Say Goodbye To The State of Fear

I published this here, I think (though it might have been at PJM) 2 years ago.  I keep saying “For the times they are achanging” but it’s hard, even for me, sometimes, to remember how AFRAID I was.  Afraid of being associated with people I actually admired.  Afraid any words I said revealed I read an unapproved magazine (in the nineties, mostly Reason.) I was afraid of stepping out of line.  I monitored my emotions, my look, my friends on FB to ensure I had no spec of taint.  The first time instapundit mentioned me as in quoted something from a book, I lived in fear, afraid someone would tell a publisher I had non-accepted fans.

I keep telling you that the big difference now is that we’re talking back, but until I stumbled on this (I was actually looking for a cute Heinlein reader meme) but even I had forgotten how much we DIDN’t talk back before.

Is it any wonder they look stunned?  Is it any wonder they are in shock?  Or that the escalation of their tantrums is getting crazy?  They had all this power and — through technology, through different means of information, through sheer enough-is-enough– it all ran away between their fingers.

Let us not forget the fear, but let us NEVER allow ourselves to fall into it again.  As the song says “We’re talking real loud and walking real proud again.”  Do that thing.  Stand on two.

Here starts older post.  I’ve removed the non-relevant to this part, because I don’t want ot rub the lamp:

When I sold my first novel in the late 90s.  Most Americans might not be that sensitive to the “climate” but I was.  I had after all grown up in a socialist (at best, during the better times) country where to graduate you had to present the proper progressive front.  I knew the signs and the hints and social positioning of “further left than thou.”  For instance, my first SF cons, as an author, in the green room, I became aware that “a conservative” was a suitable, laughter inducing punchline for any joke; that all of them believed the Reagan years had set us on course to total dystopia; that the US was less enlightened/capable/free than anywhere else; that your average Republican or even non-Democrat voter was the equivalent of the Taliban.

As for Libertarians, I will to my dying day cherish the dinner I had with my then editor to whom I was describing a funny incident at MileHi where for reasons known only to Bob, I found myself in an argument with someone who wanted to ban the internal combustion engine.  My editor perked up and (I swear I’m not making this up) said “Oh, a Libertarian.”  At which point my husband squeezed my thigh hard enough to stop me answering.  But yeah.  That was a not uncommon idea of a libertarian.  If it was completely insane and involved banning something, then it was a libertarian.

I once overheard the same editor talking to a colleague and saying that if she got submissions across her desk and they were – dropped and horrified voice – somewhat conservative she recommended they try Baen.

Which the other editor (from a different house) agreed with, because after all, they weren’t in the business of publishing conservative works.

This immediately put me on notice that in the field if you were a conservative (I presume libertarians were worse, or at least they seemed to induce more mouth foaming.  And though I was solidly libertarian and – at the time – might have qualified as a Libertarian, I suspect if faced with my real positions they would have classed me as conservative, because my positions were self-obviously not left and that’s all it took.) there was only one house that would take you, and if what you wrote/wanted to write wasn’t accepted by then, then you were out of luck.

After that I lived in a state of fear

I imagine it was similar to living in one of the more unsavory periods of the Soviet Union.  You saw these purges happen.  Whisper-purges.  You got the word that someone was “not quite the thing” or that they associated with so and so who associated with so and so who was a – dropped voice – conservative.  Suddenly that person’s books weren’t being bought and somehow people would clear a circle around them, because, well, you know, if you’re seen with a – dropped voice – conservative they might think you’re one too.  And then it’s off to Never-Never with you.

I found a few other conservatives/libertarians (frankly, mostly libertarians) in the field, all living in the same state of gut clenching fear.

We did such a dance to test both the reliability and discretion of the other before revealing ourselves that we might as well have developed a hanky code. [Blue for true blue Conservative, white for pure Libertarian, red for the blood of our heroes, brown for OWL (older, wiser libertarian), purple for squishy conservative, powder blue for Brad Torgersen. (The powder blue care bare, with the bleeding heart… and the flame thrower.)]

Conventions were nerve wracking because I watched myself ALL the TIME.  And you never knew how much you had to watch yourself.  Suddenly, out of the blue, at a World Fantasy the speaker, a well known SF/F writer went on about Dean Howard, our next president. The room erupted in applause, some people stood to clap, and I sat there, frozen, unable to actually fake it to that point but too shocked to even put a complaisant expression on my face.

This is one of the instances where I think if I didn’t give myself away I gave them the impression I was not very bright and therefore untrustworthy.  Another would be the letter exchange with a gentleman who went after my first Analog story.  Another instance would be that I actually could not help myself and defended Heinlein at all possible occasions.

They were never sure enough that I was a – dropped voice – conservative, but they were sure enough that my books had the strangest issues with distribution and marketing. I. e. like the year I had six books out and not one on the shelves anywhere.  [Yes, I have considered the possibility that maybe my books sucked, but a) if that was the case then why did they keep buying?  b) why are the same books making me a paycheck every month indie?]  And I was never one of the “darlings” who got promo or even really nice treatment (by editors) at cons (until I worked for Baen.)

Btw, speaking of Baen, when I was picked up by them after my first series tanked and no one else would touch me, I was overjoyed.  The agent who had been trying in vain for years to get SOMEONE to buy me, promptly told me that I couldn’t work for Baen because of the Baen taint.  (yeah, that – dropped voice – conservative taint – this while Baen publishes anyone from any political color provided they like the story.)

One time I came into the room at a con and found one of my editors talking to another of my editors.  I could tell from the expression, the startled look at me, that news that I might be a – dropped voice — conservative had been conveyed.  I hoped I was being paranoid, but I wasn’t. My treatment by that other house immediately changed, overnight.

So I lived in fear, unable to associate normally or make friends with anyone.  It was like being spied on all the time and knowing the worst construction would be put on my actions and words, even if the actions and words were not political, even if I just forgot what the week’s hate and the week’s cause was.

I got tired.  I got really tired.  I know authors who walked away after one or two books because they simply couldn’t take it anymore.  I know others – gentle souls – who didn’t realize they’d been blacklisted on suspicion of being – dropped voice – conservative. This was particularly true of Libertarians (and libertarians) who never thought of themselves (I still don’t) as “conservatives” and couldn’t understand it when I tried to explain it.

All this was justified, you see, because in the minds of the establishment and establishment hangers on, conservatives are creatures shown as “right wing” on movies and tv (none of whose writers would know a true conservative, much less a libertarian if one bit them in the fleshy part of the *ss [and libertarians might.]  They give conservatives (which again is everyone to the right of Lenin) informed attributes never found in the real creature: conservatives, in their crazy little heads, are people who are racist, sexist, homophobic, ultra-religious in a medieval fashion or a crazy-evangelical (there are some, but not many) one.

Informed attributes for those who don’t know, are a characteristic of lazy, sloppy writing, particularly common in fanfic AND beginner writers (though we all do it, but hopefully not in contradiction to our real writing.)  This is when you tell the reader that the character is kind or socially conscious or whatever even though the rest of your writing shows exactly the opposite.  (One of my ex-fledgelings had a penchant for this.  Would inform you the character was so nice and universally loved, and then show he was the ass everyone rode in on and most people hated him.  Eh.)

The informed attributes of “conservatives” in gatekeeper circles for SF/F are just that.  Someone informed these people that “conservatives” are sexist, racist, homophobic religious fanatics and they believe it without checking it against every day reality.

Here I am tempted to insert snark about their preferred modes of writing, but I won’t.  I’ll just say that once in a group populated mostly by them I found that if a person was good but didn’t proclaim it, then they were horrible.  No, I don’t get it either.  But somehow it works for them.  They HEARTILY believe this stuff, because someone told them.

And frankly if someone were racist, sexist, homophobic (religious fanatics I don’t care either way, unless they chase me down and make me believe as they do) I wouldn’t want to work with them either.

So, if you are revealed, through… what are the words of the old act of contrition?  “Your thoughts, your words, what you’ve done and what you’ve failed to do” or indeed, whomever you associate with at a third remove, or whom you failed to denounce on denouncing day, to be a – dropped voice – conservative they don’t want to work with you.  And if they have to work with you, they’re going to do it at as arm’s length as possible.

When I realized I couldn’t watch everything and didn’t have the energy to keep up with the hate or the enthusiasm of the week (there is a reason most of the darlings are single or at least childless) I told my husband I was dropping out.  But by then there was indie, and I was working for Baen, and he convinced me to stay on.

Still, such was the reflex of that fear that the first time I was mentioned on Instapundit I reached up to wipe the scarlet L from my forehead.

Now?  I’ve come a long way in seven years.  By baby steps.  But now I don’t hide I’m a libertarian.  (Technically an OWL – waves brown feathery scarf.)

And still when I’m mentioned somewhere I shouldn’t be catch my breath and remember the fear.

The people who preach to you of inclusiveness and love (SF is “love” apparently); the people who are hunting for writers of various colors of the rainbow to give awards to demand (and receive) perfect lockstep abasing compliance with their beliefs.

Fortunately there is indie.  They haven’t realized it yet, but what they hold in their hands is nothing.  And the more they show their colors, the more they pursue their little purges (now in public) the less they’ll be taken seriously.

We haven’t yet reached the point when “banned by the New York Publishing establishment” is a badge of honor, but unless I mistake my gut we’re not very far off.

And it’s a beautiful thing.  A scarlet l on my forehead, and an American flag in my heart, I stride into the future unafraid and what is it to you, and who made you keeper of other’s thoughts, other’s ideas, other’s art, other’s opinions?

Are you so empty, so vacant, so devoid of creativity and joy that all you can do is tear down the designated targets?

Well, then, you have my sympathy.  But you no longer have my fear.

And you never had my allegiance.

Depart from us in peace and go find someone else who might still fear you.  It won’t happen here.

375 thoughts on “Say Goodbye To The State of Fear

                1. No, some are poisonous lizards, others are poisonous spiders, some are rabid hyenas, many are flesh-rending piranhas (individually no threat, but collectively …) and a few are simply crocodillian, weeping copious tears but eating you all the same.)

                  1. To compare Progressives to any member of the genus Chordata is unfair.
                    Particularly to the snakes, Crocodiles and piranhas you have so unnecessarily slandered. Nudibranchs, Sea Cucumbers, sponges (lots of sponges), cockroaches, and of course Spiders I can buy.

      1. And to be responded to in the same way!

        *lets out a ‘battle cry’ and flails the spider flat with the nearest heavy object*

        1. I set the Flat State speed and distance record for the seated long jump eleven years ago. I was typing away and heard a rustle from the papers in the gap between my desk and the wall. I leaned over to look and saw a wolf spider as big as my hand emerging from the pile. How I got across the room to the doorway that fast I still don’t know.

            1. If it had been my house instead of an apartment, I might have done just that. Spiders outdoors, as long as they are not dangerous spiders in a kid-populated area, I’m pretty OK with. That thing, there, by surprise? Not OK with.

              1. I had a few wolf spiders in my old rented house in Texas. Especially in the bathroom I rarely used. They’d often get trapped in the tub. Didn’t mind them overly much, just wish they’d chased the scorpions away. (~_^)
                Here I got little (well locals think they’re big) black ones that are about as fast as a wolf. The Spring Spraying will come soon.

              2. A brit comedian named Phil Jupitus has a hysterically funny routine about his fear of spiders. My post-fu isn’t equal to embedding a video, but it’s relatively easy to fine on You Tube.

          1. Hah! World record for prone long jump. Fifteen feet, seven inches. Laying down in my bed when a tarantula ran up the body and across the face…

            I was only fifteen or so, and didn’t have the keys to the gun safe, or – yes – I would have gone for the firearm. Shudder thinking about it even forty years later…

            1. Did you know that those things migrate?

              My uncle found out… while driving in Nevada… on a motorcycle…..

              The entire road was brown and fuzzy.

              1. Saw that once, on the road between Oracle Junction and Florence (what used to be the highway between Tucson and Phoenix before I-10).

                First reaction was that the road was washed out – then remembered that it was the dry season. Turned the low beams on, and then realized it was creepy crawlies…

                Very glad I was in an enclosed vehicle!

                  1. Better than other critters. I was driving once when there was apparently a jackrabbit population explosion along one stretch of road. I recall from childhood one trip, too, where we had skunk for virtually the entire trip (90 miles or so…). Yech.

                    1. That usually indicates a very mild winter– high survival rate, lots of early food, so lots of really dumb young animals.

          2. Teleportation seems to happen at times when you’re surprised. The summer that “Jaws” first came out I was swimming beyond the breakers at La Jolla Shores when a fin broke the water about ten feet from me. To this day, I’m not sure if I teleported or just got up and ran across the surface of the water, but the next thing I knew I was standing on the sand. Then I turned around and joined all of the other dripping, panting people in laughing at ourselves, because it was a pod of dolphins.

            1. saw a large shadow in the waves once in Melbourne, Florida. and made good time getting out but was dragging several nieces and nephews so not teleportation speeds.
              A day or two later, the life guards ran the shark flags up blew the whistles and a horn. Nephews and a niece went and inquired about the shadow we had seen and why no warning then.
              “Was it about 4 in the afternoon when you saw it?”
              “That’s a manatee that comes out every day about then, surfs the waves north to the next inlet, and then heads back inland.”

            2. Yep. I never had a problem suspending disbelief when reading “The Stars My Destination.” I wonder whether Alfred Bester had a similar experience at some time or another.

        2. I’m with the internet for the alternate name for arachnids (Nope, WARNING there be spiders here! :,d.ZGg&psig=AFQjCNHd6H638lFwJuVi5Z6V54HT-FutTw&ust=1489347713461268). And Foxfier I strongly approve of your methodology. Death to Arachnids everywhere!!! Cast Iron Frying Pans excellent as Nope extinguishers.

        3. Noooo! *shields spider with body* I’ll catch it for you and release it into the wild 🙂 I have trained since childhood for spider wrangling, since wolf spiders and bathtubs don’t get along. Frequently had to evict a prior tenant to take a bath in peace…

          1. If they are small enough, and don’t display aggression, AND are not in any way apparently black widows, I put them out (or ignore them– for very small, very high up ones) as well.

            Catseye/orb weavers look freaking terrifying, but if they’re in their place, it’s OK.

            The response is still “SCREAM AND DESTROY” though.

            1. My wife’s particular ick-thingie is the jerusalem cricket (potato bug, child of the earth). About two inches long. Chews through flooring. Can bite. Looks creepy. Etc.

              Came back to the house one day, wondering why she was yelling for me to “come take care of it!” I was too late, as she’d pounded one to grease with a claw hammer.

              On the other hand, she thinks tarantulas are cute.

              1. June bugs. I know they are harmless, but they fly right into you, and are just *shudder*

            2. I know someone who was proud spider-fighter at girl’s camp but at home, still called for her husband to deal with a creepy-crawly.

          2. We have black widows, brown recluses, and some other nasties. Tiny spiders get ignored. Small spiders get smashed. Medium and big spiders get relocated outside.

          3. We’re with you! We run a regular “Spider Rescue Service” in our house. The only exceptions are the black and shiny with red insignia variety, and we will relocate those if we can. The daddy-long-leg variety has a talent for getting stuck in the bathtubs and sinks so the rescue squad is called upon regularly.

          4. Heh, yeah, I’m on the same boat as you. I don’t like the really aggressive spiders, but I haven’t seen any Sydney Funnelwebs in a long time. Those fuckers charge. They make me want flamethrowers.

            The one time I ever saw a redback, it held very still, and I even called the kids to see it. Afterward, it let Rhys catch it and put it off to one side under the fence, where, he says it’ll go after any funnelwebs.

            1. I try to remind Peter that there are non-poisonous snakes in the state of Texas, and that some of them not only eat rats, but rattlesnakes, too….

              Doesn’t matter. He’s got that whole African reflex of “SNAKE! KILL IT!”

              On the other hand, he ignores the existence of spiders until my “Eeek! Kill it with fire!” forces him to act. I’ve been bitten a few too many times by spiders to suffer them to remain in my house. Tiny ones can get relocated, if I’m feeling generous. Startle me or look suspiciously nasty, and it’s straight to the rolled up magazine or brake cleaner spray.

              1. Yeah, I remember seeing big hairy brown aggressive ones in the Philippines; with us having no idea how in the nine hells it got into the bathroom. The kind that rush to you, forelegs waving; resulting in death by lit newspaper. Or big poisonous ones in the trees; which we ignored or drove away if they risked the kids or got too prolific.

                I play it safe with snakes. I only can identify pythons so treat snakes as poisonous thus avoid. Dad, having hunted in the jungle, tells me that one should watch for pythons in trees. They like to fall on their prey; to get a literal drop on them for the crushing hugs.

                My son doesn’t understand why I don’t like dolphins. I told him I’d explain when he is older.

  1. I recall way back in the 1980’s that Murphy Brown introduced a token “conservative” character who used the arguments of the time… and it was weird as the writers hadn’t developed a counter to those arguments, yet it was clear they wanted this character to be ‘wrong’. It was NO surprise when that character was gone or all-but-gone in a while. When your arguments are so poor that any little dog (figuratively) can pull the curtain aside… Hollywood gets rid of the dog.

    1. I kind of wonder how in the world “Parks and Rec” was able to continue as long as it did, and did not turn Ron Swanson into Frank Burns from MASH (or some other typical Hollywood rightwing stereotype).

        1. I don’t recall that. There was an episode where he was ensnared by Tammy One, and became a henpecked, squishy, pro-government milquetoast. Leslie tried to rescue him, but wound up waking him up to his true nature, and he rescued himself (by drinking about a half gallon of the Swanson family spirit).

  2. I am 76. This wonderful post reminded me of a saying from my Mississippi childhood.

    You have “Hung in there like a hair in a biscuit.” A tasteless saying but makes some point?

    Thank you for sharing your witty intellect. Brilliant!




  3. Any more the first response I have is to try a smack-down. I don’t mind if people don’t like me; but if they actually try to hurt me or mine (as in pushing for non-acceptance) then they are going to be hurting.
    I am done with politeness to those attempting a takedown. ANd they deserve it.

      1. Dear Esteemed Hostess:

        I fully support your not wasting your time roaming FB to play wack-a-lib.

        It is far better spent writing books. You write good books of the Human Wave variety, which are fun to read and don’t leave a sour taste in your mouth when you are done. We need them.


        1. I agree, probably the right choice. But having somebody go roam on Facebook and enlighten all the clueless liberals sounds awesome, too. Crowd-sourcing? Crowd-funding? Hmm.

          1. FB is not a platform for enlightening anyone. It is a place where time spent results in reduced wattage.

    1. “I am done with politeness to those attempting a takedown.”

      Scream and leap. They received their last warning in 2015, the Year of the Assterisk.

  4. I keep saying “For the times they are achanging” but it’s hard, even for me, sometimes, to remember how AFRAID I was.

    ‘They’ count on that fear to keep people in line.

    ‘They’ use it to keep people from realizing they are far from the only one who realizes, ‘OMG! The emperor is nekid!

    ‘They’ use it to put off any challenges.

    1. I think this is as good a place as any to say this. Apparently, the preference cascade tipping point has been reached in SF publishing. Baen and indie pushed it along so it was achieved faster then it might have been. Not being a writer, and reading here and at other sites these last few years, I’m actually surprised at how fast liberals took over SF. The last con I attended was Albacon 1996, and I don’t remember anything PC about it at all. Especially once the official day of programming was done. From what I’m reading, what was normal behavior then would now be banned. I don’t recall there being an actual code of conduct. Again, from what I’m reading here, I’d be an unwelcome guest at most cons.

      I subscribed to Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact from 1973 to about 1998 or so. I forget exactly when I let the subscription lapse. I found that I was no longer reading it cover to cover, once in while skipping a story, but rather I was looking through it, and might find one story I could stomach reading. Must have been about that time the liberal takeover was complete.

      Didn’t take long for PC to take over “mainstream” SF, rendering it unreadable. With the advent of Indie, and of course, Baen, it’s not taking long for “mainstream” to become irrelevant. Younger people who didn’t grow up in a world without internet truly don’t realize how much information dissemination has changed in a very, very short period of time.

      1. I was a loyal Analog reader from before the name change until about the same time you dropped it, and did so for essentially the same reason.

        1. My grandmother used to buy Analog for me during the period that it was published in a larger size (I’m guessing early to mid-60s). She’d seen the “Science fact. Science fiction.” subtitle, went for the first phrase, and figured it was good for me. :}

      2. The tendency, as Sarah has noted, for such institutions to roll hard Left and die. The process you described represents the last turn toward the Left, when all wrong-thinking people have been driven out given up and abandoned the ship. It is, in its way, a preference cascade, except the preference cascading is top-driven rather than base-driven.

        See: New Coke

  5. This is the post that was my personal tipping point, so I decided to self-publish. I’d just about gone round the bend with, “if my books don’t fit the market, why can’t I find what I want to read on the shelves?”

    And then I read this, among other bloggers, and had to facepalm. It really wasn’t my writing that was the problem. So…. I tamped down the screaming panic and got books on how to do CreateSpace.

    And my books are selling. Not a lot, not yet, but there is a market.

    Take that, NY.

    1. Drip.. drip..drip… is the sound of a tiny leak in the dam. It starts slow. Not much at all. But every drop wears just that little bit more away. And then the drops become a trickle… the trickle grows.. and eventually… the dam breaks.

      I get the impression that the big publishers of old have taken to earplugs rather than sealants. And are trying to deal with a trickle growing into a stream and… well, I wouldn’t care to be downstream just now.

        1. But you see, I’m very conservative, live happily in flyover, have never left the United States, and haven’t had the fanciest education. I’m necessarily illiterate and probably mute. Ignoring my tastes is not ignoring any part of the reading public, because I’m not in the reading public.

          Okay, I’ll cop to poor, and with a very tight budget for fiction.

          1. “Flyover People Rubes don’t read — and we’ve got the sales figures to prove it!”

            1. The NYC editors who make decisions on who and what to publish have been properly credentialed by all the best schools so of course they are the experts on good literature. They also follow all the best reviews so they know what was most popular last month. How can you possibly suggest that readers don’t care for the taste of what the publishers put out, and that’s why they are staying away in droves? It has to be anything but that.

          2. Used bookstores are salvation!

            But yes. Buying manga because you can’t find the kind of stories in fiction you want doesn’t clue NYC that maybe you want that kind of story without the pictures….

            1. Nah, all that convinces them to do is roll hard Left with the locally grown picture-stories. ^_^

      1. “Drip.. drip..drip… is the sound of a tiny leak in the dam.”

        I am from the Sacramento area, and thus paid close attention to what was happening with the Oroville Dam. For those who weren’t, what happened is that when the main spillway was opened, a hole developed and put tons of mud, concrete, and other debris in the waterway. This debris blocked up the outlets of the power plant, meaning that it couldn’t be used, and eroded the hillside badly. So the DWR decided to shut the spillway off and use the emergency spillway, which had never been used since the dam was built.

        The emergency spillway wasn’t concreted, despite a recommendation in recent years that it should be. (Gotta save money for the bullet train debacle.) It was bare dirt. When the water started spilling over, it eroded rapidly, prompting the evacuation of over 120,000 people. They had to open up the damaged main spillway and drop the lake by 50 feet lest they actually damage the integrity of the dam itself.

        Sometimes it isn’t drip… drip… drip. Sometimes it’s a matter of design flaws or delayed maintenance, or changes in circumstances that aren’t fixed.

        1. What the F*CK is it with politicians? Why are they so goddamned fond of rail? It isn’t just the Proggies, either. TRUMP is talking about High Speed Rail. Are they sexually excited by trains, for gods’ sake?

          If they would actually put the upkeep into the rail systems they insist on building, that might be tolerable, but they won’t. They’ll neglect maintenance for years – decades – to keep the illusion of not being a money pit. And then the system breaks down and they have to spend buckets to get it running again.

          I saw this with the DC Metro. Washington DC is a media-small Southern city with the Federal Government grafted on. Oh, the Feds give the city transfer payments that supposedly cover what they don’t pay in real estate taxes, but they don’t begin to cover what it costs to live up to Congress’s ideas about what s due the Capitol City. The Metro is a major case in point. It never, NEVER breaks even. It never, EVER came close to the ridership predictions (why would it? Commuting on it is very close to as expensive as running a car, and less convenient by an order of magnitude). It was always Congress’s toy train set. When I lived in DC (for about two decades before 1998) I used the Metro all the time. It was convenient FOR ME. I am not a typical user. It worked FOR ME. WhenI was back in DC last summer (Wife’s medical issues. She’s ok)the Metro was broken. Why? They tried to expand it on the cheap, on top of never having done proper maintenance.


          1. Why are they so goddamned fond of rail?

            Couple reasons. Once fixed, rail stations anchor real estate development, boosting property prices. Bus service, OTOH, is readily adaptable to shifts in demand and population centers — it follows trends where trains drive them.

            Also: trains offer incredibly ample opportunities for graft and corruption. (See above.)

            1. The primary reason is that they offer wonderful opportunities for control, especially as opposed to cars. Prevents serfs from fleeing the fief — or militia from rallying between cities.

              1. yeah, all public transit is like that, but especially in L.A…. esp since they aimed all the light rail to go into and then out of downtown when most of the people don’t need to go downtown at all, they need a giant light rail beltway basically.

                1. Yes. A loop connecting the spokes of the D.C. Metro would have made it oh-so-much more useful.

                  But when you have to go into the city center to get to the other end of the line that goes by your house…

            2. I would suggest that trains anchor City Planning, too. And the Politicians (especially the Progs, but all of them, for the most part) love them some City Planning. Even when the opportunities for graft are minimal. City Planning creates such great opportunities for big Press Conference announcements, and ribbon cutting ceremonies, and similar bushwa.

              Some levels of urban planning are desirable; it’s good to have functional sewers, water treatment, and street lights. Beyond that it’s mostly an attempt by other side boring functionaries to jazz up their jobs.

                  1. He very likely may have never RIDDEN on one, but a businessman of his stature, with a finger in as many pies as he has, I’m sure he has used them at some point.

          2. But, Dagny Taggart!

            But seriously, I’m not sure why pols are so fixated on giving a 19th-Century answer to a 21st-Century problem. If I were to hazard a guess, it would be about *control*. Can’t have the proles just wandering off to wherever they desire at whim, after all.

            And graft, of course.

          3. Control.

            A lot of politicians are *very* uneasy with the idea that people can just get in their cars and drive wherever, whenever they want.

            With rail, *they* control the means of transportation, both from ticketing and routing access through choke points.

            Heck, several Soviet defectors wrote about that in their autobiographies. Some of them never did get used to the idea they could just up and GO when the mood hit.

            “As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.” Or something like that.

              1. Has anyone other than myself noticed that totalitarian governments seem to understand the power of really spiffy uniform?

          4. Why are they so goddamned fond of rail?

            In theory, on paper, it’s an awesome way to fix something that pisses a ton of people off: traffic, specifically Rush Hour(s).

            Bunch of people want to go from A to B; so you give them an effective ride for cheap.

            In real life, not everybody lives in the same area, they don’t work at the same area, there’s never enough freaking parking at either end, and the transit time/delays suck.

            If you make it so that they stop at all the central areas at ARrival and Departure, it’s slower and more annoying….

            Oh, and for safety, they can’t even go car speeds most of the time.

            1. For instance:

              I was applying for a job that a headhunter contacted me about. it is across town

              I could take light rail to the job. it would take just as long as driving in *heavy traffic* would.

              (mind you, i likely still would because it would be cheaper and well, not dealing with traffic…)

              1. *nod* My husband flew into SeaTac and took a train over to the dry side– even though the timing worked out perfect as far as landing, grabbing a lift to the train station and buying a ticket, I could have at least in theory gone over and picked him up and gotten home earlier than we did, if I had started driving when he landed.

                It was just less of a bother, and I didn’t have to go over a snow covered pass. 😀

          5. Some comments:

            The dream of freight rail is to keep trucks off the road. The dream of passenger rail is to keep cars off the road. That’s how it starts. What happens next is a failure to examine why railroads had problems turning a profit with freight and passenger lines. Off the top of my head I know of one profitable freight railway, and it hauls kaolin. There may be others. I know of one owned by the State of Georgia with the specific idea to transport freight west from Savannah because they believed it was cheaper than the necessary highway upgrades and maintenance to handle truck traffic. Whether that’s profitable I can’t say, but there the question is whether a loss on that rail line would be less than required expenditures on affected highways.

            Surprisingly, not all proponents of rail are in densely packed urban areas, where passenger rail makes economic sense. I’ve talked with rural supporters not only supported rail, but hoped to bringing back river traffic. Never once did they ask why these failed in the first place.

            In short, it’s a good idea on paper if you never address why it’s difficult for them to make money. Most rail supporters take it as an article of faith that if you build it, they will use it, and that’s not necessarily so.

            1. “Most rail supporters take it as an article of faith that if you build it, they will use it, ”

              Most rail supporters also believe and act on the idea that by making cars more expensive and inconvenient to operate you’ll use it.

            2. I am actually under the impression that freight rail in the United States is actually a pretty well established and worthwhile industry. Union Pacific and BNSF were profitable last few years at least. The US rail industry is targeted for freight and as such high speed passenger rail on most existing right of ways is at best going to be slow. More likely it will not be plausible and fought tooth and nail to prevent the timing of freight rail to be bounced around by passenger cars running fast or slow. For stuff like transporting cars, coal, etc rail will be more efficient than the requisite number of trucks. I know Boeing in Seattle has to run rail to the factory, and Kia was getting a spur to ship their vehicles.

            3. > difficult for them to make money

              Because if you ship by truck, you have to load your cargo onto a truck at your end, and someone has to unload it at the other end.

              If you ship by rail, someone has to load your cargo onto a truck at your end, and then it goes to a warehouse or transit center, where union goons unload it for inflated charges, and then you pay warehousing, even if your cargo never touches the floor. And then the clerks have to be paid, to handle the paperwork because the Federally-controlled shipping rates are different between truck and train. And then the train takes it to another warehouse, where it’s unloaded from the freight car, warehoused, loaded onto another truck, and then unloaded at the other end.

              I used to ship a fair amount of stuff, and it was often cheaper to send a 500 pund crate by freakin’ AIRPLANE than by train. Well, before 9/11, anyway, when most of the airlines decided they didn’t want to deal with individual shippers any more. Now most of them want you to go through a “broker” who adds a 10-15% charge, plus another 10-15% to send his truck out to you, since most airports won’t allow privately owned vehicles into the cargo areas any more.

              Rail might well BE cheaper than trucking, but they don’t exist on their own; all forms of transportation are buried under mountains of Federal regulation that distorts their cost so much the underlying cost is almost irrelevant.

            4. Per the guys who use to use rail for freight– Stupid People Tricks pretty much shoved them into trucks.

              Short version he gave me is they gave human carrying trains priority, and then put a bunch of safety restrictions on them– the stuff that’s safe when you’re hauling hay bales is dangerous when it’s a passenger train.

              And giving funding priority to human-hauling means that the offloading end is focused in…downtown Big City. NOT a good place for freight.

              If they’d focus on using trains to replace freights, those you can organize trucking for, each box doesn’t want to go to a totally different place and you can dissolve the freight box car into trucks and then dissolve those into different delivery points.

              Freight trains, you can actually manage the way they want to manage human traffic.

              1. Freight actually worked quiet well on trains, long haul freight at least. many trucks used to be set up where their “box” was actually a freight car. It was loaded at the factory/mill/farm, and then driven to the freight yard. There the entire box was lifted off the truck,not unloaded,

                1. Aargh! wordpress cut me off and posted mid-comment!

                  then placed on the railcar. At the other end the box was removed from the railcar and placed on another truck, and delivered wherever it needed to be. No loading or unloading, minimal fuss, and that mechanical. Unfortunately, as you stated, regulations did away with the convience of rail freight, and then many of the freight lines were torn up and made into bike paths.

            5. The Metro (DC) might have had a much larger ridership, except they figured the prices+parking fees out so tightly that you needed to be familiar with actual per diem expenses for running your car (as opposed to what the government would allow you to expense) to see that it made sense. Since few people looked at it that closely, it looked MORE expensive to take the Metro.


              I remember a REASON article that claimed (and REASON is usually pretty got on these things) that the country had a first rate freight rail system, and that that was one of the major problem with trying to build a better passenger rail system; doing so would interfere with the freight system without meeting a need the public seemed to feel. A d the result would be unlikely to be good enough to attract ridership that wasn’t already primed.

              In densely packed urban areas you run into the constant problem of people who seldom ride who are somehow deeply emotionally invested in cheap fares. So every fare hike is a fight, all out of proportion to the number of people actually affected, always gets approves years after it was financially necessary to maintain the system, and so on.

            6. A couple of decades ago I read a very convincing analysis of rail vs over the road trucking that argued the reason rail wasn’t more profitable was because it was invented first. It therefore had accumulated far more government regulatory barnacles. If rail companies had the same freedom to change prices to meet demand as trucking then rail would dominate.

              1. And according to “The Myth of the Robber Barons” (I highly recommend the book, by the way) a lot of those regulations are the result of Congress thinking that they needed to subsidize railroad building — and when railroads over-extended themselves into unpopulated areas (because the incentives were designed to build the railroads fast), they hurt for ridership and shipping…and so tried to implement policies that would attempt to keep them from facing bankruptcy — but which the public considered unfair.

                There’s an interesting counter-example to this method of railway building. I can’t remember the name off the top of my head, but they didn’t get Congressional funding; they built a little bit at a time, and then encouraged settlements at the end-points by providing discounts to farmers who settled the areas; when they became trans-continental (proving that it’s possible even without subsidies) they provided discounts for Asian shipping.

                Of course, at this point, Congress was determined to reign in the rogue rail companies, and banned these discounts (which ruined the Asian trade for the northern line). It’s interesting to note that the northern line was hit hard by “discount discrimination” — the railroad companies hated the competition, so they would either refuse discounts, or perhaps even charge a little more, for supplies that the northern line needed shipped — but even then, the northern line considered it more important to be able to offer discounts, than to have “fair” costs for their own shipping needs….

          6. I would dearly love a high-speed rail line that went from L.A. to S.F. to Sacramento to Ashland/Medford to Eugene to Portland to Seattle (as an alternative to planes). However, I had to vote against the high-speed rail when California proposed it because I knew they were going to mess it up—that is, overspend, route badly, too many stops, overspend, delay, and oh yes, overspend. The thing is billions over budget and there is no completed route yet.

              1. That’s pretty much the way I think of airports. The endpoints are from a place I don’t want to go to a place I don’t want to go.

                And unless you live at an airport, you still have to pay for a car to get you there, and to get you to your destination, whether it’s yours or rented.

                1. I live near Sacramento, and the kids’ grandma lives near Eugene. I’ve taken the Coast Starlight up and it’s a reasonable form of travel, much nicer than flying—but I wouldn’t mind if the time on the train were sharply curtailed. (Flying, aside from all of the issues of being packed in like sardines and no storage, isn’t even direct between the two cities.)

                1. heck it took them twice as long as scheduled to build half of the gold line extension they were promising…

                  Union labor doncha know!

            1. Yep, same with rail between the Springs and Denver. Would have saved us moving. But you know, the funny thing is railways are always profitable when private and a big money loss when public. Go figure.

              1. For new rail services it is because private industry usually doesn’t built that which it expects to lose money on.For existing rail service that started private and ended up public, that’s because when they start losing money and “somebody” decides the service is too vital to be abandoned, it eventually gets taken over directly by the government. There may be an intermediate stage at which government subsidizes the operation, but it never seems to last too long – that model annoys too many from all over the political spectrum. In all cases, public operation usually means greater union-induced craziness, which adds costs.

                In the case of Colorado Springs-Denver service, IIRC part of the high projected startup costs is addressing a government-induced problem in the existing railroad network. A couple decades back Colorado Springs pushed the railroads to consolidate on one rail line through town, which makes it a bottleneck in regular freight operation, let alone with the addition of passenger service.

                1. Sometimes private becomes unprofitable, though, because government already takes control over it, even though it is nominally privately owned.

                  It is my understanding, for example, that the New York Subway system used to be profitable and privately owned, but due to inflation (and other issues), the owners needed to raise ticket prices. The City wouldn’t let them, though, which eventually forced the private owners to sell their system to the city. Ironically, shortly afterward, the City raised prices. The system was well-built enough, though, that it’s taken decades to get into the dilapidated state it’s in now…

            1. “Public transit takes you from place where you are not, to place you do not wish to be, at an inconvenient time, for a fee. And you get to meet frighteningly interesting people in the process.”

              (Wish I could recall the source to give proper credit. Saw that over a decade ago somewhere.)

              1. “This seat has chewing gum stuck all over it, but at least it’s not wet with urine like the last one…”

                Screeching children and diseased coughing, no extra charge.

          7. “What the F*CK is it with politicians? Why are they so goddamned fond of rail?”

            Some of them aren’t. I’d have to dig to get a list of examples, but it seems every few months there’s another story in Trains magazine about yet another state or town trying to force a railroad to abandon in order to convert the right-of-way into a trail. A bit less frequently, they don’t want an industrial area too near their commercial redevelopment, so seek ways to shut down the railroad and its customers.

            Look also at Florida’s east coast, where a number of local communities and politicians have been fighting the efforts of the Florida East Coast Railway to upgrade the existing rail line north of Miami and operate high speed passenger trains on it. There are those who are just opposed because they don’t want more frequent/faster trains running through town and claim it is unsafe. There are liberals who are opposed because they believe it will be profitable, and those profits will accrue to private industry, rather than being used to subsidize other, less-profitable routes in Florida. There are conservatives who are opposed because they believe it will be popular but not profitable, leading to public demands that it be subsidized with public funds.

            1. Psst, Sean, you’re talking about real actual rail, which is dirty, and noisy, and isn’t Done Right, by The Right people In Charge.

              So of course they want to kill it, while also firmly believing that sleek ultramodern bullet trains “Of the future!” will be perfect, when they do ’em.

              1. Once upon a time a rail head was a great municipal treasure, a symbol of pride and an emblem of modernity and industry for a town. They built great cathedrals to celebrate this wealth and its demonstration of their power.

                It was rail that united this great country, bringing cattle and grain and ore from the West and in return delivering food, supplies and Sears Roebuck throughout the land. It was a train that formed Abe Lincoln’s funeral procession — a fitting memorial.

                Politicians are not all that much for keeping up with the times so much as they are big on repackaging old dreams.

                  1. Good old Lightfoot. I remember taking a train ride in my long past youth (three I think I was). I decided to check out how much it would cost for a trip from Toronto to Vancouver by train. It’s cheaper to fly believe it or not, return trip by flight is less than one way by train. Still, the trains are what united the coasts for both Canada and the United States.

                  2. Love that song. I have two versions memorized.

                    I enjoy German rail travel, but 1) in first class or 2) second class light traffic route. Granted, knowing the language and how the train system more-or-less works is a wee bit important once you get off the ICE-type lines. (“Hmm, is this the moderately slow, the regional, or the stops-at-every-pair-of-houses-with-mailbox local?”)

                1. Indeed – I touched on this in some of my recent books. The railway in the trans-Mississippi West was the internet of the late 19th century. There were all kinds of miracles become every-day through the arrival of the railway.

                  Including edible food along the way,

                  1. Including edible food along the way,

                    Edible food along the way,?

                    Shucks, they made a whole dang movie celebratin’ thet!

                    1. *giggle*
                      Yes, i know – but the real story was SOOO much more complicated and interesting … (That movie was about the last publicity-gasp about the Fred Harvey Company.)

        2. The next time they have to open the spillway gates on the dam near Flat State U, the feds will have to use dynamite, or so I’ve been told. Apparently the gates got bunged up the last time they were opened, and then jammed shut. On the gripping hand, as fast as that reservoir is silting up, all that will likely happen is a spectacular waterfall because there will be no room for water in the reservoir, so why bother?

        3. So, pretty much the same situation as the dikes and seawalls in Louisiana a while back.

          “We diverted the allocated funding to other things and ignored the problem. Now bail us out of trouble with Other People’s Money! Now!”

          1. Doesn’t help that new levees and walls just fall over after completion. So even newer works are no damned good. The lawsuit of the Lower 9th Ward People v. the State and Corp of Engineers, if won, would likely have done them little good, the second breach in the levee system after Katrina was in a new work, finished maybe a year before and that neighborhood was middle-upper middle class.

        4. The emergency spillway was not bare dirt. It was covered in trees and a freaking power transmission line (that they had to remove before it could be used). That is why it failed and they nearly lost the dam.

          1. In terms of comparative strengths, “covered in greenery” and “bare dirt” are roughly equivalent when compared to “covered in concrete” or “bedrock.”

            1. Not true. The trees cause turbulence, which causes rapid erosion that moves upstream, eventually resulting in the hillside giving way when it reaches the weir that is controlling the amount of water going down the spillway. In this case eventually would have been a matter of hours if they had not opened the main spillway again and accepted the damage to it needed to drop the water level.

        5. Actually, the more disturbing item I saw in that case was that the Folsom Dam was given money from the Stimulus because it was ‘getting long in the tooth’ (I don’t remember the exact terminology used but it was nowhere near as critical as some previous reports had the Oroville dam. But one was in blue, one red. Guess where money went. Just reminds me of how Brewer had to go hat in hand to get federal cash on the tarmac, and the media blew it out as if she had attacked him. Or IIRC 30% Texas on fire and not worth state of emergency, or funds from feds.

          1. To be fair, Folsom already has had one gate failure (1995) and would have a massive impact if it were to break (the entire metropolitan area of Sacramento under water, and no, not just the politicians at the Capitol.) But ignoring Oroville is unconscionable.

          2. Well, remember, according to FEMA and the Small Business Loan folks, domestic cattle and horses are pets (2006 fires up here).

  6. “. . .banned by the New York publishing establishment is a badge of honor. . .”

    Almost like the saying the last several years, “if you aren’t a watch list yet, you are doing something wrong.”

    1. “. . .banned by the New York publishing establishment is a badge of honor. . .”

      Kinda like how a couple aging awards now signal “Here be dreckons.”?

          1. I am picturing a dumbfounded creature that has evidently just made the mistake of flaming… in an ammunition dump, and has somehow survived, but just barely.

            1. The image that came to mind was a Wile E. Coyote type post gadget explosion. I giggled.

        1. Scalzion – Elementary particle of arrogance.

          Leckion – Elementary particle of overratedness.

          Clampion – Elementary particle of trolling.

          1. Elementary particle of unskilled boring trolling, maybe.

            Being an excellent troll is like being an excellent comedian.

            You’ve got to keep coming up with new material. You’ve got to watch your audience. You’ve got to think quickly when your material doesn’t work. You’ve got to keep finding the courage to come onto stage. You can’t get yourself banned from every available venue.

            Kratman, Milo, and Socrates are better examples. Even if Kratman isn’t purely trolling, and Socrates got himself shut down by a harsh critical reception.

            1. We could start with E— Th— as the dishonorary first “winner.” Bad writing, gooey and silly message, and bad cover art.

              Note to newcomers: the author of the book entitled Empr-ss Th-r-s- rabidly defends said book whenever it is is criticized, and it is so infamous, that a lot of people fudge the title in order to discourage unwanted attention.

              1. Teresa II: the alien invasion arrives that her AI was the precursor for, she forces everyone to surrender, and a resistance to her rule forms

                    1. … who allowed herself to be taken over by an alien AI and subjugated the planet

                      That’s my version of the story, at least.

              2. Merciful $DEITY. Just reading the TVTropes entry on it is enough to convince me I don’t want to touch it with a twenty nine and a half foot pole.

                1. Now I wish I could find the last (recent) mention of that.. thing. Empress Thorazine? (But if one reads it, who needs the prescription? The character, the author, or the reader?)

          1. The Hugos and Nebulas aren’t enough?
            * ponders * ‘There’s always another bottom below’

            I see. If this is done, you must maintain proper control lest it get corrupted as the Razzie has, where Dinesh D’Souza’s documentary ‘Hillary’s America: The Secret History Of The Democratic Party’ won as a political statement attempting to denounce it.

            1. They’ve been like that for a while. Bush and Co got nominations for their “roles” in Michael Moore’s “documentary” a decade ago.

  7. It is doubly hard for us immigrants I think, isnt it? Maybe as a group we are more easily cowed and intimidated and silenced – might be why the Left wants masses of illegals.
    I’m speaking as someone who is still in the Conservative Closet, though I try to do what I can under my nom de guerre.
    I’m saying that because I understand how hard it must have been for you to come out. I really admire that.

  8. Question for Sarah on Kindle Unlimited. What does the author get? I read your first Dyce novel on KU, grabbed the second one just now. Am I hurting the author by doing this or is it a matter of getting more people to read a “free” book for a smaller amount than a full purchase?

    1. Author gets a fee, based in part (IIRC) on how many pages were read.

      I leave it to others to convey just how big a fee (compared to author’s cut of a book bought) and the terms and circumstances.

      ProTip: even if you cannot afford to purchase (we’ve all been there; it’s a horrid place with no service, poor food and drafty dank accommodations) you can leave a glowing (either from the halo of your praise or the nuclear waste of your disdain) review on Amazon and authors like that sort of thing.

    2. a little let than a cent per “normalized” page.
      It’s about half what I get from the sale, but as a KULL reader myself, I pick books up I’d never otherwise try, so the author gets more than they’d otherwise get, is my guess.
      And we know what the last eight years have been, which is why I’m a KULL subscriber too. When I have a little more money, I’ll start buying.
      If I read something on KULL and REALLY like it, then I buy more.

    3. I’m not Sarah (but I am published on KU). The author income per borrow is a complicated equation that works out to about half a cent per page read, but how pages are counted is not based on the paper book’s number of pages – usually runs longer.

      That said, any money to the author is money to the author! Some money is better than no money, and the act of borrowing helps the sales rank & discoverability algorithms just like a sale does, while the reader enjoying a story is always a good thing. The logic behind getting into KU, and into libraries, is that not everybody has the spare cash to buy all the books they want – but they may buy more author books later, or the same book if they like it, or better yet, tell people that they enjoyed this book (by word of mouth or Amazon review) and encourage other people to buy the book.

      So the best way for you to read the book is.. however you enjoy it most. Especially if you come back later for more. IF you want to help over and above that, there’s always tipping the author by leaving an honest review. (Or, as Sarah might point out, the tip jar here on her blog.)

      1. It is also complicated by the fact that most authors do not price their books per page. If you have a 100 page book for $4.99 you are not going to be be nearly as happy with the pay per page revenue from KU as you are if you have a 450 page book that you price at $4.99 per page.

        Question: if a KU reader decides they want to reread the book 8 months later, when the sequel comes out, doesn’t the author get paid again? This might make KU even more enticing to authors of long running series.

        1. No, only the first time, and it only counts up to the maximum page read when you next sync. Otherwise it could be abused by scammers re-reading their books over and over again.

            1. I wondered about that, it would be a much better deal for authors if it counted rereads; on the other hand Amazon is a business, they exist to make a profit, and I would guess it balances out with getting paid for those who would have never read your book at all if they had to pay for it.

              I wonder how many people try and scam Amazon by having friends pick up their books in KU and flip through all the pages? Negligible I’m sure, but if they paid for rereads I have little doubt some genius would design an app that spent all day flipping pages.

              1. Already happened. There are bots that do it. And if you get picked as a “prawn” — that is, another book they choose to try to distract from what it’s actually doing — well, there are authors who have been delisted from Amazon on charges of that.

            2. Returning and re-borrowing, I’m not so sure about, but I recall the scam was fake accounts borrowing the book (once) and jumping to the end to score the full read. (One of the reasons the TOC has to be in the front these days.) If the scam could have worked with multiple re-borrows, you would have seen the process repeated multiple times a day, rather than with multiple accounts.

              I do know they can’t tell which individual pages have been read, and only count the furthest point. (The same thing that gets stored when you sync your Kindle).

    4. If you read those novels like I did, she’ll end up getting more– I re-read them every month or so until I gave my copies to my sister.

    5. Amazon funds a money pot that all KU page turn payments come out of. The number of posted works and the number of page turns varies from month to month, so the payment per page thus jumps around to some extent. It’s impossible to do precise math that applies to anything beyond the current month.

      What I found a more useful metric was what percentage of my total Kindle revenues were from page turns vs. conventional ebook single-copy sales. I was expecting KU to generate 15%-20%. Instead it generates (for me; YMWV) about 40%-45%. I found that nothing short of astonishing.

      As others here have said, some of those KU page turns were doubtless from people who didn’t know me and wanted to try a book of mine without being out the cover price. I consider that “free money” and don’t feel it counts against conventional sales. Several people, in fact, told me that they turned around and bought the book/books conventionally so that it would be in their Kindle library permanently.

      I consider KU a huge win all the way around, and yet another sea change that will ultimately knock Manhattan out of the driver’s seat for genre fiction publishing.

      1. Thanks for all the replies. Good to know that you are getting something. I do try to leave reviews.

        I agree with the idea that someone might try an author they’ve not heard of and would be unwilling to pay outright for. I just downloaded eight or nine books from unknown (to me) authors for a vacation I’m headed out on in a couple weeks. If I like them they stay in the rotation. I’ve found a couple on this page as well who I now follow so hopefully that’s more people making at least a bit of a living from entertaining me.

  9. I’ve been reading Dikötter’s books about Mao’s China and I keep glancing at the TV and glancing at the book and glancing at the newspaper and glancing at the book… And boy I do not like what I’m seeing. And then I want to grab a clue-by-four and whap the pink-hatted twits and their “allies” and ilk and yell “the last time you tried this 45 million people died!” And I have yet to get to the book about Cultural Revolution.

    I went indie after lurking around the edges, reading and observing, and deciding that between being cross-genre and monarcho-libertarian*, the Cat stories would never find a publisher.

    I suspect my coworkers have figured out that I’m a socially and fiscally conservative. Otherwise I tend to keep quiet, in part because I know some of my coworkers lean Progressive and the teachers’ work room is not the place for that kind of fight. And I suspect the protective-reticence I picked up in grad school is still with me.

    *You have a better name for Rada Ni Drako’s economic and social philosophy? I haven’t come up with one. She’s seriously Odd.

    1. Alma, that’s what Fuse in the Darkship books ends up as. Yeah, he’s all for more freedom to the people, but he has a son (long story) and by gum his sun is going to inherit his position.

      1. Oh good. that character, I swear… I just junked a perfectly good book chapter because she planted fists on hips and said, “No. Absolutely not. That’s you, not me. Junk it.” What’s a poor author to do?

    2. I read portions of Chung and Halliday’s Mao: The Unknown story.

      Took me from mildly anticommunist, to rabidly militantly anticommunist.

      1. One of my wife’s uncles (by marriage) graduated from medical school in southern California around 1948. Figured he ought to spend some time doing something worthwhile, and went to China to help the country pull itself up after WW2. (Like most of my in-laws, he was American-born Chinese.)

        He returned to the U.S. in the late 80s, having survived the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution (in part, as a western-trained physician, by switching to eastern herbal medicine). Lots of stories, of increasing ick/horrific content.

        Maoist Communism has no redeeming qualities as far as I can tell.

        1. Well, like most murderous Communist Dictator bastards, Mao had/has good press among the useful idiots of the West. Remember that one of Former President Obama’s advisers had a hip Mao poster in her house?
          I once had a discussion with a Romanian* friend on who was the worst genocidal dictator of the 20th century. She picked Mao, I picked Pol Pot. Mao had sheer numbers, but Pol Pot had a higher percentage.
          Either way, Communism has a way of producing some murdering bastards.

          *technically Moldavian, so her family missed all the nasty times with the end of Ceauşescu. Another Romanian friend did not, and has some pretty harrowing tales.

          1. ‘Redeeming’ is too strong a word.

            ‘Positive’ might be acceptable.

  10. The people who preach to you of inclusiveness and love (SF is “love” apparently);

    Meh. For such people everything is Love including their compulsion to reeducate you or even, if necessary, eliminate you to save you from the burden of your fear that somebody will reeducate or eliminate you.

    They’re only thinking of you.

    1. Just like proper principles of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity had to be instilled by Terror…

    1. I dearly miss filking. Seems to have died off at the few cons I’m able to attend.

      1. I have a friend who filks. She’s quite good. Though I am slightly biased in that regard.

    2. “I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept people like me as a member.”

      – Groucho Marx

      1. The state of filk is interesting. Filk tracks exist and are largely concerts of musicians from various fandoms, actual musical numbers by Broadwaty fans, or comedy/folk musicians who do some sf/f material. Since the concert tracks last all day and since some fandoms are getting old, the traditional night filling sessions are not quite as vibrant and interesting, and there can be less tolerance for non-concert quality filkers.

        But then again, it can be awesome.

        With the decentralization of fandoms and conventions, you get a lot of online filking or spontaneous reinvention of filk by people who know it not.

        My Little Pony fandom has orchestral heavy metal power ballads as a minor category of its filk. Minor. People were putting out hundreds or even thousands of new original musical pieces every week, at the height of MLP popularity.

        You cannot really define or contain filk anymore, which is inspiring and fun and bizarre.

        1. > My Little Pony fandom has orchestral heavy metal power ballads as a minor category of its filk.

          That can’t be any crazier than Croatian cellists doing AC/DC songs…

  11. This post hit a note because I considered self-censoring myself to make a sale. Probably won’t, anyway, but it’s that crime thriller short story, and I could see a possibly interested editor doing a search, and losing a sale because I’m not the “right” sort of writer for them. I was going to start test sketches to see how a political cartoon book would work out, but got side tracked due to real life, and maybe a feeling that it could kill that sale.

    Obviously there’s a logical disconnect. A short story doesn’t have the payout of a book, though I was hoping it would serve as advertisement if it sold (and thinking of cover revisions took up more time than I liked). And I’ve told myself that I need to write some others in the same vein to have an indie anthology after the story is likely rejected. And yet, there’s still that feeling of not quite holding my peace, but not going out of my way to knock off chips on shoulders (hey, it happens). It’s an irrational feeling, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist in the background.

    The interesting thing is that if I had an anthology in mind I wouldn’t be bothered by that at all, because it would go indie. The only reason I submitted it anywhere was because I hadn’t done such in a long time and thought “Why not?” But that very act of putting something before traditional publishing was enough to trigger the thought that maybe I ought to censor myself just a little.

    1. I realized that I’m stabbing a sacred cow of sorts with the next-plus-one Cat book. A minor nasty is a Holocaust survivor. A little bit of me did a double take during the most recent re-read and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, can you do this?” The rest of me thought, “Yes, because he is a human, and he is being a viscous jerk to someone who was also just trying to survive.”

      1. A minor nasty is a Holocaust survivor …, and he is being a viscous jerk

        A: you’re basing a character on George “da kapo” Soros?

        B: a bit of a thicky, is he? (Darn you, Autocorrect!)

        Remember: Judge Posner is a moron.

        1. No, because when I wrote this (2010 or so), Soros had not really emerged from the shadows, unless you remembered him as the man who broke the Pound and Ruble. He is based on someone else I crossed paths with tangentially, who had decided that [individual] was responsible for [evil thing] when actually [individual] had only been a neutral bystander.

          1. Oh. I became aware of Soros during the Clinton Administration, IIRC, but I was much more political then and reading very broadly. David Horowitz (and his followers) can really stoke concern.

            1. iirc it was then I too first came to be aware of the slimeball (with apologies to actual slime balls). Then about his backing revolutions in Serbia, Georgia etc at the turn of the century

      2. It’s been Holy Writ for a while that all people ever put in any kind of ‘camp’ for any reason (excepting, of course anything that happened in a Communist country, ever) are morally equal to the victims of the Holocaust, who are of course all pathetic innocents.

        I often wonder how the people who peddle this crap reconcile it with the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

        Hint to future Arab strategists; picking on a people descended from those tough enough to survive the German death camps and then decades of vicious Islamic idiocy is a recipe for an unpleasant war-to-the-knife. They started out hard as nails, and you never gave them ay time to get soft.

      3. I’m working on a story in which a Faerie navy used to have both male and female sailors and now is pretty much all male.

        There was a disenchantment arms race, you see, and strength became important as a substitute for spells. (Along with things like sails of linen, not cobweb; ships built of wood, not conjured from eggshells or flowers; ropes to haul the sails up because you did not conjure them in place, etc.)

      4. Ugh. As long as the villain has reasonable reasoning and rationale it shouldn’t matter what checkboxes he checks. I cannot stand the argument people bring that if someone is a protected class, they can never be shown to be anything less than a paragon of morality

        1. Depends on your definition of protected class that day; the latest anti-Semitism by the Left is to dismiss Holocaust survivors because they have “white privilege.”

    2. > self-censoring

      Snag a copy of L. Neil Smith’s “The Nagasaki Vector.” Then consider that Smith *still* has a sizeable following despite having written some real stinkers since…

      If nothing else, the book is ROFL funny. I think I permanently injured some internal organs laughing about the Feds’ assassination of a comedian named Blocky Yocks…

    3. I self-censored myself to write for White Wolf because the sci fi game i was on had the typical 90s conceit of SF RPGs- first the United States gets smashed/turns totalitarian/breaks up/etc…

        1. any article that starts with the lie that red states get twice as much tax money, i disregard.

          1. Only one side has to believe a lie to act on it. And right now, the Left in this country is surely working on splitting it.

            1. don’t know how they will do it , even if they get to keep the military gear by taxes paid, they won’t have the personnel to man it…. oh right, i guess they will import immigrants or be forced to use conscription

              oh, that’s right, they honestly believe they don’t NEED a military…

                1. they are likely to find that not having one does, too

                  (and they are likely to find Boeing and Lockheed not surviving without those either)

            2. California imports 33% of their electricity. Of that, only 35% comes from the NorthWet, who might want to go with them. Thus California starts off with a bit over a 20% electricity shortfall if the US cuts off power to an independent Californistan.

              The Colorado River Aqueduct, which supplies 18 million people in Southern California with water starts at Lake Havasu, in Arizona. The Colorado also supplies water to the farming valleys in southeastern California. Disrupting pumping operations along the state border that are used for irrigation is a trivial matter to accomplish. California immediately ceases to be an exporter of food, even if they say “Screw the smelt!” and pump like mad to supply the Central Valley.

              The people in favor of breaking away from the US don’t understand the underlying infrastructure. They flip a switch and light magically appears. They turn a faucet and water magically appears. Food comes from a grocery store, even if that grocery store is a Whole Foods. They don’t understand that the way of life they have is fragile; mostly built and maintained by Deplorables.

                1. According to Wiki, the California National Guard stands 23K strong (largely funded by Federal government, so loyalty may be slightly divided.)

                  “The California National Guard is a federally funded California military force, part of the National Guard of the United States. It comprises both Army and Air National Guard components and is the largest national guard force in the United States with a total authorized strength of 22,900 soldiers and airmen.”

                  For purpose of comparison I checked the Wiki entry for the Texas National Guard [org/wiki/Texas_Military_Forces] and found … no numbers but, assuming a ratio of 1 ranger = 1 riot I would venture to say Texas alone could take out California’s military — especially when you consider the ratio of retired but functional veterans in Texas to those in California likely approaches infinity.

                  “The Texas Military Forces is the three-branch military of the U.S. state of Texas. It is composed of the Texas Army National Guard, the Texas Air National Guard, and the Texas State Guard. All three branches are administered by the state adjutant general, an appointee of the Texas governor, and fall under the command of the governor. (The Army and Air National Guards are under the command of the Governor, unless the President of the United States activates the Guard into federal service by executive order. As for the Texas State Guard, the governor of Texas has sole control over this force.)”

                  1. My point is, mos of the non-Naional guard military in CA is not *from* ca, and if CA secedes, they go away. (or more liely than not, they are all issued m4 carbines to enforce the borders of US Federal land….)

                    1. No argument there — I suspect the “Militia” movements in California can assemble larger, better armed forces than what the state could muster in event of a contested secession.

                      Apparently the Californians avid for seceding haven’t figured out the imbalance between armed military forces and a powerful hashtag. They’re confident that their command of the high ground of Twitter-trolling and vicious snark will enable them to defeat armed troops with in-depth knowledge of terrain and infrastructure.

                    2. I find it interesting that the same people California residents who want California to secede from the US, are the same people who are dead set against splitting California into two states.

                    3. Just instruct the Treasury to cut all California banks out of the system.

                      Then have the NAPs block all internet traffic to or from the state.

                      Leave the legislooters in Sacramento to face the mobs for a few days, then tell them you’re ready to accept their surrender.

                    4. The military leaves… or defends against the Country of California.
                      The water stops flowing in.
                      The electricity stops flowing in.
                      The money stops flowing, even where the electricity is still on.

                      I wonder about fuel, and air/sea terminals as well.

                      Yeah, BIG win for them.

                    5. The central valley and most eastern counties vote to secede from CA. The U.S. backs East California. The coastal strip later comes back to the union and tries to act like its all okay that they made their political point and can they please have East California back…

                      (by the way, what little water CA as, is all in what would be East California…)

              1. The people in favor of breaking away from the US … don’t understand that the way of life they have is fragile; mostly built and maintained by Deplorables.

                That was true of the last attempt at secession and it didn’t deter them.

                Is there any evidence of the Calexiters knowing anything about History, much less having actual understanding of it?

                1. “In all social systems there must be a class to do the menial duties, to perform the drudgery of life. That is, a class requiring but a low order of intellect and but little skill. Its requisites are vigor, docility, fidelity. Such a class you must have, or you would not have that other class which leads progress, civilization, and refinement…in short, your whole hireling class of manual laborers and “operatives,” as you call them, are essentially slaves.”

                  –James Henry Hammond, Senator from South Carolina, 1858, replying to a Senator from New York

                  How quickly the elitists forget…

          2. Ugh. Ya. Because all of that money is solely because of the products produced by their companies and not just because of pass thru or financial power such as wall street in NYC, Shipping from CA, Hollywood’s tax treatment, software’s piracy protection, etc. The assumption that the companies that make the majority of their proceeds by having the benefit of the government (Anyone in defense for instance) won’t have to decide just how much of their company is leaving the coastal enclaves or agriculture and power will still be as easy to get as when they could just sue and get compliant judges.

            Break out the military numbers and also, look at where the money sinks actually are. SS hits red states because people leave the blue states for lower cost of living that is more likely to be available in red states, welfare cases are going to be more in the cities just because of numbers, and in a not insignificant number of red states the fedgov has taken land and that money goes to ‘maintain’ it…or as we saw after the election, support people who will dispense political wisdom if they want.

              1. Last time I looked it was relatively spread as far as bases go. CA, VA, and WA probably tilt those scales vs the three bases I can think of just in OK. Red States also tend to have more interstates so funds go there as well. But ya. Break out what funding is for and the story gets much cloudier.

                1. VA isnt always blue, by any means. Many of CA’s bases have closed.also, most of the *personnel* are from red states, and many of them legally still live and this get paid as if they are in a red state.

                  1. But support and all that goes thru the state. And Navy and Marines still have some good chunks of real estate there. But ya. That canard is basically assuming that all spending is equal and just due to ability rather than differences historically, location wise or other. I think the SocSec and military were the two big drivers of that differential though iirc.

                    1. and i was referring to military bases, not naval. I am pretty sure that Feather was referring to ‘any other military bases’ not naval.

        2. I’m almost tempted to hope that those imbeciles try it. All the productive people in the claimed territory will decamp between two days, and the collapse will be nearly instantaneous.

          I suppose somebody in the Democrat establishment will take them quietly aside and give them a much needed Dutch Uncle talk.

  12. re: “are you so empty, so vacant, so devoid of creativity and joy that all you can do is tear down the designated targets?”

    Yes. Exactly!

  13. I don’t remember being afraid, at least not any more than normal social anxiety type fear, and my case is complicated because the Big Change of 9/11 was at the same time I got out of the valley and found out that not only was I not the only geek, if you got about four thousand folks between 18 and 40 on a ship you’d end up with a big enough group to be CHOOSY about who you associated with! Plus learning enough about a wider range of things to be confident I was right, even when someone else acted like they had better information.

    I do remember the absolute shock the folks I went to high school with demonstrated when they behaved like they always had… and I didn’t behave like I always had.

    I spoke up. I counter-punched. I started demanding sources for claims that went against what I was pretty sure I’d read.

    I got blocked by half the school on Facebook…. (No loss, but amusing!)

  14. Closets are small, dark and dusty. Might as well enjoy the sunshine instead.

  15. I consider myself lucky to have worked at a Barnes & Noble for almost nine years, because I made some good friends, some of whom still interact with me on facebook, but I took years before I could even come out as a conservative without having to endure serious blowback from these same friends. Sounds weird, I know, but that’s how it is when you’re a conservative working in a liberal bubble among liberals who themselves have never once been obliged to work in conservative bubbles, which by and large don’t actually exist outside of political think tanks. Maybe gun shops, I dunno. Never been in one.

    Point is, I have yet to come across a vocally liberal coworker who can even comprehend that she has a bias. For most of the vocal liberals I’ve worked with (and in Southern California, that’s a metric crapton), they don’t even see their worldview as a worldview, as an opinion; it is simply how the world is: conservatives are retarded Nazis and Christians are retarded Nazis, and so talking about them as such isn’t even an act of bias; it’s an expression of nature, as sure and solid and inarguable as basic arithmetic.

    And for conservatives it gets pretty fucking tiring. As much as I hated leaving the place, I don’t miss the constant political mist I had to walk through every single day that was generated by people who have never, ever had to work outside of that bubble.

    That said, there is no finer friend to have than one who is capable of seeing other individuals without letting preconceived notions about politics or religion muddy up the water, and I found a bunch of said wonderful souls even in ol’ liberally bubbled Barnes & Noble.

    So it isn’t hopeless, but the prejudice is there and the fear of what means for one’s employment is fucking real.

    1. This is the major thing I find. I’ve been asked why I didn’t go to Seattle to work, and instead came to the red state in the middle of the country. I’d make more money and have more opportunities they say. I am not very tactful. I don’t play well with others, especially when stupidity is involved. I spent my childhood in the Northeast and it is stifling. I got lucky in that my schooling was private and the only two outright loons were the art teacher and one english teacher who usually wasn’t bad. But I’d be outside of school, or go to family gatherings and my tongue was often bitten. So I’ll take my freedom to speak and the more relaxed atmosphere over the higher wage and restaurants any day.

      But it does tend to spill out. I went to a convention last winter and pretty much all of my panels had copanelists who decided to dive into the political weeds to get their hits to an agreeing crowd. I’ve had threats against my person before, and it does get tough. I do not envy anyone that has to live that daily with no retreat.

    2. …who can even comprehend that she has a bias.

      It was at least ten years ago, possibly longer, that I’d heard of some survey or analysis of the US news media finding that the people involved were 80% or 90% “liberal” and 20% or 10% “conservative” (the numbers might well be off, either way…) And this was greeted with “That’s not a problem. We’re not biased.” Until it was asked if the reverse were the case, then there would also not be a problem? Oh no, THAT would be terrible was the response. That(those) bubble(s)? We’re gonna need a lot more pins.

    3. Sounds weird, I know, but that’s how it is when you’re a conservative working in a liberal bubble among liberals who themselves have never once been obliged to work in conservative bubbles, which by and large don’t actually exist outside of political think tanks. Maybe gun shops, I dunno. Never been in one.

      Depends on what you count as a bubble, I think– there are places where there’s the shared assumption that X is right, and that anyone who disagrees is at best misguided, but there isn’t the same lack of awareness that otherwise decent people can disagree.

  16. All of it begins to make sense, when you consider the Futurians — several of whom went on to become major authors or editors, at the outset of the genre’s rise in a post-WW2 marketplace.

    The Futurians were (by and large) card-carrying Marxists, who thought SF’s explicit purpose was to proselytize Marxist theory to the masses. They were True Believers in the “scientific” central planning of Marxist government. This was a major reason why Sam Moskowitz wanted the Futurians kept out of the first Worldcon — because he didn’t like the idea of the Futurians pushing their politics on the 200 or so attendees.

    And as we all know, nobody is more slavishly devoted to taking over the institutions, than Marxists. It is their top-most objective in any activity. The Futurians literally wanted to own the soul of SF, and they (with their fellow travelers) more or less established the anti-conservative spirit which animates the field to this very day.

    Last year, the VP of SFWA let loose with a quite provocative and telling article, in which she demonstrated — unbidden — the fullness of the rot. She’s since shut down her LiveJournal, but I excerpted some of the salient bits in my own article here.

    Suffice it to say, in the Era of Trump, I expect SF/F to dial the pogroms and the flensing to eleventy. No more Mr. Nice Guy. The unclean will be discovered, and full confessions will be extracted. In order to be allowed to practice in the field, the guilty will be made to do the full round of self-denunciations and also accusations against others. The Cheka will convene (public court most often being held at Pravda 770) and justice will be meted.

    Of course, this isn’t Fred Pohl’s genre anymore. Both Baen and Amazon provide major outlets which do not bend a knee to the Peoples Democratic Socialist Republic of Science Fiction. Nobody working or publishing on the “outside” in such a fashion, will ever win a Hugo or a Nebula. These are the golden totems of he PDSRSF and Hell will freeze over, before the Chekists allow such totems to fall into the hands of rank capitalists.

    The totems are about art/ And as we’ve all been told a million times, art must be political — specifically, left-wing political. You can be an average talent, but stuff your work full of left-wing signalling, and find yourself routinely appearing on the Hugo and Nebula shortlists.

    I talked about the options conservative and libertarian authors have. Each of us must decade what we’re comfortable with. For most, I think, it’s a slow transition. Because we come into the field, not knowing the field’s history or its character. We learn over time. We experience — as proles — the tender mercies of both the Outer Party, and the Inner Party. We watch as other proles around us, desperately try to climb the system. Stepping on the heads on others.

    For me, my ultimate “Fuck this shit!” moment, came somewhere around 2012-2013. From 2007 to 2012 I still wanted to believe. I knew there were some very bad apples in the field — especially at the gaudy, corrupt Palace of TOR — but I wasn’t yet convinced that the rot went straight to the heartwood.

    After 2012 and especially 2013, I became convinced.

    And decided to openly declare for the conservative/libertarian Desperados.

    It’s not an easy life. But it is an honest one. And it is free.

  17. One of my favorite historical quotes seems most apropos to today’s topic:

    “And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling in terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand? […] The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin’s thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt!” —Alexander Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago

    This! This is what ultimately results when you let fear rule your actions.

    1. Many American progressives continue to be baffled why any “sane” American would want to collect a large number of firearms and ammunition. I just want to say, “Duh! It’s because we read history.” We know what governments are capable of, once the levers of power pass into the hands of those very same “liberals” who are upset that private citizens can own guns. We’re well aware of the despotic instinct that lurks in the hearts of progressives seeking power. We know what’s coming, if ever their power-seeking becomes successful, and absolute. It literally will be a matter of fighting them block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood, until all the enforcers are killed, and the utopian masters in the halls of government must barricade their own doors.

      1. Which is my shorthand answer to various gun grabbers when they ask, “But why do you need that kind of gun?”

        “Because you’re trying to take it away from me.”

        It usually leaves them baffled, but makes perfect dense to me.

        1. “Why do you need that kind of gun?”

          “Honey, need’s got nothing to do with it.”

          Our rights are not dependent on need. That’s why they’re called rights.

      2. ‘If every man had the same temperament as most firearm owners, I would have no fear about other men with guns. However we know that not every man has this temperament. So we need not fear, but we must prepare. Because the lack of temperament does not beget a person of community and charity, but on of control and greed’

      3. I realized something that might get through to some folks… the ones that are REALLY asking, anyways. Came to mind in discussions of why we haven’t had the kind of terror attacks here that have happened other places, specifically after that mall was taken over.

        You’re familiar with the call that some guns, only cops should own? And that cops should be allowed to have weapons off duty, too.

        In the US, almost everyone is an off duty police officer. We aren’t acting in an official capacity, so we don’t have the same legal defenses– but we have citizen’s arrest, we can be charged if we know a crime is happening and do nothing… and like police, it’s only in extreme instances and with proper authority that we are not allowed to have our weapons, as we judge.

        That means that the US has managed to actually have the number of police that are required for basic security, and it’s so diffused that no single corrupt chain of command can disrupt it secretly, and it’s only with great difficulty that it can be done openly.

      4. My wife asked me why I had a gun.
        I replied, to protect myself from the government.
        She laughed.
        The Echo(tm) laughed.
        I shot the Echo.

    2. The core problem wasn’t the NKVD, it was the private citizens who acted as their eyes and ears; a nation of Mrs. Kravitzes who would report any “deviant” speech or behavior.

      Each one of them likely certain that they were Good People, obeying the law. And getting a thrill from watching the Black Marias roll in, of course.

      1. Until they came for them. Which happened with the inevitability of day following night. Changes of leadership, vengeful relatives, or simple missteps, and yesterday’s informant is tomorrow’s inmate.

        Anyone remember the original V miniseries? It got a lot of things right.

        1. its also what happened in the second V series, before the network told them to tone it down.

          and after it was tones down, the viewership suddenly fell off.

          networks seem incapable of adding 2+2.

          1. Yeah, funny how that happens. Network insists on nerfing something, the viewers drop it. Network thinks it’s just “bad luck”.

            1. Mostly not private citizens, though. It is the little old ladies who worked as French-style building receptionist/security who were installed as live-in spies by the NKVD. In Cuba there are supervisors for every block, instead, but it is the same nasty old ladies.

              However, some of the little old ladies had quotas. They encouraged people to make up denunciations, and sometimes denounced people for you. Whether you wanted them denounced or not.

            2. Yeah, like the old Science Fiction Channel back in 2003-2005. It was worth watching as they did some pretty good mini series and shows. it got fairly popular for a cable channel, so NBC decided to buy it up. The suits at Rockefeller Center did not wait long to screw it up. The original mini series productions went away and the really cheesy movies started, then it started showing pro rasslin’, and crappy reality shows. I have not watched anything there in a decade now. it’s all crap all the time.

              The History Channel had the same thing happen to it as did the Military Channel.

  18. I wan involved in SF Fandom in the Eighties and early Nineties. I was an outspoken Conservative/Libertarian then and only occasionally ran into any shock. Even at DarkoverCon, which you’d think was a hotbed of Feminist CorrectThink, the closest I got to a confrontations was with a dear little Sophomore Feminist who was ranting about how High Heels were symbolic hobbles and represented the Patriarchy’s desire to cripple women. I told her “When I dress up, I’m supposed to wear something an awful lot like a leash, so what the f*ck are YOU bitching about. Don’t like high heels? Don’t wear ’em.”

    She hastened off, and the older women around grinned at me.

    I guess that changed.


    Progressives, how do I despise thee, let me count the ways….

    They don’t know any history, and what little they think they do know is wrong. I remember an otherwise OK comic book (Ultimate Avengers) in which Captain America (just revived) attacks (the new, black) Nick Fury because “There are no Black Colonels in the Army” (of WWII). The fist black Colonel was promoted in 1917. The first black General was appointed in 1940. Everybody in the army would have know that.

    They’re lazy. It wouldn’t even have taken the idiot who wrote that comic the time to lay hands on a copy of the OXFORD BOOK OF AMERICAN MILITARY HISTORY to find out he was dead wrong. He could have used Wikipedia, which seems to be accurate in this case.

    They’re smug. F’Chrissake, they nominated HILLARY F*CKING CLINTON. And are actually astonished THAT SHE LOST! They really thought that their rank and file – the ones who aren’t really Progressives, they just vote Democrat – were going to turn out in numbers to vote for that lying, arrogant, wooden, stupid, criminal bitch. They jiggered their own nomination process to get her in position! What? They couldn’t find anyone MORE repulsive? Charlie Manson wasn’t available?

    The way things are going, they are going to hand Trump (who often strikes me as clownish…until some Progressive opens their yap) a huge landslide in 2020. Because they simply cannot IMAGINE that they did anything wrong, so they are doubling down on everything wrong they did.

    1. They took well to Orwell’s dictate that he who controls the present controls the past, he who controls the past controls the future. However they cannot yet get that memory hole to work all the way. Someone has to remember reality. But the scary thing is that for every 1 person that caught that error in the comic, there were one hundred who did not. And for them, it got planted as the grain of truth. It is no different from how people get the idea that Russia tampered with vote totals, that there was absolutely no wrongdoing with the server or that Palin could see Russia from her house. Much as it makes us rip out our hair, they get their wins with it often enough.

      1. Or the myth of “Hitler’s Pope”? (Honest to gosh Soviet Plot to destroy the Church’s good name, there; apparently the USSR guys follow the TV tropes theme of All Christians Are Catholic.)

        Or the sister myth that everyone in the Vatican played nice with the Nazis, when the closest anybody can get to evidence for THAT is the Pope ordering a cardinal to stop trying to get himself martyred? (I can’t remember the details, but he did the middle aged paper-pusher with a bullhorn version of flipping them the bird…and the Pope ordered him to not walk anywhere that was visible from outside of the Vatican. SO he wouldn’t get sniped. )

    2. Re: sophomore feminists and high heels:

      Weren’t high heels originally worn by Ottoman or Persian cavalrymen, and adopted as a fashion statement by European noblemen (because tres cool foreign military! And also it makes their calves look good in stockings), and then co-opted by the women, for much the same reason?

      If so, feminists should celebrate the wearing of high heels as a victory over those eeeeevil patriarchs.

  19. I’m wondering if the rot didn’t set in earlier than people think. There were writers of a distinct libertarian bent – James H. Schmitz comes to mind – who got out of SF in the early 1970s. Were hounded out…and I’m wondering it it was ideological.

    1. I remember that period slightly. As I recall the SF shelves were full of trendy tripe like Moorcock’s Jerry Cornelius stuff (dystopian, polymorphous perversity, trippy). You may well have a point.

      I also seem to remember a resurgence of readable stuff coming out in the late ’70’s, lead by the Del Rey imprint, which (for a while) was a decent indication of story quality. Unhappily, the last gasp of that characteristic from Del Rey was in the early ’90’s with the publication of Robert Frezza’s five novels and with the criminal bungling that Barry Hughart was subjcted to.

      1. I think I saw an essay, possibly from a kicker, about the history of the term ‘space opera’, which maligned the Del Reys. Perhaps I misremember.

          1. kicker as in “puppy kicker” relating to the people bad-mouthing the Sad Puppies movement.

            1. Ah. I’m tired, or I might have picked up on that.

              I’ve read/heard people bad-mouth Space Opera for decades. Usually people who wanted more attention paid to their own pet (‘more serious’) sub-genera. Now some of it has been well founded; Start Wars is not Science Fiction, except by the very broadest of definitions. No science is presented, no social issues arising from advances in science or technology are discussed. It’s fantasy. Excepting the three dreadful prequels, it’s quite decent fantasy. Certainly the best to come out of Hollywood until LOTR.

              The world needs good space opera far more than it needs bad Science Fiction. But bad Space Opera can get fairly painful, too.

      2. I have three of Frezza’s books. He was one of the “why haven’t I seen anything from?” authors I looked up on the net a while back.

        Looks like he was part of the Midlist Cleansing of the ’90s, and then vanished. There are few people who dropped out of sight so decisively…

        1. Which three, BTW?

          I managed to contact him once, to let him know how much I liked the books. He said he was working on an alternate history set in the American War for Independence. Don’t know what happened after that.

          1. A Small Colonial War, McLendon’s Syndrome, and The VMR Theory.

            If you’re ever in touch with him again, tell him he still has some fans out there.

              1. He has the Small Colonial War milsf, and then he has the McLendon’ s and VMR duology, which are funnier than the legal limit allows. Very much missed as an author.

        2. Just ordered A Small Colonial War on Amazon. Thanks for the recommendation. Too bad he isn’t getting any money from the sales at this point.

              1. No, Hughart gave up. He was also having health problems, to be fair, and then he decided he had written all he wanted to write. But there was a lot of crap pulled at publishers, too, although to be fair, he also had good publisher luck first.

              2. I run into references to interviews as recent as 2008, and no notice I can find of his death. One of you-all with free time and energy, see if you can run him down and browbeat him into getting into print, neh?

                1. I wish. I mean he was one of several people who brought me back to SF/F, including Connie Willis and Terry Pratchett. And I’ve lost those last too though in different ways.

                  1. Sucks.

                    So many authors are letting themselves get eaten by politics. I do not want anyone to die, but prostitution of gifts, in any form, is almost worse than dying.

                    1. I mean, sf is supposed to be a genre for individualists. It has gone from authors proclaiming “To thine own self be true,” to authors groveling openly and disavowing their own work. Pod people.

                    2. In his autobiography (Harpo Speaks) Harpo Marx writes of witnessing John Barrymore, near the end of his career drink himself under a table in a night club, and mused that is sad when a great man dies but sadder yet when the greatness dies yet the man lives on.

  20. I don’t know what it’s like for a Canadian libertarian to be “out” in our fandom, but I guess I’m about to find out.

    1. Well, if you’re going to be outed, you might as well go outrageous, Milo Yannopoulis style. Throw in advocating term limits for the Prime Minister, a flat tax rate, return to the gold standard, and self-government for the provinces, and you’ll move from “dirty conservative” to “amusing nutter always good for a laugh.”

      1. Sadly, wearing a “Who is John Galt?” T-shirt could be construed as a microagression.

            1. ‘S funny, I never used to ike the stuff but now I’ve a hankerin’ for a nice plate of macroaggression & cheese.

  21. I’d say it’s still a lot like that out there, but my experience is very limited. When I’m told I must check these certain boxes, then it’s just another form of censorship–being told what to write.

    It’s no longer acceptable to live and let live. One must advocate for certain things whether it works for the story or not, i.e. tokeneering. Even if I was into tokeneering, which I’m not, it seems like it changes from week to week.

    I certainly hope I’m wrong and that you’re right and we’re seeing a change in this trend. My Eastern European Fatalism is still alive and well though.

    1. If you look at the author earnings report from January, you’ll see just how fast the reading public is abandoning the “you must check these boxes to pass the gatekeepers.”

      Trad pub will tell you it hasn’t changed… and it hasn’t for, them. They’ll also tell you that people aren’t reading anymore, because they don’t want to change or admit that the truth is many people aren’t reading them anymore.

      I’ve seen more than a few posts online that are almost identical: “I quit reading SF/F in the 70’s/80’s when I couldn’t find anything I wanted to read, but I hear there’s lots of good stuff out indie now. What do you recommend?” And the responses are full of indie authors, not trad pub.

      The internet interprets censorship as damage, and routs around it… and so does the reading public, now that they have the option.

  22. and this is why i am pretty quiet on FB, and don’t talk to the ‘industry’ people i know about much of anything, and want the hell out of CA.

        1. It’s always a good idea to sneak out while they’re loudly arguing about re-arranging the deck chairs, before the last minute panic.

          C’mon out to reality, and stop funding the madness with your taxes! You’ll find you like it, and you’re welcome here as long as you don’t try to make it like “the good parts” of what you liked about CA. 🙂

          1. ” you’re welcome here as long as you don’t try to make it like “the good parts” of what you liked about CA. 🙂”


          2. I liked the weather, the brief time i actually worked in VFX, and the technical aspects of my field.

          1. a bunch of the people i used to work with really honestly think CA can secede… and survive

              1. And the downside* of this is?

                *For those of us in the rest of the US, there is a definite downside for California residents.

    1. I have a friend who used to be in “the industry” as a conservative (he was one of the ADs on Castle, for instance) and got out. I’m not quite sure where he is now, but his last big-profile job was video and photography for the Ted Cruz campaign. He’s also the guy who made the short “Conservatism is Calling” that went around a couple of years ago.

      I sometimes watch his posts on FB with popcorn. He’s not afraid to be who he is.

  23. I just noticed our illustrious hostess has the Kindle version of our illustrious hostess’ A French Polished Murder available for sale. I now know what fiction I’m reading next once I finish reading Alma’s steampunk book.

  24. Unfortunately, their description of a Libertarian seems to be all to accurate. At least for all to many of the outspoken self proclaimed libertarians, and certainly for Libertarian politicians. No it doesn’t coincide with the dictionary definition or the “official” party proclamation; but then how closely do either of the Democrats or Republicans fit their dictionary definition, or follow their party platform?

    By your actions shall we know thee, indeed!

          1. If I might enter a suggestion, we might want to eschew “Argumentum Ad Labelum” and instead treat people as being as individualistic in their politics as in any other way. Few people alter their politics to be consistent with a political label, and far more attempt to warp the political label to enfold and legitimize their own views.

            Any political label represents a statistical grouping which covers a vast array. Calling someone out for being outside their assigned Bell Curve does not really seem sensible to me.

      1. Really? Gary Johnson, William Weld?

        For that matter the majority of outspoken, self-proclaimed Libertarians I have seen on the internet (not politicians) have been about as libertarian as most Liberals are liberal. They take a perfectly good label and appropriate it.

        By dictionary definition I would be a conservative libertarian. Libertarian in policy, conservative in personal beliefs. But be I would be rejected by the vast majority of self proclaimed libertarians I have ever met (with the notable exception of those on this site) because of those conservative personal beliefs.

        Maybe it is because of the fact that I grew up on the West Coast, and then moved to an area not to distant from a liberal arts college, where most of those identifying as libertarians resided, while the more conservative rural residents of the surrounding area, while considerably more libertarian by dictionary definition, didn’t wish to be identified with the residents of the college town. But looking at the results of the nominations for the last several national elections, I can’t say that nationally the Libertarians seem to be any more inclined to a free choice policy than they do locally.

        1. Good heavens. MOST LIBERTARIANS DID NOT VOTE FOR JOHNSON AND WELD. At any rate Weld never claimed to be Libertarian.
          Pull the other one, Bearcat, it plays Christmas music.

          1. Sorry, running on the Presidential ticket in a national election is a pretty solid claim.

            1. “Sorry, running on the Presidential ticket in a national election is a pretty solid claim.”

              That’s a pretty absurd claim.

              Minor parties and the interests they name themselves after are not synonymous. On a good day, they can be pretty similar, but usually making an equation between terms like “socialist”, “green”, and “libertarian” and the corresponding Socialist, Green, and Libertarian parties is only a crude approximation. And the Libertarian approximation seems to be the worst of the three [*], so that dogmatically insisting on the equation seems particularly blindly unreasonable in that case.

              [*] At least the Libertarian party seems to the worst approximation today. I wouldn’t be surprised if from time to time before my time — perhaps around the time of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact and/or around the time of highest tensions between Mao and the USSR — the US Socialist party had sharp dogma on things that most strongly socialist-minded USians didn’t consistently agree with.

            2. Hah! Next you’ll be telling us Trump is a Republican!

              Looking at recent history I think a strong argument can be made that nobody who has run for president atop the Libertarian ticket is a libertarian.

              1. John Hospers. Ron Paul. Andre Marrou. Michael Badnarik.

                Nobody the national Libertarian Party has run *lately* has been libertarian. Bob Barr? Johnson, twice? You gotta be kidding me!

                This after the national party platform and apparat were respectively gutted (“to give it a broader appeal”) and taken over by a bunch of frustrated neocon hacks at the convention in Portland ten years ago. I was there and watched in disbelief and horror as it happened.

                1. Funny; you elided Harry Browne, nominated by the LP in 1996 and 2000. He may have been libertarian, I wouldn’t presume to label, but he “did not appear on the 2000 Arizona ballot, however, as the Arizona Libertarian Party instead chose to run L. Neil Smith, whose candidacy was a protest against that of Browne.” [Wiki] So I suspect Smith did not accept Browne as representing the libertarian creed.

                  Marrou and Badnarik seem like opportunists exploiting the naivete of the LP to advance their own persons.

                  Marrou had most of his campaign staff resign during the summer of 1992. Many of them sought to have the Libertarian Party strip him of the nomination because he had unpaid child support, had an arrest warrant in Massachusetts for an outstanding contempt of court charge, claimed to have been married twice when it was in fact four times, was being investigated for campaign improprieties from his time in Alaska, was running up unpaid credit card bills in a campaign PAC’s name without their approval, and was habitually months late in making his house payments. The national committee decided to take no action for fear it would call attention to these issues.

                  Badnarik’s expressed policy positions seem libertarian, but stances taken on, for example, the 16th Amendment, seem lunatic.

                  Barr’s entire career was as a Republican until he took refuge in the Libertarian Party, having worn out the GOP’s tolerance of him. Per Wiki:

                  Barr was originally a strong supporter of the War on Drugs, reflecting his previous experience as an Anti-Drug Coordinator for the United States Department of Justice. While in Congress, he was a member of the Speaker’s Task Force for a Drug-Free America. This task force was established in 1998 by then-Speaker Newt Gingrich to “design a World War II-style victory plan to save America’s children from illegal drugs.” The task force crafted legislation specifically designed to “win the War on Drugs by 2002”.

                  Barr advocated complete federal prohibition of medical marijuana. In 1998, he successfully blocked implementation of Initiative 59[39] – the “Legalization of Marijuana for Medical Treatment Initiative of 1998” – which would have legalized medical marijuana in Washington, D.C. The “Barr Amendment” to the 1999 Omnibus spending bill not only blocked implementation of Initiative 59, but also prohibited the vote tally from even being released. Nearly a year passed before a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union eventually revealed the initiative had received 69 percent of the vote. In response to the judge’s ruling, Barr simply attached another “Barr Amendment” to the 2000 Omnibus spending bill that overturned Initiative 59 outright. The Barr Amendment also prohibited future laws that would “decrease the penalties for marijuana or other Schedule I drugs” in Washington, D.C. This preemptively blocked future attempts by Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) to reform marijuana laws in DC via the initiative process. In March 2002, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan struck down this portion of the Barr Amendment as being an unconstitutional restriction on free speech.

                  Emphasis added.

                  Johnson? Can any candidate who says

                  “[R]eligious freedom laws are really just a way to discriminate against gay individuals, the LGBT community. That’s what they are about. I don’t think that the Libertarian Party should be engaged in any way in endorsing discrimination.”

                  be truly considered Libertarian?

                  It seems as if the last three standard bearers for the LP have problems with the First Amendment, or at least its prior restraint and free exercise of religion portions.

                  1. I didn’t mention Harry Browne because he wasn’t a frustrated neocon hack. A huckster, perhaps (as opined by El Neil), but a very charming one (I had the pleasure of dining with Mr. Browne and his lovely wife twice when they came to MN for the state party conventions during his two runs for the ticket) and one who expressed a genuine libertarian philosophy in both person and print. Much as Wayne Alan Root did later, though Root, unlike Barr, at least built some chops by doing party work to polish off some of the neocon aroma before throwing his hat into the ring.

                    Is it a wonder, given the state of jurisprudence in the East and the proliferation of campaign regulations that any thinking person could hold them in contempt or possibly step a bit outside the letter of ‘the law’. And, of course, once having made those smears on Mr. Marrou, there is no follow-up in the article.

                    And yes, Mr. Badnarik was using his campaign as a way to promote attendance in his (very interesting; I took it) class on the Constitution, though it could be argued that he was using the proceeds of the class to finance his campaign. Indeed, he was by no means ‘enriching’ himself through the class. After taking out the cost of materials and venue, he was lucky to have enough left over for food, lodging, and gas for the car. A car owned and driven, by the way, by an associate because at the time Mr.Badnarik and the State of Texas were doing the two-step about the need for driver’s licenses and automobile registration. And if his views on some issues are ‘outside the box’, it just illustrates how crazy real liberty seems to the majority of folk in this current constrained conformist community and how long a row we have to hoe to throw off our fetters.

                  2. Hehe, you remember that flood of preachy “Libertarians” that showed up… I guess it was a year ago… and ended up declaring that people wouldn’t be *allowed* to form agreements that they didn’t think were Libertarian enough?

                    The only things keeping me from introducing Sarah to my infamous cousin is 1) family loyalty and 2) a desire that she not strain herself either attempting to murder him or restraining herself.

                2. Didn’t those frustrated neocon hacks include Bob Barr?

                  In 2006, he joined the Libertarian Party as a regional representative, then serving on the Libertarian National Committee.

                  The record indicates his joining and rising within the party around that time.

                  Not all that wears the Libertarian plumage is libertarian.

              1. I think what he pointed out might have gotten lost in the rest of what he’s said–
                For that matter the majority of outspoken, self-proclaimed Libertarians I have seen on the internet (not politicians) have been about as libertarian as most Liberals are liberal. They take a perfectly good label and appropriate it.

                Just pointing at the way “libertarian” became the New Hotness when “independent” became too obviously “I’m a Democrat but I want to be snooty about you being a dumb follower.”

                College “Libertarians,” Liberaltarians, totalitarian libertarians… we’ve had enough waves of the twerps come through here!

                Pretty much by definition, a libertarian who holds the theory strongly is going to largely leave everyone alone.

                1. Fine, Foxfier, but beyond what he’s actually erructating, if you come across someone who wants to ban the internal combustion engine, the way to bet is “green” not libertarian. It WAS illiterate back in 2004 to say libertarians were for banning the internal combustion engine.
                  Also, pardon me, I moved in those circles. They knew damn well what libertarians really were, hated them, and started a disinformation campaign.
                  Also, with pardons to you and bearcat, I THINK I know a few hundred more libertarians than you do. Among college kids, Libertarian might mean anything from anarchist to voluntarianist. It does NOT mean Liberal in the dem sense. People on the internet can also call themselves dogs. Doesn’t mean they bark.
                  And btw if these publishers thought Libertarian WAS dem, they would have approved.

                  1. I just remembered one of the other new hotness in the name-plate olympics—


                    The guys dressed in black, hiding their faces, forming mobs and destroying stuff that belongs to people they don’t like….

            3. Hell, not even the Democrats could put up a candidate that truly represented the interests of the membership. They had to manipulate the system and cheat. Your claim is bogus.

            4. And you well might be sorry, since that’s silly. Observe our current President, who claims to be a Republican, even though he is far to the left of the historical Republican party on many topics.

              1. Y’all have made my point nicely, Trump certainly doesn’t fit the dictionary definition of Republican, nor did Hillary fit the dictionary definition of Democrat (heck she couldn’t even get democratically nominated by her own party) yet they all self identify (or at least do so for public consumption) as such, and are identified as such by a significant portion, if not an outright majority, of their constituents. A portion large enough to win the nomination of their respective parties.

                1. Y’all have made my point nicely

                  Ah, yes, the very essence of Righteous Integrity: Make an idiotic statement, wait for people to react to the idiocy, then declare that their “over” reaction illustrates your “point”.

                  They’ll put up statues to you in the future for sure, you glorious exemplar of all that is good, you.

              2. Side-effect of the Dems going a far-left crazy and nasty about it, and of a lot of rather good Republicans running… which split the traditional Republican votes while letting the various non-Republicans pick the candidate.

        2. I invite you to accost L. Neil Smith, arguably the field’s most visible Libertarian, and tell him he’s for regulating everything. Do it. I want to see it. And film it.

  25. One of the reasons a lot of people have left the state of fear was the night and the day of the election.
    Not because trump won, but because we saw the masks fall of for 24 hours.
    And all of it was recorded. I have seen people smile and tell you the day before the election: “Vote whoever you want, just vote”.
    And the very next day that smile was gone and they insulted their own audience.

    It is amazing how Pratchett got it right:
    “The smug mask of virtue triumphant could be almost as horrible as the face of wickedness revealed.”

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