Teh Crazy

Discussion here last week turned to the blog that shall not be named, at which a bunch of us used to hang out, before the owner began looking for creationists under his bed and white supremacists in his closet and was so terrified that he whipped so far left that, when last seen, he was a point of light disappearing up Stalin’s butt.

At the same time er… events precipitated a discussion of teh crazy in our own field both in this blog and over at Mad Genius Club, where my friend, Dave Freer, called it teh stupid and wondered how it affected the remaining readership in Science Fiction and fantasy when the crazy is so … inane and so in evidence.

I have a friend who has belonged to a Tea Party group in his area since its inception.  This Tea Party group is teh crazy.  He often emails me to vent, but he hasn’t quit.  Keep this in mind, it’s important.   I suspect a group of angels could go teh crazy given certain circumstances.  This is important too.

My friend’s group is in the middle of a very leftist part of the country.  This has two effects – it both makes it isolated and it makes the people who are willing to join it true outliers and ones who are either brave or crazy.  (And the two characteristics aren’t mutually exclusive.

That is the start of the pre-conditions for the setting up of the slide to the crazy: the group is not only isolated, but is perceived as so “out there” by those around that you need to be crazy brave to join.

You guys can see how science fiction – but PARTICULARLY fantasy – went down teh crazy path based on that right?  My MIL who tries to be so “normal” in everything that if your mental road had a yellow line she would be it (Hey, that’s the response of some outliers to their outlierness) not only wasn’t aware of the concept of Fantasy when I was first published (“Dear, do you realize you have sex in a book with elves?  What audience are you aiming this at?”) but she still isn’t.  The last of her parties we attended, she told everyone I should write children’s books because they’re the only ones who have minds as beautifully open as mine.  (I invite you to stand back and experience awe at the concept of a) my mind being what she calls open, which I’m sure involves my believing everything I hear.  b) the idea of my writing what I’m sure she thinks of as picture books, given the themes and points of view I’m prone to.)

Now my MIL is a reliable barometer of middle of the road for her generation, not because she is anywhere near average, but because she TRIES to be and is smart enough to have a feel for how “middle of the road” reacts.  The operative part in that is of course “her generation” since she was sixty when I first got published.

It’s changed, of course.  Or at least some part of it has changed.  Even Nora Roberts (very middle of the road.  MIL likes her) now has elves and fairies in her books.  (Weirdly, MIL doesn’t think she should write for children.)  Between movies and romance books, at this point the tropes of science fiction and fantasy are becoming mainstream.  This hasn’t translated into higher print runs.  Neither has the Great Recession.  Keep that in mind, too.

The other thing that causes a group to go crazy is how unique it is.  By this principle, science fiction and particularly fantasy writers went WAY crazier than readers, way faster, because, well… think on it, there are fewer of us.  BUT – and this is also important – there is a group even smaller and more insular than us.  Science fiction and fantasy writers, after all, live anywhere in the country and by their very nature, mingle with people who aren’t science fiction and fantasy writers. Well, I hear some people even have them in their own families.  It doesn’t apply in the Hoyt household, of course.  But editors don’t.  Yes, they work in publishing houses that have other departments, but they are/were looked down upon by the other departments (I’ve heard stories) and so socialize mostly with their peers at other houses.  (The exception being Baen which moved out of NYC and mingles with real people TM – keep that in mind too.)

You see, the other factor for teh crazy moving in and the group losing all contact with reality is to have, at its core a sub group that is completely far removed from reality and that operates internally without any checks and balances. (I suppose numbers and figures SHOULD rationally have operated as checks and balances on publishers but a) the slow instauration of a completely push model made sure that the books they favored sold more than others, no matter how inane.  B) any book that failed was ALWAYS the writer’s fault  c) the steady creep down of ALL sales in the field was shrugged off as “people don’t read anymore” – the same way that when classical music went un-listenable (totally a word) the drop in sales meant that “listeners are getting dumber.”)

So the next most important factor in whether or how fast a group goes down the crazy road is… well, crazies and how much sway they’re given.

In science fiction and fantasy publishing the crazies were driving the bus (actually I think it was a supersonic plane) until indie came in.  Heck, they’re still driving it, insofar as the bus is the official part of the field, even though sane authors have jumped out of the window long ago (or been thrown, for not being crazy enough.)  [Baen has sort of a motor scooter and has taken a side road, headed away from the precipice.  For this act, they have earned the crazies hooting and hollering at them, and pointing and calling them extreme, even as the crazies head off to lala land.]

Until recently there simply wasn’t a way to tell the crazies in publishing, “hey, guys, you’ve gone too far, and you do realize normal people will be repulsed by this story/book/what the heck is this even?”  If you did it, you got defenestrated with force, and if you didn’t chance to grab the handlebar of the Baen scooter, you weren’t going to be heard from ever again.

In the same way, the blog that shall not be named started wielding the ban hammer against anyone who so much as made a dissenting peep.  (This is easy, but it’s also why I tend to be slow on the ban hammer and let things get heated.  It is also why I think commenters need to exert a little restraint before killing with extreme prejudice.  Yes, it gets us rid of some of the hothouse plants, but any group can go down the crazy road.)

And that brings us the next factor – the crazy road.  Once you’re on the crazy road – ie. You’re different from most people around you and from most voiced opinions around you (for instance the blog that shall not be named was fiscally conservative, hawks, pro-gay and for a while at least tolerant of religion.  They didn’t fit any of the boxes.  We don’t either here, btw) letting a small minority (in the blog’s case, of one) hold sway and say who stays and who goes WITH NO FEEDBACK ALLOWED will lead to that minority’s going ever stranger on whatever road they were already set on.

What I mean by this is, while that particular blog was private, and going strange only had the effect of sending us off to start other hangouts.  HOWEVER for science fiction and fantasy going strange, i.e. further and further away from the people who would potentially buy their product just meant that they were producing more and more thing that the public was unlikely to buy, and things that were further and further out from what might appeal to the mainstream of culture.

The thing is, because group mechanics dictate that the people responsible are deaf to feedback, and that group rewards are set for those who VOCALLY AND LOUDLY endorse the small and crazy group in control, once a group has gone some way down the crazy road, the ONLY thing you can do is leave and form another group.

The mechanics that drive a group ever-more extreme are self reinforcing both due to material rewards – if they exist – or due to the human instinct to fit in.

This is how it is perfectly acceptable – normal even – and definitely career-enhancing in science fiction to declare yourself to be a communist, to wear Che shirts, or to rant about how terrible America is, in front of American audiences.  This is why it’s so radical – nay, shocking –t o write a female villain and a male hero.  (And why such work is not likely to be published.)

It is also why it is wise of Baen to publish people all across the spectrum of politics.  And why I try not to be crazily political here.  (Except for a devoted hatred of Communism.  I fail to see what’s extreme about hating a regime responsible for the death of a hundred million humans, and possibly more.)

Of course, in science fiction, the publisher community drove the writer community which in turn drove the fan community – at least that visible part of the fan community which organizes conventions and is active in reviews and prizes.

Which is what Dave Freer was despairing about in his post.  “Is there anyone left who is not of this crazy/out of the mainstream tilt?”  I.e. is there anyone who would read us.

I think there is.  I think they simply jumped out of the window three decades ago when “All heroes must be female.” And “Capitalism bad” became the default mode.  (It’s gone much worse since.)

How many times do you run across people who go “Oh, I used to read fantasy/science fiction but then I just stopped.  I’m not sure why.”

I know why.  I write the stuff, and I spent years – years! – when, except for Baen, I’d be lucky to find three books a year I wanted to even sample.  Discovering a favorite author became a rare and cherished thing and – because of the push model – nine times out of ten they had already vanished by the time I heard of them/found their books.

The thing is, it takes EFFORT to drive your audience away and keep it driven away.  People with the bend of mind to read science fiction or mystery or whatever will actively look for material to read.  (Yes, literacy has gone down somewhat, but the number of people who read for pleasure has stayed remarkably constant.  And the internet is forcing kids to at least read easily.  Writing is something different.  The whole myth of “people don’t read anymore” is just that, a myth.)

Since indie and particularly Amazon have allowed people to put things up there, and sample what they might want to read, people have started reading fields they’d given up on.  My husband, for instance, assiduously reads free samples, then buys all the books of that author that he likes, often in genres he hasn’t touched for years.  (I’ve been a little slower, because the last couple of years I haven’t had much time for reading.  Reminds me of Barbara Hambly saying “Writing made me illiterate.”)

And only that explains the way indie mil sci fi sells on Amazon.  (Like crazy it sells.  Better than Romance.)  Because for years now, the people driving the crazy bus have marginalized the genre.  But the readers remain there, and Baen alone isn’t producing enough to feed them.  So they go looking, and they talk to each other.

This gives me hope that the other fandoms are still there too: driven out of conventions; driven out of the mainstream of fandom; for years unable to find anything they want to read on the shelves; starving for good books.

I believe this is true, or at least is worth trying.  The reason my friend stays in his local tea party group btw is that if all the “not insane” people leave, then the crazy just becomes crazier, faster.  He’s trying to act as a counterbalance.

That wasn’t an option for writers or readers of science fiction and fantasy while the crazies controlled what got into print.  They don’t now.  So, don’t give up.  If you do, then you will be driving the field where the crazies wanted and making them feel they were always justified.

Instead, I say we administer shock therapy.

UPDATE: I put up a different post at Mad Genius Club, entitled Doctor Strange Writing, or How I learned to Stop Worrying And Love Pantsing.

399 responses to “Teh Crazy

  1. And now I have this lovely mental image of Toni on a Vespa, with you and John hanging on the back (not the handlebars, you’d be dragged!). Thank you… I’ll smile all day!

  2. It may be a scooter but, when it gets stuck there are lots of volunteers to put their shoulders to it and push.

    • Yep. Baen is powered by Tesla and designed by M.C. Escher. Which means that there are many places to hold on, and lots of cool looking lizards. 🙂 (I don’t make sense, but I do like pizza.)

      Yes. This also explains why I had to gaffiate from fandom. I got sick of being hounded for relationship advice, then receiving spit-takes and revulsion for my trouble. That and watch the circus of unhealthy relationships spiral ’round and ’round. Had to get the logs out of my own eyes first before I could attempt balance in the community.

      • When I got to a college with a SF fandom association I eagerly went to a meeting …once there i did a quick tally, determined that the ratio of lives to people was NOT 1:1 or even particularly close … and sidled on out.

        I am sure I missed out on some great friendships, but I also think I avoided some potential disasters.

        • In fairness, I note that, sitting here at my computer the ratio of people to lives is not 1:1 although I like to imagine it is rather close.

          • Billy Oblivion

            Given that most of the rest of the population is in front of a very similar sort of display technology that does not utilize the cybernetic feedback loop, has minimal controls and engages little or no higher cerebral functions, I’d suggest that maybe folks here might be at or near 1:1.

            Some of us are aiming a little higher.

        • Part of my problem is that the lives to people ratio got smaller and smaller at an exponential rate. Then it hit the point that even those who had lives before had lives no longer. But that’s what socializing in with people on the edge in a place with a spiraling economy does.

          Only one or two people– out of high-ish double digits– came close to surviving in the long term. It got to the point that I needed to leave town– which made the gaffiation much easier. For most of those people a long distance friendship (ie. regular emails plus the occasional call ) is too much work.

          • It occurred to me while reading that, that we might be in an area with spiraling economy now. All of us.

            • Agreed. My comment represents my attitude at the time I left. But I recognize in retrospect that there were other factors that I wasn’t tuned to see– and though I abuse the privilege mighty, there is only so much detail one can go into with comments. 🙂

              For example, people in fandom often did not have a concrete or consistent world view, or one that was robust in bad times. Say what you like about Christianity– it has a certain robustness when things suck. This strongly affects the stability of relationships– and the urge to “life” formation. Living as a fish in the modernist culture leaves one very vulnerable to a life deficiency.

              Also ‘having a life’ and having ‘mere’ money aren’t the same thing. My brother has enough (for now) of the latter and little of the former. I think, that this is a difference between Greece and Portugal– the latter is more stable (in a sense) because people have more of a desire to build a life if not more money. (I have a friend who is in Portugal to study– of all things– economics there. But I could be very wrong in my assessment!) My 2 cents. 🙂

              My current social group has it’s own financial woes, but they maintain a certain stability, because we share concrete values, and a consistent and well documented pattern of mutual assistance. There was some of that in fandom, but it was only from a few, who after a while became overburdened, and either were priced out of the assistance pattern or had to limit their wares simply due to overload and lack of reciprocity.

              It takes a special bond to share when one is close to subsistence level. I think this is the secret to the success of the Early Christians. Desperate pagans eat each other alive and feel justified– or abandon the downtrodden out of a twisted charity, or a superstitious need not to “spread the misery around.’ You see the patterns in history, and you see the same patterns in Neo-pagan and fannish communities. I am not saying (by any means!@) that it applies to every individual– but the patterns are very wide spread compared to other communities I have found since.

  3. So what’s the blog that must not be named? I can think of several of them that fit the description (for example, lgf, sullivan, …).

  4. IDK, Sarah. I think that an illustrated Darkship Thieves would make some heads explode.

    • Is this our opportunity to start casting DST: Teh Movie?

      Jon Voight for old Doc B, Nicholas Cage for Kit (because his best expression is a look of dumbfounded wonderment) … Marisa Tomei for Athena?

      • Sorry, no. I HATE NIcholas Cage — I mean as an actor. He looks psychotic.

        • I think I might have chosen feral, but psychotic is close enough. Matthew McConaughey? Only because he has done so many Rom-Coms that he might draw an interesting crowd. 😉

          • Ew… actually. I like Nic Cage much better.

          • I am not sure why, but Kat always seemed to me to be a ginger– or at least strawberry blond. (there’s a name for that in men… I forget) I think it’s to go with his green eyes. Or… did I just make that up? (I know that can be changed, but a blond Nick Cage makes me shudder.) I think it must be an actor who is equally at home with comedy and tragedy. A rangy, slightly nerdy, quirky character actor whom nobody has heard of, who can do both pure bravado and believable humility– and turn it on a dime. He has to be the kind of guy who could give Disney’s Puss in Boots character a run for his money doing the “I’m so cute and innocent” look. But maybe that’s my inner LOL cat lover talking. 🙂

            It is a shame that Alan Tudyk is too old for the role. It would be nifty to give him a role where he doesn’t die horribly– but Sarah does such a nice job hanging it over your head, it’s almost like she planned it for an actor like that. 😛 Also, even if you don’t like him, you have to admit Alan is a highly versatile actor, which this role NEEDS. Too many people play themselves too well to fit comfortably in Kat’s skin.

            I admit his role in “Suburbatory” makes you want to want his character to die horribly…

        • Umm, yes 😉 that might be why I like to watch him… you expect him to start trouble. Now my hubby who IS a troublemaker looks very innocent and children and dogs love him.

        • To get his first big role, in “Birdy,” the lead had to be someone with his front teeth missing, so… he had someone knock his front two teeth out. I don’t think he could get a dentist to remove healthy teeth.

          • Pauline Kael, recounting this in her review of “Birdy,” said, “I don’t trust someone who’s an actor before he’s a human being.”

            • Assuming the normal personality curve for adolescent males and actors, I suspect there was no problem finding somebody willing to sock him in the mouth. More likely his problem was finding somebody who would settle for that.

      • Nicholas Cage? You are asking for it, marsupial.

      • OK, so out comes one of my fandom hats. Has DST been translated to Japanese? Animated by someone with vision, such as Mamoru Oshii, who did Gōsuto In Za Sheru/Kōkaku Kidōtai (Ghost in the Shell/Mobile Armored Riot Police) at Production I.G., it could be visually stunning. Then the problem would be casting appropriate voice actors. Otherwise you will need to find producers who are willing to pay for extensive CGI and a number of cast members, who not only can act, but are adept at wirework.

        • It has been translated into Japanese and is fast making me more money than in the US. That I KNOW DSR and AFGM haven’t been translated, and I wonder how much of that is that the rights company contacted the agent…

  5. I was also part of a local Tea Party, in a large metropolitan area which is fortunately for me, rather conservo-libertarian. Or just crankily stubborn and usually well-armed. Just about all the other founding members and joiners were relatively well-adjusted professionals … although there was an element who tended to have an active fantasy life, usually involving Bilderbergers. The thing that has since amazed me is that most of them were ordinary, working people, a lot of them small business owners (couple of doctors, lawyers, academics, lots of military retirees) without a racist or a violent bone in their bodies … and yet, the Tea Party in general has been so thuroughly and completely painted as such by mainstream media, that most of the general public who has never been involved in one, believes it! I’ve never had such a vivid and personal demonstration of the power of the ‘Big Lie’.

    • Wayne Blackburn

      I went to a couple of the early Tea Party get-togethers in downtown Cincy, and have a slightly funny tale:

      I was standing, not near the stage, as I got there far too late for that, but not quite on the outskirts. In my pocket, I had a rather large, very old (in electronic years) digital camera. It actually looked much like a standard 35mm camera, and was about the same size. As I pulled it from my pocket, I noticed a man out of the corner of my eye turn his head like lightning to watch me. At that point, I slowed down quite a bit, because he was wearing an old “army-style” jacket, and had the look of being a vet. I had a serious feeling that, given the size and color of my camera, if I wasn’t careful, Bad Things (TM) were going to happen, before he realized it wasn’t a gun.

      • The guy in the old army-style jacket very likely was part of the local Tea Party security team, either formally or informally. Our group was very, very aware that our meetings and rallies – being open to the public – were vulnerable to saboteurs and trouble-makers generally. So we always kept our eyes open.
        It helped that there were a lot of military veterans in the group – and a lot of current and retired LEOs.

        • Wayne Blackburn

          I got more the impression that he had been there, done that, and wasn’t going to let anything happen in range of him. Not that I minded that. I was just careful.

          The media bias was seldom more blatant than that day, when we had at least 2,000 people there (several claims that it was nearer 5,000), and the news cameras were off in one corner, backs to the crowd, covering the lone woman standing nearby, waving a sign and shouting, “Oh-Ba-Ma, Oh-Ba-Ma!”. Then said they felt threatened when a bunch of people started shouting at them to turn around and cover the event.

          • I saw an event like that here at the Capitol building. The place was covered in Tea Party people (several thousand) and the news people reported a few hundred. The grounds were packed. We saw a liberal protest recently and it was ten people going from sign to sign (100 signs more or less) and waving at each one. The news called it a huge protest. *sigh

            • ref: prior discussion of “power to define teh normal.”

            • A common tactic of both sides of the American Civil War: Parade the same troops past a position multiple times, to convince a besieged foe there were far more attackers than there actually were.

              It worked then. It works now.

          • Rob Crawford

            “Then said they felt threatened when a bunch of people started shouting at them to turn around and cover the event.”

            ISTR this event. Not that I was there, but I remember the lefties crowing about the “Tea Partiers attacking the press”. There was video of what really happened, I believe, which is why it doesn’t get cited anymore.

    • Oh yeah. Our local one was not only thoroughly ordinary people, but more racially diverse than any other group in a rather white bread city.
      My friends isn’t going crazy the way the media says (by and large) it’s just very odd.

  6. My hubby is one of those people and he was a devoted sci-fi fan until the 1980s. He has been dipping his toe into your books and Monster Hunter International. I think he would really like the Retriever series. We’ll see. There is a lot out there imho before it was run into the ground.

  7. Shock Therapy? I’ve got a “shock therapy” story brewing. I started it last night after you so nicely loaned me your idea. Unfortunately, what started out looking like a short is >already< starting to feel more like a novel and I can see it trending toward a trilogy…

    Please God, though, let it be an indy success or get picked up by Baen (I know we've never met, but I'm you're biggest admirer Toni!) because after it goes public the lefties will consider me a PNG for sure.

    • PNG sent me off to wikipedia. I assume you mean the third term down? But Piped Natural Gas is nice.

      Portable Network Graphics (.png), a bitmap image file format
      Papua New Guinea, a country in Oceania, located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean
      Persona non grata, literally meaning “an unwelcome person”, a legal term used in diplomacy
      Partidul Noua Generaţie, former name of a Romanian political party
      Port Neches–Groves High School, in Port Neches, Texas
      Piped natural gas
      Png, a Min Nan Chinese surname

      Disambiguation icon

  8. > My friend’s group is in the middle of a very leftist part of the country. This has two effects – it both makes it isolated and it makes the people who are willing to join it true outliers and ones who are either brave or crazy.

    My GF and I are two extreme libertarians / Jeffersonian minimal government types.

    …and we live in the town adjacent to Cambridge, MA.

    Fish don’t get much more out of water than this – I feel your friend’s pain!

    • Hey! I’ll be in Waltham, MA for the Watch City Festival (steampunk event) over Mother’s Day weekend. Come see me, I’d love to meet more of Hoyt’s Horde.

      • Oh, I know Watch City Steampunk; I take blacksmithing lessons with Carl and Mike, who demonstrate there. I stopped in at the SP festival for a few hours a year or so back.

        Anyone else going to be there? I’d be up for a Friends of Baen / Hoyt’s Horde get-together for coffee or dinner!

    • Well we’re too, but this isn’t that. It’s more of the “you have to dress like us and…”

      • One thing I like about my church. You will see everything from full on Sunday go-to-meeting clothes to T-shirt and jeans. One young woman wears a lace, glitz and cowboy boot look that perfectly suits her — I doubt many could carry it off with such aplomb.

        Thinking about it, I guess there is one group we have failed to embrace and have driven off, that one that says, ‘you have to dress like us and …’

  9. In the same way, the blog that shall not be named started wielding the ban hammer against anyone who so much as made a dissenting peep.
    You didn’t even have to peep. I got banned after down dinging some comments that the proprietor up dinged.

    • That describes the fundamental dynamic of a cult a’borning: when you not only drive out the unbelievers but also expel the insufficiently enthusiastic.

    • I got into a “Dinging War” with that Ferret of Cold (Figure it out) and her cohorts. You could tell that it was almost scripted the way it was the same people hitting the minus on every single comment without even replying. One of the remaining refugees from the good days tracked down my LJ and opened an account just to PM me with sympathy.

      He used to complain when others on the Right wouldn’t give him credit for his clever use of Word’s default formatting… but I wonder if he has now repudiated himself for his role in le Affair de Rather.

  10. I was pretty sure this was a political metaphor, especially the part about a self reinforcing band of crazies…..actually, the extrapolation to national politics is rather frightening.

    “you know, I used to be an ardent sci fi fantasy fan but for some reason I don’t read much any more………”

  11. Michael Ankenbrandt

    Actually, I think you would do well to write children’s books – get them when they are young, and inoculate them properly vs the crazies 🙂

    • My dad always thought I ought to write children’s books. I think it was because he thought there needed to be more good children’s books.

    • You know what would be fun, is to write childrens’ books that fit into the series. What would Usains write? Or what is a shifter bedtime story?

      Oh no, I hear the idea fairy approaching. No, get away! Not now! *swats air, flees*

      • Oh, Good heavens. Book 4? 5? the main character was raised strict Usaian. She complains a lot about services and discussing the meaning of the sacred documents till all the kids were asleep, but she did like the high holidays with the fireworks, picnics and singing.

        I could totally do the picture books she was read…

  12. My GOD woman!
    You have explained College Faculties (and I’m sad to say a lot of College Republicans) big “L” libertarians, the sad state of both Anime and American Comic Books, the Air Force, Climate Gate, Young Earth Creationism, Birthers, Truthers, Todd Akin, The View and quite possibly New Coke.

    This shall be called the Hoyt Principle and I strongly urge everyone to learn from it, for to fail to do so is the first step on the path to perdition and madness.

    • Is our wonderful hostess a woman of unparalleled genius? Undoubtedly. Is it still past her rather awesome abilities of understanding and communication to explain what the hell happened with New Formula Coke? Absolutely. No human being could possibly explain an abomination that terrible.

    • Basic career advice has long been to dress for the level one step up the line. “Dress” includes far more than attire, it also includes attitude and tilt.

      • Which is why I never made Senior Master Sergeant. The path up was far more about politics than about capabilities. The promotion would also have separated me from being able to work with younger airmen, to mentor them and prepare them for a rewarding career. I know a couple of people that managed to make the transition without going wobbly, but only a VERY few manage. That goes doubly so for officers.

      • Second rule is to never interview in a nicer suit than the manager owns.

    • Sad to say, I’ve seen more than a couple of my hobbies crash because the Powers That Be chased after the “hardcore” crazy fans. You’d think publishing would have learned from others (WoW, anime, gaming) that any time you chase after “the hardcore” crazies, er, fans, you drive away everyone else and shrink your market drastically.

      • If you saw Furry Fandom in the mid ’80’s you wouldn’t ever guess in a million years it would turn into what it turned into.

    • While our esteemed hostess has indeed formulated the principle that explains most of those concepts you name, I’m afraid the principle already has a well-established name — the “echo chamber” effect — and so can’t be renamed to the Hoyt Principle.

  13. I never commented on that blog, or voted on a comment, but the parochialism–or “teh crazy” got thick enough to drive me away. I remember wondering at the time if the proprietor had met a woman from the other side–

    –mainly because the former Mr. Kali, who was a libertarian, or argued like one when he was married to me, became a total prog who talked about “white privilege” after he married his second wife.

    • Men tend to do that more than women. Who knows why?

      • Because women are so weak, powerless, and put down, dontcha know?

      • Because they’ll do anything for sex, bless them …

        • And before anyone jumps on me for that comment, let me add, “And a decent woman won’t abuse that”

        • which CAN be one of their good points…

        • Someone is staring at me again, I can tell.

        • I was going to leave this go. Then I was going to make a “It is hard to explain” comment.

          Now, I am going to address the issue seriously even though it was made as a joke.

          SOME guys will do anything for sex. Generally they (like the guys who don’t have to do anything for sex) are to be avoided.

          Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal had an article …

          How Often Should Married Couples Have Sex?
          What Happens When He Says ‘More’ and She Says ‘No’
          [SNIP]
          Increasingly, experts believe sex is a more emotional experience for men than for women. Men tend to express feelings with actions, not words. Unlike a lot of women, they probably don’t have heart-to-heart chats with everyone from their best friend to the bus driver, and they often limit hugs and physical affection to their immediate family.

          No wonder they miss sex when it disappears. It’s a way for them to be aggressive and manly but also tender and vulnerable. “For some men, sex may be their primary way of communicating and expressing intimacy,” says Justin Lehmiller, a Harvard University social psychologist who studies sexuality. Taking away sex “takes away their primary emotional outlet.”

          It is overly simple to assume male sexuality is primarily biological and that men are constantly looking for a physical outlet, says Esther Perel, a licensed marriage and family therapist in New York City and author of “Mating in Captivity.” Men, much more than women, relate to a partner through sex, she says, as evidenced by their fear of rejection, concerns about performance and desire to please. “When a man gets depressed because he’s not being touched, it’s just like the little boy who stands in his crib and cries to be picked up,” she says. “He is experiencing emotional deprivation.”

          … suggesting a more complex process is taking place. For a start, I would suggest expanding the statement to “… sex with a woman they love.”

          And yeah, some of them will happily queue up to shove dollar bills into some gal’s g-string … but then, some gals are happy to pay for their “Magic Mike” moments, as well.

          And, to expand on kali’s follow-on comment, no decent person will exploit another’s need for intimacy — it dehumanizes both parties. Which is why advertisers are, by definition, not decent people.

      • Oh, I don’t know, Sarah. When my husband came out of the closet as a Republican, a lot of men whose wives are loud liberals, quietly came and agreed with him. I think they just keep the peace and let wife assume what she will. She’s not in the voting booth with him….

      • “Men are attracted to what they see, women are attracted to what they hear. That’s why women wear makeup and men lie.”

        • You win the comment thread.

          • Too bad I can’t claim credit or it. I heard it from a coworker, and I’m sure he got it from somewhere else. But it does succinctly point out the differences in mechanisms of attraction between the genders.

        • How cruel, how cynical … andI fear, how accurate. Almost as much as another truism that I ran across on the intertublues: Men will go along with intimacy to get sex, and women go along with sex to get intamacy.
          Not, actually, my own personal experiece – but with other people, I’ve seen it happen often enough to think there must be something in that thought.

          • I think the definitive proof of the difference between male and female attitudes towards sex is the paucity of non-gay male streetwalkers and their “Janes”.

          • Though in a loving relationship where both partners are emotionally mature adults, the cynical view can get turned around into a sort of mutually-beneficial symbiosis. It works like this:

            Man: “I don’t care as much about intimacy as about sex. But I know she craves intimacy, and I love her, so I’m going to give her what she wants because I love her.”
            Woman: “I don’t care as much about sex as about intimacy. But I know he craves sex, and I love him, so I’m going to give him what he wants because I love him.”

            Result: both people getting what they crave the most, and nobody being used, because of the motives from which both people are approaching the problem. Of course, this does require a couple where both people are emotionally mature adults, which can be hard to find sometimes. But if that’s you, then this approach can be really helpful.

  14. (“Dear, do you realize you have sex in a book with elves? What audience are you aiming this at?”)

    Funniest line ever.

    • Randy elves? (shrugs)

    • I’m guessing Sarah doesn’t want to have to explain the varieties of fan-fic to her. The mind chokes on the wealth of retorts regurgitating themselves:

      People who are bored of books featuring sex with orcs.

      Are you kidding? They’re snatching up sex with vampires, sex with werewolves, sex with ghosts — I’m trying to get in on the ground floor of the elven-sex craze.

      • The funny thing, RES, is that this was my Shakespeare trilogy, where most people didn’t even NOTICE the sex.

        Her problem was as follows “children don’t read about sex” (cooey, where has she been? Sigh.) and ‘adults don’t read about elves.”

        • Fortunately for your market potential (if not for society at large), there are ever fewer adults (and far more adolescents, who do read about elves and sex.)

          • Well, sex was MIL’s definition of “grown up” — my story was grown up because of other things. What I meant though was that she was completely UNAWARE of the EXISTENCE of our genre and AFAIK still is.

            • Just a thought– elves were having sex with humans according to Robert Kirk and he wrote it in 1692. 😉

            • ‘s funny. My idea of a “grown-up” book is one without gratuitous sex. By the same token, I consider a “gentlemen’s club” a place where no gentleman would go.

              • Excuse? Would not Mr. Darcy, definitely a gentleman, enter such a place to pull Wickham out to inform him that Lucy had presented him with a healthy baby boy, and that he, Wickham, should return home immediately.

                • Which no gentleman would enter for the purpose of availing himself of what gives it that name.

                • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                  Well, Mr. Darcy likely did have a membership in a gentleman’s club.

                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gentlemen%27s_club

                  Of course, you likely didn’t find “ladies of the evening” there.

                  On the other hand, there were likely houses where gentlemen visited in order to met “ladies of the evening”.

                  Oh, it may say something about me that I associated “gentlemen clubs” with the sort of places mentioned in the above link, not “strip clubs”. [Wink]

                • CACS –

                  You’ve got phone calls on line 1 and 2 from Lucy Ferrars and Lydia Wickham. Both of them are insisting that they do NOT look anything like “that hussy” — by which it’s clear that they mean each other.

                  If I were you, I’d claim to be in a meeting. All day long, if need be.

                  😛

                  • LOL! Thank you. I have rarely enjoyed a correction so much. I will certainly take your advise to heart. 😉

                    • I want to read the fanfic where Wickham is cheating with Lucy Ferrars. (I’m a BAD person.)

                    • Wickham will certainly tire of Lydia, and will not be as indulgent of her as her father is of her mother. He would certainly pursue someone like Lucy, as she has managed to marry money. He is generally interested in personal advancement and money, particularly if it doesn’t cost him much.

                      I find it harder to imagine Mrs. Ferrars finding Wickham particularly worthwhile. What does he have to bring to the table to offer her? Like him she desires personal advancement and money, but she is willing to work for it. Perhaps by this point in time she is a very board wife looking for a bit of a flattering diversion?

                    • I was thinking she married a very BORING man.

                    • Ow, remove first the plank from my own eye maybe? I think I should just stop typing… 😉

                    • Well, she might also have become rather broad and therefore ready to succumb to an impecunious rogue…

                    • Or perhaps she wants a child…

        • ‘adults don’t read about elves.”
          I guess she hasn’t noticed how many children refuse to ever grow up, mentally at least. Not to mention the fact that most well-adjusted adults like to relive their childhood once in a while. Then again, ANY well-written book will attract some adults to read it, regardless of what’s in it (by well-written, I’m not talking about 24/7 sex, but something with a plot, memorable characters, good character development, tension, surprise, etc., not 90% of what is “published” by the “big six”.).

          • ‘adults don’t read about elves.”
            You reckon she thought A Midsummer’s Night Dream was a kiddie matinee?

            • ‘Twould follow, like night the day, but perhaps SHAKESPEARE is a category by himself.

              You note that fantasy that’s old enough doesn’t get excluded from the canon.

            • I was about to be uncharitable about the raiser-of-my-beloved, so I’ll shut up.

              • My proffered apologies for tempting you into disrespecting your benefactress. I understand her argument but, as one who reads virtually anything (I tend to be more particular about what I read physically) cannot resist tweaking.

        • Billy Oblivion

          Children don’t read about sex. Adolescents read about sex.

      • “I’m trying to get in on the ground floor of the elven-sex craze.”

        The ground floor? That elevator left decades ago. PNR and UF heroines have sex with *anything* that has male secondary sex characteristics. I can proudly say I predicted to my family that zombie sex was next, and lo and behold, along came Rachel Caine’s Revivalist series.

        • an excellent series, btw, I was just squicked out because I found the heroine’s predicament so frightening and the story provided no relief for that fear, even by the end of the book.

        • Zombie sex seriously squigs me…

          • Makes me nauseous– (and since the meds make me that way– I am closer to kneeling to the toilet god)

          • For one thing, with zombies … umm, don’t umm … parts fall off?

            I would think the smell a problem, too. Unless they liberally employ Axe?

            • Seriously, would rather have decomp than Axe. And yes, I have smelled both.

              On Wed, Apr 24, 2013 at 1:29 PM, According To Hoyt wrote:

              > ** > RES commented: “For one thing, with zombies … umm, don’t umm … > parts fall off? I would think the smell a problem, too. Unless they > liberally employ Axe?” >

            • It depends on the zombie– if you are talking about the voodoo zombie, they are drugged and controlled by a vodoun. If you are talking about Hollywood zombie or some of the zombie tales? Yes, parts fall off, they stink, and if they have any self-awareness– they are asking to be killed.

            • I think you mean “*Especially* if they liberally employ Axe”.

              On Wed, Apr 24, 2013 at 12:29 PM, According To Hoyt wrote:

              > ** > RES commented: “For one thing, with zombies … umm, don’t umm … > parts fall off? I would think the smell a problem, too. Unless they > liberally employ Axe?” >

            • “umm, don’t umm … parts fall off?”

              Now, now, you’re assuming the guy has the problem, here.

              • No, it’s just that my childhood joke data bank still retains too many sick jokes about guys’ willingness to schtupp that I have to keep the file triple-locked.

            • Wayne Blackburn

              I really did not need those details spelled out, thankyouvermuch.

              *shudder*

          • Me, too.
            Ick. Ick. Ick!

          • Necrophilia seriously squigs me, that includes vampires, I am not to hep on beastiality either. I do not like Urban Fantasy because that is what makes up most of it. No let’s be fair, I am not into anything that includes sex with other species

            • PFUI. My shifters’ series has no bestiality.

              Vampires are a grey area. Are they really dead? If yes, then ick. If they’re in a weird magical state then, meh.

              • You are correct. I had to think for a while to figure out why because, objectively, from my point of view. you are wrong. I never got the squick from your shifters that I usually do. Then I figured it out. Your shifters, despite a lack of control as to when and where they shift when young, are not half man half beast but, people with a different ability. And they don’t have sex, they engage in relationships. Very different feel than the standard “werewolves make great lovers because they could turn at any minute”.

            • The word is actually “Squick”. I was around when it was coined.

        • I was allowing for temporal shift.

        • kali | April 24, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
          > I can proudly say I predicted to my family that zombie sex was next,

          Wow — talk about “getting a stiffy”.

          >;)

        • How far we have moved since Dear Abby condemned Alice Cooper as the destroyer of our youth for Cold Ethel.

  15. I think there is a place for some children’s books that subvert the dominant paradigm, which is at heart “no fighting, even in defense” (the person doing the attacking, of course, doesn’t get chastised for some reason). Doesn’t have to be fighting per se, but arguing. Holding on to your opinion and only changing it when facts and logic are presented. Showing that you can have a “frank exchange of views”, as the euphemism goes, without blood or even hurt feelings at the end.

    My childhood was enriched by my benignly crazy great-aunts and uncles, all second-generation German, who thought argument was an excellent way to aid digestion after dinner. In that family it was rude to agree for the sake of being polite. Better manners were to suddenly develop a strong opinion about a topic you previously didn’t care about at all, and hold forth hammer and tongs. And nobody got mad. It was fun, and prepared me for Life.

    • er… my family is like that.

    • I remember the Encyclopedia Brown books having cases that were just to solve an argument between the kids. It’s been awhile since I’ve read them but my son just started so I’m going to have to check that out. I certainly agree, though, that there is a need for children’s books with logic and argument.

    • I believe I would get along famously with your great-aunts. I have been accused of switching sides in a good argument, simply because I won and didn’t want the argument to end. 😉

      • Frequently there are very interesting counter arguments that didn’t get made, so you just have to turn your coat and make those arguments in order to find their answers.

        • And to make sure you do, in fact, have the right answers, and really understand why they’re right.

  16. Over at PJM, Dr. Helen, the Instawife, provides this timely note:

    Vox Day at Alpha Game Blog: “Every time you keep your head down in order to avoid trouble, you are collaborating with the enemy. Every time you keep your mouth shut because you think, just maybe, silence will improve your chances of getting laid, you are collaborating. Every time you meekly submit to your wife instead of providing her with the leadership she craves, you are collaborating. Those who refuse to fight back are not brave, they are not being manly for suffering in silence, they are short-sighted cowards who have betrayed both their sex and their society.”
    http://pjmedia.com/drhelen/

    Substitute Publisher for wife, “getting published” for “getting laid” and for “leadership” insert “readership” (i.e., people who actively buy books rather than those who merely review them.) And instead of “sex” try “art” or, better still, “craft.”

  17. The people driving the Crazy Bus – perfect. I’m so using this from now on. ^_^

    We’re not allowed to have a female villain? But women make the best villains! (Or is that sexist?)

    I’m glad to hear military SF is selling so well indie. I hear Westerns are doing very well, too (the audience is certainly there – a friend who manages a used bookstore says they can’t keep Westerns on the shelves, they sell out so fast).

    • Of course it’s sexist.

      They will also whine about how only your evil women are active, all the good ones are passive. This is because doing anything that society approves of is passive. Therefore, in order to be active, you must poison the prince. Saving him, no matter how much you have to do to do it, is passive.

      • I’m basic – I just love seeing the Evil Grown-up-High-School-Bitch-Queen get smacked down, and she’s nastier than a dozen Darth Vaders, and if she has a brain, she’s even more dangerous. 😛

        To be fair, for a long time, the female villain WAS a lot more active, and more interesting, than the female hero, but that’s been true of male villains and heroes, too. And there have been a lot of passive heroines in times past. But yeah, now it’s way too far over to the other extreme. Your heroine doesn’t have to be a kickass ninja sword-fighter in order to be a strong person.

        • It is YA and Thriller, but I recommend Andrew Klavan’s If We Survive for a female character whose strength is of character, not mad fighting ability.

          Villains are, almost by definition, more active, heroes are reactive. Until Moriarity initiates his plot no game can be afoot, leaving Holmes to shoot words into the walls and Mexican coke into his veins.

  18. I used to read lots of SF/fantasy, even went to come cons, and stopped a while back, not sure why. Told myself that I was busy, I was maturing, I was more realistic. Still went back and read my favorites all the time, Heinlein, Bova, Niven. Wouldn’t go find new authors, having been disappointed too often. Your blog and stories have brought me back to reading the genre I love best. Thank you. And I found you through Instapundit and PJMedia!

    • Thank you. Spread the word to other friends who quit — even those who don’t read PJM or instapundit.

      I need to write for the tatler again. In my COPIOUS spare time 😉

    • I got here through a link at Ace of Spades (I think), and liked the blog posts so much that I bought DST (for Kindle), and read the whole darned thing. I haven’t read (or enjoyed) a hard SF book since… hang on a sec… take off my shoes… carry the one… it’s in the decades. Unless you count the fact that I re-read Ender’s Game last year (which, come to think of it, may have been the last SF book I read). Thanks for making the genre interesting to me again, Sarah, and when I have time, I’ll buy some more of your books.

      (BTW, I do write, not published, but I have a couple of pretty wicked female villains, with male heroes battling them. The genre is Celtic Fantasy, which may explain why I’m strongly considering indie publishing.)

      • my Musketeer Mysteries (Under Sarah D’Almeida) I got dinged on making the murderers female the first three books. I have no clue why.

        And thank you. And Ace linked me? Or was it in comments? (Yes, I do hang out there. Occasionally. That place is a time sink, if you let it.)

        Also Celtic fantasy isn’t even halfway outre. You could probably go traditional, but as I told a colleague recently “Other than Baen, I wouldn’t recommend traditional to my worst enemy.”

        • What do you all write in or with? By that I mean long hand with legal paper or a computer program. And which might be better for noobs. Ive rather a few plot ideas and a shit at worj. This tuesday where ihave an overnight minding the store where I just have to stsy awake. 2230-0645. Figure I can get something done there right?

        • It was the post about how Robert’s school wanted to put him in Special Ed., but one of your more recent posts made the morning link dump. i agree about the time sink, which is why I don’t read the comments too often.

          As for Celtic fantasy… I haven’t read anything published recently. I tend to search out the old tales, and my books (yes, I’m up to two, it’s becoming a habit) reflect that. I have submitted to a couple of traditional publishers, and only Baen responded, with a nice note that said it was good, but too bucolic for them.

          • Yeah, it’s not Baen. Hey, consider publishing it yourself and promoting it here.

            As I said, Glenn says I can link my linkfests of readers’ writings.

            • I have been considering it since I discovered Amazon’s self-publishing service. What kind of indie publishing do you recommend?

              • It used to be Amazon, Smashwords and B & N and do it yourself. Some of these reprobates do it, and someone here might be able to link to my posts on covers and stuff if you’re interested. We’re trying to form a mutual assistance and (im)moral support group here.

          • Gnardo, I assume you’ve read Evangeline Walton’s Mabinogion Tetrology? All four books were re-released as a single volume in 2002.

            • I read two of the four (the only ones I could find at the time), and didn’t know about the omnibus. I just wish it was on Kindle. And my second book is based–loosely–on Gwydion. But it’s my own Celtic mishmash world, and I don’t pretend to follow the legend too closely.

        • I’ve heard some good things about DAW — but yeah, DAW and Baen are about the only ones where I’d be interested in going traditional.

    • I found A Few Good Men because of a review at GayPatriot and it got me back to reading Sci-Fi because I’d quit a while a go. I kept telling myself I was growing up, too busy, etc. but I really, really missed reading it and writing it. I’m finding myself taking some risks in what I read now and it’s really helped my writing become less stale so, thanks 🙂

  19. The thing is, because group mechanics dictate that the people responsible are deaf to feedback, and that group rewards are set for those who VOCALLY AND LOUDLY endorse the small and crazy group in control, once a group has gone some way down the crazy road, the ONLY thing you can do is leave and form another group.

    1. Once things get to that point, dissenters can be treated worse than nonbelievers. If you get out of the trench and amble in no man’s land, both sides will shoot at you—but the heaviest fire will come from the side you’re closer to.

    2. The people who control a sizable crazy group probably have a vested interest. They may not be crazy at all wrt whatever it takes to maintain their power, irrespective of the effect on the group’s ostensible goals or the welfare of the group’s members.

    • If you get out of the trench and amble in no man’s land, both sides will shoot at you—but the heaviest fire will come from the side you’re closer to.

      Yes – when radical groups get into power, the first people they go after, and the most viciously, are former members of the group who split from them – I guess it’s about feeling betrayed.

      • 1. Sez the Inner Party, If Emmanuel Goldstein did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him. So we did.

        2. If I want to heal a crazy institution—an industry, an organization, a government, etc—, it’s not just a matter of talking sense to the membership; the controlling clique must be co-opted or deposed. In either case, I’m forced into the realm of power politics, and my allies may suspect me of selling out. Since I’m human & imperfect, those suspicions might be understandable.

        3. All in all, I agree that starting a new game is usually the more attractive option, when available.

        • Nuke the site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

          • Billy Oblivion

            Wot Mr. Gauch said.

            A lot of this stuff is like Perl code. It’s easier to re-write than to fix.

            • You’d appreciate this: https://plus.google.com/114267598319367221935/posts/DNWoAr8fmQw

              The relevant excerpt (from a supposed history of programming languages..):

              1987 – Larry Wall falls asleep and hits Larry Wall’s forehead on the keyboard. Upon waking Larry Wall decides that the string of characters on Larry Wall’s monitor isn’t random but an example program in a programming language that God wants His prophet, Larry Wall, to design. Perl is born.

              • Billy Oblivion

                I don’t appreciate it, I’ve lived it.

                Had this kid once (literally. He was basically hired out of highschool) who knew perl inside and out. Unfortunately his idea of good programming was to demonstrate mastery of side effect programming, terse style and every trick in the book.

                Which made his shit even more unmaintainable than the average perl program.

                Yeah, there’s more than one way to do it, but there should be ONE clear, obvious, and therefore RIGHT way to do it.

                • So… have you tried Python?

                  1991 – Dutch programmer Guido van Rossum travels to Argentina for a mysterious operation. He returns with a large cranial scar, invents Python, is declared Dictator for Life by legions of followers, and announces to the world that “There Is Only One Way to Do It.” Poland becomes nervous.

                  (OK, I’ve discovered that I’m a huge fan of languages like Python and Objective-C that use that object style…)

      • George Orwell observed that Mosell might not get into power even if the Nazis conquered England and wanted a native Fascist group. After all “Lord Haw-Haw” was one of the rival splinter groups of the Blackshirts.

  20. I do not hate communism per se. I merely recognize that as a social meme it is incompatible with human nature when expanded much beyond a small familial group. On the other hand, I do hate loathe and would cheerfully execute with extreme prejudice those authoritarians who have used communism as their vehicle to exert control over their fellow human beings.
    Communism fails as soon as the group gets too big to keep track of the inevitable shirkers who fail to do their fair share. Once that starts, and it always does, hard working contributors quickly get pissed and decide to stop carrying the load for the lazy. And such is the inevitable fate of every commune type social experiment ever attempted.
    But I would submit that every so called communist government of the last century is anything but. You take any of them, peek beneath the veil, and what you have is a group of elites dominating their fellow citizens, most always on a “temporary” basis, just until things settle down and the natural order of a stable communistic society takes over. And oddly enough those elites because they are working so selflessly to ensure the eventual utopian society are entitled to the special perks and privileges that always seem to fall their way.
    Of course, I can’t help but remark that we seem to have not so dissimilar a situation in the US when you measure our very own elected officials against the party members of other nations. Not nearly so bad, and our free market economy such as still exists certainly gives us a better overall quality of life, but I can still see a significant number of our nearest and dearest liberal politicians meshing quite nicely with Politburo seats. Temporarily, you understand, just until they get things sorted out.

    • THIS also applies to academic group projects– which I loathe since I usually ended up doing the work so I would get the grade. I think that was a vile taste of communism. imho

      • Birthday girl

        Yes. My kids are getting their turn at this. “Yes, dear, I expect you to get an A in that class, even if it means you do the entire project yourself.” Gah.

        • My kids DO the project themselves more than half the time. Then there’s “tactfully convincing group their contributions are valued, even as you flush them.” Sigh. I HATED group work.

          • I prefer tactical to tactful, probably because I am about as tactful as a Cape buffalo.

          • Rob Crawford

            I dunno. Group work was the best preparation for my Real Job I ever had in college.

            Learned how to slack off real well…

            (Just kidding.)

          • Oddly, doing all the work in a group project was better than actually collaborating with people who thought they knew what they were doing, but in fact had no idea. Sometimes they interfered merely to get in your way, because they didn’t CARE about their grades either– and wanted to see you fail.

            If faced with this, I would convince them that I knew better than they how to get a good grade, so I could do the work without interference. Yes, *sigh* I’m a little crazy myself. 🙂

          • NOTHING is worse than school group projects. I hated them as a kid, and I hate them more as a mom. My youngest son (bright, lazy and verbally talented) had one group project where the father of one of the members called him at home and cursed at him for not doing what his darling wanted done. I wanted to deck him, but husband wouldn’t let me. Sigh.

      • My solution to group projects I did myself: I left the other students names off. Guess what happened when quarterly (or better yet, final) grades were released, and they had 0s next to their names for the Big Project…. >:)

        As I told one of the shirkers: “Not only will I backstab you — I will f*** you in the a** as you bleed out”. (I was *remarkably* creative in second grade…. >:) )

        • CF, you made me laugh. The first time I ever did a group project was in a speech class in college– yep I did it all. The next time I hand-picked my group (we made it a group of two). We were both hard-workers and after a couple of weeks of work, we had the best project… To get me to do a group project again, there would have to be a lot of bribery or blackmail. 😉

    • And they know so much more than we ordinary folk do, and it’s all for our own good, and of course, THEY are for THE PEOPLE and we clearly aren’t. (What is it with people who go on about THE PEOPLE and then pursue policies that shows they don’t think much of people at all?)

      • When I was eleven my dad told me to always distrust politicians talking about “the people.” He said most of the great crimes in history were committed under that banner.

        • But think of the children! If it saves just one life, isn’t it worth it? It’s just common sense.

          • librarygryffon

            As I used to remind my daughter, and now she likes to remind me “Common sense isn’t common”.

          • I know you’re being facetious, but every time I hear or see that phrase “If it saves just one life” I either want to puke or rip a throat out. See, what they always disregard is the unintended consequences of whatever “solution” they are pushing at the moment. When you take an honest look most often you will find that what might save one life winds up costing countless others, and somehow that never enters into the equation.
            The UK has strict gun control so gun deaths are fewer than here, but rapes are twice as likely, and home invasions are much more prevalent there that in the US. And overall violent crime is five times as likely as here based on the UN 2010 crime statistics.
            But when you’re selling something for your own benefit you never dwell on the negatives, do you? And make no mistake, our dear politicians are every bit as much salesmen as your typical used car dealer.

            • I have that reaction to the phrase “it’s for the CHILDREN!” Raises my blood pressure and brings on homicidal fantasies. And I’m a pediatrician.

              • Some time back that phrase elicited a response from me, a legislative proposal that would be of obvious benefit to “the children” but anathema to the Progressives mind. I forget what it was, something along the lines of arming teachers because “if it saves even one child it is worth it.”

                The point is to hoist them on their own petard, forcing them to acknowledge their “one child’s life” standard is hogwash — without giving them brainstrain over complex concepts like unintended consequences or trade-offs.

                • I had a psych professor in school who went over the statistics for child delinquency and such, and his conclusion was ” if you want a happy, stable kid, lock the door and screw his mother!” (I went to med school in the days it was almost all male)

            • Well, the question is: correlation or causation? Is it possible that the UK doesn’t have enough space for people to spread out, and if you added guns, you’d get more of those than in the US, too? Or does the thought of “that person might have a gun and hear me break the window” actually deter criminals? The latter is plausible, but considering the whole “in the UK, 100 miles is a long way” half of the joke, overcrowding would be something to look at as well.

              That said, I keep weapons near my bed, and boobytrap the house in certain ways. >_>

          • Saving one life at the cost of hundreds of others is only desirable if that life is mine.

    • Birthday girl

      “Communism fails as soon as the group gets too big to keep track of the inevitable shirkers who fail to do their fair share. ”

      A commune system that works must be totally voluntary and must have checks and balances. The Christian monastery system comes to mind. So voluntary that it requires a lengthy trial period and approval by the existing community for aspirants. Internal checks and balances vary, but include such concepts as rotating positions of authority, rotating areas of responsibility, a strict daily schedule so everyone works on the same schedule, etc. And then there’s the religious part of it, with God being bigger than the “state”. And these communities typicallly stay small, on the scale of 20-some members in each house, sometimes less; if they grow too much, they’ll often start a new house elsewhere.

      • Even they have a leader, who makes decisions for the welfare of everyone else; but while I might trust God to make those decisions, I’m not going to trust another human to do so.

        • Usually an elected leader, with a term of one to three years.

          • “We take it in turns to act as a sort of executive officer for the week… but ordinary decision of that officer have to be ratified at a special bi-weekly meeting… by a simple majority in the case of purely internal affairs… or by a two-thirds majority in the case of external affairs.”

            Oh, come on — *someone* was going to do it…. >;)

  21. Finished the movie version of 1776. Not too sold on the music. But it was funny. What next? I intend to get the Adams biography. Audiobook or ebook? I looked on my kindle and an audiobook version of 1776 was almost 30 dollars, is it worth it do you all think? sarah, I just finished A Few Good Men and thought it super rad. Rarely do books i read send me off to wikipedia. Had no clue about Greene for example. Though I thought it ended too quickly. I wantz more. 🙂 Anyway now that I am done, would there be stuff one misses, especially considering the recommendations earlier? And now off to work.

    • e or audio, your choice. Audio books are convenient for such activities as commuting, yard & garden, meal preparation and clean-up — activities that occupy the body far more than the mind. If that appeals to you I recommend Audible [ http://www.audible.com/ ], a subscription service that offers audiobooks in MP3 format at a very reasonable rate (basic subscription is about the cost of one hardbound a month and entitles you to a download of one book a month, with frequent sales and specials. It is possible to burn the audio books to disk, although that depends on your system and your burner.

      • Rad so the subscription gets you as many books as one wants? I see audibl3 is integrated with the kindl3 fire, have any of you use thst functionality. I also have an ipod. Oe maybe on the sd card of my android via bluetooth?

        • The basic subscription runs something like $15 and provides a monthly credit for one book. There are other options, see site for details.

          You are able to buy additional books, and terms vary. Generally the members’ price for books will be about $15, but they regularly offer “buy two, get three” or similar bargains. Every few months they seem to offer a bunch of books for $4.95, covering a wide range of genres. Go, browse, see.

          I will caution that their “Audible Manager*” suffers some problems, at least from my point of view, but those might be idiosyncratic and not bother others. IIRC, basic membership allows you to download to up to three computers and up to three devices — iPod, MP3, Tablet — per computer (again, check site for details.) Should a device “brick” on you their service rep will enable an alternate with relatively little fuss.

          I warn you that audiobooks are addictive.

          *Audible Manager is the program installed on your computer to assist in downloading and organizing your audible books. You can store them on your hard drive for loading onto devices or access through the Audible site.

    • I use audio books while I do household chores and cook. Right now I am re-listening to David McCullough read his book 1776. I also have greatly enjoyed his reading of his book Adams.

      One thing on 1776 many of the speeches are based on the writings of the characters, although not always at the time the piece is set. Yes, John Adams did observe that, ‘I am obnoxious and disliked, that cannot be denied.’

      • It should be noted that the two versions of 1776 are NOT the same work. The Broadway musical and the McCullough book are two separate efforts to relate the actions of that fateful year. Unlike the Broadway (and film) musical, McCullough’s book is not limited to Philadelphia and is a work of serious popular* history.

        *As opposed to “serious” history which is intended only for academics’ reading.

      • Me too on the audio. Keeps me cleaning, which I’d otherwise shirk.

  22. I admit I have not been keeping up with the genre. I don’t read the few magazines that are left and aside from our lovely gracious hostess and her cohorts in crime, I don’t really care much for the current crop of books on the front shelves of book stores.

    I really don’t want to read another break out novel by the author of the visionary twelve volume series with a cast of thousands that was decades in the making and still isn’t finished that was hailed as the acclaimed postmodern odyssey in lyrically styled minimalist prose which examines the inherent injustice in intercultural gender roles of an asexual indigenous alien species enduring the indifference of crass colonial neo-capitalistic marxist oppressors thwarting the glorious union of the pure proletarian religion of atheist unorthodoxy in a genre crossing work filled with irony that brilliantly defies categorization.

    And no, I have no idea what that means either.

    I’ve mostly been rereading my collection of older works or getting collections of older authors I like. I really appreciated Baen reissuing the works of Christopher Anvil and James Schmit a while back. They were fun.

    Not to hijack the thread but would anyone care to recommend new indie or traditional authors and books that have interesting ideas and are fun? Recommend yourself if you want. I’m wanting to make a list.

    • I second that motion! Still scared to try new stuff.

      • I believe one of Sarah’s regular commentors is working on a website to promote those of us writing what Sarah dubbed ‘human wave’ fiction. I am looking forward to it, as I would love to have a reliable source of ‘good stuff,’ not just friend recommendations that are too infrequently fresh and new. Now, recently books I have loved have included works by Pam Uphoff (Outcasts and Gods series), Larry Correia, John McClure (Puss & Boots in the 23rd Century), and that’s not even mentioning our fair hostesses’ books, which are a must-read. I have one more, bought, but not yet read, Chuck Gannon’s Fire with Fire, which I know will be good, having met him and read other works of his. I review on my blog from time to time, but have been too busy with school to read recently.

        On Wed, Apr 24, 2013 at 2:53 PM, According To Hoyt wrote:

        > ** > DrTanstaafl commented: “I second that motion! Still scared to try new > stuff.” >

      • I advise F. Paul Wilson’s Repairman Jack — part thriller, part fantasy. I haven’t read the last two (writing is making me illiterate.) but the rest was good. And Ric Locke’s Temporary Duty. And Kate Paulk’s con series which is just silly and fun.

        • Rob Crawford

          By “last two” do you mean the most recent two, or the two that come latest in the story’s timeline?

          Also I recommend his “The Keep” if you’re in the mood for horror. It’s a prequel to the Repairman Jack stories, and ties them into the Lovecraftian mythos. Though, frankly, Wilson’s “Other” is enough to make Cthulhu crawl into a corner, curl up and hope it passes him by…

      • Perhaps we should have a once monthly thread in which Sarah lets us run wild recommending stuff we read lately.

        • Actually I keep meaning to do that, and I have permission to insty link…

          • Well, I’ll recommend John C Wright’s The Golden Age, The Phoenix Exultant, and The Golden Transcedence, plus his series in progress Count to A Trillion and The Hermetic Millenia for SF.

            And his Orphans of Chaos, Fugitives of Chaos, and Titans of Chaos for fantasy, plus L. Jagi Lamplighter’s Prospero Lost, Prospero in Hell, and Prospero Regained. Hmm. And Miserere: An Autumn Tale by Teresa Frohock for dark fantasy.

      • I’ll recommend Sabrina Chase, Karen Myers, and Randall Farmer for indie authors. If you like mil-SF you should check out Baen’s stable, starting with Colonel Kratman and Mike Williamson.

        • Rob Crawford

          Via Kindle: Markos Kloos and Christopher Nuttal. Both do an excellent job starting on familiar territory but then taking their worlds in new and interesting directions.

          • I just started Markos Kloos. So far, so good. I really liked Andy Weir’s The Martian. I just recommended Heinlein, Michael Flynn’s Firestar and Sarah Hoyt’s Darkships to a young law student recently, who has an interest in space law. They all seemed liked good preparation. (I do what I can).

            • Something has come up in my kindle recommended by a Kloos wonder if its related? Amazon predicts are scarily on target ar times. Found a book that I didnt remember the title of, but could recall a part of the cover art. Needless to say that was bought then and there.

              • I got Kloos as an Amazon recommendation. Young man joins military to escape the tenements. Since it wasn’t recommended by a friend or someone here, I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop and get to something creepy, or a depressing message about how life isn’t worth the effort. So far, so good. Our hero has aspirations to Do Better, and that’ll always suck me in.

                • Dorothy Grant

                  Oh, I’ll recommend it. Marko’s Good People!

                  I know, telling you he’s awesome, and his kids are too, doesn’t guarantee good writing – however, it’s a fine fetching story, and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed at all.

                • Same thing. Just reading the sample. Any more like this?

        • Baen’s unstable are pretty good, too.

          Look for the Baen logo and sort from there. Every book guaranteed to have a plot.

          Making recommendations is rough without a baseline of your preferences, so telling us a few books you’ve liked will make it easier to advise. For example, if you like old-fashioned space opera with up-to-date science, try Warp Speed and The Quantum Connection by Travis S. Taylor (Doc Travis) for the kind of rollicking fun you used to get from Doc Smith and Keith Laumer. William Mark Simmons’ Chris Cséjthe (Half/Life) series is fun for fans of Urban Fantasy, as are Larry Correia’s books. Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan sage is sui generis SF fun, with different books in the series offering thriller, mil-SF, mystery or romance explorations.

          I recommend the Baen Free Library as sucker bai … er, an inexpensive means of sampling. Entire books available at little or no fee, downloadable to your e-reader of choice.
          http://www.baenebooks.com/c-1-free-library.aspx?__utma=222178315.1394950468.1366838743.1366838743.1366838743.1&__utmb=222178315.4.10.1366838743&__utmc=222178315&__utmx=-&__utmz=222178315.1366838743.1.1.utmcsr=google|utmccn=(organic)|utmcmd=organic|utmctr=(not%20provided)&__utmv=-&__utmk=244903430

          • Woah! Don’t know how that long URL got there. It will work, but bookmark this one: http://www.baenebooks.com/c-1-free-library.aspx

          • Doc Travis does also do a pretty rollicking Macross homage… if you cut out the aliens and the cheesy pop singer and leave the shape-shifting robot-fighter jet-tanks.

            • That sounds like my cup of tea. Lynn Minmae made my blood sugar spike. But the mecha . . . because who wouldn’t want an F-14 that turned into battle armor? 🙂

          • Thanks for the suggestions. Please keep them coming.
            I’ve read some early Repairman Jack stories but haven’t kept up with the series. It’s an interesting mix. I’ve also read some David Weber and John Ringo. Really liked the Troy series. I like how he thinks big.
            Have read a little Kratman and Mike Williamson but they’re a little too intense for my tastes. (I’m wimpy) Like Doc Travis. The nano scale casimir effect generators of Warp Speed are a neat idea and might even work.

            Haven’t read much fantasy in a while. Like Tolkien, Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, early Terry Brooks, David Eddings. Tried the Wheel of Time, but didn’t care for it. (Too long to get anywhere, too many character, and too much battle of the sexes. ) Liked Monster Hunters. Got about half way through Hodgson’s The Night Land. Like his Carnacki the ghost finder stories a lot more. Recently started on Robert Howard. Conan is a lot smarter and more interesting then the movies with Arnold makes him out to be. It’s several years old but liked the Bureau 13 novels of Nick Polletta. Sort of a proto Monster Hunters. You know it’s fantasy because it had a competent version of the Monster Control Bureau..

            Authors I Like. Jack Vance, Eric Frank Russell, Leigh Bracket, Christopher Anvil, H. Beam Piper, AE Van Vogt, Cordwainer Smith, Doc Smith, James White, Asimov, Clarke, Gordon Dickson, Keith Laumer, Fred Saberhagen, Arthur Conan Doyle. Ellery Queen, Edward Hoch, Leslie Charteris.

            Hate New Wave from the late sixties and seventies. Not a fan of Harlen Ellison. Too much angry candy.

            Recommend the Gutenberg Science Fiction bookshelf for free public domain stories.
            http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Science_Fiction_%28Bookshelf%29

            They have a collection of early Astounding Stories, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Lester Del Rey, Randall Garrett, Harry Harrison, Edmond Hamilton, Murray Leinster, Andre Norton, Buck Rogers and many others

            • Oh and here’s a list of kindle titles I’ve gotten.

              Hegemony Mark Kalina

              Tales of Henghis Hapthorn Matthew Hughes

              Through Struggle, the Stars (The Human Reach)
              The Desert of Stars (The Human Reach)
              John Lumpkin

              The Abyss Above Us Book 1: A Horror Novel
              The Abyss Above Us Book 2: A Horror Novel
              Ryan Notch

              The A.I. War, Book One: The Big Boost (Tales of the Continuing Time)
              Daniel Keys Moran

            • Hmmm…

              For fantasy, give Brandon Sanderson a spin. He podcasts with Howard Tayler (who’s “Schlock Mercenary” inspired the Troy series as a non-canonical prequel, and Tayler in the books is a not-quite-Mary-Sue of Howard) and while I can’t stomach the Wheel of Time either, I loved the Mistborn trilogy, and so far really like “The Way of Kings”

              For Sci Fi – You may like Neal Stephenson. For Snow Crash – the first chapter or two at a B&N will tell you if the wordplay on that one is too clever for its own good (the main character is “Hiro Protagonist”), but I found the Cryptonomicon to be an awesome WWII/modern day techno thriller involving comms tech, ditto REAMDE, and I’m not sure what I can say about the main themes of Anathem without spoiling large chunks of the story.

              Also love Mike Flynn’s “Firestar” books. IIRC you can get “Falling/Fallen Angels” with him and Pournelle for free?

              • Speaking of Stephenson, check out the Mongoliad and the associated Foreworlds stories for some nice secret history historical fiction. It’s a shared world project between him and a group of others and I’m enjoying the current Spanish stories.

            • Try Harry Turtledove’s Videssos books, especially The Legion cycle (5 books) and the Krispos saga.

              David Gemmell’s Legend and related books ought appeal.

              Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon novels and Sharpe’s would probably suit.

              Wiki them for summaries.

              • “O’er the hills and o’er the main
                Through Flanders, Portugal and Spain.
                King George commands and we obey
                Over the hills and far away.”

                I need to find the Sharpe movies again…

                (Second the Sharpe recommendation.)

                • Those who like Sharpe may also like Dan Abnett’s Gaunt’s Ghosts series. (Yes it’s in the section of the bookstore marked “tie-ins.” Yes, I’m still recommending it.)

                • Sean Bean gets to play the hero and his character hasn’t died yet. 😉

                  • Although, unless you tendencies run towards being a completist I might advise avoiding the movie Sharpe’s Gold. The regular cast is good. Unfortunately, not realizing the series would be such a success, the writer’s had borrowed too many elements of the book for the earlier movies and the story is a bit thin and patchy.

            • Yay! Another Gordy Dickson fan!

            • In the urban fantasy realm, besides our host’s work, I like Benedict Jacka’s series, Mike Carey’s Felix Castor stuff, and Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files (although I think the first couple of books don’t match the latter 2/3rds of the series ). Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series got read but I’m not enthusiastic about it.

            • Joel Rosenberg – who I miss – wrote two books that were echoes of the Dorsai stuff in a way. “Hero” and “Not For Glory” but his were darker IMO than the Dorsai, based on a planet of people (“Metzada”) derived from Israel that had no resources but their services as mercenaries .

              (NOT Joel C. Rosenberg)

    • OK then, RR – you’ve made it ok for me to reccommend myself here, although I do not write science fiction. I write carefully-researched and historically accurate historical fiction, from a positive American point of view, and without gender-bashing, but with sympathy for other cultures. A couple of other contributors here have read my books – (Hi, Robin! *waves across room*). 3/4ths of my enthusiastic fans whom I have met are guys, including the last-but-one commandant of the Marine Corps. I believe this is because if you bend down and squint at my stuff sideways, you can categorize it as ‘Western’.
      I’m on Amazon, and my books are also available as reasonably priced Kindle editions. (Book blog is here, if you’d like a taste – http://celiahayes.wordpress.com/)

      • Hi, yourself! You always did have excellent taste, so seeing you in these parts makes sense. The more I read from our hostess, the more impressed I get.

        (Back on topic) I was once one of Charlie’s “lizards” over at that funny-colored toy place. ‘Twas back during the Dan Rather “National Guard Memos” fiasco. I even got highlighted in an article there that brought my little home webserver (an old 100 mHz Pentium) thousands of visitors. Just Google “Robin the ranting raven sent email to Mr. Abagnale” at that site. Then, after a few years…eeeewww! What happened? I don’t know.

        It is a cancer on our society that these people have grabbed more than the handlebars of a scooter. They hold the steering wheel guiding millions of our kids toward the cliffs. Don’t think the Tea Parties are the answer. They cannot wrest control of the institutions that determine culture back from the nuts. That’s were we must win in the long run: On school boards, editorial boards, and media company boards.

      • A couple of other contributors here have read my books – (Hi, Robin! *waves across room*)…

        Wah… huh? I don’t think I’ve ever…

        (Looks up at previous comment)

        Oh. I’m not used to meeting other people who share a first name with me. *waves* Hi, Robin! 🙂

      • I, too, have enjoyed Celia Hayes’ work, and would suggest you give it a try.

        You might try the works of another sometime poster here – Stephanie Osborn – whose Displaced Detective series (science fiction/mysteries) has proven quite enjoyable.

        Of the three in my household, readers all, I am the one who reads the least science fiction — I have tended more to histories, mysteries, Austen (a category all to herself) and some thick stuff I would never assume others would ever read for pleasure. Therefore I will leave most recommendations to others.

    • Keith Laumer. The Retief stories are hilarious. I’m fond of the Lafayette O’Leary books, too.

      Classic sf and fantasy:
      Henry Kuttner. C. L. Moore.
      Leigh Brackett, the Queen of Planet Stories. She’s probably my favorite science fiction writer.

      William Hope Hodgson’s The Night Land is the best bad book ever written, or the worst good one. Try The House on the Borderland first; if you like that, attempt The Night Land (and skip chapter 1 if you find it intolerable.) Science fiction and horror.

      Pamela Dean’s The Secret Country trilogy.

      The Awntyrs off Arthure at the Terne Wathelyne, if you have the patience for Middle English more archaic that Chaucer’s.

      Byron’s Manfred.

      • Oh, and: the all-verse version of William Morris’ Sigurd the Volsung. (I’m going to make an ebook of this if no one else has the all-verse version available. Gutenberg didn’t when last I looked.)

        Philip Wayne’s translation of Goethe’s Faust, Part One.

        Agatha Christie’s Sleeping Murder.

        Dorothy L. Sayers, The Nine Tailors. I like Lord Peter Wimsey in general; I think this book and Christie’s above are the best individual mysteries ever written.

        Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe. Sherlock Holmes.

        Narnia (didn’t particularly care for The Last Battle, but fond of the rest. Tolkien.

      • If we’re going older-school instead of current authors, I’d have to put in one for Susan Coopers “Dark is Rising” series.

    • Definitely consider David Weber and John Ringo. They write a variety styles so you might not like them all, but one is bound to interest you.

    • John Lambshead’s _Lucy’s Blade_. The the story is very good.
      I almost didn’t buy it, since I was deeply disappointed by the fantasy coming out of the New Wave in the 70’s and 80’s (fantasy should be fun, not full of self loathing and depressing, dag-nabbit. I can do self loathing on my own without plunking down good money for it)

    • “. . . break out novel by the author of the visionary twelve volume series with a cast of thousands that was decades in the making and still isn’t finished that was hailed as the acclaimed postmodern odyssey in lyrically styled minimalist prose which examines the inherent injustice in intercultural gender roles of an asexual indigenous alien species enduring the indifference of crass colonial neo-capitalistic marxist oppressors thwarting the glorious union of the pure proletarian religion of atheist unorthodoxy in a genre crossing work filled with irony that brilliantly defies categorization.”

      Retro Rockets, that was totally awesome. If you ever read one of my books, you have my permission to post that as a review.

      Even though only the “defies categorization” fits very well.

    • Well, if we’re throwing our hats into the ring and your looking for something that’s not typical, I write fairy tales and I love the original endings. 2 shorts up on Amazon right now, several novels with me editor (who is currently in grad school and taking her sweet precious time getting them back to me) and I put up flash fictions every Friday on my blog. I’m also getting ready to start a weekly steampunk serial that will have a chapter up every Wednesday and I’ll collect it into a novel once it’s finished. So, there you go, a couple things to read if you want something a little different.

    • WHHEEEEE!!! Lots of recommendations! Thanks everyone.

    • OK Retro, since you asked for it. A click on my name above will take you to my wife’s novel, China Harbor: Out of Time. It is a thriller, more cerebral than a shoot-em-up, although there is some of that. If you enjoy immersion in a different culture, a theory of time travel that makes sense and doesn’t destroy the possibility of a good story, a believable, truly heinous, yet in the end, oddly sympathetic villain, and a little humor, I highly recommend it.

      Also since you mention a few mystery writers, you might enjoy her short story collection, Facets http://www.amazon.com/Facets-ebook/dp/B00ADCYJ8Y/ref=pd_sim_sbs_kstore_1. It’s a collection that roams from horror to weird to comic to sentimental. If you read the first story in the preview (less than 500 words), you’ll know whether you can take it or not.

    • And no, I have no idea what that means either.

      That the tendentious twaddle turns the brain into mush.

      and

      That the sentence structure in Faulkner’s Light in August will look ever more delicious.

    • *recommends self*

      Queen of Roses, a story about an indentured servant on a cruise (space)ship, her fellow servant (the pilot), the crew, the passengers, and the stowaways. Bit of a fluffy SF, bit of a cozy mystery (I’m told). Some people don’t like the ending, according to reviews.

      Second-page spoiler: AI. 🙂

      May also want to look at short stories: Wahnt (“leaders”), and “What Really Matters,” the meatiest of my Kintaran stories. (Space Opera-esque cat-centaur aliens.) “Leaping Lizards,” the first-written, is free; click my name.

      The others of mine tend to be fantasy, and the other novels are fantasy-romance.

      *recommends others*

      You might also want to look at https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/mcahogarth — but do be warned that some of her books have tri-gendered aliens with biologically enforced weaknesses, and a lot of the plots tend to revolve around dealing with that. (One of those I like best is “His Neuter Face.”) You may wish to stick with her SF-in-space.

      If you haven’t been reading the Liaden books by Lee and Miller… Well, Agent of Change is free on Amazon.

      If you haven’t been reading Bujold… DEAR GODS WHY NOT AIEEEEE! Most of Bujold’s Vorkosigan-universe books can be jumped into at any point, though the best starting places are either Shards of Honor (also in the omnibus Cordelia’s Honor) and The Warrior’s Apprentice (also in the omnibus Young Miles, I believe). Read Brother in Arms before you read Mirror Dance. Read Komarr before A Civil Campaign.

      If you are not averse to zombies — or even if you think you are — look for Mira Grant’s Feed. It’s post-zombie-apocolypse, and humanity is still kicking along; a trio of journalists are following one of the presidential candidates, and finding out that there’s something going on that people will kill to keep hidden. It’s pretty easy to hide things when all you have to do is kill one person inside a “safe” zone and let them start a zombie outbreak… (I believe I am told the actual genre of Feed is “thriller.”)

  23. As usual the comments have ranged far afield, but as to your points about SF publishers, well let’s just say I’m one of those who never lost his love for SF, just quit reading anything published after the late 70’s. For SF I stuck to movies and TV which for a time kept the lunacy to a minimum to at least draw customers. Also there was still lots of old stuff to read.

    After reading an abortion apologetic in his pages, I sent the esteemed editor of Analog a story called “The Last of the Morons” that gently pointed out how we might be missing something by making our own choices about who was best suited to live. It seemed a very appropriate SF approach, like the classic “In the Country of the Blind”. I was rewarded with a diplomatically worded retort that it amounted to propaganda.

    By the 80’s I had switched to writing software as both more lucrative and more rewarding.

    May indie publishing live long and prosper!

  24. I’m always amazed that occasioanlly I come across as the “rational” person in conversations (ok..only once in a while, but it happens). Having seen teh crazy manifest, I have to say you’ve done a great job describing its onset.

  25. How many times do you run across people who go “Oh, I used to read fantasy/science fiction but then I just stopped. I’m not sure why.”

    It would be better to say “but then I just stopped reading new stuff.” Until my daughter, who was never on the bus found and pointed out Hoyt! and Ringo to me I was just re-reading classis Heinlein, with some Card and Pournelle. That is why I have a large library, good books can be read countlesstimes and are always enjoyable.

    Your AFGM is one to put in the library and re-read again and again.

    • I fell into the Baen Habit – though I’d read other books by them but never particularly went “Oh, It’s Baen, I’m getting it” – via Ringo. I fell into Ringo because I got to know the guy doing the cover art for some of the Price Roger and early Aldenatta books and we ran into the same bug beta testing Lightwave 3D. And I was hooked.

      Check out Neal Stephenson. Some of the wordplay in his earlier books can be too clever, but he’s pro people and pro big ideas. Some of his newer stuff is more techno thriller, but has enough science to qualify as SciFi.

  26. The thing about being on the centerline is everything is filtered to uselessness. It’s only by examining the crazies off on both shoulders and doing YOUR OWN filtering that you get any clues what is really happening.

    • Standing on the yellow line is a good way to get hit by cars going either direction. Or as the old saying goes, straddling the fence just gets you a sore crotch.

      • or straddling the fence– you never know what side of the fence you’ll fall on–

        • There is a difference between standing in the center (I keep thinking of the Biblical phrase about being lukewarm and spit out of His mouth) and running so far to the end that you will not accept as friends or allies anyone who doesn’t believe exactly as you do. (I’d have to stop talking to my entire nuclear family.)

          • 1. This brought to mind DES’s post above. Telling me that Unless you _____, you are a no-good ______ is a surefire way to get on my bad side unless the situation truly is extreme and I can make a difference.

            2. Once a proselytizer gets me out of my mundane mindset, he is more than halfway home. Once I’m in a state of fear, angst, existential crisis, etc, I am ripe for conversion. I know he knows this and I set my skeptometer accordingly.

      • Rob Crawford

        “Or as the old saying goes, straddling the fence just gets you a sore crotch.”

        NEVER straddle an electric fence.

        • Or barbed wire fence.

          • Wayne Blackburn

            My cousin was helping me over a barbed wire fence one time when I was little, and dropped me straddle of it. Ouch.

            My aunt got great laughs years later telling me that the doctor said to her, “Got him in the balls, huh?” (Yes, my father’s family was very sheltered – but he was in the Navy, so he doesn’t count)

  27. When I was in grad school, it was fascinating to watch the faculty. My department had two separate groups, and the twain never met except for awards ceremonies or departmental committees. The older, libertarian to conservative, pre-Boomers, European historians for the most part, formed one group. The younger set, Boomers to Gen X all of them, formed the second group. There was one older cross-over, who had managed to tick off everyone by resting on his laurels (as in, comes back from summer break a month late and expects his students to do work in his absence). The younger set talked politics, the older set just shook their heads and watched, and groused with us grad students over beer.

    Speaking of the rewards of gratuitous sex and fantasy violence: G.R.R.M. has just bought the old movie theater near the Plaza in Santa Fe. It’s the headline on the local newspaper. I didn’t stop to read the article and see what he plans to do with it.

  28. Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter

    Yes, literacy has gone down somewhat, but the number of people who read for pleasure has stayed remarkably constant. And the internet is forcing kids to at least read easily. Writing is something different. The whole myth of “people don’t read anymore” is just that, a myth.

    It would be interesting to see real numbers. My own personal feeling is that literacy has increased. Of course I live in Canada, and our educational system isn’t a dysfunctional mess, kids still learn things here, including believe it or not, critical thinking.

    As to Military SF – that seems to be a heavily British-American (i.e. Imperial) thing. You don’t see much of it anywhere else. Whether that’s because Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, etc. publishers don’t pick up on it, or because readers in those countries aren’t as interested, I’m not sure. I know that I like it, but I’m different.

    Hell, I write it.

    Wayne

    • Since I live in a State that has a lot of children who can’t even speak English in the school system, it seems (I heard the statistics on a local political program today so take the source) that only 30 percent of the youth are graduating. Most of them have to go to preparation classes to even get into college— so literacy doesn’t look too good from where I am looking–

    • I don’t know about other countries, but quite a lot of mil-sf is translated into German. So there must be a significant German-speaking audience. Without doing any research my guess would be that mil-sf sells better in markets with either currently or historically an active military culture.

  29. Did the stuff on Baens free library drop off? I recall a lot and now there seems to not be much. With an update since january of 2012 according to the site? Have I missed something?

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      A lot of books were removed from the Baen Free Library because of the deal between Baen and Amazon.com. IIRC, part of the problem was that Amazon doesn’t like ebooks sold in Kindle Store being available for less elsewhere. Some authors didn’t mind their books being free in the Baen Free Library but didn’t want them free in the Kindle Store. Some books have been restored to the Baen Free Library (as well as being free in the Kindle store). In many of those cases, you’ll find “Second Editions” of the free ebooks available. Oh, Sarah’s first Shifter novel _Draw One In The Dark_ is available free on the Kindle Store and has a Second Edition available for purchase.

  30. Rabbit trail:

    “. . .the same way that when classical music went un-listenable (totally a word) the drop in sales meant that ‘listeners are getting dumber.'”

    Two small issues here. I’m assuming that what you refer to when you say, “classical music went un-listenable,” is what I refer to (having come out–as far out as is possible and still retain whatever benefits there may be–of a “classical” and academic musical background) to as noise manufactured by soi-disant “serious” or “academic” composers. *bleh* (One of my classmates is well-recognized in such quarters nowadays. Her “music” is “totally” your word. :-)) But I’ll give you the “classical music” tag since most of the “academic” and “serious” composers of toxic garbage would probably embrace it themselves. *gagamaggot*

    But. . . listeners ARE also getting dumber. Anyone with an ear for it can clearly tell that the manufactured “music” of recent decades–from both “serious” or “academic” composers and from the music “industry”–is more and more cobbled up to appeal to people with the sensibilities of over-cooked cabbage. The manufactories of both the music industry and academia are awash in noisy garbage. And MASSES of people just eat it up with a spoon. That takes some serious dumbitudinousness. (And THAT is like totally a word, too. :-))

    I suspect that ages past were no less full of garbage “music” as well, but the crap just didn’t get pushed as hard as nowadays and most is probably lost because saving it (in the form of written music–manuscripts and printed texts) was just too resource intensive. Nowadays? Any tin ear with a hammer, a bandsaw and a stray cat can “publish” toxic crap noise and call it music. *shrugs* There is still a pot load of good music floating around (some even gets through the music industry and academic filters. . . somehow), but finding it is not even as easy as finding well-written and literately proofread and edited “indie” books (something that is–happily!–becoming easier and easier to do).

    BTW, IMO almost all “serious” or “academic” composers nowadays are just the musical *shudder* equivalent of what Holly Lisle has labeled in the literary realm as being writers of “suckitudinous fiction”. *sigh*

    • At least it popular music, the suck seemed to come in with punk and the abandoning of the ties to blues. “Three chords and the truth” ruined musicianship.

      • “No plot but MESSAGE” ruined science fiction.

      • OK – I like punk. Some punk. Used to enjoy Bad Religion (often vilified as being too “pop” because they were fairly melodic) untli their attitude/message rendered the rest of it moot as I outgrew the more nihilistic end of the music scene (Industrial, etc..). Still love the Offspring. high energy, great workout music – and subversively individualistic.

        Speaking of three (okay – four) chords:

        Now – despite my defense of Punk (one reason for which is that with my Lithuanian background I grew up with a strong folk music tradition, and love the old hymnals/etc. as well – many of which are no more melodically complicated than much of the rock of the last few decades but more likely to tell a story) – I find that the stuff I’ve picked up in the last decade or two outside of celtic/folk (Heather Alexander anyone?) has been in some way very dense/intricate. Trance, with the many interweaving layers. Symphonic metal (Nightwish, Within Temptation) – again, very complex melodies, often many melodic shifts.

        And of course music soundtracks by better composers (With Danny Elfman bridging both Rock and Orchestral. And gods do I love the first album…. “Nothing wrong with capitalism” indeed…) My family is getting tired of the “Hans Zimmer/pirates/TRON:Legacy/BattleLA mix Sunday mornings… heh…

        • I went to a church last year because I wanted to hear the hymnals. To my shock and surprise, they aren’t singing the old songs anymore. I am saddened by this. There is some beautiful harmonic music in the old hymns.

          • You might look around at different churches, or check with ones with multiple services to see if one of the services is “traditional”.

            On Thu, Apr 25, 2013 at 10:30 AM, According To Hoyt wrote:

            > ** > Cyn Bagley commented: “I went to a church last year because I wanted to > hear the hymnals. To my shock and surprise, they aren’t singing the old > songs anymore. I am saddened by this. There is some beautiful harmonic > music in the old hymns.” >

            • The Lutheran church is the only one here that might do it and it would be impossible to get my hubby to come with me. So I have a small easy to play book with a few hymns and when I crave it, I play and sing… (The rest of the churches here are evangelical or some form of it).

          • While it may sound like a damning condmenation of older vs newer music, I think the real issue is this: The “new” pop-style songs aren’t any less complicated. hell – the guy at the last church I went to had an awesome voice and the melodies were at least as complicated, usually more so.

            1) A bit of mental distate at borrowing from so may 70’s and 80’s melodic tropes that deservedly did not last. This is me personally

            2) HARMONICS: the old songs were slower, simpler, and were structured to take advantage of a group of people singing on and off key together so that the sum of all the voices resulted in something beautiful from the blending. The ‘new” songs can be fun and catchy, but they are suited for individuals, or small groups with OK voices, and come across as muddy when done by the hundreds.

            In short, the modern sogwriters don’t know or write to their instruments when it’s not “me me” – And that mudiness, and the me-me individuality breaks some of the cohesion.

            • Exactly– it is very muddy– plus you could take a choir of okay voices and make the older hymns sound angelic. The modern music doesn’t have that quality. Many of these songwriters did not have the structured learning that was involved with songwriters in the past. (once again a lot is lost because we all want to be NATURAL)

            • When I was in Las Vegas I was asked to be in a women’s choral group. I didn’t have the time. The next time through I was too ill. Now– I have some time, but because of my immune system, I have to stay away from large groups of people– see my problem? lol

            • “Back in the day” — before widely available commercial music — most people learned to sing, at least a little. Had to; if you wanted entertainment you couldn’t turn on a radio or pop a record on.

              Singing is a learnable skill, and a useful one for appreciating music. The fact that so few acquire it these days is probably reflected in our musical tastes and the “need” for autotune.

            • “The “new” pop-style songs aren’t any less complicated.” Urm, yes, they are, but that’s not really the point. They are not only more simplistic musically, for the most part, they are also as simple and dumbed down lyrically as can be, appealing in every way to a lazy mind, lazy ears and lazy voices. However, many of the “pop-style” songs now being sung in churches can (though they rarely do) find a healthy use, but the simple, lazy minds of the church leaders rarely stretch that far, and CERTAINLY do not want their attendees to do so. . . because that would take some real WORK by the leaders. “I’ve found a formula that keeps ’em fat, dumb and happy. Just plug another happy-clappy [or whatever is popular right now with the musically deaf, dumbed-down crowd] in and go.”

              “HARMONICS: the old songs were slower, simpler, and were structured to take advantage of a group of people singing on and off key together. . .”

              Oh, dear. Your experience of “the old songs” is certainly limited. My personal experience of “old” church music encompasses not only 60+ years of exposure to and participation in active church worship music but in a lifetime–yes, beginning in early childhood–of exposure to centuries of church music. “slower and simpler” harmonically or otherwise is only something someone with an extremely limited exposure to (Christian–or heck, Jewish) church music could apply broadly to “the old songs” with a straight face.

              And, “group of people singing on and off key together”? Not in the churches I grew up in. There was a far, far, FAR greater number of folks who could actually carry a tune and ad lib harmonically within the established tonality than can commonly be found in any such group today. (I say “commonly” because there are exception, and I enjoy greatly visiting in “piney woods” churches here in the Ozarks where there remains a strong tradition of actual singing. . . in a few of them.)

              BTW, I noticed a decline in ability to even recognize, let alone accurately reproduce pitches during my last stint teaching vocal and instrumental music in public schools. There are a lot of factors feeding the phenomenon, but manufactured noise from the pop music industry leads the pack. Over 40 years of working with adult and children’s choirs, instrumental groups, and individual voice students, both in public schools and in volunteer music groups, both secular and sacred, th decline in folks, young and old, who are able to recognize and reproduce tonality with any degree of accuracy has declined. In most cases, young and old, it’s not a hearing problem, and with most I’ve been able to teach them to actually HEAR and reproduce pitches, but the numbers of those deaf to pitch has grown steadily and it’s been disconcerting to experience. (Another BTW: almost ALL of those unable to find and reproduce pitch THINK they are doing so. There are reasons for that as well. . . )

              But hey. That’s just me, I suppose.

              • “Another BTW: almost ALL of those unable to find and reproduce pitch THINK they are doing so.”

                Not me 🙂 I KNOW that my singing makes dogs howl mournfully; the sad part… I like to sing.

        • *checks out Nightwish on iTunes*
          *samples*
          *glares*
          Dangit, I’m feeling cash-pinched right now!
          *wishlists*

      • But I like punk rock. Actually started with the clash. Then finished school and epiphany: I wanna keep my own money thanks very much. School friends led me to instapundit which led me to here. But do I agree now with everything I did in high school? Nope,I’m evolving. Constantly it seems.

      • And when Tony Bennett made his come-back, youngsters were astounded and delighted to find you could sing with actual skill and training.

    • I would have to disagree with you, your basically giving the same argument for music as is given for literary fiction, the unwashed masses aren’t smart enough to appreciate it.’ I would say the unwashed masses are voting with their pocketbook, so it all depends on your criteria for good. While Toby Kieth (who is indie by the way, indie publishing hit mainstream in music long before it did in books) may not be compositionally intricate, his bank balance would argue that a lot of people would consider him good. Same could be said for AC/DC whose Back in Black album is STILL selling well enough to compare to many current artists.

      • “I would have to disagree with you, your [sic] basically giving the same argument for music as is given for literary fiction, the unwashed masses aren’t smart enough to appreciate it.’”

        I’d not say that, exactly. The “unwashed masses” you postulate ARE certainly musically deaf and dumb, though. But as I and others have said, that’s largely due to training, and the biggest source of training for the “unwashed masses” is the great mass of toxic sludge being poured into their ears by the overwhelming majority of manufactured noise coming from the music industry. Sure, they buy it. They don’t really know any better. It’s not “smartness” but simple ignorance. They know what they like, all right, it’s just that what they know is so feeble.

        The (musical” Principles–not formal structure–of Classicism (capital “C”, not “classicism”) would serve our entire society, not just its musical sensibilities and not just in pop, academic or “serious” music, well. IIRC, those principles, which can apply to any STYLE of music (well, except for “rap” *gagamaggot*) can be loosely summed up thus:

        balance
        clarity
        accessibility
        expressiveness
        edification

        (Ex: Future music historians may well single John Williams’ film scores out as the single greatest orchestral contribution of the 20th/early 21st Century because, whether they put it that way or not, he so clearly embodies these principles in his music, while thinking, as I often do, “WTF?!?” about so much of the other crap being churned out.)

      • They were a pretty new act when I saw them in London. I really did not mind that AC/DC blew The Who’s sound system, but not the stage monitors. It was kind of funny to watch as they kept performing. It took over two songs before the roaring crowd at Wembley Stadium made it clear that they were protesting what had happened and not cheering along.

        I have pretty eclectic tastes in music. I was raised on a combination of various classical forms, including Opera, show tunes from the American songbook, and a wide range of folk. Just as there is a single instrument, but a difference in fiddle and a violin, so there is in the manner the voice is used in different styles. Does this make one better than the other? Or is that a matter of taste?

        I find some of what is popular out there a waste of time, or worse. And, yes, there are lyrics which promote highly destructive behavior — but that is a different argument. I keep in mind that those who appreciate kinds of music which I find worthless might find some of what I listen to gives them the willies.

    • As someone who doesn’t have a tin ear (family has a talent in music), I have a hard time finding good music that doesn’t hurt my ears. Many of these singers can’t even sing in key, on tune, etc. Digitized music has loosened the hold of music industry—yeah, but there is also a lot of dregs to wade through. Still if you there is some good stuff out there. (I really don’t have the time to wade through You-tube though).

      • Ouch– I need some more coffee– If you look hard there is some good indie musicians. 😉 My thinking was going faster than my fingers I think. lol

        • There ARE a lot (numerically, just not percentage) of really good musicians–composers, songwriters (yeh, a specialist class of composer ;-)), performers–around today. It’s just that they’re often, as you say, difficult to find.

          • One problem is that the public is so ill-educated as to what makes music good (one hint: “it has a good beat and is easy to dance to” is not a primary criterion) that competent musicians (much less good ones) are hard put to make a living. With palates trained to Mickey D, how do you sell good burgers?

            • Oh, indeed, Res, indeed. *sigh*

              But. . . “good burgers” do sell, if one can just get folks to actually TASTE them. Think a bit on why Beethoven, et al, are listened to and enjoyed a LOT by the same musical illiterates. . . as long as they don’t KNOW they’re listening to a classical composer’s music. . . and a great action sequence or whatever is happening in front of their eyes (EX: Die Hard: Beethoven’s 9th; Die Hard 2: Finlandia, etc.).

              I once played Finlandia for a a 7th grade class of complete musical dunces–they’d spent at least the previous six years–more, since early childhood– being deadened to music not only by mass market slop but by a “music teacher” who “taught” nothing but child abuse in the classroom, by doing his best to kill any music they had had to begin with *sigh*. (I still hate that guy.) I simply told them to play along for about 10 minutes–really only about 8–and close their eyes, listen and imagine a story to go along with the music, as though they were writing a movie script. They “got” it.

              Even musical dunces–MADE so by popular fecal matter shoved at them by the music industry and by “child abuse in the classroom” (DYS-education)–with ears deadened by years of abuse, can appreciate real music, if it’s framed in a way that distracts them, even for a very short time, from a poisoned, shallow, deeply-conditioned cultural viewpoint.

              (Did that class of 7th graders go on to switch to listening to better music all the time? Nope. Peer pressure, cultural poison and marketing to the lowest common denominator militated against that, but did they learn to at least enjoy it, have some understanding and appreciation of it and through that actually start hearing. . . and being able to reproduce real tunes? Yep. But it was a tough slog for a while.)

              • I’m very word oriented — and I am mid range deaf, or at least I’ve been since around thirteen (Interestingly, my son has discovered that songs I learned BEFORE then I sing on pitch. After that … er…) — so until about thirty five classical music BORED me. I kept looking for the words, as it were.
                Then one day I don’t remember why I was stuck in a room with only classical for about three hours. And I had to really listen. I like it. I really like it. In fact “Money for a symphony subscription to sit and JUST listen” (It’ s impossible to do that in my urban house, EVEN with noise cancelling headphones) is on my wish list for “someday when I’m doing really well.”

                • I’m word oriented myself, if there aren’t lyrics chances are I won’t like it. Exceptions are usually Celtic (including Celtic rock) music and Wagner, the ONLY classical composer I can stand to listen to without running from the room screaming. You may consider Beethoven good music, I consider it a crime against humanity that someone didn’t take a doublejack to his fingers. I can agree that Beethoven, Mozart, et. al. created complex, intricate music; but that doesn’t mean it is GOOD. Good is a subjective term, it is either a personal preference, or needs some other definition, if the definition is: can be played well by a fifty piece or larger symphony, yes Beethoven and Metallica both qualify (and Johnny Cash doesn’t), if it is sells well to the public; well Johnny Cash and Metallica would outrank Beethoven, if it is: stands the test of time, well Beethoven is the only one who has really been around long enough to say for sure, but Johnny Cash seems to be holding his own so far, if on the other hand the criteria for good is: can be played by a lone minstrel with one instrument and still get all the nuances across, well Johnny Cash has the others beat hands down.

                  • Ouch– I like Mozart and Beethoven– I don’t listen as much in my 50s, but I was raised on classical and did play the piano (classical–what else) for awhile. I hit a glass ceiling on my abilities. I am a competent craftsman when It comes to the piano, but I don’t reach the heights of a pianist with talent and training. It was a hard lesson. 😉

                  • As Mark Twain purportedly advised, Wagner’s music is better than it sounds.

              • I keep being reminded that there are some good things about growing up in a very large urban center. I grew up in a city that had world class ballet, symphony and opera companies. There were plays about to go to or just coming off Broadway. We lived where we could walk to theaters and concert halls — and there is a magic in these venues. I had parents who took me to them, not because they were good for me, but because they were good.

                Well, I will qualify that, there was one event, a premier of a modern ballet which, I guess, was technically excellent, but all I could think was, “Why?”

                RE: Die Hard and the use of Beethoven’s ninth … YES! One of the strength of the movie is the very effective use of music throughout — the ride in from the airport, the arrival at the party at Nakatomi towers, the introduction of the tension, and the explosive release at the end. The person listening doesn’t have to be familiar with the source to appreciate the grandeur of the music, allowing them to come to classical music without an attitude equivalent to facing being dosed with castor oil.

                • My bad, only one word was intended to be in bold. The word good.

                • One of the many things to credit to Warner Brothers cartoons, indeed most of the early cartoons from every venue, was the extensive use of classical music. Sometimes it was blatant, who can for get Kill The Wabbit? sometimes subtle, backgrounds to many stories. And sometimes it was just brilliant, the Four Seasons: Spring To lovely images of an imaginary faityland of nature

                • It has been so long since I have seen Die Hard that I don’t even really remember anything. The movie that always comes to mind when the subject of music setting up the scene is brought up though, is Jaws. I have never seen another movie that used music so successfully to ratchet up the suspense.

    • Wayne Blackburn

      Ok, the listeners are getting dumber, but is it a leading or a trailing indicator? In other words, did the listeners getting dumber (presumably as an average) drive down the quality of the music, or did the quality of the music drive away the ones who weren’t dumber than a wet paper bag of ball bearings, thus driving down the average?

  31. It’s the stupid culture. By design. I can no longer credit simple stupidity with the massive, continual, coordinated actions of the Mas MEdia Hivemind-Academia Nut Fruitcake/”Edumacationista”-political elite cabal, nor can I accept Burnham’s Pollyana-ish, “Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for Western civilization as it commits suicide.” No, those who are actively seeking to destroy our society–not just music or the other arts–are depending on the very natural tendency Sarah has pointed out (again and again–I get it already! *heh* :-)) of folks to be normal, to fit in, by manufacturing a “normal” that is the lowest common denominator. Now, whether folks are naturally as dumb as a bag of hammers or scary brilliant, the pressure is to still be “normal” but the new normal is. . . dumb as a bag of hammers.

    Folks still fit on a bell curve, intellectually, that doesn’t differ all that much from past decades, but the culture is so stupid that whatever innate intelligence folks may have is nullified by a very natural desire for normalcy when stupid is normal and being “normal” is the way to fit in (Why, hello, Harrison Bergeron! *bang!*). It doesn’t take someone as bright as Sarah–harking to her classical music immersion experience–to be able to wake to real music. My former class of very acculturated (to stupid culture norms) 7th graders demonstrated that.

    The Hivemind, etc. is just using the very natural tendencies of people combined with the dangerous tendency of democratic societies to sink to the lowest common denominator (see Ortega: “Revolt of the Masses”) to keep the sheeple dumb, fat and easily fleeced. Napoleon may supposedly have said that one should never ascribe to malice what is adequately explained by stupidity, but. . . once is happenstance; twice, coincidence; three times, enemy action.

    • That is the only explanation I ever heard of that explains why today’s “comedians” make The Three Stooges look like intellectuals

      • The thing is that this is an artifact of mass media. You only needed half a dozen people on high, to manipulate everything. NOW the mass media is fracturing and they’re SCARED. Which is why they’ve gone on the attack and they’re in a hurry.

        Don’t give them an inch. Keep modeling “it’s okay not to fit in” and “Yes, h*ll I’m going to think!”

        • “Keep modeling ‘it’s okay not to fit in’ and ‘Yes, h*ll I’m going to think!'”

          Amen! Preach it sister! 😉

  32. Frank,
    Indie publish that short story.

    As to the HiveMind’s preference for creating stupid….write a SF novel or short about a world with everyone having low-grade psi, and this is used by the HiveMind to force stupid on everyone. The leaders of the HM have illegal brainboosting drugs and mechanical helmets that are known to cause insanity but greatly enhance their power….which they use in secret to serve as Shepherds for the HM.

    You’d have a secondary class of villains as well…the ‘Reality is what I decide it is’ insane folk who resist conformity by being bonkers.

    And of course, you have to have the ‘I’m a unique individual who dresses like all the ohter individuals’ group to kick around.

  33. And to make it cooler, David could have the human settlers who live on a derelict group of alien space stations. And the aliens viewpoint of a proper control system uses good music. And the stations are, of course, spiralling into something or the other.

    The hero is of course, the Lone Music Teacher with a Good Voice who saves the Solar System. Ta Da!