In Praise of Dead White Males

The first time I saw a picture of one of my favorite authors, I was seventeen and an exchange student in the US. (I think I’ve made mention here, but maybe not, of how Portuguese did book covers: generic images, no author picture.) I borrowed a Clifford Simak hardback from the library, turned the picture over, and…. there he was.

And I was profoundly disappointed.

Look, I knew my favorite authors were my dad’s age or older. But did they all (I found other pictures later) need to look old and nerdish, and like they’d dismiss me with a “Little girl, we’re talking about important stuff here?” Couldn’t one of them at least be ravishingly handsome, rugged and about thirty if that?

Now that I’m well, old and one of the group — because the group of science fiction authors extends through space and time, and we don’t make much nevermind about vital status — I look at pictures of worldcons before I was born, and I can imagine myself walking into the hospitality suite, grabbing some stale peanuts and sitting on the floor, where the greats are talking, just to listen. And I know too that they wouldn’t have sent my 17 year old self away. Argued with me, to the last ditch, sure, but like my husband on the day they met and, for reasons known only to the psychiatrists we don’t have, fell into a heated discussion of parallel worlds from philosophical and mathematical perspectives, they’d be enthusiastic and happy to trade opinions. Oh, I’m not saying there wouldn’t have been flirting, some of it likely inappropriate. It was the times it was. But I doubt very much that it would have gone beyond that, without encouragement. (And heck, I grew up in Portugal.) However, there is to the vast SF geekdom this: that we forget everything in the presence of really compelling ideas, and I have always had a way of making men forget what I looked like, when I started talking.

Anyway, up till then, I really didn’t have a mental image of what the authors looked like, and I couldn’t care less. Just as I couldn’t care less if I read books that contained only male characters (Look, mostly not even science fiction, but dad’s World War I and II historical fiction library.)

What I cared about was that the characters be interesting, and the setting plausible and vivid.

I do realize that makes me a very strange little Portuguese girl, (wink, nudge) but I really didn’t need a Portuguese female character to be interested. Though I did sometimes wonder why everyone in the future would have English names. (Look, I was very young. I later found some French names, and Spanish names, too.)

And sure, I read only males — like oh, Anne McCaffrey, and Agatha Christie, to name two of them. — because as we know, in the past, only males were allowed to write.

Which is why nowadays, one by one “dead white males” are being erased from the curriculum, for equity or something. And why incredibly stupid people write about how males shouldn’t write novels, because you know, we have to make up for the hundreds of years that women weren’t allowed to write.

Need I clarify that there was never a time when women weren’t allowed to write or publish? I come from a very old culture, and the really old poetry (All literature starts with poetry unless it’s a nation born from a colony) was often penned by women, sometimes even nuns.

And there was no real discrimination about publishing women, though it’s entirely possible that in the middle-ages there was some sniffy stuff about women writing sacred stuff, for all I know. And sure, here and there some publisher might have been a pain in the butt, but here, listen, getting published for men, women or small striped dragons is not all beer and skittles. Either trad rejection or public indifference are by far the most common result of trying to get published. Getting published and/or known involves both skill and luck, the amount of each varying with each case.

So, why were most of the writers of the past men?

Well, because women often weren’t taught to write. Even in my childhood, it was normal for parents to save up, and send their sons to the best private schools available, while they sent their daughters to the village school. One step down from that, and women weren’t taught to read, while men were.

Unfair, etc? Oh, sure. I assume. Women in my family seem to be literate time out of mind, but you know, for most of a women’s life it wasn’t necessary. Even illiterate women could cypher and count money, which was needed. Writing, not so much, except for the occasional letter, and you could often get a neighbor to write one for you.

Mind you it wasn’t necessary for most men, either, and there’s a good chance most men in the past also couldn’t write. But for a few: priests, administrators, lawyers, it was essential. And if they chose to write on the side, they did.

Before you start screaming, as I said, a lot of the writing we have way back is from nuns. Or, you know, very rich women.

You see, writing, particularly fiction writing, is a thing of a very wealthy society. Societies that are living from meal to meal, barely scratching up a living, don’t have the leisure to write epics, nor frankly the leisure to read them.

So, by definition, only a small number of men, and a smaller number of women (let’s remember that until the advent of contraceptives, most women spent most of their lives pregnant) wrote at all.

Were these white people?

This is not a serious question. Depending on what you consider “white” — I mean, my people were writing plays, while the Northern Blonder People were painting their belly blue — if you extend it to the Mediterranean and middle east, yeah, they were white. On account of the rest of the world being largely illiterate or sunk in pre-history. (I know some South American civilizations had writing, but we don’t know how any of it worked, since it hasn’t been deciphered.)

It’s not like someone stood at the door, checking the paintchip color of people, before disseminating their writing.

No, that requires the modern age and a very expensive college education, because it’s an idea so stupid only the extremely indoctrinated could believe it.

The books, the stories, the biographies and histories we have are the only voices of their time. Were they written mostly by white males? Waggles hand. Probably a majority yes, and?

Will they have inherent biases? Damn Skippy they will. They were, you see, written by humans. And being written by humans, they will have the flaws of humans, which is being confined within their own time. And each time has its own notions, which seem ridiculous to other people in other times. (Yes, ours perhaps more than any other.) And yes, they would have their opinions as males. Which is not the same as the opinions of a woman of their time would be.

However, they are our past. You can often read around the edges and figure out the history of women in that time too. And at any rate, humanity is a whole, not different enough to rate separate histories. We are grown ups and can abstract the not-said from the said. Well, at least I can.

Here’s the thing, though, when you dismiss writers as “dead white males” or, I suppose “dead white females” and instead are prouder than anything that “women and people of color are getting published” and go out of your way to promote those, regardless of quality, you’re being more racist than anyone in the past. And more sexist too.

And you’re doing literature and history a serious disservice.

Humanity comes in many colors and our span of life is finite and confined in time.

But confining what’s available on purpose is exactly opposite the purpose of literature.

The purpose of literature is to get out from the space behind our eyes, and for a little while to be someone else.

Sure, narratives from a different perspective — if well done — are exotic and will appeal. But since we’re not all alike, what appeals to some won’t appeal to all.

During the late unpleasantness in SF there was a big claim that I or others like me didn’t want “women and minorities” to be published.

Besides being farcical (I have looked in the mirror, yes) that claim is also exactly the opposite of what we wanted. And what I want.

I want everyone who wants to write and be published to be so. Now, remember what I said above: most people fail at this, either traditional or indie. Instead of a triumphal march, the road to publication most often resembles a series of kicks in the teeth.

BUT those people who stick with it, and work at it? I don’t really give a good goddamn what their color, sex or sexual orientation is, I want them to be published. Because you know what? I read much faster than I write, and much faster than my half dozen favorites write. And I hate being out of new stuff to read.

Now, do I think they should be given priority in publication or dissemination ahead of “white males”? What kind of stupid question is that? I want good books to get published and distributed wide. I couldn’t care less about the personal characteristics of the author. Sure, if I like an author very very much, I will perhaps want to meet him or her. (This is mixed. Some of the people I met made it impossible to read their stuff again. And I liked it before…) But most of the time? I couldn’t care less. Terry Pratchett could have been a paraplegic lesbian pacific islander, and I’d have loved his books just the same.

To give priority to books because of the author’s color or minority status is rock-bottom-stupid. To get dumber than that, you’d have to be a nematode. Seriously.

The purpose of literature is to communicate. The purpose of fiction is to entertain and escape. Maybe to make you think as a distant third. None of that has anything to do with what a person does in the bedroom, what’s between their legs or their skin color.

And by the way, I know a number of men who write women better than women do, and vice versa, because humans are ridiculous and complex.

So, in defense of dead — and living — white males and even white honorary males, like all the women who wrote before 2000, in all the fields and whom present “women” are intent on erasing:

The only people who benefit from erasing the past of a field are those who know they’re not good enough to compete, and hope that by hiding the giants they’ll look way better.

This can be fixed by making everyone: male, female, hardvark, and white, black, purple, or polka dotted compete fairly.

Judge the book, not the author.

Anything else is the kind of stupidity that unmakes civilization. And none of these luvies would be as fond of pre-history as they think they would.

Write it all, market it all. Try as hard as you can.

Let excellence (and a bit of luck) determine whom our descendants get to sneer at.

242 thoughts on “In Praise of Dead White Males

  1. And sure, I read only males — like oh, Anne McCaffrey, and Agatha Christie, to name two of them. — because as we know, in the past, only males were allowed to write.

    Which is why nowadays, one by one “dead white males” are being erased from the curriculum, for equity or something.

    That includes males like Anne McCaffrey.

    I sat at a writer’s panel at Frolicon and listened to the woman who was then head (and as far as I know still is head) of the writer’s track at DragonCon claim “50 years ago they didn’t let women write science fiction” in 2017.

    Of course, 49 years prior Anne McCaffrey won both the Hugo and the Nebula in 1968 for items published in 1967.

    Guess they thought she was male.

    And in the 70s and 80s LeGuin was a feminist icon winning the Hugo and C. J. Cherryh was a lesbian winning it. Now they are forgotten and I guess straight respectively so as to not embarrass last decades “groundbreaking women”.

    Of course, in the 2040s those groundbreakers will be forgotten so that the new women finally breaking into sci-fi can be important.

    1. Okay, I will admit that for a long time, a long time ago (like when I was a TEENAGER) I thought Andre Norton was an unusual name for a guy, and wondered why his parents chose that name. When I finally found out that he was a she, all I said was, “Cool”, but I still thought that’s a strange name for her parents to choose for her. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know, PSEUDONYMS. I’ll borrow something I think Orvan said once, Ox smart, but ox a bit slow. So am I.

          1. Never heard of him before I grew up. I learned it is a boy’s name in my adolescence.

        1. Even though my middle name is Andre (accent aigu on the “e”), I knew Andre Norton was a woman from the first times I read her SF, back in the late ’50s or early ’60s. Now I didn’t know that James Tiptree Jr. was a woman for quite a while…

        2. While the Andre Norton name she used could possibly be ambiguous, there’s no doubt that the “Andrew North” name she used seemed male. She didn’t use it often, although her first SF story (“People of the Crater” in Fantasy Book in 1947 used it, as did the early editions of the Solar Queen novels (Sargasso of Space, which I first read in an Ace Double edition, used that name).

            1. She was the only Andre I had heard of.

              Me too. I didn’t know when I started reading her, that she was a she. But didn’t care.

              OTOH. Learned Logan is generic. Now have great-nephew (age 19), and great-niece (age 9 months), named Logan.

    2. Sad that so much of what these ignoramuses praise to the skies these days can be summed up with “LeGuin and her cohort did it a half century ago, and did it better.”

      1. You can find them praising stuff about the sexes that may have been original when E.E. “Doc” Smith did it.

        1. And Smith was not a dinosaur by the standards of his time. Note “Spacehounds of IPC,” where the female lead becomes the hunter who keeps herself and her beloved fed, an electrician, an observer, and genuine partner. Yes, the astronomy is way, way off but it’s still a fun story.

          1. Doc’s women got even stronger in later works like ‘The Vortex Blasters’ and the two ‘Subspace’ books. He had this Odd notion that exceptional men want exceptional women who can hold their own in a relationship. Only weak men would want weak women.

    3. I know Cherryh was still publishing a few years ago. I read her Cyteen novels in horrified fascination, as she did her absolute best to make slavery ethical.
      Come to think of it, I wonder if her work was a source for Weber and “genetic slavery”?

      1. I had the same reaction and she’s another one I didn’t realize was female. She has a very dark vision. I learned a lot from it.

      2. Well, the Union in her future is a slave society and the exit of vat created humans from slavery is a topic in several of her books.

        1. Cherryh is still writing that really long Foreigner series. She puts out a book a year, AFAIK, so there’s about 19 or 20 of them. It’s light stuff, for her, but it has some good alien culture things in it.

      3. Was genetic slavery Webber or was that brought in by Flint? It seems more Flint’s speed, he being a Trotskyite and all. I stopped reading them when they became too didactic.

          1. He has another collaborator (Jacob Holo) for a different series. I’ve read one book and it doesn’t really do anything for me.

          2. Weber’s got lots of collaborators. His most recent book is with Jane Lindskold (4th in that subseries). And another Honorverse subseries is with Tim Zahn and Thomas Pope. The Empire of Man series was with John Ringo. And the new sequel to the solo Out of the Dark is with Chris Kennedy.

        1. IIRC, it was mentioned in On Basilisk Station. There was a line somewhere about the family politics wrt to that. It was very definitely established fairly early on that her dad was native to the Treecat planet, and her mom was from Beowulf, and the political situation around Beowulf.

          1. OK, thank you I thought it came in with the manpower thing. It certainly became obtrusive then. made me stop reading the series, I remember the moment, “they’re just biologists!” Pournelle had a much better take in Birth of Fire.

            1. The point where Flint came in is pretty well known, he had short stories in some of the anthologies.

              The specifics of Manpower, I’m not sure of. But, I’m pretty sure that the Mesans were always widely hated on Beowulf, because renegades from Beowulf, in Weber’s story planning. Mainly because of how early Honor’s family politics was established.

              The hearsay is that what Flint did for the story and timeline was bring the big Mesan arc earlier in the timeline. Original plan was apparently that Honor would die at the end of the war with the Solarians, and her kids would fight the Mesans, or whatever happens.

              1. David Weber’s plan was for Honor to die in the Last Battle of the Manticore-Haven war with her last words convincing Queen Elizabeth to make a real peace with Haven.

                Then Honor’s children (as adults) would be involved in the War against Manpower (Mesan Alignment).

                But yes, Eric Flint wanted a story where Havenites and Manticorians would join forces against a common foe.

                David Weber decided that Manpower would be that common foe which brought Manpower strongly to the forefront in the Honorverse.

                Of course, David Weber admitted that he didn’t really want to kill off Honor. 😀

                  1. I thought she would kill him if he killed Nimitz not Honor. [Crazy Grin]

                    1. Considering in one of the books (the one where Honor and her merry band get captured by Haven) they make a point of treecats suiciding (usually) when their partner dies, it could’ve been both…

          2. Sphinx. I’m pretty sure Sphinx is the treecat planet. All that was coming to mind were Manticore and Gryphon.

    4. Maybe someone should compile a list of all the published female F&SF writers from prior to 1972, and send it to the idiots who make stupid assertions. Shouldn’t be more than a few pages. Single-spaced.

      1. Why bother.

        They don’t care and, to be honest, probably can’t read.

        Yep…it’s going to be a very down day.

          1. Point(s) taken. How about just for the satisfaction of possibly making their day as bad as possible if for some reason they do read it? 😉

  2. Good screed. I know that you have been pushing this for years (quite properly), but did something in particular set this one off?
    Whatever the cause, a good article.

          1. Ah. Yes, that one I have read before. Thank you.

            There’s a meme that goes around FB writing groups a lot that is something to the effect of “write something to lift the spirits of the ghosts of all the women before you who weren’t allowed to write” or some such thing. It irks me so much every time I see it, because these fools lap it up like that was ever true.

  3. The sad part is that you can explain this stuff to the other side in clear, unambiguous language (as Sarah has), and too many of them will still default to their programming instead of thinking about what you said.

  4. One of my “gateway” authors was Andre Norton and I don’t remember when I learned that Andre was a woman.

    However, it didn’t matter to me then (or now) that she was a female author.

    All that mattered was “I’ll enjoy books by Andre Norton”.

    Non-White Authors?

    I had no way of knowing if the authors that I enjoyed were White, Black, Brown, Yellow or Green.

    All I knew was that I enjoyed their work.

    1. I think by the time I ended HS I had read more women than men.

      My must-reads in the period included McCaffery, Heinlein, Bradley, Norton, Cherryh, and (Tanith) Lee.

        1. I read some Bradbury, but he was someone I discovered as an adult.

          I read a lot of Anderson but he wasn’t a “look, something new I haven’t read yet” author. That reminds me, I need to through The High Crusade in to the YouTube hopper.

      1. And sadly enough, as in the case of MZB, an author can do some absolutely despicable things in real life, and still be a good writer. /sigh Humans.

        1. Yeah. Fortunately, I had read much of her works prior to that coming out.

          For the Sword & Sorceress anthologies I didn’t have I’m buying used to keep cash out of the estate.

          That’s what really boils is…how many people she mentored or gave a break through those anthologies that might not be read by boycott or tarnished by association.

          1. I sold her a story for one of the Darkover anthologies and I got royalty checks for years. Decades, even. Some of them were tiny, but they still came. (The story is under my maiden name).
            Never knew about the bad stuff until long after the fact.

            1. Me neither.

              However, now all my stuff in the Sword and Sorceress anthologies is available in the collection Journeys and Wizardry, so I did that much. (Much easier, of course, because it was my own settings.)

    2. I never noticed that Norton, or Tanith Lee for that matter, were women. I just read whatever was there to read. Didn’t care who wrote it and certainly didn’t care about the state of their plumbing.

      Too many writers today are academics, writing for academics, giving each other prizes so they can get tenure. Little of what they write is worth reading, which is why I don’t read much fiction anymore, the probability of a dud is too high and a I don’t have the time to waste on duds.

      1. I only learned Norton was a female when a high school friend(she was a female 🙂 ) of mine pointed it out. I did know that Leigh Brackett (of whom I’d read the Skaith books) was female but my friend didn’t. Fair exchange …

      1. For Me it was Tolkein who started me down the path of Fantasy/Scifi with a 4th grade teacher that read us the Hobbit during one rather rainy winter where we couldn’t go out to recess. 5th grade reading teacher pointed me at Bradbury (R is for Rocket and S is for Space) as well as I Robot and I was hooked.

      2. The Prince Commands captivated me at a very young age. Later, I read it out loud to each of my children. That and Red Moon on Black Mountain by Joy Chant, another chick BTW.

        I seem to have an awful lot of women authors on my list of favorites . Must be false consciousness. I denounce myself.

  5. I was amused for years by the fact that one of the very first narratives which can be classified as a romance novel was written in the 11th century by a woman writer.
    In Japan. The Tale of Genji, by the Lady Murasaki.

    1. I’ve been watching a vlogger who talks about the history of that time period. Wealthy women back then had both great lives and awful lives. Great lives, because they didn’t have to do any work and didn’t worry about money. Awful, because they generally couldn’t even leave the house, and didn’t have that much to do. Thus, writing, of poetry, stories, diary entries, and letters to friends.

      1. The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon is an essential Heian work, and explains a lot about Genji’s world. But it’s also hilarious, because the lady Shonagon hated, hated, despised Murasaki. Two great women writers in a court full of really good writers and poets, and they both get territorial with each other. Heh!

        OTOH, you know what would be great? A buddy lady-in-waiting adventure with two characters like them, forced to work together. And probably they’d still despise each other at the end…. 🙂

  6. Will they have inherent biases? Damn Skippy they will. They were, you see, written by humans. And being written by humans, they will have the flaws of humans, which is being confined within their own time.

    I am reliably assured by my, mostly white, betters that only whites have flaws and then only whites who disagree with my, again mostly white, betters. Oh, and non-whites who disagree with them are “acting white” and race traitors which is the first evil all non-whites who aren’t angelic commit in order to lose their angelic status.

    “White” is now a class term, not a racial one, thus allowing Marxism to be back in its original home.

    1. To borrow from Clausewitz, racial identity group Marxism is simply the continuation of class warfare Marxism by other means.

    1. Just, the irony of saying it in the anniversary year of the first story by a woman to win a Hugo and a Nebula sticks with me.

      There is ignorance and relying on the audience’s ignorance and then there is what this fool said.

    2. Franks isn’t genderqueer and more interested in taking over the local grade school so it’s not real sf.

      1. ((blinks))

        Took me a second to realize you weren’t talking about Agent Franks from MHI

        1. Thanks. That one got mr too.
          Glad that I had already set the rum down. Can’t commit alcohol abuse, ya know.
          John in Indy

    3. The book I begged my lit teacher to let me switch to, after the lamentable mistake of attempting the Pride and Prejudice group instead.

      Not to dig Jane Austin, but she’s never been my cuppa.

      1. I found that she’s a lot easier to understand after seeing a good dramatization of each work. “Oh, that’s why it’s funny!” makes subsequent readings much easier.

        I mean, social cues from 200 years ago aren’t the easiest to catch, but when they show someone being snarky as heck, you learn how to find it.

  7. Need I clarify that there was never a time when women weren’t allowed to write or publish?

    I presume they’vve never heard of Tale of Genji, or the Pillow book” of Sei Shonagon?

    1. Hell, apparently they haven’t heard of Jane Austen or the Bronte sisters.

      Despite the former writing the greatest novel in the English language.

      1. Or their much-vaunted “mother of science fiction” Mary Shelley. Who was nothing of the sort. The fact that they were having a “Gothic story competition” at a house party kind of indicates that Gothic stories were already popular.

        Her mother was somewhat of a prolific writer herself, as well. And then there was that French chick, Olympe wossname, who wrote a Universal Declaration of the rights of women in response to a document regarding the rights of men in the French revolution.

        But of course women have never had any power or influence.

        1. yes, they were doing a Gothic competition, but she particularly did an SF Gothic inspired by the discovery that electricity could make the muscles of the dead contract.

      2. Granted, I’ve read all of Austen’s work because I enjoy it. May I ask the reasoning behind calling it the greatest? And which one?

        1. While I’m not Herb, it’s safe to say he meant Pride and Prejudice. As for the reasoning, sheer massive popularity makes for a pretty good argument (the Benjamin awards and all that), but perhaps Herb will address that question if he had other reasons besides its consistent, enduring sales numbers.

        2. Pride & Prejudice and simply because I find it the finest novel I’ve read in the English language. It may lag behind others in specific areas, but I can think of none that does better across all areas such as characterization, plot, structure, beauty of language, etc.

          1. And one of the greatest opening lines in literary history.

            Right up there with “Sing, O goddess, the anger of Achilles son of Peleus, that brought countless ills upon the Achaeans. Many a brave soul did it send hurrying down to Hades, and many a hero did it yield a prey to dogs and vultures, for so were the counsels of Jove fulfilled from the day on which the son of Atreus, king of men, and great Achilles, first fell out with one another.”

            1. I’ll admit my favorite first line is a bit more recent: “I always get the shakes before a drop”, but I do love both of those as well.

            2. Also, very odd aside, having finally read The Iliad itself has changed how I view at least the first Gor book.

                1. One would expect that John Lange (his real name), a tenured professor of Philosophy at Queens College in New York City, would have read Homer starting very early in his journey towards his PhD.

          2. Thank you. It is my favorite, but just because it is my favorite, doesn’t make it the most excellent. I rate it as having the most accessible plot out of the set, to a modern audience primed for a cinderella romance, and am not sure how that affects my read on it.

  8. Why were there no female writers? Yes, of course there were/are but none the less; “A man may work from dawn to dusk, but a woman’s work is never done”, pretty much a historical truth.

    Cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner, getting 13 kids ready for school and ready for bed, cleaning, canning darning socks when a moment can be spared leaves little time for parsing poem parts or prose preparing. I’ve great respect for the lasses and ladies though the ages and tip my hat to them all, writers or not.

    1. Single women without wealth in the past didn’t usually have welfare to live off of to have the opportunity for writing. Widows of nobles, or wealthy businessmen, apparently had the money to live off of while writing. Of course women in 2 parent families with a decent income and an understanding spouse had windows of opportunities, even between the kids and housekeeping. J.K. Rowling wrote while living on state assistance (U.K. welfare?) as a single parent. .I suspect she’s paid way more in income taxes than she ever took in welfare from the State. Good for her!

        1. Ummm…. only by those in the literary world who happen to be biologists, right? Since the others, like our latest USSC nominee, can’t define sex? Besides, isn’t that “misgendering”, and thus a mortal sin?

          1. It’s only misgendering when you do it to a human being, and not to an evil white cishet tool of the patriarchy. Rowling lost her status as human when she forgot to remember to forget that Oceania used to be at war with Eastasia.

            What, you were expecting consistency? The only thing consistent about Left ideology is the hatred of dissent.

          2. A woman is anything that identifies as a woman. I can’t identify a woman, only a woman can identify a woman then only herself by identifying as a woman.

            It’s quite straight forward.

            1. Absolutely! So if you self-identify as a woman you are a woman. I believe I’ll self-identify as a black lesbian female and try to get appointed to the Supreme Court. 😉 I’m amazed that more don’t take that route in order to increase “diversity” in corporate boardrooms. Or on college entrance interviews; after all, one cannot question self-identification…

              And think of all the exploding heads! 🙂

              As someone once said, to beat a system you simply turn the handle in the direction it’s intended to go, but much further than intended.

              1. As for college admissions, South East Asian students have listed as black for admissions. The brother of the star of The Mindy Project did it for medical school admissions.

                1. And the beauty is that, by their own idiotic rules, the lefties and other “activists” can’t object.

                  Keep turning that handle…

                  1. Oh, they objected because he wasn’t black.

                    Lefties have no rules. It is Calvin Ball all the way down. Including in our courts more and more.

                    1. Yep. But it’s amusing to make them squirm in an effort to avoid saying that the rules are different for them. “Native American” Lizzie, and “Black” Jessica.

                      “You are whatever you say you are!”
                      “OK, I say I’m black,”
                      “NO, YOU AREN’T!!!”

                      Like I said, amusing; maybe they’ll disappear in a puff of cognitive disconnect… 🙂

      1. Louisa May Alcott. She first wrote “sensational,” stories before changing to more wholesome fare. Including a book of fairy stories so sweet you can rot your teeth reading them. (I have a copy.)

        1. I downloaded that book from Project Gutenberg, I think? Or something Gutenbergish. Made Winnie the Pooh look like a Cormac McCarthy special. “Tonstant Weader fwowed up”, indeed.

      2. A lot of women managed diaries and huge numbers of letters, even while working all the hours they had. So women novelists were just changing their writing activities, in some cases.

  9. Yes, dammit, yes. I love to read. I don’t write fiction (too busy writing technical stuff, proposals, and and I’m better at other stuff, though the teacher made us do some in high school English class). I don’t CARE what the author looks like. I don’t care what the author’s politics are (when it comes to the story; given the times, I DO care about how they affect other parts of my life). Like Paul says above…I have no idea when I found out Andre Norton was female – you can’t tell from the name!!! I probably blinked, said, “So? OK,” and checked out some more of her books from the bookmobile (one of the best inventions EVER, and one of the few good uses of tax money). Female authors don’t occupy a majority of my bookcases…they might not even occupy half…but by golly, they are well represented.

  10. My daughter grew up thinking all women were engineers since my wife, my sister, my sister-in-law, and several friends of our are engineers. My sister is a PE. With all this example of STEM excellence in front of her, my daughter chose …. Latin and Ancient Greek. Go figure.

    Some idiot gave her a hard time about this and she told her that she likes languages and doesn’t like math and that she should go F off. This woman was offended that my daughter should study what she wanted.

    All sorts of submissive women in my family. Snort.

    Off topic. Somebody went bust today, don’t know who yet but I think it might be crypto— the average crypto whatever it is is now below its cost basis, Essentially crypto is underwater. Anywho, whomever was selling was selling whatever they could sell for whatever they could get for it. Things are really bad. Oh, and China went back into none dare call it lockdown, again and it’s a race to see if it’s Europe or Japan that cracks up.

    1. I wonder if this is related at all to the current Red Flag law push? Apparently part of why Cornyn caved was a bunch of big name investors, headed by a JP Morgan Chase guy took out a bunch of ads praising him for caving?

      If the market is starting to well and truly burn in, the gov’t giving itself the legal cover to go door to door and take stuff makes a lot of sense, even if it would cost them their next election.

      1. Why did he cave?

        He’s a GOP politician. Most GOP pols are bigger liars than Democrats because they are just Democrats who actively lie about their intent to get the votes of those who don’t vote Democrat.

        1. It’s possible that a couple of senators caved if their governor is a Democrat because they didn’t want to be the next assassination targets as the lack of coverage by Democratic Party media and the lack of condemnation by the Democratic Party leadership makes it clear that the attempt on Kavanaugh was essentially approved of by the Democrats.

          Given that the Democrats Plan B to court packing is to have enough justices murdered to change the outcome of decisions (decisions are not final until issued; an assassination of one of the 5 votes to overturn Roe would turn it into a 4-4 decision which upholds Roe), it is quite conceivable that the Democrats would do the same thing to be able to end the filibuster in the Senate, enabling them to ram through their full “fundamental transformation: agenda.

          When Democrats and the left proclaim “by any means necessary” it means they will do ANYTHING to get their way, including promoting violence and murder of political opponents who stand in the way of their achieving their goals.

          1. Just mostly read an article from, the Intercept, which claims almost all progressive organizations are in the throes of massive internal strife between the older leadership (“We can change the world!”) and the young membership (“We need to change our own workspace to match our ideals before we do anything else.”)
            Aside from my feeling that it couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch, the thing that hit me was according to the writer they really, truly believe the public loves them and their ideas and the infighting allows “right-wing trolls,” to sabotage their efforts.

          2. “So, since the Dems are willing to commit political violence let’s vote to disarm our supporters first.”

            Yet if I refuse to vote for the GOP as a result I’ll be told I’m the one surrendering to Democrats.

            1. If they wanted an invertebrate Senator, maybe they should elect Earthworm Jim. 😉

      2. There are a lot of JPM guys, signifies little. Cowardice is the only thing that contends with narcissism for dominance in your average politician.

        The government is the great beneficiary of market declines. All those tasty capital gains taxes.

        The sad fact is that the world’s central banks have been pushing on a string for the last decade and they’re running out of push. The demographics won’t support the level of credit.

        Crypto, whatever it was, could have been, or could be, right now is a Ponzi scheme that’s broken. I have no idea how this all plays out.

        1. Yeah. Why actually deal with the guy with a history of felony assault, when you can just send the cops after anyone who complains about it?

          I mean, someone who got their jollies for surprising people with a bag of dead cats might actually be dangerous. Voters, however are replaceable, with machines even!

          I guess I’m getting cynical these days.

          1. The key thing I’ve learned in the post-Trump’s victory world is no matter how cynical I get about “elites” or institutions is I’m not cynical enough.

    2. I have a cousin who works as an aerospace engineer for McDonnell-Douglas, and wife’s cousin worked for Teledyne designing the payloads for the ISS. Both women.

      1. Late FIL (never met him) was a mustang engineer with $LARGE_CITY. His youngest daughter is a retired engineer (EE, doing a lot of failure analysis & design), and her daughter is an ME, currently on hiatus to raise two or more littles. (#2 is due in a month or three.)

    3. Crypto has been ready for a bust for a long time. I knew it was imminent the minute bought the naming rights to an arena. When the promoters of an asset bubble have to appeal to unsophisticated retail investors (read: suckers) in order to sell their asset, the end is invariably nigh.

      The thing about crypto: As Gertrude Stein used to say, there is no there there. A Bitcoin represents nothing. It’s not even a fiat currency; it’s a vapour currency. All fiat currencies, at bottom, are backed by the lead standard: you can use them to pay your taxes, which prevents the nice young men from the government from filling you with lead. (Currencies that cannot be used to pay taxes quickly become worthless: viz. the Roman antoninianus in the third century, or the Zimbabwean dollar a few years ago.) You can’t pay taxes in Bitcoin.

      The one thing crypto had going for it was the silly belief that blockchain technology allows for anonymous money transfers. In fact, every person who has ever owned a particular chunk of Bitcoin or other crypto is listed in the blockchain itself. It’s not anonymous at all, merely pseudonymous – and the financial authorities are getting much savvier at teasing out the identities behind those pseudonyms. The real utility of crypto, I’m afraid, was chiefly for money laundering and other illegal transactions, and that is no longer safe to do. There goes the only competitive advantage crypto ever had.

      I have been saying for a while that instead of crypto, I would like to invest in a safe and useful bubble asset, like Dutch tulips. At least you can use those to grow pretty flowers.

      1. I disagree slightly. Yes, Bitcoin is dependent on electricity and internet access. But because it is based on a “gold” standard, it actually can act as a hedge against inflation. It mimics a gold standard because there is an actual limit to how many bitcoins can exist. Like gold itself, it is dependent on the agreed-upon exchange value. Now, of course, speculators have bid the price up way beyond any inflation from the US or Europe, so it’s a sucker’s bet to buy it now in the US or Europe. Venezuela, not so much, but that brings up the problem of how you exchange a digital currency for goods in a society so shattered that electricity is not reliable. Only a fool would buy digital currency through a digital currency broker though.

        1. Don’t want to argue, Bitcoin could be something and might be something, someday, but right now it’s a popping bubble. The stable coins are straight up ponzis loaded up with sub-prime, Chinese real estate company paper. Some/Most/All of the smaller cryptos are just a scam.

          All this popping is why I’m glad I have lots, thousands in fact, of proper books — many by women, some by women who write here. When the hammer comes down I can spend my time reading them and they’re very good insulation to keep out the cold come winter, double value.

        2. Gold is not just a means of exchange – it has several other uses. Those other uses anchor its value, keeping its price from swinging wildly. That, not its finite supply, is what makes it a hedge against inflation. The supply of Bitcoins being finite has absolutely no bearing on their price; what matters is that a Bitcoin is only currency, with no other conceivable use. Thus its price is purely a result of speculation, and rises or falls only on the whims of traders. That’s not a hedge against anything.

          Fiat currencies have stable values because the issuing governments promise to accept them as payment of debts to them (principally, though not only, your tax bill, as Tom Simon said.) Bitcoin manages to combine the flaws of metal specie and fiat money, with the virtues of neither.

          1. Apparently distributed block chain registers do have legitimate applications, but the speculation that is the primary reason to set them up tends to make them useless for the more legitimate applications.

          2. The other thing about cryptocurrency is that, while the supply of Bitcoin or any other given crypto may be fixed, there is no limit to the number of cryptocurrencies, and pyramid schemers can and do create new ones at will – which dilutes the value, such as it is, in the same way that printing money dilutes the value of fiat currency.

            Too many cryptos chasing too few suckers, is how I read the situation at the moment. And don’t get me started about the people who have gone bankrupt speculating on NFTs. Those are like Franklin Mint collector plates, only you don’t get anything as useful as a plate.

        1. According to Harry Dresden (via Jim Butcher), Bigfoot pays in gold. 😉

    4. Pixy Misa, yesterday, was blogging about some sort of crypto currency’s collapse. Have no evidence that it is related, but the timing is slightly suspicious. But, timing coincidences are likely when you have several fragile enterprises and they have things in common that they rely on. Loud noise in one of the common inputs might break several things, but in different ways or at least different incidents.

      And, many things in the overall general situation that would put stress on a financial scheme.

      1. It shouldn’t be a surprise. Almost all of this stuff has been buoyed by the tide of central bank money that’s been flowing for the last 12+ years. When the tide goes out, as it is now, you see who’s been swimming naked. Lots of Ponzis are an excellent tell.

        A crackup bust is the inevitable end to an artificial monetary expansion. We’ve had outright financial repression since 2007 at least so this bust will likely be a doozy. The real tell is whether the market responds positively to the first FRB easing, as they have in 2011//2014/2018/2020 or whether the market finally understands that there’s no real growth out there to support these ridiculous valuations and crashes down to some sort of reasonable price.

        The buzz is that Japanese bonds might have no demand (no bid). And the Euro not far behind. the euro is held together by the Germans willingness to take pain on behalf of the other members — almost none — and the other member’s inability to inflict pain on Germany. they managed to destroy Greece, yes it was deserved but they were no worse than the bloody German, but Italy is too big and the Germans have alienated everyone, they’re very vulnerable right now. The ECB has bailed out Italy and the periphery before, but it’s much bigger now.

        1. In related news (I think it’s related, anyway; I don’t do cryptocurrency), Celsius, a crypto lender is now refusing to allow any withdrawals and transfers. (Sounds like a “You fucked up. You trusted us!” moment.)

          1. Oh yes. Anyone using a crypto exchange really ought to read their contract. Rehypothecation is one of those things that most people think ought to ge illegal but isn’t. Let’s just say that if you use a margin account you may not own what you think you do and your asset might have been used as collateral and belongs to someone else now. It’s really a bad business — one of the worst in fact. The crypto exchanges promoted it as “quick start” so you didn’t have to wait for funds to clear to start.

  11. Anything else is the kind of stupidity that unmakes civilization. And none of these luvies would be as fond of pre-history as they think they would.

    Hence the growing “burn it down and fulfill their fantasies” movement.

    They want to destroy all I love of civilization why shouldn’t I return the favor.

  12. I read pretty much anything I could get my hands on and that (obviously) includes a lot of female SF/F writers. Stories. Give me good stories.

    1. Liar liar pants on fire white male cisnormative transphobic homophobic Islamophobic white supremacist LIAR! There’s no such thing as a good story. All fiction is propaganda and nobody ever reads it for fun. You’re supposed to read the RIGHT Left authors, and you read them because they are GOOD for you.

      This is how the Left ‘knows’ we are actually a bunch of white male racist haters. The truth about reading for entertainment simply will not fit in the head of anyone whose reading habits are conditioned by decades of Sucking Up To Teacher.

      1. LOL!! I used to get in trouble in elementary school (especially 5th grade for some reason) for reading during other topics. I put books on my lap and would glance down. Problem was I’d get lost in the story and not notice until the chalkboard eraser hit my head (thanks Mr. Falls!) Starting in about third grade my parents just let me go through their extensive library and read whatever struck my fancy. My dad gave me his copies of the Wizard of Oz series (which had been given to him by his grandmother when he was a kid).

        I also purposely avoided “serious fiction” for a looong time. I read Jane Austen for the first time about 10-15 years ago (I’m 61).

        1. My second-grade teacher bribed me with books to stay quiet during nap time. I think I still have the Readers Digest summer treasury book, though it’s held together with rubber bands.

          1. I started doing that in law school. There are a lot of curious cases and strange rules that spawn plot bunnies.

            Like Stambovsky v. Ackley that decided to set aside caveat emptor so that home buyers wouldn’t have to hire a medium to tour houses like they do a termite inspector. Or <Mayo v. Satan and His Staff that establishes you can’t sue Satan because “go to hell” doesn’t constitute enough instructions for the bailiff to serve the lawsuit.

            1. In Colorado it’s ILLEGAL to disclose a house is haunted, which saved our butts twice.
              I don’t trust most mediums or I’d have them tour the house, because we seem to buy a lot of those.

              1. Okay, that’s something we didn’t cover in law school. The Stambovsky case doesn’t require New Yorkers to disclose that a house is haunted, just that anything the seller has publicly advertised about their house (in this case, two pieces in Readers’ Digest) they have to also tell their sellers.

                1. yeah, that would be a serious problem. Second haunted house, our friend who is a ghost hunter (did I say she was sane?) wanted to do recordings of, and we said NO.

      2. Plus you SHOULD like the edifying stories and be grateful for the lessons.

          1. Absolutely. That was me channeling my inner leftist. Who, in the 19th century, would have been an icon in the Temperance movement.

  13. I’ll be the first to admit what typically got me to pick up a book and take it to the register or the check out desk, was the cover. Name of the author? Huh, what? Leave me alone, I’m reading. Picked up “The White Dragon” because the cover looked interesting, the back blurb sounded interesting, so I read it (then the rest of the trilogy in reverse and wasn’t that a bit confusing!)

    A lot of Andre Nortons’ covers looked interesting, but the blurbs on the back didn’t suck me in, so I passed. I can now say, I knew Andre is (was?) a female for (looks at watch) about 30 minutes ago. 🙂

    I’m a simple creature, write something I enjoy, not something that preaches to me or browbeats me. I do enjoy some of Scalzis’ stuff, but I’m pretty sure a calm, rational discussion of anything BUT his books would not be in the cards (OK, maybe food, cats, and dogs, too)

    My apologies to our hostess, but I tried reading Darkship Thieves (and again, yes, the cover got my attention, I’m a straight male, cut me some slack!) but just couldn’t get “lost” in it. Maybe I gave up to quick, might try again.

    Have I ever cared about anything about the author beyond “do I enjoy this book?” Nope.

    1. I’m a simple creature, write something I enjoy, not something that preaches to me or browbeats me.

      This. So much this. I read to escape. I don’t want to have life lessons pushed into my face. I don’t want to read preachy, moralistic screeds attempting to disguise themselves as stories. I want to hang out with Johnny Tremain, ride a dragon, visit other planets, talk to elves, fight space pirates… all that. Along the way I might pick up some ideas or lessons or philosophies, but the story comes first.

      1. I recently realized that Johnny Tremain left out a lot about attempted UK gun control of Colonial weaponry. But then I realized that Johnny Tremain was already a zillion pages long.

      2. Yeah this. Had to toss Terry Goodkind out the window after slogging through yet another long winded essay on his particular worldview, marketed as ‘story’.

          1. To be fair, that’s about where it got too much for me too. The first couple of books were much lighter, and then he did the whole “goes to a communist-ish country and wows them with a statue” schtick and it went downhill from there very quickly.

    2. The problem is publishing, broadly defining including reviewers, agents, etc not just editors, is now run by people who think “is this book enjoyable?” is never a valid question, not even at the button of the list.

      It is all about skin tone, eye folds, fiddly bits, preferred fiddly bits, politics, and heaven knows what else. But enjoyable? That can never, ever be an issue.

    3. Bought The White Dragon because I loved the author. Never bought another hardcover from her publisher again. The book was garbage. It fell apart before I finished reading it. Glued together like a paperback, but not as well.

  14. I’m much less concerned about the writer as a person, than I am with the quality of the writer.

    Warren Ellis…in the most optimistic interpretation, he played up a rockstar writer lifestyle, and sometimes forgot that groupies tend to have the same political environment as a harem and he suffered for it. He still writes great stuff and what I don’t like, I’ll be the first to admit is outside of my usual wheelhouse of enjoyment.

    An amazing number of creators of manga are female. Can’t tell by how they do stories, most of the time.

    John Ringo…really needs to get his muse back to work. But, he writes great stuff.

    Eric Flint, as long as he’s got a good editor, he’s wonderful. He’s also a raging commie.

    Demanding ideological purity is the first thing that turns me off on a writer or creator.

  15. I’ve never cared about the skin color, sex, or other attributes of authors. If I like the stories, I read them, and if not, not. That’s been true as far back as I can remember reading, and that’s noticeably more than fifty years now. I didn’t need to read about “people like me”, either. I was just as happy with Nancy Drew as with the Hardy Boys, and if Podkayne of Mars was a girl, so what? She was caught in the middle of a good story and I enjoyed reading it. Anyone who insists that I’m doing wrongfun is an idiot, now and forever.

    1. Likewise. Someone set fire to my school the summer in between the 6th and 7th grades (I cried…that was my absolute favorite part of the school, of course). An adjoining school district donated some portable buildings; one side of one became the library. I don’t know where they got the books, but somehow they wound up with the entire (at the time, ~1976) set of Nancy Drew books, all new. I checked those out in order, and read the whole set. Then I checked them out and read them all again. I read what Hardy Boys they had, too, but they didn’t have the full set. It was all good.

  16. Hear Hear!
    From the age of 5 I read SciFi no matter what the author’s name was, as long as it was a good story. I read not knowing the sex of Andre Norton or James Tiptree. The stories were good and that was enough. In college I read The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings trilogy but still eschewed most fantasy until I discovered Mercedes Lackey in my 30s. She wrote page-turners and expanded my reading horizons.
    I don’t care about the personal details of the writer. I care that the story keeps me engrossed.
    And I would be surprised were that not the attitude of most consumers of SciFi/Fantasy.

  17. Dalton Trumbo was a great writer and a full-blown Communist who was not mistakenly blacklisted. Still, he wrote Spartacus and adapted Lonely are the Brave into great movies. He also was a total WWII peacenik until Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, and then he was, as ordered, a total war hawk. So much so that he tried to have his anti-war book unpublished. Still, he could tell an enjoyable story much better than any of the current talent-free hacks of “traditional” publishing.

  18. I had no idea Andre Norton was a female until just now. I’ve read a lot of Andre Norton. It never occurred to me that it mattered what she, or any other author looked like. I don’t care if the characters are male or female either although I am partial to dragons.

    I don’t care. I just want a good story.

    I have loved Sci-fi since I read The Incredible Flight to the Mushroom Planet in 1st grade when the librarian at school let me read from any grade level I wanted. I had read all the fairytale books and she suggested it. I’ve loved fantasy since I was given The Hobbit when I was 10. And I’ve always liked non fiction but I will read literally anything if I don’t have a favorite to hand.

    1. My father tried to force me to read nonfiction at a 2:1 ratio to fiction. As a result, I didn’t voluntarily touch a nonfiction book until I was 30 and stuck on bed rest. I have made many parenting mistakes, but at least I didn’t repeat that one.

      1. My mom made me read a literary book for every science fiction I read in high school.

        Still not a fan of literary.

        Oh, I was home schooled. She was concerned I needed to read Great Books. Would’ve helped more if there were any Great Books in what she picked. They were mostly awful to not very good, in my opinion.

          1. That’s because ‘literary’ is defined by not being interesting. Any subject matter that would interest a normal human reader is ruled out of bounds.

            In An Experiment in Criticism, C. S. Lewis correctly pointed out that so-called realistic fiction is a recent invention, and for most of human history, would have been regarded as rubbish:

            [U]ntil quite modern times nearly all stories were of the first type – belonged to the family of the Oedipus, not to that of Middlemarch. Just as all except bores relate in conversation not what is normal but what is exceptional – you mention having seen a giraffe in Petty Cury, but don’t mention having seen an undergraduate – so authors told of the exceptional. Earlier audiences would not have seen the point of a story about anything else. Faced with such matters as we get in Middlemarch or Vanity Fair or The Old Wives’ Tale, they would have said ‘But this is all perfectly ordinary. This is what happens every day. If these people and their fortunes were so unremarkable, why are you telling us about them at all?

            Lewis wrote that while he was a professor at Cambridge, where F. R. Leavis ruled the literary roost. It was Leavis who codified the canon of ‘literary’ English novels in a book he called (with an astounding lack of humility) The Great Tradition. He admitted as charter members of his ‘Tradition’ Jane Austen, George Eliot, Henry James, Joseph Conrad, and D. H. Lawrence, but excluded Dickens on the grounds that he was ‘a mere entertainer’. Leavis had left Cambridge by the time Lewis arrived, but the English faculty was full of Leavisites and it took considerable courage to prick their prize balloon in such a way.

              1. Austen is entertaining if you read for entertainment, but fortunately she’s far enough in the past that you pretty much need a year or two of historical study to get all the nuances. I suspect Leavis approved of the latter quality while tut-tutting about the former.

                1. Does anyone have a cliff’s note’s version of the historical circumstances around Austen? I have read it some uncounted number of times, and while I think I get the humor and sarcasm in the stories, I would be interested in such from someone who has studied that era.

              2. Read Tom Sharpe’s The Great Pursuit for a beautiful sendup of the Leavis’s and their epigoni. Publishing too. A minor classic of British satire.

        1. Oh boy.

          In my senior year of honors English, we had to do a literary term paper. Index cards, footnotes, the whole shebang. Each person had to read three books by the same author. I’m going down the list, and I involuntarily, STUPIDLY, said, “Oh, good! Asimov is on here! I’ve read two of these already!” My teacher – loved her to death – but what she did to me sorely stretched it. She said, “Well, of course, you CAN’T have him if you’ve already read some of the works! I’LL select one for you.” And she picked…Theodore Dreiser. GAAAA. The Financier, Sister Carrie, and An American Tragedy. That man wrote the most dang depressing novels! An American Tragedy was 828 pages long! I think I had 81 footnotes, and I typed my paper on a manual typewriter (I had taken a year of typing while a junior). It was an A paper, but it was SOOOO awful. I would have taken anything else on that list, knowing then what I know now. It’s a wonder I didn’t turn into some kind of psychotic reading those novels.

          At least, I don’t THINK I did…some of my friends might opine that the jury’s still out.

        2. My father was a bonafide 60s sci-fi geek but also a screaming control freak. When I discovered Tolkien, he tried to restrict me to 50 pages per day. I meekly moved my bookmark ahead 50 pages each day, while I read as much as I damn well pleased and memorized the page number where I’d quit.

  19. I’m so sick of all the gormless, feckless, pusillanimous, dishonest, and otherwise predictably juvenile would-be marxist schmendricks trying to sell us another version of Year Zero that I just laugh them to scorn.

    Yes, it’ll probably be the end of me; but I’ve already beaten two cancers, so maybe not.

  20. I read what I could get my hands on from the time I was 8 or so. Before that reading was “boring” (I’m the “See Dick & Jane” reading generation). Started with the Black Stallion books, and “A Horse Name Saber”. I read Norton, Heinlein, McCaffery, Herbert (Dune well before I understood most of it), Hobbit, etc. A lot of my English Lit teachers gave up after the first couple of books after the following discussion would occur “We’re reading Chapter X”, not whatever I was actually reading. “Done with it.”, “Re-read it.”, “Re-read what? The book? Or just the Chapter?”, silence, “Never mind. Just write a book report on whatever you are reading.” Never had to read some of the classics 🙂

    I too read fiction during other classes. Other than the middle school Spanish sub, instructors learned to let me. Otherwise I just kept asking questions, ahead of where the class was officially in the text book. Don’t get me wrong, this did not help when it came to college. I floundered. Got through. Second time around was much better. But I definitely floundered first time through.

    1. Dick, Jane and Sally didn’t kill my love of reading. Once I figured it out, even the back of cereal boxes were fair game for reading. IIRC, Scholastic Press did a run of thin books, and I got Silverberg’s Revolt on Alpha C. After that, I found the SF bookcase at the town library’s kid’s section, then when I’d mined that, went upstairs.

      One of the nicest things my brother’s future BIL did was to gift me his collection of RAH paperbacks. I’d read the juveniles before (Starman Jones was a bit of a slog at age 10, largely due to my then-limited vocabulary, which I cured by Moar Reading!), but his were the general books. Yippie!

      Never looked back, though I stopped for a while in the late ’80s through ‘early ’90s as life and the Grey Goo content coincided to make other things more important.

      1. “Thou Shalt Read This” burned things out, but stuff just left around was another matter. School pushing Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn turned me off of Twain for a while – then I saw (on PBS, yet…) a production of Mysterious Stranger and suddenly I was checking out almost everything Twain from the local library. Stuff lying around included textbooks. Spent one summer, well before HS, with Modern Chemistry (1954 edition). Later, Elements of Radio, then Basic Television. I was sorely disappointed in the lack informative quality of more recent texts compared to those books from the mid-1950’s that might assume ignorance, but never stupidity.

      2. Did you ever had the reading test comprehensive card series? Third & fourth grade (I think). Read the short story on front of card, turn over, and answer the questions. When “passed”, went on to the next card. An hour 3 days a week. There were 3 or 4 of us who went through the box in a week or two. Okay, kind of broke the “rules” by completing the cards before the teacher could grade them. Not one of us failed a single card. She kind of let us read what we wanted during those 3 hours a week. Fourth grade I had to work on my multiplication papers. Not that I couldn’t do them, but the entire sheet, when tested, had to be completed in 1 minute. That I had problems with then.

        1. Were those the colored, laminated things? I remember going through the whole set, but I don’t know if that’s what they were called. My teacher also allowed me to read whatever I wanted from then on. That’s when I read Watership Down, which took me a while. (I got faster; in high school, I read Battlefield Earth in two days – including reading it during all of my classes.)

          I’m still upset about the addition and subtraction sections of the ASVAB. I forget the number of questions and the time limit, but it was a bunch of really simple math (12-4=? 5+6=?, etc…) with a very short time limit. The only test sections I’ve not finished in the time allotted, ever.

          1. Were those the colored, laminated things?

            Yes. I do not remember the “official” name of them (it has been 55+ years). Just they were intended for reading comprehension VS pure vocabulary word meaning. Flip side, we weren’t reading aloud.

            Which is why, despite blazing through those, and reading on my own, I was labeled “unable to read”. I’m 65. I still have problems reading aloud. Disconnect between brain and mouth, plus tendency to read with eyes faster than mouth can repeat it … um, it just doesn’t work. Used to embarrass me. Now? Nope. Not a chance.

  21. Well, since the Old Testament and New Testament both feature women who are writers and poets, and prophets, and pointed out as wise and clever and beloved by God, it was always a tad bit of a bad idea to be too misogynistic as any flavor of Jew or Christian.

    Of course, throughout most of history, literature was oral, and often anonymously passed around (or it outlived people’s knowledge of who composed it). And even after writing became popular, reading and retention was largely something involved with the “ars memoriae” and building memory palaces. It pretty much didn’t matter whether you were reading yourself, or having someone read to you, in a time when books were scarce and expensive, and a lot of monastic meals were accompanied by a reading, to prevent too much chatter or brooding.

    So a lot of women’s involvement with literature was invisible. But whenever somebody does write a literary chronicle of their time, you see women’s names popping up in them.

    Also, people should remember that when you talk about “monks did this,” it generally also means “nuns did this” and “canonesses did this” and “religious sisters did this.” Charlemagne funded nuns copying books, just the same as the monks. Even Beatus of Liebana’s big Commentary on the Book of Revelation had some women illuminators working on the illustrations, in a time and place when there really weren’t any formal religious houses for women, and they were just living chaste and single at home. The female servant of God “Ende” did some awfully good art, in a book where you had to know the contents of the book to illustrate and color the pictures correctly.

  22. And Teresa d’Avila, who is a character and a half. I imagine she was a terror to her confessor, even if she did constantly play the, “of course, you are my confessor and I would never disagree with you,” card. (Right).

  23. Well, you all know me.

    If a woman says something, I simply ignore it, never think about it, and forget it as soon as possible.

    Edit: Some prior statements of mine have been brought to my attention. Apparently, the case could be made that I either do not know what a woman is, or I am extraordinarily bad at telling the difference between men and women.

    Allegedly. Supposing that my source is not fooling with me.

  24. Even before writing and without literacy, I expect women have always been more engaged with storytelling then men.
    “Mama! Tory!”
    That’s why.

    1. My sense of story was first formed by my grandmother, who told stories like she breathed. She just didn’t WRITE them, because school had taken the joy of writing out of her. It was all about penmanship and any writing had to be pious and didactic. So….

  25. “And by the way, I know a number of men who write women better than women do, and vice versa, because humans are ridiculous and complex.”

    OK, I’m not trying to pull anyone’s chain, but can you give me examples? I actually want to look at them and learn. Kind of like I asked a while back about female mean girl stuff. It really helps me.

    1. Well, most of them write romance and I am not enough of a fan to remember the pen names…. :/
      But Dan writes girls better than I do. Not hard, sine I couldn’t write girls at all for my first ten years of writing.

      1. Well, I assume Jane Austen is a good example of writing both men and women. Like Ornery Professor, I read her for the first time only about ten years ago. I finally read her only because my daughter and her friends were reading Pride and Prejudice. Before then, she was one of those “woman writers” who wrote “stupid romances”. Yeah, prejudiced much? But my daughter wasn’t a fool, so if she liked her, there must be something to it.

        So does Dan have something I can read?

            1. I did not read romances, either. My brother convinced me all were stupid. Then in my thirties Dave Freer convinced me to read Heyer.
              She does, incidentally, write men very well.
              Read the romances only. Or at least, if you try the mysteries and hate them don’t blame me. I don’t like them either.

          1. I have all of Heyer hidden away in a cupboard, but thought that instead of getting it out maybe I should get the Kindle version… But $9.99! Can’t quite bring myself to pay that much. I do like Venetia, too. Sigh… Dusty cupboard here I come.

                  1. Argh! I bought them at 9.99 each, because, well, it’s cheaper than a movie ticket. If only I’d known.

      2. I very rarely go “how much like a man/woman!” when I read anything. But I did read an otherwise unexceptional YA book last week that nailed high school boys. The heroine needed ten gallons of soy sauce. Her bestie, who tutored half the football team, asked them to help. They HEARD “we need to steal 10 gallons of soy sauce from the cafeteria”. They UNDERSTOOD “remove all condiments whatsoever from the cafeteria”. So the heroine desperately tries to clarify while the first three, in a “who can carry the most soy sauce” contest, careen past her with 14 gallons, tries to call them off as gallons 15-26, plus ketchup, go past, and gives up when the equipment manager trots past her with ranch dressing and a tub of barbeque sauce.

        I laughed for a long time. Just about every high school jock I’ve ever known was much more like that than like the YA jock stereotype.

        1. That strikes me as absolutely accurate. Very few writers capture just how competitive boys are. Very few women really get that men are as simple as they appear to be. My sister was going on about how women case a room to see who’s there, what they’re wearing, who they’re with and all the rest. I told her I walk in, see that no one is going to kill me imediately and then sit down, she said “you really are that simple, aren’t you?” Yup.

          1. “Women case a room to see… ”

            Whoa. I didn’t grow up as a tomboy, but based on that, I’m much more like a man than a woman.

              1. Subtle cues about how the other females relate to each other are hints about who may be about to try to screw you over while smiling to your face.

                typical male pattern violence and typical male pattern group behavior are different, so if boys are being boys, and girls are being girls, most men are going to have engrained different patterns of mental habits of threat assessment.

                Thing is, after all the woke crap, I have learned a bunch of ‘pay attention to little cues’ threat assessment.

                Anyway, some of the ‘safe space’ concept is related. There is a bunch of malformed social signalling going on, and various malicious manipulation games going on.

                1. My sister had this issue with a man at work. She kept missing the signs. I asked her, was he gay? She said closeted and then she had an aha moment. The guy was reacting more like a woman than a man and she was getting it wrong.

                  It’s this that tends to stick in my craw. I ask my wife, where have all the baritones and bass gone? Soy boi is a real thing. it would be better were they gay in fact rather than in affect.

    1. She wrote a lot of good stuff, but I wish I could have met her and hugged her neck for the books she wrote for Popular Mechanics Press, the “There’s Adventure in…” series. There’s Adventure in Chemistry is probably my favorite; from that I knew about valence when I was in the sixth grade. There was one for geology, electronics, jet aircraft, rockets, automobiles, atomic energy…and one that another author did on meteorology. I scoured ebay and got them all.

        1. Urgg…

          Well, given what I do for a living, I’m now contemplating another target! 🙂

  26. So, I just wrote up an essay on someone else’s blog, that touched on the totalitarian intolerance for people saying ‘no’, and how people saying ‘no’ can function as a sort of a safety mechanism in society.

    This is basically relevant to some of the ‘Russia is an extraordinarily bad predictor for the US’.

    My takeaway, thinking about how little leverage there is on Americans, emotional or otherwise, we still have a bunch of safety mechanism. Things are probably going to be bad, but we are not talking maximum bad.

      1. I’m probably a week out, at least, from cleaning up anything and sending it in as a guest post.

        Work si busy, due to a deadline. And, I’m back toa part of the work where I may be trying to do a lot of writing fast.

    1. My experience with Russians confirms this. I once had a long conversation with a Russian who kept asking me why the US government allowed Space X to happen. I couldn’t quite get him to understand that NASA had substantial numbers of people that had been doing everything they could to help Space X since the US government was so uninterested and inept in supporting space exploration.

      The US is all about We the People. Government is just a tool.

      Although with all the craziness lately I am reassuring myself that living in the new United States of Florida (lead by President DeSantis, and comprising most of the red states of the former United States) will be fine, probably the beginning of a new age of plenty and freedom.

      1. Government is indeed, a tool, and our federal government is “headed” by a bunch of tools.

  27. I guess I was never too interested in what authors looked like. When I saw a pic of Asimov I confess I was a little disappointed, but it was 20 years at least after he had written most of his famous stuff. I at that time learned what a lib-socialist he had become. I suppose a natural effect of years in the swill hole of academe. Eventually I forgave him. As far as the rest, Pohl or Card, I take’em as they come. I have been thinking about my pick for the author blurb coming up. Should I be my own hideous self? Or get some professional digital face paint? It’s a tough call

    1. Had become? Asimov was always a socialist. He was a Futurian at the time when the leading Futurians were banned from the first Worldcon for being too obviously tools of the Young Communist League.

  28. Dead white guys, BTW, are not “fungible”.

    For example, Milton Friedman > Joseph Stalin in many ways, not least in terms of people helped out of poverty.

    Choose carefully.

    1. Fungibility and rehypothecation in the same comment thread – that has nothing to do with finance. There is something odd about this blog.

      1. If you really think Fungible only applies to “money”, you may want to get your money back on that expensive but limited education you received… 😉

  29. a big claim that I or others like me didn’t want “women and minorities” to be published.

    Something always project mumble

  30. I knew Andre Norton was female because all the library catalog cards listed the name as “pseudonym: Alice Mary Norton.” Didn’t care. I would read Nancy Drew as readily as the Hardy Boys, except we had more of the latter. I liked Jane Austen bettet than Charles Dickens. I could not possibly care less about the pigmentation or plumbing of authors because as far as I can tell, that has nothing to do with whether they can tell a good story. Anyone who writes with their skin or reproductive parts is doing it wrong…

  31. White men? I certainly believe that dead white men have received a bad rap. I also believe that celebrating diversity for the sake of diversity is stupid! However, the cut line (for me) between really great literature and ho-hum reads is pre- and post- word processors. Before we had ‘cut and paste’ computers authors, by necessity, had to formulate ideas in their brains and then they had to scratch those thoughts on paper or bang them into an impact typewriter. Everything was more thoughtful then!

    1. Meh. Rather doubt it. Readers were different then, too. Now we’re competing with fast-moving entertainment, and we have to keep up. It’s the reason Jane Austen could not describe anything, and Tolkien could take forever to get to the point. Readers were more patient.
      We just have to learn to do the same quickly.
      The ONLY mark of “good literature” is “spans centuries and speaks to generations unborn when it was written.” You know, like that hack, Shakespeare. Attempting to declare something good literature before then is complete nonsense.

      1. I can have patience for very slow stuff, but when I first try something out that doesn’t have outside evidence in favor of it, I give up very quickly if it cannot show that it is a) interesting b) not vile.

        When you have one book, and replacement is not easy, your trade offs point to giving stuff a chance.

        My situation is very different from that, and hence my trade offs are very different.

  32. As for the demographics of an author, I never knew most of the time if an author was male or female, black or white. It wasn’t until the age of the internet that became prevalent.

    A.C. Crispin? C.J. Cherryh? D.C. Fontana? Who knew if they were male or female unless they intentionally went looking? None of the paperbacks I read made mention to their sex.

    I was in college before I found out Alexandre Dumas was black. Well, mulatto. What did I care? They were thrilling, wonderful, stories he wrote. That was all I was looking for.

  33. It’s just Marxists erasing History. They do it to anyone who stands in their way – Chinese, Cambodian, Russian, Vietnamese – the race does not matter. All that matters is rewriting History so nothing exists but the State.

    1. I have seen shrieking about genocidal treatment of trans. Leaving aside the hysteria, they have erased their own definition, intended to exclude the crimes of the USSR.

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