Rats In Their Heads

There is a meme going around facebook, an innocuous little question of “What was the last female writer you read, and the book?”

It’s very popular and being echoed all over.  It’s also a good example of how people think when they get rats in their head.

“But, Sarah,” you say, “why would you object to being introduced to authors you might not have heard of?”

Brother!  This is not how book recommendations and word of mouth happen.  First, with few exceptions, no one in mixed company is going to admit to having spent the entire night awake reading something called “The Sinner” (a romance) or “Three For the Chair” (a mystery) or even “Martians Go Home.”  Instead they will mention the sort of book people buy and leave sitting around on their coffee table to look smart or caring or whatever it is society values this week.

Word of mouth book recommendations are far more targeted.  They’re done by people who know you or at least know what you like to read.  Even I, who read almost anything, have stuff I will not read.  One of them is insufferably stuffy books my kids were forced to read in school.  I couldn’t read them even to give them help with studying them.  In fact, I’d rather have a root canal than read most of those.  The other one is zombie fiction.  I truly don’t care if your zombie book is a masterpiece.  I don’t read zombies because yuck.  (Actually I don’t read most horror.  Not because I’m squeamish: I can write blood, guts and wading through both of those scenes.  I just don’t enjoy being either grossed out or scared.  So reading horror would be fatuous.)  You can recommend me those till you’re blue in the face.  I still ain’t gonna read them.

However, if it were “What was the last writer” or even new writer “you read and the book?” the meme would be merely stupid and vacuous.

It is far worse than that . “The last FEMALE writer” you read.  This is because female writers are supposed to be discriminated against.  Statistically (if you look at it sideways and squint) females get reviewed less than males, and this leads to their selling less than males and this leads–  Excuse me.  I’ll dissect this nauseating fallacy later.  First tell me the last book you read where you gave a good goddamn about the author’s sex.

Unless you are reading true accounts of childbirth or of surviving testicular cancer, if you were specifically looking at the gender of the name on the cover, you’ve got rats in your head.

The first rat is a cute and fluffy baby rat that leads you to believe that the name on the cover has anything to do with the gender of the author – but we’ll let that go by.

We’ll let it go by because the big rat is stinky and dropping pellets all over the culture, and will destroy us if we don’t trap him and kill him.  It’s stained with the blood of millions and it’s called Marxism.

One of the things Marxism does is treat people as widgets.  Take me.  Female, Portuguese origin, married, mother of two, liberal arts post-graduate degree.  I’m supposed to be exactly the same as anyone else with those characteristics.  You should be able to pop me out of this blog and pop someone with those same exact characteristics in my place, and they’re supposed to be indistinguishable.  (Stop laughing.  It’s impolite to laugh at the mentally afflicted.)

No?  How no?  What is the purpose then of all these comparisons “more men get reviews,” and “More men are bestsellers” and—

Even if those are true (some of them are for certain fields) what makes you think they’re fixable?  Or that they should be fixed?  Or that there is anything to fix?

Look up there to where, no, you can’t pop me out of this blog and pop someone else in its place and have it be the same.  So, let’s suppose – don’t I wish – my blog became one of the most popular on the internet.  Does this mean that Females of Portuguese origin, married, with two children and a liberal arts degree are being discriminated FOR in blogging.  No?  Why not?

The second rat is “diverse thinking.”  First of all there is the unexamined, cute, fluffy rat that says “diversity is strength.”  This is a shibboleth that’s never been proven, anywhere at all.  In fact, I can give you plenty of examples where diversity was the downfall or at least a serious handicap to a society.  But it is an almost adorable rat compared to the true repulsive idea that you can get more diversity of ideas by getting more PHYSICAL diversity.  This idea is something Hitler would have loved.  No, I’m not breaking Godwin.  I’m simply being factual.  The whole idea behind the eugenics movement that was all the rage when Hitler came to power (and not just the rage in Germany, btw.  If you think that, you have more than rats in your head) was that culture was inherited and inhered to your racial ancestry.  The white race was this and this and this, and the Black race was this and this and this.  And the pink race with polka dots was this and this and this.

THAT was the brilliant idea that filled the ovens with human beings.  The Marxists were so scared people would be repulsed by the results that for a while, they hid their “scientific governance, by the numbers” under The Worker Class and the Capitalist Class and the Intellectual Class – instead of calling them by race names (Both are constructs, in case you wonder.  Particularly in a blended society like the US.)

But it is impossible to run a society by the numbers without always coming back to the same primal sin of treating people as things.  Because if Bob over there is an exemplary person and Joe is a terrible person, there’s no way the government can equalize that.  But if Bob is rich and Joe is poor, the government can take money from Bob to give to Joe.  And if Bob is white and Joe is black, you just won the support of all the black people who aren’t doing very well monetarily (most white people aren’t either.  It is a characteristic of doing exceptionally well that few people do that.)  Not just because you might also give them money like you gave Joe, but because – by claiming that the reason Joe didn’t succeed was a social injustice and invisible racism – you gave them an excuse for failing (and most people, anywhere, under any regime, fail.)

It is perhaps no wonder, then, that this big stinky rat of an idea has got fixated on women, the minority that isn’t.  I mean, how much more virtuous can you get than by supporting the majority of people, while claiming you’re fighting discrimination?

So people take to the statistics and examine how many women are mega bestsellers, and how many women get reviews and how many women…

This shows that women are discriminated against and then the drumbeat starts for “how many female writers have you read today?”

Rats.  Or perhaps hamster.  I think if you lean close to those brains, you can hear the hamster wheel squeaking.

First, where are those statistics coming from, and exactly what is taken in account? The last three major popular successes, pushed under everyone’s noses and talked about on every blog, magazine and show that cares about culture and books are…  Harry Potter, Twilight and Fifty Shades, all of them in fact written by women.

Almost every romance published is written by women.  So is most of the fantasy.  Quite a few of the historicals, unless they’re military history, are written by women.  A good number of the Christian books (a huge part of the market) are written by women.

Now, almost every thriller, almost every hard sf, almost every adventure story and police procedure seems to be written by men.

So – how come most bestsellers/most reviewed, etc. are men?  Isn’t that unfair?

Lies, damn lies and statistics.  Writing (except for Romance) used to be a mostly male profession.  You could tell there was actual prejudice against women writing, in say SF, because women wrote under male pen names.  (In romance there is prejudice against males and most people still write under a female pen name.)

Writing was a male profession when you could make a living from it and back when women were not expected to make a living.  By the time I came into the field, unless you were willing to do what I did and engage in EXTREME writing, you made ON AVERAGE five thousand a year.  And the funny thing about social expectations is that they cut both ways.  Given that writing doesn’t make a living wage, most men could not engage in it.  They couldn’t engage in it long enough o even break in, let alone try to get big. A woman can stay home with the kids (or even just stay home) and though in our crazy society that incurs some societal censure it is nothing like the censure incurred by a man who stays home and is supported by his wife.  (Yes, I know some brave souls do it, but they’re rare.)

When I came into the field 90% of the new authors making it in fell in one of three categories: women, gay men, academics – i.e. people who could have other means of support while they pursued their art.  Of this, by and far the largest contingent was women.  (Who often overlapped with academics.)

This has been a fact of life for the last fifteen years.  However, there are still some remnants from the ancient regime back when it was mostly a male profession.  They’re old and having stayed in the field long, revered.  They’re mostly best sellers and widely reviewed.

There is another effect.  Think back on the first women that broke the gender barrier in science fiction.  They were almost instantly notable.  Why?  Because they had to make an extraordinary effort to break in.  This is going to select for driven individuals, who immediately will do better than the run of the mill “followed the usual path, had an easy time getting in.”

The males in my generation – particularly those supporting a family at the time, like Dave Freer – who broke in, were strong enough and driven enough to come home and work at their dream after pursuing a full time career elsewhere.  Do you wonder that they have more staying power than someone who was told “Just pursue your dream, dear, someone else will pay?”

Then add another layer.  New York Publishing by definition has got the rat of Marxism in their heads.  They always treated writers as widgets anyway.  Round the mid seventies, early eighties they realized that they had more widgets with outies than innies, and they decided to correct it the usual way.  “Buy more women” the cry went out.  And in came not only a barrage of women who had an easier time breaking in than men, but of women who were told what kept them out had been discrimination.  And who, therefore, hated the field they were getting into, because those meanies had kept them out.  Out came an outpouring of “poor me female” writing.  Which in the early nineties caused me to snarl at a Barnes & Noble, “I wish someone would pass a law forbidding women from writing.” After I’d walked up and down a fantasy shelf and found NOT ONE novel that wasn’t about some abused high-magic chick whose father was a monster.

Here we digress from writing in general to genre writing.  It will shock you to realize that different genres appeal to different people, right?  In general romance – by and far the blockbuster of genres – appeals to women.  I know this shocks you, since women are not at all by evolution designed for being fascinated with relationships.  This doesn’t mean men don’t read it.  I know several men who read Romance (and no, it has nothing to do with their orientation) but the proportions are so grossly skewed that if you see someone in public with a romance novel and can’t see what gender they are, you can take a safe bet it’s a woman.  At the other end of this, military fiction is read mostly by men.

I can tell you as a female reader and writer that from my teens I was upset by the assumption that whatever I was reading was OF COURSE a romance.  Ditto for what I was writing.  To this day total strangers assume I write romances or (I DO have an accent) children’s picture books.

The ridiculous equalizers of author genders ALWAYS concentrate on those that appeal least to women.  Say, thrillers, or science fiction.  (Why don’t they try to get more men in romance?  Why do they devalue a female way of seeing the world, which always centers on relationships?  Are they anti-woman?)

The problem with trying to equalize the innies and outies is that you get people who aren’t going to appeal to the genre’s majority readers.  For instance the attempt to bring in more “sf” writers of the right physical configuration gave us science fiction that rotates around someone’s belly button.  (There is a difference between novels about colonizing a world, even with strong character development, and novels about someone angsting over colonizing a world, so that the book could take place entirely in my laundry room and there would be no difference.)  This meant readers – male and female – who liked SF as it was left in droves.  The same for those who liked adventure fantasy but were tired of the female-revenge-fantasy woven in.

Of course these things shake out, they always do.  By the time I came in, NY publishing had got the idea that somehow their experiment had been less than successful.  Of course, since the rat was still spinning in their head, the only thing they could think – and which was told to me over and over – was “Women can’t write science fiction.”  Which is why Darkship Thieves was unpublished for thirteen years, while they pushed me to write fantasy.  Other gems I was told were that “you don’t write like a woman” – this was said derogatorily by the way – to which I probably shouldn’t have responded that no, that part of my anatomy was grossly unsuited for typing.  That my women were insufficiently “strong” (by which they meant that they fell in love with men.)  That I couldn’t write gay males because that was stealing victimhood and because gay men weren’t transparent to people who didn’t share the experience (to which one of my gay friends said he was glad he wasn’t transparent, he’d hate for me to be seeing what he ate for lunch.)

That is, the people who treat people like widgets, all in the name of equality, were telling me what I could or could not write, because my thought wasn’t conforming to their ideas.  I.e. it was too “diverse.”  That is, all of the above was “bad widget, bad.  Fall into your category.”

Again, the primary sin behind this entire meme is treating people as things.  The secondary sin is expecting physical characteristics to dictate the way I think.

Do my experiences have a lot to do with who I am as a writer (and a person)?  Sure they do.  How many of those are experiences only a woman can have?  I can think only of being pregnant and giving birth.  (And a man who is sufficiently connected to his wife, or who has asked a lot of friends could write those as convincingly as most women.  I mean a lot of them are physiological.)

But doesn’t my experience of going through life as a woman, of relating to men as a woman, etc. color how I write?  Sure they do.  But I have enough male friends and enough imagination to write men convincingly too.

So should you read my books because they give you an experience of what it’s like to be female?

Rat droppings!

I write science fiction, fantasy, mystery and historical.  You should read those for the joy of reading those.  And my books should be enough to hold you and get you to buy the next one whether the name on the cover is Sarah Hoyt or Joe Smith.  (How DO you know I don’t write as Joe Smith?  I could if I wanted to.)

If you’re picking my books because they have a female name on the cover, forcing yourself to read them to prove you’re not sexist, and hating every minute, that makes you LESS likely to pick up the next female author.

Writers are not their books.  There are men who write women better than women do.  And there are women who write men better than men do.

And the books should stand on their own.

Everything else is rat droppings.  Big stinky rats with blood on their teeth.

287 thoughts on “Rats In Their Heads

  1. You should be able to pop me out of this blog and pop someone with those same exact characteristics in my place, and they’re supposed to be indistinguishable. (Stop laughing. It’s impolite to laugh at the mentally afflicted.)

    Coffee is also hard on the sinuses.

  2. I’ll be entirely up front and say that men and women TEND to write different kids of things, and I TEND to prefer stuff written by men. I go further than that and use statistically rational discrimination by avoiding science fiction novels written by women… unless I’ve heard something good.

    I will say that this rule seems to work well for novels, where I rarely come across a novel by a female writer that I enjoy…but it works much less well on short fiction, where I enjoy stories

    > “What was the last female writer you read, and the book?”

    Novel? Dark Ship Thieves by you-know-who.

    Short story? Several in various years best science fiction compendia I’ve been plowing through recently. Two that particularly sticks with me are Carolyn Ives Gilman’s “The Ice Owl” and Catherynne M. Valente’s “White Lines on a Green Field”.

        1. Let’s see, two that I haven’t mentioned this thread. Wen Spencer. I’m not familiar enough with Amanda Green and Kate Paulk’s stuff to know if either has any Sci Fi stuff out.

          Would Naoko Takeuchi count?

          There’s a writer I’m very fond of, on certain websites under the name Vathara. I’m pretty sure that they are female.

          1. Just to be difficult, CV Wedgewood, The Thirty Years War.
            It’s not true, but since this sort of bragging is all about how the person asking the question is oh-so more kulturny than you, this is like finding a rake in tall grass.

            Yes, Sarah, I’m working down through the pile to yours.

            1. I misread. I can’t remember which one’s I’ve last read. I misunderstood and thought this part was just naming female writers known to have written sci fi. Mea culpa.

        2. Most recently, S. Hoyt and L. Bujold (barely done before my wife snatched it out of my hands, too).

          It was quite a while before I even *noticed* whether an SF author was male or female. Beginning with “Red Planet” that tripped over in the local public library, I read every Heinlein juvenile they had at the time, then coming up for air, found Norton’s “Starman’s Son”, and it was back in the pool ’til I ran off the end of that shelf.

          As for whether “Andre” was male or female, I didn’t care; the stories were what mattered. (Heck, I was just 10, going on 11.)

          Still are.

          1. I still don’t notice the sex of the author of most of the stuff I read. Why should I care? I think it was about book 5 of Foreigner before I noticed that CJ Cherryh was a woman. Still don’t care, but do deeply care that Foreigner #15 won’t be out for far too long.

          2. I assumed “Andre” was a feminine name, since the only one I’d ever heard of was female. Was at least fourteen before I figured it out.

            Was telling that one at an SF convention and another woman chimed in with the same experience.

            1. In the Blackhawk comic book, one member of the team* — the French pilot — was named Andre, so readers familiar with that comic would have reason to think the author male.

              *It had become commonplace in comic books to assemble teams of characters from varying nationalities; it facilitated character differentiation & recognition via stereotyping.

              1. It also had propaganda uses during World War II — let us all work together to defeat the bad guys — and stuck around.

            2. Same — “Andre” is obviously a female name, right? Took Andre the Giant before I ever heard different, I think…

              1. Yeah, same here. Just the one female Andre, and plenty of male ones. It would never have occurred to me to suppose that Andre might ever be a female name if I weren’t already aware of Ms. Norton’s sex.

                1. All the Andre’s I have ever known were male, so long after I knew Norton was a woman I assumed Andre was a pen name taken to appear male, since at that time (when she broke in) women didn’t write SF.

          3. Moon of Three Rings was the first Science Fiction I ever read. I was 12, I thought it was a book as thick as a mattress, and I was proud to finish it.

            1. First one I can remember reading is The Runaway Robot … mom got it for me at a yard sale, probably in ’79 or so…

    1. Odds are, at least some of those books by males you’ve read were really written by women, writing with a male penname. I’m not critizing you at all, by the way, it’s just marketing. I went through a time where I was wary of women writers, too – or at least an apparent woman’s name on the cover, those were likely to be more girly than I liked. A woman who wasn’t girly was likely to be writing under a man’s name, or at least initials only. Just as a man writing girly today writes under a female name (I know a guy who writes under over 4 female pennames – he does cozy mysteries).

      And yes, it’s silly – the cover should be enough to tell what kind of book it is, not the author’s gender. (Hadn’t thought this was about rats in the head, but that’s a pretty good description – if perhaps unfair to rats (I’ve met some very nice rats ^_^))

      But I’ll be using initials when I publish, because I’m writing non-girly YA fantasy, and supposedly boys won’t pick up a book written by a female author they don’t know, because girls have cooties or something.

      1. When I was a boy, I would freely read YA books by women. That was before the latest round of fads, hearing about some of which, I get the creeps, and would have been annoyed then. (I would likely have further downgraded my rating of adults. Likely also avoided anything that smacked of romance longer as well.)

        I’m pretty sure Akira Miyashita is really a woman using a man’s name.

        1. Contrary to popular myth, boys are not stupid. By the time they have learned to read beyond primers they have also learned to be very distrustful of what adults (especially the well-intentioned ones) consider appropriate reading matter for the betterment of boys.

          So they don’t care whether the author of The Princess Bride urinates standing, sitting or raising one leg, It looks like broccoli and they see no reason to try it.

          95% of books with female authors are going to be about how terrible boys are, only about 60% of books with male authors are, so they’re just playing the odds.

          I hope your books for boys find their audience — having seen your comments here I have full confidence in your writing being likely to make them happy about being boys rather than ashamed for not being girls

          1. Thanks – I’m on a large on-line critique site, and it’s fun to see who I lure in to read. Within the SF&F group, I seem to do well with teen-age boys, adult males, and the more tomboy leaning girls and women. Which probably translates as Geeks of all ages and genders.

          2. I wasn’t keying off complaints about boys. For a time, I even let some of them sell me on aspects of feminism. (I was young. Also, they said they hated rape, and I have an enduring hatred of and intolerance towards rape and rapists.)

            I was thinking more about Freer’s anecdote about, IIRC, the writer’s group that was really enthusiastic about the need for kinky sex in YA. That sort of nonsense would have deepened the impression I had that many adults were creepy perverts, whose interests included convincing others, including the next generation, to be enablers or otherwise to go along.

            1. It seems to be a common human trait that we tend to believe that our own obsessions are universal. Most members of this webmunity have long since recognized the invalidity of that belief, but those people whose obsessions focus on sex tend to be very slow on the uptake.

              This is regrettable.

              It leads to some very distorted ideas, which fellow writers (and, more to the point, editors and publishers) should not encourage. That so many do, so eagerly, tells you pretty much all you need to know about the morals of modern publishing.

              In this line, I noticed while watching last night’s episode of Blue Bloods that while a scene set in a strip club had the obligatory establishing shots of scantily clad damsels writhing the show did not glamourize the scene; in fact, several of the women had noticeable thick bodies, of the sort that require lingerie’s ability to redirect the eye to create an illusion of curvature. Sequences set back stage, in the locker room, did even more to dispel any aura of romanticism of the setting. Kudos to Blue Bloods for this treatment are hereby rendered.

              1. Mostly, the girls employed dancing in bars around Clark AB looked bored.

                And the only “hey… those were prostitutes!” I’ve seen on the street in the US looked… clean. Crease-ironed-in-the-blue-jeans clean.

              2. Most members of this webmunity have long since recognized the invalidity of that belief, but those people whose obsessions focus on sex tend to be very slow on the uptake.

                Everyone who says they don’t share my kink and search it out at least as much as I do is REALLY LYING!!!!!!

                1. Don’t be silly. Obviously they are lying. If they are telling the truth, it might be that my feeding my obsession has only encouraged it, so in some respects, it’s my fault. It has to be universal because it must not be my fault.

              3. “in fact, several of the women had noticeable thick bodies, of the sort that require lingerie’s ability to redirect the eye to create an illusion of curvature.”

                All ‘thick’ women have curves, no illusion needed… they just might not be in the area men prefer for the curves to appear in.

        2. Is not.

          a) I don’t understand gender in Japanese names.
          b) I’m sure that the Akira in question is a man.

          1. You are not the only one. I took a Japanese girl to the Oregon Coast Aquarium to see Keiko the killer whale. When she found out he was a bull orca, she looked at me puzzled and said, “But Keiko is a GIRL’S name.”
            I had to explain that in Spanish the O ending denotes male, and he was named in Mexico. She couldn’t quite get her head around that.

      2. “boys won’t pick up a book written by a female author they don’t know, because girls have cooties or something.”

        Or they’ve been forced / tricked into reading way too many books by female authors that tell them to varying degrees of explicitness that they are stupid and smelly and are only there as villains, comic relief, or both for the female characters.

        1. Heck, I don’t buy “Lady authors of X!” anthologies– if they’ve got quality to offer, they’ll be around elsewhere based on the quality, not their DNA.

      3. If your YA isn’t “Book one of the Vampire Sororities series.” Boys picking it up or not has probably got more to do with the cover art. Don’t you think?

        The artwork is the biggest element determining “will my life be made hell if I’m caught reading this”, isn’t it?

        1. I wouldn’t pick up a Vampire Sorority book, either (Sarah doesn’t read zombies, I don’t read vampire romances, unless it’s Spike from Buffy).

          And yes, the cover should do the advertising. But there’s a reason it was JK Rowling on the cover of HP. And a certain type of female writing has so taken over YA (none of which I have any desire to read) that I don’t think it’s going to go away any time soon.

          Of course, authors identified by initials has come to mean female author who doesn’t write girly. So maybe it’s not a disguise after all. It’s all marketing, stuff on the cover to attract the right reader (Lou Anders likened the book cover to the mating plumage of colorful birds).

          1. Weirdly, J K Rowling, I THINK was forced to put initials only because of the strange editor thing that “you can’t write another sex.” I don’t think kids would have cared. Enid Blyton still sells (though the books are not the same they were) to both boys and girls. And I refuse to believe my sons are particularly weird that way, and both loved Diana Wynne Jones.

            1. “…the strange editor thing that ‘you can’t write another sex.'”

              That can’t be true. Sex, we are reliably informed by all the finest minds of our generation, is a social construct. So surely it can be no barrier to writing, especially in SF/F.

              Especially because boys are simple, motivated primarily by hormones (esp. testosterone) and a desire to attract girls.

      4. > Odds are, at least some of those books by males you’ve read were really written by women, writing with a male penname.

        Not sure that I buy that, in this day and age of twitter and blogs.

        Yeah, maybe “Larry Correia” is just a pen-name, but when I went to a book signing (or is that “book ‘signing'”) they managed to find the perfect 6’35” actor to stand in for him! 😉

        1. No. You’re wrong. Larry Correia hired Stephanie Meyers to play him as the “author” of Twilight. (D*mn it, I want people to start asking him about this “rumor” where I can watch, because Larry laughing uncontrollably is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.)

          But in answer to the main point — believe it or not I know several people with VERY secret pen names, some of which are more successful than they are. (Overheard from a friend at a con “If *penname* and I went into a room, only I would come out. I’d kill that b*tch dead.”

  3. Nope, you write enjoyable folks. That is the reason to read you. I like your musketeers, not for the stories but for your way of handling iconic characters. I love your cozy mysteries, not because I think you write a good mystery, nor because I am interested in how to refinish furniture, but because I like Dyce and And PEEGRASS

    1. Peegrass is… relateable. As in… all the cats you wonder how you ever ended up with, rolled into one.

      1. Pythagoras is a warning. Just because the cat I currently catsit and spoil is invested with more personality and intelligence than some members of academia, does not mean all will be so…

        1. At the risk of being racist (or is that specist?) I would disagree, I suspect that ALL cats would show more personality and intelligence than SOME members of academia.

      2. Hey, Peesgrass is our very own Euclid, sprang out of death row ten minutes before his demise by the grace of looking like our long-lost Pete and sneezing at us. He is SO neurotic.

  4. This caught my eye:

    “First tell me the last book you read where you gave a good goddamn about the author’s sex.”

    Actually, I am mildly interested – only mildly, mind you – in the author’s sex.

    What I don’t give a good goddamn about is the author’s GENDER.

    (From one who is prone to write ‘Yes!’ in spaces on medical forms where the question is ‘Sex.’)

    Sorry – it was just such a perfect setup, and I haven’t had my grumpies for the morning yet.

      1. Thank you, kind hostess: I am much honored to be given this award of notice.

        But I have finished the morning’s writing, and I am in a much better mood.

    1. Tsk! Gender is a grammatical term. Words (in some languages) have gender. People and Animals have sex.

      But not together! I didn’t mean that! Honest!

      Which is why so many people, including myself, have started using gender beyond the original meaning.

      1. “People and Animals have sex.

        But not together! I didn’t mean that! Honest!”

        Sure you didn’t. I shall be watching your writing much more carefully from now on.

      2. Well, you can use gender if you’re going with the kinsley slide. BUT what they’re talking about is physiological sex. Unless names now indicate gender, too… “Sarah A. Hoyt, Tomboy” Um….

  5. I’m a totally unsophisticated reader, to tell the truth. Except for authors who I have read at least 5 of their books, so that I remember the name by repetition, I’m unlikely to be able to tell you the name of the author of any random book in my collection, let alone the sex. I’m also a good example of how the title and the name of a book can make a huge difference in whether I will pick it up at random, especially since I pay so little attention to the names.

    That said, I do eventually remember names, and speaking of your experience in the bookstore, I do note that Mercedes Lackey, while not always writing about abused women, does tend to write almost exclusively about abused protagonists, which gets old after a while.

    1. I have to admit I enjoy abused protagonists, provided a big part of the story is how they finally manage to get the better of their abuser. Revenge fantasies. Maybe because I don’t think I have personally managed to get the upper hand with a bully even once, I solve those by walking away and avoiding so I like to read about characters who do manage to turn the tables after being on the receiving end for a while even more that I like characters who dominate the bullies from the beginning. Although I prefer stories where the bullying and defeating the bully are more of a side plot than the main event, and mostly also ones where the abusing is not serious enough that the solution involves something like killing the bully, rather something like humiliating him in public, and/or the bully having to witness the former victim becoming somebody higher in the social order or richer or in some other ways having more power than he does from then on.

      I like Mercedes Lackey too, although her books are among those I prefer to read at longer intervals, for while I do like revenge fantasies I’m not overly fond of stories where a considerable part of the story concerns the abuse going on before the victim gets the upper hand, and she is a bit prone to those.

      1. “the bully having to witness the former victim becoming somebody higher in the social order or richer or in some other ways having more power than he does from then on.”

        Excellent plan for revenge. I shall steal it forthwith.

        1. Most bullies in that situation would try to leach off their victims and regard it as unsufferable arrogance when the victim refuses.

    2. I like books where they over come adversity and abuse seems to be an easy form of adversity. Revenge fantasies can be fun but for me their like chocolate truffles; delicious but too many will make me sick.

      I liked Lackey, in theory I still do, I just remember picking up her book in a bookstore, reading the back cover and going “seriously? another one?” putting it down and getting something else. I have enjoyed her fantasy romance series, though I haven’t watched it as closely since I put the book back down. Funny how that works.

    3. I choke on Mercedes Lackey much earlier than that. I did read the stories with the magical sword Need, which always struck me as a poor way to do it.

      The sword gives the woman who wields it what she needs. Never in all the stories does the woman get it and say, “That’s exactly what I don’t need!” — in order to learn her lesson in the course of the work.

  6. BTW my hubby and I were with some of his co-workers yesterday evening (I can’t drink, but it was enjoyable). AND he recommended your book to a RAH fan. YEP– he said that you write a really good story. I was proud.

  7. Oh you pushed my buttons on this one!

    Re “Why do they devalue a female way of seeing the world, which always centers on relationships? Are they anti-woman?)”

    I dont’ know why. If I were a psych, maybe I’d say they were hormonal. Or something.

    But yes, in fact, they are anti-woman. The modern feminists have adopted male-ness as their standard and must therefore despise everything distinctly feminine. Thus this travesty of “thinking”: http://m.guardiannews.com/commentisfree/2013/apr/21/female-ivy-league-graduates-stay-home-moms

    And Elizabeth Scalia, a religion-n-politics blogger, takes that “there’s only one right way to be diverse” theme a little deeper in her take-down on it: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/theanchoress/2013/04/26/you-can-have-an-education-i-guess-but-not-one-as-good-as-mine/

    And of course, if they valued the feminine, they would ***encourage*** pregnancy and childbearing rather than making women into artificial men by making them chemically barren and then killing the inevitable ooopses or just farming the ooopses out for lesser women to handle. But they apparently want to be, not just equal in opportunity to men, but actual men, albeit usually without the surgery and drug regimens. What a world.

    I have thoroughly outed myself on this one, but you can probably tell it cuts close to my own personal bone. I’m as close as it comes to one of these “male women” by nature, but chose differently on child & family issues … but jeez Louise, I am ***not*** a man and never will be. Susan B. Anthony was nothing like that.

    1. This might get people throwing faggots under my feet and preparing to light them on fire, but I’ll take the position that if you’re intending to be a full time mother within a few years of finishing school you SHOULD NOT go to Yale Law, or MIT in the Engineering school.

      There are two sorts of college degrees, one is job training and one is “pure” education. If you’re not going to go into law as a profession (or politics), or engineering, or etc. you *are* taking a slot away from someone for whom being an engineer (not getting an engineering degree, BEING an engineer) is a goal. Yeah, they’ll get a degree from a lesser school etc. However this isn’t to say “don’t go to Yale” or “Don’t get an advanced degree”. Heck, one can even take engineering classes if that’s what turns one on.

      The other side if it is that getting advanced degrees from Ivy League schools is really, really expensive. If you intend to leave the workplace in a few years anyway, that just makes no sense at all. There are a lot of degrees that will help one through life that aren’t Yale Law. In fact one might even suggest that if your goal is to become a good mother (or good father) that Yale Law is the *wrong* sort of place to be. Your values will get distorted all to f*

      1. I wonder if the reason why Ivy League grads tend to flock together is that, when meeting people outside that circle, they realize that no one’s impressed. (The stories I’ve heard from my father about Ivy Leaguers in engineering and management usually involve someone applying the rod of correction to precious snowflakes before they’re worth a damn.)

        1. A cuz of mine is a CEO of some sort.
          At an about to start meeting his underlings were bragging on which Ivy degrees and how many each has and whos would be considered a higher status….to which my cuz said “I got a two year degree from Community College and all you S.O.B.s work for me, now shut up and lets get started.”

      2. I question how well one can predict whether and when a college-age woman will decide to have children, and whether she will decide to stay home to raise them. Highly capable full-time mothers may well want to reenter the workforce when the kids are a certain age.

        If a society impairs or penalizes those frivolous females who waste their time on fripperies like, um, perpetuating civilization and propagating the species, well, I think of that as evolution in action…

        I think I see your point, but IMHO there are larger considerations.

      3. I have a possible partial counterargument.

        Cut down from about 900 words. Suppose there are equal gender quotas for engineering graduation slots*, if not all things that lead to enjoying an engineering career can be/are normed for gender, and there are female slots to be filled by those who will not go into engineering, future mothers are far from the worst to fill those slots.

        If it could be done cost effectively, I would prefer that all mothers legitimately get an engineering education. (Note, that this is most likely me building castles in clouds.)

        *Partly because I don’t know better about the current changed rules, and partly to counter the opportunity cost and ROI issues.

        1. But the point is: why do we need gender quotas at all? Do we really need to regulate how many women (or blacks, or purple alien) engineers there are?

          1. Apparently said quotas started this semester. We shall see what happens. I have no clue about implementation, it is too soon for news to filter back to me.

          2. Oh, I’m not in favor of pushing kids around in engineering school. Letting them opt out, and not lying to them, is a wonderful way to sort those who will enjoy engineering from those for whom engineering will be nothing but a cause of suicidal ideation.

            Later on, I do think some regulation of engineers is of value. (There may be a better way to do it, but I think the FE/EIT/PE does serve a purpose.)

            I think it is possible to help many more people to enjoy math and sciences than public school manages to do. I have much enthusiasm for this, and for getting people who can manage it to study engineering.

            1. I’m all for encouraging science and math, towards all students. I even support targeting certain groups that are “underrepresented”–as long as the result of all the outreach is allowed to be what it will be.

              True story: in my engineering class we had four guys and one girl. The girl rarely came to class, rarely completed her assignments, and always passed. Even when she decided to drop out, the college pursued her and tried to get her to complete her degree. I don’t know what happened to here, but the rest of us were disgusted at the way she was treated, and what it said about the school’s priorities.

              1. At a guess, the school was concerned about maintaining eligibility for funding and certification — the whip and chair with which petite pureaucracy wields its will.

                A careful check of the requirements for any degree program will usually reveal language purporting to ensure that there is no discrimination against favored groups — and that absence of discrimination can only be proven by adherence to established statistical targets designed to prove that the school has not maintained any barriers to achievement by heretofore under-represented groups. (IOW: “you d*** well better meet the quota and it doesn’t matter how unqualified they are. Heck, they’ll probably get token jobs and quit in a few years to make babies.”)

                1. Aargh! “Bureaucracy “, not “pureaucracy ” — although maybe, per Dr Fraud, my subconscious is trying to express an opinion.

              2. I didn’t get the impression that they were bending over backwards for female engineering students in my day. Of what few I knew, I was often impressed. At the worst, well, I knew far more male engineering students, so I had more of them that I had a worse impression of. Frankly, among many other things, I don’t want their opportunities hurt because the administration must fiddle with the later cohort. That said, they will land on their feet, and do well.

                1. I should have made it clear that my female classmate was an exception among the female engineering students I knew. It was the attitude of the administration that concerned the rest of us. If they were willing to hand a bad student a degree based on her plumbing, what did that do to the value of our education, and the reputation of our school? I have since learned that too many college degrees are little better than the paper they are printed on–even in engineering.

                  1. Yes, which is why the degree is useful but not sufficient for making the engineer.

                    1. That is the case with most professional degrees: they establish the recipient has achieved an entry level of competence.

        2. Why do there have to be a finite number of slots? Why is the pie fixed, and every bite someone eats taken directly out of the mouths of others?

          At one of the colleges I went to, we had a large number of students who wanted to take a class not offered that semester. The dean ran the numbers, and posted a notice: “If X number of students are willing to pre-register and pay for Class 132, understanding that they will not have the option to drop the class and get a refund, the class will be held at time slot Y in room Z.” And we got it, too. If the university is choosing to limit the number of people in a class, and people are upset at the choices made by a fraction of graduates – then they should press the university to expand their classes, not try to apply Marxist theory and finite pie economics to the graduates in the name of elitism being better than diversity.

          Personally, I find the idea of more highly educated moms out there a right and fine thing; I like our citizens being educated, aware, and active. Granted, coming out of an ivy league school, they’re going to have to adjust to reality, but I take what I can get.

          1. We did the same thing (a core of English Lit students) when we found out we couldn’t graduate with the BA unless we got a core course. Unfortunately they were not going to offer it— A lot of pressure and several students later and we got the class.

          2. I can see slots for labs – there’s only a finite amount of space in the building and hours in the day, so capping students in lab courses makes some sense. Otherwise? Nah, especially if you’ve got faculty who can teach the course and who are not married to “I’m on a 2-2 load and you can’t make me do 3-1 or 3-2! I’ll hold my breath, turn blue, and dieeeeee!”

            I’m not going to touch the new federal guidelines about the required male:female ratios in STEM programs. I’ll just say that my ire overfloweth.

            1. Those may be what I’ve heard about, that my knowledge of the implementation is so vague that I’m scrambling in the dark to predict effects.

            2. Somebody here said something about new federal guidelines this past fall.

              I’m not worried about lab space because my alma mater does not seem to be short of buildings, and seems to have some very solid engineering teachers. Which just goes to show that my knowledge of academia is not that wide. That said, I’ve heard of student to faculty ratios that are supposed to be very bad.

              I have no idea what the impact of the federal guidelines will be. In four years, I should start seeing some trickles of information about graduation rates at my alma mater. *Breaks off, mentally swearing at the possibility that he may have forgotten check into things this year.*

          3. There doesn’t need to be a limited number of slots.

            Unless the Feds, or someone, gets frustrated about engineering class composition, and clamps down in such a way that an incentive for slots is created.

            Engineering has painful coursework that can be very difficult to stick with. One thing that can make this less so, for some disciplines, is mechanical aptitude. Schools that recruit from heavily rural/agricultural areas can have a bias towards male students having more highly developed mechanical aptitude due to farmboys. This means that some engineering programs might naturally, due to which students end up sticking with the program, have a tendency towards higher male enrollment.

            If this annoys somebody, they can either figure out a way to get public schools to develop mechanical aptitude (not very likely), or they can try meddling with the engineering programs, them assuming that the problem is occurring /downstream/ of where they think they have things fixed.

            Sugar it, it’ll quicker to post the full version than to try condensing my explanation.

          4. I have a possible partial counterargument.

            Being willing to make oneself finish engineering school is partly a measure of fitness. Those who decide they don’t want to, or won’t, continue experiencing the pain of it are probably less suited to it than those who continue.

            Going with the most harmful assumptions, suppose that all disciplines require a good amount of mechanical aptitude*. Suppose that the public school system is largely ineffective at developing it**, and all university enrollment of people with it is as dominated by farmboys as a school with a recruiting area that is majority rural/agriculture***.

            So, we are essentially assuming a fixed, higher than in reality gender disparity in engineering school fitness/enjoyment/suitability. Onwards on the path of evil.

            Last fall there was mention here of adding federal requirements for equal enrollment for engineering school. What options are open depend on what exactly federal requirements are, and how they are implemented. One evil option would be to enroll a bunch of female students, keep standards the same, and rely on washing students out. Another evil thing might be an explicit separate ‘Women’s Engineering’ program or degree, maybe without an ABET accreditation, or maybe creating a lesser accreditation for it. (‘But what about Environmental Engineering?’ ‘Shut up.’) Another evil one is drop standards, maybe let the accreditation lapse, get people killed, and again, end up treating the students shamefully****.

            Anyway, the difficulty I have articulating these evil possibilities, and related things, is part of why I held my tongue, IIRC, last fall.

            Main evil option: Equal numbers of male and female slots at graduation and equally high standards. So, we will have the male slots, more or less as current. Female slots, per assumptions, will be some portion cognate to the male slots, and some portion filler. Now comes the counter argument. If something like this is done, who would you want in the filler?

            My thought is, people planning for full time parenthood look pretty good in comparison. Ideal filler may be someone with the ability and drive to get through at full standards, despite hating the material too much to work with it longer.***** If the filler doesn’t try to get into the engineering workforce, they won’t hurt things by chasing jobs, or hurt the university’s reputation by doing jobs with hatred, hence more poorly than if done by those that enjoy it. In comparison, someone who went engineering instead of gender studies solely for the sake of gender loyalty is more likely to be an issue somewhere.

            In addition, I think a legitimately earned engineering education could be of benefit to just about anyone. (Note that I don’t say cost effective.) More narrowly, a mother’s education is reputed to correlate with how the children do. I am deeply interested in future generations having a better grasp of thermodynamics and issues of mathematical modeling. (But, opportunity cost and ROI. Probably better ROI than what was proposed at last year Democratic Party convention, but that doesn’t make things a good idea.)

            Why is this evil? If there is a difference in the quality of graduates between genders, if there is a notable difference in career paths, if the schools are pushing students without regard, engineers being engineers, it probably will be noted. (Note, this is where I quit and decided to revise things shorter.)

            *Some do, some don’t. Even ones which do can have students who pass, and function in the profession without the aptitude. They probably won’t succeed as well as they would with, but there are always ways to wish for more ability.

            **This seems to be the case in reality, and might not be an assumption at all.

            ***Lots of places to get mechanical aptitude. Farmwork tends to develop it very strongly. Here we are not only neglecting the others, but are assuming that the tasks developing such are uniformly carried out by men. Anybody who knows farms will, I suspect, recognize this as a dubious assumption. However, some sets of tasks are, for practical, not just cultural reasons, statistically more likely to be done by men. The same thing that helps drive development of mechanical aptitude and get-it-done on farms, tight margins, also means that there isn’t much room for picking and choosing who does what.

            ****I don’t object to driving off students. Or more precisely, I don’t mind the students examining themselves, and what they are asked to do, and making their choices. I’d object to telling someone whom you know probably won’t be passing calculus that they will, of course, do fine in engineering school. Presuming one lets them pass anyway, I’d object to telling them, and the workplace, that the degree is worth something.

            Now, there are many people who can learn to do and enjoy a whole lot more science and math than the public schools are helping to do so. I want to help, and encourage them to learn, maybe get them legitimately earning an engineering degree.

            I think the experience of legitimately getting an engineering degree would be good for anyone, but it is quite possible that I am insane. Certainly, my tastes and values need not have any agreement with anyone else’s.

            *****With engineering, I think there are probably folks who wouldn’t want to work with the material for sixty-seventy-eighty hour workweeks, but wouldn’t mind it on an irregular basis, especially if they could see their family. I’m also counting this as hatred.

            1. “One evil option would be to enroll a bunch of female students, keep standards the same, and rely on washing students out.”

              This is the one option I don’t see as evil (not optimum, particularly if there are a limited number of engineering slots available), if the standards are sufficient currently (since I work off of engineered plans fairly regularly I have my doubts) then all those that passed the standard would be sufficiently qualified, regardless of gender. The rest are tossed, also regarldless of gender (the chances of this actually happening are minuet, but this is a fantasy blog, right?). The only evil inherit in this is if there is a limited number of engineering slots available there is the likelihood of more qualified male students being bumped for less qualified females at the time of enrollment. This is a minor evil to society compared to all the other options available, .

              1. the chances of this actually happening are minuet

                Will you quit dancing around the point? (I also want to voice my hearty agreement, but the pun took precedence)

              2. Suppose that the natural female enrollment rate for a discipline is, say, 10%, and the natural female graduation rate, is, say, 5%. (Note, numbers pulled from air, I will attempt to have some measurements of one measurement Friday.) Suppose male enrollment is kept the same, but female enrollment is increased to the point that it is 50% of the total.

                Assume that this process is honest, does not mislead the students, and is not fraud in some way, to minimize the complications.

                There at least a couple of different defensible assumptions one could make about the attrition rate of the additional students. My guess is that it might amount to a substantial increase in the number of students leaving the program. Especially if it has to overcome the strength whatever incentive lead the students to enroll in the first place, I suspect that this requires a shift of the program on the help them love engineering – make them hate engineering spectrum.

                This might well have a substantial demoralizing effect on all the students, especially if it is combined with misleading the students as to their chances, which is outside of the assumptions here.

                I would strongly prefer to work to help students understand better how they can succeed in engineering, and to help young people understand why they might want to study engineering, to just bringing in people without regard to their chances for the sake of social meddling.

          5. “Elite” is a positional status, and so by definition limited, just as only one book can top the best seller list.

      4. Yep. Pitch forks, torches and bundles of sticks.

        In as much as a minority of college students are married, it is difficult to predict which female students will actually become parents, let alone opt for full time parenting, some time down the road. Or go back to work once the children are more independent. Or use their knowledge in way not directly involved with the most obvious careers associated with their particular degree.

        So . . . how much time-in-job is “required” to justify an education? Will you hold the male students to the same standard? Perhaps they ought to take a physical before entering college, and the cardiac risks told to take a hike, eh? Not statistically sensible educate them. And what if they wind up in management, after taking that engineering slot in college. Or taking a job that doesn’t require engineering? Oh, the horror!

        The way colleges are pouring out more students than could possibly find jobs in their field, I doubt that someone interested in law or engineering, and capable of the work, would find it impossible to get in to a good school. And if they miss out on _the_ top schools? Whoop-de-do. Good enough grades to get into MIT’s engineering program will also get them into a lot of other _very_ good schools.

        1. Yes.

          a) People who can do well in engineering can use a solid education, can make more use of a really excellent education, and don’t necessarily need connections.
          b) I suspect that there are many state engineering schools better than Ivy League schools.

          I do think that Engineers that go into management, engineers that become CEOs and Company Presidents, and Engineer/MBAs can count as using their degrees.

          I’d also note that it is possible to get an engineering degree, and then manage to become long term unemployed, and not necessarily from incompetence either. I do think that some forms of engineering incompetence are difficult to detect during school, and can be legitimately punished by the market with unemployment.

        2. I agree with you, Pam. There’s also “How do you determine if people use their knowledge.”
          I’ve used the languages for exactly four years, in the way they were intended. But what I always wanted to do was write. Do I use my degree to write? Well, no. BUT I do use the wrong-headed cr*p they taught me in school to blog. And I used it to deprogram the kids when they came home from school. I knew what they were hearing, because I had.
          What else? Well, I taught French to older son when the school was playing keep away with it. And I stand ready to teach it to younger son, should he ever come by a wish to know it.
          Oh, yeah, and at a fundamental level (though I already spoke English when I left highschool) I’m sure the extra four years with native speaker teachers didn’t hurt for my being able to write fiction in English.

          Is it worth it the years of education? I don’t know. I think so. Did I use it the way it was intended?

          As fast as the the world is changing, we don’t know how ANYONE learning today will use their education.

        3. I read that suggestion completely differently. It didn’t appear to be a request to “justify” an education, it was more a suggestion that if you’re not likely to go on to be specifically an engineer (or a practicing lawyer at a big-name law firm), you might consider going to one of the less prestigious colleges, both to save money, and to leave another spot open for someone for whom the name of the college will have a large influence in his job prospects.

          Something Petro did not mention, which merits a large amount of consideration, is that, for STEM degrees in particular, if you’re out of the industry for 5 years or more, you have to go back and relearn it to be up on the current state of the art. For some of the specialties, it can be as short as 6 months. Women who plan on having families AND not handing them off to someone else would be better served to start them early, then go to get their advanced education after the children are old enough to look after themselves, if they can work it out that way. Yes, if they want to, they can also get a husband who will stay home and raise the children, but it’s generally more awkward that way, and not many men will be willing to do that.

          1. And while the man may stay home and raise the children, at our current technological level it is still very difficult for him to stay home and incubate the baby, deliver the baby, and recuperate from delivering the baby; while the woman is working to provide a livelihood for him and the child.

  8. The widget meme is extremely popular with middle and upper management in far too many American businesses. It does simplify things greatly to think of all line employees as interchangeable parts of the machine. It would also guarantee mediocre performance at best of whatever operation it was applied to if not for the line managers who if they have any sense whatsoever recognize that employees are individuals with talents and weaknesses that must be either utilized or accommodated to achieve best performance.

    1. That’s the key, enit — middle management. People who by definition lack control and therefore seek desperately for an illusion of control. It is much easier to blame lack of success on faulty parts than failure to properly utilise the parts available.

      It is also handy to sabotage competitors by convincing them to use the same misguided management paradigm. Start measuring success by inputs instead of responses — “we have achieved parity in the ratio of women to men and in the average melanin content of employee epidermis” is ever so much an easier goal to attain than is “we have increased production 5% while reducing inputs 2%” or “customers are extremely happy with our product and flocking to stores to buy it.” — and suddenly middle managers have control over their lives and careers … at least, until the bus careens into a ditch.

  9. Let’s see, besides this blog, the last book I read by a female author (or at least with a feminine name) was one I got as a B&N Free Friday, and liked enough to look up the author to buy the second book of the series. Of course, those are fantasy, so they probably don’t “count”.

    Previous to that was reading Condoleezza Rice’s autobiography for book club, which we enjoyed, but the liberals in the book club didn’t, even though they weren’t racist.

    And I’ve been rereading some more Louisa May Alcott, off and on.

    Other than that, I have no idea what sex the authors are. (Though I suspect that the romances that come up frequently on B&N’s Free Friday at least have feminine names.)

      1. Exactly.

        On Sat, Apr 27, 2013 at 10:31 AM, According To Hoyt wrote:

        > ** > Cyn Bagley commented: “Psssst. Some of those female names are pen names > for male authors. ;-)” >

        1. Which may explain the tendency to interrupt a good romance with sex. 😉

          On Sat, Apr 27, 2013 at 10:51 AM, According To Hoyt wrote:

          > ** > accordingtohoyt commented: “A lot of them. The president of RWA used to > be a guy.” >

          1. Oh yes. I like a good romance, I find most sex scenes boring. And nowadays it seems most of the stuff which gets advertised as romance is more about the protagonist’s sex life. I think the sales category for what I’d prefer is something like ‘sweet romance’ – sex may happen but it’s not the main feature, possibly it doesn’t even get described but we’ll only get something like the closing bedroom door and the next scene is when they wake up together, and if that happens it will probably happen towards the end of the story rather than be the first thing the couple does together – but that can be a bit harder to find now. Well, one can always keep rereading Jane Austen.

                1. Which if done properly will provide an excellent excuse for not including sex scenes for a couple days. Although it could provide fodder for some humorous ones; protagonists are kissing, things become steamy, female protagonists hand wanders down from males chest, across his washboard abdomen and as it caresses across and southward from his waistband male protagonist winces and moans, mistaking his moan for one of pleasure female becomes bolder and firmer in her caresses, male bolts from room.

                  1. female becomes bolder and firmer in her caresses

                    I recommend revising that to read “bolder and more assertive”.

        2. Just because a person is transgendered is no reason to hold their prior private parts against them. Besides, gender is an artificial construct and we are all entitled to change the apparent gender to correspond to our interior gender, preferably at taxpayer expense but we will settle for doing it at the expense of other policy holders.

          1. If you are holding a transgendered persons prior private parts… eh, my brain froze up, and the only thing it is coming up with to finish that thought is, eewwww!

  10. I’m sexists. [Evil Grin]

    Why? Because the number one author on my “will not buy” list is Sheri Tepper. [Big Evil Grin]

    In my defense, it’s because she turned into a writer of “feminist rants”.

    The sad thing is that I enjoyed some of her earlier works such as the “True Game” series and (to a lesser degree) the Footseer series. Sadly, I could see the path she was going to take in the final Footseer book.

      1. Ah, that would be one of the authors who convinced me of the following truism: no matter how much I love Luis Royo’s work, I’m probably going to despise any book he’s done a cover for. Pick up the book, go “Oooh! Pretty!”, and then Put. It. Back.

        Sadly, his work sold a few books to me before I noticed the heavy correlation… I’m just going to give up and get his art books.

      2. I thought you were a gender traitor? *Sigh* I can’t keep up with the labels.

    1. About Tepper, agreed.

      Alas, Le Guin.
      What might have been.

      I don’t remember either of these authors in detail, but I do remember my perplexed displeasure when they warped their work ideologically, of course to the detriment of the quality.

    2. I bought The True Game when it was recommended by a friend. I liked the setting, although I wish more of it was explained, such as the rules of the game played at the school and how the politics and contests of the demenses worked. And I liked the story overall, even if I thought Peter was conveniently stupid at times. A few months later I picked up two books by her at a used bookstore… I have avoided her since then.

      As for the innocuous little question, I’m surprised I haven’t seen it going around a certain group of acquaintances. They would inevitably switch from a “last book read” challenge to a “how many books read in the last month” contest to better rank their virtue.

      1. True Games looks a lot worse in hindsight, when you realize how much the murderous midwives are good in her sight.

    3. There was a certain horrifying, addictive fascination with her books, but I managed to break it. And even with the half dozen or so I read, I ran across characters presented as wonderfully good for breeding people like sheep; censoring from history the fact they had (accidentally) wiped out humanity; forcibly aborting third or later pregnancies, magically so the woman doesn’t know what happened; murdering children under the age of two if they were third born or later and making their corpses vanish; inserting into history a mission to outer space so that humanity would never venture off Earth. . . .

  11. Last female writer: Jane Austen, The Complete Works, still working on it. I thought Mansfield Park would never end … now on P&P.
    Last female SF: Sarah Hoyt, AFGM
    Last female SF protagonist: Honor Harrington, David Weber’s series. I really like her, her solidity, her ***honor***, her cat … but the last couple books I finished had a lot of discrimination theme, got really old, then she took the guy’s head off, yeah that was satisfying but not convincing … I hope that kind of thing fades away in the next book, otherwise it will be quittin’ time.
    Last nonfiction: Lianne something, a book about Asperger’s.

    Guilty admission: In college, there was a book group on “Feminist Science Fiction,” which I attended once and got a list of authors. The gals in that group scared me … most were older, probably grad students, and typical hippie-looking leftovers. That was how I discovered C.J. Cherryh, whose Chanur series I still love.

    1. I go back and reread “Downbelow Station” every so often. Got my copy from The Demon Bookseller in Annapolis, MD when I was doing an initial interview at the Naval Academy. I also like the first few Merovign Nights books. Haven’t tried Chanur yet.

      1. I recommend the Chanur series. It’s my favorite of her novels that I’ve read. Alas, I haven’t read most of her work. The only ones I’ve read are Chanur, Downbelow Station, and the Morgaine trilogy. I have the Foreigner and Faded Sun series in my Stack of Stuff to Read, but it’s a Last-In-First-Out stack…

        1. I could never get into Foreigner, but I don’t think that’s her fault. I’ve heard the books described as masterpieces. I have this brain glitch, though — I don’t believe in Aliens. Even in the Heinlein juveniles, aliens are hard to swallow.

          I realized over time that I was avoiding all books with aliens.

          Which is a pity because I have this great idea for a space opera series that WOULD use my linguistics training. You remember James White Surgeon to The Stars (my older boy has a little shrine in his room!)

          Well, I wanted to do “Translator to aliens” — and I’m trying to psych myself up for it. I THINK (yeah, mind is foggy) I pitched it to Toni and she said “Oh, yeah” a while back. So…

          1. I do the reverse — WOO, ALIEN VIEWPOINTS! (As a kid, I had a book which had some scenes from a non-human (draconic) antagonist creature’s viewpoint. I went and read and re-read those to the exclusion of the entire rest of the book.

            If you can handle gengineered “aliens,” you might look at M.C.A. Hogarth’s stuff. http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/26588 is free (very short; first read-through, the end was “wait, wait, this is a cliff I stepped off!”; second read-through, expecting it, wasn’t so abrupt tome); http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/26097 is 99c and I really liked it.

            If you can handle a kind-of-fantasy world entirely with aliens, http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/26197 is free. (It deals with gender, yes, but they’re not human ones and the entire thing is 100% biology for them, and discussing it any further gets into spoilers for the trilogy of novels set in that world.)

            1. Actually the only alien book I ever read and enjoyed — someone here will know the title and author, I’m sure, was the energy-aliens with three genders, who were stealing energy from our world, and who died by going solid. I think the author was Van Vogt? the title is hopeless since it was a Portuguese translation and the titles could and often did go completely off the map. (Day of the Triffids? The Walking Forest in the Portuguese translation I read. DO NOT ASK.)

              Anyway, that world because it was ALL alien (the human portions were discrete, if I’m remembering right) read plausible and fully realized to me. Of course, I was maybe twelve.

              1. The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov?

                Minor note, I tried to reread his original Foundation series but decided that the Second Foundation *should* have been destroyed. [Sad Smile]

                  1. Hal Clement’s aliens were generally considered pretty good. I read them so long ago that I wouldn’t recommend anyone rely on any of my critical judgments beyond his books being dang good reads.

                  2. I have to second Paul — it does sound like Asimov’s The Gods Themselves. Technically they weren’t stealing the energy; they were exchanging isotopes that worked differently owing to the differing natural laws in the alternate worlds, and they matured by becoming solid beings — that forgot their childhood and changed their aims, so as good as dead, at that.

    2. I consider Cherryh a thoughtful, serious and worthwhile writer, but not so serious as to be tendentious.

      I don’t know all of the late Jo Clayton’s work, but IMHO her Diadem series deserves to survive.

    3. And you obviously stopped after book 5, “Flag In Exile”. Which means you missed several sequelae which didn’t have anything to do with that and have actually proven almost scarily prescient about what it takes to remove an entrenched bureaucratic tyranny (Hint: at least part of the solutions come in calibers).

      1. I’m not sure if it has gotten worse in the last couple ‘Shadow’ books, or if I am just noticing it more; but it annoys me that almost ALL of the major characters, making important decisions are female. Don’t get me wrong, I like all of the characters individually, I just have to struggle not to be thrown out of the story by the unrealistically overwhelming majority of the pivotal characters being women.

        That being said, please do soldier on, B-girl, I didn’t notice the discrimination theme so much until the second read-through of the series, but it does fade out after Flag In Exile, and does it gradually, which makes it more realistic, instead of everybody going, “Oh, Honor kills every man that meets her, so women must all be equal to men.”

        1. When one of the major POV character is related to the Queen of Manticore, I rather expect a fair number of the decisions to be made by women. It’s a logical outcome from the fact that the main character of the entire series is a woman. YMMV.

          1. I don’t have a problem with the DECISIONS being made by women, and to be truthful I feel like all the feminist BS in society is probably causing me to be oversensitive, but my problem is that all the major characters (ie military officers in charge) ARE women.

            I like these characters and think Weber does an excellent job, and even realize that he prefers to write from the viewpoint of strong female POV characters, so one is necessarily going to see mostly through the prism of female characters, I just think that he got carried away with putting women in the leadership roles. I realize there are important male lead characters that remain mainly offstage, I just find it jarring that probably 75% plus of the major military leads are women.

              1. Ah — this reflects a different problem, namely the unequal treatment of men and women in death. Killing a woman is horrible, horrible, horrible, killing a man is just life, and so the fictional death tolls are heavily weighted toward the male. (And you still get screams of outrage when a woman buys it: violence against women.)

  12. “The problem with trying to equalize the innies and outies”. My forst thought was that you were talking about belly buttons. When I had a different thought, I prided myself for still qualifying for the Turtle Club. Then you mentioned belly buttons …. Confusing!
    To follow the meme, of the last three stories I’ve read, #1 was Anne McCaffery’s Freedom series, your Prometheus, and am now on John Ringo’s Prince Roger series.
    All good writing.
    I’d rather read a well-developed romance that a poorly written SF. In fact, I HAVE read many Romances that I found were excellent writing. Ones I am willing to read again. And some SF’s I’ve read once and have never picked up again.
    But you know, you target your blog to a goodly number of Odds, so I’m not surprised that quality of workmanship is more important that redeeming social value.

    1. Is Ringos Prince Roger series good? Looks interesting and almost got it today while out but I picked up The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress instead based on the comments from the other day.

      1. As always, such things are a matter of taste, before asking if a bowl of chili is “hot” first find out the provider’s definition of hot and your mileage may vary. Caveat Emptor.

        That said: Is the Pope Catholic? Do bears sing scat in the woods? Do monkey’s fling poo? Is scotch best served on the rocks or with water on the side?

        If you answer to one or more of those questions is “Ayup” then you will probably like Prince Roger. It is a coming of age story layered onto a extra-planetary version of the Anabasis. Hard to put down, easy to pick up again.

      2. I think so. Ringo is a hard SF/contemporary fiction writer who has done collaborations with the likes of Eric Flint, David Weber and others. He’s found often on the Baen website, and you can check out his website here: http://www.johnringo.net/TheLibrary/EmpireofMan.aspx
        That said, he’s an easy read to get involved in. I’d suggest looking for an ebook of one of his works to see his style.

        1. I would not start a new Ringo reader on _Ghost_. _Ghost_ is a self-admitted “Whanker” story that John Ringo couldn’t get out of his mind so he wrote it down. He made the mistake of posting pieces of it in Ringo’s Tavern on Baen’s Bar and then got talked into having it published. IMO the following books in the series were “fun reads” except for the last one which was written by another author who (even in John Ringo’s opinion) wrote a very poor book.

          1. I’ve read several of Ringo`s stuff and Ghost was the first one I read. Not entirely sure why. I’ll be sure to add the first Prince Roger book to my list.

            1. Yes do, for my money the Prince Rogers books are the best of any of the books with either David Weber or John Ringo’s name on the cover, with the possible exception of The Field of Dishonor. And this praise comes from a guy who doesn’t like SF with aliens in it. 😉

  13. The last female author I noticed and vetted the book by the author’s sex was… a book on the WASPs in WWII, by a former Women’s Air Service Pilot. Where her sex was less important than her resume, but it certainly meant she was anything but blind to the backbiting and gossip, and the pressures between Cochrane and her ladies, which were much more vicious than the pressures between the army air force and the wasps.

    Sorry, Sarah – I don’t read you because you’re a female science fiction author. I read your books because you’re a good author, and I like your stories. 😛 Unreconstructed, that’s me.

    1. Heh, heh! I used to work at IWASM and my grandma was a pilot and helped run an airport, and everything I’ve seen says that was SO TRUE. Still was tension between various groups, and between a lot of the original 99’s, etc…. OTOH, everybody loves you as soon as you’re dead, and they want your stuff too.

      Women… as a sex, we’re just as weird as men.

    1. I think they’d prefer you follow the directions on a shampoo container. “Repeat as directed”. Nauseating.

      1. None of the other categories are good predictors of political opinion, but I have yet to meet a vegan with libertarian or conservative opinions. They may exist, but I have no evidence of such.

        1. I know one: my brother. It was a passing thing that started out as an accident (he couldn’t afford anything for a while but rice and a few vegetables), and he’s since returned to the joys of eating animals, but he’s a libertarian hippie by and large.

          1. yes, libertarian and hippie overlap a lot. I have friends who are libertarian/hippie/will hold nose and vote republican. Actually most of my friends who are older than I.

            The funny thing is that in current wordage, they’re “conservatives”. Bah.

          2. There is a BIG difference between vegan and vegetarian. Vegetarians don’t eat meat (we’ll leave out the denominational vegetarian arguments over whether eggs and/or fish are considered meat), vegans do not use any animal products. Strict vegans will not only not eat any animal products (including milk and cheese by many of the more extreme sects) but also won’t use such items as leather, soaps that have animal fat in them, lubricants that include animal products, etc.
            While I have known of libertarian vegetarians (very few) I have never heard of a vegan libertarian/conservative/anything other than flaming leftwing whackjob.

            1. Precisely. I left out the part about vegetarians being different from vegans because I didn’t want to make my post too long, but that’s the main reason, I think, why all (or nearly all) vegans are extreme leftists. Because while some vegetarians are motivated by science (the research they’ve read tells them that reducing meat consumption is healthier — I think they’re drawing incorrect conclusions and are unaware of other important research, but at least there’s a rational basis for their vegeterianism), every vegan I’ve ever encountered, in person or online, has been motivated by ideology, which has always been based on feeeeeeeeelings rather than intellect.

              Also, one is a lot more annoying than the other. When I was a junior in high school, another student on the Science Bowl team with me once told me, “You know, milk isn’t a very good source of calcium: studies have shown the fat makes the body absorb a lot less calcium. You really should be taking calcium supplements rather than drinking milk.” And while I think she was incorrect in her conclusions, we could at least have a rational debate on the subject. Whereas someone who argued that milk production oppresses cows… well, what do you think the chances would be of having any kind of rational discussion with such a person?

        2. I was, for about two years. Now, mind you the main drive was that I was really poor, but I also felt really bad about dead animals.

          Grew up and discovered my system was not designed to run on rice and veg. Ah well.

  14. 1. Yep, the multicultists love their categories because they can discuss them with the methodology that Marx used for classes. That way they don’t have to be outright Communists, although of course “Marx had some good insights which have never been implemented properly”. Besides, being a committed Communist is hard .

    2. The people who treat people as things view attributes like moral codes, compassion, respect for other views, etc as levers to be manipulated to get power, not as virtues or desirable qualities. Their discussions of “oppression” should be interpreted accordingly.

    3. I should make more of an effort to read new stuff. Mostly I dip in and out of the literature of my youth, wondering if the sense of wonder is still there. Sometimes, sometimes not.

    4. I did buy and enjoy an ebook of Darkship Thieves by one S.A. Hoyt. I enjoyed it to the point of seriously considering subscribing to her blog, which would do serious karmic damage to my aspiration to reincarnate as a skinflint New England Yankee. However, when I try to select a year’s subscription, my browsers default to a monthly subscription. Nor does the site inform me whether or not the yearly/monthly subscriptions are self-renewing.

    So for the time being my karmic balance is intact.

    1. A) I think they’re self renewing. B) my mailbox is FULL of email from paypal saying something like “We can’t fix it, you should do this.” So I do that, and then… it does the same. People who don’t believe in self renewing subscriptions (I don’t, as a rule, because I tend to forget, though I do — I THINK — still subscribe to Chaos Manor that way) can do a one year donation and put in the field “Hey, dunderhead, this is for a subscription.” I then give you access and benes, and next year you subscribe or not, as you wish.

      BTW, being married to a New England skinflint, I get the “Why are you throwing away the can opener we’ve had since we got married?” “It’s broken.” “No, it’s not. you can rotate the blade with your thumb, see?” “You cut yourself, and you might as well use a swiss army knife.” “Okay,” generously, throwing it away. “You might as well use your swiss army knife.” 😛

      1. Thanks.

        What do you mean by the “direct email requests” available via the Patron membership, i.e requests for what?

        Ten dollarss more, preciousss! She wantss ten more dollarsss!

  15. “What was the last female writer you read, and the book?”

    Sorry, I have never read a female author. I have read many books and not a few short stories by authors who were female.

    I have known quite a number of young men who tried to convince young women that they could “read” them, apparently using some variant of Braille, but I thought the plot too predictable.

    1. What, you don’t use cold reading as part of trying to con people?

      What kind of person-who-doesn’t-wholeheartedly-support-the-feminists are you if you don’t devote the whole focus of your life to the indiscriminate use of ‘pick-up artist’ methods?

  16. I don’t know what the /last/ book by a female that I read was.

    The joke is that I somehow think ‘Sarah Hoyt’ and ‘Lois Bujold’ are men’s names.

    The other joke is that I only pretend to read Sarah’s stuff. That I only ever read things with a certified 100% male chain of custody, and I am really good at pretending to have read stuff that I haven’t. That I just come here to complain about communists, feminists, and the inherently white supremacist nature of the modern Democratic Party.

    Seriously, I’m not sure what the last /book/ I /read/ was. Much less having a list of recent books to sort, and figure out the latest one written by a woman. I have no idea how one would go about checking editors, or how one would count a book with multiple authors.

  17. First thought, before finishing essay. Patricia Crone “The Meccan Trade and the Rise of Islam.” It got bad reviews not because she’s a woman, but because she roasted a whole bunch of sacred cows over a large fire of facts.

      1. I refuse to take so absurd a topic seriously.

        Particularly as you utterly fail to address the greatest imbalance in the industry: the dearth of female writers of Westerns. There was Louise L’Amour and nobody else!

              1. We would be remiss to overlook Oona Wister, authoress of what is generally recognized as the “first” Western. (Some people argue it is Jenna Fennimore Cooper, but I think that a bit of a stretch.)

                  1. I thought Celia’s books were historical fiction, which is not quite the same thing as Westerns. The Beloved Spouse praised Celia’s books quite highly and I look forward to reading them. I gather they are on a par with Eloise Leonard’s works.

            1. 5.11 tactical gear has also released a line of kilts. They were supposed to be an april fool’s day joke on the website, but they got a lot customers asking if they could make ’em, and trying to preorder.

              Like any good capitalist, when they realized there was a pent-up demand, a way to do it profitably, and customers who just wanted 5.11 to shut and take their money already, they started making ’em.

              I, for one, fully approve. Short of a full tuxedo, it’s really hard to be transgressive while wearing men’s clothing these days, so more kilt options are always better. Sadly, I just look like an anime character or a catholic school girl in a kilt and blouse – not nearly as radically transgressive as a guy in a dress.

              1. I expect a well made kilt offers significantly greater ability to carry clips, magazines and extra weapons than even a pair of cargo pants.

                1. A sporran? I see a mollie gear sporran with moveable internal slots to easily switch from the Sig, for everyday wear, to the PPK for the casual evening out.

                  Pockets in a kilt just affect the drape.

              2. So… I had to go look. The web site says that the tactical duty kilts are only available until April 30! (Just in case someone was seriously considering it.)

      2. Seriously, if women thought they were being discriminated against in publishing for being women, where are the Andre Nortons of our day?

        In fairness, some authors go with their female names despite feeling they would be discriminated against (because they’re cussed stubborn! see Seanan McGuire/Mira Grant); some likely think they’re being discriminated against, but starting over with a new name would mean losing series momentum/name recognition; and some are probably using male names and don’t let it get out because they feel they’d be discriminated against.

        Of the more “open” women-with-male-names, well, you already mentioned J.K. Rowling (who doesn’t have a middle name beginning with K). There’s also, with varying degrees of openness, J.D. Robbs (Nora Roberts), Magnus Flyte (two women), A. S. Byatt (English), K.A. Stewart, Rob Thurman (whose website’s “about the author” totally dodges pronouns!)…

        Actually, Rob there is probably an Andre Norton of our day, with that pronoun-dodging “about” blurb — most of the Initial Authors are apparently just hoping (or their publishers are) to get a fandom before their gender gets revealed. Rob seems to be actively concealing it. (I have had to conceal gender a few times when discussing a character, for various reasons, and that right there is exactly what it looks like. Mostly natural, and the short name helps a lot, but no pronouns.)

        You asked!

        1. Lord Dunsany decided not to switch to Edward Plunkett (which was also his real name, too) despite the grief he got from the notion that rich men can’t write, because he had a fan base.

    1. Georgette Heyer, Rosemary Sutecliff, Joan Aiken, Agatha Christie, and Diana Jones were well known rough-and-tumble manly men, who fought many life and death battles, escaping being killed by the narrowest of margins countless times. When they set out to end the dictator of a country that rhymes with Leople’s Tepublic if Dhina, they first destroyed his hundred man bodyguard of superhuman murderous freaks from around the world.

      ‘Stephanie Meyer’ is a middle aged male, 6’2″, normally 180 pounds or so, who killed an entire generation of feminists by hand.

      1. Wow, you mean Stephanie Meyer is one of Larry Correia’s pen-names? Dang. That could explain so much.

        1. Let’s see… Lives in Utah, check. Same religion, check. Writes vampires… check.

          Um… I’ve never seen them in the same room. It’s proven! And admire Larry’s piece of post-modern snark where he said “Vampires should not sparkle unless they’re on fire.”

          Volunteers to take Twilight to Larry for signing at Liberty con? I’ll do it!

      2. You forgot Dorothy Sayers: Power lifter and middleweight boxer. She went three rounds with Dante, I believe.

            1. You mean Ringo has All Der Money and All Der Guns? No wonder he’s Publishing’s Enemy Number One!

                1. I’d suggest also finding something appropriate for Drake, Kratman, and Williamson. Personally, I would also favor having them, per my comments in that Rogue Magic thread, sign as Yuy, Maxwell, Barton, Warner, and Chang.

                2. Tamora Pierce’s Alanna books are the closest I can come up with for Williamson.

                  Mahouka no Rettousei apparently comes closer to how Kratman might execute a magical girl story than anything I’ve ever heard of.

                  As for Drake, I have no idea.

                  1. Drake did write a romance once, you know. Can’t remember the name, but I remember it was a woman’s pseudonym.

                    1. Well, I remembered all those dummy book covers somebody made up to roast him.

                      *Tracks something down*

                      You weren’t thinking of ‘Love’s Secret Sniper’ by Dee Dee Drake?

                      I’m honestly coming up blank on anything that could top, or match, that.

                      Drake-> Krake -> Wheel of Time doesn’t quite work for me, and I’d want something that works as far as Drake and Kratman or I think I’d be too shy ask for a signature.

                      Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei should make sense, except that it seems to have issues of being too PC, not trolling readers enough, being out of genre, not causing enough blood and testosterone to condensate on nearby surfaces…

                    2. I actually think I have a copy of Twilight upstairs, to have Larry sign, and some Sherrylin Kenyon for the Colonel, sorry don’t have any Fifty Shades of Gray for Ringo, and have no idea what Williamson or Drake’s female alter ego’s are, although I’m pretty sure Drake’s writes for Harlequin.

                    3. Was thinking about Susan Cooper, which reminded me of Helen Cresswell, who is a good fit for Drake. I calculate 5.7 on the Winchester-Studebaker compatibility index. Sadly, checking Amazon, most of that writer’s stuff seems very expensive.

                  2. Kratman or anyone in Baen doing a magical girl series… I think I need a drink just thinking about it.

                    (It’d make one hell of an April Fool’s Joke.)

                    1. Barbara is a grown woman (not a teenager). Now, her daughter might decide to follow in Mom’s footsteps …. [Wink]

                    2. I’m serious.

                      That said, a) I’m a fan of the magical girl genre b) I’m a huge fan of Tom Kratman, and I’ve often wondered what a Kratman treatment would be like. (The thing that most hurts my imagination is the question of where he would go to get a model for such a military force such that he could believe in it.)

                      I think I may see some influences in Wen Spencer and Ryk Spoor’s stuff. I know both have some anime influence. Either of them doing magical girl, or in Ryk’s case, most anime/manga/LN genres would not shock me.

                      Now, CLAMP doing a mil sci-fi novel with Baen would be a surprise.

                    3. It would be like Amazon Legion set in the Council Wars? That might be grim. Riveting, fascinating, mind-blowing. But grim.

                    4. Scarily enough I could see something like Rayearth, filtered through Doc Travis and John Ringo and given a more Human Wave ending. If it were something like X or Tsubasa, well, I don’t think my liver could hold out.

                      Hmm, Card Captor Athena…

                      Maybe I need to stop drinking…

  18. This has been going on for years. An example that popped up in my head was Mary Anne Evans who used the pen name George Eliot, because women authors were thought to only to write light hearted romances, and she wanted to be taken seriously. She also wanted to avoid public scrutiny and scandal due her 20 year relationship with the George Henry Lewes, who was married to someone else. In the past 100+ years, only the light hearted romances rat remains, no one cares about the living arrangements.

  19. On your list of female specific issues you omitted menstruation and related inconveniences. Also, the inability to write with urine (at least, your own, fresh from the bladder.)

    Two decade old joke:

    FBI Director: Mr. President, we’ve done as you asked and determined who wrote “President Clinton Sucks” in the snow in the Rose Garden.

    I don’t s’pose women writers can convey the compelling pressure of an erection lasting more than four hours, but I don’t think I would want to read a story where that mattered.

    1. Eh, RES, I think Aristophanes already covered (or uncovered) that topic a few years ago. Aaannnd I’m going to stop right there.

  20. Actually, women broke into the sf markets from the beginning. If you read old sf magazines, old Weird Tales, etc., the percentage of women writers in the 20’s and 30’s pulps is about the same as in any other genre of pulp. Women writers didn’t start to “disappear” until later in the Thirties. Now, a lot of these ladies weren’t super-great, but neither were most of the guys! But they didn’t go to cons and get written into the genre history, basically. (Of course, neither did some pretty awesome and prolific guys. Studying actual pulps versus remembered authors is a real reality check.)

    Most of the love pulps, love Western pulps, and spicy stories pulps were all written by guys, and the audience for the first two kinds of mags was pretty evenly distributed among the sexes for a long time, mostly because a lot more romance stories were written from a man’s POV. The spicy stories ones were written for guys for sure. (And no, I don’t recommend today’s readers try spicy story pulps. Seriously, ew. Being a completist reader of some authors can lead you down some dark paths, and ew.)

  21. Last book by a female author:
    “A Few Good Men” by Sarah Hoyt
    (also, last book i read, been busy writing/testing/evaluating)

    I anxiously await seeing the children’s picture book by Sarah Hoyt err I mean Joe Smith that teaches small children in 12 pages that the government is bad because it is not your daddy and wants to take your favorite toys away and give them to other children.

    1. “A is for anarchist/ exploring in space.
      “B is for Bastiat/ G-d give him grace.
      “C is for caliber/ and things that go boom (remember the four rules, kids!)
      “D’s for democracy/ and who votes for whom . . .”

      1. Please finish that, and find an illustrator. Because I know just the parents to give this to. And just the not-parents-yet. Some of them will probably think it fits on the shelf right next to “Go the F*ck To Sleep” (and if you haven’t heard the audiobook version, the got Samuel L Jackson to read it.) Others will think it’s perfect.

        Please? Pleeeease? *puppy dog eyes*

        1. I second that, pretty, pretty please do it.
          On a side note, I once printed out and assembled a copy of Friedrich Hayek’s _Road to Serfdom in Cartoons_ for a co-worker to give to her grandchild as a coloring book. It did not go over well.

            1. I do not have a copy of that, I might have done it on a work computer. (as a bad employee)
              You can get a version from the Mises.org, put “illustrated Road to Serfdom” in the search box at top; or you can get it from http://www.scribd.com. Or any other place that comes up on a search.
              The Mises site sells some stuff and gives others away, and I am never sure what is what and I think that takes the libertarian thing a touch too far -guilt and confusion should not be a marketing tool.
              I don’t know if there is still a copyright on it or not, or who owns it.

        2. No way? My dad’s got it on his shelf as a joke obviously midget wants Spiderman or the like. but it’s hilarious none the less. Though in my day it was made up stories and Jimmy Buffet. A son of a son of a sailor and A pirate Looks at Forty*

          *said midget is 18 Years younger than myself and 5. (Hence midget) I only learned the title to the second song recently before that it was always just mother mother ocean. Think I’m gonna go youtube them.

          1. My older son is three years younger than you. My younger son is 18. I don’t think older brother ever calls younger anything but “Kid.” So be prepared to still call Midget that when he’s taller than you… 😉

      2. Shut up and take my money! Seriously, I know at least two artists off the top of my head who’d be happy to illustrate that for you, and I want it on my kids’ bookshelf right now. If I send you money now, can I have a copy the moment it’s finished?

  22. The last book I read by a female author was… the author was Jennifer Ashley… um, the book was (has to look it up) … Lone Wolf. (And I find that she writes urban fantasy and mysteries under two pseudonymns. I hadn’t known that.)

    I’m pretty sure that it is in the category of “doesn’t count” though, for the fussy sorts asking the question. Because she writes romances.

    She also, apparently, does so with a blazing mercantile drive, releasing books frequently in a number of genres… almost (gasp) like it was a job she done for money. An attitude, for what it’s worth, that I find common among male authors, who treat writing like a job they done for money.

    Take Daniel Abraham who writes urban fantasy as MLN Hanover… or even John Ringo who popped into a usenet discussion of the Harlequin Bombshell release with “Hey, I could do that, just have to….” I’ve no idea if he ever did “that” but I’ve no doubt that he’d do it in a heartbeat.

    It’s got to give the artsy-fartsy types heartburn.

    1. Over on the Passive Voice blog, Passive Guy has been known to say that Romance writers are savvy, business-like people. (The stuff he showcases that’s all pro-artsyfartsy tends to be about equal male/female. Literary guys can be kind of appalling in wanting to be coddled and not have to think about anything but their ART! And NEITHER SHOULD ANYONE ELSE! Think about anything but their ART! Or possibly the author-in-question’s ART. It’s a little unclear at times.)

  23. I’ve noticed another trend recently (last ten years or so): many women writers of mystery series also involve cooking, and have recipes scattered throughout their books. I also know three women writers who write books that take place in Colorado, only the names have been changed to protect the guilty (I say that because I recognized a couple of the people in one of the books.).

  24. I’m not sure who the last female author I read was … because there are four or five half-finished books written by female SF/Fantasy authors on my nightstand, in my briefcase, stashed behind the seat of my Jeep and on the living room table …

    Because I read everything I can get my hands on, within my preferred genre’s, heck I read the back of cereal boxes if nothing else is at hand, I read a lot of female authors. I don’t know if I read more male or female authors frankly.

    1. I parsed read as finished. If last story I read in, well, I just reread the latest update of Vathara’s Embers.

    2. LOL. I will literally read the personal ads off paper that has been used to wrap fish if I have nothing else. AND I’ll do my d*mndest to read them in the half forgotten languages like German or Swedish if that’s all that’s available.

      It’s an addiction.

        1. Bad idea. Get the fries instead. There is more reading matter on the side of the fries packaging.

          If I‘m at lunch and don’t have a book to read there has been a fundamental breakdown in the space-time continuum that has disrupted the fundamental order of reality.

          1. I found it very comforting, mid a World Fantasy banquet, when I’d been avoiding reaching into my purse for a book and, looking sidewise, saw Dave Drake reach into his suit pocket for his. I thought, “I’m not alone” and dove for the book.

    3. I’m halfway through three or four books, too, including one by Tara Harper (can’t remember the name right offhand), and our hostess’ most recently released FREE book (I’ve read the first couple of pages). I’m also in the midst of five or six books on my NOOK, and as soon as I can convert the last few I’ve downloaded, will add some more. As Sarah says, it’s an addiction. The only thing I can give it up for is a quiet day at the side of a lake.

  25. Last novel by a female author that I read? That’d be “A Few Good Men”, by some chick whose name escapes me at the moment. 😉 (Before that would be Virginia DeMarce’s most recent contribution to the Ring-of-Fire-verse, which was pretty good on the whole, but nevertheless added more ammunition to my claim that somebody needs to help her rein in her genealogy obsession. Before that? “Finity’s End”, by CJ Cherryh, who doesn’t need to rein in anything at all. Before that was probably Bujold, but I wouldn’t swear to it.)

    The only relevant dividing line between the sexes (as writers) that I’ve ever actually found to be true is that, among writers I actually like, the women are more likely to be especially good at portraying interesting and complex character psychology well. But of course, among writers I don’t like so much, there are plenty of them who suck at it, and there are also a few men who are good at it.

    But the truth is, I don’t care about “women”, except to the extent I care about “humans”. The category doesn’t interest me…I can only bring myself to give a damn about specific individuals. If they’re writers I want them to be good at writing…and except in the special case of the one I’m married to, I figure that their genes and their genitals are none of my business.

  26. Among my favoritest authors (our hostess excepted because, well, that’s a given) are C.J. Cherryh (note the gender-masking initials) and Emma Bull, who, for the longest time was joined at the literary hip with her husband, Will Shetterly and. (As in Will Shetterly and Emma Bull). Neither of whom seem to be given to writing weepy females. And then there are Ansen Dibble (female, but who knew) and M.A Foster (male, but see C.J. Cherryh above). And who knew.

    I composed the above in my head and then started making a list of all the authors whose shelf spots I’d forage in back when I frequented bricks-and-mortar book stores. And I started thinking about how I miss that aspect of book shopping at Amazon. And wondered:

    DOES ANYBODY KNOW… Where there’s a way to set up on Amazon an “authors I’m watching” list that will trigger notes when they come out with something new? Like… when will Kristine Smith do another Jani Killian novel?

    But anyway. I find the whole “nobody buys women” thing to be tiresome and evidence of laziness in the publishing business. It’s about as stupid as the reason that British singers all sing in an American accent.(Because Americans — the biggest music market — presumably don’t like British accents.) Whoever came up with that is a bigoted idiot-asshole. And never saw a pack of teenyboppers swooning over the latest British import, and most ESPECIALLY the dreamy accents.s

    I always wondered why they didn’t just make it a selling point. And the same with women authors. Turn it into a virtue. And, no, I don’t mean in the “po’-po’-pitiful-me” sense.Got to be a reason Agatha Christie is more popular than Rex Stout. Or Mickey Spillane.

    And… tangentially…

    Like it matters. Did you know Earl Stanley Gardner and A.A.Fair (note the gender-disguising initials) are the same person? I’d bet that, if you do, it doesn’t really matter to you.

    And that’s why I think the whole trope is stupid. ‘Cause, when people find out, they DON’T. REALLY. CARE. The whole thing is just some idiotic excuse for poor performance.

    But I really am interested in that “Author’s I’m Following” thing on Amazon.


    1. Um… I don’t know about the Amazon thing, but you know the contact us thing on the site. Call them and give them the idea. If it exists I also can’t find it, and I’d also love it.

      On the other — look, it’s made up. IF it were real, publishers who want to make money would not LET women write under their full names or use female pen names.

      As for the center of this “women get reviewed less” — they’re counting traditional reviews. NO ONE has yet proven that reviews in places like PW actually DO sell books. They seem mostly to impress other publishers. My first trilogy was EXCEEDINGLY and exhaustively reviewed and at least to believe statements (ah!) it almost didn’t sell. DST OTOH gone none of the accolades from the big reviewers, and it’s doing quite well thank you.

      Now book blogs DO count, (and can actually make you rich by setting off a chain reaction) but few of these surveys count them.

      1. My guess is that PW and such reviews exist for the library market. A positive review in a trade paper gives librarians a) a reason to place the order b) cover if somebody objects to the book being on the library shelves.

        Perhaps somebody here has the librarian training to comment?

        On the author tracking thing … Amazon’s algorithm does track what you buy and generate emails, but that is ineffective for the purpose you state. Some of us (Ich) make periodic visits to the Baen online schedule for publication and use that to place advance orders from Amazon, but again … inefficient. What is needed is a “subscribe” option, probably placed on an author’s Amazon page.

        Alternatively, some enterprising webtrepreneur could probably build a site allowing people to subscribe to favorite authors (or DVD series) and thus receive an update (with embedded order link) whenever a new item by the subscribee is scheduled for release. Site advertising and Amazon kick … ahem, commissions … would probably cover the operating costs and generate a little something.

        Add a function for authors’ outstanding catalog, too, allowing you to catch up on a writer’s back catalog at a reasonable rate, say one a month (allow subscriber to choose frequency, quantity — if you want two a fortnight or even all at once) thus facilitating getting caught up on an author or series (e.g., Dresden Files) that a reader might have only recently discovered without massive hit to the pocketbook or reading pile.

        I s’pose it could give the subscriber the option to get an email whenever a new item appears on the schedule or via monthly newsletter.

        The one catch might be garnering the info, but I think publishers’ catalogs are probably easy enough to enter into databases which would automatically feed out to subscribers. Given the pre-order boost this would offer, I expect bright, forward-thinking publishers (both of them) would be eager to provide the data feed to the site.

        Probably a good spot for promoting authors, as well.

        1. Good points all. But I also miss other … I guess you’d call them “features” … of browsing in a physical bookstore.

          The shelf algorithm itself seems more comfortable than the 25-results-per-page search results. I’d like to see an updated interface that acts like a cross between search results and the iTunes flick interface, where you could see fifty or a hundred books, spine out, and flick through them as fast as you wanted.

          Then you click on one that interests to you … “take it off the shelf” and look at the front cover. Then click it again to flip it over and read the back. Right-click or something to open it to read the inside front page, or look at the preview pages, or whatever.

          As it stands right now, you have to go several layers deep in a VERY slow and clunky interface to see that kind of thing when it should just pop off the screen without having to interrupt your search.

          And, also, I’d like to be able to throw a book in the shopping cart and continue browsing ON THE SAME SHELF. Can’t do that now.

          But I should be telling Amazon all this, not you-lot. We’ll see how they respond to the initial contact.


          1. Hear back. They don’t have a facility for following specific authors and, to the knowledge of the CS person who wrote to me, they don’t have immediate plans. But the suggestion has been passed along.

            I suspect it’s all official boilerplate. But at least the notion is out there, now.


            1. Amazon USED to have an alerts system for following authors or other keywords. They killed it many years ago (2006). I’m still p*d off over that.

          2. If you are interested in a book but don’t want to leave the shelf, right click the link and tell it to open in a new page. This can be very handy when you want to compare features of two different presentations, such as BluRay and DVD versions of a movie/program.

      2. I figured I’d probably end up sending a message. But I also thought I should probably check at least ONE place to see if anybody else had already invented/discovered that wheel. I just now sent them an email. Let’s see what sprouts from the seed. Could be interesting.


        1. One work around — clumsy and problematic but beats nothing consists of setting a Notepad file. Wiki authors you want to follow and scroll down to the lists of their books (kindly listed chronologically within series) and copy/paste that list to your Notepad file (word processor of your choice, I don’ care.)

          Use this file to identify books in a series and guide your ordering/reading of them, either by setting them up in an appropriate columnar format (say, with the tab key) or (if you chose a different word processor) by bolding, italicizing or even colour-coding books.

          Yes, set-up and maintenance can be a nuisance, but it is a minor one.

          If you bookmark the wiki pages — especially if you use the link for the “books” section it is a fairly easy matter to revisit the wiki page (same as visiting a section of store shelf) and comparing the results with your list to determine whether there have been additions.

    2. For some odd reason, I had it in my head for years that “L.E. Modesitt” was female … until I picked up a book with an author photo …

      Didn’t stop me from reading him.

  27. FWIW – I don’t really read horror either. Even the gunslinger series by King got mired, much like the Stand, in the whole “people/civilization sucks/it will always go to hell anyway no matter how nobly you stand up” mentality. I make an exception for Dean Koontz, but you could make a strong argument that he writes SF/technothrillers more than horror.

    Ditto zombies. After half a dozen zombie novel/anthologies that made me depressed just starting them (and never finished), I pretty much no longer tried. Then I got a word-of mouth to try World War Z, and actually enjoyed that one.Still, given what messages people tend to enjoy in Zombie Fic – I’ll stay away from most with a 10-foot pole.

  28. Last book I read by a female author was the latest two in the Noble Dead series by Barb and J.C. Hendee, if a husband/wife team doesn’t count, then it would be Sabrina Chase’s The Scent of Metal, and before that would be the nonfiction Home Before Morning written by a Vietnam nurse whose name escapes me at the moment. I like styles of writing, and could care less about the gender of the author, on the other hand in certain genres I have noticed trends I don’t care for that seem to follow gender, the good guys never kill anybody, even the thoroughly evil villain trend seems to follow a fair number of female authors around, and will cause me to never pick up another of said authors books.

  29. Do you all regulary get Baen books directly from their site for your ebook format of choice?

        1. In a moment of weakness, I may have ordered one or two through amazon to appear immediately on the kindle, but the e-arcs and the majority of the ebooks, yes, direct from Baen. They don’t do spam and their information security (never had my credit card numbers hacked from them, don’t get “third party offers” from the email address I gave them) is good enough to keep me happy.

          1. I usually buy on Amazon because when I want it, I want it, knowwhatImean — but I’ve bought webscriptions gifts for friends, and they’ve been happy.

            BTW the last promo post added to my “must buy asap” list, which means I MUST convince Dan to go away to a read/write four or five days. How sad is this that this is my idea of a vacation? I’ll read every evening and write every day…

      1. I got sidetracked by a turkey dinner wandering across my yard, while I was typing the above comment. But yes for ebooks I will get them directly from their website, for deadtree I will order wherever I can get the best deal, which includes shipping costs.

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