The Writer Against The Forces Of Evil Jan 2020

 

When last we saw our heroine, in her battle against the forces of evil, understood as “things that prevent her from writing fiction”, she had made the valiant resolution of writing a lot.

To such purpose she’d enlisted The Mathematician (A figure of mythical dread — also hotness (it might be inferred she plied him with her wiles!))

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— whose principal power is super-human abilities of scheduling and organization) and he’d deployed the near-mythical (in our heroine’s world at least) …. spreadsheet.

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The very name causes our heroine to shudder, since the idea of caging THE Writing is almost sacrilegious. Also, it doesn’t work very well.

However, given the fifty some novels in her head and if she doesn’t get them out, she’s probably going to forget which of the voices behind her eyes is her actual own voice. Which would be a bad thing. A very bad thing.

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So after The Mathematiciann deployed some wiles on HER, the writer agreed that she could do this. She could defeat the forces of evil in 2020. She would even use the dread (shudder) spreadsheet and keep to a calendar and everything.

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But haha, the force of evil never sleep (in which they have some resemblance to our heroine these days. More anon.)

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No more had our heroine got in two good days of work, or so, than the forces of evil deployed:

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Euclid cat, whose life story could be written as “Euclid Cat, Enter The Derp.”  Or since he’s 21, “Euclid Cat, the Path of the Geezer.”

In this case right after new years he fell of a cliff health-wise. Since our heroine is an idiot who doesn’t like putting down cats who can still walk into the doctor’s office under their own power, and also since when she took him to the doctor Euclid was charming, sociable and cosplayed at being at least 10 years younger, our heroine has spent a bunch of money she doesn’t have, and time she has even less of stabilizing the cat (the model for Peesgrass in the Dyce books) who is now eating, and more alert than he was and has stopped screaming in the middle of the night.

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So, that crisis averted, our heroine was ready to resume her course and deploy the spreadsheet:
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But the forces of evil never sleep….

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And being awake made them really really upset, so… they deployed:

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Stomach flu….

Which ate about a week and a bit, until our heroine started getting better and thought: Spreadsheet!

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Only the forces of evil weren’t done!  These last three days they have deployed:

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Sleeplessness.  No, our heroine has no idea whatsoever why. Okay, it might have to do with the fact she’s pretty much forgotten to take her ADD meds every afternoon, and for some reason not taking the meds means she not only doesn’t sleep at night, but she doesn’t get much done. (Though she’s rendered some pretty images she will eventually use in her (now being revamped) author website. Which will have a non political probably three times a week blog.

Images like this, which will ge used for a click to go through to a page talking about our heroine’s space opera:

lucky I guess1It might also end up being the cover for a novel. Maybe.)

It’s also a vicious cycle, because the more tired she is, the less effect the meds have on ADD, causing her to behave like a very strange squirrel:

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And then she gets stressed because she hasn’t been writing and is now late on two novels and two short stories, and then…. everything gets worse, including the lack of sleep.

And then… Well, these last two weeks the forces of evil have scored a major win.

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Needless to say this can’t go on.  The Mathematician is looking at our heroine like this:

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(Only hotter.)  And after all, our heroine is armed with the mighty spreadsheet!

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(Even if she’s managed to screw up one of its functions — it’s like a superpower. not a good one –)

Now, there are hints that other distractions might loom, including perhaps at least a part time job in non-fiction again.

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Which is good and bad, because while non-fiction isn’t fiction, it does help pay the bills, and has some not-irrelevant effect on publicity.  (And they’re not paying the heroine in Euros, because, just no. Stupid image.)

However, the heroine thinks she can keep the non fic under control, so it doesn’t eat all her time.

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If that confinement is effective, then she will do it. If not…. well, she’s all grown up, even if she’s forgotten how to sleep. (I’ve slept successfully in the past, I swear.)

So The Writer (our heroine) and The Mathematician (very hot. Also good with numbers and organization) have vowed to join forces

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And this time truly defeat the forces of evil so our heroine can finish two short stories and at least one of the novels (Other Rhodes) this week.

Tune in next week for another episode of The Writer Against the Forces of Evil!

Will our heroine figure out how to sleep again?

Will Derpish cats figure out a new trick to thwart her?

Will non fiction prove too much for her?

Will Greebo-cat, freelance editor stop glowering at her for being so late?

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(Okay, that last one is unlikely.)

All these answers and more wait next week!  Same place, same blog, same overcrowded writer’s mind.  Watch as our heroine does battle against the forces of evil!

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Power And Wealth

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The problem with power and wealth…. yes, yes, is that I don’t have any. Right. The jokes write themselves. Don’t forget to buy your waitress (she’s a robot) and tip the fish (he bets on the ponies and is always looking for a tip.)

Now being serious, for a moment, the problem with power and wealth is that they’re inseparable.  And no, not just as our Marxist brethren have been taught, in “a capitalist society.”  Actually if there’s any hope of separating them it’s a true free market society. Not that we have that.

Even under monarchies, those who financed the king usually got power in return (also placed themselves in danger. If my research is correct some ancestors were that bloody stupid. Ah, well.) And at any rate, people with money (or other exchange. After all money is a proxy for goods and services you can’t just carry around in your wallet, right?) can by definition buy the allegiance, obedience or labor of others. In any society. Which means if you have money, you’ll soon have power.

The thing our Marxist brethren (or mentally-impaired little cousins, whatever. Every family has one, right?) forget is that the equation works the other way too.

If you have power, money will follow. Because people want to appropriate some of that power to themselves, so they will buy you dinner, give you material goods, find jobs for your ne’er do well cocaine addicted Hunter Biden son, give you amazing book deals that any professional working writer knows will never earn out (even if you were as fascinating as your crazed followers, who think you’re sort of a god, believe), or other make believe Netflix advising jobs taking advantage of your non-existent talent and brilliance that people keep trying to wish into being. If nothing else, if you have power of the government kind, you can make money the old-fashioned way. By stealing it, or getting bribed to sell uranium to Russia sell/give away national assets.

Power might be an easier route to money than money is a route to power.

Not the least of it, because if you have made money through some other means we know that at least once in your life you had to regard other human beings as autonomous units with wants and needs.

Sure what you sold to get there might be vapor ware of some sort, including stories, but you still had to think of “What are other people likely to wish to buy” and “What’s in their head that I can slot into as a way of making money?”

Note as someone who is supposed to make her living selling brain gleanings to other human beings, I spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about what un-examined things are in other people’s heads; what they like; what they assume; what I can sell them that will slot into those two.

And I, alas, am not nearly successful enough to make money (Working on it, okay, guys? Expect big changes this year. Again, year of go big or go home) that will allow me to buy any power at all.

The people who make it at that level, in a free market. Yeah. They spent some time thinking about what to sell, how to sell it, how to create it for maximum appeal, etc etc etc.  These things don’t happen by accident. They can happen by luck, sure, but most of the time “luck is that with which people explain the feats of genius” or something like that (I don’t remember Heinlein’s words exactly.)

They can, of course also happen by rigging, nepotism and other forms of interference.

Which brings us around to the other side: power.

The left has power — near dang absolute — over certain fields.  And their thirst for more and eternal power leads them to favor and push things that no free market, ever, would reward with money. For illustration, look at most TV programming and most movies. There is no rational explanation for those projects even getting made, much less funded.

And while a lot of individuals are making tidy fortunes by slotting into the system and working it from the lefty-power angle, i.e mouthing all the right (left) words, and claiming all the right (left) beliefs, the system itself starts losing money when the takeover is complete.

Because those “successes” and wealth come from the side of power becoming wealth, these people have never spent three seconds together thinking of what other people want or — possibly — of other people as humans. If they think of those who disagree with them at all, they see them as worthy of re-education camps. (BTW some of the Chinese work camps do have conjugal visits. No, that doesn’t make them better. I hate to say it, but hearing Bernie’s staffer I kept thinking the Democrat party is a con game created and designed for the purpose of getting their slaves back once more.)  Mostly, though, they think of us as stereotypes. “Those uneducated, stupid rednecks.”

They don’t bother knowing anything of the real world because, who cares? In fact, it could be dangerous. Their wealth comes from kow towing to those in power and believing the right (very left) things. If they start having ideas that challenge that, then they’ll lose both power and wealth. (In case you wonder why skinsuited institutions become more and more rigid echo chambers.)

Which means that, people who come in through power into wealth, tend to have bizarre ideas of what the rest of humanity is like and what they do. They are more likely to believe the stories that brought them power and wealth, because, well, they are what they were taught in college and have given them great advantage. Among other things, they will believe if only we were “more educated” we’d believe as they do, they believe humans are infinitely malleable, and they believe a lot of things that just ain’t so, including that their degree in whatever field or their superior intelligence (well they believe what all the “smart” people believe, right?) means they know everything and can improve manufacturing processes, make the economy more “just” and/or design cities and improve agriculture.

To be absolutely blunt this is how you end up with wheat planted in Siberia in Winter. It’s how you end up with famines. It’s how you end up with Venezuela, a land of untold natural riches where people are starving to death.

Which brings us to the other side of this: when your system grants power for things other than competence and (well, it’s impossible to keep that out) wealth, what you’re doing is privileging power games over getting the job done.

The people who prefer to acquire wealth through power; the people who want power over everything and anything else, tend to be the sort who’d rather reign in hell than serve in heaven.  And “serve” includes selling ANYTHING that those unwashed deplorables will want to buy.

You’ve met their kind, and so have I. They come into an otherwise perfectly functioning office or work environment and set about empire-building. Sometimes it’s not even political. Sometimes — though not always, and I hate to ascribe everything to childhood trauma — it’s some kind of flaw that makes them feel unsafe, and they “need” to acquire enough power to finally feel safe. Sometimes (perhaps often) it’s being conscious of not being particularly confident, and wanting to make their position so powerful that no one else can dislodge them no matter how much they f*ck up.

They will gossip, lie, slander, steal other people’s work, put on airs, and do whatever it takes to get ahead and get power over others.  Weirdly this rarely has anything to do with actually doing the job in front of them. You know, the one they were arguably hired to do.  In fact, even when they are otherwise competent, they’re so busy playing f*ck-f*ck games (I could tell you stories and how) that the job not only suffers, but becomes distorted by their game playing.

This is not always political, as I said. In fact, at a certain level it is by definition non-political.  However, the higher you go in a corrupt hierarchy of a field taken over by the left, the more likely these people are actual convinced Marxists.

But whatever they are, and whatever they believe, power-oriented people make horrible employees and worse bosses. Mostly because the job and the potential wealth it might or might not generate have absolutely nothing to do with their path to power. And their path to power is all important.

I’d guess, from my and friends’ experiences that at least 50% of what goes on in companies (and much more in some) is contrary to what is needed for that company to survive and make money.  It’s all in the service of someone’s games and power acquisition.

So, what does all this mean?  One of the things it means is that government needs to be a lot less powerful. It is better to have businessmen by power than to have the powerful politicians be bribed with wealth.  Because at least the first have some idea of other people existing and wanting things, beyond what’s in the businessman’s head (because if the businessman is that clueless he’ll go bankrupt and stay bankrupt.) Right now our federal government attracts people who crave power like sh*t attracts flies.  Which means it is increasingly a corrupt money-sink that does nothing anyone wants of it.

Government being a necessary evil, let the overarching branch of it have the least power and let power devolve ever down, till the most power is with the individual human being himself. Yes, I know it will take a miracle. Miracles sometimes do happen.

Part of making this one happen is the culture.  Marxists have succeeded to a bizarre degree in making normal, every day businessmen, those who seek wealth and yep will acquire power, into the villains.

Now, businessmen aren’t saints.  No class or type of person is. Once they become big and powerful enough, the temptation is to use that power to knock out business rivals. That’s just humans being humans.  And yep, it will require vigilance, as well as a government where people actually believe in equality before the law and don’t try to use — say — tax law to favor their big donors and stomp down start up rivals.

However, businessmen in general are more likely to be rational and moral than any politician ever, and certainly than any powerful (but hidden) unelected bureaucrat in the machinery of government.

The fact that our books, movies, etc. sell it the other way around, representing apparatchiks as selfless paragons of virtue and every person who makes his wealth by selling or running a company that makes something as evil and crooked is one of the reasons we’re in this mess.

It’s time to turn it around. It’s time to blow that stereotype sky high.

Politics is downstream from culture. Stop pouring sludge into the stream, and start cleaning.

In the end we win, they lose, but let’s not make it harder than it has to be.  And let’s try not to make it the work of the next generation.  I have maybe 30 years left, if I’m lucky. I hope to see at least the first glimmers of the turn around.

Get it done.

 

 

Immovable A Blast From the Past From June 2013

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*So I lied. I’m not going to write a new post today. The novel is late, and I need to finish that. OTOH I AM going to fiddle with the blog at lunchtime and possibly after work. So if you notice wildly appearing and disappearing features, headers and titles, pretend you can’t see it 😉  It will pass. – SAH*

Immovable A Blast From the Past From June 2013

Recently I posted about the fact that at least the gatekeepers in science fiction are solidly left – and by left I mean they’d shock many people in our college campuses – which leads to the selection of works that enforce (a rather colorless, drab, and frankly unreal) “political correctness.”

I thought there was no disputing this. Look, guys, as the country debated things like government take over of health care, 99% of my colleagues said a resounding “yeah.” Redistribution of wealth? A resounding yeah. Restrictions on doing business – yeah. The science fiction field is full of works with evil military, dastardly corporations and saintly public servants. Woman after woman in the field imagines herself downtrodden and preaches endlessly about evil males and thinks she’s fighting the patriarchy that in her mind existed circa 1950. (And in fact not since the thirties or, for some aspects, never outside Islamic countries.)

In fact, the only place you can find as far left as science fiction is the college campus.
Imagine my surprise when someone – a person I like actually, personally, and outside politics – informed me on my facebook page that I was mistaken and if I thought science fiction was hard left it was because I didn’t know where the center was.

Right…

He assured me that science fiction was libertarian. After all, Wikipedia says so. I have by the way had this quoted at me by foreign fans. Which at least makes some sense. They haven’t sat at panels in sf cons and heard writers and editors declare themselves socialists or say that their duty is to “unsettle the bourgeois.” (This due to the fact that these luminaries lack mirrors, I think.) And they might not know that the dreck that wins most of the peer-awards (really, guys, really? The Cultural revolution was nicer than the American suburbia? And you bought that because it was all wrapped in sentimentality or because you secretly agree? I’m not even sure I know which answer I’d prefer from you.) is not in fact the best that’s produced here. It’s like my poor mother not knowing anything about the IRS scandals because the press there won’t report them.

But that a local thought the field was “mostly libertarian” is jaw-droppingly strange.

And then I realized what the heck he was talking about. I’d “misestimated where the center is” because the center, like Pratchett’s turtle, moves. That is, he figures that libertarian is now anyone who isn’t openly a Stalinist and advocating the internment of everyone to right of Lenin.

At least that is the only interpretation that can be put to “don’t know where the center is.”

So… let me explain something – the definitions of left and right are at best flawed. But let’s go with the idea that the left advocates for maximum government control. Despite the flapping about keeping the government out of people’s bodies and private decisions, they do after all advocate for controlling what people can drink, eat, smoke, what kind of health care people can get, and what procedures are approved of (abortion) and which denied (life extending surgery [whether or not] of dubious value.) They in fact think that either the government or a group of enlightened people needs to keep the masses from making “the wrong decisions.”

I’m not saying anything controversial. Person after person at the Democrat convention in 12 said that everyone has to belong to something and we belong to the government.

That’s the left. And frankly, as someone who grew up learning Marxism (in every course in tenth and eleventh grade) and studying (and experiencing) both socialism and communism, those are the foundations of socialism and communism. “The individual counts for nothing, the collective is all. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one.”

Let’s place that on the left pole, shall we?

By comparison to that, I AM the right. (I get called right but actually the current left/right continuum is on internationalist/nationalist lines, not on the lines of individual freedom — which means libertarians don’t fit anywhere. Since I get called “right” I’ll take that. I’m certainly opposite both communism and fascism, both red and black totalitarianism.) I stand on the opposite side, holding my broomstick like a samurai sword and saying “I don’t care what you need, you don’t have the right to take from anyone against their will.” That is me. Or at least that’s me as I would like things to be. Morally – mentally – I stand solidly anchoring the side of the individual against the state.

Now, I am not stupid, and while in an ideal world, a system of all being extreme individualists would work, in an ideal world so would communism work. (It’s just that in an ideal world for communism, humans would all be termites or carpenter ants or something.)

So while my heart is pure I’m willing to compromise. I’m willing to understand that governments are needed in order to secure the individual’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

I’ve read the constitution and I’ve seen that it’s good. Common defense? Yeah, we need that. After all the foreign nations aren’t all – or any of them – angels. Not letting the states go to war with each other? I’m all for that. Having the president negotiate with foreign powers. Yay. Most of the other stuff left to the states? Okay. It could be inconvenient having to move between states, but after all people do that all the time. So let the states be laboratories of governance. I’ll buy that.

I’ll go that far, but no further. There are evils already inherent in that compromise, like the critters who believe that the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness gives them the right to confiscate the results of other people’s labor or that “at some point you’ve made enough money” – because it arrogates to them to decide how much people should make. Like the people who think they should have the right to every email you send, to store somewhere and look over for signs of sedition. Like those who think that the people the country should be defended against are those who believe in the constitution.

But a government is needed. And if we can keep the intrusions to a minimum, we can take a little poison with our tea, like the nineteenth century people who took a little arsenic every day.

So, is my position center? Good heavens NO. There can be no center between the Stalinists who would enslave, silence and murder all who disagree with them and those who wish to keep a maximum of freedom, responsibility and power in the individual.

The center does not move just because one side gets more and more extreme. And the center holds no special virtue anyway.

Look, if half the people think that you should cut your head off, and half think the head should stay on, do you compromise by cutting off your ears?

Of course you don’t. Cutting your head of is wrong even if half the people believe you should do it. It is wrong even if all the people believe you should do it.

I don’t particularly care how many “experts” tell me a command economy is better – I grew up watching command economies up close and personal. I can also read seven languages and I KNOW the unholy mess Europe is in. I’ve also studied economics, which by the way is a science and not a sort conjuring wand that you can wave around to get the results you want. I know that you can raise the minimum wage till you’re blue in the face but it will not create prosperity. What it will create is the type of market distortion that makes illegal immigration unstoppable and makes the less-educated Americans already here unemployable (and dependent, and suffering from all sorts of pathologies.)

Because the people who believe in the magic wand of minimum wage are more than half the country, does that make the solution sensible? No. Not any more than creating and raising a minimum wage makes it “real”. It just creates distortions and evokes the law of unintended consequences. It’s sort of like making cancer illegal so no one will die of it. All you’re doing is making the MENTION of cancer illegal and ensuring MORE people die of it.

Every time an all-powerful state gets power over individuals, it ends in tears. Sometimes – most of the time – it’s the mass murders, from Hitler (yes, he was left bucko. Kissing cousins to Stalin. They merely disagreed on whether state power should be national or worldwide) Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot. Sometimes it’s the soft glove of lack of innovation and settling for less that has taken over most of Europe (and how many young people who couldn’t find jobs have died of drug abuse or despair? Can you count them? No? Why not? Because you’ve been told it’s unbridled markets that cause the trouble? We haven’t had unbridled markets anywhere for a century.)

And sometimes, when it ALMOST works, when the country is more a tribe than a country, as in most of Scandinavia, it just leaves you open for plundering by foreigners who come in and are unassimilated and unassimilable and hate you because you pay and pay and pay but you can’t MAKE them like you.
Every time the individual is left at least a bit of freedom (we are at best social democrats) unparalleled prosperity and innovation – UNEXPECTEDLY – flows out onto the world. Must be luck!

Is there a center between these two points? A place where only some people are killed? A place where only half of your earnings are plundered? (About where we are, at least if you’re self-employed.) Is that just? Is that fair?

If three wolves and sheep vote on what’s for dinner, is it the center to make the sheep only half-dead?

And if all of science fiction writes about the glorious future when the wolves eat the capitalist sheep does that make the wolves right? Does that mean that’s the center now?

Let’s not kid ourselves – the fans who remain hardcore fans and still attend cons are those who believe the center moves. They have gone along with the stories of all men as villains, humanity as a plague upon the earth, redistribution and glorious statism forever. There are exceptions: some cons in the South East. But by and large the field tilts further left every year.

Is this where the center is? No.

Is this where the rest of the country is?

Snort. If it were the print runs wouldn’t fall every year.

Yes, I know. It’s because those… those… those… rednecks refuse to be enlightened. (Weirdly, Baen doesn’t have that issue. Baen continues to sell. Yeah I know “they sell to those rednecks” because they publish “right wing tripe.” Actually Baen publishes all political opinions and finds readers of every political color. Maybe the other houses should try it? Maybe they should look at how sf from different perspective sells indie to people who in fact haven’t gone along with the ride to the far left? Maybe they should consider that in fact people who disagree with them are not some sort of evil fanatics but simply people who believe in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.)

People who, in fact, know the more you feed the beast the more it will – eventually – eat you. Turns out unbridled unaccountable power is not held by altruistic scientists somewhere, always looking to serve others but by self serving bureaucrats who will torture those who oppose their power – for now psychologically. And that’s wrong. It’s always wrong.

Because the consensus might move and the center mean nothing, but: A government that allows for individual freedom and human dignity?  THAT is the ideal and it doesn’t move.

Go on – tell me that because I don’t believe in controlling others, nor do I grant you the right to take from me my freedom, my labor, or my property without my consent, I am a “fascist” and “extreme right.”
I’m only extreme right when opposed to the fanatical devotion to faceless bureaucratic government the left now seems to believe in. And if that’s the left, I’m so far right that by definition everything else is to the left. (Fascist? Good Lord! You mean Hitler didn’t believe in power to the government? Who would have thunk it.)

I am what I’ve always been: a believer not in the masses but in the individual.

The RIGHTS of the individual outweigh the WISHES of the many.

Eppur NO si muove

 

Hello, is this thing on?

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It didn’t extend the text very much. It doesn’t let me move that column. Ah well.
For now I just want to point out that contrary to rumors, neither Greebo nor I are cyborgs.
And I don’t have a throne in my volcano lair.
Okay, so I MIGHT be slap happy.
I’ll post something real tomorrow.

De-Worse It Gets

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Image by ijmaki from Pixabay

So, what was the last writer of color you read?

Hint, the answer is “whatever writer you read last, since I’ve still to find a single transparent writer.” Which is good, since it would be disturbing. And I hope one of the last you read is this chick Sarah A. Hoyt and her novel Deep Pink(which is profoundly weird, yes, but come on you guys, if you didn’t like weird, you wouldn’t hang out around here, would you?)

Anyvay….. I swear there are people who never read a book trying to dictate not just what the rest of us MUST write, but also what the rest of us must read.

I thought the “challenge to read writers of color” was stupid enough when I first heard of it 10 years ago, but it’s only gotten stupider. Now entire writers’ organizations (puts hat to chest and holds a minute of silence for RWA. I’d do it for SFWA but RWA was once far more useful including teaching and mentoring stuff SFWA never had. Besides SFWA is long dead and rotting, so I’m going to edge away from the coffin.) are falling into this insanity.  We’re hearing that BLIND-JUDGED-CONTESTS, where you can’t even guess at the name of the writer (and these days, honestly, it won’t help. I swear my kids, now mid to late twenties are the last properly spelled names in their generation.) are “racist.”

And we’re hearing that your novels must be “inclusive” and at the same time you can’t write anyone who isn’t exactly like you.

Seriously, how many cat-addicted Portuguese-born women can I write?  (The person who just muttered he or she is waiting for me to write ONE can go to the corner without dinner AND without a book to read. I’m not saying I’ll never write someone with my background, but she won’t be ME. Mary Sues fail to interest me.)

They also think writers read only about characters just like them. And that if you aren’t actively seeking out writers “of color” (Well, you must tell me, chilluns, where you find transparent readers. Because I’m curious.)  or giving awards to them, then you’re evil and racist.

This bullshit has gotten so bad that Stephen King himself has gotten out of his left-leaning tower that what matters, really, is the novel. Or the work of art. The actual writer is irrelevant.

He’s right you know? To this day it can’t be proven who Shakespeare was.  Me, who studied the era, think that the Oxford theory is a bunch of elitist codswallop and that the Anne Hathaway/Queen Elizabeth theory is a bunch of feminist nonsense, for the Marlowe theory to work the man would have needed massive doses of thorazine which they didn’t have, and…  But the truth is we don’t know. Was he actually gay and just married for show? We don’t know. Bisexual? Likely, but we don’t know. Did he identify as a winged dragon and an ornate building? We don’t know. Did he dress like a woman and hang out in bars? We don’t KNOW.

What we do know is that the characters and plots he created still speak to us across time and space and often in translation.  The art lives, as the artist lies moldering in his grave. Or rather (as someone who as a kid played in some ancient stone mausoleums (what? you know you only didn’t do it because you didn’t have them. Amazing places for hide and seek with a side of making your cousin pee himself when you jump out.) probably mostly some musty-smelling dust.)

This is how people read. We don’t care what the writer looks like. Actors are a little different and we DO care because we have to look at their mugs. (And no, I’m not watching any historical dramas set in Europe with prominent people played by black actors. No, it’s not racist. It’s the fact I know history. You want an historical drama with black people? Set it in Africa. There weren’t many white people around.) But writers? People could be purple with pokadots. I don’t CARE.

Sure, if you’re writing about a village populated by Zulus, I care that you know what you’re talking about. That has zero to do with your skin color, and everything to do with research and sometimes (but not always) life experience.

I know I could have got a lot more publicity and push in my trad career if I’d written about Portugal. Double if I could write about victimhood.

The problem is writing about the REAL Portugal doesn’t translate well. When you think you’re being pretty sympathetic but realistic, people tell you that you’re a narrow minded pain in the ass (a rejection I once got for a story set in Portugal. And Larry and I still get bitching about the Portuguese scenes. Some of it from Portuguese. Don’t ask.) Because you don’t fit the American head-picture of Portugal.

I actually had to learn to write Americans, because of that. Okay, my contemporary Americans are odd, as in, see Dyce Dare, but then all my characters are odd.

Anyway, the point is the many people who read Dyce Dare, not a single one — not even on finding out who I really am — has given a good g*ddamn that I didn’t grow up in Colorado, with crazy parents who own a bookstore. (One out of three isn’t bad.)

People read novels for novels. If you read people’s skin, you …. are in a completely different sort of hobby.

I won’t claim that I write what sells. Me and salesmanship are rarely in the same zipcode at the same time. heck, my garage sales usually give stuff away because I don’t know how to sell.

Mostly I write because a character shows up in my head and says “Hey toots,” (My characters are very rude. Also the last one to say so was a cat. Yeah, yeah. Look for The Protectors Series later this year.) “write my story.”  That’s it. And because I’m assured that if I let the books build up forever, they will drive me insane(r).

I write because I like telling stories. Which means… I don’t know. That I’m a traitor to my gender and skin color, not to mention genetic origin? Bah. I can’t betray things I have no allegiance for. Sure, all of them influenced who I am, and I’m assured my voice is unique (most used word in my reviews. It’s probably not a good thing.)

BUT most of all? I write because I must, and I hope people enjoy it.

I’m very proud of my award wins, mostly because neither award gives a flying flick about people’s skin color and orientation, age and nationality, or any of that.

For all of those clamoring that we must give awards “properly” by skin color and other characteristics that have bloody nothing to do with writing: I’m a first generation immigrant, a woman of (tan. The paintchip says spun gold) color, writing in my third language and from my own “unique” perspective.

What do I hear when people tell me one must read writers by color and other such characteristics, including but not limited to whom they sleep with?  What do I hear when I’m told we must give awards to more people like that? Even though NO ONE can tell the color of a writer unless they employ extraordinary effort and search engines?

I hear “You poor little thing. We know you’re not as capable as male, white people, and those who speak English natively.  And we want to give you an A for effort.”

My answer to such racist, sexist, demeaning bullsh*t is and will remain “Gaze upon my middle fingers. Behold! I have a matched set.”

 

Farewell, Mike Resnick

I don’t have any pictures with Mike Resnick. This is because our acquaintance and elbow rubbing at cons dates back from when all our pictures were in actual paper.

Which is to say, I PROBABLY have pictures with Mike Resnick, but our box of pictures (I know, other people put them in albums) hasn’t surfaced since we moved. (It’s probably in the storage room or the garage. I want to find them before mice or flood get them, so we can have them digitized for the kids.)

Weirdly, the moment I heard he’d died, the first thing I thought is that I’d never got to keep my promise to belly dance for him.

Which is stupid, because unless I lose another thirty pounds (hey, it was eighty early last year) no one wants to see THAT.

But finding he’d died was a shock, and people think weird things when shocked.  I knew he was very ill, but I had no clue of the gravity of it. This is happening a lot these days, because you know, in a way the science fiction world has fractured. Part of it is politics which have torn asunder what used to be a network of acquaintance and friendship. I personally have lost a lot of the first friends I made among my colleagues who now think I’m insane, while I can’t figure out where their logical thinking went. I mean, I knew we always disagreed on political principals, but that’s not the same as disagreeing that everyone should have what my friend Dave Freer calls “a fair go” and be treated decently.  This broke a lot of long running mailings lists where pros communicated.  The other part of it has been SFWA beclowning itself to the point that most of us walked away in disgust. SFWA used to be, if nothing else — and it really was very little else, since SF geeks never could figure out how to make it work as a professional organization, partly due to the weirdness of the business itself — a good mailing list/reference to figure out “where so and so is now.”

Of course, when I sold my first novel in 98, we relied on the pony express for communication, so we might not know someone had died till the new edition of the directory listed his properties as “estate of.”
The other part of losing track of everyone has been the (good) collapse of the gatekeepers. These days I might not know of a major seller, even in my favorite subgenre, until I get one of his/her books and realize they have twenty out and their reviews run into the mid-hundreds.

It was easier to form mailing lists and associations of writers when every break-in was announced in Locus.

Actually when I first broke in, I was almost immediately pulled into a mailing list with a lot of professionals, including — of course — Mike Resnick. Very cautiously and tentatively, we used the list to communicate which publishers not to trust, how someone had got shafted and also what publisher x was looking for this season.  Cautiously and tentati

I’d met him in person before. I believe it was at my first Worldcon, Dan and I went to a launch party, and right now I can’t remember for which book.  He’d had a lot of t-shirts, shorts and other swag printed with the cover of the book. They were free for the picking, and I got a shirt and Dan got a pair of shorts, and Mike, good humored, signed them.  Which is why they’re still in (a different box of) keepsakes, in my closet.  As he finished signing them, Dan — who is the more normal of the two of us and is sometimes afflicted with a sense of property said — “I wish I’d brought a bag. When we get in the elevator, people are going to think we undressed you.”  Which of course got Mike laughing and explaining he never signed his own clothes.  One conversational gambit led to another, and I told him I was taking belly dancing classes to lose pregnancy fat.  He had belly dancers at his party and was amused with the idea of a writer who also belly danced, so he said next party I’d have to dance.

I’m sure some of the idiot younglings are clutching their #metoo stuffed dolls at the remark, but it wasn’t in the slightest lecherous. He just gathered I was shy about dancing in public, but wanted to, and was trying to do what he could to encourage me.

Health, and hypothyroidism putting weight on me made me give up the hobby. As did the fracturing (though not precisely breaking) of the friendship with the person who shared the hobby. (Um…. I’m ten pounds from the weight at which I can comfortably run, though of course I want to, running being addictive. Maybe belly dancing might be resumed.)

I’ll just note that as recently as five years ago, Mike did the same thing encouraging me to write/start a series that I was very scared of doing because “people will hate it” because he KNEW I really wanted to do it and would never forgive myself if I didn’t. (No, I haven’t yet. Some of you know it as “WWI dragons series.”  It will come. The health means a lot of things got shelved, and even at an insane pace, I can only write so much. Even now that I’m writing. Don’t worry. I have a schedule.)

Anyway, I’d of course read Mike. In fact he had a whole shelf of our sf book case.  He was one of those writers Dan found, then passed to me. I knew he was brilliant writer.

Which is why it came as a surprise, in the list we were at, to hear him speaking frankly on such things as “make a fortune first, then work at your field. Not only can’t you really make a living from writing at least at first, but it will give you the security to write whatever you want.”

Honestly, if I didn’t have the kids and there weren’t some issues with the only means by which I could make enough money to be “rich” — scientific translation — that was at the time only really available in certain areas of the country, for instance, I SHOULD have taken his advice.

But when we break in, of course at the back of our brains, no matter how unacknowledged, we know we’re going to hit science fiction like a freight train and everyone will bow down to our brilliance, and we’ll be sleeping on a bed of gold.

Without really ever smacking my young and impudent nose, Mike made sure I — and other beginners — knew through his stories that there were accommodations that needed to be made to be a professional sf/f writer.  He was frank about at one time having written uh…. salacious stuff (yeah, I’m totally a prude. Actually I don’t want to go into details) and being paid by the line.  He also made it clear that the lot of even the best seller in our weird niche field was to spend his or her time “running scared.”  Because you never knew whether the next book would sell, or even if this amazing thing in your head would interest any editors enough to be published.

He was kind, unstinting with advice, and treated the raw newby I was as a seasoned professional.

What stands out to me is a dimly remembered conversation in which someone asked if he’d made his fortune before writing, why writing? and why SF?

And the answer was because he loved it. Because he needed to.

He hasn’t been dead very long. I still feel a little shocked. I’d have written this earlier, except that stomach flu made it hard to write coherently.

In my favorite Don Camillo books by Giovanni Guareschi one of the… devices? is that when the priest is going to hear something particularly distressing or enraging, G-d in his mercy strikes him down with a fever, so he can’t process things, and once he emerges the feelings are muted.

I might have emerged too early. The same insane harpies who had to smear Mike Resnick while he was alive — mostly because they wanted control of the SFWA bulletin and organization — were out and spreading their scat on the man’s reputation yesterday. I won’t name them, since their foremost quality is to be entirely forgettable, even in villainy.

They won’t harm Mike. He’s now in the same company as Heinlein, whom they’ve been vilifying in vain for years.  Heck, he’s in the same company with Tolkien, whom they’re also trying (poor fools) to cut down to size.

Their problem, you see, is what I said above. We all come into the field thinking we’re the bestest thing since sliced break with the bestest butter.  And slowly we learn the limits of our talent and our ability, and our will power that keeps nose to grindstone.

I had some idea, to be fair, because I’d read a lot in the field. My rational mind knew I’d never be one of the giants, but that’s okay because I knew giants existed.

I think these younger people come into the field without reading much of it, and lacking mentors like Mike to teach them that “rapid enrichment” cannot be your measure of success. Sure, it happens to a precious few, but for most of us, when it happens is after 20 or more years of slogging.

And it can’t be immediate acclaim. That too has to earned.

So, the children who know no better corrupt institutions to gain “power” and “recognition” and police everyone’s language and thought to ensure they have “respect.”  As in the case of most people who demand respect they don’t even understand what it is or where it comes from. And their takeovers are always an instance of confusing the wrapping for the gift.

Mike…. was the real thing. The wrapping doesn’t matter.  And no matter how much they try to cut him down at the knees, he will loom to generations of science fiction readers as a giant whose shadow cannot be avoided.

Yes, I know it is my age, but it also perhaps the “diminishing” of the field in character and personality.  I feel as though all the stars are going out, and all that’s left are we, poor candles, insufficiently pushing back the darkness.

I won’t say we will not see his kind again. After the great technological upheaval our field will settle in new patterns and there will mentoring, mentored, and people who worked so hard to break in that they love the field as much as Mike did.

But that won’t be for a long while.  And none of them will ever replace his memory as writer, editor and mentor.  His example remains something we’ll all have to measure up against.

Those who step up have a chance of growing in stature, to the limit of their ability.  Those who, by reviling him, think they’re making him smaller, will in the end only succeed in defeating themselves.

Farewell, Mike. I’m glad I got to know you and benefit from your wisdom and advice and your reminiscences of the field. They were particularly precious for someone like me who grew up in a completely different culture and came into the field with no real attachments or contacts.

If there’s an ever after and such things are allowed, I’ll procure a belly dancing outfit. Or whatever it is on that side. Perhaps it is showing you some new and startling world that I really want to help create but I’m afraid to.  Who knows? (I just don’t believe the capacity to create will be utterly snuffed out. Or that Himself would want such an outcome.)

Meanwhile, while on this side, I’ll try to remember how you encouraged me and draw courage from it. And I’ll try to live up to your example of dedication and love for the field.

It’s a promise.

Rare Monday Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike and Book Promo

*First an update on Hoytness: I’m ALMOST normal.  This is the dangerous part of getting better, because I’m impatient. I never dusted or vacuumed for instance, and the temptation is “I feel better. Let’s do it.” Similarly it’s a beautiful day (and last week wasn’t) and my mind is going “I want to go for a walk.” But if I do make too much physical (or even mental, to be honest) effort, I’m going to end up sick again. And I don’t want to do that.
Meanwhile Euclid is eating, but his mind is obviously not right.  We have him confined, because he was peeing/pooping wherever, but in the boarding cage where we keep him, he’s been okay, because the box is RIGHT THERE.  Now he is pooping in the box, but OBSESSIVELY peeing on one of his “shelves” on the comfy (and expensive) blanket. If I remove it, he just pees on the shelf. Thing is, it’s not smell, it’s position. I’ve changed the shelves, he still goes on that one. This isn’t right.  Also, yesterday we left the cage door open while we cleaned and did other stuff. He didn’t even try to get out. (We still close it because other cats would get in, eat his food and possibly beat him.) I honestly don’t know what to make of that. But he’s acting more lively and engaged with us. (Which still isn’t much) and for now we’re considering that “Palliative care.”  It will do. For now. – SAH)

Book Promo

*Note these are books sent to us by readers/frequenters of this blog.  Our bringing them to your attention does not imply that we’ve read them and/or endorse them, unless we specifically say so.  As with all such purchases, we recommend you download a sample and make sure it’s to your taste.  If you wish to send us books for next week’s promo, please email to bookpimping at outlook dot com. If you feel a need to re-promo the same book do so no more than once every six months (unless you’re me or my relative. Deal.) One book per author per week. Amazon links only. Oh, yeah, by clicking through and buying (anything, actually) through one of the links below, you will at no cost to you be giving a portion of your purchase to support ATH through our associates number. That helps defray my time cost of about 2 hours a day on the blog, time probably better spent on fiction. ;)*

(Note, I’m trying out a new, less work-intensive way to post these books. If the stuff above is just blank squares, don’t worry, I’ll be fixing it after I get another coffee. Sometimes stuff shows like that, but it’s fine in the last posting. We’ll see. AND posting STRIPS it. I guess hosting a completely not native HTML thing is something that being hosted by wordpress forbids. Sigh. Okay, old school now:)

FROM SAM SCHALL: Fire from Ashes (Honor & Duty Book 4)
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At war with an old enemy, betrayed by a supposed ally, Fuercon is a system on the brink of disaster. All that stands between it and defeat are its Space Navy and Marines – and the fact the betrayer does not yet know its secret plans have been discovered. But will that be enough to turn the tide of war?

Honor and duty.

FROM KARL K. GALLAGHER:  The War Revealed (The Lost War Book 2)

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Newman and Goldenrod survived landing in a monster-infested wilderness. Their group of historical reenactors no longer fears starvation. But can they control the magic powers people are developing? Discover how they were transported there? And stay safe from the orcs and dragons?
***
“Karl Gallagher’s first production, the Torchship Trilogy, was good enough so that I read and reread it. He has now turned his hand from science fiction to fantasy.”
– Professor David D. Friedman, Professor, Santa Clara University, author of The Machinery of Freedom and Salamander
– Also known as Duke Cariadoc of the Bow, KSCA, OL, OP, founder of Pennsic War

FROM MACKEY CHANDLER:  All in Good Time (April Book 11)

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Living by bad neighbors is hard. Especially when there is a whole mob of them. Needing to do business with them makes it harder. Imagine nine billion noisy disrespectful neighbors who can’t keep their word and would be just as happy to see you dead.
The orbital nation of Home moved the fence line a little by moving from Low Earth Orbit to beyond the Moon, but the Slumball, Earth, is still a just few light seconds away and thoroughly unpredictable.
April and her partners Heather and Jeff know they need an entirely new neighborhood far away. Their superluminal drive will let them do that. It’s better than anything the Earthies have. They have just started learning to use it and explore both its capabilities and the nearby stars. They don’t want to jump out too far too soon and disappear inexplicably like the Earthies’ first starship the Pedro Escobar did.
Starships aren’t cheap and they have two now and a sort of lifeboat. They’ll need more and a lot more trained crew. Right now, they need to gather resources including money. They’ll do business with the Earthies to do that, but there are real limits how much crap April will put up with for their support. Such as if they kidnap her banker friend. They haven’t found anywhere men could live or full of valuable resources yet but they haven’t lost hope of doing so and expect to make it all work in good time.

And, oh, yeah, I did a thing. I’m memeing Deep Pink to promo it. Yeah this one isn’t deeply artistic. I was feeling like crud and this is the best I could do. Still (I hope) funny. FB is still throttling the link, so if you guys want to disseminate the meme, MUCH appreciated. And not just on FB, of course.

hell looked like clevelandwithcode

Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike.

So what’s a vignette? You might know them as flash fiction, or even just sketches. We will provide a prompt each Sunday that you can use directly (including it in your work) or just as an inspiration. You, in turn, will write about 50 words (yes, we are going for short shorts! Not even a Drabble 100 words, just half that!). Then post it! For an additional challenge, you can aim to make it exactly 50 words, if you like.

We recommend that if you have an original vignette, you post that as a new reply. If you are commenting on someone’s vignette, then post that as a reply to the vignette. Comments — this is writing practice, so comments should be aimed at helping someone be a better writer, not at crushing them. And since these are likely to be drafts, don’t jump up and down too hard on typos and grammar.

If you have questions, feel free to ask.

Your writing prompt this week is: POINT

Much Better. Promo Tomorrow. State of the Writer

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The title of the post says it all. I’m much better. I’ll do your promo and challenge vignettes tomorrow.

Right now, I’m trying to do three overdue short stories, and … well…. catch up on everything I didn’t do yesterday.

Not completely well, yet, and feel like sleeping rather a lot, but that’s acceptable. So, I’m going to try to do the shorts and hope I can get through them.

Probably not, to be honest. Probably going to finish them by mid week.  Which is annoying because that’s also, probably, when I’ll be sending Other Rhodes to the betas, which I meant to have done…. oh, on the 1st.  I feel like this year is already at least six months long.

Well, this too shall pass, and as RES didn’t put it but implied, it was my own stupid fault for thinking stomach flu was a good decision. 😉

I still have no clue what to do about Euclid.  We’re well into the land of mixed signals. Yesterday, for the first time in several days, he asked for second dinner (and got it.)  Today, he’s just sleeping, and had maybe a mouthful of food.  Sigh.  I don’t know what to do. Other than love him, pet him, and keep waiting for a clear signal one way or another.

Ah well. I scheduled a ridiculous number of books for this year, and if at least half of them get done, I’ll be okay.  And short story invites — warning to everyone out there who might ask me — from now on get accepted (if at all. Unless you’re Hank or Correia or Ringo or someone else who pays on delivery) on a conditional basis.  As in “Your theme sounds interesting. Tell me the due date, and I’ll try” because last year, through a confluence of being sick/the family needing me/and having accepted more invites than are good for me and not wanting to disappoint anyone, I ended up blocking myself from novels, and not doing anything for months (because I didn’t have ideas for the shorts, but they were due) then spending two weeks frantically writing short stories. Let’s admit this is not good for anyone, myself or the editors. So, in the future the policy is “Tentatively interested. Perhaps.” UNLESS of course, you pay up front, or I’ve worked with you in the past, and the story really INTERESTS me.  For instance, this anthology has…. uh…. blinks…. paid more than I expected. (And it’s on sale for 99c, so this is a good time to get it.)

Actually that’s how I got myself into that particular fine mess, because though 6 months delayed, the “no pay upfront” anthos are paying as much (or often more) as the traditional short story market.  On the other hand, as my husband reminded me this weekend (the poor man is not only the voice of reason, he’s also often my conscience AND my um “artistic guidance” [Uncomfortable with this term, because I’m not sure I’m an artist so much as a craftswoman, even if what I work with is words and pictures] It’s a lot of jobs) I am indie.

Or, as he put it, after 20 years in the Egypt of traditional publishing, often being required to make bricks without straw (and a few times with no clay) and whenever they were due, I’m now free. Now whether I’m free to starve in the desert remains to be seen, but at least I shouldn’t have to produce something arbitrarily on a theme that’s not in mind at the moment just because it’s impacting someone else, and I promised.

He has a point, which is why — though not refusing to write more short stories, because eh, they’re good promo and also they pay twice, as eventually I assemble a collection of that year’s shorts — I need to be more selective in accepting invites.

I see this is has turned into a state of the writer post.

The state of the writer is still mildly urky, but mostly exhausted, with a chance of some writing, though so far not a ton, and great annoyance at having to manage herself.

You know how it goes, working for yourself is great, but the boss is a b*tch/bastage. Eh.

Sometime this week I’ll bring out paper of Deep Pink, and then there will be a contest for signed paper copies. Might do some other books, too.

For now, though, I think I need a nap.

Busy

Today I must clean, which is annoying.
And I have to write, because this week wasn’t good.
So, today, be like Greebo. Take care of business….
I am not dead. Love you.