Tags: sfwa


Wednesday, and the storm blew in some links

We had a good gully-washer of a storm last night, and it apparently blew in some links.

A) an American tradition is anything that happened to a babyboomer twice.

B) Occasionally, I worry that the loud and militant right wing in America will go from yelling to action. Then, I stop worrying when A ten-million-man march comes up 9,999,900 men short.

C) On "free" health care: then clearly if chemotherapy is free, people will get as much as they can. It’s just simple logic once you “think like a freak” and see that the market for health care is just like the market for cars, with similar elasticity of demand and ability to do comparison shopping. (sarcasm alert, for those so impaired)

D) One of the received truths of gun people is that the M-1 carbine lacked stopping power. Well, this guy fired carbine, rifle and pistol rounds at an aluminum plate with some surprising results.

E) Some wise words on diversity in storytelling.

Heinlein = Reagan?

From John Scalzi at metafilter:

Robert Heinlein -- or a limited version of him that only wrote Starship Troopers, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and maybe Farnham's Freehold or Sixth Column -- is to a certain brand of conservative science fiction writer what Ronald Reagan is to a certain brand of conservative in general: A plaster idol whose utility at this point is as a vessel for a certain worldview, regardless of whether or not Heinlein (or Reagan, for that matter) would subscribe to that worldview himself.

Or to tl:dr The Great Scalzi: "don't confuse me with the facts, man!"

Link Salad, Ran Out Of Steam Edition

I ran out of steam last night, and blew off my standing trivia competition. I ended up in bed at 9:30, and am blaming a series of late nights and early mornings at the Rotary conference and my writer's workshop. Since the steam is re-building, have some links:

A) A history lesson for Cliven Bundy - the Homestead Acts.

B) Lying Liars who Lie - a response to the historical revisionism of John C. Wright.

C) An interesting take on the book and movie Silence of the Lambs. Well worth the read.

D) I think I said this before, but another voice saying of the film Ender's Game: "You’re making sociopaths. Sociopaths do not make good fighting leaders. Nor do they follow orders well. And all your failed sociopaths are going to have to go somewhere afterwards: you’re going to break them, teach them these habits, and send them back to civvy-street?"

E) I served on one, so they have a place in my heart: Upgrading the classic FFG. (The one I served on is part of this upgrade.)

F) For my Dad, who wonders why they're not making a movie of my book: 268 science fiction books came out in the month of May.

Well, Since You Asked, Mr. John C. Wright...

John C. Wright asked: If Vox Day were racist, why would he deny it? Fear of your opinion?

My reply:

You invite me to speculate, so I will. First, I note that by denying he's a racist you, Larry Correia and a number of other people are defending him. I suspect if he were a self-proclaimed Grand Poo-bah of the KKK, none of the above would give him the time of day, let alone support.

Second, having watched Vox "reward" John Scalzi's gift of a Big Idea piece with a protracted campaign of slander against Scalzi, I suspect that Vox is playing the role of "professional crank on the Internet." He is, in short, saying outrageous things outrageously in order to drum up web traffic and presumably sell books. Radio "shock jocks" have been doing the same for years. (I think his run for SFWA President was part of this shtick - how he expected to win while alienating over half the members is beyond me.)

Third, thanks to him saying "but I'm not a racist" Larry Correia helped get a very second-rate novelette nominated for a Hugo. From now until the end of time, Vox will be calling himself a "Hugo-nominated author."

In short, there's money to be made and a reputation to be built by acting like a racist and denying it. (It's not a reputation I'd want, but then look at the yahoos on "reality" TV.) The perhaps obvious corollary to that is I think you (in particular) and most of his supporters (in general) are being played for fools.

So Many Targets, I Don't Know Where To Shoot

There's so much craziness going on at the moment, I'm not sure where to focus on, so I'm not going to bother with mere "focus."

1) Bundy - rumor has it his militia has tossed up roadblocks. It appears to me that local law enforcement is going to try and wait him out. Presumably the "militia" have, like, day jobs and/or will get bored standing in the hot Nevada sun in the ass-end of nowhere.

2) John C. Wright quit SFWA. When I mentioned that the goings-on in SFWA would, if they occurred in any other professional organization, resulted in the same sort of firings, I got called "gentle reader" and "a damn liar" in the same post.

3) Over at The Usual Suspects, Judicial Watch got hold of a collection of emails from three days after the Benghazi fiasco. In one of the emails, somebody says "blame it on the video" which since, while the email was being written, other video-related riots were occurring seemed at least reasonable at the time. But since it was obvious that Benghazi was an al-qaida op, that email was sufficient proof for impeachment.

4) Speaking of the dude that done made the video, I said:

Well, his parole from his conviction for bank fraud said “don’t use the Internet and don’t use false identities.” So a Federal judge decided that making movies on the Internet and using a false ID violated his parole and yanked same.

See, this is what bothers me about libertarians. They want “rule of law” except when it’s a rich white guy (Cliven Bundy, High Plains Welfare Queen) or somebody who pisses off Moslems. In that case, the hell with the law.

Does anybody wonder where a guy fresh out of jail gets $100,000 to pay actors and rent a studio? Is it even possible that some Al Qaida operative paid him to make a movie which they could use to start riots? Nah – that would never happen! /sarcasm/

Robert Heinlein and Zane Grey

A while back, Toni Weisskopf of Baen Books released an essay. The gist of the essay was "back in the good old days, we all worshiped at the alter of Robert Heinlein and all was well. Now that we don't, problems will follow."

As it happens, I like Robert Heinlein's stories, and I think he was a good writer. But, folks, he's dead. Been that way for a while, and I for one think it's a good thing we don't all worship at his altar.

See, back in the day, Zane Grey wrote westerns. They were damn good westerns - got made into movies and such. Everybody who read westerns said "if it ain't a Zane Grey western, I ain't buying."

But Zane Grey's dead. Been that way for a while. And when was the last time you walked into a bookstore and saw a section of westerns? Bueller? Anybody? I won't ask when you bought a western.

My point is obvious - westerns got tied to a dead guy, and they died out. If science fiction allows itself to be tied to a dead guy, so will we.

Funds Raised, Snow Came, I'm a Heretic

My fundraiser came off, we made a bunch of money, and it snowed in Chicago, snarling traffic. I learn via the Internets today that:

1) If I'm not 100% in favor of going to war to defend the independence of Ukraine, then I'm an unpatriotic hater of America. (from james_nicoll). I suspect that eventually, instead of fighting Russia, we'll be allied with them.

2) If I don't think that Bob Heinlein was the Greatest SF Writer Ever and anybody not writing in his mode is Evil Bad and Just No Good, then I'm no true SF fan. For the record, I like Heinlein, but he was a product of his time.
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Eating Your Own

Tamara Keel, gun blogger and self-described geek, made a cogent remark about SF, to wit: All Klingons are honor-loving warriors. All dwarves are beer-swilling Lawful Good blacksmiths with, for some reason, bad fake Scottish accents. All elves are ethereal granola-munching bunny-hugging archers. But humans are people and therefore can be good or evil, horticulturalists or mechanical engineers, priests or physicists, saints or monsters.

Now, some SF tries to show aliens as not-monocultural (mine, for one) and others (memorably Babylon Five) very explicitly took a dig at aliens because they were monocultural, but Tam's general point is valid. Much of SF falls victim to the Planet of Hats trope. (Warning! TvTropes link = massive time-suck!)

At any rate, Tam's point should have been as controversial as "water is wet." But today comes news that a number of the "being a bigot is FREEDOM!!11!!" crowd has taken offence. Leading the charge is the inimitable Sarah Hoyt. I liked Hoyt's Darkship series, but I really think she needs to step away from the keyboard a bit.

Having said that, I think this latest volley in the ongoing war ties back to a bigger problem - the apparent inability of (some) conservatives to face facts. I note the "some" in that link because, frankly, Tam would qualify as "conservative" to most people. But since she's able to face a fact, that causes some people to want to kick her out of the club.
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Random Thoughts, SFWA Edition

“Mom! They’re Picking On Me!”

In watching the latest brouhaha over SFWA, I have noticed various conservative folks arguing that they are being oppressed / victimized / censored by SFWA. (A nice round-up here, with added hilarity in comments.) Alas, this is nothing new. The American Right has been cultivating a sense of victimhood since at least the Reagan administration. At that time, the leading screamer was one Rush Limbaugh, although I remember the local College Republicans could put out a good whine too. What is amazing is that this whine continued despite conservatives gaining control of the US Government.

Heinlein Is Sexist, Or, Things Change

Via a tangent from the above brouhaha, I was directed to this essay arguing that Heinlein's writing is sexist. My thought is this: for his time, Heinlein was not sexist. For example, one of the complaints of the linked article is that Heinlein's women seemed awful eager to have sex.

But in the 1950s, "good girls" didn't enjoy sex. They closed their eyes and thought of England, or something. (Not that Queen Victoria ever did that). Having said that, things change.

Actually, "things change" is part of what started the original brouhaha. Two older guys said something that, in their youth, would not have been seen as problematic. Now it is.

President's Day Update

Thanks to President's day, I am not at work, but thanks to a snowstorm I'm limiting my outside activities. Herewith, some random thoughts:

1) Various Neanderthals in science fiction continue to shoot themselves in the feet (Mary's "critics," not Mary, are doing the shooting). In other news, water is wet and it's cold in Chicago in February.

2) A fascinating short film - how wolves change rivers. If a wolf can change a river, a man can change the climate.

3) From Jay Lake, who's become (not by choice) a connoisseur of cancer treatment: The French way of cancer treatments.

4) Over the weekend, I went to see the new movie The Monuments Men. It was very well done and quite moving. I highly recommend it.

5) Speaking of things highly-recommended, I picked up a new reviewing gig at Heroines of Fantasy. (Alas, it pays the same as my other gig.) My first review, of the very entertaining book The Shifter's Trail, is up on the site.