Grown Up Matters

There is a saying “Personal isn’t the same thing as important” which goes with a certain type of character. It’s not right, but it illustrates the type of character who is utterly devoted to something to the exclusion of self beautifully.

In the same way, there should be a saying that “important isn’t the same thing as political” because it’s true, and because thinking it is drives me bonkers and also prevents any grown up conversations which actually do need to happen, in favor of shouting slogans in our faces and treating us as evil when we reject them.

Look, the right also politicizes things it shouldn’t. For instance, I found out that A Few Good Men is woke, and that only the gay characters are good people from the right. Who obviously were reading a book hetched inside their eyelids, after they closed their eyes not to read the real book. Because in the book the characters are gay partly to illustrate how any totalitarian regime treats minorities, and partly because it’s a minority and oft despise characteristic, but one that can be hidden, which then connects with the whole hidden stuff. Also makes Luce’s story plausible without giving him some kind of degenerative disease. (And no, I didn’t think of that when I started it. That’s not how the writing works. I just knew what it was. But as the book unrolled, it became pretty obvious.)

However we do that partly in reaction to the left making everything political and chasing us everywhere, from work place to hobbies screaming slogans and telling us we’re awful if we disagree.

But — It’s not right. And it’s hurting us. By us in this case I mean humanity and civilization.

This started because one of you posted something on literary criticism using the old “the curtains are blue” comment, on discord.

Now, I’m not outing her. She can if she wishes, but she seemed to think the original poster (I think a tweet) had a point, in that writers are trying to say or do something by specifying the color of the curtains even if they’re not doing it consciously.

I started rolling my eyes, and then the sapient pearwood soap box got under my feet when I got to the point where this tweet-er informed us that people who said that science fiction and comics didn’t use to be political are just stupid because it was always political, and people who thought it wasn’t just thought it was kid stuff.

At this point, I had a fine growl growing in the back of my throat consisting of “This is not how any of that works!” and my hand was actively seeking the axes given to me by the Minotaur (Thanks Ox!)

Because…. well, that’s not how any of that works.

The beginning with “but the critic has a point, otherwise the writer wouldn’t have put in any color at all” or whatever was merely stupid. Not actively poisonous, but short-bus special.

You put in details like the color of the curtains, because they build realism in the readers’ mind. If you just have something vague and fluffy like “the room had drapes” the scene will feel insubstantial and blah.

Look, it’s a fine dance and part of the craft of my profession to give just enough detail for the story to feel like it really happened while not spending your entire time describing the weave on the rug under feet. Depending on the importance of the room and the decor for the story, you might get away with “there were multicolored curtains on the windows” but if you’re trying to illustrate the character’s taste, or the particular world culture, it might be “There were bright pink curtains on the window. Interesting choice.”

So, does that mean the curtains’ color is deeply meaningful and blue curtains symbolize the open sky or possibly the Virgin Mary? (One of my idiot professors was obsessed with blue being the Virgin Mary. Weird for an atheist.)

Oh, heck no. And thinking it does is short-bus special.

It can mean that, or whatever if you are you know writing literature-class bait. But literature class bait is a genre to itself, and you have to start by assuming no one will read it if not assigned. (But lots of people will lie about reading it)

However, in your normal average book (or above average book) written by your normal average writer, who wants to be read, sure, the blue means something, most of the time (not always. Sometimes you just drop it in to add some realism.) But what it means is that the room is restful, or that the room was decorated by someone color blind, because all the colors clash. Or the character likes blue, so later on when everything in a room is red you know it’s not his/her room. Whatever. But it’s usually not some kind of deep symbolism.

In fact, figuring out how to get stuff like the curtain colors to do work with the character and the plot was pretty difficult for someone like me who had studied literary analysis, and kept thinking I had to put symbolism in it, and thereby bollixing the entire proper signaling of the color.

It can also have deep symbolism, of course, but if it does the writer doesn’t know it, and I challenge the critic to figure it out.

You see, each of us has a deeply-inlaid set of significants in our mind that are often completely unique to us. Say, for instance, you once had a vacation and stayed in a completely white room when you were like two, so for you it means rest and fun.

This is why criticism, back before Marx fouled the waters (more on that later) involved spending a lot of time deep diving into the author’s life.

It’s nonsense, you know? SOMETIMES you can get somethings from the story that tell you about the writer’s life and knowledge — like Shakespeare was obviously (eh) shaky on geography and at least in the beginning had not a single clue what went on in royal circles — but at the level of “why are the curtains blue” unless the writer left a long log of letters or a day by day diary and one of them mentions that the curtains in his mom’s room were blue, it’s also nonsense and often pseudo-Freudian nonsense at that. (As though real Freudian weren’t bad enough.)

So, you know, that was my first point of getting really upset at the post.

But the growling and trying to get axes point was the “This is so wrong, it’s not even wrong” idea that sf/f and comics were “always political.” and PARTICULARLY the bizarre, head up colon idea that if something doesn’t have politics it is (or we think it is) “kid’s stuff.”

What the actual blue curtained hells of the overlords of the fucked up universities of Marxiana is going on in this special snowflake’s scrambled sheep brains? (The original poster, not the person who echoed it, I think, because she didn’t suffer through literary criticism in University or try to have a writing career in the early oughts, so superficially it sounded okay to her.)

Look, first, first, on the less wrong point “Science fiction and comics were always political.”

True, although until the last ten years or so, only the clumsy ones done by exceptionally stupid authors were clumsily political.

Now what those politics were say in the tens or twenties might have given the snowflake the shock of his insular life. Most of the books from the twenties or even tens, particularly the ones written by self-proclaimed socialists had some reference to racial hygiene or eugenics. GLOWINGLY approving references.

After WWII, of course, those went away, but also Marxism became super-trendy and oozes from any analysis.

Now, the question is: were these novels (and comics) political because they wanted to be political, or because they came from the author’s assumptions?

Waggles hand. SOME of them. I’m sure this snow flake, if interrogated (I favor the iron maiden for this) would burp something to the extent that of course the books and comics were socialist because that’s only smart. And only smart people write books.

The fact, though, is that there was a filtering system back then: from at least the forties, and probably to an extent before (and through a process I don’t have time to go into) a lot of the publishing world was controlled by Marxists. Therefore, if you wanted to break in and be considered “serious” you had to have Marxist talking points, or at least the occasional genuflection towards the Marxist revelation.

You can tell how serious an author is about it by how much they intrude in the story, or whether they’re just the occasional throw away line.

This only solidified throughout the rest of the 20th century, as universities basically became wholly Marxist, and therefore Marxism became identified as “being smart” so that if you wanted buzz, and good reviews and your editor to take you seriously and give you push, you had to have some in.

Thing is: in the good books (which mostly weren’t taken seriously or got any push) the stuff either was woven skillfully into the assumptions of the story, so you might hate the ideas, but you enjoyed the story nonetheless,(sometimes, honestly because it didn’t say what the author or particularly the editor thought it did) OR they were the occasional sentence or phrase dropped in, and you shrugged and went on.

With indie, it’s different. We mostly write for the story. Yeah, okay, there is a political substratum to a lot of my novels, but it’s not because they’re political. Or at least they’re not political in the manichean sense.

Note this is where the critique of AFGM by the “I iz offended” right went astray, because they assumed that “Gay means woke.” and “Gay means that hetero is devalued.” There is a word for this….. give me a minute…. oh, yeah imbecilic.

It’s also called “Playing the game on the left’s terms.” Because that’s how the left “thinks” for lack of a better term.

Politics for Marxism, at least since WWI showed that the workers of the world WOULDN’T unite, and in fact were pretty nationalistic, thank you so much, has been a game of “finding causes” and “finding peons” to use as cannon fodder to destroy capitalism, so that, according to their ignorant, grifter prophet, paradise will arise from the ashes.

So, you know, they view politics as sort of a complex game of claiming “chips”. The race chip, the woman chip, the third world illiterate peasant chip, the gay chip, and recently the transsexual chip. They pick these chips and wave them around like a Catholic sprinkling holy water, to prove they have the right think and are okay with holy Marx.

We don’t have to play the game the way they play it. Even more importantly we shouldn’t.

Which brings us to the depths of stupid, a well so deep that you can’t see a glimmer of light from above.

Keeping in mind that “politics” for the left is signaling “I stand with correct thing in the correct way today”, you come across the casually dropped thing that — projection — we think science fiction and comics were for “kids” before, because they didn’t have politics.

So, you know, something doesn’t have the correct signaling, it’s stupid and for kids. Again this comes from THEIR belief that intelligence equals belief in Marx. So, to be intelligent and for adults, you need to put in the chips in the correct way to signal “I stand with the correct thing in the correct way” which makes you smart and grown up.

Or, you know, a brain-washed useful idiot, who can’t think. It’s one or the other, and if you read any of these people’s pride and joy, you know which one it is. Which is why the left can’t create, just like they can’t meme.

The problem with this is that “politics as the left understands them” does not belong in books. (There is a question of it belongs anywhere.)

It particularly doesn’t belong in science fiction books.


Because science fiction books should be for grown ups — note I don’t say “adults” which means something different. Heinlein wasn’t wrong when he said he wrote for teenagers, because teenagers were grappling with the big questions. He missed that a certain type of mind grapples with those their entire life, in an effort to understand, and those people are grown up but not ossified — and they should take on the big questions.

In many ways we live in a science fiction world. Not because all the big questions have been answered (they haven’t. And using that excuse for sf not selling is the bullsh*t publishers pulled in the early oughts) but because they haven’t, and because tech is impacting our life every day at an extremely personal level.

Now, take the transsexual question (Please. I don’t want it.) Sex change isn’t actually possible with the tech we have. What you can do is mutilate someone to look like the opposite sex. In extreme disphoria cases this is psychologically helpful, but in most cases it is just castrating/sterilizing someone while lying to them about what you did, or how close a solution is. There are also troubling cases of “cluster decision” and “infection” which are the result of social media, which is tech hitting our lives. And these cases are poorly understood by medical providers who by and large didn’t grow up with social media. Fine.

There are lies about it being possible some day soon. It might be possible, but not someday soon. And mostly likely only possible if done at the gene manipulation level, so you’re born the other way anyway, which means no help for the dysphoric.

I happen to be writing a book series which deals with a modified-humans hermaphrodite species. I full expect the right-who-is-fightin-with-lefty-chips to decide I’ve gone woke. I also fully decide the left to hate it, because the books I wrote set in this world in my twenties sent them raving insane.

So, why am I doing this? Um…. mostly because at fourteen I read The Left Hand of Darkness and went “This is not how any of that works, and did you read about hermaphrodite species in our world? Or study how humans acquired “roles” without injecting feminist narrative?” And then I went to bed and woke with this world in my head.

I tried to do a run at it at 20 and it … I didn’t know enough of HOW to write, and knew too much about the world, so it made no sense to people. However, interestingly the publishers’ problem with the world was that I called hermaphrodites “he.” There was a reason for this, yes. And it came from a bunch of biological and psychological extrapolation. In the early nineties, I was told a house would publish it if I changed the pronouns. I didn’t because it conveyed the wrong image.

Anyway, yesterday while talking to people in my fan group I half jokingly said it explores deep set questions of human sex, gender identification and orientation.

Half joking, because I was trying to sound like a lefty literary critic. But the thing is it is — or I hope it is — actually true. It explores things like: if we could completely change children pre-birth would some people do it? Would people do it expecting their kids would thereby be truly equal? Would they do it because they think they’re curing women of the burdens nature landed on them?

And then the other questions — which require a lot of studying the biology of apes. No really — which secondary characteristics are needed, and which are decoration and evolutionarily selected because pretty?

And always most importantly: How would it actually turn out in reality, and what price would you pay?

One of the prices my people in this world pay is sky-high child mortality because their design necessitates extremely “premature” kids who, though more equipped for survival than our premature babies are still tiny and very fragile, in a barbaric society. (Another price they paid came from their creators trying to start them out tabula rasa, with none of human history or culture AND a synthetic language.) Another price is that grouping together is not natural, partnership is not natural and marriage is not natural.

Is any of this written in stone? No, I’m exploring it with my understanding of it. Including a lot of articles I read that said family and band formation in early humans came from women being relatively helpless in later pregnancy.

Am I “right?” Well…. I don’t know. I know I’m writing entertaining stories from the premises and hopefully they will get people to ACTUALLY think and dig into issues of gender/sex/orientation.

Because since the pill sliced those issues off “reproduction” we’ve been scrambling. And while we can’t create viable hermaphrodites and might never be able to, or at least not for millennia, these issues are always going to matter to society.

So, you know, first I’m writing what I hope is an enormously entertaining adventure, making my characters people you empathize with despite everything, and getting this world that’s been in my head for 46 years out of it before I die.

Second, if it can make people think, and question things — not just the orthodoxy but all the Marxist chips being waved around — and start actually talking and exploring the questions, I’d like that. Because it’s needed before we come up with real genetic engineering and artificial wombs and stuff.

But that’s it.

It’s not “political” in the way of saying “I support the current thing” and it’s definitely not (I hope!) for kids, though it has no explicit sex, and teens might find it interesting, who knows? I wouldn’t have let my teens read it without telling them to come and talk to me after, but I was always more close-supervising than most parents.

Saying that if a book doesn’t have political slogans and “I support the current thing” is for kids, is bizarre and bizarrely stupid.

And thinking that the politics in science fiction are what made it good is also bizarre and bizarrely stupid. Often the questions it raised had nothing to do with the occasional slogan the author threw in, or even the author’s incidental obsessions.

When everything is political, nothing is. We need spaces where “I support the current thing” isn’t demanded and where we can explore the really complex and difficult questions without someone reeeing in our faces.

And I think that’s what we’ve been saying for a while.

And in my case also trying to walk the walk.

That’s all.

132 thoughts on “Grown Up Matters

  1. One interesting fact about Mussolini, that Lefties ignore, is that he began as a Socialist leader in Italy.

    He realized that the Italian people didn’t like the “Internationist” aspect of Socialism. IE They were more interested in supporting Italy than supporting their “fellow workers” elsewhere.

    So he started his “Fascist” party which supported much of what Socialism supported but was strongly Pro-Italy.

    Oh, it was “funny” reading the Wiki “definition” of Fascism. There was so much that reflected “Values Of Socialism”. 😈

    1. A few years ago, there was a young Liberal on Baen’s Bar (Politics conference) who was asked “What is the Difference between a Fascist State and a Communist State”.

      Basically, his only answer was that the Communist government “claimed” to do what’s best for the People while the Fascist government “claimed” to do what’s best for the State.

      IMO the Fascist government was more honest than the Communist government. 😈

      1. > “What is the Difference between a Fascist State and a Communist State”

        I found an amusing basic primer on various economic systems and business climates:

    2. H-tler was a socialist, they were all socialists. The only question was who and whom. Mussolini, Franco, Salazar, Peron, and all that crowd wanted socialism based on the nation, Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky, and all that crowd wanted a socialism based on class, H-tler and all that crowd wanted a socialism based on race.

      Stalin and H-tler were agreed that they could have socialism if only those d-mned Jooos and Kulaks could be eliminated, then they would all live happily ever after.

      Scratch a sociAlist, find a killer, it’s just a question of when in the process it can be done and which group in particular it can be done to,

        1. Well, duh. The only reason the Nazis didn’t call Jews Nazis was that Nazi was not a perojative yet.

  2. To paraphrase one of your questions, if People could become God, would they? Well, obviously yes, as evidenced by what’s going on. This, of course, is dependent on whether or not we have/had a creator. I’ve been raised religiously to believe we do. Also, I’ve read scientific books that argue that we do. Our DNA, for instance, is like a ‘CPU,’ a central processing unit, and it ‘reads’ the codes. This is a big reason I will NOT take any of gubmint’s new rDNA ‘vaccines. They’re effing with the creator’s design, our DNA. Used to be that vaccines were simply a tiny dollop of whatever is out there killing people, enabling the vaccinated to develop immunity. Now they’re messing with our code.

    “grouping together is not natural, partnership is not natural and marriage is not natural.” Well, it is and it isn’t. It’s like socialism vs free marketeering. Both ways of living and we can choose either or bits and pieces of either. However, something I find interesting… It seems, that ‘God’ or gods, instituted, or certainly found better, marriage. Also, marriage showed up when ‘civilization’ developed, along with grain storage, taxes, law (codified), etc.

    So, I think that marriage, singledom, and a lot of other things are ‘natural,’ as they’re performed by humans. Whether they’re ‘moral’ is another thing. And also, imo, everything changes (or should) when there are children involved or in the house.

    Good one, lots of food for thought.

      1. Okay, maybe natural is not the right word. Grouping together, partnership, and marriage are choices made by sentient human beings. As such, how can they not be natural. Or are you saying that in the current cockamamie world we live in, they’re not natural?

            1. Thank you for putting your foot in it and getting it stomped before I got here… 😉

              Saved me a good carping.

    1. She’s talking about a world that is made to not be like the real world, in those three ways.

      Pretty standard issue scifi mind problem. “The thing you crazy guys say works, doesn’t…what would it take to make it work? And how would it look?”

          1. Yes! It is! And the people are so human and the culture so alienated from human history.

            It’s really an awesome science fiction world.

  3. If you just have something vague and fluffy like “the room had drapes” the scene will feel insubstantial and blah.

    And the critics will come up with some “deeper meaning” for that anyway.

      1. “The absence of description shows the meaninglessness and enui of middle-class existence, and the futility of the character’s materialistic obsession with furnishings and fabrics.”

        1. Perfect.

          Actually the meme was a thread, with someone making the point that sometimes the curtains are blue, and sometimes there’s symbolism involved and you have to learn to judge it and also what the symbolism was, because blue could mean a lot of things.

          1. Usually when there is symbolism involved, it will be repeated, which does help you recognize and assign it meaning. But it’s specific to each story, not something that can be extrapolated to other stories.

            Which I think was also something brought up in the thread. The specificity, I mean, not necessarily the repetition of theme.

        2. Well, if you want to be bludgeoned and buried by description, I can recommend the works of S.S. van Dine.

          Of course, Our Marxist Friends will find other things to grouse about in any world containing Philo Vance. Mainly Philo Vance.

          1. Oh, yes.
            I have half a dozen Philo Vance mysteries. I realize that, “the cold, rational, flippant character who makes an excellent suspect is always innocent,” theme is part of the formula, but oh, well.
            Ellery Queen started out as a clone of Vance, but the authors went in different directions.

    1. To steal a (likely apocryphal) Sigmund Freud quote ” Sometimes a Cigar is Just a Cigar”. Sometimes the action and symbolism is hit you over the head clear like when in Melville’s Billy Budd the protagonist is strung out on a yardarm and says something to the effect of “I forgive them Captain they don’t know what they’re doing” a clear reference to Jesus and crucifixion. Sometimes it is just not there nor meant to be e.g. J.R.R. Tolkien repeatedly made it clear that the War of the Rings was NOT a proxy for WWII even though people kept analyzing it in that fashion.

    2. Critics being the operative word. With few exceptions it’s the critics over analyzing and sucking the life out of whatever they’re analyzing,

      Those who cannot do, teach. Those who cannot teach, teach Gym. Those who cannot teach Gym, become Marxist English professors.

    3. Oh lawd, that reminds of an “incident” in my Senior Seminar back in College.

      So, all of us writing majors had to take Senior Seminar where we would produce our Senior Project instead of writing a thesis. We were supposed to submit 4-6 pages of material a week on a topic of our choosing. Fiction, nonfiction, poetry, whatever we wanted. So me being me, I decided to write an action thriller novel.

      Unfortunately for me and everyone else in the class, the prof was an academic airhead who was perpetually “out to lunch.” Total hippy-dippy type. She was supposed to provide feedback on our work, but unless you were writing in the style of Mary Oliver and/or Anne Lamott (her two favorite authors), the only feedback you would get from her was some variation of “I don’t understand what this means” or “I don’t understand what you are trying to say. here.”

      So one week I submit a big action scene that includes a Russian private military contractor getting blown to bits by a grenade. The exact passage was, “Forst seized the fist-sized explosive, lobbed it back towards the door, and dove behind the desk as another Russian appeared in the doorway and started shooting. The grenade landed between his feet and exploded, splattering the unfortunately Russian all over the ceiling.”

      So every week, the prof would pick some of us students and ask that we read aloud what we submitted the week before. And the week after I submitted the action scene, she picked me. For some bizarre reason, she loved the “colorful, descriptive” language I had used and wanted me to explain “what the passage about the grenade meant.” I knew what she meant and what she wanted me to say, but I didn’t want to outright say “it doesn’t mean anything” because she would get angry (or what passed for angry in her emotional lexicon) and argue with me. So the conversation went something like this:

      “Uh… it means that the Russian mercenary got blown up.”

      “No no no, what does it mean?”

      “Uh… it means that Ivan had very bad day?”

      “No, no, what does it mean?”

      “Ivan go bye-bye?”

      “No, tell us what it really means!”

      Back and forth like that about a half-dozen times before she FINALLY caught on, dropped it, and moved onto the next unfortunate student.

      Thank God we were only graded on attendance, the amount of material we submitted, and our “literary journals.” (which is a rant for another day, but to a student we freaking despised those stupid “journals!”)

    4. One of Isaac Asimov’s many essays recounted an encounter with the Lit-Crit types, who were explaining the deep symbolism/deeper meaning of his works. As I recall, he tried and failed to convince them that he was writing Entertainment.

      I don’t think he had much use for the Lit-Crit creatures.

      1. The one of his I remember is when he was a student and heard a liberal arts (English?) professor make a disparaging remark about “those mathematicians who believe in fantasies like the square root of -1”. Being somewhat of a smartass, he asked the prof to hand him half a piece of chalk. Whe the prof broke a standard piece in half and handed it to him with a smirk, he said “No, you handed me a piece of chalk. I asked for half a piece”. When the prof said he thought Isaac meant half a standard piece Isaac said that someone who was a bit fuzzy on the meaning of one-half probably wasn’t qualified to discuss the square root of -1. and was rewarded with an order to “get the hell out of my classroom!”. 🙂

        Isaac could be a PITA, but he didn’t suffer arrogant fools at all.

    5. The formulation I prefer is that specifying the color of the drapes is “Merely corroborative detail, intended to give artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative.”

  4. If I recall correctly, one of the stories in Milo Y’s edited short story collection about “If things continue” had parents able to send kids back to have their apparent sex, personality, and appearance changed almost on a whim. It was from the kid’s point of view, and was a pure horror story. Because if memory serves, the earlier experiences leaked through all the chemicals and conditioning. The boy liked being a boy and didn’t want to be made into a girl again. He was genetically male and his parents couldn’t quite decide which they liked better, boy or girl.

    All the stories in that collection were grim, and a bit too good at extrapolating the worst of the Politcaly Correct movement.

  5. For the carpenter with a hammer every problem’s a nail. For the Woke, be they in media, academia, the Washington arena or the local bar every problem’s political wrongthink.

    Politics in writing back in the day? Maybe so but way back then politics didn’t affect me none, not most anybody else. Scifi & fantasy; Sturgeon’s Killdozer, Bradbury’s October County, Hemingway’s The Old Man And The Sea, I remember then only as rollicking good tales, not as manifestos.

    Oh, you say Old Man’s not in the genre? I suspect most youngsters, if they read it today, would view it as unbelievable fantasy.

    1. Include anything by Kornbluth or by the Pohl/Kornbluth collaboration. “The Syndic” was definitely political, and is one of my favorites. “Drunkard’s Walk” and “Gladiator At Law” were not political, and ditto. They just wrote good stories.

  6. “I support the current thing” always makes the overall situation worse and is usually based on a deep lie wrapped in shiny emotional paper by the Left/PTB. Climate change, “green energy”, social justice, racial equity, “gender”, and recent world conflicts. Same thing happened in media, mainstream literary science fiction was a obvious first victim.

    There’s always been great science fiction that asked “really complex and difficult questions” with an engaging story, maybe a touch of political without beating the reader over the head with the current thing. I blame reading many of these works for making me question authority, because they posed questions that couldn’t easily be answered.

    And now I live in a world where trusting authority is fatal, so by reinforcing my curious, questioning nature, reading fiction and nonfiction has probably saved my life. (I’d like to thank the legions

    As for the transsexual issues, I really don’t need to be hammered over the head with them in my entertainment. I’m not reading porn or non-cis-romances, my entertainment is usually escaping from the “current-thing”.

    I find the overpromotion of transsexuals in society as a symptom of the final decline of the US empire, being pushed by those seeking to destroy. I think many people think it’s a gender fashion trend like tattoos have become over the last couple of decades.

    I’ve worked with several transsexuals in my programming career before it became popular like body ink. Almost of of these folks were on the spectrum, their genius and sexuality came with what ever else made them different. Only a few were “political”, the rest just want to be.

    I don’t know how many of the current trans-folk really are functional trans, mental ill or just following the fashion. It’s not a question that will be answered, since it’s “the current thing”. And it’s really not pertinent to my entertainment. But pushing it on kids is pure evil.

    1. Not the US final decline. And we were never an empire. If you think you’re an empire you don’t understand “empire.”
      It’s the final decline of Marxism, latching onto a crazy issue to cause as much damage as possible.
      Largely agree with you on transsexual issues, and AGAIN this is not what the book I’m writing is about. Which was kind of the point I was making “Gee, I hope the right doesn’t latch onto humans as hermaphrodites and decide that’s what I’m talking about.”
      Did I ACTUALLY write this post in Mandarin Chinese?

      1. No, the post is perfectly cromulent in English it’s just…

        I don’t know about anyone else, but due to the Wokeness infesting entertainment, even hints of the gay and the trans stuff in stories makes me flinchy. An author starts introducing the possibility of either one, and I start dreading exactly when they’ll go full woke – and sometimes full porn – with it.

        And yeah, I know – intellectually – that you are not that kind of author. I haven’t read enough of your stuff to trust that knowledge. And there’s only one other author that I do trust that way.

        So it’s not that what you are saying isn’t understandable, it’s that wokeness traumatizes readers. That’s the reader’s problem to deal with, of course. It’s entirely possible, even likely, that I and other similar readers are over-sensitive, and there’s not really anything that authors can do about that.

        But, because of that non-woke authors will get the blowback from that when they write adjacent to issues the Woke have declared their own.

        Though for what it’s worth, your hermaphrodite world does look like an intriguing and legit intellectually rigorous take on the matter.

        1. I understand the trauma. But this is NOT trans. It’s a subspecies that is created as an hermaphroditic species, so it’s “peaceful and communitarian and–“…. it doesn’t work that way.
          I was saying that some idiots will interpret it as trans or “gender non binary” — it is not.

            1. In me, it’s come to frequently provoke a “Oh, crap, not this garbage again!” reaction, especially if it seems to be the raison d’etre of the story. It also puts the author in my “avoid” list, especially if I have no experience with that author.

              1. If the character being gay is a major part of the story, then for F- sake, give me Vanyel Ashkevron!

        2. This. I too just cringe from the LGBTWTFBBQ stuff because it usually means a lecture in my entertainment.

      2. I found it confusing but mainly when you started trying to explain the how the left thinks. I still don’t understand that.

        1. Maybe that’s because explaining how the left thinks is similar to explaining how sharks fly? 🙂

            1. Yeah, I get stuck on the fact that sharks can’t fly meanwhile the left is arguing that supporting great white sharks in the aerial olympics is racist.

                1. I saw a comment that the Great White is being renamed the Average Caucasian. All the “Offendeds” doncha know…

      3. > “And we were never an empire.”

        We essentially were under Lincoln. Razorfist finally put out that video on Ol’ “Honest” Abe he’s been threatening to make, and… Holy Hell. I knew enough to consider Lincoln an evil man and a tyrant, but I had still had no idea just how bad it was.

        See for yourself (warning: it’s over an hour):

      4. “And we were never an empire.”
        Perhaps some people use “empire” to label any country which is not a nation in the old European sense of a mono-ethnic, mono-cultural entity. America isn’t that, but it isn’t an empire either. But I’m too sleepy to rack my brains for a better term.

  7. :sympathetic grimace:

    Pretty sure it was Tumblr, and pretty sure I know the EXACT tone and logic… ah… gaps.

    There’s some fun stuff on Tumblr, there’s some good stuff on tumblr, there’s some “oh my goodness, sweetie, have a nice cup of tea, sit down and listen to something outside of theories for a bit, hm?”

    (And that’s in Sturgeon’s 10%.)

  8. (Posting this while only halfway through reading the post.)

    I’m willing to go so far as to accept that there is deep, archetypal symbolism that people just use naturally, while mostly unaware of it.

    For example, I had a class on SF in uni, and the prof sold me on the climax of Frankenstein being fraught with symbolism — it takes place in a ship caught in arctic ice, the ice representing barrenness or infertility, displaying viscerally the different problems that both Victor and the monster had — while not convincing me that eighteen year old Mary Shelley consciously intended it quite that way. Maybe she meant it consciously, or maybe she used the barren arctic wastes simply because it felt right. Either way, the symbolism absolutely works.

    But whenever I get high on my own supply, I try to remind myself of Poul Anderson’s magnificent (and hilarious) short story, “The Critique of Impure Reason”, in which a robot is convinced to give up literary claptrap by reading a literary critique of what the reader knows, but the robot does not, is barely-updated ancient pulp sci-fi, and is inspired to take on the task it was designed for, but which he had haughtily disdained in the face of the “higher purpose” of literary pursuits, the ennui and despair of “the human condition”.

    I don’t have it to hand, but the portion I’m remembering just now is part of the critique, when the hero is trapped “in a collapsed cave, which is so much more than the obvious womb/tomb, symbolically.”

  9. Re comics and politics, my son gave me a 50-year retrospective on the Teen Titans. Oh, my, the early stories were cringingly, embarrassingly trying to be “hip,” and “relate to the young people.” The latest rounds are heavily into social justice, environmental issues, etc. The best section was in the 80s, when writer and artist actually wanted to tell stories. Were they melodramatic? Yes. But they were fun. And interesting to read Wolfman’s description of deliberately building characters to bounce off one another.

      1. Geniuses and very professional. I still have a large box of those comics.
        DC had a couple of good series about that time.

        1. I sort of came on after the line-wide reboot caused by Crisis on Infinite Earths. I’ll take the DeMatteis/Maguire run on Justice League over just about anything else, at any time, myself. 🙂

      2. I’d say Marv Wolfman was incredibly underated. His run on Tomb of Dracula was phenomenal and his style culminated in that Teen Titans run.

        1. I mean, he’s the writer that DC said “we need to unfuck fifty years of continuity, can you do that for us?” to. Maybe he’s underrated now, but at the time? Not many comics writers were more highly regarded.

          1. That’s what I mean. Today, totally underrated. Same as Steve Gerber, who was a mad genius of satire, under-rated due to Lucas doing a butchered job on his stellar satirical comic.

            1. Gerber, when I finally got around to reading his original runs, struck me as of his time, and a bit overrated in retrospect. (Note: I literally mean only a bit.) Of course, his… trying to think of a kind way of putting this… tendency to be a prima donna at the expense of other people around him… colors my view of him, too. (I mean, seriously, “You can write Howard the Duck again, but please don’t do anything to insult the writers who wrote him in the interim” is NOT an outrageous condition; and yet, he just couldn’t stop himself, for whatever reason.)

              1. As a kid reading them as they came out, his run in the Defenders was incredibly fresh and bizarre. Not 60’s DC bizarre, but sharp satire, ‘maybe we’re all bozos’. As for his problems, highly recommend “Marvel Comics: the Untold Story” for how really screwed over Gerber and other creatives were in the late 70’s. I only caught bits and pieces from the Comics Journal. Work for Hire was a vicious trap which squeezed out creativity and making all the IP owned by the company. The story in that book about what the creator of the original Human Torch did after Marvel stabbed him in the back, his heartbreaking to another creative. (They dangled giving the IP back to him, then renewed under the wire. The creator took all his originals out in the backyard and burned them.)

                1. I read it, and have problems with Howe’s biases in that exact period of Marvel. It’s an important and indispensible book, but his coverage of Jim Shooter’s editorship in particular is deeply flawed.

                  For instance, blaming the work for hire situation on Marvel, or the comics industry in general, is just ignorant. Before 1 January 1978, it was impossible to run the comics business in any other way due to the way copyright law operated. And as I recall, his presentation of the changeover (due to a 1976 law that took effect in ’78) is assumptive, “this is the way we think it should work now, so why didn’t they change to what we think now instantly?” sort of. I’d have to reread it to be more specific, but there are things he definitely fails to take into account.

                  Most everybody else in the industry managed to act with reasonable professionalism. Gerber, at certain points, did not. Did he get screwed? Arguable. He certainly thought he did. That doesn’t excuse him retconning other writers’ work in deliberately insulting ways.

          1. Considering how much money Hollywood throws around, probably more. Unless Hollywood wants to screw the creator, the money is very good. Sadly that’s why Neal Adams disappeared from comics. He was paid more to do storyboards for Hollywood.

    1. > “And interesting to read Wolfman’s description of deliberately building characters to bounce off one another.”

      While I’m not particularly interested in the Teen Titans, I’d like to read about this part. Do you have a link, perchance?

  10. Science fiction being about politics seems often to have been the case in the Soviet Union, where the imagined world provided a way of saying things about politics that the censors there might not perceive as political. But for a long time American writers had less need to evade censorship, and thus less need to use science fiction for that purpose.

  11. Look, first, first, on the less wrong point “Science fiction and comics were always political.”

    Carefully avoided by BlueCurtain:
    Having a political perspective, and injecting political activism, are not the same thing.
    You’d think they have no grasp of cultural differences or something…. (Especially when, as you point out, they’re sacrificing the story for perspective, which is bad activism on top of it all.)

    1. Also, having a political perspective as part of general acculturation, that echoes the political perspectives and cultural allusions seen elsewhere is not the same thing as consciously trying to create a specific political reaction different from or in opposition to the prevailing culture. Very especially when, as is pointed out continually to these yahoos, said message is prioritized over actual storytelling in the media in question. People would read Heinlein and group marriage and the craziness of Stranger because it was wrapped in the shell of story. It wasn’t “and this transgressive identity that is the only interesting thing about this character is why you should care about him.”

      1. There’s usually an element of DARVO, too, because they got swatted for dragging politics in as The Subject and want to argue that because someone said something that wasn’t their own politics, then it’s already political so it’s not FAIR for them to not get to be activists.

        Of course, this is matched up with the “how dare you object to my politics, you’re making trouble, you terrible person.

        See also, the “We’re turning this red-head into a black character. LOL, you’re so stupid to be upset about us changing an imaginary character, they’re NOT REAL” nonsense.

        If it was either as universal or as unimportant as they say, then they’d behave differently….

  12. OK, so, I should write on this at greater length at my Locals, but part of the problem that gave rise to all of this “all science fiction has a MESSAGE!!!!” was Rod Serling.

    I’m a Rod Serling fanboy. The man was a freaking amazing writer. And one of the things that made him so amazing was that he could take simplistic, utterly hackish tropes, write totally into the audience’s expectations, do it better than anyone else could, and then find the reality underneath the trope and shock everybody with it. And he did it over and over again, starting with his career scripting live television dramas.

    But Serling famously and publicly tangled with network and sponsor “censorship” over some of his live dramas. Serling had opinions on the politics of the day, not least of which was his hatred of racism, and he wrote dramas that expressed his opinions. He tried to do a fictionalization of the death of Emmett Till, called “A Town Has Turned To Dust”. The network and sponsors forced him to change everything about the story except the central lynching, changing the setting to the southwest in the 1800s, the races of the characters to white and Mexican, and so on.

    After getting a number of scripts mangled, and losing other fights with the network, Serling moved from New York to Los Angeles and launched a fantasy series that would have “nothing” to do with current politics, so the network and sponsors would not bother him — The Twilight Zone.

    Of course, TZ had political and philosophical subtext all over the place, from polemics against McCarthyism (“The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street”) to jeremiads against totalitarian conformity and groupthink (“Eye of the Beholder”, “The Obsolete Man”).

    The way Serling is remembered and beatified on the left is not that he was a brilliant writer who happened to get messages out to the public at large, it’s that he was a brilliant propagandist who tricked the suits and the racists and got MESSAGES out to the public at large. The talent and the trenchant writing are treated as insigificant, or just assumed to be a baseline, and the insertion of MESSAGE into “mere entertainment” is lauded to this very day.

    And now, sweet summer children who have never heard of Serling, and maybe have heard of the Twilight Zone in passing, have taken in with mother’s milk the idea that to be Important, Science Fiction must have a MESSAGE that will turn the rubes and morons in flyover country into Better People. You know, people just like them and their blue-haired harpy professors.

    1. He did his art so freaking well that I never caught on that he had messages in his science fiction.

  13. Foxfier said:
    Having a political perspective, and injecting political activism, are not the same thing.

    Hear!!! Hear!!!

    Sometimes an author INTENTIONALLY writes something political to make a point. Taking the local author of choice one Robert Anson Heinlein we have “Starship Troopers” which was an intentional polemic on service and duty (RAH made this clear in his letters, I believe there is at least some comment on this in “Grumbles from the Grave”). Other times they are just playing with our tiny little minds, in Heinlein’s case “By His Bootstraps” falls into this class as does “And He Built a Crooked House”.

    As for Science Fiction and Comics being political to some degree everything humans do is “political”. If you have 3 or more homo sapiens (or likely chimpanzees or even cats) you have interrelationships which are effectively political, it’s kind of the nature of interactions of creatures which have some level of self awareness, me, you, other (and sometimes just me other). But is everything we do intentionally symbolic or political? No in fact hell no. I suspect there’s a great deal of “To a man with a Hammer everything looks like a nail” in the Brahamandarin style worldview.

  14. One can, and probably should, use color and specific descriptions to set the tone and build the setting and do all the other things writers are supposed to do, including demonstrating theme. That’s part of the craft of writing, and it takes work to learn how to do properly, and often self analysis as well. Stuff like, why McDonald’s paints its restaurants in red and yellow helps writers understand how these things work. The idea that there must therefore be deeper symbolism at play every time, however, is nonsensical. In allegory, sure, where you’re trying to create one-to-one correspondence. But mostly you’re just trying to set a mood, and if you want to create a creepy Gothic feel you’re going to use certain descriptors and expressions that create that. Versus a story where you want the readers to feel some other sort of emotion. Even if the setting is the exact same–say the front hall of a frat house–the words chosen to describe the same furniture, wall colors, etc, are going to be different.

    Which is a perfectly valid thing to say. But not every choice of descriptor has significance or meaning. Some writers may just suck at description or visualization so they will use specific descriptors that don’t even go together well, and they don’t realize that they have just described the Zillow house from hell.

    Sure, metaphor and symbolism and allegory have their place. But usually those things are fairly easy to recognize, if only because most writers using them are kind of heavy-handed with them. And they’re not used as often as people think. When they are, they’re usually repeated. It’s part of a theme. So, you know, blue curtains would be described in every room in which the character is feeling depressed. Or a blue object of some kind.

  15. I’ve always figured that, if you want to, politics can be “found” and layered onto almost anything and stories are an easy target for such. What I try to do with any ‘fun’ story I am reading (or watching) is to enjoy the plot, the characters and read into it my own experiences so it’s more real for me and I am entertained and engaged. If some author/creator is trying to beat me over the head with some political idea or personal philosophy, it just gets in the way of enjoyment and I’ll dump it if it is bad enough.

    I want to see what Sarah comes up with along this line and would like to read it with an open viewpoint so I can figure out how it “fits” for me and how that will help my enjoyment and personal engagement. If I ain’t happy with the result – it’s an unfinished effort and I’m onto something else. I also may come back to something like that and with additional insight, actually enjoy it on another effort to read it.

    Our host also said:
    “Second, if it can make people think, and question things — not just the orthodoxy but all the Marxist chips being waved around — and start actually talking and exploring the questions, I’d like that.”

    I think, THAT –
    It’s an important effort and one all should strive to do in whatever way they can. As my brief stint as an actual school teacher and then, to a modified degree as a trainer, I always said that if I could get just one person to truly THINK and be aware; then I would have been a success in what I’ve tried to do in my professional efforts. There is something very important here and it needs more exploration and evaluation.

  16. Wow, something I can rant about.

    I had been reading Samuel Delany’s books for over 20 years when I found out that he is black. And gay. Do I care? Not really, he never beat the reader over the head with either category. He had an amazing imagination.

    There’s another book, that I can’t remember the title or author, where the main character introduces a bad-ass martial artist to a female bar owner. He comments “She used to be male, didn’t she?”. Now this book was set in a time where medical science was so advanced that changing sexes was a complete change, fertility and all. The point the author was making was that this martial artist was so hyper-observant that the difference was perceptible, not because of any woke ideology.

    I’ve been reading science fiction for over 55 years now and there have been many books and stories where sexual orientation never came up at all. Neither did race. They were just entertaining. There are also other like many of Heinlein’s young adult books where the guy was really smart while being a complete idiot and the girlfriend was hypercompetent and completely sensible who got him out of the situation he found himself in.

    And on a very serious note, I GAFIATEd from fandom years ago when the prevailing attitude was that even though there were a huge numbers of fans who are socially awkward (and probably neurodiverse), protecting women from any sort of offense became the number one priority. This wasn’t even the “reasonable person” kind of policy, what was presented was draconian, even an off-color remark could get you thrown out of the convention. Of course, it was totally one sided. A few years after that fandom became so woke that there were active campaigns to give Hugo awards to anyone but straight white males, no matter how talented an author they are. You can see this is the number of awards suddenly being given to authors with female sounding names, preferably ones that did not sound Western.

    Okay, that’s my rant. I’ve been attacked for expressing even a little bit of these thoughts in the past. Fandom is only one of the communities and hobbies that I have lost to wokeness.

  17. The Reader has read this post multiple times. What he takes away is a clear understanding of why he is not a writer.

    1. Pshaw. I turn people into writers. It’s like an infection. 😀
      Seriously, I think I’m not a normal writer. I’m …. If I didn’t write I’d need therapy.

      1. You probably still need therapy, but writing is probably more effective. The APA has gone completely woke, I don’t even dare try to talk to a so called “mental health professional”

      2. The Reader is an ENGINEER. It is branded on his soul. His muses and compulsions are a little different than that of a writer, particularly in the timescale between the visitation by a muse and a completed project. In one case the muse mugged me in 1999 and the hardware flew on an F-16 a decade later.

          1. True, but engineers that veer toward writing tend to loose the engineering compulsion. As to writing, the only fiction the Reader has engaged in were in proposals to DARPA.

              1. The Reader always wanted to start a DARPA proposal with ‘Imagine if you will’, but cooler heads always prevailed.

  18. “But the growling and trying to get axes point was the “This is so wrong, it’s not even wrong” idea that sf/f and comics were “always political.” and PARTICULARLY the bizarre, head up colon idea that if something doesn’t have politics it is (or we think it is) “kid’s stuff.”

    Um, yes. I violently agree.

    SF/F and comics started life as pulp mostly, guys desperately trying to make the rent by cranking out stories because they didn’t want to starve. I would go so far as to say that SF/F and comics have always been “cultural”, as in containing the baseline of North American/Western culture because that is what sold copies. But Political, capital P, no. And you can tell, because some of the early stuff IS Political, capital P, bordering on propaganda. The difference between the deliberately political and the pulp stories is not subtle.

    This can be seen now in the manga/anime vs. Marvel-DC wars in comics. Compare all-time favorite Bleach’s new season to currently releasing Marvel animation, or for manga Chainsaw Man vs. -anything- being produced by Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Image, whatever.

    Neither Bleach nor Chainsaw Man have what I could point to and say was an overtly political agenda, theme, plot, whatever. If you want to do some bigtime Marxian CRT deconstruction you can pretend, but there’s no big fast socialist virtue-signaling statement slapping you in the face. There are Japanese cultural artifacts for sure, and themes, and character construction, etc. Compare to Marvel comics, where the Woke is featured on every page.

    (Latest abomination for your elucidation, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. Yes, you guessed it, used to be Moon BOY and Devil Dinosaur in the 1980s, re-released in 2015 with all the Woke they could come up with. The run lasted 3 years. Now an animated series on Disney+, I failed to last through the trailer. Kim Possible is basically the same thing but -way- better. On the positive side, at least she’s not gay. Velma…[shudder])

    What’s selling? Bleach and Chainsaw Man.

    So, yeah. You can pretend having blue curtains is political, but we all know it is a pretense being pursued in service to an agenda. A -leftist- agenda to be clear for the reading-challenged. We can all see that SF/F and comics did not use to be strictly used as vehicles for a political agenda, and now they are.

    Gaslighting only works if the victim trusts you, Lefties. We all learned a long time ago.

    1. If you want some irony in your diet, I’ve seen turn-of-the-20th-century genre (Craig Kennedy detective stories to be precise) where a character states that upper-middle-class society matrons should be active in politics because their superior moral stature will elevate modern politics.
      Looking at the crap so many upper-middle-class women are promoting today, this is definitely a, ” Be careful what you wish for,” moment

    2. Even better, Moon Boy and Moon Girl have absolutely nothing in common with each other aside from the name. IIRC, he was basically a proto-human boy, and she’s a super smart physically normal human girl. Usually when there’s a replacement the writers usually have some sort of similarity between the two. But they didn’t even bother with Moon Boy and Moon Girl.

  19. “There are lies about it being possible some day soon. It might be possible, but not someday soon. And mostly likely only possible if done at the gene manipulation level, so you’re born the other way anyway, which means no help for the dysphoric”

    The other way that it typically turns up in science fiction is a body-sleeve type of arrangement where minds can be transferred from one body to another. The Netflix series “Altered Carbon” uses this method, though it’s not the only example of it. The problem that you run into in this sort of setting is that quickly don’t have enough bodies to go around…

    Also, we certainly don’t have even the slightest inkling of how we might be able to safely transfer a consciousness. Doesn’t mean that it’s not impossible. But it does mean that it’s so far off right now as to technically not even matter.

    Anyway, getting back to your idea, how far into life is it viable? Is it something that post-pubescent adults can do? Does this form of humanity still have something that we would recognize as puberty? If it is possible post-pubescent, how long would it take? If someone in a female form decided that it wanted to convert to a male form for a new job (perhaps wanting greater upper body strength for a job with considerable manual labor), would such a thing be reasonable? Just wondering. And obviously largely useless questions if the answer is, “Not past infancy.”

    1. Ah, right, the other thing that came to mind –

      “Another price is that grouping together is not natural, partnership is not natural and marriage is not natural.”

      Asimov touched on this with the Solarians in his second Elijah Bailey novel. However, iirc the main Solarian character that we meet during the novel (the murder victim’s wife) turns out to need more human contact than the society on that world will allow (her late husband, on the other hand…).

    2. Lois McMaster Bujold presents a “solution” of sorts to the body supply in her Vorkosigan series. There’s a planet run by organized crime where a very rich client can pay to be cloned, and then have his or her brain transplanted into that clone when it reaches adolescence. Guess what happens to the clone’s brain…

    3. My idea? Not a transformation.
      It’s doctored genes in embryos on a colony ship that crashes on a planet.
      It’s not an alteration for a person.
      And by the time the colony is rediscovered, it’s not technological.

  20. “women being relatively helpless in later pregnancy’

    Cue the REEEEing….

    It occurred to me earlier today that another reason the commies dislike real, entertaining science fiction so much (or, want to control it as with everything else) is that it presents so many worlds of “things not seen”; ie all the things that might be possible if we didn’t have so many hangups / regulations / laws in the way of building that world.

  21. As someone for whom color is essential (I’m not a hyperchromat, but I’m pretty danged good at recognizing subtle differences and it’s part of my job), I’m apt to put color symbolism in my writing*.

    But honestly, sometimes it’s as simple as “they have a decent sense of what they look good in,” or “the person who dresses them has a decent sense of what they look good in.” If there’s anything sneaky, it’s not going to be mood-related but affiliations—this group over here uses these colors, that group over there uses those colors, and you can tell who the neutrals are favoring by their color choice.

    But DUDE. I put things like that in there as Easter eggs, not “you must spot this or you’re getting the wrong idea.”

    *Still not a writer. I do overflow from time to time, and I like to jump to challenges, but writing is the least likely creative outlet for me.

  22. As a mere consumer of science fiction, mysteries, and technical books, I read, think, and move on.

    I didn’t really absorb the fictional stories and incorporate them into my worldview. I have had to incorporate IT stuff instead.

    Ringo may be upset to learn I didn’t start building a warehouse for Maple Syrup on the off-chance I meet those aliens of his. But probably not.

    It’s the same with the rest.

    Please keep on entertaining us. And if some fans cosplay too much, just hope they’re not like those grotesque guys with hairy legs in Sailor Moon memes.

    We need to think about things. It helps if we hear preaching in the religious services we choose, not the books we picked up to escape for a while; but done like G. K. Chesterton’s Father Brown, it’s just beautiful scenery, not hurtful, hateful, or heretical…

  23. Going to say something that might get me in trouble. Feel free to moderate it if you want.

    My beef with the Baen edition of A Few Good Men was that neither the cover nor the blurbs I saw gave any hint of the gay romance angle, and I was left to discover a subplot which didn’t interest me, which kicked up around the time the pacing slowed down, and the initial plot developments that interested me had been been at least temporarily resolved. A lot of Baen readers would yowl just as hard about a hetero romance introduced in similar fashion, and I daresay they would get a somewhat respectful hearing when yowling.

    The new cover at least nods to that aspect of AFGM, although I don’t know how obvious it is to people who aren’t already familiar with the story. New amazon blurb does not. At least some of the hostility you’re seeing is probably people who feel that, because this aspect of the story isn’t signaled that clearly, you are trojan-horsing content they don’t find appealing into a book that otherwise sounded interesting to them. (Yes, they probably should pay more attention to the book categories. I’d be prepared to bet that a lot of people don’t though.)

    As far as the hermaphrodite species book is concerned: not my thing, but won’t waste my energy or yours commenting about it, unless a truth in advertising issue crops up. When you get it done and published, please don’t be coy about it in the blurb.

    1. I’m sorry you didn’t see the foreshadowing. I assure you it was there. In fact the editor took a lot of it back, because it was there in letters of fire.
      Also, the plot didn’t slow down. It became somewhat different. That’s all.
      I didn’t write the blurbs for Baen. I need to rewrite the blurb for AFGM which was put when I was very ill, but trust me, that’s not in any way shape or form the main plot. The main plot is ALWAYS the revolution, which is why that was the blurb.
      And frankly, it’s kind of you to say that, but that is NOT what anyone complained about. They complained SPECIFICALLY about the characters’ orientation. There was absolutely nothing about “oh, you didn’t tell me it was a kissing book!”
      (Which, for those who haven’t read it, it isn’t.) It’s a subplot, as it is in Darkship Thieves. And far less than in Darkship Renegades.
      So, pardon me again.
      Don’t like it? Put it at the edge of your plate. Not my problem.

  24. The way I think about the difference between religion/philosophy and politics, is that religion and philosophy are about what is moral and how individuals act out their morals.

    Politics is about how to implement or encourage those morals on the group using force, given a persons understanding of the behavior of large groups of people.

    In my childhood it seemed that everyone pretty much agreed on morals in our country. The difference between the right and left in my eyes was that the right saw humans as fallen and expected evil to arise in government so distributed power tended to be their solution. The left seemed to see humans as intrinsically good but stupid and needing a wise philosopher king to rule every aspect of their lives to protect them from the outside evil.

    Now things are even more stressful because the left, particularly the woke, now has separate base morals from the right.

    Since so much of science fiction is about, what does it mean to be human, and how does new technology affect that, this would lead to discussions of a generic political nature.

    Woke fiction though, is more about beating the political opponents over the head and having talisman characters for the victim of the week.

    It’s too late and I’m just babbling too much.

    Thank you for your post Sarah.

  25. I’ve been binge-listening to James Lindsay’s podcasts enough to add this:

    Remember how Marxists want to overturn society? Well, they see everything about society as “things that make the revolution harder to accomplish”, ergo political and reactionary.

    So in their lexicon, yes: SF is inherently political. But then, so is going to the corner shop for burgers & fries, so that doesn’t mean much.

  26. > “and my hand was actively seeking the axes given to me by the Minotaur (Thanks Ox!)”

    I know you’re not a gamer, but every time you mention those axes this comes to mind:

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