The difference between message fiction and fiction with a message By Tom Knighton

*I have a slightly different take, or at least a better way of explaining the difference — I think — but I’ll use Tom’s as a jumping off point and explain tomorrow.- SAH*

The difference between message fiction and fiction with a message

By Tom Knighton

With this whole Hugo situation, once again we find ourselves embroiled in a discussion of “message fiction”. For better or worse, this discussion will never die, despite the numerous times we have said that having a message is fine, just don’t let it overpower the story. You see, this isn’t clear enough for some people. Either their mental processing abilities are deficient, or they’re simply incapable of understanding that we’re not trying to stamp out their books.

 

So, let’s start with two different terms to differentiate between the two types. Generally, I use “message fiction” and “fiction with a message”. Yes, there is a difference between the two, and it’s worth serious discussion and, I hope, even people who abhor my own political leanings will see the wisdom of what I will discuss.

 

First, message fiction. You see, message fiction is where the message is all important. The fiction is nothing but a vehicle to turn the idea into a novel rather than a non-fiction book that even fewer people will read. Some may enjoy it, but doing message fiction and making it enjoyable requires great skill that few people have ever mastered.

 

On the other hand, fiction with a message is work where the message is there as part of the story, but is not the overpowering factor it is in message fiction. For example, let’s say you wish to convey an anti-sexist message, but don’t want message fiction. You could create a strong, independent woman who faces sexism in her interactions with some folks while maintaining a realistic setting where some of the sexists are fellow women and some of your protagonists are strong, capable men who take no issue with her sex.

 

Maybe some real world examples could help illustrate this concept.

 

Atlas Shrugged may well be the most successful piece of message fiction ever written. I’m a fan, and I’ll admit it’s message fiction. The whole story of Dagny Taggert, Hank Reardon, and John Galt is nothing more than a way for Ayn Rand to convey her Objectivist philosophy in a more digestible format than a long non-fiction work would. While the story is good, the message is the driving force throughout.

 

By contrast, some have recently held up Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers as message fiction, with which I disagree. While Heinlein may have felt it had a strong message, there is an important difference. You see, the story isn’t about the message. The story is about Juan Rico and everything he goes through during the war with the Arachnids, including losing his home and family (he thinks, at the time).

 

The litmus test that will tell you whether you’re dealing with message fiction or fiction with a message is simple. Would maintaining a position completely opposite from the perceived message eliminate the ability to enjoy the book?

Now, there’s a very important word there, and that’s “perceived”. It’s always amused me the number of left leaning individuals who report that they absolutely adore Atlas Shrugged, and that’s because so many of them completely miss the message as Rand intended it. She opposed almost everything some of these people advocate for, but that’s not what they got. They perceived the message to be something else, so they enjoy the book.

 

However, if these people recognized the message as something the opposite of what they stood for, would they enjoy it? Of course not. They’d argue about the silliness of the message and maybe argue that while Rand was a skilled writer, she was completely bonkers for whatever reason. They wouldn’t like the book though.

 

Let’s contrast that with Starship Troopers. Is it possible to love the book while absolutely abhorring the message? Yes. In fact, when I read it, I opposed the message about as vehemently as you could, and I absolutely loved the book. That was because acceptance of the message wasn’t necessary to become invested in the characters and what they were going through.

 

It’s important to note a few things for the sake of completeness. First, it’s entirely possible to agree with a book’s message and still think the book blows. Trust me, I’ve found more than a few in my day. Bad writing is bad writing, for one thing. For another, message fiction is, generally, boring. It’s hard to do well enough to be entertaining, even for people who agree with you.

 

Also, just because you hate a book with a message you disagree with doesn’t mean its message fiction. Again, bad writing is bad writing, so that could be the issue. For another, if the story just doesn’t appeal to you, then it’s not going to appeal to you. The question is then, could someone else enjoy it?

 

I’m not saying this litmus test is easy to apply, but I think it’s important to try and be as objective as possible when trying to determine which is which. I do think it’s an important distinction that needs to be made. We will never purge the desire to impart messages in fiction from people, and to some extent, that’s not a bad thing. Uncle Tom’s Cabin, for example, was pivotal is ending slavery. The works of Charles Dickens did wonders in reforming how society dealt with the poor. Messages in fiction have their place from time to time.

 

Even preachy message fiction has its place from time to time. However, it would be nice if we knew which was which going in.

 

Now, for some shameless self promotion. If you like this, you may like some of what you find over at my blog: http://tlknighton.com

 

If you really like it, check out my Amazon author’s page and spend some of your hard earned money on books that don’t have a message but have some fun action.

244 responses to “The difference between message fiction and fiction with a message By Tom Knighton

  1. Now I’m tempted to write a piece of pure message fiction.
    I just need a good message, how does “Eat at Joe’s” strike everyone?

    🙂

    • That would be hilarious.

    • I dunno — does Joe cater gay weddings?

    • The Other Sean

      Joe’s was the best place to eat. Everybody ate at Joe’s. Which is why the hero and the villain came to be sitting next to one another. Every booth and table was taken, so only the few seats at the counter remained available. An uneasy peace pervaded Joe’s, for the patrons recognized them, and feared their conflict would burst forth as they dined.

      Alas, such was not to be. For while the villain’s targets sat in one booth, so to did a pair of local cops, eating their midshift meal. And the hero, of course. Everybody eats at Joe’s.

    • Joe is a hateful misogynistic racist because reasons!

      • He won’t cater martian hermaphrodite ten group bonding ceremonies. He says he can’t cook Grlar or serve Tcccar. Joe is a slug.

          • What happened was that everything in the world started to melt like a painting from Dali. People died horribly all over the world, trapped in skyscrapers that suddenly turned into puddles. Entire forests and deserts melted, and the screams of innocent bunnies and gila lizards filled the land.

            I was lucky enough to be out in the open, but I didn’t even try to save the 78 year old handicapped lady whose wheelchair was stuck in a rut on the edge of my open area. I was safe, and I was too busy angsting to think about her. Also, there was a cute biracial Martian guy smiling at me, which was much more important than sisterhood. Maybe I could get some end of the world sex.

            Truth was, It was all her fault. I’d told her there was no tuna melt like the one at Joe’s, and the old witch hadn’t believed me. She’d insisted on trying to cast the spell after fueling herself with an inferior product from Subway’s, and just look what happened.

            • Please tell me this is an allusion to “The Day the World Turned Upside Down” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt, and not the year’s best coincidence. I salute you.

              • I am alluding to Heuvelt’s tale. I would also be alluding to last year’s winner about the rain that falls on you from above, except that I couldn’t figure out how to include Wedding Banquet fanfic.

              • Oh jeez, I just read a bit of that today. I feel dumber for having done so. I predict his next work will be a novelization of “The Floor is Lava!”

                • I wouldn’t call it Science Fiction. Fantasy, maybe. Relationship fantasy. I see a connection with the Dinosaur Revenge sub-genre 🙂

                  • It’s completely unfair to compare either the Upside Down story or the Water Falls story to the Dino story. The first two both are both actually stories and both contain actual fantasy elements, thereby qualifying as fantasy stories. Upside Down is terrible, but it is an actual story.

                    I though the Water Falls story was reasonably good. It’s likely that it was plucked from obscurity for political reasons, but the story should be considered on its own merit. It’s frustrating that reasonably good is sufficient for a Hugo.

                • Professor Badness

                  Indeed!

        • Slugophobe!

    • Three door on the left if you head down the Transdimensional Corridor. Assuming it’s not Tuesdays. . . .

      • Even numbers of Tuesdays. If there’s only one Tuesday attached, it’s fine– haven’t tested for multiple doors to the same Tuesday, yet.

    • It was the smell that caught me. I wasn’t hungry – well, I didn’t want to face another rat bar – until I walked into the greasy, smoky cloud of heavenly scent. After eight months of approved rations, hunger came alive and clawed my guts like a cornered madman. I staggered into the darkened door, swallowing compulsively.

      The building may have been typical lowtown shanty construction on the outside – half prefab, half native rock and mud slapped together, but the inside was made of gleaming tile and dark woods, polished stone and stainless polished mirror-bright. People were seated at tables all throughout a long room, and by a long counter that barricaded the rest of the room from a gleaming kitchen. I swallowed, and swallowed again, trying to remember the protocols for places like this.

      “Hey, hon. Welcome to Joe’s. Table or booth?” A woman approached me, holding a pad in one hand and a rag in the other. Her smile, if anything, grew broader as she stared at me. “First time here, huh?”

      “They… they said you couldn’t eat the native foods, and the terraforming isn’t advanced enough for… for meat.” I stopped, completely distracted by the sizzle as a chef slapped something on the stove. “I’ve got to be hallucinating…”

      “Oh, you poor thing. You’re with the scientists up at the Station, aren’t you?”
      “I’m an astrophysicist.” I looked back at her, and felt a blush rising. “They sent me down because the gravity…”

      “Yeah, you can’t take the micro-g too long, not on what you call a diet.” She nodded, and took my arm. “Booth for you. You’ll need to sit down.” Without any effort at all, she led me there. Resisting her would be like trying to shift the station’s spin, all by myself, or lift a shuttle to orbit. “Here, have a menu.”

      “A half-rack of ribs? How can you have pork all the wayout here? The cost of importing it from earth…”

      “You poor, confused thing. You actually believed the eggheads when they told you that we can’t eat the wildlife?”

      “But the neurotoxins…”

      “Are why brining was developed. Besides, we’ve got a perfectly good antidote worked into the barbeque sauce. Look, you can either slowly starve to death on your science, or you can eat at Joe’s.”

      My faith in humanity’s ingenuity was smoky, delicious, and so tender it fell off the bone, with a side of “greens” I didn’t ask too closely about.

    • Does Joe run a Greek diner in Colorado by any chance?

      • Ya know if anyone wanders in here, they’ll are going to call the asylum to report y’all’s escape.

        • And this is new how?

        • they’ll be tied up trying to figure out which one we are awol from

          • I had been told that this is an asylum, for the sane.

            • In the crazy years, if you had all your gaskets tight… Yeah.

              • The Middle East is about to undertake a nuclear arms race while radical extremists (I can’t quite make out their Faith, from here, but our Highly Enlightened president assures me they are extremists, so probably some branch of Christian TEA Partiers) are destroying ancient cultures — and for almost a week our news media obsessed over the question of whether a small Indiana pizzeria would effing cater a same-sex wedding? Without ever asking why anybody would turn to a pizza joint to cater their wedding when Dominoes, Poppa John’s and Pizza hut would probably fight over the right to provide the pizzas gratis as a publicity stunt!

                The world is a madhouse. Cops in Maryland are picking up kids for being unaccompanied by parent a couple blocks from home (they’d have had to haul in 90% of the kids in my home town back when I was a sprite — 8 of the other 10% they’d never have caught.) In New York the feds are insisting that roadwork flagpersons be paid construction union member wages (DC’s threats to New York work) and will raise our taxes to fund it. In California they are draining the water from the state during a drought. Nationally, we keep funding Head Start even though every single damn study demonstrates zero, nada, nichts, bupkis, nil, no benefit for kids — and we’re in the process of imposing Common Core which all available studies indicate provides not a single measurable improvement in kids’ educational achievement.

                Madness? This. Is. Modernity.

            • we are all Wonko the Sane

            • Professor Badness

              *Looks up from rifling through a box of back issue AtH.*
              Did someone say Asylum? Are they here yet?
              *Glances out a window, realizes it just shows the next room and goes in search of an exterior view.*

            • fontofworlds

              YES. An asylem for the sane. I can live with that. The patients run things, and try to heal the doctors.

  2. I think of it as putting a pill in the pudding. Message Fic is all pill, no pudding. Fiction Mit Message is yummy chocolate pudding with a pill hidden inside it; even if you spit out the pill you get the pudding.

    • A solid and simple way to describe it, actually.

    • Pill in the pudding? The way to do it is to make it one of the ingredients. You can’t paste onto your story the message that, say, forcing young people into marriages is bad; you have to show the young people’s pain and suffering, and the unjust and arrogant choices their parents make.

      • One of my cats — yes, it’s OT sort of — had an unerring ability to find the miniscule pill (or two halves of pills) in the tuna. And he’d always spit them on my desk chair, so I KNEW he’d found it and not taken it. I miss Pixel!

        • Our Irish wolfhounds have all been like that, except that they had a vast expanse of maw and lip to hide pills in, and they tended to find some sneaky place to spit them out. The only way to do it is to throw the pill on the back of their tongue, hold their muzzle closed, and massage their throat to make them swallow. And then you have to do a mouth search, just in case; because if it takes you more than five seconds to do all that, the pill ends up hidden. (Better to give the treat after the pill.)

          When they invented tasty medicated biscuits, that was a great advance. I wish all animal pills were like that.

          • We found that “back of the tongue/throat massage” trick worked with our cats, especially once we had the straight-jacket on ’em.


            As for the idea of tasty medicated biscuits … can’t come too soon for cats.

            • Our elderly rescue cat, Iris, loved the Greenies pill pockets in salmon flavor. It didn’t matter how large the pill, she’d wolf the pocket down so fast she never noticed.

              Given my not so fond memories of trying to pill Gaston (sit on floor, clamp cat in position, pry open mouth, pop in large red capsule, stroke throat, open mouth, check for capsule, pop in second large red capsule, stroke throat, open mouth, check for capsules, release cat, watch cat walk a few feet and ‘ptui!’ ‘ptui!’, two soggy capsules on the floor) these things are a God-send.

              • My aunt had a cat that took three adults , a large terry cloth towel, and blood drawn to get his penicillin down his throat. as soon as you grabbed him he started working up a froth to help expel the pill, and he was very strong. One of the times, he ripped through the towel that was wrapped around him several times. I managed to give him it once by my self by stuffing him head first into a heavy winter coat sleeve until his head popped out from the cuff. It only worked once. he ruined the coat the next time and managed to keep from getting stuffed into any sleeves from then on.

          • A tip: blow in their nose while stroking their throat, makes dogs (never tried it on a cat) that don’t want to swallow, swallow.

            • Ooh, that sounds interesting!

              And yeah, I have always wondered how one does it on cats, because claws are a more serious problem. Pill pockets, eh?

              • An assistant to hold the cat, a towel to wrap the cat with (to gently restrain the armed appendages), and fast reflexes (to get the pill in, then close the mouth and very lightly tap the nose or stroke the throat.) Followed by tuna, treats, beer, hugs, and other species-appropriate bribes for cat and assistant.

                • bandages, pick soggy pill fragments up from floor, get new towel (he destroyed one) try again after the bleeding stops. Well, slows down a bit.
                  He was rough to give pills. (see reply to Gryffon above)

                • My dog adores people food. I put his pill in Einstein’s Reduced Fat Vegetable cream cheese which he licks off my finger. He hates pill pockets. Cream cheese instead of cold cuts because he can’t spit the pill out of the sticky cream cheese. He won’t eat any other brand of cream cheese.

              • There are somewhat squishy and are shaped like the rubber bits on door stops. You mold them around the pill (so it doesn’t fall out), and then give it to the critter like any other treat. (I’ve seen them for dogs too, but rather larger, and a different flavor than salmon.) The only problem is that the pockets smell so good you have to drive off the other cats.

                My guinea pigs were so much easier, if only because smaller. I have no idea what they flavor the metacam for cats and dogs with, but the pigs love it. After the first dose you don’t even have to hold them, just wave the filled syringe by the bars, and make sure you give it to the correct piggie, since the entire herd comes.

    • Rob Crawford

      No, not pills in pudding. Peas in stew.

      My dad would make beef stew, a massive batch of it. We’d have beef stew all week, and eventually there would just be a little bit left. That little bit was put into the dog’s dish.

      The dog would eat it all, as well as the dog food it touched — except the peas. She’d carefully pick the peas out and spit them into a little pile.

      • Ah dogs. Once my landlady’s dog was begging while I ate blueberries. One bounced loose, the dog pounced — and moments later, having rejected the berry, went back to begging.

    • It’s a bell curve. At one end you have story without message (and I can’t honestly say I can see how that would work) and at the other message without story (which tends to be dry as hell). I think the realro with he SJWs is that all through life they are rewarded for message and not for story, so that is the part they are good at. But to sell a message to people who don’t already agree with you, you need the story to draw them in. And if you have never been criticized on the story frnt, you have never worked the story-muscles against any resistance, and they are flabby.

  3. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    Here’s a message for somebody to write about “Boring Is Bad”! [Wink]

    • Boring is in Oregon, too; other side of Portland, though.

    • Boring isn’t bad, it’s just hard to get the tool ground properly.

    • Saki “The Storyteller.”

      • Scheherazade might make the point more emphatically. For one thing, her tale emphasizes the importance of a young lady being well-read:

        “[Scheherazade] had perused the books, annals and legends of preceding Kings, and the stories, examples and instances of bygone men and things; indeed it was said that she had collected a thousand books of histories relating to antique races and departed rulers. She had perused the works of the poets and knew them by heart; she had studied philosophy and the sciences, arts and accomplishments; and she was pleasant and polite, wise and witty, well read and well bred.”
        Richard Burton (the original) as cited by Wikihttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQNymNaTr-Y
        Saki’s theme music is nowhere near as suite.

  4. See Eric Flint’s latest for an excellent look at how awards such as the Hugos get away from “a rattling good read” and concentrate more on extraneous factors such as hidden and not-so-hidden messages. I think he’s spot on.

    http://www.ericflint.net/index.php/2015/04/16/some-comments-on-the-hugos-and-other-sf-awards/

    • Doesn’t that make Eric a hateful right wing misogynist or something?

      I’m about to head out of the house, so I’ll have to read it later, but I’m sure someone who doesn’t know his politics will make the claim.

    • Thanks for the heads-up. I think Eric understates the degree to which the awards have been gamed but correctly identifies the structural problems that have allowed such gaming of them.

      One point I think he misses is the degree to which the greying of the fanbase has resulted in more folks who are casual fans of the genre. It isn’t simply that there are more works produced in a single year than almost anybody could read, it is also that so many of us have so much less time for such reading.

      The demise of the field’s dominance by such magazines as Analog and F&SF have further reduced the ability of fans to be aware of the significant works turned out in any given year. Even if you didn’t read the major novels it was likely that the reviews and LoC would hip you to the existence and general themes of any novel likely to be on the awards lists.

      • And trying to find Analog or Asimov’s or F&SF at the bookstore’s pretty much futile. It’s very hard to get people to buy something they don’t even know exists. (And the last time I got one, the blow-in subscription cards were advertising a year’s subscription at close to $60. Yeah… that’ll haul people in.)

      • wanderingmuses

        I’ve always wondered what a “casual fan” of anything actually is. If you have enough interest in anything to give it some of your precious time, aren’t you just a “fan”? Not being antagonistic here. Just pondering.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          There’s “fan” as you enjoy doing it/reading it.

          Then there’s “FAN” where it’s the most important thing in your life and “being a FAN” is more important than actually “doing it/reading it”.

          Mind you, like anything it’s more obvious in the extreme. [Smile]

        • “Fan” is short for “fanatic.”

          • “Short for” but not equivalent.

            Look at it using the trichotomy of Civil War reenactors.

            Casual = wears a period accurate uniform and carries suitable weaponry

            Rabid = wears period accurate underwear and glasses, carries weaponry accurate for the day and unit, packs their insulin in period accurate cold boxes

            Extreme = wears period accurate uniform etc, eschews insulin and refuses anesthesia during field surgery.

        • A “casual fan” is somebody who browses the SF/F section at the bookstore along with all the other sections. A “rabid fan” is somebody who heads straight for the SF/F section, browses it and looks at nothing else in the store.

          Rabid fans are more heavily invested in riding their hobby horse, try to make it a point to read everything (or at least all “significant” works) in the genre. When I first entered the field as a reader (late 1960s) I was a rabid fan, riding SF/F to the exclusion of all else and actively searching out the past “major” works in the genre. Life occupied more of my time and the SF/F being sold to me became less interesting, so I branched out into other genres and now view SF/F as “one of many restaurants I enjoy” as opposed to my most favoritest restaurant in the whole world.

          Approached from a different vector, a “casual fan” of baseball pays attention on Opening Day, the All-Star Game and starts checking the standings in September ti see who to root for in the World Series. The rabid baseball fan follows the sport year-round, closely observing and analyzing off-season moves and will even watch college and high school games scouting for upcoming talent.

          • Under that criteria, I’m a rabid fan just for the fact that I’m not interested in reading anything but SF/F, and haven’t been since my first reading of The Martian Chronicles. But I must be a lesser form of rabid because I’ve never been to a con and, truth be told, don’t figure I ever will.

            • Keep in mind that I am NOT the Keeper Of The Words (as many here will avow, I am a primary abuser of them) and any definitions I proffer are intended as mere examples for discussion purposes only.

              I might as easily have defined the terms as “you’re a casual fan if that’s what you think of yourself as, and a rabid one if that’s how you see yourself.” Attendance at SF/F cons is a whole ‘nother world having only tangential connection to SF/F fandom. There are, I daresay, many many fans who disdain con-going and many con-goers who don’t much like SF/F so much as they like a particular something within SF/F, be it Star Trek, Star Wars, Firefly, Dr. Who or whatever.

            • William O. B'Livion

              I’m pretty close to where Mr. Miller is, though I’ll read other stuff if there’s no new SF within reach.

              And I occasionally try to read non-fiction or philosophy.

          • I used to be your rabid fan – knew the way to the SF section in the dark. Now, I average 1 visit to a bookstore a year. Now what I do is visit Baen.com, look at the recommendations here, approach Scalzi’s Big Idea with a real sense of forboding but sometimes he comes through. Now a rabid fan is someone who has to keep removing books from his smartphone ‘cuz the memories filling up. I do not in any shape or form visit Tor.com

          • I contracted rabies about 15 years after I learned to read, and never recovered.

        • I use to be a casual raider– means that a lot of the fun is from ‘having fun,’ not being the best you could possibly be at it.

          Think like the difference between casual and hard core bowling leagues.

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          A casual fan of Kratman reads some of Kratman’s published work on occasion.

          A fan of Kratman read’s Kratman’s books.

          A true fan looks up the references and reads them.

          A dedicated fan also reads all snippets and story analysis before and after publication.

          An obsessive fan also follows every single internet argument, because he puts craftsmanship into those.

          A hardcore fan becomes an infantry officer to better understand the stories.

          Kratman’s biggest fan is going to get the Panama canal zone back, turn the DoD back into the Departments of War and Navy, and kill the most communists of anyone in history.

        • A “casual fan” for me would be somebody who once in a while reads a sci-fi novel as a diversion, but who generally reads other material for recreation.
          I’ve never done anything “fan” but have read speculative fiction (mostly sci-fi and alternate history) basically since I was a child — but the bulk of my recreational reading is nonfiction outside what I do for a living (physics and chemistry). Make that a “not-so-casual fan”?

          • I read anything, I usually prefer stories which at least have either a strong SF element in them, or strong F (including supernatural and ghost etc stuff so technically many of them would be also in other genres, like softer horror – I like happy endings, or at least sort of good endings so I’m not usually much into ‘and the monster wins’ endings so not much hard core horror, thanks – or ghost stories and so on). What exactly appeals to me at any given moment depends on how I’m feeling at the moment, and when it’s not ‘real’ SF/F or stories with those SF/F elements that usually means that I’m at least somewhat depressed, and then cozy mysteries are usually the most suitable mood elevators (if I manage to find something even halfway decent).

      • William O. B'Livion

        It isn’t simply that there are more works produced in a single year than almost anybody could read, it is also that so many of us have so much less time for such reading.

        That or just we’ve learned to pick our battles based on how important they are, and are fighting other fights right now.

        Which is sort of the same thing.

    • Quite a read, and comments from many of the current leading authors in the F&SF realm.
      Still, what I took away was Eric’s admission that for years now the Hugo and Nebula awards have been controlled by a small incestuous clique, and truly in the greater scheme of things have come to have about as much value as a pitcher of warm spit.
      The fact that the aforementioned clique and its supporters have been acting like a gaggle of poo flinging butt monkeys is simply more reason to mock them and heap ridicule about their heads and shoulders.

    • (sneaks up behind Pete and throws a capture net) “QUICK! Somebody call Dorothy and let her know I caught Pete so she can tie him to his chair in front of his computer again!” 🙂

      BTW, really enjoyed the last Maxwell book!

      • See my blog this weekend for a teaser view of the next book’s cover.

      • But… but… I was going to make him take me on a date to the botanical gardens! The dogwoods are in peak bloom!

        On the bright and shiny side, he’s getting really close finishing Laredo II, Forge A New Blade. We got the front cover done today. He’s still working on the ending, and I’m still working on the blurb (ad copy) for the book. Once he’s done, it’ll be off to the beta readers for review.

        • Oh, okay, I guess he can take you out on a date – keeping the wife happy is probably good for a writer’s productivity. I was just afraid he’d gotten loose and sneaked out again. Sorry, my bad. 🙂

          And I look forward to the new releases!

        • I think that’s under the proper care and upkeep aspect of it, isn’t it?

  5. A good example of fiction with a message from the left is “Dune”. Lots of leftist message in there, but a well written, enjoyable story regardless.

    • William O. B'Livion

      It was a racist (Eugenics, that’s what the Bene Gesseret were doing), elitist world where one man made himself God and took over the universe for a thousand years.

      Doesn’t sound contemporary leftist.

  6. See TV Tropes under “Anviicious” and “Author Filibuster”.

  7. As he did with many of his stories Heinlein told a captivating tale in his Starship Troopers, and served it up with a side of message, that a true citizen had a duty to earn their citizenship by service and commitment to the greater good.
    A two bit B movie director took the title, a few key elements, but not the best ones, from the book and turned the message 180 degrees about, that a totalitarian militaristic society was bad. Still, it had some killer special effects for the time and boob shots so it was quite popular in some circles.
    Guess it’s that whole eye of the beholder thing.

    • Starship Troopers may be the most misunderstood fiction book ever written.

      • Interestingly, both Starship Troopers and Ender’s Game were (possibly still are) on assigned reading lists at US military academies. And of course Heinlein fans all know about his giving the Forrestal memorial lecture at Annapolis — in which he touched on many of the same points as the philosophical bits in ST.

        •         But how many know that Heinlein regarded the basic element of Starship Troopers and Stranger in a Strange Land as being exactly the same?  For that matter, the basic element is the same in all four of Heinlein’s Hugo winning novels. ;-D

                  And yet, he put it right on the cover of one of those novels.

    • For a while I thought that someone had deliberately made a crappy movie out of the book in order to discredit the ideas Heinlein presented. Then I saw what they did to “Bicentennial Man” and “I, Robot” and realized that Hollywood just doesn’t have a bloody clue when it comes to science fiction.

      • It might be worth spending a “Free Day” post discussing the topic of whether any SF film has ever been good (Guys! Raquel Welch in skin-tight spandex does not qualify a work as “good SF”) and the reasons and ways Hollywood Cinema fails as a SF medium.

        File this away for “Teacher Sick Day” use.

        • Now, I don’t know about that. Barbarella is considered by some to be quite good because of the character portrayed by that traitorous bi…er, um, Hanoi Jane.

        • My vote goes to the original “Day the Earth Stood Still”

        • Month or so ago I did a rather lengthy comment on the subject of authors, movie options, and that whole Hollywood thing. Over on MGC if I recall correctly. Not based at all on personal experience, you understand, but on 50 odd years as a SF&F fan who also wanted to learn as much as possible about the nuts and bolts behind the public front. A lot of what I learned convinced me that the process had much in common with sausage making and politics. You really don’t want to pry too deep unless for a really good reason and with a very strong stomach.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            Must have missed it but yeah.

            My “take on book to film” is as follows.

            First, Books and Movies are two different mediums. There are things that the author can easily do in a book that would be extremely hard to do in a film and visa versa.

            Second, in writing a book the biggest part of the work is done by the author. While in making a movie, the script-writer’s job is just the beginning with loads of work done by others. Setting up the sets, camera work, getting the actors, the work done by the directors/producers/actors and much more.

            Oh, I’m sure I missed something when talking about “making a movie”. [Wink]

          • In a prior academic life I seriously studied the Mass Communications business and eventually concluded that the big mystery aabout hollywood was not that more great films aren’t made but that any good films get completed.

            Which is one reason I became an accountant.

        • The Abyss certainly had its charms.

          • And since someone else mentioned writing books vs writing movies –

            Orson Scott Card later related that he did the book adaptation of ‘The Abyss’ simply to see whether it would be possible to write a decent book based off of a movie. Haven’t read his adaptation, though, so I don’t know whether or not he pulled it off.

            • I suspect it is easier to write a novel from a movie than the other way about. Most movies contain about as much info as a decent short story; it is a rare novel which can withstand having enough cut out to fit into a two-hour film without being gutted, whereas a good movie can almost always benefit from breathing more life into it in order to fill a novel.

            • He pulled it off. The backstory, and details, he added to the film make the book well worth your time, IMHO.

              • I agree. It’s the only novelization I’ve ever bothered to buy. Incidentally, he wrote the character backstories based off the script alone; I’m not sure if the actors had been cast yet. It really worked.

                • The Other Sean

                  I think Alan Dean Foster did a solid job with the various movie adaptations he did over the years.

        • Robinson Crusoe on Mars. Now available in what looks like a very good Bluray.

          • I got to see Forbidden Planet in a theater when I was a kid, remember it being quite good.

            • I was driving up the avenue the other day, on my way to grab a burger at lunch, and I drove by an old shutdown theater (as in my parents talk about it being there when they were in high school back in the 50’s). And I thought to myself, “Man, it’d be really cool if that could be opened back up and show old movies on the big screen.” Can you imagine being able to go to an old iconic theater and watch John Wayne movies and old sci-fi movies like the original Day the Earth Stood Still?

        • Fiction would consist of Hollyweird pretending they know what they’re doing with the genre? The science would consist of anatomy?

        • “Raquel Welch in skin-tight spandex does not qualify a work as “good SF””

          YOU SHUT YOUR LYING PIE-TUNNEL!!!!!

      • If you listen to the director’s commentary Paul Verhoeven admits straight out that he hated the book and wanted to mock what he felt was the philosophy behind it.

      •         Heinlein himself explained it in Stranger “He pisses in it, then he likes the flavor better.”  (Quote approximate).

    • What I’ve heard is that Voerhoven had a bug war story already written. And then someone noted that it had some common elements with ‘Starship Troopers’ (which Voerhoven had never read), and suggested that he acquire the rights for the extra publicity it would draw.

      • Vorhoeven does like to tell people that he ruined the story on purpose, though. So I think it’s fair to criticize his movie on that basis. OTOH, he also thinks he’s the most brilliant satirist ever, which shows a lack of self-knowledge.

      • I’ve heard the same, but I have doubts. Maybe Verhoven just didn’t want to admit to reading Heinlein (fatal, my dears, fatal.)
        You see, he mixes OTHER elements of Heinlein stories into it, like having to do something to be able to have babies. it’s stupid, and distorted, but it’s possible a not so bright person reading Heinlein could have created a similar hodgepodge, which then got further insanified (totally a word) by Hollywood’s Story-by-committee process.

        • Back in Europe, I saw some of his movies he made before coming to Hollyweird, notably “Turks Fruit” (“Turkish delights”, after the Jan Wolkers novel). About 5 minutes into the movie, the male protagonist tapes a nude photograph of his deceased wife to the wall and starts abusing himself. And that was a 1970s movie. Another one, “Spetters” (around 1980!), aside from lots of soft-pr0n heterosexual material, had a graphic homosexual gang-rape scene in it, after which the raped person supposedly discovered that he enjoyed it. I guess y’all get the idea. Note that he was considered one of the best Dutch directors.

          • Europe is very much stuck in the “shock mode” of art, that and the ridiculous primitivism. Last time I was there, there was this public painting that looked like something my kid did at two when turned lose on a wall with crayons

    • “The Ranger sees the eye of the beholder peeking around the corner . . . initiative check!”

      The kids want to play a D&D campaign, and somehow this became “Momma should DM, she does plots.” I think it’s Daddy’s fault, but he’s probably right.

      • The fun part is that DM and writer require different skills that in fact undermine each other. It’s really hard to write a plot in which you treat a group all equally, it lacks focus. And in a book a character who appears only sometimes (bound to be a NPC) can save the day and even steal the scene for a time. And cutting down your characters’ option is a good way to keep your readers happy, because, “why didn’t they do X or Z instead of Y?” is frustrating while reading.

        You can see it best in webcomics based on RPGs. Order of the Stick and Rusty & Co. both have a core team character who’s more important than the rest. Both have NPCs with a lot of importance, and even long stretches where the NPCs are the only characters on stage. And the characters are seldom given a choice of plethora of possibilities — or even one or two.

        • fontofworlds

          “The fun part is that DM and writer require different skills that in fact undermine each other. It’s really hard to write a plot in which you treat a group all equally, it lacks focus. And in a book a character who appears only sometimes (bound to be a NPC) can save the day and even steal the scene for a time. And cutting down your characters’ option is a good way to keep your readers happy, because, “why didn’t they do X or Z instead of Y?” is frustrating while reading.”

          ^^^THIS. I was a better plotter at age 10 than I am at age 40 because I wasted 25 years of my life being a GM. The whole point of a GM is to create interesting situations– read: dangerous, hostile and ironically humorous — so that your players can showcase being awesome against all of it. EVERYBODY hates railroading, and that is what plotting is. I spend much of my day fighting that, even just to write a one paragraph synopsis of a book’s plot. It does work very well for characters, and character development. Mine were good enough that they easily slip the boundaries of RPG and find their way into fiction– with the reality settings altered, of course.

          But the worst is that I get interesting situations, but finding resolutions is a royal pain. The characters look at me and say, “Well, what did the PCs do?” I couldn’t end my long form games well, either.

  8. nice way to put it TL

  9. A Hollywood producer said,” if you want to send a message use a telegraph.”

  10. I liked the concept of the pill in the pudding – of putting in a message so subtly that the reader hardly notices that it is there, as they are so deeply engrossed in the story. I had (to me) a very obvious message in my first book – about a pioneer wagon train party. (To Truckee’s Trail, it’s called – no links as I don’t want to languish in moderation.) The message/aim of the book was to try and reclaim frontier history, and our American ancestors (actual and metaphorical) as brave, decent people, who looked out for their family and friends … and, oh, by the way — they packed up their families, six months of supplies and the few valuables that they owned and walked through two thousand miles of mostly un-mapped wilderness. That was a totally breathtaking venture, and I wanted to let people know about it.

    The same with the Adelsverein Trilogy – eight thousand German immigrants dumped onto the Texas frontier in the 1840s! I wanted again, to reclaim history from the HowardZinnestas, and tell a ripping good yarn, too. Daughter of Texas/Deep in the Heart looked at the life of a woman on the Texas frontier – not downtrodden and hapless in the least, but as brave and enterprising as any male pioneer, just as women like Angelina Eberly and Sally Skull were in real life.

    Yes, have a message … but wrap a humdinger of a story around it.

    • Celia is too modest — her mentioned books are ripping good reads and you should get them.

      Louis L’Amour’s Sackett series (as well as a couple other series, the ones about the Talon and Chantry families) were an attempt to tell the story of America’s settlement and the post Civil War diaspora. He never let that get in the way of the story, of course, because depicting the various motivations was the story.

    • The message/aim of the book was to try and reclaim frontier history, and our American ancestors (actual and metaphorical) as brave, decent people, who looked out for their family and friends … and, oh, by the way — they packed up their families, six months of supplies and the few valuables that they owned and walked through two thousand miles of mostly un-mapped wilderness.

      Clearly, folks need to read more of it. Apparently the current crop of explore-the-frontiers folks think that A Plan will be enough.

      Was listening to a radio interview with a guy who’s on the short list for that Mars expedition. At one point he mentioned that the planners weren’t going to have the medical support for pregnancy or anything, with a very obvious assumption that of course it wouldn’t happen anyways.

      All I can say is they’d dang well better have verified vasectomies and hysterectomies… explorers are human. Humans do human things. Like make more humans….

      • *chuckle* – yes, indeedy, they will, be the circumstances ever so trying. The wagon-train party I wrote of arrived in California with two more than they started out with, due to wives giving birth along the way. And supposedly, a third wife gave birth several months after arrival, which meant that … umm, marital intimacies were not neglected along the way.
        Which, considering the amount of sheer physical labor involved in moving ox-drawn wagons 15 miles a day over unbroken trail … frankly, I’m surprised that they had the energy.

    • Just make sure the reader doesn’t break a tooth on it. 😉

  11. Starship Troopers had message? If you try real hard to see it there then maybe, but otherwise it is just soldier story set in military regime. Fun to read, loved the book, but if Starship Troopers have message, every single book ever written has one.

    • wanderingmuses

      See now, that’s what I kind of think. I think every story has a message of some kind whether even the author realizes it or not. I think that every person comes away from a story with their own conclusion of the message they, themselves, received. That has to be a nasty throw back to high school when they asked after every bloody story what we thought the message was.

      • People often see the message they want to see. (And not necessarily a message they agree with, as witness the SJWs getting all sorts of ‘message’ that didn’t exist.)

        Long decades ago I wrote a sonnet which was just a straightforward condensation of a fantasy novel. And the durn thing repeatedly got not only religious interpretations, but in-depth religious interpretations. Well, they do say God speaks in mysterious ways…

        • One reason why message fiction tends to be so unsubtle is the persistent ability of people to read what they want to read into it. I once read a survey of some historical films that interpreted every single war movie as an anti-war movie because it included some realistic depictions of suffering.

    • Which proves, I think, that he did a good job of telling a story first.

      But I took several messages out of it: privilege vs responsibility, adult vs adolescent thinking (the “Johnny Rico” voice telling the story is much more mature and thoughtful than the younger self whose story he’s telling), realism vs wishful thinking, self-chosen sacrifice, and pragmatism vs idealism (Remember the discussion on their form of government? “It works” – not “it’s the best” but “it works”).

      And despite the title and military environment, it wasn’t a glorification of war or the military. Nor did it present the Arachnids as evil or humanity as saints, even though their war was apparently started by the Arachnids and and driven by species survival for the humans.

      I really wish they’d make a movie out of it some day. One that actually had more relationship to the book than the title and the names of some of the characters.

    •         Yes, Starship Troopers had a message.  So did Double Star .  So did Stranger in a Strange Land .  So did The Moon is a Harsh Mistress .  Same message in all of them.  (That’s a clue.)

  12. It all comes circling back to “is the book horrific?” I don’t mind message fic. I don’t mind fic with message. I mind bad fic.

  13. I enjoyed both “Atlas Shrugged” and “Starship Troopers”. I felt AS was too much lecture though. She strayed from “show me” into “tell me”. That said, I like her message. ST was great though I don’t totally embrace the message.

    • I love the Starship Troopers book… I still pull it out to read every couple of years, and it was the first ebook I bought when I got my Kindle.

      I didn’t care for Atlas Shrugged. As storytelling goes, I couldn’t get into it, and my reaction to the message part was “well, yeah.”

      So even if you agree with the message in message fiction… it’s not enough.

  14. I apparently offended one Ayn Randian who trashed a book of mine with a two-star review because the message was not pure enough, then had another libertarian attack the next one because in a war the good guys were insufficiently respectful of the rights of the bad guys. One danger of writing with a message is having cultists attack you for being insufficiently correct, and you see that when SJWs attack each other to try to one-up the author on getting just the right viewpoint.

    The problem with “Atlas Shrugged” is that it uses many of the techniques of leftist agitprop Ayn Rand had seen used effectively in the USSR, but to promote an individualist message. The cardboard villains make it easy to attack — “her fiction is simplistic, so her political ideas are, too.” First let it be good fiction with a strong story and believable characters, then let a message be inferred from what happens. Stopping the story in its tracks for pages and pages of speeches is deadly in the modern age of short attention spans and competition from other media. The messages should be inherent in the story, and while it might disappoint true believers who want every page to endorse their views point by point, it will more likely be read and have some instructive effect on the readers.

    The first task of fiction is to engage the reader and bring them into a story. It’s nice when there’s also useful information about how the world works that gives the reader a better understanding of the world at large — and truly great books do that, whether it’s politics or personal relationships or scientific knowledge that piggyback on the story. But it has to be an enjoyable (or at least not repellent) story first

    The issue with SF SJW message fic is a small group promoting bad fiction that contains messages they approve of. Bad fiction that few readers will enjoy shouldn’t be held up as examples of the best of SF. There might be some great SF that has academic gender studies-ish, intersectional victim olympics messages, but I haven’t seen it. Writers in a frame of mind to treat characters as representatives of a color, sex, or class tend to give them less interesting personalities, and the villains are cardboard oppressors, since showing how a villain comes to misbehave allows the reader to sympathize with them, like writing realistic depictions of good and bad slaveowners in the Old South gets you attacked because you allow that there might have been quality human beings who were also owners of slaves. Oh no! Erase that bit of history….

    • I actually saw two of the movies based on it. Movie reviewers predictably trashed them, but actually I thought that they worked reasonably well precisely because her writing is so TL;DR and the characters are so “cardboard”. Most novels that we know and love would require a mini-series, rather than a movie, to do them justice.

  15. Over on Larry C.’s blog someone posted a link to an extremely well done spoof of a Hugo award acceptance speech from the upcoming Worldcon. The author only used his/her initials which were T.K.
    I have a hunch who wrote it simply by the style used. If I am correct I did make an error in my response as I stated that the author was still active duty. I have since found that I may have been in error, so apologies to T.K. whomever they might be.
    The piece was quite good BTW.

  16. My problem with “message fiction” is that the writer uses it as hammer, a 20-pound sledge hammer, and said writer thinks I am the nail.

  17. I agree that Atlas Shrugged is message fiction royalty. It contains a single radio speech that probably approaches the length of Starship Troopers.

    The story of Starship troopers is much better as a story than poor story cowering within the bowels of Atlas Shrugged. It’s been a while since I read Starship Troopers, but as I recall, significvant message chunks are in the scenes taking place in a high school civics class called History and Moral Philosophy. What’s more, if you just wanted to follow the tale of Johnny Rico and the bugs, you could skip those scenes, though the resulting book would be pretty short.

    I’m a little surprised at the objections to the notion that it’s message fiction. Would Heinlein dispute that classification? It seems to me that the primary argument offered against it being message fiction being that it’s by Heinlein, we liked it, and didn’t find it boring. I don’t think we would be at all impressed if TNH offered the same arguments about a book with a similar structure and a message that she favored.

    • In part it may be that nobody familiar with RAH actually thinks he was advocating that message so much as he was saying: “Here’s something to think about.”

      No more than many of us believe Stranger In A Strange Land was advocating a new Faith.

      OTOH, his many messages advocating “open marriage” are generally seen as detracting from his later stories.

    • Perhaps a better comparison would be between ‘Atlas Shrugged’ and ‘Watership Down’. Both books are about how societies ought to run, and the relationship between societies and the people that make up those societies. But the former puts the message in full-on display, while the latter carefully threads it within the text. You can read ‘Watership Down’ without ever realizing that it’s more than an adventure story about a group of rabbits.

  18. Nothing brilliant to add. I spent this morning and early afternoon tap-dancing around message history and my brain’s a little strained.

  19. Since the subject of book to movie came up earlier in the thread, here is a little something I posted over at MGC a couple of weeks ago. One minor correction, Rowling did not become the richest woman in the UK until after the movie money started rolling in.
    Will also add that many years ago Harlan Ellison, that paragon of tact and moderation, stated quite publicly that he wrote stories until the money ran out then would sell his soul to the movies and TV long enough to finance the next round of story writing. And annoying and evil though Harlan often was, I rarely knew him to outright lie.

    Uncle Lar
    April 3, 2015 at 12:18 pm
    I thought the Potter movies were extremely well done, to the extent that they had to split the last book into two movies just to retain the richness of detail.
    Of course I attribute a lot of this on the rare and precious anomaly in the book to movie business of the author retaining serious creative control of the material. Just about no one other than Rowling could have pulled that off.
    Authors need to be aware that a movie option on your work means a nice check, and usually that’s all it means. Some obscure movie development type buys the right to make a movie out of your book and shops it around to production companies to see if anyone is interested. Mostly nothing ever comes of it. Enjoy that little bit of extra income. Buy yourself something nice and don’t expect anything more from it.
    On rare occasion some agency with deep pockets may decide the story has merit (ie they think a movie would make them a shitton of bucks) and exercises that option. You’ve already been paid, so all you get at this point is bragging rights. The developers just may hire you to help with the story line and script, totally their choice. If you think this will give you any sort of influence on the final product just walk away now and focus your talents on your next book. You must understand, if your name isn’t J. K. Rowling you gave away creative control when you sold that option. J. K. got a sweetheart deal because by the time the movie folks got involved she was sitting on the hottest property in literary history and had already gotten richer than the Queen on her book sales alone so could hold out for a much better deal.
    So, if you want to play in Hollywood (figuratively speaking, nobody makes movies there any more) take the offer, but you’re probably much better off far away where you can’t see what they do to your pride and joy.
    And should the movie actually get made, whether success or failure, and that due mostly to the resources put into it in the way of funding, director, actors, and marketing, you will get that little item in the credits “based on the book by …”
    And so you will get that most precious of items, name recognition which spurs interest in your backlist and future works.

  20. If I can manage an analogy with cooking;
    Too much message and too little message are like getting the exact right amount of baking soda in a biscuit recipe (something I struggled with when my mother was trying to teach me to cook.). Too little, and the biscuits are flat and don’t rise. Too much, and they taste bitter. The exact right amount, if it’s not well mixed in, gives flat biscuits that taste bitter.

    I loved Heinlein’s “Citizen of the Galaxy” but I was utterly repelled by the “Free Love Is Good” message of “Stranger in a Strange Land”. That probably falls on the “Fiction with a message” side of the scale because it was well and thoroughly worked into the story and not presented in indigestible lumps, but to someone who thoroughly disagrees with that message, that was like substituting salt for sugar in a cookie recipe. Even if you do mix in chocolate chips, they aren’t going to compensate.

    “The Number of the Beast” started out as a good story, but the “Technologically assisted solipsism!” message rather overwhelmed it. With that particular message, there was hardly any way it could have done much but trail off without a satisfactory ending.

    GRRM may have started a well-crafted story, after a while, the strong flavor of “There are no good guys except for the chumps” turns a lot of people off, No matter how well and subtly crafted the story is, it’s still a cynical and rather depressing one, and by now, he can’t take the story any other way without doing violence to it. If it’s as depressing to write as it is to read, no wonder he’s taking forever to finish.

    If a message is bad, it’s going to show through, the same way that the soulless ugliness and conformity to the party line of Soviet Communism showed even in its art and architecture.

    • I was trying to figure out how to format my response– and I think your objection is a really good place to start, and crystalized what I think he was saying in a way that got rid of my objections. 😀

      I loved Heinlein’s “Citizen of the Galaxy” but I was utterly repelled by the “Free Love Is Good” message of “Stranger in a Strange Land”. That probably falls on the “Fiction with a message” side of the scale because it was well and thoroughly worked into the story and not presented in indigestible lumps, but to someone who thoroughly disagrees with that message, that was like substituting salt for sugar in a cookie recipe.

      I read it as “you can enjoy the story even if you don’t agree with the message” and my initial reaction was that this meant the most intolerant had way too much power– or if we limit it to honest reactions, that either side would only be able to write “message fiction” because of the strong reaction it causes in those who disagree with it.

      Finally figured out he wasn’t saying that the story will be good enough to overpower the message– like someone above said, if message is broad enough to include any meaning at all, ALL stories have “a message,” even if it’s as simple as, oh, A Man Can Be As Human As A Woman or something equally ‘slice of life’– but that there was anything to grab hold of in the story besides the message.

      Look at humor; some kinds are only laugh lines because they involve harm to an unpopular target; if you don’t share in the dislike of the target, the “humor” isn’t amusing. In contrast, some kinds are most frequently told by members of the “targeted” group, because they’re just poking fun. (Catholic Dictionary: Relics: people who have been going to Mass so long, they actually know when to kneel, stand or sit without watching what everyone else is doing.)

    • “GRRM may have started a well-crafted story, after a while, the strong flavor of “There are no good guys except for the chumps” turns a lot of people off, No matter how well and subtly crafted the story is, it’s still a cynical and rather depressing one, and by now, he can’t take the story any other way without doing violence to it. If it’s as depressing to write as it is to read, no wonder he’s taking forever to finish.”

      (Spoiler Warning for GRRM’s Game of Thrones)
      He could take it in a direction where “There are no good guys except for the chumps” in a mundane non-magical world, but magic changes everything. He’s pretty clearly introduced some unambigiously evil supernatural entities. Right now, it looks like there are three major divine powers — and it looks like two of them are evil and one is good. I suspect that the fact that the two evil ones hate each other more than anything else will allow the good divine power to keep the world from ending. (Specifically, the Fire and Ice gods seem evil to me, but the Children seem to be a good power, though we’ve seen much less of them to date.)
      tl;dr– Bran’s a good guy, and not a chump. And he just got a massive power-up, maybe as big as Dany’s.

  21. Birthday girl

    OT: our esteemed hostess is mentioned here:
    http://shorttext.com/63133fd9

  22. Just came across this definition of term by Andrew McCarthy and thought it suitable for here:

    Social justice is not about ensuring a fair process. It’s about achieving outcomes of which the Left approves, by any means necessary.

  23. Captain Comic

    Does anyone find a parallel between the Trugos (or is that Newgos?) plan of the SJW left and the (apocryphal?) story about the Army Major torching Vietnamese huts and saying “We must destroy this village in order to save it.”?

    One way or another there’s going to be a VERY interesting Saturday evening in August.

    Should I try to sneak some popcorn in?

    • 1. That Peter Arnett quote has been peated and repeated but never sourced. From the indomitable Kathy Shaidle:

      Arnett entered Ben Tre after it had finally been secured and interviewed army major Phil Cannella.

      Cannella “believes he is the officer Arnett was quoting” when he penned his most famous sentence, according to Mona Charen in her book Useful Idiots. However, “he believes his comments were ‘taken out of context.’ He recalls telling Arnett that the Vietcong had destroyed the town and that it was a shame. But Arnett’s report made it seem that American forces had shelled the town and featured an anonymous officer saying, ‘We had to destroy the village in order to save it.”

      As historian Victor David Hanson explains:

      “Arnett never verified, much less produced, his source — and the town was mostly shelled by the Communists anyway. An exhaustive investigation by the Pentagon never found any such official who said anything such thing.”

      http://www.examiner.com/article/myths-of-the-vietnam-war-part-2-we-had-to-destroy-the-village

      2. More than this August, wait for the fireworks for the 2016 Yugo Awards when the SJWs come prepared for an all-out battle to reclaim their territory.

      3. Be prepared for a Scheiß Sturm declaiming the character, ethics, morals and bigotry of the warriors against puppy sadness. The proglodytes know that winning the Yugo Awards is less important than winning the after award spin.

  24. Not too long ago I ran across something I never thought I would see a fan-message-fic that was damned good. It was not only fan-fic, it was also explictly message fic, and yet it was a damned entertaining read.

    For those interested it was called Harry Potter and the Methods of rationality. Look it up, you wont be sorry. I wasn’t

    • I dunno – I’d call HP&tMoR more premise fic, basically asking what if everything Eliezer Yudkowsky saw as non-rational goofiness in the HP series was extracted and replaced with rationality and the scientific method, then allowed to play through; Basically extracting what the author saw as overuse of the idiot ball and watching how it goes.

      I suppose a case could be made for rationality as the Message, but I just don’t think Yudkowsky beat the reader about the head and shoulders quite enough for it to qualify as Message Fic.

      • Huh. I personally did see it as “ratioality is the message” but I enjoyed the hell out of it anyway. In particular the early scene where HP loses his shit because professor Mcgonaghal turned into a cat was hilarious.

  25. The SJWs assume that we’re trying to silence them because that’s what they do. They can’t imagine a free and open exchange of ideas, because they have convinced themselves that all human interactions are part of a web of oppression and exploitation. If you are telling a story, you MUST be forcing your ideas on someone, because they can’t imagine any other motive for telling a story. Enjoyment is just a way to trick people into consuming the message, and is all the result of cultural conditioning anyway.

    • Well, it could also be that they want to protect the purity of their ideas. Perhaps they fear, in their heart of hearts, that if they heard our ideas we might convert them.

  26. Pingback: Tale of Two Fandoms | T.L. Knighton