SF and the damaging effects of literary status envy

I’ve been aware for some time of a culture war simmering in the SF world. And trying to ignore it, as I believed it was largely irrelevant to any of my concerns and I have friends on both sides of the divide. Recently, for a number of reasons I may go into in a later post, I’ve been forced to take a closer look at it. And now I’m going to have to weigh in, because it seems to me that the side I might otherwise be most sympathetic to has made a rather basic error in its analysis. That error bears on something I do very much care about, which is the health of the SF genre as a whole.

Both sides in this war believe they’re fighting about politics. I consider this evaluation a serious mistake by at least one of the sides.

On the one hand, you have a faction that is broadly left-wing in its politics and believes it has a mission to purge SF of authors who are reactionary, racist, sexist et weary cetera. This faction now includes the editors at every major SF publishing imprint except Baen and all of the magazines except Analog and controls the Science Fiction Writers of America (as demonstrated by their recent political purging of Theodore Beale, aka Vox Day). This group is generally frightened of and hostile to indie publishing. Notable figures include Patrick & Theresa Nielsen Hayden and John Scalzi. I’ll call this faction the Rabbits, after Scalzi’s “Gamma Rabbit” T-shirt and Vox Day’s extended metaphor about rabbits and rabbit warrens.

On the other hand, you have a faction that is broadly conservative or libertarian in its politics. Its members deny, mostly truthfully, being the bad things the Rabbits accuse them of. It counteraccuses the Rabbits of being Gramscian-damaged cod-Marxists who are throwing away SF’s future by churning out politically-correct message fiction that, judging by Amazon rankings and other sales measures, fans don’t actually want to read. This group tends to either fort up around Baen Books or be gung-ho for indie- and self-publishing. Notable figures include Larry Correia, Sarah Hoyt, Tom Kratman, John C. Wright, and Vox Day. I’ll call this group the Evil League of Evil, because Correia suggested it and other leading figures have adopted the label with snarky glee.

A few other contrasts between the Rabbits and the Evil League are noticeable. One is that the Evil League’s broadsides are often very funny and it seems almost incapable of taking either itself or the Rabbits’ accusations seriously – I mean, Correia actually tags himself the “International Lord of Hate” in deliberate parody of what the Rabbits say about him. On the other hand, the Rabbits seem almost incapable of not taking themselves far too seriously. There’s a whiny, intense, adolescent, over-fixated quality about their propaganda that almost begs for mockery. Exhibit A is Alex Dally McFarlane’s call for an end to the default of binary gender in SF.

There’s another contrast that gets near what I think is the pre-political cause of this war. The Rabbits have the best stylists, while the Evil League has the best storytellers. Pick up a Rabbit property like Rich Horton’s The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2014 and you’ll read large numbers of exquisitely crafted little numbers about nothing much. The likes of Correia, on the other hand, churn out primitive prose, simplistic plotting, at best serviceable characterization – and vastly more ability to engage the average reader. (I would bet money, based on Amazon rankings, that Correia outsells every author in that collection combined.)

All this might sound like I’m inclined to sign up with the Evil League of Evil. The temptation is certainly present; it’s where the more outspoken libertarians in SF tend to have landed. Much more to the point, my sense of humor is such that I find it nearly impossible to resist the idea of posting something public requesting orders from the International Lord of Hate as to which minority group we are to crush beneath our racist, fascist, cismale, heteronormative jackboots this week. The screams of outrage from Rabbits dimwitted enough to take this sort of thing seriously would entertain me for months.

Alas, I cannot join the Evil League of Evil, for I believe they have made the same mistake as the Rabbits; they have mistaken accident for essence. The problem with the Rabbits is not that left-wing politics is dessicating and poisoning their fiction. While I have made the case elsewhere that SF is libertarian at its core, it nevertheless remains possible to write left-wing message SF that is readable, enjoyable, and of high quality – Iain Banks’s Culture novels leap to mind as recent examples, and we can refer back to vintage classics such as Pohl & Kornbluth’s The Space Merchants for confirmation. Nor, I think, is the failure of Rabbit fiction to engage most SF fans and potential fans mainly down to its politics; I think the Evil League is prone to overestimate the popular appeal of their particular positions here.

No, I judge that what is dessicating and poisoning the Rabbit version of SF is something distinct from left-wing political slant but co-morbid with it: colonization by English majors and the rise of literary status envy as a significant shaping force in the field.

This is a development that’s easy to mistake for a political one because of the accidental fact that most university humanities departments have, over the last sixty years or so, become extreme-left political monocultures. But, in the language of epidemiology, I believe the politics is a marker for the actual disease rather than the pathogen itself. And it’s no use to fight the marker organism rather than the actual pathogen.

Literary status envy is the condition of people who think that all genre fiction would be improved by adopting the devices and priorities of late 19th- and then 20th-century literary fiction. Such people prize the “novel of character” and stylistic sophistication above all else. They have almost no interest in ideas outside of esthetic theory and a very narrow range of socio-political criticism. They think competent characters and happy endings are jejune, unsophisticated, artistically uninteresting. They love them some angst.

People like this are toxic to SF, because the lit-fic agenda clashes badly with the deep norms of SF. Many honestly think they can fix science fiction by raising its standards of characterization and prose quality, but wind up doing tremendous iatrogenic damage because they don’t realize that fixating on those things (rather than the goals of affirming rational knowability and inducing a sense of conceptual breakthrough) produces not better SF but a bad imitation of literary fiction that is much worse SF.

Almost the worst possible situation is the one we are in now, in which over the last couple of decades the editorial and critical establishment of SF has been (through a largely accidental process) infiltrated by people whose judgment has been partly or wholly rotted out by literary status envy. The field’s writers, too, are often diminished and distorted by literary status envy. Meanwhile, the revealed preferences of SF fans have barely changed. This is why a competent hack like David Weber can outsell every Nebula winner combined by huge margins year after year after year.

The victims of literary status envy resent the likes of David Weber, and their perceived inferiority to the Thomas Pynchons of the world; they think the SF field is broken and need to be fixed. When they transpose this resentment into the key of politics in the way their university educations have taught then to do, they become the Rabbits.

The Evil League of Evil is fighting the wrong war in the wrong way. To truly crush the Rabbits, they should be talking less about politics and more about what has been best and most noble in the traditions of the SF genre itself. I think a lot of fans know there is something fatally gone missing in the Rabbit version of science fiction; what they lack is the language to describe and demand it.

That being said, in the long run, I don’t think the Evil League of Evil can lose. The Rabbits are both the beneficiaries and victims of preference falsification; their beliefs about where the fans want the field to go are falsified by their plummeting sales figures, but they can’t see past the closure induced by their control of the gatekeeper positions in traditional publishing. Meanwhile, the Evil League thrives in the rising medium of e-book sales, in indie- and self-publishing.

The Rabbits have a sort of herd-instinct sense that these new channels doom them to irrelevance, which is why so many of them line up to defend a system that ruthlessly exploits and cheats them. Contemplate SFWA’s stance in the Hachette-vs.-Amazon dispute. for example; it’s plain nuts if SFWA claims to be representing authors.

But it will be a faster, better, cleaner victory if the Evil League of Evil gets shut of political particularism (and I mean that, even about my politics) and recognizes the real problem. The real problem is that the SF genre’s traditional norms exist for very good reasons, and it’s time we all learned to give the flying heave-ho to people who fail to understand and appreciate that.

The right (counter)revolutionary slogan is therefore not “Drive out the social-justice warriors!”, it’s “Peddle your angsty crap elsewhere, lit-fic wannabes! Let’s get SF back in the gutter where it belongs!”

618 thoughts on “SF and the damaging effects of literary status envy

  1. I think your disagreement is less than you make it out to be.

    Correia and the Evil League of Evil have been making the case that “Story comes before message” whatever the message, and that the current SFWA leaders, etc. care have lost sight of story in favor of message.

    You seem to be saying that they’ve lost sight of story in favor of crit-lit. Seems to me quite similar. Maybe you’re not in the League, but you’re an ally?

    I think we can all agree that the death knell of the Nebula award was “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love”. Neither SF, nor story.

  2. You have to remember that the middle-age left-SF people are working under a huge weight – the university system. They all went off to major schools back in the 1970s and early 80s, ready to spread the benefits of the SF literary canon… and were shut down hard.

    I was told, by a good friend, that “science fiction cannot be literature, ever.” He was a teaching assistant in the English department, and he was merely giving me the hint to never, ever mention science fiction to any of the professors. Works with SF roots that were within the “canon” were only to be referenced through their non-SF content.

    I’m sure this had a huge effect on many of the budding “SF literati.” the obvious reaction would be to start writing “literature” with a thin veneer of SF (or buried deep within), with minimal science and a lot more fantasy. Treat it as magical realism, or an allegory, and always – ALWAYS – treat the science parts as evil-on-a-stick.

  3. >You seem to be saying that they’ve lost sight of story in favor of crit-lit. Seems to me quite similar.

    But the difference implies a different – and less politically loaded – counterstrategy.

  4. I’m not convinced that SF is, or should be, defined as narrowly as you wrote here. But it’s good to know that a culture war is being fought, and I’m declaring for the Evil League of Evil if for no other reason than the fact that their opponents are promoting harmful ideas ranging from the green movement to “rape culture” to nanny-statism about food and health matters.

    Related news today: Amazon gives details and numbers on Hachette’s attempt to fix the prices of e-books.

  5. I think both sides are silly for treating the elements of a rationalist worldview, scientific sense of wonder, interesting plots, well-realized character, and good prose style as mutually exclusive. I deny it.

    The “rabbits” as you call them should be striving to demonstrate that they can uphold the traditional strengths of SF without compromising literary quality. The “League of Evil” should be striving to add literary depth to their successful plotting and storytelling.

    Why does anyone think this is a zero-sum game?

  6. Eric – how does the existence of literary-style works by Gene Wolfe, etc., who don’t really hew to the “rabbit” SF crowd, fit into this?

  7. > Exhibit A is Alex Dally McFarlane’s call for an end to the default of binary gender in SF.

    “Call for …” – write a damn story, not request from others! BTW. how this essay missed mentioning “Bloodchild” by Octavia Butler (non-traditional sexual connotations)???

    Nb. is Lois McMaster Bujold left-wing or not? Is Ursula Le Guin?

  8. I think the Rabbit vision is necessarily political. Leftists tend to make everything political. Literary status is a symptom, but at the core it’s politics in the form of social status. Rabbits are marching under the banner of civil rights, congratulating themselves and each other on their virtue and wisdom. They bond with one another by labeling all opponents as racist-sexist-homophobes. They are self-righteous missionaries for their new “enlightened” point of view against hatred and for inclusiveness, and if you don’t agree, they will hate you and exclude you. (And then explain how it’s not a contradiction or a double standard.) I read one person describe SF fandom as an “unreconstructed institution,” and I don’t think that sentiment is unique to him. This is about more than literary status envy.

    I also agree with Cambias. I don’t believe the deep norms of SF are necessarily incompatible with literary quality, though the arbiters of literary quality may well try to define it in such a way as to exclude SF, and it’s quite hard to do both well.

  9. @esr: “Literary status envy is the condition of people who think that all genre fiction would be improved by adopting the devices and priorities of late 19th- and then 20th-century literary fiction.”

    This particular fight has been going on a *long* time. You may recall the New Wave, centered around the New Worlds magazine in Britain under Michael Moorcock’s editorship. (See http://www.sf-encyclopedia.com/entry/new_worlds for a history of the title.)

    The New Wave writers were concerned primarily with style, and conducted a lot of experimentation. The late Judith Merril’s “England Swings SF” anthology from 1968 is probably a decent overview of what they were up to (and the vast majority is drawn from the pages of New Worlds.) Brian Aldiss served as more or less the elder statesman, attempting to take younger writers under his wing and impart basics of the craft to them.

    Spinrad established a reputation with Bug Jack Barron, which was first serialized in New Worlds, and went on to become a fine writer indeed. J. G. Ballard was writing his “condensed novels” at the time, like “You:Coma:Marilyn Monroe”, which became part of The Atrocity Exhibition. Others associated with the movement who went on to other things include Barrington Bayley, Tom Disch, Christopher Priest, and Keith Roberts, as well as Moorcock himself.

    But like any literary movement, the New Wave had a finite lifespan. It began, it bloomed, it produced some notable work, and a lot deservedly forgotten, and it faded, as literary movements do.

    The underlying roots of SF literary status envy go much farther back than that. There was a time decades back when you might have SF in a plain brown wrapper, because you were looked down upon if you were known to read that “crazy buck rogers stuff”, and the public’s idea of the genre was colored by lurid covers from the pulp magazines featuring BEMs threatening scantily clad heroines. SF fans yearned to break out of the ghetto, and see what they read accepted by the rest of society as worth reading, alongside other genres like mysteries and westerns.

    That’s something of a “Be careful what you wish for” thing, as SF *became* accepted, through the medium of TV and film, but most of what became familiar isn’t very good SF. Film and TV absorbed the tropes, but not the substance. No surprise many fans look back wistfully at the ghetto where it was easier to find quality. A problem for SF readers is that many read little *else*, and had no idea of the state of literature in general or what constituted good writing.

    The current go around is a tempest in a small teapot. I’ve seen similar episodes before, and “This too, shall pass.” One question is “Who *cares* what SFWA thinks?” Status envy has been a driver in that organization as long as I’ve paid attention. The last go around I recall was whether sales to online markets qualified as credits for SFWA membership. My attitude was that a paying market was a paying market, and sales to a market that paid pro rates qualified. print or online, but there were those in SFWA who were more interested it it being an exclusive little club that they were members of, and unhappy at a potential broadening of the ranks.

    “Meanwhile, the Evil League thrives in the rising medium of e-book sales, in indie- and self-publishing.”

    Thriving? And that means what in terms of actual *money*? The folks I can think of who are successful in self-publishing or indie publishing developed a following in traditional publishing, and are selling into a market that already knows and wants their work. The vast majority going the self/indie published route are lucky to cover their direct expenses. The tools are available to allow anyone to write and “publish” what they wrote. *Selling* it is another matter. Back in the New Wave days, Norman Spinrad opined that there should be enough SF magazines that *everybody* could get published. My question at the time was “But who will *read* them?” With the Internet and self-publishing, everybody *can* get published. I still ask the same question.

  10. Hmmm…that was a long winded way of saying Rabbits suck not (just) because of politics but because they write sucky pretentious SF…

    I don’t get how SFWA siding with Hachette has anything to do with it. Driving ebook prices down is as toxic to the health of SF authors as driving mobile app prices down is toxic to the health of indie mobile app developers. You want SF writers to be able to make a living writing SF.

    Revenue from the release period of a book will generate the most income if it’s like the mobile app model at all.

    Baen’s model of $15ish for new releases and $5ish for catalog titles seems most reasonable.

  11. Both sides are actually united in their vast overestimation of their own importance…it’s ‘only’ SF, after all. Children are not dying.

  12. Seems to me the post “SF and the damaging effects of literary status envy” correctly describes something then correctly describes something else then mistakenly says the two different things are the same thing.

    I agree about the existence of literary status envy and I agree it’s a bad thing for genre fiction. Seems to me folks are writing for the wrong first reader and carrying that over to seeking approval from a writer’s workshop of English Majors much the same as satirized on Prairie Home Companion.

    Current genre writing could be satirized just as the alleged New Yorker story has been over many years – “suddenly Mr. Jones felt very tired” as the common ending of a nothing happens story.

    I disagree that “[n]otable figures include Patrick & Theresa Nielsen Hayden and John Scalzi” as applied to this literary status envy. Perhaps writer’s workshops generally tend toward a culture of literary status envy and such so there is an element of truth in associating the Nielsen Haydens with the movement.

    From that seed of truth I don’t see the origins of the mighty fight in SFWA and out of it. I look at words fromMaking Book to Story is a force of nature Plot is a literary convention to Personally, I’m convinced that the legends of the Holy Grail are fanfic about the Eucharist. and I see Teresa Nielsen Hayden on the right side of the deep norms. Similarly I see John Scalzi writing in a long tradition and moving the story right along. I may think Scalzi gets something very wrong in the Old Mans War sequence that John Ringo would long since have internalized. I might put the book down never to pick it up again; that’s a question of writing what you don’t know, not a political question of taste. It’s not even a matter of I just don’t care about these people or other deadly words. To a significant degree the story or at least the plot reflects a political point of view but so what for purposes of moving the story along. Frederik Pohl had strong political views – see Pohl before the triumph of socialism in 1940 Paris – but as David Langford wrote in Ansible … Pohl’s distorting mirror offers a crude but amusing caricature of capitalist …. That is the politics don’t spoil The Midas Plague though it may drag out a funny once joke too many times. I wouldn’t be inclined to give much weight to Teresa Nielsen Hayden on the financial soundness of social security and none at all to Patrick Nielsen Hayden on normative economics of any sort. But I’ll listen to them on story.

    In sum I agree with damaging effects of literary status envy and paraphrasing freely I might see a struggle between literature and genre with many many SMOF’s who would love to be important literary figures and so trying to take genre out of the gutter. I just don’t see the named individuals as trying to leave the deep norms behind as part of the move from the gutter to the sherry party in the literary drawing room.

    Therefore I don’t see the war over the social purposes as being the same war as the striving for literary respect for literary values over story.

    I quite agree there is a war over social values. For the war over social values I think I see a clear no deviation from the party line rule. The party line may insist that the way a faceless person in a huge mob today treats cosplay is the same as the way not a mob but a group of more or less well socialized friends once treated an editor in a bathing suit. Further that what happens at ComicCons must be defined as being equivalent to what happened at Tahrir Square – guilt by association. Seems to me Godwin’s Rule was a response to the over use of Nazi and Fascist in ad hominum attacks.

    Like alienating most of the population by trying to shut down Seattle during a the WTO summit in order to strengthen a group so to some of the SFWA folks are preaching to the choir alone and beyond that choosing choir members by eliminating any iota of theological difference instead of choosing choir members to sing.

    But I think those are two different battles with many folks being evil rabbits.

  13. > Nb. is Lois McMaster Bujold left-wing or not? Is Ursula Le Guin?

    I’d say that Bujold is somthing of ESR’s opposite number in this. Her natural inclination would be to join the Rabbits, much as ESR is tempted to join the Lords of Evil, but she’s too wise to let her writing be poisoned that way. She’ll throw in a Jackson’s Whole as a “take that!” against the idea of a no-government society, but that’s about the extent of it.

    Le Guin I’d call an elder of the Rabbit tribe.

  14. >The “rabbits” as you call them should be striving to demonstrate that they can uphold the traditional strengths of SF without compromising literary quality. The “League of Evil” should be striving to add literary depth to their successful plotting and storytelling.

    In theory, I agree with you. In practice, there are multiple problems, some essential and some accidental:

    1. An essential problem is that doing all of those things well is really hard. In a sort of nonlinear, worse-than-the-sum-of-the-weights way. Most writers on either side of the divide simply do not have the horsepower to achieve this.

    2. Another essential problem is doing the SF virtues alone is much more difficult than doing the literary virtues alone, for the exact same reasons and in the same ways that STEM courses are harder than a humanities curriculum. They require a broader knowledge base, more ability to think, and more discipline. The lazy student who couldn’t hack freshman calc class becomes the lazy student who correctly evaluated Literature 101 as a gut course, and the lazy Rabbit writer after he/she graduates.

    3. An incidental problem is that the Rabbits in general don’t seem to understand the traditional strengths of SF very well (if they did, they wouldn’t undervalue them in favor of a mess of litterchure). They remember what it felt like to go gosh-wow but don’t have (and are never encouraged to develop) any theory of what produces that experience – and if they had any reasonably accurate theory many of them would become convinced that it demonstrated their inadequacy for the work.

    4. Finally, the accidental political divide tends to harden everyone’s positions out of a fear of losing the approval of whichever group they identify with.

  15. >Eric – how does the existence of literary-style works by Gene Wolfe, etc., who don’t really hew to the “rabbit” SF crowd, fit into this?

    Shame on you for not mentioning Michael Swanwick. :-)

    Some writers are really, really good. In the terms of an earlier comment of mine, they have the horsepower.

  16. I doubt I’ll ever qualify for full membership in the Evil League of Evil (for one thing, my current attempt at writing The Great American SF Novel is stuck at about 12.5K words, and for another I doubt it’d be even a little bit publishable – and not just because of the subject matter), but can I at least get a minion badge?

  17. >Thriving? And that means what in terms of actual *money*?

    A lot. Various members of the Evil League will happily supply figures, something Rabbits generally won’t do.

  18. I’ll note here that Howard Tayler, who would probably qualify for the Evil League of Evil if he could be bothered to take a side, makes his living mainly from indie publishing.

  19. >Driving ebook prices down is as toxic to the health of SF authors as driving mobile app prices down is toxic to the health of indie mobile app developers.

    Depends on the elasticity of demand. What the self-pub people are finding out is that (a) demand for SF is highly elastic, and (b) not having to cede most of the gross to a publisher is a huge help. They’re charging less but netting more.

  20. Hm. As long as SFWA denies membership to those who self-publish (and there is justification for doing so; how else do you separate real writers from wannabes with deep pockets?), this split would be hard to overcome. It’s also unlikely to be irrelevant any time in the future. How does the Evil League of Evil take it over?

  21. Having just abandoned Kevin J. Anderson’s latest mid-way — something I never never do — on the grounds that it might be full of plot but the writing was lame and the characters lamer, I’m ready for some rabbit please. Make mine medium-rare.

    But seriously. The writing quality of SF is probably at an all-time high. And lots of it has plot. From a reader point of view this is largely a false dichotomy.

    I would also be willing to bet that this dichotomy could not even be argued if the subject were modern fantasy writing. Lots of that is very literary indeed and it also works as story-telling.

  22. @esr Elasticity is elastic. Baen’s ARCs sell for more because they are “advanced”. You can argue artificial scarcity but folks that want stuff now will pay more for that stuff even if its rough around the edges. Amazon’s argument is 175K sales @ $10 is better than 100K sales @ $15.

    That’s only true if that 75K sales wouldn’t have shown up anyway when the price drops to $10 in a couple months.

    Plus some authors will command a higher price just because. That offsets the authors that don’t pan out.

    Amazon arguing for one size fits all is to their advantage, not the authors or publishers.

  23. I think you might be overstating somewhat the ELoE’s emphasis on politics; at least the Baen authors among them tend to point to “self-described Trotskyite” Eric Flint as a good example of story-before-politics from the political Left.

    Also, the Evil League of Evil is more the “Conservative-Libertarian Alliance” wing of a broader—I don’t know what to call it; it’s not coherent enough to be a “movement”—within SF/F. Looking at the list of signatories to Dave Truesdale’s petition against censorship in the SFWA Bulletin, for example, you see names from all over the political map; the commonality is that these are people who write within your “deep norms of SF”.

    The terminology of “Rabbits” for the other side is somewhat off-putting. The analogy comes entirely from Vox Day; and while Scalzi has adopted it it is at best a “reclaimed” insult, still fighting words when used by someone outside the group.

    Sarah Hoyt’s dichotomy of “Human Wave” (think the Cambias and Mays novels you’ve reviewed recently) vs. “Grey Goo” (think this year’s Hugo nominees for Best Short Story, or the worse parts of The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy 2014) comes closest to the distinction you’re making, and it was inspired by the search for stories with the SF/F “sense of wonder”; see Mrs. Hoyt’s essay immediately preceding the Human Wave manifesto: Bring Back That Wonder Feeling.

    “Human Wave vs. “Grey Goo” has the advantage that it applies equally well to the F side of SF/F; in fact it’s not really tied to genre at all, so it’s certainly not the best model for classifying genre fiction. But is it possible to articulate the “deep norms of Fantasy” the way you did for SF?

    (I can just hear the screams of outrage when David Eddings’s stories are declared “core Fantasy” and Harry Potter “defective”. ????)

  24. I see you’ve descended into Vox Day’s morass of invented terminology.

  25. >the commonality is that these are people who write within your “deep norms of SF”.

    I don’t know that this is true, but I find it not implausible. How many of them have signed on to “Human Wave”?

    >The [rabbit] analogy comes entirely from Vox Day

    Really? I adopted it in the belief that the Gamma Rabbit T-shirt pre-dated Vox Day’s “rabbit” comments. I might have hesitated if I thought otherwise.

    >“Human Wave vs. “Grey Goo” has the advantage that it applies equally well to the F side of SF/F; in fact it’s not really tied to genre at all, so it’s certainly not the best model for classifying genre fiction. But is it possible to articulate the “deep norms of Fantasy” the way you did for SF?

    I’m not sure. I have given the question a little thought, but I haven’t arrived at a fantasy equivalent of rational knowability.

    I will note that Sarah Hoyt cuts somewhat against your objection that I’m overemphasizing the ELoE’s emphasis on politics; yes, she wrote the Human Wave manifesto in an apolitical way, but she has uttered screaming libertarian rants against the cod-Marxists on the other side, too.

  26. >I see you’ve descended into Vox Day’s morass of invented terminology.

    Well, or maybe Larry Correia’s. You’re welcome to suggest better terminology if you like; I have no actual attachments here.

  27. >The vast majority going the self/indie published route are lucky to cover their direct expenses.

    The vast majority who go the traditional route don’t make any money *at all* because they don’t get published.

    Traditional publication depends on finding an agent who likes your work, then an editor who likes your work, and finally an audience that likes your work. The probabilities of those things happening are largely independent from each other, particularly if your work does not conform to the “literary” crowd’s biases (political and/or stylistic). As esr notes, sales ranks indicate that editorial judgment is a poor predictor of economic success.

    Indy/self publishing, on the other hand, only requires that you find an audience that likes the work.

    In neither case will you make money if the book truly sucks, of course, but the indy case does permit your book to be seen by people who don’t (e.g.) think that marching in a Stalinist rally is a peachy-keen way to spend an afternoon.

  28. How does the Evil League of Evil take it over?

    Isn’t this a case of “living well is the best revenge”? I’m hearing that one group sells books and the other basically doesn’t. On a long enough time line, theory says the group that isn’t selling will improve or get a day job.

  29. Vox Day doesn’t sell books, he gives them away in exchange for positive reviews and lives off of his trust fund.

  30. >Vox Day doesn’t sell books, he gives them away in exchange for positive reviews and lives off of his trust fund.

    The Amazon rankings he quotes for his books make this theory seem unlikely. While it’s theoretically possible he could be lying about this, I doubt it – too easily checked.

  31. >I’m hearing that one group sells books and the other basically doesn’t.

    Not quite “doesn’t”, but the disparity is large. This is one reason the ELoE is so confident; they can see the difference in Amazon rankings.

  32. There currently seems to be several authors who’ve become quite successful on self-publishing. In particular the authorearnings.com site by Hugh Howie (a bestseller who started as a self-published author) has gathered a bunch of data based on Amazon rankings, which he uses to estimate that Self-published authors are earning about as much money as traditionally published authors overall, and that self-published SF authors are earning nearly 2x as much as traditionally published SF authors on Amazon ebooks (which make up a fairly large chunk of all book sales).

    The most recent report:
    http://authorearnings.com/july-2014-author-earnings-report/
    In particular I’d look at these two graphs (estimated author earnings based on normal royalty rates):
    http://authorearnings.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/ae-combined.png
    http://authorearnings.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/author-earnings-by-genre-and-publisher-type-5.png

    @esr
    >> The [rabbit] analogy comes entirely from Vox Day
    > Really? I adopted it in the belief that the Gamma Rabbit T-shirt pre-dated Vox Day’s “rabbit”
    > comments. I might have hesitated if I thought otherwise.

    I believe that Vox Day called Scalzi a “Gamma Rabbit” as an insult, then Scalzi made the shirt, and then Vox Day developed his metaphor of “rabbit warrens” (or perhaps simply publicised the pre-existing theory).

  33. VD’s post referring to Scalzi et al. as “gammas” and “rabbits” comes a day before Scalzi’s original Gamma Rabbit post. And apparently he’d used the term “rabbit people” or something similar previously as well.

    The concept of “Human Wave” is, I think, more important to the genre than you give it credit for; not definitive, but important. Consider the discussion earlier this month over whether Clarke’s Childhood’s End is anti-SF: you pointed out that it’s not anti-rationalist; the people who wanted to write it out of the genre were groping toward the idea that it’s anti-human. Perhaps it goes under different names, or is just not widely recognized as a phenomenon; also Sarah Hoyt is (so far) not influential enough in the SF/F world to have the Big Names sign on, not that (as far as I know) she ever went looking for co-signers.

    Also (and perhaps, as you point out, because Mrs. Hoyt is so politically outspoken) the manifesto feels political, even though it boils down to “include politics or don’t, but write a good story with characters I can care about”.

  34. > Vox Day doesn’t sell books, he gives them away in exchange for positive reviews and lives off of his trust fund.

    Really? Dang, I was ripped off then; I paid six whole dollars for A Throne of Bones. ;-)

    More seriously I don’t actually think that Vox Day tries to claim that he’s a great author, just “decent”.

    I’m pretty sure that he’s publicly claimed to be less talented than at least some of the leaders of those he calls “rabbits”*, but that they are handicapped by their ideology, which prevents them from writing as entertaining books.

    * Not Scalzi of course; he really doesn’t think much of Mr. Scalzi.

  35. (BTW, the very existence of the Gamma Rabbit is something of a counter-example to your claim that their wing of the genre “seem almost incapable of not taking themselves far too seriously.”)

  36. ESR I have reading website articles and blogs since 98. I was very happy to read your SF reviews and am glad that they are back. I miss the rubber ducky rating system. My question is have you ever considered editing SF? You obviously have the reading speed and depth and breadth of the field.
    I understand that time is always short for the competent and shorter still for the ubers.
    I think that L. Neil Smith is correct in His belief that SF is important to the political fight for freedom. I wouldn’t expect you to make much direct cash, just like your open source work. But you may help make something great as a part time thing.

    I would need you to keep doing that software thing as a priority of course.

  37. > I don’t get how SFWA siding with Hachette has anything to do with it. Driving ebook prices down is as toxic to the health of SF authors as driving mobile app prices down is toxic to the health of indie mobile app developers. You want SF writers to be able to make a living writing SF.

    Lower ebook / mobile app price doesn’t necessarily mean lower revenue (both ebooks and apps are zero marginal cost goods).

    “Is Amazon Evil Because It Wants to Charge You *Less* for E-Books?”
    reason.com/blog/2014/07/30/is-amazon-evil-because-it-wants-to-charg

    …e-books are highly price-elastic. This means that when the price goes up, customers buy much less. We’ve quantified the price elasticity of e-books from repeated measurements across many titles. For every copy an e-book would sell at $14.99, it would sell 1.74 copies if priced at $9.99. So, for example, if customers would buy 100,000 copies of a particular e-book at $14.99, then customers would buy 174,000 copies of that same e-book at $9.99. Total revenue at $14.99 would be $1,499,000. Total revenue at $9.99 is $1,738,000.

  38. Luscinia is to Vox Day as Athene/Thanatos is to Tom Kratman.

    So, if the argument really is style vs story, although heavily occluded by SJW sloganeering, what’s the middle path? The two elements should not need to be mutually exclusive. However, given the stylists tendency to embrace a political agenda at the same time, while I appreciate the different view on the disagreement, I don’t think it can be divorced from the political. (Maybe it’s a sign of university rot.) Can there really be a middle path if one side, that of the Rabbits, exhibits the exclusionist behaviors of the lit-crit crowd and the SJW crusaders?

  39. Before I respond to the post itself, I thought a response to a few of the various statements and questions was merited.

    1. The “rabbit” terminology comes from E.O. Wilson’s r/K selection theory. I noticed that the rabbits of the SF world tended to exhibit certain attributes of the r/selected. A post explaining this is here: Digging Out the Rabbit People.

    2. Contra the claims of Andrew Marston of the Many Names (he has been trolling my blog, among many others, for years and “Luscinia Hafez” is one of his favorites) my books sell around 5,000 copies on average. Nothing spectacular, but better than average. My bestselling book sold between 35k and 40k copies. My bestselling game design sold over 6 million copies. I have never had a trust fund.

    3. Many, if not most, of the rabbits are more naturally talented writers and more formally trained than I am. On the other hand, I happen to be more intelligent than most of them and considerably less susceptible to groupthink, which provides an advantage of sorts in a literature of ideas. There are virtually no writers on either side who are reliably strong in all four elements of fiction who are not named either “Gene Wolfe” or “John C. Wright”; even the excellent (albeit rabbity) China Mieville tends to fall short on the Characters element.

    4. The “Gamma Rabbit” t-shirt is not an example of rabbits not taking themselves seriously. It is nothing more than the usual gamma attempt to spin the narrative.

    5. Applications for Minion status in the Evil League of Evil should be directed to our Secretary, The King in Yellow. The hours are long, the work is dangerous, the uniforms are tight, and the discipline is brutal, but we do pay 10 percent over minimum wage and offer a comprehensive health insurance package which covers lash-related injuries.

    Vox Day
    Supreme Dark Lord
    Evil League of Evil
    Gheddorodim, Alt-Earth

  40. “Alas, I cannot join the Evil League of Evil…”

    But we have _cookies_.

    Although a charter member of the inner and most secret cabal of the Evil League of Evil (so secret, in fact, that you’ll all have to commit suicide now that you know it exists; that, or sign in blood….) I’m a little more sympathetic to message fiction than are most of my colleagues. Why? Why because I_write_ message fiction or, perhaps more accurately, I write anti-message fiction which is almost indistinguishable from message fiction. (Anti-message fiction attacks a prominent message in message fiction or seeks to innoculate readers from intellectual and moral infection by message fiction. To a minor extent it may do so by trying to cause apoplexy in the purveyors of message fiction. Someone once referred to me on line as a “true believer,” and I laughed. I am, in fact, a true _dis_believer_)

    In any case, because I sortakinda am one, I’ll make a strait faced claim that I understand those purveyors of message fiction better than most. Yes, this includes _most_especially_ left wing message fiction. I think you’ve got it wrong; everything is political and politics is everything to them. It is Father, Son, Holy Ghost, and non-gender normative, definitely non-virginal, significant perhaps mostly because she can bear children without the need for a mere man, openly and militantly lesbian, Mary. They live, breathe, eat, and drink it. It is their universe. They really don’t even have to think about it. And they don’t.

  41. @Jakub Narebski

    Unfortunately, I don’t think we can accept Amazon’s reasoning as valid. We know that lower prices mean lower revenue, because people are paying less. Amazon, as part of the entrenched power structure, is necessarily suspect, and when its arguments from so-called “data” contradict the obvious truths we already know, we must regard them as self-interested misdirection, especially when those arguments are used to attack an organization such as Hachette which has no loyalties other than to its authors.

  42. We know that lower prices mean lower revenue, because people are paying less.

    This is absolutely not true. You have failed to grasp the basic economic principle of price elasticity. If you can understand that pricing every book at ONE MILLION DOLLARS will not lead to more sales because no one can afford to buy books, you should be able to understand that because book are price-elastic, there are 74 percent more sales at $9.99 than $14.99, thus increasing revenue for everyone despite each book costing less to each buyer.

    Book prices are not inelastic. I just wish Amazon would similarly quantify the price elasticity of books at the $4.99 and $2.99 levels.

  43. Christopher, sometimes “obvious truths” are wrong. Just because people are paying less does not mean that you are taking in less money. That is the crux of Amazon’s argument, and they at least claim to have real data – which always trumps “obvious truths”.

    CAGW, after all, is an “obvious truth”.

    And sure Hachette has its own loyalties: to its shareholders. Indeed, it could easily be argued that that is its only loyalty. Their data, if they have any, is exactly as suspect as Amazon’s, by your argument.

  44. @jakub yes and I point out above that Amazons assertion is true only if you can’t capture the other 74,000 sales when the price drops later anyway. In other words:

    100,000 sales @ $15 + 74,000 sales @ $10 > 174,000 sales @ $10.

    And more importantly for hatchette:

    200,000 sales @ $25 for Rowling + 100,000 sales @ $15 + 100,000 sales @ $10 is far better than 400k sales at $10 and evens out for the authors that make virtually no sales at any price.

    Amazon prefers to sell Rowling @ $9.99 because it fucks B&N more than it fucks Amazon. That Hacette gets fucks too is a double bonus because Amazon is a direct competitor of them as well with their own imprints.

  45. > We know that lower prices mean lower revenue, because people are paying less.

    But they are buying more items, or more people are buying items. It does not necessary follow.

  46. 100,000 sales @ $15 + 74,000 sales @ $10 > 174,000 sales @ $10

    Isn’t it trying to capture the consumer surplus?
    http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/CamelsandRubberDuckies.html

    But also there:

    “Working my way backwards, this business about segmenting? It pisses the heck off of people. People want to feel they’re paying a fair price. They don’t want to think they’re paying extra just because they’re not clever enough to find the magic coupon code.”

  47. @jay you can lie with data more easily than without data.

    Amazon has presented no data. Just hand waving generalities. Note that Baen doesn’t price the way Amazon stipulates for their ebooks. $15 for ARCs to capture the market that simply can’t wait. $10 for new releases of well known authors (weber, ringo, etc) and $5-$8 for less well known authors and $4-5 for back catalog.

    What? You think Baen, Hachette, etc don’t have sales data?

    On the plus side I just noticed that Islands of Rage and Hope is available. I’d have paid $15 as an eARC except I forgot but I’ve been waiting for that book enough that I’d STILL buy it at $15 today vs waiting for a price drop or the library to get a copy.

    I am at a point in life where spending an extra $5 to get a book 2-3 months early or $15 to get a book 6 months before the library gets it isn’t completely financially irresponsible. Or at least no more so than watching a movie at the theaters vs getting the blue ray later.

    For Baen not to charge me $15 for those authors is just leaving money on the table.

  48. @jakub Joel’s numbers are hypothetical. Jared’s are real:

    http://blog.jaredsinclair.com/post/93118460565/a-candid-look-at-unreads-first-year

    What Amazon (and Apple) wants is the iOS market. What is sustainable for developers is the OSX market:

    http://tyler.io/2014/07/a-candid-look-at-the-financial-side-of-building-mac-apps-on-your-own/

    Apple made a mistake IMHO in letting app prices drop to $0.99. There’s not much they can do about it now and arguably there’s not much they probably could ever do but they typically want all of their 3rd party providers to make a sustainable living whether that’s apps or iPhone cases because the health of the entire ecosystem is important if you care about your long term prospects.

  49. I too find myself unable to join the Evil League of Evil…despite its appeal, but I do think I understand what they think (Living with one. ;-)

    The ELoE would say that you have the cause and effect backwards, it was the same political movement that overthrew Russia and China and put in Communist governments that led to the current university/literature culture. (My husband even knows the name of the guy who started the modern literary movement. I, alas, cannot recall it.)

    Good article thought. I think you were spot on with how to fight the “Rabbits” (what a great name.)

  50. >We know that lower prices mean lower revenue, because people are paying less.

    No. No. No.

    If your economic theory were true, why not raise the price of the book to (say) $1 billion per copy?

    The answer is, of course, because no one would buy it at that price. Few would buy it at $100/copy. More (but still not many) would buy it at $20/copy.

    The amount of revenue is (units sold) x (revenue per unit). There is (at least) one price that maximizes this. Amazon believes (and has data to support) that for most books that price is between $2.99 and $9.99.

  51. >What? You think Baen, Hachette, etc don’t have sales data?

    Amazon has orders of magnitude more sales data than Baen or Hachette do. Amazon also has thousands of really smart people doing data mining for them. Baen is way too small to do that. Hachette could do it, but that would require that they enter the 20th Century (the 21st would be asking too much).

  52. @sbp except that we haven SEEN Amazons sales data nor have they provided it to anyone to independently analyze. Nor should they because it’s a competitive advantage over their competitors, suppliers AND customers.

    However, there is lots of sales data to support market segmentation as well and every industry practices segmentation. Why do you feel that this is suddenly not valid for ebooks? Because of the sales data you haven’t seen and is taking on faith from one of the parties with a vested interest in destroying competition by squeezing suppliers so they have a cost advantage?

    Meh. As much as folks here think I’m a rabid Apple apologist I’m glad they don’t have a monopoly on anything and they have strong competitors. What I don’t see is anyone able to challenge Amazon. What is even more worrying is that the Amazon business has a lot of revenue and little profit. I question if it is really sustainable in the long run or if we end up with a bunch of dead and dying suppliers, no other retailers and a very very rich bezos.

    The DOJ cracking down on the agency model handed amazon an uncontested monopoly in ebooks. Price is always lower while the monopolist is trying to drive the remaining competitors into bankruptcy. What happens when B&N gives up?

  53. >My question is have you ever considered editing SF? You obviously have the reading speed and depth and breadth of the field.

    Yes, I’d be good at it. But I have to go with comparative advantage – I’m a better programmer with more leverage to change the world that way.

  54. > $15 for ARCs to capture the market that simply can’t wait. $10 for new releases of well known authors (weber, ringo, etc) and $5-$8 for less well known authors and $4-5 for back catalog.

    Yes, we are well conditioned to like marked segmentation in the guise of promotions and bargains… ;-)

  55. >However, there is lots of sales data to support market segmentation as well and every industry practices segmentation. Why do you feel that this is suddenly not valid for ebooks?

    Market segmentation sells to different groups of customers. Amazon is talking about the people who buy books from the Kindle store. Only. And they’re saying (with no obvious reason to lie… they get a percentage of the price no matter what it is) that for their customers, in their store, that those prices are the ones that maximize revenue.

    No one is arguing that Baen doesn’t make money from selling the eARCs at a higher price, but that audience is a) very selective and b) small

    Apple is using a very different strategy. They’re selling Veblen goods. You can make money doing that, too, but Amazon is not in the Veblen good business.

  56. I’ve put up my response to esr’s post, as opposed to the comments here: SF and the damaging effects of literary penis envy.

    tl;dr: Eric is correct about the literary divide in SF/F, but it and the political divide are only two of five facets, in addition to religion, life experience, and socio-sexuality, that make up the whole divide. I don’t know which facet, if any, is the most important.

  57. “He’s not even decent. Terrible is more apt.”

    If anyone cares to know the value of Andrew’s oft-expressed opinion on literature, I highly recommend reading his Nocturne. It is… an experience.

    “So, what are your names, fellow wayfarers?”

  58. Wow, I figured I might get someone, but I wasn’t expecting Jay to fall for it. (I thought “entrenched power structure” would give it away…)

  59. “The cold autumn day was slowly drawing to a close. The pallid sun was descending, its ineffective rays no longer sufficient to hold it up in the sky or to penetrate the northern winds that gathered strength with the whispering promise of the incipient dark. The first of the two moons was already visible high above the mountains. Soon Arbhadis, Night’s Mistress, would unveil herself as well.”
    While that crap deserves a hugo? Ha.

  60. And they’re saying (with no obvious reason to lie… they get a percentage of the price no matter what it is) that for their customers, in their store, that those prices are the ones that maximize revenue.

    Of course they have an obvious reason to lie. If they sell books at $9.99 while Apple and B&N sell at $14.99 then they steal business from them.

    If they force ebook pricing down to $9.99 (and further erode hardback pricing and volume) and deprive B&N of needed profit then B&N goes out of business because Amazon can make it up the difference in other markets (electronics, whatever) and B&N can’t.

    What happens when B&N goes away? As a consumer I’m thinking that zero competition is a bad thing.

  61. “Applications for Minion status in the Evil League of Evil should be directed to our Secretary, The King in Yellow. The hours are long, the work is dangerous, the uniforms are tight, and the discipline is brutal, but we do pay 10 percent over minimum wage and offer a comprehensive health insurance package which covers lash-related injuries.”

    Tight uniforms? Lashes? I’m in!

    …did I say that out loud?

  62. Amazon’s position in the e-book market is strong enough that they can dictate “sell nowhere for less than we do”—or rather, “we will match your lowest price”. (The books in Baen’s Free Library are also available from Amazon for the same price of $0.00—and you get the audio book for two bucks more!)

    But this is not an exploitable monopoly position. There’s minimal warehousing or delivery fees on e-books, so if Amazon ever gets mustache-twirling-eeeevil-capitalist greedy and raises prices—someone else will step up with a competing store. It won’t have the deep data links to your other purchases (particularly dead-tree books) but independents and Baen at least will quickly offer their books where they can attract more customers.

  63. ” If they sell books at $9.99 while Apple and B&N sell at $14.99 then they steal business from them.”

    Why can’t Apple sell for $9.99? Does Amazon have a gun to their head? Apple has Everest-sized piles of cash.

    “What happens when B&N goes away? As a consumer I’m thinking that zero competition is a bad thing.”

    Tell you what: get back to me when Amazon actually has “zero competition”.

  64. Eric, I’m thinking that the Rabbits will be perfectly happy to lump you in with the Evil League of Evil, regardless of your personal sensitivities. They consider it a hanging offense to offer any criticism or disagreement of Rabbitism, or show any sympathy whatsoever for the other side.

    So welcome aboard!

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to finish that minion application…

  65. >so if Amazon ever gets mustache-twirling-eeeevil-capitalist greedy and raises prices—someone else will step up with a competing store.

    Yes. The barriers to entry for this market are very, very low. All you need is a minimal amount of disk space and a good pipe. Bezos understand that, you can bet.

    Unlike their competitors, Amazon doesn’t even attempt to stop customers from sideloading books on the Kindle. Heck, they even give your Kindle its own email address to which any person or individual can send documents. Baen does that, and it works well.

  66. “What happens when B&N goes away? As a consumer I’m thinking that zero competition is a bad thing.”

    Considering B&N pushed the independent bookstores out of business and was too much of a dinosaur to capitalize on Borders mismanaging themselves into bankruptcy, let them die. It’s not like the publishers aren’t creating their own E-store fronts for their own books like they are now, or that the indies aren’t coming back. Competition in the realm of bookselling isn’t an either/or between Amazon and B&N. Someone will fill the void that B&N leaves, and in an age where they’re more worried about selling toys than books, given the prioritization of the sales floor, let it come soon.

  67. Back to the roots.

    The realization that a work of fiction has become an enduring literary classic is ex post facto. This is true regardless of the genre, and includes many works of SF. To assert that SF cannot rise to this level is the height of bigotry and censorship, and also ignores reality.

    That said, I think it is absurd to write something with the arrogant aspiration of becoming a “classic” first and foremost. It’s not something you can force, no matter how much talent you presume yourself to possess.

    I have always regarded SF as a celebration of individualism (and conversely, a great big FU to the collective). As such, neither a rabbit nor an ELOE shall I be.

  68. For Luscinia’s edification:

    ter·ri·ble
    [ter-uh-buhl]
    ADJECTIVE
    1.distressing; severe.
    2.extremely bad; horrible
    3.exciting terror, awe, or great fear; dreadful; awful.
    4.formidably great

    Enough people like his works that we can safely exclude definition #2. Extremely bad writers don’t have large amounts of people liking their work, because the work they produce is of extremely poor quality.
    Which means that you must be using “terrible” in one of it’s other contexts, which says a good deal more about you, than it does Vox’s writing ability.
    Personally, I find him a decent writer. If I were going to ding him on something, it would be the chronology being sketchy, because that would be an actual criticism. But his ability to tell a story in a competent and entertaining fashion is clearly attested to by the thousands of people who have bought his books.

  69. @Christopher Smith

    and when its arguments from so-called “data” contradict the obvious truths we already know

    This hinted at it, but as nigel is currently displaying, the lack of understanding of economics is rampant making it impossible to tell.

    When the subject is economics, Poe’s Law has total world domination.

  70. >Personally, I find him a decent writer.

    Yeah, I agree. I had no previous experience of VD’s work, but read the nominated piece to see what all the shouting was about. I’ve read far worse. Worthy of a major award? Well, it’s definitely superior to that wretched dinosaur revenge fantasy non-story (another author I hadn’t read before), so if that is representative of the competition…

  71. > Unlike their competitors, Amazon doesn’t even attempt to stop customers from sideloading books on the Kindle. Heck, they even give your Kindle its own email address to which any person or individual can send documents. Baen does that, and it works well.

    Unfortunately at least for now it doesn’t work for Amazon Kindle Cloud Reader aka. web interface. Sideloaded books can appear in your documents storage at Amazon, but Cloud Reader doesn’t see them. And my laptop has larger screen size than my smartphone – and sync is a must… well, good to have (so I use Google Play Books Upload instead; works for EPUB and PDF).

  72. >I have always regarded SF as a celebration of individualism (and conversely, a great big FU to the collective).

    Tempting (especially to libertarians like myself) but an oversimplification. Individualism is not quite a core value of SF, it is a consequence of structural imperatives in the genre that go deeper than politics; I have analyzed this point in detail. Thus, it is possible to write collectivist SF, it’s just harder to do it well or convincingly.

  73. The Evil League of Evil is fighting the wrong war in the wrong way. To truly crush the [opposition], they should be talking less about politics and more about what has been best and most noble in the traditions of the SF genre itself.

    I assume you don“t mean “they should be talking less about politics” in their fiction, because (aside from Tom Kratman) they don’t do much of that anyhow.

    In their blogs? Sarah Hoyt comes closest of all of them to ascribing sophomoric Marxism (what you’ve called “cod-Marxism”) to the “literary darlings” of SF/F—but her political posts on According to Hoyt are mostly about American politics, not literature’s (“and that’s because I blog about what interests me,” says the Beautiful-but-Evil Space Princess); and her posts on the kerfuffles in fandom touch on SMOFishness, literariness, grey goo, and Social Justice Warrior mentality about as much each as on Marxism.

    It comes back to dangerdad’s first comment to this post: “I think your disagreement is less than you make it out to be.”

  74. Are you saying Twilight and Fifty Shades of Gray aren’t of abysmal quality?

  75. Are you saying Twilight and Fifty Shades of Gray aren’t of abysmal quality?

    If you’ve got a shtick that suddenly fills a void people didn’t realise they had all manner of stylistic atrocities will be forgiven you. Not that easy to come up with tho’.

  76. “Tell you what: get back to me when Amazon actually has “zero competition”.”

    Amazon now has effectively zero competition in audio books with the same “low barriers to entry” characteristics as for ebooks (you just need servers and bandwidth…you know, like the kind of servers you might buy from…Amazon EC2…).

    The slashed royalties from 50-90% (based on an escalating royalty rate) to a flat 40%.

    “Effective for projects started on or after March 12, 2014, titles distributed exclusively to Audible, Amazon, and iTunes will earn a non-escalating 40% royalty paid to the Rights Holder (or, on Royalty Share deals, split equally between the Rights Holder and the Producer). Non-exclusively distributed books will earn a non-escalating 25% royalty through Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.”

    http://gigaom.com/2014/02/27/amazon-owned-audible-lowers-royalty-rates-on-self-published-audiobooks/

  77. The problem with Amazon is the retail-margin fixing that they apply.

    They don’t say “we will match your lowest price”, but “we will take 30% of your lowest price and hand you the rest”.

    Amazon was able to beat the physical bookstores in dead-tree by undercutting them on the retail margin. If there was a book that was sold by the publisher for $10, B&N sold it for $24.99 and Amazon sold it for $14.99. Hachette still got $10 for that book, but Amazon could live off the $4.99 margin and B&N couldn’t (well, really, independent bookshops couldn’t survive on that margin, which is what happened to them).

    But the Amazon Kindle contract doesn’t say “you must not charge any other retailer less than you charge us” (a perfectly reasonable contract term) but “you must compel all other retailers to charge no less than we charge our customers”.

    That means that any retailer willing to operate on a 20% margin rather than Amazon’s 30% would just increase the profits of the publishers, rather than reducing the price to the customer.

    Let me do a simplified example.

    A book sells for $10.
    Amazon gets $3, Publisher gets $7 (of which the author gets between $1 and $2).

    New Retailer comes into the market and decides to buy the books from Publisher for $7 and sell to the general public for $9 to undercut Amazon.

    Amazon lowers their price to $9 to match New Retailer, keeps $2.70 and hands over $6.30 to Publisher. This is the bit that’s the problem; Amazon have preserved their margins at the expense of the publisher.

    For this reason, the publisher has to prevent New Retailer from doing this.

    Look at Baen: Baen books are the same price in their own store as they are from Amazon; they can’t sell them to the public at the same price that Amazon charges.

    The result is, of course, that any new retailer cannot sell the books without signing a contract with the publisher that lets the publisher determine retail prices – else the publisher gets punished by Amazon for someone else’s discounting.

  78. “Considering B&N pushed the independent bookstores out of business and was too much of a dinosaur to capitalize on Borders mismanaging themselves into bankruptcy, let them die.”

    When B&N pushed independent bookstores out of business they both sold books. Amazon can afford to make nothing selling books. B&N cannot. You cannot compete with someone that doesn’t need to make money selling what you sell.

    That goes for publishers as well since Amazon is a direct competitor.

    For authors…well, given what they just did on audiobook royalties don’t expect them to give you any better deal once they drive publishers out of business.

  79. Just posted this at my blog, but it’s short enough to share here, I think:

    1. ESR is right that there’s a strong libertarian streak in f&sf, but that streak takes two forms, a left-libertarian streak and a right-libertarian streak.

    2. The people who have accepted the Gamma Rabbit name are not “extreme-left”. They’re identitarians, the part of the bourgeois left that prefers to focus on privilege rather than poverty, on social identity rather than human liberty. So they will talk simultaneously about freedom of speech while calling for restrictions on it, and their critiques of our culture are rarely critiques of capitalism. The far right thinks anyone to its left is leftish, but on any sensible political scale, the identitarian left’s politics are no more extreme than Obama’s neo-liberalism.

  80. @esr:

    I have this feeling that you’re at least one layer too removed from the fundamental issue, though I’m not certain what that is. Of SF writers, I can see a handful of people deciding to write literary SF as a challenge, for fun, or simply because your English teacher didn’t hug you enough as a child. What I have a hard time seeing is a sufficiently large number of SF authors caring about this with sufficient fervor to create major divisions inside some of the few institutions the writers of such work have. There’s got to be something deeper, though I know not what. Thoughts?

    @Jay: Worse. You put it in _writing_.

  81. >>If anyone cares to know the value of Andrew’s oft-expressed opinion on literature, I highly recommend reading his Nocturne. It is… an experience.

    I managed to read about half of the first page, but I was starting to sunburn.
    (from the ultraviolet from the *extreme* purpleness of the prose)

    Jim

  82. “This hinted at it, but as nigel is currently displaying, the lack of understanding of economics is rampant making it impossible to tell.”

    I have seen no data from Amazon. Have you? You guys are just buying the Amazon position at face value with zero analysis of or even access to actual data.

    When mobile app developers publish their revenue and sales numbers it’s clear that pricing higher on release is the least bad strategy for indie developers for paid apps. There does not appear to be any winning strategies.

  83. For authors…well, given what they just did on audiobook royalties don’t expect them to give you any better deal once they drive publishers out of business.

    So, you’re warning us that Amazon may, at some point in the future, go from slashing its royalties from a lot more than the traditional publishers to only moderately more than the traditional publishers? How is this a major concern?

    I have published five books with traditional publishers on the usual terms. I’ve also been paid not to write four books by them due to the chaos of their internal operations. So, I’m hardly biased against them, and in fact I have good relations with publisher-level people at two major imprints. However, since I went independent, I haven’t looked back and I don’t see why I would work with a traditional publisher again, barring some sort of Hugh Howey-like deal.

    Also, I doubt Amazon will reduce its ebook royalties the way it has its audiobook royalties. The size of audiobooks makes the whole thing a different cost proposition and the pricing system is still screwed up there because the publisher can’t control it. It’s a very different operation.

  84. “I have seen no data from Amazon. Have you? You guys are just buying the Amazon position at face value with zero analysis of or even access to actual data.”

    Go read Hugh Howey’s Author Earnings reports. He crunches the actual data from Amazon, which is provided in copious detail. Amazon’s behavior is better than the Big Five publishers in every single way.

    Unless you’ve published with a major publisher, you don’t know what it is like to wait months before your book is published without you being informed, had covers changed on you, not been informed for months on sales, and so forth. Unless you’ve also published with an independent publisher through Amazon, you can’t fathom how much more informed you are.

    We tell our authors how their books are doing on the first day, the first week, and the first month. When I published my first book with Simon & Schuster, I didn’t hear anything about it for nearly a year. And that’s a publisher who behaves well!

  85. “When B&N pushed independent bookstores out of business they both sold books.”

    And yet there was still significant floor space even then given to toys, video games, movies, and music. Unlike the indie shops, B&N offered goods besides books, which matches your complaint against Amazon.

    “For authors…well, given what they just did on audiobook royalties don’t expect them to give you any better deal once they drive publishers out of business.”

    A cut to 40% and retained rights to your work is still better than signing over almost all rights for the 10-15% rate from the publishers. Amazon is a distributor. I can always take my toys and go elsewhere to play, an option I don’t get with some of publishing’s predatory contracts.

    Let’s put it this way, if a publisher at a 10% royalty rate decides to sell my e-book at $10, that gives me $1 per sale. Let’s take that reduction to 40% instead of Amazon’s current 70%, which means as long as Amazon sells my e-book above a price of $2.50, I’ll make more than that $1 I would from the publisher, and the lower prices means that that customer just might buy two or more books for that $10 as opposed to the one by the publisher. Now, those extra books might be mine, giving me a larger fraction of that $10, but they might go to other authors instead, growing the market for everyone.

    So why are we castigating Amazon over something they *might* do, which will still be a better deal for writers than what the publishers *currently* offer? And as readers, if I can pay less per book, buy more from my favorite writers, and give them more money in the process, why should I favor publishers who want to drive up the cost of books and give the authors less?

  86. “Are you saying Twilight and Fifty Shades of Gray aren’t of abysmal quality?”

    Haven’t read either. However, both are opening up genres that haven’t had much in the way of “real book” activity. By that metric, Fifty Shades of Gray need only be compared with, say, Lensman – and before you object that the latter is a classic, I suggest you read it again.

    Hint: the book buying public isn’t concerned with whether something qualifies as High Literature, since High Literature shares the same essential attribute as the rest of High Art: it’s unreadable.

  87. @ ESR – “Tempting (especially to libertarians like myself) but an oversimplification.”

    I agree that SF has evolved from a core structure and also incorporates a rich diversity of themes (including some variants of associative participation). But I would argue that SF is inherently anti-collective (especially in the coerced sense). Our evolutionary history is a progression of group behavior from family unit, to clan, to tribe, to village, to city, to nation, and beyond. This wave threatens individualism with ostracism or extinction. The last Free Thinkers may have no choice but the leave the planet, and SF points the way. For me, this is it’s highest ideal.

  88. “If anyone cares to know the value of Andrew’s oft-expressed opinion on literature,”

    Is Luscinia yet another manifestation of Asian female stalker Andrew Marston of Marshfield, MA, Vox?

  89. Is it, indeed, the famed Andrew Marston who captures beads of sunlight, then captures them again, in abandoned factories devoid of life for the evening, while wearing purpose-sequined survival suits?

    Before Yama took our collective editorial advice – well, the part that didn’t involve thin cord, loose loops, and short drops, anyway – I captured that section and sent it to Larry for readings at cons, since Eye of Argon is getting a little stale.

  90. “A cut to 40% and retained rights to your work is still better than signing over almost all rights for the 10-15% rate from the publishers. Amazon is a distributor. I can always take my toys and go elsewhere to play, an option I don’t get with some of publishing’s predatory contracts.”

    No…25% since if you’re keeping the option to play elsewhere. 40% for exclusive rights to sell.

    “So why are we castigating Amazon over something they *might* do, which will still be a better deal for writers than what the publishers *currently* offer?”

    Because its not just something they might do. It’s something they do now.

    “And as readers, if I can pay less per book, buy more from my favorite writers, and give them more money in the process, why should I favor publishers who want to drive up the cost of books and give the authors less?”

    Because publishers provide a useful service in terms of filtering out crap and making books better through the editorial process. Discovery of “favorite” writers is already a sufficiently difficult task to want to do slush pile reading myself. There’s already too much to read.

    Baen has provided value added for me as a consumer.

  91. I specifically remember PNH’s “call to arms” over a decade ago in rec.arts.sf.* that there were too many libertarians and not enough Democratic partisans on the internet, and that the left liberal bulk vangard had to be brought online, or else they would “lose the future” to the interconnected libertarians who were using the internet to share ideas and self-organize.

    Then later ras* died with USENET, and they replaced the social space with their comment-centric blogs, where the rules were “you were allowed to disagree with (P|T)NH and their philosophy, but not too much” and “friends of (P|T)NH were allowed to make personal attacks and snide remarks, but people who were not their Friends were not”.

    Then people started talking off the record in private conversations about how manuscripts that were not agreeable to the (P|T)NHs political philosophy were spending years and years in a silent “pocket veto”, without the courtisy of a rejection letter, so they could not be shopped to a different publisher. After a couple of such conversations, my opinion of the pettiness of (P|T)NH were cemented.

    Now I read very very few TOR authors. In fact, off the cuff, I can think of only one TOR author who I regularly, and while he is indeed very left wing, his leftism is of such an alien variety that it’s actually intellectually interesting, and his even deeper understanding of geekdom is likewise engaging and entertaining.

    I’ve since been asked by a couple of aspiring SF/F writers about selecting publishers, from my standing as a reader. I’ve told them to go with Baen if they fit their niche, or with any one of a number of local indy publishers, or else modern self-publishing. But avoid TOR completely. They can’t afford the petty unethical pocket veto of (P|T)NH , and their readers deserve better.

  92. I mean, this is the Kratman who wrote self-insert fanfiction about the War on Terror and how it should be fought.

  93. A friend of mine who is also a SF author and I were exchanging some correspondence about this recently; he pointed out that what’s really suffering is the traditional SF convention scene. Apparently, the ideologues (mostly those on the Rabbit side, to use your terminology) are making the atmosphere at many cons so poisonous that they’re driving away, not only those on the right, but those who have no interest in politics. This is mainly showing up in places like Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan right now; it doesn’t seem to have hit Colorado. Yet.

    A subcategory of this is the introduction of one-sided “harassment” policies at many cons, about which I know you and I have spoken before (in February). This, too, appears to be Rabbit-driven, from the radical feminists screaming “harassment!” and “rape culture!” and the affiliated men (mainly “deltas” and “gammas,” to use Vox Day’s taxonomy) eager to “white knight” those women. And the problem, as I pointed out, is that these rules tend to leave no protection for innocent guys (like me) that don’t intend to harass, insult, or rape anybody, yet can get caught up in a harassment allegation, with all the negative attention that implies, because some woman levels the finger of accusation at us, for any reason or none. Sarah Hoyt did a piece about this, where she said, “…there is a hair-fine difference between buttheads and nice guys with zero social ability — which are abundant in our field. Complaining about the nice guys will just make them run away and hide in the basement for the next fifty years.” She’s right, and I should know, because I’m already there.

    (This isn’t the only problem traditional cons face; another big one is that their attendee base is aging, as Comic-Con and the other media cons siphon off the younger fans.)

    And this is all a big problem, because cons are one of the few remaining good promo channels for print SF…and, bear in mind, most of the major SF imprints are now owned by big spreadsheet-driven conglomerates, and, if the promo opportunities dry up, they’ll face the accountants’ axe.

  94. John C. Wright has filed an opinion, concurring in part and dissenting in part, over at Literary Envy and the Last Redoubt. An excerpt:

    Politics is the least part of the struggle. None of my stories mention it, nor do those of our dishonorable and craven opposition.

    We of the United Underworld have said what we are fighting about. Larry Correia wrote our manifesto: We believe story comes before message.

    We are entertainers first and crusaders second.

    Our opponents are crusaders first, or, to be precise, anticrusaders, because instead of fighting for the holiness and righteousness as the crusaders did of old, these creatures fight against everything holy and right and instead fight for socialism, totalitarianism, feminism, perversions sexual and otherwise, atheism, nihilism, irrationalism, Ismism, and every other ism one can name.

    We say you can put a message in your story if you insist, but story comes first. Space Princesses come second, at least for me. I think way cool guns come second for Larry Correia. Message comes third for both of us.

    Quite an entertaining read, and might help clarify where exactly the ELoE (not that they are at all uniform in opinion) is differing in emphasis from ESR’s conversation about deep genre norms. (Also, Eric—what was that you said about which side “have the best stylists”? ;-) )

  95. @erbo I agree about the collapse of cons.

    I know several young teen and tween protofans who refuse to go to regular SF cons: “too many old people, too many rules, none of the panels are about subjects I am interested in, and none of my friends are there”. They instead go to things like PAX, anime cons, comic book cons, and cosplay meetups, and while online they do mass interactive fanfic roleplay on *chan.*/* and on Tumblr.

    When these kids read “published” text, they do so on their phones or Kindles, not in paperbacks or from the library. And they read what their friends recommend, not what is front shelved in a bookstore or in a curated and marketing driven “bestseller” list.

    The only kids who go to SF cons are the kids of families who have been going to SF cons for decades. And even THOSE kids are starting to ditch the older cons for, again, PAX, anime cons, and comic book cons.

  96. “Go read Hugh Howey’s Author Earnings reports. He crunches the actual data from Amazon, which is provided in copious detail. Amazon’s behavior is better than the Big Five publishers in every single way.”

    No. No actual sales data is provided by Amazon. Look at his methodology. He’s using sales RANK as an indicator to attempt to compute percentage of sales revenue that Amazon reports on a coarse level and based on their own rank vs earning data for their own books. Unless he has data from JK Rowling, George Martin, Veronica Roth, Gillian Flynn, John Green and John Grisham his ranking-to-sales data values are hugely skewed against the Big 5.

    #1 rank on the day that a huge release occurs is HUGELY more value than a #1 rank on regular days.

    The conclusion that “Self-published authors are not just holding their ground with Big 5 authors when it comes to releases after 2011, they are out-earning Big 5 authors by a 27% margin.” is based on the same kind of “analysis” performed by IDG when they claim that Apple mac sales dropped 1.7% when it grew in double digits. How do we know Apple’s sales grew 10+%? Because it was stated in an earnings call.

    Moreover look at this caveat:

    “We limited our analysis to books earning at least $10 a day. This is a very low threshold, but it prevents the data from being swamped by those books only selling one copy a day or every other day, which makes up a good number of some obscure product categories.”

    So in one fell swoop they decimated all the indie non-performers from their analysis which outnumber the non-performers of the Big 5.

    There is no other way that indies out earn the Big 5 megastars by 27% individually or as a group.

    Plus when you look at the article they state what I have been saying:

    “Self-publishing gurus have long discussed the diminished sales outside of the first month of publication, as e-books fall off the “hot new” lists.”

    Pricing for $15 on the first month and THEN dropping to $9.99 should work out to more money over time vs starting at $9.99 especially when hardbacks are higher or equal price.

  97. Market segmentation sells to different groups of customers. Amazon is talking about the people who buy books from the Kindle store. Only. And they’re saying (with no obvious reason to lie… they get a percentage of the price no matter what it is) that for their customers, in their store, that those prices are the ones that maximize revenue.

    You are making the assumption that Amazon’s purpose is maximizing revenue. For most businesses that is probably true, but Amazon is a special case. They very rarely make a profit, focusing on growth and market share instead. It is entirely possible that they are pricing ebooks at a loss, in order to maximize total quantity of sales in some fashion.

  98. As a wannabe author looking in from the outside (well, from the reader-side of SF in any case) I think that the ultimate height of the lit-fic envy was likely during the 90’s. There was a time when, if you were so stupid as to use the term “sci-fi” fandom and everyone else would bring out the torches. It seemed to me (from the outside) that the whole genre was having a collective hissy-fit, stomping its feet, and shouting, “We are not hacks! We are not! We are not!”

    Go to about five years ago and suddenly people, authors, started to speak fondly of the Golden Age, which had just a few years before been “adventure written by hacks for 13 year old boys”. And the authors I heard doing so are certainly on the social liberal end of the spectrum. Those people spoke of sensawunder and the things that had drawn them to SF in the first place. And I’ll say this, as a card carrying minion of the Evil League of Evil… I think that *everyone* was sick and tired of Grey Goo. (Though it’s possible that no one informed the Editors at the publishing houses.)

    So I don’t know if I necessarily buy this new conflict as between those with literary aspirations and those thrilled to be exceptionally well paid hacks. I think there is a strong case for it all to be purely political and external to science fiction. Race-fail was external. Is the current “we can be inclusive by kicking people out” anything other than a manifestation of current, external, politics?

    Yes, maybe complaints about chain mail bikinis are mostly about literary aspirations but complaints about scantily clad women in costumes at a promotion for Hercules isn’t.

  99. VD might be getting ‘rabbit people’ from Jeff Cooper as well as from r/k strategy.

    Larry Niven hasn’t got a Hugo since 1968. Nothing for The Mote in God’s Eye, Lucifer’s Hammer, Footfall, The Magic Goes Away, Dream Park. Shipstar won’t be on the ballot next year. Niven shaped the field. Hugo politics shape the awards.

  100. Jim Maynard is interested in a new career as a Minion in the ELoE,
    “Applications for Minion status in the Evil League of Evil should be directed to our Secretary, The King in Yellow. The hours are long, the work is dangerous, the uniforms are tight, and the discipline is brutal, but we do pay 10 percent over minimum wage and offer a comprehensive health insurance package which covers lash-related injuries.”

    Tight uniforms? Lashes? I’m in!

    …did I say that out loud?”

    Jim, it is more than a career, it is ALL. I recall all too well the sign, roughly limned in dragon’s blood, over the gate of Minion Boot Camp–
    YOU HAVE COME TO THE LEGION OF DOOM TO DIE, AND WE WILL TELL YOU WHERE.
    You need to carefully study the Guidelines for Henchmen set out in
    http://www.sam-hane.com/agency/overlord.htm and commit them to memory.

  101. Tut tut. That’s not sufficient. Why are they not good enough for you? Not literary enough? Insufficient characterization? Shoddy world-building? Pedestrian plots? No ground-breaking ideas?

  102. I’d be willing to bet that The Mote in God’s Eye, beaten out for a Hugo in 1974 by The Dispossessed, has more sales and more readers everywhere, outside of university courses.

    As noted above, the SJW are a growing plague on the convention scene. They have been getting Guest of Honor invitations revoked for people who have told the wrong sort of jokes. They had a “#racefail” complaint a few years ago, which consisted of whining that WorldCon committees (100% volunteers) were “too white.” (You can tell an anti-racist from a racist because the former complains about too many white people.) They are insisting that fandom is “failing” because it isn’t doing “outreach” to minorities. (As if fandom has ever barred entry to anyone based on race.) And after harping on race in fandom, they criticize the naive and socially-inept fans who dare to ask a racial minority a well-meaning but awkward question about race.

  103. “I mean, this is the Kratman who wrote self-insert fanfiction about the War on Terror and how it should be fought.”

    Andrew, at least you’re a litle bit right, which is something of a record for you. I, at least, do know how it should be fought. Besides stalking Asian women, what do you know?

    Now run along, little boy, and set your golden beads of sunlight traps in that temporarily abandoned factory. And remember, it takes two traps to capture one bead.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHHAHAHAHAAHAHAHA! ha.

  104. “Thus, it is possible to write collectivist SF, it’s just harder to do it well or convincingly.”

    An exception; military SF has, like the militaries it portrays, a very strong collectivist streak. It would, I think, be very hard to write Mil SF that wasn’t collectivist.

  105. I left this at John Wright’s blog and I’m leaving it here for your consideration.

    Raymond’s a pretty perceptive guy. He’s the one who invented the term “kafkatrap,” so he clearly understands the modes of attack involved. In this case however he’s missed the boat. His post would have more traction had it been written in 1964 about the New Wave. Raymond understands the thinking involved but never crosses that gap to who it is doing the thinking. “Iain Banks”? Iain Banks has nothing to do with this.

    I’m not really surprised. Although the attackers have been around for decades, since the ’70s at least, they were previously thought so nuts no one really paid much attention to them. It’s a new thing in SFF – with race added – really only dating back to “Racefail” in 2009 – a scant 5 years. It hides under the rubric of “diversity,” and yes, liberalism.

    I am constantly amazed at how often the people in SFF attacking so-called conservatives specifically use the term “intersectional” contrasted with how much the people being attacked never use the term. And when I say never I mean never.

    Even with the bald-face evidence plainly in front of them, those under assault still don’t realize who and what is attacking them or why. The idea this is liberal vs. conservative carries no weight. If you thought of it more as “conservatives” (intersectionalspeak for white straight male) being an obsessive focus in the same way Jews and black folks are with the American Nazi Party, you’d be right on the money. This is about race and gender and supremacy, not politics. It has nothing to do with politics, nor literary jealousies and “status envy.” It’s all about identity – one’s race and gender – and what that gives and takes away. They’re only screaming it on Twitter and blogs every single day.

    This is about a cadre of racists and bigoted sexists leading naive morons who see themselves as analogues to superheroes, the criminal justice system and law enforcement, the so-called “social justice warrior.” It’s about sheer hatred mainstreamed into reasonability, even nobility. Jim Hines and his inquisitions are the literal embodiment of the useful idiot baring his throat.

    When the former president of the SFWA John Scalzi is literally asking you to “bone up” on intersectionalism and Damien Walters is leading a witchhunt against Larry Correia with the later admonition to “Google ‘intersectional’,” and the main leader N.K. Jemisin is quoting Flavia Dzoden “My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullsh-t,” it’s not exactly a murder mystery. More than anyone else Scalzi opened the door to this racist cult, gave it credibility, wrote about “white privilege.”

    With cannon pointing towards the sea that cannot be turned around, expect a lot of splashing with little result. In 106 comments at ESR’s blog the word “intersectional” is not used once, and I have no idea what those commenters are even thinking about.

    The people opposing you don’t hate Golden Age SF because of what was in it, since they routinely lie about what’s in it, and in fact don’t even know. They hate it because heterosexual ethnic European men wrote it. And that’s it in a nutshell – game, set and match. Straight white male equal homophobia, racism and sexism in the same way supremacists believe Jew equals greed and blacks crime. This is very, very simple and very, very fundamental.

  106. . It is entirely possible that they are pricing ebooks at a loss, in order to maximize total quantity of sales in some fashion.

    Really hard for me to believe the ebooks as a class are selling at anything close to marginal cost.

    I doubt that there is a major expense in acquiring the first item so as to make either first item or average total cost so great as to make current pricing – which I do believe is well below marginal cost – anything but worthwhile for Amazon.

    I am not addressing optimal revenue maximizing pricing rather suggesting that without very precise and complete data (extraordinary claims maybe do demand extraordinary evidence) I do believe Amazon is at least satisficing.

    And of course despite all the lies of economics where all the functions are smooth well behaved everywhere differentiable – costing for Amazon has to be notchy – if they sell just a few too many then the servers will give trouble and server farm expenses are not smooth continuous everywhere differentiable – though they can be well behaved over a large range. Maybe even server costs for Kindle and e-books are lost in the noise of other sales and cloud functions for all I know.

    Is there some reason to think the marginal cost to Amazon of selling an e-book is very much at all? I’d expect just showing me all my recommendations and other people bought and looked at this and that would be about as costly as selling me a one click ebook. I suspect Amazon has been happy to get my eyeballs for the cost of free samples – but maybe Amazon has been unhappy with free samples and I don’t know it?.

  107. “(I thought “entrenched power structure” would give it away…)”

    Yeah, that combined with “arguments from so-called “data” contradict the obvious truths we already know,” and “an organization such as Hachette which has no loyalties other than to its authors.” were dead giveaways for me. I’m kinda surprised Vox apparently was snookered.

  108. Really hard for me to believe the ebooks as a class are selling at anything close to marginal cost.

    My apologies. “Selling at a loss” was the wrong thing to say. I meant to say something like “selling at a price point that does not maximize revenue”.

  109. If my comments get moderated and released (well, my one other comment and this one) I wanted to say…

    It’s not that Amazon has paper books for lower prices than book stores, it’s that Amazon has paper books. Period. IME, it doesn’t matter what book store I walk into with it’s wonderful ambiance and thrilling rows of book shelves full of book smells, light and color. Because that initial experience of walking in is almost invariably followed by frustration and upset because they *don’t have books*… Not the one I want, anyway. Not the author I want. Not ever anything I’m looking for.

    I bought ebooks from Baen for my desktop computer when I had to go to Baen.com to do it… still do.

    I buy lots and lots of books from Barnes and Noble on my Nook because it’s super easy, just a couple of buttons and an internet connection and there you go. It’s not prices, it’s that more people have a Kindle and that’s just as easy.

    It *should be* trivially easy to connect to Hatchette and buy ebooks…. or to Tor… or to Penguin…

    But nevermind ebooks… I’m talking about paper books and how Amazon has them but Barnes and Noble doesn’t. But, you say, Barnes and Noble can order them for you just like you can order them from Amazon. Or at least, that’s what Barnes and Noble employees always helpfully offer once I’ve already not-found my book or favorite author and am completely annoyed.

    I’m actually planning to stop at Barnes and Noble this afternoon to look for a book by an author I’m likely to see at Bubonicon this weekend. She writes Romace, so the booksellers there won’t have it. Will Barnes and Noble have her newly released book? The publishing date is July 1st. She’s a “best seller” with a dozen novels. And I’ll say this… I’ve got no expectations. I’ve got hope enough to bother walking through those doors to look, but if I actually find the book I’m going to be shocked.

    And if they don’t have it, the helpful employees will offer to order it for me. No… just… no.

  110. I still don’t know where the thing about Asians comes from.

    And, let’s be honest, nothing I said to Drow was particularly offensive.

  111. Fail Burton: Your post was the first time I’ve ever encountered the word “intersectional”. Is there an explanation of it in non-SJW-PC terms?

  112. In short, “intersectional” means “belonging to multiple Official Victim Groups at the same time.” Perhaps the most common example would be a black lesbian (three groups).

  113. Andrew, if you will let us publish NOCTURNE and provide the artwork for the cover, we will publish it on our standard terms without changing one single word. It’s that perfect.

    Don’t hide your light. Your talent should be shining for all the world to see.

  114. Fail, not bad except for one thing; they, writ rather largely and inclusively, are trying to harness both government and private organizations to advance a particular agenda to remake society in a particular way or, rather, set of ways. That _is_ political, not least when _everything_ is political.

  115. @ Tom Kratman

    An exception; military SF has, like the militaries it portrays, a very strong collectivist streak. It would, I think, be very hard to write Mil SF that wasn’t collectivist.

    It can be done with the proper techbase, simply have each { unit | division | task force } (choose as appropriate) be a single sophont distributed across numerous war machines.

  116. It’s better than anything else published by Castalia, I’ll say that.

    But your cover artists are all terrible.

    Intersectional is just more bullshit invented terminology.

  117. >(Also, Eric—what was that you said about which side “have the best stylists”? ;-) )

    Yeah, O.K., Wright is an exception. Still, the means of the distributions….

  118. “Don’t hide your light. Your talent should be shining for all the world to see.”

    Now, _I’ve_ got a mean streak, but that’s just damned cruel.

  119. “It can be done with the proper techbase, simply have each { unit | division | task force } (choose as appropriate) be a single sophont distributed across numerous war machines.”

    Are they alone in independent theaters or are they part of a group? If the former, they are piled on by other collective sophonts, employing principle of war, Mass.. If the latter they are collective, themselves. Is there no possibility of the sophont being killed? That is neither war nor military. Is there a possibility? Then there is an administrative machinery behind him to replace him. Are the war machines Bolo- or Ratha-like? They are a collective.

    Have any examples you can point to?

  120. >An exception; military SF has, like the militaries it portrays, a very strong collectivist streak. It would, I think, be very hard to write Mil SF that wasn’t collectivist.

    You raise an interesting point.

    Is it collectivist to observe that individualist societies have to be defended by specialist institutions which in some important ways invert individualist values? I think this is a real question, I’m not asking it rhetorically. I’m inclined to think the answer is “no”, but I’m open to reasoned argument for “yes”.

    I don’t think Starship Troopers is a collectivist argument. I can imagine a mutation of it that would be – say, if Johnny Rico’s future both (a) had a draft, and (b) exalted the collectivist, authority/submission aspect of military service rather than the moral choice to put your own body at risk to defend your society.

  121. Well, it’s true, of course, that Wright has never yet clad a character in a purple sequined survival suit, nor doubly captured brilliant beads of (did I neglect to say, “captive”?) golden sunlight, at night, in factories devoid of life, for that night. And his unwillingness to have characters ask things like, “What are your names, wayfarers….”

    AH, Hell; I just can’t go on; it’s too goddamned ridiculous and pathetic.

  122. Really Mr. Kratman? How often do you see these folks invoke the name of Iain Banks compared to Octavia Butler or Joanna Russ as either artistically or politically equal? By your reckoning, they all three should occupy an equal space. They don’t – not even close. You’re barking up the wrong tree. There’s nothing there. In this war, to these people, Iain Banks is nobody from nowhere, by virtue of identity.

    Jay Maynard: Exhibit A.

  123. It feels like some participants in a long-running private feud have shown up here to continue fighting one another….

  124. “It’s better than anything else published by Castalia, I’ll say that. But your cover artists are all terrible.”

    I’m willing to let you do the cover. You can even do the titling if you wish, or one of our terrible cover artists will do it, subject to your approval of course. I’m totally serious. If you want to be break into print, I will absolutely make that happen. I will not change a thing. Your words, your cover.

    Surely you are not so afraid of failure that you’ll turn down a legitimate publishing deal!

  125. “It feels like some participants in a long-running private feud have shown up here to continue fighting one another….”

    Fighting? This is the ultimate extension of the olive branch here! ESR has convinced me that someone has to bridge this impasse.

  126. …purple…sequined…survival…suit.

    Anyone who knows anything about me knows to what lengths I’m willing to go for the sake of a costume.

    That? NFW.

  127. Wright is just overwrought and pretentious.

    But I’m sure you’re willing to tolerate that as long as it comes from one of your own.

  128. “Is it collectivist to observe that individualist societies have to be defended by specialist institutions which in some important ways invert individualist values?”

    That’s not quite the question I raised, which concerned merely that collectivist is how military organizations are and must be if they’re to prevail. Science fiction, alleged to be military, that doesn’t address this or approach it from that direction is probably better called “fantasy.”

    Note: The POUM were pretty individualistic, I understand. They didn’t win. One has ones doubts that a truly individualistic society can or will imbue the necessary attitudes and outlooks to permit that collectivism within the military that they must, in a real world, have. Said a bit differently, all the really important training that soldiers get they take in with mother’s milk. If they don’t get it then, they never will.

    A proper military has a mix. It is collectivist to the extent that, “Yeah, Joe, you _are_, in fact, just a piece of expendible, organic machinery that we will use up in a heartbeat to further the mission and the pabulum we deliver to the press and your mommy is just that.” But a military beaten into an intellectual and moral deadzone is worthless, compared to one that retains individual initiative and innovativeness, plus determination that arises from inside the soldier. That, by the way, is one of the objections to the single sophont commanding multiple war machine memes, above; that two sophonts commanding half as many each are likely to be more effective, and a one for one ratio may well be most effective of all.

  129. I can’t see any reason for them to of necessity occupy an equal plain. I’m willing to listen to how it is or would be or should be necessary, however.

  130. >Fail Burton: Your post was the first time I’ve ever encountered the word “intersectional”. Is there an explanation of it in non-SJW-PC terms?

    I believe “intersectionalism” unpacks as “Your place in the pecking order is defined by checking off as many categories of putative oppression on your victimological bingo card as you can find or invent.” Thus, for example, a transsexual woman of color can pull rank on a mere trans woman or colored woman or colored transsexual of either sort.

    Wikipedia says, accurately enough, “Intersectionality (or intersectionalism) is the study of intersections between forms or systems of oppression, domination or discrimination. An example is black feminism, which argues that the experience of being a black female cannot be understood in terms of being black, and of being female, considered independently, but must include the interactions, which frequently reinforce each other.”

    It fails to mention that you get extra status-gimme points (and, often, tenure) for inventing new categories of oppression. Otherwise it’s a sort of extended bitch-fight over who gets to whine “You cannot possibly understand mah experiunz” and trump everyone else in the most-victimized-person sweepstakes. Almost impossibly ludicrous to watch from the outside.

  131. “An exception; military SF has, like the militaries it portrays, a very strong collectivist streak. It would, I think, be very hard to write Mil SF that wasn’t collectivist.”

    @tom what? That combined arms crap? Too communist. Army of one!

  132. Another way to look at that, FB, is that I think your observations and mine are orthagonal to each other. I’m not sure we’re occupying the same conceptual universe here.

  133. Fail Burton: what is Exhibit A? Your post? One of Tom Kratman’s? (Although, from what I’m gathering as the meaning of “intersectional”, Kratman cannot, a priori, qualify.)

  134. I’m still boggling over “purple sequined survival suit”.

    I’m also gathering that the truly purple stuff is the prose in which this is described.

  135. >That’s not quite the question I raised, which concerned merely that collectivist is how military organizations are and must be if they’re to prevail.

    OK, we have different scopes in mind for the term “collectivist” then, and not really an argument.

    To me, the phrase “collectivist SF” implies literature which is not merely realistic about institutions organized for collective action and self-sacrifice. I think it has to be making an argument about ultimate values and the proper relationship of the individual to society.

  136. Why not, Jay? I’m Irish, Gypsy, Jewish, and Black. That’s all four of the most screwed with minorities in human history. I’ve got this whole “check your privledge” nonsense _nailed_!

  137. @ LS

    “Both sides are actually united in their vast overestimation of their own importance”

    How can that be, when one side takes itself seriously with a jaw-clenched, white-lipped furious piety of seriousness, and the other side pretends to be supervillains from a sing-along blog or Gotham City?

    In the column, ESR specifically mentions the lack of sobriety on the one side and the grim sobriety of the other. One is tempted to suspect you did not read the column

    You should perhaps be less quick to play the moral equivalency card.

  138. Scope! That was the word I was grasping for! (“Survival cancels programming…”…oh, wait, wrong show…)

    To some extent, though, the argument is still there, even if it’s not central or stressed. As I mentioned, the individualist society, qua individualist society, is unlikely to impart the right attitudes to create forces that can defend that society. You can go some distance down that ropad, of course, but there is a mile too far and a turn too many beyond which the society becomes incapable of self defense and probably is destroyed. There is, of course, the special caste of defenders approach, but they’re ultimately probably no more trustworthy than any other group of mercenaries.

  139. Ah, but, Tom, the first three of those are not PC-approved minorities that are victims of the white male cisnormative heterosexual oppressors. Only the latter, and you can’t have an intersection with just one item.

  140. That was a joke, by the way. In fact though, who wins these things is not the person with the most blocks checked, it is the person who is most willing to raise their voice, to be aggresive and intimidating (and I assure you, I have _those_ nailed, too), the one who is most shameless in argument, most heartless and ruthless.

    They don’t havbe a chance. hehehe

  141. > I mean, this is the Kratman who wrote self-insert fanfiction

    That’s, what, the new politically-correct, non-heteronormative replacement for “Mary Sue?”

  142. By the way, I am confused here. How does one self insert in fan fiction in a universe of one’s own creation? Is it necessary to be a fan of oneself? Is that still even fan fiction? Or have the (perhaps radioactive) purple sequined survival suits damaged Andrew’s brain?

  143. >They don’t havbe a chance. hehehe

    You poor, doomed fool. You have not yet realized the most important rule: heterosexual white males can never raise their status above zero. The only way they can even get to zero is by abject groveling before the idols of PC. If you try arguing that your intersectionality earns you any positive rank, this will be interpreted as “microaggression” and lower your status.

  144. It’s not a question of a conceptual universe, Mr. Kratman, but who the actual individuals within SFF are who attack you the most and what dogma they most subscribe to. The three words most used in their attack rhetoric are “straight,” “white” and “male.” They are not angry with you about how bridges and highways should be funded, foreign policy or the environment. They are racial and gender supremacists, and you are the wrong race and gender. At best you could qualify as an “ally” if you would only kowtow and avert your eyes enough. You are on the wrong end of diversity, history and every other wrong end the world has ever seen. It is you who are the target of their racial revenge fantasies that take up entire anthologies like Long Hidden and We See A Different Frontier. It was you who was the focus of “If You Were a Dinosaur My Love” and Vylar Kaftan’s white West turned upside-down alt-history, “The Weight of the Sunrise,” both liberal racial revenge fantasies and both Nebula winners.

    The other side of that is the gender-pumping supremacist blog post nominated for a Hugo this year by the never-ending gay feminist anger of Kameron Hurley: We Have Always Fought. You’re a military historian. You know when a flat tire is having air pumped into it. That’s supremacy, plain and simple. In fact the worst violators of the supremacy, racism and sexism intersectionalists in SFF never shut up about are themselves.

    It is your very race and gender they laughed at after the Nebulas this year, not politics. “No mas white men.” They commonly assert Golden Age SF amounted to a tacit sexist KKK. They commonly assert Golden Age SF used aliens as proxies for black folks and then made fun of them and that SF is founded on colonialism. Since those are all lies, it reveals more about what they want to believe than reality. This is not politics, unless hate is politics.

  145. Fail Burton: Ah, but to the Left, hate IS politics. And vice versa.

  146. Ah, but I don’t do _micro_aggression.

    It’s a good illustration of the way they think, though, until confronted with genuine terror.

  147. I mean this kindly, Fail; I do not think you understand what politics is. You seem wrapped up in the lowest level of tactical, without understanding their higher levels of operational, strategic, policy and instinct (which often trumps the others).

    It doesn’t matter what they laugh at or what they self-congratulate about nor even the techniques and tactics employed. The goals and ends are what matter.

    I think.

  148. I did a search and saw nothing about sequins.

    And you wrote this brilliant dialogue, right here.
    “That without it, the pact, the dhimma, we are in a state of war, of holy war, of jihad with you and yours.”

  149. The most touted SF novel in PC-land this year was the transgender-pandering and multi-award-winning debut novel Ancillary Justice by the routinely bizarre Ann Leckie. She wrote a post where she compared America to a restaurant where non-whites, women and gays get punched in the face by white cis men. And just to make sure she made her point she puts “white straight cis guy,” “white straight cis guys,” “non-white, non-cis, non-straight, non-guys,” “white straight cis guys,” “white straight cis guys,” “white, straight, cis dude” all in that one post. Politics? Leftism? Liberalism? How about racial and sexual bigotry and supremacism? Change a couple words around and that post could’ve come off of any white supremacist site.

  150. @tom LOL is that a M48A3 at 55 seconds?

    Hollywood has always been one of the best recruiting platforms…although it seems the Navy gets Top Gun and the Army gets Black Hawk Down…

    But hey, the use of America’s Army as a recruiting tool was brilliant. I remember at some event where they had set it up so you could play while sitting in a humvee.

  151. Well, Mr. Kratman, if they laugh at your ideas for building a bridge as opposed to your skin color I’d imagine those are not the same thing nor with the same goals. The disparate goals of how to fund a bridge or address groundwater consumption doesn’t put people in concentration camps or create Jim Crow. I may not understand politics but you don’t seem to understand what an empty tree is. Stare at it all you like – there’s nothing there to bark at. A strange thing for a tactician to do while Jackson’s taking your flank.

    I’ll make this remark for context: in the history of SFF from 1912-70, there are not 5 writers who subscribed to a similar formal racist and sexist supremacist ideology as just the five Nebula winners from 2014 alone, who are all intersectionalists. That’s a pretty startling contrast given the PC in SFF claim the exact opposite is the case.

  152. I think it’s pretty silly to claim that the rabbits are style without substance. Charles Stross, Cory Doctorow, Iain Banks, or Ken MacLeod come to mind as clear counterexamples (yes, 3 of the 4 live in Scotland).

    Likewise, the main issue I have with the League of Evil is not with their politics–however unappetising I may find the religious proselitism either–but their tendency to write superficial SF, not in the sense of bad characterisation or the likely critiques from the stylist viewpoint, but SF which doesn’t deliver much of a conceptual breakthrough. I mean, let’s be real here: Correia’s novels may be entertaining (I’ve read a couple) but literature of ideas they are not. There’s too much chasin’, shootin’ and explodin’, and too little scientific content, speculation, and extrapolation. If we’re condemned to the victory of one of the sides, I’ll stick to the rabbits. They can write, and in my experience I will get more meaty SF from them than from their opposition.

  153. David, are the rabbits everyone who isn’t in the League of Evil? If so, I suppose I’m one. But it seems to me any attempt to divide the field in two is going to fail for anyone who isn’t binarian by nature.

  154. Well, on L. Correia’s blog, self-identified liberals defend him. Janis Ian is a life-time member of the SFWA and gay activist feminist. She signed the Truesdale petition. So if your tactics are to attack liberals, it’s the wrong target and the wrong divide in SFF. Liberals might be half the country. The intersectionalists who drive this ideology are probably statistical zero of all Americans. They hide within liberalism because its anti-oppression narratives of feminism, gay and Civil Rights make for excellent camouflage.

  155. Will Shetterly:

    Agree that defining who belongs to these sets is problematic, but the 4 potential rabbits I named have expressed their sympathy for the rabbit cause, or their repulsion for the league of evil’s views, and have inserted people with unusual sexualities and the like in their books, for whatever that’s worth–I’m not overly concerned about how people decide to get sexual pleasure, but this seems to be rather important to the extreme fractions on both coalitions.

    It’s definitely the case though that, with respect to people like Kratman (whose Centurion I read recently), the evilists don’t right the deepest SF around. They also are often guilty of poor style and unsubtle political pushing–I’ve nothing against politics or message, but do it subtly and well–in their works. Maybe it’s more visible to someone who doesn’t share their politics, of course.

  156. “and have inserted people with unusual sexualities and the like in their books, for whatever that’s worth”

    Hell, I’ve done that, David, and more than once and in more than one book.

  157. “I’m willing to let you do the cover. You can even do the titling if you wish, or one of our terrible cover artists will do it, subject to your approval of course. I’m totally serious. If you want to be break into print, I will absolutely make that happen. I will not change a thing. Your words, your cover.

    Surely you are not so afraid of failure that you’ll turn down a legitimate publishing deal!”

    Very clever, Mr VD.

    If his pretentious prose is profoundly pleasing, people will be falling all over themselves in the rush to acquire his magnum opus, or
    writing instructors get it added to their college curriculum as a “don’t do this” instructional aid.

    Either way, you’ll sell a ton of books. Bravo!

  158. Um…could you shoot me a copy of _my_ Centurion, David? Since I haven’t written it I could get a real head start by having a copy that’s already done and edited.

  159. Tom Kratman on 2014-07-31 at 18:39:54 said:

    “Um…could you shoot me a copy of _my_ Centurion, David? Since I haven’t written it I could get a real head start by having a copy that’s already done and edited.”

    Silly Lt. Colonel. Everyone knows you’re really John Ringo’s sock puppet. Even if there are pictures of you both in the same room at the same time. They faked the moon landing, didn’t they? :-)

  160. Tom Kratman:

    Oops, apologies, _the last centurion_ is by Ringo.

    I’m not sure if I’ve read anything yours then. (Checks library.) Yes, I’ve read Caliphate. Again, very unsubtly political, in my view, aside from what to me looks the ridiculous Eurabia hypothesis (I’m sure it’s not ridiculous to others, that’s what politics is like).

    I can’t say that Caliphate is particularly strong as SF either. Not much scientific content or extrapolation, and yes, I acknowledge extrapolating a Caliphate in Europe counts. Seems more of an adventure story that happens to be set in some semi-plausible future than SF as such.

  161. @SBP

    “What does “exclusive” actually mean?
    Who will be selling my book?

    Exclusive to ACX means your finished audiobook will be sold only through Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. Any audiobook made using ACX will be distributed through these online retailers. Note that Audible has an exclusive relationship with iTunes (i.e. to get your product into iTunes’ audiobook store, you have to go through Audible).”

    http://www.acx.com/help/distribution/200474580

    Which part of that last sentence implies that iTunes is an audible competitor?

    Bowing out while you’re behind is a good strategy if you can’t keep up with the discussion. LOL.

    I like amazon and I’m a prime member. That doesn’t mean they get a free pass when they are fucking with a market I care about.

    The agency model was a good deal for consumers and suppliers in the long run as long as the price point is high enough for authors and publishers to survive.

    If Tom didn’t get to do Watch on the Rhine and Yellow Eyes with Ringo (I presume because of Baen) I wouldn’t have read anything that followed by him because I don’t have time to slog through indies trying to find good ones.

    Of course, I mentioned to ESR that I thought that needing SS rejuvs to teach the Bunderwher to fight was probably was the thing that most challenged my suspension of disbelief in that series…

  162. David, I’m beginning to think we’re in fandom’s world war, because sides are forming from very different groups. ESR began this post with two groups, fandom’s social justice warriors who hate anyone who doesn’t subscribe to identity politics and the conservative/libertarian League of Evil. Now you’ve added Stross, Doctorow, Banks, and MacLeod. I haven’t followed the SJWs closely, but I’ve followed them more closely than most writers because I was among their first targets. I haven’t noticed Stross, Doctorow, Banks, or MacLeod saying anything that struck me as especially identitarian. I have seen some of them object to VD calling Jemisin names after she called him names, but preferring people to treat each other with respect doesn’t make you an identitarian, as I hope most right-libertarians and conservatives would agree.

    Off-hand, I don’t know of any socialists among the SJWs. The socialists disagree with the politics of the League of Evil, but they don’t call for banning them or expelling them from SFWA, nor do they spend time promoting intersectionality because for a socialist, social class is more important than social identity.

  163. >Hell, I’ve done that, David, and more than once and in more than one book.

    Besides your tributes to your number one fan?

    >They also are often guilty of poor style and unsubtle political pushing–I’ve nothing against politics or message, but do it subtly and well–in their works. Maybe it’s more visible to someone who doesn’t share their politics, of course.

    There’s never a need to justify taste, but to us on the league side, the same deficits you find in League fiction, we find present with Orthodox fiction alongside a nag’s tendency to lecture on what we should and shouldn’t read and think. Maybe it’s more visible to someone who doesn’t share that New York state of mind, of course.

    Please compare and contrast the calls for diversity, ending non-binary gender, etc. with Sarah Hoyt’s Human Wave Manifesto:

    “Because we are rebelling against enforced conformity of style and opinion, of belief and ideology, this list is not “[thou] shalt nots” but “You’re allowed to.”

    Considering that a common criticism of the Orthodox (Pink, Rabbit, whatever) novellas and short stories of the Hugos is that “the work might be good but where’s the SF?,” I have to ask, what ideas? The genre’s done much to kill the sense of wonder over the last few years. Why else would there be a Human Wave Manifesto, Stephenson’s Project Hieroglyph, Ringo’s Troy Rising series, or the rest of the attempts to recapture that sense of wonder and the broad vision exhibited in the past?

  164. “An A5, I think, the upgraded version with the 105.”

    Geez. Why would you put that in a recruiting video? Who had those still?

    I guess no one but a mil-geek would notice.

    From that weird time period I remember an interview with some ranger officer. The reporter asked him what was the difference between the rangers and the rest of the army and he gave some motherhood and apple pie spiel about how awesome the rangers were but how they were part of the bigger army. The reporter asked if there were any other significant differences and he replied “well…we get tan berets”.

  165. I am often accused of unsubtlety, David, and the charge is often true. However, a) it isn’t always true and b) where it is true it is sometimes camouflage. For example (and leaving aside silly and ignorant observations from yama/chlamydia/ luscinia about 13 year olds who had never held a gun missing a moving target; he has issues with reading comprehension and very limited experience of life), in Caliphate is Buckman, his shade standing in the background, a good guy? What is the intervening event that creates the Caliphate? Is it Islam portrayed or is it the lunatics’ version of Islam? Is is improbable that the lunatics would take over completely, given that 1200 or so megaton intevening event? Do you imagine there’s no reason why, at some time or another, every significant character says some version of, “What a shitty world”? Are there no good Muslims portrayed? Are there no evil non-muslims portrayed or, at least, characterized from a distance?

    Somewhat differently, look for who are the conservatives in the ADCP series, should you ever decide to read it, and who are the revolutionaries, the ones who overthrow corrupt oligarchies and introduce at least limited socialism. Or what is the party of the heroine of ASOD and which dumb shits started the chain of events that led to the trouble?

    If you do all that, you might then ask yourself about your side’s fixation with words as opposed to deeds.

  166. We did, back then. You found a lot of 48s, upgunned and upgraded, around the Army until maybe the late 80s. The video came from 89, IIRC and they were still around then, too. I _think_ they stayed in Korea well into te 90s, because the local bridges could take them but not an M1.

  167. @tom from a post stuck in moderation (why I have no clue) which means I’ll forget to ask again:

    “If Tom didn’t get to do Watch on the Rhine and Yellow Eyes with Ringo (I presume because of Baen) I wouldn’t have read anything that followed by him because I don’t have time to slog through indies trying to find good ones.

    Of course, I mentioned to ESR that I thought that needing SS rejuvs to teach the Bunderwher to fight was probably was the thing that most challenged my suspension of disbelief in that series…”

    So I’ve been meaning to ask since you showed up here…wtf was that about?

  168. >They very rarely make a profit, focusing on growth and market share instead.

    Errr…. where do you think the money for that growth comes from?

    Just because they’re plowing their revenue into growth rather than booking it as a profit doesn’t mean they’re actually “losing money” in any sense other than on paper. Yes, they often book a small paper loss, and occasionally book a small paper profit. That’s by design.

  169. Nathan:

    If the League can write closer to what for me is the SF core (cool ideas, consistent worldbuilding, conceptual breakthrough) I’ll be a lot more interested, but it’s all a bit too “things that go boomb” for my liking. Which again is just about my liking, and for all I know may be what makes it commercially successful, inasmuch as it is.

    I love Neal Stephenson’s writing and I hope his Project Hieroglyph pans out. I think Anathem must be one of the best books of the last 50 years at least. I’m absolutely certain people will be reading it by the end of the century.

  170. For those of you who want even more context, try the blog of SF author M. J. Locke (Laura Mixon). She’s the wife of current president of the SFWA Steven Gould. Her post “Patriarch’s Day” is one of the damnedest things you’ll ever read in a culture that’s routinely over the top. I’ll give you 3 guesses who the bad guys are. Time’s up. Her remark about “unconscious bias on the part of men/whites” is a brilliant bit of Orwellian doublethink coming from an anti-racist anti-sexist in a post full of such wonders.

  171. I answered that on the other thread. The short version is a) _why_ would you confuse my opinion with the opinion of a rejuved Waffen SS general? If anything, it should have strained your suspension of disbelief if Muehlenkampf had rendered a positive opinion of the Bundeswehr and b) they’re not used to trained the BW to fight; they’re used as a core cadre for a single corps, while c) there are aspects of war that never change; this is why having a combat experienced cadre is generally if not always a good thing.

  172. In other words, you’ve got nothing, Yama, except a vast sense of unfairness that no one recognizes your brilli….yeah, again I just can’t carry through with that.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    Ha.

  173. I can’t speak to the other examples, but Troy Rising is there because John Ringo wanted to write Howard Tayler into a book.

  174. David,

    May I suggest John C Wright’s “Awake in the Night Land” and Count to the Eschaton series as two of the best big idea works on the Heterodox/Human Wave side? And if you don’t mind, I’d be willing to take a few suggests from you. I’m always looking for more reading material, even if it is from the Orthodox side.

  175. @David,
    > … have inserted people with unusual sexualities and the like in their books, for whatever that’s worth … this seems to be rather important to the extreme fractions on both coalitions.

    Oddly enough this isn’t actually that indicative, so of the four “overlords” of the ELoE, Wright and Vox Day are both fairly strongly anti-gay, but Hoyt’s most recent book has a bisexual main character, and both Correia and Hoyt have openly stated their support of gay marriage on their blogs.

  176. No need to apologize; the names are on the covers that way because Jim Baen wanted them that way for marketing purposes and negected to tell us in advance (lest we raise a stink).

  177. Uhm, Tom, if you’ve never written a book with John Ringo, what’s The Tuloriad, chopped liver?

    FWIW, that’s the one Posleen book I have no intention of rereading. The Christian message was just a bit too heavy-handed for the taste of this atheist.

  178. Hmm, I’ll give a few suggestions:

    Ventus, by Karl Schroeder.

    Saturn’s Children, and Neptune’s Brood, by Stross.

    Intrusion, or The Night Sessions, by Ken MacLeod.

    The Orthogonal series by Greg Egan (when’s the last one coming out? I want it now!)

    Echopraxia by Peter Watts. May need Blindsight as background.

    There, now I’ve put my faves out you can all tell me what an appalling taste I have ;-)

  179. Okay, I just saw a 722 THOUSAND place jump in standings for paperback Caliphate. Since here is where it’s being discussed; gentlemen and/or ladies, you can cancel those orders. It’s a free bloody download, just look for it.

  180. Tom, it’s free money. Shhhh. Some of us believe in supporting our favorite authors so they can put out more of the stuff we like.

  181. I started Saturn’s Chidren with great good will. (Stross detests me but, meh; who cares? It’s not like I don’t put a certain effort into my hobby of pissing of, by pissing on, the left, after all.) I really liked Freya enormously…right up until the point where the book just lost me. I went back to the last point where it still had me and started over, on the theory that the problem might be in me. Didn’t work. I tried again. Still didn’t work. Gave it up as a bad job.

    But that doesn’t mean that the problem isn’t with me. I think people should give it a fair shake and try it, at least..

  182. @tom. Ah. I missed your response. Just read it. Thx.

    This is not the easiest place to keep track of older conversations. :)

    I guess the confusion was that they seemed to acquit themselves well in the earlier stories.

    FWIW: Regarding the names on the cover it worked on me. With three kids I tend to grab books from authors I already know ill like. It’s limiting but it’ll be that way for a while aside from grabbing the odd recommended book from ESR.

  183. I rather liked Accelerando and Iron Sunrise, though the former skirted with my outer limit of weird tolerance.

  184. “I can’t speak to the other examples, but Troy Rising is there because John Ringo wanted to write Howard Tayler into a book.”

    For a setting, yes, but the core of the first book (the logistics one) was “Ozymandias was insufficiently ambitious” and “humanity might be insignificant compared to the universe but look at what we did so maybe we’re not so insignificant after all.” (I’m looking for the interview where he stated this.) Unfortunately, after that, the series lost focus.

  185. “That without it, the pact, the dhimma, we are in a state of war, of holy war, of jihad with you and yours.”
    is redundant AND he’s pretty much defining the words as he says them AND it sounds unnatural.

    But seriously, in what world is Kratman’s dialogue good?

  186. Me playing around in his world, Jay. We tried to write a book together. Didn’t work for me. So I wrote what I wanted, Watch, Yellow Eyes, and The Tuloriad, in the Posverse. After Baen tricked us the first time, and showed no reluctance to continue in that vein, I insisted John add something to the next two, so that we wouldn’t be vicarious liars.

    You’re possibly reading a Christian message, qua Christian message, in it that’s really not there. A bit like Alex What’s’er’name’s transgendernoncisnormatiative…ah, screw it. Religion is there. It’s unlikely to go away. Whether there is or is not a divinity, religion still has power and effect. Yes, any serious religion.

  187. You’re still an idiot, Yama. It’s a way, a perfectly economical and effective way, of explaning what something is, where it comes from, and what it means.

  188. Hmmmm…is that the problem?

    I am often accused of unsubtlety, David, and the charge is often true. However, a) it isn’t always true and b) where it is true it is sometimes camouflage. For example (and leaving aside silly and ignorant observations from yama/chlamydia/ luscinia about 13 year olds who had never held a gun missing a moving target; he has issues with reading comprehension and very limited experience of life), in Caliphate is Buckman, his shade standing in the background, a good guy? What is the intervening event that creates the Caliphate? Is it Islam portrayed or is it the lunatics’ version of Islam? Is is improbable that the lunatics would take over completely, given that 1200 or so megaton intevening event? Do you imagine there’s no reason why, at some time or another, every significant character says some version of, “What a sh**ty world”? Are there no good Muslims portrayed? Are there no evil non-muslims portrayed or, at least, characterized from a distance?

    Somewhat differently, look for who are the conservatives in the ADCP series, should you ever decide to read it, and who are the revolutionaries, the ones who overthrow corrupt oligarchies and introduce at least limited socialism. Or what is the party of the heroine of ASOD and which dumb sh*ts started the chain of events that led to the trouble?

    If you do all that, you might then ask yourself about your side’s fixation with words as opposed to deeds.

  189. >The Orthogonal series by Greg Egan (when’s the last one coming out? I want it now!)

    I read the first one, thought favorably of it, but I also found the scientific explanations tended to be an interruption to the story instead of working with it. I understand that the conclusions stemming from the differing assumptions behind the scientific laws were the point, but there’s talking to technical experts and there’s talking to the marketing team. Egan was talking to the experts in those sections, and I was more of the marketing crowd.

  190. What would you know about natural dialogue? It’s not what _you_ say when stalking Asian females? It wasn’t addressed to “Wayfarers?”

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    ha.

  191. Charles Stross, Cory Doctorow, Iain Banks, or Ken MacLeod

    Stross I’ll give you. Even though he appears to have lost his fastball, some of the short stories in Toast and Accelerando are nothing short of brilliant. And who wouldn’t like the Laundry novels? But what conceptual breakthroughs would you say the other three have to offer?

    I quite like Banks’s books and have read nearly all of both breeds, but his Culture strikes me as fundamentally crippled from a storytelling perspective and not much more than the Star Trek Federation with Q-like computers. What is the conceptual breakthrough there, a post-scarcity economy? MacLeod I don’t know and Doctorow bored me.

    If you like big ideas in SF, send me an email. I’ll send you an ebook of CITY BEYOND TIME, our most recently published book by John C. Wright. I think you will find it stacks up very well against the four writers you mentioned both stylistically and in terms of substance. And then keep in mind that his GOLDEN AGE, AWAKE IN THE NIGHT LAND, and COUNT TO A TRILLION are all even bigger concepts.

    Larry Correia is an action writer, that’s true, but do read Monster Hunter Nemesis. He took a big step forward there.

    “Both Correia and Hoyt have openly stated their support of gay marriage on their blogs.”

    Another difference of the ELoE and the rabbits is that we are MUCH more tolerant of diverse opinions within the group. This is because we spend zero time policing each others’ thoughts or speech. Every single member of the ELoE disagrees with me about something and has directly taken exception with me about it, sometimes rather loudly. But so what? We’re not mind clones or a right-wing hive mind.

  192. “I love Neal Stephenson’s writing and I hope his Project Hieroglyph pans out. I think Anathem must be one of the best books of the last 50 years at least.”

    I’m with you on that one, although I think the ending might prevent it from holding up well. I would seriously argue that REAMDE is the Great American Novel that people have been waiting for since Updike and Irving failed to ever come through.

    I might be wrong, but I can make a coherent argument to that effect. As with Umberto Eco, even his failures are better than most people’s successes.

  193. At least “What are your names, fellow wayfarers?” is what someone would actually say

    And what’s with the Asians? Okay, I guess Beris is Asian if he isn’t from Edirne or Kirklareli or the European part of Istanbul, and Tomo’s Asian.

  194. Especially after playing a lot of Final Fantasy XII and listening to Kayo Dot.

  195. What do you know? You think “That without it, the pact, the dhimma, we are in a state of war, of holy war, of jihad with you and yours.” is passable dialogue.

  196. That’s actually one of your more significant problems, Yama; you’re limited experience of life and people means you have essentially no idea how actual people, from different circumstances and backgrounds, are likely to speak about different things. And you’re either not bright enough, or not brave enough, or both, to get out and experience any of that and actually _learn_ something..

  197. > Because we are rebelling against enforced conformity of style and opinion

    Weed, tie-dyed bell-bottoms, flowered VW Microbuses, poor hygeine? Maaaann…

  198. And though I have tried to teach you a bit here and there – evidence for my future canonization hearings, to be sure – the miracle has eluded me. I cannot teach you to write or to think or to go out and find.

  199. I don’t think you could teach me to write, as you’re probably one of the worst published writers.

  200. By the way, since intellectual honesty is no more your forte than intelligence, experience, bravery, or the ability to write, it’s probably as well to give the entire passage:

    It is a tax collector speaking, a ruthless crud, who intends to take a beautiful little girl and sell her as a slave (so that stalkers and perverts like Yama can buy her, I suppose).

    ‘‘You realize, do you not, that the jizya is what permits you the status of dhimmis?
    That without it, without the pact, the dhimma, we are in a state of war, of holy war, of jihad with you and yours? That your lives are forfeit? Your property forfeit?’’

  201. I know you believe all that, Chlamydia, but the fact remains that I can make a living writing and you’re just a pathetic joke.

  202. Tom, you need that miracle, not just saintly efforts, to be canonized. Keep at it; maybe write the introduction to his book when Vox publishes it. 3:-)

  203. I for one appreciate Luscinia taking her time out from hiking the Inca Trail, climbing live volcanoes, motorcycling around Bali, documenting stirring revolutions, and sitting atop lost temples in roadless jungle to give us her cogent views.

  204. Tom,

    Thanks for your reply to my charge of being unsubtle. I’m not sure about what you meant regarding words and deeds, though I get the feeling it may not be addressed to me in particular.

    Maybe I should try your other works, I’ll try reading anything until I get bored. In my view Caliphate does present certain individual deviations from let’s say the stereotypes, but at the level of the societies presented there’s very little ambiguity. Now, sometimes that’s just how the world is, in reality or in a book, and that’s fine. It’s just not my preferences for things to read about, I tend to like conflicts where there’s something to be said for both (or the many) sides.

    I’ll give a shot to some of your other books and see how they’re like.

  205. Luscinia, I can easily hear an Islamist saying that passage. Why, it’s even literary.

  206. Ambiguity…if you mean good guys and bad guys, there are both, on both sides. If you mean good societies and bad ones, they both suck. It’s only in better results and worse results that things are somewhat unambigous, but even there the means to those results are usually unambiguous wretched.

    You might try the COUNTDOWN series, but there really aren’t any bad guys there until volume 3, just people doing the best they can with what they have to work with. Note, however, that COUNTDOWN is most certainly NOT sci fi.

  207. One of the reasons he can’t see that, Jay, may be his pro-Islam fixation. Perhaps that’s why he stalks Asian women, as well.

  208. VD:

    You ask me what conceptual breakthrough you get from Doctorow, MacLeod or Banks. Well, I’ll try.

    Doctorow: Whuffie. An economy based on reputation. I think that’s pretty unique, and though the framing of the story may be a little silly (Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom) the whole notion of an economy of attention is pretty big.

    For that matter, I think his For the Win is quite good about presenting the impact of gold farming and mechanical turk work. Though not as big.

    MacLeod’s Learning the World is, I think, pretty unique for a first contact story, and the approach to the semi-intelligent species is quite interesting. A flower for Lucretius, presents us with the what-if of actual moral, sinless human beings.

    Banks is really good. Yes, the Culture is post-scarcity, but the Culture isn’t the interesting part. From a Player of Games, showing a society defined by a game in a way that’s reasonably plausible, to the concept of virtual hells (people deciding to immanentise their theology by condemning their dead to live in eternal punishment if they sin), to pretty out there works like the Algebraist, which make us think about issue like what would it be like to be uncoercible? Banks is softer SF than Stross or even MacLeod, but still quite conceptual, imo.

  209. Well, Jay, it’s not as literary as this:

    The three of us holed up in an abandoned factory devoid of any life for the night

    Icicles held captive beads of brilliant golden sunlight.

    “Stay quiet,” I warned Ava. Her response was little more than a sullen glance. We were in a long hallway filled with junk and fallen chunks of the concrete roof. Icicles held captive beads of brilliant golden sunlight. ”

    It just kills me every time.

  210. Note, further, David, that I _am_ often unsubtle. Just don’t count on it or assume you know why I am unsubtle in any given case. Might be for any of a number of reasons or, sometimes, for no reason at all.

  211. “One of the reasons he can’t see that, Jay, may be his pro-Islam fixation. Perhaps that’s why he stalks Asian women, as well.”

    Those don’t even fit together. I mean, what the fuck?
    Also, you fail at copy-pasting.

  212. Obviously, dummy, and me observing that your comment on the quote was simply off, that your Shiekh of Araby fixation, and your stalking women, fit together well, given your diseased mind.

  213. If you could only see my facial expression right now.

    I’ve seen posts more coherent than yours by spambots.

  214. I have a title for Luscenia’s masterchunk: “The Goat in Hog’s Sty.”

  215. This thread is rapidly degenerating. Folks, please try to add to the conversation using intellectual arguments. Back-and-forth insults are tedious for the rest of us, so if that’s all you have to say, take it elsewhere.

  216. Yama, I am sure of little in this life. One thing, however, I am sure of is that your facial expressions aren’t of interest to me.

  217. >This thread is rapidly degenerating. Folks, please try to add to the conversation using intellectual arguments. Back-and-forth insults are tedious for the rest of us, so if that’s all you have to say, take it elsewhere.

    Agreed. Fail Burton and Tom: “Lucinia” is obviously an idiot, but you two should have higher standards. Kindly cease descending to its level, at least while on my blog.

  218. Its worse. The original problem is that pink “rabbit” SF was a warren so whatever dreck one of theirs emitted would get 5 stars. The response of the blues seems to be to give 5 stars to dreck from their side. My greatest disappointment was “Awake in the Nightlands”. First, Chapter 19 and 119 are nearly identical as in “pay per word, so copy 119’s text into 19 and do a bit of splicing”. Second, the 4th entry is full of typos and errors such as black holes have mass, spin, and angular momentum (er, don’t you mean “charge”), so it appears as if it was not edited or proofread.

    A further problem of this divisiveness is that you can’t tell any of the authors anything without being accused of being on the wrong side. There are long boring passages, or something that belongs in a different genre or maybe a separate work, or literary devices that might work but are out of place (think of Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Fawn in the middle of JS Bach). I can cite examples, mainly in the Blue side which I’ve given up on. They can either be blue or great, they’ve chosen the former.

    The first casualty in war is the truth, and the blue and pink sides have declared war.

  219. Message fiction, IF it exists, is ultimately in the eye of the beholder. To those authors with political ties to the right and the right, each equally is adept at pushing an agenda. Politically conservative authors tend to be more covert in their approach to champion “patriarchy”, while politically liberal authors are prone to openly pronounce “inclusion”. Both “Blue SF” and “Pink SF” are equal to the task at being crusaders cloaked as entertainers and insulting one another for the decline of the genre, while claiming they spend “zero time policing one’s thoughts or speech”.

    In the end, it is a STORY. With a message for an audience. And detractors of that story can offer a litany of reasons as to why it is “good” or “bad” literature.

  220. In Blue SF? Nah, it’s a bit like finding Hotel California in the middle of We Con The World.

    Thing is: “Pink SF” is usually better than the “blue” stuff.

  221. “A further problem of this divisiveness is that you can’t tell any of the authors anything without being accused of being on the wrong side.”

    TZ, if you’re curious, go look up Big Boys Don’t Cry on Amazon. Go to the one star review of 20 July from “Reece.” Note that I accuse him of not having read the book. Go into the comments and see where at 4:24 PM, comment 8, he admits he didn’t read it.

    I get that ALL THE TIME. So it is very difficult for me to tell who, in fact, has read a book and is offering a criticism I can use, and who is just grinding someone else’s axe. So you tell me, how do I tell how to tell who is honest and may have something useful and who is just trying a little vicarious assasination? Sometimes you can. At least as often, you cannot.

  222. “The Chaplain’s War was plain fucking awful”

    Haven’t read it; just don’t have the energy lately for reading half of what I need to. I haven’t read anything for enjoyment since last year. So what was awful about it?

  223. One problem we might be seeing in modern SFF is that with the freedom to use more words, those same words tend to have less weight, say less. That might account for the sense more modern novels that strive to attain to a more artistic approach seem to have a more baroque literacy to them while seeming more boring. Although many people enjoy Catherine Valente’s wordsmithing I find her words too aware of themselves, empty, dislocated and distracting.

    The old school came from magazines with restricted word counts and what seem like fairly tough editors. Frank Herbert broke through that with his 1965 novel Dune, very long by that day’s standards. The sequel Dune Messiah is less than half as long and has a very heavy weight of prose and has the sense of having been heavily edited and scraped clean.

    Joe Abercrombie’s 2006 novel The Blade Itself, at some 190,000 words is a tiny bit longer than Dune, The Mote In God’s Eye and Fellowship of the Ring. At the beginning we are treated to 800 words letting us know a guy has a really painful limp and him negotiating part of a corridor and 16 steps. That’s 1/10 of a short story.

    Jack Vance’s 1987 Araminta Station is the same word count as Abercrombie’s novel but is far more densely loaded with events. It is a quiet but brilliantly written and told story.

  224. >Haven’t read it; just don’t have the energy lately for reading half of what I need to. I haven’t read anything for enjoyment since last year. So what was awful about it?

    See my review. The short version: the alien Queen Mother mantid swung from inimically alien to behaving exactly like a guilt-tripped Catholic schoolgirl with such implausible ease and rapidity that you couldn’t help but see the author jerking the puppet strings. I wrote that even a religious person ought to squirm at seeing an apologia done this ham-handedly, and I meant it.

    I didn’t believe the guilt-ridden Posleen in The Tuloriad, either, but he was a triumph of plausibility compared to this.

  225. Wasn’t Fellowship of the Ring a few hundred pages worth of the English countryside?

    Valente’s writing is beautiful. I can’t even laugh at Day or Kratman’s minimalistic style (or lack of style, really)

  226. I’ll read that. Did you, perchance, read the pre-guilt ridden (the same) Posleen, in Yellow Eyes? Might have made it more plausible to you. Traumatic events and all.

  227. >Jack Vance’s 1987 Araminta Station is the same word count as Abercrombie’s novel but is far more densely loaded with events. It is a quiet but brilliantly written and told story.

    That it certainly is. I already miss Jack Vance a lot.

  228. Just looked over your review. You know…the Mantis queen sounds a bit like she was inspired by the Bugger Queen in Ender’s Game. I’ll have to try to fence some time and energy to read TCW, I suppose, to be sure.

    By the way, while I suspect much, most, and possibly even all of the physical universe may be rationally knowable, I also suspect that as soon as you’re dealing with people – largely irrational, emotional, and instinct-driven people – trying to approach them rationally is, to the extent it is more or less pure, also more or less irrational.

  229. >Did you, perchance, read the pre-guilt ridden (the same) Posleen, in Yellow Eyes?

    I did. I enjoyed that book more.

    The trouble with humanlike guilt in aliens is that I don’t find it plausible unless certain other emotional substrata ultimately tied to reproductive biology and prosocial behavior are also shown to be present. I didn’t think anyone ever did a very good job of demonstrating or justifying those in the Posleen, but at least I could see some awareness of the plausibility issues and some effort being made. Torgersen never gets that far.

  230. I always thought of Guano as having gone more or less insane, in Posleen terms, to include having a bit (okay, a HUGE helping) of Stockholm syndrome, so it really didn’t seem to be problematic to me.

  231. In the first 900 words of Araminta Station, we are introduced to 6 characters, something of their natures, some backstory, a mystery that isn’t solved til the end of the series, and two important events.

  232. >I always thought of Guano as having gone more or less insane, in Posleen terms, to include having a bit (okay, a HUGE helping) of Stockholm syndrome, so it really didn’t seem to be problematic to me.

    Um, so are you telling me that The Tuloriad was actually written in sympathy with my position that religious believers are fundamentally insane? :-)

    The book argued that one can only fight religion effectively if one brings a religion to the battle. It equivocated rather nicely about whether the religion must be objectively true or merely psychologically effective at motivating warriors.

    Given what you’ve just said, I cherish the hope that you will someday join Eliezer Yudkowsky, Sam Harris, and myself in a rousing chorus of Onward, Rationalist Soldiers! as we prepare for our stand against the ravaging hordes of theism. :-)

  233. @ nht

    Baen’s model is not $15 for new releases, $5 for older books as you state

    Baen’s model is $15 for pre-release Advanced Reader copies, $9.99 for e-books while a hardcover is out, $7.99 for e-books when a trade-paperback comes out, and $6.99 for e-books when the paperback comes out.

    This is up from their prior model of $15 for ARC and $6 for everything else (they made this change at the start of last year when they started selling e-books through Amazon and others rather than just on their own)

    They also don’t go through and change the price on their old e-book releases, so a book that was published when their price was $4 it still $4

  234. Eh. You have a point, but they aren’t the ones ‘elevating’ the language, you guys are the ones lowering it. Their stuff is as boring as yours, because you are all fighting over a corpse, dressed in different nostalgias.

  235. No, actually not. It’s entirely possible for someone highly religious to be insane, of course, and it may be of assistance, the one to the other, but I don’t think it’s necessary. I am, in fact, quite religious – Catholic, no less – but see no particular personal need to preach. I even have a theory to account for atheism as something ordered by God. You probably wouldn’t like the theory.

    The _afterword_ argues that. The book, the story, qua story, does not. Sometimes I use an afterword to comment on the story, sometimes to explain something in the story, sometimes to discuss something only tangential to the story, and sometimes to prepare the way for the next story.

    In re that afterword, I don’t know that leaving up to the reader things I am not certain of myself would be equivocation, exactly. But there are things that are objectively true, and that I think I stated outright. ” And that answer does not depend on the validity of faith, only upon its sincere existence. Faith is, in short, a weapon, the gun you bring to a certain kind of gunfight.” If that’s equivocation, perhaps I need a new dictionary.

    Sorry, but you and Sam and Eliezer will have to do without an Irish Tenor.

    Got to say, though, or, rather, to repeat, that if faith _is_ a weapon, and if it is a needful weapon, a key weapon, then rejecting it as irrational is, itself, irrational. No, you cannot feel something you simply do not feel. I could not demand it and I doubt God actually does either. But if your defense depends in whole or in good part upon those who do feel it, and who must feel it, it is irrational to undermine thair faith.

  236. I’m pretty sure Fellowship had a little more than countryside.

    “I accept with equanimity that you will not credit me when I tell you Mr. H married a Crow woman and had a baby with her round about the time he struck his fortune in the good blue, which is how folk used to designate Nevada silver. It don’t trouble me none if any soul calls me a liar.”

    That is the opening to Valente’s “Six-Gun Snow White,” where the narrator starts off talking like an educated Englishman and finishes the paragraph like Li’l Abner. Worse for me is Valente got the idea as a play on actual white skin color, which I am heartily sick of. I’m just sick of their PC racial bullshit.

    Many people do find Valente’s words beautiful. I find her artistry forced and artificial, a conformist redneck playing at being an eccentric. I prefer true eccentrics like Clark Ashton Smith and H.P. Lovecraft, not the literary equivalent to body-piercings, pink hair dyes and tattoos.

    As for a minimalistic style, if it fades into the background, as it does in Day’s Hugo-nominated story, then what’s the problem. People keep obsessing on the first paragraph but, in my opinion, outright lying about the story’s overall quality. It’s simply not as bad as the PC claim, and their claims verge on the hysteric. If you want crap, read the opening passages in Vylar Kaftan’s Nebula-winning “The Weight of the Sunrise.” Again, that’s not including the story’s noxious racialist PC, which after all isn’t the same as a badly written story, just an obnoxious one.

  237. I’m an unusual atheist, as they go: I believe that, if I demand the right to (not) believe as I find my conscience requires, I must recognize that right in others. Deeply religious believing Catholic? More power to you, as long as you don’t try to force me to act in accordance with religious strictures I do not believe on my own. I’m not out to stamp out religion, just to keep it out of my own life in any form.

    Insofar as your argument is that one needs to permit others to bring the best weapons to war, I have no problem with that. Just don’t drag me into your jihad, on either side.

    The reality is, of course, more complicated. Islamists want to wage jihad upon me because I am an unbeliever. I will fight them to my dying breath. I do so not out of my own conviction that Islam is fundamentally wrong per se, but out of my own conviction that the Sharia law they wish to foist upon me is antithetical to my freedom, and worthy of being fought for that reason rather than anything having to do with the religion on which it is based.

  238. Here’s your problem, Jay; you alone are just you. They cannot make you believe, but they can, given the power, threaten you and those you care for in such a way as to make you at least pretend to believe. If they can do that, your kids will believe.

    To stop them requires collective violence, for purposes and with motivations above the individual’s mere desire to be left alone. There may be – no, there are – other motivators than religion for both inflicting and enduring that kind of collective violence, but if so they are at least as antithetical to your freedom as Sharia is, while religion is one of the better supports and possibly the best. And one suspects that were the list of atheist (qua atheist) martyrs to be collected, it would make for about the shortest book in the world.

  239. Congratulations, ear and company. You have overanalyzed contemporary SF to the point of killing all enjoyment in it. Gramsci would be proud. So would Leavis and Hayek.

  240. David, could you link where those “four potential rabbits” have “expressed their sympathy for the rabbit cause, or their repulsion for the league of evil’s views”? I’ve been searching and haven’t found anything suggesting that any of them are _aware_ of the conflict, never mind picking sides.

  241. It would probably take me some time to find them all. Stross for example has done so on Twitter, and is a pal of one of the rabbit arch-demons, Damien Walter. Thinking about it, Banks I’m not quite so sure; he died perhaps before this whole thing crystalized into lines of battle. I may have inferred from his political views too much.

  242. > ”And that answer does not depend on the validity of faith, only upon its sincere existence.”

    Acknowledged. Either I missed that first time through or had forgotten it. Probably the latter.

    Me, I think religious faith is like the draft. If your culture needs it to fight – can’t find any less toxic basis for mutual loyalty – then it deserves to be replaced by a healthier one.

    There are circumstances – I have thought and felt them them through – under which I would give my life to protect what I value. I am a member of a civilization, and I know my duty to defend it. I carry a personal weapon at nearly all times outside my home in part as a sign to others and a reminder to myself that I have accepted that responsibility. It didn’t take a draft board or a religion to create that acceptance; Robert Heinlein had a lot more to do with it.

    I am walking proof that reciprocal altruism, uncoerced and atheistic (my actual stance is a bit more complex, but ‘atheistic’ will do for this discussion) can produce people with the mindset of defenders. This should not be surprising, it is one of the things the male of the human species is psychologically and physiologically specialized for. It is not that I am doing what government or God tells me is right; the imperative is coded into my DNA.

  243. Unfortunately at least for now it doesn’t work for Amazon Kindle Cloud Reader aka. web interface. Sideloaded books can appear in your documents storage at Amazon, but Cloud Reader doesn’t see them. And my laptop has larger screen size than my smartphone – and sync is a must… well, good to have (so I use Google Play Books Upload instead; works for EPUB and PDF).

    This is pretty easy to get around with Calibre and a USB cable. If you have an e-book in $FORMAT, convert it to mobi with Calibre. Then use a USB interface to upload the books to the appropriate directory on your smartphone. com.Android/Kindle or something like that. I’ve done it a few times with e-books purchased elsewhere than amazon.

  244. It fades into the background and leaves only the story, and when the story is “elf discovers religion” or “here’s how I think the war on terror needs to be fought,” that’s a problem.

    And what’s wrong with pink hair, tattoos, and piercings, anyway?

  245. @ ESR – “I think religious faith is like the draft.”

    A bit far afield from the OP, but . . .

    Faith is a memetic trait of evolutionary origin, and it arose because it reinforced our species survive and thrive imperatives. Because it’s memetic in its nature, it can be reprogrammed (with significant effort), and as such is somewhat malleable as compared to our DNA based traits. Exploitation of this trait by others is discretionary and subjective. It certainly is an effective tool for eliciting collective behavior and even motivating individual behavior in extremis. Depending on what side of line you are on, this can be viewed as either a good or a bad thing. Regardless, faith is more like instinct; an inherent aspect of our psychological nature, but also one that can be over-ridden by rational thought and self-discipline.

  246. Pink hair, tattoos, and piercings are not to everyone’s taste, and their literary equivalent does not automatically transform a pedestrian work of writing into High Literature.

    Or maybe it does, but if so, I want no part of it.

    You don’t like stories about elves getting religion or how the war on terror should be fought. I don’t like High Literature. Those are matters of taste, not quality.

  247. And why is the first paragraph in Opera Vita Aeterna even there if it doesn’t fit the style of the rest of the story? First paragraph syndrome?

  248. Thing is: “Pink SF” is usually better than the “blue” stuff.”

    Who makes more money?

  249. “They commonly assert Golden Age SF used aliens as proxies for black folks and then made fun of them and that SF is founded on colonialism. Since those are all lies, it reveals more about what they want to believe than reality. This is not politics, unless hate is politics.”

    Well some of it does so they aren’t ALL lies. There are some obvious examples like HB Piper’s Uller’s Uprising.

    But hey, I prefer when the humans/western civilization wins. Colonialism is what humans do. If we spread to the stars and find habitable planets we can take then what we’re going to do whether or not someone is already sitting on it unless they can stop us. Sucks to be the loser and if I’m paying for fiction it’s not going to be us at the end of the series.

    My problem with a lot pink SF isn’t they are anti straight white male (because not being one I really don’t care all THAT much) but they also often seem to be anti-technology. Unless it’s dystopian cyberpunk fuck em…they can pick a different genre to rail against the fruits of science, thanks.

  250. “I am walking proof that reciprocal altruism, uncoerced and atheistic (my actual stance is a bit more complex, but ‘atheistic’ will do for this discussion) can produce people with the mindset of defenders.”

    How many *combat* drops?

  251. Tom Kratman:

    Here’s your problem, Jay; you alone are just you. They cannot make you believe, but they can, given the power, threaten you and those you care for in such a way as to make you at least pretend to believe.

    No, no they can’t. Not while there’s still breath in my body.

    With my mothers milk (well, formula in my case. My mother wasn’t my mother in that way) I got a HUGE helping of Da Fuq I Will, and there are some things I will not be silent about.

    You know what Sharia makes me feel? Recoil.

  252. tom Kratman:

    Here’s your problem, Jay; you alone are just you. They cannot make you believe, but they can, given the power, threaten you and those you care for in such a way as to make you at least pretend to believe.

    No, no they can’t. Not while there’s still breath in my body.

    With my mothers milk (well, formula in my case. My mother wasn’t my mother in that way) I got a HUGE helping of Da Fuq I Will, and there are some things I will not be silent about.

    You know what Sharia makes me feel? Recoil.

    Eric, just got this:
    Access to this page has been denied by web filtering.Access to:http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=6085&cpage=1Block Reason:This Websense category is filtered: Compromised Websites.

  253. >How many *combat* drops?

    None, of course. But since when are people who make combat drops the only sheepdogs in the world?

    If you think about it, maybe you ought to have a bit more more respect for people like me who dedicate themselves outside the reinforcing structure of a military or police organization, and in spite of significant physical handicaps.

    Are we as effective as line military or police? In most ways, probably not. On the other hand, you probably wouldn’t want to live in a society with a military and police large enough to make us superfluous.

  254. None, of course.

    It’s a far far cry from an active ‘hot zone’, of course….but each occasion, where armed civilians enter the public sphere, is a societal deployment.

    You remain in condition yellow, don’t you? There you go then…

  255. “Me, I think religious faith is like the draft. If your culture needs it to fight – can’t find any less toxic basis for mutual loyalty – then it deserves to be replaced by a healthier one.”

    What it deserves isn’t the question so much as what it’s going to get. Indeed, justice and just desserts are fairly unimportant and ineffectual in the big scheme. We managed to defeat the Soviet Union…but had a draft through most of the cold war. Carthage might have taken vast satisfaction in meeting conscripting Rome with volunteers in the first two wars, even though they lost both. One suspect that satsifaction would have lasted right up until the Younger Scipio got through the gates.

    There is, however, another reason why a draft is good, and that’s to produce a large number of young men trained to arms to resist the government, the aristocracy, the oligarchs.

    “I am walking proof that reciprocal altruism, uncoerced and atheistic (my actual stance is a bit more complex, but ‘atheistic’ will do for this discussion) can produce people with the mindset of defenders.”

    I think I said expressly that it can. I remain skeptical of the odds and relative degree of certaintly. I don’t think it’s been tried, either, on a scale that would prove it. The USSR? Well, one notes the speed with which religion returned in Russia. One might even suspect it never actually left.

  256. “No, no they can’t. Not while there’s still breath in my body.”

    There are three kinds of terror, at least three, anyway. One, the least effective, is random terror. Prior to the Madrid bombings I’d have said it’s completely ineffective. I was wrong. The other is specific. That’s where they go not only after you, but after everyone you care for. There are a few people who are immune to that, but they are very few. I wouldn’t bet on myself, even though I am a pretty stout character; I wouldn’t bet on anyone, standing up to specific terror. The third is geno-or civilicidal. It has the personal attributes of specific terror, but on steroids. I don’t count on people standing up to that, either.

  257. No, no they can’t. Not while there’s still breath in my body.

    With my mothers milk (well, formula in my case. My mother wasn’t my mother in that way) I got a HUGE helping of Da Fuq I Will, and there are some things I will not be silent about.

    I believe it was John McAfee who said that everyone has a price, and if someone mails you your daughter’s ear, you give in and do what they say if you don’t want her entire head to come in the mail next time.

    Ideals are great and all, but there comes a point for everyone when ideals can pound sand if there are lives of loved ones at stake.

  258. Well Jeff, we could speculate about where this ‘point’ is until we’re blue in the face….but if it exists, wherever it may be….until it is reached, we fight.

  259. >There is, however, another reason why a draft is good, and that’s to produce a large number of young men trained to arms to resist the government, the aristocracy, the oligarchs.

    I admit this line of reasoning has had considerable appeal to me. Not quite enough to override my libertarian revulsion against forced servitude, though.

    >I remain skeptical of the odds and relative degree of certaintly. I don’t think it’s been tried, either, on a scale that would prove it.

    I don’t consider your skepticism unreasonable. I agree we have neither confirming nor disconfirming experiments at enough scale yet.

    >The USSR? Well, one notes the speed with which religion returned in Russia. One might even suspect it never actually left.

    True, the USSR never lacked for national religion. Communism is nominally atheistic, but replicates the psychological structure of Zoroastrian monotheism with God replaced by the Dialectic of History. Sin, guilt, redemption, eschatology, thoughtcrime, mass murder, it’s all there and actually not all that readily distinguishable from Augustinean Christianity once one is past the surface symbolism.

    It was never a surprise to me that so many people did a heel-turn from one to the other and back with such ease. If it surprises you, maybe you need to think about the surface features of religious belief a bit less and the common substructures a bit more.

  260. “Wright is just overwrought and pretentious.”

    Not true!

    Well, somewhat not true!

    I am pretentious, yes, to a degree. A very large degree. Indeed, a cyclopean, titanic, godlike, immense, mastodonic degree, I will admit. My ego is a maddened elephant that pulls the frail trap of my reason where it will, alas.

    I cannot actually recite the whole of the ILIAD in flawless Attic Greek, but only the first few lines, and that in an execrable Boeotian accent.

    Yes, I confess, I take myself entirely too seriously, and watch with pursed, white lips and narrowed eyes should any man allow himself a moment’s mirth as my expense.

    But overwrought? Not so. I am neither overly emotional myself, nor is my work elaborate in design. I am the soul of serenity and simplicity. Peruse the prose above! It is well nigh shintoesque in its unadorned pellucidity.

    So you should have said “Wright is just underwrought and pretentious.”

  261. The scale of return is what surprised me, and that only to a degree, since Christian religion tends to thrive under persecution.

  262. >Peruse the prose above! It is well nigh shintoesque in its unadorned pellucidity.

    If you keep hanging out here, I may have to take long breaks from the keyboard to allow the stitches in my sides to un-knot themselves.

  263. Now John Wright, on the other hand, will reason with you about religion, or try to. I will not. I feel it. It is enough for me. You don’t feel it? I think there’s a reason for that that has nothing to do with reason, but is a test of sorts. I do not know this, of course.

  264. “I admit this line of reasoning has had considerable appeal to me. Not quite enough to override my libertarian revulsion against forced servitude, though.”

    Would it make you feel any better about it if we raised the voting age back to 21 and looked at, treated, and talked about the draft as no different from any other mandatory educational experience?

    I’ll give you another great reason for it; leftist college professors depend on having classes full of people without experience or nurtured toughness and character. They quail when a young -ex-infantryman calls, “Bullshit!”

  265. >There is, however, another reason why a draft is good, and that’s to produce a large number of young men trained to arms to resist the government, the aristocracy, the oligarchs.

    But doesn’t it also produce young men trained to obey commands, follow orders, and function well at the lower end of a hierarchy? And if so, how useful are they going to be in resisting the governement (except, possibly, in a military coup ?)

  266. “Well Jeff, we could speculate about where this ‘point’ is until we’re blue in the face….but if it exists, wherever it may be….until it is reached, we fight.”

    That’s perhaps not as obvious as you may think. If the threat is out there, even if not realized, you have to take it into account. They don’t necessarily have to mail you your daughter’s ear if it is obvious that that can get to her to get her and her ear.

  267. No, it really doesn’t. All the important military training the soldier gets he gets more or less with mother’s milk. We can’t change him; that’s a liberal bugaboo and myth…to say nothing of cause for vast resentment that they think the military can do something – fundamentally change character – they accept as an article of faith. That includes willing obedience to higher authority.

    Moreover, if you are conscripting, you must release the boys back to civil society. They will then outnumber the boys you still have control of by about 20 to one.

    There is, by the way, a _strong_ historical correlation between consciption and lasting popular government.

  268. “I cannot actually recite the whole of the ILIAD in flawless Attic Greek, but only the first few lines, and that in an execrable Boeotian accent.”

    Slug.

    (hehehe)

  269. @ TimP

    “Wright and Vox Day are both fairly strongly anti-gay”

    I suppose that depends on what you mean by anti-gay. I am anti-Leftist, which means, I am against forcing the Catholic Church to host celebrations for homosexual civil unions, against promoting sexual perversion as a norm especially to children, and against forcing bakers or cameramen or hall renters from participating in a grave moral evil.

    I am indeed for civil unions. A gay talked me into it, using logic accidentally, and he was and is unaware that he changed my mind on this point, because he hates me, because someone told him I was anti-gay, and he credited the accusation, but did not credit the rebuttal. He wanted and needed and enemy, and when I did not provide it, he simply pretended I had.

    If using the word ‘perversion’ in its accurate sense, as both law and canon law have used it for centuries makes me ‘anti-gay’ so be it. Your term has no meaning.

    My stepsister’s father was gay. He abandoned his young children to go live with a series of worthless male lovers.

    He committed suicide.

    I was not the one who fed this man the lie that the pursuit of a biologically unsound substitute for sex would make his life satisfying.

    The Left, however, did, and they continue to peddle this lie to others. They say they support men like he is, and that my opinion saying emotions should conform to reality is oppression, caused by ignorance or malice or bigotry. They supported his death. I supported his life and his children. Who really was his opponent?

    I was not opposed to this man, but I did not admire that he abandoned his children. I was not ‘anti-‘ my relative in any way, but I do regard suicide as the ultimate sin, the infinite sin, the only sin that offends and insults all of the life, the whole universe, because it destroys, insofar as the suicide is concerned, the whole universe.

    I am anti-suicide. Bending one’s sexual desires out of joint is a type of suicide.

    If you speak out against the pro-suicide movement, and you tell men not to commit suicide, are you anti-men?

    Or are you anti-suicide and therefore pro-men?

    Homosexuality is not suicide, but it is a self destructive behavior. It is a step along that road, and someone in my family followed that road to the end. I knew him, and I knew his sexual desires, which he could not control, wrecked his marriage, ruined his life, and drove him to it.

    So, yes, after careful consideration, I am against the Leftists who encourage, applaud, and laud self destruction of fine and good men, men with families, and call those of us who oppose self destruction bigots and demons.

    Gays are no more my enemies than drunkards or drug addicts. It is the pushers I hate.

    Dear anonymous Internet stranger called TimP: You know nothing about me, sir, nothing about my life nor what my family has suffered. Have the decency not to open your mouth without discovering the facts.

    Yours in friendship, John C Wright

  270. >I feel [religion]. It is enough for me. You don’t feel it?

    In fact, I do. I’m a mystic. I have invoked many gods in the ritual circle. These have been important, life-shaping experiences for me. This is why I am not quite like an ordinary “secular” atheist; I have faced the mysterium tremendum and it has marked me.

    Where I bridle is at the point where anyone tries to convince me these experiences have a message about cosmology or the nature of anything other than the evolved human mind. We absolutely should feel these things; but we should be very, very careful not to allow those feelings to drag us into insane thinking. Religious believers normally fail at this, with dolorous consequences.

  271. >Would it make you feel any better about it if we raised the voting age back to 21 and looked at, treated, and talked about the draft as no different from any other mandatory educational experience?

    I’m not a big fan of “mandatory” anything. But Heinlein’s proposal appeals to me; if we must have democracy rather than the free-market anarchy I would prefer, make the vote conditional on willingness to serve. No draft, but if you don’t volunteer for national service you don’t get to vote. There’s justice in that.

  272. Don’t suppose you’ve read The Lotus Eaters and The Amazon Legion, yet? There’s the form of a draft there. It consists of a letter from the President reminding the prospective 18 year old, male or female, that a) the time has come, and b) if you don’t show up, who cares? I actually think that “draft” notice is a potentially key part of ensuring that the military doesn’t become a caste, which is one of the potential pitfalls of Heinlein’s SST scheme. It’s more important in a small country, though, than in a multi-planet federation where scale acts against nepotism.

    However, what I was getting at is that we may in good conscience order some mandatory things for minors without it being involuntary servitude, because they are just minors.

  273. @TimP

    “Faith is a memetic trait of evolutionary origin, and it arose because it reinforced our species survive and thrive imperatives.”

    Ah, disregard my last message. I did not realize I was talking to a religious fanatic. Your cult holds the untested, untestable, and irrational belief (no doubt imprinted in memetic fashion on your DNA) that beliefs are caused by genetics (or by historical dialectic, or by the conjunction of adverse planets at your birth, or whatever the updated version of pagan fatalism is these days). Ironically, another belief of your cult is that yours is not a cult, but that our beliefs, based on reason, are a cult.

    I am sorry I criticized you. I mock no man’s faith

  274. They don’t necessarily have to mail you your daughter’s ear if it is obvious that that can get to her to get her and her ear.

    True. However, once they’re living rent-free in your head like that, their terrorism has already conquered your mental battlefield.

    I will not live that way.

  275. >Don’t suppose you’ve read The Lotus Eaters and The Amazon Legion, yet?

    I’m fairly sure I’ve read every novel you’ve written, including those two. I don’t interpret that as “draft” because the element of coercion is lacking.

    (By the way, I must compliment you on how well and sympathetically you depict non-Anglo, lower-class recruits. I spent most of my childhood overseas, including four years in Venezuela, and was at one time English/Spanish bilingual. Many writers would unknowingly write carbon-copy Americans with dark skins and Spanish accents; you do not. Well done.)

    >However, what I was getting at is that we may in good conscience order some mandatory things for minors without it being involuntary servitude, because they are just minors.

    I get you. But it seems to me rather like sophistry to hold that we can change the ethics of the situation that greatly by twiddling with the age of majority. It suggests there’s something ungrounded about our notion of ‘majority’ that needs to be fixed.

  276. “If you keep hanging out here, I may have to take long breaks from the keyboard to allow the stitches in my sides to un-knot themselves.”

    I would be honored, sir, and happy to share a foxhole with you, or any Libertarian, in the culture war. Once we defeat the barbarians, you and I can throw down on the matter of religion as all philosophical and scientific questions where polite but earnest disagreement exists should be settled: LET DEATHBALL BEGIN! (http://www.gametrailers.com/videos/yzes22/futurama-deathball)

    My darkest fear is that one day someone will take me seriously, and get offended. As long as you promise to take me lightly and dismissively, we can be allies.

  277. “I will not live that way.”

    Well….what do you mean by that? You’re going to off yourself? Your right, I guess, but you’ll die knowing you’re leaving your daughter vulnerable. Kill her? Kill everyone you care for that might be used against you? Tough call, really. Find and go after the one’s who might threaten her or them? Really hard to do, you know. Ignore the reality (if it becomes reality) that they’re out there? That approaches insanity.

    People have been faced with this problem since there have been people, I think. Most find a less principled accommodation. That’s the way to bet it happening.

  278. “It suggests there’s something ungrounded about our notion of ‘majority’ that needs to be fixed.”

    Always a possibility, but I consider it more likely that the ungrounding happened 42-odd years ago when we decided that 18 year old children were adults.

    I have an acquired advantage, understanding of Latins-wise. Well..two of them, actually, the wife and the Army.

  279. >the ungrounding happened 42-odd years ago when we decided that 18 year old children were adults.

    You may well be correct. It’s not an easy question, especially since the rate of maturation varies. I would prefer some sort of behavioral test to an age limit. And, by the way, in the case of males I think we have lost something important by not having the passage to adulthood gated by a genuinely dangerous manhood ordeal.

    I have one family friend who I would have considered more trustworthy with a firearm at the age of 8 when I first met him than a significant fraction of adults are…

  280. Most find a less principled accommodation.

    I suspect you’re right. I think that is a sad and shameful way to exist, but that’s beyond my control.

    That’s the way to bet it happening.

    I appreciate your viewpoint, yet I don’t consider it worth my time to fritter away any of it considering hypothetical bets.

    A brutally honest vulnerability assessment is the foundation for the development of pragmatic security practices. In code or in personal life. Harden yourself as best you can, stand resolute, and be ready for the fight. If you (plural) have the opportunity to take the fight to them and destroy the threat before it arrives on your doorstep, do so. Make the rubble bounce…or fuse, preferably ;)

    Else do what? Quit? Go fetal? Scurry away and meekly plead for another to provide you the security you are not willing to even attempt to provide for yourself? Not my style. I will not live that way. I’ve walked this path for too long and met too many fellow sheepdogs to be discouraged and cowed.

    Best of luck to those that choose the ‘less principled accommodation’.

  281. So I’ve been thinking about the ELoE minion uniform. How’s this sound? Base uniform is a silver tank unitard over a white turtleneck, long-sleeve top (practically speaking, a thong leotard, since it includes the dance belt); black wrist-length gloves; black calf boots, closely tailored; the minion’s ID blazoned across the front of the unitard a la Ice Pirates. For formal occasions, a black tuxedo vest is worn, but no tie: no reason to give the good guys a handle by which to grab one by the neck. Some form of gun belt, as well.

    I might wander around LibertyCon wearing something like this if the opportunity presents itself.

  282. “Your cult holds the untested, untestable, and irrational belief (no doubt imprinted in memetic fashion on your DNA) that beliefs are caused by genetics (or by historical dialectic, or by the conjunction of adverse planets at your birth, or whatever the updated version of pagan fatalism is these days).”

    While I generally agree that beliefs are the result of one’s environment, I am also not foolish to discount entirely the genetic role in certain instances. There have been numerous studies on this phenomenon. In 2001, the work of James Olson found significant heritability effects for 26 of the 30 attitude items studied among fraternal twins, including such diverse items as attitudes toward reading books, open-door immigration policies, and roller-coaster rides. Indeed, the effects of the non-shared environment again outweighed those of heredity across the board. Another study involving adopted and non-adopted youngsters showed a significant, though relatively small, genetic influence for conservatism in youngsters as early as the first year of the study, and almost no genetic link for religious attitudes.

  283. “1. An essential problem is that doing all of those things well is really hard. In a sort of nonlinear, worse-than-the-sum-of-the-weights way. Most writers on either side of the divide simply do not have the horsepower to achieve this.”

    But it can be done. Gregory Benford is an obvious example. David Brin at his best would also qualify.

    Where would you put Benford (think “Against Infinity”) on the Rabbit v s. Evil League of Evil specturm?

  284. I’ve been giving a bit of thought on the “collective” vs. “individual” in military sci-fi, and have come to a couple of conclusions:

    First, an observation. Collectivists seem to adore the rigid structure of military life, enough so that they actually plot ways to bring it upon civilians. Prussian-style school systems in particular are like this, and both Woodrow Wilson and FDR took advantage of war-time emergencies to attempt to “universalize” military culture (however briefly it lasted). Considering this, it would make sense that Leftists would be at home in military sci-fi.

    Second, I have the impression that inherently libertarian societies aren’t so great at invasion and conquering, but are more likely to be heavily defensive. Switzerland in particular comes to mind: everyone is armed to the teeth, and will defend the country to their dying breath (theoretically, at least), but they would likely not fare so well if they had to invade their neighbors…I’m not sure if Medieval Iceland is a counter-example to this–it was common for their youth to join Norse Viking raiding parties–but then, raiding for fun and profit isn’t exactly a “conquer and rule” proposition.

    I could imagine a libertarian culture spontaneously putting together an army determined to win a foreign war, but I’m not sure where the funds would come from (assuming no taxes); nor am I sure how willing everyone would be in supporting the command structure, if the army is strictly a voluntary structure (although I would imagine contracts would include a provision where your fellow soldiers will hunt you down and kill you if you desert your post, particularly if someone died because of it).

    The United States is a weird hybrid, of course; with a government willing to invade other countries, if necessary, but unwilling to colonize them (in the classical sense, at least). This comes from the fact that US society has never been completely libertarian (indeed, US culture has a strong Puritan streak), but has a very strong libertarian streak as well.

  285. “Base uniform is a silver tank unitard over a white turtleneck, long-sleeve top (practically speaking, a thong leotard, since it includes the dance belt); black wrist-length gloves; black calf boots, closely tailored; the minion’s ID blazoned across the front of the unitard a la Ice Pirates.”

    While I applaud your enthusiasm, I would like to remind you, my dear prospective minion, that our message is PURE EVILLY EVIL, not “hey sailor, let’s disco!”

    “If your culture needs it to fight – can’t find any less toxic basis for mutual loyalty – then it deserves to be replaced by a healthier one.”

    Deserves got nothing to do with it, to quote a great philosopher? Would not reason suggest that if it works, it works? Speaking of sanity, I don’t know how anyone can study history, particularly military history, and conclude that an irreligious philosophy (perspective, worldview, whatever), which is closely tied to sub-replacement birthrates (among other problems), is even remotely capable of providing a sustainable basis for a society, let alone a civilization.

    If sanity is contra survival, logic dictates the embrace of insanity.

  286. “None, of course. But since when are people who make combat drops the only sheepdogs in the world?”

    Because until you do you don’t know and you aren’t proof.

    Pat Tillman is “proof” of atheists in foxholes and even there personal belief may not be as important and family cultural norm (as in grow up on catholic mothers milk may be just as good as remaining religious).

    “If you think about it, maybe you ought to have a bit more more respect for people like me who dedicate themselves outside the reinforcing structure of a military or police organization, and in spite of significant physical handicaps.”

    It’s not where you serve or what training you have. It’s actually seeing the elephant that matters. Until you actually do it’s unknown if you will perform as a sheepdog and face down the wolf. Or not.

    /shrug

    It’s not an insult.

  287. “And, by the way, in the case of males I think we have lost something important by not having the passage to adulthood gated by a genuinely dangerous manhood ordeal.”

    The Germans used to think that about one half of one percent fatalities in basic was just about right. I cannot gainsay it.

  288. “””“Your cult holds the untested, untestable, and irrational belief (no doubt imprinted in memetic fashion on your DNA) that beliefs are caused by genetics (or by historical dialectic, or by the conjunction of adverse planets at your birth, or whatever the updated version of pagan fatalism is these days).”

    While I generally agree that beliefs are the result of one’s environment, I am also not foolish to discount entirely the genetic role in certain instances.”””

    Belief of a given religion is almost certainly not genetic; however, I suspect that belief in a higher power of some sort is likely hard-wired into our brain. When you consider that human intelligence may be a complex Bayesian filter of some sort, it may even be the possible that any being “intelligent” enough to pass a Turing test of some sort (that is, to be able to parse human language, and then map the concepts and resolve the ambiguities sufficiently well enough to have a meaningful conversation)–or, to take it a level further, a being that satisfies the criterion for intelligent life in Heinlein’s “The Star Beast” (can speak a language, and has hands with opposable thumbs)–that such a being may very well be susceptible to religion. This depends on what degree religion is the result of our minds making connections to events that aren’t really there.

    It’s because of this tendency that we need to respect freedom of conscience: it’s far too easy to look at “evidence” and conclude that there is no god even if there is one, or conclude that there is a god even if one doesn’t exist, or even believe in multiple gods. It’s even possible to believe in more than one of these conclusions, or even all of them, at once.

  289. Ah, but I was going on two principles: the description of the uniform as tight, and an understanding that evil is all the more striking when it’s elegantly evil.

    However, I’ll defer to Your Supreme Evil Lordship’s wishes.

  290. @ John C. Wright – ” @TimP ‘Faith is a memetic trait of evolutionary origin, and it arose because it reinforced our species survive and thrive imperatives.’ ”

    I don’t know who @TimP is and he is not me. However, the quote is mine. And I have no idea what you’re trying to say about it. Perhaps you should go back and re-read my original comment.

  291. “Second, I have the impression that inherently libertarian societies aren’t so great at invasion and conquering, but are more likely to be heavily defensive. Switzerland in particular comes to mind: everyone is armed to the teeth, and will defend the country to their dying breath (theoretically, at least), but they would likely not fare so well if they had to invade their neighbors..”

    Not really that simple. The Swiss did do a bit of expansion, on their own hook, and then turned into highly aggressive and effective mercenaries. The Spartans, who were about as non-libertarian as one might dread, usually tended their own garden, once that garden was large enough, and then stayed out of other people’s business to the extent they could.

  292. “Best of luck to those that choose the ‘less principled accommodation’.”

    Does that mean that you have _no_ vulnerabilities, no loved ones through which you can be gotten to?

  293. >Where would you put Benford (think “Against Infinity”) on the Rabbit v s. Evil League of Evil specturm?

    I don’t think he’s in this fight. He has too much sense to believe the Rabbit bullshit, and doesn’t have Evil League ideological commitments. Not everybody has to fall on a line between ‘em; I don’t.

  294. > It suggests there’s something ungrounded about our notion of ‘majority’ that needs to be fixed.

    I think it’s more a matter of what the government can require of minor children vs what parents can require of their own minor children, vs what cannot be rightly required at all, even of minor children.

    Thus parents can require that their own children go to public schools, but the government cannot – if the parents want to homeschool, or send the kids to a private school, then the government has to take it, even if the government does get grouchy about the situtation and weasily about trying to evade this limitation on its power. And neither parents nor the government can rightly force a minor to have sex if he or she doesn’t want to. Parental or custodial authority simply does not stretch that far without becoming criminal abuse.

    So the question becomes “which category does requiring minors to join the military fall into?”

  295. A few months ago I saw Benford comment on a Facebook thread, questioning the prevailing opinion there that fandom was a hotbed of racism.

  296. >Until you actually do it’s unknown if you will perform as a sheepdog and face down the wolf.

    That’s a different argument. Nobody can be sure a religious person won’t crack in the presence of the elephant either.

    When I say “the mindset of a defender” I mean a person who has prepared as best he knows how or can imagine to kill, or to die, putting himself between what he loves and lethal danger, in grave knowledge of the possible consequences. And who has then gone on to take that risk, eyes open. Of course I don’t know for certain how I’d have reacted if a murderous jihadi had followed up on the threat I got in 2009; who can, in advance?

    What I show is that it doesn’t take religion to evoke that willingness. The fact that I have not yet met the ultimate test is relevant only to a different question: that is whether religion insulates against the immediate fear of death so effectively that believers have a lower rate of panic or freeze in clutch situations.

    On the evidence, I think this is unlikely. Normalized for population, ghazis don’t seem to be any commoner than Marines. I believe – and I do have some experience relevant to this – that secular methods of stress inoculation work as well as religious indoctrination. We don’t see Western military trainers rushing to embrace the latter.

  297. “When I say “the mindset of a defender” I mean a person who has prepared as best he knows how or can imagine to kill, or to die, putting himself between what he loves and lethal danger, in grave knowledge of the possible consequences.”

    Probably irrespective of religion, the problem for someone alone, and with physical issues, _can_ be – doesn’t have to be but can be – the questions, “What’s the point? Will my stand do any good at all? Why bother?” If the answers to those end up being, “None, dunno, and no reason” – and they can be for _anyone_ – then it probably doesn’t matter, your mindset is different from the one needed for the circumstances as they turned out.

    That doesn’t mean those will be the answers you honestly come up with, either in advance or at the moment of crisis, but they are questions you or anyone in your position needs to ask.

  298. “which category does requiring minors to join the military fall into?”

    I don’t you characterized the issues exactly right. No, government (here anyway) cannot require public school, but it can demand school, at least up to the 8th grade (the Amish case, I think it was).

    The other thing is that it isn’t just one category, it’s at least two. It could mandate training and do so under an educational rubric (though one can see easy religious or other conscientious exceptions to that) and that’s probably okay, for 18-21 year olds, in a society where they are not adults.

    But it doesn’t stop there, of course. Those kids are also cannon fodder and that’s why they’ve been trained. To send them off, on pain of death, to fight and maybe die requires something else.

    On the other, other hand though, if they’ve been trained, put in decent units, been socialized, and made comrades, 90% plus of them will volunteer to go if called. Is it illegitmate that you’ve played with their emotions to get them to do that?

  299. When I was teaching hunter safety the graduation test was would I the instructor take the student as a hunting partner. The common response, not commonly voiced but always there, was any day and certainly in preference to his (it was usually but not exclusively his) father.

    YASID I suppose. There’s a story after Mr. Heinlein’s Space Cadet in which the general monopoly of power is vested in a supremely powerful Space Patrol – which of course has major problems recruiting, selecting, training and keeping line officers. The story is that the head of the Patrol himself facing mandatory retirement floats the ancient idea of allowing officers to serve well past the current retirement age. He asks his older brother who served as a Space Patrol officer himself and is sadly informed that after you notice girls you just aren’t that idealistic any more.

    Seems to me Helvetii were an early example of battles on the scale of WWI for killing people – at least according to the written record – and it was the Helvetii dying. Switzerland is nowhere near armed to the teeth – ll bravo types are, cooks and bakers are not. Defensive Doctrine is pretty clear and many Cantons do restrict guns and ammunition with more restrictions coming. Notice that currently only cadre is allowed to fly the Hornets and only to suit noise restrictions – see e.g. the French fighter planes in Swiss airspace recently.

    I cannot gainsay it either but I’d feel guilty either way about a universal draft that tended to

    (I emphasize tended to. Survival of the fittest is on average and death can be very haphazard)

    be a Darwin test administered to the unprepared. I’d feel just as guilty about postponing it to AIT or whatever stage and not administering it pretty broadly. [I once argued with Patrick Nielsen Hayden about which way to err in killing your own given that either way there would be issues] I’d distinguish expecting some people to be pretty beat up and hurting or dying in service. I once mentioned the hazards of service to a pretty girl – she put me down quite properly by saying she was a dog handler on the LZ.

  300. esr: >It was never a surprise to me that so many people did a heel-turn from one to the other and back with such ease. If it surprises you, maybe you need to think about the surface features of religious belief a bit less and the common substructures a bit more.

    Cf. Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer.

    Alpheus: >Belief of a given religion is almost certainly not genetic; however, I suspect that belief in a higher power of some sort is likely hard-wired into our brain.

    “Religious” (or at least numinous) experiences can be induced fairly reliably by chemicals (psilocybin, ayahuasca, peyote, many others), so I think it’s clear that the wiring is there. Of course that says nothing about the validity of any particular religion, or religion in general (if one stipulates that there is a creator who wants to be worshiped, it seems certain that the creator would build that capacity into the brains of the created beings).

  301. Which brings us to the question of how does a young male “become a man / sheepdog” if for [reasons] the usual methods of joining the army, starting martial arts, learning and carrying a firearm, getting a job that involves hard physical labor, etc. are not practical?

    Any relation to my current situation is of course completely 100% totally unrelated in every conceivable way.

  302. @ John C Wright,

    > Dear anonymous Internet stranger called TimP: You know nothing about me, sir,
    > nothing about my life nor what my family has suffered. Have the decency not to
    > open your mouth without discovering the facts.

    I actually read your blog, so I’m aware that you views are much more nuanced
    then I protrayed them (and largely in agreement with my own). I attempted to
    simplify your views for the sake of speed of communication. Reconsidering what I
    wrote it’s clear I oversimplified to the point of insulting mistruth, for which
    I sincerely apologise.

    (Also Vox Day’s views are more nuanced than I protrayed them, so, while I doubt
    he cares as much given his usual Internet persona, I apologize to him too)

    > @TimP
    >
    > “Faith is a memetic trait of evolutionary origin, and it arose because it
    > reinforced our species survive and thrive imperatives.”
    >
    > Ah, disregard my last message

    That’s neither me nor even close to my own opinions on the matter. Looks like TomA’s and my handles are close enough to cause some confusion.

  303. Where exactly does Greg Egan fall here? The politics are leftish: Orthogonal constructs an analog of feminism for its protagonists’ biology, “Cocoon” is about strongly valuing gay culture, and if you’re worried about “an end to the default of binary gender”, the worlds of Diaspora, Distress and “Oceanic” fit the bill. But the storytelling is absolutely, uncompromisingly hard–almost cartoonishly so, in Orthogonal, and engages unfailingly with the concept of rational knowability.

    I suppose you’re emphasizing that these are tendencies and not allegiances, but I want to point out that one can write stories which don’t have default-binary gender in them and are also in the highest tradition of SF. Maybe it matters that Egan isn’t really part of the community; he’s reclusive, doesn’t do cons, doesn’t really blog (other than to do math at John Baez’s place now and then)… he does the occasional interview, but I have no idea if he even cares about the SFWA kerfuffle.

  304. Should be drop zone at Bragg. Notice the impact areas are rather bigger than the drop zones.

    As the National Anthem puts it nicely

    When I say “the mindset of a defender” I mean a person who has prepared as best he knows how or can imagine to kill, or to die, putting himself between what he loves and lethal danger, in grave knowledge of the possible consequences. And who has then gone on to take that risk, eyes open. Of course I don’t know for certain how I’d have reacted if a murderous jihadi had followed up on the threat I got in 2009; who can, in advance?

    You pretty much can be sure. We mostly all can be pretty sure of resolve when between what (s)he loves and lethal danger. It’s when standing between lethal danger and what (s)he doesn’t love, may even detest, that questions dominate the mind – and at a bad time.

    Is it illegitimate that you’ve played with their emotions to get them to do that?

    As Jerry Pournelle said writing on the subject of mercenary virtue – “Merely necessary”

  305. “I’ll defer to Your Supreme Evil Lordship’s wishes.”

    PENELOPE! You can put down the razor-tipped whip now! Back to the stripper pole with you, young lady. You’re on duty for another 20 minutes.

    “I doubt he cares as much given his usual Internet persona, I apologize to him too.”

    Not that he ever gave the merest quantum of a damn, but the gesture speaks well of you. EVIL TIP: when an individual has recorded multiple club-charting dance hits with a band signed to a gay record label, the probabilities that he is personally homophobic approach nil.

    One does not, as a general rule, pick up the phrase: “I’ve been a bad, bad kitty” from one’s heterosexual acquaintances.

  306. “So the question becomes “which category does requiring minors to join the military fall into?”

    If you are Israel it comes under the heading of common sense.

    If you are the United States it comes under heading of “shit, who started a land war in Asia?”

    We fought for a decade without completely breaking out all volunteer force.

  307. “And I have no idea what you’re trying to say about it. Perhaps you should go back and re-read my original comment.”

    I hope I am not the only one here who sees the irony of those two sentences in conjunction. He cannot understand an utterly simple logical objection to his comment, and yet he assumes I am the one who did not understand him rather than visa versa.

    Yes, I mistyped your moniker, anonymous Internet person. That means you win the argument and your foolish belief system does not directly contradict itself.

  308. “That’s neither me nor even close to my own opinions on the matter. Looks like TomA’s and my handles are close enough to cause some confusion.”

    The mistake is mine. I apologize.

  309. I’m surprised that the political, ‘message-before-story’, Rabbits “have the best stylists”; while I haven’t read them, I would have expected people with their preoccupations to suffer from the afflictions described in _Politics and the English Language_. In particular, when one’s ideas are muddled and contradictory (doubtless part of the reason why they cannot write good ‘idea-as-hero’ SF), one is much more likely to surrender to words, and smother meaning under a layer of abstract humbug.

  310. @esr: I haven’t arrive<I haven’t arrived at a fantasy equivalent of rational knowability.

    I would say (following Tolkien) that it is consistency and coherency of the Secondary World, sufficient to evoke what he calls Secondary Belief.

  311. @ John C. Wright

    Being obtuse is neither intelligent, nor clever, nor enlightening. Say what you mean with clarity. That is minimum hurdle for this blog. Otherwise, you’re apt to be ignored.

  312. My own theory about the inaptly named “Leftists” in SFF isn’t so much they fail because they aspire to an overly literate brand of SFF but that they are simply too stupid to be good artists. It’s a question of naivete and perception.

    How much can a person accomplish in life who would buy swampland in Florida?

    When you read old school authors like Lieber, Heinlein, Asimov, Anderson, Vance, etc., you get the sense these were really sharp and perceptive people. I never thought “Oh, sure, I can do that.”

    Can you imagine someone like Jack Vance falling for something as stupid as white privilege? And say what you will about Peter Hamilton – would you like to have a go at writing something like his Night’s Dawn or Judas Unchained? Would you play poker with a guy like that?

    Let’s be honest: anyone dumb enough to buy into the entire panoply of PC nonsense like SFF is racist and needs more non-whites and gays, or it won’t be as good as it could be, or white privilege or rape culture and the whole nine yards about the non-West isn’t very brainy. Guess what? SFF was doing just fine, and the farther back you go the finer it is. That’s because art doesn’t know your color or gender any more than your goldfish does. Almost 80% of the players in the NBA are black. It’s not a racial conspiracy. It’s because what works, works. Something too obvious for the PC to figure out. And notice the shill here: the PC never ask for anyone but too white to diversify – no one – globally.

    It’s a simple paradigm: anyone dumb enough to buy into radical intersectional feminism can’t make art. Period. Look at the list of Tiptree winners since the ’90s.

    People say Accelerando is Charles Stross’s best work. Guess what? It’s also empty, flashy, derivative and full of cleverprose. It might have been considered clever back in the late ’60s. That’s no surprise – Stross supported the weepy morons who got Jonathan Ross witchhunted out of the Hugos in the remarkable space of only 8 hours. That’s because intersectional feminism lives in an alternate world where a guy seen by millions on TV in the U.K. for years is like David Duke and the KKK in goofy-land.

    There’s not a chance in hell Aliette de Bodard, M. Robinette Kowal, Scalzi, Hines, Jemisin – any of them – will ever write something perceptive, innovative and witty. Though dopes like Kameron Hurley recently Tweeted that SF will fail if we keep presenting Bester, Ellison, Asimov and Heinlein as paradigms of SF, the fact is Hurley and her crowd are pygmies compared to those guys. All the PC have been affirmative actioned to even the tiny space they occupy in SFF. Take away the gay, the color, the pandering and the gender and you never would’ve heard of these folks in the old days. They can’t hack it.

    Even guys who were mostly second tier like James H. Schmitz, Walter M. Miller, and Frederic Brown look like geniuses compared to today’s crew at the ruins of what’s left of SFF’s core institutions. How in the heck do you completely destroy something like the Nebulas in just a few years? Put Scalzi and Gould in charge. Demolition complete. They brag about diversity before story every Nebula season now and surprise – it’s toast.

  313. > evil is all the more striking when it’s elegantly evil.

    You need a cape, a sash, or a cane to do ‘elegant.’ Though some Elegant Gurus can manage with only a swagger stick in a pinch.

    I aspire to “trench coat”, but I’m still stuck at “weird old dude with suspenders and a .45.” Which, while seemingly humble, is still a big step up from “creepy guy with beard and earbuds.”

  314. “My own theory about the inaptly named “Leftists” in SFF isn’t so much they fail because they aspire to an overly literate brand of SFF but that they are simply too stupid to be good artists.”

    Well, if “Pink SF” authors were observably “failing”, there would be minimal noise coming from their philosophical opponents and there would be a precipitous drop-off in their book deals and/or published works. If “Pink SF” authors were “stupid”, they would have tremendous difficulty achieving even the slightest bit of notoriety in their field.

    “There’s not a chance in hell Aliette de Bodard, M. Robinette Kowal, Scalzi, Hines, Jemisin – any of them – will ever write something perceptive, innovative and witty.”

    Based on what you believe constitutes “perceptive, innovative, and witty”, absolutely. From those who purchase their work, they think to the contrary.

    “Let’s be honest: anyone dumb enough to buy into the entire panoply of PC nonsense like SFF is racist and needs more non-whites and gays, or it won’t be as good as it could be, or white privilege or rape culture and the whole nine yards about the non-West isn’t very brainy.”

    Their message is the story, and their story is the message, similar to traditionalists. In the end, readers are going to read, writers are going to write, and publishers are going to publish.

  315. @Tom Kratman:
    My examples are less important than my point, which is that just because minor children can be made to do things that they don’t want to, it doesn’t follow that it’s proper for the government to make children do those things.

    Maybe you disagree. In fact, I’d guess that you do, in which case my attempt to give examples muddied the discussion because there isn’t anything you’d agree to be a clear example of a point you don’t believe in.

  316. Not in one step, anyway.

    There are probably some unstated assumptions and values in there that would have to be explored.

  317. TRX: The sash might well work. The cane is probably reserved for the Supreme Dark Lord himself. The cape is right out: another handle to grab you by the throat with.

    FB: I must object, somewhat. Scalzi does write good SF, even if the message is obnoxious. The Old Man’s War series was really pretty good. I’m not fond of Fuzzy Nation, but it’s not a bad telling of the story if it weren’t for the heavy dose of eeeeevil corporation hatred.

    I have no experience with the rest of your list.

  318. Well, that all sounds very clever and neutral Joe Author, but who’s dumb enough to stand up and never shut up about racism and have a racially segregated room and dinner? Let’s not pretend there’s no “dumb.” That’s dumb by any measure ever created.

    As for “minimal noise,” I think the lack of that has more to do with the stunning prospect of a literary community giving awards to out and out racists, don’t you? Or does the prospect of David Duke winning a Nebula feel like a warm south down home wind? It doesn’t to me. It feels like insanity.

  319. Fail Burton: I agree, to one degree or another, with much of what you say, except for those people being “dumb.” There are smart and dumb people on all sides of nearly every issue. It’s more that those PC-obsessed leftists have a different value hierarchy than you do. See Jonathan Haidt.

  320. “It’s more that those PC-obsessed leftists have a different value hierarchy than you do. See Jonathan Haidt.”

    I exchanged an email or two with Haidt about that. He tried gallantly to portray his research as showing only that the left was different. Sadly for his likely fast disappearing list of old friends, he showed them as deficient, defective, diseased, and just plain dumb.

    That said, I don’t see a huge intellectual difference, per se, between right and left, however much the left may preen about it. Both sides reason pretty well from certain innate and unchallengeable assumptions. The difference is that the right’s unchallengeable assumptions tend to be much more in synch with the facts on the ground, while the left’s assumptions would be in synch with the facts on the ground if and only if the left’s fantasies were the facts on the ground. They are not.

  321. Haidt did find that people on the right had a much better grasp of what people on the left believed, compared the other way around. This may have to do with the leftist domination of mainstream media and the schools, so leftists tend to get a cartoony version of their opposition.

  322. Old Man’s War series was really pretty good

    I thought it was OK. The second book in the series was same old same old, and I didn’t buy any more after that, not worth the money. Maybe if they were $.99… Nah, there is too much competition out there for my reading time.

  323. “Well, that all sounds very clever and neutral Joe Author, but who’s dumb enough to stand up and never shut up about racism and have a racially segregated room and dinner?”

    Fine and dandy, my friend, but who’s dumb enough to stand up and never shut up about long-time preferences versus short-time preferences, free market principles, the socio-sexual hierarchy, and patriarchy?

    ” I think the lack of that has more to do with the stunning prospect of a literary community giving awards to out and out racists, don’t you?”

    Cannot people separate the work of the author from his/her personal ideologies? Besides, haven’t you heard, there is no such thing as racism or sexism.

  324. Haidt did find that people on the right had a much better grasp of what people on the left believed, compared the other way around.

    That may be because those on the right have a greater willingness to engage than their counterparts on the left, though some may call it “trolling”. Lefties see many rightist blogs as untended cat-litter boxes.

  325. @TRX

    NO CAPES!

    @Tom Kratman
    No, I don’t know of any examples (of the single sophont army). I guess any time an AI goes into battle might count…

  326. Absolutely no capes.

    I had a conversation online…not sure where…with someone who claimed to want more mil sci fi with nanoswarms and the rest, “You know, something _different_.”

    The problem was that literarily it really wasn’t different; he’d just substituted inorganic cannon fodder for organic cannon fodder. His corporal, say, commanding a nanoswarm was just a colonel by a different name.

  327. >I would say (following Tolkien) that it is consistency and coherency of the Secondary World, sufficient to evoke what he calls Secondary Belief

    I would too. The problem is that the “consistency and coherency” cannot be rationally evaluated; when it can, you have something more in the nature of SF. There’s something more contingent and tied to pre-rational features of human psychology going on in fantasy.

  328. >Probably irrespective of religion, the problem for someone alone, and with physical issues

    The context you’re missing, known to my regulars, is that I have a mild case of cerebral palsy that causes me mobility issues. If my survival ever depends on the ability to run fast or be agile on my feet I will be fucked.

    On the other hand: I have levels of upper-body strength, aggression, pain tolerance, self-discipline, and command presence that the former SpecOps officer who taught me knife fighting considered respectable. I have been studying hand-to-hand fighting and various contact weapons for about a quarter century and can handle firearms competently. I enjoy hand-to-hand infighting a lot.

    I have not been tested in deadly combat. I believe I have courage, and I know I have a tendency to go into a lizard-brain hyper-calm state under extreme stress. I’m not much worried that I would crumple under combat pressure – I’m pretty sure I’m tougher than that – but I recognize the possibility that I might freeze during the first crucial quarter second if caught by surprise. I have undergone some stress-inoculation training, though not nearly as much as I would like.

    I may never be tested to the ultimate degree, but I’ve worked pretty hard at being ready if it ever happens.

  329. @esr: The problem is that the “consistency and coherency” cannot be rationally evaluated

    Yes, that’s true; one can sometimes give reasons why a particular fantasy story is or is not consistent and coherent, but in the end it comes down to whether the reader subjectively experiences Secondary Belief.

    However, I’m not sure why this prevents evocation of Secondary Belief from being a “deep norm” of fantasy. Unless you are saying that any “deep norm” has to be capable of rational analysis?

  330. >However, I’m not sure why this prevents evocation of Secondary Belief from being a “deep norm” of fantasy. Unless you are saying that any “deep norm” has to be capable of rational analysis?

    Maybe. Depends on what metalevel you’re addressing. I’m saying that

    1) successful evocation of secondary belief certainly is part of the deep norms of fantasy

    2) that in itself is not a very interesting observation until we have some grasp of what (non-rational) processes are involved in the reader’s mind that cause the evaluation of success.

    SF is easier to understand because the reader response to it is relatively conscious and reasoned.

  331. I believe I mentioned once a compulsion to recon. (RLTW!) I knew about the cerebral palsy, but that wasn’t really the gravimen of my comment. It may be tougher for you (or may not; after all, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger) but that’s not dispositive. I was more concerned with the probability of someone, anyone, alone, being without moral support or physical support, with decreasing chances of success therefore, and hence subject to severe demoralization, and the demoraization leading to simply giving up. The physical and technical preparations you’ve done should help. The “so badly outnumbered I just want to take one down with me” _can_ help.

    But through human history the frequency with which people, even healthy, strong, and trained people, simply gave up is sobering. It is also somewhat cynicism-inducing.

  332. The good John C. Wright above wrote this line in reference to a specific person but in fact, I think it really describes the Rabbit faction so well:

    “He wanted and needed an enemy, and when I did not provide it, he simply pretended I had. ”

    The Rabbits want and need enemies for the main purpose of validating their own sense of self worth – they preen in their faux moral superiority – for they have identified the Other and proudly ostracized them. The secondary purpose is related to the good ESR’s original thesis, that they construct a jihad for their religion of literary style, and use that jihad to purify their ranks and prove their worth of gatekeepers to trad pub world.

  333. “Well, if “Pink SF” authors were observably “failing”, there would be minimal noise coming from their philosophical opponents and there would be a precipitous drop-off in their book deals and/or published works. If “Pink SF” authors were “stupid”, they would have tremendous difficulty achieving even the slightest bit of notoriety in their field.”

    1. False assertion. To give one example, I’m still taking regular shots at Scalzi even though his blog traffic has fallen from its peak of 1.03 million pageviews per month to only 400,000 per month. And that’s as my traffic has increased from 628,000 to 1.4 million over that same period.
    2. There is a precipitous drop-off in science fiction sales; double-digit percentages in successive years according to Publisher’s Weekly despite the growing number of SF novels. The size of average contracts offered by the gatekeepers has shrunk considerably, according to the SFWA, even without taking inflation into account.
    3. None of the rabbits sell anywhere nearly as well as the people they are criticizing, even at their own publishers. Orson Scott Card has multiple books in Tor’s top 10 bestselling list. Scalzi’s bestseller, Redshirts, is Tor’s #25 bestseller as of the latest update. And many of the award-winning rabbits have never even published a single novel.
    4. True, they’re probably not actually stupid. On the other hand, contra their claims, neither are we.

  334. FWIW, I quit following Scalzi’s blog after I got tired of the constant left-wing idiocy.

  335. PapayaSF, I don’t mean dumb in a conventional sense, but dumb as in prone to massive failures of perception when it comes to the least thing abstract as opposed to designing an engine. PC typical failure is in Orwellian sentences like “pollacks are racists.” Intersectionalists will cry about a segregated high school prom the same week they invite non-whites to their racially segregated space at WisCon and did exactly that in 2013 on Twitter. However those same people can write PHP behind the scenes code for websites. In old school terms they are rednecks who whine about marijuana while drinking white lightning. That is a clear addiction to identity over the principle of a thing, just replace race and gender for the drug delivery system.

    I think “value hierarchy” is an innocent word for bigoted supremacists and the perceptually blind who follow them.

    The fact intersectionalists are in SFF in the first place while putting far down their list of priorities should tell you something’s amiss in the first place. They are the driving force in this SFF debate, not liberalism. Intersectionalism ruled this year’s Nebulas and got Ross kicked out of the Hugos. The person who started it, Farah Mendlesohn, is a radical intersectional feminist.

    “Just read Afrofuturism by Ytasha L Womack. Not sure it’s a good book but it is an important one. On my #HugoList it goes.” – Farah Mendlesohn

    There you have it: race over art.

    “Retweeted by Farah Mendlesohn Shelina Janmohamed ?@loveinheadscarf 17h White feminist privilege is just the feminist wing of white superiority @renireni #WOWLDN @WOWtweetUK” – March 8, 2014

    Even white feminists are privileged. This is not liberalism, but identity addiction and supremacy adopted by useful idiots. The top of the food chain is the opposite of Scalzi’s straight white male: the gay, non-white, women.

    For example the reason you see so much about “rape culture” and redefining rape and sexual harassment to include as much as possible is to make as many men complicit in a crime as possible. It’s a classic smearing and demonization technique bigots and supremacists use. “White privilege” is such a thing because it includes all whites. That is not liberalism.

    The fact intersectionalists claim a heightened interest in fighting supremacy and bigotry while massively indulging in it is the failure of perception. Those who are mere followers like Scalzi and Hines parrot intersectionalism by maintaining the moral and spiritual supremacy of any non-white, gay or woman, who must be listened to. Straight white males on the other hand are the listeners in this game. Do enough research and the pattern leaps out at you again and again.

    Using principle to define these people rather than identity reveals, not liberals, but the same fundamental principles as the American Nazi Party. Instead of Jews and blacks, it’s the straight white male. Ann Leckie made that pattern clear in the post I cited – they all do. I urge you to read M.J. Locke’s “Patriach’s Day” for a heady dose of identity-smearing and scapegoating.

  336. It’s true: not one of the PC brigade was in the top 100 of Amazon in SF and fantasy last I looked. Not one. M. Robinette Kowal was at #261 on her own publisher’s site, Tor. O. Scott Card occupied many places at Tor, including half the top 10.

    The PC are being rejected, and why wouldn’t they be. They spend as much time telling their audience they’re privileged racists in a historic time-frame (that goes back to “the dawn of time” as Long Hidden’s blurb put it) as they do writing fiction.

    No one in the top 20 at Amazon is among the 1,000 people listed as LonCon3’s “programme participants.” But Sunil Patel is, who was a Nebula Weekend panelist and will be a panelist at LonCon3 though not even published yet or a blogger. Neither is Patel an academic – he Tweets intersectionalism, race and gender. That’s it. That’s the whole nine yards.

    Patel (nobody from nowhere) is in because of his remarks like “It ain’t easy being white” and “Curious: how many of you refuse to watch/read something if it’s about Yet Another Straight White Man?” and “Not a single white man won an award tonight. OPPRESSION.”

    Starting to get the picture of what matters to these folks? Hint: it ain’t literature and it sure as heck isn’t “Leftist” politics, unless you want to enroll the entirety of the Dem Party in a neo-KKK.

  337. “Tor. O. Scott Card occupied many places at Tor, including half the top 10.”

    Well, he did get a movie that had Harrison Ford in it. Some sales are probably driven by that.

    Frankly, only a subset of folks care about awards as can be seen by the relative performance of movies. Publishers will want both the equivalent of summer blockbusters and poor performing oscar winners.

    I see your point but like the tea party that have been wagging the Republican Party I don’t see getting rid of them. Argue against their extreme positions and you get labeled racist or chauvinist just like in the GOP where you get labeled liberal or RINO if you don’t toe the extremist line.

    My litmus test for the GOP is whether Regan could win the nomination.

    For this, the litmus test is if some past great author (you pick) could win the Hugo/Nebula today.

    Taking back those leadership positions to change the direction of SF fandom strikes me as difficult. One I don’t think the blues can do regardless of any disparity in sales.

    GOP moderates have moved to the Democratic Party not out of desire but by being named RINOs and liberals and booted out and the extreme difficulty to change the current direction.

    Likewise it’s easier to skip world con for comic con or some other venue when it gets too weird.

    Hugo? What’s a Hugo? Never mind. Did you see the f-ing SFX in so-and-so’s movie?

  338. >FWIW, I quit following Scalzi’s blog after I got tired of the constant left-wing idiocy.

    Same here. I’ve read and enjoyed most of his fiction, though I find his larger-scale conclusions and message to be almost universally wrong.

    IMO it’s worth noting that he is, basically, the son-in-law from ‘No Truce With Kings’. His association with and loyalty to (yes, loyalty) the left is personal. I’m rather disappointed he’s gotten so stupid about it, but it’s a tribal thing.

  339. >No, I don’t know of any examples (of the single sophont army). I guess any time an AI goes into battle might count…

    I’m most definitely not a writer, but I do occasionally get ideas stuck in my head.

    One is of a man who stumbles upon advanced technology/capability, and then finds himself facing a genocidal war, a little bit like Niven’s ‘Protector’. His only working solution was to clone himself, on a large scale. (With full memory replication. The only way to distinguish a clone from the ‘original’ is the originals physical flaws, like the fillings in his teeth.) How *would* that work, I thought was an interesting question.

  340. “False assertion. To give one example, I’m still taking regular shots at Scalzi even though his blog traffic has fallen from its peak of 1.03 million pageviews per month to only 400,000 per month. And that’s as my traffic has increased from 628,000 to 1.4 million over that same period.”

    Irrelevant. The discussion point is on “published works”, i.e. books, not site traffic.

    “There is a precipitous drop-off in science fiction sales”?

    No one is disputing that fact. I am certain you will be able to muster up data regarding the status of “Pink SF” authors regarding their sales, or lack thereof, within the past five years. Looking forward to it…

    “None of the rabbits sell anywhere nearly as well as the people they are criticizing, even at their own publishers.”

    Yet, they have an audience, which may not be your cup of tea. Regardless, what they peddle has demonstrably little to do with your success as an author.

    “Starting to get the picture of what matters to these folks? Hint: it ain’t literature and it sure as heck isn’t “Leftist” politics.”??From your world view filter, yes.

    “On the other hand, contra their claims, neither are we.”

    So?

    “I got tired of the constant left-wing idiocy.”
    “for a heady dose of identity-smearing and scapegoating.”

    ?No different that the right-wing moronity of the “Blue Shirts”.

  341. Ender’s Game is the most cited on best-of lists as the greatest SF novel of all time. I doubt the movie did anything for him. Considering how [trigger warning for ableism] lame the film was, it might’ve been a wash.

    If I quoted Kowal in Variety on the other hand she might drop from #261 to dropped. Even now she’s retweeting the racist MedievalPOC site which, aside from its WisCon-style bigotry, has been laughed at by historians for its sheer stupidity, strawmen, and wishful thinking. White people are up to no good again and all tacitly agreeing with secret codes only they know to erase black people from history.

    And Joe Author, simply invoking cultural relativism without facts is no debate. If you were a judge every case would end in a tie. If you have a case to make other than reasonable-sounding but empty aphorisms, make it. Of, you can just say “I know you are but what am I?” again… and again.

    Here’s a fact for you: there is not one mainstream website with mainstream acceptance in the United States of America about “white culture.” There are scores of “black culture” sites.

    Contrary to your innuendo about he-said, she-said, there are no institutions within the SFF community devoted to lighting up gays, non-whites and women – nor has there ever been. The trend on the other side is a tidal wave of group defamation against men, ethnic Europeans, and heterosexuals.

    Vox Day has been review-censored at Tor and booted out from the SFWA for – in principle – doing what the SFWA itself routinely does, what Liz Bourke at Tor does. The difference the PC see is in identity, not principle. That lack of perception is what makes intersectionalists perfect Orwellians. There are a baker’s dozen of racist sexist supremacists nominated for Hugos this year… in principle. In identity, they are noble warriors. The truth is these morons who ramble on about how great gender-neutral words are themselves have no gender and race-neutral definitions for words like “supremacy,” “racial bigotry,” and “gender-hatred.” Their definition is set in stone, and it is the straight white male, never themselves… never.

  342. I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and I suspect there are serious problems with Eric’s analysis but I can’t quite put a finger on my misgivings. This is the best I have so far.

    What would be enough to satisfy the demands of the literary crowd? (Rabbits, SJW’s, whatever) *Could* their opponents ever do enough to satisfy them, short of total censorship/the literary crowd having absolute editorial authority?

    I personally suspect not. And I see a very strong parallel with demands for ‘reasonable’ gun control.

    It’s window dressing. No stylistic improvements would ever be enough, if they were still hung on the wrong kind of message. This is more akin to a purge.

  343. Are you done ranting?

    “Considering how [trigger warning for ableism] lame the film was…”

    Imagine a SF book made into a film, and the film’s creative team take liberty with its content, much to the chagrin of some of those who read the book! Shame on them!

    “there is not one mainstream website with mainstream acceptance in the United States of America about “white culture.”

    Steve Sailer’s site.

    “The trend on the other side is a tidal wave of group defamation against men, ethnic Europeans, and heterosexuals.”
    ?
    Versus a tidal wave of group defamation against women, “vibrants”, and homosexuals. Wow, imagine that, American society’s cultural war spilling into a genre of literature, with sides being taken and authors directly or indirectly writing material to promote their agenda with flair and ferocity. My body just tingles with excitement!

    “Vox Day has been review-censored at Tor and booted out from the SFWA for – in principle – doing what the SFWA itself routinely does.”

    Exactly my point, both sides are equal to the task of verbal pillaging and purging.

    But, in the end, it makes no difference. People will read what they want to read, write what they want to write, and publish what they want to publish, regardless of made up labels by one’s detractors and arguments over “patriarchy” and “inclusion”.

  344. “Irrelevant. The discussion point is on “published works”, i.e. books, not site traffic.”

    It’s not irrelevant at all. You claimed, with absolutely no evidence to support your claim, that “if “Pink SF” authors were observably “failing”, there would be minimal noise coming from their philosophical opponent”. That’s not the case with blog sites, and there is no reason to assume it is the case with books.

    For example, Rachel Swirsky has come in for tremendous criticism from many people for her lunatic award-winning dinosaur story, despite the fact that she has not published a single novel. Mary Robinette Kowal’s book sales are trivial (Amazon rank of 795,088 for a book published three months ago), but she has also been openly criticized by various parties as well. You apparently don’t realize that the greater part of the most vocal activist rabbits in SFWA and fandom have never published a single novel.

    “I am certain you will be able to muster up data regarding the status of “Pink SF” authors regarding their sales, or lack thereof, within the past five years. Looking forward to it.”

    Already have it. As Fail Burton has pointed out, most of those that are published, (with the exception of Scalzi), they don’t rank in the top 100 sellers of their own publisher. And since a) John Scalzi released numbers for Redshirts, and b) we publish authors who also publish with Baen and Tor, we have pretty good estimates for what it means to be #80 on Tor’s list or #261 on their list, especially when cross-referenced with Amazon ranks.

    “Yet, they have an audience, which may not be your cup of tea. Regardless, what they peddle has demonstrably little to do with your success as an author.”

    Some of them do. Most of them don’t. And you don’t seem to recognize that in a contracting market, all of our sales growth must be coming at their expense. Just as some of my blog readers are former Whatever readers, some of the people buying Larry Correia’s and Tom Kratman’s books are the very people who, some years ago, used to buy John Scalzi’s. They are mostly not the people who buy my books, of course, for the obvious reason that Scalzi does not write 850-page epic fantasy novels or treatises on economics.

    But I’m pleased to see that you appear to have finally abandoned your opinion about there being no difference between Pink SF/F and Blue SF/F.

    “No different that the right-wing moronity of the “Blue Shirts””

    This is simply not true. The pinkshirts have been actively trying to prevent people from publishing Blue SF/F for the last 25 years, all the while claiming they weren’t doing anything of the kind. No one is protesting John Scalzi’s TV show, while Orson Scott Card was chased out of a graphic novel deal due to his views.

  345. Joe Author you aren’t engaging in an honest debate but merely being contrary. Sailer’s site is NOT mainstream, but homespun. Comparing that to The Grio or The Root, each of which have car ads, hotel chain ads and ads for PBS is silly. NBC/Universal owns The Grio and WaPo owned The Root last time I checked.

    You have no facts on your side. Anyone can say he-said, she-said. If you’re a white straight male, go and join The Feminist Wire co-operative. Tell ‘em Fail sent you. They know what “fail” is. They are the living embodiment of it. What’s dumber than anti-racist racists? Thinking such people can write bright literature is a laugh. Such people never will – not in a thousand years. Intersectionalists are too dumb. They don’t even care if you can write, or about genre.

    If you’re not a published novelist, you can get on Nebula and WorldCon panels with no trouble and have short stories published in their “diversity-zines.” Just light up the West, heterosexuals, men and white folks. No talent required.

    On the other hand, be the most popular SF author in America, which O. Card arguably is, and you’re nobody from nowhere – both formally and informally blacklisted. If I did 1/10 the negative racial and gender profiling SFF’s intersectional nuthatches do, then I truly would be a racist bigot and a supremacist. There’s no white supremacist woman-hating homophobic cult of ideology on the other side of this. Provide quotes by 50 people all bound to a mirror racist cult if you can. I’ll save you the trouble – they’re not there. I know – I’ve looked. On the other hand, SFF’s foremost institutions are laced with racial and gender bigots. How a literary movement once dedicated in its higher expressions to ferreting out such identity nonsense fell so far so fast is nothing less than stunning.

    Look who are program participants at LonCon: Amal El-Mohtar, Paul Weimar, Laurie Penny, Foz Meadows, Liz Bourke, Sunil Patel, Rachel Acks, Mary Ann Mohanraj, Fran Wilde, Alex Dally MacFarlane and Rochita Loenen-Ruiz. Look them up and tell me what they do. Take away their constant whining and they are completely invisible people, but they’re rewarded for producing virtually nothing in this genre but rabble-rousing hate-speech. For that they’re “names.”

  346. Greg: Absolutely. Note how as actual, identifiable instances of “white privilege” have vastly decreased in recent decades, the concept has become evermore prominent. Reformers rarely declare victory. Instead they move the goalposts and find increasingly minor things to be outraged about. E.g.: MADD. It’s also connected to political correctness as a positional good.

    Joe Author: You have got to be kidding. Steve Sailer is “mainstream”? Try inviting him to speak on campus, if you don’t mind the Chief Diversity Officer leading a mob that burns the campus to the ground.

    And where is this “a tidal wave of group defamation against women, “vibrants”, and homosexuals”? In the mainstream media? On the campuses? In the laws? On the streets? I don’t think some websites and internet comments and perhaps a few books counts as anywhere near “equal” to the forces aligned on the other side.

  347. People have been faced with this problem since there have been people, I think. Most find a less principled accommodation. That’s the way to bet it happening.

    I’m not sure how to rank order more or less principled accommodation at least among the humanly possible reactions.

    There is an argument for under pressure in effect holing up with the clan and faced with an outsider shoot, shovel and shut up. That can happen in the hills or on the mean streets of Chicago. I knew a man who engaged in a little vigilante activity under circumstances of when asked he could say: ” somebody was going to kill him anyway; why do you think it was me?” I’ve known a few old fashioned gun fighters who were happier with a badge and license – and a few with all the skills and not the will. I asked one of my acquaintance why he had not shot a particular individual (I had reviewed the file for the defense team and the question was in the form: I would have shot him, why didn’t you?) and the answer was “I don’t want to kill anybody. I could have killed half a dozen more people that would have been written up as righteous” – and I don’t know that either man was more or less principled. I know the second man took early retirement for nervous in the service. But I respect him mightily.

    The only man I’ve ever had experience with who was faced with the issue of his daughter’s ear so to speak ( I married his granddaughter) was active in the most violent part of the United States (no not the old west the South) as a Federal Agent and leader of Federal Agents during prohibition. Had it been literally I think there would have been blood feud regardless. As it was he decided to change agencies. The alternative would not have been cooperating with bootleggers. That was never an option. The alternative would have been: I’ll be the judge and I’ll be the jury and I’ll be the executioner too said cunning old fury.

    As I say I’m not sure what’s less principled. And I am sure that continuing as if the threat had never been made is not humanly possible. Not sure it’s even desirable. That makes it hard to rank order the rules.

  348. >There’s no white supremacist woman-hating homophobic cult of ideology on the other side of this.

    Checked out Vox Day’s blog lately?

    I won’t argue either for or against the proposition that Vox fits that description right now. I do point out, however, that anyone who lives within the left-liberal media cocoon is going to be incapable of understanding any argument against. These people still honestly believe that the concept of “race” has no biological basis, and several other equally huge and equally relevant fallacies.

  349. Papaya these people purposefully conflate anomalous individuals with actual institutions. That’s why they multiply Vox Day like a hall of mirrors. Second place is John Wright who has certain religious reservations no different – at least in general principles – to the Muslims intersectionalists never light up. Third is L. Corriea, and they have to make up quotes that don’t exist even for that. Next is Sarah Hoyt, who’s never lit up gays, blacks or women from some supremacist stance. Throw in Card and one or two others in no way united by an ideology and that’s the great enemy all this BS is about. The rest of it is privilege and micro-aggressions and bad white colonialists who are by an amazing coincidence always white frontiersmen or redcoats and never Mughals and Aztecs. In plainer words these people are nuts as well as liars.

    Here’s a wonderful example of PC delusion: at his Continuum Guest of Honor speech, Jim Hines starts out “I wish I was exaggerating.”

    He then proceeds to entertain us in the very next sentence with the following perfectly Orwellian bit of doublethink.

    “I’ve rarely seen anyone deliberately posting ‘no girls allowed’ or ‘whites only’ signs on the clubhouse, and that’s a good thing. But it’s not enough. We send messages about who is and isn’t welcome in a thousand other, subtler ways.”

    So, Hines is basically suggesting he had a campsite surrounded with 40 bears, then says “I wish I was exaggerating” and then tells us there were and are no bears but there might be because… In other words, Hines tells us he wishes he was exaggerating precisely nothing. To me it’s mind-boggling to read something like that, not only from an adult, but a WRITER! A writer who obviously doesn’t know the meaning of words or logic. Can you hear Orwell spinning? These are Hines’ windmills he tilts at.

    Here’s another great one: Sunil Patel steps out of line and intersectionalist Fran Wilde Tweets “If you think reframing an eloquent thing a woman said but selectively editing then posting it is ok, you are neither a friend NOR an ally.”

    That kills me every time I read it. “…an eloquent thing a women said.” Man that’s funny. No, these people aren’t supremacists. Not at all.

    Here’s Patel’s lowering of the eyes apology, and they still lit him up:

    https://twitter.com/ghostwritingcow/status/475328900487081985

    Too bad. Once faithful “ally” had to eat crow and do penance to stay on board the Lady-Ship. Hahahaha. Don’t worry, he’ll make it up by saying something clever about the Morlockian Whites who rule minds and all of time and space.

  350. ESR, one guy’s a cult? An institution? A trend that created intersectionalism in SFF? I think you can do better than that. Let’s not strawman each other. No one’s saying “NONE.” By that standard I could fight racism until the sun goes out. We’re talking about institutional barriers. If all black folks had to worry about was some single guy, there never would’ve been Jim Crow. That’s the fundamental argument here, that there are institutional barriers in SFF purposely and casually aimed at discomfiting non-whites, gays, and women. That’s BS. Intersectionalism’s idea of that is a mainstream TV host treated like the KKK. By that standard, what isn’t the KKK? I stand by my comment.

  351. “Checked out Vox Day’s blog lately?”

    (laughs)

    “These people still honestly believe that the concept of “race” has no biological basis, and several other equally huge and equally relevant fallacies.”

    That’s why it’s not even possible to begin to have a rational conversation with them. I’ll bet I could join the Indian tribe for which I recently learned I am eligible, be elected chief, and they’d still insist that it just proves I’m a white supremacist who hates all People of Color.

  352. The premise that “SF needs to be ‘great literature'” is indeed a nearly apt idea. But it founders on one massive iceberg. Much of the so called “great literature” is C–P, and pretentious C–P at that. An honest definition would be books/stories/etc. that stands the test of time. Most of Shakespeare (poetry/plays) is good 300 years later. Much of Charles Dickens is still good. Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Korsakoff, even some Wagner, are all listened too, and enjoyed, well after their lives ended. About 20% “Rock & Roll” of the 50’s to 70’s is still listened to, and enjoyed. An amazing amount of Jazz (Big Band & other) is heard and teenagers go. “Wow that’s really good.”
    Now, look at the current crop of books/music/plays, and the last 40 years, of loudly proclaimed “great performances.” (What, you can’t _find_ them?) :-) I read Octavia Butler and even LeGuin’s “Lathe of Heaven.” When I read them the _first_ time, my reactions was. “Meh.” (Meaning it was okay, but nowhere near as good as everyone seemed to think. Keep in mind that I will read cereal boxes/milk cartons, etc., from boredom.) By contrast, E.E. “Doc” Smith, while *horribly dated,” is still enjoyable to re-read. Similarly, I find authors like Vonnegut/Lem/Dale Brown, to be almost unreadable, at best, and at worst absolute c–p. (Note: I have actually tried Vonnegut and Brown more than once.)
    As to referring to Weber as a “hack,” we should remember that Twain/Dickens/Shakespeare were all “hacks.” As was Louis L’Amour. Finally, as _I_ see it, the “problem” with Indie Author earnings is it’s so new. (Note: I’ve owned/run several businesses, and am _very_ well known on LinkedIn as ‘knowledgeable about advertising, marketing and selling.) Most have No (zip, zero, nada) knowledge of how to market their books, or themselves. In fact, most authors have little or no knowledge on the subject. A few halfway decent books are coming out about “How to market your book (the right way).” But, authors are learning, and their sales go *up,* as they learn. Considering that authors used to depend on”publishers” to do the job (often inadequately, unless you were a “star’), it’s not surprising; However, I know a couple of authors one of whom makes a decent living from sales. Not a champagne level of income, but a “Guinness, once in a while” income. My first book (PoD) comes out in Kindle/dead tree versions in the next couple of weeks. and in order to make the same _gross_ income as I did working in 1992, I only need to sell 10,185 copies (Kindle and DT combined). That works out to 845 a month on average. (Unlikely with a Christmas/YA/Christian themed book, but possible). But, considering that I have _four_ others (one a ‘rant” about being handicapped,” and _three_ cook books for single/handicapped) all coming out by end of 20125, ~175 of each per month is possible. I also hope to have more along with those, but flow depends on income from the first. (For reference, $22K/year is a little better than minimum wage income, today. In 1992, it was low level, professional entry wages.) I’d call that “making a living.”

  353. That kills me every time I read it. “…an eloquent thing a women said.” Man that’s funny. No, these people aren’t supremacists. Not at all.

    *That’s* supremacism?

    It’s got an annoying tone, I’ll grant you, but that Sunil does sound pretty annoying.

  354. You are wrong. It is politics that is primary, and literary snobbery is merely a secondary effect of recruiting on political grounds authors who have absolutely no interest in science fiction.

    Let us look at the gamma rabbit himself. Early works are good science fiction, and horribly politically incorrect (Old man’s war). He retcons his universe to make it PC, and his work turns to utter shit.

  355. Yes, Adrian, when a white, Jew, Arab, black, male or woman believes their utterances carry special weight by virtue of the fact they are white, a Jew, Arab, black, male, or a woman, that’s supremacism. That is especially true in the context of a formal ideology these people share that believes in the moral and spiritual supremacy of women.

    I keep trying to get people to go to M.J. Locke’s page and read her “Patriarch’s Day,” but let me give you some choice quotes:

    “…patriarchy has exacted a major toll on me personally.”

    “We (women) are gagged and bound by the rules and roles patriarchy imposes on us.”

    “…unconscious bias on the part of men/whites makes it more difficult for audiences to discover the works of some seriously badass writers.”

    “Dear Men: The solution is not easy, but it is simple. Believe women.”

    “Respect our ideas. Even when we are young and cute and perky in your eyes, and the little brain is distracting you from our words and making you want to hump us.”

    “Women are watching. Every time you signal through intimidation or lurid or snide remarks that your needs and perspective matter more than one woman’s, other women notice.”

    “And maybe you bought the stories, the ones in which the brave young (white, straight, cis, able) guy got the girl in the end.”

    “Listen, then, to our strong, brave soothsayers, those who have come to join our circle of storytellers.”

    “More generic stuff: men interrupting and talking over me, men explaining subjects in condescending detail about which I knew more than they did, not letting me get a word in edgewise; men using their size and louder voices to intimidate me.”

    “As I mentioned… plenty of men in the world don’t do all the terrible things to women I’ve described in these posts.”

    And here’s the first comment:

    “Dear Laura, these entries are harrowing but necessary in showing misogyny as a toxic gas in the atmosphere we breathe. Thank you for naming mothers, sisters, partners, daughters”

    I’m surprised she didn’t say “Dear Comrade.” Just imagine they’re talking about black people. “Gee I know ALL blacks aren’t criminals but…” The only thing this patronizing woman doesn’t do is pat men on the head and say we don’t know any better and ask us to please stop eating fried chicken and watermelons. An entire post about the bad effects of profiling while profiling. Nice. Smart. Perceptive. Maybe I’m weird but I usually light up people AFTER they commit a crime rather than looking at their skin and pants. This is bigotry, not social justice, not a cry for social justice. It is supremacy. Women are more moral than men. End of story.

  356. “We (women) are gagged and bound by the rules and roles patriarchy imposes on us.”

    Thank heavens women don’t impose any rules and roles on men! Am I right, guys?

  357. I had in fact read Locke’s series, or at least the first two, and didn’t find it that exceptionable. She had some bad experiences with men being entitled and thoughtless and wanted to share them, and it turned out that a lot of women had similar experiences. Maybe they made it all up to make men look bad and score points. But it sounded plausible enough to me.

    Now, you might be hung up on “patriarchy”, and I know many on the right view it the way those on the left view “political correctness”, as an ideological construct designed to make their side look bad. But there’s another way of looking at them both – patriarchy is just the (natural and good, or at least unchangeable) way things are to the right, while political correctness is the (natural and good) way things are *becoming* to the left (which is why they get all triumphalist and tomorrow-belongs-to-me about their successes). Neither is really an ideology, because ideologies are explicit, and I don’t know a good terminology.

    But the masculine response, to me, is not to care. OK, I don’t have a big commitment to the health of the genre like Eric, but if he’s right in his political history, this too should pass eventually. I mean, you could try setting up an Alternative Hugo (with the motto, “Space – It Was Never Meant To Be Safe”), but I doubt it would be worth it.

  358. The Rabbits are losing readers, including me – Scazi won’t see another dollar of my money – because politics/liberal agenda is more important that the the story.

  359. Yes, Adrian, when a white, Jew, Arab, black, male or woman believes their utterances carry special weight by virtue of the fact they are white, a Jew, Arab, black, male, or a woman, that’s supremacism.

    They only believe their utterances carry special weight when they’re talking about the *experience(s) of women* (mainly, I don’t pay that much attention to intersection due to time constraints).

  360. > Hugo? What’s a Hugo? Never mind. Did you see the f-ing SFX in so-and-so’s movie?

    That’s a good point, even about books. When someone tells me about this fantastic new movie they just saw, and I ask them what it was about, they’re likely as not to start off telling me all about the rad kewl special FX. At which point I usually have another Alien Encounter, trying to extract information from someone with a profoundly different worldview… a person who, likely as not, never had any expectation that whatever they watched would make sense if they strung all the bits together. Their worldview is nonlinear, focusing on specific events instead of continuity.

    Lately I’ve been reading (in some cases, re-reading) some of the New Wave SF from the 1960s. Though mainly a British fad, a lot of American authors played around with it too. I hated the stuff 40 years ago, and I mostly hate it today… but now I’m finally able to articulate what it was that annoyed me so much with many of those stories. The stories are nonlinear; some stream-of-consciousness, some unrelated vignettes, OH LOOK A SQUIRREL!, a dash of downbeat introspection, oops – out of space, we’re done.

  361. Adrian, the objection to the formulations of Locke et al is not that they are “making up” mistreatment of crimes by men. The objection is that they generalize from those experiences and condemn all men for the actions of a subset, and elaborate that sweeping generalization and collective guilt into (essentially) a conspiracy theory.

    I would not go so far as Fail Burton and claim this is “supremacism,” but it is certainly the precise equivalent of someone claiming all blacks are criminals, all women are stupid, and all Jews are greedy. Of course, those would be instantly recognized as dim-witted stereotypes by the very SJWs who can blab endlessly about how all straight white men are tainted with racism, sexism, and homophobia. The double standards have become institutionalized and blatant: they fight prejudice against groups by being prejudiced against certain groups. They practice inclusion by excluding. They fight hate by hating the haters.

  362. I’ve waded through so much of this discussion, and come to this conclusion. PLEASE, EVIL LEAGUE OF EVIL…….get back to writing the books that I love so much and buy on Amazon. That especially means you Correia, and you Kratman, and Vox, and Sarah!
    And yes, I love buying at $0.99-$4.99 on Amazon. It gives me a chance to try out new authors with minimal pain if it’s crap. Some of the stuff is execrable, and some is promising.
    Now get back to writing the books you evil leaguers!

  363. “Or have the (perhaps radioactive) purple sequined survival suits damaged Andrew’s brain?”

    OMG! This Luscinia character was the guy in the sparkly purple spandex onesie?

  364. She had some bad experiences with men being entitled and thoughtless and wanted to share them, and it turned out that a lot of women had similar experiences.

    The ultimate entitlement attitude: believing you can show no backbone and have nice things. I mean, you can have virtually TOTAL safety where men are almost completely harmless, and these losers will STILL complain about being “intimidated”. I can’t fathom how fucking dumb you have to be to believe this gobbledygook. It must be like living in a drunken, dream-like state.

  365. They only believe their utterances carry special weight when they’re talking about the *experience(s) of women* (mainly, I don’t pay that much attention to intersection due to time constraints).

    Wrong.

  366. > These people still honestly believe that the concept of “race” has no biological basis

    Yeah, they seem to have a huge blind spot about the results those Swiss got when they sequenced the Neanderthal genome back in 2010 and compared it to H. Sapiens by race.

    You’d think the ideologues on either side would be glad to have some hard data to hammer each other with. But it might involve more critical thinking than they’re up for.

    [caveat: "correlation does not imply causation." Just because some of the DNA is the same, doesn't necessarily mean the two species interbred; it could just be some older DNA from a common ancestor that only appears in some H. Sapiens. .]

  367. What about where Locke says “As I mentioned… plenty of men in the world don’t do all the terrible things to women I’ve described in these posts.”? Surely you’ve seen the “Not All Men” thing?

    What they’re pissed off with is men who jump up and say “Well, *I* don’t harass/rape/whatever women” like they want a cookie or something, and who feel that that’s enough. They want men to help make sexist behaviour unacceptable, by openly condemning it when they see it.

    Some of them may seem insufficiently appreciative of our host’s training women to blow away hooded rapists hiding in the bushes on windy autumn evenings. But he’s had to put up with worse things than ingratitude in his time.

  368. The “Rabbits”, as the author calls them, are a kind of hysterical religion. Facts are irrelevant to them. The next generation will look back with amazement and considerable mirth on their pronouncements about how many genders can dance on the head of a pin.

  369. I’ve read about that little disagreement for a while. At least one SF (I don’t remember who) author wrote an open letter to the SFWA, taking them to task for reasons elaborated above (and may have burned his card).

    Would “Canticle for Leibowitz” win a Hugo these days?

  370. The authorship of SF-F has always been very slanted to the left. So what has changed?

    1) Readers are more aware of the political slant of authors now than prior to the Internet. Before you could glean something of a writer’s politics from their fiction but it almost always was something that informed and motivated a tale not the reason for the tale itself.

    2) Fantasy was the stepchild of SF in the fantastic genre space. That’s now completely flipped and the rigor of ideas that was once a hallmark of good SF has been diminished as an ideal.

    3) SF-F is no longer the pop culture ghetto and is now basically keeping a bunch of old media empires alive. The current obsession of people in those industries with sex/gender, trans issues, etc. has infected the genre from this source due to all of the money coming in from it.

    4) (And this is the biggie.) The Left has changed and has essentially been captured by Rousseauian romanticism away from the materialism–and belief in social and technological progress–of Marx and Lenin. Prior to the 60s the broader readership of SF and its authors were both on the same page that technology was good or at least was the basic human tool to solve problems and so the stories that the authors wanted to tell would resonate. Now the Left largely rejects technology as a solution and the new authors, still of the Left as in the past, carry that POV.

    All this ties together to lead to the current fights. New authors want to see the Left’s basic project of the perfectibility of human existence carried out not through technological means but to immanentize the eschaton through what amounts to thought control that only allows proper thinking to occur. Readers are more aware of the ideological goals of writers, however, and resist by drifting away from the genre.

  371. who feel that that’s enough. They want men to help make sexist behaviour unacceptable, by openly condemning it when they see it.

    Alternate solution: women start exercising all this supposed “strength” and “equality”. Woops, women are inferior, ergo this is never going to happen. What can happen, and this is happens extensively in nature, is that women sucker the dumber, weaker men into giving them free shit without giving anything in return.

  372. Definition of feminism: the female variant (there are many variants) of the mental disorder where one’s individual shortcomings are erroneously seen as group shortcomings.

  373. Adrian, maybe I’m confused, but I think you are missing the point of the “Not All Men” thing. “Not All Men” is meant sarcastically. They are mocking men who (rightly) point out that most men aren’t rapists, etc. It’s another statement of the collective guilt of men (“patriarchy”/”male privilege”). They are not asking to be helped or “white knighted” (as their term goes), they are insisting that men (as a group) are the problem, including anyone who says “not all men” (because at the very least, the people who deny the guilt of some men are minimizing the problem). And they have an elaborate ideological worldview to back it all up, with a complexity and completeness that rivals Hamas’ view of Zionism. They don’t want men to merely “condemn it when they see it,” they want the wholesale adoption of their worldview.

    I am not saying that there is no harassment or other poor behavior at SF cons. Of course there is, as is true anywhere, but especially when geeks and nerds gather. They don’t always know how to act around other people. (I know, what a shock!) But what I object to is the elevation of social awkwardness and bad manners into SEXISM and RACISM and HOMOPHOBIA and TRANSPHOBIA and whatever else is this year’s new taboo. Every incident becomes political, a crisis, a chance to express outrage, another “proof” of the correctness of their particular political stance. And then the mob, having assigned everyone their roles (Oppressor/Oppressed/Defender of the Oppressed) goes into a little frenzy of mutual back-patting and self-congratulation. I’m sure it’s like that at a KKK meeting when someone mentions the latest crime committed by a black person. “See, SEE! It’s like we always say!!” It’s all very cathartic and bonding for a group to believe they see yet another proof of the rightness of their worldview, but it’s pretty predictable and tedious to me.

  374. *shrug* I think Holly Lisle beat both camps to the essential point years ago with her lil essay, “How to Write Suckitudinous Fiction.” The “Rabbits” seem to have used that essay as a How-to. The “League of Evil” just seems to be a bunch of folks who like (or are driven, as Sarah Hoyt claims for herself) to write stories folks want to read. As far as I can see, The “League of Evil” pretty much accomplishes that, warts and all. The “Rabbits”? Notsomuch. When someone can’t tell a story, as every “Rabbit” I’ve read–or tried to–I have found it best to just stop reading crap by them (and warn others who like fiction to be a well-told story, “Warning: there be crap over there.”).

    Voting with my wallet is a pretty honest way to stick it to folks who want to ruin fiction–not just SciFi.

    Ah, but David Weber. . . *sigh* Millions of words in print and NO ONE has managed to get through his head what “temporal” means (and apparently none of his proofreaders or editors know either). *heh*

  375. The greatest sci-fi (and crime stories for that matter) were written for pulp magazines and paperbooks by very smart people who were just trying to make a buck.

    And this has always been true. Jules Verne was trying to make a buck. Mark Twain was trying to make a buck. Shakespeare, himself, was just trying to make a buck.

    No great story ever came from someone trying to produce a work of art. Exposing something as per Solzhenitsyn and Hugo, yes. But trying to make a work of art as per Joyce, no.

    Think original Star (let’s make a buck) Trek to The Next (oh, look how smart we are) Generation.

  376. I think the author fails to appreciate the power and coordinating metaphor of left-wing politics in our world. There are no coincidences. It is not in any way an accident that the editorial boards and editors of the non-Baen publishers are very left-wing; as with university faculties, they hire people who resemble themselves and refuse to hire anybody who confronts them or disagrees with them politically.

    The inevitable consequence, as with universities, is that the editors use their influence to control the message put on paper by their printers. You don’t teach courses in American History that extoll Western virtues, praise American expansion, and promote American Exceptionalism. Not and keep your job.

    The market will correct some of the problem, but not the core problem. As long as left-wing publishers control the majority of the volume of publishing, SF will not progess anywhere except at the peripheries. Critical praise will be more and more disassociated with commercial success, conventions will be organized and run by lackies of the Imperium, who will be largely feminist and anti-American, and good times will only be had by those holding private parties at the hotels.

    There are so many choices that can be made by readers to meet their own tastes that it will be no problem to steer around the shoals. As long as Baen Books is not taken down by a cabal of leftist publishers interfering with its access to market, they still print it faster than I can read it.

  377. Of course they’re mocking them! They want men – all men, or as many as possible – to help eradicate (or at least reduce) sexist behaviour, and those men are washing their hands of it – “Nope, I don’t do that, not my problem, stop blaming me!”

    They don’t want men to merely “condemn it when they see it,” they want the wholesale adoption of their worldview.

    Everybody wants the wholesale adoption of their worldview. It’s a pipedream, I wouldn’t lose sleep over it. Just say “Yes, dear”, (under your breath, of course) and go about your business.

    I get the impression there was some pretty bad behaviour at cons back in the day, and that the situation has improved quite a bit. If guys on the spectrum have problems reading people, an explicit harassment policy may help them keep an eye on their boundaries. It’s a shame if some are intimidated into staying home, sure, but should we be privileging their feelings over those of female attendees, and if so why?

    I’ve also seen suspicion that some genuine predators have been using the aspie excuse for cover, and it’s probably worth stamping down on that.

  378. “Scazi won’t see another dollar of my money”

    The only good thing about Scazi is Wil Wheaton.

    Anyway, I was walking around Baltimore today when I noticed some con goers and I asked which con thinking it was maybe otakon (next week) and my son would get a kick out of it if I took him. So I asked these guys if they were at otakon. No they were at Bronycon.

    My blank stare got one to state “My Little Pony”,

    I must have frowned and looked at him funny because one of the other guys shrugged and somewhat defensively stated “my girlfriend likes it”.

    So I just nodded and moved on.

    Being cynical I figure this is why a lot of guys go along with many weird things.

  379. I’m curious to know where you think Neal Stephenson fits? He hangs with Rabbits and his protagonists are often hipsters but when push comes to shove it’s the cavemen cousins from Utah who save the day. He also jumps the lit-crit boundary line, no?

  380. > It’s also connected to political correctness as a positional good.

    I remember seeing that. I think we’ve talked about it here before.

    Lots of truly horrific things are best explained as positional goods. Like avant gardeism.

  381. Before I started following this controversy, I hated Scalzi’s books. Now, thanks to ESR and the ELoE’s efforts, I understand why I hate them. Both have my sincere gratitude. Please continue your efforts, if not as allies, then at least as co-belligerents.

  382. > Shakespeare, himself, was just trying to make a buck.

    Oh, come now. Shakespeare was trying to make a _shilling_, if you please.

    *Goes away muttering about bloody colonials imposing their currency everywhere*

  383. >I’m curious to know where you think Neal Stephenson fits?

    I know him slightly. Like Benford, he’s too big to need to be in this fight. Like Benford, I’m pretty sure he’d choose the ELoE if absolutely forced to to it. But since I’m not joining the ELoE myself, I couldn’t fault him for the reluctance I expect he’d feel.

  384. >The only good thing about Scazi is Wil Wheaton.

    Oh, be fair. Old Man’s War wasn’t bad ersatz Heinlein. Of course he’s gone downhill since.

  385. Fail Burton on 2014-08-02 at 12:50:16 said:Here’s a fact for you: there is not one mainstream website with mainstream acceptance in the United States of America about “white culture.” There are scores of “black culture” sites.

    That’s because American culture is default white. All major Americans cultural institutions and genres that were not established as something else are de facto white. We own “downtown”. It was created both as “what white people do” and “what Americans do”. When it was finally accepted that non-whites are also “Americans”, “downtown” was desegregated. But the presence of non-white minorities in these institutions and genres doesn’t fundamentally alter their underlying “white” character, nor their position as representative of the whole society.

    Because of that, white Americans as a class don’t have or want or need anything “white”. There are white subgroups that have distinctive stuff: Cajuns, Appalachian whites, cowboys, Jews, various Euro-ethnic-Americans. But trying to label anything as being for all of the 85% who are white, and for no one else, doesn’t seem to have much point except exclusion of non-whites from spaces that are otherwise universal.

    It’s a demographic artifact.

    PapayaSF on 2014-08-02 at 22:28:28 said:
    Adrian, the objection to the formulations of Locke et al is not that they are “making up” mistreatment of crimes by men. The objection is that they generalize from those experiences and condemn all men for the actions of a subset, and elaborate that sweeping generalization and collective guilt into (essentially) a conspiracy theory.

    I would not go so far as Fail Burton and claim this is “supremacism,” but it is certainly the precise equivalent of someone claiming all blacks are criminals…

    No, it’s not. It’s the equivalent of noting that some forms of criminal activity are dangerously frequent among blacks, and that while only a minority of blacks actually engage in this behavior, a much larger proportion, who seem to be the cultural mainstream, tacitly approve or enable it – by rationalizing it, excusing it, denying it, socially accepting the perpetrators, or attacking those who oppose it. Which unfortunately is true.

    Or the equivalent of noting that violent jihadism is dangerously frequent among Moslems… [repeat previous paragraph].

    For a sweeping generalization to gain wide acceptance – either it matches a lot of people’s real-world experience, or it’s pushed hard by a determined prospiracy. Or both.

  386. A reader called my attention to this, and I read through it although I confess not carefully through the comments. I am amazed at the heat this generates.

    When I got into this racket, only about fifteen people made a living at writing science fiction. Mote in God’s Eye got what was at that time more than double the largest advance ever paid for a single SF novel — and earned out. Lucifer’s Hammer did rather better than that. The Dispossessed, which won the Hugo in Australia the year Mote was eligible — the book wasn’t published in Australia until a year later — was a good work by Ursula Le Guin; whether it would have won against Mote in the United States isn’t knowable, and hardly matters. It is now #31,561 on the Amazon list, and continues to sell. Mote stands at #10,323 and also enjoys a reasonable sale. Hammer stands at #5500, not all that bad for a 40 year old book.

    All three of those books were written at a time when The New Wave of “speculative fiction” was sweeping over science fiction. I was never sure what new wave meant, although it is unlikely that it put story over mood and character. Whatever it meant it was absorbed into the field over time, while fantasy stole science fiction’s lunch, so to speak, and now sells a lot better than science fiction.

    Still there are decent sales in science fiction, and science fiction writers stand reasonably high in public estime — much higher than Member of Congress. I have made a living at science fiction for more than forty years, and I have seen many of these internecine battles come and go. When I first got into SF things were generally a bit more congenial among SF pros (and there were fewer of us), even during the Cold War and the Viet Nam war, which were far more divisive (and probably for better reasons) than the modern contretemps.

    I make a living telling stories. As I said in the Britannica article I did on Science Fiction, the old line SF writer tended to be bards of the sciences. We sing for our suppers, just as the old Bronze Age bards who went from campfire to campfire. “Here, fill my cup with that wine and cut me a good chunk of that mutton, and I’ll tell you a story of men who can fly, and a tale about a virgin and bull…”

    I don’t write for literary acclaim and I’m of the school that wants to get science fiction out of the classroom and back in the streets where it belongs, and I find modern Literary Critical Theory a bit incomprehensible, but the nice thing about the computer revolution is that there’s room for everyone now. Any author who has a following can now be followed by that readership. I think that’s great.

    As to racism, when I was growing up in the then legally segregated South, I concluded in high school that the law ought to be colorblind, and I was thought a hopeless left winger and probably a communist. Now seventy years after high school, I think the law ought to be colorblind, and I understand that many think I am a hopeless right winger and probably a fascist. Interesting. But then I wrote a doctoral thesis on the meaninglessness of the terms left wing and right wing — and continue to use those terms in ordinary discourse. Ah Well.

    Jerry Pournelle

  387. The “rabbits” lost me very early on when a couple of the more strident members told me that attempts at objectivity, ie, voting for story over agitprop, was simply more patriarchal oppression and that I should check my privilege. I wish to God I was kidding about that.

  388. No, it’s not. It’s the equivalent of noting that some forms of criminal activity are dangerously frequent among blacks, and that while only a minority of blacks actually engage in this behavior, a much larger proportion, who seem to be the cultural mainstream, tacitly approve or enable it

    A useful parallel, which the intersectionalists will unfortunately be somewhat conflicted about invoking.

  389. Rich Rostrum, were that the case, why was there a KKK? An accidental demographic majority does not serve the same goals or purpose as a supremacist racial ideology. Those “whites” are broken down in Poles, Catholics and Jews who were once discriminated against, Irish, Greeks, etc. These so-called whites don’t have any interest in knowing how many whites died in a plane crash, scored in an NBA game or any of that. Read The Root and learn the difference.

    As for Locke, were anyone to do what she did in regard to Muslims or black folks, she’d come tearing them up. It’s that double standard which is at the heart of intersectionalism. I measure intersectionalism by how much it ignores its own so-called principles, not by how much they violate mine, though if I were an author in core SFF, I’d be pretty angry about the blatant discrimination and even open conspiracies to push fiction according to identity while claiming the reason intersectionalism exists is to combat those very things.

    In fact the reason intersectionalism exists is to advocate gay non-white women and contrast them favorably to straight white men. Exactly how many times does one need to hear about straight white men to realize they are to intersectionalism what a Jew and black is to neo-Nazism? Nothing within intersectionalism is ever expressed without it at once hyping women and taking down men. The problem is morality doesn’t work like that nor does principle or law. Were I to trust everyone who was white and no one who was black, I’d be living in a world of delusion.

    In intersectionalspeak, so-called straight white men created the Civil Rights movement and brought it to a close in a battle that raged from 1787 on through fears of Balkanization due to slave states in creating America, the Northwest Ordinance, the Civil War, Jim Crow, Brown vs. Board of Education and finally the mid-60s. The non-existent principles of intersectionalism work in a precise opposite manner to that trend. Were intersectionalism applied to baseball, considering the race and gender of batter and pitcher would destroy it in about 3 seconds. Intersectionalism’s strike zone moves about like a nervous bird and again, in a manner precisely opposite to our Constitution, where in intersectionalism I am an accessory to all things men do after the fact, but only negative, never positive. There are no positive profilings of straight white men within intersectionalism – none. There are no negative profilings of gay black women. And that should tell you all you need to know.

    That is a moral ghetto I have been placed in and with a mark of Cain.

  390. By the way, Requires Only That You Hate has apparently been outed. But since intersectionalists write the same bigoted trash under their real names with no consequences, and ROTYH stopped adding posts in January (and erasing some) does anyone really care?

  391. Tom Kratman on 2014-07-31 at 17:13:27 said:

    the individualist society, qua individualist society, is unlikely to impart the right attitudes to create forces that can defend that society.

    Saga period Iceland was, in a sense extremely individualist. On the other hand they were a theocracy without a state. Every posse leader was a judge and a priest. In that religion, during the period that they were capable of defending themselves, was sort of mandatory, they were extremely collectivist.

  392. VD on 2014-08-02 at 14:56:04 said:

    some of the people buying Larry Correia’s and Tom Kratman’s books are the very people who, some years ago, used to buy John Scalzi’s.

    John Scalzi’s early works were non political, and to the extent that they were political, were reactionary: In the universe of his early books, imperialism is good, colonialism is good, the universe is hostile, war is necessary and justified, military dictatorship is good, democracy is a corrupt and fraudulent scam run by corrupt and evil people, military discipline is good.

    And they were pretty good books.

    Now that he is PC, his books suck.

  393. Rich Rostrom on 2014-08-03 at 02:17:15 said:

    Because of that, white Americans as a class don’t have or want or need anything “white”. There are white subgroups that have distinctive stuff: Cajuns, Appalachian whites, cowboys, Jews, various Euro-ethnic-Americans. But trying to label anything as being for all of the 85% who are white, and for no one else, doesn’t seem to have much point except exclusion of non-whites from spaces that are otherwise universal.

    How would you know what they want or need when supplying such a need is a criminal offense?

    Because of separation of Church and state, people are allowed to segregate themselves in Churches. And they do.

    Indeed, wherever whites can get away with segregation, they segregate, even at terrible cost.

    I recently moved from Silicon Valley to a whiteopia. Every so often I see a stall on a country road offering stuff for sale, with no one manning the stall. You just take what you want and drop the money in a lockbox. I never lock my garage, which is full of stuff. I usually don’t lock my door when I leave.

    I never realized how much anger, fear, hatred, and tension diversity inflicted until I got away from it. Gradually and slowly a huge load lifted from my shoulders.

  394. @ZZ mike:

    “I’ve read about that little disagreement for a while. At least one SF (I don’t remember who) author wrote an open letter to the SFWA, taking them to task for reasons elaborated above (and may have burned his card). ”

    The author’s name is John C Wright. Not only would CANTICLE not win these days, but if this year’s results are anything to go by, nothing that is actually good will ever win again.

    Nothing. Ever.

    Does anyone here know how the fine arts racket works? Non-artists produces rubbish a dump heap would not accept as claims it to be a political statement. No one outside the art world has even the smallest interest whatsoever. Art critic selects who will be the big names that season. He slips the info to his friends, who buy up the rubbish. Art critic then announces to the Art World who the alleged genius of the season is, and he artwork he just bought goes up in price as art museums clamor for it. And the Art critic also has friends on the government boards who decide who gets grants and goodies supplied by the tax payer, and the friend bestow it on the so called artists who follow along with the program and don’t rock the boat. Producing quality work might cost more time and money than painting a blank square of blue on a canvass, or even submitting a blank canvass (I am not making up either example).

    What makes anyone think this cannot happen to ‘official’ SFWA-backed and academically studies SF as it has happened, first to painting and then to poetry? There are already classes in universities studying SF.

    Meanwhile, outside the art world, real artists still draw and paint, things like calendars and album covers and paperback covers. Posters. Things people want.

  395. “Being obtuse is neither intelligent, nor clever, nor enlightening. Say what you mean with clarity. That is minimum hurdle for this blog. Otherwise, you’re apt to be ignored.”

    It is to laugh. I cannot make myself acute enough to be complementary to an obtuse reader.

    If you have specific questions to ask where I have been unclear, ask.

  396. An apt enough portrayal Mr. Wright, except, unlike today, an artist like Jackson Pollack wasn’t uplifted by his race and gender but by closeted sophistry you allude to. In Pollack’s world, no one would’ve been given their due who was a representational painter no matter who they were.

    In this new intersectional world of SFF, Canticle would in fact win an award by a woman who griped about cis-men, or anyone who was non-white, gay, or non-Western. The self-defeating proposition there is people who are uplifted by virtue of identity rather than a crucible of tough editors and years competing for magazine slots is probably going to be incapable of writing a thing like Canticle. What that means is redneckery combined with shiny identities even worse than Pollack paintings is being uplifted to status in core SFF today. It’s like having my mom write an SF novel cuz she’s my mom plus a mother and also a woman. Who cares other than me and my mom and feminists?

    You can’t just unplug a politicized race or gender and plug in another one and expect results. Doing so would destroy any organized sport or culture of ability with musical instruments and many other similar things in the world today. That’s because achievement is more easily measured. The gap between good and bad writers is just as real but prone to confusion because more subtlety and sophistication is required to sort things like that out.

    The bottom line is the same result. People will do an end around and go where the good stuff is, not where someone tells them it should be. Unfortunately that means the mainstream, so you gain something and also lose something. Old school SF was something of an – at times – refuge from commercialism for the simple reason the stakes were so low. You can have a thing like Cordwainer Smith or Frederic Brown grow in that scenario but not in the mainstream, at least not today. People forget that such things as Alfred Bester’s “Fondly Fahrenheit” was adapted for radio and TV in the ’50s because people respected that core community. No more. Now core SFF is a refuge for idiocy and one must and will leave. Leaving core SFF is throwing out a potential Bester and Smith with the bathwater, but that’s the way it’s playing out, and so what’s being adapted is Harry Potter, Twilight and Hunger Games because there’s no longer anything in core SFF to adapt that might be considered worthy fine art. Why not adapt Rowling: she wasn’t calling us all racists and it’s certainly more entertaining than a robot confused by gender pronouns or 7th century bi-sexual feminists showing us how cool 7th century bi-sexual feminists could be.

    What today is considered worthy fine art in core SFF is anything that panders to transgender, diversity, gays, non-whites and the non-West and genre and storytelling ability is an afterthought. Those are the Pollacks of today. Unfortunately, though that stuff might fascinate feminists, non-white, gay and non-Western supremacists, it is not in and of itself entertaining story-telling. If I want to I can mope about colonialism, white men and the Anglo hegemony quite well on my own. But I can’t make movies or novels. As it turns out, neither can intersectional dogmatists.

  397. “But I’m pleased to see that you appear to have finally abandoned your opinion about there being no difference between Pink SF/F and Blue SF/F.”

    ?I have made no concession; I am only “acknowledging” their existence for argument sake. Pink SF and Blue SF are a figment of one’s imagination–you must have been channeling your inner Bil Keane.

    “they don’t rank in the top 100 sellers of their own publisher.”

    Not surprising, considering other genres are more popular. But the “pinkshirts” still have their audience and are performing well enough that the publishers (for now) are offering contracts for their work.

    “Rachel Swirsky has come in for tremendous criticism from many people for her lunatic award-winning dinosaur story, despite the fact that she has not published a single novel.”

    Lunatic to some, innovative to others. I note that you are focusing on “novel” (the specific). I am focusing on books (the general), which include novels, including collections, edited works, short stories, and poetry.

    “The pinkshirts have been actively trying to prevent people from publishing Blue SF/F for the last 25 years, all the while claiming they weren’t doing anything of the kind.”

    And I am suppose to be astounded at their level of hypocrisy? Besides, the publishing firm you are part and parcel to will not take a similar approach, correct? Regardless, I do not think the “blueshirts” have anything to be decidedly concerned about, they will find ways to reach their audience.

    “And you don’t seem to recognize that in a contracting market, all of our sales growth must be coming at their expense.”??

    I never made any case to the contrary.

    “Sailer’s site is NOT mainstream, but homespun.”

    Sailer is hooked up with Ron Unz (The Unz Review), who features Pat Buchanan, John Derbyshire, and Ron Paul.

    “I don’t think some websites and internet comments and perhaps a few books counts as anywhere near “equal” to the forces aligned on the other side.”??

    Then you decidedly have not been paying attention to the groundswell of support against feminism, immigration, and gay marriage.

    “Try inviting him to speak on campus, if you don’t mind the Chief Diversity Officer leading a mob that burns the campus to the ground.”

    ?Sailer represents the views of millions of Americans. Has he ever been denied the opportunity to speak at a university? Or even been offered one?

    “Papaya these people purposefully conflate anomalous individuals with actual institutions.”??

    VD, Wright, Corriea, and their merry band are hardly on “the fringe” in the culture war. They have chosen to respond in kind to their ideological rivals, as is their prerogative.

  398. “John Scalzi’s early works were non political, and to the extent that they were political, were reactionary”

    This used to puzzle me too, until someone directed me to the Whatever post where Scalzi admits that he intentionally “colored by numbers” the Heinlein model, then used that as an excuse to get around the slush process and go directly to Patrick Neilsen-Hayden.

    The dodge worked for him and obviously he not only managed to break into print but do pretty well. I reviewed Old Man’s War favorably at the time, although a few minor things did strike me as sub-par. I didn’t realize at the time that the good parts were the color-by-numbers bits and the bad parts (the slap-down of the Bible-thumper who doesn’t know the Bible and the new body orgy) were the real Scalzi.

    Now we all know who the real Scalzi is. I think he’s a bit of a self-marketing savant; he’s completely wasted as a mediocre SF writer. If he had any brains at all, he’d pull a James Patterson, have his fellow rabbits write the books, and slap his name on them.

  399. > Millions of words in print and NO ONE has managed to get through his head what
    > “temporal” means (and apparently none of his proofreaders or editors know either).

    Feh. Ford’s printed owners’ manuals for the Ford Taurus referred to the temporary spare tire as the “temporal spare” for at least two generations of that carline…

    “We may be wrong, but at least we’re consistent!”

  400. “Not surprising, considering other genres are more popular. But the “pinkshirts” still have their audience and are performing well enough that the publishers (for now) are offering contracts for their work.”

    You’re evading the point and you’re doing so in an inept manner. Tor publishes only genre work. You’re also avoiding the fact that the publishers, or rather the editors at the publishers, are repeatedly handing out contracts to their underperforming friends. If you belong to SFWA, then you will have heard the cries of the authors in the Forum concerning the declining size of those advances.

    “I note that you are focusing on “novel” (the specific). I am focusing on books (the general), which include novels, including collections, edited works, short stories, and poetry.”

    Doesn’t matter. They sell virtually none of those as well. Look at the Amazon ranks.

    “Besides, the publishing firm you are part and parcel to will not take a similar approach, correct?”

    Correct. If I get something great from a leftist, we will publish it. I wouldn’t hesitate to publish a China Mieville or an Iaian Banks or a George Martin even though I disagree with them. Heartily. Just yesterday, I was contacted by someone who wishes to publish a long and highly esoteric work on the complete oeuvre of an SF grandmaster. We plan to publish it even though I know literally nothing of the author other than his name and the fact that he knows more about this particular SF writer than would seem to indicate an entirely sane individual.

    We don’t play thought police or speech police. They do. That is a substantive difference.

  401. Adrian Smith on 2014-08-03 at 00:32:37 said:
    >Of course they’re mocking them! They want men – all men, or as many as possible – to help eradicate (or at least reduce) sexist behaviour, and those men are washing their hands of it – “Nope, I don’t do that, not my problem, stop blaming me!”
    But of course! Just because someone else ascribes membership of a certain identity group to me, doesn’t make me responsible for the behaviour of all the other people who have been ascribed members of that group. And it is purely ascriptive; just because I have a Y chromosome doesn’t mean that’s part of my identity, nor that I am necessarily similar to, or identifiable with, others who have one too.
    The only time it’s reasonable to ask members of a group to police that group’s behaviour is if the group internally generates a sense of shared identity and commonality of culture*. But no man is going to heed my admonishments just because I’m another man; that would only work in the feminists’ looney-tunes imaginations where all men are part of a giant manspiracy. If anything, constantly bullying men to police each other is more likely to create a manspiracy.

    * and even that doesn’t work if it’s a deep norm of the culture that anyone who criticises an “In” loses membership of the “In”-group. Which seems to be the case for all the slices of intersectionalism; see also “Model T kafkatrap”.

  402. > Scalzi admits that he intentionally “colored by numbers” the Heinlein model,

    Considering how many SF writers have publicly admitted the same thing, there’d be a whole lot of passengers on that bus.

    Robert Silverberg, among others, has commented on the difference between writing what will sell and writing what you want. And… while he had a point, I prefer his earlier short stories (which he has referred to as “shlock”) to the pretentious likes of “Tower of Glass” or “The Book of Skulls.”

  403. “The only good thing about Scazi is Wil Wheaton.”

    Talk about damning with faint praise…

    As for “#NotAllMen”, I had a long discussion with a good friend about this. She insisted that I was wrong to get offended about the whole thing, that of course I wasn’t going to do the kinds of things the “#YesAllWomen” complainers were complaining about, but that it was incumbent upon me to 1) recognize I was not the target and not get offended and 2) speak out against sexist behavior when I encounter it.

    Sorry. I refuse to get dragged into your war. If someone is sexist at you and you’ve got a problem with it, stand up for yourself. Don’t let others define you. Define yourself.

    I was visiting a friend yesterday. At one point, we were at the home of another of their friend’s. That other friend took a not insignificant amount of thine telling my friend about how they’d offended yet another one, living in that same house: she’s a black woman, and was offended that this friend’s Second Life avatar is a black woman, though this friend is not. “You can’t possibly understand her experiences!” Of course, the reply that “I’m not claiming to understand her experiences!” is immaterial.

    The only thing that kept running through my head was “racial grievance industry”.

  404. “My own theory about the inaptly named ‘Leftists’ in SFF isn’t so much they fail because they aspire to an overly literate brand of SFF but that they are simply too stupid to be good artists. It’s a question of naivete and perception.”

    There’s no lack of past left-wring SF writers, as our host has discussed before. Pohl and the Futurians are the most obvious examples, but even Asimov was clearly left-wing.

    But you didn’t see their fiction completely politicized the way it is today. The Futurian political slant was more subtle, and you could read a lot of Asimovian fiction without being able to place him politically (unlike Heinlein).

    I think that SF authors who are not members of the Rabbits (not just ELOL members, but the middle-of-the-roaders and those “too big to be in the fight”) badly need to form a new organization to compete with/replace the SFWA. Call it the Science Fiction Storytellers of America or something similar that clearly says that these are stories, and that story, not political message (either left or right) is primary.

    Then they can come up with their own replacement for the Nebula that is more akin to what the Nebula used to be. It wasn’t that long ago that an excellent book could win both the Hugo and the Nebula. How long has it been since they were won by the same work, or even the same author?

  405. I liked the original Scalzi _Old Man’s War_, but the series went downhill after that. I’ve given up on any future Scalzi. Sad, after such a promising start.

  406. But no man is going to heed my admonishments just because I’m another man

    The way it *can* work is that (some) other men are less likely to dismiss your arguments out of hand than they might those of a woman.

    If anything, constantly bullying men to police each other is more likely to create a manspiracy.

    Doesn’t really look like “bullying” from my POV, except possibly in a few cases where the whole of tweeter falls on some poor schmoe’s head. I think they’re trying to appeal to men’s sense of fairness, and I’m aware that in many cases it’s proving counterproductive. They’re not being polite about it because they’ve tried that and it doesn’t seem to work.

  407. While this whole conversation is really fun, it is skipping over some important things. First, audience fatigue with politics in general. Along with political fatigue is a quick, violent rejection of fiction that is a thinly disguised political broadsheet. Finally, publishers and authors are seriously missing the long term effects of the digital age on fiction.

    Audience fatigue with politics in general is huge. TV and cable news makes you stupid, period. A constant barrage of political harpies screeching with one voice about complex issues in 30 seconds to jaded partisans on Fox or MSNBC is fine. All the grunting and mooing is great if your job is to keep eyes glued to an idiot box in order to sell prescription meds, snuggies and life alerts to old people. Old people are the only group of folks that have the time to care about most political crap anyway. Everyone else is busy working, raising kids and paying bills.

    People read SF to be entertained, amazed and even occasionally astounded. Not to be preached at. Leave the preaching where it belongs: in pulpits and university humanities syllabi. While I respect the depth of Ayn Rand’s passion for politics and Kurt Vonnegut’s need to communicate his hate of war, their books can be hard to read at best. Or just flat out suck as fiction. Literature, sure I get it. No one reads Slaughterhouse Five or The Fountainhead for fun, however. Both worldviews can be summed up by Sturgeon’s law. Ninety percent of everything really is crap.

    Ain’t no one got time for that.

    By the way, “literature” to me is a book that needs an explanation prior to reading it so as to not be completely lost. “Fiction” to me is a book that needs no explanation. In defense of fiction, a fun, stupid book that works to entertain the reader is by definition not stupid. In other words, if something is stupid and it works, then it is not stupid. I would also like to humbly say that The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is a much more powerful as agitprop than most thin veiled, politically driven, “literary” novels could ever hope to be. If the messages in it are not considered sophisticated enough, then TANSTAAFL. Also, screw those guys. Why can’t something be fun and have a meaningful message at the same time? Just because something is complicated doesn’t make it better.

    How about this as a thought exercise: the best selling book in the history of anything ever is the Bible. It makes tons of money for lots of people all over he world, year after year. Why does it do this so consistently? Because it gradually found an audience that was passionate about its stories and spread it through word of mouth. I think that any author who could resonate at that level to even a tenth of this readership could make money hand over fist by literally giving his or her books away for free. In the end, isn’t that why authors write? So their stuff gets read? In order to do that, you will need to write books that entertain and are relatable. How do you think Stephen King does it so consistently? Hypnotoads?

    Leaving the politics of all this aside, with thanks, I would like to point out that the business model of publishers with ebooks is simply retarded. I fully understand that a publisher needs to charge 15 bucks for a paperback new release SF book. Paper, shipping, art, book tours and kissing all the critics’ collective asses can’t be a cheap process. Why in the name of all that is holy do I need to pay the same price for an ebook of the same thing if it is a file usually less than 2 mb? What am I paying for here? Cocaine and hookers? Do the publishing houses want to sell books or not? Do authors want to entertain with their vision and make money in the process? If not, then publish your magnum opus in the University of Arkham Press and leave me out of it.

    Analogy is suspect, but I would liken it to the difference between a boutique burger restaurant and McDonald’s. While the fancy burger joint sells higher quality fare, mcdees sells the hell out of a dollar menu. Wake up people, ordinary folks are super busy. Instead of preaching to them or trying to constantly “elevate the discourse” perhaps publishers should stick to selling books. If people are reading something besides a Chinese delivery menu, then all is right with the world. In the end, people will get what they want one way or another. It is just a matter of time until he next J K Rowling gets discovered after self publishing via the internet. Maybe, just maybe, the curmudgeons in the major publishing houses would finally wake up to the realities of the 21st century. Yeah, and maybe I’m a Chinese jet pilot.

    Anything else, ain’t no one got time for that. Oh, and for the record, I would definitely throw my hat in the ring with The Evil League of Evil. I can’t stand people who take themselves too seriously. Lighten up and have fun, for crying out loud. Working so hard to be the smartest guy in the room is a surefire way to be lonely and depressed. If you look down on your fellow human beings for their “stupidiy”, then I would humbly say that you are being an asshole.

  408. @ John C. Wright – “It is to laugh.”

    Do you really possess that much conceit that you fancy yourself as another Shakespeare?

    I have no question for you. I do not understand you in the least. And no desire to try and puzzle meaning from your trite prose.

  409. In my experiences, actual artists embrace newer forms of art while the non-artists (like Wright himself) rail against all things impressionist and later and think that “Romantic Realism” is the only valid style.

  410. You know what will work, Adrian? Instead of demonizing all men, demonize the acts, whoever and whenever. And no, giving a womanizer a free pass because he’s a leftist (Bill Clinton, anyone?) does not help your credibility.

  411. Luscinia, “newer forms of art” are usually crap produced and labeled so as to suck in the gullible. This has led to the destruction of High Art: High Art is unviewable, High Music is unlistenable, High Cinema is unwatchable, High Design is unusable, and High Literature is unreadable.

  412. “That’s because American culture is default white. All major Americans cultural institutions and genres that were not established as something else are de facto white.”

    I don’t call that white as much as I call it American(moneyed American for the cynical). The good thing is that it shifts over time when dragged kicking and screaming in other directions. The civil rights battle is one such occurrence. The large demographic shift will be another. It does require some kicking and screaming but this far it has shifted.

    Even the DAR has shifted. For example if I had children with my ex 15 years ago none of those daughters would have been allowed to join the DAR despite 50% heritage from a family that predates the revolution (as in Baron Baltimore gifted them their plantation in Annapolis as a wedding present in the 1600).

    Today there are some token blacks in the DAR. And I hear some guy named Obama did pretty good for himself too.

  413. Any examples of “High Music?”

    Because if you mean John Adams and Jenny Olivia Johnson, I daresay you’re wrong.

    And it’s the people who react against modernity, like Scott Burdick and about half of the people promoted by Quent Cordair, that produce garbage.

  414. Adrian Smith on 2014-08-03 at 08:57:29 said:
    > (some) other men are less likely to dismiss your arguments out of hand than they might those of a woman.
    No, because they don’t have a sense of shared identity with me either. Only someone deeply immersed in identity-group victim-grievance politics could think otherwise. Heck, even JAD (our local white-supremacist misogynist troll on this blog) doesn’t think “well, esr’s a white male so he’s on my side”.

    > Doesn’t really look like “bullying” from my POV, except possibly in a few cases where the whole of tweeter falls on some poor schmoe’s head.
    It’s not about Twitter poison-pens; those are (in themselves) irrelevant. It’s that people can be hounded out of cons, communities, and even employment based on spurious allegations of $ISM – or even just for failing to join in the Two Minutes Hate against this week’s designated evil $IST.

  415. Most of them *don’t* demonize all men, that’s just how you seem to be insisting on interpreting what you hear. And womanizing as such is not really what they’re bothered by, it’s the non-consensual stuff.

  416. Rich Rostrom wrote “It’s the equivalent of noting that some forms of criminal activity are dangerously frequent among blacks…”

    Adrian Smith replied “A useful parallel, which the intersectionalists will unfortunately be somewhat conflicted about invoking.”

    Do you mean “will display consistent lockstep hermetic doublethink about when invoking selectively”? Quite a few kinds of badness come down disproportionately on black men, including badness involving a lot of official discretion, e.g. by police or public school authorities. Leftists rather consistently treat the disproportionate impact on blacks as a moral outrage, and the disproportionate impact of the same policy on men as the uncontroversially right outcome. It’s an essential difference in men, donchaknow? Then that convenient essential difference between men and women that was obvious when needed as a justification for e.g. male incarceration rate is forgotten when PC looks at areas in which men succeed.

    Beyond that, similar parallels occur in fields in which men succeed, because they are often fields in which Jews and Asians succeed too, e.g. success in various demanding occupations, or higher average pay when sliced various ways. Again such similar outcomes are consistently treated differently, as male misbehavior, as legitimate Jewish merit, and as shallow ersatz undiverse Asian arguably-merit-in-some-narrow-literal-minded-sense-but-not-what-a-proper-society-needs.

  417. Bam! Hit the nail right on the ol’ head there, cheechako. If I read one more passage by someone that thinks SciFi prose should mimic the writing techniques learned in some MFA program I’m gonna hurl, simple as that. Just tell the story, don’t beat around the bush and don’t use sixteen-letter words where four-letter words will do. Duh.

    “No, I judge that what is dessicating and poisoning the Rabbit version of SF is something distinct from left-wing political slant but co-morbid with it: colonization by English majors and the rise of literary status envy as a significant shaping force in the field.”

  418. Ah, Adrian, but they also argue that power imbalances make even the consensual non-consensual…and what’s a greater imbalance of power than between the leader of the free world and an intern?

    And the SJWs and others who perpetuate such idiocies are perfectly happy to accept anything a “disadvantaged minority” takes about how they interpret something at face value and yet deny that to “privileged white straight cismales”. Of course, it’s not really about that. it’s not about equality, or removing any power imbalance; it’s about reversing an alleged power imbalance so that they’re the privileged.

  419. No, because they don’t have a sense of shared identity with me either. Only someone deeply immersed in identity-group victim-grievance politics could think otherwise.

    Well, if that’s the way your world works, fine, you shouldn’t bother.

    It’s not about Twitter poison-pens; those are (in themselves) irrelevant. It’s that people can be hounded out of cons, communities, and even employment based on spurious allegations of $ISM – or even just for failing to join in the Two Minutes Hate against this week’s designated evil $IST.

    Got any instances you can point me at? There was one guy upthread somewhere who sounded like he had stopped going to cons just in case, which I thought was sad.

  420. “And no, giving a womanizer a free pass because he’s a leftist (Bill Clinton, anyone?) does not help your credibility.”

    What’s wrong with being a womanizer?

    Coercive womanizer is bad and Clinton may have been that as well but the Monica thing wasn’t.

  421. Let’s be honest: anyone dumb enough to buy into the entire panoply of PC nonsense like SFF is racist and needs more non-whites and gays, or it won’t be as good as it could be, or white privilege or rape culture and the whole nine yards about the non-West isn’t very brainy.

    This is most patently untrue. I have academic and research experience in high-energy physics and know a large number of individuals with genius IQs who are meticulous and analytical in their work and pure whargarbl in their politics. In fact, what I’ve observed is more akin to the litany of the Newspeak dictionary.

    As a timely example, a friend just posted on Facebook a satirical article about a fictitious experiment wherein doctors’ compensation was based on patient satisfaction, and they predictably started responding to the incentives. A former classmate exploded into a vicious rant against capitalism, expounding on the unbridled evil and greed of these doctors and non-socialist economics in general. Note that this article is beyond heavy-handed with the satire, and the page logo says it’s a satire site.

    Lefties tend to be experts at crimestop (aka the thought termination in “thought-terminating cliché) and its related duckspeak as well as doublethink. I’m quite sure that the large majority of the population simply isn’t able or hasn’t learned the sort of critical thinking necessary to honestly analyze their own beliefs and positions (and the public schools actively squash it when it shows up), but for the subpopulation I’m familiar with, it’s clear that they have an active mental discipline of pulling the plug on lines of thought that would lead to unacceptable conclusions.

  422. When you go to a race track and all the horse run too slow. It may not be the horses but the track that is at fault. Same could be said of the schism that has developed in SF.

    Seems to me it is time for the Evil League to build their own track that rewards the swift and enterprising. Given that choice authors and readers will follow leaving the Rabbits and their infrastructure behind. As a SF reader I enjoy good characterization in a novel but it is the story line that keeps me turning the pages. Otherwise it is just a bore to read.

  423. the Monica thing wasn’t.

    For all of the hue and cry over how men constantly use undetectably subtle power and aggression to drag sexual favors out of unwilling women, you’d think they could be honest about the power situation vis-à-vis a 21-year-old intern and literally the most powerful person in the world.

  424. Ah, Adrian, but they also argue that power imbalances make even the consensual non-consensual

    *Some people* argue that. And maybe they’re kind of fringe, you know? Like Dworkin’s all-men-are-rapists? Not many feminists actually go along with that, if you bother to ask them (though preferably not online, I find I always annoy them online, can’t control the snark).

    Of course, it’s not really about that. it’s not about equality, or removing any power imbalance; it’s about reversing an alleged power imbalance so that they’re the privileged.

    Er…possibly in the fruitier fantasies of some of them, I suppose. I think that’s quite some way in the future, tho’.

  425. Luscinia on 2014-08-03 at 09:43:06 said:
    >Any examples of “High Music?”
    >Because if you mean John Adams and Jenny Olivia Johnson, I daresay you’re wrong.
    >And it’s the people who react against modernity, like Scott Burdick and about half of the people promoted by Quent Cordair, that produce garbage.
    I feel I have to chime in here, as this is one of my bugbears. While I don’t think much of today’s pop, metal, or gangsta rap, at least it’s not f—ing pretentious drivel like Cage or Einaudi.
    The people writing good music today are people like the film composers (for all the sneers of the high art world, stuff like Pirates of the Caribbean is actually very well-written music in Common Practice idioms. The critics sneer because it’s too accessible; high art as a positional good), or the early-music enthusiasts writing fughetti for recorders, lute and virginal, or the romanticists writing programmatic symphonies and piano miniatures.
    “High Music” today suffers from the standard Progressive error, the belief that History is inherently a progression from bad to good and that (a) this can be extrapolated on to produce better works (whereas in practice it just produces the opposite mistakes to whichever ones the Past made) and (b) there is no point trying to base your work on anything but the newest fashion, because if you start from a point in the Past you’ll just have further to go before you get to the Future (whereas in fact you can branch off from any point in musical history to discover new musical worlds).
    And of course the upshot of this is that you get “Back to zero!” composers deliberately cutting off their work from the classical tradition, and producing incomprehensible music. The reason this fails is that a good piece of music is like a good joke: it sets up an expectation and then violates it. If there’s no existing body of work to establish an idiom, there’s no way to create expectations in the listener’s mind. In this view, Cage’s 4’33” is like a comedian walking on stage and not telling any jokes. It may work once (because you were expecting to hear a piece of music) but once the audience is aware that the composer is writing outside of any idiom, there is no means of setting up expectations.

    Incidentally, this analogy between music and jokes can be extended further; just as the best joke is one where you didn’t see the punchline coming but, in retrospect, feel you should have, or at least that it was inevitable, so the finest music is that where the listener doesn’t see what’s coming but, after it’s happened, feels it couldn’t have been written any other way. Of course, since music without an interpretative tradition is essentially arbitrary, this is impossible for such music to achieve.

    That is why modern art music is rejected; it’s not a mere thalamic dislike of “modernity”.

  426. “you’d think they could be honest about the power situation vis-à-vis a 21-year-old intern and literally the most powerful person in the world.”

    You mean the honesty regarding power is sexy to some women? It turned out poorly for her because she choose the wrong confidant but it was consensual.

  427. Wow, that was the most pretentious low brow thing I’ve ever read.

    Incidentally, most film scores are rather dull, and the ones that stand out from all the standard orchestral bombast are the ones that are completely out there, like Akira or (if talking video games), Nier and the Final Fantasy XIII games.

  428. Joe Author, that top 100 is all SFF, not mainstream, and “hooked up” is not the site itself. The site is what it is: homespun. And there is no “groundswell of support against feminism, immigration, and gay marriage” within SFF, which what that comment was about.

    VD, Wright and Correia are in fact the fringe; they lack institutional presence and clout. Intersectionalists at the heart of SFF’s institutions would end the careers of all 3 if they could just like they took Ross out of the Hugos.

    You are cherry-picking, and they have no ideological rivals since the 3 and their “merry band” which doesn’t exist share no ideology. And let me point out that lifetime SFWA member, gay activist Janis Ian, signed the anti-SFWA Truesdale petition and was furious over what happened to Jonathan Ross. Is she an anti-gay reactionary? She also quoted and linked to a specifically anti-intersectional essay about SF at the same time.

    Let me show you how to not cherry-pick and use a control. Traditional concerns are not with racism per se but with the institutionalization of it. The same must hold true for bigotry within SFF. So, what are the controls to avoid cherry-picking?

    The past two presidents (and wives) of SF’s most prestigious organization, the SFWA, who each specifically support intersectionalism. The default orthodoxy of intersectionalism on the SFWA’s own website. The SFWA’s most activist members are all intersectionalists. No less than 60% of the Nebula and Hugo nominees the last 4 years are intersectionalists, including all five of this year’s Nebula winners. WisCon is intersectionalist. 85% of SFF webzines support intersectionalism. Intersectionalists – led by radical feminist Farah Mendlesohn resigning – had the power to boycott Jonathan Ross right out of the Hugos in only 8 hours. Who could’ve booted out, let’s say, a black lesbian, and when have you seen any sign anyone wanted to do that? The Nebulas this year was hosted by a woman dressed as a man, and not because it was Halloween. The Hugos themselves are awash in intersectionalism this year, with no less than 13 nominees.

    Most damning of all is the fact that, contrary to what is asserted, SFF intersectionalists themselves most commonly self-identify as (third wave) feminists – third wave being intersectionalism – not simply liberals. In fact they never shut up about it. People just aren’t listening and instead hear “liberal” for some reason.

    And against that you’re going to array Day (booted from the SFWA), Corrieia (never a member) Wright (left SFWA in protest)? I’m not surprised you use the term merry band since there isn’t one. Intersectionalists commonly use it because they run out names real fast. In fact there is not a single institution within SFF arrayed against intersectionalism.

    When it comes to a control, SFF’s feminists regularly assert Golden Age SF was colonialist, racist, etc. But instead of limiting themselves to a control, let’s say a 10 year run of Astounding 1940-50, they cherry-pick, and still come up with nothing. Samuel Delany ludicrously used George Schuyler’s 1931 “Black No More: Being an Account of the Strange and Wonderful Workings of Science in the Land of the Free, A. D. 1933–1940.” N.K. Jemisin at this year’s WisCon GoH speech, in order to make a case for black careers “strangled at birth,” had to resort to straight up falsehoods about her and Delany’s careers at their beginning, because each was in fact meticulously honored with awards.

    Yes, you are purposefully conflating the fringe with institutions. The actual ratio is probably on the order of something like 30 to one when it comes to intersectionalism vs. pushback. Quotes back that up. Radical feminism is well-placed and entrenched in SFF; their opponents virtually non-existent in those same terms.

  429. You mean the honesty regarding power is sexy to some women?

    Well, if it could get Kissinger laid.

    I always felt sorry for Clinton, thinking about how he used to idolise Kennedy, who was shagging anything that moved, possibly because of those amphetamine and monkey gland cocktails he was rumoured to be on, and the press just looked the other way. Then Bill gets in, and one measly bj and they’re off to the races.

  430. >Got any instances you can point me at? There was one guy upthread somewhere who sounded like he had stopped going to cons just in case, which I thought was sad.

    Johnathan Ross got hounded out of hosting the Hugo ceremony because Seannan McGuire raised a fuss because he *might* tell a fat joke that would make her uncomfortable. When Patrick Rothfuss and Wil Wheaton brought up the point that the Twitter shaming might have gone too far, the Twitter crowds turned on them. The Twitter SJW crowds constantly try to badger Baen into disowning or muzzling Kratman, Correia, Hoyt, and Ringo “lest they damage the brand” whenever one of them pisses off the SJW crowd. (Note that there are no calls for Tor to reign in the Haydens.)

    That’s a short list. There are more instances, some of which, like the SFWA bulletin, are complex in the explanation, and others which I don’t have the full details for at the moment.

  431. And thus Luscinia reveals himself to be an aficionado of High Art.

    You might as well get out of SF, Luscinia; it will never live up to your expectations. The rest of us are going to read and buy things that are actually enjoyable to read and listen to.

    FWIW, Eric and I have had this conversation about High Music; he makes a persuasive case that the true musical heir to the classical composers are not the Philip Glasses of the world, but the John Williamses. I cannot disagree.

    Pet peeve: it’s “rein in”, not “reign in”. One reins in a horse that’s going too fast.

    Nigel, that’s my point: according to the feministas, sex between those with a power imbalance is never fully consensual. Those same feministas gave Clinton an unconditional pass.

  432. Ross *withdrew* in the face of the twitstorm. What seems to have happened was that Farah Mendlesohn tried to raise her misgivings about him with the organisers/committee/whatever, but they were so starstruck at the idea of how much attention a major (British) media personality could bring to the con that they gave her the brush-off, so off she went to tweeter. Lots of people have since pointed out, with the wisdom of hindsight, how it could have been handled better.

  433. Jeez, I dunno, it’s what they say. Google “tone argument”.

  434. Adrian Smith on 2014-08-03 at 10:03:33 said:
    >Well, if that’s the way your world works, fine, you shouldn’t bother.
    Except that I think that’s the way most white straight men’s worlds work (the main exception is the MRAs, which reinforces my point about how bullying men creates the manspiracy) – and the type of person who mocks “Not All Men” just assumes that that’s not the world of whomever they’re talking to, and that therefore they can censure me for refusing to join their crusade. I shouldn’t have to justify myself to the SJWs any more than a black man should have to prove to the KKK that he’s never committed a crime.
    By assuming any given man has a shared identity of ‘man-ness’ with the harassers and the womanisers and the rapists, the feminists are being prejudiced, just as surely as if they assumed any given man was a harasser, a womaniser and a rapist. They are ascribing an identity to a group based on a gross physical trait, and making unfounded judgements about individuals based on (ascribed) membership of that group and (false) generalisations about the group. Is this not identical to classical racism, sexism, and prejudice of every stripe?

    >Got any instances you can point me at? There was one guy upthread somewhere who sounded like he had stopped going to cons just in case, which I thought was sad.
    You mean Erbo? Read the comment thread on http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=5220; his situation is sadder than you perhaps realise, and may force you to confront the issue more squarely. I think there was also a commenter on another thread whose life was pretty much destroyed by a vengeful woman wielding false accusations as a weapon, but I can’t find his posts right now.

  435. I think you have it right Cathy. If “liberal” means more relaxed about norms and conformity then Golden Age SF was not only liberal but xenophile. They did in fact use messaging but tended to make failure and success a human condition rather than the failure or success of a politicized identity. They were not identity addicts like today’s feminist inspired SFF but rather addicted to larger principles.

    One could easily see Cordwainer Smith’s 1962 “Ballad of Lost C’Mell” as speaking about the Civil Rights movement but at the end of the day he tended to bury identity and people didn’t complain about being preached to. Generally speaking SF fans like insights into the human condition, but not when it’s parsed as whites, blacks, women, gays, etc. So it’s not a question of message fiction – which was always there in some form – but bigotry.

    John Wynham’s The Midwich Cuckoos (Village of the Damned film) from 1957 takes few pains to hide its underlying messaging and yet is so uniquely fun as a story no one cared. If you think beyond the story at all you tend to see it just as a weird hypothetical problem – a strength of SF – and not a political statement. Even Orwell’s heavy-handed messaging in 1984 doesn’t put people off because at the end of the day he is talking about human failure, not that of heterosexual whites. The same rings true from Edmond Hamilton’s 1932 anti-colonialist tract A Conquest of Two Worlds to Heinlein’s “–if This Goes On” in 1940 to Bradbury’s 1953 Fahrenheit 451. They are all about failed systems, but human ones. Failed principles, not failed races. When Van Vogt invokes Toynbee’s theory of failed cycles of civilization, that thrills us. We are somewhat less thrilled when morons cite white patriarchy as a cycle of failed civilizations.

    SF writers are already making their own space away from core SF but I think they may be wary of organizing. Even San Diego’s ComicCon has been infiltrated by feminist demands for harassment policies – as if it’s a Hell’s Angels bar in need of intersectional security. You can’t infiltrate success if it’s limited to the printed word by a single individual. In the end, it’s that very lack of organization that will leave feminists high and dry. Without some mechanism of complaint, radical feminists have nothing to leech onto, no public formal leader to present demands to and shame. At the end of the day, the greatest talent of radical feminists is self-pity, blame and excuses. As artists they are as dumb as stumps, and no one wants to read neo-neo-Nazi SF about evil male white colonialists but themselves.

  436. @ Adrian Smith

    http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=6085&cpage=1#comment-1033982

    That was an allusion to Bill Clinton, who DID non-consensual stuff–and was given a free pass for it by the left, including most of the feminazis.

    “Doesn’t really look like “bullying” from my POV”

    The whole and sole purpose–all it is fit for–of the new sex crime investigation Star Chambers in higher education, is bullying.

  437. @ Nigel

    http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=6085&cpage=1#comment-1034034

    According to their own ideas about realtionships between people of different status, It can not have been meaningfully consensual. All but the whole of the feminist establishment showed its true rotten colors in that incident, in giving Clinton a pass. And other women, there is very little reason to doubt, he assaulted as a sexual crime.

  438. I just read over the thread about Erbo and the SF con. What strikes me most, at this remove, is that he was treated by women in ways that, had the genders been reversed, would have the feministas screaming. “Just get over it! Man up! Ignore your fears and go have fun!” Tell that to an Oppressed Woman…but first, wear industrial-grade hearing protection.

  439. Luscinia on 2014-08-03 at 10:39:11 said:
    >Wow, that was the most pretentious low brow thing I’ve ever read.
    What, you mean because I actually dared to apply some kind of cognitive psychology of aesthetics to understand why more people like Mozart (the ultimate hack!) than Schoenberg? How is that “low brow”? Is it because the Arts hate the Sciences and won’t acknowledge anyone who doesn’t talk and think in phrases like “counterpoint the surrealism of the underlying metaphor”? (StR)

    >Incidentally, most film scores are rather dull, and the ones that stand out from all the standard orchestral bombast are the ones that are completely out there
    What’s wrong with orchestral bombast? It worked for Beethoven, and while Hans Zimmer isn’t capable of the same level of intricate and layered complexities (though I note that John Williams actually might be), it still triggers the same limbic response in audiences. But of course as a “High Art” aficionado, you don’t care about what audiences think, you just care about impressing other High Art aficionados with displays of incomprehensibility.

    Give me talented hackwork over high art, any day of the week.

  440. Except that I think that’s the way most white straight men’s worlds work (the main exception is the MRAs, which reinforces my point about how bullying men creates the manspiracy) – and the type of person who mocks “Not All Men” just assumes that that’s not the world of whomever they’re talking to, and that therefore they can censure me for refusing to join their crusade. I shouldn’t have to justify myself to the SJWs any more than a black man should have to prove to the KKK that he’s never committed a crime.

    I don’t think they want to censure you for refusing to join their crusade, or make you justify yourself to them. They just want to ask you to consider speaking up when you see someone being a dickhead to a member of a minority. And if you demur, I doubt you will find the tweeter hordes clamouring for your gonads.

    You mean Erbo? Read the comment thread on http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=5220; his situation is sadder than you perhaps realise, and may force you to confront the issue more squarely.

    I’ll read it tomorrow, got to go to bed.

  441. “Seems to me it is time for the Evil League to build their own track that rewards the swift and enterprising. Given that choice authors and readers will follow leaving the Rabbits and their infrastructure behind.”

    That’s precisely what we’re doing at Castalia House. In addition to our Big Two (Kratman and Wright) we’re adding a number of excellent new authors specializing in everything from military doctrine to highfalutin’ literary analysis of science fiction. I don’t know if we’ll sell more than 10 copies of the latter, but it was such a completely insane thing to do on the writer’s part that I couldn’t resist.

    And, of course, SF/F novellas and novels… and anthologies.

  442. Adrian Smith on 2014-08-03 at 11:47:06 said:
    >I don’t think they want to censure you for refusing to join their crusade, or make you justify yourself to them. They just want to ask you to consider speaking up when you see someone being a dickhead to a member of a minority.
    Why should I? I am not my brother’s keeper; less poetically, I cannot be responsible for the behaviour of other people, unless I have meaningful influence over them. For instance, if I were the dickhead’s parent I indeed would have a duty to apply a corrective. But some random stranger? They’re not going to change just because I call them out, and they might sock me one for trying. If you care, you stand up to them, but don’t expect me to fight your battles just because you demand it. I will happily act out of a sense of duty, but I will not stand for anyone else trying to tell me what my duty is. I think that meshes fairly well with things our host has said in the past about the dignity of free men (though he may well disagree).

    >And if you demur, I doubt you will find the tweeter hordes clamouring for your gonads.
    Only because I’m not an important enough scalp to be worth taking. (After all, no-one’s heard of me; I’m just a nobody hacking a kernel driver for a living, not a Big Name Author or a Media Personality.) But if you’re John C. Wright, for instance, they’ll interpret “I refuse to join your witch-hunt” as “I am pro-witches”. And then they’ll vie with each other for who can performatively dislike you most flamboyantly, because that’s how they compete for status (after all, they have to have some way of breaking ties between people with the same hand of intersectional minority cards).

  443. Funny, Luscinia (assuming you’re replying to my comment about High Music; how about quoting or something to let us know what your ons-sentence putdowns are actually intended to be putting down, hmmm?): that’s exactly what I’ve said about Philip Glass. To me, it’s nothing but long-period white noise.

  444. Sarah Hoyt posted a response to the main gist of the original post on her blog at Friendly Fire in the Science Fiction Wars. According to Hoyt has its own fairly interesting group frequenting the comments, so some of you might want to follow the discussion there, especially since this post has undergone some thread-drift.

    And, of course, AtH being a blog of the Dark Side, there are cookies. (Well, the hostess throws carp in appreciation for bad puns, and that’s almost the same thing.)

    (Eric: I seem to recall ping-backs on some older posts. Do you now have that turned off?)

  445. >(Eric: I seem to recall ping-backs on some older posts. Do you now have that turned off?)

    No. I’m not sure how those are generated.

  446. Luscinia on 2014-08-03 at 12:16:20 said:
    >It all sounds the same and very little of it is done well.
    As this blog is not threaded, please indicate to what you are responding, particularly when your response is so short as to hinder its interpretation without context. But I will assume you were responding either to my pæan to Mozart or my praise of film scores. In either case, your argument seems to be “I don’t like it”, with no attempt to justify that judgement as in any way universal.
    The great thing about the Common Practice idiom, whether we’re talking about Baroque canzoni or Romantic miniatures, is that it doesn’t have to be done exceptionally well; the forms and techniques reward competent labour and don’t require extraordinary genius. This quote comes to mind.
    But of course, as a hobbyist composer writing fairly unoriginal music in styles ranging (roughly) from early Baroque to early Romantic, I’m obviously biased.

  447. I was unaware of Mr. Raymond’s post “Down the feminist rabbit hole,” which is completely about the fight between white second wave feminists and third wave QUILTBAG non-white intersectional feminist theory. So, he is completely aware of what’s going on but not where. All he has to do is cement that post, the third wave part, onto the core SFF community and forget about literary envy and liberalism.

    Intersectionalism is not representative of traditional liberalism any more than it represents women, gays or non-whites – or SFF for that matter. What intersectionalism has done is had stunning success in falsely claiming it speaks for gays (where are the gay men?) non-whites, women and liberalism. Falsely using those anti-oppression narratives from a half-century and more ago, intersectionalists have been able to successfully mainstream hate-speech into core SFF to naive social justice warriors.

    Here’s how the false flag works, Rose Fox, reviews editor at Publisher’s Weekly and co-editor of the racial revenge anthology Long Hidden, can write “I’d say most white men should come with TWs (trigger warnings) for unthinking privileged arrogance, but that’s like saying books need TWs for ‘contains words'” and “Alas, my job doesn’t let me refuse” when it come to reading work by white men with no problem.

    If I worked at PW and said that about gay or black folks, I’d be summarily fired. Fake oppression narratives enables a landslide of bigotry. In short, you have out and out racists being nominated for Hugos and Nebulas while simply waking up a straight white man is the feminist equivalent to bigotry or accessory to bigotry and the result is this:

    “At @SFWA’s #NebulaAwards, only one award went to a white male and that wasn’t one of the ones voted on by the membership. #diversityinSFF” – Nebula nominee and Hugo winner M. Robinette Kowal

    “Not a single white man won an award tonight. OPPRESSION.” – Nebula Weekend panelist Sunil Patel

    You’d think they were Romans who’d just breached the walls of their implacable enemy, Carthage. That’s punishment – punishment for skin and gender. It’s racist, sexist and supremacist. The propaganda they push they are anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-segregation, anti-discrimination, anti-supremacy and pro-diversity is a straight up lie.

    On SFWA’s site, they have a post written by a black intersectionalist woman named Nisi Shawl called “Transracial Writing for the Sincere,” about how whites – “sincere” – can write the “other.” And there are always issues of cultural appropriation involved in intersectionalism, as if a cultural artifact is race-owned. As anyone knows who’s read about it, cultural appropriation is a whites-only one-way street.

    Were I to claim steampunk as racially mine and submit a post on how non-whites can write steampunk in a properly “sincere” way without screwing it up or engaging in culture theft, I’d be run off as a white supremacist. These racially patronizing and finger-wagging pieces have been written by Aliette de Bodard, K. Tempest Bradshaw, Mary Ann Mohanraj and N.K. Jeminsin – all devout intersectionalists. Mohanraj’s post was hosted by John Scalzi when he was SFWA president and a third at Tor.com, the largest SFF publisher in English, if not the world.

    The SFWA is promoting racial supremacy and condescension on its own website. If the SFWA had even a modicum of principle, they delete that disgusting post from their site. Guess what? They don’t. Their default orthodoxy is the dogma and bizarre vocabulary of intersectionalist QUILTBAG feminism, NOT liberalism.

  448. “You’re also avoiding the fact that the publishers, or rather the editors at the publishers, are repeatedly handing out contracts to their underperforming friends.

    ?Imagine that, publishers who have friends, associations, or business partners who are struggling with sales, and yet they still provide them opportunities given, from their point of view, their literary talent and ability.

    “If you belong to SFWA, then you will have heard the cries of the authors in the Forum concerning the declining size of those advances.”

    Complaints about compensation is part and parcel to any profession.

    “Doesn’t matter. They sell virtually none of those as well. Look at the Amazon ranks.”

    The “pinkshirts” and “blueshirts” are like weeds, they will find a way to get their work published regardless of their “rank”. Curious as to the algorithm used in the system used by Amazon and its validity.

    “Correct. If I get something great from a leftist, we will publish it.”?

    ?Then some of those “Pink SF” authors have nothing to worry about! Readers are going to read, writers are going to write, and publishers are going to publish. However small or quaint or insignificant, there will be an audience for “Pink SF”, and demand will be met in some way, shape, or form.

    “We don’t play thought police or speech police. They do. That is a substantive difference.”??

    Sure, you respect the liberty of the “pinkshirts” to say what they want and do what they want, except what they say and is allegedly destructive to Western Civilization. And if somehow their voices were no longer heard, either by overt or covert means, then there is no substantive difference at all. It’s just an alternative method.

    “And against that you’re going to array Day (booted from the SFWA), Corrieia (never a member) Wright (left SFWA in protest)”???Again, you haven’t been paying close attention to their blog postings and their legion of fans who individually and collectively are pushing back–hard–against the evil known as leftism.

    “Intersectionalists at the heart of SFF’s institutions would end the careers of all 3 if they could just like they took Ross out of the Hugos.”

    ??Haven’t you heared, they lack the guile, charm, intelligence, and gumption to pull off such a maneuver.

    “VD, Wright and Correia are in fact the fringe; they lack institutional presence and clout.”

    It would appear that are unconcerned with “presence and clout”; rather, they use their blogs as the conduit to promote their causes.

    You and the “intersectionalists” do share a common trait…victimhood.

  449. > I’m a better programmer with more leverage to change the world that way.

    And not coding makes you stupid, as a friend of mine likes to say.

  450. Somewhat belatedly, but if Tom Kratman is reading this, the example of a “single-sophont army” that comes to mind is Atkins Vingt-et-un General-Issue from John C. Wright’s “Golden Oecumene” series; he’s literally the entire military. There’s still some sort of civilian control, and he spawns a large numbers of copies of himself when necessary, but it’s just one guy. (There’s a particularly awesome scene where he’s attacked by a fully armored opponent while naked and just out of bed, and defeats him with the precise amount of force necessary.)

    I find Wright to be an enigma, which probably means I’m missing something. I don’t understand how someone can understand the pattern theory of identity well enough to write that series and still subscribe to what looks like a very traditionalist worldview in all its details. Maybe if I read more Ed Feser, it’d make sense to me.

    As a data point, I find his opinions frequently reprehensible and the writing on his blog insightful (but still obscurantist) at best and monstrous at worst, and that didn’t stop me from enjoying the heck out of the series; I find some bits of it laughable (more on that below), but his take on posthumanity is far, far more nuanced, interesting and clever than, say, the endless gorn in “The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect”.

    Going off into the weeds a bit, when I got to the bit about how morality is derived via logic from the structure of the universe itself, thus, if you build a civilization near the edge of a black hole, morality is relative rather than absolute. I wonder what the explorers on Cartan Null would think of that. Indeed, I see Egan and Wright as sort of dark mirrors of each other, hitting similar ideas from very different perspectives. I sometimes wish they’d have some kind of… I don’t know, debate? That Wright would post his thoughts on “Orthogonal”, “Permutation City”, “Oracle” or “Oceanic”, because I simply can’t imagine what he’d think there.

  451. >Oh, be fair. Old Man’s War wasn’t bad ersatz Heinlein. Of course he’s gone downhill since.

    He went from ripping off Heinlein to ripping off Piper to ripping off Star Trek. The downward trajectory seems clear. I imagine that he’s busy on a retconned crossover of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians and Plan 9 from Outer Space as we speak.

  452. Joe Author, “I know you are but what am I” is hardly likely to move me or anyone else.

  453. >But if you’re John C. Wright, for instance, they’ll interpret “I refuse to join your witch-hunt” as “I am pro-witches”.

    Or even Scalzi. He’s deviated from the party line a couple of times, but a few tricoteuses showing up on his Twitter feed to play the sound of a rolling tumbril was enough to elicit a Maoist-style self-criticism session.

    Tumbrils are hell on a nice lawn dontcha know.

  454. “I always felt sorry for Clinton, thinking about how he used to idolise Kennedy, who was shagging anything that moved,”

    If he had Kennedy’s standards I’d have felt sorry for him. POTUS should have higher standards.

  455. “I liked the original Scalzi _Old Man’s War_, but the series went downhill after that. I’ve given up on any future Scalzi. Sad, after such a promising start.”

    Funnilly enough, I like the entire series and I think I liked Ghost Brigades slightly better than OMW. The only thing political I ever choked on was in Zoe’s Tale and, since I can’t remember what it was, it’s unikely to have been that bad.

    Lois Bujold, I think it was, once observed that a novel is a collaboration or conspiracy between the writer and the reader, this the book by you and X conspired on may well suck, but the book that X and I conspired on was just fine, thank you. Oddly, they have the same title.

  456. “I always felt sorry for Clinton, thinking about how he used to idolise Kennedy, who was shagging anything that moved,”

    I know that many people wondered what Clinton was thinking, as he pensively walked the beaches at Normany in June, 94. But I think I know what he was thinking: “Shazzam! If only Ah’d been a age back then; just think a all them wider women I coulda…comforted.”

  457. “I know that many people wondered what Clinton was thinking”

    Objection, your honor. Assumes facts not in evidence.

    Unless you include thinking with the little head…

  458. ESR,

    What a load of backhanded compliments. As a reader, Fuck Off! You don’t represent me and what I want to read.

    “SF and the damaging effects of literary status envy” – WTF does ‘literary status envy’ even mean?

    Paraphrased

    “The right doesn’t know how to write a good story, but readers are still buying your stuff, so you are winning eventhough what you what you write is lowbrow and not up to the standards of SF/F.”

    Who the F**k made you the determiner of what SF/F is supposed to be? With an attitude like this, you’re no better than the editors and publishers that want to control what is published and what is considered SF/F (based on their political beliefs).  

    I personally read books to be entertained not enlightened.

    This whole article feel to me like a plea to the comunity for what you want to see as SF/F, and it’s wrapped in the proses of ‘this is what is wrong.’

    You are falling into the trapped the old school publishing, that is dominated by the left that does wear it politics on their sleave as an excuss to excluded others, has fallen into. A belief that editors and writters control what is popular in SF/F or what it is. The Readers determine, mostly there are trend followers, what they want to read more of, and they do this by buying what they like to read.

    The Evil Leage of Evil just writing good stories, that people buy. That might or might not have an overt political message, and that message might or might not be an approved message by the left leaning editors or publishers ; which, I believe is what really pisses them off.

    Results matter. If what the Evil League of Evil is doing is working and we know this because people are buying their books, who are you to say it’s not?

  459. “He went from ripping off Heinlein to ripping off Piper”

    He didn’t rip off piper as much butchered him.

  460. @jay better Clinton than Bush. If we are to have a Sinai moment it IMHO will be traced to the decision to invade Iraq.

    I think that we have escaped that fate.

    I would have ranked Carter lower but he didn’t squander treasure, blood and goodwill the way W did.

  461. But the “pinkshirts” still have their audience and are performing well enough that the publishers (for now) are offering contracts for their work.

    The mainstream publishers are giving them contracts for political reasons, not because customers want to by this crap. Similarly, art and poetry is crap that exists directly and indirectly because of government grants, as is normal in decadent civilizations. Gibbon described the art and literature of the late Roman Empire in the West as “the second childhood of human reason”, and when future archaeologists dig through the ruins of left behind by the vanished and semi mythical white race, they will similarly describe our times.

  462. >@josh I’ll take reading comprehension fail for $200 Alex.

    Seriously. Given that level of disconnect from what I actually wrote, I figure the best policy is to back away slowly, hoping none of the cluelessness spatters on me.

  463. Wielkie dzi?ki for the multiple “Jackson Pollack” laughs, Fail Burton! I’m still snorting chuckles. Jackson Pollack, Jackson Pollack Jackson Pollack. Can’t get enough of that Polski Syn Jacka!

    (Oh, what a difference a vowel makes. Thanks again for the chuckles.)

  464. Adrian Smith commented:

    Most of them *don’t* demonize all men, that’s just how you seem to be insisting on interpreting what you hear

    Sure they don’t. When Bill Clinton rapes a woman, no problem. When Roman Polanski rapes an underage woman, it gets plea bargained down to statutory rape.

    But when Anthony Cumia is physically attacked by a black whore while minding his own business, a mass of leftist outrage descends upon him and he loses his job for sexism and racism.

    So you do in fact demonize all males outside your own little group, making themssecond class citizens, who may be legitimately subjected to physical attack, and may not legitimately defend themselves.

  465. No one reads Slaughterhouse Five or The Fountainhead for fun, however. Both worldviews can be summed up by Sturgeon’s law. Ninety percent of everything really is crap.

    I have read both for fun, and enjoyed both, particularly The Fountainhead, and to judge by the continuing sales of The Fountainhead, so do lots other people.

    Ayn Rand has written on how to do political fiction and still entertain. Science fiction is the literature of ideas, politics should be about ideas, and political ideas are inherently interesting, so one would expect lots of great science fiction to be political, and lots of great science fiction is political. The problem is that the rabbits do not follow her instructions, and if they did follow her instructions, would probably get in trouble with their fellow rabbits.

  466. If he had Kennedy’s standards I’d have felt sorry for him. POTUS should have higher standards.

    Norma Jean and Jackie may have just been the high end of the distribution, from what I heard.

  467. When Roman Polanski rapes an underage woman, it gets plea bargained down to statutory rape.

    Most folks on the American left can’t stand Polanski from what I’ve seen.

    But when Anthony Cumia is physically attacked by a black whore while minding his own business, a mass of leftist outrage descends upon him and he loses his job for sexism and racism.

    ?

    [googles]

    Well, I *think* he was fired for tweeting about it in a manner which was considered inappropriate for someone in the media.

  468. I will likely regret responding to James A. Donald, but here goes.

    When Roman Polanski rapes an underage woman, it gets plea bargained down to statutory rape.

    Polanski is hardly some sort of darling of the feminist movement. Here he is being vigorously denounced by Amanda Marcotte, by Kate Harding, by Sady Doyle… and I’m not so interested in looking up more. Note that Polanski’s plea bargain happened in the late 1970s; it’s a bit odd to accuse local

    But when Anthony Cumia is physically attacked by a black whore while minding his own business, a mass of leftist outrage descends upon him and he loses his job for sexism and racism.

    Anthony Cumia was attacked by a woman he was photographing (not ‘minding his own business’); there is no particular evidence that she was literally a “whore”, but perhaps you simply mean that as a pejorative version of ‘bad woman, possibly with visible calves’. The funny thing is that this is bad enough without messing with the facts: the guy was taking pictures of people and one of them beat him. He said mean things on the internet about the person who had assaulted him and lost his job. Seriously, that’s messed up.

    I’d also like to draw attention to the distinction between social and legal consequences. Roman Polanski has been the subject of a great deal of angry-twitter-brigading as well; Anthony Cumia has not been the subject of any legal proceedings. (I don’t really care about his profession, but I’m generally against people being forced from their jobs by angry twitter brigades.) It’s not a very good comparison.

    There’s a solid argument to be made here, I’m sure, but you’re doing a terrible job of making it. Even when there are plenty of facts on your side, you still exaggerate, mislead and/or lie. It’s rude. If you’re so sure that the facts are on your side, why not just use them? Or is this a basic-reading-comprehension thing, like that time you were super sure that Paul Revere was “warning the British” on his famous ride because Sarah Palin said so?

  469. Christopher Smith

    I have academic and research experience in high-energy physics and know a large number of individuals with genius IQs who are meticulous and analytical in their work and pure whargarbl in their politics.

    In academia, it is publish or perish, and there is only mainstream publishing. If there was only mainstream publishing in science fiction, all science fiction writers would be, or pretend to be, 100% intersectional feminists etc.

    These days you cannot get ahead in science unless you are pure whargarbl in your politics, so everyone self protectively repeats the official line with even more enthusiasm than the one next to him.

    For example Nazis love Cavilli, study his works religiously, and do not at all believe his pious left wing rhetoric. Since everyone says that stuff, we should not believe that everyone believes that stuff.

  470. On reflection it seems to me that there is indeed a disconnect between much of what is published today called SFF and the deep roots of SF.

    Mostly I suggest this is because the writing does not rise from the deep roots of SF. I’d say the writing is forced into an SFF pigeon hole. Forced because there is a market for and an interest in anything called SFF. Mr. Heinlein’s writing has outlived the slicks he was so pleased to crack. Poor as the market is today for SFF, entry to the market for anything else is much much much harder. Thus rather than being drawn from the deep roots much of the writing has the SFF bits forced on the surface. Any of the experts on sales figures out there care to tell me what sales are for pink non-SF?

    AJ Budrys once suggested the rise of media fandom allowed people the proud and lonely joys of fandom without actually having to you know read and discuss ideas. The great sin of Tor as I see it is telling us that that DS9 in its later years achieved the high and desirable state of soap opera with long arc story telling and literary character development. Further that this is a vast improvement on Wagon Train to the Stars with its premise of a new story with perhaps a different idea every week. Tunnel Under the World from 1954 was written by an unashamed communist and later anthologized by Kingsley Amis an unashamed communist. The story doesn’t suffer all that much by that association. Few people look back at If and say the sequential Hugos were political. Nor did Mr. Pohl represent only the left as a literary agent though Asimov frex surely was leftist. I doubt it helped or hurt Asimov’s sales to be a leftist associated with a communist.

    Agreed there is a wicked political fight and vast decline in the quality of speculative fiction. I simply repeat the old saying the correlation is not causation. If it were I’d expect Arslan say to have better sales.

  471. “When Roman Polanski rapes an underage woman, it gets plea bargained down to statutory rape.”

    Point of order; he didn’t rape an “underaged woman,” he drugged and then anally raped a thirteen year old girl.

    I’d have paid – I would _still_ pay – good money to be in the lottery to hammer a very large pole up his ass before hoisting him up to die…slowly. Were I the president I would dispatch a group from the people formerly known as “Delta” to drag him back to the States and then hold a lottery to see who gets to drive the stake. If that meant war with France, so be it.

  472. ESR,

    “Both sides in this war believe they’re fighting about politics. I consider this evaluation a serious mistake by at least one of the sides.”

    Making a broad claim and generalization of knowing what is the motivation of both sides. And then building your argument around that.

    “Almost the worst possible situation is the one we are in now, in which over the last couple of decades the editorial and critical establishment of SF has been (through a largely accidental process) infiltrated by people whose judgment has been partly or wholly rotted out by literary status envy.”

    WT… The left isn’t trying to control the ideological message. They just want to return to perceived golden age of SF/F. It’s also not an accident if you purposfuly only hire or promote people that think like you.

    “The field’s writers, too, are often diminished and distorted by literary status envy.”

    ELoE just wants to return to this golden age, too… Really? I thought most of them just wanted to write books that readers wanted to read.

    “Meanwhile, the revealed preferences of SF fans have barely changed. This is why a competent hack like David Weber can outsell every Nebula winner combined by huge margins year after year after year.”

    I’m guessing that David Weber fans are hacks ourselvse as we keep on buying his books.

    “The victims of literary status envy resent the likes of David Weber, and their perceived inferiority to the Thomas Pynchons of the world; they think the SF field is broken and need to be fixed.”

    I’m assuming the victims of literary status envy that you are refuring to here are the left leaning publisher that are try to fix SF/F by only publishing those that meet their pervieved standard; i.e., think like them, of which David Weber doesn not conform. I believe is what you are getting at with the following. 

    “When they transpose this resentment into the key of politics in the way their university educations have taught then to do, they become the Rabbits.”

    “The Evil League of Evil is fighting the wrong war in the wrong way.”

    Your opinion based on your belief that the ELofE goals is to, quote,

    “To truly crush the Rabbits,…”

    So you give some advice based on your assumption,

    “…they should be talking less about politics and more about what has been best and most noble in the traditions of the SF genre itself.”

    Like what? Who get’s to define what is ‘most noble,’ because you did not. All you did was leave that to be self-defining as to what the reader of your blog post thinks is most noble. The thing is what you might find noble might not be what I find noble.

    “I think a lot of fans know there is something fatally gone missing in the Rabbit version of science fiction; what they lack is the language to describe and demand it.”

    We don’t need a language. We already tell authors what we want to read by buy the things that we like to read. This is what a competent hack like David Weber understands that you do not. If he rights something we like he writes more like it. If we stop buying what he is writing, he’ll move on to writting something else.

    “But it will be a faster, better, cleaner victory if the Evil League of Evil gets shut of political particularism (and I mean that, even about my politics) and recognizes the real problem. The real problem is that the SF genre’s traditional norms exist for very good reasons, and it’s time we all learned to give the flying heave-ho to people who fail to understand and appreciate that.”

    Particularism man you really like to use the big words. So you think the ELoE should have there own purges based on what, because you don’t want them to pratice particularism. I guess they are supposed to have a particulare idea of what SF/F is then push that ideal without practicing particularism? By asking them to push an ideal you are asking them to practice particularism. Doublethink much. And to have their own purges would make ELoE no better than the other side.

    Again as a reader, Fuck You, I’ll determine what I want to read and spend my money on myself. I don’t like being told what to read by PC / Social Justice crowed in control of old school publishing, and I wouldn’t like it if the ELoE did it too.

    I would appreciate it if you wouldn’t advise them to shoot themselves in the foot.

    Thank You

  473. I read Vonnegut for fun but tried reading Ayn Rand for SCIENCE and only got through a chapter. She’s such a terrible writer, all awkward syntax and zero-dimensional characters.

  474. “Joe Author, “I know you are but what am I” is hardly likely to move me or anyone else.”

    That is how YOU characterize it, not me. Frontline partisans like yourself are not moved by anything except what they want to believe in or think is true.

    “The mainstream publishers are giving them contracts for political reasons, not because customers want to by this crap.”

    Let me echo these sentiments…The Readers determine, mostly there are trend followers, what they want to read more of, and they do this by buying what they like to read.

    “Similarly, art and poetry is crap that exists directly and indirectly because of government grants, as is normal in decadent civilizations. Gibbon described the art and literature of the late Roman Empire in the West as “the second childhood of human reason”, and when future archaeologists dig through the ruins of left behind by the vanished and semi mythical white race, they will similarly describe our times.”

    Assuming that is what will characterize our current art and poetry. Let me again echo these sentiments..Who the F**k made you the determiner of what SF/F (or art or poetry or culture) is supposed to be?

  475. That’s not true Joe Author. For example, I read english but I have no idea how I am a frontline partisan. I am absolutely moved by what I see in front of me.

    When I see a movement that is institutionalized and using words like “Mansplaining, dudebros, trigger warning, rape culture, male gaze, patriarchy, straight white male, QUILTBAG, white savior, white privilege, male privilege, slut-shaming, fat-shaming, marginalized voices, PoC, misogyny, non-binary, cisgendered, other, heteronormative, ableism, genderqueer, cultural appropriation, micro-agressions, erasure” and calling themselves “intersectionalists,” I don’t go “Oh look, liberal progressives, or are they Marxists, or maybe worshipers of Ishtar?”

    I had no particular desire to see this stuff nor did I even know what an intersectionalist was when I ran into it. I did two things: I didn’t cherry-pick but confined myself to institutional expressions of this cult and I educated myself. It is what it is. You simply saying “No it’s not” reminds me of the Monty Python sketch where a guy pays for an argument. You’re not really arguing because you supply no facts to contradict my claims. You simply ascribe bias to me and say “No it’s not.” I don’t say “Yes it is” but supply quotes and facts.

    Do yourself a favor: make a strike zone. I don’t even care what it is but some definition of hate-speech and then apply it regardless of race, religion or creed. The cite some facts, some quotes.

  476. I confess to being deeply puzzled by Scalzi writing a book in H. Beam Piper’s world. Either Scalzi is so astonishingly dim that he doesn’t realize that he represents the polar opposite of what it meant to be good in Piper’s world or he is trying to retcon Piper into the opposite of what he was.

  477. George: Scalzi saw an opportunity to unleash an anti-corporate screed and went for it.

    Personally, I’d love to live on Piper’s New Texas…and to see Scalzi there.

  478. Why did Scalzi use Piper? As far as I can tell he writes, Tweets, blogs and goes to the occasional convention. He has no other discernible interests or hobbies. He has not traveled or had interesting jobs. Precisely what well of experience can he draw upon – his privilege?

    He is the most flatlined SFF writer I’ve ever heard of. Even the phobic shut-in Lovecraft had an imagination and literary interests. So did the isolated R.E. Howard and Clark Ashton Smith. Nuns probably lead more daring and interesting lives. Watch TV and geek Oscar Wilde witticisms with other geeks and that’s the velvet painting literature that will pop out. I’m surprised he doesn’t do a novel about Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley journeying into Middle Earth on an albino tiger in search of magic refrigerator magnets.

  479. >I’m surprised [Scalzi] doesn’t do a novel about Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley journeying into Middle Earth on an albino tiger in search of magic refrigerator magnets.

    Shhhh! Don’t say that too loudly. He might actually do it, figuring it sounds like a sure shot for the 2015 Nebulas. Worse still, he might be right.

  480. “You simply saying “No it’s not” reminds me of the Monty Python sketch where a guy pays for an argument. You’re not really arguing because you supply no facts to contradict my claims.”

    You’re correct, I’m not arguing with you. YOU are making that assumption. With all that straw you’re providing me, I can help one of the three little pigs with building their house. And then with all your wind, you can blow it down again.

    “I had no particular desire to see this stuff…”

    Well, it’s there. And it will be there. What you are saying is nothing new; it’s retaliation for their ideological enemy’s nomenclature and verbiage–patriarchy, vibrant, r and k selection theory, rabbits, manosphere, gamma male, raciss, and pinkshits”. Traverse the mine field at your own peril.

    “nor did I even know what an intersectionalist was when I ran into it.”

    [Golf clap]

    “Do yourself a favor: make a strike zone.”

    And get needlessly caught up in your vortex? I’ll pass, thank you.

  481. Once upon a time Luscinia the tattooed lady had a dream. Into Middle Earth strode a giant white cisheteronormative tiger, and on it’s back was the King, Elvis, and his beautiful binary girl Marilyn. They were in search of white trash lodestones which, according to ancient white myths, could restore one’s privilege. Elvis and Marilyn had lost their privilege by taking too many painkillers and found themselves on the other side with no way back except by finding the lodestones decorated with ancient figures like B.J. and the Bear and and Eight is Enough.

    What the King and his beautiful male gaze princess didn’t know was that BuiltBag Baggins and her evil non-binary crew of rainbow arch-feminists were determined the King and his concubine should never regain their privilege.

    But what BuiltBag didn’t realize was the King’s magic ethnic tiger had laser beam eyeballs and 20mm cannon in its elbows which…

  482. grendelkhan:

    Polanski is hardly some sort of darling of the feminist movement.

    He is as left as Clinton, therefore gets similar immunity as Clinton
    James A. Donald:

    But when Anthony Cumia is physically attacked by a black whore while minding his own business, a mass of leftist outrage descends upon him and he loses his job for sexism and racism.

    grendelkhan:

    Anthony Cumia was attacked by a woman he was photographing (not ‘minding his own business’);

    She was only a small part of the image, therefore only accidentally in frame.

    there is no particular evidence that she was literally a “whore”,

    In that costume, at that time, walking alone. Obvious she is a whore, just no one is allowed to say so.

    He said mean things on the internet about the person who had assaulted him and lost his job.

    No he did not say mean things. He said factual things. The facts, not Anthony Cumia’s manner of depicting the facts, show women and blacks in a bad light. If his manner of reporting what happened to him is unacceptable, then there is no acceptable way of reporting black or female bad behavior. You are supposed to silently suck it up and not mention it.

    And indeed, this the same thing that I observe in the workplace, that there is no acceptable way of mentioning female bad behavior. If a woman behaves badly in the workplace, no one dares speak of it. Women are privileged to create drama in the workplace that would get a man fired, and everyone pretends it is not happening, because to notice it is happening will get you in trouble. People do silently suck it up and not mention it, as serfs in olden days refrained from noticing objectionable behavior by aristocrats. Similarly, blacks queue jumping.

    Or is this a basic-reading-comprehension thing, like that time you were super sure that Paul Revere was “warning the British” on his famous ride because Sarah Palin said so?

    You lot are amazingly ignorant, as well as in denial about what is happening in front of your eyes. I know that Paul Revere was “warning the British” (in the sense of threatening them), because Paul Revere said so.

    Recap on the terrible gaffes of Sarah Palin:

    Sarah Palin says you can see Russia from Alaska. All the terribly smart people say “ha ha ha, Alaska is a million miles from Russia.”

    Sarah Palin says that Korea was divided by Russian conquest and aggression, all the terribly smart people say “ha ha ha, North Korea was liberated by some heroic figure like Ho Chi Minh, whose name I unfortunately cannot remember, and then the evil US divided it”

    Sarah Palin says that Paul Revere warned the British it was a bad idea to try to take Americans’ guns away, all the the terribly smart people say “ha ha ha, the British never tried to take Americans’ guns away.”

    And they know they must be right because they are so terribly terribly smart. And since Sarah Palin so frequently disagrees with the terribly smart people, this shows she must be very very stupid, since all the smart people know that the smart people are right about everything.

    You don’t know where Russia and Alaska are, you don’t know the history of the cold war, you don’t know what was in the Obamacare bill, and you don’t know the story of Paul Revere’s midnight ride, because all that stuff is dead white males, and dead white males do not matter. And anyone who thinks they do matter, and therefore knows this stuff, you call them stupid.

  483. >Once upon a time, Luscinia is telling you to shut up.

    How futile of you. I don’t know Fail Burton very well, but it takes little imagination to extrapolate the volume of the rude noise he is about to make in your general direction.

  484. I confess to being deeply puzzled by Scalzi writing a book in H. Beam Piper’s world. Either Scalzi is so astonishingly dim that he doesn’t realize that he represents the polar opposite of what it meant to be good in Piper’s world or he is trying to retcon Piper into the opposite of what he was.

    Well…if you have no ideas of your own I suppose you look for places to steal from. IMHO, good SFF authors tend to steal from history and mythology. Not so good authors steal from good authors and are derivatives of derivatives.

    Scalzi probably didn’t give a shit he was butchering Piper to do his “reboot”. And permission from “Piper’s Estate” is, AFAIK, just Ace Books so that makes it pretty meaningless and deceptive. It makes you think there’s some family behind it like the Tolkien estate. Who would probably have sent hit men.

    I mean jesus…he touts that every fucking time he says anything about Fuzzy Nation without ever noting that the estate is Ace Books that paid the widow a $1000 for the whole thing.

    http://www.jerrypournelle.com/archives/archivesmail/mail69.html

    I don’t really care what his politics are. Wil Wheaton’s politics are not close to mine and I’m a fan because he’s entertaining and he doesn’t seem like a slime ball. Scalzi seems like a real slime ball to me.

  485. Luscinia commented:

    She’s such a terrible writer, all awkward syntax and zero-dimensional characters.”

    Having met plenty of Ayn Rand villains in real life, seem plenty dimensional to me.

  486. Ah, never mind, FB has some unusual talent for ridicule. He should be let to practice.

    In a flaming cat fight between authors you would hope the discourse is more entertaining than normal.

    Some not so much thus far.

  487. Nigel:

    If you go over to Larry’s blog and hunt around a bit you can probably find some very fine toasting from Fail. Though, to be an author is generally taken to mean “has actually published something.” I don’t know if Fail has but I am inclined to discount Yama’s posting of some few chapters on Deviant Art.

    Of course, once Yama decides to take Vox up on his offer, we’ll all have to treat him with more respect.

  488. Fail Burton on 2014-08-03 at 04:06:58 said:

    Rich Rostrum…
    My name is Rostrom. That’s my sore toe. Don’t step on it, please.
    … were that the case, why was there a KKK?

    The Klan were enforcers of white supremacy in areas where whites were not an overwhelming majority. (Leaving aside outliers such as the Klan infestation of Indiana in the 1920s.)

    An accidental demographic majority does not serve the same goals or purpose as a supremacist racial ideology. Those “whites” are broken down in Poles, Catholics and Jews who were once discriminated against, Irish, Greeks, etc. These so-called whites don’t have any interest in knowing how many whites died in a plane crash, scored in an NBA game or any of that.

    No, but they care how many Americans whatever… And to a first approximation, American = white American. That’s why there’s no demand for White American anything.

    Read The Root and learn the difference.

    Small minority tribalism is functionally different from overwhelming majority tribalism.

  489. > Having met plenty of Ayn Rand villains in real life, seem plenty dimensional to me.

    Villains are the part Ayn Rand did the best.

    More generally, I agree with Mark Atwood’s take on Ayn Rand’s works:

    “I find the prose purple and turgid, the plots hacknyed, the heros uninspiring and unlikely, and the author’s personal life unworthy of much to emulate. However, the villains in her novels are utterly completely dead on.

    “And my observed experience is that the people who don’t like that last observation, are the kind of people that she is talking about.?”

  490. I’ll probably piss off both sides here, but the first comment motivated me to search for and read “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love”. You know what? I liked it. A bit twee, but good. Just one problem, though. Other than one incidental paragraph, how on Earth can it possibly be classified as SF?

    (By the way, I was greatly offended by the following sentence: “Still, I’d know that it was for the best that you marry another creature like yourself, one that shares your body and bone and genetic template.” Speciesism!)

  491. Rich Rostrum…

    And to a first approximation, American = white American. That’s why there’s no demand for White American anything.

    If there is no demand for White American anything why is it necessary to make the supply of White American anything illegal, and enforce the law with such extraordinary vigor?

  492. I read H. Beam Piper’s original Little Fuzzy for the first time while I was waiting for Scalzi’s reboot to come in to the library. Likable characters, believable villains, plausible setting. Then I read Fuzzy Nation. Nope, not really, and—are they really exporting fossil fuels from another planet? am I completely to ignore that it would take tons of coal-equivalent energy to launch pounds of coal into orbit? Meh.

  493. Why should I? I am not my brother’s keeper; less poetically, I cannot be responsible for the behaviour of other people, unless I have meaningful influence over them. For instance, if I were the dickhead’s parent I indeed would have a duty to apply a corrective. But some random stranger? They’re not going to change just because I call them out, and they might sock me one for trying. If you care, you stand up to them, but don’t expect me to fight your battles just because you demand it.

    Well, feminists think you might have more influence over friends and family than you realise. Obviously random strangers is a harder call, but I reckon they’d prefer you to say something understated like “Not cool, dude” rather than “D’ya feel lucky, punk? Do ya?”

    But as I said earlier, if you don’t believe in it, don’t do it. This is a request, not a demand. They know they can’t *make* you do anything.

    But if you’re John C. Wright, for instance, they’ll interpret “I refuse to join your witch-hunt” as “I am pro-witches”. And then they’ll vie with each other for who can performatively dislike you most flamboyantly, because that’s how they compete for status (after all, they have to have some way of breaking ties between people with the same hand of intersectional minority cards).

    Well, John seems to enjoy being a bit provocative towards critics. But really, I’m not standing up for these particular feminists, they do seem to be trying to take territory here. I might be a bit second wave.

  494. I write two comments trying to pick apart form and politics in SF, and one which pokes the troll. I am utterly unsurprised at which one got a reply. There’s not really much there there, however.

    He is as left as Clinton, therefore gets similar immunity as Clinton

    Follow along now: the original comparison was between Roman Polanski and a guy named Anthony Cumia (who I have no particular interest in!), who have, respectively, liberal and conservative politics. The former was arrested, fled to his native France, and has been evading extradition while (controversially) continuing to work. He is greatly reviled among feminists. The latter was hounded from his job by an angry twitter brigade. He is (judging by this brigade) greatly reviled by some people on the left. This is, apparently, evidence that the former has “immunity” while the latter does not, even though both get the twitter hate brigade.

    She was only a small part of the image, therefore only accidentally in frame.

    The picture in question. (She is the subject of the picture.) See, this is the kind of thing that gets me. It’s not like it would dilute the point you’re trying to make if you told the truth.

    In that costume, at that time, walking alone. Obvious she is a whore, just no one is allowed to say so.

    Perhaps you are not familiar with how the young people in the city dress. Having met people (including ladies who traveled unescorted! after sundown! o the scandal!) at events (which did not involve prostitution!) who were dressed similarly, I submit to you that perhaps you are poorly calibrated.

    No he did not say mean things. He said factual things.

    “CUNTRAG bitch fuck animal pig face worthless meat sack shit pile stink crotch ass stain rot bung…”

    This is deeply unsatisfying, and I cannot bring myself to continue to nitpick at this hour. You’d have a fine argument even without the embellishments and lies! Really! How can you have such little trust in your own convictions? You apparently run a blog; you seem to be sincere and not just trying to get a rise out of people by acting dumb. It truly mystifies me.

  495. the original comparison was between Roman Polanski and a guy named Anthony Cumia (who I have no particular interest in!), who have, respectively, liberal and conservative politics. The former was arrested,

    The former committed rape, but, being a prominent leftist, was of course naturally charged with a lesser offense.

    He is greatly reviled among feminists

    He is, like Clinton, adored by feminists. Google up Polanski’s “Venus in furs”

    Anthony Cumia, on the other hand was fired for complaining about being attacked by a black female. Non leftists are supposed to suck that sort of thing up.

    She was only a small part of the image, therefore only accidentally in frame.

    The picture in question.
    (She is /the subject/ of the picture.)

    Untrue

    That is not the picture. That was the picture taken when she approached to attack him.

    This is the picture in question: http://indilens.com/48368-anthony-cumia-victim-racial-hate-crime-siriusxm/

    “CUNTRAG bitch fuck animal pig face worthless meat sack shit pile stink crotch ass stain rot bung…”

    He said that after he was fired for being attacked by a black woman.

  496. Women like to be raped, and feminists like to be raped by leftists

    Thass just nasty.

  497. @JAD

    In the meantime some of us have managed to 1: Have our eyes open. And 2: Not simply go along with the herd by merely inverting whatever the popular doctrine of the day is. Unlike you.

    You have repeatedly claimed to be an enemy of liberalism, yet everything you say is based on affirming one of liberalism’s core premises: The Collective is All.

    Collectivism can only, and has always led to nothing but evil. You are a leftist in the deepest and most important ways. In fact you define yourself by your inversion of stupidity.

    You. Are. Evil.

  498. I wrote:

    Women like to be raped, and feminists like to be raped by leftists

    Obviously that is an overly crude simplification. A more accurate statement would be that women’s attitude to rape is complex, conflicted, and self contradictory.

  499. Somewhere way up above in the comments, a point was made that the real difference is between “Human Wave” and “Gray Goo”. That I think is the correct terminology. Where Human Wave is generally optimistic, thinks progress is a good thing and that things will get better, distrusts authority, like humanity as a whole etc. and Gray Goo is the nihilist/pessimistic the future is bad kind of stuff. To the extent that this has a political overtone, Human Wave tends to be libertarian while Gray Goo is statist. Economically Human Wave believes in making people richer by growing the pie, while Gray Goo believes is dividing up the pie equally (with some being rather more equal than others).

    A lot of the Rabbits are on the side of equal shares of pie. More importantly many of them simply have no grasp of the possibility that trade can be anything other than win-lose. Hence their desperation to stop other people writing and thus taking their share of pie. But this isn’t a 1:1 mapping. Similarly a lot of the ELoE is Human Wave, but there are plenty of non-ELoE writers who are generally Human Wave writers (e.g. Elizabeth Moon, Pratchett or even JK Rowling in many ways) and I find a good deal of Kratman’s work to skirt the borders of Gray Goo.

    To the extent that there is a mapping between Rabbits==Goo & ELoE==Human Wave it is probably related to a sense of humor. The rabbits don’t seem to have one – if it wasn’t surgically removed at birth they had it removed when they went to university. Similarly Gray Goo is not funny. The ELoE on the other hand have the sort of sense of humor that gets them thrown out of places for laughing or joking inappropriately and every piece of humorous SF I have ever read comes across as Human Wave.

  500. Anthony Cumia is a massive douche galosh anyway.

    Fail hasn’t been making rude noises and expelling gas already? Because he sure fooled me. Very little of his posts are coherent; it’s like the PERL script that is John C. Wright was written as irreverent rather than a pretentious, monotonous prophet of doom.

  501. @Luscinia

    Ignore JAD. If ESR is disinclined to ban him then he’s our resident racist/village idiot.

    Responding to him at all is an exercise in fail because then he posts more.

  502. @ Foo Quuxman – “Collectivism can only, and has always led to nothing but evil. ”

    In the world of insects, many species have evolved a form of collectivism (as innate behavior) and it serves as a successful mechanism to ensure their fecundity and survival. In modern homo sapiens, cognition, rationality, and intelligence are dominant traits that ensure species success. Voluntary associational behavior is often synergistic, whereas coerced collectivist behavior can stifle or inhibit innovative adaptation. It’s not about good versus evil, but what works and what doesn’t.

  503. You mean Erbo? Read the comment thread on http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=5220; his situation is sadder than you perhaps realise, and may force you to confront the issue more squarely.

    For those that read that thread, here’s the kicker that I never mentioned in either that thread nor this one:

    I’m already engaged, and thus have absolutely NO reason to even be hitting on random women at cons, let alone harassing them, or worse.

    However, would the hypothetical woman with a chip on her shoulder know that? No. My fiancee wouldn’t be with me, as she doesn’t go to cons, and she has certain health issues that keep her from doing a lot of walking around, which you do a lot of at cons. It’s not customary for men to wear engagement rings, and I wouldn’t stoop to wearing a placard around my neck that says “I’M ENGAGED, I’M PERFECTLY SAFE”. Therefore, I am effectively indistinguishable, to a female observer, from the random buttheads and/or nice guys with minimal social skills.

    And, if the woman with a chip on her shoulder decides to level the accusation of harassment against me, the fact that I lack a motive to do so would matter about as much as a fart in a tornado. To the SJW feministas, it seems, innocence is no defense.

    And I try to imagine what my fiancee would say if I wound up with a reputation as a harasser as a result of something like this happening… (Erbo shudders) In some respects, that’s worse than other possible repercussions.

    So we’re back to the original point I made: Can you guarantee that I am safe from something like this happening? You CAN’T!

    And that’s why I am reducing my “risk profile” by just not attending.

  504. “the real difference is between ‘Human Wave’ and ‘Gray Goo'”

    It is likely too late to change the terminology, but it seems to me that “gray goo” has absolutely the wrong connotations here. The scary thing about gray goo is that it is rabidly efficient in a scrappy-competitor way: it might not be the only efficient design, but if it is efficiently optimized for replication it, that could be efficient enough, because it might eat all the resources you need before you have a chance to find any design that’s more efficient.

    The kind of thing ESR and Sarah Hoyt are complaining about is not particularly efficient, it’s flabby and self-indulgent. To the extent that it’s efficient, it’s an adequately efficient parasite (upon previously efficient organizations) with some ability to manipulate the infected host: not an ant or a cockroach or gray goo, but a plasmodium or a rabies virus or some horror-story artificial nanotech that spreads not by rapidly building copies of itself from sunlight and gravel, but by converting people into true zombies (instead of merely the cheap rabies knockoff). If I wanted to give it a name analogous to “gray goo”, I’d try to find some riff on Robin Hanson’s terminology that today is the “dreamtime,” with tech exploding so much faster than population that we’re currently so far away from competitive constraints that lots of flaky or dysfunctional things can persist long enough that they come to seem natural. Crude simple parasitism that just makes the host flabbily inefficient works best in such a dreamtime, when your host has a good chance to be enjoying enough slack that the reduced efficiency doesn’t immediately kill the host. (So: “the dreamtime creeping crud?” I dunno, probably not that but something vaguely in that spirit.)

    (Simple trash-the-host parasitism doesn’t go away under sharp competition, but a significant fraction of it is driven into more complex strategies, like almost-symbiosis or at least burden-the-host-only-lightly. Light burden needs little explanation, but not everyone knows dramatic examples, such as herpes strains native to monkeys that in their ordinary hosts are carefully adapted to cause very mild chronic infections analogous to cold sores, but can be very dangerous to humans because their show-restraint mechanisms don’t work reliably in us so they can just trash our nervous systems with fatal consequences. Almost-symbiosis has lots of variations, e.g. parasitize both the prey species and the predator, but put most of the burden on the prey species in such a way that it becomes easier for the predator to catch infected prey, so that only the prey species has much incentive to stop you from spreading, and the predator may even be incentivized to spread you. Analogies to grouchy observations about the USSR encouraging US organizational parasites in the Cold War are left as an exercise for the reader.)

  505. >And that’s why I am reducing my “risk profile” by just not attending.

    First, heterosexual males bail out. Then heterosexual females bail out. FAIL. The right way to think of this is evolution in action; the cons that succumb to this nonsense will die, and fandom will learn the lesson.

    Come out to Penguicon some year, Erbo. Not a hostile environment.

  506. @erbo i think the general consensus was that you were “being overcautious”.

    I can’t guarantee I’m not going to get in a horrible accident if I drive. So what?

    You can reduce your risk profile to living by not doing any living and cowering at home. That’s up to you but IMHO it’s stupid.

    And the fact that you are engaged or married doesn’t automatically mean that you won’t hit on random women anyway.

  507. Come out to Penguicon some year, Erbo. Not a hostile environment.

    Michigan’s kind of far for me to travel. But thanks anyway.

  508. Now and again, an idea will occur to me, of a pattern or taxonomy, which I can’t get out of my head because so many examples are swarming through the world.
    It seems that a great many people can’t distinguish between emotional predispositions and reactions, and intellectation. (“What the thinker thinks, the prover proves.”) A variety of current research supports the notion that “right” and “left” are substantially emotional styles. One of the differences which seems critical to me is the strong emotional bias on the “right” against introspection, which intensely inhibits certain ranges of learning. This determined blindness obstructs communication as well.
    (And lest someone too conveniently pigeonholes/dismisses me as just some “rabbit”, I’ve been going to Wiscon since the very first, and am in the dilemma that if I let my opinions out I’ll be tarred and feathered and ridden out of Madison on a rail. It’s in your best interest not to get me started on the outrage addicts.)

  509. We know that lower prices mean lower revenue, because people are paying less”

    You flat out FAILED Microeconomics, didn’t you.

  510. You can reduce your risk profile to living by not doing any living and cowering at home. That’s up to you but IMHO it’s stupid.

    At least, when I drive, I have some hope that, if something happens on the road around me, I can evade it.

    Now, at work, where similar rules apply, I have ways of coping with the threat of being accused of harassment. I don’t generally speak to female coworkers except in the course of business, I remember not to stare at anyone, and I even try not to get into an elevator with women, at least in situations where I’m the only man in the elevator. But this is the office, where (a) I’ve got something else I should be doing, namely, my job, and (b) as Sarah Hoyt pointed out, that environment isn’t supposed to be about hanky-panky anyway.

    But do I want to spend my weekends living like that, walking around a convention floor saying to myself, “don’t look, don’t look, don’t look, oh God don’t look, don’t look…”? Compared to that, staying home and playing Minecraft sounds a whole lot better.

    And the fact that you are engaged or married doesn’t automatically mean that you won’t hit on random women anyway.

    It better damn well mean that, or my fiancee would kick my ass! (She’s kind of the jealous type…)

  511. You flat out FAILED Microeconomics, didn’t you.

    You flat out FAILED reading comprehension, didn’t you?

  512. FrancisT

    I find a good deal of Kratman’s work to skirt the borders of Gray Goo.

    Not so, not so. If Tom Kratman is grey goo, so is Keith Laumer

    Tom Kratman’s depicts social decay, a corrupt and decadent government ruling over a corrupt and decadent populace, just as Keith Laumer did, but his energetic heroes successfully oppose it, and can potentially reverse it.

    The grey goo authors hate people, hate technology, hate heroes. Tom Kratman hates the villainous state.

    Leftism teaches magical thinking. Everything could be made lovely just by the beneficent state willing it to be lovely, yet, strangely things are not lovely. Left wing programs somehow strangely wind up producing results very different from those intended. Bad people must be doing this. Those bad people (supposedly the one percent, but in practice just about everyone) must be destroyed.

    In the final stages of the leftism, the official party attempts to torture to death every member of the official party, as in the final stages of Red Cambodia.

    Compare a typical Tom Kratman hero, who successfully creates a vile, manly prosperous, peaceful and safe society in the midst of chaos and evil, with a typical Ian Banks hero.

    Left wing heroes love far and hate near. Hating near, they hate themselves most of all and wind up killing themselves in a disgusting and depraved manner, as the left wing author Wallace did in real life.

    Here is a typical Ian Banks story, kind of fun, but like wallowing in in pig manure. The story starts displaying the King and the Crown Prince going to war but it is shown from the author’s point of view, that a King, simply be being a King, being Kingly and doing the stuff a King is supposed to do, is necessarily a very bad man. The Crown Prince is thoroughly unkingly, which supposedly makes him better.

    The crown prince finds himself set up to be killed in battle, but successfully makes a getaway, all those around him dying to cover his escape. He discovers that his father has been similarly set up, and has been badly wounded. He sees the evil plotter gloat to the King that he, the crown prince, has been killed in battle. He then sees the evil plotter responsible for all this, murder his father in a quite horrible fashion.

    The evil plotter is the only character in the book who expects the father to care deeply about presumed death of his son.

    Now at this point, the story should end on page ten or thereabouts as the prince reveals himself to the troops, they all say “The King is dead, long live the King”, and he then hangs the evil plotter.
    But instead, this thoroughly unkingly prince runs away, thereby betraying his father and all those that died that he might live, even though running away is probably a lot more dangerous than
    confronting the evil plotter. He is in the midst of an army that is overwhelmingly loyal to the monarchy, thus to himself, but furtively flees that army.

    A Keith Laumer hero or Tom Kratman hero would never do that.

    So, I assume, this is a story about how the hero eventually overcomes his inner weakness and does the right thing.

    No it is not. Seems that, in the author’s eyes, the prince *did* do the right thing.

    The Prince, like Wallace, eventually kills himself in a fashion that the author views as heroic, but which I view as disgusting and horrifyingly depraved.

    The progressive concept of morality is inwardly felt utilitarianism – that one should love all mankind equally with oneself, rather thanloving oneself, loving one’s kith and kin, and for the rest, returning good for good, and evil for evil.

    Of course no one is ever going to inwardly feel utilitarianism, but they can inwardly feel self destructiveness that they can plausibly mistake for inward felt utilitarianism. Evil and madness notoriously tends to be self destructive. If it is self destructive, it is plausibly interpreted as self abnegation, the essence of Kantian and progressive morality.

    In addition *not* feeling conventional morality, is apt to be mistaken for feeling utilitarian morality.

  513. “I’ll probably piss off both sides here, but the first comment motivated me to search for and read “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love”. You know what? I liked it. A bit twee, but good. Just one problem, though. Other than one incidental paragraph, how on Earth can it possibly be classified as SF?”

    Horribly off topic, but I did not think it was bad either. Odd for the founder of the ELoE to admit, eh?

    For something so short, it was quite touching. It just was not a science fiction story, since there was neither science fiction, nor a story, anywhere it in.

    There were minor flaws, like the mention of Gin in a barroom brawl, or the oddly disconnected insults the yokels were alleged to have said which shattered the suspension of disbelief (Who calls anyone a raghead shemale?). But a bride grieving over her comatose husband, a paleontologist, and wishing he had been the dinosaurs he studied? Poignant idea.

    I wrote the author a note of congratulations on her win. The Nebula Award still means something to me, but I think, like the Nobel Peace Prize, that meaning is rapidly being eroded into irrelevance.

  514. > I can’t guarantee I’m not going to get in a horrible accident if I drive. So what?

    A prudent driver avoids driving at times when the weather is exceptionally bad or in places where the traffic is exceptionally dangerous.

    And let’s consider a sex-reversed analog: Hypothetical SF cons with “no prostitution” policies that not only are very strict, but that also put all the onus on the women and give all the benefit of the doubt to the men. Where an accusation, from a male attending the con, of “she propositioned me!” would be enough to get con security on the woman’s case, would probably get her kicked out of the con, would possibly get her arrested by local law-enforcement, and might well get her slut-shamed on social media and/or fired from her job. Because any male accusation has to be taken seriously and given the benefit of the doubt, and any denial by the woman considered a lie unless there was proof otherwise. (Because, after all, all women are natural whores, and if a woman hasn’t acted as a whore yet there’s still good reason to believe that she might suddenly start acting like one at any time in the future.)

    And for extra rudeness, consider that, at such cons, the men can get away with propositioning women under this system, with a woman’s complaints either not being believed, or worse being dismissed with a “lucky you!” or words to that effect.

    Under such conditions, would you then be so blithe about telling a woman that she should be brave and attend such SF cons anyway? That she is being excessively timid for declining to do so? That she is not a real woman but a mouse who deserves to die as a reclusive spinster?

  515. Oh, Wiscon’s in Madison? The town that tries very hard to out-Berkeley Berkeley? The most left-wing place in the US between the ocean coasts? That Madison?

    I’m only surprised it didn’t go full-goose loony moonbat earlier.

  516. Those bad people (supposedly the one percent, but in practice just about everyone) must be destroyed.

    It is 1% in the same way that Alice would be paid every other day by the white queen.

  517. With regards to “Deep Norms of Fantasy”, I would like to make an observation that might help us figure this out.

    In (if I recall correctly) Orson Scott Card’s “How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy”, Card describes four ways for a given plot-line to develop, depending on the focus of the line: Character, Milieu (ie, a stranger’s experiences in a weird land), Idea, and Event. ESR has made the case that the “deep norms of SF” is idea-driven–a puzzle has to be solved, and the characters typically use scientific knowledge and discovery to solve it. Card pointed out that Fantasy stories are strongly Event-driven: something has put the “universe” out of balance, and the story isn’t complete until balance is re-established in some way or another.

    I do not know what the politics within Fantasy Fiction are like, but I have a suspicion that, like Science Fiction, Fantasy tends to favor Individualism, albeit for different reasons. One of those reasons is that it’s typically up to a single individual, who is often placed in an unusual position, and is often just an ordinary person thrust into extraordinary circumstances, to save the world.

    Now, I would have to confess that I’m not as well-versed in reading science fiction and fantasy as I would like to be; for the past several years, I’ve been too busy with school, work, family and even politics of sorts, to find time to squeeze in fiction reading (although I would squeeze something in every once in a while), so my observations (and memory, for that matter) may need to be taken with a grain of salt. Additionally, it’s not impossible to have SF/F stories that either make use of, or focus on, one of these other plot drivers. (Indeed, now that I think about it, the driving force behind the short story “The Menace from Earth” by Heinlein was the growth of the character of the story, and not an idea, although it took place on the moon.) But that doesn’t really matter so much, because we’re looking for the primary driver of norms, and not the exceptions…

  518. Erbo – it is kind of weird that you let everyone give you all that good advice about How To Meet Women in the other thread when that wasn’t really the problem. If you’re determined to live life in the shadow of your worst case scenario it’s up to you, but it sounds like a bit of a waste. You could try wearing a camera (dunno about Glass, that shit creeps a lot of people out) so you’d have some proof of your innocence for security in the face of empowered crazy women stalking the convention halls looking to make false harassment accusations. OTOH, they might decide the camera was for upskirt activities and throw the book at you anyway.

    Risk management is always a personal thing.

  519. “Exhibit A is Alex Dally McFarlane’s call for an end to the default of binary gender in SF.”
    This idiot does not know SF, because there have already been plenty of stories about multigender aliens, and even some multigender humans. One of the first was by a founder of SF, Asimov, in his story “The Gods Themselves”, which posited an alien race with 3 genders, rational, paternal, and emotional, which all needed to come together in a “melting” to produce new generations. Several succeeding writers had stories with male, female, and neuter. Others had aliens who went from female to male as their life progressed. And one story even had a genetically engineered human offshoot of hermaphrodites.

  520. Obviously that is an overly crude simplification. A more accurate statement would be that women’s attitude to rape is complex, conflicted, and self contradictory.

    Two things to note on this subject. One is that women don’t say what they mean. This is natural, because passive-aggression is the weakling’s version of power. Hence feminist gobbledygook, pseudorape fantasies, etc. The other is that if you can get away with it rape is certainly an evolutionary advantage for the perpetrator. And women want in men what is useful to their sons. So though women – by definition – don’t “want to be raped” (this is an oxymoron), they may want the trappings of rape as proof that their mate is capable of doing it to others.

  521. Adrian Smith:

    If you’re determined to live life in the shadow of your worst case scenario it’s up to you, but it sounds like a bit of a waste.

    One can go to the beach and hit on girls in perfect safety.

    One can walk down the street and hit on girls in reasonable safety.

    One can hit on shopgirls girls in reasonable safety, and even if you don’t score, you will probably get more service and friendlier service.

    Or, one could go to a con and walk around on eggshells in case someone decides that you might be thinking about hitting on girls and takes it upon themselves to destroy your life and career.

    Men who hit on lots of girls and do it embarrassingly badly are a problem, but it is inappropriate to solve that problem by giving women a nuclear weapon that they can deploy capriciously with no consequences to themselves. Shops don’t go overboard on sexual harassment because they don’t want to lose customers. Cons should not either. If a con’s policy is strikingly more extreme than is typical for shops, that con is losing customers.

  522. If you were a dinosaur, my love
    We’d hammer in the morning,
    We’d hammer in the evening,
    I’d use your head as an anvil
    And I’d make swords to kill
    straight white males
    All over this land
    And then drink a 55
    gallon drum Sport Shake
    And read Joanna Russ
    til my nostrils bled

  523. “A Keith Laumer hero or Tom Kratman hero would never do that.”

    No, and if one of my characters tried it, his fate would be _most_ unenviable. Indeed, the angels would weep. ;)

  524. >In some cases.

    What was that Brian Eno quote? Oh yeah: “The Velvet Underground’s first album only sold 30,000 copies in its first five years, but everyone who bought one of those copies formed a band.”

  525. Exhibit B is Damien Walter at The Guardian writing “Science fiction needs to reflect that the future is queer.”

    How wacky do you have to be to state that publicly? That’s the guy who asked us to “Google ‘intersectional’…”

    MacFarlane responded to Walter’s Guardian piece with “Glad to see @damiengwalter talk about the reality of a queer future and the need for queer SF.”

    What reality is that? Is nature itself due for some chromosome revolution? Are they spiking the water? Should I stick to Juicy Juice? And what need is there for queer SF? This is part of the PC crowd that complains about Anglo ethnocentrism but I don’t see anyone in SF writing the future is white but I do see the PC writing about “Afrofuturism.” I think the PC have their racism and supremacy upside-down.

  526. I’m not saying the guitar work is groundbreaking or anything, but the lyrics are quite funny.

  527. The PCLGBTSF Rabbit reactionaries should be disposed of the same way Arthur C. Clarke’s hated soccer referee was disposed of.

  528. >I’m not saying the guitar work is groundbreaking or anything, but the lyrics are quite funny.

    Considering it was recorded in 19-freaking-72 that guitar work actually was rather impressive. Though it would not have been, particularly, as little as 2 or 3 years later. Guitar technique was changing very fast then as musicians struggled to assimilate what Jimi Hendrix had been doing from ’68 to ’71.

    But it was the vocals that were the we-wanna-be-VU-when-we-grow-up tell. Pure imitation Lou Reed.

  529. If not random surely not haphazard Maybe a pseudorandom village?

  530. No, a village that richly merited destruction. There is no shortage of such even in today’s world; it is not difficult to construct such in a fictional world.

  531. I have great difficulty reading Larry Correia’s work now as a result of him calling an organization central to one of his series the “Grimnoir”. This is an organization supposedly founded by 19th Century European intellectuals, with a name that sounds like something thought up by a 12 year old DM’ing his first session of D&D. If he’d included a couple of throw away lines along the lines of “Yeah, we call ourselves that because it pisses off the old farts in Paris”, I could have accepted it, but apparently that’s the formal name if the organization. Stupid doesn’t begin to describe it.

    And that’s why you need someone without an emotional attachment to your writing to proofread it.

  532. Andrew_C: You don’t think 19th Century European intellectuals did puns or silly jokes? In an art exhibit I once saw a small French magazine (or perhaps pamphlet) from back then. Most of the page was blank, and the caption was along the lines of “A polar bear eating vanilla ice cream in a snow storm.”

  533. Holly crap!

    Andrew I do believe you overthink too much. It is an old style pulp Scifi story. It’s to be read and injoyed, not analized and critiqued. No writers perfect you can find supposed flaws in anything.

  534. Andrew, yes, I’m sure Larry is oh so glad to have your advice on writing since I’m sure your works are out selling his by the mile.

  535. I’ve had a feeling about this but couldn’t really articulate it. I saw it on display last DragonCon, when every freaking panel on one track seemed be all about gender identity and Marxist agitprop. One panelist kept proudly proclaiming her “progressive” politics and used her membership in 3(!) labor unions as a selling point for her work. I wanted to point out their revisionist history didn’t really fit well, and there was an equally valid (and less tedious) conservative/libertarian revisionist viewpoint. There is nothing wrong with non-anglo protagonists or examining these social issues (great scifi has always done that), but making it the central theme of the book with no plot is just more of that bad literature we were forced to read in school. Hopefully the market will work and dismal sales will drive the current gatekeepers out of the market and let a more diverse set of stories flourish again in mainstream scifi.

  536. Eric,
    As I read through these posts, what became clear is that you are discussing the tactics used as part of a larger strategy. Other commenters have outlined the particulars, but pointed it out to be one more front in a much broader war. No surprise that the culture war has come to SF like everywhere else, and you will be made to care. Special tactics are required to take over SF, as the fans are discriminating readers who insist that the departures from reality be at least plausable. How do you write SF for a large audience when “science” is decaying with forced propaganda poisoning it? Meanwhile the forced purging of traditional factors like binary sexuality or mandatory injection of progressive claptrap narratives is required to separate us from our pasts. Authors who refuse to bow must be marginalized lest their works, by comparison, show the rabbit turds for what they are. The rabbits will only continue to sell books to the public if the public buys into the garbage science. I may not have framed this the best way, but these factors are no doubt related.

    The crossover into this blog, especially by the authors, has been entertaining and informative at the same time.

  537. PapayaSF:

    I know European intellectuals do and did bad puns and jokes. It’s just that the European side if that organization is portrayed as being hidebound so I would imagine it having a ridiculously long, portentous sounding name in French or German which no-one actually uses except the French members. Something like Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français (the name of the French railways).

    But Grimnoir is so daft, that without explanation it ruins my sense of immersion. Which is a great pity as I enjoy Larry Correia’s works (I especially loved the redneck elves and Cossack Orcs in the MHI books). And as I mentioned, I now find myself approaching his work critically, instead of just being able to enjoy it. Which is rather annoying.