We Played The Pipe For You, And You Did Not Dance

So, apparently the non-binary gender chick (no, it’s not sexist.  I’m very non-binary in that.  Any wimpy, over-educated hot house flower with tender feelings and its head up its own yaya is a chickie.  The ones who happen to have a penis are the worst) wimped out of her crusade and entertained herself with reviewing an eighties book that is about a character with non-standard gender presentation.

As someone who despite DD cups and a face not even her own father would call chiseled or rugged routinely gets addressed as “sir” and was more than once addressed as “sir” and/or treated as a guy even when she was 17 and in a red dress and pumps (no, I don’t get it either.  I’ve encountered people like that, though, when I was working retail.  When I looked away from them to do something I remembered them as the opposite gender. Perhaps I camouflage well) I wish that character should cry me a river.

No, for the record, I don’t want to become a guy. (Nor do I think I’m “really” a guy.) I’m happily, not to say enthusiastically, heterosexual so becoming a guy to go after guys would be stupid.  Also, frankly, some of us have seen the binary categories for what they are.  I.e. some of us have caught on to the fact that “the contents don’t always correspond to label.  Some settling might have occurred during shipping.”  Or in adult terms, there’s the binary polar opposites, and then there is the real world presentation where on average most women have mostly stereotypical girly characteristics (you bastages can have my collection of snazzy shoes when you pry them out of my cold dead hands.  Also, the house must be clean to GIRL standards.  Also, seriously, I throw like a girl.  And my collection of lipstick is second only to my collection of shoes.  Yes, people still call me “sir” while I’m in red high heels and lipstick. [And other clothes, before you ask.  Have some carp!] No, I don’t want to probe that.  Yes, it pisses me off.) and most men still have mostly stereotypical manly characteristics, but in any real world individual distribution is “human and imperfect” not “human stamped pink or human stamped blue.”  This does not mean the classifications are invalid.  The classifications are opposite poles of the statistic distribution of gender characteristics.

IOW only someone who has done most of her growing up in books would mistake “archetype” for “the only ones allowed to exist,” and think that in the real world or in any good books gender is ever “binary” which I assume she thinks means two categories and nothing outside them, in between them or blended from them.  (There are only ten types of people in the world.  The ones who understand binary, and the ones who don’t.)  When in fact, in the real world and in good books the opposite is almost the exact truth.  (Everyone is an individual and some people are more feminine/masculine than others, but no one is “pure” anything — least of all pure stereotype.)

And I don’t know what books she did her growing up in, but it wasn’t the chronicles of our sci-fictional kind.  No, seriously.  For instance, in this particularly book that she’s so impressed with, apparently the final conclusion is that the character is neither male or nor female.  (Rolls eyes so hard they roll on the floor.  Would someone find them please?  I’ll touch type in the meantime.) I haven’t read the book, so I don’t know how it’s done.  There was a book – Waiting for the Mahdi, the name of the author evades me – where it was done very well and the character was truly between the genders.  However, the startled wonder and amazement of the Non Binary Gender Chickie who is convinced this is the first time this was done in SF – Darling, really, Google The World Well Lost by Theodore Sturgeon.  Sheesh, you kids are so cute —  makes me think that she’s not read much sf/f, really. (And hasn’t lived much either.)

Now, I’m not going to say that this is a triumph of education over real life, or that this poor chickie must have led a very sheltered existence, because I don’t know her.  After all, the Aspergers spectrum is rife in our field, and even people who are not technically Aspergers have acquired some of the modes of the spectrum through contact – and one of the characteristics of my Aspergers friends is believing what they’ve been told or read (even the fiction!) over what they see with their lying eyes.  This is part of the whole needing to put things in categories and classify them, something that the real world is notoriously averse to.

It’s entirely possible, if she’s of the kind who’d rather believe classifications and classes than their eyes, that she simply took a degree in one of the various Marxist disciplines that are so good at the classifications and stratification.  Women’s Studies, for instance.  Or Post Modern Involute Reasoning of some description.  In that case, she might have been a perfectly normal human being who has become a “no obvious gender definitions” chickie, hopefully temporarily.

This is, of course, neither here nor there – though if she’s in any way redeemable, we wish her a speedy cure, because going through life confused about the meanings of BOTH “gender” and “binary” is a sad way to exist and also because I suspect she’s very uncomfortable over not EXACTLY fitting what she views as “female” and thinks is mandatory (Darling, it’s like your mother’s shoes.  Even when you grow to the right size, they won’t fit right, because it’s not you.  It’s her.  In the end, growing up is about becoming YOURSELF.  And none of us are archetypes or stereotypes.  This is why we’re individual human beings.  Familiarize yourself with this idea.  Did you know that our Constitution is supposed to maximize INDIVIDUAL liberty?  You don’t have to fit any dead communist’s idea of classes, either) – because what I find amusing about all this incident, including the attempt to Correiarize Correia by a gentleman who brought a knife to an intellectual machine gun fight, is not that she’s limited herself now to writing book reviews, instead of trying to shame people who write… you know… men who are mostly men and women who are mostly women, like what happens in what we mostly call the real world.

No, what I find interesting and amusing is that it has confirmed something I’ve long suspected( as well as my impression that reports of our cultural demise are greatly exaggerated).  I’ve long suspected that the maintenance of the ever-more-divorced-from-reality-victim-classifying- and-rewarding-culture (that is … post-communist, or at least what communism became after it was proven nonviable as an economic system) depends on a monolithic information/entertainment system.  But the monolithic information/entertainment system seeds its own demise.

They fully conquered the system at least two/three decades ago and had it pretty much staffed it with fellow-travelers fifty years ago.  They disseminated truth from above. People who disagreed with them were culturally isolated and shunned.  Meanwhile, the opinion makers lived in the original echo chamber as they spun further and further away from reality.

This is how we come by the spectacle of a very young writer lecturing the rest of us on the need to write non-standard sexual personae and CLEARLY imagining that SF exists circa, oh, the thirties or forties (even in the fifties there were, if you knew how to read, very many non-standard sexual personae in SF/F.)

You see, SF/F is a literature of the weird, the strange and the far fetched.  Even those of us who, should we be more heterosexual would have to be tied down (those who’ve had the first book of Star Cat Chronicles inflicted on them at workshops KNOW what I mean),  are fascinated with non standard identities, which, by definition, extend to sexual personae and feminine/masculine non-standard distribution.  (And which doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with what the person or character is attracted to.  … In my case, for instance, I’m attracted to mathematicians.  Okay, Mathematician.  I’m deathly monogamous.)

Again, the strangeness is not that she presumes to lecture us to “write fewer standard males and females, ya’ll” which would, at best, cause us to smile and pat her on the head.  No, the true bizarreness which has caused us to do a double take, swallow our tongue and not even know how to answer, is that she seems to think she just discovered this.

(Frankly it is as funny and sad as when my boys – and both hit this at around 14 or 15 would make jokes about some sex act they’d just heard of, all you know, implication and nudge nudge, and get shocked half out of their socks when Dan and I caught it, picked it up and took it to the next level.  The priceless look on each of their faces as they realized that their generation did not IN FACT invent sex, not even particularly dirty sex, will warm the cockles of my heart forever. We only had to do this ONCE, too.  After that the untrained puppies realized there were bigger dogs in the pack.)

That strangeness – I am a science fiction writer – has caused me to wonder if she is an alien.  An alien would, of course, believe what it says on the label about “what males are” and “what females are” and then — realizing the discrepancy with real world people — would agitate for us to have other labels.

It would never occur to the alien that the other labels are there all along, not as prescriptive absolutes, but in the form of realistic characters in novels and movies (and yes, yes, plays — Has this sheltered flower of Academia ever watched Twelfth Night, one wonders?  Never mind. “My father had a daughter loved a man, As it might be, perhaps, were I a woman, I should your lordship.”…… “I am all the daughters of my father’s house, And all the brothers too: and yet I know not.”)

The thing is that she IS an alien, you know?

The system in which she’s been raised, the authorities she respects, the people who have informed her precarious culture all have told her that we live in a world of binary choices, that capitalism is essentially about making you fit in a mold (Darling, they sold you a bill of goods.  It’s the top down systems that do this.  Think about China, or for that matter Russia.  Out here, in businessman’s land, we don’t care what you think you are.  If you think you’re a fish, we’ll sell you the gills to cosplay.) And that she needs to speak truth to power (Darling, child, oh, sweet innocent one, to find out if you really are speaking (unpleasant) truth to power observe what gets rewarded.  Note that no one has ever gone broke praising Marxism, and think carefully about who “the man” in power really is) against this oppressive system, that exists ONLY in her mentor’s mind.

She’s a good girl.  She’s trying hard to obey the precepts she was taught and the voices in her TV from all the “opinion makers.”  She’s trying to be the voice of the voiceless.  She’s trying to carry aloft the banner against capitalist repression (Darling, we’ll sell you a better banner.  At half price.) She’s trying to give back to the community that exists only in her own mind.

She has no idea why all these evil Haters McHateys came out to yell at her, because she’s only doing what she was taught to make the world a better place.

The world is full of these injustices.  And since the information/entertainment complex is no longer a unified top down voice, we’re going to see a lot more of these moments, these bizarre public confrontations.

You see, until about five years ago, we who laughed behind our hands at this exquisite divorce from reality, would have stayed quiet.  Had to.  Our only hope of publication once we were out politically was Baen and nothing outside it, and we had meals to buy and baby needed shoes.  Now?

Ah!  Outside Baen I wouldn’t CONSENT to work with one of the publishing houses.  I don’t trust them.  They’re aliens.  And not friendly aliens.  And I never hankered for awards beyond the one I won (Prometheus) and I couldn’t be bothered with the accolades of the alien system.

All I ever hoped for out of writing was to make a living, and that’s happening more and more with a lot of work (but I never expected not to work, either.)

They have nothing I want.  They certainly have nothing I need.  And I’m not alone.

To make things worse, for all these years, they’ve been able to go off more and more on their insanity, drinking their own ink (Darling, that’s unhealthy!) and spinning more and more out of contact with reality till to be a “real radical” you had to say completely insane things and demand that everyone follow them. (“PIV is unnatural, because first time hurts!  “PIV” is totally a thing, because I can’t say heterosexual sex, because that would be like hatey mchatey and stuff! Women have mental communication with plants! My head is made of cabbage and I mainlined an entire DVD of Avatar!”)  And we didn’t say anything, because we wanted to eat.

Then suddenly… suddenly it’s all changed, and when they say what is – I want you to understand this – in their circles completely unexceptionable and sensible, the world explodes around them.

They have no explanation for it.  They try to mau-mau those double-plus-ungood thinkers (it works in colleges still!) and call us names, and we laugh in their faces.

We’re seeing that happen more and more.  And it will only accelerate as the preference cascade unrolls.  You can only keep a completely unrealistic system of beliefs in place if you can make sure no one publicly laughs at it.  Not just that most people don’t laugh at it, but that no one laughs at it.  Because once someone shows up laughing at it in public, other would-be-mockers know they’re not alone.  More coherent systems than this and older and more dignified too, have fallen to the pointing finger and the horse laugh.

The Media is hitting the same wall – their attempts to talk up the Summer of Recovery 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and… what is it now? Six? – fall on their faces.  The only power they retain is the power to demonize and I’m going to go out on a limb and say even that will fail them before the end of this year. Because once you see it’s only a painted devil, you’re not afraid anymore.

And then?  And then they run around in circles, confused about why it’s not working.  They pressed the button.  Why didn’t the lever fall?  The racist/sexist capitalists aren’t crying in shame?  Why not?  Dang it.  Is this thing broken?

Hello, hello?  Who is out there?

If any writer had ever written about non standard gender/sexual personae before the mid-eighties, which OF COURSE never happened, we could even quote him to echo their disconsolate and confused cries.  They know who they are, with their little clique, out there in the dark – but who are all you zombies? 😉

365 thoughts on “We Played The Pipe For You, And You Did Not Dance

  1. When speaking truth to power, first make sure you have a handle on some actual Truth.

    That step seems to get missed a lot.

    Retail drones who say “Sir” to everyone have probably been beaten over the head about how sexist “Ma’am” is, and so use Sir for everyone, which is especially funny since the ones who beat them over the heads about the sexism of Ma’am are the same ones who think the gender neutral use of male pronouns is also sexist.

    I love reading Larry on this subject. He’s so “unsnivelized.”

    1. The other problem with “Speaking Truth To Power” is that they often have more power than those they are talking at.

      1. Problem? It is a necessary survival tactic. You don’t want to speak truth to actual power. Martyrdom isn’t fun.

        1. Well, it’s pretty much OK to do so when the adults are in charge, in this country, but right now there are too many children who will throw tantrums and have you censured (in one form or another).

    2. Oh, no. These weren’t retail drones. These are people — one last week — who come up to me somewhere public and looking straight at me go “Excuse me, sir.” And they’re not politically correct types. BUT it’s been happening to me my whole life.
      TRUST ME I don’t look even vaguely masculine!

          1. And now I have my opening, should we ever meet: “Excuse me, sir, can I have your autograph? Pretty please?” 🙂

          2. Once, while working at McDonalds as a 20 year old taking orders in the drive through, called the very rough, 4 pack a day voice on the other end of the line sir and was rewarded with an angry “I’m a woman!” A few cars latter had to deal with the worlds laziest cross dresser. Balding, no wig, lipstick looked like it was applied while drunk, flower print moo-moo, old flip flops. Voice kept switching from a deep middle ages man’s to a forced woman’s falsetto. Guy’s/gal’s wife and teenaged son was in the car with him. Took at least a day to process all of it.

            1. So, is this the kind of non-binary story that Alex was looking for? Admittedly, it isn’t science fiction…but it wouldn’t be /that/ difficult to adapt and put into a sci-fi story…

          3. If I had to guess, it comes down to your personality. You’re projecting the same sort of no-BS attributes and behavioral markers that most only associate with men, so their subconscious is tagging you as “male” on their internal IFF.

            My sister gets the same thing, and I think it’s for the reason I lay out above. Having grown up around it, I don’t really take full stock in those personality/behavioral markers as reliable indicators of actual gender. I’ve been thoroughly conditioned that doing so is quite dangerous to the health; Sis does not like being mistaken for a guy. At all.

          4. Funny? You want Funny? My old (private) High School persists in sending funds requests addressed to “Alumnus & Brigadier General S”. Beloved Spouse loves the feeling of authority such addressing entails but refuses to go work at the Pentagon.

          5. I get this too, and I have assorted signals to highlight my femininity. Such as an hourglass figure. I forgive the Japanese. For them, word use is *actually* genderific, that is, based on what you are doing, rather than who you are. Since I was a security guard, calling me “sir” is perfectly sensible and correct to a Japanese. Weirdly this even happened to me on a train, while I was wearing a vest while traveling in Toronto. I also get it from non-Japanese. I learned mannerisms from my father. Maybe you learned some from your brother?

      1. I have a nice low tenor voice. If I had a nickel for everyone who ever called me “sir”, I’d have retired long since. Even when they meet me in person, it’s hard to get past the distinctive voice.

        What always irritates me are the people who insist on arguing with me.

        “Hi, I’m Karen.”
        “Yes, sir, how can I help you, Kevin?”
        “No, I’m a girl. Karen.”
        “Sorry, sir, did you say your name was John?”
        “FEMALE. Karen.”
        “I’m sorry, sir, we don’t allow false identities here in customer service.” CLICK.

        1. I used to get people thinking I’m a woman (still do sometimes), especially on the phone. I usually just let them think that. Then again, “Ori” can go both ways in Hebrew.

        2. On behalf of all call center people everywhere, I would like to plead that phone fidelity is not high these days, call center phones and headphone speakers can be in very bad shape, and that we often can barely hear people at all, much less the subtle clues of feminine timbre versus a relatively low range.

          That said, I hope anybody who has done that to you gets a nasty talking-to by their supervisors.

          1. MCI-Worldcom had excellent earphones and audio quality. And they held us to a much, much higher standard than any customer service I have had to deal with since the MCI collapse.

        3. I worked with a guy whose voice always got him tagged as a woman, and eventually took to disguising his voice when doing support calls, but I’ve only known one woman to be consistently mistaken for a man, and there was reason – not only did she have breasts so small she would have to wear padding to notice them, but she had a low and somewhat harsh-sounding voice. She also got peeved when it happened.

          Unfortunately, my wife has started getting mistaken for a man, due to her sparse hair, the face she sadly inherited from her mother, and the loss of cleavage from her breast cancer surgery. She’s not happy about it, either.

        4. I sing tenor in choirs, and so long as the line doesn’t go unison with soprano, I can generally sing alto as well; thus, I have been called “ma’am” more than once. (It probably doesn’t help that I have a weird name, but at the same time, I don’t think “Alpheus” is all that…feminine…)

          Perhaps the funniest mix-up was when I was getting life insurance; with regards to a medical issue, the person said “As a doctor, you would most certainly know about this [I forget what issue it was]….” I wanted to say that, yes, I know about that issue, but not because I’m a doctor. Mathematical theorems, as a general rule, don’t need all that much medical attention (although wrestling with a particularly stubborn proof /can/ result in the mathematician in question needing medical help…)

      2. I will confess that I’ve said “…. sir” to females but its not my confusion as to their gender. Its that I’m in the habit of tacking on “sir” to non-friends in conversation and sometimes the part of the speech center in charge of modifying that honorific to “ma’am” is on a smoke break outside when it should be on the job.

                1. With the appropriate inflections, one can turn an honorific like “Sir” into the coldest of insults. Which is a skill you soon pick up upon becoming a senior Non-Commissioned Officer, and which you understudy as a lowly enlisted ranker. Work the word juuuuuust right, and you can stop a young Lieutenant on his way towards committing an act of gross idiocy dead in his tracks.

                  It’s sort of akin to your mom using your full name on you. You know you done f**ked up, when she does that, and when the theoretically subordinate senior NCO uses your full rank and name to draw your attention, you’d best be paying attention.

                  The other marker? Using “Sir” as punctuation, with appropriate tonal inflection.

                  I remember several conversations with tone-deaf and dumb-as-posts junior officers that consisted almost entirely of two words “Sir” and variations on the vulgar English for the act of coitus. Sometimes they were smart enough to pay attention, and sometimes they weren’t.

                  This is all of a piece with the old phrase “White Mutiny”, where you obstruct the idiocy by steadfastly following orders to the very letter. For varying values, also see “Irish Democracy”, and various other forms of passive resistance to authoritarian moronicism.

                    1. The compass and maps are harmless. They serve to give the young officer something to do with his hands, and carry around.

                      What’s deadliest is that whole “plan” thing…

                      And, I don’t know what’s worse: One they came up with on their own, or one that they “…heard about…” from one of their peers. Put two or three young Lieutenants together without supervision, and you’ll occasionally get genius. More often, it’s going to be something that leaves you alternating between high mad laughter and manful sobs, years down the road.

                    2. “The compass and maps are harmless. They serve to give the young officer something to do with his hands, and carry around.

                      What’s deadliest is that whole “plan” thing…”

                      You beat me to it. There are few statements more dreaded to be heard from a wet-behind-the-ears anything than, “I have a plan.”

                    3. eager-as-a-puppy second lieutenant with a map, a compass, and a *plan*.

                      Apparently, even in the Aussie army, they get those. And worse, they often don’t notice the snake riiiiight in front of the path, Rhys tells me. Too busy trying to ‘orient’ themselves with map, compass or both.

                    4. I cannot attest to this; the signal units I served with never let officers near the troops unless they were first lieutenants or higher…

                      (Wait a minute…)

                  1. This is reminding me, unpleasantly, of my own wet-behind-the-ears experience as a young doctoral candidate at Palomar. The relationship between the doctoral students and the night assistants running the telescopes sounds unpleasantly like that between a very junior officer and an experienced NCO.

                    Not that I didn’t deserve it. No, I’m not going into details.

                2. See e.g. Richard Marcinko: “I will salute his ass if I am in his presence, because the office, if not the man, has my respect. When I salute, and I say “Aye-Aye, sir” to this commander in chief, I’m spelling sir C-U-R.”

                  Or from Starship Troopers: “”Yes, sir.”
                  “Don’t call me ‘sir.’ I call you ‘sir.’ But you won’t like it.”

                  ” Don’t call me Sir, I work for a living.”
                  G.I. Jane and Scent of a Woman and everything else on TV tropes.

                  1. My favorite when I was the receptionist to a number of female caseworkers who tended to call me “Sir”: “No, no, I call you Sir.

                  2. Oooooh. Is that why people weren’t sure how to react when I’d go ‘yes sir’ or ‘no ma’am’? Filipino has a gender-neutral honorific (po, usually translated to ‘sir/ma’am’) and was one of the habits I did end up picking up. It translated across to refering to one’s teachers as ‘sir/ma’am’, or anyone who’s your boss, or anyone older, because it’s part of polite speech.

                    (Hint: that’s how you know when you’re probably talking to a Filipino call center person. Might not be constant though.)

                    1. Thank you! I learned something new today!

                      I knew Japanese had several layers of honorifics, but I had no idea the Filipino was gender-neutral. That’s pretty cool. 🙂

          1. Or, the poor bastard is operating on auto-pilot. I’ve been out seven years, and it’s still “Sir” and “Ma’am”, as appropriate. Civilians or those of indeterminate status were always treated as though they were the highest of ranks, and got all the honorifics we could stick in. Woe be unto they who forgot their place, as well–I had a very instructive session as a young troop watching the Sergeant Major grass-drill two of my peers who’d been so bold as to address the Colonel’s secretary by her first name.

            There were two options: “Miss Kinkade”, or “Ma’am”, you see. “Peggy” wasn’t one of them, even if that was on her nameplate.

            If I remember rightly, the pain went on for most of an afternoon, in the full heat of an Oklahoma summer, and drew quite an audience. The Sergeant Major was new, you see, and I think he took the opportunity to let the unit know who they were dealing with. We drew the appropriate lesson, and I don’t recall anyone having the testicular fortitude to try dating Miss Kinkade the entire time she worked there.

            Now, my roommate, on the other hand? He was dumb enough to let himself get picked up by the 15 year-old daughter of the Sergeant Major’s youthful follies, and then get caught in the act on the living room floor when step-mom and dad came home unexpectedly. Interesting story, that one…

            Ay, caramba–The stupidities of youth. Thank God I had the great good fortune to be able to learn from others mistakes.

              1. Those who enter later in life will always have a different perspective from we who went in young enough to have most of our formative experiences while in uniform. It’s always a bit odd to run into someone like that on active duty, because the age range they display is always older than the rank they “should” be wearing.

                At least, usually. Sometimes that maturity translates into a far more rapid rise up the rank structure than is generally managed.

                My favorite case was a guy I worked with as an E4. He was a fully qualified, completely matriculated PhD who’d burned out on academia after turning in his final thesis, and who dropped out of the game to join the Army and drive bulldozers. You want to watch cognitive dissonance personified? Try observing someone like that interact with a junior officer.

                The capper was having a new Captain show up who’d had this guy as a TA, and who was still scared spitless of him. I don’t know why, either–I guess SPC O’Brien presented a lot differently than Mr. O’Brien did. Having a Captain constantly forget himself and call him “Mister” was amusing, especially when it happened in front of the field grades, who’d heretofore had no idea O’Brien had a damn doctorate. That was an interesting morning at Motor Stables, let me tell you.

                1. Well – I was in the CT field (electronics maintenance–) so we had a lot of people there who were in the very intelligent up to the almost genius level. It was odd all the time– I went up the ranks pretty fast, but because I was good at training, I ended up training E-6s and E-7s. 😉 Plus there was a cog dis with some of these guys (usually guys) with my age, intelligence, and gender.

      3. For what it’s worth, Sarah, I have been called “ma’am” on more than one occasion, though with me it’s at least *marginally* more comprehensible — I’m shorter than average, slightly built, have fairly thick blond hair, small hands and long eyelashes; even my beard stubble needs a serious few days’ growth before it’s visible. Nonetheless, it’s always fun when this happens to turn around and answer, in my deepest baritone, “I *beg* your pardon?”

    3. When speaking truth to power, first make sure you have a handle on some actual Truth.

      Sub point: just because you piss someone off doesn’t mean that you’re speaking truth to power. People do get annoyed at nasty accusations.

      1. Those who would speak Truth to Power should stop promoting a philosophy that denies the existence of Truth.

        There is your Truth, there is MY Truth, and there is my power. Silly gits confuse restraint for weakness and being gob-smacked at somebody’s vapidity for awe.

          1. Mmmm Baby Ruth, truth! Preferably squishy truth from sitting in the car for a couple of hours … mmmmmm …

          1. You know what I ‘love’* about that mindbending feminist assertation? “Male = rational, women = irrational.” And that they should be PROUD of the irrationality. And if it’s something being attributed to gays, isn’t that like saying ‘all queers are out of their minds’? Point it out, and you’re part of the patriarchial heteronormative brainwashing conspiracy, or McHateyHater.

            (Picard and Riker Facepalm Picture Here)

            * ‘love’ = “…are you listening to yourself talk and do you not realize what you’re saying?” *stare* *not sure if serious or trolling* *omg, s/he is serious.*

      2. The problem I’ve observed with real speaking of truth to power, is power typically responds to it by coming down on one like an ever loving tonn of bricks.

          1. You mean that not playing dumb is dumb? Is that some kind of zen koan?

            Seriously, it may be short term dumb. But long term, you get much further if you don’t train yourself to be quiet and just go along with stupidity.

  2. It’d be especially fun to point out to them that Heinlein wrote “All You Zombies” in 1958, and it was published in 1959 in the mainstream (for sci-fi folks) magazine Science Fiction and Fantasy. After being rejected by Playboy, no less.

  3. If the book you were trying to remember was Looking for the Mahdi, the author was L. Nee Wood.

  4. I’ve been working in my WiP universe since 1999. I was awarded the status of Honorary Lesbian by Xena fans (of all things!) for my work. My current novel has,as characters, 10 Men, 5 Gods, 1 Elf, and 5 Trolls as speaking characters. And the Trolls are not even sexually dimorphic. (They are dimorphic, it’s just not sexually based.) My MC is hetero in practice, but in theory considers herself “yes-sexual”. And is always getting into clinches with girls. But I proudly wear the label cismale hetero gendernormative chauvinist pig or however that goes.

      1. As I understand it, nobody has the right to tell you you’re not a lesbian…

        Or so went the rant of some precious snowflake as she and xi (her pronoun, not mine) had the misfortune of having to hear a harassed mother of two boys tell her 8 year old he couldn’t be a lesbian because lesbians were girls. In McD’s. How DARE she!

        That stories out there in the wilds o’ the internet, somewhere, but I lack the wherewithal to go searching at the moment.

        1. Ahem. “That story’s out there…”

          Attempting conversational contractions without keeping a watch on my auto-correct brain. Silly me.

  5. “The priceless look on each of their faces as they realized …”
    Ah, yes! The innocence, the naivete.

    I overheard my youngest daughter and her girlfriend of the time talking in hushed tones about some movie they were thinking of seeing – so risque! so avant-garde!
    So I suggested they take a squirt gun and a flash light or lighter for the appropriate scenes. They didn’t understand why, so I explained it to them. They both developed a dawning horror of realization on their faces.

    Daughter: Dad – – – you’ve SEEN Rocky Horror Picture Show?!?
    Me: And the Traipsing trans-sexual transvestite from Transylvania? Decades ago.

    I’ve never seen teenage girls eyes get so wide, as they both realized that adults – PARENTS! – had a life entirely unknown to them. Hilarious!

    1. You would think they would have figured out that people with children must have undertaken certain activities…

      1. NO! That is the one thing that must not be considered! In the abstract, sure, it had to have happened, but thinking about your parents going at it is verbotten to the teenage mind. Hell, my sister-in-law used to react in a rather hilariously teenage fashion whenever my dad would bring up the subject of him and mom well into her late 20s or 30s. Actually, both SiLs did until they realized that dad would keep bringing it up to get a reaction of them.

        1. Picture the wide-eyed, shaking teenage outrage here. “MOM. DAD. As far as we’re concerned, I’M still a virgin, AND SO ARE YOU.”

          Still makes me giggle to this day.

          1. Yeah, I encountered that attitude in college a lot. Which was weird to me, as my room had shared a wall with my parents growing up. Perhaps that and copious amounts of scifi had inured me to the fact of sex. Or maybe I was born old. Hard to tell.

        2. Understanding that your parents had to have sex in order to produce you STILL does not excuse my mother talking about their (current, mind you) sex life in her seventies. *Shudder*

            1. Definitely can be Too Much Information (TMI), but it’s still fun to shake up the daughters and the granddaughter who sometimes think we’re over the hill and that they invented sex.

          1. Reversing that, I was talking with my almost-19yo-son and used the phrase “cismale heteronormative” in a serious way and he whipped his head around and said in a somewhat panicked tone “I can’t believe I heard those words come out of your mouth. Stop talking now, please just stop talking!” Literally laughed out loud at that 🙂

            1. used the phrase “cismale heteronormative” in a serious way

              There’s a serious way to use it? I’ve tried to read up what the phrase actually means and my brain always just says “overly complicated and pretentious way to say ‘normal guy.’ ”

              And your son. I giggled. As much as I’d like to have the kiddlywinks stay small cute and cuddly, there’s a part of me that’s looking forward to being the annoying parent when they’re teenagers.

              1. Overly complicated and pretentious is the default for some people. They’re *trying* to sound smart . . .

                  1. I was chewing on the idea this afternoon, and I realized something: ‘Normal’ is insulting, and ‘abnormal’ sounds brain-damaged or broken in some way, so they come up with these terms to make ‘normal’ be even more insulting and condescending, and make up words and new little boxes to put themselves into so they can Be Special.

                    They… don’t even realize how pathetic it is to make themselves ‘special’ via their mental equivalent of ‘Magical Gay + Minority’ because then there’s nothing else to them beyond who they like to mount (and the minority part is just thrown in so they can scream racist on top of homophobic bigot.)

          2. Or the rather memorable, in my case, comment, “Oh, [city where I was moving]? You were conceived there.” No. I did not need to know that.

            1. I’ve long had mixed feelings over whether Margaux Hemingway was mortified over the derivation of her name or simply relieved they weren’t drinking Budweiser (or Jim Beam, or Johnny Walker or Ron Rico or Pina Coladas or Tequila Sunrises or Laphroaig or …)

            2. er… I did that to younger son when walking past the place where we rented when he was conceived. “See that window there? You were conceived in that room.” “EWWWWW” (Totally worth it!)

    2. Not quite on the same level as that story but years ago, I had a friend who bought a picture frame and left the stock photo in it because it was of a cute surfer dude. She was in high school at the time. A couple years later, I was visiting my 90+ year old grandfather and going through his photo albums from when he was in his 20s. Came across a photo of a cute blonde in flapper dress posing for the camera. Asked him who it was because it didn’t have a label. He got an embarrassed look on his face, (remember he is over 90), and said that was the picture that came with the album. The comparison between the two stories was obvious.

      1. I found my father’s and his brothers’ stash of porn magazines from the 40’s and 50’s in my late teens when visiting uncle’s farm (their childhood home). Pretty tame compared to newer stuff, but illuminating anyway, if not quite in a way I appreciated at the time. 🙂

        1. Many modern youth are incapable of recognizing implied sex, with which the classic Hollywood films were heavily laden. Subtlety is soooo much more intriguing than anatomical exposition, and the looks on their faces when you break down and explain what the entendres doubled for is priceless.

          1. It seems to this walking anachronism that today’s youth are largely incapable of recognizing implied anything. Everything is right out in the open with no subtlety or mystique. The cultural trends of the last [many] decades have left them nearly incapable of understanding the past, where not every thought or concept was paraded with klaxons and flashing lights.

            And you kids get off my lawn!

            1. HGFDimple.wav – Well, I don’t wanta brag. But I’ve still got the dimple. And in the same place.- Cary Grant, His Girl Friday

            2. It seems to this walking anachronism that today’s youth are largely incapable of recognizing implied anything

              Cultural change driven by technological change. When you are constantly bombarded with messages, there isn’t time to recognize subtlety. When your audience is constantly bombarded with messages, you know there is no point in being subtle.

          2. Subtlety is soooo much more intriguing than anatomical exposition,

            Oh yes. I wanted to know if there was some kind of manual out there somewhere for the language used for folding fans and similar things. How one held one’s fan to flirt or communicate? Intriguing indeed!

            1. Somebody else asked that question on here a while back, but I don’t recall if they got an affirmative answer from anyone or not.

              1. IIRC there was, and someone had a link, but I can’t recall it just off hand. And my ‘net is very slow this AM.

                Hey you snowed in kids, get off my interwebz!

    3. Heh. Considering what lots of 60’s and 70’s movies aimed at the general public are like when it comes to sex, compared to what can be done now, you’d think they might figure out at least that their parents have already at least seen lots of ‘dirty’ movies, even if they refuse to consider what those parents might have done in practice.

  6. Some folks believe that you should never let facts get in the way of a good narrative. Over at Larry’s blog, we’re STILL dealing with a guy who completely ignores that good old Alex was saying she wanted to END “binary gender” as a default, but seems inclined to call US “elitists” and accuse us of wanting censorship.

    I didn’t think anyone could survive after ingesting that much drain cleaner, but apparently it’s possible.

    1. For years my problem was finding enough of sf and fantasy novels which had those old fashioned fully and unashamedly cismale and gendernormative heroes I liked – especially if you add ‘mostly undamaged’. Those had been the heroes in those stories which had made me fall in love with reading in the first place, but for a while there they were in somewhat short supply (at least where I live, at that time before online ordering when we here were fully depending on the tastes of whoever filled the few meters of bookshelves reserved for those genres in the few bookstores which even sold the stuff, far too many of those buyers seemed to be of the ‘let’s educate them’ school). So for a while it seemed that while it was possible to find stories with rather macho main characters it was almost impossible to find ones where those macho guys would have been presented as healthy types, they all seemed to be some sort of mentally badly damaged antiheroes who had to be dragged or trapped into helping whoever they perhaps ended helping.

      There are way more to be found now, but if I could decide I’d want still more of them. Especially the good guy types. So I can’t stay I’m at all fond of the idea of ‘Ending binary gender’ as default. Variety is fine, but I like that ‘default’. Can I start complaining of her trying to suppress and marginalize people like me?

      1. Not really. It happened over at Larry Correia’s blog, and sure enough part of the Leftie Brigade was soon on hand to tell us how wrong we were.

        Honestly, I suspect this will continue as well.

        To be fair, there should, from time to time, be characters that don’t fit into the normal male/female roles. Those people do exist, so there needs to be some representation. However, old Alex over at Tor wanted to end the default, which is the default for a reason…it’s because it’s the most common way to find things in the real world.

        No amount of hand wringing will change that, no matter how hard some people try.

        1. There will be enough odd characters just normally — well, at least there are for me. (Taps fingers) Probably over-represented, really. (Oh, shut up ya’ll.)

          1. True.

            Unfortunately, that’s not really enough for good old Alex based on her last post. If she keeps muddling through like this week, then so much the better.

            Of course, if she’s going to be the gatekeeper for SFF, then maybe I should start writing thrillers instead :/

              1. Ya know, there’s a story I left out of the last collection because it will terribly offend the wymynists, even if it is partly parody. Hmmmm. Maybe I should dig it back out and see what I can do.

                  1. Whole word. They don’t understand a lot of the words (can’t sound them out) but that’s okay because they superimpose their own interpretation. It’s THEIR truth. Are you going to dispute it? SEXIST!

              2. Post-apocalyptic sci-fi where there’s barely any humans left and thus non-reproductive sexual orientations are seen as a threat to the continuance of the species?

                =3 Or just write entertaining stories and we don’t worry about messages and focus on the tale? She seemed to protest overmuch over that as much as the whole ‘binary gender’ thing.

                  1. You guess? Given that the entire screed was based on their sexuality, how dare you give the characters ANY MORE TRAITS THAN THEIR LOVE FOR ANAL SEX? For shame! Don’t you know that gays aren’t supposed to have more than just their gayness to simply be?!

                    I’m also going to guess that not focusing on magical sexual-orientation navel gazing would have gone on the list somewhere there for ‘why Mrs. Hoyt’s Gay Characters Are Not Good Enough Ever And Do Not Count.’


                    …just in case anyone misinterprets: I don’t believe gay people should be reduced to just their sexual preference, but a lot of them sure act like they don’t want to be treated like human beings. If I ever wrote a gay character, their sexual preference is likely to be a very background trait, because I tend to look at characters as whole people, not a walking set of fictional genitals.

          2. Under the current circumstances, doesn’t it seem that cismale and gendernormative heroes — not to mention Campbellian “competent men” — are transgressive?

  7. …The priceless look on each of their faces as they realized that their generation did not IN FACT invent sex, not even particularly dirty sex, will warm the cockles of my heart forever. We only had to do this ONCE, too. After that the untrained puppies realized there were bigger dogs in the pack.

    My sibs and I were rather odd fish on that one. We had access to encyclopedias that we tended to enjoy reading. Sex was something that needed to happen between Mommies and Daddies in order to make babies, so the technical details was something we were aware of (egg+sperm = youngest brother!) The non-technical ‘fun stuff’ we got reading knowledge of later on, around mental puberty (12+ and not biological puberty), because that was when it was appropriate for us to know. Interestingly enough I think it’s the biological knowledge that has my brothers having children very late (plus a sense of financial responsibility…)

    Still, looking back, I think my parents ultimately got off easy on the whole giving us the talk thing.

    1. Birds and bees nothing. If you’re a hardcore horse, dog, or cat fan enough to get reference works including breeding material, you get a quick course with pictures and horrifying accounts of What Can Go Wrong. (And farm kids probably know some of that from experience.)

      (Sidebar: Even giving allowance for anthromorphization, I’ve found that a lot of my fellow bronies are not really able to picture horse anatomy and how it works, much less the sociological implications. This isn’t everybody, but it’s basically most of the guys unless they like research. It’s like they’ve never actually had any pets or something. They’re so sheltered.)

      But of course, if your mom was ever shopping in the maternity department during childhood, you probably picked up a ton about pregnancy and nursing before you actually knew the mechanics of how babies got there, and you already had a fair idea that Things Could Go Wrong. (One of the local department stores used to stock a little free maternity magazine, which I readwith great fascination as a little kid.)

      Kids today are so sheltered.

      1. The way my parents tell it, I came down to breakfast, at the age of two or three, and asked them if, to make me, they had to (insert encyclopedia description of sex and fertilization). Response was “Yes, but that’s something you do only with someone you love very much.”
        Me at 3: Okay. *has breakfast*

        Had a younger sibling who was stillborn, and my parents used to mention his name now and again, and one day had to explain the circumstances of his passing. My parents got a nifty 3-D popup book called The Facts of Life for when they were expecting the youngest boy, so they could point at about what stage of development the baby was. That was kind of fun.

      2. Ah, farms. My uncle’s gelding, me playing with my toys nearby (I was maybe six, before I had started school anyway), and then staring at that funny, very big and kind of sausage looking thing which is suddenly hanging beneath his stomach. Well, farm, plus Finland and sauna, meaning I had seen my father naked and knew that guys had those, but I hadn’t really figured that horse was also a guy because theirs is usually not in full sight. I also did know what was needed to get kittens because there were unfixed cats there, even if I was still a bit unclear as to specifics, apart from the fact that one cat got in top of another and they tended to be quite noisy around that time.

        What that did lead to was my aunt trying to explain to me what a ‘gelding’ was, including a visual comparison to a tomcat. If I remember right I did get that it meant that the horse was missing those parts and it meant it would never be a father, although why one would lead to other remained a mystery at that time. 😀

    2. Oh, NOT the technical details. They knew that. The exotica, like, yep, some people like really weird things.
      They were SURE their generation had invented that.
      Actually, we realized yesterday we never told them about sex, and asked them — 22 and 19 — if they wanted the talk. We got a dirty look and “you had biology books all over the house mom.” Which is good because the talk completely never happened. Don’t know how. We must have been busy.

      1. On reflection, by the time my parents decided to actually talk to us about sex, it was to make sure we knew how to avoid STDs and pregnancy. The STDs part ensured that we were nowhere near as promiscuous as our peers and the pregnancy part… well, I never will choose abortion for convenience, and I make very cute kids.

      2. *chuckles* I still laugh about “the sex talk” that happened to us wee ones at the tender age of… seventeen.

        “Son, we need to talk.”
        “Bout what, Dad?”
        “Well, uh, the, uh, *mumble mumble* bees.”
        *puts down physics textbook (explosives!)*
        “Sure Dad, what do you want to know?”
        *dumbfounded look*

        On a related note, Uncle was a Army field medic. He got one of those texts from the Navy guys once and kept it for his kids, shared it with us. It had pictures. Very detailed descriptions. He also had stories to tell that went with said pictures and descriptions.

        I don’t think any of us had a problem insisting on safe practices. *grin* Come to think of it, we never did let on to our folks just how we came to such an encyclopedic knowledge of multisyllabic latin sounding words that pretty much end in “eeeww!” regardless of how they are spelled.

        1. A health book my parents kept hidden, but of course I found it rather early (no idea if that was on purpose, or not). Lots of pictures. With lots of pictures of diseased people. At that point where said diseases were far advanced. Including close up photos of what STDs can cause.

          Come to think of, I think I also got the technical details of what happens in sex from that book. Which makes me suspect I may have found it on purpose. It really was not all that well hidden. That meant that they never had to give me the talk.

      3. There’s an Event in the Pascoe Family Lore related to this. When I was a wee lad of about five or so, one Friday evening my mother told me there was a thing for me to watch they’d recorded on the VHS on top of the television. As was my wont, I was up at about 0600, and they stumbled into the living room an hour or so later on the closing credits for the Miracle of Life. I looked up and said something along the lines of, “did you know a man produces over a billion sperm in his lifetime? Wow.” I recall my mother looking horrified. My father, ever sanguine in the face of potential familial disaster, simply asked me if I had any questions. As the mechanics were now clear, I said I didn’t.

        1. I think, really, having the info of biology as a kid did more to dampen our enthusiasm (read mindless teenage stage) to ‘experiment’ than it did our peers. Or at least my peers. When I did get a first boyfriend, my mother got me condoms. She did the same with my brother he they got his first serious girlfriend (He came to me to ask how it was put on. Fortunately, we have a few banana trees). In the case of the youngest brother though, they’re still together, and are expressly waiting till marriage, so he avoided the part about being given condoms.

          I think taking a lot of the dirty mystery attraction out of sex did a lot to keep us pretty inactive, as well as make casual hookups a rather undesirable thing. Funny that.

            1. Not sure how this got to be a trope, I guess some people are easily confused. But I read a story where this is actually the clue that the guy is a time traveler, he can’t figure out how to put a condom on and the woman has to show him. Personally I always figured if someone couldn’t figure out where the open end of the condom went, they were going to have much bigger problems figuring out where other stuff went if they ever managed to get it on.

              1. It does depend on your culture and education. For example, Calmer Half knew a public health educator in South Africa who used a broomstick to demonstrate to tribal men how to put on a condom – and one returned, Very Upset that his wife had become pregnant, because he “put it on the broom just like you showed us, and it didn’t work.”

              2. You remind me of a story my dad told me about, but I don’t know the title or author. The Time-traveller in question was nabbed because he would pinch his slacks on the thigh and pull them up when he sat, when the modern fabrics had obviated the need for that particular gesture.

                1. I don’t remember the title or author of the story I mentioned either. And I really should remember the author so I wouldn’t waste my time on other stories by them.

            2. Wayne, you really do not want to have one of my former medics relate to you the stories he had from his work while assigned as an LPN at a military hospital on a base where there was a heavy population of Middle Eastern foreign students. Holy cripes… We had him give a briefing before deployment on the ins and outs of Middle Eastern culture, and by the time he was done with it, several of us were in tears, and the rest had left the room.

              I don’t mean to mock the poor bastards, but there is something inherently and undeniably funny about the whole concept of a young couple going to the medical authorities because they were unable to get pregnant, and having to have the entire process of sex explained to them. They had literally been doing it wrong…

              The pilot, from a Middle Eastern nation which shall remain nameless, had been married to his young wife for about two years, and they had yet to produce a baby. He wrangled a spot at one of the US Air Force schools, and brought his wife over in hopes of getting her fertility treatment. During the screening, conducted by a young female resident with his wife, some interesting things came out, and my informant got called in to explain to the husband just what it was he was supposed to do in order to successfully impregnate his wife.

              Hearing him relate the story would be so much better, because he could make it sound so damn funny. The American female resident came to him, the only male LPN on duty she could order around, and basically told him he needed to go explain the birds and the bees to the pilot, and “to make it good, because that poor girl deserves so much better…”. The way she delivered that instruction in the imperative was hilarious, when he tells the story.

              He never did tell me the gory details of what they’d been doing, but the wife was pregnant within a few months of their little instructional session.

              I wouldn’t have believed that story, but we had one of the cultural briefers confirm it, or at least, another one very similar to it, as having Really Happened.

              I have to reluctantly conclude that sex isn’t quite as simple as we think. Especially for those from a sheltered culture.

            3. uhm… when we did get sex ed in school, we got the biology and social aspects, and talk about contraceptives, but also got repeatedly told, in broad strokes ‘you’re too young, and if you’re dumb enough to do this before marriage don’t be surprised if your life ends up a giant mess.’

              This was during a time when there were no condoms readily available (and if you were going to get them, they were expensive!) so my brother didn’t get the part of the sex ed where they had actual examples, and the drawings were… crude.

              1. I just don’t understand why there needs to be an example. It’s a rolled tube. It only works one way.

                I will say that I’m repeatedly amazed at how dense people can be regarding what seem to me to be the most simple things.

      4. Well, I think I was sixteen or seventeen when my mother finally asked me how much I knew about sex. Besides what i knew from nature books and the occasional pair of animals, we had had a very basic nuts-and-bolts sex ed class in (I think) 9th grade, so I told her, “enough”, and we left it at that.

    3. I’m married to a biologist who specializes in mammalian reproduction systems. So I can tell my kids “ask your mother” with an entirely clear conscience.

        1. It’s like the guitar amp that goes to 11. This goes to three. It’s one better.

          It allows you to give … more.


    1. And if you want to over geek, you can sprint down the rathole and go into great detail about bigendian vs. littleendian…

  8. In an attempt to be as charitable as possible… I think that, perhaps, writing reviews of obscure 80’s science fiction with non-standard gender presentations was all she really ever intended and that the ridiculous insistence that everyone ought to include such in their stories or else they were a bad writer, a bad person, and excluding those already marginalized, and that being more inclusive (writing message stories) would make science fiction hip again was a English dept., flash-back. (And attempt to scold in order for Tor to recover the smug high-ground and calm the restive natives.)

    1. Repeating myself from a dead or dying thread – Agreed there is plenty of “obscure 80′s science fiction with non-standard gender presentations ” just as there are noirish crime stories and horse operas with non-standard gender presentations. The market, as we see it, left the works that put such at the center of the plot and trumpeted it on the covers to die in obscurity.

      Seems to me fans of such regard that as a market failure. The remedy for market failure is then intervention by the powers that – ought to – be – in this case what power is to force their taste in books on the rest of us? – any speculation on success in giving the people what they haven’t wanted in the current state of publishing? – Books that failed in the market place and brought down some bookstores with them (Red and Black in Seattle frex) really ought to be prominently displayed on the racks at the local supermarket – or not.

      And of course done successfully such books with non-standard gender presentations may pass for mainstream – from the thread Admirals and Amazons: Women in Military Science Fiction on yes Tor.com.

      Dear Liz,
      Thank you. I of course accept your apology. (I guess I should say I’m referring to post 121.)
      I think there’s a major difference between now and 1970 in Military SF (and in space opera) in that now gender is an issue. This is the same difference regarding slavery in the US between 1780 and 1830. People (explicitly or not) must take sides.
      When I started writing the Hammer stories in the early ’70s, nobody noticed. Literally. Likewise with my use of gay characters. I think in part that because neither gender nor orientation was an issue in the stories–it just was; but also, people weren’t used to noticing female officers, period.
      Heck, you didn’t.
      Best wishes,
      PS: I used to get lumped in with Jerry Pournelle. More recently it’s been with John Ringo and Dave Weber.
      I’m on friendly terms with all three men, but I’m very different–not least in that I have no ideology whatever.

  9. Excellently done, Sarah. Starts with a quote from the Bible as a title, and ends with one from Heinlein! And does outstanding skewering along the way! WOOOT!!!!

    1. I expected most of the Huns to catch the Heinlein quote, but I wondered how many caught the reference to Matthew 11:17. Of course those she skewered were unlikely to have caught either reference, which makes the skewering even more fun :>)

      1. I didn’t get the Matthew one. I can usually get Bible quotes when they are in Finnish, at least when it’s the somewhat archaic Finnish used in the older translations I’m most familiar with, but I have never read the Bible in English, any version. Maybe I should.

        1. For lovely language, try the Psalms in the King James Version (aka the Authorized Version) or Revised Standard Version as a starter. You may recognize some of the phrases, because they get used in a lot of English literature (or did). Then sample Luke 1-2 and Matthew 1-2 for the Christmas story. I’d hold off on most of the Epistles (Paul’s letters) in the KJV unless you find one with good notes. (‘Course, I’m not a great fan of Paul, so YMMV.) For just read-reading in English, I’ve found the New International Version translation is pretty good.

        2. Folk as diverse as Heinlein (Stranger in a Strange Land) and Spider Robinson (A Voice is Heard in Rama) have used scripture references as titles or in stories. If you are not familiar with those quotes go read them in context, and then read or re-read the stories. I figure all the Huns have read Stranger, but if you have not read Rama read the scripture then run and find the story (it is in one of the Callahan’s Bar collections).

  10. She’s never read All You Zombies, which is the ultimate time travel story? Or even The Marvelous Land of Oz? I was quite young when I read the latter, and the idea of the male protagonist being turned into a girl at the end kind of horrified me.

    1. ISTR that magical items that cause gender swapping were so common an idea as to be listed in the original AD&D Dungeon Master’s Guide, including the possibility that the victim would be rendered completely sexless.

      And yet they never let Phil and Dixie talk about sex and D&D…

      1. I think it was even used in the novels a few times. But I havn’t read any of them since around the first Bush election, so I can’t give titles atm.

        1. One “not so great” fantasy movie had the evil wizard turn one of his minions into a woman in order to trap/kill the hero.

      1. If you believe in the inherent superiority of progress, then things from the far past(1) are obviously inferior and can be safely ignored. Even Marx is best understood through His modern commentators.

        Cancer cells have no need to know how their healthy ancestors functioned.

        (1) Before your College Professors were born

      2. Jack L. Chalker and co (I know I have read similar books by other authors, but Chalker is the only one whose name I remember right now). But presumably their problem is that they are not sensitive enough, just kinky. If she has ever run across any of those, that is.

        1. And yes, to somebody her age Chalker does probably also count as ancient history, and ancient history which she can’t find mentioned in that history she probably reads.

          1. Thanks – I had just been recalling Chalker’s “Flux & Anchor” series which featured, among other things, male heroes converted by the “flux wizards” to not just femmes but to hormonally swamped bimbos — and still persevered.

            For that matter, there was a Piers Anthony series (before he started mining Xanth) which featured a wide variety of possible methods of producing future generations.

            Coincidentally, as I compose this the TV just ran a Gevalia coffee commercial featuring their spokes-stud joining a book club and reducing the lassies therein to mush (although, from the set-up, not much reduction was required.)

            1. Don’t suppose that Piers Anthony series was the Kirlian Saga, or whatever you call that group – Cluster, Chaining the Lady, and I forget the third one’s name?

              Cluster was the book that gave me my own light bulb moment. “Oh! So THAT’S how that (sex) works!”

              1. Pretty sure that is it, yeah. Been a very long time and I can’t recall whether there was anything more to it that “how many different ways can I conceive to propagate species?”

      3. Oh, she might cross that line to review Venus Plus X by Sturgeon in 1960. It’s just the thing for the Left’s mantras.

        From one of the reviews:

        Theodore Sturgeon and Philip Jose Farmer were among the first SF writers to deal with sexuality in an open, adult manner. Sturgeon’s approach was further distinguished by his uncommon awareness of sexual diversity and his passionate belief in the healing power of love. His story, “The World Well Lost” (1953), was the first SF work to present homosexuality sympathetically, and Venus Plus X (1960) was among the earliest SF works to explore and challenge gender-role stereotypes, and surely the first to do so with a vision of a single-sex, androgynous human race. –Cynthia Ward

    2. the idea of the male protagonist being turned into a girl at the end kind of horrified me.

      There was a scene in Belgarath the Sorcerer where Belgarath accidentally turns himself into a female owl. The next paragraph was said sorcerer basically WTFing at how the heck females were able to stay sane with all the extra chemicals in their blood and the extra organs. Needless to say he very quickly went back to human, pulled himself together, and made sure he was forming the right gender owl in his head before shapeshifting again. I liked it. It didn’t try to make women and men completely interchangeable. Then again, Eddings wrote stories that were entirely character and dialogue driven.

  11. You’ve met me, 260 pounds, full facial hair, and I tend towards jeans and flannel shirts. Was in a parking lot once upon a time when I was accosted with a “Ma’am, hey ma’am!” Turns out he was off his meds and looking to bum a lift to the local free clinic. I chatted him up and kept him calm until the nice officers came to furnish taxi service. No arrest, just a more formal conveyance to where he could get the help he needed.

    1. I’ve been called “Sir” by completely sober young people.

      I didn’t correct them, courtesy is so rare these days …

      1. Maybe it’s just easier to say. Especially on the spur of a moment, if somebody wants to use something polite but does not have time to think what.

  12. Well, in the WIP I reject the proud SF tradition of deviance and strike out in a bold new direction of heteronormality. I can’t help it–I’m a trailblazer that way.

    I wonder if there’s any way I could get this young lady to denounce me from the pulpit?

      1. I don’t know, Kali . . . I mean . . . I don’t want to discourage you or anything, but are you sure readers are ready for that kind of thing? That’s pretty edgy, even these days. 😛

    1. Now don’t tell me that! You didn’t? (Psst, any chance there might be anybody who could be described as… kind of a boy scout in it *embarrassed giggling*)

      1. Worse. Eagle Scout

        My biggest difficulty is how to signal this on the cover in a discreet way. You know, so people don’t get embarrassed reading it on the bus.

    1. And Thor dressed as a bride once. And Arjuna (and I think the rest of the heroes of the Mahabarata) had to live as women for years. Seems like there was something involving Thoth I read somewhere, but it was years ago so I may be confused.

      1. Whatever you do (unless you’re a horror writer), never look up the original sources (or their translations) about Attis. If you didn’t just reach for the brain bleach, you haven’t read the original sources. (Even the Alex would reach for the brain bleach.)

                1. The d’Aulaires book of Norse Myths has good illustrations and tells the stories well. They did a series of Greek, Norse, and other myths. There are a few others, but not as well illustrated and compiled.

            1. Actually, Odin’s steed Slepnir, Fenris Wolf, and the Midgaard Serpent (and IIRC as triplets). Of course, Loki was very much the Chaos embodiment for the pantheon.

              1. Triplets, yes. But I don’t think Sleipner was part of the triplets. iirc, Hela is the proper sibling to the Fenris Wolf and Midgaard Serpent.

                1. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loki

                  In Norse mythology, Loki, Loptr, or Hveðrungr is a god or jötunn (or both). Loki is the son of Fárbauti and Laufey, and the brother of Helblindi and Býleistr. By the jötunn Angrboða, Loki is the father of Hel, the wolf Fenrir, and the world serpent Jörmungandr. By his wife Sigyn, Loki is the father of Narfi and/or Nari. By the stallion Svaðilfari, Loki is the mother—giving birth in the form of a mare—to the eight-legged horse Sleipnir. In addition, Loki is referred to as the father of Váli in the Prose Edda.

                  End Quote

          1. It is amazing to me how many of the myths hinge on the Aesir reneging on a bargain, or committing greater crimes to pay off on a loosing bet.

            1. That’s pretty similar in Kalevala. One of the major conflicts in it, the fighting over Sampo, starts when the heroes pretty much do that. They had a deal with the big bad Louhi, and they try to cheat her.

              1. You know one of the earliest “serious” stories I ever read was the story of the Sampo (with the many colored cover) from a schoolbook that my grandmother used to teach from when she graduated from Normal school. That story and the story of Thor and Hymir fishing and catching the Midgard serpent.

            1. I BET you they’re writing slash to that tune… only, it’s not a horse, of course (of course.) I’d search, but then I’d have to carve out my eyes with a grapefruit spoon.

              1. I’m not searching for it, in… EVER… but brony/loki bondage slashfics seems not out of reach given the imaginations out there. (I …discovered that there are live action brony porn videos. No, I did not watch, it was an article about it.)

                There are days, I tell you, I really, really, really, really, really hate what my brain comes up with.

                1. “(I …discovered that there are live action brony porn videos. No, I did not watch, it was an article about it.)”

                  LARPers or animated? Sorry, that is the first thing that popped into my head when reading your comment and I had to share, the brain bleach is right over there.

                2. You fool! Don’t you know one of the rules of the internet is that if you make up a fetish, that instantly creates a website dedicated to it? (And by Ugol’s Law, there will be at least two fans of it).

                  1. I thought of that, and I thought “If I conceived of it, I’m sure someone else who’s already taken it up to 11 has the site, pictures, fanart, cosplay and fics.’ Mind you, that mashup took effort for me to come up with. It’s the Internet. I have faith in it’s ability to come up with strange perversions. My own sexual turnons are hilariously vanilla. Boring even. So most of the time, I’ll just tilt my head, and blink.

                3. Considering the brilliance of Tom Hiddleston’s performance in the Thor and Avengers flicks, as well as certain other aspects of his realization of the character, I think such slashfic inevitable.

                  OTOH, imagining Chris Hemsworth’s slightly dim character in bridal array is … amusing.

                    1. Yes. I follow it for the story and whee, gorgeous drawings. I’m quite fond of how he draws the quirky lips and bitten lower lip. Interestingly enough, the two don’t strike me as the typical lesbian couple, but more bisexuals who got together because they fulfilled each other’s sexual needs, then found there’s more that they like about each other than just that. Neatly, there’s a lot of conflict about the ‘relationship upgrade’ part, which makes sense given how their relationship started to begin with.

                      What I wouldn’t give to be able to draw as quickly and as well as he does. Oh well, hopefully someday I’ll be able to put in the necessary practice time.

                4. Red light district, Amsterdam, and one of the few book/video stores I’ve ever wished I hadn’t walked into. They had whole sections devoted to various animal fetishes and caring for your “partner”…. The crowning glory was a floor display in honor of “National Sheep Week”…… Eeewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                  1. I know I’m going to regret this, but didn’t you mean Eeewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwweeee!!!!!!!!!!!!! ?

                    On Thu, Feb 6, 2014 at 7:09 PM, According To Hoyt wrote:

                    > snelson134 commented: “Red light district, Amsterdam, and one of the > few book/video stores I’ve ever wished I hadn’t walked into. They had whole > sections devoted to various animal fetishes and caring for your > “partner”…. The crowning glory was a floor display in honor of “Nat” >

                    1. Ordinarily I would put here a link to the Gene Wilder sequence from Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask.), but not tonight as I have a headache.

                  2. There is much to admire about Amsterdam but when I visit, around day four I get a strong urge to nuke the entire city. Just for hygenic purposes.

                5. This reminds me of a webcomic I remember seeing recently. It involved two women were talking about “Equestria Girls”; one was lamenting that it was a bad idea: now that the ponies were humans in a school setting, people will make porn involving them. The response was that limiting the characters to ponies hasn’t stopped people from making porn involving the characters.

      2. You know the part that got me about the whole Thor dressed as a bride story? “How blind did the groom have to be?” Unless I guess he liked his women to look totally buff.

        I’m not sure I’d like to find out exactly how a pregnant Loki gave birth.

        1. Well, we are talking Norse women. 😉 More likely, don’t you think that groom thought twice before commenting on the bride’s figure — and then think twice again!

          As for Loki, like all good actors he truly committed to the role.

        2. Well, he could obviously change shape, so either he remained in mare form or he became a goddess until he have birth. Or it’s just one of those things you’re not supposed to examine too closely:-).

        3. Well, the groom was Jotun and the options seem to have ranged from magnificent beauty to magnificent ugliness, with occasional cases of having several heads.

          Granted, so was Thor’s mother (probably) and grandmother on the other side, and there are stories where he may explicitly change size halfway through, so he probably wasn’t coming off as a delicate flower either, but the goddess he was standing in for was not only love and beauty but war.

          (Probably. *g* One of our best prose sources regarding the Norse pantheon is a summary that explicitly notes that under various circumstances poets may refer to various gods and goddesses by each other’s names, on top of all the other ways the poems might as well be in code.)

    2. I have a vague recollection that the Pharoahs may have engaged in ritual cross-dressing. And among the eucomiums for at least one Phaoroah was that his breasts were continually overflowing with milk.

  13. I have been called “Ma’am” and “Sir” –considering that I have always had a “fine” figure and long hair, I don’t understand that one at all. As for being girly, I wasn’t. My dad took the toy cars away from me because they were for the boys. Dolls were boring– (especially when I already took care of the real thing) although I still like stuffed animals. Plus I still don’t get the fascination with shoes. I realized late in life that my feet are long and wide — I couldn’t find shoes that fit. Nowadays I wear men shoes for the width. lol My mother had a 6 double aught foot size– yep tiny.

    To add more– my sisters were embarrassed to be seen with me. I wasn’t girly enough– and when I left home I have been propositioned by both males and females even though I am heterosexual. So I have found the sexual world a very weird place.

    1. Find a store that services the transvestite market when/if you need something more dressy. They’ll have your size.

  14. OK – several points –

    I think the point you make about our response coming from a place of “What do you mean we need “more”? – there’s TONS of that out there… is pretty much on the mark. IIRC “All You Zombies” was the time traveler who was his own father and mother, right? And Jack Chalker? Read at least two series and several other standalone books – body and gender transformations were the norm.

    And of course, those are hardly the only examples.

    I’m not sure if it was entertaining or sad to see all the follow on commenters who could not tell the difference between “don’t write those kinds of characters” and “don’t make shoving those characters in more important than the story” (Am I the only one who absolutely loves the character “Token Black” in South Park??)

    Kids and “they got there first” – Not related to sex, but was watching son and friends play one of the “Tony hawk” skater video games, and started commenting on all the punk band music clips. One of the kids asks me how I was familiar with all of them, and my reply was “dude, some of these bands are older than you are…”

    1. I don’t have any problems writing those characters. All my characters are odd and some will be sexually odd — duh — but I don’t think it should be mandatory or default, simply because there are other stories to tell. Also, honestly “who is she to be the boss of me?”

      1. She’s a blogger on Tor.com, that’s who! She has All the Right (Left?) Views and you must respect her authority!

    2. Thank you for the Jack Chalker reminder. He was one of those writers I devoured in my teens and twenties, then somehow forgot about. I feel a surge of re-reading about to start.

      1. I met him a Philcon once. I showed him a copy of my ‘zine, and he walked off with it. Still, I remember reading at least five of the Well of Souls books.

        1. I met him at a pre-con party once back when I was in high school. He kind of brushed me off. The next day, though, Hal Clement spent 20 minutes having a milkshake and talking with me, though, so it was all good.

  15. Throughout my reading of the various postings non-binary normative genderism postings I kept thinking there was a science fiction book from 1981 that she had overlooked. A nice little mystery and science fiction of a 3-gendered alien species called the Lamvin, that are moving towards a philosophical understanding of gender equality, rationalism and non-violence. It is called Their Majesties’ Bucketeers, and the fact that it was written by L. Neil Smith as a screed on Libertarianism and has all those nasty guns in it would probably make her grind her gears in frustration and fury.

              1. I’m curious – a bit – about Ocean. The premise seems … I want to know if it’s as much of an eco-propaganda piece as it seems from the tiny bits I’ve been able to find.

  16. Owowowowowow…OUCH! That stings!!

    Do it again!!

    I suppose I shouldn’t enjoy the moment so much, but all these folks working so hard to be outrageous, and getting so mad because everybody continues to ignore their viewpoint because ‘oppression’ and ‘narrow’ and ‘binary’ and ‘whatever’ needle my brain. Darling (to borrow/shamelessly steal) we’re not oppressing your outrageous behavior because we’re so shocked, we’re ignoring you because you’re — boring. When you walk around with a ridiculously limited conception of humanity, declare it to be cutting edge, strike your pose — and nobody blinks? Whaddya do?

  17. I’m afraid I never had a ‘sheltered’ childhood. At least not in the classical sense. I had a topless house-cleaner for an Aunt, who offered to take me as an apprentice once I became of legal age, and who regaled the family with funny work stories. I found out the more creative acts of sex by my parents seeing which of the jokes they or my aunts and uncles told made sense to me and then having them explained. And for my 12th birthday, my mother didn’t even bat an eye at a request to get me a Playboy for my drawing practice, after all I’d had access to my father’s Easy Rider’s for years.

    As for gender normative, or even relationship normative, when you grow up in the depths of a community that values being true to who you are, you grow up around all types of people, but mostly people who are completely comfortable in their own skin. I’ve watched my big burly biker Uncles wear apron’s and drink tea with my baby sister, my father and Uncle skipped arm in arm with each other down the aisle at my other father’s wedding, a scene repeated at my brother’s wedding by his wife’s brother and our brother, since they were the bride’s ‘maid’ and best man.

    I don’t need to go to fiction to find a whole world that laughs at ‘normative’; I grew up in it. I just wish more of my generation had and knew the basic truth, you are yourself, as you define yourself, and no one else can define you.

  18. I don’t really see Little Miss Sanctimonious as having backed down here. After all, this is the end of her column from last week:

    To that end, I’ll be running this column: posting every two weeks, with discussions of books and short stories, as well as interviews and roundtables with other writers and readers of post-binary SF, because I strongly believe it’s important to hear multiple voices. I’m particularly interested in science fiction at the moment, but I expect I’ll cross genres as I run the column.

    I hope you’ll join me in making the default increasingly unstable.

    It sounds like she is doing exactly what she said she would; discussing a work of Post-Binary SF. Granted, she hasn’t done a roundtable or an interview YET, but it’s her second week. Her Special Snowflakeness is still making her point. Her assumptions are all still there. She even mentions her own disappointment with the fact that Jan (whoever that is. I haven’t read it.) is the only mix-gendered person in the book. I would go so far as to say that she hasn’t been deterred at all by the criticism and in a way I respect that.

    Don’t get me wrong. I don’t need some lefty telling me what I’m allowed to read and write. Her attempt at doing so is abhorrent to me. The fact remains that she took one on the chin and came right back doing her thing. How many of us have been criticized for our beliefs? She’s got guts if nothing else. I still think she’s a loon but at least she’s a gutsy loon. Seriously. If we could persuade her to our side, think of what a force she could be. I know. Won’t happen. But a man can dream, can’t he? *SIGH*

    1. I hope you’ll join me in making the default increasingly unstable.

      I’m one of those icky nasty realists that thinks someone shoulda shot the Joker about the third time he escaped Arkham Asylum– what she’s promoting is a less visually dramatic version.


      Never make a plan that depends on the enemy being a decent person, unless you’re dedicated to being a horrific one yourself.

      1. I’m one of those icky nasty realists that thinks someone shoulda shot the Joker about the third time he escaped Arkham Asylum– what she’s promoting is a less visually dramatic version.

        That’s one of the things I liked about _Armageddon Girl_ (which Sarah kindly plugged a few weeks back). The super heroes took a far more realistic view as to how to handle bad guys who killed hundreds of people. Barring the truly high-powered evil doers with their own countries, bad guys tended to have very short life spans:-).

    2. . If we could persuade her to our side, think of what a force she could be. I know. Won’t happen.

      Might happen.

      She already has the give-a-damn gene.

      If she gives-a-damn rationally, and is betrayed by the reality of the ideology she’s in now, she could become a real fire-breather for our side.

      We need to keep putting out chunks of bread, and the other side will most assuredly keep betraying their claimed ideals.

  19. Shhhh! No one tell the special snowflake about “The Left Hand of Darkness”! Humans on an alien world who switch back and forth between genders multiple times a year as part of their natural biological processes.

    On another note, I wonder what the special snowflake would make of David Brin’s “Glory Season”?

    1. I don’t think that somehow, it’d count to the Special Snowflake, if it’s part of ‘their natural biological processes.’ Because it’s part of that species’ ‘normal’. Has to be a quadsexual or something that is bucking off the male-female duality to be ‘valid’.

      I could be wrong, but it just occurred to me.

      1. Aha. That explains why SLOWTRAIN TO ARCTURUS will not cut her non-binary gender list of books, despite having one of the two main POV characters from a species begins life neuter, becomes male and engages in high risk behavior… like travel and exploring things, and then (having non-determinate growth) gets big enough and becomes female and must return to its home territory to breed. of course it does include a female dominant culture, where men have been genetically modified to be smaller and weaker… and lesbians are regarded boyie-women. I mean how could any self-respecting woman take on an inferior role? And of course the ‘little brown people’ do not fit the designated PC role either, regarding the white guilt as something that makes the big white people who are useless at anything that really counts, like hunting and killing food, as suckers to be exploited by that white guilt / ‘we are so superior’, and of course the fact that the lead hero is white, male and conservative Christian from a sort of Amish/Quaker sect. So even if the change in sexual orientation wasn’t just natural biology and thus of no interest to squallers about ‘binary gender’ I guess the rest would be enough to make them go ‘la la la…’

        1. Yeah, little brown people are totes passé! Little brown gay transgenders? How uncreaaaaaaaaaative~ Maybe if the main character were a wolf/cougar cross furry, blue and green furred, hermaphrodite, child-hating to the point that s/he ripped out his/her womb and only left behind the vagina for pleasure purposes, pansexual and an atheist seeking to destroy God.


          Think that’d tickle Special Snowflake’s fancy?

          (btw, if anyone wants to steal that character, feel free because just dreaming it up made my head hurt.)

        2. You know, January Dancer has a planet with a character thinking about how most planets have bimodal sexual distributions. She learns later how this works. Alas for the theory, you also get how it works out.

      1. that’s an “if” not an “iff”. (If-and-only-if for those who missed out on the Logic and Argument class.)

  20. Wonder what she would think about a story concerning shape shifters who, when they shifted either:
    1. Stayed the same sex,
    2. Changed sex (human female to male werewolf or dragon),
    3. Became a hermaphrodite.
    Such change is beyond control of the shifter, and happens at random.

    Oh the possibilities!

  21. I’ll be interested to see the sales reports on all this daring, carefully crafted politically correct gender-neutral material.

    I think the lady who started all this has utterly failed to do the math on her potential sales targets. While there are adventurous people who are interested in stepping out of their roles, I don’t think they’re a large enough demographic to make up for the losing the vast majority of the “normally gendered”.

    Writing for, what, three-five percent of the market? How successful is that going to be?

    1. Actually – I would say part of the problem is that there are already LOTS of adventurous readers willing to step out of their roles she was unaware of because she seemed clueless, other than LhoD by LeGuin, of how prevalent weird gender changes really are in SF, in the past and the present.

      Also that she had no problems saying those of us who are quite comfortably male/femaile and “default” gendered should suck it up and have protagonists / characters “not like us” shoved in our faces, because SHE didn’t want to deal with stories where people were the “default”, and because people of “non-default” genders should have characters “like them” to look up to (wait, is that another form of ‘soft’ condescension? They can’t handle people different from them?)

      1. I didn’t express my thoughts very artfully, above–What I meant to get at was the idea that material deliberately written to fulfill what she was asking for wasn’t likely to be worth reading, and would get the appropriate audience, which is probably close to “zero”.

        Writing an entertaining story which has characters in it that are “differently sexed”? Easily done, if the story and characters actually, y’know, support telling the story. Hell, I can think of a bunch off the top of my head–Bujold has an entire society with gene-engineered hermaphrodites, and one of them, Bel Thorne, is a major supporting character. Then, there’s the all-male world of Ethan of Athos. That’s one author, one “world”. There are a lot more out there. I really don’t think this woman gets out much, y’know? Or, that she actually reads much science fiction, either.

        Deliberately setting out to write such characters, with those gender issues built-in? Not an enterprise likely to generate limpid prose others want to read, I’m afraid.

        1. I’d recommend Emma Bull’s Sparrow to her, but I’m afraid she wouldn’t get the sex of the main character, even though it’s key to the plot. Only book I’ve read that stuck with me – you know, because of a good story – where you could read the protagonist as either sex until you figure it out.. and afterwards, it’s simultaneously very important to the plot and not a big deal compared to the action going on.

          1. I love that book. It’s my favorite Emma Bull book, except for when I’ve just read Finder. The first time I read that, I actually caught some of the cues and wondered about them.

  22. Watching the non-binary gender chick (and her defenders) get taken down has provided me with much entertainment. It’s been so fun.

  23. Let’s see, I’ve got a novella where one of the protagonists is a flaming queer who also happens to be a hell of a brawler and fencer, a series of novels with a major-minor character who’s quietly bi, a major-minor character who’s celibate for reasons he prefers to keep to himself (I’m just the author – it’s none of my business), and a minor character that I’m starting to think is gleefully bi- to omni- as well as being pagan. I wonder what else I need to hit the quota?

    1. That’s one of the things I find bizarre about her “let’s end default binary” cry. I personally don’t have much experience with writing, but what little experience I have, combined with what I’ve read of others’ experiences, when you put story first, a lot of times, you don’t have much say in how the characters come out. Heck, a lot of times, the author doesn’t have much say in how the story itself comes out, because the story typically takes on a life of its own!

      Now, that doesn’t mean that, if I want to write stories that only have “binary” gendered characters, that I can’t. It just means that, if I find a story going a different direction than I want, I have to tell a different story altogether.

  24. “The Media is hitting the same wall – their attempts to talk up the Summer of Recovery 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and… what is it now? Six? – fall on their faces.”

    I’m halfway to the point of believing that the whole you-oppressed-me-by-classifying-me-as-magenta-when-I’m-really-orchid-you-insensitive-clod schtick is meant as a distraction, something the establishment can suddenly decide to talk about instead of all the ways they’ve broken the economy.

    1. I’ll agree with you there. Julia Gillard tried that here when she was wrecking the economy and she ended up driving an overwhelming majority of the voter base to vote for Tony Abbott instead. Poor guy has a long way to go with having to undo all the damage she’s done, but he’s working on it.

  25. Reading the post and comments also caused me to think of Janet Morris’s High Couch of Silistra series, both wondering if she would include that, since the attitude in the books I have read seems to be that sex is a great idea, no matter what kind, and wondering if her head would explode considering that the MC is constantly going from situation to situation with men treating her like a possession and not being particularly upset by it? Oh, sometimes she gets miffed, but gets over it pretty easily.

    Then I also was wondering, given the attitude I have seen attributed to Morris in comments her and elsewhere, how did she come to write such books?

  26. This is completely off topic, but I just noticed that somebody has put one old Finnish film I like on youtube about a year ago, with English subtexts no less. It’s one of the few attempts of horror made here back in the early 50’s, after that it took several decades before Finnish filmmakers got back to that genre. The White Reindeer, in case anybody is interested:

    1. To add, as a whole that film’s depiction of the Sami reindeer herders and their life (well, what it had been like what was still rather near past then) is of course quite romanticized, but as far as I know lots of the details of daily life used, like Pirita filling shoes with hay and so on are actually fairly accurate, so if anybody is planning to write a fantasy where something happens among similar people you could probably use that as a jumping off point. And there are two types of reindeer, the domesticated and a couple of varieties of wild, and the herders have not been overly fond of the wild varieties. For one thing they can sometimes ‘steal’ the tamer ones, which is one reason why the witch reindeer in the story is so eagerly hunted by the men, they wouldn’t have wanted it near their herds. 🙂

      1. And one more add, I don’t think there are good names for those different types of reindeer in English, but in Finnish they are ‘poro’ – the domesticated ones, and ‘peura’ – the wild ones. It’s not talked about much in the dialogue, but you don’t need to because the Finnish name of the movie, ‘Valkoinen peura’ already tells that the white one is one of the wild ones, and that also tells some of the motivations (well, it was also bewitched, but that was only part of it, they would have hunted it just because it was a wild one too) of the men who run after it in the beginning.

        One of these damn translation problems, the name of the story loses half of it’s meaning in English.

            1. Ok. Thank you. You know the chances of me learning Finnish is kinda small, I’m stretched at “Vihtavouri Oy”

                  1. Heh. The interviewer’s pronunciations of both Lapua and Vihtavuori are a bit off, to Finnish ears. 🙂

                    Vihtavuori is a slightly funny name in connection to that product. ‘Vuori’ means mountain (although what they call mountain in that part of the country would be any low hill, you don’t have anything like mountains here, closest hills getting towards that are in Lapland). ‘Vihta’ is that birch whisk Finns beat themselves with in sauna. So the place where the town is now may have originally been a hill from which locals collected the birch brigs they used to make their vihtas (also called ‘vasta’ in some parts of the country). But the devil is also sometimes familiarly called ‘vihtahousu’ (in that the ‘housu’ part means ‘trousers’, and vihtahousu was probably originally one of the alternative names for bear, which you could not call by its real name lest it answer), and Vihtavuori sort of reminds one of that just because it both looks and sounds slightly similar. So, for hoplophobes, what would be more fitting than making ammunition on the devil’s mountain. 😉

    2. *doubletake* Probably shared because Frozen came out this year.

      Not sure where it’s supposed to be, but one of the supporting cast IS a reindeer, all the pretty dresses have pants on under them (mommy loves it) and the embroidery and tunic style looks really similar.

      1. Interesting. I haven’t seen Frozen yet (and since the original version is no longer playing here it will take until the DVD comes out before I will, I don’t like dubbed. Nothing else gets dubbed here but movies which can be watched by children too young to read subtexts do, and the theaters then usually show both the original, and the one dubbed in Finnish, but the dubbed always plays longer.)

        More or less that style of clothes are also used by several of the small groups of native people in northernmost Russia. Many of them have also herded reindeers, or still do. The colors are usually quite bright, blues and reds dominating, contrasting colors used in the decorations.

        1. The Frozen movie was Russian, but the common design elements are strong enough that I still think that’s what made “The White Reindeer” get shared. I fully expect a mini Celtic-style fad for all things old and Russian.

            1. Mercedies Lackey has been on a…um… can’t see the word anymore, head says “Sammy”… kick for a few decades, part of her Russian infatuation. (It seems to have blossomed into a rather charming love of the mythology, so no complaints there, no matter what I think the suspected root did with her political implications.)

              As our Hostess has pointed out, the strict separation thing doesn’t work so well and it was clearly a small kingdom with lots of neighbors, so it could’ve been the Heinz 57 previously.

                  1. I cheerfully admit to enjoying harmless fluff – mental potato chips and candy. On days where I just really want to be entertained and NOT THINK I’ll reread a Lynne Graham romance novel. Rhys will even happily tuck me into bed with hot tea or chocolate, chocolate to nibble on, and cookies, and a pile of ‘weepy books’, as we like to call them, when he sees I’m too stressed to be coherent. But even Lynne Graham’s been introducing new twists and secondary plots to her main romance tales of late, which has me coming back for more.

                    Firebird felt a lot like 500 Kingdoms, so I may try to pick up the other book paired with that one.

        2. Blue. Bright blue. WANT (or is there some sex-based cultural taboo as to which colors are suitable / “allowed” for which biological gender?)

      2. Kristoff was outright stated via Word of God to be a Sami. The Frozen artbook is delightful in showing how much research they did for it.

        I have to say, I’m really glad they went with this interpretation of Elsa. Looking at their earlier designs and character ideas, she’d have been rather trite otherwise.

        1. THAT is the group I vaguely remembered!

          I gotta say, it’s a delight for my kids to insist on wearing pants under their dresses because “I’m a princess!”

          1. With the weather y’all have up there? Sensible too!

            *glances out window, and looks cheated* Oi! *shakes fist at sky* Weren’t you just about to burst into torrential rain?! WHY IS IT SUDDENLY SUNNY? Why is there a pool of golden sunshine around my house, and there are thick grey clouds everywhere!? Rain so my headache will go away!

            1. Want to trade? I haven’t seen the sun for days. And there have been only a few sunny days during the last couple of months, and since this far north, this time of the year, a sunny day means under 8 hours or less of sun, if you count only when it’s actually fully visible, that hasn’t been much. Want light.

  27. It’s just the “Many faces of Eve” past it’s prime and being retreaded as “Many faces of gender.” Handicaps Tor aspiring writers, no money for those who succeed in writing something with message rather than story. Provides cocktail party points for Tor Executives, will fade away or better yet, Tor SF (after they chase off John C. Wright) will fold their cardboard suitcases and slink out of town.

    1. If I could figure out a way to pay a couple writers directly, without Tor getting a dime, I would.

  28. “You see, until about five years ago, we who laughed behind our hands at this exquisite divorce from reality, would have stayed quiet. Had to. Our only hope of publication once we were out politically was Baen and nothing outside it, and we had meals to buy and baby needed shoes. Now?”

    This actually the key thing in this post. And in fact the whole binary gender twaddle (the chickie describes herself as ‘queer’ somewhere, which I suspect explains behind the double-speak what she wants from her fiction. Shrug. To please a tiny minority, or at least give them a grievance to demand more special privileges to make up for, that minority outvotes the other 95%) The publishing establishment is not very quick to adapt (ergo, accounting from the 19th century) and it’s really having trouble dealing with the idea that it no longer rules by dictat, and things like readers and writers matter. And as more and more people emerge from the cover, or get published without ever having to put up with their drivel, the zeitgeist moves. Today people say things about African leaders that no one would have dared say 5 years ago, and would have been afraid to even admit considering 10 years ago.That’s just one aspect of leftist doctrinaire teaching finally being so out of touch with the reality, that no-one can believe it, outside the loony echo-chamber. It’ll spread to other items of their faith. And they will resist, because like cornered rats, all it all many of them have.

    1. I was contemplating just t’other day the idea that “They” live in a funhouse of mirrors so that they believe themselves a majority. Now reality is smashing their mirrors and their dismay is profound.

  29. People mentioned Chalker, but another gender transforming author just came back into my mind, John Varley, who seems to be utterly obsessed with the idea. Steel Beach included characters who could change genders thanks to technology like we change clothes.

    And don’t get me started on the Titanides, the Centaurs in the Titan trilogy, who had two sets of sex organs, the front ones producing an egg that could be transferred to the aft portion of any compatible centaur for a second fertilization…. Note that front and aft genitals need not be the same, and Varley went into extreme detail calculating all of the possibilities, and named them after musical modes.

  30. I’m sure that’s what you were referring to, my thoughts about the First laughter being the straw that breaks the camel’s back, was the Emperor’s New Clothes, being the perfect analogy for the whole essay.

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