Pointless Discrimination – Christopher Nuttall

Pointless Discrimination – Christopher Nuttall

 I’m going to start with a question and I would like you to consider it carefully before answering.

Is discrimination ever a good thing?

I suspect that most people will say, in a kneejerk response, no. And they wouldn’t necessarily be wrong. Irrational discrimination is always wrong. But there is also such a thing as rational discrimination.

Consider the following example. You’re the manager of a mid-sized swimming pool. You have to hire someone to serve as a ladies changing room supervisor and you have a choice of four candidates; a straight man, a gay man, a straight woman and a lesbian. They are equal in every way, save for their gender and sexual orientation. Which one do you pick?

Unless you want to be arrested, sued or simply lose customers, you’ll go for the straight woman. She’s the only rational candidate for the post.

Ok, maybe that’s too strong an example. What about this? You’re the boss of a small computer company, faced with a choice between two candidates. One is a middle-aged white man with 20 years of experience, the other is a newly-graduated black woman with high marks, but no actual experience? Which one do you pick?

You go for the man, of course. You’re a small company. You can’t afford the time to train up a newcomer, no matter how much promise she shows. A person with 20 years of experience will probably be far more useful than a newcomer. He’s the only rational candidate for the post.

Here’s a third example. You’re the manager of a greasy fast food eatery. You have five male candidates, two of whom happen to be black, for a beginner-level opening in flipping burgers, pouring shakes and asking if anyone wants fries with their meal. Again, there’s nothing else separating them from the other three. Which one do you pick?

Any of them, of course. Skin colour has no bearing on their ability to do the job. Choosing a candidate purely because he’s white or black is an irrational choice.

My point is this. If you happen to be searching for someone to do a job, you look for the ability to do the job. Sometimes, those abilities are inherent; the straight woman of the first example has an edge because of how she was born. At other times, those abilities will grow and develop; the graduate of the second example, assuming she stays in the field, will eventually have 20 years of experience of her own.

(At this point, of course, we run into an issue I had when I was job hunting myself. You need experience to get a job – and the only way to get experience is to get a job. Why not offer the young graduate a chance? To which the manager might reply “we’re here to run a company, not offer chances. Why should we take a loss – and we will – just because someone who knows nothing about running a company feels we should?”)

Ok, you may ask. What is the point of this?

There’s an argument going on (it flares up from time to time) that suggests we should choose our reading based on the author’s skin colour, gender, sexuality, nationality, etc. You’ve probably seen quite a few articles insisting that straight white authors are horrible people who are forcing people of colour out of the marketplace …

To which I reply; hogwash!

Be honest with me here. How many of you actually know the skin colour of your favourite authors? More to the point, how many of you actually care?

I don’t, not really. I’ve met a few authors, seen Facebook pictures of others, but I can’t say I know what the vast majority of my favourites look like. All that matters to me is how they perform on relevant issues – and, where writing is concerned, it’s the ability to tell a good story in the genres I enjoy. Nothing else is important.

The only kind of ‘diversity’ that matters in the writing world is the sub-division of ‘literature’ into genres. A science-fiction writer is very different from a romance writer. Someone who is a fan of one genre may not be a fan of others. That does not mean that a writer who writes romance is a lousy writer, merely someone who has failed to capture a science-fiction fan.

The number of readers who make up the writing world is vast. Even JK Rowling hasn’t managed to sell a book to everyone, let alone win total approval for her books. There isn’t a book in existence that doesn’t have both a devoted fan and someone who wouldn’t lower themselves to use it for toilet paper. A writer doesn’t have to sell a book to even 1% of the total reading population to make a good living – and smart writers accept, right from the start, that not everyone likes their work.

I do not believe that gender, sexuality, sex colour or religion makes any real difference to the writing world. The only thing that matters is that they are good writers.

The suggestion that the publishing industry should be more ‘diverse’ is both harmful and pointless. It is harmful because it suggests, very strongly, that ‘non-white-male’ authors cannot get published without assistance. It is pointless because non-genre diversity simply doesn’t matter to writing. A ‘non-white-male’ author who gets published through any form of so-called positive discrimination, as opposed to writing skill, is in for a nasty shock when the book starts receiving independent reviews. As I’ve said before, the definition of success is success. Awards don’t matter, plaudits don’t matter … all that matters is satisfied customers.

Is the publishing industry reluctant to publish books by ‘non-white-male’ authors? I don’t think that’s actually true, but the recent changes in the industry render it pointless. There’s nothing stopping each and every ‘non-white-male’ author publishing their own books on Amazon Kindle or any other self-publishing platform, nor is there anything stopping them from changing their pen-name to ‘John Smith’ and not including a photograph. If they genuinely believe it’s a problem, they could hide their sex, race or religion. They would be judged by nothing apart from their writing.

Or, of course, they could hold competitions that only ‘non-white-male’ authors are allowed to enter, thus cutting down the number of entrants and making it dependent on factors that have nothing to do with writing …

… Which isn’t a real victory. But anyone who wants to host one of those contests has anything, but the interests of the writing world at heart.

494 thoughts on “Pointless Discrimination – Christopher Nuttall

  1. “Is discrimination ever a good thing?”
    It sure is if you intend to demodulate an FM signal!
    Of course you could use slope detection instead, but that can get slippery.

    And seriously: You aim that hammer very well. Nail truly hit on head.

    1. “Of course you could use slope detection instead, but that can get slippery.”

      I see what you did there.

    2. “Slope” is an ethnic slur! Ox, I denounce thee! In the race to fauxtrage I am first! (Performs fauxtrage dance of victory)

      1. Is that more like the Macarena or more like a banned NFL touchdown celebration dance?

        Never mind. It is RES. He will describe it so that I want to run back to Tumblr to preserve my sanity, while making me laugh so hard I only make it halfway there 😀

        1. Not Macarena nor NFL.

          Think of the reaction of one who has stomped off in a huff only to run smack dab into a lamp-post withing threee strides.

          1. If that is the case, perhaps the best is the Safety Dance. And under no circumstances should a fauxtrage victory dancer ever attempt the Neutron Dance for the same reason is a bad idea to swallow a nuclear bomb. Why, it might result in atomic ache.

            1. Great, now I’ve got Don Knotts as Barney Fife in my head, going, “Nip it! Nip it in the bud!”


          1. I gather that his life story is that he was a smart kid who came from a reputable family of African-American professionals living in Harlem (he’s related to the Delany Sisters). But at some point, he got molested and abused as a little kid, which he seems to insist was consensual, and ended up in some kind of boy prostitution and drugs situation, which he also insists was consensual. (While also submitting sf stories and getting published as a teenager.) He got married to a poetess and was on an upward track in the academic and sf world, and then he started publishing self-hating pedophilic stuff like Dhalgren, and putting tons of weird sex into even his more normal books. However, he seems to have evaded most of the consequences of being in favor of NAMBLA stuff by being openly gay and African-American.

            One of those “when they were good they were very very good, but when they were bad they were horrid” stories. He needs serious help, but instead he’s set up as a patriarchal figure that sf fans should admire.

            1. Between the four well known cases: Breen, MZB, Delaney, and Ed Krammer I’ll admit I wonder how much of this goes on in core fandom. It is very off-putting.

              1. As a parent, it’s somewhere between skin-crawlingly creepy and ‘My kids will never darken the door of a convention.’

                Except we bought SLC ComicCon tickets. But I figure that’s a safe place, in the real sense of the word safe. You know, where anyone stupid enough to try to hurt a kid gets smashed to smithereens by a whole lot of angry parents. It’s Utah, after all. As an Idahoan, I approve of quite a lot of Utah customs. (Like concealed carry in schools for teachers, etc.)

                1. As an adult, talking to one of my parents about these issues has raised the question of whether they would approve of me attending another one of these. I’ve only ever been to the one, and haven’t since because funds are tight. (The approval isn’t necessary, but I highly value the opinion of the one I was discussing it with.)

            2. “I gather that his life story is that he was a smart kid who came from a reputable family of African-American professionals living in Harlem (he’s related to the Delany Sisters)…”

              Yes. His father ran a funeral home.

              “But at some point, he got molested and abused as a little kid, which he seems to insist was consensual, and ended up in some kind of boy prostitution and drugs situation, which he also insists was consensual.”

              Really??!!?? Good Lord! Elaboration/citation would be appreciated. I gathered from something he wrote in one of his nonfiction books that when he was very young (ten?) he wanted to be molested by one of the gay men who worked at the funeral home but was not, to his regret. If I recall correctly (and it has been many years) he wrote something to the effect that he thought he might have been better adjusted if he had been.

              1. There was an interview relatively recently where Delany discussed being molested as a six-year-old and “how ridiculous it would have been to put [the man who did it] in prison.” I can’t give you an further details, because my “reading about horrible stuff” limit had just about been hit by the time I reached that part, but it’s definitely out there.

        1. Also read the Wikipedia summary of Delaney’s book “Hogg”, if you can stomach it. I won’t read the summary a second time. Just thinking of it again is making me queasy. Anyone who calls that art needs professional mental help.

          1. I don’t know any details about “Hogg”, only that it contains lots and lots of very disturbing sex.

            “Tales of Neveryon” was disturbing because it opened with a black warrior hero purchasing a young white boy to be his S&M sex slave. Delany said at the time of publication that he wrote the Neveryon stories in part as a role-reversal game in which the blacks would be the civilized cultured people and the whites would be the jungle savages.

            Then I found out that Delany had also written a pornographic novel which was about the S&M sexual adventures of a black sea captain and his two young white sex slaves, whom he had acquired for sex when they were ten years old walking the streets of Calcutta. Delany seemed to enjoy this far, far too much. (A decent person would have written such a story to be horrifying, not titillating.)

            1. This, I think, is a place where knowing too much about an author can color the work.

              Tales of Neveryon did not bother me when I read it because I knew little about Delaney and his tastes. So, I read the part you reference as more a grimdark realism in a typical fantasy setting than fetish porn. I doubt I would have the same reaction years later knowing what I know.

              I’ve opined in another thread that learning more about Scalzi and Asimov affected my ability to read their work. Learning what I have about MZB hasn’t pulled their works from my shelves but I am afraid of how it will color a re-reading of wide swaths of Darkover. That said, works like The House Between the Worlds (possibly my favorite Bradley book) will probably not change at all because there is little sex and no children so those thoughts won’t try to mingle in.

              1. I had just about all of MZB’s Darkover books, and the anthologies as well. I couldn’t read them again, not after finding out about how she and Breen abused their daughter, and how she enabled Breen to molest children. Just couldn’t. She was so much the writer who lauded strong and determined women … and seemed to encourage women to take responsibility and stand for themselves. And … well, just ugh. I pulled them all of the shelves and stashed them in a box in the garage

              2. Apologies, I did not express myself clearly. I was not creeped out when I first read Neveryon, as I did not yet know anything about Delany’s background. It was later, after I saw that other novel and learned about his opinions on race and sex, that my reactions to Neveryon changed.

            2. “I don’t know any details about “Hogg”, only that it contains lots and lots of very disturbing sex.”

              You really don’t want to know, trust me. “Very disturbing” is being kind. I actually felt dirty after reading the summary.

      1. Nevertheless, I would say that Babel 17, Nova, and Triton remain classics of the genre. Though Delaney’s person disgusts me for reasons having nothing to do with skin color (that might even count as a positive to me), I will defend the quality of his art against all comers. That’s discrimination.


      2. Someone at Scalzi’s was complaining that we were “dismissing Delaney as a NAMBLA supporter”. Well yeah, because HE IS ONE.

          1. And that if conduct justifies exclusion, those excluding are indulging in double standards.

            1. Mary, it sounds like you equate “criticize” and “make moral judgements” with “exclusion”. I don’t believe anybody has said they would ban him from receiving literary awards.

              1. The side that want to exclude US has explicitly said that they could of course exclude someone who belonged to a pro-child-rape group in order to justify their actions.

                One notes that they could, but haven’t.

          2. I was also creeped out when he wrote that it was okay for blacks to mistreat innocent whites #BecauseSlavery…and that it wasn’t racism because blacks cannot be racist.

              1. Career Navy uncle damn near did not make Chief because he stood up at one of the mandatory racial classes in the late 70’s and called bs on the official idea that blacks could not be racist.

                1. Which is an idea that I have always argued is racist.

                  If racism is a flaw (and it is), and yet if a group of people are incapable of being racist, then there is a flaw they can not possess. Without an offsetting flaw, then they are superior beings than us.

                  Since no one has offered an offsetting flaw…

                  1. You sound like you’d love my proof that activists for women and non-whites essentially concede that straight white males are superior beings by the nature of their arguments.

                    1. Is that the one that goes “White men are the only group that doesn’t need special support to succeed, therefore they are superior to all those groups that do need help to succeed?”

                      Why yes, I went through diversity training recently, why do you ask?

                      This time I wrote on the class feedback evaluation that it was highly offensive of them to promote the idea that women are incapable of handling university life without a support group, and that the presentation on how to help “underprivileged” groups was patronising.

                    2. Not quite.

                      So, some back of the envelope math…wait, some Wikipedia math (all demographics based on Wikipedia numbers in the World Demographics, List of Modern Ethnic Groups, and Homosexuality articles)

                      The high estimates for all Indo-European language speakers of European descent 1,239,330,000 people. Let’s round it up to 1.5 billion in case we decide to include Kurds and Iranians as white.

                      The total population of the world is 7,141,174,477.

                      So, whites are, at the outside, 21% of world population.

                      Men are roughly half of the population so white men are 10.5% of the world’s population.

                      Homosexuals are probably 10% tops. So straight white males are roughly 9.5% of the worlds population. Using radcon (no, SJWs, that’s not radical conservatives or some other slur, it means radiological controls and is a US Navyism for back of the envelope calculations) math we’ll say 1 in 10 of the world’s population are straight, white, males: ie, the Patriarchy.

                      Various Marxist radical theories argue straight, white, males are the cause of all oppression in the world. All other populations are repeatedly informed of this facts. In fact, at worst case only 1 in 3 non-whites are aware of the fact of the Patriarchy.

                      Yet, when we look at activists and world leaders fighting the Patriarchy they haven’t used this worst case advantage of 3 to 1 and a best case of 9 to 1 to overwhelm the Patriarchy.

                      Their principle goal is to convince the Patriarchy to overthrow itself by PC behavior and new laws.

                      Given how evil the Patriarchy is destroying it by violence is justified. Therefore it is reasonable to conclude this is not possible. It is justified to conclude that the only way for the Patriarchy to not oppress gays, women, and people of color is for them to decide not to do so.

                      Any group that can oppress 9 times their number while the oppressed know and still leave the oppressed no option to end the oppression except to ask the oppressors to stop obviously is at least 9 times as capable on a per capita basis.

                      Therefore, by the arguments of advocates for gays, women, and people of color straight white men are superior and probably an order of magnitude superior to gays, women, and people of color.

                    3. You stopped jussssst short of a major revelation there.

                      Which group of White males controls the levers of power in Western Civilization? The Jews (brief pause for the booing to die away). Probably less than ten percent of the white male population are Jews … possibly on the order of two percent.

                      What singular characteristic do Male Jews all have in common?

                      They all are … circumcised. Draw your own conclusion, I shouldn’t have to walk you right up to it.

                    4. Why am I reminded of a joke about two Jews sitting in the park reading newspapers. One is reading a Jewish newspaper and frowning at various attacks on Jews while the other is reading an anti-Semitic newspaper and chortling. First one asks the other why he’s reading that sort of thing and the 2nd Jew says:

                      “When I read your paper I hear about how Jews are being attacked and it’s depressing. When I read this paper I find out we control the banks, the government, the media, EVERYTHING!”

                      Or something like that.

                  2. rac·ist
                    a person who believes that a particular race is superior to another.
                    synonyms: racial bigot, racialist, xenophobe, chauvinist, supremacist

                    Thus, a black that believes whites are superior is not a racist. A black that believes blacks are superior is.

              2. It would be better to say that the radical idea is shared by other people. IE it’s a radical idea and too many hold it besides him.

              3. “Yeah, but that’s not as radical and idea as you might think.”
                If you replace “radical” with “unusual” I agree with you.

            1. They taught that in school here, back in the 1960s/1970s.

              “Equality” appeared to be “pre-Civil War South, except reversed.”

        1. Yeah, like that’s a bad thing.

          If the idea is to paint us as hypocrites for holding the author’s politics against the work, well … in the case of pedophilia and child rape I am willing to plead guilty.

          1. What they fear is people discovering Breen, Bradley, and Krammer aren’t the exception in old guard fandom. I don’t know if they are or not but the reactions when the topic comes up makes me wonder sometimes, especially coupled with behavior that is common in some areas that intersect fandom.

            1. From what I’ve read of some of the social arrangements of the original fandom it would have been a happy hunting ground for pedo predators.

        2. Am I dismissing the person for that reason? Yes.

          Am I dismissing his writing? No. I also still have all my MZB books as well.

          What I find interesting is their tacit admission that they are fine with pedophiles especially in contrast to who they are not fine with. I’ll proudly stand up and say I prefer the company of veterans and sports shooters to child molesters. They refuse to stand up and say the opposite despite their actions telling us just that.

          Are they also pointing out the person who first mentioned NAMBLA in this thread is the one defending a woman as the first science-fiction author?

    1. I’ve only read Babel-17, but that was enough to know he’s really got one wild imagination.

        1. I don’t think that comment was fair. Delany really does have quite an imagination–and great writing skill. It’s just that some of his beliefs are, well, er, um, “questionable”.
          George Bernard Shaw was a good writer, and I still enjoy reading his plays, but I loathe his politics.

                  1. (Looks over at large gas station cup) I think I got the last out of the pot. I thought everyone else was done, so I didn’t start a new one.

                    1. Nope. In the event that we find a time that’s neither day time nor night time in any way, then we’re going to need something a whole lot stronger than coffee.

                    2. I plead indoctrination from working with weaklings who can’t sleep at night if they have coffee after 3PM.

                    3. “In the event that we find a time that’s neither day time nor night time in any way….”

                      Well, what about Hammer time? To go with Hammerspace. Can’t touch this.

                    4. A few decades ago at a con, I had a custom button made that reads, “If you can’t get your work done in a 24-hour day, work nights.”

                      It was something the Engineering Officer on my sub used to say.

                  2. Where did all the coffee go?

                    I never knew you were into American folk music…

                    Where has all the coffee gone?
                    Long time passing.
                    Where has all the coffee gone?
                    Long time ago.
                    Where has all the coffee gone?
                    Gone through kidneys, every one.
                    When will we ever learn?
                    When will we ever learn?

          1. “Of course he does. He thinks that adult men buggering little boys is awesome. That takes a vivid imagination.”

            “I don’t think that comment was fair. Delany really does have quite an imagination–and great writing skill. It’s just that some of his beliefs are, well, er, um, “questionable”.”

            Well, he’s openly spoken of his admiration for NAMBLA to the point where they have a page thanking him on their website, soooo…….

          2. I don’t know how important this is, but it’s said that no one else would have got Delany’s MSs accepted. He needs a great deal of copyediting to correct the sloppiness and massive misspelling. And if, as I think, “Dhalgren” refers to the Civil War’s Dahlgren gun, there’s a misspelling in the one word title.

            1. Dhalgren is unreadable. It has no order or continuity and makes no sense whatsoever. It’s a bunch of scenes glued together. There’s no there there.

              1. I liked Dhalgren when I first encountered it. I saw it as a Bildungsroman structured in much the same manner as Joyce’s Ulysses-loosely connected scenes and events carrying the story. Then layer in the hat tips to various western tropes such as Oedipus (main character has a club foot) and the arrival of the ‘hero’ from the mist over a bridge. (Think the Bifröst bridge to Asgard.) Later on it’s attraction faded away, although I got a couple of good papers out of it for various 300-level lit courses.
                At the same time I was attempting Finnegans Wake (after having fallen madly in love with Joyce) and reading Gravity’s Rainbow for a Existentialist literature seminar.
                Later that year I realized that graduate school was not for me and I went back to machine shop as a career arc. Still read at the Wake, reread Rainbow about every five or six years, but I have not touched Dhalgren since about ’85.

                Didn’t know Delany was black until the late ’90’s. Tres weird as a girlfriend used to comment…


  2. I was amused a few days ago to see some SJW-type claim that the first SF book was written by a teenage girl “and dudes hate that.” I don’t know about “dudes” but I know a good many people – many of them male – are quite appreciative, both for a good story (though I do wonder at how utterly unprepared Victor was for his experiment to actually work) and the seed of the genre which they enjoy – and at times enjoy getting a living from. Yeah, inventing a field one can enjoy and prosper in is a thing to hate?

    1. Was that Ursla Ogg of the Xxoo tribe’s stone slate where she had the story of using the bent willow tree to propel herself to the moon to grab some green cheese?
      ‘First SF book’ is itself a moving target. Book has some problems itself, but Science Fiction? Was Verne’s work science, or speculation?
      My B.S. detector would go off on this especially since ‘first book’ probably falls in an era where Women really *were* second class citizens and unlikely to have any work published in a copy size of more than one.
      However, if aforementioned SJW can really show credible evidence of the fact, it wouldn’t *hate* the idea.

      1. Frankenstein has been the leading contender for first SF novel for at least 30 years. Mary Shelley was about 20 when she wrote it.

        1. If Frankenstein has been the leading contender it is only because people are willfully ignorant. Both de Bergerac and More preceded Shelley by tens of decades.

        1. Thanks. inspired me to check & see if Somnium had come up on the 1632 boards. It had, in 2011, so I gave the thread a boost.

    2. That is utter nonsense — the first SF book was written by a 17th Century Gascon swordsman,

      Cyrano de Bergerac’s works L’Autre Monde: ou les États et Empires de la Lune (Comical History of the States and Empires of the Moon) (published posthumously, 1657) and Les États et Empires du Soleil (The States and Empires of the Sun) (1662) are classics of early modern science fiction. In the former, Cyrano travels to the moon using rockets powered by firecrackers and meets the inhabitants. The moon-men have four legs, musical voices, and firearms that shoot game and cook it.

      His mixture of science and romance in the last two works furnished a model for many subsequent writers, among them Jonathan Swift, Edgar Allan Poe and probably Voltaire. Corneille and Molière freely borrowed ideas from Le Pédant joué.

      or British saint Thomas More, who published Utopia in 1516.

      Depending on how one defines SF, there are probably yet earlier works, most likely written by some Greek pedophile.

      As for the other component of their claim, yeah, dudes hate Frankenstein and want nothing to do with it. And the moon is made of camembert.

      1. One could argue that the first work of science fiction was Odyssey, written by Homer sometime around the end of the 8th century BC.

        1. Still a better … no. Never mind THAT. The Odyssey is nowhere near as tedious as Voyage to Arcturus.


            1. Is it sad that I find descriptions of GoT in academic literature more interesting than the few pages of GoT that I actually read? (His short fiction still outshines a lot of other work, though.)

          1. I was given to understand that Homer mainly was recording a bunch of stories that were already established in oral tradition. Seems likely to me.

            1. I have it on good authority that Homer was the “pen name” of the Queen of Sheba, whose real name was SheBabe.

                1. We get carp on this blog when we write outrageous things; but really we’re posting for the halibut.

                  Confusing customers’ orders like this at least proves Sarah’s no fishwife.

              1. That would have been so much a better character name for He-Man’s female counterpart.

        2. I’d argue against it as the marvels and monsters were things that people believed were real or had been real. [Wink]

          1. I occasionally follow a bit of the archaeology on that period and time.

            From some indicators, Odyssey may have been the first alternate history. You know, the one where some Greek said “What if we didn’t get our asses handed to us at Troy?”

            1. First some nits, the Iliad would be the “alternate history” of a victory over Troy as the Odyssey was the story of Odysseus’ long trip home. [Wink]

              As for the Greeks losing against Troy, I’m curious about the evidence for that idea especially since we don’t have any Trojan stories about a war against the Greeks. [Smile]

              1. It was a brilliant psy-ops coup. They never went to Troy, never laid siege, never sacked it — they just spread the story far and wide, convincing everybody there was no point going to Troy, that any trading expeditions were sure money-losers (and that the Trojans were such dorks they’d fall for such an idiotic ruse.) Denied trade the Trojan economy failed and they were forced to abandon the city.

                1. (and that the Trojans were such dorks they’d fall for such an idiotic ruse.)

                  I bet this is the fault of that drunk coach, too.

              2. If you haven’t already, you need to read Snorri Sturtuson’s Prose Edda.

                He contends that Troian expatriates migrated to Scandinavia, heard the local legends,and tricked the area’ s king into believing that the expatriates were the Aesir (men of Asia, or so he has the word’s derivation).

                It’s quite the thing.

                1. Wonder if that’s where Geoffrey of Monmouth got the idea when he used it in the Arthur cycle?

                2. Saw a theory years ago showing that most major pantheonic religions throughout Europe, Asia, and (IIRC) northern Africa all included an usurper god or gods who came from a faraway place (again IIRC, at one point this included Jupiter, rather than the later patricide story). He mapped (roughly, of course) the legendary direction of origin for those usurpers and found they all intersected in central Asia. Some violent, mostly forgotten diaspora, perhaps. The author tied it to the biblical cursing of Babel (the people of Babel, unable to cooperate in their schemes, spread out to each form their own kingdoms) but openly admitted that making firm connections in proto-history is impossible. I still found the idea fascinating, and if I didn’t have my muse stuffed in a box in the closet under lock and key, he might try to make something of it. 🙂

                  1. Barbarian Volkerwanderungs from the steppes have always been a thing, apparently. The Tower of Babel is supposed to have been in Babylon.

              3. Gah! Somebody is adulterating my coffee… Iliad. I tell you three times, Ilead, Ilead, Ilead

                IIRC, it was a piece about how far more artifacts from the “Troy” culture were found in Mycaenean sites than Mycaenean culture artifacts in any of the various “Trojan” levels.

                (Of course, that could just be that the Mycaeneans came, slaughtered, pillaged, and left… I seem to remember thinking that at the time I read the piece.)

      2. … dudes hate Frankenstein and want nothing to do with it.

        Pssst… nobody tell Straw Man Larry about that. (Dude’s a jerk, anyway.)

          1. You’ve reminded me of a story about Maurice Sendak (IIRC) explaining why he doesn’t like doing book signings.

            He goes to these venues, gives a short spiel about writing for kids, then families queue up as parents prod their tykes to “meet the author.” His observation of the dread these kids experience at being forced to hand over their treasured book so some man named “Arthur” can write in them has convinced him that book signings (by him) are a very, very bad idea.

            1. Well, considering how many of us were raised to the idea that writing in books is very nearly The Unforgivable Sin…I can see why kids would have issues with letting some dude they don’t even know do something to their book that THEY would get into huge trouble for… 😀

              1. I got over that…you can tell my favorite non-fiction books by the commentary (including arguing) in the margins.

                1. There is a special place in Hades for those who tear out the final chapter after finishing a mystery.

                  1. NOT as bad as for those who put a little slip of paper halfway through saying who the murderer is. (No, I don’t remember what I’d done to Dad to deserve that. The man didn’t believe in spanking, but he had his ways.)

            2. My kids are the exact opposite: autographed books are to be treasured. Sought out especially for birthday presents–a book is cool, an autographed book is better. Put on the top shelf of the bookcase where the baby cannot pull them down and tear them. Or the next to top shelf. Or the third to top shelf. Okay, lay them flat on top of the other autographed books. Okay, fine, we need another bookshelf.

              Anyway, you get the idea. The key, I think, is that we don’t take the kids treasures to be autographed. We buy brand new books to be autographed and treasured.

              1. As a kid, the second it got into my grubby (not really) little hands, it was my treasure. Letting some weird looking author be the first to open it… Aaargh!

            3. Sendak was one of those that broke my heart as soon as I learned about him as a person. He wrote and illustrated wonderful books – having children gives me a great excuse to read Where the Wild Thing Are out loud and with great gesticulation. Heck even the jazz adaptation of Chicken Soup with Rice (yes, there really is such a thing, though I can’t find it ATM) was excellent. Then I read an interview given near the end of his life and lost all respect for him as a person. I’ve found over time that I can separate the man and his work, but it still stings a little.

      3. I thought the first Sci Fi work was written by Johannes Kepler on the very early 17th century, where he describes the dream of a trip to the moon.

    3. I’m going to have to rise to the defense of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein as the first science fiction novel.

      Without ignoring works such as Cyrano de Bergerac’s two books of space travel or the earlier Somnium by Johannes Kepler or any other interesting work I believe all are proto-science fiction. Books like The Odyssey are in the realm of fantasy.

      What makes Shelley’s gothic novel stand out is her couching the core of her book in science. While by no means hard science fiction Frankenstein is a scientist working with technology to create his monster. In de Bergerac’s moon book, by contrast, space travel is more a series of comical failures and even in book two when it is the result of a more serious attempt the actual science of it is very secondary to the story. Kepler would accomplish his travel to the Moon through the medium of dream.

      While a lot of sci-fi from the 60s on could easily be condemned for the same failing I think context is all important. de Bergerac was not staking out new ground that would serve as inspiration for a whole new family of novels as Horace Walpole would with The Castle of Otranto in creating the gothic. Instead, de Bergerac was working comfortably in a comic novel form that would inspire no similar works. This contrasts strongly with the soft science fiction of the sixties new wave. It was strongly embedded within a family of works that were already recognizable as science fiction.

      What he does have in common with Shelley is a second book in the same vein. It is generally forgotten is Shelley not only wrote the first out of control robot novel but she also wrote the first last man on Earth novel. Although The Last Man is less know today it is still important. In fact, they are probably he two most remembered works.

      Finally, one can find a much stronger family resemblance between Shelley’s two novels and their most immediate successors in the works of Verne and Wells. The strong family resemblance in the reliance of current technology moved forward a bit to drive plot is something the earlier relatives do not share.

      So, as an author who:

      1. First used science as the couching for popular fictions.
      2. Whose two major works fit the idea of science fiction.
      3. Whose two works in question are the oldest books which have a strong family resemblance to early science fiction.

      I find it reasonable to dry at line in the sand and credit Frankenstein as the first science fiction story.

      1. Then we get into a discussion on what is using science. . . .

        At the end of Inferno, Dante and Virgil have to escape Hell by climbing down Satan’s gigantic but fortunately hairy body. Except you can’t climb all the way down. Only to his waist. From his waist to his feet, you have to climb UP.


        1. True and highly perceptive given the state of knowledge at the time.

          That said, it is not the principle point of an excellent work. That was Shelley’s leap and, I think, an accidental one. The creation of science fiction by fusing the gothic novel with the growth of industry and science and tinted with the fear the Romantic had of said growth was probably inevitable. As was Verne’s fusion of that growth with the adventure novel thirty years later. I suspect many of the authors listed who I classify as proto-science fiction would have made the leap and created a new genre instead of an interesting one off of an existing one if they’d been in the same context.

      2. Ah, for crying out loud: In order for a work to be Science Fiction, it has to be *Fiction*. And we know from Larry Correia that Frankenstein is an attempt to capture the events of the life of a certain government agent!

        1. Oh No, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a fictional story based on stories she heard about Franks.

          Franks’ story is much different than what Mary Shelley wrote. [Wink]

        2. And good Lord, for all the idiots who think what Larry writes is “just guns.” They could learn a thing or two about turning the corner of a character there.

      3. Kepler would accomplish his travel to the Moon through the medium of dream.

        So, does Somnium end with, “… and then he woke up.”

    4. A True Story, by Lucian of Samosata 120 CE is considered the first Science Fiction by many.

    5. “some SJW-type claim that the first SF book was written by a teenage girl “and dudes hate that.”

      You really should have pointed her to a John C. Wright group praising Mary Shelley as the first SF author and explained that the puppy-kicking CHORFs who freak out when they learn about all the powerful women in SF history are one of the main forces driving all the “puppies”.

      Sometimes, I’m just mean like that.

      1. Standard operational SJW claptrap.
        1st book written by a ‘teen’, while 20 is not a teen. SJW lies.
        Dudes hate that. SJW projection. Of course, being an SJW it is obvious that she ‘hates’ male authors.
        She left out the most important part: Published by TOR.

        1. Wikipedia says she started writing it at 18, and it was published when she was 20, so the “written by a teen” part is technically true. But the “Dudes hate that” part is most definitely projection.

      2. That’s the “nice” thing about SJWs. I never have to decide what I believe, the SJWs will tell me and say I’m bad for it.

        I mean, I had no idea that I wanted only white heterosexual males in SF.

          1. Apparently, I’m enlightened for liking a black woman like Michelle “Mike” Henke, but evil for liking a white man like Aivars Terekhov. Ow, broke my brain trying to think like a prog.

    6. For values of “hate” that include “accord such immense literary and intellectual success to that the story is still widely read and enjoyed and influencing science fiction almost two centuries after it was written.”

      Gee, I wonder if Scalzi will get “hated” that much?

        1. I agree, and I think that’s the real reason why he’d rather politick as a leader of the Tor Clique than try to write real science fiction against. He actually wrote some good stuff in the Old Man’s War series, though it’s rather a Humans Are Monsters take on the multi-racial alien galactic federation genre.

          George R. R. Martin isn’t epherma, his Song of Ice and Fire is genuinely good, and he also has an interesting interstellar universe (in which I have a suspicion the planet on which Westeros is on is actually in, rather as Anne McCaffrey’s Pern is in her larger Federation universe). His corruption by the Clique is a genuinely tragic thing, and I hope it doesn’t stop him from finishing his series. If he can get it done, it may endure for a long time to come.

  3. Actually in this day and age your(your company) will “select” the candidate that fulfills whatever the latest .gov mandate for aa hiring (according to your hr department) is… unless you enjoy visits by the .gov thugs.

  4. Insert pedantic note about the word discrimination and it’s various uses here.

    I don’t now and never have cared what the author looked like.
    You write story. I read story. If good story, I buy more. If bad story, I don’t. So I have discriminated by taste.

    1. This. Well written, plus the type of thing I like. For example I probably won’t read a military historical novel no matter how well written because it’s just not my jam. But well written probably comes first. I’d rather read a well written military historical novel than a poorly written fantasy. So good writing still wins in the end.

    2. I have only ever cared about knowing what an author looked like so that I would recognize them and be able to thank them for the pleasure and enjoyment their work has given me, should we ever meet.

      1. Honestly, I never wanted to meet the authors, I was too intimidated by them. They could write such glorious stories and I couldn’t, so they were kind of on a pedestal for me and I didn’t want that bubble to burst. Quite a number still are on said pedestal and always will be.
        And funny thing is, I like it that way.

        1. Oh, yes. I used to think of America as that magical land where writers lived. Part of the lure to be a professional was to join them on mount Olympus.
          Waiter! There’s a fly in my Ambrosia.

                  1. My work here is….

                    done? Are you kidding, the only way to get the other images out is to share them with other people.

                    1. *urg*
                      *Vomiting, until last week’s meals come up.*
                      Now, can someone point me in the way of about six gallons of eyebleach, please? I have needs, here!

                    2. Donald, my paw to the heavens, you type anything like that ever again, and I will have to get the access code to deactivate the containment field on the ban-hammer from Her Evilness. Or give Kate your home address. *shudder*

              1. Digressing from the jokes, Zeus’ cup-bearer Ganymede doesn’t sound so amusing when one remembers what this was all about in the actual culture of Classical Greece: Not the sanitized romantic love popularized by 18th Century Romantics and Freethinkers, but rather lots of boy-rape by powerful men. See the book “Paul Among the People” for a detailed explication of what Saint Paul wrote in the light of what the words he used meant in the context of the times.

                1. why boy rape? err wouldn’t girl rape be pleasanter? Or is it because boys can’t get pregnant?

                  1. No, it’s because Ancient Greece was misogynistic — the real deal — women weren’t quite human. Sure, you had to sleep with them for kids, but it was almost bestiality. Some Islamic countries have the same problem for the same reason.

                    1. If I’m remembering correctly, one of Asimov’s collections of non-fiction essays had one that discussed this, and noted that because of their views on women, homosexual love was considered the “highest form,” because it was love between equals.

                    2. “one of Asimov’s collections of non-fiction essays…noted that because of their views on women, homosexual love was considered the ‘highest form,’ because it was love between equals.”
                      And yet this is contradicted by the fact the different views that the culture had of the penetrator and penetrated: The former was powerful and manly while the latter was weak and despised.
                      I suspect that Asimov relied on faulty sources.

                    3. Also: Girls were much more cloistered than boys: Girls were kept at home, safe from predators, while boys were expected to live a more public life in preparation for the duties of manhood and citizenship. And so boys were more vulnerable to rape. Consider the Greek word “pedagogue” which today means “teacher”. Its literal meaning, though, is “child guide or leader”: In Classical Greece a pedagogue was a slave who would take the owner’s children to and from school, among other reasons to protect them from seduction and rape.

                    4. No, actually, it didn’t have such views. The theory it did was that a certain word meant “passive”. Unfortunately, that very word is used to describe male adulterers, and in other contexts where it clearly means “lustful” and indeed “incapable of controlling lust.”

                  2. You did, you did.

                    The importance of male homosexuality then has been greatly overstated for political reasons. I recommend Courtesans and Fishcakes: The Consuming Passions of Classical Athens. by James N. Davidson.

        2. I’ve only met three of my “beloved” authors: Peter S. Beagle, Clare Bell (entirely unexpectedly), and Lois Bujold. All three were super nice and super friendly. Clare in particular was more than happy to chat with me and my friend for several minutes about various sff geek stuff. (I haven’t actually read her books in 20 years, but I *loved* them in middle school, and have very fond memories of them.) Peter Beagle and I compared notes on our taste in geeky shirts (we both own the “…And then Buffy Staked Edward. The End.” one), and Lois Bujold was just really, really nice. (I was a bit shyer with her, on account of her being up there next to Pratchett in my pantheon on Favorite Authors.)

          If I’d ever gotten to meet Pratchett before he died, I’m not sure I would have had the courage to say much.

            1. I wouldn’t mind having a telepathic flying panther like the one in Janet Morris’s Returning Creation.

      2. There are some authors that I’d want to know what they looked like so I could avoid them. [Evil Grin]

    3. “a pedantic word about discrimination”
      Do SJW’s drop out of electrical engineering majors when they hear about discriminator circuits? 🙂

      1. Shadowdancer has a comic about her housemate Aff’s encounters with some customers. I think one of them had someone objecting to “male” and “female” being used to described connectors on computer hardware or something…

        1. No, wait. I think it was “master” and “slave” instead, though I’m sure some SJW has objected to the other.

          1. Oh, yes. They object to anything.

            The prize, however, has to go to a PC writing guide that objected to the atoms resulting from atomic decay being called daughter isotope because of women’s involvement in the peace movement.

        2. Patrick, I swear to you that back in the 90s there was an actual attempt to change the terminology of “master” vs “slave” drives / servers / whatever because words….

          1. There have apparently been attempts to do global replacements of the master/slaver terminology on more than one software platform in recent years.

          2. I believe the issue has also come up with brake cylinders, as SJWs urged slave cylinders to overthrow their chains and escape their bondage.

        3. That would be an opportunity to sell the fool a collection of “gender changers” at marked up prices. 🙂

          1. I have a DB-25 gender changer, as well as a couple of others. Some years ago, one of the tech companies (I don’t remember if it was a distributor or a manufacturer) published their own comic book with a superhero whose powers involved technology. The series wasn’t very good, because having to work products into the story tends to make things stilted.

            In any case, one issue had him travel through a modem connection to the location where the problem was, but he came out the other end female, and had to rig something up (with the product of the day) to get back to being male.

  5. I read six books by CJ Cherryh in a row the first time I discovered her works. Not only did it not occur to me that she was a woman, I literally never thought to ask. She did what I like not only in writers, but in writing: to be transparent to the story.

    I liked Maureen McHugh’s China Mountain Zhang — great atmospherics, neat world building, albeit largely plotless. But I don’t think I ever went back to anything else she wrote. I imagine because the author’s voice (not the character’s voices) seemed to keep pulling me out of the story.

    1. I loved her Chanur series for itself, then only afterward realized she had written a “reverse-sex-roles” story WITHOUT the weirdness or unbelievability of other authors’ attempts to do such. Using the lion pride social setup as a starting point for “what if” was a master stroke, in my opinion.

      1. You mean:

        1. Ancillary Noun has been done before.
        2. Was done before by a woman.
        3. Done better

        I’m shocked, shocked I tell you.

        1. Yep. But all of us old ladies in SF who tried to point it out are just a bunch of mean old sexists.

          When I first read Ancillary Justice, I hauled out my copy of Merchanteer’s Luck, opened a chapter at random and compared to the Leckie work. Eye-opening. You can compare it to nearly any one of the living grande dames of SF and the painfulness of her prose relative to theirs… Some very early Bujold will have a few paragraphs on a par with Leckies’ worst, and I could sometimes go a page or two without putting in a post-it tab marking some klunker. So you might get luck and Bujold would suffer in comparison.

          If you succeed go buy a lottery ticket. You’re on a roll.

          1. Wow, I’m not sure which was meaner, actually comparing Leckie to Cherryh or taking the former’s grand work and comparing it to Merchanter’s Luck…then again, if you had compared it to Cherryh’s first Hugo winner it would probably have been even meaner.

          2. “Merchanter’s Luck” is a romance story disguised as science fiction. But I’m okay with that… it’s by far my favorite of all Cherryh’s work.

        2. Probably also done to some extent by Andre Norton — one of her early stories (“All Cats Are Gray”) has a Badass Bookworm librarian rescuing a Northwest Smith style action hero (I wonder what C. L. Moore thought of the story?). All Cats Are Gray was written and published in 1953. Yep, by a female author, with a female protagonist in a rather feminist sort of plot. Not always realized as such because she wrote it as “Andrew North” instead of using “Andre Norton” (which was actually her name by then; she’d changed it legally from “Alice” during the Interwar Era).

            1. Heh, not only was Andre Norton an American, she was almost a cowgirl. Grew up in the same sort of frontier area as Jack Williamson, and her personal grasp of what rough-country travel is like shows in her stories, too.

    2. I had no idea CJ Cherryh was a woman when I read the Faded Sun trilogy. Didn’t actually care–the author wrote aliens that actually seemed *alien* but without being, er, alienating.

      I still don’t care that she’s a woman, as that was never a factor in what I read beyond “Okay, cool, where’s the next book?”

      1. I should also say that it doesn’t matter to me either if the writer is male. All that counts is the quality of the writing.

  6. Once you eliminate characters and story-telling from your criteria for selecting a book to read, author characteristics makes as much sense as the color of the binding but rather less sense than the typeface used.

      1. As one who has been moved by The Spirit, I will always rise in honor of …

        … Sand Serif.

      2. Pshaw. Times New Roman is for hacks.

        If you want to truly appreciate what a font can add to a work, you absolutely must read Fifty Shades of Grey in Comic Sans.

          1. Yes, but it still feels good to receiver recognition now and again.

            Besides, what’s wrong with using Flintstones jelly jars as drinking glades?

              1. In my parents’ household, the Flintstones jars were for kids. Adults drank out of Mason jars.

                Here in the South, it’s still possible to find restaurants that serve tea or soft drinks in Mason jars.

                1. Used to be I got all my best glasses at Arbys. There were Looney Tunes characters on 20 oz. glasses, the Uncola glasses …

                  Problem was that you had to eat there to get them.

            1. “Besides, what’s wrong with using Flintstones jelly jars as drinking glades?”

              I think you mean drinking glasses and why are you using valuable collector items like that? [Evil Grin]

              1. Yes, I meant glasses… not sure how bad my typing was on my tablet this morning to make autocorrupt change it to “glades”.

                And unfortunately, I don’t actually have any Flintstones jelly jars. They were just the go-to example for “this is why we can’t have nice things” when I was a kid.

  7. I prefer to judge a book by the content of the novel, and not the color or sex of the author. Now, I can be quite ‘discriminating’ on what I consider good writing, but provided the novel meets those standards, the only thing of ‘concern’ about the author might be their age. As in a selfish attempt to determine how many more of their novels I will get to enjoy. I don’t think my dislike of any novel has ever risen to the emotional level of ‘hate’. Waste of time is about as damning a level of dislike as I would ascribe; however, if I had purchased said novel, puppy chew toy may be appropriate.

    1. I do believe this is a microagression, of some form or another. An SJW will be along to mansplain/femsplain/othersplain it to us, shortly, just watch.

      (Of course, watching them make their way across Fluffy’s fewmet field is good for several hours of entertainment. All those scooters, mired in dragon dung…) 😀

      1. You are probably right about the microaggression. Requiring ‘standards’ is certainly also one.
        I will just have to wait until a SJW comes along to tell me what I was really ‘thinking’ in that post.

      2. Not any of those SJB types, but I had to do a story for work about it a short time ago.

        The argument is that by not caring about the author’s gender/race/religion/sexuality/shoe size, you’re denying key parts of their identity and therefore denying them.

        There’s no reason this wouldn’t be applied to authors as well, meaning we’re supposed to actively seek out authors that meet these demographics. Failure to do so is de facto proof of racism. Or something.

        1. That’s the language. ‘Claiming that ChiCom is racist denies Anti-Communist Chinese their heritage, their identity and denies them as a whole.’

          1. Ooh, nice. I’m going to have to bookmark that for future reference. I left the university too long ago, I’ve lost my knack for the jargon.

        2. And the Ogg part of our heritage says we should bash their head in with a club. Who are they do deny the traditions of the oldest and most primitive human societies?

  8. It seems as if these people have never heard of pen names or, for that matter, changing their name when they get married.

    It is especially bizarre that these people are complaining about literature, when it is one of the fields least subject to discrimination. After all, what a reader is judging is what is written on the page. They are not looking at the author’s face, or listening to their voice. They are not even able to do so — the work stands on its own. And if they are worried about the publisher being discriminatory, even the publisher has to go out of their way to find out the author’s gender or ethnicity. (And, of course, Tor.com does so: they ask explicitly for authors to be of “under-represented populations”.)

    I believe that one of the reasons for the Worldcon crew’s obsession with identity is that they are busy promoting their friends. They read their friends’ work, they vote for it, and they really have a hard time understanding that most people don’t do the same.

    That also explains their absolute disregard for one of the biggest factors in “social justice” and “under-represented minorities”: wealth. In order to be a regular at Worldcon, you have to expend a non-trivial amount of time and money to travel every year. Not many people can do so. But Tor.com goes out of its way to say that they are interested in authors with “any mental ability”, but says nothing about impoverished writers. For all their talk about diversity, has the Worldcon crowd set up any programs to assist poor fans? Those assistance programs that I’m aware of consider race or popularity, not wealth. And apparently one of “Con Or Bust”‘s first awardees was upper-class.

    This whole fuss seems nothing more than the “in-group” voting for their friends, and coming up with excuses to hate the “out-group”.

    (This is my first post here — hi!!)

    1. I haven’t been much at cons the last few years, because no money, for ex. And we’re not paupers.
      On married names and citizenship names. They’d probably have an easier time with me if I were still Alice Maria da Silva Marques de Almeida… Or not.

      1. Dear, they hate you because you’re a while male Mormon. Using the name you grew up with wouldn’t change that in their eyes. 😉

              1. I think they’re like markers for where you’re supposed to go outside the box.

                  1. Ok, then, perhaps for you, they’re markers to help you SEE the box. You really shouldn’t stray that far out, you know. If other people can’t see you, you might get lost. 🙂

          1. o/` I’m a Cranky Old Yank in a Clanky Old Tank on the Streets of Yokohama with My Honolulu Mama Doin’ Those Beat-o, Beat-o Flat-On-My-Seat-o, Hirohito Blues o/`

            Full disclosure: I was never in an armed service, nor in WWII, nor in Japan, nor even in a tank – not even a drunk tank. I was once employed by the Postal Service (I’m feeling better now), and have at times been tanked. I would like to visit Hawaii, but unfortunately I think I want to visit it in the 1920’s or maybe 1930’s which is problematic.

            1. More reason for the Fans of Hoyt to start up a group to bully younger son into creating a time machine. We’re convinced he can and has probably already figured out how. However, having figured it out, he lost interest in DOING it. Hence, bullying is needed 😉

              1. His future self came visiting and told him it wasn’t worth the hassle of dealing with the Pan Dimensional Bureau of Time Divers.

              2. Proof Against Time Travel: Sociology Version (it saves on all that math the physics version uses).
                The line, “The customer is always right”? Used and misused by upper managers and customers? Well, you have NOT heard of marauding bands of angry retail workers having hijacked/stolen/liberated/etc a time-travel device showing up at the first utterance and beating the original teller of that line utterly. Hence, no time travel.

              3. Levers are easy, Mum. Find what he most wants and withhold it. Admittedly, it’s harder now he’s ‘uge and more or less independent.

            2. I was once employed by the Postal Service (I’m feeling better now)…

              I think I’ll start using that parenthetical when I mention that I once worked for the IRS.

            3. Foodly-aki-saki, want some seafood, mama! A rooty-toot-toot and it’s a mighty smoky over Tokyo, Joe!

          2. Eh. I hated my name for various reasons. My first names because I intensely disliked the woman I was named after, but also because Alice (pronounced Uh-lease) is a REALLY old woman name in Portugal or was in my generation. Kind of like being called Ethel. Also I never thought of myself as “Alice.” It rubbed like a badly fitted shoe. Then there was the length of it which I hated with a passion because as a little kid it took so long to write. Third, I think it’s best not to give notice to people I’m a Silva (though the really dangerous Silvas — a common name — are mom’s tribe of Sousa y Silvas. They’re freaking lunatics.) That way they can get a nice surprise when I get mah ax and go after them. So my married name is the pen name I used to write under since 14 or so, Sarah, Marques, paternal grandma’s name, de Almeida, dad’s name and Hoyt, my husband’s name. 😀

            1. If you don’t actually feel like an Alice, perhaps it is because you are a Mabel?

              Or is that a rabbit hole best eschewed?

              1. The name “Mabel” will always be associated with the famous Vern Estes, inventor of the first automatic model rocket motor manufacturing machine.

                BTW….this is true. I am not kidding.

            2. I live in Hawaii. There are a lot of people of Portuguese descent over here (by way of the Azores, I believe). It is a rare thing to pick up the daily paper and not find a Silva or a Carvalho in the police report 🙂

              1. In São Paulo I never saw a pattern of names, but seems like every guy that got busted had an anchor and paddles tattoo and a Corinthians jersey on. We could always tell when the “Timão” was playing: street crime went down by 90%… *evil grin*

                1. Some Hawaiians have a beef with the portagees because they were brought over to be the lunas on the plantations (foremen), and the Portuguese Rifle company was critical in supporting the Queen’s cabinet ministers in their coup against Queen Liliokulani in 1893.

          3. Only if your name is: Johann Gambolputty de von Ausfern- schplenden- schlitter- crasscrenbon- fried- digger- dingle- dangle- dongle- dungle- burstein- von- knacker- thrasher- apple- banger- horowitz- ticolensic- grander- knotty- spelltinkle- grandlich- grumblemeyer- spelterwasser- kurstlich- himbleeisen- bahnwagen- gutenabend- bitte- ein- nürnburger- bratwustle- gerspurten- mitz- weimache- luber- hundsfut- gumberaber- shönedanker- kalbsfleisch- mittler- aucher von Hautkopft of Ulm.

            1. Hey, German does not use hyphens….. 🙂
              Johann Gambolputty de von Ausfernschplendenschlittercrasscrenbonfrieddiggerdingledangledongledunglebursteinvon knacketh rasheapplebangerhorowitzticolensicgrander- knottyspelltinklegrandlichgrumblemeyerspelterwasserkurstlichhimbleeisenbahnwagengutenabendbitteeinnürnburgerbratwustlegerspurtenmitzweimac luberhundsfutgumberabershönedankerkalbsfleischmittleraucher von Hautkopft of Ulm

      2. I guess I’ll chalk that to a good point that my country won’t let me change my name after marriage. Two countries. Two names. Sounds like a great writing prompt until it messes up your plane tickets.

      3. Slipping into other heads, here.

        Yup, the publisher would love it.

        The typical cover painter would hate it. “Why am I doing all this work for something that they’ll never see?”

        1. Because Alice is a different name. Alice is pronounced “Uh-Lease”. So I had to decide what I wanted: my pronounced name or my spelled name. So the day before citizenship I told Dan “I don’t want to be Elise which is closest to Alice in Portuguese pronunciation. And I hate Alice, which was never my name. What do I do?” He said “I know you have hated your name all your life. What’s your REAL name?” I said “Sarah. After “Sarah laughed” because I would totally laugh in the face of divine messengers. I used it as a pen name for contests since 14.” And he said “Fine. Then change it to your REAL name.” And I did. And I despised Mary which is not a name on either of my lines. My grandmother was Carolina Joaquina and mom is Carmen Augusta. I only got it because of the woman I was being named after. So, there you have it.

    2. This whole fuss seems nothing more than the “in-group” voting for their friends, and coming up with excuses to hate the “out-group”.

      That’s because that is precisely what it is. Three years ago, when Larry Correia started saying something was hinky in the Hugo’s, the bullies running Worldcon told him he was full of it. That the Hugos were fandom’s award and the works he liked didn’t win because they just weren’t popular. Cue the Sad Puppies campaign. This year’s results were an emphatic confirmation of Larry’s thesis. Now the challenge is to see if we can make the Hugos what they once were, the fan’s choice of the best in SF. Based on the rate of success the Sad Puppies campaign has had in just three years, I’m optimistic.

      1. Also, the next time one of the CHORFs brings up Vox Day, tell them that you will apologize for him 15 minutes after Obama apologizes for Vester Flannagan.

        1. Or paraphrase our illustrious host and say “He’s not my monkey, and the rabid puppies aren’t my circus.”

              1. Yes, but this fight isn’t to change their minds, that’s impossible. It’s to make blatantly clear to the fence sitters what they are.

      2. And of course the meme this year is that Larry is just doing this because he’s sore about not winning the Campbell.

        1. Especially funny since I don’t think Larry is going to have anything to do with it this year. He was done after SP2, and this year was simply an epic confirmation of that result. It was Sarah, Brad, et al. who wanted to carry on and save the Hugos. Larry’s involvement this year was an announcement and defending himself from the slanders.

          1. Net year Larry ought avoid allowing the Puppy Kickers to target him on this through two means:

            First, not promote the Sad Puppy Project. Sure, a blog announcement providing a history of the project and directions (link) for the current iteration of it, but after that …

            Second, having done that minimal announcement, all efforts at diversionary attacks on him ought be responded to with the classic laws school argument:

            That’s not my dog.
            She didn’t bite you.
            Besides, you kicked her first.

            1. Yep. I think Larry has said everything to be said on the subject. Anything that comes up can be answered with a link to the archives. This isn’t about him, it’s about the Hugos.

    3. Exactly – I went to a couple of cons in the 1990s when they happened to be in the cities where I either lived, or happened to be temporarily. They were low-key, and reasonably priced for a day pass to scheduled events. I checked out a couple of cons in San Antonio the last couple of years, and just … no.
      As for traveling a good distance, and adding hotel room and airfare to that cost. Nope. Nope. And Nope again.

      (And welcome to the Horde.)

    4. For all their talk about diversity, has the Worldcon crowd set up any programs to assist poor fans?

      They did this year as long as you pledged to “No Award” works supported by the SP.

      Tells you a lot about their real concerns re: wealth right there.

      1. Oh, assuredly not! They didn’t care *how* you voted, and to claim otherwise besmirches the honor of the anonymous ballot-stuffers donors and enablers-of-less-fortunate-proto-fans! How dare you, sir!


      2. I took them at their word and received one of those “scholarships” from the lot curated by Mary 3Names. Then I read everything and voted for the works I thought were the best of the lot. I think I might have been the only one to do that. Posting anonymously so as not to burn my regular handle.

        1. You mean they may have been purchasing slate votes? Where’s my fainting couch :p

          That’s all we asked.

          1. And thus gave Vox Day cover if he crowdfunds memberships for minions next year.

            As with 99% of the things they did this year it is like he is running both sides.

            1. Ya. Will probably happen. Sad to see a bit but none of it was hard to game out…aren’t these supposed to be good at extrapolation for the story?

    5. Welcome to the scrum — good points, well put.

      Back when SF was essentially a magazine-based reading culture the Hugos probably made sense. It was entirely possible with a few not-expensive subscriptions to at least sample* essentially everything significant published in the genre on a current basis. The shift in the genre away from a magazine-centric orientation means the number of people reading even a large percentage of annually published work is slight (and likely over-represented with people lacking real lives.)

      Hugo Awards have always been a lie. As you note, they represent only those fans with time, leisure and enthusiasm for attending cons, or rather a specific con. I doubt anybody can make a compelling argument that fans who attend cons love SF more than those of us who dislike con attendance, preferring to spend our weekends reading SF rather than arguing with half-wits with half-lives. Con membership based voting not only discriminates in favor of the privileged financially, it probably discriminates against the introverted and the religious (orthodox Jews, for example, are effectively excluded from cons.)

      So any claim that the Hugos represent anything beyond the prejudices of a small set of pretentious and privileged portion of fans with no better way of spending a weekend has always been absurd.

      *sample because there were undoubtedly people who read the first dozen pages of one or another story and go, “meh, not my taste.”

      1. I doubt anybody can make a compelling argument that fans who attend cons love SF more than those of us who dislike con attendance, preferring to spend our weekends reading SF rather than arguing with half-wits with half-lives.

        If the half-wits have short half-lives, you should try to avoid them. The fact that they’re glowing may be a clue. 🙂

      2. “orthodox Jews, for example, are effectively excluded from cons”

        I have personally see them at cons. Indeed, I have seen Jewish services at cons, and one I know for certain was a woman explaining when she would be able to perform certain tasks for the masquerade.

    6. “I believe that one of the reasons for the Worldcon crew’s obsession with identity is that they are busy promoting their friends. They read their friends’ work, they vote for it, and they really have a hard time understanding that most people don’t do the same.”

      Very much so. I’ve lost track of the articles on SFF sites where they have six different authors, and A recommends B who likes C who loves D who praises E who adores F who worships A. And all of them have only been writing since 2003 or so…

      No wonder people think the history of our genre is being erased.

      1. Please – things are bad enough without fighting off envisionment of the Worldcon Daisy Chain.

      2. It’s not that they’re inexperienced science-fiction writers that bothers me. It’s that they aren’t familiar with the great stories of the genre, they don’t want to read them, they feel superior for not reading them, and every now and then they re-invent one of the wheels the greats invented, only not as smoothly-carved, and jump up and down crowing abut their great original discovery. And expect respect for this behavior.

        1. Yes, exactly. “Literary” has come to mean “well versed in Marxist tropes and willing to echo them.” It used to mean “well versed in YOUR cultural memes and knowing how to deploy them.”

    7. Slither, welcome.
      Most of us Huns & Hoydens are friendly types. (Though I’m not so sure about them folks on *that* side of the room.)

      Mind the cats, don’t feed the dragon after midnight and never, ever, answer “Yes”, without getting details! 😛

        1. Well, sure. That too. Hateful WrongFan’s having WrongFun can still be friendly. “Here, let me show you my 105mm CarpCannon™. Look here, in this long tube, while I tug this lanyard…” 😀

            1. Sing along, now:

              Sad Puppies, Sad Puppies, riding through wrong fen.
              Sad Puppies, Sad Puppies, uniting all free fen.
              Despising what is bad, lovers of what’s good.
              Sad Puppies, Sad Puppies, Sad Puppies.

      1. Y’know, that’s about the only “bad” thing I’ve ever heard about Baen: that some of their cover art is truly terrible (and, truthfully, some of it is–there’s a reason Bujold hates many of the Miles Vorkosigan book covers)

        1. Well, I’d put the Baen covers about on par with the rest. (Of course, that is bad performance for Baen’s normal standards.)

          As one who painfully recalls the “LSD School” of cover artists, though – they’re all good…

          1. “As one who painfully recalls the “LSD School” of cover artists”

            Don’t remind me of that junk. [Frown]

  9. Both precise and accurate. I am a woman of discrimination, yes. Because I want good stories, regardless of who is writing them, and regardless of the demographics of the characters are that populate them, assuming said stories are within my genre/taste spectrum. It’s that simple. I will read/watch good stories of interesting people doing interesting things. Everything else is just window dressing to help me keep the stories straight.

    1. Exactly so!
      I am a very old decrepit fart, so I still remember when being a person of distinction was a good thing. It meant you had the knowledge and experience to examine elements within your area of expertise and pass value judgements that had some validity.
      Every review of anything is an act of discrimination in that it assigns a relative value to the subject in question. The crux of Christopher’s whole point is over what criteria are being used to discriminate. I look for reviewers who focus on quality of writing and have proven tastes similar to my own. The SJW crowd want someone to verify that all the PC boxes pertaining to both subject matter and provenance of the author are properly checked.

      1. Sorry, swap distinction with discrimination. It’s these old fingers I tell you, that and not sufficient caffeine yet today.

  10. You hit the ball out of the park.

    British author and wit, Dr. Theodore Dalrymple, agrees. I have a copy of his tome “In Praise of Prejudice, The Necessity of Preconceived Ideas. Worth your time.

    Dr. Dalrymple’s articles & posts appear frequently in journals & also re-appear on the internet. I receive his new articles in my in box about twice a week.

    1. Hmmm. “Wit.” Is he actually a satirist? If so, durn it, it went right over my dense head.

      I have slapped him so many times over on PJM…

  11. In the case of hiring people, I consider it a mistake to make “discrimination” for any reason illegal. It is a violation of the right to free association, and it creates resentment in people who are true racists and bigots, puts doubt in the minds of coworkers (was that person hired for accomplishment, or promise, or merely for melanin?), and puts people in a precarious position when someone gets it in their head that they were discriminated against.

    Indeed, for the latter point, I have heard stories of people sued for discrimination because they have turned down a black woman because they didn’t have an open position that day (never mind that the factory employed 97% minority) and sued for not representing their geographical radius (ignoring the river that runs through that radius, where the minorities live on the other side of that river, which means they live several miles away, for all practical purposes).

    The problem with Jim Crow laws is that they *required* discrimination. If zoning laws and business licensing were also in effect (and I suspect they were, at least from around the turn of the century), then good luck getting permission from Government to open a business that caters to black people, or even to everyone….

    1. There is a reason that racial discrimination has always been enshrined in law. The market punishes it and will eventually drive out bigots, especially as technology advances.

      The anti-discrimination measures are why nearly every Republican who voted against the Civil Rights Act did so. The Democrats who voted against it were the ones too dumb to see that they were setting up a new nation-wide plantation system.

      1. ” The Democrats who voted against it were the ones too dumb to see that they were planned on setting up a new nation-wide plantation system.”

        FTFY. See LBJ.

    2. Every time you make a choice picking one thing over the other you are practicing discrimination. The question is, what are your criteria? What set of relative values have you assigned to the elements of your selection group?

  12. Speaking of pseudonyms and identity, it might be fun to come up with a list of books, purportedly written by The Right Kind of People and praised to the heavens, that turned out to be written by the Wrong Kind. For example, The Education of Little Tree and I, Rigoberta Menchu. Or even the romance books written by *shudder* MEN. If the whole point of optical diversity is that only members of a group can articulate what it is like to be that group, none of that should be possible. Me, I like as many different data points as possible. Sometimes an outsider’s perspective is needed for clarity–being in the middle of the forest can block your view.

    1. To be fair, I don’t think romance novel fans really care whether or not the romance novelist is a man, or a man and wife team. As long as the right tropes are there, they are happy; and honestly, I think the “romantic-sounding” female pen name is largely viewed as a trope. Men writing romance under their own names are usually published as Fiction by the traditional publishers. (Although I remember when Fabio was the author name on a lot of romances, which made sense because as a cover model, he was a romance-genre community member.)

    2. I seem to remember that when Rowling wrote in mystery her pen name got out and just increased sales. Being woman really hurt

  13. “Is discrimination ever a good thing?”

    HELL, YES!!! I discriminate every time I see a new book by an author on my instant buy list. And every time I don’t buy one by an author on my, “Not even on pain of death would I buy that author again,” list. I discriminate every time I pick up the Holy Bible instead of the Koran. I discriminate every time I pick up a hammer instead of a wrench. I discriminate every time I pickup my drink instead of the one belonging to the person at the next table. I discriminate every time I go into the restroom marked MEN instead of the one with the WOMEN sign on the door.

    Huh, I guess I really am a discriminatory sob.

    1. What, you don’t use a wrench to hammer in a screw?
      Why, I bet you’re the type who doesn’t reach for a sedative when a stimulant is called for, too!

        1. Lo, these many moons ago, when I was still in a position to worry about mid-term and final exams, I had friends who depended on No-Doz for cramming before an exam. I have no personal knowledge of this incident, but I was told that someone was seen in a drugstore a few days before exams, looking very tired and buying a box of Sleep-Eze. I can just imagine it: “Ugh. These don’t seem to be working … better take another.”

          1. BC powder and a Coke works better than NoDoz for staying awake. Well it did for me anyway. Just don’t do it if you have any heart problems. I learned that the hard way.

  14. I think that history proves that, in general, any time a person calls for “more diversity” in something, he (or she) is, in fact, hoping to use active recruitment of diversity in skin color, gender, or cultural background as a cover for Stalinist discrimination regarding opinion and viewpoint.

  15. There are times in which we actually demand discrimination. Triage is done at a medical center in the case of a disaster, the deliberate sorting of the incoming patients for the purpose of deciding in what order to treat them … and thereby maximize the positive outcomes for them all.

    Part of the problem is how our understanding of words reflects changes over time because of the dominant usage. At present society highlights the negative aspect of the verb discriminate.

    At Merriam-Webster Online it first provides the following first for a quick reference:

    : to unfairly treat a person or group of people differently from other people or groups

    : to notice and understand that one thing is different from another thing : to recognize a difference between things

    But the site then continues with what it calls a ‘Full Definition’:

    transitive verb
    1a : to mark or perceive the distinguishing or peculiar features of

    b : distinguish, differentiate < discriminate hundreds of colors >
    2: to distinguish by discerning or exposing differences; especially : to distinguish from another like object

    intransitive verb
    1a : to make a distinction < discriminate among historical sources >

    b : to use good judgment
    2: to make a difference in treatment or favor on a basis other than individual merit < discriminate in favor of your friends > < discriminate against a certain nationality >

    1. As I alluded to earlier, I can remember a time when being called a person of discriminating tastes was considered a high compliment.

  16. When SJW’s refer to “structural racism” they are borrowing a term that describes a form of literary criticism. Structuralism in literary criticism describes how the structure of a narrative works to make it a certain kind of story. The structure an author gives to a Western makes it a Western, not the actions of its characters (the characters do not write their dialog or script their actions, the author does). So when you have structural racism, everything is caused by the structure. The characters do not make choices.
    Black cops kill Black men because of structural racism. Blacks kill whites because of structural racism. Since the narrative — our written and unwritten social rules — were created by whites, whites are to blame for even the structural racism that makes them victims of racial violence.
    It is a useless way to look at the world unless you want to overturn existing conventions. If you want to do that, it allows you to condemn anything you don’t like because it is part of a narrative grounded on wickedness.
    The central lie of people who believe that structural racism adequately describes the narrative of Western society is that by some unknown mechanism (perhaps excessive self-righteousness?) they are able to somehow stand outside of the structural racism narrative.
    You aren’t.

      1. You are the expression of society. You are not self-actualizing. You do not act out of free will. You do not make decisions based on a rational basis, you make the decisions you were programmed to make.
        Literary theories have done a lot of damage. Marxism was supposed to explain the narrative that we can see in history without resorting to metaphysics, unless you consider the dialectic of history to be metaphysics. I believe Marx thought the dialectic of history was governed by materialism (e.g. economics), but his prose is too thick for me to be certain of that. At a certain point your eyes begin to glaze over.

        . . . the vindication of the objective world for man – for example, the realisation that sensuous consciousness is not an abstractly sensuous consciousness but a humanly sensuous consciousness, that religion, wealth, etc., are but the estranged world of human objectification, of man’s essential powers put to work and that they are therefore but the path to the true human world – this appropriation or the insight into this process appears in Hegel therefore in this form, that sense, religion, state power, etc., are spiritual entities; for only mind is the true essence of man, and the true form of mind is thinking mind, theological, speculative mind.

          1. I was attempting to describe the intellectual basis of the modern, statist, way of looking at humanity, not my own personal views. From their POV, no number of LGBT or Black friends or relations can demonstrate that you aren’t sexist, racist, etc. Only opposition to the structure of society (which is their position) can show that. To them, it makes perfect sense that a Black cop arresting a Black criminal is an expression of the structural racism of society, not the free will exercised by the cop or the criminal.

              1. Nah, your middle figures are rising due to the prompting of your own thoughts. [Wink]

                Your only mistake was thinking Terry believed that nonsense. I took it that he was “explaining” the nonsense of the SJW not accepting it as valid.

                Off Topic, one author won’t see a cent of my money after spewing forth the nonsense of “Freewill Doesn’t Really Exist But Humans Want To Imagine We Have Freewill”. [Frown]

                1. But he or she had no choice but to spew forth that nonsense!
                  I reread Dante’s Comedy after an absence of two decades. One of the things that I noticed this time around was that all the souls got where they are, Hell, Purgatory, or Paradise, as a result of exercise of free will. The souls in Hell suffer and hate being damned, but they never express regret for the actions that put them there. If they were capable of regretting their actions, I suppose they wouldn’t be in Hell.

                  1. So, if you had turned and smacked him in the chops, you would have borne no culpability because it was not an exercise of free will?

                    1. Yes – exercising free will means making actual decisions, which requires thought, which burns massive amounts of calories. Following instructions, talking points or a party line, OTOH, does not burn nearly so many calories, which is why so many of those who do not exercise free will that are fat heads.

                    2. Attempting to make a pun on that comment brought me to this notion: To steal and paraphrase from the younger crowd regarding exercising, we could ask the SJWs, “Do you even free will?”

            1. I was attempting to describe the intellectual basis of the modern, statist, way of looking at humanity, not my own personal views.

              Thinking like a prog?

              Sounds painful.

        1. Okay, I had something to say here, but it’s now run to almost 600 words and I’m wondering if I should submit it as a guest rant instead…

            1. See the dragon’s comment above. Terry is explaining SJW thinking, not endorsing it. We’ve had a few friendly fire incidents in the last week that way. *wry smile*

              1. Or maybe I really need to sleep. For some reason I was thinking of the Nielsen guy instead of Terry above. Feh.

        2. Okay, decided that polishing this for a post somewhere was more work than I wanted when I could be editing or recuperating, so here it goes.

          Warning: Lengthy Rant Incoming
          This is one of those issues where I rage at culture warriors who take a useful and beneficial thing, crank the dose beyond the lethal point, and start forcing it on everyone willy-nilly. Yes, we are all shaped and influenced by the environment and culture in which we live, often in ways we do not realize. They direct and constrain our actions. There are places and times when to do what you wish, however sincerely, would have consequences you’re unwilling to suffer. There are things you might like to do to which you have never been introduced, or which you have been taught are undesirable. There are things you cannot say, cannot think in certain places, certain languages, where the concept is impossible to the context. That is part of mortality, part of this human existence where we see through a glass but darkly. We need to recognize that influence, analyze our assumptions, establish ideals and compare our thoughts and actions to them to be certain that they measure up. We must beware our weaknesses and sins.


          But that is not all that we are. This idea that we are automatons, that we are incapable of anything but acting out the influences of our society and upbringing, is loathsome beyond words. It is a vile lie, and I consign it to the Abyss with the Devil who spawned it. We are weak; we are mistaken; we are prone to indulge the urges we share with wolves, jackdaws, and bonobos; we are influenced without noticing; but we are still free to choose. We have that spark of the Divine; we are things to act and not only things to be acted upon. The very fact that we can be aware of those hazards tells us that we are more than that. We can mold not only the world around us, but our very selves, part of our human birthright. We are free to choose.

          There are those who choose to simply follow those influences – social pressures, animal urges – and I hold them in contempt. There are those who have never been taught how to use that gift, or worse been taught that they do not have it, and them I ache for because they have in their hands the ability to make things better and they do not know it.

          Then there are those who think that they have this gift and lesser men do not: the Aristo, the Enlightened, the Revolutionary, the Apparat. Them I revile, I reject; I want nothing to do with their ilk. They think that only they are worthy and able to lead humanity; they think themselves better, that the great unwashed must have their enlightened guidance because ordinary people cannot or should not think for themselves. “There has never been a man like me.” To which we should reply like that fictional German: “There have always been men like you.” Every human being has the power to choose, and we cannot avoid it. Let us instead

          [R]emember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare.[…]There are no ordinary people.You have never talked to a mere mortal.CS Lewis

          As Our Beloved Hostess so often notes: in the end, we win, they lose. Let’s go ride the Human Wave.

          1. We are weak; we are mistaken; we are prone to indulge the urges we share with wolves, jackdaws, and bonobos; we are influenced without noticing; but we are still free to choose.

            For that matter, wolves, jackdaws and bonobos can demonstrate considerable free will, something anyone who has ever owned a smart dog will probably have noticed. If they can, why can’t we?

    1. (the characters do not write their dialog or script their actions, the author does)

      I know many, many authors who would argue with you about that.

      Our hostess, I believe, is one of them.

      1. When you’re in the writing zone, your characters write themselves, if you’ve fully imagined them in your head. In fact, my problem is usually keeping on-story, because my characters sometimes want to explore in all directions, which may be interesting directions (and I’ve sometimes come up with whole new stories from them) but aren’t germane to the story I’m trying to tell.

        1. eh, yeah, in the zone. But only then.

          “The other thing that I would say about writer’s block is that it can be very, very subjective. By which I mean, you can have one of those days when you sit down and every word is crap. It is awful. You cannot understand how or why you are writing, what gave you the illusion or delusion that you would every have anything to say that anybody would ever want to listen to. You’re not quite sure why you’re wasting your time. And if there is one thing you’re sure of, it’s that everything that is being written that day is rubbish. I would also note that on those days (especially if deadlines and things are involved) is that I keep writing. The following day, when I actually come to look at what has been written, I will usually look at what I did the day before, and think, ‘That’s not quite as bad as I remember. All I need to do is delete that line and move that sentence around and it’s fairly usable. It’s not that bad.’ What is really sad and nightmarish (and I should add, completely unfair, in every way. And I mean it — utterly, utterly, unfair!) is that two years later, or three years later, although you will remember very well, very clearly, that there was a point in this particular scene when you hit a horrible Writer’s Block from Hell, and you will also remember there was point in this particular scene where you were writing and the words dripped like magic diamonds from your fingers — as if the Gods were speaking through you and every sentence was a thing of beauty and magic and brilliance. You can remember just as clearly that there was a point in the story, in that same scene, when the characters had turned into pathetic cardboard cut-outs and nothing they said mattered at all. You remember this very, very clearly. The problem is you are now doing a reading and you cannot for the life of you remember which bits were the gifts of the Gods and dripped from your fingers like magical words and which bits were the nightmare things you just barely created and got down on paper somehow!! Which I consider most unfair. As a writer, you feel like one or the other should be better. I wouldn’t mind which. I’m not somebody who’s saying, ‘I really wish the stuff from the Gods was better.’ I wouldn’t mind which way it went. I would just like one of them to be better. Rather than when it’s a few years later, and you’re reading the scene out loud and you don’t know, and you cannot tell. It’s obviously all written by the same person and it all gets the same kind of reaction from an audience. No one leaps up to say, ‘Oh look, that paragraph was clearly written on an ‘off’ day.’

          “It is very unfair. I don’t think anybody who isn’t a writer would ever understand how quite unfair it is.”

          ― Neil Gaiman

  17. I just read “Among Us,” the 2012 Hugo and Nebula winner. The heroine is a SF/F reader writing in her diary so she lists every book she’s read. And get this – they’re all classic Sad Puppies-type books: mind-opening stories, well told. Moral: even the Characters in politically correct SF/F hate politically correct SF/F!

  18. Ah, yes, the Geek Social Fallacies at play.

    Let’s see,
    1. Ostracizers are Evil
    2. Friends Accept Me As I Am
    3. Friendship Before All
    4. Friendship is Transitive
    5. Friends Do Everything Together.

    Yep, this is a great post on #1.

    (For the rest of the list, see: http://plausiblydeniable.com/opinion/gsf.html It’s as valuable as resource as Larry Correia’s Internet Arguing Checklist for understanding Fandom.)

    1. Thankyouthankyouthankyou! I lost that bookmark years ago in a computer crash and couldn’t remember enough of it to exercise my google-fu.

  19. Ah, the affirmative action theory of literary merit.
    I don’t accept it. I could explain, at length, but I don’t really want to practice being snarky and sarcastic.

    1. The basic idea is that you, the individual reader of a text, bring to it a mess of neuroses, irrationality, poor reading habits, and perhaps physiological issues (age, sex, etc.) that affect your interpretation of it. Your very individuality makes you incapable of forming an objective response to the text.
      IMHO, this may give you some interesting insight on the study of literature, but it is disastrous when the critical technique is applied to human behavior.
      To misquote Trotsky, you may not be interested in structuralism, but structuralism is interested in you. Elements of the ruling class and would-be ruling class have attached themselves to structural social theory in order to explain why inequities still exist when institutionalized racism and sexism have been rolled back or eliminated.

        1. It is a typical case of determining a goal, then developing a justification for reaching it. Such post hoc ideoillogicalism is called that because sane people have to spit after saying such drivel.

        2. I decided long ago that a fool or a knave with a degree who could properly cite other knaves and fools was still a fool or a knave, and that I had better things to do with my life than spend it arguing with them.
          No, I don’t have much respect for critical racial theory applied to a contest for a literary award. Or to anything else.

          1. Literary criticism is one of the reasons I never pursued a bachelors in English. I love literature, reading, writing, discussing context and symbols and techniques and- but the utter dreck I had to slog through on the critical front was unbearable bushwa. The overview textbook I had for criticism (the one that explained the various schools of thought and critical approaches) was written by an expert in Marxist Critical Theory, so all of it went through his lens. *shudder* One of the few textbooks I actually got rid of.

    1. As long as you remember to clear the area behind your target so you don’t damage what you didn’t intend to damage. 😉

  20. Shades of Tom Lehrer (and thus outing myself as an old fart):

    “One of the many fine things one has to admit is the way that the Army has carried the American democratic ideal to its logical conclusion, in the sense that not only do they prohibit discrimination on the grounds of race, creed and colour, but also on the grounds of ability.”

    1. Doctor Demento would not have had a career without Lehrer!
      You have to know how the SJW’s think to find their weak spots. They demand censorship and deny that they are calling for censorship. They see no conflict between equality and freedom.
      They do not want a meritocratic society, since merit is subjective. They do not want an egalitarian society, since that would mean tolerating the ideas of others. What they want is an aristocracy, with themselves as the aristocrats, directing society’s resources (what Marx called “owning the means of production”).

      1. Lehrer and Weird Al Yankovic, those are the Dr. Demento touchstones for me.

        The thing about the SJ mindset is that it always casts its actions in the light of v the underdog striking back. It’s not censoring your opponent, it’s shutting him up because it’s *your* turn to speak. They see no conflict between freedom and equality because you can’t be truly free if someone else is better off than you. And it’s not aristocracy, it’s responsible redistribution by those most morally entitled to make that judgement, which means the people who suffered most under the old c status quo.

        Aaron Clarey of the Captain Capitalism blog wrote a post recently saying that all leftist thought ultimately boiled down to, “Give us money because we deserve it.” I don’t think he was wholly wrong, but he didn’t cover everything — I think an equally strong driving impulse is, “Shut up and sit down, it’s *our* turn now.” Which is less about money and more about, for lack of better words, moral authority — the desire to be the people who set society’s mores and shape its tastes. People are not wholly rational economic actors, and too many economists of both right and left thought forget this.

        1. Money and Moral Authority are both tokens of the same underlying asset: Power.

          What they are saying is: “you’ve had Power and abused it, so now it is our turn, to try and repair some of the damage you’ve done.” Thus even when they wield significant Power they cannot recognise it, because in their own eyes their Power is lesser, they representing victims.

          1. Someone in the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration famously said, justifying the New Deal, “why should the Russians have all the fun remaking society?”. /puke

  21. I know it’s a hypothetical, but why is a ladies changing room supervisor necessary in the first place?
    Kinda creepy if you ask me.

    1. A ladies changing room supervisor is necessary to ensure somebody is handy to hold the ladies’ hair back while they puke.

      Geeze, woulda thought that obvious. Whatted ya think she did, keep skeleton keys for their chastity belts?

      1. she’s also on hand to make sure that there enough toilet paper and also someone to clean messes up so that air doesn’t become foul.

          1. That must be one a them yankee changin’ rooms.

            Heah in the South she’s supplies reloads for your shotgun. Why else does y’all think our belles wear hoop skirts? Faith, y’all wouldn’t believe what all can be stashed under one a them!

            Shucks, ah reckoon y’all ain’t never had an up close look at the edges of our little ol’ fans, neither?

        1. Air become foul? In a ladies loo?

          I don’t think so.

          Why, I’m told that Huma reports that after lady Hillary has been in there the scent of roses lingers in the room.

  22. William Kats at Urgent Agenda takes note:

    OH, THIS LOOKS JUICY – From townhall.com: Late last week rumors started swirling about an undercover investigation of Hillary Clinton’s campaign being conducted by James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas, an organization responsible for holding a number of government officials accountable for bad behavior. The Clinton camp was put on high alert, told to look for suspicious behavior and to be aware they may be under video surveillance. We now know the rumors are true. O’Keefe has confirmed Project Veritas journalists have in fact conducted an undercover video investigation into Clinton’s campaign and have plenty of footage to share. The first video shows a paid campaign staffer telling a volunteer that they only want to register voters who will vote for Hillary, a Democrat, when the law requires voters be able to register regardless of their political affiliation or support for a certain candidate.

    Those are just some heavily edited videos trying to make Hillary look bad. Pay no attention to that right-wing extremist conspiracy that has been out to get Hillary ever since second grade!

    1. Also, as i have been reminding people:

      Since President Obama took office, 85 of 98 state legislative bodies got more Republican
      … the Democrats, after a few bad election cycles, have a very small political “bench” — meaning that there aren’t as many politically talented and successful candidates on the left as there might otherwise be.

      Our Dan Balz made this point in the wake of last November’s crushing Democratic defeat. Balz noted the scattered Democratic talent on Capitol Hill — and then looked west. “The more serious problem for Democrats,” he wrote, “is the drubbing they’ve taken in the states, the breeding ground for future national talent and for policy experimentation.”

      Balz pointed to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures, showing that Republicans had unified control — both chambers of the legislature and the governorship — in nearly half of the 50 states.

      There’s another way to look at that. The NCSL’s annual breakdown of the composition of each state’s Senate and House or Assembly goes back to 2009, when President Obama was inaugurated. Since then, the ratio of Republicans to Democrats has tilted to the right in nearly every Senate and nearly every legislature…

      …Overall, of the 98 state senates and houses/assemblies, the Republicans saw gains in 40 upper chambers and 45 lower ones. Meaning far fewer elected Democrats, and a smaller bench.

      We can quantify that, too. According to the NCSL data, there were 4,082 Democrats in state senates and state houses in 2009. In 2015, there were 3,163 — a decrease of 22.5 percent.

      That’s 900-plus fewer Democrats to move up the ladder.

      — — —

      The best time to strangle the rising Barack Obamas, Chuck Schumers and Bill DeBlasios is in their cribs; keep them out of state offices and you don’t have to worry about defeating them later on.

    2. Old news.

      Everyone has always known about baby bits being used in witchcraft.

      Why are you bring this up now?

      You are just on a political witch hunt.

      Grins, ducks and runs away.

  23. The best time to strangle [them] is in their cribs

    Right wing nut job endorses infanticide for political purposes! Violent, eliminationist rhetoric from one of those greedy, hook-nosed Jews bankers neocons! Hypocrites condemn Planned Parenthood but endorse murdering Democrat children!

    Okay, I need another shower now. *sigh*

  24. Typing this comment from the departure gate at Hill airport. Not a lot of normal white Americans here . . . possible chicoms all over the place .. trying to hold it together…

  25. Irrational discrimination is always wrong.

    No, it isn’t. I realize that I simultaneously spit upon both the Sacred Rational, Second Pillar of Science Fiction, and the Unchallengeable Assertion of Good Think in saying so, but truth demands that I speak.

    I’ll first deal with the Second Pillar, which demands that all within Science Fiction be rational. ‘Tis a stupid demand, one at extreme variance with both functional reality and our human nature. Oh, sure, Science Fiction exists in a cozy little materialist paradigm, one which asserts that at some point EVERYTHING has a rational explanation, and that through the application of rational thought, EVERYTHING can be answered and accomplished. Heck, it is Science Fiction. And yet, not everything has a rational explanation, certainly not yet.

    Let us embark upon a thought experiment, one that will challenge the assertion that irrational discrimination is always wrong. Imagine, if you will, that we meet at a convention. Perhaps it is comic convention, overrun with WrongFen, Gamers, and other such ne’er do wells, or perhaps one of the fustier gatherings of TrueFen, it matters not. While there, I introduce you to another individual, and inform you that he is a necrophiliac.

    What is your reaction? Your IMMEDIATE reaction on reading that? Before you try to rationalize your approach based on the unfounded (and, I will say again, erroneous) assertion that “irrational discrimination is always wrong.” Okay, now, marshal your substantial cognitive powers and knowledge and seek out explanations for why treating a necrophiliac shabbily, as your immediate reaction almost surely suggested, would be a good thing. Rationally, there’s plenty of reasons, but your IRRATIONAL self got there first, and in the interim, could easily save you some grief.

    There is nothing rational about love, which always discriminates. Surely love is not always wrong? And this leads us to the Unchallengeable Assertion of Good Think: “Discrimination is always wrong.”

    No, it isn’t. Discrimination is simply making a choice. There may well be evil, bad, or poor reasons for the choice, but there may also be good reasons. Free people make choices, those striving to strip away that freedom clang forth incessantly that making choices is wrong.

    Were it not for irrational discrimination, our species would be extinct.

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