By Angels For Angels

So I sent my poor husband off to deal with electrician.  I have a good reason.  Electrician has a Russian accent.  Imagine us trying to communicate.  Now stop laughing.  Yeah.  Like that. So I have maybe an hour before other electrician comes by to give us his estimate and who knows how long before appliance movers (could be a few minutes.)

This brings me to something I was musing about this morning, right after I figured out what it meant that the lack-brains at File 770 (henceforth club 770) linked back to my post with “the hydrophobia that falls on you from nowhere” because apparently my saying something about “arrangements that must be made for people of different orientations as reproduction and sex become more divorced from each other” means I’m homophobic.  This despite the fact that you don’t need to scratch very deep in this blog to figure out I was pro gay marriage well (WELL) before their sainted president evolved.

Apparently not wanting to get lost — in an unrelated post — in the weeds of “no, I don’t think even temporary or multiple marriage are out of the question, but I don’t think we should force churches or people of different beliefs to ENDORSE any such accommodations, provided they’re legal.” makes me homophobic.

I know of course that part of this is the moral superiority stakes from the other side.  They must be better, more open, more tolerant.  And if they’re not, they’ll calumny you to feel superior.

Which would be fine, if for some reason their estimation of themselves and the rest of the human race weren’t so grimdark.

I.e. if these were reasonable people who think that human beings are normally fairly decent, but of course have a dark side too.

These are not reasonable people.

Look, I’m by disposition an introvert.  I can “flip” to a public persona and pass for extrovert, but if I’ve been sick (like now) or am not up to snuff, you can see me engage in championship marathons of avoiding human contact, to the point someone meeting me for the first time will think I hate them.

And like most people of a bookish and Odd disposition I went through some time periods of being considered a social pariah by most of my peers.  (like, being a libertarian professional sf/f writer.  No, I joke.  Like Middle School.)  Particularly when you’re young and not outgoing it’s easier to conflate this with “humanity is horrible and lives to hurt others.”  Particularly when one is exposed to the peaceful interaction of an all-girls’ school, of course.

But those are time periods (most of them in my teens.)

There is a reality check.  One doesn’t need to know much about the world, history or how grim things get some places and time to know that even in the middle of all that darkness there is unexpected kindness and love from humans who have nothing to gain by doing it.  One doesn’t need to be an angel to know that one’s worst impulses are checked by one’s best.

So — how can a whole swath of political opinion assume that unless tightly restricted by government individual humans are the scum of the Earth?  They clearly do.  It speaks loud and clear from their work, their entertainment choices, and assuming their entire opposition OVER A SCIENCE FICTION AWARD are “neo nazis” or “racist, sexist, homophobic” even in the face of blatant proof to the contrary.

Dorothy Grant in an unrelated post talked about what she found in a “fan” site:

I had occasion recently to go to a site that I rarely frequent, and skimmed the first three articles to get a feel for the place. The first was praising the gory dehumanizing of a show named Hannibal, which stars the eponymous serial killer. The second was a review of a season of Game of Thrones, lusting for more rape and murder. The third article was a book review praising a “dark fantasy” where a woman is traded by her people to a dark wizard.

I won’t be back, because the very tone was dreary and debased. No amount of top-end design or beautiful visuals can make up for content like that. This is what happens when people focus for too long on the darkness they strain to see in every human heart, so that they might declare themselves superior. There is no joy there, no sense of wonder, no hope, no celebration of mercy, charity, hard work, or moral principles. These people do not laugh, except to cover themselves in case someone attacks their attack as insufficient or overreaching: “It was just a joke!” is their defense as they scuttle away.

There can be no celebration of achievement, only open season to attack in the cleverest way upon its announcement. This is moral bankruptcy, and that the knives came out in comments is absolutely unsurprising. The knives are always out, and they’re always circling to see who’s got the best cut, and praise them while planning a more clever cut or backstab.

I had nothing to contribute there.

And it’s not that there isn’t a place for that kind of fiction, mind.  The same way it’s not that there isn’t a place for assuming someone is an homophobe.  It’s the fact that they assume these things by default, sight unseen, and that most of the “serious” fiction, SF/F and not has become this parade of small minds and outright mean opinions of humanity as a whole.

I run into this in mystery too, where no character will be good, admirable, or even have a spark of human kindness.  These people are not even evil.  They’re “petty nasty” all the time.

Dave Freer at Mad Genius Club today talks about book printruns falling steadily and tries to figure out why.  Well, as someone who HAD walked away from reading new fiction (largely.  There were exceptions) until Amazon made it easier to read stuff that wasn’t pushed, I had done so because I was tired of the soul-sloughing POINTLESS darkness pushed at me everywhere.

Note I’m not for polyanna happy go lucky.  Well, at least I also don’t believe it and can’t write it.  My worlds tend to be grim, but even in them there’s decent people.  And most people in them are decent, for a value.

It’s just that I don’t think everyone goes around tainted with all the venal sins and with a good swath of mortal sin too.

I don’t believe, in other words, that a poor young couple straying into a rough bar would get beat up for no reason.  Not in the states, not unless racial factors intrude, by which I mean they end up in a neighborhood that’s solid new immigrant or minority and think they’re under attack.  And even then, there would need to be serious issues to cause a lethal, unprovoked attack on strangers.  There would need to be aggravating factors of a serious and unremitting order.

But they believe it, because to one reader, the “other side” (for lack of a better term) thought If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love was brilliant fiction and plausible.

Realizing this, realizing they’re stuck in that very adolescent fear of “the other” defined as “someone not in my social group” makes it easier to understand why they are so desperately interested not just in a strong government, but in a government that intrudes into every little minutia of the human life and regulates EVERYTHING. And it stops anyone even SAYING anything not approved of by the group, because — gasp, squeak, “they could be mean.”

It’s not a grown up nor balanced perspective, but it is one that one can see from someone who is terrified of all of the human race whom they view as evil ogres ready to thump their poor little selves into oblivion.

I remember my 11 year old self, and wishing someone would intervene on my behalf (I was physically brave, but it was all too easy to kill me with unkindness) and I can imagine wanting a government powerful enough to “stop those evil people I’m sure are out to get me.”

The thing I don’t understand is how supposed adults (some much older than I) who have lived in the world and have such a horror of their own species and every single person in it, think that giving power to the government to intervene and stop humans being so evil is better.

Are they perhaps convinced that government is run by angels?

If not, how can they imagine that giving some humans unchecked power that those over whom they reign can’t stop or control would lead to anything but tyranny and horror?  How can they not see the advantages of limiting the power of government?  How can they not realize that most of the true evil of humanity comes not from individuals but from organized groups given power over other — not very well known — groups?  How can they not see the only antidote to that is to empower not vast faceless ill defined classes, groupings or organizations, but individuals?

I understand they want government to come and protect them from evil people.  BUT I don’t understand what they think government is composed of.

439 responses to “By Angels For Angels

  1. I think it’s not so much that they push pointless darkness, as much as they push pointlessness.

    That seems a contradiction, since the very same folks are always decrying the disturbing political implications of one’s choice of toothpaste, but I think this is their own overreaction to being gripped by despair. A normal person looks for hope, and uses it as a foundation in rock to build; they construct this vast scaffolding in the sand, and there’s no building within.

    And it falls, and great is the fall of it.

    They are pitiable, and I’d feel a lot more compassionate towards their lot – even though it’s largely self-inflicted – except that they try to imprison us behind the scaffold bars. Then, I confess, I lose patience.

    • I’m inclined to agree.
      I bought a Sasquan membership, at least to counter the ball bearings who are lining up to vote for Noah Ward because that’s what the rest of the in group tells them to. Because of this, I got a link to the zip files of this year’s nominees.
      So I read Three Body Problem.
      During the first half of the book, I thought it would win my vote for Best Novel. It presented an engaging puzzle, and characters I liked well enough. As it wound down to its conclusion, I decided that, although the science-y aspects were wondrous enough, my Sense Of Wonder was stomped flat by the ending.
      (SPOILER WARNING!!!)
      The human race having been betrayed to the aliens by people who essentially said, the human race can’t manage itself; come and manage it for us,” the aliens set out to do exactly that. In order to make sure the human race will still be beatable by the time they arrive, they use pico-engineered protons to block humanity’s access to the next advancements in physical science.
      But the punch line is, “Don’t despair, we’ve tried to kill off our vermin and they’re still around. They may try to kill us off, but like all vermin, we’ll survive.”

      Um. Yeah. Right.
      We’re vermin, and that’s why we’ll survive.
      We’re just too much work to wipe out properly, and we’ll multiply in the garbage pits.
      There won’t be a Heinleinian Sixth Column shaking miracles out of an unexpected discovery and beating the invaders. There won’t be a heroic victory. Be as brave as you like, it won’t make any difference.

      OK, Skin Game it is.

      • It’s the first book in a trilogy: I’m reserving judgement until I’ve read all three. But I am concerned that your take on it might be right.

  2. c4c

  3. I’ve heard the ‘bullied in middle school, turn totalitarian’ before, and I don’t buy it. I went to urban public schools in USA in 90s. I was bullied. I remember the very moment I became a libertarian was when the school authorities first promised to punish bullying, then didn’t take action when I reported my tormentors, then punished me for attempting to defend myself from bullies.

    • Yeah. yeah. Yeah. But I think it works that way for some of them. IF you freeze at the middle-school development level.

    • Jeff Duntemann

      I have an intuition that it’s the bullies who grow up to become authoritarians, because they have first-hand experience with the application of force to serve their own ends. Their personalities just lean in that direction. Bullying works better in junior high than in real life, and the bullies from my school who I’ve been able to trace are basically failed people, at least one of whom is dead.

      • Some of the bullies, maybe, but I suspect that there are a lot of those who are bullied, who take the wrong message from it, and come to view the position of bully as being the ideal, so that they can be the ones on top, instead.

        Certainly not everyone who is bullied is like this. Many turn out like James above here, but many also seek to become strong by becoming that which hurt them before.

        • Mal: That poor bastard you took off my ship. He looked right into the face of it—was made to stare.

          Harken: “It”?

          Mal: That darkness. Kind of darkness you can’t even imagine. Blacker than the space it moves through.

          Harken: Very poetic.

          Mal: They made him watch. He probably tried to turn away, and they wouldn’t let him. You call him a survivor? He’s not. A man comes up against that kind of will, the only way to deal with it, I suspect, is to become it.

      • reddragonhawk

        I think this is right. Using the government or authority is just another bullying tool, so bullies are super happy to see that happen. The SJWs are all bullies, and they are some of the biggest proponents of the government “making everything better.”

    • reddragonhawk

      This, a million times over.

    • Actually seen it happen small scale. “They pick on me so I’m going to pick on YOU.” I find it entirely plausible to be taken further, especially if the person with that mentality refuses to grow up. (I’ve seen too much of that happen first hand as well.)

      • I think there are two paths presented to just about everyone presented with just such as negative personal interaction experience, most typical of the entirety of junior high or high school:

        Those who choose the first path observe that there are instances when no one will look out for you but yourself, and it’s up to you to gain the personal wherewithal, including wits for the battles of, influence for a larger social interactions, skills for the more kinetic, and speed to attempt to avoid the overmatches, all in order to preserve what you hold dear and avoid the worst outcomes. This is basically “growing up”.

        Those who choose the second path, upon observing that few or none of their respected authority figures were there to or were inclined to protect them, embarked on a search for bigger and better authority figures, either individual or group, and work to ensconce themselves as rule-definers for those they find. These are the eternally pre-adults that Sarah explored up above.

        And some of the choosers of the second path, disappointed in their search for the most betterer authority figures, decide to become bigger and better authority figures, working to impose their will upon all and sundry, and that way lies Wilson and Stalin. I’d contend that these are the ultimate eternal pre-adults, spending all the treasure and shedding all the blood to be able to tell others what to do.

    • Remember that the bullies probably think of themselves as the bullied. Pushing you around was just life; the once or twice where they got bullied (or punished) sticks in memory.

  4. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    They believe that they are the “Angels” and imagine that Government will always be controlled by “Angels” or should be controlled by “Angels”.

    A few years ago I read about a conversation between a Conservative and a Modern Liberal.

    The Conservative was pointing that the American governmental structure was intended to keep government weak so that government could not “abuse” its power.

    The Liberal was wanting a stronger government and said (roughly) that we have to make sure that the correct people are elected. [Sad Smile]

    Too many modern Liberals believe that sort of thing.

    IE we can elect the “right sort of people” and therefore government will never go “bad”.

    We’ve had some idiots on Baen’s Bar who lack the imagination (or intelligence) to see people on their “side” could do the “wrong thing”.

    If others see the possibility that the “good people” might do the “wrong thing”, those people are paranoid or “wanting to feel like a victim”.

    People like that shouldn’t be put in power.

    I can honestly imagine me abusing power but save us from people who think that they (or people like them) would never abuse power.

    • paladin3001

      Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. It doesn’t matter if we elect the “right people”. Even a uncorrupt person will become corrupt if they marinate in the stew of governmental politics. I try to look at new laws, especially those that are created to protect us, and try to see how easily it can be turned against the populace if the very wrong type of people get elected.

      Government primarily now exists to perpetuate itself, not to serve the people but to have the people serve it. The west is in a dire need of a revolution again. Hot or cold take your pick.

      • Power corrupts, but absolute power is really kinda neat….

        Or, if you prefer:

        Knowledge is power. Power corrupts. Study hard and be evil!

  5. carlton mckenney

    It drives me bananas.
    We have a meticulously researched and exhaustively delineated real world example of the results of turning individual conscience over to a bureaucracy. The result is millions dead and half a world in ruin. And it gets tried again. More millions dead and more destruction.
    Still people insist that more bureaucracy is a solution to all the world’s ills. And on top of that, the people doing the insisting are the ones that are historically most likely to be affected negatively by the changes. What does it take to get people to notice they are cutting their own throats?

    • They can’t see beyond the immediate. They are frustrated and hurt now. Wannabe apparatchiks promise to end this. They can’t see that the claims are false, even impossible of fulfillment. All they see are people who promise them what they want to hear. And so the cycle goes on.

    • It’ll be Different This Time!1

    • No, no comments for you. All the comments are my property and I refuse to share them.

      Nyah.

      You can haz cookies.

    • Jeff Duntemann

      At the risk of sounding like an utter noob, I must ask: Would somebody please explain what “comment for comment” means here?

      • When you make a comment there’s a checkbox below that says “Notify me of new comments via email”. So people who want to follow by email but don’t have that set up to happen all the time do a C4C post and click the checkbox.

        • Oh is that what it is about. And here I figured it was some other internet weirdness.

          • No, that’s everything that follows a c4c post.

          • The other reason is that WordPress, that offspring of 10 fathers, tends to “lose” the profile option to notify you of comments via e-mail and you have to subscribe to each post….

      • If you comment, there’s a ticky box you can check to receive future comments to the post by email. Commenting for comments or “c4c” is basically “I want to subscribe to get the comments now, without/before posting anything more substantial.”

        I am using this comment to subscribe for email delivery, myself.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        Just below where you type your message (and below “your name”) is a check box labeled “notify me of new comments via email”.

        The folks using the “C4C” (comments for comments) are making a comment so they can use the check box. [Smile]

      • C4C – comment for comments, in order to get the thread via e-mail.
        This explanation from the AtH FAQ and BBQ. It has a tab on top of the blog site. It was compiled by TXRED.

      • C4c, or comment for comment means that you want to follow the comments but have nothing to say, yet. It gives one th opportunity to click the little box and get new comments emailed to them

        • RealityObserver

          OK, now all of you old-timers explain all of the other acronyms to the poor newbies. I’m waiting…

          • BBQ is the Base Bararity Quotient. It has to do with how notable a HUN you are.

            CARP is the Comment Attitude Readjustment Protocol and is used to correct commenters who step out of line.

            • Randy Wilde

              BOHICA is the feeling you sometimes get when a SJW (Social Justice Warrior, though I prefer “Weenie”) gets an idea…

      • What everyone else said. And soon after it started, we got people making other remarks that follow… and lead off to our localized brand of crazy. =)

  6. I sometimes wonder if the people pushing for totatlitarianism in this country realize that they’re pushing for totalitarianism. Then the Irene Gallos of the world come along and I realize that yup, they do. Seriously.

    If at some point you feel like not sleeping for a week do a comparison and contrast between “White Privilege” rhetoric and what Adolph Hitler, Joseph Goebbels, et al. said about Jews. This type of villification of people who speak out against the state is approaching Stalin-esque. Grimdark doesn’t begin to describe what we’re headed toward if we don’t get off this train now. And I mean RIGHT now. 2016 is the next chance and it might be the last one. Things are about to get real, and not just in the realm of publishing.

    • William O. B'Livion

      Totatlitarianism is when the wrong people run things.

      When the right people run things it’s just government making sure you make the right choices.

    • One big difference between the US and Germany or Russia: Some of us have actually read history, can think logically, and are armed. Might not do much to the final body count, but it will have a significant impact on who does the dying.

      • III think so, too

      • William O. B'Livion

        Germans and Russians can think logically too.

        The only difference between us and them is that we’re *well* armed, and generally speaking those of us that are armed can put ourselves in the shoes of “other”.

        Which is why American Southern Baptists are stronger supporters of Israel than American Jews.

        • The famous tyrannical governments of the 20th century are that country’s previous political cultures turned up to 11.

        • There’s a pretty big gap between “can” and “does.” The footage of Hitler’s rise is replete with images of massive groups of people in a religious frenzy. I imagine Lenin drew similar behavior from his audiences.

          Obama triggered similar reactions, but only among a minority (large enough to swing the election in a closely divided country).

          • Hitler, Lenin, and Mao didn’t overthrow established democratic governments in countries with well established traditions of personal freedom. They took over weak replacements governments that replaced fallen, well established governments that couldn’t handle the long term stress of a total war.

            • Today is the 800th year anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta, that was to draw in the power of the King and ensure the rights of the nobles and the citizens in the face of royal oppression and taxation..

              It is also the 634th anniversary of the death of Wat Tyler and the end of the Peasant’s revolt that was attempting to do the same thing.

              I am not sure if this is irony or just bad timing.

          • William O. B'Livion

            You’re the one who used “can”.

            And to reiterate, German, Russians and Americans *can* use logic, but for f*ks sake the candidate to beat in the 2016 election is someone so corrupt that Huey Long would look upon her works and turn GREEN with envy. Boss Tweed would smile in admiration.

            And the establishment republicans want to run a moderate progressive (Jeb). Because that worked so well in 2012, 2008, 1996 and 1992.

            And the Democrats voted AGAINST fast tracking their president’s TP trade deal and the idiot republicans FOR it.

            And I’ll bet you my next 5 paychecks that in 2016 99% of the elected officials (in partisan races) will be either Democrats or Republicans. Because LOGIC!

            This government of ours is *fundamentally* broken in ways that have NOTHING to do with politics. The personal information of 12 to 14 million people (I assume I’m that bunch) was stolen by a foreign government and NO ONE WILL GET PUNISHED. NO ONE. Lois Learner. The EPA got caught working fist in glove with environmentalists and NO ONE even got their peepee slapped. The TSA.

            But we’re hella interested in Jenner’s Genitals and Orange being the new Black because LOGIC!

            • If you think Hillary! is the candidate to beat, you’ve been putting far too much credence in media propaganda. There’s a huge and growing gap between what the media talks about and what the public cares about. That is one of the driving factors behind Fox News’ popularity. The candidate to beat is whoever wins the GOP nomination, which unless things drastically change over the next year isn’t going to be Bush.

              Almost all partisan elections go to Republicans or Democrats because of math. A first-past-the-post election system has one stable state: Two political parties. One political party will split over some policy difference, but any further fracturing will be constrained by the loss of political power splitting the vote entails.

              • William O. B'Livion

                Hillary is being presented by the Media as the next president, and while there’s a few fringe lefists going at her in the media, for the most part she (or Bill) have the cowed. This is a huge problem.

                And yes, I know that there is an increasing gulf between what the media wants me to care about and what I do care about, but I listen to the talk around me, and I’m not so certain. Fox News (given my limited exposure to it) tends to talk about the same things, just from a different angle, and that angle tends to a not very useful one, but one that pulls eyeballs.

                The problem is that whomever they do nominate, and whomever the Republicans nominate, and whomever eventually gets elected at the federal level (congress and the president), they won’t hold the bureaucracy accountable, they won’t fire anyone for cause (other than the most trivial and egregious crap, and even then mostly lower level. Hell, the SS practically had to get caught schtupping prostitutes on the clock to get lower level peons fired and upper level ones “allowed to resign”.

                Did anyone watch to see if they got re-hired?

                One must, I guess, tolerate a certain level of minor corruption. Alcohol and drug abuse, infidelity, a bit of patronage and nepotism, but what goes on in our government on a daily basis, from Lois Lerner attempting to rid Obama of a few troublesome priests to the EPA astroturfing new regulations to the FCC granting itself the power to regulate the internet–and we get stuck on what figurehead to chisel onto the prow.

                Americans are about to experience what Germany, the USSR, Zimbabwe and Venezula did, and we’re even less prepared.

                Oh, and we’ll be cheering on our tribal leaders as the drive us over the cliff.

  7. I watched the season ending episode of Game of Thrones last night.
    I have a very strong stomach, but came away disturbed. This is an HBO premium product. The sets are amazing, the production values fantastic, the CGI state of the art. They have fire breathing dragons, and people riding on them. And quite literally a cast of thousands.
    And every episode is filled with incest, rape, torture, and murder. The show’s treatment of women seems intentionally to pander to the sickest fantasies of the worst possible misogynists.
    Never a big fan of GRRM, but I read all his Wild Card series and mostly liked them. Didn’t ever pick up GoT and now I never will. I really don’t know how faithfully the show tracks his books and honestly I’m now afraid to find out.

    • I read the wrap-up on the Daily Mail (yes, it’s a guilty pleasure for me) on the season-ending ep, and I was put off ever even to watching any of it, or even reading the books, as the writer of the report went down the various characters.
      \Apparently everyone dies horribly, horribly, or it’s just a matter of time until they do. Yuck. Talk about grimdark and depressing.

      It’s one thing to judiciously kill off characters – I’ve done it myself, for purposes of plot – but GoT looks to have gone waaaaay over the top.

      • Hey, at least they took out the part with the woman (I cut this out, because it really is pretty nasty and I figured it wasn’t really polite for this blog – but in the series, there really are things worse than rape).
        GRRM is a pretty kinky guy apparently.

      • “I read the wrap-up on the Daily Mail (yes, it’s a guilty pleasure for me)”

        Me too.

    • I watched it as well. I can’t name a single thing in the show that hasn’t happened, frequently, in the past, if you leave out the dragon/magic/ice zombie stuff. Some of that behavior is still current. If that behavior disgusts you, so must human history.

      • That behavior is not EVERYONE’S though.

        • No doubt. I’ve seen nothing in the show that I can interpret as GRRM approving of this behavior.

          • The problem is that, in a medieval kingdom-sized economy, you can’t have a reign of terror or an extremely brutal war for very long, because the entire country collapses. Therefore medieval-level economies generally include a lot of focus on what leaders are allowed to do and what they aren’t.

            Once you go to early modern levels of technology, or once you have an empire-sized landmass to draw taxes from, you can afford to kill and rape and plunder without destroying your own mealticket forever and ever.

            This is why the Wars of the Roses were very nice to civilians and their property, whereas the Thirty Years War didn’t give a care. This is also why Imperial Rome and China could afford to pull brutal stuff, whereas King Bob had to kiss up to his nobles and his burghers and his peasants.

            • And of course King Stephen and Empress Matilda did try to run a brutal war in England, and the entire country did collapse. Neither of them ended up winning, either; Matilda’s son scooped the crown of England only because Stephen died and he was the obvious candidate young enough to serve, after twenty years of warfare.

              But Martin copying every horrible massacre, rape, and outrage in human history, and sticking them into a single time period in a single country, is just silly. None of those characters would have followers by now, so they’d have to be doing all the hacking themselves; but they would probably all have been assassinated or lynched by their followers, realistically speaking.

              • Empress Matilda had foreign holdings to use for money, and she got foreign funding and supporters at times. If she’d had to wage war off only her English monies, she would have had to surrender a long time before twenty years were over.

              • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                I thought that war ended after the death of Stephen’s son and Stephen offered the position of heir to Matilda’s son.

              • William O. B'Livion

                > But Martin copying every horrible massacre, rape, and
                > outrage in human history, and sticking them into a
                > single time period in a single country, is just silly.

                Now, keep in mind I haven’t watched, nor read GoT, but:
                1930s Japan in East Asia.
                1938-1945 Germany in Europe.
                1920-1990 USSR in Europe and Asia.
                1968-1979 Kymer Rouge, Cambodia.
                1962–2011 Myrnmar.

                I could go on, but there’s plenty of places in the world where murder, rape and torture are the order of the day.

                Go look through http://edpoint.tumblr.com/

                Go dig up what ISIS is doing in the Middle East. Yeah, it won’t last–more than a generation or two.

                • Almost everybody you’ve just cited was modern, and often an empire also (USSR).

                  Muslims did their thing initially by robbing, raping, and murdering parts of the Persian Empire and the Roman Empire. They stopped doing it in areas of their own empires, mostly, and did the jihad in areas they didn’t own yet.

                  The steppe peoples also ripped up other people’s empires, and were notably benign and law-abiding folk inside the borders of their own empires.

                  • Ancient examples of GoT levels of killing rape, and genocide abound, if you know whereto look.Start with the Old Testament. 3rd century Rome .from 235 to 284 was nothing but a GoT flavor battle royal for leadership of the Empire. About 25-30 Emperors in that stretch, depending on how you want to count them, and none died in bed, or of natural causes, unless you count unlucky bloke that was hit by lightning.:-)

                    Nor was Julius the C. especially light-handed in his treatment of the Gauls. Estimates are he took a million slaves, after he’d killed as many.

                    Then there is the Warring States Period in China. 254 years of civil wars between seven kingdoms (sound familar?)resulted in 10 million dead.

                    The Thirty Years War was no piker.11.5 mill dead.

                    I could go one but I don’t want to be too grimdark. 🙂

                    My point is all the grimdark horrifying everyone in GoT in no way surpasses, in either quality, or quantity, the levels shown by history that humans have reached, either individually or as groups.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      And as had been said before, the fact that it’s “based on reality” has little to do with enjoying to read it.

                      Of course, if you enjoy reading it, nothing’s wrong with that. [Smile]

                    • Haven’t read a word, but I started binge- watching it last year to see what all the uproar was about I’ve mostly enjoyed. figuring out which house is which, as in who GRRM stole from. So far I’ve got the Lancasters and Yorks, Mongols, Vikings, and the Ottomans.A few others I’m undecided.

                    • We don’t know much about the early adventures of Hammurabi, the Persians nor what games were being played in the Indus and Yalu valleys but they were undoubtedly unpleasant. Nothing in GoT is unique, which gives me no problem (go ahead, rape Sansa, she’s a stupid brat anyway, all too willing to trust in the kindness of strangers; so much other grimdark has been accepted with barely a flicker why stop at this?) so much as my increasing conviction that there will be no satisfactory ending to the story (the primary reason for reading fiction rather than History is that in fiction we can pretend the winners are good guys.)

                      National Review Online’s David French says it well:

                      The best fiction doesn’t just entertain, it makes us think — sometimes in ways even the author doesn’t expect or intend. The simplistic moral reading of Thrones is “people are bad” — or, to put it in Thronespeak, “The night is dark, and full of terrors.” The better reading is that virtue is harder than we imagine, requiring sometimes-terrible choices and previously unthinkable deeds. Anyone who’s spent time at war knows this. They know of a reality where every choice appears dark, but the darkest choice of all is retreat and defeat. They know the cost of foolish trust, and they understand the incredible difficulty of building something decent out of the ashes of something horrible. They also know that the highest price you can pay isn’t your life but your very soul.

                      Some of our citizens choose to ignore these moral realities, to live out our lives as distant from the “men in the arena” as possible. To the extent they think about such men, it’s to unthinkingly admire or to ignorantly judge. The result is fantasy thinking. If we pursue just the right policies, we can defeat jihadists without killing innocents, without alienating potential allies, and at an acceptable cost in blood and treasure. If our police have the right training, they can suppress crime politely, in the proper racial ratios, and in a manner that not only fully respects civil liberties but also builds community relationships. Fantasy thinking tells us that America can’t be exceptional because it’s never been perfect — indeed, that there was some way for America to embrace “social justice” from the start and yet still exist.

                      Yet in the real world, as in Westeros, the fantasies always yield to reality. Choices are difficult, even good men must sometimes be remorseless, and winter is coming.
                      http://www.nationalreview.com/node/419776/print

                    • Thank you for your thoughts.They led me to thinkn”Is there EVER a satisfactory ending in history?” “All Quiet on the Western Front” is fairly grimdark,and WWI clearly leads to the Russian Revolution with all the blood and tears of that wardance, then to WWII ,Korea, Mao, Pol Pot and the entire bloody history of that century. It seems that in the real world, grimdark is all we get. Imagine talking to a young child born in the 1880s. They’d think that after the Civil War, it couldn’t be worse. Then give them a crystal ball. WWI, flu epidemic, Depression, WWII… and we know the rest.. They’d go suck on a revolver, or a least decide not to reproduce.

                      Today we have folks, even some historians talk about the “Pax Mongolia,” the so-called “good side” of their conquest. Trade routes were so safe “a virgin could walk from Samarkand to Damascus with a basket of gold and not be molested.” I wonder how many of the 60 million dead would have willingly died for that Pax?

                      I predict that a few hundred years from now, some history prof somewhere is going to pen a thesis about the upside of the Third Reich, saying without it and WWII and the Holocaust, the Jews would never have been given their own nation, and military tech race gave us jets and moon rockets, so it’s all good.

                      GRRM might be a Pollyanna.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      “They’d go suck on a revolver, or a least decide not to reproduce”.

                      That’s the key problem with “Grimdark”.

                      Dwelling too much on it can be dangerous to one’s life and/or mental health.

                      As a person who has problems with depression, I quite understand somebody wanting to avoid fiction that would encourage depression.

                      The “world” can be shitty enough without looking for more reasons to be depressed.

                    • I don’t disparage ANYONE for having a mental disease or how they choose to deal with it. I’ve suffered it so intensely I found myself living in abandoned houses and eating at charity kitchens. That said, I choose to stare reality in the eye. There is no courage where there is no fear.

                    • Staring reality in the eye* is fine; going all OCD examining its fecal matter is a different thing. Knowing the difference is crucial.

                      *Always being aware that reality is staring right back at you

                    • I am reminded that in Doctor Who (The first series), The Doctor (Tom Baker) had a chance to destroy the Daleks at the time of their creation, but waffled about it because their existence resulted in a whole bunch of alliances and such down the road.

                    • Gandalf the White (just after Pelennor in book): Certainly those who come after us will have troubles. But what weather they will have is not ours to rule. All we can do is leave them clean ground to till.

                    • @markomalley, Re: Grimdark
                      I’m a Bard (yes, verbal storytelling is not dead). And there is something I have observed through my own performances and observing those of others, both those I consider Great and those of lesser renown. No matter how much the audiences seem to call for dark and dismal and ‘realistic’ stories. The ones they call for, by name over and over again all have one thing in common: Hope. Often it is faint, especially in tales mimicking or based on the true historical styles, but there is always hope. These people were not worthy of the dragon’s treasure, but perhaps someday someone would be.

                      The problem I see with most of the nihlistic bits calling themselves Grimdark theses days (including what little I’ve read of Game of Thrones) is that they leave out that spark of hope. They beat you over the head with all the horrors of history, and leave out the joys of it. They tell you of the horrors of Japanese occupation of Korea and forget King Sejong or Admiral Yi Sun-Sin as they built up a kingdom and defended it (in Yi’s case to death). It’s an issue I have with a lot of study of history… so many, many places seem to focus the grim and the dark. The evil without any of the good, or with such trivial and misrepresented good that it serves to parody the good rather than counterpoint the bad.

                    • Leave out any spark of hope? GoT takes delight in stomping out that spark.

                    • Of course Hope is woven in to the human psyche, and we as a species like to believe that Good Guys win and Happy \Ever After.The most obvious example is our stubborn clinging to various religions that sell us on the idea of some flavor of immortality in a nirvana .This might have some survival value, as it tends to alleviate the bleakness of our purpose and existence.
                      We are the mayflies of the universe. It’s four billion years old, and the luckiest of us get maybe eighty years in it.

                      Unless I missed it, I’ve seen nothing in GoT that rivals the barbarity, bleakness, or violence of the Black Death, the Mongol sack of Baghdad, or the Crusader sack of Jerusalem.Or even the death toll of battles such as the Somme.We can be sure that all involved in these events hoped their asses off, and prayed like battalions of monks, to no avail

                      I’m not surprised that your audiences prefer fairy tales to reality. Most folks do, Thus the popularity of revealed religions where if you rub blue mud in your bellybutton at certain times each day, you get to come back to life and cheat Death..The truth is closer to GRRM’s precept: All Men Must Die.

                    • I’ve seen the darkness. Not so much of the human level as my husband, (he also served in the Marines as you did), but I’ve seen it bare fanged and ugly. Me? I was army and an MI geek. I rarely laid eyes on the carnage directly but I saw the breadth of it more than many. Yet even in the darkest places there were moments of light and they were not all simply crushed out. They burned on and gave rise to other sparks, some of which also survived.

                      No, what I’ve read in Game of Thrones doesn’t overtly match some pieces of history, but it does take every single spark of hope and destroy it. And what gets me is it seems to enjoy and delight in destroying those bits of hope in a way history by itself does not. All men die, but even the Norse (who make modern grimdark look like fluff) had hope. Even in Ragnarok which is the ULTIMATE ‘life sucks and then we die so drink and go boldly to your doom’ but in the fires of destruction another world is born. This isn’t a failure to see life as it is, but an acknowledgement that there is more. Not a vain fantasy. I’ve seen those too and they vanish under pressure. They crack and destroy those who believe them.

                      As for religious things, I will simply say, that just because you cannot conceive of a deity that could create a universe and still care about something as small as a human, don’t assume that others cannot, nor that such a being could not exist simply because you cannot wrap your mind around the notion. There’s something there that the human spirit requires. Evidence: While I was in Iraq Aetheists were THREE TIMES more likely to suicide than people who actually followed any religion. (The articles run did not give a break down of the rates within the faiths.)

                    • I readily admit that religion may have some survival value, so that it is selected for. If so, that in no way proves the validity of the creed , other than it may have some fortunate practical applications. Placebos work, I’ve read.

                    • Responding to several things. Sorry it took so long, life’s gotten a little crazy.

                      1) Try explaining quantum physics to a 2 year old. It’ll take him a while to get it. To REALLY get it give him a few decades and even there he won’t know everything. God’s been trying to explain the universe to us for millenia and the lesson takes a while. The Old Testament is one part history, one part law, and a whole lot of ‘ok, I’m teaching you this again. Last time you didn’t get it. Bad things happened. Let’s take it from the top and actually pay attention this time.’ If he’d started, from the top, with ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.’ He’d’ve gotten ‘yeah whatever, what are YOU smoking?’ or some equivalent response. Understanding the bible completely and in its entirety with all it’s complexities is no lightsome task. Of course people will have incomplete understandings both of the book and of God. Just like no physicist alive can claim a complete understanding of quantum physics. There is always more to learn. Enough to keep us busy, engaged, and discovering for literally eternity.

                      2) God gave man free will. Which means he allows man to use free will. Which means he’s not going to start puppeting people just because they’re going the wrong way. This means persuasion rather than forcibly ‘fixing’ people. He doesn’t want slaves. CS Lewis had a good article on that form of nonsense (his word). I’ll see if I can find the reference when next I visit my folks (they own the book it’s in. I’m doing this from the top of my head.)

                      3) Just because you can’t box it and paint it green doesn’t mean it isn’t there. And on a very serious note, doesn’t mean it can’t kill you. There is a lot out there that we cannot measure. Cannot detect. Can only see the human impact. It’s not a placebo affect, though a lot of people comfort themselves and avoid having to deal with it by saying it is. Even those who actually believe in a diety.

                      4) On the above. There is a war on. The enemy uses the fact that God will NOT puppet people to do a huge amount of damage. Most people arguing against Christianity don’t want to think about that part of the equation. Fair enough, most Christians don’t want to think about it either, except in the abstract. But that goes back to that free will thing. (Yes, I can go into more detail but this is likely not the best place. If you wish a lively discussion, I’m definitely willing to talk with you.)

                    • re: #3
                      Thanks, Wyrd, I hadn’t previously visualized demons as n-dimensional entities as incapable of manifestation in our space as we are of manifesting in 2-dimensional reality. But they can whisper to us and (under certain circumstances) grab hold of our puppet strings.

                      And they view us much as 6-year-old boys with magnifying glasses view ants.

                      As if it wasn’t bad enough that I woke this morning from a dream in which I was attempting to balance in a 400-page printout of a General Ledger detailed transactions report.

                    • Also, most people would probably freak out or melt into a puddle of mental goo in a corner gibbering if they actually were confronted by a demon they could clearly perceive.

                  • William O. B'Livion

                    Myrnmar and Cambodia are not empires by a long shot. Germany was doing as much of the killing internal to it’s previous boarders (exception, maybe, in Poland) as in the occupied territory.

                    The USSR was “Empire”, but again most of the intrigue and killing was internal to Russia.

                • Yes, but there are plenty of places where it’s not. Choosing where to situate your story is a choice.

                  And realism is not a justification. We all get 24-hour-day realism whenever we want, of a quality unsurpassed in fiction, or non-fiction. Reading can only be justified on other grounds.

                  • “Don’t be led away by those howls about realism. Remember-pine woods are just as real as pigsties and a darn sight pleasanter to be in.” — L.M. Montgomery

            • “The problem is that, in a medieval kingdom-sized economy, you can’t have a reign of terror”

              Tell that to the Mongols.

              • Mongols are pretty much the definition of “empire” that allows such things to happen, as alluded to in earlier posts.

                Had the Mongols not had the massive resource base that they did, they’d have destroyed themselves in very short order. The Mongols would have never lasted if they’d arisen somewhere on the British Isles, and tried the same sort of thing on that kind of scale–They’d have burned themselves out along with their victims.

                • I wonder how Alexander managed it. Or Sargon. Or Cyrus. Or Saladin.

                  • sanfordbegley

                    Empire, use the dictionary,

                    • I well know what the word empire means .Condescend much? 🙂 The point is, every one of those empires started as a tiny city state , and ended up an empire without “burning themselves out.. ” You can posit this as an axiom, and I can show examples of it happening almost all day long. Use your history book. 🙂

                    • They do it like the Romans did. Starting out with a small city-state, they use the plunder gained from conquering their near neighbors, and the promise of more plunder if the newest citizens join in taking on the neighbors further out.

                    • “The point is, every one of those empires started as a tiny city state , and ended up an empire without “burning themselves out.. ” You can posit this as an axiom, and I can show examples of it happening almost all day long. Use your history book.”

                      Again, look up the term empire. They didn’t burn themselves out specifically because they WERE AN EMPIRE! They started out as some Podunk nothing, but they didn’t start out by raping, burning, and pillaging Podunk. They started by raping, burning, and pillaging their neighbors, and then their neighbors neighbors, etc. Read the history of the Mongols, not only does it convincingly show the advantages of maneuverability in warfare, but notice that they had a strong, protected, and peaceful base of operations. They expanded this by conquering their neighbors (and expanded it very rapidly) which not only gave them an area in which to slake their lust for a reign of terror, but an influx of wealth. Once an area was fully conquered, they had a plan to incrementally integrate it into their empire, and while doing so incrementally decreased the reign of terror.

                      Your example of Kymer Rouge very positively shows the difference of what happens when you try a reign of terror in small area (even a modern industrialized, at least to a point, one. Which I will point out is how it happened to last as long as it did.

                      Your examples are the same ones I would use to disprove your claim.

                    • You realize that secure base of operations came into being only after generations of internecine clan warfare, GoT style. after which Temujin finally emerged as the Khan. Only then did he become Genghis Khan and begint to build the Mongol Empire.

                • Also, the mongols were also really only dicks to people dumb enough to not surrender. Once you were in their empire it wasn’t any worse, and in many cases better, then the other empires in the world at the time.

                  • You know there were times when they’d slaughter everyone even if a surrender was offered?

                    • For cause.

                      Much of the horrors of the Mongols (and please, we ought differentiate between Genghis, Kublai, Timur and others) are a consequence of one of their favorite tactics: spreading tales of terror to encourage surrender with minimal resistance. Under the reign of Genghis peace and lawful order extended over a breadth of human society arguably greater than any time before or since.

                    • With Persians, looking at the current situation their, I entirely concur with their decision.

                      Note that they were not even planning on invading Persia, but rather proposed an alliance, except that the Persians in their imminent wisdom decided to torture and mutilate the Mongols diplomats, (sound familiar?) and send their heads back to the Khan.

                      The invasion was retribution, and Genghis had stated that he would NOT accept surrender from any cities associated with decision.

                    • I was referring to a time the Mongol leader accepted the surrender on a city, then marched the citizens out into the grasslands, locking them out of the city, where they starved.

        • But all those aspiring to a higher standard of behaviour die horribly in that series, don’t they? Which makes them fools and witlings and reason for despair.


          When I want that sort of thing I can turn to Brecht & Weill who at least express it wittily and to beautiful music.

          “It’s significant that Peachum, the singer of the Insufficiency Song, is engaged in an act of treachery at the time he sings it. It may be a general rule that cynicism and a sense of futility are conducive to treachery. Often they are disguised as worldliness or so-called realism.”
          alarob.wordpress[DOT]com/2010/03/18/a-song-of-insufficiency/

      • Much of that behavior is still common today, well yes, and sadly so. Does it disgust me, very much so. What I cannot fathom is how anyone can hold this country up against most of the rest of the world and deny American exceptionalism. Are we perfect? Of course not, always room for improvement.
        As to GoT, to me the show not only portrays a distopian grimdark world, it seems to glory in it. Given that it’s all an act and apparently appeals to a broad audience, more power to them. I find the show disturbing, the last few episodes in particular.

        • I honestly believe that it is really a reflection of his politics and his beliefs.
          This is what he believes the world is.

          • What are his politics? Is he a monarchist?

            • He’s a leftist in good standing, so yes.

              • So, as a monarchist, he’s spent years writing books portraying monarchies as evil, brutal, barbaric regimes to do what? Convince us to come over to the Kingly Dark Side?

                • Nobody has ever (accurately) accused leftists of having a surfeit of brains.

                  • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                    I think it was commented that Martin was intending to write a major non-heroic fantasy.

                    He starts out with the “traditional” heroic fantasy with mysterious “evil forces” on the other side of the Wall.

                    But has given us the English War of Roses. [Frown]

                    Perhaps his “motive” is to show “how nasty real “fantasy” warfare would be”.

                    Of course, not being a Liberal, I can’t read the minds of other people. [Wink]

          • I haven’t watched the HBO series but have gathered that this season’s storyline have diverged (in some cases significantly) from the books (already bad enough, but HBO cannot pause production awaiting GRRM’s next installment, if only because many of the principals’ tits will be sagging beyond repair.) Some element thus must be attributed to the show-runner for the HBO adaptations, who I have understood is Neil Gaiman.

            In this way we may be participating in a unique story-telling experiment, with two authors developing a story source material in two different directions. Imagine if Gordon Dickson had fallen ill after publication of the first two installments of Dorsai! had been published in Astounding and the editors prevailed upon Heinlein or Poul Anderson to write the concluding third of the serial?

            • Anderson would’ve been ok. they’d collaborated before.

              • Ho ho hoka.

                But Poul would likely have taken it in a different direction.

                I can envision an anthology in which author A writes the first portion of a novella (half, two-thirds, whatever) and lets three or four authors complete it. It would be taking the “shared world” concept a step further.

                Not beiing an author, I wouldn’t presume to know whether it would interest any authors to attempt this nor whether friendships could survive the results. 😉

                • Randy Wilde

                  I can envision an anthology in which author A writes the first portion of a novella (half, two-thirds, whatever) and lets three or four authors complete it.

                  How about if an author wrote the LAST quarter or fifth of a short piece, and then had various other authors complete it? Sure the reader would know what the ending would be (after the first one… maybe the first author’s?), but it might be interesting to see how the others get there. 🙂

            • In fact, HBO has announced that either this season just concluded wasn’t or the next one will not be based on the books at all; they’re just using the world setting.

            • Nah, the experiment is hardly unique. It happens all the time in manga-to-anime adaptations. Sometimes the two diverge, sometimes the anime will create filler while waiting for the next major story arc.

              My family and I are watching an anime called “Fairy Tail”, and you could tell where the fillers are: they are pretty horrible, and barely true to canon (and that’s being nice to them…)

        • How did Spider Robinson put it? “America routinely fails to live up to its ideals, but it surely has some of the best ideals one could hope to fail to live up to” (paraphrase from Very Bad Deaths)

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        Yes that sort of thing happens in history but good things happen in history as well.

        Of course, the books/movies are based on an extremely nasty period of history which nobody here would want to live in.

        Of course, Mark if nobody would want to live in that period of history, why would we want to read about it or watch it?

        • Why does anyone want to watch/read horror stories, war stories, or about vampires, zombies, wicked witches, orcs, wargs, etc.? This argument implies readers and authors identify with and approve of the plot and characters. those of you that are published – have you ever written a world you’d rather not live in?.

          • ” have you ever written a world you’d rather not live in?.”

            Well, yes. It makes a great place for characters to escape from.

            • Randy Wilde

              In high school, I really liked Orwell’s 1984 (okay, so I graduated in 1983). I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to read a whole series of books in that world unless there was a significant change to the theme.

              • Are we to deduce that since Blair wrote of Oceania, he approved of it? This seems to be the way some conclude that GRRM is hankering for a GoT reality.

                • Randy Wilde

                  I don’t recall EB putting as much effort into describing his world as GRRM seems to have done.

                  • I seem to recall reading here that fantasy authors NEED to put a lot of work into world construction, be it Westeros, Middle Earth, Oz, or Narnia. EB, not so much.

                • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                  Orwell’s book was a warning. Not sure what Martin is playing at.

                  • Making bank by offering interesting, if not lily-white,characters, entwined in a convoluted, unpredictable plot, in an intricately well-constructed, fantasy worid? I would think that self-evident among a group of authors.

                    • Well, convoluted and unpredictable, and original epic world-building, but the very fate of major characters is beginning to be a bit predictable. They die, horribly-horribly.
                      At this point it would be a radical step in the story to have a major character die in bed, of old age and natural causes, just for the charm of variety.

                    • You mean like the guy who preceded Jon as the head of the Knight’s Watch? The one that died in bed from old age?

                    • So there was one? Shocker. Must have relieved the monotony which I sense through reading about it all.
                      Usually with a ripping-good miniseries, with so much interest and high production values and all, I’d be willing to check out a book or two, just to see what it’s all about. But with GoT, I’ve been actually moved in the other direction. It just all seems terribly nihilistic. Not my cuppa, but I certainly don’t grudge anyone else their enjoyment, if it is theirs.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      Good Point.

                      YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary) always applies to “what you like to read”.

                      As for Martin’s series, I’m thinking that I’ll be waiting to be sure that the latest book in that series is the *last* book of the series.

                      Definitely would want to pick that book up in a bookstore so I could read the last chapter. [Grin]

                    • Waiting for all to be out would be my recommendation. While Martin writes well enough for any 10 – 30 page stretch to be enjoyable the overwhelming dragging down of every likable character drags the healthy ready down over time. Some of the character arcs offer hope but hope almost invariably turns into disappointment and despair.

                      Moreover, the inherent dynamic of a series such as this* dictates that the next book, as the penultimate entry, will be exceedingly dark. It is only after the concluding book is available (given Martin’s pace that might require “Brandon Sanderson”) that we will know if he has provided a satisfactory** conclusion.

                      *Does this need to be explained?

                      **For certain values of satisfactory; your mileage may vary, check for potential side effects and negative reactions before consuming.

                    • Given the demonstrated bent of GRRM’s series, I suspect that any such character who died of old age in his own bed would be a persona of consummate evil, as that is the only type of person who could so contrive matters to that end.

                      Villains may be the most fascinating characters in a tale but taken too much they crush the story under the weight of their ambitions. There be reason why Marvel never successfully managed a Dr. Doom comic nor DC a Lex Luther’s Adventures.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      DC attempted a Joker series but it was short lived. Apparently, the Joker used the asylum as a “place to stay between crimes”. Oh, during the series when he decided to leave the asylum he made sure Batman was “out of town”. [Wink]

                    • BobtheRegisterredFool

                      If he doesn’t tie things up inside around a year and a half, and if the past is a reasonable guide, it is plausible that he may never finish.

                      The political hissy fits could be used as evidence that there is something beyond money motivating him.

                      Given the proclivities of the Clintons, the feminist SJW whining about all the rapes perhaps almost sounds reasonable. The timing seems really questionable for him to be wanting Bill and Hillary to seem like normal people.

                    • I don’t know anything about him at all. Other than the series haven’t read the books, any interviews, nada. I haven’t seen anything on the show that screams SJW. If he conks over, he won’t be the first to leave unfinished work behind. Vergil died before the Aeneid was finished, and he worked on that for a decade.

                    • Ah. Yes. I’ve met him. He IS a man of the nihilist left.

                    • BobtheRegisterredFool

                      He is a Democrat who in the past essentially refused to work on the series while a Republican held the office of President. Now, I’m not saying that the Republicans are absolutely going to get at least two terms.

                      I am saying that the Democrats have a weak bench, George Martin seems to work at a rate of years per book, and he is old.

                    • Do you think,as a practical matter, he’ll be able to prevent some wordsmith from tossing words on the scaffolding he’s erected after he croaks?

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      Somebody else might do a better job.

                      Note, I’ll not tempt fate by saying that “Somebody else could not do worse than Martin”. [Evil Grin]

                    • My ask here is would his estate be able to stop someone from doing so?

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      Oh that!

                      Yes, his estate/heirs could prevent somebody trying to “finish” the series without permission.

                      For that matter, no publisher would publish such works unless the estate/heirs authorized the new books.

                    • Seems the TV guys are steady free-styling, as those with knowledge of both (not me) say the plots are different and diverging. So, can they finish the show without him?

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      It depends on the contract between Martin and the company that’s making the series.

                      However, IMO if something happened to Martin, his heirs/estate have good reasons to come to a deal to finish the book series and the show.

                      It’s slightly different than the Robert Jordan situation (Jordan knew he won’t live to finish Wheel of Time) but I suspect that we would see a deal to finish the Game of Thrones book series and the television series.

                    • This is strictly RumInt but I read that GRRM has left something with HBO in case of his death. I don’t remember if it’s a story or an outline or what.

                    • I suspect the heirs/estate would LEAP to hire someone to finish it. (A la Robert Jordan’s work.)

                      I also note that when Sad Puppies blew up this year, he confessed that for years and years, he had been saying that the Hugo belonged to the fans, but he had been lying, no it belonged to — I forget exactly, Worldcon I suspect, being in denial that Sad Puppies were part of Worldcon.

                    • BobtheRegisterredFool

                      Going off fanfic, I think if nothing else, the fans would buy the rights from the estate and hire someone sensible to finish it.

                    • Ah, but which fans? and how would they organize and put together their pennies?

                    • Kickstarter, of course.

                    • BobtheRegisterredFool

                      There are a few authors on FFN whose recommendations I check regularly. I see a lot of GoT stuff I have little interest in, but going off of summaries, if that stuff is representative, it is not the fans of torture porn.

                    • BobtheRegisterredFool

                      FanFiction dot Net

                • Or concluding that Kratman is hankering for a Caliphate.

                  SOMETIMES a storyteller has to say, “If that is what you call for, this is what you’ll likely receive.”

                  • At that point,the best historians become authors, only constrained to using stories that have demonstrably happened, though that line is inchoate.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              Or fight to change.

          • Here’s the question, do most people want to read horror stories about vampires sucking humanity dry or about the vampires trying to retain their humanity despite becoming blood sucking monsters (or about vampire hunters but I want to stick with the vampires here)?

            • The Other Sean

              As opposed to the vampire hunters, who want to stick it to the vampires.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              Nod. Barbara Hambly’s vampire novels are interesting this way.

              While the main story line involves humans having to ally with one or more vampires in order to fight a “greater evil” (or another vampire), the main vampire character is not a “nice” guy yet….

              He is a predator and doesn’t deny it.

              He makes it clear that it’s better for humans to not get involved with his kind even to hunt them. (Vampires tend to avoid humans who attempt to hunt them. All the better to ensure human society remains unbelieving in vampires.) So vampire hunters generally ruin their own lives (and reputations) trying to hunt vampires.

              Yet you have to wonder just how much of a monster he really is?

              You get the idea that he cares about the two humans he associates with (rarely and only when there’s serious need) but they are his “natural prey”.

              Of course, he’s around four hundred years “dead” and most vampires die before they reach one hundred years (mostly via carelessness).

              If he really “regrets” being a vampire, it would be so easy for him to end his “unlife”.

              Perhaps, there’s a clue in the first book. A very much older vampire seems to regret being one but fears what would happen if he commits the “mortal sin” of suicide. Oh that much older vampire does “commit suicide” but it could be said that his means of suicide was necessary to save human lives.

              So perhaps, Barbara’s main vampire character is not willing to risk suicide? Note, he is a Spanish vampire and in life considered himself Catholic.

              • You get the idea that he cares about the two humans he associates with (rarely and only when there’s serious need) but they are his ‘natural prey’.

                Perhaps this is merely an expression of the way in which a cat will adopt a bird or mouse as a pet, a relationship that may possibly even outlast the predator’s next desire for a meal.

                If you accept that vampires, as ex-humans, retain a need for social interaction this carries some credence.

                Of course, nowadays vampires can go on the internet for all the social interaction they need …

                • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                  Well, the books haven’t reached WWI so the internet is out of the question. [Wink]

                  Seriously, we don’t know much about Ysidro’s personal life. (He’s never been a Point Of View character). There are hints that he has a hobby (he commented that vampires that don’t have one aren’t worth knowing), it’s known that he has some “relationships” with the other Vampires of London and that years ago he had a relationship with a human woman who he refused to “make” a vampire. He believed (apparently correctly) that the relationship wouldn’t survive her becoming a vampire. She did become one of the Vampires of St Petersburg and never returned to London.

                  Oh he’s not the Master Vampire of London nor was he “made” by the current Master. He has an interesting relationship with the Master of London. While Ysidro “looks down” on the Master as the Master was a commoner (Ysidro was a noble), he’s the same age as the Master thus the Master is the only person he knows from his beginnings as a Vampire. One of the apparent causes of a Vampire’s “final death” is their reactions to “how the world changes during their “unlife”. So there’s something “enjoyable” for them about a person that is “always remaining”. [Smile]

                  • Birthday girl

                    I also love Hambly’s take on vampires. One walks that razor edge between sympathy for the devil and horror of his deep evil, and the vampire himself walks that edge when he finds his humans necessary accomplices. Then you see the unrestrained sort of evil in the Russia group. It’s (dare I say) nuanced and flexible, while still retaining her trademark eldritch scritching tension of horror.

                    Related: when we first read her Darwath trilogy, back in the 80’s, it was weeks before I stopped seeing things out of the corner of my eye …

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      I loved Ysidro’s revenge in the Russian book.

                      Blackmail me into making you a Vampire?

                      Now you’re a Vampire and *under my control*.

                      Go stand where the sunlight can hit you and stay there until I say otherwise. [Very Big Evil Grin]

          • William O. B'Livion

            In many of those stories the good guys win out in the end.

            Look at Ringo’s Black Tide Rising, yeah sh!t is *awful* and people are *dying*, but in the end they win.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            Tastes vary in reading fiction. Some people can enjoy more “intense” story lines and others don’t enjoy such story lines.

            In the case of Martin’s series, there’s an additional factor.

            Most people who enjoy the more intense story lines “need” a breather within the story.

            IE the author gives the characters (and the readers) “break points” so to speak. Scenes where the characters and the readers are not in “deep sh*t”.

            Martin doesn’t seem to give the readers those scenes (and I expect the TV show doesn’t either).

            Of course, with this series Martin doesn’t seem to give any idea of “when’s it going to end” and a feeling that the “good guys” will win.

            Of course, are there any “good guys” in the series that survive?

            Of course, in my case, Martin set up a situation at the beginning of an invasion from “alien” bad guys from behind the wall but seems more interested in having the humans kill themselves off so the “alien” bad guys won’t have anybody to kill. [Frown]

            • Martin has openly avowed that he’s written the stories to undermine the classic tropes. Such as, killing people whom readers would expect to be the heroes.

              The problem with that is, of course, that the classic tropes got that way for a reason.

            • I’ve read the series up to the fifth (and I believe most recent) “novel” (scare quotes deliberate; he didn’t write no #$!@ing novel, he just reached a target page count and stopped) and have concluded GRRM has succumbed to Philip Jose Farmer Disease also known as Riverworld Syndrome.) Symptoms include an endless unfocused plot, extended digressions in pursuit of secondary (at best) characters and interminable delays between books published. Unless a strong emetic editor is provided soon any hope for a satisfactory recovery is slight.

              GRRM may not be my b!tch* but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a b!tch or the son of one.

              *Pronunciation tip: the ! in that word is a glottal stop.

              • I quit when I looked at the Feast of Crows in the library and realized that the last book had barely moved the plot, and I didn’t care.

    • Carrington Dixon

      I liked the Haviland Tuf stories when they first appeared in Analog. I like the subsequent works not so much. I read the original Game of Thrones book. I finished it but had no desire to purchase the sequels. I saw the first few episode of the TV series and had pretty much the same reaction. I conclude that GRRM’s work is generally not to my taste; either in print or adapted.

    • That is pretty much why I picked up the first book of GoT when it came out, read it, and never bothered with the rest of the series. I simply couldn’t interest myself in these people. Oh it looked like an interesting world but none of the characters where ones I wanted to follow the adventures of. ::shrug:: oh well that was just my sense of them from the series. But then I’m not a fan of grimdark.

      • I’ve read all but the last book, and have been on Team Sweet Meteor of Death* ever since.
        Instead, I’m rereading Howard’s Conan stories. While the Hyborian world could be both grim and dark, it’s not nihilistic the way GRRM’s Westeros is.

        *Or Deadpool. If they inserted Deadpool, & had him kill everyone, that would be awesome!

        • It is the essential nihilism of grimdark that I don’t like. I have no problem with Grim or Dark as part of a story. Hell I’ll even read an occasional grimdark but only occasional it isn’t something I like a steady supply of.

          • In heavy metal, a fast, heavy riff gets tiring. In movies, non-stop action gets tiring.
            GRRM’s constant grimdark has become really, really tiring.
            And as others have pointed out, he goes out of his way to hurt and destroy any of his characters with any sort of virtue.
            He’s a nihilist, Donny.

    • Yeeeeah, GRRM is supposed to be all that, I’m thinking no. His stories tend to be disturbing. If I want disturbing I’ll just drive through down town Hamilton with the windows down.

  8. They want the government to control everything, because they believe they will be the ones controlling the government (or at least people who are the exact same as them).
    So they believe they will get the privilege and the perks, while those they don’t like or disagree with, will be sent to re-education camps, or stood up against the wall.
    Look at the campaign messages of all the leftists, they are always done to send that message: ‘We are like you, the down trodden, and we will punish those who are not!’

    • Exactly! When the shit hits the fan there will be blood in the streets.

    • Is it that they believe they will control everything or that they believe, “We put them in power to do what’s best for us, so they won’t hurt us,” similar to the blind trust that an infant has that mommy and daddy will protect them? When you combine the infantile trust in parents with an utter lack of understanding of history/how the real world works, they assume that someone/something else can be trusted to do what’s best for THEM – it also requires a complete lack of understanding of consequences – intended and unintended. It is the result of everybody getting a trophy, no answer being wrong, and having everything handed to you.

      The Soviets always claimed the West was decadent. Was that because the section of our population that sucked up to them was/is, and that was all they really saw?

      • They believe that they will control everything.

        They believed that the west was decadent because they were incredibly decadent themselves. Go research how the ruling elite lived in Soviet Russia, they lived like kings. They killed any they did not like, and took for their pleasure anyone and anything, that they wanted.

      • That (“the blind trust that an infant”) would explain the immaturity evident in their arguments and expectations.

        I think the Soviets claims that the West was decadent was simply because they found it an effective form of name-calling, serving to annoy us while making their own subjects feel noble for enduring their culture of widely distributed poverty.

    • Randy Wilde

      I’ve offered to accept the ideal of “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs” before, as long as I’m the one who decides what people’s abilities and needs are. For some reason, nobody has accepted the compromise.

      • Isn’t “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs” the slave-holder’s offer?

        While it makes sense within a family unit, society is decidedly not a family … for one thing, we’ve far too many funny uncles and crazy aunties.

      • “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs” is a very good Individualist goal. I look at my abilities, and I look at your needs, and I help you accordingly. If you pay me, that’s called work or commerce, and if you don’t pay me, that’s called charity. When everyone is doing this, we have a very nice society indeed!

        When “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs” becomes the motto of the Bureaucrat, and it is the Bureaucrat telling me what I can do, and what my needs are…this only leads to pain, suffering, blood, and concentration camps.

        So I consider myself a Communis of a sort–a Free Market Communist–because the alternative State Bureaucrat Communism only leads to evil.

  9. Two thoughts:

    1) Definitely understand about the “darkness” factor. For a while it’s seemed to me that “intelligent” and “sophisticated” have come to mean “grimdark.” Not that there isn’t a place for grimdark, but the mentality seems to have become that a work of art must be about torture and murder and general horribleness or it’s just “pollyannaish kid’s stuff.” On multiple things, including Battlestar Galactica and Song of Ice and Fire, I’ve fallen victim to “darkness induced apathy”: I stop watching or reading because the world is so bad I don’t see how it can get better, and the people are so terrible that I no longer care what happens to them.

    2) As to the question of how people who believe that humans are really this horrible could accept a strong, activist government, I think it’s the Hobbes mentality: the state of nature and it’s all-against-all battlefield is so horrible that literally anything must be better than that. Yes, the government is composed of selfish bastards, but there are only a few of them, and there’s at least a chance you’ll be lucky enough not to catch their eye, whereas in the state of nature, you’re almost guaranteed to be someone’s victim.

    Of course, Hobbes was positing only two choices: anarchy or tyranny. Given the third alternative of a limited government that protects you against the bad guys, including its own members, it’s hard to see why anyone wouldn’t choose that.

    • I would add that a common theme against Libertarians is “if you think anarchy is so great, you should move to Somalia”. Now, it might be debatable as to whether or not Somalia is a true anarchic society (it’s currently controlled by warlords, which some say is what anarchy degenerates into…but I’m aware of at least one example where a near-anarchic state existed without warlords), but one thing is clear: whatever government or lack thereof Somalia currently has, it’s better than the Communist government they had before it collapsed into its current state!

      So there you have it: anarchy is better than Communism. (I have concluded that any society that makes an effort to respect Life, Liberty and Property, and encourage the Pursuit of Happiness, is going to prosper, and any society advocating Egalite, Fraternite, and Liberte, is going to get mired in bureaucracy.)

  10. Federalist #51 “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”

    • While I totally agree with the point, the pedant in me would point out that if men were angels, God would still be in control. And if we were governed by angels, let’s not forget that Lucifer and his minions were angels at one point…

      • Are you implying God is not in control?

        • Is a deliberately relaxed grip the same as not having a grip?

        • He means that the good angels are governed primarily by God directly, whereas humans at this time have God as king primarily through His rulebook and through personal family relationship. Otherwise, He’s the “Emperor-Over-Sea.”

          But at any rate, angels are pure spirit and don’t require food, water, air, dwelling places, or any of the other physical requirements that those of us with bodies have. Also, after the initial decisionmaking, it would appear that beings of pure spirit can’t change their minds; and good angels are directly given a fair amount of absolutely true knowledge by God. This is absolutely alien to the way humans work. Government by angels would be more like government of children by parents, because the capabilities are so different; but it wouldn’t be satisfying for adult humans to be governed that way.

          • How much government would they need?

            How much government would WE need, if we were all just and did not even want to use force or fraud on each other?

        • Suburbanbanshee interpreted my ravings quite well, but I think it’s necessary for me to add, no, God is, IMO, most definitely in control.

          • Does allowing Free Will mean He is in or not in control? Is this an inherent contradiction or, presuming Him to be a being whose existence transcends Time & Space, is the entire question of “control” simply an illusion?

            • You neglect the Deist possibility. He is omnipotent but indifferent, or simply can’t be bothered.

            • “Does allowing Free Will mean He is in or not in control?”

              That word allow means that yes he is in control, he is “allowing” us to use Free Will, meaning he is actually “controlling” us by giving us the opportunity to do what we want, it is his choice to let us exercise Free Will.

          • Being raise Jehovah Witness, God is not in control.

        • How would you be able to tell? That is the question. God is. This much I’m reasonably sure of. God is in control? Dunno. In control of what? To what end?

          If you try to do something and can’t, like go faster than light, or know the position and the velocity of a particle both at the same time, or even stand up and sit down simultaneously, then that’s probably God, being in control. Otherwise, God seems willing to let us f- things up roundly.

          • I can’t imagine an entity with the ability to create the universe giving a damn what I eat on Friday, where I go on Sunday, and has self-esteem issues, so that I need to tell him daily that he’s The Schizzzle to buck him up.

            • Tossing lightly aside the claims of “self-esteem issues,” I point out that you are assuming that fundamentally God has to be human, and therefore the larger the picture He has to deal with, the less He can deal with the small details.

              Maybe he’s not limited like that.

              • Not at ALL. I’d argue that the assignation of human emotions to the Creator is a supreme insult to him, and a product of our own hubris and narcissism, to imagine ourselves anything having anything in common with him.

                • Everything we deal with, we do so in terms of our own experience; we have no other terms.

                  As for whether we have anything in common with him, who are we to say?

                  • If you’re a Xian, their Holy Nook has lots to say about the nature of God, to include describing hims as jealous, angry, vengeful and other qualities we do not find admirable in humans, much less supreme beings.

            • You miss the point — it isn’t that He needs those things. It is that we so badly reek of sin that to be acceptable in his sight we need to do some very heavy soul-cleansing, and the disciplines and abasement are the spiritual equivalent of generously applied under-soul deodorant.

              Even then, according to some theologies, we make Him gag (you don’t want to make Him puke) unless we’ve been washed with a special cleansing agent.

              • Hmmm. I have a daughter. You could infect her with leprosy, marinate her in a septic tank for a week, and the sight or touch of her would not make me gag. We are his children, so it is written. Is your theology such that your deity is not able to approach even fallen human levels of parental love?

                • Perhaps you need to read his book — it is not I that declares the stench of sin is intolerable to Him. Start with Isa. 65:5

                  Perhaps you should take it up with Him, assuming you can imagine He cares what you think

                  • I’ve read it, studied it, argued with Jesuits about it for four years. I found their arguments unconvincing, their theology ridden with fallacies. 🙂

                    • Are you that confident Jesuits understand Him that you accept them as his stand-in?

                    • Well, they study apologetics for years, so I think they’re about the best the Xians have, but if it makes you feel any better, I’ve roughed up a bunch of Protestants, too. I’ve gad Gfs drag me to their Bible Study class, and the leaders were dismayed I knew the Bible better than they did.

            • BTW: “I can’t imagine an entity with the ability to create the universe“.

              Is where you should stop.

              • Explain to me why I should?

                • Unless you can imagine an entity with the ability to create the universe, anything afterward is meaningless.

                  If you are able imagine such an entity, that is what you should convey.

                  • It isn’t me putting a human face personality, and sensibilities on the Creator.

                    • No, it is Him dictating His views through the limitations of human language. Rejecting His word because of the limits of your imagination strikes me as a failure of imagination and logic.

                    • So you put it beyond the Creator’s reach to concoct the words to make his thoughts clear? Or just that we were purposely created with an inability to understand him, and he’s not seen fit to fix that flaw?

                    • How many dimensions are you fluent in? Have you mastered the concept of simultaneity? Do you know of any human language able to express that, other than mathematics?

                      We are created to think in, what – three and a half dimensions? Perhaps the limit is inherent in human consciousness, but that does not necessarily make it a flaw, merely a limit — something He apparently had in mind fro the start.

                      As for fixing that flaw, my impression is that if we only take Him on faith in this life He will fix it in the upgrade to the next.

      • Angels, in this context, are the unfallen subset.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      Nod, I’ve used a shorten version of that as a sig line.

  11. They think they’re angels

  12. sabrinachase

    My mother kept recommending mysteries to me that had nobody win. Even when the murderer is caught, it just makes things even more depressing and gloomy. Nobody is happy. The used to be only from England, but now I see the trend over here too.

    While I support the idea that everyone has different tastes in reading material, this strikes me as being a more fundamental problem. “Stories” are about a situation, with characters, and how they deal with it. Humans like stories that tell them how to survive, or figure out a problem. There is absolutely no use in stories that tell you how to *fail*. Everyone knows how to do that already 😀 Which is, I think, why these hopeless grimdark stories are not selling. Especially in times like these.

    • reddragonhawk

      I like stories where someone I can admire (no, he doesn’t have to be perfect, just not despicable) struggles through hardship but ultimately overcomes in some way. Supposedly that proves I am childish or something. ::shrugs:: I’m a grown up person who sits around a table pretending to be a knight in shining armor who tames dragons, so probably guilty as charged.

    • There’s Polyannas (cheerful optimists);
      There’s grimdarks;
      There’s the “cheerful pessimism” of Schopenhauer;
      And then there’s the dark optimist. I identify with that fourth category 😉

      • Dark optimist. I like it.

        This is the guy who sees how f-ed it all is, sees how hard it will be to fix, and then goes and fixes it anyway because he’s just That Guy.

        That’s who I wanna be when I grow up. That Guy.

    • I am reminded of a review, IIRC by Don & Maggies Thompson of CBG, of a mystery so laden with unlikable characters that the reviewer claimed to not only not care whodunnit but to wish he’d done much more of it.

    • walkerhound

      it’s one of the selling points of “Scandinavian” fiction/mysters….there all at lest kind of depressing. When you first read one it’s deferent and kind of interesting…..but when that’s what ALL of the stories are like (because it’s the fashion) it’s just unintristing.

      • Actually, that’s not just fiction. The music as well. Even lyrics of bands I really like (Opeth, the latest Katatonia album) are incredibly bleak.

        But there is a physiological reason for that — seasonal affective disorder (SAD) at those very Northern latitudes. Long winters with almost no daylight must have been an ordeal for the moody among us, in the days before we had a clue what to do about SAD.

    • Mystery novels are supposed to be about not so much a happy ending, but a just ending. Justice is re-established, the guilty are punished though the heavens fall, and so things are better. The POV can be very dark and/or noir, but there has to be justice. Down these mean streets a man must go.

      If people who don’t believe in justice write mysteries, they are just wasting readers’ time.

      Now thrillers are a different kettle of fish. Sometimes the baddies can win, if it’s a crime/horror thriller. But I mostly don’t read thrillers or horror, so I mostly don’t care what they do in those genres.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        To me, the Hallmark of Horror is the Strange & Dangerous invading the “world” of people who don’t expect it and/or don’t even know of its existence.

        Stephen King’s _Salem’s Lot_ is a good example IMO. The town of Salem’s Lot was not the place to expect Vampires and nobody in the town really believed in them.

        Now IMO the Hallmark of a Good Horror story is the Good Guys win even if they can’t “get back to normal”.

        In _Salem’s Lot_, the surviving Good Guys are forced to flee the town but come back in daylight and destroy the town with fire hopefully destroying the vampires.

        Not a great victory, but they have won although they now have to live out their lives worrying about Vampires that may exist elsewhere.

        Judging by the last Horror Movies that I’ve seen, there appears to be a trend of having endings where the viewers learn that the Good Guys didn’t really win or endings where “everybody dies”.

        Which IMO is something of a downer. [Frown]

        • H.P. Lovcraft’s universe is essentially grimdark, with the message of “we’ve won… for now”. But, the Great Old Ones are essential Chaotic Neutral. They don’t really know about humanity, and don’t especially care (except Nyarlanthotep…).

          • I get that from… some of Lovecraft. And then other stories don’t even seem to suggest a temporary win, and still other times I think my suspension of disbelief cracks because he takes for granted that something would be sanity-breaking that doesn’t strike me as necessarily so. Bad, maybe, even extremely bad, and some of them work better if I assume there is a psychoactive effect being exerted on the human characters, but sometimes it seems like their minds start to break over ideas that don’t altogether warrant it.

            But then, I can’t really provide examples because I didn’t commit details to memory, and maybe I skimmed too much, and certainly some of his characters made it through things that would set me to at least temporary gibbering. *shrug* But I still retain the impression that some of the stories take for granted mental breakdowns over concepts that a sturdier personality might have borne.

            • For the most part, fewer Lovecraft protagonist fall into gibbering insanity than pop culture holds.
              Plus, there’s a lot of “It Was His Sled” (trope!) where the mythos is concerned.

              • Yeah, that’s also true, some of them hold up fine, even in the limited selection I got around to. It’s just I seem to remember others being disturbed at a very visceral level (and maybe having breakdowns) over things that left me going “….okay?”

  13. In terms of their characters this, which I wrote to an author at Tor who I regularly buy this morning as part of an apology for perhaps missing her next book:

    ” I come to you for fun stories about people with whom I like to spend time. Don’t underestimate the later part of that, by the way. It is why the most popular and celebrated TV of recent years such as Breaking Bad remains unwatched by me and why several celebrated authors won’t get another look from me. My time to read is precious. I see no reason to spend it with people I avoid if it all possible in real life.”

    I don’t get this fascination with petty and nasty people. I watched the first few episodes of Breaking Bad when it was more traditional tragedy (fall of a otherwise good person due to a fatal flaw) but that lasted, what, four episodes? The Sopranos, Sons of Anarchy, Mad Men, Game of Thrones, etc are populated by people I’d never invite into my living room if they were real. Why should I invite them if they were imaginary.

    I’d much rather read about flawed people, even flawed people who cut corners and sometimes do bad things, who are trying to fight the people such shows and their soulmate books champion. That’s why for TV Criminal Minds, Burn Notice, Leverage, and so on fill my Netflix queue. It is why a certain Athena Hera Sinistra is someone who I’ll read a book about but her father as protagonist would remain on the shelf.

    I live with my own evils and bad acts. Why do I want to celebrate those of others even if they are imaginary?

    • reddragonhawk

      I would embroider this on a pillow, but it’d have to be a big darned pillow.

      • They now offer pillows 5 – 6 feet long, calling them body pillows for those who desire something to wrap themselves about that won’t toss & turn all night through

    • Here is the thing. As a conservative I believe all humans are flawed (most emphatically including yours truly). But we can try to learn from our mistakes, rise above them, and try to grow as people instead of wallowing in the mud like pigs. “It is not upon you to complete the work, but neither are you free to shirk from it.”

      • As a Mormon conservative so-called anarcho-capitalist, I believe that every human is enticed to do both good and evil. Thus, it is important to recognize the evil of our souls, and overcome it, and it is important to search for the good, and reach for it.

        I find it ironic that those who believe in the inherent goodness of humans also believe that we need a strong government telling everyone what to do, in order to bring out the inherent goodness. That these same people believe that humans are corrupted by society makes this issue even more of a paradox: what is society in their eyes, if it isn’t government?

        (I also admit that anarcho-capitalism has its own inherent paradox: anarcho-capitalist societies seem to work best when the people are law-abiding. But then, part of the problem is a matter of terminology: anarcho-capitalists don’t believe in a society without laws, so much as a society where laws are determined privately, between two parties, their lawyers, and their agreed-upon arbiters.)

  14. The problem with all this dark “stuff” in the popular culture stems from the essential moral vacuum that the gatekeepers have at their centers. Junk like “Game of Thrones” keeps getting made because that is the sort of excrement that resonates with these people. It’s who they are; they would absolutely, positively love to be Joffrey. He’s their archetype–The unrestrained, powerful god-king, acting to satisfy his every want and desire.

    Don’t believe me? Gee, where shall I start? How about with their favorite director, Roman Polanski? 13yo girl, taken as a sexual partner? Ring any bells? How about all the child-rape going on in and around Hollywood, the majority of which we’ve never heard about, because co-conspirators in the media have kept a lid on it?

    You think the crap in the UK was bad, just wait until someone finally wads up enough courage, or the cultural capital of Hollywood finally drops to the point where honesty can prevail. I’ve got a very believable informant I knew a few years ago who was a female child star back in the 1970s and 1980s. The crap she saw and described to me was enough to make you vomit, and actually a lot worse than what the minions of the BBC have been covering up. All these little titillating tidbits that have been coming out over the years just convince me that she was telling the truth as she saw and experienced it.

    There’s an essential corruption at the core of these people, the depths of which we aren’t even able to comprehend. Wonder why things like “The Road” and “No Country for Old Men” keep getting made into cultural icons? Yeah, there’s a reason for that: They are in full accordance with the “vision” these cultural “giants” have going for themselves.

    The core of our civilization has been hollowed out, and I suspect that collapse isn’t too far off. What replaces it, I have no idea, but when it comes to whether or not it can endure, my personal vote is going to be “It won’t”.

    • How about the CHORF’s who think voting a Hugo to an author they don’t like is as bad as the Marion Zimmer Bradley child molestation case?

      • There are CHORFs who believe that? My impression is they think voting a Hugo to an author they don’t like is at least an order of magnitude worse the MZB child molestation case.

        Nope, no /sarc tag. Look at the energy they put into defending MZB’s legacy versus the effort they put into destroying and de-humanizing the Sad Puppies crowd. I’m not being sarcastic just providing my analysis of their actions.

    • The Road really read like someone dared him to write the grimmest story he could on a bet.

  15. “I don’t believe, in other words, that a poor young couple straying into a rough bar would get beat up for no reason.”

    Around about the end of my time in high school/first part of college, my sister, my future idiot BiL, and I decided to stop at this Mexican restaurant somewhere in a less than reputable looking neigbhorhood in KC. Don’t ask me the name, nor where it was – I don’t remember, it has been too long. But I do remember what happen when the three of us walked in the front door. It’s kind of a cliche, but this time it was literal. The. Music. Stopped. Place probably had 300 people in and we were the only 3 caucasians. After the music started up again, we had some really great mexican food. Didn’t tarry over our meal very long, though. 🙂

  16. Sarah, I read your descriptions of societies where homosexual, temporary, and polyamorous unions are legal, and noted that they were sympathetic. Now, playing advocatus diaboli here, using this as an element in world building doesn’t necessarily mean one approves of it: I am pretty sure David Weber, who I understand is a lay Methodist preacher, does not approve of plural marriages on Sol 3 even as he gives a fairly sympathetic description of a society where they are the norm (Grayson in the Honorverse), and of how such a thing could evolve in response to extreme environmental stressors (in this case, very high male mortality among the initial colonists of Grayson).

    But then I also know that you for many years guestblogged at the side of that well-known homophobe (/sarc), Eric Scheie of Classical Values. Or maybe they have decided that he, GayPatriot, and others like them are “self-hating homos” because they refuse to toe the party line of the neo-Marxist “professional ghey” left?

    I wonder if at this point we aren’t all overthinking: These pathetic middle schoolers are just slinging mud by the truckload in the hope that some of it will stick.

    • RealityObserver

      Ah, I’ve gotten used to being called a homophobe. Even though I believe that neither I nor the State has any business in what two (or more) consenting and competent adults do in their own bedrooms, or what a church (or itinerant preacher) can call “marriage.”

      But I’m a homophobe because I also believe that neither I nor the State has any business in telling people that they must celebrate, or pretend to celebrate, what other people do.

      I may also diverge from Sarah on one thing (I don’t recall anything by her on this one). There is real State discrimination going on, whatever they define “marriage” as – people who do not decide to obtain a State license to be married are denied many economic benefits that come with that piece of paper. (Some disadvantages, too, of course.) True equal treatment would allow, for example, my sister-in-law to designate any person she wants to receive her estate, her Social Security benefits, etc. and have the same treatment as her sister enjoys. (Well, technically, as I enjoy since I have that piece of paper saying I am legally licensed to be her sister’s husband.)

      This is why I have a rather jaundiced eye when viewing the various lawsuits – they are not based on equal treatment for all, they are based on people wanting to join the class that has more privilege. Yes, this is really the only way to force the recognition of homosexual marriage through the justice system, but I would have far more respect for them if they were to seek equal treatment under the law for everyone.

      The argument for “marriage is good for society” falls apart, too – in current statutes and regulations, there is absolutely nothing that is a test for whether the issuance of a marriage license is going to benefit society. Actually, if a marriage license was scrutinized even with the same care as a business license, the clerk of the court in Hollywood would issue extremely few of them…

      • Your comment sparks a thought about whether it might not be appropriate for the State to attempt “equal treatment” — particularly when you consider the full phrase is equal treatment under the law.

        The oft-ignored prepositional phrase suggests that the equality of treatment applies only to a certain defined class and that the state is under no duty to treat with equality those who have not submitted.

        A comparison to the Christian doctrine of salvation by acceptance (the necessary and sufficient condition required) also suggests itself but that would be a more extensive discussion than I wish to here undertake.

      • As far as I know, there is nothing keeping your sister-in-law from naming you or anyone else as beneficiary to her estate and benefits. Family law rests on what I call “assumption of kinship” which basically means taking shortcuts to determine who the beneficiaries of inheritance, etc, should be. Now that marriage is about “uniting individuals in love” or whatever, rather than joining families for purposes of ensuring property stayed together, instead of getting divided into many little parcels of no use to anyone, a re-examination of those assumptions regarding kinship seems to be in order.

        I just wish that certain people would realize that the best approach to that is *actually* examining those assumptions and deciding where they come from and if they’re still valid and what changes would be optimal, rather than just throwing out tradition willy-nilly and declaring that there was never any purpose to such traditions anyway. And stop calling people who wish to pause and think about these changes horrible names. That would be nice.

        • “As far as I know, there is nothing keeping your sister-in-law from naming you or anyone else as beneficiary to her estate and benefits.”

          Except for the minor fact that the government wants half of everything she owned, before it goes to her beneficiary of choice, unless that beneficiary is a spouse.

  17. I don’t think we should force churches or people of different beliefs to ENDORSE any such accommodations, provided they’re legal.

    Hmmm, are there any areas in which society does not force churches or people of different beliefs to ENDORSE accommodations of different values?

    Because society legally allows consumption of alcohol, dancing and discharge of firearms does that mean we must require churches to operate saloons, dance halls and gun ranges?

    • “HALLELUJAH!” KABOOM! and “Here’s ten more bucks for the roofing fund.” Beats the sissy acoustic guitar consecrations we get these days…

    • The Other Sean

      But just think how much more popular church would be if was a saloon, dance hall, and gun range! Although I’m not sure the alcohol and the gun range are a good combo.

      • William O. B'Livion

        The order of progression matters. Motorcycles, guns, whiskey, not whiskey guns, motorcycles.

        • Randy Wilde

          I’ve often thought the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives would work better as a hotline (like the Butterball turkey hotline at Thanksgiving) than as a regulatory and enforcement agency.

          “Hello, Bureau? What kind of cigar would you recommend to go with a Sig-Sauer and cognac?”

        • Exactly — nothing cuts gunpowder throat so well as a good drink. And dancing helps relax and shakeout muscles tired from maintaining proper shooting positions.

      • walkerhound

        casino night is/was always vary successful at my church……the joke being it’s a RC church and we DID have gaming table’s….and a bar 🙂

      • Yer right…ditch the targetsh…to be safe…

  18. ‘humanity is horrible and lives to hurt others.’

    This is true. It seems especially true of those most dedicated to helping others, especially to helping others whether they want it or not.

  19. … how can a whole swath of political opinion assume that unless tightly restricted by government individual humans are the scum of the Earth?

    Because government is awesome and magically transforms its agents into Angels?

    Or because these idiots suffer from Bureacraphilia, the irrational belief that passing a law changes people’s hearts?

    Perhaps our difficulties in dealing with them are reflective of a inclination amongst our lot toward Bureacraphobia, a condition which they fail to distinguish from Homophobia even though our concern is not what people do in the privacy of their lives which we abhor, it is the being forced to act as unwilling participant in their exhibitionism that angers us.

    It is a kafkatrap as invasive as Emma Sulkowicz’s sex video, whose logic seems to be that unless I watch it and experience only the emotions, reactions and responses she dictates, then I am participating in her rape.

    While I am more than willing to gnaw off a limb to escape such a trap, I am not willing that any limb gnawed off be one of mine.

    • Ah, but only people who want to help others would *ever* want to become a government bureaucrat! No one would ever get into government, to exercise power over others!

      (Admittedly, this is admitted as hearsay: I remember a commenter from somewhere claiming that he actually heard someone seriously say this…)

  20. I’m not for polyanna happy go lucky.

    I have always leaned a little toward Norse fatalism: Ragnarok is inevitable, so the important thing is to die well, surrounded by the bodies of your foe.

    I like Conan on a cross. (Hmmm, I wonder what type of cookie would be best for such? Gingerbread Conan on a cross of snickerdoodle? Now, how to go about melding the two …)

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      Indeed, I don’t mind some darkness in my fantasy. There’s some of Robert E Howard’s work, particularly from the months before his suicide, which is brutal and doom-laden as anything. And Karl Edward Wagner is cosmically bleak in ways that modern grimdarkers can barely imagine.

      I don’t mind some grimdark. But I don’t want it to be in everything I read, all the time.

      • I like Grimdark (Wagner, Cook, Abercrombie)… but to work best, it needs light to offset the shade. Small victories. Good people (or people trying to be good people) who exist for reasons other than to have bad things happen to them.

        • Yes, I didn’t mean Grimdark as a genre. I meant just “everything and everyone is awful” fiction.
          You need some light to see the dark properly.

          • “Life is sh*t and everything happens for no reason.” Let them reread Jean-Paul Sartre’s “Nausea” or Céline’s “Journey at the Edge of Night” to put an end to their delusion that this is somehow original and innovative — or that others haven’t done this 100x better than they ever could.

          • You know, I wouldn’t mind reading one of those “everybody in this story is a worthless asshole” stories if at the end an invading army came and gave the sonsabenches something to cry about. Preferably an invading army of The Knights of Perfect Justice that gives each and every one -exactly- what they deserve.

  21. Because limiting the power of government would limit the power these small, bitter, angry people would have to impose their misery on people and things they disapprove of. Once you accept that, those folks are much easier to understand.

  22. I think the basic premises are wrong.

    “They” don’t believe people are evil, “they” believe most people are basically good and since, of course, “they” are good, most people should be just like them. Since small contact with reality is enough to demonstrate that most people not like them and don’t believe the incontestable truths that “they” do, there must be some malignant force which is forcing people to be unlike them, to hold opinions other than the obviously correct opinions that they hold. Government is viewed as the force to counteract those malignant forces which are preventing people not like them from being like them, freeing people from corrupting evil.

    I may be incorrect, but I think this is closer to the truth than the people are evil theory. There is something in the make-up of the other side which refuses to concede the possibility that they might be wrong. This inability to accept that there might be any validity to a view other than their own creates a manichean worldview which only permits them to see people as belonging to one of two groups, people like them, who are good, and all who oppose them, who are evil. This and they way some people are singled out for hate (cough–Koch–cough) lead me to theorize that ‘the other side’ is adopting Manichaenism with re-envisioned principals.

    • Arnold Kling’s three primary colors again.
      Progressives: people are innately good, societal “oppression” ruins them (cf. Rousseau’s “noble savage”), but ‘the sheeple’ cannot make rational choices,need “the enlightened” to know what is best for them. Central conflict: “oppressor” vs. “oppressed”
      Libertarians: people are innately rational even while morally flawed, and if left to their own devices would make rational choices. Central conflict: freedom vs. state coercion & regulation
      Conservatives: people are both irrational and morally flawed. Central conflict: civilization vs. barbarism. Social structures, traditions, “wisdom of the ages” keep barbarism in check.

      • While Kling’s languages are part of it, there is more to the current political divide which centers around the ‘Left’ refusing to accept the possibility that they might be wrong (something which is usually associated with the ‘Right’). If my side’s beliefs are unquestionably true than the other side’s beliefs must automatically be false, because if the other side’s beliefs could be true than my side’s beliefs might be false, and my side’s beliefs cannot be questioned. This is a classic false dichotomy, and explains why anyone who disagrees with a progressive is automatically labeled a hateful neo-nazi.

        • But if their views might be wrong, it might mean they are not Doing Good. Better to continue to inflict suffering and still bask in one’s own virtue.

  23. Possibly relevant:

    And [David Horowitz] offers this blurb-worthy endorsement of son Ben Horowitz’s best-selling business book, The Hard Thing About Hard Things: “If leftists were to read this book with half-open minds and see what the life of a real CEO is like–the judgments he has to make, the risks he has to take, the personnel issues he has to solve, the adversities he has to soldier through–they would instantly see the folly of their beliefs, and abandon their delusions.” Horowitz then draws on his own hard-won wisdom to render this final judgment: “Even if leftists were to read Ben’s book, they would not believe what they read because it would shake the foundations of their moral being. This is why ignorance rules the political world and always will.”

    As quoted by Scott Johnson at Power Line, http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2015/06/horowitz-in-winter.php

  24. Contemplation of the various arguments of our day — Bruce = Caitlin, SoulSista Dolezal, the SJW slanders against the Puppies, and the Shinese Take-Out at OPM — I am reminded of the delightful rhyme from that glorious time of peace enjoyed in the latter part of last century’s third decade:

    Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
    A medley of extemporanea;
    And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
    And I am Marie of Romania.

    Thank-you, Dotty Parker.

  25. I’ve tried to talk elder Hoyt son into watching a couple of movies that he clearly thinks are of the “all darkness all scum all the time” variety. “Reservoir Dogs” is one mean puppy, but the principle relationship is between two men who are totally men of honor, one is a savage bandit, one is totally a good, moral man. Their friendship exists in the middle of a criminal action in which, yes, all the other men are scum, either utterly vile or hilariously goofy (thank you, Steve Busemi.) And the inevitable tragic ending is absolutely Shakespearian. Sam Peckinpah’s “The Wild Bunch” has just about the most violent opening and closing ever, and the main characters are bandits, but they are warriors who have lost all faith in civilization, and are preying on their principle enemy, The Railroad. They don’t kill innocent people (though it’s best if the innocents stay out of the line of fire), they don’t hang anybody, and their one inviolable standard is their loyalty to each other. At the end, they have made the big score, 10k in 1913 dollars, but Angel, their Mexican member, was captured by the Federales for turning a case of rifles over to his village, and they throw it all away to try to save their friend, because that loyalty is really the one standard that makes them human. There have been many movies that just don’t get it, and are all dark and all scum in intended imitation of these classics.

    • It is funny how so many people just don’t understand what a movies is about. For instance, many people think the 1972 Michael MoriarityRobert De Niro film Bang the Drum Slowly is about baseball!

      Or Red River about a cattle drive, or Bridge on the River Kwai about a construction project.

  26. BTW, long time NY Post political reporter Fredric U. Dicker offers this insight into the functional problems of relying on government to protect you:

    Cuomo created ‘total cluster f—k’ in escaped-killers hunt
    The massive manhunt for two escaped murderers from the Dannemora prison has been hampered by State Police secrecy, inter-agency rivalries, and the disrupting involvement of Gov. Andrew Cuomo on the first day of the breakout, law enforcement sources have told The Post.

    Cuomo’s surprise arrival at a still-unfolding escape scene a week ago Saturday generated considerable national publicity for the governor, but distracted investigators at a time when the full facts of the escape were not yet known, the sources said.

    “Cuomo actually disrupted the early search efforts when he arrived at the ‘command center’ on Saturday and refused to enter the room until everyone was removed except state employees,’’ said a longtime law enforcement figure who has regular contact with many involved in the search effort.

    “Cuomo’s aides came in and threw out the US marshal, the sheriff [David Favro, like Cuomo a Democrat] and others who were there to help coordinate the search effort.

    “And they did it without even saying ‘Thanks for your help’ or such, just, ‘Get out so his highness can enter.’

    “The State Police are trying to make sure that they’re the ones to catch these guys, that they get all the credit, and as a result, they’re not making full use of the assets that are available to them,’’ the source continued.
    — — —

    Apparently, turf battles and efforts of senior executives to grab the media spotlight are not unique to the private sector. Amazing but true!

  27. Interesting dynamic here on ATH today.
    When we objected to Ms, Gallo’s slurs against the Sad Puppies we were told in no uncertain terms that it was unfair to condemn her for her set of beliefs no matter that they were demonstrably untrue.
    I make a casual observation that a particular TV show I saw disturbed me, that I found it dark and unattractive. Several of the Huns agreed. But then a commenter I am not familiar with proceeds in a series of posts to chastise us for our opinions, apparently by expressing our feelings we must be guilty of badthink.
    Disagree with me all you like. I welcome a fair and open debate. But to lecture me that feeling disturbed and a bit disgusted by graphic representations of rape and torture and human sacrifice are thoughts I should not have because history. That argument I’m afraid I find less than compelling.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      I don’t know Uncle Lar.

      I didn’t get the idea that he was accusing you or anybody else of “bad-think”.

      I think he was playing “gad-fly” and/or “Devil’s Advocate”.

      Oh, I thought his response to me concerning my question about him “trying to be a gad-fly” was a good-natured response.

      • Probably just over touchy today. Had a fall yesterday and got a bit scratched up so the aches and pains have me off my feed.

        • Sorry to hear it. I do miss my resilience.

        • I assure you, Uncle Lars, I meant nothing at all personal. In fact, I couldn’t have told you before now even which individual I was replying to. I respect anyone’s rejecting GoT for reasons of taste. “De gustibus non est disputandum” If you don’t like it, don’t watch it. I was replying to those that have stated that GoT has reached inhuman levels of violence and decadence. It hasn’t. I see GoT in part as a morality tale, showing just how bad it can get when powermad folks fight it out among themselves.

          I am reminded of a class I was teaching about Aztec religion. I was trying to explain why the Spanish monks were so eager to convert them, so I took a few of the Aztec rituals and described them in detail. A few had tears in their eyes, and one fled the classroom.The entire class asked me to stop, and none of them believed me at first.. I guess I shoulda given them trigger warnings.:-) About man’s inhumanity to man.

          • And I do appreciate your reasoned response.
            Did not take your replies personally, but it felt like you were telling a group of us we couldn’t have the opinions we stated. Looking back I think I read more into your comments than you ever intended.
            As I mentioned I took a turn the day before and am still hurting a bit. And of course there have been many occasions over the past several weeks when I’ve been embroiled in the whole SP debate and that tends to make my nerves raw.
            I do agree with you that GRRM and HBO have depicted nothing that was not done on far too many occasions in actual history. So sadly all too human. Can’t speak to the books as I have not read them, but my opinion is still that the TV show seems to have become a vehicle for sadomasochistic porn. But then I’m not a fan of the typical reality show either.

            • I can assure you that there is NO TRUTH to the rumours that HBO is planning a biographical mini-series based on the life of Elizabeth Báthory.


              The movie tanked, even though it took a positive approach:

              Contrary to popular belief, Elizabeth Bathory was a modern Renaissance woman who ultimately fell victim to mens aspirations for power and wealth.

              IMDb: Bathory: Countess of Blood (2008) “Bathory” (original title)

              OMG! I swear I only put her name into Google to conveniently get the non-standard character in her name; I had NO IDEA there actually was a movie about her, not that the trailer would be so eye-searingly awful. The YouTube sidebar threatens to drag one down into the realm of bat-guano craziness, so be warned, be warrrrrrrrrned!

              Oh, yeah, as you should probably anticipate: mildly NSFW

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            But Mark! The Spanish just made up those stories about the Aztecs to “justify” what they did to the Aztecs!!! [Very Very Big Sarcastic Grin]

            Seriously, elsewhere I got into an argument with a Lefty and while he acknowledged “how bad the Aztecs were” he still was claiming that the Spanish were worse. [Frown]

            • I encountered something similar: the kid was arguing simultaneously that (a) one could not condemn the Aztec culture for its human sacrifice and (b) one must condemn the Spanish for wiping them out. Multiculturalism is a great logical tool—it slices, it dices, it chops…

          • I see GoT in part as a morality tale, showing just how bad it can get when powermad folks fight it out among themselves.

            This is an observation often made by those who imagine “the right people” — the Ned Starks — can make things nice.


            Paxton is a man of the Left but like a stopped clock is occasionally right.

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            I’d decided to chime in on this part of the thread when I woke up, before reading and finding out that everything had been covered.

            Your response would have been a bit in excess if it had only been argued that Martin was ahistoric to the point of cherry-picking, however it was claimed that it wouldn’t have been sustainable.

            Humans have a great capability for mainstreaming evil.

            The Aztec Triple Alliance, if one ignores the Mexica history equivalent of holocaust deniers.

            Or our own society, if one disapproves of abortion. Someone who does not approve might see a lot of similarities between those our societies holds as normal and Gein, Bundy, and Dahmer.

            I think there is a case that Martin may be writing a tale of mainstreaming evil rather than a tale of morality. I cannot fairly evaluate the sides of the issue.

            • How long did the Aztecs last? How long could they have lasted even if the measles didn’t come along?

              • From around 1250 to Cortez in around 1520, but they weren’t top dogs the entire time It was only the last century or so they ruled alone.

                How long could they have lasted? Impossible to say, of course.There were a boodle of subjugated tribes that eagerly helped the Spaniards take them down, but they had a record of being able to keep the boot on the neck. Let’s see what H. Turtledove has to say..

              • BobtheRegisterredFool

                Well, the Neo-Aztecs are doing okay.

          • The video game Age of Empires III had the protagonist for the first series of missions wandering around the New World. One of the missions required him to defend an Aztec temple against Spanish Conquistadors.

            I face palmed when I realized what was going on.

  28. Our July book is Operation Chaos.

  29. I don’t believe, in other words, that a poor young couple straying into a rough bar would get beat up for no reason. Not in the states, not unless racial factors intrude, by which I mean they end up in a neighborhood that’s solid new immigrant or minority and think they’re under attack. And even then, there would need to be serious issues to cause a lethal, unprovoked attack on strangers. There would need to be aggravating factors of a serious and unremitting order.

    Well … to play Bad Plotters’ Advocate, it’s possible. Because lots of freaky things happen in America, given a population of some 330 million.

    However, it would be very strange. And not “strange” in an interesting science-fictional way, “strange” in a nasty freak-accidental way, like the kid running with scissors actually putting someone’s eye out.

    The sort of places where random, unprovoked and lethal attacks on strangers would be likely would be those inhabited by very intolerant and violent minorities. Which is to say, the worst black slums in America, and the worst Muslim neighborhoods in Europe. Especially if the couple were Jewish.

    But If You Were An Israeli Commando, My Love would be a very politically-incorrect story, nolw wouldn’t it?

    • Ask the French immigrants I see on the streets more and more — my wife and I can no longer rely on French for privacy 🙂 Or the even larger number of French Jews who stick it out for now while buying “insurance apartments” in Israel. (Talk to any veteran realtor in Israel.)

      Believe me, they aren’t doing this because the croissants aren’t what they used to be 😉

      Also, ask Swirsky what would happen to two men who were openly making out in a Muslim neighborhood in Paris 😉

    • Instantly more interesting, though.

      • I was standing on St.Louis St. in The Quarter, about a half block off Bourbon, when a young black male walked past me, then turned around to sucker punch me.. We had not exchanged a word. I suspect Knockout Game. He didn’t menage to knock me out though, and he went to jail. Turns out he had existing warrants. So forgive me if I can readily see a couple getting pounded on for no reason.

        • In a working class bar? Because one of them looks vaguely ethnic?

        • I would find the story more believable if instead of a working-class bar they entered a mini-mart in the wrong neighborhood. But that would destroy the whole “secret social handshake” thing the left found so seductive about that story. She was using a prejudiced stereotype about a particular group to deplore those who committed violence based on prejudice. I found it very ironic. The image she did use called out to the prejudices of her in-group, and then she wallowed in thoughts of revenge. I’ve heard it called “revenge porn”, but I think it would be more accurate to call it “prejudice porn”, in which her own prejudices can be indulged at the same time as she’s excoriating the prejudices of others.

          By the way, my son was a victim of the knockout game in the south side of Chicago. He walked down a street and saw a group of young black men on one side of the street, and *thought* about that “proof of prejudice” the leftists love to trot out. So he didn’t cross to the other side of the street. They jumped him, and only gave up when he didn’t go down that easily. He ended up in the ER.

          Anyway, I don’t think the point is disbelieving people can get jumped. I know they can. The point, to me, is that she and the readers who loved it, got to indulge their own prejudices and enjoy it.

          • Does nobody realize that story was a slanderous micro-aggression against blue collar gin drinkers? No wonder they reacted violently when triggered by such flagrant disrespect of their safe spaces.

            • Blue color gin drinkers…. so, she had a time machine to 19th century England. Okay then.

              • Smurfs on gin? Smuurrfeee!!

              • BobtheRegisterredFool

                No, no, it is a post-human dystopian future. Space wizards made it impossible to distinguish on the basis of race, gender, sexual preference and everything else.

                These people can can only make distinctions on the basis of social cues too subtle for us to care enough to name.

                Their archeologists are people who seek to recreate the human condition because it is superior to what they experience.

                The general theme of the story is that racism is not distrust for the other, but instead the capacity to recognize and trust one’s own. It celebrates racism as having positive value.

                The bar was an archeologist’s bar, and the victim an archeologist who screwed up at passing.

                The viewpoint character is mistaken about the victim being her lover. She doesn’t have a relationship, she conflated incidents with several different people because she cannot tell the difference between them.

              • No, no, no. That’s the science fiction aspect of the tale. Swirsky trolled us all.
                “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” is set in an alternate universe where rednecks drink gin instead of beer and whiskey.

          • I’m handicapped here by not being familiar with the story you reference. Speaking of stories, if I can hijack the topic, of y’all that are considered full-time pro authors, what do you consider a productive day’s work with regard to words/day? Yes, I know it’s gonna vary, just looking to see if I’m a lazy bum or not. 🙂

            • I try to have a quota of 250 words, but that’s because that’s how long it takes me to warm up. 1000 words is better.

              And I’ve never worked out a good quota for revision.

            • How much do you want to be rid of your handicap? Try this if you wish it:
              http://www.apex-magazine.com/if-you-were-a-dinosaur-my-love/

                • Well, those were horrid. They won awards? From folks that had read them? I wrote more entertaining stuff than that as a sophomore. In HIGH SCHOOL.

                  • Which is kinda the point of the campaign to fight puppy-related sadness, AKA Sad Puppies I, II, & III (so far).

                  • “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” won the Nebula and was nominated for the Hugo.

                    “Queen of the Tyrant Lizards” is a parody thrown together for a blog post that has neither won nor been nominated, but is more deserving because it actually is SF.

                  • Your error is in assuming that “entertaining” is a requirement rather than a disqualification.

                    PRESTIGE writing not only don’t have to, it must not entertain.

                    Keep in mind that the vanguard of the intellectual elite has recently held seminars and distributed handouts on the evils of microaggressions such as:

                    … such offensive statements as “America is the land of opportunity,” “Everyone can succeed in this society, if they work hard enough” and “There is only one race, the human race.”

                    It’s an initiative by University of California President Janet Napolitano, a series of seminars for deans and department heads across the UC system.

                    The goal is to “broaden faculty leaders’ capacity to support faculty diversity and enhance department and campus climate toward inclusive excellence.”

                    A professor leaked word of the sessions to the Web site The College Fix, which then posted many of the seminar handouts.

                    One handout warns against phrases that promote “the myth of meritocracy” (such as “I believe the most qualified person should get the job”) or buy into the idea of “color-blindness.” Claims like “America is a melting pot,” you see, “indicate that a White person does not want to or need to acknowledge race.”

                    Another handout says the term “raising the bar” is “elitist” and phrases like “hard worker” indicate “euphemized bias.”

                    http://nypost.com/2015/06/15/the-dont-you-dare-say-that-drive-for-campus-diversity/

                    Entertainment distracts from the important task of dumbing us down. Entertainment has a way of involving the mind, stimulating thought and provoking questions about “what if …”

                    Can’t have that sort of thing going on, not when a university education costs on the order of $100,000.

        • having once lived in the NOLA area for 20 years, that sort of thing happens, oh likely multiple times a week. This is a place that had to warn folks not to go out the wrong gate of St Louis cemetery because it was likely you would get shot.

        • Well yes, that was my point … the way this story would become plausible is if it took place in a black-dominated slum, or in Europe a Muslim neighborhood. But of course, then Rachel Swirsky would have been hated rather than petted for writing it.,

          It still wouldn’t have even remotely been science fiction or fantasy, though.

  30. I do wonder just whom they imagine would be running the government in their totalitarian utopias. They think that it would be someone Terribly Enlightened, just like they imagine themselves to be. It would be far more likely to be a brutal thug like Hitler or Stalin — the kind of guy who would egg on the mob in a bar to attack some random couple just for looking different than his norm.

    If You Were a Hitler-Killing Time Traveler, My Love?

    • One of my “when I will no longer be a fiction virgin” 🙂 plans is an alt history where the Stauffenberg plot would have succeeded. Alas, I am afraid Himmler (y”sh) was just waiting in the wings to take over as the next Fuehrer and was deliberately letting the plotters do their job in order to clear the succession path for him…

    • Not This Time. This Time it will be Different.

    • Ah, that story would just end up pissing off SilverFox316….

  31. This brings me to something I was musing about this morning, right after I figured out what it meant that the lack-brains at File 770 (henceforth club 770) linked back to my post with “the hydrophobia that falls on you from nowhere” because apparently my saying something about “arrangements that must be made for people of different orientations as reproduction and sex become more divorced from each other” means I’m homophobic. This despite the fact that you don’t need to scratch very deep in this blog to figure out I was pro gay marriage well (WELL) before their sainted president evolved.

    Well, by “arrangements” I’m sure you mean death camps. With torture chambers. And live performances by Barney the Dinosaur.

    Right? 😉

    • No. I’m going to make them read “if you were a dinosaur, my love.” (Last time I forced this on a gay friend, because he’s the most… How do I put this, he thought Slave, the Star Cat chronicles “isn’t so much bad as lousily edited.” He’s very forgiven and he loves stories, and if there were something redeemable in that he’d find it.
      Instead he started saying swear words he’d never used near me, then spent a morning doing a satirical riff on it over AIM.

      • Does Sci-Fi have an equivalent of the Golden Raspberry awards? That one would have been a shoo-in. Or maybe we should start one ourselves and call it the Barney.

      • By the way, is Rachel Swirsky aware that the title of her story has become a running gag? “If You Were An [X], My Love,” with increasingly sillier and sillier values of X? Or is she so pompous that she doesn’t get that her Hugo has made her a laughing-stock?

        • Sometimes an award eventually becomes a joke. Never forget, Milli Vinilli won a Grammy for Best New Artist, and “Little Green Apples” won over “Hey Jude”.

          • Well, at least Milli Vinilli was lip synching to actual nomination worthy music. If somebody ghost wrote “If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love” for Swirsky, it still wasn’t worthy of a Hugo.

          • Never forget, Milli Vinilli won a Grammy for Best New Artist, and “Little Green Apples” won over “Hey Jude”.

            Yeah, but the “Hey Jude” thing was an honest mistake. Voters were confused by the whole “Apple Records” thing, and voted for the “Apple record.”

        • If she cares, she gets martyr points.

  32. CEDAR SANDERSON if you’re around, I’ve had good results printing with VistaPrint. Oh, and I wish you could comment on your site without logging signing on with Facebook, which I despise.

  33. Whoa! Who saw this coming:

    UnitedHealth, Anthem Seek to Buy Smaller Rivals
    The two biggest U.S. health insurers by revenue, UnitedHealth and Anthem, are seeking to buy smaller rivals in a merger scramble aimed at cutting costs as the companies cope with the federal health-care overhaul.
    0 UnitedHealth Approached Aetna About a Takeover
    Wall Street Journal, Tuesday.

  34. Who wrote here the other day that unlike reality, fiction plots have to make sense? Case in point: http://pjmedia.com/instapundit/208636/

    • For me, she’s the new SJW poster girl.

      • Including in her arrogant assumption that it’s one set of rules for herself, another for everybody else. Do you realize that she’s argued that other members of racial minority groups aren’t “really” members of those groups, based on fairly flimsy reasoning such as their style of dress or speech, or subtle shadings of skin tone?

    • What’s funny about this is both that Rachel Dolezal’s lawsuit makes sense if we assume that the State should forbid racism in hiring practices — and goes against the argument that only whites can be racist. I find it hilarious. D

      • If Herman Melville wrote a novel about todays SJW/SJTs it would be called “Mobius Dick”. Oops, that’s already the name of some electronic music project associated with Instapundit 🙂

        • I, incidentally, don’t care very much what race Dolezal identifies herself as being. And nobody would care much, if it weren’t for the fact that those who think like Dolezal want to use race as a basis for awarding various benefits. It all, save as it expresses itself as specific biological advantages or disavantages (being able to metabolize milk better, tanning better, enduring cold better, etc.) is irrelevant anyway.

          • Tanning better? 🙂 Actually, two of the three main racial groups arose for precisely the opposite reason 🙂 — adaptation to more Northern latitudes with less available sunshine.

          • And yes indeed, I personally couldn’t give a hoot what Dolezal identified as, if it weren’t a “goodies card”. She could then simply say she identifies with the culture of the African diaspora, and all would be fine. Princess Lieawatha could claim she identifies with American Indian culture: ditto. But neither would get any special perks from that, so neither would give a hoot anymore.
            And of course, ultimately we do all come from Africa — except for those who by their behavior have convinced me they are space aliens from Sol 7.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              Some individuals make me believe that aliens are dumping their morons & lunatics on Earth. [Evil Grin]

              • It does seem so at times, doesn’t it?

                Like this morning, I glanced at an article about the Chinese OPM hack and thought, “Welllll, Obama did promise us the most transparent administration in History.”

                I would make an analogy to him as “the monkey’s paw presidency” but am confident the literary know-nothings would scream raaaaacisssssssss.

              • more and more, it seems like Douglas Adams wrote wrote that portion of HHGTTG from an inside scoop.

          • If she can identify as whatever she wants, does that mean I get to identify as rich and good_looking?

  35. I just noticed that my last name had one too many s’s in middle here. Obviously, I am not an Arisian superintelligence!

    “Your vision is muddled, youth. Also, you’re a bad speller.”

    😀

  36. EgregiousCharles

    I think the modern left attracts almost all the Ernst Röhms, except for a rare few on the right that want Christian love enforced by SWAT somehow.

    “The progressive, scientific new establishment will force them to tolerate me! After all, I’m a progressive liberal/socialist working for the good of all by purging everyone else!” And of course, no top-down system tolerates deviance from their planned groups, no matter what is claimed by the founders.

    • Yes, I think that’s it.

    • They welcome deviation … so long as it is approved beforehand and only deviates in the permitted manner.

      • But you know that evil is an exact science.
        Be carefully, correctly wrong.

      • EgregiousCharles

        I see your point, but I think that’s offering too much credit. Nope, they welcome preapproved deviation from your norms, and mine, from what I would claim is natural law and/or the law of God. No deviance from THEIR group assignments is tolerated, even if you’re just behaving like the wrong group; for example a liberal with dark skin is not allowed to act like a liberal with pale skin. Some relabelling is allowed, like straight to gay; those relabellings are considered mistakes in the original assignment not changes in inherent group membership. Because demographics determine destiny for them.

    • The Revolution always attracts the misfits because they tell themselves that obviously it’s society, not them, responsible for the misfit.

  37. I’m watching Daria again and came across Ep. 26 “Write Where it Hurts”. The opening scene has her reading On Moral Fiction. Daria’s synopsis ” Mr. Gardner feels that it’s the writer duty to steer the reader toward more conscientious behavior, no matter how dull that makes the story.”