Stop them before… Ah, who cares.

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I’m a reader.  I’ve read ever since I can remember.  Back there, in the dim mists of time, I remember desperately trying to piece together a Disney comic story that my brother had read to me, from the pictures and what I remembered of the words, and relating those to the shape of the words.

I don’t remember precisely what Heinlein said about this in Glory Road, so I’ll paraphrase it: It’s an addiction.  It’s not as destructive as cocaine, and it certainly – okay, probably – won’t make aged before my time, as meth would.  I mean, there are side issues with reading, like sitting too long on your butt because you just hit the good part of that chapter, or, heaven forbid, sitting down to read when someone left a bucket of peanuts nearby.  Let’s say it’s probably not the best thing for your physical tone and fitness.  But it’s easier than most drugs.  It’s also cheaper, at least now.  Thanks to Kindle Unlimited Lending Library, I can keep myself to about $20 in reading budget most months, unless I fall head first into a series I really want to read and which is published traditionally, which means $10 a book.  Then I blow the budget in a week.

The last time that happened, I binged Dresden files in a week.  (I actually had some of the books, but they were in paper and somewhere in boxes at that time, in the middle of the epic move.)  My husband raised his eyebrows and sighed at the price, but since I was recovering from surgery and that was all that kept me resting…

So, what is this about.  Ah.

Apparently traditional publishing has decided they weren’t committing suicide fast enough.  Here, there and everywhere, they’re letting it be known that their books will now be devoted to the “resistance” and “educating people” so that we don’t elect another Trump.

There is for instance, this gem, written, of course, by a male, who thinks little girls just can’t wait to read about pussy hatted “resistance” the “evil regime of Donald Trump.

pussy

Honestly, these people are all living in a giant bubble.  They have all gone to the same schools where they were all given the holy word of Marx, and all their friends are furious that trump was elected, and all their eight year olds (why is it always eight year olds?) were heartbroken when Hillary didn’t win (why are they convinced that other people, you know, real live adults want to hear the opinion of 8 year olds?) All of them are having hysterics and milling around and decided that everyone in the country is as unhappy as they are, and all of them want to read how terrible Trump is, or be “educated” so that no one will make the mistake of deviating from these people’s received wisdom again.

I’ve run into this attitude before, where publishers think they are teachers and the publishing house some kind of podium from which they should teach their “truths” to the public.  I don’t know if this is the result of very limited life experience, in which they were taught only people who attend the best colleges know anything, or if they are simply virtue signaling to the rest of their smaller, insular field with what “good people” they are.

Heck, it could even be that literature, having cast off the idea of judging quality by references to classical literature and history, started judging by how well it represented “the underdog” or rather “the underclass” and the class struggle and the oppression of capitalism, and all the Marxist rot they now teach in school instead of classical mythology (one mythology for another.  I liked Jove better.)

And you know, you always have to go a step further to be considered cutting edge, edgy, daring, or award worthy.  And awards I guess do matter for publishers, because with falling printruns and all the funny accounting it’s the only thing they can point to to say they’re doing a great job. Maybe.  Well, at least both editor and author can get jobs teaching college on the strength of that.

So they’ve forgotten they sell books to people.  Instead they think people will, of necessity, buy books.  They’re not wrong, at that.  You know how I said some people read compulsively?  It turns out we make most of the money for publishers.

The people who read one or two books a year?  Yeah, that’s fine and there’s a lot of them, but my people?  We read a minimum of two books a week  (If I’m on vacation I read that a year.)  Sure we re-read but we still need new fodder.  And we’ll read like crazy.  Except we don’t read anything and everything.

Most of the books I read are what I call “popcorn books.”  I used to buy bags of them or boxes at library sales.  They’re books that fit solidly in the genre and I read and forget.  If the experience is particularly pleasant, I will remember the author’s name and buy more of his/her books if I see them.  This is how I found people like Diana Wynne Jones or Jill McGown or… half a dozen others.

In the eighties I read mostly science fiction (and fantasy, but mostly science fiction.)  But the subtle messages that America was doomed, capitalism was evil, and oh, yeah, women were so much better than men at everything kept getting stronger and stronger till I felt I was being hit over the head with a politically correct hammer.

So I escaped to mystery.  It was a brief escape.  Mystery, at the time, if you limited yourself to cozies or funny mysteries, you found – of course you did – some politics and some crazy but if the rest of the book was good I’d still read it and even enjoy it.

Then cozies were declared “not real mysteries” tm and historical mystery was “just not selling” tm and the remaining mysteries went to “All of humanity is awful, and everyone would kill anyone given the chance” with breaks to preach about whatever the current politics were when it was written.  From the left side of course.  (What you think the author is crazy?  She wants to sell again.)

And I escaped to history.  But the kind of history I can read as popcorn is what I call “novelizations of history” and that too became preaching and also characters who, in their day, would have been killed for being crazy.  Yeah, I know.  I know.  New York city editors would think the Elizabethan woman you wrote and who thinks that getting beaten is quite normal and natural and possibly a sign of love is a reflection of your own beliefs, not history, and they’ll never publish you again.  But there’s still only so much nonsense I can take.

I held on, though, till just past 9/11, when every character no matter if middle ages or renaissance or whatever had a “magic Muslim friend”tm who was culturally enlightened and the voice of modernity in the book.

I bailed.  I bailed to Romance.

I’m a profoundly unnatural woman.  I didn’t read romance when I was young (beyond my cousin’s books, because… well… they were in the house) but by 2003, I was starting to dip my toes into Heyer, thanks to Dave Freer.

I bailed to regency romance.  (I tried contemporary and it was a mix of sex and preaching.)  Oh, regency had sex too, often apropos nothing.  But I just skipped those parts.

When I came to regency, it was I’m sure already silly.  But I had a backlog of years to read, and I read mostly used books.  Take $20 and buy 20 books.  Trade them in for half the value and get ten, continue till you have no more books.  Then repeat.

Eventually I ran out, or at least I ran out of anything I was willing to read and that took more than ten minutes, because I wasn’t skipping most of the over the top, ridiculous sex scenes.

So I bought some new romances.  Dear Lord.  Yeah. Every character was a 21st century feminist in petticoats.  They knew women were smarter, stronger, etc. than men, and they couldn’t wait to tell you.  They all ran shelters for abused women, they were all suffragettes, they all (even the noblewomen) started businesses.  Then there was the purely silly. You know, a duke was a doctor, and everyone was in awe of him.  (This was at the time the social equivalent of a duke being a coachman.  Never mind.)

Fortunately by that time, indie had come to be, and now I read in great jags from sf/f to mystery to romance and back again, as the spirit moves me.  As I said KULL has been a boon to my sanity and our budget.

And then…  And then I read declaration after declaration from publishers and writers that they’re NOW serious about educating us.  They’re going to write about the horribly oppressive Trump regime and their brave resistance to it. This time (they mean it) they’re going to really educate the lumpen masses, so they never have the temerity to doubt the wisdom of their betters again.

Look, some of the people who read compulsively might even be leftists or hate Trump.  Some.  Depends on the genre. Mostly the readership of romance looks like America, so I suspect you have Trump supporters and people who voted for him reluctantly making up a good half of the population.  The rest?  They probably look down on Romance and if they read it, they don’t admit to it.  Romance and cozy readers (they came back as craft mysteries) aren’t that different.  And most cozy readers are like me in cozy mode: we want fun, we want silly, we want escape.  If we wanted to ponder the great problems of the age, we wouldn’t be reading “Purl one, kill two.”  Science fiction?  I don’t know.  I know the numbers from the big houses are falling and that a lot of my indie friends writing either without politics or with a libertarian perspective are raking it in.  Is there a market for the traditionally published lefty stuff?  Sure.  But it’s a small market (most of the people who talk about it don’t even read it) and it’s being split by all the traditionally published books.

So what does “now we’ll preach more” and “now with more Trump derangement syndrome” do to that landscape?

Publishers think they’re in the heyday of the nineties, when all you could read was what was on the shelves, and publishers controlled what got on the shelves.  So addicts, like me, still bought some, because we had to read something.

But now?  Bah.  Most indie books are straight up apolitical.  (I suspect the political ones don’t sell and the writers give up. Because, you know, it’s a lot of work if you don’t get any return.  And I’m not saying the political ones are bad.  I’m saying at least those who are left are competing for readers in a saturated field.)  And we have tons of other things to read, without the ebooks being priced through the roof, either.

So… Traditional publishing has put a gun to its head and is threatening to pull the trigger.

And the worst part?

I don’t think I even care anymore.

 

321 responses to “Stop them before… Ah, who cares.

  1. Christopher M. Chupik

    “Stop, or I’ll shoot!”

    “Okay.”

  2. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    Chris Nuttall posted a review of a biography of US Grant on his blog and an idiot decided that the review was a “defense of Trump”. 😦

    Those idiots let Trump live rent-free in their heads. 😈

  3. They’re acting as if what we want are endless left-wing lectures and sermons. Pricing e-books higher than deadtree, they think that we’ll go back to dead tree. Ain’t happenin’ bro.

    • Books, TV, and movies. I’m not even sure if it’s what they want to hear/watch/read or if they just think that (like Obama) if they give us the message in the ‘correct’ way we’ll suddenly switch to their views. Or if the need to ‘virtue’ signal has become so strong that they can’t resist it. (For an sort of interesting read check out Joss Whedon on how he wanted to write Captain America for the 1st movie, if he’d done that he more than likely would have killed the MCU before it got going).

      Even some of the Right has the tendency to preach. I liked the first few books in Terry Goodkind’s series, but by the 4th book I was sick of the lecture. Even though I agreed with him on most aspects it kept taking me out of the story.

      • Pity about Whedon. I have never been a big fan of his, I don’t like his tendency to kill popular characters, often, it seems, a twist just for the sake of a twist but he used to know how to tell a good story anyway.

        (Imma brave writer because most don’t kill popular characters, but I do – same problem I have with R.R.M. who also seems to be way too fond of the shock value of “unexpected” twists, and goes for them even when they may detract from the story as a whole. If he ever finished his series I expect it will be something like everybody dies and forever winter :P. Who knows, maybe the television series won’t go for that, although because television series that might well be dragged until dropped without a conclusion)

        Although he was always better starting a story, and maybe writing the middle, than finishing a story in a satisfying way (television writers – write a series for television and you can get off never writing the end). But it seems he has gone almost fully off the rails now. He can still direct and write a decent enough story IF he is forced to stay on track by others, but not, it seems, if he were to get his way all the way.

        • I used to really enjoy Whedon. Firefly, at least after I got over the concept of ‘Space Cowboys’ was very well done. Most of his what he’s done has a great libertarian bent and then read his social media and it’s all totally to the Left.
          G.R.R.M. reminds me too much of Robert Jordan. Just keeping the story going to keep the story going. Plus, after some of his comments about Sad Puppies I pretty much stopped reading his books. The whole head of Bush on a pike thing also pissed me off enough that I stopped watching the show.

          • Most of his what [Whedon]’s done has a great libertarian bent and then read his social media and it’s all totally to the Left.

            This is somewhat caused David Mamet to go conservative. he realized that while he mouthed Liberal dogma he actually lived according to a contrary creed and decided to synchronize his public positions with his personal beliefs.

        • I have a sneaking suspicion that GRRM is never going to write any more in his series, and the ending to the TV series is going to have to satisfy the fans.

          AdamPM compares him to Robert Jordan, but even at his worst, Jordan was still putting out a book every couple of years (even if the plot turned out to be “Rand spends 600 pages clipping his toenails”).

          • Good point! I’m not sure if Robert Jordan would have gone political either.

            Lol, I’ve read all of Jordan’s books (at least WoT books) and yah, clipping toe nails is a nice summation. It felt more like some weird sort of treadmill when I was reading them.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              IIRC part of Robert Jordan’s problem with “Endless Wheel Of Time” was that somebody at Tor would say “it’d be nice if….” and Jordan would take it as “do this”.

              Reportedly, his wife (and chief editor) had to start telling people at Tor “don’t make suggestions to Robert”.

            • A treadmill is a good way to describe it. Here’s what it felt like to me (note that I’m not saying this was how it was, just what it felt like):

              Characters A, B, and C need to be at the big finale.
              Character A is currently occupied with subplot 1.
              Author creates subplot 2 to give B and C something to do while A is wrapping up subplot 1.
              Subplot 1 finishes, but subplot 2 is still going on. Author creates subplot 3 to keep A busy while B and C finish with subplot 2…

              Repeat indefinitely (only rather than A, B, and C, we have A-Z plus at least half the Greek alphabet thrown in there too).

              • That’s actually a good summation and very descriptive of what he was doing. By book 7 I was really starting to wonder how long he was going to go before it stopped.

                • And that would be why I’m glad I stopped reading with the one where Rand cleansed the Source and I could just pretend it was all good. By that point it looked like he was actively trying to write some of the supposed scenes from “The Princess Bride” that were “shortened”. Like the one where 21 pages were spent on packing hats for the trip.

              • Sounds like life.

        • GRRM is a pantser, which means he makes things up as he goes along, and that often means a weak ending, unless the author’s willing to back and do serious re-writing. Stephen King has a problem with weak endings for the same reason.

          • Perhaps it’s overly judgmental of me, but I kind of think those sorts of authors probably shouldn’t do the “single plot line over multiple books” type of epic. And yes, Mr. “oh-yeah-the-Dark-Tower-was-really-about-my-car-accident,” I’m talking to you.

            (Someday, I’m going to find my way to some other level of the Tower where King was never hit by that van, or at least where he never met the fan who made that suggestive comment to him, and see how THEIR Dark Tower series ends.)

            • I’d prefer it if they didn’t, like you. Though it hasn’t hurt GRRM’s sales at all, so it’s working for other people.

              I’ve only read two of King’s – Salem’s Lot and the Stand. I will give this to King, even though I hurled the Stand several different times against the wall while reading, I still had to pick the thing back up and finish it. He’s a master at making you need to turn the page.

          • He writes cynical grimdark. The happiest possible ending for his current saga would be for him to announce that he’s sick of the story, too, and has no intention of finishing it.

            • I suspect that’s why he’s never finished it- he’s just as sick of the world as we are.

            • That fits with some of the stories in Tuf Voyaging. I sort of liked the others published in Analog, but the last story was gaaah. “Manna from Heaven”. Haviland Tuf comes across as having the soul of a DMV manager.

          • ESPECIALLY when you’ve published things in parts, and can’t revise the beginning and middle to support a stronger ending.

        • “television writers – write a series for television and you can get off never writing the end” this is one reason I find TV writing so infuriating.

          • One of the things I liked about the “Fargo” series- each season has a definite ending and wrap-up- plus good stories and characters.

          • One of the reasons I liked Babylon 5 so much. A definite beginning, body, and conclusion to the series.

    • Nope. I won’t even look at a trad-pubbed ebook if it’s priced more than $5 or so. If I really, really want it, I’ll buy the cheapest used print copy I can find.

      • I do a lot of inter-library loans. They’re free at my local library, take about a week to get and let’s me read loads of expensive stuff for free.

      • Some of Baen’s e-books are priced at $9.99. That’s only while the dt(dead tree) is in hc.

        • There’s a few on the market that are worth that price. Our gracious hostess’s collaboration (Lewis and the Dragon…) made my Buy list, but I doubt I’ll do that often.

    • That’s one of the problems I had with Ready Player One (the book– I quite liked the movie). There are a number of places where the action stops for infodump, and pulls me out of the story, but the worst offender is a diatribe about the evils of consumerism and religion and how those evil consumers burning oil created the terrible world the character lives in now. That one is early enough in the book that the story hasn’t even really gotten going yet. There’s no narrative reason for it; it’s just the author giving a lecture to the readers.

      • Christopher M. Chupik

        And in spite of that, the SJWs complain about how awful the book is because it’s about a while male gamer.

        You can’t win.

      • I’ve started to run into this on a few of the Kindle writers I usually read. A lot of them seem to buying into the whole ‘lots and lots of pronoun’ thing. In one case, it does make some sense since it was an AI, but it was still really annoying since in the previous 5 books the AI had been ‘male’.

        I’ve started working my way through Louis L’amour books. I read almost all of them growing up and I’m kind of amazed at how much I still enjoy them as an adult.

        • scott2harrison

          The problem that I have (even with good writers) is their use of “gender” when they mean “sex” It kicks me out of the story for a second while I translate (and grumble to myself a bit).

        • Louis L’Amour may write formulaically and employ stock characters — all his male main characters are tall, lean, broad shouldered and slim hipped, carrying most of their mass in their chests. He even employs a degree of self-mockery by making a family saga of the commonality. But he writes a heckuva a good tale even in his most minor works and always gives a hero for whom you can root.

          Carefully selected, the audiobooks are good fun, the kind of thing well-suited to a boring drive. The first couple of Sackett novels, covering Barnabas’ move to the new world, are particularly well read, using the various dialects prevalent in the English of the period to good effect. Yes, he includes a Muslim friend but Sakim is hardly token or stereotype and L’Amour’s women are strong in credible ways, supplying in character what they lack in physical prowess.

          • My favorite of the L’Amour books is The Walking Drum. A rip roaring adventure where the hero gets his ass handed to him until he wizens up about the way of the world.

          • The Sackett novels were always my favorite. Especially how he would work in the various brothers and cousins into different stories. They are formulaic, but they do what I want from a book, tell me a story I want to read 🙂

            I’ve never really been much of an audiobook person. I can’t get into the story as much as when I’m reading it myself. I will look at those though. I enjoyed the Barnabas stories.

            • The beauty of audiobooks is that you can read in situations that are otherwise not agreeable, such as doing dishes, folding laundry, mowing the lawn (you might want sound-cancelling headphones for that) or while driving. I found audiobooks made long commutes in rush-hour traffic far more endurable as any delays simply meant a few extra pages. With an MP3 player and earbuds I can even “read” a book while doing the shopping – something which vastly reduces urges to go postal at Walmart where an appalling number of people seem to utterly lack any capacity for recognition of the fact they’ve stopped dead in the middle of an aisle.

              Some books even gain greatly in audio form. LotR‘s songs and poems were something I never appreciated until hearing them, and James Marster’s reading of the Dresden Files is terrific. Somehow the How To Train Your Dragon series got David Tenant as their reader, just before he was tabbed for his stint as The Dr. and his readings are a delight. A word of warning, however: Tony “Baldrick” Robinson’s readings* of the Discworld books constitute a driving hazard.

              *If you can find them; they were abridged editions popular in England in the Nineties and have likely been supplanted by unabridged new readings.

              • I will have to check that out. I’m fortunate in that for at least the next year my commute consists of walking from the bedroom to my computer 🙂

                I also hate not having situational awareness when I’m out in public, I know (especially where I live now) that there is little danger of any type of attack, but I don’t want to get into the habit of ignoring my surroundings.

                Pretty much anything Pratchett wrote is a hazard. I was trying to read ‘Good Omens’ a few weeks ago when I went out for dinner. It was. . .rough. . .trying not to laugh like a freaking madman while I was waiting for dinner.

                • A fifteen minute sample from almost the start of the book.

                  https://www.audible.com/search/ref=a_hp_tseft?advsearchKeywords=sackett%20book%201&filterby=field-keywords
                  Available via Audible and on CD for about $20. Many of L’Amour’s seem over-priced for Audio, tending to run around six hours or so (this one is 5’14”) so Audible is likely the best format if you’re going to amass many.

                  It should be noted that some authors are horrible matches to the works read. Some versions of the Kathy Reichs’ Bones novels seem not to understand the difference between the central NC accent (as written) and the deep Alabama accent, as read. And in a book such as Pride & Prejudice the fact we have five sisters of similar upbringing can make distinguishing between them difficult. Oh, if ONLY Elizabeth had been reared abroad, in France or Norway!

              • I still use music for long road trips; currently have Show Boat in the player; not sure I like it.

                For dangerous driving country songs, “The Power Tool Song” by Don Bowman gets my vote. I was on a side street when I first heard it, otherwise I’d have wrecked the car. OTOH, the then-recent unfortunate incident with the chainsaw had something to do with the humor. (The scar faded, but it’s one of the more impressive* ones in my collection.).

                (*) To me anyway. Took a bit of work to repair that finger.

            • Telling a story is a different medium than writing. There’s overlap, of course, but some things that work with one, don’t with the other.
              Take The Silmarillion; it’s written consciously echoing the oral tradition. Reading it is famously tough sledding, but if you listen to it, it flows.
              Or the other way ’round, the word “said ” is nearly invisible written, but a drumbeat when spoken.
              Some types of story translate readily, like pulp and ghost stories. Others, not so much.

              Then you can add in that narrating well is *hard*.
              You need to emote to people who have no cues but your voice, while not receiving any feedback from the audience. Melodrama or monotone is mostly what you’ll get if someone hasn’t spent time honing their craft.
              Speaking of craft, recording software has a steep learning curve. Jack, in particular, is awful and awesome. But DAWs aren’t a cakewalk either (maybe someone will get that joke.) Setting up a recording space is as much art as science. Good mic technique takes time to develop.
              Price of entry is low in money (you can seriously get a microphone good enough to record quality audiobooks for about forty bucks, and treat a room for less than that) but long in time (many hundreds of hours).
              People like to try and skimp on that, which is why there are a whole lot of people on YouTube using pricey equipment to sound horrible. (Obvious but often overlooked statement: expensive equipment is more sensitive. More sensitive equipment has less room for error. Less room for error increases the skill required.)

              • Hmm, Cakewalk. PC-AT and an ISA MIDI interface? Oh yeah, might as well get off my lawn. 🙂

              • Laura Gonzenbach observed that her transcriptions of fairy tales was not perfectly verbatim: she had to interpolate “he said,” “she said” when a storyteller could indicate which speaker with different voices.

          • My favorite of L’amour’s books is Conagher. A woman who homesteads after her husband dies on a resupply run. It was a very quotidian death.

          • “Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” Louis L’Amour

        • I’ve wondered about the whole gender fluid thing and all related, how much of that is caused by people trying to come up with interesting short bios on their social media. Most of them have no real achievements, so they have to be interesting in what they are, or define themselves to be, particularly in this age of Points For Victimhood. That, and maybe a natural rebellion about having to define themselves by checking a limiting number of boxes, so they want more boxes.

          • If you can’t stand out because of your accomplishments, there’s always taxonomy.

          • Actually, I’m contemplating a blog post comparing the strong emergence of a variety of feminized male roles gaining status in the West to Mukhannathun and similar roles elsewhere.

            I’m starting to wonder if that is a sign of real strong patriarchy, including de facto polygamy and harems, in the West. Is a slice of the male population moving into sexual and social roles to become the “women” of the men who no longer have a shot at wives and girl friends due to women abandoning the field or being in soft harems of so-called alphas.

            It a vague idea but I’m starting to wonder.

            • I thought it was more an attempt to get girls, myself. White Knighting and all that.

              • The “friend” guys where every “favor” has a price, but you’re not allowed to notice because it’s not openly labeled– and for a lot of ’em, you’ll never pay it off anyways because any time you point out favors you did for them, you’re using them.

              • Possible. There could be more than one reason and the cases we’re thinking of could not even overlap.

                It is just…why do we have a population of men who don’t identify as gay but do identify as feminine and if they emphasize the fem like male attention plus have men who turn their attention that way.

                In the world of “don’t settle for anything but Mr. Big” encouraged by Sex in the City culture the fraction of men who can’t appeal to women increases. Something will rise to relieve that pressure and I think some fraction of the very broadly defined trans movement is that (as distinguished from the narrowly defined trans population of people actually suffering from dysphoria).

                Then there is the elevation of women above all in media aimed at children. I suspect that creates a lot of “but I want to be a princess” boys who are used to seeing only girls in a positive light from media and, in some cases, their mothers (see that woman who made the “The End of Men” video with her husband and son sitting right there). Sure, that’s at the margins but societal change is done at the margin.

          • Have you ever run across the “sapiosexuals”? They’re people who are attracted to smart people. Because clearly, people who are attracted to smart people are so different from other hetero- or homosexuals that it requires a different category to describe them. That would be pretty much the pinnacle of what you’re talking about.

            • I’m still agog that Facebook allows a choice of, is it over 50 different genders now?

            • Several studies have found a large majority of men are kallosexual, sexually attracted to women who are

              “beautiful” [ κάλλος, kallos ] and the adjective [is] καλός, kalos. However, kalos may and is also translated as ″good″ or ″of fine quality″ and thus has a broader meaning than mere physical or material beauty. Similarly, kallos was used differently from the English word beauty in that it first and foremost applied to humans and bears an erotic connotation.
              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beauty

              attracted to women of beauty and fine character.

              This has naturally been condemned by third wave feminists as discriminatory, while others have persuasively argued that most men wouldn’t know a woman of fine character if she kicked him in the crotch.

              • Oops – worked the blockquote too hard and missed the framing redundancy. That ought read:

                kallosexual, sexually attracted to women of beauty and fine character.

              • “…attracted to women of beauty and fine character. This has naturally been condemned by third wave feminists as discriminatory…”
                Well, yeah- name one 3rd wave feminist that is either.

              • I thought most men were efkolissexual from efkolis for ‘easy’, preferring women actually willing to have sex.

                • ^^This^^ is actually evidenced by science– not in the “sleep with him and he’ll stay” way, that actually screws up pair-bonding, but in that men consider the woman they are sexually intimate with to be more attractive, especially if they are not getting sexual highs elsewhere.

                  This is why there’s an instinctive revulsion to the guys who dump their wives for a “newer model.” It reads as disloyalty because it is associated with disloyalty, because even before they figured out the whole think-a-woman-they-had-sex-with-and-expect-to-do-so-again-is-more-attractive thing, folks “knew” it.

            • And they are full of sh!t. I’ve been told more than once “I get turned on by your sexy brain.”

              It has yet to translate into a BJ, so I call BS.

              And, yes, it is a “look at how superior I am” marker.

              Me, bitter? No, why do you ask.

      • Although I kinda liked Ready Player One, there were enough unbelievable/nonsensical things in it that you have to let them roll off your back unexamined if you want to get past chapter one.

        Don’t get me started on the *gasp* shocking reveal! of a secondary character’s true identity. Welcome to Eyeroll City.

        • Christopher M. Chupik

          Let me guess: “GASP! You’re — a GIRL???”

          • That and more. You could tell by the writing that it was supposed to be a profound, Meaningful™ reveal, but it took me out of the story as I tried to figure out if the writer honestly thought any reader would care, or if it was shoehorned in by a team of diversity readers. I’m pretty sure it’s the latter.

            • Oh gosh. YOu know what would be funny? As in, the funniest thing on the planet? If the sexy female character, when revealed, was a 35 year old male cop with a paunch who worked for the sex exploitation squad and turned out to be a great guy and ran around being a hero with the MC.

      • Yeah, I wasn’t able to finish it. At some point it was about the infodumps instead of the plot.

    • Well, I’m seeing pure capitalistic economic theory in action with Mr. Correia’s newly released books. They’re so popular that the difference in price between e and paper isn’t very great. But Larry does have to prep the site and build the house, so more power to him. BTW, I want to see pictures after it’s built!

      • How much of that is Larry and how much is the publisher? Baen pricing has always seemed pretty good.

        • Buying e-books via Webscriptions used to be a great deal until they started padding the monthly list with repeats and stuff I just wasn’t interested in.
          Other than than Baen pricing was part of a deal struck with Amazon, one of Toni’s greater achievements.

        • we don’t set our prices.

    • For the depressives:

      They think it will work because it has. The Gay Pride parade appeases the “Give us what we want or we’ll burn down your house” activists while keeping energy high. Middle America never sees the reality of the radicals, while Will and Grace and Ellen D. move the sympathy window.

      That little girl is really cute and she’s not wearing a pretend-vagina on her head. If the interior is as milk toast as the cover, betcha that book will get read in classroom storytimes.

      For the hopeful: we know what they’re doing. Heck, no reason we couldn’t copy the non-crazy parts. And they no longer throttle what everyone sees, reads, and hears. This is winnable.

      • The MSM has been providing air cover for approved radicals for about as long as I can remember. The disparate coverage of T.E.A. Party protests with Code Pink protests had been present during the Vietnam era anti-war protests in which a tight shot of a few anti-war activists in a small circle was used to fill the screen with their message while counter protests were filmed in wide shots which maximized the impression of sparse numbers. (It probably helped that they couldn’t broadcast the smell of the protesters.)

        The MSM has the ability to normalize the outré and minimize the bourgeois. It establishes the Overton Window and rigorously enforces its framing.

        • I was mildly obnoxious in the waiting room today– the show that was on said something about 52 “protesters” being killed, and I looked up, blinked, and commented that I was pretty sure dudes with knives charging a fence, screaming ‘death to the Jews’ were not protesters.

          Lots of no-eye-contact, but a lot of other folks were ignoring the TV, too.

        • The MSM used to be able to completely establish the Overton Window. That has broken.

          If they were able to completely establish, 2016 would have been Hillary beats Jeb.

          If they were able to 80% establish, 2016 would have been Hillary beats Rubio.

          If there were able to 60% establish, 2016 would have been Hillary beats Cruz.

          If they were able to 55% establish, 2016 would have been Hillary beats Trump.

          They were able to get Hillary the nomination so I’ll give them 40-50% Overton Window control. Their real advantage, however, is so many people who could seize the control they don’t have still think the MSM has 90%+ control. That insight, conscious or not, was Trump’s real ace.

  4. I was disappointed, but not the least bit surprised, to see that the pro-gay parody children’s book about the Vice President’s pet rabbit is front and center at the regional B&N, but there’s no sign of Mrs. Pence’s original book. I suspect it is in the back, buried in the children’s section, and selling briskly despite New York’s best efforts.

    • “I suspect it is in the back, buried in the children’s section, and selling briskly despite New York’s best efforts.”

      Yes to the first one, and in my neck of the woods (which is a fairly conservative area) yes to your second point as well. Hell, even my incredibly liberal pantsuit nation coworker admitted (out loud! in public!) that the Pence book was very cute.

      So, there’s that. 😀

  5. BobtheRegisterredFool

    I actually had my own independent opinion on presidential politics at the age of eight.

    I’ve several takeaways from that experience. The political reasoning of an eight year old is never going to be close to what an adult would come up with. Most eight year olds are not, left to their own devices, going to be political. The political opinions of eight year olds are garbage. Can you believe I actually thought there was no substantive difference between the parties?

    • What do I remember from a presidential campaign when I was, well, 9 years old??

      “A-U H-2-O !!”

      Now there’s a slogan anyone can recite. Why, I could have done it when I was three!

    • SheSellsSeashells

      I was all excited at age 6 to go vote with my parents.

      Because I thought that elections worked by handing a ticket to the candidate you liked best, and I would get to SEE a President even if I didn’t know who it would be. My poor mother had a lot of straightening out to do when I inquired about a white-haired man handing out pamphlets “Is that Mr. Anderson??”

      Totally, totally woke, I was.

    • I was in HIGH SCHOOL and thought that there was no substantive difference between the parties. Mostly because I’d ask people what the difference was an got no answers.

      So I matured into an libertarian (and remain registered as one out of pure laziness and the notion that there’s value in a third party existing.)

      I think that there is getting to be some significant differences now, 40 years later.

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        By the time I was in highschool, I’d concluded that the official history was a lie. That there had in fact been substantial and important differences between the parties for over a hundred years before I’d been born. This past cycle I became a bit disenchanted with the idealized view I had built up of the Republican Party. Ignoring Trump, look at Wendell Willkie.

        I still strongly oppose the Democrats. I just doubt that the Republican Party strongly enough opposes the Democrats.

        • It seems like so many in the Republican party are just looking for a way to hand everything over to the Democratic party

          • Some people read Spiderman and conclude, “With lack of great power comes lack of great responsibility.” All the perks of holding Federal office and none of the pressure to deliver.

          • We’ve got the Oregon primary tonight. The leading R-Gov candidate is willing to “compromise” on sanctuary cities, gun control and abortion. None of those themes made it in the forest worth of paper he sent out to votors. Arggh. Junion division of the Bipartisan Fusion Party, check.

      • Forty years ago the prevailing political science philosophy was that the two parties competed for the center, fighting over small differences at the edges. Thus a Democrat candidate in a suburban district more closely resembled the Republican candidate for that district than either did the candidates in a neighboring urban district.

        That is no longer the case. This is attributable to several factors. First, certain mega-trends, over-arching narratives began to distinguish the two parties across the boards. Abortion politics, for one, although the candidates on each side often spoke a more energetic support for the party position than they actually enacted, angering the base by being squishes. Democrat support for butter over guns (Social Welfare over Defense, such as Obama’s sequester delivered) was another cleavage point. Direct mail fund solicitations and subsequent on-line fundraising also made candidates more independent of local voters, relying more on outside funding (Soros, Steyer, Adelman, Koch, e.g.) than the constituents in their district.

        It also became easier to play to the fringe, riling up “the base” while depressing centrist voters as well as those on the opposite side. This is part of what is driving the Left’s battle against gerrymandering, this and the fact that identity politics has rendered the Black vote and the Brown vote virtually wholly-owned subsidiaries of the DNC.

        All of this has tended to drive the parties toward their poles and enhanced contrasts between the two more than was apparent forty years ago.

        • Sort of. If you look back exactly 40 years ago, it was Humphrey vs Nixon, and one of the most hotly contested Democratic party primaries ever, ending with teargas and riot police in Chicago.

        • Direct mail fund solicitations and subsequent on-line fundraising also made candidates more independent of local voters,

          It also made them more independent of the parties. This has lessoned the ability of the parties to enforce discipline on key votes while letting candidates vote as they would (for various reasons) on less prominent issues.

          That means ideological lockstep is needed to replace the ability to whip a caucus.

          • … ideological lockstep is needed to replace the ability to whip a caucus.

            Let’s face it, there are a good many members of each caucus who could use a good whipping.

  6. Tell me a good story and I will be back. Straight, simple, and easy. Trad pub doesn’t like easy it seems. Ah well, their loss. I am finding all sorts of new writers that I am liking at least.

    • I like stories which will leave me feeling better after finishing the book, or movie, or tv series episode (asking for a satisfying conclusion to a series seems to be a vain hope, most of them just fizzle out without ever getting there. Which is why I much prefer series which do NOT have any overarching plots meant to run for the whole lifetime of the series, or past a season). Since I am rather depression prone it is actually not that difficult, some hope and reasons to feel good about a few good characters making it, and the idea that yes, there are good people who truly care about other people and stuff and they don’t lose every time. And all that served without beating me over the head with some political or ideological messages. I don’t mind if the characters give a lecture or two, I can always skip them if I don’t feel like reading them, just don’t try to guilt trip me or keep drumming about whatever all the time.

      • I’ve run out of things to watch on Netflix lately. The latest series I tried watching had two seasons, about 13 episodes apiece. By ep 12 of S1 they were already on like their 4th set of ‘evil bad guys’ after having switched at least two of the previous into ‘good guys’ and taking their little isolated problem into the wider world. Too much ‘huh?’ even with the eye candy. I’ve been drifting back into shows from the 70s, 80s and early 90s.

        • That’s why I watch gameshows. Very clear. By the end of the episode someone wins, someone loses. The only thing I hate is the over the top forced humor, and making every double entendre possible. I’ve been watching youtube.

        • Holy cow, even Anime takes at least a season to build up the bad guy, beat him, and next season he’s converted!

          • Why does the Nanoha-based meme “You gonna get befriended” come to mind? *grin*

            Link to meme, and hopefully WordPress won’t turn this one into an embedded image. (It’s rather large, and I don’t want to break the formatting of the comments section).

            I assume you’ve already seen this one, Foxfier, but if somehow you haven’t, shoot me an email (or just reply to this comment) and I’ll tell you why you really should watch Nanoha.

            • It’s on the “anime to watch with the kids” list that Elf has.

              • Watch it yourself before you watch it with the kids: there’s a scene in season 1, episode 7, which is likely traumatize your kids if they see it unprepared. (I’ll omit details since it’s a major plot point and I don’t want to spoil the show for you). That scene is foreshadowed an episode or two ahead of time, so you’ll see it coming since you’re probably going to notice the foreshadowing and figure out what it’s referring to. But your kids won’t figure out the foreshadowing, so they’ll be completely caught off-guard by what happens in that scene. (Because I guarantee they will NOT be expecting it.)

                It’s not a scene that I would have any qualms of conscience about watching, or about any other adult watching, BTW. (E.g., it’s not graphic sex OR graphic violence). But kids who don’t yet know about what kind of evil the human heart can get up to… should probably not see that kind of thing unprepared. At the very least, your decision to allow your kids to see that scene should be an informed one.

              • Oh, and there’s one thing in season 3 that you’ll want to be prepared to discuss with your kids. It’s something that could have an innocent meaning (and I choose to read the innocent meaning into it), but lots of people would read a less-than-innocent meaning into that thing in season 3, and you should at least know ahead of time what you’re going to see. Again, nothing explicit, so I have no qualms of conscience recommending the show to adults. But if you’re planning to watch it with your kids, this is one you’ll want to pre-screen privately so you know what subjects you’ll need to discuss with your kids when they come up in the show.

          • P.S. Anyone who hasn’t seen Nanoha, do NOT Google it until you’ve watched the show. Spoilers abound.

        • Scorpion got cancelled this week. It was popcorn TV, and occasionally seeing which bloopers made it through. But, I think it jumped the shark with the messy love polyhedron. We’re still watching a couple of CBS police procedurals (NCIS and Scott Bakula’s NOLA variant), but the last show I really got engaged in was Person of Interest. Kind of a nice redemption arc for several of the good guys.

          • I used to really like NCIS. We fell away from it a few years ago when our daughter started paying more attention to what was on TV, and now that she’s older and able to understand better we just never got back into it.

            • Something I’m noticing in NICS (mostly them, lesser so in NCIS-NOLA) is that they let the characters grow without shoving it into your face. The McGee character is slowly but steadily quietly acting more like the boss, and the goofy undercover guy is actually showing signs of maturity. It’s pretty much happening across the ensemble. Nice play, folks.

              • It’s like the stuff that happened before actually matters.

                Plus, their military stuff isn’t painful. ^.^
                (There have been some doozies, but one, they had good plot reasons for it, and two, if you get a big enough group of military together, they’ll have different doozies and most of them will be stuff someone actually saw happen, or close enough…..)

              • but Abby left!

                • $SPOUSE called it last week for the temporary(?) replacement. I think she might do the trick.

                  The DVR has the NOLA finale; I’m anticipating a cliffhanger, and have no expectations that they won’t lose yet another agent because reasons.

                  • we know she’s leaving the series, and they have a certain track record for female characters that leave the series…

                    • We watched the first part of the finale last night (DVR FTW!). It’s beginning to look like NOLA won’t be part of our regular viewing next year. IMHO, the minor characters (CCH Pounder’s Loretta Wade and Rob Kerkovich’s Sebastian) are more interesting than the leads, particularly Scott Bakula and Lucas Black.

                      Rogue thought: suppose we could get Jolene Blalock on the show? Failing that, an alien Nazi. 🙂 Hmm, NCIS-Enterprise….

                    • Finally caught the second half of the finale. Thwart the big bad, only for Our Hero to get shot (cleverly avoiding fatal shots) by the villain’s villainous hitlady. I suppose there’s going to be a bigger, badder villain (cause otherwise the henchlady should have gotten out of Dodge, and that’s mighty fast recovery from supposedly serious wounds) next season. Which I don’t have to watch. Don’t plan to.

                    • well at this point, most of the characters i like are gone so…

        • If you don’t mind cartoons, Wakfu is quite good. I watch it in French, so I don’t know how good the English dub is.

          • Latest season of it isn’t so good. Totally retcons the last season out of existence. I had to stop watching it when villain revealed who he was and explained why he was doing what he was doing.

            • Feather Blade

              When you say “the latest season” do you mean the one with Oropo’s tower?

              ’cause that one’s bizarre, I’ll grant you that, and leaves a whole raft of unanswered questions, but I thought that the closed temporal loop worked reasonably well.

              Or is there a season after that one?

  7. I’m not the brightest feline in the pride. Somethings take me a while to notice. (good thing I don’t live in the grass lands, I’d probably miss the zebra) I suspect it is, in part, because I am very linear in my thinking. If I don’t see it, it isn’t there. So I miss things others see – like the subtle messages. I struggled in English Lit class with the idea of imagery (er, it’s a dead tree, what else can it mean?) and themes. (Yeah, I don’t get most poetry.) Teacher: “What did [author] mean when he said [fill in the blank].” Me: *blink*

    I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had someone tell me that a book has overtone of [fill in the blank] and I’ve been mystified. All I saw was the main plot and characters. (I still don’t see the alleged racism in 5th Column.) So, I missed the growing drift towards PC in the books I read. I only noticed that I didn’t like “modern” sf and fantasy was getting unrealistic. (I mean I love Jirel of Jory and Red Sonja but how many clones can we have before it becomes boring? I never saw Jane or Clarrisa as being weak (would I have loved to have seen a story about the Red Lensman, sure but do I whine about it – of course not.) I saw them as partners for their mates.) I didn’t like the doom and despair. I wanted action; I wanted hope. It got to the point that I didn’t want to read women writers since they were the ones that bored me the most. (I still remember the McCaffry book that I had the whole plot figured out 1/3 of the way in. I think I quit reading her work at that point.)

    The odd thing is, once I learn to see something, I cannot unsee it. (oh, there are zebra out there, now I see them.) Ever since I started hanging out here and the MGC I’ve started to see it – the messages, the little lines that use to annoy me but I couldn’t figure out why. [so and so is such and such. Me: So? What does that have to do with the story?]

    If traditional publishers want to go that way, keep forcing boring stuff out, then I’m going to keep my hard earned pennies and go somewhere else – and the growing indie market is looking nice.

    I would say y’all ruined me, but that’s not true. Because I have found a host of writers who still write the kind of sf&f that I like. (okay, the zebra are there, but behind them are some wildebeest and they look pretty good.)

    So to all of you I say: keep writing. Some of us not so brights are starting to catch on and we want/need good – fun – hope filled stories.

    • I believe you refer to Heinlein’s Sixth Column, based upon a story of Campbell’s, rather than 5th Column.

      • yeah, I miss-typed that. I did say I wasn’t the brightest feline in the pride. 😉

      • And it is not racist. He went a long way to make it NOT racist, including having Asian people on the side of angels — as opposed to the original he was handed which I understand WAS racist.
        Here’s the thing, yeah, people use racial slurs in the novel. If they didn’t, it would be unbelievable.

        • You’re correct, of course – Robert Heinlein take great pains when writing Sixth Column to ameliorate the racism that was present in the original story John Campbell had written.

        • … having Asian people on the side of angels

          But were those authentic Asian people?

          Heinlein was racist and sexist because he never adhered to teh narrative, and there is nothing so blankophobic as thinking for yourself! Why, if everyone thought for xirself what kind of society could we maintain? There would be chaos, anarchy, liberty!

          • Chaos or anarchy can be managed and profited from.

            Liberty, on the other hand, is always dangerous to the power structure.

        • Well at least Robert is in good company. It’s impossible these days to read just about anything by Mark Twain that hasn’t been redacted for bad words. And more’s the pity for that rape of true American literature.

        • Was just listening to the EMI recording of Show Boat. The first song, hell, the first word would have the SJW heads exploding.

          Who all works on the Mississippi?

    • Teacher: “What did [author] mean when he said [fill in the blank].”
      ———
      I, too, hated this question because I was happy to read words without trying figure out what the author was really saying. I made one English teacher furious when I said author means what they wrote and that I was not mind reader capable of divining what author really meant.

      • I’m somewhat the opposite. The teachers hated it when I would see something totally the opposite of what they saw.

        The best one was when they saw all dispare and gloom in a photo and I came up with it’s fun and light and a good time based on the same symbols they pointed out.

        • I was forced to take an English course at university in early 1990s and I was outraged at some people’s answers about what the author really meant and so I decided to be contrarian and pull answers out of my arse that didn’t really make sense and got a B for my efforts at end of semester.

        • I love “monkeywrenching” the Standard Pattern or such. It does drive some bonkers when they find their argument says exactly what they do not wish anyone to see.

          Example: The USPS had (has? it’s been so long) about how a letter can go across town or across the country for the same stamp price[1], and isn’t the guy sending a letter across the country getting a great deal?

          Monkeywrenched: Isn’t the guy sending a letter across town getting screwed over?

          [1] The real selling point here is the convenience of single-price and no differing fees for differing delivery zones or distances. But they FAILED to come out and actually SAY that.

        • I loved seeing an interview with Robert Frost when he said “the woods are lovely, dark and deep” had nothing to do with death at all, and he didn’t know where anyone got that idea. Take that, English teachers!

        • I’m fairly sure that the “deep meanings” teachers find in books aren’t personal observations, but just standard commentaries by someone else that they’re quoting.

      • 🙂 Like that one. Would never have had the guts. But I really, really, like that one.

        Guess that is why I never took literature in College, just required (where I learned I had no business writing anything, stopped me cold;, slowly getting over it) & business writing.

        But, I don’t remember getting a lot of those type of questions, beyond the first week of each semester. I don’t remember reading the traditional assigned “classics”. Oh they were assigned, but if you read any two books, for each required classic, & submitted reports on what you read (& not very in depth analysis either), you could opt out. Since I usually read considerably more than 2 books per classic, I kind of, yea, definitely took advantage.

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        Kratman got me turned onto reading for subtext and other such literary things.

        What does this really mean?

        He’s trolling the left. He’s trying to explain some non-obvious aspect of military art or professionalism. He’s pointing out that unexpected consequences mean that results of an action do not always follow intent.

      • I never got that bold. 🙂 My answers tended to be along the line of stating the oblivious. [ala “Yorick was his friend”]

        • I’ve had life long problem with authority and public school teachers figure prominently. Getting my teachers wound up was a joy of mine beginning in grade two when teacher went on a ‘respect my authority’ rant when I was being cheeky with her.

      • Unless the author writes about writing the book, or talks about writing the book, then requiring a reader to tell you what the author mean when he said [fill in the blank] is usually wasted effort.
        It’s a story. It’s about the characters, not the author (unless it’s an autobiography, and even then, authors lie, even to their ghost writers, especially political authors.)
        Now if it was, “Tell me what you think the character was thinking as he was doing [x, y, or z], and explain why.” That’s a thinking, organization, and writing exercise. It certainly shouldn’t be used to vet a student’s political leanings.

      • Teacher: `What did [author] mean when he said [fill in the blank].`

        Me: Who cares> Isn’t the crux of Derrida’s insights that the author’s intent is irrelevant, that we, as readers, impute meaning, wholly independent of the author’s intent, into what we read? If Deconstructionism means anything it means that what is really important about any work of art is what the reader takes away, not what the writer, editor and publisher put out.

        • Teacher: `What did [author] mean when he said [fill in the blank].`

          Me: The author meant, “Please buy my books, please give me more money, I will do whatever you want.”

          • ISTR a story about Poul Anderson, his daugher Astrid, and a class assignment to write an essay explaining “why do you think author wrote this book” for one of Poul’s SF books.
            Astrid turned in an essay that said “Because I needed braces.” The teacher rewarded this effort with an unfortunate grade.

            So Poul sent in a note to the teacher that said something along the lines of “No, Really. Astrid needed braces, and I needed the money to pay for them. That’s why I wrote that book.”

            She got an A on the assignment.

      • Margaret Ball

        Some well-known thriller writer (sorry, forget who) attended a lecture in which the English teacher was waxing poetic about the Freudian implications of the briefcase handcuffed to the protagonist’s wrist. Eventually he interrupted and said, “Actually, the only thing the handcuffs symbolize is that he’s dead if he loses that briefcase.”

    • “Teacher: “What did [author] mean when he said [fill in the blank].” Me: *blink*”

      *Blink, Blink*, “Uhhhh” … because I was most likely reading something else & so not paying attention.

      “I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had someone tell me that a book has overtone of [fill in the blank] and I’ve been mystified. All I saw was the main plot and characters. (I still don’t see the alleged racism in 5th Column.) So, I missed the growing drift towards PC in the books I read. I only noticed that I didn’t like “modern” sf and fantasy was getting unrealistic. ”

      Ditto. Well “racism” in 6th Column I picked up is not the PC version; as the baddies who want to take over are racist against any of their types that are indoctrinated (escaped?) into freedom in prior generations. That anyone can be willing to go along to get along; sometimes gleefully (because they were scum before or now they have the opportunity to be scum). That certain cultures when book was written even under the enlightenment governmental structure are hierarchical, dogmatic, & still are, regardless of gender. I *think* the PC view is our heroes are the racists, but darn if I know how (still).

      “I would say y’all ruined me, but that’s not true. Because I have found a host of writers who still write the kind of sf&f that I like. (okay, the zebra are there, but behind them are some wildebeest and they look pretty good.)”

      Yes. Agree. Must admit, I’ve gotten very choosy on what series or Authors I read. Series has to catch me from the get go, beyond “Okay”, or I don’t continue it & I won’t be preached to regardless. Must also be free or almost. I have a LOT of books I have to re-read (well to be fair, more like “can”) & that does not count the ones I’ve archived, which are available under desperation.

      • “I *think* the PC view is our heroes are the racists, but darn if I know how (still).”

        According to one liberal college friend, yes. Or RAH himself for using Asians as the villains. It never occurred to me because I knew when the book was written and the fear of the common American. But then I don’t consider “Huck Finn” to be racist either.

        • Guess part of my problem is Asians or USSR were still the boogie man when I was reading it.

          I can’t buy into the “book is racist” when what is described is standard for the time it was written or for the period it was written for.

          Here’s an interesting what-if situation. What if Pres. Obama & Secret Service, along with some Seals or Rangers, & 1/2 dozen other civilians of differing heritages, were sudden transported to say, ummm, 1855, in the deep south? Do you think ALL of them be smart enough to keep quiet until they could figure out how to get back, or not? It would only take one or two to not be …

          • If former President Obama had been transported anywhere in the US, in any year, without his Secret Service detail, I’m not sure how long he’d survive.

            • Agree. Which is why I at least gave him a chance. Between Secret Service Detail & Seals/Rangers, okay extra civilians might get in the way. Had to give the heroes some challenge. After all they have to keep former president & civilians alive … *evil grin* Because I am pretty sure Obama couldn’t keep his mouth shut to help the heroes keep saving his life. YMMV

              • Add in that the sport people would NATURALLY be multi-everything. Black female Secret Service agent, Asian/Black Seal or Ranger, etc.
                The thing is that there were a lot of Free Blacks in the South, even Black Slave Owners. In Louisiana He might have been alright.

                • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                  Actually I’d think Obama’s attitude might annoy Free Blacks in Louisiana. 😈

                • Well, yes, multi-ethnicity, & both genders, in all relevant parties. As someone else pointed out, he would be smart enough to shut up, eventually, but fast enough? Would his detail sit on him fast enough?

                  Then there is the addition of trained females for protection. Not that the South would necessarily be unaware of female protectors, I wouldn’t call Harriet Truman as a pushover, but today’s perception definitely wouldn’t put the concept in the forefront of possibilities.

                  Yes, there were free Blacks & Black Slave owners but how does that fit into his world view? It sure isn’t clear in today’s politics that anyone who farmed could & did have slaves regardless of genetics, black, native (before pilgrims), or European.

                  I mean that would be part of the story’s conflict. Just don’t know how realistic that would be.

                  Yes. I can come up with a lot of “hmmm what if …” but that is as far as I can take it.

          • I doubt Barry would tolerate the disrespect but, as nobody would pay him any serious heed it wouldn’t much matter and he’s bright enough to keep his mouth after the first few whippings.

            I admit to a certain amusement at the thought of SecSatate John “Do You Know Who I Am?” Kerry presenting himself for the admiration of the proles, although his shock at the realization that nobody needed no huntin’ license might have gotten him quickly assigned village idiot status (admittedly he is over-qualified.)

            • Original statement did say few other people, didn’t say who, or that Kerry wasn’t one of them **evil grin**.

              So. How irritating do you think, between the both of them, could they be? Guess it could have been a “pity party” & throw in Hillary, Walters, Schumer, ??? 😉

    • > imagery

      We had to learn some “classic” short story in junior high. Some incredibly boring tripe about an old man and a fish. Maybe. It was so stuffed with adjectives and adverbs it was hard to tell what was supposed to be going on.

      The teacher started asking something about why a character died. I hadn’t seen anything about that, so I spoke up, and was snottily informed that it should be obvious from the “tolling bells.”

      Nope. Going on 45 years later, I still have no idea.

      “The sky was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.”

      • Captain Comic

        “The sky was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.”

        So…blue?

        Wait….I was alive in ’84.

        Yeah, got it now.

        Odd little things that change over the years, no?

        • Now I’m wondering if they chose blue on purpose…..

        • To me, that meant “black and white static.” It was many years later I saw a TV where the screen just went dark gray between channels. I’m fairly sure that’s what he intended. I’ve never seen one that went blue between channels. (we haven’t had a television since the 20th century)

          “The future is here, just unevenly distributed.”

        • Linda Lee was killed over 16 MB of RAM.

    • If a teacher is any good, they will teach you the tricks to seeing the symbolism– it’s just another language, like color-coding.

      The problem with that is it won’t get the “right” answer in a political setup.

    • > Red Lensman

      Word was that Smith had planned a book around Clarissa but it never happened. I don’t know if he didn’t get around to it or if he couldn’t interest a publisher.

  8. Political virtue signalling is equivalent to pop culture references in novels from the Seventies (or any other decade not current): almost nobody gets them because they were far too ephemeral even at the time those books were written. With the singular distinction that the few who do get the allusion will probably be annoyed by it because those who disliked the politics of the time are still annoyed by them.

    Such references are tedious, plodding, cowardly and a distraction from the story people bought the book to read.

    • I was thinking about this the other day and I think that between all the ego building (instead of self-esteem) and the indoctrination students are receiving that virtue signaling is a logical product of those elements.

      The kids have had pretty much anything resembling a challenge removed from their lives growing up and, as a result, have zero actual self-esteem. What they have instead is a giant ego that is amazingly fragile. Ego needs constant reinforcement hence the virtue signaling and the need for safe spaces since their ego is being kept intact by believing in their indoctrination.

      (That would be my amateur Psychologist take anyway).

  9. It does have all the look of those old news reels of the staged steam train head-on collisions, doesn’t it?

    • Try looking up the staged train head-on collision that they sold tickets to. People road trains and came from hundreds of miles to see it. It was spectacular. Pieces few for hundreds of yards into the crowd.
      A great time was had by all, except for the injured.

  10. She ants to sell again

    Thought was dragon, not ant. Hrmm… a dragon that changes into an ant… that sells books… more effectively than a dragon? Odd.

  11. Tom Wolfe has died, now that fella could write and never had to worry about pc\virtue signalling in his books and essays.

    • Never had to worry? I don’t think he was capable of pc\virtue signalling. He and PJ O’Rourke bake their bread in ovens fueled by burning faggots* of Liberal pieties.

      *faggots: “a bundle of sticks bound together as fuel” because no Liberal piety has sufficient substance to be termed a log.

      • Faggots are also what they call something similar to pork pie in Wales and Midlands. A gay Canadian friend of mine visited me in England when I lived there and one day we walking around quaint town and he sees sign for Best Faggots In Town at butcher’s and he was gobsmacked. He made me take photo of him by sign and then we walked around corner and there was sign for Tastiest Faggots In Town and we took another photo. My friend took photos at four different signs, made collage and hung on his wall, and now he loves to shock his gay friends the first time they visit him at home.

        • My understanding of the derivation is that cigar smokers, back when cigars were king, were prone to deride smokers of cigarettes as less manly, smoking “faggots” rather than a “real man’s cigar.” Indeed, the slang term “fag” applied to cigarettes well into the Great War as notarized in several popular songs of the era:

          Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag,
          And smile, smile, smile,
          While you’ve a lucifer to light your fag,
          Smile, boys, that’s the style.
          What’s the use of worrying?
          It never was worth while, so
          Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag,
          And smile, smile, smile.

      • Tom Wolfe and PJ ORourke are in my top three favourite culture/politics writers. Wolfe was legend, The Right Stuff was first book of his I read and then I read most of rest.

      • Also means bassoons.

        Funny how symphonic musicians always seem able to cope. Must be because we gave up arguing with dead French, italians, and Germans by sixth grade!

  12. There is for instance, this gem, written, of course, by a male, who thinks little girls just can’t wait to read about pussy hatted “resistance” the “evil regime of Donald Trump.
    Ugh. Can you provide more info or a link? Was this some editor’s FB feed, or a guidance to writers, or what? Thanks.

  13. I liked Jove better.

    Marx owes a great deal to Woden: all is a continual struggle between great powers (Asgard, Vanaheimr, Álfheimr, Svartálfaheimr, Jötunheimr, Muspelheim and the rest) destined to eventually destroy reality (Ragnarok) and enable the rise of a new Utopian reality in which Peace will reign.

  14. You know how I said some people read compulsively? It turns out we make most of the money for publishers.

    In most industries the practitioners do extensive market research, identifying the various components of their buyers. Automakers break their buyers into demographic patterns – trucks, minivans, muscle cars, etc. – and study the characteristics of each segment. Politics is even worse about this, identifying and targeting their sales pitch very carefully.

    Publishing, OTOH, seems completely impervious to such market analysis. Perhaps it is simply that the analysis isn’t visible to the public, being held ass proprietary information, but the evidence of publisher behaviour strongly suggests that even if they accumulate such data they ignore it. They may look at sales figures and follow what they perceive as trends but if they are identifying and exploiting market segments their marketing would surely be different.

    In some ways the publishers remind me of baseball before the “Moneyball” revolution: the industry is largely run by those who have “grown up” in it, learning the adages and “book” by which the game is played and not only making no real effort to do in-depth analysis of the underlying factors but openly disdaining those who preach the new gospel.

    They know what they know and won’t be confused by facts. They don’t care about we compulsive readers ad to the extent they are aware of us they are mostly contemptuous. They heed their reviewers and each other; they have their “system” and see no cause to update their operational model. Sure, they are headed toward an iceberg dwarfing that which crushed the Titanic but as they’re moving as a fleet so nobody feels compelled to alter course. They’ve accepted their decline and are simply looking to manage it as best possible, hoping to be the last down the drain.

    • I’ve been wondering how much of the current state of publishing is because they hire mainly young female lit majors right out of college to be their editors (because they’re cheap), girls with no life experience to knock the college nonsense out of their heads? And the ones who stay in publishing stay in the bubble. We now have generations of mental incest in publishing, like academia.

      (I’ve been wondering it a whole lot lately, because that’s probably the main thing that has destroyed Marvel Comics, the comic industry being a kind of concentrated microcosm of SF&F publishing. And comics fell in a matter of a few years).

    • Denial is not just a river in Egypt. Taking a good, hard look at one’s worldview is a tough thing- what if everything you know is wrong!
      Better instead to just pretend everything is fine, FINE! Ebooks are just a fad, magic demographics mean that a permanent Left Democratic government is just around the corner, and all those nasty deplorable people are mostly Russian bots.

  15. There they are, up on the bridge.

    So far the crowd they’re lecturing from there has been nice and has NOT been (loudly and in unison) shouting, “JUMP! JUMP! JUMP!”

    So far.

  16. i have demonstrated that reading need not be sedentary. If it is raining or cold or dark, I put my kindle on a book holder and fire up my treadmill. If i’m outside I fire up an audiobook and listen at 1.5x while walking. This is my simple 23,000-step weight loss plan.

    This morning I listened to Anti-Fragile, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Therein he describes inherently fragile systems and what makes them so. It struck me how much this fit big publishing’s “blockbuster” mindset and its deprecation of mid-list authors. So, let’s be happy and short big publishing stock

  17. Heinlein had the wonderful ability to both entertain and teach. He was the first person who explained to me wealth creation (the story of making an apple tart in Starship Troopers.)

  18. I bought that mag back when it was new because the humor really touched me……

  19. The public library market (c2012) for materials is about 1 billion dollars*

    How much of a distorting effect does this have on the bookselling world? To what extent are publishers virtue signalling to librarians? I know one personally, who purchases children’s materials: Million dollar budget, no returns.

    I don’t know, but based on the infographic Dave Freer linked to (at MGC) my profession is overwhelmingly prog. So there’s that. Not much one can do about it except provide moral support for the non-lefty librarians and try to hold the line on intellectual freedom.

    Interesting times.

    *11.4 % of 10.7 billion dollars: http://www.ala.org/tools/libfactsheets/alalibraryfactsheet04

    • I don’t have any personal experience, but I’ve read that this is a particularly big deal for children’s books: the target market isn’t children but children’s librarians, and often children’s librarians emphasize the books they think kids ought to like over the ones kids actually do.

      • And back in my childhood, it seemed children’s librarians had a fetish for dead dogs. It’s even a trope- “Death By Newbery Medal”.

      • I wouldn’t worry markedly. Libraries are becoming homeless shelters and of less and less consideration to those who read. And book choice is only part of it.

        • On consideration, I think you’re right on the latter, at least for anything grade 7 and up.

          We’ve gone ’round the library-as-homeless shelters before. I have no I dead how this time is going to turn out. Interesting times.

      • Going by the books I buy from “friends of the Library” on Amazon, this is so.

      • Our library will actually let you fill out a form for books you would like t see appear in the library. They may or may not get bought, but you can try. I learned this around age 13. I think my librarians got a kick out of a kid who actually cared enough to request specific books.

        • I was work-study for my high school library in my freshman year and the librarian, noting that I actually knew something about fantasy and science fiction, had *me* pick the books she should order.

          The only downside to this was that it made it almost impossible for me to discover new stuff there, but at least I could make sure there was some quality literature in that section. (Early 90s, so things like Melanie Rawn, C.S. Friedman, and Connie Willis.)

        • My library system recently added a “we won’t even consider getting it if it’s more than 2 years old” rider our book request policy. Granted our ILL is world-spanning and generous, but it’s a bad sign.

          “Go woke, lose your core competencies” doesn’t rhyme, but it’s still real.

      • Yes. That’s why even the dinkiest 2nd grade shark book has an index.

        So that (and the school library market will continue to provide a buffer. Which is a pisser, because upper YA is now converged (middle school is holding the line, and because it’s aspirational, we still get books like The Assassin’s Curse or the Lockwood Files.

        But (see Mrs. Hoyt’s comment below) it’s likely that the broad split of focus (and seeming carelessness about indie and e-books) is going to limit any cushion for anything else.

  20. But I didn’t go to sleep. The truth is, I’ve got a monkey on my back, a habit worse than marijuana though not as expensive as heroin. I can stiff it out and get to sleep anyway–but it wasn’t helping that I could see light in Stars tent and a silhouette that was no longer troubled by a dress.
    The fact is I am a compulsive reader. Thirty-five cents’ worth of Gold Medal Original will put me right to sleep. Or Perry Mason. But I’ll read the ads in an old Paris-Match that has been used to wrap herring before I’ll do without.
    I got up and went around the tent. “Psst! Rufo.”
    “Yes, milord.” He was up fast, a dagger in his hand.
    “Look, is there anything to read around this dump?”
    “What sort of thing?”
    “Anything, just anything. Words in a row.”

    • This is the RAH quote from Glory Road, in case it’s not clear that these words are not my words.

  21. “I’ve run into this attitude before, where publishers think they are teachers and the publishing house some kind of podium from which they should teach their “truths” to the public. ”

    Please excuse me, I gonna lecture a little.

    A good deal of the history of publishing revolves around this idea. UNCLE TOM’S CABIN would not have seen print without it. My Father’s last (unfinished, and I really need to do something about that someday) work was an annotated bibliography of the printing business of one Joseph Johnson (1738-1809). This man’s publishing house was a confluence of some of the most radical and influential ideas of his day. He saw fit to print the likes of Mary Wollstonecraft, Thomas Malthus, and Joseph Priestly. He also did a lively business in the scientific pamphlets of the era. He published to make a living, true, but he also published to instruct.

    This is the business of the ‘Unbiased Media’ all over again. The problem isn’t that publishers have bias and hobbyhorses. The problem is that the Establishment Left has managed to bamboozle people into thinking that that isn’t so. It used to be that you could, with very little trouble, find out that (for example) Dunlop and Finnegan believed in Phrenology and wouldn’t touch anything that went counter to that.

    The problem isn’t the bias, per se. The problem is the pretense that it isn’t so, and the violent indignation when exposed.

    Kinda reminds one of Dracula’s reaction to a cross.

    • nope. Genre isn’t a place to instruct. Sure, the writer can get important ideas across, but his or her job is above all to entertain.

      • Ne can, of course, make that argument, but the idea is fairly new. Hell, the idea of The Novel is a fairly recent social construct. Oh, Professors of Literature can (and will, unless forcibly prevented) trace The Novel all the way back to the oral tradition. But the idea of The Novel as solely entertainment; ephemeral jollies for a mass audience is not much kore than a few hundred years old, and in the beginning it could be pretty feeble.

        Don Quixote is a bitter social satire. Dickens was, for the most part, writing polemics disguised as stories. Early SF is littered with the likes of H.G. Wells.

        It just used to be assumed that a writer had a point of view, and that it would inform his literary choices. A Good writer was somebody who could entertain while you disagreed with him. A Bad writer was somebody like Frederick W. Farrar, whose ERIC, OR LITTLE BY LITTLE Kipling mocks in STALKY & CO.

    • Inform =/= lecture.

      Those guys had to persuade; these guys wanna berate.

      • True, but UNCLE TOM’E CABIN is pretty preachy, when you get right down to it. The difference is that Harriet Beecher Stowe expected some people to hate it, and didn’t get all indignant when they did.

        • My understanding is that many of writers of the past, for example Twain, were essentially self-published. Going to a printer and paying for the typesetting and binding to put your books out was sort of normal, no?

  22. (why are they convinced that other people, you know, real live adults want to hear the opinion of 8 year olds?)
    Because children are innocent and pure and therefore have ABSOLUTE MORAL AUTHORITY. So, you MUST listen to them – as long as they’re spouting progressive propaganda. If they’re saying anything about independence or freedom or responsibility or any of those sorts of things, they’ve obviously already had their minds twisted by “alt-right rhetoric”.

    Oh yeah, the stupid is VERY strong with that idea. But it’s part and parcel of progressive theology, that the natural state of man (and therefore best embodied by children) is pure and perfect, rather than broken and sinful.

    BTW, this is also why they emphasize “children” – where they include people we would call adults – for things like gun death statistics: they are the embodiment of purity and innocence, so they have a totemic quality. Similar to sacrificing virgins to volcano gods or to dragons.

    • ABSOLUTE MORAL AUTHORITY

      Well, that and because shut up.


      We believe in freedom of speech, but only for responsible speakers.

  23. They think that books with Message will convert the unwashed because that’s how *they* learned the One True Way. So it must work, right? A few of the brighter ones have started to suspect the hoi polloi aren’t buying the stewed spinach in book form, but that is easily dismissed as “troglodytes don’t read” and pinch-faced scolding about screen time. It’s all they know how to do. As their balance sheets are inevitably revealing…

  24. If TradPub shoots itself, that means more readers looking for good stuff in the Indy market… which benefits me. 🙂
    Not seeing a downside here…

  25. (I suspect the political ones don’t sell and the writers give up. Because, you know, it’s a lot of work if you don’t get any return. And I’m not saying the political ones are bad. I’m saying at least those who are left are competing for readers in a saturated field.)
    And a lot of those “political” ones are very, very niche. I have a friend who wrote a book that qualifies as “transgender romance”. He was toward the top of that list for a short while. But the list is very short and the readership is very small. He was complaining about his advertising not working anymore, and I told him (though I tried to not be this blunt) “everyone that reads that genre has now read your book; you have no one left to advertise to.”
    (BTW, he is indie-/self-published, I think straight through Amazon.)

  26. Obligatory:

  27. Get woke, go broke.

    – Kurt Schlicter

  28. Now appearing:

    The Social Justice Zealots Are Unmasking Themselves
    By Sarah Hoyt
    You know the best part of the internet? The dirty work of the Left is done in the full light of day. You might not think that’s good, but allow me to explain.

    When I first broke into publishing, my (I assure you well-intentioned) mentors told me that not only should I watch everything I said in public, not to give anyone the chance to create a rumor about me, but I also should immediately drop anyone who happened to seem to be on the outs, because I never knew why the publishers had dropped the person, and I didn’t want it splashing on me.

    I probably don’t need to tell anyone that while I worried obsessively about the first, I never did the second. My friends were my friends, and even if I had no clue why they were being dropped, I wasn’t going to pretend I didn’t know them. This has paid off, actually, because over time my friends have been the best asset to my career.

    But in 2003 when I was dropped by Ace, a desert formed around me, and people I’d trusted as friends stopped talking to me.

    Did they hear anything about me? Were there rumors flying? There was no way to know.

    You could be banished to the hinterlands by rumors that made absolutely no sense and had nothing to do with reality. All it took was one person who disliked you or had reason to believe you were the wrong political color, and suddenly no one would talk to you.

    There was no confronting your accusers.

    In that sense, the Internet is a great boon to us, because now what the crazy Leftists do, they have to do in the full light of day.

    We have yet another advantage, because today unless you’re a very old-fashioned writer, you no longer fear that your publisher will drop you because of an opinion you expressed, or an opinion your friends expected

    Take for instance how today Origins, a gaming con in Ohio which had invited my friend Larry Correia, one of my colleagues at Baen and a devoted gamer, to be guest of honor, today decided to uninvite him, less than a month from the con with this kind of vague patter. …

  29. Every now and then, I hit politics in the indie romances I read (mostly paranormal because they’re the least political) and it seems wildly out of place. I have an author who I really enjoy and I’ve read most of what they’ve written. Got the email that their latest was out and returned it at 50% because by that point they’d gone into 2 unnecessary justifications of why they’re good guys were the white dragons and the bad guys were the black ones. It slowed the story down, made for an incredibly awkward plot and it just wasn’t enjoyable.

    It seemed like she’d gotten comments about how racist she was. I’m not sure anybody had pointed out that all of her heroines were POC. I didn’t care beyond flavor text but it was something I’d noticed. But she apparently was in trouble and ruined a perfectly good series trying to get out of it.

    • Author’s Note: A number of readers have claimed to perceive racism where none exists in my work. The racism you “see” is in your head, not in my book and I refuse to diminish the enjoyment of other readers by catering to your projected fantasies. To all such readers: don’t buy my books. Just put this one back on the shelf right now and walk away.

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        Denbeste had an ‘I got it wrong on purpose’ type disclaimer on his comment box precisely to counter such ‘you got it wrong’ whining.

        I’ve recently started developing a project that is open to criticism. I’m thinking the forward will need to quote Denbeste, then explain that my every worldbuilding choice is written to personally offend the reader. Specifically the exact person who happens to be reading the book.

  30. If I feel sorry for anyone in the mess, it’s the authors and the honest people working for them. Because when the publishers go out business, they’ll be the ones trying to find new jobs, don’t have the golden parachutes, or the contacts to get the cushy job publishing hideously obscure transgender womyn poetry.

    What I’d like? I’d like a tool or website or whatever to make it easy for indie publishers to find editors (GOOD editors) of the types you need, cover artists, layout people, etc, etc, etc…

    • Hmmmm…. Could the builder of said website charge, say… a nickel a month or something for posting the links and making the connections?

      • I was thinking something like Model Mayhem or such-you have a free account, and the premium account not only puts your profile up first on searches, but you can add more samples of your work, etc, etc.

  31. Concerning “educating” people… This is, I think, from Chesterton: “There is a game the common folk play. They take a man, and raise him, and praise him before the world for his genius, and beg his advice, which the great man nobly gives. Then they go away and do the exact opposite, It is a simple game but they are a simple people, and it provides them with hours of innocent pleasure.”

  32. Eh, traditional publishing been going the way of the horse and buggy for awhile now…Jessica’s reblog pulled me here.

  33. The people who still haven’t figured out why Trump really won are going to lecture us about preventing Trump?

    • Lecturing us is the only play in their persuasion playbook.

      Well, that and berating us, denouncing us, insulting us and haranguing us.

    • Yep. They’ve concluded it’s just that they didn’t lecture us ENOUGH.

      • It really is kind of sad, if interesting to open your eyes and “see” the same pattern going over and over.

        Look at the guy on your Unmasking the Left post on PJMedia (actually, you, Sarah, don’t– it’s pretty boring) — pretty much all he DID was either accuse the Puppies of doing exactly what the Hugo guys were already, openly doing, or accuse the people responding of doing what he was doing, right then and there. While ignoring everything they did to raise the quality of the conversation (supported arguments, facts that can be verified objectively, etc were utterly ignored for name-calling and more accusations) and then accusing everyone arguing against him of…well, doing exactly what he was actually doing, and WHICH IS RIGHT THERE IN BLACK AND WHITE FOR ANYONE TO SEE.

        It’s freaking bizarre, all the more because sometimes you see it working. One side with assume good intentions, the other will declare bad intentions, and the first side will basically accept that accusation.

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