Rats in their Heads – a blast from the past from April 2013


*Sorry, I was going to put this up much earlier and it was to be an original post. BUT I woke up too late. I’m going to blame Greebo. Since he came back from treatment, he’s been very clingy (And yes, he’s gaining weight back, let’s hope this is permanent) and last night he put himself in a ball up against my waist. Since I sleep on my side, we were curled one around the other. This is kind of important, because it was very comfortable, which sleeping with cats normally isn’t. He also purred all night, which is very soothing. So I slept till almost ten.  Unfortunately Havelock cat chose to have intestinal disturbances… everywhere. We know it was him, because it included his spot at the foot of our bed, where no other cat dares sit.  Yes, I know. Ew.
Well, I’m trying to finish Other Rhodes to go to betas (due the 31st. Yeah. well.) So normally I’d ask Dan to deal with it, do a blog post, then write. BUT we have house guests coming this afternoon, which include practice grandchildren, so the floor and anything they might touch MUST be cleaned. Meanwhile I found this post. I think it’s old enough most of you never read it/don’t remember it.  Enjoy.*

Rats in their Heads – a blast from the past from April 2013

There is a meme going around facebook, an innocuous little question of “What was the last female writer you read, and the book?”

It’s very popular and being echoed all over.  It’s also a good example of how people think when they get rats in their head.

“But, Sarah,” you say, “why would you object to being introduced to authors you might not have heard of?”

Brother!  This is not how book recommendations and word of mouth happen.  First, with few exceptions, no one in mixed company is going to admit to having spent the entire night awake reading something called “The Sinner” (a romance) or “Three For the Chair” (a mystery) or even “Martians Go Home.” (Satyric science fiction and very funny.)  Instead they will mention the sort of book people buy and leave sitting around on their coffee table to look smart or caring or whatever it is society values this week.

Word of mouth book recommendations are far more targeted.  They’re done by people who know you or at least know what you like to read.  Even I, who read almost anything, have stuff I will not read.  One of them is insufferably stuffy books my kids were forced to read in school.  I couldn’t read them even to give them help with studying them.  In fact, I’d rather have a root canal than read most of those.  The other one is zombie fiction. [I read Ringo’s zombies, but they’re not the rotting falling apart kind of zombie. They are scary, but not that way- SAH-2020]  I truly don’t care if your zombie book is a masterpiece.  I don’t read zombies because yuck.  (Actually I don’t read most horror.  Not because I’m squeamish: I can write blood, guts and wading-through-both-of-those scenes.  I just don’t enjoy being either grossed out or scared.  So reading horror would be fatuous.)  You can recommend me those till you’re blue in the face.  I still ain’t gonna read them.

However, if it were “What was the last writer” or even new writer “you read and the book?” the meme would be merely stupid and vacuous.

It is far worse than that . “The last FEMALE writer” you read.  This is because female writers are supposed to be discriminated against.  Statistically (if you look at it sideways and squint) females get reviewed less than males, and this leads to their selling less than males and this leads–  Excuse me.  I’ll dissect this nauseating fallacy later.  First tell me the last book you read where you gave a good goddamn about the author’s sex.

Unless you are reading true accounts of childbirth or of surviving testicular cancer, if you were specifically looking at the gender of the name on the cover, you’ve got rats in your head.

The first rat is a cute and fluffy baby rat that leads you to believe that the name on the cover has anything to do with the gender of the author – but we’ll let that go by.

We’ll let it go by because the big rat is stinky and dropping pellets all over the culture, and will destroy us if we don’t trap him and kill him.  It’s stained with the blood of millions and it’s called Marxism.

One of the things Marxism does is treat people as widgets.  Take me.  Female, Portuguese origin, married, mother of two, liberal arts post-graduate degree.  I’m supposed to be exactly the same as anyone else with those characteristics.  You should be able to pop me out of this blog and pop someone with those same exact characteristics in my place, and the results are supposed to be indistinguishable.  (Stop laughing.  It’s impolite to laugh at the mentally afflicted.)

No?  How no?  What is the purpose then of all these comparisons “more men get reviews,” and “More men are bestsellers” and—

Even if those are true (some of them are for certain fields) what makes you think they’re fixable?  Or that they should be fixed?  Or that there is anything to fix?

Look up there to where, no, you can’t pop me out of this blog and pop someone else in its place and have it be the same.  So, let’s suppose – don’t I wish – my blog became one of the most popular on the internet.  Does this mean that Females of Portuguese Origin, married, with two children and a liberal arts ABTD are being discriminated FOR in blogging.  No?  Why not?

The second rat is “diverse thinking.”  First of all there is the un-examined, cute, fluffy rat that says “diversity is strength.”  This is a shibboleth that’s never been proven, anywhere at all.  In fact, I can give you plenty of examples where diversity was the downfall or at least a serious handicap to a society.  But it is an almost adorable rat compared to the true repulsive idea that you can get more diversity of ideas by getting more PHYSICAL diversity.  This idea is something Hitler would have loved.  No, I’m not breaking Godwin.  I’m simply being factual.  The whole idea behind the eugenics movement that was all the rage when Hitler came to power (and not just the rage in Germany, btw.  If you think that, you have more than rats in your head) was that culture was inherited and inhered to your racial ancestry.  The white race was this and this and this, and the Black race was this and this and this.  And the pink race with polka dots was this and this and this.

THAT was the brilliant idea that filled the ovens with human beings.  The Marxists were so scared people would be repulsed by the results that for a while, they hid their “scientific governance, by the numbers” under The Worker Class and the Capitalist Class and the Intellectual Class – instead of calling them by race names (Both are constructs, in case you wonder.  Particularly in a blended society like the US.)

But it is impossible to run a society by the numbers without always coming back to the same primal sin of treating people as things.  Because if Bob over there is an exemplary person and Joe is a terrible person, there’s no way the government can equalize that.  But if Bob is rich and Joe is poor, the government can take money from Bob to give to Joe.  And if Bob is white and Joe is black, you just won the support of all the black people who aren’t doing very well monetarily (most white people aren’t either.  It is a characteristic of doing exceptionally well that few people do that. By definition. That’s what “exceptionally” means.)  Not just because you might also give them money like you gave Joe, but because – by claiming that the reason Joe didn’t succeed was a social injustice and invisible racism – you gave them an excuse for failing (and most people, anywhere, under any regime, fail.)

It is perhaps no wonder, then, that this big stinky rat of an idea has got fixated on women, the minority that isn’t.  I mean, how much more virtuous can you get than by supporting the majority of people, while claiming you’re fighting discrimination?

So people take to the statistics and examine how many women are mega bestsellers, and how many women get reviews and how many women…

This shows that women are discriminated against and then the drumbeat starts for “how many female writers have you read today?”

Rats.  Or perhaps hamsters.  I think if you lean close to those brains, you can hear the hamster wheel squeaking.

First, where are those statistics coming from, and exactly what is taken in account? The last three major popular successes, pushed under everyone’s noses and talked about on every blog, magazine and show that cares about culture and books are…  Harry Potter, Twilight and Fifty Shades, all of them in fact written by women.

Almost every romance published is written by women.  So is most of the fantasy.  Quite a few of the historicals, unless they’re military history, are written by women.  A good number of the Christian books (a huge part of the market) are written by women.

Now, almost every thriller, almost every hard sf, almost every adventure story and police procedure seems to be written by men.

So – how come most bestsellers/most reviewed, etc. are men?  Isn’t that unfair?

Lies, damn lies and statistics.  Writing (except for Romance) used to be a mostly male profession.  You could tell there was actual prejudice against women writing, in say SF, because women wrote under male pen names.  (In romance there is prejudice against males and most people still write under a female pen name.) [Turns out I was wrong about SF. Most women wrote under male pen names because writing it wasn’t quite respectable. It was their acquaintances in real life they were hiding from, not the fans. SAH-2020]

Writing was a male profession when you could make a living from it and back when women were not expected to make a living. [Note this only applies to the US/other wealthy countries and mostly in the 20th century for the middle class. Before that everyone was expected to contribute to the household’s survival- SAH- 2020]  By the time I came into the field, unless you were willing to do what I did and engage in EXTREME writing, you made ON AVERAGE five thousand a year.  And the funny thing about social expectations is that they cut both ways.  Given that writing doesn’t make a living wage, most men could not engage in it.  They couldn’t engage in it long enough to even break in, let alone try to get big. A woman can stay home with the kids (or even just stay home) and though in our crazy society that incurs some societal censure it is nothing like the censure incurred by a man who stays home and is supported by his wife.  (Yes, I know some brave souls do it, but they’re rare.)

When I came into the field 90% of the new authors making it in fell in one of three categories: women, gay men, academics – i.e. people who could have other means of support while they pursued their art.  Of this, by and far the largest contingent was women.  (Who often overlapped with academics.)

This has been a fact of life for the last fifteen years.  However, there are still some remnants from the ancient regime back when it was mostly a male profession.  They’re old and having stayed in the field long, revered.  They’re mostly best sellers and widely reviewed.

There is another effect.  Think back on the first women that broke the gender barrier in science fiction.  They were almost instantly notable.  Why?  Because they had to make an extraordinary effort to break in.  This is going to select for driven individuals, who immediately will do better than the run of the mill “followed the usual path, had an easy time getting in.”

The males in my generation – particularly those supporting a family at the time, like Dave Freer – who broke in, were strong enough and driven enough to come home and work at their dream after pursuing a full time career elsewhere.  Do you wonder that they have more staying power than someone who was told “Just pursue your dream, dear, someone else will pay?”

Then add another layer.  New York Publishing by definition has got the rat of Marxism in their heads.  They always treated writers as widgets anyway.  Round the mid seventies, early eighties they realized that they had more widgets with outies than innies, and they decided to correct it the usual way.  “Buy more women” the cry went out.  And in came not only a barrage of women who had an easier time breaking in than men, but of women who were told what kept them out had been discrimination.  And who, therefore, hated the field they were getting into, because those meanies had kept them out.  Out came an outpouring of “poor me female” writing.  Which in the early nineties caused me to snarl at a Barnes & Noble, “I wish someone would pass a law forbidding women from writing.” After I’d walked up and down a fantasy shelf and found NOT ONE novel that wasn’t about some abused high-magic chick whose father was a monster.

Here we digress from writing in general to genre writing.  It will shock you to realize that different genres appeal to different people, right?  In general romance – by and far the blockbuster of genres – appeals to women.  I know this shocks you, since women are not at all by evolution designed for being fascinated with relationships.  This doesn’t mean men don’t read it.  I know several men who read Romance (and no, it has nothing to do with their orientation) but the proportions are so grossly skewed that if you see someone in public with a romance novel and can’t see what gender they are, you can take a safe bet it’s a woman.  At the other end of this, military fiction is read mostly by men.

I can tell you as a female reader and writer that from my teens I was upset by the assumption that whatever I was reading was OF COURSE a romance.  Ditto for what I was writing.  To this day total strangers assume I write romances or (I DO have an accent) children’s picture books.

The ridiculous equalizers of author genders ALWAYS concentrate on those that appeal least to women.  Say, thrillers, or science fiction.  (Why don’t they try to get more men in romance?  Why do they devalue a female way of seeing the world, which always centers on relationships?  Are they anti-woman?)

The problem with trying to equalize the innies and outies is that you get people who aren’t going to appeal to the genre’s majority readers.  For instance the attempt to bring in more “sf” writers of the right physical configuration gave us science fiction that rotates around someone’s belly button.  (There is a difference between novels about colonizing a world, even with strong character development, and novels about someone angsting over colonizing a world, so that the book could take place entirely in my laundry room and there would be no difference.)  This meant readers – male and female – who liked SF as it was left in droves.  The same for those who liked adventure fantasy but were tired of the female-revenge-fantasy woven in.

Of course these things shake out, they always do.  By the time I came in, NY publishing had got the idea that somehow their experiment had been less than successful.  Of course, since the rat was still spinning in their head, the only thing they could think – and which was told to me over and over – was “Women can’t write science fiction.”  Which is why Darkship Thieves was unpublished for thirteen years, while they pushed me to write fantasy.  Other gems I was told were that “you don’t write like a woman” – this was said derogatorily by the way – to which I probably shouldn’t have responded that no, that part of my anatomy was grossly unsuited for typing.  That my women were insufficiently “strong” (by which they meant that they fell in love with men.)  That I couldn’t write gay males because that was stealing victimhood and because gay men weren’t transparent to people who didn’t share the experience (to which one of my gay friends said he was glad he wasn’t transparent, he’d hate for me to be seeing what he ate for lunch.)

That is, the people who treat people like widgets, all in the name of equality, were telling me what I could or could not write, because my thought wasn’t conforming to their ideas.  I.e. it was too “diverse.”  That is, all of the above was “bad widget, bad.  Fall into your category.”

Again, the primary sin behind this entire meme is treating people as things.  The secondary sin is expecting physical characteristics to dictate the way I think.

Do my experiences have a lot to do with who I am as a writer (and a person)?  Sure they do.  How many of those are experiences only a woman can have?  I can think only of being pregnant and giving birth.  (And a man who is sufficiently connected to his wife, or who has asked a lot of friends could write those as convincingly as most women.  I mean a lot of them are physiological.)

But doesn’t my experience of going through life as a woman, of relating to men as a woman, etc. color how I write?  Sure they do.  But I have enough male friends and enough imagination to write men convincingly too.

So should you read my books because they give you an experience of what it’s like to be female?

Rat droppings!

I write science fiction, fantasy, mystery and historical.  You should read those for the joy of reading those.  And my books should be enough to hold you and get you to buy the next one whether the name on the cover is Sarah Hoyt or Joe Smith.  (How DO you know I don’t write as Joe Smith?  I could if I wanted to.)

If you’re picking my books because they have a female name on the cover, forcing yourself to read them to prove you’re not sexist, and hating every minute, that makes you LESS likely to pick up the next female author.

Writers are not their books.  There are men who write women better than women do.  And there are women who write men better than men do.

And the books should stand on their own.

Everything else is rat droppings.  Big stinky rats with blood on their teeth.

171 thoughts on “Rats in their Heads – a blast from the past from April 2013

  1. Glad to hear Greebo is regaining, and there are worse things than a clingy cat (unless you’re wearing knits …)

    1. And you mentioned Dave Freer. Better hope his characters don’t find out your opinion of Rats and pay you a visit.

  2. First tell me the last book you read where you gave a good goddamn about the author’s sex.

    I can only think of one, because the name could go either way and characterization for a female character who wasn’t supposed to be insane had me wondering if he was writing himself as a gal or she was writing to sell to guys like that.

    Can’t remember much more than that, though, except the author was a female.

    1. Book or just story? N.K. Jemisin had this short story that was her take on the Omelas tale, in which her smug feminazi tone made me want to burn the place down as a favor to all sophonts on that world. So there’s that.


  3. The last two “everyone’s talking about it!” book series that really caught public attention (as opposed to elitest chattering classes) that I can recall are Harry Potter and Twilight. Both were written by women.

    So… tell me again about how the industry discriminates against women?

  4. > Think back on the first women that broke the gender barrier in science fiction.

    People keep talking about this “gender barrier” thing in SF. I don’t see it. Possibly the hard white glare of my Privilege obstructs my view.

    I’ve been boring through the SF magazines at archive.org for a couple of years now, WWII to present. I don’t know about hardbacks, but in the pulps, the editors were so desperate to get anything remotely publishable they would have taken a story by a three-headed Venusian carved onto fnap stalks and been glad of it.

    There were maybe a dozen recognizeably-female names writing then, some of them Names in their own right later. That there weren’t more, I would attribute to the idea that maybe that maybe SF wasn’t as popular among women as men, back then. I also suspect you might find a similar gender disparity among homemaking, family-lifestyle, and romance magazines. (though several of the SF magazines promised ROMANCE! on their mastheads; either the meaning has shifted or it wasn’t primarily a female thing back then)

    But I guar-an-damn-tee no editor, not even Cele Goldsmith, would have turned down a publishable story just because the author had innie bits instead of an outies.

    BTW, “publishable” was a pretty low bar; at least a third of what’s in many of those issues would never have made it past the slushpile had there been *anything* better to pick from. I suspect some of those stories came in written on toilet paper with crayons.

    1. I don’t know when the shift was, but at some point ‘romance’ included high adventure type stuff– I vaguely remember that Sherlock was classified as romantic?

      1. I don’t know when the shift was
        Sometime between the two World Wars. For example, Tarzan of the Apes was billed as a romance; the later (post war) Burroughs novels were not.

        1. I think there was a language shift going on. Well, there’s always SOME, just as there’s always some climate change. But I really get the sense that as the Anglophone world moved from the Victorian age through the late 1920’s there was a fairly drastic language shift happening. In the Victorian era ‘Romance’ as applied to books did mean ‘adventure’. H. Rider Haggard’s adventure tales were ‘Romances’. By the 1950’s that construction was being used as a deliberate way to sound ‘old fashioned’.

          1. This is dusting off my high school German. (Half a century. Ahhh Choo!)

            The German for “Novel” comes out to: [drum roll]


            Novelette gets a diminutive: Romaenchen (a-umlaut. Not going down the unicode rabbit hole)

            OTOH, Novella –> Novelle

            So, pre-WWII stories known as Romances don’t seem that far out of line.

    2. Per something I read from maybe 1930ish, discussing this very topic (decades ago, no idea by now the source): a great deal of the male pen names thing is because writing was considered *disreputable* — writers were losers who lived in an unheated garret and still couldn’t pay the rent. Men were more willing to be seen as “disreputable” than women were (and I expect editors didn’t like making women look disreputable either, so preferred male pen names).

      Yeah, the angsty female lead got to be enough of a bore, and then an irritation, that discovering a female protagonist was instant-back-on-shelf, unless she instantly did or was something really unusual ….a middle-aged and reasonably competent caravan guide leaps to mind, tho I forget the book — series didn’t live up to the character, but she was SUCH a relief from juvenile omphaloskepsis.

    3. > Think back on the first women that broke the gender barrier in science fiction.

      By the 1940s women were getting the lead story and their name prominently displayed on the cover. And not just could-be-either names like “C. L.” or “Leigh” but obviously females one like “Katherine” and “Marguerite”.

    4. SF is NEVER as popular among women. I KNOW. I often found myself the only geek girl in a sea of geek guys.
      Contrary to moms ideas, this didn’t mean I had tons of romantic prospects. It meant I was everyone’s sister. (grumbles.)

      1. Sure, but that’s the audience. Didn’t women invent science fiction from the authors’ side, couple hundred years ago?

        I have to wonder how popular pulp sci-fi could be with women, if it hewed almost exclusively to planetary romance and other adventure, keeping the science (however hard or soft) strictly behind the scenes.

        Would tomboys be best, particularly if they know how to dress up when it’s time to show off? What about base upgrading and camp management? Are robot duennas a thing, alongside the urge to evade them for a few moments of stolen affection?

        What kind of sci-fi heroine will piss off the feminists and feed the soul of sane women?


    5. per <A HREF="https://www.merriam-noun
      1 a
      1): a medieval tale based on legend, chivalric love and adventure, or the supernatural

      (2): a prose narrative treating imaginary characters involved in events remote in time or place and usually heroic, adventurous, or mysterious

      (3): a love story especially in the form of a novel

      b: a class of such literature

      2: something (such as an extravagant story or account) that lacks basis in fact

      3: an emotional attraction or aura belonging to an especially heroic era, adventure, or activity

      4: LOVE AFFAIR

      5 capitalized : the Romance languages

      1. Well, that embedded URL didn’t quite work as intended. For those not quite sure, the definition is from Merriam~Webster.

  5. 🙄🙄🙄🙄🙄 For a very long time, I did not know that George Elliot was a woman. And it was irrelevant once I found out. Gender of author is almost always irrelevant to me because Hello! pen names! And there are the any-gender names like Lindsey and Morgan. Or nicknames, like Pat. One can dictate gender parity in fields where women were basically excluded, like upper management in some offfices/organizations, but that’s equity of opportunity, not equality of result. But that cannot be applied to fields such as writing. Otherwise, as you say, everyone is treated as though they were interchangeable widgets. If I only read women, or men, it would be a pretty boring bookshelf/Kindle.

    Teresa Williams 760-583-3163 Williamsshearer@gmail.com

    “Heaven is where the police are British, the lovers French, the mechanics German, the chefs Italian, and it is all organized by the Swiss. Hell is where the police are German, the lovers Swiss, the mechanics French, the chefs British, and it is all organized by the Italians.”


    1. I was hooked on a vampire detective series for years, written by P. N. Elrod. Turns out the author is female, didn’t really change anything for me, either.

    2. I so seldom have any mental picture of an author, that it really doesn’t matter WHAT their names are… there’s no gender attached in my head, and the name is just a marker for “Aha, I know this one’s work” and otherwise meaningless.

      I remember back in the 1980s-90s noticing that pretty much all the SF/F I was reading was by female authors, but regarded it as a curiosity generated by the intersection of changing styles and my then-tastes. IOW, I didn’t give two hoots so long as they kept me entertained in the manner to which I wished to remain accustomed.

      1. If a book has such a weak hold on my mind that I’m wondering about the author’s plumbing,it’s not doing it’s job in the first place.

  6. they will mention the sort of book people buy and leave sitting around on their coffee table to look smart or caring or whatever it is society values this week.

    I concede being an Odd, but my idea of a good coffee table book was The Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics

    or possibly one of the hardbound editions of Eisner’s The Spirit.

    I’d mostly little interest in discussing my reading with acquaintances, much less strangers. They typically ask, “What’s that book about?” … and by the time you’ve explained the Lensmen series, or one of Phillip Jose Farmer’s series or even something from the Discworld their eyes have glazed over so solidly you could rest tea cups on them.

    1. When I get “What’s that book about” (usually because I’m laughing While I read it) I do my best to set the hook. Don’t know how often I succeed with strangers, but I seem to do OK with people I especially often because they tell me when they like something. I tend to quote the passage that made me laugh, such as one of my favorite passages from Kipling;

      “ The letter which we received from him on Monday proved him to be a kinless loon of upright life, for no woman, however remotely interested in a man would have let it pass the home wastepaper-basket.”

      Pratchett is eminently quotable. So is Mencken. Or Bujold.

        1. Romeo & Juliet — a couple of spoiled kids
          Something Wicked This Way Comes — a carnival
          2001: A Space Odyssey — a big black block and a talking computer
          Moby Dick — a whale

  7. I just don’t enjoy being either grossed out or scared.

    I find that “Horror” — as opposed to stories with elements of horror, such as Heinlein’s Puppet Masters — caters to too simple a palate for my tastes. I prefer a more complex reading (viewing, in the instance of films) experience. I can admire technique and invention but a little bit goes a long way. Ultimately I just don’t care, and have far more interesting things to read.

    1. Then there’s the problem with many of the horror books that I read in the 70’s before giving up on them was a version one of the reasons Larry Correia started writing MHI: If any of the characters had any common sense, this would be a much shorter book after proper application of firepower (or just fire, I know there’s a flamethrower around here somewhere).

      Part of that probably comes from the fact that during that time I was still discovering RAH books I hand’t read, and I can’t think of any Heinlein character that would not make short work of the threat in the majority of horror books available then, let alone the slasher genre that became popular a few year later.

      1. Many Horror Novels would be much shorter if the characters showed common sense. 😈

          1. Monster Hunter International developed out of a discussion of how short most monster stories would be if the protagonists had guns. Turns out that if you make the monsters big enough and scary enough that guns are only partially effective, you can make the monsters more interesting than most other standard issue fictional monsters.

        1. Many Horror Novels would be much shorter if the characters showed common sense.
          Note that “Who Goes There?”, often sited as the premier stf horror story, is a
          Novelette and even the longer first draft was a novella.

          I suspect the JWC thought of it as a problem-solving story.

      2. I find I have a weird love of historically set/ cross genre horror novels, like one my zombie-book-loving boss brought in about a troupe of vampires stalking the citizens of Moscow during Napoleon’s assault, or “Dodger” by Peter David? where Dodger from Oliver Twist teams up with a young Van Helsing to protect the future Queen Victoria from the clutches of the evil vampire Judge Fang. (As noted in the introduction, of course he’s a vampire with that name!)

        1. You might like Tim Powers’ “The Anubis Gates.”

          It’s not precisely horror, or science fiction, or steampunk, or magical Victorian, or anything else. But it’s one of the single-digit number of books I finished, flipped back to the beginning, and started over again… and the only one where I did that at 3AM when I had to get up to go to work at 7.

          Fair warning: most of the people I’ve persuaded to read it weren’t nearly as impressed as I was.

        1. Always wanted a set of Starship Troopers Marauder armor. Mostly for the attached hand flamer. Although a rocket launcher that could fire mini nukes seemed tempting too (although that was NOT standard equipment it was an add on). What can I say I was a destructive little cuss as a teen :-).

          1. I’m waiting for the first set of true powered armor to show up at a con. I suspect that it will only be able to run for 10 minutes before needing recharging, will only be able to stop small caliber rounds, and of course would never be allowed in the convention with operational weapons. (Well, maybe LibertyCon would allow them in a separate venue for that.)

              1. Yeah, I see a lot of prototype exos with ceiling mounted power. Imagine a world where all the exos require overhead power like the electric trains and buses.

    2. As best as I can recall, Stephen King’s Pet Semetary was the last book of his that I’ve read. It triggered something close to a psychic gag reflex. Should have walled the book.

      I seem to have given away all but four of King’s books over the years, and I see 4 on hand. I’d keep Night Shift (short story collection) and Salem’s Lot when I next do a dead-tree pruning of the library.

      $SPOUSE showed me that the regional used-book store didn’t close, but moved into a former Blockbuster location. I think I might make them a hell of a deal some day…

      1. I remember delving into Lovecraft and, after a few stories, going, “Yeah, eldritch horrors, madness, loathsome elder gods … what else you got?”

        1. I rather liked them when I was in college, but haven’t read one in decades. Not sure why, but the pure horror genre (that excludes MHI and the like) used to be interesting, but now it’s meh.

          1. The recent ones that I’ve nibbled lost the strong moral sense of the older ones. Too much “even the good guys are horrible scum.” I could just have had a bad sample.

        2. Lovecraft also has that one novel The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath. Very good, very Dunsany, but satisfying in a way that Dunsany really didn’t usually manage.

  8. This is because female writers are supposed to be discriminated against.

    The HELL with that! I won’t grant popular opinion (nor it’s semi-woke consuls, dictate my reading preferences or tell me who to discriminate for or against.

    I discriminate against bad writers, writers who can’t create a character I can care* about, writers who cannot plot their way out of a paper bag, and writers who insert gratuitous virtue signals in lieu of reasons to give a damn. I don’t care if the sit, stand, or raise one leg to pee.

    *I am an equal opportunity carer: I care about Harry, Ron & Hermione, I care about Kip and Peewee, about Kimball and Clarissa and about Adam Link, Susan Calvin, Rhincewind, Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Inspector Vimes. They interest me and I want to see what happens. I do NOT care about Whassname, the useless git narrating Catcher in the Rye, Hold’em Callow or whatever ‘is name be.

    1. I do NOT care about Whassname, the useless git narrating Catcher in the Rye, Hold’em Callow or whatever ‘is name be.

      Preach it, Wallaby! I’m a card-carrying member of the Society of Those that Loath Catcher in the Rye and Want to Slap that Useless Whiner Into Next Week.

      1. It was required reading in high school, either Freshman year (a mishmash of periods) or Junior–American Literature. Never had the urge to keep it.

      2. Only thing worse than Catcher in the Rye is the modern crap they’ve used to replace it. The junk my daughters had to read in high school. All because they got the newly minted english teachers who didn’t want to read classic white guys.

      3. Every once in a very great while I get this stupid idea I should consider reading Catcher in the Rye and then go read a synopsis or such and realize just how stupid that idea is. I’ve never read it, never been been forced to read it (thank goodness), and have yet to encounter anyone who said they liked/enjoyed it. I might have encountered someone who claimed it would be “good for” someone to read… but that there is its very own flashing red warning indicator.

        And when it hits pop culture to point it gets the line in the literal video of Total Eclipse of the Heart, well…Wait. No, that was Lord of the Flies but the same thing applies. It seems anything I recall on a Recommended Reading List from the 1970’s or 1980’s falls into this obnoxious category.

        1. The only reading list that I could be tempted into slogging through would be my son’s – the one compiled by the Marine Commandant.

          Although I must admit that it wouldn’t be all that hard – last time I looked, there was maybe 10% that I didn’t already buy and read years ago.

        2. For the Love of all that is Holy Orvan DON’T DO IT. Friends don’t let friends read Catcher in the Rye. You might as well look Medusa in the eye, it’ll be over quicker and far less painful.

          1. Fortunately I go and read ABOUT it and that cures the condition without direct exposure, (very much) time or money wasted, or walls possibly marred.

          2. …and besides, once when astonishingly and stubborn beyond all reason (yes, even for ox) I ploughed through the bletcherous atrocity of despair that is Ethan Frome. I think I’ve suffered enough. Yeah, the idea of Medusa-gazing pales in comparison.

    2. So far as I am concerned the only good to come out of the wide ‘popularity’ of CATCHER IN THE RYE was the Laughing Man arc of GHOST IN THE SHELL STAND ALONE COMPLEX.

      Gods preserve me from novels about the inner life of neurotics.

      I think my reaction to most Intellectual Lit-ra-cha is summed up by a quote from BEYOND THE FRINGE:

      “When I go to the theatre, I want to be taken out of myself. I don’t want to see lust and rape and incest and sodomy. I can get all that at home!”

      (It helps if you imagine it in a plummy Upper Class British accent).

      When I read a novel, or any book, I want to be taken out of my day to day life. I live with depression, neurosis, etc. Why would I read about more?

      1. Why I avoid Donaldson & Feintuch like the plague, I don’t like feeling as if I have to take a shower after finishing a book,

        1. I actually ground through two and a half volumes of Donaldson’s first fantasy series before bailing out. I was rooting for the “bad guy” instead of the whiny protagonist.

          Decades later he wrote a mainstream martial-arts novel called “The Man Who Fought Alone” that is actually quite good. Hard to believe the same guy wrote both.

          1. The first one went out the window of a train somewhere between France and Germany, leaving me with nothing to read for the remainder day and a half.
            If the farmer who owned those fields reads this, I’m sorry. It was a gesture of utter revulsion.

            1. Shh. They probably still think it’s a dud gas shell from WW1 that finally fell apart.

              Unfortunately, I bought the only one I ever had in an airport. The flight attendants would probably have been rather wroth with me for trying to break the window at 30,000 feet.

          2. I read the Covenant books, recalled liking them at the time (I was in a weird state of mind those years), but notice I have none still around. I have far less tolerance for characters like him nowadays.

            Curiously, I have Book II of a later series on the shelf. Don’t recall reading beyond the first chapter. I really need to sort through my bookshelves.

            1. The first Thomas Covenant series somehow resonated with me (no I am NOT a leper with tendencies to behave extremely badly, nor was I then). Something about being a sulky teenage boy I guess. Second series was a slog in college did it more out of completeness sake than out of interest. Tried to go back and read them in my thirties, my lord they are execrable. They’re still on my shelf low nearly 30 years later, not sure why. I probably ought to just dump them somewhere. Wouldn’t want to put them at the swap shed at our dump or in a second hand book store. Don’t want to inflict them on some unsuspecting desperate book hound.

          3. The Thomas Covenant books were selections from the Science Fiction Book Club during my teen years. As I lived out in the country, mail order was how I got new stuff to read and I read them all the way through. Only because there was nothing else new to read, and we weren’t going in to town for another few days so I could visit the library.

            1. I belonged to the SF book club off and on in the ’70s and ’80s, quitting for good when the unread pile was getting too large. Getting an MSEE sucked up my reading time, and the summers I had off from that had other portions of life.

              I think I got the first few from SFBC, while the later books helped keep Printers Inc (big independent store in Palo Alto–RIP) alive for a while.

    3. Love reading about Miles Vorkosigan By Lois Bujold, & Honor Harrington by David Weber. And all the various folk in the Liaden ‘verse by Lee & Miller (who does which?). If a character is well done, I don’t *care* about the writer’s plumbing.

      1. One of the most obvious examples of sexism I’ve ever heard of is the number of people who assumed “David Weber” had to be a pseudonym because obviously no man could ever write such well-developed and sympathetic female characters.

        Projection. Not just for movie theaters.

        1. Then there are the idiots who think “Honor Harrington” isn’t a Real Woman, just a “Man With Breasts”. 😆

          1. I wouldn’t recommend describing Honor that way to her face. I’m pretty certain you’d get a dueling challenge and all in all that hasn’t gone well for her opponents…

        2. I was getting ready to note that Andre Norton had no problem writing male characters before realizing that almost any of her characters could just as well be either sex; her characters were usually Odds first, anything else being minor attributes.

  9. First tell me the last book you read where you gave a good goddamn about the author’s sex.

    Growing up I read books by Clair Bee, Lin Carter, Andre Norton and many others without having any idea about their plumbing. I frankly detest the kids of people that think an author’s sex or biography matters. Jack London isn’t interesting because he experienced the Klondike, he’s interesting because he’s freaking interesting, just as Heinlein’s MiaHM is interesting in spite of his never having visited Luna.

  10. I have never been able to grok having books to virtue signal rather than to read. I know it’s a thing, but I can’t wrap my heart or my head around it. Why can’t these people realize that books are for reading, not showing off?

    1. I will admit to buying a set of the Great Books just for the bookcase – and the price was _really_ good. The printing is horrid. The font is too small, the vertical spacing too thin, and the double-columned pages are annoying. I’d be willing to bet that none of the 100s of people who have been in my house since have ever noticed them. (hmm. Why is “none” plural?)

      If I ever want to read anything in them (John Locke, recently), I buy a copy from another publisher.

      1. But you got a bookcase out of it, which could then hold books you’d actually read, right? (I think the ‘people’ is the plural, but my grasp of grammar came through osmosis from reading rather than from study in school, so grain of salt etc.)


        1. Normally a prepositional object does not affect the verbal number, e.g. “one of the birds is” not “one of the birds are.” (The SAT and ACT love this rule.) A quick Google search however notes that while strictly speaking, “none” should take the singular, the plural is a widespread and accepted usage with examples going back to the KJV.

  11. diversity is strength.

    Were that true, a chain made up from links of Gold, Iron, Lead, Mercury, Platinum and Tin would be stronger than one made solely of iron.

    1. As with most things the Left takes to extremes, diversity is good in moderation. A society that is a monoculture (so to say) is as likely to shatter as one with too MUCH diversity.

    2. Pretty sure it’s just that neither stone age nor 3rd world cultures do all that well at maintaining 1st world standards of infrastructure or production. Plus the dole does a great job of turning people on it into the worst kind of petty aristocrats.


      1. Perhaps, but there’s a particular reason* I chose these particular elements and steel isn’t among the options. For an alloy to work it has to be fully-integrated into a common structure.

        *I suspect some other among the Huns have recognized the team of metals chosen and refrained from commenting.

      2. But, but, Kipling said that “Iron cold iron shall be master of them all.” (OK, so he was in one of his Odd mystical moods.)

        1. Yes and IIRC some early iron workers may have used “natural” steel without knowing it.

          Note, I’ve heard that “magic” swords may have been “natural” steel not true iron.

          1. Shad, of Shadiversity, did a thing on how mild steel artifacts have been found dating back to 1100 B.C., made using the same kind of techniques that the Japanese started making swords with a couple thousand years later.

            My guess is that iron and bronze were side-by-side for a long time, it’s just that bronze was easier to work if you could get it and often the superior metal, since primitive steel techniques are hit-and-miss due to poor carbon control.

  12. So people take to the statistics and examine how many women are mega bestsellers, and how many women get reviews …

    Pardon me if I am missing something here, but are not the people complaining about this lack of representation pretty much the same people who determine the representation? The publishing world has pretty much fessed up that the control what books will be bestsellers by promotion, push and controlling the sources of the numbers (you think they pay as much attention to what books sell in Nashville as which move in Manhattan? Neither do I.)

    Good grief — that’s as nutty as trusting government to protect your liberty.

    1. Nothing wrong with using statistics, as long as you do it correctly and honestly; which seems to be a major problem with most people who want you to use statistics.

      According to https://wealthygorilla.com/richest-authors-world/

      Top 20 richest authors in the world in 2019 (That’s net worth, not how much they made from being authors; some apparently had money from sources other than their own writing.)

      20. Suzanne Collins (F): Net Worth: $80 Million
      19. Janet Evanovich (F): Net Worth: $80 Million
      18. Deepak Chopra (M): Net Worth: $80 Million
      17. Jack Higgins (M): Net Worth: $86 Million
      16. Christopher Little (M): Net Worth: $86 Million (Apparently rode J.K. Rowlings skirt-tails.)
      15. Paul McKenna (M): Net Worth: $100 Million
      14. Stephenie Meyer (F): Net Worth: $125 Million
      13. Dean Koontz (M): Net Worth: $145 Million
      12. David Oyedepo (M): Net Worth: $150 Million
      11. Dan Brown (M): Net Worth: $178 Million
      10. Jeffrey Archer (M): Net Worth: $195 Million
      9. John Grisham (M): Net Worth: $220 Million
      8. Nigel Blackwell (M): Net Worth: $292.5 Million
      7. Barbara Taylor Bradford (F): Net Worth: $300 Million
      6. Danielle Steel (F): Net Worth: $310 Million
      5. Nora Roberts (F): Net Worth: $390 Million
      4. Stephen King (M): Net Worth: $400 Million
      3. James Patterson (M): Net Worth: $560 Million
      2. J.K. Rowling (F): Net Worth: $1 Billion
      1. Elisabeth Badinter (F): Net Worth: $1.3 Billion

      40% of the top 20 are women. And the number 1 and number 2 spots go to women worth more than a billion dollars. For what it’s worth, I’ve read stories by half the people on this list. And I’d never even heard of Elisabeth Badinter until today.

      – – –

      ” … that part of my anatomy was grossly unsuited for typing. ”

      That’s okay, the corresponding part of men’s anatomy is also grossly unsuited for typing, unless you want to push the same key over and over again; in which case, you can train a monkey (or a rat) to do that. 😉

      1. Well, Elisabeth is apparently mostly a social issues writer, not all that much fiction. Not all of her books have been translated from French, either. But – and this is probably the reason you aren’t going to see her books pushed by the glitterati: (from Goodreads – “Preoccupied by putting men on trial, the feminism of the last few years has reactivated old stereotypes and left behind the very battles that have long been its raison d’etre – this, argues Badinter, is a dead end.”)

        Heretics don’t get much push.

  13. Uh really don’t care about who the Author is. I fall in love / like (whatever) with the characters. I think Sarah, our hostess, is the only person I’ve actively sought books out without having read something or hers prior. Otherwise, I find a book I really like, then go find other books by that author. Sometimes I’ll start reading anything by that author, sometimes not. It depends. Has nothing to do about the author’s gender. Has everything to do with how the book reads, nothing more, nothing less.

    Regarding author pseudonyms. It was in the third Lethal Weapons (I think) where Murtaugh is under investigation by internal affairs because he is spending more money than his detective salary can support & his spouse is not visibly employed outside the home. Turns out his wife is the writer of a popular series of historical setting romance books & it is her royalties that allows paying for the new pool & extras, but she is not publishing under her name. Not type of book that does book tours so who’d know?

    1. I care about an author’s ‘voice’. And a distinctive voice often gives rise to hordes or really bad imitations. Hammett and Chandler had fantastic voices, and are imitated by one hell of a lot of idiots. Laurel K. Hamilton has a great voice, which is why I still read her books, even after they descended into rafts of fairly boring porn, interspersed with some story.

      1. A random thought I had while reading through all this was that regarding an author’s sex I really wished that LKH would get laid in hopes that she would slow down with padding her urban fantasy short stories with gratuitous smut to pad them into full books.
        Sorry, but my resolution this year is to say what I’m really thinking no matter what.

        1. LKH is notorious for talking about her love life. The jury is out on whether the love life is actually *happening*.

      2. Along with Hammett and Chandler, Mickey Spillane is a distinctive and usually poorly imitated voice — in part because he seems remarkably crude.

        But crude don’t cut it. Mark Steyn wrote an appreciation of Spillane a while back, acknowledging the difficulty of carrying off such imitation:

        Hammer and Tongues
        by Mark Steyn
        Mark at the Movies
        March 10, 2018

        Her eyes were a symphony of incredulity, an unbelieving witness to truth. Slowly, she looked down at the ugly swelling in her naked belly where the bullet went in.

        ‘How c-could you?’ she gasped.

        I only had a moment before talking to a corpse, but I got it in.

        ‘It was easy,’ I said.

        That’s how Mickey Spillane ended his first Mike Hammer novel. The story of Hammer and his creator begins in Brooklyn exactly one hundred years ago – March 9th 1918 – with the birth of “Frank Morrison Spillane”, as his Scots Protestant mother put on the birth certificate. For the baptism, his dad, an Irish Catholic bartender, amended “Morrison” to “Michael”. As a kid, he was called “Frank”. But Frank Morrison/Michael eventually decided to go for Mickey, and so did the dames. “Women,” he claimed, with considerable supporting evidence, “like the name Mickey.”

        He’d got to test the proposition as a lifeguard at Breezy Point in Queens, as a trampolinist with Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey, and as a World War Two fighter pilot. But he wanted to write, and so he submitted his stories to comic books, and wound up writing for all the big guys – Superman, Batman, the Human Torch, the Sub-Mariner, Captain America, Captain Marvel. In 1946, he came up with a comic-book detective called “Mike Danger” and a Gal Friday called Holly who was easy on the eyes and fierce in her devotion. Nobody was interested, so the following year he changed Mike Danger to “Mike Hammer” and Holly to “Velda” and put them in a story with no pictures or speech balloons. Mike Hammer talked tough, drank hard, strong-armed dames, and left rats and punks bleeding on sidewalks and barroom floors. The first novel flaunted the private eye’s approach to justice in its very title: I, The Jury. His wartime buddy, who lost an arm saving Hammer’s life in the Pacific, has been offed by some scum, and the gumshoe makes a solemn vow to the corpse strewn across the bed:

        I’m going to get the louse that killed you. He won’t sit in the chair. He won’t hang. He will die exactly as you died, with a .45 slug in the gut, just a little below the belly button.

        He keeps his promise.

        Spillane wrote the book in nine days. Raymond Chandler, creator of Philip Marlowe and an alumnus (along with P G Wodehouse) of Dulwich College in south London, disliked the way literary critics put all the hardboiled shamuses into one basket. “Pulp writing at its worst was never as bad as this stuff,” he sneered of Spillane. The new kid on the block was happy to play along: He never put men with moustaches who drank cognac into his books, he said, because he didn’t know how to spell those words. In 1966 his automobile was stolen along with the only manuscript of his next Hammer yarn sitting on the passenger seat. Spillane mourned the loss of the car, but shrugged off the book: That was merely “another three days’ work” of re-dictating off the top of his head.

        As they say on Broadway, nobody likes it but the public: In 1956 a ranking of the all-time bestselling American fiction found that six of the top ten books were by Spillane; a quarter-century later the all-time top fifteen boasted seven of his titles. Sales aside, I disagree with Chandler: I don’t think you can love the English language and not love what Mickey Spillane does with it. Once, for a satirical column about the monumental uselessness of the British police, I attempted a Spillane parody based on the whimsical notion of Mike Hammer taking a job with some slothful pen-pushing paperwork-shuffling English constabulary. I discovered, like many would-be parodists (Mordecai Richler, for example, who attempted something similar for a chapter in Solomon Gursky Was Here) that writing Spillane is a lot harder than reading it. He’s got so much precision in even the most unimportant sentences. This is what I wound up with: …

        1. > In 1966 his automobile was stolen along with the only manuscript of his next Hammer yarn sitting on the passenger seat.

          Let’s see, Spillane’s car, TE Lawrence’s luggage, Hemingway’s luggage, Sarah’s thumbdrive… what is it with authors losing so much work, anyway?

  14. In romance there is prejudice against males and most people still write under a female pen name.

    I am reliably advised that Jane Austen was a Burly Yorkshire man, with beard like a rhododendron bush.

  15. Why do they devalue a female way of seeing the world, which always centers on relationships? Are they anti-woman?

    Well, actually …

    Why else would they make such effort to hide it? Keep in mind this was written before the facts about Harvey Weinstein, Jeffery Epstein and their associates were publicly acknowledged. (Hmmmm …. looking at those two names I am surprised there hasn’t been a greater anti-Semitic component to their censure.)

  16. Think back on the first women that broke the gender barrier in science fiction. They were almost instantly notable.

    Yes, Mary Shelley was indeed notable, but she broke in over 200 years ago!

    1. meh. She wasn’t. Her novel is meh.
      I’m talking about the women with significant name recognition. There were few of them (yes, I’m not saying that was discrimination, geesh) but that there were few of them, most editors were male. They were given no points for being female. They just HAD to be good. Period.

  17. Regarding female authors and pen names, you might also be interested to know that many MALE SF authors wrote under pen names…because it was considered disreputable, especially if you worked in the sciences.

    I can’t remember all the instances, but Asimov–a biochemist by profession–wrote the entire Lucky Starr series under the pen name Paul French, and William Tenn was the lifelong pen name of the physicist Philip Klass.

    1. wrote under pen names…because it was considered disreputable
      This is more or less the reason that Moore gave for by-lining as “C.L.” rather than as “Catherine. She had to keeping the boss of her day job from finding out that she wrote for the pulps.
      It was not Asimov’s reason as he already had a dozen stf books out under his own name when he wrote the first “French” book.

      1. Asimov, it was that he didn’t want his own name on “juveniles.” Which was probably a good idea – the juveniles were definitely not his better work. (I transitioned from Heinlein “juvenile” to Heinlein “adult” with no real problems. If I had read the Lucky Starr books first, I might never have realized that Asimov wrote adult stuff.)

  18. Ellis Peters, The Leper of St. Giles. 🙂

    I think about the only time I’ve actually *cared* about the author’s sex was in The Red Tent, and that was because the author’s portrayal of the female reproductive cycle was so laughable I hoped it was written by a man. (There were other reasons I hated the book, but that was what made me want to wall it.)

    Recently we watched a documentary about Alice Guy-Blaché, one of the pioneer film director’s. One of the people commenting on that, mentioned that they didn’t particularly take notice of the female directors at that time, because there were so many of them.

    1. The author is, according to Wikipedia, both female and a mother. Weird personal biology, maybe?

      I didn’t finish it because she clearly had contempt for the source material. What were the bio-gaffes? (Again according to wikipedia, there’s no evidence of menstrual retreat tents for women among pre-Moses Hebrews. This the gaffe, or something else?)


      1. A surprising number of Darkover writers wrote weird stuff about menstruation because they suffered from various medical conditions that made menstruation Not Fun, or because they were victims of sexual abuse and rape that caused serious damage to lady parts.

        But I didn’t read The Red Tent, as far as I can recall. I think I read some books that got pubbed because they were allegedly like that book.

      2. Every woman has their period at the same time (no more than a day apart) at the full moon (or perhaps the new moon, it’s been years since I read it).

        I know that women tend to sync up (despite never experiencing that phenomenon myself with either my mother or my daughter), but that much syncing is ridiculous.

        Wherever they traveled, it was the same.

        She *had* to have known that it doesn’t work that way.

        1. I’ve heard theories that the studies that found high-level syncronizing may have forgotten a very important thing….

          The women involved were all on the Pill. And they started it the same day.



          Now, folks who are traveling, might have stress-related stoppage of cycling, which might sorta-sync?

          1. That… is almost too stupid to be believed, but now “look up the studies on menstrual syncing” is going to be floating around in my head.

              1. I think I remember you mentioning that but can’t remember what dumb thing they did.

                I get glum sometimes about the reported correlation between morning sickness and successful pregnancy, but 1. I don’t think my problem was low hCG levels, which is apparently the proposed mechanism, and 2. Mom didn’t have much more than lack of appetite for breakfast with me or my brother.

                1. During one of those “caffeine is horrible and should be treated like alcohol for pregnant women” pushes (since they’d already removed 90% of anything else that is pleasurable or reduces issues for women who are or may become pregnant) someone did a big study on drinking coffee vs successful outcomes.
                  Found a significant correlation between not drinking coffee, and a successful outcome.
                  I suffered through my first pregnancy on one or two cups of decaf a day, and no soda, because of it.
                  Then someone did actual science, and recorded all variables they could think of– caff vs half-caf vs decaf, did they drink it before, did they cut down at all, etc.
                  And the difference effectively vanished into “I stopped drinking coffee because it came straight back up.” Nothing else was associated with the outcome at all.


                  I never had morning sickness, either; my sister did, my aunt did, and both of them had a lot of losses.

                  But the average is that morning sickness is associated with successful pregnancies.

                  1. Seriously. Wow. That is… something to miss.

                    I keep reminding myself the correlation is just that, and not universal, and… well. I didn’t have morning sickness with the one currently snuggled beside me any more than with the lost ones. Too, climbing trees full of poison ivy is widely associated with a miserable rash, and drinking diet sodas with aspartame is presumably not associated with pain for the majority of people who do so. I know I’ve got some genetic quirks in here.

                    1. climbing trees full of poison ivy is widely associated with a miserable rash

                      Don’t know about poison ivy … but Poison Oak? Oh bother. Miserable doesn’t even come close. Used to get it really bad every 3 or 4 years when we hunted & I worked in the woods where it thrived; no choice but to wade through it occasionally; even then took precautions. Haven’t been in it now in over 40 years. Have seen it, but so far haven’t had to wade through brush & know it is poison oak. Nor does our, or neighbors, yards have it, for cats/dogs to roam through it & bring it home. Do not want that “rash” again. When I say really bad, I mean just short of hospitalization. Everyone else around me “whats the big deal, just get an ichy patch.” Yes, have had that too. Won’t risk the worse reaction. FWIW, neither of my siblings, nor my parents, are so challenged. I’d be covered & they might have a tiny spot, maybe.

      1. It seems more a matter of writing about it. I guess the purpose, prompted by male privilege, is to rub guys’ noses in it.

        1. There was a point when feminism was actually interested in female experiences. Describing health and things not to be worried about, vs medical conditions, would make sense.

          But yeah, it seems to be about grossing out men now, or being the only passive-aggressive way to fight trans stuff.

  19. “What was the last female writer you read, and the book?”

    Um, half the writers under a male pseudonym? With KULL, you run into the same problem as any web poster: on the internet, you can be anyone.

    1. on the internet, you can be anyone.

      I’ve even caught men pretending to be sissies and other cross-dressers which just makes no sense.

  20. I read that as “A Blast from the Past April 2023” and was going to yell at you for having a time machine and not sharing.

    1. She borrowed it from Ace, and isn’t allowed to tell anyone about it.

      (old joke from Ace of Spades HQ blog)

  21. Gee – I wondered how that could have happened.

    Iran’s infamous ‘shadow commander’ Qassem Soleimani killed in air strike
    A top Iranian general widely considered responsible for spreading the country’s influence across the Middle East was killed in an air strike outside of the Baghdad airport in Iraq on Thursday night.

    Qassem Soleimani was killed in an air strike outside Baghdad International Airport along with Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, head of the Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization Forces, outside Baghdad International Airport. The elusive 62-year-old Iranian was referred to as Tehran’s “shadow commander” during his time as the head of the Qods Force, a branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps responsible for conducting special operations outside Iranian territory.

    It is unclear who was responsible for the strike. Department of Defense officials did not respond to the <IWashington Examiner’s requests for comment. …

    1. Apparently one of the Iranian missiles had a GOTO loop in its programming. As in GOTO last person who touched the targeting computer. (Or so I read in the media, so it must be true.) *innocent kitty look*

      1. Iranian missiles had a GOTO loop in its programming

        This I can believe. Return to point of origin process.

    2. PJ Media is reporting that the Washington Post termed Soleimani “Iran’s most revered military leader” —

      — which is probably as accurate as declaring Adolph Hitler Germany’s most revered military and political leader.

      But it does sort of leave one wondering for which side the Post is rooting.

    3. Apparently in response to this, someone sent Ben Rhodes a condolences notice on Twitter.


    4. Too Bad. So Sad.

      Any bets that his 2nd in Command isn’t making any trips to Iraq in the near future?

    5. Apparently there is partying in the streets in Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. And some Marines are hoisting cold ones, or other adult beverages, and murmuring things like, “been a long time coming.”

  22. I read Andre Norton stories for two decades before I found out Andre was a she. Sure, there were oddities in her stories that might lead one to suspect the author wasn’t male, but nothing positive. And in any case, irrelevant to the story itself.

  23. And yet …

    Nancy Pelosi: Killing Soleimani Was ‘Provocative and Disproportionate’
    Biden Scolds Trump for ‘Escalating’ Tensions with Iran by Killing Soleimani
    Killing of Iran’s Qassem Soleimani will bring violent chaos to the Middle East
    ‘Feckless’: Rand Paul sounds alarm over Trump going to war without backing of Congress
    Former acting CIA director says there will be ‘dead civilian Americans’ as a result of strike
    Trump has raised strategic incoherence to new levels*
    Three of the silliest tweets opposing the killing of Qassem Soleimani:
    1. How the fuck do you even begin to sell the idea of assassinating the front line leaders against ISIS to the American public?
    2. Trump is surrounded by sycophants (having fired those who’ve dissented). He has purged Iran specialists. He has abolished NSC processes to review contingencies. He is seen as a liar around the world.**
    3. The notion that Suleimani was “actively developing plans” is curious both from a semantic and military standpoint. Is it sufficient to meet the test of mecessity and proportionality? The statement fails to mention the other individuals killed alongside Suleimani. Collateral? Probably. Unlawful. Absolutely.

    ‘Overthrow is within reach’: Leader of Iranian resistance group hails death of Qassem Soleimani
    Iranian Revolutionary Guard spokesman weeps on live TV over Soleimani death

    And, finally, from the Washington Post, this critical and unexpected insight:
    Airstrike sharply divides Congress
    Republicans praised President Trump for a decisive blow against a war criminal, while Democrats expressed concern that the escalation of tensions with Iran is a dangerous step toward war.

    *Washington Post house “conservative” Jen Rubin
    **Samantha Power. Are you not surprised?

    1. Begging your pardon, guv’nor — this assortment of headlines was supposed to appear in reply to TXRed | January 3, 2020 at 9:41 am:
      “Apparently there is partying in the streets in Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. And some Marines are hoisting cold ones, or other adult beverages, and murmuring things like, ‘been a long time coming.’ ”

      As for “been a long time coming” — yes, at least two presidencies. Should have been seen to by George W Bush.

    2. Have you noticed that most of the news photos of General Soleimani make him look exactly like pictures of George Clooney? And we’re supposed to buy that as mere coincidence?

      1. BlazingCatFur put photos of the remains above the fold. Ah, if it weren’t for the ring . . . I can see why the media wouldn’t want to use his most recent photos. (I’m sort of surprised they could tell what was him and what was car seat, personally.)

    3. ‘Feckless’: Rand Paul sounds alarm over Trump going to war without backing of Congress

      “Feckless” is a good description of accusing the guy who hits back when attacked as “going to war.”

      1. Maybe I’ve had too much for lunch and need to take a nap; but can anyone remember when Trump initiated a round of attacks other than on the campaign trail?

        1. I’m not sure. What with Democrat, CIA and FBI efforts to deny Trump legitimacy, when has he not been on the campaign trail?

          Of course, masterminding an invasion of American soil (in the form of an embassy) sort of requires a response.

          And then there’s the theory that requiring politicians to campaign for re-election is one way of encouraging them to do what they ought.

    4. Nancy Pelosi: Killing Soleimani Was ‘Provocative and Disproportionate’
      Biden Scolds Trump for ‘Escalating’ Tensions with Iran by Killing Soleimani

      Iran has been our enemy for 40 years. They’re going to not like us now?

      Killing of Iran’s Qassem Soleimani will bring violent chaos to the Middle East


      OK, I’m back from laughing hysterically. Killing off that dirtbag will have all the effect of throwing a lit match into a forest fire.
      Wing: ”Have you ever heard the phrase, Living well is the best revenge?”
      Miles: “Where I come from, someone’s head in a bag is generally considered the best revenge.”

  24. I know several men who read Romance (and no, it has nothing to do with their orientation)

    Of course it isn’t about their orientation, but about their gender. Cleary they are transwomen, probably shamed into hiding it.

    1. When I hear ‘trans’ I can only think of Frank N. Furter:

      I’m just a sweet transvestite
      From trans-sexual Transylvan-yaaa.

        1. he’s one of the ones I recognize most of the time. If you haven’t seen his Life of Shakespeare (the historical one) try it. You can probably find it, though I don’t know if it’s online.

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