought to have this same conversation with your ex’s new spouse, but that the trust bridge you are building there is too frail to risk, and they won’t hear that you are offering in love, not a desire to slander.

Being an adult sometimes means giving up your happiness, so that others may be happier.

Being an adult means that you are willing to attempt to understand the motivations of others and to be empathetic to them, even though your peers are sneering at you for not denouncing them. But this is difficult, all of this is difficult, and perhaps more than anything else, this willingness to be responsible for one’s own actions, not to blame them on someone else, or something else, this is being an adult.

My dear man, when we were talking about this not too long ago, shared a story of the first time he knew he was an adult.

“I was sitting in the bar when we heard an accident outside. We all ran out, and I immediately started telling people to do the things that my military training told me to do. Get the road blocked off, call an ambulance, send someone for a cop, first aid. Simply because no one was taking charge and it needed somebody in charge. At least until the adults got there. So we’re doing things, and people are looking to me, and asking me what to do. I’m still waiting for the adults to show up, and I suddenly realized that we’re the adults, no-one else is coming to tells us what to do. And wasn’t that a horrific shock.”

I think we all have moments when we wish we weren’t the grown-ups. When we would give anything to turn it all over to a parent who could sort out this tangled mess we’d made of our lives. I grew up being taught that you had to ‘turn it all over to God.’

Well, yes. And no. Being an adult means facing up to what you have done, and asking for forgiveness if that is needed. But it also means understanding that there are consequences for every decision you make, and that simply saying ‘I asked God to fix it’ is a cop-out. That’s not being an adult, that’s being a child.

We are the ones with boots on the ground, and it’s up to us to keep going even when the path gets rough and steep. We can seek counsel, sure. I do all the time, silently, and from those I trust. I didn’t intend this to be religious, and while it is, it’s also not. Even an agnostic knows they can seek strength from external sources, they just don’t call it praying. So it applies whether you are a believer or not.

Face it, life can be farcical at times. Being an adult means knowing that when you get knocked down hard, you have to get up, laugh it off, and gut it out. You can’t run whining to some higher authority about it. You certainly can’t run around whining that you’re being bullied and won’t Someone do Something? Because adulthood doesn’t work that way. This isn’t a playground, life isn’t always fair, and no-one is going to force Billy to give the ball back because you only had it for two minutes and he’s had it for five now.

Being an adult means learning how to share. How to share your life with first a mate, and then later, children. Sharing your life means you can’t demand perfection from someone else, especially if you aren’t offering them a perfect person in the form of yourself. And no, you aren’t perfect. Stop being absurd and don’t make me get religious at you again. You’re flawed, the one you chose is flawed. Accept it, and help them. That’s what partners do, they offer one another support. Remember how I just talked about getting counsel when your life is snarling up worse than a kitten with a ball of yarn? Ideally, this other adult in your life is the best one to help with that.

Which means that part of being an adult is choosing another adult to share your life with. Don’t pick someone who will blame you for everything they do wrong. Don’t entrust your health and sanity to someone who will tell you that you’re mentally unstable while they show all the signs of classic narcissism right down to self-medicating behaviours of addictions to anything from food to sex to gaming. None of those things are harmful in moderation, but we have all seen the damage they can do to a person with the mind of an adolescent who takes everything to an extreme.

Presuming that you have found that other adult who completes you, know that an even greater challenge is choosing to share your life with children. Loving them isn’t always easy, and it certainly doesn’t just happen. Love is hard work and being an adult means you are no stranger to hard work, and that you know hard work brings great rewards. It might sound trite, but that’s because it’s true. Parenting is the hardest job you will ever face, and it is the one with the most enduring results.

Being a parent of a teen brings new challenges. Colic, dirty diapers, sleepless nights, none of these compare to the anger only a teen can bring against their parent. One of the cruelest and most ironic taunts that can be hurled against an adult by their teenager is ‘I’m more adult than you are!’ but being an adult means that you don’t lash back at them. You know what being an adult is, and you know they don’t have a clue yet. So you love them, and you take a step back so they can stretch their wings. Because in this transition to being an adult, you know there will come a moment when you shouldn’t step in and take over, or they will never learn to truly be an adult.

Icebergs on the Starboard Bow . . . – Alma Boykin

Icebergs on the Starboard Bow . . . – Alma Boykin

And port, and behind us, and where on Earth is that global warming they promised us? And what’s with all the jokes about trees in Siberia, anyway?

People have been complaining about the weather, and noting that no one in the village/court/monastery can remember the last time X happened or it being as cold/hot/wet/dry as it is today, since the ninth day of Creation. But it was not really until the 1700s that we had the tools and resources to keep track of weather events and slowly, gradually, start compiling a picture of larger patterns, if there were any. We had stores of knowledge about local conditions and now-casting built into catches such as “wind before rain/sun shines again;/ rain before wind/the topsails take in,” and “a ring around the moon means rain,” or “red skies at morning, sailors take warning;/ red sky at night, sailors’ delight” (some places use shepherds instead of sailors.) Out where I live, we have rules such as never plant tomatoes until the mesquite blooms (because then you are safe from frost) and that if the wind goes calm during the day it signifies a major wind shift is about to occur. But these kinds of observations are not good for looking at climate, just local short-term weather.

The advent of the telegraph made some longer term forecasting possible, at least in the US. People noted that if Philadelphia reported a weather change, the next day New York City and Boston would probably have a weather change as well. But it was only after WWI, when Vilhelm Bjerknes began collecting large amount of observation that he discovered the large scale, hemispheric cold-meets-warm weather makers, which he called fronts, after the long lines of colliding soldiers in France and Belgium. Weather forecasting had stepped into the next phase. Climate forecasting remained a way off, as did climate reconstruction.

Archaeology and the Annals School of History combined to bring us climate history. Louis Agassiz, a Swiss geographer, had broached the idea of an Ice Age in the 1840s, theorizing that the galloping glaciers of the late 1700s-early 1800s had advanced and retreated before. But geologists and others had downplayed his ideas for various reasons, including differing interpretations of the evidence he presented. Eventually a few historians and archaeologists began looking at evidence of past human activities and observed that the weather had to have been different, and that perhaps people had responded differently. In the late 1800s George Perkins Marsh, a US ambassador to [country] had looked at the “modern” Mediterranean, looked at his classical history texts, and produced the book Man and Nature, a study of the effects of farming and other human activities on the Mediterranean Basin. He is considered the father of environmental history. However, he could not include any information about if the weather patterns had been different back then, because he had no way of obtaining the data. That came in the 1940s-1960s.

It was not until historians, working with multiple small-scale regional studies like those pioneered by the Annales School in France (including Emmanuel le Roi Ladurie), in North America, the Low Countries, China, Scandinavia, and archaeologists and astronomers combined their data that we realized a pattern did exist, and that the climate had changed in very major ways, although not on a strictly repeating schedule (although some hold that a 1500-year cycle does exist.) The Roman Warm Period encouraged population growth and expansion into areas that became marginal when the cold phase of the “Dark Ages” (roughly 500-850) kicked in and kicked off the Volkerwanderung, possibly the Plague of Justinian, the loss of North Sea coastal settlements, and terminated the vineyards of England (and may be remembered in the folk tales that became the Mabinogion).

The Medieval Climate Optimum encouraged a return to the uplands. Combined with the development of the heavy plow and three-field rotations, food became relatively abundant again, and the mild weather helped make major trade and building projects possible. This is the age of Chartres Cathedral, the great Champaigne Fairs, and the Germanic expansion east into the Polish and Lithuanian Marches. This is also the time of the troubadours and the Angevian Empire. But decreasing solar energy output encouraged cooler temperatures and wetter weather in Europe, ending the Medieval Warm Period and ushering in the Little Ice Age in the early 1300s. People weakened by cold and hunger succumbed easily to the Black Death, and Europe saw on aggregate a 25% population loss, with some areas suffering complete devastation and abandonment. The Four Horsemen rode over the Northern Hemisphere, and parts of the Southern Hemisphere as well, with “low” points between 1600-1650 and in the late 1700s. We are (or were) currently in a warm phase again, one that will perhaps be called the 20th Century Warm Period.

All of this would be only of interest to historians, archaeologists, and weather nerds, except that climate and energy consumption became a big political deal, with lots of money available for (the right kind of) research starting in the 1960s. The 1970s were also a time of cooling weather, which led to cries that we were all going to “freeze to death in the dark” if we were not crushed under galloping glaciers or irradiated out of existence then frozen by a nuclear winter (late 70s – early 80s version). Calls for population limits, government energy rationing, and other checks on the western economies alternated with pleas to save the whales/rainforests/black-footed ferret, and to give a hoot and don’t pollute resounded, and Earth Day (also Lenin’s birthday) became “a thing.”

Then solar energy increased, the weather grew warmer for a while, and Global Warming!!!!!! became the crisis. The Greenhouse Effect was going to turn Earth into another Venus as CO2, methane, water vapor, CO2 and the ozone hole baked us to death. That CO2 lags behind oceanic warming because as the oceans warm, they release CO2 just like warm pop gets rid of its fizz was ignored. Research funds went towards proving Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW). And into this hot-house atmosphere came Dr. Michael Mann, then of UNC, later of the U of Pennsylvania, and Hansen of NOAA with a hockey-stick shaped graph demonstrating how global temperatures had abruptly started increasing around the time of the Industrial Revolution. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) picked up on Dr. Mann’s models and produced reports.

Except the climate shift shown in Dr. Mann’s research contained a few problems. I won’t go into them, in part because there is a lawsuit underway involving Dr. Mann, but among other things a number of people questioned the emphasis put on tree rings from a particular tree-ring sample from Yamal, Siberia. And the graph eliminated the Roman and Medieval Warm Periods, which were warmer than the modern warm period.

And to make things worse, the climate stopped warming in 1998. When “corrections” and urban heat island effects are removed, the global climate has actually begun cooling, in part due to declining solar radiation. The last sunspot cycle wasn’t, once you get down to cases. CO2 production globally has decreased (aside from China and India, and China has a whole lot of other environmental problems. Communism and environmentalism only go together in the West, not in the USSR or the PRC). We are likely in a cool phase that will extend into the 2030s and a little beyond, just as the US, UK, and Europe are cutting back on energy production and raising prices in order to “save the planet.”

And fluctuations in solar energy are not humanity’s fault.

The climate changes, it always has, for various reasons. It seems probable that a massive volcanic eruption in what is now the Sunda Strait ended the Roman Warm period. The sunspot lows of the Maunder and Dalton minima wreaked havoc on a global scale by causing crop losses, droughts, flooding and thus contributing a few elements to human political and social upheaval. Not that humans need an excuse to behave badly, but famine and pestilence exacerbate our tendency to mess with each other. Going even farther back, the Altithermal/ Atlantic Climate Phase that peaked roughly 7,000 years ago dried parts of the Great and High Plains out so much that even the buffalo headed off to greener pastures – literally – for decades and possibly even centuries.

If there is a lesson from all this it is: beware of science chasing political money. And be aware that the climate has changed since this planet first developed an atmosphere, and will continue changing until the Sun starts to die and burns off that atmosphere.


Shameless author plug – if you want to read something lighter, try my books at Amazon, B&N, and Kobo! And buy Sarah’s stuff, too. Lots of Sarah’s stuff.

Mrs. Sarah Hoyt Sings The Blues – Blast From The Past Post Feb. 2009

*Note from 2015 Sarah – I’m at Comicon in Denver this weekend.  If you’re in the area come and say hi or get something signed at the wordfire press table.

Also these books are for sale for 2.99, Death of a Musketeer till Monday, and Here Be Dragons till Friday.



And this is for free for the next four days:

the big shipcover

-Sarah Hoyt 2015 OUT*

Okay, not really.  And you should be glad, truly.  Instead I read my short story, Another George from my collection Crawling Between Heaven And Earth.

For those who’ve never heard me in person, the accent might drive you nuts.

This is an experimental thing.  I was testing the hardware.  Next I test the editing software.  And then, if there is still interest, I do more of these. :)

I hope you enjoy.

Also for those of you who haven’t been exposed to the sheer insanity of my oldest’s LJ, here is:

DO NOT have anything in mouth while reading.  The management is NOT responsible for spattered keyboards, monitors or self.

Getcher Hun Books Here – Free Range Oyster

Getcher Hun Books Here – Free Range Oyster

Books, getcher books here! Hello, beloved fellow figments of Sarah’s imagination! While our beloved Beautiful but Evil Space Princess and her entourage of Mad Addled Scientists are gallivanting about at conventions and bestowing the dubious terrifying illustrious grace of her presence on the attendees there, you can do some gallivanting of your own through the pleasures of a good book. And would you look at that? We have new books this week! So go read a new book, and may all you lovely phantasms enjoy your weekend.

As always, future entries can (and should!) be sent to my email. Happy reading!

Jason Dyck, AKA The Free Range Oyster

Purger of the Unclean, Purifier of Dross, and Broad Spectrum Disinfectant

Alma Boykin

Circuits and Crises

The Colplatschki Chronicles Book 6

Storm clouds build behind the Dividing Range, but only three men feel the storm wind starting to blow.

The Eastern Empire defeated the Turkowi at the Great Plate River, shattering them forever. Now Emperor Andrew turns his attention to more important matters—rediscovering the Landers’ lost secrets. But far to the south, trouble brews. For the Turkowi sense weakness, and the Rajtan sees a land ripe for conversion—or conquest.

When interest turns to obsession, empires fall.

Peter Grant

Forge a New Blade

The Laredo War Book 2

The Laredo Resistance fought the Bactrian invaders to a standstill, but shattered itself in the process.

Through battle, bloodshed and murder, Dave Carson became President of Laredo’s Government-in-Exile. Now he must dodge assassination attempts by his enemies while fighting the war on new fronts – with a little unorthodox help from Steve Maxwell of the Lancastrian Commonwealth Fleet.

Gloria Aldred, former head of the Resistance, has plans that run counter to everything Dave’s trying to achieve – and she’s not about to ask his permission to pursue them.

Satrap Rostam is trying to cut Bactria’s losses and rebuild his exhausted planet, but his generals and nobles have lots of guilty secrets to hide – and they don’t mind burying him right along with them if necessary.

They’re all looking for a critical advantage… until the forgotten survivors of Laredo’s Resistance surprise them all.

David L. Burkhead

Treva’s Children

Baroness Talisa leads the last few surviving members of her household through the mountains in the dead of winter, fleeing the changeling hordes that have destroyed the kingdom. In that world of white and gray she stumbles on an oasis of green: a garden sacred to Treva, goddess of the wild things of the world. There, Talisa encounters the mysterious guardian of the place, who possesses great and mysterious magical power and who claims Talisa’s life as forfeit for trespassing in Treva’s Garden.

Quick Post

There will be a BPF later, but I stayed up last night putting up the collection, Here Be Dragons, I have to do the Friday Book Plug intro for PJM and I have to pack because the Hoyts en masse are going to be at Denver Comicon this weekend.

If you’re there, come by the Wordfire press and say howdy.  We’ll be giving away free signed copies of the hardcover of Gentleman Takes A Chance, if you spend a certain amount (I think it’s $50) on books at the table (not just mine!)  There MIGHT be copies of others of my books as incentive, supposing I can find the boxes in the storage unit (this is not likely, but there’s a bare sliver of possibility.)

And if it’s not me you want to meet, but the author of Ninja Nun, say, or the outward repository of what remains of my sanity (my husband) I should be able to tell you where they are at any time.  No word yet, on whether they’ll let me write while at the table, but I’m sort of hoping so, as I have novels to finish.

I won’t post from the con over the weekend, because the tablet of pokitude won’t do that (though maybe the eee-pc will) but I’ll try to take pictures for the AAR.  I should be back mid afternoon Monday.

And here it should be taken as said that I’m putting up the Hun Sign (little helmet, horns, mustaches) asking for posts next week.  I have one from Alma, and I might have a couple more I forgot (if I did remind me, though be aware sometimes I skip “posts that will set the blog on fire” when I’m too busy to call the fire department.)  Bill Reader sent me one, then withdrew it, which is probably good?  I don’t know, he seems to think we’re all fire breathers, including me.

Anyway, I need guest posts because starting Tuesday, husband is taking the week off, and we’re having an all-hands-on-deck final push to get the house ready to go on the market.  Mostly because trying to write/edit/do almost everything over there by myself might literally be killing me.

We hope to get it all done, though we might need to call handymen for a couple of tasks if we can’t figure them out.  And then I’m going to sleep three days.  (Okay, sleep two days, hit the zoo and Pete’s one) and then I’m going to buckle down to a serious writing schedule, leaving the dusting/changing flowers/doing the lawn to the guys.  Because, yeah, I must finish the Dragon trilogy, which yes, you subscribers will get to read in its first draft typo-ridden glory.  I’m hoping Baen buys it, though.  It screams “Baen book.”  Of course, if it doesn’t go there, it will be indie.  But I want to give Baen a shot at it, because unlike the Magical Empires, I think it has a chance to go big.  (I love Witchfinder, mind, and Witch’s Daughter should be done this week [I know, it was supposed to be Monday, but the other house ate my weekend] but being the weird mix of regency romance and fantasy it is, I don’t think it has “widespread possibilities.”  It has done as well for me as my traditional books, but only because I get a bigger share of profits.  Not to say it couldn’t be a mega bestseller, but it would need major push, of the sort that houses don’t give unless you already have a track record.)

Dragons though… Dragons has potential.

By Dragons I mean To the Dragons, With the Dragons, For the Dragons, not Here be Dragons, which is a collection of all the short stories that have reverted (usually a year after publication) since the last collection (Wings) came out.  There will be another in a year, because since mid 13 I’ve written almost twenty stories.  (Blinks.)

Anyway, these are super packs of shorts and a bargain compared to the normal price individual or in fours (which I decided to stop doing — the fours or fives I mean.  Because they’re, well, not very practical.)


Also on sale yet/still is Death of a Musketeer (till Monday.)  Yeah, fussing with the cover again.  Yeah, not right, yet.  The problem is that there are so few historical mystery series that it’s hard to tell what the “pattern” should be.  I swear I’m just going to do some architecture or something…


At some point I need to get someone to update my frigging Goldport Press site, but that right now is relegated to “house is for sale and I have a day a week to do that sort of thing.”

Oh, and because I like you and you’re kind o’ cute, I put The Big Ship And The Wise Old Owl for free for the next five days.

Happy Memorial Day Weekend.

the big shipcover

You Might Be A Fan If… – Foxfier

You May Be A Fan If… -Foxfier

There’s been a bit of a to-do about who is a “real” fan, and someone pointed out an amusing contrast with the “real geek girl” to-do of a year or three ago– roughly, the sides are reversed. This got me to thinking (quake in fear!), and late last night I realized– this one is backwards. Fan isn’t something you disqualify from, it’s something you qualify for. The things that were put forward as necessary to be a fan were just sufficient, not mandatory. It’s qualifications for a sub-group of fandom.

The word means something, but it was like a very odd conversation I once saw where someone tried to disqualify a Star Wars fan from being a scifi fan, because ‘Wars is an example of a science fiction setting for fantasy. Swords, sorcery, lost prince… it actually works rather nicely. But being fantasy doesn’t mean it’s not also scifi, it just means it’s not that it is unlikely to be either hard or hyper-realistic scifi, which is another argument where a sub-group is being over applied. Look at comic books: you run a good chance of having scifi, fantasy and technothriller themes on the same team, much less the same time-space continuum. Heck, I’m enough of an X-Men fan that I was one of those upset when a mutant who negates mutation-based powers negated a magic helmet. Yes, I’ll give fans of the Star-Wars-Movies-Which-Did-NOT-HAPPEN!1!11!1 trouble, but it’s usually in fun. About the only time I’d be serious would be the same as with the archetype of the Twilight Invasion– great, you like one thing in a category; would you call yourself a fan of classical music because Flight of the Valkyries is awesome? Much less take that as standing to opine about who else is a fan? It’s not a thing to be proud of, although it should not be a shame- fan, geek, fill-in-the-blank nerd are all descriptions.

The “real geek” thing I personally saw more often used on hipsters or as pushback; shockingly, didn’t see a lot of guys complaining about pretty girls dressing like comic characters, but did see folks pushing back when folks tried to mainstream the geekdom they’d chosen, to the point that it didn’t have anything to do with what it originally was– rather than wanting to share part of it, some folks wanted to control it. People being people, I’m sure at least some folks mistook someone with a different fandom focus for not being a fan at all, especially in the aftermath of the infamous Twilight ComiCon Invasion(s) of six or seven years ago, and pushed ‘back’ when there was no initial push. I’ve run into that a few times myself when checking out new game shops, being closer to the archetype of a romance novel reader than of a gamer. Never really rudely, and usually it just amuses me– if I’m dressed in my “take me seriously, I’m a mom” outfits, how are they supposed to know I’m not a well-meaning ‘dane looking for a gift for a geek relative? It’s not like I have “former raid tank” written across my forehead, and approaching my sister like she’s a geek would probably scare her off, which is really bad for a game shop.

I know I’ve touched on this before with the somewhat related “hipster or real geek” question, but I still think it’s accurate– to be a fan is to love. To geek on a thing is to show your love so openly that it becomes an obvious vulnerability.

So, in the grand tradition of the Redneck jokes, here’s a start- can you add some?

You may be a fan if:

You have ever spent more time on plausibility fixes for a plot hole than the original author did.

You get annoyed by plotholes that make the the people who did an adaptation of one of your fandom targets get huffy about your over-thinking, and can explain a half-dozen different and very easy fixes.

You love the adaptation anyways.

You know more about the relationships of your favorite characters than the relationships of your co-workers and/or family members.

You carry a grudge for a change to a character that was made a decade ago.

You love an entire franchise because of a single Crowning Moment of Awesome that was a decade ago.

Your car, computer or router is named for a character or item in a book, or make a joke about it. Bonus points if you have customized your car to make the joke on its own.

Your ring-tone is from a game, movie or show.

You are asked by co-workers to set up their ring-tone for one from a game, movie or show.

Family and friends call you for “the name of that guy in the show you liked, you know, the one with the science-y thingie?”

….and you are able to give it to them.

You have ever had a “Who would win, Batman or” conversation.

You are now prepared to defend whichever side you take in those, to the pain.

You smiled even a little because of the Princess Bride allusion.

You have ever had to explain you were quoting the Princess Bride, and proceeded to bully the person asking into watching the movie.

You have ever been shocked that someone hasn’t tried a fandom you consider basic, and proceed to try to correct this with great enthusiasm.


Hopkins: In all my years, I never seen, heard, nor smelled an issue that was so dangerous it couldn’t be talked about. Hell Yes!! I’m for debating anything!! Rhode Island says Yea!” – 1776, the Musical

My life is a well written novel, with careful attention paid to the threading in of sub-plots and themes. Or perhaps my being human (shuddup. I checked.) I notice things in clumps that make sort of sense together. (Since whatever else the human brain does, every human brain is really good at discerning patterns.)

Kate’s post on Monday happily stomped into “forbidden territory,” i.e. the idea that human behavior might be shaped by heredity and that, in turn, by selection.

Although I disagree with her in the particular instance of the American population with more African ancestry being shaped in a certain way, she could be right. I mean, I think she didn’t take some factors into account and also that this population has more in common (genetically) with the white population here at the time than is acknowledged. (Not that I disagree both populations were affected by natural selection – duh – just the extent of it and how long it takes for such effects to be visible.)

But the important thing about this is that I don’t know, and neither does Kate. Why not? Because there are no large scale population studies, not even at the most rudimentary level.

This is almost astounding, given that we have the capacity to sequence the human genome and how many private individuals are paying for a report of their “deep ancestry”.

You’d think someone with a grant would already have waded in and there would be something like “x percentage of American people descended from African slaves also have significant/more than x percent genetic material from Northern Europe.”

If those exist, they’re buried so deep in geneticists journals that no peep has leaked into the popular science publications. And I have trouble imagining those wouldn’t hit the papers, either as evidence of the “rape” of African populations. (Wags hand. Debatable. Morally rape, perhaps, since there was a strong imbalance of power, but if we’re going to use that gage, then almost every human copulation is rape, since there’s never a perfect balance of power. And women are hypergamic, so they gravitate like magnets to the most powerful man around.) or as proof that ebony and ivory should live together in perfect harmony, or that it’s time to avenge past wrongs, or what have you.

Either the lack of such reports or their being buried deep would come from the same issue: race as a genetic factor, and not as a collection of physical characteristics; race, particularly as it might affect cognitive or genetic characteristics is a huge, horrible taboo.

Part of this is the fear of eugenics, the fear of the human brain assigning a value judgement to statistical racial characteristics.

At the same time, Marxist dialects requires that there be classes of people that struggle against each other, and modern Marxism has substituted races and some cultures for “classes” (the whole third world model of Marxist revolution which turns the people of the “underdeveloped” nations into the proletarians that so disappointed the Marxists.) You’re supposed to be interchangeable with anyone the same race and sex (sex as a class exists, of course. As everything else it’s a “construct” – a biologically illiterate perspective that denies science and also a contradiction that makes my head hurt) and stand in solidarity with them. (This is the basis of calling people race and gender traitors, because you’re enlisted into these neat little armies at birth. I really think progressives suffer from self-induced profound Aspergers. Kind of the opposite about how many people in the spectrum study to appear and be normal. They study on how not to understand human individuality and see only categories and ranks. Go figure.)

Imagine the disarray to this theory if you figured out that those neat races, regardless of expressed characteristics, are not anywhere near as uniform as you’d think. Some people might look like they belong to a race and have more genetics in common with someone of another apparent race. Horrors! Confusion! It would be the proving planned economies are inferior to free ones, all over again.

Anyway, so the same day that Kate broached this “forbidden” topic of genetics as they touch behavior, I happened to traipse onto a forum on a subject I’m marginally attached to (would you believe crochet?) and found a micro-cosmos of the battles in Gaming and Science fiction.

A more subdued micro cosmos, mind, in that someone had stated an “unacceptable to the left” opinion, and this was spreading in ripples through the community.

I don’t know anyone in the community, and the opinion was mild (that 19th century designs are superior to the modern ones) but the pattern of behavior was clear. (And if I could remember the fargin site, reached after searching for one particularly pattern of cherubs and birds which I lost two moves back, I’d link it.)

Someone had said something unacceptable and people who I presume are extreme left (since who else would bring up European “aggression” and “colonialism” in conjunction with filet crochet) were not only denouncing the person who said it, but also denouncing everyone who was INSUFFICIENTLY VITUPERATIVE while referring to this person.

It made me blink, and stare at it. I’ve seen it often enough, of course, and many times I agree that the ideas stated are incredibly repulsive. I always tend to have trouble denouncing the PERSON saying it though, and I often will say something like “Yeah, but the person is just bringing it up for discussion” and thus I end up getting lumped in with the “insufficiently vituperative.”

This of course happened with the blog that shall not be named and the misnamed organization (unless the initial S stands for Socialist-Fiction.) I can’t get anyone on the other side of politics to UNDERSTAND that there are no unacceptable thoughts, and there are no unacceptable words. There are unacceptable actions. But that’s something else. Words, no matter how horribly offensive are not in themselves a crime. (Also in that particular case, if you’re going to criminalize certain class of words you have to do it regardless of who says them. Or in that particular case, if you’re going to throw one of the sides of a stupid argument out, you throw out both of them.)

It’s very important to me that there be no word-crimes and no thought-crimes.

Before you say “but you block some people for saying certain things.” Why, yes. My blog is my living room, and the commenters are my guests. To allow certain discussion in this PRIVATE venue, owned by me, is to invite the sort of chaos and unpleasantness that will drive off decent and well behaved commenters whom I prefer to have around.

OTOH the things I ban people for aren’t things I think it should be illegal to say in public venues, or to promulgate in one’s own blog.

Look, it’s not that I don’t think there are ideas so horrible, so evil that my mind shies away from them. Say child-rape. I think it’s a horrible, atrocious idea which makes me cringe and which I frankly don’t want to listen to.

It was also a “respectable” psychological opinion in the seventies, in Europe at least. If you read psychological journals at the time (yeah, I was an odd kid) you’d come across the idea that having sex with adults was good for children.

The root of it wasn’t hard to find, either. If you were serious about the various bastardized versions of Freudianism and believed that most neurosis came about through sexual repression much of it pre-puberty, you’d believe that helping the children not be sexually frustrated was good for them.

In various ways, and sometimes painfully, we’ve since found this was very, very wrong and the results of such things horrific.

So, should the topic not be discussed at all and no studies ever done on it? No.

Part of the reason that this became an acceptable “scientific” theory was that sex has always been sort of taboo so no serious studies/literature had accrued to it, and so it was easy for the bastard children of Freud to tell just so stories about ‘sexual repression’ being the font of all ills.

As horrible, as evil as the topic is, I don’t think it should be shut down, particularly if it’s a topic of discussion, not endorsement. If it’s a topic of endorsement, provided the person endorsing it is not acting on it, it too is not a reason to shut the person down.

Yeah, it’s horrible. Yeah, it would offend me. Yeah, it might convert some soft custard-heads into thinking it’s a reasonable thing. BUT it gives the sane people a chance to counter it, and, more importantly, to sharpen ones arguments against it.

If it’s never discussed, then in a hundred years it will be all new again, and no one will have any ready arguments or examples against it.

To the extent that science fiction (as opposed to fantasy) serves a useful societal purpose (not, understand , that I believe literature has to be useful to be good. That’s a stupid Marxist concept. Literature has to be felt at a deep, resonating and universal level to be what I consider good, but it doesn’t have to “be good for society” or “the community” to be good. Mostly because, who the h*ll judges what is good) it is the examination of these, otherwise difficult topics in a construct that allows people to think of them as they would not be able to otherwise.

In science fiction you can examine such things as “would the involuntary sacrifice of some individuals be worth it if it bought happiness for all other people?” or “Would an alien species have the moral right to replace humans with something more acceptable?” or “Would it be acceptable to eliminate all males/females in the cause of universal peace?”

All of these ideas are or should be difficult and repulsive to many people, but all of them involve moral judgements that each generation needs to stay clear on.

Because when you stop talking about evil, it sneaks in in another way, wearing moustache and sunglasses. Our obsession with (great) evils of national socialism, for instance, allowed many to blind themselves to the equally great if different evils of international (which somehow always means Russian-national) socialism. Our horror of eugenics allows things like abortion which targets certain ethnic neighborhoods to fly under the radar.

I don’t think there is any circumstance under which child-rape would be considered good. Now maybe future humans will think this is my own cultural blindness. I’m fine with that. I don’t think there is any way to consider it good and would be deeply suspicious of any society that endorsed it.

But not barring discourse on it makes it possible for us to keep our thought on why it’s evil sharp and prevents that (imho terrible) child-rape-condoning civilization from arising.

It’s curious that the left thinks it should not only disapprove of but shut discussion on anything they disagree with. It’s curious that they suffer the totalitarian impulse to persecute people for “thought crimes.”

It is almost as though they believe their ideas are a fragile construction that will only survive so long as it doesn’t come in contact with opposing opinions or even with any evidence that reality might, in any way contradict them. And that they’re so hyper-sensitive to it that they wouldn’t allow even discussion of things in which they are probably right, as according to a vast swath of rational thinking people.

Because, you see, robust philosophies with broad contact with reality and how things work, encourage discussion which can only prove them right.

It is lies that are so frail the slightest breeze of dissent will blow them away.

As though they’d never been.