A Stranger Reflection

*Some housekeeping stuff before the post.  As most of you know, by now, I’m having internet connectivity problems.  I’ve been posting from a remote location where I can access the net, which explains why my answers here come in clumps all at one time.  Today (I’m writing this yesterday, so I almost said tomorrow) I might not be able to reach this away-point, since — for those of you not on the net right now — Colorado Springs is getting clobbered with snow, and getting here today meant that we risked life and limb, and we wouldn’t have done it if my husband didn’t need to remote-into-work which is even further away.  All this to say if I’m not on today, I’m okay and nothing happened to me, and I’ll read the comments when I get online. In further “housekeeping”, my friend Brad Torgersen has asked me to remind you of some Sad Puppies, who need consolation.*

But there has to be someone like me in the story, otherwise, how can I like it?

Yes, the SJWs ARE the gift that keeps on giving (and giving, and giving, and giving – they’re so generous) as far as this blog is concerned.

You see, the SJW who was sensitivity-bombing Brad Torgersen’s thread the other day was saying that we don’t have LGBT, Women, People of Interesting Nationalities, Little Brownz Peoples People of tan People who are barely darker than I People who are not extremely pale in science fiction and fantasy because we don’t write for them. It’s sort of a faith in “if we write it, they will come.” It’s a little dopey faith, but very, very sincere.

You see, the reason – supposedly – that we don’t have more people of tannitude and different sexual options, or women (and OMG are they crazy on that one. We have nothing but women. In fact our ranks are the opposite of my son’s advanced engineering classes) is because we don’t write enough of them.

Okay, to begin with shut up. They honestly believe this, and maybe it’s true in their universe. It clearly isn’t true in ours where since the pulp era science fiction has been THE place where “Other” was sexy.

Let’s forget that part, since I’ve tried to point out to them that in terms of writers my age or slightly older women are actually in the majority (the result of the fact that writing became a profession in which it was very hard to support a family. So it became the profession of the secondary earner in a relationship, thereby giving the advantage to women and gay men who often work part time or less demanding jobs so they can be the homemaker and child raiser.)

They just scream no they’re not. The same way they scream that Heinlein only wrote women as homemakers and that no woman ever got an award before 2010 or so.

Let it go. It’s like straw-Larry Correia, a despicable creature that exists only in a parallel universe. (That guy is a d*ck.) Straw-Heinlein in the other universe wrote sort of Gor with more spaceships. And women had their fingers broken when trying to pen winning science fiction before 2010. And worldcons used to feature big bonfires in which any person with a complexion darker than porcelain was burned at the stake.

Let all that go, and let’s go back to the premise: we have to attract readers who are not straight white men by writing about people like them first.

I first ran into this type of belief when I wrote my first short story. I showed it to some friends, and was shot down with “There is no character I can identify with.”

To be fair, it was a very short horror story and all the characters were profoundly unpleasant. To be unfair what our friend really meant was “there is no character I can get in the head of” but he THOUGHT this was because there was no character LIKE HIM.

I think that’s what people originally meant by “there must be a character you can identify with” – it was, there has to be a character into whose head I can get and about whom I give a d*mn. Only some people take it to mean “there must be a character this age, this orientation and this coloration, before I’m interested in reading.”

This makes perfect sense, since at eight, when I fell in love with Have Spacesuit Will Travel, I was a little boy living in middle America with a Math Professor father, right? Oh, wait… Or at eleven when I loved Out of Their Minds and subsequently fell in love with Clifford Simak’s work. I must have been a middle aged man living in Wisconsin.

Other books/works/ writers I enjoyed, in no particular order at that time and leaving out a vast number: Pearl S. Buck, Enid Blyton, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Mark Twain, Thomas Mann Jack London…. If all of them had characters who were little girls growing up in Portugal in the early seventies, I must somehow have missed them.

The thing is that it has always puzzled me the idea that to enjoy a book/movie/play you must have a character in it who is just like you.

I read books written long before I was born, about events and characters lost in the midst of time, and I do enjoy them.

First, there is the universal human experience in them. And then, of course, there is the ability to be someone else for a while.

I believe my experience is closer to universal than the idea that a character like me must be in every book, otherwise people like Jane Austen and Shakespeare would have been long forgotten.

More, the funny thing about the “if you write it they will come” argument is that, on its face it’s an argument for more white middle class people in science fiction. And just about every other genre too.

The majority of readers come from that vast American amalgam that is considered white (something more to do with upbringing than coloration) and middle class and lives in suburbs and works nine to five jobs, and…

So if you needed to have a character like the reader in order to attract the reader, our works would feature more and more (and more, and more, till an order of moritude is reached) people like that, so we can be bestsellers with the readers that exist now. We would not put in any Thai, one legged gay men in order to attract Thai, and handicapped and gay men to our books. That would be sort of the equivalent of going to the local lake, which you know to be stocked with carp (duck) with shark bait, in order to attract the odd shark who might swim in through the possible canal linking the lake to the sea.

In the same way that Thai, handicapped gay guy might be burning for books with characters like him, but he’d have to go to the bookstore at the right time, in the right place to find your book on the shelf (I think the window is now two weeks after publication.) He’d have to be in the mood for science fiction right then. And he would have to like your work, above and beyond the Thai, one legged gay guy thing. AND if all the stars align? You found yourself a fanatical reader. One. Unless he’s got the wealth of Croesus, you’re still going to starve.

But fortunately this is not true. Fortunately the readers divide evenly between those who want to read about stuff they’re familiar with, and those want to read new and exciting. Science fiction has an overwhelming preponderance of xenophiles. They like the new and different. (Of course, most of what they’re served is people like no one wo ever existed outside a college class on Marx whining about oppression, but never mind that.)

So I can (and will, later) write a novel about a completely alien human culture and its interaction with humans who have been gene-spliced with aliens. And sell it. And have you guys all excited to read it. Kind of like the story of alternate world where we’re at war with shape-shifting dragons. Not like us, and I almost guarantee there won’t be anyone who checks the boxes – race, creed, etc – for many of you. But I understand ya’ll still want to read it (right?)

Yeah, these characters will touch the human universals, and be understandable and identifiable-with as humans, but that’s not the same as being exactly like you, yes, you, Mr. Smith of Parishfield Kentucky, who is a medium beige, likes dogs and drag racing and plays football on weekends, while maintaining a rich side-life as a crossdressing cat-fur who goes by Fluffy.

I can’t even imagine someone who reads fiction only in order to read someone like himself. It makes me think of those stories for kids where, for a fee, they put your children’s name. My inlaws, with good intentions, sent one of these to #1 son one Christmas.

Granted he was 5, so this might have seemed like a good idea. OTOH they had met him. perhaps the horror of the encounter had refused to process (At three and a half he red-penciled the picture books my poor MIL bought for him, under the principle that no grammatical mistake should go unpunished. I’m not sure which was worse, that he felt the need to mark them or that he was right.) It confused him immensely. It was about – he said – some dopey boy named Robert Hoyt who had adventures with cartoon characters, and he wanted his misapprehension corrected right away. He didn’t know why the author was maligning him but he wouldn’t be stupid enough to step into cartoon land or whatever other action of the imaginary Robert galled him.

Anyway, perhaps some people are so devoid of imagination that they need to put themselves, exactly themselves, in a character’s place. As in, they can’t even dream their own Mary Sue dreams but need someone to write them for them.

But I don’t think so. I think this is one more delusion of mostly white, mostly upper middle class, mostly over-pampered and over-educated women who engage in “social justice” work. They are so totally devoid of comprehension and empathy for anyone not exactly like them, that they think that everyone else, particularly those poor brownz people who tan – like me, say, or Larry Correia – must be like them in that. Obviously the reason the poor dears aren’t reading is because no one is writing people like them!

And if you think that is a terrible place from which to stand in order to support diversity in the field, you’re absolutely right. Like people writing aliens in fur suits, these people write white, female college professors in LGBT or brown skinned suits.

That is why these characters are always miserable, because, well, if the SJWs were them, they would be!

People who are just like me? Oh please. I’ll continue reading and writing people who are different enough from me to be fascinating, whether in an interesting or terrifying way.

Because I write to experience other people’s minds. Not to be locked in my own.

Baffle an SJW. Find a book with a very odd character and read it! Bonus points for enjoying it! I recommend Dave Freer’s Bolg PI stories. I dare you.


360 thoughts on “A Stranger Reflection

  1. Given the frequency with which you blog about the SJW social-status-games and lunacy, maybe you having a lot to say about it could be translated into a novel-setting somehow?

    After all, I think you said that ‘Darkship Theives’ was partially inspired by lazy/bizzare SF handling of cloning and biotech.

    1. I believe it was done DECADES ago. “Fallen Angels” (Niven/Pournelle/Flynn. And, of course, it’s a Baen book. . .).

      Still perhaps another trip to that well is in order. . .

        1. I’d run into characters ‘like me’ in a Harlan Ellison story. But here they were actually ‘like me’ in ways that I cared about, not appearance and social status. Much more enjoyable.

          1. Yeah, the “Fallen Angels” folks were geeks that actually took joy in geekery.

            Not a lot of books aimed at teens that include joy.

        1. Yeah, it was function – we don’t have a nearly-viable SSTO spacecraft, a moonbase, or an additional space station. Our government is not quite as bad, either, despite their “best” efforts.

          1. True. Unfortunately SSTO type concepts require the vehicle to be a giant fuel balloon. Or nuclear thermal.

            (I thought it was TSTO with a flyback first stage. Maybe I’m misremembering. TSTO you can actually make work.)

            1. Recommended reading for fans of Falling Angels:


              For the record, I don’t like SSTOs because of economic reasons:

              1. With sufficiently strong materials for fuel tanks, an SSTO would be reasonable. I can imagine a situation where simply building compartmented fuel tanks to hold two different fuels (to take advantage of the mass-thrust benefit of heavier fuels in the early minutes of launch), but which would feed into the same engines, simply switching over at a certain point, would be as economical as building multiple stages, if the superstructure to hold the separate stages together would mass more than the hybrid fuel tanks.

            2. In the novel, it was prototype for an SSTO. Unfortunately, the design had so many government-mandated modifications made that it was just slightly too-heavy to reach a full orbit. The fans and crashed-spacers had to have another craft rendezvous with them in space to boost them to orbit and let them rendezvous with the space stations.

        2. Another case of “fiction” (like 1984) that was intended as a warning, and mistaken as a how-to guide.

          1. Although, one thing Pournelle and Niven got wrong was some kind of alliance between conservative Christians and the Greens.
            Speaking as one of the former, we don’t want them, they don’t want us.

      1. Something along those lines could probably be surreal horror:

        Imagine a world where you are surrounded by other people who seem to relate to each other in normal human ways. They talk to each other. They hang out together. They have friendships and lives, etc. But every time you try to relate or connect, you find out every social instinct you have is wrong. Words never mean what they seem to mean when others use them. Attempts to be kind are treated as weakness. Everything you do is outrageously offensive, and every attempt to be polite just ratchets up the abuse. Attempts to exercise independent judgement are crimes or signs of insanity. Charity is a license to be enslaved. Guilt or a sense of justice and fairness is just another handle with which to manipulate you – no one actually follows what they preach as right and good, but you are infinitely indebted and uniquely evil because you even tried to measure up.

        As you search with increasing frustration for any kindred spirit with whom you can actually communicate on even the most concrete level, you must be always on guard against showing too much of yourself to the wrong person, because the most dangerous crime of all is who you are inside your own head and sharing it without shame.

    2. I think that’s more or less the sort of thing she’s been railing against, the notion of starting with a *message* and trying to build a story around it is less likely to be interesting than just writing a good story.

      1. True. I didn’t think of that.

        @Sarah: Well, I’ve enjoyed all the novels you’ve written so far, so keep doing whatever works for you.

  2. You have misunderstood something. Children, young children, like shows and books with children in them. I liked Lassie, The Rifleman, Leave it to Beaver, and Father knows best largely because they had kids in them. A child knows a show is better if you have someone similar to you in it. Adults differ somewhat.

      1. Sure they are, they may have reached the age of majority but they are still children maturity levels

        1. Yes, it’s amazing how many people are Lost Boys inside (or at least, wannabe’s) but “pass” as adults for the money & status.

      2. I’ve heard a couple psychologists at this point describe people with cluster-B disorders (Narcissism, Borderlines, etc – regardless of whether they’re in the DSM or not) as basically being locked in childhood – and having never matured or learned to deal with conflict.

        For those who’re interested in some seriously screwed up people (or like me, BTDT with my ex), look up “shrink 4 men” (.com) – there’s LOTS of stuff on borderlines, or at the least, Batsh*t-crazy

        Funny part – the lady who heads it up is in most ways pretty liberal….

    1. Really? Actually, I liked Lassie for the dog, The Rifleman for his cool gun, , and Father knows best for the father image, to me the dorky kids were a distraction. Didn’t watch Leave it to Beaver because of the Dorky Kids.

      1. That’s what I though about LItB, until I had to work for Eddie Haskall. Ugh. I learned a lot from him . . . about how NOT to deal with coworkers.

        1. One episode of Leave It To Beaver was a surfeit, and my gut reaction to Eddie Haskall was that he would clearly be a serial adulterer and spend most of his salary on alimony.

          1. LitB’s main contribution was, at one time, the nastiest thing ever said on network TV. “Ward, don’t you think you were a little hard on the Beaver last night?”

      2. THIS. I liked shows with adults I could admire/emulate/imagine being. Never saw a kid on TV who wasn’t a dumbass (will Timmy EVER stay away from the old well…nope, there he goes again. The COLLIE was smarter than that…)

        It’s no coincidence that the best Doctors have been the older ones, adult figures the kids could trust/admire/emulate. Even David Tennant and Matt Smith count…

        1. I did read books which had kids in them when I was a kid, and very much liked something like Enid Blyton’s stories because those kids did fun things like solve mysteries.

          But I loved, loved, loved both Tarzan and John Carter of Mars stories.

          So, let’s see: two big strapping superbly athletic adult men, one of whom kills poor little animals and eats them raw, other who kills countless opponents with a sword, both very much warriors. Two adult women, one a blond beauty (I think she was technically a teen in the first novel, but to a child an eighteen or nineteen old is as good as an adult), other an oviparous gorgeous alien princess with red skin whose alien race is the end result of generations of intermarriage between three races, one black, other white, third yellow skinned (ah, the porcelain skinned beauties all those old white men would only write…). Both women have all the men around either worship them or try to do some weird stuff which was hinted at but I didn’t quite get but was Obviously Very Bad to them and those men had a full time job saving them from those Fates Worse Than Death. Other characters… let’s see… Big green man with two pairs of hands and big tusks… nope… black African warriors… nope… well, the main characters later have children, but we don’t see them as children, Korak appears as a baby but otherwise only after they are well into their teens. And again, we get two strapping big young men (one white, one red-skinned) and one gorgeous red-skinned princess then…

          So nope.

          No eight to twelve year old overweight short girls with glasses anywhere in those books. (I started with Tarzan when 8, had gone through all the books which existed as Finnish translations a bit before I got to 13)

          Only one thing in common with the two men and the blond woman and me (and one son, when we get to the second generation): one is European, two Americans of European descent, and I am an European although late 19th to early 20th century Britain (imaginary version…) and USA too were almost as alien to me as Barsoom, meaning some place I had only read about and seen imagined in a few movies, just a little bit less weird because there were a few things which exist and I had seen personally, like horses. And of course the stories never spend much time in those places.


  3. So I can (and will, later) write a novel about a completely alien human culture and its interaction with humans who have been gene-spliced with aliens.

    Uh-oh, Sarah. You’ve fallen for one of the world’s classic blunders. The most famous is, of course, “Never get involved in a land war in Asia.” But only slightly less famous is, “Never tease a bunch of science-fiction readers with a work that’s too far away from publication.” Because now we’re going to be constantly pestering you with “When are you starting that book you promised us? Huh? Huh? Is it today? Okay, maybe you can’t do it today, but that means you can do it tomorrow, right? Right?”

    (And yeah, you betcha we want to read it!)

                1. Oh, don’t get me wrong… I just don’t want you throwing out your back waving it around.

                  1. If I have to haul this elk any further I may have to look into the exchange rate for chickens.

                    1. Why don’t you leave it in the bed of your truck ? Otherwise maybe we can find a winch around here somewhere.

                    2. People like to be able to walk around the merch, ya know?

                      Last time I went looking for a wench around here I found a sudden urge to correct my wretched ways…

                  1. Hrm. Fair bid. (Even if those cows look a bit — disreputable.)

                    No, that’s a fair bid. But I’m going to leave the elk on the table (it’s heavy, forget throwing my back out swinging it.) and add this little jar. FULL of fertilized carp eggs!

                    1. Gotta know your market if you’re gonna barter.

                      Brought the elk because of the strapping young men. But I was one-upped by the cattle (lotta beef in eight), so had to go to the next phase…

                2. With the approval and consent of my husband we might consider a barter Eamon. That elk looks good. Skin and butcher it?

                  1. Oooo! Counter-offer!

                    Hm. I can skin and quarter it. It’d be better if we pulled a qualified butcher in for the fancy stuff. Will you be needing the hide? We might finagle a butcher with some good leather…

                    1. Good-good. Lots of options for barter with leather.

                      (Yep, it’s a joke. If I had an elk carcass I wouldn’t tell anybody, they might want some! 😉 Elk tags are outrageous for out-of-state hunters, and on a lottery to boot.)

                3. Maybe if you turned it into steaks first… sizzling on the grill. I doubt anybody would have anything against that. Right?

                  Mmmm… smell that, oh Evil Space Princess, doesn’t it smell just… so… good?

                  If you tried that with this nice bottle of red I happen to have with me… And I think I can find something else too, for a bit later. Now what would go well with the tea later… Very good tea too. 🙂 ?

                  1. I’ve got a sugar cookie recipe that took about ten years to polish. I bet that goes with tea!

                  2. Ah! I’ve got my sales-partner right here. She’ll be handling all my barter transactions from now on.

                    1. This morning, with a salvage tag. (No, seriously, I don’t have one this morning but I do have a freezer full from other mornings.)

                    2. No, there’s a sliding scale for damage, as well as one for time/weather conditions. For example, a deer with a broken neck has a whole lot more salvageable meat than a moose hit by a train, and you have a lot more time to salvage roadkill at 15 degrees than at 95.

                    3. Yeah, I SO wish I had known that there was a processor within a mile of the one that I hit in the neck. It would have almost made up for the damage it did to my car.

                    4. Oh that reminds me of a story from an old Louisiana friend.

                      She went to Nashville for college andone one of the days she was driving to work she hit a deer. She called her boss sobbing hysterically because she had never hit one before. When he asked what if anything she had hit in the past her response was “Alligators.”

        1. And cash, if it’s in small-ish quantities, also comes with the “Do Not Track” feature turned on by default. Some people find this an essential feature, and the fact that plastic lacks this feature is a product-killing bug in their eyes.

        2. Waving a handful of cash and screaming “Shut up and take my money!” looks better than if you do the same with a debit card. 😉

      1. My coworkers are looking at me funny…well, funnier than normal, now that I’m standing at my desk with a $10 in one raised hand and my lit MHI zippo raised in the other.

        Gotta go – I think one of them is calling for security to bring the straightjacket again… 🙂

          1. The funny part? I almost said that I didn’t have a $10 in my wallet, but I did have 10 $1s…and my mind hadn’t gone there yet.

    1. Has anyone seen the “Like” button? I need to smash it about a hundred times…

      The other thing to do is to collaboratively write the Perfect SJW Novel, a la the Sokol paper. (A team would be required to prevent brain rot.) The “author” would be a paraplegic sapiosexual otherkin of color. The story would consist *entirely* of oppression, microaggressions, visual rape, and cultural appropriation. Then we get that sucker nominated for a Hugo, and do the big Crying Game reveal at the award ceremony 😀

      1. I object to the character being a sapiosexual. a sapiosexual is turned on by intelligence, none of the SJws manifest much of that. However I have found that most actual SF fans are sapiosexuals

        1. We could go with “pansexual” whatever that is.
          Now, if we were really going for broke, we’d throw in an asexual. However, this could backfire, as the SJW crowd believes sex is the most importantest thing ever.

      2. The only Sokol I’m familiar with is the Austrian editorial cartoonist who got chased out of Vienna by the Soviets after WWII and went on to draw Playboy cartoons for the next fifty or sixty years.

        You know, I think I’d read his SF novel (or graphic novel), rest his soul…

        1. Look up “Sokol hoax” for amusement. Physicist Alan Sokal got a paper accepted by the cultural studies journal Social Text, titled “Transgressing the Boundaries – Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity”. It was utter bosh. He did it to prove that type of journal really doesn’t review or check ANYTHING. Much giggling (from physicists) and wailing and gnashing of teeth (from the cultural studies darlings) resulted.

      3. Seems to me you’re talking about a collaboration similar to the one that wrote “Naked Came a Stranger”. Unless I am completely misunderstanding what you’re saying…

        It worked then, should work again.

        1. Or Atlanta Nights.

          The problem is that this one requires a slightly higher bar, since actually the standards for the award are higher than those of PublishAmerica. (They could hardly be lower.)

    2. It’s called the Changeling trilogy and it’s started — the problem with the way my health has been the last 3 years is that the ideas still arrive at normal rate. It’s okay. Health is being dealt with (surgery ont he 16th of March is likely to take care of a lot of it, move is in the offing which should take care of whatever the heck I’m allergic to in this house (but no one else is) and then I’ll have to write like the wind.

      1. …write like the wind. 😐

        In fits and starts with the occasional gust? Swirling around aimlessly? Damply one day and soul-suckingly dry the next? Tearing a path of destruction through the country-side as you twirl around dizzyingly?


        Ah, perhaps like a haboob rolling inexorably forward and covering all {the pages} before it in an unavoidable layer {of text}, spreading your ideas throughout the land.

        There we go. Do that.

        1. A nice chinook, perhaps, randomly blowing through town and stealing all of your snow.

  4. It’s more than a profound lack of imagination and empathy (though it is those things too), it’s a rigidity of mind that frankly strikes me as an illness. Their minds are so flabby that they cannot take in anything that requires the least bit of mental effort.

    It isn’t just stories that don’t have a POV character with which they immediately identify. I’ve had conversations with Liberals who CAN”T WATCH A BLACK AND WHITE FILM. Or a silent one. Or one with great writing, great acting, and poor special effects. And in talking to them, one immediately realizes that they also could not read anything written in Edwardian or Victorian English, because the rhythms are so different. Ditto listening to music older than a certain age.

    They have never been challenged to think about anything beyond their own Philistine circle, and now they are so set in their ways that they CAN’T.

    1. Sad, isn’t it? I write a perfectly good simulacrum of 19th century Victoriana myself, to the point of having an early Alpha reader ask me how I had gotten ahold of a genuine pioneer diary which I had “created” for my first book … and I still run into readers now and again, who just can’t cope. Stiff, stilted, not very readable, they say. Sigh.

      1. They’d have fits with the ranch reports I read. One of the foremen had probably spoken Gaelic growing up, and he used 17th century number notation. I learned to read his reports, and they were some of the most useful, but it took a little adjusting to.

        And then I got into the crosswritten letters . . . in navy on blue paper. . . The horror, the horror . . .

        1. Oh, god … and cross-written on both sides of very thin paper with some of the ink showing through on the other side…and one correspondent who spelled phonetically…
          But on the other hand, some of the correspondents had a beautiful, clear cursive hand. As easy to read as if it were printed.

      2. Yes, all cultures must resemble their utopia, no matter what time frame you set it in (past or future). And heaven help you if you describe modern life as anything but a socialist paradise (except for the evil conservatives, who manage to keep the plot going by showing everyone how backwards and ignorant they are).

        1. And causing horrible things to happen. For instance, AIDS was caused by Reagan. Not by, say, people who insisted that infecting others was a civil right.

          1. You sparked a side thought, and I just want to throw it out here and see what other people think;

            Some time in the ’90’s (as I recall) an article was published claiming that Gays were holding what were called “Bug Chaser” parties at which uninfected Gays would deliberately have unprotected sex with HIV positive men.

            Now, that always smelled to me like a hoax. If my memory is right, it was published in Rolling Stone, and we have just recently seen that they will swallow ANYTHING.

            Also, while I occasionally saw the article referenced, I never saw another account of such parties.

            So, what do y’all think? Hoax?

            1. I have no idea. I know my friends are almost pathologically careful, but they are… right/libertarians, which is a different mind set from the “I wanna be a victim” SJWs

              1. It just reminds me so much of the Doonsbury storyline that introduced the reporter character (Roland?), when Zomker fed him a line of total swill and ended up on the cover of TIME.

                It really sounds to me like a Very Straight But Understanding Liberal ™ was poking around the Gay subculture looking for a story and some Gay joker couldn’t resist. It sounds like examples of shock-the-breeders Gay humor I’ve run into elsewhere.

                1. And it came out somewhere once the natives had a good chuckle over Margaret Mead believing they didn’t know how babies came about…

                  1. There is so much myth about Margaret Mead. Thing she didn’t quite say, because she didn’t mean to say them, that became Holy Writ for segments of the Left. She spent an awful lot of her life fighting the impression that she had claimed the Samoans were Matriarchical. She hadn’t, but she HAD overreached her data a bit. And the Feministas simply would not Let. it. go.

            2. Parties sound dubious. There were supposed to be bug hunters, disturbed homosexuals who did that as individuals. Rational being either ‘AIDS is the sign of the in group’ or ‘I am going to be getting it sooner or later anyway’.

            3. I once read a big whoopla about Andrew Sullivan posting on some site that he wanted unprotected sex with another HIV positive guy. Not my cup of tea, but morally, if they do it in private, I have no real problem with it. If anything, I laud them for not wanting to spread infection.

            4. It’s happened and still happens.One of the reasons is “I’m going to get it eventually, so might as well get it over with.” I personally don’t understand at all. Phrase of the day: fluid monogamous.

              On a related note, I get the 1980s/1990s “Oh we need help!” pleas, but now?!? Everyone smarter than a stump knows how AIDS is transmitted. If you get it now, no more govt goodies.

          2. Not to mention that it spread to humans from monkeys.

            Which brings up a very disturbing line of questions…

              1. Recent disturbing news: in the past year ebola has killed about a third of the African great apes.

                1. You might double check the dates on that. The article I read said that it had happened over about a 10 year span, but that they were only compiling the reports this year. Which makes me wonder how they collected the data, given the, ah, mildly unsettled state of some of the areas under discussion. *shrug* Either way it’s bad news. It also says a lot about the value of even pallative care.

      3. It IS a bit of a mental effort. One I won’t go to unless there is a substantial reward. I’ll cope with it in Twain. Multiple efforts have yet to convince me that Dickens is worth it.

    2. I recommend the Thief of Bagdad. The original, Doug Fairbanks Sr., accept no substitutes one. It’s amazing how the low quality film helped make the FXs smoother.

      1. Good point. And high quality BluRay really shows up the seams in matte work on movies like “The Battle of Britain.”

    3. Popular TV illustrates: stupid people, doing stupid things, over and over and over again.

  5. “A child knows a show is better if you have someone similar to you in it. Adults differ somewhat.”

    Which shows something about the emotional maturity of sjws demanding compliance with their beliefs.

    In my childhood, *cough* many *cough* years ago, only the delusional kid thought television programs were written by other kids. They might have believed fairies, but that’s a different story.

  6. The whole hypothesis collapses in a pile of splinters when you consider how enthusiastically white American SF fans have embraced Japanese anime and manga. I mean, you don’t get much more “other” than Japan: one of the few nationalities banned from the US by law for decades, our opponents in the bloodiest, most vicious war-to-the-knife this country has ever fought. Their pop culture is extremely unlike Western media, they use different fictional and dramatic conventions and tropes . . .

    . . . and American kids can’t get enough!

    Therefore, I suggest that readers can and will enjoy works about people unlike themselves, and that therefore the entire push for more lesbian women of color is a marketing ploy by unimaginative brownish lesbian writers who are unable to write characters unlike themselves and are therefore trying to bully and shame editors and readers into buying their work.

    1. Hmmm …. I wonder if you haven’t hit on something, Trimegistus. “…unimaginative brownish lesbian writers who are unable to write characters unlike themselves and are therefore trying to bully and shame editors and readers into buying their work.”

    2. Too rational an argument*.

      Anime is popular because it’s all sex.

      If they actually know anything about anime, then it doesn’t count because it’s all about geeks, and the Japanese aren’t really a minority anyways. They’re doing well now, aren’t they?

      *you accurately modeled their complaints, but then you applied logic and even rules; they only go looking for the reason if a group is doing poorly. If they can’t find a powerful enough emotional reason to see “why this group is abused,” then they’re not a minority.

      1. Take Shonen Jump for example. This a very successful manga company. They know their demographic and know what kind of stories appeal to that demographic. They aren’t afraid to show punching.

        The Japanese media kowtow less to the SJW. Hence, paying attention to them is appropriation and super racist.

      2. Is anime ALL sex? (sorry, work is at crush-depth pressure, and lately I haven’t had time to lurk, much less read comments, and I’m pretty sure you’re being sarcastic but my sarcasm detector is defective and…)

        Incidentally, I managed to surface long enough to watch the new episode of Aldnoah Zero. Giant robots, space princesses, evil empires… right up my alley.

        1. Anime isn’t “all sex” and IMO Foxfier was being sarcastic.

          While SF, Fantasy, Horror (and sex) are some of the most commonest to reach the US, Anime in Japan covers all possible genre.

          There’s romance, soap opera, historical fiction and (I suspect) mysteries in Anime.

          1. If you don’t know about mysteries in anime, you might enjoy Detective Conan. All of the gruesome murders a young boy could want.

          2. Oh, yes. Mysteries aplenty. Also sports! (There’s a great show about bicycles – I’m intending on getting into one of the many basketball anime because it’s meant to be great.) And cooking! (Okay, the first thing that comes to mind is Ando Natsu, which is a live-action based on a manga. But there are tons of cooking related anime and manga.) And “craftsmen” (shows about actors learning to do what they do, about musicians, about comic artists, about merchants… I’m sure there are shows/comics about literal craftsmen in the sense of woodworkers or something, but the only ones that come to mind have it as not nearly even half the focus of the story. Whisper to the Heart had violin makers. There was an anime I saw recently where the family were glass makers. But other than a few short scenes, neither really “went into it”.)


            1. Oh, sure, but lately it’s been episodes of Tokyo Ghoul when I can catch the time (definitely NOT about sex… eww…). As well as the aforementioned Aldnoah Zero… and now waiting for more Sword Art Online… and I’m so far behind on Log Horizon and Akame ga Kill…

              But the daughter is a big fan of Kuroko’s Basketball and Free! Iwatobi Swim Club!. Haven’t tried Yowapeda yet.

              1. The next bit of sword art online likely kicks off the arc that is still being published.

                One anime genre I enjoy that hasn’t been explicitly mentioned is ad copy. The ones that are built around selling bits of cardboard or plastic.

                I think Gundam Build Fighters is the best Gundam series.

              2. Yeah – Kuroku is the basketball anime I was going to get into. 😀 I almost mentioned Free…. But while on one hand it’s really almost scientific in how it approaches “we’re teaching you, the audience, competitive swimming stuff”, it’s also…. Geared towards a certain type of female audience.

          3. History – try “Hetalia, Axis Powers.” The combatants of WWII as individuals. (Pasta!!!) With historical vignettes into their childhoods. The bit about the English “Chair of Death” was great.

        2. Very, very, VERY sarcastic, although there was recently a discussion over at Mr. Wright’s scifiwright blog where someone assured us that it was all infused with the spirit of pedophilia….

          (It worked about as well as you might expect.)

          1. I really liked Planetes. Truly hard science-fiction, characters that feel like real people, and also not in the least about sex. There’s a romance subplot, and I think there was a subplot where one character was (suspected of) having an affair, but that was only mentioned in dialog. The main plot is about a team of people working on cleaning up space debris (i.e., leftover bits after two satellites collide) in Earth’s orbit, which is becoming a navigational hazard by 2075 (when the anime is set). Besides doing their jobs, they also deal with being the low rung on the social ladder (they’re essentially the janitors of the space industry, and treated just as janitors are treated today — no glamour, no prestige, and so on).

            … We really should put together a list of Hun-recommended animes sometime.

            1. We’d have to put why– tastes vary so greatly! I’d instantly recommend Inu Yasha fansubs, for example, because of the massive amounts of mythology goodness, but the dubs and pro-subs you can only see the mythology if you already know it. Someone who doesn’t go all shiny-eyed at that would be left with a teen drama involving a guy with dog ears.
              Slayers! on the other hand is a wonderful gateway drug of goofy fantasy in the dubbed form, although a couple of the voices can grate…..

              SuburbanBanshee and Nate Winchester, as well as MedievalOtaku, all have some good anime or manga reviews– SB frequently links to where you can find it, and MO does some really amazingly in-depth reviews about what exactly he liked or didn’t, and why.

              1. *waves* Me too! I have a separate anime blog on mee.nu! I’m not as thorough and methodical as some anime bloggers, and I don’t ALWAYS load up on screen captures, but when I do, I mix serious, spoiler laden summaries with humorous captions.

            2. Oh, very yes, please. Some time back I dabbled at the very edges with some U.S. popular titles, but never jumped in.

              I’d be interested from the storytelling perspective, approaches and perspectives and whatnot.

        1. Hamtaro is definitely not “All about sex.”

          (Since it’s one of the few anime I’ve seen that actually is a kids show…)

          1. Usagi Drop is about a single, workaholic male who suddenly becomes a dad. It’s a heartwarming anime & no sex – plenty of becoming an adult & taking care of family, though.

          2. Exactly what I linked to in response to the “all anime is infused with pedophilia” claim.

            I really have had folks claim that anime is all really, really strange pr0n, though. The really embarrassing one was an aunt who claimed that after half an hour of listening to my husband and a couple of cousins chatter about favorite shows to watch with the kids. Being me, I pulled out this disgustingly adorable anime where all the cats are tiny people who dress very pretty, and the main character is a magical princess, had it to distract the kids… she’s still pissed at me for “embarrassing” her, when she’s the one that publicly accused my husband of watching dirty movies.

            1. Weren’t you and (maybe) your husband not stationed in Japan at some point? Might that not lend you an expertise not found in those Stateside?

              People don’t want to be embarrassed, they shouldn’t chew on the shoe-leather so hard.

              Note, I’m familiar with the taste of sole but I try to not to get upset when people offer me some seasoning and I work pretty hard to leave grudges aside.

              1. Even if we hadn’t been in Japan, they’d just spent a lot of time talking about dozens of shows. Small talk at… I can’t remember if that was a reunion or a wedding. (Haven’t been any funerals post-Princess)

                Oh well, her being mad at me at least means that she doesn’t spend time “helping,” although it puts me at risk of a tearful making-up at some point. (Some of the aunts that married in have a very active emotional life, 90% of which is in their own head.)

  7. Someone like me? Long ago, I figured out that someone exactly like me only does useful (interesting) things in a very narrow range of setting and circumstance.

    The exact area depends on who is being inserted or self-inserted, but if one is limits oneself to only that sort of character, one is fishing for stories in a far smaller pond. It makes it much harder to hook things.

    As a reader, I want characters to engage me. I want their decision making to match the rest of the story. Do they flail around uselessly? Do they get things done? Make it interesting.

    When I was young, and hadn’t studied enough to know my elbow from my rear, I didn’t find STEM interesting because of depictions of people who didn’t know their elbow from their rear. I was interested specifically because of people who were better than me at certain things.

  8. People DO want a character they can identify with. However, that can either be someone who has (some) traits like them, or it can be someone who has traits like they WANT to have.

    The problem that comes into play with the SJWs come from a few things:
    1) They mostly have been coddled and entertained all their lives. They never had to entertain themselves, so they never developed their imaginations.
    2) They have been trained so long to pigeonhole people by their classifications, that they can’t imagine themselves as anything BUT exactly their own pigeon hole.
    3) They have been trained so hard that the imaginary ’50s culture they are fighting against is specially constructed to force everyone into cookie-cutter molds of conformity (hypocrisy, thy name is SJW!), that if someone doesn’t act exactly the way they think they should act, then they’re just a result of the monoculture forcing them to act that way.

    1. That’s what I meant. You can identify with different parts of different characters and a competent writer can make you see yourself in a character that is not really like you. But that has nothing to do with being the same color/handicap/preference.

      1. What they’re really saying is that they can only identify with people of the same race/sex/orientation/religion as themselves.

        There’s a word for that . . .

      2. Eh, could have gone either way, the way I read it (ymmv), but so many times, when I think I know what someone else is saying, and I’m wrong, I thought I’d restate it my own way.


    2. …or it can be someone who has traits like they WANT to have.

      All my primary characters are better people than I. They’re not perfect (blech) or anywhere near, but they’re better than me. They’re occasionally discomfiting to write, but I do hope they’re interesting to read.

      If I wanted to read about people exactly like me (in all the silly superficial details currently in vogue) I’d write my autobiography, load it on my Kindle and save all kinds of money.


      1. They’re not perfect (blech) or anywhere near, but they’re better than me.

        All too often, I see folks say a character is “perfect” when they mean “they’re better than me in some way that makes me feel bad.”

        1. Once took an online quiz that concluded I was Lawful Good and proceeded to describe the alignment in terms of bile and poison.

              1. All Lawful Good characters are what now? Clearly, this person making such accusations never met old naval flight officers, or test pilots, or some of the more interesting live wires among the police profession, at least half the gunblogging community, retired sergeants of any service, or my husband…

                That’s a failure of experience and lack of imagination, right there.

                  1. Yeah, internet quizzes. *shakes head*

                    I’ve had party members back in college who believed the same thing. Which led to “You’re being chaotic evil again! You can’t do that!” “Nope! This is still following the spirit of the law, for the forces of good! And just watch me…”

                    (The unspoken rule of gaming: If you make the DM/GM/Storyteller laugh, your plan is likely to succeed.)

                    1. At one point I said “screw it” and made myself a cleric of Natural Law. (Eberron, back when it was rather new, for anybody wondering.)

                      And brought in a couple of books on the matter.

                      Nobody argued with me twice…. *grin*

                    2. Yeah. One problem with the Law-Chaos axis is that they conflated whether the character believes that the universe is orderly, to what extent he deems society to have authority, and how orderly his life is into ONE trati.

                1. It’s a really circular thing based on an inability to understand “good” and “lawful” as a philosophy….. heck, they don’t even understand “evil.”

                  They insist that good must be stupid or it isn’t “really” good, and then mock good for being stupid.

                  As me beloved Vimes motivational poster says, “this is how you play lawful good, you ******.”

                  1. In this case, it was just “I hate you because you are better than me.”

                    Mind you, the bar must have been pretty low since I passed it.

                    1. Exactly. We were mostly in reference to the “goody two shoes” kind of character. I’m the DM for our group and I’m a little more lax on my enforcement of alignments.
                      This is shown by the half-orc fighter we once had who wrote his alignment as “Good Enough”.

                    2. depending on the DM my character’s alignments fall into the CN-N-NG-NE range. The smart DMs who know me allow my Arduin Grimoire alignment Amoral

                    3. We did away with alignments and went to characters model of; Characters had to have a past, they had to have at least one long term goal, and current motivations that could be as simple as sleep with bar maid.

                    4. “This is shown by the half-orc fighter we once had who wrote his alignment as “Good Enough””

                      Haley’s alignment was originally Chaotic Good(ish). She’s perhaps improved under Elan’s influence. (That’s what she loves him for.)

                    5. Good Enough? *chuckle*

                      I was roped into playing a rogue in one not-so-long-ago pickup game. Height? Stumpy. Weight? three beers. Alignment? DILIGAF? Deity? Me!

                      DM took about ten minutes to stop laughing, and then approved.

        2. (Nods) A lot of people have that complaint about Lucy from The Chronicles of Narnia. A complaint that might have some justification from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, but makes no sense by the end of Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

          1. They are just jealous because she got both the healing potion and the dagger. But she was the littlest member of the party and had the lesst experience points, so of course Aslan was trying to keep her alive.

  9. I’m not sure what a carp duck is, but it sounds dangerous. And I’m going to now shoot for the next order of moritude in my engineering calculations.

            1. But turkeys don’t duck. Just like ducks don’t turkey. Though both have been known to swan off.

            1. Makers Mark for taste, sure, but Wild Turkey will surely undoubtedly get the party started. Last time I bought shots of Turkey, one of my best friends met his wife. (They are still married twenty years on)

    1. Carp ducks aren’t as much of a problem as some make them out to be. It’s the bass goose that will get you in trouble with con security.

        1. A little bit. But you really have to watch out for the bombing runs by a brass goose. They’ll knock you right out.

  10. I think you and Paul hit the nail on the head yesterday when you pointed out that SJW don’t want characters who are people first and [whatever] second. They want the [whatever] point out front and center, and when they don’t get it, they think [whatever] is being slighted, Ironically, if they would just read SF/F, they would probably find precisely what they claim isn’t there, written by those they claim isn’t writing it, just not in the form of preachy Mary Sue stories they think they want.

    1. Unless the handicap, sexual orientation or skin color or whatever gets pointed out at least once every chapter it’s not really there (and I’m probably being generous, most likely the whole point of the story should be that handicap, sexual orientation or skin color or whatever, that and the problems it gives to the protagonist) (it is always problems, it seems, except maybe in the very end when it suddenly turns to an advantage or at least ceases to matter because).

      1. Amazon sent an email to me of upcoming trad-pub SF books. The first 5 I clicked all told me right up front in the blurb that the protagonist was in A Gay Marriage (except the Lesbian Who Was Divorced From Her Female Partner), and the last was “humans are plotting to kill the benevolent and benign space aliens!”

        No small wonder my last purchases were TxRed and MCA Hogarth.

        1. The “new sci fi” shelves at Ye Regional B&N are almost as bad. There’s some Baen to leaven the loaf, but not enough.

          Hogarth is in my TBR file (since the Kindle doesn’t exactly have a stack).

    2. My first thought on Sarah’s post was …SJWs what rock are they living under?
      While I loved the Tom Swift Jr. stories, I also read all of the Trixie Belden books. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle; Podkayne of Mars and Friday; The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents technically had a ‘boy’, but he is third billing after the Cat and Rats. As Sarah mentioned yesterday Tiffany Aching (although I identify best with Rob Anybody of all the cast of characters). Except for Tom Swift, all of those had a ‘gurl’ as the protagonist.
      More current, I’ve been reading Christopher Nuttall’s Schooled in Magic series and just started his Royal Sorceress set. All of these feature 16-18 year old females as the protagonist. While I have to confess that I can’t imagine myself as a 16 year old girl, I certainly had enough imagination to identify with the main characters.
      Then there are Ann McCafery’s Pern Series; Lissa, Queen Rider is certainly an actualized woman, and there is even the Harper series two of which feature young Melony at the lead.
      Please don’t make me mention Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness, but for the SJWs looking for kinky gender constructs, it is certainly tops.
      I would also have mentioned Space Cat and the Kittens, but with the other posts about furry types, I was afraid to mention it.

  11. Setting aside the wish fulfillment and escapist parts of fantasy, one question becomes “how do you set your self identity?”

    If your self identity is built around superficial group membership, such as “your skin color” or “who you want to have sex with”, then of course you’re going to have problems relating to others. The problem is that the SJW types, while superficially lauding diversity, have not actually moved past seeing people as members of superficial groups.

    My IT co-workers have come in an amazing variety of ethnicities and backgrounds, and the one that I felt the least connection to was the one with the closest superficial group membership because he was the least techie, the least geek, the least Odd.

    In a story it’s not “is this person the same skin color?” but “does this person think like I do? Does this person solve problems with their mind? What do they value?”. (The wish fulfillment and escapist parts are even easier: “I want to think of myself as a hero. Is this person heroic?”)

      1. There is the problem with the designated hero syndrome, especially when the ‘hero’ and the story was created with too much focus on being PC. I also want to cheer for the most ‘awesome’ character; a clever, smart, brave or honorable villain (especially if ‘evil’ instead of truly evil) may be more awesome than the hero. Darth Vader is awesome. (Anakin Skywalker, not so much).

        1. Oh, Anakin Skywalker is awesome. It’s Hayden Christensen that is lamer than a three-legged horse.

  12. Wanna hear a funny story? I like to tell funny stories? I thought you might.

    Once upon a time I was locked in a seminar room with fifteen SJWs. The prof in the class, one Professor Faue, looked at all of us and said: “Science Fiction is totally dominated by rightists. There are all sexist. There are no strong female characters…”

    Then I cut in. “Oh really? So how would you describe Honor Harrington? Rachel Abrabanel? Cally O’Neal? Catniss Everdeen? Soz Skolia? And why would all of the female authors in Sci Fi only write male characters?

    Professor Faue was obviously NOT catching on. “There ARE NO female science fiction writers.”

    Oops. Her bad.

    My response was epic. “Really? Then you need to go tell Catherine Asaro I want my money back. Sarah Hoyt too. And Stephanie Meyers. Oh, and tell JK Rowling to give back her billion because she obviously didn’t write that either.”

    Yes, I know that Harry Potter is fantasy and not SF but those libtards didn’t. The sound of silence was deafening. Being historians they asked me to document the fact that I had, indeed, read the authors I claimed. Unfortunately for them, I had my laptop there and pulled up a website I was on at the time where I had posted photos of my basement in the “Show us those collections” section. That was fun too.

    1. I remember a discussion on L. Jagi Lamplighter’s blog in which a SJW — not yet known by that name, it was several years ago — tried to get us all to admit to racism. The problem was, all the arguments were so vacuous that they worked just as well if you used them to argue for the existence of invisible pink unicorns. As in an explicit request that we acknowledge the existence of racism in the abstract, independent of any concrete examples.

        1. The tactic I really hate is when someone accuses you of something, and when you deny it, they point to that and say, “You’re in denial! That proves it!”

          Was one of the times I came closest to killing someone.

            1. Thanks. I have a hard time distinguishing different kinds of arguments and speaking/writing forms and labeling them correctly. I really should take some time to look up “question-and-answer” rules that I can apply to such things.

    2. “There ARE NO female science fiction writers.”


      Oh wait, she was serious. Damn.

      1. To quote John C. Wright:

        QUESTION TWO: Aren’t there plenty of female authors, well respected in the field, who write science fiction way better than anything you’ll ever hope to write, like Connie Willis?

        ANSWER: Sorry. I didn’t hear the question. I was distracted by the space-babe on the cover of January 1959 issue of THRILLING SPACE WONDER STORIES. She is being menaced by a tentacled monster. How I wish I had a raygun! I’d blast that creep to atoms! Anyway, I only read stuff written by guys, like C.L. Moore, Andre Norton, and Leigh Brackett, Tanith Lee, and James Tiptree, Jr. I wish I had met C.L. Moore! I love his Northwest Smith stories. He really captures the brooding manliness of the real brawny spaceman hero! None of that girly stuff for an author like him!

    3. I wonder how Zombie Mary Shelley would react to the charge that women don’t write science fiction?

      1. I’ve wondered that myself. It still wasn’t as much fun as imagining Prof Faue looking at Elizabeth Winton and telling her she was weak.

            1. She’d only be laughing until her treecat told her this person actually thought this nonsense it was spouting was true…. in which case we might find out if Manticore has insane asylums…. 😎

              1. If you will remember White Haven’s opponents you will remember that this particular type on lunacy is alive and well on Manticore

                1. White Haven’s opponents especially the Liberal Party were economic communists and pacifist to an insane level, but I don’t remember intersectional feminism being a thing, mostly because women had been allowed to do anything they had the skills for.

          1. OH, I’d arrange for the prof to be put in cryosleep on a ship aimed for Manticore, and paced to arrive at the correct time. just sayin.

    4. Princess-fragging-LEIA, who risked her own life for others at every turn? Oh guess she’s not a ‘strong woman character’ because she actually associated herself with the mens, and needed to be rescued a couple times (once while trying to rescue her ‘strong male’ paramour)

  13. Never forget that the true purpose of the SJW is to create a lever by which they can manipulate institutions into giving them unearned influence.

    Accordingly, the goal isn’t to get more SF/F works published but less works published with themselves as annointed gatekeepers.

      1. Lighter fluid is too volitile. It might evaporate fast enough that they would not get burned. Jellied gasoline is the stuff.

                1. “Napalm, Napalm, sticks like glue,
                  Sticks to SJW’s too!”

                  “Napalm, Napalm, sticks like glue,
                  Sticks to women and children too.”

                  Why, yes, I am a misanthrope, and a filker. Be afraid.

        1. Mix gasoline or kerosene with plain gelatine powder. You can paint pretty blue pictures with it.

          1. *waves at Fed the Fred* All this is, of course, purely speculative and for literary research purposes. Do not try any of this blog at home, do not use this blog in any way that might violate the laws of your galaxy, planet, star-system, country, state, province, county, or parish (if you are in Louisiana). Always read and follow the manufacturer’s directions, and do not remove the blog’s tag unless you are the final purchaser.

            1. Well, back when I was a kid and we did it in science class, we just mixed the powder in with the kerosene until it was a paste. We spread it on a painted concrete block wall. It burned at such a low temperature that it didn’t even bubble the paint, if I remember correctly. That was sort of the point of the experiment – to show how things burn at different temperatures.
              Good times.

  14. My most enjoyable reads were stories about strange and heroic figures whom I could sympathize with. Their doubts, their ordeals, and their causes, told honestly and directly, pulled me into their world and had me rooting for them.

    That’s what makes good fiction.

  15. Kind of like the story of alternate world where we’re at war with shape-shifting dragons. Not like us, and I almost guarantee there won’t be anyone who checks the boxes – race, creed, etc – for many of you. But I understand ya’ll still want to read it (right?)

    I’m just going to pause in my blog reading for a moment, so that I might craft the appropriate response:


    Back to the blog.

  16. “I almost guarantee there won’t be anyone who checks the boxes – race, creed, etc – for many of you.”

    I dunno, Sarah. Unless there’s a thirty-something Ukrainian-Canadian libertarian librarian agnostic who wears glasses, I don’t think I’m comfortable spending money on this.

    1. I had that guy in a short story — had to kill him (tearful moment of drama).

      Can I still have your money?

      1. Was a good, manly death? Or a pants-wetting screaming-for-his-mother kind of death?

        1. Very manly.

          No way to know if there was pants-wetting, what with all the blood.

          There was some screaming, more incoherent than “for-his-mother” and a bit hoarse towards the end, but I really feel like it was manly screaming.

          To be fair, Leonidas would let loose with the agony if somebody did that to him.

          Well, okay, it was more of a “recoil in mind-numbing horror” moment than “tearful drama.” But there were tears later. Especially when they realized the librarian had the key, and the banishing spell was written entirely in Ukrainian-Canadian. In really small type.

        2. Well, if the story was written for SJWs, probably the latter so they could identify with it.

  17. Having to protagonist have to be “just like me” (with “just like me” translating as neurotic, angst filled, and morally confused) has ruined modern superhero comics and movies. (Exhibit A: “Man of Steel”).

    Nobody in the commercial (SJ influenced) mainstream seems to know how to write aspirational characters anymore.

    1. Aristotle observed a long time ago that we like characters who are like us, or a little bit better. (Which included more than the moral, but did include the moral.)

      Perhaps those protagonists are aspirational for them.

    1. ID? Arms?

      You can’t just leave an open-ended command like that laying around. There’s things here, things in the corners and under the shadows — things that take advantage…

      1. *Picks up a piece of paper with the word “ADVANTAGE” printed on it.

        “Huh? Uh, no, I wasn’t going to take this.”

  18. “Anyway, perhaps some people are so devoid of imagination that they need to put themselves, exactly themselves, in a character’s place. As in, they can’t even dream their own Mary Sue dreams but need someone to write them for them.”

    Have you ever read C.S. Lewis’s An Experiment in Criticism?

  19. I know what you were thinking when our hostess mentioned Jack London. Kids adventure and ludicrous Communist SF, a few good things like “To Build a Fire.” But I’ll always be grateful that Sarah recommended I read London’s story “The Apostate.” It’s on line at several different locations, check it out. I still find it hard to believe London wrote a masterpiece like “The Apostate” in the middle of his other stuff.

  20. It’s probly just me, but I would never want to read about a character just like me; I’m too lazy and blah, who wants to read that? I suppose the closest to that I’ve read was Kiti Lappi’s Fourth Sword, in which the depressed unmotivated middle-aged woman gets to start over as a warrior … I liked that character, but she didn’t wallow in her faults so she was able to grow out of them.

    I guess if a person thought they themselves were the bee’s knees, they might want to read about themselves. Pretty darn arrogant …

    1. I’m guessing people who want to only read about people just like them, also enjoy spending time looking in the mirror.
      I would get bored.

    2. I just flashed to that part in “The Never Ending Story” where the kid is reading the story about him reading the story.


  21. I’m not certain even Amazon KDP would accept fiction written about someone like me. Talk about dullsville.

    And we’ve got about 13″ of snow on the ground. The sun is kinda shining through the clouds, and a bit of leftover snow is fluttering down. I invited the cat to help me shovel the walk, and she gave me the middle claw. So much for domestication.

    1. Honestly, if you live someplace where you get that much snow, can I recommend a snow-blower? I mean, they’re kind of expensive, but they’re quicker and easier. They also burn fossil fuel so it’ll “contribute to global warming” and you may not have to worry about snow next year.

      1. We only get about three or four snows that stick per year, and most of those are four to six inches. And I don’t have that much pave to contend with, so a snow-blower’s not really worth it. If I was back in the Midwest, oh yeah. A big one, with the detachable clear plastic curtains to keep it from blowing back on me, heated grab handle, the works.

        1. Meh, our snow-blower’s a pain and a half. It’s easier to break out the boys. By the time we’ve figured out why the cussed machine won’t start in the first place the boys have the snow cleared and are clamoring for cocoa.
          May I suggest you obtain some boys? They do require a certain amount of training and occasional threats (no electronics until the driveway is clear!) to operate, but are largely self-motivated after appropriate carrots and sticks have been offered.

      1. Amarillo area. I love it – the only time my friends from the coasts call is when we’ve been on the Weather Channel. “Are you alright?!? We saw Amarillo on TV and they said that you’re buried in snow!” Not exactly.

  22. Ursula LeGuin could not be reached for comment.

    It constantly amazes me just how much of the stuff that the SJWs are demanding or are claiming is new and bold and different was done by LeGuin decades ago.

  23. There are authors from the “SJW” viewpoint – and I cannot stand their dreck. Then there are authors from the “Left Wing” viewpoint – and I can’t throw enough money at them. (I don’t recall any character – a human one, anyway – who is more “unlike me” than a boss of a United Mine Workers Local.)

  24. Hey, this might make sense if you also believe that “girls who dress up as Robin Hood for Halloween are “really” boys” thing!

  25. I am shocked to the core. I thought there were an almost infinite number of 4’10” Picts, so tattooed as to appear blue to identify with PI Bolg. And he’s so PC too.

  26. So, this is just a little off topic (and all about me) ahem… but I figure that you all are some of the few in the world that will truly understand. Sarah mentioned characters that a reader can identify with… so… I got the *best* complement from my folks! I had my kids make cover art and I printed up two of my short stories and I made little books and added to Christmas boxes. So today I was talking to my mom on the phone and she brought up that she’d read them, and read them over again because the science-fiction part threw her the first time, and my dad read them, and she thought they ought to be assigned to high school kids for reading *because I understood human nature so well*, and then she said that Dad said the same thing, that “yes, she’s always been that way, even when she was a kid.” And I thought… dang… I think that’s the best compliment I’ve gotten, and it’s always sort of chancy when family reads your stories.

    (She also said that Dave’s book was great and she liked reading about the way people were that reminded her so much of living in a small town.)

    Also, somewhat apropos to the subject of “characters like me” I’d made “joke” legal statements to print in the front of my booklets and rather amused myself with… ” This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to read persons, living or dead, or to real wizards or dragons or alien fox-eared people is inadvertent and furthermore is entirely absurd.”

    1. You know your parents love you. You know that they are proud of you, if possibly puzzled. And then one day they say something that absolutely floors you. That shows that they know you and respect you. This is why it is crucial to keep the lines of communication open, at least with the people who stood as Mother and Father to you. If it’s a case of gene donors vs volunteer Parents, screw the gene donors.

      My Father was the adopted son of a Methodist Minister, whom he deeply respected. A month or two before he died, we were arguing (we liked to argue) and I convinced him that his position was wrong. He told me I reminded him of his Father.

      I’m gonna treasure that until I die.

        1. I’m lucky in that my gene-donors and my parents were the same people, and I made friends with them before it was too late. It helped that I’m third generation Odd. On both sides.

          My Lady was/is afflicted with a birth-mother possessed of the maternal instincts of a brick. Fortunately she is also blessed with a step-mother who might as well be a Fairy Godmother … only, frankly, much more sensible.

          Her Father was a good man, and loved her, but understood her about as well as I understand Quantum Physics.

          1. Don’t get me wrong, my parents were wonderful people, and I respected them, especially my father, an enormous amount. It’s just that I was the cuckoo chick that showed up in their nest.

            The level of understanding is mutual, though. Using your example: Quantum Physics is easy for me. People, not so much.

            1. Whereas I feel that I understand people all too well, but anything that needs mathematical talent gets me out of my depth fast.

              My Father had the same problem; got two degrees in Physics in spite of not having the right kind of imagination (WWII was on, which kinda locked him in, and then he was obligated by the terms of his deal with the War Department to get his Masters). Lucked into line of the first programs in History of Science in the 1950’s and never looked back. Would have been a mediocre Physicist at best. Was one of the top men in his field in History of Science and Technology.

              I “get” history. I appreciate games like Go that are, at base, math and strategy, but I can’t play them worth a damn. I see the elegance. I can’t make it work.


    1. ‘S OK. You can see what damage the third shift did to the bar. They were just supposed to put the bottles back in order, but, well . . .

      1. Hmmm… As I’ve been putting in some overtime at work, I can say none of the this mess is mine.


            1. Don’t look at the thermos. It was bad enough when they started using caffienated water, and then when they went on to mix the resulting coffee with a supersaturation of tang, but what happened next…

              Isn’t that supposed to be either in a lead-lined vault or in orbit?

  27. TXRed and someone else (I gotta run out to the car and get to work or I’d look to see if I can find who) mentioned reading old letters that had the lines crossed? This is something that I read all the time in Historical Romance when someone is writing a letter but I’ve never been able to imagine what that *means*. And here I thought… Hey! They probably KNOW! So, if someone could describe what crossing one’s lines, or sentences, or whatever means *exactly* that would be awesome. Also, I thought if someone knows that they’d also know what “twisted into a screw” meant… I keep thinking that people can’t be actually twisting paper into a twist, but it must be, right, but how does that make sense?

      1. My, that is headache inducing.

        Once again, another reason to add to the (long) list of why I’m so terribly happy to be living now and not in the idyllic past. I’ve got so much stray paper lying about my desk at the moment I could probably freehand a novella on single-sided pages. No contemplation of crossing necessary.

        1. Yep, it’s headache-inducing to decipher an old cross-written letter – especially of the writer had bad handwriting. Which quite a few did.

      2. Fascinating! I never knew about this practice. Makes sense if you have to pay by the sheet. Probably gets easier to read with a little practice.

    1. Cross writing came about to save paper and postage. Like the examples above show, you write left-to-right, then rotate the paper 90 degrees and keep writing. Then you turn the page over and start again. Depending on how large people write, and how good their writing was (and how much ink bled) it can be kinda easy to read, or miserable to decipher.

      In the contexts I’ve read it in, twisting a screw of paper means making a cone of paper with the bottom tight twisted (so it doesn’t leak), pouring in what you want to hold (usually powder of some sort, like a medicine or sugar), then twisting the top closed.

      1. Or gun powder. At least, that’s what I’ve mostly known it for. (Maybe because I read so mush Baen.)

  28. My bad Sarah. I did miss that. I could’ve sworn that it was on your page and not the Diner. Oops.

      1. Oof. Well please accept my abject apologies. I ummm…

        Yeah, no excuse.

        Mea maxima culpa.

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