The Problem of Engagement — a guest post by Toni Weisskopf

*As you know, I’ve been worried about the direction of conventions, of fandom, of the… public face of our field. Those of you who are in the Baen Bar know Toni Weisskopf, publisher of Baen Books posted about it in her conference.  I thought her perspective on the field was important — particularly for me, who know next to nothing of the history of fandom — partly because it echoed my own views of where we stand and asked her if I could echo it here.  She has graciously given me permission to do so.  The raiding party post by David Pascoe will run tomorrow morning.*

The Problem of Engagement — by Toni Weisskopf

 

The latest fooforaws in the science fiction world have served to highlight the vast cultural divide we are seeing in the greater American culture. SF, as always, very much reflects that greater culture.

It is also nothing new. When fandom was first starting there was the “Great Exclusion Act” when a group of young, excitable, fanboys attempted to spread their political/fannish feud propaganda at the first Worldcon in New York, and were not only prevented from doing so but not allowed back into the con. All fandom was aflame with war! (The fact that this line is a cliché is also a clue that fandom is not, and never has been, a calm peaceful sea of agreement.)

The reason we have a fandom to disunite now, is because calmer heads prevailed. Bob Tucker in particular, with intelligence and humor, led fandom to the idea that it ought have nothing to do with greater world politics, but should concentrate on the thing we all loved, that being science fiction. (Mind you, his sympathies were with the ones who were excluded, but he was able to overcome his own political inclinations for the best of fandom.)

The fact that fandom as an open culture survived more than seventy years is a testament to the power of that simple, uniting concept. That we are once again looking to be rift by a political divide was perhaps inevitable. But as fandom has grown, expanded and diluted itself, we may have won the überculture wars and lost our heart.  We have not been able to transmit this central precept to new fans. Geeks are chic, but somehow we’ve let the fuggheads win.

And, from my observations, this is an inevitable consequence of the creation of any kind of fandom, from tattoos to swords to us. There is a thing people like. Thing people make initial contact with each other to discuss things and thingishness. At some point a woman (and it’s usually women, no matter what the thing) organizes gatherings, and thing fandom grows bigger and better. At some point, the people who care not about things, but merely about being a big fish in a small sea, squeeze out the thing people. Sometimes thing fandom just dies, sometimes it fissures and the process is recreated. So the fuggheads always win. The only question is how long can we delay their inevitable triumph?

SF fandom has managed to stave it off for a long time. Sadly, we no longer have a Bob Tucker. We don’t have one fan who is so widely respected and loved that his pointedly humorous yet calming voice can soothe the waters. Again, simply a reflection of the greater culture. When SF was aborning, radio and the pulps created huge mass audiences for entertainment. All of fandom read and were influenced by essentially the same small pool of creative endeavor. Now we have not only 300 hundred channels of cable (and nothing on), but the vast output of the Internet, both pro and amateur. It is possible to be a science fiction fan and have absolutely no point of connection with another fan these days.

For instance, a slur that has been cast at people who dare criticize the politically correct, self-appointed guardians of … everything, apparently, is that they read Heinlein. Well, Heinlein is one of the few points of reference those fans who read have. Of course we all read Heinlein and have an opinion about his work. How can you be a fan and not? The answer, of course, these days is that you can watch Game of Thrones and Star Wars and anime and never pick up a book. And there’s enough published material out there that it is entirely possible to have zero points of contact between members of that smaller subset of SF readers.

So the question arises—why bother to engage these people at all? They are not of us. They do not share our values, they do not share our culture.

And I’m not sure there is a good enough argument for engaging them. There is only the evidence of history, which is that science fiction thrives on interaction. Artists, readers, authors, editors, all united in discussing the things that are cool and wonderful, together. We share a belief that the future is worth engaging. It’s an on-going conversation, and it’s worked well that way. Take the example of Eric Flint’s Ring of Fire series. It started out as one novel, not especially envisioned to be the first of a series, an alternate history. The author asked for help researching some abstruse historical points, and did so on an on-line forum of readers. Fourteen years and sixteen novels and nine collections later (not even counting 40+ issues of the on-line professional magazine), a huge, intricate and rich SF world has been imagined and developed.

That process would not, could not, have occurred within any other genre. Yes, it took the brilliance and guidance of one person to set it in motion and shape it throughout, but it is the result of hundreds of people pulling together to explore and create on their own. Not as some side “fan fiction” endeavor, but as part of the—commercially viable—whole. And when I say “commercially viable” it is shorthand for: “lots of people like it and are willing to show this by paying money for it to continue.”

So the core of science fiction, its method, is still a valid way of creating the cultural artifacts we want. But is it necessary to engage those of differing political persuasions to get this method? I feel the answer is probably yes. You don’t get a conversation with only one opinion, you get a speech, lecture or soliloquy. All of which can be interesting, but not useful in the context of creating science fiction. But a conversation requires two way communication. If the person on the other side is not willing to a) listen and b) contribute to the greater whole, there is no point to the exercise.

And this, I think, leads to why the awards are important. They are a resource for continuation of culture. They are a reward for work that is approved of by the field, and a sign to those outside the field that this is what we, the insiders, think represents the best we can do. Awards become instant history. You make Wikipedia.

But awards lists only maintain their legitimacy so long as they in fact accurately reflect the field. So if a large part of the field feels that its interests are not being served–and they do–the award is compromised.

What to do? Fight to reestablish legitimacy? Establish a different awards list? I have long argued that winning the George Washington awards (every royalty period) is all the recognition needed—living well is the best revenge. And that is one reason Baen is publishing a “Best of Military and Adventure SF” reprint anthology next year—it’s a way to get more money into the hands of writers who write what we feel is the good stuff. It will in its way be a “juried” award with cash prize awarded by a small pool of experienced editors.

But are the popular awards worth fighting for? I’m not sure our side has ever really tried, though there are indications that previous attempts to rally readers of non-in-group books were thwarted in ways that were against the rules of the game. And yet, to quote Heinlein, “Certainly the game is rigged. Don’t let that stop you. If you don’t bet, you can’t win.”

I think the problem is that folks just really feel they have no possible conversation with the other side any more, that the battle for this part of the culture isn’t worth fighting. And I think again SF is mirroring the greater American culture. Our country is different because it, like science fiction fandom, was built around an idea—not geographic or linguistic accident, but an idea—we hold these truths to be self evident. And it is becoming more and more obvious that the two sides of American culture no longer share a frame of reference, no points of contact, no agreement on the meaning of the core ideas.

And yet, I can’t help but think that at some point, you have to fight or you will have lost the war. The fight itself is worth it, if only because honorable competition and conflict leads to creativity, without which we, science fiction, as a unique phenomenon, die.

 

1,012 responses to “The Problem of Engagement — a guest post by Toni Weisskopf

  1. When everyone left in fandom have managed to drive off and exclude everyone who thinks differently than them, what will they talk about?

    I can just picture them, sitting silent and angry in the hotel bar, when one of them finally intones, “Grrr, THOSE guys….” and the other says “Yeah.”

    Then nothing else.

    • It’s the heat death of the fandom universe.

      As I see it, we’ve hit a point where the ‘entitled snowflake’ generation, the one where every wish has been granted and every stone has been removed from their paths and every potential emotional boo-boo has been padded by policy, is running the asylum. They don’t know how to respectfully disagree because every time they’ve had to cope with disagreement in the past their tears were soothed by someone making the bad people go away. Life is an eternal fun time, with everything they want given to them with no effort on their part, with the addition of cookies and ice cream and certificates of participation.

      Their whim is law, and if you’re not willing to abide by it, they will shout at you until they get their way. That’s how life is SUPPOSED to be, darn it!

      Or, so they think. They do believe people MUST agree with their points of view, because THEIRS are the only right ones.

      Of course, reality laughs at such conceits. And that, I think, it what those who wish to turn fandom into their exclusive clique need badly – to be laughed at (because reason doesn’t work – you’re disagreeing with their points of view, which automatically makes you someone they’re not supposed to listen to) and told firmly ‘NO’, no matter how much they pout and weep and scream.

      • That’s what they’ve done with the SFF.NET politics conference. There’s about 1 moderate conservative left posting there. Although you’ll find numerous of liberals still posting. When I post they go ballistic on me and when I returned some of the bullets they banned me.

        • So they’ve carefully constructed their own consensual alternative reality?

          Looking at it – it’s clear they’re not going to allow anyone who doesn’t adhere to the groupthink to disturb their created world…

          • Oh, yes. I once dropped out of a newsgroup because the SF writer who presided over it sent me a chiding email about having twice brought up some facts. Sanctimoniously declaring that I had as good as called someone a liar.

            • Well, you had… right? ;)

            • Yeah… I’m noticing more and more the arguments aren’t about facts – after all, facts can be checked easily – but about feelings. And everyone’s entitled to how they ‘feel’ about a particular issue and all feelings are equally valid.

              Facts be damned, apparently…

            • Indeed — bringing up inconvenient facts can only be a personal insult. I had that happen when a French lady on Livejournal got mad at me for mentioning that the French Muslims committed crimes out of proportion to their numbers — she told me “No one can know that because we don’t keep statistics on crimes by race” (she meant “religion”) and furthermore that “what I said would be criminal in France.”

              Um, yeah. It’s still true, whether or not the French choose to close their eyes to it, or even punish those who point it out. Reality doesn’t go away no matter how loudly one complains about it.

            • Sanctimoniously declaring that I had as good as called someone a liar.

              If they had claimed something counter to the facts, you’d done better– you proved that they had said an untruth. (Can come about by lying, but also by being lied to. Lying does require knowing or willfully not knowing that you’re telling a falsehood.)

        • common tactic of the leftoid. See The Blog Not To Be Named, and all those other leftoid blogs, dissenting opinion is banned and blocked then deleted because no differing opinion is allowed. Oh, they’ll keep some so called “moderate” but then these same folks thought Joe Lieberman was too “right-wing” to hold office so what they call a “Moderate” many of us would call a Trotskyite shill. The fastest way to be banned is to use silly things, like Facts, and Results.

    • The problem is that a lot of them do not want to drive us off. They want to control us. Therefore, they will do it again, and again, and again.

      • The clear implication being that they will follow us wherever we go, cursing us all the way. Scary.

        • Of course – it’s for our own good ™ after all. How are you supposed to become a tolerant, accepting person without having the ideas properly beaten into you with a large club?

        • You don’t expect them to build up a con or stuff, do you? that’s work. Like all activists, they do not act, they opine about how others should act.

          • ummmm, Mary? My apologies, but you paint too broadly there. Some activists actually have brains in their skulls (OK, perhaps a conceit, but I are one…) Just like some pacificists fight, or actively support others who fight (thinking off top of my head about Quaker serving as medics, frex), when there is sufficient provocation.

            I have both written about and actively taught activism, as matters would have it. Activist activity occurs all across the spectrum. YMMV, OTOH, IMNSHO, and other-like expressions actively applied, of course.

            • The problem isn’t with the theory and application,, It’s with the fanatical adherent, who can’t/won’t think about the *why.* Think Quaker, and the radical anti-war activist. One wants a perfect world, and works to make it happen, while admitting _this_ world is far from it. The other, demands it be treated as if it is perfect.

          • “You don’t expect them to build up a con or stuff, do you?”

            When they try to, they get told “But if it’s not welcoming to us, you’ll fail! You need to change to accomodate us, and stop talking about politics!” or “You need to not have a harassment policy — you’ll be excluding fans” or any one of a number of complaints.

            And yet they do build cons. You don’t go to them, but they do happen. Same as all the other cons.

            (I suspect there are politically right-wing *focused* cons out there; I don’t know about them because I have no interest, but I suspect they’re out there.)

            So, Ms. Catelli, perhaps you should do some of the looking-at-facts so beloved of other people in this thread, before you draw with your very broad brush.

            • Perhaps you should read MORE carefully. No one said the left DOESN’T have cons. (Sheeesh.)

              • Actually, they tend to take over cons, then rebuild them in their own vision, because they like running things and telling people what to do. They’re all Community Organizers….

                And the takeover is nearly complete.

                • The Doers build it up, are pushed out by the Talkers, Bad Things Happen, it either fails or the Talkers throw a fit and leave– then the Doers take back over, repeat. It can take a long time to fail. My mom was pushed out of leader 4H, and that chugged along for nearly a decade with

                  Politics isn’t so much the dividing line as a sort of crazy sense of entitlement to control anything they’re part of, which is at this time overwhelmingly in one area.

            • When they try to, they get told “But if it’s not welcoming to us, you’ll fail! You need to change to accomodate us, and stop talking about politics!” or “You need to not have a harassment policy — you’ll be excluding fans” or any one of a number of complaints.

              People who are incapable of organizing a con in the face of complaints are incapable of organizing a con, period.

            • I wish someone would send us a better quality of trolls. I mean, Jesus.

              Look, S., if you *read* the article, you’d see it’s protesting *exclusion* and hoping for *inclusion*. So the notion of explicitly “right-wing” cons is more or less the opposite of what Toni has in mind.

              One problem is that the American discourse in the ‘teens suffers from a lack of vocabulary. The whole notion of “right-wing” has been corrupted, I think purposefully, to mean to many anything other than the corporatist union-owned happy-face fascism that is the current American Left.

        • This is precisely the problem. And this is why they must not be permitted entrance in the first place, no matter how helpful they are, no matter how well they promise to behave, and how ecumenical they promise to be.

          The rabbits behave right up until they think they are strong enough to take control. Then they drive all the not-rabbits out. And then they start devouring each other while some of them start looking for a new place to invade.

      • This is creepy close to something I’ve been thinking a lot, of late.

        If you start looking at the form responses take, it frequently is similar to any form of emotional manipulation. (Note, manipulation can be good or bad– I started noticing it because I was trying to figure out how to tell stories better, and for that you’ve got to inspire set reactions.)

        Even folks who I’m pretty sure aren’t trolls (am talking about someone, but it’s not a get-back-at-them thing and it wasn’t here)

        Maybe it’s a matter of thinking with your emotions instead of your head, but they sure seem to be trying to make people do things, instead of persuade them that it’s what they want to do. Like the folks who go looking for a (religious group) and then throw a fit when that group actually follows their religious tenets. It’s not that they couldn’t get what they wanted somewhere else, they wanted that person to behave as if they don’t disagree.

    • They’ll start eating their own — it’s already started, in fact.

      http://www.thenation.com/article/178140/feminisms-toxic-twitter-wars

      Robespierre, Trotsky, and Ernst Röhm know how this ends.

      • They’ve been eating their own since the Sixties, at least. Unlike the cases with the three you mention, this sort of viciousness can go on forever.

      • Yep. And Madame la Guillotine is always hungry.

        • The Great One himself has linked over here from Twitter, so be prepared for an influx of b-level fascists.

          Of course he’s never going to engage himself in a forum that he doesn’t control.

          Me, I’m laying in an ample supply of popcorn against the day his TwitMob turns on him. You know it’s only a matter of time, him being a Person of Pallid Penis and all.

          • It’s also quite amusing that the Empowered Systers of Glittery Hoo-Has apparently need a middle-aged white nebbish to tell them what to do.

          • Person of Pallid Penis

            My apologies, I must appropriate this phrase…

      • “I fear being cast suddenly as one of the ‘bad guys’ for being insufficiently radical, too nuanced or too forgiving, or for simply writing something whose offensive dimensions would be unknown to me at the time of publication,” – Katherine Cross

        I read the article, and all I can think is: welcome to the ‘conversation.’

  2. The unfortunate fact is that the surly, anti-social curmudgeons who actively create are being defined out of the picture by those whose focus is not creativity, per se, but governance; and who immediately take steps to rule out of order those unruly barbarians clamoring at the door for entrance.
    It happens in just about every endeavor.

    Ex. Motorola was created by a smart engineer, then ‘managed’ by accountants and bureaucrats until the company became a liability, and then re-taken by another engineering-minded person.

    Ex. Education is comprised of a few excellent teachers, many mediocre teachers, and bureaucrats that rise to thee top by ‘incentivizing’ the mediocre ones. “Those who can; do. Those who care; teach. Those who can’t; administrate.”

    Ex, The military used to be comprised of mid-level managers waiting their chance to progress. During armed conflicts, the deadwood at the top is removed because of their incompetence, and the young bucks are allowed to shine. Thus, it took a world war to elevate the likes of Eisenhower, Patton and Bradley. Fortunately the Army was commanded by George C. Marshall, one of the better leaders of the time. But lately the ‘managers’ are sticking around too long.

    Creative thinkers are busy creating, and thus have no time or inclination for the day-to-day trivia. Thus an opportunity is made and the vacuum is filled.

    I personally think we should follow the advice of Bernardo de la Paz and conscript the able but unwilling. They’ll be allowed an out after a term of service determined by the creative few.

    Sort of like tossing people out of the sled to the wolves – but there is progress for all that.

    • We got a pep talk here last week on why we still need a nuclear deterrent. I’m good with that so far as it goes. We do.

      The talk was given by a high-ranking military officer. It was pure Dale Carnegie. Entertaining as far as it went, but that still bothers me.

      • The whole idea of a nuclear deterrent is to convince the other side that you WILL use them. If they don’t believe you, you might as well give up as use them, because you’ve lost the upper hand.
        I once heard the Gold team captain of the USS Ohio (SSBM) explain this. When he was asked if he would actually launch, he gave a firm YES.

        • One of our speaker’s points was that our nuclear weapons are in constant use. Doing the job they were designed and built for.

          Look, it was a good talk. But the Dale Carnegie rah-rah approach still bothered me.

          • But are they? How many foreign leaders really believe that Obama would use them against them if necessary? If they don’t believe we will use them, then they aren’t doing the job the were built for. Which means they might have to do the job they were designed for.

            • China isn’t invading Japan, Russia isn’t invading any NATO members – and they’re being rather restrained in Ukraine. I’d say they’re still working. The simple fact is that Wiggleroom is just too unpredictable to risk nuclear armageddon.

            • Frankly, as much of a milquetoast as he is, the way he handles domestic policy may very well convince them that he’s unpredictable when it comes to big decisions like that.

            • Obama WOULD use them. A weak leader is more to be feared than a strong one.

  3. The other side makes incredible claims, stating that they don’t feel “safe” because a certain comedian is going to host the show. They claim that they want to end a default regarding gender, while simultaneously telling writers who disagree that they need to stop being gatekeepers.

    Engagement really does require one side talking and another side willing to listen, and I’ve quit trying to listen to the other side. I refuse to listen to a group that refuse to listen to me and treat me like I belong in a museum.

    There is a way to speak to me if you want me to listen. With a left leaning author asked people to ramp down the outrage, which would put them in a position of talking to me in just that way, they turned on him.

    The other side isn’t interested in dialog, they’re interested in domination.

    • It’s worse than that. I’ve had male SF writer friends — the nicest, kindest guys in the world — being told that people are afraid to attend conventions because they’ll be there.
      Note no one tells me that which is a) stupid b) apparently only creatures with penises scare them.

      THANK HEAVENS I’m Southern enough (Naturalized in NC, honey!) To say “Bless their little hearts.”

      • Blessed and then looking for the vampire equipment.

      • Oh, I can imagine. Now, I’ve had death threats directed at me. Nowhere near what Larry Correia gets, and some of these are teh WorldCon crowd. Yet, if Larry were to say he refused to attend WorldCon because he felt unsafe, the left would be howling about how Larry’s a wimp, even though there have been actual death threats against him.

        However, because some of us write fiction that has guns and men who act like freaking MEN in it, the glittery hoo haa brigade gets to scream about how they feel unsafe even though not a single one of us would lay a hand on any woman who didn’t literally ask for it…and then only if the guy in question is single and unattached…oh, and interested.

      • yeah I’ve been told I’m ‘scary’ or ‘creepy’ until people get to know me…

      • Christopher M. Chupik

        They’ll never be safe, I’m afraid, because the “danger” is coming from within themselves.

        • I have to admit, you struck me speechless. Congratulations.

          The people who fear being sexually harassed or assaulted, say, at conventions, because it already has happened to them, or happened to people they know — the “danger” is coming from inside them?

          Is that really what you meant to say?

          • Yes. It is. The people who fear being harassed or assaulted by people who never harassed or assaulted anyone are projecting so hard it hurts.
            Also, define “it’s already happened to them” — so if they were sexually assaulted, those people are in jail, right? Because it’s already a crime.
            STOP pretending your rules are going to stop what laws can’t.

            • Last I checked saying someone looked good in a bathing suit was not yet a jailable offense in most jurisdictions. So no those people aren’t already in jail, thus the need for the rules.

              • Telling someone that they are attractively dressed is not “sexual harassment.” In a world where it is, there would be no interaction between men and women, and a simple “Good morning” would eventually be determined to be harassment.

              • I meant for “sexual assault.”

              • That is not assault or harassment. Assault requires touch and harassment requires repeated actions.

              • Obviously I need to add a /sarc tag to that comment.

              • They’ve defined “sexual harassment” in such a ludicrously broad way that any comment made by a normal person can be defined as such. Or even not-a-comment — I once heard a feminist lawyer say that “undressing somebody with your eyes” should be actionable sexual harassment. She didn’t appreciate it when I suggested that Superman was in trouble, then.

                • I was once accused of “undressing” a woman with my eyes by the woman in question.

                  She got really pissed when I told her that I was, in fact, trying to figure out how they got that much whale blubber into a pant suit.

                  The conversation with HR afterward was quite entertaining, to say the least.

                  • It’s an issue for me — thank heavens I’m not a male — because I tend to look really intent while my mind is a million miles away, usually while trying to plot a novel.

                    • Honestly, that was what was happening with me. I had spaced out and she assumed I was doing something else.

                      In all fairness, my comment was overly harsh. I just didn’t like the arrogance that since I was looking intently in her direction, the only possible reason was to imagine her without clothing on. It’s not like she was all that in the first place.

                      So, I got snarkier than I needed. I was willing to apologize for that, but not until she realized that not every man wanted to see her naked…and, in fact, most men might not for various reasons.

                    • I do that, but my hindbrain always seems to move my eyes to the nearest display of cleavage while my forebrain is distracted..

                  • I try not to stare at women, because I’m afraid they will say something when it’s one of those times I’m trying to figure out how big a gag it would take to shut them up. :-)

                  • I said something similar to a woman who accused me of ‘undressing her with my eyes.’ Actually if I recall correctly it was something along the lines of, “Lady, you don’t have enough money to pay me to look at you nekkid.”

                    She didn’t appreciate it either, but I was in the grocery store (I think calculating dollars per ounce on something to see which size was the better buy) so it wasn’t like she was going to complain to my boss.

                    Ever notice it is never the swimsuit model types that accuse you of this? It is always the ones that look like an overweight Chinese pug that think you have nothing you would rather do than get them nekkid.

                    • You know, at my age and avoir du pois I think the only man undressing me with his eyes is my husband, but if I caught another man doing it, my answer would be “Why, bless you my child.”
                      Which was also my answer when the neighbor’s teen boys were peepingtoming into my bathroom window. (with binoculars, from their cottage) I threw it open and said, “Bless you, my children. It’s not every woman my age and looks who gets young men wanting to see her naked.”
                      Strangely… coff… they ran away and never did it again.

                    • And the dogs morning kicks off by being startled awake by laughter.

                      Be glad of the two of us, I’m the one with fingers.

                    • It does tend to be that way.

                      Honestly, if it was a swimsuit model complaining,I’d have probably at least owned up to it and secretly promised never to be so obvious about it again.

            • > Also, define “it’s already happened to them” — so if they were sexually assaulted, those people are in jail, right? Because it’s already a crime.

              I’m confused. It sounds to me like you’re saying that anyone who commits assault always goes to jail. But I know that’s not true. Not just because they aren’t always caught (which does happen) but also because they aren’t always prosecuted.

              • These days? In the US? Unless they’re not accused, guys do not really escape prosecution. If they’re not accused the other stuff won’t help.
                Look, most campus codes punish unless PROVEN INNOCENT and companies, etc, are going the same way. Adding more rules that are CLEARLY androphobic and violating men’s rights does what, precisely?

          • Christopher M. Chupik

            No, that’s what you’re trying to reframe my statement to say. There’s a difference.

          • Actual sexual harassment or assualt, as opposed to mere annoyance, is fairly rare at science fiction conventions. One is probably safer among fen than among any other highly-eccentric group of individuals.

            • Well, I didn’t do it till the boys were taller than I, but judging by how many SF/F writers let their kids run around at all hours and how we never heard of a kidnap/rape/molestation… I’d say you’re right.
              The annoyance factor is high, but that’s to be expected in highly eccentric groups.

        • /slow applause/ Brilliant. A glorious observation & useful lens to turn upon many things…. Thank you, sir!

          (And I am reading it as “projecting the products of a dark imagination onto others due to a warped and distorted perspective” at this moment. The nice thing about such simply stated truths are the way they catch life & color it.)

    • Exactly.

    • I’ve noted elsewhere that Marxists make me feel way more unsafe than fat jokes (and I’m a guy who’s been sitting behind a desk for the last several years).

      I mean, given that they’ve actually murdered a hundred million people.

      • We’ve made it so that anyone that marches in a black uniform and praises the fuhrerprinzip is relentlessly hounded out of society – and rightly so. But we should be doing the same for anyone flying a red flag, a hammer and sickle or other socialist symbol.

        • Yes. Including those godawful Che Guevara tee shirts.

        • mikeweatherford

          I disagree. I don’t want to hound anyone out of society. What I want to do, actually do, and will continue to do, is laugh at them. They have no concept of what they’re doing or saying, they have no concept what the organizations they praise are really like, and they have no concept of what life would be like in such a society. That doesn’t mean I won’t fight if I had to — I didn’t spend 26 years in the military to roll over and let the idiots win. It just means that their ideas or so ludicrous they deserve to be laughed at, every time they open their mouths and spout their drivel.

          • I think laughter is a great weapon for those whose activities are foolish but not directly harmful. It can be calibrated to the level of offense, so that great sarcasm is leveled only at the very deserving.
            Hounding-out (or at least suppression) may be needed for others who go beyond that line – i.e to active attacks upon life, property, reputation. Applies whether those attacks are focused upon an individual or diffused, as in attacking the viability of an organization multiple individuals depend upon for some part of their livelihood.

        • And given the number of people who have died due to corporate efforts, shall we also hound out anyone wearing a corporate logo?

          You seem to think, and I can understand why, given the deliberate efforts of propaganda in this country, to think that “socialism” is of the same level of extremity, and the same level of poison, as Naziism. The Swedes would be intrigued to hear that. Many workers in worker-owned co-operatives would be *fascinated* to hear how they’re supposed to be as bad as Nazis.

          (Which reminds me; if you want to draw your analogy a bit more accurately, I’d argue that a) you want to look at, say, Stalinists, and b) I will point out that never in this country have neo-Nazi activities (or proto-fascist, or, indeed, fascist) ones been criminalized *of themselves* — while Communist activities were. So perhaps you should consider this the next time you decide to throw around bad analogies.)

          • Oh you really are a precious little flower aren’t you. I’m curious, are you even aware of what Nazi STANDS FOR?

            Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei — National Socialist German Worker’s Party. They differed from the communists only in that they weren’t trying to destroy the ruling elite but co-opt them. In this they were far more successful than the Communists.

            In the game of destroying vast numbers of their own people Hitler was a piker compared to Stalin. 8 million total in the Holocaust, Stalin killed more like 40 million.

            But never let the facts stand in the way of your narrative neh?

            As to your previous comment about right-wing cons and sexual assault. I invite you to come to Libertycon. It’s right-wing in that it’s Baen heavy. But let me tell you something, pwecious fwower. If you were to go to ANY ‘Fly and tell them you’d been assaulted, and had proof, the perp would be begging the police to take them away.

            That’s what evil right wingers thing about sex assault. But again, facts, narrative. I also have yet to see you explain how rules can prevent what laws cannot. No one is suggesting that sexual harassment (the real thing, not just “I don’t like the creepy guy saying hi to me) or sexual assault are minor issues, what we are saying is that they’re overblown issues.

            There. is. no. rape. culture.

          • And given the number of people who have died due to corporate efforts, shall we also hound out anyone wearing a corporate logo?

            Show your work. Evidence, please. And proof that goes beyond “Because I said so, that’s why.” Be specific: which people, and which corporation, and how did that corporation’s efforts cause (or meaningfully contribute to) their death? Note that “meaningfully contribute” does not include, say, the argument “He ate at McDonald’s every day, and died of a heart attack, therefore his heart attack is McDonald’s fault.” See the documentary Fat Head for evidence that one can, indeed, eat a healthy diet at McDonald’s. Shuffling responsibility for an individual’s personal choices off onto corporations will not be accepted as evidence. (I mention this because I think that’s where you’re intending to go with this argument, and it’s baloney. For reasons amply demonstrated in Fat Head, so I won’t repeat them here.)

          • Your demonstration of your utter ignorance of history would be hilarious were it not the perfect example of my point.

          • Minor difference between a worker owned corporation (which I guess unlike those other evil corporate efforts that kill more than communism and socialism, is okay?) like Harley Davidson and a socialist government like, oh say, Nazi Germany.

            Of course if you can’t figure out the difference between a ruling government and place you voluntarily go to work five days a week, well that explains why the rest of your argument is so incoherent.

            • Calling Nazi Germany “Socialist” is like calling the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea a democratic society.

              I have been to the National Socialism Documentation Center in Cologne, and the historical exhibit there is very clear about how it was conservative elements in German society that supported the Nazis rise to power while it was the socialists who opposed them and who were oppressed by the Nazis after they came to power. It is a ridiculous and deceitful semantic game to equate socialism with fascism.

              • Alex, you’re exactly right — we should believe the dressed up history, not what they called themselves. (Rolls eyes.)
                There is ONE difference between national socialism and socialism — the national. That’s it. Yes, their approach to state controlled economy is different. But it’s still state controlled.
                As for “conservative” elements in Germany… Take a powder, will you? DO YOU THINK “conservative” in Europe is the same as in the States? If you do you just lost the right to talk about anything outside the US. I grew up in Europe. Their conservatives are soft socialists to hard socialists, closer to the elites of the democratic party here, with a strong dash of either religion or class elements. NOTHING to do with the “don’t thread on me” elements in the US.
                Now that we’re done comparing apples to cuckoo clocks can we talk sense?
                The Nazis called themselves socialists, because they were. And the complete insanity of telling me that the socialists opposed them is proven by the fact that communist party members could cross over with equivalent rank UNTIL Stalin and Hitler stopped being besties.
                Oh, and don’t play semantic games with communism and socialism, either. I learned from communists AND socialists. Socialism is “a system on the way to communism, the perfect society.” Said so in my 11th grade social sciences book.
                I swear American leftists are the most gullible people in the world. Keep petting that wolf. It will eat you last.

                • The defining quality of Naziism was nationalism, and the defining characteristic of fascism generally is the identification of enemies of the state, internal and external, to justify assaults on liberty. It’s the same kind of rhetoric that put America into Iraq. A lot of those newspaper clippings from Germany in the 1930s sounded very similar to what one hears on Fox News today.

                  Socialism is simply democratic control of some kinds of enterprise. It’s public education, law enforcement, fire control, currency, consumer protection, roads, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the health care systems of most modern democracies. Socialism isn’t communism (which is the elimination of private ownership), communism isn’t Marxism (political revolution to take control of the state), Marxism isn’t Leninism (using violence and propaganda to support a one-party regime), and Leninism isn’t Stalinism or Maoism (variations of class-based genocide). The Founding Fathers were socialist; considering the state as an enterprise under the democratic control of the citizenry is fundamental to modern democracies, including the United States. Democracies can vote on issues involving the assets of the commons, market failures, or public priorities that aren’t being addressed adequately by the private sector. Equating “socialism” with the excesses of Stalin is a ridiculous semantic misstatement that just scares gullible people into supporting corporate control and right-wing tyranny.

                  • If you accept that Joseph Stalin has the right to define Nazism, true. If not — not.

                    Oddly enough, around here, we do not think that Stalin has such rights.

                    • But he does, because — STALIN.
                      BTW, Eric Flint thinks Hitler was capitalist and Stalin “socialist” — do we arrogate to EF the right to define socialism? No? Why not? He’s killed fewer people than Stalin. He’s still wrong about Hitler who had as much in common with a Capitalist as I have with Queen Elizabeth.

                    • I can’t believe I missed this comment (well actually with around 900 of them I can) you have everything important in common with Queen Elizabeth. Just ask a feminist, you wimmenz needs to stick together.

                    • I kinda like her majesty, she’s a tough old…bird.

                      *big grin, thinking of a story about how the queen dealt with a to-do about her being a responsible hunter*

                  • Wow, you’re taking that oddly broad definition of socialism (a political system) which conflates it with cooperative activities (not necessarily political), which I’ve seen before. I blame the sociologists.

                    I also find interesting this “defining quality” argument. From this I can pick whichever ‘defining quality’ is most helpful in demonizing those who disagree with me and apply it liberally (hm, did I…?) Thus, America – Iraq – Nazis. Handy, that.

                    And the Founding Fathers were socialists? Okay. You go with that.

                    • I was going to stop there, but I went back and read through the comment again, and there’s just so many delicious tidbits of ‘huh?’ in it.

                      These fine distinctions between socialism, Marxism, Communism, Leninism, Stalinism, and Maoism. Those are fun. What’s the underlying philosophy that ties all those little shades of murder together, I wonder?

                      Democracies can vote on issues involving the assets of the commons, market failures, or public priorities that aren’t being addressed adequately by the private sector.

                      This one is interesting because there are elements of reality wrapped up in the assumptions. But…still problematic. Because the philosophical foundations lie in the wrong place, and the whole structure is tottering.

                      Let’s poke at some and see what happens:
                      What are assets of the commons? Where did they come from? How did they get to be assets of the commons? What are the justifications for making some assets common and where are the limitations on making other assets common?

                      What is a democratic vote going to do about a market failure? Why would a random mass of people casting a (political) vote be an effective solution to market failure? What alternative philosophy (involving that same random mass of people) exists to correct for market failures?

                      What are public priorities? Who sets them? Why are they being addressed by the private sector if they’re public concerns? How are random groups of people (each of whom has their own priorities) going to address this?

                      What is a republic? How does it differ from a democracy? Why does that matter?

                      Please note, I’m not arguing that any of this is not legitimately the concern of a government. Because I’m not an anarchist. I am arguing that the philosophy that underlies how we go about various solutions is profoundly important. And dismissing that philosophy while tossing out “democracy!” and “Founding Fathers/Socialists!” cools my blood a bit.

                    • What is a “market failure”? What happens if you don’t vote to correct it? What happens if you vote to correct it and the correction is wrong because your learning is wrong? What happens to the market then? Answer — the market self-corrects. IT ALWAYS self corrects, it just might have the additional hurdle of working around political crap, and it might be kept in semi-illness by the political crap. See, FDR prolonging the recession and creating the depression with his half baked ideas.
                      If the market will take its own way and route around damage, then what is it politically acceptable to do in “failure” however defined? Why? Is it merely a vehicle for power by technocrats and bureaucrats?
                      Yeah — I didn’t answer all of his comment because it’s a frothy mixture of crazy and fail. Not unusual. He probably learned this crap in college and has not once tried to work it out for himself, with non-cherry-picked examples from history. He’s happy to believe because, see where the barking noises of socialism are an upper class status symbol badge. He’s just upwardly mobile, is Alex.
                      To make him examine his premises and realize how badly he’s gone astray, besides facts one would need a willingness to re-examine them, which if accomplished would put him on the outs with the group he wishes to belong to. A thankless task and a futile one. That pig won’t sing. This is how I’ve come up with “make duck noises and faces at them, and answer them with gifs.” The only way to invalidate a “class” badge is to show it for the ridiculous thing it is.

                    • The bothersome bit, for me, is that so many well-meaning and generous people who’ve soaked in this misguided mess of foundationless* philosophy then blithely go on to “fight the good fight” against us heartless others.

                      They believe they’re doing good works, and contributing to greater works, and helping their fellows.

                      That, and the shifting landscape of definitions that comes up with “defining characteristic” and morphs cooperative behaviors (the foundation of civilization) into ‘socialism.’ Now I’m against cooperation… 8-\

                      Blech.

                      *The mess so many modern Americans roll off their tongue about socialism and communism (and Stalinism, Leninism and Maoism, apparently) is foundationless. The actual political systems and those who wish to use them to achieve power have foundations. And they look remarkably like bone.

                    • And this is why “useful idiots” is a thing.

                      bone and blood and rotting flesh

                    • Yep.

                      X2.

                    • The assets of the commons include natural assets like clean air, clean water, electromagnetic spectrum, as well as assets constructed by society like (most) roads and schools.

                      The state can regulate markets through regulation. There are plenty of examples where monopolies or oligopolies gain unreasonable power to restrict consumers’ economic choices. From anti-trust legislation to food safety to the basic continuity of the financial system, there are plenty of situations where individual consumers can’t affect the market, so the state is empowered by the people to protect the interests of everyone.

                      Public priorities are obviously decided through the democratic process. Free societies are, pretty much by definition, democratic societies, where a certain amount of compromise and social contract is required for the society to be able to function and to provide the infrastructure that allows people to make free choices about their lives.

                    • What happens to those assets when you designate them part of the commons? Everybody pisses in them, because nobody owns them, and cleanup ain’t my problem. I can point you to several examples of this tragedy in the Middle East. And Europe, come to think of it. I could point you to several here in the States, but examples in the States are typically treated as uniquely American failures.

                      Roads and schools are not assets of the commons, they’re (most often) owned by the State. Try using them without permission, the lesson will be illuminating.

                      Market regulation…we don’t have room to discuss market regulation, cronyism, stifling effects, hubris…

                      Public priorities are decided by the democratic process? So the majority gets to set the priorities? And the rest can get with the program? Sounds lovely. How’s about I set my own priorities, hm?

                      By the by, democracy is not equal to freedom. In fact, in the absence of restraint, democracy devolves to its own tyranny.

                      These are fluff concepts you’re tossing out. Feel good ideas without concrete basis in political theory, reality or humanity. There are profound problems with the philosophy, and you ought examine the effects of the things you advocate.

                    • “The state can regulate markets through regulation. There are plenty of examples where monopolies or oligopolies gain unreasonable power to restrict consumers’ economic choices.”

                      Name one that wasn’t aided by the state.

                    • All of them were SINCE ROME.

                  • Oh for the love of crying babies. No, the defining point of fascism was NOT nationalism. This was the nonsense put on it after WWII when people decided that nationalism was evil and not that excessive state power was evil because that would cut down the opportunities for graft and payolla.
                    Look, son, you’re American born and bred. You don’t know bupkis. The internationalist happy face of communism? BULLSHIT. It was always about USSR hegemony. Or Chinese hegemony.
                    That workers of the world bullshit? BULLSHIT. Look at the places where they actually get in power. They become at best family farms, at worst bureaucratic feudal states. NO “socialist” country buys into the international crap. Only your sweet, misguided, useful-idiot group. Out there in the real world, EVERY COUNTRY IS NATIONALIST. No socialist worth his salt in the US buys into the worker bullshit, either. making socialist-bark-noises has become an identifying mark of upper class technocrats and a necessity for entering any ivy-league.
                    Only you misguided duckies mistake the wrapping for the gift again, and the map for the territory.
                    As for hate groups — ALL socialist states end up designating/killing/denigrating hate groups. The only thing the Nazis were original in was that a couple of the groups were ethnic. They weren’t alone in that. The USSR carried out holomodor mostly against mostly Ukranians and from what I hear being a Jew or any ethnic minority in the US was not exactly a pinic.
                    EVERY controlling top-down state designates hate groups. Have you ever read 1984? Keeping the masses divided is the only way for a large (mostly bumbling. Get them large enough and they’re all bumbling. So are massive corporations) state to keep power. And inciting hate of first this group then the other is the way they do it.
                    You’re seeing distinctions where none exist. I recommend considering “By their fruits, thou shall know them.”

                    • One notes the Southern Law Poverty Center is an actual hate group, whose rhetoric we know has inspired at least one violent attack — yet they have the nerve to label those who differ from them hate groups.

                    • Every country isn’t nationalist, not that countries have unitary cultures. Most of Europe has moved away from nationalism. Europeans have seen the consequences of nationalism and it doesn’t appeal to a lot of people. The idea that one’s nation is better than others, that national unity enforced by violence, that’s an idea that is not popular in places that saw two World Wars up close. There are still nationalist elements in many countries today, but fortunately they’re not in charge in most places, though many conservative parties include and pander to such elements.

                      Most European societies, most democratic societies, are socialist, have been for decades; outside the US, most mainstream conservative parties have no intention of dismantling the basic social infrastructure of their societies. The US has plenty of socialist features.The history of civilization is the history of people working together for mutual benefit, and some of that involves government ownership and control of certain economic enterprises and activities.

                      The problem with equating fascism with socialism is that it opens the door to fascism that comes in with anti-socialist rhetoric. The Nazis were an anti-socialist party, they came to power campaigning against the dangers of communism, and they certainly had the support of most economic and social conservatives in Germany at the time. Fascism, giving the state a blank check to commit violence in the name of the supremacy and honor of the nation, is a real threat and it doesn’t come from the left.

                      Anyway I’m not going to stay on this topic here. I only came to respond to Toni, saying there are plenty of conventions where differences of opinion, perspective, and politics are welcome, and many of us make an effort to keep the doors of fandom open, even to people we happen to disagree with on one point or another.

                    • I must say, you have a real resistance to learning from people with real-world experience. Sarah tried to explain to you that she was TAUGHT SOCIALISM IN SCHOOL.

                      Note that I did NOT say, “Taught about Socialism.” Taught Socialism. As a class similar to the Civics classes we used to have in this country. And her EXPERIENCE contradicts what you apparently “learned” in whatever school you went to.

                      Plus, “European countries aren’t Nationalist”? You really have been fed a bunch of crap. If they weren’t Nationalist, they wouldn’t look down their noses at everyone else. And don’t try to tell me they don’t. Any traveler who does not stick to the “We like Americans because they bring lots of money” areas finds this out in short order.

                    • Or any that understands the native language and hears what they’re saying, while they’re smiling and saying nice things in English.
                      The ELITE in Europe is likely to say “we don’t trust nationalism” — they might even believe it. Except when the chips are down it’s “us against those damn furiners.” ALWAYS.

                    • Have you actually been to Europe? Do you really believe they’ve abandoned nationalism?

                      I have been to several countries in Europe, additionally I’ve worked with nationalities (word choice matters) from across the globe. Nationalism is not dead, in my experience.

                      You might ask the Ukrainians how they feel about post-nationalism.

                      I don’t define nationalism as an inherent negative by the way. I think “ra-ra we is great is rude, not wrong.

                    • No. Blaming WWII on “nationalism” — WWI, too — was Europe’s way of exonerating STATISM which is the real culprit.

                    • It’s all of a piece with the Europhile’s obsession with how ‘Europe’ has “moved beyond” whatever the current complaint is.

                      Using ‘Europe’ as more than a geographic designation is a ridiculous conceit and groundless assumption. Europe is packed edge to edge with countries, nations if you’ll pardon the phrase. Why don’t people see that?

                      I mean, Portugal’s in Europe, right? They didn’t move it when I wasn’t looking, did they? So, Portuguese born and raised might have some insight…

                      Anyroad, I’ve had my fun, I’m going to go be productive or something.

                    • Nationalism is not “the idea that one’s nation is better than others”, and “national unity enforced by violence” is completely beside the point. Nationalism is the recognition that your country is, in fact, your country; and that moral consequences derive from this fact. “My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.”

                      And yes, to its discredit, Western Europe has derided and discounted nationalism—with what result? The Oxford Oath may not have influenced the course of history, but the attitude behind it led to WWII being far bloodier than it need have been.

                      And after WWII? Those Europeans you look up to were defended for the next half-century by those who didn’t lose the ideal of nationalism: misfits from among their own, but mostly American boys, send because a USSR that had absorbed the industry and population of France and West Germany would be that much more tempted to aim for the US (and yes, Alex, Canada too), and would be that much more capable of doing so. So American soldiers waited there, ready to “stand between their loved home and the war’s desolation.”

                      Opposition to nationalism is a dishonest philosophy: only possible because others, for reasons of patriotism, stand ready to defend even your life & liberty.

                    • And it’s not even true. No, seriously. Anti-nationalism is taught in school in Europe, but in fact, when the chips are down, Europeans are INTENSELY tribal. Even as an exchange student, I was one of the odd ones — or perhaps I identified my tribe oddly — because mostly kids from a nation aggregated to the “most similar” in sometimes startling lines. If there was only a kid from a nation, first they would associate with that nation’s colonies or ex colonies, then with similarly related language groups and old allies/enemies. Say you had French kid, without other French kids. He’d be friends first with Canadians, then Algerian kids, or kids from the French Caribbean. If there was none/too few of those, then it was Belgians. If none of those, Germans. These cultural ties might not seem like nationalism, but they are. In the end, they’re “the way the cookie crumbles” or the world unity. And in the end, nations will fight for themselves and then their natural allies. And you’re right, this is not even necessarily a bad thing. The lie that the only nationalists are the Americans, OTOH, IS bad.

                    • Alex wrote: “The problem with equating fascism with socialism is that it opens the door to fascism that comes in with anti-socialist rhetoric. The Nazis were an anti-socialist party, they came to power campaigning against the dangers of communism, and they certainly had the support of most economic and social conservatives in Germany at the time. Fascism, giving the state a blank check to commit violence in the name of the supremacy and honor of the nation, is a real threat and it doesn’t come from the left.”

                      Horse manure. First of all, ‘Fascism’ and ‘National Socialism’ were not identical ideologies. Second, ‘Fascism’ and ‘National Socialism’ were non-marxian variations of socialism. The propaganda invented by Marxists of denying that anything but pure Marxist-Leninist was socialism was always a fraud. Third, “most economic and social conservatives in Germany” is more nonsense on stilts as you misuse ‘conservative’. The forces in competition in Weimar Germany were mostly different variations of socialist movements.

                      And the idea that it is only Fascism/National Socialism that gave the state a “blank check” to commit violence is the most horrifically warped sense of history that I can imagine. It is the height of utter dishonesty of the kind we see the most from Marxist democide apologists.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      Sarah, when you said “The USSR carried out holomodor mostly against mostly Ukranians and from what I hear being a Jew or any ethnic minority in the US was not exactly a pinic.”, did you mean the US or the USSR?

                      As for looking for “Groups To Hate”, the US Left/Liberals just love to hate Conservatives, the Religious Right, the Tea Party movement, etc.

                    • Lordy, whatever you’re smoking is gooood stuff.

                      “Every country isn’t nationalist, not that countries have unitary cultures. Most of Europe has moved away from nationalism. Europeans have seen the consequences of nationalism and it doesn’t appeal to a lot of people. The idea that one’s nation is better than others, that national unity enforced by violence, that’s an idea that is not popular in places that saw two World Wars up close. There are still nationalist elements in many countries today, but fortunately they’re not in charge in most places, though many conservative parties include and pander to such elements.”

                      What hole did you just crawl out of that you believe Europeans aren’t nationlist? Europeans are WAY more nationalist than Americans

                      “Most European societies, most democratic societies, are socialist, have been for decades; outside the US, most mainstream conservative parties have no intention of dismantling the basic social infrastructure of their societies. ”

                      OK, you got something right. Although I would say ALL European societies are socialist. Now I don’t know enough about all the ‘mainstream’ (who is defining mainstream in these examples, anyways?) conservative parties outside the US to say if any of them have any intention of dismantling basic social infrastructure. What is basic social infrastructure, anyways? But by definition ‘conservatives’ of any country want to keep the country the way it was designed to be, therefore conservatives in a socialist country will be socialist, conservatives in a communist country that is sliding towards anarchy will be communist, and conservatives in a constitutional republic (like the US, which is NOT a democracy) will be constitutionalist republicans. Now tell me what the difference is between US conservatives and European conservatives? How about the difference between French conservatives and Ukranian conservatives? Or maybe it would be easier to list their similarities? That would be a pretty short list.

                  • I don’t know where you are getting your definitions of what these different “isms” are, but they have little to do with their application in the real world. Perhaps it is time for you to quit thinking you know all the answers and preaching those answers to people who have lived in countries under socialist and communist and maoist rule and actually ask them what life in those countries was like. Of course, I doubt you’d be willing to because then you might just have to rethink your own biases about “corporate control and right-wing tyranny”.

                    • I vaguely remember something in high school about nationalism being the defining trait of the fascists, but I don’t remember much beyond that– it was after a bit of a blow-up where the teacher claimed everyone who’d been drafted for Nam was either insane or hated the gov’t– and when I said it at home, it was pointed out that almost all of my male relatives of that age were drafted, and the only crazy one is also the one who hates the gov’t and was crazy long before he graduated, let alone was drafted.

                  • Lord you really are an idiot aren’t you.

                    Socialism is simply democratic control of some kinds of enterprise.

                    No, it really fucking isn’t. It’s state control of some kinds of enterprise which, if unchecked ends in state control of all enterprises.

                    Let me explain something to you moron, the defining quality of socialism is state control of the economy. Which then extends downward into state control of everything, because EVERY HUMAN ACTIVITY IS AT BOTTOM AN ECONOMIC ACTIVITY. Idiot. Then, someone has to tell you what you can and can’t do. Fuckwit. Since humans are not very good at being told what they can and can’t do with their own money, that eventually means force must be used to require them to do what the state tells them to do. Cretin. Government, is, by definition, using force or the threat of force to compel people to do things they’d rather not — like pay taxes.

                    In a socialist system that threat of force, of violence, may be more or less evident but it still exists. Jackass. In modern Sweden, as in much of Europe, it may be hidden behind a velvet glove, but it exists just as it did in explicitly socialist Nazi Germany. I repeat, the only real difference between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia was in which set of ruling elites was in charge.

                    The Krauts tried to play the anti-communist card to look less threatening, but they were just as socialist as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

                    • Pardon me, sir, your subtlety is showing.

                    • Actually, the Nazis were anti-Communist for the same reason that Ford is anti-Toyota and anti-GM and anti-every other car and truck company.

                      And it’s not because they’re anti-car and anti-truck; it’s because they want their brand to win against all the other similar brands of the same thing.

                  • You know, that is possibly the stupidest collection of misinformed definitions I have ever seen in one post. You are to be congratulated, sir.

                    But also pitied, belittled, and derided, so don’t get a swelled head.

                  • “The defining quality of Naziism was nationalism, and the defining characteristic of fascism generally is the identification of enemies of the state, internal and external, to justify assaults on liberty. It’s the same kind of rhetoric that put America into Iraq.”

                    Oh goody, I just figured out why people like you think we’re all Nazis, it’s because we’re patriotic, and only Nazis are patriotic.

                    By the way since you gave your own wacked definition of every type of government, including breaking communism down into half a dozen different types, and claiming the founding fathers were socialist (one or two leaned slightly that way, as in about as far as Bush II) care to explain why the only type of government you didn’t define is the one that we are? You know a Republic?

                  • Alex, first of all, the comparison between fascism/Naziism and the Iraq adventure is just silly. I certainly agree that the Iraq war was misguided, but Nazis waged war for the stated and deliberate purpose of taking more territory. And in so doing, they dehumanized their enemies, whom they consider to be an inferior subspecies. The United States never intended to annex Iraq or even steal its oil (that would have been too rational). And, if anything, Bush and his advisers bent over backwards to insist that Iraqis were “just like us.” Hence the failure to turn Iraq into Sweden in a week.

                    As for the claim that the Found Fathers were socialists, you are defining “socialism” so broadly as to include pretty much anything other than anarcho-capitalism. In so doing, you rob the word of any meaning. Or, rather, you seek to define it broadly because the socialist enterprise has been broadly discredited.

                    As for “corporate control and right wing tyranny” that’s socialism too! At least by your definition. More to the point, soft leftists like Obama talk a good game about opposing evil corporations, but the rules they end up enacting always seem to benefit entrenched economic interests and the politically well-connected.

                    • A certain segment of the political population tends to take a very Humpty Dumpty approach to word meaning. In particular they’ll look at anything they want to call “good” and decide that’s part of their favored ideology. Anything they think is “bad” well, obviously that’s an integral part of the main opposition’s ideology.

                      This often leads to circular definitions.

                      Example (summary of a “conversation” I actually had.)
                      SS*: “Racism is a conservative trait.”
                      Me: “What about the KKK. That was a group organized by Democrats.”
                      SS: “Maybe, but they were conservative then.”**
                      Me: “In what way were they conservative?”
                      SS: “Why they were racist, of course.”
                      Me: *Facepalm*

                      * SS = Special Snowflake
                      ** Reminds me of the “the parties switched” argument I see so often. Okay, let’s go with that claim that the parties switched sometime in the late 60’s. Can’t be earlier because arch-racist George Wallace was a Democrat before branching off for the ’68 election. So that means that the Republicans get to claim Kennedy and Truman, and the Democrats have to take Vice President Nixon. ;) (Yes, I know, but “conventional wisdom” among the SS’s is what I’m working with here.) Usually makes their heads explode.

                • Nazi propaganda presented rank-and-file Communists as potential Nazis. The Poisonous Mushroom has a Hitler Youth group instructed in the horrors of Communism by an ex-Communist. Hans Westmar‘s last shot is of a Communist character giving a Nazi parade the Nazi salute. An account of a political rally turned brawl ends with a Communist fighter — one of the last ones to be stopped — tearing up his card and joining the Nazis instead.

              • Look, son, you may think you can peddle that here, but the Nazionalsozialistenpartei was quite explicitly socialist. You’re also confused about what “conservative” meant and who socialists versus communists were in Germany in the 30’s. Und wenn Du dieses nicht glaubst’ liest Du die 25-Punkte Programm. http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/25-Punkte-Programm

              • Alex, you might be right in saying that “Conservatives” supported the NAZIs, but you neglected the little fact that “Conservative” in Weimar Germany meant the Bismarkian statists, not anything like what we consider “Conservative” today. Many Progressive ideas came from those “Conservative” Germans. Much to our sorrow.

              • “the historical exhibit there is very clear about how it was conservative elements in German society that supported the Nazis rise to power”

                What an utterly unbiased source! It’s like an angel came down from Heaven with the true history inscribed on a scroll!

                One notes that it was the conservative elements in Germany society that staged that assassination attempt. The really conservative ones: the Junkers. Nearly half the officers, and nearly half the enlisted men, involved were of noble blood. And the blood shame of the Holocaust was mentioned over and over and over again.

          • Sweden isn’t actually “socialist” as a good Marxist would define socialism. It’s a mixed economy with pretty significant market elements. It certainly wouldn’t satisfy Che.

            And I’d say that fascism is in fact less poisonous than Marxism. Fascism was tried in, roughly, four countries: Nazi Germany, Italy, Spain, and Peron’s Argentina. It was genocide bad once, pretty darn bad a second time, and a garden-variety authoritarian society twice. So you have only about a 25% chance of genocide. Marxism has resulted in million-plus deaths in the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, Cambodia, Vietnam. Best case is Cuba, which is worse than Peron’s Argentina or Franco’s Spain.

            Given a choice between the two, I’d vote for fascism any day. Of course, I’d rather have liberal democracy with a free market economy, but the leftists pretty much want to make that impossible.

          • And given the number of people who have died due to corporate efforts, shall we also hound out anyone wearing a corporate logo?

            Um, what? Are you living in a parallel universe in which corporations command armies and dispatch death squads?

            … never in this country have neo-Nazi activities (or proto-fascist, or, indeed, fascist) ones been criminalized *of themselves* — while Communist activities were.

            Your statement is trivially proven false. Being a supporter of any of the Axis Powers was illegal during World War Two; you’d have to go back to World War One (and the period immediately thereafter) to find an era where Communism was actually illegal in America, even by selective enforcement (what was illegal was “sedition”). I suggest you research the original purpose of the House Un-American Activities Committee, and also the nature of the crime of “perjury.”

          • “I will point out that never in this country have neo-Nazi activities (or proto-fascist, or, indeed, fascist) ones been criminalized *of themselves* — while Communist activities were.”

            Nonsense.

            Fritz Kuhn, the leader of the German-American Bund (a Nazi sympathizing organization), had his citizenship canceled and was then interned as an enemy alien.

            Numerous fascists and Nazis were prosecuted under the same Smith Act that was later used against Communists, in fact they were the earliest groups against which it was applied.

            Note that Smith Act did not criminalize belonging to any of those groups; it prohibited advocating the overthrow of the U. S. government. The political point of view didn’t enter into it. At all.

            It’s never been illegal to be a Communist per se in the United States. Whoever told you that lied to you.

            Sorry.

            • And a good few German Nazi sympathizers were also interned. Even a German-speaker or two who forgot themselves and spoke German in public. They went to the internment camp in Chrystal City, Texas – according to local lore in Fredericksburg, Texas. One of them was a German-speaking Swiss citizen, who took a call to a congregation in Fredericksburg, but kept forgetting that he had to speak English in public. Apparently, he didn’t mind internment too much – he had a full house on Sundays.
              Another local internee (again, according to local lore) was a thorough-going Nazi sympathizer, who horrified most of the local German-Americans whom he tried to recruit for a spy ring. They were at least three or four generations removed from Germany by that time. He wound up in Chrystal City also.

      • But it was only an experiment. You didn’t get the memo?

        • Shouldn’t leftists be opposed to experiments conducted on animals? I think that’s in the manual somewhere…

          • We’re not animals in their eyes. We’re chess pieces to be moved about the board as their hands move us.

            This is why it so annoys them when we scurry to different squares on our own.

            • How DARE we think and act outside of the lockstep they wish to impose!

              • Oh, it’s not that we dare that’s the problem. It’s that we move of our own free will. Fundamentally their sentiments are identical to that of an artist whose figures moved around in the picture while he was painting: people are supposed to react to their stimulus only as intended. Witness the way you can point out, over and over and over again, that you can’t increase “taxes” — you can only increase tax rates and the impact of that on tax revenues is unpredictable — it never sinks in

        • They’ll get it right next time, they just need to have the Right People in charge.

          • “They’ll get it right next time, they just need to have the Right People in charge.” yeah they always say that. Sigh…teh stoopid et berrnnnnzzzz. and horse will dance, pigs will fly, the check is in the mail, unicorns that shit gold bricks and puke macbooks will fill the rainbow filled skies, I promise I won’t………nah never mind not gonna mention that last one, History is full of proof that they are stupid and it won’t work.

          • Obviously. And, clearly, the right people know who they are.

      • I’ve noted elsewhere that Marxists make me feel way more unsafe than fat jokes (and I’m a guy who’s been sitting behind a desk for the last several years).

        QFT.

    • I’ve come to pretty much the same conclusion – I’m no longer interested in talking to and listening to people who – if you take them at their own word, would prefer to see us under the rule of autocrats and bureaucrats … or particularly autocratic bureaucrats. Or raving loonies like the Salon writer who was all b*tthurt about Caucasian belly-dancers appropriating Middle-eastern culture. (I will point and laugh at the loonies, however.)

    • “The other side makes incredible claims, stating that they don’t feel “safe” because a certain comedian is going to host the show.”

      How would you feel at a con hosted by a radical Muslim who openly disparaged Westerns or perhaps one of the sorts of reactionary Japanese nationalists who talks about how residents of the US are weak & vile?

      Would you be perfectly sanguine about such a choice or would you speak out? I see the situation with Ross being pretty darn similar, his career is pretty much based on constant misogyny and occasional homophobia.

      Also, do you really want a host who is likely to be up on stage talking about how much he’d like to have sex with one or more female authors who were present, perhaps even as he handed them an award – he said that during an interview with Gwyneth Paltrow, and I see no reason to doubt that he wouldn’t do the same thing up on stage at Worldcon.

      • Oh noes! A comedian has made crass jokes in the past! Quick, somebody get my fainting couch!

      • Get two fainting couches, I’m not feeling at all …. safe …

      • Meanwhile – isn’t Lena Dunham supposed to be the current media darling of all that female empowered diversity packed R18 insulating value nonsense? – Lena Dunham makes jokes about incest, with jokes about having an uncle interested in her. Since I’m an “uncle” myself, should I take offense and urge all to ban having her show up?

      • Let’s see, a Radical Muslim, a Reactionary Japanese, and a rude comedian. Which of these is most unlike the other two?

        Oh, I know! It’s the comedian! Because he’s, you know, a comedian. Not feeling safe around a Radical Muslim would be, I don’t know, a reasonable reaction. Really, though, the Reactionary Japanese could possibly be expected to NOT attack his audience, unless he were actually trying to do comedy, and then it might turn out to be ok.

        I certainly wouldn’t write about how I wasn’t going to go to the con after all, because I was afraid that someone would say bad words about me. The horrors! Rude jokes! (shudder) Now, with the Radical Muslim, I might be afraid he might throw some bad explosives around, which is another matter entirely.

        Sheesh. Apples and Oranges, much?

        • Let’s see, a Radical Muslim, a Reactionary Japanese, and a rude comedian … walk into a bar…

        • Isn’t it interesting, Leftists can say all kinds of horrible things, like proposing sending conservatives to concentration camps, or suggesting they can get a bunch of Brothers in NYC to rape Sarah Palin if she comes to the city (How many pages in the book of Liberal Wrong are in THAT one?) and then when people are justifiably upset, or call them on their hypocrisy, the left trots out the excuse “It’s just a joke, She’s a Comedian. You guys have no sense of humor.”

          • I know I have no sense of humor. I require that jokes actually be funny, and I don’t think “malicious” cuts it.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              Chuckle Chuckle

              A few years ago, a Barfly made a somewhat malicious joke and was very very upset when I gave him the traditional response (ie don’t give up your day job) to unfunny jokes.

              It was fun watching the other Barflies telling him that my response was in no way hateful toward him.

              The individual (who shall be nameless here) got himself kicked off the Bar several times. Like many of his breed, he made jokes about others but hated jokes about himself or others like himself.

      • I wouldn’t feel “unsafe.” There’s a difference between OFFENDED and THREATENED.
        And what on Earth are you talking about, btw? I’ve sat in a banquet hall with my colleagues and heard my political beliefs, my thoughts, my mode of life disparaged from the podium. You know what? It’s rare when that doesn’t happen. So I did what grown ups do. I only attended those I needed to attend professionally.
        You’re very cute, when you think these experiences are new or strange for people on the right.

        • Yeah, but there are very different rules for us and for people like them. Anything is fair game for them, but we have to play with both hands and one leg tied behind our backs.

          We’re supposed to suck it up when they dish it, but we’re being ridiculous if we hold them to their own standards.

          Funny how that works, isn’t it?

      • Nice failure of reading comprehension.

        A Muslim who disliked Westerners or a Japanese nationalist might well be objectionable. Guess what though? I wouldn’t feel unsafe unless they also stated a desire to kill or hurt Americans.

        Ross? He might make a crass joke. OH NO!!!!!!! We can’t have that!

        It’s impossible to take people seriously when they feel unsafe because someone might say rude things. Grow the hell up.

        • One of the commenters here, whom I gather was raised on the left, says that fourth generation leftists have been so protected and coddled they are all about “building consensus” and any opposition shocks them like a slap. I think that’s what we’re seeing.
          Well, they’re going to have to grow a pair. Because now the traditional publishing muzzle is off most writers, they’re going to get talk back.

          • Yep. Time to put their big girl/big boy/big whatever pants on and deal with it. Opposition is part of life.

            If they want to build a consensus, they have to understand that part of that is dealing with people who don’t agree with you, at least at the start. You have to convince them you’re right, and whining because a comedian might make a joke you don’t like and telling me all the ways I’m being horrible while not even trying to listen to me won’t exactly convince me I’m wrong.

            Of course, part of really building a consensus is to listen to the other guy because he might have some pretty good ideas too. You know the left just can’t have that these days.

            • No. They have, alas, received truth, from mount Marx.

              • Marx: A man who had grand ideas that have been attempted multiple times, and failed spectacularly each time…yet still get attention from the ignorant.

                Meanwhile, the policies that created this nation and, in time, lead to our greatness are “outdated” and just don’t work. Wha?

                • And who falsified his data. Much of his data about the horrors of industrialization was based on a report to Parliament, years earlier, that inspired the Factory Acts.

                  He managed to omit every bit of that info.

                • indeed.
                  You know why? Because Marxists are better at propaganda. THEY HAVE TO BE. If they said what they mean, the peasants would get torches and pitchforks.
                  Note the assumption about “conservative” because “Sides with upper classes” when upper classes throughout the world have favored state control in the socialist (Yes, let’s talk FDR, why don’t we?) to communist mode for almost a full century. BUT the communists/socialists say they’re for the downtrodden, so people believe it. There will be post… Probably called “And It Speaks Like A Dragon” because I read Heinlein (and the Bible, but Heinlein too.)

                  • Shhhhh…..didn’t you hear? We’re not supposed to admit to reading Heinlein anymore.

                    I mean, just one of the most influential science fiction authors in history should totally not be read by science fiction authors or anything.

                    As for the rest of what you said, you’re right. They also miss that capitalism has been the best system for raising the standard of living in the history of man…but if you’re a capitalist, you somehow can’t be for the little guy :/

                    • We’re not supposed to read the Bible either, because if we don’t read it we can claim that communism was started by Christianity (but Christianity is bad and communism is good, that always confuses me).

                      We’re obviously not supposed to read Heinlein because he started out as a socialist and then instead of drifting left into communism he became a heretic and drifted, well maybe not right, but sideways or something, into libertarianism.

                    • Heinlein’s shift is part of the reason I have such a fondness for him. I made that exact same shift myself.

                      And I could smack my head about not reading the Bible. How could I forget that!!!! :D

                    • I made a prettydamncloseshift. I was raised in Europe. you’re raised to BE socialist. I was always strongly anti-communist, but I didn’t see that socialism was just the high road to the same place (even though they told me.) In fact, I’m very glad my early work didn’t get published. It was all about evil corporations polluting and what have you, because they were evil. It wasn’t till I was 31 that I started examining the contradictions in what I took for granted. And then the whole thing cracked like an egg.

                    • I’m right there with ya, though I was about 35 or so when I made my shift.

                      And I wasn’t exactly raised to be a leftist. I had a lefty mother, but a conservative father, so I had my pick. I chalk mine up to youthful stupidity :D

      • The proper response would have been to discuss it amongst yourselves, then contact the concom and express concerns–are we sure this person will behave in a fashion appropriate to the event?

        Rather than engaging in a FATwa against the invitee.

        I wonder if anyone else remembers Spider Robinson at MagiCon, making jokes about the bathroom sink being the perfect height for a urinal for tall men, and using less water to flush.

        And the MagiConDoms they handed out to everyone.

        Nor would any such comments threaten your safety, only your precious little feelings.

        Grow up.

  4. You almost wonder if a shadow fandom is developing, one for people who might go to an official con to hear certain speakers or attend particular panels, but then sidle off to have their own separate social functions and semi-con. Sort of like the HunCon mentioned on a previous thread: “OK, after the MHI get-together and the panel on ‘starship design for small colonies’ let’s all meet at [cafe]. You know the sign, countersign is ‘Noah’s Boy hold the mustard.”

  5. Please don’t tell me that this cool thing I’ve just discovered is about to self destruct. My fans seem to be really good people, ex-military or simply lovers of the kind of scifi that Heinlein wrote, carried forward by writers such as Weber and Ringo. They are respectful and supportive, willing to compliment what they like and to offer an opinion on what they don’t. But I have noted how nasty people can get on the internet if you disagree with their opinion on anything. Part of this is the ‘if you’re not with me, you’re against me’ culture, where they’d rather die than compromise. In my opinion, the people who actually read science fiction are, on the whole, more well mannered than those whose only connect is through television and movies. Unfortunately, some of these media only people are also now self-published scifi writers, and it is telling in there lack of imagination.

    • Nah, fans will just find alternative routes. Like this blog. I used to go to cons many years ago. Now I hang out here. If you are a welcoming presence on the net, happy readers will find you.

      • there will be meet ups in person. Did you know that first HonorCon was last fall? We should aim for a HunCon in 2015. Personally I think it should be held in TX.

        • I’m game – especially if it’s in San Antonio! I can give the Huns a personal tour of historic downtown, and show you all the cool places like Schilo’s Deli!

          http://schilos.com/

          And the Alamo, too, of course.

        • As a resident of Texas, I agree.

          • I’m not going to Texas this year — see where I’m trying to make up time, etc. — but next year is possible.

            • Yeah, I saw that and have no problem with it. I figured next year would be the earliest something could be organized.

            • It’s 90% set that I’ll miss FenCon as well. If I make BuboniCon, it will be the only one I can get to.

              • I managed to make ConDFW (really need to post the con report), but everything else is extremely iffy. Even Robert E. Howard Days in Cross Plains is questionable. I haven’t made Armadillocon since I moved to the western part of the state and missed Fencon last year because of Worldcon. And the ones in Houston are too out of the way.

                Bubonicon is the closest con, but the timing is always bad. I’m hoping to go to the Williamson lectureship since it’s only a couple of hours away and the time zone difference works in my favor for going.

                I’m not holding my breath on any of it, though.

              • I would love to go to Liberty Con– but after last year (infection after infection) I don’t think it would be feasible or even good for me to go to any con.

          • Where in Texas are you?

        • Ditto!

        • I think we should aim for HunCon 206x to be held on Sarah’s hundredth birthday. On the MOON.

          • 2062? Go for it. Terraformed Mars would be better, though.

            • That might be a bit of a tight schedule for terraforming, but get me a billion dollars as seed money for R&D, and I think I can make the rest of the cash I would need in 10 years or so.

              I know I can build giant fusion reactors (it’s anything smaller than about 10TW that is difficult). With a fleet of 10,000 or so fusion-powered ships at that power, we can probably bring a moon of Jupiter into orbit around Mars, then mine it and add the mass to the Planet, providing water and a higher gravity, as well as covering up the toxic soil.

              • Part of the problem is the size. Mars is too low in mass to sustain tectonic activity, and thus has no mechanism for an Earth-like carbon cycle. Or so I was told (if I understood correctly) by the panel of geologists and astrophysicists at LTUE last month.

                • FINE. We’ll drop ALL FOUR of the Jovian moons on it. That should get the mass up.

                  Much more, and we might as well move Venus, instead.

                • Well, that and the whole “Who took my magnetic field?” thing letting through all those charged particles.

                  If one were to whack Mars with enough comets to gin up the atmospheric pressure, that would last a good long time before the solar wind blew it away, but the surface radiation count would still be pretty nasty with no magnetic field to shield things.

                • Think big. With enough electrical power, you can bloody *make* massive magnetic fields.

                  The logistics and engineering fiddly bits would be beyond huge, and it would take maths I’m not smart enough to even comprehend, but rather than one planetary class magnetic field, a bunch of smaller ones. Bunch of really big magnets in orbit? On the surface? I dunno. Given enough metallic hydrogen and a really good containment system, possibilities exist…

                  Of course, that’s just fifteen minutes thought. A billion dollars? Piffle. Push around enough small planetary objects and giving Mars a magnetosphere becomes secondary- imagine safe habitats in the asteroid belt, orbiting Venus and Saturn, anybloody place in the solar system. Pop one up out of the plane with a really big solar sail for propulsion/station keeping and do science. Grow things in orbital farms. Create the system’s largest electric generator in Jovian orbit.

                  Planets are cool, don’t get me wrong. But that just doesn’t satisfy. I want space, and the stars.

            • Christopher M. Chupik

              Well, we could hurry up the terraforming with this here Genesis Device. We’ve had some problems with it, but we’re confident that adding a bit of protomatter will fix everything.

          • On Mars or on our first extrasolar colony! On the moon there will be cushy accommodations.

    • The vituperation you’re finding during ‘discussions’ on the Internet is likely the result of anonymity, which provides a safe barrier between you and your detractor. Naturally you can’t argue with them; their belief system is simply learned without reason or thought. Trying to introduce a well-reasoned belief that doesn’t coincide with whatever they think they believe will fail, first because it doesn’t support their own beliefs, secondly because it’s a reasoned belief – the reasoning portion, you see, is not understood.

      • No no. Most of the idiots arguing for, oh, post-bi-gender, or kicking out everyone over forty or what have you are signing their names.

        • why are they so crazy?

        • Have they no shame?

          • Shame is a tool of the double-plus ungood patriarchy. So naturally it is to be suppressed in the self, and may be used as a weapon against those who engage in thoughtcrime.

          • Who would teach them shame? Not their parents, nor their teachers. That would get in the way of the self-esteem lessons.

          • Attempts to shame them merely end up creating yet another public event where they all call themselves the epithet used to shame them. i.e. Slutwalks, etc…

            • You mean “I’m a slut, but don’t call me a slut, because that would be slut shaming”? Forget listening to US. I wish they’d listen to THEMSELVES.

              • Listening is, like, way less interesting than talking, y’know!

              • I’m half naked (or more) and what clothing there may be is very provocative, and in a public place, but don’t look at me if you are a man, that would be exploiting me? (But I suspect very hot guys would be excused)

                • And by the way, has anybody raised question of the rights of lesbians when it comes to those chainmail bikini babes on covers? Women who like women might like them, after all.

                  • Raise the question of lesbians’ rights … me? …. A man could get hurt doing something like that.

                    • Ah, but what if you were defending their rights to enjoy art depicting hot women, scantily dressed? The lesbian I know best is a big fan of Xena and her outfit. She would probably feel deprived if such views disappeared from popular culture. :D

                    • And yes, if such art is mainly aimed at the lesbians, but occasionally some men accidentally happen to see it… well, you could not really avoid that, not completely, now could you?

              • The opposition to “slut shaming” is especially hilarious because what they are basically demanding is that others not talk about sex if this talk is concerned with the concept of a sexual reputation. The problem is that, since humans choose mates based in part upon their analysis of the personalities of those mates, and mate-choosing is very important to humans (since we’re for the most part serial monogamists) this is basically an attempt to close off a communication channel on a matter of vital interest to many humans. That sort of ban never works.

        • Out of not entirely idle curiosity, what do you mean by “post-bi-gender”?

          • Bi-gender = men and women. Post-bi-gender = gender diversity. Somebody on the Tor blog wanted to get rid of the default setting with genders (men and women) in stories, and for writers to start writing characters with more gender diversity. It rather sounded as if she wanted all stories henceforth to be ones where the characters were, well, LTGB.

        • I really like the bat shit insane, southern drawl cutie I ran across via facebook in the last couple days. She wants to reduce the population and reboot humanity basically. Reducing the male population to anywhere between 1-10% of what it is now, and putting women in charge. Sigh.*headdesk, headdesk, headdesk!* “and THAT’s when I shot her your honor…self defense ya see.”

          • Because she likes the idea of being in a harem?

            • You might A Brother’s Price by Wen Spencer interesting. Some factor in that has reduced boys to between 1-10% of the population. Boys are cherished and protected and sheltered like nobody’s business.

              • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                And the men’s wives are normally sisters (of each other not the man’s). I enjoyed it but I’ll admit that I wanted to see the male character “hall off” and hit the bad “gals” at one point.

                For those who haven’t read it, this book is Wen Spencer’s take on the silly idea that if women ruled, the world would be much better.

                The world of _A Brother’s Price_ is different but not better. [Smile]

                • Well, “sisters.” Most of them would be half sisters, because they are the offspring of the last generation of “sisters” who all had the same husband. It is possible for sisters to be first cousins, actually, if the sisters are widowed.

              • Haven’t read that, although I liked her Tinker stories. Throughout history, whenever women have outnumbered men, which has been fairly common in history, due to higher mortality in males, polygamy has resulted, with the man being in charge. Heinlein turned this on its head with The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, where women were the rarity, and again he had it produce polygamy, although this time with the women defacto in charge. Not sure it would work out the way he invisioned it, the times when women have been a rarity in history are frontier areas, on the American frontier women were valued and protected, no polygamy resulted, but women did have more defacto power than they did in civilized areas of that time frame. (we’ll leave out the limited prostitution, which has been present in all societies from time immemorable) In other frontiers the women have become community property that was passed around, but they had NO power, because they couldn’t physically deny the men. But these are frontiers, their attitudes originate from the attitudes of the societies that settle them, and usually the situation is changing on the frontier at the same time the attitudes are changing, so there is a degree of change but not a metamorphis. I will note that at NO time in history have women been a majority AND in charge. It is a simple supply and demand equation.

            • A surprising amount of those obsessed with “sexual politics” miss the basic point that whichever sex was rarer would be the ones de facto in charge, regardless of whatever the law claimed. But then, understanding why would require grasping basic economics, which they also can’t.

          • Yeah, they’re totally going to convince Muslim and oh, Chinese men of that. TOTALLY.
            And if they did, after the massive fight between all the women and the genocide (women don’t fight to win. They fight to eviscerate) civilization would start again at the neolithic level with strong injunctions never to let a woman be in charge of anything, including her own toe nails.

            • [W]omen don’t fight to win. They fight to eviscerate[.]

              This is the sole reason I have any issue with women in combat. Men fight to win, and then call it done. After all, two guys get into a fight, when the fight is over, it’s usually just over. They go about their merry ways, provided they don’t go and get a drink together to call it done.

              When women have a beef, it gets ugly. Very ugly.

              My concern would be an increase in atrocities if women were in combat roles. Rather than taking prisoners after a tough, eight hour battle, they would slaughter them all.

              This is, of course, based on my experiences and observations of women in various types of conflict. I’d love to be wrong.

              • I think that this is one reason why women are usually barred from combat. Since we haven’t quoted Kipling in a while, The female is deadlier than the male.

              • I have found a way to confound that female impulse– women won’t be vicious if we don’t feel threatened.

                I think this is part of why ladies try to avoid serious conflict so much– it’s like guys avoiding being physical unless they’re serious. Protecting others rather than defending yourself is another way to shift, although it’s iffy.

                Yes, I only figured out the “feeling threatened” part after trying to figure out why some female friends randomly went utterly ape-bleep.

                • Fair enough :)

                  • Captain Obvious comment, since I momentarily forgot this is the internet:
                    getting shot at is going to trip all of those “nuke it from orbit” circuits and, you’re right, get atrocities coming out of our ears.

                    • I would imagine.

                      FWIW, I certainly think women are perfectly capable of fighting a war. I just wouldn’t want to be on the other side.

                    • I’m not sure I’d want to be on our side with women in direct combat….
                      (I was in the Navy for two contracts, and am a female. That’s why I’d worry!)

                    • As a Navy man myself, I can see where you’re coming from. Of course, I was a corpsman, so we tended to get the more nurturing type of woman.

                    • I just wouldn’t want to be on the other side.

                      I, on the other hand, have no problem at all with the other side being on the other side.

                      But then, I always was a vicious bastard.

                    • I can respect that :)

                    • Yea– what worries me is if a woman had control of the nuclear button –

                    • Yeah. I’d plan on sleeping a few nights out of every month in my bomb shelter.

                      (Ducks and covers)

                    • Don’t make me quote Kipling…

                    • Why not?

                      On Wed, Mar 12, 2014 at 5:22 PM, According To Hoyt wrote:

                      > SPQR commented: “Don’t make me quote Kipling…” >

                    • Why not? It’s a favorite Hunnish activity.

                    • In fact, I think it has been too long since our last posting of this:

                      As I pass through my incarnations in every age and race,
                      I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market-Place.
                      Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
                      And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

                      We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
                      That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
                      But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
                      So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

                      We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
                      Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market-Place.
                      But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
                      That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

                      With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch
                      They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch
                      They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings.
                      So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

                      When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
                      They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
                      But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
                      And the Gods of the Copybook Heading said: “Stick to the Devil you know.”

                      On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
                      (Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
                      Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
                      And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “The Wages of Sin is Death.”

                      In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
                      By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
                      But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
                      And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”

                      Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew,
                      And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
                      That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four —
                      And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

                      * * * * *

                      As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man —
                      There are only four things certain since Social Progress began —
                      That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
                      And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire —
                      And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
                      When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins
                      As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn
                      The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

            • I completely believe that. :) My wife is a filipina with a strong spanish heritage. I brag that she is the only person I know who I would trust to help kill zombies with me.

      • Not just anonymity, but also distance. As Robert E Howard observed, barbarians are actually more civil than civilized men because they know the wrong words can lead to getting their skulls split. Just as people, at least those with any brains, were careful about what they said about others they didn’t want to get into a fight with at the bar. Now, someone I will never see can say anything they want with no fear of retaliation. Not that I’m that kind of person, but if I were, I wouldn’t take the time and effort to find someone across the country to go after. Recently a young man in Russia threatened me on a youtube post about concealed carry, saying he would stuff my gun up my ass before I could do anything because he knew self defense techniques. A safe thing to say, since nothing I own has the range to reach across thousands of miles

        • Recently a young man in Russia threatened me on a youtube post about concealed carry, saying he would stuff my gun up my ass before I could do anything because he knew self defense techniques. A safe thing to say, since nothing I own has the range to reach across thousands of miles.

          Uh-huh. Does he not grasp the meaning of “concealed?” As in, he wouldn’t know who was concealed-carrying, hence his plan would only work against those who told him in advance they had guns.

          For that matter, has he ever been in a fight? It’s not that easy to put someone reliably and quickly down for the count, even if one knows “self defense techniques.” And if one attacks someone who has a gun on them, failing to put someone down reliably and quickly is a good way to get shot.

          I assume that this guy is full of it, because if he weren’t he would be posting from a hospital, prison or insane asylum.

          • he’s posting from Russia which in many places arguably is the last two with trees.

          • Two words: range weapon. Will his self defense put you down at 20 feet? Mine will, but then they include the use of a .357.

          • How do you know that he isn’t posting from such a place?

            It could be that he’s acting big on the internet because someone in his personal life is squashing him.

          • “For that matter, has he ever been in a fight? It’s not that easy to put someone reliably and quickly down for the count, even if one knows “self defense techniques.” And if one attacks someone who has a gun on them, failing to put someone down reliably and quickly is a good way to get shot.”

            Let’s ask Trayvon of the Blessed Hoodie about that….. took his “victim” by surprise, knocked him down, and is on top of him beating his head against the concrete….. those “techniques” didn’t stop him from acquiring terminal lead poisoning.

            • Let’s ask Trayvon of the Blessed Hoodie about that…..

              Very good example! Because someone under one’s serious physical attack is very likely to be having an adrenaline surge, meaning that unless one inflicts at least severe stunning damage on him very rapidly, he may be able to have time to get a gun out even if you have hurt him. Though, mind you, drawing this lesson from that event would require the Leftist in question to be honest about what actually happened.

            • There is also that viral video of a police officer being pummelled in the same way by a firefighter. The police officer was in the same spot and did the same thing, result ->dead fire fighter.
              But there is no such thing as a sure thing. Everyone has that bad day

        • Did you send said young man a copy of Raiders of the Lost Ark?
          :P

        • That’s a nice point. I hadn’t thought about distance, but you’re quite right. Although…
          Back in the bad old days I was fortunate to work directly for a self-made millionaire, an entrepreneur. Bluntly, the man could fight, and by that I mean physically fight. In his industry he was legendary, and not many people would cross him. So one night around 10:00 PM as we were closing up shop he got a call from a manager in another store, safely separated by a 3 hour drive. The conversation got heated, and Big Dick slammed the phone down and grabbed his coat. “I’m headed for Columbus.” He announced. “I’ll show that son of a bitch who’s just blowin’ smoke.”
          He was back the next morning, business as usual – but his knuckles were skinned up a little. He made a few jokes about blowin’ smoke.

        • Recently a young man in Russia threatened me on a youtube post about concealed carry, saying he would stuff my gun up my ass before I could do anything because he knew self defense techniques.

          1) What narrow minded provincialism leads the folk making such a suggestion to believe that I don’t know “self defense techniques” too?
          2) This, of course, is why every military and police department in the world is taking the guns away from their troops and teaching them “self defense techniques.” Right?

    • Kind sir, I haven’t come across your books, and it sounds as if I really ought. Website available? (I clicked the name and ran into the unfound page…)

      • Google is my friend!

        Empires at War has been recommended to me twice now, from people whose opinions I value. It’s on my TBR list.

      • Not really sure if I should be pimping my books on Sarah’s blog, but since you ask, my website is http://dougdandridge.net , while my blog is http://dougdandridge.com , and books can be found under my name at Amazon. Just tried to look up my website and for some reason it’s not there, so I have to look into that.

        • we have pimping my readers space every Saturday, but I odn’t mind it in comments either…

          • I’ll check that out, Sarah. Felt kind of uncomfortable posting about my books on your blog, but I was asked, so thought I would do something minimal. By the way, my website domain name has disappeared, even though the hosting company says it’s in good standing.

            • Don’t feel about it. My website is a disaster area.
              Send your book pimping to freerangeoyster at gmail dot com and also, if you haven’t, send it to book.plug.friday@gmail.com. Charlie Martin and I have this book pimping thing at pjmedia.

              • Yes, and a beautiful thing it is, too – y’all having graciously pimped my own books, even though they are not science fiction in genre (historical and by extension ‘western’). There is one sad thing, though – I can no longer thank you or even comment at the PJM site, since due to some kink in their commenting program, I am no longer allowed to comment on PJM sites. Which is really majorly ironic, having been an original PJM site, and even on the Insty blogroll quite early on, as these things go.
                Never mind – I am upping my commentary at other sites – to include this one.

                I did take your example for Witchfinder – my own work in progress is being posted in fits and starts at my own website – here,

                http://www.celiahayes.com/lone-star-sons

                I’m hoping to make it a good and readable adventure western, targeted to the YA market, especially to tween-age boys. Any feedback and commentary will be more than welcome. Pam has already been following, but any other input from members of the Horde will be welcome.

                • Their website… we won’t go there. Yesterday we were discussing software kinks over dinner. We’ll just say that.

                  • Ugh. I’m so annoyed over that, I will likely let my so-called account close. Every spammer talking about their mother-cousin-sis-in-law earing $70 an hour from their home on the internet can post at PJM … and I am not allowed? REALLY?
                    I don’t know what is going on over there, but I am less and less inclined to be interested in being a part of it.

                    • I’ve poked them, and I’ve emailed you.

                    • Thanks, sweetie – I’ve emailed a couple of times also, without result. As near as I can see, there’s a problem there. It may be costing regular readers and commenters besides myself, but I am so annoyed by it all that I likely will be just walking away entirely.

                    • They never DID send me the thumb drive with a Bill Whittle speech they promised for renewing early, and I asked about it a couple of times.

                  • Yeah. I’m not happy with PJM using popup ads either. Matt canceled his sub over it.

                    • you would at least think they would dispense with the (very inane) popup ads for subscribers….

                    • They’re using popup ads? My installation of AdBlock must be blocking them successfully, because I’ve never noticed said popup ads. Sheesh. Not going to cancel my free account, but I might indeed cancel a paid subscription over something that boneheaded.

                    • I get popup adds while POSTING. No, seriously.
                      That said — I assume they need to pay for the site somehow.

                    • Scriptsafe protects me from the content, but the popup itself still reveals itself. Generally my first clue is when browsing slows to a crawl, and I only have a few windows open.

                    • I’m not excited about it, either.

                    • My gripe is the pagination—and the fact that clicking “Single Page” is another excuse for a pop-up ad. I have a couple of RSS feeds that keep me coming back to the site a few times a day, but I rarely find it worthwhile to comment.

                • Added to my favorites so I don’t lose it.

                  • Thanks, Bearcat! Every link and potential fan is gratefully appreciated. My dearest daughter has promised to me that if I should ever forget to be gracious (as if I could!) that a brick wrapped in a copy of Southern Living Graciousness will so be coming my way …

        • Many thanks, sir. Added to my to be read file!

          And thanks as well, to our gracious host! Appreciations, ma’am.

    • The literary cons are dying, and good riddance to them. There are plenty of other, better cons to keep attending.

  6. I believe the problem is the “snowflakes” are the same ones who are hammering us old baby boomers for “standing in the way.” Now, what they mean is we have certain truths that we hold dear and are willing to stand up for, be it in fandom or in life as a whole. They perceive us, rightly or wrongly, as the enemy of whatever it is they stand for. Obviously, no grasp of history, for it is this very generation who they appear to despise that said “never trust anyone over 30″ oh so many years ago. In many ways, they mirror ourselves except in one facet, they think they “deserve without effort”. That, I believe is the real difficulty. For some reason, rearing, rage, I don’t know what or why, they feel no need to work towards a goal, but feel they should get because they are. Sorry folks, it does not work that way, and I hope that generation figures it out, thankfully ours did. Have we become our parents? I suppose to some degree we have, I can but hope this generation will eventually do the same, and perhaps save SF and the world at the same time.

    • Eh, there was a lot of entitlement and ego in the hippies and the antiwar movement. The sort of thing that leads to throwing rocks at armed men, while screaming “Kill!” just to make your motives clear, and then be shocked to the core of your being when they open fire.

      • One of my professors ( a true geek and reader) was getting her BA in English during the time that you refer to marycatelli. She didn’t realize she was in danger because her nose was in a book when she walked in between students and some soldiers. She was able to get away, and was more careful when she was walking on campus.

        • My mom did that. The National Guard told her it wasn’t a good idea to go on campus, but she had to get to her German class! My dad managed to get himself teargassed while on his way to class with similar panache.

          • Yea–there were a few students who really wanted to study– I think that hasn’t changed much (a lot like to party instead).

            • You might find The kumquat statement by John R. Coyne interesting, if you can lay your hands on it.

          • My cousin had fits about getting teargassed when he was “just walking to a job interview”… right next to the big G8 protests in Seattle.

      • Yeah. I still can’t get over their horror at the “Massacre at Kent State.” I remember retyping part of the organizational history of NYPIRG and laughing to myself at the part where they explained that Kent State proved that the Evil Establishment was willing to go to any lengths to suppress the Counterculture. Guys, you call them “fascists.” You should have expected to be rounded up en masse and shot, if you believed your own propaganda — not merely killed accidentally by panicked troops who were mostly firing into the air in the hopes of scaring a mob.

        • Like I said the other day– they claim to think of us as threats; we act like they are threats.

          • Foxfier, there are a couple of confirmed college professors on another blog i frequent who used to make it a habit of accusing us of being “bloodthirsty reich-wingers who drool over the thought of killing liberals.”

            Until I gently pointed out that if they actually believed that, they wouldn’t have posted anything on this blog under traceable identities who could be easily tracked back and dealt with. They’re either dishonest or stupid or both.

      • I remember Kent State pretty well. The guardsmen fired 67 shots, killing 4 and wounding 9. Now, if the NG fired 67 shots and produced 67 dead anti-war protestors who had been throwing rocks and debris at the NG, I wouldn’t have much of a problem with it. Don’t throw rocks at a man with a gun, get it? But that’s not what happened. Of the four killed, two weren’t even involved in the protest at all, and in fact were a goodly distance away. The other two were leaving, having done their bit for the day. All those people shot were students at Kent State, as opposed to imported agitators.
        I note that there was a rumor among the protestors that the NG rifles were loaded with blank rounds, something I didn’t believe even if others did. What I found incredible was that the National Guard couldn’t shoot worth a tinker’s damn.

        • There was also a rumor that those killed weren’t killed by the National Guard, that the National Guard actually did just shoot into the air, and those killed were shot by agitators as agit-prop. Not saying I believe that, but it does make a certain kind of sense.

          If you are going to bring the military in (and the National Guard is military, not police as some idiots have tried to argue) then you should expect the area of operations to be a combat zone, where combat tactics will be deployed and casualties will result.

          • There’s indications of that in the tapes. Another indication, which isn’t but… EVERY communist instigated demonstration that I ever heard of, where someone was killed, a pregnant woman dies. It’s too weird to be coincidence.

            • Like playing “Find the red bike” in pictures of “Israeli war crimes”?

              • Can you elaborate? I’m unfamiliar.

                • There have been a series of photos supposedly depicting civilian deaths among the Palestinian areas that keep repeating the same incident over and over repeatedly, as evidenced by seeing the same mundane object in the photos supposedly depicting different incidents at different locations etc.

                  Similar thing has been happening from Syria. And at one time the Blog That Shall Not Be Named was actually good at spotting setup propaganda photos from Lebanon.

                  • Ah. Thank you. I now know a little more of the depravity of the human race. :/

                  • Much like Green Helmet Guy, or the same woman mourning in front of different bombed out houses, or those two “Keys” supposedly to a house in “Occupied Jerusalem” that are actually props owned by a terrorist groups, and yet appear in news stories periodically as if they were real keys to a real house.

                • Roughly a decade back, someone going over photographs of “destroyed homes” from antii-Israel photographers noticed there were an awful lot of bright red, perfectly intact little kid’s bikes– I can’t remember if it was a trike or just had training wheels– that were oddly clean in a lot of widely dispersed photographs. He started looking, and noticed that there was almost always a strangely clean, bright red child’s object (coat, ball, doll, but usually a bike) slightly off-center of the destruction.

                  One of the photographers admitted to putting it in his shots to help them catch folks’ eye, but I seem to remember mostly they ignored the question of where the epidemic of indestructible red bikes was coming from.

                • There have also been cases of people caught bringing bodies from morgues to where Israeli counter-fire has hit.

                • And the infamous “corpse is dropped when they get fired on, jumps up and runs like heck” video.

          • The bottom line here is that the NG screwed up by the numbers. They didn’t know the terrain and cornered the crowd against some fences. They had nowhere to go. When doing riot control, the goal is always to chase the crowd to an open area where they can disperse. If they had found SOMEONE (anyone?) who knew the area and pushed the crowd to a better spot none of this would have happened. The rocks never would have been thrown. There would have been no gunfire in response. Most of those people would probably still be alive.

    • I believe the problem is the “snowflakes” are the same ones who are hammering us old baby boomers for “standing in the way.”

      Side note, I have scolded boomers for standing in the way, but only after they went on a rant about my generation not having reached the same spot they have and in conjunction with pointing out the regulation based effort to remove the path they used to reach their hill top, as well as prevent formation of future hills. Followed by a plea to stop trying to break down everything into generations ‘cus it’s dang near useless.

    • In many ways, they mirror ourselves except in one facet, they think they “deserve without effort”. That, I believe is the real difficulty. For some reason, rearing, rage, I don’t know what or why, they feel no need to work towards a goal, but feel they should get because they are.

      I am curious as to why you think this is so? I see many people under 30 organizing events, helping to organize older events, etc. Perhaps what you mean is that they’re not willing to sit down and shut up and work the way you tell them to?

      In which case, I will ask if you were willing to do the same at their age?

      • No, nitwit, I wasn’t. See I was working for a living. I was married and had kids and a career.

        • Let me see — comes spinning in and starts attacking. Plays the Nazi card. Makes a post every two minutes… Brings up the stupid accusation of “corporations killing people” — because you know, corporations are supernatural and not just ways to organize business.
          I’m sorry — I know you guys love the occasional troll, but this one is insane. He (or I suspect she)’s outta here.

    • I believe the problem is the “snowflakes” are the same ones who are hammering us old baby boomers for “standing in the way.”

      In this context, Obama’s death panels are kind of sinister. Remember, Obama is both not a Boomer and quite wealthy. He need not worry about facing such a panel himself.

  7. Doug, I am new to the SF genre and just googled your name on Amazon. I’m definitely interested. When I read your bio I found out your primary field is psychology/psychiatry and that you have worked with children up to adults in prison. There is another writer, a British MD, who has worked with a similar population: Theodore Dalrymple is his pen name. He writes essays and general commentary on “the culture”. His essays are free all over the internet. Might want to check him out.

    • Thanks. I will do that. I’m kind of new to this whoie thing, having only started attending conventions and seminars last year. Before that all I did was read the stuff, and work on my own stuff.

  8. I don’t have my copy of Fallen Angels handy, but I remember that, in the novel, science-fiction cons were held secretly because being a science-fiction fan was considered evidence of “technophilia,” which was either a mental disorder or a criminal misdemeanor depending upon the circumstance.

    I recall a fan in the novel gloomily pointing out that the possibility of arrest and/or commitment to a mental institution kept the jerks away, resulting in a fandom more like the “good old days.”

    All this is satire, of course. Nothing like that could ever happen in real life.

  9. I think that conversation is an outcome greatly to be desired. However, we live in a time when dishonesty is just one rhetorical ploy. We are seeing falsehoods being put forth and mobs of low-information fans forming cyber lynch mobs on that basis. Someone can flatter the beauty of a female editor of yore and the mob demands blood. It doesn’t matter that Heinlein was a liberal in good standing, he has the wrong fans so he gets the two-minute hate. Reasonable people cannot converse in such circumstances.

    Thus we must first seek honesty in our interlocutors, and when absent, run out Larry Correia’s internet arguing checklist. When conversation is impossible, there is always theater.

    • And people accuse the old industry giants of all being right-wing nut-jobs because they oppose censorship.
      :P

  10. I suspect the dialog is going on every day in bookstores and online retailers. True fans buy the books of the authors they follow. False fans talk about the same authors (and their true fans) in horrified/outraged/aggravated terms.

    I don’t think I’ve outraged very many false fans yet (although I’m working on that), but I’m very grateful for the true fans who buy my books. They’re helping me to earn my living. What higher praise could I want?

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      I found some of these false fans on Twitter, talking about how they needed alternative authors to promote, now that Rothfuss and Gaiman are unclean. Sheesh.

      • I want to beg you to tell me you’re kidding. Unfortunately, that would require part of me to have some level of disbelief.

        The plus side is that when they get done eating their own, there will be only a teeny tiny subsect of SF/F left and we can safely ignore them.

    • I suspect the dialog is going on every day in bookstores and online retailers. True fans buy the books of the authors they follow. False fans talk about the same authors (and their true fans) in horrified/outraged/aggravated terms.

      Indeed. I have seen many false fans going off on people like China Mieville, Seanan McGuire, John Scalzi, et. al.

      • Yep, though I can’t recall saying anything ever about China Mieville or Seanan McGuire, then I’ve never read anything by either of them, and China Mieville at least I have never heard say anything outside of his/her? books. But Scalzi, yeah you could call me a false fan, although I have read several of his books, I’m one of those creating the dialogue by disparaging his ridiculous antics and not buying any of his new books (is he still writing anything?). I think you totally missed the point that dialog is a good thing.

  11. Perhaps this conversation is not one that can be effectively carried out online.

    I’m reminded of a story of a contractor who was clearing some old buildings out of the way to make room for new construction. He hired a bunch of big guys with crowbars and heavy implements, and they broke things down quickly. Then he let them all go and hired skilled workers for the building phase because building something is naturally more difficult and requires more skill than tearing something down. And if we’re trying to build understanding, conversation, communication, community,that’s going to be more difficult than drive-by accusations, insults, and hate. Add to that the higher degree of difficulty that comes from doing it all in text, where body language and vocal intonation are absent, and the bar gets higher.

    Of course, if we’re writers, that’s supposedly our field of expertise. I don’t know. Someone I used to have a lot of respect for just posted a thing online that made me recall Sarah’s “Rats in their Heads” post, and my wife asked me why I still followed that person online. I don’t know that I have a good answer. Do we follow people and try to express an opposing viewpoint, or do we let them go their way and focus on building communities of those that we can have a conversation with?

    • Good comparison. May I add, post tear down, if you end up with a cookie cutter building which has replaced the Grand Olde Theature and now hold Exhibits of Modern Tagging instead of Casablanca, or Miley Cyrus instead of Emili Sande, then expect no money from me. And I will expect much knashing of teeth from you when you go bankrupt because you are too cool to be understood.

  12. I think the problems in sci-fi fandom are just showing a greater problem in the culture– which I have no clue how to fix. –The youth culture, the entitlements, and the snowflakes.

    • I call the latter the “Cult of Victimhood”.

      • Definitely. I’ve spent ten years watching children being taught that helplessness is a virtue.

        • Even beyond that, the Cult of Victimhood has turned our society in one in which people game the system with victimhood status to trump others’ rights etc.

          All of academia is a game of Victimhood Bingo where the group with the greatest victim status gets to control the institution.

          • It gets our country leaning in a non-productive way. Everyone has problems. Get on with your life.

        • Belonging to a group defined as helpless is a virtue. Actually being helpless is not a virtue in their eyes. Kindergarteners are helpless, unable to resist their parents and teachers, and yet I have seen with my own eyes someone justifying a kindergarten targeted at the girls in the class because the boys have had priority for generations. (Not these boys, but hey, don’t let that stop you.)

          Being helpless in actuality is not a virtue, but it is grounds for pity. Who does not eventually want Wile E. Coyote to have himself a nice roasted Road Runner?

          • You can honestly say that Wile E. worked for it. Not particularly well, I admit, but he didn’t expect the Road Runner to roast itself.

            • Reminds me of a thought I had during a series I once watched long ago (Gundam Z, specifically). The primary antagonist early in the series was a jerk. But after watching him fail again and again, episode after episode, I started to feel a bit sympathetic for the guy. True, him succeeding even once would have been catastrophic for the heroes. But still…

    • The culture of entitlement that produces the snowflakes seems to be garnering itself more and more of a backlash out there in Ye Great Wasteland, so there may yet be hope in the world at large. Frex, youth league sports organized where the every-participant-gets-a-trophy mentality is explicitly campaigned against and replaced by “real” competition for standing and ThePrize — still trophies, still amateur, still youth players. Some of these appear to be set up by the more-competitive adults of a slightly older generation, but there is a considerable impetus from GenX and Millenial folk who felt cheated of a part of their own childhoods by the extremes of non-competitive snowflake-ism.

      I don’t know if it is quite time to cheer — there are unfortunately too many “adults” who will attempt the situation for their own self-gratifying reasons — BUT there may still be reason to think we will have A Future worth living for. (Here, my own curmudgeonliness aside, optimism leads me to side with The Future, warts and all.)

      • The slide downhill was slow– I think that it had started before my birth from what my father has said. Anyway, I think that many of the Ms and Gen-Xers will protest the line, but unless they really understand the issues (hard to do with schooling, news, etc) they will only rebel a small way past the line, which means that the incrementalization of liberalism (or whatever ism they call themselves now) is winning. Not that I don’t hope that we go back to the freedoms in the constitution– I just suspect that I haven’t seen what living in the US would be like with full freedom and I was born in 1961.

    • I think by “youth culture” you mean the culture popular with the majority of the youth, but… isn’t that pretty much what’s been getting big since the 60s-ish? “Youth Culture” that idolizes youth– including the stuff you’re supposed to grow out of by the time you graduate high school?

  13. The end part there is the important point. America is exceptional because we organize around a core set of ideas, not race. As the split continues to grow on what those core ideas should be trouble will continue to grow, of which fandom is but a small reflection of the larger culture. First we stop talking to one another, then talk bad about one another, then argue with one another… Eventually the two sides become alien to each other and there will be war. God help us all, but I don’t see it happening any other way.
    The only up-side that I can see is that they’ll likely lose that final battle. As Putin has reminded us, 30,000 determined soldiers always beat 30,000 determined lawyers, or in their case, nannies.

  14. “this is an inevitable consequence of the creation of any kind of fandom,”—I think it might be a consequence of the creation of any kind of society at all. This made a little lightbulb go off in my head. I’m a homeschooling parent, and this sort of thing happens all the time on a small scale in that world. Fx someone I know is currently embroiled in a situation where for years, there has been a great inclusive group for the military homeschoolers in her area. Certain people have made a move to take over the group, institute a statement of faith (SoF), and get rid of all the people they don’t like. They can’t just start their own exclusive group, they have to destroy an existing one! I think SoFs are pure evil myself and wouldn’t sign one if there was one I could sign (but since they’re written to keep people like me out, that probably sounds like sour grapes). On a larger scale, there are people in the homeschooling world that think the whole thing should belong to them.

    Some friends and I have been talking for years about trying to fight this, and we’ve made our first tiny step by starting a blog about inclusive classical education. (It’s not much, but every time we get really ambitious our lives smack us down. We all have a lot on our plates already.) When we got annoyed over the publicity event that was the Bill Nye/Ken Ham debate, our current science week event was born.

    Anyway—this is a problem of all groups, I think. Heck, the US is having the same problem…

    • Part of the reason we didn’t homeschool except for one year was that in our area we had to do it with no support. There were two factions: 1 the unschoolers. This is fine for a certain type of kid, who learns like he breathes (and there was a certain amount of unschooling in teaching #2 son, but a kid who free-grazes on ancient Greek Drama is not exactly your average unschooler) 2- the very devout people who homeschooled to keep kids away from all evil.
      We were the parents homeschooling (and we still did that around the school hours) to teach the kids the basics, history, classical languages and civic virtues.
      We ARE religious, but we don’t think keeping the kids in a bell jar helps them be holy. And we are by default freedom-minded, but we don’t think that going to the grocery is a “social studies class”. Also we noted most of the “unschoolers” didn’t reach further than community college if they got that far, and we wanted our kids to have the STEM option, which in our area is shorter in 4 years colleges. (Our college doesn’t take most Junior college credits.)
      We had NO home.

      • I offer a mild correction, m’lady: you provided your sons what SOME of us think is the very best kind of home. You gave your support, you gave your wisdom, you gave your time AND your gave up direct control when you assessed the situation and saw that the better long-term choice for their future lay inside The System (and you still had the courage and conviction to counter-program where and as needed, on YOUR terms).

        You raised what appear to be (mostly) rational and intelligent youth who are armed with the knowledge that there are better ways out there, and you gave them the guideposts that should they choose to follow them will let them keep making their own choices making use of that rationality. And maturity beyond what many in the wider Wasteland may try to keep thinking is “beyond their years”.

        Hmmm. How to count the years of wisdom, when they are built upon a firm foundation of prior wisdom-seekers?

      • *blink* Well, I could have written that whole description. Too bad we couldn’t have been homeschooling buddies. Everybody here is unschooling hippies or conservative Christians. I have been friendly with both but we’ve never done anything much together except park days. Most of our best friends have been public schoolers, and I am a lone classical ed wolf. Although this year several of my friends started homeschooling (still not classical) and I have been running a group physics class. This is our 9th year. We are LDS and like evolution and college for female types and the first amendment, so yeah, not a lot of company.

      • You can’t keep kids away from evil. Sooner or later every one must face it.

    • When we were homeschooling about fifteen years ago we had an “inclusive” homeschooling group. It was a small community, with maybe 10-15 families. The person who considered herself the head of it threw out all of the Christian homeschoolers because they had the nerve to schedule a Christian sports activity in a time slot she considered hers. But really it was just a power thing, plus discomfort at people being Christian at all. (I think they were actually Lutheran. Really extreme…not.)

  15. Christopher M. Chupik

    You know, I’ve been checking Twitter concerning the Gaiman and Rothfuss kerfuffles, and I’ve realized that while some people are going crazy and accusing them of misogyny, most fans are either ignoring them or blissfully unaware of what a tiny minory of fanatics are doing. If they had been ignored to begin with, there would have been no problems at all.

  16. Even the reading fans can’t always have Heinlein as a reference. I just submitted a piece to the local SF writers workshop. Two asked what a “waldo” was. Even if they haven’t read the original story, I’d expect them to have heard of it as a successful prediction from a story or as an SF word adopted for a real invention. Nope.

  17. But are the popular awards worth fighting for? I’m not sure our side has ever really tried, though there are indications that previous attempts to rally readers of non-in-group books were thwarted in ways that were against the rules of the game. And yet, to quote Heinlein, “Certainly the game is rigged. Don’t let that stop you. If you don’t bet, you can’t win.”

    I’m gonna disagree with the assertion that our side has never tried to rally readers. AAMOF, ISTR a certain Baen editor getting a much-deserved nomination for Best Editor last year after the fans rallied around one Mr. Larry Correia and his attempts to solve Puppy Related Sadness. I’m not sure how many people paid their hard-earned cash in support of his idea, but in this case it must have been enough. (For the record: Yes, I believe Toni deserved the nomination whether Larry had his push or not. No, I don’t think she would have _gotten_ it. I think we all know the difference between the two.)

    I’m stuck on whether this is a good thing or not. I don’t see it as opening the eyes of any of the special snowflake crowd and making them listen. OTOH, it can’t be a bad thing and if we can get some of the “on the fence” crowd to read books by authors on our side, that’s a good thing right?

  18. The outrage over “proper politics” reminds me of the “debate” going on among cosplayers. Should only people who have the resources and phenotype to cosplay a character “properly” be allowed to play that character without ridicule and insults being heaped on them? Or can anyone adapt a costume they admire to suit their personality and body habitus? To put it another way, should SFF include only the correct thoughts as expressed by proper people, or can anyone write, sing, and dress what they like, so long as they do not advocate harm to living individuals (or scare the horses)?

  19. But a conversation requires two way communication. If the person on the other side is not willing to a) listen and b) contribute to the greater whole, there is no point to the exercise.

    That’s the problem. The other side is not willing to listen. They don’t want to engage in the conversation, they want to silence us.

    The notion of there being science fiction fans who refuse to read Robert A. Heinlein, of all people, on the grounds of imagined principle, is positively terrifying. He was a giant in the field: numerous concepts which are today taken for granted and used by everyone including those who affect to despise him were either originated in or popularized by his work.

    This attitude will detach our field from its own past, from its own discoveries, and lead us to be unable to learn from our own history. It’s what’s responsible for idiocies like Margaret Atwood’s unimaginative and derivative Handmaid’s Tale being seen as ground-breaking, when all it did was to recycle the gender stories of the 1950’s and 1960’s sf magazines, drawn out to greater length and with less likeable characters.

    Are we to blind ourselves so that we avoid non-conformity with our fellow sightless (and that references a sf story by one of the founders of the field whom the politically correct also would wish to make verboten)?

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      Actually, it amuses me to see mainstream literary authors getting so much praise for retelling stories that our genre did 50 years ago, and better. Is that the best you can do?

      • And it amuses me to see people praised as great writers in our field, whose grasp of the techniques of writing as the mainstream believe in them are so weak, they’d have trouble selling works *not* crammed full of ideas. Is that the best you can do?

        (Note: There are many great writers in our field who could, and did, make it by mainstream literary standards — I am attempting to point out that Mr. Chupik here is attempting to set up SF as the sole grading scale.)

        • Notice the implicit assumption that it’s somehow better to sell books with fewer ideas.

          • Great writing is about projecting ideas (as many are relevant), concepts and plot, and doing it in a good or breathtaking manner. Most good writers have a clear writing style and have a deep understanding about what people say, do and think. Most excellent writers have a innate sense of rhythm and poetry and a sideways take on the world. But the ideas in the story are like the meat in an egg: if there isn’t enough to fill it to the top, both the egg and the story are probably off.

        • Why would one bother to read a book with few ideas? Books are essentially conceptual — a lack of “ideas” implies that they are recycled drivel. This is actually true of genres other than SF and Fantasy as well, but a lack of ideas is especially crippling where SF and Fantasy are concerned.

          • Ideas are good but you don’t want message fic.

          • D. C. Sessions

            [quote]Why would one bother to read a book with few ideas?[/quote]

            Just to make sure we’re on the same page, what would qualify as the “ideas” (for current purposes) in Hemingway’s /The Old Man and the Sea/ ?

            • My kneejerk response is: Who would read Hemingway?

              But I’m a Neanderthal that way.

              • It could be worse.

                Example: John Steinbeck

                Yes, if Steinbeck were still alive, I probably would have issues a fatwa against him after having to slog through that crap in high school.

                • The point is conceded

                • But I liked Cannery Row and Sweet Tuesday – they were so… so California. Before 1942, of course, My parents always maintained that the place was ruined by the wartime industries. There were fruits and nuts and flakes before then – but they were under control! It was a sleepy little agricultural place (Oh, yeah – SF had delusions of intellectual grandeur, and LA had {blech} Hollywierd … but it used to be a wonderful place to live. Before simply everyone came in, and they ploughed under the orange groves to make a parking lot or a ticky-tacky cookie cutter housing developments. I weep for the California that was, sometimes. I remember it — barely — as my parents did. Read Cannery Row and Sweet Tuesday, and weep for the paradise that was lost, once every wanna-be-hipster douche found out about it.

                  I was hugely amused to visit Monterey’s Cannery Row in 1994 (on leave from a tour in Korea), and realize that they had turned it unto a yuppie tourist attraction … and that all the upper-middle-class visitors coming to gaze upon the aquarium and the other attractions make famous by John Steinbeck would have been horrified as heck by having to rub elbows with the people that he wrote about in Cannery Row – bums, whores, cannery workers, soldiers, commercial fishermen and marginal citizens. Yeah, that thought just amused the hell out of me.

                  • The thing about Steinbeck, his works made great movies. All of them I’ve seen were outstanding. I just can’t stand reading his stuff.

                • lumbercartel

                  It could be worse.

                  Example: John Steinbeck

                  What (besides being unfinished) do you have against The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights?

                  • Nothing in particular.

                    It’s all the crap he wrote that they made us choke down in high school that earned my venom. :)

              • lumbercartel

                Who would read Hemingway?

                Well, I have. The two obvious replies are:
                Who the Hell are you and why should I care?
                Why did you read Hemingway?

                Being in a charitable mood (and not looking to start fights with new acquaintences), I’ll answer the second: “High school English class.” Which is also where I read Shakespeare for the first time. Steppenwolf, on the other hand, was in German.

                However, the question as to the “ideas” in The Old Man and the Sea still stands, given that quite a few people who might be suspected of occasionally having worthwhile observations consider it well worth reading (as, in fact, I do. Not that you have any reason to consider my opion worthy of respect.) Since it’s a frequent assigned text in English lit classes, I took it as an example. We could use others if you’re not prepared to use it.

                How about Kipling’s Kim? Beowulf? A Midsummer Nights’ Dream? The Hound of the Baskervilles? Sayers’ The Nine Tailors?

    • The notion of there being science fiction fans who refuse to read Robert A. Heinlein, of all people, on the grounds of imagined principle, is positively terrifying.

      If he is as gigantic an influence as you claim, then there is no longer a need to read him — his influence has spread far enough that it is inescapable.

      The very construction of a canon — which is what you are doing here — is part of the problem; it sets up certain texts as requirements.

      Now, I happen to *like* large chunks of Heinlein, while being quite content in my opinion that when it came to politics, the man was a dishonest writer who stuck his thumb (sometimes subtly, sometimes not) on the scale of his fictions in a way as to make them politically useless at best, reprehensible at worst.

      You wish to make Heinlein mandatory, and fear when people don’t see him that way. Do you believe, to pick an author of similar stature, that Samuel R. Delany should be mandatory, as well? (Just to pick an example.)

      Because if you start to construct a canon, you have two choices — stick to your rules of construction, or acknowledge the invalidity of the concept.

      • oh good lord, you really are a nitwit. No one is suggesting Heinlein is mandatory. I’ve been a fan, I suspect, well before you were born. I’ve only read a few of his works. Enjoyed them for the most part, but they are a bit dated today.

        The problem is, twit, that people read his works written 30, 40, 50 years ago, and assume that his attitudes are comparable to todays. Yes, by today’s standards he seems a bit sexist. By the standards of 1950 he was a raving women’s libber.

        You can no more judge Heinlein’s attitudes by today’s standards than you can Rome’s.

        Idiot.

        • It needed only that. No, actually his standards aren’t dated. They just “infer” he was sexist from the fact, you know, his women want to have kids.
          Of this total idiot, I have to say: CAESAR (recovering his self-possession): Pardon him, Theodotus: he is a barbarian, and thinks that the customs of his tribe and island are the laws of nature. — George Bernard Shaw. I only add “the standards of her time.”

      • Samuel R. Delaney is not “of similar stature” to Robert Heinlein in the field of SF. He is AT LEAST two orders of magnitude below Heinlein. Heinlein is one of the Big Three: Heinlein, Asimov, and Van Vogt. Delaney doesn’t even make the second level of Bradbury, Clarke, and others.

      • If he is as gigantic an influence as you claim, then there is no longer a need to read him — his influence has spread far enough that it is inescapable.

        Incredible. The idea that because other people copy him, or copy copies of copies of him, that there’s no need (or perhaps “value” is a better word) to go to the original. No wonder there’s so much “gray goo” out there. People “influenced” by copies of copies of copies of copies, were all the life and fire has been washed out of it. And you’re left with pathetic little stories of pathetic little people living pathetic little lives striving for pathetic little ends and failing more often than not.

        And so we have the perennial panel at SF cons “what can we do to increase readership” (or variations thereof).

        • We should just start telling them the truth at those panels. “Well, you can stop fucking trying to be “respectable literature” something you have as much chance of as — Emily said — slash writers of being taken seriously by the gay establishment.”

          • I don’t want to read respectable literature*, I sure don’t want to write respectable literature. I’d love to be a pulp writer of yore.

            *Note: there are classics people consider respectable literature. And I like many classics. But they’re not classics because they’re respectable, they’re respectable because they’re classics. William, I’m looking at you, man.

          • Saw a poster at a flea market last month. It said, “Be Yourself. Everyone Else is Taken”.
            I suspect it is the same here. Serious literature has its place, but I suspect the greatest of it was not considered “really the true object” when it was written. Twain was considered just a clown on stage for example. Sir Walter Scott wrote at per-word rates. Poe wrote magazine fillers. I think they got great by being doing the best they could do in their own way, and doing it very well.

        • Back when I was first starting to write, long before i made my first sales, conventional wisdom was that there were the “big three”: Heinlein, Asimov, and Clarke. The truth was, when it came to the influence they had on the field, and on the world, there was Heinlein, and a distant second and third.

          People want to deny that these days, but they are mice nipping at the heels of lions. Of course Heinlein is dead so it’s easy for the small minds to make mock of the truly great. But that only underscores the weakness in their own soul, that they have to find validation in attempts to denigrate the accomplishments of others.

          And . . . well, I’d better stop or I might go a bit far even for Sarah’s place.

          • er, do we HAVE too far here?

          • Personally if not in the top three I would have to toss Burroughs at least in the second tier. I liked him better than any of your top three, but agree that they probably had a greater influence on SF, but his pulp style had a significant influence, possibly to include on those higher than himself.

            • Burroughs and a few others, including Doc Smith (whom, if I remember correctly, Heinlein acknowledged as one of his influences), really belong, IMO, in the generation before Heinleins. They’re not so much better or worse as a different kind of thing. Sestina as opposed to Sonnet, if you will.

              • I’d say Beam Piper deserves to be in that group with Heinlien too, but then I’m biased.

                • I think Piper would have been had his life not taken that tragic turn. The world lost a true great in that.

                  • what tragic turn? What happened to H. Beam Piper?
                    Talking of pre-Heinlein I love Jules Verne. And of course H.G. Wells.

                  • Piper was an incredible stylist too. His word flow is fantastic. I have always tried to figure out what it was he was doing with language. Three of the best American stylists were Poe, Lincoln and Twain. I think Piper was on that level.

                    • Found my daughter in bed the other day, fast asleep on her stomach, “Little Fuzzy” propped up on the headboard, with her hand propping it open to the very last page. She’d held back sleep all the way to the end, then didn’t have enough left to even set the book aside and just dropped off right there.

                      That is what I want in a book.

              • Clifford Simak. Okay, not for most people, but he was one of my major influences. Liked him better than Asimov.

              • Asimov, commenting on the “Golden Age”, observed that for him it was that generation before him that had the touch of gold.

            • I suspect (but can’t prove) that in the “what are your favorite books” scene in The Number of the Beast, the books listed “in common” for the four principles was probably Heinlein’s own list. It would actually make sense given the primary conceit of that story. And both Burroughs and Smith were on that list.

        • And you’re left with pathetic little stories of pathetic little people living pathetic little lives striving for pathetic little ends and failing more often than not.
          ^THIS!

      • If you judge fiction primarily (or even secondarily, or…um…tertiarily) based on its “political usefulness”, You’re Doin’ It Wrong.

        You’re in a cult. Get help.

        Better still, read Eric Hoffer. You won’t, of course.

      • If he is as gigantic an influence as you claim …

        As I claim? Are you completely ignorant of the history of the field before — say — 1990 or so?

        You wish to make Heinlein mandatory, and fear when people don’t see him that way. Do you believe, to pick an author of similar stature, that Samuel R. Delany should be mandatory, as well? (Just to pick an example.)

        No one is “mandatory.” But I will add that Samuel R. Delany was hardly of “similar stature” — I can think of only one idea he had which seriously influenced the field, and it was not original to Babel-17 (SF has been playing with the strong version of the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis since at least the 1950’s). Ironically, two obvious examples of this derive from “If This Goes On” and Stranger in a Strange Land — both Heinlein works, the former of which predates Babel-17 by over two decades.

        … politically useless at best, reprehensible at worst.

        Writing is supposed to be “politically-useful?” Why?

        And why is it politically-useless to notice that political power ultimately derives from force — and that one possible constitution is thus to vest the vote in veterans (which I’m guessing is the point to which you refer)? If your knowledge of history extended before 1990 or so, you might be aware that this was actually the constitution of many Classical city-states.

        • Heinlein used the Sapir-Worf hypothesis as basically a “throw off” idea at least as far back as 1951 (15 years before Babel-17) in Between Planets (“what a person does not have language for, a person cannot think about”–said in the context of Venerian Dragons having no word for “lie”, not even the concept, in their language).

          Once again, the folk dismissive of Heinlein have no idea just how much stuff is in his work.

      • lumbercartel

        [i]If he is as gigantic an influence as you claim, then there is no longer a need to read him — his influence has spread far enough that it is inescapable.[/i]

        By the same token, the influence of Homer, Shakespeare, Cervantes, the Qu’ran, or the Bible (add your own) are so influential that there’s no need to read them.

        I grew up reading Heinlein. I am not about to claim that he’s as essential to one’s cultural reference list as, for instance, Thomas Paine. Much, much less Shakespeare.

        • And you’d be wrong. PARTICULARLY if trying to make a living in sf/f.

          • Take your own writing and strike out all Biblical references with one color, Shakespears with another (etc.), and finally all Heinlein references with their own and see what the color map looks like.

            We’re more aware of Heinlein references precisely because they’re more superficial than others. Partly that’s just the stratigraphy of culture — the whole “shoulders of giants” thing — but in part because, after all, most of Heinlein is deeply contextual in Western European cuture.

            IMHO, and totally beside the point, we’re not giving nearly the credit to the editors that we should (Hi, Toni!) Asimov, among others, was good about reminding people of how much modern SFF bears the imprint of Campbell, Sturgeon, etc. Curiously we’re not discussing the influence of Campbell, though.

        • Okay, let’s use your example, if you are trying to be a Christian you don’t HAVE to read the bible. But you have to rely on someone else’s interpretation, and trust that they are not only not intentionally misleading you, but that they are understanding it correctly themselves. Now if you are just looking for an entertaining read instead of spiritual guidance you may far prefer Pilgrims Progress, and it may very well give you accurate spiritual guidance also, but you won’t know that unless you have also read the bible.

          In a similar vein I may prefer Michael Z. Williamson’s (pick your own author, I suspect you may NOT prefer Williamson) work to Heinlein’s for entertainment value, and may be useful to my cultural reference list, moreso if I am trying to write SF. And yes he has obvious Heinlein influences, but unless I read Heinlein also not only will I be reliant on others pointing out what those influences are, but I will be unaware of how Williamson may have twisted and manipulated them for his own ends.

          • lumbercartel

            Okay, let’s use your example, if you are trying to be a Christian you don’t HAVE to read the bible.

            Even if you’re not trying to be a Christian. Biblical references (along with Homeric ones, etc.) are used all through European cuture. If you don’t know them, you’re well on your way to being illiterate — stuff will constantly be going right over your head. Try sometime reading Heinlein (more or less any of them, but less so the juveniles) and flag the Biblical references. Foundational. Which was kind of the point in Potok’s My Name Is Asher Lev on much the same kind of subject we’re on here.

            So, yes, Heinlein has contributed to the cultural symbol set of Western culture and SFF culture in particular. We could argue whether Heinlein was as influential in terms of creating cultural captal as Campbell, Smith, Pohl, etc. but that’s really secondary to the fact that those cultural tokens are all over the place, and by the very virtue of their ubiquity it’s not necessary to trace them all the way back to their origins to understand the meaning that they have today — they have become language.

            Language lives. It really doesn’t matter what “gay” meant in the 19th century when you’re talking to 21st century Americans. I seriously doubt that more than a handful here have actually read Cervantes, but we all know what the others mean when someone refers to “tilting at windmills.” If Cervantes meant something else, his ghost can chime in and try to convince us that we’re wrong.

            I read the great majority of Heinlein’s canon in, as it were, real time: shortly after publication (generally less than five years — I didn’t have a big budget, nor the world’s largest librarary, when I was in school.) I will argue that because I read it more or less contemporaneously, my cultural context was closer to Heinlein’s when he wrote it than someone younger’s today would be. Maybe so, maybe no.

            But that doesn’t matter. Authorial intent doesn’t matter. Art and literature mean what they mean in the context of the viewer, reader, auditor, etc. but most of all to those who share it as words in our common language for transferring thought from one mind to another.

            So when two people discuss the film adaptation of Starship Troopers and one thinks it’s great and another thinks it was a complete distortion of the story, it’s not a matter of one being right and another being wrong. It’s that the parts of Starship Troopers that were adapted to the screen have not succeeded in embedding themselves in our language as useful tokens for communication.

          • ” it may very well give you accurate spiritual guidance also, but you won’t know that unless you have also read the bible.”

            Well, you won’t know that even if you do read the Bible because the Bible is not self-interpreting. (And, in fact, explicitly denies that anyone can just pick it up and know what it means.)

            Hmm, this could go off on a tangent rather quickly.

            • Stop it.
              I think what he means is someone could say “In the bible it says from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” WHICH some people say it’s there.
              Now, do you see?

              • lumbercartel

                If “he” is me, it’s more like understanding the zillion and one Scriptural references such as “can these bones live?” — four words that are keys to a much longer shared idea (probably not my best choice but the one that came to mind.)

                Similarly, way to many to count of Shakespear’s lines. Or Sam Clemens’.

                It’s like quoting phrases from a popular song, only there are a lot more of them and they’re a lot more durable.

              • Willful misquotations do not exhaust the possibilities of misinterpretation. There are, for instance, lots of passages about wages, such as “Behold, the wages you withheld from the workers who harvested your fields are crying aloud, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.”

                There’s a reason why Chesterton had Father Brown warn that you don’t want to read your Bible. You want to read everyone else’s Bible.

                • No. Of course. BUT there are reasons to read the most common Bible in use in the US — and not because of doctrine interpretation — but because enough of our neighbors take it literally that we want to be able to talk about what is there. Unlike, say, the poster who will not get approved who expected to astound us by reading both Heinlein and Scalzi — thereby proving he only read one, as to the article. He won’t get approved because I’ve had it up to my forehead with idiots.
                  It’s also fascinating to read the Bible (and the Torah) with historical commentary and anthropological explanation, BUT it’s not something everyone can or should undertake, unless they REALLY enjoy that sort of thing. (Sometimes. In some moods.)

                  • D. C. Sessions

                    BUT there are reasons to read the most common Bible in use in the US — and not because of doctrine interpretation — but because enough of our neighbors take it literally that we want to be able to talk about what is there.

                    Even those who don’t take it literally (or for that matter seriously as anything other than literature) are well advised to understand references such as “stranger in a strange land,” “I will fear no evil,” etc.

  20. I donno.

    Most fans never see fandom. Fandom and conventions and WorldCon fussbudgets and blogs exist in a different place than most people who read science fiction or watch TV shows and movies. (I’m here paying attention and I’m still thinking… what Rothfuss kerfuffle?) So I don’t know that it makes much difference to fans of science fiction or to a basic genre definition if a whole lot of people aren’t speaking to each other.

    The intersection of publishers and writers and writers speaking to each other may be a different sort of thing and a different sort of cross-pollination and community, and I think that might be a problem, maybe, if different “sides” stop speaking. Certainly on the creation end it doesn’t do to limit the exchange of ideas when the genre is supposed to be about ideas . A place where it is “safe” to express unpopular or even offensive “what if’s” between people who understand the need to *speculate* in freedom to create… I think we’re probably poorer for the lack.

    I *do* wish that certain people didn’t feel free to (just as a random example) go on a rant about George Bush on a con panel or (another random example) make snide anti-Christian remarks on a con panel… SF fans include lots of Christians and does it make sense to purposely exclude them? Half the population (or more) thinks that Obama is a donkey-butt, and if no one goes on an anti-Obama rant on a con panel is it because one side has good manners and the other doesn’t? Or is it because anyone who isn’t happily on a particular side of politics has been driven off and good riddance?

    But as much as it annoys me and I think it’s unnecessary, it probably wouldn’t hurt fandom much at all to have dual or even tertiary “tracks”.

    • A place where it is “safe” to express unpopular or even offensive “what if’s” between people who understand the need to *speculate* in freedom to create… I think we’re probably poorer for the lack.

      Ah, but those do not qualify as “a safe space” by the definition floating about.

      Indeed, I have read a complaint recently about people barging into places which are “safe” for expressing any idea at all, and demanding that they be made “safe space” which is to say, that they cater to the desire of PC-approved victim groups to censor.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        Today I heard about an off-campus event at one university about “diversity” but one of the organizers objected to whites wanting to attend. [Frown]

  21. Geeks are chic …

    Aaaaargh…. Now have “The geek, so chic” repeating over… and over… and over in my head.

    *tries to find the song to get rid of the earworm*

    *now has “GEEK OUT- le geek, so chic” on repeat instead*

    • Actually, that could make a pretty dang good geek anthem with very minor edits….
      Have you heard about the new fan craze?
      Listen to us, I’m sure you’ll be amazed
      Big fun to be had by everyone
      It’s up to you, it surely can be done
      Young and old are doing it, I’m told
      Just one try, and you too will be sold
      It’s called Geeking! They’re doing it night and day
      Allow us, we’ll show you the way

      (original at http://www.metrolyrics.com/le-freak-lyrics-chic.html )

  22. But are the popular awards worth fighting for? I’m not sure our side has ever really tried, though there are indications that previous attempts to rally readers of non-in-group books were thwarted in ways that were against the rules of the game. And yet, to quote Heinlein, “Certainly the game is rigged. Don’t let that stop you. If you don’t bet, you can’t win.”

    Not sure I’m saying this right, but… I think the reason the awards die is because people are “playing a game”– they can’t game the George Washington award, at least not very well or for very long, so they aim for something associated with it that they can game.

    It reminds me of some of the game guilds I’ve been in– they start as social, that builds up to successful, folks who want success come in and take over, they either die or go back to being social when it turns out you can’t get the cause from mimicking the effect.

  23. It’s the ‘war’ mentality that bothers me. I have a series with a pair of female Christians and disenfranchised nuns doing dimension travel. Plus, It refers to Judea-Christianity instead of the Roman or fifteenth century reform brand. I didn’t plan on publishing until John Ringo broke the ice with the ‘Wand’ series. I doubt if it pays him well but, it’s there. The problem is that there is Glittery Hoo Haa in every genre, creating war zones. Most Christian publishing won’t touch it because it isn’t ‘suffering for faith or Amish love’ Other Christian publishers won’t because it isn’t ‘their type of Christian’ or ‘it has strong women characters’. I don’t think I even need to mention the non-Christian publications with diversity. (Disclaimer- No, this isn’t a Toni please look at me post.) I’m learning self publishing and will probably do as well there as I would with a publisher. I doubt it pays well in any case. But, my point in all this ramble is that because of this choosing up sides with such well defined borders, writers like me are forced to start from scratch and create our own niche. Awards, cons, forgetaboutit. When writers (not the hun by any means) can get the idea that it is a big pool and it’s ok to splash around writing might actually amount to something.

    • Birthday girl

      I want to read it. Publish now !!!!!! :)

    • Actually I think the Wand books do decent for Ringo, no idea how many copies were actually sold or what his cut is, but it did well enough that they are supposedly making it into a movie.

      • That is good to know. Audience good, royalty wonderful. I’ve read the books. I once was told that Princess was an underachiever but, he believed there was room for the series to grow. Reading Queen proved it to me; but, I don’t have a way to see how it is doing in the market. Therefore, best to expect pennyworth.

    • Why not try Castalia House? I can’t honestly say that time-traveling nuns is on our wish list, but there is nothing in your description that would preclude us from considering it. And as I recall, Italo Calvino had a pretty good book that concerned a nun.

  24. Amused you think there are only two sides in SFF or the U.S.

    • I doubt anybody here actually believes in a strict dichotomy. But short-hand is useful because — well, it’s short.

      • There are two sides. The ones who want to rule, and the ones who want to be left alone. EVERYTHING else is decoration.

        • I’m not usually that stark, mostly because lots of people wouldn’t like where they fall. (Including me, in darker moments.)

          But — I wouldn’t argue.

          • To be fair, I think the commenter is trying to be “complicated” and “nuanced” which means “you don’t agree with me, you’re a terrible person” in the say the other side (eh) does.
            It’s cute and post modern and post graduate and stuff. But I got my masters 28 years ago, and I’m tired of those games. Which also don’t happen to be true.

            • You ever notice how lacking in nuance their view of nuance is? It’s NUANCE — GOOD — LACK OF NUANCE — BAD.

              One could even call it simplistic.

          • Mind you, I might be mean or cynical in this, but that type of comment, claiming unearned superiority and no explanation of terms we can debate scents strongly of the graduate student.

            • I’ve seen nothing that I doubt to this point. And the nature and tenor of the comment doesn’t lend itself to deeper analysis of a contradictory sort.

              • Google image search is helpful.

                In this case, it supported y’all’s guess, but I tried!
                (Example: she thinks “This Resnick and Malzberg piece (and the earlier pulp cover) can only be seen as a particularly egregious form of viral marketing.”)

                • *sigh*

                  I suppose it could be comforting that they’re so true to form — but it’s just sad.

                  Thanks Foxfier, you dipped a toe in the muck, now I don’t have to.

        • William Newman

          There’s also a useful distinction based on a person’s expectation of being in the ruling coalition in the near future, and/or how much pull he has in the present ruling coalition. Consider the stereotypical flips in principles of religious tolerance or rule of law or freedom of speech, or preference for deficit spending or attitudes toward procedural things like filibusters in the same individual depending on who gets to call the shots at the time. One of the things that makes human relations so entertainingly tricky is how this tends to change over time. But there is enough stability in some cases for this to be a useful regularity: some people reasonably expect to be outside any dominant energetic coalition their entire lives, while others reasonably or optimistically expect to be in a dominant energetic coalition for the foreseeable future.

      • lumbercartel

        Dichotomous shorthand is self-enforcing.

        • Expand, please. I wish to avoid the wrong conclusions and the jumping.

          • lumbercartel

            An oblique reference to the observation that there are two kinds of people: those who divide people into two groups and those who don’t.

            Alternately, when people view the world as dichotomous, they act in ways that enforce those dichotomies (which often boil down to “us” and “them,” along various dimensions. Or fracture lines, if Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is your cup of tea.)

            • Okay, I’m tiptoeing here in reference to a concept I discussed earlier about cultures and visitors and such.

              Let me state from the outset, I choose my language, particularly online, to facilitate communication (doesn’t mean I succeed, by the by). There simply isn’t room to work out the deeper intellectual allusions in someone else’s comment section. I aim for a conversational style, in general.

              So, I can read your comments in a few ways, and I’m looking to determine which way is your intent. I’m not sure where you’re coming from, and we’ve had some disingenuous visitors of late and it’s possible I’m sensitive as a result.

              If you’re simply noting that dichotomy of language may reinforce dichotomy of thought: yes and no. Most folks around here are comfortable with reducing broad concepts to short-hand with the implicit understanding of greater nuance. They do so understanding the varied background of their fellows and because of a shared history wherein acknowledgement of the wider world has been established. And because we occasionally beat each other about the head with our varying understandings. Thus my “short-hand” comment in response to the smugly amused previous interloper. From my perspective this is a superfluous observation given my prior comment.

              If you’re aiming at a wider meaning, or a subtle or nuanced barb, or just a droll comment derived from intellectual premise — well, you’ll have to expand a bit. I try (and frequently fail) to avoid reading into people’s comments, and in particular new folks.

              If you’re comfortable that you’ve accomplished your goals, feel free to disregard.

    • And I am amused that you think coming by and leaving a one sentence comment is sufficient or in any way adds anything to the discussion.

      • Amanda truly dislikes drive-by commenting.

        NTTAWWT.

        • LOL. Only the one or two line comments that don’t even rise to the level of good trolling. ;-)

          • Good trolls are hard to find.

          • Amanda –
            Actually, a friend really liked the post and recommended it on his Facebook timeline, and so I came by to read it. And, yes, it has been edifying.

            Eamon –
            Sorry you had to do an image search. My openly displayed, quite distinctive surname would have been a much quicker search term.

    • Reject the default “TWO SIDES PATRIARCHY” !!!

      • Is that like a binary singular gender?

      • Don’t you just love it when they have their neat little dichotomony of masculine/dichotomony/either-or vs. feminine/unity/both-and?

        Which fails even on the grammatical level, since they omit both the neuter and neither/nor.

  25. When it comes to dealing with the aggressively-entitled special snowflakes who are indulging what I like to call “the meddlesome impulse”, I try to treat their actions and desires in the same manner that the Internet (in general) tries to treat censorship: I see it as evidence of damage, and I try to route around it.

    I suspect a great many other people who spend their hard-earned money on science fiction (which is a MUCH larger pool than the vocal minority that makes up “fandom”) tend to do it the same way.

  26. I’ve been reading the comments for 10 minutes now, and I think that a lot of you are missing what Toni is saying.

    • My understanding is that shes saying we need to work to make the major awards more representative of what people, i.e. the book-buying readers, think is good. And that it is worth the effort to fight rules-breaking or vote rigging (if it occurs). And that fans should once again have a voice, all fans, not just the “right kind” of fans. Those of us who can probably ought to try to talk to people at Cons and gently point out that the “right kind” are not the book-buying majority, and that SFF came from fans and lives or dies by all fans. HunCon would be fun, but we need to work with everyone else as well, like the Monster Hunters and Honorverse people do.

      But I could have misread. My brains been roaming the marshes of the Drava River in the mid 1500s today.

    • It’s the god given right of every commentor to talk about something else. :)

      Okay, so maybe most of the comments were sort of… “That would be nice, but…”

      I appreciated the post and what Toni is saying and appreciate that she took the time to write it and share.

    • No, we understand she was sayi…. LOOK, SQUIRREL!

    • Still digesting it. Read the thread over on Baen’s Bar, read comments here, dropped a few short comments, but it bears thinking on, still.

      I may not see the same thing in Toni’s words as you do, sir. But I do see Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy in the recent nastiness. I see the increasing disconnect between “us” and “them.” I see the consequences of that disunity, that lack of meaningful communication, and they worry me.

      Science fiction is a thing, a big thing, big enough to encompass non-binary gender, guns and monsters, heroism, adventure, and exploding spaceships. Fandom will always have its subgenres. When I was young, there were Trekkies and Star Wars fans, there was Heinlein, Asimov, and more. Friction is bound to happen, we’re human beings- both flawed and virtuous by turns.

      Like Mike above, I don’t want to hound anyone out, or lay rules that exclude folks that don’t think like me. Like story over message, I like the idea of science fiction (the cool thing we all pretty much like) better than I like mocking the other side. That’s in part why I looked into the Hugos, because I like good storytelling (and sci-fi!). The Crusade for Ending Puppy-Related Sadness and getting Toni nominated was pretty cool, too.

      What is good about sci-fi? I think it’s cardinal virtue, or one of them, is that sense of wonder and excitement about the future. Space, technology, how people react to and adapt to these new and different things and ideas (familiar, yet not the same). That is neither solely “us” nor “them” alone, but all of us. Good story has no message mallet. People will interpret the story in their own way. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this.

      Storytelling done well has broad appeal. Recognizing that high quality and broad appeal is what a good award does. That’s our best work. It’s often the hook that draws in folks from that pool of competing entertainment (beer, television, gaming, etc). The award for best novel should go to the story that’s best able to sucker in those poor schmucks and get them hooked on that sense of wonder we all delight in. Or it should if it’s going to mean anything, in my opinion.

      To be honest, I’m more disappointed in the recent shenanigans than anything. It’s not doing sff any favors in the wider world outside fandom. You know, those potential schmucks that might be buying our books someday. I don’t have any answers either. But it’s got the old head engine a-turning, at least for me. Maybe some smart person out there will come up with an answer that works.

      Anyways, that’s still being thought on. As for the future, well, we’ll see. That sense of wonder and excitement is a well that ain’t run dry yet. Tempered with prudence, of course.

  27. For what it’s worth, many of us involved in conrunning are committed to diversity, not just of gender, race, nationality, but also of politics and religion. From a programming perspective, I think having people of different views makes for more entertaining panels; limits are more about people’s personality issues than their politics; in fact a lot of convention program directors put much more weight on how well someone can speak to a crowd or cooperate with other panelists than anything to do with the person’s interests or political views.

    Even the most my-way-or-the-highway conrunners tend to say “If you can do better, run your own con and show us.” In their minds, that’s not exclusionary, that’s just an incentive to get people to volunteer and/or get organized separately.

    For myself, I put a lot of effort into building bridges and tearing down walls..To authors, and fans, I want to suggest getting to know some other author, or fan, who is plugged into the convention circuit, who knows how things work, and who knows who to talk to to get problems resolved. Cons are hard work by small groups of volunteers, many of us who are doing the work don’t have all the information to understand some issues that come up, and it’s very helpful (to me at least) to have input from a diverse range of people. Many of us think it’s worthwhile for people with an interest in science fiction to come together, in person, and we do what we can to include as many people, as many different people, as possible.

    • From certain angles, “bridges” can look like and act like walls.

    • Bluntly, Alex: Show me. Show us that you really want to be more representative, (rather than ‘diverse’ – which means 0.000000001% minority segment of the population gets the same clout as 50% of the population in programming etc. which really means you do very well at attracting the 0.00000001%, and the 50% have no interest.) Do some finding out what your attendees actually are. Compare that to the probable reading demographic. If the two don’t match quite closely, you’ve got some people to build bridges to. I think you’ll find that many cons have become very insular.

      • Well I have in fact talked to fans, in person, all over the world and in more than half the states, and the numbers that matter show that I do in fact know how to appeal to a wide cross-section of fandom. When I was program director for a NASFiC, we had Toni Weisskopf from Baen Books as our editor guest, and at a more recent Worldcon that I had been on the board of directors for, we invited Mike Resnick as the author guest. Other people work hard to encourage diversity of gender and racial background, I work hard to encourage diversity of interest and opinion at conventions. Even where I’m not an active concom member I endeavor to stay in communication and share opinions with many local groups I’ve been involved with, and I’m not at all unique in doing so.

        Some cons have insular people, and I think it’s okay for different cons to appeal to their local communities or to target certain audiences or interests. But I see specific conventions as just a subset of fandom in a particular region, and regions just a subset of the global continuum of fandom. The key is for people in different areas and across different regions to talk to each other. That’s what I’ve been advocating for thirty years. I agree that some cons would benefit from being more open to input, which is why I work hard to build and maintain channels of communication, both technically and socially.

        I’m just saying I’m listening, and I’m hardly the only one If people have ideas for program ideas or program participants for next year’s Worldcon, we have a link at http://sasquan.org/program/idea-form/. You want to talk about how any other convention can be improved, tell me the con and I’ll try to find someone to talk to.

        • Here’s a suggestion. Next time someone cries about how they feel unsafe because of a host or author who has ZERO track record of violence against anyone who didn’t start it, cons start telling people to put on their big person pants and deal with it.

          Some of us actually get death threats from people who attend some of these cons, and we still go because they’re awesome. However, if we don’t feel unsafe, maybe people who have some issue with a host will talk about the issue instead of crying about how unsafe they feel despite there being no evidence of a threat.

    • “Even the most my-way-or-the-highway conrunners tend to say “If you can do better, run your own con and show us.” In their minds, that’s not exclusionary, that’s just an incentive to get people to volunteer and/or get organized separately.”

      Or more likely, it’s a way of getting all the inconvenient people they can’t order around to board the “B-Ark”.

      • Heh. My response has never been “start your own convention / company and show me”, it’s been. “I’m so glad you want to help make this better. Why don’t you volunteer for [boring and tedious, often dirty/hot/freezing] detail, and help us improve?”

        You see, instead of brushing off the complainer so they can run to their friends and declaim how uncaring Those In Power are, this challenges them, and they gain no victim points for turning me down. And sometimes, they really surprise me and take me up on the offer. And sometimes, it turns out after getting some food and sleep, that I was being a closed-minded crankypants (or, you know, extremely focused on the plan and not open to alternative suggestions). And if the person’s still around, and has proven they’re serious and willing to work instead of complain, I just might put them in charge of coming up with an alternate plan and running a trial to see if it’s better.

        (And sometimes, even if it turns out not to be a better way, I promptly put them in something that is working well anyway. This happens if they’ve proven to be reliable, competent, and useful. Rare birds, those – but worth the effort of not brushing off the many to find the few!)

  28. So what can be done to bridge the divide? Would just putting the fun back into cons be enough? I know I’d make an effort to go to places where I can have a good time with my kind of people – which could include any number of “tribes” I belong to. And boy, oh boy, had I known about the con circuit when I was young and single… well, I’d probably have had one more place to make a fool of meself in front of the ladyfolk.
    There’s no figure central enough or trusted enough now to reach out to everyone, as Toni mentioned. Top-down enforcement of unity is abhorrent, not to mention doomed to failure. So all we have is a friendly guerrilla campaign to draw the disparate fandoms and factions into some common ground of entertainment. How do we do that?

    • Volunteer for your con, to gofer or for the staff or the con-com and advocate for inclusion and expansion of the fan base at meetings and stuff. Just to get that concern out there… how do we get more people in here? How do we appeal to the next generation? How do we make sure parents are comfortable bringing their kids? How do we make everyone feel welcome, even Orson Scott Card fans?

      There is also fan-programming if you think there is an unserved group that might enjoy your particular niche with you.

      It can be a little intimidating but it’s worth a try.

      • I guess I’m really looking for answers to those questions you asked. That way when we go to con-coms, clubs, etc. we have suggestions in hand in case we get deer-in-the-headlights in response. I’m particularly thinking about that first one, since bringing people in is the first step to building or expanding a community.

        • Well, a good plan is good. :)

          I think that asking the questions is good, too, though, even if you don’t have an answer because the underlying assumption is assumed… which is annoying when it’s not working *for* you because assumptions are hard to dislodge.

          So, in a way it’s playing dirty. But presenting an assumption that the con and fandom and the genre as a whole is strengthened by caring about not offending people you think are silly, and getting more people to come who might not feel welcome, and keeping it about science fiction and fantasy in all it’s flavors… that’s more or less what that fellow (goes to check) Bob Tucker was saying.

          • ” caring about not offending people you think are silly,”

            Why do you limit it? Why is it just fine to offend people outside the groups you so offensively name “people you think are silly”?

            • I doubt you’ll ever see this but… huh? WTF and why would you read that as an exclusionary limit to a set?

    • We just went through the “suggest panel topics” thing for next year… that’s a good toe in the door to aim for, too. Suggest guests of honor… even if you don’t get your pick, it puts it out there that, yes, some people would really love to meet John Ringo, you *exist*, and you read books.

    • Rah rah the Oyster’s back!

  29. I’ve been to one or two real science-fiction conventions, over the years. Couple of anime things, and I think one that we could describe as a comic-book convention.

    I don’t think I’ll attend another one, ever.

    There’s honestly something really disturbing to me about the level many fans take things. Guys, these are ‘effing stories.

    They’re supposed to be fun, light entertainment, maybe a little thought-provoking at their best.

    They’re not supposed to be the obsessive centers of your own self-created universe of personal dysfunction.

    They’re not supposed to be fodder for “critical analysis” or the pants-fillingly scary obsessiveness you see with a lot of the fans and self-declared “critics”.

    There’s fun, and then there are guys like this:

    http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/news/national/role-of-costume-play-online-videos-questioned-in-f/nd85R/

    The idiots who are doing all this SFWA BS are equally insane, just in a different direction. They’re obsessives who can’t separate story from reality; the dream has become all too real to them. They actually think their ravings about gender-normative writing mean something, and that they’re influencing the world. Worse yet, they think they’re doing it in a positive way.

    I’ll stick to the internet, and leave the open-house days at the mental institution to the people who are willing to subject themselves to that sort of abuse. God help those that have to attend these things because of business concerns, but I have to wonder, what’s the moral burden you take on by catering to the mentally ill, and profiting from it?

    Is it worth the ethical price? At some point, you have to wonder: Are you responsible, for example, for some obsessive Otaku spending all his money on merchandise for your anime?

    http://en.rocketnews24.com/2014/02/15/anime-fans-level-of-obsession-is-a-lot-funnier-than-the-reason-hes-selling-his-collection/

    Do you have a moral responsibility because some idiot listened to their Deriddean college professor’s lunatic ravings, and then based their entire life on trying to analyze what some writer who was trying to feed his wife and cats wrote for commercial sale? Do we have a moral burden for enabling these dipshits? In a way, I think we almost do–We perhaps have done too good a job of building our little worlds, and haven’t paid attention to the fact that some out there are vulnerable to being trapped inside them.

    How about if our victims are cocooning themselves isolated in their rooms, cuddled up to the body pillow emblazoned with their favorite character?

    http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/98910-Korean-Otaku-Marries-Anime-Body-Pillow

    Or, even a character from a video game?

    http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/96341-Japanese-Man-Marries-Videogame-Girlfriend

    When you reach a point where your artwork becomes such an active and key component in another human being’s mental illness, you really have to wonder if you are not at least somewhat complicit in creating and supporting their derangement.

    It becomes particularly disturbing when you profit from it.

    They’re stories, people. You can maybe influence a few people with them, by virtue of the narrative, but in the end, it’s entertainment. That’s all it’s supposed to be, all that it really is, at the fundamental root of it all.

    The amount of emotional and mental capital that some fans imbue these things with is flat-out frightening. The guys whose stories I link to above? How many like that are out there? And, just how much do the glittering hoo-hahs of the SFWA have in common with them? I’d say, quite a lot–But, along another axis.

    Frankly, I wonder just how many lives we’ve essentially destroyed with our creations. I think there is an obvious analogy to make, between drug abuse and fandom: Some can handle it, and some cannot. The people running the SFWA obviously cannot, much as the more dramatic victims I linked to above could not.

    • In a word: No.

      The best answer to this sort of question — which I’ve heard to very nearly all types of popular media — came from Dennis Miller, speaking to parents blaming rock musicians for the behavior of teenagers. “If your kid is so lacking in a sense of self that he can be moved to suicide by anything Gene Simmons has to say, YOU have failed your job as a parent.” (I admit that I may have mangled this; I’m quoting from memory)

      I live in a civilization where arrested development and immaturity is actually praised and sought after in some quarters. The only way I could be certain that something I’ve done/said/written cannot set a borderline mental case off is to do/write/say nothing; to have not interaction with any human being in anyway whatsoever. That is no sort of life.

      I take responsibility for what I do. What a total stranger decides to do because of his interpretation of my short story is his responsibility.

      • Amen.

        Though I’ve been hesitant to write my series where power comes from (animal. Well, mostly) blood sacrifice because, well… fandom.

        • IIRC, Harlan Ellison wrote an essay, “Xenogenesis” (I think that’s the title) about 20 years ago that touches on this subject. He was writing about the jerks, like the guy who throws a punch at an author at an autograph table to register displeasure with the author’s latest story, or the ones who think throwing a pie in the face of a GoH during a panel is the stuff memories are made of. The fen who think they have a perfect right to do this because, y’know, they’re fen — and where would the writers be without them?

          Add politics to that sort of attitude, and you’ve pretty much got what we’re seeing now.

        • “Though I’ve been hesitant to write my series where power comes from (animal. Well, mostly) blood sacrifice because, well… fandom.”

          Sarah, the sort of fen you’re worrying about are ticking time bombs anyway. SOMETHING is going to set them off; a TV show, a web site, a low-flying bird — something!

          • True. Though now I’ll also get the PETA protesters…

            • PETA protestors? A badge of honor.

              • Dang. Beaten to the punch (line) twice in one morning.

              • lumbercartel

                “PETA protestors? A badge of honor.”

                Right up until they firebomb your home or your kids’ school. And, no, that’s not speculative fiction.

                • So you’re saying that they’re more fanatical and competent than the Islamic Jihadists? Do you also think that we should be afraid of PETA?

                  • I wouldn’t say we should be more afraid, but that’s mostly a matter of resources and numbers.

                    If there was any justice, there would be a LOT more terrorist (and criminal gang) prosecution of eco-terrorism.

                  • lumbercartel

                    No, I’m saying that the “PETA protesters” have an actual track record of actual violence and deadly force. It’s all well and good to stand for freedom of speech, refusal to bow to threats, etc. I admire that and have, once or twice, put some skin on the line in small ways for those principles.

                    It’s something else when yours is not the only skin in question. So as much as I admire people who will flip off the fanatics, I have nothing but respect and sympathy for those who choose not to because they have other responsibilities.

        • The cosplay would be awesome.

    • Whoa there, mister.

      Here’s how much responsibility that an author has toward someone who takes their creaton and makes it the center of their weird universe.

      ZERO. Nada. Zip. Zilch. None.

      Are there crazy fans out there? Absolutely. Are there people who spend too much money or become over-invested emotionally in something? You better believe it. That is not the author’s fault or responsibility. The fan has the right to be as passionate as they want about their chosen property and a corresponding responsibility to take care of themselves. To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, if it neither breaks my leg nor picks my pocket, it’s really not my concern. Is it sad that some guy finds more emotional connection to his body pillow than he does to another human being? Yes. But that’s not the author’s / artist’s fault. Do authors and artists have an influence? Absolutely. But it’s not their fault that some people go cuckoo crazy when millions of others are able to enjoy the property and still carry on productive lives.

      By your logic, gun manufacturers’ hands are covered in blood because some people use their wares to kill innocents.

      That’s point one.

      Point two – you’re contradicting yourself. First, you say that authors have some kind of responsibility to crazy obsessed fans who destroy their lives, and in the same comment you say that stories don’t have an influence on the world. Art does makes a difference. Stories make a difference. And the authors do, IMNSHO, have some responsibility for the message they’re sending out to the culture at large.

      Just, in 99.9999% of cases, it doesn’t lead to guys marrying pillowcases. That guy is nuts, and that’s not the author’s fault.

      You shouldn’t say that stories don’t influence the world, either for good or for ill, because that is demonstrably not true. There’s a reason that one of the places Soviet agitprop went was into the theatres. (Been reading some really interesting things about Sartre, and Bertolt Brecht keeps getting mentioned, and… well…) Why do you think the Nazis and the Soviets made so many propaganda films? Had such striking artwork? Why are there so many statues of Lenin? Why do you think a number of the projects of FDR’s NWA were art-related? What’s up with all that stuff plastered all over Rockefeller center? Why have monuments to Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson? What’s with that honking big statue in NYC harbor? They’re there because art makes a difference. Stories make a difference.

      • I probably should have made it more emphatic that that post was intended to come from an angle somewhat along the axis of satire. And, that it was also written from a “Devil’s Advocate” point of view, as well. It was also written way late at night, when I felt sick as a dog and couldn’t sleep.

        Although, there are a lot of fans I’ve met who just disturb the living crap out of my hindbrain. I’ve been in some truly hinky situations over the years, but one of the ones that set off the most of my warning receptors all at once happened in an underground garage near a convention I was visiting for a day. I’ve never been around such a massive concentration of sheer “weird” in my life as with that bunch of idiot vampire wannabes I found myself surrounded by. I’ve never wanted to draw a gun in self-defense, but that was one occasion where I seriously thought I was going to have to. Still don’t have an idea what those idiots thought they were doing, other than scaring the hell out of people for the fun of it. I’ve been around enough “crazy” to be able to identify the dangerous kind from the harmless, and those idiots were just reeking of the genuine, found-only-in-wards-containing-the-criminally-insane kind of crazy. The girl they grabbed in front of me literally peed her pants in fear, and I can’t blame her a bit for doing it. Had that happened to me, I honestly don’t know what I would have done in reaction, but it would have been a massively violent over-reaction. As it was, I thought it was just some role-players doing their thing, until I got up close and found they’d just grabbed some random cute chick for the hell of it, and to see her fear reaction. The looks on the faces of the three idiots I took to be the ringleaders? They were soaking in the terror like it was sex, practically orgasmic.

        But, all that aside: You do realize that you’re echoing the same argument that the illegal drug industry makes on behalf of their products? “Oh, we’re not responsible for the abuses… Everyone is an adult, everyone is responsible for their own actions…”.

        Except that there are people out there who can’t separate fiction from reality. And, you make the same “mistake” that I make in my piece: If the narrative has the power you say it has in your last paragraph, then the implications are that you have a responsibility as an author or creator for what you put out there in the world, do you not? You can’t say “Oh, this is harmless entertainment, I’m not responsible for what people do with it…”, and simultaneously say “The narrative is powerful, and can change the world with through that power…”.

        If you actually believe both positions, that would make you an irresponsible monster, no?

        What’s the line from Spiderman? “With great power comes great responsibility…”, yes?

        I actually have to applaud Sarah for acknowledging this fact, and not writing animal sacrifice into a series. I’ve no doubt that it would sell, to certain segments, but I fear where those segments would take it.

        I still see a connection between the SFWA glittery hoo-hah types, and the overly-obsessive fans. Two sides to the same die, similar obsessiveness and madness, just expressed somewhat differently.

        • I have got to get better at reading those sarc tags.

          Yes, I do think authors have a responsibility for the messages they put out and their impact on the greater culture. Some individual fans, however, are crazy. And that’s not the author’s fault.

          For ex, I don’t blame James Cameron for people who paint themselves blue and run around in the forest trying to recreate Pandora. Those people are crazy, and they would have keyed off something. In this case, it was Cameron’s movie. That is, though the movie may have been the proximate cause for naked, blue painted idiots traipsing about the foliage, it’s not the ultimate cause of said frippery, and not his fault.

          I do blame James Cameron for making a stupid movie that uses every cliche in the book and takes puerile swipes at the military and at western values and civilization. “Human beings killed our mother Earth?” PFUI! And my response is to (holy cow when will I ever have the time to) write more, better stories, and never watch Avatar (or the projected sequels) again.

          In my head, at least, there’s a difference.

          • At two in the morning, I should have headed that with something like “A Modest Conception…”, and signed it “Jonathan Slow”.

            I do think there’s something to the argument. And, I think that advancing technology is going to make this a moral issue for all creators to consider: What are your responsibilities when you manage to create a real-world Lotus-Eater’s machine? One that’s so attractive, so fun to live in, that the audience doesn’t want to leave?

            One of the things about the Star Trek universe I found really annoying was that they never really addressed the implications of the HoloDeck technology, and what the likely ramifications would be on society.

            My guess is that there will be an entire segment that is vulnerable to these things, and which would rapidly breed itself out of the population. Unless whatever world is created within the HoloDeck is so attractive to so many people that the entire society eventually takes part in it.

            I’d further guess that many of these obsessive Otaku types are going to be in the first wave of those that self-select for being bred out. Sort of how populations encountering a new drug go through a period of weeding out those who are susceptible to its lures…

            • Oh, how many times have I been reminded of this safety film – http://www.hulu.com/watch/4510.

              OTAKUS BEWARE!

            • Well, the Holodeck story would have be an interesting one, but clearly not the only one possible.

              Me, I’m working on a far future story. Humanity is different then. One thing I do to figure it out is notice differential fertility in the modern world, which is the driving force of evolution. That is going to cause some changes.

              • lumbercartel

                One thing I do to figure it out is notice differential fertility in the modern world, which is the driving force of evolution.

                Well, there’s k as well as r. Not to mention carrying capacity.

                • Nowadays, child mortality before reproductive age is not a significant factor compared to parental fertility.

            • You’re describing a self-correcting problem, assuming the rest of us can be sufficiently dispassionate about it. People who are easily addicted to fully-immersive VR will auto-Darwinate. Those left to breed will be those with the character and/or values to resist the addiction. The transition is likely to be difficult, but probably not violent. Just lots of people dropping out and plugging in, similar to the story in Sword Art Online (great anime if you haven’t seen it).

        • With so many individual flavors of evil and eccentricity out there, how could any writer know where to draw the line? Something Borderline Fan A wouldn’t even notice might punch all of Borderline Fan B’s buttons at once. Being neither clairvoyant, nor precognitive, the only way to be certain of doing no harm is to write nothing. Not publishing wouldn’t guarantee anything; I might not be able to destroy my unpublished manuscripts before my death, and who knows how they might affect someone who stumbled upon them afterwards? It would be necessary to never write at all.

          • The kind of thing I’m referencing is the Otaku phenomena in Japan. I’ve read a couple of thoughtful essays by a couple of different anime and manga creators who’ve looked at the results of what the fans and the marketers have done, and have been sickened by it all. One I remember from a few years back was saying he was leaving the industry, because he could no longer stand the idea that he was making money off of the damaged lives of these so-called hikikomori.

            It’s an interesting moral question: Where do you draw the line? Should you be concerned when you manage to create an imaginary world, a lotus-eater’s mental paradise, one that is so alluring that many people prefer to live in your imagination than in the real world? Do you have a responsibility to them?

            The obsessive SFWA types are a sub-class of this group. They’ve managed to become so thoroughly enmeshed in this stuff that they actually think their ravings somehow create reality. They take offense from things that the authors were writing simply to make a living, and characterize those writers as being fascist, merely based on the stories they wrote as being ideas for entertaining stories. Anyone who seriously thinks that Heinlein was exposing his true thoughts on politics in his story writing for profit is clearly insane, and yet this mass of idiots out there does that same foolish thing with all writers, all the time.

            It’s like reading S.M. Stirling’s Draka series, and then postulating that Stirling is some kind of frustrated white supremacist slave-owner wannabe. They can’t conceive of an author picking up an idea, and carrying it out to a logical conclusion simply as a thought exercise.

            And, why is that? It’s because they can’t do that for themselves. What they write, they believe–And, in their minds, everyone else is exactly the same. They simply cannot distinguish between fiction and reality–It’s all equally valid, equally true. What they write becomes fact, in their minds.

            A lot of these people are just as mentally ill as that werewolf character I reference earlier, simply along a different axis.

            • There is actually a long established field of ethics– a sub group of cooperation with evil.

              Short form, don’t temp people to evil– and self destruction is evil– but you are also not to blame if someone misuses what you made to do evil.

              Figuring out the most prudent course is of course a lot, lot, LOT more complicated.

              The guys who quit their series because they are worried about some fans have my admiration– I’m not sure I’d have the integrity to follow my conscience like that.

            • Let’s step away from the abstract and turn to the concrete here, for an example. Let’s say I create the wiring harness in an airplane. Let’s say I do a bad job, it fails, the plane crashes and everyone dies. Am I responsible? Oh, by all that’s holy, absolutely! I am in the wrong, legally and morally!

              Now, if I did a great job on the wiring harness, and everything was working perfectly right up until the moment the pilot flew into a cloud-shrouded mountain at cruise speed because he made an error in judgement, am I at fault? Oh, by all that’s holy, absolutely NOT! I built something that was sound and good, and it was used by someone to do wrong – but that is not the fault of the instrument used!

              To return to the abstract, authors are responsible for the stories they release upon the world. They are responsible for their tone and content (and if indie-pubbed, their editing, grammar, cover art and blurb.) Is Heinlein responsible for Our Gracious Hostess’ American citizenship? No, not really. He’s responsible for the stories that she then used to form her actions, but not her actions themselves. She is responsible for her actions.

              But what of the children? If there was a child in the back seat of the airplane when a pilot flew into the mountain, isn’t it my fault now? The child had no say, and no legal or moral responsibility for the plane’s crash! And yet, if I built good wiring, it still is not my fault. It is the fault of the pilot. The surviving parent will blame himself for the rest of his life for the responsibility of letting the child and spouse go on that plane, but he, too, does not bear the blame for the crash.

              Still a damned shame. Still a heartbreaking, socked-in-the-guts shock and sorrow and haunted feeling when you look at your work even after the investigation returns the facts… but the mechanic was not at fault. I… the mechanic could not possibly have affected the outcome.

              Sarah is responsible for her decision whether or not to release a story featuring animal sacrifice as a way to power upon the world. She’s chosen a different route. That’s her choice, and her responsibility to write the story she thinks is best. What seriously unhinged people do with a story, is not her responsibility. What people who take her work as a challenge to live life bolder and better and make a brighter future do, is still not her responsibility. Doesn’t keep her from feeling involved and haunted or elated by it, because artists and technicians put their heart and soul and pride into their work.

              But every single person is, ultimately, responsible for their own decisions, actions, words, and the fruits of their own labor, and the deists and buddhists believe that we will, in the end, have to answer for it. (May G-d have mercy on my soul.)

  30. I appreciate your argument, really, but there has to be a limit to how far I am responsible for others. I take responsibility for what I put into a story. I would not write pr0n because I do not want to cater to that audience, and the same with some other genres. However, I cannot take responsibility for what an unbalanced or intellectually stunted individual — whom I will likely never meet — brings to the experience of reading one of my stories. Without knowing that person, and his particular quirk, I cannot know what will set him off. The only way to never risk such a thing is to never write.

    H.P. Lovecraft was not to blame for the number of readers who were convinced that the Necronomicon actually existed. Should he have stopped writing once he became aware of their existence? Should he have never written at all because they might have been out there somewhere?

    I repair and maintain computers for a living. Do I share responsibility if someone uses a computer I repaired to commit a cybercrime?

  31. I’m not sure why we can’t create competing organizations and events. Not exclusive organizations and events, but ones that are better run and more attentive to the needs of the people in the field and to fandom in general.

    My agent suggested I join SFWA, and I did. After spending about 2 hours on their boards I pretty much gave up. Why can’t we create a competing organization that actually does something SFWA does very poorly, promote writer’s careers? I was briefly a member of the MWA and I can tell you they are far better organized than SFWA,

    db

  32. [synthgeek] JX-8P + dX-7 [/synthgeek]

  33. Cross-posting from Scalzi’s blog, with edits. (while waving a white flag!). This is my first time posting here.

    Scalzi said:

    Well, I think the argument Ms. Weisskopf is positing is a fandom as she/they think it should be, or else disengagement.

    To which I responded:

    She is not positing anything. She is predicting that SF fandom will fracture along political lines – an outcome she does not want to see happen, and hopes to avoid – unless both sides begin communicating with each other, and by that I do not mean grossly misinterpreting each others’ words and ascribing the worst and most ulterior possible motives. (Remember when you said, in the context of private communications, “the failure mode of clever is asshole?” Doesn’t it apply in public, too?)

    And for everyone here (and there:)

    These words of Ms. Weisskopf could come from either side of the fandom debates:

    …[T]he core of science fiction, its method, is still a valid way of creating the cultural artifacts we want. But is it necessary to engage those of differing political persuasions to get this method? I feel the answer is probably yes [emphasis mine]. You don’t get a conversation with only one opinion, you get a speech, lecture or soliloquy. All of which can be interesting, but not useful in the context of creating science fiction. But a conversation requires two way communication. If the person on the other side is not willing to a) listen and b) contribute to the greater whole, there is no point to the exercise.

    In other words, I think both sides are misunderstanding arguments and motives. Not intentionally, and certainly not maliciously, but misunderstanding them all the same. Ms. Weisskopf – and I, too – wants to be able to have an ongoing conversation between two factions who, IMO, should not even be factions. Yet judging from Scalzi’s response – and the vast majority of the responses here and there, majorities on both sides do not appear interested in communication, or understanding. Both sides are reverting to easy stereotypes and caricatures of the other, pulling words and phrases out of context, and poisoning wells like we were in the middle of Love Canal. Disagreements are turning into feuds, offense is being taken where none is intended. One side sees the other as trying to use its power to exclude the voices and demean the contributions of women and minorities to the fandom – and that ain’t so. One side sees the other as trying to suppress all voices in and contributions to the fandom that do not comply with ideologically-imposed restrictions and double standards – and that ain’t so, either. But if both sides of this fandom keep jeering at the other, assuming the purity of their own motives and the baseness of the other’s, and systematically closing open forums to dissenting views… then the fandom will split, and both sides will be poorer for it.

    Ms. Weisskopf, thanks for your words. I’m sorry that so few people seem willing to take you up on them. Ms. Hoyt, if you want me to stay off this board, I will gladly go.

    • No problem with you. We’re not trying to excommunicate anyone, unless you come in calling us names and making bizarre political definitions. This blog is a broad church. I’m closest to don’t-thread-on-me libertarian constitutionalist, but my commenters run the gamut from soft left to… heaven knows what.
      I will confess that until now I’ve made fun of the other side because the arguments are frigging insane. I’ve heard someone saying they were afraid of attending a con a colleague will be attending — a colleague who is at best a centrist and one of the nicest men I know — because “he’s conservative” and this makes her “afraid” — head>desk.
      You can’t take that type of thing seriously. You have to laugh at it.
      I find that Mr. Scalzi’s attitude reminds me of my cat, Miranda, who will beat up on the other cats while screaming like she’s being hurt. But he likes fights, and like wrestling with a pig it’s not worth my time.
      I’m not in a fight. Toni is not in a fight. He can scream and holler all he wants to. Me? I have books overdue and Toni would rather I wrote those.
      Incidentally, WHAT POWER? There has been no power to exclude minorities and women from fandom. I tell you who is screwing up women and minorities (Hi, I’m Latin. Hoyt is my married name.) NYC publishers. I had to fight to be allowed to write anything but fantasy because “ladies write fantasy” said my publishers. And they could promote me big if I wrote about my “struggle.”
      These are not conservatives, except in the sense that they’re the side in power, and the conventional side.
      If the people creating this commotion are really worried about women and minorities, encourage indie and shame their all too conventional publishers. (Not Baen. Baen doesn’t think my thoughts are determined by what’s between my legs or the fact I tan.)

      • This is the second time you wrote don’t-thread-on-me. I believe you mean don’t TREAD on me. Although I won’t put sutures in you unless you ask for it, just in case. ;)

      • “These are not conservatives, except in the sense that they’re the side in power, and the conventional side.”

        And the term for that is reactionary. Funny how “dissent is the highest form of patriotism” changes when no longer convenient.

        Mr. Locke I don’t have to assume the baseness of the other side’s motives when they prove every day that they will simply lie about me, my motives, and claim that things are true which are firmly proven false. Worst of all, they will propose a social contract and a compromise on any number of issues (gun control being the prime example) and then cheerfully alter the deal before the ink dries. You can’t build a society of any sort that contains people like that; the trust cannot be there.

        Finally, I would be quite content to simply go my way…. and these people won’t even let me do that. No, I have to publicly endorse their positions and they won’t stop bothering me until I do.

        • And in the bad old days no one but Baen would publish you unless you at least stayed quiet if you disagreed. And if you weren’t VOCAL in endorsing, you weren’t going to get the push. I could say it is why those who sold their soul are now so panicked. I won’t. I think they simply don’t like that we’re allowed to talk back.

      • “but my commenters run the gamut from soft left to… heaven knows what.”

        I resemble that remark …

        • I find it humorous and oddly appropriate that Scalzi uses a saying usually associated with airheaded teen girls as his blog title. That being said, while I seldom (as in can’t remember the last time I did) agree with Scalzi, I thought this post was spot on. Off course I went back to the top after reading it and seen the date was 2007.

        • exactly. He wets his finger and sticks it in the air and decides based on where the wind is blowing.

    • One side sees the other as trying to suppress all voices in and contributions to the fandom that do not comply with ideologically-imposed restrictions and double standards – and that ain’t so, either.

      That is simply false. I am an SF/F writer and editor. I joined SFWA as a Life Member in 1997. I recently had the privilege of editing Tom Kratman and I am presently completing the edits on a new John C. Wright release. I was the unnamed member who was unanimously purged by the SFWA board for reasons that were never given.

      The truth is that I was expelled from SFWA because John Scalzi and Patrick Nielsen Hayden threatened to refuse to renew their memberships if I was not. They intentionally forced the very political division that Scalzi is now pretending to lament.

      But it’s not just me. The same people who expelled me would like to expel Mike Resnick and Barry Maltzberg and Jerry Pournelle and Jonathan Ross and Larry Correia and Sarah Hoyt and pretty much everyone who is to the right of Barack Obama. I am not exaggerating; I have their entire SFWA Forum backed up and can easily quote dozens of their members on the subject. There is, in their own words, “no place” for conservatives, traditionalists, nationalists, or Christians in their little SF/F world.

      • Since some people were incredulous, perhaps some evidence is in order. Consider the following tweets from Mr. Scalzi and Mr. Nielsen Hayden the day the expulsion was announced:

        John Scalzi @scalzi
        I just renewed my @sfwa membership!
        2:18 PM – 14 Aug 2013

        P Nielsen Hayden ‏@pnh Aug 14
        @scalzi So did I! What a coincidence! @sfwa

        From the SFWA Report:

        Many current members have also stated that they intend to resign their membership if Beale remains a
        member. (All of the quotes below either come from e-mails sent to officers of the Board, in which case
        the members gave permission for a portion of their e-mails to be reproduced here, or were taken from
        publicly-available fora.)

        “I will be appalled if SFWA don’t expel Theodore Beale and definitely won’t want to be part of their
        organization again.”

        “I was tempted to walk away after the earlier debacles, but this is just beyond outrageous.”

        “My membership is on the table as well. This organization is a professional embarrassment.”

        “I don’t want to remain part of an organization that allows its public facade to be used for this sort of
        drivel. If the question comes down to my support of SFWA versus being part of an organization that
        gives Beale a platform to harass fellow authors, then I will step away from SFWA.”

        “I’m giving SFWA one last chance, but if they botch it I’m gone and will urge others to do the same.”

        “I’m concerned for SFWA’s increasingly tarnished reputation and frustrated that Mr. Beale seems intent
        on alienating myself and other women and minority members from the organization.”

        “Keeping this individual in the organisation is not good for members. It makes the organisation laughing
        stock in the wider community, and detracts from more worthwhile activities.”

        “I love what SFWA does for writers, and I love being a member, but I hate thinking that I am a member
        of an organization that this racist, sexist guy also belongs to.”

        “I value various SFWA services, projects, and advocacy efforts, but I am unwilling to belong to a writers’
        organization which welcomes and enables a virulently disruptive and unprofessional member who keeps
        breaking rules and violating policies, and who uses the organization’s tools and venues to personally
        attack other members.” (This last comment was from a member whose membership was not, in fact,
        renewed due to the concerns stated here.)

        Most prominently, an outgoing Board Member indicated that he intended to let his membership lapse
        until Beale was no longer a member: “My membership is due and I can’t in good conscience renew it
        until SFWA finds the means or moral backbone or whatever’s ultimately required to expel someone as
        hateful and wilfully destructive as Beale—not just from the organisation but from the culture present
        within it.”

        • Vox,
          And this mess was the ‘final straw’ for why i won’t even join the SFWA even though I am eligible (and have been for a decade ans a half)

  34. Clark E Myers

    My goodness gracious. I certainly do not thank anybody for bringing this particular piece of Mr. Scalzi’s thinking to my attention. Quite spoiled my mood for days to come.

    I was just debating suggesting to Mr. von Thorn et. al. that he get Betty Bigelow and friends in full Klingon to talk about media fandom at a literary con over the years since The Original Star Trek was something new. Maybe in context of the lamented Moscon and Miscon – or maybe try to get C.J. Cherry, John Dalmas and M.J. Engh (likely to need help and escorts but deserving of it) to talk about the lifespan of cons and changes they’ve seen over the years for some local to the Inland Empire (dry side) Spokane input. Carolyn Cherry has said some interesting things about the nature and natural life expectancy of aspects of fandom as she has observed it – but don’t bring up service dogs and electric eggs.

    Now I am more inclined to suggest that he read a little bit of Fred Pohl on what (American Communist Party) policy had to say about the triumph of Socialism that was embodied in the Wehrmacht marching down the Champs d’Elysee (The Way the Future Was since that bit of real history has escaped his notice) The only real true believer Nazi I ever knew made an emotional commitment to the Nazi movement while he made that march. – but when he later looked in the eyes of the French who wanted to beat him to death and the Americans at bayonet point saying no he became a convert to the American way – as he said: What did I know I left school at 11 to be apprenticed as a baker – these days folks are leaving school later but learning so much that isn’t so.

    But after reading Mr. Scalzi I find whatever thoughts there might be under that rock expressed in the sort of Aesopian language Dr. Stefan T. Possony found so troubling as used by the folks he studied and fought. I’m not sure a public exchange of thoughts and ideas is possible when at least one side is playing to the gallery. Perhaps a private exchange builds bridges but a public exchange amounts to trying for support from the lurkers at Rec.Arts.Sf. et.al. cue the music. The engagement suggested above was

    But a conversation requires two way communication. If the person on the other side is not willing to a) listen and b) contribute to the greater whole, there is no point to the exercise.

    Maybe it was because I was buying lunch for a small group of big name pros from Denver Worldcon but I thought we all enjoyed a private conversation in a pleasant setting – complete with banjo twanging – and this despite the fact that until I gave it up I was the piñata on their public board.

    Maybe both sides of this particular Church of Heinlein discussion and fannish discussion in general (Atlanta World Con bid more than 25 years ago killed friendships and left wounds still unhealed – part of the sacrifices of con-running) are showing more extreme in public than they would in private – the common experience of being a little more extreme to show party colors perhaps. Combined with the natural tendency of discussion boards starting with lots of quality signal to attract noise. Still the iron law is an iron law.