DUN MANIFESTIN — What Is Human Wave — a blast from the past post 3/2012

*I’m joining with Cedar and Amanda in talking about and  echoing the Human Wave Manifesto.  Mostly because I’m lazy but also because it’s Human Wave Day.  Or something. No Kings, No Queens, No Bleak Meaningless Stories, No hatred of humanity and no Enforced Conformity.  The radical egalitarians might not be organized, but by gum we’ll be loud.  Can you hear us now?*

DUN MANIFESTIN — What Is Human Wave — a blast from the past post 3/2012

This is a manifesto.  I’m not sure what we’re manifesting, but it’s probably destiny.  Or density.  When you’re dyslexic, it can get confusing.  But in any case we’re manifesting something and it’s a patent manifestation.

The proximate reason for this is my post – here.  Or in other words, it’s another fine mess my mouth got us into.  (Okay, my typing fingers.  If you’re going to be nitpicky, you’re right out of the club.)

The purpose of this is to create a new “idea” in science fiction, a new way to look at the genre.  Properly observed (and I’ve observed it) I think the genre should be a way to play with possible futures, with possible outcomes, with possible ideas.  The wonder of science fiction lays in the open possibility.

When we have the list of what we’re sort of aiming for, we can start getting people who “subscribe” to those ideas, or to most of them
Once we have the list of who you are and your websites, we shall send enforcers to your hom…  No, wait.  That’s another list.  Oh, I see.  That’s the list the trolls left behind.  Never mind.

Once we have that list, we can we can have some large, linked aggregate, so we can help each other, and get more attention to the whole idea.

We should also en-list some critics and reviewers.  I know some reviewers but not much about critics in their native habitat.  However, someone else might.

Because we are rebelling against enforced conformity of style and opinion, of belief and ideology, this list is not “though shalt nots” but “You’re allowed to.”  It is also, in the nature of my nature (Okay, who let the copyeditor in?  Rent his robes and throw him to outer darkness, where there shall be wailing and gnawing of blue pencils) to know that this job is not completed.  Heck, it’s not even really started.  There will be discussion of this list at both According To Hoyt and Mad Genius Club.  Come and be heard, and let the discussion begin.

You are allowed to write escapist science fiction – or fantasy.  Sometimes we just need a good read.  If it doesn’t have a big idea but is enjoyable, it’s still a worthy endeavor.

You are allowed to write as much as you wish.  In the new limitless market we see no reason to artificially restrict your output.  Anyone who thinks quality depends on how long something took to write has never known either professional writers or struggling middle-graders.

You are allowed to write first person.  You are also allowed to write second person, third person, and in persons yet to be invented.  As long as your work is entertaining, we hold you harmless in matters relating to verbal malfeasance.

If your world building holds internal consistency, at least according to the buying public, anyone objecting because it doesn’t conform to his or her idea of a future shall be pelted with soft boiled eggs and wear the yolk of shame.

Your objective is to sell books.  Writing is communication.  Your objective is to communicate with as many people as possible.  Or at least to amuse them, distract them, or make the burden of life less burdensome for a while.  Wishing to feed your family is also an acceptable goal.

You can write male heroes.  You can write female heroes.  You can write alien heroes.  You can write human heroes.  You can write western heroes.  You can write non-western heroes.  You can write squirrel-heroes (but you have to know you’re weird.)  You can write it in a boat, you can write it with a goat (but which end do you hold on the paper?) You can write it in a moat (but it will probably drip) and you can write it on a stoat.

You can have a happy ever after.  You can have a happy for a while.  You can have a fleeting happy.  It’s your happy and you can have it if you want to.

You can write action and plot oriented books.  (Who will stop you?  You’ve researched fighting techniques, right?)

You can write sex.  Or not.  It all depends what fits the plot.  You can even write sex with a robot.

You can write politics.  You can write them from the right, from the left, from the middle, the top, the bottom or everywhere at once.  Just remember to make them fit the plot.  And remember not to infodump.

So do we have no principles?  No guidelines?

Oh, it’s guidelines you want, then?  Well, I was manifesting.  But fine.  I’ll throw out a few simple rules:

1 – Your writing should be entertaining.  If you’re writing for the awards and the literary recognition, you’re hanging out with the wrong crowd. (Does the other crowd have a tiny raccoon in a kilt?  Or even a quilt?  Think!)

2 – Your writing shouldn’t leave anyone feeling like they should scrub with pumice  or commit suicide by swallowing stoats for the crime of being human, or like humans are a blight upon the Earth, or that the future is dark, dreary, evil and fraught with nastiness, because that’s all humans can do, and woe is us.

3 – Your writing should not leave anyone feeling ashamed of being: male, female, western, non-western, sickly, hale, powerful, powerless.  It should use characters as characters and not as broad groups that are then used to shame other groups.  Fiction is not agit prop.

4- Your writing shouldn’t be all about the message.  You can, of course, have a message.  But the message should not be the be-all end-all of the novel.  If it is, perhaps you should be writing pamphlets.

5 – You shall not commit grey goo.  Grey goo, in which characters of indeterminate moral status move in a landscape of indeterminate importance towards goals that will leave no one better or worse off is not entertaining.  (Unless it is to see how the book bounces off the far wall, and that has limited entertainment.  Also, I’m not flinging my kindle.)

6 – Unless absolutely necessary you will have a positive feeling to your story.  By this we don’t mean it will have a happy ending or that we expect pollyanish sentiments out of you.  Your novel and setting can be as dystopic as you want it.  In fact, your character can die at the end.  Just make sure he goes down fighting and dies for something, so the reader doesn’t feel cheated.

7 – You will write in language that can be understood.  You will have an idea of what your story is about, or at least of its beginning, middle and end.  And so will your reader, once he reads it.

8 – You are allowed to write scientific speculation that counters “currently established fact” – just give us a reason why that makes sense in your universe.  (For some universes it can be highly whimsical, for others you’ll need serious handwavium.)

9 – You will not be boring.  Or at least you’ll do your best not to be boring.

10 – You shall not spend your life explaining why your not-boring is better than your fellow writers not-boring.  Instead you will shut up and write.

Comments, suggestions, goats?  Stoats?  Oranges?  Peanuts?  Lightly thrown chickens?  (What? I find thrown chickens humorous.  No, I don’t know why.  Oh, please, I’m a writer.  Like I have the money for a psychiatrist.)

252 thoughts on “DUN MANIFESTIN — What Is Human Wave — a blast from the past post 3/2012

  1. “Blast from the Past”?


    This was obviously written last week and you’re just back-dating it to make your friend seem prescient.

    It’s either that or the CHORFs have been selling the same tripe forever and how likely is that?

  2. Re #5, a lot of people seem to like Dying Earth and it seems to fit the bill. Personally I don’t, but I think “is not entertaining” really is a matter of taste for this one.

    1. John Chrostopher in “The Death of Grass” and “The World in Winter”.

      Technically, you can say the protagonists “win”, but it doesn’t end well and there’s darkness ahead.

      Both very entertaining (YMMV).

      1. Well, it’s more nuanced than it might appear. For instance, I think Cold Equations is Human Wave. It’s all a mater of ‘Is it all futile” or do the protags go down fighting.

        1. “Cold Equations” was stupidity in action. [Sad Smile]

          Mind you, the SJWs deserve to live in the world of “Cold Equations”. [Wink]

            1. It was the very essance of message fiction done right. The message being that the universe does not care, if you do stupid things you will die even if everyone around you wants you to live.
              This is one of those stories that I call great fiction, that I would like to see in the schools and that I never want to read again.

              1. Much like “A Boy and His Dog.” That is a perfect example of a story that richly deserved its Nebula – and that I will never, ever, touch again, nor any of Ellison’s other works. That is a matter of taste, not quality, which the CHORFs refuse to understand (they don’t want to, actually).

                The fact that the Nebula no longer lives up to its advertising doesn’t mean that it is false advertising either – just that the product is seriously lacking these days.

                    1. Dickson couldn’t, Anderson couldn’t, Simak couldn’t, Smith (Cordwainer, Clark Ashton, Doc or any other) couldn’t, Kuttner couldn’t, Bloch couldn’t, Sturgeon couldn’t, Heinlein couldn’t.

                      To any authors (or their estates) insulted by not being on this list, please be advised it is merely intended as a selection and is not supposed to be comprehensive; such a list would exceed the capacity of this venue.)

                      Lovecraft probably could.

                    2. Lovecraft couldn’t…he’s racisss. In fact, there is a movement to change the form of the World Fantasy Award (a bust of Lovecraft) because of his racism.

              2. The problem being is that the stupidity is on a scale that makes you wonder how they manage space flight.

                Why was there no LOCK on the shuttle if it was so crucial?

                Why was there not a pre-flight inspection that would have flushed out any stowaways, if it was so crucial?

    2. If you’re talking about Jack Vance’s Dying Earth, yes the Earth was dying but the characters weren’t behaving like the only thing to do was “die first”.

      Now, “On The Beach” (an after the Atomic War book) is a good example of “what to avoid”. In it, the Northern Hemisphere had been completely wiped out by the War and it was “only a matter of time” before the Radioactive Fall-Out came south to destroy life in the Southern Hemisphere.

      In “On The Beach”, the message was if you survive the Atomic War, kill yourself because otherwise you’ll have a more painful death.

      1. I love Anthony Boucher’s comment on “On the Beach”: “It is the first novel in which there are no living characters after the end of the novel. Arguably there are no living characters before the ending, either.

      2. I’ve never read the book, but the movie was depressing. With the possible exception of when Frank Sinatra’s character races in the last Australian Grand Prix, then it goes back to depressing.

        1. IMO the book and the movie were intended to be “depressing” so that “we” would support Nuclear disarmament.

        2. I thought the book was depressing. A couple of friends maintain it is the bestest thing they evar read. I maintain I need a better class of friends…

            1. Yep, some sad things happen in the book but humans & human civilization survives.

            2. Full book? I read a short story by that name long ago, and actually enjoyed it. I may need to seek out this book. I didn’t realize there was more. (Which was likely an accident on the teacher’s part she was the ‘ooo you liked that? Well then I recommend these *list rolls out the door* authors and some specific stories’ type, not one to forget there was a book attached to the story we were reading. She actually was enthusiastic enough to pull us through some of the more boring works we had to get through and had a knack for putting them in context and making the context interesting without us quite realizing what she’d just done.)

              1. I think (and I could be way off) that Poul Anderson had a short story using that title, or that Frank also published a short story version that concerned just the outbreak of the war and not the aftermath.

                1. The one I read was a ‘deep aftermath’. It ‘felt’ like hundreds of years had passed and I, at least, didn’t realize they were dealing with a post-MAD world since it read like a fantasy story. The priest and his acolyte were getting dressed in their cerimonial robes to protect themselves from unseen dangers and going into the waste land. When they get there they go into dead houses and what happened actually becomes more clear to a modern eye. It was an interesting story though I remember more of the premise than the ending. (Flipping through the preview of the novel, I’m thinking it may be a similarly named short story.)

                  1. Almost sounds like “A Canticle for Leibowitz”…but maybe there’s more than one post-apocalyptic, far-future story that involves monks preserving the past…?

                    1. I found it! And, as per usual, I was very wrong. It’s “By the waters of Babylon” by Stephen Vincet Benet. (My only excuse is it has been a very long time.)

                    2. An interesting little story (I found it on-line). Even more interesting since it was written before the idea of “atomic warfare” was widely thought of and feared.

                    3. Yeah, I saw that on one of the cometary pages… along with the idea that maybe he was thinking carpetbombing and mustard gas (very familiar in his era). Though the continued contamination of the metal seems very much an atomic vs. other stuff idea. Alas the man is dead so we can’t ask.

                    4. Nonsense — of course we can ask.

                      Seance, Ouija Board, pick your preferred medium.

                      The real issue is whether we could trust any answer we receive.

                    5. Canticle for Liebowitz was assigned reading for my World History to 1650 class; the teacher used it as analogy for how the medieval monasteries preserved Classical knowledge.

        3. Doh! It was Fred Astaire in the Australian Grand Prix, not Sinatra. Sinatra wasn’t even in this film.

      3. I have the nagging fear that if an a-bomb hits one US city, the idiots are going to pass out cyanide tablets they’ve been hoarding since the craze for atomic suicide.

        1. To be blunt, anybody willing to take those suicide tablets aren’t worth saving. IE Good Riddings.

        2. If we could make that city Washington DC and have them follow through on your theory I might consider the whole thing quite a bargain.

    3. I’m a major Jack Vance fan, and even I have trouble understanding the popularity of those stories. Or the Lyonesse or Aramintha books. But those seem to be the most widely promoted, if not the best-known.

      Almost anything of Vance’s is better than those, but I particularly recommend the Demon Princes and Tchai stuff, or Big Planet or Showboat World, or any of his short stories.

      1. I love pretty much everything by Vance, but the Dying Earth stories do require that I be in a mood to enjoy Cugel or Rhialto’s amoral antics. The Guyal story set in the Museum of Man fits the Human Wave manifesto pretty well, as do the Turjan stories to a lesser degree.

  3. “…it’s Human Wave Day. Or something. No Kings, No Queens, No Bleak Meaningless Stories, No hatred of humanity and no Enforced Conformity.”

    Hey! What about National Cheeseburger Day? You missed that one cleanly. And did anyone bother to celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day yesterday? I’m betting not!

    Today, of course, is “God, I wish Summer lasted longer” Day, which, though not official, nevertheless falls on the day before the Autumnal Equinox each year. So today, lament the passing of summer with someone you love…preferably over a pina colada.

      1. Talk Like a Space Pirate just before you exit the air-lock without a spacesuit. [Very Big Evil Grin]

        Yes, I’ve read the Honorverse stories (and Chris Nuttall stories) about Space Pirates, how did you guess? [Grin]

      2. We need Talk Like a Space Pirate Day.

        We are ready to begin research on the Metroids and other promising life-forms. Security status remains at Code Blue: no signs of pursuit from the Hunter.

    1. Easy fix: We just bought a house in Phoenix, where it’s summer six months of the year, and Real Damned Summer the other six months.

      1. Mine also, sir. Although we just might run into each other one of these days, with me just an hour down the freeway. (Um. Make that two hours, in case there are any Highway Patrol lurking around here…)

    2. Q: What is a pirate’s favorite letter?

      A: It’s R they say but the C they love.
      (shamelessly stolen from a clergy creature)

    3. Pirates of the air are the Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr force. Carp shields up! Shovel in more dilithium crystals, Mr. Scott.

    4. Being one of those who is happy to wave Summer goodbye, I’m afraid I shall not join. (I can drink a pina colada on my patio in the middle of January if I wish. Most of the time, anyway.)

    5. What summer? Admittedly I saw that this summer, during my holiday in USA, but locally there were about a week or two in the beginning of August. Finnish summer: short, but at least has less snow than Finnish winter.

      1. Now it’s time to write great stuff for all our fans to read
        H – U – M, Mmmmm because we like it!
        A-N-Space, Space because we’re skiffy!
        Double-U – A – V – E!

      1. I know of a different Foamy, the Freakadog.

        Now for a real challenge, are there many large ungulates that are other than transportation (uh, or.. food.)? Quickdraw McGraw is about all I can think of. Well, there was that Moo Mesa thing, but I always tuned past that. Yes, really.

      2. There’s another one, but he’s secret …

        I wonder about going back in time and eliminating Hanna-Barbera.

        1. I used to think that after all the greatness for animation that Disney studios achieved, that Hanna-Barbera had destroyed.
          When you look at what passes for cartoons anymore, I don’t think H-B is all that bad (although did you notice that any explosion they have always has the same smoke cloud).

          1. Disney did great annimation when great was cheap. Hanna-Barbera did poor animation when even poor was expensive. Now that computers have made great cheap again Disney is back in the buisiness.

          1. Incidentally, I liked Jay Ward. Cartooning was cheap, but the stories and the voice were really good. (Starting with Crusader Rabbit.)

        1. Based on what I read about them, they aren’t even “anti-heroes”. They’re Evil!!!

        1. so we add George and Pete (and Pete and George, and Pete, Pete, and the other George, and … well you get the drift) to the list of heroic Squirrels, huh?

  4. All would be writers of Message Fic should be first required required to view and write an essay on the message of the classic Preston Sturgess film, Sullivan’s Travels.

    Then they should write another essay justifying their wasting of readers’ time.

    Then the MFs should FOAD.

    1. YES!! I’ve been saying this for years! Absolutely should be required viewing for anyone who wants to do any kind of fiction, written, visual, gaming, whatever!

  5. Thank you for posting this again. I’ve read the original post a few times (hunted it down); this time I’ll bookmark and print it out to stick on my wall by my writing desk. This is what I try to write and what I hope to write.

  6. I’m in! My only request is that we add that it’s OK to write humor. Back in 2011 and 2012 several publishers told me that humorous SFF just doesn’t sell. The next year, Redshirts won the Hugo by claiming to be funny. (If it actually had been funny, I doubt it would have won.)

    1. “Back in 2011 and 2012 several publishers told me that humorous SFF just doesn’t sell.”

      Likely because what the publishers thought was “humorous” wasn’t “humorous” to the readers. [Evil Grin]

      Of course, Humor is IMO hard to write successfully.

      It’s much easier IMO to write a some-what-serious story with the characters finding/creating humor in their situation.

      Image of Honor Harrington fighting to keep her laughter in when hearing of the marriage of two of her lower-ranking friends. Truly an “odd couple”. [Very Big Grin]

      1. Writing humor is hard. It took me 30-odd years to get it right. The humorous fantasy novel I was pitching Manhattan in 2011-2012 will hit Kindle by January if all goes well. When it does, I will face east and give them my best George Carlin impersonation: “What do dogs do on their day off? They can’t just lay around. That’s their job.”

    2. why in H*LL shouldn’t it be okay to write humor? The publishers periodically make these pronouncements. We should just ignore them. Showing them our middle fingers is optional, though.

      1. Look at how all that “humour” stuff hurts sales for Ringo & Correia!

        The Public wants grimdarkdismalmirthlessbleak and that’s what Publishers are gonna give ’em, whether they want it or not!

        1. don’t the publishers want to make money? You make money by giving the readers(customers) what they want.

          Why are they so enthralled by grimdarkhopelessness? It’s a good excuse not to do anything, and also, to do anything you want because nothing matters in the end. I can’t see this as anything but slow motion suicide.

          1. because most publishers — Baen as always excepted — are insulated from the results of their picks, by being very large and really only a department of a larger media company.
            This means they aren’t affected by whether or not something sells. THEY ARE affected by how their peers view them. They don’t get invited to the parties, etc, if peers don’t like them. Hence, they’re doing this to impress other editors.

            1. Sarah has pointed up an example of what I call Ouroborosity: the tendency of something to eat its own tail. Manhattan publishing culture works precisely as our Evil Space Princess described. Manhattan hipsters want nothing more than to be accepted and eventually admired by other Manhattan hipsters, especially the longer-tenured and thus hipper/cooler ones. Signaling is everything. I worked for a Manhattan publisher for a while. When I had to go there for meetings (I lived 100 miles away, thank God!) all I heard were dog whistles.

              1. This is a basic underlying issue of the Battle for Hugo.

                While most of us think an industry award that scares off buyers is worse than useless, the Publishing Drones find greater cachet in it than they do a best-selling book. (I suspect publishing a BS books is an embarrassment in their circles.)

          2. Also so many of the individuals who work for the legacy gatekeepers are from a certain demographic group … which has nothing to strive for or look forward to … they’re already affluent, they have no consciousness beyond the material, what is left to live for, much less die for? So grimdarketc is something to make them FEEL something, see related “cutting” for teens.

    3. And let’s not forget Sir Terry Pratchett, toiling away in obscurity, his work condemned to the ash heap of history the moment he completed it.

      1. One publisher (when I called him on Pratchett) claimed that Terry was satire, not humor! One wonders why tradpub has lasted as long as it has, with people like that in charge.

        1. I was going to mention sir terry, but you beat me to it. which reminds me to mention that when I was in the book store yesterday sir terry’s last book was out. the shepherd’s crown … a tiffany aching adventure …
          the down side is my wife took the book shouting MINE MINE MINE.

          1. Borrow it afterwards. It’s probably safer that way. *grin*

            My hubby knows that he’s likely to lose me to a book for a few hours if it’s the type that makes me glom it. He feels sorry for the book because I have been able to finish ’em in the space of a couple of hours. (He’ll sometimes take it away, hold it out of reach and say, ‘love they’re meant to be savoured, not swallowed whole.’)

            1. Fortunately, since the devouring is strictly metaphorical, you can swallow ’em whole and then savor them at your leisure *later*. After you’ve found out the Really Important Stuff. 🙂

          2. I’ve finished reading it. Great! A little shorter than the typical Pratchett, Ron Willkins in the afterword mentions that Terry wrote the beginning, the middle and the end, and was then filling in details. Saddest part was he was thinking about another Amazing Maurice novel with the cat at sea.
            I read it on the Kindle and the hardback arrived yesterday. On the bright side, Cherryh is now the only living author that I feel compelled to purchase the hardback (Foreigner series only) so let the big publishers whine about their falling sales.

        2. For approximately the same reason MSNBC is still around: it’s meant as propaganda for the Faithful.

      2. It probably also explains why almost nobody has heard of an obscure author named Douglas Adams.

        If only he had stuck to serious writings, he might have had BBC adaptations and movies based on his work.

        1. We see the same trend in SF in film & television. The “funny” episodes of Star Trek (e.g., Shore Leave) are the least popular, the Marvel movies are all grimdark stuff, especially Guardians of the Galaxy (soon to be an animated show on Disney Channel) and there’s nary a trace of humour in that British show about a time-travelling doctor.

            1. Chapter titles? Some of Robert Rankin’s book titles are pretty bizarre, too.

              “The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse”, “Nostradamus Ate My Hamster”, “Brentford Chainstore Massacre”, “Web Site Story”…

              Robert Rankin, Tom Holt, and Jasper Fforde can very nearly make a genre of their own. Possibly called “what you get when writers get their psychoactive drugs on the National Health.”

              Rankin often writes in a style that reminds me of John Creasy’s “Toff” novels – stuffy and pretentious. And it’s all British, full of references and phrases I can only guess at. And frankly, going by the half-dozen of his books I’ve read so far, his imagination often overwhelms his skill as a writer. But you know what? I can handle the occasionally-incoherent sentences, the wandering storylines, and the occasional deus ex machina; his stories are FUN. Even during some of the “I’m not sure what’s going on here” parts I can visualize the author hammering madly at the keyboard in the wee hours while cackling like a B-movie villain. And I’m usually cackling too.

    4. There are many words describing Redshirts, but ‘funny’ is certainly NOT one of them. Drivel, fanporn, unoriginal, uninspiring, tedious are the first 5 that come to mind.

      1. That’s because you missed the joke, which was on the reading public.

        Once you grasp that the thing is effing hilarious.

        For certain values of eff.

    5. That’s probably why Terry Pratchett only got one nom. If his stuff had been any funnier I would have plotzed.

      (so what if the word came from Yiddish. To English, all your words are belong to us.)

      1. “We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and riffle their pockets for new vocabulary.”

          1. Actually, in grammar it is. Very few grammatical construction are imported. Indeed, we sometime hammer stuff into submission. For instance “trove” was originally a French adjective, “treasure trove” meaning “found treasure,” but we soon hammered it into a noun to make it grammatical.

      2. And Sir Pterry only got that nomination because WorldCon was in London that year, and a bunch of his fans made a SadPuppies-style organized effort to get him on the ballot.

        Pratchett never getting a nomination through normal channels is my top example of how pointless and biased the Hugo has become.

  7. Ahem. If I am going to throw a chicken, it will not be lightly. It will be hurled with great gusto, because I do not like those fake modern dinosaurs. One pecked me when I was about four years old, and I have not forgiven the species. Which is why I throw Frisbees for my aunt’s flock, and then laugh hysterically when they go running over to try to eat it.

    1. I understand you to be a mouse.

      Please to stay away from the chickens. I have watched my flock consume your kin before. Of course, they also eat snakes . . .

    2. See what NASA? would charge you to run the chicken gun the next time they are testing. If I recall correctly that one throws chickens at greater than the speed of sound.

  8. Regarding #6;

    There are certain legitimate genera in which despair is kind of hard to avoid. Noir mystery and Lovecraftian horror spring to mind. It’s POSSIBLE to be upbeat in either, without violating the precepts of the genera, but it isn’t easy.

    So, if you are going to mix one of these with SF, be careful. Use angst and despair to serve the legitimate constraints of the genera, and don’t slather it on with a trowel.

    1. I seek out certain stories by David Drake specifically because they show people finding ways to get through bad situations.I would regard Hammer’s Slammers vs the Many-Angled Ones or Adele Mundy Wears Black as immensely life-affirming. I know that even if they came out second best they would go down doing the best they could, and finding some sort of satisfaction in their efforts.

      1. That was one of the reasons I wandered away from SF in the 1990s. I got fed up with nilism, noir, and antiheroes.

        My path back to SF was via Scott Westerfeld and Dan Wells, who get slotted into “Young Adult.” Their stories go places, their characters fix things. The books have a beginning, a middle, and an end; a trivial sort of detail that crochety going-on-seniors like myself tend to insist on.

        I think that was one reason so many writers jumped on the “New Wave” bandwagon. Write any-damned-thing and send it off. It’s pure art, without the shackles of tedious plot or story structure!

        Bah! If I wanted to assemble my own coherent narrative out of bits, I’d write my own book. I paid for a novel, not a do-it-yourself kit.

        1. I’ve never understood why anyone would want to write something with no plot or structure.
          Of course, then again, I consider myself a storyteller who happens to do so in writing.

          1. Nod, the “anti-hero” who is a nasty guy but is “heading for the right path” is OK.

            The “anti-hero” who is a nasty guy but the “good guys” are worse should be ditched.

            1. American Government/Military/Corporation is corrupt and the tarnished/damaged but decent/spunky/basically good hero takes them down is trite/cliched/lame.

              Try writing a story about a corrupt communist dictatorship (redundant, I know), union, guild or petty bureaucracy (say, a group that seizes control of the power grid for an asteroid) — see how far that gets.

              How about a nice novel about a cartel that controls all publishing in a society, striving to limit the public to “uplifting” books? Perhaps an anointed elite, graduates of the same small pool of schools, who infiltrate the industry, taking over key choke points and only allowing through the kinds of stories of which they approve?

  9. This is one of those posts that should be re-launched every year or so, just to remind us what we’re fighting for (in addition to Truth, Justice, and the USAian Way [and chocolate and snickerdoodles]).

    1. Chocolate and snickerdoodles are part of the USAian way. (I wonder if I can figure out how to work chocolate into one of Nat’s mini-appearances in other books. Turns out he’s a fiend for it. Who KNEW?

        1. Why do people know my characters better than I do. Of course, Nat not being a well man, the answer to taking his chocolate might well be ‘Put it back, or I cut your hand off” — and he’d mean it.

  10. I think the ideals of “Human Wave” could be applied to SF&F art as well. Also, I still have the prototype for a Human Wave logo in my PC and drawing pads…I’ll probably finish it up this week( on vacation from the dayjob…yay) just to get it done…along with some crazy cats in a brigade.

          1. There is no man alive willing to wear chain mail over those particular bits in Texas in the summertime.
            Well, okay, there are some men who might be willing, but they make up a very small subset of the population.

            1. a regular speedo I guess. or he could Full Monty as long as he put on plenty of sunscreen! You don’t want a sunburn there.

  11. “5 – You shall not commit grey goo. Grey goo, in which characters of indeterminate moral status move in a landscape of indeterminate importance towards goals that will leave no one better or worse off is not entertaining. (Unless it is to see how the book bounces off the far wall, and that has limited entertainment. Also, I’m not flinging my kindle.)

    7 – You will write in language that can be understood. You will have an idea of what your story is about, or at least of its beginning, middle and end. And so will your reader, once he reads it.”

    Are you glaring at “Finnegan’s Wake” by James Joyce right now?

      1. Try his early stuff. The stories written in English. “The Dead” is a favorite of mine, though liking it may depend on sympathy for the Irish.

        1. His later stuff is great too! (Oh, never mind. You meant for reading, not being lazy in inventing alien language…)

      1. Dubliners was assigned reading in my Freshman English class at college.

        The only “assigned” reading I ever read were books I read before they were assigned.

        Oddly, while this was not conducive to high marks in those classes it did not produce such low marks as you might expect,

        1. Books that I enjoyed before and (substantially) after I had them assigned were horrible to read as assignments.

        2. Maybe I’m odd but there was some assigned reading I really enjoyed, especially as a HS Junior when it was American lit. Very specifically I have found memories of The Scarlet Letter and The Great Gatsby.

          Senior year, some to think of it, with English lit had two I enjoyed as well: Macbeth (although I had already read it) and Pride and Prejudice.

          I also enjoyed quite a bit of the poetry, but I know liking poetry makes me an odd duck.

          1. We definitely had some good selections (as well as some stinkers). For me, the problem was that even when I liked the assigned reading in the first place, by the time we were done with it in class, I was often just plain sick of it.

        1. I got that assigned freshman year. For my paper I discussed the story buried under the Freudian nonsense. Doubt I convinced the professor, but I got a good grade on it.

    1. Try “A Gnome There Was” by Henry Kuttner, a union organizer gets what he deserves after bothering yet more miners about why it’s beneficial to get paid more and keep less. Or “The Misguided Halo” by the same writer. Almost as good as Kornbluth. And there’s “Paradox Lost” by Fredric Brown, where time travel works for insane people, and they wiped out the dinosaurs with slingshots so it would be fair. There was a Jack Williamson short too, but I can’t remember it at the moment.

      1. SF/F has a long tradition of humour — from Dunsany’s Jorken stories through Unknown, Campbell’s short-lived (wars demand paper, or used to) companion to Analog and where many of the stories Scott cited first appeared up through Harrison’s Stainless Steel Rat and Pratchett’s disk. Along the way such luminaries as Frederick Brown, Keith Laumer, Fritz Leiber, Robert Sheckley, Kurt Bustagut and yes, Aspirin, Bujold, Correia, and Ringo.

        There are also Arthur C Clarke’s Tales From the White Hart, Spider Robinson’s Callahan’s Bar, Dickson & Anderson’s Hokas, the Harold Shea & Gavagan’s Bar stories by L Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt, Pohl & Kornbluth’s ’50s work, such as The Space Merchants & Search the Sky, and William Tenn’s many contributions. There are also Christopher Stasheff’s Warlock series, the Illuminatus trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson, and (G-D save us) Piers Anthony’s interminable Xanth novels which, however tedious they’ve become, are undeniably sold under the premis of being humour (more successful, perhaps, and certainly briefer is Anthony’s Prostholus, featuring a kidnapped Earth dentist forced to practise on a hideous variety of alien teeth).

        Nor should we dismiss Alfred Bester’s “The Men who Murdered Mohammed” or Reginald Bretnor’s Ferdinand Feghoot series. Kuttner’s Galloway Gallegher series, about that subconscious genius and his proud robot remain delightful.

        HT: http://www.sf-encyclopedia.com/entry/humour

        1. Love Tales of the White Hart. (I never looked at TV props in quite the same way). The Drako Tavern stories (Larry Niven) also range from tears of laughter to . . . odd.

  12. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. The original post put into words a feeling that had been bothering me for years. Time and time again I’d try the “important”, “award-winning” works and I found them dull at best or unbearable at worst. I sometimes wondered if I wasn’t smart enough to appreciate them and I’d go back to the “low-brow” stuff I loved. Now I know why.

  13. Only comment *I* have is please put me on that list, even if its to be a supporter, although I do have two works in progress that I am ambitiously working to submit to a publisher…or publish on my own. I tend to view fantasy in the same vein that Tolkien did (“fairy tale” and the spirit that rises up within its telling), but I am so heartened to see those who are more experienced and established in fantasy and sic-fi thinking the way I do.

    1. Hanging around with writers is the best way to get the idea that this writing thing is normal, and commit it yourself.

  14. Okay, maybe I’m just too new around here to understand, but:

    “Does the other crowd have a tiny raccoon in a kilt?”

    That kind of implies that our side does. What are we talking about here. and where is our raccoon?

  15. Who needs a rabid raccoon when you can have a cute marsupial like a ‘possum? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginia_opossum

    As for Rule 2, it’s hard to read about a dark protagonist. Only John Barnes as pulled it off well in my recent memory, in his “The Century Next Door”. (Although I do believe this book probably cost him any major awards for any of his other work, due to the SJW tendency to mistake an authors work for the author true nature.)

  16. It’s hard to write sex with a robot. They keep interrupting to ask the most awkward questions.

    1. It’s a classic “Cautionary Tale” (not an instruction book).

      IMO “Cautionary Tales” have a place but too many times some writers think readers must only read “Cautionary Tales”.

      1. What he said. Same principle applies to Animal Farm, Brave New World, The Iron Dream and Pippi Långstrump.

        1. Yep, Orwell created the world of “1984” because of his fears about the growth of totalitarian state.

          No intelligent person could read that book and think the author wanted the world to be like that.

          1. I was wondering whether you thought it was a good story along the lines of the guidelines here. For me, I think I’d say yes – a protagonist who fights until he can fight no longer, even though he doesn’t make it to see the fall of the regime.

            1. Actually, if the Realm in 1984 fell, it was not because of anything that Winston Smith did.

              IE Big Brother won and anything Winston Smith did was meaningless.

    2. Why do they care? I pretty much don’t give a damn what they think, unless they’re right under my nose. I think it’s an unlikely thing to happen. Even China hasn’t managed that sort of control and the Chicoms (eh) are good at control. I think it could also be successfully broken by what I like to call “A Heinlein character.”

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