Interview with Cathy Young — part 2

*So in March? April? Cathy young interviewed me about the Hugos, and I gave her my trademark long answers.  Her article is up now, but she’d graciously agreed to letting me post my original answers when it came out, so here it is (not a verification thing, she’s okay, even if she is a journalist.;)  I thought you might want to see it, is all.*

(4) Do you think Sad Puppies is also a backlash (and I don’t mean that in a negative sense) against the dominance of “social justice” activists in blog and social media discussions in the science fiction fandom, and the resulting intellectual climate?

I don’t think it’s so much a backlash as a great freeing from shackles. As I documented in my blog posts starting with “He Beats Me But He’s My Publisher” there was a great climate of fear in publishing. This is because the publishers had all the power, the writers’ none. I’ve seen friends fired for no reason any sane person could divine, and it was often a whispering campaign or being seen with the wrong person.

Social Justice infected that structure because the structure was rotten and ready for whisper campaigns and top-down dominance by a handful of people who held the reins not just of whether you’d be published, but whether you’d make it to the shelves or not. I.e. whether your career would be able to continue or flourish.

If you look at (particularly the women) the names allowed to flourish, they all proclaim themselves not just as people of the left, but people who take some pretty extremist positions on the left. Take K. Tempest Bradford who made a vow to read no white males for a year. Imagine that someone said “I will not read females of color for a year”. The backlash would be howlingly insane. But what she said? It was met with laudatory comments about reading “the other”.

The problem is that in this climate, you’re not reading the other. You’re reading people of various external characteristics or orientations, who all write from the same soft (or hard) left perspective.

I for one believe you should judge a book and whether it challenges you or not from the pov of what’s in the author’s mind not between his/her legs.

The problem I have with social justice is not that it’s insurgent, but that it’s reactionary and boring. I was taught this stuff in school and I’m over 50 years old. Granted, Portugal was a little “advanced” in that respect, but all the same.

So, the climate has been stifling because we all depended on this small number of like-thinking people in NYC. Now with the possibility of going indie (and I have friends published only indie making six figures) that restriction is gone. What you’re seeing is not a backlash, it’s the Berlin wall coming down.

I’ve before used the image of Lloyd Biggle Jr.’s great novel The Still Small Voice of Trumpets. In it artists formerly revered get banished and mutilated at the capricious command of a cruel king. In the end the hero finds a way to bring them back. The hero is not named Bezos. Strangely.

(5) Is there any merit to feminist critiques of how sci-fi/fantasy has traditionally portrayed women? Any thoughts on Kameron Hurley’s Hugo-winning “We Have Always Fought” essay?

Will I be penalized if I roll my eyes? There is this strange tendency among the Social Justice Warriors to behave as though they were fighting a “straw science fiction” that never existed. The truth is that, given the restrictions on women’s lives before being freed from some of our biological constraints by contraceptives, science fiction was one of the more accepting/enlightened fields ever for a woman to work in.

Consider the Hugo Award was instituted in 53, and that Marion Zimmer Bradley, with a distinctly female name was nominated in 63, (a year after I was born, btw.) You can say she didn’t win, but she was up against strong competition, i.e. The Man In The High Castle.

And 64 saw Andre Norton nominated, while in 1970 Ursula K. LeGuinn won.

But isn’t this proof of discrimination, you’ll say. Note all the years with no female nominee. The fact is that the field at its inception was incredibly… well, geeky. In the same way that engineering classes start over half female and end with a handful of geeks, very upset there aren’t any more girls (my younger son is going through this) the field started as a geek-mathematician-engineer fest. My husband loves Flatland, and apparently so did Heinlein. To me it’s a story without characters, a sort of Mathematical Wank.

I’m not saying some women aren’t capable of/interested in “mathematical wank.” My friend Kate Paulk is.

The fact is it took women who were interested to draw other women in, by degrees, kind of like fish learning to work on land. For a while there the emphasis was on “Science” fiction, which meant that you had a lot of socially gauche geeks, which means you had to have very strange women to first penetrate those circles. (Is a strange woman, but not that strange.)

By 1970 you had maybe one third of the writers as female.

This, btw, doesn’t mean women weren’t properly depicted in science fiction. Take in account that very few people but geek males were the heroes up through the fifties, and the women are actually amazingly depicted. There are female lensmen. More importantly, even when depicted as love interest or wife, the women are often the strongest character. I was reminded of this when reading again Way Station by Clifford Simak. One of the women is a deaf mute mountain girl, but she is the redeemer the universe has been waiting for. The other woman is literally a Pygmalion creation, a dream made real, and yet she is the one who sees clearly enough to end the unequal relationship with the hero, which he lacks the strength to break.

The much maligned Robert A. Heinlein had women spaceship captains, women engineers, women heroes.

If I have a complaint about golden age women it is that they tend to be glorified by golden age men. This is partly the geek effect. Most geeks I know adore women, and adore them even more if they take an interest in their pursuits. I recently – at fifty two, overweight, graying – found myself the hot babe at a space symposium because I have exactly the same interests as those men and am willing to work on the math at which I’m wretchedly bad. (Or good. I get theoretical math very easily, I’m just digit dyslexic and transpose digits in calculation, which is maddening.)

By the time I came into the field in the late nineties, most of the new writers’ were women. This is partly economic, because writing no longer pays enough for the primary income earner something that like it or hate it our society tends to assign to men.

I expect that will change as people can make a living from indie, but since the awards lag the actual achievement – i.e. people who are at the top of their game not beginners tend to get the awards – I’d expect a plethora of women winners for the next few years.

Kameron Hurley’s essay. I went and read it when you asked this question.

The essay is rather baffling. It’s sort of the same “fighting a past that never existed” combined with a strange belief in “narrative” which means the author must have imbibed a good deal of post-modernism.

She compares women being depicted in stories in relation to men to llamas being depicted as carnivorous. This is a bit insane, as llamas have never been carnivorous cannibals, but women have moved in relation to men (and men in relation to women) for millennia or, that is, forever. It is what we call “being the same species” and “obeying reproductive imperatives.”

She also seems to believe we should depict people as thousands of genders, which is when my head hit the keyboard (this is bad. I have a Y imprinted on my forehead, now.)

I view this type of thinking as a sort of cognitive disorder, that demands that every little widget be in a little can with the label perfectly matching the contents.

At the proliferation of “other” genders and sexual orientations, I made a mildly annoyed comment on facebook, (I think referring to “Searching” – as an orientation for adults.) I was told I was lucky I’d always known my “gender.” As it happens it made me cackle, because I’m one of those women who used to be called tomboys and of course underwent the usual doubts in adolescence. (Except for the fact Mr. Hormone came calling and I really like boys.) A lot of people still tend to identify me as lesbian, in interaction. However this doesn’t make me “Searching” or even “bi.” I am female and I like men. The end. Gender allows for infinite statistical variation within it, and each individual has a distressing tendency to be individual, a concept Hurley doesn’t seem to be able to fully comprehend. She wants a label, by gum. Many, many labels, so each individual can be a group, even if the group has one member.

In the same way her call for writing women completely divorced from men, and then this will happen baffles me, as I can not decide whether she’s calling for species extinction, or whether she thinks she can with story alone rewrite millions of years of evolutionary history.

It’s the sort of pseudo-feminist, pseudo-intellectual games that college professors adore, but which will never make any sense for real people in the real world.

As for women fighting: what kind of impoverished lore and history did she learn that she thinks she’s making a profound statement? From Judith in the Old Testament, through Bodicca, through the various warrior queens, including but not limited to Matilda and Elizabeth I, I fail to see the shocking part of this. History tends to mention only noble women fighting, but if you study a little closer, you find that women followed their husband’s to war and yes, had some role in the fighting even if it was capturing escaped enemy; women defended citadels while their men marched off, sometimes with notable valor. And women often became heroes though not often through the means of going off to battle. (Some, sure, but our upper body strength is a limiting factor for most. Genetics are what they are.) For instance one of my personal heroines, learned in grade school in Portugal was the Baker of Aljubarrota. I’m too lazy to google the official details (probably available, since she was a national heroine) but while her town was under siege by the Spaniards, (I think) she took the little remaining flour and kept bread baking continuously, while the wind blew the smell of warm bread to the enemy camp. Then she set up behind the bakery door in the outer wall, and as each enemy came in she killed him with the oven-shovel. Her assistants whisked the corpse out of sight, rinse and repeat. She is credited with killing hundreds of men and ending the siege.

Now, did the fact that she fought invalidate the fact that she was some man’s daughter and possibly even some man’s sister, some man’s wife and some man’s mother? Why should it? Why should women be one-dimensional?

The whole construction of the essay is puerile.

(6) Is “politically correct” dominance in SF/fantasy really as bad as you suggest? In a recent blogpost, you mentioned a time in the 1990s when every single novel on the fantasy shelf at B & N was in the “young female magic user with abusive father figure” mold. I have to say I found that rather surprising — what about Wheel of Time, A Song of Ice and Fire, Sword of Truth? IIRC, those were the big fantasy hits of the ’90s and none of them fit that pattern. Also, is “peaceful matriarchal utopia” fiction all that common? I know about Sheri Tepper’s books and the Holdfast Chronicles, but it hardly seems a huge wave. 

Okay, on the first one – I didn’t even view it as a politically correct thing, though let’s not forget the nineties was the time when a lot of the stores changed the History section to “Herstory.”

I am at a loss as to why people expect me to remember books I didn’t buy twenty years ago. However, some of the books I did buy with that pattern and enjoy despite that pattern were Mercedes Lackey’s fantasies that I want to say had bird names as titles. (I could be wrong. I haven’t re-read them in a long time, and everything is packed. See also how I’m still on pain pills. Much better, but they leave weird holes in my mind.) A lot of the McCaffrey’s also had the same pattern, though hers were science fiction (even if with a fantasy mouth-feel. Oh, and there was a reason for overbearing patriarchy in her roughly medieval world.) I want to say there was also a successful one by Elizabeth Moon, but I hesitate because I don’t remember clearly when books came out.

The point of that anecdote in the post, though, wasn’t what was being written or sold at the time. It was more what was available to me at the time, as the anecdote involved my walking away from the field for a time.

If this was in the mid-to late 90s, i.e. just before I gave up on Barnes and Noble and sf/f altogether, it is important to note that Barnes and Noble was stocking according to the decisions of the tri-state manager. This meant someone in Kansas decided what books I could find in Colorado Springs. These were usually (though at that time not always) the books pushed by the publisher because the tri-state manager was a business man not a reader. (And it was the beginning of what we see now happening to the chains. They could undermine mom and pop’s due to deep discounts on books, but their lack of variety eventually ate them alive.)

By that time my local Barnes and Noble had three shelves devoted to sf/f and the vast majority of these was taken up with media tie-ins, which I don’t read because being abnormal I don’t watch TV/movies. Half of the remaining one third, in those days when reprints still happened were either novels I wouldn’t read (See where my tastes aren’t normal. I MIGHT have read The Wheel of Time if I got desperate enough, but if the audience were all like me it wouldn’t have been a bestseller. I simply could never get into heroic fantasy. I’ll read it if nothing else is available, but I also read the back of shampoo bottles) novels I had read such as, if I’m not misremembering, Lackey, MacCaffrey and the excellent Wizard series by Simon Hawke. I was looking at novels I hadn’t read, which might have been 12 or so that had been stocked in that store. And they were all Lackey/MacCaffrey pale immitations.

This is not so much a “politically correct” thing, except in the sense that a certain group-think that all men were oppressive seemed to have set in among middle aged boomer women. At the time it got me raw because I bore easily. If one of them had had an abusive mother for a change, I’d probably have bought it.

How much of this was the restriction of NY publisher group think, I don’t know. I will note that when I first started writing I had a science fiction novel with a seriously broken, borderline psychopathic male hero. I could never sell it. I heard he was “hateful” and “evil.” HOWEVER when I wrote the main character of Darkship Thieves as a female with basically the same personality, not only didn’t I have issues selling it (granted to Baen) but until I came out of the political closet no reviewer had those problems with the character. This is personal experience, and of course it fits my own internal narrative, but it’s hard to avoid the suspicion the reason there were no evil mothers/sisters is because it shocked the sensibilities of the NY establishment and their attempt to establish a “narrative” of women as always good.

Speaking of which, in terms of peaceful female planets, you forgot Suzy McKee Charnas and Suzette Haden Algin. Heck, the trend is so relevant it has a wickipedia page, here:

It is also in TV tropes.

Enlightened Matriarchy – A more benevolent or enlightened rule than patriarchy. A form of non-sexual Author Appeal for certain feminist writers, especially second-wave feminists in the 1970s. On its way to being a Dead Horse Trope, at least for the more extreme versions, as well. .


And it is often the background (together with an imagined pre-historic matriarchy for which there is no evidence and plenty of contrary evidence) for books that aren’t about “women planets” such as the work of Anne Rice.

Frankly being asked to provide examples of both of these – and I’ve had comments demanding this on my blog out of the blue – was one of those indications that a strange twitter storm was going on where the other side had decided to treat my anecdotes about my experience of the field as social history and were demanding footnotes. It was also bizarre, as neither of these trends is secret (no, not even the one of abused-by-father magic users.) It was like being asked to prove that elephant bells were once a thing. Didn’t people wear miniskirts, instead?

And in case this libertarian writer needs to say so, I don’t want to silence either of these trends. It’s the fact that the opposite doesn’t exist, that there is no peaceful and beautiful planet of the men (well, maybe Ethan of Athos – tongue planted in cheek, though Bujold did not make it a hell hole, which is innovative) that is telling of political correctness in the field.

After all, men as well as women can be peaceful or war like. Or, to quote Kameron Hurley, “We have always fought.”

Now is this the writers, or the gatekeepers? I’d guess the gatekeepers, of which reviewers and awards are part.

(7) Getting back to Sad Puppies: I hate to bring up the Vox Day issue, and I know that he’s not part of Sad Puppies per se, but he is perceived as a SP ally (and he’s the publisher of some of the SP authors). Do you think having a perceived connection to Vox lends ammunition to those who want to depict Sad Puppies as a backlash against women, gays, and racial diversity in sci-fi? I’ve seen some of your posts on the subject and I know you’re strongly opposed to the idea that people should be “disavowed” for having the wrong political opinions. Are there any opinions that should be legitimately considered beyond the pale? (Not to Godwin this question, but pro-Nazi sentiment would be one obvious example; or, for instance, approval of slavery.) 

This is somewhat of a mis-reading of my position. I have no problems at all with people being disavowed for having stupid opinions. I have problems with their being kicked out of a professional association for having unpalatable opinions.

In other words, the organization’s goal is not to assure “correct thinking in science fiction” but to work with publishers on improving the writers’ lot. I know for a fact we had members who were jailed for murder, something much worse than thought crime. They weren’t forbidden from joining/kicked out for this crime, nor should they be.

If members of the organization had merely told Vox he was bad, evil and they were telling everyone he was a poopy head, that would be entirely in keeping. And if in pursuance of its function of improving the lot of SF writers, the organization had put out a memo saying “We strongly disagree with Vox’s stated opinions on—” Meh. I wouldn’t care. He is a grown man and says what he thinks, and he knows there will be consequences. Mind you, I’d like to see them say the same about misandrist speech, but that’s not within the abilities of the “elite” in our field at the moment.

Opinions beyond the pale? Absolutely. I consider a lot of them beyond the pale, and so do any number of people.

Forbidden, though? No.

Look, free speech needs no protection when it’s about loving puppies and butterflies. In the same way, say speech “empowering” women and slagging men doesn’t need protection in SF/F. It brings rewards in terms of the person being applauded for courage. I suspect in Imperial Rome speech talking about the awesome power of the Emperor didn’t need protection, either. It’s when you actually do speak truth (or lies, but dissidence, at any rate) to power that you need to be protected. A Roman saying the emperor was just a man who had bunions and bad skin would need protection (which he didn’t have, since free speech was not part of the Roman culture.)

For an example, I find it absolutely appalling there is (or was a few years ago) a group of writers known as “the young communists club” (all about ten years younger than I, but never mind.) Why would you knowingly proclaim allegiance to a system of belief that has caused 100 million deaths around the world? It appalled me more that this affiliation was lauded on various reviews.

Should it be forbidden? Oh, heck no. It’s appalling, as is Nazism or promoting slavery. However, if you forbid that speech, what will you forbid next? And also, isn’t it better for horrible speech to be out in the open where it can be refuted?

I’d argue that America where Mein Kampf isn’t illegal has fewer problems with Neo-Nazis than European countries where it is. (This is just a feeling, from talking to friends. I can’t provide statistics.)

More importantly when I was twelve and ranting about how this or that should be forbidden, my brother who is ten years older asked me “And who decides?” That was when I realized authorities that could forbid things were ALSO only human and therefore could decide things I didn’t agree with. I still haven’t solved this conundrum and therefore will stay on the side of having things – speech included – as free as possible.

On association with Vox: that is an association carefully implied and cultivated by the anti-sad puppy side in the Hugos. After all Entertainment Weekly, The Guardian and the New Republic, not to mention the repulsive Daily Kos all pounded that little drum.

Look, it’s predictable. After all, they can’t in any other way substantiate their racist/sexist/homophobic slurs. Larry Correia is technically and certainly culturally of Portuguese descent. Brad is in an interracial marriage, and even idiots have to laugh at the idea he chose to do this and having a mixed race daughter to disguise his deep racism. I often have gay protagonists (no idea why) and consequently about as many gay fans as Mercedes Lackey, a lot of whom write to me and become at least distance-friends. Half of our slate was female. Some of them were other races/orientations. They weren’t picked because of this, it just happened.

But the end result is that the only way they can justify their unhinged attacks is to tie us to Vox. Now, did Vox help with this by commissioning a similar logo to the Sad Puppies one? No. Did he help with this by copying part of our slate (not hard to do since Brad assembled it in public)? No.

I will even admit there was a sort of rapprochement, not this year but last year, in which he was nice to us because we defended him against SFWA (at least in his understanding.) He asked for review copies of my indie book, for ex, and gave it to followers of his to review. (I have no idea how that shook out, as by the time the reviews were done, I’d taken a look at his blog and decided this was something I didn’t want to be associated with.)

I have no idea if his positions are shock-jockey efforts or his real beliefs. I don’t want to know.

I don’t know what he means to do with the Hugos. I don’t want to know.

We have no more way of controlling him than the other side does. Arguably they unleashed him by kicking him out of SFWA.

My answer to cries of “if you don’t want to be tied to him, stop Vox” is “not my circus, not my monkeys.” I refuse to respond to “let’s you and him fight.” My answer to Vox and anti-Vox is “A plague on both your houses.”

Meanwhile the sane ones among us (well, sane for science fiction) will continue trying to save the Hugos and the image of written SF/F in the world at large.

Right now, for me at least, that passes to getting as many fans to get supporting memberships as possible, so that a wider opinion prevails.

And I’m looking forward to the Hugo nominee packets that will include Kevin J. Anderson, Jim Butcher and Liu Cixin. I’m getting better, and expect to put the health problems of the last few years behind me. I’m already concentrating better and longer, and have undertaken reading some half-forgotten classics, but will move to new stuff soon, and these books will be a great treat. I expect to be quite delightfully stumped as for who should get my vote.

397 responses to “Interview with Cathy Young — part 2

  1. c4c

  2. > eye roll

    Please be careful. At the eye-rolling levels required, you could easily sprain an eyeball.

    • I’d add that going too far with the eyeball rolling might lead to said eyeballs popping free and rolling into the street where it might frighten the horses.

      • Or the cats will bat it under the bed and it will emerge covered with dust-bunnies (again). Thus the saying “to give [thing/person] the hairy eyeball.”

    • I think Rowling based Mad-Eye Moody’s magical eye on Sarah’s eye rolls.

  3. > Marion

    In my grandparents’ generation it wasn’t a particularly unusual male name. It was probably something like “Cody”, “Dallas”, “Robin”, or other gender-ambiguous names today.

    WWII history is a minor hobby of mine. Early on, I went “WTF? How many Allied officers were named ‘Evelyn’ anyway?!”

    I call it “name drift.” Unless it was a “Boy Named Sue” thing back then.

  4. “…a vow to read no white males for a year.”

    That reminds me of when I first heard of the Bechdel Test. An interesting idea, certainly, but then consider Dr. Strangelove has but one female character, and is a great (or at least very good) movie anyway.

    • Heck, if you took Apollo 13 and changed every person other than the crew to women it would still fail the Bechdel test because they are all working to get the crew home. It’s a valid idea for social stories but when the conflict is life and death it seems like it would require extraneous scenes just to make someone feel good…an to me that just does not trace reality

      • I don’t like the Bechdel Test because when you break it down strange things happen. It requires that you have two female together characters on screen for a good amount of time (a problem if there is a limited number of characters), those two characters must be important to the plot in some way (otherwise why have the scene in there to begin with?), if the plot involves other characters they will need to disregard it for a moment (would talking about a group of individuals, some of whom are men cause a fail state unless a certain group size threshold s passed?).

        It’s also too convenient a way to find problems in an otherwise solid piece of work.

        • I have actually seen people maintaining that throwing in a random scene with two women talking about embroidery can not harm a story.

          • …that hurts my brain. Isn’t a good story one where all the unnecessary bits are pruned out?

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              Depends on the definition of “un-necessary bits”. To some people having women discussing embroidery is *necessary*. [Evil Grin]

              Humm, let’s make the women assassins and in their off times, they discuss the proper way to use embroidery to kill somebody. [Big Evil Grin]

              Oh, in one of James H. Schmitz’s stories we met these two little old ladies that we find out are professional poisoners. They might discuss embroidery but they are also dangerous “grandmothers”. [Very Big Evil Grin]

              • Your example only works if the person that the women are trying to assassinate is also a woman.

              • Can we replace Jar Jar Binks scenes in Phantom Menace with scenes of embroidery?

                Would probably significantly improve the movie.

                • You know what really made that film for me? Avoiding ever seeing it.

                  I was done with the series after the Hokas Ewoks.

                • The Jar Jar character and basically the entire storyline of that movie is an extreme example of a storyteller managing their creative process by “they’ll like this” instead of “I like this.” If the storyteller’s stereotype of their audience happens to match reality, the former can work, but it runs the risk of the storyteller’s stereotype drifting over time, ending up with the the storyteller not knowing what will work and guessing wildly wrong.

              • I’ve done a story where the heroine’s sewing is crucial to the plot — “The Wolf and The Ward” for those interested — but that crucial to the plot is, well, crucial. (Now, happening to have the heroine sewing while discussion is going on is fine as local color and I do it a lot, but it doesn’t pass the test.)

            • I recall being told (probably in junior high English class) that an exciting story, such a horror movie, would give you a period of time to relax and not be frightened so you can recover.

              I suppose in a novel, it would be a way to keep an eye on the characters that aren’t in the main action at present; in the next novel of a series, assuming such, perhaps you would repeat the scene and there find out that the ladies are an empress and one of her admirals who both like to embroider as it gives them time to think of ways to avoid the traps their enemies have set for them and to dig pits convenient for said enemies to fall into.

            • Considering Peter F. Hamilton’s books sell fairly well, that might not be a good definition any more.

          • Gah. It is a tool that can create interesting perspectives when used properly but the way it gets applied is as sexist as hell and adding fluff scenes is a dangerous way to do it. It can be done well, or very badly.

            • It is a tool about as useful (and reliable) as the BMI.

            • Can someone type out what the Bechdel test actually requires. I thought I knew. But I always figured that “two women talking about something other than men” was that they were talking about something substantive instead of “do you think John likes me”. The opposite of a “fluff” scene. Sticking in a “fluff” scene would seem to violate the spirit of the test, even if the letter is followed.

              Now, I don’t believe that Faye and Delilah in Hard Magic ever talk about men at all. Not once.

          • Ouch. It amuses me some that the first Bechdel Test passing (and passing without doing silly things as mentioned above) movie I thought of was the relatively fluffy Wizard of Oz.

          • This may be true, but I’d also question if it’s really a big victory for feminism to have a scene about two women discussing embroidery.

          • Oh, Dear Lord. Is that what happened to Robert Jordan?

        • Going back to Apollo 13, a scene with the wives of the crew trying to keep each other going and put on a brave face for family and friends would not count, even if the wives are showing significant moral courage because it is due to what is happening to a male character. Just seems that it intends to make the male characters unimportant.

        • “It’s also too convenient a way to find problems in an otherwise solid piece of work.”

          This is the entire point of that thing.

        • Have they ever commented on ‘Gravity’ — All Sandra Bullock –all the time. Now, it nominally is Science Fiction.

          • I did some looking into it and it fails the test as written, though many of the people who care about the test are doing some logical gymnastics to explain how it passes the test (either as written or ‘in spirit’). The most interesting part is that there are those who think that it does not go far enough and that it should have had an all female cast because reasons that make sense to people who care about the genders of characters more than the characterization of characters.

          • How about a little thread thrift? I like that movie (not big fave and bit of a problem with Clooney who is not exactly my favorite actor, but it’s entertaining enough and very pretty to look at) but it has one infuriating characteristic: it’s a small side story to the big one. What happens when humans lose space? Or at least lots of the satellites, in this instance, and probably access to orbit, or at least safe access so unable to send new ones if not everywhere then at least to lots of areas. How will this be solved?

            Never mind whether it could happen in reality, in the movie the impression is that they have a fast moving debris cloud which is getting bigger each orbit and destroying everything that gets in its path and that the chain reaction will presumably continue until at least some orbits do become completely unusable and unreachable. My impression was that this isn’t exactly a hard sf movie but nevertheless, continuing with that premise, yep, way more interesting than a couple of astronauts and what happens to them.

        • Cinemax had lots of movies with two women on screen for extended periods. They usually showed them after 10 o’clock.

        • Not really. Captain America: The First Avenger passes the Bechdal Test, believe it or not, in a rather interesting fashion. Peggy Carter has a brief conversation that’s basically an exchange of code phrases with the female proprietor of a shop. Steve’s present throughout, but says nothing. And the conversation never mentions him, or any other male. It’s also very, very short.

          Now I’m not saying that the writers were thinking about the Bechdel Test when they wrote the scene. But it does pass the test, which I find amusing.

          • Does it pass the test in a meaningful manner, or is it rationalization by the test’s advocates?

            • More a case of they would declare it irrelevant because she was only there because of the Super Soldier project therefore the only reason for the discussion was a man.

              My question is if two women in a move discuss John Scalzi does it past the test? What about Caitlyn Jenner?

            • I doubt the test’s advocates even noticed. It’s something that I realized on my own while in a conversation with a friend. And as for whether it does so in a meaningful manner… as I noted, it’s an exchange of code phrases.

              In any case, it’s not a movie that I would use as anything feminist-related. It’s a period piece super hero movie set largely on the battlefields of World War 2. The historical war roles for women in that era was USO girls, secretaries, and nurses. And the movie largely abides by that. To do otherwise would be to threaten disbelief (in ways that don’t involve super soldiers, and super weapons). There’s one exception, but it’s made very clear early on that she’s an exception, with an unusual background that we’re never made privy to. The male characters dominate the movie, as they ought to. And there are only a handful of scenes with more than one woman on-screen (most of which are USO showgirls performing on-stage).

    • I remember the first time I heard of the Bechdel Test. The people were so annoying, discussing it, that I went back to an outline I was working on and decreed that the next character my POV character met would be male instead of the female I was vaguely thinking of.

      Worked marvels. Story clicked and outline was soon done.

    • The Bechdel Test is potentially an interesting commentary on the state of the arts and society as a whole, but is an utterly stupid way of judging an individual work. When someone tries to apply it strictly, it becomes even more stupid, because essentially it means that a work is appropriately feminist if and only if it’s about women sitting around discussing their nail polish.

      I remember in a thread about the Bechdel test asking if two women having a conversation about politics would qualify, given that it’s tough to discuss the current state of American politics without bringing up at least one of Barack Obama, John Boehner, Mitch McConnel, Donald Trump, or Bernie Sanders. I was told that no it wouldn’t–a conversation about the president and his decisions was still a conversation about a man. The same would presumably apply to sports, business, science, literature, etc. Nail polish is virtually all that’s left.

      • Didn’t Debbie Does Dallas and Car Wash pass the Bechdel test?

      • What about a couple of men sitting around discussing Carly Fiorina?

        • Or the even more effeminate Barak Obama?

          • Pass, thanks. I try not to think about him. (Fiorina… well, let’s just say she gives me those Thatcheresque “climb the rope in gym class” kind of tingles.)

            Frankly, all I want is to go back to a time when the president wasn’t on the TV every single day. That would be about 1995. (Then I’d sell everything I owned, buy Apple stock, and be a rich man by now.)

            • Yeah, in 1995 you could buy just about anything related to tech, sell it in June 2000, buy Amazon and Apple in 2001, and so on.

              I wonder of the SEC has trading filters that look for overly-lucky time traveler type trading patterns?

              • Shhh. Don’t type that so loud. You’ll just give them ideas!

                • Nah – All someone with a chat session with the future would have to do is open several accounts across the various online brokerages, possibly including a couple layers of LLCs, corporations and trusts scattered behind them to insulate the trades from pattern analysis. Kinda like frequency hopping or spread spectrum radio – hard to intercept enough to tell there’s any signal there.

                  It would really be interesting, though, to build that sort of “safely in/safely out/crazy profit/inordinately good timing” analysis and throw it at the trading records. The SEC basically already does that looking for insider trading – I wonder how many analysis flags for possible insider trading never find any possible insider connection and get dropped? Now that’s a file I’d send over to Mulder & Sculley to check out were I in charge of such things.

              • Actually, the real secret to making money from time travel isn’t the stock market. I’m convinced The Onion is run by time travelers who move 10 years in the future, find the wackiest stories they can, and bring them back to publish.

                If this isn’t true why does “Best of the Web” at the WSJ Online regularly have a “live resembles The Onion” feature built around today’s headlines echoing The Onion several years ago?

                • Go rewatch the old animated series ‘Daria’ for the commentary on episodes of ‘Sick Sad World!’ that’s the in-series hyper-extreme version of reality shows… except Daria was in 1998 and what was considered hyper-extreme ludicrous is ho-hum been-done now.

      • Exactly: when applied to a whole bookshelf, the fraction of books that “pass” is indicative of something—the something is not well defined, nor is the test really a great measure, but it does point to a general issue.

        As used—and note I’m not saying “as generally used” but am referring to Alison Bechdel’s original comic strip—as used it purports to be a measure of an individual work, a task for which the test is wholly unsuited.

        • It’s also very culturally specific. Looking over my anime collection, the work that comes closest to failing the Bechdel test is the Shoujo romantic comedy (Shoujo: Anime/manga aimed at girls, or anime/manga containing abundant themes and content that would appeal to girls. In this case, it’s a self-parody of its own genre with a fair amount of crossover appeal.) The work that comes closest to failing the reverse-Bechdel test (only conversation between two men is an insignificant one between two unnamed NPCs) is about tanks.

      • They’d have to talk about Hillary, or Debbie Wasserman Schultz, or Lizzie Warren, or Nancy Pelosi, or Barbara Boxer,or (GASP) Carly or SARAH PALIN.

        • Carly and Sarah aren’t women; they’re female impersonators (no, that line was specifically used to describe Sarah Palin…then again they’d probably use it to describe our Hostess, Kate, and probably even Cedar at this point).

      • The scene below, as I understand it, passes the Bechdel Test. The women in it are accomplished scientists, and this scene should serve as a template for how women can be positively portrayed in popular media.

    • I don’t see the problem with the Bechdel Test…give the little dears their embroidery scene then we can get back to the things adults are interested in.

      Sometimes you just have to indulge children.

    • I think a lot of SJW’s are taking the Beckel test instead, i.e., get drunk/stoned off your a**, show said a** in public and feel mistreated when folks complain.

    • Whenever the Bechdel Test comes up, I always like to reiterate what I consider a critical aspect about its origin: it was first publicly used by a lesbian character in a comic strip whose cast was wholly lesbian (Dykes to Watch Out For), and was I believe invented by a woman of like preference (Alison Bechdel has stated that she herself didn’t invent it, but I can’t remember who she credited with it other than that basic datum). So it was a great deal easier for her characters to pass that test in her own strip without suddenly appearing unrealistic, because unlike straight women, the Bechdel Test doesn’t keep lesbian characters from talking about their intimate personal relationships in the way the vast majority of women (in my experience) quite like to, whatever their orientation.

      I personally have a slightly stricter standard for the test: I only apply it to works that have more than one named female character to begin with, and only consider a work to fail if those characters’ only interactions or discussions are about male characters with whom one or the other character is, was or wants to be in a romantic relationship. This way sisters talking about their father can pass, as can a female detective and M.E. discussing a male serial killer, two female employees complaining about a male boss, or a female CO and XO discussing whether to promote a male subordinate or not.

      • If you insist on applying such tests logically and consistently with their limitations you will never get anywhere in this world. You neglect that the whole purpose of applying such tests is to justify harpies screeching with rage.

        • “Stay off the special tile or get hit” isn’t nearly as fun a game if the target knows which tile is special.

          • iow a rationale for hitting someone whenever you feel like while appearing blameless and simultaneously messing with their heads. These parasites are worthless scum..

        • Well, true, and maybe so. Still, just because a bunch of rioters are currently using their hammers to smash windows doesn’t mean I can’t wistfully ruminate about how the hammer might be used productively, to build things, when used carefully.

          • ” Still, just because a bunch of rioters are currently using their hammers to smash windows doesn’t mean I can’t wistfully ruminate about how the hammer might be used productively, to smash rioters heads.”

            There, I fixed it for you.

            • N.B. — your average carpenter’s hammer is a poor choice for smashing heads (rioters or otherwise.) The head is too small, concentrating force and risks breaking through the skull and getting trapped there. For general head smashing try to select a hammer with appropriately surface area and of a weight compatible with your wrist.

              Depicted here is a fine example of a suitable hammer, one with both broad striking surface and sufficient weight to ensure repeated strikes are not necessary. The handle length facilitates use in areas with limited space for swinging and its comfortable circumference helps avoid hand and wrist fatigue.

              Hammers belonging to Norse deities are recommended for use only by worthy people.

      • That is too much like logic for that crew.

        But I agree

      • Lesbians talking about women is identical to straight women talking about men.

    • Although I do like a lot of Bechdel’s work, the “Bechdel Test” was originally just a one-off joke in a comic, and really should have stayed that.

      There’s the obvious problems: are lesbian romances wonderful while gay romance films uniformly awful? And besides, the difficulty with the test is really because people only remember the main plot lines. Does “When Harry Met Sally” pass the test? Probably it does because Sally probably buys something from a saleswoman, or something, but who really recalls, and who really cares?

      To me, the main problem is that the whole test is underpants gnome logic (see footnote). Say every movie was forced to have a scene where the lead woman chats with a waitress, or some such. What then? What glorious changes will occur? Now, think about what would happen if every SJW who blathered on about the test instead would volunteer at an elementary school enrichment program — THAT would actually make a difference, so of course they aren’t interested.

      Footnote: The underpants gnomes are from a South Park episode. The gnomes have a three part plan:
      1) Steal underpants.
      2) ???
      3) Profit!
      So far they are really good at step 1.

  5. Here was what bugged me about that whole “no straight white males for a year thing.” If, say, Neal Gaiman had issued the challenge to do so, that would have been identitarianism of the worst sort, but in fairness, he would have at least been reading people who were some sort of “other” to him.
    K. Tempest Bradford, on the other hand, by the rules of her own political group, decided not to read people who were her “other,” and was praised for it.
    To borrow from a Firefly villain, does that seem right to you?

    • It’s the call for crayon box diversity. Expand your horizons by reading the works of people who have superficial differences, but once you peel off the labels and ignore the colors, they’re indistinguishable.

    • She was pretty explicit about her reason for her “no straight white males” rule: reading stories by straight white males was exposing her to alternate perspectives and making her angry. If she read only people like her, she was less likely to ragequit the story.

      Now, I can’t blame Tempest in a Teacup for trying to find stories she agrees with; I don’t want to spend my entertainment dollars to be pissed off either. Moreover, she was reading short stories to try to improve her own writing, and I can imagine it’s hard to focus on the nuts and bolts of the craft when you’re so mad about the politics you can’t see straight.

      I can and do, however, blame Tempest for presenting her own biases and determination to stay in her own little bubble as some kind of mind-expanding win for diversity. And I can blame her for issuing this racist “challenge” to only read writers like her while trumpeting her own virtue for refusing to read perspectives she disagrees with.

      • Funny, if I refuse to read perspectives I disagree with, I’m 31 flavors of -ist and I’m browbeaten into reading those perspectives. Tempest, check your privilege.

      • And when you argued with people about it, that would never sink in. They would blather and blather and blather about getting out of your comfort zone no matter how often you pointed out that she was in pursuit of never having to leave it.

        • My question is, why do people who don’t even know what my comfort zone is tell me to get out of it? And if I were to explain to them what was encompassed by my comfort zone they’d mock me for it despite finding far worse interests admirable in individuals they agree with.

          • There’s an awful lot of mindreaders these days…

            • The Other Sean

              Well, we always knew the anti-Sad Puppies were a bunch of psycho’s.

            • They’re not very good at it then. If they were they wouldn’t be telling me what to read or how to expand my horizons, they’d be begging me to stop.

              • They are as good at reading minds as they are at reading the plain text on a page set in front of them. Look at their denunciations of Heinlein, for gawrshsake.

          • They don’t need to know what your comfort zone is to tell you to get out of it. They simply don’t want you comfortable; it makes them uncomfortable.

            Mocking you is their goal; they would do it whether your zebra was white with black stripes or black with white stripes. It is the only way they can feed their perverse need to feel superior.

            • For those types, mock them back. HARD.

              For little miss tempest, my response would be “You’re stupid, fat, ugly, and I would not touch you with 0bama’s c8ck”

              When she calls you mean and bigoted, then tell her “I.DON’T.CARE. You are still stupid, fat, and ugly.”

          • Because it is the Approved Thing To Say.

          • For instance this week I’ve been re-reading Judge Dee Mysteries (actually since before the Chicom explosion, which is funny) because it’s comfort reading for me.

            • Judge Dee, of course, would be a ChiImp, if that had ever been a contraction 🙂

              Judge DeeDee would solve mysteries with the help of her brother, the brilliant alchemist DexTer, who has a really cool Laboratory …. 😀

          • Good question…I suspect, myself, that there are certain aspects of life where SJWs trumpet people need to get out of their comfort zone where the typical SJW couldn’t handle my comfort zone much less that of my friends.

      • Or as I have occasionally formulated this in my own scribblings: “If you claim the right to have no interest in protagonists who aren’t like you, on what grounds do you claim others have a duty to be interested in protagonists who are like you?”

    • Perhaps she had an advance list of the books TOR was going to publish? “How are we going to sell all of *these*?”

    • “K. Tempest Bradford, on the other hand, by the rules of her own political group, decided not to read people who were her “other,” and was praised for it.”

      There was sort of a “thing” there for a week where all sorts of different people were calling for not reading white male authors or some variation so I don’t know who what follows was in response to, anyhow… I happened upon a conversation where Mike Williamson was being his usual mild mannered and nurturing self… I pointed out to one person who was extra hot about how important it was to read “the other” that this was a wonderful idea but to *her* the “other” was none other than Michael Z Williamson. Not just personally, but thematically. I suggested that if she actually valued reading outside of her own comfort zone, that this was where to find books entirely outside of her comfort zone. She responded something to the tune of “I will *never* read a book he’s written” and I said… you shouldn’t have to. No one should have to read what they aren’t interested in reading. But if reading “the other” is somehow important he’s right over there…

      Because it was relatively clear that “reading the other” or “reading books outside of your comfort zone” actually meant “everyone should read my preferred authors and books, while I continue to read my preferred authors and books.”

      • The idea is you should be “reading books outside of your comfort zone” — because privilege. Reading books outside my comfort zone is micro-aggression and denying womyn their agency.

      • Reading outside of one’s comfort zone only applies to us apparently.

        The thing is, my comfort zone is: the story doesn’t suck.

        Why on God’s green Earth would I want to step out of that comfort zone?

  6. ===
    This, btw, doesn’t mean women weren’t properly depicted in science fiction. Take in account that very few people but geek males were the heroes up through the fifties, and the women are actually amazingly depicted. There are female lensmen. More importantly, even when depicted as love interest or wife, the women are often the strongest character.
    One of my early pulp loves was the old Buck Rogers comic strip. At its inception in 1927, the strip introduced Wilma Deering as Buck’s girlfriend. She was both a soldier and some kind of electronics whiz.

    • Even in the Buck Rogers serial there’s a sequence where a captured Wilma gets fed up with waiting for Buck to rescue her and shoots her own way out of Killer Kane’s prison.

      • And in the Glen Larson series she had to shoot him out of prison a few times, I think. Occasionally after having been captured by the completely and totally helpless Princess Ardala.

        • I’ll admit at the age I was at the time Princess Ardala was quality fan service.

          Then again, I never got into the blonde thing and even then thought space spandex wasn’t that attractive.

        • Yeah, but…I’d probably have to have someone come rescue me from prison if I’d been captured by Princess Ardala, too. I doubt I’d try very hard to escape…unless I was positive that Colonel Deering was waiting for me to return. That would probably guarantee an escape attempt. After a few days.

      • And doesn’t the first woman we meet in the print Starship Troopers rescue all of Raczack’s Roughnecks from certain doom with her hot piloting skills? OK, except Flores, but he was a goner and let’s face it, he thought it was funny to fart in the squad bay.

      • At LASFS, we have a member who screens episodes of Republic Serials before each meeting. In about half of the inevitable fight scenes, there will be a woman present. She’s never shrinking into the background and being helpless. Sometimes she’s the one who grabs something heavy and bashes the villain over the head, ending the fight.

        • I’m sorry, you’re making that up…feminists have reliably informed me such women didn’t exist until Ancillary Noun. Even Buffy had to be rescued by Giles or Xander every episode after all.

    • Telzy Amberdon and Trigger Argee and a whole bunch of Schmitz other fems kick ass – including the Karres witches which dates from late ’40s.

    • Edgar Rice Burroughs had strong women in his very first two and most iconic series. Who can beat Dejah Thoris for stubbornness or Jane Clayton for valor? It was almost a cliche of the pulps that heroes only fell for truly noble and brave women.

  7. Oh hey the first Simon Hawke Wizard book The Wizard of 4th Street is now available as an ebook.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      I purchased it and am waiting for the rest of them.

      (Even if I dislike his “mis-use” of two thousand years ago for “pre-history”).

      • Depends on the place, dunnit? In the Americas “pre-history” can be as recent as 700 years ago.

      • I can recommend the Wizard Books and Simon Hawke happily. Check out his Time Wars novels as well.

      • Actually Drak I just reread it last night and he doesn’t use 2000 years ago for prehistory. The last few surviving Mage Lords had it out 2000 years ago and one of them left but the main battles where much much longer ago.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          True, but I call it “prehistory” because the Mage War was never mentioned in our history.

          For it to have happened world-wide two thousand years ago, there would be mentions by the Romans and the Chinese.

          Thus the Mage War had to have happened before recorded history which would be more than two thousand years ago. [Smile]

          • Mentions by the Romans and Chinese? If it happened two thousand years ago, wouldn’t you expect it to be mentioned in the New Testament?

            • No. The focus was rather narrow, geographically and narratively

              • Not having read the books, I thought a Mage War that killed all but one Mage in the world would have been fairly widespread.

                • Wouldn’t that depend on how many mages there were to start with? I haven’t read the books, so I don’t know if that’s answered, but a “war” that leaves only one mage alive sounds awful…unless there were only three mages to start with. For example.

                  • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                    IIRC the Mages were the most powerful of the Old Ones.

                    Which was a human-link species of near-immortal magic users which basically controlled the world.

                    They were the origins of stories about the gods, vampires, powerful Faire Folk, etc.

                    Humans were, at best, domesticated animals to them (although there were examples of Old Ones fathering children on human women).

                    At worse, humans were a source of power to them. IE people killed to increase their magical powers.

                    One group of the Old Ones (called the White Council) decided that humans deserved better treatment while another group (later called the Dark Ones) was violently opposed to that idea.

                    After a long war between the “White Council” and the Dark Ones, most of the more powerful Old Ones had been killed.

                    The remains of the White Council imprisoned the remaining Dark Ones at the cost of their lives leaving only one of the White Council remaining alive.

                    Most of the remaining lesser Old Ones had to go into hiding or were killed due to humans hunting them down. These lesser Old Ones were not that powerful and were out-numbered by humans. Oh, I’m not sure if it’s mentioned but I suspect some of the lesser Old Ones were killed by humans who were children of Old Ones who had some magic.

                    Note, in the story Merlin is the son of the last of the White Council.

                • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                  I think Sarah was thinking the “history” in the New Testament was rather narrow, geographically and narratively.

                  Which is true but if the Mage War had place within the lifetimes of the writers of the New Testament, the Mage War (and the existence of god-like Mages) would have been mentioned.

                  Of course, imagine how the stories of Jesus healing the sick, walking on water, feeding a crowd using a boy’s lunch, etc would be taken by people who knew about the god-like Mages. IE is this Jesus one of *them*? [Grin]

                • The New Testament, BEARCAT! Gah.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard


          • Again you are missing it. There wasn’t a world wide war 2000 years ago. The world wide war happened thousands of years before that. The last clean up after it where they imprisoned the remaining dark ones was 2000 years ago. By that point the Mage Lord’s had long long been smashed and destroyed.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              Have to reread them because I was sure that the “War” was two thousand years ago. Also the “sealing off” of the Dark Ones was *at* the end of the War, not “thousands of years after the War”.

              But I’m still hoping to get the rest of the series. [Smile]

              [Off to check if the next is available & to reread the first one.]

          • More “parahistory” than prehistory then.

    • Alright…no more recommending books…I still haven’t even started my Good Reads Huns book (tonight, finally).

  8. ” the math at which I’m wretchedly bad. (Or good. I get theoretical math very easily, I’m just digit dyslexic and transpose digits in calculation, which is maddening.)”

    Were you by any chance a math major in college? That describes pretty much all of us: willing to go into long theoretic discussions on why there cannot be a general formula for solving degree 5 polynomials but completely helpless when told to calculate the tip on our lunch bill.

    • Speak for yourself 🙂

      My biggest confusion was the accent(1) of my numerical methods professor, Dr. Dragan Radulovic, whose accent should have a graced a Bond villain (I took to calling him “The Dragon”). For nearly half the semester I would misheard “numerical” as “American”. So he would say something along the lines of, “Now normally we would do X but since this is numerical mathematics we can’t and…” leaving going, “What the hell is wrong with American mathematics, buster.” I was not the only one.

      (1) I was known to argue at the time the quality of a US University mathematics department was directly proportional to the number of professors who spoke with a heavy accent.

      • the number of professors who spoke with a heavy accent.
        To this day, I can only think of linear algebra terms in a thick Italian accent (and you have not lived until you have heard an Italian try to pronounce “Wronskian”)

        • vronskeean, I’d guess. It took me four years in the US to stop saying Mark Tvain.

          • That is the reason so many Amurcans think you have a Russian accent! We are only familiar* with two linguistic groups who haven’t accepted exchange of the “vee” with the “wuh” pronunciation of “W” — Germans and Russians.

            Your pronunciation patterns lack other of the markers as German so our ears default to “Russian” or Eastern European accent.

            *Likely through exposure to movie villains using over the top accents.

          • Obligatory related accent joke:

            A tourist and his wife are vacationing in Hawaii, and arguing about how the state’s name is pronounced. The wife, tired of the argument, stops a passer-by and says, “Excuse me. My husband and I would like to know the proper pronunciation for your state’s name … is it Hawaii or Havaii?”

            “It’s Havaii.”

            “Thank you.”

            “You’re velcome.”

      • Once my classmates and I were used to Indian accents, they brought in a Polish professor. We were lost the whole semester.

        • I took an interesting engineering course once. The professor was from India and most of the students were Saudis, except for three Nigerians and myself.

          Even though the professor stayed with the textbook, there was always a lot of “What? What?” when he was giving out assignments…

          The funny thing was that the professor, the Nigerians, and I were all technically native English speakers, but we were the ones who had the worst time trying to understand each other.

          • My one graduate class in mathematics (at the University of Connecticut) I was convinced my admissions was affirmative action: I was from the US.

        • Rob – I had a Ukrainian stats teacher. She had a sub one day and we lost an entire lesson because of the sub’s accent (and lack of other communication and teaching skills, but anyway.) Our ears were tuned to “Slavic” and in comes “Cantonese.” Was für ein Quatsch.

          • We had a Math professor in Cooper. Brilliant lady: double PhDs in Math and Physics, fluent in Russian, French, & German, but her English “no so goot.” Since (as I told her) я не понимаю по-русскии, je ne parle pas français, & ich spreche kein Deutsch, this was a problem.

            • My 2nd semester German professor was from Texas.

              Made for interesting accents for a bunch of people just learning the language.

              • Texas German (German: Texasdeutsch) is a German language dialect spoken by descendants of German immigrants who settled in Texas in the mid-19th century. These “German Texans” founded the towns of New Braunfels, Fredericksburg, Boerne, Walburg, and Comfort in Texas Hill Country, and Schulenburg and Weimar to the east.

                Not even west among the cactus forested haunts of Old Shatterhand.

                Given access to a time machine I’d look for the lost manuscript to the Karres Ventures . The Witches of Karres was eventually a fix-up started in 1949 and nominated for Hugo in 1967 – 1966 publication as a fix-up.

                Looking at the ballot in 1967 not an obligation to slog through all the nominees but a pleasure to savor each of the nominees and a delight to read them all. With choices like these in 2016 there might be plenty of bickering but nobody could be honest and vote no award at the same time.

                Best Novel

                The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein [If Dec 1965,Jan,Feb,Mar,Apr 1966; Putnam, 1966]
                Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delany [Ace, 1966]
                Too Many Magicians by Randall Garrett [Analog Aug,Sep,Oct,Nov 1966]
                Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes [Harcourt, Brace & World, 1966]
                The Witches of Karres by James H. Schmitz [Chilton, 1966]
                Day of the Minotaur by Thomas Burnett Swann [Ace, 1966]

                • Texas German (German: Texasdeutsch) is a German language dialect spoken by descendants of German immigrants who settled in Texas in the mid-19th century. These “German Texans” founded the towns of New Braunfels, Fredericksburg, Boerne, Walburg, and Comfort in Texas Hill Country, and Schulenburg and Weimar to the east.

                  Hey, you forgot the ones who moved further west and north to Olfen, Rowena, Miles, Wall, and St. Lawrence.

              • Speaking of (with?) interesting accents, I thought it was funny as hell to hear Sean Connery speaking Japanese with a Scotch burr in the movie Rising Sun.

            • Free-range Oyster

              There was an American working in Brasil that I met a few times who spoke French and Spanish beautifully. He got Portugues grammar and vocab just fine, but *shakes head* he never, ever got the hang of the accent. His pronunciation would slide through his other three languages as his brain tried to match up an ‘existing’ accent to the sounds around him. When I heard him speaking here in the US (small world) it was strange to just hear the one accent. Seemed like something was missing.

              • I’m told that when I’m exhausted, I speak English with either German or French grammar. Since this is not an uncommon state for me, it happens now and again.

                I’m in a German clan in one of the games I play. I turned off the auto translate in order to understand what they’re saying. I find it’s easier for me to try think in English=>German, but once there was a new member who spoke French and oi, did my brain get scrambled.

      • A fellow I knew had an economics professor who confused him for some time as to why he was always talking about racehorses. Racehorses? Resources.

        • My American — from the South — American literature teacher reduced a classroom of advanced students of literature to silence when he told us he was going to start with poims. Absolute silence. Big eyes. “You don’t know what poims are?”
          Forty of us shake our heads. “How can you not know what poims are. That’s where all literature begins.” He goes to the blackboard and writes POEMS. We go “Oh, poems.” His turn to look bewildered. “That’s what I said. Poims.”

          • History professor, from, I swear, the Bronx. I learned all about the “oughts”. (Arts). Bugs Bunny wouldn’t have understood this guy’s accent.

          • Company I was working for sent me to their New Jersey office for training. I’m sitting in the class next to two employees from Philadelphia – literally on the other side of the river from where we were sitting. One of the presentations was from a lady that lived in New Jersey. So she’s going through her presentation telling us that we can choose A for one thing, S for another, or B for booth. One of the Philly boys next to me goes, “I don’t see booth on my screen.” She come over and points to his screen and says, “It’s right there, booth.” “Lady, I’m black and live 20 minutes from here on the other side of the river. Even I know that’s both, not booth.” “That’s what I said, booth.” I looked at him and told him he was right, she was saying booth, not both.

          • Say what you will about Southerners, but at least we don’t turn Worchester into ‘Wuh-ster’ like the Yankees do.

          • Yeah, we learned all about pacific heat in Thermo.

          • My mother was an English teacher (think “Proper English,” English, diction, pronunciation, the works). Us chilluns was taught our P’s And Q’s and M’s ans S’s.

            Aaaand, on the other hand, I was raised in the South, among Southron peoples, so… I ended up translating for my furrin’ fellow students at Little Mountain U. One, a roommate for a time, was from Bahston by way of New Yuck City, and had pretty much the same problem. “WTH is a ranch? I thought it was where, yanno, ya kept horses and cows?”

            “Ranch? How’d that go?”

            “Well, my girlfriend was fixing my car the other day and asked me to hand her that ‘ranch,’ and when I couldn’t, she laughed at me…”


            • The Other Sean

              I had a retail job in my late teens. One day a man came in and asked where the long ladders were. He had a weird accent that might have been southern, but not like most southerners I’d heard before. I directed him to the back corner, in the hardware section. He came back a couple minutes later and said he didn’t see any ladders there.

              I walked back with him and pointed out the ladders. I said I hoped he didn’t need anything larger than twelve feet, because that was the largest ladder we stocked. He was starting to get angry. “No, not a ladder to climb, a long ladder, you know, that makes flames, so I can light my grill.” After he said that, I finally caught on that he was looking for a long lighter, but for the life of me I could tell no difference between his “ladder” and “lighter” pronunciation.

              • Eventually, I suspect that accent will develop the sort of redundancy we see in other Southern dialects where people will refer specifically to an “ink pin” vs. a “stick pin”.
                (Mandarin has so many homophones that a word in the spoken language will be effectively two syllables — pairs of words that have similar or related meanings. “Friend” is “peng-you”, with both “peng” and “you” being words for “friend”, to distinguish between all the other “pengs” and “yous”.)
                I suspect the logical endpoint is the Librarian at the Unseen University whose every utterance is “ook”, and ambiguity is resolved by whether he’s offering you a place to sit or offering to tear your arms off.

            • When my girlfriend and I watched The Full Monty, I started out translating for her, but realized that it was better to turn on subtitles.

          • High school custodian: former Glasgow cop, recent immigrant; made Scotty sound like an Oxford don.
            Two black cleaning ladies, Southerners for generations.

            Somehow, the work got done…..

        • Mattresses.


          (The teacher was fantastic.)

          • The Other Sean

            In my first college math class we had a professor straight from China, who was assisted by an American grad student with a speech impediment. My next one was taught by an adjunct professor from Poland.

            Thankfully, the stats course was taught by an adjunct professor from Ohio.

      • I had milik during an econ class and beets (instead of bits) in an optimization class

      • I had one who was French, just in from 20 years in South Africa. Do not remember his name.

    • No, but I snagged my husband with math, so… 😉

  9. SF is become too concerned with the matters which don’t matter to people who read SF. It is as if I went into a vegetarian restaurant and ordered chicken — it ain’t on the menu and I had no reason to think it might be.

    SF, in reaction to a long-standing undeserved sense of cultural inferiority, has attempted to remake itself to be more like one of those chicken places and in the process alienated many of its core customers (any of whom who hankered for chicken already knowing where to get it elsewhere.) For SF, to become “respectable” would require giving up those characteristics which defined SF. Those demanding change claim those characteristics were “bad” and “reactionary” — proof they never loved SF in the first place, and proof they are more concerned with becoming “cool” than in exploring new ideas.

    Ta heck with them. I saw a group of people land a spaceship on a freakin’ comet and all they could see was a stupid shirt. They’ve no standing to lecture me.

    • It is as if I went into a vegetarian restaurant and ordered chicken — it ain’t on the menu and I had no reason to think it might be.

      Actually, this is the perfect example because it lets us see how people act. San Francisco, among other cities, has ordinances proposed or passed requiring restaurants to provide vegetarian and, in some cases, vegan dishes. When asked why people don’t go to restaurants you get some version of *stamped foot* and “I want to eat there”.

      However, these people would have a fit if their favorite vegan place was required, by law, to serve rare steak. Of course, steak eaters generally wouldn’t think of it and just go to a steak house.

      • > Vegan

        Whenever I hear that word I’m always tempted to ask, “What? We have starships now? Or did someone invent a stargate?”

        • Whenever I hear the word, I think of the Chevrolet.

          • I am so sorry.
            The Vega Pa had was what lead him to only purchase “foreign” cars for the next couple decades. When asked about this he once replied, “I stopped buying ‘American’ cars and I stopped having to work on cars.”

            • My grandfather was an auto mechanic in Munkács ca. 1930. The American cars had a reputation for driving really nicely, but being difficult (and expensive!) to repair when inevitably something broke. The Jewish mechanics’ nickname for Chevrolet cars was shever-lev: Hebrew for “heart-break”.

  10. Just off the top of my head I can recall at least three times when Heinlein made a transgender either a significant or the main character in one of his stories. The earliest of which he wrote in 1958.
    But being a white male and retired military he was obviously a misogynist conservative so none of his works need be counted or in any way acknowledged as being pro diversity.

  11. Glad to hear confirmation in the last part about how your health is improving, en passant. Hope it continues and God bless. 🙂

  12. BTW, just letting the OCD tendencies out for a little air, but why, oh why, did you use different nomenclature for these two related posts:

    Interview with Cathy Young, Part One
    Interview with Cathy Young — part 2

    Are you utterly insensitive to the anguish inflicted by you switching from a comma to a hyphen, changing the case on the “P” in part, and going from an alphabetic to a numeral enumeration?

    Just flaunting your [need word for non-OCD] privilege and taunting all of us inflicted with OCD, you was.

  13. Christopher M. Chupik

    “I know for a fact we had members who were jailed for murder, something much worse than thought crime.”

    Well, that is quite the Drama Bomb to casually drop in the interview. Will the Usual Suspects who skim your blog notice?

    • I only know from skimming the address list. Some of them went to jail. And sometimes you got emails in forums that made it clear what they were there for. Granted, we had a lot more in jail due to white collar crimes. (Yes, I know, racissss.)

  14. It is a fact, universally acknowledged, that a major part of anti-Puppy animus is driven by the desire of some* in the SF community to be associated with the “cool” kids.

    Their desire is, of course, self-defeating, as illustrated by this story, related by National Review’s Jay Nordlinger, citing a note from a friend:

    I remember how hard I tried as a schoolboy to be cool and what a complete failure I was. My attitude in this regard has changed now that I’m an elderly Baby Boomer.

    Recently the subject of cool came up in a meeting I had for all my employees, where somebody said it would be really cool if I said or did something. I responded with a long rant about cool and how it’s the last thing in the world I wanted to be and if something is cool, it’s because I have nothing to do with it.

    When I was done, I saw that most of my audience was grinning and chuckling, so I asked them what was so funny. One of my employees, a very young and very, very pretty girl, laughed and said I was a really cool guy to work for. I was shocked and asked if she was kidding me. She said no: Since I didn’t try at all to be cool or hip, I was cooler than anyone else in the company.

    I was speechless.

    The essence of “cool” is not caring whether you are considered cool. Trying to be cool is the antithesis of cool. Cool is accepting your internal values as legitimate and rejecting any need for external validation; it is being true to yourself and maintaining a certain distance from others because theirs are not the opinions that matter.

    Whether being “cool” or “hip” is an desirable trait is a subject for an other discussion.

    *Especially those portions who interact regularly with the general world as our “representatives”: publishers and editors who have to attend corporate meetings and stand up and introduce themselves as part of the SF ghetto. The editors for “literary” and other imprints undoubtedly boost their shriveled egos by talking down to the genre editors and publishers.

    • I also saw that post and thought of the anti-puppies.

      You and I have the same habit of bouncing back and forth between the Corner and Sarah’s place, don’t we? : – )

    • “The essence of “cool” is not caring whether you are considered cool. ”
      That, and knowing the chrome will NEVER go out of style. (viz. Pratchett)

    • Eh, the only cool worth being is cool as a cucumber, which is good in a crisis.

    • Apparently, at a certain level of age and accomplishment, the appraisal of “nerd” is replaced by “cool.” I was a touch dismayed to discover that I’ve become one of the cool teachers. *sigh* I guess I need to put the morning-star back on my desk.

    • The editors for “literary” and other imprints undoubtedly boost their shriveled egos by talking down to the genre editors and publishers.

      I am reliably informed (i.e. by successful authors and verified by personal experience) that many teachers of Creative Writing, whose principal experience in writing comes from writing literary criticism for their English Department professors, also talk down genre fiction to their students. Authors who have sent their work through the gauntlet of editors, publishers, and the marketplace tend to offer quite different advice.

      I know of one successful author who offered her services to a local university as an “author in residence”. His reply, that they only dealt with literary fiction and not with genre fiction, cured her of a case of writer’s block. She made the villain in her next murder mystery a professor of creative writing. “Never piss off a writer”.

      • It would seem that English Professors kick Creative Writing instructors, Creative Writing instructors kick grad students, grad students kick editors, editors kick genre editors, genre editors kick “literary” genre writers, “literary” genre writers kick commercially successful (aka, Sad Puppies) writers?

        Meanwhile, we fans of good writin’ kick back.

    • I got my first ever taste of that 2 years ago when I did a Tiger Cruise with #3 Marine son on the Boxer. His platoon , including the Sgts. told him they thought I was the coolest Dad aboard mainly because I did not give a shit how I looked when I was doing something, while another Dad was always trying to be cool and was universally despised by most of them.

      I remember days past when my kids were embarrassed by the same behavior from me.

  15. Heinlein’s TG novel was I Will Fear No Evil

  16. …she took the little remaining flour and kept bread baking continuously, while the wind blew the smell of warm bread to the enemy camp. Then she set up behind the bakery door in the outer wall, and as each enemy came in she killed him with the oven-shovel. Her assistants whisked the corpse out of sight, rinse and repeat. She is credited with killing hundreds of men and ending the siege.

    And so we have the plot of Stephen King’s story, “Kneadful Things”…

  17. Pingback: Sarah’s Interview with Cathy Young (Part 2) | The Liberty Zone

  18. I find it really cool how much the “Not my circus, not my monkeys” seems to have caught on outside of its original Polish.

    • I keep wanting to use it at work. The target that usually deserves it wouldn’t take it well, though.

      • My problem with using it at work is that I’ve been there so long, that it usually turns out to be my circus and my monkeys…

    • Howard Tayler seems to have helped it along, he even issued a challenge coin for it. (With both Polish and English on the coin)

      • Yeah, I even have that coin. What’s more amusing is that my non-Schlock non-SF reading father posted a picture referring to it awhile back on facebook. It’s reached the wider culture now.

  19. I’m not sure is this is the best place for this, but I made a Sad Puppies IV “Gendered Insult Bingo Card” for Kate Paulk, Sarah Hoyt, and Amanda S. Green and their fans to collect the inevitable stream of gendered insults from progressive, feminist, social justice bullies.

    It is on the web at my blog:

    Or you can skip my meanderings and go straight to DeviantArt:

    Enjoy. And I say that with a fair degree of very dark humor.